Their fear of democracy

From Socialist Worker:

Richard Seymour, author of The Liberal Defence of Murder and a blogger at Lenin’s Tomb, analyzes the government’s new repressive tactics and what they say about the effectiveness of the protest movement.

December 13, 2010

Tens of thousands of students took to the streets around Britain last Thursday for Day X3 protests against a government plan to nearly triple student fees while cutting education spending. An estimated 20,000 poured into Parliament Square and the surrounding areas as lawmakers inside voted on the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government’s proposal.

The measure passed in the House of Commons, but by only 21 votes. The Tories and Liberal Democrats together have a parliamentary majority of more than 80 seats, but pressure from the protests caused dozens of Liberal Democrats–which pledged during the election campaign earlier this year to not just oppose student fee increases, but scrap them altogether–to vote against the government’s proposal.

Police once again stepped up the level of repression against demonstrators, including the use of its tactic of hemming in protesters and refusing to let them leave for hours–a practice known in Britain as “kettling.” Outside parliament, mounted police repeatedly charged their horses into the ranks of demonstrators, causing at least one severe injury and dozens of more minor ones. Yet the mainstream media’s outrage was saved for a group of protesters who briefly surrounded a car carrying Prince Charles and wife Camilla and apparently gave the royals a fright.

DAVID CAMERON demands that the “mob” must be punished. The Metropolitan police are in trouble with the “party of order,” who are aghast, simply aghast, that the royal Daimler has been scuffled by oiks. The Met blames and condemns “the outrageous and increasing levels of violence that some of the protesters are now involved in.”

Now there is casual talk of using firearms, as if it is only virtue and the “restraint” of armed officers and security officials that prevents those protesters from getting their heads justly blown off.

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Senate Tax Bill a Major Step Backwards for the Environment

From Natural Resources Defense Committee Switchboard:

Jim Presswood’s Blog

Posted December 13, 2010

The tax bill agreed to last Thursday by Senators Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell contains an energy package that would cause substantial environmental harm.  The offending provisions are the tax credits for corn ethanol and liquid coal.  While the bill contains several critically needed clean energy incentives, their environmental benefit is outweighed by the harm that would result from the ethanol and liquid coal incentives.  NRDC is therefore opposing the bill.  Here’s our analysis of the key provisions and what’s still missing.

Liquid Coal

The bill extends a 50 cent per gallon tax credit for liquid coal transportation fuels – fuels produced by liquefying coal.  This provision must be stripped from the bill.  Congress should not be doing anything to help a liquid coal industry get off the ground.  The production and use of liquid coal fuels releases more than twice the carbon pollution as conventional fuels.  Even if some of the carbon pollution from the production process is captured and disposed, the fuel might still result in more pollution than conventional fuels.  There are also the severe environmental impacts from coal mining, which include habitat loss, groundwater contamination and mountaintop removal.

The bill extends the tax credit provided by Sections 6426 and 6427 of the federal tax code.  While fuels qualifying for the credit have to come from production facilities that capture and dispose of 75% of their carbon pollution, that’s not enough to bring emissions down to parity with conventional fuels.  Moreover, this incentive is intended to commercialize a fundamentally flawed technology.  Once commercialized, there is little evidence that the next generation of plants will perform any carbon and capture at all.  Our liquid coal fact sheet provides more information about the problems of liquid coal.

Corn Ethanol

The bill includes a one-year extension of the Section 40 corn ethanol tax credit.  The corn ethanol lobby went into this year demanding a 5 year extension of this credit (officially called the volumetric ethanol excise tax credit or VEETC).  The Senate and President Obama have seen fit to say no and only offer a one-year extension.  This will save tax payers $25 billion. But this is still a huge waste of tax payer dollars. Ending the tax credit now would save an additional $6 billion. Reducing the tax credit by 20% would save $1.25 billion.  Saying no to 5 years is a start, but Congress should go further and end this wasteful, environmentally harmful handout.  Sending 70cents of every renewable energy dollar to oil companies to use ethanol defies common sense. It is time to invest in new fuels and clean energy sources that provide long-term energy security and clean up the air and water that we all need..

