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October 31, 2009

Don't let your Ewoks get into the Boo-tini

Their little metabolisms can't handle it, as you can see. (It makes them hump the dirt. Eeeeeek.)

Wankers of the Week: Happy Halloweenie edition

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Is that "tongue" for real? I dunno. But a lot of real fapping was going on this past week, and it sure as hell was scary, because the fappers are all flat-liners. Here they come, in no particular order...

1. Dana Fucking Perino. No, Moonunit Yappa didn't die with the Bushitministration. She's on FUX Snooze now, spouting stupidities (chief among them, lies about Chavecito). It's as if her old job never ended!

2. Fucking Reporters Without Borders. Reporters without SHAME would be more like it. How DO they gauge the degree of "press freedom" in a country? Apparently, only by how much they subjectively like whoever's in charge of it. How else to explain drivel like the following:

Certain would-be "great countries" deliberately behave in a manner that is brutal, unfair or just disturbing. The examples include Venezuela (113th), where President Hugo Chávez's personality and decrees are often crushing, and the Putin-Medvedev duo's Russia (141st), where state and opposition media are strictly controlled and journalists such as Anna Politkovskaya are killed each year by "unidentified" gunmen who often turn out to have close links with the Kremlin's security services.

Um, Venezuela is NOTHING like Russia. There is 100% press freedom there, so much so that the oppo media are STILL calling for Chavecito's head--something which would never be tolerated by the parliament or the PMO in top-20 ranking Canada! And of course, the fact that everything Chavecito proposes gets voted on there (or enjoys popular acclaim anyhow) never rates a mention. "Brutal, unfair or just disturbing" is a better characterization of RSF's shoddy "reporting" than it is of the situation in Venezuela.

3. Tim Fucking Russert. Gone, but not forgotten...especially not his pet obsession:

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...which is quite interesting and ironic when you consider that the late unlamented had no problem getting down before Dubya's open zipper and doing for him what Monica did for Bill.

4. Dick Fucking Cheney. My gawd, does Alan Grayson (my hero!) ever have his number. He sticks his neck out, all right. I just hope the Big Dick doesn't make a lunge for his jugulars anytime soon.

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5. Fucking Dubya. So he's "confident" that he "made the right decisions" in office, eh? Well, that makes one person. One person who left office with a rock-bottom popularity rating for reasons good. "Popularity is fleeting", he says, and he should know--when his wars blew up in his face, the popularity he took advantage of to push them through did, too. Fleeting. Yeah. Absolutely. Especially when you piss it away on stupidity. Now why can't he just shut the fuck up about it and never be heard from again? Is he hoping to make himself look more popular in retrospect?

6. Mark Fucking Sanford. Figures that a guy who makes shit up about hiking the Appalachian Trail would be "blown away" by the "philosophy" of Ayn Fucking Rand, who made all her shit up, period. Or that he'd claim to occupy some mythical middle ground between "love her" and "hate her" while praising her hallucinations to the heavens.

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7. And while we're on the subject of hallucinatory crap that appeared in NewsWEAK, how about that Mac Fucking Margolis? If putting public money to work financing movie studios qualifies as "dictatorship", Mac, you ought to come on up to Soviet Canuckistan and get acquainted with our National Film Board sometime. And then go back to whatever rock you crawled out from under, and write some more drivel about how we're a dictatorship up here. Or how be you just learn how to speak Spanish, read alternative news, and interview someone in Venezuela besides a bunch of people who keep losing elections because no one wants all the country's money to go to the already insanely rich while everyone else is dying of starvation? (PS: Venezuela knows about you, Mac...and what they have to say to your "journalism" is far from flattering!)

8. Ah-nie Fucking Schwarzenegger. Telling San Francisco to get fucked? What a way to treat a major port city, which brings in trade and needed tourist dollars to the state of California. Stay classy, Governator.

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9. Roland Fucking Corning. Look who else is out hiking the Appalacian Trail--with an 18-year-old "dancer" from the local "gentlemen's club". WTF is it in the water in South Carolina lately that's making all these Repugs act worse than horny goats on meth? Sorry, it's not the water. It's the fucking Viagra, combined with a midlife crisis and general Repugnican stupidity. Lethal mix!

10. Ian Fucking Kelly. The Cuba embargo is not dead yet, because someone hasn't driven a stake through the fat, black heart of the State Dept. Exactly who are THEY to dictate what constitutes "improved human rights", considering their lengthy track record of supporting--and oftentimes being--the planet's worst violators? Just so's ya know, Ian, you're a laughing-stock in Venezuela!

11. Melody Mir Fucking Jiménez. No, I did not know that Columbus came to the Americas in 1980. Did he travel by TARDIS, perchance? (Actually, I shouldn't rag Miss Spain too hard; a lot of her fellow beauty contestants had equally unintelligent answers about when the Americas were discovered. The correct answer, of course, is "No one knows exactly, but it sure as hell wasn't Columbus in 1492!")

12. and 13 Jorge Fucking Castañeda and Cesar Fucking Gaviria. Why do they hate elected leaders? Maybe because as vampires, they'd have trouble with the concept themselves.

And that's it for this week. Happy Halloweenies--and may all the wankers get their windows soaped!

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October 30, 2009

Festive Left Friday Blogging: So, about that "good left/bad left" thing...

...I'm sorry, what were you saying again, O ye chumps of the bizmedia and State Dept.?

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Looks to me like Chavecito and Lula are on the same page. Duh, maybe that's because they ARE? The latter was in Venezuela today, joining his big red buddy on a visit to a socialist development centre in Anzoátegui. The two also harvested soybeans together, as befits the leaders of two agrarian countries. And the entry of Venezuela into Mercosur is also a done deal, thanks to Lula.

Good left...bad left...one more artificial dichotomy bites the dust. They're BOTH of the left.

And blue-eyed whitey better not forget it.

Stupid Sex Tricks: Halloween...the naughtiest day of the year

Whose costume is more ill-advised--the girl with the built-in groper...

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...or Booby-Doo there in the background?

Economics for Bunnies: A little cautionary 'toon

Why the "incentive" system, also known as "carrot and stick", doesn't work--or at least, not quite as intended.

(And also why you should never mistreat your worker bunnies!)

October 28, 2009

The CIA is...WHAT?

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From the Old Grey Whore of New York, a head-scratching opening to a story that I thought ought to have been open and shut long ago...

Is the Central Intelligence Agency covering up some dark secret about the assassination of John F. Kennedy?

Probably not. But you would not know it from the C.I.A.'s behavior.

"Probably not" means oh yes, they are. If the CIA is acting suspiciously, be suspicious. Very suspicious. And don't cut your own lede out from under you with qualifiers, because the guy this story is telling us about sure wouldn't:

The agency's deception was first reported in 2001 by Jefferson Morley, who has doggedly pursued the files ever since, represented by James H. Lesar, a Washington lawyer specializing in Freedom of Information Act lawsuits.

"The C.I.A.'s conduct is maddening," said Mr. Morley, 51, a former Washington Post reporter and the author of a 2008 biography of a former C.I.A. station chief in Mexico.

After years of meticulous reporting on Mr. Joannides, who died at age 68 in 1990, he is convinced that there is more to learn.

"I know there's a story here," Mr. Morley said. "The confirmation is that the C.I.A. treats these documents as extremely sensitive."

The article notes early on that Jefferson Morley has "no use for conspiracy thinking". Yet even he thinks the CIA was conspiring, simply because of how it's acting. It's treating something supposedly insignificant as "extremely sensitive". Now why do you suppose that is?

Oh, only because the CIA has been one big conspiracy since the moment of its inception. Conspiracy is its business--it's a dead bust at gathering intelligence, so what else could it be for? And because it's hardly a secret that the "Company" was involved in the JFK assassination right up to its eyeballs, as anyone who's ever seen The Men Who Killed Kennedy can attest. Yet the NY Whore still plays dumb...

What motive could C.I.A. officials have to bury the details of Mr. Joannides's work for so long? Did C.I.A. officers or their Cuban contacts know more about Oswald than has been revealed? Or was the agency simply embarrassed by brushes with the future assassin -- like the Dallas F.B.I. officials who, after the assassination, destroyed a handwritten note Oswald had previously left for an F.B.I. agent?

Or has Mr. Morley spent a decade on a wild goose chase?

Clearly, the Whore would like us to believe the latter.

Of course, that could be because the NY Whore is itself infiltrated by the CIA. Has been for a long time, and will be until the day it bites the dust. Remember, Operation Mockingbird was never shut down. So of course, they still have an active interest in whitewashing the CIA's involvement in just about anything that points to it. And they're still using major newspapers to do it. How very respectable of them!

And if you really want to know the true role of AGENT Lee Harvey Oswald (that's what he really was!), who began his spook career in Naval Intelligence, was professionally trained in Russian by the US military itself, and tracked U-2 flights over Russia from Atsugi (a curious job for a supposedly avowed communist to have, no?), here ya go--a respected and respectable British documentary team has done your homework for you. Enjoy Episode 4 from the original Men Who Killed Kennedy series...also titled "The Patsy":

Jim Garrison was right--the whole "pro-Castro" thing was a sham. A "sheep-dipping" in which the CIA set Agent Oswald up to look like a communist and staged a street brawl between him and the same anti-Castro group it was financing in Miami to the tune of $50,000 a month, which was serious money in 1963. It was followed by a very phony radio "debate" between Oswald and his alleged assailants. This all was done so no one would question the contention that he was the "real" assassin, the guy who fired the single, magic bullet that went through both a president's head, and just about every part of the Governor of Texas, virtually unscathed and from the absolutely wrong direction--an account hotly disputed by eminent forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht, himself not exactly a conspiracy nutcase. Dr. Wecht happens to be one of the world's top forensic pathologists, with literally thousands of autopsies under his belt. He knows from extensive experience what bullets can and cannot do to human beings. He has stated that if the JFK murder were ever to go to a trial, it would be thrown out of court because the evidence had been botched so badly.

And that's not even touching on the witnesses. One who would never be called on to testify, because his words would be too incriminating, would be Col. Fletcher Prouty, who was "in that business" in Latin America during the 1950s and notes (also in The Men Who Killed Kennedy) that it was commonplace for the CIA, US military intelligence, etc., to hire assassins from local mafias to bump off political undesirables. How commonplace? There was actually a manual instructing local operatives to do just that.

As it turns out, the assassin hired by the CIA--or one of them, at any rate--was a Corsican mobster named Lucien Sarti, feared and hated even in the mafia for his recklessness and ruthlessness. The Corsican mob had lost millions in casino revenues when Fidel Castro shut down their interests in Cuba, so it stands to reason that they would jump at the chance to band together with a powerful and secretive organization like the CIA to assassinate Castro...or, failing that, a president who had reneged on his "promise" to oust him when the Bay of Pigs invasion flopped. Sarti was chosen because he was white, because he knew how to use disguises to blend in with the locals (he was dressed in a Dallas police uniform when he fired from the "Grassy Knoll"), and because he was about as professional and cold-blooded a killer you could ask for--he used frangible bullets, as evidenced by the way JFK's head blew up in the Zapruder film. (Karma got back at him for it about nine years later--Sarti was himself shot dead in Mexico City in 1972.) Here's a chilling close-up look at Sarti's part in the plot:

Independent writers and researchers have been on this story since the get-go. The witnesses have been literally dying to tell the truth, and they were shut out by the Warren Commission, the US government, and God only knows who all else. They were also shut out by the "respectable" mainstream media. Guess why.

If you believe the official whitewash and scoff at the "conspiracy theories", congratulations. You're an idiot, and the NY Whore would love to keep you that way. That's why it's doing such a half-assed job of reporting on the work of a real journalist struggling to get to the bottom of the matter. That's why it's treating this latest researcher so dismissively. It wants you to think that everyone still investigating a "case closed" is some kind of nutter.

I, however, would like to see you educate yourself. That's why I put this up here. Go on, now, and do your own homework. And ignore that whore on the streetcorner, lifting her skirt and flashing her panties at you. She's got nothing to sell you but the same old crap.

Uruguay: Lacalle loses, but...

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Pedro Bordaberry, the OTHER right-wing bastard in Uruguay's recent presidential campaign. Would you want this son of a dictator on your side, if you were going to a second round?

Thanks to my friend Anthony, a.k.a. Malmö Blue, for alerting me to this disgusting story in Uruguay's El Pais:

The leader of Vamos Uruguay, Pedro Bordaberry, explained today that given the conditions in Parliament, the best thing would be for the next president to be Luis Alberto Lacalle: "This forces us to think, for the sake of responsibility. I'm not talking about a 'Pink Party' or of the 'bogeyman' of the Broad Front. The country comes first."

In an interview given to the radio station El Espectador, Bordaberry spoke of his fear that if the elections result in a win for José Mujica, it would mean a majority of Parliament and the Executive Power in his hands.

Bordaberry said the situation worries him even more because Mujica is "the most voted-for man in his party and his spouse, after Astori [his running mate], is the third." This means that all the power would be in Mujica's hands.

"Is it good for any one person to have all the power in the country? I don't believe so. Thomas Jefferson said, in the name of Monticello, that the history of democracy is the history of the limitation of power."

Translation mine.

The "Pink Party" he's referring to is a mixture of Blancos ("Whites") and Colorados ("Reds"), the two old parties. Blancos are more conservative and Colorados traditionally more liberal, but as I noted earlier, they're all oligarchs; it's a question of degree, not kind. In the end, the oligarchs all like to band together, as it appears they're about to do. (The one hand washes the other, as my German mom would say.) Bordaberry is officially throwing his support behind a man who, under the old system, would be his bitterest opponent, but who is now a bed-buddy since the Broad Front has grown to full stature and monkey-wrenched the whole thing!

What's really disgusting about this slick and treacherous move, however, is Bordaberry's past. This is not just any Blanco politician; Bordaberry's dad was once the military dictator of Uruguay, and a prosecutor is calling for 30 years' imprisonment for the old man, on the grounds of human rights violations. Which Lacalle, the man he's supporting, minimizes. Funny dat!

And funnier still it is that someone whose own father enjoyed a taste of unlimited power for so many years, is suddenly taking leaves from the book of Thomas Jefferson. I wonder what the man so "honored" would say to that!

I may never know what Jefferson would say, but I know what I can say to all this: it's going to go with the Blancos and Colorados the way it did with Acción Democrática and COPEI in Venezuela. This move is so going to discredit both parties that they will be reduced to rump status, as AD and COPEI have been since Chavecito was elected.

Back in '98, the Venezuelan oppos, who were then the ruling class, had what they thought was a surefire winner--a former Miss Venezuela and Miss Universe, Irene Sáez. She ran under her own banner, but COPEI, thinking she could drag it back into power on her then-considerable coattails, threw its support behind her--and overnight, her popularity evaporated. It was, as Venezuela expert Richard Gott called it, "a poisoned chalice". It also didn't help that Miss Universe was still talking too much like a beauty contestant, in sugary platitudes and silly generalities, while Chavecito was talking like a smart politician, in particulars such as constitutional reform and a radical, long-hoped-for change for Venezuela!

Obviously, the Uruguayan oligarchy can smell what the old Tupamaro has got cooking. They fear he's another Chávez; who knows, maybe he is! More immediately worrisome, as Bordaberry's words above indicate, is that he's popular. That's one clear point in common with the 'Cito right there. It's his popularity, not some Jeffersonian bastard drivel about unlimited power (srsly, who has it nowadays?) that they really fear.

Bordaberry is the poison in the Uruguayan chalice, and I rather hope his stupidities end up throwing the race to Mujica, who should be the winner already.

FUX Snooze: Rachel Maddow spells it all out...

...loud and clear.

October 27, 2009

Another day, another (political) death in Colombia

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The body of another murdered Colombian leftist, outside his home. Still think Colombia is a model democracy? Then explain this to me...

Jaime López Barros, leader of the Alternative Democratic Pole party in the Atlántico region of Colombia, was assassinated just 50 metres away from his home in the northern part of the city of Barranquilla.

The 53-year-old fell victim to a bullet fired as he was nearing his home early yesterday morning, after dropping off his daughter at school. Immediately after the shooting, López was transferred to the Barranquilla general hospital, where he died a few minutes later.

Political directors of his party, Alfonso Camerano Fuentes and Máximo Noriega, referred to the incident as a political crime and assured that they would not be ruling out the possibility that it had to do with political debates López was about to have against the government of Alvaro Uribe.

Translation mine.

Of course, real democratic leaders don't go around having their outspoken opponents whacked. Mafia leaders do. El Narco does. Therefore...connect the dots, kiddies.

Yep, Goldilocks was a spy, all right...

...and leave it to Silverfox to suss Goldilocks out:

The Bolivian vice-president, Alvaro García Linera, confirmed that the recent nomination of the former US ambassador to Bolivia, Philip Goldberg, as intelligence undersecretary in his country, is proof that his stay in Bolivia had conspiratorial purposes.

"We can confirm that we were facing an extremely dangerous person, whose task here had nothing to do with diplomacy, but with conspiracies and spying," said García, in a press conference with local media on Tuesday.

García added that the nomination of Goldberg to this new post is proof that the decision taken to expel him from Bolivia in 2008 was the correct one. At that time, the government of Evo Morales declared Goldberg to be persona non grata, accused him of conspiring against Bolivian institutions, and ordered him to leave the country in September of that year.

Translation mine.

Of course, none of this should come as any surprise to those who've followed this blog. Remember this infamous photo?

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That's Goldilocks on the right, in this grainy nighttime image shot by a Bolivian TV crew, hanging out with Rubén Costas, oppo douchebag extraordinaire. Why he would secretly meet with the oppos, while shunning the president, was apparently no mystery after all. Would you shake hands with a man you were hoping to depose--or get killed?

Evo's not dumb, he knows scum when he smells it. And he made a very smart decision to get at least one (now proven) scumbag the hell out of his country.

Ti-Jean tells it like it is

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Actually, I call shenanigans* on dis--the lol-maker forgot to put de h'apostrophes on all de haitch-words, h'as Ti-Jean would.

(Everything else, 'owever, h'is correct!)

*Or should dat be "Shawinigans"?

Honduras: two mysterious murders, this time from the other side

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The bodies of Enzo Micheletti and Samir Gavarrete, found near Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

Strange news, via Aporrea:

A nephew of the de facto president of Honduras, Roberto Micheletti, and a colonel of the armed forces were shot dead in two separate instances, presumably by common criminals, according to the National Police. Both corpses were found in advanced states of decomposition.

Enzo Micheletti, who disappeared on Friday, was found dead on Sunday along with another young man, in a wooded sector near Choloma, north of Tegucigalpa. His hands were tied behind his back, "evidently execution style", according to the regional co-ordinator of the Public Ministry, Rafael Fletes.

Police spokesman Orlin Cerrato said that despite various theories, they could not connect the killing to the political crisis currently gripping the Central American country.

"The bodies were found on Saturday night, but could not be identified until Sunday. The young man with Enzo Micheletti was identified as Samir Gavarrete," said Cerrato.

The victim, 25, was the son of Antonio Micheletti, the late brother of the de facto president. He was identified by family members.

