Saturday, December 06, 2003

Finally, More Guns on TV! 

In case you ever said to yourself, "You know, there's just not enough hand gun advocacy on TV these days", the National Rifle Association is here to save the day. It's looking to buy a radio or television station, and pretend it's a real news network, according to the AP. They want to advocate gun issues until they get sued for breaking campaign finance laws, at which point they will defend themselves as a "legitimate" news organization.

The NRA isn't allowed to run issue ads targeting a particular candidate by name, because they have union and/or corporate money in their funding. If they started their own television station, they could. Which makes for a really startling revelation: If a group takes out advertisements to advocate a position with corporate sponsors, it's illegal. But if a group buys a television station to advocate a position with corporate money, "It's all good."

Here's what I'd do as Senator: Write a bill targeting News Outlets with a "Truth Tax" whereas, for every false statistic, misrepresentation or provable mistruth broadcast on the airwaves, a corporation pays a $5000 fee for each state the lies were broadcast in. (Taxes as a means of encouraging positive social conditions doesn't seem that crazy. For example: Taxing Pollution, Not Income.)

From the AP: The NRA and its lawyers will "look at every option to continue to exercise our First Amendment rights," even anchoring a ship "in international waters and beaming in" if necessary to get its gun-rights message on the air at election time, LaPierre said.

Republicans love boats! Bill Frist was pushing for the "ship far away from everyone else" idea for when the RNC goes to New York for it's convention, but has been overturned, because it would be about as good at convincing moderates to vote Republican as an Ann Coulter appearance on Bill Moyers.

Unemployment Figures 

Bush needs 200,000 to 300,000 jobs a month to actually tout a recovery, and 150,000 is what most economists predicted. The figures for November gave us 57,000. But that doesn't stop Bush from calling it a recovery anyway: "The American economy continues on a solid path of recovery. With strong sales and improving profits, companies will continue to hire new workers in the coming year." Right, right. The jobs will be here next year.

18 Inches Of Snow and Not A Snowman To Be Found 

One of the best opportunities to get insight into the psyche of minds programmatically assaulted by consumption-capitalism is to work at an electronics store during a blizzard.

There is no short supply of people willing to pack their children into a car during a Noreaster, drive on a highway coated with ice, risking the lives of their families and other motorists, all to come and look at a big screen tv, remark at how nice it is, and then go home.

The Consumption Class does not know how to sled, and neither does its children. It only knows how to buy gas, use gas, stare at potential purchases and encourage its children to stare with them.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

I Shit You Not.  

Yes, this is real. This was released by the ACLU in the case regarding the boy sent home for telling his classmates his mother was gay.

Turkeygate, Steel Gates, 527's and You 

Bush is having a bad week.

1. Bush decided to avoid European sanctions on Florida Oranges and Harleys, instead opting to lift the tariffs on international steel. Good news: Cars and good knives will be cheaper. Bad News: Your 1985 DeLorean is worth less, and probably big layoffs in the steel industry, including votes in states that went only slightly red in 2000. Bush's decision [on steel] is "clear evidence of capitulating to European blackmail and a sorry betrayal of American steelworkers and steel communities." - Leo W. Gerard, president, United Steelworkers of America. It was, in all fairness, a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" decision, and it did end what were illegal tariffs to begin with. But it was one more broken promise.

2. The AP starts an article about Turkeygate (I think I coined that one) with: "The White House offered its third version Thursday of a pilot who spotted Air Force One while it flew to Iraq..." You have to love that. Apparently now, it wasn't British Airways, it was a "British Accent". You would think Air Force One would be aware of flight plans, lest it crash into another plane, but I really don't know.

3.'s ads in West Virginia might have had something to do with the states 4% decrease in public support for Bush. Now, they're going bigger, or trying, with your help- but probably not mine. (I have two candidates to support!) Remember, donations make great Christmas presents. I'm thinking of starting a grassroots campaign myself: "This Christmas, Give The Gift Of Democracy".

