Lying Media Bastards

April 30, 2004

Censo-Rama

As you may have heard, tonight's edition of Nightline (ABC) will solely be a reading of names and showing of images of American soldiers who have been killed in the war on Iraq.

As you may have also heard, the Sinclair Broadcast Group, a multimedia conglomerate that owns 62 television stations (reaching 24% of the US population) has told its 8 ABC affiliates not to air the Nightline program.

The Sinclair Group says that it is refusing to air this broadcast because it "appears to be motivated by a political agenda designed to undermine the efforts of the United States in Iraq." It then "proves" its case by pondering the question, "why [Ted Koppel] chose to read the names of 523 troops killed in combat in Iraq, rather than the names of the thousands of private citizens killed in terrorist attacks since and including the events of September 11, 2001." Which seems to be incorrect; ABC asserts that it did read all of the names of the 9/11 victims on the one-year anniversary of the attacks, leaving Sinclair with nothing but an unsubstantiated insinuation.

It is posible that Sinclair's motives are genuine, thinking that they are protecting the American people from ABC's harmful political agenda. But Sinclair has a history of supporting the Bush administration and a right-wing agenda. Some of these actions include: forcing their news anchors read statements of "full support" for President Bush after 9/11; refusing to air a Democratic campaign ad critical of Bush; and just donating lots of cash to Bush and the Republicans.

This shows the danger of media consolidation: censorship. Eight regions of the US will not see this commemoration of the dead because of the political views of some corporate bigwigs.

What's also interesting is the assumption that remembering the dead will cause harm. It is reasonable to think that the public, faced with a stark reminder of all of this death, may turn against the war and its supporters. Or, contrariwise, viewers could see all this death and be even more determined that the United States win the war, so that all these soldiers will not have died in vain. Honestly, poll data seems to support the latter; the worse we do in Iraq, the more Americans seem to want to rally behind the president.

Although it's a bit of a tangent, I also wanted to remark upon today's USA Today front page. The key headline was "Iraq's Deadliest Month", followed by an article about the large numbers of Americans killed in Iraq in April: 134. But to me, that shows an amount of America-centrism that's somewhat insulting. Iraq has existed as a nation since the 1930s, is home to 25 million Iraqis, and it's "deadliest month" just happened, and when 134 foreigners are killed? The article doesn't even mention the number of Iraqis killed this month (which the Associated Press claims is 1361-- ten times the number of Americans). It's as though Iraq is only visible when Americans are in it, and the deaths of people there only matter if those people were born under an American flag.

I'm thinking that Iraq has had "deadlier months", possibly including the final days of Gulf War I, one of the months of the embargo when people were dying of starvation and lack of medicine, or even the opening days of the latest war, thanks to Shock and Awe.

I understand that this USA Today article was not trying to be about the suffering of the Iraqis, or about the general suffering of war. And I'm not trying to say that the death of an Iraqi is more important than the death of an American. All of the deaths on all sides are tragic. I feel bad for all of the people who's lives are being cut short by the conflict, and for all of the brothers, mothers, wives, husbands, fathers and friends who will have to live the rest of their lives with a hole where their loved one used to be.

The idea that one life, or one death, is more important than another, is one of the main reasons we still have war.

Posted by Jake at 05:38 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 29, 2004

Plumbing the Depths

Will you tune in tomorrow night to watch "Who Wants to Win a Human Baby?"

Jesus fucking Christ.

Posted by Jake at 11:17 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

To listen to the CD perched on my finger, I need to swap it for one of the 5 discs in the changer. Black Panther rap. Skip. Instrumental hip-hop. Skip. Funky white guy rap. Skip. New conscious political rap. Skip. Whoa, Cocteau Twins! "Which of these things is not like the others?" Swap. Cool, now I can listen to the "Fuck You, Pay Me" song.

(links included so you can play along at home)

Posted by Jake at 10:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 28, 2004

Iraq Stuff

The flag thing. Iraqis are justifiably upset that:


  • their flag was changed;
  • the new flag is missing its traditional Islamic colors;
  • the new flag is missing the religious phrase "God is Great" (although the words were inserted back in 1991);
  • the flag has gained colors like Israel's;
  • a whole 30 people out of a nation of 24 million entered the "contest" for the country's new flag;
  • the flag contest was won by an Iraqi who lives in London instead of Iraq;
  • the flag contest was won by the brother of the head of the "find a new Iraqi flag" committee;
  • the flag of the new "democratic" Iraq was chosen by a group of unelected governmental officials who were appointed by the nation's occupiers.

And look at all the cool flags Iraq has had throughout history. They couldn't just go back to one of the old ones?

Council spokesman Hameed al-Khafaei said "This is a new era. We cannot continue with Saddam's flag." Apparently Iraq has also decided not to continue with Saddam's working electricity and Saddam's potable water.

[We will now interrupt this blog entry with a brief comic interlude featuring Ahmad Chalabi]

Now, back to the show.

Possibly the most important future news for Iraq is what the new government will look like on June 30, when the US "transfers authority" to the Iraqis. To find that out, we should look at the latest plan by UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi:


  • on June 30, the Interim Governing Council is dissolved;
  • the UN, IGC, and Coalition Provisional Authority select members of a caretaker government, that will rule till January 2005, when national elections will take place;
  • this caretaker government should be "comprised of honest and technically qualified persons";
  • members of the caretaker government should be people that will not run for office in the January elections;
  • the caretaker government will be made up of one Prime Minister, one President, and two Vice-Presidents;
  • the caretaker government should avoid making long-term decisions, because it is not an elected body, and is not representative of the people of Iraq;
  • a "consultative council" of over 1000 Iraqis would meet, to offer advice to the government. This part is kinda vague.

Colin Powell then announced that the government would have to give up some of its sovereignty so that the US military could do whatever it wanted inside the country. So that's a bit of a let-down.

And don't even get me started on Fallujah and Najaf. The seige of Fallujah seems to be a manly fantasy to avenge the death and mutilations of those mercenaries, and the seige of Najaf threatens to turn the Iraqi insurgency into a full-fledged guerrilla war by the Shia at large.

I'm not Iraqi. I've never been to Iraq. In fact, I'm not even sure if I personally know anyone of Iraqi descent. But I'd like to think that I'm smart enough to have avoided the majority of the really, really stupid mistakes that the US is making in Iraq on a regular basis.

Posted by Jake at 10:09 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Mediatron

Air America: Clear Channel Lite- while I think it's a little ridiculous to compare tiny liberal AM radio network Air America to commercial radio behemoth Clear Channel, the article has a number of serious criticisms of the former. Primarily, the article exposes the seemingly unintentional racism of Air America and its staff.

Daily Howler 1 and 2- Bob Somerby of the Daily Howler has two columns that rip new assholes in a number of biased political journalists. Good reads, check em both out.

The Way They Were- check out the latest cover of US News & World Report magazine of George W. Bush and John Kerry circa 1971. Kerry, known for being a veteran, is represented by a picture of himself in a regular suit. Bush, who is known for using his daddy's connections to get into the National Guard to avoid Vietnam, is depicted by a photo of himself in his military uniform. Provocative juxtaposition? Ironic inversion? Political hackery? You make the call.

Another Africa Calamity -- Will Media Slumber On?- "American journalists are generally slower to cover mass death if the victims are not white." Obvious, but sometimes it's nice to have people point out what's being ignored, even when it's obvious.

Access of Evil- Newsweek interviews Democracy Now's Amy Goodman. Goodman has done a lot of great reporting over the years, but I find she too often resorts to partisanship and sensationalism in her journalism. Anyhow, she's out promoting her new book, and the newsmagazine asks her about the media. As one can expect, her answers are not flattering.

Much of What Advertisers Are Doing Is an Invasion of Privacy- really pretty amazing thing here. The marketing trade magazine Advertising Age, feeling the pinch of declining ad revenue, asks anti-advertising activist Gary Ruskin to write them an article explaining why people hate advertising so much. I think Ruskin's critique is right on, that consumers are disgusted with advertisers because they refuse to recognize any boundaries, and because they refuse to acknowledge it when their campaigns actually do harm.