In another case, Colonel Concepción Jiménez, manager of the Military Industries, was assassinated by persons unknown in front of his house in Los Robles, south of Tegucigalpa.

The commissar indicated that "Jiménez was in front of his house, and some individuals got out of a taxi and shot him." He added that the suspects are "three or four young people." Jiménez died in the military hospital in Tegucigalpa, after receiving a shot to the back.

Cerrato says that both crimes are being treated as "common crimes", but the investigations continue.

Translation mine.

I don't know about you, but the execution-style murder of the dictator's nephew, and the assassination of a colonel who happens to manage a military industry, don't sound terribly common to me. Let's not forget that the military was responsible for Gorilletti's assumption of power. And the swift disappearance of the killers sounds to me like this was a paid hit. Likewise, the execution of Enzo Micheletti.

The real question is, who paid?

October 26, 2009

Stupid Sex Tricks: How NOT to get a date with a hot cop

'nuff said.

Uruguay: Pepe Mujica wins, but...

...something still smells like the same old, same old all over again:

The candidate for the Broad Front, who won 47% of the votes yesterday but could not become president and must now fight a second round, criticized the elections system in his country, where a candidate has to win fifty percent of the vote, plus one, in order to win. "We have to go on struggling," Mujica said.

In an interview with Radio 10, Mujica said that "in some parts of the world, a party with 47% wins the elections, but in Uruguay, no."

Mujica considers that "we have a right-wing bloc divided into two parties who help each other when the chips are down."

Translation mine:

Ah yes, the old Blanco/Colorado oligarchy, that's governed Uruguay for almost as long as there have been elections in that land. That's what he's referring to, and undoubtedly it's true. When the same two parties keep swapping rule but nothing really changes, you know you're dealing with a duopoly. And when the duopoly gives way to a military dictatorship, as it did during the 1970s, you know that it was a farce all along.

José "Pepe" Mujica, who fought against both the duopoly and the dictatorship at various times during his Tupamaro days, undoubtedly knows this well-scripted farce by heart. He may be 74 and look like a nice old grandfather now, but he hasn't forgotten what he took up arms against when he was a young man. While the weapon has changed (it's now ballots, not bullets), the struggle has not.

And he notes, quite rightly, that second rounds are not necessary everywhere; right here in Canada, the latest government took much less than 47% of the ballots in the last two elections. Harpo would kill for anything approaching Pepe's degree of popularity, probably because it would give him carte blanche to ram through something utterly unpopular (such as this) over the loud objections of a very clear majority of Canadians! All that's holding him back is that he hasn't got a majority of 50%, much less 50 + 1. And while we're not a duopoly to the extent that Uruguay for the longest time was, we're not far from it, either; we've got a long-time farce of Liberal vs. Conservative swapping going on, although it's acrimonious rather than buddy-buddy as in Uruguay. Still, at times it's hard to tell which is which, and that's never good.

But one thing we don't have, which Uruguay does, is that burden of the need for a clear majority in order to form a government. It's a burden which stacks the deck in favor of established parties, and makes it harder for a leftist coalition like the Frente Amplio (Mujica's party, or more accurately, parties) to gain a foothold--not that a first-past-the-post system necessarily makes anything easier, as we up here know only too well. Either system clearly favors the oligarchs, and unless a leftist with true mass appeal breaks out in a big way, as in Venezuela and Bolivia, well--we're stuck.

Meanwhile, in Uruguay, a second round--totally unnecessary, except for keeping up appearances (and tensions) will go down on November 29. It's practically a foregone conclusion that Pepe Mujica will win, because his opponent is a truly loathsome old oligarch and an apologist for the dictatorship. But it's not a "clear majority", so the very farce that Pepe fought against as a young man is perpetuating itself--and inadvertently proving that he was right all along.

Ironically, had he moved further to the left, instead of trying to make a play for the "mushy middle" (which always goes to the conservatives, when all's said, out of cowardice), he might have gotten the outright majority and then some on the first round, as Chavecito did in Venezuela, ten years ago. Venezuela was deeply embroiled in a long-term crisis, starting in the mid-1980s. Uruguay isn't there yet. But if the global economic crisis deepens, as I suspect it will, and foreign investments end up sacking it as they have in the past, we may well see a shift at last. And then perhaps Pepe Mujica may have to reconsider his "reformist" tendencies and become a real revolutionary once more. And then we may end up seeing some truly hilarious backpedalling from people like the morons at the Wall Street Urinal, who felt the need to recast Mujica--obviously no neoliberal--in the most capitalist-friendly light possible, just to keep up the artificial dichotomy between the "good" left and the "bad". Which, if the video below has anything to say, is a farce, too:

Mujica, far from wanting to distance himself from Chavecito, wants to learn more from him. Can you blame the man? Nothing succeeds like success, and Chavecito knows it well. You can bet he'll be helping Mujica steer a better path after the 29th of next month. And when he does, it will throw a puck in the Wall Street Urinal--and any other media cloaca that burbles happy horseshit about how neoliberalism is poised to make a comeback.

October 25, 2009

Music for a Sunday: Everybody need reverse polarity

The first Rush song I ever heard* wasn't this one, but it was on the same album. Moving Pictures yields a number of gems that I can't imagine why they were never released as singles; probably for the reason that there'd have been no B-sides left if they did! (Vinyl...sob...how I miss it!)

Fortunately, they play this one a lot in concert, and they have a lot of good concert videos out. So now you can get the mood lifter. Soft filter. Evelate from the norm. (Yes, that's a deliberate blooper--a quirk that became so popular that they left it in and even perform it live every time!)

*For those who care, it was "Limelight". It grabbed my 13-year-old attention for two reasons: lyrics that, refreshingly, had nothing to do with "baby baby baby", and the fact that here was a dude with a kick-ass name, who sang in my exact vocal range. Still does, too!

October 24, 2009

Wankers of the Week: Early Halloweenies edition

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Yes, kiddies, Halloween is still a week away...but it's none too soon to be scared--or just grossed out, as the case may be--by these evil, undead wankers:

1. Alvaro Fucking Vargas Llosa. Someone please tell him that BoRev and I drove a stake through the whole "Valijagate" story long ago. That corpse, hit be stankin'.

2. T. Boone Fucking Pickens. That oil you only think you're "entitled" to? Guess whose taxes are paying for the war that never won you that non-entitlement. And just imagine, you coulda had universal single-payer healthcare instead! What a pity you didn't listen to Commie Pinko Ike Eisenhower when he explained it all...

And oh yeah, your oil coulda been cheaper, too. War raises the price of oil, you myopic fucking wanker!

3. Jan Fucking Harder. Local politics in our nation's capital don't interest me all that much (it's a municipal thing!), but this one pipped my radar because this Conservative is, in her own words, a "friggin' yahoo" and thus "less than desirable" in Canadian politics on a federal level. Oddly, the local yahoos in Barrhaven certainly seem to like her--probably because she confines herself to truly trivial issues, such as net-nannying the computers at the local library, and eating up the taxpayers' money over a stupid coat of arms, while making an ass of herself on all things that might, conceivably, improve life for the locals, such as expanded rail service to rural areas. Oh yeah, and she's also a racist--to the point where THESE friggin' yahoos were urging support for her. Yep, "support" from Nazis all over the world. Always a nice thing to have going on up here, no? But hey, I hear hosting a charity golf tourney is a great way to cover a multitude of sins!

4. Brian Fucking Griffiths. Neoliberal capitalism is another monster from the 1980s that simply refuses to die, even though it's staggering all over the streets of London, stinking and losing limbs, and moaning gibberish like this:

"We have to tolerate the inequality as a way to achieve greater prosperity and opportunity for all."

Whaaaaa?

Inequality leads to greater prosperity? In what strange parallel universe does a widening wealth gap, with all the desperation that that implies, lead to "greater opportunity"? Opportunity for what--slavery? Sales of kidneys? Or just more fucking wankerdom from those who've got theirs and are damned if they're letting anything trickle down but piss and jizzum? (Thanks to RickB for catching this one.)

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5. Whoever the fuck is in charge at the Canadian Blog Awards. No feminist category? Dude, you are so fucking lame. Consider this pointless contest duly boycotted!

6. Nick Fucking Griffin. British racist partyleader points the finger at Obama. Guess what he accuses him of?

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7. The Fucking Beeb is jam-packed with wankers, too. See above, and add this and this.

8. Gregory Fucking Rideout. I'm sorry, but I cannot call this man a judge. If he can't tell the difference between a vicious, drug-assisted sexual assault and "rough play", he's not fit to occupy any bench...except the one outside the principal's office, where the bad kids used to get sent to await the strap, back in the day.

9. Eric Fucking Hunt. You may be legally entitled to believe whatever bullshit you like, but you're not legally entitled to your own facts, nor are you entitled to sue anyone whose facts prove you to be a dumbass, Nazi-boy. Now take your meds and stop harassing people. (What do you bet it's him as "blithe", and a couple of other holocaust-deniers, doing it here?)

10. Bernie Fucking Kerik. Oh, how the mighty have fallen! And believe it or not, this full-of-himself sack-o-shit still has a ways to go...like all the way to a federal penitentiary.

11. Fucking Dubya. They burned his effigy outside the Montreal hotel where the Warmonger Preznit spoke this week, and no wonder: It's the same place where John Lennon once held his bed-in for peace. SACRILEGE!!!

And finally, to Larry Klayman's little ass-barnacle in New York, one "Fran and the City" (at least that's what her Gmail account sez. Like everything else of hers, it makes very little if any sense.) Fran, honey, I hate to break it to you so rudely, but you're just so wrong on every point, and shrieking at me like a deranged fruit-bat in ALL CAPS won't help. Just as I predicted in the entry you so courteously shat upon, Larry lost. Thanks for playing ideological strip poker. Now here's a silver bullet for all your trouble...

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Why Chavecito isn't worried

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(Just so's ya know, the above is a photoshop. That's not Chavecito's body, and those lily-white paws are definitely not his hands!)

What...him worry? Nahhhh. Why not? Hmmmm...maybe it's because the big handsome guy has nothing to worry about, and he knows it?

The president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, today dismissed the results of surveys which show a supposed drop in his popularity over the last few months and asserted that he would win re-election in the 2012 elections.

During an official ceremony, the president said that "they (the opposition) have already begun; they're fighting a lot, for sure. Of course, they want to be deputies now, and many want to be presidents, so they go around telling stories, and now they're saying they'll win out over Chávez in 2012."

Chávez dismissed the findings of the opposition's polling firms, which claimed that between August and October, the popularity of the Venezuelan government dropped nearly 20 points, from 60 to 42% approval, due to the citizenry's rejection of socialist measures.

The head of state laughed at the "party" the opposition threw over certain opinion polls which claimed that his popularity had dropped over the last two months.

"They're already campaigning, and they say I'm campaigning. Fine, it's true, my campaign never ends. I began on February 4, 1992 (with the failed uprising against the government of Carlos Andés Pérez) and I'll end it on the day they bury me," Chávez said.

The president bases his confidence that he will be elected to a third term on the fact that while the opposition is supported by capitalists and the wealthy, his government is bringing in socialism "which frees the people, the majorities, from slavery."

Translation mine.

Chavecito isn't worrying for other reasons, too. A key one being the fact that the survey firms he's referring to have the oppos' stinkum all over them:

"Alfredo Keller & Associates and Hinterlaces are briefcase-toting enterprises, totally disreputable, and a laughing-stock for the vulgar manipulation they've committed about Venezuelan political reality for the last 10 years in the interests of the US State Department."

So says Carlos Sierra, co-ordinator of mobilizations and events in Caracas for the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), adding that the said survey firms should be investigated by legal authorities.

"These private companies that take opinion polls in the Caracas Country Club district, should be held responsible before the Venezuelan justice system, and explain where they get these numbers whose purpose is to deceive the population--an objective they keep achieving with less frequency every time," Sierra said.

These companies blatantly violate the constitution of the republic, Sierra asserts, and for this reason, the PSUV is calling on the Prosecutor-General and the National Assembly to open a legal investigation into their activities.

"in contrast to what these companies announced in their latest manipulations, the popularity of Chávez is holding steady around 60%, according to the Venezuelan Institute of Data Analysis (IVAD), Encuestadora Siglo XXI, and even Datanálisis, which is linked to the opposition sectors," Sierra said.

IVAD and Datanálisis emphasized, in their latest opinion polls, published in September, levels of 57.9% and 57.3% support, respectively, for the leadership of president Hugo Chávez Frías.

Hinterlaces and Alfredo Keller forget that the president's leadership rests on revolutionary governance, expressed in socio-economic programs aimed at improving the lot of millions of Venezuelans who were marginalized by neoliberal politics, the same which these firms defend, Sierra says.

"Not for nothing is the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela among the first five countries on the planet with the highest rate of sustained growth, according to the United Nations," Sierra recalls. He is referring to Venezuela's Human Development Index, which has grown in a sustained manner since 2003, despite hardships caused by certain opposition actions, such as the coup d'état of 2002 and the petroleum-industry sabotage of 2002-3.

In the Human Development Index, which takes into account levels of education, health and economic growth, Venezuela now occupies the 58th highest position worldwide. In Latin America, it lags behind only Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Cuba.

The figures of the UN and Datanálisis "are a clear expression of the policies implemented by the National Executive, which have a favorable impact on the Venezuelan population, especially the most vulnerable sectors."

Again, translation mio.

When you're well armed with the true facts, you're pretty well disinclined to give much credit to bullshit. Human Development Indices (and dramatically improved nutrition levels) are pretty damn hard to argue against. So's the fact that Venezuela recently made the UNESCO Executive Council--kind of a hard thing to do if you're not progressing substantially and democratically!

On the other hand, accusations around discredited Argentine nuclear scientists are easy to laugh off--and you can see Chavecito do it here. Albeit, alas, only in Spanish. But check out his face, tone of voice and body language anyhow--he clearly thinks the accusations surrounding this Macaroni 'n' Cheeze dude are hilarious, and so do I. It's like accusing Canada of being in the nuclear arms race just because we build CANDU reactors, fergawdsakes. (CANDUs generate electricity, not weapons-grade plutonium. BTW, let's give Bloomberg a hearty round of applause for getting this story right.)

No, Chavecito's not the least bit worried. He's laughing, and why not? He's got, as usual, plenty to laugh about. The oppos are in their customary state of disarray, and the only way they have of shoring up their discredited parties and platforms is to resort to lies, rumor-mongering, false accusations, lies, lies, more lies, and oh yeah, did I mention damn lies...and statistics?

October 23, 2009

Unloaded, you say?

Whoa! Careful there, big fella. And next time, double check before you wave that thing around!

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Finally, El Ecuadorable has taken my advice...

...and gotten himself one of those groovy jackets with the aguayo inserts, like Evo wears:

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Très chic.

Now, if only NORTH American guys could get their closets together so nicely!

PS: Speaking of getting it together, Evo and China have just signed a memo of understanding for the building of the Tupac Katari satellite. WooHOO, it's a go!

Teh Heterostoopid: Stop him before he spawns again!

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More proof, in case anyone needed it, that some people just should not reproduce.

The final nail in the birthers' coffin

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Definitive proof that he was born in Hawaii.

Hang loose, moondoggie!

October 22, 2009

Woe Blight and the Seven Dorks

This is, obviously, a short story à clef.

Once upon a time (the present), there was (is) a little red-headed Canadian princess (ahem--QUEEN!), who lived (lives) on the north shore of Lake Ontario and swore (swears!) she could see across it to Western New York on a clear day.

Well, just today, this little princess, or queen, or whatever, woke up feeling fine. Nothing wrong, which is funny because she has had rheumatism ever since she was hit by a car at 14, which was neveryoumind how many years ago, and ever since then she has been prone to joint and muscle pains on cold, damp autumnal days like today. Especially first thing upon waking. So let's just call her Woe Blight, because really, you have no idea how much of a woe and a blight such a condition can be unless you've lived with it since you were a teenager, okay?

Anyhow: Woe Blight woke up, for once, feeling less woeful and blighted by her chronic condition. Which surprised and pleased her, and which she ascribed to having worked out the night before, right before bed. (She lifts weights. Her arms look almost as good as Michelle Obama's by now. By next summer, she should have some spectacular guns.)

Unfortunately, Woe Blight's well-being was not to last. By the time she had prepared her humble lunch (bacon-and-zucchini quiche, which real men DO eat--just ask Woe's grumpy old German dad!), Woe was feeling more than a little under the cold, damp, drizzly weather. She was feeling nauseated and dizzy, and suspected she was running a temperature.

Still, being a cheerfully persistent and ever optimistic little thing, Woe Blight figured her problem was probably hunger. So she downed two tablespoons of Angostura, ate a hearty wedge of zucchini quiche, washed it down with a bottle of Moosehead.

Unfortunately, that didn't do the trick. If anything, she was feeling even worse; the nausea had spread to her chest, which felt tight and congested. So, still optimistic, Woe Blight then went out to roam the hills of her colorful little county, determined to see if a bit of fresh air couldn't cure whatever the hell was ailing her.

Well, it couldn't.

By the time she was halfway up the road to the woods, Woe was feeling every bit as woeful as she'd ever been in her life. She was hugging the shoulder and clutching her umbrella, wondering at every step whether this would be the moment when she lurched into the hawthorn bushes across the ditch and lost every last bite and swallow of quiche and Moosehead to the demon that was ransacking her little belly. (She would have blamed a poison apple, but Woe's parents are happily married for lo these past neveryoumind how many years, there is no wicked stepmother, and besides, Woe is fed up to the eyeballs with perfectly wholesome apples, living as she does among endless Ontario orchards.)

Well, about this time, somewhere between the train tracks, a cedar swamp, the hawthorn bushes, and a very surprised herd of Charolais cattle, Woe Blight met the Seven Dorks.

Their names were Grok, Woozy, Hinky, Murky, Pukey, Feverish, and of course, Dopey. They advised her to stop roaming around the hills like a maniac, and promptly get her little white butt back up the road, across the train tracks, and into her humble cottage, where the bottle of Angostura was patiently waiting on the kitchen shelf.

Now, Woe Blight usually doesn't take advice from dorks. But she knew enough to know that she was in no condition to argue. The cold felt colder and the wet felt wetter, and her innards were fast turning into a messy, curdly soup. So she got her cute little butt back home and onto the trusty cot in her toasty warm study. She slept there for the better part of the afternoon and woke up, still plagued by the Seven Dorks.

The Itty-Bitty Shitty Committee, as she had by now taken to calling them, were still there when she ate supper, and they did their level best to make the tasty quiche seem rancid and her evening tea, insipid and cloying. A couple hours later, the Angostura needed reinforcements, and Woe Blight got out her trusty angelica tincture, a true rotgut which tastes so horrible that it makes one forget, at least for a little while, whatever it is that's ailing one. Even diluted one-to-three in water, it's scary shit; it turns the water grey-green and cloudy, like a pastis gone terribly wrong. If absinthe is la fée verte, this stuff is la fée morte. But it is, or is supposed to be, a sovereign remedy for gut bugs, according to her trusty herbal guidebook, so Woe poured herself a couple of fingers of it, then topped up the glass with cold filtered water, and downed the swamp soup, cringing at every evil-tasting mouthful.

