Tag Archives: empire

My take: Jussie Smollett made it all up

goodmorningsmollett1

Actor Jussie Smollett cried during his first television interview after allegedly having been the victim of a hate crime on January 29. Meh. He very most likely was crying wolf. (He appears to me to be acting — fairly poorly — in that interview, by the way.)

I’ve been quiet on the alleged hate crime against TV show “Empire” star Jussie Smollett on January 29 in Chicago.

My inclination is to believe the victim, or at least to give the alleged victim the benefit of the doubt, anyway, but Smollett’s story was a bit over the top from the get-go: two male attackers, he claimed, poured bleach on him and put a noose around his neck and yelled, “This is MAGA country!” as well as racist and homophobic slurs.

Smollett initially reported that his attackers wore ski masks, but presumably they were white, since allegedly they had perpetrated a race-based hate crime against him and yelled “This is MAGA country!” (Indeed, in the TV interview mentioned above, by elimination he pretty much claims that his attackers were indeed white, which he apparently could see even though they were wearing ski masks.)

The details of the alleged hate crime against Smollett and its subsequent investigation are convoluted and go back and forth, with ample yes-but-no-but-no-but-yes. (You can read them here and here and in many other places on the Internet.) I won’t rehash all of them here.

But CNN reports today:

Two law enforcement sources with knowledge of the investigation tell CNN that Chicago Police believe actor Jussie Smollett paid two men to orchestrate an assault on him that he reported late last month.

The men, who are brothers, were arrested Wednesday but released without charges Friday after Chicago police cited the discovery of “new evidence.

“The sources told CNN the two men are now cooperating fully with law enforcement.

Smollett told authorities he was attacked early January 29 by two men who were “yelling out racial and homophobic slurs.” He said one attacker put a rope around his neck and poured an unknown chemical substance on him.

The sources told CNN there are records that show the two brothers purchased the rope found around Smollett’s neck at a hardware store in Chicago.

CNN’s attempts Saturday to reach both Smollett’s representative and attorney were unsuccessful.

Smollett identifies as gay and since 2015 has played the gay character of Jamal on the Fox TV drama “Empire.”

According to Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi, the actor told detectives he was attacked by two men near the lower entrance of a Loews hotel in Chicago. Police were told the two men yelled “‘Empire’ fa***t” and “‘Empire’ n***er'” while striking him.

The day after the incident, police released surveillance images that showed two silhouetted individuals walking down a sidewalk, and police said they were wanted for questioning.

The two men were arrested Wednesday. Police on Friday said the men were being viewed as “potential suspects” and that detectives had “probable cause that they may have been involved in an alleged crime.” [Note that that crime was not specified…]

But by Friday night they had been released, Guglielmi said, “due to new evidence as a result of today’s investigations.”

“And detectives have additional investigative work to complete,” he added.

One of the men has appeared on “Empire,” Guglielmi said. A police source also told CNN on Friday night that the men had a previous affiliation with Smollett, but did not provide additional details. …

It was reported that Smollett might have made up the attack because he feared that he was about to be written out of “Empire” — and presumably, the show-runners then would be hesitant to do so after he’d been attacked in a hate crime — but the show-runners have denied that Smollett’s role ever was in jeopardy. (Of course, for public relations reasons — to keep their target audience — they could be lying about that…)

In any event, if I had to put money on it, for whatever reason, I surmise, Smollett indeed made the whole thing up.

Not only was his initial report over the top — it would be rare for hate-crime attackers, who don’t tend to be all that smart or creative, to do all of the things that he alleged — and certainly they would have had to have been stalking him already, since they allegedly came prepared with props (bleach and a noose). And further, somehow they knew exactly when to bring those props with them: when the “Empire” star just happened to be going to Subway for food around 2 a.m.

Really?

Also, would real attackers really call Smollett “‘Empire’ faggot” and “‘Empire’ nigger”? Plain-old “faggot” and/or “nigger” I could see, but I rather doubt that they would mention the show in which he stars. Again: over the top. It’s bad writing because it beggars belief.

