Monday, November 10, 2008

New York Times Blindly Reports Illegal Military Activity

For some time now, I have been horrified by the corporate media's tendency to report on covert military or intelligence missions that flagrantly violate international law without ever putting the actions in (il)legal context. Case in point: the New York Times today reported that for the past four years the U.S. military has been illegally invading countries that have not committed a single act against America and killing people therein.

If Syria were to send troops into Israel to kill West Bank settlers it accused of slaughtering Palestinians, this would be an act of war.

If Mexico regularly sent drug enforcement agents to assassinate drug importers they accused of narcoterrorism in San Diego, this would be an international scandal.

So, why does the Times think it's appropriate to report on a story of the U.S. military assassinating people in sovereign countries as if it were an action movie without placing the actions in (im)moral and (il)legal context? Not to mention the fact that the wisdom of this type of "intelligence"-driven covert activity is not questioned in light of horrific "intelligence" failures on September 11, 2001 and in the ramp-up to the Iraq war, during which time we were assured that Iraq had all types of chemical, biological and even nuclear weapons (yet close inspection revealed that Iraq possessed none of the above)? And these are the same intelligence agencies we should rely upon when sending U.S. covert military forces to kill people who may or may not be terrorists, in sovereign countries, and in violation of international law?

To confuse the uneducated reader, the Times includes a lengthy description of how these illegal acts are "authorized" by high-ranking U.S. military and civilian leaders, none of whom have the authority to unilaterally circumvent international law. It would be the equivalent of me arguing in court that I should not be convicted of murder because I talked to a few high priced lawyers about it and we all agreed it would be okay for me to start killing people. The idea is ridiculous on its face.

The recent raid into Syria was not the first time that Special Operations forces had operated in that country, according to a senior military official and an outside adviser to the Pentagon.

Since the Iraq war began, the official and the outside adviser said, Special Operations forces have several times made cross-border raids aimed at militants and infrastructure aiding the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq.

The raid in late October, however, was much more noticeable than the previous raids, military officials said, which helps explain why it drew a sharp protest from the Syrian government.

Thus, even when the Times makes a brief mention of sovereign nation Syria complaining about the incursions, the "protest" is not put in context of an allegation that international law was flagrantly broken by these covert acts, none of which were (or ever would be) approved by the U.N. Security Council, the body that has been given the authority to authorize military actions against (read: killing people within) sovereign states (however one may question the moral authority underlying the authority of the five permanent members of the Security Council to make such decisions). "Protest" is the descriptive word used, as if this were a boycott launched by picket sign-toting hippies, not an explosive allegation of the wanton disregard of the rule of law by the United States military.

Of course, a quick read through "A People's History of the United States" and "Into The Buzzsaw" would reveal the corporate media's complicity in all manner of illegal activities by the U.S. military in the name of imperialism (or under the general mistaken belief that the U.S. military is somehow exempt from the U.N. charter and other tenets of international law), but it never ceases to amaze me, an an impartial, historically aware observer.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Fox News Uses Nader Statement Against Him

Fox News is no champion for race relations, so for them to use a poorly thought-out racially charged statement from Nader to castigate him is pathetic. I strongly disagree with Nader's usage of the racially loaded term 'Uncle Tom' against the first African-American President (as I would if he used it against any black person) because I think racially loaded terms constitute ad hominem attacks when we should be LASER-FOCUSED ON ISSUES at this crucial juncture in American history. Still, shame on Fox for its continued attempts to undermine anyone who doesn't strictly follow the corporatist line and in pretending to be morally above it all as they do it.

Obama made judgments I questioned when he was a Senator and statements I questioned when he was a candidate. I will continue to make my resistance known (and hopefully felt) if he speaks or acts in a manner I find to be anti-progressive, pro-corporatist or pro-militaristic. I still deplore Nader's head-shaking-ly horrible choice of words, but I deplore Fox News (aka Faux News or Fixed News) even more.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Sexism In The Media Coverage of this Campaign

Sadly, up until now, Clinton supporters have done a poor job of pointing out specific instances of gender bias in the media coverage of this historic campaign. Even as an Obama supporter, I saw comments made by pundits that were clearly beyond the pale that somehow went unchallenged. However, the Women's Media Center has done a SUPERB job of creating a video montage that pieces together some of the most offensive comments made by some of the more thoughtless pundits out there (this whole 'comment first, think later' trend in punditry has to be killed at the stake).

As an Obama supporter, I thought that MSNBC's decision to have an all-white male cast of commentators (with the exception of a brief comment from Harold Ford) cover yesterday's historic June 3 Obama "victory" speech and Clinton "(non-)concession" speech was an amazingly thoughtless editorial decision. The first African-American candidate to secure a major party presidential nomination and the first woman to lose a high profile race for the same position and reaction to the night culminating these events is covered by four white men? Absurd.

In any case, as the father of a beautiful young girl, this state of affairs worries me deeply.

If this concerns you, please sign the WMC petition on this issue and link/forward this blog entry to anyone you think would be concerned.

Washington Post Misses Obvious Questions

The Washington Post's coverage on the Metropolitan Police Department's latest ineffectual idea to take on a sudden spike in crime once again fails to address key questions.

MPD says it will cordon off one block on a one-way one-lane major thoroughfare in the violence-plagued Trinidad neighborhood.

