And you thought Larry Rohter* was bad

As if to confirm Kyle's critique of the mainstream media's incredibly open orientation toward privilege and power, the AP published a report on Lula's revival of class struggle rhetoric in the Brasilian election runoff.
Fiery speeches contrasting the lives of Brazil's poor with the wealthy elite have left many Brazilians wondering whether he would push the country to the left if he wins a second four-year term in Sunday's runoff election. Silva, a former union firebrand and Brazil's first working-class president, faced similar fears four years ago, but calmed them by adhering to market-friendly, pro-business policies that won praise even from conservatives.
!!!! Who writes this stuff? "Brazilians" have "fears" that Lula will move to the left? Lula's right-wing economic policies won praise "even from conservatives"? Maybe it's a typo and is supposed to read "won praise only from conservatives".
While few believe Silva would adopt the radical populism of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, they worry that he could entrench divisions in Brazil, which has one of the world's widest gaps between rich and poor.
It just gets worse and worse. Apparently "one of the world's widest gaps between rich and poor" doesn't count as an entrenched division. But some opportunistic rhetoric from a faux-populist could very well give rise to such a nightmare.
"It's very easy to mobilize the poor. What's hard is to demobilize them after the election," said Bolivar Lamounier, director of the Augurium political consulting firm. "I'm afraid if he wins a second term, which looks likely, he will be tempted to take an authoritarian turn."
Authoritarian, i.e. any policy that might upset of the highly participatory model of extreme wealth inequality.
"It's not very difficult with the low level of education in Brazil to motivate this prejudice," Lamounier said. "It was very hard to carry out privatization in Brazil, and while it a made good business sense, when poor people got their phone bills or light bills they just saw that things cost a lot."
If only the poor had a better education! Then they'd realize that paying more for utilities in order to enrich wealthy CEOs is solid public policy.
[Lula's] socialist fire has already inflamed prejudices among upper-class Brazilians.
So now criticizing rich people and calling for government programs to help the poor qualifies as "socialist". Does anyone else feel like we're in the 1880s?

I can just imagine the newsgathering work done by the reporter for this article: relaxing at a café in a fancy part of São Paulo, talking with the rich folks who apparently exhaust the category "Brasilians".

* Larry Rohter is The New York Times's Brasil correspondent who serves power in slightly more subtle ways.


Savage Love does not love animals

Dan Savage this week has a strange explanation of why it's okay to kill animals.
it needs to be said that if zoophilia is wrong because animals can't consent to sexual acts, then hamburgers, lamb chops, and Jell-O brand gelatin, along with leather shoes, belts, pants, slings, and hoods, are all equally wrong. It's possible that meat and leather are, you know, wronger. If we could talk to the animals, I'm pretty sure they would tell us they would rather be screwed than stewed. But until we can talk to the animals, eat them and wear them­—don't fuck them.

His email address is below.

From: [me]
To: mail@savagelove.net
Date: Oct 22, 2006 10:00 AM
Subject: eating and wearing animals

I've always admired you as a defender of the most marginalized people in society, people considered so weird or disgusting that "normal" people feel free to abuse them however they want.

So it's sad for me to read your outright dismissal of another group defined as inferior and thereby left open to the most horrific abuses humans can think up. As with other oppressed groups, we're taught that animals are not "us", are less than "us", and so we can exploit them, torture them, kill them. Their suffering does not matter, their lives do not matter.

The big difference is that, as you mention, we can't talk to animals. But is that really such a difference? Could whites talk to slaves? Could straight Americans talk to gay people before the 1970s? Physiologically, yes. But oppression creates its own silence, which only a few brave souls dare to break. Did we really need to interview statistically significant samples of slaves or gays to know that they wanted an end to the social brutality they faced every day? Isn't it morally necessary to end oppression regardless of whether the victims can express their opposition to it?

Isn't it time to stop eating and wearing animals?


The hermits have the bomb!

So 조선/North Korea tested a nuclear weapon (probably). I haven't bothered to post till now because it just doesn't seem like that big a deal. A country with no real allies, constantly threatened by the most powerful country in the world, feels the need to develop nuclear weapons? There are no grounds for either surprise or outrage here.

If the Clinton administration had actually followed thru with its commitments under the 1994 Agreed Framework, we wouldn't be in this mess. (It's worth emphasizing that the USA broke that agreement at least as badly as North Korea did. For some reason the media only remember 김정일/Kim Jeong'il's perfidy.) The Bush administration repudiated the entire thing, and things have been spiralling donward since.

There's a few obvious principles that we should be adhering to, but which are never raised in the current "debate".

1) The United States has no right to forbid other countries to make nuclear weapons as long as it continues to have them.

2) The United States should be following 한국/South Korea's lead since these decisions affect South Korea more than any other country except North Korea. Instead, the Bush administration has openly rejected the South's strategy, which is to try to integrate the North into the region politically and economically without the use of military threats.

3) The real victims here are the people of North Korea, who suffer from political tyranny and economic collapse. Most of them are living so close to disaster that any increase in instability is likely to kill a good many of them. The Bush administration's ideal solution - the collapse of the North Korean government - would lead to a humanitarian catastrophe and heavy burdens on both 中国/China and South Korea. Neither one would manage those burdens in the interests of the destitute North Koreans.

Clearly the best approach under the circumstances is a return to the Agreed Framework and an intensification of South Korea's efforts to build connections with the North. That means the United States should pay for light water nuclear reactors that can replace the energy lost from the North's current reactors (which can much more easily be used to make bombs), provide security guarantees, normalize relations with North Korea, and support South Korean efforts. I'm not usually one to champion market penetration, but since the alternatives in North Korea are war, internal collapse, or the status quo, there doesn't seem like a better alternative.

Yet we should go further. If the USA wants to stop proliferation, the only fair way - and the only practical way - is to move toward total global nuclear disarmament. We're passing up a golden opportunity to rid the world of this terrible menace once and for all. The USA faces no real enemies, and even unilateral nuclear disarmament wouldn't reduce American security. But because of the USA and its belligerence, that's not true for any other country. The United States could bring a lot to the table - elimination of its own arsenal, offers of non-aggression treaties, development assistance. It has even greater leverage over allies like Britain and Israel.

In this moment of low superpower tensions the elimination of nuclear weapons could be accomplished relatively easily. I'm afraid that someday people will look back and curse us that we let the moment slip by.