Tag Archives: Obama

On Chelsea Manning, Whistleblowers, and Circuses

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President Obama just commuted Chelsea Manning’s sentence and she’ll be out in spring. This is good. What she did was heroic and she exposed a crime which the United States was committing. She was sentenced excessively compared to many whistleblowers before her, this despite essentially admitting to all charges and facing the consequences head on in a plea bargain without any real bargaining. As for Snowden and Assange, I tend to be more on the side of the United States when it comes to explaining the difference between Manning and the likes of Snowden and Assange. Chelsea Manning faced the consequences of her actions. As much as I appreciate what Snowden did, he eventually escaped to Russia. What he did was courageous, and he was definitely facing a world of torture if he stayed in the United States, but he didn’t really face the consequence of his actions. It would be very hard for the US Justice Department to pardon someone who flagrantly escaped justice. Maybe it’s the cruel Roman Catholic in me, but it’s very hard to make a saint out of someone, when they didn’t suffer martyrdom.

And as for Assange, he is currently not facing any charges from the United States. He is hiding in an embassy from rape charges. They could very well be drummed-up charges designed to silence the founder of Wikileaks or perhaps influence the media outlet, but the recent actions of Wikileaks already has me and other people suspecting that government powers have already influenced Wikileaks. (Notice how Hillary Clinton’s e-mails have essentially stopped leaking after the election?) His recent reneging of his offer to go to the US and face any charges once Chelsea Manning was set free also shows what type of character Assange is. I’m with Christopher Hitchens on Assange, he is an “unscrupulous megalomaniac with a political agenda.” Sure, some of the information from Wikileaks has been very important for freedom of the press, but for Wikileaks to somehow positions itself above all scrutiny and somehow act as the bastion of all truth-telling, it makes it all the more useful tool for political manipulation be it from Assange or other forces.

And really, God help the people victimized by powerful men, regardless of political affiliation. If the rape allegations against Assange happen to be true, imagine being one of the victims seeing Assange’s face on television. I have a problem with people facing accusations and later dealing with the stigma of being a rapist. This is why I never bought in to the Mattress Girl and her campaign. But I also have a problem with people skirting the justice system and not settling the matter at hand.

Anyway, I’m sure with Trump and his supporters warming up to Wikileaks and the Russians, Snowden and Assange have a better chance of getting pardons in a couple of days. That is, as long as Wikileaks doesn’t release any harmful information against the Trump administration. But if Wikileaks didn’t challenge the government and release any information on the Trump administration within four years, would they still be Wikileaks?

The Ringling Bros. Circus is closing down after over a century of being in business. This is all good news. It’s a bit sad that the circus is basically going extinct and along with it, many skills and artistic acts, but such is life. We’ve also moved on from vaudeville and burlesque acts. Many people are celebrating it because of the circus’ history of abusing animals, but I’m happier with the fact that with the circus dying, this means fewer children will be learning to be circus performers instead of focusing on their education. I know this is not really the case with the Ringling Bros., but I once saw a Chinese circus, and as amazing as many of the acts were, it was really depressing the number of children or young adults performing in the show. These kids should be at home studying, instead of risking their necks for a few dollars.

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New World

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After a few hours to absorb it, I’m still numb at the reality the world has woken up to. It’s not gonna be as catastrophic as many people have predicted, I’m sure, but it is sad that a person at his most vile was rewarded the highest office in the land. This is what the world has come to. I’m not an American. I’m a Canadian. I’m not even in North America at the moment. I arguably don’t have a dog in this fight. But as a person who likes to think he’s decent, who cares for others (women, minorities, disabled people, the poor), someone who values facts and science, and as an immigrant of color, the world is a darker place. I could go on and on, but let me just list a few lessons learned from the whole thing.