If Smollett actually is found to not have made the whole thing up, then I’d be the first to say so (and update this post accordingly) and offer and apology, but yeah, I very much doubt that Smollett’s story, in the end, will be corroborated.

If he lied — and he wouldn’t be the first to have lied about having been the victim of a hate crime — of course he has made it worse for those who come after him who actually are the victims of hate crimes, and of course he should be prosecuted for having lied to the police.

And I’ll come out and say it: the black community hasn’t been big on defending gay people, to put it quite mildly and charitably, so it seems to me that in this case they have responded more to the alleged racist hate crime against Smollett than to the alleged homophobic hate crime against him.

Just sayin’: The Smollett case apparently not only says a lot about Smollett and what apparent bullshit story he believed would fly in this age of toxic identity politics, but says a lot about those who were so quick to claim that he had to be telling the truth — before the details of the investigation ever even came out. It’s been quite the Rorschach test. (See: confirmation bias.)

P.S. Smollett apparently even fooled “President” Pussygrabber, who called that the alleged attack on Smollett “horrible,” adding, “It doesn’t get worse.” Actually, it does get worse, sometimes a lot worse; Smollett had only superficial (self-inflicted?) skin wounds, no broken bones, no damage to any organs, and he’s still very much alive.

On that note, Kamala Harris rather dramatically called Smollett’s account “an attempted modern day lynching.”

Again, two words: confirmation bias. Harris desperately wants that black base, I know, but she might show some, um, presidential caution before commenting next time. There has been no evidence presented thus far that anyone actually was trying to lynch Smollett, for fuck’s sake.

This woman was a prosecutor? Scary…

P.P.S. Cory Booker also called the Smollett account “an attempted modern-day lynching.” Of course. Jesus fuck.

I’m not sure who tweeted that bullshit first, Harris or Booker (tweets are given time stamps, but from which time zone[s]?), but it’s hard to believe that both would use the exact same phrase without knowledge that the other had done so first.

And, again, to stoke interracial strife before the facts of an alleged incident are even established — again, hardly what I would call presidential.

P.P.P.S. It’s being reported that Smollett has hired Michael Cohen’s criminal defense attorney.

To be abundantly fair, hiring a criminal defense attorney doesn’t necessarily mean that you are guilty of a crime, but, um…

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‘Rogue One’ gives me a new hope

Updated below (on Thursday, January 5, 2017)

Right about now we all could use a new “Star Wars” movie that doesn’t suck. “Rogue One’s” diverse cast of heroic characters (see the movie’s publicity image below) has the white supremacists in a frothy lather, which is yet another good reason to see it.

Image result for Rogue One cast

With Darth Donald furiously filling his administration with hell’s best and brightest — and our only hope rebel electors who halt the construction of the Death Star and thus save the republic when they meet in the state capitals on Monday — it’s great that we have a new “Star Wars” movie to look to.

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” the first live-action “Star Wars” film that isn’t part of the ongoing nine-film series (which has hits and misses), opens on Friday, and it looks like it’s going to be a worthy “Star Wars” movie, unlike last year’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

I like that “Force Awakens” features a heroine instead of a hero (British actress Daisy Ridley as Rey did a great job), and that it is somewhat diverse, with black British actor John Boyega as rebel stormtrooper Finn and Latino Oscar Isaac as rebel pilot Poe Dameron. (Boyega and Isaac also did a great job, and, like many, many others, I’ve always had something for Isaac…)

But “Force Awakens,” although acted well enough and technically sound, of course, given its big budget, suffers significantly from being a brazen rehash of the “Star Wars” movies that came before it, replete with a third Death Star (well, OK, it’s a weaponized planet, but in essence it’s a third Death Star), another climactic light-saber duel, and, of course, the climactic destruction of that third Death Star.

