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Attacks on Elizabeth Warren demonstrate her strength

Warren listens to Yellen testify on Capitol Hill in Washington

Reuters news photo

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has the stuff of which U.S. presidents are made, which is why she has plenty of detractors. (And she really rocks purple. Just sayin’: I want eight years of a purple-wearing president.)

Reading Yahoo! political commentator Matt Bai’s recent column on why he believes Vice President Joe Biden should run for the 2016 Democratic Party presidential nomination, I was stopped cold by Bai’s casual, cavalier remark that besides Biden, “There’s [Vermont U.S. Sen.] Bernie Sanders, who’s an avowed socialist [as though there were something wrong with that], and Elizabeth Warren, who sounds more like a Jacobin.”

I recalled that the Jacobins were associated with the French Revolution, but I couldn’t recall exactly what they were about, and so I looked them up on Wikipedia. Wikipedia notes of the Jacobins, in part: “At their height in 1793-94, the [Jacobin Club] leaders were the most radical and egalitarian group in the [French] Revolution. Led by Maximilien de Robespierre (1758–1794), they controlled the government from June 1793 to July 1794, passed a great deal of radical legislation, and hunted down and executed their opponents in the Reign of Terror.”

Wow.

For all of the right wing’s bullshit about “class warfare” — which, conveniently, according to the right wing’s playbook always is waged by the poor against the rich and never vice-versa — Elizabeth Warren actually has not called for a violent revolution.* She has called for a return to socioeconomic fairness and justice, which is more than reasonable, especially given what has happened to the American middle class since at least the 1980s, during the reign of Reagan (another reign of terror from history, not entirely metaphorically speaking). But if you can’t win an argument these days, you just accuse your opponent of being a terrorist (not entirely unlike Repugnican Tea Party Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s recent comparison of Wisconsinites standing up for their livelihoods to the terrorists who comprise ISIS).

Matt Bai makes only one other brief reference to Warren in his screed about why, in his estimation, Biden should run for president for 2016: “Biden’s a middle-class champion who makes the case for economic fairness with more conviction than [Billary] Clinton and less vitriol than Warren .”

I agree that Billary has little to zero credibility on the issue of socioeconomic justice, but if you Google “vitriol” you will see that it means “cruel and bitter criticism.”

Wow. Warren is passionate, absolutely. She’s one of the relatively few passionate and progressive elected officials in D.C., and passion is a normal response to socioeconomic injustice that is deep and widespread. But when has Warren ever been bitter and/or cruel? WTF, Matt Bai?

I’m not the only one who has recognized this. I was pleased to see soon later that Salon.com writer Elias Isquith wrote a column on Bai’s drive-by bashing of Warren and on the establishment’s fear of Warren — fear of Warren because she actually threatens to upend the status quo in Washington, D.C., the status quo that is toxic for the majority of Americans (and much if not most of the rest of the world) but that is working out just fine for the denizens of the halls of power in D.C. (which would include Bai, whom Isquith refers to as “the star pundit-reporter and longtime communicator of whatever the conventional wisdom of the political elite happens to be at any given time”; I would add that Bai is a mansplainer par excellence as well).

Isquith, too, takes issue with calling Warren a “Jacobin,” and Isquith compares a quotation of an actual Jacobin (the philosophy of whom is that “[the] policy ought to be to lead the people by reason and the people’s enemies by terror. … Terror is nothing other than justice, prompt, severe, inflexible; it is therefore an emanation of virtue; it is not so much a special principle as it is a consequence of the general principle of democracy applied to our country’s most urgent needs”) to a quotation of Warren (one of my favorites):

“I hear all this, you know, ‘Well, this is class warfare, this is whatever.’ No. There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own — nobody. You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police-forces and fire-forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory — and hire someone to protect against this — because of the work the rest of us did. Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea. God bless — keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is, you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”

This statement (from August 2011, when Warren was running for the U.S. Senate) is eminently fair and reasonable — I’d call it “common sense” if the wingnutty fascists hadn’t already bastardized that term for all of their harmful ideas and opinions.

Why the establishmentarian attacks on Warren, whose actual words and actual record have nothing whatsofuckingever to do with what her detractors and critics claim about her? Isquith offers a plausible explanation (links are Isquith’s):

… The first and most obvious reason is that Washington is, to put it gently, a swamp of corruption where many influential people live comfortably — thanks to Wall Street. Maybe they’re lobbyists; maybe they work in free-market think tanks; maybe they’re employed by the defense industry, which benefits greatly from Wall Street’s largesse. Or maybe they’re government bureaucrats who find Warren’s opposition to the “revolving door” to be in profound conflict with their future plans.

My second theory is less political and more prosaic. Another reason Bai and his ilk find Warren discomfiting may be her glaring lack of false modesty and her disinterest in keeping her head down and paying her dues. Because despite being the capital of what is nominally the greatest liberal democracy on Earth, Washington is in truth a deeply conformist and hierarchical milieu, one where new arrivals are expected to be neither seen nor heard until they’ve been deemed to have earned their place. And while Warren may want to be seen as a team player, what she cares most about is reining in Wall Street. If she deems it necessary to accomplish her primary goal, she’s willing to step on some toes and lose a few fair-weather friends. …

I would add that patriarchy, sexism and misogyny certainly play a role, too. It might not be conscious in all cases, but I surmise that because every single one of our 44 U.S. presidents thus far have been men, there is an ingrained cultural, even visceral, belief among many, many Americans — even women — that the U.S. president should be a man. Thus, the likes of Matt Bai is rooting for Joe Biden; Bai’s support of Biden apparently stems, in no tiny part, from the fact that Biden is yet another older white man.

The U.S. president should be, in my book, the candidate who both is the most progressive and the most electable, and right now that candidate is Elizabeth Warren. That she happens to be a woman is great, as we are woefully overdue for our first female president.

Presidential preference polls consistently show both Warren and Biden to be Democrats’ second and third choices after Billary Clinton (who, after E-mailgate, might slide in the polls of Democrats and Democratic-leaners; we’ll see).

