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December 31, 2010

Dickweeds of the Decade

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Crappy New Year, everyone! I have a year-end confession to make: When I was a kid, going strictly by what the talking heads on the teevee said, I fully expected the 2000s to be awesome, full of glorious futuristic things like conveyor-belt sidewalks, aircars, jetpacks, mood lipstick, and oh yeah, world peace. Well, they weren't. None of those things they promised us ever materialized. Starting with that stupid Y2K hysteria (which I will never let the conspiracy freaks live down) and ending with...well, tonight, the first decade of the 21st Century has been one hell of a washout. Doesn't it feel good to put the Worst Decade Ever behind you? Don't worry, it will...when the hangover wears off. And it will. And if you need to blame anyone for making that last decade so goddamn fucking awful, I've got the list of prime suspects right here. Feel free to construct your voodoo dollies accordingly, and be sure to buy plenty of pins. And pitchforks, tar and feathers. Here they are, in no particular order:

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1. Alvaro Fucking Uribe. Oh, where to start with El Narco? The ironies are layered thick and deep with this one. He bombed Ecuador and repeatedly ordered illegal cross-border raids on Venezuela, then screamed that they were attacking him. He's on the State Dept.'s list of known cocaine traffickers from way back, yet they still heralded him as their best ally in the fight against cocaine trafficking. He's well known for his repressive measures (called, ironically, Democratic Security), and his links to right-wing narcoterrorist death squads and paramilitaries are no secret in the region, yet he was also the State Dept.'s golden boy of democracy and freedom and all that cal--because he was supposed to be their cat's-paw against Chavecito and El Ecuadorable. He even had spies in Europe! Alas, he was an epic fail on all fronts. Colombia is still as drug-and-crime-ridden as ever, the FARC and ELN are still there, and oh yeah--it's not a real democracy either, because all leftist parties have been ruthlessly extirpated, thus eliminating an entire spectrum of valid voter choices. If you're a Colombian, you get to choose between conservative, ultra-conservative, and flat-out fascist, with heavy pressure to go for the latter. And anyone who dares to oppose El Narco in any serious way, like the liberal senator Piedad Córdoba, will find themselves hounded out of office and threatened with arrest. Even now, after he's left office, El Narco is still fucking Colombia over like there's no tomorrow. But hey, at least Spain is pressing charges against him. For all the good it may do them. He is a psychopath, and there is little doubt in my mind that he will manage to get away, literally, with murder.

2. Lucio Fucking Gutiérrez. His nickname in Ecuador is "Sucio", meaning "dirty". And yes, he earned it. How? By running as a leftist, and reigning as a rightist. He directly contradicted his key campaign promises, ran up odious debts (which El Ecuadorable, Rafael Correa, has been working hard and often successfully to nullify), and just generally was a corrupt, toadying, pro-imperial little piece of shit. He was run out of office, not surprisingly, by ordinary Ecuadorians who were simply furious at him; he's been unpopular ever since. And never was that more evident than during the September 30 coup attempt against El Ec, when Sucio lost no time in getting in front of the cameras and blaming the victim. Funnily enough, he showed up with right-wing ex-Cuban CIA operatives in tow. What was most hilarious was his denial that a coup attempt occurred. Funny, but the president's armored car has pockmarks from at least four high-calibre bullets that were fired at it after his loyal army troops finally freed him from the hospital where the police were keeping him prisoner! Next, I suppose, Sucio will try to convince the world that Rafael Correa isn't really president, and that he still is. Dissociated doesn't begin to describe this filthy rat.

3. Roberto Fucking Micheletti. His nickname is "Gorilletti", an allusion to the military dictatorships of the far right that have plagued Latin America for as long as the region has been speaking Spanish, more or less. And for those who claim Gorilletti isn't a military dictator, wise the fuck up. He could not have gotten into power--or shovelled the last democratic president of Honduras out of it--without the help of the crooked, fascist Honduran military. Thanks to him, Honduras is a banana republic once more, with everything that that term implies: disappearances, torture, murders, repression. It's an ideal environment for Yankee crapitalism and local oligarchs, but for everything and everybody else, it's a fucking nightmare. And the sham election of Pepe Lobo hasn't done a thing to improve the situation. It's still going on, and it's now such that even he, who relied on dictatorship to get himself elected, is feeling the pain. Hey Pepe, welcome to the new, improved, "free" Honduras...same as the old, degenerate dictatorship of the '80s. You're not really in charge there. Gorilletti and his goon squads-o-death are. Get used to it.

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4. Avigdor Fucking Lieberman. He wasn't elected head of state for Israel; I'm really not sure what he was elected to, other than maybe a parliamentary seat. But somehow he's managed to hijack the entire Knesset and lurch it hard to starboard. He's also managed to make one hell of an ass of himself wherever he goes, dishing up ignorant pronouncements on anyone who's smart enough to see through him. He's particularly asinine about Latin America--coincidentally, the very place where people are most likely to mistrust Israel for sending torturers and spooks to terrorize the region and meddle overtly in its politics. Now he has the chutzpah to say the Palestinian Authority is "illegitimate". Yeah, we saw that one coming! The only advice I can give to anyone perplexed by this putzy little man is to take whatever he says and rotate it 180 degrees; and if he slams another person, just take it to be a projection of the crawly maggotry that's forever festering inside of him. It's the only way his words could ever be said to make sense.

5. The Fucking US Republican (Tea) Party. It is the essence of what's wrong in the US, kiddies...these crazy, angry, gun-toting, self-righteous, ignorant white people. Totally racist, totally dissociated...and totally lacking in self-awareness, much less any sense of history. Or the irony of their own positions. Their notion of "liberty" is based on the enslavement of the nation's majorities, which, ironically, happen to include the vast majority of voters, regardless of party affiliations. The diabolical genius of the whole tea-tard thing is how this astroturf "movement" has suckered millions into voting directly against their own interests.

6. Sarah Fucking Palin. The queen bee of the tea-tards. Two years ago, I thought for sure that she would fade back into deserved obscurity when she lost John McCain his chance at the White House. Unfortunately, she has yet to do so. In fact, all the signs point to another, and even bigger, Epic Fail in 2012 (the year the Mayan calendar is supposed to run down, by some weird coincidence.) She's "written" two crappy books, made up a whole new vocabulary of stupid, dragged her daughter onto one of the tackiest glorified game shows on TV, and generally done whatever it takes to keep her own profile high. She's even tried to hijack feminism (while actually practising the opposite), to the point where an overwhelming majority of women can't fucking stand her anymore. Oh yeah: and she's a big one on censoring dissent--and library books. If she died tomorrow, I'd fully expect her to sit up in her coffin the next day and start screeching a whole new load of horseshit, in an attempt to stay "relevant" even while dead. So, even though she only blipped onto the world's radar in the last two years of the decade, she qualifies most thoroughly as a dickweed, n'est-ce pas?

7. Lanny Fucking Davis. Lest anyone think that conservatives have a complete monopoly on dickweedery, I offer you this "liberal" DINO. Not content to help Gorilletti and his thugs whitewash their brutal coup in Honduras in '09, now he's helping a thug in Africa's Ivory Coast retain his power. The common denominator is thuggery. Lanny Davis loves it. He battens on it. His wallet fattens on it. And, like Screech Palin, Davis may only have blipped my radar in the last two years, but he's more than justified his presence on this list by being such a fucking asshole.

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8. The Fucking Pope. There's so much wrong with this one, and it goes so far back. Way beyond the past decade, in fact. He was in the Hitler Youth, and claims he couldn't get out? Hell, that's a lie. All he had to do, if he were really opposed, was not show up. My dad played hooky from it, no problem. What were they going to do, arrest a 12-year-old? Line him up in front of a firing squad? Even the Nazis didn't go there; they needed all the warm bodies they could get. And Ratzi is older than my old man; age of reason, you know. So I'm going to go way out on a limb and assume that Ratzi was, in fact, reasonably convinced--enough to go along, regardless of the Vatican's hilarious early attempts to deny the obvious:

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Yes, that's him, in altar-boy gear, giving the Nazi salute. Heil!

But what's worst about this one, worse even than the HJ affiliation, is the fact that he was instrumental in covering up child-sex-abuse scandals at the highest levels of the Vatican. And by the sounds of things, he still is. But hey! Let's blame those swinging '70s. After all, we know pedophilia wasn't invented before then, and certainly not rampant among priests since time immemorial!

9. The Fucking IMF. Not content merely to wreck Latin America one economy at a time, now it's trying to do the same up here. Trouble is, we don't want their wreckage; we've got enough problems as it is, thanks to NAFTA and CAFTA giving us the shafta. Oh wait, I know what to do: How about scrapping the IMF, and going back to the "bad" old days of, you know, Canadian protectionism? Too obvious? Funny, because it's working kind of well for Latin Americans to chuck them out (and the World Bank, too) and use homegrown solutions for their economic problems instead of bad prescription medicine from Bretton Woods! But there's one person up here whom I would NEVER trust further than I could kick his ass on a muddy day when it comes to homegrown solutions, and it is...

10. Stephen Fucking Harper. What makes him a dickweed? We could be up all night if I had to list all the traits. But off the top of my head, here are the ones that blipped my dickweed-radar the most: Promising to give us an elected senate. Hasn't happened yet; he's packed it with 38 Tory appointees to date. There was even a time when he tried to appropriate Jack Layton's proposal to abolish the senate, but that never happened either; Harpo probably backed off because he realized there was no way he could pack it if it didn't exist, and no way his SupposiTories could ever get a majority in Parliament, either. And then there were those two prorogations, both of which could best be summed up as "spoiled Tory baby trying to turn the Parliament blue by holding his breath". Too bad for Harpo that he couldn't make it third-time-sucky, but this time he made the colossal blunder (for him, anyway) of appointing a Governor-General who (a) understands the constitution (and its allowance for coalitions), and (b) isn't a pushover. So now he's reduced to sniping at all the other parties again, which is always soooooo democratic and becoming.

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11. All the fucking rightard talking heads in the media. Surely it's not just me thinking they've multiplied. Or how they've tugged the media further and further to the right, to the point where a lot of news reporting has getting damn hard to read, listen to or watch because it's just so goddamn fucking stupid. And it's gotten that way because of these goddamn fucking pundits. And we all know how much they've profited from all the war and economic catastrophe they helped to cause by cheerleading. Even worse, they've spawned...

12. All those fucking rightard bloggers. They have turned the Internets from a 21st-century vision of information superhighways...into a big, fat, stinking hog wallow of mental derangement, greed, stupidity, mediocrity, denial, superstition, bigotry, misogyny, homophobia, racism, hysteria and paranoia. And those in turn have spawned...

13. All those fucking rightard Internet trolls. Some of whom (how many, no one has yet determined) are paid by the post from the ample coffers of wingnut welfare for injecting Teh Stoopid into every serious online discussion EVER. Reasons may vary, but the most common one is probably plain old derailment, for the simple reason that no progress can be made if the train is off the tracks. (No, I'm not shitting you. Unlike them, I'm not being paid.)

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14. Pedro Fucking Carmona. I chose to assign him the number 14 because that's the day in April of 2002 he got his coup-mongering ass handed to him, and Chavecito booted it out of Miraflores palace where it didn't belong. He was under house arrest in Caracas for a while, then fled to Colombia, and from there, to Miami--the scum capital of the Americas. He has yet to be extradited back to Venezuela to face trial. Was this creepy little man even elected head of the Venezuelan chamber of commerce, which was his post before he crowned himself president-for-a-day, or was it just another ooky little backroom putsch? The lack of transparency about this one alone is enough to give any serious democrat pause, but apparently some people thought it worthwhile to endorse him. And the most powerful ones could all be found in...

15. The Fucking US State Department. A collection of dickweeds in any given decade since the early 1800s, as far as the American continent is concerned, they really outdid themselves, as far as dickweedery goes, in the past one. Practically as soon as they'd declared independence from Britain, they were looking to take away the independence of their neighbors, including us. Look up the Monroe Doctrine sometime; it's clear they learned nothing from their loss in the War of 1812. Solving all their country's problems would be a no-brainer for them if they could only cut the purse-strings tying them to...

16. The Fucking Military-Industrial Complex. Fifty years ago Ike Eisenhower warned us about them. Fifty years later, his warning holds true more than ever. These dickweeds profited massively from every war the US has ever been involved in, including the ones in Afghanistan and Iraq. They also benefit directly from any coup the US has ever endorsed, since someone's got to supply all those putschists with weapons. Gotta keep the world safe for shameless profiteering democracy, you know!

17. Fucking Halliburton. And while we're on the subject of shameless profiteering democracy, let's talk about some of the most shameless profiteers fine upstanding corporatist democrats of all. This labyrinthine corporation (along with its subsidiary, Kellogg, Brown & Root) makes the list for a whole roster of egregious examples: supplying the US military with grossly overpriced food (which, in turn, was just plain gross--and left more than a few soldiers feeling gross, too); sexual and mental abuse of women; "sailboat fuel"; and oh yeah, have we forgotten maggots yet?

18. Fucking Blackwater. Speaking of maggots...how about mercenaries? Yup, the past decade was a banner one for the mercenary-industrial complex, too. Because when war is this profitable, why not multiply the number of profiteers civilian contractors that can benefit from it? What could possibly go wrong? Well, I could think of a few things...but I bet Erik Fucking Prince did not.

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19. Dick Fucking Cheney. Why was there a Gulf War II? Because this horrid cyborg from Halliburton didn't think he was rich enough yet. And lord knows he already was richer than about 99% of his fellow Amurricans. Which may explain why someone so obviously not physically fit to be in such a high office could still pass the medical. And who can forget those five draft deferments during the Vietnam era? That was the only time in his life that the Big Dick was fit to actually fight a war instead of sending the 99%ers' sons to die in one.

20. Donald Fucking Rumsfeld. Another obscene war profiteer, Rummy owned stock in a pharmaceutical firm that just happens to manufacture the antiviral drug, Tamiflu. Was it any coincidence that we got scare stories every morning, noon and night on the news about the Bird Flu and how it was wreaking havoc...in the poorest, dirtiest, most down-at-heel poultry farms in Vietnam? Flu shots are cheaper and more effective (DUH: they prevent you from actually GETTING flu in the first place), but of course that wouldn't have lined Rummy's war-mongering pockets, either. He didn't own stock in a flu-shot manufacturer, after all.

Oh, and who can forget this picture?

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Apparently, Rummy could--and did. Not even so much as a blush or a mea culpa for having supplied Saddam with all those infamous chemical weapons that could later not be found. How could he not acknowledge the man who made him so obscenely rich and powerful? I'm shocked. SHOCKED, I tellz ya.

21. Karl (Rat)Fucking Rove. Otherwise known as Bush's Brain, or more politely, Turdblossom. He learned the fine art of ratfucking from Nixon's master of dirty tricks, one Donald Segretti. So of course, it stands to reason that he would use everything he learned to make Dubya the Worst President Ever. (And that's quite the feat, considering what a bag of dicks ol' Milhous was.) But let's not be too mean on Unka Karl; after all, he had a lousy childhood. A little girl beat the shit out of him once, and he's been avenging himself on femaledom (and especially, women voters) ever since. He's all turd and no blossom.

22. Michele Fucking Bachmann. Why?

That's why. She's a glassy-eyed freak who can do nothing but recite the same vacuous lines, over and over and over again. Either she's on drugs, or she's a pull-string doll made in Stepford. She is, like Sarah Fucking Palin, of absolutely no consequence, having done nothing real for the voters of Minnesota. And yet, inexplicably, she seems to be politically indestructible, in spite of all evidence of her utter incompetence. Which forces me to conclude that those who voted for her are even dumber and more programmed than she is. She represents...essentially nothing. And THAT is what's truly scary: You can get people to vote, and keep voting, for an actual black hole in this political environment, as long as it talks the conservatard god-talk. Style, you suck. Substance, we hardly knew ye.

23. Alan Fucking García. I've wank-listed him before (in fact, even before I was making a regular feature of the wank-list, or calling it that), but srsly, this one can go on that list again and again until his term is over. Otto calls his Peru "investment grade", and believe me, that phrase is NOT complimentary...especially not when followed by "Viva, Viva, Viva". In plain old non-bizspeak English, "investment grade" means "corrupt, polluted, and fraught with every imaginable kind of human rights abuses". And if you want to see how uncomplimentary it is, why honey, you just clicky right here, stick that phrase into the searchy-thingy down there the right-hand side, and let ol' Otto explain it all to you. He can do it so much better than I because he actually lives there. (And spends a lot of time with his face in his palm, I imagine.)

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24. Charles Fucking McVety. If you live in Ontario, you already know why this one is on the list. For those who don't, allow me to introduce you: World, dickweed; dickweed, world. Charles McVety is the unchristian asshole who fucked up Ontario's education system almost singlehandedly. I say "almost", because obviously it took someone to listen to him and take his shit seriously in order for our education system to get so fucked up and all. Comprehensive sex-education is a no-no for Charlie because he thinks we'll all learn how to be Teh Ghey and use condoms to boff each other in the butt. That's his main area of "concern", and he never misses a chance to push it in the attempt to make this entire liberal province all backward and homophobic and dumb and uptight like him and his buttboy, Little Stevie Peevie. In reality, what he's opposed to is protecting our kids against ignorance and all its fruits...no, not that kind...I'm talking unwanted pregnancy, repression, suicide, and oh yeah...STD outbreaks like the syphilis one that's currently raging in "God's country", Alberta. But y'know, I often think that inside every homophobe is a gay guy screaming to get out. And if you saw Chuckles, you'd know why he was screaming. If I were his inner gay guy, I'd be screaming to get out of him, too.

25. Faytene Fucking Kryskow. Who she? Basically, she's Chuckles McBetty's younger, "hipper", and scarier female incarnation. It took me a while to realize who she was, too. Her name is something I couldn't make up if I tried; it sounds like a hair product made of hydrogenated palm oil. And, quite by concidence, she has a vast array of very strange and shudder-inducing coiffures. The first time I saw her on the nightly news, in a spot about the theo-cons preying/praying on Parliament Hill, I didn't even catch her name, but her face was burned in my memory; how could it not be? I had never before seen a fundie chick with so much raccoon eyeliner, never mind those devil horns that were actually two big messy rolls of hair perched right on top of her head. Honestly, I thought I was staring into the face of Jezebel or the Whore of Babylon herself. If you thought all goth girls were Wiccans like me, you'd be in for a helluva shock on meeting either of us. I look natural and normal; she looks like she sleeps in a casket and drinks virgins' blood. Maybe she does! She runs a youth-ministry-type thingy with all kinds of Nürnberg-rally shows and thrash-metal music and an apocalyptic theological line that would make Jesus scream and run for his life, because that's exactly the kind of lynch mob that would crucify his poor ass all over again. Even the fundies think she's a satanist, and when you get those freaks thinking along those lines, well...

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26. Pat Fucking Robertson. Hey, we're on the subject of what makes Jesus vomit, and I'd say he's a pretty fair candidate. He pals around with African dictators, is rich from blood diamonds, calls for disasters to hit areas where gay people have been treated with a modicum more respect and dignity than to simply be carted off to a gas chamber, he hates Haiti, and oh yeah, he also called for the assassination of my man Chavecito--who, unlike Patwa, is a real Christian. He says stupid shit all the time, and he was not always as righteous as he might have you believe (if you are dumb and blind, that is.) But you know what really frosts my cake? He actually came out in favor of legalizing pot. Which makes me suspect two things: He's dying of something ghastly that can only be relieved with one drug, and he's actually looking to get right with God at last.