Swallow This, Deep Throat- intriguing article which argues that it is no longer necessary or desirable for reporters to use anonymous sources. The author points out that there have only really been three explosive anonymous sources (Deep Throat, Daniel "Pentagon Papers" Ellsburg and Jeffrey "The Insider" Wigand), and two of those three had their identities exposed immediately. Now, individuals take advantage of reporters' hope to be the next Woodward & Bernstein by giving them anonymous quotes and info for those individual's own political gain, facing no consequences for their actions.

Posted by Jake at 01:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 27, 2004

(Mud) Slings and (Bullshit) Arrows

Man, I am really getting pissed at the Republican smear machine. Well, let me focus. I hate Republican smear monger Karen Hughes.

Hughes is a long-time employee of President W, going back to the days when he was just Governor W, and even before that. Hughes was W's top aide in the White House, before quitting to spend more time with her family. But now she's back to help with W's election campaign.

Before getting into the specifics of why I hate Karen, let's examine this anecdote about Hughes from smirky conservative Tucker Carlson. Me and Tucker aren't likely to agree on much, but this seems pretty nail-on-the-headish:

Then I heard that [on the campaign bus, Bush communications director] Karen Hughes accused me of lying. And so I called Karen and asked her why she was saying this, and she had this almost Orwellian rap that she laid on me about how things she'd heard -- that I watched her hear -- she in fact had never heard, and she'd never heard Bush use profanity ever. It was insane.

I've obviously been lied to a lot by campaign operatives, but the striking thing about the way she lied was she knew I knew she was lying, and she did it anyway. There is no word in English that captures that. It almost crosses over from bravado into mental illness.

(emphasis mine)

Wow. Lying to someone's face even when they know that you know they're lying. And she's one of Bush's key spokespeople.

It's gonna be a long campaign.

I haven't had too much exposure to Hughes, but her style seems to be one of plain-spoken rhetoric that deliberately confuses, distorts, and makes erroneous connections between non-related things. For example, the first time I heard her speak for the 2004 Bush campaign was on NPR about a month ago, in a small pickup truck as a parking lot security guard tried to help me find my stolen car. Hughes was talking about the recent testimony of Richard Clarke. Hughes said something to the effect of "it's really unfortunate that Richard Clarke is giving the appearance that America is to blame for 9/11, when the only people responsible for the attacks are Al Qaeda."

She massively distorted Clarke's message (obviously with full knowledge that he did not say anything close to what she claimed he said) so that she could take the only real rebuttal ("Bush is not incompetent") into an innapropriate, but much more powerful one ("Al Qaeda is bad").

When I heard her say this, for a few seconds, it seemed to me that finding my missing car was nowhere near as important as convincing the elderly Jamaican security guard next to me that Karen Hughes was a miserable lying bitch. But that feeling faded as we continued to search for the car that was already being joyridden miles away.

The next smear I heard from Hughes highlighted another aspect of her strategy: phrasing things in terms of vague anxiety: "it is unfortunate that...", "it find it distressing that...", "I am very troubled by..." This way, she doesn't have to actually explain her smears, all she needs to say is that Rumor X about Politician Y causes her discomfort in some way.

Like when she says that "I remember watching Senator Kerry, back when he was against the [Vietnam] war, when he came home, and I was very troubled by the kind of allegations that he hurled against his fellow veterans..."

First of all, I don't believe her. I don't believe that she actually remembers seeing Kerry speak out in the early 1970s. It really is amazing how Kerry has been transformed from "some guy in the Senate" to "leader of the anti-war movement" in a matter of months. He was one of thousands of people involved in the movement at the time, and now everybody seems to be conveniently remembering him as a major player.

Second, you see how this rhetorical device allows her to insinuate that Kerry is a terrible human without having to actually explain why. In this particular instance, she does elaborate a tiny bit and say that Kerry's allegations were "irresponsible", but she doesn't really bother to explain how or why they were irresponsible.

Then, you had Hughes bringing up some really irrelevant (and apparently fabricated) shit to again insinuate that Kerry is of poor moral fiber. In a symbolic gesture back in the 70s, Kerry took some of the medals he'd been awarded during the war, threw them at the Capitol building, and left them there. Hughes, apparently not realizing that soldiers use the terms "ribbons" and "medals" interchangably, insinuates that Kerry only threw his "ribbons", while keeping his medals, thus proving that he's a big hypocrite. Actually, her exact words were "I think that's very revealing." Revealing of what? Don't ask Karen, her work here is done.

Then, finally we get Karen's most outrageous spin job about the recent pro-choice rally in Washington DC.

it's always an issue. And I frankly think it's changing somewhat. I think after September 11th the American people are valuing life more and realizing that we need policies to value the dignity and worth of every life...

And I think those are the kind of policies that the American people can support, particularly at a time when we're facing an enemy, and really the fundamental difference between us and the terror network we fight is that we value every life. It's the founding conviction of our country, that we're endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights, the right to life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Unfortunately our enemies in the terror network, as we're seeing repeatedly in the headlines these days, don't value any life, not even the innocent and not even their own.

Yes, you heard right, abortion is terrorism. Well, she doesn't say it explicitly, she just leaves a bunch of dots, connects a few of em, let's your brain finish the picture.

A few bloggers bemoaned the lack of press coverage that this foul statement was getting. But really, it's getting the coverage it deserves. Karren Hughes should receive no media coverage whatsoever. She's a paid deceiver with an agenda, and talking to her does not get the public any closer to the truth. Why waste any time on her?

Posted by Jake at 11:50 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

I LOVE YOU BIG BROTHER!!

Blog-Tracking May Gain Ground Among U.S. Intelligence Officials

Sigh.

Some analysts say U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials might be starting to track blogs for important bits of information. This interest is a sign of how far Web media such as blogs have come in reshaping the data-collection habits of intelligence professionals and others, even with the knowledge that the accuracy of what's reported in some blogs is questionable.

Still, a panel of folks who work in the U.S. intelligence field - some of them spies or former spies - discussed this month at a conference in Washington the idea of tracking blogs.

"News and intelligence is about listening with a critical ear, and blogs are just another conversation to listen to and evaluate. They also are closer to (some situations) and may serve as early alerts," said Jock Gill, a former adviser on Internet media to President Clinton

Yeah, we bloggers put all this stuff out in public for people to read, but the key word there is read. I don't put it out there to be "tracked" or "surveiled".

Posted by Jake at 05:45 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 26, 2004

Newsy Thangs

More on Senate Foreign Relations Committee Testimony: Cole and Dodge- transcript of testimony from Middle East experts Juan Cole and Toby Dodge. Does a great job of distilling the Iraq situation and its many complexities.

White supremacist Matthew Hale found guilty- how "American History X".

Laying down the copyright law -- to children- the MPAA has managed to get free time in American classrooms to spin the intelletcual property issue in their favor, truth be damned.

Secret Service investigates teen's art project- short enough to reprint the whole thing here:

One drawing showed President Bush's head on a stick. Another depicted Bush as a devil launching a missile. The drawings by a 15-year-old boy in Prosser, Washington, were enough to prompt some questions from the Secret Service.

Agents questioned the teen after being called by police. The boy's art teacher told school officials about the drawings, and they called police.

The boy was not arrested but the school district has taken disciplinary action.

Disciplinary action? When drawings are outlawed, only outlaws will be drawers.

A terrorist targets liberals- blogo-journalist David Neiwert files another report about America's domestic terrorists, and their lack of media coverage. The latest is a gun nut in Illinois who was apparently making plans to kill off lots of Democrats, liberals, and gun control advocates.

Life is not a spectator sport!- is the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) gearing up to organize Wal-Mart workers?

Washington Pro-choice March: Cheer Block/ Anti-Fascist Block- we all heard about the massive pro-choice march this weekend, but I was glad to hear about the participation of this radical yet fun-loving contingent.

