Peace Patriot's Journal
Member since: Sat Nov 13, 2004, 01:56 AM
Number of posts: 23,936
Number of posts: 23,936
...that the U.S.A. has become. Eisenhower (of all people) gave us the phrase "military-industrial complex" (MIC) and warned, in his last speech in office, that the MIC would destroy our democracy. It's become a handy phrase for the vipers' nest of war profiteers who run things now, but the phrase itself (great as it is) doesn't adequately describe the consequences to civil society and to allegedly civilian-run government of a country run by, skillfully propagandized by and massively looted by immensely powerful, transnational, anti-democratic corporations, war profiteers and banksters.
When we learn of something like this--that the "CIA" was tracking Noam Chomsky--we, in a sense, dismiss it. We are used to stories about "CIA" violations of their alleged legal constraints on domestic activity (let alone the horrors they commit elsewhere). They may even release such stories as a sort of inoculation process, to induce a "ho-hum" attitude in the controlled populace. Nothing ever comes of these news items. Whatever the "CIA" offense, it just gets swallowed up in the great corporate news monopoly river of forgetfulness. We need to ask WHY THIS HAPPENS. Why and how does this 'out-of-control' agency just keep on keeping on, from one generation to the next, from one outrage to the next, even in the face of 'investigations' (rare to non-existent these days) and big 'scandals' and 'controversies'?
The "CIA" would not and could not keep violating the law, time and again, decade after decade, unless they were deeply rooted in the "MIC"--in the system of war profiteering and massive looting that has transformed our country from a democracy into a militocracy (there's a word!). But, more than this, there is a massive root system sucking nutrients out of the populace, feeding a big branching tree above ground--the visible part of the system--that we can't see. We can't see the whole structure. We see its visible parts, its effects. We can't follow the underground veins in this system that suck our lifeblood into the "tree"--that, say, connect the Senator to the Pentagon 'contractor' to the controls on the Senator in a file somewhere in Langley, or to, say, ES&S (monopoly over U.S. voting machines, all run on 'TRADE SECRET' code*) or the Miami mafia's or the Bush Cartel's use of the "war on drugs" to eliminate their rivals.
There are all these subterranean connections that GIVE the "CIA"--and now, every U.S. agency (the NSA, the FBI, the DEA, et al, entertwined with private, transglobal corporations)--the PROTECTION to do WHATEVER is deemed necessary to perpetuate the power, the looting and the farce that 'our government' has become. Vast domestic spying, natch. That goes without saying. And that very reaction--that it "goes without saying"--is a DESIRED reaction. (Talk about "Catch 22.") Nothing will be done about this, nor about the PURPOSES of the vast domestic spying. We are helpless before it. There is NO HOPE that anything will be done.
I hate to insult Nature by comparing what I'm trying to describe to a big, spreading oak tree, with a big spreading underground root system. Others have called it an "octopus." But neither image is fair to innocent trees or wild life. This gigantic war machine is our own human creation. We are all part of it, in one way another. But we, as a people, do NOT have ANY control over it. Each of us is just one cell in the roots or the trunk, carrying nutrients (our money, our work, our families, our communities) from the part of the system we can't see into the part of the system we can see, to our dismay--the wars that nobody wants, the vast imprisonment of the poor, the vast disenfranchisement of the poor, insurance corp-run health care, the wreckage of our educational system, a billion dollars to run for 'president,' etc., etc.
We can't seem to do anything about any of these things. Why? WHY?
There is no adequate name for this that I know of. The "police state." The "surveillance state." The "military-industrial complex." The United States of American Fascism? "Fascism" seems an antique word that calls up visions of strutting, military-clad dictators. This is much, much harder to see--much bigger, much more devious and much harder to fight. How do you fight a 'tree'--an entity with a vast, unseeable, only guessable, entrenched root system?
To continue the insult to Nature: You can cut down the tree, but the root system remains, making the land untillable. Worse, though, cutting down the tree is catastrophic--because we are all living cells in this system. Even the crazy jihadists, who would whack it down if they could, are part of the 'tree' they would fell. They may not want to be, but they are. This is a world problem, not just a domestic problem. (Just one for instance: The "CIA" CREATED Al Qaeda, in the '80s, to evict the Soviet Union from Afghanistan! 'WE' CREATED Al Qaeda!). The underground root system of this 'fascist' 'tree' feeds on conflict and CREATES the conflict that it feeds on.
How could the disaster of the U.S. war on Iraq have occurred? And another important question: What was the nature of the internal war between Pentagon and the CIA that Rumsfeld/Cheney started (and that I think was ended by Leon Panetta, under commission from Bush Sr.)? (Panetta was a member of Bush Sr.'s "Iraq Study Group," i.e., "old CIA.") Both things are hidden, deep down in the root system of this evil tree. (Sorry, Mother Nature!) We will NEVER see anything about either question in the corporate press. But these are among the most important questions, because they lead to the root system from which visible things--like Snowden's NSA spying revelations--emerge.**
As for naming what our country has become, there is no historical precedent that is adequate. We see aspects of the Roman Empire here, chilling hints of Nazi Germany there, resemblance to prior Oligarchies, to the "Robber Baron" era, to the British Empire and the East India Company, to Early and Medieval Europe (the Church's international power and propaganda machine), to Bourbon rule in France, and more. If you read and understand history, you have to be very, very worried that the U.S. is simply repeating the ills of the past inflicted by the rich and powerful on everybody else.
But I think that what we are seeing is something new, by way of governmental ills. It is bigger and scarier than anything that has happened before, because it is so hard to see, and because it has been so clever at maintaining an illusion of consent (as Chomsky has, of course, pointed out); also, because of its sheer power--military/nuclear and economic/political--on a global scale.
