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October 31, 2010

A million and counting

Who has it?

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Yep, Chavecito passed the million-follower tweeter milestone today. At this rate, it won't be long before he whips Alejandro Sanz's ass. Time to set the countdown clock, kiddies!

I just noticed something...

Namely, that lefty guys wearing the US flag...

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(Photo from the Rally for Sanity by Cynthia Tucker, Atlanta Journal-Constitution.)

...do a much better job of it than their wingnut cousins:

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(Teabaggers, taken by I don't know who, at one of their autos-da-fé.)

Funny dat.

More Music for a Sunday: WTF, India???

It looks a bit like "Thriller", but with low-budget instrumentals. Plus, I don't recall Michael Jackson saying anything about Kali Ma or Om Shanti!

(h/t Roger Ebert.)

Music for a Sunday: Scary Monsters and Super Creeps

What better song for today, goblins?

And what more electric than a live performance in ghoulish getups?

October 30, 2010

Wankers of the Week: Crappy Halloween!

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'Tis Halloween,
The lamp is lit--
And in the pies
The pumpkins shit--
Poop out their innards bit by bit--
Till Sister Jane says FLUSH!

Crappy Halloween, everyone! Forget all the ghosties and ghoulies and things that go bump in the night. It's the ones without the costumes you have to be wary of, because they've been out playing dirty tricks on us all week. And here they are, in no particular order. Get ready...Count Floyd says it's gonna be scary!

1. Rob Fucking Ford. You're damn right, Toronto is united...and it's gonna get a lot more so. United, that is, against YOU, you evil, bigoted, rageaholic swinebag. I'm not sure how it's possible to be arrested for public intoxication AND drug possession and still be eligible to run for office, but I guess whatever happens in Miami, stays in Miami. (Gawd, what a fucking awesome town. Not only does all the scum from Latin America wash up there on a regular basis, but all the crap from North America, too. Damn those ocean currents!) PS: Nice staffers you got, Robbo. Fake Twitter accounts. Really smart! (How much did you pay them?) Now, let's see them try to bully the new city council. Can't do that with your toy tweets, bullyboy.

2. Mike Fucking Harris. Ontario's Worst Premier Ever was at the afterparty for Toronto's Worst Mayor-Elect Ever. Grinning like the asshole he is, and just oozing smarm, as "Eye of the Tiger" played in the background. Can you say BAD OMEN, boys 'n' girls? Sure you can. But for those who missed it, Mikey set this one up a long LONG time ago.

3. Stephen Fucking Harper. Because I know, I just know, that he is behind #1 and #2. The MO all smells the same.

4. Vic Fucking Toews. Hey Adultery Man, nice of you to tell communities to report their potential terrorist kids. But you forgot the biggest one, and it happens to be your damn own voting base! PS: Also, nice touch. Asshole.

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5. Sarah Fucking Palin. Yes, she's ba-ack. Still as stupid and lazy as ever. And she really shouldn't worry about Bristol's wayward genitals spoiling her chance for a run at the White House in two years' time, because she never stood one anyway.

6. Joe Fucking Arpaio. I always figured him for a skeezy-ass old pervert, and I'm right, as usual. This week, he finally proved it by giving the Paliness a gift of pink underpants. Touching, innit? That makes two sex-related wanks that #5 has racked up this week. And speaking of sex-related wanking, how about...

7. Christine O'Fucking Donnell. Her claims of chastity are, like everything else she says, absolute bullshit. She's a loud fucker. Literally. What do you bet she also masturbates when she's not busy getting laid by pudgy, chin-whiskered anti-choice dudes? Loudly? PS: And if you want to know what a totally unelectable candidate acts like, just clicky here.

8. Virginia Fucking Foxx. Yup, she's back again...and for the same reason. Rampant homophobic hatemongering, that is. And also for (twice) issuing a non-apology "apology" for her fucked-up remarks.

9. Richard Fucking Cohen. Sexual harassment, what's that? Clearly no problem of his, unless he has to defend someone else's privilege of doing it. What an onerous burden. A man's gotta do, eh?

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10. Tim Fucking Profitt. No sense apologizing or trying to "explain", we all saw what you did there. We couldn't NOT see. PS: Motherfucker. No apologies for YOU! PPS: Nice following you attract there, asshole. Like attracts like, stupid attracts stupid. Which leads me nicely to...

11. Rand Fucking Paul. Once again, it bears repeating: You can tell a LOT about someone by the kind of following he attracts. You can tell even more by the kind of followers the motherfucking bastard HIRES to curb-stomp nice young liberal ladies...and then make excuses for it all. And oh yeah, that reminds me of someone else...

12. Mike Fucking Pezzano. Another "supporter" of "don't tread on me" libertarianism proves to be one of those all too willing to let his pals tread...on somebody else. And he may be a groper, too. Niiiiiice. PS: Nice following YOU attract, too!

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13. Eric Fucking Schmidt. Yes, Google really IS, clearly and without the least doubt, evil. And the proof is in the words of its CEO, who clearly doesn't give a rat's ass for your privacy...or OUR Canadian privacy laws. His answer? "Just move". WHERE TO, IF YOU BASTARDS ARE DETERMINED TO PHOTOGRAPH IT ALL???

14. Ezra Fucking Levant. Will somebody please spank this obnoxious brat? He made poopy in his pants again. Oh, don't like it when I say that, Ezzy? Then don't say it about Omar Khadr. If he had WANTED to "confess", he could have done so eight years ago. YOU try being forcibly confined for that time and given no choice in the matter, no charges and no trial worthy of the name. Let's see how "innocent" you are then, little boy.

15. Clint Fucking McCance. Homophobes should all fucking kill themselves. Or keep that shit to themselves and not advertise it. That's disgusting!

16. Al Fucking Reynolds. Al, all my educated black male friends just invited you to kiss their educated black male asses. And also to quit smoking crack.

17. Judson Fucking Phillips. You "personally" have a problem with Islam? Yeah, you and all the rest of the fucking tea-tards. That's why the Koch brothers financed your "party". Hope you all have a helluva hangover by this time next week, because your party is gonna be OVER.

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18. Flip Fucking Benham. Oh, so abortion doctors are wanted dead "by Christ"? Yo. Jesus just called. Sez you shouldn't put words in his mouth, he can speak for himself. Also, he told me to tell you to fuck the hell off, and leave the women and doctors alone. There's a good reason he said nothing about abortion in the New Testament, remember?

19. and 20. Clarence and Ginni Thomas. Yep, they sure ARE a pair of boobs. A large, albeit not so firm, but well matched set. They deserve one another, and the hell that each is gonna put the other through before this little sham of a marriage finally ends. Whaddya bet the real impetus behind Ginni's little drunk-dialer the other week was actually that she caught Clarence out in something?

21. Abe Fucking Foxman. Whatever shit he was full of, he just lost it. All over the fucking place. Very satisfying to see, especially the part about the Soup Nazi.

22. Victor Fucking Phillips. Christ, what is it with right-wing nutjobs assaulting women this week? It's like all the sexist, racist and homophobic animus is just oozing out as my US friends prepare to go to the polls. And speaking of homophobic animus, get a load of...

23. Michael Fucking "Savage" Weiner. Bitch, please. The only reason you hate gay boys is because all the cute young ones ignore you. The only reason you blame throat cancer on oral sex between men is because no one's giving you head anymore. And it's pitiful, because the whole world knows what you and Allen Ginsberg got up to, back in the day. So just STFU, 'kay?

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24. Sharron Fucking Angle. How do you know she's insane? Hint: Watch the diarrhea trickling out of both sides of her mouth. And what kind of Christianity calls human welfare "wicked ways"? She is superstitious and incapable of rational thought. She is also utterly dishonest. She is NOT electable. Let's face it, this loony harpy is the spawn of Satan.

25. Arnie Fucking LeMaire. Guess who's gettin' sued for defamation? Aw, what a shame. Couldn't happen to a dicker dickweed than Mr. Five-Feet-o-Fugly, I mean Mr. Kathy Shit-All. Watch the not-so-professional hatemonger whine about how his free-speech rights are being trampled, now...Poor baby, wanna hankie?

26. Trevor Fucking Case. As human beings and boyfriends go, he's a piss-poor excuse for one. Too bad BushCo are out of power, he'd make an excellent interrogator. He has the waterboarding thing down pat.

27. David Fucking Bahati. Oh yeah, legislated homophobic murder--inspired and urged by those US fundie missionaries who are always putting their hands in where they're not wanted--is totally gonna save Uganda. And--hey wait!--no, sorry, false alarm. That was just a hallucination of a winged pig with lipstick sailing past my window. Too bad. Guess this means Uganda IS going to hell in a self-made handbasket after all.

28. Nicolas Fucking Sarkozy. Ramming through austerity measures is sure hard when you're tooling around the world with an ex-supermodel wife in a newly redecorated presidential jet that might well be described as a Flying Taj Mahal. While Angela Fucking Merkel is still a wanker, she's right about this one--it's worse than bad taste, it's a fuck-you to an already outraged French populace. But what do we expect of a con de merde like Sarko?

29. Dustin Fucking Dominiak. Congratulations, douchebag, you actually made me feel sorry for Christine O'Fucking Donnell. Which, I'm sure, was NOT the idea behind your anonymous hit-piece on her unwaxed nether regions. It's one thing to point out a right-wing candidate's hypocrisy and its bad implications for women, but this was not that. This was just sensationalism, and it wasn't sensational enough for Penthouse, obviously, since you wound up not getting laid (being ultimately more dud than stud, and a flower easily wilted). Was it necessary to hit her THAT far below the belt? Jeez, it's not as if we females don't have enough body issues on our plates already. I hope you enjoyed your squicky fun while it lasted, because I can't imagine you'll be terribly popular with any other ladies from now on. Especially not if there's a good chance that you'll write immature, disparaging shit about their pubic grooming habits. Or lack thereof.

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29 1/2. Fucking Gawker also deserves a round of boo, both for publishing that shit and for (lamely) justifying it.

30. Fucking McDonald's. Never again will a Big Mac or Quarter Pounder cross these lips. Or yours either, if you value democracy. Corporations have no business telling their employees how to vote. Or, for that matter, to instruct them to vote in such ways as will leave any poor schmuck who works at Mickey D's to be even more screwed by capitalism than s/he was before.

31. Jonah Fucking Goldberg. Well, at least, he admits that radioactive waste can kill people. The rest of those brain-dead neo-cons still want us to believe that Iraqis can eat it morning, noon and night and feel nothing but liberated. Still, Doughy Pantload deserves nothing less than a dose of his own KGB-esque medicine for what he wants done to Wikileaker Julian Assange. PS: What Jymn said!

32. Christian Fucking Whiton. Should be charged with crimes against humanity. Along with all his other cohorts from the Bush State Dept. But since all that happened before Obama, and apparently all those assholes STILL enjoy immunity from prosecution, a wank-listing here will have to do...for just opening his big fucking fascist yap and BREATHING.

33. Michael Fucking Welner. He can't read Danish, and he hasn't read the "evil" book, written by an incredibly oafish Danish "expert", on whom he bases his "expert" testimony in the Omar Khadr case. His entire argumentative thrust is that Omar is evil because he is a Muslim and the Qur'an is an evil book that made him so. It's the same bullshit you can hear from any jabbering idiot on talk radio. Yet we're supposed to take him seriously as an expert? FAIL. This isn't a trial, in case you've noticed, unless you refer to Stalinist kangaroo-court antics as "trials".

And that's it for this week. Here, have a cute video about trick-or-treating:

Now if you'll excuse me, my broom is running. Gotta fly.

Good night, and get fucked!

October 29, 2010

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Gracias a la vida...

It's hard for me to feel "festive", exactly, when Néstor Kirchner is gone. But it's Friday, and the man's life deserves a round of applause; he achieved what many thought was impossible. So let's start with a documentary that shows just what a position Argentina was in when he came to power:

He was in almost a cameo role there. And at the end it appears that he's just another of the same old political class that screwed Argentina into the mess the workers are trying to pull it out of, one occupied factory at a time.

Happily, this proved not to be the case. Néstor Kirchner was a progressive who helped Argentina get away from its worst oppressor. He was not such a radical as the right-wing media made him out to be, but he made a big difference. And he did it with the help of his friends:

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I always liked this cute shot of him with Chavecito. The charm and friendship of the two is very apparent.

And Chavecito was only the first. As the economic and political tides of South America began to shift over the past decade, other progressive leaders came in line: Evo in Bolivia, Lula in Brazil, Correa in Ecuador, Lugo in Paraguay, Pepe Mujica in Uruguay. The continent began to pull together, with democratic self-rule the order of the day and solidarity among nations to give the project a firm economic spine. Today, there are only three conservative governments on the whole continent, and in spite of Washington's efforts to isolate the progressives in the smaller countries, it is those in the larger ones, including Argentina, who have given notice that this sovereignty-self-rule-solidarity thing isn't going away. In fact, it's the conservatives who are becoming isolated. And if the recent Colombia-Venezuela quarrel is anything to go by, the conservatives are losing out by selling out. Their biggest trading partners, it turns out, are local and not in North America or Europe. And if one of them steps out of line, as Colombia did by bombing Ecuador in 2008, the disapproval of the larger fish, most notably Argentina, made it clear that the proxy wars of Washington Consensus days were not going to go the same old way anymore. The gringos and their puppets weren't going to win this one. And indeed, Chavecito and Correa came out on top. Having the backing of the continent's economic giants made a difference, just as it made a difference when Chavecito helped Kirchner shake off the IMF.

And now, Argentina needs that solidarity again. And is getting it:

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(Tweet-photo of Chavecito and widowed president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, by @mauriciominci.)

Let the ghouls of the markets celebrate Kirchner's death. They don't run that country anymore. The people do, and Néstor was on their side. So much so that the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, who are implacable leftists, stopped holding their regular anti-government protests during his reign, declaring that they "no longer had an enemy" in office--an important first, since they have been protesting virtually uninterrupted since the dying days of the Junta. Theirs was a prominent presence at the funeral services today. That is a sign of approval that I think says it all. I'm celebrating his life, always in the hope that others will pick up where he left off and carry the great project forward.

Hasta siempre, Presidente.

October 27, 2010

El Ecuadorable pays his respects to Néstor Kirchner

Rafael Correa, president of Ecuador and pro tempore president of Unasur, speaks from the heart:

...and pulls no punches. No whitewashing Argentina's dire past, and no underestimating the value of what Kirchner did for his country--and indeed, through his and Cristina's solidarity, for Ecuador, which has seen a lot of tumult of late, what with Colombian bombings and CIA-backed coup attempts. That Latin American unity I talked about earlier today owes much to the intelligence and vision of Kirchner.

Like the man says: Not a moment of silence, but a loud and sustained applause, is the fitting tribute for Kirchner's life and work.

¡Néstor vive, la lucha sigue!

Stupid Sex Tricks: One more thing NOT to do with a condom

What to call this jackass stunt? The Speed Test, maybe?

But hey. At least it proves that guys who say they're too small for THEIR big bazookas...are LYING. So, no more excuses. Wrap up your packages before giving 'em to the ladies, fellas.

Do you know somebody like this?

If you do, beware. This is what psychopathy looks like:

CALGARY--Police fear they are dealing with a person who lacks a moral conscience after someone left the severed head of a cat on a doorstep in a northeast Calgary neighbourhood.

Det. Scott Sampson says police fear the sociopath could commit more violent acts and are asking the public to come forward with tips.

The cat's head was found on Monday while police were investigating a nearby arson case that happened in August.

Sampson says he believes the arson and the death of the cat are related.

He says anyone who would set fire to a home with people inside and then kill an innocent animal is showing all the traits of a sociopath.

And the scariest part is, the culprit's identity is still unknown.That means this person--this psychopath--has no difficulty "passing" as nice and normal. And that's why he's still on the loose.

And there are lots of others like him. Just google the terms "cat killer" sometime. I got over 3 million search results.

That's a lot of psycho.

People shy away from glassy-eyed zombies who talk to themselves on the street, but they let their guard down for the really horrible, utterly conscienceless ones like this guy. And when they do, terrible things happen. Ted Bundy was practically the model of a nice young man whom nobody suspected of being a serial killer. So was Paul Bernardo. So was John Gacy. So, until recently, was Russell Williams. That was how they all got away with the horrible things they did for so long. And had their masks not slipped, they might still be out there, doing their worst.

Remember this the next time you hear another of those stories where people say of a sadistic thug that he "seemed so normal"!

Néstor Kirchner, RIP

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Sad news from South America this morning:

The president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, lamented the death of the former president of Argentina, Néstor Kirchner, with a message of solidarity for his Argentine counterpart, Cristina Fernández.

"Oh, my dear Cristina...how sad! What a great loss Argentina and our [Latin] America have suffered! Long live Kirchner, forever!" wrote the president on his Twitter page.

Kirchner died at age 60, of a heart attack, on Wednesday morning at home.

Translation mine.

It seems appropriate that Chavecito would choose to express himself the way he did; he and the now widowed Cristina have been chatting back and forth since they both got on the tweeter, and it's lovely to follow their conversation. It's also emblematic of just how far things have come in Latin America since 2003, when Néstor Kirchner was elected in the teeth of a total economic collapse in Argentina.

There's a real solidarity in South America now that wasn't there before. The repeated economic crises of the last 30-odd years have served as a forcing ground for progressive Latin American leaders. Venezuela's collapse in 1989 shaped the destiny of Chávez, who staged a failed uprising in 1992 that won him popularity enough to become an elected leader; Argentina's similar collapse, in 2001, pulled Kirchner out of the obscurity of the Patagonian state of Santa Cruz, where he had been governor, and catapulted him onto the national stage. By the time Kirchner was elected, Chávez had already been president of Venezuela for four years, and had survived a coup attempt. He was also in an excellent position to offer economic help to his Argentine friend, with the price of oil on the rise and Venezuela's coffers filling. Kirchner was happy to accept the help, as he did the unthinkable: he put the IMF, his country's biggest oppressor, over his knee and dealt it a sound spanking. Argentina grew again, and rapidly, with Kirchner at the helm; he became its most popular president since his party's founder, Juan Perón.

Néstor Kirchner's sudden death was somewhat foreseeable; he'd been in treatment for heart trouble earlier this year, and had surgery to open a blocked coronary artery. Between the famously beef-heavy Argentine eating habit and the high stress of his leadership role both openly and behind the scenes, life took its toll on Kirchner in a manner any cardiologist could have predicted. Sadly, the medical measures taken earlier didn't do enough for him. The Justicialista (or Peronist) party will now have to choose another candidate for next year's presidential elections, since Kirchner--widely favored for the role--is no longer with them.

Kirchner was never what you'd call handsome, and he wasn't as radical as many (myself included) would have liked, but I always found him rather endearing. He took on what was, at the time, the least enviable role in Argentina, indeed all of Latin America. And he confounded all the skeptics. Not only did he last out his term (which about a half-dozen of his immediate predecessors did not), he also managed to get the IMF's boot off his country's neck, with help from Chavecito and the ALBA (the idea for which was actually conceived at Mar del Plata in 2005, when Chavecito attended a Kirchner-hosted summit, to the delight of a huge crowd of happy Argentines).

Néstor Kirchner was a lucky man to have such friends, and Argentina was lucky to have him when it needed someone--not a traditional charismatic caudillo like the evil enchanters of the Junta, but a democratic leader of real intelligence--to turn a god-awful situation around and throw the Washington Consensus out for good.

In fact, he was still at it as late as this month, kicking the IMF's ass almost literally to his dying day. Solidarity and sovereignty are the legacies he leaves behind. Argentina is better today than it was ten years ago, thanks in no small part to him.

He will be missed!

October 26, 2010

Shrieeeeeeeeeeeek!

OMG, I won something...

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I'm not kidding. Looky here:

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Ye Gods, I beat out Antonia Z? Really??? Shrieeeeeeeeeeeeeeek!

Ahem. Must compose self. Must compose entry. So, here goes:

I really wasn't expecting this. No, seriously. This obscure blog? Up against some much more established ones? Etcetera, etcetera?

Oh shit, I'm uptalking. Also shrieking like a little girl. Aaaaaack.