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Summers, Unapologetic To The Bitter End

Larry Summers is a misogynistic dickwad an free market pig who helped crash the world’s economy.

Oh, that he could be tried for crimes against humanity and receive the just punishment he so rightly deserves.

Instead he will go back to helping the rich elite pigs fuck over middle/working class America while the unemployed and under-employed proles struggle to survive in a world where many classes of people have 20-40 percent unemployment or under employment.

Perhaps he should follow the example set by Bernie Madoff’s son.

Fuck you, Larry Summers, have an unhappy life…

From Huffington Post:

Dan Froomkin
Updated: 12-13-10 01:15 PM

In his final public remarks as head of President Obama’s National Economic Council on Monday morning, Larry Summers had nothing bad to say about himself.

Summers shrugged off efforts by two reporters to get him to express regrets about his two-year tenure, during which big banks thrived, but ordinary Americans suffered.

“The president has said many, many times that none of us can rest or be satisfied with anything like the current level of joblessness, with anything like the income gap between what people could be earning and what they are earning,” Summers said at the liberal Economic Policy Institute, a somewhat unusual setting for his swan song.

Despite the preponderance of progressives in the audience, the passive conditional past subjunctive was about as close as Summers would come to saying he was sorry. “That’s where one would have liked to have seen more rapid progress,” he said.

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Federal Judge Finds Individual Mandate Unconstitutional

File in the following:  “Obama is not progressive” and “What were they thinking?

The United States is ruled  by the corporate oligarchy whose interests are equally represented by the right wing Democratic party and the ultra right wing Republican party.

From Fire Dog Lake:

By: David Dayen
Monday December 13, 2010 9:43 am

A federal judge in Virginia has ruled that the individual mandate, a key component of the health care law, is unconstitutional – a decision that, if upheld, could ultimately unravel much of the law.

This is at least the 14th ruling on the Affordable Care Act that has come through the courts so far, and most judges have dismissed cases seeking to throw out the law on constitutional grounds, even as regarding the individual mandate. However, Judge Henry Hudson ruled in a case brought by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli that the individual mandate “exceeds the constitutional boundaries of congressional power.” Government lawyers had ruled that the individual mandate is constitutional under the interstate commerce provision, but Hudson said that “Neither the Supreme Court nor any federal circuit court of appeals has extended Commerce Clause powers to compel an individual to involuntarily enter the stream of commerce by purchasing a commodity in the private market.”

Anticipating appellate review, Hudson did not block implementation of the law for the time being, particularly because the mandate doesn’t go into effect until 2014. Nevertheless, this is a setback for the law, though it was expected, as Hudson is a very conservative jurist. Everyone looking at this figured that the Supreme Court would ultimately decide on the question about the individual mandate. The major lawsuit is being decided in Florida – this was Cuccinelli’s suit that he took independently of that effort. But whatever comes out of the courts, you can expect it to be consolidated and moved upward to the highest court.

As for what happens if SCOTUS affirms this ruling, it’s not as simple as assuming that the law could go forward by just jettisoning the mandate, however. The drafters of the law did not include a severability clause that would have allowed the whole law to easily go forward without elements ruled unconstitutional. Depending on the rulings, a judge could actually take down most, if not all, of the law. However, Hudson said specifically in his ruling that any portion of the law which does not rest on the individual mandate could proceed.

The outcome may get fast-tracked to the Supreme Court:

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Leaked cable reveals concerns over tar sands oil

From The Michigan Messenger:

12.08.10 | 7:55 am

One of the documents released by WikiLeaks, a diplomatic document sent to President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton in advance of a presidential visit to Ottawa, Canada, reveals concerns about the higher environmental cost of Canadian tar sands oil compared to regular crude oil.

The cable, sent by the Charge D’Affaires of the Canadian Mission, highlights Canadian concerns that the president’s environmental promises could influence America’s importation of tar sands oil from that country:

Canadians wish that more Americans would recognize that Canada is the largest source of imported energy for the U.S. (including for both oil and natural gas), although there is also keen sensitivity over the higher environmental footprint of oil from western Canada’s oil sands and concern about the implications for Canada of your energetic calls to develop renewable energies and reduce our reliance on imported oil.

