Saturday, December 20, 2008

European May '68?

That's what Sarkozy told his ministers: “We don’t want a European May ’68 in the middle of Christmas.”

You won't know it from the mainstream media, but the Greek riots are going global. This is some serious shit. It's not like they're just torching cars and throwing molotov cocktails: About a thousand--yes, you read that correctly--schools and university departments have been occupied along with television and radio stations and riots and solidarity demonstrations have been held in Hamburg, Dresden, Cologne, Bremen, London, Edinburgh, Leeds, Newcastle, Bristol, Cardiff, Birmingham, Paris, Bern, Barcelona, Toledo, Madrid, Copenhagen, New York, Melbourne, Ljubljana (Slovenia), St. Petersburg, Amsterdam, Oaxaca, Glasgow, Dublin, Malmo (Sweeden), as well as cities in Turkey, Croatia, Bulgaria, Poland, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Austria, New Zealand, Portugal, South Korea, and elsewhere.

And this is not just about the Alexandros Grigoropoulos. The protesters are calling themselves "the 600 Euro generation" because nobody can get a job that pays more than 600 Euros a month.

Obviously this news is huge. The fact that it has been completely blacked out in the mainstream media means that the powers that be know that there is a legitimate danger of the riots spreading to US cities. In this tense political and economic climate, what with unemployment skyrocketing past 10% (the 6% figure they give is total bullshit) and millions of jobs hovering over the abyss, the only way that they would be able to control mass riots in major cities would be to pull out the PATRIOT ACT and call everyone who hits the streets "terrorists" and throw them in jail.

Fasten your seat belts and get into crash position fellas. USS Titanic, meet Mr. Iceberg.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

2:11 Elbow to the Face.

Feast your eyes on this lovely spectacle.

Armenians and Greeks fighting over Jesus while the IDF tries to break it up. You couldn't make this up:

(YouTube has disabled embedding for this clip, interestingly enough).

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Letter from Gharabagh: About Hatspanian

The letter translated below was published in Haykakan Zhamanak on December 5th [can't link because their servers seem to be down (or to have been downed, as the case may be)]. That the letter is from Ardzakh is not an incidental fact; it is central, because Kocharyan and his entire clan and entourage are from Ardzakh, of course, and for someone from that region to call for Hatspanian to be set free is saying something.

Hatspanian, a veteran of the war, is on a hunger strike--in prison. He was put there ostensibly because he revealed a plot to assassinate Serzh Sargsyan during an interview with Haykakan Zhamanak (translation here), a supremely good move on his part because, had the plot succeeded, Kocharyan's hand would have strengthened immeasurably: How many innocent people would have wound up in jail as "terrorists" is anybody's guess. I think it is important for all those who would like to see SS and RK disappear to know that assassinations are as much a thing of the past as political prisoners are.

If you want to read Hatspanian's account of 3/1, go here (pt. 1) and here (pt. 2).

Letter from Gharabagh
Sergey Poghossian
Kashatagh region
Goghtanik village

It was evening in early November, and we were watching Haylur, when suddenly my wife turned to me with a dumbstruck expression on her face just as she heard mentioned the name of Sarkiss Hatspanian, the benefactor and guardian of our family and its many members. Could Paruyr Hairikyan really be that treacherous and inhuman to declare Hatspanian a persona non grata, criticize him, and condemn him as a traitor? [You] government leaders, when I embarked on the road through Lachin from Ashtarak along with my 15 hungry and bare children, which one of you asked, "Where are you taking those pitiful children?"

