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Bowe Bergdahl persecuted for his political beliefs in the ‘land of the free’

Taliban video shows Bergdahl release

U.S. Army soldier Bowe Bergdahl is shown in a still of a video of his handover from the Taliban to the U.S. military in eastern Afghanistan on May 31. Bergdahl, who now is 28 years old and was 23 years old at the time of his capture by the Taliban, has gone from being persecuted by the Taliban to being persecuted by the American Taliban, that is, the members of the American right wing who are strikingly similar to the members of the Taliban except that they call themselves “Christians.”

I find it astonishing (I shouldn’t, I suppose, but I still do) that in the reading that I’ve done thus far over the recovery of U.S. Army soldier Bowe Bergdahl, one obvious, overarching fact is not uttered: that his recovery from his five years of captivity by the Taliban in Afghanistan is “controversial” and largely nationally uncelebrated because Bergahl apparently has not been the “right” kind of American soldier — the wingnutty kind.

Since his capture by the Taliban in 2009 — which I wrote about at the time — to the present, bits and pieces of Bergdahl’s pre-captive life have slipped out into the public sphere, and overall the portrait of Bergdahl does not exactly look like that of Rambo: Bergdahl’s parents look like hippies. Bergdahl was home-schooled by his hippie-looking mother. Bergdahl never drove a car, but rode a bicycle everywhere. Bergdahl apparently spent time in a Buddhist monastery. Most damning of all, he apparently took ballet classes.

Perhaps even more damning than the ballet classes, Bergdahl reportedly stated in his final e-mail to his parents before he was captured by the Taliban:

… I am ashamed to be an American. And the title of U.S. soldier is just the lie of fools… I am sorry for everything here [in Afghanistan]. These people [the Afghans] need help, yet what they get is the most conceited country in the world telling them that they are nothing and that they are stupid, that they have no idea how to live. We don’t even care when we hear each other talk about running their children down in the dirt streets with our armored trucks… We make fun of them in front of their faces, and laugh at them for not understanding we are insulting them… I am sorry for everything. The horror that is America is disgusting…

Well, yeah, it is disgusting. Fuck the hypocritical wingnuts, who condemn others’ evil while they freely and frequently commit equal or even worse evils of their own, under the lie that by definition, an American (and by the wingnuts’ definition, a real American is only a right-wing, “Christo”fascist American) can do no wrong, and who assert that the United States is morally perfect and is God’s Chosen Nation and therefore can do no wrong. The U.S. in fact can do wrong and does it every fucking day.

See, Bowe Bergdahl just wasn’t the right kind of American soldier. He displayed empathy for the plight of the Afghans when instead he should have been much more like his colleagues who premeditatedly brutally slaughtered Afghan civilians or the Marine who urinated on the bodies of Taliban fighters (just like Jesus Christ Himself would have done) — to give just two of many possible examples of how God’s Chosen Soldiers have behaved in Afghanistan. Even the U.S. Army soldier who raped and killed a 14-year-old Iraqi girl probably is held in higher esteem by the American right wing than is Bowe Bergdahl.

My guess, based upon what I know of Bergdahl — such as that the county where Bergdahl was raised “has gained a reputation as a Democratic Party enclave” in the deep-red state of Idaho — is that of course Bergdahl didn’t belong in the U.S. military, where sensitive, empathetic, thoughtful, intelligent individuals (you know, those who actually follow the teachings of Jesus Christ instead of just claiming to be God’s Chosen) of course are not welcome.

This is because the U.S. military — which is funded by all of us Americans who have to pay our taxes (myself included, of course), regardless of our own political and religious orientations — is a bastion of right-wing “Christo”fascists.

The “Christo”fascists have taken over our military, and we, the majority of the American people who in the past two presidential elections have soundly rejected the Repugnican Tea Party agenda (which includes jingoism, militarism and the total disregard for the humanity of the peoples of other nations), need to take back our military from the minority right wing.

So vicious — and yes, dangerous — is the American right wing (again, fucking fascists is what they are) that apparently Bergdahl’s hometown of Hailey (the seat and the largest city of the aforementioned Blaine County) canceled a scheduled homecoming for Bergdahl later this month for safety reasons, with the primary concern apparently being not potential trouble coming from locals, but from those (i.e., wingnuts) coming from elsewhere to cause trouble, and, of course, Bergdahl’s hippie-looking father has received death threats.

This is what we can expect from the American wingnuts who claim to be followers of the peace-loving and hatred-and-violence-eschewing Jesus Christ. They are fascists (I cannot emphasize that point enough), and it’s just as important to fight the fascists here at home as it has been to fight the fascists abroad.

