American progressives must recognize the urgent need to support and preserve the Venezuelan socialist revolution. The peaceful, democratically elected socialist government serves as a model for the kind of programs that our own country desperately needs.
Look at what Venezuelan socialists have already accomplished and why they have consistently been under attack by Venezuela’s wealthy classes and their U.S. government, CIA and USAID funders: (See Eva Golinger’s “Post Cards from the Revolution” archives for details of U.S. funding at http://www.chavezcode.com/)
In 1998, Hugo Chavez was elected president of Venezuela. He was democratically re-elected twice in the following 14 years until his death in March of 2013, even triumphing over a separate right-wing generated national recall referendum in 2004.
During those years, Chavez and his socialist party, the PSUV, set out to reverse the power relations of the pre-1998 years of capitalist rule and giving voice to the millions of Venezuelans who had previously been poor, hungry, uneducated and ill under those capitalist regimes.
Chavez and his government created what they termed “social missions”, focused programs to deal with depredations that had previously affected the majority of citizens. Their literacy mIssion sent thousands of high school and university students into the country side to teach reading and writing, virally whipping out illiteracy in the country according to UN statistics. A similar project provided high school level education to those without previous access, while hundreds of new university and technical programs were created where no tuition was charged and students were actually paid a stipend to go to school.
An early mission, called Mission Adentro, brought free neighborhood medical and dental clinics by the thousands into neighborhoods throughout the country which were previously unserved. A mission to provide good nutritional food provides subsidized markets and restaurants.
After the extreme flooding throughout the country in 2010, which destroyed thousands of homes, a new Mission to build 2 million new homes began, homes to be given to families at very low interest rates or even free, depending on family income.
There followed a massive training and employment program for up to two million people, wherein folks received job training and thereafter job placements at government expense.
Since 2003, more than the equivalent of $772 billion has been invested in the social missions programs.These funds came from the profits of Venezuela’s nationalized oil industry.
In 2011, five new “great social missions” were launched to build upon the work of previous programs and achieve specific objectives regarding health, employment, housing, social security, and agriculture. Millions of workers, students, mothers, children and the disabled have received the benefits of these social services while receiving government financial support to utilize these programs.
Apparently they’re somewhere up Miley Cyrus’s ass, which is where I wouldn’t mind being right now. Yes, I’m a pig. Sue me for having a penis and a hetero orientation.
But seriously, where the FUCK are our priorities? Barry Obama — the fascist who by most honest accounts is even crazier, more totalitarian, more pro-corporate, and demonstrably worse than Dick Cheney — is preparing to wage an unauthorized war against Syria, repeating what he did to Libya (itself carried out in violation of the Constitution). Our own government is spying on, literally, every single communication it can vacuum up into its databases without so much as a shred of due process. The dictator of the United States executes American citizens who haven’t even been charged with, let alone convicted of, any crime at all, nothing warranting the death penalty. Those who expose crimes by our government are imprisoned, tortured, prosecuted in kangaroo trials, forced into hiding in foreign countries, or some combination thereof. The planet is heating up. Corporations have uncontested control over our daily lives. People are starving, dying of thirst, forced to endure extreme poverty while the wealthy get fatter and fatter.
But our overwhelming obsession right now is some twenty-year-old hottie grinding up against a no-talent male diva dressed up like he raided Michael Keaton’s wardrobe from the film Beetlejuice. That same no-talent male diva, by the way, sang a song about “blurred lines” of sexual consent, which was also released to a video featuring naked women prancing around acting like mere sex objects. No wonder Matt Walsh was going apeshit. While most critics were bashing some dumb kid barely out of high school, they were ignoring the supposedly grown man (who’s married with kids of his own, by the way) whose own antics really were a lot worse than anything Miley Cyrus could do on her most Lady Gaga-esque day.
What the FUCK, people?
Are people’s priorities really this skewed? Is there nothing left of American culture but vapid, shallow obsessions with matters that, in a sane world, wouldn’t even merit mention on the nightly news? Chris Matthews bitches about how unqualified he thinks Anthony Weiner is to be mayor of New York City for trading dirty pictures with his mistress over the cellular phone, even as he ignores the likes of Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh, David Vitter, and Larry Craig, all of whom have been caught cheating on their wives, and yet never do I hear Matthews declaring that for this they ought to drop out of politics altogether. Then again, Matthews embodies everything that is wrong with American journalism today: shallow, vapid, craven, and sucking up to power regardless of how criminal those in power are.
While the world goes to hell in a hand basket, more people are talking about Miley Cyrus, the no-talent daughter of a no-talent country singer whose sole claim to fame was standing around in an open flannel shirt twanging a guitar repeating “achy breaky heart” as though that qualifies as music.
