Monthly Archives: June 2013

The Supremes give me reverse November 2008 déjà vu

Updated below (last on Friday, June 28, 2013)

For this progressive Californian, this week feels like an uncanny reversal of Election Day 2008: In November 2008, we Californians saw our nation’s first non-all-white president* elected, a historical milestone — but with the narrow (52-48) passage of Proposition H8, which wrote homophobia into the California state Constitution by banning same-sex marriage, we non-heterosexual Californians were stripped of our constitutionally guaranteed right to marry, which the California Supreme Court earlier that year had ruled was ours.**

Yesterday, in a typically 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court eviscerated the Voting Rights Act, claiming that the act’s provisions were too outdated, despite the fact that Congress had renewed it overwhelmingly in 2006, which wasn’t all that fucking long ago.

In her dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg nailed it on the head when she remarked, “Throwing out [U.S. Justice Department] pre-clearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes [to voting laws] is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.”

While I surmise that Congress will restore the Voting Rights Act in the future, that won’t happen, of course, with the current wingnut-dominated U.S. House of Representatives. Indeed, media reports are that the fascists of the red states, in light of this new U.S. Supreme Court decision, are working fast and furiously to reinstate their voter suppression laws (previously shot down by the Justice Department) just in time for the 2014 midterm elections.

I have to wonder, of course, if that was the goal of the wingnuts on the high court: To help the struggling Repugnican Tea Party in the next national elections. Hey, they’ve certainly involved themselves in election-fixing before, which even former U.S. Supreme Court “Justice” Sandra Day O’Connor, who was appointed by Ronald Reagan and who, with four other like-minded “justices,” put George W. Bush in office, has expressed a potential problem with.

Yesterday was a giant leap backwards for the equal human and civil rights of non-whites, and was yet another stain on our nation caused by yet another 5-4 vote by the right-wing U.S. Supreme Court, right up there with the court’s 5-4 coronation of George W. Bush as president in late 2000 even though he’d lost the election by more than a half-million popular votes and even though the pivotal state of Florida clearly had been stolen as a “victory” for Bush and with the court’s 5-4 Citizens United decision, which reinforced the bogus concept that corporations are just like individual people, and that just like individual people, corporations have First Amendment rights.

It’s mind-blowing to ponder the fact that the voting rights for which so many Americans fought and even died were eliminated at the stroke of the poisoned pen of just one right-wing U.S. Supreme Court justice. (Yet at the same time I suppose that it’s a little encouraging to know that it was only a 5-4 vote, that only one “justice” made the difference.)

I hope that the backlash against the right wing’s ongoing attempt to suppress voters is considerable. Generally speaking, the right-wing traitors among us win little battles here and there, but over time, they continue to lose the war. They stymie and delay progress as much as they can, but progress still marches on, and the haters go down in history as the haters that they are or were.

But today, unlike in November 2008, there was good news for us non-heterosexuals when the US. Supreme Court ruled, 5-4 (of course), that the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, which Congress passed in 1996, is unconstitutional, as it violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection of the laws (duh).

This ruling means that no same-sex couple that has been married in a state with legalized same-sex marriage may be denied any of the federal benefits of marriage that are enjoyed by opposite-sex married couples.

However, this also means that same-sex couples in most states will not have the same rights as do same-sex couples in other states (those states that have adopted legalized same-sex marriage), which, of course, is a patently unfair and thus an untenable situation.

Yes, the nation’s high court, while it struck down DOMA, by yet another 5-4 vote refused to touch Prop H8, ruling that, as Reuters puts it, “supporters of [Prop H8] did not have standing to appeal a federal district court ruling that struck the law down.” Thus, the court apparently very intentionally avoided directly ruling on whether or not any state may constitutionally outlaw same-sex marriage, leaving same-sex marriage, for now, as an untenable issue of “states’ rights.”

Because the U.S. Supreme Court wouldn’t touch Prop H8, the lower federal courts’ rulings that Prop H8 is unconstitutional (because it violates the Fourteenth Amendment) stand, and my understanding is that this means that California will have same-sex marriage again, as it did briefly in 2008 (between the effective date of the California Supreme Court’s ruling for same-sex marriage and the effective date of the same-sex-marriage-nixing Prop H8) — but, I understand, there’s more legal wrangling ahead as to what, exactly, the Supremes’ refusal to touch Prop H8 means for California.

It was cowardly, irresponsible and short-sighted of the court to rule that DOMA is unconstitutional on the grounds of the Fourteenth Amendment but to then refuse to rule that accordingly, no state may outlaw same-sex marriage on the grounds of the Fourteenth Amendment, but apparently today’s rulings were, pathetically, the best that we could get from this right-wing court.

Of course it would have been nice if either or both of today’s high-court rulings on DOMA and Prop H8 (the court’s cowardly refusal to issue a ruling on Prop H8 was the court’s “ruling” on Prop H8) had been 6-3 or even 7-2 (or hell, even 8-1 or 9-0), but the right-wing homo-haters have no credibility in (predictably) calling the 5-4 decisions the “tyranny” of the U.S. Supreme Court against the American majority when a series of recent nationwide polls clearly show that a clear majority of Americans favor same-sex marriage.