But The Post fails to ask some basic key questions:

Why this block? Is this particular block a high crime area? Exactly how many people have been shot from vehicles or in vehicles? Can't pedestrians shoot people sitting in vehicles, decimating the logic for half the rationale here? How many shooters are on foot?

Since Montello is a one-lane one-way street (a key fact not mentioned in this article), won't this just create gridlock for people legitimately trying to navigate Trinidad residential streets? Also, since the location of the checkpoint is known, won't criminals just take West Virginia or Trinidad Ave instead?

This doesn't sound very effectual at ALL.

If there is an open air drug market on this block, it will move to another block.

There have been a lot of killings in that area, but I don't think this is anywhere near a solution.

More officers on bike patrol, at night, might be an effective way of reducing a brazen crime like out-in-the-open homicide, but this seems like it will just slow traffic, not crime.

Local Indiana News Welcomes Marine Invasion

Is there any action committed by the U.S military which the corporate news structure will critically analyze?

Despite the fact that we're currently at war with TWO countries where plenty of urban areas are available for training, the Marines laughably claim they have to train for urban warfare in Indianapolis and a local news channel unquestionably swallows and regurgitates this story in the link above.

These PR-trained robots will probably be grinning ear to ear when they report that we've all been sold as slaves to Halliburton, too.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Why I Like Jay-Z More Than Nas In 2008

Nas apparently showed himself to be unbelievably idiotic in this recent Urb interview:

He talks about injecting a message into his music, but admits to never once donating to a charity or special cause "yet," although he admires the philanthropic work of Ludacris and Jay-Z. He hints at the evils of a consumer culture, but defends Steve Stoute's work to "urbanize" McDonalds. ("I don't think he's out to kill black people with McDonalds. I think he's just a business guy and we know McDonalds is interested in the black community for whatever reason, good or bad, whatever.")

A guy who has had platinum records for the past 12 years says he hasn't donated to charity...YET.

And the Mcdonald's quote? Well, yeah, we can safely say Steve Stoute is probably not trying to kill black people with McDonald's (LOL), but for Nas not to be able to comprehend (or at least openly state) how his ex-manager Stoute is waist deep in "the evils of consumer culture" is hysterical. Some people will give the Lil Homie the credit of saying that maybe he was misquoted, but I've read 14 years of Nas interviews and this sounds spot on.

That is to say: this is unadulterated dumbassery.

And, to make it worse, he wanted to release a concept album titled N----r, until a rep at his label allegedly convinced him Wal-Mart would not dig this idea.

Somebody "Drop Squad" this guy ASAP.

Smarten up, Nas.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Obama In Line To Pass Clinton In Pledged Delegates

Tonight will be the night when Obama acquires the majority of pledged delegates that were available for a candidate to receive in this Democratic primary season. It is a symbolic milestone, but an important one in the consideration of the superdelegates and and psychologically (I'm sure it says a lot to Democratic donors as well). It's almost over now...

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Washington Post Biased Against Obama?


Obama made a major speech on race on March 18. By the morning of March 19, was covering the speech heavily with a feature article as the second story on the front page and three editorials. Within a few hours, the three editorials were gone and the article on the speech was replaced with the non-story of Clinton releasing her White House schedule (initially posted without any analysis of the released materials, just an announcement of the release). While the editorials may indeed rotate that quickly to add new content (I never noticed the turnaround speed), the decision to replace the story on the speech (considered important enough for CNN to carry live in its entirety) with a Clinton story initially lacking any analysis seems absurd (why not wait until the materials could be reviewed by reporters and an actual angle for the story could be developed before yanking the Obama story, his response to the Paster Wright debacle which dominated several news cycles?).

On Monday, March 17 (on page A-5 of the physical paper and prominently featured as the second story on for most of that day), the Post ran a story on whether Obama could win the white male vote (an odd query considering how many overwhelmingly white states Obama has won with double digit margins). This story, weak premise and all, included an accompanying sidebar that omitted factual data that favored Sen. Obama. The story's accompanying sidebar, entitled "White Men Can Jump", was supposed to summarize the race so far and present how well Sen. Obama has performed so far in winning the white male vote, but shockingly the sidebar only covered 29 of the 42 contests held to date, not discussing a significant number of Sen. Obama's wins in overwhelmingly white states like Colorado and making the race appear much closer than it is as far as the white male vote is concerned as well as generally (Obama has been ahead in pledged delegates since Iowa, ahead in total delegates and the popular vote for weeks now, has won 30 of the past 42 contests, including margins of 20% or greater in 20 of his victories, yet the Post refuses to properly designate him as a front runner in this race).

Post, why has thou forsaken Barack?

The offending sidebar in question:

A list of who has won which state so far is in the upper right corner of the following page (note that Obama has won by a margin of 20% or more in 20 of his wins so far):

If you agree that the sidebar is misleading due to its random selection of contests and the editorial decision to remove states where Obama won a sizable white male vote, please write the author at the link above and urge him to encourage his fellow employees at the Post to report on this campaign more fairly in the future. The race is not a tie, Clinton has been behind in pledged delegates since Iowa (usually parallel to the popular vote, where she is also losing to Obama).

The Post coverage on this campaign has been inherently tilted towards Clinton, who they treated as the frontrunner when she was ahead and as tied when she fell behind.