Lying Media Bastards

March 30, 2004

As Liberal as They Wanna Be

You've heard about that upcoming liberal talk radio network, right? A group of three AM radio stations, with liberal/progressive hosts like Al Franken and Janeane Garafalo, that will stick it to The right-wing radio Man?

Sadly, there's a seamy underbelly here:

Liberal Air America will displace Black talk at WLIB

One of the new network stations, WLIB, was formerly filled with programming aimed at the politics and concerns of NYC's African-American and Carribbean-American communities, very rare in today's corporate media-domnated environment.

Now WLIB's gonna be mostly white folks smirking about how Bill O'Reilly says things which are inaccurate.

I am unfamiliar with WLIB, so I can't speak too much on its content or importance. In fact, it may have been slipping for some time now. According to this article, WLIB seems to have been edging away from its community-oriented programming towards more profit-friendly fare for some years now.

But still, it's hard to see this as anything other than "well-meaning" white people taking control of a black enterprise for the benefit of "everyone" (where "everyone" means "mostly middle class white people").

The new Air America Radio network starts broadcasting tomorrow at noon. Maybe someone should call in to figurehead Al Franken's show and ask him about the network's takeover of WLIB.

Posted by Jake at 09:16 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

WinTip

From Bob Morris over at Politics in the Zeros:

Here's how to kill that annoying popup window that appears when something in XP crashes, asking you if you want to report this to Microsoft. Well, actually no, I don't want to. Ever. And stop asking.

And if you also want this pointless nagware to go away.

Control Panel/System/Advanced tab/Error reporting/click "Disable error reporting"

It's that easy!

Thanks, Bob! That should decrease the irritation factor for running Windows significantly! Well, okay, some.

Posted by Jake at 08:03 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 28, 2004

Real/Fake Fake/Real

Nice article in the new blog Abused by the News about Video News Releases, those agenda-laden fake news segments created by PR agencies and sometimes broadcast by cash-strapped local news programs. They help big corporations (or governments) shape what you think and believe by feeding you slanted information as "fact." The author of this article says that VNRs are not inherently evil. And true, maybe you could make a VNR about saving endangered puppies or eating healthy vegetables. But, the way that VNRs are generally used, yes, they are evil.

VNRs are finally getting a little limelight (although their creators prefer the anonymous gloom and shadow of their dank caves, *gollum gollum*) thanks to controversy surrounding a VNR created by the Bush administration, with federal tax dollars, to tell untruths to the public about how keen the new Medicare prescription program is. Some Americans were outraged by the use of public monies to pay for what was essentially a pro-Bush campaign commercial, others were angry about the government intentionally distorting the news, and still others are sure that White House is the official stable of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

The author also mentions the book Toxic Sludge Is Good for You, a ruthless expose of the demondogs of the PR industry. It is one of two books that I consider mandatory reading for understanding life in these United States. If you haven't read it, go get it now and don't come back till you're done.

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

Musicians and Health Care

Most of the folks we hear about in the music industry are the superstars who sells millions of records a year and live on yachts made of gold and drive SUVs made of Cristal bottles. But there are tens of thousands of musicians in this country alone who make moderate money, or none at all. They've got little to no economic power, have no real organizations to fight for their rights, and they exist as tiny ants who's destinies are shaped by gargantuan record companies.

Just got this email from the political musician site Rock & Rap Confidential which looks at the increasingly vital issue of health care, as it relates to "working class" musicians (to sort of coin a phrase).

Music and Health Care (what are we going to do about it?)

On March 19th, a very important panel discussion, "Musicians and Health Care," was held at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas. Present were artists, managers, entertainment union leaders, music journalists, and health care activists. The consensus of the discussion was two things. First, we must embrace every effort to bring health care to musicians right now, even though we all realize how flawed our health care system is. Second, we must promote the widest possible discussion of how to fundamentally solve the health care crisis.

This panel discussion will soon be replicated in Los Angeles. If you live there and would like to attend, please let us know so that we can get you the details as soon as they are set. If you do not live in Los Angeles, please think about how to organize people in your city to come together for similar discussion and action. We will help you in any way we can.

What do we, as artists and others in the music industry, do about our lack of health care?

Good question. What follows is what we have come up with so far. Let us know what we are leaving out.

1. If you are searching for a health care plan, check out Access to Health Insurance/Resources for Care, a great resource base put together by the Actors Fund. Go to the AHIRC web site and click on your state to find out what's available.

2. Rock A Mole Productions has done some ground-breaking research and discovered that there are over one thousand benefits each week in America done by musicians for other musicians in health crisis. Please support every one in your city that you can. Let us know if you are planning one (rockrap@aol.com). These benefits could be a huge movement for health care if linked up. What ideas do you have on how to do that?

3. There is a growing movement in the U.S. to set up free medical clinics. There are clinics in New Orleans and New Jersey specifically for musicians and we are aware of attempts to start musicians clinics in Texas and California. To find the nearest free medical clinic or to get information on how to start one, go to the Volunteers in Medicine web site.

4. The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) has a new contract with its signatory record labels which greatly expands the number of musicians who can get health care coverage. If you're an AFTRA member, find out about it. If you are not an AFTRA member, tell someone who is.

Contact: AFTRA at 212-532-0800 / New York or 323-634-8100 / Los Angeles

OR

AFTRA Health & Retirement at 212-499-4800 / New York or 323-937-3631 / Los
Angeles

5. Jobs With Justice is a national coalition of unions and community organizations which recently sponsored a Health Care Action Day in over 50 cities. JwJ has an Artist Support Program which involves artists of all kinds in community struggles. To get involved, contact tfaulkner@cwa-union.org.

6. The movement around health care is everywhere. There are strikes to preserve benefits, battles to keep hospitals open, struggles around the funding of medical schools, etc. etc. Find ways to involve your music in these important efforts. Let us know about it so we can spread the word (rockrap@aol.com).

7. Finally, we need a vision of how to fundamentally and permanently transform our disintegrating system of health care denial into a system of universal
health care delivery. Check out the Just Health Care campaign at www.justhealthcare.org. The Just Health Care campaign explains for the first time how such a system of universal health care can be paid for (and without raising taxes on anyone who makes under $184,000 a year).

Access to affordable health care is obviously vital to the survival, both physical and economic, of everyone in this country, yet the costs and availability are spiraling out of control. Last year, the huge costs of health care were the direct cause of at least three major labor struggles in southern California alone.

I challenge all writers, reporters and bloggers to research and write about the behind-the-scenes of American health care. Let's find out the core of the problem and tackle that.

Posted by Jake at 03:48 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Week In Review 03-26-04

Bush administration eases logging rules- "The Bush administration on Tuesday eased restrictions on logging old-growth forests in the Pacific Northwest, completing a rules change that will allow forest managers to begin logging without first looking for rare plants and animals."

Fighting Terrorism Begins at Home- long personal story about a local activist's efforts to fight against a neo-nazi organization.

Iraq's Children of the Bomblet- in case you've forgotten, cluster bombs are a fucking crime against humanity.

Foul Justice- a look at the tragic and far-reaching impact of California's "Three Strikes" law. On the upside, the article says that perhaps voters will get a chance to amend/undo it.

Posted by Jake at 03:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Next Week, on Law & Order

Court: Evidence OK in some no-warrant searches

As I understand it, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has just ruled that if police officers do a quick search of someone's private property "to ensure [the officers'] own safety", and if during the course of that safety search they find evidence of a crime, then that evidence can be admissable in court--despite the fact that the officers searched someone's property without a search warrant.

The two dissenting judges in the case called the decision "the road to hell."

This ruling effects Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi.

This sort of thing seems not only easy to abuse, but seems destined to be abused, and frequently.

Posted by Jake at 02:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 27, 2004

Tyranny of Taste

I have finally started up the Reviews section of the LMB website. I've been meaning to do that for a while, add an area to comment on movies, books, music, TV, video games, etc. On the one hand, it's a little self-indulgent, on the other, I think it can be helpful. I know that there are times when I'd like to see someone else's opinion before spending money, and there are times when finding such opinions are difficult.

Honestly, that comes up most often regarding local restaurants, and not so much with, say, movies in national release. Maybe I'll review restaurants too. And I really need to get my ass in gear reviewing political books. Honestly, that's what I imagine y'all'd find most helpful.

Anyhow, I currently have reviews for the new Dawn of the Dead movie, and a couple of old blog entries that are sort of reviewy. Before the weekend's out I hope to also have reviews for the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and for the video game The Suffering. And I'll try to get some political book reviews up next week.

Posted by Jake at 11:54 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Dawn of the Dead (movie)

It's a nonbrilliant theory of mine that the popularity of horror figures only endure so long as they touch a popular nerve, that they invoke a deep fear inherent in humans, or that is part of the current cultural climate.

- Frankenstein and many other monsters, of course, hit our fears of science gone out of control.

- Dracula and vampires, I would argue, are about our fear of seduction; modern vampires are sleek, sexy, charming things that could tempt us into giving up our lives and souls.

- 80s slasher villains invoked our fears of, well, everybody. They were about strangers, who could appear and behave completely unpredictably, and tear "us" out of our suburban havens. Maybe two decades of safe suburban living have assuaged these fears.

Other horror figures did not maintain their cultural power, and faded away. We no longer see movies about giant killer ants, blobs, or fishmen from the swamp.

But we now see a resurgence of zombies. I think that the "traditional" zombie, the slow-moving, slow-witted undead, is about claustrophobia, an unstoppable force, about inevitable death which we cannot ever escape (of course, I should differentiate our regular zombie movie zombies with the resurrected slaves of Haitian folklore). I'm not entirely sure what the new crop of energetic, high-speed, screeching zombies mean. Honestly, I don't expect them to catch on.

What always intrigued me about the movies of George Romero's old "Living Dead" trilogy was that they created a whole new world, one in which every time someone dies, their body turns into shuffling, mindless monster that only wants to kill (and infect) the living. Our everyday world is rapidly transformed, like a nuclear apocalypse without the bomb, with its own different textures and flavors. Governments, authority, family, and relationships collapse. The comfortable world of the city turns into a dangerous jungle, a battleground.

The "Dawn of the Dead" remake manages to catch a little of that feel, but not much of it. The movie's introduction teases us with a bit of background chaos (main characters ignoring radio reports about murders and unexplained disease outbreaks) before putting us right in the thick of it when the main character's neighborhood is overrun by the zombie holocaust. Fire, death, sprinting zombies, and an already advanced case of civilization breakdown. It's pretty scary, and you can feel "you are there" licking at your heels. "What would it really be like?" you think to yourself. "What would I do?"

