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Repugnicans’ war on women is also a war on justice, decency and democracy

ED'S NOTE, GRAPHIC CONTENT-- A powerful political cartoon depicting the assault of Lady Justice has gone viral in the wake of recent allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The graphic image, seen here, shows her blindfolded and pinned down as her scales lie beside her, one hand covering her mouth -- an explicit reference to how California professor Christine Blasey Ford described an alleged sexual assault by Kavanaugh when they were both in high school in 1982.

So very apt.

I am not a blind feminist — I refused to support Repugnican Lite Billary Clinton for the presidency just because she’s a woman, for instance, and being called a “Bernie bro” by so-called “feminists” did not shame me into giving a penny or my vote to a Repugnican Lite female candidate, and, on that note, I oppose rank misandry posing as “feminism” — but I am a feminist in that I believe in equality for women, who continue to be held down by a patriarchal society.

And, of course, as a gay man I am intimately familiar with how our patriarchal society denigrates and oppresses anything and anyone considered to be feminine, and how it blindly obediently vaunts all things “masculine.”

The fight over the nomination of drunkard and sex criminal Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court is not just about the allegations of his sex crimes in and of themselves, of course, but is part of the ongoing “culture war” in which the right believes that right-wing, straight, “Christian” white men should continue to subjugate the rest of us with impunity.

So important is it to the right wing that stupid white men continue to rule that even Repugnican women (who universally are afflicted with Stockholm syndrome) are now said to be more fired up to vote in next month’s midterm elections than they were before the Kavanaugh fracas.

This is some sick and twisted shit, of course, but then again the Repugnicans are a fucking sick and twisted lot, a true basket of deplorables (I have to agree with Billary on that, although I find her plenty deplorable her-presidential-nomination-stealing-self).

That said, we must continue to fight against the fascists, which includes voting on November 6. They will vote for evil, as they always do; we must vote for good.

And we can take some solace in the fact that the Repugnicans must cheat in order to “win.”

The Repugnican presidential candidate won the popular vote only once since 1992 (Gee Dubya “won” “re”-election in 2004 by only 50.7 percent of the popular vote; he had lost the popular vote in 2000, and Pussygrabber also lost the popular vote in 2016).

The majority of the American people prefer a Democrat over a Repugnican, which is why the Repugnicans must do everything in their power to subvert democracy and throw elections their way, be it via widespread voter suppression or via such fascist bullshit as Bush v. Gore, in which the Repugnican-appointed “justices” of the Supreme Court, not the American people, picked the U.S. president in 2000.

And look how much the Repugnicans have had to cheat brazenly in order to shove Kavanaugh through. First, they had to pave the way by reducing the confirmation vote for a Supreme Court “justice” in the U.S. Senate from 60 votes to only 51 votes, which they did for Neil Gorsuch — after they had denied President Barack Obama the right to name a replacement for bloated piece of shit Antonin Scalia even though Obama had had almost a full year left of his presidency.

In addition to his white-male privilege, Kavanaugh has benefited not only from the anti-democratic Electoral College that gave us Pussygrabber and from the craven new simple-majority vote requirement for a Supreme Court “justice” in the U.S. Senate, but also from a fucking sham of an FBI “investigation” into his sex crimes, in which the “investigation” was done within only a few days and in which key individuals weren’t interviewed by the FBI at all.

Just as I never will consider George W. Bush nor Pussygrabber to have been legitimate U.S. presidents, I never will consider Gorsuch or Kavanaugh to be legitimate U.S. Supreme Court justices. Never.

How you got there fucking matters.

What we, the people, need to ensure now is that the Repugnican minority no longer can treasonously cheat its way into dominating us, the majority.

The fascist traitors “win” because thus far we have let them. Indeed, they always have counted on us to do so, because while they are shameless, violent and craven, we lean toward conscience, peace and decency.

We already have the majority; the only question is how much we’ll fight for it.

