Lying Media Bastards

October 31, 2004

Halloween Post

I've just posted a fairly long article about horror movies and such here. It's Halloween, y'know. For those of you who hate my non-political stuff, I've posted it separately, so you don't have to look at it if you don't want. I'm a fan of horror, and the desire to write something on it just wouldn't go away. It's also amazing I haven't written more about video games, as that's another fervent hobby of mine. I do need to write more on that topic in general, from a political ecnomoy point of view, as it has become a pretty lucrative medium (I have long included some links to news about the video game industry over in the "Media News" links section), and I should write about where the industry synergizes with others, and where I think it's all headed.

But today, you get fear and blood and guts. Lucky for most of us with internet access that we can usually limit those things to holidays and fiction.

Posted by Jake at 03:02 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

For All Your Righteous Indignation Needs

For all the latest in "vote/Election fraud, vote suppression, voting irregularities, voter intimidation in Election 2004" news, visit Vote Watch 2004. It's pretty ugly.

While nearly all of the items on that page are about Republican dirty tricks, the site does seem pretty objective, not accusing anyone of anything unless there is some evidence (e.g. VW2004 reports on the already infamous fraudulent vote flyer in Milwaukee, but does not accuse the Republican Party of being behind it, like so many liberal bloggers have. It could've been the Republicans, a mean-spirite prankster, or any random racist motherfucker).

What it's coming down to is that Democrats generally do better when more votes are cast, and Republicans do better with fewer voters. Unless one candidate or the other wins decisively, it seems that this election will again be decided in the courts, weeks or months from now.

Posted by Jake at 09:11 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 30, 2004

Horror Thing

As a child, I was not allowed to watch scary movies. In fact, I was rarely allowed to see anything rated higher than PG, unless my parents had seen it already and found it acceptable (and "acceptable" meant "no sex or nudity"). Unfortunately for me, they didn't see movies that often, leaving my choices pretty limited. But, as kids do, I found a way around this, and got my dose of R-rated violence at a friend's house. And luckily for society, my substantial intake of horrifically anti-social media has resulted in nothing more violent than a brief stint on the high school wrestling team my freshman year.

Somewhere along the line, I developed a taste for horror movies. Not those lame-ass slasher films of the 80s, or horror that focused on cheap startle-scares, but movies that had scary concepts, or managed to build and maintain tension or anxiety or foreboding. In a way, I've taken good horror to be a window into that broad concept "what do humans find scary?" It fascinates the hell out of me.

I think the first horror movie that I ever saw that was actually scary was one of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies. The concept itself is really pretty terrifying: sleep = death. You're at your most vulnerable when you're asleep, and that's when this killer can get you. And you can't have someone watch over your sleeping body to protect you from attack, because this killer gets inside your head. Not just inside your head, but inside the elastic reality of your dreams, a reality where most people have no control. So you're under attack at your most vulnerable and your most powerless. On top of that, the killer usually takes a familiar or pleasant dream scenario, and turns it into one of your worst fears. And of course, at your most vulnerable, most powerless, and most terrified, the killer will mock and taunt you.

The Elm Street movies then had one final element common to many horror films: adult neglect. The kids were always in danger, the kids always knew what was going on and asked for help, but the grown-ups never listened. And the kids paid the price.

And finally, the Elm Street movies did an excellent job of creating icons for the villain, that could all suggest his presence and invoke fear without even showing him on-screen. His distinctive hat, sweater, glove, claw marks, the Nightmare House, and the Freddy nursery rhyme were all ways to imply that Freddy was afoot, and save the real scare of showing his face for later.

After that, probably the next enjoyable horror I found were the first two Hellraiser movies. These had great concepts and great creepy visuals, but were generally lacking otherwise. The idea was that there exist a group of human-like creatures called cenobites, who know all the secrets of pleasure and pain. If you solve a special puzzlebox, they will teach you torture and please you until you die, and keep your soul. The first movie's tagline was "Angels to some. Demons to others." I thought that was a great concept. These creatures aren't good or evil, they just provide a service when asked. That service results in pain and death, which we perceive as evil, but the cenobites were just fulfilling a contract, dispassionately and methodically.

The cenobites' forms matched their function, punk rock and S&M taken to the next level: nails in the skull, wounds held open by piercings, eyelids sewn shut, skin pulled tight by wires and hooks. Gruesome and memorable. Sadly, the series went to shit pretty quickly after that (although Hellraiser 4 did have some pretty cool new cenobites), as they forgot their initial concept and the cenobites just became averge everday Monsters Who Kill People. I think they're up to Hellraiser 8 by now.

After Hellraiser, I saw Evil Dead 2, and shortly after that, Dead Alive. These combined horror, slapstick humor, and absolutely stunning amounts of gore, and showed that horror could be a lot of fun-- if you could stomach the viscera. Evil Dead 2 (essentially a twisted, bizarre remake of Evil Dead 1) features cult icon Bruce Campbell as an arrogant everyman faced by mysterious forces and zombie monsters, demonic posession, and his own crumbling sanity. The special effects are often bad, but that just adds to the fun. To me, the film feels as though the producer was hanging around for the first few days of shooting, but after he left, the crew got in a circle and said "okay, now let's fuck it up!" Hilarous. The sequel to Evil Dead 2 was the (more well-known) Army of Darkness, which is good for maybe the first hour, before descending into lameness.

Dead Alive is actually a good movie. It's the story of an shy young New Zealand man from the 1950s trying to find love and happiness while dealing with his overbearing, posessive mother. Set against the background of a killer zombie attack. This movie is a laugh riot, if you can stand the gore. How much gore? It's probably the goriest movie ever made. Let's just say that by the end, the heros are almost unrecognizable under their covering of pink goo.

Amusingly, the directors of these two low budget shockers went on to become some of Hollywood's elite. Evil Dead's Sam Raimi directed the acclaimed sleeper A Simple Plan, and went on to direct both of the Spiderman movies. And Dead Alive's Peter Jackson directed the amazing Lord of the Rings trilogy. Let that be a lesson to all you would-be directors out there: get yourself a cheesy horror script a a couple barrels of fake blood.

Sadly, apart from the recent wave of Japanese horror, there haven't been many good horror movies in years. Which is why I turned to video games for my horror fix.

I know that many folks write video games off as mindless shoot-em-ups, or think that we're still in the era of Pac-Man. But they have evolved into movie-like productions, with realistic graphics, professional voice actors, plots, settings and musical scores. Sadly, all this still usually results in an interactive version of your standard action movie, but I have hope. I have played several games with amazing stories and characters, games with themes and messages, even a couple that approached real literary merit. But most of the time, I have to take a game for what it is, and just enjoy the good parts.

In a way, horror video games are a better way for me to do my analysis of fear than movies: video games are much longer (usually 8-40 hours of gameplay, vs. the usual 90+ minutes for a film), and you control where the main character(s) go and what they do. In addition, I think that video games have taken greater strides in maniuplating visuals and sound to put fear into the player.

The video game horror revolution began with Resident Evil. You play as a member of some kind of elite police squad, trapped in a spooky house, fighting zombies and other monsters. Over time, you learn that the monsters and zombies are the work of genetic tampering by scientists at the evil Umbrella Corporation.

The game really isn’t that great. It favors cheap scares, falling back on clichés and illogic when need be. The one legitimate scare comes early in the game, before any monster attacks. You walk into a room, hearing some odd noises. You round a corner and see a man laying on the ground, with another man hunched over him. After a moment, you realize that the first man is dead, and the second is simply eating his body. The second man’s head whips around, chalk-white except for the blood-wet mouth, and turns to get you. Resident Evil is also known for some of the worst dialogue and voice-acting in the business (my favorite comes at the beginning, when one cop gives the other a lockpick before they split up to search the house. "Here, take this lockpick. It may come in handy if you, the master of unlocking, take it with you."). The game has become quite the franchise, with probably 5 or 6 sequels and a couple of movies to carry it along.

