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April 30, 2007

Max Cleland draws the perfect parallel

Vietnam War vet and former US senator Max Cleland may have lost three limbs in a grenade accident in 'Nam, but isn't it ironic...his able-bodied opponents are the ones who don't have a leg to stand on. Whereas the once and future Sen. Cleland stands tall:

...and delivers the almighty kick from behind to two sets of gonads.

Saxby Chambliss's cowardly tail will remain permanently tucked.

Meanwhile, Chucklenuts will halt in mid-chuckle, his mouth will drop open, and his nuts will pop out. And this time, even his too-tight crotch straps won't give him the illusion of a supersize package.

April 29, 2007

The omnipresent Chavecito

He's a real doll...

...and a whole lotta other collectible fun stuff as well. Some of it downright kitschy.

As one woman says, "What kid wouldn't love to have a talking 'chavito' at home?"

You can't bank on Wolfie anymore

Out, out, damned Wolfowitz!

Not that you ever could. But now the World Bank can add Paul "Comb Goober" Wolfowitz to its ever-growing list of credibility woes...

Staff at the World Bank have voiced concern that the crisis surrounding its embattled President Paul Wolfowitz is damaging the institution.

In a letter, a group of 32 officials warned that the scandal was undermining the bank's credibility.

The letter also called for a clear and decisive action to be taken.

Mr Wolfowitz is facing calls to resign after it emerged he had ordered a large pay increase and promotions for his girlfriend, who was a member of staff.

The letter - signed by the officials involved in the World Bank's anti-corruption strategy - is the clearest sign yet the controversy over Paul Wolfowitz is affecting its operations around the globe.

"The credibility of our front line staff is eroding in the face of legitimate questions from our clients about the bank's ability to 'practice what it preaches' on governance," it says.

Improved governance is coming too late to save the World Bank's skin. Already, the poor countries of the world are taking note of what's wrong with it (and its Bretton Woods cousin, the IMF.) Venezuela is out from under, and helping its South American neighbors likewise to get that yoke off their necks. To that end, the Bank of the South--a true development bank, rather than a money-sucker like the Bretton Woods group--is gathering joiners, most notably big, powerful Brazil.

Meanwhile, Chavecito's baby--ALBA, the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas--keeps going from strength to strength. Nicaragua has joined, spreading the alliance north, while Haiti and Ecuador (whose president recently booted the World Bank's local rep out) are making interested noises. Likewise, the PetroCaribe plan is going well. Those who aren't in, will soon see themselves being left behind.

At this rate, soon no one will have any use for the World Bank at all. Then it won't matter who they replace Wolfie with--they themselves will have been supplanted by something that actually works for the people, for a change.

UPDATE: Wolfie the Unbankable still isn't resigning. Clearly, like all neo-cons, he thinks he can do no wrong. Even when everything he does is wrong.

WTF? OMG! LOL...

Saul Landau comes up with one truly worthy of The Onion, from Progreso Weekly:

Posada to address UM graduates

DRAFT OF SPEECH FOUND IN EL PASO TEXAS JAIL CELL OF LUIS POSADA CARRILES AFTER HE WAS BAILED OUT TO GRADUATING STUDENTS OF THE UNIVERISTY OF MIAMI

WTF?

Graduation means time to face reality. So, get used to violent death. I don't mean Virginia Tech. Take my case. Some people define me as a terrorist. I stand here today proudly and tell you I used violence to try to destroy the Castro dictatorship and free Cuba. And I will continue to try even in very twilight years.

President Bush has ordered massive killing for freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan. Over there, every day, American soldiers and Iraqis together kill several times the number of people who died in Blacksburg Virginia. This violent Christian fight for freedom has been going on for centuries. I am a crusader -- like Bush.

Small minded people quote Bush saying, "He who harbors a terrorist is as guilty as the terrorist." But he meant Arabs, not people who want to assassinate Castro, like me. In all modesty, I'm a patriot. Bush knows that. That's why the Justice Department has not charged me with terrorist crimes. If killing supposedly innocent people became the criteria for terrorism then Bush himself would have to be accused of being a far bigger terrorist than me.

Bush and I make war against evil people, like Castro, Saddam Hussein and Hugo Chavez. It doesn't matter if their children and women die in our noble cause. That's what history has been about. Do you think brave crusaders cared about such sentimentality?

Look at what this country has done, not what its leaders have said. President Jefferson talked of freedom while condoning slavery. Wilson talked about non intervention while intervening in Mexico, Haiti and Nicaragua. Kennedy said: "Ask not what your country can do for you. Rather, ask what you can do for your country." He said ask. But he didn't answer the question, did he? In 1961, Kennedy claimed he wanted to free Cuba and launched me and my comrades to invade Cuba at the Bay of Pigs. Some of us stayed behind to kill the remaining communists after the invaders consolidated their beachhead.

Kennedy was a hypocrite. He talked the talk, as the colored people here say, but he didn't walk the walk. That's why some of my old compadres celebrate the day of his death. He chickened out at the Bay of Pigs and during the 1962 Missile Crisis when he could have liberated Cuba with U.S. armed forces and bombs. Instead, he shook hands with that fat Commie pig Nikita Khrushchev and agreed to leave Castro alone.

Well, I didn't leave him alone.

(Wait for applause to die down)

Afterwards the CIA trained me at Ft. Bennning, along with my friends Jorge Mas Canosa, a great Cuban patriot -- may he rest peacefully -- who always supported me when I escaped from that prison in Venezuela where I was locked up after people ratted on me for blowing up the plane over Barbados. I'm not saying I did engineer that little job. But I'm not saying I didn't.

(Wait for laughs to end)

I also want to thank my other Ft. Benning compadre Felix Rodriguez. Are you here mi socio? Well, thank Felix for capturing and killing Che Guevara in 1967. Bien hecho.

My career as a freedom fighter shows the difference between me and those Arabian monsters like bin Laden. I tried to bomb Havana, not New York. I tried to kill Castro, not Cheney.

I am wanted by Cuba and Venezuela but not by the CIA, that trained me to free my country, for who I later worked as a loyal and successful agent from 1965 through 1976. In the late 1980s, I helped Lt. Col. Oliver North re-supply the Contras to kill Sandinistas, Castro's allies.

My CIA amigos helped me plan and execute assassination plots against Castro. I tell you this to illustrate reality and to warn you to plan your moves with precision when you go out into the world and undertake patriotic tasks to free the world from communism, Islamic fanaticism and sentimental liberalism.

The CIA made a beautiful assassination instrument for me in 1971 at the time Castro was traveling to Chile. Their lab people placed a gun inside a TV news camera so that when the cameraman pointed it at Fidel's face and pulled the trigger the camera wouldn't start filming, but rather, the gun would fire. A perfect plan. Only the man we hired was a coward. When he saw Castro's bodyguards all over the press conference room, he couldn't do it. I sent the camera to Caracas where Fidel would stop on his return to Cuba. Again the man we hired proved ineffective. But the CIA people prove to be true assassins in the cause of freedom.

Documents have been released which claim I alerted the CIA to my plan to bomb a Cuban commercial airplane over Barbados in 1976, a job I supposedly did with my friend and colleague Orlandito Bosch.

If I admit involvement, the U.S. government must charge me with terrorism. If I deny it, many of you will think I'm lying. What would you do? As graduating students you may face such moral dilemmas in your life. My lesson is: live with ambiguity, but don't get distracted from your mission.

Do I feel badly about the passengers who died when the Cubana plane crashed? I quote Orlando Bosch who told a Miami reporter: "In a war such as us Cubans who love liberty wage against the tyrant [Castro], you have to down planes, you have to sink ships, you have to be prepared to attack anything that is within your reach."

Why would I feel for the relatives of dead Communist Party members, North Koreans and colored people from Guyana along with Cuban fencers indoctrinated by communists. Those who had not defied Castro, nor left the island to fight from Miami are fair game along with those foolish enough to visit this war zone. We warned in the summer of 1976 that people traveling to and from Cuba, which helped glorify the tyrant, would run serious risks.

Those CIA released cables about me and Bosch say I was working for Venezuelan intelligence and informing the Agency. Listen to this cable. "A few days following the fund-raising dinner, Posada was overheard to say that, 'we are going to hit a Cuban airplane,' and that 'Orlando has the details'." That's in the CIA report.

Nothing happened, however, until Freddy Lugo and Hernan Ricardo, those guys we hired, I mean allegedly hired, confessed they had planted the bomb and named Bosch and me as the planners. I admit I was careless. Learn from my mistakes. I left in my Caracas apartment some Cubana Airlines timetables. That's poor tradecraft.

I made another mistake in the 1990s when some of us became desperate to finish off Castro because the U.S. government wouldn't do the job. I'm not admitting I planned the bombing of Cuban hotels, which killed an Italian tourist. But I warn you graduating seniors: don't shoot your mouth off to reporters. When those New York Times journalists Anne Bardach and Larry Rohter asked how I felt about that Italian dying in the bombing I said I slept like a baby.

OMG!

In Panama, with my compadres Guillermo Novo and Pedro Remon -- well, I won't admit the C 4 plastic explosives were for anything but fireworks -- our visits coincided with Fidel's, if you get my drift. Panamanian cops found my fingerprints on the explosives.

So young students, in life you too will make slips. But even if you don't succeed in achieving your ends, keep going and don't let violence and death deter you from doing the right thing. You are not old enough to GAS (Geezers Assassination Society). At 79, I'm still practicing my profession.

For centuries, civilization has etched into stone the idea of killing for a good cause. So Viva Cuba Libre! Viva La Muerte and Viva my faculty friend who invited me here. I won't mention names, but his initials are J.S. and he gets a well-deserved grant from a government agency to run a worthy project that will help all Cubans when we retake our beloved island.