We used to live in one of the lost villages of Kashatagh up until the year 2000, pining for a handful of daily flour. It was then that along came Ara Manukian and twice provided assistance to the entire village. Alas, the previous administration began harassing him and prohibited his help. But then Gurgen Melikyan and Sarkiss Hatspanian arrived and with God's grace helped us and continue to help us to this day. It was, indeed, no one other than Sarkiss Hatspanian who bought me a car and paid for it himself, so that I could earn two pennies in these mountains and not be crushed under the responsibility of taking care of 15 children. Because of Hatspanian, Kashatagh became a birthplace for me, and I began living for the sake of my children and my homeland. I appeal to the government of the Republic of Armenia: I am a man past 50, five of my children have served in the army, and two of them will be serving in the future--Please, set my dear Sarkiss Hatspanian free and condemn me for having 15 children, instead.

New Blog: Seven on Trial

Here is the Guardian article on the Trial of the Seven, accused of trying to usurp power.

Here is A1+'s coverage of Ombudsman Armen Harutunian discussing the upcoming trial, including a video with a translated transcript. In classic Armenian fashion, Harutunian gets pissed-off at the reporters (at around minute 2) for constantly asking him to express an opinion about the trial, after he's just gotten done explaining that they have to go through the process and see what happens first.

And here is a new blog dedicated to covering the trial, called Seven on Trial. I wonder if Melissa Brown is the author.

My feeling is that they are going to be found guilty, then be given a pardon or reduced sentences: Sargsyan and Kocharyan need to showcase their "benevolence" while avoiding giving the west an excuse to scrutinize their administration. But we'll see what happens.

Friday, December 12, 2008

It's gonna rain.

They've gone and done it now. It is Thursday night, and news came in a few hours ago that the car company bailout, or "brigde loan," has failed to reach cloture, or quick conclusion. The Senators that are responsible for this did what they did in order to attract foreign companies to their states with cheap, unorganized labor. They want to kill off labor-union power and turn the US into a third-world, cheap-labor, coolie shit-hole. And, man, was that a mistake.

The American work force has gotten wind of what is going on, and these lawmakers are going to pay for their complacency in front of labor. The mood in the country has become increasingly frustrated over the last 4-5 months, ever since the crash, and especially after average Americans witnessed the perverse $700 billion bailout for gamblers in expensive suits with white powder around their nostrils. Now they are being asked to believe that in spite of all that money that materialized out of nowhere, a measely $15 billion isn't being made available to the car companies that hire millions of them. The contrast between white-collar treatment and blue-collar treatment is too stark for them to ignore.

And it is--not--the so-called "liberals" that are going to do something about this discrepancy. It has always been the case that the liberals are urban, educated white collar types who kind of, sort of know "what is really going on," i.e. knew that there was no connection between Iraq and AlQaida and that sort of thing, but they don't have what it takes to really do something about it. It is true that liberals will talk the talk over a latte, but when it comes down to walking the walk, in the street, with a raised fist, they would much rather retreat to whatever comfortable, television-show-imitating "life" that their superiors have bestowed upon them in exchange for their loyalty.

No, it isn't the liberals that are "waking up," it is the red-state, blue-collar workers that are feeling that righteous anger in their bellies right about now. Now they are looking at the same familiar faces on television making the same retarded wise-cracks, but they don't sound funny anymore. The talking heads look like liars, the politicians' utter corruption is out in the open, and the utter indifference of government to the people it is supposed to serve feels like cold steel rod where their spinal cord is supposed to be--the illusion is over. They are starting to think that maybe it is time to do somehting. After all, it is beginning to look like they have no choice. Now, if they do mobilize, and I think that they are getting ready to, they are going to jam their manual-labor-hardened collective fist so far up the right-wing's ass, they'll be able to tickle the right's pituitary gland.

Tomorrow, it will be Friday, December the 12th. Keep your ears open for the first cracks of thunder.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Democratic Demographic

This is the smartest and most important truth I've heard about American politics in more-or-less 20 years (before that I was too young to recognize a political truth if it was strung around my neck and tied to a galloping horse):
What the Democrats lost in their base [i.e. unions], they gained in the form of a generalized tolerance that seeped unconsciously into the brains of a whole generation. They became more of a demographic than a political party united by common interests.