“Force Awakens” also features a geriatric Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford as a geriatric Princess Leia and Han Solo, which didn’t give me a warm and fuzzy sense of nostalgia as much as it gave me the sense that the fucking baby boomers just won’t get off of the stage, no matter how long it has been since they wore out their welcome. (At least Han Solo dies in the movie…)

Perhaps most sinfully, “Force Awakens'” “villain,” Darth Vader descendant Kylo Ren (the son of Han Solo and Leia, he is played by Adam Driver), isn’t actually bad-ass at all, but is a whiny little bitch (much like Darth Donald). And that Kylo Ren is just a bad Darth Vader knock-off only emphasizes the fact that “Force Awakens” is just a bad “Star Wars” knock-off…

Oh, sure, it’s great to watch Rey kick Kylo Ren’s ass, but the whole fucking premise that Leia and Han Solo had a son who grew up to try to emulate Granddad Vader is just stupid. As is that third Death Star.

“Rogue One,” though, looks promising. It’s a more immediate prequel to 1977’s “Star Wars: A New Hope”* than was 2005’s “Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith,” which is the best of the first-three-numbered “Star Wars” episodes of 1999, 2002 and 2005 that were made after the first three released “Star Wars” episodes of 1977, 1980 and 1983. (Indeed, “Sith” is the only of those three proactive episodes worth watching, really.)

We already pretty much know the plot of “Rogue One”: Rebels to the Empire manage to steal the (first) Death Star plans so that the rebels then can destroy it. But while that back story was mentioned** in “A New Hope,” it never was fleshed out (recall that “A New Hope” begins with Princess Leia safeguarding the Death Star plans with the [an]droid R2-D2, who/which then jettisons in an escape pod with sidekick C-3PO), and very apparently “Rogue One” fleshes out that back story.

That “Rogue One” takes on fresher (albeit pre-established) material rather than simply rehashing old material, as “Force Awakens” did, is a big draw to me, as is the fact that I was a “Star Wars” fan at nine or 10 years old, replete with action figures and plastic toy replicas of the vehicles. (The fact that my mother cavalierly bought me a regular TIE fighter instead of the Darth Vader TIE fighter that I’d very specifically and repeatedly requested for one Christmas [a true story, unfortunately] probably contributed to the person that I am today [including my being fairly used to deep disappointment].)

While I grew up as a “Star Wars” fan — not only was finally seeing the very first “Star Wars” film a major event for me (I was taken to see it by an uncle who felt pity for my brother and me that our lazy, selfish, baby-boomer parents had yet to take us to it [another unfortunately true story]), but “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi” also were big events for me, even though “Jedi,” with its second Death Star (and its inevitable destruction), largely is a rehash of “New Hope,” just with a bigger budget and on a larger scale — I still expect a new “Star Wars” movie to bring fresh elements to the table, and “Rogue One” appears to do that.

And I didn’t need another reason to see “Rogue One,” but the fact that the Trump-loving white supremacists/neo-Nazis are boycotting “Rogue One” because it’s just too damned diverse (and thus apparently is anti-white, you see) is yet another significant reason for me to see it.

You would think that these “alt-right” losers would have boycotted “Force Awakens,” because in it, the heroine Rey kicks the ass of the bad-ass wannabe Kylo Ren, who reminds me a lot of the neo-Nazis: He very much wants to be a bad-ass, and is trying to mimic an actual bad-ass who came before him, but he’s just a pathetic, petty terrorist; oh, sure, he can cause plenty of harm to others, but at heart, he’s a weak fucking coward — who gets his sorry ass kicked by a girl.

I love it that as with “Force Awakens,” “Rogue One’s” main hero is a heroine, Jyn Erso (played by British actress Felicity Jones), a rebel who apparently is aided in her cause against the Empire by fellow rebels played by Mexican actor Diego Luna, black American actor Forest Whitaker, Chinese actor Donnie Yen, and Riz Ahmed, who is a Brit of Pakistani heritage.

I’ve enjoyed the work of Luna, Whitaker, Yen and the adorable, doe-eyed Ahmed, and I’m happy to be able to see all of them in one movie.

And that ass-kicking droid in “Rogue One” (named K-2SO, apparently an Imperial droid that/who is droidnapped and reprogrammed to work for the rebels) strikes me as pretty fucking cool — like a C-3PO who/that finally grew a pair.

