Lying Media Bastards: News Archive

December 02, 2004

Burn Baby Burn

While many of us try to be calm, rational individuals, occasionally you run into people so maliciously stupid that you want to whack them with a fucking shovel.

Like this guy, for instance.

An Alabama lawmaker who sought to ban gay marriages now wants to ban novels with gay characters from public libraries, including university libraries.

A bill by Rep. Gerald Allen, R-Cottondale, would prohibit the use of public funds for "the purchase of textbooks or library materials that recognize or promote homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle." Allen said he filed the bill to protect children from the "homosexual agenda."

"Our culture, how we know it today, is under attack from every angle," Allen said in a press conference Tuesday.

Allen said that if his bill passes, novels with gay protagonists and college textbooks that suggest homosexuality is natural would have to be removed from library shelves and destroyed.

Let's say I write a book about a talking dog.

Is my book promoting talking dogs?

Is my book suggesting that it's natural for dogs to talk?

Idiot redneck lunatic.

He does make one good point, though, when he says his culture is under attack. He's right. To the extent that his culture is sexist and racist and homophobic and harmful to other people, yes, I want to fight it and destroy it and remove it from the face of the Earth.

Posted by Jake at 12:19 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

December 01, 2004

Le News

Guinea Pig Kids- !!! 1984 meets Charles Dickens. According to this article, New York City's Administration of Children's Services is forcing parents of HIV-positive children to give their children toxic, experimental AIDS drugs. If the parents refuse, the ACS apparently has the power to take custody of this children, who they then take to Incarceration Children's Center in Harlem, and then start the experimentation. Sounds so outlandish that I'd figure it was just anohter conspiracy theory-- if the source weren't the BBC.

The Great Indecency Hoax- y'know how conservatives now act like the Religious Right is the new sherrif in town because of that exit poll which claimed that 22% of voters made their presidential choice because of "moral issues"? Well, according to this article (which cites The Economist magazine, although I can't find the details) this number actually represents a huge drop from the 35% who say they voted based on morals in 2000, and the 40% in 1996. I don't trust polls, but this should be shoved in the face of anyone trying to push the "the Christian Right is back!" idea

Nationwide Strike Cripples Italy- "Millions of Italian workers are taking part in a one-day general strike against the economic policies of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi." I wonder what happens the next day?

Lockheed and the Future of Warfare- the vast interconnections between the Lockheed corporation and the US government, with the eerie quote, "The fox isn't guarding the henhouse. He lives there."

Shopping protesters arrested for 'nothing'- this story really pisses me off. Three people went to their local shopping mall on Black Friday (by the way, when did this term become so widespread? The media was using it like it'd been de facto for decades) for a goofy anti-consumerism protest in which they pretended to be promoting a new product called "Nothing." Kinda clever, kinda funny. Till the security guards kicked them out for violating the mall's soliciting policy. "Soliciting" usually refers to hyping or attempting to sell a product, which these folks were not doing. The mall decided to go with the irritating-as-fuck, knock-knock joke logic that these protesters were too soliciting-- they were soliciting "a response."

So then the mall threatened to call the cops and kicked the protesters out. On the way to their car, the police showed up, claimed the protesters were trespassing and arrested them.

You can read a first-hand account of the madness here.

Buy Something!- interesting critique of the annual "Buy Nothing Day" protest.

Dolphins Protect New Zealand Swimmers from Shark- not political, just a reminder that dolphins rule.

2004 Elections- more reflections on the election by Noam Chomsky. His most interesting point is that the election would have looked amazingly different if either of the candidates had actually dealt with the issues most important to Americans. He then cites some national attitude surveys which claim that the majority of Americans have "Blue" stances on the "Blue" issues, and that those issues are the ones most important to them.

Rocket Fuel in Milk, Lettuce- can someone explain to me how fucking rocket fuel is getting in my food? It's not like rockets are criss-crossing the nation, there are just a few that go up every year. Still, there it is.

Ukraine's postmodern coup d'etat- I haven't been keeping close tabs on the Ukrainian election and fallout, but this article claims that the issue isn't as easy as "bad candidate steals votes from good candidate."

Bhopal a reminder of boardroom bullies- on its 20th anniversary, let's take a minute to remember Union Carbide's atrocity in Bhopal India. An explosion at a shoddy chemical factory killed 20,000 people, and has left the land and its people a legacy of poison and pain. Union Carbide paid the Indian government $470 million, which when trickled down to the survivors, amounted to $300-$500 a person. The company and its CEO were charged with murder in India, but they refuse to face an Indian court. More info at Bhopal.net.

This Time Last Year- another live report from Iraq by journalist Dahr Jamail.

'They hate our policies, not our freedom'- the Pentagon hid this report (.pdf) by the Defense Science Board (which is supposed to advise the Secretary of Defense), finally acknowleding its contents the afternoon of the day before Thanksgiving (effectively burying it). As one might guess, the contents are highly critical of the administration, its efforts, and its rhetoric.

Al-Qaeda a Paper Tiger?- a number of news sources are now claiming that Al-Qaeda is, and always has been, a tiny organization that does not pose half the threat that we all think it does.

Posted by Jake at 11:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

November 24, 2004

Mighty Thanksgiving Rerun

Wow, I is smart. Found this old post I made two years ago, and it's still good stuff. So I repost it, and everyone is happy.

Turkey Jive

I saw my fair share of anti-Thanksgiving articles this year, the standard "you are celebrating the genocide of the Indians" pieces. On one hand, they are correct, and it is probably a good idea to get up in the faces of white Americans on a regular basis to remind them (or teach them for the first time) about the aspects of their history that they tend to forget.

But on the other hand, the anti-Thanksgiving pieces tend to knowingly pretend that anyone who celebrates Thanksgiving actually does so because of their great affection for or gratitude towards the pilgrim colonists of the 1600s. Thanksgiving is more or less a forced annual family reunion, filled with poultry-centric gluttony and football games, officially marking the start of the dark consumer frenzy known as "the holiday season." I think that the anti-Thanksgiving writers know full well that to most Americans, the holiday has nothing to do with pilgrims and Indians. So when they lean on the "official" meaning of the holiday to make their point, I feel they are being slightly deceptive.

Anyhow, I found one good critical Thanksgiving piece that doesn't fall into that trap. It focuses on the history of Thanksgiving-- not the 1621 New England feast, but looks at how the holiday was or wasn't celebrated from that day till the present.

1621- "The First Thanksgiving"
November 1777- The Continental Congress declares a day of Thanksgiving to thank God for an American military victory over a powerful British general.
July 1861- Confederate Congress declares a day of Thanksgiving to thank God for their victory over the Union in the First Battle of Bull Run
April 1862- President Lincoln declares day of Thanksgiving to thank God for the Union victory over the Confederacy at Shiloh
September 1862- Confederate Congress declares a day of Thanksgiving to thank God for their victory over the Union in the Second Battle of Bull Run
August 1863- President Lincoln declares day of Thanksgiving to thank God for the Union victory over the Confederacy at Gettysburg
(see a pattern developing here?)
December 1865- President Andrew Johnson establishes a national Thanksgiving holiday to celebrate the Union victory in the Civil War
October 1931- President Hoover becomes the first president to actually make a rhetorical connection between the national holiday of Thanksgiving and the pilgrims

Maybe I'm just a history geek, but I find that fascinating. What we have come to think of as a centuries-old tradition honoring the roots of American society, was more often a series of quasi-religious celebrations to say with joy "our enemies are dead, but we are not! Thanks, God!" The "roots" aspects were inserted centuries later, and by now have largely been replaced by a more New Age "what should I be thankful for in my life" philosophy coupled with shopping and nostalgia poisoning.

I think the important lesson in there is about the evolution of meaning. Stories change, ideas mutate, "ancient" tradition dies and is reborn in unrecognizable new forms.

Posted by Jake at 01:23 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Lots and Lots of Stuff

Before I leave you for Thanksgiving (and I probably won't, I'm writing obsessed), here are a whole mess o' news links to look into.

Economic `Armageddon' predicted- so says the chief economist of Morgan Stanley. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that that sounds bad.

Some election comments...- didn't see this till today, but here are Noam Chomsky's thoughts on the recent election. His key point, "there is overwhelming evidence that the opinions of the majority of the population on major issues were simply off the agenda, either within the political parties or in mainstream discussion."

The Revolutionary- very long article by foreign policy analyst Walter Rusell Mead, in which he ponders Dick Cheney. Mead sees Cheney as the key architect of the Bush administration's policies, so he tries to figure out what goes on in Cheney's head, by talking to Cheney's fellow junta members, and to the Dark Cyborg himself. What is creepiest to me is that everyone tells Mead not to ask Cheney about his worldview, because he doesn't like talking about that. One of the most powerful players on the international stage, who regularly meddles in the affairs of people in dozens of countries won't talk about his basic assumptions about how he sees the world? That's kinda eerie.

Is Noam Chomsky A Senior Bush Administration Official?- Jonathan Schwarz looks at the article above and interprets a quote from a "senior administration official" about why the US invaded Iraq. If this source can be trusted (and I'm not sure he can), we invaded Iraq 1) to teach other world leaders that you cannot defy the US and get away with it, and 2) because if we took out Saddam Hussein, we could remove US troops from Saudi Arabia, and the Muslim world would no longer be mad at us. Ha. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Intelligence on their designs- David Neiwert's musing about the political maneuvering of Creationists leads into a broader look at conservative ideological battle strategy-- predominantly, a propaganda technique called "card stacking." When trying to discern the truth, if you hear a bunch of people from one side say something, and a bunch of people on the other side say the opposite, then you'll probably assume that reality lies someplace in the middle, based on the assumption that these two groups represent equally popular opinions. Therefore, if you wanted to promote an unpopular opinion, it would make sense for you to try to send out as many spokespeople for your opinion as do the popular opinion folks, to invoke card-stacking-thinking among the populace.

The effect of this technique is greatly magnified by American news media's practice of faux objectivity.

Dan Rather Stepping Down- don't let the door hit you on the way out, jackass. Rather's not leaving till March, but now's a good time to link to this song by the Evolution Control Committee, which takes dozens of bizarre Dan Rather quotes and sets them to a jerky remix of AC/DC's Back in Black. CBS threatened to sue ECC over the piece.

More Proof that the Phone Company is Evil- apparently, a number of cities across the US are pondering the creation of city-wide wireless internet networks, accessible to anyone. Verizon is trying to make this illegal in the state of Pennsylvania, because if the people in that state have a free, useful service provided to them via their tax dollars, then Verizon can't charge you $40 a month for it. Fuck you, Verizon.

A Close-Up Look at Undecided Voters- mainly a long quote from a New Republic article. But since you need to register to read the NR version, you get this version instead. These are the reflections by a Kerry supporter who tried to convince undecideds to vote for Kerry. He comes up with some theories about the minds of these undecided voters that are worth thinking about.

Intimidation by Israeli-Linked Organization Aimed at US Academic - a Middle Eastern research outfit is threatening to sue blogger and Middle East scholar Juan Cole, essentially for calling them a pro-Israel organization. It seems destined to become a footnote in "The History of Bad PR Moves".

Limbaugh on NBA fight: "This is the hip-hop culture on parade"- "what I just said is going to be tagged as racist" says Rush Limbaugh of his latest comments, much the way that the words I've just typed are going to be tagged as English. Somehow, Rush tries to argue that the recent incident where a black basketball player attacked a white basketball fan who'd thrown a cup of beer at him, was a thuggish move by the player, and therefore is indicative of hip-hop itself. If he were as "fearless" as he claims he is, Rush would straight up say what he means to say: "white culture is superior to black culture, because white people are superior to black people." Pill-popping cracka.

I do, however, like how Limbaugh points out that NBA uniforms have changed so that they are now in "gang colors". Yes, those specialized gang colors, like "red" and "blue."

Jonathan Schwarz argues that Limbaugh is simply projecting.

Posted by Jake at 01:19 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

4000 Words

BAGnewsNotes brings us a series of photo funnies that I will politely link to rather than steal:

- iconic picture of Bush at the APEC summit

- behind the scenes with Condi (check her feet)

- 2 insane pics of America's brave horse-torturers/centurions (read the caption)

[edit]

Okay, are fucking cartoon devil pitchforks standard issue in today's military? What the fuck is going on?

[/edit]

Posted by Jake at 12:18 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 21, 2004

Hate Supplement

Ugh. AMERICAblog reports that Friday's print edition of the Washington Post contained a "magazine ad supplement" that was essentially one long attempt to encourage homophobia among African-Americans.

"BothSides Magazine" poses as a new publication about religious issues, and this particular issue just happens to be about the controversial social issue of gay marriage. Honestly, it looks primarily to be a self-promotional tool for Dr. Derek Grier, the editor (and pastor of the magazine's publisher, Grace Christian Church). Can't help but notice Grier's photo all over this thing, and goodness gracious, it also happens to mention that he has a new book available!

It starts off by trying to make it look like gays' demands for their own "civil rights" is a gross insult to the suffering and struggles of African-Americans in their own long fight for freedom and equality. Then it goes on to repeat tired (and often erroneous) arguments against homosexuality and gay marriage from religious and scientific "experts" (fanatics James Dobson and Paul Cameron).

I could tear this thing apart, showing every little lie and manipulation, but why bother? Their goal and message is transparent.

Obviously, the Grace Christian Church has every right to write and print their nonsense. And they have every right to try to get other publications to distribute their nonsense. But for fuck's sake, an allegedly objective newspaper of record like the Washington Post agreeing to include this shit?

You can read the magazine yourself via links here (most in pdf format), and AMERICAblog (which has been all over this story) also recommends contacting the ombudsman at the WP to tell them what you think about all this:

Mike Getler
ombudsman@washpost.com
(202) 334-7582

Posted by Jake at 02:45 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

November 20, 2004

Crack Is Whack, Boobs Are For Boobs

You've probably seen this one all over the blogosphere already, mainly because we greatly enjoying mocking things that are really, really stupid.

Internet Porn: Worse than Crack?

Our brave Senate gazed into the abyss this week, learning about grave dangers our nation faces from digitized pictures of naked people.

Two of the "experts" quoted in the article claim that "the internet is a perfect drug delivery system", because it causes masturbation, which causes the body to release "naturally occuring opioids", "the most perfect addictive substance." But this is incorrect. The internet is not releasing these drugs, the person's body is. Therefore the human body is the perfect drug delivery system, and must be stopped.

One "expert" labelled these opioids "erototoxins," which is fucking hilarious. Reminds me of a Yippie hoax back in the 60s, when the radical jokesters held a press conference to announce that they'd created a special mix of LSD and ecstasy that could instantly force people to have sex, and planned to spray policemen with it at protests.

But my favorite part of the article was when these anti-porn researchers were asked "what should be done to save us from this voyeurstic scourge?"

The responses were mild, considering their earlier indictment of pornography. Several suggested that federal money be allocated to fund brain-mapping studies into the physical effects of pornography.

Yes, after getting all fire and brimstone on internet porn's ass for hours, the experts didn't call for a ban on porn or internet filters or a tax or governmental regulation. They just quietly said "could we have some more money, please?" And I'm sure that the moralistic Senators making political hay out of this issue will be happy to oblige.

Gotta love symbiosis.

Posted by Jake at 08:25 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Countless

Feministing.com has discovered a tiny, two-sentence press release which announces that as of 2005, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics will no longer gather data on female workers. This makes it impossible to use those stats to find patterns of gender discrimination across the country. But that's just fine, because sexism in the workplace was completely eliminated in the If We Can't See It, It's Not There Act of 2003.

Why are they eliminating this data-gathering? "To reduce respondent burden." Yes, it's been terribly stressful on today's modern employer to tally up how many men and women they have on staff.

Posted by Jake at 07:54 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Mega Mash-Ups

Earlier this year, DJ Dangermouse cleverly mixed together the music from The Beatles' "White Album" and Jay-Z's far more recent "The Black Album", to create "The Grey Album."

Now, an anonymous person (going by the moniker "R + P", I think) has created a music video for the Grey song "Encore", mixing together video footage of The Beatles and Jay-Z. It's fun, and the multiple layers of copyright infringement thrill me.

Posted by Jake at 07:26 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

November 19, 2004

Return of the Wingnuts

Back in the late 90s, I wrote an internet newsletter called "NewsWatch", which was a combo of media criticism, neglected news, and background of current events. Over time, I started receiving regular email from plenty of bright, informed people, but from eccentric, nutty, scary people as well. Often, the scary people wanted you to help them spread "the truth" about how Bill Clinton was a spy for Red China, or how we all needed to inject ourselves with some silver-derived chemical to protect us from the terrorist gas attack that would hit in 1998. Once I stopped writing the newsletter (and changed email addresses several times), these letters dropped off.

But I must be returning to form, because these letters are beginning to trickle in again. Nothing quite as loony yet, but I'm surely on my way.

So far, they've mainly been:

- "the election was obviously stolen"
- "Bush was behind 9/11, why won't you believe meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee?"
-"here's my daily letter to the editor of some random newspaper that I've cc'd you and 300 other 'members of the media' on"
- "my impromptu quasi-newsletter email that you didn't subscribe to"
- "I don't know you, but I thought I'd send you humorous political email that you've already seen four times and that isn't actually humorous"

Nearly all of these have a liberalish slant to them, but my favorite so far was from a right-wing source, who obviously didn't bother checking me out before adding me to their cc list.

From: Columbia Christians for Life Subject: Town Council continues fight to pray in Jesus Christ's Name in Great Falls, SC

Town Council continues fight to pray in Jesus Christ's Name in Great Falls, South Carolina

A Wiccan high priestess (witch) filed a federal lawsuit against the town of Great Falls, SC for saying the Name of Jesus Christ in prayers before town council meetings. To date, the witch has prevailed at the U.S. District Court and 4th Circuit Court of Appeals levels, and the town council has ceased praying in the Name of Jesus Christ.

However, at Monday (11/15) night's meeting, the Great Falls Town Council voted 6 to 1 to continue the fight, and appeal to the United States Supreme Court.

This case is similar to the unconstitutional removal of Alabama State Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore in that it involves the tyranny of federal court rulings against the acknowledgement of God in the public square. It therefore marks another step in the direction of wiping out any public references or displays of Christianity in America.

The First Amendment states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;..." Congress has not made any law law establishing a religion, but the U.S. District Court and the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals are, unconstitutionally, in violation of the clear language of the First Amendment, "prohibiting the free exercise thereof" by the men of the Great Falls Town Council. The town council has not made any law establishing any religion, but they are, unconstitutionally, being prohibited by federal court tyranny, from the free exercise of religion. This is raw judicial tyranny, and should be opposed by Christians around the country as an attack on Christianity in America.

November 17, 2004
Steve Lefemine, pro-life missionary
dir., Columbia Christians for Life
CCL lobbyist
Columbia, SC

This was then followed by the text of a news article about said "raw judicial tyranny" from a local newspaper, and then, disturbingly, information about the "Constitution Restoration Act". This is an actual bill in the House of Representatives right now (HR 3799), part of which would prevent the Supreme Court from examining lower court rulings where the judge's decision was based upon religion instead of law (if the judge felt that "God [is] the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government"). That'll stop them thar activist judges. Or something.

Their letter doesn't mention when they intend to burn the witch, but I presume they'll do it in time for Baby Jesus' birthday.

Actually, I didn't notice the stuff about the Constitution Restoration Act stuff in the email till I sat down to write this. Now my pithy email reply asking if Jesus would rather spend his time on city council prayer or on aiding the sick and hungry seems... inadequate. Although if I'd written back with a scathing retort, he/they would probably get off on it.

Although the letter's lunacy is both legion and obvious, I feel like yelling about a few items:

- Rudy Moore built a shrine to the Ten Commandments and installed it on city property in the middle of the night without asking anybody. It has nothing to do with "public acknowledgement of God", you fucking pricks. If someone installed a statue of a golden calf in the courthouse, it would get the same treatment.

- "Public" and "governmental" are not the same thing. If the city council wants to go to the city park and scream about how much they love Jesus, they're free to do so. When they want to put it in their council meetings, it sorta comes across like the government endorses one particular religion over others...

- I understand that many conservative Christians believe that the First Amendment is supposed to be about keeping government out of your church. But many of the rest of us believe that the First Amendment is about keeping your church (well, all churches) out of our government. See how it goes both ways? See?

I was about to say something about this author being an idiot, but he's not. His signature says he's a lobbyist, so he's most likely very aware of what he's saying, how it does and doesn't work, and he is not as concerned with logic or truth as he is with results.

What is with the paranoia of American Christians? Nearly 80% of the country claims to be Christian, yet they talk like they're a despised minority, having to worship in the shadows for fear of their very lives. Yes, they used to throw Christians to the lions-- like 1900 years ago. Today's Christians now safely work in our nation's zoos and circuses, and churches are plentiful on our nations streets. The President is Christian, his recent opponent was Christian, the conservative Christian party holds both houses of Congress and much of the Supreme Court, and a non-Christian can probably never be elected to major office in the United States.

How can this country be oppressing Christians, Christians are the country, you crazy bastards!

Yeah, that's overly broad. A high percentage of American Christians are not part of this conservative faction. And I imagine that many of this conservative faction would argue that many Americans who call themselves Christians "aren't really Christians." But I think you see my point.

I've got a theory on this ("Jake, with a theory? Never!"). I believe that these conservative Christians have, as part of their theology, a focus on evil. All acts of evil or moral degeneracy are caused by the devil. At all times, the devil is working to weaken you, to tempt you, to make you turn away from Jesus and the Church. This point of view is, of course, paranoid. Perhaps it's simple to go from "the devil is out to get me" to "they're all out to get me."

One of the most interesting theories I've seen on conservative American Christianity today came from journalist and biting funnyman Matt Taibbi. In a recent article in Rolling Stone, he went undercover as a volunteer for the Bush campaign, and after dealing with many a conservative Christian, dished up this little tidbit:

The problem not only with fundamentalist Christians but with Republicans in general is not that they act on blind faith, without thinking. The problem is that they are incorrigible doubters with an insatiable appetite for Evidence. What they get off on is not Believing, but in having their beliefs tested. That's why their conversations and their media are so completely dominated by implacable bogeymen: marrying gays, liberals, the ACLU, Sean Penn, Europeans and so on. Their faith both in God and in their political convictions is too weak to survive without an unceasing string of real and imaginary confrontations with those people -- and for those confrontations, they are constantly assembling evidence and facts to make their case.

But here's the twist. They are not looking for facts with which to defeat opponents. They are looking for facts that ensure them an ever-expanding roster of opponents. They can be correct facts, incorrect facts, irrelevant facts, it doesn't matter. The point is not to win the argument, the point is to make sure the argument never stops. Permanent war isn't a policy imposed from above; it's an emotional imperative that rises from the bottom. In a way, it actually helps if the fact is dubious or untrue (like the Swift-boat business), because that guarantees an argument. You're arguing the particulars, where you're right, while they're arguing the underlying generalities, where they are.

Once you grasp this fact, you're a long way to understanding what the Hannitys and Limbaughs figured out long ago: These people will swallow anything you feed them, so long as it leaves them with a demon to wrestle with in their dreams.

I don't know if he's right or wrong, but it's a fascinating idea: conservative Christians' faith is actually very weak, and needs to be constantly strengthened by exposure to "enemies".

I'm thinking a lot about religion these days. I was pretty much raised agnostic. Near as I can figure, the issue of a bi-religious child was as big a concern to suburban parents in the 70s as having a biracial child is today. To avoid "making me choose" between my Jewish mother and lapsed Protestant father, there was no sort of worship in the house, no talk of gods or creation, and a rather secular celebration of Christmas, Easter and Hanukkah. About my only knowledge of religion came from an illustrated kids' bible at the doctor's office, a few weeks at a Jewish Sunday school, cartoons where Tom and Jerry went to Heaven or Hell, and two years at a Catholic school.

If that last one sounds weird, that's because it is. Long story short, my parents bought into the Montessori teaching philosophy (which probably helped make me the curious, insatiable learner I am today), and once I'd finished up at a local Montessori kindergarten, the only other nearby Montessori school was a Catholic school. At a Mission, no less. 200 years after educating the local Indians into early graves, young Jake went to learn his grammar and multiplication tables at Mission San Luis Rey.

Religion class was on Wednesday afternoons, and my Mom would take me out of school early on those days. But weird religious bits did drift in just the same. I remember Sister Judy taught us that the moon was a star and that the Sun was a burning planet. And one time she lectured us because "someone had smashed a germ on the wall of the girl's bathroom."

Now that I think about it, maybe that had nothing to do with religion, and Sister Judy was just a crazy person.

Anyhow.

Due to this upbringing, religion is strange, scary, kinda quaint and kinda stupid in my eyes. I pretty much see myself as a capital 's' Skeptic. It's hard for me to buy into anything without some decent evidence or logical deductions. I'm not an atheist because just as there's no proof of the existence of a god, there's also no proof of the absence of a god either (although our philosophy major friends say that you can't prove an absence, so...). I understand faith, I understand the idea of being raised to believe a certain thing and accepting it as a given, and I understand that assuming that the universe was "created" is in some ways the flip side of assuming that it didn't need to be "created."

But apart from that, I don't understand religion. The idea of believing the Bible to be true because the Bible tells you it's true simply baffles me. And the idea that your specific interpretation of a religious text is the only possible interpretation of that text, well, that just makes me wanna claw my fucking eyes out.

I guess I have two parallel visions of religion that I carry with me, one occasionally overtaking the other. On the one hand, I don't pretend to understand how the universe works. Therefore anybody's religion could be right, and I'm completely fine with anyone believing in any of them. On the other hand, I believe that one of the only life courses that makes sense is to wait for evidence to believe in anything. Which makes me think that anyone who is religious is being silly. I admit, sometimes this makes me feel superior to religious people. But I imagine they sometimes feel superior to me, thinking that I'm stupid for failing to see how obvious it is that Jesus Christ is our lord and savior and whatnot. So I guess we're even. Maybe.

But today, we're either seeing the return of the Christian Right as a political force (or, believing the hype, the Christian Right is seeking to flex their increased political muscle. Or, the media, believing the hype, is spending more time covering the actions of the Christian Right, making it seem as though they have returned as a political force. So hard to tell these days). And they do not, as I have, a tolerant, "let them do what they want, it doesn't bother me" attitude towards folks who's beliefs are different. Not only are they certain that their worldview is the right one (unlike myself, always doubting, and wondering even if there is a single correct view), they are taking action to change the laws of the land so that their worldview is imposed upon everyone.

Which, sadly, makes the Christian Right my enemy. Not because of their beliefs-- which in my eyes, are nutty-- but because of their actions. Their actions are hurting people, and will hurt even more people if they are not opposed.

But I've also got to wonder if that's enough. Okay, we've identified a group with blatant, obvious, concretely harmful goals. But there are plenty of folks who's religious beliefs aren't as deranged as those we'd call "the Christian Right", but are harmful just the same. General views like "gays are bad" and "women should be subservient to men" and "sex is wrong" and "you are better than people from other religions", are held by otherwise sane people, and they have effects and they cause damage.

And at their core, many of the world's religions are about obedience to authorities and to rules that are imposed from without. Does that mean that I should be opposed to most of the world's religions?

Yeah, I guess it does.

That's always been my favorite anarchist slogan, "No Gods, No Masters."

Posted by Jake at 08:24 AM | Comments (15) | TrackBack (0)

Grrr

I had been looking forward to today. I'd been planning on taking the day off, having taken care of a week's worth of part-time duties. I got to bed earlier last night than I have in weeks, so would wake up feeling more refreshed than usual. And I'd spend the day relaxing and lounging, maybe having a pleasant meal and taking in a flick. It'd be the sort of day where I'd spend the morning leisurely reading the paper while sipping iced tea on the veranda, if I subscribed to a newspaper, drank iced tea, or knew what a veranda was.

Instead, I woke up at 5am with a massively sore throat and couldn't get back to sleep. So I'm probably taking the day off anyway, but I'll spend it sick, tired, grouchy, and constantly pouring hot tea down my neck to keep my throat soothed.

Well, maybe it'll be okay; when you're sick, you usually feel worst right when you wake up.

Grrrr.

Posted by Jake at 07:38 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

November 17, 2004

Et Tu, TiVo?

I wonder if successful companies will ever learn that if you change your product so that it sucks, people will abandon it?

Like TiVo, for example.

TiVo was a clever product that recorded TV shows to a hard drive rather than individual videocassettes. It had a computer inside that let you tell it what shows you liked, so it would find them and record them automatically. It even would try to extrapolate what other shows you might like and record those too, just in case. And, of course, you could skip through the commericals with ease.

Until now, that is.

As one might guess, TV broadcasters were pretty pissed off that there was this device that let people watch their shows but skip their ads. That's the whole point of TV, to sucker people into watching advertisements.

But TiVo has now removed its ad-skip techonolgy and replaced it with "skip the TV commercial but watch an ad from TiVo while you're waiting." In other words, TiVo has crippled one of its own key selling points.

This pisses me off. More and more, media companies are trying to control the technological devices that you and I purchase, limited their usefulness to increase their profits. Luckily, there are usually ways around these limits, if you care to look.

As if that wasn't enough, all your interaction with TiVo-- the programs you record, the programs you watch, what you stop to rewind and watch again-- is recorded sent back to TiVo headquarters to be sold to advertisers as marketing data.

I hope people leave TiVo in droves.

I'm not too familiar with it, but a non-/less evil alternative to TiVo might be Moxi, which appears to do all the stuff that TiVo does, plus more, plus is Open Source.

Posted by Jake at 06:27 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Well Said

The National Field Director and deputy political director for the Republican National Committee Daniel Gurley solicited unprotected sex and multiple sex partners in an online profile at Gay.com, in seeming contradiction with the Party’s call for abstinence and positions on gay issues.

There's nothing wrong with promiscuous gay sex, and it's understandable for gays to want to stay in the closet in this homophobic world of ours. But if you hide your sexuality in order to get a job where you try to repress others' sexuality, well, it's open season.

I just posted this because I loved this part of the article:

His public profile [at Gay.com] states that he is seeking "action/sex," is in an "open relationship" and that his partner and himself "enjoy playing together when we can." His private adult profile is more direct, soliciting unsafe sex and detailing more personal information.

Asked if he remembered soliciting unprotected sex, Gurley said, "I don’t remember specifics."

No, I don't suppose he would.

Posted by Jake at 11:13 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

November 16, 2004

Up Close and Personal

Iraq Uncensored

"For months on end, these seven independent photographers and filmmakers have worked exclusively in Iraq documenting US troops and Iraqi civilians, resistance fighters and child laborers, imprisoned women and incarcerated youths. Using varied media and narrative styles ranging from photojournalism to first person narratives, cinema verite and found photography, Iraq Uncensored photographers present insights and subtleties beyond what daily news reporting can provide."

See their photos at the link above.

Posted by Jake at 06:50 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Schisms

David Neiwert is one of the first folks online I've seen to correctly identify the idelogical voter split in this country (urban vs. rural, not red states vs. blue states) and also come up with some ideas of what to do about it.

I think David is asking the right questions: why do rural folks dislike liberals? How can we change the Democratic party so that its policies include the needs of rural people? This is good, democratic (small "d"), egalitarian thinking.

Unfortunately, I don't think that's the popular set of questions at the moment. I think most liberals are instead asking: why won't those stupid rednecks vote for us? Don't they know we're doing what's best for them? What miniscule, symbolic steps can we take to trick them into voting for us?

I'm being a little harsh, but I think my central cynicism is accurate. Most of the post-election liberal musings I've seen have everything to do with message-craft and vision and strategy, and zero to do with finding out what voters want and giving it to them, let alone actually working with these folks as equals and collaborators.

Posted by Jake at 12:01 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)

November 15, 2004

Fun With Headlines

Vice President Has Nothing More Than Cold- yeah, I know, given Cheney's heart problems, pointing out that the illness he has is not life-threatening is valid. But if we play dumb just a tiny bit, that headline is hilarious.

Trouble spots dot Iraqi landscape- when we look inside, we learn that "trouble" means "blowing up bridges", "executing police chiefs", "burning people alive", and "setting the governor's house on fire." I'd hate to see what a "dangerous" looks like.

Posted by Jake at 01:35 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tactics

Y'know, if I were an Iraqi insurgent holed up in Falljua (and I'm not), and I heard several weeks in advance that the US was sending a large force to take over the city, I think I'd say to my boys "hey, let's leave the city, let the Americans take it, and then snipe at them from the edges of the city for months, guerrilla style."

I don't have enough military knowledge to fill a thimble, but that just seems like common sense to me. The main power of a guerrilla army is that it doesn't sit there and present itself as a nice fat target the way a regular army does; it can move and split up and hide pretty easily, making any attack upon them difficult and complicated. I think that anyone running a guerrilla army would react this way to this particular US threat. And anyone with half a brain who was running a conventional army would realize this, and not go through with this Falluja-style invasion.

But what do I know?

Posted by Jake at 12:17 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)

Fine Cuisine

For the past year or so, I've been somewhat addicted to Mongolian barbecue. It's nothing fancy, just a kind of buffet-style stir-fry restaurant, primarily meat, vegetables and noodles, which is then cooked on a big open grill. The versions I've had are probably as authentic as calling an old car tire "hamburger", but I find it tasty.

I'd like to cook this stuff for myself at home, but I don't know what spices or seasonings to use to get the taste right. My impression is that Mongolian barbecue is largely flavored with soy sauce, garlic, red chili flakes, and oyster sauce, but I know there's some other stuff in there as well.

So to potentially solve this mystery, I thought I'd post one of those "hey, can anyone in the audience help me out here?" blog entries. So if anyone has any culinary knowledge to share, please drop me a line or leave a comment here. Gracias.

Posted by Jake at 12:07 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)

November 14, 2004

Moral Mandate Myth

By now, it has become common "knowledge" that George W. Bush won the election because Christian fundamentalists came out in droves to vote for the president. However this is not fact, it's an interpretation of data, and a fairly inaccurate one at that.

