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Peace Patriot

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Venezuelan gov't has been using "decree powers" for half a century!

Some interesting remarks by Claudio Salerna, the lead climate negotiator for Venezuela at the U.N. climate summit (COP 19) in Warsaw. The interview is mostly about the walkout of virtually all developing countries at the climate summit, to protest the developed nations' refusal to address climate change with any seriousness as to emissions controls or compensation to those who are NOT contributing to climate change but who are being battered by it (an issue called "loss and damage", such as the Philippines, recently.

Amy Goodman then asks this:

AMY GOODMAN: Let me ask you something that just happened in your country while you’re here in Warsaw, Poland, at the U.N. climate summit. Lawmakers, the Venezuelan Congress, has just granted President Maduro the ability to rule by decree for the next year. This has alarmed many inside and outside Venezuela. That means he doesn’t need congressional assent.

CLAUDIA SALERNO: It’s not the first time that happened in Venezuela. Venezuela has a long tradition of, what it is called, I believe, habilitative laws to previous presidents, when you have certain circumstances that needs special handling of—or more rapidity in the way decisions are made. We have the majority in the Congress, so, in principle, it would not be a problem for us as politicians to get whatever law we want in the Congress, because we have the majority. But it’s a special needs that the particular economical situation we are having that needs actually more speed-up actions in certain specific rule. It’s not an open law. It’s actually driven to stop corrupcy and to fight—

AMY GOODMAN: Corruption.

CLAUDIA SALERNO: —strongly against corruption, yes.

AMY GOODMAN: Since you were talking about democracy, when it comes to the social movements directing the ministers, especially if you have the majority in the Congress, why he would need these extra powers? Even though, I understand, President Chávez ruled by decree a number of times during his terms.

CLAUDIA SALERNO: And previous presidents, as well, in different moments, since the '50s, I think. It was the first habilitative law that came upon. In principle, he didn't need it. But we need to fight rapidly against that, because the situation is quite critical. And the president is ready to go and to make justice in whoever is doing the wrong things. So he didn’t want it to be in a situation in which, for example, certain—even part of our own process were going to try to protect themselves in their own roles as—in different political situations. So, president is really, really determined to fight against whoever falls, he said—needs to fall. He will not be flexible in that.

Found at: http://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/10179
(my emphasis)

This is what the corpo-fascist news monopolies and their rightwing echo chamber here DON'T tell you about "enabling laws" or "rule by decree." It is a COMMON PRACTICE in Venezuela, and has been for many decades, for the National Assembly--an ELECTED body-- to VOTE certain time-limited and issue-limited powers to the president, to address some immediate need or crisis. For instance, Chavez was granted decree powers to deal with catastrophic floods that buried a whole town.

In addition--not mentioned in this interview--"decree powers" are used similarly in OTHER Latin American countries. For instance, the president of Brazil used "rule by decree" to preserve an uncontacted tribe in the Amazon.

It is such shit that this is evidence of tyranny! It is NORMAL governance in these countries. And both countries are very democratic.

The practice of legislatures granting limited "powers of decree" is somewhat similar to "declarations of emergency" by state governors in the U.S.--situations which require flexibility as to moving funds or activating agencies--though this process is used to deal with more issues in LatAm than natural disasters.

The problem that the National Assembly asked Maduro to address is economic sabotage by rightwing/fascist businessmen and corruption of several kinds, including internal corruption by chavistas. Salerno's difficulties with English (or the translator's--not sure which) make this point difficult to suss out, in the interview. But basically, as I understand her, she's saying that "heads are going to roll" and Maduro is going to show no favoritism to chavistas, on corruption issues.

This is a GOOD THING, it seems to me. Maduro has started off by putting a cap on prices of imported goods, to begin controlling inflation. We'll see how this and other measures work out. My point is that "rule by decree" is LEGAL, CONSTITUTIONAL and VOTED ON, and it is LIMITED as to time and project or issue, in Venezuela and other LatAm countries. There is nothing unusual about it and it is NOT "dictatorial."
Posted by Peace Patriot | Mon Nov 25, 2013, 02:27 PM (25 replies)

Sorry, Venezuela haters...

