Monday, March 11, 2013

Donkey Kong Hack of 2013

I know this is typically a politically-oriented site and usually one with a radical streak, but every once in a blue moon you see something that makes you have just a flicker of hope in our species.  One of those times you feel the need to give a deserving soul a pick-me-up for being a decent human being.  Thus, Mike Mika, and the remaking of Donkey Kong, allowing for his 3 year old daughter to make Princess Toadstool the hero.  I know, Mike, you claim you are not a feminist making a statement, but surprise you did something completely humanistic and yes feminist.  Congratulations to a good parent.

Dad hacks Donkey Kong so daughter can play as a girl

For over three decades, Mario has been the hero of Donkey Kong.

But when Mike Mika's daughter didn't understand why she couldn't play as damsel-in-distress Pauline in the coin-op classic, the Oakland father turned the tables on the plumber -- and hopped away as a shoo-in to win a few Dad of the Year awards.

Mika, who also happens to be creative director at the game design studio Other Ocean Interactive, hacked into the Nintendo Entertainment system version to turn Pauline into the hero of Donkey Kong, leaving Mario stuck high on the scaffolding with the angry simian.

From Mika's Facebook page:
"My 3-year-old daughter and I play a lot of old games," "Her favorite is Donkey Kong. Two days ago, she asked me if she could play as the girl and save Mario. She's played as Peach in Super Mario Bros. 2 and naturally just assumed she could do the same in Donkey Kong. I told her we couldn't in that particular Mario game; she seemed really bummed out by that. So what else can I do?"
More impressively, he seems to have done it all in one night. His first Facebook update about the change noted he was awake at midnight working on the modified version. Fourteen hours later, he posted that he had finished the job.

Swapping out male heroes in old games with female leads is becoming something of a trend, actually. Last November, Mike Hoye reworked The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker to change Link from a "He" to a "She" to make the game more accessible to his daughter, who played the game with him as he read the text aloud to her.

Mika's Donkey Kong hack came from the same place: a simple desire to make his daughter happy.

"I didn’t set out to push a feminist agenda, or try to make a statement," he said in a post on Wired. "I just wanted to keep that little grin lit up on my daughter’s face every time we sit down to play games together."


Here is the new and improved Donkey Kong.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

John Brennan: Bill of Rights Not Necessary

As of today, our most criminal government agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, which has toppled countless democratic states throughout the world on the orders of our POTUS, can finally lay claim to a new fact of life.  It is now led by the equivalent of a serial killer.


John Brennan Sword in on Constitution Without a Bill of Rights
by Elspeth Reeve

New CIA director John Brennan was sworn into office Friday on the original draft of the Constitution — as in, the one drafted in 1787, four years before it included the Bill of Rights. It is a symbolic thing, but the White House got the symbolism wrong. Brennan has been criticized for being involved in, or at least aware of, various CIA policies that trouble civil libertarians. Brennan said he knew of, but did nothing to stop, the torture of war-on-terror detainess under the Bush administration. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul filibustered Brennan's nomination on Wednesday and into Thursday, demanding the Obama administration say whether it believed it had the power to use a drone to kill and American citizen not engaged in combat on American soil. (Attorney General Eric Holder said the answer was no.)
As Marcy Wheeler notes, what's funny about this is that the White House thought it was getting the symbolism right. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Brennan requested the 1787 copy of the Constitution from the National Archives to show the U.S. is a nation of laws, according to Yahoo. Earnest explained, "Director Brennan told the president that he made the request to the archives because he wanted to reaffirm his commitment to the rule of law as he took the oath of office as director of the CIA."

There is no irony in this picture.  It is the representation of Brennan's values and increasingly the values of the two parties of our government.  To those in power, particularly in the military, law enforcement, and the intelligence community, the Bill of Rights is at best an inconvenience, at worst a threat to the contractors, sponsors, and campaign donors representing these industries. 

Doubt me?  Look up Brennan's career.  He started out his days in the CIA as our man and representative in the Middle East, no doubt overseeing our operations and support for the Afghan Mujahideen in the '80s, a time when people like Brennan allied with the likes of Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden to fight those evil Commies in Kabul.  His next stop was as the threat assessment expert for Bill Clinton and eventually fraudulent document disseminator for George Bush, including the infamous Orange Terror Alert scandal, which was perpetrated in part to boost Bush's poll numbers.  As mentioned in the article, Brennan's value for the "rule of law" in our Constitution also included watching POW "detainees" being subjected to torture from the CIA, to which the brave new director reacted by doing absolutely nothing.  And most recently, Brennan has been one of the administration's lead architects of mass slaughter of innocent civilians through the use of military drones in Yemen, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, including of American citizens, even American children who made the mistake of breathing while in the proximity of an accused American terrorist our government never formally charged, prosecuted, or recognized due process rights to--you know, that part of the Constitution Mr. Brennan forgot when he was sworn in.  

