Tuesday, July 15, 2008

i love this guy

Heinrich Kieber broke the laws of his country Liechtenstein by turning over the names of rich Americans who set up secret accounts. Thanks dude... here's the story

Thursday, June 19, 2008

the leap to the right, er center

Obama is telling Fortune magazine what his advisor told the Canadian consular official in Chicago: don't worry about the campaign "rhetoric", your money's safe with me. I know, I know this just proves that he is a viable candidate and is running a smart campaign. Blah blah. Sure sounds like the old Democrat bait and switch though.

This from The Nation:
Obama's interview with Fortune magazine -- headlined "Obama: NAFTA Not So Bad After All" -- is the best news the McCain camp has received since Mike Huckabee folded his run for the Republican nomination.

If Obama takes the economic issue that white working-class voters best understand off the table, he creates a huge opening for McCain in states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

And that is precisely what the Democrat cynically dismisses his appropriately anti-NAFTA rhetoric during the primary season as "overheated and amplified."

In her interview with the candidate, Fortune's Nina Easton reminded Obama that earlier this year he had called NAFTA "devastating" and "a big mistake" and suggested that he would use an opt-out clause in the trade agreement between the US, Canada and Mexico to demand changes that would be more favorable to workers and farmers in all three countries.

Obama replied that, "Sometimes during campaigns the rhetoric gets overheated and amplified" -- which would have been enough of an indication that he was backing off the stance that contributed significantly to his success in the February 19 Wisconsin primary that proved to be a critical turning point for his campaign.

But the presumptive Democratic nominee for president dug the hole deeper.

"Politicians are always guilty of that, and I don't exempt myself," he continued, suggesting that those who doubted his sincerity when he denounced NAFTA in a speech to Janesville, Wisconsin, autoworkers might have been right.

Abandoning the tough talk of the winter and spring, Obama sounded an awfully lot like free-trader McCain when he said he was for "opening up a dialogue" with trading partners Canada and Mexico "and figuring to how we can make this work for all people."

Easton took it that way.

"The general campaign is on, independent voters up for grabs, and Barack Obama is toning down his populist rhetoric - at least when it comes to free trade," she began. "In an interview with Fortune to be featured in the magazine's upcoming issue, the presumptive Democratic nominee suggests he doesn't want to unilaterally blow up NAFTA after all."

Referring to Obama's soft-peddling of the fair-trade position he embraced in the primary campaign, Easton writes, "That tone stands in marked contrast to his primary campaign's anti-NAFTA fusillades. The pact creating a North American free-trade zone was President Bill Clinton's signature accomplishment; but NAFTA is also the bugaboo of union leaders, grassroots activists and Midwesterners who blame free trade for the factory closings they see in their hometowns.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

electoral vote

I'm obsessed with this website electoral-vote. I know it's a little bit bullshit though because some of the state polls are older and it's way before the election. Nevertheless...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


This is unreal. Can someone please mention how insane this drilling idea is. Basically it's the bushies saying, if only you had allowed us to do this then we would get over this energy problem. amazing. Here's from abc news the note, which i'm addicted to i must say.

"John McCain said a federal ban on offshore oil and gas drilling should be relaxed and states should be given greater incentives to permit exploration off their coasts as a way of solving what he called the country's 'energy crisis,' " Stephen Power and Elizabeth Holmes write in The Wall Street Journal.

"Sen. John McCain called yesterday for an end to the federal ban on offshore oil drilling, offering an aggressive response to high gasoline prices and immediately drawing the ire of environmental groups that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee has courted for months," Michael Shear and Juliet Eilperin write in The Washington Post. "McCain's announcement is a reversal of the position he took in his 2000 presidential campaign and a break with environmental activists, even as he attempts to win the support of independents and moderate Democrats." l

So which McCain is it? "If John McCain keeps dancing like this, he's liable to break a hip," Dana Milbank writes in The Washington Post. "Last month, he shimmied to the left on energy policy, infuriating conservatives with a plan to cap carbon emissions. Yesterday, he shuffled back to the right, demanding an end to quarter-century-old bans on offshore oil drilling."

Thursday, May 22, 2008

hillary vp

Get over it. She deserves it. If not for the half of the party she reps, then for being a tough ass woman almost winning candidate. Here's an article by Marie Cocco about the insane sexism. I can attest to it since I have been sucked into the vortex of watching cable during the election season:

Misogyny I Won't Miss

As the Democratic nomination contest slouches toward a close, it's time to take stock of what I will not miss.