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E-mails, schme-mails: Billary Clinton very probably still has it in the bag

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a rally at Theodore Roosevelt High School in Des Moines, Iowa, Friday, Oct. 28, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Associated Press photo

Presidential candidate Billary Clinton, shown above yesterday in Des Moines, Iowa, has claimed that FBI director James Comey’s late-October surprise of yet even more e-mails that the FBI intends to investigate will show nothing new. Comey, a lifelong Repugnican operative whom President Barack Obama never should have nominated to the post of FBI chief, very apparently is trying to influence the presidential election that is only 10 days away, since he violated U.S. Department of Justice policy prohibiting publicly discussing an ongoing investigation in order to deliver his late-October surprise. Still, I expect Billary to win on November 8, regardless of this latest example of a Repugnican operative trying to rig yet another election.

The presidential race is tightening a little bit — as probably could be expected as Election Day nears (it’s 10 days from today) and thus voters finally pay more attention and thus the “choice” between Der Fuhrer Donald Trump and Queen Billary Clinton of the Clinton Dynasty becomes more real to them — but I still expect Billary to win.

If the damned e-mails from her days as U.S. secretary of state haven’t brought Billary down by now, I don’t really see them bringing her down between today and Election Day, especially when we don’t even know what, if anything, this new batch of e-mails contains and probably won’t before Election Day.

(This late-October surprise, by the way, comes from FBI director James Comey, a Repugnican operative who never should have been appointed in the first fucking place by President Barack Obama, who very apparently has thought it cute and even Lincolnesque to put Repugnicans in position of power, which is yet another reason why I couldn’t vote for DINO Obama again in 2012 and why the Democratic Party, which excels only at selling us commoners out to the Repugnican Tea Party, disgusts me in general.)

I’m not saying that Billary isn’t scandalous — she’s a Clinton, so by definition she’s a scandal magnet, attracting both legitimate scandals and pseudo-scandals cooked up by the vast right-wing conspiracy — but as political scandals go in the United States of America, this e-mail stuff is pretty much nothing compared to Trump’s too-recent proclamation that he believes in grabbing women by the pussy.

Anyway, fivethirtyeight.com right now puts Trump’s chances of winning the election from 19.3 percent to 21.5 percent. One out of five is bad.

Both Billary and El Trumpo are disliked by more Americans than they are liked, but The Great Orange One is disliked significantly more than is Billary. His favorability rating is at a stunningly low 36 percent and his unfavorability rating is at a shockingly high 62 percent, while Billary’s favorability is at 44 percent and her unfavorability is at 54 percent. She’s in the hole by 10 percentage points, while Trump is in the hole by 26 percentage points.

I don’t see a presidential candidate who is disliked by almost two-thirds of the electorate making it to the White House, and I still don’t see the American people, as dumb as they have demonstrated that they can be, putting into the Oval Office, for the first time in my lifetime of almost five decades, the first president who had not first been at least the governor of a state, a U.S. senator or the vice president of the United States (but instead had been a bankrupt-happy billionaire and a “reality” TV show star).

Of course Trump could become president. His chances are around one in five, not zero, and we do have precedent in George W. Bush, who lost the presidential election but who was installed by a right-wing U.S. Supreme Court into the White House anyway. (And not just to blame the Supreme Court; the American people should have taken the blatantly stolen presidential election of 2000 to the streets with torches and pitchforks, but they did not.)

Still, if I had to bet a large sum of money on Der Fuhrer Trump or Queen Billary, I’d put my money on Billary, and the prediction markets are with me on this. PredictIt.org, for example, right now has 72 cents to 75 cents on Billary and only 28 cents on Trump. (With PredictIt, each cent represents one percentage point of probability.)

As I’ve already noted, I’ve already voted for Green Party candidate Jill Stein on my vote-by-mail ballot that I already mailed in, as Billary is going to win my state of California and all of its 55 electoral votes no matter fucking what.