Am I the only goddamned grownup left in this country? No. But days like today, I feel like I am.
The US government works closely with thousands of corporations to bring you everything from national security to the drivers of climate change. The connections between these entities are diverse and often quite opaque making it difficult for citizens to tell who is really in charge. Is it the corporations with their ultimate responsibility to make a profit for their owners and shareholders, or is it the government with its ultimate responsibility to the electorate? Do the principles of government or business apply to joint decision making processes when government invests in businesses and sits on their boards, or when government agencies have representatives of business sit on task forces and decision making structures?
The economist and moral philosopher Adam Smith wrote, “people of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.”
What happens when the interests of business and government so align, that they are fundamentally, “in the same business?”
Disclosures by whistleblowers have led to a heightened interest by the press in these government-corporate linkages particularly in relation to intelligence gathering. Bloomberg recently posted this article which describes in some detail cooperation between government spies and industry:
Thousands of technology, finance and manufacturing companies are working closely with U.S. national security agencies, providing sensitive information and in return receiving benefits that include access to classified intelligence, four people familiar with the process said. …
Makers of hardware and software, banks, Internet security providers, satellite telecommunications companies and many other companies also participate in the government programs. … Along with the NSA, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and branches of the U.S. military have agreements with such companies to gather data that might seem innocuous but could be highly useful in the hands of U.S. intelligence or cyber warfare units, according to the people, who have either worked for the government or are in companies that have these accords. …
Some U.S. telecommunications companies willingly provide intelligence agencies with access to facilities and data offshore that would require a judge’s order if it were done in the U.S., one of the four people said. [hmmm. think carefully about the ramifications of that statement, could the spy agencies just maybe be evading the law on collecting our information by collecting it from outside of our borders? pfffttt]… The extensive cooperation between commercial companies and intelligence agencies is legal and reaches deeply into many aspects of everyday life, though little of it is scrutinized by more than a small number of lawyers, company leaders and spies.
The article also points out the minimal oversight that these programs receive and quotes Senator Rockefeller’s cybersecurity assistant explaining that most congresspeople and their staffs charged with overseeing these programs lack the technical background and expertise to fully understand what they are responsible for overseeing. Further, the article notes that within the companies that are entering into “arrangements” with the government, knowledge of these agreements is very closely held, suggesting that corporate governance structures are undermined and unable to perform their duty to oversee the activities of their corporation or withhold consent in behalf of the (kept in the dark) shareholders for actions taken by management. The secrecy involved creates a situation where loosely supervised government officials are allowed to compel or conspire with corporate chieftains to hijack corporations and undermine democratic governance structures.
Many of the corporations that have cooperated with the government are now, since being exposed, struggling with the public relations fallout that has come from customers finding out that the corporations have helped the government spy on them. Surely they understood this risk, which is why many of these corporations demanded legal immunity for their cooperation.
So what made it worth the risk, because, as the Bloomberg article reveals, much of the participation by these firms was voluntary? From the same article:
Michael Hayden, who formerly directed the National Security Agency and the CIA, described the attention paid to important company partners: “If I were the director and had a relationship with a company who was doing things that were not just directed by law but were also valuable to the defense of the Republic, I would go out of my way to thank them and give them a sense as to why this is necessary and useful.”
Ah, there was a corporate rewards program…
One is left to speculate about what sort of rewards might be handed out to corporations from a government with trillions of dollars to spend. They probably aren’t just giving out key chains and coffee mugs. Hmmm… Facebook cooperates with the NSA. Was its precipitous rise in the market due to Zuckerberg’s ideas and business acumen or… something else?
Freddie Peacock of Rochester, New York, was convicted of rape in 1976. Last week he became the 250th person to be exonerated by DNA testing since 1989. According to a new report by the Innocence Project, those 250 prisoners served 3,160 years between them; 17 spent time on death row. Remarkably, 67 percent of them were convicted after 2000-a decade after the onset of modern DNA testing. The glaring question here is, How many more are there?
The meeting had all the hallmarks of an ordinary Congressional hearing. There was Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, discussing the problems faced by ordinary citizens mistakenly placed on terrorist watch lists. Then, to the astonishment of the crowd attending a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday, Mr. Kennedy offered himself up as Exhibit A.
Between March 1 and April 6, airline agents tried to block Mr. Kennedy from boarding airplanes on five occasions because his name resembled an alias used by a suspected terrorist who had been barred from flying on airlines in the United States, his aides and government officials said.
Instead of acknowledging the craggy-faced, silver-haired septuagenarian as the Congressional leader whose face has flashed across the nation’s television sets for decades, the airline agents acted as if they had stumbled across a fanatic who might blow up an American airplane. Mr. Kennedy said they refused to give him his ticket.