Movies do a lot of things. They are escapism, for sure, and right about now we Americans — and those who live in nations that are affected by what we Americans allow our government actors to do (and what we don’t allow them to do) — sure could use some escapism.

But movies also are a deep part of American and global culture, and it’s not a one-way street; movies not only reflect the culture at large, but they help to shape the culture.

Even the dimwitted, cowardly members of the “alt-right” and other neo-Nazis know this, and that’s why they hate to see images of racial and gender equality in our mainstream movies; they want only straight, white, conservative men to be the sole heroes in our movies in perpetuity.

But “Star Wars” has been, at least in its own way, subversive from Day One. Even in 1977’s retroactively titled “A New Hope,” it’s clear that the evil Empire, with its legions of stormtroopers and military hierarchy and massive weaponry, is much like the short-lived Nazi German empire.

And “Star Wars'” heroes have not been its villains (although no doubt many have fetishized its villains to the point of not really even viewing them as villains); “Star Wars'” heroes always have been the little guys and gals who have stood up to the big, fascist bullies against all odds.

“Star Wars” has been anti-neo-Nazi since its birth in 1977; the mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging, neo-Nazi mega-losers of today boycott it way too late.

And I’m incredibly fine, when I go to see “Rogue One” — taking a break from the news of the stunningly awful team that is being assembled in Washington, D.C., to “make America great again” by bringing it to the brink of its destruction — knowing that at least there shouldn’t be any neo-Nazis in the theater with me because of their pissy little boycott.

Update (Thursday, January 5, 2017): I finally saw “Rogue One” in IMAX on Monday.

While not a perfect movie, it probably is the best “Star Wars” movie to be released since “The Empire Strikes Back.” It certainly has the look and the feel of the 1977 “Star Wars.”

Like every “Star Wars” movie, “Rogue One” has some characters (humans and non-humans) that are rather dumb, to be frank, but in “Rogue One” the strong characters thankfully cancel out the others. Droid K-2SO (voiced by Alan Tudyk) steals the show as a C-3PO with balls, and Felicity Jones as reluctant Rebel Jyn Erso and Diego Luna as Rebel leader Cassian Andor are a strong heroine and hero team.

Riz Ahmed seems underused as Imperial turncoat Bodhi Rook, a character that is rather undeveloped, as are the characters of blind warrior Chirrut Imwe (who is reduced to babbling a mantra about the Force, which many viewers are going to find more tiresome and annoying than anything else), played by Donnie Yen, and radical Rebel offshoot Saw Gerrera, played by Forest Whitaker, whose importance seems diminished by a deficient back story.

The CGI of the long-dead Peter Cushing as Governor Tarkin is rather obviously CGI, and it’s surprising how much of the CGI Peter Cushing is in “Rogue One.” I’ll leave aside the discussion as to whether or not we even should be resurrecting dead actors via CGI, and just say that the CGI in “Rogue One” is lacking. We’ve come a long way from the creepy CGI of “The Polar Express,” but in “Rogue One,” it’s not far enough.

For all of it flaws, again, “Rogue One” succeeds in bringing back the look and feel and spirit of the 1977 “Star Wars” without entirely rehashing old story lines, as “Return of the Jedi” and “The Force Awakens” did.

Yes, like “Revenge of the Sith,” “Rogue One” fleshes out events that already were alluded to in the earlier films, but still, it’s a masterful fleshing out.

And it’s rather exhilarating, in fact, if you are an old “Star Wars” fan like I am, to watch “Rogue One” take you right to where the 1977 “Star Wars” begins.

I give “Rogue One” at least an “A-“. It misses primarily in some lacking character development. And I still don’t know about that CGI.

“Rogue One” must be given points for its diverse cast — it’s so refreshing when the hero isn’t yet another straight white guy — and for its rather bold ending, which I’d talk about except that it would be a major spoiler to tell you the fate of the main characters.

*I was nine years old when that movie came out, and it wasn’t subtitled “A New Hope” until 1981, when the movie was re-released.

**The iconic opening crawl of “A New Hope” reads:

It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire.