I certainly don’t regret my vote, as we continue to learn more and more, from leaked e-mails, that numerous Billary operatives (from within and from without the Democratic National Committee) did their best to try to harm Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, even discussing the possibility of releasing a shirtless picture of him, for fuck’s sake. (The picture, by the way, is absolutely no big deal, but teeny-tiny minds have only teeny-tiny thoughts, and when your candidate is loathed by the American people second only to Donald Trump, you get awfully desperate, I suppose.)

The piece-of-shit Clintonistas only demonstrate even further how deplorable they are when they’d rather that we rabble focus on Russia (in a pathetic, right-wing Cold War 2.0 mindset) instead of on the content of the leaked e-mails that expose them for the anti-democratic, DINO weasels that they are.

I and millions of others are much more interested in the content of leaked e-mails — especially e-mails that show malfeasance — than we are in who exactly leaked them and whether the uber-secretive elites whose many secrets treasonously harm the masses deem these leaks to be legal or not. (And that the Billarybots actually believe that their lame-ass attempted Jedi mindfucks — Oh, look! Russia! actually will work on all of us demonstrates how condescending and out of touch they are.)

I’ll never get over how Team Clinton treated Bernie Sanders — I will not forgive nor will I forget — and given her character, I just can’t defend Repugnican Lite Billary when the vast right-wing conspiracy relentlessly goes after her during what probably will be just one, very ugly term in the White House.

Not only does pretty much everything bad that happens to Billary appear to be her karmic return, but she never actually has had my back (but has only pandered to certain groups for money and for votes), and so I am utterly unable to have hers.

I can eke out one kind-of nice comment about Billary, though: I am glad that we most likely will have our first female president in January. That historical development is long, long overdue.

That said, it’s too, too bad that it’s Billary Clinton — and not someone like Elizabeth Warren or Jill Stein — who is making that history.*

P.S. Fivethirtyeight.com’s Nate Silver notes of this latest development:

… The risk is that by continuing to litigate the [e-mail] case, Clinton could keep the story in the news, which could be a negative for her even if further details prove to be exculpatory. At this point in the election, it’s mostly so-called low-information voters who are still making up their minds — not necessarily those who will read the fine print. [Emphasis mine.] And in general this year, candidates have tended to lose ground in the polls whenever they’ve been in the headlines. A day that the media spends talking about Comey and e-mails is also a day that they don’t spend talking about Trump and his many vulnerabilities. …

How many low-info voters (that is, abject dumbfucks) — whose last-minute decision between Billary and Der Fuhrer Donald could defy the polls giving Billary the victory — remain? Well, just four days ago, Silver wrote:

… About 15 percent of the electorate isn’t yet committed to Clinton or Trump, as compared to just 5 percent who weren’t committed to President Obama or Mitt Romney at this point in 2012. That’s one of the reasons why our models still give Trump an outside chance at victory. In theory, with Clinton at “only” 46 percent of the vote, he could beat her by winning almost all of the undecided and third-party voters. (In practice, there’s no particular indication that these voters have Trump as their second choice.)

These undecideds, however, aren’t distributed evenly across the various states. Florida and North Carolina have relatively few of them, for example, while New Hampshire and Colorado have more. This could affect each campaign’s strategy over the final few weeks: In states with few undecideds, it’s mostly a matter of turning out your vote; in states with more of them, voters may still be open to persuasion. …

Again, my best educated guess is that Trump has only a one-in-five — maybe as much as a one-in-four — chance of winning, but leave it to the low-info voters to give us, at the last minute, President Trump (and a Nazi Germany 2.0), to at least make the election close enough for Team Trump to try to steal it, a la Team Bush in 2000.

*That said, the thought that Sarah Palin might actually become president in the case of John McCainosaurus’ death — yeah, yes, of course, a President Billary is another Abraham Fucking Lincoln compared to how a President Palin would have turned out.

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WHOSE security?