27. John Fucking Hagee. Here's another of those asshats whose head Jesus is going to snap off on judgment day and toss into the Lake of Fire for the demons to play soccer with. Oh, he's a great friend of Israel, all right, but he's no friend of the Jews. His views on Hitler as "God's hunter" ought to offend every self-respecting Jew on the planet. He did, however, use to pal around with a non-self-respecting one, Jack Fucking Abramoff, who's currently in the clinker for corruption; does that sound to you like the kind of company a godly man should keep? Well, to him it does, no doubt because of all the shekels this schmeckel stood to make off it all. He also hates the poor and would like nothing better to see them starve (unlike himself, of course; did I mention that he's corpulent?) Oh yeah, and he hates Chavecito, too. Why do you suppose that is? Surely not the tyranny of a good example again?

And finally, the man who is surely THE Dickweed of the Decade, if ever there had to be just one:

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28. George W. Fucking Bush. Can anyone deny that he screwed the last ten years up for the entire world? Watch Fahrenheit 9/11 and tell me you don't think so. "They" don't hate the US for its freedom, they hate it for taking theirs away. And no one's done more taking-away, or at least enabled it, than The Decider. Arrogant, stupid, a phony, a piss-poor businessman...I could go on about Dubya all night, but I'm not in the mood. I was happy to see Obama wave him off two years ago, and am only sorry he hasn't done more to rid the world of the damage that dirty little fucker left behind. Fuck you, Dubya, for all you have done. Fuck you very much.

And a crappy New Year to you, too.

December 30, 2010

Espionage Act: a muzzle for dissent, says Robert Meeropol

Video in two parts; click through for the second.

Democracy Now interviews Robert Meeropol, the younger of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg's two sons, who criticizes the forthcoming prosecution of Julian Assange under the same 1917 Espionage Act that resulted in the senseless deaths of his parents.

I say "senseless" because the espionage trial of the Rosenbergs was clearly a show trial, meant to menace US communists and silence them as the McCarthyite hysteria swept over the country. A previously legal and commonplace political viewpoint would eventually be criminalized; a travesty in a country whose citizens pride themselves on their freedom. I also say "senseless" because the real spy in the case--Ethel's brother, David Greenglass, who worked as a machinist on the "Fat Man" plutonium bomb at Los Alamos and is the source of the secret materials that Ethel and Julius were executed for passing along--testified against his own flesh and blood, and went free. And I also say "senseless" because, ultimately, the materials passed on by Julius Rosenberg to the Soviets were of little worth to them. They already had their own nuclear-weapons program well underway, and the crude drawings of David Greenglass (which carried few technical specifics and were not to scale) were not an infallible recipe for a plutonium bomb. At most, those drawings simply showed them how the Los Alamos scientists had constructed the implosion lenses for the device. Today, in fact, all the information that David Greenglass took down and Julius Rosenberg passed along is readily available to the public in many sources; the best is Richard Rhodes's book, The Making of the Atomic Bomb.

The Rosenberg boys were adopted shortly before their parents' execution by Abel Meeropol and his wife. They took their adoptive parents' surname as protection against the media-driven lynching of anyone unfortunate enough to be related--or simply called Rosenberg. Meeropol is an interesting personage in his own right; he is the author of this song, made famous by Billie Holliday:

An anti-lynching, anti-racist song, the first big hit of its kind, and considered the most influential song of the 20th century. "I wrote 'Strange Fruit'," said Meeropol, "because I hate lynching, and I hate injustice, and I hate the people who perpetuate it." Abel Meeropol was, like the Rosenbergs, a communist, a strong advocate of civil rights, and an anti-fascist. He undoubtedly taught his adopted sons to stand up for what was right, and they do so to this day--denouncing the same senseless hypocrisy that resulted in the deaths of their parents.

December 29, 2010

Oh gag me, part troisième

Well, well, well. What have we here? Another photo from Carlos Andrés Pérez's funeral?

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This pic was tweeted by Carlchucho. He writes: "For those who say a democrat died: At the funeral of CAP, Daniel Romero, Carmona's attorney general." Daniel Romero is the man circled in red.

Here's another shot tweeted by Carlchucho, from a different angle:

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Note the expression on Romero's face. It matches the one in the inset, where Romero, morose at having been taken prisoner by Miraflores palace guards, squats miserably in the basement, glowering as he and a roomful of other prisoners are read their rights. It's taken from a scene in The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. Here he is in his "finest" hour, abolishing ALL the democratic institutions of Venezuela during the two-day putsch-dictatorship of Pedro Carmona, alias Pedro the Brief, on April 11, 2002:

The video's mostly in Spanish, but the key part, where Carmona illegally swears himself in as president and Romero demolishes all semblance of Venezuelan democracy, is helpfully subtitled in English.

It's fitting that he should be a pallbearer at CAP's mafiosic funeral, since CAP himself called more than once for Hugo Chávez to be executed "like a dog". And since CAP himself also ordered a massacre of his own people--which led directly to Chavecito's military uprising against him three years after the Caracazo. One dearly departed democrat indeed!

Oh gag me, part deuxième

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Can you believe this? Even in death, Carlos Andrés Pérez is the stuff of bad soap opera. Courtesy of the indefatigable Cort G., this landed in my e-mail today:

MIAMI (AP) -- A judge has delayed the burial of former Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Perez amid a family feud over his final resting place.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Gerald Hubbart issued an order late Tuesday to keep a funeral home from burying Perez as planned Wednesday.

His first wife, Blanca Perez, wants him buried in Venezuela. She maintains that she has the right to decide because, while the two were separated, they were never legally divorced. She also claims Perez left no written instructions regarding his remains.

Perez's longtime mistress and secretary, Cecilia Matos, and their two daughters had planned to bury him in Miami, where they live, after a Mass Wednesday. Matos is frequently identified as Perez's current wife, but it is not clear if they were married.

She and her daughters have vowed they will not bring Perez's remains back to Venezuela until President Hugo Chavez, who led a 1992 coup attempt against him, leaves office.

Hubbart did not immediately schedule another hearing, but he granted Blanca Perez's request to prevent the funeral home from taking any action to bury or otherwise dispose of the body until the dispute is settled.

Juan C. Antunez and Juan Jose Delgado, appointed to handle the matter on Blanca Perez's behalf, declined to comment Wednesday.

Perez's family in Venezuela wants him buried there next to his daughter Thais, who died 15 years ago.

Another daughter in Venezuela, Carolina Perez, told The Associated Press she found out about her father's death from Twitter and her family was never consulted about the burial. She maintains that her mother, Blanca Perez, should be the one to decide what happens to her father's remains.

"They're still married, and the law is very clear in Venezuela and in the United States: When the person dies, the one who has the right to reclaim the body is the spouse, and we exercised that right," she said.

Diego Arria, a close Perez ally and his former U.N. ambassador, said both sides have expressed willingness to resolve the situation and he does not believe the dispute will turn into an extended court battle.

He said lawyers for Perez's relatives in Miami and Caracas are discussing the matter and that both sides should agree on when the ex-president's body are to be taken to Venezuela.

Oh my. This is embarrassing. In my first entry on CAP's death I translated "separated" as "divorced", assuming that that had taken place. It hadn't. Either CAP couldn't be bothered, or he was so arch-Catholic and hypocritical that he didn't dare offend the churchmen who tend to side with Venezuela's oligarchy on all issues anyway. Maybe he really was expecting to be called back to the presidency when Chavecito was overthrown!

Plus, seeing as CAP left no burial instructions, it seems very likely that he left no will either. Meaning, more catfights in court to come. Any way you slice it, we have yet another CAP scandal!

Of course, I fully expect the oppos to somehow try to spin this politically as "Chávez's fault". After all, he "drove" CAP into "exile"...only, of course, that happened while the young, yet-to-be-elected Chavecito was still in Yare Prison for leading an insurrection against CAP (who was impeached during the same period), so of course they can't. Chavecito has already said that the Pérez family has a right to bring his remains back to Venezuela for burial, so there's certainly no way they can rightly blame him for this tangle. But it will be entertaining to watch the fireworks anyway.

Popcorn, anyone?

December 28, 2010

Oh, gag me with a meat cleaver!

I know you're not supposed to speak ill of the dead, but I think that's ridiculous. Do we not speak ill of Hitler and Stalin all the time? There are some people to whom one owes not even token posthumous respect, and the funeral of Carlos Andrés Pérez, which took place today in Miami, illustrates perfectly why that is:

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Yes, that's the OLD flag of Venezuela. The seven-star flag of the Fourth Republic, which died when Chavecito came into office in '99. There was a big fuss when this one was scrapped in 2006, but it was to no end. Nobody uses it anymore but the most rabid of the Venezuelan oppos, who all happen to spend more time in Miami than they do in their "beloved homeland". It's also historically inaccurate, since the current (and correct) version has eight stars, symbolizing the eight provinces (including Guayana, which was earlier omitted) which revolted against Spanish Rule in Bolívar's day. (Bolívar himself decreed an eight-star flag in 1817.) But it's the perfect emblem of the murderous, faux-democratic corruption of the Fourth, so I guess it fits right in at this celebration of its crookedest figurehead's death. It is also the perfect emblem of the opposition's stubborn pettiness.

Even more sickening, though, is the memorial card:

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The quote, from Venezuelan poet Andrés Eloy Blanco, reads: "While the bad son of the homeland grows and gets fat destroying it, the good son dies in exile, weeping for it." Blanco wrote that for Bolívar, who did die in exile. By putting it on CAP's memorial card as a pointed insult to Chavecito, the oppos twisted it so hard that they broke it. Need I underscore what a travesty it is to slam a sitting president (and a very patriotic, competent one) that way, especially since the bad son who fattened his wallet on corruption and death did not die in exile but on the lam, not weeping but laughing all the way to the bank?

BTW, CAP also has the dubious distinction of having been the first Venezuelan president ever to be impeached. But only for corruption. He never had to answer for mass murder.

There's a reason why ordinary Venezuelans call their defeated old Fourth Republic ruling class sinvergüenzas--shameless people. Actually there are several, but I decided, out of "respect" for the dead, to list only two or three this time.

Stupid Sex Tricks: The ultimate stupid sex trick

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It's called "bang bang, you're dead".

A probable cause arrest affidavit filed in Canadian County states Arthur Sedille told investigators he and his wife often engaged in sexual fantasy involving a gun.

Arthur Sedille told police he took a handgun from a shelf beside the bed and "racked the slide back causing the gun to cock," the affidavit states. He said he placed the gun to her head and the gun discharged. He said he did not realize the gun was loaded, according to the affidavit.

I knew they were gun-crazy in Oklahoma, but I never knew anyone could be THAT crazy.

December 27, 2010

Witnesses of Jehovah

An hour-long documentary that takes a look at the secretive, highly profitable Watchtower Society from within. Ex-JWs and former members of the governing body reveal the Orwellian cult's dirty secrets--among them, an Elmer Gantry-like leader who ruled from 1917 into the 1940s from a princely estate in San Diego, and the continual, embarrassing resetting of the date at which Armageddon is supposed to occur, according to the Watchtower Society. Most heartbreaking is the way this organization, which claims to "bring families together", actually drives people apart, by encouraging them to shun unbelievers, the apostates and the disfellowshipped, even among their own blood relatives.

And of course, speaking of blood, there's that insanity about transfusions...which, should any JW disobey, becomes immediately and hideously clear. Calling down hateful death wishes upon the disobedient over a simple, life-saving procedure is highly unchristian, but it's exactly the sort of thing one can expect from the brainwashed members of this cult--or any other right-wing cult, come to that. For an organization that makes much of the suffering, persecution and martyrdom of its members, the Watchtower Society does shockingly little--often nothing--to protect them, and indeed, it shoves them into harm's way quite deliberately, exposing them to all manner of scorn, ridicule, strife, and even grave physical danger. And all this in the name of God's love...

The style of this documentary is very dated and wooden, with a lot of cartoons eerily reminiscent of Jack Chick tracts; it's aimed predominantly at Christian ex-JWs, with a view to religious conversion. Nevertheless, the history and the facts it presents speak for themselves. (You may smile, as I did, when you see the part about how the JWs used to picket outside of churches, claiming that religion was a racket. Their own, of course, was excluded from that designation!)

I would also encourage you to read James Kostelniuk's book, Wolves Among Sheep, which details how the Watchtower Society broke up his own family, and indirectly caused the murder of his first wife, Kim, who divorced him and drove a wedge between him and their two children (who were also murdered) for not being faithful and unquestioning enough. It, too, goes into intimate detail about the shocking hypocrisy of the Watchtower Society and its absolute control over every detail of the lives of its "other sheep".

It is truly worth asking oneself whether any god worth worshipping would demand that his followers turn themselves inside out for an organization which purports to be God's intermediary on Earth, but seems clearly more bent on turning it into a living hell for its faithful.

Quotable: Christopher Beam on libertarianism

"It's no coincidence that most libertarians discover the philosophy as teenagers. At best, libertarianism means pursuing your own self-interest, as long as you don't hurt anyone else. At worst, as in Ayn Rand's teachings, it's an explicit celebration of narcissism. "Man's first duty is to himself," says the young architect Howard Roark in his climactic speech in The Fountainhead. "His moral obligation is to do what he wishes." Roark utters these words after dynamiting his own project, since his vision for the structure had been altered without his permission. The message: Never compromise. If you don't get your way, blow things up. And there's the problem. If everyone refused to compromise his vision, there would be no cooperation. There would be no collective responsibility. The result wouldn't be a city on a hill. It would be a port town in Somalia. In a world of scarce resources, everyone pursuing their own self-interest would yield not Atlas Shrugged but Lord of the Flies. And even if you did somehow achieve Libertopia, you'd be surrounded by assholes."

--Christopher Beam, in New York Magazine

December 26, 2010

Collateral Murder: The aftermath in Baghdad

Two unembedded reporters for Big Noise Films were in Baghdad--coincidentally, the day after the notorious Collateral Murder shootings occurred (and were caught on camera by the helicopter gunships doing the firing.) They prove conclusively that everything the US government has said about the infamous video from the gunships is a bald-faced lie. It's quite clear in this video that the Iraqi journalist killed in the shooting is no "armed insurgent", but a Reuters reporter talking on a cellphone. It's also clear that the van full of wounded children was just that, and not a suicide bomber or other insurgent. It shows that the soldiers knew full well what they were firing on; there was no "fog of war". The gunship pilot has to request permission before opening fire each time, and describes in detail what is going on in the street; he GETS that permission, no problem, in spite of the fact. Meaning, both the pilot and his base commander knew they were committing a war crime. And they still went right ahead and did it. "Bushmaster" and "Crazyhorse" are war criminals. Any questions?

Even more stunning is what these two unembedded documentarists found the next day in that same neighborhood. Iraqis eager to talk, to show that what had happened was an atrocity. They led the reporters straight to the burnt-out van that had been about to carry wounded children to hospital. You can still see the bloodstains on the seats. A clearer confirmation would be impossible to get; the Iraqis' version and that of the gunship tally point for point. Right down to the assertion that the US tanks drove over a body; the Apache helo's video confirms that, too.

Now, the whole world knows that the US government lies constantly, pathologically, and shamelessly. It lies its people into war, and then it lies even more about what goes on during the wars. Only reporters who aren't required to be shameless "Support the Troops" boosters can tell the truth...only they, and military leakers. If not for Wikileaks and Bradley Manning, this crime would never have come to light, and the Big Noise crew's confirming video of the aftermath might have gotten lost in the shuffle.

And this crime, as yet, remains unpunished. Apparently, Hopey has yet to change the BushCo rules of engagement from "anything goes" to "not so fast, fellas". This is NOT change I can believe in, nor anyone who voted for Obama as a candidate for peace. It makes even more of a mockery out of that pre-emptive Nobel prize than it already was.

December 25, 2010

The last flight of Yuri Gagarin

The first man in space was a Russian cosmonaut. He made history in 1961 with just under 90 minutes in orbit, in which he circled the Earth once, and consolidated the Soviet Union's post-Sputnik position as leader in the Space Race. But just seven years later, the popular hero was killed in a flying accident with an experimental plane, along with another pilot. The precise circumstances have remained a mystery even to the authorities...until now.

Carlos Andrés Pérez dies in Miami

The news just came out over the tweeter in the last hour or so. Here's the first official announcement, courtesy of Panorama:

Former Venezuelan ambassador to the United Nations, Diego Arria, posted a few minutes ago on his Twitter account that the former president of Venezuela, Carlos Andrés Pérez, died on Saturday, December 25, aged 88, in Miami.

Carlos Andrés Pérez was president of Venezuela for two terms (1974-1979 and 1989-1993) as head of the Acción Democrática (Democratic Action) party.

He lived with his family in Miami, and had withdrawn from public life after a stroke.

The ex-president was born in Rubio, in the state of Táchira, on October 27, 1922.

He was married in 1948 to his cousin, Blanca Rodríguez. They had six children: Sonia, Thaís, Martha, Carlos Manuel, María de los Angeles, and Carolina.

After his second term in office, Pérez divorced his wife and continued to live with his secretary, Cecilia Matos.

Translation mine.

Obviously, this is the Reader's Digest condensed version of Pérez. The real one is considerably longer and more sordid. Cecilia Matos, for starters, was Pérez's mistress and the reason for his divorce. And believe it or not, she is the LEAST sordid chapter of his life. Here's the MOST sordid one...the Caracazo, a military/police massacre of random, poor Venezuelans, ordered from the top...by the newly second-term president, Carlos Andrés Pérez, in late February and early March of 1989:

Video in Spanish, in two parts; click through for the second.

Pérez was not solely responsible for all the crime and death, but he was at the head of the very corrupt AD government that decided to follow, to the letter, the IMF's disastrous "shock therapy" package. He was not a president so much as a tame dictator; he reversed his campaign promises almost as soon as he had taken office. In so doing, he lost whatever democratic credibility he still had. The results were catastrophic for Venezuela's majority poor, whose wages did not keep step with the sudden inflation in the cost of living that a "free market" inevitably brings. The price of gasoline rose, and with it, bus fares more than doubled. Prices shot up as storefronts closed; there was no actual shortage of goods, but the store owners were hoarding them in order to jack up the prices by claiming shortages. Angry crowds refused to buy that--literally. They set the buses on fire and broke into the shuttered shops, taking whatever they could get their hands on. Barricades made of old tires and garbage burned in the streets. Some waved the flag and sang the national anthem, a graphic reminder that this was not mere looting, it was a nation trying to reclaim its dignity in a spontaneous, unorganized outburst.

But Pérez, having set a disaster in motion by going back on his campaign promises, did not revert meekly to democracy. To do so would have meant losing the IMF cash with which he intended to line his own pockets and those of his mistress and cronies. So he chose another tyrannical, top-down "solution": He sent the army out to fire on the citizens, indiscriminately, in the poor neighborhoods where the protests raged for days on end.

Crank up the sound on that. The Bersuit song is an angry and very fitting soundtrack. "Here comes the explosion/Here comes the explosion/Of my guitar/And of your government/As well."

