Thursday, August 31, 2006

Olbermann on Rumsfeld

I just found this video on Crooks and Liars. It is Keith Olbermann, at his best, delivering a passionate and intelligent criticism of Rumsfeld’s speech of Tuesday night. It is absolutely brilliant – please watch it.

Doublespeak

So yesterday afternoon I was sitting at my desk, minding my own business, and flipping through the news. I came upon a story on yahoo about a speech that Donald “I am Satan” Rumsfeld had given the night before. Upon reading the story, I left my body. I simply had to, because the earth had started turning the wrong way and everything was suddenly upside down. I felt really floaty, and not in a nice way.

In his speech, Rumsfeld accused critics of the administration - opponents of the war in Iraq, liberty activists, people that are fond of our Constitution and want to preserve it – of supporting fascism. Those of us who are not with the “president” are foolishly trying to appease the Nazis of the 21st century. We are silly and we have been misled. We are suffering from a “kind of moral or intellectual confusion about who and what is right or wrong.”

I am having another out-of-body experience.

I did not hear or read Rumsfeld’s entire speech, but the bits I did see were pure examples of doublespeak.

It was a time when a certain amount of cynicism and moral confusion set in among Western democracies, when those who warned about a coming crisis -- the rise of fascism and Nazism -- they were ridiculed or ignored. Indeed, in the decades before World War Two, a great many argued that the fascist threat was exaggerated or that it was someone else's problem.

...some seem not to have learned history's lessons.

The irony nearly killed me.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Max's Problem

Frustration.


My problem, my frustration, comes from feelings of powerlessness and futility. I start my day off listening to The World Today on BBC World Service. Then I listen to the news on Radio Česko. The news is always bad and I always leave my house in a depressed state of mind.


I try to resist buying a newspaper on the way to work. I have just heard all the news and I don’t need to re-experience it. But if I don’t have a book or a magazine with me, I end up buying a paper anyway. What the hell, the magazines I read are full of bad news anyway, and I don’t read very much fiction anymore, so books are not much of an escape either.


Then I get to work and I am sitting on my fat arse in front of a computer all day so I can indulge my addiction to news through the medium of the internet. That is the worst, of course, because on the internet I am not limited to mainstream news. On the internet I can read the libertarian news and the anarchist news and understand that there are other people out there that realise what’s going on, but still it all keeps going on.


Today I found an article by Paul Craig Roberts called Can Anything Be Done? In the article, which I hope you will read for yourselves, Roberts describes being attacked (verbally, I mean) by readers because he doesn’t trust our government.


That is the whole thing for me. We were taught at school and in our homes and in our churches or synagogues that the US government was a good and honest government. And it seems that most Amerikans go on believing that throughout their whole lives. All I can say is, What the fuck?!! Can people really be that unbelievably stupid? Can people not find a way out of their childhood delusions? Well, Max, I say to myself now, you have the answers. The people in The Amerika really have been brainwashed to that extent. And that is why some days I have no hope at all.


The closing line of Roberts’ article: “Government got free of our control when we forgot the teaching of our Founding Fathers that government is always the greatest threat to our liberty.” And there you have it.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

America: Freedom to Fascism

I hope this is another one of those things that I heard of later only because I am overseas. I hope every person in The Amerika already knows about Aaron Russo’s film America: Freedom to Fascism. I hope it has been or will be playing in mainstream cinemas all over the country, and then the world. If you hadn’t heard of the film before now, please keep reading and please make sure you see the film.


Aaron Russo is a mainstream Hollywood producer. Wikipedia also lists him as a “Libertarian political figure and tax protestor.” Russo had initially set out to investigate whether or not there was a legal basis for the federal income tax, but a light bulb went off for him and he ended up going much further. He ended up tracking America’s descent into fascism.


“What is being sold to the American people today as ‘Americanism’ – if you peel off the label, you find so much similarity to what we were fighting against…communism, Nazism and fascism.” – G. Edward Griffin, author of Creature from Jekyll Island.


There is a lot in the film about illegal taxation and the Federal Reserve Bank. If you watch the trailers or the promotional video (links below), you will see everything I saw and some of it may surprise you.