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

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

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

Of course not.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Boston bombers were tweeners — homegrown and from Chechen region

This combination of undated photos shows Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, left, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19. The FBI says the two brothers and suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing killed an MIT police officer, injured a transit officer in a firefight and threw explosive devices at police during a getaway attempt in a long night of violence that left Tamerlan dead and Dzhokhar still at large on Friday, April 19, 2013. The ethnic Chechen brothers lived in Dagestan, which borders the Chechnya region in southern Russia. They lived near Boston and had been in the U.S. for about a decade, one of their uncles reported said. (AP Photo/The Lowell Sun & Robin Young)

Associated Press image

Brothers Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, left, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, right, have been identified by law-enforcement authorities as the probable perpetrators of Monday’s twin bomb blasts during the Boston Marathon that killed three and maimed many others. The brothers came to the United States from the area of war-torn Chechnya about a decade ago. The older brother was shot dead by police and the younger brother remains on the run. Despite having expressed his support of Chechen independence from Russia and his support of Islam, the younger brother on a social networking website reportedly listed his “personal priority” as “career and money.”

So the Boston Marathon bombing apparently was indeed an act of domestic terrorism, but the apparent terrorists weren’t anyone we had suspected.

Those on the right, apparently, were hoping for an Arab terrorist or Arab terrorists, fitting in nicely and neatly with the 9/11 scenario (15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, and the rest from Egypt, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates [not one of them was from Iraq, I will add]).

There was the 20-year-old Saudi man — a college student — who was tackled by a bystander at the site of the Boston Marathon just after the twin explosions on Monday because of course the Arab-looking man in the crowd was the perpetrator (of course this young man was not the perp).

The right-wing rag the New York Post (which, along with Faux “News,” is owned by right-wing plutocrat Rupert Murdoch) yesterday ran a cover image of a 17-year-old high school track athlete (the one in blue with the blue duffel bag in the image below) and called him a suspect in the Boston bombing when he never was a suspect at all. The other “bombing suspect” in the image that the Post ran on its cover (the man with the black backpack) actually is the student’s 24-year-old track coach.

new york post

But the high-school athlete and his coach, who are from Morocco, look like the usual suspects — here is another image of them that the Post published, encircling their faces with big, red, attention-grabbing rings:

— and that, for the Post, was enough.

I hope that the young men wrongfully called terrorism suspects because they were At the Boston Marathon While Arab sue the Post for libel.

I, on the other hand, had figured that the perpetrator or perpetrators of Monday’s bombing in Boston probably were along the lines of a Zeke or Jeb or Cooter or Skeeter, a homegrown, white, “tea-partying,” anti-federal-government-and-so-of-course-also-anti-tax type, such as we saw with Timothy McVeigh. I mean, a bombing on Tax Day in Boston, home of the Boston Tea Party.

It turns out that the actual probable perps of the bombing apparently are somewhere between the two stereotypical terrorist types of the “Islamofascist” from abroad and the terrorist from home. There is more to be learned, but that’s where it stands right now.

The probable perps of Monday’s terrorist attack in Boston reportedly were two brothers from the area of Chechnya (also called the Chechen Republic, which is part of Russia), Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Tamerlan, 26, reportedly was shot dead during a police shootout that took place in Boston between yesterday, when the brothers’ surveillance-camera images were released by the FBI, and early this morning, and Dzhokhar, 19, a student at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, reportedly still is on the run. I hope that he is captured alive so that we learn more about the motives behind the bombing.

Being an American, I don’t know much about Chechnya, but there is Wikipedia, a blogger’s best friend, and from Wikipedia I see that Chechnya has a population of less than 2 million people, and that racially, the denizens of Chechnya are grouped as “Caucasoid,” Wikipedia notes, adding, “The majority of Chechens are dark-haired (medium to dark brown or black), but there are Chechens with blond or even red hair, while eye color ranges from blue to brown and skin tone is typically rather pale and light (though there are some Chechens with olive complexions).”

Arabs, anthropologically speaking, also are “Caucasoid,” but apparently among the Chechens there are some who look Anglo (all Anglos are “Caucasoid,” but not all who are “Caucasoid” are Anglo).