I do not assert that Bowe Bergdahl is perfect. Whether or not he deserted his unit in Afghanistan neither you nor I know for sure, because neither you nor I was there, and if he is formally accused of desertion, then he is entitled to the due process to which you and I also are entitled. He deserves not to be branded as a deserter without first having had the chance to defend himself in a formal and fair process.

If Bergdahl did desert his unit in Afghanistan, does that change my view of him?

No.

Bergdahl’s biggest “crime,” you see, is that he apparently actually followed the teachings of Jesus Christ — you know, such as to love one another as you love yourself, to love your “enemies,” to practice peace and love instead of war, etc.

To the “Christians” who fill the U.S. military, Bergdahl is a criminal for having refused to be blindly obedient to the anti-Christian, immoral “mission” in Afghanistan of subduing yet another nation of people who have committed the crime of not being just like us Americans.

The only thing that I am aware of for which I perhaps can fault Bergdahl is that he apparently knowingly joined an organization with which he very apparently was incompatible in his temperament, values, worldview and the like.*

But then again, the continued existence of such an evil, anti-Christian, pro-killing-for-plutocracy organization as the U.S. military is our collective fault, not his.

*As I noted in 2009, it’s quite possible that Bergdahl joined the U.S. military (in 2008, apparently) because he didn’t know what else to do with himself and his life.

It’s not like the United States of America has much to offer its young adults, whom for the most part the powers that be (most of them baby boomers or dinosaurs like textbook warhawk John McCainosaurus) don’t care about, except when they can be useful to the powers that be, such as wage slaves in dead-end minimum-wage jobs, the victims of student-loan sharks, and cannon fodder in bogus wars for the plutocrats’ profits (which both the Vietraq War and the way overlong war in Afghanistan have been).

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A Solomonic solution for Ukraine

Take the entirely unscientific poll below!

I am not an expert on geopolitics, or even on world history, but, as loath as I am to adopt the right wing’s concept of “common-sense solutions” (which, interestingly, almost always turn out to be right-wing “solutions”…), it seems to me that you don’t have to have a PhfuckingD to call some shots.

The best solution where Ukraine is concerned is, methinks, a Solomonic solution* — cut that puppy in two.

Crimea, the southernmost, peninsular area of Ukraine (see map below), according to Reuters is “the only part of Ukraine with a Russian ethnic majority, which has often voiced separatist aims.”

Reuters further reports today that

Russian President Vladimir Putin secured his parliament’s authority [today] to invade Ukraine after troops seized control of the Crimea peninsula and pro-Moscow demonstrators hoisted flags above government buildings in two eastern cities.

Putin’s open assertion of the right to deploy troops in a country of 46 million people on the ramparts of central Europe creates the biggest direct confrontation between Russia and the West since the Cold War. …

Yikes.

It seems most fair to me that Crimea go to Russia, since most Crimeans apparently want this. This past week I listened to a Crimean woman interviewed on NPR state emphatically that she and her fellow Crimeans do not want to be part of the European Union (or the West in general), but want to preserve their culture and their language, and thus want to remain with Russia. If she truly represents the majority of Crimeans, then it should be majority rule. That’s called “democracy.”

So Crimea seems easy to me: it’s pretty fucking Russian already, and forcing the Crimeans to remain with an increasingly Westernized Ukraine against their will would be just as evil and wrong as it would be for Putin to try to force Ukrainians who want a Western, and not a Russian, alliance to remain with Russia.

My understanding is that that river that runs right down Ukraine at least metaphorically roughly splits it into very different nations, a pro-Western half and a pro-Russian half. Indeed, a map of the 2012 parliamentary election results in Ukraine looked like this:

File:Ukr elections 2012 multimandate okruhs.png

My understanding is that the pink areas represent pro-Western sentiment, while the blue and orange areas represent pro-Russian sentiment.

Indeed, the major dueling parties in the 2012 Ukrainian election were the pro-Russian Party of Regions and the “Fatherland” Party, which now is headed by the recently-released-from-prison Yulia Tymoshenko (often pictured in her Princess-Leia-like hairdo). I’m pretty fucking leery of Tymoshenko, who, according to Wikipedia, “Prior to her political career … was a successful but controversial businesswoman in the gas industry, becoming by some estimates one of the richest people in the country.”

Hmmm. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney had been heavily involved in the oil industry before they stole the 2000 U.S. presidential election, and usually when a filthy rich person (or at least a pro-filthy-rich-people person) rises to power, it smacks of fascism — a right-wing collusion between a government and corporations (usually with nationalistic overtones) — if it isn’t downright fascism, so I’m not hopping on the Tymoshenko bandwagon today.

