Monday, September 29, 2008

Conservative Media and the Propaganda Push

American media is dominated by conservatives. The majority of news outlets are owned by the conglomerates Disney, CBS, TimeWarner, General Electric, and of course Rupert Murdoc's 'News Corporation', the most extreme example. The only voices in the public media are from the mouths of those who can afford it. Unless you're rich enough to pay the price, you can't have the ear of the public which, of course, leads to ideas that benefit only the wealthy (trickle down economics is the most biting example, being a philosophy that literally consists of giving more money to the wealthy and nothing else). This, of course, passes onto thier political donations. Rupert Murdoc donates massive amounts of money to the Republican party as does Richard Parsons, CEO of Time-Warner.

Fox News is the most striking example of extreme conservative bias. They often lie to their audience and cover their legal liability by adding a question mark at the end. I know it's not a news outlet, but watch this segment from the Daily Show. If you like, turn the sound off and just watch the Fox footage. It's pretty telling.

The website is for the organization "Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting". They had a really great article up written by John K. Wilson called "The Myth of Pro-Obama Media Bias". It reports that Obama has, in fact, received more coverage but the coverage has been very negatively stilted. Contrariwise, McCain's coverage has avoided the same type of negative coverage (the example Mr. Wilson gives are many, this being one of them; "Obama’s distant acquaintance with Bill Ayers (whose role in the 1960s’ Weather Underground Obama has condemned) became the basis of absurd accusations of “terrorist” connections, while the press ignored McCain’s trumpeting the endorsement of Oliver North, whose Iranian-financed Contra war killed far more innocents than ’60s radicals ever did.") Addionally, the disparity in media coverage has been shown in the past to be fairly non-partisan ("Measuring the first six months of each election year, Democratic challenger Michael Dukakis got only 32 percent of the coverage garnered by then-Vice President George H.W. Bush in 1988; incumbent Bill Clinton got only 28 percent of the coverage Republican challenger Bob Dole got in 1996. Incumbent George W. Bush got 85 percent as much coverage as Democratic Sen. John Kerry in 2004—the closest thing to parity in early campaign coverage since Tyndall has been keeping track.").

Why, then, do we constantly hear about the media's radical left-wing tendancies and their extreme liberal bias? Well, my guess would be that you hear it because the actual media (not this nonexistant straw-media that's been fabricated as a dummy to easily attack) creates and propagates the myth.

I'll leave you with just a few of the screenshots of extreme-right bias in Fox News. This took about 5 minutes of Googling to find, by the way;

The Republican party is still the party of racism

"We don't want (Hispanics) to become the new African-American community," Lima told The Associated Press. "And that's what the Democratic Party is going to do to them, create more programs and give them handouts, food stamps and checks for this and checks for that. We don't want that."

"I'm very much afraid that the Democratic Party is going to do the same thing that they did with the African-American culture and make them all dependent on the government and we don't want that," she said.

Didi Lima (pictured left), a Republican spokeswoman for a large county in Nevada and co-chair of McCain's Nevada Hispanic Leadership Team (or ex-co-chair, after these remarks) just stated what you can hear Rush Limbaugh or Michael Savage spouting. The time of Republican double talk is quickly coming to a close as the free media on the internet inspires major news organizations to actually report the news, instead of sensationalize current events for entertainment value.

I feel obligated to post this part of the article as well;
"Didi Lima is no longer a part of this campaign, her comments don't reflect Senator McCain's beliefs and are not tolerated on his campaign," McCain spokesman Rick Gorka said after learning about her remarks.
Of course, the article also says;
The chairman of the Republican Party in New Mexico's most populous county resigned Thursday, nearly a week after saying "Hispanics consider themselves above blacks" and won't vote for Obama.
And, of course, let's not forget McCain's own words.
"I hate the gooks...I will hate them as long as I live."
There's no doubt which party gets the vote of racists across the country.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Blue Shield of Silence

To establish that there are, in fact, many corrupt police officers in the United States I'd like to cite some examples;

Last Tuesday a 92 year old woman was shot and killed by Atlanta Police officers.Kathryn Johnson was alone in her home waiting with her gun on Tuesday night when a group of plainclothes officers with a warrant knocked down her door searching for drugs, police said.

She opened fire, wounding three officers before she was shot to death.

Assistant Police Chief Alan Dreher called the killing "tragic and unfortunate" but said the officers were justified in returning fire.
A Teton County, Idaho family is outraged after they say a sheriff's deputy tried to murder their dog in their own front yard.

The Barboza family has owned their dog Bobby for five years. A few days ago they say a Teton County Idaho Sheriff's Deputy knocked on their door demanding to see the dog.

Leonel Barboza, Dog Owner: "He says, 'I'm here to put him down. I'm here to kill him.'"

The officer told Leo Barboza there had been a complaint Bobby had bitten someone.