(Raise fist, wait for applause to subside before leaving stage to retrieve walker)

LOL!

I can't imagine anything funnier than an old terrorist like the CubanaBomber being asked to address a graduating class; if anything, the Bushies are hoping he'll fade into the woodwork so they'll never have to live up to their anti-terror rhetoric. They're still hoping to kick him out to a country that would rather not be harboring a terrorist, but no such luck. (Cuba and Venezuela would both be happy to take him, but that's no good either; they'd put him on trial, and BushCo can't have that, because if he sings on the stand, Bush the Elder will be implicated in his crimes. Ol' Herbert-Herbert was, shall we say, prominently instrumental in the CubanaBomber's career, as well as several other ghastly ex-Cuban criminals'.)

BTW, all the crimes Landau's piece refers to are no jokes. They are real right down to the blood-chilling remarks Posada made to the press in his coy admissions of guilt.

Little wonder Dennis Kucinich--apparently the only US congressman with any real cojones--has called for the Cubanabomber's extradition to Venezuela.

April 28, 2007

Will the international media call THIS president a tyrant?

Alan's back--let's get out of here!

Hmmm...I wonder. Seeing as Alan Garcia of Peru isn't making any noises about socialism, unlike a certain Chavecito of Venezuela, I can't see it happening. Can you?

Peru's parliament has granted emergency powers to President Alan Garcia in order to deal with drug trafficking and organised crime.

Congress overwhelmingly approved the move but around 20 Congressmen walked out of the session before the vote.

President Garcia has promised not to abuse the powers, which are valid for the next 60 days.

He will only have the power to rule by decree on nine specific types of crime, most of which relate to trafficking.

Compare that, now, to Chavecito's own (also time- and topic-limited) powers under the Ley Habilitante:

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.

Golly, that all sure sounds tyrannical to me. Especially the first four.

Even worse, Chavecito was granted these powers by a unanimous vote of the National Assembly. Which was elected by a popular vote by the people of Venezuela. Oh, the antidemocratic horror!

Now, let's look back at President Garcia of Peru:

Critics say this move is an attempt to boost Mr Garcia's powers in the face of flagging public approval.

Polls indicate his popularity has dropped below half - his worst approval rating since taking office last year.

Ouch.

No, that's not me feeling any pain for Garcia; that's me, expressing what it's like to have a stitch in my sides from laughing so hard, especially at right-wing idiots like this blogger, who were cheering for Garcia less than a year ago when he was talkin' smack. Where's your bravado now, fellas?

And just to rub the salt in further, let's compare and contrast that with Chavecito:

President Chavez's performance in office continues to be viewed positively by nearly two-thirds of the population, despite a 70% rejection of the non-renewal of the TV broadcast license of RCTV, according to the Venezuelan polling firm Datanalisis. Also, a new Latinobarometro poll finds that Latin Americans view Venezuela as the friendliest country in the Americas.

64.7% of Venezuelans viewed Chavez's performance in office positively in March and 29.6% viewed it negatively, explained Datanalisis Director Luis Vicente Leon to Venezuela's foreign press association today. The survey was conducted between March 12 and 23, among 1,300 Venezuelans of all socio-economic levels, with a margin of error of 2.7%.

So...Garcia's popularity is below 50% (and probably going to drop like a stone in spite of, or even because of, this latest dubious move); meanwhile, Chavecito, even with power of decree for 18 months, is riding high. And all this in spite of his denunciations of a crap-ass channel most people only watch for its soap operas anyway.

Yet whom does the US media (and its parrots in Britain) call a tyrant? And at whom will they never level similar charges, even when the foo shits?

Yeah, you tell me.

Meanwhile, seeing as coca and cocaine play into all this, here's a little item on Chavecito's Bolivian counterpart, with some interesting facts:

U.S. officials say they can't detect an increase in Bolivia's coca crop under the country's coca-promoting President Evo Morales — but say they doubt their own figures.

A study released Wednesday by the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy found Bolivia's coca production "statistically unchanged" from 2005, the year before the leftist president, who rose to prominence as a coca growers' representative, was inaugurated.

But U.S. officials say they still expect Bolivian cultivation of the plants used to make cocaine to rise under Morales' "zero cocaine, not zero coca" policy, continuing an upward trend that began early in the decade.

The U.S. report estimated Bolivia's coca plantings at between 52,000 and 80,000 acres, a range similar to 2005 estimates, the study said.

So, to recap: Coca production is NOT up under Evo Morales, himself a former coca grower, who has vowed not to take marching orders from the Yanquis when it comes to planted hectares of the marching-powder plant. And those figures, by all indications, have remained constant. The drug-control freaks have egg on their faces.

But do they admit it? No, they spin. The US drug control agency now "doubts its own figures", which I guess is Newspeak for "can't tell its head from a hole in the ground".

Either that, or it's Newspeak for "We can't believe it's not for blow!"

Honestly. This is a US agency charged with the rather important task of making sure none of that coca lands up in a gringo's powder-crusted nostrils. Yet it can't even keep track of where the stuff is growing, let alone whether crops are up or down, and it sure as hell can't eradicate it altogether. When do you suppose they'll get the message that the cocaine problem begins with demand, not supply? It's clear to me that they are about as useful as teats on a bull, at least in Bolivia.

And as the US-tame president of Colombia keeps proving, with all his draconian policies, the more money they throw at the problem, the more the thugs profit. This is used as justification for all kinds of corruption and fascism disguised as an anticrime crackdown. Yet no one calls Alvaro Uribe a tyrant either, even though the evidence keeps mounting in favor of such a charge.

But kiddies, you mustn't wonder why. Don't worry your cute little heads. Just repeat after Big Brother Media, preferably in the voice of a sheep:

Tame neo-cons, doubleplusgood! Chavez and Morales, doubleplusbaaaaaaaaaaad!

April 27, 2007

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Well howdy, pardnuh...

Remind me again: What color hats do the good guys wear?

Chavecito--a good pardnuh!

That's what I thought. Thanks, Chavecito!

(Texas tea, eat yer heart out. That there rig behind him turns out Venezuelan Vino!)

April 25, 2007

Milton Nascimento: Song of America

The students of Virginia Tech have resumed classes. It seems to be the only thinkable thing to do after last week; there are educations to complete and lives to get on with. The mourning, however, doesn't end with the memorial ceremonies which are being sadly conducted in public and private, one by one.

Since I can think of no better way to honor the lives lost, I'll post this sweet, sad song by Brazil's inimitable Milton Nascimento:

Canção Da América

The lyrics:

Amigo é coisa para se guardar

Debaixo de 7 chaves,

Dentro do coração,

assim falava a canção que na América ouvi,

mas quem cantava chorou ao ver o seu amigo partir,

mas quem ficou, no pensamento vou,

o seu canto que o outro lembrou

E quem vou no pensamento ficou,

uma lembrança que o outro cantou.

Amigo é coisa para se guardar

No lado esquerdo do peito,

mesmo que o tempo e a distância digam não,

mesmo esquecendo a canção.

O que importa é ouvir a voz que vem do coração.

Seja o que vier,

venha o que vier

Qualquer dia amigo eu volto pra te encontrar

Qualquer dia amigo, a gente vai se encontrar

Translation:

A friend is a thing to guard

behind 7 locks

in your heart--

so says the song I heard in America

but the one who sang cried, seeing a friend go away,

but who stayed, going in thought

his song that someone remembered

and who went, stayed in thoughts--

a remembrance of what someone else sang.

A friend is a thing to guard

in the left side of your breast

even if time and distance say no,

even if you forget the song.

What matters is to hear the voice that comes from the heart.

Be what may,

come what may--

Someday, friend, I'll return to find you

Someday, friend, we'll come together

April 24, 2007

What do mass killers have in common with Rush Limbaugh?

Funny you should ask:

I've already blogged on this correlation, but this video puts it more graphically.

April 22, 2007

The PEACE on Terra

In honor of Earth Day, a singer by the name of Terra Naomi crafts a video with help from people who sent in images of themselves "answering the question 'what would you do/want if anything were possible?' in three words or less."

Happy Earth Day to you!

April 21, 2007

Mark Steyn wets himself

Viagra did WHAT?

Not that he's not all wet, all the time, already. Still, the Virginia Tech massacre sure brought out the stoopid from the stupid in a major way. From the safety of his basement masturbatorium, Steyn, a closeted white supremacist who never misses an opportunity to whip out his weenie and kvetch that Evil Brown Muslims Are Out To Rule The World, worked up the incredible courage to apprise us of the following:

Every December 6th, my own unmanned Dominion lowers its flags to half-mast and tries to saddle Canadian manhood in general with the blame for the "Montreal massacre," the 14 female students of the Ecole Polytechnique murdered by Marc Lepine (born Gamil Gharbi, the son of an Algerian Muslim wife-beater, though you'd never know that from the press coverage). As I wrote up north a few years ago:

Yet the defining image of contemporary Canadian maleness is not M Lepine/Gharbi but the professors and the men in that classroom, who, ordered to leave by the lone gunman, meekly did so, and abandoned their female classmates to their fate — an act of abdication that would have been unthinkable in almost any other culture throughout human history. The "men" stood outside in the corridor and, even as they heard the first shots, they did nothing. And, when it was over and Gharbi walked out of the room and past them, they still did nothing. Whatever its other defects, Canadian manhood does not suffer from an excess of testosterone.