One part of the video I found particularly enlightening, and terrifying, was a sample list of executive orders that presidents have created:


“President Bush has signed executive orders giving him sole authority to impose martial law, and suspend habeas corpus.


“This gives him dictatorial power over the people…with no checks and balances.


“Executive Order #11921
Provides that the President can declare a state of emergency that is not defined, and Congress cannot review the action for six months.


“Executive Order #10990
allows the government to take over all modes of transportation.


“Executive Order #10995
allows the government to seize and control the communication media.


“Executive Order #10997
allows the government to take over all electrical power, gas, petroleum, fuels and minerals.


“Executive Order #10998
allows the government to take over all food resources and farms.


“Executive Order #11002

Postmaster General to operate a national registration of all persons.


“Executive Order #11000
allows the government to mobilize civilians into work brigades under government supervision.”


I checked. All of the executive orders are real. Most of them, however, were signed long before Bush ever got into office.


Another issue Russo addresses is that of a national ID card, which legislation comes into effect in May 2008. I wrote about the Real ID Act last September. Russo goes further into the implications, that RFID chips could potentially be used to track all of our movements, all of our meetings and all of our spending.


“It is absolutely Orwellian – Big Brother looking over your shoulder at absolutely everything you do.” – Katherine Albrecht, author of Spy Chips.


Russo also touches on the confiscation of weapons in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. For anyone who did not see a problem with that, given the circumstances, please rethink the situation.


Amendment II to the Constitution says, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”


Do not forget the context in which the Bill of Rights was written. The purpose of the Second Amendment is to ensure that the American people can protect themselves first and foremost against the tyranny of our own government.


There is so much more, and all I have seen are the trailers and the promotional video.


America: Freedom to Fascism promotional video


America: Freedom to Fascism website and trailers



Special thanks to Saigon Dan for the scoop. I miss you.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Saturday, 4.30 a.m.

I had been out drinking and even dancing and had got home a little after 4. It must have been about 4.30 when I turned on my bedside light and scribbled this into my notebook:


Gretchen hanged herself on Thursday. She didn’t do it necessarily because she was unhappy. Maybe she simply didn’t want to live anymore. Those two things probably go together often, but they don’t have to. I am sure they can happen quite independently of each other.
I didn’t know Gretchen.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Max in Meltdown


I am having one of those days – no, one of those weeks. I haven’t been able to write, I’ve been sleeping a lot and I think I nearly became a bunny boiler yesterday.

I know exactly why I have been losing it – it is that recurring overwhelming feeling that the world has gone completely irretrievably mad and there is nothing I, or anyone, can do about it. It’s the feeling that, more than any other, makes me want to go out and drink a lot, find a man to bring home with me and then copulate with him for hours and hours and hours like there’s no tomorrow. Because that is exactly how I feel – like there is no tomorrow.

A local American girl hanged herself yesterday. I didn’t know her personally, but you hear about these things. Suicide doesn’t shock me anymore.

I met a lovely bloke last week. Here is how he stands up on the three basic requirements:

1. Single – I thought so, but now I’m not so sure. Hence why I nearly became a bunny boiler. The worst thing is that I think he might have mentioned a wife, but I don’t hear well on the phone. So it could be that he thinks I know he’s married, but I don’t know, or it could be that he is not married and I am just wacked, or…. I am going to have to straighten that out. Next week.

2. Heterosexual – Oh yes. Most definitely yes. Very nicely yes.

3. Of an appropriate age – I don’t know how old he is, but I would say yes, more or less.

Lovely Bloke knows about my blog. I never gave him the URL, but he knows that if he searches “Marcel Rimel” (wank-a-thon), he will find it. I suppose the worst thing that can happen is that he’ll read this, get some insight into my mindset, and run for his life. Hey ho. Maybe I should just send him the URL and get it over with.

But the thing that does it to me is reading the news and seeing in black and white (and colour) that the world really has turned upside down and nothing makes any sense any more. I can’t name everything that is wrong and there would be no point. We all live in the same world. Read your own internet news and develop your own despondency. Stop feeding off mine.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Bill O'Reilly Hates America, and I love Keith Olbermann

I have just seen a video clip from MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann from June 2006. Maybe some of you in The Amerika already know all about this, but it was new to me.