And those fascistic haters who claim that to overturn Prop H8 is to overturn the will of California’s voters conveniently ignore the two facts that (1) any ballot measure passed by a majority of any state’s voters can be overturned by a federal court if that court deems it to be unconstitutional (Civics 101 — duh) and that (2) while Prop H8 passed in November 2008 with 52 percent of the vote, polls show now that around 60 percent of Californians support same-sex marriage; were Californians to vote again on the issue again today, same-sex marriage would pass by a decisive margin. Prop H8 no longer is the will of the majority of California’s voters.

So: Today we can celebrate a significant although incomplete victory for same-sex couples who desire legalized marriage and the rights (and, yes, the responsibilities) that come with legalized marriage.

But we need to fight like hell to regain the ground that we just lost where voting rights are concerned, and we need to fight like hell to gain full marriage equality for same-sex couples in all 50 states.

The U.S. Constitution’s demands for fairness and equality demand that we do so.

*True, Barack Obama (whom I don’t really consider “black” but consider to be of mixed race) turned out to be a huge disappointment, a George W. Bush Lite, but I did cast my vote for him in November 2008 before I knew how his presidency was going to unfold. I voted for him in 2008 at least in part because I thought that it was great to be able to vote for the first non-all-white president in U.S. history. (In 2012 I could not, in good conscience, vote for Obama again; I voted for Green Party candidate Jill Stein.)

**And this was no radically left-wing California Supreme Court; when it ruled in favor of same-sex marriage in 2008, most of its justices at that time had been appointed by Repugnican, not by Democratic, governors.

Update (Wednesday, June 26, 2013): Democratic California Gov. Jerry Brown has instructed the California Department of Public Health, which comes under his authority, to direct all of California’s 58 counties to begin to issue same-sex marriage licenses as soon as is legally possible, which might take a month or so.

Update (Friday, June 28, 2013): The homo-hating wingnuts here in California (and elsewhere) are going apoplectic over this (from The Associated Press today):

The four plaintiffs in the U.S. Supreme Court case that overturned California’s same-sex marriage ban tied the knot [today], just hours after a federal appeals court freed gay couples to obtain marriage licenses in the state for the first time in 4 1/2 years.

State Attorney General Kamala Harris presided at the San Francisco City Hall wedding of Kris Perry and Sandy Stier as hundreds of supporters looked on and cheered. The couple sued to overturn the state’s voter-approved gay marriage ban along with Jeff Katami and Paul Zarrillo, who married at Los Angeles City Hall 90 minutes later with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa presiding. …

Although the couples fought for the right to wed for years, their weddings came together in a flurry when a three-judge panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a brief order [this] afternoon dissolving, “effective immediately,” a stay it had imposed on gay marriages while the lawsuit challenging the ban advanced through the courts.

Sponsors of California’s same-sex marriage ban, known as Proposition 8, called the appeals court’s swift action “outrageous.” Under Supreme Court rules, the losing side in a legal dispute has 25 days to ask the high court to rehear the case, and Proposition 8’s backers had not yet announced whether they would do so. …

Call the homo-haters a waaaaaambulance! Anyway, the AP story continues:

The [U.S.] Supreme Court said earlier this week that it would not finalize its ruling in the Proposition 8 case until after the 25-day period, which ends July 21. But San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera, who joined the two couples in the lawsuit, said [today] that the Ninth Circuit panel had the power to lift the stay it imposed.

“The fact of the matter is the only thing holding up the weddings was the stay that the Ninth Circuit had in place,” Herrera said. “The fact that there is a separate 25-day period allowing the petition to go for a rehearing is separate and apart from that stay.”

[California Gov. Jerry] Brown directed California counties to start performing same-sex marriages immediately after the appeals court’s order. A memo from the Department of Public Health said “same-sex marriage is again legal in California” and ordered county clerks to resume issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. …

Anyway: Wow. After the U.S. Supreme Court’s handed-down decision on Wednesday not to touch the Prop H8 case, we Californians had figured that there would be a wait of at least around a month for same-sex marriages to resume in California; we didn’t expect them to resume this quickly.

I misspoke above, by the way: The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday did not uphold both federal district court Judge Vaughn Walker’s 2010 decision that Prop H8 violated the U.S. Constitution and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in February 2012 to uphold Walker’s original ruling.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday vacated the circuit court’s ruling, which then reverted the matter of Prop H8 to Walker’s original 2010 ruling.

Frankly, Vaughn Walker, who is now retired, is a hero to me. Yes, he is a gay man, and yes, the homo-haters tried (but failed) to have his 2010 pro-same-sex-marriage ruling invalidated because he’s gay (apparently only [presumedly] straight white men can be fair and impartial judges, you see), but Walker is no left-wing radical: He was nominated as a federal judge first by Ronald Reagan and then by George H. W. Bush, and apparently his political leanings are conservative-libertarian.

I consider Walker’s ruling to be a landmark document in U.S. gay, lesbian and bisexual history. You can read it, if you want, here.

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I’m rooting for underdog Snowden in his fight against the wolves

File photo of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden being interviewed by The Guardian in his hotel room in Hong Kong

Reuters image

Although it’s awfully inconvenient for the treasonous power elite in Washington, D.C., Edward Snowden is a free man who has the right to travel freely and who does not have to subject himself to a kangaroo court. And nor does any other sovereign nation have to capture Snowden for the convenience of the traitors in D.C. who seek not justice, but who seek revenge against the young man who blew their cover for their actual crimes against us, the American people.

