Speaking truth with power.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

News in Briefs

A little over a week ago, word leaked that Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina was missing. And actually, it wasn't leaked, it came out directly, from his wife. She said he was off hiking the Appalachian Trail (is that what the kids are calling it these days?) in hopes to get some writing done. Except, he wasn't on the Appalachian Trail. He was on some lady's happy trail, down Buenos Aires way. And last week, the American public was treated to another political scandal involving a once-sanctimonious politician, now caught with his pants around his ankles.

Governor Sanford was last in the news when he refused to take federal stimulus money earlier in the year. This makes sense, politically, as the Governor was spending state money to travel down to Argentina to see his mistress. Plus, he probably wanted to avoid all those adultery/stimulus jokes. Hi-yo!

Senator Franken

Today, nearly eight months after the November 4th elections, Al Franken is good enough and smart enough to be declared the god darn winner of the hotly contended Minnesota Senate race. It's only cost a couple of million dollars in legal fees, and a couple of months of the legislative calendar, but Minnesota now has her second senator. Republican Norm Coleman conceded his seat to a guy with almost zero political experience, who used to write for SNL.... and that's.... ok.

This victory further slides the legislative balance of power to the left with yet another pot-smoking, hackey-sacking, liberal Senator going to Washington, ready to rubberstamp Barack Obama's hippie, communist, secret Muslim agenda.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Neda Agha-Soltan

Recently, Iran held presidential elections, and, let's just say things didn't go so well. Rumors of corruption ran rampant, and the people took to the streets. The Ayatollah and the Guardian Council promised to look into these claims of injustice. And after a few days of investigating, determined there very well may have been something sketchy going on. The rulers of Iran also determined, however, that its citizens should shut up about it already, and quit with all the protesting.

But of course, this did not happen. The people took to the streets and protested with renewed vigor and determination. Reports of violent clashes emerged from Iran, (thanks to Twitter of all things). And while the violence was condemned the world over, it took on an entirely more personal tone when the world heard the story of Neda Agha-Soltan.

Neda Agha-Soltan, 27, studied Islamic philosophy at Azad University, and studied singing privately. Prior to the election, Neda was not considered very political. She was engaged to be married. But in the face of the recent election, she herself took to the streets to protest. At around 6 p.m. she began to walk towards Kargar Avenue in Tehran. While observing the mass protests she was allegedly targeted and shot in the chest by plain-clothes Basij paramilitaries.

It's important to know that Neda was not the first protest-related death in Iran in the last couple of days. What sets Neda's story apart is that her death was caught on video. And her death, thanks to social networking sites such as YouTube and Twitter, was broadcast and seen all around the world, almost instantly. It's amazing that a futile time waste of a website like Twitter could actually be making a difference in the world. But it is.

And now with a quick search on Google you too can watch this young woman's grizzly demise. You too can see the struggle of the Iranian people played out on this young woman's dying face. You too can watch her eyes look to the camera one last time, begging someone, anyone to take notice, to take action, and then in a moment, expire. You too can witness martyrdom in action.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Ruthless tyrant and aspiring filmmaker, Kim Jong Il apparently isn't getting enough attention up there in Pyongyang. And as any emotionally stunted moron with a nuclear arsenal and an inferiority complex would do, he's promised to annihilate the United States next week on the 4th of July.

Here's the story. The Koreans are rumored to be shipping arms to Myanmar. But because of the underground nuclear tests the rogue state conducted earlier in the year, they are now subject to sanctions. The ship in question, Kang Nam, is being trailed by a Navy destroyer, the USS John McCain (wait - really?). If the ship is boarded, the North Koreans will view this is an act of war. "If the U.S. imperialists start another war, the army and people of Korea will ... wipe out the aggressors on the globe once and for all," the official Korean Central News Agency said.

The word is that Kim wants to nuke Hawaii on the 4th of July, possibly because it's his dad's birthday, or because of the significance of the holiday here, or maybe because Barack is from Hawaii. But the joke's on you, Kim. Barack Obama's a secret Muslim who isn't even from America. Still, as a precautionary measure, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has sent ships out to the Pacific just in case Kim Jong Il does in fact have a death wish.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Our Bad!

Yesterday, the United States Senate, acting about 400 years too late, formally apologized to African Americans for slavery and Jim Crow. Maybe, they realized that the Obama guy was black, or maybe someone told them that the very chamber they were sitting and legislating in was built by slaves. But in any event, Congress took a look at the history of forced capture, indentured service, cultural genocide, sexual perversions, selective breeding techniques, torture, lynching, segregation, and hell maybe even those mean-ass dogs they used to use in the 50s and 60s, and sheepishly said, "we're sorry."

Maybe next we could acknowledge that utilizing a free labor force for 300 years was what gave us that "American ingenuity" we hear about all the time. Maybe we can stop deluding ourselves into thinking that "can-do" spirit is anything more than not paying dudes to toil in the fields for a couple of centuries. Hell, maybe we could even stop calling Elvis the King of Rock and Roll, and thank blacks for creating our nation's signature art form.

Oh hey, and this is crazy, but what if we kept going on this whole tip. We could apologize to the Chinese for forcing them to make our railroads. We could apologize to Mexico for grabbing half of their country, and then acting pissed when they try to cross the border back in.

