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How NOT to win friends and influence people

I don’t know how much attention His Barackness pays to opinion polls, surveys and the like…but if I were in his shoes, I’d realize that this is very much an election year, and this is very much an election issue:

The Obama administration’s increasing use of unmanned drone strikes to kill terror suspects is widely opposed around the world, according to a Pew Research Center survey on the U.S. image abroad.

In 17 out of 21 countries surveyed, more than half of the people disapproved of U.S. drone attacks targeting extremist leaders and groups in nations such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, Pew said Wednesday.

But in the United States, a majority, or 62 per cent, approved the drone campaign.

“There remains a widespread perception that the U.S. acts unilaterally and does not consider the interests of other countries,” the study authors said, especially in predominantly Muslim nations, where American anti-terrorism efforts are “still widely unpopular.”

Well, DUH. What was anyone expecting of the international community? Nobody wants to be on the receiving end of a drone strike, even if it IS meant to take out that guy next door, the one you didn’t realize was a terrorist. (Or just branded as such by an imperialistic US administration that brooks no opposition in countries where pipelines and resource control are at stake. Same difference.)

I guess international perceptions of the pre-emptive Nobel Peace Prize winner are now officially in the toilet. Hearts and minds = piss and shit.

‘Course, I guess it would matter more to the POTUS if this were a “real” war, and his opponent were an anti-war socialist type who hauled out all the collateral damage for the benighted folk of the Fruited Plain to see, like it was back in the days when bloody awful things still received nightly coverage on the news, soldiers were fragging their superiors, and Dan Rather was still a real journalist. This could so easily have turned into another Vietnam, if only drones were shown in their true colors. And if only there were real anti-war candidates still to be found.

Good thing for Hopey, then, that his only real challenger is Mittens, who is even more rabidly pro-war. And who no doubt is counting on 62% of the Amurrican Sheeple remaining this fucking stupid about the rest of the world.

And good thing for the Military-Industrial Complex that it owns the media outright, and has both parties beholden to it. That explains the ridiculous ignorance of that 62%. After all, all they ever hear is that drone strikes are “surgical” and that the War on Terra is “working” — instead of the awful truth, which is that drones can and do go astray, and the world is only turning more against the US, with good cause. And that the war will never be won, which will only mean more “terrorists” to send the robo-bombers after. And more insane profits for the MIC.

In other words, yay drones.

Clip ‘n’ Save: A portable Mitt Romney debunker

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Why is this hottie smiling?

Heh…maybe a better question to ask is Why wouldn’t he be? After all, with approval ratings like these…

The approval ratings for the governance and credibility of the president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, surpassed 80 percent in Quito and Guayaquil. Five years into his rule, the consulting firm Perfiles de Opinión, indicates that the leader has historic levels of acceptance.

The study, cited by state news agency Andes and taken on April 29 in Quito and Guayaquil, shows 83 and 82 approval ratings for Correa, respectively. The president took power on January 15, 2007.

In an interview with Ecuadorinmediato Radio, Perfiles director Paulina Recalde also revealed that the question “Do you find Correa credible?” received a “yes” response of 68 percent in Guayquil and 67 percent in Quito.

The third question of the survey asked respondents for their impression of the leader. 76 percent replied “good”, 21 percent “bad” and 3 percent did not respond.

Recalde considers these figures to be exceptionally high. “I don’t believe we could register a leader with such positive numbers in the entire democratic history of the country,” she says, adding that since December of last year these numbers have remained very stable.

The analyst added that Correa “benefited” from the latest mobilizations of opposition organizations.

Translation mine.

And the real kicker? Guayaquil is supposedly an anti-Correa stronghold, full of oligarchs and angry, angry haters. Yet he gets 82% approval there, and even slightly higher credibility ratings than in the “pro-Correa” capital city of Quito. Go figure!

For all the lamestream media up here trying to make out like he’s been bad for the country and should be ousted and look at the “police rebellion”! and blah blah blabbity blah blah, Rafael Correa sure has ratings to kill for. (Trust me, Stevie the Spiteful and His Barackness would, and so far neither has gotten anything close to them.)