I will not miss seeing advertisements for T-shirts that bear the slogan "Bros before Hos." The shirts depict Barack Obama (the Bro) and Hillary Clinton (the Ho) and are widely sold on the Internet.

I will not miss walking past airport concessions selling the Hillary Nutcracker, a device in which a pantsuit-clad Clinton doll opens her legs to reveal stainless-steel thighs that, well, bust nuts. I won't miss television and newspaper stories that make light of the novelty item.

I won't miss episodes like the one in which liberal radio personality Randi Rhodes called Clinton a "big [expletive] whore" and said the same about former vice presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro. Rhodes was appearing at an event sponsored by a San Francisco radio station, before an audience of appreciative Obama supporters -- one of whom had promoted the evening on the presumptive Democratic nominee's official campaign Web site.

I won't miss Citizens United Not Timid (no acronym, please), an anti-Clinton group founded by Republican guru Roger Stone.

Political discourse will at last be free of jokes like this one, told last week by magician Penn Jillette on MSNBC: "Obama did great in February, and that's because that was Black History Month. And now Hillary's doing much better 'cause it's White Bitch Month, right?" Co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski rebuked Jillette.

I won't miss political commentators (including National Public Radio political editor Ken Rudin and Andrew Sullivan, the columnist and blogger) who compare Clinton to the Glenn Close character in the movie "Fatal Attraction." In the iconic 1987 film, Close played an independent New York woman who has an affair with a married man played by Michael Douglas. When the liaison ends, the jilted woman becomes a deranged, knife-wielding stalker who terrorizes the man's blissful suburban family. Message: Psychopathic home-wrecker, begone.

The airwaves will at last be free of comments that liken Clinton to a "she-devil" (Chris Matthews on MSNBC, who helpfully supplied an on-screen mock-up of Clinton sprouting horns). Or those who offer that she's "looking like everyone's first wife standing outside a probate court" (Mike Barnicle, also on MSNBC).

But perhaps it is not wives who are so very problematic. Maybe it's mothers. Because, after all, Clinton is more like "a scolding mother, talking down to a child" (Jack Cafferty on CNN).

When all other images fail, there is one other I will not miss. That is, the down-to-the-basics, simplest one: "White women are a problem, that's -- you know, we all live with that" (William Kristol of Fox News).

I won't miss reading another treatise by a man or woman, of the left or right, who says that sexism has had not even a teeny-weeny bit of influence on the course of the Democratic campaign. To hint that sexism might possibly have had a minimal role is to play that risible "gender card."

Most of all, I will not miss the silence.

I will not miss the deafening, depressing silence of Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean or other leading Democrats, who to my knowledge (with the exception of Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland) haven't publicly uttered a word of outrage at the unrelenting, sex-based hate that has been hurled at a former first lady and two-term senator from New York. Among those holding their tongues are hundreds of Democrats for whom Clinton has campaigned and raised millions of dollars. Don Imus endured more public ire from the political class when he insulted the Rutgers University women's basketball team.

Would the silence prevail if Obama's likeness were put on a tap-dancing doll that was sold at airports? Would the media figures who dole out precious face time to these politicians be such pals if they'd compared Obama with a character in a blaxploitation film? And how would crude references to Obama's sex organs play?

There are many reasons Clinton is losing the nomination contest, some having to do with her strategic mistakes, others with the groundswell for "change." But for all Clinton's political blemishes, the darker stain that has been exposed is the hatred of women that is accepted as a part of our culture.

siegelman again

Dan Abrams on the MSNBC show "The Verdict" keeps hammering the Siegelman case. I'm so grateful that he won't let it go. This story is dirty, dirty, dirty.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

daniel berrigan, still at it

From an article in The Nation
...The distractions of the world are for him just that--distractions. The current election campaign does not preoccupy him, and he quotes his brother, Philip, who said that "if voting made any difference it would be illegal." He is critical off the Catholic Church, saying that Pope John Paul II, who marginalized and silenced radical priests and nuns like the Berrigans, "introduced Soviet methods into the Catholic Church," including "anonymous delations, removals, scrutiny and secrecy and the placing of company men into positions of great power." He estimates that "it is going to take at least a generation to undo appointments of John Paul II." He despairs of universities, especially Boston College's decision last year to give an honorary degree to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and this year to invite the new Attorney General, Michael Mukasey, to address the law school. "It is a portrayal of shabby lives as exemplary and to be honored," he says.