  1. Do not get too comfortable with progress. I believe this is the hubris of the Democratic Party. They believed that since Americans voted for Obama twice, the country is essentially progressive and it would reflect easily on the ballot. Instead of going full progressive with Sanders, they decided to go with what their donors want and ran with the weaker candidate. And they’re not the only ones who got too comfortable. People who decided to stay home, voted for third party candidates, or sat this out because their chosen candidate (Bernie) was not in the ballot basically cost the election due to their hubris. No one will ever remember your vote for Jill Stein. No one. Every social gain must be cherished and protected. And now it’s too late. The little good that Obamacare did will now almost certainly be taken away.
  2. Obama should’ve done more on his second term. Despite what the right wing would have people believe, he was never that progressive. He’s more like a traditional conservative. And unfortunately, now he will only be remembered as the first black president, nothing more. He should’ve aggressively pushed for progressive policies because no matter what, his opponents will always demonize him. And now he will be gone, he will be demonized and blamed for America’s future ills, and all of that with not much to show for.
  3. Politics is a team sport regardless of how you personally see it. I like Obama but there are several things I could criticize him about. I like our prime minister, but I don’t like it when he tries too hard to be viral on the Internet. I’m a feminist, but it annoys me when feminists don’t know the difference between feminism and misandry. This election saw people wedded to their teams regardless of their candidates’ flaws. “He’s unqualified, but…” I believe people supported their team not so much for the good of their cause but just so the other team would lose. This is why those Bernie Sanders supporters didn’t turn out for Hillary. They took their ball and left the playground. This is why so many people voted against their own interest. It’s for the good of the team.
  4. The media is the worst. The media has to change. So much stock has been put on Hillary’s e-mails but none on Trump’s taxes. Instead of ridiculing him and his cronies out of the building for their nonsensical and sometimes dangerous rhetoric, they got a seat at the table. For ratings, they gave the most unqualified man to run for office free advertising. And to be fair and balanced, they entertained the ideas of liars and science-deniers as if they have any value other than to appease viewers who would rather not be educated otherwise. People were not held accountable for their lies and their biases. Even when Trump’s supporters are attacking media personnel, the media would gladly ignore all of that for a few more clicks. Less than 24 hours of Trump’s win, People magazine is already running a puff piece on Trump’s “adorable” grandchildren, forgetting that one of their own reporters claims to have been assaulted by Trump in 2005. They also forget that so many equally adorable minority children right now are more insecure because Trump has vowed to send them all away.
  5. The media is the worst, but the Internet has made us all dumber. I’ve seen so many people who I would’ve assumed are intelligent reference stories and articles that are easily debunked. Because of the Internet, we now mostly go to Websites that confirm our beliefs. I’ve seen lawyers and other professionals cite the likes of Alex Jones, Roger Stone, and Dinesh D’Souza as if they’re not professional charlatans. Shouldn’t these people be more critical? What’s amusing to me though is that now that the conspiracy theorists and those suspicious of the government have taken over the government, who will they be suspicious of now? They run the place. Who will they rant and rave against when their man is the leader of the country? Will people stop stockpiling guns now?And speaking of the Internet making us all dumber, I won’t be going on Twitter as much. Arguing on Twitter has never changed anybody’s mind.
  6. The terrorists have won. Osama Bin Laden wanted to ruin America by crushing it from within, to destroy its fundamental values. Privacy rights are gone, first amendment rights are crippled, torture will definitely be making a comeback, America will be making more enemies with Muslim groups, freedom of the press will be attacked, US-grown hatred is at an upswing, etc. etc. White Americans, this not how you make friends and find peace.