Joe Biden probably would be an acceptable-enough president – I’d certainly take him over a President Billary – but given his age (he’s 72 years old today and would be 74 were he to be inaugurated as president in January 2017, making him the oldest president at the time of inauguration in U.S. history [even Ronald Reagan was a spry 69-going-on-70 years old when he took office in early 1981]) and given his reputation as a hothead, I don’t know how electable Biden would be.

And while in fairness the vice president doesn’t get to do very much, what has Biden done over the past six years?

Biden’s age doesn’t bother me — if you can be the job, I don’t much care how old you are — but it would become a campaign “issue.” And while perhaps it’s not fair to Biden as an individual, it’s pathetic and sad and deeply disappointing that in our so-called “representative democracy,” our 45th president would be yet another white man, for a string of 44 out of 45 U.S. presidents being white men.

Elizabeth Warren is a twofer: an actually progressive Democrat who is electable as U.S. president, and thus also potentially our first U.S. president who is a woman.

Attacks on Warren by the shameless, worthless, self-serving defenders of the status quo are to be expected; when the voters hear and read what Warren has to say, versus the bullshit that the establishmentarians spew** about her, they will, I believe, put Warren in the White House, where she belongs.

*For the record, I don’t rule out the use of violence in a revolution. Our plutocratic overlords never rule out the use of violence (state violence, usually) against us commoners. Unilateral disarmament is bullshit.

I’d much prefer a bloodless revolution, of course, but again, when the enemy doesn’t rule out violence, you shouldn’t either.

**Similarly, were most Americans actually informed about what democratic socialism actually is all about, they probably would embrace it, which is why it has been so important to the establishmentarians and the wingnuts (really, “wingnut” is too-cuddly a word for right-wing fascists) to lie about what socialism is all about.

Such a dog-whistle word has “socialist” become, indeed, that Matt Bai simply dismisses Bernie Sanders’ entire being in one fell swoop in just one phrase (“an avowed socialist” — gasp!).

Thank you, Matt Bai, for so courageously doing your part to discourage all actual thought in the United States of America!

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E-mailgate might give Elizabeth Warren an opening

Hillary Clinton Email Servers Home Scandal Private Email Secretary of State

LegalInsurrection.com image

E-mailgate may not be enough to sink the U.S.S. Billary – and create a fabulous opening for the person who should be the next president of the United States, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren – but the scandal does, at the minimum, demonstrate that Billary Clinton has more baggage than does O’Hare International Airport.

Worse than the fact that Billary never even had a -.gov e-mail address during her tenure as U.S. secretary of state, but used a personal e-mail address instead*, is the fact that Billary’s personal e-mails were stored on her own Internet server entirely under her own control. Reports The Associated Press today (emphases are mine):

Washington — The computer server that transmitted and received Hillary Rodham Clinton’s e-mails — on a private account she used exclusively for official business when she was secretary of state — traced back to an Internet service registered to her family’s home in Chappaqua, New York, according to Internet records reviewed by The Associated Press.

The highly unusual practice of a Cabinet-level official physically running her own e-mail would have given Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, impressive control over limiting access to her message archives. It also would distinguish Clinton’s secretive e-mail practices as far more sophisticated than some politicians, including Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin, who were caught conducting official business using free e-mail services operated by Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo Inc.

Most Internet users rely on professional outside companies, such as Google Inc. or their own employers, for the behind-the-scenes complexities of managing their e-mail communications. Government employees generally use servers run by federal agencies where they work.

In most cases, individuals who operate their own e-mail servers are technical experts or users so concerned about issues of privacy and surveillance they take matters into their own hands. It was not immediately clear exactly where Clinton ran that computer system.

Clinton has not described her motivation for using a private e-mail account — hdr22@clintonemail.com, which traced back to her own private e-mail server registered under an apparent pseudonym — for official State Department business.

Operating her own server would have afforded Clinton additional legal opportunities to block government or private subpoenas in criminal, administrative or civil cases because her lawyers could object in court before being forced to turn over any e-mails. And since the Secret Service was guarding Clinton’s home, an e-mail server there would have been well protected from theft or a physical hacking. 

But homemade e-mail servers are generally not as reliable, secure from hackers or protected from fires or floods as those in commercial data centers. Those professional facilities provide monitoring for viruses or hacking attempts, regulated temperatures, off-site backups, generators in case of power outages, fire-suppression systems and redundant communications lines.

A spokesman for Clinton did not respond to requests seeking comment from the AP [yesterday]. Clinton ignored the issue during a speech [last] night at the 30th anniversary gala of EMILY’s List, which works to elect Democratic women who support abortion rights.

It was unclear whom Clinton hired to set up or maintain her private e-mail server, which the AP traced to a mysterious identity, Eric Hoteham. That name does not appear in public records databases, campaign contribution records or Internet background searches. Hoteham was listed as the customer at Clinton’s $1.7 million home on Old House Lane in Chappaqua in records registering the Internet address for her e-mail server since August 2010.

The Hoteham personality also is associated with a separate e-mail server, presidentclinton.com, and a non-functioning website, wjcoffice.com, all linked to the same residential Internet account as Clinton’s e-mail server. …

E-mailgate indeed speaks to Billary’s respect for transparency, as well as (further) exposes her apparent issues over power and control. I mean, fuck: she eschewed a federal government Internet server for her own Internet server, as though it weren’t about the U.S. government, but were All About Billary.

Further, as fellow left-wing commentator Ted Rall writes (links are Rall’s):

… Under the Federal Records Act of 1950, which has been amended several times, “all government employees and contractors are required by law to make and preserve records containing adequate and proper documentation of the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, and essential transactions of the agency.”

During his first full day as president in January 2009, President Obama directed federal agencies to preserve all e-mails relating to government business so that agencies could add them to paper and other non-digital records requested as part of Freedom of Information Act requests, subpoenaed by judges for judicial reasons, and for eventual transfer to the National Archives for study by historians.

Clinton served as Secretary of State between 2009 and 2013. So clearly her e-mails and fell under the purview of the law.