Then there's an interesting credits sequence with a quick-cut montage of pixelated video footage (which makes it more "realistic" somehow) of all kinds of worldwide conflicts and catastrophes that we're supposed think are somehow zombie-related, all set to the tune of the late Johnny Cash's end-of-days ballad "When the Man Comes Around." Odd.

And after that, most of the movie is crap.

Survivors from "all walks of life" hole up in a shopping mall to escape the zombie hordes. Gore. Tension and conflict and romance among the refugees. Discovery and revelation. Gore. Stupid decisions that lead to unnecessary battles with zombies. Exploding zombie heads. Gore. A final mad plan for escape.

Many movie buffs compare this version to its predecessor, lamenting the new film's lack of social commentary and ridicule of consumer culture. And while this is true, these critics conveniently forget that the original movie was actually pretty boring.

Dawn of the Dead 2004 is a video rental, at best.

Posted by Jake at 11:45 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 26, 2004

Swirly News

U.S. Officials Fashion Legal Basis to Keep Force in Iraq- sigh. The US has managed to creatively interpret UN resolutions so that they mean that the US can "transfer authority" to Iraq on June 30, 2004, yet keep American troops there through December 31, 2005.

The Apparat: George W. Bush's back-door political machine- the network of fundraisers and thinktanks that sneakily champion the conservative cause.

Bush Wants More Personnel in Colombia- that don't sound good.

Imperial Arrogance: The US in Haiti- latest on Haiti and the US' rather insulting response.

Turning the Tide- Chomsky's got a blog! Well, kinda. Looks like Z Magazine has set up a blog that will include excerpts from his recent speeches, articles and interviews, with some original Chomsky content here and there.

Advertisers try subtle approach to brand plugs- new TV ad strategy:

Through Chicago-based Starcom Entertainment, Allstate is sponsoring vignettes of "Gilmore Greats"--snippets of "pivotal moments" from past "Gilmore Girls" episodes.

The vignettes, which run for 30 seconds during the episode, are branded as "This Gilmore Great is brought to you by Allstate" and ends with the tagline, "Prepare yourself for life's great moments. Are you in good hands?"

Allstate then runs a regular 30-second ad following the vignette.

I dunno. Might work.

The Emperor of Scrounge- university professor decides to be a dumpster diver for a year, eschewing his job and getting as much of life's necessities as he can from what wasteful Americans throw away. While this probably sounds gross to most of you, but it's really the ultimate in recycling/reusing, and is a glaring example of how much we overconsume.

Just Wondering- Geov Parrish asks the questions that the 9/11 commission won't: Why did we wait 2 years to have hearings on 9/11? Why has no one been fired for failing to prevent the deaths of 3000 innocents? How much as the Iraq war set us back in our fight against terrorists?

The SD GOP discovers blogs- as a political blogger myself, I think I am legally required to post this. Democrat Stephanie Herseth is running for a seat in the House, and has been raising money via ads on political blogs. The ads take you to a specific donation page on her website that relates to blog readers that is different from the main donation page. Local Republicans are now accusing Herseth of having a "secret web page" on her site, and that, well, I don't know. It's secret (although it isn't) and therefore it's proof that she's "hiding something" which means that she's bad. I think. It seems that the Reps reason for bringing this up is the hope that they can "smear" Herseth by associating her with the content of these blogs, which they probably hope are more liberal than the general voting population. Weak.

Posted by Jake at 02:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Choosing Sides

Fox News ain't so fair and balanced.

This is really pretty astounding.

The Bush administration is currently reeling from Richard Clarke's claims that they have been failing the fight on terrorism. They have been looking for a way to defuse the Clarke danger by spinning him as a liar or cad or bumbler or something.

So it was quite a boon when the White House discovered a tape of Clarke from 2002, where he gave a "background briefing" to reporters about antiterrorism. The 2002 report is far rosier than Clarke's recent claims, therefore, goes the Bush argument, Clarke is lying now (could it be that as a government official that Clarke played up the positives and played down the negatives? Nah).

Where did the tape come from?

White House spokesman Scott McClellan says, "It was Fox News who yesterday came to us and said they had a tape of this conversation with Mr. Clarke."

Jesus fucking Christ.

A supposedly neutral arbiter of public information, unbiased and beholden to no one, searched through its archives and found a videotape that could help win a political conflict, and then gave it to the administration in power, knowing full well what it would do with the tape.

This wipes its ass with "fair and balanced." It's certainly not objective, detached observation and reporting. It catapults over "bias", and straight into "I play ball for the Republicans." We always knew that Fox News had a conservative slant, but this moves from propaganda to action.

And it fucks journalism in another way, too. When a source tells a reporter that their information is "background," it means that they don't want to go on the record, they don't even want to be anonymous. It means that they want to tell you the truth, but they want you to go find evidence someplace else. And reporters usually follow this code and let their background sources stay safe. Near as I can figure, this tape of Clarke was background. Not only did Fox break the rule and reveal a background source, it explicitly tries to hurt the source by aiding the source's enemies.

Fox News is so low that they win all the limbo contests.

[Correction]

Fox News did not supply the White House with a tape, they supplied the White House with a transcript of the tape. Sorry for the error.

[/Correction]

Posted by Jake at 12:22 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 25, 2004

Caption Contest

Can you look at this image of Condoleeza Rice and not hear the Darth Vader theme playing in your head?

"Now, Richard Clarke, witness the firepower of this fully armed and operational battle station!"

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

March 24, 2004

Boondock Sloganeering

Comic strip The Boondocks is featuring a mock advertising campaign for George W. Bush. Check it.

1
2
3

And another good one that doesn't entirely fit that theme, here.

Posted by Jake at 10:47 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Whistleblower Sonata

Richard Clarke joins the chorus of ex-government officials pulling back the curtain to expose the inner workings of the Bush administration. His main criticism is that a) before 9/11, no one in the Bush White House cared about terrorism, Al Qaeda or Osama bin Laden, and b) both before and after 9/11, all they seemed to care about was getting Saddam Hussein.

Of course, Clarke is now being assaulted big time as the White House tries to spin itself clean again. It's such a common pattern that it's a wonder the media buys it at all, especially when Clarke's story fits in so well with all the others: DiIullio, O'Neill, Kwiatkowski, and to a lesser extent, Ritter, Wilson and Kay. Their tales weave a vibrant tapestry depicting a hyper-political administration which chooses its self-serving goals first and worries about their impact later (if ever).

By now we're headlong into the Get Clarke phase, as the Bush team tries to absolve itself of any 9/11 guilt in front of the official 9/11 investigation committee. Which is also turning into the Get Clinton phase, as the current White House tries to explain that 9/11 was really Clinton's fault, because he didn't take care of Osama bin Laden on his watch.

(Amusingly, they are also arguing that the White House didn't heed Clarke's advice on Al Qaeda because they wanted to develop a "more effective" anti-terrorism plan. And in fact they were working on one; Dick Cheney was appointed to head a counterterrorism task force back in May 2001-- it never met once)

All that remains to be seen is what effect Clarke's media splash makes on the Bush administration's activities and on the November election itself. One of the Bush team's strong suits is the poular belief that they are "strong" on terrorism and national defense. Can Clarke's claims that Bush didn't do shit about Osama and dropped the ball by going after Iraq crack this nut?

Posted by Jake at 10:32 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

March 23, 2004

World's Most Important Nonsense

Cartoon Network's Adult Swim program asks the age-old question:

Who would win in a fight, a flying shark or a flying crocodile?

Discuss.

Or, if you find that too silly:

Who would win in a fight, cavemen or astronauts?

No, the astronauts would not get weapons.

Posted by Jake at 12:00 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 22, 2004

03-22-04

Evolution Control Committee- Rocked by Rape
The (International) Noise Conspiracy- A Northwest Passage
Dead Milkmen- Bitchin Camaro
Alice in Chains- Man in the Box (live)
KMD- It Sounded Like a Roc
Rage Against the Machine- Know Your Enemy
Latin Playboys- Manifold de Amour
Angelo Badalmenti and Thought Gang- A Real Indication
The Jesus and Mary Chain- The Living End
Iron Horse- Unforgiven
The Descendents- My Age
Dr. Oop- Run This
The Smiths- Ask
Ozomatli- Dos Cosas Ciertas
Reverend Horton Heat- Big Little Baby
PJ Harvey- Dress
They Might Be Giants- Birdhouse in Your Soul
Iron Horse- One
They Might Be Giants- Road Movie to Berlin

Posted by Jake at 10:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Adobe for Prez

More photoshop madness from the nuts at Fark.com.

The theme: Photoshop ads for the 2044 presidential campaign.

"Don't blame me, I voted for Creepy Robot Thing!"

Posted by Jake at 09:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Another Silent Crisis

I feel a bit odd juxtaposing this extremely serious subject with the ridiculous blog entries above, but that's just the kinda site this is. I guess.

If you are a real news hound, you have probably picked up faint murmurings of an African catastrophe, in western Sudan. I had heard brief mentions and speculations of terrible things, but this article is the most concrete I've seen:

Mass rape atrocity in west Sudan

I will definitely research this story further, but it appears that a government-sanctioned militia of Sudanese Arabs have been attacking the "black African" population of western Sudan (a region called Darfur). The militias seem to be engaged in a program of ethnic cleansing, trying to drive the blacks out of the country, and to kill, rape and kidnap whoever does not flee.

As is the norm for Africa, this story is getting NO play in the American press. I think we need to change that...

[update]

Reader Emily points out a column written on the subject by the NY Times' Nicholas Kristof.

[/update]

Posted by Jake at 06:11 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Week in Review 03-19-04

Letter from Juarez- notoriously undercovered events in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. The city is home to many poor workers who staff the city's maquilas/sweatshops, and as many as 400 of the city's women have been murdered in the past 10 years. No one knows who is doing the killing, and the police don't seem to care.

US vs. Europe: two views of terror- explains how America has embraced the idea that the fight against terrorism is a "war", while most European nations think of the fight as more of a complicated law enforcement program. The two perspectives lead to very different methods and tactics. I've long thought that the war metaphor was inappropriate, as Al Qaeda and its bretheren are more like the Mafia than a state. And you couldn't stop the mafia by blowing up Sicily.