This myth comes from exit polls in which 22% of respondents said that "moral values" were the "most important issue". It's fairly telling that the media has decided that "moral values" means "fundamentalist Christian."

But even more to the point, political scientist Phillip Klinker has analyzed the exit poll data from 2000 and 2004, and has found no signifiant increase in the turnout of religious voters. Bush got roughly the same percentage of votes from religious voters in 2004 as he did in 2000.

So where was the increase?

Rich people.

Which makes plenty of sense. Maybe some rich folks voted for Bush in 2000, figuring he'd serve their interests better than Gore. But after 4 years, Bush truly proved himself, so it seems many more rich folks turned out for that reason.

Unfortunately, everyone is running with the "rise of the Fundamentalists" myth. Either fundamentalists are believing the hype, or the media is suddenly deciding to cover them more, but these conservative Christians are trying to exert their influence on Bush since Nov 2:

- some pro-life folks are complaining that Bush's choice for new attorney general isn't conservative enough.

- at the same time, the Christian Coalition is praising Bush's attorney general selection.

- and now, conservative Christians are attacking Bush for letting Dick Cheney's daughter "flaunt her homosexuality"... whatever that means.

I feel like it's the 80s all over again, with an all new Moral Majority. And once again, they're going to try to save us from the "oppression" of the liberals by forcing their version of morality on everyone else.

Posted by Jake at 12:27 AM | Comments (13) | TrackBack (0)

November 13, 2004

Housekeeping

- Some of you have started noticing the "comment spam." People create software that automatically posts ads in any and all available comment sections of blogs. I use a plug-in that prevents most of it (MT-Blacklist, I highly recommend it if you have Moveable Type-based blog), but some ads get through. To give you an idea of how bad the problem is, MT-B blocked over 300 spam comments TODAY. And it's only about 4pm by me. About 5-10 got through and I had to delete them by hand and add them to the prohibido list.

If it got worse, I would try to institute a comments system like the one they have at pandadon.net, where there's one extra entry blank where you have to enter a randomly-generated string of numbers that appears in each comment window.

But yeah, it's fucking infuriating. I put a lot of work into this blog as a public service, and destructive anonymous motherfuckers want to turn it into a wasteland of viagra and online casino ads.

Even worse, Tiny Revolution points out the most irritating new trend in blog spam: comment spam that advertises websites that don't even work!

- Some of you saw the alternate George Bush LMB logo I had up last week. I mostly stole that from this poster from the Obey-Giant guy. And some months before that, I also put up a temporary new logo based on the cult sci-fi movie They Live. It's just kinda fun to switch things up a bit without warning. If anyone would like to create some more fun alternate LMB logos, feel free to send em my way.

- Would anyone be interested in LMB t-shirts? I could make a silkscreen pretty easy and ink the logo (it'd have to be changed slightly to be one color) onto clothing.

Posted by Jake at 04:00 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

November 11, 2004

The First Rule of Craigs List...

This personal ad rules.

Posted by Jake at 11:12 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)

November 09, 2004

Cavalcade of News and Opinion

US ready to put weapons in space- it is generally accepted among many lefties that the US plans for a space-based missile defense system is really just phase one of an effort to put weapons into outer space. Since the current missile defense systems don't actually work, this seems a pretty reasonable theory.

Unrest Sharply Increasing Through Much Of China- you're not hearing much about this one. The Chinese Communist Party's magazine, which one might expect to be a wee bit biased, has admitted that in 2003 there were an average of 160 "major incidents of civil unrest" every day in the rural parts of the country. And they seem to be on the rise.

Protestors Put Iraq Privatisation on Trial - Naomi Klein to Give Evidence- interesting one. Back in April, two British activists interrupted the "Iraq Procurement Conference," unfurling anti-war banners and lectured the audience about atrocities in Iraq. They were arrested for "aggravated trespass" and intending to disrupt a "lawful activity." The activists are using an unusual defense:

The defence will argue that the meeting was not a lawful event as it was facilitating acts in breach of the Iraq constitution - illegal under the Hague Regulations of 1907 and Geneva Conventions 1949. Britain and the US are signatories to both the Hague Regulations and Geneva Conventions.

As I understand it, if the Conference was illegal, then the activists can go free.

Everything's Not Zen- an article about the corporatization of yoga. You heard me. Yoga.

Republican Election Theft Clearinghouse- pretty much what the headline says. A growing list of links to news articles about suspicious voting events. Maybe they're true, maybe they're not.

Fuck the South- this person is angry. At the South. I love the passion and the humor. I don't agree with all the points, but some nice debunking of common conservative arguments.

Christian Conservatives Must Not Compromise- op-ed from a fervent Christian radio show host. Nice insight into how some Christian fundamentalists actually believe that liberals are Evil, determined to destroy civilization.

They voted for this mess- Daily Kos regular "mg_65" emailed this essay/letter to blogger Steve Gilliard, who then posted it on his site. It begins as a few sad stories about poor American women on the verge of poverty who chose to vote for Bush because of his "values" (or worse, one "because her pastor told her to vote for him"). The letter then morphs into an angry rant against conservatives--the stupid, the common, and the vicious--and the idea of making peace with them. The author argues that these conservatives aren't being tricked into voting against their interests, he claims that they would rather vote to hurt others than to help themselves. It's long and it's angry and it's rambling, but somehow I feel that it's worth reading.

Posted by Jake at 07:16 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Which Old Witch?

Wow. John Ashcroft, Attorney General and Grand Inquisitor, is resigning. I think that someone at the Associated Press must have a sense of humor, because they chose to pair their article on the subject with an old file photo of Ashcroft standing in front of the famed naked Spirit of Justice statue that Ashcroft had hidden away. So symbolic of... everything, really.

Part of Ashcroft's resignation letter that will be quoted derisively by all liberals everywhere:

"The objective of securing the safety of Americans from crime and terror has been achieved."

Somebody better tell Batman.

I'm not going to make much of that quote, because it has to be taken out of context. It just has to.

[edit]

Okay, I guess it wasn't.

[/edit]

But don't rejoice yet. While Ashcroft was an incompetent religious zealot, we don't know who will take his place. It's possible that the new guy could be just as bad, or worse.

Me, I'm hoping they replace him with the dead guy he lost his Senate seat to.

Posted by Jake at 05:19 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

November 08, 2004

From the 101st Armored Hatter Brigade

"The enemy has got a face. He's called Satan. He's in Fallujah and we're going to destroy him."

- Col. Gary Brandl, United States Marine Corps

[via A Tiny Revolution]

Posted by Jake at 02:20 AM | Comments (20) | TrackBack (1)

Last Election Post

So what the hell happened in this election? Let's break it down as best we can.

First of all, I want to point out the people who weren't allowed to vote. In many states, there are laws preventing ex-cons from voting. I have yet to heard a good explanation for this (aren't we always saying that someone who's gone to prison has "paid their debt to society"?), and it seems to have come out of the same sets of laws passed after the Civil War that were intended to prohibit African-Americans from voting (ah, voter suppression, as American as apple pie and cross-burning). Regardless of their intent, these laws do disproportionately deprive African-Americans of their voting rights: about 13% of African-American men can't vote, about 8% of all African-Americans can't vote. All told 4.7 million Americans can't vote because of these felony disenfranchisement laws.

Then we see another 40% of Americans who can legally vote but did not vote. I think this figure is extremely important to keep in mind, but most pundits aren't bothering to. They keep acting as though the results of the election accurately reflect the ideological mindset of the country. "51% of Americans support President Bush," they say. No they don't, jackass. You can only say with certainty that about 31% of Americans (who are eligible to vote) support President Bush (or possibly don't support him, but disliked John Kerry). Maybe 31% support him, maybe 71% support him. We don't know, because we know very little about the non-voting folks. So pundits, get your damn facts straight.

Now let's look at all this Red State/Blue State bullshit. It's become conventional wisdom that the country is geographically split by ideology, with "blue" Democratic coasts and a "red" Republican middle. You can understand why media folks want to hold on to this idea, it's very simple and appealing. And wrong, but hey, if everyone else is saying it, you're not going to get in trouble for saying the same thing, right?

Here's what I'm trying to say: check out the helpful maps here. Let's look at Texas. On the state map, it's solid red. When you look at the breakdown by county (scroll down, second map on the page), we see that a number of counties voted for John Kerry. And when we look at the voting percentages, we see that 38% of the voters favored Kerry. That's not a "red" state, that's a state with a lot of Democrats but even more Republicans. The media's lazy charade in which states are solid color blocks, borders on irresponsible.

[edit]

Here's what I'm talking about.

Instead of going straight red-blue, this map marks how strongly each county supported Bush or Kerry. Not much red, not much blue, lots and lots of purple.

[/edit]

There, wanted to get those things out of the way. Now I can finally start talking about what I think happened this election.

The popular explanation of this election is that the Republicans mobilized religious conservatives to vote by putting Gay Marriage Ban referendums on many state ballots across the country. The evidence for this comes from exit polls in which 22% of respondents said that their number one concern when voting was "morality" (well, that and Karl Rove's public admissions that this was his strategy). First of all, I don't trust these polls. And second, saying that you're concerned with morals doesn't necessarily translate into "I wanted to vote down gay marriage."

That being said, it seems likely that these referendums did have an impact. At the very least, it made the voters in those areas think a bit more about their social values, and at most, turned the election into a referendum on whether or not that individual voter approves of homosexuality. And for the most part, Americans are very homophobic. This gay referendum tactic was also clever in that it played on the one inroad that Republicans have to ethnic minorities: religion. African-Americans and latinos are often devoted Christians, which often leads to conservative social values.

I think the biggest problem in analyzing the election is that commentators want to find a "magic bullet." They want to say that the nation loves Bush, or that Kerry should've used Strategy Z or that everyone just voted for Bush because they're scared of terrorism. Of course, people make their decisions based upon different criteria. Some people probably focus on candidates' policies and how it will effect that voter specifically, others will look at the best policies for society. Some will simply vote their party affiliation. Some will vote for the candidate they think seems most trustworthy. Some will vote for the person they think will make America look best. Some will vote for the person who they think will be the best leader. And of course, most people probably have not analyzed the way that they are making this decision, so you couldn't even ask them to find out. There is no one way to vote, but saying that won't get you a seat on the cable news talk shows.

It seems to me that the biggest predictor of a person's vote is whether they live in an urban area or a rural area. Check the second and third maps on this page to see that the rural areas (most of the United States) tend to have more Republican voters, while the urban areas (the coasts, the Northeast, and along the Mississippi River) tend to have more Democratic voters.

I'd say that if someone really wanted to understand the American political landscape, they'd first have to try to get a handle on the political views of non-voters. Not asking them "why didn't you vote?" as much as trying to see how they feel about various political issues. They could very well be strongly liberal or conservative, but just feel that voting doesn't make a difference. If you want to know what America thinks, you really need to tap into that mystery 40%.

After that, I think I'd try to interview folks in both rural and ubran areas, both Bush and Kerry voters, and try to get them to explain how they made their decisions. Then you could compare the responses of the urban and rural Democrats and the urban and rural Republicans and start looking for patterns.

But that's all the nice quasi-academic stuff. The core of this election was Bush himself. Bush ran on his public image rather than his record or his policies, and Kerry ran on a "Bush is doing it wrong" platform. I think your average Jo(e) would have, over the course of four years, gotten a clear image of Bush (whether that image is true or a fraud), and didn't think that Bush was doing things so badly that he should be thrown out (I think most Americans don't watch enough news to really fathom how badly Bush has fucked up the nation and world). I think that some voters are still afraid of terrorism and feel that Bush is a "strong leader" in the sense that if you were in a fort and were being attacked, that Bush would be a good guy to put in charge of the effort to fight back (this would be for people who bought into Bush's false image. I don't think he would fight the good fight in a fort siege, I think he'd be the guy who'd volunteer to go get another barrel of gun powder, and then hide in the storage room until the fighting stopped). Despite Kerry's military service, his image was never one of "good fort leader". He might be a good guy to run the fort before the attack began, but afterwards people would want the passionate fighter that Bush pretends to be.

Sadly, this election has made me fear that maybe there are so many Christian fundamentalists in this country that they can actually start acheving their goals of changing the government and culture to fit their own kooky interpretation of the Bible. I've usually been a very tolerant agnostic, but these election reults make me wonder if religion is my enemy.

And to everyone who voted for those No Gay Marriage propositions, fuck all y'all. You took your belief that some people are less human than others and made it law.

Posted by Jake at 02:16 AM | Comments (20) | TrackBack (0)

November 03, 2004

Wrap-Up

Well, we've got possibly contradictory conclusions. John Kerry has gone ahead and conceded the election to Bush. But in the last post, commenter "johnk" (no relation) says that he worked at a polling station yesterday and that 10% of their ballots were provisional, and wouldn't be counted until later. He wonders how many other ballots are as-yet uncounted. Would it make a difference? And if it did, how legally binding is Kerry's concession?

Anyhow. I'll work on the assumption that Kerry lost.

I swear I heard Kerry and Edwards talk a lot about not giving up until every ballot is counted, but I saw the news about Kerry's concession before CNN had even finished filling out its electoral map. Reminded me of the saying of old labor organizer Big Bill Haywood: "A liberal is the guy who leaves the room when a fight starts."

[update]

Investigative journalist Greg Palast is claiming that Kerry won. He argues that if shoddy voting machines in African-American and latino districts in Ohio and New Mexico hadn't spoiled so many of those people's votes, that Kerry would have won those two states and therefore the election. I don't know if his numbers add up properly, but there is evidence that districts with large African-American populations tend to have more ballots deemed "spoiled". But since Kerry seems unlikely to investigate this issue, it seems that Bush is likely to remain the president-elect whether Palast is right or not.

[/update]

I want to point out that there seems to be a myth going around that young people did not come out to vote. They did. According to The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), 4.6 million more young voters turned out in 2004 than did in 2000, an increase of more than 9% (up about 13% in battleground states). I mention this because I've seen a few liberal sites bashing young adults for "losing the election" for Kerry. Hey, pundits! Leave them kids alone!

Also, it looks like conservatives are claiming that they and their agenda now have a "mandate". The term usually implies that you have won by such a significant amount, that the vast, vast majority of people support you. However, only 60% of the electorate showed up to the polls, and only 51% of them voted for Bush. So even being generous, the election only shows about 31% of the people behind the president. Quite honestly, the "don't care much one way or the other crowd" has the closest thing to a mandate

I'll admit, at one point I looked at the numbers and saw like 52 million Americans, more than half the voters, saying that they wanted George W. Bush and his crazy wars and his idiocy and his corporate plundering, and I thought "why should I care? If this is what Americans want, why should I make any effort to fight it?" It was bitterness, really, a feeling of "let this fuckers reap what they sow. Let them get what they deserve," aimed at all of these mindless Bush voters. But then I realized that while the American warlords are going to rain hell upon 250+ million Americans in the years to come, they are also going to run roughshod over the other 6 billion or so people on Earth. Opposing Bush, and the neocons, and the corrupt system that was here long before they set foot in the Oval Office, is necessary if we really care about the people of the world.

And I do.

So, everyone asks, what do we do now?

I'd say first thing, everybody take a breather. Take a day, take a few days, and don't worry about politics so much. Relax, see some friends, meditate, take a trip, get drunk, do whatever you need to do to unwind a bit, and get a little peace and perspective. You've earned that. And frankly, you probably need that right now.

Second, don't beat yourself up over this. Maybe you campaigned for Kerry, or donated to the Democrats, or tried to talk sense into your conservative friends, or simply tried to get out the truth. Some of you feel like you could have done more, or that you failed. Sure, maybe you could have done more, but you can't change what's past. You can learn from your mistakes (if indeed you made any at all), but it's best to not wallow in them. And as for failure, you only fail if this election is the endpoint of your politically active life. If your goal was solely to get John Kerry elected and then be done with it, then yes, maybe you did fail. But if your goal is to make a better world for everybody, then this was a setback on what will be a long and twisted journey.

After that, I suppose you have to do some thinking about what's happened, some thinking about what you want to happen, and some thinking about how to get there from here, sociopolitically speaking. That first bit I can help with. The second two are up to you. We can see just from the comments in some of my recent posts that y'all have got a wide spectrum of goals, ranging from getting Democrats in office, to building third parties, to reforming the electoral system, to some sort of radical rejection of all nearly all mainstream American policies. Frankly, I believe in the latter, but I'm not going to push that on anybody right now.

I'll post an article tomorrow with my analysis of what happened in this election, and try to explain to some of our foreign brothers and sisters why Americans do some of the crazy things we do.

So chin up, folks. Things are bad, and they might get worse. But our only real choices are to cave in and despair, or to stand up and fight back.

Posted by Jake at 07:54 PM | Comments (20) | TrackBack (0)

November 02, 2004

Up in the Air

I am pretty baffled about the way that the media is treating this election. Well, maybe I'm not baffled; they suck. But it seems ridiculous to make any attempts to "call" the election till all the votes are counted. "Projecting" who will win is bullshit. Don't call the election based on exit polls. Don't call the election when 67% of the votes are counted. Don't call the election with 99%-- well, okay, 99% of the vote is probably safe to call. But I hate how the press worries more about being first than being right. I'm willing to wait a day or two if that's what it takes to get the facts straight.

I know a bunch of people who are saying at this time (11:40pm Nov 2) that this election is "basically Bush's". And maybe it will be. But given my skeptical nature, I don't feel that this has been decided yet.

But no matter who wins, this election makes one thing certain: tens of millions of Americans are stupid, stupid fuckers.

Posted by Jake at 11:40 PM | Comments (37) | TrackBack (0)

The Big Vote

If you've ever visited this site before today, odds are you're some kind of liberal, progressive, environmentalist, communist, socialist, feminist, anarchist, radical or hippie. Therefore I probably don't have to convince any of you to vote against George W. Bush. If any of you are regular readers and still haven't ruled out voting for Bush, and my hundreds of articles about the way that Bush is turning the globe into a smoking ball of idiocy, blood and hate haven't swayed you, then I am an utter failure as a human being.

Voting for Bush is like voting for a swift, pointy kick in the sensitive bodily region of your choice. Well, it's actually more like voting for someone to steal your wallet, and then use that money to clearcut a forest, throw poor people in jail, firebomb Damascus, and then lie to you about it.

And if that's what you're looking for, go ahead and vote that way.

What will voting for Kerry be like? Probably like Clinton, except with a shitty economy and eternal war.

Posted by Jake at 12:40 AM | Comments (22) | TrackBack (0)

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 (0)

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 (0)

October 29, 2004

Poster for You

Just a reminder:

Posted by Jake at 01:03 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

To Recap

Bush's "Timeline of Failure"

Posted by Jake at 09:17 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (1)

October 28, 2004

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 (0)

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 (0)

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 (0)

Yes

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 (0)

October 26, 2004

Endgamey

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

Posted by Jake at 01:59 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

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.

Wow.

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.

Dayum.

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 (0)

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.

[edit]

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

[/edit]

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

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.

[update]

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

[/update]

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 (0)

Joinalizm

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 (0)

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 (0)

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 (0)

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 (0)

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.

[correction]

Incorrect hyperlink for Rosen's article. Fixed now.

[/correction]

Posted by Jake at 10:46 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

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 (0)

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 (0)

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 (0)

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.

[update]

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

[/update]

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

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 (0)

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]

[correction]

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

[/correction]

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

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 (0)

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 (0)

Update-mania

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

Sinclair

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 (0)

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 (0)

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.

and

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 (0)

Southern-esque

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 (0)

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 (0)

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 (0)

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 (0)

fearfearfearfearfearfear

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 (0)

Thunderdome

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 (1)

October 06, 2004

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 (0)

Dot Com

Heh.

At last night's debate, Dick Cheney told the country to visit "factcheck.com" for information that he figured would exonerate him and make John Edwards look bad. Unfortunately for Cheney, he confused those crazy internet extensions. FactCheck.org, 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 Factcheck.com 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]

FactCheck.org weighs in on Cheney and Edwards:

Cheney got our domain name wrong -- calling us "FactCheck.com" -- 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.

[/update]

Posted by Jake at 08:48 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

October 05, 2004

Prognosticating

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 (0)

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 (0)

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 (0)

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]

FactCheck.org on the debates.

[/update]

Posted by Jake at 12:54 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

September 30, 2004

To Arms

I think Steve Gilliard is sadly right with this post.

He argues that how Bush and Kerry actually do in tonight's debate is utterly irrelevant to the election's outcome. What matters is perception of the debate. Therefore he is urging his readers to help shape that perception:

You're going to call C-Span Friday morning, write your local newspaper and participate in online polls and say the following things:

"George Bush was completely inarticulate. I still don't understand what he meant about Iraq"

"I am so disappointed in Bush. We're seeing carbombs explode every day in Iraq and he won't admit failure"

"Bush thinks this is about him. Meanwhile American soldiers are dying in Iraq every day"

"Why won't Bush admit he blew the hunt for Osama Bin Laden"

Then,

"John Kerry convinced me he can do something about Iraq"

I think Kerry is better on Iraq than Bush"

"I'm going to vote for Kerry, I no longer trust the president"

"Bush lost my confidence last night. He just falls short against Kerry"

"I can't believe that Bush embarassed himself like that. It's amazing he's president".

As long as you hit the high points, Kerry was good, Bush was bad, and you can no longer vote for him, then you're doing your job. See, the idea is to create the feeling of defection and loss among Republicans. Not the truth, not the reality of your opinion, but a groundswell of movement away from Bush. And if you're in a swing state, all the better...

We're not trying to be right, we're trying to win.

He's right. Conservative strategists have proven that they have absolutely zero regard for the truth, unless by an amazing coincidence it happens to also be the most effective way of destroying their opponents. The press has also shown that they will slant the story according to what they think public opinion is. If they think that people favor Bush, they'll get tough on Kerry and talk skeptically about a Kerry win. If they think people favor Kerry, they'll talk frequently about the president's troubles and his uphill fight. And if you want to be a soldier in this political war, you'll probably want to help shape that perception of public opinion.

This election has about as much to do with democracy as a gang war. It's trash talk and drive-by shootings and mobilizing your loyal troops. A far cry from "democracy as the marketplace of ideas." Still, who do you want in charge of this nation, the Crips or Crips-Lite?

Are there any countries out there that don't suck?

Posted by Jake at 10:25 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Fake Out

Lots of interesting tidbits in this Washington Post article.

1) "The Bush administration, battling negative perceptions of the Iraq war, is sending Iraqi Americans to deliver what the Pentagon calls 'good news' about Iraq to U.S. military bases, and has curtailed distribution of reports showing increasing violence in that country." Where I come from, we call that "propaganda."

2) "Details have emerged showing the U.S. government and a representative of President Bush's reelection campaign had been heavily involved in drafting the speech given to Congress last week by interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi."

3) The day after the Post made a leaked report about the number of insurgent attacks in Iraq into a front page story, the government announced that it will no longer issue those reports.

4) The "good news" tour mentioned above will be sending Iraqi Americans and former members of the Coalition Provisional Authority to military bases to provide a "first hand account" of what's happening on the ground in Iraq. I'm not exactly sure why being of Iraqi descent means that you know what's going on in Iraq right now (... maybe all Iraqis are born with mental telepathy?), and the CPA folks have been out of Iraq since, what, June?

5) This "good news" tour is being paid for by the Pentagon! Your tax dollars are being spent to tell American soldiers that the ongoing clusterfuck in Iraq is really not so bad.

If we cut through the shit a bit, we see that convincing people that Iraq is A-OK is part of Bush's election strategy. Allawi's trip to the US was not about thanking the American people, but about getting votes for Bush. And this "feel good" tour is essentially our tax money being spent to try to win more military votes for Bush.

[Insert your favorite 1984 quote here]

[Thanks to David D]

Posted by Jake at 09:38 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

We're From the Federal Government and We're Here to Help

Bob Morris is a blogger and progressive activist here in Los Angeles. At a recent meeting he attended, Ban Al-Wardi of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination League described to him how FBI agents are meeting with local Arab and Muslim leaders to teach them to Stop Worrying and Love the PATRIOT Act. Here's Bob summarizing Al-Wardi:

After heaping praise on the PATRIOT Act, the FBI then attacks pamphlets that Arab groups have distributed. As an example, one pamphlet said "If an FBI agent wants to question you, you have the right to have a lawyer present." Well, this got the FBI's panties in a twist. No no no they said, this is wrong. We need to get information fast, so if someone wants to have a lawyer present, this might slow us. So even if what you are saying is true, don't say it. We can move faster without all that bothersome lawyer stuff - so this helps us help you! Aw, how thoughtful of them.

But wait, there's more. Do you fear your mosque might be attacked, they asked. Then give us blueprints to the buildings, including home residences of staff, locations of alarms, and the unlock codes. Are they requesting the same information from synagogues, much less from churches? What do you think?

Ban did skip the 6 hour mock training sessions where you pretend to be an FBI agent breaking into immigrant homes. This is so you can feel their pain (The FBI's pain, not the immigrant's pain.) Sometimes we accidentally shoot someone and this makes us feel bad, the FBI said. No, I am not making this up.

As a lazy person, I can certainly understand the desire to get people to cooperate or collaborate to get things done more easily. But as a non-idiot, I also see that telling someone that night is day and asking them to help me put their friends and neighbors in jail is not only a waste of everyone's time, but absurd and insulting as well.

Posted by Jake at 12:17 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

September 27, 2004

Critical

Last Friday we had the second broadcast of Critical Mass Radio Network. It was very fun, and I am excited by the CMRN's potential.

Basically, CMRN is a live internet audio stream that plays once a month, in which each participating internet and community radio station (most espousing fairly radical political views) is responsible for content for a certain time slot. Local radio pirates around the country then pick up the signal and broadcast it over the real airwaves. I'm told we were broadcast in LA, SF, San Diego, Santa Cruz, New York and Seattle.

Kill Radio had the 6:30-8pm timeslot last week. I arrived a little late, but the evening's programing went something like this:

- excerpt of an interview with writer/academic Cornel West, conducted by KR jazz show host Hassan. I believe he's actually airing the rest of the interview on his show tonight (Monday) at midnight.

- me, talking about the history of radio, the FCC, and the "roads not taken"

- Laura and Hassan talking about local film education/production activists at the Echo Park Film Center

- "agitkid" interviewing Sherman Austin live in studio. Austin was webmaster for the political site RaiseTheFist.com, who was sent to prison for a year on some very shady charges regarding the site. Although I have no skills or training, someone asked me to man the handicam to videotape the interview for posterity.

I think this project is only going to grow, with more stations getting involved, and perhaps enough demand so that it airs more than once a month.

Which leads me to a question. Why aren't you a DJ? Doesn't everyone want to be a DJ?

Posted by Jake at 11:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 24, 2004

Direct Hit

Go read this comic. You'll cringe, frown and nod your head.

Posted by Jake at 09:03 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

September 22, 2004

You Are There

Juan Cole again brings the goods with a post trying to show Americans what it would be like if the US was in the same shape as Iraq. A sample:

The population of the US is over 11 times that of Iraq, so a lot of statistics would have to be multiplied by that number.

Thus, violence killed 300 Iraqis last week, the equivalent proportionately of 3,300 Americans. What if 3,300 Americans had died in car bombings, grenade and rocket attacks, machine gun spray, and aerial bombardment in the last week? That is a number greater than the deaths on September 11, and if America were Iraq, it would be an ongoing, weekly or monthly toll.

And what if those deaths occurred all over the country, including in the capital of Washington, DC, but mainly above the Mason Dixon line, in Boston, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, and San Francisco?

What if the grounds of the White House and the government buildings near the Mall were constantly taking mortar fire? What if almost nobody in the State Department at Foggy Bottom, the White House, or the Pentagon dared venture out of their buildings, and considered it dangerous to go over to Crystal City or Alexandria?

It goes into much more detail, and you will probably conclude by thanking your lucky stars that you aren't in Iraq. Go read it.

Posted by Jake at 10:13 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

September 21, 2004

Battle Cry

It looks like many of the liberals out there who care about this election could do with a shot in the arm. They see Kerry's poll numbers and they're scared.

Lemme let my pal Geov do the talking:

This is a war. It's being fought like one, whether or not we participate, and we are all targets. We'd better start acting like our asses are on the firing line. They are.

I don't hate George W. Bush; I do hate what he has done and is still doing to our country and to my planet, and I do intend to do everything in my power to ensure he and his cabal don't have another four years to abuse their public trust...

Defense doesn't win wars. And that's what this is: war, one we didn't start, for nothing less than the future of the country, the world, even. The six billion of us without any trust funds to finance our tickets to Mars are pretty well stuck with this one planet. We'd better start acting, all of us, like no one government, let alone one politician who says he talks regularly with God, has the right to recklessly endanger it and the lives of so many of the people on it. Get angry about it. You should be.

That goes triply for those of us with the privilege and responsibility of being eligible to participate directly in this year's U.S. presidential election. Vote, sure. And register ten more people to vote, or fifty or a hundred, and then make sure they do it. And if you're in a state where Bush won't win, send money or time or people or yourself or all of the above to a place where he might. Use your passion, your brains, your desperation, the fact that THIS IS OUR COUNTRY. Shut his well-moneyed machine down in its oily tracks.

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

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

Send that to every scared liberal you know.

Posted by Jake at 09:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Next Big Thing

Hotel workers in LA, SF and DC are trying to negotiate new contracts with their employers, but have authorized their union's leadership to call for a strike, if necessary.

The union and the hotels have been negotiating since March. On September 17, hours after the contract officially expired, LA's luxurious Wilshire Grand Hotel locked out the 17 unionized laundry workers, from one of the union's tiniest chapters, Local 52.

The decision was made by Wilshire Grand manager John Stoddard. He is a douchebag. Apparently, he is hoping to spark a city-wide labor conflict. Why? I dunno, but I think this is the part where the villain rubs his hands gleefully and says "everything is going according to plan."

I fear that this is going to get ugly. Y'see, apart from the usual demands of better wages, the union wants to change the length of the contract so that it expires at the same time as the hotel workers in other cities across the country. And they want that, so that they could negotiate as a single, larger bloc, instead of several separate groupings of hotel workers.

It's like the hotel workers and the hotel employers are playing a basketball game, and the hotel workers are saying "you guys have five players. We only have two. You mind if we get one or two more players for our team?" And since the hotels have millions and millions riding on this game, they will move heaven and earth to prevent the odds from being evened up, however slightly.

If this strike goes down, stay tuned for info on how you can help the striking workers out.

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

Worthy of Sun Tzu

"At some point the Iraqis will get tired of getting killed and we’ll have enough of the Iraqi security forces that they can take over responsibility for governing that country and we’ll be able to pare down the coalition security forces in the country."

-- Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld

"At some point, the Iraqis will get tired of getting killed". Now there's some real military strategy.

Posted by Jake at 11:03 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

September 20, 2004

McLibel II

Maybe some of you have heard of the McLibel trial of the 1990s. It was Britain's longest court case, between international juggernaut McDonald's Inc. and two British environmentalists. Long story short, when Helen Steel and Dave Morris were distributing "What's Wrong with McDonald's?" leaflets out in front of one of the stores, the company sued the two for libel. The company planned to quickly crush the two and stop the spread of malicious (and truthful) information.

PR backfire of the year. Since British libel laws force defendants to prove that their statements are true (as opposed to the US, where the the plaintiffs have to prove that what the defendants said is false), thus began 2 and a half years of activists airing Mickey D's dirty laundry in public. Thus the leaflet that probably would have been seen by a few dozen locals in London was spread to millions internationally. Whoops.

The two eventually lost their case (the judge found that some of the things that the leaflet had said were indeed true, but did not feel there was enough evidence to support all of the accusations), but Steel and Morris have never paid McDonald's the money.

Now, Phase Two.

Morris and Steel went to the European Court of Human Rights to argue, essentially, that Britain's libel laws violate the rights set out in the European Union's charter. They want to get Britain's libel laws changed for the sake of free speech, and they want corporations banned from suing for libel because it is in the public's interest that such powerful entities are endlessly watched and criticized. If the court finds in their favor, Britiain could be compelled to change its laws.

No idea when we'll hear a verdict on this, but you know who I'm rooting for.

Posted by Jake at 10:38 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Where Your Homegirls' At

Sometimes, male bloggers scratch their heads and ask, "where are all the female bloggers?"*-- usually without trying very hard to find them.

Well, there's a list of several hundred of them at What She Said!.

Time to open your minds, fellas.

[via Mouse Words]

---

*"Bloggers" is understood to mean "political bloggers." For some reason, political bloggers like to pretend that the vast mountain of personal, non-political blogs don't exist, even though (as I've remarked on several occasions), the majority of blogs seem to be the personal journals of 14-year old schoolgirls. The What She Said list is huge, and only lists blogs by liberal women, who write about politics on their blogs( although not always exclusively about politics. But who does, really?).

Posted by Jake at 12:28 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

To the Chase

I'm just going to copy this verbatim from Prof. Juan Cole:

Bin Laden Doesn't Care Who Wins

The remark of Speaker of the House Denis Hastert that al-Qaeda would like to manipulate the US election with a terrorist bombing and would be happier with Kerry as president is simply wrong. The Democrats are correct that such comments are a form of fear-mongering aimed at stampeding the American public into voting for Bush out of terror. Indeed, if the US public votes for any candidate because of concern for Bin Laden, then Bin Laden has been handed precisely the victory that Hastert professed to abhor.

But Hastert is just wrong. Al-Qaeda does not care who wins the elections. If the US withdraws from Iraq (which could happen willy-nilly under Bush as easily as under Kerry), that would be seen as a victory by al-Qaeda. If the US remains in Iraq for years, bleeding at the hands of an ongoing guerrilla insurgency, then that is also a victory for al-Qaeda from their point of view. They therefore just don't care which candidate wins. They hate general US policy in the Middle East, which would not change drastically under Kerry. To any extent that al-Qaeda is giving serious thought to the US elections, it would see no significant difference between the candidates. But given its goal of creating more polarization between the US and the Muslim World, it is entirely possible that the al-Qaeda leadership would prefer Bush, since they want to "sharpen the contradictions."