But the horror game that blew me away was Silent Hill. SH took horror in a different direction. Instead of the cheap scares and stock monsters, SH was about keeping you unsettled and disturbed at all times.

In SH, you play Harry Mason, a widowed writer taking his young daughter on a vacation to the sleepy resort town of Silent Hill. He loses control of his car and crashes, and when he comes to, his daughter is gone. The town is bereft of people, and covered in a dense fog. As he searches for his little girl, he also finds the town populated by strange, eerie monsters, and the city’s streets are inexplicably torn by cataclysm and shrouded in fog. And at times, he finds himself shifting into the Other Silent Hill. This alternate reality is sort of like if you took a spooky, abandoned resort town, and crossed it with a Marilyn Manson video. Blood, rust, chains, filth, and all manner of occult trappings.

One key element of gameplay was that your character carried a broken radio. For unexplained reasons, when monsters approached in the darkness, your radio would start to crackle with static. Since your view was often limited (darkness, with only a clip-on pocket flashlight to see) This meant that you always had to have your ears straining, to give you as much warning as possible of coming danger. Before SH, I would often play video games with my stereo turned on, playing any old music. After SH, game designers began to work very hard on making sound an integral part of the game. No more music 'n games for Jake.

But SH didn’t always throw it in your face. To me the most disturbing moment was when I found a backyard basketball court in the non-Hellraiser version of town. There was a puddle of red on the ground near the basket (you get desensitized to the amount of random blood around the town), but there seemed to be something in the middle of it. I pressed the "examine" button, and a text description popped up: "A dog’s head." I looked up, and there was a splotch of red on the backboard. I put it all together. My god! Someone cut off a dog’s head and shot a basket with it! This shit is fucked up!

Plenty of story, too. As one would imagine, the town of Silent Hill has a history plagued with cults, torture, murder and secrets. Silent Hill went on to become a franchise, with each game usually having only tenuous connections to the others.

For a while, Resident Evil and Silent Hill were really the only significant horror games out there, but that's changing. The most promising new series are the Japanese folklore-based Fatal Frame series, where you must use a mystic camera to capture the souls of angry spirits, and The Suffering, which focused on sanity, morality, and the hellish conditions of prison.

So what are people afraid of? I think more than anything, people are afraid of what's out there. Whatever's just beyond the edge of their vision, whatever's just around this corner, whatever's just beyond their mind's comprehension. It's out there, and if it comes near us, it could do terrible, terrible things to us. What kinds of things? If you've done the scaring right, everyone will be too afraid to ask.

Posted by Jake at 02:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 29, 2004

Poster for You

Just a reminder:

Posted by Jake at 01:03 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

To Recap

Bush's "Timeline of Failure"

Posted by Jake at 09:17 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

October 28, 2004

"The difficult we'll do right now, the impossible will take a little while."
-Billie Holliday

Posted by Jake at 10:39 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Crystal Ball

So how is this election gonna turn out?

I'm no optimist, but common sense tells me that Kerry should win (in the popular vote, anyway)(presuming that there is no massive voter fraud or suppression).

Last election, Bush got around half the vote, and that was back when people bought his "compassionate conservative" shit. This election, Bush's campaign strategy has been to smear Kerry and pander to his base. The smears do not seem to have had much impact, and he's been hemorrhaging base voters. Some Republicans feel tricked, some are angry or scared about Iraq, some are scared by his religious fundamentalism, and he's even lost a lot of the military vote for his mishandling of a ridiculous war.

It seems to me that to win, he'd have to replace these defecting voters with new independents or convert some Democrats. But he's made little effort to do that-- until this week, saying that he's not opposed to gay civil unions and praising the Democratic party. And starting to reach out to a potential voter bloc with only 6 days left in the campaign... probably a little late.

On top of that Bush has angered so many people that they've registered in droves just so they can vote against him.

If I'm right (and that's no sure thing), the only logical way that Bush can win this is if a) lots of former non-voters are inspired by Bush's presidency that they come out to vote or b) lots of Democrats are so scared of terrorism that they feel they have to vote for the hombre mas macho.

So I think things are looking... positive. All in all, I hope the vote's not even close. I hope Kerry stomps Bush into the fucking ground.

Posted by Jake at 12:37 AM | Comments (17) | TrackBack

October 27, 2004

Alternate Ending

Was I the only person who was disappointed by the end of the now-famous Eminem video?

I mean, they form an army, they turn a firehose on the cops, storm a government building and then all they do is vote? I was expecting them to physically throw Bush out of the White House or set fire to the Oval Office or something.

Posted by Jake at 11:57 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

The Magic of Polling

[Part 7 in a continuing LMB series aimed at destroying your faith in everything]

Final poll results for the 2000 Presidential Election

Zobgy- tie
Gallup- Bush +2%
ABC- Bush +4%
CNN/USA Today- Bush +5%

You'll recall, Al Gore actually won the popular vote, by about 0.5%.

As the link above reminds us, a single percentage point in a nationwide poll is a little over one million people, and most of these polls have margins of error of 2-4%. Meaning that your average poll can easily be off by around 9 million. Our conclusion should not be "then let's look at Zogby, cuz they're the most accurate." Our conclusion should be "national polls are unreliable and always will be."

Trust in polls will be a hard habit to break. Despite my frequent railing against them, I want to believe them. Everyone probably does. If national polls aren't reliable, how can we ever hope to know what the people in this country really think, short of asking all 290 million of them? Giving up all hope in polls will feel like a loss.

But if we the people will feel a loss at giving up polls, your average journalist will feel like they've quit heroin cold turkey. Polls are the easiest, handiest news-like item that the press world has. It can be a headline story. It can supplement a headline story. It can be the basis of a "trend" story. It can be the inspiration for a pundit show topic. It can be support for either side of the pundits in a discussion. Polls take thin air and give it a science-esque feel, which can then be molded to fit anywhere, like a big lump of putty.

And putty just isn't the same as information.

Posted by Jake at 10:37 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


Although I'd love to play along with this hoax, I just can't lie to you people.

Earlier today, I got emailed a press release from the "Yes Bush Can" campaign, "an independent group dedicated to communicating Bush policies directly to the public" to announce that their group "has abandoned its campaign and is officially endorsing John Kerry for President."

This sounded like a hoax, and the organization's title was a tad too reminiscent of the activist pranksters The Yes Men. After browsing the YBC site a bit, I did see a few things which looked potentially over the top. Then I only had to watch one of their video clips for a few seconds to recognize the participants from the Yes Men documentary that came out this summer.

Surely some members of the media are going to get this press release, take it seriously, and interview members of YBC. Let the fun begin!

Posted by Jake at 01:40 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 26, 2004


Just think! Only one more week until the lengthy post-election legal battles begin!

Posted by Jake at 01:59 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 23, 2004

Em Squared

When I downloaded the Eminem anti-Bush track from the semi-official site the other day, I also downloaded a track that at a quick glance looked like it had "Bin Laden" in the title. I didn't expect much, but figured I'd check it out later.

It's later.


As political music goes, man, does it blow the Eminem track away! It's like a hip-hop Juan Cole essay.

The song is by Immortal Technique and Mos Def (apparently with a few cameos by Jadakiss and Eminem), and is called "Bin Laden". You can listen to it here (scroll down).

