Monthly Archives: April 2009

How about the ‘PC flu’? (Part II)

To follow up on what I posted on April 28:

Scientists say that the majority of the genetic code of the new human-swine-bird-hybrid influenza virus comes from swine — and that it is accurate, therefore, to call the new outbreak of influenza “swine flu.”

(Quotes from virologists include: “Scientifically, this is a swine virus” and “It’s a flu virus from a swine; there’s no other name to call it.” That’s good enough for me.)

Ha ha ha! Take that, Israel!

The World Health Organization announced today that it will stop calling the current influenza outbreak “swine flu” in order to prevent the unnecessary slaughter of pigs, such as has happened in Egypt.

I’m all for preventing the unnecessary slaughter of pigs — in fact, all of us probably should go vegetarian anyway — but why do I have the sinking feeling that primarily the WHO caved in to the pork industry? And maybe even in to Israel as well?

In any case, “swine flu” already has stuck, and I think that it thus is irresponsible to change the name of the outbreak at this point in the game. Changing the name at this point probably will cause some confusion, such as whether the new name adopted by the WHO — the onerous “H1N1 influenza A” — is yet another new outbreak of influenza.

It will remain “swine flu” to me.

Oink.

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When losing is really winning

Veteran Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania discusses his ...

Associated Press photo

Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter, who yesterday announced his defection from the Repugnican Party to the Democratic Party, speaks at the White House this morning. Specter overnight became Satan incarnate to the wingnut lunatic fringe, who have tried to spin Specter’s defection as good for their dying party.

Before Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania yesterday defected from the Repugnican Party to the Democratic Party, the Repugnicans were sending out fundraising e-mails (all or most of them in regards to Repugnican Norm “Sore Loserman” Coleman’s refusal to concede defeat to his Democratic opponent Al Franken)  about how critically important it was to prevent a filibuster-proof 60-senator Democratic majority in the Senate.

Now, all of a sudden, it apparently is not so critically vitally important to stop that filibuster-proof Democratic majority. Wingnut Bill Kristol wrote yesterday (this is via Salon.com):

I wonder if today’s Arlen Specter party switch, this time to the president’s party, won’t end up being bad for President Obama and the Democrats.

With the likely seating of Al Franken from Minnesota, Democrats will have 60 seats in the Senate, giving Obama unambiguous governing majorities in both bodies.

[Obama will] be responsible for everything. GOP obstructionism will go away as an issue, and Democratic defections will become the constant worry and story line. This will make it easier for GOP candidates in 2010 to ask to be elected to help restore some checks and balance in Washington…

So, losing Specter may help produce greater GOP gains in November 2010, and a brighter Republican future.

So winning is important until it’s clear that you can’t win. Then it’s not so important — and, in fact, losing might actually mean winning!

The Repugnicans just can’t lose, can they?

Except that they already have lost.

P.S. Salon.com quotes another Repugnican as having written: “Notice to Republicans: Arlen Specter changing parties is good for the Democrats and President Obama and bad for us. If you think otherwise, put down the Ann Coulter book and go get some fresh air.”

And I certainly don’t recall the Repugnicans worrying about it when they controlled the White House and both houses of Congress. They certainly didn’t share power with the Dems in order to prevent blowback, but they rode high on the hog, drunk with power.

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How about the ‘PC flu’?

A pig is seen inside its enclosure at a farm in Spain's ...

Reuters photo

“Swine” is the new four-letter word.

My God. First the Israelis whined that calling the new human-pig-bird-hybrid influenza outbreak the “swine flu” is offensive to Jews, whose archaic religious beliefs forbid them to eat pork.

Now, apparently, the pork industry is concerned that calling the new flu oubreak “swine flu” is harming the pork industry.

First off, fuck Israel.

If Jews and Muslims want to continue their antiquated, utterly irrational and non-scientific belief that swine and certain other animals are “dirty” while other animals are “clean,” that’s their right, but they have no right to force their ignorant, superstitious beliefs on the rest of us who are living in the year 2009.

“Swine flu” is just fine with me. The United States, which, unlike Israel, is not a theocracy, has kissed Israel’s victim-mentality ass quite enough already, thank you.

And the pork producers can go pork themselves, too. I don’t care about their profits. The capitalists have too much control over things anyway; we’re going to allow them to dictate to us what we may and may not call things?

The only problem that I have with “swine flu” is that it apparently is technically incomplete, as the new influenza virus that apparently has killed more than 150 people in Mexico thus far apparently is a genetic mixture of human, swine and bird influenza viruses.

