The US military will launch its own news service in Iraq and Afghan-istan to send military video, text and photos directly to the Internet or news outlets.
The $6.3m project, called Digital Video and Imagery Distribution System, and expected to begin operating in April, is one of the largest military public affairs projects in recent memory, and is intended to allow small media outlets in the US and elsewhere to bypass what the Pentagon views as an increasingly combative press corps.
Just cutting out the middleman. Why bother trying to manipulate private news agencies into telling your version of the story when you can just create your own news agency. Easy peasy.
And the word "combative" up there is a typo. It must be, because... well, it's just gotta be.
It's been quite some time since I actually cared about the Academy Awards. I think I started losing interest as early as high school, primarily because the awards show itself was only entertaining for brief moments of its seven-hour span. Categories no one cared about, lousy musical numbers, awkward/forced patter between bizarrely coupled presenters, and Billy Crystal, who contrary to popular belief, is not really very funny.
I further lost interest in the things with the proliferation of awards shows. For quite some time, you just had the Big Three, the Oscars for movies, the Grammies for music, and the Emmies for TV. Then they added in the Golden Globes and the Peoples Choice Awards and the Billboard Awards and the American Music Awards and the Screen Actors Guild Awards and the Independent Spirit Awards and probably a half dozen I forgot, diluting any importance from those first three (if indeed they had any importance in the first place).
And then I started learning about how these awards are selected in the first place. I think I first got suspicious when AMAs started. Academy awards are selected by the Academy, the Peoples Choice Awards were selected by the people, who the hell picked the American Music Awards? Suddenly all of this stuff was very suspect.
For the Oscars, I guess I'd always assumed that the Academy was a handful of prestigious movie folks who would gather together and select winners, like a cinematic Supreme Court. Not so.
The Academy is made up of more than 6000 people who are in some way affiliated with the movie business. While some of these 6000 put much consideration into making selections on their ballots, others don't. For example, I met a guy back in college who's dad was a member of the Academy. He told me that every year when his father got his ballot, he gave it to his kids to fill out.
I've also seen interviews with comedian Dennis Leary in which he claimed that on his ballot, he first voted for movies he was in, then movies his friends were in, then movies that his friends' spouses were in, then for movies with hot women in them.
I'm not sure which should be more disillusioning, the Academy children voting, Dennis Leary's method of selecting winners, or the fact that Dennis Leary is considered good enough to be a member of the Academy.
So that's the Oscars (and by extension, most entertainment awards): a bunch of people you don't know, vote to honor the artistic achievements of a bunch of other people you don't know.
Hooray for Hollywood.
I kept my "welcome" message at the top of the blog for a full week to maximize visibility, but now we return to our regularly scheduled program.
Sigh. It looks as though the southern California grocery strike might be over. I'll wait till I get more details, but it doesn't look like the grocery workers make out very well. I'll call my striking grocery contact tomorrow and see what's up. Maybe I'll have him on my show on Monday too, we'll see.
I was going through some old files and folders on my computer looking for a history book satire I wrote back in the mid-90s, and ran across several other pieces I'd forgotten I'd ever written (in fact, there're a few that I'm not sure I did write). I'm still looking for that history piece, but here's a little taste of what I ran across.
Around the time that Ann Landers died, I had the idea of writing a fake advice column like Ann's, but with all the answers coming from uber-Christian proto-fascist John Ashcroft. Frankly, the only reason I wanted to write the column at all was so that I could include two gags about his weird patriotic songs. Ashcroft got some media attention for his song "Let the Mighty Eagle Soar", but I just wanted to have a reply from Ashcroft which referred to his latest tune, "Eat Holy Cleansing Fire, You Muslim Infidels" and his ground-breaking rap tune "That Islamic Fundamentalism Is Whack, Yo".
So I didn't really have the energy, or enough material, to make this project go, so all I have are the rough ideas above, and this partial column below. Enjoy.
Dear John Ashcroft,
I am a 17 year old boy from Boise, and I have been dating a wonderful girl for the past 7 months. She is beautiful and charming, and we are deeply in love.
My problem is that we spend a lot of time together, and I am ashamed to say that I am having sinful thoughts. We are both dedicated Christians, and both plan to save ourselves for marriage, but we both feel that we are far too young to be married.
These thoughts and urges are becoming very powerful, yet my faith is strong. What’s a Christian to do?
Frustrated and Faithful.
Dear Frustrated and Faithful,
I certainly understand your dilemma. My wife Janet and I dated for several years before we were wed. I had not dated until I met her, and had managed to stave off sin by beating my erect penis with a hardback Bible. However, this treatment was not enough once I began spending more time with my beloved Janet. Speaking with some of my acquaintances who were more experienced with romance, I learned that another useful technique was to pour something called "DDT" down the front of one’s pants. Yessir, you could always feel DDT working, killing away sinful thoughts and feelings as though it were some kind of poison to them. But unfortunately for you, F&F, DDT is no longer available.
Confidential Reply to "Confused in Oklahoma":
I condemn thee! I condemn thee to Hell!
Anarchists are a diverse lot. They range from aggressive punks who demand an immediate destruction of most of Western civilization, to smiling hippy-types who feed the homeless in parks on weekends. The central belief of anarchists is that all power and all responsibilities should be shared among all people, not concentrated in the hands of governments or corporations. And while I know that many people will immediately jump up and yell that anarchy could never work, I can only respond with "how's that capitalism working out for ya?" I don't intend that to "prove" that anarchy is superior to capitalism, just trying to point out that all human social systems are going to have problems because they, well, involve humans. We suck.
Anyhow, no matter what their particular flavor or disposition, all anarchists are banned from the state of Rhode Island.
Well, I'm being a trifle melodramatic. By "all anarchists", I mean "any person ... willfully teach[ing] or advocat[ing] anarchy ... or opposition to organized government or any person who shall willfully become a member of or affiliated with any organization teaching and advocating disbelief in or opposition to organized government." And by "banned" I mean "shall be punished by a fine of not more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or imprisonment not exceeding ten (10) years, or both." And by "the state of Rhode Island" I mean "the state of Rhode Island, if it passes the governor's proposed homeland security act."
The bill does seem to have plenty of legitimate concerns regarding terrorism and weapons of mass destruction and all (well, as relevant as those concerns can be to fucking Rhode Island), but tosses anarchists into the mix for no apparent reason. As you can see here RI anarchists are involved in such terroristical activities as organizing presentations about US policy towards Colombia, and supporting the unionization of local health care workers.
The one upside here is that the governor apparently withdrew the bill a few days back, but plans on "tweaking" and reintroducing it later. One would hope that the new bill wouldn't, y'know, criminalize an entire political philosophy.
Excellent interview in the LA Weekly with Karen Kwiatowski, former Lieutenant Colonel in the US military and desk officer in the Defense Department's office for Near East South Asia (NESA). Basically, she was an intelligence office at the Pentagon working on Middle East issues at the time of the run up to the Iraq war, and dealt frequently with the notorious Office of Special Plans (OSP).
She was appalled by the way that the neoconservatives in the OSP were manipulating intelligence and propagandizing the Pentagon itself in order to get their war. She began to write anonymous columns about the situation which were posted on several internet sites, and then she finally quit the Pentagon altogether to speak out about this "neoconservative coup" back in March of 2003.
Read the whole interview, it's good stuff. But I'm going to highlight Kwiatowski's explanation for the Iraq war, the reasons that the neocons wanted to invade the country, as they differ somewhat from my own interpretation:
There were three reasons why [the neoconservatives] felt the U.S. needed to topple Saddam, put in a friendly government and occupy Iraq.
One of those reasons is that sanctions and containment were working and everybody pretty much knew it. Many companies around the world were preparing to do business with Iraq in anticipation of a lifting of sanctions. But the U.S. and the U.K. had been bombing northern and southern Iraq since 1991. So it was very unlikely that we would be in any kind of position to gain significant contracts in any post-sanctions Iraq. And those sanctions were going to be lifted soon, Saddam would still be in place, and we would get no financial benefit.
The second reason has to do with our military-basing posture in the region. We had been very dissatisfied with our relations with Saudi Arabia, particularly the restrictions on our basing. And also there was dissatisfaction from the people of Saudi Arabia. So we were looking for alternate strategic locations beyond Kuwait, beyond Qatar, to secure something we had been searching for since the days of Carter — to secure the energy lines of communication in the region. Bases in Iraq, then, were very important — that is, if you hold that is America’s role in the world. Saddam Hussein was not about to invite us in.
