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March 31, 2007

How to kick John Bolton's ass

A young anti-war Iraqi woman, Tony Benn and assorted others show how it's done.

Good show!

Why not a chocolate Jesus?

Because some people's religious sensibilities are waaaaay too easily offended.

A New York art gallery has decided to cancel an exhibit of a chocolate sculpture of Jesus Christ after protests by a US Catholic group.

The six-foot (1.8m) sculpture, entitled "My Sweet Lord", depicts a naked Jesus Christ with his arms outspread.

The sculpture, by artist Cosimo Cavallaro, was to have been displayed from Monday at Manhattan's Lab Gallery.

The timing, over Easter Holy Week - the most important part of the Christian year - provoked an outcry.

The Roger Smith Hotel housing the Lab gallery decided to cancel the exhibition after the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights called for a boycott.

"We're delighted with the outcome," said Kiera McCaffrey, spokeswoman for the League.

Ms McCaffrey had called the exhibit "an assault on Christians".

"They would never dare do something similar with a chocolate statue of the Prophet Mohammed naked with his genitals exposed during Ramadan."

Well, no...but then, most Islamic art doesn't portray any living thing, let alone Mohammed, at any time. That's their tradition, after all. They believe that on the Day of Judgment, Allah will challenge the image-maker to endow his or her creation with a soul, and if s/he can't do it...well...

On the other hand, no matter how Catholic you may be, you must concede that you have images of the Baby Jesus that show the Holy Penis, and no one has come down hard on them, even if they're displayed on Christmas Eve. (Strangely, no one wants to talk about the Feast of the Circumcision, although the saga of the Holy Foreskin recently made some news.)

Someone at FaithCommons has some good, trenchant things to say about the whole Jesus-penis issue:

I've obviously not seen the piece properly, but my sense is that it looks like a wonderfully cheeky critique of the saccharine nature of modern Easter-tide. I wonder if those in the Catholic League would normally purchase chocolate eggs for their children around this time? Are we not all guilty of sweetening the impact of Christ's death?

It also seems likely that the CL are offended by Jesus' penis being shown. Did he not have one? Would he not have been stripped naked to be crucified? Isn't a loin cloth just a lie?

It seems again that those who seek to represent Christ in anything other than explicitly Christian and conservative works are going to find themselves heavily under attack. But, as in the work of Serrano, what I hope is happening is that these artists are playing the Trickster role that they ought, and are forcing us to re-evaluate our engagement with Christ over Easter.

This is why the Catholic League are wrong to moan about the timing of the show being offensive... That's precisely why the timing of the show is right. It is making us all think. And if a chocolate Jesus is the worst sort of suffering we are going to get over the Holy Week, then we really need to spend more time meditating on the true nature of Christ's suffering, and on those in the world who are genuinely being persecuted for their faith.

Call me the Antichrist, but I can't see anything persecutory about a chocolate crucifix which dares to bare the Sacred Schlong. No one is being made a martyr by this except maybe the artist. Who cares if this Jesus isn't wearing a loincloth? He's also hanging without benefit of a cross to dangle from, and no one's getting worked up about that. It's still more Christian than chocolate eggs and bunnies, which are symbols of springtime but not Christianity.

The Beeb also wimped out by only showing the cocoa crucifixion from behind. Happily, I found a full frontal view:

My Sweet Lord indeed!

Hmmm, looks like My Sweet Lord is rather well hung in more ways than one.

PS: Crooks and Liars has Anderson Cooper video from CNN in which Bill Donohue, the far-right fatwa-issuer, makes an ass of himself, while the artist OWNS his ass. Don't miss it!

March 30, 2007

Festive Left Friday Blogging: A rare sight in Miami?

I hope not:

Members of the Bolivarian Circle of Miami

(Photo originally seen at Aporrea.)

They can't all be gusanos. Nice to see that there are Bolivarians there too.

Adelante y arriba, amig@s.

FOX News: The iron fist of "fair and balanced" hypocrisy

Being totally two-faced seems to be a prerequisite if you want to work at Fux Snooze. Get a load of what one sharp-eyed Venezuelan patriot has found concerning a particular reporter of theirs in Latin America:

(Thanks to GloriaAlBravoPueblo and Aporrea.)

Translation of the video follows:

Journalism or servility--how far will these lackeys go?

Remember Steve Harrigan, the "reporter" from FOX News? He of the "iron fist of Hugo Chavez"?

Let's refresh our memories...

[two clips of Harrigan giving a report which is clearly neither fair nor balanced]

Remember this face...

[another clip claiming Chavez uses the police, armed forces and military to oppress his people]

Let's see what happens to people who demonstrated AGAINST BUSH--Bogota, Colombia, March 11, 2007.

Amid police repression on the part of [Colombian president] Uribe, Harrigan gets his!

[clip of a demo, Harrigan reporting, as the Colombian riot police begin to move against some noisy but peaceful demonstrators. Harrigan gets hit off-camera by what he says is a stone. A cop then moves in towards Harrigan, making him uneasy.]

Of course Chavez sent them, right?

[repeat of same clip, this time with captioning. Caption reads...]

The demonstrators are yelling "Uribe paraco, el pueblo esta verraco", so of course they must be opposed to Chavez...

[clip continues]

Let's imagine for a moment that this occurred in Venezuela...

How many times would we have seen these images repeated by the private media?

I can just see Ms. Rice, declaring from the Empire that human rights have been violated in Venezuela...what do you think?

Harrigan, I'm awaiting your report: "The iron fists of Uribe and Bush" with these images.

Me too, Gloria, but I don't imagine we'll ever see it.

At least, not on FUX.

March 27, 2007

What's the frequency, Kenneth?

From the Department of Yeah, That'll Fly, a sour note on Better Living Through Crowd Control Technology:

The Mosquito - a crowd-control device emitting a pulsing sound that bugs teenagers but can't be heard by most adults - is creating a big buzz in Britain and may soon invade New York.

So far, 50 of the $750 black-box gadgets marketed online at kidsbegone.com have been sold stateside - and one is set to be piloted in a New Jersey skate park, to stop large groups of teens from gathering after closing hours.

[...]

The Mosquito was invented by Howard Stapleton, using research showing that after the age of 25 adults lose the ability to detect high-frequency sounds that teens can hear clearly.

"In the space of two weeks, it managed to solve a seven-year problem," said Chris Reynolds, community safety officer for Ealing Council in West London, which installed the device outside an apartment building for seniors where "bored children were creating noise and nuisance.

"It doesn't in any way damage kids' hearing - it sets off a really annoying pulse," said Reynolds, who is 26 and can barely detect the sound.

[...]

Dan Santell, who sells the device in the U.S., said Mosquito foes should consider that teenagers themselves download the sound as a ringtone because it can't be heard by teachers.

Um, Dan? You may want to warn those kids that the sound is only inaudible to persons over 25 who've abused their eardrums by listening to too much loud music. This presupposes that everyone over 25 has suffered high-frequency hearing loss due to noise pollution, but not everyone has. Surprise: some of us were prudent about hearing protection in our teens, and the sound, which is annoyingly like tinnitus, is still perfectly audible to us. I am in my late 30s and was able to hear it just fine. (You can too, by just clicking here.)

Oh, and kids? You can defeat this device by investing a buck or two in some noise-blocking earplugs. In fact, buy the plugs anyway, and wear them to concerts. And turn down the volume on your earphones! That way, you too will be able to hear this affront to civil liberties well into your thirties--just like your humble scribe!

Hugo Chavez: The dictator who wouldn't dictate

Incredible. Via Aporrea, I just found this bomblet about everybody's favorite accused dictator:

The president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez Frías, called upon the country to invent the revolutionary formula "with much flexibility and dynamism."

The head of state recalled the fact that a revolution requires popular creativity and "for this I cling to what Bolivar said: 'I believe more in the counsel of the people than in that of sages.'"

[...]

Chávez mentioned Cuban president Fidel Castro, in the sense that one of his greatest errors was "to believe that any single individual knew how to construct socialism."

(Translation mine.)

Well. How's that for a jaw-dropper? Not only is this "dictator" calling on his people to, if I'm reading this correctly, dictate to him what form the Bolivarian revolution must take, but also--and this is one in the eye for all those who persist in claiming he's copying Castro--he dares to criticize his so-called mentor!

What the hell do you call a dictator who refuses to dictate, I wonder?

March 26, 2007

Quotable: Conrad Black's father on life, the universe and everything

"Life is hell, most people are bastards, and everything is bullshit."