The Height of Disrespect- pretty disturbing article about black youth in America. The study on which the article is based (and I can't say if the study is worthwhile), describes a teen landscape in which black women are held in utter disdain and contempt, where no one of any gender trusts anyone else, and sex, love and relationships are just means of gaining power, money and stability.

Drug War Update- your basic informative "America's drug policy is insane and is destroying the country" article. That might sound like I'm dismissing it, but no-- everyone needs to know this stuff.

Generation Debt- rather complicated, but highly important article about the changing American economy and the ways it forces younger and younger people into more and more debt.

Posted by Jake at 01:20 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 20, 2004

Blockin' Out the Scenery, Breakin' My Mind

Went to today's Iraq invasion anniversary protest in Hollywood. Left a little early because, well... medical thing. Partway through the march I noticed that my throat seemed to be swelling shut for no apparent reason, and opted to head back home. It was kind of scary, but I'm mostly fine now; I can speak and breathe and swallow properly. I'm guessing it was an allergic reaction to either the sausagey sandwich I bought from a street vendor or from a quarter of a kiwi I got from the Food Not Bombs folks. I haven't know myself to be allergic to either before, so I don't know what's up, but in typical Jake fashion, I'm choosing not to worry about it.

Anyhow.

While at said protest, I tested out the new camera attachment for my groovy little internet decvice. The pictures aren't the greatest quality, but I did get some nice shots of some of the more creative protest signs. I'll label/describe the sign below each photo in case they're hard to read.

"Bring My Brother Home. USMC CPL Sean Reynolds".

"Vote Republican" t-shirts for sale. Yeah, it's a cheap shot, but still kinda funny.

"Leave Teeth Marks on Barrells of Guns". I really don't know what that was about. Packs a visceral punch, yet I'm not sure what they're referring to. Yes, I know they mis-spelled "barrels".

A picture of the Grim Reaper saying "I Support Everyone's Troops". One of my favorite signs from the whole march. I think all my future protest signs will have to be of the biting and ironic variety.

"Bush hijacked 9/11 and flew it into Iraq". Interesting, nice metaphor. And very big. The poor guy had to keep struggling to keep the it aloft, and stop the cardboard from folding in on itself.

"Bush/Cheney 1984". This depicts Cheney in sort of a Nazi uniform and Bush dressed as Napoleon. A lot of the detail is lost in the photo, like how the swastikas on Cheney's uniform are replaced with Enron logos, and some sort of patch on Bush's shoulder (I forget what it said, but it was funny).

These next few will need a little explaining:

For reasons still not entirely clear to me, a friend of mine decided to organize a contingent made up of fans of musicians Morrissey and The Smiths. The group cleverly called itself "Louder Than Bombs," after a Smiths album. All their signs had song lyrics, either in their original forms, or slightly tweaked to spread an anti-war message. Some of the best were "If it's not love, then it's the bomb, the bomb, the bomb, that will bring us together," "Come armageddon," "Hang the newsmen," "Shoplifters for peace," and "They do the military two-step down the nape of our necks." (Trust me, if you're a Smiths fan, these are all very funny)

They also sang Smiths and Morrissey songs, with lyrics switched up to denounce war. Creative and amusing, yet I still have no idea why they choce to take this theme and run with it.

(Hmm, I'll have to play some Smiths on my radio show Monday to commerorate this weirdness.)

And finally, we come to the best sign at the protest. Not only the best sign at the protest, but the best sign EVER.

Across the street from the initial gathering point for the protesters was a small throng of counter-demonstrators. The counter folks were small in number, maybe 30. Some were pro-war and pro-patriotism, some were right-wing conspiracy theorist Freepers (their signs denouncing the peace movement as communism in disguise), and a handful of ever-present Jesus freaks ("you're all wasting your time caring for your fellow man and striving for peace, when you could be worshipping Jesus!"). The Best Sign Ever was held by a Jesus Freak (it's the one on the left).

The top of the sign reads "Support President Bush".

Below that are pictures in silhouette of: a fighter jet; a tank; a machine gun; a pistol; an attack helicopter; an atomic bomb; and a missile emplacement.

Below that, the sign reads "Trust Jesus".

Wow. Wow.

Wow.

That man breaks the sound barrier of crazy, and I salute his courage to be that insane in public.

It was a good time, I saw lots of friends on a nice sunny day. I myself carried no sign, but everyone did seem to like my Democracy: We Deliver t-shirt.

I had no illusions that I was making a difference, but I'll admit that sometimes it feels good to go out and speak your mind, even if you don't think it's going to change a thing. And by my rough estimate, maybe 10,000 folks did just that.

LA peaceniks reprazent!

Posted by Jake at 10:47 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

March 19, 2004

Happy Birthday, Optional War!

I'll just cut to the chase here.

I do not think that the war against Iraq was ever about finding weapons of mass destruction or liberating the Iraqi people. These were red herrings, and arguing about them is a waste of time.

It has long been my belief that the war on Iraq was an idealistic/cynical plan to install a US-friendly government into Iraq, and intimidate non-friendly Middle Eastern governments into cooperation. These would in turn maintain US access to the region's oil, and possibly halt any Middle East government from aiding terrorist organizations, if indeed they were doing that. If any peoples were liberated in the process, that was a fringe benefit (sort of. Free people have to be controlled too).

The only new evidence I've seen that made me re-think my theory was this interview with former Pentagon insider Karen Kwiatkowski. She argued that there were three main reasons for the war, all extremely self-serving: to position the US for post-war/post-sanctions business contracts in Iraq; to gain locations for alternate locations (i.e. outside Saudi Arabia) military bases in the Middle East; and to protect the value of the US dollar by keeping it as the currency of choice in the oil market. Those reasons do seem a bit odd and petty, but she is in a position to know much more than we do.

The folks at Iraq Body Count estimate that between 8000 and 10,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed in the war and subsequent occuaption. The folks at Lunaville estimate that there have been 576 US soldiers killed and 2842 injured in the war and occupation (though I've seen other, much higher estimates of injured).

The war may cost the US $225 billion by the end of the year.

As for where things stand now, I'd say read this excellent article by scholar Juan Cole, Welcome to the Quagmire (sadly, it's on Salon.com, which means that if you want to read the whole thing, you have to subscribe, or watch a mini-ad). Things are extremely tense, with many angry ethnic and religious factions vying for power in the new government, and possibly willing to fight if they don't get what they want.

And keep in mind that the current, US-appointed government is working behind the scenes to establish rules and consolidate their own power. Maybe by the time someone gets democratically elected, all the important decisions will have been made and the new guy will have his hands tied.

I'm glad that Saddam Hussein is out of power and under arrest. But I do fear for the future; just because one bad guy is gone doesn't mean that a good guy will take his place. And if Iraq descends into civil war, what good is their previous "liberation"?

And what about new terrorism? Won't many in the Muslim and Arab world believe that this world proves exactly what militant fundamentalists have been saying about the US all along? Won't some of them want to join the cause just because of that? Won't some join the cause because US bombs killed their families?

It can be an uncomfortable question for us anti-war folks: can something good come out of something bad? In the end, could it be that a US-subservient Iraq is better than Saddam's Iraq, better enough that all the death and lies were worth it? And if so, would it have been okay to support such a cynical, self-serving action if you knew that in the end, that suffering people would be better off?

I don't want to say that things in Iraq are like Disneyland on Earth, but maybe bombs and kidnappings and occupation are better than an iron fist.

Give it a few years, then we can see the real consequences, and make judgements work a damn.

Posted by Jake at 04:13 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Conquest

I now have a dishwasher!!

Look on my might and tremble!!

That is all.

Posted by Jake at 01:09 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

And That's the Way It Is

I need to read this and comment on it, but I haven't had a chance yet:

The State of the News Media 2004: An Annual Report on American Journalism

It's put together by the The Project for Excellence in Journalism, a part of Columbia University's journalism program.

It's obviously not the pinnacle of all journalistic criticism, but it probably has a few interesting things to say. You can probably skip straight to its eight major trends section for most of the meat, unless you're particulary interested in a specific medium.

Overall, the eight trends point to economic concerns and how they are having large impacts on the way news is gathered, produced and distributed. The two non-economic trends I found most interesting were: In many parts of the news media, we are increasingly getting the raw elements of news as the end product and Those who would manipulate the press and public appear to be gaining leverage over the journalists who cover them. The first speaks much to the press' descent into press release readers instead of investigators and analysts. The second speaks to the press' spinelessness and gullibility; they may want to do harder hitting stories, but many factors encourage them to take the easier, subject-friendly route.

I'll try to look the whole thing over when I can and give you the highlights, but that might not be for a while.

Posted by Jake at 01:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 17, 2004

Blinders? Check. Rage? Check. Flying Spittle? Check.

Stop me if you've heard this one.

A Spanish guy walks into an American Republican bar. He goes up to the bartender and says "give me a beer." And the bartender says "YOU STUPID APPEASING PANSY MOTHERFUCKER!! HOW DARE YOU GIVE INTO THE TERRORISTS?!!! YOU COWARDLY TRAITOR FAGGOT!!! YOU'RE WORSE THAN FRANCE!! I'LL KILL YOU!!!! I'LL KILL ALL OF YOU!!!"

Ha ha ha. Those Republicans, they're a riot.

American conservatives just can't get rabid enough about the Spanish terrorist attack and suprise election results of the past week. I'm not sure if they are so simple-minded that they can't see the complexity of the events, their causes and potential results, or if they're just drawing the most simplistic picture possible in public to score political points.

First of all, these politicians are smearing the distinction between the "war on terrorism" and "war on Iraq" like toddlers fingerpainting. The US decided to invade Iraq, a largely terrorism-free zone.

After that, it's just a devolution into "Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bad" rhetoric.

- The prime minister of Spain sent the country to war with Iraq, so that's good and anti-terrorist (although as many as 90% of Spain's citizens were against the war).

- The people of Spain voted him out of office, so they're bad and pro-terrorist (without looking to see what the new guy's policy is).

- The new prime minister wants to take Spanish troops out of Iraq, which is bad and pro-terrorist (cuz Iraqis are Muslims and Muslims are terrorists and not killing terrorists is pro-terrorist)

- Spain isn't fighting in the way that the US wants it to, so they are just like Europe giving the Sudetenland to Hitler in the 1930s (despite the fact that that analogy probably doesn't work here)

It's amazingly frustrating dealing with such ignorant, narrow arguments. Of course the situation is more complex than that. It always is.

