Monthly Archives: July 2013

New pope, same as the last pope (take two)

The new pope still will have none of this, but at least he would let them keep their heads. Yay!

Yes, it could be much worse, I suppose.

At least the new pope isn’t calling for the beheading of gay men, like the 89-year-old dictator of Zimbabwe is. (Robert Mugabe might believe in equal opportunity and believe that lesbians should be beheaded, too, but his rhetoric apparently is aimed primarily or solely at gay men. [“If you take men and lock them in a house for five years and tell them to come up with two children and they fail to do that, then we will chop off their heads,” Mugabe bizarrely proclaimed recently.])

But despite the news today — I guess that it was a slow news day — that the pope has done some 180 on the matter of homosexuality, know that Pope Francis apparently still upholds the Catholick Church’s doctrine that “under no circumstances can [any homosexual acts] be approved. … Homosexual persons are called to chastity.”

“Asked for his position on gay marriage,” Time reports, “[Francis] answered: ‘You know perfectly the position of the Church.’”

This is supposed to be a kinder, gentler pope, yet there has been no policy change on homosexuality. None. Nada, zip, zilch, zero.

“It’s Not What the Pope Said About Gays, It’s How He Said It,” the headline for the Time news article is.

Really?

We must be nice to gays, Francis said. Yes, he did say that, more or less.

But how, exactly, can you uphold an oppressive set of policies* yet still be considered to be such a swell fucking guy?

What if heterosexuals were told that they weren’t to be mistreated for their unfortunate affliction of opposite-sex attraction, but that should they ever act on that opposite-sex attraction, even within the context of a marriage, that would be a sin?

What if heterosexuals were told that marriage only is the union of two men or two women?

What if Catholicks were told that sure, they can be Catholicks in their heads, but that for them to actually practice their belief system — go to confession, kneel, eat that wafer, whatever it is that they do at Mass, for instance — would be wrong, forbidden?

I don’t know… At least Robert Mugabe is pretty fucking direct about his feelings about homosexuality. Sure, he’s a pathetic, addled old dictator who just wants to steal another election on Wednesday, and is throwing some red meat to his fellow backasswards homo-haters, but at least in Zimbabwe, you, as a gay man (maybe you, too, as a lesbian) would know exactly where you stand.

But here is the Catholick Church saying, “Oh, you can be a fag or dyke — just never, ever do what fags and dykes feel compelled to do!”

That’s just backdoor hatred and bigotry and discrimination. The message from the Catholick Church is the same: If you aren’t heterosexual, you are defective. If you aren’t heterosexual, God doesn’t accept you. If you aren’t heterosexual, you can’t ever have sex, even within the context of marriage, because you can’t get married!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Fuck the Catholick Church. And fuck the pope, who is no nice guy (and who, for all we know, is a gay man himself…).

P.S. My first take on Pope Francis is here.

*Pope Francis also firmly opposes women being able to enter the priesthood or, apparently, the Catholick Church’s all-male hierarchy.

How can this woefully outdated patriarchal policy not give women and girls the clear idea that they are inferior to men and boys?

This is sick shit, not love.

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It’s (probably) Billary’s if she wants it

FILE - In this April 2, 2013, file photo Vice President Joe Biden and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton are seen in Washington. Clinton, whose popularity is high when out of public office and who carries the scars of being seen as inevitable in 2008, is trying to strike the right careful balance between staying out of the daily political maelstrom and setting herself up for a possible second presidential run. Her fans and foes are making that difficult. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)

Associated Press photo

Recent polls put Billary Clinton (photographed above with Vice President Joe Biden in Washington, D.C., in April) at 50 (yes, fifty) or more percentage points ahead of Biden for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, and show her beating her toughest potential Repugnican Tea Party challenger, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, an average of 6 percentage points in the November 2016 presidential election. If Billary runs for president in 2016, she most likely will be our nation’s first female president, so it’s too fucking bad that her record indicates that as president she’d be little to no more progressive than the dismally disappointing Barack Obama has been…

Admittedly, I have wondered if Billary Clinton would have been a better president that President Hopey Changey has turned out to be. In 2017 and the following years, most likely, we’ll find out.

Smug individuals point out that Barack Obama for 2008 campaigned as a moderate and that thus the way that his presidency has unfolded could have come as a surprise to no one. My response to that, in a word, is: bullshit.

It’s true that Obama did not campaign as a radical. Crucial to his 2008 victory, I think, was the fact that he didn’t come off as “threatening” to too many white voters, as though once in the Oval Office he’d orchestrate the violent overthrow of the white ruling class by blacks, a revolution that many whiteys, at least in the back of their minds, still fear even today (they’re still talking about the New Black Panthers non-scandal, for fuck’s sake), a revolution that never could be successful any year soon, given the fact that the 2010 U.S. Census put whites at 72.4 percent of the American population and blacks at only 12.6 percent (not to mention the giant gap in wealth and power between white Americans and black Americans as groups).

It’s true that in his first presidential campaign Obama’s mantra was so-called “bipartisanship,” and that his stated goal was that he basically wanted to induce all of us to hold hands around the national campfire and sing rounds of “Kumbaya” until we all dropped of exhaustion.

It’s true that I cringed when Obama repeatedly publicly evoked the name of Ronald Fucking Reagan as A Model President, as though a Repugnican president would publicly praise Bill Clinton or even Jimmy Carter. (The last Democratic president that any of the Repugnican Party set have viewed as remotely OK to praise publicly is John F. Kennedy, probably because he’s dead and because the way that he died made him a bit of a martyr.)

But Obama in his first campaign for the White House also promised “hope” and “change” — ubiquitously and relentlessly — and promised to turn the nation around, promised to undo the damage of the eight long years of the unelected Bush regime.

The word “change” means something, and it does not mean “status quo.” Obama had talked and written about the “audacity of hope.” We were to bravely dare to hope. Just like he claimed he did.

And while Obama never promised to be a left-wing radical, we progressives understood that, politically, he probably couldn’t afford to do so, not if he wanted to actually win the White House, but while Obama was campaigning at least as a progressive lite, Billary Clinton, as her quest for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination became more and more desperate, acted as though she weren’t a limousine liberal.