--attributed to Conrad Black's father, George, on his deathbed; if true, goes a long way toward explaining why Black fils turned out the way he did

Hey Chuck Norris: Shut up and sing, dammit!

Grab your barf bags, folks. Chuck Norris has reared his weaselly little head, and given me one more reason to utterly despise him:

In case you can't recall where you last saw that face, the TV show was "Walker, Texas Ranger"--in which the eponymous "hero", played by Norris, basically took the law in his own hands, beating the shit out of everyone who got in his way. (I often wonder if Connecticut Cowboy Dubya takes "Walker" as his model; certainly he acts that way.)

As to Norris's theory that the US was "founded on Christian principles"--why no, it wasn't. Behold, the Treaty of Tripoli--which states, among other things:

Art. 11. As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

The author of the treaty is one Joel Barlow, a diplomat to the Barbary Coast, as northern Africa was known in the late 1700s. This treaty was signed and endorsed by no less a figure than John Adams, then the first US Vice President and president of the US Senate, and soon to become the second President (he was succeeded in 1800 by Thomas Jefferson). You cannot get a much better endorsement than that, unless you get it from George Washington himself. If you look in the bible for that, though, you won't find anything like it. Damn shame, really, when you consider that Chuck Norris endorses it as a history text!

What? A peace treaty with the nations of northern Africa isn't enough for ya, Chuck? Well, then, maybe the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution should be the final word:

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

"All Treaties made"--surely that includes the Treaty of Tripoli, made in 1796-7.

Honestly, I wish Chuck had stuck to acting in tiresome beat-'em-ups. But you'll never hear a rightard telling Chuck to shut up and sing. They're still too busy terrorizing the Dixie Chicks. And way too busy forgetting what their own constitution actually says.

March 25, 2007

You want oil independence? You got it!

Unfortunately for the Terra-Free Oil Slicks, it's not THAT kind. In this case, it's oil independence for Venezuela.

Venezuela says it is working on a number of new oil deals with China, as it aims to reduce its dependence upon crude exports to the US.

The left-wing Venezuelan government said it would work with China National Petroleum Corporation to boost Chinese investment in its oil facilities.

It added that there were also joint plans to build a fleet of new tanker ships and three refineries in China.

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has long spoken of his hostility to the US.

His increasingly fraught relationship with America comes as he is pushing ahead with a nationalisation of Venezuela's oil industry.

Such a move would strip major US companies such as Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips and Chevron of their majority stakes in Venezuelan oil projects.

"The United States as a power is on the way down, China is on the way up. China is the market of the future," said Mr Chavez after the Chinese investment announcement.

China's breakneck economic growth of recent years means it is today the world's second-biggest oil consumer after the US.

Of course, the wording of this is a bit fudgy. As his CITGO donations to impoverished US citizens show, Chavez isn't at all hostile to the US; it's the leadership thereof that's a bugbear for him, and no surprises there. Who wouldn't be hostile to a regime that keeps trying, however unsuccessfully, to get him deposed and/or killed?

Hey, BushCo and all you Texas oilmen: Bet you're sorry about all that coupmongering now, eh? You've just sped up your own country's economic decline exponentially. Smooth move!

March 24, 2007

Pokin' the Bear

A little musical interlude featuring the inimitable pipes of the imbecilic Pigman, Rush Limbaugh.

BTW, Rush, I know some hungry polar bears who would LOVE you for lunch.

Repent, George Lucas!

Or I shall torment thee with the stylings of...

...Weird Al Yankovic making well-deserved hash of your prequels.

March 23, 2007

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Chavecito on tour

See if you can count the number of countries and agreements he covers here:

Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "grand tour", does it not?

(BTW, at one point he yells the Spanish equivalent of "Live Free or Die". So much for it being property of the US.)

March 22, 2007

ABC: Another Bad Channel

Oh my, they're not having a good week at all. Are they?

ABC News is marking the anniversary of the start of the Iraq War this week by reporting on its major survey of Iraqi public opinion. But when it comes to one fundamental tally of the cost of the war—the number of Iraqis who have been killed by the war—top ABC anchors are minimizing the death toll.

On the Sunday morning show This Week (3/18/07), George Stephanopoulos reported: "More than 3,200 U.S. military dead. At least 24,000 wounded. About 60,000 Iraqis killed." The next day on Good Morning America, his ABC colleague Diane Sawyer mentioned almost the same figures: "3,218 U.S. military fatalities and 24,042 U.S. wounded, not to mention the some 60,000 Iraqis who have been killed."

No source was given for the 60,000 figure by either anchor. The figure resembles the totals for Iraqi civilian deaths reported in English-language news reports by the Iraqi Body Count (IBC) project: between 59,326 and 65,160. (George W. Bush also appeared to rely on IBC's figures when asked in December 2005 how many Iraqis had been killed in the war; he gave the number of 30,000, which was close to IBC's tally at the time.)

Using IBC's count as an estimate of how many Iraqis have died in the war is sloppy reporting, however. For one thing, it is explicitly a count of *civilian* deaths, ignoring Iraqi combatants who died either resisting the U.S. invasion and occupation or defending the U.S.-backed government. Estimates for the number of Iraqi combatants killed in the initial invasion range from 7,600-10,800 (Project on Defense Alternatives, 10/20/03) to 13,500-45,000 (London Guardian, 5/28/03); the total of Iraqis killed fighting the U.S. has surely increased substantially in the four years that followed.

As for Iraqi forces allied with the U.S., the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count website has counted 6,301 deaths of Iraqi police and military, based on news reports, up to March 20, 2007. It's striking that even these allied deaths—nearly twice the number of U.S. forces killed—are often ignored in U.S. press accounts.

[...]

The standard way to estimate death tolls in war-torn areas is to use epidemiological surveys based on a random sampling of the population. The United Nations made one such survey in 2004, estimating 24,000 war-related deaths in roughly the first year of the conflict. Using that as a minimum annual figure—since it's recognized that violence has greatly intensified since the first year of the occupation—produces roughly 100,000 as a conservative estimate of Iraqi deaths. A comprehensive demographic survey by Johns Hopkins University published in the medical journal Lancet (10/21/06) arrived at a much higher death toll for the Iraq War: between 400,000 and 900,000 "excess" deaths by violence in Iraq-civilians and combatants-since the beginning of the U.S. invasion, with 600,000 being the mostly likely statistical estimate.

Given the difficulties inherit in gathering precise data on Iraqi deaths, journalists should cite a plausible range of casualty estimates, rather than using the lowest estimate available—as Sawyer and Stephanopoulos have done.

You can write to them about their boo-boo here: thisweek@abc.com

Auntie Bina, what's a "Moderate Voice"?

Well, sweetie, I'm not sure...but I think it's the sound the wheels of a car make when they hit a dead animal lying on the double yellow line in the middle of the road.

The only funny thing here is the name of his stupid TV show. Chavez has already granted himself the power to enact so-called "revolutionary laws" by decree (i.e., naked tyranny), and now he's trying to smother not just the opposition but his own allies. He evidently wants no opposition and no dissent whatsoever, even from those who are inclined to support him. It's a move to one-party rule, the rule of one man, himself.

Hello, President? Goodbye, liberty and democracy.

(Self-pimping link as in original.)

Oh, my. What logic, what civility, what moderation. (I note in passing that the insulting, gratuitously nasty tone of the piece appears to be in direct contravention of the blog's self-stated rules of engagement.) Supposedly, that's the sound a "moderate" makes when he searches his Underoos for gonads, finds 'em, and hangs on for dear life to denounce a foreign dictator.

Unfortunately, what he's really found in there is a squishy load of ca-ca. Behold the magic of the great and powerful Internets in the hands of a responsible researcher!

Venting his frustration about his coalition partners' reluctance to join a new unified socialist party, Chavez said yesterday that those who don't join "may leave." Representatives from the three largest parties that are part of Chavez's coalition have said, though, that they are not interested in leaving the coalition.

[...]

Last December, shortly after his reelection, Chavez had announced that he wanted all the 24 parties that support him and his government's project to merge into a single newly created party and that this new party would be the most democratic party in the history of Venezuela. Last week Chavez named a commission with representatives from several different parties to launch the organization of the new party formation.

Chavez's own MVR party (Movement for a fifth Republic) and several smaller parties that received less than 1% popular support in the last presidential election have already announced their dissolution so that their members can join the new party.

[...]

PCV General Secretary Oscar Figuera said, "The comrades of the PCV I know will never follow the opposition … You will never see the Communist Party in the opposition. You will always see them accompanying the leader of the process: President Hugo Chavez Frías."