The last reason is the conversion, the switch Saddam Hussein made in the Food for Oil program, from the dollar to the euro. He did this, by the way, long before 9/11, in November 2000 — selling his oil for euros. The oil sales permitted in that program aren’t very much. But when the sanctions would be lifted, the sales from the country with the second largest oil reserves on the planet would have been moving to the euro.
The U.S. dollar is in a sensitive period because we are a debtor nation now. Our currency is still popular, but it’s not backed up like it used to be. If oil, a very solid commodity, is traded on the euro, that could cause massive, almost glacial, shifts in confidence in trading on the dollar. So one of the first executive orders that Bush signed in May  switched trading on Iraq’s oil back to the dollar.
To sum up, Kwiatowski claims that the Iraq war was about contracts, military bases, and protecting the dollar against the euro.
For months now, I've been arguing that the invasion of Iraq was step one in a neocon plan to achieve a revamped Middle East, with all governments obedient to (or at least friendly towards) the US government. Kwiatowski's version varies from mine, and seems more based upon shorter term, more concrete goals. I'll have to look into the matter some more and see if maybe I need to reconfigure my understanding of the neocons and the conflict.
First of all, thanks for all the compliments on the new site design. To those of you having trouble with viewing it, it seems that most of you are using older versions of Internet Explorer (below v6.0). Web guru Mark recommends the following:
A quick fix for now is to go to http://www.favelets.com and follow the instructions to use the "Toggle CSS style sheets" favelet.
Using that will toggle the stylesheets off (which causes those issues on smaller screen), and make the site more readable for those having trouble.
And personally, I recommend that everyone simply drop whatever browser they're using and download Firefox. It's fast, blocks most pop-up ad windows, and I'm just now learning the joys of of tab-browsing. Also, Firefox views the new LMB just fine.
I posted a short piece about Haiti recently, and due to my own ignorance on the subject, invited others to do a bit of research and share their findings. A couple folks did, but posted their findings over at the old site. I'm reposting them here for better visibility.
From what I gather, it's no black-and-white issue. Aristide is a "left" nationalist with all the baggage that implies. He came to power as a so-called "man of the people." It seems to be a classic story of a leftist nationalist selling his country out by turning to U.S. imperialist intervention when his social reforms (contained within the Haitian power structure) failed miserably (Haitian Gray Davis?). Aristide became a junior partner of the U.S. in looting the Haitian population of its wealth.
There is no doubt popular discontent with Aristide and his government, but the opposition seems to be a gang of rival right-wing thugs seeking to replace one tyranny for another, given that an infamous sweatshop owner and black-market gangsters are at the forefront of this "opposition." It's all too typical that popular outrage is channeled away from any progressive solutions and through backwards, reactionary lines. This seems to be the case here as well.
The U.S. elites would be on the fence about this, no doubt. Do they support precarious ally Aristide or deal with the right-wing opposition, which may benefit them economically, but politcally, may cast them in a bad light?
Unless there is a progressive solution inititated by the Haitian population itself, there doesn't seem to be any good that will come out of this.
And from James R MacLean, rebutting Eric somewhat:
"It seems to be a classic story of a leftist nationalist selling his country out by turning to U.S. imperialist intervention when his social reforms (contained within the Haitian power structure) failed miserably (Haitian Gray Davis?). Aristide became a junior partner of the U.S. in looting the Haitian population of its wealth."
No it wouldn't, actually. (The Gray Davis analogy is so bizarre I can't imagine what was meant by that.)
I've spent rather a while tracking down the gist of the complaints agianst Aristide and they boil down to this: after 20,000 US Marines occupied the country between 1994 and 1997, then handed it over to the civilian government and demanded that he impose order and cleanliness they could not.
I seldom agree with Zmag because I've seen too many cases where they showed no discrimination in the causes they embrace, but this excerpt you have is quite good. The Famnie Lavalas (FL) had been elected with 67% of the vote and it inherited a terrorized, brutalized, and massively armed vigilante constituency. Reining them in was to prove beyond the agency of Aristie, and of course he can't just order a country to disarm when 20,000 marines couldn't and the FRAPH junta didn't. Your humble poster has observed several far-right web sites accusing FL/Aristide of creating armed gangs, which is absurd--Haiti's been heavily armed and dominated by vigilantes for decades.
The "political opposition" to Aristide was dominated by ex-FRAPH people or collaborators. For completeness, the old OPL--the original Lavalas Party--also represents a rival party which contested the electoral victories of 10 senators in 2002. The right-left split involves the "leftist" Aristide calling for civil services like water, drains, and so on; the "right" are demanding that Haitian fortunes be tax-free (income is extremely highly concentrated; the neoliberal model of economic development has manifestly failed since all rents and profits made in Haiti are repatriated outside of the country).
This is the first I've heard of Aristide looting the nation of its wealth.
Again, I don't know enough to verify any of that. I think I'm going to interview my friend JG about the issues next week on my radio show. JG is of Hatian decent, very politically-minded, and part of the Florida hip-hop duo Over the Counter Intelligence. Or barring an actual interview, he promises to send me some links to more info.
In response to my post about the recent race riots in the Redfern district of Sydney, Stuart Graham sent me this link from the Sydney Morning Herald, a collection of black and white photographs of Redfern and its residents. At once vibrant and bleak.
And finally, some folks have been criticizing my "get Bush out of the White House, even if it means voting Democrat" stance, taking the "both parties are pretty much the same" point of view. While I largely agree, I do think that the Bush administration's foreign policy under the necons is a significant change. Both parties seek American dominance over all other nations, but with a slight difference in tactics. The Democratic stance is "American supremacy, by any means necessary." The necon Republican stance is "American supremacy, by force." The Democrats are willing to entertain other means of persuasion, while the Bushies have dropped all their gear 'cept their shootin' irons.
The Hip Hop Show
A Tribe Called Quest- Excursions
Asian Dub Foundation- Buzzin'
Black Eyed Peas- Weekend
Lauryn Hill- The Mystery of Iniquity
Eazy E- We Want Eazy
The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy- Hipocrisy is the Greatest Luxury
Rage Against the Machine- Mic Check
Eminem- Snookered (mashup)
Styles of Beyond- Bleach
Kool Moe Dee- Work
50 Cent- In Da Club
MC Lyte- Cha Cha Cha
Paris- Spilt Milk
Panjabi MC- Soundz of the Des
LL Cool J- Going Back to Cali
Brother Ali w/ Slug- Blah Blah Blah
Princess Superstar- Fuck the Phone / Super Fantasy
Eric B & Rakim- Mohagany
Quarashi- Stick Em Up
The Coup- Funk
Hmm, we're having some technical glitches over at Kill Radio, so I'm not sure if I can do my show today or not. I'll give it a shot. Worse cast scenario, you should be able to tune in by going to this page and clicking on "tune in". Unfortunately, you will need a high-speed (faster than 56K) connection to hear it.
The Peak Show
The California Navels
Mash Up Soundsystem
Silver Lake Lounge
2906 Sunset Blvd.
Doors open at 8pm
$0 (but we'll be begging for money throughout. And selling baked goods)
I'll be manning the Kill Radio table, come say hello.
Props to Michele for putting all this together, despite the fact it will probably make her head explode.
So apparently Ralph Nader is running for president. And this matters because...?
Seriously, who's going to vote for Nader? Most folks I know who voted for Nader did so because:
a) they felt that Gore and Bush were pretty much the same
b) they felt that Gore was definitely going to win
c) they wanted to help build a viable third party (the Green Party)
d) they truly felt that Nader was the best candidate
And really, those first three reasons are now gone. Pretty much everyone with mildly liberal credentials hates Bush more than they pine for a Third Party. On top of that, since Nader isn't even running as part of the Green Party, there is no party-building going on.
How many votes is Nader going to pull away from the Democratic party? How many independent-to-socalist voters are so fervently pro-Nader that they'll risk another four years of Bush insanity? Hell, without Green Party infrastructure, in how many states will he even get registered on the ballot?
Nader's main point seems to be that no matter which candidate takes the White House, corporations win. And he's right. But in this campaign, it seems that one corporate-backed candidate will engage in less war-monging than the other corporate-backed candidate. And that's the best I can hope for right now.