It is difficult to imagine that, as a high-level politician and recent presidential candidate, Clinton was unaware of this requirement. In 2007, the scandal over the Bush administration’s dismissal of eight U.S. attorneys centered around precisely the same issue: the destruction of up to 5 million e-mails authored by Bush administration and Republican Party officials, which were either lost or intentionally deleted because they weren’t sent using government e-mail accounts.

Upon taking charge of the State Department, Clinton made the same exact move as the Bush people caught up in the U.S. attorney scandal two years before. Whereas Bush and Republican party operatives created a private domain, gwb43.com, in order to keep prying Democratic and journalist eyes out of their correspondence, Clinton’s staff registered the domain that she used, clintonemail.com, on January 13, 2009 – one week before Obama’s inauguration, on the day of her confirmation hearings.

Millions of Americans go to work at new jobs where, as part of the standard human resources package, they receive a new company e-mail account. This happens at countless federal, state, and city government agencies as well. For some reason, however, Hillary Clinton not only never used her state.gov e-mail address – she was never issued one. …

Rall later asks in his column, which you should read, “The question isn’t how many e-mails [Billary] has turned over; the question is, where are the rest of them?”

Again, E-mailgate shows us, I think, what Billary is all about: power for power’s sake, and more and more power for herself. (Not that we didn’t already know that.)

Is anyone above Billary? Is she accountable to anyone? I mean, as secretary of state she very apparently violated the directive of her boss, President Barack Obama, regarding the retention of e-mails related to U.S. government business.

We know – we have known for some time now – all that we need to know about Billary Clinton. If we let her into the White House, we’ll get the president that we deserve.

*Here is the New York Times reportage from Monday that brought E-mailgate to light: (emphases are mine):

Washington — Hillary Rodham Clinton exclusively used a personal e-mail account to conduct government business as secretary of state, State Department officials said, and may have violated federal requirements that officials’ correspondence be retained as part of the agency’s record.

Clinton did not have a government e-mail address during her four-year tenure at the State Department. Her aides took no actions to have her personal e-mails preserved on department servers at the time, as required by the Federal Records Act.

It was only two months ago, in response to a new State Department effort to comply with federal record-keeping practices, that Clinton’s advisers reviewed tens of thousands of pages of her personal e-mails and decided which ones to turn over to the State Department. All told, 55,000 pages of e-mails were given to the department. Clinton stepped down from the secretary’s post in early 2013.

Her expansive use of the private account was alarming to current and former National Archives and Records Administration officials and government watchdogs, who called it a serious breach.

“It is very difficult to conceive of a scenario — short of nuclear winter — where an agency would be justified in allowing its cabinet-level head officer to solely use a private email communications channel for the conduct of government business,” said Jason R. Baron, a lawyer at Drinker Biddle & Reath who is a former director of litigation at the National Archives and Records Administration.

A spokesman for Clinton, Nick Merrill, defended her use of the personal e-mail account and said she has been complying with the “letter and spirit of the rules.”

Under federal law, however, letters and e-mails written and received by federal officials, such as the secretary of state, are considered government records and are supposed to be retained so that congressional committees, historians and members of the news media can find them. There are exceptions to the law for certain classified and sensitive materials.

Clinton is not the first government official — or first secretary of state — to use a personal e-mail account on which to conduct official business. But her exclusive use of her private e-mail, for all of her work, appears unusual, Baron said. The use of private e-mail accounts is supposed to be limited to emergencies, experts said, such as when an agency’s computer server is not working.

“I can recall no instance in my time at the National Archives when a high-ranking official at an executive branch agency solely used a personal e-mail account for the transaction of government business,” said Baron, who worked at the agency from 2000 to 2013.

Regulations from the National Archives and Records Administration at the time required that any e-mails sent or received from personal accounts be preserved as part of the agency’s records. But Clinton and her aides failed to do so.

How many e-mails were in Clinton’s account is not clear, and neither is the process her advisers used to determine which ones related to her work at the State Department before turning them over.

“It’s a shame it didn’t take place automatically when she was secretary of state as it should have,” said Thomas S. Blanton, the director of the National Security Archive, a group based at George Washington University that advocates government transparency. “Someone in the State Department deserves credit for taking the initiative to ask for the records back. Most of the time it takes the threat of litigation and embarrassment.”

Blanton said high-level officials should operate as President Obama does, e-mailing from a secure government account, with every record preserved for historical purposes. “Personal e-mails are not secure,” he said. “Senior officials should not be using them.”

Penalties for not complying with federal record-keeping requirements are rare, because the National Archives has few enforcement abilities.

Merrill, the spokesman for Clinton, declined to detail why she had chosen to conduct State Department business from her personal account. He said that because Clinton had been sending e-mails to other State Department officials at their government accounts, she had “every expectation they would be retained.” He did not address e-mails that Clinton may have sent to foreign leaders, people in the private sector or government officials outside the State Department.

The revelation about the private e-mail account echoes longstanding criticisms directed at both the former secretary and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, for a lack of transparency and inclination toward secrecy.

And others who, like Clinton, are eyeing a candidacy for the White House are stressing a very different approach. Jeb Bush, who is seeking the Republican nomination for president, released a trove of e-mails in December from his eight years as governor of Florida.

It is not clear whether Clinton’s private e-mail account included encryption or other security measures, given the sensitivity of her diplomatic activity. 

Clinton’s successor, Secretary of State John Kerry, has used a government e-mail account since taking over the role, and his correspondence is being preserved contemporaneously as part of State Department records, according to his aides.

The existence of Clinton’s personal e-mail account was discovered by a House committee investigating the attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi as it sought correspondence between Clinton and her aides about the attack. …

As I’ve written before, Benghazigate is bullshit – the Repugnican Tea Party traitors who wish to make the deaths of four Americans in Libya into a huge issue have, puzzlingly, had no problem whatsofuckingever with the deaths of more than 4,000 of our troops in the unelected Bush regime’s illegal, immoral, unprovoked and unjust Vietraq War – but it was skeezy of Clinton to use personal e-mail for her public office’s business and then decide which personal e-mails – which very apparently are in her sole possession (with the exception of the recipients of those e-mails) – to ultimately turn over for the record or for any other legitimate purpose.