Figuera also said that the PCV might support the formation of the PSUV by being involved in the discussions leading up to the formation of the new party without dissolving the PCV. That way they would be able to contribute their ideas while still waiting to see the outcome before making a final decision to dissolve the party.

PPT General Secretary José Albornoz also commented on the controversy today, saying that the PPT is not interested in getting involved in a polemic with the President. "This is not a problem of definition," said Albornoz in a press conference today, "We are revolutionaries and we have demonstrated this in our political actions."

In an interview that appeared today in the oppositional daily Tal Cual, Podemos General Secretary Ismael Garcia insisted that he had been misinterpreted with regard to his comments about the formation of the PSUV.

"We [in Podemos] are not denying the leadership of Chavez. It is blackmail to make it look like if I say something different I am not recognizing the leadership of the President," said Garcia.

Long story made short: Chavez says they are free to leave. They don't want to leave; they just want more input in what is already an impressively participatory, democratic, deliberative process. Chances are pretty good that after this brouhaha dies down, they'll get it; Chavez and his MVR-coalition government have been pretty accommodating to their differences for eight whole years, after all.

There's your "tyranny", pal. Support for one democratically elected president from 24 different parties. And most of those have voluntarily dissolved to form the PSUV. It's just these few larger ones who are still the holdouts, and even they fundamentally agree with and support what Chavez is doing! Funny how you, a self-proclaimed "moderate", neglected to even peek at the other side of the coin. Maybe that's because it doesn't live up to your stereotypically right-wing view of Chavez as a dictator (because he doesn't march according to Washington's not so democratic dictates)?

BTW, you're all wet on the other thing, about rule by decree, too:

Venezuela's opposition and critics of the Chavez government around the world finally feel vindicated (again). The Venezuelan dictatorship that they have been predicting for the past eight years has, according to them, finally come to pass -- for the sixth or so time. Already when Chavez was first elected in 1998 critics predicted Chavez would bring about a dictatorship in Venezuela. They kept having to revise their estimates for when this dictatorship would set in, though, because following each prediction of impending dictatorship Chavez would do something that completely negated the announcement.

For example, following his election in 1998, the first thing he did was to call for a referendum on whether to have a new constitution and held a vote for a constitutional assembly. When the constitutional assembly took on more powers than the legislature, opponents were again screaming "dictatorship," except that the assembly proposed a constitution that was more democratic than the previous one. Similarly, the 49 law-decrees of 2001 were another marker for the onset of the Chavez dictatorship, except that these laws democratized land ownership and access to credit in Venezuela, among other things. Then again, the April 2002 coup was justified with the story that Chavez was ordering supporters to shoot at opponents, except following the coup very few of the coup organizers were arrested. This pattern repeated itself again with the 2002-2003 oil industry shutdown and with the struggle around the 2004 recall referendum. Each time the opposition and international critics were forced to revise the start date of the Venezuelan dictatorship backwards, much like a religious cult that predicts the end of the world and keeps having to revise its doomsday date.

Dictatorship by democracy, democracy and more democracy? What kind of dictator refuses to lop off the heads of his opponents, and even refuses to personally order their arrest? Hell...everytime Chavez has received a democratic mandate to invoke the enabling law, the result has been more, not less, power to the people. In fact, his rule by decree is surprisingly limited:

The eleven areas where Chavez will be allowed to pass laws for the next 18 months are:

1. Transformation of the state, where laws are to be passed that make the state more efficient, honest, participatory, rational, and transparent.

2. Popular (grassroots) participation, in the economic and social policies of the state, via planning, social comptrol, and the direct exercise of popular sovereignty.

3. Essential values for the exercise of public functions, so that corruption would be eradicated definitively, the strengthening of ethics, and the formation of public servants.

4. In the area of economic and social policy, so as to create a new sustainable economic and social model. The goal is to achieve equality and the equitable distribution of wealth through investment in health care, education, and social security.

5. Finances and taxation, to modernize the regulatory system in the monetary, banking, insurance, and tax systems.

6. Citizen and judicial security, for the improvement of citizen identification, migration control, and the fight against impunity.

7. Science and technology, so it is developed to satisfy the needs of education, health, environment, biodiversity, industrialization, quality of life, security, and defense.

8. Territorial order, for a new distribution and occupation of subnational space, so as to improve the activities of the state and of endogenous development.

9. Security and defense, for the development of the structure and organization of the Armed Forces.

10. Infrastructure, transport, and services, to promote the existing human and industrial potential for the optimization of land, rail, sea, river, and air transportation, as well as of telecommunications and information technology.

11. Energy sector, so that oil production in the Orinoco Oil Belt may be nationalized and turned into joint ventures, tax rates changed, and electricity companies nationalized, among other things.

That's NOT what a dictatorship looks like. That's a distinct separation of presidential powers. In all other fields, the Venezuelan Congress is still the sovereign lawmaker. And everything President Chavez decrees, like everything the Congress does, is subject to a recall vote by the people if they find it untenable. That's a piece of news the "moderate" (cough) US media and the right-wing blogosphere are both strangely reluctant to impart.

There's lots more there to set you straight, Mr. Moderate--if you have the guts to be a true moderate and actually read it. I hope you haven't splattered too many of your innards on that double yellow line...

...badump-bump.

One of our submarines

...is missing

tonight

seems she ran aground on manoeuvres...

Two British sailors have died in an accident on a nuclear submarine.

A hungry heart

to regulate their breathing

one more night

the Winter Boys are freezing in their spam tin

Baltic moon

along the Northern seaboard

and down below

the Winter Boys are waiting for the storm

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed there had been an explosion on HMS Tireless during an exercise under the Arctic icecap at 0420 GMT on Wednesday.

One other member of the crew of the Devonport-based submarine was injured and is receiving medical treatment.

Bye-bye Empire, Empire bye-bye

shallow water -- channel and tide

and I can trace my history

down one generation to my home

in one of our submarines

Failed air-purification equipment is thought to have caused the explosion. The MoD expressed its "deep regret" and said an inquiry would be carried out.

The SSN Attack Submarine was on a joint British-American exercise off the coast of Alaska when the incident happened.

The MoD said a small explosion had caused "a small amount of smoke", which had been contained in the equipment and the immediate area.

The red lights flicker, sonar weak

air valves hissing open

half her pressure blown away

flounder in the ocean

see the Winter Boys --

drinking heavy water from a stone

Bye-bye Empire, Empire bye-bye

shallow water -- channel and tide

A spokesman said the reactor was unaffected by the accident and stressed Tireless was not one of the submarines that carries Trident missiles.

The submarine was safe and on the surface, it confirmed.

The dead sailors' next of kin have been informed and a statement is expected to be released on Thursday.

Bye-bye Empire, Empire bye-bye

tired illusions drown in the night

and I can trace my history

down one generation to my home

in one of our submarines

In a statement, the MoD said: "The two members of the crew died as a result of the initial accident.

"Their next of kin have been informed and our sympathies are with them and their friends at this difficult time."

one of our submarines is missing tonight

seems she ran aground on manoeuvres

one of our submarines

March 20, 2007

The Fantasy of Freedom: A Venezuelan documentary

The US peace movement through the eyes of a Venezuelan film crew. Features a short interview at the end with filmmaker Liliane Blaser.

CPAC '07: The Wrath of Cons!

Featuring, in their natural habitat:

Michelle "Unhinged" Malkin,

Dinesh "Cultural Imperialism" D'Souza,

Tom "I'm Not a White Supremacist" Tancredo,

David "Academic Stalinist" Horowitz,

Grover "Drown Me in a Bathtub" Norquist,

and of course,

Ann "Faggot" Coulter.

Who you callin' a chicken, bunnypants?

Just so's you know: in English you call cowards "chicken", but in German, it's Angsthase--literally, "scaredy-rabbit".

March 19, 2007

True Confessions Too

So who says torture doesn't work?

I hear he also knows where D.B. Cooper and all his money landed. Torture him some more!

If you thought Baba Wawa was bad...

...you ain't seen the half of it, baby. This is where learning Spanish comes in so handy--you get the big picture someone else doesn't want you to see.

Can you believe that more than ten minutes into this interview, she's STILL dwelling on the "name-calling"? The truth hurts, and Baba is shocked, SHOCKED to hear it. So shocked, she can't stop flogging the dead horse even when her questions have been answered several times over. Lady, let it go already.

And speaking of name-calling, SHE calls HIM "an enemy of George Bush". Memo to Baba: If you want to get on your high horse about anything someone else does, don't stoop to doing it yourself!