The D.C. rhetoric regarding patriot Edward Snowden is revealing, graphically, the sick and twisted beliefs of the powers that be. We knew that they were drunk on power (which isn’t their power, but which is our power that we only temporarily have loaned to them), but now we realize the full scale of their alcoholism.

How dare Snowden travel wherever he wishes? As an American citizen, he is the property of the federal government!

Isn’t he? That’s how the traitors in D.C. are treating him — as though he were the veritable property of the U.S. government, and therefore, through his (very smart) refusal to just hand himself over to the thugs who no doubt will treat him like Bradley Manning or one of the victims at the Guantanamo Bay Concentration Camp, he essentially is stealing government property (himself)!

Freedom? What freedom? You don’t have any fucking freedom! You are the property of the U.S. government! You exist for the government! The government does not exist for you!

That is the anti-democratic, fascist, freedom-hating mindset at work here, and we’re seeing it from members of both of the duopolistic, pro-corporate, pro-plutocratic parties.

Pathetic closet case Repugnican Tea Party Sen. Lindsey Graham, for instance, typical for the fascist that he is, recently proclaimed that “The freedom trail is not exactly China-Russia-Cuba-Venezuela, so I hope we’ll chase [Snowden] to the ends of the Earth….”

That sure sounds like Graham believes that Snowden does not have the right to freely travel, and no, unfortunately, the “freedom trail” does not lead to the United States of America, which is becoming fascist at a rate that would make Benito Mussolini jealous, but probably does lead to an actually democratic nation like Ecuador (said to be one of Snowden’s possible final destinations as he runs from the bloodthirsty wolves).

And big, bad “Democratic” Secretary of State John Kerry, for instance, recently huffed and puffed that it is “deeply troubling” that the sovereign nations of China and Russia both apparently have refused to try to capture Snowden, but have let him travel freely — as though either sovereign nation were required to do the bidding of the power elites in D.C. who don’t want justice, but who want only to try to protect their own political asses.

Snowden’s real “crime,” you see, is that he dared to stand up to the powers that be and he embarrassed them (well, actually, they have embarrassed themselves, but of course they’re projecting, and so they’re blaming him).

The real crime here is the blatantly unconstitutional and treasonous mass spying that the power elites have been perpetrating upon us for years and years now. You don’t get to promise us that of course you’re not violating our constitutional rights and at the same time refuse to give us (under the guise of “national security”) significant details as to what it is, exactly, that you are doing under the cover of darkness.

Those who support Big Brother are the Constitution-violating traitors. Edward Snowden isn’t a “traitor” for simply having pointed out the real traitors. He’s a patriot for having done so, and he has infinitely more courage than do any of the cowardly worms who bash him, the kind of worthless suck-ups, concerned only about their own precious asses and not about dangerous abuses of power, who made Adolf Hitler’s rise to power possible.

The power elite are skating on very thin ice here. Already the U.S. government for years and years has been perceived (quite correctly) by us, the people, to be unresponsive to our needs and unrepresentative of our interests.

An attack on Edward Snowden is an attack on all of us.

To allow the lynching of Edward Snowden is to give the power elites carte blanche to disappear any of us whom they deem an embarrassment to them or otherwise to threaten their power and status.

If we now are going allow the mere embarrassment of the power elites and/or the challenge to the power elites’ power (such as by pointing out their crimes, such as their blatant violations of our constitutional protections) to be classified as a “crime,” then we might as well wrap up the American experiment right now and call it a Colossal Fucking Failure, and let’s just go full-blown already into the nightmare state that George Orwell dreamed of, the nightmare state in which all of us are monitored 24/7 and which any of us can be disappeared at any time by the power elite at their whim.

This is some serious shit, folks.

While I fairly hate to support the system (including our “legal” system) that makes this kind of bullshit even possible, as it gives that system the air of fairness and thus legitimacy, if you want to donate to the Edward Snowden legal defense fund, you can do so here.

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In defense of Paula Deen

“He who is without sin among you, let him throw the first stone at her.”

— Jesus Christ, talking to the fucking hypocrites of his day (John 8:7)

Food Network won't renew Paula Deen's contract

Associated Press image

I’m not big on baby boomers or Southerners — hell, I’m not big on many if not most of my fellow whiteys — but I am big on fairness and justice, and I don’t see that celebrity cook Paula Deen, who renounces racism today, thus far has been shown much fairness and justice for her admission that back in the day she used the word “nigger.”

First off, let me get my own biases on the table: I don’t like baby boomers and I don’t like Southerners, especially those with the Southern drawl. Both groups remind me of what’s so wrong with the United States of America. And Paula Deen is both a baby boomer and a Southerner, having been born in 1947 (making her 66 years old) and being a resident of Savannah, Georgia. (Indeed, the portrait of her above doesn’t warm my heart, but gives me the willies.)

That said, regardless of your demographics, you are entitled to fairness and justice.

When asked if she’d ever uttered the slur “nigger,” Southern-cooking queen Deen reportedly admitted in a recent court deposition, “Yes, of course,” adding, “It’s been a very long time.”

How long ago it was that Deen last used “the ‘n’-word” (I favor spelling it out, frankly; why candy-coat racism?) I’m not certain. Was it five years ago? Ten? Twenty? Thirty?

If Deen used it last week or last month or last year or even five years ago, then I could see reason for the outrage, which has culminated in Food Network terminating her cooking-show contract, but if Deen truly last used “nigger” many years ago and truly regrets it, and if her views on race and race relations have changed, then the dog-piling upon her now serves no useful purpose.