I mean, “Fatherland” — I can’t help but think of the Nazis when that word is evoked. Indeed, Wikipedia notes of “Fatherland” that “the English word is now associated with the [fascistic] Nazi government of Germany [and usually] not used often in post-World War II English unless one wishes to invoke the Nazis… Prior to Nazism, however, the term was used throughout Germanic language countries without negative connotations…”

I have found the fascistic, unelected Bush-Cheney regime’s term “homeland,” as in “homeland security” and “the Department of Homeland Security” to be chilling enough, to be too close for comfort to Hitler’s “Fatherland,” and now here are Tymoshenko and her supporters touting their “Fatherland.”

Still, even though what admittedly little I know of Tymoshenko gives me great pause, if the northwestern region of Ukraine wishes to be free of Russia and (try to) join the European Union, as appears to be the case, I’m pretty OK with that, as you can’t advocate democracy only when the majority of the individuals in the situation at hand agree with you. (I see the wingnuts here in the United States do that all the fucking time, and I wish that phenomenon on no one else.)

It seems to me that the best solution for Ukraine, the solution with the least amount of bloodshed (including perhaps preventing a third world war…) and the solution that offers the best possible outcome for all parties involved, is for Ukraine to split into two nations.

Again, it is at least as outrageous for the United States and its European allies to try to force the pro-Russia portion of Ukraine to remain with a Western-bent Ukraine if the clear majority of those pro-Russian individuals do not wish to do so as it is outrageous for Russia to try to force the pro-Western portion of Ukraine to remain with a Russian-bent Ukraine if the clear majority of those pro-Western individuals do not wish to do so.

Yes, my proposed solution smacks of East Berlin and West Berlin (although, of course, I propose no wall…) — or, at least, of a messy divorce, replete with the concurrent division of property and the custody battle — and while I’m probably oversimplifying the matter of Ukraine, again, from what I know of it, the best solution seems to be to create two nations from it, and to allow one to remain, if it wishes, with Mother** Russia, and to allow the other, if it wishes and if the European Union wishes, to join the European Union.

*Admittedly, this is an imperfect metaphor, since in the story of King Solomon and the baby, of course only one of the women could have been the infant’s biological mother.

I use the metaphor because Solomon has become a symbol of wisdom, including wise arbitration, and because, per Wikipedia, “The expressions ‘splitting the baby’ or ‘cutting the baby in half’ are sometimes used in the legal profession for a form of simple compromise: solutions which ‘split the difference’ in terms of damage awards or other remedies…”

**Admittedly, I’m much more OK with the term “Motherland” than I am with “Fatherland,” and while the term “homeland” is fairly neutral, because fascists coined the term as it is used in the United States today, I can only think of it as the equivalent of “Fatherland.”

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‘The Birds’ Meets Pope Smiley Face

I generally try not to see too much symbolism in events — I remember when wingnut Glenn Beck remarked that a flock of geese flying overhead during one of his KKK rallies was a “miracle,” was “God’s flyover,” and I want to be mostly nothing like Glenn Beck — but it’s difficult not to see some symbolism in the news and in the news photos of the two white “peace” doves that, when two bonny-faced white children released from a window at the Vatican with Pope Francis, were promptly savaged by a seagull and a crow today.

Reports the Associated Press:

Vatican City — Two white doves that were released by children standing alongside Pope Francis as a peace gesture have been attacked by other birds.

As tens of thousands of people watched in St. Peter’s Square [today], a seagull and a large black crow swept down on the doves right after they were set free from an open window of the Apostolic Palace.

One dove lost some feathers as it broke free from the gull. But the crow pecked repeatedly at the other dove.

It was not clear what happened to the doves as they flew off.

While speaking at the window beforehand, Francis had appealed for peace in Ukraine, where anti-government protesters have died.

Here are some of the news photos:

Birds attack peace doves freed from pope's window

Birds attack peace doves freed from pope's window

Birds attack peace doves freed from pope's window

Birds attack peace doves freed from pope's window

Associated Press photos

Any symbolism seen in this, I suppose, would be much like a Rorschach test:

Catholicks might view it as a hostile world attacking the peaceful Catholick church. (Yeah, right. I just saw the excellent film “Philomena.” The Catholick church has been and remains one of the most evil, most oppressive institutions on the planet, even though its new pope has tried to put a happy face on all of it.)

Even a fairly reasonable person might see it as a general symbol of or statement on the state of peace in the world today, I suppose.