I am a huge advocate of privacy, and in general I oppose anyone reading anyone else’s e-mails, but most of us never were or ever will be U.S. secretary of state. And Billary apparently did break the law, which apparently her successor John Kerry has not had a problem following.

It’s too early, it seems to me, to know whether or not E-mailgate will grow legs, but for the time being, it seems to me that if E-mailgate is Billary’s biggest scandal between now and 2016 presidential primary season, she probably will be OK in her quest for the White House if she presses on with that quest, as E-mailgate isn’t exactly very sexy. But E-mailgate does demonstrate that Billary is so embattled and so controversial that she might never get to the White House.

And I hope that she doesn’t, of course.

Even if I have to pick between Billary and a Repugnican Tea Party presidential candidate on November 8, 2016, at this point – with the Democratic Party having sold out at least since Bill Clinton was in the Oval Office – I can’t see myself ever casting a vote for Billary. I most likely would vote for the Green Party candidate, whoever that is, if my Democratic Party choice for president in November 2016 is Billary.

(Let me remind you that the U.S. president is not chosen by popular vote, but by the Electoral College, and that if Billary is on the November 2016 ballot for U.S. president, she’ll win California and all of its 55 electoral votes, whether I vote or not. [Billary won California over Barack Obama in their protracted fight for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. Billary is a DINO sellout, but she wins in California, coasting on her surname.])

I still don’t believe that President Billary is Inevitable. Widespread Billary Fatigue, should Billary win the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, just might win the Repugnicans the White House next presidential election, it seems to me, so Repugnican attacks on Billary might backfire on them if Billary doesn’t run after all, if she begins to run but then drops out, or runs but actually is beaten by a challenger, as she was by Obama in 2008.

If a candidate who is stronger than Billary – like, oh, say, Elizabeth Warren (who doesn’t have nearly the amount of baggage and who, entirely unlike Billary, is credible on the issue of boosting the middle class and the working class and tackling the obscene income inequality in the United States) – ultimately is the 2016 Democratic Party presidential candidate, the Repugnicans easily could lose the White House that they could have won had it been Billary on the ballot.

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I am NOT Charlie Hebdo

This 2010 cover of the French publication Charlie Hebdo depicts a Muslim woman with a burqa stuffed up her ass. I, for one, wouldn’t publish such unnecessarily offensive material. Because you can doesn’t mean you should. There is an awful lot that we are free to do that we probably should not do.

First, the obligatory (but sincere) opening paragraph in which I proclaim that I support free speech on every square centimeter of the globe and that of course I do not condone the slaughter of human beings over the publication of things that some (or many or even most) have found to be offensive.

I’m sure that I’ve offended many people over the years, and I sure would prefer not to be shot to death because I’ve offended some fucktard’s precious sensibilities.

But missing in the discussion that I’ve heard and read regarding yesterday’s massacre of 12 people in Paris at or near the offices of the weekly French publication Charlie Hebdo is that the publication apparently has a frat-boy mentality (I dunno: is that a French thing?), the mentality in which other groups of human beings who differ from our own group exist only as fodder for our belittling attacks against them.

I don’t see that Charlie Hebdo’s many covers apparently meant to offend and provoke Muslims in France do anything to uplift the public debate. These covers seem to be meant to provoke and offend above all else, to shock, to scandalize, and to enrage Muslims, or, at the very least, to not give a shit if Muslims become enraged (because hey, they’re Muslims!).

“Charlie Hebdo insults all religions,” the ubiquitous Charlie-Hebdo-defending mantra goes.

Really?

Here in the United States, the equivalent cartoons, if they were about Jews, would be considered to be virulently anti-Semitic.

Why, in the West, is anti-Semitism widely condemned (and so much that isn’t actually anti-Semitic nonetheless is deemed to be “anti-Semitic”), but virulent Islamophobia so often in so many places is perfectly A-OK? (That was a rhetorical question, mostly, but I’ll answer it anyway: because in the West, Christianity and Judaism get preferential treatment. They always have.)

I don’t believe in God, so I have no dog in this race. Muslims, Jews, Christians, all (the fundamentalists among them, anyway) believe in things that I think are utter bullshit, such as ridiculous dietary restrictions (well, at least the Jews and the Muslims), creationism and other anti-scientific and anti-intellectual stances and hocus-pocus bullshit (“miracles,” virgin births, resurrections, being God’s specially chosen stenographer, etc.), patriarchy, misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia and talking to a non-existent deity (a.k.a. “praying”).

Those who believe in God (as adults who should know better) more often that not are only going along to get along with the tribe that they were born into and/or want pat answers to all of the universe’s questions (and their religion gives them the veneer of having all of those answers) and/or they find the world to be a terrifying place to be and they find God to be the ultimate security blanket.

I disagree with them, and when theofascists piss and shit on my human rights, civil rights and equal rights (such as they did with Proposition H8) I will speak out, but, in general, I don’t see what good would come of my going out of my way to offend and provoke those who hold religious beliefs that I find to be ridiculous. For the most part, as long as the theists leave me (and my rights) alone, I can leave them alone.

Charlie Hebdo’s raison d’être, on the other hand, seems not to be to enlighten and to unify, but to offend and to provoke, especially Muslims, yet when the dog that it’s been stabbing with sharpened sticks for years now finally — and fairly fucking predictably — bites back in a big way, the rest of the world is supposed to feel sorry for Charlie Hebdo? Really?

I’m sorry that people were massacred over Charlie Hebdo’s low-brow, frat-boy content that, in my estimation, certainly wasn’t worth dying for. But it was preventable. The free speech that these people died for wasn’t very valuable speech, was it? A woman with a burqa stuffed up her ass? Mohammed thusly depicted:

Charlie Hebdo Muhammad cartoon

?