I'm sorry, I can't continue. So I'll just call up a little old feminist icon and have her say what I've always wanted to.

And thank you, SO much, to all those who voted for me. I couldn't--no, wouldn't--have done it without you!

Short 'n' Stubby: Suddenly, Toronto SUCKS!

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Well. How'd everyone like last night's municipal elections? Ms. Manx was watching the tweeter in spite of vowing not to, and the results had her doing a facepaw. Toronto has elected a boorish, drunken, wife-beating, racist, homophobic dickweed for a mayor. Or rather, the suck-ass SUBURBS of Toronto did. (Item: Both Paul Bernardo and Russell Williams hail from Scarborough. Sheer coincidence?)

Anyhow, here's what the Stumpy Cat found on the tweeter about the whole disaster:

The Torontoist compares Ford adversely to Mel Lastman. One thing Ms. Manx has heard over and over is that Mel actually LIKED Toronto when he ran it. The Stumpie agrees, saying she met the man when she got his pic for the Ryersonian, and yes, she got that impression too. (She also thinks the photo at the linky is full of win. Yes, that's exactly what the city is gonna look like for cyclists. Ford HATES them.)

The Toronto Star makes an object lesson out of the defeat of former council member Sandra Bussin. Moral of story: Taking huge campaign cash from someone to whom you later grant a no-bid contract does not pay. The voters remember. The big problem with the article, though, is that it's being played as a problem of incumbency, of getting too big (and established) for one's britches. Term limits, however, won't solve the real problem, which is corruption. And corruption knows no term limits, only dollar values.

Politics Respun analyzes the election outcome, particularly the baffling bit about Ford, relating it to what George Monbiot writes about people voting against their better interests. In short, it appears that the problem is "values" voting--that is, voting for the candidate that appears to conform to what you believe in (be it Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy), rather than rationally sitting down and doing your homework on the fucker and finding out what he really stands for. Ms. Manx nods sagely and says that sounds about right. If it's not voter apathy at work, it's voter ignorance. Both are Bhad News for democracy.

Back to the Star again. What the hell is this mindless boosterism? Ugh! That's not analysis, that's an after-the-fact Ford campaign ad. And it's ugly shit, too...Ms. Manx has seen the graffiti that lives in Toronto's alleys. Some of it is gorgeous; some imparts unexpected wisdom. She even did a photo essay on it to try to get people to look at it with fresh eyes. All of it adds character and interest to the bland face of a big city. Anyone who'd want to get rid of that will NEVER get her endorsement. And if you believe that "more subways" crap from a mayor who ran on a tax-cutting platform, our stumpy-tailed friend says she has a lovely bridge in Brooklyn that she's just dying to unload, cheap. And she also says PAWS OFF THE WILDCAT STRIKERS!!!

Politics and Profit lists 4 things that Rob Ford should do as mayor, but undoubtedly won't. Most worrisome item? #1, with a bullet.

Rev. Paperboy takes Rob Ford to the Woodshed, and delivers a satisfying smackdown.

And Christie Blatchford is just really, REALLY fucking vile. That is all.

Toronto, you USED to rock. Ms. Manx, however, says she prefers to wait four more years before she comes back for any length of time. Your streets have only gotten meaner in the interim, and the only thing that consoles her about it all is that this mayor's honeymoon will be shorter than Mel Lastman's stature. In fact, she bets it's already over!

October 25, 2010

Congratulations, Team America World Police!

It's been only eight long years of illegal captivity and torture, and finally, you wrung a "confession" out of your designated scapegoat, poor, brainwashed Omar Khadr, he of the batshit-crazy fundie-Islamist family. Feel proud!

Meanwhile, here's a little song, which I'm sure you won't comprehend in the least:

Fair trial? What the fuck is that? Apparently, a thing of the past.

PS: I was saying...?

Venezuelan journalists censored on Twitter!

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Yes, it's really true. Roberto Hernández Montoya, one of VTV's two Robertos (who have a show called "As You Can See") has been following the @VVperiodistas saga, and he tells all:

I recount: Certain journalists at Venevisión created this anonymous account at Twitter in order to vent their spleen against the government, which their channel would not allow. The broadcaster apparently complained to Twitter over the use of their name and logo, and Twitter immediately cancelled the account. They created another, @VVperiodistas2, with the threat of another closure, and had to create @VVperiodistas3 and so on ad infinitum. In effect, some jokers created @VVperiodistas3 and the ruckus began. Believing their lies, several journalists, starting with VVperiodistas2, dedicated themselves to insinuating something like that Chávez had ordered the closure from Tehran, and Twitter, obediently, cancelled VVperiodistas. The maverick journalists later released a statement which clarified that the responsible party was their own channel. In it, they called Gustavo Cisneros "the magnate of silence". In compliance with certain conditions, Twitter reinstated @VVperiodistas, hopefully for good. On Thursday the Venevisión security guards assaulted some journalists from Globovisión...Venevisión apologized, following the denunciation from @VVperiodistas.

Venezuela is bubbling over on Twitter. How nice that no one can censor it.

It's poetic justice, because according to them [that is, opposition TV channels and print media], censorship is communist, and capitalism is all freedom and fun for young and old. That is, don't you know what it's like in private companies, where they trap you in a Bolivarian cage and toss you out? Moreover, the Venezuelan state is so bourgeois that in some places, being a Bolivarian will inhibit your rise through the ranks, and implies harassment and dirty looks, where they fire you plain and simple. They'll chant "not one step back, OUT!" at you in their big marches.

O yes, they know that, hence the pseudonym. No one put their name to it. They know how Cisneros is with his detractors [...] Capitalism is coercion and duress. It allows neither charity nor Christ.

I hate censorship, above all that which private enterprise exercises, that despotism without enlightenment. Solidarity with the comrades at @VVmasoquistas! Yes, it's good for a laugh.

Translation mine.

BTW, the skirmish between the Globovisión journos and the Venevisión security goons took place recently during a parading of the "Misses"--that is, the candidates for Miss Venezuela--in Maracaibo. You can see it on the Robertos' show, here (in the first segment.) Venevisión, alone among the Venezuelan private TV channels, censored it.

And, BTW, VTV is the state channel. The one the opposition (via Venevisión, Globovisión, etc.) is always claiming is full of Chavista propaganda, and a threat to freedom and democracy, and blahblah. The fact that they're allowed to scream such blatant nonsense unimpeded is proof that it's not the government censoring them. The fact that it's their own channels' owners doing the censoring is an interesting irony, and one that should not be lost on anyone.

And neither is the fact that one of the Robertos--state-TV channel propagandists and Castro-communists, according to the oppos--is @VVperiodistas' numero uno fan.

Yes, indeed, it IS good for a laugh!

Uruguay: Fascists are sore losers...

...and they are getting sorer. This gentleman...

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...is the Uruguayan minister of defence. Like his president, he's a former leftist guerrilla who did jail time during the military dictatorship. And he had to fend off a protest recently that appeared to be about one thing, but was really about another:

A group of ex-militaries and their family members confronted the Uruguayan defence minister, Luis Rosadilla, in a march to protest the poor conditions of the Military Hospital, and called him a "liar" and a "Tupamaro assassin", according the local press.

Some 500 people, gathered by the National Union of Retired Members of the Armed Forces (Unir-FFAA), marched on Saturday afternoon to the ministry office to be received by the minister, who during the 1973-1985 dictatorship had spent several years in prison for belonging to the Tupamaro guerrillas.

According to the newspaper El País's digital edition, the minister arrived especially to be on hand to meet the demonstrators, who seemed to arrive in a heated temper, and who had shaken their fists during the march at various motorists along the way.

Upon arriving at the ministry, the ex-militaries changed their chants of "Long live our country and the Armed Forces" to "Free the military prisoners" and "liar", while Unir-FFAA authorities appealed for calm from the group.

As well, the former military members protested the intention of the ruling Frente Amplio (Broad Front) coalition to do away with the Immunity Law, which prevents crimes committed by uniformed military members during the dictatorship from going to trial, despite the fact that the citizens have twice indicated in referendums that they would support such a measure.

While the Unir-FFAA leaders explained to Rosadilla "the emergency situation" of the Military Hospital, which places the medical coverage of its 160,000 users at risk, the angry shouts against the minster interrupted the conversation.

Rosadilla appeared angry, and called the talks over. As he headed back inside the building, the shouts of "Tupa liar", "assassin", "son of a bitch" and "revanchist" grew louder.

Colonel Jorge Puente, president of Unir-FFAA, told the newspaper El Observador that the Budgetary Law approved by the government of president José (Pepe) Mujica, also a former Tupamaro guerrilla, "is destroying" the armed forces.

"Sometimes I can't sleep for thinking it's a Machiavellian plan, but I hope I'm wrong about this and would like to think the authorities understand the importance of the armed forces," said the former officer.

Translation mine.

A "Machiavellian plan"? No, Colonel, that would be what you and yours did during the dictatorship. This isn't really about the budgeting for the Military Hospital, is it? No, of course not. Even an old Tupamaro wouldn't deny his worst enemy decent healthcare, lest he prove to be just as bad as the fascists who once jailed him. That's not what this is about at all. It's a "protest" against popular opinion, which in two separate referenda now has called for lifting the immunity of military repressors and putting them on trial for crimes against humanity. That's what's really at stake. Uruguay, like its neighbor, Argentina, had a dictatorship problem during the 1970s and '80s that has yet to be fully resolved. And what this small bunch of ex-military officers is really protesting against, is the chance that it WILL be resolved...and not in their favor, either. In Uruguay, the military repressed more than just Tupamaros, it jailed and killed a lot of innocent people. And to deny them the chance to seek redress is just perpetuating the problem. Who's the real revanchist here?

Quotable: Glenn Greenwald on the ironies of islamophobia

"I'm always amazed when I receive e-mails from people telling me that I fail to understand how Islam is a uniquely violent, supremely expansionist culture that is intrinsically menacing. The United States is a country with a massive military and nuclear stockpile, that invaded and has occupied two Muslim countries for almost a full decade, that regularly bombs and drones several others, that currently is threatening to attack one of the largest Muslim countries in the world, that imposed a sanctions regime that killed hundreds of thousands of Muslim children, that slaughters innocent people on a virtually daily basis, that has interfered in and controlled countries around the world since at least the middle of the last century, that has spent decades arming and protecting every Israeli war with its Muslim neighbors and enabling a four-decade-long brutal occupation, and that erected a worldwide regime of torture, abduction and lawless detention, much of which still endures. Those are just facts.

"But if we all agree to sit around and point over there -- hey, can you believe those primitive Muslims and how violent and extremist they are -- the reality of what we do in the world will fade blissfully away. Even better, it will be transformed from violent aggression into justified self-defense, and then we'll not only free ourselves of guilt, but feel proud and noble because of it."

--Glenn Greenwald, at Salon.com

October 24, 2010

Copiapó: The fallout begins

Miner Edison Peña is pulled from the collapsed San José mine. He was the 12th man rescued.

The rescue of those Chilean miners was not the end of the story. It was just the end of one chapter. Now the next has begun, and for one trapped miner, it's not pretty:

Miner Edison Peña, 37, one of the 33 who were rescued from the San José copper mine, has been hospitalized for anxiety attacks that will not let him rest.

Peña, known for his penchant for jogging, was admitted to the Atacama clinic of the Chilean Safety Association (ACHS), where he remains under sedation and observation.

"He presented with a severe anxiety attack and we had to sedate him. We are analyzing the reasons for it," Dr. Jorge Díaz, regional director for the association, told La Tercera.

Peña is the first miner to be hospitalized after the medical discharge of the rescued.

In the last few days, the worker showed mental instabilities, anxiety attacks, and a lack of motivation, which caused great concern in the medical team. This, despite the fact that Peña tried to continue his physical training and who had received several invitations to sporting events in the days to come. Because of that, he was discharged and allowed to travel to Santiago, as he had planned to do with his family. In the capital he will continue to receive treatment at the mental health unit of the ACHS.

The attorney representing the 33 miners, Edgardo Reinoso, questioned the discharges that "two or three" of the workers received after their rescue from the San José mine.

"Some of them should not have been released. It's known that some are in a serious situation, a very serious one, from a psychological point of view. We lament that the hospital has released them so quickly. I don't know what will be the outcome of that, but I believe that with at least two or three of them, the job was not well done," Reinoso said in an interview with ADN Radio.

The lawyer did not want to reveal the identities of the workers, but acknowledged that one of the most affected is Edison Peña. "He is very ill and I think that he has not been well treated," said Reinoso.

[...]

The miners "are infinitely grateful to the rescuers, for all that they have done for them, but at the same time they know, and have not forgotten, that they were underground for two months due to somebody's fault, not only that of the owners of the mine, but also of those who authorized the reopening of the mine," said Reinoso.

Translation mine.

Edison Peña is sure to have company in the mental ward before long. He's not the only one in a fragile state of mental health, as his attorney has hinted.

And when you look at the situation of Chilean miners in general, it's not hard to see how something like this could happen.

In the lead up to the rescue, the 300 colleagues of the 33 trapped men were fired from their jobs at the San José mine. They were released without pay, and almost totally ignored by the media.

For many of those whose life experiences are perhaps closest to that of the families of the rescued miners, the rescue was almost certainly bittersweet. Among them are dozens of families in Chile alone who lost mineworker relatives this year, and hundreds whose loved ones have been killed in Chile's mines over the past decade.

According to data from the Government of Chile, between January and August of this year, 31 miners were killed at their workplaces. Eleven of them were killed by machinery. Six died trapped underground. Seven fell to their deaths. Others were squished by falling rocks, electrocuted, asphyxiated or blown to pieces.

On Sept. 7, 2010, four miners were killed on the job in Antofagasta, the next large city to the north of Copiapó, when their work truck collided with a vehicle carrying explosives for the mine. This story went almost unreported in the North American media.

The mines are dangerous all over Chile, indeed all of Latin America, and there's not a country in the world where a cave-in can't happen. But this case stands out, not only because of the incredibly long survival of the miners, but because it's just so blatantly the fault of the mine's owners that no escape races were in place for the miners to use. Were those in place, there'd have been no drama; the miners would have gotten out, and life would have gone on as usual, and their plight would go unremarked. This story IS a story because of one simple safety measure that the owners just couldn't be bothered to spend a few extra bucks on.

It's also going to remain in the media spotlight because of the hideous greed of the owners, and the corruption of the Chilean authorities, who bear a share of the blame for letting them reopen the mine, STILL without the escape routes and ladders they were supposed to install. What do you bet the owners will turn out, in true Chilean capitalist fashion, to be stinkingly rich--and thus, well able to afford not only the escape ladders, but also all the salaries of the workers they refuse to pay?

And it's also going to remain in the news because the spotlight will be on miners like Edison Peña, whose mental recovery is going to take longer, much longer, than it took his own government to rescue him. Mentally traumatized miners used to be invisible, but that all is going to change. It will HAVE to. Let's hope that this uncounted loss of worker-hours will finally be addressed by government regulators in a manner it deserves.

Stupid Sex Tricks: How to wank like a gachupine

A Spanish TV host demonstrates his two-stroke self-love technique. Very enlightening, eh?

Music for a Sunday: Bloody marvelous

But at night, when all the world's asleep...

Roger Hodgson, ex-Supertramp front man, treats one of his best songs to a full orchestra. It's a tiny bit slower than the original (which I learned to sing in seventh-grade music class--yes, I had a REALLY cool teacher!), but it's lost absolutely nothing in the translation.

And it still makes me feel so logical.

Short 'n' Stubby: Russell Williams roundup

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It was a foregone conclusion that Russell Williams, recently convicted of dozens of break/enters, thefts, plus two sexual assaults and two murders, should be stripped of his military rank. Ms. Manx approves, and wishes his military pension would also be taken away; it's not as if he's gonna have much use for it anyway, seeing as he's serving two concurrent life sentences in Kingston Pen, with no chance of parole for a very long time. Maybe that, too, will come about in due course. Meanwhile, here are some other things the Stumpy Cat approves, in terms of journalism and blogging on the Williams case:

Our friend Elizabeth Pickett has an excellent piece up at Rabble, castigating the sensational coverage of his crimes as a "fetish" gone berserk. And she makes an excellent point:

One thing is clear: the effect of handling the case this way has been to feed into every stereotype about serial rapist murderers and to place Russell Williams as far away as possible from any description of humanness. That way we can file him tidily away in the mental vault we keep for depraved monsters.

Is that to ensure that few of us will be prompted to wonder just how and where he fits on our socially sanctioned continuum of male violence against women? Is that so we don't learn something that would implicate our military institutions, our systems of law enforcement, our courts of law, our legislators, and all of us in a wilful and systematic blindness to the inequities and inequalities that oppress womenfolk every hour of every day of every year in which we live?

Similarly, Your Heart's On the Left takes on the military's culture of machismo. Surely it has nothing to do with this at all? Don't be so sure. Remember, Williams isn't a fetishist, and certainly not a cross-dresser. A psychopath who, in his fantasies, controls others, will naturally gravitate to a job in which he can do just that, unchallenged--and the upper echelons of the air force will cheerfully turn a blind eye to him, as they did here. He fit right in, and had he not been caught, he'd still be using his position of authority to advantage--and killing more women.

Also not to be missed, within the same piece: A mention of "trophy" pictures of a teenager brutally murdered by the now-infamous (and disbanded) Airborne regiment in Somalia. Remember Shidane Arone? Canadians of a certain age can't forget him. Seems that Williams's particular brand of psychopathy (he also photographed the women he raped and murdered, as well as himself in various articles of stolen underwear) was endorsed and sanctioned by the military's culture of machismo and the glorification of violence. Of course, back then, THAT was swept aside as an "isolated" and "aberrant" incident, too. I guess it could look that way, if you forget that rape, torture and humiliation are old and brutal weapons of war. (Just ask the women of the Balkans what they fear most, being killed or being raped by their enemy. Rape was actually included in the "ethnic cleansing" programs that the region is so infamous for.)

The Regina Mom also seizes on the military-machismo aspect. Does it take us women to notice this sort of thing? Apparently, yes. Considering how much it affects us (and women within the military, like Williams's first murder victim, Cpl. Marie-France Comeau), it stands to reason, does it not?

But happily, women aren't the only ones who get it. A few good men also do, like the Chronicle-Herald's Laurent Le Perriès, who notes the connections that cannot be tidily explained away with words like "fetish". He recognizes that our entire culture is pervaded by the idea of rape as a mainstream, virtually "normal" thing, which it ought not to be. Rape is being seen--still--as just an outcrop of sex, when in fact it is the most horrific, lasting and damaging kind of violence there is. The result is a distressing trivialization of the suffering of rape survivors--most of them female. And also slut-shaming and victim-blaming, which add insult to injury, isolating the victim/survivor from the mainstream of society.

And finally, as Antonia Zerbisias notes, as long as all these things are viewed out of their proper focus, we can expect to see a lot more slipshod policing of any crimes of violence against women. All the more reason, then, for us to hold our media and our institutions accountable for their part in cases like this.

October 23, 2010

Wankers of the Week: Pumpkin puke edition

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'Twas the week before Hallows, and all 'round the Earth,
The wankers were wanking. 'Twas no cause for mirth.
They frightened the horses and sickened the kids
With the dumb things they said and the crap that they did.
I'd soap up their windows and TP their trees,
But to lie down with dogs is to get up with fleas.
Instead I'll just list them; I'm sure you'll agree
That the trick is on them and the treat is on me!

1. Jay Scott Fucking Newman. Remember that there's a separation of church and state? He doesn't. Basically, he's the Communion Nazi--if you voted for Obama and don't repent, no wafers for you! Since when is penance required for a "wrong" (i.e., for a pro-choice candidate) vote? Since NEVER. Father, if you don't want to pay taxes on your church's tithings, don't you dare tell your parishioners how to vote. (And hands off the altar boys, too.)

2. Ken Fucking Buck. Yeah, being gay is exactly like being an alcoholic. That's why there are so many chapters of Gay Anonymous, duh. And yeah, alcoholism is like totally a lifestyle choice, too! How in fucknation does one get stupid enough to think shit like this? Is one born that way, or does it come from the doctor dropping you on your head immediately after? No, of course not. It's a choice, and it comes as a result of homophobes recruiting you from an early age. If the voters of Colorado pick this assclown to represent them, they're gonna have buyer's remorse--and probably some nasty diseases--for damn sure.