But “human-swine-bird-hybrid flu” is too long, and the new virus is believed to have originated in swine in Mexico, so “swine flu” is just fine.

The Mexican people are fortunate in that thus far the new flu virus isn’t being called the “Mexican flu,” a la the “Spanish flu” of 1918. Mexico has enough problems without being associated with a deadly flu pandemic. (Israel apparently so generously suggested that the new flu be called “Mexican flu,” however. Of course, while Israel is kept afloat with billions of American tax dollars yet issues marching orders to the United States, Mexico has none such luck.)

In any event, let’s worry more about containing this new virus than about being politically correct in what we fucking call it.

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‘Socialism’ is gaining ground

Gee, for a “socialist” (“socialist” = baaaaad) president, Barack Obama is kicking ass in the polls.

National polls taken this month show that about two-thirds of Americans approve of the job that Obama has done thus far.

The Repugnican brand name is so far down the toilet that today Repugnican Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania announced that he’s switching to the Democratic Party. Whether Specter’s move is just opportunistic or not, it still shows that the Repugnican Party is going the way of the dinosaurs that its members don’t believe in.

Adapt or die, and the Repugnican Party has refused to adapt. It still caters to “Christo”fascists, white supremacists, misogynists and homophobes, for fuck’s sake. The world continues to evolve while the Repugnican Party remains stuck in the past. Left Behind, ironically, is what’s happening to the wingnuts.

Anyway, once Repugnican Norm “Sore Loserman” Coleman finally loses his battle with Democrat Al Franken for Minnesota’s seat in the U.S. Senate, the Democrats will have a 60-seat filibuster-proof majority, enabling the Obama adminstration to enact its agenda — the agenda that the majority of the American people voted for — with greater ease. 

And how is “socialism” doing in the United States?

Salon.com recently noted that

…rather than damaging Obama by tagging him with red paint, it’s possible that the [Repugnicans are] just making “socialism” more popular by identifying it with a well-liked president.

A Rasmussen poll from earlier this month shows that capitalism only beats socialism 53 percent to 20 [percent], and among adults under 30, the split narrows to 37 [percent] to 33 [percent].

Exactly. If the damage that the unelected Bush regime wreaked upon the nation for eight long nightmarish years is representative of capitalism and Repugnicanism (and it is) and the national recovery that the actually-elected Obama administration represents “socialism,” then the Repugnicans and the capitalists are the best advertisement for “socialism” that the “socialists” could ever hope for.

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Back to the future

File:AbuGhraibAbuse-standing-on-box.jpg

File:Abu Ghraib prison abuse.jpg

No, we never truly atoned for the Abu Ghraib House of Horrors. Instead, we swept it under the rug, because being an American means never having to say that you’re sorry, much more actually atoning for your sins. Maybe next month’s release of even hundreds more images of the abuse of detainees at the hands of their American military “liberators” under the command of the unelected, mass-murdering Bush regime will force the United States of America to finally atone for its sins against those it claimed it was “liberating.” 

I haven’t said much on the whole issue of torture, because what is there to say?

Torture is wrong. (Always. If you call yourself a Christian, as most Repugnicans do, ask yourself whom Jesus, himself a victim of torture — and a victim of the death penalty, which the Repugnicans also overwhelmingly support — would torture.)

Torture is criminal. Criminals — all criminals, not just poor, non-white, non-Repugnican, non-powerful criminals — should be pr0secuted, fairly and appropriately, for their crimes.

I have hesitated to write about the torture issue, I think, because I’ve thought that the whole issue is so complicated, with so many legal twists and turns, that I, a non-lawyer, couldn’t really illuminate the issue of torture. But is torture really that complicated an issue? Do the paragraphs above not pretty much sum it up?

The bottom line is that the United States of America cannot go forward as a nation until and unless as a nation it acknowledges its sins of the past. Really acknowledges. Which means not just paying lip-service acknowledgment, but really examining the national wrongs that were committed — and committing ourselves to never allow these wrongs to happen again.*

We, as a nation, never did that with the Vietraq War. We, as a nation, never have have apologized to the Iraqi people for having allowed our unelected, mass-murdering dictator, George W. Bush, and his henchpeople illegally, immorally, unprovokedly and unjustly invade their nation in March 2003 for the war profits of then-Vice President Dick Cheney’s no-contract-bidding war-profiteering corporation Halliburton and the other war-profiteering subsidiaries of BushCheneyCorp.

We, as a nation, lie that we truly believed the Bush regime’s lies that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and posed some sort of threat to the United States when the fact is that we, as a nation, didn’t care whether Iraq actually was the problem or not (and it was not); we just wanted retaliation for 9/11, just wanted some Arab/Muslim nation to pay for 9/11.