Some lyrics:

Man, you hear this bullshit they be talkin’....Every day, man It’s like these motherfuckers is just like professional liars, youknowwhatI’msayin? It’s wild....Listen

Bin Laden didn’t blow up the projects
It was you, nigga, Tell the truth, nigga
(Bush knocked down the towers)
Tell the truth, nigga
(Bush knocked down the towers)
Tell the truth, nigga

...shit is run by fake Christians fake politicians,
Look at they mansions and look at the conditions you live in,
All they talk about is terrorism on television,
They tell you to listen but they don't really tell you they mission,
They funded Al-Qaeda and now they blame the Muslim religion,
Even though Bin Laden was a CIA tactician,
They gave him billions of dollars and they funded his purpose,
Fahrenheit 9/11, that's just scratchin' the surface...

They say the rebels in Iraq still fight for Saddam,
But that's bullshit I'll show you why it's totally wrong,
Cuz if another country invaded the hood tonight,
It'd be warfare through Harlem and Washington Heights,
I wouldn't be fightin' for Bush or White America's dream,
I'd be figntin' for my people's survival and self-esteem,
I wouldn't fight for racist churches from the south my nigga,
I be fightin' to be keep the occupation out my nigga,
You ever clock someone who talk shit or looked at you wrong?
Imagine if they shot at you and was raping your moms,
And of course Saddam Hussein had chemical weapons,
We sold him that shit, after Ronald Reagan's election,
Mercenary contractors fightin' a new era,
Corporate military bankin' off the war on terror,
And they controllin' the ghetto with the fear of attack,
Tryna distract the fact that they engineerin' the crack.


The only part of that I don't like is the "Bush knocked down the towers" line in the chorus. Everything else is pretty dope.

Posted by Jake at 02:38 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

October 21, 2004

The Study

When browsing the news yesterday, I ran across three different stories with three different headlines:

Thinktank: invasion aided al-Qaida

Think-tank warns of increased nuclear threat

Iraqi forces may need five years to develop, think tank says

Turns out all three articles are based on the same report.

"The Military Balance 2004-2005", by the well-respected International Institute for Strategic Studies, examines the "military capabilities and defence economics of 170 countries", and apparently looks at militia and terrorist groups too. Unfortunately, it costs a chunk of money, so I can't read it and tell y'all about it.

But, given the quotes in the articles above, we can come to some conclusions. Like "wow, the war on Iraq was a terrible fucking idea."

None of those headlines should be surprising. The US invasion of Iraq angered many Muslims and inspired some to join Al Qaida. The US entanglement in Iraq made Iran and North Korea feel that it was safe to work on their nuclear programs. And it might take 5 years to train Iraqi police and military forces to the point where they could keep the peace in their country, and US forces might stay there until then.

Security does seem to be the prime concern of the Iraqi people. But we get a catch-22 there. Much of the violence in Iraq is aimed at the US and US "colalborators", so maybe things would be more secure if the Americans left. But without the US, criminal and sectarian violence might flourish.

Only one sure solution: we need a time machine.


Now even former CIA George Tenet says the Iraq war was wrong.


Posted by Jake at 04:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 20, 2004

Eminem Is a Dirty Smelly Hippy

The rumored next single by Eminem, "Mosh", looks to be an anti-war, anti-Bush track. The song is being released on the new DJ Green Lantern mixtape Sirius Bizness*, or you can download it here.


Looks like they've taken down the mp3, but you can hear the track in Windows Media or Real Player here.


It's not the greatest song I've ever heard, even by Eminem standards, but some of the lyrics are pretty good. My favorite bits:

Imagine it pouring, it's raining down on us,
Mosh pits outside the oval office
Someone's trying to tell us something, maybe this is God just saying
we're responsible for this monster, this coward
that we have empowered
This is Bin Laden, look at his head nodding,
How could we allow something like this
Without pumping our fist
Now this is our, final hour
Let the President answer on high anarchy
Strap him with AK-47, let him go
Fight his own war, let him impress daddy that way
No more blood for oil, we got our own battles to fight on our soil
No more psychological warfare to trick us to think that we ain't loyal
If we don't serve our own country we're patronizing a hero
Look in his eyes, it's all lies, the stars and stripes
They've been swiped, washed out and wiped,
And Replaced with his own face, mosh now or die
If I get sniped tonight you'll know why, because I told you to fight

(I guess he's using the term "mosh" to mean get angry or fight back or something?)

We're getting all this political music these days, but I sadly predict that it won't last much past this next election. Unless, of course, Bush is re-elected and continues fucking everything up.

* sigh. The title of the mixtape seems to be a blatant plug for Eminem's upcoming channel on Sirius satelite radio.

** This is the 1500th LMB post. Hooray!

Posted by Jake at 09:51 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack


Historicize My Polls, Dammit!- Ezra over at Pandagon brings us more info about the inaccuracy of polls. He shows us the poll data from the 2000 election around this time, and finds that there's pretty much no similarity to the poll info and the actual election results. Why do we pay attention to polls again?

Muslim peacekeepers for Iraq nixed- last month, a number of Muslim countries volunteered to send troops to Iraq to help prepare for the elections in January. The White House refused to go along with this plan unless these troops agreed to serve under US command. Not wanting to be lynched by their own citizens, these Muslim leaders declined to participate under those conditions. So there's no extra help. Good going, Bush.

Should we outsource torture?- a new bill that passed the House of Representatives says that when the US wants to interrogate a prisoner, it's okay to send that prisoner to a country that uses torture when interogating prisoners. Surely this is What Jesus Would Do.

Sinclair Fires Journalist After Critical Comments- round of applause for this fella. Jon Leiberman was the Washington bureau chief of Sinclair Broadcast Group, but when he heard about their anti-Kerry plan, he spoke out against it as an insult to journalism. And of course, they fired his ass for it. We need more people like this guy, who are willing to put themselves at risk to say what needs to be said. Whatever the opposite of a Lying Media Bastard is, Jon's one of em.

The End of Democracy- author argues that the actions of the Conservative Movement (somewhat different than conservatives or the Republican party) are actually destroying democracy in America, but that the Democrats are loathe to bring this up because it doesn't make for a good talking point.

The 9/11 Secret in the CIA's Back Pocket- is the Bush crew withholding the results of a report on 9/11 that will actually place blame on individuals and hold them accountable? If they were, would you be surprised?

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

The Crazy Stupid Madness

When I wrote my earlier posts about Mary Cheney, they weren't so much about her or about John Kerry, but about what I considered to be hypocrisy on the part of Kerry's liberal supporters. Not a particularly important issue, just a comment I felt like making at the time. Sadly, the American political circus has thrown this "controversy" into the center ring.

Re-re-re-affirming their complete lack of perspective, the media is treating this story like they'd found Michael Jackson kissing Monica Lewinsky at OJ's house. To even attempt to pretend that Cheney's sexuality or Kerry's mention of it is actually important is to scale the heights of insanity. There's a war in Iraq. My friends have no health insurance. There's genocide in the Sudan. And let's not forget that around 20% of the world is literally starving to death right now. I don't care if Mary Cheney is attracted to men, women, or baked potatoes. Her father is an evil fuck, and that's all I need to know. Can we get to the important stuff now?

How can journalists live with themselves? I think if I was a member of the press corps and was forced to take this Mary Cheney stuff seriously, I'd puke twice, quit my job, go home, and cry myself to sleep.