In the clip, Olbermann blasted Bill O’Reilly so beautifully that it nearly brought tears to my eyes. I stumbled upon the clip at www.ifilm.com, where it was titled Bill O’Reilly Hates America.


Olbermann was exposing O’Reilly, not for the first time, as a liar and an idiot. I love this sort of stuff. The topic was O’Reilly’s fictional account of what had happened in the Belgian village of Malmedy in December 1944.


On two different occasions, October 2005 and May 2006, O’Reilly had presented a shockingly twisted version of what had transpired in Malmedy. O’Reilly claimed that the massacre in Malmedy had been perpetrated by American troops on German troops that had surrendered. In fact, the massacre happened exactly the other way round.


O’Reilly’s version was his lame attempt at defending Abu Ghraib (the October 2005 broadcast) and Haditha (the May 2006 broadcast), by claiming that atrocities were a time-honoured tradition for American troops in overseas wars.


Olbermann said he would be prepared to accept O’Reilly’s story, if it had been told only once, as the mistake of an ignorant man. But the second telling of the warped narrative had infuriated him.


The Countdown researchers made sure they got the facts straight for Olbermann. This is what really happened.


It was during the Battle of the Bulge, one week before Christmas 1944. Near Malmedy, in Liège, a French area of Belgium, Battery B of the 285th Field Artillery Observation Battalion encountered a German Panzer-SS division. The Americans were in jeeps and trucks, the Germans in tanks.


The battle was short. 11 Americans were killed in the battle, 2 were killed fleeing and 7 escaped. 6 Americans were taken as POWs. Another 113 Americans surrendered, and within 15 minutes, the SS had shot them all.


In January 1945, when the Allies took control of the site of the massacre, 84 bodies were recovered. Many of them had been shot in the head at close range, some of them still had their hands held up above their heads.


When O’Reilly was called on his glaring and disgusting error, even by some of his own viewers, he claimed that he had been referring to American reprisals for Malmedy, which are alleged to have indeed taken place. Fox News, in the meantime, doctored their transcripts of the programmes so that they read “Normandy” instead of “Malmedy”. Pathetic attempts at covering filthy tracks.


It’s a good clip if you enjoy seeing Bill O’Reilly taken down by a man of substantially greater integrity and intelligence.


Additional source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malmedy_massacre

Monday, August 14, 2006

Literary Meme



Thanks to Cousin Sara J, I have to do this chain literary confession. What the hell, it looks like it might be fun.


One book that changed your life: Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. I am not really sure how it changed my life, but discovering Kurt Vonnegut as a teenager seemed incredibly important. I have read and reread all of his books, especially the earlier ones. As a teenager (me not him), his style greatly influenced my own writing. And I had the opportunity to hear him speak once in Berkeley – he speaks just as he writes and it was an amazing evening.

One book you've read more than once: Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. My favourite book of all time. I think it illustrates better than any other book I have read the absurdity of the world we live in. I can’t even count how many times I have read Catch-22 or how many copies I have given away. One interesting observation about the book – Brits don’t get it. All the Americans I have ever talked to about Catch-22 have only praise for the book. Almost all the limeys I have ever talked to about Catch-22 say that they didn’t like it. I have also heard Joseph Heller speak – it was at a book fair in Prague not too long before he died. I got to hear everything he said twice because he spoke in English and his words were interpreted into Czech.

One book you would want on a desert island: Everyone else seems to be picking complete works – fair enough. After all, you never know how long you will be stuck on that desert island. I would want the complete works of F. Scott Fitzgerald. I discovered The Great Gatsby in my mother’s library long before I was old enough to understand it, but I loved the story anyway. I love Fitzgerald’s novels and his short stories, and I actually do own a complete collection - it is currently taking up an entire shelf in my mom’s library in LA.

One book that made you laugh: How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World by Francis Wheen. I refer you to my book report of last October.

One book that made you cry: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. Like my lovely Aunt Cookie, I love Russian literature. The irony in this choice of book for me is that my ex-husband also committed suicide by throwing himself under a train.