For me, the ES&S monopoly over vote counting is the most egregious (and obvious--to me, anyway) example of "how to manufacture consent." You make it SEEM LIKE people voted that way. Wow! What evil brilliance! You CAN'T SEE IT. The vote counting is invisible ('TRADE SECRET' code). And the entire subject has been 'black-holed' in the corporate press (who, if they were a real press corps, would have have exposed this long ago--would have screamed it from the rooftops!)
I'm going to propose a name for what I'm trying to describe: The Unspeakable.
I recommend James Douglass' book, "JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters." I think we need to begin, back then, in the modern era, understand what happened THEN (and Douglass really does understand it--I'd put him right up there with Daniel Ellsberg, among the most reliable truthtellers we have), to understand what's happening now and what our country has become NOW. Why. It. Matters.
The Unspeakable Empire.
*(Another interesting root trail: Chuck Hagel, current Sec of Defense, was one of the founders of the original ES&S--e-voting with no paper trail--which did the so-called 'counting' of votes in his first Senate election. ES&S (which bought out Diebold) now has a 75% monopoly over U.S. voting systems, all run on 'TRADE SECRET' code. Half the states do NO AUDIT AT ALL (comparison of actual ballots to machine totals) and the other half do only an extremely inadequate 1% audit. So, the guy who helped invent/install all this--privatized vote 'counting'--and who first benefited from it, has now been elevated to front man for the "military-industrial complex," i.e., the Pentagon. Where did he come from? Who groomed him for this role? I'm thinking, vaguely, "CIA," but I don't really know. WHO can do this? CREATE candidates, put them in office, elevate them, write the 'narrative' of their successes, and send all the connections into the river of forgetfulness? The "CIA" is a convenient umbrella word. But I don't think that it, or the "MIC," is adequate.
(I had to laugh the other day when Hillary Clinton called for election reform. NOT included: getting rid of Hagel's 'TRADE SECRET' voting systems!) (See for yourself: http://www.democraticunderground.com/1014563686. The vote suppression tactics she's talking about would not be possible if ES&S was not installing fascist Pukes into high state offices. She DOESN'T attack the root--she attacks the branch. There is a part we can see and a part we can't see--the unspeakable part. Our Democratic leaders don't dare attack the root problem, because THAT root problem is connected to all the other root problems, in the unseeable system of control. If she DID strike at the root, she would be quickly smeared and removed from the corporate news gabble they call "politics" or--subtler yet--allow her to exhaust herself running for president and easily--EASILY!--fix the 'vote' to defeat her.)
**(I am currently thinking through the possibility that the Snowden revelations are actually an "inoculation" project of the "CIA." Reveal the worst (or some of the worst), get people used to it, induce despair over ever changing it, and keep on keeping on, with this outrage and the next, and all the ones we don't know about. I think it is a POSSIBILITY. That's all I'm saying. I want to stress this, because, a) Daniel Ellsberg has endorsed Snowden, and Daniel Ellsberg is one of THE most reliable truthtellers on this planet, and b) the FAR GREATER POSSIBILITY is that Snowden is simply one of our most courageous people and acted on his conscience--that is, he is exactly who he seems to be. There is a third possibility, that Snowden is exactly who he seems to be, but this entity I've been trying to describe--the root of all our problems, the unspeakable system of which the "CIA" is only one manifestation--PERMITTED him to do what he's done, for its own reasons ("inoculation" being one possible reason; controlling Obama and installing Jeb/Bush Junta II, next up, is another). We need to be very wary of public controversies conducted in the corporate media. We need to constantly question them--deeply question them--as Noam Chomsky and other great educators have taught us to do. There is the highly manipulated "play" that is presented to us, and there is the truth. We may grasp or infer bits and pieces of the truth from the "play" but the "play's" main narrative is grossly false--antithetical to our interests, anti-democratic, disempowering and wholly in service to the richest few, the Unspeakable cabal that is running things.)
Posted by Peace Patriot | Wed Aug 14, 2013, 02:06 PM (1 replies)
Their snotty presumptions and wrongness are over the top once again, when they're scribbling about (er, propagandizing about) the Latin American left.
As if better education means higher income, ergo, why are these educated people exercised over bus fares?
As if the better educated cannot fathom social justice, nor protest on behalf of themselves or the poor!
As if this movement is stymied by government and corporate 'news' deafness and callousness, like the Occupy movement, when in fact, they have already gotten lowered bus fares in several states and the sympathy of the leftist national government, with President Dilma Rousseff praising their efforts!
Plain and simple, this is Rotters' owners' WISHFUL THINKING! They want to demean and disempower these protestors, like they did Occupy, and they use nasty snotty little tricks to do so, as if this was reporting.
And the lede line "but" is really off the charts:
"Brazil's blossoming protest movement is a coming-of-age for what had been one of Latin America's most politically disengaged youth populations, but does not appear to constitute a major threat to governability or established political parties."
The truth: These protestors were polite and peaceful BECAUSE THEY KNOW THEY HAVE A GOVERNMENT THAT LISTENS! They DON'T WANT TO BE "a major threat" to government--they want ACTION, and they got it! They DON'T WANT TO BE "a major threat" to the Workers' Party--they ARE the Workers' Party or part of it.
Rotters' thinking is upside down, inside out and backwards, just like Alice's Wonderland. They aren't "a major threat" so they won't accomplish anything. If they don't want to overthrow the government, forget them--they're just "university educated" spoiled brats, in any case.
I don't call them Rotters for nothing.
Posted by Peace Patriot | Wed Jun 19, 2013, 11:59 PM (0 replies)
That's a writing error by Weisbrot, who is usually so incisive.