The only thing that saddens me about this death is that this murderer, this dictator, never did any prison time in his life for the thousands of violent deaths on his watch. He was impeached in 1993 for misuse of public funds, a weak charge considering the death toll of his reign--one approaching that of Augusto Pinochet, according to unofficial figures. The Caracazo is widely believed to have killed as many people in one week as died at the hands of fascist thugs during Pinochet's entire reign.

Carlos Andrés Pérez was actually something worse than Pinochet--he was utterly dishonest about his antidemocratic stance, whereas at least the Chilean dictator made no bones about his own. And rather than do jail time, Pérez fucked off to Miami to enjoy the good life with his mistress...and call for a true democrat, Chávez, to die "like a dog" at regular intervals. Classy, huh?

Here's the fun part, though: Pérez was waiting for Venezuela to call him home to be president again. That call never came. The only call came from Hades, where one might devoutly hope this sickening old bastard finds justice at last.

Ashes to ashes; dust to dust; shit to the shitpile. Goodbye, Carlos Andrés Pérez...pathological liar, thief and murderer. You won't be missed.

December 24, 2010

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Feliz Chavidad!

For many Venezuelans, it's been a rough December. Flooding forced many poor folks to abandon their homes, as entire hillsides came crashing down in torrents of mud. They are now living in government shelters as the rebuilding effort gets underway. Others had to spend the holiday in prison or hospital. For them, this Christmas didn't look so good. That is, until a big, jolly man in red showed up. No, it wasn't Santa Claus. It was their president:

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Chavecito welcomes refugees to the government palace: "Welcome, you have come to the House of the People." It's not merely "mi casa es su casa", it really is their house. Some of them are actually staying there due to the flooding. When's the last time you saw a president provide aid so directly?

Meanwhile, some prisoners received pardons:

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Can you believe that 'Cito, he actually said "prisons have to be converted into centres of social formation"? Evil commie! Total totalitarian!

And of course, it wouldn't be Christmas without a Christ Child. But this little "Jesusito" wasn't born in a manger behind a crowded inn, he was born in one of three new maternity hospitals:

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...and of course, the big guy couldn't resist the impulse to cuddle the Santa-suited little one. Much to the new mom's delight.

Feliz Chavidad!

December 22, 2010

A day for the WTF files

It's been one, quite literally, for me. Starting with this head-spinning report from Russia Today:

Not only do Israel and Iran actually agree on something--and that something is a Russia-sponsored UN resolution against the glorification of Nazism--but the "freedom-loving" United States of Amnesia opposes that same thing! Happily, the RT journalists bring up the matter of Project Paperclip, in which old Nazis became brand-new CIA torture trainers, espionage "experts", and other nefarious specialities that the US of A was all too happy to exploit in its quest for Total World Domination™, starting in the Cold War era. This may seem shocking to some; to me it's practically a no-brainer that the dang Russkies are more freedom-loving, at the bottom of it, than the Yanks are right now. They know from sad Stalin-era experience what the lack of freedom felt like; the US has forgotten, mainly because they had (and still have) more junk on their store shelves to choose from, and mistook (and still mistake) that for freedom. I'm happy to see that a freer press exists in Russia now, and that its reporters don't shy away from shining a hard light on the old Cold War enemy and its ongoing devotion to the Bad Old Days. This is the kind of reporting we should be seeing all the time, everywhere.

Now: speaking of old Cold Warriors, how about that General Videla? Finally he got a taste of justice. He's going to civilian prison for the rest of his life, which probably won't be long now, seeing as he's 85 and all. Maybe they should release him in the general prison population, while they're at it. There are probably guys in there who lost someone they knew to Videla's death squads during the '70s and '80s. I'm sure they'd be only too happy to keep him company. Especially since he expressed psychopathic sentiments like the following:

In court on Tuesday, Videla appeared to lack any regret over his past actions, calling what many call the Dirty War a "just war".

"I did not come here to defend myself today nor speak in my defence, in my eyes, defending myself doesn't make sense," he said.

"With this reality, which I cannot change, I will accept, however unwillingly, the unjust sentence that you are able to pass on me as a contribution on my part to the ends of national harmony and I will offer it as an additional service that I owe to God, Our Lord and the nation."

He didn't come to defend himself because he couldn't. What he did was indefensible.

The other big WTF is what he said about the Kirchners. They're "Gramscian Marxists"? Not even close. Ask a real Argentine socialist about that, and prepare to have your head blown off by a gale of laughter.

And how's this for a WTF file, literally? Wikileaks now has a CIA task force dedicated to it. It's called WTF for short. And if that acronym doesn't make you chuckle, maybe this will:

What's interesting is that the WTF is suppose to assess what damage has been done as a result of the Wikileaks disclosures, yet the Department of Defense has already said, "WikiLeaks did not disclose any sensitive intelligence sources or methods, the Department of Defense concluded."

Emphasis added. Linkage as in original.

The only real damage Wikileaks has done, to date, is highlight the emperor's already obvious nudity. Most of us who've been watching the State Dept.'s shenanigans around the globe are yawning over this; it's no news to us.

It's also no surprise that US embassies are full of liars dressed up as diplomats. It's only surprising (and sad) that none of these lying, spying embarrassments have been sent packing by the governments they've been sent to subvert...yet. Except, of course, in Latin America, where Evo kicked Goldilocks out of Bolivia, and Chavecito's not letting the obviously meddlesome Larry Palmer into Venezuela. But then, those diplomatic conflicts were already in progress before Cablegate. And the expulsions would have happened regardless.

Of course, the leaked cables I've seen so far present both of these smart leaders as crazy-ass bad guys for wanting putschist "diplomats" out (and honest ones in their stead). WTF were we expecting? CIA spooks have long had diplomatic cover in Latin America. Philip Agee told us as much nearly 40 years ago. The question is, will anything really change in the aftermath of Cablegate?

And alas, that question is wholly rhetorical.

December 20, 2010

Don Meredith needs a remedial geography lesson

Not to mention remedial history. Canada NEVER went to war in Iraq, much less under "the previous Liberal government", as he asserts here, repeatedly, less than a minute in:

And yes, Mr. Meredith is a Conservative. Obviously a very partisan one, to make such hilarious factual errors. But perhaps that's all understandable. I don't notice his not-so-new-anymore Conservative government making any serious noises about peace...even in Afghanistan. Which he does finally get around to correctly mentioning, after repeated heckling and booing, at about the 1:06 minute mark.

PS: Mr. Meredith is now a senator. This was an election debate from a couple of years back in which he lost to Bob Rae, a Liberal. Mr. Rae has expressed his surprise at this in a tweet:

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Since he couldn't get himself elected to the House over one of those oh-so-blameworthy Libs, Mr. Meredith has now been appointed to the Senate by Harpo. Who, I reiterate, campaigned on a platform opposing this sort of thing. Read what Scott has to say about this.

Meanwhile, our friends to the south are amused/can commiserate:

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Isn't it nice to know you're not the only ones who have ignorant wingnuts in the house...er, senate?

PPS: Some remedial queer studies would also be in order, it seems. Or is that not "faith-based" enough for Harpo's latest Senate pack?

Do we need Wikileaks for this?

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Gawd, I hope not.

The federal government has relented in its refusal to release decades-old intelligence on Canadian political icon Tommy Douglas.

It's now promising to review the file and release additional material by March 31.

The promise follows a closed-door hearing during which a Federal Court judge expressed concern about the continued secrecy surrounding the file compiled by the RCMP on a figure of such historical significance.

Before the promise to provide additional information, the Conservative government had maintained that the release of the Douglas documents could hurt the present-day work of Canada's spy service.

Some of the materials date back more than 70 years.

Douglas, who died in 1986, is widely revered as the father of Canadian medicare. He was premier of Saskatchewan and then the first leader of the federal New Democratic Party.

He was the subject of surveillance for decades, first by the RCMP and later by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, or CSIS.

Declassify everything, unredacted, or someone might have to do it for you, RCMP.

And don't give me that guff about how it's "going to hurt the present-day work" of CSIS. If so little has changed in the spy trade in over 70 years, then the spooks deserve a good kick in the butt for being so far behind the times. I strongly suspect that their methods were illegal and/or unconstitutional, if they still think there is something to hide after all this time. And if they claim this will hurt them here and now, they must still be using those bad methods.

Secrecy and closed doors conceal a multitude of sins, unacceptable in a government that was supposed to have been elected on promises of transparency and accountability. Remember?

All of which is all the more reason to declassify it all, unredacted. No exceptions. If they've truly done nothing wrong in the course of their spyings and pryings into the doings of Tommy Douglas, they should have nothing to hide.

And the government shouldn't balk at holding them accountable, either.

December 19, 2010

Music for a Sunday: Song of the season or sign of the times?

This one's a little bit of both. And hilarious as hell.

Quotable: Richard Rhodes on writing

"If you're afraid you can't write, the answer is to write. Every sentence you construct adds weight to the balance pan. If you're afraid of what other people will think of your efforts, don't show them until you write your way beyond your fear. If writing a book is impossible, write a chapter. If writing a chapter is impossible, write a page. If writing a page is impossible, write a paragraph. If writing a paragraph is impossible, write a sentence. If writing even a sentence is impossible, write a word and teach yourself everything there is to know about that word and then write another, connected word and see where their connection leads."

--Richard Rhodes, author of The Making of the Atomic Bomb

December 18, 2010

Wankers of the Week: The geese are getting fat

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"Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat; please put a penny in the old man's hat." Unless of course he looks like the one in the 'toon...in which case, you may want to spare the penny, chop off his head and roast him instead.

Just one week to go until Xmas. Then it's on to another tryptophan binge for me. Whoopee! But do you know what's even fatter than the turkeys and geese? The wankitude. It's so fucking huge, you can't miss it. And here's who's got it oozing out their greasy pores this week:

1. John Fucking Boehner. It's not a question of whether men can cry, or whether it's okay for them to do so. It's a question of whether men can manipulate others with their tears and whether it is okay for them to do so. Clearly the answer is yes with Lesley Fucking Stahl, but I just wanna slap the selfish, self-pitying fucker straight into next week. Just imagine what the media would say if a progressive woman in politics did what he constantly, shamelessly does! His tears have nothing to do with anyone other than himself. And if he can't get hold of himself, he has no business being in charge of a pop stand, never mind the US house of reps.

2. Christopher Fucking Hitchens. Henry Fucking Kissinger is an easy target to take bitch-slaps at--especially if, like Hitch, you are actually his ideological offspring, desperately seeking to deflect responsibility for your own utter wrongness on a lot of rather important global issues. Neo-cons (and Hitch IS one, make no mistake) owe much to this old warmonger. Hitch, in fact, owes his entire loathsome career as a professional toady-cum-character-assassin to him, since he couldn't have kept himself in gin without taking lessons (and payola) from the ratfuckers who are the fruit of ol' Henry's toxic loins. Shouldn't he be bowing and scraping to him, instead? PS: Jymn has some additional good points about Hitch's breathtaking silence on the subject of Richard Fucking Nixon. Why does Nixon get a free pass for antisemitism while his Jewish lackey gets all the bile? Better watch your glass house, there, Hitch, we can see YOUR antisemitism right through it.

3. Lawrence Fucking Cannon. Between this irony-impaired wanker and the Paliness, Haiti seems destined to stagger under the slings and arrows of outrage forever. Not natural disasters, but human asininity, will end up bringing that poor country to its knees. Larry, instead of wasting your breath lecturing Haitians on democracy, why not look in the mirror and admit that our own is not exactly the best example? Oh, I get it...leading by example is not your forte. Carrot-and-stick bullying is. Explains a lot!

4. and 5. Ben Fucking Brown and Richard Fucking Littlejohn. Blaming a wheelchair-bound man with cerebral palsy for the brutality of cops specifically trained and ordered to smash heads during protests? That may draw eyes to your TV respective channel and newspaper, but it's also a terrific way to get yourselves regarded as nothing but idiotic, opportunistic dickheads. Pick on someone who can fight back, you cowardly fucking bullies.

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6. Wesley Fucking Scroggins. Who would say that a book about teenage date rape (with explicit descriptions of the crime) is "soft pornography"? A filthy, slimy pervert who secretly masturbates to just such awfulness, that's who. I am sure that this one's bid to have the book banned is just a way of adding to the illicit frisson he already gets out of it. And I shudder to think what his idea of HARD pornography is, if adolescent rape is "soft".

7. Dean Fucking Del Mastro. To stop him is to stop Harpo. Canadian readers, please sign the petition.

8. Sepp Fucking Blatter. Why did FIFA decide to hold the next World Cup in Doha, Qatar? Can anyone explain? Last time I looked, prohibitions on alcohol and Teh Ghey are NOT examples of a world with "no boundaries".

9. Les Fucking Kinsolving. Maybe, if you didn't keep whining "Where's the birth certificate?", you wouldn't be whining "Where's my White House Christmas party invite?" now, you fucking racist tool.

10. Ann Fucking Coulter. Oh yay, I was wondering when this irrelevant vampire would rise from her dusty coffin again. The Moon must have been in eclipse, because she's crapped out yet another classic Coultergeist attack on free speech. She even finds a way to work her chronic, corrosive racism into the pile-on against Wikileaks. And, by damn, it's a labyrinthine screed--can you make sense of it? I can't. See? Vintage Coultergeist! Way to go, Ann, I didn't think you had it in you anymore. Guess you found another virgin to drain of blood, so you did get an energy boost after all. Now, where'd I put my sharpened stake...? Oh yeah, here it is: YOU'RE NOT A FUCKING JOURNALIST YOURSELF, ANN! YOU ARE NOTHING BUT AN UNDEAD HACK WHO NEVER HAD AN INFORMED OPINION IN HER GODFORSAKEN LIFE. AND WE KNOW ALL ABOUT YOUR BULK-BOUGHT "BESTSELLERS". (There, that oughta do it...)

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11. Rush Fucking Limbaugh. Wonder why this feminist isn't joining the self-righteous stampede to vilify Julian Assange...or Michael Moore? It's a no-brainer: If the Pigman is doing it, you as a self-respecting progressive should NOT. This is the same asshat who refers to us as "feminazis" on a regular basis, after all. And his pretending to be a friend of rape victims is the ultimate in male-chauvinist cynicism. For all we know, Rush the Pigman could be a serial rapist himself. He certainly talks like one.

12. John Fucking Ivison. Lord knows I'm no fan of Iggy the Boyar, mainly because there's not much separation between him and Harpo on a lot of issues--but could you please leave women's shapely curves out of your diatribes, con-tard boys? Or would that just make it too politically correct...or just plain not interesting to read (as if it were interesting even WITH the sexism)?

13. The Fucking Union Bank of Switzerland. Anal-retentive much?

14. Charles Fucking McVety. A band of mariachi cockroaches is playing the world's smallest instruments for your pity party, Sir Homophobe. If you want to know what the heavy hand of censorship really feels like, try being gay in a world run by fundie preacher-men.

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15. Bill Fucking Sammon. FUX Snoozers told to distort the news? Color me so shocked. Surely this has nothing to do with the rash of stories this week on professional "libertarian" trolls being sent to dumb down the Internets, and how FUX Snooze makes you, well, Teh Stoopid. Surely just a malign coinkydink!

16. Terrence Fucking Lakin. How to be a wanker, in 3 easy steps: Be a Birther, in the US Army; refuse a direct order to deploy overseas. Invite your own court-martial to force the issue of a fucking birth certificate into the public eye. Then, when tried and found guilty of dereliction of duty, whine that you should still be allowed to serve, and that being a Birther is no impediment, even though it's supposedly the reason you refused a direct order to ship out when the army needs doctors to look after the war casualties. Yes, really--this guy tried all that. Yes, it IS nuts. Isn't mental stability still a requirement for the job?

17. Julia Fucking Gillard. If Wikileaks didn't break any laws, then why did the Australian government join the pile-on against Julian Assange? Oh, I see...someone is still the empire's prison bitch. And her party is now suffering in the polls for it.

18. Conrad Fucking Black. Oh, look who lost his appeal but isn't giving up! Making a federal case of it, and hoping the conservatard-packed SCOTUS will free him. Must be nice to have all those unearned (read: swindled) millions to be able to do it. But by the time they get around to it, Lord Ha-Ha's prison term could be just about up. Wouldn't that be a hoot? Meanwhile, millions of Yanks are still languishing for far lesser offences; they aren't white OR rich, so they're stuck. Do you think he could help THEM out? Nah. Too busy pitying his arrogant, asinine self.

19. and 20. Anibal Fucking Cavaco Silva and Trinidad Fucking Jiménez. Yeah, Chavecito is "crazy"...so crazy that he managed to prevent Venezuela getting swept up in the global economic crisis that's now eating Portugal and Spain (the respective homelands of these two undiplomatic wankers) alive. Don't you wish your leaders were hot like him?

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21. The Fucking Ontario Minor Hockey Association. They must think racism is okay. Why else would they penalize a coach who wouldn't stand for it, and protested peacefully, when one of his players was called a nigger? What a fucking disgrace the OMHA is.

22. Mel Fucking Gibson. Calling Winona Ryder, who is Jewish, an "oven dodger"? Looks like his more recent antisemitic outbursts have a long history. Looks like those who still defend him as "basically good" now have a lot more 'splainin' to do. I wonder why Winona took so long to talk about it. Fear? Incomprehension? Reluctance to offend the Hollywood power machine? All distinct possibilities. Anyhow: Good on you, Winona, for speaking out--and fuck you once more, Mad Mel, you crazed evil fascist swinebag.

23. Dick Fucking Cheney. The Big Dick is back, and has bought his way out of prosecution to the tune of a $250 million (US) slap on the wrist. No doubt it's chickenfeed compared to what Halliburton pocketed in the wake of Gulf War II.

24. Sarah Fucking Palin. Have I mentioned her yet? No? Well, consider this it, then. She'd "never shoot an animal for fur or fashion", but she WOULD shoot one for show and cruelty. And of course, there's that bearskin rug behind her. Given that she's actually a lousy shot, I'm sure she's not the one who bagged it. The layers of hypocrisy and stupidity on this bimbo are infinite. PS: I doubt very much that she ate that caribou, either. PPS: Ow! Sucks to be you, Sarah!

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25. Brent Fucking Bozell. If you're gonna slag the so-called "liberal" media for supposedly "taking the Christ out of Christmas", maybe you should give some equal time to FUX Snooze, which does the exact same thing. You know, to be Fair and Balanced™? Oh wait, you're ON there. Of course you're not going to bite the hand that feeds your miserable, wretched excuse for a media watchdog centre. And of course you're going to go on banking on the fact that FUX Snooze viewers are the dumbest heaps of dogshit in the land, so that's why they won't question why it's just as absent from THEIR channel of choice as it is from all the others!

26. All the fucking banksters attacking Wikileaks. Surely not because someone there has access to all their dirty little secrets? Stay classy, banksters.

27. Rob Fucking Ford. Being sued for libel when you really DID libel someone is not a SLAPP suit. But thanks for showing, yet again, that your chutzpah knows no bounds.

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28. The entire fucking Harpocracy squatting in Ottawa. Bad enough that our spooks are incompetent torture lovers who lick Yankee boots like they're made of ice cream. Do they really deserve a Taj Mahal sports complex for THAT? Oh, I see what you did there. This is part of that manly-manification of our wimpy widdle nation, is it? A waste of tax dollars we shouldn't be paying to the likes of you, is what it is.

29. Tim Fucking Hudak (and his fucking Ontario SupposiTories). Soft on guns and softer on crime, that's Tim the Recycled Harrisite.