One book you wish you had written: The Trial by Franz Kafka. In fact, I almost wish I were Franz Kafka. Not really, because he was an uptight and unhappy man, but to be able to write like him… And I do have an earlier post related to The Trial. I love Kafka and have read all of his fiction – even a few of his shortest stories in German. I know where he lived, where he worked, where he hung out and I have visited his grave. Repeatedly. There is a lot of Kafka’s world still in Prague – both physically and metaphysically. I like that.

One book you wish had never been written: The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. I have not read it, I have not seen the film, and I hope the hype is just about over and I never have to hear anyone talking about it again. I might have agreed with Aunt Cookie but, frankly, there is a better chance that I will someday read Mein Kampf than that I will ever read Dan Brown’s book.


One book you are currently reading: Untold Stories by Alan Bennett, The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, and Kafka: The Decisive Years by Reiner Stach. I realise that is three books, but they are what I am currently reading.

One book you have been meaning to read: The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon. It is sitting on my shelf, my bookmark is at page 60 in the 800-page abridged version, and someday I will get back to it.

Tag five people: Ludovic, Knottyboy, Evil Pig, Miss Mickey, Last Muse

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

S.2453

What with wars in the Middle East, contested elections in Mexico, volcanoes erupting and the imminent threat of a bird flu pandemic... not to mention phone taps in Clarence House, global warming and 9-11 movies...

Do you have any idea what is going on in the great halls of the US capitol?

Here’s one thing: S.2453, the National Security Surveillance Act of 2006, brought to you by VP Dick Cheney and Senator Arlen Specter. It was introduced in the Senate in March of this year.

If S.2453 becomes law, what it will effectively do is make FISA and the Fourth Amendment optional for the “president”. That is not an exaggeration. The government would be able to spy on and search our homes and businesses without warrants or any sort of judicial control. Can you say data-mining? We would not be able to challenge any act of government spying before an independent court. Call it a war on terror, call it what you want. It still looks like good old-fashioned fascism to me.

Here’s another thing: HR 5825, the Electronic Surveillance Modernization Act, introduced last month by 10 representatives in the House. Under HR 5825, in the event of a terrorist attack in The America, FISA and the Fourth Amendment would cease to exist for a period of 45 days, which period could be renewed for an additional 45 days – over and over and over again. Ad infinitum, in fact.

These bills are a serious problem. They represent direct attacks on our Constitution and our liberty – concepts that Americans once held dear, and some of us still do. Who the fuck elected these morons?!!

For more information on the bills and how to take action, please click on the “Stop the Surveillance Bills” button in the sidebar.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Hezbollah TV


I had not known that Hezbollah had their own tv station. I had never thought about it. Then this morning, reading the paper on my way to work, I came across an article on the opinion page entitled “Mediální bomba Hizballáhu” – Hezbollah’s Media Bomb. I thought it was interesting so I have translated the article in order to share it.*

The article is by Pavel Kohout and it appeared in today’s Mladá fronta Dnes.

Hezbollah’s Media Bomb

The terrorist organisation Hezbollah was still relatively unknown in the 1980s, but now it stirs world events. Hezbollah owes its rise to power not only to the support of the Syrian and Iranian governments, but also to the power of the media. In that respect, Hezbollah also received help from western technology and western finance.

In 1991, Hezbollah took advantage of the legislative chaos in Lebanon and started pirate television broadcasts. The organisation later obtained a licence and the television station Al Manar became a legal civil communications medium. In the year 2000, Al Manar began satellite broadcasts worldwide in Arabic, English and French.

If the word “islamo-fascism” existed, propaganda station Al Manar would fit the definition perfectly. In 2001, they broke the “news” about the alleged Jewish conspiracy that had organised the attacks of September 11th. Not even Goebbels could have thought up the plot of the television serial “Zahara’s Blue Eyes” in which evil Jews kidnap Palestinian children and take their organs for transplant; the protagonist Zahara in this way loses her eyes. Another serial “Al Shahat” – The Diaspora – was based on that anti-Semitic classic The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Al Manar’s broadcasts were always full of advertisements for the armed elements of Hezbollah. Animated souls of suicide bombers came to rest amongst rose-coloured clouds in blue heavens. Al Manar also broadcasted interviews with the mothers of real suicide bombers. A woman in a black chador would talk about the heroism of her son who had blown himself up on an Israeli bus. “In comparison with others, I have sacrificed nothing. Yes, I have sacrificed a son, but other mothers have sacrificed two or three. I hope that more of my sons will become martyrs,” she declares to the camera. She is so overcome with happiness that her eyes are flowing with tears.