Ecuador is politically stable for the first time in living memory, it’s improving economically a lot as well, and it loves its rebellious, super-smart president. He’s been good for the country overall, even the so-called opposition strongholds. And everything they’ve tried to do to hurt him has ended up backfiring in their faces.

And now you know why he’s smiling.

Imagine if this happened in Venezuela…

Where is the IAP(O)A on this one, I wonder?

When President Obama addressed the American Society of News Editors convention last month, the real news was what didn’t happen. The watchdogs didn’t bark. No discouraging word from the gathering of 1,000 of the country’s top news people, facing a president whose administration has led a vigorous attack on journalism’s most indispensable asset — its sources.

Obama took office pledging tolerance and even support for whistleblowers, but instead is prosecuting them with a zeal that’s historically unprecedented. His Justice Department has conducted six prosecutions over leaks of classified information to reporters. Five involve the Espionage Act, a powerful law that had previously been used only four times since it was enacted in 1917 to prosecute spies.

Whoa, that’s harsh. But wait! They go into actual cases too:

Some spies. We’re no longer in the era of Aldrich Ames, Robert Hanssen or Kim Philby, infamous Cold War turncoats.

Instead, there’s Thomas Drake, a career official of the National Security Agency, who faced 35 years in prison for telling a Baltimore Sun reporter about what The New York Times called “a potential billion-dollar computer boondoggle.” At stake was bureaucratic embarrassment, not national security. (The case against Drake collapsed last summer.)

Then there’s Shamai Leibowitz, a translator for the FBI, who believed he had intercepted evidence of illegal influence-peddling by the Israeli embassy. When his boss wouldn’t act, he leaked transcripts to a blogger. He got 20 months.

Ex-CIA agent John Kiriakou was indicted in January for allegedly identifying a Guantánamo interrogator (who was not working undercover;) Stephen Kim, a State Department analyst, allegedly told a reporter for Fox News — wait for it — that the U.S. was worried North Korea might respond to new U.N. sanctions by testing another A-bomb; and Jeffrey Sterling, who allegedly disclosed a botched CIA operation in Iran that was described in a 2006 book by a Times reporter.

And there’s the biggest case, the court martial of Bradley Manning, the Army private accused of engineering the mammoth dumps of U.S. military and diplomatic data that Wikileaks, the online whistleblower network, turned over to leading newspapers in 2010 and 2011.

The administration seems undeterred by the scanty evidence that any of these defendants was out to hurt the country, a mainstay ingredient of espionage, and the Manning judge has even warned prosecutors they must show he believed he was “aiding the enemy” or she would toss the most serious charge against him.

The public is generally unaware of how essential nominally classified information is to coverage of diplomatic and strategic news. As Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists’ government secrecy project, put it: “The administration’s aggressive pursuit of leaks represents a challenge to the practice of national security reporting, which depends on the availability of unauthorized sources if it is to produce something more than ‘authorized’ news.”

“Authorized” news? That sounds like CRAPAGANDA to me.

So why is this happening? Well,

What’s behind the administration’s fervor isn’t clear, but the news media have largely rolled over and yawned. A big reason is that prosecutors aren’t hassling reporters as they once did. Thanks to the post-9/11 explosion in government intercepts, electronic surveillance, and data capture of all imaginable kinds — the NSA is estimated to have intercepted 15-20 trillion communications in the past decade — the secrecy police have vast new ways to identify leakers.

So they no longer have to force journalists to expose confidential sources. As a national security representative told Lucy Dalglish, director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, “We’re not going to subpoena reporters in the future. We don’t need to. We know who you’re talking to.”

It doesn’t appear that the current prosecutions required the help of journalists, which helps explain the ASNE’s equanimity when President Obama met the press last month.