3. Adam Fucking Josephs. If you thought Officer Bubbles was a wanker last week, read his Scribd legal claim this week and see just how much of one he is. Sheer (humorless) comedy gold. PS: LOLz. PPS: And oh, the irony.

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4. Bob Fucking McCarthy. Yep, McCarthyism is back...and this time, it's going after the peaceful Sufi Muslims of the US. Specifically, one small town in New York, whose reputation is now mud. At long last, sir--have you no shame???

5. William Fucking White. No, hate speech is not "free", and no, you're not anonymous on the Internet when you spew. There ARE laws in place to protect the people you only think you have the right to harass, and under them, you can get sent to the Big House, where you'll be incommunicado for an awfully long time. My trolls might want to clicky the linky, and soil their pants accordingly.

6. Angela Fucking Merkel. Multiculturalism "doesn't work"? Tell that to my parents, Angie. It worked fine for them...but then again, that's why they're Canadians now, and not still living in Germany. When my mom came into Germany as a refugee from Yugoslavia just before the end of the war, they treated her like a foreigner, and not another German, even though an ethnic German is what she was. If they treat their own like second-class citizens, imagine how they treat Turkish immigrants. This insulting, patronizing "learn German and abandon forced marriage" business helps no one and nothing, since most Turkish German citizens have already done so anyway, of their own free will. And more disturbingly, it sounds like not a damn thing has improved since the war ended, either.

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7. Joe Fucking Miller. You know you're in trouble when you have ethics complaints undisclosed. (It doesn't help if you shove 8-year-olds around.) And you know your campaign's in trouble when an unaccredited "security" firm (really, just mercenaries) first harasses and then handcuffs a reporter for nothing more than asking questions. And speaking of which, you know you're a wanker if you hire your "security" mercs from a highly questionable company run by...

8. William Fucking Fulton. Oh, where to start with this one? Blatant racism: Check. Unconvincing denial of same: Check. Trouble with business licence: Check. (And that's only as a "sporting goods" shop, NOT a security company.) And then there's the professionalism problem; check out how he (or some hired hand?) deals with customer dissatisfaction in his yellow-pages listing:

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Nice language, eh? Just what you'd say to drum up business, inspire confidence in your customers, etc. The world is just gonna beat a path to your door there, bucko!

Funny he should be so disparaging about female genitalia, too, since he's also been under restraining orders for stalking and, oh yeah, sexual assault. Terrific guy all around, this one!

9. Calvin Fucking Hill. Teaching students about sex is not the same as encouraging them to have it. I should know, because I learned about it early...and took my sweet time getting around to the "having" part. And yes, knowledge played a direct part in that. Ignorant kids are the ones most likely to hop in the sack, precisely because they don't know all the facts or take the time to protect themselves. Ignorance is bliss, at least until you get used, dumped, sick or knocked up. Sexual ignorance destroys lives. But you know what's really galling? Mr. Keep-'Em-Ignorant here is a big fat dildo-peddling hypocrite. He made a bloody fortune selling the same erotic tools he doesn't want college and university students to know about. I wonder if he also has a wide stance or requires rentboys to lift his luggage; wouldn't surprise me if he did.

10. Alan Fucking Dershowitz. Yes, there was a bigot and a holocaust denier at the panel discussion he attended. And it was Alan Fucking Dershowitz.

11. Justin Fucking Rehberg. No, burning a cross (with a noose attached) and yelling racial slurs on an interracial couple's front lawn is not a bit racist. Especially when it inspires an anti-racism march in their support!

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12. and 13. Todd Fucking Seavey and Helen Fucking Rittelmeyer. For God's sake get a room, you two. Oh wait, on second thought, don't--just get out from in front of the camera if you're gonna have a spat.

14. Daniel Fucking Greenhalg. This one is a predator, and a skeevy one at that. What little authority he had, he abused atrociously. At least now, his uniform won't entitle him to any special privileges, other than having to watch out for where he drops the soap.

15. Ginny Fucking Thomas. Not only crazy enough to be a teabag, but to demand an apology from a woman who owes her NOTHING--and to whom she owes one, in fact. If I were Anita Hill, here's what I'd write to her:

Dear Mrs. Thomas:

I am very sorry that the truth offends you.

With all due respect (i.e. NONE)--GET STUFFED.

Sincerely,
Anita Hill

And speaking of apologies owed, I'd say Clarence Fucking Thomas is long, long overdue for several, himself.

16. Bill O'Fucking Reilly. Yes, Billo, the whole world is horrified. Horrified that you're not in jail yet. Horrified that you still have a show, horrified that you're still ghosting books, horrified at the mere existence of you.

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17. Toni Fucking Harris. Aside from the fact that it's just plain excessive to put prepubescent girls in as "junior" cheerleaders, who could possibly think it's a good idea to make them shake their butts at the crowd in order to "please" it? And what portion of the crowd do you think is the most "pleased" to see under-aged butts wiggling?

18. And that goes double for you, Lisa Fucking Ernest. Tight skirts and booty-shaking for SIX-YEAR-OLDS??? In what strange parallel universe is any of that a good idea?

19. David Fucking Stern. This one's something worse than a wanker, since he makes people homeless for a living. And speaking of living: How many fucking luxury cars can one man drive, anyway? A fitting karma would be for him to lose them all so he doesn't even have one to live out of when the Universe takes its revenge on him.

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20. Juan Fucking Williams. Well, it was about time NPR cut this islamophobic wanker loose. At least now it will appear to justify its "liberal media" BS tag again. Meaning, there is a chance now that it will appear to report more objectively and honestly...we hope. Meanwhile, guess who's gonna be stepping up his crapaganda level at FUX Snooze? (PS to NPR: Time to get rid of Mara Fucking Liasson, too. Anyone with connections to FUX must GO.)

Oh, and what is this Stokely Carmichael shiznit? Or this other shiznit? Gee, it's beginning to look like NPR finally made a really good business decision, for a change!

21. Maggie Fucking Gallagher. Yes, you DO have the blood of gay suicide on your hands. But don't worry, you're not the only one. All those homophobic idiots who listen to or sympathize with you do, too. Plenty of guilt to go 'round, hon, so help yourself to a nice fat slice of the poo-poo pie! And for God's sake, stop the fucking whining. Jesus rolls his eyes every time you open your mouth, girl.

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22. Rich Fucking Iott. Last week he was listed for playing Nazi. This week, he's listed for playing soldier. Next week, he'll undoubtedly be listed again...for playing with himself.

23. and 24. Rush Fucking Limbaugh and Karl Fucking Rove. Oh, get a room, you two...no, wait, on second thought, don't. I love it when the Nazis start eating their own. It's so Night-of-the-Long-Knives-y. Please, carry on. And may the worst man burp!

25. Jodie Fucking Foster. Sorry, but anyone who defends Mel Fucking Gibson has just lost me. Feminist icons don't defend domestic abusers--it's as simple as that!

26. Joy Fucking Masoff. Historical revisionism, anyone? There is no way a slave can fight for anything willingly, being a slave. And much less for the "right" to keep slaves.

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27. Angelina Fucking Jolie. Yes, that's right, she's listed. Why? Because in the real world, women don't fall in love with their own rapists. And especially not in the ethnic-cleansing conflicts of the Balkans! In what strange parallel universe is it okay for a woman to direct a movie based on such a vile notion?

28. Vincent Fucking Johnson. Once again, trolls, take note. Death threats are illegal and authorities take them seriously. The Internet is not anonymous, and it is not going to shield you any longer.

29. The fucking bastard who drove a bulldozer over Rachel Corrie. I don't for an instant believe he didn't see her; she was wearing an orange vest and was unmissable. Surprise, he's lying! Why is he being granted anonymity? Because Israel's fucking government gave him the order. And it wants to make sure the world gets the message that Israeli soldiers have total impunity for any crime they do, anywhere, anytime.

30. Art Fucking Robinson. Surprise! Another teabag candidate is a racist. Who reads racist lit like it's some kind of classic (which it isn't; it is long out of fashion, and for a good reason). Let's hope Oregonians are smarter than to fall for this piece of trash.

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31. Sharon Fucking Meroni. Figures that someone co-ordinating Repugs to go "challenge" the voting rights of minority voters would be a racist Birther. And yes, she appeals to the unemployed--whites, no doubt--to help out in the Repugs' campaign of prejudice. It's time to make vote-"challenging" illegal, USA--it's just plain antidemocratic.

32. Kelly Fucking Khuri. Yes, the John Birch Society WAS extreme. FASCIST extreme. Just like the Teabaggers. Who are, of course, the descendants of Birchers. (And if you think that's not extreme, get thee to a gas chamber.)

33. Russ Fucking Murphy. And speaking of extremist tea-tards, get a load of who's backing Christine O'Fucking Donnell. Who is still doing her damnedest to out-stoopid Sarah Fucking Palin, BTW.

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34. Jennifer Fucking Petkov. If anyone ever deserved to be called an unfit mother and to lose her kids, this woman is IT. Making fun of a 7-year-old dying of Huntington's is just about as low as one can sink, short of killing her oneself.

35. Stephen Fucking Harper. Who will henceforth be known as Taliban Stevie Peevie, for reasons too clear to deny. And who sucks up to the military while throwing women under the bus. Somehow, those two seemingly unrelated items tie together, don't they?

36. Stephen Fucking Broden. Whenever you get sick of democracy, that's cool--there's always violence. Annie, get your fucking gun.

37. Mark Fucking Steyn. The only place HE should be booked to speak is a max-security psych ward for the criminally insane. Hey, he'd have a capacity audience for the first time in his miserable life!

38. Fucking Dubya. Yes, he's still around. Hasn't drunk himself to death yet, but it sounds like he's workin' on it. Says his biggest failure was not privatizing Social Security. Oh, you mean like that roaring success of Pinochet's that ruined Chile? I (still) say the US's biggest failure was not impeaching that greedy good-for-nothing motherfucking bastard.

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39. Ethan Fucking Ogden. Like Wanker #34, an utterly unfit parent. There is NO excuse for what he did. NONE.

40. Pierre Karl Fucking Peladeau. Because it's not a subsidy when TORIES do it!

41. Orrin Fucking Hatch. Wasn't he among those who persecuted Anita Hill in a flagrantly sexist manner for telling the truth the first time around? (So much so that the women of the US cleaned House and Senate, and voted for Bill Clinton to boot?) I seem to recall that he was. Nice to see that he's still at it, so touchingly defending his pervy Uncle Clarence and dear, deluded Aunt Ginni. At least the man is consistent, albeit consistently a WANKER.

42. Karl Fucking Denninger. Yes, the Father of the Teabags has finally weighed in on the monster he helped to make. If you don't want to attract douches, Karl, how about not being such an idiot yourself? The US constitution has not one clause in it enshrining capitalism as the law of the land. It does, however, say an awful lot about paying your taxes to support the common good. Something, I'm sure, that you don't give a rat's ass about.

And finally, to this week's highly up-close-and-personal wanker, a cracked bell:

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You list me, I list you. And block you and report you for spam, since you seem to be in the habit of making hate-mongering lists targeting those who make you look like an idiot (not that you need any help there). Also like you had a hard time graduating kindergarten: I'm "ugly"? "Inside and out"? Um, no. Actually quite the contrary, as I'm repeatedly told by those who actually KNOW me. You do not.

I don't know who you are either, Cracked Bell, but I can see you need help, and lots of it. I suggest a good foundry, one specializing in repairs to defective metals. You need to stop listening to Glenn Beck, as I'm sure that's what left you so damaged in the first place. And get a life. (But I repeat myself...)

Good night, and get fucked!

October 22, 2010

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Obama's moment of Zen

If only His Barackness were always like this, he WOULD be a socialist. Let's savor him getting this one bang-on, and salute his efforts against bullying, homophobia and suicide. And keep the heat on his feet to drive a stake through the heart of DADT.

Cuban blogger beaten up in Miami. Reason: Free speech!

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Pepe Varela shows graphically what happens to Cuban bloggers who don't follow the hard-right Miamero line.

Dr. Paula Vernimmen, whom I've been following since she was trapped inside the same hospital as president Rafael Correa on September 30, during the failed coup in Ecuador, has appealed via Twitter for someone to translate this into English. It's an entry from Yohandry, a popular Cuban blogger from the island, and it's a shocker, so of course, I had to run with it:

Although we haven't yet found clear references to what occurred, the images above, linked by the Miami police on an official Miami-Dade website, illustrate very well what could be the consequences of exercising your freedom of expression in that city.

During a recent trip to Cuba, Varela, who edits a blog in Miami which defends the Cuban Revolution, denounced the threats he was receiving from ultra-rightist elements in the city on Cambios en Cuba.

The Miami mafia blogosphere is already delighting in the images and celebrating the bestial beating of a man who has done no more than say what he thinks and feels in a city and a country where in reality, dissenting is a crime punished with aberrations like this one.

We ask ourselves what the Miami press headlines and those of other countries are saying now about this abominable act, knowing in advance what the answer will be: silence and manipulation.

At the time, in an interview on video, Varela makes clear that the mafia has been manipulating his family, using them to pressure him, and that he had received e-mails in which he was warned that if he returned to Miami, he would be imprisoned.

It seems, according to these photos, which are worthy of an anthology of violence porn, and which is evident in how they respect human rights in the US, his enemies have managed to silence, at least for a while, the blogger Varela.

Let's keep abreast of the situation of Varela and continue to denounce the tortures and threats to which he was subjected.

These are the photos which Repression ID wanted, and there they are. You'll find nothing like them in Cuba.

We know that the blogger Hernández Busto, based in Barcelona, has been manipulated in the case, but we know that he, along with his cohorts in Miami, are behind this repression.

From Cuba we commence a campaign to denounce violence against those who think differently in Miami.

Signed:

Cuban Bloggers in Defence of Freedom of Expression in Miami

Links as in original.

Here's the video in which Varela tells of the threats he received before the beating:

Seems that "freedom of speech" is restricted to those who toe the fascist line, especially in Miami. And they complain about Cuba?

October 21, 2010

Vote for Pedro!

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Ahem. A vote for Pedro is a vote for me:

Or just bookmark this page, and go there daily and click on you-know-who.

And remember: Vote for Pedro, and your wildest dreams will come true.

October 20, 2010

I've been nominated!

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Yes, that's right, kids...your humble auntie is a nominee in the Feminist category of the Canadian Blog Awards.

I doubt very much that I'll win; there are others more deserving (popular, exclusively feminist, etc.)--but it's nice to have the mention just the same. This eclectic little corner of cyberspace appreciates a good nod, and will certainly try to live up to the recognition it confers.

Congratulations to my fellow nominees, too, many of whom fought for this category to be included and taken seriously. That's what it's all about, this feminism thing--the radical notion that we women are something more than just a ladies' auxiliary.

Media don't get the message. Memo #2, comin' on down...

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Oh, for fuck's sake. When the media latch on to a bad concept, they REALLY latch on and don't let go. Two days ago I blogged about how the Russell Williams case had been mischaracterized as a "fetish" crime. Did anyone get the memo?

The Star's Heather Mallick sure didn't. She went all melodramatic, and then right back to the ol' hinky-kinky:

Up to that point, Williams had been a pathetic panty thief and haunter of little girls. Panties don't talk back. They're mere containers for the living female that inhabits them. Williams later told police that underwear had been his fetish since his 20s, which shows the extraordinary power of a minor brain pattern. He was hopeless with girls. The evidence of his rapes shows that he didn't know how to talk to a victim, and there was even a strange, awkward politeness.

Oh sure. Just another socially awkward panty raider, who raped because he needed to get laid but didn't know how to talk to girls. Weirdo, weirdo. Case dismissed.

That seems to be a pattern at the Star, because another article, one purporting to get inside his criminal profile, also misses the mark:

Col. David Russell Williams -- who this past week indicated through his lawyer that he intends to plead guilty on Oct. 18 to two murders, two sex assaults and a string of fetish break-ins -- is a serial killer like none they have ever seen.

"This guy is quite unusual," says psychologist Vernon Quinsey, who spent 16 years assessing criminals at the Oak Ridge maximum security psychiatric hospital in Penetanguishene.

"We're learning from this case," adds an informed source, who requested anonymity.

"We haven't seen guys like this in the past and we don't expect to see a lot of them in the future."

Williams had a successful career and a long, apparently loving marriage, and didn't embark on a life of crime until he began a series of fetish home burglaries in September 2007, at the age of 44.

"It's very unusual for a guy who's got his act together like that ... to all of a sudden start committing crimes at a late age," says Quinsey, professor emeritus of psychology, biology and psychiatry at Queen's University.

"The guys you typically see start earlier," he adds.

"Almost nobody starts a life of crime when they're in their 40s."

Equally unusual was his escalation from panty fetish to sex assault to murder. Most serial killers assault and kill in tandem, right from the start.

Actually, that's not true either. Serial killers do in fact escalate their actions over a period of years or even decades, refining their technique and growing more violent as they gain confidence in their crime skills.

This guy most certainly didn't "start a life of crime in his 40s". Like all serial killers, his criminal behavioral pattern goes back a lot further than his indictable offences do. And it progresses from slightly odd but seemingly harmless acts to things much more sinister. If the media and the criminologists looked closer, I guarantee you that they would see a Russell Williams who most certainly did NOT have his act together. A CBC Fifth Estate report, which is the best thing I've seen on the Williams case so far, hints that his ability to break and enter may have been established as early as his late teens, when he began attending the University of Toronto. There, he got into the habit of playing an eerie "practical joke" on his dorm-mates: He would break into their locked rooms, hide in their closets for hours, and then when the unsuspecting dormie was doing his homework (or whatever), Williams would emerge from the closet and frighten him. A useful skill, no doubt, when you're a stalker of single, unsuspecting women--or underage girls. (It reminded me, as well, of Vincent Bugliosi's book, Helter Skelter, in which Charles Manson directed his "Family" to "creepy-crawl" the houses of people he wanted them to burgle and kill.)

Alas, they don't say much about the bad breakup Williams went through either, around age 20. It would be interesting if anyone could locate that former girlfriend and find out why she dumped him; I'll bet he was a very troubling boyfriend, abusive and controlling, and she left because she couldn't take his so-called "fetishes" anymore. She might well not be the only previous girlfriend he terrified and alienated! I hope those women, wherever they are, come forward and shed a bit more light on him. They might well be doing the public a service.

If the domestic media got this wrong, the foreign media couldn't be trusted to deliver a less sensationalized version. And sure enough, in the UK, the Telegraph went the Star one further and called Williams a "cross-dresser". That is also dead wrong, of course. Remember what I said about the difference between fetishism and predatory behavior? This guy didn't just want to wear female clothing, he wanted to control the rightful owners of these personal items, to terrify and terrorize them. A cross-dresser usually likes and admires women; a predator hates them and wants to feed off their fear of him. But the Torygraph couldn't be bothered with that. Much more sensational and saleable to show pictures of Williams posing, unsmiling and hirsute, in a girl's pink flowered tankini swimsuit!

I'm not the only blogger taking issue with this stupid habit of the media of chasing after the bright shiny objects (or the flowered pink ones with the string-bikini bottoms). If the media want to score a real scoop, they have to learn where to train their lenses, and it's not on the thing that looks the most shocking. They need to learn to focus on the things--many things--that are easy to overlook at first, but point to larger patterns.

Not everyone at the Star is getting the story wrong. Antonia Zerbisias has been shining a light of feminist inquiry on the little details her colleagues missed. She notes that it was a female police chief whose cops didn't sleep on the strange evidence that was piling up. She rightly asks the question: Does it take a woman to know that the seemingly trivial--the theft of a woman's underwear--is no joke?

I think it does. A woman feels violated when her most intimate clothing is stolen. She feels more naked than she would when simply surprised by a friend while getting out of a shower. Someone strange and uninvited has wormed his way right up close to her, and she can't even see him. Do you have any idea how terrifying that is? Can you, if you're not female? Can you, if you're a policeman who would rather bust a car thief or a stereo stealer? Stolen underwear looks pretty penny-ante to a male. It looks like...well, like a joke.