Kerry faces PR fight over foreign policy- another "how exactly are Bush and Kerry different?" articles, without much answer. The article discusses differences in the two candidates' foreign policy methods, but barely breathes a word about their goals. I'm most concerned with their goals, I'll worry about their strategies later. Well, that's what I would do, if I had the information available.

Peace Not War CD- a bevy of free, streaming anti-war songs.

60% of Documentation for Modern Iraqi History Lost- but the right-wingers said that there was barely any looting after the US won!

What Do We Do Now?- historian Howard Zinn, arguing the almost unheard of point of view that the US should withdraw from Iraq, not for the sake of American lives, but for the sake of the Iraqi people.

Posted by Jake at 11:42 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

*04-26-04

World Intellectual Property Day

Every song on this show in some way fucked with/violated/mocked/circumvented copyright law.

Negativland- You Must Respect Copyright Law
Born Against- This Trash Should've Been Three
Cut Chemist & DJ Shadow- Product Placement 1
2 Many DJs- Salt n Pepa vs. The Stooges
Double Dee & Steinski- Lesson 3
Radiohead- Exit Music from a Film (live)
Zack de la Rocha & DJ Shadow- March of Death
The Coup- The Shipment
The Minibosses- Legend of Zelda Theme
Negativland- U2
Evolution Control Committee- Rebel without a Pause
Emergency Broadcast Network- Station Identification
Jerry Quickley- Maximum Sellout
The (International) Noise Conspiracy- Up for Sale
Dweezil Zappa, Ahmet Zappa & John Tesh- The Wizard (live)
Boy Sets Fire- The Tyranny of What Everyone Knows
Bill Hicks- Planting Seeds

Posted by Jake at 10:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 25, 2004

© ® ™

April 26 is World Intellectual Property Day.

To celebrate this important day, I plan to pack Monday's LMB radio show with as much copyright-violating audio as I can find.

Here is a list of World Intellectual Property Day Activities. Note how nearly every country actually doing something for WIPD is a poor nation that is likely doing so in an embarassing attempt to woo First World dollars. The rich Western nations hold most of the world's important copyrights and patents, so they like it quite a bit when other nation's agree to uphold their monopoly rights so the cash keeps rolling in. Remember, upholding intellectual property rights is much, much more important than human lives. Just ask all the AIDS patients in Africa who can't get affordable, generic drugs for their illness.

I remember the first time I heard about the concept of intellectual property. It was back when David Letterman was moving his comedic late night talk show from NBC to CBS. NBC claimed that Letterman could not do his famed Top Ten Lists on CBS, because they were NBC's "intellectual property." I laughed my ass off. What a ridiculous idea, I thought. Now it has its own holiday. Huzzah.

[update]

The show was actually a lot of fun. I tried to make every song I played be one which violated, fucked with, or circumvented copyright law. Thanks to my friend Steven V, I think I can temporarily post an mp3 of the show itself on my site. I think I'll leave that file up for about a week.

[/update]

Posted by Jake at 11:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Dark Clouds Keep on Turnin'

Jake's soap opera life is still in full effect. I'd really like this shit to stop.

Well, we can go to the good news first. The fellow who stole my car took a plea bargain on Friday, so that case is closed. I didn't hear the final sentence, but as part of the settlement, he had to pay me $100 (a too-low number I gave the city attorney for the value of my stolen CDs). And that check already arrived yesterday. Guess I donít care about the guy's punishment. I've been remarkably laid back about this whole care theft thing, even for me. I wonder what that says about me.

In other positive news, my apartment building has been declared "substandard" by the city. This means that my asshole landlords will likely face massive fines, and unless they can get the place up to code in the next 5 weeks (which seems ... improbable), me and all the other tenants will be eligible for reduced rent rates.

But apart from that, things aren't so good.

The insurance company has declared my damaged car "a total loss", which is apparently insurance-ese for "it's cheaper for us to cut you a check for a lowball estimate of your car's worth than to actually pay to repair your car." Not sure what to do there, lotta options involving full or partial repairs or buying something new with the pittance they give me. Either way, I'm carless in LA for days or weeks to come. Damn good thing I don't need to commute to work.

Most of the rest of my week's sorrow is more about other people's problems, people I care about a great deal.

One friend of mine, who Iíll call "Sally", revealed to me this week that doctors misdiagnosed a health problem of hers two years ago, but they have now discovered that her malady is actually lung cancer. She's 28 fucking years old.

"Sally" called me Tuesday, said in a sad cheerful voice, "I'm in the hospital. Wanna visit me?" It was a one-day thing, she'd come down with pneumonia as a complication of the disease, "Sally" would be going home by nightfall. I of course went over and sat bedside for a little while.

She asked if I would come with her to some of her future chemotherapy treatments. I agreed, but fuck, that is gonna be hard. My mother died of cancer in December. I spent countless hours with her at the oncologist's office over the years, while the chemo dripped into her arm.

"Alright, I'll go with you. But no Scrabble," I joked. Mom and I had nearly always played Scrabble during her treatments. It's a boring game, and I'd almost always lose, but Mom enjoyed it.

Worst joke backfire of my life. I laughed for a couple seconds, but was then flooded with all those Mom-chemo-Scrabble memories and just broke down into sobs, overcome. "Sally" got off the bed, came over and hugged me tight. "I don't want to leave you either," she said. But I wasn't crying for "Sally." For some reason, I'm optimistic that she's going to be okay. I was crying for what Iíve already lost. Just pure grief. How stupid and complex and awkward. "Sally" needs me to comfort her and support her through her illness, but my own head isn't screwed on completely straight these days. And all the things I might do that could help her out, might unscrew me further. Still, you gotta do what you gotta do.

But "Sally" agreed, no Scrabble. She said we'll watch DVDs instead.

On top of that, I've got another friend who it seems is headed for a train wreck. I'm really scared for them, but there's nothing I can do.

Happily, the week ended on a better note: good friends, Kill Bill 2, and yellow cake (the kind with eggs and milk and no uranium).

Things have got to start getting better. They just have to.

Posted by Jake at 10:53 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 24, 2004

Comic Truth

Usually, the comic strip "Get Fuzzy" is a mildly droll copy of older comics like "Bloom County" and "Calvin and Hobbes," where sarcasm and talking animals abound.

But this week, GF does real good. It's about the war. Not about Bush or weapons or law or politics. But about war and people. No preaching, no teaching, no melodrama, no taking sides.

But it's real.

The storyline starts with the April 19 strip, and I'm not sure when it's going to end. Give it a read.

Posted by Jake at 01:38 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 22, 2004

Land of the Lost

This looks pretty dope.

Lost Film Festival

It's a traveling movie fest of short, politically radical films.

See if it's coming to a theater/bookstore/squat near you.

It's in LA on May 7, at the Arts in Action space, kinda by MacArthur Park.

[edit]

Okay, I'm not sure if that link above is the one that lists all the films for this year, or if it's this one.

[/edit]

Posted by Jake at 09:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Understatement

"I kind of like ducking questions."

- George W. Bush, April 21, 2004

Posted by Jake at 10:12 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 21, 2004

Not Quick Enough

Monday, the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies put out a press release, announcing that the following day, they would be publishing a major story about the occupation of Iraq, largely based upon a critical memo written by a "U.S. government official detailed to the Coalition Provisional Authority."

The next morning, the country's alt weeklies published Fables of the Reconstruction, a look at serious problems in the way that the US has managed post-invasion Iraq, written by reporter Jason Vest.

There was so much buzz about the article that the AAN agreed to post the actual memo upon which Vest's story was based online. They said that they had been keeping the memo secret, because Vest was working on another investigative piece based upon one portion of the memo, which alleged massive corruption in the UN oil-for-food program.

Looks like someone beat him to it.

Well, it's a first draft, anyway. That last article is big on allegations, big on quotes of people making allegations, not so big on evidence backing stuff up. Maybe Vest's subsequent piece will connect the dots a little more thoroughly.