The right-wingers no doubt feel vindicated, however,  over the fact that (per Wikipedia) “Islam is the predominant religion in Chechnya. Chechens are overwhelmingly adherents to Sunni Islam, the country having converted to Islam between the 16th and the 19th centuries.”

But Chechens aren’t Arabs, the usual terrorism suspects in the eyes of many if not most Americans, and reportedly the Tsarnaev brothers came to the United States about decade ago as refugees from the war-torn Chechnya.

Because they (have) lived in the United States for about a decade, and because they came here when they were young, I still would call the Tsarnaev brothers homegrown terrorists, but, of course, not of the usual variety of homegrown terrorists.

My guess is that the older Tsarnaev brother influenced the younger, and that the older brother was quite unstable and the younger brother was quite impressionable, as younger brothers often are.

Yahoo! News notes that Tamerlan Tsarnaev reportedly had a wife and young child and that “Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was remembered by former classmates as bright and personable, posted links to pro-Chechnyan independence sites on his social media page, and listed his worldview as ‘Islam.'”

Yahoo! News also reports that “in an emotional press conference,” the brothers’ uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, “said his nephews had brought shame upon his family, and called them ‘losers.’ He said they were not ‘able to settle themselves’ and were ‘angry at everyone who was able to.’ He said he did not believe they were motivated by the radical politics in Chechnya or their Muslim religion.”

Again, hopefully the younger brother will be captured alive and will tell us exactly what happened and why. His role might have been only as an accessory to his much more radicalized older brother, it seems to me.

The take-home lesson in all of this, it also seems to me, is that any chronically angry young man, foreign or domestic, white-skinned or brown-skinned, identifying as a Muslim or a Christian (or as a member of another religion), can perpetrate an act violence or even of terrorism — chronic anger and testosterone are a dangerous, explosive mix — and that the best way to prevent terrorist attacks in the future is to address, seriously and significantly, that which causes chronic anger in young men.

Chief among those causes here at home, it seems to me, is a lack of economic opportunity in the United States of America. In the so-called land of opportunity, our young people are struggling. And, despite their hard work and their struggle, they are told that their lack of progress is entirely their fault — certainly not the fault of the plutocratic system of the haves and the have-nots that actually has their failure built in, that has institutionalized it, pretty much guaranfuckingteed it, in fact.

Before you claim that I’m full of shit, know that while Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (according to Reuters) on his Russian-language social networking website posted links to websites promoting Islam and Chechen independence from Russia, he listed his “personal priority” as “career and money.”

So while his Chechen birth gave him an identity as a Chechen/Chechen American and a Muslim, his most immediate personal concern apparently was “career and money.”

And over that issue, it seems to me, we Americans, who forfuckingever now have been perfectly complacent with our system of haves and have-nots that eats its own young, should be surprised — and probably thankful — that justifiably chronically angry young men of all identities in the United States aren’t blowing shit up all over the fucking place.

P.S. I have to note that while I find the pervasive presence of surveillance cameras in public to pose real threats to privacy, and to create an oppressive, Big-Brother-like atmosphere, one has to be impressed, I think, by the swiftness with which the apparent perpetrators of Monday’s terrorist attack on the Boston Marathon were identified by law-enforcement officials.

Once the FBI released the surveillance-camera images of the two suspects yesterday, it was just a matter of time before they were identified as the Tsarnaev brothers.

Update: I want to be accurate, so let me clarify: Apparently the Tsarnaev brothers might have come to the United States from Dagestan, which borders Chechnya, and the brothers are (well, one is and one was…), according to media reports, “ethnic Chechens.” I am not certain of the exact nation of the brothers’ birth, but apparently they were born in one or both of the two neighboring nations of Chechnya and Dagestan.

Per Wikipedia, Dagestan has a population of about 3 million and, like Chechnya, its primary religion is Sunni Islam.

