Current location: up north
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 27,110
Current location: up north
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 27,110
If you've clicked on my profile to see what it says, here's what you should know: The older I get, the more radical I get -- and I've already gotten pretty damn old.
Our system of privately-funded election campaigns has created a closed loop, unvirtuous circle of unrestricted influence by and for the Owner Class throughout every governmental institution.
No fundamental systemic changes are possible while this paradigm is in place.
Posted by scarletwoman | Sun Jul 7, 2013, 03:42 PM (0 replies)
For me, one of the most important parts of Snowden's relevations is not just what they show about the extent of the NSA's surveillance, but the fact that this data collection has been placed in the hands of private contractors.
Private companies are being paid billions of taxpayer dollars and are profiting handsomely for doing NSA's dirty work. The current head of Booz Allen, the contractor who employed Snowden, is Mike McConnell, former head of the NSA. The current head of the NSA used to work for the Booz Allen. This incestuous revolving door relationship between private, for-profit corporations and government agencies basically guarantees that (a) funding for these operations will continue to grow, and (b) the War on Terror (which is the current raison d'etre for this whole surveillance apparatus) will never end, since it contributes so nicely to the private contractors' bottom line.
Aside from the scope of the surveillance itself, there's something very wrong here in regard to the whole paradigm of corporate/government entwinement. The trend is already well underway to treat activists and protestors as "terrorists" if they object to such things as environmental destruction (Fracking, Keystone Pipeline), animal cruelty (factory farms and slaughterhouses), or GMO crops (Monsanto).
It's not just the "Military Industrial Complex" that Eisenhower warned us about. It has now morphed into the Military Intelligence Complex, which cannot be anything but anathema to a "Republic of the People, by the People, and for the People." When the government can use its secret surveillance capability to treat its own people as potential threats, we are no longer living in a free democracy.
Posted by scarletwoman | Sun Jun 23, 2013, 05:32 PM (3 replies)
It knows no bounds. Like cancer cells it grows and reproduces in endless progression. It lives within its own bubble of self-justification. The government may direct it to chosen targets, but it cannot control it because the apparatus can just as easily turn its powers to the destruction of the agents of the government.
Since the end of WWII (at least) we've allowed this monster to grow uncontrolled in the shadows, until it has attained unimaginable powers and scope. When there is no where left to hide, what is there to do?
There is a story - to my regret I don't remember it very well, but the details probably don't matter so much - that I heard many years ago when I lived in Alaska. It was about a people, an indigenous tribe, who were being pursued by foreign invaders who would enslave them. The tribe's last hiding place was on a small island, not much more than a bit of rock with tall cliffs all around. Eventually the invaders reached the island and began to climb the cliffs. Seeing that no further escape was possible, and determined that slavery was not an option, the entire tribe - men, women, children - leaped off the cliffs to their deaths.
What will we do to resist our slavery to the military/intelligence complex?
Posted by scarletwoman | Wed Jun 12, 2013, 11:05 PM (1 replies)
They Thought They Were Free
"What no one seemed to notice," said a colleague of mine, a philologist, "was the ever widening gap, after 1933, between the government and the people. Just think how very wide this gap was to begin with, here in Germany. And it became always wider. You know, it doesn’t make people close to their government to be told that this is a people’s government, a true democracy, or to be enrolled in civilian defense, or even to vote. All this has little, really nothing, to do with knowing one is governing.
"What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could not understand it, it could not be released because of national security. And their sense of identification with Hitler, their trust in him, made it easier to widen this gap and reassured those who would otherwise have worried about it.
"This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, took place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised (perhaps not even intentionally) as a temporary emergency measure or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real social purposes. And all the crises and reforms (real reforms, too) so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter.
"To live in this process is absolutely not to be able to notice it—please try to believe me—unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us had ever had occasion to develop. Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, ‘regretted,’ that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these ‘little measures’ that no ‘patriotic German’ could resent must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head.
"How is this to be avoided, among ordinary men, even highly educated ordinary men? Frankly, I do not know. I do not see, even now. Many, many times since it all happened I have pondered that pair of great maxims, Principiis obsta and Finem respice—‘Resist the beginnings’ and ‘Consider the end.’ But one must foresee the end in order to resist, or even see, the beginnings. One must foresee the end clearly and certainly and how is this to be done, by ordinary men or even by extraordinary men? Things might have. And everyone counts on that might.
Amid Data Controversy, NSA Builds Its Biggest Data Farm
As privacy advocates and security experts debate the validity of the National Security Agency's massive data gathering operations, the agency is putting the finishing touches on its biggest data farm yet.
The gargantuan $1.2 billion complex at a National Guard base 26 miles south of Salt Lake City features 1.5 million square feet of top secret space. High-performance NSA computers alone will fill up 100,000 square feet.
The Utah Data Center is a data farm that will begin harvesting emails, phone records, text messages and other electronic data in September.