We could even apologize to the Native Americans for that whole systematic, continent-wide killing spree we went on at their expense.... Nah! I'm just kidding. Fuck those guys! Am I right?

And Iran... Iran's So Far Away

Last week, Iran held national elections with newcomer Mir Hossein Mousavi taking on incumbent funny man Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Ahmadinejad defeated Mousavi amid outcries of scandal and wrongdoing. Critics point to the fact that Mousavi didn't even carry his own home town, and that Ahmadinejad got more votes this time than he did in the last election, despite this being a hotly contested battle. And one prominent website in Iran purports that some 10 million votes were missing national identification numbers.

In the days since the election, Mousavi's supporters, feeling disenfranchised and cheated, have taken to the streets in what seems to be verging on the edge of anarchy. Ahmadinejad claims this is a product of the Western media ginning up trouble as usual. And hell, that could be true. But there certainly seem to be a lot of people in those pictures.

Oh and here's the other thing. These protests are illegal in Iran. It is suspected that as many as 8 people have died in the aftermath of the election. And what's really crazy is that even with 8 dead, the government has not really even begun to crack down on the protests. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the guy who actually runs the country, has for the most part turned a blind eye to the protest while he "reviewed" the election results.

That was until today. In his first public response to days of protests, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, sternly warned the protesters to stay off the streets and denied opposition claims that last week’s disputed election was rigged, praising the ballot as an "epic moment that became a historic moment." He went on to say, that the opposition leaders would be "held responsible for chaos."

Hey, good for you, Iran! You showed a glimmer of democratic reform and then let old beardo Khamenei stomp it out. You had a moment to defy the world's perceptions of you and instead crumbled under the weight of your own stereotype. Oh and another thing, Iran. Don't give us a hard time for meddling, ok? If anybody knows a thing or two about religious fanatics stealing elections, it's us, ok?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


With the retirement of David Souter, Barack Obama has appointed Sonia Sotomayor to replace him on the bench. If confirmed, Sotomayor would be only the third women on the high court, and the first Latino. Her legal career aside, Sotomayor's life tells an exceptional story, growing up in a Bronx housing project without a father. And apparently, she's also a racist.

That is according to Newt Gingrich, who took this quote and deemed the judge unfit for confirmation: "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life." This very well could be a racist comment. If a white man made this statement in reverse, as Gingrich pointed out via Twitter, they would probably face a public uproar. Gingrich himself withdrew his comments, ceding no doubt to the fact that a woman with no father who grew up in the ghetto might have a perspective that a rich, white guy may not. In any event, someone should tell Sotomayor that SCOTUS is almost entirely made up of these "white males." She might have some explaining to do.

And in a, quite literally, breaking development, Sotomayor broke her ankle last week in an airport. This may appear to be an isolated incident, but to the shrewd political observer this is just another calculating move by Barack Obama, who clearly arranged for the "accident" just weeks before her nomination goes to the Hill. Some in Congress might deny the confirmation of America's first Latina justice. But NOBODY would deny a woman in crutches. Well played, Barry. Well played.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Anniversaries: Tienanmen

Twenty years ago today, a young man made history by standing in front of an on-coming tank in Tienanmen Square. The tank tried to go around him and he stepped in front of it again. This moment remains as the quintessential image of a horrific chapter in China's recent history, where (at least) hundreds lost their lives, and democracy took a giant step backwards. Nobody knows what happened to the kid in front of the tank, but the image remains.

And so today, on the 20 year anniversary of this horrible day, China shut down a number of websites, including, Twitter, Hotmail and Flickr. (YouTube has been down since March.) And in an act of political suppression that would make Mary Poppins proud, they've dispatched a number of undercover police officers... with umbrellas. No. Seriously. Umbrellas. Whenever a foreign reporter tries to broadcast from the square today, a group of umbrella-wielding goons block out the shot.

Say what you want about the bullshit ways America commemorates 9/11, but at least we are allowed to talk about it. At least we can discuss and dissent and speculate. The next time you think this government is fascist, go ahead over to China's google.cn and type in Tiananmen Massacre. Sure, you get a few hits, but nothing even remotely resembling that awful event, or for that matter, the truth.

When Barry Was in Egypt Land

This morning at the University of Cairo, President Obama addressed the Muslim world. He took the stage, praised the accomplishments of Islamic culture and looked to bridge their divide with the West. He mentioned his own connections to Islam, (as in he secretly is one!!!). Obama pointed out that while not all Muslims can be viewed the same, neither can all Americans. What's really crazy about this speech was how Obama never used the word "terror" or "evil" or the phrase "with us or against us." He talked like an adult speaking to other adults.

Obama even talked about the pesky little issue of Israel, and the two-nation state, all the while deploring violence as a means toward "moral authority." He insisted that the United States would say in public what it said in private, finally bringing to light the notion that most in Washington empathize with the Palestinian plight, but fear the political backlash of saying so publicly. Obama even spoke about Iran, tossing out a big old "my bad" for the 1953 coup. The guy even quoted the Ko'ran.

But what made this a landmark speech for the Obama administration was because he spoke calmly, maturely, rationally and intelligently. What remains to be seen is how this speech will be received by the citizens of the region. What goes without saying is that he couldn't have done any worse than the last guy, and this is certainly a step in the right direction.