I won’t say “Je sui Charlie” (French for “I am Charlie”) because if I owned a weekly publication, I wouldn’t print shit like this, shit that causes more harm than good.

As an atheist on the outside looking in, I can proclaim that in the West, Muslims get the shitty end of the stick almost every time. The same individuals who preach about how we should respect their precious religious beliefs have no problem disrespecting Islam, and the Charlie Hebdo cartoons that I’ve seen of the pope and of Jews aren’t, in my estimation, likely to be nearly as offensive to Catholics and Jews as are the publication’s cartoons depicting Mohammed or Muslims to Muslims. (And, from what I can tell, the publication’s cartoons lampooning Islam are more numerous than its cartoons lampooning Christianity or Judaism.)

Charlie Hebdo repeatedly has poked the critter of Islam with a sharpened stick. In 2011, the publication’s (yeah, I just have a hard time calling it a “newspaper”) headquarters were firebombed, for fuck’s sake (the day after it published an issue calling itself “Charia Hebdo” and portraying Mohammed as a clown with a red nose).

What happened in Paris yesterday was predictable and preventable. And what was it for? For “free speech,” so many people proclaim, but no, ultimately it was for the freedom to continue to shit and piss on Muslims, including the freedom to offend them deeply in ways that are universally known to deeply offend them.

That is not a freedom that I believe is worth dying for. Defending against the spread of theofascism, whether the theofascists be abroad (such as the wonderful folks of “ISIS” [or whatever we’re calling them this week]) or at home (such as those who bomb abortion clinics and those who violate the U.S. Constitution and human, civil and equal rights when they do their damnedest to stop same-sex marriage), is worth dying for, but making unprovoked attacks upon others for their religious beliefs, no matter how ridiculous they might be? That’s not a defensive posture, that’s an offensive posture.

And yes, intentionally offending Muslims in the West is worse than is intentionally offending Christians or Jews in the West, because — duh — in the West Christians and Jews have greater numbers and greater power than do Muslims. Picking on the majority is not — not — the same as picking on an already-highly-picked-upon minority group. It takes a special kind of asshole to kick someone who’s already down.

I am not Charlie Hebdo, no matter how fashionable being Charlie Hebdo might be in the West right now.

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I’m rooting for underdog Snowden in his fight against the wolves

File photo of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden being interviewed by The Guardian in his hotel room in Hong Kong

Reuters image

Although it’s awfully inconvenient for the treasonous power elite in Washington, D.C., Edward Snowden is a free man who has the right to travel freely and who does not have to subject himself to a kangaroo court. And nor does any other sovereign nation have to capture Snowden for the convenience of the traitors in D.C. who seek not justice, but who seek revenge against the young man who blew their cover for their actual crimes against us, the American people.

The D.C. rhetoric regarding patriot Edward Snowden is revealing, graphically, the sick and twisted beliefs of the powers that be. We knew that they were drunk on power (which isn’t their power, but which is our power that we only temporarily have loaned to them), but now we realize the full scale of their alcoholism.

How dare Snowden travel wherever he wishes? As an American citizen, he is the property of the federal government!

Isn’t he? That’s how the traitors in D.C. are treating him — as though he were the veritable property of the U.S. government, and therefore, through his (very smart) refusal to just hand himself over to the thugs who no doubt will treat him like Bradley Manning or one of the victims at the Guantanamo Bay Concentration Camp, he essentially is stealing government property (himself)!

Freedom? What freedom? You don’t have any fucking freedom! You are the property of the U.S. government! You exist for the government! The government does not exist for you!

That is the anti-democratic, fascist, freedom-hating mindset at work here, and we’re seeing it from members of both of the duopolistic, pro-corporate, pro-plutocratic parties.

Pathetic closet case Repugnican Tea Party Sen. Lindsey Graham, for instance, typical for the fascist that he is, recently proclaimed that “The freedom trail is not exactly China-Russia-Cuba-Venezuela, so I hope we’ll chase [Snowden] to the ends of the Earth….”

That sure sounds like Graham believes that Snowden does not have the right to freely travel, and no, unfortunately, the “freedom trail” does not lead to the United States of America, which is becoming fascist at a rate that would make Benito Mussolini jealous, but probably does lead to an actually democratic nation like Ecuador (said to be one of Snowden’s possible final destinations as he runs from the bloodthirsty wolves).

And big, bad “Democratic” Secretary of State John Kerry, for instance, recently huffed and puffed that it is “deeply troubling” that the sovereign nations of China and Russia both apparently have refused to try to capture Snowden, but have let him travel freely — as though either sovereign nation were required to do the bidding of the power elites in D.C. who don’t want justice, but who want only to try to protect their own political asses.

Snowden’s real “crime,” you see, is that he dared to stand up to the powers that be and he embarrassed them (well, actually, they have embarrassed themselves, but of course they’re projecting, and so they’re blaming him).

The real crime here is the blatantly unconstitutional and treasonous mass spying that the power elites have been perpetrating upon us for years and years now. You don’t get to promise us that of course you’re not violating our constitutional rights and at the same time refuse to give us (under the guise of “national security”) significant details as to what it is, exactly, that you are doing under the cover of darkness.

Those who support Big Brother are the Constitution-violating traitors. Edward Snowden isn’t a “traitor” for simply having pointed out the real traitors. He’s a patriot for having done so, and he has infinitely more courage than do any of the cowardly worms who bash him, the kind of worthless suck-ups, concerned only about their own precious asses and not about dangerous abuses of power, who made Adolf Hitler’s rise to power possible.

The power elite are skating on very thin ice here. Already the U.S. government for years and years has been perceived (quite correctly) by us, the people, to be unresponsive to our needs and unrepresentative of our interests.

An attack on Edward Snowden is an attack on all of us.

To allow the lynching of Edward Snowden is to give the power elites carte blanche to disappear any of us whom they deem an embarrassment to them or otherwise to threaten their power and status.