Sorry, Venezuela Haters: This Economy Is Not the Greece of Latin America
by Mark Weisbrot 11/8/13
found at: http://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/10155

Document Evidences Destabilization Plan Against Venezuela
by Eva Golinger 11/8/13
found at: http://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/10152

These two articles are like the two sides of a coin--the front side (Weisbrot's article) reveals stats that contradict the disinformation about Venezuela's economy that never stops in the corpo-fascist press; the backside (Golinger's article) reveals the plans of fascist operatives (including mafia don Alvaro Uribe, Bush Jr.'s man in Colombia), psyops firm JJ Rendon (remember them?), Venezuela's 'Mad Tea Party" and the USAID/CIA to destabilize Venezuela's economy and overthrow the Chavez/Maduro government.

We need to understand things like this (from the conclusion of Weisbrot's article)...

"...the poverty rate dropped by 20% in Venezuela last year – almost certainly the largest decline in poverty in the Americas for 2012, and one of the largest – if not the largest – in the world. The numbers are available on the website of the World Bank, but almost no journalists have made the arduous journey through cyberspace to find and report them. Ask them why they missed it." --Weisbrot (my emphasis)

...in the context of things like this (from Golinger's article about “The Strategic Venezuelan Plan" devised by those mentioned above):

"The document ... details the strategy to sabotage the electrical system in Venezuela, with the objective of blaming the government for a weak infrastructure and therefore projecting an image of crisis in Venezuela on an international level. As part of the plan, the authors propose, 'To maintain and increase the sabotages that affect public services, particularly the electrical system, that will enable responsibility to be placed on the government for supposed inefficiencies and negligence'." --Golinger

It is BECAUSE the poverty rate dropped by 20% in Venezuela last year--and has dropped so dramatically throughout the Chavez/Maduro era that the UN Economic Commission on Latin America and the Caribbean has designated Venezuela "THE most equal country in Latin America"--that fascist operatives like Uribe and corpo-fascist servants like the USAID/CIA are still plotting to destabilize and overthrow this socialist government.

Can't have an example of fairness to the poor in the world, especially one with fairness to the poor CREATED BY the poor majority itself, by their grassroots activism, voter turnouts and devotion to democracy!

Bad example to the rest of us that fairness CAN BE achieved by ordinary people if they stick together, organize, educate themselves and believe in themselves as citizens and vital actors in a democratic system.

That's anathema to the fascists, corporatists, militarists and billionaires who are oppressing us here in the U.S. and trying to oppress everyone else--steal their resources, turn them into slave labor. They have succeeded in many places. But Latin America is fighting back--in a highly successful leftist democracy movement that was inspired and pioneered by the people of Venezuela.

Can't have the poor majority thinking that THEY are important, that THEY are the "sovereign power" in a democracy, that THEY can vote themselves a "New Deal," and that THEIR elected leaders can competently run a government in THEIR interest.

Again, it is BECAUSE the Venezuelan government is SUCCESSFULLY reducing poverty and has inspired leftist movements throughout the region that it is the target of these corpo-fascist criminals, who want all the resources, all the money, and all the power unto themselves.

Golinger fingers the oil (biggest oil reserves on earth) as a particular object of greed by Venezuela's fascists and their U.S. and other funders and collaborators. But it is a "given" that U.S.-based transglobal corporations lust for oil. That's what the horrendous war on Iraq was all about. Oil is important but there is more--the need for transglobal corporations to smash self-government and local sovereignty wherever it arises but especially in countries that have lots of oil. They don't believe in self-government and sovereignty, because self-government and sovereignty interfere with their lust for resources, profit and power. They aim to smash self-government and the sovereignty of the people here and everywhere else. Venezuela is an EXAMPLE of what they DON'T WANT, and, furthermore--as Weisbrot points out--DON'T WANT US TO KNOW ABOUT.

Uribe's Colombia has one of the worst rich/poor discrepancies in Latin America--the opposite of Venezuela! It is no wonder that Uribe wants to smash Venezuela's socialist government right next door and return to power in the billionaires' 'paradise' of Colombia, where five million peasant farmers have been driven from their lands and labor leaders are routinely murdered by rightwing death squads. Venezuela sets a "bad example" of what Colombia's majority might do, if it can ever throw off U.S. corporate/military/fascist control. The CIA serves these interests so it's no surprise either that they are involved in the plotting along with CIA fronts like JJ Rendon. Indeed, the CIA are the original plotters and, but for them, criminals like Uribe would have no power.