Jeez, I'd never heard this before (keep in mind that "casualties" means refers to both deaths AND wounds):
During 1990 and 1991, some 696,778 individuals served in the Persian Gulf as elements of Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. Of these, 148 were killed in battle, 467 were wounded in action, and 145 were killed in accidents, producing a total of 760 casualties, quite a low number given the scale of the operations. As of May 2002, however, the Veterans Administration reported that an additional 8,036 soldiers had died and 159,705 were injured or ill as a result of service-connected "exposures" suffered during the war. Even more alarmingly, the VA revealed that 206,861 veterans, almost a third of General Norman Schwarzkopf's entire army, had filed claims for medical care, compensation, and pension benefits based on injuries and illnesses caused by combat. After reviewing the cases, the agency has classified 168,011 applicants as "disabled veterans." In light of these deaths and disabilities, the casualty rate for the first Gulf War may actually be a staggering 29.3 percent. -[emphasis mine]
- The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic by Chalmers Johnson
It's an excellent book so far, I'd recommend checking it out.
My favorite: "Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall."
"Sex and the City", the popular HBO program that I have never watched, is airing its final episode this Sunday.
Last night, news of the show's departure got a segment on "CNN's "Wolf Blitzer Reports" (where he interviewed show creator Darren Star), and a panel discussion predicting the show's final plot twists on CNN's "Newsnight with Aaron Brown".
The show received this repeated coverage on CNN because of its importance to American culture, not because both HBO and CNN are owned by the same corporation (Time Warner). And you would be a fool and a Communist to suggest otherwise.
[Thanks to DAMFACRATS]
Excellent and fucking appalling catch by Billmon this morning:
To be honest, it looks as though that article can only document two actual apartheid-era jackboots in Iraq, but notes that the mercenary company they work for was set up by "former South African security officials" and presumes that more work there.
Here's some more background on the individuals involved. Notice how the South African paper reports that one of these fellows "worked closely with ... the notorious Vlakplass death squad."
"Now wait a second Jake, did you say 'mercenary company' a few paragraphs ago?"
The US has been hiring "private security companies" to aid in various military conflicts in recent years. And I'm not talking about service contracts to feed troops like Halliburton, but actual soldiers on the ground to "advise", "guard", and "escort". These companies hire soldiers from around the globe to do the dirty work of their clients. The benefits to the clients (in this case, the United States) is that a) if one of the soldiers is killed, it doesn't go on the clients' body count, and b) since the company has a right to privacy (trade secrets and whatnot), the client can order shady military actions and not have to ever be held publicly accountable for it.
This is a growing, and largely ignored trend. We should keep an eye out.
The change wasn’t just a matter of prettying things up, it was about organizing the information in a better fashion, and about kicking myself in the ass a bit. Super loosely based on the efficient layout of Dack’s Rational Enquirer site.
Now, the guided tour:
First, the colors. It seems the standard for radical political websites is to use lotsa black and lotsa red, with small amounts of white if absolutely necessary. I wanted to use that as a starting point, but not to be shy about using white and gray. And for some reason, I had this feeling that it should also contain a yellow/orange/gold color, so I trusted my intuition and went with that. And as we cranked out some trial versions, we saw that the blacks and dark reds really weren’t so good for backgrounds, so the orange, white and gray kinda took over. So the black is text and outlines, the red makes some nice highlights.
We have our fantabulous logo by Quang Tang in the upper right. Many months ago, I asked people to submit some ideas for a potential LMB logo. I liked Quang’s best. Thanks to everybody who sent me something. Some of you I never got back to. Sorry, I suck.
Right below the logo, are an easy search prompt and a pull-down menu for all my radio show playlists. No fuss, no muss. Then a new description of what LMB is, followed by my email address. Replace the “+at+” with the @ symbol and you can email me. I wrote it that way to avoid spammers, of course, but I’ve been surprised that some of my readers haven’t been able to determine that that string of characters is my email address. If you want to write me, that’s how you do it.
The left-hand column is the main blog that you’re used to. News, politics, analysis, and assorted absurdities. Also, based on your responses to my posts about my mother’s death, I got the impression that some of you really appreciated that openness, and wanted to connect with me on a more personal level than is usually contained in my posts. And I admit, I do like the idea of not being confined so tightly to topics of political opinion. So I figure I’ll occasionally unbuckle a corner of this armor and show a little skin before suiting up again to tilt at windmills.
The main reason I redesigned the site was because something bothered me. It’s called “Lying Media Bastards”, but I’d often go long spells without a single post relating to the media. To rectify this, I’ve added a box on the right where all the media-related articles will go (they won’t appear in the main body of the blog). Hopefully such a prominently placed (and prominently dated) media news section will goad me into keeping y’all more updated on transpirings in the media world.
Lots of links on the right, including a vastly improved set of news links, a fairly impressive list of media industry news links, blogs, political columnists, comics, etc.
There's a new section for inspiring or amusing political quotes, aimed at getting your ass motivated to fight the power (the link below the quote itself will lead to an ever-growing archive of such quotes).
The Snapshots section is new as well, intended to give me a little more freedom to be non-political. As a writer, my brain is always in gear, putting thoughts and experiences into words, whether I want it to or not. I guess this section will be kind of experimental, just superbrief thoughts and passages I find myself mentally writing as I go about my days.
Then you’ve got the archives, if you want to read old LMB stuff. All the posts and comments from the old LMB site should be there, except the media-related posts. Those you can find my clicking on "more media news" at the bottom of the "media news" box. We might need to find a better way to arrange that.
And later, I plan on posting reviews of books, movies, music, video games, etc. These links will appear below the archives. The reviews of political books might be very helpful to y’all, the other media less so. But dammit, as an obsessive writer and lover of movies, music and video games, we’ll see what comes up.
There are still probably bugs and glitches here and there, so please notify me by email if you find any. We’ll try to get em fixed.
Hopefully in the near future we’ll have some LMB t-shirts. A generous Kill Radio colleague made a silk screen of Quang's LMB logo some months back. Just gotta get the screen back from him and buy some non-sweatshop shirts, then I'll screen em by hand. Probably orange or red on black, maybe vice versa. I don’t expect I’ll sell many, but it’d be nice having folks walking around sporting the team colors.
Gotta give tons of thanks to my volunteer web saviors Quang Tang and Mark McLaughlin. Mark, who used to run the official Rage Against the Machine website with me, did much of the layout and coding for the new site. Quang did the logo, additional layout and coding, and is hosting the site on his servers out of the goodness of his heart. He runs the webhosting company NiceDream.net. Thanks Mark and Quang! Hire them and make them rich.
And thanks to everyone for reading. As an obsessive writer, I would have typed up a lot of this stuff anyway, but the fact that many of you find my stuff informative, important and enjoyable on top of that makes me feel good about making the effort.
Yes, I’m sure some of you are going to hate the new site format (you can't ever please everyone). Sorry, you’ll just have to get used to it. It’s still substance over style, you just get a lot more pretty to go with your substance.
[note: I'll keep this post up at the top of the page for about a week to make sure I greet all the first-time viewers of the new set-up. New articles will appear just below this entry for the next several days, then the site will resume as normal]
As soon as I open the door, that cat's gonna get loose in the apartment, I just know it will.
9pm- Play "Manhunt", video game where you stalk and murder gang members
10pm- "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy"
11pm- "The Simpsons"
Carrots = tasty
While on the topic of rarely discussed topics, here's another great read about a riot in Australia. On Sunday, police chased a young Aborigine boy to his death, and his community rose up. The article describes that specific situation, and then goes wider to discuss the massive problem of anti-Aborigine racism in Australia, a subject which is apparently kept quiet there among the white citizenry (probably like anti-Black or anti-Indian racism here in the States).
I feel kinda odd highlighting that article as "a great read" when it's so damn depressing.
Unfortunately, I don't know enough about Haiti to put the recent news events there into context. Pretty much all my knowledge about the country comes from this chapter of the book Killing Hope. Long story short, Haiti faced dictatorships from the 50s through the 80s, overthrew the dictator, elected Jean Bertrand-Aristide, a man who seemd to truly care about the country's poor and set about reforming the country as best he could, and was then forced into exile in a military coup. What follows is a little fuzzy to me, but it seems as though the US (who seem to have abetted the coup in the first place) offered to return Aristide to power, if he agreed to a number of US demands. And since then, I've heard nothing positive said about Aristide. Don't know what to make of it.