Barboza: "I said, 'Do you have any proof or anything?' He says, 'I don't need any proof.'"
The city of Seattle has agreed to pay $185,000 to a man who filed a federal civil-rights lawsuit against the police department after he was beaten, kicked and arrested by officers outside a Capitol Hill nightclub in 2005, according to court documents and an informed source.
A photograph of Alley-Barnes taken in the jail shows him with blood running down his swollen face. An internal investigation later showed that an officer also rammed the handcuffed Alley-Barnes' face into a wall at the police precinct.

Alley-Barnes was charged with assaulting an officer and interfering, but the case was dismissed because the city failed to turn over the video from the arrest.,0,2906787.htmlstory
• Nearly every shooting in last decade 'justified'
• Investigations ignore witnesses, forensics
• Shot-in-back findings raise questions

On a summer night in 2003, two patrol cars pulled over a driver in front of his South Side home for running a stop sign. Thinking police had chased the car earlier that night, four officers drew their guns and ordered the driver out.

The man's mother screamed from the sidewalk: "He can't walk! He's paralyzed! He can't get out of the car!"

When one officer thought the driver raised a gun, he opened fire, shooting the driver five times before reloading and shooting him once more.

Eight hours later, as Cornelius Ware, a 20-year-old paraplegic who drove by pushing the pedals with a wooden cane, lay gravely wounded in the hospital, police supervisors cleared the officer of any wrongdoing.
She [the investigator] also took no notes, she said, committing each witness statement to memory and sometime later recording those words in what would become the main report on the shooting.

Three of Ware's brothers who witnessed the shooting -- a 15-year-old and 13-year-old twins -- all told detectives at the scene that their brother had his hands up.

VanWitzenburg could not be reached for comment.
A cop shoots a Veteran complying with orders.

An Albany woman was stopped for no apparent reason, then, with no apparent probable cause, was subjected to a humiliating public search for drugs in which an officer inserted two fingers into her vagina. They also seized her cell phone, and made a random call to one of her contacts, again without a warrant or probable cause. They found no drugs.

The woman filed a complaint, but it was never forwarded to the city’s civilian review board, whose entire purpose is to investigate complaints against the police. The police chief explained that the police aren’t required to forward every complaint to the board, particularly if the complainant requests that it not be, as the chief says happened in this case. This apparently came as a surprise to the city councilman who actually wrote the review board legislation.

As for the woman not wanting her complaint forwarded to the review board, that’s apparently because an internal affairs officer “persuaded” her to let the complaint be handled internally.

Okay, so there are some bad apples. That's not really the point of contention here, as it's a sentiment almost universally accepted. My friend Chris, when we spoke about this the other night, made a good point. Why penalize or even criticize the majority of police officers for the actions of a fringe minority? After all, if we want police officers to be trained from a pool of civilians (and, as a free society, we definitely do), then there's going to be roughly the same level of corruption and crime as the average civilian community. The problem doesn't really stem from the criminal behavior itself, but rather what happens after the crime.

In other words, the complaint against the police officers is that they cover up and lie about criminal actions of other police officers. Take a look at this case:
A man named Al Unser is arrested and charged, but according to both him and an officer named Sam Costales, the police "were rude to him, refused to tell him why he couldn’t drive home, then pulled him out of his car and tossed him into a thorn bush before arresting him for resisting arrest". Officer Costales testified as such in court, and as a result Al Unser was released, cleared of all charges.

That's how the system is supposed to work with bad apples. Unfortunately, the officers in question were never investigated or even under suspicion of wrong doing. Constales, however, was. The charge was "improperly wearing his uniform while testifying in court". This is particularly cruel when you read that Constales retired three years prior to this event, because he has witnessed too much corruption for him to handle, and was asked back when the police department needed personel very badly. The head of the Police Union in Albuquerque sent a letter to the Bernalillo County Sheriff, which read;
As Secretary of the APOA i feel it is my duty and responsibility to apologize to you and your officers. Ofc. Sam Costales does not represent APD/APOA. The majority of our officers look at the BCSO as our brother and sisters in blue. We are embarrassed and ashamed of Ofc. Costales’s testimony in the Unser trial. If there is anything we can do to rebuild the damage caused by Sam please let me know.
If we continue to let this happen, this "Blue Shield of Silence" threatens to remove any civil protections we have left against police who continue to conduct no knock warrants in which civilians die, execute household pets with no oversight and falsly charge innocent civlians with crimes they did not commit.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Voter Disenfranchisement

In 2000, there were many, many reports of voter disenfranchisement (see here and here for more details). I just read an article in the Michigan Messenger (found here) saying that in the elections, the Republican Party are compiling a list of houses that have been foreclosed on, and putting “election challengers” at the polling stations to ensure that no one from those addresses can vote. On the surface, it's somewhat offensive, but you can see that the law allows it because the idea is to ensure no one's voting from defunct addresses.

Looking deeper, however, you'll see that most of the houses that have been foreclosed on are still inhabited; the people inside are either refinancing or trying to work a deal out with the owners of the debt. Of course, this is only being done in Democratic districts which are mostly lower class and minority districts.