A western viewer might doubt that the tears are really tears of joy, but the moderator does not allow anyone to doubt. At another time, Al Manar broadcasted film of the suicide bomber Salah Ghandour in action and the subsequent interview with his widow, the mother of three small children. What joy, what happiness! And of course many new recruits for “martyr operations”.

This terrorist propaganda was until not long ago disseminated, entirely legally, through western media outlets. For example, the television company Globecast (a subsidiary of France Telecom) broadcasted Al Manar programmes to North America through transmitters belonging to the Bermudan company Intelsat. (Intelsat’s management is in Washington.) European company Eutelsat, with its headquarters in Paris, broadcasted to Europe and North Africa. The company New Skies Satellites, registered in the US but operating from The Hague in the Netherlands, also broadcasted Al Manar signals. The firm Asiasat, registered in Bermuda and owned by the Luxembourg company SES, broadcasted Al Manar’s programmes to Asia. Hispasat broadcasted to South America, its main shareholder is Eutelsat.

In short, capital and technology from Europe and the USA helped propagate terrorism without limitation for several years. Not until the new year of 2004-2005 were the broadcasts of Al Manar prohibited in the USA, Canadia, Australia and all of the EU countries. There is a question as to whether the prohibition is enforceable by law. Protests have been called by left-orientated human rights groups. It is simply not acceptable to restrict the freedom of expression. It is simply not acceptable to impose censorship on private media companies. But the human rights of the victims of terrorism did not interest those who were fighting for freedom of expression.

Nevertheless, in the end, the Al Manar broadcasts were markedly restricted. Western media’s main reason for breaking with Al Manar was probably not the official prohibition, but rather privatisation. The shareholders of Intelsat and Eutelsat did not want terrorism on their airwaves. Not all capitalists are willing to sell ropes that in the end may hang them.


* Disclaimer – I have warned you before that I am not a talented translator. Read at your own peril.

Monday, August 07, 2006

BBC blows (so to speak)

Today I was reading about Google wi-fi on the BBC News website when I came across an editing error that made me laugh out loud.

“And Mountain View isn't the first of its kind. In 59 other regions in the US, cities and companies have built similar networks, both fee and free-based, according to a research organization called Muni Wireless.”

Thanks for the giggle, BBC.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/5251646.stm

Saturday, August 05, 2006

When Max loves her job

This is an example of things I am asked for at work that just make my day. On Thursday, I got this email:

"Max, could you tell me, please, what is the correct common English word for these things? Thanks!"


Wank-a-thon

Another bright point yesterday was seeing this headline on www.seznam.cz: “Čech chce vyhrát maratón v masturbování” – Czech wants to win masturbation marathon.


I read the article (of course!) and learned that the marathon, a charity event, takes place in London today. Other information gleaned from the article:


- Winning depends on the length of time a competitor can masturbate and the number of orgasms.


-The current record, from The America, is 8 ½ hours.

- Competitors have the choice of masturbating in a single-sex room or in a mixed room.


- Any physical contact amongst competitors is strictly forbidden.


I googled and found this.


- The event is the UK’s first Masturbation Marathon, and it is modelled on an event that has been held in San Francisco for the past 5 years.


- In addition to the single-sex and co-ed rooms, there are solo booths.


- There will be naked invigilators to make sure no one cheats.


- Channel 4 is covering the event and will broadcast the programme at a later date.


Back to the Czech article…


Marcel Rimel, a 20-year old from Ostrava, is the sole Czech competitor.


“My aim is definitely to win, I can feel it. I still need to decide whether I am just going to compete in the compulsory discipline, that is duration of masturbation, or if I am also going to go for the number of orgasms. According to that decision, I will adjust my final ‘training’.”