Fast forward to the present. It seems that gangs of thugs are taking over Hatian cities, claiming that they are anti-Aristide and want to overthrow his government.
So my questions are:
1) What's up with Aristide? Was he truly the compassionate man he originally made himself out to be? Did he turn bad? Is he bad now, or am I just hearing one biased version of events? What do the people of Haiti think about Aristide right now?
2) Are these gangs truly revolutionaries, or are they petty thugs hungry for power?
3) Is the US involved in this at all? That might sound a bit conspiracy-theory to some of y'all, but the US has a long, dark history of interfering in Latin America. It's almost naive to assume that the US has nothing to do with Haiti right now.
4) Is this going to turn into an international incident?
I'd like to research this further, but I just don't have the time at the moment. If someone else wants to dig and report back, that'd be nice.
Just discovered a Haiti-centric blog, Haiti Pundit, which seems to have all kinds of news, background and links.
This is the arsonist in your house telling you that stranger outside with the hose can't be trusted.
Are More Bidders Waiting to Pounce?- about the biggest news story of the moment, the potential Disney-Comcast merger. It would create the largest media company in the world, beating out AOL-Time Warner (well, I guess it's just called Time Warner now). Disney refused Comcast's $47 billion-ish bid, more or less demanding another $7 billion. Will Comcast agree? And if they don't, asks this article, how are other media outlets likely to react? Does a good job of displaying the complicated chess moves of this industry.
Mega Media Mergers: How Dangerous?- from that leftist rag "Business Week," another examination of the Disney-Comcast thing, but with a broader view of the effects of media oligopolies. I like their quote on the subject from John McCain, "At some point, you'll have many voices -- and one ventriloquist."
British government considering dismantling BBC- yipes! The BBC has always managed to do some pretty good, impartial news reporting, despite the fact that it is fully funded by the British government. But the Blair regime is pissed at the way that the BBC opposed the Iraq war and exposed scandal within the administration. In the wake of the whitewashing Hutton report, which shifts blame of Iraq-intelligence-related scandal from Downing Street to the BBC, the Blair government is pondering fragmenting the BBC into several regional media outlets, stripping away some of its funding, and giving a government watchdog power to control final BBC content. Not good.
Miller Time (Again)- followup article to last week's Now They Tell US, criticizing the pre-Iraq war news media. This particular article focuses on NYT reporter Judith Miller, who parroted many false WMD claims from the shady Iraqi National Congress and other Iraqi defectors. Oddly, Miller's definition of "investigative journalism" seems to be "to report what people in power think about a situation" rather than reporting about the situation itself.
Wake-Up Time- nice piece by a couple of liberal/progressives who outline some simple ways that journalists can take back the power that they relinquished to the White House post-9/11.
Echo Effect: A New Generation Of Media Users, Ad Distrusters- results of a poll of Americans ages 12-17 (irritatingly dubbed by big business "Echo Boomers". They're children of Baby Boomers, an "echo" of the "boom", get it?) by a market research firm about their attitudes towards media and life. And to my delight, it finds that "82% are skeptical about the accuracy of the news media" and that less than a third don't trust any form of advertising (well, they say they don't, anyway). Right on, my young brothers and sisters.
Deluxx Folk Implosion-Daddy Never Understood
White Stripes- Little Room
The Coup- Pimps
Dead Kennedys- MTV Get Off the Air
Coil- Love's Secret Domain
Meryn Cadell- Johnny and Betty
Elvis Presley- Are You Lonesome Tonight? (live out-take)
Tricky- Sex Drive
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club- Suddenly
DJ Dangermouse- Change Clothes (Grey Album)
Bad Religion- Turn on the Light
Juan Esquivel- Mucha Muchacha
Probot (w/ Lemmy)- Shake Your Blood
Print em out, give em to your sweetie and/or that ass who dumped you by email.
The numbers are surely changing as I type this, but between Thursday morning and Saturday morning, 665 homosexual couples have gotten married across the U.S., often in flagrant violation of the law.
It's part of the most socially benign form of civil disobedience: peacefully breaking an unjust law to oppose it and point out how ridiculous it is. The anti-gay-marriage laws are stupid, no one's getting hurt in this mass protest, and lots of hugging, kissing, and long loving gazes are taking place.
On top of that, this is the first mass activism I have seen by the gay community in quite some time.
I am ambivalent on the issue of gay marriage only because I am ambivalent on the issue of marriage. Is it really a good idea? Seems to me that since all humans change over time, that very few pairs of humans are going to remain in love and compatible to death do they part. But if you want to give it a shot, I say go for it.
But I fervently reject the underlying argument against gay marriage, which is essentially that homosexuals are less than human and therefore do not deserve the same rights, respect or treatment of "real" humans. My brother predicts that one day we'll look back on this the way we look back with disgust and bewilderment at the Jim Crow South. I think he might be right.
Of course, the issue of gay marriage has little to do with marriage, no matter what the conservatives tell you. It's about feelings about homosexuality, feelings about homosexual sex, gender roles, and a particular interpretation of Judeo-Christian texts. I could elaborate, but I think y'all know the steps to this song and dance.
My ony addition is that the Bible says a lot of things, and that some people would read the whole thing and decide to focus their life's work on flogging the passage condeming gay sex says more about the traits of the person who selected those issues than about the religion. While there are surely some occasions where a person might adopt an anti-gay agenda because they read a passage in the Bible, but I imagine there are many more who hate gays and find personal strength and justification in those few Bible passages. And as far as I'm concerned, those people can fuck right off.
Conservatives have begun (continued?) to bash away at John Kerry in the oddest of ways: trying to connect him to Jane Fonda. I'm sure that plenty of you don't understand why they'd do that, and that's why I think that this tactic is destined to fail.
During the Vietnam (Indochina) war(s), actress Jane Fonda was a vocal opponent of the US invasion, and in her most outrageous action, she visited North Vietnam in 1972 and spoke out against the US and in favor of the North Vietnamese cause. She has since publicly apologized several times, maybe sincerely, maybe not, I don't know. It seems to me that the public considered her a traitor or an idiot.
But modern anger against her runs deep (if not that wide). Whenever I would take my mother to a doctor's appointment, there was always an aging, faded Buick in the parking lot with matching front and back bumper stickers that read: I'm Not Fonda Hanoi Jane. And I kid you not, just this morning as I drove around thinking about this issue, I saw a pick-up truck with the bumper sticker: Boycott Jane Fonda - American Traitor Bitch.
Conservatives have found a and spread a photograph of an 1970 anti-war rally featuring Jane Fonda in the foreground, with someone who is probably John Kerry about three or four rows behind her and off to one side.
See, see! John Kerry's a traitor just like Jane Fonda.
Taking it one step further, they're also distributing a fake, photoshopped picture of Fonda and Kerry sharing a podium together, allegedly at an anti-war rally. As that link shows, the photo was doctored, taken from a solo shot of Kerry at a podium, and with a photo of Fonda pasted in.
Sigh. A lot of people are going to be taken in by that.
The point is to highlight John Kerry's opposition to the Vietnam war after he returned from duty there, in an attempt to counter his "military cred."
One problem with the specific strategy: people my age and younger think of Jane Fonda as that 80s workout video chick, not as some traitor from the Age of Aquarius. We're likely to think that Kerry and Fonda are speaking out at some sort of protest about aerobics or something, leaving said military cred intact.
The other Kerry attack is a fairly unsubstantiated report from King of the Rumormongers Matt Drudge, which claims that Kerry had an affair. Maybe that story has some backing, maybe not, maybe it'll take off, maybe it won't, but I do appreciate this article pre-empitvely mocking journalists who might choose to pretend that this rumor is an important story.
I don't put much faith in polls, but these numbers made me feel good inside.*
In a random nationwide survey, 1003 adults were asked this question (among many others):
Before the war began, do you think the George W. Bush administration did or did not intentionally exaggerate its evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction?