30. The Fucking Grauniad. Way to go, idiots, you totally fell for the State Dept.'s crapaganda. Not only was Michael Moore's movie, Sicko, NOT banned in Cuba, it was widely shown in local theatres AND on Cuban TV months before the CIA's man in Havana squatted down and just made shit up--as is usual for the CIA's man in just about any foreign "station" you care to name. In fact, the Cuban health system works just as depicted in the documentary, and is the island's pride--along with its stellar educational system, which enables it to graduate medical doctors not only from Cuba, but all over the Americas. That's why the Cuban government lost no time disseminating the film as widely as it could; it was a potent reminder to Cubans not to trust what the US government says about them. It was also rightly popular with the Cuban people, who certainly do not consider the hospital seen in the movie to be "mythical", or even the exception to the rule. As Moore himself points out, the last time the State Dept. was this reliant on utter bullshit, Team America World Police was getting its counterrevolutionary ass kicked all over the Bay of Pigs. Would it hurt the Grauniad to make a phone call or two to Havana? Are they so strapped for cash that they've fired all their fact-checkers? They have Lexis/Nexis at their disposal; would it kill them to actually sit down and USE it? Would it hurt them to print a real retraction of their blatant nonsense, either? Because that snotty little appendage they tacked to the bottom of their embarrassingly dumb hit-piece isn't cutting it.

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And finally, to Kate Fucking McMillan.* It only took her five years to finally discover that I existed, and to send her flying monkeys out to "scratch" me. And what did I get? BORED. Aren't there supposed to be more clowns inside those silly little cars? Guess the recession is hitting the wingnuts hard, too. They can only afford a broken-down third-hand Harley with a rickety sidecar these days. Poor things.

I was very gentle with the ass-kicking, all things considered, but they haven't been back to challenge me on a single point of my refutation; that's how butthurt these 'winger winos get when confronted with real facts. But then, what do you expect of flying monkeys who operate on behalf of the Wingnut Wench of the West? When Dorothy (uh, that would be me) dumped cold water on their mistress and she melted down to a steaming frizzle on the floor, it didn't take much to vanquish them!

Poor unloved Kate, I feel sorry for you. Is your popularity down so far that this is the best you could do? Are you jealous that I won the Ruby Slippers this year and you did not? For someone so inordinately proud of her legion of brainwashed minions, you fail so hard. Better work on the quality of your blog, so you won't have to resort to those tired old ugly bitch tactics.

And speaking of tired old ugly bitch tactics: why are you not here to "debate" me yourself, if you think you know so much better than I do what's going on in Venezuela? Buk buk buk b'kawww, Katie dear. Since the Mariachi Cockroaches are already playing for the pity-party for your soulmate Chuck, I could only spare one lonely trombonist for you...

Good night, and get fucked!

*No, I'm not linking to her shitty blog or her smack-talk about me. You wanna see it, google it.

December 17, 2010

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Simón Bolívar approves

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Chavecito and neighbor-president Santos shake hands under the watchful eyes of the Liberator of their two countries (and three more). This is the 180th anniversary of Bolívar's death, so it's a snapshot with added significance. Bolívar's dream was of an independent, united "Gran Colombia" (the region roughly spanning modern Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador.) Treachery and infighting between Bolivarian forces ended up dividing the nations, a conflict that still has echoes to this day. Sadly, it was a Colombian general, Santander, who bears the blame for that.

But positive change is happening, and for that, thank Chavecito. Trade and diplomatic relations are moving rather nicely between Venezuela and Colombia today. And yes, it means Chavecito has won; remember, he's the one who broke the relations off in the first place, in solidarity with Ecuador; it was a diplomatic and economic blockade. Santos has caved; considering what a major trading partner Colombia has in Venezuela, it's not hard to see why. Chavecito's friendly gesture of sending the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra to Colombia is the icing on a very sweet cake.

Meanwhile, the presidents of Argentina and Uruguay have called for Venezuela's full inclusion in the South American common market, Mercosur. And the people of the Bolivarian nations take more pride in their democracy than those allied with the US, too. And with that, we can definitely say Gringolandia's efforts to drive wedges have failed.

Bolívar vive, la lucha sigue. Bolívar lives, the struggle goes on.

December 15, 2010

Short 'n' Stubby: The Wiki, she just keeps on leakin'...

Good evening! I've given the stump-tailed cyber-mascot a break from the head of the post, so that I can bring you other things germane to the Wikileaks issue. Case in point: The video above. Watch it, I command you.

And when you're done that, Ms. Manx, who has been busily operating the telegraph in the background, would like to draw your attention to the following. Ptttttteeeep eeep eeeep...

Ms. Manx thinks it's a crying shame that Wikileaks is not the newsmaker for the year at Time when it's just such an obvious no-brainer. ("Mark Zuckerberg?" she says, with a snort of disbelief.) She's not so fussed on Julian Assange; her real newsmaker is Bradley Manning, who is believed to have supplied all that incriminating material that Assange is now being persecuted for publishing. And Glenn Greenwald has broken a huge story on him. Credible sources say that Manning is being mentally tortured in custody pending trial, without charges as yet. FREE BRADLEY MANNING, cries the Manx.

Fidel Castro's take is that Wikileaks "has brought the empire to its knees." Ms. Manx nods sagely and says that sounds about right. Which is why this rape charge smells less like a prosecution than a persecution. (Embarrassing Cablegate revelations that the US is full of shit about the nuclear doings of Venezuela and Iran don't help them much, either.)

And if you don't believe the Manx, Naomi Wolf has some good points to make--namely, that this so-called rape charge trivializes all rape cases, and will end up ultimately hurting women. Writes Wolf: "Here is what I mean: men are pretty much never treated the way Assange is being treated in the face of sex crime charges." Further to what she previously wrote, which was widely criticized--and falsely--as mocking rape, Wolf knows from personal experience that the average accused rapist does NOT have Interpol on his tail, even if he flees the country. For most men who do that, it means the end of all charges against them. Not a massive and showy global manhunt. Wolf's closing lines are excellent, and have the wholehearted approval of the Manx:

Anyone who works in supporting women who have been raped knows from this grossly disproportionate response that Britain and Sweden, surely under pressure from the US, are cynically using the serious issue of rape as a fig leaf to cover the shameful issue of mafioso-like global collusion in silencing dissent. That is not the State embracing feminism. That is the State pimping feminism.

And on a related note, one of Assange's Swedish attorneys says the police record may actually clear Assange.

Meanwhile, Amy Goodman notes that character assassination has been going on nonstop since those weak charges were miraculously resurrected, just in time for Cablegate. She notes, in particular, the real feminist angle to all this...which may surprise some of you:

Since the principal, public reason for Assange's arrest relates to questions about potential sexual crimes in Sweden, Katrin Axelsson, from the group Women Against Rape, wrote in a letter to the British newspaper The Guardian: "Many women in both Sweden and Britain will wonder at the unusual zeal with which Julian Assange is being pursued for rape allegations. .... Women don't take kindly to our demand for safety being misused, while rape continues to be neglected at best or protected at worst."

(Ms. Manx just let out a meow that sounded remarkably like "BINGO!")

And speaking of character assassination: Stay classy, Jezebel. Whatever happened to presumptions of innocence, anyway? Or is it not character assassination when self-proclaimed feminist websites do it? If we're going to be fighting against double standards that work to the invariable disadvantage of women, shouldn't we practice what we preach, ladies, and keep our tits out of the rumor mill? You're all acting as if you already knew Assange to be a date-rapist extraordinaire, based on a skanky dating website profile that may or may not be his. Ms. Manx looks down her nose at you, and remarks that she thought summer was the silly season for news.

Finally, Ms. Manx says (with scratchy tongue planted firmly in furry cheek) that if we're going to deal in weird rumors regarding Wikileaks, someone should fact-check and see if this Cablegate RickRoll is real. (This weird architectural item has already published a mini-retraction at the bottom of its page. No, Wikileaks is NOT living in a Cold War-era bunker in Sweden. Sorry.)

December 13, 2010

Once again, HarpoCons embarrass Canada internationally

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...only this time, they've gone and done it in Venezuela:

While many on the left know that Washington has spent tens of millions of dollars funding groups that oppose Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, less well known is Ottawa's role, especially that of the Canadian government's "arms-length" human rights organization, Rights & Democracy (R&D).

Montreal-based R&D recently gave its 2010 John Humphrey Award to the Venezuelan non-governmental organization PROVEA (El Programa Venezolano de Educacion-Accion en Derechos Humanos). According to R&D's website, "The Award consists of a grant of $30,000 and a [just completed] speaking tour of Canadian cities to help increase awareness of the recipient's human rights work."

PROVEA is highly critical of Venezuela's elected government. In December 2008 Venezuela's interior and justice minister called PROVEA "liars" who were "paid in [US] dollars."

During a September visit "to meet with representatives of PROVEA and other [Venezuelan] organizations devoted to human rights and democratic development" R&D President, Gérard Latulippe, blogged about his and PROVEA's political views. "Marino [Betancourt, Director General of PROVEA] told me about recent practices of harassment and criminalization of the government towards civil society organizations." In another post Latulippe explained, "We have witnessed in recent years the restriction of the right to freedom of expression. Since 2004-2005, the government of President Chavez has taken important legislative measures which limit this right."

Upon returning to Canada, Latulippe cited Venezuela as a country with "no democracy". He told Embassy magazine, "You can see the emergence of a new model of democracy, where in fact it's trying to make an alternative to democracy by saying people can have a better life even if there's no democracy. You have the example of Russia. You have an example of Venezuela."

Venezuelanalysis goes on to refute Latulippe's nonsense rather nicely; go there and read it for yourself if you're so inclined. Since they've already taken on the task, I'm not going to duplicate their work.

Meanwhile, those of us up here who've been following Harpocracy's shenanigans are doing our accustomed, dreary facepalm. You see, we know all about what the government has done to this so-called "arms'-length" organization. They've politicized it utterly to suit their con-tard view of the world. They've gutted it of all voices critical of Israel, and the stress of the scandal killed Rémy Beauregard, who used to head it up (and who opposed what Harpo & Co. were trying to do to it.) There have been several high-profile resignations, too, by members R & D could ill afford to lose. As a result of all this, R & D has gone from unremarkable and respectable to fractious and conspicuously neo-con, with an ugly dominionist-Christian fug on top of all the Zionist miasma.

So no, I'm not surprised in the least that they are the "arm's-length" bludgeon Harpo & Co. were going to use to club Venezuela, which IS democratic, more so in fact than we are...and which just happens to vote overwhelmingly in favor of non-conservative candidates, when all's said. Harpo is doing his damnedest to turn this country and all its institutions into cheap, shoddy copies of all the shit we see going on below the 49th Parallel. So of course he's going to copy their stance on Venezuela, too.

Venezuela has done what we haven't: rewritten its own constitution (and amended it) democratically, using assemblies of candidates elected by the people. It has freed itself from an old imperial power (Spain) and is in the process of decoupling from a newer one (the US). It has made all healthcare, including eye and dental coverage, free to citizens, whereas we've been backsliding into stealth privatization and those odious "public-private partnerships", which have benefited no one but the private sector, while sucking up ever larger sums of our public money. They have 100% literacy, thanks to Fidel Castro; we don't, thanks to a prevalent mindset that considers cutting teacher salaries and squandering the "savings" on standardized testing to be the "solution" to our schoolkids' poor performances. Their citizens make constant reference to their constitution; do many of us even know what ours says? Venezuela has been giving power to its people, while Harpo & Co. have been sneakily taking it away from us. So of course, Venezuela is a "tyranny"--it's the tyranny of a good example that they don't want us following. Chavecito walks in the footsteps of Simón Bolívar; what if Canada walked in the footsteps of Venezuela, or at least Tommy Douglas?

And of course, Harpo and his Cons are too cowardly to bring up the matter of Venezuela and its tyranny-of-a-good-example themselves. So naturally they're going to send The Tulip down on behalf of their little rejiggered Mulroney-era quango to talk to the discredited oppos, who are only too happy to feed him all kinds of bogus horror stories. Of course The Tulip is going to give them our taxpayer dollars, USAID-style, to help them plot their little putsches. And then, naturally, The Tulip is going to dutifully come back and talk smack about Chavecito here! What else WOULD they all do?

This entire fuckery was as boringly predictable as an old soap opera plot. But damn, it sure makes me hang my head when I'm on the tweeter, talking to friends in Venezuela. I still love my country, but I hate this insane, antidemocratic government. It makes me ashamed to be Canadian, and that's something I never thought would happen in my lifetime.

Guess I'm gonna be flying that upside-down flag of distress a lot here from now on.

December 12, 2010

Unforgettable footage of a shuttle launch

Different views from over 100 cameras tracking the launch of the space shuttle Discovery. The commentary explains exactly what's going on; the detail of the footage is incredible. Beautiful lighting, courtesy of a flawless early-evening spring sky, makes the whole thing breathtaking.

In a nutshell, THIS is why publicly funded science programs are the coolest things on this planet. I dare all you anti-science wingnuts out there to call THIS a waste of tax dollars.

Music for a Sunday: This one's just for John Boehner

I don't know why the perma-tanned Repug leader of the US House of Representatives is always bawling his eyes out. Every time he talks, whoosh--on go the waterworks, for no apparent reason. That's why this song seems tailor made for dedicating to him:

He's probably old enough to remember when the original, by The Kinks, charted, too. Isn't he old enough to stop being such a big bloody baby?

Los Canadienses: Canadians in the Spanish Civil War

I'd been looking for this NFB documentary for a couple of years now, ever since I picked up a used copy of Dorothy Livesay's book, Right Hand Left Hand, in which the great Canadian poet chronicles what life was like for her as a leftist woman during the Dirty Thirties. This documentary is mentioned in it. As yet, the NFB has not made it available for purchase on its website. I wish it would, as this film is a window onto a largely forgotten piece of our history. It was made in 1976, the year Franco died and Spain returned to democratic rule. By then, nearly 40 years had passed since the Spanish Civil War.

One of the questions that affected the Canadian left most during that time, as Livesay noted, was the tension between the causes of peace and antifascism. When Spain's democratic, leftist republican government was attacked by Franco's forces, the question was resolved for many in favor of antifascism. More than a thousand Canadians enlisted in the International Brigades. At first, they joined the US-based Abraham Lincoln and George Washington Brigades. Eventually, they formed their own--the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion. Many never came home; those who did were either ignored by the general public or persecuted by anticommunist fanatics.

Ironically, Canada's government, like Britain's and that of the United States, paid pious lip service to democracy while letting the fascists of Europe run roughshod over it. It was illegal for Canadians to fight in the International Brigades, but not to give aid and comfort to the Franco-fascists.

Three Snarls of a Disgusted Colonial


I

Freedom, in Spain, exhaled a groan.
Her champion, England, scribbling notes,
Refused as yet to throw a stone,
And only held the stoners' coats.

II

O Ananias! what a waste!
Iscariot too! such gifts misplaced!
For, living now, you'd both be set
To shine in Britain's cabinet.

III

Let Britain's leaders, if they choose,
Be cushions for Benito's hips,
And lick the heels of Adolf's shoes:
But damn them! must they smack their lips!

--Lorne Mackay, in The Canadian Forum

Meanwhile, the lack of aid and comfort to the more than one-fifth of Canadian adults who were unemployed, was glaring. It was also galvanizing.

The Depression had hit western Canada particularly hard--the very Prairies where so many immigrants had been shuttled off to settle and work the land had gone from being the nation's breadbasket to being on its bread line. The average unemployment rate in Canada was 22%; it was higher in the west. Drought and poverty forced men to ride the rails, and set immigrant workers at each other's throats. Ethnic slurs proliferated; anglocentrism revealed its rotten core. Only the left offered an alternative, one which set oppressed Canadians en masse against the federal government, and would later unify the diverse groups in the International Brigades in Spain. Dorothy Livesay notes:

Amongst the deprived, the effect on the single unemployed men was electric. They read of the international brigades that were forming, rallying volunteers to save the Spanish republic from fascism. Although it was illegal for a Canadian to serve in a foreign cause, 1200 young men and some young women managed to get visas to France and from there joined a freedom trek across the Alps. But in Quebec the reverse happened: the Catholic church called for volunteers to aid Franco, and got them.

Apparently, Franco was not a foreign cause for French Canadians, any more than fighting England's wars had been for Canadians during the Great War and the Boer War had been for their anglophone counterparts. The hypocrisy was blatant, but it was taboo for the mainstream newspapers to talk about it. Smug blindness to the Spanish republican cause was the rule of the day.

A combination of dire poverty, disillusionment, and idealism meant no shortage of commitment among the internationalist volunteers. But the forces of the left were poorly armed, with obsolete weapons. Worse, they had more ideological divisions amongst themselves than their fascist enemies did, and seemed more determined to eliminate each other than wipe out their common foes. A poorly timed separatist movement in Catalonia, along with indiscriminate purging of "enemies within", decimated what should have been a unified republican battle front. Franco's fascists, backed by Hitler's newly formed air force and that of Mussolini, had easy pickings.

Battle Hymn for the Spanish Rebels

The Church's one foundation
Is now the Moslem sword,
In meek collaboration
With flame and axe and cord;
Deep-winged with holy love
The battle-planes of Wotan,
The bombing-planes of Jove.

--Lorne Mackay, in The Canadian Forum

Wrote the Canadian novelist, Morley Callaghan, a progressive Catholic who condemned his church's support for the fascists: "Men often find it necessary to wear strange masks to support unholy causes. The spectacle of devout foreign legion thugs and pious, infidel Moors, ancient enemies of the Christian Spanish people marching to the tune of Onward Christian Soldiers leaves me very cold indeed."

Solidarity from abroad became crucial for the Spanish republican forces to survive. Canadian aid led to medical innovation, as Dr. Norman Bethune set up the world's first mobile blood transfusion service, with funding and supplies sent by the Collective Co-Operative Commonwealth Federation (the forerunner of the modern New Democratic Party). The International Brigades were soon to follow. They went disguised as simple tourists. But since Canadian passports were not valid for travel to Spain (the government, aware of the pro-republican sentiments brewing, had made all travel to Spain illegal), the volunteer soldiers had to sneak in across the closed French border. They received a hero's welcome, and later distinguished themselves in the battle for Madrid, holding it for the republicans until the very end of the war.

Red Moon

And this same pallid moon tonight
Which rides so quiet--clear and high--
The mirror of our pale and troubled gaze,
Raised to a cool, Canadian sky,
Above the shattered Spanish mountain tops
Last night rose low and wild and red,
Reflecting back from her illumined shield
The blood-bespattered faces of the dead.
To that pale moon I raise my angry fist,
And to those nameless dead my vows renew:
Comrades who fall in angry loneliness,
Who die for us--I will remember you.

--Dr. Norman Bethune

There would be many more falling "in angry loneliness" than there would be comrades to raise their fists to the moon in memory.

The volunteers were, in most cases, absolutely raw recruits, lacking all military training. Many had come from pacifist backgrounds; they had never held a gun in their lives. Their idealism was the one thing that pulled them through; they made up in political conviction what they lacked in soldiering experience. They learned quickly; their survival skills as out-of-work laborers provided the necessary physical and mental hardihood for them to become one of the best fighting forces on the republican side. Unlike the intellectuals of the local brigades, who were unused to roughing it, the Canadians needed little hardening. They already had it in them thanks to the struggles they had faced at home.

from The Censored Editor

Who can say
Our sons must die?
Who can say why?