“He said, ‘We can’t give it to you,’ ” Mr. Kennedy said, describing an encounter with an airline agent to the rapt audience. ” ‘You can’t buy a ticket to go on the airline to Boston.’ I said, ‘Well, why not?’ He said, ‘We can’t tell you.’ “
Hoping to prove the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was under the influence of Communists, the FBI kept the civil rights leader under constant surveillance.
The agency’s hidden tape recorders turned up almost nothing about communism.
But they did reveal embarrassing details about King’s sex life — details the FBI was able to use against him.
The almost fanatical zeal with which the FBI pursued King is disclosed in tens of thousands of FBI memos from the 1960s. …
When King learned he would be the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, the FBI decided to take its harassment of King one step further, sending him an insulting and threatening note anonymously. A draft was found in the FBI files years later. In it the FBI wrote, “You are a colossal fraud and an evil, vicious one at that.” The letter went on to say, “The American public … will know you for what you are — an evil, abnormal beast,” and “Satan could not do more.”
The letter’s threat was ominous, if not specific: “King you are done.” Some have theorized the intent of the letter was to drive King to commit suicide in order to avoid personal embarrassment. “King, there is only one thing left for you to do,” the letter concluded. “You know what it is … You better take it before your filthy, abnormal fraudulent self is bared to the nation.”
Despite pledges by President George W. Bush and American intelligence officials to the contrary, hundreds of US citizens overseas have been eavesdropped on as they called friends and family back home, according to two former military intercept operators who worked at the giant National Security Agency (NSA) center in Fort Gordon, Georgia. …
“These were just really everyday, average, ordinary Americans who happened to be in the Middle East, in our area of intercept and happened to be making these phone calls on satellite phones,” said Adrienne Kinne, a 31-year old US Army Reserves Arab linguist assigned to a special military program at the NSA’s Back Hall at Fort Gordon from November 2001 to 2003.
She said US military officers, American journalists and American aid workers were routinely intercepted and “collected on” as they called their offices or homes in the United States. …
Faulk says he and others in his section of the NSA facility at Fort Gordon routinely shared salacious or tantalizing phone calls that had been intercepted, alerting office mates to certain time codes of “cuts” that were available on each operator’s computer.
“Hey, check this out,” Faulk says he would be told, “there’s good phone sex or there’s some pillow talk, pull up this call, it’s really funny, go check it out.
The impassioned speeches of labor organizer, Socialist leader and five-time presidential candidate Eugene V. Debs were nothing short of evangelical in tone and effect. (He once called socialism “merely Christianity in action.”) Debs inspired groups large and small, and his remarkable charisma is what most concerned the powers that were. …
According to historian Ernest Freeberg, it was precisely Debs’ virtuosity that forced America to grapple with the limits of dissent. In 1918, Debs was convicted under the recently minted Espionage Act for questioning America’s entry into World War I. …
“People should go ahead and obey the law, keep their mouths shut, and let the government run the war.” Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. dismissed criticism of the court’s unanimous ruling against Debs as “a lot of jaw about free speech.”
Documents released today by the American Civil Liberties Union reveal new details of Pentagon surveillance of Americans opposed to the Iraq war, including Quakers and student groups. The documents show that the Pentagon was keeping tabs on non-violent protesters by collecting information and storing it in a military anti-terrorism database.
A Department of Homeland Security division produced daily briefings on “peaceful activist demonstrations” during the height of the Occupy Wall Street protests, documents released Tuesday revealed.
The 252 pages of documents were obtained in a March 14 letter from DHS by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, which in November 2011 launched a campaign to unearth public records that would show whether the federal government was spying on Occupy Wall Street. FBI records obtained by the group in December showed that the bureau investigated Occupy as a potential “domestic terrorism” threat.
“Taken together, the two sets of documents paint a disturbing picture of federal law enforcement agencies using their vast power in a systematic effort to surveil and disrupt peaceful demonstrations,” Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, said in a statement. “The federal agencies’ actions were not because Occupy represented a ‘terrorist threat’ or a ‘criminal threat,’ but rather because it posed a significant grassroots political challenge to the status quo.”