What I get a kick out of here, though, is how Chavecito sets Baba (or should I call her Baa-Baa?) straight. For example, she accuses him of being the biggest arms buyer--first in the world (she's then forced to backpedal and say "Latin America", also incorrectly)--and he refutes her neatly with facts. He knows just how much Brazil, Chile and Colombia have bought of everything, and in each case, it's more than he's done. He then points out how much more he's spent on eradicating poverty. He does this repeatedly, on a number of fronts: Fidel, Iran, the RCTV kerfuffle, everything. As he says, the context is so much larger--and she misses it!

And speaking of missed context: transcript of the ABC segment here.

As you can see, what ABC in its wisdom decided to extract is all the worst and shallowest parts of the interview. What they could have done to assure REAL balance or depth, is taken up instead with needless blather--namely Baba Wawa's and John "Corporate Whore" Stossel's VERY unprofessional editorializations. These are meant to bolster the negative picture they want you to retain, and to negate the tiny, token positives the segment shows. They insinuate that Chavez is part of a "family dictatorship" himself, simply by virtue of his association with Fidel Castro. By that token, you might as well say Chavez is an actor because he is friends with Danny Glover. Similarly, you might as well say that Pierre Trudeau, our late great prime minister, was a communist--he also was friendly with Fidel. Guilt by association is one of the oldest smears in the book, and it could hardly be more blatant here.

Stossel is also lying through his 'stache when he says Chavez "rarely grants interviews". He's constantly in front of the press, both at home and abroad; it's a wonder the man finds time to govern! In fact, the press is so constant a presence in Chavez's life that he's just built a brand-new state-of-the-art press gallery at Miraflores.

But then again, this kind of half-witted observation comes as no surprise; consider the source. Stossel is well known for his denial of scientific fact, as well as for touting the private sector and slamming the public. So naturally he has nothing good, or even remotely factual, to say about a man whose mission as president has been to unravel decades of private-sector misrule in his own country!

Of course, ABC knows all about private-sector misrule. They can't even present a responsible, fact-based docudrama about 9-11. Ever wonder why?

I gave up wondering a long time ago. Right about the same time I quit watching ABC. In fact, for the very same reason. But I'll leave it to you to figure out what that reason is.

Addenda:

When you hear the words "FOX News", the phrase "useless idiots" often comes to mind. Especially when you watch these telebimbettes savaging Baba Wawa for all the wrong reasons, and repeating unsubstantiated codswallop from Venezuelans who "fled" nothing worse than the empowerment of the underclasses.

And speaking of savaging, here are some others who also got it bass-ackwards: Enter Stage Fright, Investor's Bullshit Daily, and NewsBuggerers. People, please--you're embarrassing yourselves. Spend that time and energy on enlightening yourselves for a change!

Meanwhile, someone at Aporrea wasn't fooled. Bless you--it's good to know I'm not the only one who noticed all that!

Gabo snubs the IAPA

From Aporrea.org, a startling little announcement about Gabriel Garcia Marquez:

We were truly concerned about the broadcast homage that the IAPA was going to give to the celebrated Colombian writer. But in a masterful move, at the last moment he excused himself, saying he was "too tired".

[...]

Bill Gates was also to be there, to take part in a discussion about "freedom of the press".

Marcel Granier was to have staged a performance presenting himself as an innocent victim of Chavez[...]

From Havana, where he was with Fidel during the latter's convalescence, Garcia Marquez said that yes, he was listed as slated to attend.

The Nobel prizewinner, who arrived in Cartagena yesterday, excused himself from the event because he was very tired.

(Translation mine; link added)

And, seeing as he's just turned 80, he's entitled to excuse himself with any polite excuse he likes.

But the IAPA has a history of being rather biased, casting doubts on its own qualifications to pontificate about press freedom. The IAPA is not so much about the freedom of journalists as it is about the privileges of media owners. It also has a hard line on Cuba--and is based in Miami, a city well known for hating Cuba's guts. A point which I'm sure is not lost on the Nobelist, especially since he's friendly with evil, wicked, press-oppressing Fidel!

It's also interesting that they chose to hold this meeting in Colombia--land of the assassinated journalists. For all the squawking about press repression in Chavez's Venezuela (just ask poor, beleaguered Marcel Granier, who's about to lose his expiring broadcast licence for his role in the coup of '02--and who was, paradoxically, more than happy to self-censor for previous administrations, as well as Pedro the Brief, who REALLY cracked down on press voices), the situation in Colombia is much worse. For example, they've jailed Telesur's Freddy Munoz, for no apparent reason other than that he works for a Venezuela-based multinational network that takes an independent editorial stance and is often critical of heads of state. Yet not a peep from IAPA about that? Press freedom is somehow more under siege in Venezuela and Cuba, where, unlike in Colombia, no journalists have been murdered by right-wing thugs with connections to government? Whatever.

Maybe Gabo really was tired. The question is, what is he tired of? And why doesn't the IAPA get tired of it, too?

March 18, 2007

Let's call Barbara Walters by her right name

Namely, a HACK. See why, before greedhead Viacom pulls THIS, too:

Oh gawd, what an embarrassment to journalism that woman is. Shallow, shoddy, partisan, and at times, just plain nasty. She talks to him in a fawning tone, but of him in a disparaging one. Notice that? I did, and it made me cringe. It smacks of unreliability--she's not out to tell the truth or anything approaching it. She's only there to use her interviewee--chew him up and then spit him out in whatever form she's decided he must take. She's not a servant of truth, as a good journalist should be. The only thing Barbara Walters serves is Barbara Walters--and maybe the editorial line of ABC, which, as I've already noted, is hostile to Chavez.

The effort she makes to hide her bias is flimsy; she goes to the barrio and interviews one or two happy Chavistas, but so what? She interviews THREE escualidos first, and makes it sound like those prep-schoolish disociados are somehow representative of something, like a majority of Venezuelan public opinion. (They aren't.) She gives clear priority to the anti-Chavez side, even though they're greatly outnumbered, as even a cursory glance at the last election returns will tell you. (And for those who want something more in-depth, here you go. The Internets are your friends!)

She also makes it sound like the gated fortresses these poor little rich babies live in arose in response to Chavez, when in fact they were there, were a symptom of malaise, and a source of deep resentment, before he was even a blip on the political radar. Enormous class divisions existed long before Chavez ran for office, but you'd never know it from her report, which blatantly flip-flops the true order of things. Her token effort to strike a balance is thus undermined even before she makes it. One wonders why she bothers at all.

Since she thinks he deserves to be demonized for his "name-calling", let's call a spade a goddamned shovel already.

Baba Wawa, you're a two-faced, crapaganda-mongering bitch.

March 17, 2007

A rare moment of logic at the JPost

From, of all places, the Jerusalem Post, a rare moment of rationality, Chavecito-wise:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who maintains warm ties with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahamadinejad, said Friday in a television interview that he opposed Ahmadinejad's call to "wipe Israel off the map."

"I don't agree with [Ahmadinejad's] statements…I don't support causing harm to any nation," Chavez declared.

It doesn't last long beyond that, but hey, I'll take what I can get. At least this time, they put it up at the top, instead of burying it near the bottom as usual.

BTW, I'm still waiting for them to get rational when it comes to Ahmadinejad. As Juan Cole has pointed out, the "wipe Israel off the map" remark that gets so much press isn't at all what it's cracked up to be, especially by right-wing MSM outlets like the JPost:

...the actual quote, which comes from an old speech of Khomeini, does not imply military action, or killing anyone at all. The second reason is that it is just an inexact translation. The phrase is almost metaphysical. He quoted Khomeini that "the occupation regime over Jerusalem should vanish from the page of time." It is in fact probably a reference to some phrase in a medieval Persian poem. It is not about tanks.
Spock's logical response

"Sounds logical to me. Live long and prosper!"

The iRack

A good thing Apple doesn't make iStuff the way BushCo makes wars.

Police brutality in Tacoma

This is what a police state looks like. A peace demonstration was tear-gassed with ZERO provocation:

Police claim that barricades (sawhorses) were thrown at them, but this video clearly disproves that. There are no barricades in sight, let alone between the demonstrators and the line of battle-hungry cops. Right before the gas was fired, protesters had simply SAT DOWN, SINGING. It's kind of hard to throw a sawhorse from a seated position without losing the tune of "Give Peace a Chance"!

In fact the only thing that does get thrown here is the tear gas:

Some demonstrators decided to try to toss the canisters back in the direction from whence they came. This is, of course, AFTER the cops threw them at the peace protesters in the first place.

Like I always say: It's never a riot till the cops show up. Their job is to provoke violence, not quell it.