Seriously — the woman was truthful in a deposition and now she faces a firestorm for her truthfulness? Why should anyone else be truthful, then, in a similar situation?

And if we won’t accept that any person who previously had racist views could have changed and evolved, but must wear a big, red letter “R” for the rest of his or her life, what does that mean? Does that mean that we want racism to linger, to be a permanent condition?

Does that mean that we’re so smug and so small and so petty and so hypocritical, that, in order to feel so fucking superior, we periodically must publicly burn someone like Paula Deen at the stake? (That was a rhetorical question, but I’ll answer it anyway: Yes, yes, yes, it does.)

Maybe it was the casualness with which Deen admitted her past use of “nigger”: “Yes, of course” I used the word “nigger,” she reportedly testified.

My guess is that that was her world, the world in which she grew up: That in her day and place (apparently, she has lived in Georgia her entire life), “nigger” was tossed around quite casually by the whiteys who surrounded her. If that’s just historical fact, then why are we lynching Paula Deen for the racism of so many, many others?

I’ll tell you what I find offensive: The fact that in his 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama — whose sphere of influence is much, much vaster than is Paula Deen’s — told “Christo”fascist “pastor” Prick Warren: “I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman” — “a sacred union,” he added, adding, “God’s in the mix.”

I find that very offensive not only as a gay man, but as an atheist who wants no elected official to shove his or her belief (or stated belief) in a non-existent entity (let’s fucking face it: “God” is just a Santa-Claus figure on crack, knowing whether you’ve been “bad” or “good” and rewarding you or punishing you thusly) down my fucking throat.

Obama also in his 2008 remarks to Prick Warren also made the “states’ rights” argument where same-sex marriage is concerned (the same argument that the white supremacists have made where discrimination against blacks has been concerned), and Obama stated that he supported the “separate-but-equal” (my words, not his) civil union for same-sex couples, but not same-sex marriage. (The video clip of those remarks is right here.)

Now, 2008 wasn’t very long ago — my guess is that Paula Deen last used “nigger” before 2008 — but I don’t see what good it would do to lambast Obama, who supposedly finally “evolved” and stated in May 2012 that he now supports same-sex marriage — as a permanent homophobe for what his stance was in 2008.

True, Obama didn’t publicly use a slur such as “fag” or “queer” or “dyke,” but let me tell you something: I don’t fucking care what words you use or don’t use. Obama in 2008 (and before and beyond) publicly espoused such deeply unfair and unjust and unconstitutional ideas as the idea of “states’ rights” where equal human and civil rights are concerned and the idea that the “separate-but-equal” civil union in lieu of actual marriage for same-sex couples is A-OK, even though the civil union in lieu of actual marriage essentially forces non-heterosexual couples to drink from a different drinking fountain.

I find these dangerous, harmful, blatantly unjust and unconstitutional ideas to be at least as offensive as the use of the word “nigger.” I don’t care that Obama used “nice” words to express his right-wing, discriminatory, heterosexist, bigoted ideas in his little chat with Prick Warren in 2008. The ideas themselves are ugly enough, and only morons to whom words are magic! get tripped up by “bad” words such as “nigger” while allowing the expression of absofuckinglutely unconscionably oppressive ideas a free fucking pass because the utterer of those ideas didn’t use any “bad” words to express them, but used only “nice” words. (So-called “Christians” love to believe that it’s perfectly fine to express Nazi-like ideas — just as long as you don’t use any profanity. Jesus himself would have told these fucking hypocrites to go fuck themselves. [Truly — read the New Testament and see what Jesus said to and about the “religious” hypocrites of his day. It’s there in black and white.])

Further, do I believe that Barack Obama truly gives a shit about non-heterosexuals?

Fuck no.

Obama has no moral compass, but is a political weather vane, facing whichever direction the weather vane is facing.

Obama is a human calculator. He calculated in 2008 that for maximum political gain he should tell “Christo”fascist Prick Warren that he opposed same-sex marriage. (Really, watch the clip — Warren’s audience applauds much of what Obama has to say.) In May of last year, Obama calculated differently, calculated that now he should announce that he finally has “evolved” on the issue of same-sex marriage. (To my knowledge, however, Obama has yet to drop his “states’ rights” stance, that is, to my knowledge, to this day, Obama still believes, or at least still publicly states that he believes, that each of the 50 states should be able to decide whether or not to honor non-heterosexuals’ equal human and civil rights that are guaranteed to them by the Constitution of the United States of America. That’s fucking sick.)

Obama certainly had calculated differently on same-sex marriage back in 1996. In 1996, when he still was involved in Illinois state politics, Obama responded, in writing, to a gay and lesbian newspaper’s questionnaire: “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages.”

He proclaimed that back in 1996, when he was first elected to the Illinois legislature. Today, he shouts, “States’ rights”! So much for Obama’s promise that he would fight efforts to prohibit same-sex marriage!

Obama is an opportunistic bag of slime, but I don’t see what good it would do to burn former (or supposedly former) homophobes at the stake for their former (or supposedly former) homophobia. Even if these individuals still interiorly were homophobic but at least publicly took an anti-homophobic stance, hey, that’s better than someone who publicly is taking a homophobic stance.

It wouldn’t advance equal human and civil rights for non-heterosexuals to hang a big red letter “H” on former (or supposedly former) homophobes, so I don’t see how it advances equal human and civil rights for non-whites for us to hang a big red letter “R” on Paula Deen.