If we now are going allow the mere embarrassment of the power elites and/or the challenge to the power elites’ power (such as by pointing out their crimes, such as their blatant violations of our constitutional protections) to be classified as a “crime,” then we might as well wrap up the American experiment right now and call it a Colossal Fucking Failure, and let’s just go full-blown already into the nightmare state that George Orwell dreamed of, the nightmare state in which all of us are monitored 24/7 and which any of us can be disappeared at any time by the power elite at their whim.

This is some serious shit, folks.

While I fairly hate to support the system (including our “legal” system) that makes this kind of bullshit even possible, as it gives that system the air of fairness and thus legitimacy, if you want to donate to the Edward Snowden legal defense fund, you can do so here.

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The handjob-in-a-Bangkok-bathhouse presidential campaign

But this [presidential] campaign, relatively speaking, will not be fierce or hotly contested. Instead it’ll be disappointing, embarrassing, and over very quickly, like a handjob in a Bangkok bathhouse. And everybody knows it. It’s just impossible to take Mitt Romney seriously as a presidential candidate.

Rolling Stone political writer Matt Taibbi, May 7

It’s difficult to write about this year’s presidential race, since it’s so substance-free.

We all know what Repugnican Tea Party candidates Mittens Romney and Pretty Boy Paul Ryan are all about: the continued radical redistribution of wealth, from the very many to the very few. (Right-wingers oppose the redistribution of wealth only when such redistribution benefits the many instead of the few. Then, it’s “communism” or “socialism” or some other “anti-American” “evil.”) And Team Romney/Ryan are about the Orwellian, Randian relabeling of those of us serfs who produce for our plutocratic overlords as “parasites” when it’s the plutocrats who are the parasites on the rest of us — not vice-versa.

Class warfare, indeed.

And we all know that President Barack Obama, the lesser of the two evils, won’t/wouldn’t do much more in a second term than he has(n’t) done thus far. An Obama re-election, while not the hell that a President Romney would mean for us, would mean four more years! of whatever the hell it is that you could call these past three-plus years.

So devoid of substance is this presidential race that the narcissistic, shallow, cold-blooded Paul Ryan’s workout routine is considered “news,” and so coveted has been a shirtless pic of Ryan that the gossip website TMZ has put a watermark on the Paul Ryan shirtless pic from six years ago that it managed to find and present to the world:

0817_paul_ryan_TMZ_03

Thankfully, in TMZ’s online poll, as I type this sentence, 85 percent of the respondents proclaim that the chicken-legged Ryan’s looks will not influence their vote, while only 15 percent say that Ryan’s looks will/would be a factor in their voting decision, and 58 percent of the respondents say that they would not do the nasty with Ryan, while 42 percent say that they would. Seventy-seven percent claim that they would rather get it on with Ryan Gosling than with Paul Ryan, while only 23 percent choose the surnamed Ryan over the first-named Ryan. And asked whether we’ll ever have a President Paul Ryan, 69 percent say no and only 31 percent say yes.

This is what American politics has been reduced to. Just so you know.

This is the result of decades of “infotainment” and celebrity culture and corporately owned and controlled non-journalism poisoning what we still call our “democracy.”

So watered down and insipid all of it has become that we have Mittens Romney proclaiming the obvious as though it were scandalous.

This past week Mittens proclaimed that President Barack Obama is “running [for re-election] just to hang on to power, and I think he would do anything in his power” to remain in office.

Duh.

Most presidents run for a second term, and Mittens has not been running for president since at least 2008 because he wants power?

Yeah, you know, I think that the vast majority of those who run for president want the power of the presidency. (What they would do with that power, of course, is another matter.)

The very definition of “politics” (the broad definition) is the use of power.

Barack Obama is to be shamed for wanting to retain his power, but we are to believe that Mittens doesn’t want the same power? (Or, at least, are we to believe that Mittens actually would use such power for good?)

And what about former “President” George W. Bush? When he ran for a second, unelected term, didn’t he “just [want] to hang on to power”? Or are only Democratic candidates power-mongers?

Such sheer hypocrisy is what it means to be a wingnut or a Mormon, and in multi-millionaire Mittens we have both.

Mittens this past week also proclaimed that Barack Obama’s re-election campaign is driven by “division and attack and hatred.”

Let’s see: The Mormon cult and the Repugnican Tea Party both believe that women, non-whites, non-heterosexuals, non-“Christo”fascists, non-citizens, non-capitalists, et. al., et. al. should be/should remain second- or third-class citizens, and that only right-wing, “Christo”fascist, white, heterosexual, patriarchal, capitalist males should continue to run the show, but somehow that’s not “division” or “hatred” or an “attack” on those of us — who are the majority of the human beings who inhabit the United States of America — who don’t fit those demographics and who disagree that those with those demographics should continue to have an insanely unfair amount of political power in what is supposed to be a representative democracy.

No, when Mittens’ Mormon cult — and Paul Ryan’s Catholick church — actively supported Proposition Hate here in my home state of California, that was an attack, a personal attack on my equal human and civil rights guaranteed to me by the constitutions of my nation and my state.

That was a divisive attack based — steeped — in hatred.

Women should not be allowed to control their own uteri; same-sex couples should not be allowed to be married; “illegals” should be deported immediately (or, as Joe the Plumber, who is running for the U.S. House of Representatives for Ohio on the Repugnican Tea Party ticket, recently put it, “put a damn fence on the border going with Mexico and start shooting”); the filthy rich should continue to get richer and the rest of us should continue to get poorer; and Hey, let’s start another war in the Middle East! — as John McCainosaurus hilariously sang during the last presidential election cycle, “Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran!”

But the Repugnican Tea Party traitors and the members of the Mormon cult are nice people, you see, because they don’t use profanity or salty language (like that evil Joe Biden!), and they smile lovingly while they propose to destroy you with such euphemistically named plans as Pretty Boy Paul Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity,” which is only a blueprint for the continued prosperity of the richest among us at the continued expense of the rest of us.