[Emphasis mine.]
The quote is from an article by Matt Taibbi who, along with Mark Ames and John Dolan (who's probably the real "Gary Brechter" at the exile), is a writer whom the future is going to recognize as an H.L. Mencken or Hunter Thompson of our era. And that is saying something.

I don't know if Taibbi's been reading academic journals and putting what he learns together with what he sees on the campaign trail and his good-instincts-in-general, or what, but when I read that sentence I had a rare "Holy fucking shit, he's totally right" moment. If you know where to look, there are ninufars-growing-in-slimy-ponds-loads of good ideas on the internet. But rarely is there an idea that unravels the corset covering the luscious truth with a more skillful pull of the string than this, which I repeat:
[The Democrats] became more of a demographic than a political party united by common interests.
Well, here's a story.

About a week before the elections, my sister and I went phone-banking (basically, calling people up and convincing them to vote for a candidate) for Obama, here in California that everyone knew would, and did, go to Obama. We walked into Democratic Party headquarters with high hopes and expectations, but different ones: She was expecting the people there to be joyously positive, and I was expecting them to be bored. My reasoning was that Obama already had California, so why would Dem HQ people be excited about volunteers for Cali? I went in with the hope that the phone-banking that was being done was for other states, like Ohio, Florida, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, you know, states that mattered in the swing sense.

Turns out, she was right. There was a buzz in the air, like something really, really BIG was about to happen. I was wrong, but the buzz didn't intoxicate me enough to forget that phone-banking for Obama at that point was pointless. So I got into a minor tiff with the guy who was organizing what all the volunteers were doing. I asked him what the point about calling people in California to tell them to vote for Obama was, and he told me not to worry about it: Proposition 8 is what we could phone-bank about. Proposition 8 was the one about homosexuals marrying.

I don't really care about who marries whom, so I was on his side, but I wasn't about to devote several hours of my day that could be spent in enjoyable conversation with my sister to convincing traditional people that ass-fucking is an OK human activity. Have you ever tried convincing your grandmother that your gay cousin, as much as she loves him, isn't performing unnatural acts that sin against everything that is proper in the world? Fuck that. In any case, compared to the fate of the human race, gay marriage is an issue the size of a termite fart, in my humble opinion, and, in the end, it turns out that I was right and he was wrong: phone-banking about Prop 8 turned out to be totally futile (and I wish him the best of luck while he freezes his ass off in Utah trying to make Mormons gay-friendly).

So the conversation with the gay guy at that point was about to escalate into a real argument, with me yelling at him to give me something that is worthwhile to spend time on, and him telling me that Prop 8 is worth the time, when in walks an ugly-looking Hindu nerd with eyeglasses that fit on his head like a bra fits on the head of the Dalai Lama--right away I knew I had found the man.

I said to him that there was no point to phone-bank for Obama because he already had California and that, perhaps, the thing to do was to phone-bank for Russ Warner in Congressional district 26 who was running against a standard Republican body-snatched alien. And that is when the miracle happened: He took out the sheet that they had printed that had the script that phone-bankers were given to read, and he pointed to the last line: "And please remember to vote for Russ Warner for Congress." I looked at the area code, and sure enough it was the area code of district 26: I would be phone-banking for Russ Warner in district 26. Beatitude! End of potential buzz-killing argument.

So sis, who'd been watching with mild consternation my argument with the heathen get worked up to a potential fight--what with her 2-month old in the portable cradle next to us--breathed a sigh of relief, they gave us our phones and the list of people to call, and we sat down with our Obama-supporting fellow citizens to do some good in this world. My sister's strategy was different from mine. She would try to engage the people she called on a personal level; what I did was rifle through the talking points at break-neck speed, not caring what I ran over, getting the message across: "The election is in a few days, the place you are registered to vote is at such and such a place--Vote for Obama, Vote for Russ Warren." End of call.