...Berrigan argues that those who seek a just society, who seek to defy war and violence, who decry the assault of globalization and degradation of the environment, who care about the plight of the poor, should stop worrying about the practical, short-term effects of their resistance.

"The good is to be done because it is good, not because it goes somewhere," he says. "I believe if it is done in that spirit it will go somewhere, but I don't know where."

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Hillary Clinton's campaign advisor was just delusional on Chris Matthews' Hardball show. She was talking about what if's with campaigns and used as an example the 2000 election saying "what if it didn't have to go to the Supreme Court." It didn't have to go to the Supreme Court, they stuck their noses in and stole that election. Then Matthews pontificates saying well if Gore had gone for a complete recount instead of just the narrow recount, things could have been different. If we were a normal country, we could just look at that election as a travesty and a coup and work to make sure it does not happen again. But then we would have to admit that our democracy is as fragile as anyone else's. And that would dent the press's role as the great superego of the nation. They are not given to self-criticism.

ralph's still keeping it real

Monday, May 12, 2008

feng ming

This is a still from Feng Ming: A Chinese Memoir. I'm sure a nearly still shot camera of a woman speaking Chinese for three hours does not sound like an engaging movie, but how about the opportunity to sit in the house of a former committed communist journalist whose life took a horrifying turn after her husband was accused in an anti-rightist deviation purge of the late 1950s. She was later rehabilitated but had to go through it all again during the Cultural Revolution. Once a rightist, i guess... It's an extraordinary film. Because she's a writer, she tells her story in a really simple but totally gripping way. At one point she gets up to go to the bathroom and I couldn't wait for her to get back. Here is a review from Robert Koehler who saw it at Cannes last year. This was my favorite movie at the Buenos Aires festival. Amazing. I love this woman.

Friday, May 9, 2008

susan faludi's op-ed on hillary

The Fight Stuff

NOTABLE in the Indiana and North Carolina primary results and in many recent polls are signs of a change in the gender weather: white men are warming to Hillary Clinton — at least enough to vote for her. It’s no small shift. These men have historically been her fiercest antagonists. Their conversion may point less to a new kind of male voter than to a new kind of female vote-getter.

Pundits have been quick to attribute the erosion in Barack Obama’s white male support to a newfound racism. What they have failed to consider is the degree to which white male voters witnessing Senator Clinton’s metamorphosis are being forced to rethink precepts they’ve long held about women in American politics.

For years, the prevailing theory has been that white men are often uneasy with female politicians because they can’t abide strong women. But if that’s so, why haven’t they deserted Senator Clinton? More particularly, why haven’t they deserted her as she has become ever more pugnacious in her campaign?

Maybe the white male electorate just can’t abide strong women whom they suspect of being of a certain sort. To adopt a particularly lamentable white male construct, the sports metaphor, political strength comes in two varieties: the power of the umpire, who controls the game by application of the rules but who never gets hit; and the power of the participant, who has no rules except to hit hard, not complain, bounce back and endeavor to prevail in the end.

For virtually all of American political history, the strong female contestant has been cast not as the player but the rules keeper, the purse-lipped killjoy who passes strait-laced judgment on feral boy fun. The animosity toward the rules keeper is fueled by the suspicion that she (and in American life, the regulator is inevitably coded feminine, whatever his or her sex) is the agent of people so privileged that they don’t need to fight, people who can dominate more decisively when the rules are decorous. American political misogyny is inflamed by anger at this clucking overclass: who are they to do battle by imposing rectitude instead of by actually doing battle?

The specter of the prissy hall monitor is, in part, the legacy of the great female reformers of Victorian America. In fact, these women were the opposite of fainting flowers. Susan B. Anthony barely flinched in the face of epithets, hurled eggs and death threats. Carry A. Nation swung an ax. Yet they were regarded by men as the regulators outside the game. Indeed, many 19th-century female reformers defined themselves that way — as reluctant trespassers in the public sphere who had left the domestic circle only to fulfill their duty as the morally superior sex, housekeepers scouring away a nation’s vice.

While the populace might concede the merits of the female reformers’ cause, it found them repellent on a more glandular level. In that visceral subbasement of the national imagination — the one that underlies all the blood-and-guts sports imagery our culture holds so dear — the laurels go to the slugger who ignores the censors, the outrider who navigates the frontier without a chaperone.