Press barons complacent when sources get pinched? Sounds like the sort of thing that could only happen under totalitarianism. So much for the idea that socialists and communists are the authoritarians. Capitalists, those guardians of free speech, have them beat nine ways till Friday for state censorship. And nowhere more so than the “freedom-loving” US of A!

But hey. It’s kind of nice to see my pet hate, the Miami Herald, reporting (a) REAL news, and (b) actual free-speech violations that occur continually on US soil. They should do that more often!

If only they were not also complicit in the “authorized news” game, that is.

Wiggle wiggle wiggle wiggle wiggle.

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Heroes for Today: Sandra Fluke, standing tall for women

Watch this video in its entirety and see if you can find anything about this bright young woman that would justify the Pigman, Rush Limbaugh, in calling her a slut simply for asking that her Catholic university provide birth control pills to female students who need them for medical reasons:

Notice, too, how the university president himself is backing her up on this one, despite any differences over school policy. Sweet, eh?

I do believe this won’t be the last we hear of Sandra Fluke. She has the makings of a real leader and advocate. In a few years’ time, she could be the next Sarah Weddington, especially if the war over birth control escalates. Given the stranglehold of the Reich-wingnuts on US politics, it probably will.

And yes, birth control pills are indeed good for many things besides contraception. I took them for 15 years to regulate my erratic, heavy and painful periods; others take them to clear up severe acne, relieve endometriosis, painful fibrocystic breast or uterine disease, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and a host of other hormonally-linked ailments. The Pill has even been recommended for Catholic nuns, to help prevent certain cancers that have been linked to nulliparity.

For the Pigman to call women (including NUNS!) sluts for trying to treat those conditions is beyond disgusting, and that’s why there’s a call to get his sorry ass off the air for good. I don’t know about you, but I’ve heard more than enough of his “feminazi” bluster and hypocritical bullshitting to last me a lifetime. Let’s stand with Sandra and get it done.

Keystone XL: Dirty oil barons threaten Obama

The clearest, most concise explanation yet of why the Keystone XL pipeline project, which would ferry dirty tar-sands oil from Alberta to Texas, must not proceed. Yes, all this talk of “ending our dependence on foreign oil” is a LIE. Shocking? Wait, it gets worse. The pipeline would also threaten a geologically unstable area that happens to sit over the US’s biggest aquifer (also one of the largest in the world), and make the water undrinkable for about 23 million US citizens. AND, on top of everything else, it’s a job killer…and would make gasoline more expensive, not less so, for those still unfortunate enough to be driving locally made gas-guzzlers. Because the US is still a net petroleum IMPORTER, and most of that imported oil comes From Canada and the Middle East. And because the oil from that pipeline, from Canada, would not be going to serve US needs, but would be converted into gasoline for the lucrative export market. (I had to laugh at the part about shipping it to South America. They have more than enough of their own in Ecuador, Venezuela, Argentina, Chile…and now, Brazil. All South American countries would be more than adequately served from South American oil, refined and supplied by state-run industries! What would they need Texas-shipped gasoline for? Even Mexico and Cuba have plenty for their own needs, and won’t have to rely on the US for that. And Cuba will have help from Venezuela in developing and refining its own offshore oil, so US corporations will be out in the cold there.)

Yes, folks, this is the “ethical” oil that Ezra Fucking Levant is shilling his putzy ass off for. Seems so very ethical now, doesn’t it?

Wait, it gets worse. Let’s go back to the oil-baron threat again. You think it’s nothing serious? It got one previous US president assassinated for daring to oppose the barons. And his vice-president and successor, who happened to be from Texas, and very much in the pockets of the oil barons himself, was a key suspect in his murder:

Pay special attention to the part about Clint Murchison Sr., the oil king with connections to LBJ, J. Edgar Hoover, and other shadowy figures of the Kennedy assassination. He was so intimate with them that they partied, and plotted JFK’s demise, at his Texas mansion. Was this where the order went out to kill Kennedy? Quite likely. Between them, the CIA, the Mafia, and the anti-Castro ex-Cubans, it was a perfect storm of colluding, and corrupting, interests!