It all follows on what Jon Stewart talked about last week. Not only is Crossfire political theater, but the mainstream news is also political theater. Hell, politics is political theater. And we wonder why half of America doesn't vote? This nation's politics have gotten so far removed from reality, from people's actual day to day lives, it's hard to care about them in the slightest.

Posted by Jake at 12:46 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 19, 2004

Jester with Teeth

By now you've all probably heard about Jon Stewart's appearance on CNN's Crossfire. It's pretty amazing. You can read the transcript above, or watch the video here.

It seems that conservative Tucker Carlson wanted Stewart on to argue as a liberal pundit, and that liberal Paul Begala wanted Stewart on to be funny. They both assumed that Stewart was going to play along. He didn't.

STEWART: In many ways, it's funny. And I made a special effort to come on the show today, because I have privately, amongst my friends and also in occasional newspapers and television shows, mentioned this show as being bad... And I wanted to -- I felt that that wasn't fair and I should come here and tell you that I don't -- it's not so much that it's bad, as it's hurting America. So I wanted to come here today and say... Stop. Stop, stop, stop, stop hurting America. See, the thing is, we need your help. Right now, you're helping the politicians and the corporations. And we're left out there to mow our lawns.

BEGALA: By beating up on them? You just said we're too rough on them when they make mistakes.

STEWART: No, no, no, you're not too rough on them. You're part of their strategies. You are partisan, what do you call it, hacks.

I had so much to say on this topic that it took me several days to whittle it down into something readable.

Stewart accuses these guys of being entertainers posing as newsmen, and he's right. Crossfire and all the other cable news screaming heads shows are about ratings, about drama and conflict. If they could get away with inserting explosions and car chases, they would. It's about as informative as reading the front page headlines of a newspaper while two guys yell "no, you're an idiot" at each other for half an hour.

Stewart brings up what is becoming a bit of a refrain for him, "help us, news media!" Like many idealists, Stewart reads the writing on the facade and tries to get the press corps to live up to their fabled expectations: to inform the citizenry, and to act as watchdogs on our behalf, forever scrutinizing those in power.

The Crossfire hosts attempt to dodge Stewart's demand by claiming that they're a "debate show," not a "news show," as though that makes everything alright. Carlson then counterattacks by saying that Stewart didn't ask tough enough questions of John Kerry when he appeared on The Daily Show.

Attack and counterattack is not debate, and it does not enlighten or inform us. A show with any sort of responsiblity would look at Stewart's claims and try to figure out who was right and who was wrong. Then, if they wanted, they could see if Carlson's claim was accurate. And so on. But no, we get the yelling.

And Carlson does have a bit of a point. Stewart had the opportunity to ask tough questions of Kerry in front of an audience. But "responsibility" and "opportunity" are two different things. Stewart's responsibility as talk show host only requires him to produce engaging television. As for blowing an opportunity, he's no more guilty than anyone else, professional or not, who had a chance to ask Kerry a tough question in front of an audience.

Carlson, on the other hand has an alleged responsibility as a (quasi-) journalist to inform the public. In reality though, his responsibilities are the same as Stewart's, to create good TV. They're both dancing with shadows here: Stewart is an entertainer pretending that his show has no merit or impact, while Carlson is also an entertainer, pretending that his show is only about facts and information.

The final important point that Stewart makes is about partisans and pundits. He says that he thinks that they believe in their ideological side, but that instead of making actual arguments for why their side is best, they use lies, spin and deceitful arguments in an attempt to win people over. Fuck, if you really think that John Kerry would make a bad leader, go ahead and say so and explain why. You don't have to pretend that your real concern is whether or not he threw away his war medals. But again, we get the latter because it's often more effective persuasion, and it makes better TV.

Stewart isn't saying "the emperor has no clothes," he's saying "the emperor's wearing a clown suit, and he bought it at the same store as Brokaw and Blitzer."

Posted by Jake at 12:15 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

October 18, 2004

Bush's Bold Anti-Civil Liberties Stand

Three Oregon school teachers were threatened with arrest for wearing non-partisan "Protect Our Civil Liberties" t-shirts to a Bush rally.

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

October 17, 2004

Curtain #2

Journalistic scholar Jay Rosen does some deep thinking about the Sinclair propaganda scandal and asks a key question: is Sinclair a media company with political ambitions, or is Sinclair a political organization that masquerades as a media company?

Rosen discusses a number of ways in which Sinclair has become explicitly political. The first is the corporation's daily segment where the VP of Corporate Relations gets to spout a bunch of conservative drivel and have it aired all across the network. Second is their odd conservative-leaning mini-news program that they force their affiliates to insert into their local news broadcasts. And third, they're willing to lose tons of cash--the company's stock price has dropped to its lowest level since 1995-- in order to broadcast their anti-Kerry "documentary."

David Niewert theorizes that Sinclair might be a type of suicide army, out to achieve its master's political goals even if it is destroyed itself in the process.

What the hell is the Sinclair Group? What is its long term agenda? We best keep an eye on them.


Incorrect hyperlink for Rosen's article. Fixed now.


Posted by Jake at 10:46 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

October 16, 2004

Clark County: Global Village

As the United States is the most powerful nation in the world, it can be expected that the rest of the world might be a bit concerned about the results of our presidential election. They might even want some say in the outcome, as it's their world too.

The Guardian has come up with a novel idea on that subject. They have analyzed US voting patterns, and have decided that Clark County Ohio is a swing district within a swing state. And if a non-American sends an email to the Guardian, they will send you the email address of one resident of Clark County. That person can then write to this Clark County-ite and try to explain who they are, why they think voter should pick for one candidate rather than another, and why the hell the voter should care what some mysterious foreigner thinks.

To date, more than 7000 people have requested these Clark County voter pen pals. Will those people write to their Americans? Will those letters have an impact? Could the whole project backfire terribly? Guess we'll wait and see.

Still, a novel idea, trying to get Americans to see the world through the world's eyes.

Posted by Jake at 12:55 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 15, 2004

Oligopoly on the Truth

Wow, never have so many people banded together to tell me that I'm wrong, and/or insane.

And maybe I am, I dunno. Wrong, I mean, not isane. Well, maybe insane too. But if both Kerry and Edwards brought up Cheney's daughter's sexual orientation, the most obvious political tactic I see there is an attempt to smear Cheney to people who are homophobic. As always, I'm open to better suggestions.

Posted by Jake at 10:09 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

October 14, 2004

Generic Sci-Fi Dystopia Is Here!

I find this to be creepy.

The FDA has given the A-OK to imlant microchips into human skin that would carry a patient's medial records, and could be read by scanners when held close to the patient. Of course, the chips could be used to store any sort of information, and could possibly be quite helpful. But it's really just too cyberpunk apocalypse for me.

Posted by Jake at 05:50 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Massive Voter Fraud Yadda Yadda Yadda

Meant to mention this one earlier.

Long story short, a company that was registering people to vote apparently went through the completed application forms and threw out the people who registered Democrat. Highly illegal.

The company's called Voters Outreach of America. They were caught throwing out Democratic registrations in Nevada, although the company was also operating in Oregon. The company also registered voters in West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

The company is run by the former head of the Arizona Republican Party, and received around $500,000 from the Republican National Committee. Did the RNC actually pay this guy to trick Democrats out of their vote?

To be fair, what we've mostly got are a few eyewitness accounts of Democrat registrations being thrown out, and a couple of other shady practices. Perhaps these were isolated incidents? Again, I don't know for sure.

Bottom line is that if you think you might have registered to vote with a company like this, you should probably double-check that you are actually registered. I don't have information on how to do that from wherever you are, but it looks like you can contact the Election Assistance Commission toll-free by calling (866) 747-1471, and ask them how to find out if you're actually registered.