Posted by Jake at 10:00 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 15, 2004

Under Siege

Knoxville's First Amendment Radio (KFAR) was just shut down by the FCC, and has had all their equipment confiscated. Details here (get a login at BugMeNot.com).

[update]

More news here, slideshow of photos here. The FCC took $4000 in equipment. The Feds's goal was just to shut the station down, so no one was arrested or fined.

South Knox Bubba, from whom I first heard about the story, posts this [unverified] report from the pseudonymous "ghost":

the bastards came, got a locksmith to let them in (i think???), and even though the warrant said nothing about "Apartment C", they went into the studio room and took EVERYTHING.

both rotation players, the mixing board, all three cd players, the turntable, the tape player, the computer & monitor, the Slink-E device, cables, the transmitter, the microphone, headphones, etc.

look for kfar to start transmitting on the web asap, and my money is that they go back live on air this weekend - with the crappiest backup equipment imaginable.

hell hath no fury like a pirate scorned.

kfar needs your support. go to http://www.kfar.org and sign up for the action alert to stay informed.

Somewhat related, I beleive that KFAR is planning to join my station, Kill Radio in the next Critical Mass Radio Network broadcast.

[/update]

[update2]

I'm listening to KFAR online right now (you can too). I'm guessing that its a non-standard broadcast (since they got shut down by the government and all), but honestly, the show I'm listening to--"Is This Thing On?"-- sounds a lot like my own show (playlist so far: Public Enemy, Interpol, Run DMC, some real old country song, Black Rebel Motorcycle... okay, and now Skee-lo, which I'd never play), except that instead of improvised political rants, they seem to favor pre-written political skits. Give it a listen, see what you think.

[/update2]

Posted by Jake at 03:25 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Idiocy, Futility and Desperation

Professor says Bush revealed National Guard favoritism- stop the presses! Wake the children! A rich kid got preferential treatment to avoid the draft!

Our Savage Numbness- journal entry by This Modern World blog collaborator Bob Harris. Bob is gloomy because Americans no longer seem to care that the US military openly kills innocent civilians on a regular basis. But the second half of his post is much more interesting, as he recounts how Muslims that he has met in his recent trip to Egypt have felt about America and its actions. "This is true, I swear: we have hundreds of millions more potential friends than America realizes right now. And we are losing them for a generation or more. I promise you that on my soul."

NYC: Urgent RNC Aftermath: Casa Del Sol Put Under A Vacate Order!!!!- I'm not 100% knowledgeable on this one. If I understand correctly, Casa del Sol is a "squatted" community center and garden in NYC based out of an unused, abandonded building. The center has been there for over 20 years. And now, NYC looks like it wants to abruptly eject them from the premises. I'll post more info if/when I get some.

Teachers Lose Tax Breaks for Supplies- fuck Arnold Schwarzenegger. Due to short budgets, teachers are always paying for supplies for their students and classrooms out of their own pockets. Now, due to even shorter budgets I guess, teachers are losing tax credits that offset some of these purchases. From the look of it, California teachers stand to lose up to $1750 per year.

I've got very mixed feelings about American schools. In my experience, the education they provide is 100% dependent upon the individual teachers. The teachers who give a shit and spend their own money are the ones that you want teaching you (or your kids). Pissing on them is the last thing you want to do. Hell, surveys show time and time again that Americans are willing to pay even more taxes than they do, if they knew that money was going to education.

Well, we've got one solution here. iLoveSchools.com is a website that hooks up donors with schoolteachers who need money to buy supplies. Give it a look. If the Kindergaren Cop can't be bothered to support teachers, maybe you can.


Leapfrog- how Afghanistan is fucked, filled with all kinds of upsetting facts. The most obviously jarring figure is that "over 107 percent of eligible [Afghan] voters have been registered to vote." But apart from pending voter fraud, the article discusses the de facto rule by warlords, the Taliban-lite sexism, the lack of security, the deaths, the lack of aid, and the drug-running.

Posted by Jake at 10:45 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

September 14, 2004

Jake at the RNC

[update]

I'm moving this back to the top in case y'all missed it.

[/update]


I've finally finished my LMB version of Jake Does the RNC stuff. You might have read my initial versions at Axis of Justice. This new stuff is funnier, more personal, with more detail and insight, and more pictures (although not a lot more). Read it or not, your call.

I'm still fighting Moveable Type a bit to get the entries to show up as I'd like, but until then, here're the links:

Jake at the RNC: Intro

Jake at the RNC: Day One- ...wherein Jake takes the redeye to New York City and groggily attends a pro-choice march

Jake at the RNC: Day Two- ...wherein Jake attends the huge anti-Bush march, and bears some witness to militant Times Square action

Jake at the RNC: Day Three- ...wherein Jake looks for fellow bloggers, attends Still We Rise, and does not receive a phone call

Jake at the RNC: Day Four- ...wherein Jake misses most of A31, attends a rock and roll concert, and stays out quite late

Jake at the RNC: Day Five- ...wherein Jake waxes fearful on the NYPD, unions get mad and media giants are shouted at

Jake at the RNC: Day Six- ...wherein Jake witnesses a vigil for fallen soldiers, the dethroning of a king, and an internationally-famous dog puppet

Posted by Jake at 12:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 12, 2004

Shocking Conclusion to TypewriterMemoThingGate

South Knox Bubba gets it exactly right:

Posted by Jake at 07:12 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Random Reports

U.S.: Korea Cloud Not From Nuclear Blast- this article really needs to come first. Apparently a "mushroom cloud" has been seen in North Korea, leading to fear that NK has tested a nuclear weapon. However it is my understanding that a nuclear explosion would cause such a jolt that it would register on all the world's earthquake-meters, and the world's seismologists have not noticed such a jump. Therefore it is probably some other explosion/fire/accident/something.

September 11 and Its Aftermath- Middle East scholar Juan Cole reflects upon the war on terrorism, and sadly concludes:

Although the United States and its Pakistani ally have captured significant numbers of al-Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan and Pakistan, a whole new generation of angry young Muslim men has been produced. Al-Qaeda has moved from being a concrete cell-based terrorist organization to being an ideal and a model, for small local groups in Casablanca, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and elsewhere.

The US is not winning the war on terror. Al-Qaeda also has by no means won. But across a whole range of objectives, al-Qaeda has accomplished more of its goals than the US has of its.

You should go read the whole thing though.

Three Years After 9/11: More than 40% of Americans Still Think Saddam Did It- sigh.

Laura Bush Given a Sex Education Class- When Laura Bush came campaigning in Lewiston, Maine last week, "A group of citizens outside of the church where she was speaking took sex education into their own hands by bringing it to the streets! At one point about twenty women lined up to show laura and the other republicans how condoms work by demonstrating with bananas. The crowd loved it and this creative action we a great media spectacle to get the point across that if our school cant get funding or wont teach sex education other than the bush's faith based abstinence campaign, we will take matters into our own hands."

Video of the protest here

Both Candidates Often Shift Positions- the Associated Press reports that both Kerry and Bush do a lot of "flip-flopping." In the real world, "flip-flopping" is known as "changing your mind," and people do it all the time without being cowards or traitors.

Facing the Copyright Rap- sigh. A federal judge has ruled that every time a musician uses a sample from another song in their own work, that they must pay royalties to the creator of that other song. In the past, it had been legal to sample other works for free, so long as the sample was not recognizable. "We do not see this as stifling creativity in any significant way," said the judges, who are obviously idiots. Rap music is largely based upon taking samples of existing music and mixing, altering, and recontextualizing it into a new song. But no, forcing rappers to pay for every single sample they use won't stifle their creativity. Bankruptcy will.

My Book Is Porn? Sure Did Fool Me- heh. Commentary by the author of the children's book "The Boy Who Looked Like Lincoln." According to the author, the main storyline of the book is that The Boy is "sent to a summer camp for kids who look like things: toasters, bowling pins, The Titanic." The book's punchline is the introduction of The Boy's younger brother "Dickie", who looks like Richard Nixon. And conservative group's are outraged, assuming for some reason that the little Nixon-looking boy (complete with 5 o'clock shadow and tape recorder), is supposed to be A Boy Who Looks Like a Penis. Which really is about as Freudian as you wanna get.

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

September 10, 2004

The Encyclopedia Brown Distraction

Sigh. The Unofficial John Kerry Blogger Support Team has been tricked.

While it's fun to support Kerry by ripping W for going AWOL in the National Guard, it doesn't really get Kerry any closer to the White House. To support Kerry, you really do need to focus on Bush's terrible domestic policy and his failures in Iraq and the war on terrorism. That's what resonates with the voters.

But at present, the bloggers have blown amazingly off-course.

Not only are they not talking about Bush's true weak points, not only are they not talking about Bush's military record directly, not only are they not talking about documents regarding Bush's military record, not only are they not even talking about the authenticity of documents about Bush's military record, they're debating the capabilities of 1970s typewriters!!!

Y'see, CBS uncovered some military documents from the 1970s which make George W. Bush look bad. Right-wing bloggers decide that the documents must be fake, and cobble together "proof" that they are fake. Their "proof" is pretty much "you can make documents that look a lot like this one using Microsoft Word" and "we're not experts on typewriters, but we think that the model of typewriter that we think was allegedly used to type these documents couldn't make that kind of font."

Liberal bloggers are fighting back (not just the fellow I linked to above, lots of em), arguing that yah-huh, those typewriters could too make that font, no tag backs.

So they're about five steps removed from talking about anything that actually helps John Kerry. And even if the liberal bloggers win this debate, all they've managed to do is get one piece of evidence that Bush didn't fully complete his military service accepted into the public record. Which is something that the voting public doesn't seem to care much about, and therefore accomplishes nothing.

Good work, fellas.

Posted by Jake at 12:49 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

September 09, 2004

Music for the Masses

Does anyone know anything about mp3 players?

A friend of mine made the brilliant suggestion that I get an iPod and transfer my CDs to it, which would cut down on the staggering amount of clutter in my apartment.

But is iPod the best brand? I'd appreciate it if anyone with some knowledge or experience could give me their opinions on which mp3 player is best.

Gracias.

Posted by Jake at 07:07 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)

Caffeinated for Justice

Damn. I'm now kicking myself for missing one stop I should have made when I was in New York.

This article reminded me that I should've stopped in for a cuppa joe at the unionized Starbucks at 36th and Madison.

Well, that's a bit of an exaggeration. The Starbucks workers have voted to unionize, but Starbucks is fighting them. I don't know how it will turn out.

That article above is pretty interesting, actually. Apparently there was a small demonstration in support of the union on August 28. And, apparently, the police arrested demo organizers Daniel Gross and Anthony Polanco on various counts of "Standing Somewhere When a Police Officer Doesn't Want You Standing There, and Would Rather Arrest You Than Tell You to Move."

Hell, there's a lot of ugly RNC stuff that's still coming out. here's a story about the erroneous arrests and illegal detentions, and here's an allegedly complete list of the 1700+ folks who were arrested during the protests.

Posted by Jake at 09:54 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

September 08, 2004

Just Say Yes

On several occasions, I have referred to The Yes Men, a group of media pranksters who masquerade as international economists, who then push over-the-top, "A Modest Proposal"-esque solutions to the world's problems.

And now, we get The Yes Men: The Movie, a documentary about the group. Sweet.

The movie is actually getting a good amount of advertising via the net. Did Fahrenheit 9/11 really pave the way for the mainstreaming of documentaries and political films, or is this just a fad? Obviously, I hope the former.

Posted by Jake at 12:48 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

September 07, 2004

New Eyes

I consider myself pro-choice and a feminist, but this post by Amanda has given me a lot to think about regarding abortion. First of all, she demolishes the cornerstone of all pro-life rhetoric so easily I can't understand why I've never heard these arguments before (maybe I've just been looking in the wrong places).

Second, she points out aspects of pregnancy and abortion that we men don't often think about:

- if carrying a child for nine months is a lot of work, isn't forcing a woman to endure pregnancy kinda like slavery?

- isn't the pro-life point of view obsessively focused on the man's contribution and almost totally blind to the woman's contribution?

Good stuff. Go read.

Posted by Jake at 10:53 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

September 06, 2004

Eeww.

"We've got an issue in America. Too many good docs are getting out of business. Too many OBGYNs are unable to practice their-- their love, with women all across this country."
- George W. Bush

(video here, via Atrios)

Posted by Jake at 04:07 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

September 05, 2004

Spammy Virus Thing?

I have a recent weirdness relating to the site that I thought I'd mention, in case anyone knows what's going on.

I am obsessed with my site's referral log. This is a page that the website owner can view that lists where people are coming from when they reach your site. More specifically, the referral log lists the URL of the page that someone clicked on to get sent to a page on your own site. It's not infallible, but it does give me an potential insight into who my readership is.

I checked the log yesterday, and found over 100 new websites linking to pages on this site this month. I was pleased, but puzzled. That was a hell of a lot of new links, and we were only a few days into the month. But when I tried to track those links back, I couldn't find the links on those pages. A little more analysis showed that nearly all of the new links were from blogs using Moveable Type, and that nearly every link allegedly came from a url like www.jimmysblog.com/mt-comments.cgi or www.jimmysblog.com/archives

Due to the flood of referrals from such pages, the only reasonable explanation would be some kind of software flaw, security flaw, or virus. Has anyone had any similar experiences? Anyone know what's going on?

[edit]

I'll try to clarify. It is my guess that there is some kind of virus or bot exploiting a newly discovered security flaw in MT. It somehow can access most of the .cgi functions of MT, and then either by goal or accident, results in other MT blogs getting new referral hits. Has anyone else with an MT blog seen a surge in their referrals from URLs like the sample ones I mention above? If so, do you have any idea why?

[/edit]

And slightly on-topic, has anyone upgraded their blog to MT 3.1? Is it worth the effort?

Posted by Jake at 01:35 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

September 04, 2004

Putting It All Together

Back from NYC. Very tired.

I figure that since I worked like 8-14 hours a day every day from the time I finished packing to the time I set foot on my doorstep again, my employers ain't getting much out of me this coming week.

I'll probably spend the next 2-4 days finishing my Axis of Justice reports, editting and posting the photos I took for the Axis site, and posting better/more complete/funnier versions of those reports and photos here at LMB. Although the next few hours will probably be some combination of eating, bathing, video gaming, and passing out.

Special thanks to Kittie, Cari, Vanessa, and Lili for letting me crash at their place and abuse their resources, to my dad for letting me borrow his digital camera, to Candice and Adam for carting me to the airport and back, and to Indira for helping me with Axis stuff in the city.

Oh, and does anyone know of an easy method to turn a bunch of digital photos into a nice display of thumbnail images and whatnot? Using Moveable Type or some other method? That would come in handy.

Posted by Jake at 08:29 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

September 01, 2004

NYC Cont'd.

I'm in New York through Friday morning, then blogging will return as usual. Well, maybe after a few straight days of napping.

For those of you asking for who've liked the eyewitness reporting, you can read more thorough ones in my posts at Axis of Justice, in the right-hand column. They're not as open or humorous as my blog postings, because most of the readers of that site are not familiar with me (which reminds me, I need to add photos to those entries...)

But, I mentioned in the last entry something about an arrested activist defense fund, and it turns out that there is one.

If you'd like to donate money to the activists defense (mainly bail money at this point), you can do so through United for Peace and Justice, by calling 212-868-5545 or donating online. Make sure that when you donate that you announce that this money is for "legal support". While any amount would be appreciated, they'd like lots of money, and fast. Some folks were arrested on trumped up charges and are being held on as much as $200,000 bail. There is also talk about some of the immigrant protesters being deported, so getting money in quickly is important.

Thanks folks. More later.

Posted by Jake at 08:42 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (1)

August 30, 2004

Greetings from Lockdown NYC

Hey folks.

I’m sitting in lovely Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan, making use of their free wireless internet access. The Republican convention starts this morning, the protests started three days ago.

First, New York City: if you’ve never been, go. It’s so dense and vertical and international, so amazing that I won’t even try to do it justice in words here (although at present, its most noticeable feature is it’s hot sweatiness. Ew. Only been awake a few hours and I probably already smell like an unwashed dog). It’s the anti-suburbs in many good ways. Why don’t I move here? I won’t rule out the possibility someday, but I’m a born and raised southern Californian, and anytime I leave my domain, that becomes achingly obvious. I’m supposed to live hours away from a beach? I’m supposed to deal with humidity and cold and snow? I’m not so down with all that.

Anyhow, went to the pro-choice march Saturday, which involved activists marching over the Brooklyn bridge for one jillion hours. Well, probably more like 2 and a half, but it seemed really long watching from the finish line. Happily, the best response that the anti-choice forces could come up with was a couple dozen red-faced men and one crazy lady who was belting out hymns or something.

And yesterday was the big, dangerous march that could have (but didn’t) go to Central Park-- dangerous only because I was afraid that many protesters would illegally go to Central Park and get arrested in droves. Huge numbers of folks there, I’m hearing reports between 100,000 and 400,000 in attendance. No crazy police crackdown, thank god. The march went to Union Square and was supposed to then disperse, but instead, it was more like a big old activist picnic, very chill. I won’t pretend that it rocked the political world, but it was enjoyable.

Then last night there were a number of direct action protests near Times Square. Activists learned that a number of Republican delegates were going to spend the night before the convention seeing some of the city’s many plays and musicals, and used this tidbit to confront the delegates in person, huge police presence be damned. Truly one of the ballsiest protests of the convention. Just read a snippet on NYC’s Indymedia site which read something like: “activists cornered Republican delegates outside a Times Square restaurant and chanted ‘right wing scum, your time has come!’” Let that image lull you to sleep tonight with a smile on your face.

But the crazy Times Square actions did incur mass arrests, sad to say, maybe 200-300. And it caused the police to occupy the area to the point that I feared that if I left my friend’s Square-adjacent apartment that the cops might not let me back in.

Other fun development: I might be interviewed on NYC’s KROCK-FM today sometime between 1-4pm EST. In an unexpected development, the station offered 3 hours of airtime to my lefty rock star bosses to do with whatever they like. And what they like sounds like it will include lots and lots of quality political tunes, an interview with Michael Moore, and an “in the field” report from me. Unless plans change, which they always can, of course.

I’ll toss out an idea: maybe some of y’all would like to start trying to raise some money for an Arrested Activist Defense Fund. If our brothers and sisters are gonna take on the evil-doers to their faces, we should try to have their backs.

Posted by Jake at 07:29 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

August 27, 2004

Najaf II Epilogue

Juan Cole has a pretty great summary of what appears to be the end of the second American siege of Najaf.

Historial note: does anyone remember that the uprising, Najaf sieges 1 & 2, the rise of Moqtada al-Sadr and the Mahdi army, all began when the US shut down al-Sadr's newspaper?

Posted by Jake at 07:50 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

August 26, 2004

CMRN Debut

As of this week, I'm part of yet another political radio project. I recorded one of my trademark stream of consciousness political rants for the premiere broadcast of the Critical Mass Radio Network, which should air sometime tomorrow (August 27), between 10am and 10pm PST.

To quote the press release:

CMRN is a decentralized network of independent community based radio stations that will broadcast a coordinated signal internationally. The general theme of tommorow's broadcast will be the Republican National Convention in New York and the resistance to the policies of the Bush Administration.

Long story short, six pirate and internet radio stations are going to work together to create a single stream of political audio content for people to listen to, or for microbroadcasters to send out over the real airwaves. The current line-up is radioActive San Diego, Philadelphia's Radio Volta, Radio Free Santa Cruz, New York's A-Noise, Portland Indymedia Web Radio, San Francisco's Enemy Combatant Radio, and LA's own Kill Radio.


To start, CMRN will just create this stream once a month (the last Friday of each month), but it will likely grow in length and frequency as time goes on. I think the project has a lot of potential.

[update]

It seems most likely that my piece will air between 10am and noon PST, but CMRN will be webcasting all day. Listen here.

[/update]

[update 2]

Wow, they launched a new look for the site this morning. Tres dope.

[/update 2]

[update 3]

Due to some kind of mix-up, my recorded rant did not get played. Sigh.

[/update 3]

Posted by Jake at 10:59 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

August 25, 2004

Virtual

I don't even know what to say about these:

The "naked female video game character" issue of Playboy

The "Boyfriend Arm Pillow"

The "virtual cellphone girlfriend"

Write your own punchlines.

Posted by Jake at 04:55 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

August 23, 2004

Fahrenheit 527

After the Swift Boat attack ads, Kerry swiped back, calling on Bush to denounce the ads. Bush, using his clever Texas strategery, wouldn't denounce the ads except as part of a broader criticism of 527s. 527s are groups like MoveOn and the Swift Boaters, which raise money and buy ads that don't explicitly support one candidate or another.

After this attack, many liberal bloggers are disingenuously claiming that Bush is trying to ban political speech, or that he's being a hypocrite. That's got nothing to do with nothing. Liberal 527s have raised way more money and have been way more pro-active than conservative ones. So Bush is pretending to be calling for a dignified campaign, when he's really trying to get Kerry to give up his own advantage. It's like a kid on crutches saying "no fair, if we're gonna race, we should all have broken legs."

Or, as Mark Kleiman brilliantly put it, "I'll ask my friends to stop lying about John Kerry, if he will ask his friends to stop telling the truth about me."

Posted by Jake at 05:11 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)

Open Letter to the Media

Dear Press Corps,

As you may have noticed, 2004 is an election year. Although I, and many of my fellow Americans, have become quite jaded about the US government, there are two men running for president, and if we are going to vote, we need to know about those men.

The United States is facing a very troubling time. Terrorism is a real danger. We are fighting a war half-way around the world. Our military is stretched to the breaking point. Much of the global population-- even our allies-- think of our nation as arrogant and bloodthirsty. Our civil rights have been eroded. The economy is doing badly. People can't find work to feed their families. Our national issues of racism, sexism and violence continue unabated. Environmental danger. An unjust justice system. Corporate abuse. Epidemics of cancer and obesity.

We need to know what the candidates will do about all this (if anything). If one the candidates will start to turn the tide, we need to know. If one of the candidates will cause us harm, we need to know. If the candidates are more or less the same, we need to know. And as each candidate is more likely to tell us what they think we want to hear instead of tell us the truth, we need the media's help.

And what have you done in our time of need, when we need to focus on the future of our country? Turned all of your focus onto the cataclysmically irrelevant issue of whether someone shot at a boat in Vietnam 35 years ago!!

Have you lost your minds? Have you just gotten caught up in the herd? Are you so stupid that you think this actually matters? Or are you fully aware of the situation and continue anyway? If that's the case, you shouldn't just be ashamed, you should be humiliated.

You sicken me.

If this was history class, it would be okay to cover this ancient story, you'd get top marks. Oh wait, no you wouldn't. Because if this was history, you'd check all your sources, weigh the validity of those sources, and then come to some tentative conclusions about what really happened. Instead, the media seems to be saying that decades-old military records and the testimony of everyone on John Kerry's boat is exactly equal to the claims of a dozen guys with an axe to grind, who were not on Kerry's boat, who are funded by Kerry's political opponents.

I'm sure you have plenty of good excuses for why you're covering this ridiculous bullshit.

"It's news, we have to cover it."
"If we don't cover it, we'll fall behind."
"It's a character issue."

Shut the fuck up.

You control the cameras, you control the microphones, you control the typewriters. When this kind of trivial political nonsense comes up, it is completely within your power to turn them away from it. You can get a call from the head of the Swift Boat guys offering an interview and say "no thanks." You can receive a press release from the Kerry campaign and not quote it in your article. You can, at the very least, say "here's a quick summary of the latest Swift Boat bickering, now let's look at Bush and Kerry's respective economic plans."

Sad as it is, the nation relies on you to protect them, to inform them, to be an early warning system to prevent them from being screwed. And you've dropped the ball.

Honestly, I don't expect much from the media these days, but this nonsense is just more than I can bear.

Your fears of being unpopular, of being called "biased", of losing access to the nation's elite, have turned you into stenographers for power. I have no interest in official proclamations, I am interested in the truth.

Forget the press releases and official spokesmen. That's stage-managed crap.

Forget the partisan he-said/she-said. That's all smoke, no fire.

Instead, find out what's going on in this world, then tell it to me. That's what news is.

Jake Sexton.

Posted by Jake at 01:27 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack (2)

August 21, 2004

That Was Fast

Earlier this week, I mocked the ridiculous and offensive plan to stop "violent" NYC protesters with cheap "peaceful protester" discounts. I also thought to myself, "hmm, I should take the image on these buttons and photoshop it into something satirical like."

Someone beat me to it.

[image stolen from Politics in the Zeros]

Obviously, the original's the one on the top.

I'm actually thinking of having some buttons printed up with that image. Neat.

Oh, and as an update, I will indeed be attending the convention protests. I will most likely be posting daily reports and photos to AxisOfJustice.org. I'll post them here as well, if I'm feeling particularly ambitious.

Posted by Jake at 02:30 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

"Storytime", or "Don't Just Read the Cliff Notes"

A friend of mine told me this story, and I feel compelled to share it.

It's a weekday morning, and John walks into his local coffee bar for his morning Joe. A young man behind the counter is joking around with his female co-worker, and says "Wonder Twin Powers, activate!"

To those of you born after 1982, this is a reference to two of the dumbest characters to ever grace the popular Superfriends cartoon show. The Wonder Twins were brother and sister aliens or sun-tanned elves or something, and when they spoke that magic catch-phrase, the sister could turn into the animal of her choice, and her brother could turn into some form of water. Not quite on par with heat vision or super speed, but it was enough to save the day sometimes, with the help of their monkey friend. The monkey was blue. He was a "space monkey." The space monkey often carried the bucket that held water-boy when they went traveling.

That's how most of their episodes went. Someone's in trouble! Sister turns into an eagle. Brother turns into water. Monkey catches water in bucket. Sister picks up bucket-holding monkey and flies to villain lair. Sister turns into big angry gorilla. Brother turns into an ice cage or a giant ice pitchfork or some shit. Bad guy is caught. Monkey giggles.

No, no, don't thank me. It is my pleasure to enrich you with such knowledge.

Anyway.

So coffee guy says to his co-worker, "Wonder Twin Powers, activate!"

To which John wittily responds "So who's the bucket of water?"

Silence.

Timidly, coffee boy says "I-I'm Sean."

Folks, there's a moral to this story. If you're going to make pop references, know what the fuck you're referring to. Otherwise, you'll look stupid, like Sean, and get written about on some stranger's webpage. Truly a fate worse than death.

Posted by Jake at 02:15 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

August 20, 2004

Sunset Junction, What's Your Function?

This weekend, Silverlake presents its big yearly street festival called Sunset Junction. It's just like your regular boring street fair of booths selling crafts and crap, but with one important difference: lots of musical performances by excellent, and often well-known, rock bands. The fair allegedly requires a $10 donation for entry, but those hip to city law tell me that no one can make you pay for a public event on public grounds. So technically, it's free.

And, for the third year running, Kill Radio will have a booth at the show. Stop by, say hello, pick up free stuff, possibly buy non-free stuff, spit on your favorite DJs, whatever. I won't be there, however, as I am headed down to San Diego to celebrate my dad's birthday with him. Well, maybe I'll make it back by late Sunday.

I'm looking at the performance schedule, and it's mostly bands I'm only vaguely familiar with. But I'll make some recommendations based on what I know:

Saturday
1:30pm- Dengue Fever. I haven't heard them, but their Cambodian lead singer was imprisoned during some nonsense "homeland security" sweeps, and they probably deserve a little love for that alone.
2:15pm- Giant Drag. Garage rock meets Mazzy Star. Kinda. Frequent guests on Kill Radio's Get the Fuck Up show.
9:30pm- The Donnas. If you think you'd enjoy young women singing your favorite Ramones or AC/DC songs, you'll enjoy the Donnas.

Sunday
1pm- Cuahtemoc. I believe I saw these guys perform at the farmworker protest outside Taco Bell headquarters this year, but I get my bands named after multi-syllabic Aztec gods confused. If these guys are who I think they are, they're pretty good. Political hardcore from the real OC.
2:15pm. Your Enemies Friends. Hip rock meets noisy roll.
3:30pm- Very Be Careful. I wouldn't've known what to call this style of music till I looked it up. Vallenato. "Indigenous Colombian melodies on accordion over african rhythms." All I know is that they somehow turn traditional, folksy latino tunes into party music.
5pm- Sweet and Tender Hooligans. Popular Smiths cover band. You like the Smiths. See them.
7:15pm- Camper Van Beethoven. One of my favorite bands, period. Back in the 80s they were called "college radio darlings", alternative rock when that term meant something. Sweet meanderings between pop, punk, folk and country.
8:30pm- X. LA punk legends for like 700 years. But in a good way.

Enjoy the show.

Posted by Jake at 09:53 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 18, 2004

And Then They Came For...

NYPD to Shadow 56 Protesters Believed Most Dangerous

If this article is accurate (and I can't help but notice that there aren't really any specific sources mentioned in it), a few hundred NYPD officers are going to leave NY, and spy on activists in Boston, DC, North Carolina and California. And the NYPD has been spying on activist groups for almost 2 years now.

Supposedly, 56 "primary anarchists" (what the hell does that mean?) are going to be assigned 7 officers to spy on them 24 hours a day.

I could continue to analyze the article, but as I said, there's not much sourcing there. Buuuuuut the surveillance of activists is going on, especially anarchists, who have apparently become our nation's new (non-Islamic) boogymen.

Posted by Jake at 10:00 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Clean Sweep

It shouldn't come as a surprise, but many of Manhattan's homeless have gone missing as the weeks have been leading up to the Republican convention.

The article above does not give much in the way of specifics, but history shows us that it's fairly common for law enforcement to drive such "undesirables" out of a city in the name of tourism just before a major local event. The article does mention that a number of the services that these folks have come to rely on are being shut down or curtailed thanks to the convention.

I'd guess the homeless exodus is a combination of arrests, police harassment, and voluntary departure to avoid trouble and continue surviving.

Posted by Jake at 11:10 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

A Bit Out of Touch

Mayor Bloomberg of New York City, in an attempt to quell potential violence, or try a new tourism strategy, or grab some free publicity, has announced that RNC protesters who agree to wear "I am a peaceful protester"-style buttons, will get discounts at restaurants and museums and such around the city.

Huh?

Do I even need to point out the ways in which this is idiocy?

"Thanks for visiting our police state! In exchange for surrendering your right to free speech and right to assemble, get $2 off your next purchase at Applebee's!"

Posted by Jake at 08:08 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

August 17, 2004

More Goss Bashing

This is a little scary.

Until recently, new CIA head Porter Goss was member of the House of Representatives. And back in June, Goss proposed a new bill that would increase the power of the CIA head (take that, ESP skeptics!).

The creepy bit is that the Goss bill would change the legal description of the position, taking the existing text which prohibits the CIA from "exercis[ing] police, subpoena, or law enforcement powers within the United States," and adding "except as otherwise permitted by law or as directed by the president."

See, the CIA is supposed to be about American intelligence outside the country, and can't operate inside the country on American citizens. But as I understand it, the Goss bill would violate US law, if the president asked them to. As one fellow put it, "This language on its face would have allowed President Nixon to authorize the CIA to bug the Democratic National Committee headquarters."

[via Political Animal]

Posted by Jake at 10:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Coming to an Eduplex Near You

Morgan Spurlock, creator of Super Size Me, has announced that the DVD version of his film will be released soon. But more interesting to me, he has also announced the Super Size Me School Tour. This fall, Spurlock will "take the Super Sized message on the road to colleges, high schools, junior highs and elementary schools. I want parents, teachers and students to start examining how they can act locally to shift the current obesity trends that are running rampant in our country."

And to top it all off, you can try to get Spurlock to bring his travelin' show to your own school:

"If you would like me to visit your school, please contact Sean Lawton at Keppler Associates: (703) 516-4894 or SJL@kepplerassociates.com"

Coolio.

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

Grim Q&A

Prof. Juan Cole recently did an online chat for the Washington Post, answering many questions about the Iraq war and the war on terrorism. I put a lot of stock in his analyses, because he really seems to know his stuff, and he understands and takes into account the many complexities of the various factions, cultures, movements and governments of the Middle East.

The transcript of Cole's online chat is at the link above. It's good. Nearly all the questions are fairly in-depth, and most deal with the current siege on Najaf and Muqtada al-Sadr.

Two rather grim passages stand out for me among Cole's replies:

"I'd say there is a 50/50 chance of the Iraqis tossing the U.S. out of their country within the next two years."

and

[The recent US attack on Najaf] is ... among the most stupid political moves any military has ever made. The War on Terror requires winning hearts and minds. The attack on Najaf has made all the Shiites in the world furious at the U.S. It doesn't matter whether that is fair or not, it is the way it is. And it is highly undesirable, and our grandchildren may be living with the effects of it.
Posted by Jake at 09:23 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 16, 2004

Nuance

The Bush campaign has many ways that it would like to characterize John Kerry, and one of those is that he is flip-floppy, "nuanced" and "French." Pausing to think and consider the other side, pondering the possibilty that you might actually be wrong, or changing your mind, is weak. And if you're weak, you're a faggot. And if you're a faggot, you're a girl, and there's nothing worse than being a girl (but if you are an actual girl, you shouldn't try to be a man, cuz that would be wrong).

This is quite different from Bush, who is strong and bold. He makes the wrong decision without delay, and following through and refusing to admit error, until every last passenger is killed in his train wreck.

Sadly, the media seems to be buying into Bush's spin. A Thursday NY Times headline read "For Now, Bush's Mocking Drowns Out Kerry's Nuanced Explanation of His War Vote" (note: the web headline appears to have been editted from its original version, and now reads "Bush's Mocking Drowns Out Kerry on Iraq Vote").

I'll admit, I was confused a bit by Kerry's position at first. After months of criticizing Bush's war, I naturally assumed that if he had it all to do over again, that he would not have voted to give Bush the okay to go to war. He surprised me (well, lots of folks) by saying that no, he would still vote for Bush's war authority. But he does actually explain his "nuanced" position fairly well in a quote in the link above:

KERRY (8/9/04): Yes, I would have voted for the authority [to go to war]. I believe it's the right authority for a president to have. But I would have used that authority as I have said throughout this campaign, effectively. I would have done this very differently from the way President Bush has.