I don’t know whether or not Paula Deen interiorly is significantly racist. Probably only she knows that.

It’s good enough for me that whatever word or words she uttered back in the day, today she rebukes racism and racist expression.

If you believe otherwise, then perhaps you emotionally and cognitively and egoistically are invested in the continuation of racism, as evidenced by the apparent fact that you apparently fucking refuse to allow anyone to reform — which makes you just as fucking sick as the actual racists whom you castigate.

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‘World War Z’ needs braaains!

Film review

In this publicity photo released by Paramount Pictures, the infected scale the Israeli walls in "World War Z," from Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions in association with Hemisphere Media Capital and GK Films. (AP Photo/Paramount Pictures, Jaap Buitendijk)

The Cool Catastrophes of 'World War Z'

This publicity image released by Paramount Pictures shows a scene from "World War Z." The zombies in “World War Z” move with Carl Lewis speed and a swarm-like mentality inspired in part by rabid dogs, furthering the eternal fan debate over whether the walking dead should actually run. (AP Photo/Paramount Pictures)

Zombies leap and pile atop each other like angry armies of ants in “World War Z,” produced by and starring Brad Pitt, but despite these impressive visual effects and a plot that has Pitt’s character jetting around the globe, “WWZ” overall is a fairly tepid entry into the zombie genre.

I walked into “World War Z” yesterday with one reviewer having stated that the film does nothing new with the zombie genre but with other reviewers (the majority of them) having stated that it’s an engaging, thrilling summer action movie.

Sadly, in a nutshell, my verdict is that “WWZ,” while watchable enough, does nothing significantly novel with the zombie genre.

I wanted to like “WWZ” more than I did. The zombie genre, done right, can be decent entertainment, and Brad Pitt usually doesn’t do shit. But “WWZ” won’t go down as one of Pitt’s best films or as one of the zombie genre’s best entries.

“WWZ” has some compelling special effects, such as its hordes of fast-moving zombies leaping and piling atop each other like angry armies of ants, but methinks that the proof that’s in the blood pudding is how the individual zombie is portrayed, and “WWZ’s” individual zombies aren’t very frightening, and “WWZ’s” lackluster zombie makeup effects break no new ground in the zombie genre.

Not that gore alone makes for a successful zombie movie, but perhaps one of “WWZ’s” chief errors, I suspect, is its producers’ decision to make a PG-13-rated instead of an R-rated zombie film. I mean, a G-rated zombie film would be considered something for kids, and so not very scary at all, so why would a PG-13-rated zombie flick be all that much scarier?

Indeed, far from being all that scary, most of “WWZ’s” individual zombies are (from what I can tell) unintentionally fairly funny. (My mate, who sat next to me, laughed throughout the movie, and laughed at scenes that very apparently weren’t intended to be comedic.) The tooth-chattering zombie, the zombie that Pitt’s character interacts with the most, I found to be creepy, but not scary, and zombies are supposed to be scary, especially in a movie that bills itself as a seriously scary zombie movie.

Further speaking of which, from what I can tell, the zombies in “WWZ” have no interest whatsoever in consuming human flesh — no, not even human braaains! — but have interest only in biting non-infected humans in order to spread the zombie virus. Perhaps that’s the best that you can do with a PG-13 rating, but yaaawn!

And while the whole concept of the zombie — a human being that is without a beating heart and thus without circulating blood and thus without any other functioning organs yet somehow nonetheless magically is animated — of course is entirely fantastical and not remotely scientific, it would be nice if “WWZ,” since it presents itself as interested in science and medicine, had strived for more medical and scientific accuracy in its portrayal of the viral-infection process.* (Spoiler alert: The material at the asterisk below is a mild spoiler.)

No virus, for instance, is capable of taking over the entire human body within a matter of seconds, and no virus can replicate without a living host, so of course a zombie, without even a beating heart, could not be a virus factory.

Didn’t early zombie movies just rely on voodoo or some other kind of magic or hocus-pocus as the explanation for zombification? When and why did viral infection become the new, unworkable rationale in the zombie genre?

OK, sure, I suppose, perhaps the fear of a Plague still lingers within the human psyche — large swaths of people have been offed in plagues during the past (and the plague of AIDS is still with us, and new plagues, such as bird and swine flus, have the power to scare us at least a bit today) — but even before “WWZ” we didn’t need another entry in the virally caused zombie genre.

And the “solution” that the heroes in “WWZ” find to deal with the zombies is less than credible and less than thrilling. (It’s so not thrilling that I won’t even bother to go into any detail about it; it would be a “spoiler” not even worth “spoiling.”)

With Brad Pitt’s involvement, you would have thought that “WWZ” would have turned out to be a smarter zombie movie. Instead, “WWZ” screams out for braaains!

That said, “WWZ,” regarded as typically mindless summer action-movie fare, is not entirely unwatchable. It’s just disappointing if you expected something more and something better.

I can forgive Pitt for this lapse — as long as he does not involve himself in a sequel.

My grade: B-

P.S. I found BBC America’s “In the Flesh” to be a fairly fresh take on the zombie genre, in case you are interested in feasting on such a fresher take — a take with brains (literally and figuratively).

*Indeed, the movie disappointingly kills off its most scientifically minded character quite early. Are we to take that symbolically as well — that without the scientist further in the movie there will be no further scientific orientation in the movie?