Anti-“Christo”fascists like myself might tend to view today’s incident of “The Birds” Meets Pope Smiley Face as the Universe’s commentary on the Catholick church itself, but most of us anti-“Christo”fascists, also being atheists or leaning toward atheism, anyway, and generally favoring science and logic and reason over hocus-pocus (such as the visage of Jesus “miraculously” appearing on a piece of toast), probably view it as just a fairly poor idea for the Catholick church to be releasing weaker birds into an environment where there are hungry, more powerful birds — duh.

Still, while I feel sorry for the doves — just two more victims of the Catholick church — and while I hope that they are OK, I kind of have to laugh inside.

P.S. Apparently, it’s dangerous to be a dove at the Vatican. TheWire.com notes that “last year, Pope Benedict XVI’s ceremonial dove release for victims of the Holocaust was marred when a seagull also attacked a dove and pinned it against a window pane.” That dove, reportedly, got away, but before today’s dove release, the Vatican knew that such an attack was a possibility.

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I voted for Jill Stein, fuck you very much.

Updated below

Green Party presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein delivers remarks during a press conference on July 11 in Washington, D.C.

AFP/Getty Images

Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, photographed in Washington, D.C., in July

It wasn’t a difficult decision. It felt at least a bit liberating, in fact, to fill in with my black ballpoint pen the oval next to her name on my mail-in ballot, and putting my completed ballot in the U.S. Postal Service mailbox yesterday gave me the at-least-mild satisfaction of having an important task finished.

President Barack Obama is leading Repugnican Tea Party presidential candidate Mittens Romney by double digits in polling here in California. California and its 55 electoral votes, the nation’s biggest prize, are so not up for grabs that neither candidate is airing any TV commercials here. No mailers, either. Nothing that I have seen, in fact, except what’s on the Internet.

The New York Times’ prognosticator Nate Silver, as I type this sentence, puts Obama’s chances of re-election at just a little below 75 percent and Mittens’ chances of winning the White House at just a little above 25 percent.

Fact is, living in a solidly blue state under the undemocratic, winner-takes-all Electoral College system, my vote for president essentially doesn’t count. I could have voted for Mittens, for fuck’s sake, and the outcome in California wouldn’t have been altered one nano-iota. That Obama would win all of California’s 55 electoral votes on November 6, 2012, was a foregone conclusion long ago.

No, of course I don’t want Mormon multi-millionaire fascist Mittens to win, and of course I recognize that the winner of the election will be Obama or Mittens (and certainly not a third-party candidate), which is why this time around I gave Obama more than $100 in campaign contributions — much less than I gave him in 2008, but, according to an e-mail that the Obama campaign put out earlier this month, only about one in 75 Americans has given Obama one single penny, so hey, even the less than $200 that I’ve given him toward his re-election bid is pretty fucking good, comparatively.

But I almost didn’t vote for Obama in November 2008. When I went to my polling place on Election Day 2008, I had it down to Obama or to independent progressive candidate Ralph Nader, and even when I’d just received my ballot I still had to ponder which candidate to vote for, and at the last minute I went ahead and gave my vote to Mr. Hopey-Changey, knowing that he would carry California whether I voted for him or not, but hoping that he would at least try to deliver the change that he’d promised.

And yes, I also felt that I wanted to take the opportunity to vote for the first non-white president of the nation’s history. It gave me at least a little bit of an uplift to know that I was part of that historical event. (Of course, any Obama-related uplift was blunted by the blow of the passage of Proposition Hate here in California, which happened in large part thanks to the big money and the efforts of Mittens’ Mormon cult and Pretty Boy Paul Ryan’s Catholick church, which, much like the Taliban, seek to shove their theofascist, ignorant, hateful bullshit down the throats of all of us.)

Four years later, it is clear to me that Barack Obama had only said what he’d figured (correctly) would get him elected. Indeed, his take of the popular vote was bigger than either Bill Clinton or George W. Bush ever got.