It is BECAUSE OF the successful rise of the poor majority and its anti-poverty program in Venezuela that Venezuela is being targeted--by propaganda throughout the corpo-fascist press, by sabotage and by coup plotting. It is BECAUSE the Venezuelan poor majority has taken control of their oil, and has insisted on corporate contractors paying into their social system, and has asserted Venezuelan SOVEREIGNTY, that THEIR government--a government truly 'of, by and for' the people--is so venomously hated by corpo-fascists and targeted for destruction.

Two sides of the coin: dramatic poverty-reduction; and dirty rotten plots to END poverty reduction and install 1%-er control of Venezuela and everywhere else on earth.

Posted by Peace Patriot | Wed Nov 13, 2013, 04:03 PM (24 replies)

Contrary to the opinion of our RW poster, above, it is a brilliant article...

...and we need many more like it, exposing the disinformation and sneering "neo-liberal" propaganda of the Econo-myst and all of its Associated Pukes brethren (the entirety of the corpo-fascist press).

The article, by William Black, quotes extensively from the Econo-myst.

Here is one example of William Black's analysis. First he quotes the Econo-myst:

"Mr Correa is popular, thanks to an economic boom engineered by higher public spending, paid for by raising oil royalties and Chinese loans."

So much bile and misleading innuendo in a single sentence! Note that when The Economist praises Texas and other states with Republican governors that have benefited from surging energy prices it has never dismissed their accomplishments as the products of increased oil prices. Does The Economist deny that Correa should be praised for raising oil royalties? No, this is simply innuendo designed to imply that something virtually everyone believes was desirable and successful is somehow suspect. Is The Economist claiming that nations should not borrow from China? No. Is it claiming that Ecuador is paying an excessive rate of interest to China? No. Is (the Economist) claiming that Ecuador's foreign debt under Correa has grown to dangerous levels? No. The CIA states that Ecuador has one of the lowest pubic debt ratios in the world. Of the 155 total nations for which the CIA reports data on public debt, 125 nations have higher ratios of debt than Ecuador. In fact, The Economist is not making any substantive attack on Correa's actions in raising oil royalties or on Ecuador borrowing from China. Instead, it has deliberately engaged in clumsy innuendo because it has no substantive argument. --from the OP (my emphasis)

I was particularly impressed with Black's understanding of the oil/environment swap that President Correa offered to wealthy nations--that tiny, poor Ecuador could preserve this oil-rich region from drilling if the wealthy nations, who are causing the great bulk of environmental damage worldwide, would pay them to preserve it.

Black has fingered THE most sensitive issue for the Left in the modern era: the economy vs. the environment. And he brilliantly explains this excruciating and tragic dilemma, for which there seems to be NO solution--yet Correa came up with a solution, which was rejected by the wealthy, heavily polluting countries of the world (including our own).

This article is not only well worth reading, it is well worth thinking about in depth. How do we solve this problem of the economy/development vs. the environment/life on earth? ESPECIALLY in a region--Latin America--with so much poverty?

We should APPLAUD the use of a resource--such as oil--to help the poor, to provide education and health care, and good jobs and pensions for the elderly, and new school buildings and roads, and so on. This is what Leftists are doing in the Latin American countries that have honest, transparent election systems and thus leaders who are truly "of, by and for" the People: They are using the oil, for instance, in the best way possible for the benefit of all.

Yet, yet, yet, we KNOW that global warming is caused mostly by the burning of fossil fuels, that this is KILLING the planet, and that we MUST convert to non-polluting energy.

Don't expect the Econo-Myst, nor its Associated Pukes brethren, to help solve this problem. THEIR goal is to get that oil wealth back into the pockets of the 1%. They are cynical purveyors of CRAPASS LIES on behalf of the uber-rich. They are JERKS.

Mr. Black brilliantly exposes them!