Today, we — even President Barack Obama — tell the Iraqi people that it’s time for them to stand on their own two feet, as though the Iraqi people had asked us to destroy their nation in 2003 and cause the deaths of more than 110,000 innocent Iraqis, which is The Associated Press’ conservative body count.

Fewer than 3,000 Americans died on Sept. 11, 2001. More than 110,000 innocent Iraqis have died as a result of the Vietraq War, which, although Americans will deny it now, was some insane “retaliation” for 9/11.

Only the United States’ partner in war crimes and crimes against the humanity, Israel, has anything near such an insane, evil sense of proportion. (But at least the bloodthirsty Israelis can attack the group that actually is their enemy, the Palestinians, whereas the United States, with dumbfuck Bush at the helm, didn’t even strike back at the right nation; not a single of the 19 9/11 hijackers was from Iraq, but 15 of them were from U.S. ally Saudi Arabia.)

So that’s more than 110,000 innocent Iraqis unjustly and unnecessarily dead because of the United States of America and still millions of dumbfuck Americans scratch their heads and query themselves and each other like they did in the days following Sept. 11, 2oo1: Why do they hate us so much?

We, as a nation, not only have yet to apologize for the Vietraq War (but have only told the Iraqis, whom we “shocked and awed” for our television entertainment, to pick themselves up by their bootstraps), but we have yet to fully acknowledge, much more apologize for, the crimes that we committed at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and elsewhere.

Luckily, the American Civil Liberties Union, under the Freedom of Information Act (which, appopriately, does not allow the government that we, the people, pay for through our tax dollars to act in secrecy), has forced the release next month of even more images of “freedom-” and “God-” and “Jesus- lovin'” Americans torturing detainees — the vast majority of them innocent of any crime — at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and elsewhere, including Afghanistan, the Middle Eastern/Asian nation that we are “liberating” now.

Reports The Associated Press:

The White House vowed Friday it will not be distracted by an upcoming disclosure sure to gain attention at home and abroad: hundreds of photos showing U.S. personnel allegedly abusing prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan in the post-Sept. 11 environment.

The images will show mistreatment at locations beyond the infamous U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, where pictures emerged in 2004 of grinning U.S. soldiers posing with detainees, some naked, being held on leashes or in painful positions. That revelation caused a huge international backlash against the U.S.

The Pentagon plans to release the latest photos by May 28 in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union. The move comes after the Justice Department lost its latest round in federal court and concluded that any further appeal would probably be fruitless.

The release of the photos, while underscoring President Barack Obama‘s promise of transparency, poses risks for the administration.

Politically, it could again focus attention on the troubling past and prompt more calls for investigations and prosecutions. Every bit of time and energy centered on examining misdeeds of previous years could undermine the president’s ability to rally Congress and the public behind an ambitious agenda.

Already, the White House spent much of this week dealing with questions about the era of George W. Bush, following the release of documents that detailed brutal interrogation techniques used by the CIA against terror suspects. Obama was prompted to release those memos in response to an ACLU lawsuit, too.

“The president is not concerned that this is going to distract from a larger agenda,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Friday, referring to the combination of events. “I think the American people are focused on moving forward.”

Gibbs said the release of the photos was “largely compelled by a court decision” and not something that was in the White House’s control. He declined to say whether Obama would support releasing the photos even if he were not pressed by a court case.

Antonia Ferrier, a spokeswoman for House Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio, said the release of the photos could cause a backlash that will put U.S. troops in harm’s way at greater risk. She said the issue is not Obama’s agenda but rather protection for the U.S. men and women in the military.

“The administration should have fought this all the way to the Supreme Court,” Ferrier said.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said the pictures were part of Army investigations of abuse allegations. The Pentagon has pursued more than 400 such investigations, he said. Whitman said some of the forthcoming pictures would be edited to mask the identity of those pictured.

Defense officials said the total number of photos would be in the hundreds.

“The disclosure of these photographs serves as a further reminder that abuse of prisoners in U.S.-administered detention centers was systemic,” said Jameel Jaffer, director of the ACLU National Security Project.

“Some of the abuse occurred because senior civilian and military officials created a culture of impunity in which abuse was tolerated, and some of the abuse was expressly authorized,” Jaffer said. “It’s imperative that senior officials who condoned or authorized abuse now be held accountable for their actions.” …

There are the Repugnicans again, using the American troops as their human shields, politically speaking.

The release of further images of the Nazi-like treatment of detainees by Americans, the “good guys,” while the members of the unelected Bush regime were behind the wheel must be stopped in order to prevent harm to our troops, the insanely hypocritical Repugnicans are “arguing” now.