Seattle Indymedia story here.

March 16, 2007

A vast right-wing conspiracy? Say it ain't so!

Alas, it IS so, says none other

than Chavecito's older brother!

I now translate:

Popular Power minister for education, Adán Chávez, today confirmed that the Venezuelan media are conducting a campaign to confuse the Venezuelan people when it comes to education.

"The task of education is to strengthen consciousness to show that they [the opposition media] are telling a pack of lies."

He affirmed that the present campaign won't "have much effect on the people, but neither should it be underestimated."

[...]

"The opposition sectors have no arguments to contradict ours," he added.

Other than the usual tired "Castro-communism" witlessness, of course.

True Confessions

Khalid Sheikh Jeremy???

I always wondered if they might have been separated at birth.

"I shot Ronald Reagan,

I shot JFK,

I slept with Marilyn and she sung ME Happy Birthday!"

--Michael Franti

And in other news: Khalid Sheikh Jeremy confesses to creating pinworms, bird flu, pond scum, toejam, smegma, and advertising on the Internets. He also confessed to selling drugs to Anna Nicole--God rest her silicone soul.

You may now execute the bastard.

Festive Left Friday Blogging: How do you say "squirrely" in Spanish?

However you say it, Chavecito and Evo have the situation well in hand...

Chavecito and Evo drive los escualidos squirrely!

And speaking of squirrely, get a load of ABC's split personality. On the one hand, they have Chavecito giving good interview to Baba Wawa. On the other, they peddle locura like this--from a yellow journalist with a habit of getting herself sued for libel (and storming out of interviews).

Of course, this is all to be expected: Dubya's smarm offensive flopped as predicted, while Chavecito's alterna-tour (complete with substance!) was a smashing success. A situation guaranteed to drive the American Broadcaster of Crapaganda nutso.

(And in other squirrely news, check out how the "Business Media Institute", no doubt another far-right sausage factory, lost the last remnants of its marbles over the Baba Wawa schmoozefest. Chavecito los tiene locos--not that THEY need any help.)

March 15, 2007

It's hard work!

Dubya crates lettuce; it's hard work!

First honest work he's ever done in his life. Better late than never, I suppose.

Hola, amigos!

BTW, Dubya--did you cause this?

Oh, that's right. You weren't in Honduras. You were too busy lifting a leg elsewhere, pissing off everyone in sight while your country rapidly falls apart at the seams. My mistake!

March 14, 2007

Quotable: John Stuart Mill on conservatards

"I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative. I believe that is so obviously and universally admitted a principle that I hardly think any gentleman will deny it."

-- John Stuart Mill

And this is why we call them banana republics

What's a banana republic? A dictatorship (or nominal, weak "democracy") where organized crime and oppression hold sway on behalf of Big Bidness--the real ruler of the country.

Like, oh, say, Colombia.

US banana company Chiquita Brands International has said it will plead guilty to a count of doing business with a terrorist group in Colombia.

The firm has agreed to pay a court settlement of $25m (£13m) to resolve an inquiry by the US Justice Department.

Prosecutors said Chiquita paid about $1.7m between 1997 and 2004 to the United Self Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC) in return for "protection".

Chiquita says it was only motivated by the desire to safeguard its employees.

Shades of the United Fruit Company, no?

Nice to know the old bastard never died.

March 13, 2007

Long live Chavez, down with Bush!

Bet Dubya wishes he could get a reception like this:

This is what Chavecito got in Haiti.

And look, Ma: No burning effigies!

Abu Ga-Reed

Walter Reed, shades of Abu Ghraib

Ain't privatization grand?

Scared shitless of success

Big, bad, brave Dubya--whatta man. He's so not afraid of Chavecito that when asked about him by a reporter, he does what any red-blooded gringo cowboy would do...

...he dodges the question in the hope that no one will notice how he's quaking in his too-big boots.

"Hugo Chavez suggested that you are afraid to mention his name," asked a U.S. journalist yesterday, "so are you? and how much of a threat is he to United States interests in the hemisphere?"

Rather than respond or decline to answer, Bush changed the subject.

"To South America and Central America to advance a positive constructive diplomacy that's being conducted by my government on behalf of the American people," Bush began, "My message to the people in our neighborhood is that we care about the human condition and that we believe the human condition can be improved in a variety of ways. One, investment and so the question is how can we have constructive dialogue with our neighbors as to how to spread the benefits of investment."

Translation: Bend over and spread 'em, this won't hurt a bit unless you struggle.

In other words, just the kind of talk we expect from a cowardly bully who is prone to fantasies of sodomy. Notice, however, that not one word of that has anything to do with the price of tea in China--or Chavecito.

Bush stated that he is also "reminding people that the US taxpayer is most generous, when it comes to bilateral aid." According to the President bilateral aid to Latin American has doubled under his Presidency to $1.6 billion annually, "and most of the money is aimed at social justice programs, programs like education and health care."

Meanwhile, back in Bush's America, healthcare and education are both going to pot. The latter is going to pot so there'll be more warm, underemployed bodies to send off to war; the former, as a result of so much money being diverted from healthcare to warmongering, that the casualties of warmongering have no more healthcare left, and thus no choice but to be sent back to war. The common denominator here? Cash grudgingly given, when it's given at all.

Memo to the Uruguayans: Don't count on seeing one red cent from BushCo, and if you do, take a close look at the strings attached. You'll find several.

"And so the trip is a statement of the desire to work together with people in our neighborhood," Bush continued, "I've been to Central and South America a lot since I've been the president, because I fully understand that a prosperous neighborhood is in the interest of the United States of America. I would call our diplomacy quiet and effective diplomacy. Diplomacy all aimed at helping people. Aimed at elevating the human condition. Aimed at expressing the great compassion of the American people."

By now, his interlocutor must've been wondering what the hell this clown was babbling about. For one thing, Dubya has most certainly NOT spent much time in Central and South America since he stole the election of '00--even the Shoe Queen, his most frequent errand-girl, hasn't been there often, or been particularly well-received whenever she showed her face Ferragamos. And when she did turn up, Chavecito made merciless fun of her.

For another, the "diplomacy" in question has been neither quiet nor effective, least of all where Venezuela is concerned. The flopped coup of '02, as Chavecito so astutely noted, smelled of Bush's oily fist. Ever since then, Dubya's been on the back foot, and were it not for the war on Iraq and the planned war on Iran, there'd be a war on Venezuela. As it is, the latest piece of "quiet, effective diplomacy" is, as Chavecito rightly notes, a professional killer. (Just ask the Hondurans about Ambassador Negroponte sometime--especially if you want to hear a long, colorful string of Spanish expletives.)

If Dubya's hoping to drum up local support for anything like that, he won't be getting much. Unlike Saddam Hussein (and indeed Dubya himself), Chavecito is not only democratically elected, he's wildly popular in Venezuela and just about everywhere else. Chavecito's friend Lula, for example, had to urge Bushie-boy to respect Latin American sovereignty. Guess who he was really talking about.

No, Chavecito won't be isolated, and that's just what Dubya's afraid of...especially when the questioning comes back around to the ol' point that those pesky reporters just won't let drop:

Journalist Maria Jose Pino from Uruguay Television asked President Bush, "Taking in to account, the regional context in which we find ourselves, governed by leaders such as Vasquez, Lula, Kirchner, Hugo Chavez, Morales, and Bachelet, what differences and similarities do you find among them, and what is your opinion of Vasquez and Uruguay?"

George Bush--who by his answer appeared to have missed the first half of the question--responded, "the temptation is to try to get people to talk about their differences. I want to talk about our commonalities. We share respect for each other. We respect our countries. We respect our histories and traditions and we share respect for a government where the people decide who's in charge. Interestingly enough, we both have gotten rid of colonial powers in our past and I think it's that heritage that makes Uruguay and the United States such natural partners."

"We talk about the need to invest and grow economies through investment," Bush continued. "That's common ground that leads to a positive relationship. We both recognize that education is vital for the success of our respective countries."

Maria, Maria, Maria...surely you should know better by now than to ask double-barrelled questions! That just lets the interviewee pick which one he'll answer. And as you can see, Dubya chose to stay "on message"--not address your real point at all!

Meanwhile, if you want someone who's not afraid to tackle the issues head-on, there's the guy whose name Bush is too afraid to hear, never mind utter:

PRESIDENT HUGO CHAVEZ: [translated by Democracy Now] On the other side of the river, that is where that little gentleman of the North must be. Let's give him a big boo! Gringo, go home!