Like the "joke" Russell Williams played in his college days at U of T, breaking into other students' rooms and hiding in their closets for hours, waiting until his unsuspecting victim was well occupied before scaring the bejeebers out of him.

Or like the "joke" that the media would prefer to make out of all this, forgetting the deadly--and terrifying--implications their little tricks have for women and girls.

October 19, 2010

"Victims, not heroes": A Chilean miner speaks out

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Miner Franklin Lobos demonstrates his soccer skills after his rescue last week. The 53-year-old has broken his silence to debunk a number of media myths built up around him, his comrades, and their 70-day ordeal:

Miner Franklin Lobos, who spent 70 days trapped in a mineshaft in the north of Chile, along with 32 other workers, is fleeing the fame they acquired after his rescue and assured that they are not heroes, but "victims" of the irresponsibility of the owners of the San José mine.

"The people tell us we are heroes, but no, we're not heroes, we're victims. We are fighting for our lives, that's all, because we have families. We are victims of the businesses that didn't invest in safety," said Lobos, in an interview published today by El Mercurio.

Lobos, a former soccer player aged 53, said that the "great majority" of the 33 workers believed that the San Esteban company, owner of the San José mine, would have left them at the bottom of the shaft after the cave-in of August 5.

"The great majority thought that the company would leave us there. It would have been cheaper to let us die than to rescue us," said the miner, who was the 27th man to be rescued on Wednesday.

Lobos assured that none of them lost hope of being rescued, although there were difficult moments. "It didn't depend on us, we had no possible way to get out," he explained.

The sound of the drills that penetrated the rock to reach them gave them hope, although Lobos admits they burst into tears when the first one missed the area where the miners were.

"And we cried, the tears rolled because we saw that one chance of getting out had escaped," he recalls.

Regarding the future, the ex-soccer player said he was prepared to work as a miner again, a job he'd been doing for the last four years and which had enabled him to feed his family.

"The mine didn't want to take us, the the mine wanted us alive, because we weren't the bad guys, we were victims of the businessmen who made millions and didn't think of the suffering of the poor people," says Lobos, who had been at work in the San José mine for four months at the time of the accident.

Lobos, known as "the Magic Mortar" during the 1980s because of his ability to launch free kicks, has received an offer from FIFA to give motivational talks based on his experiences at the bottom of the mine, where he supervised the exercise sessions of his comrades so they would stay in shape.

Although he has not yet responded to the request, Lobos regrets that it arose as a consequence of his having been imprisoned in the mine, and believes that the media assault he and the others are currently enduring will not last long.

"We'll have everything, they'll call all the media, but in two weeks, this will all be over," commented Lobos.

Translation mine.

Lobos might as well point the finger at capitalism itself; it made the disaster inevitable. Not so much the cave-in, which could have happened anywhere to anyone, as the inability of the miners to free themselves; recall that there were no escape races in place for the San José miners to use. The mine owners were so fixated on profit that they skimped on safety. They flouted the laws (such as there were in the gutted system of post-Pinochet Chile).

And now they're pleading poverty? Well, maybe there's some truth to it; they couldn't scare up what it cost to rescue the 33 poor souls, and if it were up to them, no doubt they'd have left them to starve and rot for profit's sake, as other mining violators have done since time immemorial. It was up to the government to save the miners, which it did, even bringing in foreign government-funded experts, like the NASA psychologists, to help in the effort; that's socialism! Epic capitalism fail on so many levels.

So much for the blattings of the idiots, like Daniel Henninger at the Wall St. Urinal, who claim that capitalism "saved the miners". It did no such thing; it all but doomed them. And let's savor how William K. Black, a senior regulator during the savings-and-loan scandals of the Reagan era, kicks Henninger's silly ass over that:

Let's begin with why the miners needed to be saved. They needed to be saved because the private mine they worked for appears to have been a "control fraud."

In a control fraud the person controlling a seemingly legitimate entity uses it as a "weapon." Our ongoing financial crisis was driven by an epidemic of accounting control fraud, which caused the housing and commercial real estate bubbles to hyper-inflate. Accounting control frauds target creditors and shareholders as their primary victims. Anti-purchaser control frauds maximize profits by defrauding purchasers about quality and/or quantity in order to gain a competitive advantage over honest sellers. George Akerlof described this form of control fraud in his famous 1970 article on "lemons." Anti-purchaser control frauds can maim or kill their victims, e.g., Chinese infant formula frauds. The worst anti-employee control frauds increase profits by avoiding costs that would protect workers from being maimed and killed. Illegal, private Chinese coal mines are the infamous example of this type of control fraud.

We know that the Chilean mine was private, that it had a bad safety record, and that it has been ordered to shut down permanently. The BBC reports that the (strongly conservative) President Pinera promised the people of Chile that: "never again in Chile would people be allowed to work in such inhumane conditions." Reports from Chile stress that the mine violated the law in failing to have a second entrance to the mine (which would have greatly reduced the risk of the miners being trapped by the collapse of a portion of the shaft). Local officials have claimed that the only way the mine owners could have gotten away with such an obvious violation of the safety rules was through bribery of the regulatory officials.

Reports from Chile also state that the mine did not have the required ladder that would have allowed the workers to escape the mine in the immediate aftermath of the collapse through a ventilation shaft that subsequently became inaccessible. The "innovation dynamic" that was "everywhere" in the Chilean mine due to the profit motive also explains why the ladder was not there. To sum it up, the miners wouldn't have had to be rescued but for the perverse incentives of that unregulated capitalism inherently produces (which is what Obama warned about). (The governmentally-owned coal mines in China also have a far better safety record than the private Chinese coal mines.)

Once the mine shaft collapsed in Chile, the private mining company declared that it not only could not pay to rescue the miners -- it could not even pay their wages. The private company threatened to file for bankruptcy. The rescue was paid for by the State-owned mine (i.e., the Chilean government had to bail out the private mine owner to the tune of an estimated rescue cost of $10 to $20 million in order to rescue the miners). A $25 ladder apparently would have prevented the tragedy, but the private owners' profit motive led them to avoid that expense. The Chilean mine had gold and copper ore. Both of those minerals are selling for record prices. This makes the private mining company's failure to provide another exit and a ladder all the more outrageous. Where did the profits go? Capitalism would have left the miners to die. The government paid to rescue the miners.

Ouch!

And FAIR's Steve Rendall notes:

I'm sure the miners are thankful for the heroic drill bit, but their opinion of the role of capitalism in their debacle might be less breathless than Henninger's. Indeed, most of the miners have weighed in on the central capitalist actor in the story: At least 29 of the 33 miners' families have filed lawsuits against San Esteban.

Also inconvenient for Henninger's argument: The rescue was run by the Chilean government and its relevant ministries, not by the capitalist company. Oh, and the U.S. government's space agency, NASA, also played a crucial role, designing the rescue capsule and consulting on safety issues.

Moreover, it's worth noting that, while Chile's larger, government-owned mines have relatively good safety records, the same cannot be said for its smaller, capitalist-run mines, such as San Esteban's.

So much for the notion that capitalism is cheaper, more efficient, and better than governments at running things. But then, Franklin Lobos and his compañeros--the "great majority" of whom are suing the company now--could probably tell you all about that.

October 18, 2010

Memo to the media: Lose your sexual fetish and report the REAL story!

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For those living in Southern Ontario, these are interesting times, in the Chinese-curse sense of the word. An air-force colonel from CFB Trenton is currently standing trial for a stunning series of offences ranging from stalking and break/enter to rape and murder. Any of these crimes is a shocking thing for a prosperous man in uniform to commit, but the media have fixated inordinately on the sexualized nature of his ugliest offences.

Take, for example, the Toronto Star's Heather Mallick. Normally she gets it right, but today, she fell into a predictable media-dumbass trap: the inability to distinguish between two things that must not be confused. See if you can spot what things I'm talking about:

No, I don't know why he did what he did, and I have the awful feeling that we'll never know. It just may be that the result of his guilty plea is that we won't discover what seed was planted that gave root to this level of perversion and cruelty. The court won't dig deeply enough.

It's not sufficient to say that he liked doing what he did, the best and most customary explanation for psychopathology and fountain-like cruelty.

What this day revealed is the awful specificity of the human sexual impulse.

Did you spot it?

I'll give you a hint, in case you didn't. It lies in the last three words. What Col. Russell Williams did was not due to the "human sexual impulse", although it may look as though he did.

It's hard to blame Heather Mallick for making that blunder; she was surely not the only one. Peter Mansbridge, on CBC, fell into the same trap when interviewing a criminal profiler about the case. So, I'm sure, did many other reporters, covering this story from the whole gamut of slants and angles.

Williams's crimes had a sexual overtone that was impossible to miss. He stalked single women and girls. He broke into their homes. He rifled through their clothing, particularly their underwear. He photographed himself wearing said clothing, particularly the victims' underwear. He masturbated on their beds. He stole hundreds of pieces of underwear and other intimate objects, and kept extensive photographic files on his computer as trophies of his violations. And when that didn't suffice him, he graduated to sexual assault, and then to killing.

As far as the major media are concerned, it appears that Russell Williams is a sexual fetishist gone off the deep end. He isn't.

He is a predator.

There are several crucial differences between the two. These are the differences:

For a fetishist, an object (or specific body part) stands in for a human being in a sexual context. For a predator, a human being becomes an object; the objectification is sexualized.

A fetishist usually doesn't steal fetish objects; s/he prefers to buy them or barter for them. Fetishists prefer to obtain the consent of the person from whom they get their things.

A predator invariably steals. Consensual activity does not interest him. Stealing, for the predator, is a form of control; it renders victims uncertain, ashamed and afraid. The predator is aroused by the notion that he has control over a victim's emotions. He appropriates what is not rightfully his, often making it his by wearing it, posing for photos in it, or mutilating it. Often, the more intimate the object--underwear, for instance--the more desirable it is as a means to scare his victims. This is why a predator's thefts should not be laughed off as a kind of solitary panty raid, but taken seriously an indicator of more devious criminality below the surface.

Fetishists don't always act alone; they may share with a fellow fetishist, or a club of like-minded individuals, if so inclined. Usually their activities are consensual. They rarely feel the need to impose themselves forcibly on someone else. In fact, they usually derive comfort from knowing they are freely accepted.

Predators usually act alone. If they take an accomplice, it is never an equal partner but a subordinate; see Paul Bernardo and his battered wife/accomplice, Karla Homolka. Some accomplices are taken under extreme duress, in keeping with the predator's controlling nature, or are gradually persuaded through some form of brainwashing. But in any case, they are weaker than the predator, and thus easily manipulated. Predators impose themselves on their accomplices, who in a sense are also victims.

A fetishist isn't generally interested in controlling a person; s/he is content to play with an object or collection of objects, and obtains sexual gratification that way. This activity usually doesn't escalate.

A predator collects human victims as trophies, rendering them into objects to be controlled. When he grows tired of taking easy, inanimate trophies--stolen jewelry, underwear or other personal effects--he begins to entertain the notion of taking humans themselves as his trophies. He escalates his violations over time, in both frequency and intensity, as an addict will increase his dose of drugs when he becomes habituated.

Fetishists are rarely violent. Many are quite odd, but this is beside the point; their oddity generally harms no one. They tend to respect the dignity of others.

Predators are increasingly violent. Often they do not stand out as odd on first glance; their cultivated façade of normality IS the point. It enables them to escalate their crimes until they die or are caught, whichever comes first.

So, we can see that a fetishist ≠ a predator. If anything, they are diametrically opposed.

This is why I get so angry when I see the media falling into the trap of fixating on Williams's alleged sexual fetishes, instead of understanding that he is a predator, one who sexualizes power-over. The media's job is to clear up our confusion, and instead, they are adding to it. And in so doing, they hang women and children--the persons most likely to become a predator's victims--out to dry.

Is it the mention of sex that flips the switch? I think it must be.

We live in a society full of strange sexual double standards. It's okay to use sex to sell everything under the sun, but "obscene" for a new mother to breastfeed in public. It's okay to show people being blown up in a bloody mess on TV, but not a happy couple making love. Porn sex? That's another matter altogether. It's commercial, it often looks sterile, mechanistic and unreal, therefore it passes muster with the censors. It seems that anything which objectifies people is all right, while anything that humanizes them or shows them in their natural form is suspect, to be viewed askance.

The predator has infiltrated the media, infusing it with the sex-object mindset. Often, the media itself is the predator; think of all the times the various outlets have been liked to hunting wolves or circling vultures. Is it any wonder, then, that crime stories lead the nightly newscast? They are the pornography of those who would never watch a blue movie or an amateur sex tape. Blood and guts are sexy. If it bleeds, it leads.

The only problem is, that blood has to come from somewhere. Or rather, someONE.

And in the case of Russell Williams, it came from living, breathing, beloved women. Somebody's daughters. Somebody's sisters.

Williams stalked females whom he saw as unguarded and alone. It was the typical cowardice of the predator: pick off the one who is further away from the herd than the rest. To designate them the weakest, fit only to be culled. In his mind, as in the minds of all predators, they were isolated and therefore fair game.

They were not. They belonged to others. Families who suffered when these daughters, these sisters, were brutalized and killed.

Of course, to point out the psychopathy of one who would do such a thing is less sexy than dwelling in minute detail on "the awful specificity of the human sexual impulse", as Heather Mallick calls it. To look away from the queasy spectacle of a man posing and prancing and masturbating in women's underwear and try to open a window into his head, where the victim is coldly and clinically isolated from her near and dear, is much less likely to sell papers or glue eyeballs to the commercial-flashing screen. But it is necessary. It is the media's duty to get behind all this, to talk to psychologists and psychiatrists, criminalists and profilers, who know the difference between a fetishist and a predator, and to convey this difference to their readers, listeners and viewers.

Knowledge is power, but the media only seem to give it while in effect they are taking it away. And in the process, women and girls are being disproportionately made to suffer, and are also disproportionately made invisible, their truth concealed even as sexualized object-females dance merrily across screen and page, everywhere, all the time.

And we, the consumers, do we go on consuming this falsehood blindly? If we do, we are complicit. We enable our own abusers, our objectifiers, by letting this slip by and not speaking out. We are infiltrated. We become inured to the predatory mindset; we may even fall victim to a form of it ourselves.

If we let that happen, we become accomplices. Shake hands with our predator, people--the predator is us.

Centaurs!

You think you've seen awesome bike stunts? You haven't until you've seen this. German girls can kick everyone's ass.

October 17, 2010

Stupid Sex Tricks: In which Christine O'Donnell comes out the loser, AGAIN

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Surprise! Forcing God to kill kittens is good for you. And, if scientists say true, it's also good for evolution--a concept in which certain devout teabags don't believe, even as the evidence just keeps piling up that it is real...

The science is straightforward. Whenever a behavior is common in the animal kingdom, biologists suspect it has an adaptive function. That is, the behavior enabled individual animals to survive better and leave more offspring than animals that did not engage in the behavior. As a result, genes for the behavior spread throughout that population until it became essentially ubiquitous. And so it is with autoeroticism, which is common--really common. As the Science in Seconds blog noted this week, what with "spanking the monkey," "charming the snake," and "freeing willy," a remarkable number of the slang terms for pleasuring oneself refer to animals. That reflects reality: the practice has been documented in Japanese macaques, gibbons, baboons, chimps, elephants, dogs, cats, horses, lions, donkeys, "and walruses that manage to flog the bishop with their fins."

So what's so evolutionarily adaptive--i.e., good--about playing with oneself? Admittedly, the scientists only looked at males from various species (hey, what are we females--chopped liver? Ugh, don't answer that.) But their theories are as follows:


  1. Masturbation increases the healthy-sperm count by clearing old, broken wigglers from the male reproductive tract and stimulating the production of fresh young ones;

  2. Masturbation might be a form of advertising ("Hey, ladies, my equipment works!");

  3. Masturbation might be a form of victory lap ("Woohoo, I just got lucky! Hey, who wants to be next?");

  4. Masturbation can serve a hygienic function ("I was cleaning my gun when it went off").

Personally, I rather hope that reasons #2 and 3 don't apply to humans. I think--no, I know from experience that I'd be creeped out by a guy advertising his services that way. And I think that #4 really just harks back to #1. So, ultimately, this rather sexist list is just two purposes long.

Solitary sex may also serve several other purposes, not mentioned in the article: to prepare a growing adolescent for later sexual activity, helping him/her get acquainted in a safe way with the body and its routes to pleasure. These preferences can later be shared with a partner, improving the experience for both.

And in the case of girls, it can spare them the risk of an unwanted pregnancy or a fertility-killing STD, and increase their sense of autonomy. ("Who needs your bullshit, Jack, I can do this for myself!" Of course, that's just why Christine was railing about wanking guys. Someone should have told her that sauce for the gander is sauce for the goose!)

Of course, this doesn't take into account the main reasons why males and females of all species do it most--because they can, and because it feels good. Solo sex is not only as safe as it gets (assuming you're not into autoerotic asphyxia, of course)--it's also the most likely to get you off.

And, assuming that there is a God who has a purpose for everything, the question invariably arises: Why would God make a "bad" thing feel so darn good? Unless, of course, that thing isn't bad after all--in which case, why did God make it so rewarding--and give us arms long enough to reach easily down to there?

Uh oh, I think I just heard someone's head exploding. Christine, was that you?

Pierre Laporte remembered

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Pierre Laporte in April 1970, a few months before his kidnapping and assassination by members of the Québec Liberation Front (FLQ). He was one of two men kidnapped by the FLQ during the October Crisis; the other, James Cross, who was kidnapped before Laporte, was later released. Pierre Laporte was the sole fatality. His son, Jean, has written a tribute to him that I just had to translate and share:

It was 40 years ago, on October 10, that they took my father. It's been 40 years, on October 17, that my father was taken away from me.

For me, the October Crisis is much more than an historic event that the media talk about every 10 years. October 1970 evokes above all the tragic loss of my father, a person I loved and admired. October 1970 completely turned my life upside down, has marked it forever, and the historic recalls continue to haunt the lives of my nearest and dearest.

For the majority of Québécois, Pierre Laporte is the minister who was killed in October 1970. The name might also bring to mind a bridge, a school, a highway...For my family and for me, it's much more. Pierre Laporte was a father, a husband, an uncle, a brother. He was the pillar of the Laporte family. He was also a man much involved in his community, warm and genuine.

Today I'd like to talk about my father, since the historic crisis has had the effect of eclipsing his contribution to our society.

Pierre Laporte was a journalist at the newspaper Le Devoir for 16 years. His work contributed to the defeat of the National Union [party] and the birth of the Quiet Revolution. An ardent opponent to the head of the National Union, Maurice Duplessis, he was the one who revealed the natural-gas scandal and the dubious electoral activities of that government.

Moving from journalism to politics, he was elected four times deputy of the county of Chambly, in 1961, 1962, 1966 and 1970. In the government of Jean Lesage, he was an important member of the team of the Quiet Revolution. He was named minister of municipal affairs and later of cultural affairs.

After the defeat of the Liberal Party in 1966, he became leader of the official opposition. In 1970, he participated in the leadership convention of the Liberal party, which chose Robert Bourassa. He rallied without hesitation around his new chief. After the victory of the PLQ (Québec Liberal Party) in April, he became parliamentary leader and head of the ministry of Labour, as well as Immigration, along with the title of vice-premier.

My father was probably the most nationalistic of the Bourassa cabinet's ministers. He was recognized as a redoubtable parliamentarian, but he was also greatly appreciated by his colleagues, in his own party as well as others.

And then came the October Crisis...

The province of Québec lost a great politician who loved Québec with all his heart, who cherished the French language, who loved action and life. A man who gave years of his life to his province, who fought against social injustices with respect for democracy and who worked tirelessly for the advancement of numerous causes.

The October Crisis led to the useless and sometimes abusive arrests of many citizens. Their families suffered for it. All the citizens touched by these arrests have been able to regain their families, their home lives. But not Pierre Laporte.

Forty years after the October Crisis, is it not time to remember Pierre Laporte as well, the journalist and the man of politics, and to recognize his support for his province and country? It is time to return Pierre Laporte to the place he deserves in history beyond his tragic end, and for that, it doesn't matter what our political allegiances are. In so doing, we say yes to democracy, yes to our freedoms, and no to violence.