If the Repugnicans truly cared so fucking much about the welfare of our troops, then why did they march in lockstep when the unelected Bush regime sent more than 4,275 of our troops to their wholly unnecessary slaughter in Vietraq? And why don’t the Repugnicans ensure that those troops who return from Vietraq maimed and disabled for life receive the support that they need, instead of calling the use of Americans’ tax dollars to help Americans in need — instead of helping the already filthy rich, which is the Repugnican Party’s agenda — “socialism”? 

I expect the reaction to the ACLU’s victory under the Freedom of Information Act from the topsy-turvy Repugnicans, who call tyranny “freedom” and freedom “tyranny” and who call murder “liberation” and call liberation “murder.”

But I expect much more of the Obama administration.

“I think the American people are focused on moving forward,” the Obama White House mouthpiece proclaimed.

Isn’t that the same “argument” that Repugnican she-wolf in sheep’s clothing Sarah Palin-Quayle kept making during her vice presidential debate with Joseph Biden? That we musn’t look back upon the ugly deeds of the unelected Bush regime, but must only look forward?

But if the Obama administration truly wants to move the nation forward, then the Obama administration must not adopt the same tone and “arguments” of the Repugnicans to simply ignore the crimes of the past and to press ahead.

The ugly sins of the past, like ugly wounds, do not simply go away because we simply wish them to. Ignored, they simply fester from our neglect to deal with them, until one day the poisons from our neglected sins overwhelm us and they cause our demise.   

Until and unless those who, in the name of the people of the United State of America, committed war crimes and crimes against humanity are brought to justice, the United States of American cannot go foward. It might appear that the United States is going forward, but it only will be that the neglected wound is continuing to fester, waiting to break open and spill out it putrid pus at any time.

We have to go back and correct our mistakes, as a nation, if we want to succeed in the future as a nation.

*This begins with such things as not simply allowing presidential elections to be stolen blatantly, as was the 2000 presidential election, because clearly, a group of thugs who are willing to steal a presidential election and who actually get away with it are more than happy to go on and to commit even more serious crimes, more crimes of treason and even war crimes and crimes against humanity.

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Because things weren’t bad enough

Updated bel0w (Monday, April 27, 2009)

Commuters wear face masks to prevent the infection by the swine ...

AFP photo

Subway riders in Mexico City wear masks to prevent the spread of the new human-pig-bird-hybrid influenza virus that has killed more than 60 Mexicans so far and spread to at least three U.S. states.

Really, all that we were missing was a pandemic plague.

I refer, of course, to the new human-pig-bird-hybrid influenza virus that has killed more than five dozen people in Mexico thus far and has been found in at least three U.S. states (California, Texas and Kansas and probably New York as well).

In 1918, a strain of the influenza virus killed millions of people worldwide. Notes Wikipedia

The 1918 flu pandemic (commonly referred to as the Spanish flu) was an influenza pandemic that spread to nearly every part of the world. It was caused by an unusually severe and deadly [strain of the type-A influenza virus]…

Historical and epidemiologic data are inadequate to identify the geographic origin of the virus. Most of its victims were healthy young adults, in contrast to most influenza outbreaks, which predominantly affect juvenile, elderly or otherwise weakened patients.

The pandemic lasted from March 1918 to June 1920, spreading even to the Arctic and remote Pacific islands. It is estimated that anywhere from 20 to 100 million people were killed worldwide, or the approximate equivalent of one third of the population of Europe, more than double the number killed in World War I.

This extraordinary toll resulted from the extremely high illness rate of up to 50 percent and the extreme severity of the symptoms… The pandemic is estimated to have infected up to one billion people — half the world’s population at the time.

Travel between the United States and Mexico is such that even if the border between the two nations were sealed, it’s probably too late to stop the new influenza virus’ spread into the United States and elsewhere, experts say; besides, the virus already has been found in at least the border states of California and Texas and also in Kansas, although no U.S. deaths have been reported thus far.

I have a friend who plans to travel to Mexico next week for a two-week stay; I am a bit concerned for her, and I have expressed my concern to her, but she’d probably still go even if it were an ebola outbreak instread of an influenza oubbreak south of the border. Her name starts with “I” and I told her that if she brought the virus back to Sacramento, in the spirit of Typhoid Mary we’d have to call her “Influenza I–––.”

My friend is in her 30s and so I’m further concerned for her because, as The Associated Press notes, “Another reason to worry [about the current influenza outbreak] is that authorities said the dead so far don’t include vulnerable infants and elderly. The Spanish flu pandemic, which killed at least 40 million people worldwide in 1918-19, also first struck otherwise healthy young adults.”