Some say for bread
we gave these dead
Dust is their bread

--Kenneth Leslie, in New Frontier

From a dustbowl they came; in a dustbowl many died; to a dustbowl the few survivors would return.

Despite some brilliant guerrilla tactics (such as stealing rifles and ammunition from the fascists, a trick that would also be used to great success twenty years later by Fidel Castro's revolutionary guerrillas in Cuba), and a heroic last push that set Franco's forces back 25 miles, in the end the International Brigades were defeated. The survivors made their way home, where a suspicious Canadian government quarantined them on the trains from Montréal to Toronto. Yet everywhere the trains stopped, bands of admiring supporters turned up on the platforms, shouting encouragement to the returned soldiers, wishing them well, thanking them for their sacrifices.

from The Censored Editor

You ask me why
Our sons must die
This then, is why:

To stand up straight
In the narrow gate,
Once to stand straight.

Is that all, then,
Once to be men?
That is all, then!

--Kenneth Leslie

The returning Mac-Paps were easily recognizable, even in civvies. They were painfully thin and had that haunted look that so many recently demobilized soldiers get when the violence of yesterday is still fresh in their minds. Some were disabled and clearly had their fighting days behind them. Others practically stepped out of one war and straight into another as World War II broke out, enlisting in the Canadian armed forces in order to fight another band of fascists, one that had given Franco his victory in Spain--Hitler's Nazis.

But the irony of a ringing call to fight for democracy was lost on the Canadian government, which had forbidden the first real pro-democracy fighting forces from striking out for Spain when fascism drew first blood. The Mac-Paps were barely remembered, except among their own, until quite recently. Today they are recognized, though they are still much overshadowed by those who fought in the two world wars. Real honor has been too long coming.

Consider this post a little effort toward setting that record straight.

December 11, 2010

Wankers of the Week: More Wikiwanks, plus a Santa sack of mixed nuts

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Whee! Two whole weeks of Wikileaks. How's everyone liking the insights into the corporate diplomatic spookospheric complex? And just think, this is only the tip of a very large iceberg. With only about 0.5% of the total of Cablegate currently released, things could soon get a whole lot more interesting, in the Chinese-curse sense of the word, for some people. These ones, meanwhile, didn't all need Julian Assange to lay their butts bare to the world at large; their wanks are manifestly obvious:

1. Bristol Fucking Palin. Or whoever ghostwrites for her (and probably, her mother.) Attacking Margaret Cho for merely reporting the obvious is pretty damn low. But doing it on the grounds of sexual orientation, when Cho is a well-known bisexual? That sucks even more than Bristol's lacklustre dancing. But the fun part is that it obviously wasn't Bristol that even wrote that stupid shit about "commonsense conservatism" (an oxymoron if ever there was one). Bristol is barely literate; she can hardly string together a single sentence, even one that makes as little sense as this choice bit of run-on homophobia: "You say you 'don't agree with the family's politics at all' but I say, if you understood that commonsense conservative values supports the right of individuals like you, like all of us, to live our lives with less government interference and more independence, you would embrace us faster than KD Lang at an Indigo Girls concert."

2. Rush Fucking Limbaugh. Still on about the fucking Obama birth certificate that was produced long ago. And here's the really rich part: the Pigman is disappointed that Wikileaks didn't have it! As though it were some kind of state secret. It's not. Especially not in the state of Hawaii. How much OxyContin does one have to guzzle to be unable to accept something so simple--and obvious?

3. Kenneth Fucking Kimbley. Yet another fucking racist psychopath who was "inspired" to try terrorism by Glenn Fucking Beck. There is a running tally of these, BTW; so far, it's up to at least three. How much longer is THIS bullshit going to go on? When will Biff finally be arrested alongside his loyal, treasonous devotees?

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4. Sarah Fucking Palin. Surprise! She's not a real hunter after all. Well, okay, so you're not surprised. Neither'm I. Mainly because we know she's phony, from the top of her ratted head to the soles of her salon-tanned feet. She was never a real feminist, never a real mayor, never a real governor, never had a real chance of becoming VP (especially since her running mate was not, in fact, a real US citizen by birth, but a Panama Canal Zonian). And now, as she guns for the presidency, she's once again projecting a false image--this time of a subsistence hunter, one who's paying obscene sums of money to pretend she's puttin' food on her family. At this rate, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that her much-speculated-on boobs were fake, too.

5. Tom Fucking Flanagan. See, I told you death threats were illegal here, Mr. Manly-Man. So is shit like this.

6. Don Fucking Cherry. Speaking of manly-men, get a load of what the loudest-ever mouth on TV wore to the swearing-in of the loudest-ever mouth (yes, including Mel Lastman) to be elected mayor of Toronto. No, that's not the wank. The wank is why he wore it, and what he said while wearing it. Fine words coming from someone whose salary (hefty) is paid exclusively by the Canadian taxpayer. Ahem, that's us "pinkos" and "left-wing kooks", Don. We're the Canadian majority, in case you hadn't heard. (Remove head from ass, ol' man--then you wouldn't have to yell so much, either.) You wanna talk about us "pinkos", "scraping the bottom of the barrel", Don? Maybe, if you rode a bike to work, you wouldn't have to buy so much fabric for your gaudy jackets. Some part of you besides your talk might actually get tough. And maybe then we wouldn't keep mistaking you for an overstuffed sofa that had learned to shoot off its mouth and be utterly wrong, at the top of its crotchety lungs, about virtually everything--including hockey, which those European guys you so love to hate actually know how to play.

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Pinko buttons courtesy of Spacing. I'm gettin' me one of each. 'Cause I'm a left-wing, bike-riding pinko.

7. Luke Fucking Scott. Um, are we supposed to take seriously a Birther's pronouncements on everything from deer hunting, to Maryland's alleged importation of coyotes (!), to Venezuela's supposed gun-crime problem (too many people getting shot in the streets with machine guns, but that's because there are NOT ENOUGH GUNS IN THE STREETS?) He can't even get straight his own president's country of origin (Hawaii), so pardon me if I laugh like a fuckin' hyena and say yeah, I can see how so many jocks (especially wingnuts like him and #6) come by that "dumb" image. Some of 'em come by it all too honestly, I can see that. Anyone who mistakes socialism for communism for gun-grabbing for gun-crime in the streets is not to be trusted in any profession requiring mental exertion; he'd fry the only two neurons he's got. And if he ran for office, he wouldn't be "loved and hated"; he'd just plain lose. Let's hope for his own good that he sticks to baseball. And if he starts running his mouth ever again, someone please just stick a wad of chawin' tobaccy in there.

8. Charles Fucking Krauthammer. Obviously, the hammer that hit the Kraut was one of utter ideological blindness and high partisan stupidity. We all know that if John McCain had become president and done what Barack Obama did this week, Charlie would be falling all over himself to praise the wisdom of it, the Repugnican party, and the Amurrican Sheeple.

9. The Fucking Vatican. Surprise! Cablegate reveals it to be Cover-Up Central of the Catholic church's sex scandals. Apparently it also expects the government of Ireland to kowtow to it as a not-so-benevolent overlord. We already pretty well figured as much, but it's always nice to have hard-wire confirmation of just how sick and perverted the uppermost ranks of the ecclesiastical hierarchy really are.

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10. Fucking Pfizer. The world's leading manufacturer of boner pills apparently fancies itself an overlord as well...in Nigeria. Where it's been using local people as guinea pigs for a drug trial gone very, VERY wrong. And NOT wanting to pay compensation to the locals. Because, you know, niggruhs.

11. Alex Fucking Jones. A sane person would be worried about Glenn Fucking Beck sounding like him. Alex, for one, welcomes his new chalkboard cheeseball overlord.

12. Bernie Fucking Goldberg. He wants "a big bronze and granite monument" to honor his Wall Street corporatist overlords. What a great idea! Can I get the commission? I've already built a maquette:

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The plinth will be a nice, solid block of black granite, to represent the bedrock of the global economy. This, in bronze, will squat on top of it. There will be thousands of tiny brass flies crawling all over it, to represent the faithful presstitutes, like Bernie, who copy and paste the corporate news in a fair and balanced manner. Notice that there's a finger pointing skyward in there? Represents how in crapitalism, the sky's the limit. It will simply stink to high heaven soar when it's completed. Isn't it exciting?

13. The Phucking Phelps KKKlan. Yup, they're pissing on corpses again. This time the target of their vileness is the late Elizabeth Edwards, who took so much shit in the latter years of her life between bouts with cancer and her husband's shameful extramarital antics. Speaking of shame, shouldn't Fred Phelps get some? Or, if he's too old and senile, can someone at least knock some into his ungodly progeny? This crap has nothing to do with freedom of speech; it's just plain cruel and inhuman.

14. Fucking TIME Magazine. "Palin" and "progress" are two words that should NEVER be juxtaposed, unless you're striving for irony, because those are two terms that cancel each other out. And an e-mail "interview"? Srsly? How do they know they didn't get the twit who ghostwrites the Paliness's Facebook page? They don't, of course. They really don't know a whole lot of anything. But then, we already knew that.

15. Charles Fucking Ford. His cartoonish portrait of ousted Honduran president Manuel Zelaya takes some poetic licence, to say the least. Having seen enough videos of the latter in action (including footage of him holed up in the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigolpe, where he was shown in excellent spirits, playing guitar and singing "Happy Birthday" to a supporter) to know that he is anything but erratic, capricious, dictatorial and friendless, I wipe my posterior with Ford's "impressions". Just another fine example, courtesy of Cablegate, of how little real intelligence exists in US "intelligence" circles.

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16. and 17. Joe Fucking Lieberman and Dianne Fucking Feinstein. Invoking the Espionage Act of 1917 against Wikileaks? There's a whole lot wrong with that, as any legal expert could tell you, but let's just sum it up with the basics: Julian Assange is neither a terrorist nor a spy; he's a webmaster and a whistleblower. He did not pass on secret information to any foreign army for immediate field use; he made a small portion of a heap of diplomatic cables--documents which should be in the public domain, seeing as they were generated and paid for with public funds--available to anyone with a computer and Internet access who cares to read. And the New York Times got there nearly four decades ago with the Pentagon Papers, and they didn't end up jailed for it either. Neither, in the end, did Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the papers in question. This is a craven attempt at censorship, and it is guaranteed to be an epic fail.

18. Peter Fucking King. Yes, he's ba-ack on the list this week. And I think he senses that what Wankers #16 and #17 have in mind is legally untenable. Which is why he, in the spirit of true fascist bipartisanship, has tabled an atrocity in the shape of a congressional act which he hopes will take care of that little problem. If it passes, look for all hell to break loose, and not just in Washington.

19. and 20. Scott Fucking Brown and John Fucking Ensign are also dishonorable mentions; see above. Nice to see that douchebags are never censured in Washington for their sexual peccadoes and nude photo sessions, either, as long as there's an R after their names. Their scandals are well documented. Yet Julian Assange is being prosecuted on much flimsier evidence as a rape suspect; expect those charges to magically morph into espionage. The mind boggles!

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21. Richard Fucking Milhous Fucking Nixon. Yeah, he's been dead a few years; hence the extra Fucking. I think you'll agree it's warranted when you see just what a prejudiced cretin the old crook really was. But hey, this little red-haired German-Canadian lady has the inborn trait of knowing a Nazi when she smells one, so maybe there IS something to his nutty racist theories, after all.

22. Henry Fucking Kissinger. See above, and recall the money quote:

"The emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union is not an objective of American foreign policy," Mr. Kissinger said. "And if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern. Maybe a humanitarian concern."

Humanitarianism: It's un-American. Thanks, Henry, for that timely reminder.

23. Silvio Fucking Berlusconi. A vote-buyer, you say? Well, bless my soul. And no, Wikileaks didn't reveal that. It was pretty much a foregone conclusion, given that he's the richest man in Italy and not above doing that. At all.

24. Alvaro Fucking Uribe. Gone from the presidency of Colombia, but not forgotten--thanks to Wikileaks. Nice move there, El Narco...invading Venezuela. To capture alleged FARC guerrillas. The one time you did that, you got your ass frozen. And again when you did it to Ecuador. Gee, I wonder what else is in those cables that can incriminate your scroungy little ass.

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And finally, to all those who've resorted to smearing both Julian Assange AND his accuser in sexual and sexist terms. Your arguments don't amount to a hill of shit if that's the best you've got. A pox on both your houses.

Good night, and get fucked!

Economics for Dummies: The fuck of the Irish

A real Irishman explains in the simplest (and bluest!) terms what happened to his country's financial system. Basically, it's the Second Great Irish Potato Famine, only it's the "wankin' bankers" who stole the potatoes, and not the blight.

Also, we learn that Michael Flatley is from Chicago.

Heroes for Today: Hugh Shelton, taking a leaf from Smedley Butler

He hasn't written the next War is a Racket yet, but this general shows at least a pinch of Gen. Butler's integrity in what he WASN'T willing to do to get his Gulf War II on.

(Note: He refers to the Clinton administration. One wonders if he'd have done the same under BushCo. Would've been nice to see him say that to Dubya, eh?)

Short 'n' Stubby: Ms. Manx smells fish in the Wikileaks pond

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I know how many of you love the Stumpy Cat, and the feeling is mutual. Ms. Manx loves you all too--so much that she overcame her fear of water, plunged headlong into the Wiki-waters and found...

...that Naomi Wolf is awesome on the whole "espionage" angle! Now do you believe me, those who doubted when I said that she was mocking the inane Interpol manhunt for a man accused of some pretty minor-league sexual assaults, and not the notion of rape itself? I'm telling you: this is a feminist who is not only serious on women's issues (and specifically, sex and body-wars stuff; look up her oeuvre sometime) but also on her own country's history, and more darkly, its flirtations with fascism. She knows her onions, and Ms. Manx has never doubted her or lost respect for her take on things, even when it gets a bit too flippant for some.

...that there are historic parallels for the sexualized smearing of Julian Assange. Ms. Manx would have you know that normally she NEVER references flibbertigibbertarian publications, but in this case, she makes an exception, because the parallel is that of Daniel Ellsberg, who has come out steadfastly in defence of Wikleaks. Henry Kissinger tried to smear Ellsberg as gay--something I'm sure came as a terrible shock to the latter's wife, who obviously had no idea. (Ms. Manx sniffs disdainfully and says rats are for eating, not fucking. She would have Mr. Kissinger know that the Immortal Cats are waiting to consume his soul, come the fateful day.)

...that the Pentagon Papers, in turn, reflect something else: Eisenhower's abiding concern about the military-industrial complex. How prophetic and true his words turned out to be! And no wonder: he mulled over them for two years before giving that farewell address. As a former military officer, he knew full well how serious the charges were that he was making. A pity he was not also an intelligence officer, or he would have foreseen the dangers of the espionage-industrial complex that hid in the military-industrial complex shadows. Which leads us nicely to our next point...

...that the snake bites its tail when we see how the CIA had a "honeypot" set up--a fake Wikileaks site. Strange coincidence that, eh? And if you really believe it is a coincidence, Ms. Manx would have you know...

...that however well-intentioned as Jessica Valenti's attempt to link the Assange case to "rape in America" is, it just doesn't make sense in this context. The incidents in question did not take place in the US, they occurred in Sweden. At most, they point up, as Valenti notes, the contrast between the two legal systems. What Valenti fails to note is the filthy, highly sexist motives of the US intelligence sector, and its willingness to cynically use them as a means of entrapping a man they could get no other way. (Ms. Manx says, with regal feline contempt, that it's reprehensible--downright ratty!--of the CIA to hide under women's skirts and Swedish laws.)

...that "intelligence" can be really, really stupid--and that whistle-blowing women are pointing out just how dumb it can be. Susan Lindauer, a former deep-cover agent, spills some absolutely fascinating beans, and says she wishes she'd known someone like Julian Assange during her career; what she knew was utterly at odds with what the general public was allowed to see, hear and think. Her contention, that secrecy makes for bad intelligence, doesn't stop with her. A former Ms. Magazine Woman of the Year, Coleen Rowley, the FBI agent whose repeated warnings of terror suspects at flying schools were ignored, wonders if a Wikileaks-type operation would have prevented 9-11. Knowledge is power, replies the Stumpy Cat. And if you want to empower a whole country to save itself from attacks, the best thing to do is disseminate knowledge, however embarrassing, to the citizenry. After all, it's apparent that the CIA can't do it alone, and they're sure as hell not gonna co-operate with the FBI.

...that Iraq is not the only victim of a foreign conspiracy to fabricate intelligence against it. Did you know that Haiti is, too? No? You do now. And here's something for Brazilians and Canadians to hang their heads over: Our governments were in on it.

...that the world takes a dimmer view of the US than it did before the cables came out. Ugly suspicions have been more than confirmed. South Americans in particular have nothing but contempt for the secrecy; Lula has shattered his "good left" docile image for good by saying Julian Assange should not be prosecuted for publishing the cables, and it made me smile to see it. Europe, too, has no sympathy for the US government and wingnuts' attempts to censor Cablegate. Could it be that they are just as tired of being under Uncle Sam's thumb as Latin Americans are?

...that while Visa, Mastercard, Amazon and Paypal are all big fat corporate cowards, smaller fish are bravely swimming in to take up where they left off. Even Facebook and Twitter, though they've made some cowardly noises, so far haven't succeeded in censoring the pro-leak messages flooding their systems.

...that the international human-rights and civil-liberties organizations are stepping up to the plate. Amnesty International, PEN and the UN have all chimed in strongly on Wikileaks' behalf.

The Stumpy Cat yawns and retires, satisfied that all is unraveling as it should. The case against Wikileaks is as shoddy as a cheap old acrylic sweater, and Ms. Manx, who has all her claws, can't wait to sink them in again...later...

December 10, 2010

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Democracy Now in Cancún!

Here's Amy, talking with Evo today:

"I prefer the dignity of the people to 'Evo's knee'." Spoken like a true trouper.

Transcript here. You won't want to miss what he says about Cablegate, or the Nobel prizes. Evo's sweet jabs at dumb diplomats and unintelligent US intelligence agents are proof positive that the so-called First World has nothing to teach Bolivia. This "clown", despite his modest formal education, is smart enough to school them all. Including Mario Vargas Llosa, the successful author and miserably failed politician, who has sadly become what he spitefully calls Evo. Nota bene: Evo's government is much envied in neighboring Peru. Gee, do you suppose someone might be suffering from a touch of envy himself there, having lost the Peruvian presidential elections so badly way back when? The late, great Uruguayan poet Mario Benedetti nailed it when he said that you have to read Vargas Llosa, not listen to him. (He was referring to Vargas Llosa's literary work, not his political essays, which are all drivel.) Appropriately, not-so-super Mario had a pratfall on Monday in his Stockholm hotel--while posing for a photographer. Who's the buffoon, again?

And here's Amy with El Ecuadorable:

Transcript here. El Ec, like Evo, is unimpressed with the way the rich countries derailed last year's Copenhagen climate conference and produced a toothless "accord" which, if we know the rich, will NOT be kept. El Ec's position is that the state and the people must control the markets, not vice versa; an unregulated market will never protect the environment, but democratic state controls can. Spoken like an economist who has his priorities in order!

December 9, 2010

Orlando Urdaneta, STFU--and Jaime Bayly, too!