Conversations host Harry Kreisler welcomes writer Glenn Greenwald for a discussion of his new book, “With Liberty and Justice for Some.” Greenwald traces his intellectual odyssey; analyzes the relationship between principle, power, and law; and describes the erosion of the rule of law in the United States. Highlighting the degree to which the legal system frees the powerful from accountability while harshly treating the powerless, Greenwald describes the origins of the current system, its repudiation of American ideals, and the mechanisms which sustain it. He then analyzes the media’s abdication of its role as watchdog role. He concludes with a survey of the the record of the Obama administration in fulfilling its mandate, argues for an alternative politics, and offers advice for students as they prepare for the future. Series: “Conversations with History”
If you follow my website (CandyBullets) you’re probably well aware of the threat posed by the “IP PROTECT ACT” known more commonly as the Internet Blacklist bill. You’re may also be aware that this bill was recently halted in the Senate by the true Democrat Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) who prevented the bill from coming up for a vote in the Senate (where it would doubtless pass) however a House version will be introduced this week with help of Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) — probably tomorrow. If you’re not familiar with this bill then I suggest you become acquainted (the full text of the bill may be found here.)
It was once said about the much over analyzed movie Last Tango In Paris that it was a simple movie at heart: a movie about real estate, two people who want an apartment and will do anything to get it. In a similar vane Protect IP is also simple: it is merely the latest in a long line of slovenly hand-outs to corporations at the expense of your civil rights; it would give the Government broad, censorious new powers to shut down any site merely accused of Copyright Infringement and fuck the concept of innocent until proven guilty, yes, the PROTECT IP ACT authorizes an alleged “rights holder” who decides to claim to be the victim of the “infringement” to bring an action against the owner, registrant, or Internet site “dedicated to infringement”, whether domestic or foreign, and seek a court order against the domain name registrant, owner, or the domain name. The DOJ version however can apply against ISPs, search engines, ad providers and payment processors.
Of course corporate America, what were the founding fathers thinking? Of course you must be given permission to shut down YouTube and Facebook so that no one can potentially infringe upon your Copyrights. I recall Franklin making a remark about trading liberty for safety. This bill would criminalize YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, Google+, Reddit, Digg, not least this site you’re reading this at. Any other site that uses user generated content. But you know, I’m glad to know that when conservative Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and nominal liberal Patrick Leahy’s (D-VT) delightfully bipartisan fascism was first shot down when they coauthored COICA (The Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act) these two adorable little corporate shills decided to take our criticisms into account. This time they remembered to ban criticism. Their new “PROTECT IP ACT” retains the blacklist of websites our “Democratic” Govenrment doesn’t wanting us looking at but ads a new one that we’ll just have to take a moment to marvel at: It bans people from even being able to discuss blacklisted sites. Under the new bill, anyone “referring or linking” to a blacklisted site will be Blacklisted themselves.
Yes this “bunker-buster bluster bomb” (h/t Ron Wyden) far past simply requiring these other service providers from blocking service, this new law will require search engines to censor sites out of their index. Now please understand, “infringing websites” is in no way defined in a reasonable way — the bill is not being specific about what constitutes an infringing web sites. For example if WikiLeaks or any similar organization were merely accused of distributing copyrighted content, U.S. search engines could be served a court order to BLOCK search results pointing to Wikileaks. Requiring search engines to remove links to an entire website altogether due to an infringing page raises alarming free speech concerns regarding lawful content hosted elsewhere on the site. The fact that an injunction can be issued without notifying the allegedly, supposedly infringing website essentially destroys the entire legal “presumption of innocence”, there is no innocent until proven guilty with this bill.
Considering that [the column] is supposed to be about [Dems] regaining the initiative, it’s pretty weak to lecture the White House about its tendency to defend itself and “the left” about never being satisfied. Those things aren’t going to change. We can be critical of that reality, but we ought not offer it up as something to fix so that we can get our mojo back.
In fact it is not something to fix. The White House should tout its accomplishments. They are in the politics business after all. And people dissatisfied with what the White House is doing should say so and work to make them do what they want. That’s how it works. But both Booman and Dionne miss the connection between the political problems Dems have and the economic policies of the Obama Administration.
And these failures explain almost all of the political trouble the Democrats are in. Booman writes:
There are two things that will help us get our mojo back: Speaker Boehner and Obama’s reelection campaign. That’s all we need. And improving economy would be nice, but realistically we are going to be fighting over who is to blame for high unemployment and who has a better plan to get something through Congress that will create jobs.
(Emphasis supplied.) If that is where the political battle is going to be fought, then the Dems’ political fortunes do not look bright.
“An improving economy would be nice but realistically we are going to be fighting over who is to blame for high unemployment”?
Booman of course and as usual has his finger on the pulse of reality, and like many strong Obama supporters knows deep in his heart that it’s far more important for them to “win” than it is to have the administration produce results, even if he has to lose to win.
The poll results indicate that “Americans overwhelmingly think that WikiLeaks is doing more harm than good by releasing classified U.S. diplomatic cables, and they want to see the people behind it prosecuted”