Now, this is just wrong on so many levels. Mainly on the level of fact, a concept with which Steyn is but barely acquainted. The press noted Lepine's origins as a matter of routine; the feminists noted his violent background. Plus, there WERE male shooting victims in the Montreal Massacre; gee, it's just a damn shame that none of them died trying to heroically assert his virility by wrestling the gun out of the murderer's hands. Would have knocked Steyn's intelligence-insulting bullshit into a cocked hat, if the Wikipedia entry on the Montreal Massacre were not enough to do so already:

Sometime after 4 p.m. on December 6, 1989, Marc Lépine arrived at the École Polytechnique building, an engineering school affiliated with the Université de Montréal, armed with a semi-automatic rifle and a hunting knife. He had purchased the Sturm Ruger brand rifle, Mini-14 model, on November 21, 1989 in a Montreal hunting store, telling the clerk that he was going to use it to hunt small game. Lépine was familiar with the layout of the building since he had been in and around the École Polytechnique at least seven times in the weeks leading up to the event.

Lépine sat for a time in the office of the registrar on the second floor. He was seen rummaging through a plastic bag and did not speak to anyone, even when a staff member asked if she could help him. He left the office, and was subsequently seen in other parts of the building before entering a second floor mechanical engineering class of about 60 students at about 5:10 p.m.

After approaching the student giving a presentation, he asked everyone to stop all action and ordered the women and men to opposite sides of the classroom. No one moved at first, believing it was a joke until he fired a shot into the ceiling.

Lépine then separated the nine women from the approximately fifty men and told the men to leave, which they did. Speaking in French, he asked the remaining women whether they knew why they were there, and when one student replied "no," he answered: "I am fighting feminism." One of the students, Nathalie Provost, said, "Look, we are just women studying engineering, not necessarily feminists ready to march on the streets to shout we are against men, just students intent on leading a normal life." Lépine responded, "You're women, you're going to be engineers. You're all a bunch of feminists. I hate feminists." Lépine then opened fire on the students from left to right, killing six and wounding three others, including Provost. Before leaving the room, he wrote the word "shit" twice on a student project.

Lépine continued into the second floor corridor and wounded three students before entering another room and attempting twice to shoot a female student. His weapon failed to fire, so he entered the emergency staircase where he was seen reloading his gun by another student. He returned to the room he had just left, but the students had locked the door and Lépine failed to unlock it with three shots fired into the door. Moving along the corridor he shot at others, wounding one, before moving towards the financial services office, where he shot and killed a woman through a door window as she moved away after locking the door.

Next, he went down to the first floor cafeteria, in which about 100 people were gathered. The crowd scattered after he fired shots, killing a woman standing near the kitchens and wounding another student. Entering an unlocked storage area at the end of the cafeteria, he shot and killed two women there. Lépine told a male student and a female student to come out from hiding under a table; they complied and were not shot.

Lépine then walked up an escalator to the third floor where he shot and wounded one female and two male students in the corridor. He entered another classroom and told the three students giving a presentation to "get out," shooting and wounding Maryse Leclair who was also standing on the low platform at the front of the classroom. He fired on students in the front row and then killed two students who were trying to escape the room. Other students dived under their desks, and Lépine moved towards some women students, firing on and wounding three students and killing one. He changed the magazine in his weapon, and moved to the front of the class, shooting in all directions. At this point, the wounded Leclair asked for help and, after unsheathing his hunting knife, Lépine stabbed her three times, killing her. He took off his cap, wrapped his coat around his rifle, exclaimed "Oh, shit," and then committed suicide by shooting himself in the head, 20 minutes after having begun his attack. About 60 bullets remained in the boxes he had carried with him. He had killed 14 women in total (12 engineering students, one nursing student and one employee of the university) and injured 14 other people including four men.

Italics mine.

As you can see from the emphasis, at first no one took Lepine seriously. He had to fire a shot into the ceiling to convince them that he meant business. To me, that's as much a mark of the Canadian character, male and female alike, as anything: We don't stand in blind awe of wild-eyed gunmen, nor do we comply automatically with their demands. Our reflexive response is not an adrenaline-drippy "Oh, SHIT" or "Jump him!" but a cool, derisive "Are you for real?" It is only when we recognize that he is armed and we are not, that we act the only way rational people can act when confronted with madness: we try our best not to get hurt. If that means running or taking cover, so be it. As the saying goes, discretion is the better part of valor. Nathalie Provost's courageous attempt to reason with him is not unusual either; Canadians do it all the time, especially with Americans. Jean Chretien did it in 2003, when he attempted to talk some sense into Dubya over Iraq. The people who were separated by sex in the opening salvo probably complied with the gunman's demand out of a perfectly reasonable hope that if they did not antagonize him, he would not shoot anyone.

Had any of the men in that room had an attack of adrenaline-masquerading-as-testosterone, as Steyn would have it, he probably would have been a dead man, right along with even more women than ultimately died. You just don't banzai a man with a semi-auto--or for that matter, a six-shooter--unless you have a death wish. There is nothing inherently cowardly about wanting to live.

You can also see that women were not the only victims of the massacre; four injured men are not exactly nobody. So the idea that the men were all castrated wusses who jumped out of the line of fire screaming like girls, simply doesn't hold water. After that initial incident, Lepine, whose mental state was deteriorating fast, was a lot less discriminate about whom he shot.

But that's not the only daft thing Steyn has to say. Unfortunately, there's more. I'll spare you most of the dreck (which you can read at the National Re-Pew if you really want) and just give you the very dregs of it:

I'd prefer to say that the default position is a terrible enervating passivity. Murderous misfit loners are mercifully rare. But this awful corrosive passivity is far more pervasive, and, unlike the psycho killer, is an existential threat to a functioning society.

Thus spake the courageous, ultramasculine amateur psychologist, hectoring the white male world in general and Canada in particular from the safety of his Barcalounger. Then he slathered on the hand lotion and had another go at Wee Willie Winkie.

Meanwhile, here are a few examples of the "terrible enervating passivity" of the Virginia Tech victims.

First, "Students Panicked and Then Held Off Gunman":

Then, with gunshots ringing down the hall, Mr. O'Dell, who had been shot in the arm, and other students shut the classroom door and pushed themselves against it to prevent the gunman from getting back in.

A few minutes later, the gunman tried to force his way back inside the classroom, where Mr. Perkins was using his jacket and sweatshirt to stanch the wounds of bleeding students. Mr. Cho managed to open the door a crack, but the students pushed back hard enough to stop him.

"I sprinted on top of the desk to the door, because the aisle was clogged with people, and I used my foot as a wedge against the door," recalled Mr. O'Dell. "It was almost like you had to fight for your life. If you didn't, you died."

Mr. Perkins said he was struck at how Mr. O'Dell managed to help hold back the gunman, given his injury.

"It was just amazing to me that he was still up and leaning against the door," he said. "Derek was able to hold him off while I was helping other people."

Then, "That Was the Desk I Chose to Die Under":

One student, Zach Petkowicz, was near the lectern "cowering behind it," he would later say, when he realized that the door was vulnerable. There was a heavy rectangular table in the class, and he and two other students pushed it against the door. No sooner had they fixed it in place than someone pushed hard from the outside. It was the gunman. He forced it open about six inches, but no farther. Petkowicz and his classmates pushed back, not letting up. The gunman fired two shots through the door. One hit the lectern and sent wood scraps and metal flying. Neither hit any of the students. They could hear a clip dropping, the distinct, awful sound of reloading. And, again, the gunman moved on.

[...]

Room 204, Professor Librescu's class, seems to have been the gunman's last stop on the second floor. The teacher and his dozen students had heard too much, though they had not seen anything yet. They had heard a girl's piercing scream in the hallway. They had heard the pops and more pops. By the time the gunman reached the room, many of the students were on the window ledge. There was grass below, not concrete, and even some shrubs. The old professor was at the door, which would not lock, pushing against it, when the gunman pushed from the other side. Some of the students jumped, others prepared to jump until Librescu could hold the door no longer and the gunman forced his way inside.

Matt Webster, a 23-year-old engineering student from Smithfield, Va., was one of four students inside when the gunman appeared. "He was decked out like he was going to war," Webster recalled. "Black vest, extra ammunition clips, everything." Again, his look was blank, just a stare, no expression, as he started shooting. The first shot hit Librescu in the head, killing him. Webster ducked to the floor and tucked himself into a ball. He shut his eyes and listened as the gunman walked to the back of the classroom. Two other students were huddled by the wall. He shot a girl, and she cried out. Now the shooter was three feet away, pointing his gun right at Webster.

And just for shits 'n' giggles, get a load of the terrible, enervating passivity in this story:

He learned the rest of the story yesterday morning in a conference and counseling session for the employees of the school's Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics, who are mourning the death of Kevin Granata and one other professor, Liviu Librescu. There Slota, Puri and others were told that when the gunshots rang out on the second floor, Granata, a military veteran, was in his office on the third floor. He walked out and across the hall to a classroom, where 20 frightened students were wondering what to do. He directed them into his office, where he ushered them to safety -- in close quarters but behind the locked doors. Then, aware that other students might be in danger on the second floor, he and another professor, Wally Grant, went downstairs to investigate, Slota said.

Cho spotted them and shot them both. Grant was wounded but survived; Granata was killed. If the students in the classroom had tried to run out, they would have confronted the killer, too, Slota said.

"All those in that class, they all made it," Slota said. "They were locked up until the police came. [Granata] couldn't sit around and do nothing. He had to help out, find out what was going on."

My gosh, what a bunch of gutless wonders people on both sides of the world's longest undefended border are when confronted by an antisocial wingnut bearing arms. It's a wonder our terrible, enervating passivity hasn't killed us all!

I wonder what Mark Steyn would have done. Having had the dubious pleasure of reading too many of his crackbrained frothings in Maclean's, I suspect he'd have taken a leaf from Lepine's book and blamed the feminists for rejecting this brave, manly gun nut, cutting off his balls, and turning him terrorist. Or maybe, at least in his own wet dreams, he'd have crowed over the blood of every dead male, pointing to the congealing red pools at his feet and bellowing "That's the way you prove you're a man, lads--you die, die, DIE!"

I suspect, though, that he's really far more likely to be standing hushed and goggle-eyed in a pool of a different fluid altogether--clear, yellow, and running rapidly down his leg. It's rather telling that he was completely silent on the little matter of the women who died--and survived--so bravely in Montreal.

But then, it's only to be expected. After all, it's very apparent that Steyn has Manhood Issues.

PS: Newshounds has another fine exemplar (with video!) of Steyn soaking his trousers over what he calls a "culture of passivity". This "man" is a sick joke; he can't be trusted to cite so much as a single straight fact. He even lied about Charles Whitman, the Texas Tower Sniper, claiming a professor with a deer rifle shot back but the cops were useless. Actually, a handbook put out by the University of Texas press mentions that two cops killed Whitman, and makes no mention at all of a professor with a deer rifle. The Wikipedia entry on Whitman also makes no mention of a shooting professor, although it does state that a history professor called the police. Hmmm. I wonder if Steyn will man up and apologize for lying to FUX Snooze and its viewers, or if he'll crawl back into his hidey-hole when confronted.

April 20, 2007

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Give us a hug-ito!

Give us a hugito, Chavecito!

I love shots like this, because with Chavecito, it's never just a photo-op. He embraces the cause as well as the people--in this case, two of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, who have steadfastly campaigned for years to get justice for "disappeared" persons in Argentina.

The mothers are paying back the love, too, by calling for the extradition of Luis Posada Carriles--the CubanaBomber terrorist with Venezuelan citizenship who's currently being illegally harbored in Miami. They are being joined in protest by American citizens of conscience.

April 19, 2007

And now, a few words about school shootings

As the Boomtown Rats once sang, the lesson today is how to die.

Call it Death by Second Amendment. Or Death by Insanity. Either way, it works out to about the same thing. Isn't the practical definition of insanity a dogged habit of making the same mistakes repeatedly, yet still expecting a different result each time? When you follow a pattern, the outcome tends to be true to pattern. So if you follow a pattern of insanity, guess what your outcome is.

I hauled out my DVD of Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine today, dusted it off and gave it a spin. This was not just some morbid fascination. I wanted to see what, if anything, can be gleaned from it now, five years after its original release and eight years almost to the day after Columbine, to apply to this latest bloodbath. I'm also poring over my old copy of Elliott Leyton's Hunting Humans: The Rise of the Modern Multiple Murderer, originally published in the 1980s, to see what there is in there that might shed a light.

As luck would have it, there's plenty. Because not much has changed in those years, except for the worse. The Virginia Tech shooter fits right into the same dreary pattern that has characterized school shooters for decades. In fact, he IS the pattern. On steroids.

Bearing that in mind, let's now recall Bowling for Columbine.

One thing about Michael Moore--every time you see one of his documentaries, you notice something different about it. First you notice the slapstick humor. Then you notice the sadness. Then you notice how neatly he juxtaposes the two--like Kurt Vonnegut, he can make you cry laughing. Finally, you notice how intricately he ties things together. Things that you'd think had no connection, like unemployment, welfare-to-work programs, the defence contractor Lockheed Martin, the NRA, and oh yeah, gun insanity.

But as Moore points out, they do connect. And in Littleton, as in Flint, Michigan, they connect lethally. As earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes are a sign that the Earth's tectonic plates have reached a breaking point in a subduction zone somewhere on the Pacific Rim, so school shootings are to the plate tectonics of US politics. And the far-right has made this subduction zone a pressure cooker for decades now, right in line with the number of school shooters to emerge in that time. You can start with Charles Whitman in 1966, if you like, and go from there. Every school shooter, without exception, is an apogee of all things rightardly. Liberals and leftists simply don't snap that way.

Columbine High School isn't the only point of eruption. Buell Elementary School, in Moore's economically depressed hometown, is the scene of a less spectacular, but no less tragic, shooting. There, a six-year-old brought his uncle's .32 pistol to class and shot a classmate to death with just one bullet. So much for the contention that guns don't kill, and people do. If a first-grader can do it in one shot, it's hard to argue against the fact that the gun is simply too easy a killer to make it so widely and freely available.

The backstory, however, is even more troubling. The boy with the pistol might never have gotten his hands on it if his mother had not been in a workfare program. She worked 70 hours a week at two minimum-wage jobs which required her to travel more than an hour and a half by bus, each way. Yet all this work and sacrifice still wasn't enough to pay her rent. She got evicted and had to move in with her brother, the owner of the gun that killed little Kayla. Thus goes yet another mundane American tale of failure.

And who is the Great American Success Story that privatized Michigan's welfare program, turned it into workfare, and pushed a young boy's mother into two low-paying jobs that wouldn't cover her most basic living costs? Who got this mother evicted for lack of money? Who is ultimately responsible for this child being in that untenable position from which he became a killer? Lockheed Martin--the #1 employer in Littleton, Colorado.

See what I mean by intricate connections?

Even worse than the use of a missile manufacturer as a welfare administrator, though, is the use of celebrities to make the unacceptable not only accepted, but desired. Dick Clark's image is all over the American Bandstand cafe where the six-year-old shooter's mother earned part of her workfare pittance; Charlton Heston, meanwhile, serves as the National Rifle Association's formidable, unctuous figurehead. Like well-oiled guns, both men shoot out their all-American cultural messages, rapid-fire. Clark, whose name is synonymous with pop music and who has gotten rich almost from that alone, refuses to talk to Moore at all. Heston does grant Moore an interview, but refuses to take responsibility for helping to keep gun laws lax, Americans gun-crazy, and the culture of school shootings alive and well. In a land where messages of "personal responsibility" are constantly being dinned into the Little People's heads, the Big People are getting off easy. It seems that if you make enough money, you can abdicate responsibility if you so choose. You can glamorize the squalid and never have to look at the mess you helped to make. You can pretend it's someone else's problem, made solely by them. You even have the luxury of turning your back if you are called to account by someone like Michael Moore.

I can only admire Moore's restraint. When he went to see Charlton Heston at home, the meanest thing he did was politely ask him if he'd like to see a picture of the little girl who died. Big old coward wouldn't look at it--just ran off, if you can call his unheroic, knock-kneed half-shuffle running. Suddenly, he's not the guy who parted the Red Sea; he's just a pitiful, scared old man scuttling for a curtain to hide behind. Moore quietly leaves the picture propped up against a pillar where he might see it later.

Charlton Heston is not Moses. He never was. What is he? An old actor who now plays the role of Defender of the Indefensible. A cowardly bully who waves a long rifle in his cold dead hands and makes meaningless speeches about freedom and a great land in towns where gun violence has claimed young lives, and who insists it isn't his nut-club's fault that kids keep shooting each other. Why? Because the Second Amendment, written before the fledgling states had a "well-regulated militia" in the age of flintlocks and blunderbusses, guarantees everyone the right to blow the shit out of each other with the latest and lethalest shit-blowing technology, don't you know?

I'd rather have a beer with Marilyn Manson--the guy who outclassed Old Mr. Moses is all right with me, no matter what he does to piss off suburban parents. At least he cancelled his Denver concert out of respect for the grieving families. And when Moore asked him what he'd say to them, he said he wouldn't say a thing--he'd listen to what they had to say instead. Downright gentlemanly for a so-called shock rocker!

The NRA are no gentlemen; they are vultures. They actually relished descending not only on Littleton, but on Flint soon after the shooting there. The timing was no coincidence. They were coming there to feast on the carrion, flaunting their lawlessness, and shoving their lunacy in people's faces--reminding them, in short, who really employs the lawmakers. No, not Ye the People--'tis We, the Gun Pushers. So, what are you going to do about it?

Well, some of the parents had the guts to stand up to them. The father of one of the Columbine victims led an anti-NRA protest with his son's photo on a placard. But still--he shouldn't have had to! The NRA should have had the common decency to stay away, or at least apologize for the part they played in helping two disgruntled kids get their hands on assault weapons. If the anarchic Marilyn Manson could show some respect, why not they?

I suspect it is because the NRA, at heart, are just like Edmund Kemper.

Kemper, as Elliott Leyton informs us in Hunting Humans, is not a mass murderer; he's a serial killer. His weapon of choice was a knife, not a gun. Nevertheless, he has much in common with the NRA. Like them, he subscribes to the butchest of all American ideals. He's a fan of John Wayne; an NRA member; right-wing to the nth degree. Like them, he takes advantage of the wide-open loopholes of a society that pays lip service to rugged individualism, but only of a certain brand. Genuine dissent is less tolerated, and less celebrated, in the United States than is conformity to a right-wing ideal which is, at heart, profoundly anti-social.