Well, apparently the scary shit is good for something, because Woe is typing her fingers to the bone and feeling no pain. Wish her luck for the morrow, kiddies, she suspects she's gonna need it...and she really hopes not to have to drink any more angelica tonight.

EDIT, the next morning: Holy moly!!!

This one won't be running off to Peru for asylum...

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Venezuelans carry the body of a comrade during the Caracazo. Caracas, Venezuela, late February-early March, 1989.

...because he's one of those responsible for an old massacre, and the people of Venezuela are anxious to see him brought to justice at home:

The public ministry has issued an order preventing a retired general of the National Guard, José Rafael León Orsoni, from leaving the country, and requiring him to appear before a court of law for his suspected responsibility for incidents that took place during the Caracazo of February 27-28 and early March, 1989.

León Orsoni is required to appear every 30 days before Tribunal #32, Caracas. He was indicted on October 2 as an accomplice to homicide and for breaking international pacts and conventions signed by Venezuela.

As well, on October 14, a trial began against two members of the Metropolitan Caracas Police, Jorge Giménez and Pedro Miguel Blanco Belmont, accused by fellow officers of being responsible for the killing of Luis Manuel Colmenares, on March 7, 1989, during the Caracazo.

Their case was appealed in June 2004, and the Caracas Court of Appeals struck down the earlier decision. For this reason, a new trial against the two has been ordered in order to obtain an absolute sentence.

Translation mine.

Here's a half-hour of history (in Spanish) to remind you of why it matters that all the villains of the Caracazo be brought to justice, and permanently:

Justice is slow in coming (where do the wheels of justice ever NOT turn slowly?), but under Chavecito, it's happening more and more often.

Meanwhile, the people won't ever forget.

I know, they're only rock 'n' roll...

...but I like them, like them, yes I do...

This just landed in my inbox from the National Security Archive listserv:

Washington, DC, October 22, 2009 - On behalf of a coalition of U.S. and international musicians, including R.E.M., Pearl Jam, Tom Morello and Jackson Browne, the National Security Archive today filed a series of FOIA petitions requesting the full declassification of secret U.S. documentation on the strategy of using music as an interrogation device at Guantanamo and other detention centers.

The Archive also posted several declassified documents and published reports that refer to the use of "loud" music to "create futility" in uncooperative detainees at Guantanamo. A 2004 Defense Department report on abuses at the military base in Cuba, for example, stated that the "futility technique included the playing of Metallica, Britney Spears and Rap music."

Archive analysts filed the FOIA requests with the CIA, U.S. Special Operations Command, and the FBI, among other agencies, requesting all documentation pertaining to how the music was chosen and the specific role it played in interrogations of detainees at the Guantanamo base.

"At Guantanamo, the U.S. government turned a jukebox into an instrument of torture," said Thomas Blanton, the Archive's executive director. "The musicians and the public have the right to know how an expression of popular culture was transformed into an enhanced interrogation technique."

No word from Brit-Brit on whether she authorized the use of her music as torture (or if she approves of that kind of airplay.) But I can well believe that it IS a torture, because I always cringe when I hear it, at any volume.

The others, on the other hand, who object to their use of their work for such purposes, are real musicians and deserve a lot more respect.

You can find the press release here, and join the National Security Archive's listserv here, if you're so minded.

PS: They've also got a blog! 'Rolled!

Police brutality against indigenous Mapuches in Chile

Shocking video, showing the carabineros kicking a young indigenous man in the head. Story by Aporrea:

Before the doors of the Commissary of Ercilla in Wallmapu, the press recorded a brutal beating by military police (carabineros) of a young Mapuche, Carlos Curiñao, a beating which stopped only when other police shouted that the press was there and they were being recorded.

The youth was at the station along with his father, Juan Carlos Curiñao, to ask about the detention of one of the leaders of the community of Temucuicui, Juan Catrillanca, among others who were arrested in raids last weekend.

Faced with the evidence of the recording, made public on Tuesday, the general-chief of the Araucania zone, Eros Negrón, confirmed that the carabinero who was most active in the beating has been sacked.

Translatione mine.

Just one more in a long line of human rights violations by police in Chile. Some of them apparently forget that the age of Pinochet is long over. Some of them have trouble remembering that the conquistadors are dead!

October 21, 2009

OMG, they really think Michael Moore was serious!

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Teh Stoopid! It BURNS!!!

Well, this is par for the course at El Luniversal, since they never fact-check a goddamned thing they write anyway (and neither does the AP, which inhabits the same building.) They also have no sense of humor, and their hatred for all things Chavecito would blind them to what the rest of us can see is an obvious joke.

But really, Eva Golinger, I expected better of you, because I know you're smarter than that. Have you been living out of the US so long that you've forgotten Michael Moore's ironic sense of humor, which he turns quite mercilessly on his own country? (And Franz Lee, that goes for you, too. Lighten up, comrade!)

Fortunately, someone at Complutense University in Madrid gets the joke. I'll let Juan Carlos Monedero explain it to you:

Michael Moore, Nasty Liar

Dear friends:

I've been watching the video in which Michael Moore supposedly disrespects President Chávez and lies repeatedly about him to sully the revolution. How is he a traitor? How the strategy of the opposition has caused us to lose perspective. It's all a big joke. What happened to the irony?

Let's look at this with some tranquility. What was Moore doing in that interview before the viewers of that program? He was laughing at North Americans and their gringo stereotype of the president and all Latin Americans, not at President Chávez and the Venezuelan people! It's just a joke.

Moore is on board with what's happening in Latin America, but his public persona is precisely that: a guy who seems not to know much about anything, constantly telling jokes and pointing out ironies. If we damn him to hell or think he's a liar, it's because we don't understand what he's trying to say! I reiterate: Let's not let the constant lies of the opposition cause us to lose sight of when someone is being serious, and when he is joking.

It's abundantly clear that what he's saying, from the get-go, is just one big leg-pull. He points out Foreign Minister Maduro and says he's a bodyguard! It's obvious that he doesn't want to look like an imbecile who confuses Maduro with one of the security men.

On the other hand, what does the Empire think of Latin America? (1) That all its inhabitants are the same, whatever country they are from and whatever ethnic group they happen to be; (2) that all of them are not only alike, they are like the Mexicans; (3) that the Mexicans, the prototype of all Latin Americans, are people who make noise at all hours (especially in the night and in hotels where honored gringos are trying to rest below them) and that they all drink tequila. That's the joke which Moore repeats in the interview! If we take it as real, we're falling for the same cliché that Moore is laughing at!

Revolutions have to be able to laugh at themselves.

Translation mine.

I don't know about you, but I love to laugh. There's plenty of humor and irony in the Bolivarian Revolution, and while I'm totally down with it, that doesn't mean I can't giggle over goofy pictures of Chavecito doing something wacky and silly. He's often funny on purpose; he's not, in fact, the buffoon the oppos make him out to be. (Real buffoons are funny only by accident--as many of Chavecito's predecessors and opponents definitely are.) I take his serious deeds seriously, and his funny deeds in the spirit they were intended.

Same goes for Michael Moore. The man sticks a whoopee cushion under every pompous ass he meets, the better to get us thinking seriously about what we need to do. In other words: Just like Chavecito! I absolutely loved it that they got together in Venice and had a good chat. I figured they were two peas in a pod for having serious minds and light hearts. It did my heart good to see them getting along famously, as I knew they would.

And I bet Chavecito gets this joke, too. Let's see if and when he weighs in. I bet he'll be chuckling. (Anyone wanna lose some money betting against me? A quick hundred or two?)

So what's the punchline of this joke? Simple: The oppos got punked...again. By none other than the gringo they were hoping to co-opt.

What's less funny is that some serious good people still don't seem to get it. Once more, with feeling:

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See? It's okay to laugh. Go on now...giggle. You know you wanna.

Quotable: Barbara Ehrenreich on the problem of "positive thinking"

"One of the major sources of misery in the world is poverty. We can do one of two things. We can tell poor people they need to change their attitudes, and there's a whole industry of that kind of thing -- motivational speakers that tell people to get over their bad attitudes towards wealth so it will just come to them.

Or we can say, 'What's the cause of this? How are we going to get together and do something about it?' And I come down on that side."

--Barbara Ehrenreich, at Alternet

Dang, I'm GOOD.

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Remember how I predicted the Paliness was headed for the remainder bin even before her book is due out?

Well, it's already underway:

Former governor Sarah Palin completed her memoir in four months. She knew what she wanted to say, apparently, and had Lynn Vincent, a senior writer for the Christian publication World Magazine, bang it out. The book is due November 17 and is originally listed at $28.99 at Amazon, except that it's already available at a cut-rate discount: Going Rogue is priced-to-sell at a mere $9- that's for a hardcover due out in three weeks. Which raises the question: How many bestseller lists can the book top before it's printed?

Actually, it raises another, far more pertinent (and probably rhetorical) question: Will it earn out its advance?

BTW, there's a screen-grab from Amazon at the site. Go see it before Going, Going, Gone is down to a quarter (or less) of its MSR price, instead of the third where it currently sits.

And when you're ready for some real laughs, click here.

And don't say I didn't tell you so!

More fun with Wikileaks: British Nazis also get popped

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Hey, y'know, I could almost like this Wikileaks thing (anti-Chavecito stupidities aside, of course). Sometimes they actually end up doing the public a useful service:

A detailed membership list of the British National party containing names, addresses and telephone numbers was published on the internet this morning.

The list, which contains thousands of names, was published on Wikileaks, a website that purports to be a clearing house for information to be published anonymously.

The source of the data remains unclear but it appears to show details of the BNP's members and supporters at 15 April this year, as well as data about members whose subscriptions to the party had lapsed.

A Guardian analysis of the data suggests the BNP had 11,811 members as of April, including several doctors and military personnel. The party appears to have benefited from a surge in female recruits, with one in eight party members now women.

Only one in eight a female. Well, that tells you a little something about the gender/fascism link, eh?

Speaking of rare birds, I found the last paragraph hilarious:

In December 2006, an undercover investigation by the Guardian revealed that the organisation's members included Simone Clarke, then a ballerina for the English National Ballet.

Uh, make that the English NAZI Ballet. (Anorexia eat your brains, Simone?)

BTW, the list's here, for those in Merrie Olde England who wanna have some fun with it.

Vaticannibalism!

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Just in time for Halloween, a true horror story, dressed up as a rather bland bit of religious news:

Thousands of Anglicans could defect to the Roman Catholic church after the pope today approved a new global institution to receive them.

It will be the first time since the Reformation in the 16th century that entire Protestant communities have reunited with Rome. The first group likely to take advantage of the new rules is the Traditional Anglican Community (TAC), which broke off from the rest of the community in 1991 and claims to have more than 500,000 members worldwide.

Other groups unhappy with developments in the Anglican Communion are also expected to accept the invitation from the Vatican. Traditionalists, including thousands in the Church of England, have long threatened to defect to Rome over issues such as the ordination of women and gay people.

Ah yes. Anglican homophobia and misogyny, oppressed by all this modern progress, now have a new home. And their adherents will be paying tithes directly into the coffers of the same Vatican that kept sweeping under the rug all the priests that either buggered boys or molested and impregnated teenage girls. The same that is now letting dioceses go broke so it will never have to sell off its own golden toilet seats to pay reparations to the victims of all those priests who proved that forced celibacy does not work! Don't you love that logic?

It's theological inanities like this that make me glad I'm a pagan.

October 20, 2009

A bizarre dream I had the other night, or, L'esprit de l'escalier

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Staircase/bookshelf designed by Tim Sloan, featured in Marie Claire Maison. Now this is what I call a dream worth having!

I've been debating with myself about whether or not I should blog this, because it's so embarrassing and personal and silly, and I've decided--oh, what the hey.

Yesterday morning, just before waking, I had the most peculiar dream. I was in a swimming pool, doing what I thought was a very good backstroke. Really in the rhythm, perfectly co-ordinated, all limbs in sync, no self-consciousness as I circled around and around, lap after lap, never tiring. It was the sort of thing a cerebral klutz often dreams--and always dreams of it going wrong just as it's going great. Which of course is what I dreamed!

Suddenly I found that there was no water in the pool, and that I was just windmilling my arms in the air, feeling like a total jackass. People walked by and snickered. That's when I realized that someone else was responsible for this.

So I set out to find the person. I found her sitting by the side of the pool, studying me with an amused expression. She was a friend--or someone I had thought was a friend. I knew that the pool would stay dry unless I got back into her good graces, so I just hung out with her, liking what she liked, disparaging whatever she didn't.

Well, that was a bad approach, as you can imagine. She told me she didn't like ME!

Why? I asked her.

So she named all kinds of ridiculous, trivial, embarrassingly personal reasons. The more she rambled on, the sorrier I felt for her. I thought her self-esteem was obviously down in the dumps, which was why she was taking it out on me. I was a vulnerable target, no doubt: solitary, introverted, self-sufficient, and damn, I really thought I was doing so well at the backstroke, there!

Then a group of young guys, in their teens or early twenties by the looks of them, strolled by. One of them tossed off another casual, yet horribly personal insult at me, a slang term I'd never heard. Called me a "Bigelow wife". Meaning, some nerdy single chick who's married to her teapot. (This insult does not exist in the "real" world, as far as I can tell. And yes, I googled.)

Just as I'd figured that out, I began to wake up. I tried to get back to sleep, but it was no use--I was wide awake, full of excitement because I'd come up with the perfect come-back for all this negativity and shit. I was going to say something like:

"Oh yeah? Well, I know your flavor--Constant Cruelty!"

In short: A perfect case of l'esprit de l'escalier, foiled by wakefulness. (Just call me Treppenwolf!)

Is this what it takes to stop the bleeding?

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From France, something mightily disturbing about where privatization of formerly public companies goes if taken to the crapitalist extreme...

France Télécom today shelved its restructuring programme after the suicides of 25 workers whose deaths have been linked to a modernisation drive at the group.

The former state monopoly said it had called-off its controversial corporate shake-up until next year.

The announcement follows a wave of deaths at the group and a further spate of attempted suicides since February 2008. The deaths, which have shocked the country, have led to calls for the resignation of Didier Lombard, France Télécom's chief executive.

A spokesman said: "We will suspend all restructuring until December 31, 2009."

And after that, all bets will be off, the "modernization" drive will be on again, and so will the suicides. Brilliant!

And after that, the Deluge...of government intervention:

The French Government summoned Mr Lombard to a crisis meeting last month about the deaths, which unions blame on a deep malaise caused by the restructuring. He was asked to produce an urgent action plan.

Critics say staff at the company, two thirds of whom were taken on when the group was a state monopoly and, as such, considered themselves unsackable, had become desperate after being asked to overhaul working practices. The shake-up was aimed at making the Gallic group more competitive in the international market.

A total of 10,000 employees have changed jobs in the past three years.

And if you think it's easy to change jobs in France, where positions have until recently tended to be full-time, decently paid and career-long, or that American-style ultracapitalism would cut the fat, may I remind you that (a) the French have lower obesity rates by far than the Yanks, and (b) the US capital crisis--still happening!--is a direct result of that ultracapitalism.

And so, it turns out, is something like this:

One of the most recent deaths occurred last month when a 51-year-old employee killed himself in the French Alps. The man, who was married with two children, left a note blaming the "atmosphere" at work before throwing himself off a motorway bridge in Alby-sur-Cheran.

He had recently switched jobs to a call centre where he faced performance objectives.

Call centres are notoriously stressful, with jobs directly dependent on a quota of sales, and poor remuneration to boot--which is not much improved even on the off chance that you exceed your quota. The last thing anyone in my neck of the woods dreams of being is a call-centre employee, and for reasons good. It's a shitty job, with rejection being a daily norm (seeing as the job basically entails cold-calling people who don't want to be called, and annoying the hell out of them.) It is, from a psychological standpoint, a sheer nightmare. That's something no amount of money can make good, much less the lousy pay (barely above minimum wage) that a telemarketer makes. The turnover is high, and no wonder: Ditch digging is less of a hassle, and better paid!

So I hope you'll pardon me for laughing (sardonically, and with little mirth) at things like this:

Mr Lombard had already announced an end to the programme of compulsory job changes for managers and suspended staff performance indicators at the call centre as he sought to end what he called a "death spiral" at the group.

He has also hired 100 additional advisers in human resources and launched negotiations with unions on workplace stress.

It's going to take a hell of a lot more than piddling measures like those to stop the bleeding, Monsieur Lombard. It will take nothing less than a candid admission that capitalism does not work, and a return to the days when phone service was publicly provided and cheap--and a source of steady, secure employment that didn't see middle-aged family men hanging themselves en masse.

PS: This article in the Spiegel is also surprisingly good, as it points the finger in all the right directions. Sarko's pronouncement at the end pleasantly surprised me, but perhaps it shouldn't. After all, it's France, and happiness is sacred there.

PPS: And for a look at some real assholes who prescribe capitalism but don't make the connection between it and suicide, click here. (Warning: raw sewage!)

How drunk does one have to be?

Ahem. Before I get on with the bile-bucketing, I thought y'all might like a little mood music. Maestro, hit it, please:

Ah, that was soothing.

So how about that Rory Carroll? I know he must do an awful lot of drinking with the country club set in Venezuela, but that overpriced rotgut they served him had him pooping in his mouth a little. (Or a lot.) Fortunately, we've got Dissident Voice's Francisco Dominguez to pimp-slap him back to reality and call him a cab. (Or a fucking jackass.)

And then there's that crazy ol' Grandpa Munster. The man can sure project his pudgy old ass off, and no wonder: He went on a hunger strike to protest the alleged "authoritarian drift" of Chavecito--allegedly. But as Mario Silva and the Robertos pointed out, he's the first hunger-striker in history ever to emerge from it with a weight gain, rather than a loss. Just as Chavecito is the first "authoritarian", as Francisco D. so helpfully points out, to increase the democratic power of the Venezuelan citizenry.

Finally, as much as I love Eva Golinger, I just have to call shenanigans on this. Watch this clip of Michael Moore on Jimmy Kimmel's show, and tell me if you think he was serious:

Item #1: "The guy that's gonna take me out" is not a bodyguard; he's Nicolás Maduro, the Venezuelan foreign minister. Moore is joking because Maduro almost always has that dead-serious vibe going on. (And considering that his job consists largely of kicking foreign butt over insults to Venezuela, it's hardly surprising.)

Item #2: Venezuelans drink rum or aguardiente, rather than tequila. The po' folks prefer beer. (And in the case of oligarchs, like the ones Rory Carroll stenos for, scotch by the case.)

Item #3: How drunk do you have to be to seriously believe that Michael Moore wrote Chavecito's UN speech? Or that anything he's saying above is anything but hilarious exaggeration? He's clowning. It's his job. Remember, his movies are funny. Chavecito is probably laughing his ass off over this too by now. (It appears on a well-known Venezuelan humor site.)