Party chair for Republicans in Genessee County Denise Graves admitted that the Republican party is "gearing up for a comprehensive voter challenge campaign," indicating a wider based strategic attack against middle and lower class voters in Michigan (which is archetypal of the Republican party nationally).

Finally, and what I find most troubling, is the following (which is sourced in the document I linked at the beginning of the post);
McCain’s regional headquarters are housed in the office building of foreclosure specialists Trott & Trott. The firm’s founder, David A. Trott, has raised between $100,000 and $250,000 for the Republican nominee.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Protesters at the RNC get beat like they stole something

I'll start off with what I think is the best summation of events with a CNN link and a short quote from the article;
The protesters were noisy but peaceful as they approached the convention. Once they arrived, a police officer read an order to disperse, CNN reporters on the scene said.

But almost immediately, officers along the exit route opened fire with gas and projectiles. In one instance, a CNN producer said, an officer stepped out of line to hit a young woman with pepper spray as she ran for the exit.
Amy Goodman is a well known reporter who was covering the RNC when she got a call about the police arresting her producers. They're beaten by the police, and when she tries to stop and explain that they're journalists. She's thrown to the ground, her press jacket and press credentials are taken from her and she and the producers are charged with "inciting a riot". Video interview

In the interview, she mentions the Police Raid of Protester's Headquarters, so I think it would be appropriate to talk about that along with the actual brutality. The Police use a warrant, the cause of which "is not public at this time," to disrupt plans for protests, then accuse them of making plans for violent and illegal action against RNC delegates (accusations that weren't verified by the raid and were later withdrawn on the basis of not having a shred of evidence), then charge the organization with a violation of city fire code.

Here's a journalist who was shot with tear gas point blank in the face.

It's not just the journalists and protest leaders getting thier shit kicked, either. Read this;
My 17-yr-old son, Keith, was attacked by a group of police officers last night, September first, while peacefully attending a protest at the Republican National Convention. He was reaching into his backpack to hand a man a lighter when 5 police officers leveled him to the ground, beat the crap out of him, and arrested him. They told him that he is facing three criminal charges, one of which is a felony. They did not read him his rights. They did not give him a phone call. They searched his person and his belongings without his consent. They destroyed his shirt and put holes in his pants when they took him down. They took his belongings and did not return everything when they released him. He was so bloody at the time of the event that the officers covered his torso with someone else's shirt. I hope all the blood on that shirt is only his! The emergency room personnel were very understanding and kind and I'll be going to the records division of the hospital tomorrow to get copies of the records and the ER photos. You can go to my pictures to see the damage.

Be careful out there.


The pictures on his Mom's Myspace give you a better idea about how badly he was beaten. This is a 17 year old pacifist, who was hospitalized by the police. Disgusting.

Sarah Palin, Jeremiah Wright and the conservative media

There's a great article in the Monthly Review entitled Jeremiah Wright in the propaganda system. I really recommend reading it, if only for the fun coverage facts with Wright vs. other extreme and controversial preachers and how the media treats them (take a look at the table following).

This raises an interesting question because Palin is extremely religious and asserts that her political views are "God's will". Take this speech, for example; Palin is at her old Church and asserts, among other things that "God's will has to be done in unifying people and companies to get that Gas Line built" and that "our national leaders are sending [our soldiers] on a task that is from God". Where's the coverage here? Where's the controversy from those statements? I guess as long as it's not a liberal African American saying it, it's not that bad.

Update: Watch This.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Obama's Gustav Donation Drive

Obama is known for his "grass-roots" internet support. Most of his money comes from middle class private citizens who donate over the internet, mostly in amounts of 200 or more, but often just 10-50 dollars. He sent out another email today, which I was expecting to be another request for money. It was, but not in the way that you'd guess. Hurricane Gustav is set to shear through Louisiana and parts of Texas and Obama sent an email out, to his most lucrative support base, asking them to donate to the Red Cross. Here's the text of it;

Jonathan --

Today, the thoughts and prayers of all Americans are with those in the path of Hurricane Gustav -- and many of you are asking what you can do to help.

We do not yet know what the impact of Hurricane Gustav will be, and we hope with all our hearts that the damage will not be as great as it was three years ago.

But we know there will be damage, and there is something you can do right now.

Your financial support will strengthen organizations like the American Red Cross that are evacuating Gulf Coast residents and planning to help communities get back on their feet.

Make a donation to support the American Red Cross today.

At times like this, it is our compassion and resilience that define who we are as a nation.

Please give whatever you can afford, even $10, to make sure the American Red Cross has the resources to help those in the path of this storm:

Thank you for your generosity, and I hope you will join Michelle and me in praying for the safety of those in the path of the storm and the first responders who are doing all they can to ensure the safety of their communities.

Wow. I honestly did not imagine this from any politician. I'd be very surprised if John McCain would go to his largest support base, corporate lobbies, and ask them to donate money for Gustav support.

Anyways, Obama is too much of a class act to put his own donation links in an email like that, but I'm kinda trashy so here it is: