January 4, 2011

Let's play a little game...

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It's called "Who haz Teh Stoopid about Venezuela?"

Our first contestant: The Miami New Times. In spite of their posing as a liberal alternative paper, they follow all the conventional media lines--and lies--about certain places and presidents. Take, for example, their "Riptide 2.0" report on the bad soap opera of Carlos Andrés Pérez, which came out today, even though I've been blogging on this since...oh, LAST YEAR:

Perez, who died of a heart attack at age 88 back on Dec. 25, was first scheduled to be buried in Miami after a mass at St. Thomas the Apostle last Wednesday. But his wife back in Venezuela, Blanca Perez, whom he never divorced, filed a court motion to halt the burial.

Hours later, Matos and his Miami daughters issued a statement seemingly ending the feud, telling El Nuevo Herald they were "not going to challenge" his wife's move to bury him in Venezuela.

But they've apparently had a change of heart. Riptide left messages at Cecilia Matos' home in Brickell Key and with her lawyer, Juan Antunez, but we haven't heard back yet.

The AP reports that Matos' family denies they ever reached an agreement to send him home, telling the service that "this is in the hands of our lawyers now."

Perez's embalmed body, meanwhile, is resting in a Miami funeral home until the families -- or the courts -- sort out the mess.

We know what you're really wondering. What does Hugo Chavez -- who ousted Perez from power in 1992 -- think should happen?

Um, Chávez didn't "oust Pérez from power in 1992". He led a failed military uprising and went to jail for it. It was the Supreme Court of Venezuela that REMOVED Pérez the following year--for massive embezzlement of public funds, in case you're wondering. As for Chávez, he wasn't in the picture again until 1994, when he was pardoned by then-president Rafael Caldera.

You may also be wondering who's responsible for that piece of belated CAP stoopid. That was one Tim Elfrink. He also calls Venezuela a "Bolivarian paradise", no doubt with more snark injected into his tone than there is margarine in a Butterball turkey. Tim, thanks for playing. Go stand in the corner. And pick up that dunce cap you see there; it's for you.

Now, for our next contestant. Andrew Malcolm of the Los Angeles Times characterizes Chavecito as "obstreperous". Andrew, Andrew, Andrew...you say that like it's a BAD thing. All it really means is that the man has substantially more backbone than, oh, say, a well-trodden doormat. Nice of you, too, not to note, not even in the name of fairness, that the US ambassador in question, Larry Palmer, has made overt statements before your congress demonstrating his willingness to interfere in Venezuelan politics, which his posting as a diplomat expressly forbids him from doing. And that the Venezuelan ambassador, Bernardo Alvarez, who had spent seven years in the States without a misstep, was "booted" strictly in retaliation for Venezuela's rejection of the meddlesome (and appallingly ignorant) Mr. Palmer. No, instead, you just dug up that old hambone about how "badly" Chavecito behaved at the UN a few years ago, when he dared to diss Little Georgie Bushie. (That speech got some appreciative laughs, BTW. It was intended to.) Andrew, go join your Miamero buddy Tim there in the corner, and pick up that second dunce cap. It's all yours, bud.

Our third contestant is FUX Snooze. Using the utterly discredited Andrew Breitbart as your source? That is not only lazy journalism, that's flat-out crapaganda. Do you even want to bother with the report? I don't. The quality of the comments tells me all I need to know about the informativity of the piece. Anonymous FUX Snoozer, go to the corner and pick up your dunce cap. It's marked #3. (You can read numbers, right?)

And finally, the Post and Courier of Charleston, South Carolina. The what? of where?--you say? Yeah, exactly. I don't know them from a pile of shit either. Which makes their reporting...what? Simple logic, my friends...use it and infer. They've devoted a charming piece of fact-free unsigned editorial cowardice to calling two elected leaders "dictators". This is the same crapaganda I can read every day, anywhere else. It's easy. TOO easy. Any of you pros ever hear of a thing called JOURNALISM? Here's a newsflash: YOUR DIPLOMATS LIE. That's all that Cablegate has revealed so far about Venezuela. Do some serious digging and you might figure that out. And while you're at it, you might learn the real reasons behind Chavecito's decree rule; you might be unpleasantly surprised to learn that it actually has to do with catastrophic flooding in the region, not "the lame-duck congress", which is a strictly US concept and thus inapplicable in Venezuela. The day you send an actual person down there to observe the actual situation and write something other than this boilerplate bullshit, you be sure and alert Google. Until then, you just go pick up dunce cap #4 and sit in the corner with the others.

So, gentle readers: Who do you think should win the Golden Duncecap? Drop a comment in the slot below and let me know who you'd pick, and why.

Gerry Rafferty has passed

Just learned it from the tweeter. RIP to a great musical hero. Here's my fave of his:

That singing guitar, so sweet and understated. Perfection.

January 3, 2011

Short 'n' Stubby: Monday Meow Mix

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Happy Monday, everyone! Ms. Manx hopes your New Year isn't off to too rocky a start. Here's some nuggets from the Stumpy Cat's bowl for all of you today:

Ms Manx is shocked, SHOCKED!--well, not really--to learn that Chris Hedges is a socialist. And that global crapitalism has made him so. She is sure that he's not the only one. Dave Winer, too, has come out of the commie-pinko closet to assert that the whole world is socialist--like it or not.

Meanwhile, the LAT is awfully squirmy about Dilma Rousseff's Marxist guerrilla past. What they neglect to mention is why SHE was a socialist (and still is)--Brazil was under a right-wing dictatorship at the time, in which the markets were free and the people were not. Ms. Manx is shocked (but not terribly surprised) that such a significant fact would not be deemed worth mentioning. Indeed, the very fact that Brazil was a dictatorship and that Dilma, their new president, was tortured during it, was buried midway down the piece. It's a well-known journalistic trick, that, and the Stumpy Cat thinks you should be aware of it--most people read the beginning and end, but only skim the middle.

Ms. Manx is amused, however, to find confirmation that conservatives are cowards. Little wonder, then, that a disproportionate amount of courage exists on the left, which is precisely where all the positive changes in the world are coming from. Dilma was a Marxist guerrilla in Brazil; Pepe Mujica, a former Tupamaro, is now president of Uruguay; and of course, the Stumpy Cat's favorite guerrilla of all time is Che Guevara, whom no one could accuse of cowardice and still expect to be taken seriously.

And speaking of people whom no one could accuse of cowardice, how about Ted Rall? He's taken a lot of flak for his cartoons (several of which have appeared here) and his articles, which question the status quo so hard, they're just shy of waterboarding it. Ms. Manx says "Welcome to the barricades, comrade!"

Finally, Ms. Manx is puzzled by the paucity of female authors in leading literary magazines. And she's not the only one.

January 2, 2011

Music for a Sunday: And you wanted to dance...

I loved these guys during my '80s teens; I still do, though I think there are other bands from the same era that have stuck with me more. This song and video, though, are just about perfect. The video was shot in Sri Lanka and those aerial views of the temple are to die for.

January 1, 2011

Photos du Soir: Seen at Dilma Rousseff's inauguration

Brazil's first female president was sworn in today, but the most interesting photos of the day weren't of Dilma. They were of Hillary Clinton, hesitating over a handshake with you-know-who:

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Doesn't it look like Juan Manuel Santos (president of Colombia) and Sebastián Piñera (of Chile) are about to say something? Like, "Don't worry, you won't catch commie cooties"?

But wait...wait...

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Aha! Grip 'n' grin accomplished. See, Hill? That wasn't so hard after all!

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?

cap-funeral-coffin.jpg

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:

cap-funeral-coffin2.jpg

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

popcorn.jpg

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:

cap-funeral-flag.jpg

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:

cap-funeral-card.jpg

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

gun-pants-tat.jpg

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:

chavecito-refugees.jpg

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:

chavecito-pardons.jpg

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:

chavecito-xmas-baby.jpg

...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:

rae-meredith-tweet.jpg

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:

holland-meredith-tweet.jpg

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?

tommy-douglas-greatest.jpg

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.

Fear doesn't travel well; just as it can warp judgment, its absence can diminish memory's truth. What terrifies one generation is likely to bring only a puzzled smile to the next.
--Arthur Miller, "Why I Wrote 'The Crucible'", The New Yorker, October 21, 1996

All opinions here are the brain-wrackings of Sabina C. Becker, unless otherwise credited. If you cite them, please give credit where due.

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