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go murder a bottle of something. (A damn good beer from near where my dad was born, if you must know. I'm German, and that's what we drink.)

October 19, 2009

Stupid Sex Tricks: Take two of these and don't call me, EVER.

Srsly, that list of side effects is even funnier than a 4-hour Viagra boner.

Another day, another death in Tegucigolpe

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From Aporrea, more evidence that the Gorilletti dictatorship has got to die:

The National Front Against the Coup D'état in Honduras condemned the murder of one of its leaders during the repression of political anti-coup demonstrations.

The latest victim has been identified as Jairo Sánchez, who was shot in the face during the nighttime protests against the military putsch at a barricade in Tegucigalpa.

Human-rights organizations say the killing took place on September 23, when six other people were wounded by bullets.

Front leaders such as Juan Barahona, the co-ordinator general, and peasant leader Rafael Alegría, warned that the murder of the union leader Sánchez is part of the de facto regime's efforts to paralyze popular resistance by way of terror.

They reiterated that the popular mobilization will not stop until it has succeeded in restoring constitutional order and the constitutional president, Manuel Zelaya, as well as the convocation of a national constitutent assembly to rewrite the Honduran constitution.

Sánchez received tributes from the members of the resistance during yesterday's demonstration, when his comrades commemmorated his active participation in the demonstrations against the putsch of June 28.

Translation mine.

There is something you can do about it today. If you're in Washington, DC, you may want to attend this demo ("near Dupont Circle, 1850 M Street NW"); if not, here's another way to piss off some seriously nasty lobbyists: Sign this and pass it along to all your democracy-loving friends.

And when you're done with all that, relax and read the funny papers.

October 18, 2009

Mel cuts the crap

The latest declaration of the legitimate, elected president of Honduras, in full:

PRESIDENCY OF THE REPUBLIC OF HONDURAS

DECLARATION

Before the mockery and the slap in the face which Mr. Micheletti has dealt to the people of Honduras and the International Community, boycotting the dialogue and using it as a method of prolongation to keep himself arbitrarily in power, we herby declare:

1. We are not disposed to lose the people's rights in legitimizing this coup d'état.

2. We do not accept the militarization of society and that the President of Honduras be named Head of the Armed Forces.

3. We are not disposed to permit our system to be militarized, and our Democracy stolen, because it is a supreme property of society and the only way to confront the problems of the third most poor economy in Latin America.

4. We warn of permanent violations of human rights, the cancellation of civil liberties and the cancellation and confiscation of communication media, such as Channel 36 and Radio Globo in preparation for a major politico-electoral fraud.

We therefore resolve:

1. To immediately meet with the Councillors of the OAS for the purpose of increasing commercial and economic measures against the de facto regime.

2. We call upon the Resistance and the candidates who condemn the coup d'état, César Ham and Carlos H. Reyes, to speak out immediately on the electoral process and its vices, and the fraud which the de facto regime is preparing.

3. We invite the people to join in, and take the measures necessary to comply with this resolution.

4. We call upon the resistance to remain firm until, at the soonest moment possible, they achieve a triumph for the people, and bring down this dictatorship.

OUR COUNTRY, RESISTANCE, AND DEFEAT TO DICTATORS.

Government of the President of Honduras, José Manuel Zelaya Rosales.

Tegucigalpa, October 16, 2009.

Translation mine.

This is what he should have said all along, instead of trying to compromise with Gorilletti. The clock is still ticking on the election, and if it is not to be a fraud, he had better be restored immediately.

Music for a Sunday: Memories of a Cold War gone by

This one's a bit dated now (and kind of overly sanitized if you've ever seen The Day After, which came out around the same time and scared the bejesus out of me), but it's still effective, for all that; the "meltdown" of the home movie at the end always chokes me up. One commenter at the YouTube site writes, "Looking at Chernobyl it's almost a premonition." It is...and it's more than just that. It's an admonition, a warning never to let this happen for real.

Yes, President Obama, this song's for you.

October 17, 2009

Wankers of the Week: Nobel Peace Prize Idiots edition

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Some people, like these two, get it--and got out to give their president a gentle reminder of the job to be done. Others...well...

Last week's out-of-the-blue announcement that the world's first pre-emptive Nobel Peace Prize had been awarded to Barack Obama has unleashed a firestorm of stupidities, most of them from people who probably still believe in pre-emptive war even after nearly a decade of living (and dying) proof of its utter futility. Some of their shit actually landed in my mailbox (which will now have to be fumigated for typhus, dengue and a host of other fever-swamp diseases of the wingnut brain.) Here we go with the wanks, in no particular order:

1. Tilman Fucking Walker. Obscure right-wing blogger thinks Chavecito was just being jealous when he stated the plain truth--that Obama had not yet done enough to earn the Nobel Peace Prize. And of course, trots out the old "dictator" canard, too. So tired. Especially when you consider that the "dictator" enjoys the support of a full two-thirds of Venezuelans...still. Funniest of all is that all two of the blogger's little ass-barnacle commentators...agree with Chavecito (although one suspects it's strictly partisan, knee-jerk hatred of Democrats and/or blacks on their part.)

2. Vaclav Fucking Havel. Irrelevant former Czech president (and still, inexplicably, neoliberal in spite of the economic disaster it unleashed on his country) criticizes Obama for--not meeting with the Dalai Lama? Iraq is still burning, Afghanistan is unable to dig out from under its own rubble, the US nuclear arsenal is still very much in place (as is Israel's not-so-secret one)--and this is Havel's idea of a peace chore to be accomplished? Someone has a bizarre sense of priorities in Prague.

3. Benjamin Fucking Netanyahu. Israeli warmonger fawns over peace prize winner with empty rhetoric, probably secretly hoping he'll bomb Iran. Dude, STFU and clean your own house. Pay special attention to Dimona. Otherwise, you'll never win one.

4. The Fucking RNC. Why? Well,

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THAT's why.

5. through 13. Rush Fucking Limbaugh, Glenn Fucking Beck, John Fucking Bolton, James Fucking Inhofe, Andy Fucking McCarthy, Erick Fucking Erickson, Ron Fucking Radosh, Paul Fucking Mirengoff, and Orly Fucking Taitz. See above, and add lockstep predictability on every front. Not a thought in any of their puny skulls other than "Waaaaaaaa! We want WAR WAR WAR!!!", "Gimme money for my fascist 9/12 tea party!", "Buh-buh-bub-but what about Bill Ayers?" and of course, the obligatory, but never speakable, subtext: "Nigger nigger nigger..."

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14. Susan Fucking Davis. For failing to note that the "turn-it-down trend" is only a trend on the right. On the left, people are saying more or less the same thing: "Great, congrats, accept it, take it as an advance on promises to be delivered, and GET 'ER DONE!"

15., 16. and 17. Matt Fucking Drudge, Joe Fucking Scarborough and Mark Fucking Halperin. The one gets his bons mots du jour from an Islamist jihadist, the other mocks and insults Obama, and the third mocks and insults Marisa Tomei. Stay classy, turds.

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18. Robert Fucking Spencer. Obama's Nobel is bad because he talked to Hamas! Oh NOES!!!

19. Mike Fucking Huckabee. Not only for fixating, with typical partisan myopia, on how "right-wing whining" tarnishes the GOP's image (as if it could be any further tarnished than it already is!), but for saying "...allow those on the left to explain what he did in his first two weeks as President that merited such recognition." Um yeah, he earned it in just two weeks. What more do we need from a failed (and probably very bitter) Repug presidential wannabe?

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20. Michelle Fucking Malkin. Has this hypocritical, war-mongering, anchor-baby bitch ever considered that one day, her penchant for turning her ankle-biting minions on people is gonna backfire when she is sued for invasion of privacy--and so is every one of the ankle-biters? These people have no shame--they harassed an innocent woman for no reason other than that she went to law school with the current president. I'd nominate anyone who brings the hammer down on them for a Nobel peace prize, myself--it would sure clean up the violent, racist filth that clogs the Internets!

21. AllahFuckingPundit. Yeah, as a matter of fact, he DID get it for not being Dubya. He got it for trying to be the anti-Dubya. And this is a problem WHY? Putz.

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22. Michael Fucking Steele. You know, there is such a thing as being TOO much of an Uncle Tom...to the point where even Ol' Massa doesn't know what to make of you anymore (except, maybe, a mess of chitlins). It really doesn't pay to toady to those who secretly see your skin as the mark of their enemy. They could turn around and lynch YOU when the Secret Service does too good a job of protecting their intended target from them.

23. Sarah Fucking Palin, AGAIN. For winning the Nobel Prize in Literature. WTF? WTFF?? WTFFF???

Oh. Wait. It's a spoof. Ha ha ha snurk!

But wait, maybe it's not so spoofy after all...

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...ya think?

24. These crazy drug-ass motherfuckers right here. Honestly, words fail.

25. Tammy Fucking Bruce. Why be subtle about your own racism? Let's dog-whistle using photos of raccoons hunting through boxes of Cracker Jack for the prize. Get it? COON HUNTS FOR PRIZE! So clever. Fuck yeah!

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26. Thomas Fucking Friedman. Blah blah blah yadda yadda meaningless faux-clever glurge from a warmongering dumbfuck who, as usual, has no idea what he's babbling on about.

27. Claudia Fucking Rosett. First time I've ever heard of her; hope it's the last. Won't ever win any prizes except the booby kind, thank Goddess.

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28. Jonah Fucking Goldberg. Have I mentioned him in here yet? I forget. Just in case I haven't, he's a wanker too. So what's new?

And just to close out this week's wankapedia, check out who was NOT a wanker about it. Yes, the Recipient himself--schooling friends and foes alike on how one handles such an unexpected honor:

Great speech, Barack No-Drama. "A call to action" it certainly is. Now go and do what you were called to do.

Calle 13 tells it like it is

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Puerto Rican rapper "El Residente" René Pérez of Calle 13 shows off a shirt that pissed off El Narco. I'm now officially a fan!

October 16, 2009

Festive Left Friday Blogging: An Ecuadorable day for Cochabamba

Look who's in Bolivia right now...

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Oh hai!

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Yes, there really are some guys who deserve to be pelted with petals. Here's one of them.

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"Music, please, maestro! I feel a song coming on..."

Teh Heterostoopid turns into Teh Heterosquickout

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This is what a pervert looks like. Take a good look, kiddies--they look more ordinary than you think...

Some people aren't fit to be parents. Others aren't fit even to be sperm donors:

A man has been charged with sexually propositioning his own 13-year-old daughter on the Internet.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett said John Forehand, 39, of Lititz, about 130 kilometres west of Philadelphia, went onto the Facebook social networking site using the name "Bad Daddy" to locate the girl, with whom he had had no contact for about 10 years.

Authorities say he proposed a meeting earlier this month and described sex acts in graphic detail.

He proposed meeting the girl for sex, telling her, "not many other fathers and daughters are this brave, so not many of them are so lucky to experience all these pleasures."

Ugh. "Bad Daddy" is right. (I'll bet the girl's mother left him...and for good reason.)

And "Bad Daddy" also needs to lose his gonads. Preferably to a pair of well-rusted hedge clippers.

Concern troll should have his JP licence revoked

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For anyone who doesn't see the connection between civil rights and marriage rights, here...get a load of this walking anachronism from the Old South:

A Louisiana justice of the peace said he refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple out of concern for any children the couple might have.

Keith Bardwell, justice of the peace in Tangipahoa Parish, says it is his experience that most interracial marriages do not last long.

"I'm not a racist. I just don't believe in mixing the races that way," Bardwell told the Associated Press on Thursday. "I have piles and piles of black friends. They come to my home, I marry them, they use my bathroom. I treat them just like everyone else."

Bardwell said he asks everyone who calls about marriage if they are a mixed race couple. If they are, he does not marry them, he said.

Bardwell said he has discussed the topic with blacks and whites, along with witnessing some interracial marriages. He came to the conclusion that most of black society does not readily accept offspring of such relationships, and neither does white society, he said.

"There is a problem with both groups accepting a child from such a marriage," Bardwell said. "I think those children suffer and I won't help put them through it."

If he did an interracial marriage for one couple, he must do the same for all, he said.

"I try to treat everyone equally," he said.

Except, of course, interracial couples. Some couples are more equal than others, it seems! See? He's perfectly consistent.

Of course, HOW he "came to the conclusion" is kind of hinky. And it being FUX Snooze profiling this concern troll (with all the Fairness and Balance that THAT implies!), of course they don't go into that, because that would mean admitting that the South is still deeply racist, and that this guy is not some kind of quaint exception.

Nor is he genuinely concerned for the children and what kind of acceptance they would get. If he were, he might have trouble explaining the near-universal appeal of Halle Berry. Or Barack Obama.

As it is, a lot of black Americans have some white ancestry (particularly in the South, where masters were known to impregnate female slaves on a more or less regular basis), and this is very much a fact of life in predominantly black communities. It's only in the last half-century or so that interracial love and marriage have been recognized...by whites. The blacks have been living with it for much longer.

And of course, none of this registers with the concern troll. Just as no interracial couples are allowed to register their marriages with him.

But that doesn't stop them from happening:

Beth Humphrey, 30, and 32-year-old Terence McKay, both of Hammond, say they will consult the U.S. Justice Department about filing a discrimination complaint.

Humphrey, an account manager for a marketing firm, said she and McKay, a welder, just returned to Louisiana. She plans to enroll in the University of New Orleans to pursue a masters degree in minority politics.

"That was one thing that made this so unbelievable," she said. "It's not something you expect in this day and age."

Humphrey said she called Bardwell on Oct. 6 to inquire about getting a marriage license signed. She says Bardwell's wife told her that Bardwell will not sign marriage licenses for interracial couples. Bardwell suggested the couple go to another justice of the peace in the parish who agreed to marry them.

"We are looking forward to having children," Humphrey said. "And all our friends and co-workers have been very supportive. Except for this, we're typical happy newlyweds."

Gee, so much for non-acceptance.

Concern Troll is an Epic Fail.

But FUX being FUX (and well known for its own racism), they give him the last word...and what a whiny word it is:

"I've been a justice of the peace for 34 years and I don't think I've mistreated anybody," Bardwell said. "I've made some mistakes, but you have too. I didn't tell this couple they couldn't get married. I just told them I wouldn't do it."

Yeah, dude...because You. Are. A. RACIST.

End of story.

ADDENDUM: For some interesting historical backgrounder on black/white miscegenation in the slave-era South, I found this today: The Rape of Black Women Under Slavery, Part II. Highly recommended reading. This passage in particular leapt out at me:

Systemic gendered racism was central to slavery too. Resisting the alienation of slavery, as a young woman, she fell in love with a free black man. When her slavemaster found out, he was enraged. She pleaded with him, but he refused to let her to marry.

Refusing to let blacks marry whom they want, in other words, is a direct throwback to slavery.

No, this JP wasn't being the least bit racist!

Stupid Sex Tricks: How to give Grandpa a heart attack

"Hey, what are you girls giggling about in h--OH MY GOD!!!"

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Please, don't ever do this. Their time on Earth isn't long as it is. Think of your grandpas!

October 15, 2009

Belinda Carlisle comes out...

...in support of her son:

Belinda's son is James Duke Mason. Here's the skinny on him and the cause (from Proud Parenting):

Mason's a writer - contributing to the LA-based magazine Frontiers. His bio from the magazine says: "After working as a volunteer for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign and being appointed to serve as a page in the U.S. Congress, Mason decided he should turn his energy and enthusiasm to spreading a message of pride within the LGBT community."

NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality has collected $2.7 million for its campaign against a ballot proposal to repeal marriage equality, more than double the amount the measure's supporters said they raised.

Let's hope they succeed.

(And on a semi-related note, I always knew the Go-Gos were a gay icon among pop bands, as well as a feminist one, but I had no idea how much until now!)

Burden of proof: Guess who no can carry it

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If you said "teh heterostoopid ghey-bashers", you're right!

A federal judge challenged the backers of California's voter-enacted ban on same-sex marriage Wednesday to explain how allowing gay couples to wed threatens conventional unions, a demand that prompted their lawyer to acknowledge he did not know.

The unusual exchange between U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn Walker and Charles Cooper, a lawyer for the group that sponsored Proposition 8, came during a hearing on a lawsuit challenging the measure as discriminatory under the U.S. Constitution.

Cooper had asked Walker to throw out the suit or make it more difficult for those civil rights claims to prevail.

[...]

The question is relevant to the assertion that Proposition 8 is constitutionally valid because it furthers the states goal of fostering "naturally procreative relationships," Walker explained.

"What is the harm to the procreation purpose you outlined of allowing same-sex couples to get married?" Walker asked.

"My answer is, I don't know. I don't know," Cooper answered.

They don't know what they're trying to stop, yet they still passed a law intended to stop it? Wow. How dumbass is that?

Wait, it gets even dumber:

"There are things we can't know, that's my point," Cooper said. "The people of California are entitled to step back and let the experiment unfold in Massachusetts and other places, to see whether our concerns about the health of marital unions have either been confirmed or perhaps they have been completely assuaged."

So that's why these concern trolls passed a deliberately discriminatory law? Just to "step back and let the experiment unfold"? I call bullshit.

Apparently, so does His Honor:

Walker pressed on, asking again for specific "adverse consequences" that could follow expanding marriage to include same-sex couples. Cooper cited a study from the Netherlands, where gay marriage is legal, showing that straight couples were increasingly opting to become domestic partners instead of getting married.

"Has that been harmful to children in the Netherlands? What is the adverse effect?" Walker asked.

Cooper said he did not have the facts at hand.

"But it is not self-evident that there is no chance of any harm, and the people of California are entitled not to take the risk," he said.

"Since when do Constitutional rights rest on the proof of no harm?" Walker parried, adding the First Amendment right to free speech protects activities that many find offensive, "but we tolerate those in a free society."

Yeah, that reminds me: Why is it okay to burn crosses on black people's lawns, but not let same-sex couples marry? I can easily demonstrate the harm to children that witnessing a cross-burning does, and I'm not even a lawyer. Can the gay-bashers demonstrate the harm that a same-sex marriage would allegedly do?

Moreover, why wait to see what happens in Massachusetts? The article goes on to note that 18,000 same-sex couples were married in California before Prop H8 took effect, and that the courts have ruled that their marriages are valid. Why not look at what happens in California, instead of all the way across the Fruited Plain (pardon the unintended pun)?

I have a fair idea of why they won't. They will do their damnedest to deflect attention away from that salient fact because to admit that those 18,000 California same-sex marriages are valid means there's no harm done to the kids--and indeed, no harm done to anything except maybe old worn-out bigotries dressed up as "traditional family values"!

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October 14, 2009

Dangerous times for Colombian university students

Video in three parts; click through at the end for parts #2 and #3. Spanish, with English subtitles by Tlaxcala.