Kos has assembled all kinds of info about Voter Fraud 2004.


Posted by Jake at 05:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Northeastern Strategy

"I think if you were to talk to Dick Cheney's daughter, who is a lesbian, she would tell you that she's being who she was, she's being who she was born as."

That's a quote from John Kerry from last night's presidential debate. Conservatives operatives are faking shock and outrage over it, as though Kerry was telling the nation smutty secrets about Mary Cheney's sex life. Of course, this says more about conservatives than it does about Mary Cheney or John Kerry; they think that simply being gay is a dirty, dirty thing.

Liberals are defending Kerry's comment by citing this conservative prejudice and prudery, and saying that since the question was about gays that Kerry had every right to mention Mary Cheney. Which is true, but I think liberals are intentionally missing the point as well.

There are only three reasons that Kerry would have brought up Mary Cheney's name, out of the millions of American gays.

1) He wanted to make the Republicans look hypocritical. "The Republicans are anti-gay yet some of them are gay?"

2) He wanted to make Republicans look anti-family. "Cheney's anti-gay even though his own daughter is gay? What a horrible father!"

3) He was pandering to homophobes. "Cheney's daughter is a dyke? I don't know if I can vote for him now."

I'd guess that it's a little of all three, but mostly #3.

If it's wrong for Republicans to pander to racists (via coded language), it's just as wrong for Democrats to pander to homophobes. End of story.

Posted by Jake at 01:39 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

October 13, 2004

Rewind That Shit

George W. Bush: "Gosh, I just don't think I ever said I'm not worried about Osama bin Laden. It's kind of one of those exaggerations."
-Presidential Debate, October 13, 1004.

Q: "Don't you believe that the threat that bin Laden posed won't truly be eliminated until he is found either dead or alive?"

George W. Bush: "Well, as I say, we haven't heard much from him. And I wouldn't necessarily say he's at the center of any command structure. And, again, I don't know where he is. I -- I'll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him."
-Press Conference, March 13, 2002.

[via Political Animal]


I originally used a rushed transcript for Bush's quote from tonight that was slightly incorrect. I have now corrected it.


Posted by Jake at 06:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Fun Time

I just posted a new quote to my quotes section, by one Bart Simpson. Which gave me an idea. Post a comment to this entry, and share your favorite Simpsons quote. You know you've got one. Or seventy.

Posted by Jake at 02:03 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

"I'm not calling you a liar, but... I can't think of a way to finish that sentence."
-Bart Simpson

Posted by Jake at 01:59 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Freeway of Speech

The mysterious Freeway Blogger has declared today, October 13 to be "Freeway Free Speech Day". For those not familiar, the Freeway Blogger is a fellow who hangs clever anti-war signs and banners alongside major freeways in southern California. For Oct. 13, he has recruited perhaps hundreds of other people around the country to do their own "freeway blogging." So far, it seems pretty glorious.

Check out the Oct 13 pictures here.

Posted by Jake at 10:38 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Jeez, lots of developments on events I've talked about here.


This story has blown up

You've got an ex-FCC commissioner and a current FCC commisioner speaking out against Sinclair.

Pissed off liberals are pretty are mobilizing against Sinclair. Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo has written a number of pieces about how you can try to pressure local Sinclair stations. It's a simple matter of finding the Sinclair affiliate nearest you, contacting that station's sales manager, and informing them that you plan to boycott all their local advertisers (and that you are about to call the advertisers and tell them that). Of course, it would help to identify and actually call those advertisers, but I think even just calling up the Sinclair station manager would have some impact. Apparently the efforts are bearing some fruit, as at least one major advertiser pulls back from Sinclair.

Free Press posts a link where you can file a complaint about Sinclair with the FCC.

And Steve Gilliard has posted information about pressuring financial firms to divest from Sinclair.

Folks with a bit of a conspiracy bent are pointing out financial links between Bush administration and Sinclair. Maybe this is true, but do you really think a corporate CEO needs an additional reason to support the business-friendly George W?

Oh yeah, and Sinclair's VP claimed that the people who don't want them to air this anti-Kerry documentary are "like Holocaust deniers". Classy.

All of this publicity could get the Sinclair heads in huge trouble. Legally speaking, the board of directors is supposed to solely work on increasing profits for shareholders. If the shareholders find that this seemingly ideological assault is not profitable, they could can the directors and sue them (as satisfying as that result might be, I have to say that I'm against this set of laws).

Dred W

Here's a little more info on the Dred Scott/abortion thing, with examples of a few more code words Bush has been covertly aiming at religious conservatives.

Afghan Elections

Author/journalist Christian Parenti gives a lengthy interview from Afghanistan, calling the elections "a farce". He talks about voter fraud, the rub-off ink, corrupt candidates, warlords, and suffering. Sadly, the grim predictions I made look like they might be true. Most surprising part of the article: Parenti, a white American, could have voted twice.

Posted by Jake at 09:58 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

I think I'm just gonna go ahead and declare myself a rock star. I can do that.

Posted by Jake at 08:12 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 12, 2004

School Pride

I graduated from UCLA back in 1998. Didn't go to a single football game, didn't own a single UCLA t-shirt, and was barely aware when the basketball team won a national championship.

But I am feeling a bit of school pride this morning. Y'see, ever since I first visited the campus, there has been a Taco Bell stand near one of the outdoor quad areas. Very popular, very simple. I don't like Taco Bell so I never ate there.

For several years now, the Taco Bell corporation has been involved in a labor dispute. The workers who pick the tomatoes that go into Taco Bell products are paid miniscule starvation wages. On top of that, bizarre Florida labor laws prevent the workers from forming a union. Unfortunately, the workers are not directly employed by Taco Bell, but by an agricultural company called 6 Ls, which makes things more difficult. Most big corporations are very protective of their public image, so things like boycotts and campaigns to publicize a company's immoral actions can be very effective. But an unknown agrictultural company can't be pressured in such a way. So, these farm workers have little choice but to try to use public tactics against Taco Bell in hopes that it will pressure 6 Ls into negotiating with their workers.

(I've always thought that Taco Bell was something of bystander in this conflict, but new info posted on the farmworkers' website shows that Taco Bell puts great pressure on their produce suppliers to offer the lowest possible prices. Which means that the produce companies keep prices low by keeping costs low by keeping wages low. So Taco Bell actually has a near-direct effect on keeping these farmworkers in poverty)

Anyhow, I had heard about several universities where students concerned about the farmworkers pressured their campuses to kick out existing Taco Bell franchises on their campuses, but never dreamed that my apathetic, profit-driven alma mater would ever do something like that. But today, I read that the main student government organization at UCLA is recommending that the school terminate their contract with Taco Bell.

Nice work, Bruins.

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

October 10, 2004

Press Follies

Hannity Cancels Appearance- Fox News blowhard Sean Hannity agreed to give a speech at St. Louis' Washington University to "counter" a recent speech given there by Michael Moore. But alas, it was not to be. Hannity cancelled his speech because although the school agreed to hire a private jet to fly him out to STL, he had had a "bad experience" with that particular brand of private jet. I imagine we can all relate to that.

Kerry Fights Back- honestly, this article is as much about the reporters covering Kerry as it is about Kerry himself. If this author is to be believed, these reporters disliked Kerry and didn't bother hiding it. He claims that they refused to write anything positive about Kerry, even when it was warranted, and that on one occasion that the reporters had taken a "perverse pleasure in standing up to Kerry, in not giving him what he wanted."