Canada provides the largest portion of the oil imported by the U.S. by a wide margin but much of that oil comes from the Alberta tar sands. Tar sands oil is much higher in heavy metals than regular crude oil and it requires enormous amounts of water and energy to extract the oil from the shale deposits it is locked in.

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Letter to President Obama on the Stalled VA Policy for Trans Veterans

From Pam’s House Blend:

Reposted with permission

by: MonicaHelms

Mon Dec 13, 2010 at 08:53:57 AM EST
(I felt the need to appeal to the President via E-mail on getting the stalled policy for the proper treatment of trans veterans out of the VA black hole.  The letters I keep getting from trans veterans of their mistreatment have been getting to me for a long time.  I hear they have people reading all E-mails at the WH, but I doubt it will go anywhere.  My philosophy is that there is no shame in failure, but there is in failure to try.  I had to try.)

Dear Mr. President,

I am the President of the Transgender American Veterans Association, an 8-year organization to help trans veterans with their VA problems.  Trans veterans have been mistreated in the VA for decades, even those with 20 or more years of service.  We did a survey in 2007 and the results are horrible.  You can view it at

In 2008, TAVA and NCTE worked with the VA to draft a new policy that would resolve the problems we saw in the survey.  However, the VA has been sitting on it since July of 2008 and no one can tell us why.  We even appealed to Sec. Shinseki and he hasn’t been able to help.  This is a final appeal to someone who may listen and I am hoping you care about veterans still having problems with the VA.

I know that you have more on your plate than a sumo wrestler in an all-you can eat restaurant, but I received two new stories from trans veterans in the last 24 hrs that made me want to write this.  We have read dozens of similar problems since July of 2008 and the new policy would have helped, but the VA is still allowing the mistreatment to continue unchecked.

I had “hope” that you would treat all veterans with the respect they deserved and you have gone a long way in that manner.  I thank you for that.  But, the job is not anywhere over.  There are still veterans who are treated with disdain and discrimination simply because of the direction their lives took AFTER they served this country.  They fought for this country.  They protected this country and the people in it.  They even bled for this country and gave their limbs for this country.  And yet, the US still treats them like 3rd class citizens.  Is that the right treatment they deserve?

Mr. President, I am begging you to help.  It can’t be any more simpler than that.  Please ask the VA to release that policy, called, “Providing Healthcare for Transgender and Intersex Veterans.”  I did eight years in the Navy, my father was a veteran of three wars, my grandfather was a veteran, my brother and his son are veterans.  My son served 4 years in the Marines and did two tours in Iraq, so you are getting this appeal from a long line of people who have served proudly.  Since TAVA has met with closed doors for 17 months, I felt a need to turn to you for help.  On behalf of the thousands of trans veterans in the US, I ask for your help.  Thank you, Mr. President.

Monica Helms
President, TAVA

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Nina’s luftballons: Nina Arsenault’s The Silicone Diaries

I didn’t have all that much plastic/cosmetic surgery besides SRS.  Yeah I had the obligatory boob job that gave me over 30 years of problems and getting revisions.  I was glad to get them out and even gladder to learn the suspicious tissue wasn’t cancerous.  I had my nose and chin done too.  I’m a hippie, a writer and photographer.  I play guitar and paint sometimes.

But I am also an observer and when I set aside some of the straight social conditioning that causes a judgmental  reaction to people who step outside the programmed straight paradigm I can admit people like Nina Arsenault and Amanda Lepore are pretty cool.

I know how easy it is for the transition process to draw people in to its magic.  I am amazed at the amount of work some sisters have and the serious risks others take with dangerous processes like silicone injections.

One of my best friends, Diane Mancuso, who passed away in 2002 was one of the first sisters I knew who had numerous plastic surgeries.  Others fell victim to silicone injections.

Now days FFS is widely sought by those who can afford it.  Sometime it seems as though the flaws are invisible.

It isn’t only TS/TG sisters who do this.  Cher, Joan Rivers and others come to mind.