Now just imagine if this kind of analysis was the norm in our newspapers, news magazines and TV/radio media, rather than virtually non-existent. INTELLIGENT analysis, from the perspective of THE PEOPLE, discussing tragic economic/environmental dilemmas--of which there are many--and examining proposed solutions.

We would have a quite wonderful revolution. And we would start solving problems!
Posted by Peace Patriot | Mon Oct 21, 2013, 03:19 AM (1 replies)

This may explain the "Mad Tea Party" insanity in Washington DC...

...I mean, besides ES&S/Diebold--a corporation with far rightwing connections that would make your hair stand on end--controlling 75% of the vote 'counting' in the U.S., using 'TRADE SECRET' code (code that the public is forbidden to review), and with half the states doing NO AUDIT AT ALL (automatic check of machine totals against ballots) and the other half doing only a miserably inadequate 1% audit.

Besides THAT, the 1% have weighed their lifespans against their vast riches, and figured they can ride out the death of planet earth, living lives of luxury, while the rest of us fry and drown, and what do they care? Predatory capitalism produces these sorts of royal fascist billionaires, with egos the size of Jupiter, who DON'T CARE about the future, DON'T CARE about humanity, DON'T CARE about the poor majority, DON'T CARE about other critters, DON'T CARE about society, from which they are insulated by their vast riches, and DON'T EVEN CARE about their own children and grandchildren. Sociopaths.

And they now control our government, which is why our government is WASTING TIME and MONOPOLIZING all political discussion with this PHONY DEBT CRISIS, while the planet burns!

Deep down, these 1%-er sociopaths are PANICKED but, being who they are, they manifest their panic by GREED. They want ALL THE MONEY NOW, to purchase, stock and secure their insulated "biospheres" and whatever they think will need, or will need to control, as the planetary meltdown gets worse. And they have seized control of the political discussion, and have put THEIR office holders in place, through various and multiple means (of which ES&S/Diebold is the latest and, I think, final blow to our democracy), to prevent even "trickle down," insurance-corporation-run helps to the poor like Obamacare (which includes subsidies to the very poor who can't afford even minimum health insurance). They want ALL THE MONEY. Get it?

This "Mad Tea Party" so-called debt crisis is as insane as anything Lewis Carroll thought up. The pity is that it appears to serve Democratic leaders as well, who get to bloviate against this truly treasonous outrage and get everybody to think that Obamacare must be great because the "Mad Tea Party" hates it so much. But it's really and mainly the greatest boon to the insurance corporation 1%-ers ever, forcing all the millions of uninsured to now pay insurance premiums!

What SHOULD HAVE HAPPENED is extending Medicare to all, or some other form of single-payer health care, along with vast reforms of for-profit medical care.

WHAT SHOULD BE HAPPENING--if our democracy had not been hijacked by these sociopaths--is REFORM in all spheres--BIG reforms, such as the total elimination of private money, and especially corporate money, from political campaigns; a new "Fairness Doctrine" to beat corporations into providing REAL journalism; vast and deep investigations into the war profiteers; serious questioning of the Forever War and the maintenance of a standing military; busting up of all monopolies--the banksters, the media, the Wall Street fraudsters, the crap food chains, the Chinese-manufactured crap product stores; punishment of the outsourcers of jobs; restoring a progressive tax system, and so much more. So many reforms desperately needed--perhaps the biggest one of all, and the most desperately needed: vast reform of U.S. environmental policy!

Do you see ANY of this being done? Do you see ANY of these even being talked about?

NO! They're all talking about a NON-EXISTENT "debt crisis." You know what? If we had just a few of the above reforms, there would be no debt. The debt has been created by the 1%-er sociopaths not paying their fair share toward the common good and hijacking our government and our military to their purposes--for instance, controlling the world's oil--and by a system of outrageously corrupt private contracting and lobbying. THEY created the debt! And now they're USING the debt to create an ENTIRELY PHONY 'discussion' and raging 'crisis' to mask their greed--while the planet burns!

What we need to ask is HOW DO THESE 'MAD TEA PARTY' AGENTS OF THE UBER-RICH even get a forum in our country, let alone the power to shut down our government? And how do our allegedly elected Democratic leaders play along, and why? I say "allegedly" because not one of them--NOT ONE!--can prove that he or she was actually elected. Maybe some of them were. I think Obama was. But I don't know--and NOBODY knows--for sure, except the far rightwing executives at ES&S/Diebold and the programmers in their basement.

