The Congress has just ended one of the worst and least productive sessions in the history of our country. At a time when the problems facing us are monumental, Congress is dysfunctional and more and more people (especially the young) are, understandably, giving up on the political process. The people are hurting. They look to Washington for help. Nothing is happening.
In my view, the main cause of congressional dysfunction is an extreme right-wing Republican party whose main goal is to protect the wealthy and powerful. There is no tax break for the rich or large corporations that they don't like. There is no program which protects working families -- Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, affordable housing, etc. -- that they don't want to cut.
But the Democrats (with whom I caucus as an Independent) are most certainly not without fault. In the Senate, they have tolerated Republican obstructionism for much too long and allowed major legislation to fail for lack of 60 votes. They have failed to bring forth a strong and consistent agenda which addresses the economic crises facing the vast majority of our struggling population, and have not rallied the people in support of that agenda.
As we survey our country at the end of 2013, I don't have to tell you about the crises we face. Many of you are experiencing them every day.
Yesterday in Hamburg, Glenn Greenwald gave an astounding, must-watch keynote address to the gathered hackers at the 30th Chaos Communications Congress, or 30C3 (Greenwald starts at 4:36). Greenwald excoriated the press for failing to hold the world's leaders to account, describing what he did with the Snowden leaks as challenge to the journalistic status quo as well as the political status quo. This is a leaping-off point for an extended riff on the active cooperation between the press and the national security apparatus, an arrangement calculated to give the appearance of oversight on surveillance activities without any such oversight (for example, BBC reporter expressed shock when he said that the role of the press should be to root out lies from senior spies, saying that generals and senior officials would ever lie to the public).
Greenwald draws a connection between private companies and spying, expressing hope that Internet giants will finally understand that their profitability is endangered by their collaboration with spies. He describes these companies as having "unparalleled power" to curb state spying.
He exhorted the hackers at 30C3 to do their best to make the Internet as secure for its users as possible, saying that without their contributions, all is lost. He urges them to strike back at Silicon Valley intelligence collaborators like Palantir, who pose as hip and technie to attract bright young people to help with their mission to attack privacy.
The whole speech is important; it praises Chelsea Manning, Wikileaks, and Daniel Ellsberg, as well as other brave whistelblowers, and said that the Snowden project built on their work. He said that the heavy-handed attacks on whistleblowers by the US government have only revealed the state's corruption and inspired more insiders to go public.