What I think I admire about Nina Arsenaut and Amanda Lepore is they are open to  talking about self as art project.  The act of creating self and the  fears they are running from.  Perhaps the idea of creating a perfect objectification of self creeps some people out but a little bit of me can understand it.

This is almost a companion piece to the one I suggested reading the other day.

Nina Arsenault as gender theorist?  Why is she actually any less valid than Kate Bornstein?

I can almost hear the plaintive cries of the proper terminology police, who are terrified the straights will think less of us if we talk candidly about our own lives outside some sort of rigid frame work that seems a whole lot more confining these days than it was when the hip openness of the 1960s/70s ruled the day.

It’s okay if someone else has a different take on dealing with being transsexual than YOU do.  Look at the grief people get over the “T-word” when we used to refer to researchers buying us lunch or dinner for our letting them interview us as the “Take a trannie to lunch program.” Or “The Operation”. I have heard so much denial about the surgery.  G3ender reassignment, genital reconstruction, gender affirmation, blah, blah, blah.

It’s a sex change operation, sex reassignment surgery. We are transsexual or transgender people because we change the sex we were assigned to at birth.  We have our outies made into innies and vice versa.  It changes the sex we were assigned at birth to the other sex.

It amazes me that there is more candor in that New York Times article:  Bold Crossings of the Gender Line than we often show in private conversations where a so many seem utterly caught up in a game of “I’m realer than you are. or I’m a really special kind of transsexual and you’re not. or I’m really intersex and you are just a disgusting “trannie”.

This is why we need an occasional Nina or Amanda, to say, “I’m an art project.”.  Smack the proper paradigm around a bit as it has become incredibly stuffy and self-righteous.

From Hour:

Nina’s luftballons

Reposted with permission

Richard Burnett


It is pure synchronicity that I am blabbing with Nina Arsenault – the most celebrated transsexual in Canada – on international Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day set aside each Nov. 20 to memorialize those murdered because of anti-transgender hatred or prejudice.

Nina, star of her critically-hailed, autobiographical one-transwoman show, The Silicone Diaries, is very aware of this too.

“The hardest part of my transformation was when I was living as a woman but still looked very masculine and people would make fun of me on the street,” Nina says. “They’d yell things out of their car. I realized there is a double standard for transsexuals, because if you’re a beautiful transsexual, people will accept you more easily. If you ‘pass’ you will be more accepted. You may not even be noticed. But if you don’t pass… That’s what really hurt me – people don’t see you as human.”

Truth is, after 60 cosmetic surgeries over eight long years, Nina doesn’t look very human.

Similarly, last winter when I asked famed NYC tranny (and photographer Dave LaChappelle’s muse) Amanda Lepore what she thinks she looks like, Lepore replied, “There is something alien about my face – there is something spacey about me. If I dressed like Lady Gaga, [my face] would get lost. But because I dress retro, vamp and classic, the [alien] qualities come out more.”

Nina Arsenault is equally frank. “I look like a cyborg,” she says, unafraid to showcase her eye-popping 36D-26-40 bombshell body in her first play, the aptly-named

I Was Barbie, which was a hit during Barbie’s 50th anniversary at Toronto Fashion Week in June 2009.

But it wasn’t always so.

The first scene in The Silicone Diaries is set in the Golden Horseshoe Trailer Park of Beamsville, Ontario, where Arsenault lived with her parents and brother until the age of six. In this scene, young Nina (then Rodney) and the local trailer park boys gather to look at a stack of Penthouse magazines. Today, 30 years later, it is Nina who looks like she could pose for Penthouse.

“My parents are generally supportive, though my mom thinks I’m too sexy,” Nina admits. “She thinks I didn’t need to get my breasts done so large and my lips so big. And she thinks I wear too much make-up. She’s worried about my life being difficult but now that they’ve come to see my plays, they get a kick out of how audacious I am.”

While Disney-style drag queens now entertain the masses (I felt gay life was neutered in the hugely-popular, Broadway-bound Priscilla Queen of the Desert: The Musical I saw at Toronto’s Princess of Wales Theatre two weeks ago), trans is – as America’s one-man gay-AP Rex Wockner told me last week – “the new way to terrorize the bourgeoisie. Gay is so passé.”