If any of these conservative politicians and pundits had bothered to ask anyone from Spain why they voted a certain way, or what their thoughts or intentions were, instead of using their apparent pundit psychic powers, we might actually learn something.

I have seen several statements by Spaniards which tell a different story (here and here).

One of the political strengths of the Popular Party was their strong anti-ETA stance (the ETA being Spain's homegrown terrorists/rebels). Once the bombs hit in Madrid, the Popular Party immediately began spinning the event, asserting that there was no doubt that this attack was perpetrated by the ETA. Even as doubt began to poke out its head, and evidence came to the fore that perhaps this was an Islamic fundamentalist attack and not the ETA, the Popular Party stood firm in its unsubstantiated claims. And when an Islamic group took credit and the ETA denied involvement, the Spanish got pissed. Furious that the current administration had played politics with the dead before the blood and wreckage had cooled, voters turned out in mass to vote the current bastards out.

In the eyes of the Spanish, this was not a pro-appeasement vote, this was an anti-exploitation vote. This was a vote against politicians manipulating the truth for their own personal gain. And, perhaps, an anti-stupid-bastards-who-take-us-into-American-wars vote.

Of course, no one is ever 100% reliable when speaking of their own motivations. We often hide the truth, try to paint ourselves more positively, or lie to ourselves as well. Perhaps the people of Spain are fooling us or themselves when they tell us why they voted that way. Or perhaps not.

Now we get into the war of perceptions. No matter how the Spanish view this election, will the terrorists view the change in the vote as a victory? They might. Will the terrorists see the new president's decision to pull troops from Iraq as another victory? They might. Will they now start attacking nation's right before elections to try to sway the outcome? They might. And these are things to worry about for the future.

But should all decisions made by any government be based primarily on how they will be interpretted by terrorists? If you start letting terrorist fears determine your every action, then the terrorists are successfully controlling you. While you should keep in mind the ramifications of your actions, you should surely never make a decision just because its what the terrorists wouldn't want you to do.

Our best hope in all of this is for all governments to start fighting terrorism in a smart way, not in an arrogant, macho way. In his public statements Spanish prime minister-elect Zapatero seems to be embracing this idea, of countries working together on effective ways to fight terrorism. Only time will tell whether or not Zapatero follows through, or whether any nation starts thinking about and implementing more effective tactics.

Posted by Jake at 10:48 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Queer Eye for the Unemployment Line

Does this even make sense?

LGBT Federal Workers Lose Job Protections

Gay and lesbians in the entire federal workforce have had their job protections officially removed by the office of Special Counsel. The new Special Counsel, Scott Bloch, says his interpretation of a 1978 law intended to protect employees and job applicants from adverse personnel actions is that gay and lesbian workers are not covered.

Bloch said that the while a gay employee would have no recourse for being fired or demoted for being gay, that same worker could not be fired for attending a gay Pride event...

Bloch said gays, lesbians and bisexuals cannot be covered as a protected class because they are not protected under the nationís civil rights laws.

So it's okay to fire a federal employee because they like people of the same sex... because they're not protected by civil rights laws... but you can't fire them from attending a gay pride event... because... that would be wrong?

Let's try to piece this together. An employer can fire anyone for any reason, unless they are part of a "protected class" (presumably women and racial minorities). Since gays and lesbians are not part of a protected class (in the view of Scott Bloch, they can be fired for being gay. But seeing an employee at a gay pride parade would not be enough evidence that the employee was gay (maybe just a straight person enjoying the spectacle), so the boss would not be able to fire him.

Or something.

In related news, Rhea County, Tennessee is trying to change state law so that homosexuals can be charged with crimes against nature. No, I'm not shitting you. They also want to enact a law that would ban homosexuals from entering the county altogether.

Stupid country.

Posted by Jake at 08:46 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Madre de Dios!

Fun Fact:

"Many Spanish troops serving in Iraq, for example, wore an arm patch depicting the Cross of St. James of Compostela. That insignia commemorates the Battle of Clavijo in 844. According to legend, the Apostle St. James the Elder came down from the sky and killed every Moor - as Muslims were then called - in his path. Ever since, St. James has been called 'Santiago Matamoros,' St. James the Moor Killer."
Posted by Jake at 10:06 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 16, 2004

Fundamentally Loathsome

Some days ago, John Kerry was quoted as saying that "foreign leaders" prefer him to Bush.

Actually, Kerry was mis-quoted as saying that. He actually said that "more leaders" preferred him. Patrick Healy, the reporter who transcribed the event, has admitted that he made a mistake, and when he listened to the tape that Kerry clearly said "more" and not "foreign."

But that's not the point. Republicans are continuing to pretend that Kerry said what he didn't say so they can criticize him. But that's not the point either. Here's the point:

Vice President Cheney took a few licks.

"'At the very least,' Cheney said, 'we have a right to know what he is saying to foreign leaders that makes them so supportive of his candidacy.' . . .

Cheney's helped run the most secretive presidential administration in the nation's history, and he's got the gall to say shit like that?

Cheney and the words "right to know" are like matter and antimatter; it's physically impossible for them to co-exist.

Surely someone's wiping Cheney innards off the inside of the undisclosed location.

Posted by Jake at 04:15 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Owned

Tom Engelhardt has an appalling article about the US and Iraq, misleadingly called "After November...?" The real meat of the article is way down deep (it's as though the author was getting paid by the word...), buried under some fluffy speculation about the election campaign. Skip down to the subheading "Following the money trail in Iraq" for some grim news.

First, we learn that the Pentagon has won a battle against the State Department for control of $18.4 billion in aid for Iraq. The figures are fuzzy, but the Pentagon will control how around 60-90% of that money gets spent. This money will be used for reconstruction in Iraq over the next four years (maybe more). Even though the US military will give over "official" power to some sort of Iraqi government June 30, the US military will still have plenty of leverage by controlling this huge amount of desperately-needed aid money.

Then you've got a number of facts which suggest that Ahmad Chalabi, the shady fellow that US warhawks wanted to take power from Saddam, might continue to be a power player (if not THE power player). And that he may or may not be controlled by the US. Those facts:


  • Chalabi and his organization (Iraqi National Congress) are still on the US payroll
  • Chalabi is currently a member of the Iraqi Government Council (appointed by the US, if memory serves)
  • while leading the IGC's economic and finance committee, Chalabi was able to appoint his own people to powerful positions inside the government: minister of oil, minister of finance, central bank governor, minister of trade, head of the trade bank, and head of the country's largest commercial bank
  • Chalabi runs the "De-Baathification Commission", which "is so wide-ranging that even one of Chalabi's aides calls it 'a government within the government'"

So despite Chalabi's lack of popularity with the Iraqi people, and his initial failures at taking control, it looks like Chalabi may yet end up in charge of this newly "democratic" country.

And finally, a series of facts which seem to tell us that the US will be spending billions over the next few years to build permanent US military bases in Iraq. Which, some war critics (and conspiracy theorists) claimed was one of the main goals for the US decision to go to war in the first place. Don't take my word for it, read the article and its associated links, see if you buy this conclusion.

So, when the US finally pulls out of Iraq, leaving it an autonomous democracy, we're really leaving it economically dependent, run by a fellow who may have allegiance to the US, and our military won't really be leaving it at all.

By the time we're voting in November it'll be too late; Iraq will already be ours.

Posted by Jake at 12:45 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

[Insert Hacker Gibberish here]

I added another small section of links, on the right, down near the very bottom, called "SubvertWare."

Over time, I've come to find a number of programs that either make things easier, faster, or let you avoid big evil corps like Microsoft and AOL. I've recommended these to a few people who found them extremely helpful, so I thought I'd share the wealth.

All the programs are PC-based, sorry Mac people.

The programs:

Ad-Aware- searches your computer for various advertising/tracking/spying files sneakily inserted into your computer via websites and downloads and such. Sort of like anti-virus software.

Eudora- since so many computer viruses are tailored to Microsoft's popular Outlook email software, it's a good idea to stop using Outlook. Eudora is pretty simple and has most of the features that you'll ever need. It's free, if you don't mind a little ad in the corner of the window when its in use. If you do mind, you'll have to pay them money or use a different program.

Firefox- people seem most excited about this one. A fast web-browser with a number of handy features that's free, and not made by Microsoft.

Linux- the famous "open source" operating system. Like a non-evil version of Windows. I'll be honest, I don't know much about it, but I've been meaning to give it a try. Maybe in my (snicker) spare time.

MUTE- new file-sharing program (and network?) that really seems to protect the user's privacy, thereby protecting them from lawsuits and other threats. Haven't used it myself, don't know how well it works in practice.

Soulseek- another file-sharing program and network. Again, haven't used it, but it seems more community-based than search-based. You find clusters of users who share some of your tastes and start swapping files with them. In some ways, makes it more likely you'll find any obscure music you're looking for.

Thunderbird- haven't used it, supposed to be like a cross between Firefox and Eudora, by the makers of Firefox.

Trillian- do you use AOL Instant Messenger, Netscape Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, ICQ or IRC? This program lets you access all of thsoe networks simultaneously, without the annoying pop-up ad windows that come with some of those other programs. I highly recommend it.

If anyone else can recommend other good programs, let me know.

Posted by Jake at 12:43 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

March 15, 2004

Freeway, 75MPH, I suddenly wonder if i could steer the car with my teeth. When my open mouth is about 4 inches from the steering wheel, I realize this is crazy and stop.

About ten minutes later, I find myself bent forward, steering wheel in my teeth.

Man, I really need to start sleeping more.

Posted by Jake at 06:00 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Warren Peace

Read till the end, the last article is pretty powerful.

'Special skills draft' on drawing board- the US militaryis talking about reinstituting a limited draft, of computer and language experts. Of course, if they call your number, we all know how to get out of this: say you're gay.

US revealed to be secretly funding opponents of Chavez- it appears that the US, via its National Endowment for Democracy, has given a bunch of money to the political opposition in Venezuela. You know, the opposition that tried to oust president Hugo Chavez in a coup a couple years back? Surely the US-coup leader link is just a coinkidink.

Gloating at Madrid's graveside- last week's terrorist attack in Madrid just before Spanish elections resulted in a new regime being voted into office. As the culprits of the attack seem to have been Al Qaeda affiliates, and since Spain had never had any Islamic terrorist attacks before this, it seems that the electorate assumed that the attack was revenge for the amazingly unpopular decision to join the Iraq invasion. Now Spaniards were dying for a war they'd never wanted in the first place, and they were going to vote those bastards out. Well, that's my interpretation of events, anyway.