It is this which I wish for my father, for my family, and for all those who never want to live through another October 1970.

The October Crisis is uniquely tragic; it is the only time in peacetime Canadian history that the War Measures Act was invoked. The kidnappings of Laporte and Cross were what prompted it. A day after it was formally invoked in Parliament (notably, with the agreement of all opposition parties, including the separatist Parti Québécois), the FLQ announced that they had killed Pierre Laporte.

Would a more peaceful response have saved him? Possibly. But it's hard to know for sure, since the day before the Act's invocation, the FLQ-sympathetic union leader Michel Chartrand had boasted, "We are going to win because there are more boys ready to shoot members of Parliament than there are policemen." The FLQ may well have been planning at least one assassination, a sacrificial murder to show that they meant business; in which case, the pro-Québec but still unity-loving Pierre Laporte's life was probably forfeit no matter what. In an atmosphere of rising pro-FLQ sentiment, with large, well-attended demonstrations in support, it must have looked as though national unity were truly under siege, although the actions of the Parliament (and indeed, of a majority of Québécois, over time) have demonstrated the opposite.

Angry talk is often just that and nothing more. But not so the word of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, who famously said "Just watch me" when a reporter asked him what he was going to do. He promised action, and he delivered it.

Unfortunately, so too did the FLQ--in direct response to those words and the actions that followed them. They delivered the body of Pierre Laporte in the trunk of a car, abandoned in the bush near an airport.

The unity of Canada has often been in doubt, but only during October 1970 was it truly in danger.

Music for a Sunday: Lights all around us, won't you take a chance?

Out of sight but never out of mind. Blue Peter is unforgettable, and some of the effects in this video (like the spilling martini glass, which is actually inverted in an aquarium to create an air bubble) are downright ingenious.

October 16, 2010

Wankers of the Week: Wanktoberfest

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Yes, there really is such a thing in Germany...yes, I've been on it myself and can recommend it, the view is fantastic, about 400 peaks on a clear day...and no, you can't play with yourself while riding it, unless you want to be arrested by some truly humorless cops. Or whacked over the head by the loaded purse of a big, bad-tempered Helga.

Happy Oktoberfest, everyone! Pull up a big Steinkrug of something frothy and full of hops, you're gonna need it. This sour Kraut is gonna serve you up the Wurst* of the Week. And here they are, in no particular order:

1. Carl Fucking Paladino. This is why there's a legal separation of church and state, kiddies. Kids shouldn't be brainwashed into thinking that a sexist, racist, bestiality-loving homophobe is an equally valid and successful option. At best, this jackass is a dysfunctional heterosexual. That's not only nothing to be proud of, that's not normal. But being gay is, and what's more, there's nothing optional about it--unless you think you also get to pick and choose your hair and eye color at conception. PS: Care to explain THIS, Carl? Or this? Oh, and how could we forget this?

1 1/2. Yehuda Fucking Levin wrote that homophobic drivel? Well, there goes the church/state separation.

2. Byron Fucking Williams. Surprise! He was brainwashed into a violent, armed terror plot by Glenn Fucking Beck. Which reminds me...

3. Glenn Fucking Beck. Yeah, sure, your health problems are caused by "spiritual wounds", Biff. Totally self-inflicted, since you chose to be a Mormon so you could schtup your wife--who, mirabile dictu, STILL puts up with your shit. Sky pixies work in mysterious ways! Now get the fuck down off that cross, you're nobody's fucking messiah. PS: You're nobody's fucking Anaïs Nin, either. PPS: And stop telling people to give money to Big Fucking Bidness. It already has more of their cash than it knows what the hell to do with. The last thing it needs is one more fucking carte blanche to screw the people.

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4. Malcolm Fucking Gladwell. I always did find his reductionist approach irksome, and now I know why. He's too glib, and way too shallow. He's also detached from reality! People who don't use social media are ill-positioned to pontificate on why these sites don't work as activist tools. Speaking as one who's used them for such myself, I know he's dead wrong. And I also know in what ways he's dead wrong. Facebook and Twitter are great tools for getting necessary news and campaign links out to activists, and are quicker and easier ways of reaching mass audiences than door-knocking and phone-calling. Cheaper than placing ads, too. PS: Did I mention that he's full of shit?

5. Mark Fucking Kruger. Surprise! That hard-ass right-wing cop who brooks no leftist dissent, in a city (Portland, Oregon) famous for just that? Nazi symp all the way. LITERALLY. So much so that he's even used public spaces for his fascist activities. Isn't that illegal? Ja, verdammt noch mal, es ist!

6. Karl Fucking Rove. Yes, how DARE Obama tell the truth about you? The worst possible thing for a Democrat to have is a spine. And the second worst a mouth not full of marbles where Repugs are concerned.

7. Sarah Fucking Palin. Just how many times is she gonna change the story of Trig's birth before finally admitting that he wasn't really her baby after all? I've lost track of all the revisions on this one, but it just keeps getting hinkier. And harder to believe.

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8. Alan Fucking García. Not content to be the president of Peru (and yes, a big fat corrupto), he's a bully, too. Pick on someone your own size, you gigantic sack of shit!

9. Charles Fucking Leaf. FUX Snooze "reporter" (note the quotes) sexually assaults 4-year-old girl. Republican family values in action, yet again. Film at 11.

10. Pamela Fucking Geller. One of American Fascistan's dumbest blogtards might also be a scamstress with ties to organized crime. Might be, you say, sneering? Well, we knew she was criminally stupid and a grifter from the content of her blog alone, but we just didn't know that car money played into it. Also, Sopranos-style hit jobs. (No, I'm not kidding. Go to the link and see for yourself. I command you.)

11. Lynn Fucking Crosbie. So, it's okay to use gay as a derogatory adjective, then? Cool. Your pissy little screed is so gay. And black. And Jewish. And...got the idea yet? Oh, and PS: Lines like this...

The media are not raising your bully. Smack some sense into that kid.

...are not terribly bright of you, either. Parents who smack their kids around are the ones who raise bullies. Did you sleep through that lesson, Lynn? And the media ARE influential, with or without the collusion of parents, like it or not. You call yourself a journalist, Lynn? Then learn to use language responsibly, and don't give me any "free speech is sacred" excuses. Homophobic "free speech" is getting kids beaten up and killed lately, in case you haven't noticed.

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12. Trent Fucking Franks. Abortion is WHAT? Um, no, it isn't. But you know what IS worse for blacks than slavery? That this long after the Emancipation Proclamation, black women in the US are still not the mistresses of their own wombs. And men of all colors still have more power over that organ than THEY do.

13. Ken Fucking Buck. Like I was saying for Wanker #12. Men of all colors. And etcetera.

14. Rush Fucking Limbaugh. Mammograms are WHAT? Um, no, they're not. Men get them too. And men with moobs like the Pigman's are more likely to need them. Just something to consider the next time you go off on one of your "Feminazi" rants, Rusty. And you better pray that pretty new beard missus of yours doesn't end up dying of cancer because of the stupid shit you said, either.

15. Lee Fucking Abrams. Roger Ebert, of the competing Chicago Sun-Times, asks if there's "an adult in the house". Well might he wonder.

16. Marshall Fucking Mathers. Yes, that's right, Eminem made the wank-list this week. (Last week it was Fifty Fucking Cent, for the same basic reasons.) And no, he's not being charged with sexism and homophobia because he's white (as he claims), he's being charged as such because he is sexist and homophobic. Also a self-important fucking putz who's not the sharpest knife in the drawer. That shit is intolerable, whether the shitter is black OR white. Any questions?

17. Ilario Fucking Pantano. Did no one give this assclown the memo that the Cold War is over? Get off the fucking panic button, you're wearing a hole in it.

18. Michelle Fucking Malkin. If arrogance bothers her so much, why didn't she say boo about Dubya's immense arrogance over the course of eight fucking years? And speaking of bitter, Ms. Maglalang, you're IT. Shut the fuck up and fuck the hell off, you unhinged little racist troll.

19. Mark Fucking Kirk. And while we're on the subject of racists, how about this screaming closet case? Caging black folks' (usually Democratic) votes in Chicago is one good way to get your ass in deep shit. And deservedly so.

20. Rand Fucking Paul. If you're hostile towards government, DON'T RUN FOR PUBLIC OFFICE. How hard is THAT to process? And if you think the problem of discrimination should be left to the individual, well...I'm sure the slave owners of the 1850s south thought much the same way. And we all know from just a cursory glance at history how amenable to voluntary change they were! (Come to think of it, simple-minded flibbers shouldn't run for public office, ever, period. All they'd ever do is vote to entrench the problem, never solve it. Anyone who thinks Howard Roark was real should also be automatically disquaified.)

21. Pat Fucking Sajak. Say what? Public sector workers should not be allowed to vote on issues that concern them directly? Oh great. They should not get a say. That's what Sajak is saying! Now hear this: Disenfranchisement is antidemocratic, and so is capitalism--and so are its out-of-touch adherents.

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22. Stephen Fucking Harper. How not-a-leader is he? So much so that Canada's gonna have to wait another 10 years before vying for a UN Security Council seat. Oh, and get this: He and his band of buffoons blame Iggy for their own fumble--when they're not busy blaming a nefarious "secret" popularity contest at the UN. Thanks, Harpo--for pissing all over "the principles that this country holds dear", as you so quaintly call them! The UN is one of those, but your right-wing remake plans for it certainly are not.

23. Fucking "Marlene" (no last name given). Assaulting a woman for wearing a niqab does NOT make you a victim. Nor is her wearing one an offence. Comprenez-vous?

24. Phyllis Fucking Schlafly. Still not dead yet. And still not distinguishable from a crackbrained fundie-Muslim cleric, either. People who think like that have no one but themselves to blame when women don't want to marry anymore.

25. Bill O'Fucking Reilly. Why?

That's why.

And remember Jeremy Glick when you hear Billo talking sanctimoniously about those 9-11 families he patronizes. That's how he REALLY feels about them--he doesn't give a damn for any of them, unless they serve HIS purposes. And even then...he really doesn't give a damn for anyone but Bill O'Fucking Reilly.

26. Bryan Fucking Fischer. Would somebody please put a sock in him? Everytime he opens his homophobic piehole, a kid gets bullied to death. And victim-blaming ("If we want to see fewer students commit suicide, we want fewer homosexual students") isn't going to help. Next thing you know, this asshole is going to be calling homophobes the victims--of some kind of nefarious gay agenda plot to squick them fatally out, I bet.

27. Ann Fucking Coulter. Seriously, Connecticut? You couldn't find evidence of the Coultergeist's voter fraud, even when it's as obvious as the boniness of her kneecaps (which could put your eye out, BTW)? Or is it somehow not voter fraud when well-connected white Repugnican blowhards do it? In any case, FAIL.

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28. Brendan O'Fucking Rourke. The only reason I have this racist school shooter listed as a mere wanker, and not something much worse, is that he didn't manage to kill the kids he fired upon. But how could anyone miss his flamboyant derangement when he was known for shouting "Death to Obama", too? Maybe because the media is still bending over backwards to kiss the tea-turds' collective ass? Oh, just maybe.

29. Craig Fucking Chandler. Some friends of mine know this one only too well, having tussled frequently with his far-right homophobia during their days at McMaster University, where he led the campus chapter of the then Reform Party (which has since been merged back into the Tories from whence it came). So we know he's a sleazy little fascist who's never done an honest day's work in his life. And now we know he's also a shyster getting rich off other people's misery. In other words, not much about this one has changed between then and now, except to grow even more so.

30. Julian Fucking Fantino. Another homophobe currently trying to make it as a SupposiTory by-election candidate. This one was an absolute disaster as chief of the OPP. His specialties? Going after gays on the pretext of looking for kiddie porn, opposition to the long gun registry (which puts him at odds with other police chiefs, who like it) and oh yeah, RAMPANT RACISM. He was an epic fail as a provincial police commissioner, in other words. But a perfect fit for the Tories, who think gravity should be made to work in reverse.

31. Pedro Fucking Bordaberry. Yes, that's right, the son of the former Uruguayan dictator is on the tweeter. And accusing the democratically elected ex-Tupamaro president of Uruguay, Pepe Mujica, of "authoritarian temptation". As opposed to his own old man, who gave in to that succubus without so much as a blush. Don't you just love it when oligarchs are so consistent?

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"Pedro, they sentenced me to 30 years in jail...they say I shat on the constitution!"

"Dad, tell them the truth--there was no more toilet paper!"

32. Matthew Fucking Continetti. Who? Oh, just another of Sarah Fucking Palin's little sycophants. Still pathetically trying to defend her with complete illogic, which is all they have left. Stick a fork in her, and don't forget to skewer them--which shouldn't be hard to do, as they're conveniently attached, remora-like, to her ass. They're all done.

33. Tony Fucking Blair. Yes, the Poodle is back on the wank-list, and so's his book. Not because it's anything great to wank to, but quite the opposite; reading that limp sample passage about what he did with Cherie when he needed a power boost just about wilted my nipples. I think that at this rate, he should be a shoo-in for the Bad Sex Award. The fact that Martin Fucking Amis is already shortlisted means he'll be in, er, illustrious company.

34. Adam Fucking Josephs. Yes, Officer Bubbles is back on the wank-list. This time, for wanting to sue a creative YouTuber who used his perfectly legal freedom of speech to make some much needed fun of a hard-ass who was stupid enough to get caught on camera abusing his powers. Apparently, this still ain't Canada. PS: What Dawg said.

35. Jordan Fucking Forney. Funny how everytime a bunch of fratboys get caught with their pants metaphorically down, reinforcing sexism and rape culture, it's an "isolated incident" where "things just got out of hand" due to a "lapse in judgment". When is anyone going to admit that the problem is systemic, and that it happens everytime a bunch of guys get together and use aggression as a pretext for bonding? When will anyone admit that fraternities are what Vonnegut's Bokonon would have called a granfalloon? And who will be the admitter? Jordan?

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36. Condoleezza Fucking Rice. Yes, Dubya's dear Auntie Condi decided to rear her conked head this week and admit that "mistakes were made" in Iraq. Unfortunately, she made a blunder of her own. See if you can spot it here:

"I do believe I would take Saddam Hussein out of power again, but of course in the rebuilding of Iraq ... I would do things differently," Rice said. "I think we put too much emphasis on Baghdad and not enough emphasis on the provinces. Perhaps we didn't fully understand the degree to which the society would start to come apart as a result of being held in tyranny for all those years."

At the same time, Rice said it is still too early to fully judge the success or failure of that war or other foreign policy issues in the administration of George W. Bush.

Still too early? It's been two years since Dubya's been done robbin', rapin' and killin'. And as I've been saying all along, Saddam's "tyranny" is not the reason Iraq fell apart; the same BushCo that took him down built him up back in the 1980s, when the enemy was neighboring Iran. The reason, the ONLY reason, is that Iraq got bombed, blasted and plundered by BushCo. And of course, Condi would never acknowledge that, because that would be self-incrimination. She was, after all, in charge of the foreign policy mess that she's now trying to spin, yet again.

37. Sharron Fucking Angle. There is literally no lunacy that's too loony for her. But when Crazybitch starts slamming my home and native land, it's personal. FYI, Sharron, you fucking idiotess, precisely NONE of the 9-11 terrorists got in through Canada, much less Mexico, or illegally. They all came perfectly legally through US international airports. If anyone's gonna have his immigration puppy-papers in order, it's a member of al-CIAda. Got that? Good. Now fuck off.

38. Rupert Fucking Murdoch. Uh oh, did somebody forget that the Nazis were on the right, not the left? Looks like he did. And looks like the ADfuckingL forgot, too. The fact that Rupee donates money and airtime to the most overtly fascist party in the US slides right by those dumbfucks. As does the fact that most US Jews are, and have long been, Democrats, if not REAL leftists! Oh yeah, and guess what...those who criticize Israel the most, and most cogently, in the US...are JEWISH. Who's the Nazi again?

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And finally, to all the fucking teabaggers out there who are brainwashing indoctrinating homeskooling their kids with that shit. I can't really put it any better than The Rude Pundit can, so I'll leave you with his words on the matter and sign off as is my custom:

Good night, and get fucked!

*And yes, Wurst can also be German slang for shit. Stands to reason, nicht wahr?

Quotable: David Rosen on right-wing "feminists"

"The Tea Party movement, like the Christian right, champions the "sexy sisters" as a may to restore the old-fashioned man on his long-lost throne. So long as women do not demand abortion rights, maternity leave, equal pay and equal sexual pleasure, they are welcomed into the movement. God forbid they should demand more."

--David Rosen, at Alternet

October 15, 2010

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Chavecito in Russia

The Big Guy from Venezuela was in Russkylandia today, up to his usual business: firming up bilateral relations (already the closest they've ever been between the two countries since his inauguration in 1999); buying military hardware (this time, 35 tanks); signing trade deals (especially petroleum-related ones); discussing nuclear energy development; and shaking hands with all the usual suspects...

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...in some seriously classy surroundings.

And I get the distinct impression that the Russkies are very pleased with the whole thing--check out Dimitri Medvedev's expression:

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Things between the two countries are so good, in fact, that there are even plans to erect a statue of Simón Bolívar in Moscow--one that's the exact duplicate of his most famous equestrian monument in Caracas.

Now that's what I call progress!

October 14, 2010

Short 'n' Stubby: Chilean mine rescue afterparty edition

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Ms. Manx, being an introvert, finds parties a tad overwhelming and battery-draining. She prefers to kick back and relax after it's all over, hear herself think, and nibble a bowl of tasty tidbits. Here's what she found to munch on today:

Salon.com's Mary Elizabeth Williams has been covering the human-interest angle of the mine rescue with introspective pieces that are in line, generally, with Ms. Manx's view of it all. The Stumpy Cat's fave so far is this one, in which Williams accurately diagnoses the real secret of the "miracle" rescue: human solidarity (which, incidentally, is an adaptive trait; science confirms it.) The money quote comes from rescued miner #2, Mario Sepúlveda: "I would like to see the world united by love, not a religious love, but just no more fights, no more war." Bingo!

Another piece, which gets mixed reviews from the Resident Stumpie, is this one, in which Williams manages to get right the miners' need for breathing space, but then makes the mistake of conflating survival with heroism. Ms. Manx shakes her head at that sugary interpretation, and says she prefers this one, which correctly distinguishes between survivors (the miners) and heroes (their rescuers). More importantly, it underscores Chile's shoddy workplace safety record, particularly in the mines. (Ms. Manx would like to refer you back to this post, in which Che Guevara and Alberto Granado revealed the ugly cracks in the system more than 50 years ago, and remind you that very little has changed since then, at least for the poorest Chileans.)

Ms. Manx also likes that there is talk of punishing the mining companies that are out of compliance. But she would prefer action, and frankly, she has her grave doubts that Sebastián Piñera is good for anything other than putting in a token appearance on this front. That said, she IS glad that he stuck around to see every single man brought out of the hole. But she would expect no less of any leader, and indeed, much more out of Chavecito, Evo and El Ecuadorable, all of whom have survived attempts on their lives after working their butts off to truly improve the lot of their people. Piñera doesn't strike her as being anywhere near that level of valor. Maybe that's because he has deep and troubling connections to the very man responsible for Chilean mines' current state of laxity and shoddiness. One of them is his brother, José--infamous and despised for his labor-union "reforms", and for having privatized the Chilean pension system, in line with Milton Friedman's free-market (read: enslaved-people) doctrines. Oh yeah, and here's something else José Piñera did, that has direct repercussions in this case: He privatized Chile's state-owned mines. That may explain why conditions there are so shitty, no?

And speaking of Augusto Pinochet, he has some troubling ties of his own--to Copiapó of all places, the mining town nearest the disaster site. The NY Times account is harrowing, but not nearly in-depth enough. The last paragraph is key:

"March 11, 2010, the right wing is back at the scene of the crime," reads a line of graffiti on one of Copiapó's walls, referring to Mr. Piñera's inauguration date -- presumably spray-painted before his popularity was bolstered by the rescue.