"This may not appear to be exactly a household issue, but the fight is a very significant one for a number of reasons." --from the OP
The "household" is where families, workers, the poor--society's majority--encounter the 1%'s 'home invasion' by the bankster thugs who steal food right out of the mouths of poor children, when they aren't enforcing corporate poisoning of everybody with pesticides and GMOs; who steal the schoolbooks right out of children's hands, by requiring the defunding of education and other social programs; who steal the pittance wages of their parents with required skyrocketing costs of public services (water, electricity, transportation, communication); who drive small local farmers out of business by dumping Big Ag produce on local markets, destroying entire traditions of local food production and the entirety of a country's food self-sufficiency--numerous family farm households obliterated, small farmers driven into urban squalor; who create massive, hopeless, extreme poverty with no chance at upward mobility (often resulting in poor teenagers turning to crime out of desperation, among other things), and who impact households with "privatization" and de-regulation of every kind (miner and other workplace safety, for instance--loss of breadwinners; lack of medical care for workers and the poor; corporate theft of a country's natural resources, the profit from which should be helping the country's people; vast damage to the environment, which harms the poor first and foremost), and on and on.
This very much IS a "household issue" though a lot of people may not know how personally and directly it affects them.
The very point of World Bank/IMF policy has been to loot and plunder the poor majority's households where they live, in every bill they pay, in every service they depend upon, in every tiny little bit of property they may have, and in their individual or collective power to influence government.
The fact that workers and the poor in victim countries AND HERE may not be familiar with WHO is wreaking all this havoc around the world, AND HERE, is the other part of the problem that Weisbrot goes on to describe in his normally brilliant and incisive way. I'm speaking of corporate control of the media. Corporate "Big Lies." Corporate disinformation. Corporate blackguarding of any leaders who dare to fight back on behalf of their people--and I have to say that the Guardian has been almost as guilty as the rest of the corporate media on blackguarding democratically elected Latin American leaders, like Hugo Chavez, who have helped drive the ruinous World Bank/IMF out of the region.
Saying that the World Bank/IMF may not be a "household issue" throws off to the side this other vital issue, by which, as a matter of fact, the corporate rulers ALSO invade homes, via corporate control of the broadcast airwaves (airwaves belonging to the public!) with non-stop propaganda and brainwashing on behalf of the local and global 1%, and the black-holing of information vital to the 99%. With a properly functioning "Fourth Estate," the World Bank/IMF thuggery would be common knowledge, "Bretton Woods" would be a household name, many other deliberately hidden 1%-er forces would be exposed and all of our democracies would be greatly improved.
Weisbrot writes about the new movement within the World Bank/IMF, by victim countries, and he does address a bit of corporate disinformation on this matter (and has generally been an awesome journalistic force against corporate lies):
"The financial press has inaccurately portrayed the fight as 'China seeks to water down key World Bank report' – the headline of the Financial Times's report on the controversy. But China is just one of many countries, and a latecomer at that, which have opposed the index within the Bank. Opposition has come from Brazil, Argentina, India and other developing countries." --from the OP (my emphasis)
But there is much more to corporate lies and disinformation, and the use of corporate news propaganda as cover for looting and plundering the poor, than this nasty little twisted bit about China and the World Bank. These ~!@#$-ing banksters are now after the Food Stamp Program here--the poor's last refuge against DEATH at the hands of the banksters. Follow THAT horror in Washington and understand how important World Bank/IMF "austerity" policies are to every poor, or increasingly poor, household in the U.S.!
Weisbrot's main point:
"...perhaps the greatest significance of this fight: developing countries are beginning to organise within the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in order to change policies. These two institutions have been controlled by Washington, with varying amounts of input from other rich countries, since their founding nearly seven decades ago. Many of their policies have been harmful to developing countries. But in contrast to the World Trade Organisation – where developing countries form blocs and fight for their interests – the world's majority has mostly let the rich countries run the show in the IMF and World Bank.
Again, we are not talking about general things here, or faraway global issues. We are talking food on the table--edible food, local food, nutrition--the devastation of the school system and slashed funding in all social programs--and all the devastation that the rich have perpetrated on the poor majority, in other countries, in our name, AND HERE. The World Bank/IMF "austerity for the poor while the rich get richer" program has HIT HERE. And this makes this movement within the World Bank, by victim countries, extremely relevant HERE, at OUR dinner tables, in OUR households, in all the bills WE pay, and all the services that WE are being robbed of, in catastrophic unemployment, in the shit-wages jobs, in the usurious thieving criminal banks and all the rest.
We also have U.S. wars that we are forced to pay for, with our hard, hard-earned money and our youngsters' lives. Other countries that are not direct victims of U.S. invasion do suffer from U.S. wars in various ways--including, for instance, the U.S. "war on drugs" (--high death tolls, diversion of resources, militarization of society, U.S. infiltration of victim country militaries and police forces, and outright use of the "war on drugs" for political/corporate purposes--such as the FIVE MILLION peasant farmers brutally displaced in Colombia), and, often, the U.S. "war on drugs" invasion is handmaiden to World Bank/IMF-enforced "austerity." But, more than any other country, we bear the direct cost of corporate-imperial wars--and "austerity" has been ADDED on top of this already unbearable burden, here.
We need more news about the rebellion against U.S./corporate financial aggression not only because we have a right to be informed, but also because we need a rebellion against it HERE. The loan policies that are being targeted by these rebellious countries--policies that are used to destroy their economies and societies--we see adopted HERE every day by our ES&S/Diebold (s)elected Congress and our Herbert Hoover-like president (lame, half-assed measures against the monstrous power of "organized money"--as FDR put it). THAT is most certainly becoming a "household issue" here, but we need to understand its origins in the out-of-control greed machine, spawned from our shores, that has been looting and plundering everybody else. And we need to learn from their rebellions, especially the one right here in the western hemisphere.
Posted by Peace Patriot | Sun Jun 2, 2013, 03:01 PM (1 replies)
...post-Bush Junta worldwide depression, and grew at a sizzling 10% for 5 straight years, pre-Bush Junta depression. Most of this growth is in the private sector and not including oil. (And Venezuela has had no trouble attracting oil investors, after Exxon Mobil quit the field in a snit over having to pay for social programs.)
My conclusion: These shortages in Venezuela are mainly caused by business HOARDERS. They've used that tactic before and I think they are using it now. I'm with the Venezuelan government on this. This is part of a concerted rightwing effort to destabilize the country.