Brendan O'Neill looks at the nauseating comments by pro-war politicians and pundits worldwide, who seem thrilled that Spain was attacked, hoping that this would "teach them a lesson" about the need to fight terrorism (and "fight terrorism" of course means, "whatever the US says will fight terrorism").

Real message of Madrid's millions- after the Spanish terrorist attacks, literally millions of Spaniards took to the streets in anger, protest and anguish. The reporter above feels that most news outlets missed the point, and sums up his own interpretation very poetically:

The marches on Friday night were the antithesis of what the terrorists had done 36 hours earlier. Massacring innocent people: that is the statement the terrorists make, that is the dumb and stupid drama they stage. Standing together with our fellow men, respecting and loving them even if we do not know them, that is what we the people of Spain people do. You think you won yesterday. You did not. You are the losers.

By coming out here in our millions and millions, speaking not just for Spain but for the great and enduring values of the human race, we have defeated you.

And try as you may, you sons of bitches, we always will.

Posted by Jake at 12:29 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 12, 2004

"Human Filth". Or, "The Red Pill"

I believe that all politics are dirty.

I think that most people go about their daily lives thinking that there are laws and rules and that everyone follows them. Order is the rule, crime the exception.

It is my belief that these people are totally wrong.

There is no law. There is only force and obedience and illusion. Rules are something that the powerful trick other people into following while placing no such restrictions on themselves.

When stripped to the core, our world is one where the powerful fuck the powerless. And if the powerless are able, they fight back. There is nothing else.

Rarely has this been clearer to me than in this article, in Rolling Stone magazine of all places.

It's called "Bush's Bagmen". It's about the folks who collect and donate massive amounts of cash to George W. Bush, and how they are directly rewarded for their efforts, in the form of legislation, positions of power, and so on. The article gives specifics and names names.

For example, Anthony Alexander, president of FirstEnergy energy company, raised $200,000 for Bush. In exchange, Bush appointed Alexander to a government panel to shape federal energy policy.

Shopping mall magnate John Price raised $1.3 million for Bush and was named ambassador to Ireland, despite having zero diplomatic experience.

And it goes on.

This sure as hell isn't just a Republican thing. The Democrats just aren't as good at it.

The most appalling bit of information to me was not about corruption, but about a single person who, as far as I'm concerned, should die right now. Dr. Edward Floyd is a "vascular surgeon who treats patients with cancer." He also, coincidentally, is "one of the biggest tobacco growers in South Carolina." How can you possibly treat people with cancer while growing crops which cause it? Any human being with an ounce of morals would either a) quit one of those two jobs, or b) swallow a fucking bullet.

What's also appalling in the article is how little money is actually changing hands. These donors and fundraisers pony up a few hundred thousand dollars. Which really isn't that much, especially in light of how much they gain in tax breaks, deregulation and such. And it's not like Bush is "repaying" these guys out of his own pocket. So where do the donor benefits come from? Nothing more telling than this entry in the article:

In 1999, Charles Cawley threw a cocktail party at his summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine, inviting 200 people to greet the town's most famous part-time resident, George W. Bush. The oceanfront soiree raised $200,000 for the candidate -- but Cawley wasn't acting purely out of neighborly good will. As the head of MBNA America Bank, the nation's biggest independent issuer of credit cards, Cawley wanted Bush to push for a new law making it harder for families hit by unemployment or huge medical bills to declare bankruptcy. Sure enough, not long after taking office, Bush backed the measure -- which would add $75 million a year to MBNA's bottom line. [emphasis mine]

For a mere two hundred grand, Bush will give this donor $75 million from the nation's poorest. Doesn't cost Bush a fucking dime.

That's American politics. The rich and powerful give a candidate enough money to trick the public into voting for him or her. In exchange, the elected candidate pays the donor back out of the people's pockets, their health, their jobs, their futures.

Morpheus : The Matrix is everywhere. It's all around us, even in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work, when you go to work, when you pay your taxes.

The Matrix is the world that has been pulled over your eyes, to blind you from the truth.

Neo : What truth?

Morpheus : That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else, you were born into bondage, born into a prison that you cannot smell or taste or touch. A prison...for your mind.

Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself.


[thanks to David D]

Posted by Jake at 11:55 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Week in Review, 03-12-04

A few more of this week's Axis of Justice newslinks showed up on the blog than usual, so I won't repeat them.

Is Military Creeping Into Domestic Law Enforcement?- while American law has long-standing prohibitions against the military acting on US soil. This article gives examples of American military spy agencies being aimed at American citizens.

Election Week in Russia- short blog by repoter Nathan Hodges, writing about Russia n life and politics on the week of its recent elections.

Anarchy in the Classroom- while "anarchist" and "terrorist" are rapidly becoming synonyms in the governmental lexicon, this college professor teaches a class in the political philosophy of anarchism, and put some of its anti-hierarchy principles into action.

Saudi Women Get the Vote- rules for new municipal elections in Saudi Arabia will allegedly not include a ban on women's right to vote, implying that they will be allowed to vote. However, I suspect that Saudi conservatives may try some pro-active disenfranchisement between now and the October elections.

Poverty Up, Women Still Down- it is popular among American newsweekly mags like Time and Newsweek to sporadically ask the "controversial" question "is feminism dead?" or "what happened to feminism?" In my view, feminism largely became an anti-poverty/poor people's rights movement. Because women are generally paid less and kept to lower-paying types of work, and because fathers often ditch their families and leave mothers to raise and care for their children alone, women bear the brunt of poverty, no matter where they are in the world. I see feminists speaking out for welfare, housing, health care and child care, and not so much of the fiery anti-sexist rhetoric of the past. Mags like Time and Newsweek don't notice, and therefore (in their eyes) feminism no longer exists.

Chomsky on Haiti- pretty much what it says. Smart guy Noam Chomsky gives his take on the current situation in Haiti, putting it into the larger contexts of corporate power, elite domination, American interventionism, and so on.

Posted by Jake at 06:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Scary Truth

Rahul Mahajan has a point.

More military prowess leads to more terrorist attacks, more defense of hard or politically significant targets leads to more indiscriminate attacks on soft targets, and it is simply impossible to defend all soft targets.
Posted by Jake at 01:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Willie Horton, We Hardly Knew Ye

The Bush team have released their second round of TV ads. The one titled "100 Days" is misleading and smears John Kerry as a terror-lover. But most appallingly, it plays on America's racism against central/south Asian folks. It briefly depicts a sinister dark-skinned man as a terrorist. When confronted with this, the Bush team apparently said that the man was not supposed to be Arab, and looks "generic." Blogger Rahul Mahajan thinks that the man clearly looks to be "north Indian or Pakistani." Given most Americans' lack of knowledge about folks from foreign lands...

But more importantly, here is "The Poor Man's" parody of the Bush ad.

Posted by Jake at 11:34 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 11, 2004

Labor Policy, Children, and Censorship

Steve Gilliard has a very interesting short essay which argues that the pro-censorship/anti-indecency hysteria going on right now is the direct outcome of a society/economy where increasingly overworked parents are forced to let the TV raise their kids. Never thought of it that way.

Posted by Jake at 04:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Newsy Quilt

Assorted recent news (including some media stuff that probably belongs in a different section. Oh well).

The New Pentagon Papers- THE article to read today (although you'll have to watch a web ad before you can read the whole thing). From whistleblower Karen Kwiatkowski, a former Defense Department intelligence agent, who tells all abou the political manipulations that got us into the Iraq war.

Liberal Talk Radio Network to Start Up in Three Cities- the long-discussed "liberal radio network" is set to start broadcast on March 31. "Air America Radio" will feature talk shows by Al Franken, Chuck D, and Janeane Garafalo. Will it succeed? Who knows. I'm going to try to get the radio show that I produce onto their network.

[edit]

Here's Air America Radio's daily schedule

[/edit]

Fish. Barrel. Boom- nice title. Essentially a series of quotes from various Republican pundits and politicians, which make them look like stupid evil hypocrites. To be fair, I'm guessing that a fair number of them are taken out of context. But some of them probably aren't. Apparently excerpted from a new book called "Take Them At Their Words", which is supposed to be filled with this sorta thing.

"Now They Tell Us": An Exchange- rebuttals and re-rebuttals about Michael Massing's critical piece Now They Tell Us, which harshly criticizes press apathy and complicity in the White House's drive for war. This article features letters from those criticized, defending themselves, and Massing's response to their responses.

In Boston, womenís radio station counters misogynistic rap- Angry at the constant misogyny in modern rap music, a dozen teen girls in Boston decide to set up their own radio station, "Radio Log", to broadcast female-positive music to the masses. Two words: hell yeah.

Bubba The Love Sponge 'Very Close' To New Deal- former radio shock-jock "Bubba the Love Sponge" was fired recently for incidences of "indecency" on his radio show (I wasn't too sad about this, as I think the motherfucker's a sexist asshole, but I do support his freedom of speech). But Bubba is saying that he may very well join up with satelite radio to continue his show. There is also a rumor that Howard Stern may do the same. Perhaps this indecency witchhunt might drive "risque" programming from the public airwaves to the paid-subscription airwaves.

Posted by Jake at 02:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Media Child Panic #29584937

Some months back I wrote about a sensationalist "news" story that swept the country about "sex bracelets". As it turned out, this story was pretty much all myth, but it was popular because it mixed parental fears, the "children grow up to fast" meme, sex, and taboo (kids having sex).

Well, on to the next scare:

XXX-DVDs a new hazard for drivers

The scary opening:

Andrea Carlton hadn't planned on telling her daughter about the birds and bees until she was 8 or 9. But that changed the night 4-year-old Catherine spotted a porno movie flickering on a screen in a minivan nearby.

On no! Won't somebody please think of the children!!!

This tale has most of the attractions of the bracelet story, but also involves the "new technology is going to destroy us all" meme.

Apparently, some people are playing porn on their in-car video systems, and unless their windows are tinted, people outside the car can sometimes see what's on those (tiny) screens. And some of those people could be *gasp* children.

The CNN article documents 1... 2... 3... 4 cases of it happening! In a nation of 290 million people! That's almost an epidemic! Well, okay. Only 2 of those 4 cases involved kids. But, you know... As one concerned mother so eloquently put it, "You're not allowed to have sex in your car, so why are you allowed to watch it?"