And my question to President Bush is, Why did he rush to war without a plan to win the peace? Why did he rush to war on faulty intelligence and not do the hard work necessary to give America the truth? Why did he mislead America about how he would go to war? Why has he not brought other countries to the table in order to support American troops in the way that we deserve and relieve a pressure from the American people?

In other words, Kerry's nuanced position is "Bush fucked up". Really, that's about it.

If we play the little puppet show of denial, and pretend that this war really was about Iraqi liberty and a dictator's deadly weapons, Kerry's position makes some kind of sense. Giving the president the authority to declare war could have helped in negotiations and diplomacy to get rid of Saddam and the weapons. In a theoretical Kerry 2000 presidency, the inspectors probably would have stayed much longer, and perhaps an international force would have gone into Iraq maybe in the fall of 2003 (summer's a no-no cuz it's so hot). The US economy would not be in (as many) tatters, and the Arab/Muslim world would have less ability to blame all their problems on just the Americans (which I guess means "terrorism for everyone!").

Actually, I'd like to think that this magical Kerry White House wouldn't've had the lunatic neocon crusaders who wanted to invade Iraq in the first place.

Now, I think Kerry's position makes him a jackass. First of all, his "I believe it's the right authority for a president to have" is bullshit. The Constitution says that it's Congress' job to declare war. By definition it's not "the right authority for the president to have." I don't know what the hell Kerry's talking about.

Secondly, this war was not about keeping America safe, WMDs, or terrorism (ironically, the war went so badly that it has become about all of these things). It was about putting a US-friendly leader in charge of an important oil-producing country in an important oil-producing region. Under this framework, Kerry's position only makes sense if a) Kerry believes the puppet show, or b) Kerry was cool with the idea of the US planting its boot firmly in Middle Eastern soil. I'm not sure which possibilty is scarier. Okay, the second one.

Someone wanna remind me why I wanna vote for this asshole?

Oh yeah. Cuz of the other guy.

Stupid fucking two-party system.

Posted by Jake at 12:22 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

August 15, 2004

Giggles

Commenter "Chesaw" makes a good point regarding my recent post about new CIA head Porter Goss.

I realized it when I was about to make an additional snide post at Goss' expense. I was going to link to this article, which claims that when mothers of 9/11 victims were lobbying hard for Congress to investigate the terrorist attacks, that Porter Goss had tried to avoid them by hiding behind his office door. I was going to mock the fellow by saying something like "this is the best that the head of America's spy agency can do, hide behind doors?" But I realized that I was trying for a cheap shot that didn't even really work. I was forcing a particular reading of events for the sake of a joke.

And that is the same as Goss' "I couldn't get a job at the CIA" line. Yes, it is indeed possible that someone who runs an organization not be well-suited to other jobs within that organization. You could, for example, run the McDonald's corporation without knowing how to work a cash register. I was aware of that idea, yet let it fall by the wayside for the sake of the punchline.

Still, I find Goss' claims that he "doesn't have the cultural background" regarding "Arabists" to make it seem that perhaps he's not the right guy for the job at the moment.

In addition, there are allegations that Goss is "too political" for the job (i.e. has done a fair amount of partisan PR for the Republicans and the Bush administration), that he won't do much to halt future "intelligence failures", and-- most disturbing to me-- he supports PATRIOT Act II.

That being said, I will do my best to avoid spin-for-laughs in the future. There's enough terrible, ridiculous, fucked up shit out there; I don't need to mislead for humor.

Posted by Jake at 10:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 12, 2004

Big Audio Dynamite

I finally finally got the archives of the radio show I produce-- "The Axis of Justice Radio Network"-- back online. It's a political music show, hosted by Tom Morello of Audioslave/Rage Against the Machine and Serj Tankian of System of a Down (what, you didn't know I worked with internationally famous rock stars?). Each show has a bunch of political songs from many genres, some discussion of the significance of those songs and artists, and usually an interview with a political activist, academic, or artist. Not knowing what sort of music you, the LMB reader, enjoys, I'd say that it's worth skimming a few of the shows to see what you think. They're all in lo-fi mp3 format. Each show's about an hour, and we have about 16 of them to choose from.

I've also got one of my own radio shows available for online listening. The show's almost two hours, mostly music (check the playlists in the upper right corner of this site), with some ranting and rambling from me. It looks like Kill Radio is going to start archiving all of our shows (in the near future?), so any of you could listen to my show without having to tune in live.

In my only slightly-biased opinion, my show is ten thousand times better than Tom & Serj's.

Posted by Jake at 10:32 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

August 11, 2004

Eyes Pop Out of Head

"It is true I was in CIA from approximately the late 50’s to approximately the early 70’s. And it's true I was a case officer, clandestine services officer and yes, I do understand the core mission of the business. I couldn't get a job with CIA today. I am not qualified. I don't have the language skills. I, you know, my language skills were romance languages and stuff. We're looking for Arabists today. I don't have the cultural background probably. And uh, as my children remind me every day, 'Dad you got to get better on your computer.’ Uh, so, the things that you need to have, I don't have."

– New Head of the CIA, Porter Goss, March 3, 2004

So... this guy says he's unqualified to work for the CIA, and five months later, he's running it. I hope they filled his brain with all kinds of secret counter-terrorism serums and microchips since then, or we're fucked.

[via Atrios]

Posted by Jake at 03:21 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

August 10, 2004

Abbott and Costello Meet Al Qaeda

Juan Cole is all over this story, and it is appalling.

The highlights, as I understand them:

- July 13, Pakistan arrests Muhammed Naeem Noor Khan, an Al Qaeda agent. Khan agrees to become a double agent, passing information to the West and spreading disinformation among Al Qaeda. This makes him (presumably) one of the only people that the US and its allies has inside the terrorist organization.

- it's a bit fuzzy, but it seems that on August 1, a Bush administration official, seeking to dispel skepticism of their latest terror alert, tells the press that they received their intelligence from Khan. The official does not say that Khan is a double agent. The NY Times prints an article naming Khan.

- August 3, British police arrest over a dozen Al Qaeda suspects, fearing that they'll get wind of Khan's blown cover and run for it. The British had not arrested these men before because they felt they didn't have enough evidence to convict them. At this time, two have been released due to lack of evidence. Five more suspects have allegedly gone underground.

So...

Some fuck-up over at the White House has cost us a valuable spy that could have helped capture muderous terrorists, possibly even do severe damage to the Al Qaeda organization. And why? We get the equally savory possibilites of political convenience, or utter incompetence. Someone is either an oily opportunist, or they're Shemp.

[update]

Half of what I said up there might be wrong. Juan Cole has continued covering this story, and says that the NY Times reporters who first mentioned Khan now claim that they got their information from a Pakistani official, not a Washington official. But the Pakistani government insists that it was a US official who did the leaking, not one of theirs.

So in addition to my possibilities listed above, there is the additional one that we have a Pakistani Shemp to blame. Honestly, that's where I put my money at the moment, because I trust two NY Times reporters more than I trust the Pakistani government. Not because I put more faith in Americans, but because governments tend to lie a lot.

[/update]

Posted by Jake at 09:50 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Vicious

Dear God!

Bob Harris over at This Modern World has reprinted an old photograph of George W playing rugby in college:

Check the caption. The guy can't even play sports and obey the rules.

And I know that we all have our weird moments where the camera catches us making weird faces, but Bush's looks really mean to me. Which gave me the idea for my latest Bush campaign poster.

Posted by Jake at 09:08 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Your Name in Ink

Looks like Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting finally printed the article I wrote for the latest edition of their magazine "Extra!" Unfortunately, the article is not online (tres ironic, as the article is about blogs and online journalism), so you'll have to buy the magazine for it. Or, you'll have to go to the bookstore, read the magazine, and then put it back on the rack.

And to give credit where it's due, there are a few paragraphs article that were not done by me, but by the magazine's zealous editor, who packed it full of even more facts, making me look even smarter. Gracias, Jim.

To any of you who've stumbled here after reading that article, welcome. I hope you'll be pleased to find that most of my web writing is shorter, funnier, and filled with more swearing, than my latest print endeavor. Fuck ass poop.

Posted by Jake at 05:57 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Monopolizing Competition

Oh for fuck's sake.

In a far cry from the high-minded ideals of humanity and tolerance embodied by the Olympics, the organizers of the Athens games have warned spectators that they could be barred for taking a surreptitious sip of Pepsi or an illicit bite from a Burger King Whopper.

Strict regulations published by Athens 2004 last week dictate that spectators may be refused admission to events if they are carrying food or drinks made by companies that did not see fit to sponsor the games. [emphasis mine]

The International Olympic Committee is so greedy (or needy) for corporate cash, that they will restrict the rights of paying spectators. "You want to drink a Pepsi you brought to the games? Fuck you, Pepsi didn't pay us for advertising! You don't like it, go watch at home on TV!"

I like the article's closing quote, from "Greek sports fan" Kostas Giannis:

"I don't see why, after all the money that Greek taxpayers will end up paying to host the games, McDonald's should dictate what I can eat in my own city."
Posted by Jake at 12:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 08, 2004

Long Shot

I know that the chances of this are virtually nil, but if anyone out there has the power to get me into the Republican convention, please contact me. I'd send y'all postcards from the belly of the beast.

But most likely you'll get my reports from outside the beast, as it breathes fire at us.

Posted by Jake at 11:30 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

August 06, 2004

Swifty Truth Boats for Veterinarians

As you may have heard, a group of Vietnam veterans have formed a group called "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" (a name I keep getting confused because at I swear that at some point I heard of a group called "Swift Boat Veterans for Kerry". And because I'm not entirely sure what a "swift boat" is, besides the obvious) that is claiming that during the Vietnam war, John Kerry was an evil, lying coward. They've even created and bought air time for a TV commercial to that effect, and next week one of the swift vets is releasing a book arguing the same thing.

Is it true? Damnd if I know, and it's not something I want to delve into much. Bush is driving this country into the ground, and I'm supposed to change my vote because Kerry is vain and made up stories to get medals? No thanks, I live in Sanity Land.

But on it's face, the whole swift boat veterans thing seems shady. Mainly because the swift veterans who served on Kerry's boat all think he's great... and all these guys who hate him were not on his boat. Seems suspicious, no?

Add to that, the fact that one of these anti-Kerry veterans has now retracted his statements. And that one of the anti-Kerry book's authors was recruited by the Nixon administration to defuse Kerry as an anti-war figure. And that the other author is a certifiable right-wing nutjob (e.g. on Al Gore and Hillary Clinton, nutjob says "Mullah Ali'Gore-ah is very proud of his new Bin Laden beard and he hopes others in the Democratic Party will follow his lead. Hell-ary is disappointed she cannot grow a beard, but her press secretary reminds us she can still enroll in flight school." Get that man a Napoleon hat).

But frankly that's all conjecture. I have made zero effort to figure out who's telling the truth here. If you want take on that challenge, here is a good place to start. And then if you want, you can jump into the fray and argue about the issue over on Kevin Drum's blog. My favorite part is one commenter's mixed, shaken, and stirred metaphor:

"All you pots calling the republicans fools ought to take a good look in the mirror because I think there's been a good dose of koolaid passed around to both sides."

It's a thing of beauty.

Posted by Jake at 09:46 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack (1)

August 05, 2004

Good Show, Old Bean

Subversive graffiti artist Banksy has pulled off a pretty impressive new stunt.

He created a 20-foot, 3 ton bronze statue of "justice as a prostitute with leather boots and a thong", and secretly cemented it into a public square in London.

Said Banksy's prepared statement:

"This is a brand new monument for London. It is a monument dedicated to thugs, to thieves, to bullies, to liars, to the corrupt, the arrogant and the stupid.

"It's the most honest depiction of British justice currently on display in the capital. I hope it stays there for good.

Carry on, Banksy, carry on.

[thanks to Indira]

Posted by Jake at 04:20 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (1)

Hurts So Good

No matter how much you hate the president, you have to admit that he's comedy gold.

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."

-George W. Bush

[via Xoverboard]

Posted by Jake at 01:23 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

August 04, 2004

D-Con Revisited

Somehow in my big rant about the Democratic Convention, I neglected to mention something I've been saying on my radio show for weeks, about why the convention was irrelevant.

The convention is about words, about broad rhetoric to fire up the voters. But to me, the thing that matters is the reality behind the words:

- What do the candidates actually want to do? Tell me what they plan to do, not what they say they want to do. And give me some detail. When Kerry says that he wants to make America stronger, what specifically does that mean? He wants to give our soldiers steroids? He wants to give all Americans laser guns? He wants to spend $1 jillion on defense?

- Which candidate plans will actually get through? The candidates may have plans, but which plans will make it through the Congressional minefield unscathed? Which will be radically altered by the end? Which will be dead on arrival?

- What will be the likely effects of these plans? If Kerry wants to give us all laser guns, what is the likely outcome of that? Will it deter terrorism? Will it increase energy consumption? Will the guns' radiation give us all cancer?

This is the only stuff worth a damn. I don't care that Kerry was a hero in an immoral war three decades ago, or that Bush is strongly opposed to butt sex. What are they gonna do, and how will that effect us all? Everything else is bullshit.

Posted by Jake at 12:46 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

August 02, 2004

El Convention

As they were first formulated in the US, political party conventions were a place for party delegates to come together, debate issues, hammer out a platform, and nominate their favorite candidate to be the party's presidential contender for the year. Near as I can figure, none of these happened at the 2004 Democratic National Convention.

And it won't happen at the Republican Convention either.

Somewhere along the line, parties realized that candidates who are chosen early and supported early are more successful than ones who battle it out till the convention, and then only have from the convention's end till the election-time to win over the public. In other words, democracy gets in the way of winning, so the democracy's got to go.

Before I focus too much on the inside of the convention, let's cover the outside.

I have already said plenty about the protest pens, and I was very glad to see protesters use their common sense ("why the hell should we protest in that deathtrap?") instead of blindly doing what they were told. You can see lots of pictures of the protests here and here. I'm not sure how the Really Really Democratic Bazaar turned out, but it looks like it might have been a fun way to spread a little political knowledge, as opposed to your standard dull march/boring speakers/mass arrest thing. To tide you over till the RNC protests, we've got Democracy Uprising, a 258-mile march from Boston to Manhattan.

And in far-off Pakistan, an al-Qaeda "facilitator and operative" was captured, right at the height of the convention. If you read this article several weeks ago, about the Bush administration pressuring the Pakistani government to find a high-level al-Qaeda guy during the DNC, to rip the spotlight away from Kerry, you'd probably find this a bit suspicious... even more so when you read that the al-Qaeda guy was captured on July 25, yet his capture was not announced until July 29-- the day of Kerry's acceptance speech. Luckily for the Democrats, the media did not shortchange the convention in order to cover the terrorist.

Now to the inside.

Conventions these days simply introduce the characters who will be the three months' traffic of our electoral stage: John Kerry- "I'm a stern ex-military man who wants to make the country safe"; John Edwards- "I'm an earnest, boyish Southerner with passion and optimism"; Howard Dean- "I'm a the thick-necked firebrand"; Barack Obama- "I'm the really cool black guy"; Dennis Kucinich- "I'm a magical dancing elf"*. I'm sure come the Republican convention, we'll see: George W. Bush- "I'm a strong, natural leader, who is truly, utterly baffled on how anyone could possibly disagree with me";** and Dick Cheney- "Now witness the power of this fully operational battle station!"***

The media this year went a little too nuts covering bloggers. It seems the sad truth that reporters think that if it involves computers and they haven't heard of it, it must be cutting edge. Of the 15,000ish media people in attendence, 30 bloggers were granted access. This is such a small percentage that statistically speaking, there were no bloggers at the convention.

For my money, there were two blog stories worth mentioning. First, the union of the Pandagon Duo. For months now, the Pandagon blog has been written by a young guy from Dayton Ohio and a young guy from Santa Cruz California, who, until the convention, had never actually met in real life. That made me happy. You read these blogs long enough, you start to like the folks writing them, and you like it when good things happen to the authors.

The other big story was the final outing of pseudonymous blogger "Atrios". I really hope that this revelation was Duncan "Atrios" Black's choice; that would fucking suck if someone else spilled the beans, exposing him unwillingly to the world.

One other weird-ass, blog-related story. Tom Tomorrow posted a personal photo on his site of Michael Moore and Bill O'Reilly conversing/fighting/something. Then, Tomorrow discovered that internet hack Matt Drudge had posted the same photo on his own site, after flipping the image left-to-right and then photoshopping it a bit to make it look like a different picture. Just a quick glance at the two photos and you see that they're obviously the same. What the hell is up with Drudge? He couldn't just post Tom's picture and write in tiny letters below "photo courtesy Tom Tomorrow"?

Apart from Kerry's official introduction to the voters of America, there seemed to be only one significant event inside: the speech of Barack Obama. He already seems a lock for the Illinois Senate seat, and based on the popularity of his DNC speech, folks are already predicting great things for him, possibly even the presidency. As I have no psychic powers, I won't even try predicting the future like that.

I did take issue with Obama's "one America" speech. I have already written my feelings that the United States is so divided by race and class and religion and geography that I don't even know what all Americans could possibly have in common. If we experience this country in such different ways, what could it be that possibly holds us together?

Now there's just the Republican National Convention. I should hurry up and buy my plane tickets, so I can fly out there, protest, get beaten by cops and pre-emptively arrested. Sigh.

----
*Why am I always making fun of Dennis Kucinich's appearance? After a bit of soul-searching, I think it's because I'm mean.

**I think the "baffled" bit will truly play a role. "I'm just a reg'lar guy who wants what's best for 'Murica. I just don't *heh* *heh*-- I mean, what's this other guy want?" It helps paint Bush as a man of the people, and paint Kerry's stances as incomprehensible (and therefore liberal and wrong) without saying a damn thing about them.

***You just can't go wrong with "Dick Cheney = evil" jokes

Posted by Jake at 11:02 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

July 31, 2004

Be Right Back

Probably no posting over the weekend, so y'all'll have to wait till Monday to get Jake's Take on the Democratic Convention.

Along those lines, Stephen Colbert's bit about his working class roots on Wednesday night's "The Daily Show" was one of the funniest things I've seen on TV in a long time.

Posted by Jake at 09:58 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

July 30, 2004

Strategic Humor

A few words from "President Bush" (video)

Okay, it's not actually President Bush, it's comedian Will Ferrell pretending to be President Bush. And it's not so much "a few words" as it is a few minutes of comedy followed by a few minutes of begging from "America Coming Together", some kinda liberal "get out the vote" thing. So you'll probably want to shut it off at that point.

Anyway. It's funny, and will kill time at your soul-crushing office job.

Posted by Jake at 10:29 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

July 28, 2004

Li'l Dissent

Funny how this isn't getting more coverage:

As Teresa Heinz Kerry spoke last night, on the floor of the convention, Medea Benjamin from Global Exchange and CodePink unfurled a pink colored banner that read "End the Occupation of Iraq." That apparently was not one of the DNC-approved messages of the night because within moments of the banner being unfurled, police were called in to remove Medea Benjamin.

Benjamin was dragged off the convention floor and thrown out of the FleetCenter. She said that the DNC was asked whether they wanted her arrested and that they decided that would not look good.

Who says the Dems don't have message discipline?

Posted by Jake at 12:20 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tongue Tied

While his name is invoked so frequently these days, I'm not sure if there is anything more Orwellian right now than the concept of the Boston DNC's "Free Speech Zone".

As shown in pictures in the link above (or in words in this article here) the Boston Free Speech Zone is a prison of chain link and razor wire, constructed by the city as the designated area for activists who want to protest anywhere near the convention center.

The FSZ only holds 1000 people, so I guess if more people than that want to speak out this week, they're outta luck. They'll have to find another zone, or another country.

The FSZ (better known to activists as a "protest pen") is largely hidden by a bridge above, and I've seen photos showing that if buses park at a nearby bus depot, that the FSZ is almost completely hidden from sight. Which is the point, of course. If the powers-that-be had their way, everyone would be good little spectators and let the Big Boys make all the decisions. Of course, they can't participate, but if they want to speak their minds, that's acceptable, just do your best to keep them quiet and out of the way.

Strangely, the mainstream media seem to be universally against the FSZ, but mention it so casually. Dan Rather mentions it in passing in a commentary about the convention, whining that the 2004 DNC is not as exciting as the 2000 DNC (sorry the cops haven't been hitting my friends with rubber bullets and pepper spray for your amusement this year, asshole). So on the one hand, it's good that the mainstream media give the impression that the FSZ is wrong, but on the other, their lack of outrage turns an story of injustice into a yawn. I am glad to see that most DNC protesters seem to be boycotting the FSZ, and was extremely pleased to see the clever action of these people, who highlighted the police state mentality with a li'l street theater.

Of course, FSZ's can't be blamed on Boston, the Democrats, or the Bush regime. We started to see frequent use of FSZs/protest pens way back in April 2000, at large scale protests against the IMF and World Bank in Washington DC. Which presumably was a reaction to the "violent protests" of the Seattle WTO meeting in late 1999 (while the violence is usually blamed on protesters, or on police response to violence, I always have to remind people that the cops attacked non-violent protesters before the Black Bloc anarchists started vandalizing anything, and once they had begun the vandalism, the cops pretty much sat back and let them).

And we probably shouldn't get too reverent about free speech either. Even though it's numero uno in the Bill of Rights, free speech has pretty much been a joke in this country till the Free Speech Movement of the 1960s. Congress passed the Sedition Act in 1798, which made it illegal to criticize the government-- only seven years after the First Amendment was ratified.

So I guess all this puts me in mind of two opposing (or are they complimentary?) quotes:

"Power concedes nothing without a demand."

That's a classic oen. It says that rights are not given, they are taken, and you are as free as you want to be.

And:

"The illusion of freedom [in America] will continue as long as it's profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater."- Frank Zappa

For more info on the protest scene at the DNC, check Boston IMC, of course.

Posted by Jake at 01:31 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (2)

July 21, 2004

Things That Make You Go Hmm...

I laughed at this for a good long time today.

Posted by Jake at 07:03 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (1)

I Surrender

Bush Says: 'I Want to Be the Peace President'

Posted by Jake at 08:00 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

July 20, 2004

Forgetting the Past

Although I wrote a little parable or something about the "Iraq was the CIA's fault" thing, I think it's important to keep reminding everyone that it's a whitewash. The Bush administration would like us all to believe that the war was noble and righteous. Barring that, they'd like to think that the war wasn't the White House's fault.

When, of course, it was the White House's fault.

The "it's the CIA's fault" line comes from the recent Senate report which criticizes the National Intelligence Estimate of Iraq (NIE) which was released in October 2002.

Problem is that the Bush administration decided to go to war in December 2001.

Yeah.

I'm very pleased with Eric Margolis' piece on this issue, "CIA Did Not Fail - The US Was Deceived Into the Iraq War". Let's quote him a bit:

The Iraq weapons fiasco was absolutely not caused by an 'intelligence failure,' as the White House and the recent Senate whitewash claim. It was not an understandable mistake made by all, as a rigged British 'inquiry' concluded.

US national security and CIA were corrupted and blinded by extremist ideology, cowardice, and careerism. The failure at CIA was not of the organization, but its leadership...

Here's what really happened. In 2002, Cheney thundered that Iraq was seeking nuclear weapons. A month later, Secretary Colin Powell proclaimed 'no doubt he (Saddam) has chemical weapons.' Shortly after, President George Bush assured the UN that Iraq had biological weapons.

National Insecurity Advisor Condoleeza Rice warned a 'mushroom cloud' threatened America. Britain's glib prime minister, Tony Blair, made similar ludicrous claims.

Many veteran CIA officers dismissed these alarms as politically-motivated propaganda. The US State Department, Air Force, and French intelligence challenged claims Iraq had threatening offensive weapons systems. Many senior Pentagon military officers opposed invading Iraq.

But the word went out: Now here this. If you value your job and pension, do not, repeat, do not contradict the boss. The president is hell-bent on invading Iraq. Make it so.

This was not a case of George Bush going about his business, suddenly receiving a report about Iraqi danger, and then leaping into action. With no real evidence of Iraqi danger, the White House wanted to invade Iraq; they were looking for a "smoking gun", and didn't mind if that gun was stretched into unnatural shapes. If you get sucked into arguments about intelligence or weapons or liberation, then you, my friend, have been suckered.

Posted by Jake at 11:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Marriage Debate Crucible

Sex columnist Dan Savage had a recent article about gay marriage at Salon which has some interesting musings about sex, monogamy and love, but I was most intrigued by his ruthlessly short yet ruthlessly accurate description of the gay marriage controversy:

The problem for opponents of gay marriage isn't that gay people are trying to redefine marriage but that straight people have redefined marriage to a point that it no longer makes any sense to exclude gay couples. Gay people can love, gay people can commit. Some of us even have children. So why can't we get married?

I think that's the crux there. The institution of marriage has already changed from what conservatives like to think it is. And not because of some homosexual onslaught, but because straight married people have changed what it means. Conservatives hope that marriage can be changed back to what it used to be, but think that the acceptance of gay marriage represents a point of no return, where there would no longer be any hope of returning to "traditional values".

Which means they've already lost. They'll keep fighting, of course, but they've lost.

[via This Space for Rent]

Posted by Jake at 02:32 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

July 19, 2004

The Fear-mongering Continues

Last week, I wrote about the recent bout of anti-anarchist news articles, trying to make the public fearful and therefore accepting of police repression during large-scale protests.

RNC Watch has written a follow-up article, examining the NYPD's allegations described in the last week's tabloid piece: that anarchists were posting statements to the internet about how they are going to try to trick police and waste their time. The RNC Watch writers searched the internet, and could not find any such postings anywhere. They then challenged conservative writers who had gleefully seized upon the story and challenged them to find these postings. Nothing. And with powerful search engines like Google around, they should have been able to find something if such postings existed. RNCW then noticed that the author of the tabloid piece was also responsible for an equally vague and scary piece about violent protesters who were to allegedly wreak havoc at a protest in NYC back in 2002. Which leads me to theorize that this reporter, the NY Daily News' Patrice O'Shaughnessy, is one of the NYPD's go-to people when they want to spread these kinds of scare stories.

Along these lines, the NYC Independent Media Center has written a report titled "Getting Used: How the Mainstream Media Helps Create Climate of Fear and Repression During Political Protests" (.pdf). I'll go ahead and print the article's abstract here:

As New York City prepares to host the 2004 Republican National Convention, a familiar pattern of police exaggeration, governmental fear mongering, and media gullibility is threatening to create protest conditions that harm city residents and the American civil liberties tradition. Since the World Trade Organization (WTO) protests in Seattle in 1999, a sad but familiar pattern has become evident in the run-up and aftermath of protests. Police officials, aided by a hype-hopeful mainstream media, exaggerate the possible dangers posed by consistently non-violent protesters. Using the climate of fear created by this hype to justify their actions, the police consistently engage in extra-constitutional and illegal behavior, such as mass pre-emptive arrests, the interference with media outlets, and brutal protest behavior. Inevitably, the mainstream press realizes the hype once the protests are safely over, and sheepishly admits its mistake.

It is the purpose of this report to document this pattern during six large-scale political protests since the summer of 2000. Drawing almost entirely from mainstream press reports, the following pages document the climate of fear created by the media and police in the weeks and days before protests. We then see examples of how the mainstream press reported arrests during protests themselves, followed by descriptions of the actual reasons for the arrests once the protests were safely over. Usually, the reasons change. We also see how the very media outlets that eagerly repeated police claims during the protests angrily denounced manipulation once the protests were over.

It is the hope of the authors of this report that awareness of these patterns will help mainstream media outlets avoid making the same mistakes during future protests.

The report's only about 20 pages long, and is certainly worth a read.

Posted by Jake at 11:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Technolicious

Yay! I finally replaced my computer's faulty CD burner, which means a return to greater variety on the LMB radio show.

No guarantees (because I never pre-select my playlists), but I think today's show will include some David Bowie, Nas, Mos Def, Dresden Dolls, Bruce Springsteen, Wayne Kramer, Tool, Interpol, Reagan Youth, Rasputina, Franz Ferdinand, Bad Religion, and others. I'll also rant about political stuff and probably play some clips from Outfoxed.

Tune in at 2pm PST.

Posted by Jake at 12:16 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Psychopath LLC

Saw the movie The Corporation on Friday. Definitely good stuff and definitely too long. It felt like it should've been broken into four or five separate parts and shown as a series, not as a single movie. And I could definitely see the filmmakers doing that someday, perhaps turning it into a video series to be shown in schools (well, Canadian schools maybe). While the length didn't do the movie any serious harm, but I did spend the last 25 minutes or slightly distracted, thinking "surely it's just about over, now."

Using the increasingly-popular documentary style of combining new footage, news footage, stock footage, hip music, campy 50s footage and slick computer graphics, The Corporation is engaging and informative. While I didn't learn much from Fahrenheit 9/11, I did learn a number of things from The Corporation. I think you'll all be surprised at the genesis of Fanta cola.

The film trots out many of our favorite lefty commentators (Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, Howard Zinn, Michael Moore), as well as a number of academics, evil CEOs and economists, progressive CEOs and economists, and activists, all geared towards proving the film's thesis: corporations are harmful. The film makes this point very well (although I'm sure that critics will ask why the film doesn't impartially present both the pros and the cons of corporations), and to my happy surprise, concludes by presenting a number of ways in which harmful corporate power can possibly be rectified. With so many political ideologies out there, it would've been pretty weak if the film had just said "vote Democrat" or "we need more enviro-conscious CEOs." Instead, the film seems to conclude that there are many different strategies that can challenge part of the corporate problem-- from legislation to lawsuits to storming the suites-- and doesn't try to pretend that a single cure-all exists.

Posted by Jake at 12:53 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

July 16, 2004

Save Geov!

When I first started up with this crazy lefty journalism thing some years back, I met a fella over the net who'd been writing and agitating for quite some time. He was very supportive and encouraging, and I looked up to him.

This fella, Geov Parrish, has some problems. He's walking around with a couple pounds of borrowed organs keeping him alive, but he's never let health problems get in his way. Until now, when sleazy health insurance companies turned his health problems into financial problems, costing him his life savings him and dropping him into debt.

Anyhow, some of Geov's Seattle pals have organized a benefit concert this coming Saturday, July 24 at the Trinity United Methodist Church. If you live in the area, I'd ask you to go to help toss a little cash Geov's way. If you don't, but would like to help out just the same, you can also donate cash online via the previous link.

Gracias.

Posted by Jake at 03:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 15, 2004

Story Time

"Henry?"

"Yes dear?"

"When our son came home today, he was very curious. He was asking me all sorts of questions about... you know." She busied herself straightening this and that. "I think you need to have a talk with him"

Henry's eyebrows jumped and his pipe drooped from his lips. "Goodness Janet, don't you think he's a little young?"

"If he doesn't hear it from us, he's just going to hear about it from the kids on the playground."

"I suppose you're right." Henry sighed. "I'll go talk to him." He stood up, kissed his wife on the cheek, and headed up the stairs to Jimmy's bedroom. Jimmy was in his pajamas, saying his nightly prayers.

"Hello son."

"Hi daddy!"

"Your mother told me that you had some questions..."

"Yeah daddy. A bunch of the older boys at school were talking about... y'know..." He took a deep breath. "About last week's report from the Senate about intellijence failures before the Iraq war."

"Yes son, that's a popular topic these days."

"But I don't understand what's going on. What happened?"

"How about you get into bed and I'll tell you all about it?"

Jimmy wriggled underneath the covers and grinned up at his father. Henry sat down on the edge of the bed.

"Well, let's see here, how to explain this... Let's say that you had a big jar of-- what's your favorite kind of cookie?"

"Peanut budder!"

"Let's say you had a big jar of peanut butter cookies, up on the kitchen counter by the stove."

"Yum!"

"Yes. Now let's say that the president of the United States came over to our house, and when no one was looking, he stole and ate every one of those cookies!"

"Hey! That's not fair!" Jimmy looked genuinely angry.

"Now let's say that sometime later, people noticed that the President had cookie crumbs all around his mouth. So the president ordered an investigation to find out why he had cookie crumbs around his mouth."

"But he had crumbs around his mouth because he ate my--"

"Yes, yes. Let me finish."

"Sorry daddy."

"So many days later, the investigators write up their conclusions, and they announce that there were crumbs around the president's mouth because cookies were stolen."

"We already knew they were stolen! The cookie jar was empty! Did the prezident get in trouble?"

"No, he didn't. The report didn't say who took the cookies, did it?"

"But... but... when are the investigaters going to arrest the prezident?"

"Well, they can't arrest him until they investigate the cookie theft."

"When will they do that?"

"Oh, I don't know son. Not for a long time, I suppose."

"But... but..."

Henry smiled and mussed his son's hair playfully. "Don't you worry. The President didn't leave you empty-handed."

Jimmy's timid smile grew. "He left me something in my cookie jar?"

"Indeed he did. After the war, the president made sure that your cookie jar was filled with the corpses of thousands of good little Iraqi boys and girls, just like you!" Henry smiled, and rose to leave.

He stopped just before closing the door behind him. "Do you want me to leave the light on?"

Jimmy didn't speak.

"I'll just leave it on then. G'nite, champ."

Posted by Jake at 12:11 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

July 13, 2004

The Surreal Life

I'm walking down the street in east Hollywood, when I see a motorcade coming my direction on the other side of the street, slowly revealing itself as it approaches.

Four cops on motorcycles? Who're they protecting, the president?

Okay, that kinda looks like a flatbed behind them. An extra-wide flatbed.

All that junk on the back of the flatbed... that looks like film equipment: cameras, lights, mysterious other devices.

Which way are the cameras pointed, what are they actually filming?

Wait, is that an SUV on the back of the flatbed?