I am convinced that our friends in Brasilia and in Montevideo are not going to feel offended, because we would not want to hurt any of our brethren from Uruguay or Brazil. We recognize their sovereignty. We recognize that those governments have the sovereign right to invite the little gentleman of the North, if they so choose.

But Kirchner and I don't need to plan anything to sabotage this visit, because we are witnessing the true political cadaver. The President of the United States is a political cadaver. He doesn't even smell of sulfur anymore. He doesn't even smell of sulfur or brimstone, if you will. No longer. What you smell from him now is the stench of political death. And not long from now, he will turn to dust and disappear. So we don't need to put forth any effort to sabotage the visit of the President of the United States to some countries, sisters countries of Central and South America, of course. We don't need to do that. It's a simple coincidence, the visit of Nestor to Venezuela and our visit here to Buenos Aires.

Well, we nevertheless need to thank that little gentleman that's visiting us, because if he were not here in South America, perhaps this event would not be so well-attended. We have organized this event to say no to the presence of the chief of the empire here in the heroic lands of South America.

The imperial little gentleman that's visiting Latin America today said about seventy-two or forty-eight hours ago in one of his speeches, when he was announcing that he was leaving for Latin America, he compared Simon Bolivar to George Washington. In fact, he even said the ridiculous thing -- and I can't say it's hypocrisy, because it is simply ridiculous, the most ridiculous thing he could say. He said, today we are all children of Washington and Bolivar. That is, he thinks that he is a son of Bolivar. What he is is a son of a -- but I can't say that word here.

So he has said -- he has said -- and you should listen to what he said here -- he said that now is the time to finish the revolution that Washington and Bolivar commenced . How's that for heresy? That is heresy and ignorance, because we have to remember -- and I say this with all due respect to George Washington, who is historically one of the founding fathers of that country -- but we must also remember the differences and how different George Washington and Simon Bolivar were, are and will always be.

George Washington won a war to gain the independence of the North American economic elite from the English empire, and when Washington died, or, rather, after his independence and after having been the president of the United States, after ordering the massacre of the indigenous peoples of North America, after defending slavery, he ended up being a very rich owner of slaves and of a plantation. He was a great landowner. That was George Washington.

Simon Bolivar, however, was born with a silver spoon, and at eight years old his parents died and he inherited a large fortune, together with his brothers, and he inherited haciendas and slaves. Simon Bolivar, when history led him -- and as Karl Marx said, men can make history, but only as far as history allows us to do so -- when history took Bolivar and made him the leader of the independence process in Venezuela, he made that process revolutionary. Simon Bolivar turned over all of his land. He freed all of his slaves, and he turned them into soldiers, and he brought them here. He brought them to Peru and Carabobo, and he worked together with the troops of San Martin to liberate this continent. That is Simon Bolivar.

And Simon Bolivar, having been born with that silver spoon in his mouth, when he died on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, when he died on December 17 in 1830, he was dressed with a shirt of someone else, because he had no clothes. Simon Bolivar is the leader of the revolution of this land. He is the leader of the social revolution, the people's revolution, the historical revolution. George Washington has nothing -- nothing -- to do with this history.

It was in 1823 that James Monroe said, "America for the Americans." And when I say this tonight, I say it because I want to remind you, my brothers of Argentina, of Venezuela and of America, that the presence of the President of the United States in South America represents all of that. He represents that Monroe Doctrine of America for the Americans. Well, we will have to tell him: North America for the North Americans and South America for the South Americans. This is our America.

The President of the United States, that political cadaver -- and when I say political cadaver, he would like to see me as a real cadaver -- I want him to be a political cadaver, and he already is a political cadaver. The President of the United States has the lowest level of credibility and acceptance from his own people. He is the current president of the United States.

It would appear that he doesn't even dare mention my name, because he was asked in Brasilia today in a press conference -- I saw it, I watched it at the hotel -- and the journalist asked him, "It is said that you are here to stop Chavez's movement in South America." And it looked like he almost had a heart attack when he heard "Chavez," because he actually stuttered a couple of times, and he actually changed the subject. He didn't answer the question. He didn't answer the question at all. So he doesn't even dare.

And I definitely dare to say his name. The President of the United States of North America, George W. Bush, the little gentleman of the North, the political cadaver that is visiting South America, that little gentleman is the president of all the history of the United States, and in the history of the United States, he has the lowest level of approval in his own country. And if we add that to the level of approval that he has in the world, I would think he's in the red now -- negative numbers.

Bet you wish you were interviewing him, eh Maria?

Personally, though, I find that nothing speaks louder than this photo taken at a summit of the Organization of American States a couple of years ago:

Hugo Chavez scares the shit out of Bush

There's Chavecito, totally cool as he goes about his business. Behind him, Dubya scurries by like a cucaracha, pretending not to see him. But you can see by Dubya's face that he's scared shitless of a leader whose name, by now, is practically synonymous with success.

And he should be.

March 12, 2007

Guatemala suffers; Nicaragua moves on; Telesur just plain MOVES!

While Dubya is hard at work pissing off the Guatemalans, look what's going on in Nicaragua:

This Sunday, the governments of Venezuela and Nicaragua signed an agreement to build a petroleum refinery, and incorporated Nicaragua into the multinational channel TeleSUR.

The plant will be built in León , to a capacity of 150,000 barrels a day.

"I am happy to announce that we will build a large refinery in León to process Venezuelan crude," announced President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.

The investment for the construction of the refinery in the western province will come to 2.5 billion dollars.

"This refinery will assure that Nicaraguans will have no more problems supplying oil in the future, and so that in the not so distant future, Nicaragua will become a net exporter of petroleum, which will help it escape from poverty," Chavez added.

The refinery will process 150,000 barrels a day of petroleum, which will permit Nicaragua to stop seeking aid from the IMF and join the recently created Bank of the South.

Translation mine.

As you can see, Sunday's not a day of rest for Chavecito. While Bush is on a meaningless PR trip that will ultimately come to nothing, Chavecito comes fully loaded to a neighbor country--with something that will make a real difference where it's sorely needed.

At this rate, the IMF will end up playing the beggar for a change, according to Bloomberg News. No wonder Dubya's running scared.

And he's not the only one. CNN is worried, too:

The news network, CNN en Español, believes that the rejection it is receiving from TV viewers in Latin America is due to a "psychological phenomenton of displaced anti-Bush sentiment" in the region.

So believes the vice-president of the station, Puerto Rican Christoper Cromett, who said in an interview published today by the daily, Página 12, of Buenos Aires, that "when there's an event that creates a great polarization of opinion", such as the war in Iraq, "it's always easier to criticize a media outlet like CNN, which is based in the US."

"If you're looking for a channel to criticize and unload your anger on, CNN is perfect, because it is identified with the United States and the location of its head office. When people cannot channel their anger against Bush, the public fights against CNN," said Cromett, supervisor of the channel's editorial line.

The director explained that what is happening to CNN "is a psychological phenomenon of the court of public opinion", "blaming the messenger" who "corresponds best to a displacement of anti-Bush sentiment onto the screen."

"While outside the United States they criticize CNN for reflecting the Bush government policies, inside the country they raise their voices that this is a channel which is 'anti-government', 'anti-American', and 'anti-patriotic'. This double reception assures us that our information is impartial," he said.

The executive said that "if you compare what CNN en Español puts on the air with other channels, no other broadcaster devotes so much space to Latin America."

He said that the "success" of the channel, which has been on the air for ten years in Latin America, "has not gone unnoticed by other companies", such as Qatar's al-Jazeera, "which, for economic or political reasons, understand that they need to establish a presence here."

Translation mine.

Notice the quickness to compare Telesur (whose name they seem curiously loath to mention, I wonder why) to the Arab network al-Jazeera--best known (no doubt as a terrorist sympathizer in Bushieland) for airing Osama bin Laden's missives unedited.

Couldn't have anything to do with the fact that Telesur has recently signed on not only Nicaragua, but Bolivia--bringing the total number of member countries to six. Could it now?

March 10, 2007

I closed my eyes and I slipped away...

RIP, Brad Delp, lead singer of Boston.

Here he is, making "More Than a Feeling" unforgettable:

Praise the Goddess, and pass the hot chocolate!

Yum, yum, yum.

A nutrient in cocoa called epicatechin appears to lower the risk of four common killer diseases, work suggests.

Among the Kuna people of Panama, who can drink up to 40 cups of cocoa per week, rates of stroke, heart disease, cancer and diabetes are less than 10%.

The Kuna also appear to live longer than other Panama inhabitants and do not get dementia, a US scientist reports in Chemistry and Industry.