Posted by Jake at 03:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Rage

There's this saying, "if you're not angry, you're not paying attention."

So imagine my surprise when someone came into my office today who has a full-time job. She works 40 hours a week at Wal-Mart. Like many of their employees, she can't afford their health insurance plan. Even if she could, they wouldn't cover her HIV care because it's a pre-existing condition. It isn't even about paying for the drugs, which are expensive - she qualifies for the state AIDS Drug Assistance Program, which picks up all of her prescriptions for her. Wal-Mart won't pay for office visits to an HIV specialist, and they won't pay for the blood tests she needs to monitor her condition.

So you, the federal taxpayer, will be paying for her medical care. Today you also gave her $40 worth of food vouchers, because after she pays her rent (which eats more than half her wages, and she lives in a slum) there's not a lot left over to buy food. I'm sure you're glad to do it, right? You don't want her to die.

And you don't want Walmart's $8 billion profits and 21.6% return on shareholder's equity to drop, the way it probably would if the public weren't picking up the cost of keeping Wal-Mart associates and their children alive. You wouldn't want any members of the Walton family to drop off the list of the richest people in the world. (Imagine if only four of them were in the top ten.)

"A social worker told me," she said to me indignantly, "that I'd be better off if I quit my job and went on welfare. I'm not doing that!"

I'm sure the Walton family is very proud of her work ethic.

In a more sane world, we wouldn't stand for this kind of bullshit. We would be so outraged that we'd head down to the local Wal-Mart, meet up with even more outraged Wal-Mart workers, march down to Sam Walton's house and burn it to the fucking ground.

[Thanks to Oliver]

Posted by Jake at 02:01 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Echo Chamber

Over at the website of the Republican National Committee, there is a fact sheet/press release, dated April 2, 2004, which includes this passage:

America has a choice: It can continue to grow the economy and create new jobs as the President's polices are doing; or it can raise taxes on American families and small businesses, hurting economic recovery and future job creation.

(second to last bullet point)

Over at the website of the US Treasury, there is a press release, dated April 9, 2004, that ends with this passage:

America has a choice: It can continue to grow the economy and create new jobs as the President's policies are doing; or it can raise taxes on American families and small businesses, hurting economic recovery and future job creation.

(last paragraph)

Notice any similarities?

Notice the chronology?

This is about as blatant as it can get. An allegedly non-partisan government agency, paid for by your taxes and mine, spouting Republican talking points verbatim.

[nice catch by Boing Boing]

Posted by Jake at 08:05 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 20, 2004

Inner Critic

You ever write a whole blog entry, look back at it, say "that kinda sucks," and then log off without hitting the "post" button?

Just one of those days.

Posted by Jake at 09:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 19, 2004

04-19-04

Alice in Chains- Man in the Box (live)
Johnny Cash- Boy Named Sue
The Slackers- Married Girl
Probot- The Warlock
Camper Van Beethoven- Come On Darkness
Stone Roses- I Wanna Be Adored
Orbital- The Box
The Descendants- My Age
Helmet- Unsung
Ministry- Thieves (live)
Propagandhi- War is Peace
Apocalyptica- For Whom the Bell Tolls
Anti-Flag- This Machine Kills Fascists (live) / Die for the Government (live)
Coldcut & Steinski- The Motorcade Sped On
Nine Inch Nails- Burn
Against Me- Reinventing Axl Rose
Bjork & Thom Yorke- I've Seen It All
The Pixies- Hey (live)
And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead- It Was There That I Saw You

Posted by Jake at 10:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

"I've learned that life is one crushing defeat after another until you just wish Flanders was dead!"
- Homer Simpson

Posted by Jake at 06:26 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Big Crazy Rush

A lotta lefty bloggers are pointing out this latest Rush Limbaugh absurdity:

Hillary [Clinton] wants to be on the VP ticket so that she dispels the notion that the Clintons are sabotaging the campaign and so that she can also go out there and really be the star. She'd be the star because she'll be the one bringing excitement to it. And, by the way, she'll get all kinds of criticism and the Republicans will launch all they've got at her, and she'll endure that. They know that they're pretty confident Kerry is going to lose and if Kerry wins there's always Fort Marcy Park.

I didn't catch the reference, but apparently Fort Marcy Park is where the body of Vince Foster was found. And according to right-wing nutjob mythology, Hillary Clinton had Vince Foster killed to cover up, I dunno, something or another.

So... Rush Limbaugh is arguing that Hillary Clinton wants to run as John Kerry's running mate... to sabotage his campaign... or, if he wins... to assassinate him and seize control of the US government.

Not the craziest theory I've ever heard, but still doesn't place into what we call "The Sanity Rainbow."

At this point, a lot of liberal folks get outraged at a conservative making such slanderous charges and joking so easily about violence and death. This in turn makes conservatives laugh and say "liberals just don't get it." And in a way, the conservatives are right on this one.

I don't entirely understand it, but there is a sense of humor among conservatives in which calling for deadly mayhem to befall a person who disagrees with your political opinion (or thousands of such people), is just a harmless joke. These statements are hyperbole with which they express how much they despise their opponents; conservatives don't actually intend these statements as threats (except when they do).

So non-conservatives, lighten up.

But since we're talking Rush Limbaugh and crazy, I'll have to share some of my favorite Rush nuttiness; for a year and a half, I had to study the works of this jackasss as a research assistant in graduate school.

1. Rush was ranting about activists protesting against Gulf War I back in 1991. He was really piling the insulting adjectives on thick, something like "those lazy, traitorous, long-haired, tree-hugging, dope-smoking..." (yes, I know the irony of the "dope-smoking" epithet) when out came the eye-popping one:

"maggot-infested."

"Maggot-infested"? Did these protesters have gangrene? Where they the walking dead? Did they just have an unhealthy fixation on fly larvae? I heard this quote and just laughed my ass off.

2. The summer of 1999. Rush is Clinton-hating in a major way. Then he starts guaranteeing his audience that no matter who wins the 2000 election, that Bill Clinton will refuse to vacate the White House. He will call out the national guard and fleets of tanks to protect his throne, staging a violent coup in Washington DC. Even at the time, this prediction seemed a bit... unlikely. Of course, time has proven Rush wrong on this one, but in the strange world of Right-Wing folklore, the Clintons are the most power-hungry individuals in the history of the world. If we can make it through our lifetimes without the Clintons enslaving mankind, then we're all damn lucky.

3. While researching Rush, we couldn't always get audio recordings or transcripts of his shows, and sometimes had to rely on a Rush fan who would listen to the show every day, and condense the three hours of hot gas into about 15 pages of typed summary.

One such summary described Rush's introduction of a bit of science news, followed by his response to it. Some public interest group had done a study on the unhealthiness of many popular snack foods, and issued a press release about their findings. It claimed that movie theater popcorn was some of the most dangerous stuff around, due to (I think) the high levels of saturated fat in the butter used to pop the popcorn.

This caused Rush to blow several gaskets, lose some marbles, and make cuckoo clock noises.

Rush first began to sing the praises of movie theater butter, and popcorn made with it. He said that the kitchen at his radio studio used such butter because it made the tastiest popcorn. Air-popped popcorn just tasted inferior.

Then he began blasting this "pointy-headed liberals" trying to legislate everything and take the popcorn away, and he kept at it for quite a while. Note: the guys who came up with this study were not the Democrats, and they did not propose to take movie theater butter away from anybody, they just told everyone that the butter was bad for your health.

They cut to commercial or station ID or something, and when the come back, Rush apologizes for his earlier rant. And then he starts yelling about the popcorn butter again.

All told, Rush's popcorn rant took up three pages of the fifteen page summary!

That's some crazy shit.

Posted by Jake at 12:29 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 16, 2004

Z Blogs

The website for the far-left Z Magazine, Znet is now exploring the world of blogs. Last month, they began a quasi-blog for Noam Chomsky. And now, they have begun blogs by other writers who's work has impressed me over the years.