Yes, I realize I've broken Godwin's Law with this post. Can't be helped. Think about this - The NSA gets $1.2 billion to build this gigantic data gathering center, while food stamps are cut, while Meals on Wheels are cut, while cuts to Social Security are being proposed. Because those programs are too expensive, because government is "too big".
The National Security State is stealing from all us - not just our data, but our common wealth, our prosperity, our prospects for forming a "more perfect union".
Please, consider the end.
Posted by scarletwoman | Tue Jun 11, 2013, 11:32 PM (20 replies)
IMHO, this ought to be required reading for anyone who wants to understand the workings of the National Security State, and the unholy alliance between our government and the Plutocrats. I used to post this piece semi-regularly on DU1, and once or twice on DU2, but it seems to me - in light of the current NSA controversy - it might be useful to post it again.
This piece is somewhat dated - Steve Kangas died in 1999 - however, the history he outlines of the confluence of Big Business/Wall Street is still valid as a primer to understanding the origins of what is happening today, when private contractors are collecting data for the NSA.
The wealthy have always used many methods to accumulate wealth, but it was not until the mid-1970s that these methods coalesced into a superbly organized, cohesive and efficient machine. After 1975, it became greater than the sum of its parts, a smooth flowing organization of advocacy groups, lobbyists, think tanks, conservative foundations, and PR firms that hurtled the richest 1 percent into the stratosphere.
The origins of this machine, interestingly enough, can be traced back to the CIA. This is not to say the machine is a formal CIA operation, complete with code name and signed documents. (Although such evidence may yet surface — and previously unthinkable domestic operations such as MK-ULTRA, CHAOS and MOCKINGBIRD show this to be a distinct possibility.) But what we do know already indicts the CIA strongly enough. Its principle creators were Irving Kristol, Paul Weyrich, William Simon, Richard Mellon Scaife, Frank Shakespeare, William F. Buckley, Jr., the Rockefeller family, and more. Almost all the machine's creators had CIA backgrounds.
During the 1970s, these men would take the propaganda and operational techniques they had learned in the Cold War and apply them to the Class War. Therefore it is no surprise that the American version of the machine bears an uncanny resemblance to the foreign versions designed to fight communism. The CIA's expert and comprehensive organization of the business class would succeed beyond their wildest dreams. In 1975, the richest 1 percent owned 22 percent of America’s wealth . By 1992, they would nearly double that, to 42 percent — the highest level of inequality in the 20th century (my note: obviously it's gotten even worse in 2013).
How did this alliance start? The CIA has always recruited the nation’s elite: millionaire businessmen, Wall Street brokers, members of the national news media, and Ivy League scholars. During World War II, General "Wild Bill" Donovan became chief of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the forerunner of the CIA. Donovan recruited so exclusively from the nation’s rich and powerful that members eventually came to joke that "OSS" stood for "Oh, so social!"
Please take a few minutes to read the whole piece. It's a bit of historical knowledge that everyone ought to be aware of.
Posted by scarletwoman | Sun Jun 9, 2013, 10:04 PM (25 replies)
is that fucking PRIVATE CONTRACTORS are carrying out this surveillance. PRIVATE CONTRACTORS who are beholden to no-one, who work for PROFIT, whose owners amass huge fortunes doing the bidding of the MIC/National Security State - THESE are the people who are being given access to all this data collection!
THESE are the people who can spend whatever they like IN SECRET to influence our elections and our entire political process. THESE are the people who can spend endless money on lobbyists to make sure that THEY get Defense Department contracts, who can spend endless money on lobbyists to make sure that secret surveillance continues to be approved by Congress.
Do you really think this just fine, just peachy? Do you really think that THIS is how a true democracy should work? Do you really think that giving private, for profit companies access to the apparatus of State Security is okay? Do you really think we should just trust THEM?
I mean - SHIT!
Posted by scarletwoman | Sun Jun 9, 2013, 08:04 PM (144 replies)
It's about our rights, as U.S. citizens, to be able to witness a fair and open trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. It's about our rights to have knowledge of the evidence, of the arguments, of how the proceedings unfold.
It's about our rights to know exactly what case is being made by the State on our behalf - what the questions are, what the answers are. We are the "People" in any court proceeding framed as "The People vs. ____________". It's OUR right to have the trial take place in open court. WE are the injured party.
The idiot assholes on the right who want to whisk Dzhokhar off to Gitmo for a trial by military tribunal not only want to curtail HIS Constitutional rights, they want to curtail OURS as well, by denying us access to a public trial, conducted in the open.
I don't care how you feel about the bomber himself, you need at least to speak up loud and clear for OUR rights to have his trial open and accessable to all of us.
Posted by scarletwoman | Sun Apr 21, 2013, 12:46 PM (37 replies)
"I'm not a hypocrite. I spoke ill of her when she was alive & I'll speak ill of her now she's dead."