Kemper also shares an anti-social outlook with the Virginia Tech shooter, Cho Seung-Hui. Both were profoundly alienated by, and attracted to, a higher social class they considered phony. Both failed to benefit from psychiatric attention in any meaningful way. It is true that their killing styles could not have been more different; Kemper took ten victims, one or two at a time; Cho took over thirty, all in a day. Juxtapose their musings, though, and you notice striking similarities of language, if not tone:

"My little social statement was, I was trying to hurt society where it hurt the most, and that was by taking its valuable...future members of the working society; that was the upper class, or the upper-middle class, what I considered to be snobby or snotty brats, or persons...that ended up later being better equipped to handle a living situation than I was, and to be more happily adjusted." (Kemper)

"You had everything you wanted. Your Mercedes wasn't enough, you brats. Your golden necklaces weren't enough, you snobs. Your trust funds wasn't enough. Your vodka and cognac wasn't enough. All your debaucheries weren't enough. Those weren't enough to fulfil your hedonistic needs. You had everything." (Cho)

Both, in their disparate ways, were taking pot-shots at the American Dream, that fable of ease and affluence that supposedly comes as a reward to the diligent worker, but more often simply falls unearned on those lucky enough to be born into the "best" social stratum. However, neither one is out to change it. These are not socialists, nor are they anarchists; they were never out to reform or renounce the capitalist system. On the contrary, both operated very much from within it, and set out to carve their niches in it through violence. If they were insane, it was after a distinct pattern--the pattern of unaccountability which is the thumbprint of the far-right. Both, like the NRA, pointed the finger of blame at everyone but themselves. According to Leyton,

If the murders can only be understood as a personalized social protest, it must be emphasized that these killers are no radicals: they have enthusiastically embraced the established order only to discover that it offers them no place they can endure. Their rebellion is a protest against their perceived exclusion from society, not an attempt to alter it as befits a revolutionary. This fundamentally rebellious, not revolutionary, nature of their protest is undoubtedly why so few government resources are allocated to the capture of these killers (compared, say, to the huge police apparatus that monitors political dissidents), for they pose no threat to the established order--neither in their ideology nor their acts.

(Italics mine.)

Little wonder, then, that more politicians have chosen to direct their outrage at Marilyn Manson, rather than the NRA. Manson may be no threat to society, but he looks like he damn well ought to be one. He's an easy target. On the other hand, the NRA paints itself as apple-pie wholesome, but it is rotten and crawling with maggots. And those maggots have big, ugly teeth that, as Michael Moore has shown, routinely batten on the public's fears--and the vast gun-industry profits that can be turned from them.

One denounces them at one's peril. But denounce them one must, because enough is enough. There is no true safety in "same shit and more of it"; anyone who thinks the answer to school shootings is to allow students, or teachers, to "pack", may as well be advocating public drunkenness as an antidote to drunk driving deaths.

And a surprisingly large number of Americans seem to think so too.

April 18, 2007

Quotable: Bill Maher on the elites

April 15, 2007

June Callwood has died

I really have nothing to say that her obit in the Toronto Star could not say better about this remarkable woman, activist and writer.

Sleep well, June.

One more thing to celebrate

Amid all the hoopla over the anniversary of the coup and counter-coup in Venezuela five years ago, we have this short but sweet item:

President Hugo Chávez Frías, announced this Friday that Venezuela paid off the debt that it owed to the World Bank. "Yesterday (on Thursday) we paid the last installment of the debt (. . .) to the World Bank."

Thus he highlighted it during a ceremony that was held around the Palace of Miraflores, right at the heart of Caracas, to commemorate the 13th of April of 2002, the day when a civic-military rebellion restored the constitutional order in Venezuela.

"With this last payment (to the World Bank), paying off the debt that was almost 3 billion dollars in 1998, I can say to them today that we don't owe a cent of debt either to the International Monetary Fund or to the World Bank," he exclaimed.

The Venezuelan head of state declared that he felt "happy" about the end of this obligation, after reminding the audience that Venezuela helped the "sister Republic of Argentina pay its debt to the International Monetary Fund."

"I feel very happy that Venezuela has helped Argentina free itself from the International Monetary Fund. Argentina no longer owes anything to the IMF, among other things, thanks to the support of Venezuela," he said.

"We have then transformed Venezuela, from an indebted and bound country that we were, . . . to a modest but important country and financial center that supports other countries and peoples," he added.

This Friday, on the 13th of April, Venezuela was a scene of popular and military ceremonies presided over by President Hugo Chávez, to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the civic-military response that "squashed" the coup d'état of April 2002, which had interrupted for 47 hours the mandate of the Venezuelan president.

Chavecito is wise to get out of that noose as soon as he did, because apparently, Paul Wolfowitz is not leaving the notorious World Bank anytime soon. What chutzpah, considering the scandal of how he wangled his girlfriend a job--and a huge pay raise--at the State Dept.

What I find most remarkable is that anyone could be attracted to this slimy character at all:

Paul Wolfowitz goobing on his comb

A man who would rather goob on his comb than spring a few bucks for hair gel is a creep in my books.

PS: Click here to see finance minister Rodrigo Cabezas do the math on how Venezuela ditched its debt (article and video in Spanish.)

Quotable: Joan Baez (and Bob Dylan) on holy wars

April 14, 2007

April 11 victims speak out on VTV

Video in Spanish, courtesy of Aporrea. Running time approximately one hour and 15 minutes.

Ernesto Villegas, host of the VTV morning show En Confianza, interviews members of ASOVIC, the association of victims of the April 11 coup d'etat in Venezuela.

We hear Yesenia Fuentes, media co-ordinator of the association, describing how she was struck in the face by a bullet of a type and calibre used only by the Metropolitan Caracas Police. (The force was, at the time, under control of an anti-Chavez mayor.) Fuentes is lucky; the wound she sustained healed completely, with barely a scar. She knows all too well, however, that there are others with worse wounds, some of them permanent.

But no wound is more permanent than the loss of a loved one. Another of the ASOVIC members is Dalila Mendoza, who lost her husband, Pedro Jose Linares, to a police bullet under Llaguno Bridge, where he and several other Bolivarians were demonstrating their support for Hugo Chavez. Then there is Edgar Tortoza, who lost his brother Jorge, a newspaper photographer, to a sniper's bullet. The anti-Chavez forces tried to claim Jorge as one of "their" martyrs, according to Michael McCaughan's The Battle of Venezuela:

"We're still trying to get Tortoza on board," one lawyer told me, referring to Jorge Tortoza, the "prize" victim of 11-A....The attempt to recruit Tortoza as a victim of state terror ultimately failed. A New York Times reporter spoke to Tortoza's sister, Sonia Tortoza de Blanco, who described a conversation she had had with her brother on the morning of the fateful events. "Things are getting worse," Jorge told her. "It seems to me that they want to overthrow the government. I can't tell how this will end." Sonia agreed and added, "I can--they need at least one death."...Tortoza was posthumously named the winner of the Voices of Freedom press award given by the Venezuelan Chamber of Broadcasting and the Television Federation, both of which were firmly in the anti-Chavez camp.

That move also fell apart in the face of the evidence. The man the escualidos originally tried to pin the blame on, Amilcar Carvajal, a Chavista, turned out to be innocent--Jorge Tortoza was shot 13 minutes before Carvajal even drew his pistol, and moreover, the line of fire (as determined by autopsy) did not correspond to where Carvajal was standing. It did, however, correspond to the position of one of several suspected snipers stationed on rooftops that day. There is ample evidence that the snipers and undercover shooters were working in collaboration, not only with one another, but also the Metropolitan Police. This argues strongly that they were all on the anti-Chavez side--in other words, perpetrators in an act of treason. The largest number of victims were Chavistas, with only a token smattering of opposition demonstrators. The shooters' job was clearly to take victims on both sides and create chaos, so that any ensuing riots could be blamed on "fascist mobs" supposedly mobilized by Chavez.

Edgar Tortoza is trying still to find out who the two mysterious men at the scene were who claimed to be Jorge's work colleagues. They were dressed in the many-pocketed fishing vests commonly worn by press photographers to carry extra film, lenses and other gadgets of the trade. Yet neither one carried any camera--except Jorge Tortoza's, after he was shot! The camera was later recovered by police, but the pictures on the film were out of order and some had not been taken by Jorge Tortoza. Who took them, and what happened to the film in the camera? What was on it that was so incriminating that it had to be disappeared or altered?

Five years after the murders, there are still so many unanswered questions. To that end, ASOVIC lawyer Antonio Molina is keeping the pressure on for a federal investigation. So far, none of the perpetrators have been tried for their part in the crimes.

There are so many intriguing things begging to be investigated. There's a clip of CNN correspondent Otto Neustaldt, who witnessed an extraordinary thing: the military high commanders who called on the citizens to rise up against Chavez, recording a tape in which the number of casualties was announced--two hours before any had occurred. How did they know how many dead and wounded there would be, or indeed that there would be any? Unless they were in on it and giving the "kill" orders to the sharpshooters, it makes no sense.

Neustaldt, a foreign correspondent, had nothing to lose by telling the truth, at least after the fact. On the other hand, Andres Izarra, formerly news director at RCTV, resigned immediately during the coup because he was unwilling to follow the station's line, "cero Chavismo en pantalla"--zero Chavismo on the screen. (RCTV is now about to lose its privilege of access to the public airwaves for its abuse thereof in support of the coup. Meanwhile, Izarra is now in a much better position--he works for the multinational satellite channel, Telesur. Let it never be said that Karma doesn't happen!)

The media's role in the coup is central and blatant. While they kept touting the line that Chavistas were "fascist hordes", the blatantly fascistic, gangland behavior on their own side went unquestioned, or was promoted as "democratic". We can see a clip of them, "arresting" Chavez's then justice minister. It is an ugly scene, reminiscent of a lynch mob. Not surprisingly, several other government ministers had to go into hiding because they received death threats.

Little by little, though, the truth is creeping out. Some of the opposition's own gunshot victims of that day are now speaking out, saying they were "manipulated and taken advantage of". Survivors and family members of the dead are coming forward to denounce the way in which their trust was abused by the opposition leaders. They marched, they said, in the hopes of changing things for the better, not to become sacrificial lambs in a bloody coup. And the consensus is clear: they agree that the primary intended victim was to have been President Chavez.