Certainly through the many early primaries, Hillary Clinton was often defined by these old standards, and judged harshly. She was forever the entitled chaperone. But that was then. As Thelma, the housewife turned renegade, says to her friend in “Thelma & Louise” as the two women flee the law through the American West, “Something’s crossed over in me.”

Senator Clinton might well say the same. In the final stretch of the primary season, she seems to have stepped across an unstated gender divide, transforming herself from referee to contender.

What’s more, she seems to have taken to her new role with a Thelma-like relish. We are witnessing a female competitor delighting in the undomesticated fray. Her new no-holds-barred pugnacity and gleeful perseverance have revamped her image in the eyes of begrudging white male voters, who previously saw her as the sanctioning “sivilizer,” a political Aunt Polly whose goody-goody directives made them want to head for the hills.

It’s the unforeseen precedent of an unprecedented candidacy: our first major female presidential candidate isn’t doing what men always accuse women of doing. She’s not summoning the rules committee over every infraction. (Her attempt to rewrite the rules for Michigan and Florida are less a timeout than rough play.) Not once has she demanded that the umpire stop the fight. Indeed, she’s asking for more unregulated action, proposing a debate with no press-corps intermediaries.

If anyone has been guarding the rules this election, it’s been the press, which has been primly thumbing the pages of Queensberry and scolding her for being “ruthless” and “nasty,” a “brawler” who fights “dirty.”

But while the commentators have been tut-tutting, Senator Clinton has been converting white males, assuring them that she’s come into their tavern not to smash the bottles, but to join the brawl.

Deep in the American grain, particularly in the grain of white male working-class voters, that is the more trusted archetype. Whether Senator Clinton’s pugilism has elevated the current race for the nomination is debatable. But the strategy has certainly remade the political world for future female politicians, who may now cast off the assumption that when the going gets tough, the tough girl will resort to unilateral rectitude. When a woman does ascend through the glass ceiling into the White House, it will be, in part, because of the race of 2008, when Hillary Clinton broke through the glass floor and got down with the boys.

Monday, April 28, 2008

rogue economics

Loretta Napoleoni's Rogue Economics is pretty much a must read. On first glance it seems to another of the "we're fucked" variety of planet and political doom of the future. And it is pretty harsh: she goes through the last 18 years looking at the rise of sex and worker slavery (even shipping slavery on the oceans) and environmental crises like overfishing. But what's amazing about the book is that it goes through the effects of globalization on politics using examples like the Bulgarian Mafia and the Italian 'ndrangheta to show how illegal or at least unethical economics skirt around politics in a globalized world. Her perspective is not as dark as you might think, though. In the introduction she basically spells out how her original idea changed. She wanted to write a book about the devastating changes on Eastern Europe and the world after the fall of the Berlin wall. But in her research she basically came across similar historical shifts that allowed these rogue economic forces dominate, i.e., during the industrial revolution. One of the responses to this system has been Islamic Sharia economics and it's stress on investment over speculation. She uses the example of Malaysian which refused all Western aid after the Asian tiger meltdown in the late 90s. Here's an interview with the author on Democracy Now.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

siempre presentes (always present)

The first two videos below are from a huge billboard poster is at the University of Buenos Aires Facultad de Architectura, Diseño y Urbanismo. It has the names and sometimes pictures of students who were disappeared by the Argentine dictatorship in the late from 1976-1982. The third video is design professor Martin Groisman talking about the kidnapped children of the murdered students' parents.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

another lefty prez in south america

Fernando Lugo was elected the new President of Paraguay. He is a former bishop who sided with landless peasants and pissed off the elite in his diocese. If Latin Americans keep this up, they could form their own version of a democratic-socialist E.U. that could really affect the balance of power in the world. Rising food prices are going to pressure governments to actually do things for their own people. Here's an excerpt from a January interview with IPS news:
IPS: Will you carry out land reform?

FL: We believe Paraguay must recover its credibility on the international stage, and one essential element is land redistribution. In the early 1990s, Paraguay received a 40 million dollar loan from the Inter-American Development Bank to create a national land ownership registry, which to this day has not been carried out. Only 10 to 15 percent in the south of the country has been covered. As long as we lack a credible land registry, people will continue to be duped. The point of departure for land reform is transparency about who owns what land. With the participation of government, small farmers’ organisations and industrial sectors, we could design a land reform process that would not be traumatic or violent, but would be the product of inclusive and consensual negotiation.

IPS: In terms of your plans for the country, to whom do you feel closest: Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil, Néstor Kirchner of Argentina, Evo Morales of Bolivia or Hugo Chávez of Venezuela?