(If you’re wondering why healthy young adults would die of influenza, it’s because of something called a “cytokine storm,” an overreaction of a healthy immune system to certain strains of the influenza virus and to certain other pathogens that can cause death.)

Besides traditional flu symptoms, the new human-pig-bird-hybrid influenza virus can cause severe vomiting and diarrhea, a bout of which my boyfriend had earlier this month. I have to wonder now if maybe he was infected with the virus.

Those who were immunized against influenza recently, as I was in November, may or may not have some degree of protection against the new strain, news reports have quoted the experts as having said.

The main reason I get the flu shot every year is that not only do I not want to get the flu, but, as The Associated Press notes, “Scientists have warned for years about the potential for a pandemic from [influenza] viruses that mix genetic material from humans and animals.”

My thinking has been that immunization against influenza might offer me some protection from such a pandemic.

As much as I love to be right, hopefully I won’t be proved right because hopefully there won’t be a deadly flu pandemic like there was in 1918…

Update (Monday, April 27, 2009):

So upwards of 150 Mexicans have died of the new influenza epidemic and at least 40 confirmed cases have been found in the United States, including at least 20 in New York City, although no one in the United States has yet died from the human-pig-bird-hybrid influenza virus, which, because it is transmissible from person to person (and not just from animal to person), has the potential to become a pandemic.

Sacramento’s annual Festival de la Familia was yesterday, and while I at first was disappointed that I had no one to go there with, as I love Festival de la Familia, after the news of this new potential pandemic, with its epicenter in Mexico, broke on Friday, it seemed to me perhaps wiser and safer not to go, as there is such travel between Mexico and the United States (and elsewhere in the world) that probably several people at Festival de la Familia yesterday had to have been infected with the virus, statistically speaking. (The annual festival of Latino culture usually draws thousands of people, most of them Latino.)

We might as well have called it Festival de la Influenza, I told my boyfriend, who didn’t think that I should repeat that joke to anyone.

Anyway, as if the plague (which has spread from Mexico to the United States and to Canada and even to Europe, because of world travel) weren’t enough, central Mexico was hit with a 5.6-magnitude earthquake today, prompting one resident of Mexico City to remark that “it feels like the Apocalypse.”

While I doubt that it’s the Apocalypse, I do hope the best for our brothers and sisters south of the border. I’m not the praying type, but I might be compelled to say a prayer for them shortly…

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Is it time to reel in craigslist?

  

Memo to the down-low craigslist skanks: It’s “D-I-S-C-R-E-E-T.” And please, please, please come out of the fucking closet already, because it’s fundamentally fucked up that the rest of us fags who are men enough to be out of the fucking closet have to fight for your equal human and civil rights, too. You closet cases want your cock and eat it too, but I say: Fuck. That. Shit. Thank you!

There are calls now to put restraints on craigslist, especially its “erotic services” category, in the aftermath of the arrest of a 23-year-old male medical student in Boston for the murder of a 25-year-old female masseuse he met through the online classified ad service.

But the larger threat to the public good than the “erotic services” ads on craigslist, even those “erotic services” ads that are just a cover for prostitution, it seems to me, are the free hookup ads on craigslist, which are a public health and safety nightmare.

Oh, sure, craigslist has its disclaimers and warnings (like the alcohol pushers who advise you to “drink responsibly”), and yes, it’s rather entertaining and often titillating to peruse the hookups ads to see what people actually will post, but should people really be enabled to have recreational sex to the degree that craigslist enables them to?

True, skanks probably are going to be skanks, and if it’s not craigslist it probably will be a park or truck-stop bathroom or the like, but I think that one could make a public-health and public-safety argument for at least some restrictions on craigslist.

At the same time, I’m a firm believer in First Amendment rights and the right to associate with whomever one wishes to associate, so I don’t know how curbing the damage that craigslist is facilitating* can be squared with constitutional rights.

Constitutional rights, however, take a back seat when there is public harm, and craigslist, despite its owners’ and operators’ self-preservation-minded claims to the contrary, is facilitating a lot of public harm. 

Should craigslist be allowed to continue to profit (yes, craigslist is for-profit) at the expense of the public good?

* I refer to the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases; the enabling of sexually compulsive behavior; the emotional harm that is caused as the result of infidelity; the enabling of “bicurious” men (or men who even claim, surreally, to be completely straight even though they are seeking out sex with other men) to stay in the closet; facilitating violent crimes like robbery, assualt and battery, kidnapping and even murder; etc.

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