"Yes, they did exaggerate"- 54%
"No, they did not exaggerate"- 42%
(margin of error +/-3%)
There're a lot of other comforting numbers in there, about declining support for and trust in President Bush, but that set above is what is most meaningful to me. The White House and their trained parrots in the media have been telling a bunch of warmongering lies and half-truths about Iraq for almost two years now, and the public always bought it. Now, finally it seems like my fellow Americans are getting their skepticism back. These numbers could be inaccurate, and they could always swing back the other way with the proper media twist, but for now, I feel kind of at peace.
*washingtonpost.com has just instituted mandatory (free) registration to see articles on their website. If you want to see this piece, you've got to register with them and give them far too much personal info. I suggest lying.
What Causes Rape? Anatomy of a rape culture is a very good post over at Alas, A Blog. It looks at the three key concepts/themes/attitudes in American culture that shape men in such a way that some feel driven to rape, or that raping women (or men for that matter) is not a big deal.
I'm trying to describe the article so that it doesn't sound as though the author is exonerating men of responsibility for their actions, because he isn't. Maybe I can make an analogy that the author "blames" culture for some men committing rape in a similar way you can "blame" culture for some women becoming bulimic. The beliefs and values of the culture at large lead some people to feel that these pathological actions are both necessary and acceptable, when they're not.
And, since the Alas blog is such a debate/discussion-oriented site, you can already see plenty of discourse in the comments. Join in, or comment here, either way.
Male readers, you should definitely go read it, as I think many men like to ignore the problem and pretend it isn't there. And like the old ACT UP slogan goes, "Silence = Death".
I really don't care much about the Bush-National Guard-AWOL story. We already know that Bush is a reckless liar who's gotten by on Daddy's money and connections, so the facts of this case don't interest me. But since it's becoming a media scandal that could take him down a few pegs in the polls, and maybe inform voters that he is a lying asshole, I have to give the investigation my support.
Calpundit seems ahead of the game in this story. If you want details, go check him out.
To any conservative readers who will accuse me of mudslinging or dirty politics, you might have a point. But this isn't about me wanting "my side" to win (I'm not a Democrat anyway). I truly believe the facts back me up when I say that Bush as president is doing incredible damage to the United States, and to the rest of the world. If reporters have to veer from covering the issues to digging through Bush's sordid past to get his ass thrown out of office, so be it.
And in related news, oft-cynical columnist Geov Parrish truly believes that Bush is going to lose this election. Why? Because this election won't be about Bush vs. Democratic Contender X, but Bush vs. Bush. In 2000, he was a down-home, straight-talkin', charming conservative that no one knew much about. In 2004, his media-clumsy self is going to be on TV every day, trying to stumble through explanations of why he attacked an unarmed country, lost 2 million jobs, and drove the American economy into the crapper (yes, I'm aware that the idea that the president controls the job market or economy is arguable, but tell that to the voters). Don't know if I agree with Geov's optimism, but he makes a good case.
I really haven't ingested enough caffiene to be this jittery.
Jon Stewart of The Daily Show on Bush's Meet the Press appearance. It's a video clip of the whole segment, Quicktime format.
[thanks again to Oliver]
That link appears to have expired. I think it was personally captured video posted to a personal website to show to friends, and I guess they got tired of all these strangers visiting a non-public part of their site. But you can still view the clip (at least for now) at TheDailyShow.com and click on "Meet the Prez".
How do you say "Hmong" in Hmong?
(Sigh, no one's going to get that)
Can't find a transcript of this yet, but apparently Fox News pundit Bill O'Reilly was interviewed on Good Morning America today and said that he regretted giving the Bush administration's "Iraq's got weapons" claims the benefit of the doubt, apologized to his viewers for doing so, and said that he was now more skeptical of the current White House.
Although he did also say that he didn't think the president had lied, just that he gotten bad intelligence, y'know, the current Republican party line.
Well, maybe that's some kind of progress. Or, maybe continuing to support the "Iraq's got weapons" line was making O'Reilly look like a fool every single day he was on the air, and he didn't like that.
[thanks to Dong]
Two really insightful pieces about the news media and war.
Now They Tell Us- after David Kay's testimony that there were no WMD in Iraq, the press suddenly got somewhat aggressive, digging up the facts and pointing fingers. Well, just so long as none of those fingers point at themselves. But this article squarely aims dozens of fingers in their direction. Where the hell was all this skepticism and energy before the war started, when it, y'know, might have mattered? I mean, it wasn't hard to find the flaws in all the intelligence claims. I saw them somehow, and I don't have a fraction of the resources of a New York Times or a CNN. It wasn't just my skepticism or a nutty conspiracy theory; I looked at all the public evidence, thought about it, and realized that it didn't add up.
The article above describes the (print) media heroes, villains and victims in the drive to war. Mentions the pressures put upon journalists by the White House to fall in line, and the way that many newspapers actually covered the important stories, but buried them in the back where they wouldn't have any impact.
Judith Miller, one of the journalists criticized in the above piece, says that she was "misquoted and misrepresented" in the piece. For some reason, Miller's rebuttal appears solely in Women's Wear Daily. No, really.
A Lieutenant's Story- an anonymous letter sent to a pair of bloggers. The author claims to be a 1st Lieutenant with the Army, stationed in Baghdad, who sometimes works as a "public relations officer." I can't verify the truth of any of it, but let's momentarily take it at face value. The author's most interesting point is his claim that the media come to the event with their news story already written in their minds; they just show up to fill in the blanks of dates and names, and to capture video footage to go along with it. He says that Fox News was the worst about this, with a vary narrow and politically-biased list of topics that they wanted to cover, and considered everything else "not newsworthy." It sounds like a close runner-up for this biased newsgathering was Al Jazeera.
But jeez, coming to the frontlines with the stories already written? The concept of journalism is to find out what's going on and report it, not to shoehorn reality into your pre-formed mold. I remember some years back a reader wrote to me for an academic paper, and asked if I thought that journalists were really just "information packagers." I think I've got her answer.
You've probably seen this article someplace in the left-wing web world:
Basically, a federal prosecutor is demanding that Drake University turn over "records" about an anti-war event that happened back in November, and any information about the local chapter of the National Lawyers' Guild, an organization that does pro bono law work for progressive causes.
The government demanding information about people and groups with certain political beliefs... that ain't good.
This particular article has a tad more detail than I've seen in others, claiming that at a subsequent anti-war protest at nearby Camp Dodge military base, that some of the protesters may have trespassed.
Or, they're lying and they're gathering info on "subversives." Or maybe both.
Daily Kos has a positive update on the situation. Looks like the prosecutors realize how bad this makes them look and are taking steps, in a (mostly) good way.
In the past months, I've become a fan of comedian Margaret Cho. Not so much for her stand-up routines, but for her writing. Some times her topics are political, sometimes cultural, or sometimes very personal. Her style seems to swing from analysis, to personal diary, to hip hop. I really recommend making her blog a regular read.
Now Margaret is getting the Dixie Chicks treatment. She spoke her mind, and people who disagree with her politics have been attacking her ever since. Cho gets it bad, because she's Korean-American and a woman. So she gets the full gamut, from traitor to cunt to gook. And of course, that she should "go back where she came from" (which I believe, is Haight-Ashbury).
But she took it in stride. Posted this response, and then posted many of the hateful emails she got (including the sender's email addresses, heh).
And most recently, some conservatives in Houston tried to shut down one of Cho's comedy performances there. They wrote to the venue and said that if Cho was not removed from the bill, that their big contingent of 70ish people would picket the show. Which is of course their right, but still kinda silly. That's a common difference between the protests of leftist and rightists: they protest people because of what they say; we protest people because of what they do.
And again, no stoppin' Cho. She and her husband dressed up as, well, I dunno, winged hippies or hare krishnas or something, and joined in the anti-Cho protest.
In her post about the picket, Cho had this message for the protesters:
I want to hear what you have said to me, but before you do, look me in the eyes and tell me your name, what you do for a living, who your children are, what your mother called you when you were little, if you are married, if you are truly happy in this life and what your family is like, then word for word, repeat the emails that you have written to this figurehead in cyberspace that you do not consider a human being. I also would wish for you to hold my hands when you do it. You can say all the things that you have already told me I am - shall I remind you? Chink, dyke, hole, whore, pig fucker, telling me to go back to where I came from even though I am an American and was born here, fat, ugly, et al.
And that's really what it's all about, isn't it? When you're strangers, and when you don't have to see the other person's face, it's easy to lash out with all the easy hate, the ruthless slurs and threats and bullshit. But then, it's always easy to be a coward.