AntiEmpire Report- "William Blum's Blog on international relations, U.S. foreign policy, and other matters of empire and resistance." I'm always talking up Blum's book Killing Hope, about the history of American military intervention and covert operations. I am looking forward to seeing his work on a regular basis.

Word from the Wise- "Tim Wise blog of insights and advisories, links and linkages, about race, racism, and other social matters." Tim Wise's work is semi-regularly published in progressive magazines, and usually focuses on the topic of American racism and white privilege. High quality stuff, but man, what a lame title.

Hotel Satire- "Lydia Sargent's personal blog of satire and sundry other humor, emphasizing matters of gender and culture..." Z Magazine frequently ends with Sargent piece about the latest gross sexism in politics or pop culture, satirically written from the point of view of a group of religious, all-American women who "know their place." Unfortunately, the Hotel Satire blog does not yet seem to have any content.

Not too familiar with/impressed by the remaining authors, although I think The Killing Train shows promise, news about the poorer, more neglected nations on Earth.

Posted by Jake at 12:24 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 15, 2004

Pluggin' Away

It's a little late, but...

My friend John Dolan has a short film playing at the Newport Beach Film Festival tomorrow at 1pm. It's called "The Martyr". Instead of making a pretentious student film about white suburban angst, John chose to make a film about the Arab-Israeli conflict in Hebrew and Arabic, neither of which are his native language. It's not a preachy feel-good or an angry screed, it shows that there's a lot of needless suffering all-around.

Hell, even the smug hipsters at Film Threat magazine gave it a glowing review, and that means something.

It also marks my big screen debut, as an extra, walking away from the camera, who's not actually visible on-screen.

Anyhow, John and I'll be there tomorrow, come and say hello.

Posted by Jake at 11:05 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

"For every dollar the boss has and didn't work for, one of us worked for a dollar and didn't get it."
-"Big" Bill Haywood

Posted by Jake at 09:34 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Death and

Ben Franklin said that the only sure things in life are death and taxes. I prefer Ozomatli's version, that the only two certain things in life are "la muerte, y el cambio"-- death and change. That's a little more positive.

All that said, here's some Tax News on Tax Day.

Why the Right's Wrong on Taxes- columnist Matt Miller points out a deliberate flaw in the anti-tax rhetoric of many conservatives: they neglect to include payroll taxes in their count. Working folks give up a substantial amount of their income in the form of payroll taxes, but it only accounts for a negligble amount of rich folks' income. So as conservatives us skewed numbers to "prove" that they pay all the taxes, Miller shows that American tax rates are really just "modestly progressive":

The top 1 percent of America's taxpayers earn 17 percent of the income and pay 23 percent of federal taxes; the top 5 percent earn 31 percent of the income and pay 40 percent of the taxes; the bottom 80 percent of the earners make 41 percent of the income and pay 31 percent of the taxes (and those numbers are from 2001, the most recent such data available; President Bush's tax cuts have since made the burden on top earners lower).

Unhappy Returns- some poor folks are going to tax prep companies like H&R Block and Jackson Hewitt to get an advance on their pending tax refunds. This article claims that after all the preparation and loan fees, these advances are nothing but short-term, high interest loans. The interest on these range from 70-700%.

Money poll: Tax cuts unpopular- I'm not a fan of polls, but these sorts of numbers come up again and again. People don't mind paying taxes if they are actually going to be spent on something there care about. Hell, years of poll data show that people are eager to pay more taxes if it would go towards schools. Yet the conservatives keep telling us that we're sick of high taxes, and want to repeal the estate tax and shit. It's probably long overdue that we remind them what we're really sick of...

Why Pay Taxes?- Geov Parrish's yearly screed that's meant to make people stop and think a bit. You pay your taxes because you know you're supposed to pay your taxes. But think beyond that. Should you pay your taxes when the money's going to build bombs and get people killed? Should you pay your taxes when you don't have a say in your government? Should you pay your taxes when that money just goes into the pockets of rich businessmen? Think about it.

Posted by Jake at 04:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 14, 2004

Stop the Planet, I Want to Get Off

Kee-rist today was a ball of suck. Started with a bit of very good news, and was then followed by current money woes, future money woes, anxiety about friends, anxiety about employment, and taxes. A lot of the background comfort and stability I'd been riding for months, just up and left in less than a week. So I was feeling edgy, frazzled and depressed.

Then, when I went for a drive to soothe my nerves, I got hit by a car.

I'm fine, no need to worry. The passenger side of my car is kinda fucked up, but I think my insurance or the insurance of Evil Lexus SUV Driver will pay for it. First thing I do after the crash is ask her if she's okay. She responds by blaming me for the accident. I have to ask her three more times before she tells me that she "feels very bad." Never got around to asking me how I was.

This is, of course, Phase 2 of my car's plot to ruin my life. As you may recall, my car was outright stolen about 2 weeks ago. Frustrated that I was able to recover it, the car then decided to let itself get smashed up in an intersection.

Y'know, writing about all this is making me feel better. Hooray for that.

I need a vacation. This is too much. I've kept my troubles at bay, but right now I think I need to hide away so that they don't even know where to look for me. I'll bet they'll never look for me curled up under my desk!

While I'm thinking of it, the LMB button giveaway is over. Winners were:

Brian from Albuquerque
Piper from Fredericktown
Miriam from Saint John
Chris from LA
Andy from Chicago
Brad from parts unknown

Yes, that's more than five. What can I say, I'm generous with my new bounty.

In conclusion, if someone could magically erase today from history, I would love you forever.

Posted by Jake at 11:08 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Happy 2nd Birthday, LMB!

Yes, LMB turns two years old today (coincidently, as does fellow blog The Rittenhouse Review). You can click here and see how it all began, in its generic Blogger glory.

In a way, my blog's anniversary is a bigger deal to me than my birthday. I didnít exactly have to contribute much to my own birth, and staving off death all these years has only been occasionally difficult. In contrast, starting the blog was a conscious choice, and keeping it "alive" has meant giving up a lot of time, doing a lot of research, and making my fingers move more than they would if I were, say, sleeping.

As for the LMB radio show, Iíve lost all track of those milestones. I think I passed the three-year mark sometime in late January.

[Fun fact: before it was called LMB, the show was called "Truth and Fire", after a line in a zapatista communique. And before that, the show was called "Relentless", after a Bill Hicks album.]

I could easily write up some of the history and significance of this blog, but I did that in last yearís anniversary post. Read that if you want el gran historia.

Itís been a rough year for me personally, as some of you know. My mother lost a long fight against cancer back in December. I spent about half the year trying to help her and the rest of my family as best as I could. I'm not okay. My family is not okay. But we've moved a few steps from terrible, and that's something.

I'm slowly making some changes to my lifestyle as well. For a long time now, I have felt like I've just been treading water. There's a lot of stuff I'm just not doing right in my life, but I've been getting by, and figured that's all i needed to do. But I've recently realized that "treading water" was not the right analogy to use. A more accurate one would be "walking on a sprained ankle." When you hurt your ankle like that, you can still walk around just fine, as long as you keep your feet and legs at certain angles and walk a certain way. But walking in this new way a) doesn't fix your ankle, and b) starts to hurt other parts of your body that aren't used to walking in this manner. It does you damage. And sometimes if you wait for the damage to become noticeable, it might be too late to fix it. The analogy kind of falls apart after that, so let's just say that I'm working on fixing that ankle before my hobbling fucks up too much of my future.

Maybe everyone could use a little self-analysis along those lines. Who's treading and who's hobbling?

Anyhow.

I'm happy with all the continued support and readership. I am also happy to see that in the links sectionsof their own personal webpages, people seem to put LMB in their "humor" section as often as their "politics" section, which means I must be doing something right.