Something tells me Piñera won't be coasting on that ratings boost for very long, unless he makes good on his promise to punish the offenders. And unless he reverses the damage his brother did under Pinochet. Somehow, considering his repeated refusal to condemn the dictator (and his supporters' odious idolatry of the old fascist torturer!), Ms. Manx is deeply skeptical of this president.

Oh yeah, and it's also why she thinks articles like this one are fit only to line her litterbox with. Pinochet is not "buried" in Piñera's Chile, he's still very much alive. And for proof of that, look no further than how the indigenous people are being treated. Did you know that the Mapuche are on hunger strike? And that their peaceful protests are meeting with violent reprisals? No? Thank the media circus in Copiapó for that oversight. And then read this and play catch-up.

And finally, on a lighter note (more for us than for the parties involved), Ms. Manx dug up this bit of español, which I'll précis very precisely here. Seems that the miner whose mistress showed up to greet him with a big, shameless smooch not only scared off his spouse, but another woman, this one just 25 years old. She beat up the younger one, and defends herself thusly: "I hit her, she had to be driven away with blows...How else should I act, if I'm in love?" Oh yeah, and she dissed the miner's lawfully wedded wife, too: "When the money showed up, all the dead came out of the tomb. This old bag came out of the tomb because she thought Yonni was dead, to collect the money." Interesting way of putting it, Susana. Unfortunately, after 10 years of carrying on but with no divorce forthcoming, it's unlikely that she'll see a peso. And that younger one is all the more indication that he's not to be trusted. In her shoes, Ms. Manx says, she'd find another tomcat, one with clearer stripes.

And this is why I call him The Big Dick...

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Five years after the infamous incident of the shotgun, Harry Whittington is still not the man he used to be. And guess who is to blame:

The lawyer shot five years ago by then vice-president Dick Cheney told the The Washington Post Thursday that his injuries from the hunting accident were more extensive than revealed at the time.

Harry Whittington, 82 and still working as a lawyer in Austin, has kept the blood-stained orange safety vest he was wearing when Cheney opened fire, peppering him with lead shot, the Post reported.

He suffered a collapsed lung during the incident and had what doctors believe was a mild heart attack.

Whittington still has about 30 pieces of shot inside his body and speaks with what he describes as "a warble" caused by one that pierced his larynx. Another is near his heart, too deep to remove safely.

Cheney has not apologized in public for the shooting, and when asked by the Post if Cheney had done so in private, Whittington paused, then said sharply: "I'm not going to go into that."

I'll take that as a "no". Because if The Big Dick HAD apologized, wouldn't Harry Whittington come right out and say as much?

The Post said Whittington was "too gracious" to say Cheney had not said sorry, but also did not dispute he had not received an apology.

Despite this, he told the paper that he regarded Cheney as "a very capable and honorable man."

"He's said some very kind things to me," Whittington said.

Capable and honorable? At what, pray tell? Certainly not when it comes to handling a shotgun. Or apologizing to a friend he damn near killed!

But wait, here comes the pièce de résistance:

After the shooting, Whittington issued a statement saying he and his family were "deeply sorry" for "all that Vice President Cheney and his family have had to go through."

That's very noble, Harry, but isn't it he who owes YOU an apology? Instead, a bunch of White House lawyers tried to make it look like it was your fault, using those words against you.

And Darth Cheney still hasn't apologized for what was clearly HIS doing. Because if he did, he'd be held liable, no doubt...or thinks he would. This is what passes for friendship in BushWorld.

Accountability: BushCo never had it. They start wars with flimsy excuses and total impunity, so heck, what's shooting a hunting buddy in the face and damn near killing him? Other than a perfect, emblematic example of the unapologetic assholery of the whole damn bunch?

Stupid Sex Tricks: Chilean miners edition


Mit zween Herrn ist schlecht zu kramen;

Noch schlechter, fürcht' ich, mit zwo Damen.

(It's tough to tangle with two gents; but even harder, I fear, with two ladies.)

--Wilhelm Busch, Maler Klecksel


Yes, kiddies, the inspiring story of the day has a cloud hanging over it already. There's at least one freshly rescued guy who's gonna wish in the weeks and months ahead that the Earth had swallowed him when it had the chance...

When Yonni Barrios emerged from 69 days underground to cries of "El Doctor," there was none of the fist-pumping celebration that marked the other miners' escape.

This may have something to do with his tangled love life, which made headlines around the world while he was stuck underground attending to the medical needs of his fellow miners.

[...]

Marta Salinas first sensed something was up when she discovered another woman was also keeping an anxious vigil outside the mine for Barrios.

The discovery prompted a war of words between the two rivals. The mistress, Susana Valenzuela, said she had met Barrios on a training course five years earlier, and that he was planning to leave his wife for her.

Salinas said Valenzuela had "no legitimacy" and refused to address her by name. Initially she stuck with her husband, in spite of his infidelity.

"[Barrios] is my husband. He loves me and I am his devoted wife," Salinas said, according to the New York Post.

That all changed when her husband's rescue became imminent. Barrios reportedly asked both his wife and his mistress to be there to greet him when he emerged from underground.

After that, Salinas was done.

"He asked me to come, but it turns out he also invited the other woman and I have decency," Salinas said before the rescue, according to ABC News. "This is very clear: It's her or me. "

And by default, it looks like it's "her":

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Yes, that's right. The wife kept her word, and the mistress got to be the one to greet him. No wonder the cheering section was absent for this one; that's got to be pretty damn embarrassing.

And that's not the only embarrassment waiting in the wings:

At least five wives have been forced to come face to face with mistresses whose existence was kept from them by their husbands, who have been trapped more than 2,300ft below since a cave in on August 5.

One miner has four women fighting over him in an effort to claim compensation offered to the families of those facing between three to four months underground until a rescue shaft can reach them.

Government officials are considering asking the 33 trapped miners to name those they want to claim the benefits entitled to them in a bid to solve problems on the surface.

"There has been a lot of conflict between women," admitted Marta Flores, a Red Cross worker at the makeshift camp where relatives wait for news of their loved ones.

"We had a big bust up in the canteen tent when a wife came across a woman who claimed to be her husband's lover - we had to step in and pull them apart before things got physical." At stake are welfare packages issued to the families of the trapped miners as well as future compensation claims that could run into tens of thousands of pounds.

"Unfortunately the conflict stems from money issues," said Mrs Flores. "Some of the men have children from numerous women and all of them have arrived here to stake their claim. I've met five families in this situation but I'm sure there are more." Some women turned up at the camp to discover that their partners already had a wife and children who they knew nothing about.

"Those that truly love their men have slipped away quietly not wanting to cause any more pain to the families but others are putting up a fight." Special welfare officers trained in marital issues have been brought in to provide help to women faced with their husband's infidelity.

One miner, who has not been named, has a first wife he never divorced, his live-in partner, a mother of a child he had several years ago, and a woman who claims to be his current girlfriend all visiting the camp.

These miners may be machos, but they are no match for a bunch of angry women, and they know it; that's why they kept those paramours secret, after all!

And at this rate, those guys are gonna wish they'd been killed in the collapse, because their secrets are out, and what's coming now is a shitstorm that's gonna tear them limb from limb. If they thought they had money troubles before, they're gonna have them in spades now, lucrative job offers and book deals notwithstanding.

October 11, 2010

Where in the world is General González?

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Cue up the "Carmen Sandiego" song. A putschist fugitive is on the loose somewhere on this planet, and the Venezuelan authorities have appealed to Interpol to help find him:

The Public Ministry has asked Interpol to add a red alert on former army general Néstor González González to its database for events that took place on April 11, 2002, in Venezuela.

The request came on Monday, October 11, from assistant national prosecutor Engel Ordaz.

Once Interpol places González González in its database, he can be apprehended in any international seaport or airport he may be passing through.

The retired army general is wanted by Venezuelan authorities for incitement to civil rebellion, which is a criminal offence in the Venezuelan penal code. On July 31, 2006, an arrest warrant was issued, by request of the Public Ministry, via the 19th Tribunal of Metropolitan Caracas.

Translation mine.

You may recall a certain scene in The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, in which the bald guy in the photo above figures rather prominently (from 27:33 to 28:05). This is the larger context of that scene:

Here, González is lying his ass off about the Chávez government on April 10, the day before the coup, claiming it harbors Colombian FARC and ELN rebels in Venezuela, and using that as a pretext for a coup. He's saying the president should resign, and that the military must take this position--"because if they don't, somebody will". This is the part that immediately precedes what we can see in the Irish documentary of the coup; the crapaganda whores of the Venezuelan media happily go along with that hogwash, calling Chávez "an agent of Fidel Castro and the Colombian guerrillas". González is providing the pretext for the military's next move, when a group of putschist generals announce, during the coup the next day, that there have been shots fired by snipers, and that "more than 10 people are dead and 100 injured in Caracas".

Interestingly, they were all working from a prepared script. The generals rehearsed that bit with the help of the same compliant media (among them, CNN) before anyone was shot or killed. Therefore, it is impossible to conclude anything but that certain members of the Venezuelan military high command were in on the coup.

Among them, of course, the selfsame Néstor González González...a wanted man who definitely belongs on Interpol's watch list. If by chance you see him anywhere (probably Miami), you know what to do, don't you?

(And yes, it's a pity the that media who participated in the coup can't likewise be put on Interpol watch lists. They all deserve it too. The last thing they deserve now is an audience, much less one that believes a word they say.)

October 10, 2010

Cops Behaving Badly: Germany Boy

Not exactly your standard warning against speeding:

Is it just me, or does that cop sound like he wants to pound that German's nice, tight ass himself?

Evo: I'll be there!

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Being stuck underground for two months is a hellish ordeal. Fortunately for one hard-working Bolivian, and his 32 Chilean compañeros, the rescue tunnel has been drilled, and work crews are now shoring up its sides. Soon, an elevator will be sent down the shaft to bring up the survivors, one by one. And a classy president will be there to welcome them back to the surface. And no, it's not who you think:

The president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, announced on Saturday that he plans to go to Chile in a few days to witness the rescue of the Bolivian, Carlos Mamani, one of the 33 miners trapped for 65 days in the San José mine in northern Chile.

"We will make every effort to reach and recover our brother. The president of Chile invited me and said we would be there at the moment of the rescue," said Morales during a press conference in Cochabamba, Bolivia, according to Telesur.

The leader did not give an exact date for his trip, as he was waiting for "when they announce the beginning of the rescue of the miners," said government spokesman Iván Canelas.

Translation mine.

It's virtually a given that Sebastián Piñera would seize the occasion to be there. And nice of him to invite Evo, who no doubt has a good reason of his own for wanting to be there to see his brother Bolivian rescued. Bolivian mines are among the most treacherous in the world, and over the five centuries since the conquistadors, they've eaten more lives in the name of gold and silver (and later, tin) than anyone has bothered to count. For Evo, this marks a significant milestone: now, miners are no longer disposable people. They are valued. So much so that even presidents are on hand to see them plucked from what used to be a rocky grave.

Music for a Sunday: You smell a familiar perfume...

...from a girl you knew long ago:

"But you're there/once more/in some forgotten story/from your/private library..."

Quotable: Amy Wilentz on Haiti

"The figure of the Haitian living abroad is one that evokes bitter comedy and, often, envy among Haitians living in Haiti. Haitian Haitians can quickly spot someone from what is called the diaspora visiting Port-au-Prince. A Haitian friend once told me that the big difference, aside from a visible discrepancy in wealth, is that someone from lòt bò dlo (or the other side of the water, which means "abroad" in Haitian Creole) walks with purpose and studied intent, as if he or she has a destination in mind at every moment. Island Haitians can find such goal-oriented behavior strange, unreal, even ridiculous, since the poverty of life in Haiti means that goals are often unachievable."

--Amy Wilentz, in the New York Times

October 9, 2010

Wankers of the Week: A truckload of turkeys

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Yes, this is real. Figures it's from Aryan-fucking-zona.

Crappy Thanksgiving, Canada--and crappy weekend, world! Because Teh Stoopid never takes a holiday, I've decided to load up the pickup and deliver you a load of bad cranberries...to go with these fucking turkeys:

1. Jim Fucking DeMint. So, DeMented's latest bon mot is that sexy singles and gays shouldn't teach? Well, I think right-wing wackos should be debarred from practicing medicine, religion, law or politics. Or anything else that puts them in a position of power, because there is ample proof out there that all they ever do with it is fuck up. Hey, fair's fair.

2. Boyd Fucking Packer. Another fucking homophobe in a position of power, this one Mormon. Send him packing--click the link and sign the petition, folks.

3. Christine O'Fucking Donnell. The "classified" information she claims to have on China isn't classified; it isn't even new. So how seriously should we take her when she claims China has a secret, fiendish plan to take over the US? Oh, about as seriously as we have to take her dad when he puts on his fright wig, red nose, greasepaint and oversized shoes. PS: No, girlfriend, you are so NOT me!

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4. Jason Fucking Kenney. Fee, fi, fo, fum, I smell the shit of a lying scum. And he laid it in more places than one.

5. James O'Fucking Keefe. Last week I called him a sleazy little shit-weasel. I was entirely too kind. The boy-man makes a travesty of the whole notion of sexual consent. And an icky travesty, at that. One gets the distinct feeling that he doesn't like women. At the rate he's going, the feeling will soon be more than mutual.

6. Glenn Fucking Beck. What will it be this week? The Chavecito wank? Um, Chavecito's citizen militias, unlike the dumb redneck toy armies galumphing all over the backwoods of the US, are at least well-regulated, by government, with training by real military officers (who, after all, worked with the same FAL rifles that the militias are now using). Then how about the burning-down-the-house wank? Problem there is, to have the government pay for it from taxes would have cost the citizens less. Oh! Oh! I know! The kooky-conspiracies-stolen-from-Alex-Jones wank! That one's a real wiener, er, winner!

7. The Fucking South Fulton (Tennessee) Fire Department. In light of the past week's events, you may want to amend that mission statement there, fellas.

8. Sarah Fucking Palin. Remember how she gushed about wanting to meet Maggie Thatcher? Well, Maggie's biographer thinks she's a waste of protoplasm. And Maggie, you'll recall, is housebound with senile dementia. D'oh!

9. Stephen Fucking Harper. No, he's NOT fucking human. Any fucking questions?

10. Rand Fucking Paul. Not fucking human, either. REALLY not fucking human. Who needs death panels when you've got him?

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11. Jordan Fucking Gehrke. Where the racist fuckin' retards at? Sharron Fucking Angle's campaign office, that's where. But of course, to point out that he IS one is "shrill and overly earnest".

12. Jennifer Fucking Keeton. As noted here recently, you can tell a lot about someone by the following s/he attracts. In her case, it's the fucking KKK; they like her "Christian" homophobia almost as much as they like their "Christian" cross-burnings. You have NO idea how tempted I was to spell her surname with a kkkouple of extra kkkapitals.

13. And from the same item, David Fucking French of the ADL. This makes HOW many times that organization has leapt into the same bed as the KKK, now? No one is demanding that Keeton "renounce her faith", only her idiotic and misguided anti-gay prejudice, which views homosexuality as a "lifestyle" and a "sin", rather than the inherent orientation that science has determined it to be. Duh.

14. And again, from that same article, for kkkomic relief, how about that Bobby Fucking Spurlock? "We're trying to protest the constitutional rights that they are trying to take away from her," sez the grand pooh-bah. Um, yeah, that's about right. The KKK has been "protesting" against the constitutional rights of citizens ever since its inception as a lynch mob of frighteners and hatemongers just after the Civil War. Their mission is not to uphold rights, but to suppress them. Blacks and gays are not "real" human beings to them. So of course, it's only natural that they would do this, right?

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15. David Fucking Barton. Funny how all those "small government" religious rightards are fully in favor of government interfering in people's sex lives. This asshole wants the govenrnment to "regulate" (read: SUPPRESS) homosexuality. Hey, I have a bonzer idea: How about governments everywhere start taxing right-wing churches? Especially those with preachers who wear shit-ugly shirts?

16. Andrew Fucking Miller. You don't have to be a literal wanker to work in the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, but it's a definite asset. As is a wide stance.

17. Aaron Fucking Riley. 7.5 terabytes of kiddie porn is one helluva lot of wank. Does this crazy fucker even have a life away from his computer?

18. Ron Fucking Johnson. If flibbertigibbertarians are so smart, why can't they make themselves available to the media and answer some goddamned questions? Oh, I get it: If they can't control what questions get asked, they won't answer. How pro-freedom is THAT? These fucking crypto-fascists are the first ones, always and inevitably, to try to muzzle the media. Just as they're always the ones trying hardest to silence li'l ol' ME.

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19. Kathleen Fucking Folden. What do you bet this self-appointed Carrie Nation of public "decency" is one of those religious-right types who talk big about small government, too? Srsly, lady, if you don't like to see Jesus getting a BJ, DON'T FUCKING LOOK!

20. William Fucking Mattison. Jesus H. Christ, how many damn birth certificates does the state of Hawaii have to release before all these crazy fucking idiots stop threatening to kill His Barackness over it?

21. Lou Fucking Dobbs. Now we know why he offgassed so much about undocumented immigrants, calling them "illegals" and slamming them for stealing jobs from "hard-working Americans". IT WAS TO KEEP THE WAGES OF HIS PEONS DOWN, STUPID! And for the love of Dios...how many fucking houses and horses does a babbling idiot on the nightly news need to own, anyway? No wonder he was so goddamn cheap with the help. News anchors may make more than your typical ink-stained wretches, but the economics of that one still don't add up. Unless...

22. Bryan Fucking Fischer. Useless eater is in favor of burning houses down if their occupants don't pay a "libertarian" tax increase. Like I said earlier, may I not give a piss if the same one day happens to him.

23. Avi Yaakobov. You may want to save your belly-dancing skills for women who aren't terrified and blindfolded, and who actually WANT to watch you wiggle your pelvis, dickweed. PS: Oh, FUCK.

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24. The Fucking Phelps KKKlan. If you're gonna quote Ozzy Osbourne, you might want to remember what the real lyrics to "Crazy Train" were. Among them: "Maybe/it's not too late/to learn how to love/and forget how to hate". Also, the chorus goes "I'm going off the rails on a crazy train." Which is, ironically, appropriate; the Phelpses have been off the rails for decades now. It's time this crazy train rolled into the ditch. I hope Ozzy sues!

25. David Bruce Fucking McMahan. Some men aren't fit to be fathers. This incestuous slimeball is one of those. And worse.

26. Mike Fucking Rosen. Yes, the right-wing LOVES terrorism. They even call for it, openly, on the public airwaves. But somehow, calls for anti-Muslim terrorism are perfectly kosher--at least in the state of Colorado.

27. Pierre Fucking Poilievre. Why?

That's why. Shouldn't he have waited until AFTER he was all growed up before he went to work on the Hill?

28. Rich Fucking Iott. He's a "purely historical" wanker. Of course. What else could he be? Only there's one problem with that excuse: The real Nazis did NOT wear camouflage fatigue pants with their tunics. In fact, they never wore camo anything, anywhere.

29. Lucio Fucking Sucio Gutiérrez. The blood of last week's attempted coup (now confirmed even by the normally servile Chicken Noodle Network!) in Ecuador is on his hands. So far, eight dead and more than 200 injured. And to add insult to injury, the asshole blames President Correa--and claims HE was taking orders from Chavecito? There aren't enough cusswords in the dictionary for this one.

30. Sharron Fucking Angle. Who knew that Dearborn, Michigan--home of the Ford Motor Co.--was now under Sharia law? Nobody, actually...Crazybitch just made that shit up. The laffs just keep on coming.

31. David Fucking Vitter. Diaperdude joins Crazybitch #30 in using racist videos to illustrate the concept of "illegal" people. Funny how they never use white Russian mafiosi. Are aliens only "illegal" when brown and Spanish-speaking? Sure smells that way.

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32. The Fucking Insane Clown Posse. As I've said before, you can tell a lot about someone from the kind of followers they attract. In the case of this truly atrocious group, it's largely violent idiots with right-wing sympathies and vague, nihilistic notions. So it should come as no surprise that they are actually fundies in greasepaint. And their shitty lyrics reflect a certain...oh, shall we say...utter contempt for the humanity that was supposedly created in God's image, especially the female half. Not to mention a real stupidity when it comes to science. Just because THEY don't understand how magnets and evolution work, doesn't mean there's really an invisible hand at work making miracles. It means they don't understand how magnets and evolution work--period. (I'm gonna go way out on a limb here and guess that they were all very poor students.) Is anyone buying their "we're just trying to reach (and preach to) the kids" shit? I'm not.