A secondary reason is that the Venezuelan majority now has money to spend (high employment rate, good jobs, good wages/benefits, pensions for all, including street vendors and full-time mothers). As with the so-called energy "crisis" in Venezuela the problem is prosperity--higher demand for energy as the upwardly mobile poor class buys appliances they never could afford before, and are placing high demands on many product lines, including food and household items.
Oh my, the LIES that the Associated Pukes, the Economyst, Rotters and the Wall Street Urinal, and their ilk, tell about Venezuela!
In the recent Gallup Well-being poll, Venezuelans rated their own country FIFTH IN THE WORLD on their own sense of well-being and future prospects. 5th in the world! Our benighted corporate rulers are bent on killing that optimism, that upward mobility, that wealth-sharing, that prosperity for the many.
That is why we have Associated Pukes headlines about Venezuelan toilet paper.
Posted by Peace Patriot | Thu May 16, 2013, 03:55 PM (4 replies)
...and nary a whisper about them in the U.S. media!
Thank you for posting this news! It's notable that you had to go all the way to Malaysia to find a report on this important event--an historic first for women in Ecuador!
"...three women legislators from the ruling party were appointed to lead the parliament..."
The seating of the legislature, with a huge leftist majority--in a country that the U.S. tried to destabilize, and whose president, Rafael Correa, is second only to Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro in the U.S. media slander-fest against leftist presidents in Latin America--is also remarkable, historic, a big plus for the people of Ecuador and completely ignored by our benighted press.
In order to find real democracy these days, we have to look for it in the countries that the U.S. government and the corpo-fascist media slander as "dictatorships."
And we have to re-write the dictionary to understand how these entities use such words with regard to Latin America.
"Dictatorship" = a government of, by and for the people.
"Dictator" = honestly elected, FDR-type leader committed to "New Deal"-like policies of inclusion and wealth-sharing.
"human rights" = corporate rights;
"free speech" = speech for corporate media moguls and no one else;
"elections of leftists" = flawed, fraudulent;
rightwing coup d'etats = "legitimate" governments;
"democracy" = places where rightwing death squads can kill labor leaders and other leftists with impunity;
"free trade" = free trade for the rich while the poor get kicked "off the island"; and so forth.
Such words in the mouths of U.S. government officials and corpo-fascist media pontificators have come to mean the opposite of what they used to mean. We are heading full bore into a Stalinist "Big Lie" information environment--lies repeated so often they begin to seem like reality--certainly where Latin America is concerned, and it seems to be across the board on many issues.
The non-existent WMDs in Iraq was not a fluke. It was just the most egregious of MANY similar lies that are being told in the interest of transglobal corporations, banksters and war profiteers.
"Big Lie" methods include endless repetition of falsehoods and reversals and distortions of language (of the very meanings of words), AND "black holes" where information should be--burying real news in a place from which no light can emerge.
We have seen both of these methods--"Big Lie" falsehoods and "black-holing" of real information--escalate over the last decade, with regard to Latin America's huge democratic rebellion against U.S. rule. This is the most important political movement in half a century, and one of the most important ever. It is the true hope of the world as to democracy. It has transformed the political landscape in half of the western hemisphere for the better.
Nothing--NOTHING!--about it in the corporate media! --except for "Big Lie" reversals, distortions, jabberwocky and "black holes" where information should be.
It is APPALLING. The Fourth Estate is DEAD, except on the Internet (where the truth can be found, here and there).
Dead and rotting in its grave. I've been following this death agony over the last decade on Latin American issues and it is comprehensive. It includes virtually ALL news and opinion sources described by the phrase "mainstream media" (in truth, 1%-er media--not "mainstream" at all). And it is so bad that I have renamed them: The New York Slimes, the Associated Pukes, the Washington Psst, the Wall Street Urinal, the Miami Hairball, Rotters, the BBcons, the Economyst, Blobbovision and other Spanish language versions of same, and the alphabet soup of deception on TV/radio.
And lately--to my profound shock--it has even included the Guardian and the New Yorker! Egregious, unrepentant LYING in both of these once great publications.
Evidently, the desperate need of our corporate rulers to regain control of Latin America crosses "the Pond" and all intellectual barriers to outright frigging lies. Virtually every source of information we once relied upon is now tainted with greed, and perhaps also classicism and racism, with regard to Latin America.
It does all come down to money--theft of resources, banksterism, looting, war profiteering, privatization of "the commons," kicking the poor "off the island." Real democracy is THE most powerful force against greed and for decency and equality. Thus, if real democracy arises somewhere--as it has in Latin America--it must be demolished for the rich to get richer.
And, above all, it must be kept from spreading north!
That is a major goal of this comprehensive "Big Lie" campaign--to keep the people of the U.S., the people of England, and as many people as possible around the world, in complete ignorance of the rebirth of democracy in Latin America.
Because, if WE reclaim our democracy and sovereignty, like the Latin Americans are doing, it will mean sharing the wealth.
Posted by Peace Patriot | Thu May 16, 2013, 01:00 PM (2 replies)
"Part of the Transition to Socialism": Venezuela's Labour Law Comes into Effect
By RYAN MALLETT-OUTTRIM
Merida, May 10th 2013 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela's new Labour Law for Workers (Lottt) came into effect this week, guaranteeing shorter working hours, longer maternity leave and pensions for all Venezuelans.
Along with establishing new working hours, the Lottt prohibits unfair dismissal, outsourcing, guarantees the right to work for both women and people with disabilities and increases maternity leave.
...Venezuela now has the world's third longest maternity leave. Mothers are entitled to six weeks pre-natal leave, and twenty post-natal. Fathers are also entitled to two weeks paternal leave. Under the law, the same conditions apply to parents who adopt a child under three years of age.
All workers are also now entitled to retirement pensions, including full time mothers and the self employed.