Before I started blogging, a writer I truly respect told me that I had "discovered my voice" as a writer. He was wrong. The writing I was doing then was pretty straight forward quasi-journalism. It wasn't till I let all my humor and anger and hurt and confusion and sarcasm and quirk flow into the texts that my writing voice became true. And for some reason, I felt that I had completely hit my stride with this portion of this post:

"Not content to destroy the world in their own respective fields, Wal-Mart and Fox News have formed a partnership in which Wal-Mart will play Fox News segments on the TVs in their stores. In other news, Sauron and Cobra Commander are throwing a barbecue this weekend, and you're invited."

I find that paragraph so comfy I should be sitting on its front porch in rocking chair with a mug of hot chocolate.

Also this year, several people urged me to write a book. I think I will. I'm just not entirely sure what people would want to read from me. I might need y'all to give me a few pointers.

As an unintended coincidence, we also now have LMB buttons for sale just in time for the Two Year Anniversary. If you want yours to be a Special Two Year Anniverary Commemorative Edition, let me know, and I'll draw a "2" on the back with a pencil. Write me for details.

And since this is like a birthday and all, I'll drag out my Amazon.com Wishlist. C'mon, buy me things! (They're mainly political books and CDs, so it's not like you wouldn't get some second-hand benefit out of it) Okay, so no one's gonna buy me the iPod, but a fella can dream, can't he?

If no one wants to buy me the stuff above, maybe they can buy me one of those magic hypno-ties that Bush was wearing during his speech tonight. What the fuck was that about?

Special thanks to Mark McLaughlin and Quang Tang for all their work converting the drab old LMB to the new spunky one. Did I say "spunky"? I meant "groin-grabbingly spunky".

Also thanks to John, Kittie, Candice, Jeremy, Kat, Nomi, Louie, Tom, Serj, Michele, John K, David D, Steven V, Kill Radio (except that one guy. You know who I'm talking about), Aurora, Indira, Michelle, Ronny, Dad, Adam, 104.7, Dack, Alan, Chris, Cecily, Destroy All, Claudette, Schu, North Coast Hospice, Matt, Garrick, Jim, Leslie, Heidi, Lafe, Jeff, Wayne, Carsten, Matt B, Matt H, Elizabeth, Brad, Jaime, Scott, Emma, Dr. Frakes, Lili, my Mom, and a dozen others I'm surely forgetting right now.

And thanks to all of you regular readers and listeners. It is my pleasure to educate, entertain, and rock you. Without your participation, these tasks'd be a lot more depressing.

So let's all take a breather, and come back fully refreshed, ready to collectively spit in the face of power.

Cheers,

Jake.

Posted by Jake at 01:13 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

April 13, 2004

Lo, I have become button-ordering guy, maker of... buttons.

Who wants a shiny new LMB button?

[artist rendering, roughly actual size]

Fresh from the printers, these 1" buttons are made of, uh, paper and some kind of plastic and really bendy metal, and are suitable for wearing, framing, or armor plating your bomber jacket one button at a time.

Each button features the stylish yet enigmatic LMB logo, which has become synonymous with sarcastic-yet-wonky political analysis, dry wit, and links to websites with better analysis and drier wit. Or, if you listen to the radio show, the logo is instead synonymous with rambling news commentary, an excellent mix of music, and technical difficulties.

To add to their mystery, each button only has the three-letter LMB acronym. So when attractive people come up to you and ask about your button (and they will), you can tell them that LMB stands for whatever you want it to stand for. Lazy Monkey Ballerina! Lumberjacks Making Babies! League of Michigan Bicyclists! The world is your oyster.

Also note that I did not have my web address printed along the bottom in tiny letters. I hate it when buttons do that, it ruins the look. But no, with mine, you get nothing but pure graphic goodness.

These buttons make perfect, uh, birthday presents, wedding gifts, and... I dunno. You could chuck em at cars, or skim em on lakes. Poke tiny holes in things. Oh! And I'll bet they'd make kick-ass tiny safety pins!

First 5 people to email me with their mailing address get FREE Buttons!

To win them, email me.

[update]

Contest is over, we've got our winners. Thanks.

[/update]

After that, I'll be selling em. $2 for 1, $3 for 2, something like that. Half the profits go to Quang, the dude who designed the classy logo. The other half will go to my broke ass... and orphans. Yes, orphans.

Maybe.

Thanks,

Jake,
Salesman Extraordinaire

Posted by Jake at 05:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Yowza!

Congratulations to my friend and former fellow grad student Brad Linder, who has just received the Award for Excellence in Journalism for Breaking News Reporting on Radio by the Society of Professional Journalists. Congrats, Brad!

Posted by Jake at 12:10 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 09, 2004

Visceral Reaction

Ah, when art meets subversion meets tastelessness.

photomosaic of John Ashcroft made of pornographic pictures

photomosaic of George W. Bush made of pictures of human rectums

Because sometimes, subtlety is for losers.

[Thanks to Tom Tomorrow]

Posted by Jake at 06:23 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 08, 2004

Latest from the Media Front

Administration wages war on pornography and Xtreme Measures- while we have seen a crackdown on "mainstream" indecency ever since the Janet Jackson nipple flash, Attorney General John Ashcroft has been on a jihad against porn since at least 2002. The first article outlines the more concrete aspects of law enforcement and politics, while the latter deals more with the pornography itself, and the legal/social history of the concept of "obscenity." It looks as though obscenity was first outlawed because it could "deprave and corrupt those whose minds are open to such immoral influences". And now, well... I can't find anything in modern obscenity laws that explains why obscenity is bad, except that it "offends community standards", and last I checked, it wasn't illegal to offend people.

Ashcroft seems to be pushing the "won't someone please think of the children?" angle, saying that porn is so pervasive that our nation's young'ns can easily get ahold of it. But rather than work on the relevant part there, children's access, Ashcroft would rather work on the more invasive and less practical effort of eliminating the porn itself.

But hey, it makes me feel safer just knowing that we're using our nation's law enforcement resources to fight video blow jobs instead of, y'know, deadly terrorist attacks.

A Heretical View of File Sharing-new study argues that people downloading mp3s off the internet doesn't actually hurt record sales. The study is largely an exercise in limited data-gathering and lots of math, so I don't know how accurate it is. A frantic record industry responded to the study with a "oh yeah, then how come our sales keep dropping, smart guy?" And the answer to that would be an academic "I don't know," and shows the weakness of the industry's position. In research, until you have proof that one thing causes another, you don't try to explain why something happens. The industry has been pretending that it's obvious that the only single possible cause of their sales slump has been the demon internet. But even this article points out a host of other potential causes: "a slow economy, fewer new releases and a consolidation of radio networks that has resulted in less variety on the airwaves. Some market experts have also suggested that record sales in the 1990's might have been abnormally high as people bought CD's to replace their vinyl record collections."

2004 Pulitzer Prizes for Journalism Announced- what the headline says. It actually looks like they picked out some good folks this year, despite the fact that this has been a shit year for journalism. You can read the stories themselves if you follow the links here.

Why Karen Ryan Deserved What She Got- another article about the PR scandal which pulled back the curtain on the uber-shady practice of Video News Releases. Journalist and scholar Jay Rosen takes a deep look at the event and gives some thoughtful analysis about all the hubbub.

Posted by Jake at 10:04 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 07, 2004

Fuck You, Wal-Mart

I was going to write an article Wal-Mart's loss at the ballot box in Inglewood, but Steve Gilliard has said just about everything I would've.

[edit]

Sigh. Steve's link system is all weird. Click on that link above and then scroll down to the entry titled "Rejected".

[/edit]

Posted by Jake at 04:36 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

The Color of Caring

Wow. This is really, really offensive.

George W. Bush's campaign website is broken down into different issues, and each issue page has a gallery of pictures from photo ops that relate (sorta) to that issue.

Check out his photo gallery for Compassion

Notice any themes?

Racist motherfuckers.

[thanks to Atrios]

Posted by Jake at 04:16 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 06, 2004

Operation Handbasket

Sorry, little work-swamped so I don't have much time for writin'.

That being said, what the hell is going on in Iraq? It's like the US' Paul Bremer has opened up his "how to fuck up absolutely everything" playbook and is going for the win. Mercenaries are killed in Fallujah so you close off the entire city of Fallujah? No, that won't anger the (mostly Sunni) residents and turn them against you.