I could post a litany of reasons why, in good conscience, I could not cast my vote for Barack Obama again, but here are just three of them:

  • Obama for the most part just sat idly by while British Petroleum assured us that it had its crude-gushing underwater oil well perfectly well under control. Obama’s inaction was a clear signal to the planet-raping corporations: Do (or don’t do) whatever the fuck you want. The Democratic Party is addicted to your campaign contributions and therefore won’t lift a fucking finger to stop you from destroying the planet.
  • Obama had promised before his election that if the right to collectively bargain ever were under threat anywhere in the nation, he’d don a pair of comfortable walking shoes and join the fight himself. Yet when workers in Wisconsin fought for months and months for the survival of their right to collectively bargain, Obama showed his face in Wisconsin not one fucking time. Wisconsinites were on their own, with only very-last-minute support from the national Democratic Party, which was way too little way too late, and resultantly, Repugnican Tea Party Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker survived the gubernatorial recall election against him in June.*
  • The Nobel-Peace-Prize-winning-for-fuck’s-sake Obama loves his civilian-killing drones, which, if you are awake, alert and oriented, you should find spine-chilling. A recent study of drone strikes by Stanford Law School and New York University’s School of Law found that “from June 2004 through mid-September 2012, available data indicate that drone strikes killed 2,562 to 3,325 people in Pakistan, of whom 474 to 881 were civilians, including 176 children.” Um, yeah, “they” don’t hate us for “our freedom.” And what’s to stop drones from being used against American civilians here at home at some point in the future?

Even without those three things, this one thing is more than enough reason not to vote for Punker in Chief Barack Obama again: Obama’s best opportunity to push through a progressive agenda was in 2009 and 2010, when his party controlled not only the White House but also the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives.

Instead of even fucking trying to deliver upon his promises of hope and change for his base, however, Obama in 2009 and 2010 was too busy trying to sing “Kumbaya” with the Repugnican Tea Party traitors in Congress whose only mission was to make sure that the nation’s first non-white president failed. (They even openly had stated that this was their mission from Day One.)

You don’t negotiate with terrorists. You crush them. Which is what Obama should have done.

Obama’s role model, he repeatedly essentially has told us, was Ronald Fucking Reagan, who, in my book, ranks with Richard M. Nixon and George W. Bush as the worst three presidents of my lifetime (I was born in 1968).

Obama’s “signature” “achievement,” the so-called “Obamacare,” contains little to nothing that the wealth-care industry didn’t rubber stamp, and even while proclaiming his support of same-sex marriage, Obama still maintains that each state nonetheless should be allowed to decide whether or not same-sex couples’ constitutional guarantee of equality should be honored or denied.

All of this, yet Barack Obama is on our side?

After the 2008 election, Obama and his surrogates called us progressives — the Democratic Party’s (disappearing?) base — “sanctimonious” members of the “professional left.”

I, for one, don’t forget such slights — I helped put you where you are, and then you turn and shit and piss all over me? Really? — and the Obama administration’s incredibly stupid practice of base-bashing is a large reason why I voted for Jill Stein.

Again, of course I hope that Mittens Romney doesn’t win, but if he does, you can’t blame me.

Blame Barack Obama, who promised hope and change but who has delivered only sweet-sounding rhetoric and even base-bashing, and who has presided over the nation as a Ronald-Reagan-loving Repugnican Lite.

And blame the Obamabots — the blind, mindless, amoral Democratic Party hacks — who to this day have refused to hold the center-right Barack Obama accountable for anyfuckingthing only because he wears the brand-name label of “Democrat,” and who continue to actually buy the Democratic Party’s pandering bullshit that the Democratic Party of today actually gives a flying fuck about us, against the mountain of evidence to the contrary.

Update: I’d wanted to keep my bullet-pointed list of Obama’s fuck-ups to only three items, but Barack Obama has been such a fuck-up that I found it fairly impossible to list only three of his fuck-ups, so I ended up listing other fuck-ups of his elsewhere in my post, and I want to add a fourth bullet point, a point that I’m surprised that I forgot to include in my original post:

  • Early on, Obama appointed Wall Street weasels like Timothy Geithner and Larry Summers as his economic advisers, and in 2008, Obama took more money from Wall Street weasels than even John McCainosaurus did — which is probably why Obama rejected the advice of progressive economists, like the Nobel-Prize-winning Paul Krugman, who warned that Obama’s “stimulus” wasn’t nearly enough to restore the nation’s economy. All of this while Obama claims to care sooooo much about the working class and the middle class. Again: Whose side, exactly, is Barack “Talk One Way, Walk Another” Obama on?

*A judge in Wisconsin last month struck down Walker’s union-killing legislation, which was a victory for labor, but a victory that neither Obama nor the Democratic Party had a hand in. And the state is appealing the judge’s ruling, so the fight isn’t quite over quite yet.

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In James Cameron’s magnum opus ‘Avatar,’ the Bad Guys R Us

Film review

In this film publicity image released by 20th Century Fox, Jake ...

Above: Jake Sully (played by the rather yummy Sam Worthington) inspects his brand-new “avatar” in the James Cameron epic (that’s redundant, isn’t it?) “Avatar.” Below: Jake, in his avatar, bonds with native Neytiri, played by Zoe Saldana.