4. In the RNC's 527 camp, you have the "Club for Growth" airing attack ads on Howard Dean's fiscal conservativism in Vermont. This is great. If the RNC's 527's keep spreading really blatant lies about the candidates, Americans are going to just recognize it and filter it out. Dean was recently referred to as "The Only Teflon Coated Democrat" because any criticism of him only seems to make him stronger. The Media is at a loss to explain this trend, but I think it's stems mostly because Dean is a successful Bullshit-filter candidate, and so when people fling nonsensical allegations at him (that he's a racist, that he's too liberal, that he's too conservative) people know the truth and disregard the bullshit. His response ad, the "club for truth" ad, says it best- albeit in a kind of way that could get really annoying as a full fledged campaign tone- "I'm Howard Dean and I support this message because they're not trying to stop me, they're trying to stop you."

5. Notice how I dropped the term "527's" in there and you were all like "wha?" That's cuz I am getting down with the poli-sci lingo, kids. 527's are the indie (well, let's just say party-separate) political activist groups that were allowed to be set up, with unlimited funding in order to promote issues they're interested in. Moveon is one, which is why Soros' $15 Million is possible, and the "Club For Growth" is one, for the Republican National Committee. Fox News, as far as I know, is not filed under 527 status.

6. In other Dean news: I burst out laughing today when I read he has 45% support in the New Hampshire primary. In a crowd of 10 candidates, that's pretty good. Kerry is number 2, with 11%. Clark is at 10%, and everyone else should quit and go home.

7. Unemployment figures for October come out tomorrow. If they're good, Bush has a "solid economy" feather in his cap. But will they be good, I wonder?

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Ridiculous, Part II 

There was the Air Force One hoax, and now there's more.

Oppressionism Vs Playfulness 

To rely on oppressive conditions to radicalize people is unwise; to intentionally worsen them in order to accelerate this process is unacceptable. The repression of certain radical projects may incidentally expose the absurdity of the ruling order; but such projects should be worthwhile for their own sake — they lose their credibility if they are merely pretexts designed to provoke repression. Even in the most “privileged” milieus there are usually more than enough problems without needing to add to them. The point is to reveal the contrast between present conditions and present possibilities; to give people enough taste of real life that they’ll want more.

Leftists often imply that a lot of simplification, exaggeration and repetition is necessary in order to counteract all the ruling propaganda in the other direction. This is like saying that a boxer who has been made groggy by a right hook will be restored to lucidity by a left hook.

People’s consciousness is not “raised” by burying them under an avalanche of horror stories, or even under an avalanche of information. Information that is not critically assimilated and used is soon forgotten. Mental as well as physical health requires some balance between what we take in and what we do with it. It may sometimes be necessary to force complacent people to face some outrage they are unaware of, but even in such cases harping on the same thing ad nauseam usually accomplishes nothing more than driving them to escape to less boring and depressing spectacles.

One of the main things that keeps us from understanding our situation is the spectacle of other people’s apparent happiness, which makes us see our own unhappiness as a shameful sign of failure. But an omnipresent spectacle of misery also keeps us from seeing our positive potentials. The constant broadcasting of delirious ideas and nauseating atrocities paralyzes us, turns us into paranoids and compulsive cynics.

Strident leftist propaganda, fixating on the insidiousness and loathsomeness of “oppressors,” often feeds this delirium, appealing to the most morbid and mean-spirited side of people. If we get caught up in brooding on evils, if we let the sickness and ugliness of this society pervade even our rebellion against it, we forget what we are fighting for and end up losing the very capacity to love, to create, to enjoy.

The best “radical art” cuts both ways. If it attacks the alienation of modern life, it simultaneously reminds us of the poetic potentialities hidden within it. Rather than reinforcing our tendency to wallow in self-pity, it encourages our resilience, enables us to laugh at our own troubles as well as at the asininities of the forces of “order.”


Humor is a healthy antidote to all types of orthodoxy, left as well as right. It’s highly contagious and it reminds us not to take ourselves too seriously. But it can easily become a mere safety valve, channeling dissatisfaction into glib, passive cynicism. Spectacle society thrives on delirious reactions against its most delirious aspects. Satirists often have a dependent, love-hate relation with their targets; parodies become indistinguishable from what they are parodying, giving the impression that everything is equally bizarre, meaningless and hopeless.

In a society based on artificially maintained confusion, the first task is not to add to it. Chaotic disruptions usually generate nothing but annoyance or panic, provoking people to support whatever measures the government takes to restore order. A radical intervention may at first seem strange and incomprehensible; but if it has been worked out with sufficient lucidity, people will soon understand it well enough.

-Ken Knabb

PS: Is Blackhawk Down? ( ...?