That is the situation--as our people are plagued with increasing poverty, our "Commons" is destroyed, our democracy is OBVIOUSLY not working--and the planet burns!

The 1%-er sociopaths are panicked--and that panic may be spreading to others, for instance, to the nutcases with assault rifles shooting up nursery schools and movie theaters and workplaces and bombing sporting events. CRAZINESS!

THAT doesn't even get talked about, in any real way. WTF is wrong with us?

Understand this. This "debt crisis" is completely phony. It doesn't exist. We have debt, yes--which is EASILY handled by common sense policies. We do NOT have a "debt crisis." It is an INVENTED PLOY by the uber rich to disguise their greed--just like their phony bullshit about the U.S. Post Office or Social Security. That is the reality. But we are having a hard time, as a people, dealing with reality these days. An awful lot of our people have just hunkered down, in complete bewilderment at this madness, and have gone "head in the sand" (I hear this at work--people bragging that "I don't vote" and are focusing on survival, for themselves and their families. They've GIVEN UP participating because nothing makes sense to them. They are right about nothing making sense, but of course wrong about choosing the easy way out--ignoring it all.

The 'Mad Tea Party' has been unleashed on our land. We need to climb out of the "rabbit hole" and look around at the real world and re-establish common sense--for instance, if you have a far rightwing corporation tabulating most of the votes with 'TRADE SECRET' code, you are NOT going to get adequate, or even sensible, representation--let alone GOOD representation--by your office-holders. You are going to get 'mad hatters' acting for uber rich sociopaths, to your great peril and the peril of the country--and, given the REAL crisis of global warming that we now face--peril to all life on earth.
Posted by Peace Patriot | Thu Oct 10, 2013, 05:17 PM (0 replies)

I wish Anonymous or somebody with media power would address the 'TRADE SECRET' voting machines...

...cuz that is,

a) how Chambliss got into office; and,

b) is how the filthy corporate/Pentagon political money system is being maintained.

That's probably how they ALL got into office, and stay in office--and that's probably also the "control" on those leaders who sometimes dissent--but, with Chambliss (vs Max Cleland, back in 2002), it may be provable, and another election that should be looked into and exposed is the first Senate election of current Sec of Defense, Chuck Hagel.

Hagel was one of the founders of ES&S, which then did the 'counting' of his first Senate election.

Gawd, it is just all so blatant!

ES&S (which bought out Diebold) not only has far rightwing connections that would make your hair stand on end, it also, now, controls SEVENTY-FIVE PERCENT of U.S. voting systems, all run on 'TRADE SECRET' code--code that the public is forbidden to review--with NO AUDIT AT ALL in half the states in the U.S. and a miserably inadequate 1% audit in the other half.

As long as this is the case--as long as vote counting remains privatized, and easily--EASILY!--riggable, there is no chance in hell of getting a constitutional amendment against corporate money through any state legislature, nor by means of any voting process.

Got to start with this most basic of democratic principles: TRANSPARENT vote counting.
Posted by Peace Patriot | Sat Sep 14, 2013, 01:01 PM (0 replies)

My thought exactly. Why aren't these Viking teams (and the Mars teams) running the government...

...rather than the government running them--with Pukes in particular (our Diebold-s/elected power-mongers) ever seeking to downsize, defund and dispirit them, in favor of war, war profiteers, transglobal corporations and the uber-rich?

These teams have done the impossible--have done miracles of organization, budgeting, allocation of resources, team work and spectacular, unprecedented, mind-boggling achievements--and seem to be time-travelers from the 23rd century, in their ability to envision and plan for the future.

Put them in charge of foreign policy. Put them in charge of the Pentagon. Put them in charge of health care. Put them in charge of education. Put them in charge of the banksters. Put them in charge of eliminating poverty. Put them in charge of re-greening and saving the planet. And watch miracles happen--the miracles of scientific reasoning, and the miracles of the highest human ideals, dreams and goals made real.