Or as Nina says, “I don’t differentiate between gay people and straight people anymore. I differentiate between queer people and normative people. Normative are those who buy into mainstream ideals of beauty, of where they should live and what is an acceptable lifestyle. Because gay people can now get married and adopt kids, a lot of gay people have become [conservative] too – and in some ways just as judgmental as straight people used to be. That’s an unfortunate development in [today’s] gay community. I just don’t fit in.”

Still, post-surgery Nina continued to make headlines as a hostess in Toronto nightclubs, then as a columnist for the Queen City’s Fab magazine. She took it to the next level, selling out I Was Barbie at Toronto’s We’re Funny That Way comedy festival and Halifax’s Queer Acts Festival, all the while keeping her name in the news with high-profile TV appearances (including on Fashion Television, OUT TV’s The Locker Room and Kink on Showcase). Then came The Silicone Diaries in November 2009, Arsenault’s tour de force retelling of her life, from the Golden Horseshoe Trailer Park to becoming a sex worker to pay for all of her surgeries (which so far have cost her $200,000).

Silicone Diaries‘ 90-minute monologue – which will be published in an upcoming anthology of queer plays by Borealis Press – also recreates Nina’s infamous “Crying Game-style collision” with Pamela Anderson’s ex-hubby, rocker Tommy Lee. “One night at Toronto’s swanky Ultra Supper Club he was in the sectioned off VIP area and the place was packed with star fuckers, silicone-enhanced women with bad extensions. These wanna-be Pamela Andersons were intentionally trying to capture his eye. I just happened to be there and he picked me out of the pack to come over and sit on his lap.”

Needless to say, the meeting ended quickly.

“Was he polite?” Nina asks rhetorically. “I think he’s a laidback guy who’s seen it all. I had the sense that he’s an adventurous guy with a wild sense of humour and a really big heart.”

“Among other things,” I crack.

Nina laughs. “Yeah, he’s really cocksure!”

In another scene from The Silicone Diaries, Nina the former sex-worker slinks onstage in a transparent dress that pretty much reveals everything cocksucking did for her (Nina hasn’t had the chop but is castrated). The way Nina has reshaped her body reminds me of Pete Burns of the 1980s Brit-pop band Dead or Alive, who says his body is an ever-changing piece of art.

“I feel the same way,” Nina says. “And from my body, I spin off other arts, like photographs of my body, or this play about my body. The next phase of my work will document the signs of aging. I don’t really see myself ever stopping. I’ve always taken pictures of every stage of my life and videotaped all of my surgical procedures.”

When I ask Nina if she still goes for touch-ups every now and then, she laughs heartily.

“Well, I didn’t go for five years! I got really sick of it, [especially after] putting all those strange dicks in my mouth [to pay for it all]!” Nina laughs again. “So I took a break. People were beginning to think I was addicted to plastic surgery and I thought I looked as good as I could possibly look. But I don’t think I could let my face age naturally at this point. Because I don’t have a natural face. Once it starts dropping I won’t look like an old woman. I’ll look quite strange, I think. We always say, ‘Once you’ve had this much work done, you’re always in the game.'”

Just like Cher and Joan Rivers. “Yeah, they’re in the game,” Nina agrees. “Imagine if Joan Rivers let that face fall and those cheeks started sliding down? It wouldn’t look right.”

This transition is at the heart of The Silicone Diaries. It’s not so much about a boy becoming a girl as it is about beauty. “My story has now become about a transition from being ugly to becoming beautiful, even if beautiful means looking plastic. At some point looking beautiful became more important than looking like a woman. It became more important than looking natural. And I don’t think my transition will ever end because my body is always changing, always aging. Losing beauty, faded beauty – I don’t think my transition will ever be over. Maybe one day I’ll even decide to get my pussy.”


Do not miss Nina Arsenault in The Silicone Diaries at Théâtre La Chapelle (3700 St-Dominique), Dec. 14-18. Surf to