After Obama had taken some heat for having stated during a private fundraiser in San Francisco (!) in April 2008 that some Americans “cling” to their “guns or religion” (which is, um, true*) — audio of which was leaked to the public (probably by the Clintonistas)  the desperate Billary saw an opportunity and so she took some shots: an actual shot of whiskey to show what a bad-ass redneck she actually is, and a shot at Obama, calling him “elitist and out of touch” and remarking, “I was taken aback by the demeaning remarks Senator Obama made about people in small-town America.”

Jesus fuck, I thought at the time (and still think). Which party’s presidential nomination is it that she wants?

Seriously: Billary was using the same rhetoric that the Repugnican Tea Party traitors were using against her own party. (Well, OK, this was in 2008, before the rise and fall of the so-called “tea party,” but still…) Billary painted Obama as an “out-of-touch” “elitist,” as though she weren’t a carpetbagging Beltway hack herself, and as though the state she had dragged her carpetbag to, New York, were a red state (indeed, New York is bluer than is Obama’s Illinois).

Given Billary’s mad dash to the right as she became more and more desperate in her losing quest for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, given her vote for the unelected Bush regime’s obviously bogus Vietraq War in October 2002, and given her husband’s destruction of the Democratic Party through the now-thank-Goddess-defunct “Democratic Leadership Council,” which dragged the party to the right to the point that the Democratic Party and the Repugnican Tea Party now pretty much are the Coke Party and the Pepsi Party — two plutocrat-and-corporation-loving parties that, like Coke and Pepsi, are hard for many if not most of us to differentiate — Barack Obama to me was the obvious choice in 2008.

But now, five years later, admittedly, I have to wonder if Billary would have been a better president than Obama has been.

It wouldn’t have taken much for Billary to have done a better job as president than Obama has, given that as president Obama has done little, that he squandered his best opportunity to push through an actually progressive agenda (which was in 2009 and 2010), that instead of tackling the nation’s in-its-death-throes economy head on, he spent all of his initial political capital on “Obamacare” (I have to wonder if he had wanted to accomplish what Billary had tried but failed to accomplish when she was first lady — to reform health care), and that because Obama squandered his initial wealth of political capital, the Repugnican Tea Party traitors regained the House of Representatives in late 2010 and probably will retain it after the November 2014 election, thus ensuring that Obama will have no legacy other than the dubious “legacy” of “Obamacare.”

Would Billary Clinton as president have spectacularly squandered the political opportunity of 2009 and 2010 like Obama, with both houses of Congress controlled by his own party, did?

Sure, you might say, she would have tried again with health-care reform, and perhaps she would have, but at the same time, her husband’s mantra for his 1992 presidential run was the James-Carville-credited “It’s the economy, stupid!”

My guess — and, admittedly, it’s just a guess, just a hunch — is that as president, Billary would have worked to fix the economy first, and then focused on health-care reform later (if she ever took it up at all).

Consequently, my further guess is that had Billary been elected as president in 2008, the Democrats would have kept the House of Representatives after the November 2010 elections, allowing Billary to continue pushing for an actually progressive agenda beyond her first two years in office.

Barack Obama has been such a fucking failure and such a dismal disappointment, and already is a lame duck so early into his second term that already the 2016 presidential speculation has heated up; all of us already are looking to what comes after him, knowing that the rest of his second term will be, at best, a wash.

I mean, Billary Clinton is getting her own fucking miniseries on NBC, for fuck’s sake.

Yes, today.com reports:

Betting on Hillary Clinton’s second candidacy for president, NBC has ordered a four-hour miniseries based on the former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state’s life.

“Hillary,” starring Diane Lane [as Billary], will recount Clinton’s life from 1998 to the present and will be written by Oscar-nominated screenwriter Courtney Hunt (“Frozen River”). NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt announced the miniseries [yesterday] at the Television Critics Association summer press tour.

“I think she’s one of the most fascinating women of our time and this world,” Greenblatt [said]. “And on the precipice of what we all assume will be her running for president, we think it’s an interesting story to tell with classy producers and a great star.”

The script, which has not been written, will begin with Clinton living in the White House during her husband’s second term and will likely include her second run at becoming the nation’s first female president. It is not based on a book and Clinton is not involved with the project, Greenblatt said. Lane was already attached to the mini-series when NBC bought it, Greenblatt said. …

The miniseries would likely air before Clinton would announce her candidacy if she decides to pursue the nation’s highest office. …

Since Bill Clinton was impeached by the Repugnican-controlled House of Representatives over the (literally…) messy Monica Lewinsky scandal in December 1998 (and was acquitted in February 1999 by the Repugnican-controlled Senate, which could not muster the 67 votes necessary to remove a president from office), presumably the miniseries will begin with the bullshit, uber-partisan Lewinsky affair, but I expect the miniseries to get it over with fairly quickly.

Anyway, I get it that the NBC bigwig is shilling the show, but how, exactly, is Billary Clinton “one of the most fascinating women of our time and this world”?

What, exactly, has this whiskey-guzzling, supposedly “elitist”-hating, carpetbagging, Vietraq-War-rubber-stamping woman accomplished? Does not pretty much everything that she has “accomplished” stem from the fact that she has been married to William Jefferson Clinton?

Would the voters of New York have elected her as their U.S. senator in 2000 had she not first been first lady? Or, like almost anyone else would have been, would she have been rejected by New York’s voters as the shameless carpetbagger that she was?

How is gaining success via your spouse “fascinating”? Or inspiring? And what, exactly, does it do for feminism?

I’m more than ready for our First Female President, but I can’t say that I’m ready for President Billary Clinton.

I’m much more impressed by a woman who made it without having ridden her husband’s coattails. How about my own Sen. Barbara Boxer for president?

I have much more respect for her than I do for Billary. Not only did Boxer have the brains and the balls to vote against the Vietraq War in October 2002, but in January 2005 she had the balls to be the only U.S. senator to stand with U.S. representatives in their objection to the certification of Ohio’s Electoral College votes in light of the serious problems at Ohio’s polls. (Like Florida was crucial to George W. Bush’s “win” in 2000, Ohio was crucial to Bush’s “re”-election in 2004, and like Florida’s chief elections officer in 2000 [Katherine Harris] was openly supporting Bush’s campaign [no conflict of interest there!], so was Ohio’s chief elections officer in 2004 [Kenneth Blackwell].)