All of this information is part of the public domain.  And President Obama's response?  That it did not matter because he wanted Brennan anyway.

And for those progressives who continue to make excuses for Obama's record on civil liberties, remember, it took an anti-civil rights Republican just to get him to concede that he would not kill an American non-combatant on American soil.  Of course, if you are considered a "combatant" in the war on terror, well, I think we all know what is coming next to a theater of operations on American soil near you.

That is John Brennan's idea of killing "combatant terrorists" in a "hot war" and "battle zone."

And in case any liberal vs. conservative partisan wants to delude him or herself that their party would never do such a thing, this destruction of our Constitutional liberties is being done in collusion with the leadership of both parties.  The shared criminality has never looked so horrifying.

I suppose in the future, we will just re-title all crime suspects terrorists, so we can save taxpayer's time and money and just blow them up.  I am sure there will be no shortage of supporters for that tactic in the hinterland of our fine republic.  A sad day, indeed.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Happy International Women's Day!

There are so many issues impacting women's rights throughout this world, it seems criminal to synopsize it to one post or day, but here we are.  This is one of my favorite posters from International Women's Day, one from the Soviet era (yes, dare the thought, the evil Commies recognized International Women's Day).

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Constitutuionalism of Rand Paul

How desperate are civil libertarians for support with a Democratic administration that is busily shredding the Fourth Amendment as enthusiastically as the preceding Republican presidency?  Well, some on the left are taking to show their support for a filibuster of a man whose views on civil liberties are as bad, if not worse, than President Obama's.  

First, the filibuster.  Yes, Rand Paul is opposed to Obama's neo-con nominee to the Director of the CIA John Brennan, a man every bit as odious and horrendous as his predecessors to lead one of our chief criminal government agencies.

Senator Paul has every right to use the filibuster (since it is still a Senate rule), and opposing the likes of John Brennan is a good start.  Here is Brennan's views on murdering American citizens abroad.

Note, murdering Americans is now called war and the Americans killed "terrorist combatants."  Never mind that they are not in any army, have not been accused or formally charged with a crime (and one can be charged criminally under the US federal code for terrorism).  And Brennan's idea of a 'combatant' includes the 16 year old child of an accused American terrorist (who in the case of Al-awlaki's son was murdered alongside his father by an American drone [even though it was never contended that the kid was involved in with his father's activities]).  Remember, this youngster the next time one of our bombardiers tell us we are only going after terrorists with our drone attacks.

No, to folks like John Brennan, that is killing combatants on a "hot" battlefield.

Senator Paul's opposition to this nomination is probably about the nicest thing I can concede to Rand Paul, along with his principled opposition to the NDAA of 2012, which I raged against during its passage phase last year, but the niceties end there.  Contrary to the view of those progressives calling Rand a "hero" on civil liberties, his filibuster only contests the hypothetical practice of killing an American civilian on American soil.  Here is Rand Paul himself in his speech.

Notice, none of this contrived debate has to do with what our government is really doing, which is murdering American citizens abroad.  That is because Rand Paul does not care if our government murders Americans outside our country.

Sounds like a harsh judgment?  This is Rand Paul on why the US should be allowed to round people up and imprison them for their speech.

Yes, a real believer in freedom there.  And not unlike most Republicans in this country, Senator Paul is not a fan of immigration.  Indeed, just a few months ago, Senator Paul called for ending all legal immigration into the US for at least the next decade, if not longer.

And even though he initially claimed to oppose racial profiling, here is Rand Paul (just last year) supporting the government's use of racial profiling on Arab students in the US.  Here is Senator Paul in his own words.

Paul : And I don't think the random pat-downs are making us any safer. I want to know where the Middle Eastern students are that are here visiting our country. Are they in class, are they going to class, if they get on a plane. If you've been to Yemen twice in the last six months, I want to know who you are and know more about your travel. But most American citizens need to go through a relatively easy security process that's not too invasive and doesn't take away our dignity.

And what about Paul's other views on civil liberties and civil rights?  Senator Paul wants to eliminate civil rights and voting rights laws, as he believes them to be onerous on states' rights, even if that means allowing states (like his own) attempt to further restrict access to the ballot for people who do not like Rand Paul.

You might think that this is being overly critical of him.  After all, he is a libertarian, not a far-right racist who wants to expressly target black people.  Well, just ask Rand Paul how best to battle against racial segregation, because according to the Senator from Kentucky the late Martin Luther King, Jr. had it all wrong.  You see, laws are socialist in nature (except when racially profiling non-whites at airports, banning speech that you do not like, and using the power of the state to outlaw abortion and gay marriage [all positions that Paul has taken over the years]), when what we need to do is battle racism with the sweet invisible hand of the market.