33. Virginia Fucking Thomas. I hope the wife of Judge Pubic-Hair-in-my-Coke realizes that a return to the "conservative constitutional values" of the past means that she and he will have to divorce. Interracial marriage was illegal then, you know.

34. Ron Fucking Paul. If you thought his son was crazy as a coot, wait'll you see who he got it from. Nobody in his right mind could think a "Soviet-style collapse" was a good thing, let alone a necessary precondition for the removal of all US bases from foreign soil! Please, can we just have the both of them committed?

35. All those crazy fucking racists who call in to C-SPAN. Especially when there's a "colored" man sitting in the host's chair. At best, they are comical. At worst...well, let's just say that THEY are what is wrong with the US, and what always has been.

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And finally, to the retarded fucking gun nut (from Poland??? I smell a rat!) who pooped here. Reading comprehension: Acquire some, dude. I don't like guns in the hands of power-mad thugs, no matter who they are. I am for accountability, and neither for nor against gun ownership (although much less of the latter and much more of the former would unquestionably make the world a much better place).

And no, that stance did not change during the rescue of Rafael Correa. Nor will it ever. The Ecuadorian military acted responsibly; the putschist federal police did not. If your simple mind doesn't process that not-terribly-complicated fact, it ain't my fault.

Good night, and get fucked!

Somebody help me, I'm going nowhere...

...all in all, I'm just another brick in the wall.

I'm glad someone besides me noticed how similar these two songs are...and how seamlessly they mash together. Pink Floyd, meet...The Bee Gees:

Who knew that marching neofascist hammers could be so...funky?

October 8, 2010

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Happy Birthday, John Lennon!

This weekend, John Lennon turns 70. ("I never died," says he.) Here's a roundup of all the best bits...

Salon reviews the film "Nowhere Boy", which sounds like it deserves a much wider distribution than it's currently getting. (Shall I spring for the DVD? Decisions.)

NY Magazine reviews various John Lennon films as well, on the basis of "who nailed him and who failed him". With clips.

Jon Friedman speculates that Lennon--an inveterate sloganeer and scribbler--would have loved social media such as Twitter. Well, we know that Yoko Ono does, she's on it:

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Incidentally, I recommend her for Follow Friday. That's today. And if you're not on the tweeter yet, get busy!

Can you believe that after all this time, the FBI is apparently still keeping a file on him? Or at least, they don't want bits and pieces of it leaking out as memorabilia? He'd probably find that good for a laugh and a half. Especially since another fingerprint card of his was auctioned by Sotheby's, no problem, back in 1991.

Here's Ringo, who also turned 70 earlier this year, wishing John the same. With (short!) clip.

And finally, the Quarrymen, John's first band, will be reuniting, and appearing with folk-rock legends such as Pete Seeger and Tom Paxton, to play a birthday gig in Manhattan, not far from John's last home at the Dakota. Strawberry Fields forever!

A few random thoughts on Mario Vargas Llosa

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Understand that writers are not necessarily good teachers, or even good people.

- T. C. Boyle

Hearing that Mario Vargas Llosa won the Nobel prize for literature this year was like hearing that a ghost had won it. That's because the Vargas Llosa who wrote the great book that won the prize no longer exists.

Sure, he's still there physically. But other than that, it's like he's just a whole other person. He's no longer that great writer. He's the body that the spirit abandoned. A great writer's shambling, moaning zombie, perhaps. But he is no longer that person.

This isn't easy for me to write. A lot of people I like, admire and respect are unreservedly pleased for him. They've read his good stuff, no doubt, and that's why. The stuff of 40-odd years ago. I have yet to read it. Perhaps if I had, I'd feel differently; at the very least, I'd be sighing with happy nostalgia for the Vargas Llosa that was. But I've read his recent stuff--that is to say, his shit, and I have to say, the Vargas Llosa of today is not a writer I can admire. Maybe the one from 40-odd years ago is, but he's dead, Jim.

What killed the great Mario Vargas Llosa? Was it an illness, an accident, a suicide? Or was it murder?

To understand how Vargas Llosa went from being a great writer to being the ghost of one, you have to look at what happened to so many others over the last 40-odd years. They started out young, idealistic, typically somewhere on the left end of the political spectrum. They were progressives. They were poets, they were songsters, they were political militants. They weren't afraid to tell all the truth, and tell it slant. They were full of a fiery energy that bade fair to frizzle up everything old and stagnant and unfortunate enough to stand in its way.

But then something happened between then and now. They lost it, that fire. Instead of frizzling up the old and stagnant, they became it. And they frizzled up from within.

Look what happened to Christopher Hitchens. Or to David Horowitz. Both started out as rather good writers, promising Trotskyists; both ended up as loathsome, lying neo-cons, vile enough to make a saint retch. Just something inherent in Trotskyism, some virus, some flaw that makes the adherent turn from perpetual revolution to perpetual imbecility? Just something inherently weak and debilitating in the left in general?

Hardly.

There are plenty of other writers from that era who did not abandon their initial political leanings. Ursula K. Le Guin is still a feminist, still opposed to war, still asking radical literary questions as an elder stateswoman of American Lit. She has only grown more brilliant over time. Gabriel García Márquez stayed on the left, won his Nobel and kept writing, and remains beloved and admired (by me, and yes, I have read his latest. It's not shit. He is still true to his own voice.)

It is entirely possible, in other words, to be a great writer, and a leftist, up to one's dying day. One's physical dying day, that is, since great writing is about as close to immortality as anyone can get.

Even those who did not physically live out the era still kept their gemlike flame. Che Guevara, who died the year I was born (just a little over two months after, in fact) is not only more popular than ever, he is also recognized as a fine writer in his own right. His diaries all stand as classics. And why not? A man who could turn phrases like "Let's be realists and do the impossible" deserves to be an immortal.

I'm sure the great Vargas Llosa, who won the prize posthumously as it were, is an immortal, or ought to be one. And that's what makes the zombie who schlepps around wearing his name and face and clothing such a sad travesty. We're still getting around to how he got dead, though.

As leftist politics fell out of vogue in Latin America through the latter 1960s, and into the '70s and '80s, a lot of lefties went right. Teodoro Petkoff, a guerrilla in early-1960s Venezuela, wound up in the 1990s as the finance minister to conservative president Rafael Caldera--and, not coincidentally, overseeing one of the worst financial catastrophes in Venezuela after the Caracazo. His policies were orthodox neoliberalism--pure Chicago School stuff, all by the Bretton Woods book. And they just about ruined Venezuela, not to mention any credibility that Petkoff ever had. His leftist guerrilla cred was as the dodo. He may have remained a pithy and scathing writer--even somehow managing, in the midst of economic collapse, to scare up the money to start his own newspaper, now sacred to the purpose of attacking Venezuela's current president. But he has become a corpse himself. Hardly anyone buys Tal Cual. No one can take him seriously, not even the opposition with whom he now runs (and still gets into vicious verbal brawls, when not busy slinging mud at Chavecito.) Washington may sponsor him, and the foreign press may fawn on him, but at home it means nothing. His own presidential efforts have been a flat failure.

So, incidentally, have those of none other than Mario Vargas Llosa. How flat? Well, he fucked off for Spain soon after. Suddenly, Peru was no longer good enough for him? Draw your own conclusions. But yes, he ran as a neoliberal or neo-con, and yes, he failed dismally as one. Just like Teodoro Petkoff.

What made these two once-fine writers dead? Just some wasting disease inherent in ex-leftism, I guess.

But the zombie of Vargas Llosa, like that of Petkoff, gives a convincing impression of still being alive. It walks, it talks (mostly gibberish, nowadays), and it gets into fights. (It once, famously, sucker-punched the still-leftist, very-much-alive Gabo--who metaphorically clobbered his ex-friend by grinning, black eye and all, for the camera, knowing himself to be blameless.)

Sometimes the zombie-Vargas Llosa takes its son Alvaro along for the ride, tag-team fashion. Alvaro Vargas Llosa isn't a ghost, he's an unborn wraith. He was never alive. But like his father, he's a very lifelike spook. He, too, writes fictions, even if they're not labelled as such. (An egregious error? Au contraire, it's part and parcel of the overall degeneracy that's seeped into western culture as the right has become ascendant.) He'll never win any prizes for them; none that matter, anyway. Vargas Llosa père has passed his degeneracy on to Vargas Llosa fils.

It really is frightening to watch the two of them somnambulating--or would be, if it weren't so comical. Because neither one enjoys any great credibility in LatAm anymore, not since the people keep electing and re-electing leftists, ignoring the groans of the living dead. Both Vargas Llosas regularly get trucked into Venezuela, where they give big speeches to tiny audiences, gibberish to the effect that there's no freedom of speech anymore since that Castro-communist Chavecito came to power. Meanwhile, public, independent and community media have multiplied in Venezuela, thanks to government funding, greatly diversifying the spectrum of political views expressed. The thing is, it's all happening on the left. On the right, the commercial media remain stagnant, and no one seems to want to talk about how many eyeballs they've lost. Or how the loss of RCTV's public-airwaves licence was actually due to repeated violations, most dating back decades before Chavecito, of Venezuelan broadcast standards, and not censorship. No one on the right, indeed, is saying anything worth paying attention to at all. (That's why they keep losing elections, too.)

But I guess it's uncharitable of me to point all that out; after all, we're supposed to speak no ill of the dead. I really should look up the works of fiction that Vargas Llosa wrote before he became a zombie. I'm sure I will appreciate them, in the same abstracted way I can appreciate the genius of poor, batshit-crazy Ezra Pound--by divorcing the brilliance of the language from the worm-ridden fascist skull from whence it sprung.

And then, perhaps, I will wish the ghost of Mario Vargas Llosa all happiness in his posthumous prize--a prize no less surreal, in my eyes, than Barack Obama's pre-emptive Nobel for peace, or that of Henry Kissinger.

October 6, 2010

Quotable: Anne Sexton on the composition of poetry

"Those moments before a poem comes, when the heightened awareness comes over you, and you realize a poem is buried there somewhere, you prepare yourself. I run around, you know, kind of skipping around the house, marvelous elation. It's as though I could fly, almost, and I get very tense before I've told the truth--hard. Then I sit down at the desk and get going with it."

--Anne Sexton, interviewed by Barbara Kevles for The Paris Review

October 5, 2010

Stupid Sex Tricks: Finally, some hope for my haters!

I have a feeling that these will be very popular among a certain kind of male troll that frequently comes here thinking to taunt me:

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And hey, it's cheaper than guns or big ugly SUVs. Guys, why not swallow your foolish pride and spring for a WonderBro?

(H/t Roger Ebert.)

Short 'n' Stubby: A grab bag o' goodies

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Ms. Manx, as I've mentioned earlier, is not a polydactyl. She lacks even a semblance of opposable thumbs. All the same, she likes to reach her soft paws inside the great big grab bag of the Internets and fish for goodies. Here are some of the plums she's pulled out today, kiddies:

A terrific article (not characteristic of the Atlantic, which has really deteriorated of late) about the care and feeding of introverts. Ms. Manx, whose university counsellor found her to be an INFP in the Myers-Briggs scheme of things, could not agree more with the closing paragraphs:

First, recognize that it's not a choice. It's not a lifestyle. It's an orientation.

Second, when you see an introvert lost in thought, don't say "What's the matter?" or "Are you all right?"

Third, don't say anything else, either.

In other scientific news, linguists have discovered a previously unheard-of language in northeastern India, near the Himalayas. The language, Koro, is spoken by perhaps no more than a thousand people. No wonder it was never heard of until recently!

And could mushrooms clean up the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico? Some say yes. Ms. Manx says she loves mushrooms.

Ms. Manx also greatly admires the backbone of the Icelanders.

And she is very heartened to hear that long-form, investigative journalism isn't dead yet.

And finally, for those who like their women well-proportioned, Ms. Manx has more good news from the world of science: Bottom-heavy babes are built to last. Now, if only the fashion world would smarten the fuck up and cater!

Libertarianism at work, for realz

Aw. Aren't the flibbertigibbertarians adorable when their "principles" come, literally, under fire? Glenn Fucking Beck sure was. He waxed all racist on a family who didn't pay the $75 mafia extortion protection racket subscription fee the local fire department charged, in line with the whole Small Government Run Like a Business thing. And when their house burned down, the newly liberated fire department stood by, crossed their arms, and let it.

And when the incident was duly noted and criticized by progressive media sites, the defensive reaction was fun to watch. Alternet's Josh Holland also makes the interesting point that it would be cheaper and more effective to run the government like a government, not a private, for-profit business:

Anyway, Think Progress reports today that they're expanding the subscription service to additional towns in the county. And, also, that providing full fire coverage for the entire county would result in a whopping 0.13 percent increase in property taxes.

Which, I'm guessing, comes to much less than $75 per household, on average. (Especially with the US housing market in a state of collapse. That was Dubya's "Ownership Society" at work, remember?)

Actually, this is the reason "socialized" (tax-funded) fire departments are such a success, while "subscription" (i.e. mafia protection racket) ones flop time and again. (That, and the arson associated with that latter. No shit, it's happened repeatedly.) What's the point of having a fire department if it only fights SOME fires, and lets others burn?

But to the flibbers, it's no matter. As Think Progress notes, the flibbers were too busy debating what injects "crunchiness" into "our soggy, fallen world" while that poor family's house was burning. And that's entirely in line with what they're like overall, anyway. So obsessed with their bogus principles that the practical just totally eludes them. They aren't fit to run a pop stand, much less our world, on the basis of that epic-fail ideology. But since they're well financed by wingnut welfare, it's not like they have to really care, or even put much intellectual effort into it. Any fatuous nonsense they babble will get published, clockwork-like, by some right-wing stink tank or other.

If any of their houses were on fire, and they hadn't paid their protection racket money, I wouldn't chip in to save them. I wouldn't even offer them a full chamber pot. Let them put it out themselves, if they're manly enough to. Let them piss it out.

Hey, it's the principle of the thing!

Dear Jason Kenney...

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Recently, I and many other Canadians petitioned to allow US war resisters to stay in Canada. Well, today, a certain Conservative snotball who somehow became immigration minister decided to throw the following all over us:

You have all emailed or written me at some point to express your views on the issue of US military deserters and recent legislation to give them a special pathway for permanent residency.

As you may know, with bipartisan support from Michael Ignatieff's Liberal Party caucus, the government succeeded in defeating the Bill. Here is a YouTube video of a question I answered during Question Period on the subject.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCeUrJHlJps

Yours sincerely,

Jason

Oh, "Jason", is it? Funny, but I don't feel friendly enough to go on a first-name basis.

Here's my response to that:

"Dear" Mr. Kenney:

Actually, the majority of Canadians wanted the war resisters to STAY, not the bill to be defeated. And we thank neither you nor the Liberals for doing this to them.

You, sir, are an ass.

Sincerely,

One disgusted Canadian.

My only regret is that I didn't append more adjectives in front of the "ass".

PS: Looks like I'm not alone.

October 4, 2010

Evo, rest?

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Ohhhh...owwww. That looks painful, Evo! But will you take your doctor's advice?

Specialists in orthopedics and physiotherapy recommended today that Bolivian president Evo Morales take up to ten days of bed rest, since he injured a leg playing soccer on the weekend.

The doctors suggested the rest period after an accident in which the inner front surface of the president's right leg received a violent impact from a sudden collision with Daniel Cartagena, a player for the Alcaldía, in a friendly match.

After evaluating the president, Dr. Robert Baldellón remarked on a painful limp in the president's gait, indicating a functional limitation.

The president, who was at work today, is taking inti-inflammatory medication and applying ice to reduce the pain and regain mobility.

Translation mine.

Heh...true to form, Evo is choosing to tough it out rather than rest. Even on doctors' orders, this hard-working leader won't quit. Admirable, but I'd say he's earned a time-out. And besides, he's got Alvaro García Linera...who's no slouch either. Evo, listen to your docs and delegate for a change!

What is going on in Ecuador?

Yesterday morning, as I was checking my spam filter, I fished out an obvious non-spam from a reader from Down Under, which was posted on this entry. I'm going to repost it up top here today, as I don't want it to get lost in the shuffle. I think you'll agree that Luis Cayetano asks a very good question:

Hi Sabina. You said that Correa had actually doubled police pay. Obviously, something different has been said, as you mentioned, in much of the media. Here is the Sydney Morning Herald: "Mr Correa was greeted by cheering crowds and cries of "Viva Ecuador" outside the presidential palace after security forces whisked him out of a Quito hospital that police demonstrating against wage cuts had laid siege to." All the outlets I've read so far, including the progressive Upside Down World, claim that the rebel police were protesting at pay cuts.

Just what the fuck is going on down there?

Luis, I often ask myself the same thing.

I'm pretty sure that the anglo media are all following that false lead about cut police pay because it's the only one they have at present. Right now there's a lot of tangled webs yet to be unraveled, but I'm finding all kinds of interesting clues. And they give me a pretty good idea what the real situation is. Here's one from Jean-Guy Allard in Granma (translation mine):

An odd couple appeared on NTN24, the right-wing Colombian channel affiliated with FOX News. A few hours into the attempted coup d'état in Quito, the CIA agent Carlos Alberto Montaner, a terrorist fugitive from Cuban justice, met with one of the leaders of the failed Ecuador coup plot, former military officer Lucio Gutiérrez, to attack president Rafael Correa.

Montaner opened the show by denigrating the president with fallacies, in his typical fashion: "If they killed [President Correa] there would have been a bloodbath all over the country. Why did they do it? These things don't just happen. This isn't how presidents comport themselves--taking off his tie and defying the police," Montaner said.

Calling the president a "choleric man" and "a person who has to work hard to control himself", Montaner--known for precisely those characteristics himself--accused Correa of having met with the rebellious police officers to provoke them. "He didn't go to seek consensus, nor to converse, he went to destroy them," Montaner accused.

Arrogant as always, Montaner ironically remarked that Correa wanted to give "the image of a president full of testosterone, who is capable of controlling the situation...and this among some people who are very primitive, who have little education. He wanted to awaken their sympathies."

With an uncharacteristic respect for the ousted president Lucio Gutiérrez, calling him "Mr. Ex-President", Montaner asked him with a fine incredulity: "Did you really have the intention of toppling Rafael Correa?"

And the putschist conspirator answered him with great solemnity: "Greetings to all the democratic world. I deny the assertions of President Correa that there was an attempted coup d'état in Ecuador. There was nothing more than a protest by police, a protest by police troops."

Gutiérrez continued with allegations of "the worst economic management by President Correa", and "for this reason, he tried to reduce the police salaries by way of a law."

"We have a president who doesn't tolerate opposition," assured Gutiérrez to his congenial interviewer, then preoccupied himself with the luck of the conspirators: "What will happen to the opposition? And who will speak in the name of the opposition? They're already being persecuted..."

And Montaner added: "That's the problem, there are no international mechanisms in defence of the opposition..."

A marginal figure in media spectacles, Montaner is known for his fanatical support for the most extremist elements of the Cuban-American mafia. Last year, following the coup d'état against the Honduran president, Manuel Zelaya, on June 28, he became a furibund apologist for the dictator Roberto Micheletti, along with US congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and another Cuban-American terrorist and CIA collaborator, Armando Valladares.

Montaner turned up repeatedly in Tegucigalpa to "defend human rights", applauding when the fascist Honduran coup-régime turned its police against demonstrations of the Resistance.

A graduate of the Inter-American Defense College (IADC) in Washington, Lucio Gutiérrez participated, on January 21, 2000, in the coup d'état against Ecuador's constitutional president, Jamil Mahuad. In 2002, he got himself elected president. A popular protest on April 20, 2005, expelled him from power amid a heavy crackdown that caused the death of a Chilean news photographer, Julio García, and left hundreds wounded.

NTN24 is a right-wing news channel, property of the Colombian chain RCN Television, transmitting from studios in Bogotá, Colombia.

Linkage (not in original) added, so you can see just what I'm talking about here.