Then you move from the Sunni area and start harassing prominant Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr and his followers? Shut down their newspaper, arrest one of Sadr's top aides, and then swear out an arrest warrang on Sadr himself? Good, let's get the Shia nice and trigger-happy.

I half expect Bremer to drive up to Kirkuk with a big banner that reads "All Kurds Are Faggots!" Y'know, to get all the Iraqi factions united. Against America.

It's insane. What is the plan over there? Does anyone know?

Are these attacks just a flare-up, or are phase one of an all out civil war?

Sigh.

A good source for info and updates right now is author/blogger Rahul Mahajan's site. He just arrived in Baghdad yesterday, but he's also very educated on the subjects at hand. You can check his partial timeline of recent conflict in Iraq, and his background on the Shia in Iraq.

Posted by Jake at 09:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Irony Beats Jake About the Head with a Stick

This has to be an April Fool's Day prank, doesn't it? Doesn't it?!

Optimists Club Organizes Baghdad Chapter

Can't satirize nothin no more.

Posted by Jake at 03:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 05, 2004

Foil Big Brother

Just got this email, you might want to follow its instructions:

Yahoo is now using something called "Web Beacons" to track Yahoo Group users around the net and see what you're doing and where you are going - similar to cookies. Take a look at their updated privacy statement:

http://privacy.yahoo.com/privacy/us/pixels/details.html

About half-way down the page, in the section "Outside the Yahoo! Network", you'll see a little "click here" link that will let you "opt-out" of their new method of snooping. I strongly recommend that you do this.

Once you have clicked that link, you are opted out. Notice the "Success" message the top the next page.

Be careful because on that page there is a "Cancel Opt-out" button that, if clicked, will *undo* the opt-out. Feel free to forward this to other groups.

So head on over to that page and opt-out of Yahoo's schemes of e-vil.

Posted by Jake at 11:51 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

04-05-04

Tomahawk- God Hates a Coward
Styles of Beyond w/ 4-Zone- Pay Me
Good Riddance- Heresey, Hypocrisy and Revenge
Lightning Seeds- You Showed Me
Moloko- Downsized
The Von Bondies- No Regrets
Love Like Blood- Kiss and Tell
Tiger Army- Never Die
Princess Superstar- Super Fantasy
Panjabi MC- Mirza (Part 2)
Cockney Rejects- East End / Bad Man!
Tom Waits- Black Wings
Madvillain- All Caps
System of a Down- Deer Dance
The Smiths- Rubber Ring
Motorhead- Play the Game
Princess Superstar- Who Writes Your Lyrics
Massive Attack- Teardrop
The Von Bondies- Pawn Shoppe Heart

Posted by Jake at 10:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Truth and Kosequences

(Jake winces at title)

I don't usually write about the goings on of the blogosphere, but I feel compelled to say something here.

Long story short: last week, four "civilian contractors," employees of Blackwater USA, were killed in Iraq. Seems that the fellows were mercenaries, or something very similar. Kos of the Daily Kos blog wrote an angry post last week in response in which he said "they are there to wage war for profit. Screw them," and people went apeshit.

Right-winger bloggers now decided that this one comment showed the true nature of the left, uncaring of human life and America and whatnot. They then went on a campaign to get all of the folks who advertise on Kos' site (mainly political candidates in various state elections) to cancel their ads. Several did. John Kerry's website removed its link to Kos'. Some liberal bloggers demanded that Kos retract his comments and apologize. Then things seemed to finally die down.

First off, you can read a longer summary with some interesting analysis here. I found the author's "compare and contrast" between blogs and talk radio to be intriguing (maybe since I do both): blogs have memory (cuz of their archives) while radio is emphemeral, and that this in turn may lead to the more extreme rhetoric on radio (because there's no record of the words after they are uttered).

Second, what's the big deal? Does anyone really like mercenaries? They're hired killers, right? If ever tried for war crimes, they wouldn't even have the benefit of "I was only following orders," just "but he was gonna give me a dollar!" I don't find "screw hired killers" to be a particularly controversial statement.

Third, I don't care what Kos said, and don't understand why everyone's making a big deal of it. Was it an insensitive thing to say? Sure, but so what? That's what the comments section is for; you don't like what he said, you call him and asshole and a France-lover and you're done. I guess some folks see him as a "voice of the left" and part of the left-liberal blog community, and don't want any of the ire aimed at Kos to splatter onto themselves. Maybe I don't care because I've never felt myself a part of that community, as they're a bit to the left of Al Gore and I'm a bit to the left of Gandhi.

Fourth, as Steve Gilliard points out, this event points out the scummy, cowardly, "no friends" nature of party politics. By all accounts, Kos' site has helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for various Democrats in the past year, and yet at the slightest hint of controversy they'll drop him like a bad habit. Fuck those guys.

As I mention, my politics are much more radical than those of Kos and his readers, but I think he has done some pretty amazing things. He started a blog, used it to help energize and organize tens of thousands of Democrats, raise money for their candidates, and launch the blogging careers of the amazing Steve Gilliard and Billmon. But most impressive to me, Kos his personal site into a community site. Most people who gain some amount of power keep it to themselves, but Kos opened his site up to complete strangers to contribute.

In conclusion, screw all mercenaries.

Posted by Jake at 12:29 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 04, 2004

Bad Luck Brevity

Although I recently promised to write an interesting story about my lousy week, I find myself bored with the writing of it. I think I told the story out loud too many times already. So you get the short version.

On Wednesday afternoon, my car was stolen from a strip mall parking lot in Burbank. This was really poor timing, as I needed to be at a concert venue to help set up for a benefit show (for the non-profit I work for, Axis of Justice) in just a few hours.

Wednesday night, the police call me, they've found my car, it's at a towing yard in North Hollywood. The car seems none the worse for wear, the thief (apparently a paranoid, joy-riding teen) is in jail.

Our benefit show has a surprise appearance by mega-popular Zappa-esque metal band System of a Down. They usually play stadiums, our show is at tiny 500+ person club The Troubadour.

Real late Wednesday night, I get home and discover that I have jury duty the next morning. Actually, in four hours. With no car, I take the subway. With no sleep, I doze off about 53,000 times in the jury waiting room.

The people in the back of the jury room watch The People's Court on TV.

I luck out, and they don't ever call my name, so my jury service is considered served.

My friend Jeremy drives me to the towing yard that evening, where I am given the privilege of paying $196 to get my own car back. When Jeremy asks "why didn't they just leave it parked on the side of the street?" A guy behind the counter says "cuz that'd be too close to right." $53 of that 196 is a "city fee", in what is clearly a kickback system to the cops.

Car is okay, after I fix a few minor things the thief did under the hood (presumably while unhooking the battery, to disable the car alarm I don't have). Most of my CDs are missing, a jacket is gone, but it looks as though the guy actually had to clean the inside of the car a little in his search for items of value.

Funniest story of the whole adventure:

The cop who took my police report spent most of his time in his car, with the engine running. When he finished asking me questions, I thanked him, and walked over to thank two of the security guards from the Target store who'd helped me out earlier. The cop joined us a moment later, to tell us that heís "just going to go inside to check on the price of the radios." He started to enter the story, but then walked back out, saying "better lock up the car."

Yes, the police officer was going to leave his car outside

- with the doors unlocked
- with the windows rolled down
- with the keys in the ignition
- with the engine running
- after just filling out a police report about a car theft in that exact parking lot.

Classic.

So it looks like everything turned out okay, it just cost me some money and time that I'd rather have back.

Posted by Jake at 10:30 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

"O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with hurricanes of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it Ė for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen."

-Mark Twain, "The War Prayer"

Posted by Jake at 10:02 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 02, 2004

Backstabby

Wow. Check the cover of the new Economist:

The conservative elites are getting cranky. And when they get cranky, sometimes-- only sometimes-- they get honest.