Again, I will allow the Senator to speak for himself.

This is in spite of the fact the political and cultural market of the white South back then (and probably still would) overwhelmingly supported racial segregation, no matter how economically irrational it was.  But hey, at least he did not say black people should have their cafes blown up with drones.  To reiterate, Senator Paul thinks that businesses who want to discriminate against you because of your race or gender should be legally allowed to do so.  And if states want to restrict your access to the ballot, well, you should form a corporation, pay for a lobbyist, and use the market-based concept of private pressure to get white people to stop discriminating against you.  Because we all know that if there is one thing white racist people in the US lack, it is an appreciation for capitalism!!

So, if you had any doubts as to what type of hero Rand Paul is to the Constitution, now you know.  Outside of drones on American soil (which has not happened yet) and the NDAA of 2012, he is not much of a hero at all.  The only difference between a Rand Paul and Barack Obama or the average Republican member of Congress today is the degree to which he thinks the Constitution should be violated, not whether it should be violated at all.

All of the aforementioned notwithstanding, it is truly a sad sign on the spinelessness of those liberals in the Democratic Party (save for Ron Wyden) that it takes someone like Rand Paul to be doing what they should have done when President Obama nominated this homicidal sociopath to be Director of the CIA.  For that, progressives only have themselves to blame.  By not holding Obama and people in his own party morally and ideologically accountable, this is why someone like a President Obama can jettison you and treat you like electoral suckers with nowhere else to go.  That is not the fault of Rand Paul.  That is the fault of the cowardice of the Democratic Party.  To that ends, bravo to Rand Paul for being right at least once.  That is more than I can say for those progressives who ignored or vacillated in continuing to support the worst offenses of this administration.

In fact, when Obama nominated John Brennan last month, the liberals' response was to be upset and promise to make his day uncomfortable.  Not to filibuster, not to block.  No, that would be impolite.  Just to express their disapproval by crossing their arms for two minutes and holding their breaths.  

And you wonder why liberals cannot get the leadership of the Democratic Party to listen to us?  You wonder why the corporate wing of the party sells out on the public option on healthcare, continues to support a regime in Israel every bit as racist as South Africa under apartheid?  Because the leadership of the Democratic Party does not care about you.  And until progressives get that through our thick skulls and begin practicing some of the methods of the tea partiers in holding our preferred party accountable, we will continue to be so desperate and pathetic as to wait for a Rand Paul to come along and do what we should have done four weeks ago.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Meaning of Hugo Chavez

I have not posted in some time.  My apologies.  For those still reading, I work endless hours as a contractual servant to student tuition debt, paying off with interest so our military contractors and overpaid spies at the NSA can feel safe at night.  I post daily on Twitter (, and if you want to follow me there, please, do so.

Back to the subject of my periodic posting, I want to send out a RIP (if an atheist like myself can do such a thing) to the recently departed President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez.  For those who have read this blog over the years, I had my criticisms of President Chavez.  At times, he was too bombastic for his own good.  His views on free speech were also an issue deserving reproach, which I had no problem with dispensing when I felt the need to do so.

However, I also felt then as I do now that the greatest national political phenomenon to happen in Latin America in the past fifty years has not been in Cuba (whose government is going down the path of a Deng Xiaoping-esque marketization in the post-Fidel years), but in Venezuela.  Chavez was the rarest of Latin American leaders, a person who never sold out.  In a region known for what we in international relations call the comprador class, this is no small achievement.  Those people in the West, particularly white people (if we are being honest), take for granted that we control "our" land and countries.  Those very benefits the teabaggers in the hinterland and the offensive realists who populate our think tanks have never wanted to confront this concept of national sovereignty outside of the US because it is a luxury to most countries throughout the world.   Those few non-Western countries who have completely gained their political sovereignty and economic self-determination from Western governments are almost always portrayed in our media as the scariest proposition since Attila the Hun (or fill in name of scary dictator to manufacture consent of the governed).  Such is the fate of any political leader in the Western Hemisphere who dares to hold a public meeting and pronounce the Monroe Doctrine dead.

But ask yourself, why should the US care if Venezuela democratically elected a socialist government for the past decade and a half?  And not a watered down version of it, like most of the regimes in Latin America.  It is for the same reason we crushed Mossadeq, Arbenz, Allende, Ortega, and countless other democratically-elected socialist governments outside of the West in the past century.  Deep down, every market researcher understands that without access they cannot sell their goods, and if it is accomplished democratically it undermines any attempt by the US to depict this as a battle for 'freedom and liberty,' like the Cold War.  That is the sustained threat that Hugo Chavez posed for capitalist powers like the US, and it is why my government attempted (and temporarily succeeded) to overthrow Chavez back in 2002. 

