Tag Archives: Brazil

¡Viva AMLO!

AMLO

Reuters photo

Mexicans are poised to elect democratic socialist Andrés Manuel López Obrador as their new president by double digits today. This is excellent news for freedom, democracy, fairness and justice.

I’ve been meaning to write about Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who is expected to be elected as the next president of Mexico today. I’m not too late, as his victory has yet to be announced. As Politico reports today:

Mexico City — Mexicans [today] appear likely to elect a left-wing populist president who has campaigned on standing up to President Donald Trump, potentially ushering in a more confrontational era of U.S.-Mexico relations on everything from immigration policy to trade.

Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a former mayor of Mexico City who styles himself as a champion for rural Mexico, has enjoyed a double-digit lead over the other top candidates from the country’s major parties for months.

His vows to eradicate violence and official corruption — long unaddressed by outgoing Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s ruling PRI party — have played a major role in lifting him to the head of the pack. But his pledge to defend Mexicans from Trump, coupled with his nationalistic rhetoric, has also bolstered his standing with Mexican voters.

López Obrador traveled through the U.S. after Trump was elected to advocate for Mexican immigrants living in the states and even published a book called Oye, Trump (Listen Up, Trump) that condemns Trump’s plans to build a border wall and “his attempts to persecute migrant workers.”

Mexico “will never be the piñata of any foreign government,” López Obrador, 64, told more than 90,000 supporters at a rally here to close out his campaign on Wednesday.

The election of López Obrador — like Trump, known for his impulsive and nationalistic tendencies — could further strain U.S-Mexico relations. The candidate, nicknamed AMLO, says illegal migration to the U.S. should be addressed with economic development programs, not a border wall.

And while he supports continued talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, he’s also been a critic of free trade in the past, arguing that Mexico needs to be more self-sufficient.

“AMLO won’t hold back the way Peña Nieto has,” said Mark Feierstein, former senior director for western hemisphere affairs at the National Security Council. “Peña Nieto has been very passive toward Trump and toward the United States.” …

Not that the U.S. government won’t do everything in its power to try to cripple the democratically elected López Obrador. The “freedom-loving” U.S. government has a long history of tyrannically violently overthrowing left-wing presidents whom the people of their nations elect to office, including in Nicaragua, Guatemala, Bolivia, Brazil and Chile. Historically, Latin American nations had better elect right-wing candidates who promise to do the bidding of the rich oligarchs in the United States of America, even if this make them fucking traitors to their own people, you see.

However, I don’t see a weakened United States (weakened by years of bogus warfare in the Middle East and weakened by our dumbest “president” ever [George W. Bush is fucking Einstein compared to Pussygrabber]) being able to overthrow López Obrador. Mexico isn’t Guatemala or Nicaragua or Panama or El Salvador or Honduras or the Dominican Republic or some other smaller Latin-American nation that the U.S. government found fairly easy to bully.

Mexico is the big enchilada, not only the most populous Latin-American nation by far, but also, more than 11 percent of Americans are Mexican-American, and Mexican Americans make up almost two-thirds of Latinos in the United States. That and they have their legions of non-Latino supporters, such as yours truly.

If you scoff at that, look at how quickly the unelected, illegitimate, fascist Pussygrabber regime backed down after the majority of the nation, Mexican-American or otherwise Latino and not, was outraged at the fascist’s regime treatment of “illegal aliens” — outrage that continues, and that won’t allow simply exchanging separating and locking up families for simply locking up the families together.

I wish AMLO the best as president of Mexico, and if “my” government tries to cripple his presidency, as is so predictable, I am on Mexico’s side, the side of democracy; the side of the people who have expressed their wishes through their votes; the side of a nation’s sovereignty to democratically guide itself, free from interference from imperialist nations that have only their own greedy interests in mind; and the side of right over wrong, the side of good over evil.

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With Ireland, yet another pink domino topples; next up, the United States

. Dublin (Ireland), 23/05/2015.- People reacting to results coming in from constituencies around Ireland suggesting an overwhelming majority in favour of the referendum on same-sex marriage, in Dublin, Ireland, 23 May 2015. The first results were declared in Ireland's historic vote on same-sex marriage, with every indication that the Yes side has won, as opponents of the measure conceded defeat. Sligo-North Leitrim in the north-west was the first of 43 constituencies to declare with a 53.6-per-cent vote in favour, followed by Waterford in the south-east with 60.3 per cent voting Yes. (Irlanda) EFE/EPA/AIDAN CRAWLEY

EFE/EPA/Aidan Crawley photo

People in Dublin celebrate the passage of same-sex marriage in the widely-considered conservative nation of Ireland yesterday by more than 60 percent of the vote. Of course, this isn’t all about the Catholick church; it’s about human rights and freedom.