I find it endlessly interesting that two well-known, long-time putschists like Gutiérrez and Montaner would take advantage of such an opportune time to get their faces out on all the "right" (as in wing) TV outlets. Lucio Gutiérrez, who goes by the well-earned nickname of "Sucio" (Filthy), also showed up on CNN, presumably from Brazil, making the same coup-apologist noises. I was on Twitter as that was going down, and not in front of the TV. But a lot of my Latin-American tweeps were, and a flurry of indignation erupted all over the tweeter as Sucio was blatting. They already knew the man, and they knew that democracy and human rights are to him as French perfumes are to a hog-factory cesspit. A good thing I was NOT in front of the tube, or I'd have been throwing things, too.

Not that there weren't plenty of things for me to throw shit at on the Internet, either; another usual suspect from the CIA crapaganda mill who talks big about freedom and democracy, but doesn't mean a word of it, was hard at it, claiming there was "no coup". Yes, Alvaro Vargas Llosa reared his smirky, useless head so quickly, and issued such slick, pat pronunciations on this still very messy affair, you'd swear he had his material prepared in advance. And he probably did. If you're really in the mood to eat baloney sandwiches, here it is, in English and Spanish.

Of course, anything a Vargas Llosa says nowadays should be rotated 180 degrees if one wants the truth. The day the Vargas Llosas, père et fils, stopped labelling their fiction as such was a bad one for Latin America. You want facts? Read me, I deal in them. (And I don't mislabel my fictions, either.)

So. Here are some more facts:

The history of Ecuador as an "ungovernable" country is rooted in the activities of the CIA. For those interested, and who can read Spanish, Philip Agee's CIA Diary, in Scribd form here, is worth a look-see. (Audio, in English, here.) Anyone who thinks the CIA's days of interfering in Latin America are over, should think again. They will never be over until the CIA is killed and a stake is driven through its heart.

Meanwhile, Mark Weisbrot chimes in with some good analysis:

In June of last year, when the Honduran military overthrew the social-democratic government of Manuel Zelaya, President Rafael Correa of Ecuador took it personally. "We have intelligence reports that say that after Zelaya, I'm next," said Correa.

On Thursday, it turned out to be true. Some analysts are still insisting that what happened was just a police protest over possible benefit cuts that got out of hand. But to anyone who watched the prolonged, pitched gun-battle on TV last night, when the armed forces finally rescued President Correa from the hospital where he was trapped by the police, this did not look like a protest. It was an attempt to overthrow the government.

The co-ordinated actions in various cities, the takeover of Quito's airport by a section of the armed forces - all this indicated a planned coup attempt.

And what could be behind that coup attempt? Weisbrot has some insights:

Despite his enemies in high places, the president's approval rating was 67% in Quito a couple of weeks ago. His government has doubled spending on healthcare, significantly increased other social spending, and successfully defaulted on $3.2bn of foreign debt that was found to be illegitimately contracted. Ecuador's economy managed to squeak through 2009 without a recession, and is projected to grow about 2.5% this year. Correa, an economist, has had to use heterodox and creative methods to keep the economy growing in the face of external shocks because the country does not have its own currency. (Ecuador adopted the dollar in 2000, which means that it can do little in the way of monetary policy and has no control over its exchange rate.)

Correa had warned that he might try to temporarily dissolve the congress in order to break an impasse in the legislature, something that he has the right to request under the new constitution - though it would have to be approved by the constitutional court. This probably gave the pro-coup forces something they saw as a pretext. It is reminiscent of the coup in Honduras, when Zelaya's support for a non-binding referendum on a constituent assembly was falsely reported by the media - both Honduran and international - as a bid to extend his presidency.

Media manipulation has a big role in Ecuador, too, with most of the media controlled by rightwing interests opposed to the government. This has helped build a base of people - analogous to those who get all of their information from Fox News in the United States, but proportionately larger - who believe that Correa is a dictator trying to turn his country into a clone of communist Cuba.

Popular president? Successful shedding of odious debt (a hefty hunk of it, no doubt, contracted by Sucio Lucio Gutiérrez himself)? NO recession, even in the midst of last year's global catastrophe? Doubled social spending? Growth instead of contraction? Holy shit, let's get rid of the bastard! Otherwise, no other Sucio will ever stand a chance! And then the IMF, World Bank, etc., will never get their pound of flesh! Can't ever let Ecuador move ahead, be sovereign or succeed, otherwise all those other little countries will get all uppity. Remember Honduras? Poorest country in Central America until Zelaya started boogying with the ALBA. Then things started to improve. WITHOUT THE GRINGOS! And if word ever got out, the rest of Central America would start clamoring for some of that good stuff, too. And they'd never let the gringos establish military bases on their soil, either...

It's not as if there were any lack of motives, in other words, for a coup. And El Ecuadorable was more than prescient when he predicted that Ecuador would be next, after the coup in Honduras. The same putschist slimeballs and crapaganda-mongers--Montaner, Valladares, Vargas Llosa--all showed up, along with Sucio Gutiérrez. That all is just a little too convenient for mere coincidence.

And if anyone still thinks this was just a police protest against nonexistent "wage cuts" gone out of hand, have I got pix for you:

correa-car-bullets.jpg

Pretty big and businesslike bullets, no? They were strong enough to put holes in the armor of a bulletproofed minivan--the same that Correa sped out of the hospital in. Four of them, at least, damaged the hood and windshield of that vehicle.

And if you're wondering what kind of standard-issue police sidearm they came out of, here's your answer:

correa-guns.jpg

Those newspaper photos were scanned and uploaded and tweeted by Dr. Paula Vernimmen, who was trapped inside the same hospital as her president at the time of the coup attempt.

And yes, it WAS a coup attempt. Planned, orchestrated...and ultimately, fortunately, failed. As will the anglo whore media's crapaganda offensive.

Hope this begins to clear up your questions, Luis. I know it's been illuminating for me!

October 3, 2010

Donald Duck meets Glenn Beck

One of the best cartoon mash-ups I've seen in a while. The end is particularly satisfying.

Music for a Sunday: I'll give you a four-leaf clover

Take all worry out of your mind:

Others may favor The Who; I like Pete Townshend solo. This is still my #1 fave of his, after all this time. The sweetly upbeat lyrics, the great backup harmonies, and the they-don't-play-em-like-that-anymore keyboards are what make this song so unpretentiously awesome.

Quotable: JFK on tolerance

"Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one's own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others."

--John F. Kennedy

(This, in a nutshell, is why you'll never hear me calling for anyone's death, not even that of a complete and utter wanker. But it's also why you WILL hear me condemning wankers for doing just that and worse.)

October 2, 2010

Wankers of the Week: Bumping uglies

rub-it-out.jpg

Yes, this is a real, and inadvertently hilarious, church sign. I saw it first at Nerve.com.

Wouldn't you give your hand to a friend? Certainly. But other body parts are still off limits. And to these ugly, ugly people, who are nobody's friends, even the time of day is too much to give. Which is why I recommend nothing but the ol' heave-ho for...

1. Ann Fucking Coulter. So, the self-loathing gays of the Repugnican party thought it would be fun to have her "entertain" at their little HomoConned shindig? Well, now they know. She really DOES hate them. She really DOESN'T believe in civil rights or liberties. She really IS an unregenerate racist. And she really IS a waste of skin. Wasn't that fun, fellas? Now we all know why you don't want to come out as Repugs--it's the company you keep! (And as a side note, isn't it hilarious to be told in all seriousness that marriage is "for procreation"--by someone who isn't married, and who probably hasn't menstruated in decades, who repulses every decent man who comes near her, and therefore is highly unlikely to procreate?)

2. Markham Fucking Hislop. Yeah, we "modern women" get it, all right. We get that you're a long-winded sexist porker with a foot fetish. Also that you like boobies and are "tired of apologizing for it". Now we also get why strip joints exist--it's so that ugly sexist knuckle-draggers from the Pleistocene can buy the illusion that they are attractive to somebody. Thanks so much for sharing all those insights! Just reading them made me want to put on a burqa, crawl into a cave, and wait for the apocalypse. Now, where is my eye bleach?

3. Troy Fucking Newman. One day, God will "get the last word" on him, too; he and every other anti-choicer will die...and women everywhere will sing sweet Hallelujah for it.

4. John Fucking Raese. If you want a return to crapitalism before child labor laws, dude, you're gonna have to swallow the fact that there were neither automobiles nor air travel in those "golden" days. Which were, incidentally, the last time that volcanoes might have accounted for more air pollution and global warming than man-made sources.

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5. Sharron Fucking Angle. Every time I think she's hit the Great Wall of Woo and couldn't possibly go further, she finds yet another one to smack headlong into. Most of us know better than to claim that autism is some kind of conspiracy, but not she...she thinks it's SOCIALIST, of course! Why does this woman hate children? I don't have or want any, but I like them just fine, and if they need government-funded healthcare, that's all right with me. But then again, I also know that autism is genetic and that the only conspiracy connected to it is this insane far-right effort to keep kids who have it from getting the care they need. (They'd rather see all that money going to corporate honchos who already have more than they'll ever know what to do with.)

6. Rand Fucking Paul. Craziest man alive? I can get behind that; he's a selfish moron who wants the system to go on churning out more selfish morons. I just don't wanna get in front of him when he goes back to practicing ophthalmology.

7. Ken Fucking Kratz. A prosecutor's job is to HELP victims of crime get justice, not take advantage of their vulnerability. Hitting on domestic-abuse survivors through text messaging is about as slimy as it gets. (I hope his wife divorces him, too.)

8. Joe Fucking Biden. Ass Sphincter says WHAT? "Stop whining"? WTF? Is that any way to talk to the people who busted their humps to get you elected, Joe? The least you could do is what they elected you to do. And that is NOT lecturing them. You are the public's servant, not their master, capisce?

45-million-poor.jpg

9. Conrad Fucking Black. Figures that one whore-media oligarch supports another in the Toronto mayoral race. Question is, why would a man with such deep contempt for Canadian values even bother, especially since "his" candidate is so far behind Rob Fucking Ford (EDIT: And has since dropped out of the race)? (And that's about the only good thing that can be said for the boorish Ford's front-runner status, believe you me.)

10. Tom Fucking Ridge. There was no "pressured" about it; Rainbow Ridge was ordered to issue those bogus terror alerts, and as a Repug operative, he was happy to comply. Any questions?

11. Sarah Fucking Palin. If there's booing in the ballroom and you don't know why, look in the audience. Or listen for a hickish voice with an annoying rasp to it. Then you'll know. Bristol Palin is not a "star", and neither is her mom. The entire wanking Palin clan has worn out its welcome even on the glorified game show circuit.

12. Stuart Fucking Varney. He lost his shit, and a debate, in true Epic Fail fashion, but since it was on FUX Snooze, he'll probably only fall up. Sad to say.

13. Glenn Fucking Beck. So racist and repugnant, he's now down to rejecting himself. Well, it's a start!

14. Eddie Fucking Long. The molestation-by-homophobe tally is now 30 and still climbing, for those keeping track.

i-touched-myself.jpg

15. Christine O'Fucking Donnell. Surprise! She lied about everything, including her own education (or more likely, lack thereof.) And yet the Repugs of Delaware saw fit to pick her over a known quantity like their current senator? Oh, this is SO headed for Failsville. PS: Did you know her dad was Bozo the Clown? No? Well, now you do...and now you know it's hereditary.

16. Cindy Fucking Jacobs. It's people like her that make atheists wherever they shit. May their prayers fall on deaf ears--or be met with resounding laughter from the sky. I really don't care which, as long as they don't come true.

17. Dana Fucking Loesch. There is no such thing as a conservative feminist; you are either a conservative OR a feminist. Conservatives believe in male domination; feminists don't. And thanks to her disparaging, lookist remarks--the hallmark of male-dominant conservatism--we all know what side this one falls on. So save your respect for someone worthy of the name.

18. Barbara Fucking Kay. She starts out reasonable enough (oh, don't they always?), but then her rant on this week's prostitution ruling veers off into pearl-clutching territory near the end:

Being a prostitute is a shameful, indecent activity, and any sex worker who demands respect as a matter of course is fooling herself. She is not respectable. Politically correct people will say she is, but she isn't.

Typically conservative, Babs comes down against the women. She never says anything to the effect that pimps and johns are not respectable. Why do you suppose THAT is? Nothing to do with that old conservative tenet that you are a conservative first and foremost, and anything else you are, if it is not white, male and Christian, gets thrown under the bus, surely!

19. Andrew Fucking Shirvell. Probably got his lawyering start in the schoolyard, pushing smaller kids around. And I bet it was mainly boys. Hmmm, I wonder why...

gay-in-foxhole.jpg

20. The Fucking Koch Brothers. Looks like their well-paid astroturfers, calling themselves "Americans for Prosperity", have very touchingly taken up the cudgels on their behalf. Everybody, all together: AAWWWWWWWWWW!!!

21. Michaëlle Fucking Jean. Much as it pains me to include her, I just gotta. Because we all loved her, going in...and then were shocked and disappointed when she ignored both history and parliamentary law to grant Harpo those two fucking proroguements. And now she wants to "explain" her betrayals to us, now that she's stepping down? Too little, too late, and wrong answer, Michaëlle. A majority did not elect that nasty little man, and you, acting on all our behalf, should not have caved in to him. But you did--twice. And now you're third time unlucky. Three strikes, yer out.

22. Andrew Fucking Breitbart. Racism is getting to be something of a habit with him, isn't it? Only this time, he uses a black guy to be his mouthpiece. Oh, and not a word on the busted sexual shenanigans of his felonious protégé, James O'Fucking Keefe? Finally, three days later, we get this. Cowardly, cowardly custard.

23. Meg Fucking Whitman. Is it terribly surprising that someone who has it in for undocumented immigrants should be caught red-handed exploiting them? The obscene thing is, this harridan has spent over $100 million US on her campaign so far.

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24. Daniel Fucking Webster. Isn't it nice to know the right-wing in the US is so indistinguishable from the Taliban--or the hard-line mullahs from Iran? At this rate, Alan Grayson will be a shoo-in, and I for one will not be happier to watch the shooing-in ceremony...

25. Glenn Fucking Beck. There are no words to express the profundity of his stupidity. Or his lunacy.

26. Fifty Fucking Cent. His manhood's not worth two shits. 'nuff said.

27. Rick Fucking Sanchez. I think someone's just jealous because Jon Stewart, a comedian, is a better newsman than he. PS: Antisemitic much?

28. Bill Fucking Donohue. Victim-blaming is an old, slimy defence attorney trick, and never more offensive than when applied to victims of sexual abuse. One wonders why he employs it so much. But then again, one doesn't need to flip heavy rocks over to know what creepy crawlies lie underneath.

eddie-long-legalese.jpg

29. Joe Fucking Warmington. Apparently it costs a lot to be utterly uncultured. Which is why Joe Blowhard wants all arts funding in Toronto--a city that makes a very good living from the arts--cut, cut, cut. Because, apparently, it's all too high-falutin' and big-word-usin' for his widdle pea brain to wrap itself around, and therefore it's extraneous and can't possibly matter very much. Never mind that the last thing Toronto needs is a boorish fucking tea-tard for a mayor. Oh, but here's the musical question from Joe: "If people can't sell their talent in a free market, why are the rest of us forced to pay for their mediocrity?" Good question, Joe...and speaking of mediocrity, why are Sun readers paying for yours? It's even duller and more deadening than the advertising space it pads out.

30. Peter Fucking McKay. His name has been synonymous with asshattery for me pretty much since the time he called ex-Tory MP Belinda Stronach a dog (she dumped him; don't we all wonder why!). Now there's a new reason for it. When an imam who pronounced a fatwa against violence is "too extremist" for Peter, we have to wonder what the hell he's dusting his cigars with. Either that, or we have to wonder what extreme he himself is sitting at. (That of stupidity, no doubt.)

31. Jackson Fucking Diehl. As usual, he doesn't know shit about Venezuela and he ain't gonna, ever. If you believe anything you read about LatAm in the WaHoPo, do I feel sorry for YOU. It's not a newspaper anymore; it's not even half-decent fishwrap, nowadays.

32. Bob Fucking Woodward. And speaking of the WaHoPo and things that have come down in the world, how about him? Journalism ceases to be journalism when it becomes military propaganda.

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33. And while we're on the subject of not-journalism-anymore, how about The Fucking Globe & Mail. They fired two of their best, Rick Salutin and Tabatha Southey--both, not coincidentally, progressives. So glad I never got that internship they interviewed me for, in a moment of what was surely morbid curiosity, 15 years ago. I'd probably have gotten the ax, too.

34. And speaking of things that suck at the "new" and unimproved Grope & Flail, how about that Margaret Fucking Wente? Ugh. If they want to ATTRACT readers, they should get rid of HER.

35. Mark Fucking Schneider. Homophobia is certainly wankish enough, but pushing around a 14-year-old girl for carrying a rainbow flag? That's cowardly bullying, pure and simple. Shame on you, motherfucker.

36. And while we're on the subject of motherfuckers, how about these 78 rape-friendly anti-choice candidates? Talk about fascists bound to lose!

Uh oh, I feel a song coming on...

And finally, to all the tea-tards out there going nuts tonight because the OneNation rally drew more than double what your Beckapalooza did. Suck it, haters.

Oh, and:

Good night, and get fucked!

October 1, 2010

Festive Left Friday Blogging: El Ecuadorable is back!

And Ecuador's military and citizens HAVE his back:

The elation and relief the people must have felt when seeing this cannot be described. But to give you a taste of what the rescue operation was like, and what the rescuers were up against, here's my translation from Aporrea:

The president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, left the hospital where he was sequestered by national police at 9:25 pm, after 10 1/2 hours as a prisoner, in a very difficult military rescue operation.

President Correa left the hospital escorted by bodyguards, after a violent confrontation between the military and rebel police officers, which began at 8:46 pm and lasted until 9:25.

The president's vehicle was allowed to leave in a convoy of various military vehicles which then left the hospital after the president was removed from the scene.

President Correa left the hospital in a wheelchair, with a gasmask on, due to the large quantity of tear gas fired by police around the hospital.

45 minutes is an eternity when you're in a firefight. So far, the toll from yesterday's violence is 8 dead and 274 injured.

And here's an indication of just how serious the situation was. The grey minivan the military rescued him in was armored, and it was a good thing, too. This is what its hood looked like afterwards:

correa-hood.jpg

And here is the windshield:

correa-windshield.jpg

Yup, those are bullet holes. Someone fired off four shots at the president. This was not just a protest; they wanted him DEAD.

But luckily for the people of Ecuador, this murder attempt was an epic fail. The military is no longer under the influence of the School of the Americas, though it's obvious the State Dept. has corrupted a certain sector of the police. According to Jean-Guy Allard (translated here by Machetera and cited by Eva Golinger), US "diplomats" are the infiltrators:

The report confirmed that police units "maintain an informal economic dependence on the United States, for the payment of informants, training, equipment and operations."

In response to the report, US Ambassador in Ecuador, Heather Hodges, justified the collaboration, saying "We work with the government of Ecuador, with the military and with the police, on objectives that are very important for security." According to Hodges, the work with Ecuador's security forces is related to the "fight against drug trafficking."

An excuse that will no longer wash, and which will no doubt make for chilly relations between Washington and Ecuador before long. Remember how they demonized Evo when he turfed out the DEA? Remember how USAID got behind numerous coup attempts against Evo AND Chavecito?

One good thing to emerge from all this chaos: It is evident that the nations of South America are no longer banana republics, resigned to whatever dictator Washington picks out for them. They have a taste for democracy now, and the people will lay their lives on the line to defend it. It logically follows that self-rule in all matters, from corporate law to anti-drug operations, will come in leaps and bounds. And when the influence of foreign diplomats is purged out, I think we'll be hearing a lot less about local officials' corruption, too.

Already Ecuador has stopped sending military officers to the School of the Americas; it closed its Manta base to the gringos last year. And not only has this notoriously "unstable" and "ungovernable" country not gone to hell in a drug-filled handbasket, its democratically elected president is going to stay in office as long as the people decreed--with ballots, not bullets--that he stay there. And not one hour less.

We so-called democratic nations can learn a lot from these so-called banana republics.