How Would Jackson Pollock Cover This Campaign?- NY Times ombudsman/public editor/"readers' representative" writes an article claiming that his newspaper is completely unbiased, and if you think it is biased, then it's just your own passions coloring your vision. Then, he printed the names and hometowns of people who had written critical or angry letters into the paper about perceived bias. That's kind of a nasty thing to do. I probably wouldn't even do that to someone who had written me an angry email about my blog, and I have several million fewer readers than the NYT.

Both Sides Not "Equally Accountable"- I'm loathe to link to Matt Drudge, because he's a conservative smear-monging hack. But one of his recent posts is leading to some interesting discussion. Drudge posted an internal memo from the political director of ABC News, that Drudge is trying to spin as proof of a pro-Kerry/anti-Bush bias. But really the memo is a plea for reporters to stop playing the faux objectivity game.

"Objectivity" is one of my top beefs with the American press. Frankly, it's a marketing gimmick. Once upon a time, American papers were printed by political parties, and were completely biased. Then someone got the bright idea that maybe if they dropped the ideology, they could sell papers to members of both parties and make more money. Objectivity was born.

But modern objectivity might be more accurately called "anti-bias shielding". It seems that most reporters simply want to get through the day without being called biased, and the easiest way to do that is to try write a story in such a way as to maintain a perfect balance between conservative and liberal opinions. "Republicans say this, Democrats say that, who's right, who cares, enjoy this commercial for hot dogs."

The ABC memo refers to lies and distortions made by both presidential candidates at the last debate. Journalists reviewing the debate found that Bush's lies were more serious, yet slapped a "everybody's a liar" type of headline on top, as though all their sins were equal. This is what the ABC memo is speaking out against. It says that

The current Bush attacks on Kerry involve distortions and taking things out of context in a way that goes beyond what Kerry has done.


We have a responsibility to hold both sides accountable to the public interest, but that doesn't mean we reflexively and artificially hold both sides "equally" accountable when the facts don't warrant that.

Which is my point. Fake equality and fake balance slant the news just as definitively as any ideological bias could. To me, the key part of that memo is that phrase "the facts." Where do the facts lead you? Tell that story. "Bush said this, Kerry said that and Bush is wrong". You can say that, so long as the facts back you up.

But in these increasingly ruthless political times, that sort of thing could cost a reporter their job. Journalists become minor nobles in the King's court, trying to deftly appease all sides so as not to incur anyone's wrath. Which in the end, serves absolutely no one. Just get your comics and sports scores and use A-1 to line your birdcage.

Maybe reporters--good ones, anyway--have to be like all the other countercultural figures. Great artists and rockers and writers often have to follow their passions and create in their spare time, because they simply can't get paid enough as a professional painter or singer or what have you to survive. Maybe all that's genuine has to come from that place that's drive, compulsion, love, and anyone who depends on it for a paycheck risks selling out.

Just a thought.

Posted by Jake at 09:54 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


The "Southern strategy" was a political tactic made popular by Richard Nixon, in which he could appeal to white racists using words and phrases that most non-racist listeners would not interpret as such. "Law and order" and "states rights" were code for "get the blacks."

During the last presidential debate, George W. Bush busted out with a surprise reference to the Dred Scott Supreme Court decision, puzzling many. But, it's apparently a code word of a different kind.

Some lefty bloggers have discovered that anti-abortion forces have frequently argued that the Supreme Court made a wrong, immoral judgement in the Roe v. Wade case, much like they made a wrong, immoral judgement in Dred Scott. And just as Dred Scott was overturned, so could Roe.

In other words, Bush's mention of Dred Scott was a coded message to excite his anti-abortion base. Mystery solved.

Posted by Jake at 09:26 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

With Us or Against Us

By now we've probably all heard a tale or two about folks being turned away from Bush campaign events because they were wearing a John Kerry shirt or something. But you might not realize how common it's become, or the fact that many of these folks are pulled aside by the Secret Service and threatened with arrest. A tad mind-boggling. The link takes you to a page with an NPR audio report. Really worth listening to.

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

The Freedom Sunrise Spreading Thingy

Afghanistan held its first ever elections last week. It will apparently take weeks to count all the ballots, but I'll be shocked if Hamid Karzai doesn't win.

As Donald Rumsfeld has reminded us, "democracy is messy." For example, according to the UN team coordinating the Afghan elections, around 9.5 million Afghans are eligible to vote. But 10.5 million Afghans are registered. And in a country of 28 million, with many people living in distant deserts and mountains, I'm very skeptical of the accuracy of those registrations.

Second, we've got a potential voter fraud issue. Apparently each voter was supposed to have their hand marked with indelible ink, so that vote officials could prevent people from voting more than once. But apparently, the officials are instead used ink that easily washes off. Are people voting more times than they're allowed? No one knows. Because of this, all of Hamid Karzai's opponents are boycotting the election, claiming that it is not legitmate and they won't honor the results (or, they might possibly be using this as an excuse, as they are all likely to be defeated in the vote).

Then you've got the issue of intimidation of women. Much of the country still seems to hold values in which women should be powerless and invisible. For example, some of the provinces of southern Afghanistan women, who make up around half the population, only make up about 10% of the registered voters. Human Rights Watch argues that this is due to women fearing for their lives and safety if they tried to vote.

And finally, we've got good old warlord intimidation. It seemed very likely that the Men With Guns who are the de facto rulers of much of Afghanistan, would tell their "subjects" who to vote for. I haven't dug around much, but this example of a southern tribal leader telling his tribe to vote for Karzai or have their homes burned down, really stands out.

Is it a bit much to expect Afghanistan to become a smooth-functioning democracy only three years after a US invasion, and 20 years of catastrophic civil war before that? Yeah, it probably is. I'm trying to play Nation-Building Savior in my head, but I'm not sure how one transforms a brutalized land which is still largely tribal in nature, into a thriving egalitarian democracy.

I don't know if the nation's of the world are particularly concerned about an Afghan democracy or the Afghan people themselves. This could very easily be play-acting, so that the world can turn away with clear conscience while pantomime-president Karzai rakes in the foreign aid to assemble a nice, unifying iron fist. Actually, that's what I'd bet my money on. If Karzai can get "Democracy" embroidered on his swell wooly hat, and then work out some deal with the warlords to share rule over the suffering millions, everyone willing to turn a blind eye is happy.

But let's say that you actually care about what happens to Afghanistan, what the hell would you do? Part of me thinks that the UN's got the cart before the horse, working on ballots and constitutions while the country's citizens are imprisoned by Kalishnikovs and burqas. Maybe democracy should take a back seat to food programs and public safety. Maybe a traumatized people needs to get some of the basics down before worrying about self-rule.

But I don't think that's true either. Many of the world's most deprived and oppressed fight for freedom and democracy, and fight hard. Who am I to pretend that democracy only matters when you've got a full belly and a front door?

I think that maybe you can only have democracy if you really want it. Maybe you really are only as free as you fight to be, and you get the democracy you deserve (that might explain a few things about democracy in the US of A).

Maybe somebody ought to ask the Afghan people what they want, and how we can help them. Maybe Father doesn't always know best.

Posted by Jake at 05:17 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Media Shower

Conservative TV Group to Air Anti-Kerry Film- when we last heard about the Sinclair Broadcast Group, the head office was commanding all of its local TV affiliates to not air an episode of Nightline that would read aloud the names of all of the US soldiers who had died in the Iraq war. This appeared to be pure conservative partisanship, trying to shield the nation from information that could decrease support for the war.

Now, SBG is forcing all of its affiliates to preempt their regular programs and air an anti-Kerry "documentary" just days before the election. This is precisely the sort of scenario that media activists are always warning against.