The news story headline from today “Church reels after Ireland’s huge ‘Yes’ to gay marriage” made me giddily happy, but the news story misses so much. It begins:

Dublin (AFP) — The once-dominant Catholic Church in Ireland was trying to come to terms [today] with an overwhelming vote in favour of gay marriage, saying it needed a “new language” with which to speak to people.

As jubilant “Yes” supporters nursed their hangovers after partying late into the night following [yesterday’s] referendum result, the faithful attended mass to hear their priests reflect on the new social landscape in Ireland.

“The Church has to find a new language which will be understood and heard by people,” Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, one of the Church’s most senior figures, told reporters after mass at the city’s St. Mary’s Pro Cathedral.

“We have to see how is it that the Church’s teaching on marriage and family is not being received even within its own flock.”

He added: “There’s a growing gap between Irish young people and the Church and there’s a growing gap between the culture of Ireland that’s developing and the Church.”

The majority of Irish people still identify themselves as Catholic but the Church’s influence has waned in recent years amid growing secularisation [gotta love the British spelling] and after a wave of clerical child sex abuse scandals.

During the campaign, bishops spoke against changing the law, while older and rural voters were thought to have accounted for much of the “No” vote.

Final results showed 62 percent in favour and 38 percent against introducing gay marriage in a country where being homosexual was a crime until 1993. …

Many things strike me. Where to begin?

As much as I’d love to celebrate the death of the Catholick church, it’s not dead yet. For decades Europeans, Americans, Latin Americans and others throughout the world have been calling themselves Catholicks but have doing what they want to do anyway. They disagree with the church on many issues, such as birth control, abortion and same-sex relationships, but go about living their lives as they wish to live them anyway, but still giving at least lip service to having some fealty to the Catholick church. They have been living compartmentalized lives, and this doesn’t seem to bother them much, if they even think about it much at all.

This phenomenon of compartmentalization (in order to avoid cognitive dissonance, apparently) is quite old, and while of course Ireland being the first nation in the world to establish same-sex marriage at the ballot box (rather via a legislature or court of law) is a milestone in equal human and civil rights for non-heterosexual and non-gender-conforming individuals — probably especially because Ireland is considered to be a conservative nation — the Catholick church will continue to sputter on until its eventual demise.

Remember that 10 years ago in the heavily Catholick nation of  Spain, the parliament passed same-sex marriage, which was favored by more than 60 percent of the nation’s people10 years ago. (“The ratification of [same-sex marriage in Spain] was not devoid of conflict, despite support from 66 percent of the population,” notes Wikipedia, adding, “Roman Catholic authorities in particular were adamantly opposed, criticizing what they regarded as the weakening of the meaning of marriage.“)

Spain was the third nation to legalize same-sex marriage, after the Netherlands and Belgium, and was quickly followed by Canada, which became the fourth nation to adopt same-sex marriage.

Since Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina and parts of the very heavily Catholic Mexico — Mexico City and the Mexican states of  of Quintana Roo and Coahuila — have followed with same-sex marriage. (And it’s important to note that any same-sex marriage that legally was performed anywhere in Mexico must be recognized throughout the nation’s 31 states.)

And following Mexico with same-sex marriage have been Denmark, Brazil, France, Uruguay, New Zealand, Luxembourg, Slovenia, Finland, England, Scotland and Wales, and now, Ireland.

A lot of Catholicks in the Western world live in jurisdictions where same-sex marriage is legal. Wikipedia, for instance, puts the populations of Ireland, Mexico and Portugal all at more than 80 percent Catholick, Argentina at more than 75 percent, Spain and Luxembourg at around 70 percent, Brazil and France at more than 60 percent, Belgium approaching 60 percent, and Slovenia and Uruguay around 50 percent.

So Ireland’s having joined the same-sex marriage fold yesterday can’t have been a huge shock; it’s not like it was unprecedented.