FL: Paraguay has to make its own way forward. I don’t think we can import a foreign model. I’m in favour of collective and shared leadership. I think that in some countries there are very strong individual leaders, such as in Chávez’s case, for example. When leadership isn’t shared, individual leaders can cause polarisation, as I believe is happening in Bolivia. I don’t believe in creating a polarised society. We have enough problems already without creating additional conflict. I believe in dialogue as the social instrument to build a country.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

jimmy goddamn carter

A story about the former president that really shouldn't be missed...(thanks to sh in my comments for bringing it to my attention)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

murga porteña

We met Gabriel yesterday at the Plaza de Mayo protests against the closing of cultural centers in the city by the right-wing city government. He is the coordinator for the the Murga Los Descarrilados de Parque Avellaneda. A murga is a musical street theater group centered around the Rio Plata primarily in Buenos Aires and Montevideo but in surrounding regions as well. Different neighborhoods have different murgas and they perform not only at carnival time but throughout the year. This murga is more of a socialist murga. They perform, for example, for a shoe company party and receive shoes instead of money. They hold fundraisers but never charge anything and are connected to the politics of their increasingly Bolivian populated neighborhood. So they also organize around labor issues like the issue of clandestine factories that produce cheap clothing on Bolivian slave labor.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

el hombre nuclear

the apocalyptic buenos aires film festival

Interkosmos was playing in the Abastos shopping mall when the entire block had a blackout. We were eating across the street. They got the lights back on after 10 minutes or so and then another delay getting the subtitles and projections queued up. The people that stayed for the q and a were really excited about the film. An old couple said that they thought they were going to see Aaron Copeland's "The Planets" but were actually pleasantly surprised. I was asked why I thanked Hugo Chavez in the credits and I said I also thanks Judy Garland and Greta Garbo. But I thanked Chavez because he drives the Bush administration crazy. He is one of their failures. While they were obsessed with Iraq, that coup got away from them. And, of course, he is someone who can kick the ass of the US (at least verbally). Huele a sulfre...(it smells like sulfur, the devil was hear yesterday). The next night was a smoke-filled city. They were burning fields in the islands and areas around Buenos Aires and the wind apparently did not agree with them so all the smoke blew into the city. It was like there was a fire around the corner and you kept expecting the smoke to dissipate but it never did.

Monday, April 14, 2008

the black pope

I just had a strange question and answer of La Trinchera Luminosa del Presidente Gonzalo. I have slept probably 3 hours in a plane in the last 36 hours. We checked into our hotel off the airplane in the Abasto neighborhood of Buenos Aires but they wouldn't let us get a room so early so Cat and I walked around the city and I found a DVD rental place that has a bunch of leftie docs about the Montoneros, Tupamaros, etc.. and we went and ate at the Gato Negro, an old and charming cafe. By the time we got the room, I had to deal with festival stuff and then dinner and then my movie and q and a. I tried to speak English but I ended up speaking mostly Spanish, which sounds cool but I may have misread the audience. There were a couple of cranky lefties that did not like or understand what the hell I was doing so they kept the questions focused on why false documentary and how I was kind of making fun of the prisoners and kind of not. A couple Peruvians were there and one remarked again on the facts and what I got right or wrong. What is your concept of ideology is pretty interesting. I kind of rambled with that one talking about evil Soviet bobsledders in the seventies and how after 1989 Marxism is basically forgotten. I want to go back and look at this and remember the good things about the critical analysis of capitalism as well as the authoritarian tendencies of leftist groups. I talked about factionalism as well and how I see my work in the tradition of American satire creating characters that criticize my country and my capitalist ideology from outside the system. The translator and theater guys thought it was great. I felt a bit defensive, especially since many of the critical questions came from people who then got up and left shortly after. Which I thought was lame, by the way. I was tired and managed a 30-minute Spanglish q and a jetlagged so hooray!

Anyway, two women audience members came up to Cat and I and said are you Obama or Clinton, which I thought was funny. I'm Obama because I'm hoping he can do something even though I know he's a centrist, but I'm actually sympathetic to the argument that at this point the two are not far apart and that maybe Hillary would actually be able to get things through the bureaucracy. I asked what they thought and they said that they both were lousy and that Obama scared them. I said why and they said because you don't know anything about him. I talked about the culty criticism of him and one of them told me he was the Black Pope of the Apocalypse, which I thought was an insane and strange metaphor. When I got home, I googled it and found that it's a real conspiracy theory.