This is what passes for TV journalism in Miami:

Putschist wankers making excuses for Globovisíon TV station owner Guillermo Zuloaga, a putschist crook who profiteered from the Toyota cars he was hiding on his own property, withholding them illegally from sale in order to artificially raise demand and jack up the price. Zuloaga, unfortunately for Toyota, is their licenced importer to Venezuela, as well as the owner of a couple of Toyota dealerships, which he uses to resell the same vehicles back and forth--again, to jack up the price. The bust was major news last year, with TV cameras rolling as the federal police moved in and seized the hoarded vehicles--dozens of them--as evidence. Zuloaga was nowhere in sight, having fled the country. And apparently the State Dept. just loves this old crook, since they keep expressing "concern" for him everytime a new crime of Zuloaga's comes to light--which happens with nauseating regularity. Isn't it touching that they're so concerned about the well-being of a professional swindler and coupmonger?

And oh yeah, they're also claiming Chávez is a "populist dictator", when in fact he's democratically elected. And advocating "soft coups" against Chávez, à la Gene Sharp. They know they can't get him out of power any other way. Certainly not any LEGITIMATE way...

This is what a bunch of pathetic losers do to pollute the TV airwaves when they don't know how to run an honest candidate or win an election fairly. Putsch after putsch after putsch, called for quite openly by a foreigner (Jaime Bayly is Peruvian, not Venezuelan!), under the pretext of a TV talk show with an actor as guest. Ignorant political theorizing with zero basis in reality. Overt brainwashing of an audience made gullible by daily overdoses of terror and sensationalism. And vile insults against a very popular leader.

And if you support the Venezuelan opposition, this is the crap you're supporting. You great democrat, you.

Heroes for Today: The world's awesomest 15-year-old

His first name is Barnaby, he was in the British student demonstrations, and he was "kettled", much like the G-20 protesters in Toronto last summer. And he is not intimidated in the least. He's defiant, he's eloquent, and he's just fantastic. He's also the real face of things to come. Justin Bieber, eat your heart out.

December 8, 2010

In which we "smear" Julian Assange's accuser

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Yesterday, Julian Assange turned himself in to British authorities for extradition to Sweden, to face a number of sexual-assault charges. Since it's for the court to determine whether or not he actually is guilty as charged, let's wait to see how that shakes out. Meanwhile, I'll address some things that started nagging at me as soon as the first feminist analyses of the situation started cropping up on Twitter yesterday.

It's pretty clear to me that battle lines are being drawn in this whole kerfuffle. The discourse has shifted from Wikileaks and Cablegate to Winkyleaks and Condomgate. And it's clear, too, that women are being used--and abused--atrociously here. No, I'm not talking about Julian Assange and what he's alleged to have done to those two women. I'm talking about feminists as a whole; we are being made into inadvertent pawns in the battle over freedom of information. And it seems to me that we're being expected to turn out against Assange--and by extension, against Wikileaks.

I've noted here before that condomless sex, while prosecutable, is not a jailing offence in Sweden; you pay a fine of a few hundred dollars, and that's it. But this case is strange, owing to the high international profile of the accused: the sex charges were pressed months ago, then dropped, and then reinstated. Awfully inconsistent prosecution for an offence generally remedied by a simple fine! And weirdest of all, why is the United States now looking to get involved, when none of the alleged offences happened on their soil? It seems obvious to me that this is all an effort to entrap the man who, for better or worse, is the public face of the Wikileaks organization.

But no, we feminists aren't supposed to remember all that, much less treat it as relevant to the case against Julian Assange. We're supposed to be righteously indignant at his obvious arrogance, and glad that Interpol was mobilized to catch an accused rapist, and deliver the douchebag to Sweden to be held without bail. Pending his extradition to the US, of course; the world's policeman and all-Amurrican good guy, natch.

But if this is how we're supposed to react as feminists, it is utterly ridiculous and an insult to our wits. As Naomi Wolf has humorously noted, this is a very strange and heavy-handed use of the legal remedies fought for--and, in Sweden, won by feminism:

I see that Julian Assange is accused of having consensual sex with two women, in one case using a condom that broke. I understand, from the alleged victims' complaints to the media, that Assange is also accused of texting and tweeting in the taxi on the way to one of the women's apartments while on a date, and, disgustingly enough, 'reading stories about himself online' in the cab.

Both alleged victims are also upset that he began dating a second woman while still being in a relationship with the first. (Of course, as a feminist, I am also pleased that the alleged victims are using feminist-inspired rhetoric and law to assuage what appears to be personal injured feelings. That's what our brave suffragette foremothers intended!).

Well, poor Naomi Wolf--who is serious about issues of rape and withdrawn consent--just can't catch a break for mocking a few of the many absurdities of this case. Other feminists were quick to pile onto her, accusing her of "trivializing rape". Instead of looking at the peculiarities of the Wikileaks timeline and admitting that this is a disproportionate response to a charge formerly considered too weak even to prosecute, they accused her of smearing the alleged victim of one of the alleged attacks.

But what if the alleged victim is not so innocent? What if the alleged attack is part of an elaborate set-up?

We already know that the more prominent woman in question, Anna Ardin, has some very interesting CIA ties. And we know that just around the time the first alleged rape occurred, she tweeted enthusiastically about Assange:

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I screen-capped those from here.

These tweets give no indication that anything untoward had happened. I ran them past my friend Anthony, who lives in Malmö, for a Swede's-eye view. Here's what he said:

The 8/14 tweet caught my attention; Anna wrote that Julian wanted to attend a crayfish party, so she wondered if there were any open seats that night or the following night. A few hours later, she wrote "Sitting outside at 2AM, freezing with the smartest people in the world, it's amazing!"

Ardin later deleted those tweets and locked down her blog.

But let's suppose for the sake of argument that you're convinced that Anna Ardin is just being smeared, and rape trivialized, and so on. The timing? Just a coincidence! The known CIA ties? How dare you play guilt-by-association! Rape is real, how dare "Naomi Effin' Wolf" make fun of it?

No one, least of all Naomi Wolf, is disputing that rape is real, or that victim-smearing is a dirty tactic, a re-victimization on no uncertain terms. What is being disputed here is the case against Julian Assange, which is pitifully weak and certainly doesn't warrant the involvement of Interpol. If it did, legions of human-rights abusers who used rape as a weapon of war would be behind bars by now, rotting deservedly away. You'd think Interpol could easily bust those bastards at Dyncorp, who openly bought child sex slaves in Bosnia and Afghanistan for the raping pleasure of their contractors. (That latter exposé, BTW, comes to the media courtesy of Wikileaks!)

Naomi Wolf was making fun not of rape, but of what is obviously an exceedingly stupid manhunt. And while her tone may be a bit too flip for some people's liking, she's not wrong to laugh at the transparent idiocy of it all. I do too, and so do plenty of other feminists who've been following the Wikileaks saga with interest. Oh, wouldn't it be lovely if Interpol DID chase down every dick who'd ever wronged us? I've got a couple of real lulus for them myself. Let's make a crayfish party out of this shit. You bring the wine, I'll bring the cheese. Share yer stories, girls!

And if that's not ludicrous enough, how about this? We are being asked to believe that two obviously strong women--Anna Ardin, a professed feminist who works for gender equity, and Sofia Wilen, with whom she banded together later to press charges, could not track down Julian Assange to ask him to get tested for STDs. So they were forced to press charges. They apparently had no trouble getting into his pants. So why would he suddenly be too difficult to simply meet for a coffee, like a civilized adult, to discuss blood tests? Gee, what a cad. Maybe he had something to hide?

According to the same Reuters account, Assange claims he had his cellphone turned off for fear that enemies would track him using its signal. Not an implausible reason, since he DOES have enemies in US intel circles, and if they can't track him through technology, ain't nobody can. But he was still in Sweden when the women were allegedly trying to reach him and just urge him to get tested. They could have waylaid him at his hotel, if it was really so urgent. How simple-minded do we have to be to believe that Anna Ardin's blogging about "thinking about some revenge over the last few days" can't be considered evidence that she was up to something more nefarious than simply trying to get him to a clinic?

Okay, you say, that does look bad, but that's still pretty weak. Her blog is now locked down, and it's very likely that she deleted any incriminating bits. Isn't there anything more definite? What about those alleged CIA ties you conspiracy kooks keep nattering on about?

Well, there we have a lot more to go on. A helluva lot.

Via Twitter, I found this article she'd written for the CIA-tied magazine she was working for. Here's Anthony again, translating:

GF's former columnist Anna Ardin has been in Cuba.

Getting to know Cuba is a great political experience and the first thing I would say is that as a foreigner you are extremely discriminated against and constantly pressed for money.

Tourists should always use the hard currency convertible pesos, that is "dollars", which they are called to avoid misunderstandings. All trade with the U.S. dollar was banned in stores in November. A convertible peso is pegged to the dollar and worth 26 Cuban pesos.

Prevented to meet Cubans

You cannot go with the same cheap buses that Cubans use, but must take the tourist taxis, which can cost 20 dollars while the local bus for the same route costs 40 cents of a Cuban peso. Another example is that it is very difficult to live with friends, you always have to pay for hotels or bed and breakfast. The system is almost similar to apartheid!

I'm locked out of the Cuban world and the Cubans are excluded from foreigners - not just financially! Cubans are prevented in many different ways from even visiting the main tourist sites. Foreigners' cars have red registration plates instead of yellow and need not - as the Cubans - to stop and pick up hitchhikers to fill empty seats. In Cuba health care and education are free since the revolution and the Communist takeover in 1959; there are few or no one starving or living on the streets and virtually no need to worry about violence and robbery. But the wages are extremely low.

The salary for the best paid, the police, is $30, a doctor earns about 23, a garbage man 19 and a housekeeper earns seven dollars a month. A beer or a soda costs a dollar, a bottle of oil 2.50, internet for one hour 6, a sports bag 15 and a trip to a neighboring country costs several hundred pesos. Although the prices for most things - except for certain raw materials for food, bus transportation and little else - is in U.S. dollars (that is convertible pesos), the workers get salary in Cuban pesos, which is not always possible to switch.

To survive on these wages seem to be impossible (despite the very minimum required being relatively inexpensive). To save up for a pair of shoes could take half a year, not to mention buying a television or a car, yet many Cubans have this - how? Well, since 1993, it is allowed for Cubans to hold hard currency.

Want to change money

So by drinking or to work with private tourism differs more and more from the crowd. The ones that are excluded from the life you can only live if you have dollars. In that perspective, it is no wonder that in every street corner you are stopped by a so-called jinetero (riders). He asks where you come from, if you want to change money, buy cigars, follow them home to their backyard restaurant or have them as a personal guide to buy them food and clothing. As a woman, you notice nothing of the female counterpart to these, las jineteras, which might more literally ride their tourists for a few days or weeks in exchange for food, clothing and shoes. Or they run around them in their nice cars or pay, to the jinetera or directly to her jineteros - the pimps.

Sex tourism is increasing. Tourism combined with the money that exile Cubans send home accounts for well over half of the currency revenues of the treasury. That the country is so dependent on something that there is not enough of for the whole population, which excludes many and forces people to flee is not sustainable. Cuba needs a new policy. The question is what?

Between Castro or the U.S.

The Social Democratic opposition - Corriente Socialista Democrática Cubana - are trying to show that there is an alternative between the only two clearly presented options, the extremes: that Castro and his gang govern Cuba or the United States does. In a second article I will write more about what the Social Democrats in Cuba think will happen when the now 78-year-old dictator Fidel Castro dies.

Now, this is a load of crapaganda. If you can't smell the CIA's cheap cologne on that, you're hopeless.

Anyone who's really been to Cuba will tell you that it's not as bad as articles like this lead you to believe. The locals are not quarantined from you, or you from them, unless there's some good reason. Working for a CIA-connected crapaganda rag might well be a good reason for the authorities to confine you to your luxury tourist hotel room. But then, if poor Anna Ardin were really so confined, how would she "know" all those appalling details about how the poor oppressed Cubans really live? Unless, of course, she were simply being fed the dubious info by her CIA handlers, in which case she wouldn't even have to go to Cuba to "report" it; she could do it just as easily from home.

And that second-last bit really leapt out at me, too. Interesting focus on sex there for our sex-crimes complainant. Very typical CIA glurge, designed specifically to tweak our most sensitive feminist nerves: Look what that mean old dictator Fidel Castro is making those poor women do! Still more interesting is the lack of hard figures. She claims that prostitution revenues and remittances from "exiles" counts for more than half of the cash in the Cuban treasury. But without numbers and verifiable references to prove it, that all don't mean nuttin', honey.

Of course, it being a CIA rag, hard proof is not really required. Sensationalism is. And the article has that in spades. Just look at the language: "The system is almost similar to apartheid!"--the sky is falling! Oh noes!

Gee, you don't suppose someone who'd write such ghastly goop would have an ulterior motive regarding Julian Assange--whose organization just so happens to have uncovered a lot of embarrassing stuff from US embassies linked to various putsches in various countries allied to Cuba?

Nahhhh. Don't let's connect those dots. Let's just stick to our simple-minded pre-gummed narratives and be good, outraged little bourgeois féministes, huffing at the hacker boogyman and hoping The Hague locks him up for war crimes. Let's accuse those who find odd dirt on Anna Ardin of smearing her, when in fact she seems to have done a fair job of muddying herself. No, no, we can't allow that; let's just view her as a plain and simple victim. And pretend all the Wikileaks stuff is what's extraneous, and that it's not, perhaps, Julian Assange who's really being smeared.

But this feminist can't pretend, and certainly can't ignore the blindingly obvious.

Wikileaks is shining an uncomfortably bright light on things the US doesn't want us to see, and how they are being perpetrated. It's shown incriminating footage of US helicopters firing on innocent Iraqis in Baghdad. It's exposed the way US embassies lie to the citizens of the countries where they are posted, and lie about them as well. Is it really so far-fetched to surmise that Anna Ardin, who lied about Cuba in a CIA rag, just might have been sent by the same CIA to take Julian Assange down, by whatever means necessary? Is it really a smear to demonstrate--not suggest, not insinuate, but DEMONSTRATE--that she is more than a little bit connected to them, just as they are connected to every US diplomatic installation and quite a few seemingly private corporations?

Again, let's look at the timeline.

The first big bombshell Wikileaks dropped was Collateral Murder; this went down on April 5. On July 6, Bradley Manning was charged with leaking the video to Wikileaks. Anna Ardin and Sofia Wilen slept with Julian Assange on August 14 and 17, respectively, while the latter, undoubtedly feeling the heat from the US, was hoping to gain residency and whistleblower protection in Sweden. The encounters were consensual according to both women, and uneventful except for the respective alleged condom disputes. Later, both allegedly sought him out, being worried about catching a sexually-transmitted disease. They couldn't find him because his cellphone was turned off. Then they turned to the authorities to press charges, only to be told it was too hard to prove, and saw the charges dropped. Only to have them reinstated now, of all times. While Bradley Manning, surely by malign coincidence, is also already jailed and awaiting trial--facing 52 years of hard time in the federal pen. He is suspected of leaking the Cablegate documents, as well, although he has not been charged with that.

Would this case have gone anywhere if the man in question were anyone other than Julian Assange, who just happened to have humiliated the US government that spring with that ghastly video release? And would he have been sought for prosecution if he hadn't just gone public with the first of many expected Cablegate releases?

The Swedish prosecutors deny that any pressure was brought to bear on them by the US. Yet just last week, the Swedish government was mortified by the revelation that Sweden is no longer neutral. Who announced it? Wikileaks, via Cablegate. The local US embassy had the gall to write as much to Washington! And I reiterate: The US authorities are now looking to extradite Assange from Sweden. Even with no charges of their own against him. They are looking for a way to do it, some hook to hang those charges on. Doesn't matter if it's as flimsy as the anti-Castro tripe Anna Ardin used to write. It doesn't have to be true. It just has to be sensational enough to get public opinion on side...

Yeah, tell me it doesn't all hang together. Denial, river in Egypt. Cleo, you're up the creek!

It's much easier to go into a "good feminist" (or full-on conspiracy nut) tizzy, I grant you, than to follow complex international developments in a more intelligent manner. It's also safer than to do another smart thing: dovetail one's feminism and freedom-of-information advocacy for the common, global good. Unfortunately, it's also the perfect way to divorce feminism from the much larger international issues that we ignore at our peril. It makes us feminists all look like laughingstocks or Limbaughian feminazis. We inadvertently contribute to our own continued alienation from our sisters in the global south if we fall for that narrative. We also end up setting back our own progress, and theirs.

But we don't have to. This radical, left-wing feminist agrees wholeheartedly with Gloria Steinem: The truth will set us all free. But first, it will piss us off.

Let it.

December 7, 2010

Bolivia just got awesomer

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Alvaro García Linera--architect of awesomeness.

How much awesomer did Bolivia get today? Oh, about THIS much:

The Vice-Presidency of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Presidency of the Plurinational Legislative Assembly, in an effort to democratize access to information, has placed at the disposal of the public the documents of the State Department of the United States, published by Wikileaks, which refer to Bolivia. All are available in their original language (English), and those which contain relevant information regarding Bolivia, beyond simple references, have been translated into Spanish or are in the process of being translated. We ask for your patience.

The search function offers searches according to the relevancy of the document, its date of creation, the language, the institution of origin, etc. We firmly believe that this page will increase access to this very important information, and will facilitate the work of many citizens.

Translation mine.

Yes, that's right--our man Alvaro is making available, for general Bolivian consumption, all that incriminating, lovely, putschist shit the State Dept. and its lackeys have been shooting back and forth over their land, in his very own little Wikileaks mirror site. Bearing the official stamp of the Bolivian vice-presidency, no less, so that any attack on it would constitute an attack on Bolivia as a whole. Silverfox is a SLY fox!

I would say Alvaro is my latest hero, but he's actually been one for quite some time now. Right alongside Evo.

¡Viva Bolivia! ¡Qué viva Bolivia LIBRE!

Stupid Sex Tricks: What NOT to do while preggers

I actually winced at the part where Christina Applegate went splat. Hell, I winced when I saw her SHOES. Those babies are a no-no, no matter what.

Watch out for that last line, it's a killer.

December 6, 2010

Short 'n' Stubby: Ms. Manx dips another paw in the Wikileaks

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My stump-tailed mascot informs me that if she dips any more feet into this ever-growing lake of leakage, she's gonna be swimming. Well, hop in, sez I--the water's turbulent, but so far, it's fine. And here are some of the choice bits I found bobbing around in it today:

Mark Pesce calls Wikileaks "a blueprint of things to come". Ms. Manx's fave quote:

"The mythology of power - that leaders are somehow more substantial, their concerns more elevated and lofty than us mere mortals, who must not question their motives - that mythology has been definitively busted. This is the final terminus of aristocracy; a process that began on July 14, 1789 came to a conclusive end on November 28, 2010. The new aristocracies of democracy have been smashed, trundled off to the guillotine of the internet, and beheaded."

L'état, c'est mort.

At Salon.com, Dan Gillmor comes out with a qualified defence of Wikileaks, arguing--correctly--that it is a use-it-or-lose-it matter when it comes to freedom of speech. Ms. Manx concurs, but thinks the bit about governments needing to have secrets is hooey. Secrecy, the Stumpy Cat reminds us, is what got all the leaked-on governments into such a pickle in the first place. It covers a multitude of sins. Isn't it time the sinning stopped? Then, like magic, all need for secrecy would evaporate. (And so too would all those massive, murderous boondoggles otherwise known as intelligence agencies.)