But I’ll take this latest win for love and for freedom, the freedom to live one’s life the way he or she wishes to, as long as he or she does not harm others — and no, violating some tyrannical, mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging theofascist’s backasswards beliefs on how we, the rest of us, may and may not live our lives (whether we even believe in a “God” or not) is not harming anyone else. Quite to the contrary, it’s the theofascists who always have been causing the harm (in the names of “God” and “Jesus” and “love”), to which the masses have been waking up and realizing, and thus the march of same-sex marriage rights continues throughout the globe. (A lot of work remains to be done, especially in the African, Middle Eastern, Asian and Muslim nations, as well as in Russia.)

Speaking of which, I find it interesting that it’s reported that the final tally from the vote in Ireland yesterday is expected to exceed 60 percent, since earlier this month the polling organization Gallup reported that a record number of Americans polled — 60 percent — now support same-sex marriage. That’s fairly fast growth, considering that Americans didn’t reach the 50-percent mark in Gallup’s polling on same-sex marriage until 2011.

True, not even a full quarter of Americans call themselves Catholick (thank God), and of course we can’t blame only the Catholicks for their opposition to same-sex marriage in the United States, since there are plenty of other hateful, ignorant, right-wing “Christian” churches in the United States, such as the Southern Baptists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Methodists, and, of course, the Pentacostalists, who probably are the scariest of the theofascist “Christians” (whom I commonly call “Christofascists,” after “Islamofascists,” as though the fundamentalist Muslims had a monopoly on “God”-based fascism).

And, of course, the Catholicks aren’t monolithic; many if not even most of them personally are OK with same-sex marriage, despite the church’s official stance on the matter. Still, though, I can’t understand how anyone can support such an evil, harmful institution, even peripherally, such as by even still calling oneself a “Catholic,” knowing the damage that the Catholick Church has been wreaking upon humanity for centuries. (Ditto for the Protestant churches, too; even the more liberal Protestant churches still push a belief in “God,” which to me is only a Santa Claus on crack. [He sees you when you’re sleeping. He knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake!] The opiate of the masses, indeed.)

Of course, of what the Catholick Church and other “Christian” churches are most terrified is continuing to lose their grip on the masses’ minds, genitalia and wallets and pocketbooks. Virtually all organized religions, small or huge, are all about those in the upper echelons of the hierarchy, be they the petty pastors of puny Pentecostal churches or Il Papa himself.

These theofascist tyrants never have cared about anyone’s true freedom — only about their own power and wealth, the sustenance of which requires that others be enthralled to them through ignorance and fear, via “God,” “Jesus,” “heaven,” “hell,” “sin,” “eternal damnation,” etc.

The gaining of equal human and civil rights for non-heterosexual and non-gender-conforming individuals is only one front in the continuing throwing off of the theofascists’ centuries-long tyranny. Science, technology (including, of course, the communications revolution that the Internet has been), logic, reason, true democracy (which necessitates secularism) — in a word, modernity — is what poses the largest threat to the continued existence of the infantilezed organized religions that refuse to let go of their desire to infantilize and enthrall all of us.

Next up, I expect the U.S. Supreme Court to rule next month that no state in the U.S. may prohibit same-sex marriage, as such a prohibition violates the equal human and civil rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

The about-40 percent of Americans who still oppose same-sex marriage will, of course, quite predictably whine that a pro-same-sex marriage ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court is an anti-democratic fiat by “activists” judges (of course, if the U.S. Supreme Court actually were to rule against same-sex marriage [which I find unlikely], to the wingnuts this would be wholly democratic and the judges would not be “activist” at all, but simply would have done their job to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution, you see).

Of course, in the United States we never have had any national referenda, such as Ireland just did on the topic of same-sex marriage. In the U.S. there is no mechanism in place for the entire nation to vote on any matter other than who will be U.S. president and U.S. vice president, and given that the members of the U.S. Supreme Court are appointed by the president and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, we Americans, who elect the president and our U.S. senators, of course have some voice in the make-up of the U.S. Supreme Court, so to call the court’s rulings (the ones that we disagree with, mostly) entirely anti-democratic is, of course, largely if not mostly bullshit.

And I’m quite confident that were same-sex marriage put to a national referendum in the U.S., it would pass.