Boxer also in early 2005 famously took on then-U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza “You Know She’s Lying When Her Lips Are Moving” Rice during a hearing in D.C., stating, “I personally believe – this is my personal view – that your loyalty to the mission you were given, to sell the war, overwhelmed your respect for the truth.” Hell yeah!

When did Billary Clinton ever do anything as courageous as these things?

Much like Barack Obama used to be, Billary to a large degree still is a political rock star, even though, like Obama, she has accomplished little to nothing in D.C. and thus doesn’t deserve the status.

But, just like in a high-school student-council election, it’s popularity, not accomplishment, that gets you into the White House. (Well, unless you’re George W. Bush; when, like Gee Dubya, you don’t have enough popularity, you have swing states’ chief elections officials who are of your party and the right-wing members of the U.S. Supreme Court and your governor brother help you out…)

And while Billary Clinton has little to no actual accomplishment, she does have popularity aplenty.

Billary shows a whopping 50 (yes, a five-oh)-point lead above Vice President Joe Biden in recent polls of 2016 Democratic presidential candidate preference. Biden consistently comes in at second place in only the low double digits. Yes, Billary consistently is hitting more than 60 percent in these polls.

The Repugnican Tea Party traitors, on the hand, have no clear front runner for the White House for 2016, with not one member of the possible field of Chris Christie, Pretty Boy Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Prick Perry, Prick Santorum and yes, Jeb Bush, able to reach even 20 percent in recent partisan 2016 presidential-preference polls.

And in recent hypothetical matches against Repugnican Tea Party traitors for the 2016 presidential election, Billary handily beats them all. She beats even her thus-far most formidable opponent, Chris Christie, by an average of 6 points. (Recent polls, by contrast, have Biden losing not only to Christie but even to the likes of Jeb Bush…)

In a Bloomberg poll taken not too terribly long ago (May 31-June 3), 40 percent of those polled said they “probably” or “definitely” would vote for Billary if she were the Democratic presidential candidate in 2016, while only 34 percent said they “definitely” would not vote for her. Twenty-three percent said they “might” vote for her and 3 percent said that they were “unsure,” so if you give her the support of only half of those individuals (which is 13 percent), that’s 53 percent before she’s even declared her candidacy.

Fifty-three percent is not bad. (And it’s what Obama got in 2008 — 52.9 percent of the popular vote.)

So, while I never have been and never will be enthusiastic about Billary Clinton, whom I consider to be just another Democrat in name only, just another Repugnican Lite, the numbers very apparently are behind her.

Add to this the probability that Billary’s mere official announcement of her candidacy probably would effectively or perhaps even literally, totally clear the Democratic field, saving her a primary fight and thus allowing her to focus her time, energy and money on the November 2016 election, while we’ll probably see another crowded Repugnican Tea Party primary field, as we did in 2012.

Not only will these Repugnican Tea Party candidates have to focus on the presidential primary elections (and caucuses) and the presidential general election, but if they have a particularly nasty primary season, the eventual winner could come out of the process fairly bruised, battered and tarnished.

And my guess is that the Repugnican Tea Party traitors’ “Benghazigate” bullshit** has been helping Billary more than it has been hurting her, in that those (34 percent or so) who already solidly hate her already solidly hate her, and in that if the Repugnican Tea Party traitors attack Billary viciously and frequently enough, they could induce even unenthusiastic-about-Billary people like me to support her.***

And that’s a feat that only morons of the magnitude of those who comprise the Repugnican Tea Party could accomplish.

*The fuller quote is:

“… You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are [going to] regenerate, and they have not.

“So it’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations. …”

Again, there is a word for these remarks: the truth.

Indeed, the “tea party’s” best accomplishment is blaming the wrong people for the nation’s problems (feminists, immigrants, non-heterosexuals, progressives [a.k.a. “socialists” or “Commies”], labor unionists [also a.k.a. “socialists” or “Commies”], Muslims, et. al.) while those who actually are responsible for the nation’s problems (the plutocrats, corporatocrats [Wall Street weasels and many, many others] and militarists, mostly) get off scot-fucking-free.

**Statistician god Nate Silver, who I hope writes about the 2016 presidential election despite the fact that he soon is leaving the New York Times for ESPN, wrote this about “Benghazigate” and Billary’s popularity back on May 31:

… So, are Americans carefully parsing through the details of the Benghazi attack — and finding Mrs. Clinton more culpable than Mr. Obama?

Probably not. Instead, the decline in her ratings was likely just a matter of time — and if the Benghazi hearings had not triggered it, something else would have.

… It’s easy to be popular when nobody is criticizing you — and there was a long period, from the closing stages of the 2008 campaign through most of her tenure as secretary of state, when Republicans had little interest in attacking Mrs. Clinton directly. Now that Republicans have chosen to engage her again, her numbers are coming down. … This is what happens when a politician returns to being in the partisan fray after having drifted above it for some time.

But if Mrs. Clinton were to run for president in 2016, Republicans would undoubtedly have found any number of other ways to criticize her — from her policy proposals, to concerns about her age or health, to gaffes that she might make on the campaign trail, to controversies recycled from her tenure as secretary of state.

Mrs. Clinton, if she runs in 2016, is highly unlikely to win by the double-digit margins that some polls have given her over prospective Republican opponents. But the same would have been true regardless of Benghazi. The main circumstances in which a presidential candidate wins by double digits are when that candidate is an incumbent running in a time of exceptional economic growth, or when the other party’s incumbent is viewed as having performed terribly. Or, every now and then, the opposing candidate might be viewed as extreme or incompetent, and swing voters will feel as though they have no real choice. …

I expect Billary, if she runs for president in 2016 (and I put it at more than a 75-percent chance that she will), to do about as well as Obama did in 2008 and in 2012 (Obama in 2008 beat John McCainosaurus 52.9 percent to 45.7 percent and in 2012 beat Mittens Romney 51.1 percent to 47.2 percent).

In fact, again, Billary’s polling against the most-popular-thus-far potential 2016 Repugnican Tea Party presidential candidate, Chris Christie, has her, on average, 6 percentage points ahead of him, and Obama’s average popular-vote victory over his Repugnican opponents in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections was 5.55 percent, which to me suggests that we’re seeing about a 6-percent gap between those Americans who prefer a Democratic president and those who prefer a Repugnican Tea Party president.