[...]

Dr Norman Hollenberg, of Harvard Medical School, says the cocoa chemical would benefit other populations too, including the Western world, although he concedes there may be ethnic differences.

[...]

He has been investigating the effects of epicatechin in hundreds of elderly people from different cultures as well as hundreds of Kuna people over the last 15 years.

"My interest began with the fact that Kuna people do not develop high blood pressure," he explained.

"I was in search of protective genes but it turned out to be environmental because, when they migrated to the mainland with all the benefits of modern Western urban life, their blood pressure rose with age and hypertension became quite common."

And death rates from ischemic heart disease, stroke, diabetes mellitus and cancer followed suit, his published work in the International Journal of Medical Sciences showed.

Dr Hollenberg believes the Kuna's local tipple is the key.

"For most Kuna people, it is the only thing they drink from when they are weaned to the day they die."

He says his findings are so significant that epicatechin should be considered essential in the diet and, therefore, classed as a vitamin.

Vitamin Choc? I'll drink to that...and eat to that, too.

The article goes on to note that the nutrient is also present in wine, tea, and certain fruits and vegetables. Bitter chocolate is likely to be the best source of it, however, since it is often removed from the sweet, candy kind.

One more reason for Chavecito to restore endogenous cocoa production in Venezuela, as if he ever needed it.

Quotable: JFK on war and peace

"Foreign policy today, irrespective of what we might wish, in its impact upon our daily lives, overshadows everything else. Expenditures, taxation, domestic prosperity, the extent of social services--all hinge on the basic issue of war and peace."

--John F. Kennedy, campaign speech, 1951.

"It is unfortunate that unity for war against a common aggressor is far easier to obtain than unity for peace."

--JFK, May 4, 1945 (on the formation of the United Nations)

"War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today."

--JFK, letter to a PT-109 shipmate, May 1945, during the United Nations conference in San Francisco.

March 9, 2007

Festive Left Friday Blogging Too: You knew this was coming...

Yes, folks...it's the obligatory Chavecito!

Chavecito and the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo

On Women's Day, he rallied with the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires. The mothers are tireless advocates for human rights, especially those of the people who "disappeared" during the Dirty Wars.

Meanwhile, in Brazil, a protester outside of Petrobras showed some love:

Petrobras protest in progress

Wherever he got that shirt, I want one too!

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Bushie Beware!

All over Latin America, they're standing up to BushCo on its current round of smarm offensives...

...or against them, as the case may be.

That was Brazil, this is Colombia:

The languages may differ, but the sentiment is the same. (Aporrea/VTV videos.)

And because this wouldn't be Festive Left Friday without at least one hot guy:

A Simon Bolivar impersonator in Colombia has a stern warning for BushCo!

Watch out, Dubya. Simon Bolivar has his eye on you!

March 8, 2007

This week's weather report: Cloudy, with Snow-storms of disinformation

Lying their asses off, as usual

And in other news, FUX Snooze once more guilty of broadcasting false news. Film at 11!

Poison DUst: another must-see

If you think what it does to US soldiers is appalling, wait till you see what "depleted" uranium is doing to the people of Iraq. And its half-life is 4.5 BILLION years. "Harmless"? Yeah--just like Agent Orange.

March 7, 2007

What was that you were saying again, Ann?

Something about faggots, as I recall? Um, you may want to take a closer look at who else is on the guest list at those bashes where you do all your bashing. Joe. My. God. has the details...

If you are familiar with Cpl. Matt Sanchez, you probably know him as the handsome 36-year old Columbia University junior and USMC reservist who recently made the rounds of right-wing talk shows like O'Reilly Factor and Hannity & Colmes, where he received praise for coming forward and complaining about his treatment at the hands of Columbia's "radical anti-military students" who called him names and mocked his military service. Sanchez was then feted at the CPAC conference where Ann Coulter made her "faggot" remark. Sanchez wrote an op-ed piece on the Columbia experience for the NY Post and began a blog and MySpace page chronicling his media exposure.

Now, if you're like me, you might think, "Hmm, 36 years old and he's a junior in college and only a corporal in the Marines?" Odd, but not totally implausible. But Sanchez' face tinkled a few gay bells out there in fairyland, and last night I began to get emails letting me know that his rather late appearance on the Ivy League scene was because Sanchez has had a lengthy career in gay porn, working under the names Rod Majors (NSFW) and Pierre LaBranche, starring in such art films as Jawbreaker, Donkey Dick, and Glory Holes Of Fame 3, where his "11-inch uncut monster cock" earned him a devoted following.

Links his.

And of course, Joe has a photo of the Coultergeist next to the newly notorious Cpl. Sanchez. Not only is he prettier than she (just like John Edwards!), it's also apparent that she needs to get her roots touched up.

Don't forget to click the comments section. It'll split your sides. (Or in the Coultergeist's case, your ends.)

What if Ann WERE a man?

Or to put it a different way, what if Annie were a tranny?

My friend Hawke, aka HappyDyke, offers up the following crunchy granola for thought at her blog apropos the whole tired "Mann Coulter" thing:

I'm sick of hearing Ann referred to as a man. As far as I know, she has never come out as a transsexual. And even if she has, so what? Why is this treated as something so salacious by a community that considers itself as progressive? Of all the things to take Coulter to task over, why is this what people choose most often?

Oh sure, its so easy with an adam's apple that makes my son's look like a raisin. And her freakishly large hands also make one wonder. But TRANSSEXUALISM IS NOT A BIG DEAL. And the way it is being used when referring to this scumbucket is the same as her use of the word faggot when referring to Edwards. It is insulting to real transsexuals. I mean really, would you want her as a part of YOUR community if she didn't say she belonged? I thought not.

Hawke's blog software seems to be eating my comments, or at least hindering my efforts to correct them, so here's my humble two cents (+GST, this being Canada and all) on the terrible temptation to make a man of Ann.

I have to admit it IS ungodly fun to masculinize the Coultergeist. Not only because of her weird, elongated turkey neck and her freakishly proportioned hands (both of which can be just as readily explained by emaciation as by gender ambiguity, IMO--hence another of her nasty nicknames, Ann Orexia.) And not only because she apparently forgot to fill in the gender box on her voter registration form. There's another impulse behind it--childish and doubtless unprogressive because of how far below the belt it hits, but here goes:

If Ann really were a man, or a transsexual, what would that make those who lionize her?

Think about it. It's not exactly a deep dark secret that wingnuts don't see transfolk as real men or women. No matter how many years of treatment and agony the trannies go through to realign their outward gender with that of their inner selves, a typical wingnut will automatically identify them as being simply queer individuals of the sex they were born. A trans-woman, in other words, is a queer man to them--a faggot.

So, by wingnut standards, if Ann Coulter were revealed as a transsexual, this means that Ann is a man. (Note that I said by wingnut standards--if you're at all progressive, you accept a trans-woman as a WOMAN, period. Yes, even Ann Coulter, gaggingly repulsive bag-o-skank though she is.)

And if Ann is a man, then what does that make her, not to mention all the men who lust over her and guffaw over her homo-baiting pronouncements as if they were nuggets of wit--by the wingnuts' own lights?

Yup, you guessed it.

Now, bearing that in mind, let's set things in context.

It's been all over the Internets for the past couple of days how the right likes to hit the left below the belt when it comes to gender. (See Digby and Glenn Greenwald for the most thoughtful dissections of that infuriating, sexist tendency.) In the wingnuts' twisted universe, progressive women are all shaggy-legged, titless lesbians; progressive men are all mincy, poofy fags. Our messages don't matter, because on every level, we are inferior, subhuman beings. At least, so the Ann Coulters of the world are signalling when they sling the slurs around. Heaven forfend that anyone liberal, progressive or (gasp) socialist should be acknowledged as a normal human being, living a normal life, earning a normal living, loving a normal partner. We're all demons, bums and scum, don'tcha know? We're all faggots or dykes, and if you take us seriously or make common cause with us, you deserve to get AIDS and die.

Gaydom is the wingnuts' last acceptable bastion of prejudice, and they're clinging to it for dear life. It's what they're left reaching for when they have no way of refuting us; smearing and name-calling is so much easier. But they're running rather low on socially acceptable smears. They can't say nigger because it would show them up as racist and they're tripping all over themselves to whitewash that (oops!), but hey--the queers are still fair game, so let's all pile on!