Gallup polling this month found 60 percent support for same-sex marriage in the U.S., but a CBS News/New York Times poll taken just before the Gallup poll found 57 percent support, and an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll taken right before that one found 58 percent support. A Quinnipiac University poll taken right before that one also found 58 percent support, and an ABC News/Washington Post poll taken at the same time as the Quinnipiac University poll found 61 percent support.

So Gallup’s finding of 60 percent seems to be no more than within a percentage point of two of the actual level of support for same-sex marriage within the United States. (The average of the five nationwide polls cited above, which were taken this month and last month, is 58.8 percent.)

Again, were same-sex marriage put to a national referendum in the United States of America, it would pass. It’s safe for the mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging haters to argue otherwise, since we never have national referenda here in the U.S., but the timid, behind-the-curve, right-of-center U.S. Supreme Court (which did, after all, decide the 2000 presidential election even though Al Gore had won more than a half-million more votes than did George W. Bush and decide that bazillionaires may have unlimited spending in elections) would not rule in favor of same-sex marriage if it weren’t confident that a solid majority of Americans are on board with it.

Because a solid majority of Americans are on board with same-sex marriage, the U.S. Supreme Court, perhaps further emboldened by the latest example of Ireland, most likely will rule in favor of same-sex marriage throughout the land.

And the land will not erupt in chaos and violent upheaval, as the theofascist terrorists warn us will happen (it’s just yet another terrorist threat meant to get them their way over the majority, even though they are in the solid minority), because where same-sex marriage is concerned, the U.S. democracy, such as it is, and as slow as it always has been to bring about equal human and civil rights for all, at least in the area of the constitutional right to same-sex marriage, is working.

Not quickly enough, but it is working, and next month we truly freedom-loving and love-loving Americans most likely will be celebrating in the streets like they have been celebrating in the streets of Ireland this weekend.

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Obama solidifies his status as a thug

Updated below

U.S. journalist Greenwald embraces his partner Miranda upon his arrival at Rio de Janeiro's International Airport

U.S. journalist Greenwald walks with his partner Miranda in Rio de Janeiro's International Airport

Reuters photos

The courageous American journalist Glenn Greenwald — who, unlike the cowardly traitors in Washington, D.C., actually respects and defends the Constitution of the United States of America — receives his partner, David Miranda, at Rio de Janeiro’s international airport after his partner was detained for nine hours yesterday by British thugs — lapdogs of the Washington elite — at the Heathrow Airport in London, where Miranda had stopped on his way from Germany to his and Greenwald’s home in Brazil.

Wow is the Obama regime out of fucking touch.

To have had the government officials of the United Kingdom — Washington, D.C.’s obedient little bitches (the UK, recall, was the only major nation to join in the unelected Bush regime’s illegal, immoral, unjust and unprovoked Vietraq War) — for several hours detain and interrogate the partner of journalist Glenn Greenwald and confiscate his cell phone, his lap-top computer and his memory sticks — was supposed to accomplish what, exactly?

If you are smart — and neither the thug in chief Barack Obama nor anyone else in the Obama White House (nor, pretty much, in all of D.C.) is — you always calculate how a strike at your enemy might harm or hinder your own political position. There is this thing called blowback, and when you abuse your power to actually attack your political enemy’s family, you might find that this blatant thuggery gains you even more enemies than allies. 

No doubt the megalomaniacal Obama thinks that he’s some fucking bad-ass and that by having had the UK detain Greenwald’s partner, David Miranda, with whom Greenwald is in a civil union, he is going to frighten — to terrorize, and to terrorize for political gain, which yes, makes it a form of terrorism — anyone else who, like Greenwald, would dare to challenge the D.C. elite by exposing their treason against the American people, even when the D.C. elite brazenly and obviously treasonously are violating the most basic provisions of the U.S. Constitution, of which no one, not even the bad-ass President Hopey-Changey, is above.

Obama is painting himself and his pathetic, plutocratic-ass-kissing, Constitution-violating, corporation-loving party into a corner. Obama and his bots for years now have believed that they don’t need us members of the actual (a.k.a. the “professional” and the “sanctimonious”) left, that they can act just like Repugnicans — with impunity and for perpetuity.