"I'll tell you what really annoyed us miners," said Pete Mansell, sipping a pint of John Smith's on Monday. "She said we were the enemy within. We weren't. We were just looking after our lives, our families, our kids and our properties, everything that we ever had. We were fighting for that big style."
Along with most of the other men drinking in the Black Bull pub in Aughton, Rotherham, the 55-year-old former pit worker had borne witness to the fiercest confrontation in the miners strike at the nearby Orgreave coking plant on 18 June 1984.
Almost 30 years have gone by since Margaret Thatcher characterised those who took part in the "battle of Orgreave" as thugs. But in a village that one drinker said had been "decimated by Thatcher", the words still cut deep. It is perhaps no surprise that those gathered in the pub were having what they described as a party after hearing about her death.
There were 95 miners arrested at Orgreave and prosecuted for riot, a charge that carried the potential for a long prison sentence up to a maximum of life. But a year later, on 17 July 1985, all 95 were acquitted. The prosecution withdrew, from the first trial of 15, after police gave unconvincing accounts in the witness box: it became clear that the miners had themselves been attacked by police on horses or with truncheons, and there was evidence that a police officer's signature on a statement had been forged.
I strongly encourage DUers to go to the link and read the whole piece - especially those who are too young to remember what was going on in those days when Thatcher was in power.
Bonus pic - here's Steve Bell's (Brit cartoonist) eulogy for Thatcher:
All I will say is, I hope she has gone on to the reward she so richly deserves.
Posted by scarletwoman | Mon Apr 8, 2013, 09:05 PM (13 replies)
Because they want to contribute to the upkeep of their parish church. They want to help pay for the heat and lights and the maintenance on the church building. They want to help pay for the room and board of their parish priest. They also want to help pay for whatever charitable projects their parish may be undertaking - shelter for the homeless, clothes for impoverished children, food for impoverished families, outreach to addicts, to those living on the streets, refuge for illegal immigrants.
But mostly, they just want to help support their sense of community with their fellow parishoners. They want to preserve their church as a gathering place, as a place of prayer and communion.
They aren't thinking about the far away institution of Vatican dictates and Vatican politics. They just want to help pay for the heat and electricity needed to keep their church functioning. They want to help pay for repairs to the roof so that it doesn't leak.
The attack on Catholics because they drop a few dollars a week into the collection plate at mass is absurd. They're not doing it because they approve of the heirarchy in Rome, or because they love the Cardinals and the Bishops, they're only doing it because they want to support their own parish community.
I was raised Catholic, I went to Catholic school for the first 8 years of my schooling - and for this I will always be grateful. I was privileged to receive a truly classic education, with a wider range of liberal arts training than any of my public school peers ever received. The Latin training alone led me to a lifelong appreciation of etymology and love of language and history.
While I left the Church behind nearly 50 years ago, I do not at all regret my early years within the Catholic tradition. It's complicated, and I'm glad for the complication - it has challenged me and stretched me, and has made me always appreciative of complexity and subtilty.
I have no patience with the RCC heirarchy - those narrow hypocritical males in their robes and and their thoroughly fucked up morality. But I have plenty of compassion for the ordinary Catholics who attend mass on Sunday and drop a few dollars into the collection plate so that the heat stays on in their church building during the winter.
Posted by scarletwoman | Wed Mar 20, 2013, 09:36 PM (203 replies)
The man whom Bobby Kennedy called "the most decent man in the Senate" turns 90 today.
The worst thing that ever happened to the Democratic party in this country is that, when McGovern lost so big to history's yard waste in 1972, the rest of the party was complicit in turning him — and the politics he represented — into a punchline for the next 20 years. He was the template. He was the first war-hero Democrat — you don't fly 35 missions in a B-24 and come away with a DFC without a big clanging pair of brass ones, kids — who was accused of being a wimp by a flock of chickenhawks. (Ronald Reagan? Who kept the bar at the Brown Derby safe from Nazi occupation? Please to be giving me a break.) He was the first liberal Democrat against whom other opportunistic Democrats bragged about running. He was turned into a synonym for something he was not. He was the vehicle through which Democrats taught other Democrats to be terrified of all their best instincts and all their best policies. Through it all, he remained exactly what Bobby Kennedy said he was, and more.
And, just for the eternal historical record, because of the invaluable work of Stanley Kutler, we find that, on July 19, 1972, George McGovern's 50th birthday, the man he was running against had a meeting with his aide, Chuck Colson, in which they chatted amiably about how the Watergate cover-up was going as regards Howard Hunt, the White House aide who hired and supervised the burglars.
Nixon: What's will he say then?
Nixon is dead. Colson is dead. Hunt is dead. The most decent man in the Senate turns 90 today.
Sometimes, god's on duty.
Great comments at the link, too.
McGovern in '72 was my first general election vote. And as one of the commenters on Pierce's blog says, it was the one time I voted FOR a candidate.
Posted by scarletwoman | Thu Jul 19, 2012, 08:47 PM (12 replies)