Okay, This Is Getting Ridiculous 

Seriously, can George Bush tell the truth about anything?

I may have attacked Bush at first for his Thanksgiving day visit, but then I realized the goodness of the action, despite believing in its mixed meanings, and I retracted. Now it seems the story was pre-fabbed for the press, including an imagined story about a run in with a British Airways jet, which never actually happened.

It's like there's always one thing that takes it over the top. Like, 200 people knock down a statue in Baghdad and they say the war is over, fine. (We've seen how "over" the war is, or, sorry, how "over" the major military operations are, but whatever, I'll give it to him- Saddam was out.) But then why go on a photo op to an Aircraft Carrier with a giant "Mission Accomplished" banner at what was arguably the halfway point of the war, and what now seems to have only been the beginning?

Now, Bush does the one genuinely admirable thing of his administration since standing on the rubble of the World Trade Center, and he goes and makes up a story about a fake encounter with a British Airways jet running into him on his "top secret mission". How does anyone trust him with anything? He can't even tell the truth about his own god damned honorable acts!

Note To San Francisco 

Vote Green on Tuesday. No, It's Not Suicide.

Apparently, there's a Green Party Candidate running for mayor of San Francisco in Tuesday's run-off, and he's actually got a good chance of becoming the first Green to run a major city in the US.

The Democrat- the guy who started the "care not cash" program that is so beloved- is not getting much liberal support in the most liberal city in the country, and it seems that the Green and the Democrat are in a "statistical dead heat", meaning that any of you San Franciscans reading this (you know who you are) who weren't planning on voting because you hate Gavin Newsom, still have an option for Matt Gonzalez, a progressive candidate, and your vote can actually make a difference.

The USA Today- and the Democratic party- will try to scare you by bringing up the specter of "The Feeling You Got When You Voted For Nader And Watched Gore Lose" by declaring that if Democrats lose the Mayor's seat in San Francisco, then the State of California would go Red for Bush in 2004. I have no idea how a city voting for the most Liberal candidate imaginable would result in voting for the most anti-liberal candidate possible, but apparently that's the scare tactic being brought out by the DNC.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Giant Worm Destroys Democracy 

Diebold, the folks making the needlessly-paperless electronic voting machines for most of the country's 2004 e-lection, also manufactures ATM machines. And lo and behold, a worm similar to the worm that infected thousands of computers (including my own) a few months ago has managed to eat away at ATM security because Diebold took its sweet, sweet, election-riskin' time to install the patch.

But hey! I'm sure the voting machines will be fine, right? No one needs to worry since it was only a few thousands to millions of dollars that could have been lost in the ATM hold ups, and Democracy is priceless. So who would want to steal it? Go back to sleep, everyone! False alarm!

Bush declares "No More COPS" 

Clinton's COPS program, which helped bring more direct community involvement in law enforcement, added over 100,000 new cops to the streets, and brought down crime rates in the 90's, is being phased out by the Bush Administration. Apparently, when terrorists attacked, all other types of crime simply ceased to exist. Local police forces are now useless, and terrorism prevention is clearly best left to the Military, and not local policemen working day to day within communities.

The program encouraged "community policing", in which more police worked in individual neighborhoods alongside citizens who reported suspicious, gang related, and violent activity, all the way down to landlords who were acting illegally. All of this resulted in a cut down on crime. This article has a good history of it, and what it means that it's going away at a time when unemployment is at its highest in a decade. But remember, GW is totally awesome and it's the liberals who are "soft on crime".

I have to wonder why this program isn't being expanded upon in regards to the Homeland Security department. I mean, you have cops working with the community in high risk neighborhoods, breaking down drug rings and gang activity already- why not make slight modifications to enroll local police forces in counter-terrorism efforts? It seems to me that local enforcement and community policing could do better in preventing another terrorist attack in this country than Bush's War in Iraq has been.

But ironically, it's homeland security that is causing the cuts. Take a look at this: Some police officials say the needs of local cops are being overlooked because of broader, albeit warranted, concerns about national security. The U.S. government has sent $6 billion to state and local agencies for emergency equipment, training and planning, and officials plan to send nearly $3 billion more in grants. But none of that money can be used to hire additional police officers or emergency workers.

Am I the only one who sees this trend resulting in a smaller, more specialized police force, capable only of responding to (but not preventing) terrorist attacks? Who would have guessed Bush would have been such a closet Anarchist?