Except that the Repugnican Tea Party traitors are even bigger traitors than Obama and the Obamabots are, and that without the support of the actual left, the so-called “Democratic” Party is only going to continue to weaken. You can claim to represent the interests of the majority of the American people while actually representing the interests of only the plutocratic elites for only so long.

Memo to the DINOs (and you are, I realize, legion): We actual members of the left don’t have to vote for the “Democratic” presidential candidate. In 2000 I voted for Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader, and in 2012 I voted for Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein. And I’d do it again.

Even if the DINOs who now comprise the “leaders” of the “Democratic Party” don’t worry about losing votes — even if they are confident that enough deeply disappointed and disgruntled Democrats will hold their noses and still vote for the latest center-right offering labeled as a “Democrat” (and labeled as “the best that we can do”) — in order to consistently and decisively win elections, you need the enthusiasm and the dollars of your base, and once you have lost that, good luck in your fucking elections.*

Having the family members of your political opponents detained, when neither these family members nor even your political opponents have broken any law, is, as Greenwald himself put it, despotism. (“It’s bad enough to prosecute and imprison sources. It’s worse still to imprison journalists who report the truth. But to start detaining the family members and loved ones of journalists is simply despotic,” Greenwald correctly proclaimed.) It is, as I have put it, terrorism — the use of fear and intimidation for political gain.

In this case, the political gain is that the D.C. elite intend to continue to blatantly violate the constitutional rights of the American people by making the mere exposure of their crimes against the Constitution itself a “crime,” while they, the real criminals, remain free (instead of in prison, where they belong) to continue to commit their crimes against the American people and our Constitution.

The Obama regime officially has lost all credibility. The transformation of the so-called “Democratic” Party into the Repugnican Lite Party is complete.

The only question now, it seems to me, is whether enough of us actual patriots — those of us who actually care about our Constitution and our freedoms — will fight against the despotic “Democratic” Party (as well as against the even worse Repugnican Tea Party) or whether the United States of America will go out with a boom or with a whimper.

P.S. Glenn Greenwald, I am delighted to see, has vowed to fight on with even more determination than before. As a result of the despotic detention of his partner by the UK, the U.S.’s No. 1 partner in crime, Greenwald proclaimed, “[I’m] going to write much more aggressively than before, [and] I’m going to publish many more documents than before.”

That’s exactly how you respond to thugs: You do even more of what you were doing before. You don’t back down, because that’s what they want you to do, and you use their continued thuggery as evidence that you are on the right track. If you weren’t, they wouldn’t be attacking you.

Update (Monday, August 19, 2013): In case you actually believe that maybe the Obama regime was not behind the unlawful detention of Greenwald’s partner, know that the UK Guardian reports today that “the White House confirmed that it was given a ‘heads-up’ before David Miranda was taken into custody for nine hours at Heathrow [Airport in London],” but that “the U.S. distanced itself from the action by saying that British authorities took the decision to detain him.”

But did the Obama White House instruct or even ask the British government not to detain Miranda? Very most likely not.

And why was Miranda’s name on a “terrorist” watch list no doubt authored by the U.S. government in the first fucking place? Simply because he is a close associate of a journalist whose reportage the White House dislikes?

These are serious, Nixon-level abuses of power. These are not tiny things.

Finally, I recommend that you read Greenwald’s column on these latest events. Among other things, he writes:

…. They [the British officials who detained and questioned Miranda with at least the knowledge of the White House] completely abused their own terrorism law for reasons having nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism: a potent reminder of how often governments lie when they claim that they need powers to stop “the terrorists,” and how dangerous it is to vest unchecked power with political officials in its name. …

And the money shot:

… This is obviously a rather profound escalation of their attacks on the news-gathering process and journalism. It’s bad enough to prosecute and imprison sources. It’s worse still to imprison journalists who report the truth. But to start detaining the family members and loved ones of journalists is simply despotic. Even the Mafia had ethical rules against targeting the family members of people they felt threatened by.

But the UK puppets and their owners in the U.S. national security state obviously are unconstrained by even those minimal scruples.

If the UK and U.S. governments believe that tactics like this are going to deter or intimidate us in any way from continuing to report aggressively on what these documents reveal, they are beyond deluded. If anything, it will have only the opposite effect: to embolden us even further.