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Why the NSA? Look to Brazil right now

Associated Press photo

Increasingly, a faceful of pepper spray is how the plutocrats (via their thugs, of course) respond to commoners who dare to demand better conditions. Commoners are told that if they — we — want substantial change, we have to use the system that already has proven itself to be ineffective in meeting our needs and to be unwilling to change in any significant way. This young Brazilian woman is attacked by one of the plutocrats’ thugs during a massive protest in Rio de Janeiro this week. (What, she doesn’t look like a seriously dangerous person to you?)

Take a look at what’s happening in Brazil right now and you’ll see what the primary purpose of the National Security Agency and the rest of the U.S. domestic surveillance infrastructure is: It’s to control us chickens in the case of a significant chicken revolution — and to keep the minority of Colonels Sanders safe from us majority chickens.

It’s great to see Brazil explode, great to see the people of Brazil reject the plutocrats’ shiny, new sports stadiums while so many Brazilians go without. I love news images like this:

A demonstrator holds a Brazilian flag in front of a burning barricade during a protest in Rio de Janeiro in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, June 17, 2013. Protesters massed in at least seven Brazilian cities Monday for another round of demonstrations voicing disgruntlement about life in the country, raising questions about security during big events like the current Confederations Cup and a papal visit next month. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
Protesters, one holding a Brazilian flag,  burn trash to block a street near the sate legislative assembly building during a protest in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, June 17, 2013.  in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, June 17, 2013.  Officers in Rio fired tear gas and rubber bullets when a group of protesters invaded the state legislative assembly and threw rocks and flares at police. Protesters massed in at least seven Brazilian cities Monday for another round of demonstrations voicing disgruntlement about life in the country, raising questions about security during big events like the current Confederations Cup and a papal visit next month.  (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
Protestors are reflected on the glass of a building, left, as they march in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, June 17, 2013.  Protests in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and other Brazilian cities, set off by a 10-cent hike in public transport fares, have clearly moved beyond that issue to tap into widespread frustration in Brazil about a heavy tax burden, politicians widely viewed as corrupt and woeful public education, health and transport systems and come as the nation hosts the Confederations Cup soccer tournament and prepares for next month's papal visit. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

Protesters try to invade the state assembly during a protest in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, June 17, 2013. Officers in Rio fired tear gas and rubber bullets when a group of protesters invaded the state legislative assembly and threw rocks and flares at police. Protesters massed in at least seven Brazilian cities Monday for another round of demonstrations voicing disgruntlement about life in the country, raising questions about security during big events like the current Confederations Cup and a papal visit next month. (AP Photo/Nicolas Tanner)

Associated Press images

Those images, also taken in Rio de Janeiro this week, are vibrant images of democracy, of freedom struggling to be born. The plutocrats — of course — tell us, no, these young people are criminals, when it’s the plundering plutocrats who are the criminals, the traitors, the enemy, and who cause far more damage to nations and to the world than do those who struggle for a better world.

Not dissimilarly to the sociopoliticoeconomic dynamic in Brazil, while the government of the United States of America squanders our tax dollars on such unnecessary things as a bloated-bey0nd-belief military (including, of course, our bogus wars) and a blatantly anti-constitutional vast domestic spying apparatus (to be clear, it’s as wrong to spy on the peoples of other nations as it is wrong to spy on Americans), “our” government tells us, the people, that our government just cannot afford us.

The plutocrats continue to get only richer, regardless of what the nation’s economy is doing, while the rest of us are told that we have to accept “austerity” measures. Curious, isn’t that?

Such grievous injustice inherently is sociopolitically unstable — thus, we have the vast spying infrastructure to give our plutocratic overlords the heads up should the chickens rise up and come for them.

Will it work?

I’m thinking that it won’t.

Once the government that stopped representing the actual interests of we, the people, long ago, actually starts to maim and kill everyday Americans who have risen up to protest, all hell will break loose.

You will see Americans who never have joined together before — such as those of us on the actual left (and not Barack Obama’s and the Obamabots’ “left”) and the right-leaning-but-also-civil-liberties-loving libertarians — joining together, even if only uneasily and even if only temporarily, to take back our government. Those in the middle will have to pick a side, as those in the middle had to do during the American Revolution.

How out of touch are our elitist overlords?

They assure us that the NSA prevented a “terrorist” attack upon the treasonous, thieving weasels of Wall Street — as though we commoners are going to be thrilled to hear that the precious asses of the millionaires and billionaires of Wall Street, who robbed us fucking blind, have been kept safe through the use of our tax dollars — so that they can continue to rob us fucking blind.

That’s some continuing fucked-up shit, to continue to try to push off on to the American people the blatant propaganda that what’s good for the plutocrats actually is good for us commoners.

What’s good for the plutocrats of course is not good for the rest of us, and if — when — the sleeping giant awakens, the NSA won’t be enough to save the Colonels Sanders from the legions of chickens who finally have had far more than enough.

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Two ways you can help patriot Edward Snowden right now

Updated below

U.S. National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden is seen in this still image taken from a video during an interview with the Guardian in his hotel room in Hong Kong

Reuters image

Repugnican Tea Party Speaker of the House John Boehner has called 29-year-old National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden (pictured above) a “traitor.”

This is not all that surprising, coming from an alcoholic fascist like Boehner, whose treasonous, far-right-wing party’s only wish is to preserve the status quo. (Actually, the Repugnican Tea Party traitors want to take us back to the Dark Ages, but, at the minimum, they want to keep us trapped where we are; they seek to block all progress in the United States of America, and to a large degree, they succeed.)