This to me appears to be a demographic (and not a situational) gap that the Repugnican Tea Party traitors cannot close, which would explain why they want to further rig our future elections, such as through even further voter suppression (especially in the name of preventing “voter fraud”) to the greatest extent that they humanly possibly can.

***That said, about the only way that I could see myself casting a vote for Billary for president in November 2016 would be if her Repugnican Tea Party opponent, whoever it is, actually were close to winning California and its huge chunk of electoral votes, which is quite unlikely, given that Billary beat even Barack Obama in California’s 2008 Democratic presidential primary election, 51.5 percent to 43.2 percent. She’s quite popular here in California.

However, were Billary’s campaign actually struggling nationally and her Repugnican Tea Party opponent actually within range of winning the White House in November 2016, I cannot, as I type this sentence, rule out holding my nose and giving her campaign some money…

As much as I’m not a fan of Billary, of course, when push comes to shove, I’d prefer her in the White House over any Repugnican Tea Party traitor.

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Finally (maybe), the president we voted for in 2008

“You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son,” President Barack Obama remarked during a press conference yesterday, immediately adding, “Another way of saying that is [that] Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.” He also remarked that while “Each successive generation seems to be making progress in changing attitudes when it comes to race,” “It doesn’t mean that we’re in a post-racial society” and “It doesn’t mean that racism is eliminated.” Anyone who has a problem with these words is a part of the problem.

I usually agree with Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson, but not this time. He begins his latest column thusly:

We should talk honestly about unresolved racial issues, such as those exposed by the Trayvon Martin case, but President Obama is not the best person to lead the discussion. Through no fault of his own, he might be the worst.

Indeed, yesterday President Hopey-Changey unexpectedly during a press conference at the White House finally discussed American race relations apparently in a way not meant to placate the incredibly easily rattled whitey.

This was the Obama I voted for in 2008 but could not vote for again in 2012, in no small part because of his history of probably being worse on the issues of race relations and racism than an actually progressive white president would have been.

Here are some nuggets from Obama’s remarks (which I recommend that you read in their entirety):

…[In] the African-American community at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here [in the Trayvon Martin case], [and] I think it’s important to recognize that the African-American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that — that doesn’t go away.

There are very few African-American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me.

And there are very few African-American men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me, at least before I was a senator. There are very few African-Americans who haven’t had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off. That happens often.

…The African-American community is also knowledgeable that there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws, everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws. And that ends up having an impact in terms of how people interpret the case.

…And so the fact that sometimes that’s unacknowledged adds to the frustration. And the fact that a lot of African-American boys are painted with a broad brush and the excuse is given, well, there are these statistics out there that show that African-American boys are more violent — using that as an excuse to then see sons treated differently causes pain.

…So — so folks understand the challenges that exist for African-American boys, but they get frustrated, I think, if they feel that there’s no context for it or — and that context is being denied. And — and that all contributes, I think, to a sense that if a white male teen was involved in the same kind of scenario, that, from top to bottom, both the outcome and the aftermath might have been different. …

Now, I don’t agree with every word that Obama spoke, such as his mindless, pro-plutocratic promotion of nonviolence — “If I see any violence, then I will remind folks that that dishonors what happened to Trayvon Martin and his family,” he remarked, even though the U.S. government and all other levels of government in the U.S. resort to violence for our plutocratic overlords all the fucking time, abroad and at home, while we commoners are never to respond in kind, thus helping to ensure the status quo (including, of course, our serfdom) — but even simple, obvious, irrefutable reminders of what black Americans routinely go through, such as being followed around at department stores and hearing the clicks of car-door locks in their presence, are powerful.

These simple truths are powerful because in the United States of America they so rarely are mentioned in the public square, and certainly, until now, never by the U.S. president.

These truths aren’t controversial because they’re truths, but because in the dysfunctional family that is the United States of America, truths that make many people uncomfortable are not to be uttered at all, and those who utter them usually are punished — not for lying, certainly, but for uttering the truths that, the unspoken but usually quite understood rule is, never are to be uttered because they make certain people — gasp!uncomfortable.

This dysfunctional bullshit needed to stop long ago, and the reason that Obama got my vote in 2008, at least in part, is that I trusted his ubiquitous promises of “hope” and “change”; I trusted him to start to break through all of the bullshit.

Unfortunately, Obama apparently has waited until his second term to begin to do so.

In his remarks about the Trayvon Martin case Obama also offered some policy changes in order to prevent similar cases from happening in the future. Among those remarks were these two:

“I think it would be useful for us to examine some state and local laws to see if it — if they are designed in such a way that they may encourage the kinds of altercations and confrontations and tragedies that we saw in the Florida case, rather than defuse potential altercations” and “…[If] we’re sending a message as a society in our communities that someone who is armed potentially has the right to use those firearms even if there’s a way for them to exit from a situation, is that really going to be contributing to the kind of peace and security and order that we’d like to see?”

I think he hit the nail on the head — the two big takeaways from the Trayvon Martin case are the problems of racial profiling (and racism and race relations in general, which, of course, are behind such profiling) and right-wing state laws that indeed actually encourage Wild-West-style violence rather than work to reduce violence.

The only Americans who possibly could have a real problem with Obama’s remarks are those who are guilty as charged. These would be the racists and white supremacists who have opposed Obama from Day One anyway.

I get it that Obama also from Day One was careful, probably especially once he stepped into the national limelight, not to appear to be an “angry” black man, lest too many white (and other non-black) people be put off by it and not vote for him. (There is a reason that someone like Obama, and not someone like Jesse Jackson [who did run for president — back in the day I went to his presidential campaign stop at my university], became our first black president.)

However, up until now Obama has gone too far in the direction of caution, neglecting the issue of race to the point that, again, I seriously have considered that an actually bold, progressive white (or other non-black) president would have done much more to improve the lives of black Americans than Obama has.

Obama’s chronic over-caution has had the paradoxical effect, I suspect, of making the fact that he’s been our first black president to be fairly meaningless, in terms of the quality of black Americans’ lives. Hell, not even just meaningless, but actually detrimental, given his “leadership” style of holding back and doing little to nothing (not only on race relations but on most matters of importance; for instance, I’ll never forget his relative inaction while British Petroleum just filled the Gulf of Mexico with oil, arguably the first real test of his presidential mettle).