In this film publicity image released by 20th Century Fox, the ...

James Cameron’s “Avatar,” which I finally saw yesterday (I was waiting for the crowds to die down), is pissing off everyone, right and left. Cameron must have done something right.

Being such a political creature, if a film has the least bit possible sociopolitical bent to it, I’m going to notice it right off. In “Avatar,” such a bent abounds.

Most notably, in “Avatar,” we — the United States of America — are the bad guys. Well, not we, not really. “We” as in the military-industrial complex that has come to represent the United States of America around the world is the bad guy in “Avatar.”

I have read that, unsurprisingly, the wingnuts are not happy about this, especially given the film’s wild commercial success. (Fuck ’em.)

The villains of “Avatar” are an over-the-top corporate hack and an over-the-top colonel who work in tandem — not unlike how the Catholic church’s missionaries and the Spanish crown’s soldiers worked in tandem to conquer the “new world” — to conquer the lush planet of Pandora, which has an element (called “unobtainium,” ha ha ha) that the invading Earthlings want. (The Spanish monarchy wanted gold, of course, and the Catholic church wanted converts. We’re never told in “Avatar” what practical application, if any, “unobtainium” has, so my guess is that, like with gold, “unobtainium’s” main value is that it is, um, valuable…)

To conquer the tall, blue, feline-faced, tail-possessing people of Pandora — the Na’vi — the Earthlings (whom the Na’vi call the “sky people”) decide to infiltrate them with “avatars,” biologically fabricated Na’vi bodies that are inhabited by the consciousness of human beings controlling the biologically fabricated Na’vi bodies.

Now, the Na’vi natives are a bit too accepting of these “avatars,” whom the natives know aren’t fellow natives. If you weren’t born into and raised by the tribe, why would the tribe just accept you at all as one of them? I mean, if it were clear to us human beings that some alien race were coming to us in human bodies, would we embrace these aliens in human bodies as one of us? Prolly not.

But it would ruin “Avatar” if the avatars didn’t get some degree of acceptance from the Na’vi, and so they do.

Anyway, in “Avatar” the invading Earthlings clearly are the bad guys, and while watching what’s probably the biggest, loudest scene in “Avatar,” the Earthlings’ military forces destroying a site that is very sacred to the Na’vi, I couldn’t help but think of the internationally televised so-called “shock and awe” that many if not most of my fellow Americans got off on when the unelected Bush regime (yeah, the same regime that my fellow Americans just allowed to steal the White House in late 2000) illegally, immorally, unprovokedly and unjustly invaded Iraq, which had had nothing to do with 9/11 and which of course never possessed the weapons of mass destruction that the members of the Bush regime had lied through their fangs about, in March 2003.  

Yeah, it takes a big, tough, studly nation to attack a relatively defenseless one.

In the middle of all of this, the conflict between the rapacious Earthlings, who are represented by a very American-like military-industrial complex, and the Native-American-like Na’vi (they even wear warpaint and let out war cries), is Marine Jake Sully (played by Sam Worthington, who appears to be in just about every movie these days, which is OK with me, since he has a definite certain sexiness about him), who unexpectedly finds himself recruited to man an avatar. (Of course, he has to make a deal with the devil: for infiltrating the Na’vi and helping to subdue them, the wheelchair-bound Jake is promised that his paraplegia will be cured.)

As you already know from the previews, after he’s been manning his avatar, Jake changes his allegiance from the military-industrial complex to the Na’vi.

You probably already suspect that Jake ends up being the big hero of the film, and that of course he and his female Na’vi companion, Neytiri (wonderfully played by Zoe Saldana), go from their initially tense relationship (which showcases some great dialogue) to becoming lifemates.

That the white Marine, instead of one of the Na’vi natives, becomes the big hero of “Avatar” has pissed some people off, I read in today’s news. Reports The Associated Press:

Near the end of the hit film “Avatar,” the villain snarls at the hero, “How does it feel to betray your own race?” Both men are white — although the hero is inhabiting a blue-skinned, 9-foot-tall, long-tailed alien.

Strange as it may seem for a film that pits greedy, immoral humans against noble denizens of a faraway moon, “Avatar” is being criticized by a small but vocal group of people who allege it contains racist themes — the white hero once again saving the primitive natives.

Since the film opened to widespread critical acclaim three weeks ago, hundreds of blog posts, newspaper articles, tweets and YouTube videos have said things such as the film is “a fantasy about race told from the point of view of white people” and that it reinforces “the white Messiah fable.”