From Wiki, here is a map of Chechnya and Dagestan:

And here is a map of the larger area, known as the North Caucasus:

File:Chechnya and Caucasus.png

Second update: According to NBC News, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was born in Kyrgyzstan and became a U.S. citizen on Sept. 11 of last year, and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was married to a U.S. citizen and had hoped to become a U.S. citizen himself, was born in Russia. The Associated Press reports that

Dzhokhar’s page on the Russian social networking site Vkontakte says that before moving to the United States, he attended School No. 1 in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, a predominantly Muslim republic in Russia’s North Caucasus that has become an epicenter of the Islamic insurgency that spilled over from Chechnya. On the site, he describes himself as speaking Chechen as well as English and Russian.

The same AP story also reports that the two brothers “had come to the United States about 10 years ago from a Russian region near Chechnya [Dagestan, I presume], according to an uncle, Ruslan Tsarni of Montgomery Village, Md. They had two sisters. As kids they rode bikes and skateboards on quiet Norfolk Street in Cambridge, Mass.”

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Clint Eastwood’s ‘J. Edgar’ is not your father’s gangster movie

Film review

Leonardo DiCaprio and Armie Hammer J. Edgar

Clyde Tolson (played by the Adonis Armie Hammer) and J. Edgar Hoover (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) have a lovers’ quarrel in Clint Eastwood’s “J. Edgar.”

Woe to the heterosexists who don’t bother to research the movies that they see who stumble into Clint Eastwood’s “J. Edgar” thinking that they’re going to see an action-packed gangsta movie (he-man Clint Eastwood is directing, after all) but who instead get “Brokeback Mountain” meets “Bonnie and Clyde” — in which “Bonnie” is the late long-time FBI director J. Edgar Hoover.

As others have noted, “J. Edgar” isn’t going to wholly please either side. The heterosexists don’t want the slightest flowery whiff of male homosexuality contaminating their gangster movies, as evidenced by the male homophobe behind me in the audience who twice uttered “faggot!” (and who once uttered “AIDS!”) during the movie and the female homophobe behind me who vocalized her disapproval during the scene in which a distraught J. Edgar Hoover dons his recently deceased mother’s dress.

And gay men like me are going to feel, as I do, that screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (who won an Oscar for his screenplay of “Milk”) and/or director Eastwood wussed out by having portrayed the very apparent real-life same-sex relationship between Hoover and his long-time “assistant” Clyde Tolson as essentially sexless.

No, I didn’t need a steamy sex scene, although I can’t say that I would have minded one; Armie Hammer, who plays Clyde Tolson in “J. Edgar” (and who played the “Winklevi” twins in “The Social Network”) is achingly beautiful, and much more handsome than was the real-life Tolson, just as the real-life J. Edgar never looked anything like Leonardo DiCaprio, even with all of that makeup piled atop his baby face.

But are we really to believe that although the real-life Hoover and Tolson were inseparable and never heterosexually married — and that although Tolson inherited Hoover’s estate after Hoover’s death and later was buried near Hoover — that the two of them never did more than hold hands and share just one (bloody, very conflicted) kiss?

“J. Edgar” apparently would have us believe so, and while many movies about gay characters have a closeted feel to them, this closeted feel can be artful if it is intentional and thus helps us to understand the characters and their sufferings better, but if this closeted feel is a result of the filmmakers’ own cowardice and/or discomfort with the material, then it diminishes the film, and this appears to be the case with “J. Edgar.”

“J. Edgar,” as others have noted, also tries to do too much. Hoover’s time as head of the FBI, which spanned from 1935 to 1972, can’t be captured in one film. Not that it has to be; “J. Edgar” is a fictionalized film, after all, not a documentary, but because “J. Edgar” portrays so many of the historical events during Hoover’s decades-long tenure at the FBI, it has lent itself to be criticized for what it leaves out — such as the “Lavender Scare” of the 1950s, which surely was relevant to the real-life Hoover and Tolson.