Also at Salon, Glenn Greenwald takes on the legal angle of the Wikileaks case. Straight from the top, we learn that any legal case against Wikileaks itself would be a shaky one, since the prosecutors would have to prove that damage was done--basically, that someone had died--as a result of the leaks. So far, not a shred of hard evidence exists to that end. Instead, we got a flurry of lawless, panicky (and largely futile) countermeasures taken by feds and corporations in various countries. Lacking the lawful grounds on which to prosecute Wikileaks, it seems that the authorities have decided to go the persecution route against the most famous individual attached to the organization. Which probably explains the singularly strange timing of those sexual-assault charges against Julian Assange.

And speaking of those, feminist lawyer Jill Filipovic takes on that angle at Feministe. She also decries the way the "shoddy, sensationalist reporting" of the media has "muddied the waters" on the issue of withdrawal of consent. Ms. Manx thinks this is right-on.

Lindsay Beyerstein, writing at Big Think, opines that "the case against Assange may be baseless, but that doesn't mean the allegations against him are trivial or nonsensical." True that, and Ms. Manx is content to sit back for now and see how it pans out. Since he has surrendered to the authorities, it remains to be seen whether even those charges--on the face of them, unrelated to Wikileaks--have any merit. Fine, let's have a trial--that's how things work where rule of law is still respected. For all we know, Julian Assange may even clear his name! Given what we already know about the CIA ties of one of his accusers, the odor of hinkitude is strong here. And again, Ms. Manx says--consider the timing. Consider also that the initial warrant against Assange was bungled. And the charges were withdrawn, only to be pressed again. Is something rotten in the state of Sweden? Certainly. And, as a feminist, Ms. Manx thinks it's a damn shame that a decent piece of anti-rape legislation--something other feminists have fought so long and hard to get, and that so many rape victims have to work up the courage to use--should be misused in this way. If this is not a smear campaign against Wikileaks, with the pugmarks of the CIA all over it, Ms. Manx says she will eat my most indigestible hat.

Meanwhile, back to the censorship front. Ms. Manx says she's seen all kinds of disingenuous explanations for why Twitter won't report #Wikileaks or #cablegate as a trending topic. The main one: the mysterious Twitter Algorithm. My gosh, you'd think they were Google or something. There's nothing mysterious about it; if there's a promoted tweet, that means someone is paying to make sure something trends. It's hard to imagine, to use but one particularly irritating example of a bogus trend, Venezuelans being so enamored of Justin Bieber that they would resort to not one but several hashtags to keep HIM trending; at least two of my Venezuelan tweeps (one of them a student in his late teens) say that they know virtually no one down thataway who even likes the kid. And lo! Ms. Manx's suspicions are confirmed. In fact, #Wikileaks and #cablegate ARE getting much more tweetage than the Biebs. Failing to report, the Stumpy Cat opines, is also a form of censorship, especially if it's so deliberate that it requires equally deliberate countermeasures to circumvent.

And finally, Juan Cole, as usual, gets to the real meat of the matter, calling the thing by its right name: McCarthyism. Did anyone seriously believe that smear campaigns and witch-hunts died with the most odious US citizen ever to openly engage in them? In fact, they are just as illegal as a lot of the things being leaked in the diplomatic cables--smear campaigns and political vendettas against foreign leaders, particularly those who don't toe the State Dept. line. As Cole rightly notes, if it were really a matter of treason, or exposing state secrets illegally, there are plenty of books on Amazon--and probably plenty of other PayPal clients--that would be much more worth dropping than Wikileaks.

Random ruminations on a massacre

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Hope has two beautiful daughters; their names are Anger and Courage. Anger that things are the way they are; Courage to make them the way they ought to be.

--St. Augustine

I have to say something painfully honest and rather heretical, right off the bat: I hate once-a-year memorial ceremonies. I hate them because they commemorate senseless slaughters that prey on people's minds at all times, and not just on the anniversary of the day they happened. I hate them, also, because they too often "try to make sense" of the senseless, and end up making nothing but nonsense instead. It seems to me that such ceremonies are less about remembering than they are about walling that tragedy off, and forgetting the very things we should not.

For me, the calendar date is not the real reminder of what happened in Montréal on December 6, 1989. The reminder is the smell of snow in the air; it is the strains of "The First Noël"; it is the color purple; it is the names of fourteen women; it is the sound of gunshots fired. It is the feel of university textbooks in my hand; it is the stiffness in my knees after hours crouched on the floor at the Queen's Women's Centre, rummaging through its tiny, inadequate library in search of answers I could not find; it is the warm waxy acrid smell of a burning candle; it is the brittle texture of an old newspaper clipping; it is the stifled rage that turns my hands cold and pale even in the warmest room.

So, with that in mind, here I am, writing (ironically, today, because I must) about the events of that day, which for me really was only yesterday, and which memory has made as immediate as if it had happened just now. Why do I need to show up at a rote ritual for something that only happened hours, minutes, seconds ago? To be dutiful? To be palliated? To be comforted? To go away feeling smug and detached and all there-that-oughta-fix-it?

Listen:

There is no once-a-year duty in the world that can palliate out of existence the painful realization that a woman who has crossed some arbitrary line, into a place formerly reserved for men, that she can be gunned down at random, just for being female and out of some imaginary line. Got that? There is nothing that can comfort me about the knowledge that even in Canada, in this supposedly enlightened day and age, there are still men who think that a woman who dares to step outside the house is "asking for it".

What is "it"? Harassment? Dirty name-calling? A wad of phlegmy spit aimed her way? A wad of some other male bodily fluid entirely?

Or is "it" a hail of bullets, and a running stream of her own arterial blood across the floor of a cafeteria or classroom in a university no longer reserved exclusively for men?

You see, this is what no decorous yearly ceremony can palliate away from my mind.

I have before me the image of a young woman slumped in a chair, dead, while in the background, a police officer takes down the tinsel holiday decorations in the Polytechnique cafeteria. I can hardly fault him for doing so; the occasion was not festive, and any ceremonial trappings could only seem a mockery. All the joy and festivity was over for those fourteen women, for their injured comrades, for their families and friends. It was no longer an "occasion". It was a full-blown tragedy. The scene of the crime had to be stripped bare, so that it could be seen clearly for what it was.

You can look anywhere on the Internet, but you won't see that image; it was taken by a Canadian Press photographer but then promptly withheld for fear that it would seem somehow "inappropriate". I happen to have seen that picture, if only because I happen to have studied another "unwomanly" thing, namely journalism; it was in one of my textbooks. But it was never published for general consumption. Watered-down, decorous, "appropriate" things made their way onto the front pages of newspapers instead: piles of plastic-wrapped bouquets in snow, close-ups of the black granite monument to the dead, and so on.

I think that very "inappropriate" photo should be made widely available. Not out of disrespect for the victim or her loved ones, but precisely because it is so honest, so unguarded and so moving. There is no way such a picture could desensitize us to senseless violence; it has the opposite effect for me and for everyone else who ever saw it. Just thinking about it makes me want to cry all over again, in the way I did back then, when I sat in a group of women at the first memorial, just days after the shooting. Tears ran involuntarily down my cheeks; there was a strip of purple sweatsuit fleece tied around my coatsleeve, a badge of feminist mourning. I was not there to pay decorous respects, but to place myself in some kind of defiant solidarity, however fumbling and inadequate. I was there to make my own sense out of the "senseless" tragedy, and not to accept the official platitudes. Hence the purple; hence my angry, anguished tears.

Solidarity is not about mouthing the proper "respectful" platitudes, patting things down, smoothing them over and then, like a well-brought-up little lady, forgetting and going back to your kitchen, lesson learned. No. Solidarity involves messy grieving, sudden remembrance and sudden tears, and all kinds of other inappropriate and hardcore unladylike behavior. It doesn't give a fuck for good manners. It threatens established orders and, if carried out long and thoroughly enough, smashes through such arbitrary barriers as once declared that a school--be it of engineering, journalism or whatever--is not a place for men only, and certainly not a place for incompetent men simply because they are men. Solidarity fights for rights; it disdains the decorous preservation of unearned privilege.

Solidarity is highly "inappropriate". It smashes pat assumptions and antiquated notions, and sweeps entire world orders aside. It is a flip of the bird in the face of the harasser, a woman confronting a subway flasher and not letting him slink quietly off, the rage that prompted suffragettes to multiply, not disperse, when one of their number was beaten to death by the hooves of a horse. It is also the tears of a woman studying journalism, disagreeing in a silent rage about what is "respectful", believing, however "inappropriately", that publishing and widely disseminating such a picture might well be the only way to finally shut up the stupid fuckers who keep kvetching about their precious "right" to own a gun. A "right" which, like driving a car, is really not a right, but only a privilege, to be rescinded when abused. Just like the male privilege of sexism, which was never a man's right, but only a privilege. Which women could rescind whenever they got angry and fed up enough to finally stop behaving themselves and make some fucking history, and demand the rights that male privilege arrogates only to itself, while at the same time, smugly and decorously denying them--arbitrarily and without reason--to women. And one of those rights, the most fundamental, is the right of a woman to live.

THAT, my dears, is solidarity. It isn't meek, mild, modest or nicey-nice. It placates no one. It calls out bullshit of all stenches. It may start with an individual crying or raging here or there, but it is not about individuals or mincy-poncy individual rights, because talk of individual rights soon becomes bullshit. Solidarity is universal, and it demands universal rights, universal justice, no stinking exceptions. It gets goddamn motherfucking angry at times, and it is when solidarity gets angry that shit finally gets done. Because solidarity, when angry, goes out looking for allies and, by Goddess, it FINDS them.

And angry solidarity has done much for women in Canada. It prompted Heidi Rathjen and Wendy Cukier to band together, seeking and finding popular support for gun control, which eventually became law. It has taken guns out of the hands of robbers, rapists and killers, and put useful tools in the hands of police chiefs determined to put a stop to the violence. It prompted a group of Québecois feminists, under the editorship of Louise Malette and Marie Chalouh, to compile their essays into a marvelous book (which still reads as fresh and relevant today as it did twenty years ago), cutting the decorous bullshit away from the Massacre even as early as one year after. Angry, out-of-line women have improved the world for their sisters, and yes, for their brothers, too. Do we thank them best by placating them with rituals that ring more hollow with every passing year? Or do we do it by getting angry, seeking solidarity, and carrying the work forward with timely, "inappropriate" reminders of what it's really all about?

If I had a scanner, I would publish that "inappropriate" picture of the dead woman in the Polytechnique cafeteria--right here, right now. She died having taken for granted--too soon--the equal rights my feminist foremothers honestly thought they had won for her. She is innocent, and showing her as she was at that moment could never disgrace her or do her harm; it would be, on the contrary, a truer way to honor her memory. As a feminist I ought to be able to freely hold up her picture and say, Here is proof that we are not truly equal yet. This woman died at the hands of a misogynist. Did she die in vain? Dare we deny her?

Denial of hard realities is the ultimate disgrace; to bury a painful memory is to piss on it and learn nothing from it. Bearing that in mind, let us now remember this:

If real equality existed, it would never have entered into the mind of Marc Lépine to gun her down; he would have seen her as someone with an equal right to the same education he wanted for himself, stopped blaming others, buckled down to the tasks at hand, and welcomed her as a colleague and comrade, not a "feminist" enemy. And perhaps neither she nor her classmates would have been as quick to defensively distance themselves from the women's movement as some of them were at the time. They would not have seen it as some kind of nasty shit-disturbing inappropriate thing, but as a right and just movement that had done much for them and that deserved due recognition and gratitude. And that gratitude would not be decorous; it might be as simple as saying proudly, even in the face of certain death: Yes, I am a feminist. And fuck you if you don't like it!

Is that an inappropriate thing to say, 21 years later, when all the hurting is supposed to be scarred over and decorously "remembered" but, in the final analysis, buried and forgotten?

Maybe. But you know what? I don't care about any of that.

You can run us down with horses, or gun us down with Rugers--we are still here. You can mouth platitudes while slyly trying to take away what we have won, but we won't let you. We are onto you. We reject your "respect" and your "appropriate" tokenism. We are still grieving, still raging and still fighting, because deep down in our blood, we know we are not equal yet.

And we are not going the hell away.

Well-behaved women seldom make history. --Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

Easter Island, WTF?

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The bloodstained hands of a Rapa Nui injured by police bullets tell a story.

All hell has broken loose on the island of Rapa Nui (otherwise known as Easter Island), and with it, all illusion that Chile is a modern democracy and not a colonial fiefdom. This Kaos en la Red report demonstrates otherwise, particularly at the end:

A police operation in the civic centre of Hanga Roa left thirty persons injured and resulted in the expulsion of the Tuko Tuki family from the lot they occupied there.

The actions began around 6 a.m., when the occupants were asleep. Without provocation, some 40 police officers arrived on the scene, and fired a shot at Gaspar Tepihe, who was badly wounded in the foot.

The officers also beat Ricardo Hito, who was badly hurt. They did the same with Roberto Ika Pakarati, with whom they were particularly violent. They also arrested Verena Ika Pakarati and Margarita Pakarati Tuki, against whom there was a judicial order to remove them from the plot of land they had taken. All were arrested.

Afterward, several Rapa Nui people gathered to protest the expulsion. They were watched by some 15 police officers. Around 8 a.m., 25 persons, armed with sticks and stones, tried to reoccupy the land, but were repelled with gunshots and steel pellets. Those were the worst moments, since the carabineros [Chilean militarized police] of the special forces not only used those weapons against those attacking them, but against a group of persons who had stayed at a respectful distance. Those were minutes of horror.

"Something never before seen on the Island," said Ina Araki, to Radio Bío Bío, of Chile. The bullets and pellets were spread out over the entire centre of Hanga Roa. Nine police contingents took part in the repression, while two hundred persons in the square sought refuge. Dozens of persons were injured in the shooting.

The worst injured were Ricardo Tepano and Leviante Araki, the president of the Rapa Nui Parliament. Tepano was struck in the eye by a shot pellet. Araki was gunned down by four policemen at point-blank range, who then proceeded to strangle him on the ground, with no regard for his rank. The police didn't miss a detail; they also burned the Rapa Nui flags they found there. They had done the same on September 7, when they expelled a group from the Hotel Hanga Roa. It is very probable that this action was the result of an order by the minister of the Interior, Rodrigo Hinzpeter, since the Rapa Nui clans had denounced him before the Human Rights Commission of the Chamber of Deputies.

Ricardo Hito was brutally tortured in the commissary of Mataveri. They would not even allow him to receive medical attention, despite his grave injuries.

That afternoon, photos published by the Rapa Nui People's Press team gave clear proof of the carabineros' unusual violence. However, without any proof, the Intendent of Valparaíso, Raúl Celis, told the press there had been 17 injured carabineros. Some media reported this as though it were fact. In spite of mentioning 17 injured, they showed no photos. The carbinero version of the story was that the occupiers threw Molotov cocktails at them, though there were no witnesses nor any evidence that this had occurred.

Celis also said that there had been three injured among the Rapa Nui, none of them gravely.

Nearly 16 Rapa Nui with injuries were brought to the island hospital. Others, just as injured, preferred not to go to hospital for fear of punishment. Around 8 p.m., most of the injured had been discharged. The four most badly injured remained hspitalized, among them Tepano and Araki.

By midday, while the Island was wracked by violence, on the mainland (Chile), the media began to realize the gravity of what had occurred. Immediately various political parties began to react. Senator Juan Pablo Letelier headed to the Moneda [presidential palace], where he spoke with the minister, Hinzpeter, who expressed his dismay at the police actions. Senator Alejandro Navarro gave a declaration in which he criticized in harsh terms the events that had taken place on the island. He implored the government not to criminalize the Rapa Nui cause, and not to militarize Easter Island. He feared that such repression would only strengthen demands for autonomy by islanders.

Hugo Gutiérrez, president of the Human Rights Commission of the Chamber of Deputies, promised to visit the island on Tuesday, December 7. He will be accompanied by a deputy, Sergio Aguiló.

Edie Tuki Hito says of what took place, in no uncertain terms: "This was a massacre." She says the police violence was out of all proportion. Tuki Hito says that together with the actions of December 3, relations between Chile and Rapa Nui were "irreversibly damaged."

Edie, who is staying in the Hotel Hanga Roa with about 30 relatives, feels that the Government of Chile "made a big mistake in treating our people this way."

On December 3, in the late afternoon, two Chilean Armed Forces planes landed at Mataveri Airport. According to various sources, more than a hundred police officers with anti-riot gear and machine guns were in them.

It is evident that the State of Chile has decided to impose its will by force of weapons, and do away in this manner with the self-determination of the Rapa Nui people. Only with solidarity at the international level, as well as within the island, can further bloodshed be avoided.

Filled with hope in these tragic moments, the thousands of messages of solidarity which we have received in the last 24 hours from all over the world. More than ever, we note that the struggle for liberation of our people crosses borders and creates ties which will be fundamental for freeing us from the oppressor state of Chile, which instead of giving us love and understanding, continues to beat us with the colonialist whip.

Translation mine.

Consider this another message of solidarity from abroad to the Rapa Nui people. They have been through so much, and it's still not over for them. Like the indigenous Mapuche, they too are shouting into a deaf ear, as far as Chile is concerned. Don't expect this situation to improve under Sebastián Piñera; if the part about the two planeloads of armed carabineros is true, and there is no reason to doubt it, then this violence was very much premeditated, and is a sign of further repressions to come.

Fuerza Rapa Nui. I wish I could say it in your native language, but I don't know a word of it, unfortunately.

December 5, 2010

Short 'n' Stubby: Ms. Manx goes all Wiki on us

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Ms. Manx has been watching the whole Wikileaks kerfuffle unfolding with some interest. She would like you to know that she finds this round a LOT more interesting than the bogus "Magic Laptop" incident of two years ago, when it looked like Wikileaks was being made an instrument, however inadvertently, of the State Dept. and its pals in the Colombian army. It seems in retrospect like a pre-emptive strike of sorts...something designed to discredit Wikileaks as a messenger by alienating leftists who might otherwise see it as a valuable tool for exposing government and corporate bullshit, corruption and other ugly things that we're not supposed to see.

But the Stumpy Cat DOES see, and she wouldn't be surprised if something were to come out on Wikileaks showing the Magic Laptop Incident in its true colors. She thinks it mighty significant that the Magic Laptop allegedly survived a missile attack on a FARC camp in the jungles of Ecuador, and wonders why, if it's possible for a scroungy Colombian guerrilla to get his hands on one, the president of the United States doesn't own a bomb-proof 'pute himself. Meanwhile, here are some interesting kitty-nomnoms she's found:

The woman who accused Julian Assange of sexual assault has, shall we say, a rather spotty past. Spottier than Ms. Manx's coat, and that's pretty damn spotty! Did you know she was kicked out of Cuba for working with a local CIA front group? Obviously, her "left-wing feminist" cover is now blown. Ms. Manx wonders if she plans on withdrawing those minor-league sex charges anytime soon. Maybe Julian Assange could send a wire transfer for that $715 US that is the real penalty for condomless sex in Sweden.

But of course, rather than taking the easy way out, Julian Assange plans to fight it. Obviously not in Sweden, though. And given that the US embassy in Stockholm announced that that country is no longer neutral, gee, what a shocker!