There is hope.

PS: Don't miss Gregory Wilpert's excellent, comprehensive run-down on the events leading up to, and during, the coup, at Venezuelanalysis.

April 13, 2007

Festive Left Friday Blogging: A musical ode to popular victory

First, one from Lloviznando Cantos:

"Y Bajaron", which celebrates the people who rescued democracy five years ago today in Venezuela. It means "And they came down"--referring to the poor barrio dwellers who came down from the hills around Caracas to protest the fascist coup and demand the return of Hugo Chavez. Tens of thousands surrounded Miraflores Palace and chanted so loudly that the fascists were spooked and ran. Then the soldiers of the palace guard moved in, took some prisoners, and flashed the victory sign from the roof (you can see it in the video.) People power at its finest!

Then, one from Sontizón: "A cada 11 le llega su 13"--"To every 11th comes its 13th".

April 12, 2007

Quotable: Kurt Vonnegut on socialism

"Christianity and socialism alike, in fact, prescribe a society dedicated to the proposition that all men, women, and children are created equal and shall not starve."

--Kurt Vonnegut

God Bless You, Mr. Funnyguts

From the wires, a sad but not unexpected item about one of my favorite all-time writers:

American literary idol Kurt Vonnegut, best known for such classic novels as "Slaughterhouse-Five" and "Cat's Cradle," died on Tuesday night in Manhattan at age 84, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.

Longtime family friend, Morgan Entrekin, who reported Vonnegut's death, said the writer had suffered brain injuries as a result of a fall several weeks ago, the newspaper reported.

Vonnegut, born in Indianapolis in 1922, also wrote plays, essays and short fiction. But his novels -- 14 in all -- became classics of the American counterculture. He was a literary idol, particularly to students in the 1960s and 1970s, the Times said.

The defining moment of Vonnegut's life was the firebombing of Dresden, Germany by Allied Forces in 1945, an event he witnessed as a young prisoner of war, the newspaper said.

Dresden was the basis for "Slaughterhouse-Five," which was published in 1969 against the backdrop of war in Vietnam, racial unrest and cultural and social upheaval, the Times said.

Vonnegut became a cult hero when the novel reached No. 1 on best-seller lists, the article said, adding that some schools and libraries have banned the book because of its sexual content, rough language and depictions of violence.

The novel featured a signature Vonnegut phrase, "so it goes," which became a catch phrase for opponents of the Vietnam war.

After the book was published, Vonnegut went into severe depression and vowed never to write another novel. In 1984, he tried to take his life with sleeping pills and alcohol, the report said.

The report fails to note how lucky we have been that his suicide attempt failed. Out of it grew Deadeye Dick, one of his most poignant later works. A great deal of wry, informal and absolutely wonderful philosophizing (in his nonfiction collections Palm Sunday and Fates Worse Than Death) also ensued. So did several other novels, all of which proved Vonnegut's powers as a writer to be undiminished, whatever his mental state at the time.

And I think Vonnegut himself was glad that the attempt failed, because it enabled him to meet Lee Stringer, a formerly homeless man whose Grand Central Winter propelled him to fame in the late 1990s. A conversation about writing and life in general they had (in discussion before an appreciative audience) became a slim but to me very important book, Like Shaking Hands With God. Both writers, by their own admission, have no grand answers for us, but along the way they managed to impart a more honest, penetrating, at times very funny way of asking the questions.

Slaughterhouse-Five is, of course, his most famous book, and deservedly so; it took him so long to write and so many false starts, and the end result is unforgettable. One of the finest, truest, most imaginative and most hallucinatory books I've ever read. Here's one of my favorite passages from it:

Over the years, people I've met have often asked me what I'm working on, and I've usually replied that the main thing was a book about Dresden.

I said that to Harrison Starr, the movie maker, one time, and he raised his eyebrows and inquired, "Is it an anti-war book?"

"Yes," I said. "I guess."

"You know what I say to people when I hear they're writing anti-war books?"

"No. What do you say, Harrison Starr?"

"I say, 'Why don't you write an anti-glacier book instead?'"

What he meant, of course, was that there would always be wars, that they were as easy to stop as glaciers. I believe that, too.

And even if wars didn't keep coming like glaciers, there would still be plain old death.

Of course, Harrison Starr, that giggle-giggle witty proponent of glaciers, nowadays might as well be known as "Harrison Who?" I know of no accomplishment of his, other than this incidental appearance in one of my favorite books, not as a filmmaker, but cast in the role of a foil.

Vonnegut, on the other hand, is very well known indeed--for writing anti-glacier books in which the word motherfucker appears in a raw wartime context, uncensored, unbleeped, unvarnished and unasterisked. For this and, I suspect, for its anti-glacier leanings, Slaughterhouse-Five regularly finds itself on lists of banned books all over the United States, that sweet land of liberty, where you can say anything, including "FIRE!" in a crowded theatre. Especially since the Fairness Doctrine was abolished, anti-glacier speech has enjoyed unprecedented popularity. Just ask all those free-speech-loving right-wing water carriers.

God bless the anti-glacier book, for without it, I might never have learned why those who fought World War II are generally the slowest to praise its noble purpose. They don't expect great rewards for this. They humbly ask that we simply not forget what they did. To what end?

Why, to stop the next glacier, naturally.

And here is another of my favorite passages, in which Vonnegut describes, in great detail, how to stop a glacier:

I have told my sons that they are not under any circumstances to take part in massacres, and that the news of massacres of enemies is not to fill them with satisfaction or glee.

I have also told them not to work for companies which make massacre machinery, and to express contempt for people who think we need machinery like that.

As you can see, stopping a glacier is a monumentally difficult task. There are certainly a great many companies who make massacre machinery, and a lot of flunkies in and out of the media who think we need it. Happily, all Kurt Vonnegut's sons are now long past the age in which they could take part in massacres. I suspect they're probably also old enough to retire, or soon will be, and so need never take a job in a massacre-machine factory.

Lucky ducks.

We poor sods, however, must make do with writing anti-glacier screeds (like this one!) on the Internets, and pray someone, anyone, reads and heeds.

Here's another passage I like:

And on the third day of wandering, somebody shot at the four from far away--shot four times as they crossed a narrow brick road. One shot was for the scouts. The next one was for the antitank gunner, whose name was Roland Weary.

The third bullet was for the filthy flamingo, who stopped dead center in the road when the lethal bee buzzed past his ear. Billy stood there politely, giving the marksman another chance. It was his addled understanding of the rules of warfare that the marksman should be given a second chance. The next shot missed Billy's kneecaps by inches, going end-on-end, from the sound of it.

Roland Weary and the scouts were safe in a ditch, and Weary growled at Billy, "Get out of the road, you dumb motherfucker." The last word was still a novelty in the speech of white people in 1944. It was fresh and astonishing to Billy, who had never fucked anybody--and it did its job. It woke him up and got him off the road.

This is why that book keeps landing on the ban-lists, thus earning Vonnegut more readers later on than the people who banned it could dare dream of. That passage, in which a word seldom used by white people in 1944 makes its debut in an American novel, is fresh and astonishing (maybe a little too fresh and astonishing for some), and it does its job. It wakes you up and gets you off the road.

So, I think, does this one:

American planes, full of holes and wounded men and corpses, took off backwards from an airfield in England. Over France, a few German fighter planes flew at them backwards, sucked bullets and shell fragments from some of the planes and crewmen. They did the same for wrecked American bombers on the ground, and those planes flew up backwards to join the formation.

The formation flew backwards over a German city that was in flames. The bombers opened their bomb bay doors, exerted a miraculous magnetism which shrunk the fires, gathered them into cylindrical steel containers, and lifted the containers into the bellies of the planes. The containers were stored neatly in racks. The Germans below had miraculous devices of their own, which were long steel tubes. They used them to suck more fragments from the crewmen and planes. But there were still a few wounded Americans, though, and some of the bombers were in bad repair. Over France, though, German fighters came up again, made everything and everybody as good as new.

When the bombers got back to their base, the steel cylinders were taken from the racks and shipped back to the United States of America, where factories were operating night and day, dismantling the cylinders, separating the dangerous contents into minerals. Touchingly, it was mainly women who did this work. The minerals were then shipped to specialists in remote areas. It was their business to put them into the ground, to hide them cleverly, so they would never hurt anybody ever again.

Since we cannot actually reverse these man-made glaciers, like the backwards film Billy Pilgrim sees, we have to do the next best thing: not build them.

Meanwhile, on Tralfamadore, the author of Slaughterhouse-Five is looking down, perhaps thinking that he is not in good condition at this moment, but that he is fine in other moments, as the Tralfamadorians are wont to do.

So it goes.

George Will invents a new pronoun

...in reference to the Coultergeist:

The word is "herm". Or at least it sounds like it. Poor George, he's so confused.

This must be the first of those many exploding wingnut heads I predicted a while back.

Whoever wrote this deserves a medal

I don't believe she'll get one, though. Which is a damned shame. Truth-telling has become so rare these days that it deserves something other than some asshole on Craig's List flagging it so it gets pulled.

I'm having the worst damn week of my whole damn life so I'm going to write this while I'm pissed off enough to do it right.

I am SICK of all this bullshit people are writing about the Iraq war. I am abso-fucking-lutely sick to death of it. What the fuck do most of you know about it? You watch it on TV and read the commentaries in the newspaper or Newsweek or whatever god damn yuppie news rag you subscribe to and think you're all such fucking experts that you can scream at each other like five year old about whether you're right or not. Let me tell you something: unless you've been there, you don't know a god damn thing about it. It you haven't been shot at in that fucking hell hole, SHUT THE FUCK UP!