Wow. They're filming the people in the front seat of a stationary SUV that is on a moving flatbed so that it will look like the SUV is driving down the street.

As the flatbed pulls even with me, I look in the window.

"Driving" the SUV: comedian Andy Richter.

Weird.

Then, for no apparent reason, a bird flew at my head and attacked me. Twice.

Posted by Jake at 12:00 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

July 12, 2004

Lincoln Logs

Yesterday I wrote about the uber-suspicious plans by the federal government to possibly postpone/suspend the presidential elections if there were a terrorist attack. To show how unnecessary this was, I presented the recent history of East Timor, a tiny nation who's citizens went to the polls in droves even when threatened by Indonesian death squads. I thought this example made the point quite well.

But the BBC did me one better: they reminded me that the United States did not even postpone elections during the Civil War*. Yes, in the midst of a brutal war, when the very concept of the United States was under siege, on the verge of a potential split that could result in the failure of both half-nations, the Union said "let's have a vote anyway." And we even have a quote on the issue by Cap'n Abe himself:

"The election is a necessity. We cannot have a free government without elections; and if the rebellion could force us to forgo, or postpone, a national election, it might fairly claim to have already conquered us."

Granted, this lack of postponement did result in a Republican victory. But you can't get too upset about it when the winner had such a cool hat.

In other words, if Abraham Lincoln were alive today, he'd tell those guys who want to postpone the election, to go fuck themselves.**

----

*Here in the United States, we are vaguely aware that other countries have had civil wars, but we still speak as though ours was the only civil war to ever occur. Only we are allowed to use it as a proper noun ("Civil War"). Any of you foreign folks can capitalize your civil wars, but if you try to do that while on US soil, you will be arrested and forced to do a jillion push-ups.

**I hope that this is the first and last time I make a joke about Dick Cheney's famous cursing, because such jokes really aren't very funny.

Posted by Jake at 11:57 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

More Anarchist Bashing

Sigh.

The tabloid the New York Daily News has another politically stifling scare story:

Yes, ANARCHY THREAT TO CITY.

The entire article is goofy, really. If you look at the "substance" of the article, the NYC police commissioner claims that anarchists have posted ideas for disrupting the Republican National Convention to the internet. What website? He doesn't say. How do we know that this stuff is posted by anarchists? We don't. As we all should know, posting stuff to the internet anonymously, or while misrepresenting your identity, is pretty easy. Watch.

This is Jaleel White, but you probably know me best as the lovable TV nerd "Urkel". I want to urge you all to turn into giant sea monsters and destroy the Australian coast.

Thank you, good night

(I'd like to take this moment to condemn Jaleel "Urkel" White for his evil terroristical plot to destroy Australia. Thank you.)

And even if you look at these alleged anarchist ploys, you won't come away real scared. The "threat" that this "shadowy, loose-knit band of traveling troublemakers" pose is that some of them might make their clothes smell like gunpowder to so that bomb-sniffing dogs stop and smell them, wasting police officers' time. Or, if the officer was particularly paranoid, and the place was public enough, it could result in delays of subway trains or something (although I want to re-iterate, there's not even any evidence here that any anarchists posted these ideas, or plan to carry them out).

The article also claims that anarchists plan to throw marbles under the hooves of police horses to make them fall, or to use slingshots to shoot marbles at the horses. This sounds completely bogus. Just about all anarchists believe in animal rights (it's a byproduct of the political philosophy. Once you start thinking that it's wrong to use force on a person to get your way, you start believing that it's wrong to use force on any creature to get your way), which makes it very unlikely that they're going to try to harm horses.

The article concludes with a quick history re-write, in which all of the major protests in the past 5 years are tales of heroic cops fighting devious protesters.

So, in response, another "anarchist" (no real way of knowing, right?) posted this FAQ-ish response. Here's an excerpt:

What about all those police claims of violent or terroristic behavior?

Time after time police have made similar claims. Time after time they have been proven to be lying.

Just look at the hard facts, compare police predictions before and during protests with what actually ends up happening. Again and again, police spokesmen predict terrible violence. They predict goons with molotov cocktails, anarchists setting off bombs, protesters throwing acid or slabs of concrete at policemen, or even more bizarre fantasies - during the last Republican Convention, for instance, Philadelphia police claimed anarchists were preparing to release poisonous snakes and reptiles all over the city. During the protests, they often claim such things are actually happening. But every time, when it's all over, police are either forced to grudgingly admit they were "mistaken" (the molotovs turned out to be paint thinner used in making puppets, the van full of reptiles turned out to be owned by a pet store), or they just stop talking about it and hope nobody notices that none of these things ever actually occurred.

Real terrorists try to create terror. They threaten to do terrible things, to kill and maim innocent people, if governments do not agree to their demands. Then they go out and do it. Afterwards, they boast about it and threaten more. Here we have the exact opposite. The anarchists who help organize protests in America have never threatened to hurt anyone, never claimed to have hurt anyone, and in fact, in four years of protests, have never have hurt a single innocent bystander in any way. Despite that, every time there's a major protest, the police keep trying to terrify the public by predicting mayhem, and the anarchists keep desperately trying to reassure the public that there's nothing to be frightened of, that the last thing we'd ever want to do is to harm them.

In other words, it's the police spokesmen who keep trying to create a climate of terror. We keep trying to diffuse it.

So we've got two things working in tandem here: police who want to scare the public so that they'll accept repressive police behavior to "save" the city; and news organizations that draw more audience and sell more papers when they have scary stories to tell. Gotta love the synergy.

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

Paid Hooky

Sorry, no LMB radio show today. Instead I'll be at another radio station producing another radio show, for my payin' job. That one'll air 7pm Friday on KPFK, if anyone cares. Also, I've pretty much updated my list of playlists (pull-down menu in the upper right of the page).

While we're on the subject, would anyone like to hear more interviews on the LMB show? Musicians, artists, activists and experts, I figger. I've just discovered a cheap source of phone cards, so I think I can afford to interview people by phone all over these U-nited States.

And while I'm doing housekeeping: to the people who bought buttons, I will mail them out this week. I was having some Paypal issues, and wanted to take care of them before I put anything in the mail. Thanks for waiting.

Posted by Jake at 01:09 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

July 11, 2004

Democratic Shrink

So last week, Tom Ridge of the Office of Homeland Security announced that Al Qaeda was planning to attack the US to disrupt American elections.

First of all, I've stopped believing in these damn terrorist warnings. The government always announces that they have mysterious but credible evidence that terrorists are talking about attacking a nuclear reactor or a ferry or a highway or dry cleaners or clown college, somewhere in the coastal-desert-mountain-southern-northern-eastern part of the country, next week or this winter or in 2025. Then nothing happens. They're making shit up or are getting bad info, either way I can't trust that much. Or, perhaps Homeland Security is defeating the terrorists and foiling their plans, but somehow that never really crosses my mind.

With regards to this latest announcement, the FBI is saying that they haven't gotten any new terror info in the past six weeks, so you've gotta wonder why Homeland Security is brining this up now.

But that's not the kicker. The kicker is that the government is apparently talking about postponing the presidential elections in case of terrorist attack.

Read that again.

Let's pretend for a minute that this isn't way, way, way shady (and I don't think I could pretend for much longer than that), and ponder the idea of postponing an election due to violence.

Two words: East Timor.

East Timor is a small island country that was conquered by Indonesia back in the 1970s. The Indonesian army killed a few hundred thousand Timorese over the course of a couple decades, and when there were finally talks about East Timor becoming independent in the late 1990s, Indonesia started supplying and supporting thug militias to intimidate the Timorese people. As promised, the militias killed a lot of innocent people before the election. And after the election, the millitias went on a killing spree, and turned hundreds of thousands into refugees.

Still, under a cloud of fear and death, 90% of the Timorese turned out to the polls and voted for freedom.

When I think of that, the idea of postponing the American elections in case of a terrorist attack, no matter how heinous, is not only unnecessary, not only ridiculous, but offensive.

American democracy is pretty minimal. We don't get to vote directly, we only get to vote for representatives who will then vote for us. And, of those potential representatives, we get to select one of two white male millionaires who will generally vote in favor of large corporations instead of us.

Still, I utterly reject this idea of taking this tiny sliver of democracy away. If they can take it away for a little while, they can take it away for longer. Or whenever they want.

Posted by Jake at 11:32 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (1)

New Evil Blogger

Michael Powell, pro-corporate head of the FCC, has a blog.

Actually, it looks like Powell is writing a regular column for a tech news site. But it has a comments section, which makes it kinda bloggy. Powell seems to actually read the comments. And happily, most of the folks commenting don't like Powell's policies.

Maybe you'd like a chance to try to debate Powell and sway his opinions. Or maybe you'd prefer to go yell at his punk-ass.

Door's open.

Posted by Jake at 07:01 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

July 10, 2004

F911

I finally saw Fahrenheit 9/11 this week (partially just to put an end to all the "you haven't seen it yet? Of all people, Jake, I thought you would've been first in line etc.").

When I went to the theater, there was a line to get in. At 4:15 in the afternoon. On a Wednesday. That's probably saying something.

As I'd been hearing, the movie didn't provide that much new information for people who'd been keeping an eye on the Bush administration, and as I am one of those people, I didn't come out of the movie changed very much. The "Bonanza" parody and Moore's ice cream truck adventures cracked me up. The scenes of bereaved mother Lila Lipscomb choked me up, but since my mother's death last year, upsetting me with scenes of grief is not hard to do.

Parts of the movie seemed very loose and associational, taking many facts and stirring them together until the result looked like a (blurry) conclusion. As I think back, I'm not even sure what Moore's thesis is. He almost argues that Saudi Arabia was responsible for 9/11, that Bush & co. didn't stop 9/11 because they were friends with rich Saudis, and that to prevent their rich Saudi friends from being hurt, Bush & co. decided to invade Iraq instead. And oil was involved somehow too.

I didn't like how Moore kept talking about "the Saudis" again and again in the first half of the film. "The Saudis" are not responsbile for 9/11, nor were "the Saudis" friends of the Bush family. A handful of individual terrorists from Saudi Arabia were responsible for 9/11, and a handful of rich oil men from Saudi Arabia were friends with the Bush family. The rest of the 25+ million Saudis had nothing to do with any of this, and I feel that Moore's sloppy wording implies that the Saudi people are devious shieks or muderous fanatics. This is quite unfair, as the majority of the people there are poor, and victims of their own dictatorship.

I think that "sloppy" applies to a lot of this film. It's more polished than Bowling for Columbine was, but to me, there are still parts that seem unnecessary, as though they had extra footage, and just threw it in there even though it didn't fit.

Overall, I'd say the movie ranks as "good." I think it's an important film at this point in time. To me, the film's wide attendance shows that many people in this country who don't necessarily hate the president, can tell that the stories he's been telling them don't add up. Even if they don't know or like Michael Moore, they're willing to listen to someone with a different point of view try to explain what's going on.

It's Moore's hope that once they've heard another version of the story, that the audience will feel so angry and betrayed that they'll vote Bush out of office. I hope so too.

Posted by Jake at 05:55 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

July 08, 2004

News Vittles

Incarceration, Inc.- private, for-profit prisons. When you first hear the concept, it sounds like a bad idea. But when you start digging and looking at the reality, you see that it really is a bad idea.

The Truth About the Drug Companies- private, for-profit pharmaceutical companies. When you first hear the concept-- just stick the last article's joke here.

You Are How You Eat- your standard "common sense vs. stupid diet trends" article, but its a point that really needs to be made a lot of times. If you're overweight, maybe a healthier diet and exercise are a better plan than cutting an entire food group from your menu.

Women Stage Breast-Feeding Protest at Mall- "Chanting 'Got milk,' 50 mothers staged a protest 'nurse-in' at a Houston shopping mall after one of them said security guards asked her to cover herself or move on while breast-feeding her 4-month-old son." Rock.

Do [East Valley] anarchists pose terror threat?- a somewhat in-depth and slightly sympathetic about American anarchists. Law enforcement these days lumps together anarchists and terrorists without a second thought, harassing and arresting them. I keep thinking of that quote about the Holocaust by Martin Niemoller: "First they came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew..."

Almost Six Months Later, Aftershock of Strike Still Felt in Small Town- interesting article about a failed 2003 strike in a small Wisconsin town, and the effects that the strike and its settlement have had on the people who live there.

The Dark Side of Ralph Nader- since Nader's presidential run in 2000, I've always heard rumors that despite his principled opinions, that in his private dealings, that Nader has engaged in union-busting and owns corporate stock and antagonizes his workers. No one's ever really given me any evidence to substantiate those claims though. This article does give some evidence that Nader treats some of his employees like shit. Overall, it paints a picture of Nader as a hard-working progressive who is harder on his friends than on his enemies, and who will let personal vindictiveness overcome all else. Can't verify it, and don't particularly care to, but it's an intriguing read.

FEMA worker ordered home- long story short, a couple went to a pro-Bush rally at the North Carolina state capitol, and were arrested for wearing anti-Bush t-shirts. Of course, the police claim that the couple were arrested for "trespassing."

Posted by Jake at 04:46 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Far Away, So Close

Amanda over at Mouse Words posted a link to a personality quiz today, implying that it was blogger-oriented. It wasn't, but I took it anyway. The results were fairly spot-on, actually, so I was going to post the results here. But I accidentally closed that browser window, so I quickly retook the test, presuming that I'd get pretty much the same conclusion. Kinda sorta. My first test said that I was a WEDL-- a Wacky Emotional Destructive Leader. My second said I was a WECL-- Wacky Emotional Constructive Leader. Go figure.

Let me present my schizoid self.

WEDL:

You are a WEDL--Wacky Emotional Destructive Leader. This makes you an anarchist. You don't give a damn. When push comes to shove, you just forget about it--it's just not worth the heartache. What this means for others is that dealing with you can be aggravating, because they find they can't get you motivated about things they care about. What this means for you is that you are happier, calmer, and saner then they are on their best days.

You are near-immune to criticism, and those who know you well acknowledge and respect that. You may come across as lazy, but the truth is that you find little to get worked up about. Regardless, you have slews of friends, because they are fascinated by your world view, jealous of your lifestyle, and drawn to the fact that you are hilarious to be around.

You are a pillar in a sea of hot-bloodedness. You have a sweet tooth.

And WECL:

You are a WECL--Wacky Emotional Constructive Leader. This makes you a people's advocate. You are passionate about your causes, with a good heart and good endeavors. Your personal fire is contagious, and others wish they could be as dedicated to their beliefs as you are.

Your dedication may cause you to miss the boat on life's more slight and trivial activities. You will feel no loss when skipping some inane mixer, but it can be frustrating to others to whom such things are important. While you find it difficult to see other points of view, it may be useful to act as if you do, and play along once in a while.

In any event, you have buckets of charisma and a natural skill for making people open up. Your greatest asset is an ability to make progress while keeping the peace.

LMB- fulfilling all your wacky, emotional leadership needs

Posted by Jake at 12:11 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (1)

July 06, 2004

More Books to Burn

Crossroads is the name of a new radical bookstore that has just opened up in Kansas City (the Missouri one. Don't know why you midwestern folks gotta confuse us by having two Kansas Cities, and having one of them not even in fucking Kansas). Actually it is an "infoshop" and bookstore ("infoshop" being a word that anarchists use for these spaces that are kind of a mix between a bookstore, library and community center geared toward activism and politics). According to them, the infoshop will "carry a variety of radical and progressive books, shirts, and novelties. Crossroads will serve as a space for film showings, speakers, and meetings. We are worker-owned and will be affilated with the IWW as a union shop."

I want to congratulate the Crossroads folks on their success. I believe I met them about a year ago when I was on tour with Lollapalooza. Good folks. We gave the Kansas City Direct Action Network an info table at the concert, and they were trying to raise money for their proposed "Revolutionary Education Community Center." I'm not 100% certain, but I'm pretty sure that they went ahead and created the center, choosing the much shorter and friendlier title of "Crossroads."

So congrats, kids!

If you live in that area, check it out.

Posted by Jake at 09:49 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Veep Veep

So, John Kerry has picked John Edwards as his running mate for the presidential campaign. I would have said that Edwards was the most likely choice, until I read this column, which argues that the candidates almost never choose any of the likely suspects. But in this case it was one of the likely suspects, so, um... yeah.

Edwards seems like a good choice, as he was one of the only Democratic candidates who was able to get anyone excited about anything-- the Anti-Lieberman, if you will. People got excited about Howard Dean, but as the media told us, Dean is a raving barbarian who, if elected, will storm the nation and eat manflesh. People got excited about Wesley Clark, until they saw him campaign; then they fluffed their pillows. People got excited about Al Sharpton, but for some reason, the lighter-skinned of those people were reluctant to support him... Which means that the boyish Southerner will join Senator Jawline on the Democratic ticket.

More than anything, I think we can expect the Republicans to super-saturate the media with attacks on Edwards, because he used to be a "trial lawyer." They will try to paint him as an ambulance-chaser, a liar, a shyster, a devil, an elitist, and the reason that your medical insurance rates are so high (apparently CNN has already blamed today's dip in the stock market on Edwards). I liked Juan Cole's idea that Edwards could position himself as a foil to Dick Cheney: Cheney takes your money and gives it to big corporations like Halliburton; trial lawyer Edwards sues big companies like Halliburton and gives the money to people like you.

Does the Vice Presidential candidate really make a difference in an election? Two words: Dan Quayle. I do imagine though, that the veep choice results in increased campaign donations from the folks who consider that potential VP to be one of their own. Which means that Kerry-Edwards might see an influx in North Carolina cash.

But since the VP has little power (breaking tie votes in the Senate, and protecting the space-time continuum), I think the addition of Edwards will result in an increase in populist rhetoric, but won't change much else about the Kerry campaign.

Posted by Jake at 01:34 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 04, 2004

Fourth of Jooly

It's been quite some time since I've been big on patriotism and love of country and whatnot. I was born between a couple of arbitrarily drawn lines on a map, and since I didn't have much say in the matter, that seems like a funny thing to be proud of. I do like it here. I like some of the people here, and like a lot of aspects of the culture. All my stuff is here. So for those reasons, I do like America.

But what the hell does it mean to "be an American"? The population is so diverse that there really isn't anything that we all have in common. People of different income levels, races, or geographic regions do not experience this country the same way. There are only a few tenuous things that might define an American:

1) you live in or used to live in the United States
2) you endorse values like "freedom" and "democracy" (if you do not endorse these values, it is okay to endorse their shadow-selves, like "freedom-lite" and "democracy-flavored")
3) you watch the most popular American prime time TV shows, and talk about them with others
4) you consider yourself an American

Well, there probably is one more thing that makes you an American: you oppose those popularly considered to be America's enemies. Frankly, that probably unifies the citizenry more than anything else. All the talk of anti-Americanism and traitorism in political discourse these days is really just a disagreement about who is and isn't an enemy, and what is and isn't proper opposition to those enemies.

But that's enough sociology for one night.

When I ignore the oddness of "countries", "borders" and "nationalities", I have no problem with people being proud of this country-- so long as they know both the good and the bad. If you feel national pride because all you watch is Fox News and John Wayne movies, I can't respect you much. If you can juxtapose the country's achievements and victories with its shames and atrocities, and find that your pride outweighs your disdain, then hey, you're alright.

Lately, many liberals are talking about "reclaiming patriotism and the flag" from conservatives. And the patriotism hijack really was a clever conservative ploy: they managed to successfully sell the idea that close-minded, sexist, white Christian values of the 1950s and obedience to authority were patriotic, and that anything else was its opposite. Some liberals now propose a counterattack, to shift public opinion so that liberals can denounce corrupt CEOs and proto-fascist conservatives as anti-American traitors, so that they can paint liberal agendas with stars and stripes.

I'm tired of that bullshit, of everyone's bullshit. Fuck patriotism, fuck the flag, fuck the Founding Fathers, fuck the Constitution. My goals and values are about making as many people as possible-- Americans and others-- healthier, safer, happier, and free. Whenever these goals coincide with whatever "pro-American" is, I am a patriot. When my goals conflict with that, I am sedition. Anyone who seriously wants to make people's lives better-- Republican, Democrat, whatever--, that's where you should be too.

Happy Independence Day.

Posted by Jake at 05:18 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

June 30, 2004

Heh

Our pals at the Ironic Times present the following:

Iraq Turnover Schedule, June 30, 2004

1:00 PM: Pre-Turnover Special hosted by Dennis Miller
2:00 PM: Donald Rumsfeld gives ceremonial prisoner leash to Iraqi Security Force
3:00 PM: U.S.-Iraqi Glee Club sings “Proud to Be an American”
4:00 PM: Iyad Allawi declares martial law
4:30 PM: Jerry Falwell leads the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in "Onward Christian Soldiers"
5:00 PM: Flag ceremony/Ann Coulter striptease, music by U.S. Marine Band
6:00 PM: Civil war officially begins

Posted by Jake at 01:37 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Liberated, Inside a Tiny Box

I love that the US did that whole unexpected early power transfer in Iraq this week. I only hope someone jumped out of a cake and yelled "surprise!"

So Iraqis now have "sovereignty". Well, some Iraqis have sovereignty anyway. Several Iraqis appointed by the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC), who were appointed by the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), who were appointed by the US military. So some Iraqis indirectly appointed by the US have sovereignty.

Okay, they don't really have sovereignty either. According to our friend Juan Cole, "sovereignty" apparently means "controls the government's income." Cole points out that the Iraqi government takes in about $20 billion a year (a high estimate), although he calculates that the Iraqi government needs about $30 billion a year to run properly (and an Iraqi reconstruction expert I heard on the radio this morning claimed that Iraq will need $100 billion a year for several years to rebuild itself).

The US has another $18 billion in aid waiting in the wings, controlled by the new US ambassador to Iraq, John Negroponte. This power of the purse will give the US quite a bit of influence over the new government. Negroponte's appointment is eerie in and of itself; in the 80s, he was the US ambassador to Honduras, and helped cover up the human rights abuses of that country's death squads. Makes you wonder if the White House is expecting him to do the same in Iraq...

Before leaving Iraq, the CPA also managed to tie the hands of future Iraqi government by issuing 97 edicts that the new government is obliged to obey, as well as appointing a number of Iraqis to influential posts within the government. Even though the new government is supposed to be temporary (to be replaced in national elections in January 2005), the CPA's appointees were given 5 year terms, meaning that no matter who is elected next year, CPA-friendly folks will be running part of the show through 2009.

And, as you may recall, the United States has over 100,000 heavily armed soldiers inside the country. That's bound to cramp the style of the new government, especially as the new regime has no real army or police force of its own.

Oh yeah, and the new Iraqi prime minister is pondering imposing martial law to try to defeat the Iraqi militants. As Iraq has no martial of its own, I presume the US military would be the ones doing the martialing. Which is pretty much how things have been in Iraq for months.

Smells like liberation to me!

Posted by Jake at 01:02 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 27, 2004

Achilles Heel

I'm not that interested in the story of Cheney's use of the F-word last week (the man's an asshole. Why are we surprised that he cussed somebody out?)

But apparently, what set Cheney off was Senator Patrick Leahy's "criticism about alleged improprieties in Iraq military contracts awarded to Halliburton Co.", Cheney's former company (well, kinda former).

So... if pointing out the ties between Cheney and Halliburton and military contracts makes the vice president come unglued, I think y'all know what we have to do.

Dick Cheney: Soldier of Fortune
Cheney Continues to Have Financial Ties to Halliburton
Cheney's Close Ties to Brown and Root
(Halliburton subsidiary)
Cheney, Halliburton and the Spoils of War

Hee Hee.

[Cheney articles courtesy of WarProfiteers.com]

Posted by Jake at 10:33 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Cast Changes

Congratulations to my friends Cory and Jane Allen, who gave birth to a reddish, spikey-haired, and rather adorable little girl last week.

Welcome aboard, Emily Rose Allen.

Posted by Jake at 10:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Uniter Not a Divider

10,000 Protest Bush in Ireland

40,000 Protest Bush in Turkey

Last week,

Thousands protest Bush in India

And if you read that article, you see Indian Muslims and Indian Hindus set aside their differences to scream at the US president.

[mostly via Bombs and Shields]

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

The Penninsula

I'm not an expert on North Korea, so I never said much about the wierdness of US-Korean relations. The little research that I've done on the subject says that: a) Kim Jong Il is a little nutty; b) South Korea and North Korea were starting to work out their problems until Bush and his pals fucked things up; c) North Korea seemed willing to give over their nuclear weapons so long as they got heavy fuel oil to run their electrical power plants and some sort of agreement with the US where the US agreed not to invade.

Then, there was pretty much a stalemate for three years.

Now, after lots of threats and bullying, Bush has North Korea right where he wants it. The US has proposed a plan where North Korea would disarm its nuclear weapons in a three-month time period, and in exchange, the US would allow other Asian nations to send North Korea heavy fuel oil, and to give North Korea "security assurances" that it won't invade. Quite different from North Korea's original desires.

This is a deal. For the price of a fairly worthless promise not to invade, and possibly some amount of foreign aid, the US can perhaps take a nuclear player off the board. Why didn't we make this agreement before? Presumably because George W. Bush wants to show the world that he has a big, long, hard cock. Ordering people around and refusing to even listen to what they want makes him feel like a big man, and if anyone says anything, he can just lean back and let them see the bulge in his pants, the crotch stuffed with a $400 billion military budget.

But I do see hope. While the US holds fast to its Threaten and Command doctrine, both North and South Korea seem to be quietly working together to unify their two nations. Again, I'm no expert on Korea, but it looks like the moves are tandem, with no one ordering around anyone else.

Maybe when Bush loses the election, we should have him deported to Korea, so he can learn a thing or two.

Posted by Jake at 09:30 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

June 25, 2004

Cursor-esque

Cursor is a fine news website. They recently posted some want ads for part-time work, so I applied. Part of the application was to provide a sort of real-time "be Cursor editor for a day" sample. I did mine for today. It was quite an effort, and rather than simply let the Cursor folks hog all that effort, I'll go ahead and post it here.

I guess my one regret with this is that Cursor's style and form don't jive with all of my instincts. For example, below I post some links to articles about a sudden, bizarre crackdown on latino immigrants by the Border Patrol in southern California. After the news part, I would've liked to have posted a link to the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, an organization that is reaching out to these immigrants who are suddenly facing possible penalties and deportation, or mention that LA Spanish language talk radio station KWKW (1300 AM) is allegedly giving updates on locations where the Border Patrol is or may raid. But I know Cursor well enough to know that that would not be appropriate to their format. So you get it here.

Anyhow, onto the Jake/Cursor sample. I hope it's good, some of it was done on very little sleep.

---
25 June 2004

Two inside looks at the Iraqi resistance: Asia Times interviews a group of ex-Ba’athist generals who claim that the insurgency was planned long before the war began, and a Guardian reporter talks to resistance fighters on the frontlines in Kerbala, Falluja and Sadr City.

The United States is reportedly taking a softer stance in its disarmament negotiations with North Korea. The proposal would provide North Korea with security assurances and heavy fuel oil, but may have been jeopardized by North Korea’s threat to proceed with nuclear testing.

Colin Powell will visit Sudan next week to pressure the government to end the seemingly genocidal violence taking place in the western part of the country. Also: aid workers in the Sudanese capital accuse the government of blocking food supplies to the region to starve the people there.

Although the Supreme Court has ruled that Vice President Dick Cheney does not need to turn over secretive documents about his 2001 Energy Task Force, he still seems to be feeling some strain.

In other White House legal news, George W. Bush was interviewed as part of the Valerie Plame leak investigation, and Ted Olson resigns as Solicitor General.

A Los Angeles Times editorial discusses a recent, surprising crackdown on illegal immigrants, mostly latinos, by the Border Patrol. Several hundred have been arrested, and thousands are keeping to their homes in fear. Local organizations claim that these new tactics are nothing more than racial profiling.

A federal appeals court repealed the FCC’s 2003 media ownership rule changes, which allowed single companies to own significantly more media outlets in a single market.

Media Matters reports on the first broadcast of NRANews.com, a new conservative talk radio program produced by the National Rifle Association, which featured call-ins from Oliver North and G. Gordon Liddy; the NRA claims that this makes that they are a "media organization", not an "advocacy organization" and therefore are not subject to many campaign finance restrictions.

Latest article by muckraker Greg Palast finds that one million African-American votes went uncounted in the 2000 election. He blames this the "spoilage game," where some voters are given the chance to correct errors in the "spoiled" ballots, and others are not…

The Blogging of the President examines more than half a dozen single-factor methods of predicting the outcome of the 2004 election

Al Gore gave a speech yesterday accusing the Bush administration of "intentionally misleading" the American people about terrorism and Iraq. Republicans respond by announcing the "Coalition of the Wild-Eyed", releasing a montage of video footage suggesting that John Kerry and his fellow Democrats are crazed, irrational and angry.

After the release of his new book, the right-wing bashes Bill Clinton’s immorality all over again. But at the same time, liberal bloggers are now seizing on the revelations about Republican senator Jack Ryan, who tried to convince his wife to have sex with him in front of strangers at sex clubs, and are doing some bashing of their own.

President Bush gives an interview to Irish TV station RTE in which he argues that the war on Iraq has not inspired any acts of terrorism, that the world is "becoming a safer place", and that the torture at Abu Ghraib prison was the work of "a few soldiers."

Although still stressing abstinence and morality above all, Bush admits that condom use can help prevent the spread of AIDS.

Fahrenheit 9/11 breaks records in New York, wins over critics, and inspires a conservative counter-film festival in Dallas.

Posted by Jake at 09:15 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Nicks

Read a fun review of reviews of the new Clinton book. I got a good chuckle when the blogger referred to a popular blow-dried Fox News host as "Sean 'I Have No Soul' Hannity". But that can be shortened into a better nickname. "Hannity the Soulless." Has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?

I admit, the nickname doesn't really fit his personality. Hannity is, more than anything else, smug. He's arrogant too, but more smug. So smug that if you touched him with a tree branch, the power of his smugness would set it ablaze.

So Hannity is smug, arrogant, and not overly bright. But perhaps his most profitable trait is his ability to live in the now. Is what he's saying different from what he said yesterday? Is he ignoring important historical facts? Did he forget what his opponent said just ten seconds ago? Is what he's saying now going to bite him in the ass in a few days? None of that matters to Sean "In the Now" Hannity. As long as he can stay firmly, myopically, eerily in the present, none of that can touch him.

All the same, I still like the name "Hannity the Soulless." I might spend the rest of the day trying to think up fun nicknames for our conservative friends.

Or, hopefully, I might not.

Posted by Jake at 08:55 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

June 23, 2004

Interesting/Appalling

The New Blue Gold- interview with makers of "Thirst", a new documentary about corporate attempts to privatize the world's water supply.

The end of violence?- possible good news about the ongoing and ignored genocide in western Sudan. The Sudanese government has finally agreed to crack down on the militias doing the killing. Sadly, this sentence sums up where we stand: "It remains to be seen whether the Sudanese government can effectively curb the killing, or even whether it is sincere."

1 million black votes didn't count in the 2000 presidential election- according to Greg Palast, 1.9 million ballots were not counted in the 2000 election, and over half of those 1.9 million were ballots cast by African-Americans. He describes a system in which many ballots are "spoiled", when voters make extra marks on the voting paper; in predominantly white counties, voters are often given a chance to redo their messed up ballots, while in predominantly black counties, they aren't.

[edit]

I should mention that in the SF Chronicle, where I found the article, printed this article on page E-3 of the Sunday edition. I have only seen the online version, but that seems to fit the definition of "burying a story".

[/edit]

Left Behind- for some reason, American Christianity largely allies itself with the right wing. But this article argues that there might be a shift, that the National Association of Evangelicals, a religious organization representing tens of millions, wants to take a step back and analyze their political decisions instead of automatically throwing in with the Republicans.

A Marketer's Dream: Your Cell Phone- advertisers will soon ruin your life by sending spam text messages to your cell phone.

Microsoft Research DRM talk- transcribed talk with humor and plain English, explaining to Microsoft why the company's copyright protection efforts are not only doomed to failure, but is a terrible idea in and of itself.

Posted by Jake at 10:57 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Celebrity Poker

Ah, sweet satire.

Fictional poker game with Dick Cheney yields comical results. A veritable who's who of politicians and pundits are skwered.

I think my favorite bit was the line from Alan Colmes.

Go read, you'll see what I'm talking about.

Posted by Jake at 12:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Repetition

All roads lead to desperate.

[via Xoverboard, who remarks "You keep saying that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."]

Posted by Jake at 01:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 22, 2004

Speed Reading

So Bill Clinton's book of memoirs has just been released, and I'm sure it will be all the rage on the talk TV and talk radio circuit. But the thing's 900 freakin pages long! How many of these pundits do you think will make sure to read the book before giving their opinion of it? How many will say "I haven't read the book yet, but it seems that..." to preface their comments?

And how many will just read the snippets from a one-page press release and their party's talking points for the day and figure that that's all they need?

Fuckers.

I'm baffled by this book anyway. I don't want to read it, and I can't think of any reason that anyone else would want to.

Posted by Jake at 09:31 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Recap

Seems like now might be a good time for us all to re-pass around Ugga Bugga's Quotes on Al Qaeda, what with all the "we never said that" stuff coming from Cheney & co.

Ugga Bugga's list is a small database of quotes from Bush administration officials asserting links between Iraq and Al Qaeda. Unfortunatley, the list is limited almost entirely to quotes of 2002, but it's a good start.

If someone's got a more complete list, let's get that passed around. We know that when something's popular in the blogosphere, it sometimes breaks into the liberal areas of the mainstream media, to the TV debate shows, and then sometimes into mainstream news coverage. Let's make some ripples.

[update]

David D reminds me of a much richer database, Iraq on the Record, commissioned by Democratic Congressman Henry Waxman

[/update]

Posted by Jake at 09:22 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Whoops

Sorry for abandoning the LMB radio show yesterday. I was busy coping with a fairly nasty case of food poisoning, and figured that perhaps y'all wouldn't appreciate your sarcastic political commentary with a side of audio dry heaves. Well, that, and I completely felt like shit and just wanted to stay curled up in a little ball in bed.