And because “J. Edgar” tries to capture so many historical events, the examination of Hoover’s psyche gets short shrift.

Judi Dench is good as Hoover’s mother, even if she is portrayed as a textbook case of the overbearing mother who lives through her son so that of course he turns out gay.

Perhaps the most memorable scene in the film is the one in which Hoover’s homophobic mother tells him the story of another young man who turned out to be gay and who killed himself, which was a good thing, in her eyes. Many of us gay men (my husband included) have been told by a homophobic parent that he or she could never accept a gay son, as Hoover is told by his mother in “J. Edgar,” so I expect that scene to resonate with millions of gay men.

Still, “J. Edgar” doesn’t go far enough with the examination of J. Edgar Hoover’s homosexuality. My guess is that that is a result of the combination of Dustin Lance Black’s upbringing as a Mormon, which, I surmise, keeps him on the “safe,” conservative side, and of the generation of Clint Eastwood (he’s 81 years old), who, while he reportedly is pro-gay, on other issues leans to the right (he reportedly can recall having voted for a Democrat only once, and that was former California Gov. Gray Davis in 1998), and who might be one of those individuals who is much more intellectually accepting of homosexuality (that is, in theory) than he is viscerally accepting of it (that is, in practice) — you know, the kind of person who says that he’s OK with gays as long as he doesn’t ever actually have to see two men kissing. (Thus, we could see Tolson and Hoover kiss in “J. Edgar” only if violence was involved. [The scene, by the way, is fairly reminiscent of a similar scene in “Brokeback Mountain” in which our two conflicted lovebirds who live in a homophobic place and time pummel each other.])

“J. Edgar” probably should have picked one path and stuck with it: the documentarian path or the psychoanalytical path. Hoover’s professional life alone was interesting enough to carry a film. It was because of Hoover’s gross abuse of power, including his notoriously illegal monitoring of prominent individuals, that directors of the FBI need the Senate’s approval to serve more than 10 years, indicates Wikipedia.

But also interesting are the psychological dynamics in which those who have something to hide — such as homosexuality in a society in which homosexuality is stigmatized — react to their inner conflict and their self-loathing by becoming anal retentive and relentless moralists who viciously attack others in order to ease their own self-hatred. We saw this not only in J. Edgar Hoover, but in Roy Cohn, the gay assistant to Sen. Joseph McCarthy, who isn’t portrayed in “J. Edgar.” (I’ve wondered about the sexual orientation of McCarthy, too, since he was an alcoholic who viciously attacked others and since he picked Cohn to be his assistant, but that’s purely conjecture on my part.)

If I had made “J. Edgar” and were focusing on Hoover’s personal life, I’d have left out all of the Lindbergh baby stuff and focused more on the relationship between Hoover and Tolson, and I especially would have focused on the “Lavender Scare,” which bizarrely gets no real mention in “J. Edgar.”

And I would have left out the scene in which Hoover tries on his dead mother’s dress. The account that the real-life Hoover was seen in a dress is dubious, and in any event, it wasn’t as it is portrayed in “J. Edgar,” and we gay men have enough problems as it is for Black and Eastwood to give homophobes the idea that all gay men like to wear women’s clothing (not that there is anything wrong with that; it’s just that it’s a tiresome stereotype, and Black’s screenplay shows keen gay sensibility except for this fairly unfortunate scene).

Still, despite its flaws — which include the fact that it tries to do too much and that Armie Hammer’s old-man makeup is bad (maybe there’s just no way to make such an Adonis look unattractive) — and despite the fact that it doesn’t belong in the pantheon that includes “Brokeback Mountain” and “Milk,” “J. Edgar” is worth seeing.