Beyond that, every time the U.S. and UK governments show their true character to the world — when they prevent the Bolivian president’s plane from flying safely home, when they threaten journalists with prosecution, when they engage in behavior like what they did [yesterday] — all they do is helpfully underscore why it’s so dangerous to allow them to exercise vast, unchecked spying power in the dark. …

Greenwald adds that Miranda’s cell phone and lap-top computer remain with UK authorities, who had no legal or ethical right to forcibly take them from Miranda in the first place.

Those who aren’t abusing their power and who thus have nothing to hide have no reason to go to lengths against individual citizens of the world like this.

I hope that Miranda sues the holy living fuck out of the British government, which is as fascistic as its U.S. counterpart.

*Well, of course, one could argue that both the Coke Party and the Pepsi Party (a.k.a. the “Democratic Party” and the “Republican Party”), having stopped representing the interests of the American people long, long ago, rely increasingly on corporate millions and millions to fund their shams of “campaigns,” so no, they don’t need the dollars of individual voters, but still, how long can two duopolistic, pro-plutocratic, corporately owned and controlled parties that stopped representing the interests of the majority of the American people go on?

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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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Thoughts on the new year from the Island of California



Early explorers thought that California is an island. It might as well be.

2011 should be an interesting political year.

It’s ironic that Repugnican former U.S. House of Representatives Majority Leader Tom DeLay has been convicted of money laundering just as his stupid white male ilk, led this time by the steely-cold-blue-eyed Repugnican Rep. John Boehner, are ready to take over the House — you know, to bring back the good old days of Tom DeLay & Co.

When we of the left say that Americans are fucktards, this is the kind of thing that we’re talking about: expecting the same bunch of people who sank the nation in the first place to be the same ones to rescue it.

Here in California, things should be at least a little different next year.

On November 2, not a single Repugnican was elected to statewide office here in California, and come early January, gone will be Repugnican Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was elected governor in the gubernatorial recall do-over election of 2003. (The Repugnican candidate in the 2002 gubernatorial election, Bill Simon, was an uncharismatic Richie Rich fucktard who lost to the uncharismatic Democratic incumbent, Gov. Gray Davis, although by just under 5 percent, so the Repugs just orchestrated a do-over election the next year with a much more charismatic candidate this time.)

Schwarzenegger promised to turn California around, but of course he leaves the nation’s most populous state in worse shape than it was when he got it. Ironically, in his too-short recall election campaign, Schwarzenegger blamed the BushCheneyCorp’s sins, including the Enron* debacle, on then-Gov. Gray Davis, even though Schwarzenegger had had a secret meeting with Enron head Ken Lay before he went on to run for governor of the state that Enron crippled. By Schwarzenegger’s own logic in 2003, though, we can blame only him for California’s current mess (even though, of course, the unelected BushCheneyCorp has been a huge factor in California’s decline, from 2001 to present). 

In the days of old, it was believed that California is an enchanted island — the long peninsula of Baja California is what gave the early explorers the idea that California is an island; they didn’t realize that Baja California is attached to the rest of the continent. (It is, in fact, attached to Mexico just under California.)

With the Mojave Desert in the southern part of the state and the Sierra Nevada mountain range running along the eastern part of the state, however, geography actually did leave California as somewhat of an island to itself, and for a while, anyway, these natural barriers for the most part kept the hordes of westward-immigrating white people out (two words: Donner party…).

Speaking of white people, it’s fairly clear that brown is the new black, and that as the nation’s population of Latinos continues to grow — here in California, more than a third of us are Latino, and more Latinos live in California than in any other U.S. state — the white supremacists, whose numbers, at least proportionally to the numbers of non-whites, are dwindling, are going to continue to blame the decline of the Great White American Empire on the browned-skinned.

A tea-bagging white-supremacist dipshit here in California (yes, unfortunately, plenty of fucktarded whiteys have made it past the Mojave Desert and the Sierra Nevada to inflict themselves upon the rest of us) has been given the legal go-ahead to try to collect enough signatures to put an Arizona-like anti-Latino law on the state ballot.

I expect the white supremacist, who used to be a Repugnican Party county chair (surprise surprise), to succeed in getting his signatures; it seems that nothing appeals to the voters like hatred, bigotry, ignorance and making scapegoats of minority groups. The voters seem to be loathe to OK anything productive, but to dog-pile upon already historically persecuted minority groups is just great fun! Proposition Hate was evidence of that.