It’s difficult for Team Romney/Ryan to talk substance when their only goal is to ensure that the richest and the most powerful among us gain even more wealth and more power while the rest of us lose even more wealth and even more power than we’ve lost since at least Ronald Reagan’s reign in the 1980s. When you are concealing your true aims — because your true aims are patently evil — there isn’t much of substance for you to say. Thus, you are reduced to such hypocritical, ludicrously insubstantial charges as that your political opponent — wait… for… it… — wants power!

Not that Barack Obama has much more to run on. He promised us, incessantly, “hope” and “change.” Instead, he has delivered much of the same, and has been one of our nation’s most mediocre, most disappointing presidents.

But even that, sadly, is head and shoulders above what the Romney/Ryan ticket offers, and that is catastrophic for the United States of America.

As Ted Rall concludes in his latest column,

If all Democratic strategists have to do to attract progressive voters is to frighten them with greater-evil Republicans, when will people who care about the working class, who oppose wars of choice, and whose critique of government is that it isn’t in our lives enough ever see their dreams become party platform planks with some chance of being incorporated into legislation?

In recent elections (c.f. Sarah Palin and some old guy versus Barry), liberals are only voting for Democrats out of terror that things will get even worse.

That’s no way to run a party, or a country.

Well, I, for one progressive, have refused to give President Hopey-Changey (a.k.a. President Lesser of Two Evils) a single fucking red cent for his re-election, and come November 6, I probably will cast my vote for Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein or maybe even Peace and Freedom Party presidential candidate Roseanne Barr.

Throwing away my vote, you say?

No. To vote for the pure, raw evil or to vote for the lesser of the two evils — that would be to throw away my vote.

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The Ides of October

Herman Cain has proposed a so-called "9-9-9" tax plan that would tax people, businesses and sales at a flat nine percent

AFP photo

Maybe “666” wasn’t the best photo op after all… (I mean, it’s pretty pathetic when Michele Bachmann is shown to maybe have been correct about anything.) Anyway, Repugnican Tea Party presidential wannabe Herman Cain has been accused of having sexually harassed at least two women while on the job. Why do I tend to believe that he is guilty as charged? 

So last night I saw the George Clooney political movie “The Ides of March,” which is about how a good old-fashioned sex scandal can bring down a presidential campaign. (While not as good as Clooney’s “Good Night, and Good Luck,” “The Ides of March” is watchable.)

And then, later last night, I saw the headlines that top-tier Repugnican Tea Party presidential candidate Herman Cain has been accused of having been accused of sexual harassment at least twice in the mid- to late 1990s when he was the top dog of the National Restaurant Association.*

Wow. What timing.

Of course the Cain campaign vehemently denies that Cain ever sexually harassed anyone. (Cain — who, for some fucking reason, many people actually claim is a good speakereven asked a POLICITO reporter who had asked him about the sexual harassment allegations if he [the reporter] had ever been accused of sexual harassment. Yeah, very presidential.)  

While I believe that even a wingnutty scumbag like Cain is (at least more or less) innocent until proven otherwise, the thing is, I still believe Anita Hill, and it looks as though we have another Clarence-Thomas-type of scandal unfolding right about now.

More locally, when he was running in the bullshit do-over California gubernatorial election of 2003, former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was accused of having sexually harassed — even sexually assaulted — several women during his years in Hollywood. The Schwarzenegger campaign essentially called all of these women liars. Maria Shriver of the Democratic Kennedy dynasty publicly stated that she stood by her Repugnican man, which helped Schwarzenegger to usurp the governorship from the duly re-elected Democratic governor, Gray Davis.

Then, after his governorship ended in January of this year, Schwarzenegger in May admitted, after he’d been outed by the Los Angeles Times, that he had knocked up his housekeeper and that she had borne his son in 1997. Obviously, had the state’s voters known this juicy fact in 2003, they never would have voted for Schwarzenegger in the Repugnican-orchestrated gubernatorial recall election, and Maria Shriver, understandably, is keeping a very low profile here in California these days.

Gee, if he knocked up his housekeeper, do you think that Baby Daddy Schwarzenegger may actually have sexually harassed all of those (other) women after all?

It all boils down to this, methinks: Men who woefully mistakenly believe that they are qualified for high political office, such as the presidency or the governor of the nation’s most populous state, even when they never have held any elected office before — and both Cain and Schwarzenegger fit this description — obviously have issues with power.

Politics is the exercise of power, as is sexual harassment. (Many of us don’t like to talk about issues of power, which is why sex, politics and religion, which are so interchangeable and which all have to do with the exercise of power, are such taboo topics even though they probably are the most important topics that we possibly could discuss.)

Do I know that Herman Cain is guilty as charged? No. I wasn’t there. But if I had to bet a large sum of money on it, which way would I go?

I’d bet that Herman Cain is another Clarence Thomas.

And it’s a slap in the faces of all women to automatically call any woman a liar when she reports sexual harassment — especially when most of the time such allegations turn out to be quite true.

And after the likes of Clarence Thomas and Arnold Schwarzenegger, do we really want to get punk’d again by another sexual harasser, a man who has demonstrated that he cannot wield his personal (political) power responsibly?

*The website POLITICO broke the story, reporting:

During Herman Cain’s tenure as the head of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s, at least two female employees complained to colleagues and senior association officials about inappropriate behavior by Cain, ultimately leaving their jobs at the trade group, multiple sources confirm to POLITICO.

The women complained of sexually suggestive behavior by Cain that made them angry and uncomfortable, the sources said, and they signed agreements with the restaurant group that gave them financial payouts to leave the association. The agreements also included language that bars the women from talking about their departures.

In a series of comments over the past 10 days, Cain and his campaign repeatedly declined to respond directly about whether he ever faced allegations of sexual harassment at the restaurant association. They have also declined to address questions about specific reporting confirming that there were financial settlements in two cases in which women leveled complaints.

POLITICO has confirmed the identities of the two female restaurant association employees who complained about Cain but, for privacy concerns, is not publishing their names. … [Full story here.]