So cheers to Margaret. She fights the fools, and she wins.
During yesterday's Meet the Press interview, Bush claimed that he would "authorize the release of everything [documents] to settle" the matter of his questionable military record.
Today, at a White House press briefing:
Q I've got to ask you, too, about military records. The President committed yesterday to releasing additional records. Is there any effort by the White House, the RNC, the campaign to come up with new records, new notes --[emphasis mine]
MR. McCLELLAN: This issue, as the President pointed out, goes back to his first campaign for governor, it goes back to the 2000 campaign. You know, we made everything we had available during the 2000 campaign. I think that one of the things you can look at that will help address these questions is the annual retirement point summaries. And we previously made those available during the 2000 campaign. They show that the President fulfilled his duties, and that is why he was honorably discharged.
Q Every point summary is available -- payroll stubs --
Q Russert asked a more specific question, tax returns and payroll stubs, and the President's answer to that was, yeah.
MR. McCLELLAN: I don't think -- I think the President, like most Americans, does not have his tax returns from 33 years ago. In terms of pay stubs, during the 2000 campaign we checked with the Texas National Guard and they informed us that they did not have them. Obviously, if there's anything additional, we'll keep you posted.
Q You checked during the 2000 campaign, or you checked in recent days?
MR. McCLELLAN: We checked during the 2000 campaign, yes.
Q It's your interpretation, though, that everything that could be released has been released?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, everything we had we made available. And like I said, if there's more, we'll do our best to keep you updated on that.
Q But you're not looking for anything else at this point?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, if there's more that comes to our attention, we'll make sure we make that available.
So... the White House released some of Bush's paperwork back in 2000, and it wasn't enough to convince everyone. They claim that Bush's pay stubs and tax returns for that period can't be found, and that's the end of it. They're done looking for anything else that would exonerate Bush, but, if they should find any other relevant documents in the course of their not looking for relevant documents, they'll be sure to notify the press.
I'll bet McClellan cries himself to sleep at night, wishing he was half as slick as Ari Fleischer.
And you will too, after watching this hilariously twisted fake ad for Nutrigrain bars.
[link stolen from Oliver Willis]
Wow, Bush didn't do so good on Meet the Press this morning. Reading the transcripts, it doesn't seem much worse than his usual blathering, dodging and bullshitting, but if you watched him on the TV, he looked bad. And that's coming from conservatives.
Read the transcripts around noon, and before I could type a word of my own, was notified that the lefty Center for American Progress had already posted a "claim vs. fact" point by point rebuttal of Bush's interview.
Tim Russert was a little tougher on Bush than I would have guessed, asking some fairly tough questions. But Russert then sometimes let Bush get away, and didn't push harder. But not a bad performance on Russert's part, I'd give him a C+.
There was a lot of repetition about Iraq and the war on terrorism. And Bush fell back onto his old line, Iraq was a threat, so we had to invade them. Doesn't matter what kind of threat, nuclear, chemical, big, small, terrorism, whatever. Just a threat. And frankly, I think Bush believes his own rhetoric here. He seems a simple-minded man who was told that if Iraq was left alone, that we could have a nuclear-powered 9/11 at any time, and that he couldn't let that happen. And when he was told that the way to take care of the situation was to invade Iraq, he agreed. And, apparently, stopped thinking any deeper about the matter.
Then Russert challenged Bush about the allegations that he was AWOL during part of his time in the National Guard back in the 1970s. Bush tried to brush it aside, but his explanation didn't plug all the holes. He mainly said "I was honorably discharged, so I must've fulfilled my service," which doesn't necessarily work. He also said the he "worked it out" with the military so that he could leave his service 8 months early to go to business school. Which is kind of the point. As the son of a rich politician, you can work out deals. If you're not, you can't. And then Bush tried (with little success) to pretend that his critics were not questioning his patriotism or service, but were insulting the National Guard itself. They're not, and it would take quite a bit of re-writing history to make it seem that they were. But the Bush administration is pretty good at that, so give it some time.
The Russert brought up the economy, which is a fucking mess. There's a pretty good chance that Bush's economic policies are going to bring about the downfall of this country. One of the heads of the Senate budgetary committee has been saying lately that Bush is the most fiscally irresponsible president in American history. To which Bush responded with lines like "there is good momentum when it comes to the creation of new jobs" and "I think this economy is coming around just right, frankly." Then he told a bald-faced lie about how he's run a tighter budget than Clinton.
Russert rounded out the interview with questions about Bush being a divider and not a uniter, and confronting him with the possibility of facing John Kerry in the 2004 election campaign.
When asked about the biggest issues in the 2004 race, Bush responded:
Who can properly use American power in a way to make the world a better place, and who understands that the true strength of this country is the hearts and souls of the American citizens, who understands times are changing and how best to have policy reflect those times.
I would've gone with "jobs and health care," but yeah, I guess that other one is important too. Somehow.
I've got an idea. One night, when Bush isn't looking, let's all move to Australia.
A few questions for you all about the future of the site:
1) If I had links to archived versions of my radio show, would you listen to them? It would take some extra work on my part, but if enough folks were interested (and unable to listen during the live webcast), I could make the effort. I'm incredibly biased, but I do think it's a very good show.
2) Any interest in an LMB messageboard? I can probably get a forum in the Kill Radio messageboard where y'all could talk to each other about music, politics, news, etc.
3) Some weblogs have a "best of" list, where you can read some of the classic/favorite posts from the site's history. Any interest in LMB having one of those? And if so, are there any posts that stick out in your mind as particularly noteworthy?
I'm really tempted to end with a funny fake question here, but my intuition tells me that if I do, I'll get a dozen funny answers to the fake question and none to the real ones.
This should be damn interesting.
Tomorrow morning on "Meet the Press", George W. Bush will be interviewed for a whole hour, all by himself, by Tim Russert. Well, that's not entirely true, I believe they recorded the interview on Saturday.
Russert's in kind of a no-win situation here. If he asks the hard questions, he'll piss off the most powerful man in the country. If he does a fluff interview, his credibility will drop. He's probably going to tightrope-walk this thing.
The Nation's David Corn came up with a list of 8 questions that Russert could ask Bush, but they suck.
I've often thought about what I would ask if I were able to interview a top governmental person like this. I criticize journalists all the time, but what would I do in their shoes?
All I can think of is one question:
"Why should we believe anything you have to say?"
This isn't about Bush's own credibility or the Iraq weapons or anything like that. This is more general.
Politicians lie and everyone knows they lie. What good will it do to ask them any questions at all, if they're going to give false answers? Really, all questions follow from that. If someone can establish that they will be telling the truth, you can ask them a host of questions. If they can't, then you're wasting your time.
True, in a way, it's not so much a question as an accusation: "you're a liar." But I guess it's also a challenge, "prove me wrong." It gives the politician an opportunity to convince us that we should trust them. But I don't know that they'd ever succeed in that.
I won't watch the show (Bush makes me ill), but I'll read the transcripts and report back to you later.
I feel a bit of regret for posting my piece about the crazy Super Bowl Nipple Lawsuit. It's of course a funny story about a ludicrous event, but it plays into a popular myth that favors a harmful corporate agenda.
Rich folks and corporations have fanned the flames of the idea that America is a "sue-happy" nation, where anyone will slap you with a lawsuit at the drop of a hat for any reason. And that seems to get confirmed whenever we turn on the news and they tell us about another loony lawsuit.
The gold standard of frivolous lawsuit stories is the Woman Who Spilled the Coffee. You've heard it. Woman goes to McDonald's, buys a cup of coffee, spills the hot coffee in her lap, and sues the restaurant, when it's obviously her own fault. That story has been streamlined over the years for maximum absurdity, but when you look at the details, it's a much more gruesome story.
Long story short, that McDonald's was keeping its coffee at a temperature that will give you third-degree burns in two to seven seconds, and about 50 degrees (Farenheit) higher than the coffee you usally make at your house.
The unfortunate coffee-spiller of our story received third-degree burns over 6% of her body, was in the hospital for 8 days, and had to undergo skin grafts. She asked McDonald's to give her $20,000 to cover her medical costs, and they refused. And despite all the lurid claims of a multimillion dollar payout, it looks as though the elderly plaintiff received less than $600,000.