However, while Prop H8 passed in November 2008, I expect a proposition for an Arizona-style anti-Latino law to fail here in California, where, unlike in Arizona, the majority of us are just fine with sharing our state with those of other races, and here in California, Latinos aren’t “other” — they are part of what makes California California, perhaps especially since California used to belong to Mexico, and the names of California’s largest cities are testament to that historical fact: Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco, Fresno, Sacramento, etc., etc.

Ironically, it seems that it’s the brown-skinned who most likely can save the sinking United States of America. While the United States’ white overlords seem congenitally unable to do anything but to overextend themselves and to self-destruct, like their British forebears did, progress is being made in South America.

Notes a columnist for The Christian Science Monitor:

One in 10 South Americans – about 38 million people – escaped poverty during the past decade. That’s remarkable progress by any measure.

Contrast that with the United States, where poverty has been growing due to a decade-long stagnation of income for the middle class and the Great Recession. In 2009, the U.S. had more poor people than in any of the 51 years since poverty levels have been estimated.

Of course, America’s poor are far better off than South America’s poor. And the U.S. still has a much lower poverty rate (14.2 percent versus around 70 percent). South America remains infamous for huge income gaps between a tiny elite and masses of people making, often, just $1 or $2 a day.

Still, 10 years of growing prosperity has shrunk that gap. The credit goes to democratic leftist governments that have vastly boosted social spending to help the poor, maintains Mark Weisbrot, a left-of-center economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington.

Half of that improvement comes from Brazil. Under outgoing President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the nation pushed up the minimum wage a real 65 percent in eight years, helping to raise the wages of tens of millions of workers, including many receiving more than minimum wage. A program offered small cash grants to poor families if they sent their children to school.

The results? Real income per person is up some 24 percent since 2000. Illiteracy is down. Poverty has been halved since 2002; extreme poverty is down by 70 percent, says Mr. Weisbrot, pulling more than 19 million people into the middle class.

And the economy hasn’t suffered. Unemployment under Mr. da Silva’s presidency dropped from more than 11 percent to 6.7 percent. Income inequality has fallen considerably.

Other nations with “progressive” governments have made much social progress, notes Weisbrot. He lists Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina and Venezuela. Under President Hugo Chávez, attacked by the right in the U.S., oil-rich Venezuela has tripled social spending per person since 2003. Attendance at universities has doubled. Most of the poor now get health care under a government program.

The continent weathered the financial crisis relatively well. Social spending rose. So there was no big rise in poverty, says Norbert Schady, an economic adviser to the Inter-American Development Bank, speaking from Quito, Ecuador.

Moreover, prospects for continued economic progress are strong. The Institute of International Finance (IIF), set up by the world’s biggest banks, forecasts 6 percent growth in gross domestic product in Latin America this year, which includes Mex­ico and Central America as well as South Am­er­ica. That growth should shrink poverty further.

By contrast, the IIF forecasts a 2.5 percent growth rate this year for the U.S. At that slow pace the U.S. could see a further rise in poverty. [Emphasis mine.]

South America’s new economic vigor is also causing a geopolitical shift. The U.S. has long considered Latin America part of its political and economic sphere of influence. Officials running South America’s left-of-center governments often charge the U.S. with imperial ambitions.

But as U.S. growth slows, South America’s businesses have reached out to other markets. While 15 percent of South America’s trade is still with the U.S., a greater share is tied to Europe. Also, trade within the continent is growing with a free-trade deal. So South American governments no longer feel so much under the thumb of the U.S.

What the columnist doesn’t note is that the Eye of Sauron, which sits atop the Pentagon, for decades focused its evil gaze upon Latin America, where its Uruk-hai ruthlessly quashed any democratically elected governments that actually dared to put the needs of the people above the greed of American corporations. And that now, with the Eye of Sauron having been focused on destroying the Middle East for the past decade, democracy has been flourishing in Latin America, and consequently, poverty there has been declining, now that U.S. interference there is at its lowest in decades.

Filmmaker Oliver Stone, in his worthwhile documentary “South of the Border” (in which he visits with South American presidents Hugo Chávez, Evo Morales, Lula da Silva, Cristina Kirchner [and her husband, former President Nestor Kirchner] and Rafael Correa and with Cuban leader Raul Castro), posits that, ironically, it might be the democratization of Latin America, with Latinos’ growing influence on U.S. politics, that finally democratizes the United States of America. (You know, something like that dreaded “domino effect” that the right wing used to talk about where Vietnam was concerned.)