How do I dare say this to you moronic war supporters who are "Supporting our Troops" and waving the flag and all that happy horse shit? I'll tell you why. I'm a Marine and I served my tour in Iraq. My husband, also a Marine, served several. I left the service six months ago because I got pregnant while he was home on leave and three days ago I get a visit from two men in uniform who hand me a letter and tell me my husband died in that fucking festering sand-pit. He should have been home a month ago but they extended his tour and now he's coming home in a box.

You fuckers and that god-damn lying sack of shit they call a president are the reason my husband will never see his baby and my kid will never meet his dad.

And you know what the most fucked up thing about this Iraq shit is? They don't want us there. They're not happy we came and they want us out NOW. We fucked up their lives even worse than they already were and they're pissed off. We didn't help them and we're not helping them now. That's what our soldiers are dying for.

Oh while I'm good and worked up, the government doesn't even have the decency to help out the soldiers whos lives they ruined. If you really believe the military and the government had no idea the veterans' hospitals were so fucked up, you are a god-damn retard. They don't care about us. We're disposable. We're numbers on a page and they'd rather forget we exist so they don't have to be reminded about the families and lives they ruined while they're sipping their cocktails at another fund raiser dinner. If they were really concerned about supporting the troops, they'd bring them home so their families wouldn't have to cry at a graveside and explain to their children why mommy or daddy isn't coming home. Because you can't explain it. We're not fighting for our country, we're not fighting for the good of Iraq's people, we're fighting for Bush's personal agenda. Patriotism my ass. You know what? My dad served in Vietnam and NOTHING HAS CHANGED.

So I'm pissed. I'm beyond pissed. And I'm going to go to my husband funeral and recieve that flag and hang it up on the wall for my baby to see when he's older. But I'm not going to tell him that his father died for the stupidty of the American government. I'm going to tell him that his father was a hero and the best man I ever met and that he loved his country enough to die for it, because that's all true and nothing will be solved by telling my son that his father was sent to die by people who didn't care about him at all.

Fuck you, war supporters, George W. Bush, and all the god damn mother fuckers who made the war possible. I hope you burn in hell.

It's true that nothing would be solved by telling only her son that his father was "sent to die by people who didn't care about him at all." The whole damn country needs to hear it, and hear it often. Every stinking war supporter needs to hear it. After all, how many of them are in danger of losing family members to this lovely, lovely war they love to cheerlead for? And how many of them know the truth and would still support the war regardless--because if a president of the United States ordered it, it must be right even when all the signs point the other way?

The saddest part of this whole thing is how the lying has become generational. Good, innocent people are being killed for some kind of chronic bellicose mendacity which has mildewed the Oval Office. Her father was lied into Vietnam, she and her husband have been lied into Iraq, and who knows where her infant son could be lied into fighting when he comes of age?

Only by telling the truth, and telling it often, can there be any hope of stopping the lies. The person who saved this post did their part; now I'm doing mine (small though it is). Do yours and send the link to the original story out, or copy and paste it to your own blog, forum, etc.

On a related note, here is Ava Lowery's latest video--made over the Easter weekend at Camp Casey.

April 11, 2007

What really happened on Puente Llaguno

In case there's any doubt, Mario Silva (on the media-dissection show La Hojilla) has the proof on video:

Aerial view (from a helicopter) of the bridge where the Chavez supporters held off the Caracas metro police AND a number of snipers on this day five years ago. You can see they are ducking and crawling across the bridge. You can hear sirens and shots. You can also see there is NO opposition march on Baralt Avenue. All you see down on the avenue is a small number of Chavistas, and the police riot truck, from which shots were being fired--at the Chavistas!

Yeah, those Bolivarian Circles were really shooting at a march three blocks away. Venevision said it, some people believe it, that settles it.

How hardcore stupid does anyone have to be to STILL believe that old disociado myth?

Every 11th has its 13th...

Poster of Pedro Carmona, Venezuela's shortest-lived dictator

This poster reads:

After the coup, a shadow lay across the land...

...and with it came death and human rights violations. The dark forces of conspiracy assaulted power, refusing to recognize the legitimate gains of the people. After its passing there remained the pain of an outraged Venezuela, and a trampled constitution.

5 years since the oligarchic, imperialistic media coup.

From the counterrevolutionary coup to the civilian/military revolution of April 13.

Every 11th has its 13th. The people are still in the streets, now moving toward socialism!

And, on a related note, things also seem to be moving toward justice for the perpetrators. According to a flurry of notes on Aporrea, there is a push on to bring Dictator Carmona to court--and prison:

The president of the National Assembly, Cilia Flores, affirmed that Pedro Carmona Estanga and all those responsible for the coup of April 11, 2002, must pay for their actions in prison.

Flores was consulted about the decision by the penal chamber of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ) regarding the extradition of Carmona, a fugitive from Venezuelan justice currently seeking asylum in Colombia.

"Today it is five years since that fascist coup, and we denounce and are working to see that all those who participated in those events are brought to justice and pay for their actions in prison," Flores said.

Referring specifically to the sentence, Flores said: "Now it is time to agree upon his extradition, because this man perpetrated a coup d'etat in front of the eyes of the world, dissolved the powers of the Constitution of the Republic, and also the National Assembly. Also, during his reign, he kidnapped and held prisoner the president of the Republic, Hugo Chávez Frías."

Carmona is not the only one facing the wrath of an outraged Venezuela. One of his co-conspirators, Henrique Capriles Radonski, is also in deep mierda:

On next Monday, April 16, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals of Metropolitan Caracas will decide if the mayor of Baruta Municipality, Henrique Capriles Radonski, will remain free or whether he will face trial again for acts perpetrated against the Cuban Embassy in Venezuela on April 12, 2002.

Capriles Radonski is accused of having commanded the groups who perpetrated violent acts against the Cuban Embassy one day after Pedro Carmona Estanga committed a coup d'etat against the legitimately constituted president, Hugo Chávez Frías.

The actions of these groups were violent. Several vehicles were damaged, and the water and electricity to the foreign legation were cut.

Translations mine.

Incidentally, you can see the guilt of both men and their thugs caught on video in the post right below this one.

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

...but by damn, it will be BLOGGED.

In honor of the 5th anniversary of the failed coup attempt against Hugo Chavez, the documentary that made the escualidos' heads explode. And is still making them screech and squawk and spin.

This started out as a documentary on Hugo Chavez himself, but ended up accidentally covering the coup instead, since the filmmakers happened to be in the presidential palace, Miraflores, when it all went down. It's gripping to say the least, and gives us a glimpse of just how cool Chavez is, both as a person and in a crisis. It's obvious from many of the sequences that he enjoys huge popular support, mainly from the poor and lower-middle classes at home. It also shows the courage and loyalty of his government ministers, many of whom were in the palace when the coup happened and decided they'd rather stay there, even when the coup plotters threatened to bomb it, than abandon their president. Only when he was taken prisoner did they leave; since they faced death threats, beatings and arrests, many had to go into hiding. The people were then left to fend for themselves. Over the next two days, many more were killed by police when they attempted to organize demonstrations demanding that Chavez be returned.

Most amazing about this video is how the coup plotters had the bravado--and the extreme stupidity--to go on the air and tell their plans to the television audience. There is no way the oppositionists can deny that these people are guilty; they admit to having staged EVERYTHING. Moreover, they actually BRAG about it. One TV anchor boasts of having videotaped a general calling for Chavez's resignation at his own house (!!!), and an admiral who was in the military wing of the plot reveals how Chavez had to be persuaded not to go to Costa Rica on a scheduled state visit, in order to have him present so they could take him prisoner when the pre-planned violence erupted. It's a remarkable moment, and one that shows just how complicit the commercial media in Venezuela were in the coup. They were, in fact, the chief "weapon" in the plot, according to one of the generals. Some still believe the lies the media peddled on the two days that the coup plot was in effect, but most don't--especially not after seeing this video, which is surely the most graphic piece of evidence against them!

My favorite scene, though, is the one where Chavez talks about his great-grandfather, Pedro Perez Delgado, whom he had grown up hearing all kinds of tall tales about. The big one was that he was a murderer--a mass murderer who chopped people's heads off with machetes. Naturally this was a troubling thing for a young boy to hear. Later, during his own military career, Chavez did research and found out the truth--that his grandfather had been a folk hero, nicknamed Maisanta, and that he had indeed killed a man--a colonel who had made Pedro's sister pregnant but refused to own up to it. Since their father was dead, that made Pedro the man of the family--and at the age of 16, he killed the colonel to save his sister's honor. Then he fled and, along the way, joined a revolutionary guerrilla war which was then in progress, during the 1890s. He ended up bringing about the downfall of two corrupt leaders--a local governor and a dictatorial president--before landing up in jail himself. Clearly Chavez has revolution in his blood--and just as clearly, history repeats itself! You can see the pride in his eyes as he recites a poem that was written in Maisanta's honor--he does it with real feeling, and the result is a very charming scene of the calm before the coup. It's not hard to see why he's a popular leader who, no matter how long he talks (and he can go on for hours!) commands people's undivided attention.

It's also not hard to see why the oligarchy wanted to remove him; this man is dangerous--to their corrupt way of life. Just like his grandfather before him, Chavez bids fair to shake loose their grip on the country and its economy. None of them have his popular appeal, and certainly none his innovative ideas, which are drawn straight from Simon Bolivar, Ezequiel Zamora, and Simon Rodriguez--three great heroes of Venezuelan history. While the oligarchy's ideology comes from Washington, the Miami Mafia, and the discredited Chicago School of Economics, Chavez's comes straight from the nation's own roots. And the haste with which they tried to dismantle all its gains--and FAILED--can be seen in this video, which is a nailbiter right up to the end.