During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet.

Pursued by the Empire’s sinister agents, Princess Leia races home aboard her starship, custodian of the stolen plans that can save her people and restore freedom to the galaxy…

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‘Tea party’ traitors call Obama illegitimate

The wingnuts’ new meme (new to me, anyway) is that Barack Obama is an “imperial president.”

House weasel Darrell Issa, who’s always on a jihad against some big-name Democrat, reportedly in New Hampshire “urged his party [today] to unite against Obama’s ‘imperial presidency.'”

A writer for Salon.com recently quoted Ted Cruz’s use of the phrase “imperial presidency,” so very apparently all of the fucktards on the far right got the same memo.

The Salon.com article is titled “Ted Cruz’s Imperialist Fantasy: Why His Latest Anti-Obama Epithet Is So Dangerous,” but the article doesn’t deliver on its headline. The article mostly explains why literally calling Barack Obama imperial(ist) — a la an actual emperor, such as from the Roman days of yore — is inaccurate, since of course we don’t have that system of government. (Duh.)

And the writer reminds us that of course the United States, possessing the most powerful military (omni?)presence on the planet, more or less constitutes a (the…) modern (Romanesque) empire, so to bash Obama as “imperial(ist)” could appear to be bashing, also, the very idea of American empire (such as the American empire is these days) — and the Repugnican (Tea) Party historically has supported empire, as long as it’s the United States’ empire.

But when wingnutty slimebags like Cruz and Issa call Obama an “imperial(ist)” president, what they are getting at, I am confident, is that they are asserting that Obama does not have legitimacy in our so-called democracy — that Obama is no more legitimate as our (so-called) democratic nation’s leader than would be an unelected emperor, a dictator.

Of course, Obama has been many things, but one thing that Obama never has been — entirely unlike George W. Bush, whose presidency was much, much more “imperial(ist)” than Obama’s ever has been (recall that for a long, long time “Doonesbury” creator Garry Trudeau depicted then-“President” Gee Dubya only as a deteriorating Roman military helmet)  — is unelected.

You don’t have to like Obama, but you don’t get to assert that the results of presidential elections are illegitimate because you don’t like those results.

“I believe this president is dangerous to our democracy,” Darrell Issa proclaimed of the “imperial” President Obama in New Hampshire today.

Our democracy is in deep shit, I acknowledge without hesitation, but I blame the influence of Gargantuan Money on campaigns and elections far more than I blame Barack Obama, the individual himself. (On that note, Issa is the second-wealthiest member of Congress [yes, that includes the 435-member House of Representatives and the 1oo-member Senate].) 

There is plenty about Obama that I don’t like, such as his gleeful use of killer drones (despite his too-premature receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize…), his defense of pervasive government spying (I love his apparent assertion that if a corporation [instead of the federal government] stores all of this mega-data [which the feds most likely could access at will], then the collection of the mega-data itself magically no longer is unconstitutional, so problem “solved”!), and his overall sluggishness to altogether fairly nonexistent action on such issues as combatting climate change (including working seriously to get us off of Big Oil) and significantly reversing unemployment (and underemployment) and poverty. Even his “signature” “accomplishment” of “Obamacare,” I understand, is nothing that the wealth-care — er, health-care — lobbyists didn’t endorse.

Obama has been a post-Bush-disaster caretaker president, at best — not the progressive president we’d hoped we’d elected in 2008.

But we did elect him. Twice.

And so while treasonous slimebags like Darrell Issa foam at the fangs about Obama supposedly being “dangerous to our democracy,” what is much more dangerous to our (so-called) democracy than Obama is the belief of those afflicted with delusions of right-wing, white-male entitlement — like Darrell Issa and Ted Cruz are — that they can shit and piss over the will of the majority of the voters and declare the duly democratically elected president of the United States of America* to be illegitimate — which is exactly what they mean when they call him an “imperial(ist) president,” because, to them and their listeners, “imperial(ist) president” = illegitimate president.