An article about the recent spike in inflation notes that the minimum wage was raised 20% this May 1 and will be raised another 10% in September.
This does not quite keep up with inflation but it is hella better than what's happening HERE, where wages that are very low to begin with (for those who can find jobs at all!) are eaten up by the rich with skyrocketing medical costs (medical profiteering), ever increasing and disgraceful education costs (educational profiteering and fascism--college for the rich only), bankster usury against students and everyone else, huge gasoline cost increases (talk about inflation!), increases in every kind of transaction including virtually all interactions with government, and on and on and on--the absolute destruction of the middle class and devastation of the poor.
Beware, beware, beware the rightwing "talking point" about inflation! While inflation in Venezuela is too high this quarter and should be brought down, it is occurring amidst massive improvement in the lives of ordinary Venezuelans, who rated their country FIFTH IN THE WORLD on their own sense of well-being and future prospects (in the recent Gallup Well-being poll). 5th in the world!
Posted by Peace Patriot | Sat May 11, 2013, 01:47 PM (5 replies)
...a miserable 1% audit in the other half.
Know how much usually gets audited in a recount, here (if you can afford the money and lawyers to get a recount)? 3%.
Know who owns the programming code in these UNAUDITED and miserably inadequately audited voting machines, all over the U.S., in every state? 75% owned and controlled by ONE, PRIVATE, FAR RIGHTWING CONNECTED CORPORATION--ES&S which bought out Diebold.
Know what this code is called? It is called 'TRADE SECRET' code! The public is forbidden to review it!
Know what Venezuela's code is called? OPEN SOURCE code! It is owned by the PUBLIC and anyone may review it.
Know how much of an audit experts say is needed to detect fraud in electronic systems? At least 10%!
Venezuela is doing an audit that is more than FIVE TIMES the amount needed to detect fraud!
The U.S. government demanding a 100% audit in Venezuela is "Alice in Wonderland-ish" hypocrisy.
“'The U.S. government must know this...' said CEPR Co-Director Mark Weisbrot...".
He's damn right they know it. EVERY Democratic Party/Obama administration POLICY is designed with one thing in mind: the noose that ES&S/Diebold has around their necks.
One, private corporation, with far rightwing connections that would make your hair stand on end, designed the U.S. vote counting system (um, vote rigging system) for profit and for power, and operates it as a monopoly!
And they dare to criticize Venezuela!?
Posted by Peace Patriot | Sat Apr 27, 2013, 02:54 AM (0 replies)
--upside down, inside out and backwards.
1. In the United States, 75% of the votes are 'counted' by ONE. PRIVATE. FAR RIGHT-WING-CONNECTED. CORPORATION--ES&S, which bought out Diebold--using 'TRADE SECRET' code--code that the public is forbidden to review--with half the states doing NO AUDIT AT ALL (automatic comparison of electronic results to ballots--most because they HAVE NO ballot), and the other half doing a miserably inadequate 1% audit. And even if the fingernails of secretaries of state are pulled out and they are forced to do a recount--in the states that CAN do a recount--they only do 3% or so.
2. According to statisticians, and computer and election experts, 10% is the minimum audit needed to detect fraud in an electronic system.
3. Venezuela votes electronically, but uses OPEN SOURCE CODE--code that anyone may review and that belongs to the PUBLIC--and they do a whopping 55% audit--more than five times the minimum needed to detect fraud. Furthermore, Venezuelan elections are closely monitored by all the major election monitoring groups, by invitation of the Venezuelan government--the OAS, the EU, Unasur, the Carter Center and others, and Jimmy Carter recently said that Venezuela has "the best election system in the world." These groups do not just drop in on election day and make pronouncements. They help set up the system and monitor it all along the way. They KNOW what's needed--as to audits and other requirements of honest, transparent elections--and have repeatedly validated Venezuela's elections, including THIS election.
4. The U.S. State Department (Obama, H. Clinton) helped to legitimize the fascist military coup in Honduras by THE U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT holding an 'election' UNDER MARTIAL LAW, using entities like John McCain's INTERNATIONAL REPUBLICAN INSTITUTE to 'monitor' the voting. (John McCain has telecommunications and other interests in Honduras.) No reputable elections group in the world would touch that election. Talk about 'illegitimate.' Honduras has since become a Colombia-like killing field, as rightwing death squads murder hundreds of labor leaders, teachers, community activists, leftist politicians, journalists and others, and inflict a reign of terror on Hondurans, with every kind of oppression.
5. The U.S. (Obama, H. Clinton) did the same thing in Haiti--phoney election in which the party that represents 70% of Haitians was banned from the ballot!
6. As Mark Weisbrot has pointed out, the leftist Manual Obrador in Mexico lost the presidential election in 2005 by only 0.05% of the vote. Millions of Mexicans demanded a recount of Mexico's largely paper ballot system (but with highly riggable, PRIVATE electronics at the top of the chain, which the Bush Junta helped Mexico put in place). The U.S. (Bush Junta) immediately endorsed the rightwing candidate, Felipe Calderon (who also, like the fascists in Honduras and Colombia, has engaged in violent repression against labor leaders, community activists and peasants, in Oaxaca, and furthermore invited the corrupt, murderous, failed U.S. "war on drugs" into Mexico, for a bloodbath in the border areas--some 50,000 dead!) Why was that much closer election "legitimate" while Venezuela's (1.6% difference), with all of its safeguards and above-board systems, is not?
I am writing this for those of you who know instinctively that this U.S. government demand that Venezuela do a 100% recount is absurd. Your instincts are correct. I am also writing it for those who know nothing about these matters: Half the states in the U.S. cannot even DO a recount! Our system is 100% RIGGABLE by corporate CEO's whose far rightwing connections would make your hair stand on end.
Obama should be calling for 100% recounts HERE! Why isn't he? Why are our Democratic leaders as silent as the dead about OUR egregiously riggable system--and instead beat up on Venezuela, where they CAN prove, and HAVE proven, who was elected?