Indeed.

Okay, show of hands. How many of you have TV/DVD systems in your cars?

That's what I thought.

Now how many of you know someone else who does?

Great.

I live in Hollywood and work for rock stars, and therefore have a much higher probablity of knowing people with tricked out cars with expensive doo-dads than most folks. And I don't know anyone who has these DVD systems. How bad can this porn-car thing be if no one has TVs in their cars?

And who the fuck is watching porn in their car?

Yawn. Wake me when the next panic-the-parents story hits.

Posted by Jake at 10:45 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 10, 2004

Heathen Shellfish

I dig this.

GodHatesShrimp.com

This of course points out how while there are passages in the Bible which seem to decry homosexuality, there are also passages which decry the eating of creatures that "hath no fins nor scales in the waters". Which I guess means that God says it's okay to eat fish, dolphins, and even seals. But shrimp, jellyfish, and wet giraffes are off the menu.

And while that's a dig at Christianity, it's really an issue in all religions. You choose which portions of your religious text to focus on, and leave the rest alone. Lotta folks scream about gay sex, not so many worried about the shrimp-eating (although I am now pondering the idea of going to anti-gay protests holding up an anti-shrimp sign like the one on that website).

Like that new Mel Gibson movie, "Beating the Holy Living Fuck Out of Christ". I hear focuses an awful lot on the torture of Jesus, and how his suffering saves all mankind, but not so much on the whole "be kind and generous to others" message that he preached for most of his life.

Sadly, that's a fairly common focus of many Christians.

One of these days I really do mean to write a comprehensive religion article. As you might guess, I'm not exactly a fan.

Posted by Jake at 04:28 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

March 09, 2004

"When the institutions of money rule the world, it is perhaps inevitable that the interests of money will take precedence over the interests of people. What we are experiencing might best be described as a case of money colonizing life. To accept this absurd distortion of human institutions and purpose should be considered nothing less than an act of collective, suicidal insanity."
-David Korten

Posted by Jake at 07:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Shortest Barrier Between Two Points

Wow, amazing how hard it can be to answer a simple yes-or-no question.

Several weeks back, President Bush had announced that he would meet with the 9/11 investigation committee to answer their questions-- for an hour. Yes, while people like your or I might be willing to give up hours, days, or even months of our time if we thought it might somehow help prevent another catastrophic terrorist attack, the president is only willing to give up about 60 minutes.

At this morning's press briefing with White House spokesman Scott McClellan, reporters asked a simple question: has the president changed his mind about that 60 minute time limit? Apparently the president had made some ambiguous statements lately which could be interpretted to mean that he would now spend as much time with the investigators as they liked, so the press was asking McClellan if that was a correct interpretation (granted, the initial question was phrased in a much more confrontational way:

Q: Does the President want to really get to the bottom of the cause of 9/11? If he does, why would he limit his interview with the commission to one hour and for other officials, and, stonewall on documents?

McCLELLAN: I'm glad you brought this up. This administration has provided unprecedented cooperation to a legislative body in the 9/11 Commission. We have worked closely with the commission in a spirit of cooperation. And you only have to go back -- and I would appreciate it if you would report some of the facts of the type of access we have provided to the commission. We have provided the commission access to every bit of information that they have requested, including our most sensitive national security documents. And the commission chairman has stated such --

Q: Well, the commission certainly is not satisfied.

McCLELLAN: -- and as far as the President, the President looks forward to meeting with the chairman and vice chairman and answering all the questions that they want to raise.

Q: Why don't you just open the books and get to the truth? The American people deserve it.

McCLELLAN: Did you not hear what I just said, Helen? Have you not looked at the facts? I think you need to quit reading some of the coverage and look at the facts.

Q: You just said, ďall the questions they want to raise.Ē That means heís no longer going to limit it to an hour?

McCLELLAN: Well, thatís what itís scheduled for now. But, look, heís going to answer all the questions they want to raise. Keep in mind that the commission --

Q: If theyíre still asking at one hour, heíll still answer them?

McCLELLAN: Keep in mind that the commission has already had access to all the information they requested, as I just pointed out, including our most sensitive national security documents. Thatís what Iím talking about when Iím talking about unprecedented cooperation. And the commission has also -- yes, let me finish --

Q: The issue is whether heís limiting it to an hour --

McCLELLAN: Let me finish, Mark.

Q: -- and Iím asking a very simple question. If theyíre still asking questions at one hour --

McCLELLAN: I think itís important to point out the fact. Mark, let me finish. Mark, can I answer? Let me finish. Itís important that we point out these facts when we talk about this issue, because the facts have not been pointed out. The facts have not been pointed out. But the President -- I mean, the commission will be meeting with the President, after having talked for hours on hour with White House and senior administration officials. Weíve provided more than 2 million pages of documents; weíve provided more than 60 compact disks of radar, flight and other information; more than 800 audio cassette tapes of interviews and other materials; more than 100 briefings, including at the head-of-agency level; more than 560 interviews. Dr. Rice met with the commission recently, and even though only five members of the commission showed up, she sat down and visited with them for some four hours.

Q: I appreciate that. You reported all that when you first told it to us. Iím asking --

McCLELLAN: No, I donít think it was widely reported.

Q: Forgive me, I take responsibility for what I report, and I reported it.

McCLELLAN: I understand you -- I understand. But I take responsibility of talking to everybody here.

Q: Okay. All the questions that they have, heís going to answer. If theyíre still asking at one hour, is he still going to answer?

McCLELLAN: I just said that the President will answer all the questions that they want to raise. I think thatís important to point out. I mean, itís important to point out the unprecedented cooperation we have provided to this legislative body. We have worked very closely with the commission.

Q: -- when?

McCLELLAN: Still working on the exact time for that, working with the commission...

And it goes on. And on. I'm not exaggerating when I say that the complete transcript for this back and forth is five times longer than the snippet I've just quoted. I would estimate that McClellan spends ten minutes not answering the question at hand.

McClellan knows his talking points, and refuses to diverge from them for even a second: the administration has provided unprecedented cooperation to the investigators; 2 million pages of documents; the president looks forward to being questioned; the president will answer all the questions the investigators want to raise. And that's about it. Any words outside of that extremely narrow scope will not leave McClellan's mouth.

Of course, he's no Ari Fleischer. Fleischer was slipperier'n a teflon snake at the WD-40 convention. He'd've found a way to either subtly change the subject to one which made the president look better, or pretend that the reporter had asked a different question, or say "I think we've already covered that" and force the press conference to switch to another topic. You remember that scene in "The Matrix" on the rooftop, where Keanu starts firing bullets at an Agent, and the Agent twists and bends in 12 directions at once and dodges every bullet? That's Ari Fleischer. You know that scene shortly after where Keanu is firing a helicopter's machine gun at a room full of Agents, and when the dead reincarnated Agents run back into the room, Keanu shoots them and makes them fall down? That's Scott McClellan. Ari evades. Scott gets hit, goes down, but can't really be defeated.

[Jake pauses, gives himself the "worst political analogy of the week" award]

Anyhow.

The Bush administration really doesn't have a leg to stand on here. There simply is no reasonable explanation for why the president wouldn't give this commission as much time as they asked for to answer their questions. There just isn't. Their only hope is to point out how "cooperative" they're being or try to confuse the issue.

And why don't they want this commission to be able to do its job? Because it's unlikely to say anything positive about the Bush administration. It's a report geared to (allegedly) find flaws and errors in US defense, security and intelligence in hopes of correcting those flaws. As a result, the report will be rife with ammunition that Bush's political rivals can use to attack his administration.

Am I suggesting that Bush is more concerned with re-election than with really dealing with protecting the country from future terrorist attacks? Yes and no. I think that Bush and his team are arrogant and crazy enough to think that only they can protect America (by invading countries that could possibly, maybe, potentially one day think about harming some aspect of the United States), and therefore stonewalling a commission in order to get re-elected and protecting the country are the same thing. Fucking loons.

Posted by Jake at 07:09 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Mockalicious

I spent some of my radio show yesterday playing and ridiculing George W. Bush's latest TV ads, but this clip of Howard Stern doing the same really blows me out of the water. Give it a listen, es muy chistoso.

[update]

Jeez, then Stern just goes nuts in these clips. He is sooooo pissed at Bush, primarily in these clips, about the economy and Bush's refusal to allow stem cell research. I read last week that Howard Stern has an audience of around 18 million people (well, before Clear Channel booted him off of some of their stations). It is actually possible that Stern might have an impact on this election.

[/update]

Posted by Jake at 09:28 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Tasty Sounds

My friend Ronny Mikkelsen, who engineers the radio show I produce (the Axis of Justice Radio Network), has dreamed up and worked to create a new weekly radio show on KPFK about the politics of food. Which when you think about it, is a rich and vital subject. Why do we eat what we eat? Who makes our food? What are the effects of our agricultural and consumption habits on society and the environment? Who makes the money? How does big business effect national health policy and how our culture relates to food? So on and so on.

The show's called The Organic Lounge, and premieres today, March 9, at 2pm on KPFK. 90.7 FM in LA/southern California, 98.7 FM in Santa Barbara, KPFK.org (click on "listen live") on the rest of planet Earth.

I'm not sure if they're going to archive shows on their website or not, but I'll be adding a link to their site (still under construction) down in the "Sonic Resistance" links section on this page when I get a chance.

Posted by Jake at 08:55 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sneak Attack

This really pisses me off.

The MoveOn.org Voter Fund is a "527", a new form of political organization that can collect as much money as it likes, and can use that money on political advertising, so long as it doesn't support or oppose a specific candidate. 527s seem most effective in soliciting donations from partisan voters and then running TV ads that highlight a political topic which makes their opponent look bad (e.g. the "Bush in 30 Seconds" contest winner "Child's Pay", about the effects of the federal deficit). I couldn't tell you just yet if 527s are a good thing or a bad thing, but they are a legal thing-- at least for now.

Enter the Republican party.

A lawyer for the Republican National Committee wrote a letter to 250 TV stations around the country, demanding that these stations not air the MoveOn.org Voter Fund's ads, because they are illegally financed. The letter concludes with a not so subtle warning that the station's could lose their licenses if they continue their "complicity in illegal activity."

If the ads were truly a violation of broadcast law, the stations could expect a letter of warning from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). If the ads violated electoral law, the stations could expect a letter of warning from the Federal Election Commission (FEC). But a letter from the Republican National Committee (RNC)? Last I checked, they weren't responsible for the enforcement of any kind of law.