We spent hours at that place, calling person after person, learning perhaps more than we needed to know about our fellow Obama supporters.

The people we called are a story unto themselves--a mix of really warm supporters and complete fucking assholes--but what struck me most were the people in our physical vicinity, the real people there at Democratic Headquarters. The first guy we noticed at HQ was the guy sitting next to my sister. He was an oldish, big, black guy who sat there for about 20 minutes at a time staring at the phone, pretending to be about to dial phone numbers. He very rarely dialed any numbers. What he would do was get up and go over to the snack table and grab himself something to eat. Then he would return to our table and start staring at the phone, again, while he munched on the snacks, pretending to be about to dial, but really dialing nobody but about 3-4 people the entire time. I wanted to get up and grab him by the collar and scream at his face, "Will you please stop acting like a fucking stereotype?"

Then there was the lady who came and sat down in front of us. I was, like I said, rifling away at the calls, one after the other, staring down at the phone and the list of number, but my sister was looking around her, checking out the atmosphere. I didn't give a shit about the atmosphere, or I did, marginally, as an anthropological curiosity, but sis was giving out signals that she would be willing to talk to other people. So she did. She got into a conversation with this woman who sat down in front of us, white woman in middle-age. As soon as she did, I got up and left to go smoke a cigarette--a still viable, if not rapidly dying, excuse to get out of a situation. I don't know what they talked about, but when I asked her about it afterwards, she mumbled something unmemorable.

The point is that on that phone-banking day there were many of "us," different people: A couple of Armos, a gay, a Hindu guy, a black guy, and a white woman. And, in spite of our differences, we felt somehow on the same side. And that is what the point behind this statement is:

[The Democrats] became more of a demographic than a political party united by common interests.

Something worth thinking about, something worth writing more about, but it's getting late.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Allright [sic]. Let's take a look at this picture again.

I've been mulling this over. There is something that really bothers me about this picture of Samantha Power.

She's sitting on a box with a HOLE in it. We've established that. What that means is that she is being offered up as a spectacle. And she sat down for the portrait willingly, unless there is a person with a gun in his in the background... And, if there is a woman sitting down for a portrait on a box with a hole in it, then we can say she is showing her beauty. And if she is showing her beauty, then let us judge it.


#1 Her arms are too long.

#2 Her back is curved. It should be erect.

#3 Her legs come down into her heels like a nerd's. A woman who wants to get a man stirring would sit in her heels--as if--she feels insecure. Samantha Power sits in her heels as if she's a Professor trying to pose for a photograph.

#4 The skirt is too long. It looks like someone threw a rag on her legs. It drops down around the ankles, laboriously saying nothing about her thighs--ah her marvelous thighs, just around where the ehem is. What it should do is be short enough to want to invite one's hands. What it does do is say, "Hey, why don't we go through these lawbooks for another 8 hours?"

#5 Right around where her arms join the shoulders, there is another sag. A lover might want to caress that curve that would be heavenly otherwise, but not in this case. It is sad and depressing, and it precipitously drops down into the sag of her entire body.

#6 Her entire posture is un-enticing. Her boobs are sagging, when they should be perking up, saying, "Hello, sunshine!"

Here is beauty wanting to beautiful:

Silly, but what man out there would not like to, erm, bring her to her senses?

UPDATE: Yo ka yok ya-he (with a yerkaratsman nshan).

Power and Madness.

This post is about Samantha Power. Take a look at this picture:

Look at her face. She looks like she wants to be Virginia Woolf.

In any case, look at the box. They have her sitting on a box with a hole in it, dressed in a very pretty dress.

Why do they have her sitting on a box with a hole in it?

I mean a A HOLE in it, for Christ's sake?

What the fuck is all this about?

(On the other hand, her expression, the very every-day non-attractiveness of it, and the blandness of the whole spectacle, the three crevices at the stomach, make her so wonderfully everyday, that I think I might blow an 800GB, 10GHz computer.)