Edward Snowden is a defender of the U.S. Constitution — specifically, Americans’ Fourth-Amendment right to privacy.

But in the down-the-rabbit-hole United States of America, where freedom and democracy died long, long ago, the actually treasonous criminals are let off scot-fucking-free while those who report the treasonous criminals’ criminal and treasonous activity, like Snowden, Bradley Manning and Julian Assange, are made into the “criminals.” They’re called by the hypocritically treasonous powers that be “traitors,” even.

(If Snowden is a “traitor,” gee, maybe he’s a “terrorist,” too! Maybe there’s a killer drone hunting him down as I type this sentence!)

Today, the power-mad, democracy-hating, Constitution-violating traitors in Washington go after patriots like Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning. (I’d call Julian Assange a patriot, but he’s Australian… Still, he’s a lover of actual freedom and actual democracy and he rejects the faux freedom and the faux democracy that the plutocrats and their servants in D.C. claim are the real thing.)

Tomorrow, the fascists in D.C. come for the rest of us.

There are two simple things that you can do right now to help Edward Snowden:

  • One, you can contribute to his legal defense fund, which the Progressive Change Campaign Committee has set up. You can do that here. (If you decide to donate to Snowden’s legal defense fund via the PCCC, be sure to donate to the “PCCC Strategic Fund” that is shown on the webpage.) I’ve given $10 to Snowden’s legal defense fund and I probably will give more.
  • Two, you can sign the petition on the White House’s website to encourage President Barack Obama to pardon Snowden. The petition is available here. (You’ll have to register with the website if you’re not already registered; registration is simple.) When I signed the petition this morning, almost half of the necessary 100,000 signatures necessary for the White House to consider the petition had been collected.

And use your sphere of influence, of course.

Doing these things is better that doing nothing. They’re something.

We need to alter the sociopolitical environment that even makes it possible for an actually treasonous fascist like John Boehner to call a courageous patriot like Edward Snowden a “traitor.”

P.S. I have to note that it’s pretty fucking stupid for the Repugnican Tea Party, which is hurting among youthful voters, to attack the 29-year-old Snowden like this.

I don’t expect the Obama administration, which has depended upon youthful voters, to attack Snowden nearly as viciously, but it will be interesting to see how the Obama administration decides to proceed with Snowden.

Update: To be fair and balanced, I will point you to this Associated Press news story that I just read in which “Democratic” U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California has referred to Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing as “an act of treason.”

Oh, sure, the right-wing Feinstein is the chair of the Senate “intelligence” committee, but she’s also a millionaire, one of the plutocrats who benefit from the unconstitutional vast spying upon Americans.

Feinstein also voted for the Vietraq War — from which her husband, Richard Blum, a war profiteer, just happened to make millions of dollars.

With “friends” like these, who needs the fucking Repugnicans?

(If memory serves, I voted for the fascistic Feinstein in 2000, being new to California and not knowing any better; however, I didn’t vote for her in 2006 or in 2012, and I never would cast a vote for her again. She’s one of the many examples one could point to in order to demonstrate that the average American’s interests are not represented in D.C. )

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WHOSE security?

Despite President Hopey-Changey’s promises that the vast amount of data that is collected on us Americans — on our dime, of course — never would be used for nefarious purposes, I’m as confident of that as I am that killer drones never would be used on American soil on American citizens who have been branded by the powers that be as “terrorists” simply because they disagree with whichever right-wing (Repugnican Tea Party) or center-right-wing (“Democratic” Party) regime that’s in charge of the show.

Not to try to outdo Alex Jones, but I just don’t buy that the National Security Agency’s Job No. 1 actually is to protect Americans from actual terrorist attacks.

Oh, sure, if there were another 9/11-like terrorist attack, that would be embarrassing to the powers that be who claim that they’re so damned consumed about keeping all of us safe, but would they really care that some anonymous American commoners got snuffed out?

Of course not.

As long at their precious plutocratic asses are safe. That’s all that matters to them.

No, the NSA exists, I’m confident, primarily to sound the alarm for the plutocrats should the worst-case scenario ever actually arise: The American people actually rising up to overthrow their plutocratic overlords who have kept them — us — in politicosocioeconomic bondage for ages.

And the kicker is, as I mentioned, that we spied-upon-by-the-wolves sheeple are the ones who are paying for the whole “security” system that in all probability actually is meant to keep the plutocrats safe from us. (After all, we do have them vastly outnumbered.)

Perhaps the NSA’s greatest triumph is not in keeping us commoners safe, but in inducing us commoners to believe that the NSA actually works for us.

This Associated Press story on the NSA from today, for example, contains not a whiff of a hint that it might not be entirely true that the NSA exists entirely to protect American commoners from harm and that it does not at all exist, not even at least in part, to protect the plutocrats from the masses, should the masses ever actually rise up:

Washington — An email, a telephone call or even the murmur of a conversation captured by the vibration of a window — they’re all part of the data that can be swept up by the sophisticated machinery of the National Security Agency.

Its job is to use the world’s most cutting edge supercomputers and arguably the largest database storage sites to crunch and sift through immense amounts of data. The information analyzed might be stolen from a foreign official’s laptop by a Central Intelligence Agency officer overseas, intercepted by a Navy spy plane flying off the Chinese coast, or, as Americans found out this past week, gathered from U.S. phone records.