The last ten years have been deadly ones for university students in Colombia. Anyone who has any grievances or disputes with the authorities and/or the government, faces death threats and persecution. At least 35 students have been murdered in this time span alone. In the face of this, politically active progressive university students have taken to hooding their faces so that the authorities cannot track them down. It is the only way they can speak out, but the media and the authorities have demonized them for it as criminals and accuse them of having ties to the FARC and ELN. They seize on literally any excuse to come down harder on the students, to the point where all opposition to the hard-right Uribe government becomes a potential death sentence.

Next time you hear Venezuelan right-wing oppos whining about a crackdown on them, bear in mind that they face nothing nearly so bad as what their Colombian leftist counterparts do.

And also, remember this: In the eyes of Washington, Colombia is a model democracy!

What a truly unworthy Nobel peace prize winner looks like

This is an old film clip from 1977, included in a documentary called Nuestros Desaparecidos (Our Disappeared). An Argentine reporter asks Henry Kissinger (Nobel peace prize, 1973) what he thinks of the general leading the Argentine junta:

Kissinger's reply is par for the course--for Kissinger. He never met a butcher he couldn't like, and General Videla is no exception. In fact, Kissinger was helping the Argentine junta behind the scenes through the Dirty War, as well as praising them openly before the cameras, and he knew full well what was going on.

Now, I don't agree with Barack Obama getting the Nobel without having done more to earn it. But at least he still has ample potential and opportunity to become a true peacemaker and undo the bad moves of his predecessor. I hope he takes it in the spirit it was intended--as an incentive to do better. Kissinger, a cynical butcher all the way, lost no opportunity to urinate all over his prize.

Incidentally, Kissinger's co-recipient of the 1973 Nobel, Le Duc Tho, turned it down, on the grounds that his country (Vietnam) was not yet at peace. Maybe it was also because he didn't want his good name tainted by sharing a prize with Henry Kissinger. If so, one could hardly blame him!

(Thanks to El Gaviero for linking to the documentary site and bringing this to my attention.)

October 13, 2009

Interview with a torturer

An Uruguayan journalist goes face-to-face with one of the three men who tortured him when he was a prisoner during the Dirty War in Argentina:

Video in Spanish, with English subtitles, from Al-Jazeera.

The torturer's name is Héctor Julio Simón, nickname El Turco Julián (Julian the Turk). I had not heard of him before reading this item at Memory in Latin America (a good place to go for backgrounder on all kinds of Latin American dirty war abuses, BTW.)

Like many torturers, "Julián", a convinced fascist and rabid antisemite known for his Hitler salutes, who worked out of the infamous Olimpo prison (among other places), has a strange and uncomfortable relationship to his erstwhile victim. This even though Gerardo, the journalist, has forgiven him and is now only seeking answers--chief among them, the names of the other two, who were truly vicious to him. One, nicknamed "Kung Fu" for his brutal martial-arts style of prisoner abuse, remains unnamed at the end, although Gerardo has managed to find out who the other one, known as "Colores", was.

"Julián", as you can see, can't quite meet his victim-turned-interrogator's eyes. And he's full of excuses and attempts at deflection. But he does let slip a crucial truth: that torture twists the torturer as much as it does the victim, in its own perverse way. After his stint as a torturer ended, Julio Simón's troubles began in earnest; he became jumpy and restless, feeling that no place was safe, and he ended up living out of his car, desperate to hide and unable to escape the demons now eating him from within.

One can see that torture isn't really about obtaining intelligence (ordinary questioning, without coercion, can do it better, as can exercising a lawful search warrant.) Most of the "information" obtained through torture is useless, since a victim will say anything it takes to make it stop. It's about power, about making sure the victim knows that s/he is powerless, and about holding that person's life in the balance, for whatever purpose the higher-ups have in mind--until the authorities decide that the person has learned a lesson and can be let go. Or else the bodies are dumped from planes into the sea to destroy the evidence, as was the case in Argentina. And yes, some torturers are truly sadistic, and enjoy other people's suffering--or have convinced themselves that the victim is not the right sort of person, maybe not even human at all, and is therefore fair game. For them, the power trip is as much a high as any drug.

But what is less well understood is that the torturer, unless he is a complete automaton, can also feel profoundly helpless long after his career as a professional tormentor is over, especially if he is no longer with the military, the police or any other agency where he can go on exercising that inordinate power he used to have. Cut loose from the monstrous machinery that sustained him in his bloody career, he soon realizes that he is illegitimate, without credibility, as well as helpless. He cannot go seamlessly back to a normal life, a family, an innocent job, although he may, for a long time, pretend quite successfully. But there comes a time when the pretense breaks down, and it happens most often to torturers who no longer exist in a state of authority and impunity. Perhaps he knows that whatever he has done, someone else in turn can do to him. The paranoid mindset of fascist times stays with him wherever he goes, long after democracy is restored. In fact, it is then that he will be at his most uneasy. He may fear that his former colleagues, especially the more brutal ones like "Kung Fu", will track him down and kill him if he squeals, as "Julián" does. He may also feel guilt, or even empathy, that he does not want to feel again if face to face with one of his victims, as here. He will do anything to avoid confronting and reliving the past, even when such a confrontation is the only thing that can help him. (To admit the past is to admit one's own role in it--and one's own powerlessness.) He may be a tangled knot of contradictions and attempts at self-justification, scrambling to weave some solid identity out of the torn cloth of his destroyed character. But whatever the case may be, torture has left its own mark on him. No sense of normality is ever possible again after that.

NYT: Anything in favor of single-payer medicare is not fit to print

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From FAIR, a shocking (or not) admission from the editors of the Old Grey Harlot:

In response to FAIR's September 22 action alert, New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt agreed (10/11/09) that the paper's September 20 article about Medicare for all excluded supporters of a single-payer healthcare system.

FAIR pointed out that the article, written by Katharine Seelye, laid out many arguments against single-payer--it would mean a big tax increase, it would hurt doctors, and so on--without including balancing responses from supporters.

Links as in FAIR's original.

Um, Ms Seelye...why couldn't you come up to Canada and get the balancing argument here? For that matter, why not just give Michael Moore a call? Surely it wouldn't cost that much to get on the horn to the guy who not only came here, but also to Cuba, to see how we and our Cuban friends do things, healthwise. I know he's happy to talk to anyone who has questions for him! Could it be that his pro-single payer argument is a lot stronger than the anti-healthcare one?

Nahhhhh...not according to the NYT's Clark Hoyt it isn't...

Health care is a sprawling subject that is hard for a newspaper to get right. It involves economics, politics, and philosophical and moral values. There are complex delivery systems and hard-to-explain concepts, like how spending $829 billion over 10 years and adding 29 million people to health insurance rolls could save the government money in the long run. There are terms to keep straight -- single payer vs. public option -- lobbyists for special interests, and five separate comprehensive proposals under consideration in Congress, running to thousands of pages.

Why did I just get the image of a talking Barbie doll in my head, saying that math was so hard? Maybe because there was one:

Katharine Seelye, the reporter, said she was trying to explain why Medicare-for-all was not going anywhere and provided links online to arguments for it. "I thought the substance of it had been dealt with elsewhere many times," she said.

Yeah, the "substance" comes courtesy of right-wing crapaganda sites. The same that organize the "tea parties" to make it look like the current mess that is US healthcare is actually popular with the grassroots. It isn't.

If you want to know what the NYT won't tell you, you might want to ask Canadians why we voted Tommy Douglas as our all-time Greatest Canadian. This ahead of a formidable prime minister--Pierre Trudeau, who patriated our Constitution and attached the Charter of Rights and Freedoms--and Terry Fox, who lost a leg to cancer and ran the Marathon of Hope cross-country to raise funds and awareness before the disease returned and took his life.

I can tell you why Tommy was, without a doubt, our greatest Canadian--he gave us single-payer healthcare! And he did it over all the counter-arguments from the right and from the insurance industry. He also did it, incidentally, while slashing a massive provincial deficit in Saskatchewan--run up by his more "fiscally conservative" predecessors, who were apparently utterly uninterested in providing public services and existed mainly to make sure that big businesses got favorable conditions in which to profiteer. Tommy Douglas was everything that Barack Obama probably wishes he himself were--a successful reformer on multiple fronts, capable of cutting the crap and winning respect by never selling out. Here's how the CBC put it:

Amid widespread skepticism, Premier Douglas mobilized aggressively, passing more than 100 bills during his first term. He introduced paved roads, sewage systems and power to most farmers and managed to reduce the provincial debt by $20 million. Over the next 18 years he weathered [anti-]Communist fear campaigns and a province-wide doctors' strike. Elected to five terms, he introduced Saskatchewan residents to car insurance, labour reforms and his long-standing dream of universal Medicare.

Medicare was so popular, in fact, that politicians of every stripe, across Canada, eventually adopted it. Every province and territory now has its own public health plan, and for that, we thank Tommy Douglas--who pushed it through over the wails and squalls of "free enterprise" types who tried (unsuccessfully) to convince ordinary Canadians that the sky was falling. Just like the teabaggers in the US are doing now.

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That's something you'll NEVER see in the NYT! (Neither is the salient fact that doctors are, actually, NOT hurting up here, at least not financially--that is, if the number of luxury cars in the "Doctors Only" parking section at our local hospital is anything to go by.)

But hey! All is not lost. Here's Clark Hoyt again:

But The Times had not seriously explored the issue during the current debate, and I thought FAIR had a point.

The public option, a government-run health plan that would compete with private insurers, favored by a majority in the Times/CBS News poll, has been covered extensively as a political story. But the substance has received less attention. Jill Abramson, the managing editor for news, said she wondered if the paper had done enough. "If people had understood it more, would the politics have turned out differently?" she said. "I don't know, and I'm not saying this from a point of advocacy." Editors need to keep asking: Do their judgments about what is realistic become self-fulfilling prophecies?

The answer, of course, is a screeching, resounding YES. By censoring an important part of the debate--just because it comes from a place outside and well to the left of the reporters' and editors' own biases--it becomes a self-fullfilling prophecy when the under-informed readers decide to knuckle under to whatever seems "centrist" enough for the Newspaper of Record, and adopt it as their own opinion. They will then vote, however half-heartedly, in that direction, ignoring the truly viable, but much more progressive option of single-payer medicine, which might cost them a bit more in taxes but would save them many times that in insurance costs.

In the end, unless hell is well and truly raised (by you, the reader!), things will never change in the US, except to become even more convoluted and bogged down. Over time, real social change and progress become less and less possible, even as the papers are screaming about how "things have gone too far" and "there was bound to be a backlash". Or how third parties are only "spoilers" to the Big Two, who keep looking more and more alike as time goes on. (The fact that the centre of the field keeps shifting to the right is, of course, a thing never to be mentioned, even in a rare moment of honesty.)

But least Clark Hoyt admits that "FAIR had a point". Even if he's not willing to do a whole hell of a lot about it, other than briefly admit that and then let it slide.

And just think, if thousands of FAIR readers hadn't written to the NYT and complained, they wouldn't have gotten even that piddling admission out of them.

Still think that paper is liberal, conservatard boys and girls?

Happy (belated) Columbus Day

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An indigenous Panamanian burns the Spanish flag.

Yeah, that colonial imperialism thing is still mega-popular after 500+ years...

This is what a "pre-existing condition" looks like

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Meet Alex Lange and his mother, Kelli. Alex is, as you can see, a nice healthy baby. His pediatrician thinks so, too. But guess who doesn't...

Alex's pre-existing condition -- "obesity" -- makes him a financial risk. Health insurance reform measures are trying to do away with such denials that come from a process called "underwriting."

"If health care reform occurs, underwriting will go away. We do it because everybody else in the industry does it," said Dr. Doug Speedie, medical director at Rocky Mountain Health Plans, the company that turned down Alex.

By the numbers, Alex is in the 99th percentile for height and weight for babies his age. Insurers don't take babies above the 95th percentile, no matter how healthy they are otherwise.

In other words: He's a nice healthy baby, who just happens to be on the big side of what's normal for a 4-month-old. But by the insurer's definition, that makes him "obese".

If you think that's ridiculous, wait'll you see what the insurer wants his parents to do about it before they extend coverage:

"I could understand if we could control what he's eating. But he's 4 months old. He's breast-feeding. We can't put him on the Atkins diet or on a treadmill," joked his frustrated father, Bernie Lange, a part-time news anchor at KKCO-TV in Grand Junction. "There is just something absurd about denying an infant."

Yes, really. They want the parents to withhold food. And this at a time when babies are supposed to be fed on demand, because in that first crucial year of life, they do a LOT of growing!

But here's the part that really got to me:

At birth, Alex weighed a normal 8 1/4 pounds. On a diet of strictly breast milk, his weight has more than doubled. He weighs about 17 pounds and is about 25 inches long.

"I'm not going to withhold food to get him down below that number of 95," Kelli Lange said. "I'm not going to have him screaming because he's hungry."

Alex weighed slightly less than I did (which was 8 lb. 9 oz.) when born. I was a skinny kid and a slender teenager, which just goes to show you that baby fat doesn't stick around once you're out of diapers. And no, I was not terribly physically active, either!

Alex's weight gain is not due to junk food or a couch-potato lifestyle, it's due solely to his mom's own milk. She is, as you can see, not a fat lady. And he certainly doesn't look dangerously obese to me--I expect all healthy, well-nourished babies that age to have chubby little cheeks and rounded arms and legs.

It's ridiculous to generalize about health based on weight anyway, but in a baby it's just beyond the beyonds. And it makes me wonder if part of the so-called "obesity epidemic" isn't, in fact, a concerted effort on the part of insurers to deny coverage capriciously and fatten up their wallets instead.

October 12, 2009

Somehow, this doesn't surprise me...

Listen closely to Silvio Berluscoglioni--er, Berlusconi--and you'll hear him confess the reason he got off the hook so many times when he should have landed in the stripey hole:

He says he spent some 200 million euros ON JUDGES, then corrects himself and says "attorneys". Somehow, though, I get the feeling that the original wording is in fact the correct one!

Uruguayans reject right-wing presidential candidate

Gadzooks, he speaks English. He hangs in some mighty crappy company. He's with some obscure putschist group calling itself the "Cuban Democratic Directorate", even though he's not Cuban (nor particularly democratic.) And he chooses his words ever so carefully, but whom is he criticizing above? Hmmmm. Maybe he has a problem with the popularity of other candidates who have something in common with Chavecito's views. There certainly is no Venezuelan interference going on in Uruguay!

From Aporrea, something more on this unpleasant old man, which may explain why the left is still more popular in Uruguay than certain politicians of the right:

Politicians, Uruguayan attorneys, and ex-political prisoners expressed their rejection in no uncertain terms of the presidential candidacy of Luis Alberto Lacalle, of the National Party, on an Argentine TV channel.

Lacalle was a guest on Mirtha Legrand's program on the Buenos Aires channel, América. In one part of the interview, the host questioned him about the dictatorship, which lasted from 1973 to 1985, and the role of the National Liberation movement (MLN-Tupamaros).

The Blanco party aspirant replied that the MLN intended to destroy the democratic institutions, and the coup d'état was a consequence of the Tupamaros' action. He added: "In Uruguay we only had half a dozen disappeared."

Oscar López Goldaracena, a human-rights attorney, called Lacalle's attitude "a lack of respect for history, society, memory, and the victims."

"It is to ignore that there was a Plan Condor, that Uruguayan militaries travelled abroad to torture, that there were clandestine prisoner-transfers, and more than 200 disappeared persons."

The senator for the Broad Front, Rafael Michelini, opined that the National Party candidate "has a brutal non-recognition of what took place."

Sergio López Burgos, an ex-political prisoner, commented that in Uruguay, there were child thefts and thousands of tortured prisoners.

Even among the ranks of the Nationalists, there were reactions. The politician, writer and journalist, Juan Raúl Ferreira, said he felt "surprise and a bit of pain listening to Lacalle."

"It's one thing to not have eyes in the back of your head, and another to have them there and still not see...The facts of recent history are very painful. It is a very sad part of our lives, and those of our compatriots, and they all deserve respect," Ferreira said.

Translation mine.

Of course, there's always the possibility that Lacalle was drunk when he said those incredibly awful things. At least two YouTube videos of him are labelled "Lacalle borracho". One is just a slowed-down version of the one above, in which he does sound very boozy--or would if one hadn't heard the first and realized that the two were the same. I don't know about the provenance of the other, but the audio on it also sounds rather suspect. The comments on both videos intimate that he is certainly a drunk anyway (hmmm, not a popular man, either!), whatever one makes of the audio.

And to be fair, one would almost have to be a pretty serious alcoholic these days, in order to still give credence to neoliberalism (as Lacalle does), and minimize the crimes of the Uruguayan military dictatorship and Plan Condor (which he also does).

Either that, or one would have to be a pretty damn convinced fascist.

And to vote for him, I'd say one would have to be both!

October 11, 2009

Music for a Sunday: Not to say I did not speak of flowers

A small reminder of why it's so important that Brazil has lent its embassy as a haven to democracy in Honduras. Just twenty years ago, they emerged from a 25-year era of military dictatorship, in which generals ran the show, and the CIA pulled the strings behind the scenes, training the death squads in the not-so-fine art of thuggery. Torture, disappearances and murders were the lot of many who protested.

This tune has been on my mind for many a week now. Geraldo Vandré's beautiful folk song, celebrating the common courage of people in simple acts of bravery, dates to the late 1960s, when people marched en masse in the streets demanding an end to the dictatorship. It took a long time, but when that day came, it was inevitable. In the meantime, voices kept rising, and this man was just one of them. Others, like Caetano Veloso and his friend and sometime brother-in-law, Gilberto Gil, were first imprisoned and tortured, then had to go into exile. When Lula came to power, he made Gil his minister of culture--a fitting role for one who helped build it in the teeth of a culture-hating junta.

A salute to the people of Brazil, who know what democracy is worth from having lacked it too long themselves.

October 10, 2009

Wankers of the Week: Piano Man edition

A little mood music before we get on with the fappers, maestro?

Kudos to the ladies at A Creative Revolution, that was pitch-perfect.

My dear ol' dad, who saw only the sanitized-for-TV version, thinks this sad little stunt will get Harpo a parliamentary majority. Or rather, he was told to think so by the "liberal" media. He forgets two things: (a) Canadians are sick of having an election a year just so the SupposiTories can go on branding themselves "The NEW Conservative government" (and try in vain to get out of the minority leagues); (b) Harpo is not really playing the piano OR singing here. His performance is CANNED. Let's hope that he will be, too. We don't need a bogus "guy we can have a beer with" as head of state--remember where that landed our dear friends and neighbors just to the south of us?

Ahem. On with the show. Here's who else was caught with their pants down and their ugly bits out on stage this week:

1. Julio Cesar Fucking Vizuete. Guess what--not only is the Magic Laptop a farce (or should that be written "a FARCe"?), but Raúl Reyes' diary is also a fake. This Ecuadorian "journalist" ghost-wrote it, apparently with a great deal of "incriminating" embroidery. The question is, for whom? (We already have a fair idea of why.) The other question is, will the Chicken Noodle Network now issue a correction for this piece of crap? (We already have a fair idea of how many crickets we will hear chirping on that one.)