Update - I found these 2 pertinent websites:

http://www.masturbate-a-thon.co.uk/

http://www.masturbate-a-thon.com/

Friday, August 04, 2006

Max’s Happy Morning

It’s Friday. Maybe that is why so many people seem to be in good spirits.

Last Friday the temperature got up to about 34ºC. That is 34ºC with high humidity and without air conditioning. The temperature right now is about 16ºC. Maybe that is why people’s moods have lifted.

I got up on time this morning, but I still left my house late. I’ve realised that most of the time it’s just because I don’t really want to leave my house at all. I got downstairs and a blast of air reminded me that it was cold out and that the coming rain would therefore be cold. I went back upstairs for a cardigan and an umbrella. I own two umbrellas in spite of the fact that I hate umbrellas, but I could not find either one.

The construction on the tram lines near my house has been under way for nearly 5 weeks. Still over 3 weeks to go. The middle of the main road of my part of Žižkov is an open pit. The tram rails have been dug up and everything under them is being repaired or replaced. The pavements have also been torn to pieces because there are electricity cables for the trams and who knows what else under them. There is not a lot of room to walk. But because of the construction, instead of turning the first corner and being at the tram stop, I have to walk about a kilometre to get to the next one. Sure, there are buses, but I prefer walking.

There were lots of old people out this morning and as I was walking towards the tram stop, they kept getting in my way. But I held my swearing under my breath and didn’t knock anyone over. I only sneered a little bit at the Jehovah’s Witness who stands glassy-eyed by my tram stop with her magazines.

I got off the tram in front of my bank. I walked in and saw the same young man that had helped me two days ago. I approached his desk and he looked up. I smiled and he smiled. He remembered me. Being foreign is sometimes an advantage. When I told him that I was again having problems with internet banking, that I had already fucked up the new code he had given me on Wednesday, he just smiled some more and said he would give me another new code. We talked about what had gone wrong and how to make sure nothing goes wrong this time. He was really sweet and didn’t treat me like I was stupid (which I probably would have done if we had traded shoes). I left the bank feeling good.

I decided to stop and get a coffee on my way to the office. There are not a lot of places to get take-away coffee in Prague, but a bakery near my work makes a decent latte. In Starbucks sizes, it would be “teeny-weeny”, but it’s normal over here. Every time I go to that particular bakery, it seems they have hired someone new who has not yet learned to use the register and who will probably never learn because her iq is only 32. But this time there were 3 of them at the counter, meaning a combined iq high enough to not only use the register, but also to make the coffee quickly. And all three of those girls smiled at me too.

There has been no rain.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

9-11 again

We have all talked about the 9-11 conspiracy over and over again. We have all talked to idiots who refuse to believe the irrefutable evidence that the events of 9-11 did not happen in the way our government has told us they did. I will not apologise for talking about 9-11 again.


All I have to say today is that you should look at this website: http://www.tyrannyalert.com/800.html.


Tyranny Alert has a 25-page report with lots of photographs (so even morons and those of us with attention disorders can read it). It is well-structured and well-organised and offers all of the evidence in one place. The report has citations and links to other sites. Please have a look – you will find it enlightening.


Max

Mel Gibson cartoons

Ed Stein, The Rocky Mountain News, Colorado



Ingrid Rice, BC, Canadia

For a complete collection of cartoons on the same theme, go to http://cagle.com/news/MelGibson/main.asp

“Live bombs in court create chaos” – BBC News

It seemed to make sense at the time.

Five men were arrested for possession of explosives in Bangladesh last December. They are allegedly members of Jamatul Mujahideen Bangladesh, an illegal Islamist organisation. The men are currently on trial in Dhaka.

Evidence was brought into the courtroom yesterday. Security force officer Captain Tareq Rahman Khan watched the public prosecutor open the box to show the explosives to the judge.

"I got the shock of my life," he was quoted as saying in the New Age newspaper.

Captain Khan immediately alerted the court to the fact that the bombs were live and the judge called a recess so the court could be evacuated.

The best part as reported by the BBC:

Officials blame police for not defusing the devices before coming to court. The police say they were not asked to.