My grade: B

Update:I don’t think that I’ve been unfair here to Dustin Lance Black. In a recent interview with the Advocate, he remarked, “I grew up in a military family, which was also Mormon and conservative, so he [J. Edgar Hoover] was seen as a bit of a hero.” Again, Black’s conservative upbringing seems to have greatly colored his portrayal of Hoover in his screenplay. And of the historical Hoover and Clyde Tolson’s relationship, Black stated:

I don’t know how much sex they were having. I couldn’t anchor that in anything provable. I also didn’t need it for what I was trying to say. They may or may not have [had a sexual relationship], but frankly, I wouldn’t want to see it. What’s important to me is they were not straight. They were two gay guys, in my opinion.

What is it with this phenomenon of de-sexing gay men, of stripping them of human sexuality? We don’t do that to heterosexual people! I can’t say that I would have wanted to watch the historical J. Edgar Hoover (who, again, was not an attractive man) getting it on with anyone, either, but was the only alternative to making “J. Edgar: The Gay Porn” making a film that portrays him as a celibate, frustrated closet case?

True, we cannot “anchor” the assertion that Tolson and Hoover had a sexual relationship “in anything provable” — we have only the very strong circumstantial evidence that they had a decades-long sexual relationship — yet the scene in which Hoover puts on his deceased mother’s dress very apparently was fabricated from whole cloth. Why was that liberty OK, but we couldn’t take the liberty of having the two of them ever do anything more than occasionally hold hands and share only one frustrated kiss? 

Critic Roger Ebert also apparently has jumped on the no-sex-for-gay-men bandwagon, proclaiming in his review of the film:

Eastwood’s film is firm in its refusal to cheapen and tarnish by inventing salacious scenes. I don’t get the impression from “J. Edgar” that Eastwood particularly respected Hoover, but I do believe he respected his unyielding public facade.

So to have made the two men sexually active human beings, I suppose, would have been “cheapening,” “tarnishing” and “salacious.” Since they were gay, much better to make them celibate! And apparently “[respecting Hoover’s] unyielding public facade” means going along with Hoover’s having been in the closet, because to do otherwise would have been “disrespectful.” (Fuck the truth!)

Ebert also notes in his review:

In my reading of the film, they were both repressed homosexuals, Hoover more than Tolson, but after love at first sight and a short but heady early courtship, they veered away from sex and began their lives as Longtime Companions. The rewards for arguably not being gay were too tempting for both men, who were wined and dined by Hollywood, Broadway, Washington and Wall Street. It was Hoover’s militant anti-gay position that served as their beard.

That reading of the film is correct, because indeed “J. Edgar” intended to keep the two lovers celibate, since gay sex is so dirty, you know, and while we can posit that Hoover was gay, we just can’t go so far as to assert that he ever actually had gay sex (ick!).

Again, the real film in the story of Hoover and Tolson’s relationship is the one indicated by Ebert’s assertion that “It was Hoover’s militant anti-gay position that served as their beard,” and I still find it rather stunning that the film glosses over the Lavender Scare of the 1950s. Joseph McCarthy and Roy Cohn should be in any film about the very-most-likely-gay relationship between Hoover and Tolson, it seems to me.

And speaking of McCarthy, I’m not the only one who has wondered about his sexual orientation. David K. Johnson, author of The Lavender Scare (The University of Chicago Press, 2004), notes (on page 3) that although McCarthy in early 1950 first raised the specter of Communists and gay men having “infiltrated” the U.S. government, McCarthy went on to pursue only the Communist angle, having “mysteriously recused himself” from the witch hunt against gay men. Johnson goes on:

A knowledgeable observer at the time suggested that [McCarthy] did not pursue the “homosexual angle” more aggressively because he was afraid of a boomerang. As an unmarried, middle-aged man, he was subject to gossip and rumor about his own sexuality.

I find the parallels between Hoover and Tolson and McCarthy and Cohn to be striking. Maybe Dustin Lance Black can redeem himself somewhat for his wussy “J. Edgar” screenplay and pen a movie with balls about Joseph McCarthy and his relationship with Roy Cohn, the latter of whom we know for sure was gay. I’ll even give Dustin a highly creative working title: “McCarthy.”

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