Had Chavez been elected in 1972, instead of 1998, I have no illusions that his government would have ever survived for almost fifteen years.  Note tonight that while the anchors at Fox "news" are celebrating his death, not a single one will ever mention what our government's role was in attempting to violently dethrone this elected leader eleven years ago this next month.

Nor will the joyous anchors at our least legitimate news station mention our government's role in attempting to overthrow Chavez the very next year in a labor strike (the sight of Republicans in the US supporting a countrywide labor strike in Venezuela should not be lost in judging who was behind that affair).  Nor will they mention the role of my government in attempting to circumvent the democratic process a year after that, in 2004, by trying to have Chavez recalled.  All of these attempts to destroy what democratic culture was left in Venezuela failed and they failed miserably.  In so doing, the US cast itself on the same side of those authoritarian military regimes in Latin America that have a long bloodied past, riddled with hundreds of thousands of corpses in El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Chile, Brazil, Haiti, and Panama, and the surrounding oceans--regimes our government helped empower, supported, sponsored, armed, and in some cases even assisted in the massacre of their own citizenry.

Here is something you are not likely to see on the O'Reilly Factor this evening.

What Chavez represented was not just resistance to the imperialism of yet another Western capitalist state attempting to impose itself on the South, but the cause of many of the same basic principles and values Western philosophers have advocated in our own society, which we take for granted on a daily basis.  Remember child labor in the US?  I am sure you do not because it was banned during the New Deal, and outside of the speeches of Newt Gingrich and probably some gated community type in the offices of the Cato Institute you see no one wanting to bring it back in the here and now.  Venezuela under Chavez campaigned to crush the remaining child labor industries and put kids in school, and yes (dare the thought) he did it with taxpayer's money.  Imagine tax dollars supporting universal education (our public schools), healthcare (Medicare, Medicaid, whatever happens after the 2014 healthcare law), anti-poverty measures (LBJ's war on poverty), subsidies to the elderly (Social Security), etc.  These are investments we in the US and Western Europe often forget that we have, even though we did  not until the 20th century (and in the case of the US, still lacking in universal healthcare).  The Chavez government brought many of those benefits to Venezuela, uplifting millions out of the ranks of destitution.  Things no one in American news stations and editorials will be talking about tonight as being any kind of accomplishment. 

And Chavez was not like Lula or Obama, who wanted to conform to a model of capitalist globalization.  He put the concerns of poor people on the forefront of his politics.  That above all else, next to standing up to the US, is Chavez's greatest crime in the West, and it is one that we will be cursing for decades and centuries to come--or as rich white people in the US like call it, tyranny and oppression.

How sad that Greece or Spain or even our country did not have political leaders like Chavez to say no to austerity (and it is coming to this country, dear liberals who still think Obama will not sell us out on protecting Social Security and Medicare).  I am sure the poor of those countries would concur, if anyone cared to pay attention.  The same media who ignores the fact that save for Iceland no one in the West has held the bankers who wrecked our global economy five years ago accountable for their crimes, but we must hate this man who took the profits from his oil (that we deem to be our own) and spend it so crazily on such Stalinistic-Satanic endeavors like abolishing illiteracy and providing prenatal care in the countryside and poorest areas of his country. 

Was he perfect or even great in all ways?  No, of course not.  Chavez's views on media free speech was, to me, even now something I do not agree with.  I believe in free, even irresponsible, speech for my political enemies.  Also, the manner in which Chavez tried to vacillate the Catholic Church on the issue of reproductive choice, like Daniel Ortega after 2006, was a major disappointment.  Indeed, on women's rights Chavez was sometimes no different than his conservative opponents.  Nevertheless, on the elimination of poverty, Hugo Chavez was one of the few heads of state who seemed to genuinely care and want to do something about it. 

The irony is that in spite of the fact he is gone, and who knows at this point what will become of the socialist government in Caracas, the example that Chavez has set is something that will be forever remembered in Latin America.  That spirit of resistance is why he was so popular in life and will become legendary in death.  Meanwhile, back in the land of obesity and debt, tonight our 1% will celebrate, like the aristocracy of ole cheering the death of any enemy of their calumnies, immune only for now to what will one day surely befall them.  They may even know it but do not care.  Such is the appeal of mammon and what it does to the conscience of those who pursue it above all else.

I suspect even if Venezuela's socialist government were to collapse, even generations from now, the seed of resistance to the North that Hugo Chavez planted will long outlast our memories of his party's rule, and that will be the greatest legacy of his life.  Hopefully, we will remember, as well, and maybe, just maybe learn from Chavez's example, one we tend to jettison--that no matter how rich, strong, and how powerful we are, we are not of the people we try to buy and/or rule.