For members of a political party to declare, directly or indirectly, that a duly elected (that is, the individual candidate who truly won the most votes) president (or other elected official) is “illegitimate” because he or she is of the/an opposing party (and/or for any other reason, such as the race of the duly elected individual) constitutes treason.

It constitutes treason because it constitutes the refusal to recognize the will of the majority of the voters and the attempt to substitute one’s own, minority political will for the political will of the majority of the voters.

And I can’t think of a worse crime against a (so-called) democracy, because when the will of the majority of voters simply can be disregarded by the sore losers of the elections, it no longer is a democracy — a government of the majority of the people — at all.

*Note than in 2008, Obama won the popular vote by between 9 million and 10 million votes over his Repugnican opponent John McCainosaurus, and that Obama was re-elected in 2012 by almost 5 million popular votes over his Repugnican opponent Mittens Romney — and note that in 2000, George W. Bush lost the popular vote to Democrat Al Gore by almost 544,000 votes.

While I voted for Ralph Nader for president in 2000, I fully recognized at that time, and I still recognize now, that Al Gore won the 2000 presidential election, fair and square. And while I voted for Obama in 2008 but could not vote for him again in 2012 (I voted for the Green Party candidate instead), I fully recognize that although Obama didn’t, in my eyes, deserve a second term, the majority of the nation’s voters disagreed with me on that point at the ballot box.

A true patriot in a true democracy accepts the outcomes of elections, even when (perhaps especially when) the outcomes do not go his or her way.

There is no other way — except for the tyranny that the Repugnican Tea Party traitors apparently wish to impose on all of us, against our wishes and against our will.

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Hugo Chavez, rest in peace

File photo of Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez blowing a kiss as he arrives at a rally with supporters in Caracas

Reuters photo

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who democratically was elected as his nation’s leader four times in a row, died today of cancer at age 58. (He is pictured above in February 2012.) I fell in love with Chavez some years ago after I watched the excellent documentary “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” which is about the blatantly anti-democratic, treasonous — and, thankfully, short-lived — attempt by fascistic right-wingers in Venezuela to forcibly replace the popularly elected Chavez with an unelected corporatocrat and plutocrat in 2002 — much the way that the fascistic, treasonous right-wingers here at home stole the White House in 2000 against the wishes of the majority of the American voters.

Only plutocrats and fascists have cause to celebrate the death of democratic socialist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, but, unfortunately, most of those in the United States who celebrate his death are poor to middle-class right-wing fucktards who actually would benefit greatly from Chavez-like socioeconomic policies here at home. (No, the corporate-cash-loving-and-corporate-ass-licking U.S. President Barack Obama is no “socialist.”)

Hugo Chavez became widely known as a “dictator” after the unelected Bush regime relentlessly repeatedly called him such even though Chavez repeatedly had been democratically elected by clear majorities of the people of Venezuela (who didn’t vote the way that they were supposed to vote, which is the way that a right-wing American would vote, you see).

Ironically, since George W. Bush never was democratically elected — Al Gore won more than a half-million more votes than Bush did in 2000, and it was the right-wing U.S. Supreme Court, not the majority of the American voters, who put Bush in the White House — Bush was the actual dictator, one who took power without first having earned the majority of the votes of the people.

Hugo Chavez wasn’t perfect — no leader of a nation is — but “dictator” Chavez’s biggest “crime” was that he actually did his job, which was to look out for the interests of the majority of the people of Venezuela and not for the interests of the plutocratic and corporatocratic few — you know, the way that a “good” Latin American leader “should”: sell out his people for whatever it is that the rich and powerful, especially in the U.S., want him or her to (in this case, oil, especially).

Hugo Chavez is dead, but the revolution in Latin America that he has inspired lives on.

The people’s revolution against their — our — anti-democratic, fascistic, treasonous, plutocratic overlords cannot be about one man or woman anyway.

¡Que viva la revolución!

And let’s hope that the Latin American revolution for the people over the plutocratic few spreads north so that we have a truly democratic nation — a nation governed by those who have the interests of the majority of the people at heart, and not the interests of only the comparatively tiny already-super-rich and already-super-powerful minority — here in the U.S. one day.