  7. Distraction is king. Trump is the distraction candidate. He is the shiny object which gained networks ratings. Unfortunately in terms of politics, the easiest distraction to a domestic problem is foreign action. Bill Clinton was accused of this during his Lewinsky period. They said he bombed Iraq and Bosnia whenever he had problems domestically. Expect more violence with Trump. You can accuse Bill Clinton of being many things, but he was never inept. He was a smart and savvy politician. Donald Trump has failed in almost every business he had a hand in. Expect more problems with him, and expect more actions overseas.A part of me took comfort that the big schadenfreude I was expecting with a Hillary win has been delayed to a series of mini schadenfreudes in the span of four years. It would be four years of “I told you so.” Now that the US alt-right is basically running the US government, they would be the ones to blame for their own ineptitude. Unfortunately, these future disasters would have real and global consequences. And as decent person, in the face of tragedies, it’s very hard for me to relish schadenfreudes.
  8. Do not expect to be saved by the Democrats. They won’t. They are just as to blame for all of this. The Republicans played a great game of obstructionist politics during Obama’s presidency. Don’t expect the same from Democrats. They are weak and they only take action for their donors. Even Obama is guilty of this. One of the few exceptions is Senator Elizabeth Warren. She consistently stood for her principles and fought the banks. And the current president-elect has called her “Pocahontas.” The only way to get out of this quagmire is to take money out of politics. That was the crux of Bernie Sanders’ campaign and he is right. People in government spend more time calling for donors instead of actually governing. Taking money out of politics makes government officials more accountable to the people they actually represent.
  9. Polls are useless. Or at least the current model needs to be readjusted.
  10. Campaigns are filled with BS promises and the Trump campaign will be no exception. Obama promised many things but barely delivered. The last time I checked, Guantanamo is still up and running. The same thing will happen with Trump.
    • Black people will not find a friend in him. Years from now, I’m afraid Chicago will still be used as the go-to example for black communities mired in poverty and violence.
    • The wall will not be built. It simply won’t. The tall wall with underground protection and scanners all over the place is a figment of conservative imagination. Mexico will not pay for such a thing.
    • Hillary will not be prosecuted. She is now a neutered threat. Benghazi will always be referenced as an example of Democratic failing, but I believe they will no longer be too fixated on those e-mails.
    • There will be no Muslim bans. Life will be harder for Muslims and many minorities but there will be no such bans. This is impossible to implement and a nightmare for the US to defend in the face of its allies.
    • Obamacare will not be replaced with anything better. Obamacare is not particularly good, but it won’t be improved by the coming government.
    • TPP will be approved. Trump said he doesn’t want it, but everyone in the government does, even Hillary.
    • Women who get an abortion will not be punished. Abortion will be very difficult, but I just don’t see women going to jail for losing a child. Am I naïve? I like to think people are better than that.
    • Deportations will increase just like they have under Obama, but there won’t be families in camps nor storm troopers knocking down doors. Life would be harder for undocumented immigrants. There would be more hate crime for sure. But the US would still be taking advantage of them when it comes to labor and other things.
  11. People will make all sorts of excuses to say that the US is not bigoted. It is. Trump didn’t win due to economic insecurity or because of people’s need for a change in the political system. More white people with higher incomes voted for Trump than for Hillary. Wisconsin’s unemployment dropped under Obama and it still voted for Trump. People got richer under Obama. It’s not about the economy.And it’s not about the political system either. If it was, then you wouldn’t have the most useless long-toothed politicians still in office. You wouldn’t vote to give the Republicans the House and the Senate when they have basically stopped government functions for eight years. It’s not about the system.It’s about hatred and resentment. It’s about white men resenting being “cuckolded.” It’s about people being suspicious of blacks, Muslims, LGBTQ, etc. It’s about women not trusting other women as well. It’s about people being backwards, and Americans being called deplorable and embracing it.