Code-breakers at the Fort Meade, Md.-based NSA use software to search for keywords in the emails or patterns in the phone numbers that might link known terrorist targets with possible new suspects. They farm out that information to the 16 U.S. intelligence agencies and to law enforcement, depending on who has the right to access which type of information, acting as gatekeeper, and they say, guardian of the nation’s civil liberties as well as its security.

The super-secret agency is under the spotlight after last week’s revelations of two surveillance programs. One involves the sweeping collection of hundreds of millions of phone records of U.S. customers. The second collects the audio, video, email, photographic and Internet search usage of foreign nationals overseas — and probably some Americans in the process — who use major Internet companies such as Microsoft, Google, Apple and Yahoo.

NSA was founded in 1952. Only years later was the NSA publicly acknowledged, which explains its nickname, “No Such Agency.”

According to its website, NSA is not allowed to spy on Americans. It is supposed to use its formidable technology to “gather information that America’s adversaries wish to keep secret,” and to “protect America’s vital national security information and systems from theft or damage by others,” as well as enabling “network warfare, a military operation,” that includes offensive cyberoperations against U.S. adversaries.

The agency also includes the Central Security Service, the military arm of code-breakers who work jointly with the agency. The two services have their headquarters on a compound that’s technically part of Fort Meade, though it’s slightly set apart from the 5,000-acre Army base.

Visible from a main highway, the tightly guarded compound requires the highest of clearances to enter and is equipped with electronic means to ward off an attack by hackers.

Other NSA facilities in Georgia, Texas, Colorado and Hawaii duplicate much of the headquarters’ brain and computer power in case a terrorist attack takes out the main location, though each one focuses on a different part of the globe.

A new million-square-foot storage facility in Salt Lake City will give the agency untold additional capacity to store the massive amounts of data it collects, as well as adding to its analytical capability.

“NSA is the elephant of the U.S. intelligence community, the biggest organization by far with the most capability and (literally) the most memory,” said former senior CIA official Bruce Riedel, who now runs the Brookings Intelligence Project. …

NSA workers are notoriously secretive. They’re known for keeping their families in the dark about what they do, including their hunt for terror mastermind Osama bin Laden. NSA code-breakers were an essential part of the team that tracked down bin Laden at a compound in Pakistan in 2011.

Their mission tracking al-Qaida and related terrorist groups continues, with NSA analysts and operators sent out to every conflict zone and overseas U.S. post, in addition to surveillance and analysis conducted at headquarters outside Washington.

The director of national intelligence, James Clapper, said in a statement [yesterday] that the NSA’s programs do not target U.S. citizens. But last week’s revelations show that the NSA is allowed to gather U.S. phone calls and emails and to sift through them for information leading to terrorist suspects, as long as a judge signs off. Lawmakers are questioning the scope of the information gathered, and how long and how much of it is kept.

“Does that data all have to be held by the government?” asked Sen. Angus King, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

King, a Maine independent, was briefed on the program this past week, but would not discuss how long the government holds on to the phone records. “I don’t think there is evidence of abuse, but I think the program can be changed to be structured with less levels of intrusion on the privacy of Americans,” he said. …

“Through software, you can search for key words and key phrases linking a communication to a particular group or individual that would fire it off to individual agencies that have interest in it,” just like Amazon or Google scans millions of emails and purchases to track consumer preferences, explained Ronald Marks, a former CIA official and author of Spying in America in the Post 9/11 World.

Detailed algorithms try to determine whether something is U.S. citizen-related or not. “It shows analysts, ‘We’ve got a U.S. citizen here, so we’ve got to be careful with it,'” he said.

Another way counterterrorist officials try to protect U.S. citizens is through centers where operators from the military, CIA, NSA, FBI, Treasury and others sit side by side. When one comes across information that his or her agency is not supposed to access, it’s turned over to someone in the center who’s authorized to see it.

But the process isn’t perfect, and sometimes what should be private information reaches agencies not authorized to see it.

“When information gets sent to the CIA that shouldn’t, it gets destroyed, and a note sent back to NSA saying, ‘You shouldn’t have sent that,'” Marks said. “Mistakes get made, but my own experience on the inside of it is, they tend to be really careful about it.” …

I’m lovin’ those last several paragraphs. We commoners are just supposed to trust that the vast governmental spying that is perpetrated upon us never would be used against us by power-mad individuals who know fully well that information is power, and thus they’re doing their damnedest to gather as much information about us as is possible while they’re telling us that they themselves can’t give us any specific information about their information gathering that they are perpetrating upon us — and that all of this is for our own good. Trust us!

“I don’t think there is evidence of abuse, but I think the program can be changed to be structured with less levels of intrusion on the privacy of Americans,” Sen. Angus King proclaimed.

Of course there wouldn’t be any evidence of abuse by the NSA or any of its subsidiaries. Because of the uber-secretive nature of these organizations, any such evidence never would be made available to anyone on the outside, would it?

And that’s what we are going to be promised in the wake of NSAgate, of course: That, to use King’s words, the “program [will] be changed to be structured with less levels of intrusion on the privacy of Americans.”

Quite predictably, we will be told by the powers that be, including, of course, President Hopey-Changey and his cronies: Shut up and run along now, you silly, paranoid commoners! Trust us! We’ll fix any problems — although, of course, we can’t share any information about that with you! For your own security!

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