But some tips on coping with food poisoning:

1) Keep hydrated, but drinking Gatorade and sports drinks is probably not the best way. From what I've read, those drinks have so much sugar in them that they could actually prolong the food poisoning symptoms.

2) Instead, you should go for spefically made for rehydration, like Pedialyte. The cherry flavor of which is pretty nasty, I've discovered.

3) A dietician friend of mind also recommended taking charcoal pills, as they are good at absorbing toxins in the digestive system.

Today I feel great. Not really, but I feel normal, and compared to how I felt most of this weekend, I may as well be high.

Posted by Jake at 09:15 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 19, 2004

Lies Lies Lies Lies Lies

It began Monday. Dick Cheney was giving a speech at the conservative Florida think tank The James Madison Institute. As part of his speech, he announced that Saddam Hussein "had long-established ties with Al-Qaida." I can't say for sure if Cheney was telling the truth, because I don't know what exactly he means by "ties". If he means "insinutations and wisps of unsupported fact," then yes, there are long established "ties" between the two. But, I'm pretty sure he meant for his audience to interpret his words to mean "Saddam Hussein and Al Qaida are a bunch of dirty Arabs who are working together to kills us all, destroy our freedom, and grope our white virginal daughters." In which case, he was throwing monster fibs.

On Wednesday, the 9/11 investigation commission announced that there was no credible evidence that Iraq and Al-Qaida worked together to plan the 9/11 attack, and said that it looked like Al-Qaida had tried to form a relationship with Iraq, but that Iraq had turned them down. So while there may be a history of "ties" and "contacts" between the groups, the commission confirms what many of us skeptics had been fairly certain of for quite some time: that the Saddam [heart] Osama stuff is and always was, bullshit.

At this point, one would expect the Bush administration to engage in some fancy misdirection and backpedaling to avoid looking like fools. To my surprise, they didn't.

Quoth President Dumbass:

The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al-Qaida is because there was a relationship between Iraq and al-Qaida.

Bush's logic will come as joyous news to stalkers worldwide: when you ask a girl out and she says no, that's okay, because now you have a "relationship."

Then Cheney went kinda ballistic, blaming the E-vil press corps for "fuzzing up" the distinction between "Iraq-Al-Qaida links" and "Iraq-9/11 links." Hey, you started this "fuzzing up" game, asshole, don't start bitching to us when it turns on you. Jesus, what a waste of a pacemaker battery.

My favorite is the defensive lie of Condoleezza Rice:

"What I believe the 9-11 commission was opining on was operational control, an operational relationship between al Qaeda and Iraq which we never alleged," Rice said in an interview with National Public Radio...

"Operational control to me would mean that he (Saddam) was, perhaps, directing what al Qaeda would do"...

Vice Chairman [of the commission] Lee Hamilton said he was unaware of anyone ever claiming that Saddam had directed al Qaeda.

So Rice tries to cleverly redefine what the 9/11 commission meant, and is corrected by a member of the commission. That's fun.

And finally, let's get to Vladimir Putin:

President Vladimir V. Putin said Friday that Russia gave intelligence reports to the Bush administration suggesting that Saddam Hussein's government was preparing terrorist attacks in the United States or against American targets overseas.

If true, that would certainly bolster the Bush administration's credibility.

But:

But officials at the State Department expressed surprise, saying they knew of no such information from Russia.

Could Putin have made this up to support Bush, a man who supports Putin's own war on the Chechen insurgents? Nah.

Posted by Jake at 03:16 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

June 17, 2004

Skeletor Revealed

Wow.

Rumsfeld ordered prisoner held off the books:

Pentagon officials tell NBC News that late last year, at the same time U.S. military police were allegedly abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld ordered that one Iraqi prisoner be held "off the books" — hidden entirely from the International Red Cross and anyone else — in possible violation of international law.

It’s the first direct link between Rumsfeld and questionable though not violent treatment of prisoners in Iraq.

The Iraqi prisoner was captured last July as deadly attacks on U.S. troops began to rise. He was identified as a member of the terrorist group Ansar al Islam, suspected in the attacks on coalition forces.

Shortly after the suspect’s capture, the CIA flew him to an undisclosed location outside Iraq for interrogation. But four months later the Justice Department suggested that holding him outside Iraq might be illegal, and the prisoner was returned to Iraq at the end of October.

That’s when Rumsfeld passed the order on to Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, commander of U.S. troops in Iraq, to keep the prisoner locked up, but off the books.

So the US took this guy prisoner, made no record of it, sent him to be interrogated in the US, but got scared that doing that was a violation of international law. Then they sent him back to Iraq, hid him from the Red Cross, and then, um, lost him.

If there was no "violent treatment", why was the military so keen on hiding this guy from the Red Cross? The most reasonable and benign explanation would be that the military was trying to cover up their prisoner's trip to the US by hiding him from legal monitors like the IRC.

Or, the military beat the fuck out of him and didn't want to get caught. Either way.

But if these "Pentagon officials" are for real, violations of the Geneva Convention and possibly orders about torture itself go all the way to the White House, to Bush's Secretary of Defense.

Honestly, this almost sounds made up. How could the head of the US military, with its hundreds of bases and millions of personnel, be such a micro-manager? "After you hide the prisoner, take care of that machine gun cache in that ditch next to Imam al-Mehdi Street. And then fill up the all soap dispensers in the bathrooms at Camp X-Ray."

But if it's true, and Rumsfeld was directly involved with authorizing torture, or at least ordering violations of the Geneva Convention...

And since you've read this whole article so patiently, you deserve the kicker:

Pentagon officials still insist Rumsfeld acted legally, but admit it all depends on how you interpret the law.

Indeed.

[correction]

A commenter has pointed out that I misread the article a bit and that the prisoner was just taken "outside Iraq", not necessarily to the United States.

[/correction]

[update]

Rumsfeld now seems to be blaming the whole thing on George Tenet.

[/update]

Posted by Jake at 12:46 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (1)

June 16, 2004

That Explains His Obession with Oil

Shocking CIA Leak Reveals DICK CHENEY IS A ROBOT!

This is good news. I haven't read the Constitution in a while, but I'm pretty sure it specifies that the Vice President has to be a human. Which means we can ditch this Cheney chump. Then, all we have to do is prove that the President is some sort of squash or turnip creature, then we're set.

[via Politics in the Zeros]

Posted by Jake at 12:29 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

June 15, 2004

Touching Evil

One of the hallmarks of the LMB site is my tradition of announcing that I'm going to do something, and then not doing it.

I announced that last week was going to be "pop culture week" on the site, where I would write about various films and books and whatnot, politically and otherwise. Didn't happen.

So only a week late, I'm getting started. This one ain't so political.

Touching Evil is a newish cop drama on the USA Network. I like to say that it takes place in an "alternate reality San Francisco", because their version of the city is like 80% serial killers. And every week, the members of a special serial killer-catching police force get inside the head of a different serial killer and catch them. That sounds a bit common, of course, but it has several differences from the average cop drama.

The first difference is the show's gimmick. The main character was a brilliant detective who was shot in the head, put into a coma, and has only recently returned to work. He's come back with brain damage, which has ruined many of his social skills and have set his emotions to Intense mode most of the time. We see the extremity of his life and job, and watch him express the grief, fury, and joy it creates. He's a passionate, pained, goofy, loving, unpredictable fellow. Which again, sounds generic, but it works.

The second enjoyable aspect of the show is its tone and atmosphere. The show's music is muffled, melancholy and dreamy, all kinda stolen from the Nine Inch Nails song "A Warm Place" (which in itself was pretty much a theft of David Bowie's song "Crystal Japan"). This music matches nicely with the sequences that go between the main story. These scenes are beautiful time lapse images of San Francisco: glaciers of fog storming the bay with a quickness; city streets streaked with speeding tail lights; sunlight rising and falling on the Golden Gate. In my opinion, all this serves to emphasize the show's inherent sadness, and makes the viewer a bit more introspective and susceptible to the show's moodiness.

And finally, you have the show's characters and their interactions. As the episodes progress, you realize that this is not a crack unit of hard-boiled cops: these are a group of walking wounded. Slowly and carefully, you learn that each of these people is suffering a terrible loss, and has no clue how to cope. So they try to bury it all with cold exteriors, emotional distance and obsessions with their job. With the edition of they hyper-sensitive new detective, these icy barriers soften and fracture, and you catch glimpses of the pain and raw anguish, but also of tenderness, and the possibility that maybe, just maybe, these damaged souls could help each other start to heal.

I might be reading a lot into this, but that's just where I am right now.

Of course, the show has plenty of flaws: plots that sometimes don't quite work, abrupt conflicts or breakthroughs, twists and misdirections that are a tad transparent. And there's no guarantee just yet that it'll even be renewed for a second season. All I know is that as it stands, the show clicks with me, and maybe it'll keep on clicking.

Posted by Jake at 11:55 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

News-a-roni

Contractor Immunity a Divisive Issue- the US government wants the new Iraqi government to make all American contractors in Iraq above the law. Happily, it seems like the Iraqi government is resisting this idea.

LA 'on the road to Falluja'?- unfortunately, this article is 80% allegations from a single source-- LA civil rights attorney named Connie Rice-- so I don't know how reliable it all is. But if even half of what she says is true, the situation in the poorer parts of LA are in a terrible state. It sounds as though the police officers patrollng these areas have little training or resources, and therefore respond to the community with violence and repression. Accompanying that, Rice claims that young gang members in the area are actually going out of their way to try to kill cops. Sounds like occupation and insurgency, hence the Falluja reference in the title.

FBI warns of possible ecoterrorism- the term "ecoterrorism" is one of my pet peeves. Frankly, every act called "ecoterrorism" would be more accurately described as "ecovandalism" or "ecosabotage". Terrorists kill; "ecoterrorists" don't. They usually just smash and burn inanimate objects. And yet environmental and animal rights radicals seem to be the main "terrorist" concern in the minds of US law enforcement.

I've got mixed feelings on the issue. Yes, ecovandals are destroying the property of other human beings. But what if they are destroying property that is itself destructive? What if you blew up a factory which was causing massive pollution and damaging people's health? I dunno.

This article is also funny because it shows how police are completely clueless when dealing with activists. The article refers to a "International Day of Action & Solidarity with Jeff 'Free' Luers". "Free" was an ecovandal who set fire to three SUVs. I haven't researched him much, but if the short bit I read on his site is to be believed, his jail sentence does sound a bit on the shady side (he was originally charged with a crime that would carry a one-year sentence, which then ballooned into 23 years. For fires that caused about $40,000 in damage...). Anyhow, it appears that exactly zero acts of violence took place on this day of action, and I can't even find any reports of related vandalism. And one activist message board I checked out brought up the point, that if they had been going to take some kind of illegal action, why would they do it on a day that they knew the cops were on alert? Why not wait till another time?.

Anyhow, it looks like this FBI warning did much more to publicize Free's case and promote the various actions/benefits for him than it did to "stop the violence."

City Braces for Grand Old Party- another article about the chaos that will be accompanying the Republican National Convention in a few months. The same cops who are so clueless about environmental activists are going to have to deal with hundreds of activist organizations and hundreds of thousands of activist individuals. The police will likely respond as they usually do, attempting to derail the protests with light violence, civil rights violations, and unsubstantiated pre-emptive arrests. I feel like I should attend the protests, but I'm honestly scared to. I think that NYC during the RNC is as close to a police state as this middle-class white American is likely to see in his lifetime.

Limbaugh: AIDS "hasn't made that jump to the heterosexual community"- yes, the human filth cannon is now claiming that AIDS is only a problem among American gays and "promiscuous" heterosexual Africans. Last I'd heard, AIDS was the number one cause of death among young African-American men. I guess all young African-American men must be gay, because surely Rush would never talk out of his ass like that.

Travesty of Justice- nice Ashcroft bashing piece by Paul Krugman.

When Ignorance Isn't Bliss- "Straight from the you-can't-make-this-stuff-up file, the five congressional votes that everyone in America should know about."

Garfield: Why we hate the Mouse but not the cartoon copycat- apparently, Garfield was never a comic strip, but an carefully-plotted marketing strategy planned by the cartoonist himself. Oh, and the movie sucks.

Last Comic Scandalous- interesting rumor-heavy story that looks behind the reality TV show "Last Comic Standing." Looks like the thing was unbelievably rigged. The article is white text on a white background, so to read it, you'll have to highlight the text with your mouse.

Posted by Jake at 10:43 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Let's Do the Time Warp Again!

Cheney Claims al-Qaida Linked to Saddam

Jesus fucking Christ. How many times has this been debunked? And how many times has Cheney made the same fucking claim even though it's been debunked?

Apparently, reporters brought this up to White House spokesman Scott McClellan at today's press briefing. Watch McClellan dodge the questions with the grace of a sleepy walrus.

Reporter: "What about the VP saying Saddam Hussein had long established ties with Al Qaeda?"

McClellan: "Well, um... we know that Saddam gave some money to Palestinian suicide bombers a few times, so to answer your question, yes, Saddam had extensive ties to terrorism. Next ques--"

R: "Sir, that's not what I asked."

M: "Yes it is."

R: "No it isn't."

M: "No?"

R: "No."

M: "...shit."

Posted by Jake at 05:29 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Spooky

I'm not sure what happened exactly, but the back end of the blog has been acting funny today. I think I've got things under control now. I think.

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

Jujitsu

The PR firm Russo, Marsh, & Rogers has started a campaign urging people to contact movie theater companies to tell them not to screen Michael Moore's new movie Fahrenheit 9/11. I've got no problem with people trying to use boycotts and letters and whatnot as a means of political action, but there are already claims that crazed conservatives are using the anti-Moore website's info to contact theater owners and intimidate them with death threats. That kind of shit ventures into pre-fascism territory.

But, you can use this PR company's site against them. Their page lists dozens of email addresses for top dogs at most of the major theater chains in the United States. You can easily use that info to write letters of support to the theater chains saying, "please show Fahrenheit 9/11, I want to see it and give you money."

Go to it!

Posted by Jake at 03:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

You Want Fries with That?


I saw the movie Super Size Me last week, but haven't had the time or energy to review it till now.

I think you all know the premise: guy says "what would happen if I ate nothing but McDonald's food for 30 days?", proceeds to eat only McDonald's food for 30 days, and then finds that it's a lot more harmful than anyone would have predicted.

First off, I have to say that it is a good movie. Most of the time when you see a documentary, you have to put yourself in PBS mode, accepting that you're going to learn something, maybe be intrigued, but you don't really expect to be entertained much. But I actually enjoyed myself watching Super Size Me. It flowed well, and remained interesting and funny through nearly all of its screentime. I'll make the bold claim that director Morgan Spurlock is a better director than the popular Michael Moore.

The movie is much more than advertised; ninety minutes of Man Eating Burger would be a good time for no one. About half the film is Spurlock eating McD's, traveling across the country, and dealing with the consequences of his binge eating. The other half is interviews, facts, and investigative journalism. Spurlock talks to nutritionists, fast food lobbyists, elementary school gym teachers, Big Mac addicts, etc. Spurlock paints a larger picture about American eating habits, health, and corporate exploitation.

The eating habit issue is quite important. We all hear about America's obesity epidemic, which is fucking obscene, given the number of people in this world who die young and malnourished. We all know the cause: a combination of cheap, unhealthy food and a lack of exercise. But there are other factors: ever-decreasing amounts of free time; lack of nutritional education for kids; lack of physical education for kids; lobbying efforts by junk food corporations to confuse the public; and huge, huge, huge advertising efforts by the fast food industry. All of this helps alter American culture and norms towards one in which eating large amounts of unhealthy food and participating in minimal amounts of healthy exercise are quite common, and those who take a more healthful path are seen as unique and exemplary.

Apart from the book Fast Food Nation, I'm not aware of any American cultural product that has managed to spark discussion and thought about these issues among average Americans the way Super Size Me has (although this is somewhat due to defensive corporate PR, which has helped raise the film's visibility). I've been slowly trying to change my own life, eat healthier, eat out less, and exercise more. I've made a bit of progress, and this movie did give me an extra kick in the ass.

Sadly, even eating food that most Americans would consider "healthy" has problems. Meat produced in factory farms with hormones and excess antibiotics; genetically modified vegetables; meals all processed to hell with mysterious chemical additives. I'm not an expert on the subject, so I won't speak much about it, but the more you learn, the more appalled you become.

Anyhow. Super Size Me is good, and you should see it.

Posted by Jake at 03:15 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

June 11, 2004

Protest Pics

Two major protests this week. The first was the "Reclaim the Commons" protest, taking place in San Francisco, in response to a meeting of major players in the biotech industry.

San Francisco: Pics from Reclaim the Commons- pics from the first day of this week's anti-biotech protests.

SFIMC Kids Squad- cute yet optimistic photos of very junior members of the San Francisco Independent Media Center

BIO Business Forum- someone got inside the meeting and took some pics...

The other major protest was against the G8 summit meeting on an isolated island off of the Georgia coast. Amazingly, the governor of Georgia declared a pre-emptive State of Emergency in that region before the summit or protests took place.

G8: Pictures from first day of protests

Shock and Awe- protestors try to get to Sea Island. And are... stopped.

G8: Black bloc marches despite use of military to terrorize dissent- pro-Palestinian rally near the G8 summit. Note the scary police/military presence.

Success in Brunswick- let's end on a positive note. I think my favorite pic in that set is the breakdancing guy in the hazmat suit.

You can find plenty more photos at Biotech.indymedia.org and the Atlanta Independent Media Center.

Posted by Jake at 09:32 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Link Mob

A Little-Noticed Supreme Court Case Represents A Huge Injustice: The Court Refuses to Free A Man Serving Six Years on a Two-Year Sentence- this is pretty nuts. Fellow gets sentenced to two years in jail for stealing a calculator from Wal-Mart, AND 14 years for being a "habitual felony offender." Except it turns out that he doesn't fit the legal definition of habitual felony offender. So the guy's been in jail for 6 years, guilty of a crime with a maximum sentence of two years. The prosecutors admit that this is true, but are trying to keep him locked up anyway.

More Enron Tapes, More Gloating- those wacky Enronians, so wrapped up in their evil schemes, they joked about how they would destroy the state of California. A lot.

The End of Oil- talk with an author about oil, energy, and geopolitics. Probably the most interesting point (but most obvious, if you actually thought it out) is that "running out of oil" is not an issue; at a certain point, there will be plenty of oil left, but it will be too expensive to find it and extract it.

Senators Back Low-Power Radio- wow. Senators John McCain and Patrick Leahy have proposed a new bill to make it easier to legally broadcast on the radio. "'I look forward to hearing more local artists, local news, local public-affairs programming and community-based programming on low-power FM radio stations throughout the country,' McCain said." Wouldn't have seen that coming.

The Gaza Trip- author argues that Ariel Sharon's current "Get Israel Out of the Gaza Strip" plan is a ruse, and that the Israeli government will never follow through on it. There's a good chance he's right.

Posted by Jake at 08:57 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 10, 2004

The Kids Are Alright

Had an interesting experience yesterday. I was invited to speak at Ms. Bush's (no relation) journalism class at Josh Marshall High School (apparently the set for several John Hughes movies over the years). I'd like to say that they wanted me as a guest speaker for my expertise in news and media, but I wasn't. I was there so the students could get in some journalistic interview target practice. The teacher likes having folks from all walks of life come in for these sessions, hopefully I didn't bore anybody.

The kids had researched me, so there were a lot of references to stuff I've written on the site, and some of my other projects, which was a bit of a trip. The first question was about what impact I thought George Tenet's resignation would have on the presidential election ("none"), and veered around from writing to protest to media to civil rights. A number of kids were very interested in immigration issues, but I confess to ignorance in that area, so my answers probably let them down. But overall, I think I did pretty well, even synthesizing a few new concepts on the fly, and managing to insert a few subversive ideas here and there. And the students either appreciated me coming in, or were super courteous. I apologize to the fellow who tried to talk to me at the end but was interrupted repeatedly by like 15 people who wanted to shake my hand and say goodbye.

But the main reason I'm writing this is that there is something I wish I'd said while there, and some of those students might come back here and see it:

Student folks: if any of you want to be DJs or news reporters for Kill Radio, you are welcome to join us. The studio's not that far from your school, over by Beverly and Vermont. And sometimes, we're rebroadcast in LA at 104.7FM. Write me if you're interested in KR.

And to finish off my high school subversion, I'll have to recommend that y'all read Days of War, Nights of Love as an rough, elegant little work on dissent, free thinking and free living, with lots of art, heart and anger.

Posted by Jake at 01:12 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

June 09, 2004

Basic Training

Jesus.

Okay, an Army officer named Sean Baker was released from service on a medical discharge back in April.

According to Baker, during a training session in Guantanamo Bay, he "posed as an uncooperative prisoner and was beaten so badly by four U.S. soldiers that he suffered a traumatic brain injury, requiring a medical discharge" (if I understand properly, the beating has caused Baker to suffer frequent seizures). He said that one of the soldiers "slammed my head against the floor and continued to choke me." "The soldiers only stopped beating him when they realized he might be American."

But the abuse and beatings and torture at Abu Ghraib in Iraq, that was just a few bad apples. Nothing widespread or systematic.

The army admits that the beating was part of the reason for Baker's discharge (after initially denying the two things were related).

[via This Modern World]

Posted by Jake at 06:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 08, 2004

Newsilicious

Afghan children fall prey to killers who trade human organs- too awful for comment.

Civil liberties and the MBTA- "Reports that the MBTA [Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority, in Boston] is implementing a first-in-the-nation plan to stop subway passengers for random identification checks and to question them about their activities at T-stops should alarm anyone who worries about civil liberties."

Rumsfeld fears U.S. losing long-term fight against terror"The troubling unknown, he said, is whether the extremists -- whom he termed 'zealots and despots' bent on destroying the global system of nation-states -- are turning out newly trained terrorists faster than the United States can capture or kill them. 'It's quite clear to me that we do not have a coherent approach to this,' Rumsfeld said at an international security conference." Someone slipped Rummy a Red Pill.

[Correction]

Kevin Drum points out that if you look at the full transcript that Rumsfeld is not talking about the US not having a coherent strategy, but the whole world.

[/Correction]

Kurds Threaten to Pull Out of Iraqi Government- hmm, that could lead to the feared "Iraqi civil war" and the "Turkish invasion of Kurdistan" we've all been hearing about.

Women are players, too- interesting article about how the video game industry is responding to increasing numbers of female players: it isn't.

Move to Stiffen Decency Rules Is Losing Steam in Washington- without any new nipple outbreaks in the past 6 months, Congress is no longer quite so keen to continue their censorship crusade. Best news I heard all day.

Portland's time to be a village- anarchy in action. Bunch of neighbors throw a 10-day series of workshops on all kinds of subjects, taught by self-made experts from the neighborhood. These events build relationships, the relationships lead to a community, and the community leads to projects to make the community an even better place to live. Just people working with people.

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

June 06, 2004

Blogroll Call

I keep adding new blog titles to the "Obligatory Blog Links" section of the site, but I'm not sure that anyone is noticing. Some of these folks are quite good, so maybe I should highlight some of the new recruits here.

[Note- my criteria for blog links is as follows: at some point in time, the blog in question must have made me feel ashamed of my own, either because they are covering topics or themes that I really feel I should be covering, or because the writing and analysis is so much better than my own.]

Beyond Brilliance, Beyond Stupidity- sort of a split-level blog, each half focusing on either the positive or negative "developments in transportation, urban planning, design, the environment, the internet and many other vaguely related areas." Very good collection of real, tangible environmental news.

Bombs and Shields- anarchist news blog with links to important, neglected news stories, with a focus on radical resistance.

Feministing- "Young women are rarely given the opportunity to speak on their own behalf on issues that affect their lives and futures. Feministing provides a platform for us to comment, analyze and influence. " Frankly, my blog is frequently deficient of feminist analyses; I think I have to concede that I write best when sticking to my areas of expertise: media, military intervention, and quoting the Simpsons. To rectify this a little, I've linked to several other sites to carry the gender analysis torch.

Mouse Words- another good political blog that frequently delves into feminist analysis, although I think it first caught my eye because the author demonstrated good taste in music; sadly, a rarity among bloggers.

A Tiny Revolution- current events and politics, with an emphasis on being funny about it. First success: writing a satirical fake resume for ex-spook George Tenet, and then posting it on Monster.com

Posted by Jake at 05:42 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (1)

[ ]

Dong Resin wins for best blog entry title about Reagan's death:

Ronald Reagan Dead at 93. Gorbachev Rips Off Latex Mask to Reveal the Head of a Locust, Bellows 'GAME ON' at the Sky as Warheads Crank Around on Their Launchers to Once Again Point Towards Washington While Sickle and Hammer Banners Unfurl Europe-Wide

You can't beat that, so don't even try.

Posted by Jake at 05:23 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

For No Apparent Reason

Sweet.

Posted by Jake at 09:56 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 05, 2004

Ronnie's Last Ride

Big news of the weekend is the death of former president Ronald Reagan. Following American media tradition, Reagan's life will be presented as one long heroic voyage. I'll bet that Reagan treated his family and friends with love and care, and that they'll miss him to the end of their days. But that was on a personal level. On a political level, I think he did tremendous damage to this country and to people in other countries.

I was born in 1975. I was young during Reagan's reign. Because I grew up with him in office, he is what I've come to expect a president to be, image-wise: kinda old, kinda handsome, kinda rugged, kinda kindly, and kinda stupid.

But overall, when I think Reagan, I think (the sham of) trickle-down economics. I think busting the air traffic controllers union. I think demonizing the poor as "welfare queens." I think the Iran-contra. I think Latin American death squads.

I imagine in the coming days I'll find a nice comprehensive article that sums up the Reagan years, but in the meantime, you get this nice piece by Steve Gilliard.

Posted by Jake at 06:08 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack (1)

Hallelujah

Christ-rock band Creed finally heeds the word of God and calls it quits. For those of you not up to date on your popular music, this is good news, because Creed was really, really, really not good.

[via Mouse Words]

Posted by Jake at 10:19 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

June 03, 2004

Just.. a little... farther

Sorry folks, I'm back from vacation, but I've come back to a heaping plateful of work. I'm currently working on an article for publication (which is actually turning out much better than I expected. Maybe because I expected it to kinda suck) and then I have to write up the June edition of the Axis of Justice newsletter. So I probably won't be back in the blogging swing of things till tonight or tomorrow.

Also, I'm thinking of making next week "Pop Culture Week", where most of the posts will be analyses/reviews of movies, TV shows, books video games, etc. Should be a nice change of pace.

See ya in a few.

Posted by Jake at 11:38 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 29, 2004

Quick Congrats

I'm still on vacation, but had to pop in to congratulate Kill Radio's own "Get the Fuck Up" radio show for being nominated as "Best Radio Show" in the 2004 LA Weekly Music Awards!

GTFU (formerly known as "The Buddyhead Show") is (as its hosts describe it)

"A mix of band interviews, live musical performances, and prank calls, all masked under the clever disguise of being drunken fools."

That's pretty dead-on.

But they also do what any good musical radio show should do: find good new bands and play them so that the audience can hear and enjoy. Unfortunately, the handful of radio shows out there which take chances and play new music often have no interest in playing what's new and good, only in "breaking" new bands, in playing the Next Big Thing while they're still Unknown and Mildly Underground; therefore those shows are not about entertaining and enlightening the audience, they're about raising the prestige of the DJs. I'm glad that GTFU hasn't fallen into that trap.

And to counter that noble-sounding stuff above, the GTFU guys get drunk on the air, talk a bunch of crazy shit, insult each other, and often come across like real assholes. All in all, a pretty unqiue mix of creativity, intrigue and stupidity.

GTFU is up against some stiff competition for this LA Weekly award: Rodney on the ROQ, a new show by former Sex Pistol Steve Jones, an all Grateful Dead and "jam band" show, and some other show on quality college station KXLU.

Congrats, GFTU!!

[edit]

Kill Radio's lydiadeetz reminds us that other LA Weekly Music Award nominees, musicians Mezklah, Go Betty Go, Very Be Careful and Mike Watt have all been guests on Kill Radio programs, or have performed at benefit concerts for Kill Radio.

Which means we're all cool and stuff, verdad?

[/edit]

Posted by Jake at 09:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 22, 2004

Out to Launch

I'm on vacation, SUCKAZ!!

In the meantime, get your news, politics & snark fixes at Cursor, Pandagon, Rational Enquirer, Steve Gilliard, Mouse Words, Whiskey Bar, Dong Resin, and Bombs & Shields. Links down and to the right somewhere. Hell, look at all the news and blog sites named down there; I wouldn't've put any of those links up if I didn't think they were good.

See ya in a week.

Posted by Jake at 11:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Big mess o' links

I'll pull the troops out: Kerry- "United States Democrat John Kerry promised that, if elected president of the United States, he would pull virtually all American combat troops out of Iraq - away from the 'death zone' - by the end of his first term." Yes, if you vote for Kerry, the US might pull out of Iraq by the end of 2008. That's leadership.

'Significant Adverse Effects'- "Tens of thousands ... suffer debilitating health problems stemming from their exposure to contaminants in the air around the World Trade Center site."

House Bill Threatens Retailers- the proposed "Parents' Empowerment Act" would allow parents to sue "anyone who knowingly disseminates any media which contains 'material that is harmful to minors.'" The whole world must be child-proofed because children live in the world. Fuck off, parents. I'm an adult, and I like adult things.

More carnage in Gaza as the US mutters its disapproval- Israel makes war on Palestine some more.

Tuna Meltdown- I'm pretty pissed off about this one. The American Academy of Family Physicians published a magazine called "Essential Guide to Health and Wellbeing" and sent it out to 50,000 family doctors to put out in their waiting rooms. Among several other questionable advertisements (McDonald's? Dr. Pepper?), there is a full-page ad urging pregnant women to eat canned tuna fish for its numerous health properties. While it does have a number of health benefits, canned tuna is high in mercury, which can utterly fuck up a fetus' entire brain and nervous system! The AAFP estimates it made $100,000 from the advertisments in this magazine.

Material Given to Congress in 2002 Is Now Classified- Two years back, the Justice Department gave some documents to Congress which included testimony from an FBI translator who claimed that the bureau had dropped the ball on terrorism before 9/11. Now, suddenly, Justice has decided that those documents should have always been Classified, so they retroactively classified the documents that have been public for over 2 years. Could it be because they are critical of the government? That's crazy talk.

Sullivan on Iraq War, Sept. 1, 2002- blogger Juan Cole tears into popular conservative counterpart Andrew Sullivan for his pro-war pre-invasion propaganda.

Ammo Dump- simple article that tells you how to argue against people who are in favor of "tort reform."

A Soldier of Conscience- unpleasant tale of how one soldier lost his faith in the war on Iraq.

Raid on Chalabi Puts 'NYT' Even More on the Spot- Editor & Publisher tears into the NY Times for its hypocrisy: it criticizes the government for believing the self-serving lies of Ahmad Chalabi, but neglects to post corrections for the times it believe the self-serving lies of Ahmad Chalabi.

Posted by Jake at 02:27 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

May 19, 2004

Random News

Keep Off the Grass- NYC refuses to grant permission for activists to protest the Republican National Convention in Central Park. Because that many people (an estimated 250,000) would "ruin the lawn." Awfully convenient time to come down with a case of environmentalism...

Brown v. Board Fifty Years Out- fifty years after the monumental court case, America's schools are all totally de-segregated. Kinda. Not really.

Pathological Power of Prisons: Parallel Paths at Stanford and Abu Ghraib- the Iraq prison abuse scandal reminded me of the Stanford prison experiment from the start. In the experiment, a handful of college students were assigned to be either guards or inmates in a mock prison for two weeks. Things got so bad so quickly that they had to pull the plug after only 6 days. After designing one of the least ethical experiments in academic history, psychologist Phil Zimbardo went on to relative fame and fortune, and even has his own line of educational psychology videos. Here is an essay by Zimbardo comparing Abu Ghraib and his own notorious experiment. I hate Phil Zimbardo.

The Jesus Landing Pad- you might have heard about this one already. Apparently, the Bush administration regularly meets with apocalyptic Christian fundamentalists to assure them that current US foreign policy does not contradict Biblical prophecy about The Rapture/Armageddon. Good to know that our government will go out of its way to appease a constituency who's main goal is to see the destruction of mankind.

Can ‘Star Wars: Episode III’ be saved?- okay, not news, just a column bashing George Lucas and his Star Wars neo-trilogy. I'll get my GenX membership card revoked for saying so, but even the first trilogy was pretty bad. For the most part, the movies are acted and directed horribly. Lucas is a fucking hack.

Conservative Legislators Sue Gay Couple Who Sought Marriage License- a gay couple in Pennsylvania is planning to challenge the state's ban on gay marriage. To stop them, some conservative assholes are planning to sue the couple themselves.

Patriot Act Suppresses News Of Challenge To Patriot Act- yes, according to the Patriot Act, it is against the law to announce that you are filing a lawsuit challenging the Patriot Act. Just wait till Patriot Act 2, when the entire city of Washington DC will be draped in a big black cloth so that no one can see what's going on inside. Y'know, for national security.

Posted by Jake at 09:21 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

May 18, 2004

Those Who Forget the Past Are Condemned to Fuck Up Iraq

Columnist Eric Margolis reminds the Bush administration the lessons it should already have learned via past colonial wars.

- People will accept misrule, robbery, abuse and torture by their fellow citizens -- but not by foreigners.

- The occupying power will always find locals ready to co-operate and join the colonial police and army for money. Ten percent will serve loyally; 50% will do nothing. The rest will covertly fight the occupiers, provide the resistance with intelligence or quietly sabotage the occupation.

- Most of those who co-operate with the occupation will maintain secret links with the resistance. Massive defections will occur the minute the occupiers show the first signs of thinking about withdrawal.

- Tribal, clan, ethnic and religious loyalties will also prove stronger than political ones imposed by the occupier. You cannot buy loyalty; you can only rent it.