Still, I suppose, better late than never, although none of us should expect that Obama now will be talking frankly and candidly about race and race relations with any frequency between now and the end of his second term. It’s never been his style, and I can’t see him radically changing his style now.

But it is the job of the president of the United States of America to talk about social issues, and to be a leader to the nation that elected him or her, and probably the most controversial social issues are the ones that need to be discussed the most, just as the most painful parts of your body are the parts that most need medical attention — certainly not denial and avoidance.

And a part of the American body politic that needs medical attention — stat — is the demographic of young black males. “We need to spend some time in thinking about how do we bolster and reinforce our African-American boys,” Obama also remarked yesterday, adding, “There are a lot of kids out there who need help who are getting a lot of negative reinforcement. And is there more that we can do to give them the sense that their country cares about them and values them and is willing to invest in them?”

Obama continued: “You know, I’m not naive about the prospects of some brand-new federal program. I’m not sure that that’s what we’re talking about here. But I do recognize that as president, I’ve got some convening power.”

Indeed. As president, Obama does have power, power that thus far he hasn’t used nearly enough for good.

So I have to disagree with Eugene Robinson when he states that “The record indicates that honest talk from Obama about race is seen by many [white (let’s face it, Robinson, who seems almost as timid as Obama does, very most likely mostly means white)] people as threatening” and that therefore, “the unfortunate fact is that if his aim is to promote dialogue about race, speaking his mind is demonstrably counterproductive.”

No, it is Obama’s up-to-now historical silence on the topic of race — other than non-threatening/non-“threatening,” throw-away platitudes — that has been demonstrably counterproductive.

Those who — gasp! — feel threatened!/“threatened”! and/or uncomfortable! need to get a fucking grip already, because they are the ones who have been preventing the United States of America from fulfilling its up-to-now fairly empty promises of liberty and justice for all.

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This isn’t Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, either

Updated below

TK

No one photograph captures the totality of any one human being. Fucking duh.

A Massachusetts state cop has, apparently without authorization, released images that he took of the capture of the accused Boston Marathon bombing participant Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in order to make a political point while blasting Rolling Stone for allegedly having tried to make a political point. (The image above is the image that has gone the most viral.)

“As a professional law-enforcement officer of 25 years, I believe that the image [of Tsarnaev] that was portrayed by Rolling Stone magazine was an insult to any person who has every worn a uniform of any color or any police organization or military branch, and the family members who have ever lost a loved one serving in the line of duty,” Massachusetts State Police Sgt. Sean Murphy huffed and puffed when he gave the images to Boston Magazine, continuing, “The truth is that glamorizing the face of terror is not just insulting to the family members of those killed in the line of duty, it also could be an incentive to those who may be unstable to do something to get their face on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.”

I get it that Murphy has a personal and political interest in protecting the authoritarian, law-and-order, “good”-guys-vs.-“bad”-guys, violence-loving, white-male patriarchy of which he is part and parcel, but it was unprofessional (and, hell, for all that I know, also illegal) for Murphy, on his own, to release the images to the media out of his own personal and political passions, and BBC News reports that Murphy apparently has been relieved of duty for having released the images without authorization.

Good!

Murphy is allowed his wingnutty opinions, but, when it comes to whether or not D. Tsarnaev’s attorneys can argue whether or not he can get a fair trial, a fucking Rolling Stone cover probably won’t factor into that argument, but a state cop’s having released photos of Tsarnaev and having called Tsarnaev “evil” and “the real Boston bomber” certainly could. So Murphy’s actions seem to me to be reckless at best, especially if he is interested in actual justice, as he apparently claims he is.

Yes, in his right-wing rant that the apparently right-wing Boston Magazine published, the leaker Murphy also proclaimed: “Photography is very simple, it’s very basic. It brings us back to the cave. An image like this on the cover of Rolling Stone, we [who, exactly, is “we”?] see it instantly as being wrong. What Rolling Stone did was wrong. This guy is evil. This is the real Boston bomber. Not someone fluffed and buffed for the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.”

While I agree that “photography is very simple,” that is the fucking problem. Murphy, apparently without any self-awareness of this, is guilty of the flip side of what he accuses Rolling Stone of having done.

I agree that one emo-looking image of D. Tsarnaev on the cover of Rolling Stone certainly doesn’t tell the whole story about the young man, but neither does one image (or even several images) of a sniper’s red-laser dot on Tsarnaev’s forehead tell the whole story about him.

Each of us is a complex human being who cannot be summed up in one fucking photograph.

And neither can even someone like D. Tsarnaev tidily and neatly be summed up in the single word “evil,” as Murphy so helpfully has done for us, and, of course, the difference between people like Murphy — authoritarian, self-righteous, patriarchy-promoting-and-protecting, hypocritically-violent-themselves types — and the rest of us is that while Murphy would deny that he contains any evil within himself at all, the rest of us acknowledge that we do.

And it’s those who deny that they have any evil within themselves at all who, in my book, are the most dangerous of all, which is perhaps why our plutocratic overlords love to have these sociopathic types in the U.S. military and in U.S. law enforcement (and, let’s face it, most of the time “our” laws apply only to us commoners, and not to our plutocratic overlords).

Update: Via Slate.com, this is a clarification of what has happened with Sgt. Sean Murphy:

Though he’s been relieved of duty, Murphy has not been fired. The status of his duty is to be reviewed next week. Two lieutenants in an unmarked cruiser and a sergeant in a marked cruiser arrived at Murphy’s home about 7:40 [last night] and, during about 20 minutes at his home, took the following: his gun, badge, ammunition, handcuffs, baton, bulletproof vest, cameras, police ID, license to fire arms, pepper spray, cellphone and computer. Murphy was also ordered not to speak to the press or discuss the capture of Tsarnaev with anyone else.

My guess is that he’ll get a slap on the wrist. At the bare minimum, in my book, he no longer should be allowed to photograph police activity.