I could continue tearing this apart, but I'll save us all the time.

This is a scare tactic. The Republicans are trying to scare TV stations into banning ads from liberal 527s by threatening to take away those stations' broadcast licenses. What a bunch of bitches.

Posted by Jake at 12:29 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 08, 2004

03-08-04

Propagandhi- White, Proud and Stupid
Concrete Blonde- Everybody Knows
Charizma & Peanut Butter Wolf- Methods
The Magnetic Fields- Let's Pretend We're Bunny Rabbits
The Casualties- City Life
Tom Waits- Jockey Full of Bourbon
Rolling Stones- Paint It Black
Nirvana- About a Girl (acoustic)
Anti-Flag- This Machine Kills Fascists (live)
Lexicon- Gotta Believe
Ani DiFranco- Serpentine
Sonic Youth- Titanium Expose
Richard Cheese- Hot for Teacher
MF Doom and Madlib- Deuce Goose / Jack Off
Johnny Cash- Folsm Prison Blues
Le Tigre- Bang! Bang!
The Roots- The Spark

Posted by Jake at 10:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 05, 2004

Week In Review 03-05-04

(I had a clever title for this, but it was so obscure that even I didn't get it)

Gonna try something kinda new here. Every weekday morning, I spend an hour or two trawling the internet for news articles to post on the website for my paying job, AxisOfJustice.org. Since I do this every day, it would make sense to just transfer those article links from that site to this one, but that doesn't feel appropriate.

I can't entirely explain it, but the links I choose for the Axis site have a bit more purpose, and fit a vague yet grand design inside my head. I choose articles aimed at bright American teens who don't read much news besides the headlines. I want the articles I choose to either focus on parts of the world that don't get much coverage, or that give new background and context to familiar news topics. I want them to display the cruelty and corruption of this world, but to temper it with stories of courageous resistance, and even the occasional uplifting victory. And somehow, the three daily articles I pick either have to collectively fit this vision, or combine with older posted articles to give that overall impression.

I have no such grand design for the LMB site, so somehow just transferring the articles over seemed like a bad fit.

So, in a fit of obvious insight, I decided that every week I should look over all the Axis articles I've posted, and see which ones do fit over here, and post the links here. Genius, I tells ya. It's something I hope to do regularly.

When All is Looted & Pillaged, Your Hunger Will Remain: The Hatian Boomerang- article by a friend of mine, JG of the rap group Over the Counter Intelligence (weird how modern friendships work. Been writing him back and forth for like a year, just met him for the first time today). JG is Haitian-born and visits there often, and he is just torn up inside over the latest coup. Here is his take on the situation. In addition, he told me that he had another article posted in the same publication that attacks the American left for being so silent on the conflict. Haven't read it yet, don't know if it's any good.

The Junk Science of George W. Bush- if you haven't been paying attention, the Bush administration has been laying waste to the international scientific community, as best as it is able, because science (or some might say "reality") is at odds with the governmental policies it wants to put forth.

Hit the Road Sam- nice story about activists fighting back against US military plans to recruit youth of color in their neighborhoods.

Democrat Not Spoken Here- another article which seeks to answer the question, "why do white, working class Americans vote for politicians with anti-working class policies?", with focus on voters in the South.

If Kerry's the Answer, What's the Question?- author of the book I'm always plugging here, Killing Hope, looks at recent statements that John Kerry has made about foreign policy. Although I think his source material is a little thin, the author concludes that Kerry's foreign policy will be like Bush's with some tweaks here and there, "but nothing at all threatening, or even challenging, to business as usual for American foreign policy." I just want everyone to keep remembering that even though Kerry is probably the lesser of two evils, that he's still evil.

Liberals, bare your teeth- battle-cry from Geov Parrish:

If you were defending yourself, your spouse, your loved ones, your kids from a life-threatening menace, you wouldn't engage in polite debate with the menace. You'd do what was necessary to make sure it could do no harm. That's Election 2004. Your job prospects are on the line. Your retirement. Your future health care. Your civil liberties. Your constitutional rights. Your kids' educations. Their kids' portion of the insane debts now being paid off to the hyperwealthy, assuming there's a natural world left to be poor in by the time these parasites finish any second term. And, beyond it all, it's your city or town increasingly likely to be targeted by some fanatic from some far side of the world who hates what your government did to murder his family...

Act like you're in a war. You are. Every day you wake up, do something about it. You have until November.

Fists in the air, everybody.

Plunder and Profit- nothing really new in this article if you're familiar with the methods of the World Bank and IMF. If you're not familiar, read this damn article, and this little FAQ to get you started.

Lessons from Argentina: Your Factory, Under Worker Control- in the wake of Argentina's total economic collapse, we see the inspiring phenomenon of former workers entering their abandonded former factories, fixing them, and running them without the "help" of owners, bosses or overseers-- the holy grail of the "democratic workplace". Imagine how much less your job would suck if you had partners, not bosses, and your ideas, goals and creativity actually mattered. Something to keep in mind.

Posted by Jake at 10:05 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 04, 2004

Nipple Ripples

The impact of Janet Jackson's breast-baring continues to reverberate.

The popular (yet puzzling) shock and outrage has been seen by some political folk as a mandate for a crackdown on naughty media. The FCC has rolled out new rules and punishments for TV and radio stations which violate obscenity and indecency laws (but has no problem with the way that monopolistic media destroys democracy. Gotta have your priorities, I guess).

While we're at it, we may as well lay out those rules:

Obscenity: must meet three criteria- "(1) an average person, applying contemporary community standards, must find that the material, as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest; (2) the material must depict or describe, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by applicable law; and (3) the material, taken as a whole, must lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value." Basically, sexual material aimed at getting you horny, and only at getting you horny. Despite what most people believe about the First Amendment, obscene speech is against the law. If you want your sexy content to be legal, make sure it has some kind of "literary, artistic, political or scientific value." Say that one of the actresses in your porn film is supposed to be Charlotte Bronte and you'll be good to go.

Indecency: "Depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium, sexual or excretory organs or activities." That means pee-pees, poo-poo, fannies or hoo-hoos. Indecent material is legal in print, but only permissable late at night on radio and TV (10pm-6am).

One of these days I really should write an article about all of the legal restrictions we Americans have on our rights to free speech. There are quite a lot of them, really.

Anyhow. Due to the Janet Jackson thing, our broadcast industries are freaked out that they might face government regulation. In addition to that, Clear Channel recently received some of the stiffest fines in the history of the FCC for indecent comments made by their DJ "Bubba the Love Sponge"-- $755,000. Bubba has since been fired.

Around this time, Clear Channel suddenly decided that it was a staunch supporter of American decency, and dusted off/created a list of decency codes. Popular Viacom DJ Howard Stern allegedly violated some of those codes, so Clear Channel removed Stern from 6 of its stations. That's really not that big a blow, but those stations were in some pretty major markets.

Do these crackdowns signal a hard right turn in our culture? Probably not. I think that this editorial gets it right when it points out that the predicted "permanent shift" in media tone after 9/11 lasted about six months, and naked tits don't score quite that high on the trauma scale, even if those displayed while the whole world is watching.

But as this chain of dominos keeps falling, as players react when acted upon. It is theorized that in anger over his censorship, that Howard Stern might try to get himself fired from Viacom and take up with one of the satelite radio companies, XM or Sirius, taking some fraction of his 18 million listeners with him and turning them into viable media outlets (at present the combined listenership of satelite radio in the US is around 1.5 million).

If things got worse for Stern this would seem possible, but I don't think it's real likely. Although I would love to see the headline "Jackson's Nipple Launches Satelite Radio".

[edit]

I am aware of the allegations that the reason that Bubba and Stern were cut loose was because they had been criticizing President Bush on their shows. That is certainly a possible explanation, but I try to look for the simplest, most reasonable answers. And when it comes to corporations, the simplest answer is usually "money". Frequently when a company fears that government may pass regulatory legislation on their industry, they usually try to pre-emptively self-regulate, assuming that their own half-assed and misleading attempts to solve the problems themselves will save them the money that obeying externally imposed regulation would cost. I think that reason is more plausible than some sort of secret Clear Channel political agenda.

[/edit]

Posted by Jake at 10:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Noisy Links Added

I just added a new batch of links to the right hand column, down towards the bottom, called "Sonic Resistance." It's a list of websites for politically radical radio programs, pirate radio stations, low-power radio stations, community radio stations, and other audio projects with important informational/political/cultural messages. As I am a quasi-pirate DJ, a radio show producer, and have many DJ/pirate friends, it is a somewhat incestuous list, but nonetheless, there's a lot of good programming in there.

Posted by Jake at 12:52 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 03, 2004

Brother, Can You Spare a Dietary Supplement?

Li'l help?

Like many Americans, my knowledge of health, nutrition, and the human body is near non-existent. Growing up in school, "physical education" meant "gimme ten laps", "health class" meant "how babies are made" and "biology" meant "color in this drawing of a plant cell." It's scandalous, really. The Constitution promises to "promote the general welfare", and the nation's schools works on its young citizens' health by filling their campuses with Coke and candy machines, and teaching them how to cook a perfectly balanced trigonometry function.

Trigonometry for fuck's sake! They've got time to teach you shit about sine waves but not enough to say "try the calcium." Kids, I'll tell you square: trigonometry is useless unless you plan on being a pool shark or a math teacher (and even then, you could probably fake it).

Anyhow, I've been wanting to correct this massive educational neglect by teaching myself a few things about nutrition. Seems like something a person oughta know. But walk down to your local bookstore and go to the health and nutrition section and what do you find? Books on fad diets, books on fad medical theories, and, if you're lucky, graphic books about sex nervously misplaced by curious teen boys.

The point is that I'm ignorant about nutrition, and the only books I find on the subject (when I'm consciously looking for them, anyway) tend to be shady tomes trying to sell me snake oil (or the vegan, low-carb equivalent thereof).

Y'all are some smart people. Can anyone recommend a good, basic "how food affects your health" or "what you should eat to make all your bodily systems work properly" sorta book? I'd appreciate it.

Posted by Jake at 10:52 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Door, Ass, Way Out

Haw Haw!

Michael Eiser Fired as Disney's Chairman of the Board

Posted by Jake at 10:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

There's this guy on TV who's telling me that he wants to "take all the confusion out of buying a mattress." Thank god, cuz buying a mattress is like doing calculus and shit.