Feds Seize Indymedia Servers- odd tale. As I reconstruct it, someone posted a photograph of two undercover Swiss police officers, who were spying on protesters, to the British activist news site Indymedia UK. Swiss law enforcement was upset, so they contacted friends in the FBI to ask for help. The FBI, utilizing some sort of collaborative agreement with British law enforcement, seized Indymedia UK's server computers. These computers not only hosted Indymedia UK, but almost two dozen other international activist news sites. It all sounds pretty shady to me.

On a related note:

Free Radio Santa Cruz Shut Down by FCC- not sure why the FCC is cracking down on pirate stations, first Knoxville First Amendment Radio, now this long-running Santa Cruz station.

Howard Stern on Satellite Radio- Sirius Satellite Radio is the smaller of the two major satellite radio companies in the US. As a means of competing with rival XM, Sirius has signed a deal with popular morning talk host/shock jock Howard Stern. The terms of the deal are outrageous: $500 million for five years. Analysts are saying that Sirius will have to add 1 million subscribers for each of those five years to pay for the Stern deal-- and Stern doesn't even start broadcasting with them till 2006. Frankly, I have to predict that this plan will not be successful, and that in the next few years that XM and Sirius will merge, with XM ascendant.*

Fake Blogs, True Buzz- nothing that new here, advertisers creating fake blogs as a sneaky way to build hype for products. Just another example of advertisers attempts to ruin all that is good in the universe.

Reporter for Times Is Facing Jail Time- NYT reporter Judy Miller is in jail due to contempt of court charges, for refusing to name her sources in the Valerie Plame/CIA leak investigation. Miller is best known for being a pawn of Achmed Chalabi, publishing his lies about Iraq's WMDs with little skepticism.

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

October 08, 2004

I'll Trade Your Cow for These Magic Beans

The pro-war folks have been explaining why we needed to invade Iraq since the spring of 2002. Somehow, a year and a half after the invasion began seems a little late to be a new explanation into the mix:

President Bush and his vice president conceded Thursday in the clearest terms yet that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction, even as they tried to shift the Iraq war debate to a new issue — whether the invasion was justified because Saddam was abusing a U.N. oil-for-food program.

This new rhetorical beanstalk claims that Saddam Hussein was trying to use the oil-for-food program to entice various nations into supporting an end to the fierce economic sanctions that Iraq then faced. Once free, Saddam could then begin building a new WMD program and tying helpless damsels to train tracks.

Let's make sure that we all understand here. A nation with no WMDs, no capability to create WMDs, and facing an economic embargo, was an immediate threat that we had to invade immediately (but nations that do have WMDs, the capability to make more, and a significant militant Islamic fundamentalist element, like, I dunno, PAKISTAN-- safe as houses).

You're not going to read anything sillier this month without cracking a Dr. Seuss book.

Really, this gets crazier the more you think about it. How long was it going to take for the sanctions to end? After that happened, how long until Saddam Hussein was able to actually build an infrastructure to build WMDs? And then to actually create them? Some time after that, then he could actually be a threat. The war was kinda like shooting a prison inmate on sight because you think that when he gets out in a few years, and earns enough money, he might build himself a gun.

As always though, this "Iraq threat" debate is a smokescreen. The only explanation for this invasion that has seemed to make even the slightest bit of sense was that the neoconservative faction at the White House wanted to put a US-friendly government in Iraq (and then military bases) as a part of a lunatic plan to maintain US dominance in this oil-heavy region. Some neocons have also argued that this grand scheme would stop terrorism, but I'm not even sure if they care about that.

But I'm guessing that won't make it into tonight's debates.

Posted by Jake at 05:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


This is quite possibly the worst journalism I have ever seen.

There's this unnamed fellow in Iraq who's part of a "civic group" that is making plans to rebuild the Iraqi school system. He had a couple of computer discs with photos and blueprints for several American schools.

But wait, didn't terrorists attack that Russian school and kill a bunch of kids? And isn't this Iraqi guy an A-rab? TERRORIST ALERT! TERRORIST ALERT!

This story is really pathetic. The discs were found by the US military months ago. Homeland Security says there is no threat. There is absolutely nothing to imply that any American schools are in any sort of danger whatsoever, except that a guy involved in building schools has pictures of schools. But why let reality get in the way of a good story?

Frankly, I feel that this story was planted by someone in the Bush camp, as public fear of terrorism tends to increase Bush's poll numbers.

Posted by Jake at 01:27 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


Love that Matt Taibbi.

[the 2004 election campaign] is turning out to be one of the greatest and most prolonged insults to human dignity the world has ever seen.

It is hard to imagine anything more meaningless, underhanded, vapid, shameless, pointlessly vicious, embarrassing, uninspiring, degrading and even unentertaining than this billion-dollar daily exchange of sneering teenage accusations between the Bush and Kerry camps. And it is hard to imagine anything more galling than the unspoken media subtext of the election—the idea that this slime-fest somehow represents an important moment, a landmark memory, in our own lives. The implication that we're such losers that we would actually want to watch this crap 24 hours a day for 15 or 16 months is almost more appalling than the behavior of the candidates themselves.

Taibbi blames journalists for the fiasco, and has instituted the First Quadrennial Election Hack Invitational, in which he picks 32 of the worst campaign reporters, and will slowly whittle them down to the absolute worst political journalist in the United States. And along the way, we all get to read his ruthless dismemberment of these reporters. It's win-win, unless you're one of these journalists and have feelings.

Go witness the humiliation.

Posted by Jake at 12:08 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 06, 2004


The Cure- The Kiss
Johnny Cash & Joe Strummer- Redemption Song
The Edge- The Batman
Curtis Mayfield- Pusherman
Old Crow Medicine Show- Wagon Wheel
And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead- It Was There That I Saw You
Asian Dub Foundation- Naxalite
Wanda Jackson- Riot in Cellblock #9
Run DMC- Son of Byford / Hit It Run
The Offspring- Baghdad
Ozomatli- La Misma Cancion
Flogging Molly- Black Friday Rule
David Cross- James Lipton
Paris- The Devil Made Me Do It
The Ramones- Judy Is a Punk
The Dresden Dolls- Coin-Operated Boy
Rancid- Time Bomb
Probot- The Warlock
The Coup- The Coup
The Propellerheads- You Want It Back

Posted by Jake at 11:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Right-Wing Film Festival

Some months back, I heard that angry conservatives were going to stage a film festival. In the wake of Fahrenheit 9/11, they were upset that their voices were not being heard (what? You've got the president, both wings of Congress, Fox News and talk radio. Shut the fuck up. I mean... anyway...), and decided to screen a bunch of conservative films in the heart of the liberal beast, Hollywood itself.

Apparently "The Liberty Film Festival" took place this weekend (although it more accurately would've been called the "Anti-Michael Moore Film Festival"). I found a review of the Festival on movie geek site Ain't It Cool News. I'll warn you, the review's written by a Republican who greatly enjoyed the festival, but still, I think it's worth a look.

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

Dot Com


At last night's debate, Dick Cheney told the country to visit "" for information that he figured would exonerate him and make John Edwards look bad. Unfortunately for Cheney, he confused those crazy internet extensions., the site he'd meant to name, is a non-partisan research organization that examines the accuracy of many of questionable claims made by politicians during the presidential campaign. But is an address that redirects you to anti-Bush advocate George Soros' website. The banner of the website: "Why We Must Not Re-Elect George W. Bush".