The film’s writer and director, James Cameron, says the real theme is about respecting others’ differences….

Adding to the racial dynamic [of “Avatar”] is that the main Na’vi characters are played by actors of color, led by a Dominican, Zoe Saldana, as the princess. The film also is an obvious metaphor for how European settlers in America wiped out the Indians.

Robinne Lee, an actress in such recent films as “Seven Pounds” and “Hotel for Dogs,” said that “Avatar” was “beautiful” and that she understood the economic logic of casting a white lead if most of the audience is white.

But she said the film, which so far has the second-highest worldwide box-office gross ever, still reminded her of Hollywood’s “Pocahontas” story — “the Indian woman leads the white man into the wilderness, and he learns the way of the people and becomes the savior.”

“It’s really upsetting in many ways,” said Lee, who is black with Jamaican and Chinese ancestry. “It would be nice if we could save ourselves.” …

Yes, come to think of it, “Avatar” is basically a futuristic “Pocahontas” in which Jake Sully would be John Smith and Neytiri would be Pocahontas.

And it did occur to me while I was watching “Avatar” that it seemed off that a a white guy who wasn’t even one of the Na’vi would end up as their savior.

I understand why historically oppressed peoples wouldn’t be pleased to see a white guy emerge as the hero, but I think that “Avatar’s” surprisingly subversive message succeeds as it does because it’s the white guy who realizes that what the military-industrial complex that he has been a member of has been doing is wrong, and so he decides to fight for the other side.

And it’s not just the character of Jake whose allegiance changes; there’s the character of a great Latina fighter pilot (played by Michelle Rodriguez, of whom I’d like to have seen more of in “Avatar”) and a few others whose allegiance changes, and this kind of pop-culture image in which the “turncoats” are the heroes can’t be good for the U.S. military-industrial complex, which expects its soldiers to be blindly obedient cannon fodder who die for rich white men’s fortunes while believing that they are fighting for such noble causes as “freedom” and “democracy” and “God” and “Jesus” and puppies and kittens, for fuck’s sake.

I mean, fuck. Before “Avatar” began, I had to watch an endless fucking recruitment advertisement for the National Fucking Guard. (The recruitment ad didn’t show any maimed or dead soldiers, of course, but looked like something out of “Top Gun,” as usual.) The U.S. military-industrial complex has millions if not billions of dollars — our tax dollars — at its disposal to brainwash our young people into believing that the U.S. military really is about defense and patriotism instead of about what it really is about: war profiteering, feeding the endless greed of the military-industrial complex and the greedy fucking white men who run it and who personally profit from it.

Trust me, oppressed peoples of the world, “Avatar” does much more for your cause by having its hero a white guy — a Marine, for fuck’s sake — who realizes that he’s been fighting on the wrong side and then switches sides, than it would have done for your cause had its hero been one of the Na’vi natives.

The millions of young American males (and females) who see “Avatar” might think twice before joining the U.S. military, and that’s a good thing for a planet that probably cannot survive a World War III.

Indeed, Cameron’s intent, I believe, was to send a message of peace, and it’s whitey, with his (and her) beloved military-industrial complex, who needs to get that message more than does anyone else. Those long oppressed by whitey already know the value of peace.

The Associated Press reports that Cameron wrote the AP in an e-mail that “Avatar” “asks us to open our eyes and truly see others, respecting them even though they are different, in the hope that we may find a way to prevent conflict and live more harmoniously on this world. I hardly think that is a racist message.”

Agreed.

The AP also reports of “Avatar”:

“Can’t people just enjoy movies anymore?” a person named Michelle posted on the website for Essence, the magazine for black women, which had 371 comments on a story debating the issue [of whether “Avatar” is racist].

OK, that’s a valid question.

Although it’s a rhetorical question, the answer to the question, for me, anyway, is no, I can’t just enjoy a movie anymore.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed “Avatar.” It is a visually stunning film, and I love its profuse use of greens and blues and purples, which, actually, reminded me a lot of “The Princess and the Frog,” which, come to think of it, is a bit like “Avatar”: Both films have heroines with African blood in them (Zoe Saldana apparently has African blood in her) who meet up with bumbling men whom the heroines have to turn into heroes, and both films largely take place in green, blue and purple, swampy, lush settings.

“Avatar” succeeds on the sensory level (as it should, given the millions and millions of dollars that were put into it ) — although the ubiquitous DayGlo stuff does get a little bit tiresome after a while and although Pandora’s plethora of creatures, including its Na’vi, look way too much like Earth’s creatures, including its human beings — but sue me if I am able to enjoy a movie on more than one level.