Meanwhile, Ms. Manx has learned something truly shocking: Even though cute widdle emo-kid Justin Bieber and his cute widdle emo-kid hair are supposedly a forever-trending topic on Twitter, the truth is that they only get a fraction of the tweetage that Wikileaks does. Yet the #Wikileaks hashtag doesn't show up anywhere in the top trends alongside all the saccharine trash that's supposedly trending worldwide. Neither does the also-popular #cablegate. Is someone gaming the tweeter? A tweepish friend snarks that for a little extra, you can lose the "promoted" label that usually runs alongside paid "trending" tweetage. Maybe, says the Stumpy Cat as she pensively scratches her ears, that's not such a joke.

JimBobby has a work-around that may still be working by the time this note goes to air; give it a try. And if it's not, here's a whole slew of mirrors*, which is growing apace. There are lessons to be learned from all this, sayeth the Manx.

And for serious analysis of the "what it all means" of it all, Eric Margolis is your go-to guy.

* Addendum: Prog-blogging buddy Rick has a mirror site up as well, here.

Music for a Sunday: Too sweet to resist!

A tweet from Dave Weigel alerted me to this one. He's cute, funky, and colorful, and his message couldn't be more positive. Or catchy. Love him!

December 4, 2010

Wankers of the Week: Wikileaks edition

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Well! How's everyone enjoying those Wikileaks? Those awful, incriminating things that whole governments are trying to ban, and mainstream media outlets are trying to censor? Well, no wonder--they make governments and media alike look like terrible asses, and have so far only served to confirm what I knew or suspected all along. Whether they'll actually set any heads a-rollin' is doubtful, since there's a "so what's new?" feel to the whole thing. But they certainly have brought out some interesting--and wankish--reactions from a whole coterie of usual and unusual suspects. And here's which ones leapt out at me this week, in no particular order:

1. The Fucking White House. Of course, we know why THEY would want to censor Wikileaks. The stated reason ("endanger countless lives, blah blah") is bullshit. The only thing these leaks will endanger is the political and diplomatic careers of a relative few, who are making all the messes that others are losing their lives trying to clean the fuck up. I don't hope for more honesty or transparency out of Washington or any of its allies (much less decency on the international stage), but I do hope they're all soiling their pants at the prospect of having them pulled down more often in future.

2. The Fucking Government of Australia. It's rolled to the right, and nothing makes that more obvious than its latest foray into damage control. I can understand the bit about not linking to anti-abortion sites--those things are just vile, and actively promote murder in many cases--but Wikileaks does nothing of the sort. If anything, it may end up saving lives--by laying warmongers' backsides bare, and forcing countries currently at war to wrap it up or risk more casualties in the not-so-distant future. If the Government of Australia thinks this is a bad thing, they can go fuck a dingo. Or better still, maybe the next Wikileaks release will send the dingo to fuck them.

3. The Fucking Saudi King. Requesting that the US (under their beloved BushCo, natch) bomb Iran? How fucking insane is that? More proof that unelected hereditary monarchs are Bhad Nhews.

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4. The Fucking Mossad. They, too, conspired against Iran. And worse, they tried to drive a wedge between it and Syria (one of the few Arab countries on speaking terms with Iran at the moment.) I don't suppose they'll be getting any warmer reception in Damascus than they are right now--and right now, it is ice cold. Oh, and get this: They, along with the Saudis, are trying to shut down Al-Jazeera...which just happens to be one of the best and most honest TV channels in the world, and which reports unflinchingly (and often, unflatteringly) on what Israel, the Saudis and the US are up to in the region. Quelle coïncidence!

5. Peter Fucking King. Wikileaks is "a foreign terrorist organization"! For what? For revealing embarrassing information that most of us probably already knew or suspected from other reports not nearly so heavily hyped. Oh, my pearls! Where is the fainting couch?

6. William R. Fucking Timken, Jr. "Warning" Germany not to prosecute the CIA agents who kidnapped an innocent German, Khaled el-Masri, while he was on vacation in Macedonia? Oh yeah, heaven forfend that justice should be done. Good thing the Germans didn't stand for that shit. Arrest warrants are out (with Interpol) for no fewer than 13 CIA agents. Next mission, should Wikileaks choose to accept it: Exposing the fuckers so justice can finally be done. Those arrest warrants are now three years old and time's a-wastin'.

7. David Fucking Frum. Why?

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That's why. Once a neo-con hack, always a neo-con hack. Dave, as usual, you dishonor the memory of your mother, who was a REAL journalist. Do you think she appreciates being rolled, rotisserie-style, in her grave?

8. Jim Fucking Judd. Hey Jim, ever consider the possibility--make that PROBABILITY--that your spooks, and those in the US, were wrong about Omar Khadr? Or are you one of those "some people are more entitled to basic human rights than others" types? Oh wait, you're a spook. I guess that answers THAT question.

9. The Fucking British Royal Family. Prince Andrew as pro-big-bidness wanker, but only in Kyrgyzstan, where he thinks the media's not listening--fie on Randy Andy. And then there's all that other royal misconduct--the sexual stuff that's been deemed too hot for the chickenshit media to handle, much less the criminal courts to bring to trial. My money is on racist Prince Phil buggering the butler, how 'bout you?

10. Sarah Fucking Palin. What, did you think she was gonna shut her big piehole over all this non-treason (Wikileaks being an international site, not a US one)? And oh, what a comparison: her latest trashy little screed is supposedly on the same level of national and international importance with all those embarrassing cables from US embassies abroad! Was there ever such a legend-in-her-own-mind? Maybe she'd have an easier time keeping her own shit under wraps if she weren't such a compulsive fucking attention harlot.

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11. Jean-David Fucking Levitte. Again with the "Chávez is Mugabe" meme. The only thing those two have in common is being non-white (and in Chavecito's case, only partially of African descent). Hmmm, do you suppose Sarko's aide-de-cramp is a wee bit racist? As for the bit about Brazil "not supporting" the 'Cito: C'est un tas de merde, bien sûr. Lula's never had anything but kind words for his Venezuelan amigo. The right-wingers in the Brazilian parliament don't count, either, seeing as they're not the ruling coalition.

12. Bibi Fucking Netanyahu. Just because some Gulf state Arab leaders are also chickenshits about Iran doesn't mean you're vindicated. Or justified in continual warmongering. STFU, already.

13. Sever Fucking Plocker. See above, and yell "BULLSHIT!" to the notion that the entire world shares the perpetual panics of the Chicken Little Likud party. It most certainly does NOT. Even all of Israel doesn't do that.

14. Tom Fucking Flanagan. Why?

That's why. Harpo's right-wing nut-job mentor called openly for the death of Julian Assange. This is shit that you don't even call for in jest; death threats are illegal in Canada, in case you need reminding, Perfesser. PS: That word "manly", Tom, does not mean what you think it means. Next time you feel like doing the old chest-thump, just grow a fucking mustache and raise money for prostate cancer research like a REAL man!

15. Fucking Amazon. They'd alienated me already with their willingness to carry a how-to book on pedophilia (as well as a few other sickly self-published tomes--now removed, after protests--promoting "understanding" thereof). Reason: They "don't believe in censorship". Now they've thrown Wikileaks off their servers. I'm sorry, what did you fuckers say you believed in, again? More proof, in case you needed it, that corporations know no morality. And more reason, in case you needed it, to boycott them this holiday shopping season. Buy your books anywhere BUT there. I suggest you patronize your local brick-and-mortar retailers. PS: What Daniel Ellsberg said!

16. The Fucking New York Times. Too cowardly to name the names of the US diplomats that disparaged Canada. How do you like THAT, eh? We're being collectively insulted by nameless spooks. The Paper of Record doesn't believe in recording essential details like who said what about whom. Even when all they do is talk shit about my home and native land.

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17. Glenn Fucking Beck. Well, this was predictable. Everything is one big Soros conspiracy to Biffy. And it's only a matter of time before Soros sues him as he did to Ezra Fucking Levant.

18. Ann Fucking Coulter. Well, well. Another usual suspect crops up with another usual argument: Gays cause Wikileaks! Yes, Bradley Manning is gay; so fucking what? He's a hero for singlehandedly trying to muck out two Augean stables simultaneously--the US military and the US diplomatic corps. If that's what being gay does to one, more people ought to be born that way; Manning has all his marbles well placed. Can't say the same about the Coultergeist. And yeah, Ann, I'd be truly surprised if even the self-hating homo-cons invite you to any more of their little whoopty-doos. I think at this rate, you've alienated everyone but the bony nag in the mirror.

19. Joe Fucking Lieberman. Figures that the wiggly worm who was appointed bearer of Dubya's royal pissbucket would be the one trying to censor the truth about his activities off the Internets. Too bad for him that the revelations just keep a-comin'.

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20. The Fucking Government of Sweden. No longer neutral. And apparently, too wussy to announce it themselves--the fucking US embassy in Stockholm had to do it. When it wasn't too busy spying, that is.

21. The Fucking Government of Afghanistan. A clusterfuck? No. Who'd of thunk it? Hamid Karzai corrupt? Say it ain't so. Well, I did say, for years and years, that he was Unocal's man in the 'stan, so this is all about as surprising as learning that the Sun rises in the east. Will set in the west; film at 6. I might be surprised that he's been critical of the US, though; his points on that one are well taken. Pity he doesn't act appropriately on them. And what's this about private contractors and dancing boys? Shouldn't heads be rolling over this one?

22. Philip Fucking Murphy. Speaking of heads rolling, this one probably will. The soon-to-be-ex US ambassador to Germany is just one of many examples of so-called diplomats who beshat themselves on the job with what looks an awful lot like espionage. So much so that the German government has now called for his withdrawal.

23. Helmut Fucking Metzner. See above. He's the mole who fed the spooks in the US embassy, apparently. And he has already been fired by the German government. Unlike Gringolandia, Germany is a place where fuck-ups don't fall up. They go down, where they belong.

24. The Fucking British Foreign Office. US and UK strategic interests: more important than the homeless exile of a bunch of islanders from somewhere in the Indian Ocean, apparently. We could sort of guess this just by the fact that nobody's done squat to give the Diego Garcians their home back. But the declaration of a military base as a "marine protection zone" has got to be the most cynical fucking bit of chutzpah ever.

25. and 26. Robert Fucking Gates and Mike Fucking Mullen. Why?

That's why. These two pious frauds are talking out of their uniform-clad asses. Nobody has been killed by a single leaked document or video; nobody, in other words, has died as a result of that document or video being released. Yet we have a brave young soldier in jail, facing over 50 years in federal prison, and a webmaster on the run, staying one step ahead of what's got to be the most spurious prosecution of all time. (Comically, the only thing it seems they can really get him on is an alleged Swedish sex offence--"sex by surprise", meaning failing to use a condom--usually punishable only by a fine amounting to $715 US.) Given that US military leaders make such a big tra-ra about fighting for freedoms, such as freedom of speech--this is hilarious. Or would be, if it weren't so goddamned sad.

27. Jeffrey Fucking Kuhner. Another murder-mongering dickweed calling for the death of a man who has caused no deaths. This would be an excellent time to shut down the Washington Moonie Times, which has been a veritable clearinghouse for vile bile and senseless provocation ever since Sun Myung Fucking Moon acquired it.

28. Ezra Fucking Levant. Same as above, only substitute the QMI media chain. Vile, vile motherfuckers all. PS: I won't be paying to watch him shit his pants on TV, either.

29. and 30. William Fucking Brownfield and Patrick Fucking Duddy. Yes, they WERE sent to interfere and foster putsches in Venezuela. No, Chavecito is NOT crazy when he makes accusations against them and the State Dept. that sent them. He knew this all already; Wikileaks only confirmed his and every other thinking Venezuelan's suspicions. Any fucking questions?

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And finally, to all you free-screechers out there who defend the "right" to be a Kluker, a neo-Nazi, a militant homophobe and/or misogynist, a doodler who crudely portrays Mohammed (particularly with a bomb in his turban), and any other form of odious speech designed to provoke warlike reactions and foster murderous hate. What's the matter with you wimpy bastards? Where's your ringing denunciation of this massive and very real repression of speech? Why are you not supporting Wikileaks right now? Why are you actively calling instead for the site to be censored? Oh, I see...it undermines your whole worldview, particularly the pro-war parts. Well, too bad. Can't help you there. It's not my fault that you've been full of shit all along. It's not my fault if you've made bad life decisions based on right-wing crapaganda. And it's not my problem if the wave of information finally sweeps you kicking and screaming into the 21st century, where the world is no longer one of empires and superpowers, but one where your right to swing your fist ends where other countries' noses begin. Suck it up, bitches, because this is NOT going away.

Good night, and get fucked!

Economics for Dummies: The dark side of the Magic Kingdom

If you've ever wondered what life is like behind the scenes at Walt Disney World in Florida, here are some stories the company doesn't want you to hear. Workers underpaid; health and safety concerns unaddressed; the same cast members who make visitors smile being forced to depend on charity and food stamps and second or third jobs in order to get by. If the flibbers had their way and all government welfare programs were killed, so too would Disneyworld be, because no one can afford to work there without some kind of social assistance. The shareholders may be smiling, but those whose work brings in those massive profits are ashamed to tears. It's a long way from the stated goals of the late Walt Disney himself.

Video in two parts; click through at the end for part II.

December 3, 2010

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Chavecito at his best

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Just another typical Chavecito moment--comforting a child displaced by heavy rains and flooding in Caracas. This is what Chavecito is best at...looking out for his people in their hour of need:

The president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, will not be attending the 20th Ibero-American summit, having decided not to travel to Argentina in order to attend to the flooding problems in his country, according to official sources.

Instead, it is expected that foreign minister Nicolás Maduro will head up the Venezuelan delegation to the summit of Latin American heads of state, gathered under the slogan "Education for Social Inclusion".

Other leaders not attending are Evo Morales, of Bolivia; Daniel Ortega, of Nicaragua; and José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, of Spain.

The Venezuelan opposition, which launched all manner of speculations surrounding the presidential visit to Argentina, remains without a response to the decision taken by the president.

Translation mine.

This isn't the first time heavy rains around December have caused catastrophic flooding in Venezuela. Around the time Venezuelans voted to ratify their new constitution in 1999, the skies opened up...and stayed open, to tragic effect. Thousands were swept to their death in mudslides on the coast of Vargas state. It was, quite possibly, Chavecito's finest hour as he directed his troops to evacuate displaced people from the stricken region. In fact, he himself was there for the evacuation; no mere figurehead, he led the charge hands-on. One of my favorite photos of him from that time shows him in a similar pose to the picture at the top--in uniform, holding a child. He's lifting a little girl to safety from a lifeboat. Another shows him outdoors, giving his troops their orders; the young men's eyes are glued to him. (I can't find them online, but you can see them in Bart Jones's bio, ¡Hugo!. Highly recommended reading, BTW.)

That last paragraph is killer, too. The oppos were calling for protest marches--against Chavecito, as usual--even as the flooding was taking place. In the end, the demos were cancelled, and all their mouthing off is now doubly for nothing. Chavecito is doing more for the flood victims than all of them combined ever will. And that's entirely in character for both parties, which is why Chavecito is president and the opposition's so-called leaders are not.

December 2, 2010

Wikileaks/Cablegate: Hillary has an explanation for Cristina

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Wouldn't you have loved to be a fly on the wall when this little chit-chat was going down?

The US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, made a phone call today to the president of Argentina, Cristina Fernández, having to do with the confidential documents made public by Wikileaks, according to diplomatic sources.

The state news agency, Telam, reported that Fernández was "surprised" by Clinton's midday call, in which the latter offered "explanations" over the diplomatic telegrams referring to Argentina.

The Argentine minister of external affairs, Héctor Timerman, also spoke last night with the State Department's Undersecretary of Political Affairs, William Burns, according to the agency.

The first leaked documents revealed that the US State Department sought information via its embassy in Buenos Aires over the mental state and spirits of president Cristina Fernández.

The telegrams also revealed links between a high-level functionary with corruption and narcotrafficking, and that the Argentine president had promised to "co-operate with the Government of the United States in Bolivia" to improve the relationship between the two countries.

Translation mine.

That last little bit sounds rather encouraging, considering how ex-ambassador Goldilocks--Dubya's man--fucked things up between Bolivia and the US by hanging out with putschists. It also speaks to something else: Cristina has been one of Evo's most outspoken friends. And she is very critical of US imperialism. Apparently the State Dept. got that message loud and clear, although it also made demeaning reference to her mental health. As though one couldn't be an anti-imperialist and sane at the same time. (Actually, the opposite is true--you'd have to be insane to support imperialism!)

The big story here, of course, is that the State Dept. has been badly embarrassed by the revelation of its spooky business, and by the confirmation that all these uppity LatAm democrats have, in fact, NOT been talking out their tinfoil hats whenever they condemned the US for supporting this fascist faction or that. Not only has an undersecretary spoken to the Argentine foreign minister, but the fact that Hill herself has had to call Cristina, well...that's bigbigBIG. It means there's gonna be an awful lot of fence-mending. That's good. Let's hope it goes beyond the superficial. It's no use apologizing and saying "it won't happen again"...only to let it happen again, this time with more secrecy. It's not the secrecy that needs to change, it's the behavior that's being hushed up.

And here's a word to whomever at the State Dept. is reading me: If you're smart, you'll knock off the interfering, quit financing fake democrats, and learn to do business honorably. Yes, that's right: negotiate with the actual elected leaders upfront, in good faith. No more Wilsonian carrot-and-stick bullshit; manipulation and bullying are out. These people aren't idiots. They elect their own leaders now; you don't get to pick and choose those for them. They might even quit yelling "Yankee go home" if the Yanks would only learn how to behave. And how to behave is simple: QUIT ACTING LIKE YOU OWN THE PLACE!!!

Now, I wonder who that corrupt, narco-connected "high-level functionary" is, and what country s/he is from; the article wasn't at all precise about that. (I can only translate what I see, after all.) Spidey-sense tells me it's someone with the CIA.

December 1, 2010

Forced and coerced sterilizations for HIV-positive women in Chile

For anyone who seriously believes Chile is a model democracy, consider this shocker: The Chilean government does not and never has trusted women to make their own reproductive health decisions. It places the matter in the hands of doctors, who often arbitrarily decide to sterilize HIV-positive women against their will. And the Chilean government, which has the power to compel these doctors to stop, does not do so.

What these women need is support and information on how to better look after themselves and their babies. What they get is threats: that their children will be taken from them and placed for adoption. It wouldn't surprise me to learn that they don't get adequate medical care for their infections, either. And the risk of infection with any surgery is greater than if there had been none at all; sterilization is no exception. In the case of a woman with HIV/AIDS, the risk is greater still; if she is already exhibiting signs of immune suppression, she is in danger. Apparently none of that matters to the doctors who do these unwanted procedures.

Happy World AIDS Day.

Canada disgraced in Latin America by yet another mining company

Late Night Sunrise from Michael Watts on Vimeo.

Its name is Pacific Rim, it is an environmental abuser, and it is menacing the people of El Salvador. What must Canada's Salvadoran immigrants, many of whom are refugees here from their country's dirty civil war, be thinking of this? Probably the same thing I'm thinking: that Pacific Rim is a dirty bully, a corruptor and a national disgrace, in at least two nations. I'm happy to see how the Salvadorans are fighting back and refusing to be intimidated. We could learn a lot from them up here in the Great Oblivious North.