And let’s not forget, Obama’s predecessor is a Connecticut Yankee from Texas. And yes, Dubya is himself deep in Big Oil’s pockets…STILL. As a wannabe oil baron himself, he was a bust, but as their patsy, he made out like a bandit both as governor and later, as a two-term unelected president.

Anyone who thinks Big Oil has clean hands, and isn’t above assassinating non-compliant leaders, really should watch The Men Who Killed Kennedy in its nine-episode entirety…and bear in mind that very little has changed in US politics since then. It will certainly put the enormous pressures on Obama in a powerful new light. And it will make clear why it is imperative for common citizens to oppose Big Oil and its inordinate influence on the politics of all North America. It is not an exaggeration to say that our entire democratic system is in grave danger from it.

Glass houses, Your Barackness.

Glass houses.

President Barack Obama’s sharp criticisms of Venezuela’s human rights record and its ties to Iran are heightening tensions with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who on Monday responded by calling Obama a “clown” and telling him to mind his own business.

Obama appeared to stiffen his stance toward Chavez in his remarks, which were published Monday by the Venezuelan newspaper El Universal. Some of Obama’s Republican opponents have also been strongly critical of Chavez, and analysts expect the Venezuelan president could become a popular target of criticism as American politicians feud over foreign policy ahead of next year’s U.S. presidential election.

While Washington has long criticized Chavez, Obama’s remarks were some of his hardest to date. He pointedly raised concerns about what he described as threats to democracy in Venezuela.

“We’re concerned about the government’s actions, which have restricted the universal rights of the Venezuelan people, threatened basic democratic values and failed to contribute to the security in the region,” Obama said in written responses to questions from the newspaper.

Of course, it’s important to consider the source here. El Luniversal is a virulently oppositionist newspaper. It’s backing a “unity table” of failed right-wing candidates. So of course it’s going to go fishing for nasty words from Obama to Chavecito. The embarrassing thing is, His Barackness obliged. And the ‘Cito gave him a prompt pantsing for it:

Chavez wasted little no time in responding. He said on state television, “Mr. Obama came out, attacking us, but that’s not out of the ordinary for us.”

The Venezuelan leader added, “Obama, take care of your own business, focus on governing your country, which you’ve turned into a disaster. Leave us alone.”

Touché! The US still has a major, Repug-corporatist-made recession to dig out of, and His Barackness has been rather slow off the mark to address that. Must be all that hopey-changey bipartisan bending-over and ankle-grabbing.

Meanwhile, in Venezuela, things are going nowhere but up, in spite of the supposed human-rights violations of Chavecito — which, you’ll note, are left deliberately vague by El Luni AND His Barackness. I’m sure there’s a reason for that, too.

And Chavecito has pegged a couple of things very accurately here: All this tough talk comes in a pre-election year. And oh yeah, another thing, too:

Chavez suggested Obama’s stances toward Venezuela are a campaign ploy.

“He’s looking for votes,” Chavez said. Addressing Obama directly, he added: “If I could be a candidate there in the United States, I’d sweep you away.”

Yep: It’s that hopey-changey thing. Chavecito has it for real; he doesn’t need to use it for a campaign slogan.

I bet he’d have no qualms about sending the Bush Crime Mafia to The Hague, either. Unlike His Barackness, the ‘Cito has already lived through one coup attempt, and he’s not afraid of another; he knows from experience that the people have his back. Which is why he can also laugh at the pro-putsch rhetoric coming out of Washington, and why his “I could sweep you” is not exactly an idle boast. Chavecito has already made a thorough fool of Dubya, and he won’t hesitate to do the same to any other US president who pushes his luck.

There are plenty of people in the US who admire that kind of cojones, and who are sick to death of the lack of it in their politicians. They would vote for him tomorrow if he ran there — and if their media could only give an accurate account of his record. Too bad that like the so-called journalists of El Luni, most of the US media are also hopeless hacks.

Who’s the buffoon now, eh?