Posted by Jake at 04:31 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

What Passes for News These Days

Copied from Empire Notes, transcribed from Fox News' "The Big Story with John Gibson", March 2, 2004:

JOHN GIBSON: Folks in Haiti getting used to life without Jean-Bertrand Aristide. As for Aristide, he is in exile pushing the idea that he is the victim of a coup. Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano has more on the hazards of being a dictator. Well, one of the hazards is you get run out of the country.

JUDGE ANDREW NAPOLITANO, FOX NEWS SENIOR JUDICIAL ANALYST: Absolutely. And you get run to a country which may turn on you. I mean, this Central African Republic has a horrific history of housing dictators. Emperor Bokassa I, who was reputed to be a cannibal.

GIBSON: He was actually acquitted of that charge.

NAPOLITANO: Acquitted of the cannibalism but convicted of murder. When the Central Africa Republic got tired of supporting his lavish lifestyle sent him back to the country out of which he had been kicked. They tried him for murder, sentenced him to 20 years. He was let out after a couple years and eventually died. So we don't know what life will be like for Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Jeeeeee-zus is that some fast & loose playing with the facts.

First, Gibson simply asserts that the democratically-elected Aristide is a "dictator."

Then dismisses Aristide's claims of "coup" out of hand. (As I note in this entry, Aristide was obviously the victim of a coup, what with all the armed men telling him to resign or be killed.)

Then, they imply that Aristide is a dictator again, because he's in Central African Republic, which they claim "houses dictators."

Then, they assert that some guy's a cannibal, even though he apparently isn't.

Net result: "Jean-Bertrand Aristide is a dictator cannibal on the run, who will die a horrible death."

Fox News needs a new slogan. Instead of "We Report. You Decide", it should be "Look at Me!! Look at Me!!"

Posted by Jake at 11:35 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

"The funny thing about one person making a difference, is that when you stand up, you find you're not standing alone."
-Steve Coffman

Posted by Jake at 10:09 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Movie Sense Tingling

Jeez, comic books have overrun the movie industry to an amazing degree. Check out this list of scheduled comic book-based movies just by Marvel Comics:

The Punisher- April 16, 2004
Spider-Man 2- July 2, 2004
Blade 3- August 13, 2004
Man-Thing- October 2004
Fantastic Four- July 2005
Iron Man- November 2005
Ghost Rider- 2005
Luke Cage- 2005
X-Men 3- 2006
The Hulk 2- 2006
Namor- 2006
The Punisher 2- 2006
Spider-Man 3- 2007
Elektra- TBA
Iron Fist- TBA
Black Widow- TBA
Deathlok- TBA
Captain America- ?
Nick Fury- ?

That makes for at least planned 17 comic book films in the next 3 years (and surely other comic companies have movies in the mix). Now the big question is, do you think that America's love of comic book movies will last that long, or is it a fad that is soon to die? I don't know about you, but I wouldn't be making plans for 3 years from now based upon what worked last year.

Posted by Jake at 09:26 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 02, 2004

Haiti in a Handbasket

An awful lot of bloggers have written this entry today:

I was going to write about the situation in Haiti, but...

And I'm one of em.

I had collected a whole mess of links with in-depth information that help put the pieces of this puzzle together, but The Progress Report really nailed it.

I would highly recommend reading these individual articles on the Haiti conflict:

Don't Fall for Washington's Spin on Haiti (alternate link here)

U.S. political maneuvering behind the ouster

Death squad help for Haiti rebels

That last one should leave you cold.

The way that the US has responded to this revolt is amazing and hypocritical, but the media don't seem to be noticing somehow. Therefore we must highlight this as we often do, with a visit from the Analogy Fairy (see how comfortable I am with my masculinity?)

Imagine that three weeks ago, armed British thugs began seizing power of small British villages. They claimed that they were "rebels" and wanted Tony Blair to step down from power, as he was corrupt and hurting the British people. Blair refused, and the thugs continued their efforts. At this point, the White House advised the democratically-elected Tony Blair to compromise and share power with the armed thugs. And Tony Blair, fearing for his country (or his life), agreed. And the thugs refused the offer, and marched on London. Then, under mysterious circumstances, Blair was gone, leaving behind a note of resignation. Following the law of the land, Blair's successor takes over (Don't know my British government well, but I think that would be Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott). Then, American and French troops enter Britain and start setting up a new government made up of the old government, the thugs, and the "international community."

The astounding bit in there is that the United "We [heart] Democracy" States made no effort to support the democratic regime from violent attack, suggested that the thugs be given power despite their glaring lack of an electoral mandate, and then, even though the government seemed intact, decided to put a new one in its place.

The "was it a coup?" debate is one of the silliest things I've ever seen. Of course it was a coup. My first clue was when an army of men with guns demanded that the president step down or they would kill him. Was the United States behind it? Probably to some extent. The US' general modus operandi in Latin America is to find people you support, or who at least hate the guys you disagree with, and throw money at them until they do what you want (while simultaneously keeping money out of the hands of the people you oppose). So while I have yet to see anything concrete on the issue, but I'm suspicious.

So what's going to happen in Haiti? Predictions are usually pointless, but I suspect that the non-thuggish opposition (there is one) will end up taking the reins (based upon US insistence on a legitimate-looking regime) while the thugs retake the military and end up calling most of the nation's shots.

Posted by Jake at 11:20 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Feed the Rich

Everyone on the blogosphere seems to be linking to this article today, for good reason.

Although the rest of the government is running huge deficits ó and never did run much of a surplus ó the Social Security system is currently taking in much more money than it spends. Thanks to those surpluses, the program is fully financed at least through 2042. The cost of securing the program's future for many decades after that would be modest ó a small fraction of the revenue that will be lost if the Bush tax cuts are made permanent.

And the reason Social Security is in fairly good shape is that during the 1980's the Greenspan commission persuaded Congress to increase the payroll tax, which supports the program.

The payroll tax is regressive: it falls much more heavily on middle- and lower-income families than it does on the rich. In fact, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates, families near the middle of the income distribution pay almost twice as much in payroll taxes as in income taxes. Yet people were willing to accept a regressive tax increase to sustain Social Security.

Now the joke's on them. Mr. Greenspan pushed through an increase in taxes on working Americans, generating a Social Security surplus. Then he used that surplus to argue for tax cuts that deliver very little relief to most people, but are worth a lot to those making more than $300,000 a year. And now that those tax cuts have contributed to a soaring deficit, he wants to cut Social Security benefits.

The point, of course, is that if anyone had tried to sell this package honestly ó "Let's raise taxes and cut benefits for working families so we can give big tax cuts to the rich!" ó voters would have been outraged. So the class warriors of the right engaged in bait-and-switch.

Your payroll taxes pay for Social Security. But only the first $80,000 or so of your paycheck is taxed thus, so the rest of your income is payroll tax-free. Since most of us make far less than that, that cap is irrelevant. To people who make more than that, it's a blessing, making their payroll tax rate is much less than people who make less than $80,000 a year.

The stated reason for this is that since there is a limit on how much Social Security money you can receive, that there should be a limit on how much you have to pay in. Kinda makes sense, kinda doesn't. You can only receive so much in government services in your lifetime, does that mean there should be a limit on how much you pay in income tax? I don't know.

Now the governmental budget is in trouble, significantly due to the tax cuts for the rich Bush keeps shoving through Congress. So to make up for that cash shortfall, Alan Greenspan is arguing that Social Security benefits should be cut. The whole nation takes a cut in benefits to, in part, pay for a tax cut for the rich.

Class warfare, as American as apple pie.

Posted by Jake at 08:36 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 01, 2004

03-01-04

RJD2- The Horror
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club- Six Barrel Shotgun
Against Me!- Turn Those Clapping Hands Into Angry Balled Fists
Interpol- PDA
Propagandhi- Fuck the Border
Bill Hicks- Easter / The Pope / Dinosaurs in the Bible
INXS- Heaven Sent
Refused- Rather Be Dead
Tori Amos- Professional Widow
Styles of Beyond w/ 4-Zone- Pay Me
Born Against- The Nail That Sticks Up Gets Hammered Down / This Trash Should've Been Free / Resist Control
Rage Against the Machine- In My Eyes
Paris- Make Way for a Panther / Sleeping with the Enemy
Covenant- Feedback
The Dresden Dolls- Girl Anachronism
Mos Def and Massive Attack- I Against I
Princess Superstar- Super Fantasy
Bad Religion- Automatic Man
Johnny Cash- Hurt
Lightning Seeds- You Showed Me
Damon Albarn- 4AM at Toumanis

Posted by Jake at 10:34 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

"It might be good for our citizens to recall (or learn for the first time) that the United States was the creation of men who believed that each man has the right to do what he wants with his own life as long as he does not interfere with his neighbor's pursuit of happiness (that his neighbor's idea of happiness is persecuting others does confuse matters a bit)."
-Gore Vidal

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

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Media News

March 30, 2004

As Liberal as They Wanna Be

You've heard about that upcoming liberal talk radio network, right? A group of three AM radio stations, with liberal/progressive hosts like Al Franken and Janeane Garafalo, that will stick it to The right-wing radio Man?

Sadly, there's a seamy underbelly here:

Liberal Air America will displace Black talk at WLIB

One of the new network stations, WLIB, was formerly filled with programming aimed at the politics and concerns of NYC's African-American and Carribbean-American communities, very rare in today's corporate media-domnated environment.

Now WLIB's gonna be mostly white folks smirking about how Bill O'Reilly says things which are inaccurate.

I am unfamiliar with WLIB, so I can't speak too much on its content or importance. In fact, it may have been slipping for some time now. According to this article, WLIB seems to have been edging away from its community-oriented programming towards more profit-friendly fare for some years now.

But still, it's hard to see this as anything other than "well-meaning" white people taking control of a black enterprise for the benefit of "everyone" (where "everyone" means "mostly middle class white people").

The new Air America Radio network starts broadcasting tomorrow at noon. Maybe someone should call in to figurehead Al Franken's show and ask him about the network's takeover of WLIB.

Posted by Jake at 09:16 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
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"When the institutions of money rule the world, it is perhaps inevitable that the interests of money will take precedence over the interests of people. What we are experiencing might best be described as a case of money colonizing life. To accept this absurd distortion of human institutions and purpose should be considered nothing less than an act of collective, suicidal insanity."
-David Korten

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