Which is why even the most queer-friendly progressives rejoice, not so silently, when the right-hand door of the closet suddenly busts wide open. It's not the queerness that's a sin with us; it's the hypocrisy, the denial, the bashing, the baiting. A person who used to get away with all that, suddenly can't anymore, because they are what they sneer at. The pious preacher of "family values" turns out to be a meth-using frequenter of gay prostitutes; the oh-so-macho right-wing "journalist" is exposed as actually being a gay prostitute; et cetera. Rightards are forced to backpedal away at high speed whenever another closet case gets outed, or risk being lumped in with them by other rightards. It's hilarious to watch them tripping over themselves and each other to deny that they're really gay, or homophobic, when anyone with an eye can see that they are.

That is why a mean, sneaky little part of me secretly wishes that Ann were a man. It would be a terrible insult to the transfolk, no doubt about it; she would make the worst imaginable spokesmodel, especially given the slyly bashing nature of her "picks" for the Oscars (Felicity Huffman in particular). But if it deprives the wingnuts of their last bastion, the ignominy of it all might ultimately yield some good.

Or, at the very least, a good belly laugh at the expense of yet another discredited wingnut and all her camp followers.

March 6, 2007

Happy birthday, Gabo!

80 years young.

Just 20 more years of solitude to go!

My trust has been shaken!

The dark side of the Internets reveals itself yet again.

Internet site Wikipedia has been hit by controversy after the disclosure that a prominent editor had assumed a false identity complete with fake PhD.

The editor, known as Essjay, had described himself as a professor of religion at a private university.

But he was in fact Ryan Jordan, 24, a college student from Kentucky who used texts such as Catholicism for Dummies to help him work.

[...]

In his user profile, he said he taught both undergraduate and graduate theology, and in an interview with the New Yorker in July 2006, was described as a "tenured professor of religion".

His real identity came to light last week when the magazine added an editorial note to the piece highlighting the deception.

"At the time of publication, neither we nor Wikipedia knew Essjay's real name," the note said.

I don't know which looks worse for this: Wikipedia, or the state of journalism in the United States.

I can understand the wool being pulled over the Wikipedians' eyes; the site as currently constituted practically begs for such abuse. But the New Yorker? Is nothing sacred--or at least, blessed with better fact checkers?

More trouble for the Coultergeist

Yep, this is definitely gonna hit 'er where it hurts.

At least three major companies want their ads pulled from Ann Coulter's Web site, following customer complaints about the right-wing commentator referring to Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards as a "faggot."

Verizon, Sallie Mae and Georgia-based NetBank each said they didn't know their ads were on AnnCoulter.com until they received the complaints.

A diarist at the liberal blog DailyKos.com posted contact information for dozens of companies with ads on Coulter's site after the commentator made her remarks about Edwards at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington on Friday.

Link added.

Now, if we could only get Mellon Scaife to stop bulk-buying her plagiarism-ridden "bestsellers" that aren't, she would truly sink back into her rightful element: OBSCURITY.

The Reagans on drugs

Unfortunately, this is not only funny; there's an element of truth in it. Crack cocaine DID explode on Reagan's watch, linked inextricably to the antidemocratic Reagan foreign policies of the 1980s. And one really does need to be on drugs to find life under (or amid) a band of thieves tolerable.

Quotable: The Pigman goes nucular

"I love the effect this new nuke is going to have on these socialists on the left. They're going to be in utter panic over this, and I am honored to bring this happy news of a brand-new nuclear weapon to you via the EIB Network."

--Rush Limbaugh, celebrating a development which anyone not on drugs would say was a Very Bad Idea.

March 5, 2007

Coultergeist's scrawny ass gets owned...

...by a man she called a faggot. Her puss may be sour, but revenge sure is sweet:

A video is worth a thousand words. And dollars, too. Prominently featured on John Edwards' presidential campaign Web site is a video of conservative commentator Ann Coulter insulting him. And with just a mouse click you can hear the invective and get a chance to donate at the same time.

On Friday, Coulter, a writer and columnist known for provocative remarks, told an audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington: "I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, but it turns out you have to go into rehab if you use the word 'faggot,' so I -- so kind of an impasse, can't really talk about Edwards."

The Edwards camp is now seeking to capitalize on the slur by soliciting $100,000 in "Coulter Cash" to "show that inflaming prejudice to attack progressive leaders will only backfire."

The article features photos of the two. I can see why she used that word on him. It's all her sheer, gallbladder-churning jealousy coming out; he's way prettier than she is.

Meanwhile, the lame excuses, like the ugly words that occasioned them, just keep a-flyin':

CNN has reached out to Coulter's representative, and received no response.

But the New York Times reported that she responded, in an e-mail, "C'mon, it was a joke. I would never insult gays by suggesting that they are like John Edwards. That would be mean."

Uh, yeah. And calling him a grotty name isn't?

But wait, there's more:

During a question-and-answer session, Coulter referred back to the issue of gays by alluding to the bid for the Republican presidential nomination being made by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

"I do want to point out one thing that has been driving me crazy with the media -- how they keep describing Mitt Romney's position as being pro-gays, and that's going to upset the right wingers," she said. "Well, you know, screw you! I'm not anti-gay. We're against gay marriage. I don't want gays to be discriminated against."

She added, "I don't know why all gays aren't Republican. I think we have the pro-gay positions, which is anti-crime and for tax cuts. Gays make a lot of money and they're victims of crime. No, they are! They should be with us."

So, lemme see if I got this straight: Being against gay marriage (i.e. EQUAL RIGHTS) is somehow "not anti-gay"? In what bizarre parallel universe?

And what kind of sorry "pro-gay" positions are those to take, anyway? What the hell good does being "anti-crime" do when you won't even recognize the tolerance for hate crimes inherent in taking the position that gays aren't really equal or welcome to all the legal rights that straights are? Some Repugs' idea of a crime is two persons of the same sex trying to adopt a child together. This even though there are large numbers of children out there in need of adoptive parents. How is that a "pro-gay" position? It's not even pro-family, as it deprives adoptable children of potential parents!

And what are gays supposed to do with all those paltry tax cuts, besides come up to Canada for a ceremony that's legal here, but whose status isn't recognized back home? Spend it all and then some on anti-discrimination lawsuits, perhaps?

Word to the Coultergeist: Nasty words turn your teeth grey. I can see you've been using them a lot lately. Or is it crystal meth? Whatever it is, come off it and get your bony, worthless ass into rehab. Your innate ugliness is becoming harder and harder to hide. And you never had much to hide it behind in the first place.

Coultergeist defines a faggot for us

March 4, 2007

He's his own grandmaw!

Dubya in drag--dude looks like a granny!

Everybody sing!

Beatniks find Sputnik!

Beatniks find Sputnik?

Story at the Beat Museum; judge for yourself whether they're onto something.

March 2, 2007

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Seen in Chile

Bush Asesino!

Yeah, I know...not the most festive thing. But I guess it IS worth celebrating that some people, somewhere, are blogging the freeway with signs that aren't so easy to take down.

According to Bartcop.com, this tunnel is on the road to a major Chilean resort town. Meaning, a lot of traffic, and well-heeled traffic at that, is seeing this!

March 1, 2007

Death of a Nation: must-see TV

British journalist Marcel Theroux takes us on a trip to a country he fell in love with as a student during the 1980s. What has become of Russia since then is frightening and should serve as a caution to the cheerleaders of globalized capitalism. After the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the end of communism, the country entered not into a new era of prosperity and democracy, but new and more frightening forms of oppression. Mafiosi, unscrupulous oligarchs, "cossack" nationalists who are frankly nothing but repackaged Nazis, and AIDS have all wrought havoc on Russian life.

Now, the "go-go" '90s are long over. The economy is in turmoil. Millions of jobs were killed by the new capitalism. People are struggling to survive, and many have simply given up. Poverty is at record levels, life expectancy and birthrates have both plummeted, and racism is driving out such ethnic minorities as the Turks of Krasnodar in Southern Russia, who are often the only ones reproducing at more than replacement rates. Meanwhile, ethnic Russians are being decimated by violence and AIDS, which is spreading unchecked due to a lack of government concern and virtually no official action to stop it. Until recently, the Russian government has seen fit to spend more on AIDS in Africa than at home--as if to say that AIDS is Africa's problem and fault, but no concern of its own! The result: racism and fascism are flourishing in Russia.

The only glimmerings of hope come near the end: Russia can still turn things around by using revenues from its vast mineral and resource wealth to finance healthcare, education and furnish jobs and other basic necessities. Yes, that means nationalized resources and a severe limit to the "free market" that gave rise to the mafias. Is that communism? No. It is a form of actual socialism, and increasingly, it is looking like good old common sense. What is working already for Venezuela could work for Russia. Will Russia take heed?