2. Ileana Fucking Ros-Lehtinen. For putting the "twit" in Twitter with her moronic (and patently false) declarations that Honduras doesn't want Mel back. Oh, but it does. It DOES.

3. Nicolas Fucking Eyzaguirre. Why does Argentina owe the IMF (dirty MF) anything? If I had been so brutally raped, I wouldn't want anything more to do with the assailant, either. Much less let him rifle through my underwear drawer.

Oh boy, I feel a song coming on. Take it away, Bruce:

And on a related note,

4. and 5. Amado Fucking Boudou and Dominique Fucking Strauss-Khan. For not having learned a goddamn thing from George Santayana. But hey, at least neither of them will be around to take responsibility when Argentina's economy implodes...AGAIN. (PS: Please hold the jokes about "Boudou economics".)

6. Philip Fucking Crowley. Srsly, dude, stop obsessing about how much Chavecito travels on his nation's business (hey, he's bringing home the bacon for all of Venezuela!), and mind YOURS.

7. And that goes for Ian Fucking Kelly, too. If this silly fucker only knew how much debate was actually going on within Venezuela...but hey. It's easy to criticize that from Washington and with zero accurate information, right, State Dept. hacks who read this blog?

8. Fucking Memorial High School of Houston, Texas. Because anyone who criticizes cartoons on T-shirts depicting the other schools' cheerleaders being raped by horses is just an old humorless feminist prude, apparently. Look, kids, I don't care if the shirts were "underground" or that high school football is everything in Texas (gawd, how awful for Texas if that's true!)--that shit is still not funny. But you wanna know what is? YOUR HORSES DON'T HAVE ANY COCKS!

9. and 10: Bill O'Fucking Rly? and Mad Michelle Fucking Bachmann, as seen below:

Can't you just hear his hands just working away below the table? And is she not bothered by the prospect of having him rub falafel over her in the shower? No, of course not. She's batshit. That makes her perfect for him. (That, and the fact that she's IN government, but still claims not to need it. For anything other than her wingnut welfare cheque, apparently...)

11. Andrew Fucking Newcomb. Something tells me that this teabag d-bag got his hallucinogenic nightmare visions of pill-poppers on the public teat from none other than the pill-poppin' Pigman.

12. Anne Fucking Leary. For permitting her widdle potato head to be messed with, soooo badly.

13. Paul Fucking Hewson, better known as Bono. Look, I enjoy U2's music as much as the next person (up to and including Achtung Baby; everything after that is pretty much jumped-the-shark crap). There were even times in my life when I was deeply moved by it. But by the singer himself, and the example he purports to set? Not so much. He dodges taxes even while preaching anti-poverty charity; not good. Even worse, he's behind a company that made a shitty video game which pretty much declares war on Chavecito and Venezuela. (Chavecito, incidentally, is fighting poverty in Venezuela and winning--using socialism, a thing Bono never mentions.) Once, he was an on-the-ground aid worker in Africa; now, he tells us to "shop till it stops" to fight AIDS. One could think that he'd use his money and clout to make a real difference, instead of just trying to winkle more of ours out of us who can ill afford it. (Hell, even Madonna builds orphanages!) But it seems that he's more intent on improving the stockmarket performance of Brand Bono than changing our world for the better. He's not a true voice for conscience anymore; he's only in it for himself. And yes, using "conscience" as a means of self-aggrandizement makes anyone, even him, a wanker!

Okay, since I opened this with music, with music I shall close. Here's Bono at his high-water mark, before the wankitude ate him alive:

What a pity he couldn't take his own advice, instead of becoming the bastard.

Good night, everybody, you were fabulous! Except, of course, for the wankers. (You know who you are.)

Stupid Sex Tricks: I already knew this in high school

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Unfortunately, this is all too often true.

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Unfortunately, so's this.

(To all the assholes I've loved before: yeah, dudes, I'm lookin' at YOU.)

Classy people congratulate Obama...

...and urge him to earn that Nobel.

First up, from Colombia, we have this lovely lady (who, in my very humble opinion, was more than deserving):

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Colombian senator Piedad Córdoba confirmed on Friday that in less than a month, Pablo Emilio Moncayo and Josué Daniel Calvo and the body of Major Julián Ernesto Guevara will be released unilaterally by the FARC, even though the government is issuing no guarantees.

[...]

Regarding her nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize, Córdoba thanked her nominators and said she feels honored for the recognition.

"This is an important message to the international community, to tell the world and Colombia that the only way out of the conflict is to negotiate," said the senator.

The choice of US president Barack Obama signifies "the Obama of hope, the Obama of peace, and not military bases."

She assured that she will ask the president that Colombia be included in a peace agenda to put an end to the war.

"Obama is under threat, and could be assassinated. He has to rise above the pressures of war, and go on working for peace," the senator said.

Translation mine.

I included that first paragraph in my excerpt to remind all who may have forgotten why Piedad Cordoba would have been such a worthy recipient. This lady has worked tirelessly to free the hostages taken by the FARC in order to force negotiations with the Colombian government, which has remained intransigent (and violent) in its refusal to grant the left a real political voice. (Remember, this is a country where the FARC's political arm--the Sinn Fein to the local IRA, if you will--was slaughtered in La Violencia.) She's even gotten together with Chavecito to talk to the FARC and persuade them to let people go regardless of whether there are formal talks or not. That's a tremendous achievement, especially when you consider that she's received death threats (from persons close to the Uribe government!) for doing so.

(Come to think of it, Chavecito would also have been a worthy nominee, since he was willing to work with the rescue effort, hands-on and cross-border, and even pledged Venezuelan military helicopters, bearing the Red Cross logo, to come and pick up the released persons. But can you imagine the hue and cry if his name were even breathed to the Nobel committee?)

Next up, from Bolivia, we have this true gentleman:

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...whose modest boss was too busy getting good things done to say very much, so Alvaro stepped in to do it for him:

The vice-president of Bolivia, Alvaro García Linera, congratulated US president Barack Obama for his Nobel prize on Friday, and considers it well deserved because the first black president in the White House "has done much" for the people of the United States in the months he has been in power.

"We salute and celebrate this winner of the peace Nobel, without doubt for a president who has done much for the rights of the people of the United States who have difficulties," said García during a press conference in the Palacio Quemado.

[...]

The merit of the designation is rooted, says García Linera, in the fact that Obama is navigating the rough seas of a politic dominated by powerful interests in the United States, contrary to his own ideology and politics.

"We see him as the prisoner of an imperial network which is automatically trying to override him, but beyond being president Barack Obama, prisoner of the imperial machinery, we extend our respectful salute, our congratulations, to president Obama for his win," said the vice-president.

Translation mine.

And now, from Honduras:

The National Resistance Front congratulates the president of the United States on his winning the Nobel Peace Prize and asked him to contribute to a solution in Honduras.

"We are sending Mr. Obama our congratulations today for winning such a high distinction," said Rafael Alegría, one of the co-ordinators of the popular movement to restore Honduran president Manuel Zelaya to his office.

He added that "now, Obama needs to intensify his efforts so that there will be peace in the world.

"We congratulate him, but at the same time, we call on him to contribute to a peaceful solution to the conflict in Honduras, because here, the situation is very delicate since the coup d'état."

Again, translation mine.

The Honduran National Resistance Front would have been another worthy recipient (and lord knows they can use the cash, that country's in dire economic shape.) The protests against the Gorilletti dictatorship (which, notably, has NOT issued a word of congratulation!) have been peaceful, even when the crackdown got violent. Why were they not even nominated?

Oh well. At least they did the classy thing. Now, let's hope His Barackness does the right thing.

October 9, 2009

It's Friday, ya bastards!

And you know what THAT means...

It means that Randi Rhodes is playing Rusty Warren on her show again!

A giant joke on the whole notion of world peace

"The Right to Live in Peace", by Víctor Jara. He wrote this song in honor of Vietnam when the war there was still raging. For speaking out for the Vietnamese, and for his own Chilean and Latin American brethren, Jara was "rewarded" by being one of the first to be rounded up and murdered by the Pinochet dictatorship in the infamous National Stadium in Santiago. The triggerman may well be brought to justice, but the real murderer--or, more accurately, murderers--got away with it.

Good morning! I guess you've all heard by now that His Barackness has just been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, which he'll be going to Oslo to claim on December 10. And I'll bet that you, like this lovely Venezuelan lady, are scratching your head over it and going "WTF???"

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The people's ombud of Venezuela, Gabriela Ramírez, said today that she considers it a joke on human rights to present the Nobel Peace Prize to the US president, Barack Obama, because he is the head of the most warlike government on the planet.

"We can only understand this if we accept the thesis that there are two Obamas--one the president of the United States, and the other, the idyllic one, who in his speeches promotes peace," Ramírez said.

For Ramírez, the award is incomprehensible, since it concerns the most polluting and militaristic country on the planet.

"The Nobel Peace prize is for those who work for the planet, not those who expand their war powers with seven military bases in Colombia, promote excessive consumption, and pollute the environment. How can they give a prize for all that?" she asked, on a VTV program.

According to Ramírez, the lack of concrete achievements during his reign is another reason to reject the decision announced from Norway.

Obama heads a fairly young government, whose results have yet to be seen in practice, she said.

Ramírez, a social worker by training, said that if the prize were given for speeches, Evo Morales, the president of Bolivia, would deserve one.

Evo proposed a climate tribunal and advocates for defense of the planet, Ramírez said.

Ramírez says that instead of accepting the prize, Obama should close the US military bases [in Latin America], order the 4th Fleet, which patrols Latin American waters, back to port, and seek pardon for genocides committed or permitted by his country in all the world.

Translation mine. Link to Evo's speech added.

I should also add that Evo kept Bolivia from crumbling in the hands of separatist terrorists planning his assassination, and a bloody civil war, from the city of Santa Cruz, with the help of wealthy local financiers. The bastards didn't get him, nor did they blow up his floating parliament on Lake Titicaca as they'd planned, but they did manage to kill his little elderly aunt, Rufina.

Meanwhile, to give you a feel for just how big and dirty a joke on world peace this cynical prize-giving really is, may I direct your attention to this fine piece, by NACLA's Roque Planas, in Venezuelanalysis?

The announcement in mid-July of the near completion of an agreement to allow the U.S. military to lease space at seven Colombian bases prompted nearly unanimous rejection from South American governments. The Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) has called three summit meetings to discuss the U.S.-Colombia Defense Cooperation Agreement, but Colombia's president, Álvaro Uribe, has refused to back down. In the meantime, other South American nations have begun to arm themselves, fueling fears of an arms race in a region that has not suffered a major inter-state conflict since the end of the Chaco War in 1935.

The source of greatest tension lies on the Venezuela-Colombian border. The Uribe administration argues that it needs increased U.S. military support to suppress drug traffickers and the leftist insurgency of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Although the Colombian government has yet to bring formal allegations, the Uribe administration has insinuated that Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez supports the FARC and has diverted Swedish-made rocket launchers to the group-a claim that Chávez denies.

Chávez, on the other hand, maintains that the U.S. government was involved in a 2002 coup to overthrow him and claims that the increased U.S. military presence constitutes a national security threat to Venezuela. Chávez recently announced that the Venezuelan government had been awarded over $2 billion in financing from the Russian government to purchase tanks and an anti-aircraft missile system.

Venezuela is not the only country investing in its military. The Brazilian government is currently negotiating the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets in a deal with French company Dassault that could be worth up to $7 billion. Three other companies, including Boeing, made unsuccessful offers.

The Bolivian government has also negotiated a much smaller deal with Russia for $100 million to finance unspecified purchases of military equipment, as well as a $30 million presidential plane. The Bolivian government purchased the current presidential plane back in the 1970s.

As if determined to rekindle memories of the Cold War, the Russian military is even going to "help Havana modernize and train its military," according to a recent report from the Miami Herald.

Linkage as in original.

It bears saying that all this "alarming" arming comes not as part of some nefarious terror plot against the people of Latin America, nor is it a declaration of war against those in the United States. It comes as a direct response to the military forces the US has placed in Colombia--seven of them to make up for the closure of the US base at Manta, Ecuador. (President Rafael Correa, alias El Ecuadorable, refused to renew the concession, which ran out this year.)

It also comes in response to other alarming developments, such as this:

The United States will reactivate a radar base and finance the construction of a naval base in Costa Rica, as part of a plan rejected today [October 8,2009] in the region as a menace to sovereignty and security.

The subcommander of US-Southcom, Paul Trivelli, announced the decision to return to operation a modern radar base in the Costa Rican province of Guanacaste, with the supposed objective of combatting drug trafficking.

According to Trivelli, the base functioned there until 1995, when it was closed after several years of operation.

The powerful radar sat on top of Cerro Azul de Nandayure, a site difficult to access, protected 24 hours a day by the police.

In an interview with the newspaper La Nación, Trivelli also announced the investment of $15 million in a naval base already being constructed in the Caldera region, Puntarenas province. There, as well, a school for coast-guard officers is in operation.

Although the Southcom representative claims that these actions are part of the War on Drugs, the announcement caused concern over the renewed interest of Washington in placing more military bases in the region.

Translation mine.

This is a particular concern for Costa Rica, since that country abolished its own armed forces six decades ago, in stark contrast to others in the region, in order to prevent war and military dictatorship from ever taking hold in what was, for the longest time, Central America's most stable and peaceable democracy.

Now, it seems, Costa Rica is defenceless, and since it needs the money (why else has it become such a hotspot for sex tourism?), it's not in any position to "Just Say No" to the War on Latin America Drugs. Instead, it's playing host to something that can only be injurious to its security and sovereignty in the long run (as well as providing heaven only knows how many potential new gringo customers for the local underage prostitution rings.)

The war in Iraq is far from over, and the war in Afghanistan is being ramped up, not wound down. And for this, among many other things, a Nobel Peace Prize has been announced today.

No, I don't understand it either.

PS: El Duderino shares my sentiments, I see.

PPS: So does El Gaviero.

PPPS: Michael Moore has weighed in. Go read! An excellent, timely reminder of what has to be done to earn the prize for realz.

PPPPS: Avaaz has a petition going. Just sign here.

Festive Left Friday Blogging: A little Ecuadorable interview

Bonus: Smart Goodlooking has a book coming out. And, unlike Sarah Palin, he wrote the whole intelligent thing himself. Neener, neener.

October 8, 2009

Tu querida presencia, Comandante...

A documentary of the life of Che Guevara. On this, the anniversary of his assassination by the CIA's thugs in Bolivia, it's useful to know who he really was, and why the moneyed interests wanted him dead. Contrary to popular misconception, it's not because he was a "monster" who wanted to start a "third world war". It's because he was a humanitarian doctor who, by his own choice, saw life through the eyes of those whom capitalism would rather have us forget. And, when peaceful revolution became impossible, he was among the first to recognize the importance of fighting back. Those who thought he would die when killed, must be mortified to realize that they've only managed to make a martyr...and awaken the very social conscience that they had hoped to stifle forever.

Hasta siempre, Comandante.

An important reminder of why the IMF is not to be trusted. ANYWHERE.

The Take, by Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis, in its entirety.

While Argentina's politicians and public officials go on sucking donkey balls, its ordinary working people are showing us a new way--how to fire the boss (and the IMF) and still make enough to live on and prosper.

October 7, 2009

Stupid (anti-)Sex Tricks: Please abstain from posting statistics

abstinence-statistical-fail.jpg

Fact: Pro-abstinence statistics are 100% stupid, 100% of the time. What do you suppose their failure rate is, based on that?

An ironic death in Russia

From La Jornada (of Mexico) via Aporrea, an item both ironic and sobering about what has become of Russian glasnost:

Journalists, politicians and many ordinary readers of Izvestia, the daily newspaper which marked a crucial period in Russian history, attended a funeral on Tuesday for Igor Golembiovsky at Royekurovskoye cemetery.

Golembiovsky, a symbol of freedom of expression along with Yegor Yakovlev, of the weekly paper Moskovskiye Novosti, and Vitali Korotich, of the weekly Ogoniok--reached fame in the years prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union, and in the 1990s.

Golembiovsky, who died a few days after his 74th birthday, was buried in the same cemetery as Anna Politkovskaya, who was assassinated three years ago by a gunman.

But Golembiovsky, one of the architects of glasnost in the days of Mikhail Gorbachev, did not die of an assassin's bullets; his brilliant journalistic career at an end, sick and marginalized, as a victim of the market economy, the same he had always promoted as a viable alternative to socialism.

In the early 1980s, in the days of Yuri Andropov, Golembiovsky, considered a "problematic" journalist, was sent to Mexico as a correspondent for Izvestia. He lived his first exile there until, at the end of Konstantin Chernenko's reign, with Gorbachev in power, he was able to return to Moscow as bureau chief of that newspaper.

Even during his days as sub-director, in 1990, the new Communist party hierarchs, and above all the most conservative ideological wing, considered Golembiovsky "too liberal" and sent him to Spain. A few months later, he quit as correspondent and asked to return to Moscow to become a columnist for the paper.

On August 23, 1991, two days after the failed coup against Gorbachev, Golembiovsky became editor-in-chief of Izvestia, elected to the post by the same journalists and newspaper workers who, in an assembly, proclaimed themselves independent of the Supreme Soviet, which until then had financed them.

With the help of Boris Yeltsin, whose government he did not hesitate to criticize when in his opinion there were reasons, Golembiovsky led Izvestia to its golden age, with a daily press run of 11 million copies. Unlike some editors, who enriched themselves by appropriating the infrastructure inherited from the Soviet era, Golembiovsky wanted the paper to finance itself as a limited corporation, dividing earnings between journalists and workers, as well as attracting important capitalist partners who, gradually, took control of the enterprise.

In 1997 the powerful lost patience with the criticisms. Golembiovsky, true to his journalistic convictions, considered it worth reproducing an article from the French periodical, Le Monde, which attributed to the then prime minister of Russia, Viktor Chernomyrdin, an estimated personal fortune of some $5 billion US.

The permier flew into a rage and demanded that the corporations Lukoil and the Oneximbank, majority shareholders in Izvestia, fire Golembiovsky. Along with him, a number of journalists left, and a short time later, they founded Noviye Izvestia, a new paper financed by magnate Boris Berezovsky, formerly a member of Yeltsin's inner circle.

But Berezovsky came to grief in a personal confrontation with Vladimir Putin. Golembiovsky had to leave Noviye Izvestia in 2003, after the Kremlin launched a palace coup in its editorial department and several members of the old team abandoned him to his fate.

Still, Golembiovsky found the strength to start a new paper, the Russky Kurier, which soon had to close because it could not withstand the pressures of the authorities, judicial charges on all manner of pretexts, and the growing advertiser boycott launched against it.

All these battles took their toll on his health and, in 2005, after suffering an embolism, Golembiovsky became bedridden, but still remained lucid and interested in the political situation in Russia, without ever losing his irrepressible sense of irony.