Also, the Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi wrote a good piece defending Rolling Stone. Sure, you might say, of course he’s going to defend his employer, but nonetheless, he makes some good points, such as these:

… I think, on the whole, the people leveling these criticisms must not read the magazine, which is understandable. It would be beyond unreasonable to expect everyone in the country to be regularly familiar with the articles in Rolling Stone. On the other hand, pretty much everyone has heard of Rolling Stone, which is where the problem lay, in this gap between the popular image of the magazine and the reality of its reporting.

If indeed we were just a celebrity/gossip mag that covered nothing but rock stars and pop-culture icons, and we decided to boost sales and dabble in hard news by way of putting a Jim Morrison-esque depiction of a mass murderer on our cover, that really would suck and we would deserve all of this criticism.

But Rolling Stone has actually been in the hard news/investigative reporting business since its inception, from Hunter S. Thompson to Carl Bernstein to Bill Greider back in the day to Tim Dickinson, Michael Hastings, Mark Boal, Janet Reitman and myself in recent years.

One could even go so far as to say that in recent years, when investigative journalism has been so dramatically de-emphasized at the major newspapers and at the big television news networks, Rolling Stone’s role as a source of hard-news reporting has been  magnified. In other words, we’re more than ever a hard news outlet in a business where long-form reporting is becoming more scarce. …

If the Rolling Stone editors had brought Tsarnaev in to its offices near Rockefeller center, wined and dined him, and then posed him for that Jim Morrison shot, then yes, that would be reprehensible.

But that’s not what the magazine did. They used an existing photo, one already used by other organizations. The New York Times, in fact, used exactly the same photo on the cover of their May 5 issue.

But there was no backlash against the Times, because everyone knows the Times is a news organization. Not everyone knows that about Rolling Stone. So that’s your entire controversy right there – it’s OK for the Times, not OK for Rolling Stone, because many people out there understandably do not know that Rolling Stone is also a hard-news publication. …

[Regarding] the idea that the cover photo showed Tsarnaev to be too nice-looking, too much like a sweet  little boy[,] I  can understand why this might upset some  people. But the jarringly non-threatening image of Tsarnaev is exactly the point of the whole story. If any of those who are up in arms about this cover had read Janet’s piece, they would see that the lesson of this story is that there are no warning signs for terrorism, that even nice, polite, sweet-looking young kids can end up packing pressure-cookers full of shrapnel and tossing them into crowds of strangers.

Thus the cover picture is not intended to glamorize Tsarnaev. Just the opposite, I believe it’s supposed to frighten. …

I recommend Taibbi’s piece in its entirety.

It was clear to me immediately that Rolling Stone had repurposed an existing image of Tsarnaev for its cover. I have to wonder if Sean Murphy is so stupid as to not have realized that, or if he realized that but intentionally wanted to mislead others in his personal crusade against Rolling Stone, which his own words — his description of the image of Tsarnaev that RS used as “someone fluffed and buffed for the cover of Rolling Stone magazine” — suggest.

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Rolling Stone hasn’t glorified Tsarnaev

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev boston bomber

Rolling Stone magazine is accused of having glorified Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the accused Boston Marathon bombing participant, by having featured a flattering image of him on the cover of an upcoming issue, but the accusation is bullshit.

Admittedly, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in the image on the Rolling Stone cover is fairly attractive — he reminds me at least a little bit of the yumlickcious young actor Aaron Johnson:

— and my guess is that Tsarnaev was doing his best to be sexy and alluring in the photo (I’ve seen him look significantly less flattering in other photos), but the words that appear right under Tsarnaev’s mug on the Rolling Stone cover — “How a Popular, Promising Student … Became a Monster” — kind of indicates that Rolling Stone isn’t glorifying him, doesn’t it?

And what the fuck should Rolling Stone have done? Found the most unflattering photo of Tsarnaev that they could have found and then Photoshopped horns onto his head?

Anyway, so much has the unwarranted criticism been that on its online posting of the cover story about Tsarnaev, Rolling Stone added this editors’ blurb:

Our hearts go out to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, and our thoughts are always with them and their families. The cover story we are publishing this week falls within the traditions of journalism and Rolling Stone’s long-standing commitment to serious and thoughtful coverage of the most important political and cultural issues of our day. The fact that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is young, and in the same age group as many of our readers, makes it all the more important for us to examine the complexities of this issue and gain a more complete understanding of how a tragedy like this happens. –THE EDITORS

It’s too bad that the editors had to feel the need to do that.

Anyway, it’s a long story on Tsarnaev, and while early on it does describe Tsarsaev as “a beautiful, tousle-haired boy” with “soulful brown eyes,” it strikes me as a serious, thoughtful piece on Tsarnaev and the Boston Marathon bombing, not as some fangirl’s (or fanboy’s…) fawning, effusive screed. (Not to be sexist, I hope, but the author of the piece is a female, and so it’s not shocking to me that she took a softer, more human tone, instead of an authoritarian, law-and-order tone.)

Those who bash Rolling Stone should (1) look at what Rolling Stone actually published, in its entirety, and (2) get the fuck over themselves.

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Millions murdered Trayvon Martin

These editorial cartoons pretty much sum it up, methinks.

I haven’t written much, if anything, about the Trayvon Martin case, since I usually don’t blog about incidents of shootings, stabbings, rapes, etc. unless they have a wider significance.

But the Trayvon Martin case, of course, does have a wider significance.

I don’t know which individual on that fateful night of February 26, 2012, in a gated community in Sanford, Florida, physically posed the larger threat to the other, the 17-year-old Martin, who was black, or the then-28-year-old half-Latino-and-half-white George Zimmerman. (Yes, in this case, the race of the individuals involved has mattered.)

But the indisputable facts are that Zimmerman had a gun and Martin did not, and that Zimmerman shot Martin dead.

The indisputable fact is that Zimmerman was playing cop in a gated community (those two words, “gated community,” speak volumes as to the sociological context of Martin’s death*), and that such vigilantism should be illegal in all 50 states.

There is a reason that actual cops, in order to become actual cops, in most instances have to demonstrate a minimum amount of intelligence and a minimum amount of psychological health: Because you don’t want morons and/or those who have head issues walking around communities with guns, playing cops.

And I can’t see that Zimmerman wasn’t racially profiling Martin: What’s a young black man doing in this gated community? (Let’s fucking face it: The No. 1 function of a gated community is to keep certain “undesirables,” who more often than not have darker skin, out and away from the wealthier and usually lighter-skinned denizens of the gated community.)