- An inevitable byproduct of colonial adventures is an unwanted, usually massive influx of people from the conquered country.

- Colonial occupations almost always cost far more than planned and produce negative earnings for the invader. Occupying Iraq and Afghanistan now costs at least $6 billion US monthly. The costs of garrisoning and running colonies usually exceeds what can be looted from them.

- It's always cheaper to buy resources than plunder them. The Soviets thought they would pay for their invasion of Afghanistan by stealing its natural gas. The Washington neo-conservatives who engineered the Iraq war ludicrously claimed its stolen oil would fully cover the costs of invasion and occupation.

- Guerrilla wars waged among civilians inevitably produce hatred for occupiers and corrupt the invaders. Torture, brutality, mass reprisals against civilians and black marketeering become epidemic, even among the best-disciplined troops. The longer occupation troops stay on, the more they become corrupted, brutalized and addicted to drugs -- so do the nations that sent them.

Sadly, the Bush administration has neither foresight nor hindsight. They're like those fucking cave fish, with big bulbous sacs where their eyes are supposed to be.

Posted by Jake at 05:33 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

May 17, 2004

Too Much Violence in Film

Six injured in Cannes clashes

Apparently, France has some sort of special unemployment benefits for artists between shows/performances, and the government is trying to cut these benefits. In protest, several hundred "show business workers" held a march outside the Cannes Film Festival. Filmmaker Michael Moore joined in the protest (wonder how popular he'll be in France when he's turned his sites to making their government look bad).

Later, about 100 of the marchers raised a real (reel?) ruckus downtown, storming and occupying a movie theater. Le Police showed up to whomp ass: three cops were injured, three protesters were injured, and five protesters were arrested.

Posted by Jake at 12:26 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 16, 2004

Sexalogical Warfare

Nice find by our pal Dong Resin.

Sex and Psychological Operations is a historical essay examining the ways in which warring nations dropped propaganda leaflets on their enemy's troops, trying to demoralize them by playing upon the soldiers' sexual fears and frustrations.

The essay reproduces and analyzes many such leaflets, from 1939 through the Vietnam war.

Although there is much variation among these leaflets, the messages really only have about three different messages:

1) If you weren't fighting us, you could be at home having sex with your wife/girlfriend.

2) While you're away, your wife/girlfriend is cheating on you.

3) While you're away, some man might be raping your wife/girlfriend.

My favorite is the series that the Americans dropped on the Germans during WWII which warn that while the German soldier is on the frontlines, their sexually-deprived wives and girlfriends would become lesbians, or have sex with dogs. Several other leaflets in that series also insinuate that adult leaders of the Nazi Youth might be seducing and raping the soldiers' young sons while their fathers were away.

According to the essay, these leaflets always seem to backfire. Not only are the soldiers not demoralized by the messages, but they actually clipped all the ones with sexy pictures for their own arousal, or simply used the leaflets as toilet paper when supplies ran low.

As a history buff with an eye towards propaganda, I find this page damn interesting.

Posted by Jake at 04:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 15, 2004

The Way We Weren't

I saw this on someone else's blog. Sounds like fun, so I stole it:

"Invent a memory of me, and write it in the comments. It can be anything you want, and as ridiculous and silly as you want. The only stipulation is it must be completely false. Then post this onto your blog so people can create memories of you."

Have a ball. Post it in the comments, the wildest adventures we never had.

Posted by Jake at 02:31 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)

"No Damn Cat, and No Damn Cradle!"

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Kurt Vonnegut:

We’re spreading democracy, are we? Same way European explorers brought Christianity to the Indians, what we now call “Native Americans.”

How ungrateful they were! How ungrateful are the people of Baghdad today.

So let’s give another big tax cut to the super-rich. That’ll teach bin Laden a lesson he won’t soon forget. Hail to the Chief.

That chief and his cohorts have as little to do with Democracy as the Europeans had to do with Christianity. We the people have absolutely no say in whatever they choose to do next. In case you haven’t noticed, they’ve already cleaned out the treasury, passing it out to pals in the war and national security rackets, leaving your generation and the next one with a perfectly enormous debt that you’ll be asked to repay.

Nobody let out a peep when they did that to you, because they have disconnected every burglar alarm in the Constitution: The House, the Senate, the Supreme Court, the FBI, the free press (which, having been embedded, has forsaken the First Amendment) and We the People.

The whole article is good, Vonnegut doing his Twain-esque riffing on politics and society today.

I've been a Vonnegut fan for a long time, although I suppose he does take some getting used to. I think my very favorite Vonnegut moment was in his book Breakfast of Champions. The story is told in a very quirky, jerky way, with lots of crude, hand-drawn sketches of random objects related to the story wedged in between paragraphs. Every time a new character enters the novel, no matter how minor, Vonnegut gives some of their trivia, some of their backstory, and oddly, their physical measurements (bust, hips, waist, penis size where applicable). Until at one point, Vonnegut busts down the fourth wall and in a seeming fit of exasperation, blurts out what he's doing:

As I approaced my fiftieth birthday, I had become more and more enraged and mystified by the idiot decisions made by my countrymen. And then I had come sudddenly to pity them, for I understood how innocent and natural it was for them to behave so abominably with such abominable results: They were doing their best to live like people invented in story books ... Why were so many Americans treated by their government as though their lives were as disposable as paper facial tissues? Because that was the way authors customarily treated bit-part players in their made up tales

[emphasis mine]

Vonnegut claims that we live our lives as though we were the main character in a novel, and treat our fellow man as though they were merely extras in our important drama. So to counteract that, Vonnegut decides to write a book in which he treats all the characters alike. No one is a bit-part player.

And that was a pretty profound thing to me.

Posted by Jake at 02:08 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (1)

May 14, 2004

Party at Rummy's!

This is fun.

Washington, DC: Antiwar Group Protests Torture in Front of Rumsfeld's House

Protesters re-enacted some of the gruesome Abu Ghraib prison abuse photos out in front of Don Rumsfeld's house. Lotsa protest pics, check em out.

The only downside is that Rummy was in Iraq, playing spin doctor, but apparently faced hard questions from his own troops. Questions like "will we be getting better armor for our bodies and our Humvees?", "is it true the military won't pay my full airfare to get me back home?", "why won't the military's medical insurance cover physical therapy for my handicapped child?", "why did you say our goal is to reduce troops in Iraq and then send in additional troops?", "why can the mercenaries carry weapons to protect themselves but Defense Department civilians can't?", and "do we have a plan for stability in Iraq?"

From the sound of it, he dodged their questions too.

Posted by Jake at 03:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 11, 2004

Vibes

My friend Naomi is going in for some fairly radical surgery tomorrow/Wednesday (I referred to her anonymously in an earlier post as "Sally"). She's become more religious since this crisis began, as one could easily imagine happening when staring mortality in the face. Anyhow, if any of you who are more spiritually-inclined said a prayer for her, or sent some good thoughts her way, I think she would appreciate it.

[update]

Wow. The surgery was even more intense than I had expected. I think they, uh, had to take her heart out, operate, and then put it back in. That was yesterday. As of the last report I heard from her family, Naomi was awake and eating ice cream. She's a scrawny little thing, but I guess she's got the endurance of a Navy Seal inside. The doctors say she's gonna be okay.

[/update]

Posted by Jake at 06:41 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)

Manna

Gotta thank Lynn, an LMB reader who sent me free stuff in honor of last month's LMB 2-year anniversary. Y'all might be hearing a little more Harry Belafonte and Bill Hicks on upcoming LMB radio shows.

Thanks again, Lynn!

Posted by Jake at 04:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sheltering Sky

Funny how this isn't getting much coverage:

Homes of 1,100 Palestinians in Gaza destroyed

According to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, in the last 10 days, the Israeli military has destroyed more than 100 Palestinian homes in Gaza, leaving more than 1100 people homeless. By their count, that makes over 17,000 people who have had their homes demolished in Gaza since the second Intifada started, in September 2000.

[via The Killing Train]

Posted by Jake at 08:55 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

May 10, 2004

Radio AWOL

Sorry folks, no LMB radio show today; I got out of town bidness.

BUT... you should listen to Kill Radio during that time anyway, because the legendary Humberto of Con Sin will be filling in for me.

[update]

Or maybe Miriam from The People Who Do That will be subbing? I dunno.

Chaos!! Chaos!!

[/update]

Posted by Jake at 02:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 09, 2004

Untruer Words...

"No President has ever done more for human rights than I have."
-George W. Bush

Posted by Jake at 05:49 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

May 08, 2004

Tortured Context

Many Americans are suddenly up in arms over the Iraqi prisoner torture, but let's step back a moment. As some of you may recall, prior to the torture, the United States INVADED IRAQ, DROPPED BOMBS ON ITS PEOPLE, AND SMASHED THE PLACE TO BITS. And before that, the United States led a strict economic embargo of the country which led to the DEATHS OF HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS WHO COULDN'T GET FOOD OR MEDICINE. During this time, the US was also patrolling the "no-fly zones" in northern and southern Iraq, DROPPING BOMBS ON A REGULAR BASIS. And, before that, in Gulf War I, the United States INVADED IRAQ, DROPPED BOMBS ON ITS PEOPLE, AND SMASHED THE PLACE TO BITS. And before the Gulf War, the United States SUPPORTED IRAQI DICTATOR SADDAM HUSSEIN, WHO KILLED AND OPPRESSED MILLIONS.

But somehow, most Americans didn't seem to upset by the rest of that. If Iraqis had worn black hoods and posed for photographs earlier, then maybe Americans would've gotten outraged sooner.

Also, it seems sad that more Americans don't realize that the way the guards are acting in the Iraqi prisons aren't that different from the way they act in American prisons. Yes, I suppose that's different because unlike the Iraqi prisons, we know that all of our prisoners are guilty, because they've gone through our impartial, non-racist justice system, that is never biased for or against anyone, no matter how much or little money they have in the bank. So the people in our prisons are obviously bad and deserve whatever they get. Cuz they're bad.

On a related topic, check this press release from the anti-prison group the Pennsylvania Abolitionists, which claims that one of the men prominantly featured in the humiliated Iraqi prisoner photographs is currently working as a guard at a prison about an hour outside of Pittsburgh.

(I highly recommend Christian Parenti's Lockdown America on the subject of American jails)

There's a lot of talk about whether or not the Iraq abuse is widespread, or was limited to just a few soldiers. Well, it certainly seem to be widespread, but it might go even wider.

"This is the new gulag" writes Sidney Blumenthal, and in a way, he's completely right. The United States has created a small network of foreign prisons that have nothing to do with law, in three countries (Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan and Iraq) holding perhaps as many as 12,000 people. Anyone the US government wishes to confine in these prisons can be held, with no charges, no sentence, no parole, no release date, and no rights. About the only consolation is that the torture probably isn't as bad as it would be in a prison in a military dictatorship.

Although Americans don't want to look this problem in the face, there it is. This is how the world sees us: an arrogant power that has no regard for other people, that will not hestiate to use violence on a whim. And honestly, although it isn't popularly known here, that is much of American history. That's "why do they hate us" in a nutshell. Americans are frequently kind, generous, compassionate people. But the fact that you help little old American ladies across the street is lost on people who live in other countries, who's death squads are armed with American weapons, who's homes are destroyed by American corporations, who's families are killed by American bombs. Most Americans aren't even aware these things are happening in other countries, yet they are being done in our name.

If Americans truly want to show their committment to freedom, democracy, human rights, and compassion, it is our duty to take back the power from these American predators. Ain't no other way.

Posted by Jake at 05:10 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Wheeled American

I have finally re-acquired an automobile!

Although I live in the drivin'-est city in the drivin-est region of the globe, I was actually getting by okay without one. Every place I needed to get to was within walking distance of my home, or of the easily accessible (and largely unknown) LA subway.

So why did I get a car?

Two reasons.

The first is that I really enjoy driving (which from an ecological point of view is like admitting "I really enjoy stabbing baby ducks in the head"). Not hot smoggy gridlocked LA driving, but exploratory drives, long coastal jaunts, cool inky night cruises, etc. Guess as a teen I fell in love with the freedom and cool of solo drives with the windows rolled down and some serious rock booming through the speakers.

The second reason is that I can't get to many of the places I want to go without a car. Which means that I either have to beg for rides, beg for friends to come out to my neighborhood, or just kinda go without friends and restrict myself to pretty much a four block radius. All of which I'd rather not.

Honestly, I think I came out slightly ahead of the game. For a price slightly higher than the amount I was given by my insurance company, I get a car nearly identical to my old one, just slightly newer, slightly less driven, and in somewhat better shape.

Now I just need to get me a nice part-time job, and things'll start being okay again.

Posted by Jake at 03:28 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Pundititis

I usually don't pick on right-wing pundits, because it's so unfair. It's just so easy. They're fucking lunatics who usually suck at writing, arguing and researching. They also often lie. I try to spend my time trying to figure out and explain what's really going on, not debating dumbasses.

But sometimes, a commentator steps over a line and you've just gotta say something. And this pundit jumped so far over the line that wherever she ended up, it's tomorrow morning there.

Remember how those US soldiers abused and sexually humiliated all those Iraq prisoners? Well, according to conservative Kathleen Parker, those acts weren't sadism that the soldiers were taught by military intelligence, they are acts of "gross-out humor" learned by watching Farrelly Brothers movies.

It's a slippery slope, one day you're watching "Dumb and Dumber" or "Me, Myself and Irene", the next you're a prison guard, wiring "pretend" electrodes to the genitals of a naked, terrified foreigner.

Jim Carrey must be banned from making any more movies. Not just because it would end all torture on Earth, but because his movies suck.

[via Pandagon]

Posted by Jake at 12:55 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

DNC2K

During the first day of protest outside the 2000 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, the police went nuts. There was a large crowd there to demonstrate, and a large crowd there simply to watch performances by Rage Against the Machine and Ozomatli. During Ozomatli's set, the police abruptly cut the power, and started ordering everyone to disperse. Without giving the crowd much time to even try to disperse, the cops began unloading with rubber bullets and bean bag guns and their usual riot weaponry. Some members of the crowd sued the city for violations of their civil rights.

Today, the city agreed to pay 91 plaintiffs a grand total of $1.2 million, but insists that the LAPD did nothing wrong.

As a sidenote, I think it's a damn shame that news stories about this event systematically forget to mention Ozomatli. They're a great band, and they were playing when this cop riot began, yet they are forgotten in all this.

Posted by Jake at 12:25 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

May 07, 2004

Well Of Course He Does

Donald "Skeletor" Rumsfeld is responding to the prisoner abuse scandal by calling for an investigation into the way the Pentagon does investigations.

Posted by Jake at 10:29 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

We Need Another Holiday Like We Need a Hole in the Knee

Apparently, today is national No Pants Day.

Good to know.

Posted by Jake at 09:14 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 05, 2004

Big News Bites

The "Good Guys" Who Can Do No Wrong- Robert Fisk blames the Iraqi prison torture on racist soldiers raised in racist cultures.

U.S. Army report on Iraqi prisoner abuse- the full text of the official report about the abuse of Iraqi prisoners.

Current Iraq Troop Levels to Be Maintained Until End of 2005- pretty much what the headline says.

Disney Forbidding Distribution of Film That Criticizes Bush- Disney subsidiary Miramax was on track to release Michael Moore's new anti-Bush movie "Farenheit 911", until Disney forbade them from doing so. Moore must be cackling with glee, as this can't but help generate buzz and anticipation for his film.

Putting NYC On the Map, Direct Action Groups Bring Tactic to RNC- kind of a funny name ("putting New York City on the map?" I think most folks are aware of its existence). Article about plans for direct action protest at the Republican National Convention in NYC this fall.

The next face of hate?- a look at the white supremacist group National Alliance and some of its members (with emphasis on the NA in Chicago).

Posted by Jake at 12:03 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 04, 2004

Yes Strikes Again

Gotta love The Yes Men.

They're a group of anti-capitalist protesters who infiltrate the meetings of corporate bigwigs to create a spectacle.

Read about their latest exploit, attending a meeting of the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation, posing as the fictional conservative organization, Society for Socioeconomic Stability.

Posted by Jake at 10:54 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Playas Get Played

This is a truly impressive article here:

How Ahmed Chalabi conned the neocons

It's long, and you'll have to watch a mini-commercial to read the whole thing, but it's chock-full of information. If you don't want to bother, I'll break it down for you.

This article essentially argues that the Iraq war happened because it was pushed by the neoconservative faction in the White House. And the neoconservatives pushed for the war because Iraqi exile Ahmed Chalabi painted them a very pretty picture of such a war's results. And Chalabi painted this picture because he was lying. And he was lying because he was using the neocons for his own ends.

It seems that Chalabi told the necons that if the US could overthrow Saddam Hussien, that Chalabi and his ilk could take power, and that he could then make peace between with Israel and build an oil pipeline from Iraq to Israel.

Now that Chalabi and some of his cronies have a measure of power in Iraq, it seems that they are making friends with Israel's enemy, Iran (including giving Iran American military secrets recently), and have no plans to build an Iraq-Israel pipeline. And now that he's gotten what he wanted from the US, Chalabi seems to be throwing in with Shia leaders in Iraq and Iran.

Long story short, if this article is correct, the Iraq war was largely due to Ahmed Chalabi tricking some White House rubes into thinking that he could achieve much of the neocon agenda. And, last I heard, the US government was still giving Chalabi around $340,000 a month.

Lotta blood on that man's hands.

Posted by Jake at 08:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Down to Earth

I was actually pretty touched by this article.

We all heard about Pat Tillman, the pro football player who turned down a lucrative sports career to go fight in Afghanistan. He was lauded as a mythic hero by just about everybody.

But this article about Tillman's funeral depicts him not as Captain America, but as a man, a brother, a thinker, a friend.

Strangely, the death of a man seems so much more tragic than the death of a hero. The politics fade, the stories drift and all that's left are people and pain.

Posted by Jake at 05:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

PSA

Note to folks who bank with Washington Mutual: your bank is trying to screw you.

Washington Mutual has plans to sell your personal information to both their business affiliates and third party companies, unless you tell them not to. They included a notice to this effect in your latest bank statement. Gotta love how instead of asking your permission, they assume your permission, and if you don't want to be inundated with even more junk mail and credit card offers and shit, that the burden is placed on you.

Assholes.

Anyhow, if you don't want them to sell your info, call this number and follow the bouncing menu ball: 1-800-533-3534. I think you want option #3.

[update]

Actually, I just called that number again, hit '0' to talk to a person, and filed a complaint. It could've just been then humoring me, but the lady I spoke with said that if enough people filed complaints, the corporate office might take notice.

[/update]

Posted by Jake at 03:54 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

New Kids on the Blog

Oh god, I hate myself for that title.

David Brock used to be a Republican hitman, smearing and sliming anyone who got in the way of the conservative agenda. He's allegedly the one behind the anti-Anita Hill campaign during Clarence Thomas' nomination for the Supreme Court. But in the past few years, he apparently changed sides, seeing the error of his ways (or at least pretending to, I don't know). He wrote an expose of how the right-wing worked, and now he has a new project: Media Matters for America.

Media Matters is a new website which analyzes, documents, and critiques the craziness of America's right wing media (from a liberal perspective, of course). At first, I thought this was a rather pointless endeavor, but after reading Brock's rationale, I do see some utility for the project.

First of all, right-wing media is ignored by pretty much everyone who's not super right-wing, which means that they can lie and distort with impunity. The MM project will drag all this into the light of day, both so non-conservatives can see it and so that the claims made in this media can be challenged. This will let the general public see what krazy things are being said in this arena, and perhaps force the right-wing audience to see another side to the story.

Second, it simply documents such media. Much of the supercharged conservative rhetoric is done in the fairly ephemeral media of radio and television. Which means that unless someone records the A/V or makes a transcript, the only people who ever hear these words are the audience tuned in at that very moment. This makes these can lead to pundits being quite irresponsible, knowing that they can rarely be held accountable for the things that they say. And this can have serious repercussions: David Neiwert makes a compelling case that some of these right-wing pundits act as "transmitters", spreading surprisingly reactionary/fascist concepts and rhetoric to an audience who's views are more moderate than that. If they knew that their words were seen by mainstream America, would they continue to say such things? Maybe they would temper themselves.

Also, lefty blogger Oliver Willis is joining the Media Matters team. Give em hell, Oliver!

Anyhow. Media Matters for America. Check em out.

Posted by Jake at 12:08 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

May 03, 2004

Odds Unt Ends

Regarding the site:

1) My former domain "straybulletins.com" is about to expire. Anyone trying to reach that site or contact me through that domain's email addresses had better switch over to LyingMediaBastards.com

2) There was some confusion about the LMB button sale. I've changed the text there slightly to clarify.

3) I just added about 2 months' worth of radio show playlists to the pull-down menu in the upper right corner, if you're into that kinda thing.

And in real life, the adventures of Jake and His Demon Car near their end. As it turns out, I misunderstood what it meant when the insurance company declares your car a "total loss". For your own future knowledge, it means that a) your insurance company thinks it would cost them more money to fix your car than it would cost to pay you what the car is worth, and b) the insurance company notifies the DMV that your car is no longer a car, it is "salvage", and the process of getting it declared a "car" again sounds like a real pain in the ass. So I should be receiving a check soon that should actually be large enough that I could buy the exact same model of 14 year old car that just turned into salvage.

I have often joked that between my real job, this website, and my radio show, that it's like I have 3 jobs, only one of which pays. But the real job is being cut back, at least temporarily, so it seems that now I have 2 1/2 jobs, only 1/2 of which pays. So I have to find myself a part-time job to help make ends meet for at least 5 months or so. Should be... interesting.

I plan on taking a weeklong "get the hell away from everyone and everything" vacation soon. The site will probably be on hiatus then, but I admit that I find a certain romance in the idea of posting reflections from the road. We'll see what happens.

And sometime after that, I think I'm going to get a dog.

Posted by Jake at 11:20 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Correct

"[The Bush administration] doesn't want us to believe what they say. They want us to believe what they say they said."

-Ellen Goodman

Posted by Jake at 09:06 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Torture

So last week, the photos hit, of American soldiers humiliating and near-torturing Iraqi inmates at Abu Ghraib prison. Government officials tell us that these are just a few bad apples, and that the guards don't usually treat the prisoners this way.

Then photos and stories come out about British soldiers doing the same or worse.

Then, Amnesty International puts out a (rather vague) press release claiming that they have "received frequent reports of torture or other ill-treatment by Coalition Forces during the past year."

Then, we read allegations that British soldiers have been swapping hundreds of such photos of Iraqis being abused, for the soldiers' own amusement.

Then, most daming of all, reporter Seymour Hersh weighs in with an article mostly based upon the US Army's internal investigation about abuse in Iraqi prisons.

And finally, to personalize it all, we read first-hand accounts of the prisoners' treatment (well, alleged accounts).

So we've got a number of issues here.

First, some of those initial pictures document how the prisoners are being treated, but some are just sick souvenir photos that the fucked-up guards can show to their friends back home.

Second, Hersh's article tells us that this abuse started no later than October 2003, that there were many "sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses", and included some of the following:

Breaking chemical lights and pouring the phosphoric liquid on detainees; pouring cold water on naked detainees; beating detainees with a broom handle and a chair; threatening male detainees with rape; allowing a military police guard to stitch the wound of a detainee who was injured after being slammed against the wall in his cell; sodomizing a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broom stick, and using military working dogs to frighten and intimidate detainees with threats of attack, and in one instance actually biting a detainee.

(although honestly, I have to wonder how much better or worse these Iraqi prisoners have been treated than American inmates in American jails)

Third, Hersh's article, and several others, allege that the guards (Military Police AKA MPs) were ordered to abuse the prisoners by members of military intelligence (MI). MI wanted the MPs to "soften up" the prisoners-- break their spirits-- so that it would be easier for MI to interrogate them.

As there is not much of a court system in Iraq right now, how many of these detainees are innocent? How many are guilty, but don't deserve to be beaten or electrocuted?

Another disturbing possiblity comes from this line this article:

"A month before the alleged abuses occurred, [Brig. Gen. Janis L. Karpinski ] said, a team of military intelligence officers from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, came to Abu Ghraib last year. 'Their main and specific mission was to get the interrogators -- give them new techniques to get more information from detainees,' she said."

Did MI from Guantanamo go teach the Abu Ghraib guards a few tricks? If so, are the detainees in Guantanamo being abused and tortured the same way that the Iraqi prisoners are? Is this common wherever the US holds foreigners in bondage?

And on top of that, many of the articles idly mention that "civilian contractors" AKA "mercenaries" are working with MI. Mercs are unaccountable to anyone except the guy signing their paychecks.

What's bizarre about some of this is that torture is not a very reliable way of extracting information. Under threat of pain, how long till you start saying whatever you think your torturer wants you to hear? When the guard's about to shove a broom handle up your ass again, do you continue to pretend innocence, tell the guard the truth that he might not believe, or lie and say that you have Osama bin Laden's cell number?

Obviously, this is bad stuff. Apart from the obvious moral and human suffering issues, the Arab and Muslim world see these photos fall neatly into their perception that the US is an uncaring occupying power that wants to destroy Islam and all Arabs. And these perceptions just increase the chances that some angry Mideast resident is going to try to blow up the asses of innocent folks like you and me.

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

May 01, 2004

Why Don't You Tell Us What You Really Think?

www.JohnKerryIsADoucheBagButImVotingForHimAnyway.com

Posted by Jake at 11:38 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

May Day

Had to do some research this week about the history of the May Day holiday (AKA International Workers Day), and found it all pretty interesting. Most intriguing is that it is a holiday celebrated around the world, except in the United States, the nation where it began.

The first May Day was May 1, 1886. American workers were fighting for an 8-hour work day, down from 10 or more. Hundreds of thousands of workers went on strike, especially in Chicago. The labor movement was much more radical in those days; many of its members were avowed socialists, communists and anarchists.

The strike lasted several days, with occasional armed conflict breaking out between strikers and police. On May 4, there was a big labor rally in Chicago's Haymarket Square. An unknown person threw a bomb into the crowd, killing several and wounding many. With no evidence, the cops went ahead and arrested eight Chicago labor leaders and convicted them in a show trial. Five were sentenced to death, the other three to prison. One of those sentenced to death avoided execution by detonating a bomb inside is mouth inside the prison.

The "Haymarket Martyrs" electrified radical labor organizations worldwide. In 1889, the organization Socialist International declared May 1 to be a day of protest and celebration every year, honoring the martyrs and the struggles of working people.

May Day was celebrated in the U.S. for many decades, competing somewhat with the less radical, government-sanctioned workers' holiday, Labor Day. It seems that the Cold War killed off May Day. Mainstream labor unions, fearing reprisal for being "unamerican," threw their support behind Labor Day instead of May Day. And groups of "patriots" in the US tried to stamp out May Day by announcing that May 1 would be (I'm not making this up) "Loyalty Day", a day to celebrate one's pride in their country (and their obedience to its leaders, I suppose). Over time, May Day was forgotten, Loyalty Day was forgotten, and all that was left was Labor Day. And, as the years passed, Labor Day was transmuted into a holiday were we Americans celebrate barbecues and beer.

Happy May Day!

Posted by Jake at 01:09 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

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 (0)

April 28, 2004

Iraq Stuff

The flag thing. Iraqis are justifiably upset that:


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:


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 (0)

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 (0)

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 (0)

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 (0)

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 (0)

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 don’t 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 I’ll 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 I’ve 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 (0)

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 (0)

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 (0)

Understatement

"I kind of like ducking questions."

- George W. Bush, April 21, 2004

Posted by Jake at 10:12 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

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 (0)

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 (0)

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 (0)

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 (0)

April 19, 2004

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 (0)

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 (1)

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 (0)

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 (0)

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 (0)

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 didn’t 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, I’ve 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 year’s anniversary post. Read that if you want el gran historia.

It’s 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 (0)

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 (0)

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 (0)

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 (0)

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 (0)

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 (2)

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 (0)

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 (0)

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 (0)

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 he’s "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 (0)

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 (0)

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 (0)

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 (0)

March 30, 2004

WinTip

From Bob Morris over at Politics in the Zeros:

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

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

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

It's that easy!

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

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

March 28, 2004

Musicians and Health Care

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OR

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Jake at 03:48 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Week In Review 03-26-04

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

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

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

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

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

Next Week, on Law & Order

Court: Evidence OK in some no-warrant searches

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

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

This ruling effects Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi.

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

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

March 27, 2004

Tyranny of Taste

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

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

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

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

March 26, 2004

Swirly News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I dunno. Might work.

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

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

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

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

March 25, 2004

Caption Contest

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

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

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

March 24, 2004

Boondock Sloganeering

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

1
2
3

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

Posted by Jake at 10:47 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Whistleblower Sonata

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Jake at 10:32 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

March 23, 2004

World's Most Important Nonsense

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

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

Discuss.

Or, if you find that too silly:

Who would win in a fight, cavemen or astronauts?

No, the astronauts would not get weapons.

Posted by Jake at 12:00 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

March 22, 2004

Adobe for Prez

More photoshop madness from the nuts at Fark.com.

The theme: Photoshop ads for the 2044 presidential campaign.

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

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

Another Silent Crisis

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

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

Mass rape atrocity in west Sudan

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

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

[update]

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

[/update]

Posted by Jake at 06:11 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (1)

Week in Review 03-19-04

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 20, 2004

Blockin' Out the Scenery, Breakin' My Mind

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

Anyhow.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These next few will need a little explaining:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Below that, the sign reads "Trust Jesus".

Wow. Wow.

Wow.

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

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

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

LA peaceniks reprazent!

Posted by Jake at 10:47 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

March 19, 2004

Happy Birthday, Optional War!

I'll just cut to the chase here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Jake at 04:13 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)

Conquest

I now have a dishwasher!!

Look on my might and tremble!!

That is all.

Posted by Jake at 01:09 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

March 17, 2004

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

Stop me if you've heard this one.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Jake at 10:48 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Queer Eye for the Unemployment Line

Does this even make sense?

LGBT Federal Workers Lose Job Protections

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

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

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

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

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

Or something.

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

Stupid country.

Posted by Jake at 08:46 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Madre de Dios!

Fun Fact:

"Many Spanish troops serving in Iraq, for example, wore an arm patch depicting the Cross of St. James of Compostela. That insignia commemorates the Battle of Clavijo in 844. According to legend, the Apostle St. James the Elder came down from the sky and killed every Moor - as Muslims were then called - in his path. Ever since, St. James has been called 'Santiago Matamoros,' St. James the Moor Killer."
Posted by Jake at 10:06 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

March 16, 2004

Fundamentally Loathsome

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

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

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

Vice President Cheney took a few licks.

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

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

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

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

Posted by Jake at 04:15 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Owned

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Posted by Jake at 12:45 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

[Insert Hacker Gibberish here]

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

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

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

The programs:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Jake at 12:43 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

March 15, 2004

Warren Peace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Jake at 12:29 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

March 12, 2004

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

I believe that all politics are dirty.

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

It is my belief that these people are totally wrong.

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

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

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

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

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

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

And it goes on.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Neo : What truth?

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

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


[thanks to David D]

Posted by Jake at 11:55 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Week in Review, 03-12-04

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Scary Truth

Rahul Mahajan has a point.

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

Willie Horton, We Hardly Knew Ye

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

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

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

March 11, 2004

Labor Policy, Children, and Censorship

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

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

Newsy Quilt

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

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

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

[edit]

Here's Air America Radio's daily schedule

[/edit]

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

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

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

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

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

March 10, 2004

Heathen Shellfish

I dig this.

GodHatesShrimp.com

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Jake at 04:28 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

March 09, 2004

Shortest Barrier Between Two Points

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

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

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

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

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

Q: Well, the commission certainly is not satisfied.

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

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

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

Q: You just said, “all the questions they want to raise.” That means he’s no longer going to limit it to an hour?

McCLELLAN: Well, that’s what it’s scheduled for now. But, look, he’s going to answer all the questions they want to raise. Keep in mind that the commission --

Q: If they’re still asking at one hour, he’ll still answer them?

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

Q: The issue is whether he’s limiting it to an hour --

McCLELLAN: Let me finish, Mark.

Q: -- and I’m asking a very simple question. If they’re still asking questions at one hour --

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

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

McCLELLAN: No, I don’t think it was widely reported.

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

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

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

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

Q: -- when?

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

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

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

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

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

Anyhow.

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

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

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

Posted by Jake at 07:09 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

Mockalicious

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

[update]

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

[/update]

Posted by Jake at 09:28 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tasty Sounds

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

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

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

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

March 05, 2004

Week In Review 03-05-04

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fists in the air, everybody.

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

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

Posted by Jake at 10:05 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

March 04, 2004

Noisy Links Added

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

Posted by Jake at 12:52 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

March 03, 2004

Brother, Can You Spare a Dietary Supplement?

Li'l help?

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Jake at 10:52 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

March 02, 2004

Haiti in a Handbasket

An awful lot of bloggers have written this entry today:

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

And I'm one of em.

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

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

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

U.S. political maneuvering behind the ouster

Death squad help for Haiti rebels

That last one should leave you cold.

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Jake at 11:20 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Feed the Rich

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Class warfare, as American as apple pie.

Posted by Jake at 08:36 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

February 27, 2004

Back in Business

I kept my "welcome" message at the top of the blog for a full week to maximize visibility, but now we return to our regularly scheduled program.

Posted by Jake at 01:00 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Conflict Resolution

Sigh. It looks as though the southern California grocery strike might be over. I'll wait till I get more details, but it doesn't look like the grocery workers make out very well. I'll call my striking grocery contact tomorrow and see what's up. Maybe I'll have him on my show on Monday too, we'll see.

Posted by Jake at 12:56 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 26, 2004

LMB Out-Takes

I was going through some old files and folders on my computer looking for a history book satire I wrote back in the mid-90s, and ran across several other pieces I'd forgotten I'd ever written (in fact, there're a few that I'm not sure I did write). I'm still looking for that history piece, but here's a little taste of what I ran across.