Bush Steel Tariffs Debate: Not As Boring As It Sounds 

The World Trade Organization has ruled that the tariffs, which increased prices on various kinds of imported steel by 8% to 30%, are illegal. The European Union has threatened to impose $2.2 billion in sanctions on U.S. exports unless the steel tariffs are abolished. - USA Today

What's interesting is, if Bush keeps them, the 2.2 billion in sanctions is being organized by Europe to get Bush out of office. Targets of the sanctions include Florida Oranges- Florida being the crucial (and most notoriously close) Bush win in 2000. They're also targeting Harley Davidson motorcycles, and, according to NPR, they have essentially been selecting industries by the voting records of each state. If it went red in 2000 or 2002, sanctions.

Then, if he removes them, he loses the steel industry. Even with tariffs on steel, manufacturing jobs have decreased (while manufacturing itself has ramped up to record highs). He lost Pennsylvania in 2000, and won two other industrial steel-reliant states by thin margins in 2000, West Virginia and Ohio.

Whichever way he plays the game, he loses, and ironically it's all because of the WTO. If Bush loses in 2004, make sure you leave a thank you note after smashing in that Starbucks window.

Monday (Is/Was) World AIDS Day 

In case no one has heard of AIDS yet, this is the day we set aside for everyone to learn that wearing a condom is a good idea if you're having sex. Then we giggle nervously and stop talking about World AIDS Day before we get too depressed. Unless, of course, you are attending one of the "celebrate sexuality" World AIDS day events, which freak me out, because if there's anything that world AIDS day should not do, it is make me want to go have sex with every girl I meet at the AIDS Charity dance when they're putting condoms on bananas with their mouths. Seriously, shouldn't they be broadcasting pictures of syphilis or something? Why are AIDS charity dances always so randy?

You know what is not a good idea? Using a balloon as a condom. The BBC World Service had a good history of the condom, and it let us know that, when people grew weary of wrapping their sexual parts in the soaked intestines of goats, they started using rubber balloons. That is how the condom came to be. However, I personally suggest that, if you are about to have sex and don't have a condom but do have a package of balloons, just don't even think about it.

That said, feel free to donate money to a local AIDS charity, and don't forget: donations make great Christmas presents. Believe me, I have seen that $29.00 DVD player, and it's a piece of shit. Ask your family what charities are important to them, write them down and make a donation in their name. It makes for an interesting conversation starter, too.

That Evil, Evil ACLU  

So this is why Howard Dean "can't win in 2004". I'd say it's why he needs to win in 2004.

A 7-year-old boy was scolded and forced to write "I will never use the word `gay' in school again" after he told a classmate about his lesbian mother, the American Civil Liberties Union alleged Monday. [...]
"I was concerned when the assistant principal called and told me my son had said a word so bad that he didn't want to repeat it over the phone," Huff said. "But that was nothing compared to the shock I felt when my little boy came home and told me that his teacher had told him his family is a dirty word."

On Salon, by way of Atrios (but what isn't?).

Good Thing You Read This Blog 

It's a good thing you read this blog, because it took Spinsanity almost two weeks to un-spin the collusion memos, which were unspun here first.

I so fuckin' rule.

Sunday, November 30, 2003

Poverty? "I'm Lovin' It!"  

Has anyone seen the new McDonalds commercials? There were two on TV tonight for the new "I'm Lovin' It" campaign. In one, three friends in a crappy car run out of gas. In the background, a happy little song narrates the events, explaining that they only have $.99 each, so never mind gas! The two friends push the car down a street of an urban slum where everything is pitch black except for a McDonalds sign at the end of the road. The whole time they're laughing and having fun. Then they buy McDonald's food. Caption: "I'm Lovin It!" Yeah, abject poverty rules!

There's another one too, but I forgot it while writing the other one. But keep your eye out, maybe I'll update if I remember it. But it's brilliant that McDonalds would seek not only to advertise their food as cheap and well suited to poor people, but also that it encourages buying McDonald's food as opposed to having a functional financial situation. "Baby out of diapers, gotta eat and only got a dollar ninety nine? I'm Lovin It!"

Kucinich Update 

Congressman and Presidential Nominee Dennis Kucinich is single, and so, is throwing a Marry Kucinich Contest. It's been the only thing I've heard on the news about the Kucinich campaign for weeks.

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