Oh, wasn’t that Zimmerman’s mindset? Would Zimmerman have pursued, with his loaded pistol, a young white man who was dressed as a preppy?

And once you have made yourself into a pseudo-cop, don’t you want to “have to” play the role at some point? So wouldn’t you be looking for such an opportunity?

Zimmerman was just acquitted in Martin’s shooting death, but, it seems to me, Zimmerman was guilty at least of manslaughter. In a saner and more just state, such as my state of California, Zimmerman most likely would have been found guilty of at least manslaughter, I surmise. However, the backasswards state of Florida (along with other backasswards states) allows yahoos to walk the streets with guns, and to use those guns to “stand their ground.”

That’s Wild-West bullshit.

Martin wasn’t pursuing Zimmerman on that night. Zimmerman, playing cop, was pursuing Martin. Zimmerman was acting offensively, not defensively. He wasn’t “standing his ground” against an unprovoked attack on his person. No, he was playing cop.**

The state of Florida, along with George Zimmerman, killed Trayvon Martin, along with the gun-nut lobby and, of course, the institutional racism that of course still persists and will persist in the United States of America for some time to come. Martin’s murderers number in the millions.

These “stand your ground” laws need to go, or at least need to be modified to make clear that you aren’t “standing your ground” if you are the fucking aggressor — especially if you are the armed aggressor against an unarmed (or hell, even armed) individual who has made no threatening advance toward you in public. (“In public” is key there; no, I do not assert that an individual does not have the right to defend his or her own home against an actual intruder, for instance, and for actual self-defense I do support the Second Amendment.)

For the reasons that I have just laid out, I support the NAACP’s and other black community leaders’ push to have Attorney General Eric Holder’s Department of Justice file federal civil-rights charges against Zimmerman, even though such an action probably would touch off a race-based firestorm, given that the U.S. president and the U.S. attorney general are black.

(President Barack Obama is conflict-adverse, however, perhaps especially when it comes to issues of race — recall that he quickly and summarily threw the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Van Jones and Shirley Sherrod, all of whom are black, under the bus when they came under attack from the white-supremacist right wing — so I certainly don’t expect the Justice Department to file federal civil-rights charges against Zimmerman, regardless of how appropriate doing so might be.)

However, the seeking of justice for the very apparent race-based murder of Trayvon Martin needs to go waaay beyond George Zimmerman. It needs to encompass the entire state of Florida and every other state with the so-called “stand your ground” laws, which are a white supremacist’s or other racist’s wet dream: the opportunity to commit race-based murders while claiming self-defense.

If you believe that the U.S. Department of Justice should file civil-rights charges in the Trayvon Martin case, you can sign this petition and/or this petition. I have signed both of them.

*On that note, I very much look forward to the upcoming sci-fi film “Elysium,” starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster and written and directed by “District 9” creator Neill Blomkamp, whose 2009 “District 9” apparently was a statement on the white-on-black racism in South Africa.

From the previews, “Elysium” appears to be a bold statement on the direction in which the United States of America — as well as other nations, too, of course — with their haves and their have-nots, are going.

**A friend of Trayvon Martin, Rachel Jeantel, infamously testified that while she was talking to Martin on his cell phone shortly before he was killed, Martin reported that he was being followed by a “creepy-ass cracker.”

While I don’t know that I’d call George Zimmerman a “cracker,” as he looks Latino to me, and technically isn’t a “cracker,” I imagine that on the night of February 26, 2012, he indeed looked “creepy-ass,” pursuing his victim with a loaded pistol while playing cop. He probably looked crazed, because he apparently was.

And Rachel Jeantel, was treated horribly in the courtroom, was treated as though her English was not clear when it was quite clear if you actually just listened to the words that came from her mouth. Her mistreatment smacked of racism, and that the court allowed this mistreatment of her is yet another indication that there is a huge fucking problem in the state of Florida — and so that, again, it would be quite appropriate for the U.S. Justice Department to act on this.

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Patriot Ed Snowden evokes Nuremberg in his ongoing fight for freedom

Snowden wants Russia asylum, lawmaker says

Associated Press image

American patriot Edward Snowden during a press conference at a Moscow airport today stated that he has been following “the principle declared at Nuremberg in 1945: ‘Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience. Therefore individual citizens have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring.'” Amen. The U.S. government does not own us. We own it. Ultimately, all of us, every single human being, is a citizen of the world — and not the property of any one nation. (The full transcript of Snowden’s remarks of today are below; I recommend that you read every word.)

I was just asking to be rescued from the ocean of freedom in which I’m drowning (U-S-A! U-S-A!), but I’m still drowning in all of that freedom!

Very apparently, the elites in D.C., who stopped representing our interests long, long ago, believe that they have the right to restrict our right to travel freely.

To me, the right to travel freely — until and unless one has been demonstrated in a fair trial in a court of law to pose an actual (and not a hypothetical) threat to others — is a universal human right, and if we bash certain other nations for restricting their citizens’ right to travel freely (and we do), then we’re fucking hypocrites (as usual) when we do the same.

To wit: The Repugnican-Tea-Party-controlled U.S. House of Representatives — and remember, these very same wingnuts claim that they’re all about “freedom” — apparently want to put further restrictions on American citizens’ right to travel to Cuba.

The pro-capitalist/pro-feudalism wingnuts hate the anti-capitalist Cuba, you see, and they want the continued monetary support of Cuban Americans, the majority of whom (like Florida’s Marco Rubio and Texas’ Ted Cruz) are wingnuts, so, to keep the tiny minority of Americans who are of Cuban descent happy and to keep their campaign contributions (well, their bribes) flowing, the wingnuts want to tell us Americans which nations we may visit and which nations we may not.

Where Cuba is concerned, this is for purely political/ideological reasons, and therefore it is a blatant violation of our human rights. We Americans essentially are to be political prisoners of the right wing. Yes, to me, restricting someone’s free travel is in same league as false imprisonment: You are unjustly restricting someone’s freedom of movement from one place to another.

This isn’t just a Repugnican Tea Party thing.

American patriot Edward Snowden’s latest pronouncement (which he made during a press conference in Russia today) is that (as we already knew) the U.S. government is doing its damnedest to keep him virtually imprisoned in Russia. Snowden has asked for temporary asylum in Russia while he figures out how to travel to one of the Latin American nations, including Venezuela, that have offered him permanent asylum.