May Venezuela be the first domino that topples, spreading democratic socialism to even the notoriously anti-democratic, imperialistic United States of America.

P.S. I know that this is the United States of Amnesia, but Chavez-bashers should remind themselves of history: In April 2002, when the democratically elected and very popular Chavez was briefly overthrown by right-wing traitors, the unelected Bush regime at that time immediately recognized the anti-democratic, right-wing usurpers as the legitimate new government of Venezuela — which was not surprising, given that the members of the treasonous Bush regime had had no problem with the fact that Bush wasn’t elected, either. (The members of the right wing support and respect democracy only when elections go their way, and they feel so absolutely correct and superior in their ideology that they are untroubled with stealing office if they can’t win office legitimately, which they often can’t.)

Moreover, the CIA, at the behest of the White House, has had a long history of deposing left-leaning, pro-their-nation’s-own-people, democratically elected leaders in Latin America — and anti-democratically replacing them with unelected, right-wing usurpers who agree to do anything that the power elite of the U.S. ask them to do.

Chile’s Salvador Allende immediately comes to mind; his usurper was the U.S.-backed mass murderer and true dictator Augosto Pinochet, who should have been executed and not allowed to die a natural death. (It was the Nixon White House, natch, that used the CIA to remove Allende from power and install the murderous dictator Pinochet.)

It is likely that the Bush regime similarly had a hand in the 2002 coup attempt in Venezuela.

Even if the Bush regime didn’t (but it probably did), the fact that the Bush regime wasted no time in recognizing the illegal and unelected “new” “government” of Venezuela by itself was plenty of reason for Hugo Chavez to feel animosity toward the U.S. government at least throughout Bush’s unelected and thus illegitimate tenure.

(And there is a big distinction between the U.S. government and the people of the United States; Chavez’s problem was with the members of the Washington establishment who believe that Latin America exists solely to do the U.S.’s bidding. He never attacked the American people as a whole, although the wingnuts [who still call him a “dictator” after he won four presidential elections in a row with international elections observers present] worked hard to paint Chavez as an enemy of every American, and their propaganda campaign worked to an impressive degree on the bleating American sheeple.)

One of Chavez’s most (in)famous acts was in September 2006, when he remarked of George W. Bush, who had appeared at the same podium before the United Nations General Assembly in New York City the day before: “The devil came here yesterday. And it smells of sulfur still today.”

Bush indeed is one of the most evil entities still stalking the planet, a mass-murdering war criminal who still goes wholly unpunished for his crimes against humanity. (Chavez, despite being called a murdering dictator by the wingnuts, wholly unlike Pinochet and other U.S.-backed actual dictators, never had any of his political opponents killed. In fact, I know of not one confirmed murder or even one confirmed case of torture that Chavez as president of Venezuela was responsible for, when Bush was responsible for the confirmed murder and the confirmed torture of thousands and thousands of human beings.)

Chavez said something else at the UN that day in September 2006, something that strikes me as prophetic: “The Soviet Union collapsed. The United States empire is on the way down and it will be finished in the near future, for the good of all mankind.” (Note that he’s criticizing the idea of empire, of one highly militarized nation calling all of the shots for the entire globe. Also during his September 2006 UN appearance, Chavez correctly stated that the UN headquarters should be moved to another nation. It seems to me that for fairness, UN headquarters should move to different nations around the globe, say, once every decade. It’s fucked up for it to permanently be anchored in the U.S.)

You know, if Hugo Chavez had been just flat-out wrong, I think that Americans would have just ignored him. But they haven’t. A good chunk of them have hated his guts intensely, which, to me, is evidence of two things: (1) that right-wing politicians’ relentless pro-plutocratic propaganda (aided and abetted by the corporately owned and controlled media, the bosses of which certainly disagree with Chavez’s business model of nationalizing the media) can be very effective; and (2) that Chavez’s biggest “crime” was being right and being vocal about it, which certainly are two big no-nos here at home, where telling certain awful (but obvious) truths is considered to be a much larger crime than telling even the biggest lies.

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