California, with more Latinos than any other state (more than 13 million of them**), and now with Democrat Jerry Brown to take back the helm of the state on January 3, just might lead the way in the democratization of the nation.

The myth of California as a magical island might not be so mythical after all.

It will be interesting to watch the rest of the nation from the Island of California in 2011. I expect to see the nation only worsen under a Repugnican-controlled House of Representatives, and it will be interesting to see which wingnut emerges as the 2012 Repugnican Tea Party presidential nominee. Will it be Sarah Palin-Quayle, who says that we must stand with our “allies” in North Korea?*** It would be rather Kubrickian if a U.S. president nuked the wrong Korea, wouldn’t it?

Stay tuned. I sure will, from my island.

*Such wonderful things come out of the state of Texas: Tom DeLay, George W. Bush and Enron, to name just three. Really, when Repugnican-of-course Texas Gov. Rick Perry talks about secession, we should give him our full support in such an endeavor.

**Texas is at No. 2 in terms of its Latino population, with around 9 million Latinos.

***Really, though, it’s apparent that white privilege makes whites incredibly stupid, probably from their overly comfortable lives and their lack of any challenges.

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Easter celebration or a ‘tea party’?

I was looking at Salon.com’s little slide show titled “Holy Week around the world” when I saw some interesting Reuters images from Brazil and Spain. Boy, did I do a double-take.

Apparently, Brazil celebrates a “Procession of the Torches” in which the participants wear conical headdresses and carry torches

Photos:

Penitents attend the Procession of the Torches during Holy Week ...

Hooded penitents take part in the Procissao do Fogareu (the ...

Penitents attend the Procession of the Torches during Holy Week ...

Reuters and Associated Press photos

Jesus H. Christ — Easter or “Mississippi Burning”?

Anyway, even the Brazilian kiddies get involved in the festivities:

A girl dressed as a penitent prepares before a procession during ...

Young penitents take part in a Holy Week youth procession in ...

Children dressed as penitents prepare for a procession during ...

Associated Press and Reuters photos

Looks kinda like the Teletubbies meet the Ku Klux Klan to me…

And what’s this? A prototype of a “Star Wars”-inspired imperial guard for the increasingly embattled Pope Palpatine?

Penitents take part in the Santo Cepulcro procession during ...

Reuters photo

(Actually, the photo’s caption reads: “Penitents take part in the Santo Sepulcro procession during Holy Week in [La Paz, Bolivia, on] April 2, 2010.”) Also in La Paz:

A hooded penitent attends a Holy Week mass on Good Friday in ...

Associated Press photo

Y en El Salvador:

Penitents carry a statue of Jesus Christ as part of the Via ...

Reuters photo

Not to be outdone by Latin America, Spaniards also don pointy hats this time of year:

Devotees take part in the La Soledad procession during Holy ...

A young girl plays surrounded by Penitents taking part in the ...

Penitents take part in the procession of the 'Jesus Yacente' ...

Reuters, AFP and Associated Press photos

That photo above reminds me of “Logan’s Run” and I find it a bit chilling, actually… 

And even my neighbor Mexico gets in on the pointy-hat act:

Silent procession : Penitents on the procession of silence, ...

AFP photo

It’s all a bit sKKKary, and I think that my Easter has been ruined…

But seriously, why haven’t I seen this before? I’d thought that I’d already seen it all…

Can the pointy hats and the torches be a coincidence? Was the KKK influenced by Spanish and/or Latin American culture?

I just can’t see images like that and think, “Oh, Easter!” I tend to think: “Oh, a lynching!”

At least in their Holy Week celebrations in Spain and Latin America they don’t actually burn big wooden crosses, though — right?

Anyway, I pick on Spain and Latin America (I love them, or I wouldn’t have learned Spanish), but if you are interested in the topic, Yahoo! News has a much larger slide show of Holy Week celebrations from around the world here, including plenty of pictures — like this one:

A Filipino penitent has his feet nailed to a cross during yearly ...

Associated Press photo

— of “penitents” in the Philippines volunteering to have nails driven through their hands and feet (one phenomenon that I have been aware of for many years now).

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