Sorry, the ignorance about that case is a pet peeve of mine.
But really, how many times have you been sued? And how many times have you sued someone else. How about your friends and relatives, have they sued or been sued on a regular basis? Of all of those cases, how many seemed unfounded to you?
Conservatives keep pushing this idea that frivolous lawsuits are epidemic and the root cause of all of our national ills, and that this country is in dire need of "tort reform." And tort reform is code for "price cap on lawsuits," so that no matter how awful a company's actions, no matter how badly a doctor butchers you, that the evil-doers in question don't have to pay too much money when they're found guilty.
Me bringing up the goofy Super Bowl case plays on this theme, as though there was a frivlous lawsuit around every corner, just begging for a good tort reform thrashing. That ain't so, and I'm sorry that I played into their hands.
Okay, one more story about the Supper Nipple, and we can be done. I hope. This story's just tangentially related anyhow.
To show how huge the Janet Jackson spectacle was, many news outlets reported that it was the most "rewound" moment in the history of TiVo, which gave everyone a hearty laugh.
Except for TiVo owners, who suddenly said "who the hell is tracking what I watch and rewind?"
But surely those newly-paranoid TiVo-ers will be soothed by these words from TiVo spokesman Scott Sutherland:
"I can understand people's concerns. But when weighted against reality, they are unfounded."
There. Feel better now?
What's the deal with cops and mustaches? Seriously.
Some weeks back, I meant to write a definitive post about the upcoming presidential elections. It was in response to the predictions, analysis and guesswork that are so ubiquitous around the blogosphere, people saying what Kerry or Dean or Clark "need to do" to get more voters and rack up the most votes. And I was going to essentially say "all of that stuff is nonsense. All that's going to matter in November is how the economy is doing, and whether or not Iraq is going badly. If both of those are positive, they'll vote for Bush. If not, they'll vote for the other guy." (and I was going to add that since the Republicans seem interested in making gay marriage a campaign issue, then whether or not the voters hate gay people was going to be a factor too).
The first guest was George Lakoff, who I studied quite a bit as a research assistant in grad school. He's a linguist who has tried to explain the different ways that American liberals and conservatives make moral judgements. In this interview, Lakoff more or less concluded that people would not be voting on issues or utilitarianism, but based upon their values and their feelings of personal identification with the candidates.
The second guest was Arlie Hochchild, who had written an article recently trying to explain why blue collar workers would support Bush, someone who so blatantly favors rich CEOs over everyday working people. I didn't quite understand what her article talked about, but the interview made more sense. She argues that working class men feel increasingly vulnerable and powerless, both in the real erosion of their economic and political power, and in the perceived encroachments by women (and in the case of white workers, by minorities). And rather than vote for the candidates that might be able to solve their problems, they opt for emotional satisfaction instead, voting for a candidate that lets them live out their macho fantasies, a fellow who'll kick a little ass in their name. The most ironic part of Hochchild's theory is that the policies of the macho candidates are often the very cause of the worker/voter's feelings of weakness and fear, which in turn, increase their desire to vote for a macho man. I don't know if I buy into the theory, but if it's true, it would mean that for aggressive candidates, hurting your constituents could actually help you in the polls.
So after having my own voter theories, and then hearing these two additional ones, I came to a conclusion so simple that it's stupid.
Different people choose who to vote for, for very different reasons.
The talking heads act as though there were only a few types of voter who each can only be appealed to by certain stances on certain issues. But this glut of ideas above would instead theorize that only some people will vote on issues, others will vote on candidate personality, or morality, or for emotional release, or a dozen other reasons.
Before spending too much time analyzing which political stances would appeal to which constituents, perhaps these pundits and analysts should first figure out how people are going to make their voting decisions in the first place.
In an unimaginable and totally predictable act of stupidity, Terri Carlin of Knoxville, Tennesee (home of the fabulous sunsphere), has filed a class action lawsuit against Janet Jackson's nipple. Or against CBS/Viacom, I forget. It's not important.
My favorite part is where the suit claims that the lewd and lascivious Super Bowl halftime show caused the millions who watched it to "suffer outrage, anger, embarrassment and serious injury." Serious injury? Apparently Jackson's nipple was not as benign as I thought. It must've jumped through people's TV screens and started bashing them on the head with candlesticks and whatnot.
Okay, that's a lie. That's not my favorite part of the lawsuit. My favorite part is when the plaintiff claims:
"because defendants knew that the Super Bowl and the Super Bowl half-time show would have a worldwide audience and knew that for much of the world, these events would reflect the standards and the reputation of Americans abroad, plaintiff and the members of the plaintiff class have been defamed by the defendants and have suffered injuries and damages to their reputations as Americans."
That might be the funniest lawsuit ever written.
"I've spent a lifetime defending the flag and the law. Maybe I should have battled less - and questioned more."
Look motherfucker, you don't need a Humvee.
Not at all.
Not even the pretty yellow one.
You're a dentist, not the right leg of Voltron.
Very good point made over at this blog here.
The post describes news coverage of yesterday's big primaries fiesta, and how the talking heads rambled on incessantly about who did well and how, and what this new landscape meant, and how Clark and Edwards were the guys to watch out for and Dean was like a big turd and so on. But mr. blogger notices that the news shows the total number of delegates each candidate has gotten so far-- which is probably the most important fact here-- for just a couple of seconds before they return to their random speculation and gossip. He said that he had to go look it up himself online to see it again. I did too, and even then, they don't make it easy for you.
Kerry- 262 delegates
Dean- 121 delegates
Edwards- 97 delegates
Clark- 80 delegates
Which means that for all the negative talk about Dean, he's actually in second place!!
And even this amount of information is fairly meaningless, as there're still dozens of primaries to go, and a candidate needs to get 2162 delegates to receive the official Democratic nomination.
In summation: thhpffft.
Oh yeah, the best news about yesterday's primaries is that Lieberman finally dropped out. Lieberman's "Yes Mr. President, Right Away Mr. President" platform, sermons about the evils of video games, and generally anti-Democratic message somehow failed to ignite the passions of Democrats. Man, I hate that guy.
Don't let the door hit your punk-ass on the way out, Joe.
Last year, back in the fall I think it was, there was talk of a new sheriff in town. David Kay was taking over as head US weapons inspector in Iraq, and the White House told us confidently that he would come back with results. This worried me, as it made it sound like he would find tiny scraps and spin it into evidence of an arsenal of terror, or that maybe he'd go ahead and plant evidence and come back with "proof" that the US invasion was justified and holy.
Imagine my surprise when Kay came back and announced that he'd found nothing, and that he didn't think that Iraq had any stockpiles of WMD (or WOS) since 1998, when weapons inspectors had destroyed much of Iraq's weapons supplies.
That surprise faded quickly after I heard Kay began attacking US intelligence.
Then it fell into place. Kay couldn't find anything, yet was still able to help out Bush and his pals by diverting the blame. Before anyone could point the finger at the White House for lying their way into war, Kay talked about a massive failure of America's network of spies and analysts. Therefore Bush & co. weren't liars and con men, they were responsible public defenders who'd done the best they could with faulty data. The problem wasn't dishonest leaders, it was incompetent spooks.
I'm sure the Bush administration would've like to have just let Kay's "no weapons here" testimony fade from memory along with his helpful diversionary tactic, but this issue was too hot. Politicians and media stupidly bought into Kay's line and called for an investigation into the intelligence agencies. And Bush agreed.
While Bush is announcing the this investigative team will be "independent" and "bipartisan", he conveniently gets to choose all of its members. And he's already managed to start blurring lines by announcing that it's not just about finding out what happened to Iraq intelligence, but about American intelligence about the global proliferation of WMD/WOS.
All of this can potentially be useful, of course. US intelligence did fuck up some, thinking that Iraq had some amount of chemical and biological weapons. They seem to have been wrong. And finding out how intelligence messed up, and coming up with ways for it to work better to protect us is not a bad idea.
But at the bottom of it all, I think people want this to be an investigation into "why the hell did we invade Iraq if it had none of these weapons?", and that's not the sort of investigation we're likely to get. Instead we'll get some half-assed thing about lack of communication between government branches and over-reliance on technology, tricksy Iraqi defectors, out-dated thinking, and ideological bias.