Not one elected official in this country can prove that he or she was actually elected. Not Obama. Not anybody else. NOT ONE OF THEM! Our system is UNVERIFIABLE, and has been rendered unverifiable DELIBERATELY--methodically, knowingly--and we can only wonder why and who is really calling the shots. WHO is picking and choosing among our already compromised and LIMITED political candidates--drenched with money, pandering to Corporate Media, and with ES&S/Diebold's noose around all of their necks? WHO is choosing who to give our power and our sovereignty TO? WHO is choosing our rulers? And are those "dark actors" the ones responsible for the wretchedness of this unrepresentative Congress, for the shackles on Obama, for the loony rightwing governors and state legislatures we see, and for the obvious wars being waged against the poor majority and all progressive policy?
And Obama--who surely knows all of this, and has to have agreed to it (along with other "deals" like no prosecution--and not even investigation--of Bush Junta war criminals)--dares to demand a 100% recount of Venezuela's election--a country whose president and whose poor majority DID EVERYTHING POSSIBLE to ensure a clean, honest, verifiable election system?!
It is just bizarre. It really is. Upside-down, inside out and backwards.
We really, really, REALLY need to understand this--however difficult and demoralizing it seems to be--because it is REALITY. Our system is rigged. It is anti-democratic, even to the very 'counting' of our votes. And it is producing office-holders--holders of OUR power as a people--who are clearly NOT acting in our interests, and are interfering against the peoples' interests in other countries--not just in the war zones of the Middle East but also in our own hemisphere. We need to face this. We need to expose it. We need overcome it--peacefully and democratically.
That is a difficult project, to say the least. But, hey, the people of this country have faced difficult projects before--on our long road to a fairer and more progressive society. We owe it to those who went before us, to straighten out the goddamned fascist disaster that has fallen upon us, starting with Reagan. And if Latin Americans--who have suffered so much grief at the hands of our ruling powers--can throw off those shackles, as they are doing in country after country, so can we.
The powers that control Obama KNOW that Latin America is undergoing a vast, deep, grass roots, leftist democracy revolution, and that Venezuela is the pioneer and inspirer of this amazing revolution. It has swept through most of South America, with strong leftists elected and re-elected in Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Uruguay, and soon to be re-elected in Chile (after a miserable rightwing hiatus), and into Central America (Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras until the coup). Their Corporate Media are doing their best to keep this information from us, precisely because they FEAR that we, too, will be inspired with democracy once again. And they REQUIRE their hand-picked office holders to LIE about Latin America's democracy revolution continuously and to engage in anti-democratic plots--with twisted lies like this one, about a 100% recount, and with worse.
Obama is obediently LYING. He has no other choice. And that lie--like the lie about the "constitutional crisis" in Honduras--is the visible element of a destabilization and overthrow plot, that Obama may or may not be in control of. I DO think that Obama was elected, by the way, but he was also PERMITTED TO BE elected, and that is the problem. We have been deliberately deprived of verifiable elections--and we had better be aware of how vulnerable this makes us to FUTURE Bush Juntas, beyond the misery of seeing a Democratic president propose cuts to Social Security and all our other current miseries. Worse is not only possible; it is likely, and it is all set up to have the APPEARANCE of legitimacy with no legitimacy at all.
Posted by Peace Patriot | Wed Apr 17, 2013, 12:20 AM (3 replies)
The New Yorker Corrects Two Errors on Venezuela, Refuses a Third
By KEANE BHATT - NACLA, April 9th 2013
Thanks to readers’ responses to The New Yorker following my last post (LINK), “On Venezuela, The New Yorker’s Jon Lee Anderson Fails at Arithmetic,” the magazine has amended two errors in two separate articles.
The first correction involves an online piece that Anderson wrote on the eve of Venezuela’s elections in October of last year. As was pointed out almost immediately after (LINK) Anderson’s entry was published, he had incorrectly claimed that “Venezuela leads Latin America in homicides” in his “The End of Chavez?” (LINK) (the headline was changed to “Chavez the Survivor” after the late Venezuelan president handily won his reelection).
Actually, it is Honduras that leads Latin America (LINK)—and indeed the entire world—in per capita homicides: 92 per 100,000 people are killed annually there, while Venezuela’s figure stands at 45.1, according to the most recently available United Nations data. And unlike the Venezuelan government, the Honduran government contributes to this body count by regularly murdering its own civilians through its military and police, both of which (LINKS) receive tens of millions of dollars from U.S. taxpayers. (The New Yorkerhasn’t published a single article referring to Honduras’s current post-coup regime, headed by Porfirio Lobo, who came to power in January of 2010.)
Reacting to readers’ complaints, the magazine’s editors issued an addendum to Anderson’s October 7 piece, which reads (LINK):
*An earlier version of this post said that Venezuela led Latin America in homicides; globally, it was in fourth place, but third in Latin America (behind Honduras and El Salvador), according to U.N. statistics (LINK) on intentional homicides for 2010-11.
Another Anderson article—“Slumlord: What has Hugo Chávez wrought in Venezuela?”—also misled the print magazine’s readers by giving the impression that Chávez’s presidential tenure was predicated on a coup d’etat rather than his victories in over a dozen internationally vetted elections. The New Yorker released a correction (LINK) for the inaccuracy in its April 1 issue, two months after the original piece had been published:
In “Slumlord,” by Jon Lee Anderson (January 28th), Hugo Chávez is described as having been concerned with “preventing a coup like the one that put him in office.” In fact, Chávez’s coup attempt, in 1992, failed; he was elected to office in 1998.
For Jon Lee Anderson’s most recent factual error, unfortunately, The New Yorker has thus far refused to issue a clarification or retraction. One month ago—the day Chávez died—Anderson wrote a third piece (LINK), for NewYorker.com, claiming:
What (Chávez) has left is a country that, in some ways, will never be the same, and which, in other ways, is the same Venezuela as ever: one of the world’s most oil-rich but socially unequal countries. . .