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Sexual orientation is quite relevant to the victims of closet cases

California state Sen. Roy Ashburn, a Repugnican, top, and U.S. Rep. Eric Massa of New York, a Democrat, are the latest prominent politicians embroiled in political same-sex sex scandals. Ashburn has maintained that his sexual orientation is irrelevant, even though he consistently has voted against equal human and civil rights for his fellow non-heterosexuals.

Political scandals of any type come as no surprise to me.

“Politics,” to me, broadly means “the use of power.”

Many if not even most people don’t know how to handle responsibly any significant power that they come into. To me, there are two major ways that a significant amount of personal political power can be used: (1) to help as many other people as possible in ways that are transparent and legal and ethical, or (2) to help oneself and one’s cronies (this would include one’s political friends, one’s campaign contributors and one’s friends and family members), usually in ways that are kept hidden in the dark and are at least unethical if not also illegal.

Unfortunately, most people who come into power see the purpose of politics not as the first, but as the second. They might pay plenty of lip service to the first, but their deeds demonstrate their allegiance to the second.

In power plays, we usually see two things involved: sex or money (or both). This is because personal power so often is exchanged in money or in sex (or both).

Monetary scandals rather bore most of us. It’s the sexual scandals that we really pay attention to.

And of the sex scandals, it’s the gay sex scandals that really capture our attention.

Recently, first there was Democratic U.S. Rep. Eric Massa of New York, who resigned yesterday. He more or less used cancer as his official reason for resigning, but the word is that he sexually harassed a male staffer. Details of the alleged sexual harassment, which Massa at first apparently denied but then apparently admitted, are sketchy, but it appears as though the sexual harassment was verbal, not physical.

Adding to the scandal is that Massa, 50, was in the U.S. Navy for more than two decades, which probably helped him win his seat in his Repugnican-dominated district, and that he has a wife, two sons and a daughter.

Gay political sex scandals are bipartisan, of course.

The Sacramento Bee today reports:

A prominent Republican [California] state senator arrested on suspicion of drunken driving this week in Sacramento has taken a personal leave through Sunday from the upper house.

State Sen. Roy Ashburn of Bakersfield, a 14-year veteran of the Legislature, was arrested at about 2 a.m. Wednesday while driving his state-issued car near the state Capitol.

Ashburn later issued a written apology, but the arrest catapulted his personal life into a very public spotlight.

A Sacramento TV station reported that unnamed sources saw Ashburn at a gay bar the night before the arrest, setting off a media frenzy that stretched from the blogosphere to late-night television talk shows.

Ashburn’s hometown paper, the Bakersfield Californian, printed excerpts from an unpublished interview he did last year in which the divorced father declined to address rumors he was gay.

“Why would that be anyone’s business?” he told a columnist. “I think there are certain subjects that are simply not relevant, and this is one of them.”

But in a world where activists have the ability to instantly hold politicians accountable for any inconsistency between their public actions and personal behavior, some say sexual orientation is entirely relevant.

West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon, an openly gay Democrat, told The Bee and other media he had spotted Ashburn at other gay bars in Sacramento in recent months.

“I don’t think it’s a scandal for an elected official to be gay,” Cabaldon said. “But if you’re going to vote against every piece of hate-crimes legislation (to protect gays), that’s hypocritical.”

In the interview, Ashburn said he didn’t believe he had been a staunch anti-gay activist, insisting the way he had voted on social issues reflected his constituents’ views.

Ashburn, who is in his last year representing a bedrock conservative region, organized a Traditional Values Coalition rally in Bakersfield in 2005 to support a proposed constitutional amendment that year to prohibit gay marriage.

Ashburn also touted his support for Proposition 22, [an anti-]gay-marriage ballot initiative, calling himself a co-sponsor at the 2000 measure.

Equality California, a gay rights group, gave Ashburn a “zero percent” for his 2009 voting record.

Ashburn voted against bills that included expanding California’s mental health services for gay youths and measures to protect gay prisoners from violence – which won some GOP votes – and creating a day to honor slain gay activist Harvey Milk.

An Ashburn aide said Friday the senator had no response to questions about his sexual orientation, adding that aides didn’t know if Ashburn would appear Monday for a Senate floor session….

Ashburn is a textbook case right out of the excellent documentary “Outrage”: A closeted, usually Repugnican politician who works against equal human and civil rights for non-heterosexuals. A despicable fucking hypocrite and a fucking traitor to his tribe.

Yes, Assburn, if you are a non-heterosexual legislator who votes against equal human and civil rights for non-heterosexuals, then your sexual orientation is quite relevant, quite relevant to those whose equal human and civil rights you are obstructing because you are ashamed of your own sexual orientation.

And if you are a non-heterosexual man posing as heterosexual but you sexually harass your male co-workers or your male underlings (as has happened to me at the workplace, so I know something about this), then your sexual orientation is relevant; you have made it quite relevant to the victims of your sexual harassment.

And if you are a non-heterosexual male but you have heterosexually married and have had children, guess what? Your sexual orientation is quite relevant to your wife and kids.

If you are a closet case who actually manages to keep your sexual orientation entirely to yourself — which is damn near impossible, unless you live alone in a remote cave, as we are a social species — then perhaps we can say that your sexual orientation is “irrelevant.” (After all, if one actually is asexual or nearly so, then one’s sexual orientation indeed would be fairly irrelevant, at least to other people.)

Those who maintain that one’s sexual orientation is “private” or “irrelevant” or the like — especially when one has made his or her sexual orientation other people’s business — are homophobes.

The only reason that you would maintain that something as basic to oneself as one’s sexual orientation is “private” or “no one’s business” or “irrelevant” or the like is that your core belief about non-heterosexuality is that it is wrong and shameful.

You only enshroud in darkness that which you believe does not belong in the light.

There is nothing wrong with or shameful about non-heterosexuality.

There is something wrong with lying, such as lying about one’s sexual orientation, and there is something wrong with misusing one’s sexual power, such as in the case of sexual harassment.

That is the lesson that we need to take away from the gay political sex scandals.

As long as non-heterosexuality itself remains stigmatized, closet cases will continue to do their damage to others.

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