Posted by Jake at 03:27 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Wonks Get Goofy

Although most of the April Fool's Day gags I saw this year were pretty lame, I did like this bit from the usually straight-laced "Benton Foundation Communications Policy Mailing List". But then, I'm a geeky media analyst, so...

BROADCASTING

STUDY: 90% OF TV CONTENT INDECENT Preliminary data for a report due to Congress January 1 finds that 90% of television programming is "indecent," according to regulators' new definition. "Wow, this problem is much worse than we thought," said one staffer. Broadcasters were quick to dispute the findings. "The study is ridiculous," argued an executive at the American Association of Television People. "Most of our programming is crass commercialism and shameless self-promotion. We're doing stuff legislators never dreamed of when they wrote indecency laws. And, anyway, you can block some of it with the V-chip." [SOURCE: FCCMonitor]

LOW POWER BUT HIGH VOLUME Seems established broadcasters were right along, low power radio can cause extra interference in the markets where it has been introduced. Apparently, DJs are encouraging listeners to turn their volume settings at the highest levels as they leave their homes for work. The ensuing noise drowns out any other commercial or noncommercial messages in the area. "This is a temporary protest," says on LPFM station owners. "We want our radio brethren to know what real interference is." [SOURCE: Inthefield.com, AUTHOR: Dee Dee Devine]

DTV TRANSITION UPDATE: WHERE TO PLACE THE BLAME After some public bickering earlier this week, lobbyists for TV, cable and consumer electronic industries finally agreed, it is the fault of the American public that the transition to digital broadcasting isn't going smoother. "Some say chicken or egg, programming or hardware," said one lobbyist. "I say its that darn guy who keeps buying the Egg McMuffin when we're offering quiche. Buy the quiche! Sure, it is expensive and you get more than you want, but it tastes better." Continuing the poultry metaphor, one K Street maven asked, "Pretty picture, better sound...what do you want, eggs in your beer?" The industries are working on a joint proposal to the FCC that will allow broadcasters years to return analog TV spectrum in case they find a really profitable use for it and cable operators will be able to double prices for carrying both analog and digital TV signals (no, wait, they've already done that). Expect a decision sometime after the November election. [SOURCE: Will Street Journal, AUTHOR: Will McCunnell]

TELECOM

YOUR NEXT PHONE Consumer electronics executives meeting this week in Lubbock, Texas are touting the next generation of wireless phones. Instead of being tied to one carrier, the phones will automatically search for the best carrier to complete each call as directed by priorities set by the owner including cost, reliability and privacy. "For once," an executive told the press, "we're saying we're putting choice into people's hands and we really mean it." The phones will be compatible with WiFi and VoIP and be easily upgraded with new software to allow use of emerging technologies like WiMax. The phones will be the embodiment of convergence acting as computer, (with dozens of applications) communications device (telephone, e-mail and pager) and entertainment appliance (camera, MP3 player, videogame console, VCR programmer). The phones will offer high-speed Internet access allowing users to stream video, download songs and check email. All commands will be speech activated. Basic model will retail for $20, but can be affordablely upgraded to include features that allow the phone to walk the dog and put the kids to bed, too. [SOURCE: Mrropers, AUTHOR: Bill Kane]

PRESIDENT REVISES BROADBAND GOAL Combining two popular recent proposals, President Bush urged Congress to adopt as a national goal broadband access on mars by 2020. "Look," the President said, "we're already planning on sending scientists, astronauts and Al Gore to Mars, they will need information flowing across cables and telephone lines in a fast way. We can help. That's what broadband technology is. It means we'll open the interplanetary highways of knowledge -- new interplanetary highways of knowledge." The President added later in the day that broadband access on Mars should not be taxed. [SOURCE: WhiteHouseWatch.com, AUTHOR: Orville Ovalle]

Posted by Jake at 08:41 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Anti-Karma

Been a helluva week. Mostly in a not good way. Friend leaves town, dealing with benefit concert logistics, car gets stolen, jury duty, car gets found, sleep deprivation, towing yard extortion, rain, locusts.

I need to write it all up in one of my patented "Jake's Peculiar Adventures"-style tales, but today I have to catch up on work that's been piling up in the meantime (and a little sleep'd be nice).

Posted by Jake at 08:21 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Burbank is a graveyard.

Posted by Jake at 08:12 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 01, 2004

Booga Booga

Look out, there's a big monster behind you!!!!!


APRIL FOOL'S!


Jeez, what a stupid fucking holiday.

Posted by Jake at 05:08 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

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Media News

April 30, 2004

Censo-Rama

As you may have heard, tonight's edition of Nightline (ABC) will solely be a reading of names and showing of images of American soldiers who have been killed in the war on Iraq.

As you may have also heard, the Sinclair Broadcast Group, a multimedia conglomerate that owns 62 television stations (reaching 24% of the US population) has told its 8 ABC affiliates not to air the Nightline program.

The Sinclair Group says that it is refusing to air this broadcast because it "appears to be motivated by a political agenda designed to undermine the efforts of the United States in Iraq." It then "proves" its case by pondering the question, "why [Ted Koppel] chose to read the names of 523 troops killed in combat in Iraq, rather than the names of the thousands of private citizens killed in terrorist attacks since and including the events of September 11, 2001." Which seems to be incorrect; ABC asserts that it did read all of the names of the 9/11 victims on the one-year anniversary of the attacks, leaving Sinclair with nothing but an unsubstantiated insinuation.

It is posible that Sinclair's motives are genuine, thinking that they are protecting the American people from ABC's harmful political agenda. But Sinclair has a history of supporting the Bush administration and a right-wing agenda. Some of these actions include: forcing their news anchors read statements of "full support" for President Bush after 9/11; refusing to air a Democratic campaign ad critical of Bush; and just donating lots of cash to Bush and the Republicans.

This shows the danger of media consolidation: censorship. Eight regions of the US will not see this commemoration of the dead because of the political views of some corporate bigwigs.

What's also interesting is the assumption that remembering the dead will cause harm. It is reasonable to think that the public, faced with a stark reminder of all of this death, may turn against the war and its supporters. Or, contrariwise, viewers could see all this death and be even more determined that the United States win the war, so that all these soldiers will not have died in vain. Honestly, poll data seems to support the latter; the worse we do in Iraq, the more Americans seem to want to rally behind the president.

Although it's a bit of a tangent, I also wanted to remark upon today's USA Today front page. The key headline was "Iraq's Deadliest Month", followed by an article about the large numbers of Americans killed in Iraq in April: 134. But to me, that shows an amount of America-centrism that's somewhat insulting. Iraq has existed as a nation since the 1930s, is home to 25 million Iraqis, and it's "deadliest month" just happened, and when 134 foreigners are killed? The article doesn't even mention the number of Iraqis killed this month (which the Associated Press claims is 1361-- ten times the number of Americans). It's as though Iraq is only visible when Americans are in it, and the deaths of people there only matter if those people were born under an American flag.

I'm thinking that Iraq has had "deadlier months", possibly including the final days of Gulf War I, one of the months of the embargo when people were dying of starvation and lack of medicine, or even the opening days of the latest war, thanks to Shock and Awe.

I understand that this USA Today article was not trying to be about the suffering of the Iraqis, or about the general suffering of war. And I'm not trying to say that the death of an Iraqi is more important than the death of an American. All of the deaths on all sides are tragic. I feel bad for all of the people who's lives are being cut short by the conflict, and for all of the brothers, mothers, wives, husbands, fathers and friends who will have to live the rest of their lives with a hole where their loved one used to be.

The idea that one life, or one death, is more important than another, is one of the main reasons we still have war.

Posted by Jake at 05:38 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
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To listen to the CD perched on my finger, I need to swap it for one of the 5 discs in the changer. Black Panther rap. Skip. Instrumental hip-hop. Skip. Funky white guy rap. Skip. New conscious political rap. Skip. Whoa, Cocteau Twins! "Which of these things is not like the others?" Swap. Cool, now I can listen to the "Fuck You, Pay Me" song.

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