I can multi-task; I can take in all of the technical achievements of a film like “Avatar” while seeing its obvious sociopolitical statements, statements that I can’t be accused of having pulled out of my moonbatty ass because James Cameron himself says are his intended statements.

It’s a rare film that can entertain and that can stimulate public debate on important sociopolitical issues, so kudos to Cameron for having achieved that with “Avatar.”

“Avatar” is such a cultural achievement that I have to wonder if from now on people are going to go around saying to each other, in all seriousness: “I see you.” (Even though it’s a bit cheesy, I kind of hope so…)

Yes, “Avatar” is a bit derivative of other films, not just of “Pocahontas” but also of Cameron’s past films — we even get the “Alien” series’ Sigourney Weaver as a protagonist in “Avatar” (I have to say that I found Weaver’s avatar to be a bit creepy-looking, to look a bit too much like Weaver), we get the manned robots that we saw in “Aliens,” and we even get “The Company” in “Avatar” (is the amoral, profit-piggy, generic “The Company” in “Avatar” the same one that was in the “Alien” series, I wonder?).

But “Avatar” succeeds on its own and probably will be Cameron’s magnum opus. 

My grade: A

P.S. I read a news account that President Barack Obama took his girls to see “Avatar” recently. Mr. President, I sure the fuck hope that you learned something, and that having your girls there with you drove the point home.

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President Obama’s prize apparently meant as a pre-emptive strike for peace

 

List of Nobel Peace Prize winners since 2000. US President Barack ...

AFP graphic

Barack Obama is the third current or former Democratic U.S. president or vice president to have won the Nobel Peace Prize this decade. You just don’t see any warhawk Repugnican politicians who put corporate profits far above mass civilian casualties on the peace-prize list, do you?

So on the heels of being blamed quite unfairly for losing the United States the 2016 summer Olympic games — which would have been an unfairly unprecedented five times for the summer Olympics to have been held in the same nation (and would have left Britain at No. 2, having hosted only three summer Olympic games, including 2012) — President Barack Obama today was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Not to sound too much like the wingnuts, but:

For what?

For not being George W. Bush?

That seems to be the message of the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama, who hasn’t been in office for even a full year yet; it seems to be a thank-y0u message to Americans for having chosen Obama over hawkish John McCainosaurus in November 2008.

Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize seems to have been awarded more for what he hasn’t done — such as to start a bogus war in violation of the wishes of the United Nations Security Council, as the unelected BushCheneyCorp did when it launched its Vietraq War in March 2003 — than for anything that he has done.

“Obama told reporters in the White House Rose Garden that he wasn’t sure he had done enough to earn the award, or deserved to be in the company of the ‘transformative figures’ who had won it before him,” The Associated Press reports today, adding, “But, he said, ‘I will accept this award as a call to action, a call for all nations to confront the challenges of the 21st century.'”

An AP “analysis” probably correctly notes that “the prize seems to be more for promise than performance. Obama so far has no standout moment of victory. As for most presidents in their first year, the report card on Obama’s ambitious agenda is an ‘incomplete.'”

Yeah, really, it seems to me that there’s no other way to read the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama than as a message from the rest of the world as to the kind of U.S. president they hope Obama will be. This makes me feel at least mildly badly to be an American, to be feared by the rest of the world as the bully on the global block who has a tendency to go off half-cocked.

Of course, that is exactly how the wingnuts want us Americans to be perceived, even though that results in such blowback as 9/11. (But, of course, such blowback as 9/11 is as politically good for the Repugnican Party as the Reichstag fire was good for the budding Nazi Party. Bad for Americans, good for the Repugnican Party — isn’t that how it always is?)

Baby-boomer-asshole blowhard Rush Limbaugh, whose best service to his nation would be to die already, remarked of the Nobel Prize committee’s decision to award the peace prize to Obama: “They love a weakened, neutered U.S, and this is their way of promoting that concept. I think God has a great sense of humor, too.”

God, of course, is an old white Repugnican man who loves to start bogus wars for his war-profiteering cronies and for multinational corporations that want to steal other nations’ natural resources for the private profits of a filthy-rich few.

Everyone knows that.

Anyway, the peace prize committee should have known how awarding the prize to Obama would have been received politically within the United States, with even foaming-at-the-mouth lefties like me asking: “For what?” Or maybe I’m being U.S.-centric for stating that, but still…

In any case, the peace prize has been awarded, so let’s just hope that Obama lives up to it.

Which was the message of the peace-prize committee in the first place, methinks.

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