Probably the hardest lesson to learn is that the bullies win. They do. It’s very hard not to learn that lesson after yesterday. Don’t get too comfortable in your high horse because the bullies win. It’s very hard not to learn that lesson just looking at the news throughout the world. Putin has bullied his country for years and will probably do so for more years to come. Assad is still in power. And now Trump, who has insulted every person who was not like him, is the leader of the free world. The likes of Martin Shkreli are not villains who will someday face justice because the world is right and good. No, the world does not care for your morals and decency and will reward the bully.

Take comfort in your morals and decency because that’s all you have for now. Hug your children and hope that they may never face a bully in their life. Because someday that bully… that bully who makes fun of their religion, their culture, their disability… that bully who grabs them by the pussy, might very well become their leader.

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Fear of the Same Thing

Vishnu

Last week was a good week for Canada. It’s been a decade since we had Harper and the conservatives, and it’s been decade of Canada becoming more and more like its southern neighbor. Canada’s become more polluted and more reliant on dirty energy exploration. Many of our protected lakes are no longer protected and Aboriginal communities continue to be marginalized. There were even talks about abolishing our healthcare system to something more similar to the one in the United States.

And while I didn’t vote this election (I was not allowed.) and would’ve been very happy should NDP have taken control of the government, I’m glad that Justin Trudeau won. It’s still very early and he has not done anything yet, but at least Harper is out of office. This is the same elated feeling back when Barrack Obama won in 2008. We didn’t know what Obama was about back then, but at least he was not George Bush. The anti-Bush sentiment was so overwhelming that Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize just for not being bush (A senseless gesture in my opinion, since Obama is just as pro-military as his predecessor.). I just hope that our new Prime Minister lives up to his promises and not be as empty and as pro-corporation as Barrack Obama.

Canadians woke up from their conservative slumber and decided to get their voices heard and try to affect some change in the country. It was a good week to feel hopeful, to be optimistic about our future. I’m very optimistic as well. But looking down south, it is a cautious optimism.

I notice Vice has been doing a lot of stories related to Winnipeg lately. I tend to get very suspicious when news aggregators keep on pushing people and stories to their viewers when they really don’t belong in the headlines (I’m looking at you, Huffington Post! Stop trying to get me to like Trevor Noah!). I don’t mind agenda in journalism, but it gets tiring and disheartening when the agenda is marketing. Anyway, the Winnipeg-related stories, while unusually frequent, seem to tell a common theme of the government marginalizing certain segments of the population. In Winnipeg’s case, it’s the Aboriginal population.

At least that’s what I previously thought. It’s the government that didn’t care. It’s the government that continues to ignore these poor communities. Then I send the videos to a few people. These people immediately got bored. These people weren’t that affected. It’s not the government; it’s a lot of Canadians, even the “progressive” ones.

This brings me back to the elections. And while Trudeau promises to make positive changes to conservative policies that have harmed the country, I wonder if that promise for a better future extends to all of Canada. A few weeks ago, Harper claimed that most cases of murdered and missing Aboriginal women are solved. This is typical of many people’s attitudes regarding Aboriginal issues, not just conservatives. “It has already been taken care of.”

Here’s hoping that the government, and most people who claim to be progressive, will be more concerned about Aboriginal issues.

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News Friday

A couple of things about the news:

Why are people surprised at the pope visiting a gay-hating bigot? The Catholic church, as progressive as the current pope has been on income inequality and environmental issues, is still a regressive institution when it comes to gender and women’s rights. The church still doesn’t like the idea of birth control and abortion (great idea for poor, overpopulated countries!). The priesthood is still a men’s club! The order of the world is still God > man > woman > children > animals.

A part of me tends to be nitpicky about the whole thing however. Growing up Catholic, I’m sensitive to the differences between Roman Catholics and Christians. Aside from Christians separating themselves from the Catholic Church hundreds of years ago, why would Kim Davis, a Oneness Pentecostal, be interested in seeing the pope and vice versa? Shouldn’t the two be arguing over the nature of the Holy Trinity and calling the other a heathen?

Also, why Kim Davis? Were the Duck Dynasty guys too busy for the Pope that week? What about the God Hates Fags people? At least I find them more logically consistent than Kim Davis. Like the Catholic church, they stand up against divorce , which really is the bigger threat against traditional marriages.

I can’t stand Obama when it comes to gun control. He rails against lawmakers and the NRA every time there’s a school shooting, speaking as if he has no power to makes changes. He’s the leader of the most powerful country in the planet! He can push his agenda if he wanted to. He certainly did with Obamacare. And he’s certainly trying with the Keystone pipeline. But when it comes to gun violence, police violence, income inequality, immigration, etc. it’s just one flower speech after another. Someone remind him that he’s not Maya Angelou. He’s the president. At least critics like Cornel West are willing to put some skin in the game and get themselves arrested in order to affect some change on important issues.

Why is the UN having talks against cyber violence? And why is cyber violence solely “against women and girls?” I understand things such as revenge porn is mostly aimed against women, but a lot of the vitriol on the Internet is aimed towards everyone. It’s not gender specific. I would even guess there’s more animosity against gays and lesbians on the Internet than there would be against women. In any case, the Internet, due to anonymity, makes it a breeding ground for general negativity. Women claiming that cyber violence does serious harm especially to women is a disservice to the strength of women and downplays the effect of cyber bullying on men.

Also, shouldn’t the UN be focusing more on REAL violence? This seems more like a sham show to support censorship in many countries.

Listening to some sweet Willie Nelson to calm down.

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