[update] weighs in on Cheney and Edwards:

Cheney got our domain name wrong -- calling us "" -- and wrongly implied that we had rebutted allegations Edwards was making about what Cheney had done as chief executive officer of Halliburton.

In fact, we did post an article pointing out that Cheney hasn't profited personally while in office from Halliburton's Iraq contracts, as falsely implied by a Kerry TV ad. But Edwards was talking about Cheney's responsibility for earlier Halliburton troubles. And in fact, Edwards was mostly right.

It's just not your day, Dick.


Posted by Jake at 08:48 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 05, 2004


Okay, what are the odds that Dick Cheney stabs someone before tonight's Vice-Presidential debate is over?

Posted by Jake at 03:16 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 04, 2004

Dueling Nutjobs

As a Gen-Xer, I am an expert in discussing and debating stupid shit. It's a sad, sad practice of my generation to argue about really weird topics, usually dredging up nostalgic 70s/80s goofiness from our childhoods ("who would win in a fight, Starscream, Donkey Kong, or a box of Count Chocula cereal?"). For these crimes, we all probably deserve to have our bodies simply chucked in roadside ditches when we die.

But even I know when to say when.

In the wake of Bush/Kerry debates, many internet political geeks are not debating the issues, policies, or answers of the two candidates, but weird-ass conspiracy theories about whether or not the candidates cheated.

Conservative nuts are looking at this video clip, and see what appears to be John Kerry taking something out of his pocket before the debate. What is he pulling out? Fucked if I know, the video isn't very detailed. But a number of conservatives have decided that this mystery object is obviously a stack of forbidden crib notes that he could then use to demolish the president in the debate. Or maybe it was a pen, but if he brought his own pen it was against the rules!!! Therefore John Kerry should be horsewhipped and dragged naked through the streets.

But we must ask: did the pocket work alone? Or was there a Second Pocket?

And on the liberal side, folks are puzzling over Bush's odd "let me finish" comment during the debate, uttered when no one was trying to stop him. Some liberals are postulating that Bush must have been wearing an earpiece with someone reading him answers, and his comment was aimed at the remote reader. The detectives also point to a "mysterious bulge" in Bush's suitjacket, which is maybe supposed to be a transmitter or battery pack. Or, perhaps an alien implant.

I'm too tired to give this much more thought. Like I keep saying, the main things to focus on in any sort of election is what the candidates say they plan to do, how likely they are to actually follow through on those plans, and what are the probable impacts of those plans. Neither NotecardGate nor the Grassy Suit Bulge fall into any of those categories.

Posted by Jake at 01:10 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

October 02, 2004

Greatest Hits

Oliver Willis summarizes the Republican National Convention with this video clip.

Posted by Jake at 08:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 01, 2004

The Debate

I had every intention of "liveblogging" the Kerry/Bush debate tonight (liveblogging = taking a single blog entry and continually adding updates as the blogger witnesses an ongoing event). But only a few minutes into it, a friend called me. Then another. And by the time I settled back down, I'd missed most of the first 20 minutes. So I cooked dinner, and went to see "Shaun of the Dead" (which is very funny, and fucking genius if you've seen a lot of zombie movies, like I have). Gotta say, I don't regret my choice. I'm sure my still-intact TV and living room window also applaud the decision.

From the bits I caught, Kerry looked, well, presidential. Growing up in Reagan's America, I'm used to presidents who are tall, older, stiff, serious, and in crisp suits. Kerry also had the benefits of seeming very knowledgable, and being taller than Bush (it's a little-known fact that the taller candidate wins the race about 80% of the time). I was also a bit taken aback by Kerry's announcement that he would "hunt down and kill the terrorists, wherever they are." Apparently he's part Predator.

Bush seemed kind of slouchy and snappish. I think my favorite part was when Bush began one of his rebuttals with the "sly" comment, "I don't think we want to get to how he's going to pay for all these promises." Which if I'd heard in a junior high debate class, I would've said, "ooh, burn!", but hearing it now as a grown-up makes me say "are you fucking kidding me?" I'll bet Bush brings a whoopee cushion to summit meetings.

I get really, really tired of Bush's intentional misunderstandings and misrepresentations. "You said this is the wrong war, you hate the troops! You hate the troops!" Or the recent "how dare you risk destablizing global international relations by insulting Iyad Allawi!" 1) Allawi's visit to the US was a simple Bush re-election stunt. 2) Allawi's a fucking unelected thug, not some respected, representative head of state. 3) If Iraq holds elections in January like it's supposed to, Allawi probably won't even be in charge of Iraq by the time the next American presidential term begins.

Kerry might've found a good rhetorical strategy. Say that whatever your opponent has done isn't good enough, and that you'll do more. If Bush argues that we don't need more, he won't find much success; we're Americans, we like "more.". "More" oughtta be tattooed on our foreheads at birth. And if Bush claims that he's gonna do more in his second term, then Kerry's argument that Bush hasn't done enough rings true.

At this moment, the consensus seems to be that Kerry beat Bush like a piñata. As some commentator, I don't remember who, said, it's likely that undecided candidates will actually start to take a look at Kerry now. Not a bad start.

While we're at it, let's end with a little off-site political humor:

Kerry-Haters for Kerry

Satan for Bush 2004 (video)

And, since I just got back from a zombie movie- Bush/Zombie Reagan 2004

[update] on the debates.


Posted by Jake at 12:54 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

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Media News

October 10, 2004

Media Shower

Conservative TV Group to Air Anti-Kerry Film- when we last heard about the Sinclair Broadcast Group, the head office was commanding all of its local TV affiliates to not air an episode of Nightline that would read aloud the names of all of the US soldiers who had died in the Iraq war. This appeared to be pure conservative partisanship, trying to shield the nation from information that could decrease support for the war.

Now, SBG is forcing all of its affiliates to preempt their regular programs and air an anti-Kerry "documentary" just days before the election. This is precisely the sort of scenario that media activists are always warning against.

Feds Seize Indymedia Servers- odd tale. As I reconstruct it, someone posted a photograph of two undercover Swiss police officers, who were spying on protesters, to the British activist news site Indymedia UK. Swiss law enforcement was upset, so they contacted friends in the FBI to ask for help. The FBI, utilizing some sort of collaborative agreement with British law enforcement, seized Indymedia UK's server computers. These computers not only hosted Indymedia UK, but almost two dozen other international activist news sites. It all sounds pretty shady to me.

On a related note:

Free Radio Santa Cruz Shut Down by FCC- not sure why the FCC is cracking down on pirate stations, first Knoxville First Amendment Radio, now this long-running Santa Cruz station.

Howard Stern on Satellite Radio- Sirius Satellite Radio is the smaller of the two major satellite radio companies in the US. As a means of competing with rival XM, Sirius has signed a deal with popular morning talk host/shock jock Howard Stern. The terms of the deal are outrageous: $500 million for five years. Analysts are saying that Sirius will have to add 1 million subscribers for each of those five years to pay for the Stern deal-- and Stern doesn't even start broadcasting with them till 2006. Frankly, I have to predict that this plan will not be successful, and that in the next few years that XM and Sirius will merge, with XM ascendant.*

Fake Blogs, True Buzz- nothing that new here, advertisers creating fake blogs as a sneaky way to build hype for products. Just another example of advertisers attempts to ruin all that is good in the universe.

Reporter for Times Is Facing Jail Time- NYT reporter Judy Miller is in jail due to contempt of court charges, for refusing to name her sources in the Valerie Plame/CIA leak investigation. Miller is best known for being a pawn of Achmed Chalabi, publishing his lies about Iraq's WMDs with little skepticism.

Posted by Jake at 12:23 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
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