Jala que la soga se revienta...

April 10, 2007

A most disturbing video

From a link sent to me by my friend Corey.

Who made this video I don't know, but apparently they are Iraqi. The speaker is very eloquent, and a lot of the statements he makes ring true. He decries the false, meaningless "democracy" of the neo-cons, saying it would be better to live in an outright dictatorship. Food for thought? Yes, and some will say it's hard to digest. Others will probably dismiss it as al-Q propaganda, giving aid and comfort to The Enemy, etc. Make of it what you will, but watch it anyway. It gives no aid or comfort to anyone, only validation to what we in the peace movement have long believed: that Gulf War II is not and never has been about freedom, democracy, stopping terrorism or WMDs.

April 8, 2007

Quotable: Ursula K. Le Guin on extremes

"Almost anything carried to its logical extreme becomes depressing, if not carcinogenic."

--Ursula K. Le Guin, from the introduction to The Left Hand of Darkness

April 7, 2007

Dear Leader is saved, but to what end?

To the end that the so-called Free World can self-immolate in his stead. What else?

Credit Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally with saving the leader of the free world from self-immolation.

Mulally told journalists at the New York auto show that he intervened to prevent President Bush from plugging an electrical cord into the hydrogen tank of Ford's hydrogen-electric plug-in hybrid at the White House last week. Ford wanted to give the Commander-in-Chief an actual demonstration of the innovative vehicle, so the automaker arranged for an electrical outlet to be installed on the South Lawn and ran a charging cord to the hybrid. However, as Mulally followed Bush out to the car, he noticed someone had left the cord lying at the rear of the vehicle, near the fuel tank.

"I just thought, 'Oh my goodness!' So, I started walking faster, and the President walked faster and he got to the cord before I did. I violated all the protocols. I touched the President. I grabbed his arm and I moved him up to the front," Mulally said. "I wanted the president to make sure he plugged into the electricity, not into the hydrogen. This is all off the record, right?"

Dubya, a dumbass even with a simple electrical plug

Dubya, unable to tell his ass from a hole in the ground. To think that this is the hand that holds the nuclear football is frankly terrifying.

Everybody sing!

I wonder if there's a treaty against this

Enriched Geranium???

April 6, 2007

The poor subsidize the rich, again

...this time in a particularly down-at-heel part of New Mexico, the poorest state in the Union.

Residents in the US state of New Mexico have approved a new tax to build the nation's first commercial spaceport.

Supporters including New Mexico's governor and billionaire, Richard Branson, had called the tax vote a make-or-break election for the port.

But others say the money should go towards improving local problems and resent having to subsidise the activities of wealthy space tourists.

Taxes will contribute about $50m (£25m) in to the nearly $200m project.

Dona Ana County is a relatively poor and bleak swathe of desert in southern New Mexico with fewer than 200,000 residents.

But voters passed a 0.25% increase in the local sales tax to help contribute to the cost of building Spaceport America.

Sir Richard Branson has signed a long-term lease with the state of New Mexico to make the new spaceport the headquarters of his Virgin Galactic space tourism business.

The spaceport is expected to open in 2009, and Virgin Galactic says space flights will cost around $200,000 for a 2.5-hour flight.

Of course, this is stupider than seagull shit. Because it begs the obvious questions: Hey, isn't Branson a billionaire, with a B? Can't he afford to pay for it out of his own well-lined pocket? How about all those rich people he plans to ferry into space for a Gilligan's Island tour? Can't they pony up? Or is it all so much too rich for their collective blood that they simply must tax everyone who can least afford it--those who will never in their lives taste the goshwowery of it all?

The very least they could do is follow the example of airports everywhere--tax the travellers only. But noooo. That would drive the millionaire tourists away. Supply Side Jesus wouldn't like that! Render unto Caesar so that his wealthy cronies can stay that way, capisce?

CubanaBomber Death Watch: Should I stay or should I go now?

Cue the Clash, because if Luis Posada Carriles goes there will be trouble, and if he stays it will be double.

Or is it the other way 'round?

Oh, whatever. Cue the Clash, dammit.

The United States government has appealed against a ruling to release a prominent anti-communist Cuban exile, Luis Posada Carriles.

A judge in Texas ruled that Mr Posada, now a Venezuelan national, should be freed pending an immigration hearing.

Mr Posada, 79, has been detained in the US since May 2005 after illegally entering the country.

A former CIA employee, he is wanted in Venezuela and Cuba over the downing of a Cuban airliner in 1976.

Federal prosecutors have asked that Mr Posada remain behind bars while they appeal against the ruling.

Mr Posada is accused of masterminding the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner in which 73 people died. He denies any involvement.

He was also jailed in Panama over a plot to assassinate President Fidel Castro during a visit by the Cuban leader to Panama in 2000, but freed in 2004.

Both Venezuela and Cuba want to put Mr Posada on trial.

US authorities have ruled out returning him to either of these countries, but they also do not want to let him go free, calling him a security risk, and so have been seeking a third country to take him.

And of course, no other country wants him. Including the United States, it seems. After the embarrassment that is Emmanuel "Toto" Constant, it's no longer acceptable to have CIA-connected terrorists in the US. That's because they'll be denounced and there'll be no end of calls for them to be brought to justice.

I can just hear wingnut heads exploding all over Miami now. Especially over the fact that their hero is being treated like a--gasp--criminal!

Well, duh. Maybe it's because he IS one. Ever thought of that?

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Men of many hats

When it comes to heads, nobody has better ones on their shoulders than Evo and Chavecito.

Or better dressed ones, come to that:

Evo models a coca-leaf hat

Is this Evo's Easter bonnet? Or just another of his many creative uses for coca leaves?

Evo balancing a loaf of bread on his head

I read on the wires that this is actually a good-luck ritual, but it could also be Evo's way of telling us that grain products, such as bread, have a vital place in a balanced diet.

Meanwhile, Chavecito is also a man of many hats...

Hugo Chavez salutes the Bolivian hat

...gamely donning them even when they're not terribly flattering to his face.

Chavecito and Evo in Andean flap hats

The Andean flap hat, for example, suits Evo much better.

Chavecito in an African hat

This African chapeau, however, is quite fetching.

I quite like this regional style from Zulia...

Hugo Chavez in a Zulia hat

...which also suits Evo to a tee:

Evo in a Zulia hat

This Panamanian palm hat is nice, too:

Chavecito in a Panama hat

And I really, REALLY like him in this Stetson:

Hugo Chavez, cowboy good guy

...which harks back to his llanero origins.

Hugo Chavez, ready to play ball

He definitely looks at home in a baseball cap.

And he's downright imposing in his full-dress uniform:

Hugo Chavez in full dress uniform

And yes, by all means, put on your hard hat, Chavecito, before you Safety Dance.

Hugo Chavez reaches for his safety hat

But my all time favorite is his iconic red beret...

Hugo Chavez in camouflage and his iconic beret

...which looks equally good with camo and civvies.

Hugo Chavez--nobody looks better in red

It takes a lot of talent to wear so many hats.

April 3, 2007

Brazilian women say "Nao" to Bush's ethanol scheme

Are you listening, Lula?

(Video originally seen on Aporrea, courtesy of TVColetiva Brazil. Portuguese only, but it's easy to tell what's going on.)

There were about 900 women at this demo, according to Aporrea. This was a serious one. But entirely peaceful, in spite of guards trying to confiscate their banners.

April 2, 2007

How Bill O'Reilly supports the troops

One more reason to despise the man, in case anybody needs one:

When a retired colonel makes some damn good points about the Geneva conventions and the need for the US to respect them in order to retain the moral high ground it's always so quick to claim, he gets all huffy...and then orders her mike cut. Just a typical day at the office for Mr. Oh-Really!

Meanwhile, here's a gentleman who speaks for me and a lot of others on this issue:

Believe me, if I had one, Bill O'Reilly could suck mine, too. But I'd insist on wearing a condom, because that man has a foul mouth and I don't know where it's been.

April 1, 2007

Quotable: Barbara Bush on apathy and ignorance

The Ugly Mind of Barbara Bush

Colombian paramilitary admits what we already guessed...

...namely, that he and his fascist kind are in the pocket of the big multinationals. Story from Aporrea, translated by Your Humble:

A Colombian paramilitary chief admitted from his prison cell on Friday that ultra-right death squads received money from multinationals in the banana-growing Urabá region in exchange for protection.

"It's no secret for anyone, especially in the Urabá zone, that the multinationals paid these monies via a middleman for a corporation in exchange for security," said the paramilitary, Fredy Rendón, alias El Alemán, speaking to a group of reporters authorized to visit the prison in Itagüí.

Rendón also considered that it unlikely that the United States would accept the extradition to Colombia of the executives of the companies who ordered the financing of the ultra-right groups, such as Chiquita Brand, which admitted to paying a fine for having delivered cash to the paramilitaries.

"Certainly we (the paramilitary chiefs) might be extradited to the United States, but those guys from Chiquita, no," he said.

Chiquita Brands admitted before a court in Washington that its Colombian subsidiary, Banadex, made more than 100 payments to the AUC ultra-right group, amounting to more than 1.7 million dollars, disguised as payments for security. In similar fashion, they collaborated in the importation of more than 3,000 AK-47s and millions of cartridges.

Fascism: it's all okay, as long as it's in the service of capitalism.

FTAA as the capitalists see it