Snowden should be able to travel anywhere on the planet, but the U.S. government, the biggest bully on the planet, has been strong-arming weaker nations into preventing Snowden from flying over their airspace; these weakers nations fear that if they don’t succumb tot he U.S. government’s demands, the U.S. government will retaliate against them.

That’s called bullying, and bullying comes from a space of cowardice, not of strength. A strong nation doesn’t need to violate a single individual’s human rights. We say this all the time of individuals: If you have nothing to hide, then what are you worried about? I say the same thing to the treasonous elites of the U.S. government: If you have no wrongdoing to hide, then why the hell are you working so hard to persecute Edward Snowden?

It’s obvious that Snowden can’t get a fair trial in the U.S., not when the American “justice” system is controlled by the same treasonous elites who want his head on a silver platter. Therefore, because he is the victim of political persecution, his application for political asylum in another nation is apt.

While the treasonous elites in D.C. more or less have stopped calling Snowden a “traitor,” they’re still doing what they can to snare him, and if we allow them to persecute him, then we are enabling them to expand their net until one day, sooner rather than later, any of us commoners who have embarrassed and/or pissed off the treasonous elites can be branded as “traitors” — not because we actually harmed the nation in any way, of course, but only because we dared to cross our overlords.

Of course, perhaps the reason that the treasonous elites in D.C. more or less have stopped calling Snowden a “traitor” — aside from the fact that such pronouncements have demonstrated already that he cannot get a fair trial in the U.S. — is that Snowden’s status as a “traitor” is the minority view.

While the results of the Quinnipiac University poll of more than 2,000 registered voters nationwide that was taken from June 28 through July 8 admittedly are a bit schizophrenic, the answer to at least one of the questions seems fairly clear. That question was “Do you regard Edward Snowden — the national security consultant who released information to the media about the phone-scanning program [that’s not exactly all of it, but whatever ] — as more of a traitor, or more of a whistleblower?”

Only 34 percent of the poll respondents were willing to brand Snowden a “traitor,” while 55 percent deemed him a “whistleblower,” and 11 percent (for some reason) were “unsure.”

So entrapped are they in their Big Bubble of Privilege that the treasonous elites in D.C. from both of the duopolistic, pro-plutocratic, pro-corporate parties casually pronounced Snowden a “traitor,” when only about a third of the Americans whose interests these elites actually claim to represent agree with that assessment, while more than half of them — of us — disagree with that assessment. (Can you say “Out of fucking touch”?)

It seems to me that the elites in D.C. need to tread with caution. Maybe, just maybe, Americans are waking up to the fact that it’s our over-privileged overlords, and not young patriots like Edward Snowden, who are the real traitors who are doing the real damage to this nation and to the rest of the world.

P.S. Thus far Edward Snowden’s legal defense fund through the Progressive Change Campaign Committee has raised more than $37,000. I’ve given $30 thus far; if you wish, you can contribute here (be sure to give to the “PCCC Strategic Fund”).

Here is the transcript of Snowden’s remarks of today:

Hello. My name is Ed Snowden. A little over one month ago, I had family, a home in paradise, and I lived in great comfort. I also had the capability without any warrant to search for, seize and read your communications. Anyone’s communications at any time. That is the power to change people’s fates.

It is also a serious violation of the law. The Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution of my country, Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and numerous statutes and treaties forbid such systems of massive, pervasive surveillance.

While the U.S. Constitution marks these programs as illegal, my government argues that secret court rulings, which the world is not permitted to see, somehow legitimize an illegal affair. These rulings simply corrupt the most basic notion of justice – that it must be seen to be done. The immoral cannot be made moral through the use of secret law.

I believe in the principle declared at Nuremberg in 1945: “Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience. Therefore individual citizens have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring.”

Accordingly, I did what I believed right and began a campaign to correct this wrongdoing. I did not seek to enrich myself. I did not seek to sell U.S. secrets. I did not partner with any foreign government to guarantee my safety. Instead, I took what I knew to the public, so what affects all of us can be discussed by all of us in the light of day, and I asked the world for justice.

That moral decision to tell the public about spying that affects all of us has been costly, but it was the right thing to do and I have no regrets.

Since that time, the government and intelligence services of the United States of America have attempted to make an example of me, a warning to all others who might speak out as I have. I have been made stateless and hounded for my act of political expression.

The United States Government has placed me on no-fly lists. It demanded Hong Kong return me outside of the framework of its laws, in direct violation of the principle of non-refoulement – the Law of Nations. It has threatened with sanctions countries who would stand up for my human rights and the [United Nations] asylum system. It has even taken the unprecedented step of ordering military allies to ground a Latin American president’s plane in search for a political refugee.

These dangerous escalations represent a threat not just to the dignity of Latin America, but to the basic rights shared by every person, every nation, to live free from persecution, and to seek and enjoy asylum.

Yet even in the face of this historically disproportionate aggression, countries around the world have offered support and asylum. These nations, including Russia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Ecuador have my gratitude and respect for being the first to stand against human rights violations carried out by the powerful rather than the powerless. By refusing to compromise their principles in the face of intimidation, they have earned the respect of the world. It is my intention to travel to each of these countries to extend my personal thanks to their people and leaders.

I announce today my formal acceptance of all offers of support or asylum I have been extended and all others that may be offered in the future. With, for example, the grant of asylum provided by Venezuela’s President Maduro, my asylee status is now formal, and no state has a basis by which to limit or interfere with my right to enjoy that asylum.

As we have seen, however, some governments in Western European and North American states have demonstrated a willingness to act outside the law, and this behavior persists today. This unlawful threat makes it impossible for me to travel to Latin America and enjoy the asylum granted there in accordance with our shared rights.

This willingness by powerful states to act extra-legally represents a threat to all of us, and must not be allowed to succeed. Accordingly, I ask for your assistance in requesting guarantees of safe passage from the relevant nations in securing my travel to Latin America, as well as requesting asylum in Russia until such time as these states accede to law and my legal travel is permitted. I will be submitting my request to Russia today, and hope it will be accepted favorably.

If you have any questions, I will answer what I can.

Thank you.

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