As luck would have it, the funeral of Golembiovsky, always in solidarity with critical voices, would coincide with the date on which a lower-court judge in Moscow exonerated the president of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, of all responsibility for the murder of Natalia Estemirova, a human-rights activist from the Memorial organization, kidnapped and executed in the Chechen capital city of Grozny last July 15. The director of Memorial, Oleg Orlov, accused Kadyrov of ordering Estemirova's death, and, in the face of the obvious impossibility of presenting conclusive proof, the judge ordered the organization to publish a retraction on its web page and pay Kadyrov the ruble equivalent of $2.3 million US in damages. Memorial plans to appeal the sentence.

Translation mine.

Aporrea headlined this piece as "Russian journalist, architect of glasnost, dies a victim of the market economy." I'd say that sounds about right.

RIP Igor Golembiovsky, ironic victim of the very policies he had every reason, at the time anyway, to believe would be successful. If only he had known...

Honduras: The numbers are in...

...and they do not look good for Gorilletti:

honduras-poll.jpg

Chart by Otto; figures by NarcoNews and Honduras Coup 2009, which also offers the following insights:

51% of those polled support the return of President Zelaya, and while 33% oppose it, this is far lower than the claimed overwhelming majority support cited by all those angry email writers [who claimed that a majority of Hondurans supported the coup].

Assessments of the favorable/unfavorable ratings in the same poll show President Zelaya and First Lady Xiomara Castro de Zelaya as the two most favorably judged political figures in the country.

Someone get Rep Aaron Schock, Sen Jim DeMint, and Connie Mack on the phone-- I am sure they will want to revise their mischaracterizations of Honduran popular opinion.

And meanwhile, those of us hearing every day from concerned Hondurans against the coup, and for the restoration of constitutional government, can rest assured that this is the actual majority opinion.

To the repeated question, what were the coup authors afraid of on June 28? we now have the answer: the truth.

And now we know why anti-coup Hondurans have taken Liliana Felipe's anthem to fearlessness as their battle hymn, too:

When truth and majority opinion are on your side, you have no fear--but your enemies have much to fear from you! That's why Gorilletti has NOT rescinded the crackdown, but maintains it to this day.

Culture vultures: Peru haz them.

Oh, for SHAME:

peru-theft.jpg

If you go to Peru to see the Gate of the Sun, you will be sorely disappointed. You have to cross the border into BOLIVIA. That's where you will actually find Tiwanaku and this ancient indigenous landmark.

If you ever wondered why Bolivians complain so much about Peruvians stealing their cultural patrimony, the answer is simple: Because that's just what happens. Happens all the time. Never mind that Peru has Machu Picchu, Cuzco and all those other Inca treasures, which ought to make them feel pretty damn secure about their own cultural patrimony. No, they just won't be content until they claim all the Quechua and Aymara treasures too...and if that means a stealth-plundering of Bolivia, so be it.

Good luck getting that big, heavy stone gate across the border, though, guys.

October 6, 2009

Sometimes I sits and LOLs...

...and sometimes I just sits.

And now, the weather report from Tegucigolpe...

It's getting awful nuts out there, and the forecast calls for a continuous torrential downpour of bullshit both in Honduras and abroad...

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"Nobody is above the law. I repeat: MY 'law'."

Awww, isn't it cute how Gorilletti still thinks he's a real president? And that HE gets to say what's legal and what's not in Honduras?

Couple of fun and frivolous articles from Aporrea to show you just how desperetti Gorilletti is getting. First, this one:

The dictator of Honduras, Roberto Micheletti, said today that those responsible for having removed president Manuel Zelaya from the country--whom he did not identify--would be taken before a court of law and "punished".

"I am totally certain that they will be brought to tribunals, as corresponds to whatever mistake was made," in expelling Zelaya from the country, Micheletti said.

Micheletti reiterated that "a mistake was made" in sending Zelaya to Costa Rica after his removal from office on June 28, because the Honduran constitution "protects the presence of Hondurans, without extradition, in the country." However, on July 5, Micheletti used all means to prevent Zelaya's return via Tocontín airport.

In an interview with the Brazilian magazine Veja, which came out on Sunday, Micheletti declared that "the military should have taken Zelaya before the tribunals, but they decided to remove him from the country to avoid bloodshed.

"For that reason, they took him to Costa Rica. In Honduras there is no secure enough prison for him," said Micheletti, making excuses for this particular point.

Translation mine.

Now, this one:

The de facto president of Honduras, Robert Micheletti, accused Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez of promoting hatred among Hondurans, and said that the "Gorillettis" are democrats who will keep him from "putting his boots" in that Central American country.

"I want to tell you that Gorilletti--the moniker Chávez uses--is a group of men and women democrats who will not permit him to put his Venezuelan boots in this poor but dignified country."

[...]

"I say to him and all those who attack me that I harbor no rancor in my heart, that I pray to God that he will forgive them for all the damage that they are doing to their people."

Again, translation mine.

Unfortunately, it's not just Gorilletti spouting that; Alexandre Marinis (who he?) of Bloomberg has swallowed the crap holus-bolus:

If Honduras descends into civil war, we can thank Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and credit Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva with an assist.

Pushing the Central American nation to the brink is precisely what Chavez accomplished when he persuaded Lula to welcome ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya inside the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa, the capital, last month.

Reasonable people can argue whether Zelaya deserved to be tossed out of office. The fact is his ouster was legal, according to a detailed report issued by the U.S. Congressional Research Service.

The Honduran Congress has the authority to rebuke the president and decide constitutional intent, the report says. "In the case against Zelaya, the National Congress interpreted the power to disapprove of the conduct of the president to encompass the power to remove him from office, based on the results of a special, extensive investigation," it states.

Chavez and Lula engaged in wise-guy diplomacy. Their actions violated international laws by helping Zelaya enter the country illegally. And they disrupted the economy of Central America's second-poorest country, which was already reeling from the global economic crisis.

Besides acting unethically, the two Latin leaders showed they aren't serious diplomats. We'll see if this inaugurates a new era in which Brazil and Venezuela throw their weight around and increasingly interfere with their neighbors' politics. If so, they will resemble the U.S., which Latin leaders have long criticized for butting into the region's internal affairs by propping up or taking out national leaders.

Better wipe your lips, Alex, you've got a real Dirty Sanchez going on there. I don't know why you're in bed with a dictator, but if I were you, I'd be seeking medical attention for my sore ass. The "bend the constitution" lie has already been debunked, as has the "it's all legal" one.

The "legality" one has been debunked most recently by none other than Desperetti, as you can see above. He admits it was a crime, but he won't name who's up for the punishment, because that would be to incriminate himself above all the rest. Meanwhile, he's stalling and spinning so that the scheduled elections can proceed from a totally illegitimate footing.

And Mel Zelaya, the real president of Honduras, incidentally, has also piped up to the effect that the state of siege, in which all constitutional guarantees are nil, is still on. And will be until those farcical "elections" go down, apparently. Call THAT "democracy"? At this rate, Honduras will have to revert to its old coat of arms:

honduran-coat-of-arms.jpg

PS: NPR actually managed to report things fairly and accurately, and rebut the putschists with facts. Is there hope for the US media after all, or is this just a rare glitch that will be covered up in haste?

Holy mac, the Axis of Evo is spacebound!

tupac-satellite.jpg

Simón Bolívar, the Venezuelan satellite, is about to get some company in orbit. And his baby brother's name is Tupac Katari:

A tripartite commission attended by representatives of the governments of Bolivia and China and the International Telecommunications Union (UIT) will meet in La Paz in late October to discuss the construction and launch of the Tupac Katari satellite, according to the Minister of Public Works, Walter Delgadillo.

Delgadillo said that the commission will evaluate technological proposals and will identify means of financing the Bolivian satellite so that it will be in orbit in no more than 36 months.

"The Government has decided to create a Bolivian Space Agency to define the process, timeline and activities to launch Tupac Katari into orbit," said Delgadillo.

He added that the business and governmental entities that will be using the satellite's channels are currently spending a total of $10 million US.

"When Bolivia has its own satellite, these costs will be reduced by half, not including the added value of using it for various activities which will sustain development," Delgadillo said.

The total cost of the satellite, according to preliminary estimations, will require an investment of $200-300 million US.

Translation mine.

Yep, it's looking more and more like Evo is the Little Injun That Could...put Bolivia in orbit.

Now, why couldn't any of his white, neoliberal-capitalist predecessors think of something like that?

October 5, 2009

Justice in the works at last for the victims of the Caracazo, Yumare and Cantaura

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A truck carries coffins of the victims of the Caracazo to a mass grave somewhere in Caracas, Venezuela, early March, 1989.

Venezuela is making major progress in unearthing the truth about several political killings of the "democratic" 40 years of the Punto Fijo era, that false golden age that the oppos are doing their damnedest to bring back. Two of the worst massacres, after the Caracazo of 1989, are those of Cantaura and Yumare from the early- to mid-1980s, in which bodies of the tortured and disappeared were buried in mass graves that, until recently, remained untouched. Here's the latest on the Cantaura massacre investigations:

This Sunday marks the 27th anniversary of the Cantaura Massacre, in which 400 members of the Armed Forces and dozens of officers of the General Directorate of Intelligence and Prevention Services (DISIP), with the help of Caberra and Bronco airplanes from the Air Force, cruelly murdered 25 Venezuelans.

The actions began at 5:30 am on October 4, 1982. They were part of a military operation already underway, whose objective was to destroy a presumed guerrilla camp of the Américo Silva Front, which at the time was in an uprising against the government of then-president Luís Herrera Campins (1979-83).

The victims were all between the ages of 16 and 30, and the majority were shot in the back of the head.

The dead have been identified as follows:

Roberto Rincón Cabrera
Emperatriz Guzmán Cordero
Carmen Rojas García
Sor Alonso Salazar
José Núñez
Mauricio Tejada
Enrique Márquez Velásquez
Carlos Hernández Arzola
Idemar Castillo
Luisa Estévez Arranz
Baudilio Herrera Veracierto
José Becerra Navarro
Eumenedis Ysoida Gutiérrez Rojas
Diego Carrasquel
Luis Gómez
Antonio Echegarreta
Eusebio Martel Daza
Rubén Castro Batista
Nelson Pacín Callazo
Carlos Zambrano Mira
Beatriz Jiménez
Julio Faría Mejía

In response to the families of the victims, the Public Ministry re-opened the case in 2006. To date, 23 new investigations have been conducted, in order to gather sufficient evidence to establish criminal responsibilities in the massacre of Cantaura, in the state of Anzoátegui.

[...]

With these materials, the National Assembly, by way of Reinaldo García, the president of the Human Rights Subcommission, proposed the creation of a Truth Commission to advance investigations into the political killings and disappearances of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

The parliament also designated a commission of deputies to investigate and establish civil and administrative responsibilities regarding the victims, disappeared ones and torture victims of the Cantaura, Yumare and Caracazo massacres, among others.

The commission plans to develop an Organic Law for the Classification and Declassification of Documents and Videos to open the archives of the military and police forces.

Reinaldo García said that, along with the discussion of the Truth and Justice Law, the commission would continue exhuming the bodies of the victims, and would not forget the restitution payments for the survivors and family members.

Translation mine.

For those who can read Spanish, there's an interview here with Luís Machado, one of six survivors of the Yumare massacre of 1986, and a victims' rights advocate. The document can be downloaded in PDF form and comes courtesy of Ciudad Caracas.

And in English, Venezuelanalysis has a progress report on the latest investigations into the deaths of the Caracazo. Official figures from the time of the massacre put the death count at around three hundred, but this is widely believed to be a gross underestimate, with the true number being in the thousands.

To get some idea of the mayhem the Caracazo unleashed, here's a little YouTube (with music from Argentina's own Bersuit Vergarabat):

The lyrics are very appropriate. The chorus goes:

Here comes the explosion
Here comes the explosion
Of my guitar
And your government
As well.

And if you should have any doubt
I've come to grips with what's so hard
If this is not a dictatorship,
What is it?
What is it?

Ah yes, the glorious "democracy" of the Fourth Republic. Who misses it? And is this what lies in store for Honduras under its own current faux-democratic dictatorship? Hell, no--Honduras is living it already.

Se viene el estallido...

"Non-lethal" weapons: Not so in Honduras!

A Telesur report in Spanish (with some clips in English from US sources) on how the so-called "non-lethal" weapons used against pro-democracy demonstrators recently in Honduras are anything but. They show the face of Wendy Avila, who died after inhaling toxic "tear" gas near the Brazilian embassy, where Gorilletti's thugs set off gas canisters against the people who were protecting the haven of their legitimate president.

If it kills, it's not "non-lethal" or even "less lethal". It's LETHAL.

And it's time to stop pretending otherwise.

Colombian 6-year-old predicts attempt on Obama's life

The prediction was made in late May, and Oliver says that in five months the attempt will come. That means end of this month--October. Given the fever-pitch of fascist hate being drummed up against The Hawaiian, I'd say the timing sounds about right. We've already seen one fundie nut bring his gun to a meeting where Obama spoke.

Let's hope this attempt fails. Better still, let's hope that this is the one time in every thirty predictions that little Oliver is wrong!

October 4, 2009

Even More Music for a Sunday: A farewell with applause

For Mercedes "La Negra" Sosa, who passed away today in Argentina. A survivor so many times over gives thanks to life with her awe-inspiring contralto voice, which spoke out against military dictatorship and for freedom.

A voice that survives...

...wherever she came to offer her heart.

Who said that all is lost?

More Music for a Sunday: So pretty, so plagiarized

The other day, El Duderino uncovered a shocker: A German group called Cordalis (a father/son/daughter group apparently, never heard of 'em till now) has plagiarized this beautiful song by Bolivia's revered folk group, Kalamarka:

...which I took it on myself to translate. (Apologies if the Aymara words are wrong, I found several different versions and just went with the ones that looked most like what I heard.)

Cuando Florezca el Chuño (When The Potatoes Are In Bloom)

If your parents hate me now
It's because I did you so wrong
If my panpipes don't whistle now
It's because you've been gone so long

They say you're coming back, come back
Like the river to the lake
They say you're coming back, come back
Like the river to the lake

Human pi, kayan pi
When the potatoes are in bloom
Augua yogua
When the potatoes are in bloom

Don't tell me you've forgotten
The land where you were born
Don't tell me you've forgotten
The land where you were born

They say you're coming back, come back
Like the river to the lake
They say you're coming back, come back
Like the river to the lake

Human pi, kayan pi
When the potatoes are in bloom
Augua yogua
When the potatoes are in bloom

As you can see, it's a very succinct, compact song about lost love and--not coincidentally--betrayal of country. The lover mourns his sweetheart, who has left not only him, but all of her native Bolivia behind. This is kind of interesting when you consider what Cordalis has done to it:

Gawd...even for a German Schlager (a very cheesy genre--it means, roughly, "hit parade"), that's just low.

I wanted to translate the lyrics to show you just how banal they are compared to the original, but I can't find them anywhere on the web now. I don't suppose it matters. The irony of ripping off a very Bolivian love song about not forgetting one's roots, and turning it into a generic, globalized "dance" tune with hackneyed lyrics, should be apparent anyoldhow.

EDIT, October 28: See comments below. I've learned (thanks, Maria Eugenia!) that the chorus can now be translated as follows:

They say you're coming back, you'll be back Like the river to the lake Me with you, you with me When the dried potatoes bloom...

Which makes me wonder if she'll ever be back. It's an ironic statement, as my commenter points out, because rivers only flow one way and can't go back to their headwaters again. Unless it evaporates, the river won't be coming back; dried potatoes, for obvious reasons, can't bloom. In other words, it's a song about futility and being unable to come home again. Even more poignant when you consider how many Bolivian campesinos, particularly indigenous ones from the Altiplano, have had to migrate to the cities and lowlands in order not to starve to death as the glaciers and alpine lakes dry up due to climate change (a product of capitalism).

I love a song that makes me think (as well as being so lovely!), even if it ends up making my head and heart ache...

Music for a Sunday: You can't say that on television!

Wanna bet? Dame pa' Matala can:

And they look so cute doing it, too!

October 3, 2009

Wankers of the Week: Honduran siege edition

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Mel's back in (and still waiting in the Brazilian embassy); Gorilletti (love the monkey feet!) isn't out yet. Honduras has now gone three months without democratic leadership. Here's who's fapping about it this week:

1. Lewis Fucking Anselem. Is this the best the US can do for a diplomat?

At an emergency meeting of the Organization of American States to discuss the Honduran face-off, Lewis Anselem, the U.S. ambassador to the OAS, also criticized Honduras' de facto government for its "deplorable" action in barring entry of an OAS mission and declaring a state of siege on Sunday.

Anselem also criticized Zelaya for fueling violence by slipping back into Honduras last week and holing up in the Brazilian Embassy, from where he has called on his supporters to take to the streets.

"The return of Zelaya absent an agreement is irresponsible and foolish ... He should cease and desist from making wild allegations and from acting as though he were starring in an old movie," Anselm said.

Anselem urged the de facto government to handle security with "restraint and caution" and called on Zelaya to "exercise leadership" and urge his supporters to express their views peacefully.

Yo, Lew? They ARE expressing their views peacefully. The violence is coming from Gorilletti's boys, who are under orders to repress their views peacelessly. What would you call it when cops shoot an unarmed kid to death from behind, just for calling them what they are--putschists?

And what is this "old movie" shit? This is the legitimate, elected president of Honduras you're talking about. He has a right to be there, and what's more, he has a right to return to his desk and finish out his term. As I've shown quite clearly here, his statements are NOT "wild allegations", they are calmly stated FACTS. Facts which cast your own country in a very suspicious light, given its lackadaisical response (and the ongoing presence of Lanny Fucking Davis outside of prison walls).

Gee, Lew, do you think maybe YOU could cut out the wild allegations and remember that YOU are not the sheriff in this cowboy flick?

BTW, Sister Dianna Ortiz, whose rape and torture in Guatemala you covered up (among other nasty things), would be justified in thinking you're a wanker too.

PS: Honduras also thinks you're a dick.

2. Tom Fucking Ryan. For giving Honduras even more ridiculous "advice" than the above:

As much as the government of Honduras wishes to silence the media and place Zelaya in a cone of seclusion, the social networks will once again show the world a new power to inform and narrate. Zelaya should relax and let the people decide this peacefully with tweets, blogs, picture uploads, and social network postings with nudges.

Oh yeah, brilliant idea, Tom! When the vast majority of Zelaya supporters are too poor to own computers, don't speak/write English, and are constantly getting their electricity cut by the putschists (and cellphone service likewise), yeah, the future of Honduras will be decided by the chattering classes who Twitter, all right...FROM MIAMI. Where protests like this can take place...

...only to be conveniently ignored by those whom they inconvenience only slightly. And to be vilified by the right-wing mafia that rules the city, and which has Washington's ear to this day.

3. Bianca Fucking Micheletti. Will someone kindly explain to me how the dictator's daughter gets cleared to land at Tocontín Airport when no one else does, not even diplomats of the OAS? And while you're at it, could you please explain to me why it took the US so long to kick her and her putschist girlfriends out?