As I pointed out in “Anderson Fails at Arithmetic (LINK)," this allegation misleads the reader in two ways. Inequality has been reduced enormously under Chávez, using its standard measure, the Gini coefficient. So one can hardly say that in this aspect, Venezuela remains the “same as ever.” Making Anderson’s contention even worse is the fact that Venezuela is the most equal country in Latin America, according to the United Nations (LINK). Anderson’s readers come away with exactly the opposite impression.
To The New Yorker’s credit, a senior editor sent me an email regarding my article’s criticisms, and flatly conceded the first two misstatements in Anderson’s pieces. However, the note offered a strained defense of Anderson’s position on inequality, arguing that Anderson’s point was valid, given that his claim supposedly combined Venezuela’s conditions of being both “oil-rich” and “socially unequal” as one assertion.
I pointed out in my response that any reasonable reading of the statement would portray Venezuela as both one of the world’s most oil-rich and one of the world’s most socially unequal countries. And the fact of the matter is that the CIA’s World Factbook ranks (LINK) the country 68th out of 136 countries with available data on income inequality—that is to say, Venezuela is exactly in the middle, and impossible to construe as among the most unequal.
I also explained that when Anderson was confronted with this evidence on Twitter, the magazine’s principal correspondent on Venezuela expressed extreme skepticism (LINK) toward publicly available, constantly used, and highly scrutinized data; he instead cited his own “reporting” and “impressions” as the authority for his assertions. Given Anderson’s defiant admission not to even pretend to care about empirical data—after his magazine had already retracted two of his articles’ factual claims—it was incumbent on editors and fact-checkers to uphold The New Yorker’s reputation as a trustworthy and evidence-based journal by addressing the issue immediately.
Lastly, I argued that the awkward formulation of combining “oil-rich” and “socially unequal”—a reading I reject—exposes Anderson’s contention as even further at odds with reality. Included in my email was the following list showing the top 10 most “oil-rich” countries ranked in order of their total crude oil production,according to the International Energy Agency (LINK). Each country’s corresponding Gini coefficient from the CIA World Factbook (LINK) appears in parentheses—the higher the Gini coefficient, the greater the country’s inequality:
1. Saudi Arabia (unavailable)
2. Russia (0.42)
3. United States (0.45)
4. Iran (0.445)
5. China (0.48)
6. Canada (0.32)
7. United Arab Emirates (unavailable)
8. Venezuela (0.39)
9. Mexico (0.517)
10. Nigeria (0.437)
When provided with these arguments and data, The New Yorker’s senior editor fell silent in the face of repeated follow-ups. I received a reply only once: a rejection of my request to publicly post our correspondence. While issuing a correction to Anderson’s third Venezuela article over the past year would have been embarrassing, the continued silence and inaction of the elite intellectual journal is perhaps a greater indictment. Anderson’s error remains unchanged on the liberal magazine’s website, while its senior editor has refused to address the matter in private correspondence or offer a public rationale for leaving Anderson’s claim intact.
When asked to comment on this issue, Branko Milanovic (LINK)—a lead economist at the World Bank and arguably the world’s foremost expert on global inequality—interpreted Anderson’s quote the standard way: “The article says that Venezuela is one of most ‘socially unequal’ countries,” he wrote by email. But The New Yorker’s “extremely vague formulation,” he added, obscured an important reality: “What we know…is that Venezuela is among two or three most equal Latin American countries measured by income inequality.” According to his own research of inequality throughout the world, Venezuela is likely to be ranked somewhere “around the middle, or perhaps slightly above (these things do change from year to year).”
Prominent macroeconomist Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (LINKS) found The New Yorker’s factual contention and subsequent unresponsiveness astonishing: “This is pretty outrageous,” he wrote by email. “Do they have any data to support their assertion, or is the argument that because they don’t like Chávez they can say anything they want about him?”
Readers can pose such questions to The New Yorker by contacting its editors at www.newyorker.com/contact/contactus, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at@tnynewsdesk. Such media activism plays a crucial role in engendering more careful portrayals of countries like Venezuela, which has long been the target of cartoonishly hostile, slanted, and outright false media coverage. Previous demands for accuracy and accountability have already prompted two admissions of error by The New Yorker, and can lead to a third, in spite of the magazine’s obstinacy. More importantly, the magazine now faces a real political cost to publishing sloppy reporting, as well as a powerful deterrent to running reckless news and commentary during a politically significant transitional moment for Venezuela.
This work is licensed under a Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives Creative Commons license
(LINKS at the site.)
found at: http://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/8562
My email to the New Yorker:
Not you, too!
I have been flabbergasted by the Corporate Media's propagandistic coverage of the Chavez government in Venezuela and I've held out the hope that The New Yorker would counter this garbage with an intelligent, fact-based article, as it has done on other subjects.
Alas, you instead decided to pile some more (or rather the same) refuse onto the garbage heap, by publishing Jon Lee Anderson's lies about Venezuela's murder rate and about how Chavez came to power--lies right out of the Corporate Media's "talking points" folder on Venezuela; lies for which you then published lame and very late corrections--plus a third lie that you haven't corrected, that Venezuela is now "one of the world's most...socially unequal countries."
According to the UN Economic Commission on Latin America and the Caribbean, Venezuela is "THE most equal country in Latin America," after more than a decade of the Chavez government winning honest elections and implementing "New Deal"-like policies. Furthermore, in the Gallup Well-being poll, Venezuelans rated their own country FIFTH IN THE WORLD on their own sense of well-being and future prospects.
Obviously, Anderson consulted neither easily available, fact-based sources nor the people of Venezuela in his assessment of the Chavez government.
I used to have great respect for New Yorker fact-checkers. What happened? Did you down-size that staff?