Around the time that Ann Landers died, I had the idea of writing a fake advice column like Ann's, but with all the answers coming from uber-Christian proto-fascist John Ashcroft. Frankly, the only reason I wanted to write the column at all was so that I could include two gags about his weird patriotic songs. Ashcroft got some media attention for his song "Let the Mighty Eagle Soar", but I just wanted to have a reply from Ashcroft which referred to his latest tune, "Eat Holy Cleansing Fire, You Muslim Infidels" and his ground-breaking rap tune "That Islamic Fundamentalism Is Whack, Yo".

So I didn't really have the energy, or enough material, to make this project go, so all I have are the rough ideas above, and this partial column below. Enjoy.

Dear John Ashcroft,

I am a 17 year old boy from Boise, and I have been dating a wonderful girl for the past 7 months. She is beautiful and charming, and we are deeply in love.

My problem is that we spend a lot of time together, and I am ashamed to say that I am having sinful thoughts. We are both dedicated Christians, and both plan to save ourselves for marriage, but we both feel that we are far too young to be married.

These thoughts and urges are becoming very powerful, yet my faith is strong. What’s a Christian to do?

Sincerely,
Frustrated and Faithful.


Dear Frustrated and Faithful,

I certainly understand your dilemma. My wife Janet and I dated for several years before we were wed. I had not dated until I met her, and had managed to stave off sin by beating my erect penis with a hardback Bible. However, this treatment was not enough once I began spending more time with my beloved Janet. Speaking with some of my acquaintances who were more experienced with romance, I learned that another useful technique was to pour something called "DDT" down the front of one’s pants. Yessir, you could always feel DDT working, killing away sinful thoughts and feelings as though it were some kind of poison to them. But unfortunately for you, F&F, DDT is no longer available.

John Ashcroft


Confidential Reply to "Confused in Oklahoma":

I condemn thee! I condemn thee to Hell!

Posted by Jake at 01:47 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Rhode Island Doesn't Want Me Anymore

Anarchists are a diverse lot. They range from aggressive punks who demand an immediate destruction of most of Western civilization, to smiling hippy-types who feed the homeless in parks on weekends. The central belief of anarchists is that all power and all responsibilities should be shared among all people, not concentrated in the hands of governments or corporations. And while I know that many people will immediately jump up and yell that anarchy could never work, I can only respond with "how's that capitalism working out for ya?" I don't intend that to "prove" that anarchy is superior to capitalism, just trying to point out that all human social systems are going to have problems because they, well, involve humans. We suck.

Anyhow, no matter what their particular flavor or disposition, all anarchists are banned from the state of Rhode Island.

Well, I'm being a trifle melodramatic. By "all anarchists", I mean "any person ... willfully teach[ing] or advocat[ing] anarchy ... or opposition to organized government or any person who shall willfully become a member of or affiliated with any organization teaching and advocating disbelief in or opposition to organized government." And by "banned" I mean "shall be punished by a fine of not more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or imprisonment not exceeding ten (10) years, or both." And by "the state of Rhode Island" I mean "the state of Rhode Island, if it passes the governor's proposed homeland security act."

The bill does seem to have plenty of legitimate concerns regarding terrorism and weapons of mass destruction and all (well, as relevant as those concerns can be to fucking Rhode Island), but tosses anarchists into the mix for no apparent reason. As you can see here RI anarchists are involved in such terroristical activities as organizing presentations about US policy towards Colombia, and supporting the unionization of local health care workers.

The one upside here is that the governor apparently withdrew the bill a few days back, but plans on "tweaking" and reintroducing it later. One would hope that the new bill wouldn't, y'know, criminalize an entire political philosophy.

Posted by Jake at 01:04 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

February 25, 2004

Reconfigured

Excellent interview in the LA Weekly with Karen Kwiatowski, former Lieutenant Colonel in the US military and desk officer in the Defense Department's office for Near East South Asia (NESA). Basically, she was an intelligence office at the Pentagon working on Middle East issues at the time of the run up to the Iraq war, and dealt frequently with the notorious Office of Special Plans (OSP).

She was appalled by the way that the neoconservatives in the OSP were manipulating intelligence and propagandizing the Pentagon itself in order to get their war. She began to write anonymous columns about the situation which were posted on several internet sites, and then she finally quit the Pentagon altogether to speak out about this "neoconservative coup" back in March of 2003.

Read the whole interview, it's good stuff. But I'm going to highlight Kwiatowski's explanation for the Iraq war, the reasons that the neocons wanted to invade the country, as they differ somewhat from my own interpretation:

There were three reasons why [the neoconservatives] felt the U.S. needed to topple Saddam, put in a friendly government and occupy Iraq.

One of those reasons is that sanctions and containment were working and everybody pretty much knew it. Many companies around the world were preparing to do business with Iraq in anticipation of a lifting of sanctions. But the U.S. and the U.K. had been bombing northern and southern Iraq since 1991. So it was very unlikely that we would be in any kind of position to gain significant contracts in any post-sanctions Iraq. And those sanctions were going to be lifted soon, Saddam would still be in place, and we would get no financial benefit.

The second reason has to do with our military-basing posture in the region. We had been very dissatisfied with our relations with Saudi Arabia, particularly the restrictions on our basing. And also there was dissatisfaction from the people of Saudi Arabia. So we were looking for alternate strategic locations beyond Kuwait, beyond Qatar, to secure something we had been searching for since the days of Carter — to secure the energy lines of communication in the region. Bases in Iraq, then, were very important — that is, if you hold that is America’s role in the world. Saddam Hussein was not about to invite us in.

The last reason is the conversion, the switch Saddam Hussein made in the Food for Oil program, from the dollar to the euro. He did this, by the way, long before 9/11, in November 2000 — selling his oil for euros. The oil sales permitted in that program aren’t very much. But when the sanctions would be lifted, the sales from the country with the second largest oil reserves on the planet would have been moving to the euro.

The U.S. dollar is in a sensitive period because we are a debtor nation now. Our currency is still popular, but it’s not backed up like it used to be. If oil, a very solid commodity, is traded on the euro, that could cause massive, almost glacial, shifts in confidence in trading on the dollar. So one of the first executive orders that Bush signed in May [2003] switched trading on Iraq’s oil back to the dollar.

To sum up, Kwiatowski claims that the Iraq war was about contracts, military bases, and protecting the dollar against the euro.

For months now, I've been arguing that the invasion of Iraq was step one in a neocon plan to achieve a revamped Middle East, with all governments obedient to (or at least friendly towards) the US government. Kwiatowski's version varies from mine, and seems more based upon shorter term, more concrete goals. I'll have to look into the matter some more and see if maybe I need to reconfigure my understanding of the neocons and the conflict.

Posted by Jake at 02:37 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

February 24, 2004

Oddz N Enz

First of all, thanks for all the compliments on the new site design. To those of you having trouble with viewing it, it seems that most of you are using older versions of Internet Explorer (below v6.0). Web guru Mark recommends the following:

A quick fix for now is to go to http://www.favelets.com and follow the instructions to use the "Toggle CSS style sheets" favelet.

Using that will toggle the stylesheets off (which causes those issues on smaller screen), and make the site more readable for those having trouble.

And personally, I recommend that everyone simply drop whatever browser they're using and download Firefox. It's fast, blocks most pop-up ad windows, and I'm just now learning the joys of of tab-browsing. Also, Firefox views the new LMB just fine.

I posted a short piece about Haiti recently, and due to my own ignorance on the subject, invited others to do a bit of research and share their findings. A couple folks did, but posted their findings over at the old site. I'm reposting them here for better visibility.

From Eric:

From what I gather, it's no black-and-white issue. Aristide is a "left" nationalist with all the baggage that implies. He came to power as a so-called "man of the people." It seems to be a classic story of a leftist nationalist selling his country out by turning to U.S. imperialist intervention when his social reforms (contained within the Haitian power structure) failed miserably (Haitian Gray Davis?). Aristide became a junior partner of the U.S. in looting the Haitian population of its wealth.

There is no doubt popular discontent with Aristide and his government, but the opposition seems to be a gang of rival right-wing thugs seeking to replace one tyranny for another, given that an infamous sweatshop owner and black-market gangsters are at the forefront of this "opposition." It's all too typical that popular outrage is channeled away from any progressive solutions and through backwards, reactionary lines. This seems to be the case here as well.

The U.S. elites would be on the fence about this, no doubt. Do they support precarious ally Aristide or deal with the right-wing opposition, which may benefit them economically, but politcally, may cast them in a bad light?

Unless there is a progressive solution inititated by the Haitian population itself, there doesn't seem to be any good that will come out of this.

And from James R MacLean, rebutting Eric somewhat:

"It seems to be a classic story of a leftist nationalist selling his country out by turning to U.S. imperialist intervention when his social reforms (contained within the Haitian power structure) failed miserably (Haitian Gray Davis?). Aristide became a junior partner of the U.S. in looting the Haitian population of its wealth."

No it wouldn't, actually. (The Gray Davis analogy is so bizarre I can't imagine what was meant by that.)

I've spent rather a while tracking down the gist of the complaints agianst Aristide and they boil down to this: after 20,000 US Marines occupied the country between 1994 and 1997, then handed it over to the civilian government and demanded that he impose order and cleanliness they could not.

I seldom agree with Zmag because I've seen too many cases where they showed no discrimination in the causes they embrace, but this excerpt you have is quite good. The Famnie Lavalas (FL) had been elected with 67% of the vote and it inherited a terrorized, brutalized, and massively armed vigilante constituency. Reining them in was to prove beyond the agency of Aristie, and of course he can't just order a country to disarm when 20,000 marines couldn't and the FRAPH junta didn't. Your humble poster has observed several far-right web sites accusing FL/Aristide of creating armed gangs, which is absurd--Haiti's been heavily armed and dominated by vigilantes for decades.

The "political opposition" to Aristide was dominated by ex-FRAPH people or collaborators. For completeness, the old OPL--the original Lavalas Party--also represents a rival party which contested the electoral victories of 10 senators in 2002. The right-left split involves the "leftist" Aristide calling for civil services like water, drains, and so on; the "right" are demanding that Haitian fortunes be tax-free (income is extremely highly concentrated; the neoliberal model of economic development has manifestly failed since all rents and profits made in Haiti are repatriated outside of the country).

This is the first I've heard of Aristide looting the nation of its wealth.

Again, I don't know enough to verify any of that. I think I'm going to interview my friend JG about the issues next week on my radio show. JG is of Hatian decent, very politically-minded, and part of the Florida hip-hop duo Over the Counter Intelligence. Or barring an actual interview, he promises to send me some links to more info.

In response to my post about the recent race riots in the Redfern district of Sydney, Stuart Graham sent me this link from the Sydney Morning Herald, a collection of black and white photographs of Redfern and its residents. At once vibrant and bleak.

Thanks, everybody.

And finally, some folks have been criticizing my "get Bush out of the White House, even if it means voting Democrat" stance, taking the "both parties are pretty much the same" point of view. While I largely agree, I do think that the Bush administration's foreign policy under the necons is a significant change. Both parties seek American dominance over all other nations, but with a slight difference in tactics. The Democratic stance is "American supremacy, by any means necessary." The necon Republican stance is "American supremacy, by force." The Democrats are willing to entertain other means of persuasion, while the Bushies have dropped all their gear 'cept their shootin' irons.

Posted by Jake at 01:41 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

February 23, 2004

No Show

Hmm, we're having some technical glitches over at Kill Radio, so I'm not sure if I can do my show today or not. I'll give it a shot. Worse cast scenario, you should be able to tune in by going to this page and clicking on "tune in". Unfortunately, you will need a high-speed (faster than 56K) connection to hear it.

Posted by Jake at 12:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Par-T

Forgot to mention early, another Kill Radio benefit concert this Monday night (2/23) at the Silver Lake Lounge in LA, being held jointly with Clamor Magazine.

The Peak Show
The Transmissions
Mezklah
The California Navels
Fosforo
polyrhythmic
Mash Up Soundsystem

Silver Lake Lounge
2906 Sunset Blvd.
Doors open at 8pm
$0 (but we'll be begging for money throughout. And selling baked goods)

I'll be manning the Kill Radio table, come say hello.

Props to Michele for putting all this together, despite the fact it will probably make her head explode.

Posted by Jake at 12:59 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 22, 2004

Nader the Destroyer

So apparently Ralph Nader is running for president. And this matters because...?

Seriously, who's going to vote for Nader? Most folks I know who voted for Nader did so because:

a) they felt that Gore and Bush were pretty much the same
b) they felt that Gore was definitely going to win
c) they wanted to help build a viable third party (the Green Party)
d) they truly felt that Nader was the best candidate

And really, those first three reasons are now gone. Pretty much everyone with mildly liberal credentials hates Bush more than they pine for a Third Party. On top of that, since Nader isn't even running as part of the Green Party, there is no party-building going on.

How many votes is Nader going to pull away from the Democratic party? How many independent-to-socalist voters are so fervently pro-Nader that they'll risk another four years of Bush insanity? Hell, without Green Party infrastructure, in how many states will he even get registered on the ballot?

Nader's main point seems to be that no matter which candidate takes the White House, corporations win. And he's right. But in this campaign, it seems that one corporate-backed candidate will engage in less war-monging than the other corporate-backed candidate. And that's the best I can hope for right now.

Posted by Jake at 04:39 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

February 21, 2004

Forgotten History

Jeez, I'd never heard this before (keep in mind that "casualties" means refers to both deaths AND wounds):

During 1990 and 1991, some 696,778 individuals served in the Persian Gulf as elements of Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. Of these, 148 were killed in battle, 467 were wounded in action, and 145 were killed in accidents, producing a total of 760 casualties, quite a low number given the scale of the operations. As of May 2002, however, the Veterans Administration reported that an additional 8,036 soldiers had died and 159,705 were injured or ill as a result of service-connected "exposures" suffered during the war. Even more alarmingly, the VA revealed that 206,861 veterans, almost a third of General Norman Schwarzkopf's entire army, had filed claims for medical care, compensation, and pension benefits based on injuries and illnesses caused by combat. After reviewing the cases, the agency has classified 168,011 applicants as "disabled veterans." In light of these deaths and disabilities, the casualty rate for the first Gulf War may actually be a staggering 29.3 percent. -[emphasis mine]

- The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic by Chalmers Johnson

It's an excellent book so far, I'd recommend checking it out.

Posted by Jake at 04:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

I Now Pronounce You Tongue and Cheek

This rocks:

12 reasons why gay people should not be allowed to get married

My favorite: "Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall."

Posted by Jake at 02:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 20, 2004

Neo-Hessians

Excellent and fucking appalling catch by Billmon this morning:

Apartheid Enforcers Guard Iraq For the U.S.

(you'll need to register with that site to view the article, or, use this handy site recommended to me by LMB reader "The Librarian"-- BugMeNot.com)

To be honest, it looks as though that article can only document two actual apartheid-era jackboots in Iraq, but notes that the mercenary company they work for was set up by "former South African security officials" and presumes that more work there.

Here's some more background on the individuals involved. Notice how the South African paper reports that one of these fellows "worked closely with ... the notorious Vlakplass death squad."

Yeah.

"Now wait a second Jake, did you say 'mercenary company' a few paragraphs ago?"

Why yes.

The US has been hiring "private security companies" to aid in various military conflicts in recent years. And I'm not talking about service contracts to feed troops like Halliburton, but actual soldiers on the ground to "advise", "guard", and "escort". These companies hire soldiers from around the globe to do the dirty work of their clients. The benefits to the clients (in this case, the United States) is that a) if one of the soldiers is killed, it doesn't go on the clients' body count, and b) since the company has a right to privacy (trade secrets and whatnot), the client can order shady military actions and not have to ever be held publicly accountable for it.

This is a growing, and largely ignored trend. We should keep an eye out.

Posted by Jake at 10:17 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

February 19, 2004

Welcome to LMB v3.0

[*Problems viewing the site?]

I really love the new site. Massive thanks to Mark McLaughlin and Quang Tang.

The change wasn’t just a matter of prettying things up, it was about organizing the information in a better fashion, and about kicking myself in the ass a bit. Super loosely based on the efficient layout of Dack’s Rational Enquirer site.

Now, the guided tour:

First, the colors. It seems the standard for radical political websites is to use lotsa black and lotsa red, with small amounts of white if absolutely necessary. I wanted to use that as a starting point, but not to be shy about using white and gray. And for some reason, I had this feeling that it should also contain a yellow/orange/gold color, so I trusted my intuition and went with that. And as we cranked out some trial versions, we saw that the blacks and dark reds really weren’t so good for backgrounds, so the orange, white and gray kinda took over. So the black is text and outlines, the red makes some nice highlights.

We have our fantabulous logo by Quang Tang in the upper right. Many months ago, I asked people to submit some ideas for a potential LMB logo. I liked Quang’s best. Thanks to everybody who sent me something. Some of you I never got back to. Sorry, I suck.

Right below the logo, are an easy search prompt and a pull-down menu for all my radio show playlists. No fuss, no muss. Then a new description of what LMB is, followed by my email address. Replace the “+at+” with the @ symbol and you can email me. I wrote it that way to avoid spammers, of course, but I’ve been surprised that some of my readers haven’t been able to determine that that string of characters is my email address. If you want to write me, that’s how you do it.

The left-hand column is the main blog that you’re used to. News, politics, analysis, and assorted absurdities. Also, based on your responses to my posts about my mother’s death, I got the impression that some of you really appreciated that openness, and wanted to connect with me on a more personal level than is usually contained in my posts. And I admit, I do like the idea of not being confined so tightly to topics of political opinion. So I figure I’ll occasionally unbuckle a corner of this armor and show a little skin before suiting up again to tilt at windmills.

The main reason I redesigned the site was because something bothered me. It’s called “Lying Media Bastards”, but I’d often go long spells without a single post relating to the media. To rectify this, I’ve added a box on the right where all the media-related articles will go (they won’t appear in the main body of the blog). Hopefully such a prominently placed (and prominently dated) media news section will goad me into keeping y’all more updated on transpirings in the media world.

Lots of links on the right, including a vastly improved set of news links, a fairly impressive list of media industry news links, blogs, political columnists, comics, etc.

There's a new section for inspiring or amusing political quotes, aimed at getting your ass motivated to fight the power (the link below the quote itself will lead to an ever-growing archive of such quotes).

The Snapshots section is new as well, intended to give me a little more freedom to be non-political. As a writer, my brain is always in gear, putting thoughts and experiences into words, whether I want it to or not. I guess this section will be kind of experimental, just superbrief thoughts and passages I find myself mentally writing as I go about my days.

Then you’ve got the archives, if you want to read old LMB stuff. All the posts and comments from the old LMB site should be there, except the media-related posts. Those you can find my clicking on "more media news" at the bottom of the "media news" box. We might need to find a better way to arrange that.

And later, I plan on posting reviews of books, movies, music, video games, etc. These links will appear below the archives. The reviews of political books might be very helpful to y’all, the other media less so. But dammit, as an obsessive writer and lover of movies, music and video games, we’ll see what comes up.

There are still probably bugs and glitches here and there, so please notify me by email if you find any. We’ll try to get em fixed.

Hopefully in the near future we’ll have some LMB t-shirts. A generous Kill Radio colleague made a silk screen of Quang's LMB logo some months back. Just gotta get the screen back from him and buy some non-sweatshop shirts, then I'll screen em by hand. Probably orange or red on black, maybe vice versa. I don’t expect I’ll sell many, but it’d be nice having folks walking around sporting the team colors.

Gotta give tons of thanks to my volunteer web saviors Quang Tang and Mark McLaughlin. Mark, who used to run the official Rage Against the Machine website with me, did much of the layout and coding for the new site. Quang did the logo, additional layout and coding, and is hosting the site on his servers out of the goodness of his heart. He runs the webhosting company NiceDream.net. Thanks Mark and Quang! Hire them and make them rich.

And thanks to everyone for reading. As an obsessive writer, I would have typed up a lot of this stuff anyway, but the fact that many of you find my stuff informative, important and enjoyable on top of that makes me feel good about making the effort.

Yes, I’m sure some of you are going to hate the new site format (you can't ever please everyone). Sorry, you’ll just have to get used to it. It’s still substance over style, you just get a lot more pretty to go with your substance.

[note: I'll keep this post up at the top of the page for about a week to make sure I greet all the first-time viewers of the new set-up. New articles will appear just below this entry for the next several days, then the site will resume as normal]

Posted by Jake at 01:48 AM | Comments (3)

February 17, 2004

Theft

While on the topic of rarely discussed topics, here's another great read about a riot in Australia. On Sunday, police chased a young Aborigine boy to his death, and his community rose up. The article describes that specific situation, and then goes wider to discuss the massive problem of anti-Aborigine racism in Australia, a subject which is apparently kept quiet there among the white citizenry (probably like anti-Black or anti-Indian racism here in the States).

I feel kinda odd highlighting that article as "a great read" when it's so damn depressing.

Posted by Jake at 05:49 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Bad Times in Haiti

Unfortunately, I don't know enough about Haiti to put the recent news events there into context. Pretty much all my knowledge about the country comes from this chapter of the book Killing Hope. Long story short, Haiti faced dictatorships from the 50s through the 80s, overthrew the dictator, elected Jean Bertrand-Aristide, a man who seemd to truly care about the country's poor and set about reforming the country as best he could, and was then forced into exile in a military coup. What follows is a little fuzzy to me, but it seems as though the US (who seem to have abetted the coup in the first place) offered to return Aristide to power, if he agreed to a number of US demands. And since then, I've heard nothing positive said about Aristide. Don't know what to make of it.

Fast forward to the present. It seems that gangs of thugs are taking over Hatian cities, claiming that they are anti-Aristide and want to overthrow his government.

So my questions are:

1) What's up with Aristide? Was he truly the compassionate man he originally made himself out to be? Did he turn bad? Is he bad now, or am I just hearing one biased version of events? What do the people of Haiti think about Aristide right now?

2) Are these gangs truly revolutionaries, or are they petty thugs hungry for power?

3) Is the US involved in this at all? That might sound a bit conspiracy-theory to some of y'all, but the US has a long, dark history of interfering in Latin America. It's almost naive to assume that the US has nothing to do with Haiti right now.

4) Is this going to turn into an international incident?

The best answers I've found so far are here and here, and I don't have enough background to gauge their accuracy.

I'd like to research this further, but I just don't have the time at the moment. If someone else wants to dig and report back, that'd be nice.

[update]

Just discovered a Haiti-centric blog, Haiti Pundit, which seems to have all kinds of news, background and links.

[/update]

Posted by Jake at 05:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Witty Retort of the Day

In response to Bush's claims that Democrats would endanger America's fiscal health, blogger Josh Marshall says:

This is the arsonist in your house telling you that stranger outside with the hose can't be trusted.

[rimshot]

Posted by Jake at 04:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

PSA

Don't Shake It Like a Polaroid Picture

Posted by Jake at 08:44 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 14, 2004

More with the Love

Fairly Creative and Somewhat Mean Valentines

Print em out, give em to your sweetie and/or that ass who dumped you by email.

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

Mawwage

The numbers are surely changing as I type this, but between Thursday morning and Saturday morning, 665 homosexual couples have gotten married across the U.S., often in flagrant violation of the law.

This rocks.

It's part of the most socially benign form of civil disobedience: peacefully breaking an unjust law to oppose it and point out how ridiculous it is. The anti-gay-marriage laws are stupid, no one's getting hurt in this mass protest, and lots of hugging, kissing, and long loving gazes are taking place.

On top of that, this is the first mass activism I have seen by the gay community in quite some time.

I am ambivalent on the issue of gay marriage only because I am ambivalent on the issue of marriage. Is it really a good idea? Seems to me that since all humans change over time, that very few pairs of humans are going to remain in love and compatible to death do they part. But if you want to give it a shot, I say go for it.

But I fervently reject the underlying argument against gay marriage, which is essentially that homosexuals are less than human and therefore do not deserve the same rights, respect or treatment of "real" humans. My brother predicts that one day we'll look back on this the way we look back with disgust and bewilderment at the Jim Crow South. I think he might be right.

Of course, the issue of gay marriage has little to do with marriage, no matter what the conservatives tell you. It's about feelings about homosexuality, feelings about homosexual sex, gender roles, and a particular interpretation of Judeo-Christian texts. I could elaborate, but I think y'all know the steps to this song and dance.

My ony addition is that the Bible says a lot of things, and that some people would read the whole thing and decide to focus their life's work on flogging the passage condeming gay sex says more about the traits of the person who selected those issues than about the religion. While there are surely some occasions where a person might adopt an anti-gay agenda because they read a passage in the Bible, but I imagine there are many more who hate gays and find personal strength and justification in those few Bible passages. And as far as I'm concerned, those people can fuck right off.

Posted by Jake at 10:13 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

February 13, 2004

Get Kerry

Conservatives have begun (continued?) to bash away at John Kerry in the oddest of ways: trying to connect him to Jane Fonda. I'm sure that plenty of you don't understand why they'd do that, and that's why I think that this tactic is destined to fail.

During the Vietnam (Indochina) war(s), actress Jane Fonda was a vocal opponent of the US invasion, and in her most outrageous action, she visited North Vietnam in 1972 and spoke out against the US and in favor of the North Vietnamese cause. She has since publicly apologized several times, maybe sincerely, maybe not, I don't know. It seems to me that the public considered her a traitor or an idiot.

But modern anger against her runs deep (if not that wide). Whenever I would take my mother to a doctor's appointment, there was always an aging, faded Buick in the parking lot with matching front and back bumper stickers that read: I'm Not Fonda Hanoi Jane. And I kid you not, just this morning as I drove around thinking about this issue, I saw a pick-up truck with the bumper sticker: Boycott Jane Fonda - American Traitor Bitch.

Conservatives have found a and spread a photograph of an 1970 anti-war rally featuring Jane Fonda in the foreground, with someone who is probably John Kerry about three or four rows behind her and off to one side.

See, see! John Kerry's a traitor just like Jane Fonda.

Taking it one step further, they're also distributing a fake, photoshopped picture of Fonda and Kerry sharing a podium together, allegedly at an anti-war rally. As that link shows, the photo was doctored, taken from a solo shot of Kerry at a podium, and with a photo of Fonda pasted in.

Sigh. A lot of people are going to be taken in by that.

The point is to highlight John Kerry's opposition to the Vietnam war after he returned from duty there, in an attempt to counter his "military cred."

One problem with the specific strategy: people my age and younger think of Jane Fonda as that 80s workout video chick, not as some traitor from the Age of Aquarius. We're likely to think that Kerry and Fonda are speaking out at some sort of protest about aerobics or something, leaving said military cred intact.

The other Kerry attack is a fairly unsubstantiated report from King of the Rumormongers Matt Drudge, which claims that Kerry had an affair. Maybe that story has some backing, maybe not, maybe it'll take off, maybe it won't, but I do appreciate this article pre-empitvely mocking journalists who might choose to pretend that this rumor is an important story.

Posted by Jake at 05:08 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack (0)

February 12, 2004

Truth Spreads

I don't put much faith in polls, but these numbers made me feel good inside.*

In a random nationwide survey, 1003 adults were asked this question (among many others):

Before the war began, do you think the George W. Bush administration did or did not intentionally exaggerate its evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction?

"Yes, they did exaggerate"- 54%
"No, they did not exaggerate"- 42%

(margin of error +/-3%)

There're a lot of other comforting numbers in there, about declining support for and trust in President Bush, but that set above is what is most meaningful to me. The White House and their trained parrots in the media have been telling a bunch of warmongering lies and half-truths about Iraq for almost two years now, and the public always bought it. Now, finally it seems like my fellow Americans are getting their skepticism back. These numbers could be inaccurate, and they could always swing back the other way with the proper media twist, but for now, I feel kind of at peace.

Yay, truth.

*washingtonpost.com has just instituted mandatory (free) registration to see articles on their website. If you want to see this piece, you've got to register with them and give them far too much personal info. I suggest lying.

Posted by Jake at 11:09 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Rape Culture

What Causes Rape? Anatomy of a rape culture is a very good post over at Alas, A Blog. It looks at the three key concepts/themes/attitudes in American culture that shape men in such a way that some feel driven to rape, or that raping women (or men for that matter) is not a big deal.

I'm trying to describe the article so that it doesn't sound as though the author is exonerating men of responsibility for their actions, because he isn't. Maybe I can make an analogy that the author "blames" culture for some men committing rape in a similar way you can "blame" culture for some women becoming bulimic. The beliefs and values of the culture at large lead some people to feel that these pathological actions are both necessary and acceptable, when they're not.

And, since the Alas blog is such a debate/discussion-oriented site, you can already see plenty of discourse in the comments. Join in, or comment here, either way.

Male readers, you should definitely go read it, as I think many men like to ignore the problem and pretend it isn't there. And like the old ACT UP slogan goes, "Silence = Death".

Posted by Jake at 10:35 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

aWol

I really don't care much about the Bush-National Guard-AWOL story. We already know that Bush is a reckless liar who's gotten by on Daddy's money and connections, so the facts of this case don't interest me. But since it's becoming a media scandal that could take him down a few pegs in the polls, and maybe inform voters that he is a lying asshole, I have to give the investigation my support.

Calpundit seems ahead of the game in this story. If you want details, go check him out.

To any conservative readers who will accuse me of mudslinging or dirty politics, you might have a point. But this isn't about me wanting "my side" to win (I'm not a Democrat anyway). I truly believe the facts back me up when I say that Bush as president is doing incredible damage to the United States, and to the rest of the world. If reporters have to veer from covering the issues to digging through Bush's sordid past to get his ass thrown out of office, so be it.

And in related news, oft-cynical columnist Geov Parrish truly believes that Bush is going to lose this election. Why? Because this election won't be about Bush vs. Democratic Contender X, but Bush vs. Bush. In 2000, he was a down-home, straight-talkin', charming conservative that no one knew much about. In 2004, his media-clumsy self is going to be on TV every day, trying to stumble through explanations of why he attacked an unarmed country, lost 2 million jobs, and drove the American economy into the crapper (yes, I'm aware that the idea that the president controls the job market or economy is arguable, but tell that to the voters). Don't know if I agree with Geov's optimism, but he makes a good case.

Posted by Jake at 10:13 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

February 11, 2004

The Funnier Version

Jon Stewart of The Daily Show on Bush's Meet the Press appearance. It's a video clip of the whole segment, Quicktime format.

[thanks again to Oliver]

[update]

That link appears to have expired. I think it was personally captured video posted to a personal website to show to friends, and I guess they got tired of all these strangers visiting a non-public part of their site. But you can still view the clip (at least for now) at TheDailyShow.com and click on "Meet the Prez".

[/update]

Posted by Jake at 08:54 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

February 10, 2004

One of Us! One of Us!

Pundit O'Reilly Now Skeptical About Bush

Can't find a transcript of this yet, but apparently Fox News pundit Bill O'Reilly was interviewed on Good Morning America today and said that he regretted giving the Bush administration's "Iraq's got weapons" claims the benefit of the doubt, apologized to his viewers for doing so, and said that he was now more skeptical of the current White House.

Although he did also say that he didn't think the president had lied, just that he gotten bad intelligence, y'know, the current Republican party line.

Well, maybe that's some kind of progress. Or, maybe continuing to support the "Iraq's got weapons" line was making O'Reilly look like a fool every single day he was on the air, and he didn't like that.

[thanks to Dong]

Posted by Jake at 09:58 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Dissecting the War News

Two really insightful pieces about the news media and war.

Now They Tell Us- after David Kay's testimony that there were no WMD in Iraq, the press suddenly got somewhat aggressive, digging up the facts and pointing fingers. Well, just so long as none of those fingers point at themselves. But this article squarely aims dozens of fingers in their direction. Where the hell was all this skepticism and energy before the war started, when it, y'know, might have mattered? I mean, it wasn't hard to find the flaws in all the intelligence claims. I saw them somehow, and I don't have a fraction of the resources of a New York Times or a CNN. It wasn't just my skepticism or a nutty conspiracy theory; I looked at all the public evidence, thought about it, and realized that it didn't add up.

The article above describes the (print) media heroes, villains and victims in the drive to war. Mentions the pressures put upon journalists by the White House to fall in line, and the way that many newspapers actually covered the important stories, but buried them in the back where they wouldn't have any impact.

[edit]

Judith Miller, one of the journalists criticized in the above piece, says that she was "misquoted and misrepresented" in the piece. For some reason, Miller's rebuttal appears solely in Women's Wear Daily. No, really.

[/edit]

A Lieutenant's Story- an anonymous letter sent to a pair of bloggers. The author claims to be a 1st Lieutenant with the Army, stationed in Baghdad, who sometimes works as a "public relations officer." I can't verify the truth of any of it, but let's momentarily take it at face value. The author's most interesting point is his claim that the media come to the event with their news story already written in their minds; they just show up to fill in the blanks of dates and names, and to capture video footage to go along with it. He says that Fox News was the worst about this, with a vary narrow and politically-biased list of topics that they wanted to cover, and considered everything else "not newsworthy." It sounds like a close runner-up for this biased newsgathering was Al Jazeera.

But jeez, coming to the frontlines with the stories already written? The concept of journalism is to find out what's going on and report it, not to shoehorn reality into your pre-formed mold. I remember some years back a reader wrote to me for an academic paper, and asked if I thought that journalists were really just "information packagers." I think I've got her answer.

Posted by Jake at 12:27 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Police States Are Soooo 1984

You've probably seen this article someplace in the left-wing web world:

Activist group resists handing over list

Basically, a federal prosecutor is demanding that Drake University turn over "records" about an anti-war event that happened back in November, and any information about the local chapter of the National Lawyers' Guild, an organization that does pro bono law work for progressive causes.

The government demanding information about people and groups with certain political beliefs... that ain't good.

This particular article has a tad more detail than I've seen in others, claiming that at a subsequent anti-war protest at nearby Camp Dodge military base, that some of the protesters may have trespassed.

Or, they're lying and they're gathering info on "subversives." Or maybe both.

[update]

Daily Kos has a positive update on the situati