When we all know that Bush and his pals distorted, twisted, and manufactured the truth about Iraq as much as they deemed necessary to convince the American people and world (less success for the world) to support an overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime. This has been pretty well documented, although not very well publicized.
Long story short, intelligence didn't think Iraq was much of a threat, and said so, until the White House leaned on them and leaned hard. And when that pressure wasn't enough for the warhawks, they opened up their own little intelligence office (the Office of Special Programs) dedicated to finding evidence of an Iraqi threat, no matter how fishy or trivial. So in the end, Bush & co. didn't have to lie so much as to take all the ambiguous claims and questionable data that could be interpretted as evidence that Iraq was a threat, and presented it to the public as though it was a life-sized photograph of Saddam Hussein manually aiming a nuclear missile at Denver.
Some good articles on all this, past and present follow. If you want the quick version, I'd say go read this list of Key Findings from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace's report on the situation. Very simple, very unambiguous.
About half of the human population has breasts, and nearly all of the human population has nipples. One of these 12 billion nipples appeared on TV this weekend, and it was the most horrific and controversial event in the history of mankind.
Here is the offending nipple, if'n you're interested. It appears to be wearing a neat li'l metallic nipple sombrero.
If America were a society of grown-ups, this would not matter a bit. We've all got bodies with similar parts, we're all naked underneath our clothes, nudity of any kind shouldn't be a big deal. But no, we're apparently a society of idiot screaming children who find nipples--the part of the body that nourishes growing infants in their early stages of life--to be vulgar and offensive.
On the other hand, Western culture has managed to sexualize everything even slightly related to women, which means that displaying parts of a woman's body is a sexual act. Showing sex acts on TV in front of the children?! Disgusting.
Sometimes I think about living in a cave, far far away from other people. But then I'd only have two nipples to look at, and that's just not enough.
Back in 2000, an 18-year old fellow named Matthew R. Limon had sex with a 14-year old. Sounds a little creepy to me, but they both claim it was consensual, so whatever. But Matthew gets arrested for statuatory rape, and is sentenced to 15 months in prison.
At least he would've been, if the 14-year old had been female. But his sex partner was a male, so the great state of Kansas sentenced him to seventeen years in prison.
One of the appeals judges approved of this insane jail sentence because the state has the right to "encourage and preserve the traditional sexual mores of society."
No, sorry, fuck you, judge. The law is supposed to protect me and provide justice, not support traditions of any kind.
The only way this sentence makes any kind of sense is if gay sex is like 14 times better than hetero sex, and therefore needs 14 times more punishment.
So to my bisexual readers... is that the case? Is gay sex that much better than straight sex? Cuz if so, maybe we straight guys have got some thinking to do...
The X-Ecutioners- Hey DJ
Plastilina Mosh- Nino Bomba
Justin Sane- If It's Good for the Economy, I'm For It!
The Coup- Fat Cats, Bigga Fish
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds- Papa Won't Leave You, Henry
Nancy Sinatra- Bang Bang
Gil Scott Heron- The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
Skinny Puppy- Grave Wisdom
Queens of the Stone Age- Regular John
Billy Bragg- World Turned Upside Down
The Skatalites- Guns of Navarone
Ministry- Thieves (live)
The (International) Noise Conspiracy- Reproduction of Death
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club- Six Barrel Shotgun
Rage Against the Machine- The Ghost of Tom Joad
Against Me- Those Anarcho Punks Are Mysterious
The Liars- Mr. Your on Fire Mr.
Jet- Rollover D.J.
Lying Media Bastards is brought to you by Shards O' Glass brand freeze pops, "the nation's top-selling frozen treats containing glass shards."
Watch their TV ad, it's fun.
What am I doing wasting my sarcasm and satire on a personal website, when I could be making big dollars in the lucrative world of anti-cigarette propaganda?
I was reading this entry over at C. Bryan's blog, where he makes a gratuitious Nazi reference when describing Dick Cheney. For some reason this made me think of the TV show Hogan's Heros, and I decided that Dick Cheney would really look better if he wore a monocle, like Colonel Klink. Then I thought he might also look better with a long cigarette holder. Then I realized that it wasn't the image of Cheney I was seeing in my head, but the image of another similar individual...
Surely you can see where my head was at.
We'll start with some cultural criticism from Michael R. Real's book "The Super Bowl: Mythic Spectacle":
"Football centers around winning property by competition, as does capitalism. Moreover, in football the winning of property means nothing unless one wins all the property, that is, backs one's opponent to his own valueless end zone."
"If one were to create from scratch a sport to reflect the sexual, racial, and organizational priorities of the American power structure, it is doubtful that one could improve on football."
I've only read a snippet of that book, but it was all good subversive stuff like that. I'll bet it's out of print by now.
Then, we'll go with a little humor, Adam Felber's Non-Fan's Guide to Super Bowl XXXVIII.
Now we'll move on to MoveOn.
Surely you've heard about the anti-Bush commercial contest that the organization had, and the money they raised to have that commercial shown during the Super Bowl. Which Super Bowl broadcaster CBS (owned by Viacom) refused to play, causing outrage and flurries of petitions among liberals.
What I can't figure out is, who was actually surprised by this?
Corporate media behemoth Viacom chooses not to air an ad that:
- attacks the government which is currently tinkering with broadcast regulations
- will irk many in the audience, who don't like mixing their entertainment and their politics
- will alienate other advertisers for putting the audience off of their "buying mood" by making the viewers think about child labor, their own money situations, and the deficit
- will bore the audience because it's about the deficit
- will leave them open to the inevitable attacks by Bush supporters as evidence that CBS/Viacom is biased/liberal/anti-Bush/anti-American.
Whereas if they choose to not show it, the only negative consequence is that they will receive tens of thousands of letters from angry lefties, letters that the corporation can easily chuck in the shredder and ignore.
Is it censorship? Of course it is (unless you're one of those folks who insist that censorship by definition is a task reserved for governments). Is it surprising? Not to me.
Trying to change the political landscape while on the turf of powerful media companies with their own opposing agendas is unlikely at best.
The term "weapons of mass destruction" or WMDs has always been an inaccurate one. The phrase is used to mean "chemical, biological or nuclear weapons." However when compared to #3, #1 and #2 are like a burning match in front of a forest fire.
Nuclear weapons kill millions outright, destroy entire cities, can cause climate change, destroy electrical equipment with their Electro-Magnetic Pulse, and kill tens of thousands more in the decades to follow due to radiation poisoning.
Chemical and biological weapons, don't really destroy anything. They can kill people, but they don't cause much "destruction." In addition, while the substances can be quite deadly, the often aren't, because the attackers don't have many good ways of dispersing these substances. Most germs/viruses or chemicals have to be inhaled or come in contact with a person's skin to have an effect, but most chemical and biological agents are heavier than air. So even if you release your chemical or biological weapon as a gas, the droplets of chemical and germ will drop to the ground fairly quickly, where they will not be effect much of anybody (except the people who like licking pavement or rolling naked on the ground).
Don't get me wrong, chemical and biological weapons can be very deadly (I saw an estimate that if anthrax was sprayed from a low-flying plane over a major city on a still night, it could kill 1-3 million people). But in the way that most of us probably think of them, as villains with gas cannisters or terrorists with bio-grenades, they aren't that big a threat. Certainly not as big as the potential threat of nuclear weapons.
Biological and chemical weapons are a frightening prospect. The idea that you can be walking down the street and suddenly be breathing poisons that liquify your lungs or be infected with a ruthless disease is the stuff of nightmares. But my point is that nuclear bombs are "weapons of mass destruction", but I don't think that biological or chemical weapons fit that category (at least not at present).
Therefore, I am going to stop using the term "weapons of mass destruction" altogether (well, I mean to, anyway). When I mean WMD, I'll say "nuclear weapons." And when I'm talking about bio or chemical weapons, I'll use my new phrase, Weapons of Scary-ness (WOS).
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.
All brought to you by Jake Sexton, The Most Beloved Man in America ®.
February 29, 2004
Propaganda Is Go!
The US military will launch its own news service in Iraq and Afghan-istan to send military video, text and photos directly to the Internet or news outlets.
Just cutting out the middleman. Why bother trying to manipulate private news agencies into telling your version of the story when you can just create your own news agency. Easy peasy.
And the word "combative" up there is a typo. It must be, because... well, it's just gotta be.More Media News
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