4. Peter Fucking Schechter. How the hell does a crappy thriller-writer come to be a PR flack for the Honduran dictatorship? Easy. He writes crappy fiction. It's second nature to him to fictionalize the crappy dictators! But of course, the pay is much better this time 'round. Stands to reason: the dictator and his cronies are all Honduran oligarchs. A $292,000 contract is chicken feed to them. They can easily afford this penny-dreadful dreckwriter, or ten of him.

5. Matt Fucking Gurney. Most brain-dead "pundit" ever? Possibly. A wanker? Definitely. Of course he "writes" (if you can call it that) for the National Post, which is arguably Canada's Worst Newspaper. Somehow, that doesn't surprise me, either. Maybe he and Wanker #4 can get together sometime and craft a coherent PR strategy for the Honduran dictatorship; lord knows they're both overpaid apologists for it already!

6. and 7. Eduardo Fucking Azeredo and José Fucking Sarney. Excuse me, guys, but you're not the president of Brazil. Lula is. You're not the foreign minister, either. Celso Amorim is. You don't get to decide whether Mel Zelaya gets to use the embassy as a refuge; Lula and Amorim do. Your whining and carping are giving aid and comfort to a foreign military dictatorship. Have you forgotten what it was like when your own country was under one? Apparently, you have. That's what makes you wankers this week.

8. The Fucking Dissociated Press. For repeatedly referring to the Gorilletti dictatorship as an "interim government" when it is nothing of the sort. Are they being paid to legitimize these bastards too? Sure smells that way.

9. William Fucking Ratliff. Nice job of completely obfuscating the law, Ratty. Of course, it's easy to do that when you're writing for Forbes--another publication geared explicitly to defending the interests of ruling-class types, oligarchs, and other rich idiots. Try living as Hondurans on the ground do, and you'll soon see what's wrong with your bogus legalistic argument. The fact is, there WAS a coup. And this is what's being done to keep the illegal "interim government" in place:

No coup, eh? Funny, but such authoritarianism doesn't ever follow full, free democratic elections. It can't, because in a democracy, it's the people who rule and the politicians who serve (not the other way around). It does, however, follow coups--palace or military. (Or in this case, both.)

10. Sara Fucking Miller Llana. Oh look, the CS Monitor's resident idiot-about-LatAm has piped up to the general effect that Gorilletti must not be such a bad guy, because he "dramatically dialed back his tough rhetoric" one day after erasing all civil liberties in Honduras. Well, duh, Sara! The reason he did it is because he no longer has to talk tough; he's got cops shooting unarmed kids in the back, and soldiers tear-gassing and sonically harassing the Brazilian embassy. In other words, he's shifted from tough talk to ugly action. Do you need a deadly lungful of cyanide-laced "tear" gas to drive it home to you just what a bad guy he really is, Sara?

11. Philip Fucking Crowley. Backpedal, backpedal, backpedal all you like. You can't "unsay" what's been said by Lew Fucking Anselem, especially if it's stupid!

seen-unseen.jpg

12. Romeo Fucking Vásquez. Fascist dickweed general blames ordinary Hondurans for the violence that's broken out, completely ignoring his own role in spearheading the military coup. Did I mention he's also a professional car thief? Don't expect film at 11, the lamestream media will never cover that.

13. Fucking Miami morons. They're not just ex-Hondurans, but ex-Cubans demonstrating there. Figures that the Miami Whore gives them sympathetic coverage. Their most moronic slogan? "Elections yes, Zelaya no". Pardon me, but elections put Zelaya in office. The one led to the other; you can't have it both ways. If your candidate loses, tough luck--that's democracy!

14. Hillary Fucking Clinton. Yes, I've finally come to truly despise that woman. It took me a long time and a lot of benefit-of-the-doubting, but now, I'm there, baby. See Wanker #1, read through all those appalling links, and then ask yourself how someone can on the one hand listen to the sufferings of Dianna Ortiz, and on the other, KNOWINGLY keep a rumor-mongering, vicious scumbucket like Lew Anselem on the payroll of the State Dept. (which I know reads this blog!) One simply cannot do it--unless one is one helluva sold-out wanker. Welcome to the Wank Club, Hill!

15. Adolfo Fucking Facussé. Shouldn't it be him, and not Mel Zelaya, going on trial for his part in this blood-stinking coup? In a just and truly democratic world, it would be. But the term "democracy" has once more been hijacked by greedheads in Honduras, so don't look for it to happen anytime soon. This "recommendation" is not a "compromise", it's just another putsch.

16. The fucking lamestream media. Still toadying to putschists. Not surprising, either, since the biggest Honduran newspaper (and coup cheerleader) is owned by a putschist. Hey, it's not just third-rate thriller writers doing PR for this trainwreck--it's seventh-rate stenographers, too!

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16 1/2. And the "concerned" trolls at the FAIR blog are also doing their part to promote this bad fiction. How touching!

17. Jim Fucking DeMint. For going on a treasonous "fact-finding" mission to Honduras...which was only to demonstrate support for the coup, as anyone with eyes can see. Please tell me he did NOT do this on the public dime...and if he did, please tell me he can be impeached. In fact, why not just impeach him anyway, parasite that he is?

18. Ileana Fucking Ros-Lehtinen. The would-be Castro-killer is, naturally, Gorilletti's bitch. (She's a bitch anyway, but it would take all day to count the ways, so let's not go there.)

19. John Fucking Bolton. Srsly, who cares what the Sheepdog "thinks" about Honduras, or anything else for that matter? FUX Snooze does, but then, they're putschists too. And right at home, yet.

20. Neil Fucking Reider. Since when is it a Canadian ambassador's job to shill for elections under a putschist regime? Since NEVER. This recognition bullshit has gone far enough. (Harpo is Wanker 20 1/2 for not withdrawing all Canadian diplomats from Honduras the week of the putsch.)

21. Roberto Fucking Dickeletti Gorilletti Pinochetti Micheletti. Bitch, please--the "I'll take my ball and just go home" gambit only works when you're away from home. You can't do it to foreign diplomats--especially not since you're as illegitimate as a medieval pope's kid. Even if Mel dies tomorrow--and he'd better not, or even more blood will be on YOUR hands--it still won't make YOU president.

And finally, a shout-out and shut-up to Jasper the village idiot and resident communion-wine bibber, who thinks Mel is a "Marxist dictator" and wonders why I support him (and Chavecito). Duh, because they're both elected, because it's the will of the people, and because it fucks up the shit of right-wing dictator-loving idiots like you, dude. What better reason?

Good night, and get fucked.

Alan Grayson: my latest hero

Watch him speak truth to power (and powerful insurance lobbying interests):

Then, watch all the Repugnican heads EXPLODING.

And toward the end, you can hear Dubya and his buh-rilliunt catch-all solution. Emergency Pap tests, ladies? How 'bout a mammogram in the ER? Next thing you know, emergency prenatal care will be all the rage, as will emergency chemo and radiotherapy for that cancer. Just leave everything till it gets so bad that you'll HAVE to go there and nowhere else. If you're lucky, you might survive, only to get a sticker-shock bill in the end because you weren't sick enough, or poor enough, to qualify for truly free care.

"Die quickly." Yeah, like IN EMERG. Dubya recommends it, therefore it must be just what the doctor ordered. And a lot of conservatards are now repeating it all over the Internets.

Fuck you, tards--that shit would never fly in Canada. Single-payer healthcare is so sacred up here, even the Conservative Party--as full of right-wing and free-trade crap as the Repugs, but wussier, and rightly afraid of popular opinion--won't touch it, much less re-privatize the whole system. They'd be voted into oblivion if they even laid a finger.

Information Is Beautiful: Wonktacular fun with factoids

I've been asked before how I manage to find all the awesome stuff that makes it to this blog. Well, some of it I ferret out myself. But for other bits, I have awesome friends forwarding me stuff. Like today, when my best friend sent me this link--Information Is Beautiful. Even if you're not a chart-wonk, you've got to be impressed with the handiwork of those who are. My fave chart? This one here:

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I'm embarrassed at the failing grade my home and native land gets on meeting Kyoto emissions goals (read the bottom row and weep, my fellow Canadians--we are the scum de la scum, after the US which never signed on to Kyoto. Thanks a pantload, Harpo!)

But all the same, I love the "target" presentation. Very effective. Bull's-eye! And blogrolled. Thanks to P.!

Stupid Sex Tricks: No wonder George Sodini killed himself

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Remember this post of mine from August? Remember what prompted it? And remember how a certain loose (hey hey!) "community" of pick-up "artists" (and I use the term loosely) lost their collective shit over the negative exposure they got as a result--and then proceeded to justify all the negative exposure and then some?

Well, it seems that these misogynists had something to get all defensive about: their "art", or "game", is all bullshit and virtually guaranteed to fail big-time. It's a massive waste of time, money, effort, and self-esteem. And in the hands of the wrong person--someone even worse than your typical misogynist, someone downright mentally unsound (like, oh, say, George Sodini)--it can be a recipe for suicide as well.

But I'm getting ahead of myself a bit here. Let's give the floor to Caitlin MacRae, writing for Nerve.com, to demonstrate just how well "The Game" doesn't work:

Success, according to these [pick-up] manuals, is one of three results, known as "closes": the number-close, the kiss-close, and the f-close. Get a number, get smooched, get laid. Frankly, I will be stoked if I close the experiment without a panic attack; anything else is a bonus.

Your scientist would like to disclose a bias before we begin: prior to engaging in this experiment, I strongly believed that mainstream advice guides were based on little more than misogyny and an eager exploitation of the insecure. I recoiled from materials that treated men and women as irreconcilably alien from one another, and which suggested that little more than snake oil and manipulation is required to bed them.

However, I was also hot off the heels of a number of breakups -- one with a person, another with cigarettes -- and had no real notion of how to function socially without the latter. I was hard up for a release; this seemed as good an avenue as any.

It takes guts to try something like this at such an emotionally volatile time. But at the same time, what better time to try it than when one is between relationships, and therefore has nothing (and no one) to lose?

And MacRae deserves some kudos, too, for stepping outside her normal boundaries to test the "fake it till you make it" techniques of the pick-up dudes--on women as well as men. It's not easy to abandon good sense and taste to dress up like a douchebag (the guys call this "peacocking") and hit on random strangers. Especially not when you consider that the douchebag get-up has to come with a matching attitude:

More problematic is the culture surrounding these basics, as described in detail in Neil Strauss's The Game. It's a culture that describes women as "targets," that calls a mission to go meet women "sarging" (named after a certain veteran PUA's cat, Sarge. Pussy! Clever!), that refers to a woman's desire not to be approached by strangers as her "bitch shield," that encourages making women feel bad about themselves as they are being hit on, so as to make oneself seem larger and more important (a tactic called the "neg"). It speaks glowingly of men who (allegedly -- there is a lot of ego here) have manipulated their partners into plastic surgery and sex work, encourages "going caveman," and provides this gem of an acronym:

LMR -- noun [last-minute resistance]: an occurrence, often after kissing, in which a woman who desires a man prevents him, through words or actions, from progressing towards a more intimate sexual contact, such as removing her bra, putting his hand down her pants, or penetration.

Um, yeah.

Actually, what they call LMR isn't just "last-minute resistance" to something that's gonna happen anyway--it's called withdrawing consent. It's not a sign of to-be-overcome "resistance" to a man she actually desires--it means she doesn't desire him at all. It means she's had enough already, or even that she's gotten uncomfortable with this phony and his sleazy antics. She doesn't want more manhandling from the "master" to "help" her "overcome" her "LMR". She only wants him out of her pants N-O-W. Meaning, for all you unclued-in dudes out there, if you disregard her verbal or nonverbal stop signs and keep pushing your luck (or salient parts of your anatomy), you're basically headed for date rape.

So, to enter the world of pick-up "artistry", you don't just have to abandon your dignity and good taste at the door, you also have to doff all respect for the woman, as well as the law. You can kind of see what's hinky about all this now, eh?

But still, MacRae remains game (yes, pun intended). She invents a "player" persona for herself, calls this new and totally not-self "Cash", and tries it on for size:

Since a major part of attracting mates is standing out from the competition, I dressed in a style both flamboyant and outsized, a la VH1's Mystery: gold lamé pants, a suggestive belt buckle, a water bra, an enormous hat, lots of eye makeup, and gold glitter spangled across my lingerie-enhanced cleavage. I geared up to go "sarging" by listening to R. Kelly. It seemed appropriate.

Dressed as though auditioning for the slut-cowboy ballet, I was ready to impress folks with my confidence, suavity, and several routines lifted verbatim from my research materials including, uh, magic tricks. But to take the experiment to the fullest, I couldn't just strap on a silly costume, hit on some folks, and call it a night. No, I'd have to live it -- a prospect infinitely scarier than, say, wearing a vibrator out in public for an evening. I'd seriously attempt to become someone else -- someone able to initiate conversations with strangers without spazzing, able to bang strangers without worry or compunction. It was time to live the game.

Trying to actually become someone you're not is a pretty serious sign that the strategy is doomed to fail, unless you're a Method actor, in which case you're still only doing it temporarily--just long and far enough to get you into character so you can play a part convincingly. At the end of the performance, or your play's run or your film's shooting, you step out of character again, and your normal self re-emerges. The difference between a PUA and an actor is that the PUA actually has to become the character--and make a lifestyle of it. There is no stepping out of that character. At some point, theoretically, "faking it" is supposed to magically turn into "making it".

All the teachers, parents and guidance counselors out there who have told countless kids over the years to "just be yourself" must be smacking their foreheads over the PUAs in dismay right now. There's a reason they say "be yourself", instead of "pretend to be someone else". Being yourself is clearly a lot easier. It's also less apt to turn people off. This is kind of important when you consider that the whole point of a pick-up is to turn somebody else on.

So how'd it work out for MacRae? Well, she discovered that "peacocking" is a fine way to get people's attention (duh!), and wacky PUA conversational gambits work too--if attention, whether good or bad, is all you're after. But "negging" only serves to respulse someone who's overstepped his bounds...

I commented on his wandering hands with a "neg" line lifted straight from the manuals: "Have you always been so grabby?" It's supposed to make your target want you more, but he looked incredibly hurt, mumbled something and scuttled away. I may not like the neg concept, but at that moment I was grateful for it.

...or someone else with whom you're hoping to get blissfully out-of-bounds yourself:

I also told a woman she had man hands. This was not improvisation, but nearly word-for-word from my reference manuals, a way of making your target feel self-conscious. (Thus breaking down her "bitch shield.") [...] I was caressing her palm when I said, "You kinda have man hands. It looks like you work with your hands a lot, like... a longshoreman?" To say she wasn't feeling my game would be an understatement. It's a good thing I didn't ask if her boobs were fake.

Uh-oh. Looks like "negging" doesn't live up to its promise. It won't put someone under your hypnotic sex spell, nor will it make you bigger by making her smaller; it's more like a sure-fire way to get the old Bitch Shield (TM) thrown up on you at full strength in a hot instant.

Any woman who's ever had to parry such a lame approach from a lamer dude will know right away how well this sort of thing works. And sure enough, MacRae, too, finds herself called upon to do so--with a tag-team of would-be woman-rasslers:

One night I was approached by a freakishly confident, mustachioed wingman with a pattern on his shirt that looked exactly like sperm. He touched my arm and told me I had to meet his friend. "And if I don't want to?" I asked.

"Oh, you do." Fine, player. It was on.

I spent the next fifteen minutes taking mental notes about how they treated me. Finally over it, I shook his friend's hand and thanked him for the cigarette. Wingman looked at me and said, "I don't like that handshake. What's that all about?"

"I'm sorry," I said, "should I have humped him?" I checked to see if my bitch shield was showing.

He cocked an eyebrow and smirked, "Oh, I see what you're doing." He was negging me! I had been negged! And I guess it sort of made me want to fuck them, if by "fuck" you really mean "punch in the nose."

Yeah, that's about how I would have felt, too. Only it wouldn't have taken me fifteen long minutes to reach that point.

More disturbing, though, at least in its implications for the pseudo-scientific "findings" of the player-manual writers, is the following insight:

Being attuned to other folk's game had an unanticipated side effect. I noticed how my targets (mostly dudes, some ladies) responded when they realized that they were in the vicinity of sexy times. When I acted as the female sexual conquistador, almost invariably they started working their own game double-time, and whatever control I was supposed to have over the situation dissipated. I felt more like prey than predator. As a young woman with a pulse, this feeling isn't unfamiliar. But just because it's familiar doesn't mean it's comfortable.

Uh oh, boys--women actually get onto you and your game! They interact unpredictably, not in the stereotypical "from Venus" manner at all. They rob you of control by "playing" back, or ducking out. How 'bout them apples?

The end of the experiment is pretty inevitable too:

One night, exhausted from weeks of uncharacteristically talking up strangers like it was my job (which I suppose it was), I half-heartedly peacocked and went to a new bar. The prospect of acting my way through another conversation made me want to cry, so I sat at the end of the bar with my wing woman (in violation of the game's rules about body language and approachability), made brief eye contact and whatnot, but largely kept to myself and my liquor. The game had worn me down; it was time to rock my normal, standoffish behavior and unwind.

And I ended up with a cute woman's face between my boobs on the dance floor, in what was empirically my most successful evening to date. Go figure.

Surprise: The parents, teachers and guidance counsellors were right all along. Just being yourself works better than assuming a fake persona. Who knew?

And yeah, in case you hadn't guessed, there is just no way you can winkle, wangle, wrangle and just plain old manipulate a person into wanting you. People aren't computers; we don't react in pre-programmed, hard-wired ways. There is no prescribed set of commands that works on every woman, no matter who, what or where she is. The PUA manuals purport to teach you a seductive "code", but I'm here to tell you right now that that code does not exist. Anyone who tells you otherwise, is lying. And probably trying to sell you a pile of worthless crap.

The tragedy is that someone with mental problems fell for this skeevy sexual hucksterism--and that when it inevitably failed him, he could not pick himself up, be himself and move on. Instead, he felt compelled to become a lady-killer in the most hideously literal sense, before turning the gun on himself.

No, it really isn't much of a game, is it?

October 2, 2009

Quotable: Matt Taibbi on healthcare reform

"In the real world, nothing except a single-payer system makes any sense. There are currently more than 1,300 private insurers in this country, forcing doctors to fill out different forms and follow different reimbursement procedures for each and every one. This drowns medical facilities in idiotic paperwork and jacks up prices: Nearly a third of all health care costs in America are associated with wasteful administration. Fully $350 billion a year could be saved on paperwork alone if the U.S. went to a single-payer system -- more than enough to pay for the whole goddamned thing, if anyone had the balls to stand up and say so."

--Matt Taibbi, "Sick and Wrong", in Rolling Stone

Festive Left Friday Blogging: It'll be our little secret

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Evo doesn't want me telling you just how sexy I think he is. So I won't.

October 1, 2009

Stupid Sex Tricks: Premature much?

If you're not rolling all over the floor or mopping up spat-out drink from your monitor after this, you're probably dead. Either that, or you're a robot.

Teh Heterostoopid: Amurricans haz it.

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Guffaw. You know what really violates the "sactity"? Teh infidelity, stoopid:

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Teh Heterostoopid...violating the "sactity" of traditional marriage since, like, FOREVER.