Upshot from my point of view: The New Yorker's going onto the garbage heap unless you do a REAL correction of Anderson's lies and bias, by finding an intelligent and objective reporter to explain to the world why the Chavez government keeps winning honest elections by big margins, despite the relentless, monotonous, "Big Lie" campaign against them in ALL Corporate Media, here and there. Answer THAT, and you win the prize for the only honest news source in the western world.
And DO re-hire those fact-checkers, if that's the problem.
Posted by Peace Patriot | Wed Apr 10, 2013, 06:01 AM (14 replies)
...and that it is very, very old, indeed, and deeply rooted, way back in the 5th century--the original sin of the Church-as-institution.
It was a specific crime that led to all the others and that sent the Church down the wrong road into woman-hatred from which it has never recovered.
In the 5th century, a woman named Hypatia, a mathematician and philosopher, who was the beloved teacher of bishops and other clergy, was skinned alive on the streets of Alexandria by a mob of monks under the direction of a very evil man, Bishop Cyril, who went on to cause a riot and sword fights at a Church synod over the weird subject of the virginity of Jesus' mother. The man was sick, but became a "Father of the Church"--the first to call himself a "patriarch"--and was later canonized as a "saint," by which the Church means that he is in Heaven with God.
What had Hypatia done? She was a brilliant, powerful and highly respected figure. She was a Pagan but that does not explain the horror of her death at the hands of allegedly 'christian' monks. Alexandria was famous for its learning and its tolerance of all religions, philosophies and cultures. It was a haven for the Jews, especially the Alexandria Library, when she headed at that time. She was friends with Orestes, the Roman governor of Alexander. Like the rightwing of today in the U.S, Cyril was trying to undermine the civil government and subject it to Church rule. He sent his mobs against the Jews, confiscated their property and drove them out of Alexandria. Orestes opposed him, and they clashed several times. But neither does this explain the particular horror of Hypatia's murder.
Skinning alive in those days was intended to prevent the soul from going to Heaven. It was worse than death. It was eternal damnation.
Why did Hypatia merit eternal damnation, in this truly terrible form of murder? (--not to mention how Cyril ended up presumed into Heaven by Church "sainthood"; he is called Saint Cyril to this day.)
None of her works survived the crumbling of the Roman Empire. Probably they were burned. (Cyril's monks also attacked the Library.) An index indicates that she wrote several mathematical works. The only thing that remains are the letters of Bishop Sinesius of Ptolemais TO Hypatia. Sinesius had been her pupil and worshiped her. How is it that a Christian bishop considered Pagan Hypatia to be his greatest teacher? Interesting question.
There are hints in his letters to her (and also in certain other events that occurred around that time) that what she may have been embarked upon was peace between, and possibly even a synthesis of, Pagan and Christian teachings--the wedding of Pagan learning (which, in Hypatia's case, was embedded in highly ethical and high-minded neoplatonism) and Jesus' message of love for all, across tribal, religious and class lines.
Another feature of Paganism is worship of the Goddess--a particular target of "Fathers of the Church" like Cyril who took control of Church doctrine, or rather, established that there would be Church doctrine--rigid doctrine from which no one was permitted to deviate. This notion gained ascendance with the cementing of the Church with the power of the State, around the same time. One doctrine (all others anathematized), one Church, enforced by the brutal powers of king and emperor, with particular emphasis on casting out any group, leader or set of ideas that included the Goddess (such as the Christian neoplatonists of the time--the Gnostics) or anything remotely connected to the Goddess (such as the nature worship of the Pelagian Christians) or anything human (such as Jesus being born of a normal mother).
What seems to have seized this sick man Cyril's mind was loathing of women. He is the main force of that era for infecting the Church with this original sin. Jesus didn't hate or loathe women. In fact, in the Gnostic gospels he basically designates Mary Magdalen as head of the apostles. He says she is the only one of them who really understands his teaching. Cyril and his ilk burned those gospels, and somebody during that era grabbed a whole bunch of them, in willy-nilly fashion, as if in a hurry, and buried them in a cave in sealed jars in a desert near Alexandria (where they remained, undiscovered, until the 20th century). So there was obviously an underground movement, at the time--the same period as Hypatia's death--to preserve that which the Cyrils of the newly doctrine-ridden Church were trying to extinguish.
There is an underground Church that runs all through Church history--driven underground by people like Cyril--in which there is no such conflict with half the human race and no such loathing of women and rejection of the Goddess. This is the real Church--the Church of the People, not of the Prelates; the Church of the washing of feet, not the swishing of red robes and the crowning of kings. The washing of feet is a womanly act, a motherly act, a loving act. In doing it, Jesus made himself like a woman and made women (who were often the servants performing tasks like this) equal.
The male hierarchy, with its 1,500 years of misogyny dating back to "Saint' Cyril, turned that act into yet another exclusive male ritual. Pope Francis seems to have sensed its true origin and meaning. I doubt that this will result in reversal of the misogyny of Church doctrine or policy any time soon but it might start the process of bringing the underground Church--the real Church--aboveground. I think that Hypatia was an early activist in that underground Church, earnestly trying to direct bishops and monks onto a higher path of learning and tolerance, and she paid for it by an intolerant, woman-hating dogmatist trying to destroy her very soul, with the particular torture that he subjected her to.
To cleanse such a profound sin will take time. We obviously have quite a lot of sick male descendants of Cyril, quite abominably in positions of religious and moral authority. There is no easy cure for this. But I have to say that symbolism is a good way to begin. Symbols and symbolic acts can be very powerful in bringing about the deep, psychic change that is needed to overcome such a history of error, sin and crime. These men--bishops, cardinals, many priests--are deeply attached to the notion of their superiority--their primacy before God, their self-worship. They are also very, VERY attached to symbols, and need the help of symbols to overcome it. Maybe Pope Francis was intentional in this, or maybe only intuitively or dimly aware of it. Hard to say. But he seems to have good instincts.
Posted by Peace Patriot | Fri Mar 29, 2013, 06:04 AM (7 replies)