WHY are we wallowing in poverty, dysfunction and decline; WHY have we been dragged into a Forever War; WHY are we bankrupt for anything but missiles and bombs and guns; WHY has the common good become a forgotten phrase and a reviled notion, when we have thinkers and planners and promoters of the highest human abilities available to us?

The people who put men on the Moon.
The people who put roving scientific laboratories on Mars.
The people who took close-up photographs of Jupiter and Saturn.
The people who put Hubble into the sky.
The people who have discovered thousands of planets in other solar systems.
The people who have revealed the Universe to us, in all of its mind-boggling glory.
The people who put a human spacecraft into interstellar space on August 25, 2012!

I am not a starry-eyed worshiper of NASA. It has its flaws. It has its downsides. It is, of course, intimately linked with the "military-industrial complex." It needs to be watched closely like any government (and these days, government-corporate) entity, and subjected to the will of the people, in so far as our very damaged democracy can even perform that function any more.

But I'm not talking about NASA. I'm talking about the PEOPLE of NASA, who have given us so much--untold gifts!--for more than half a century now, often despite being shunted aside, scorned, interfered with and hampered by the brainless wonders and malefactors who have seized political power, from Nixon to Reagan to Bush, to the current Congress, and the Me-Too Democratic Party leaders who enable such shoddy and despicable and criminal operatives to run our government. The PEOPLE of NASA have performed miracles of scientific achievement in this disheartening context.

Put them in charge of creating a transparent electronic vote counting system IN THE PUBLIC VENUE, and see what miracles of democracy will occur. Put them in office and we will be "greening" the Moon and Mars before you know it, having re-greened the Earth along the way. Global warming, solved. Over-population, solved. Poverty, solved. The despair of the human race, reversed.

Visionaries! DO-ERS! The people who make dreams come true, who make hope real. The people who scoff at "the impossible" and make doing the impossible look easy.

There are other people like this--nurses, kindergarten teachers, organic farmers, emergency responders, Latin American leftists--name your heroes, the people who give you hope--but at NASA we have a concentration of people who, despite every obstacle, have taken the entire human race out into the great Universe for the greatest, most amazing human venture of all time.

I am also not such a fool as to trust science or scientists implicitly. We only have to consider the GMO-izing of our food supply to know how far science and scientists can go astray from the common good. But we really haven't tried disinterested rationalism in a very long time. NASA seems to attract just that kind of scientist, whose first loyalty is to the facts--to ALL the facts, including ALL of the inconvenient facts--and who can look at all sides of a problem, combine all relevant viewpoints, insights, data and "Eureka!" inspirations--no matter where they come from, no matter who gets the credit--and GET THE JOB DONE, collectively--the "impossible" job, the next human step off the planet, and the next, and the next.


I want them running Congress, and the State Department, and the SEC. Dump out the morons and the greedbags and put NASA scientists in charge of solving all the seemingly unsolvable problems that greed and idiocy have created. They are the greatest problem-solvers and planners that we have, and they have a 23rd century vision of where we need to go.
Posted by Peace Patriot | Thu Sep 12, 2013, 05:26 PM (1 replies)

National Lawyers Guild thumbs up on Venezuela April 14 election

Report of the National Lawyers Guild Delegation on the April 14, 2013 Presidential Election and Expanded May-June Audit in Venezuela

By NATIONAL LAWYERS GUILD (US), August 28th 2013

National Lawyers Guild (NLG) election monitors from the United States issued their report today, concluding that the 2013 Venezuelan presidential election process was fair, transparent, participatory, and well-organized.

A five-member NLG delegation formed part of a larger delegation of over 130 parliamentarians, two former presidents, electoral commission members, journalists, and representatives of human rights NGOs from across the world. Election monitors traveled to polling places throughout the country on Election Day.

The NLG report describes a system that strives to encourage voter registration and participation as well as the use of advanced technology – including fingerprint identification and issuance of paper receipts by voting machines – to ensure accuracy and preclude fraud. Active participation by party witnesses and national and international observers provide further assurances. In addition, the observers found a reliable system in which 54 percent of all receipts were randomly audited after the polls close on Election Day to ensure that paper receipts matched the electronic vote recorded by the machines.

A second NLG delegation traveled to Venezuela after the election to observe the expanded audit that had been requested by the opposition candidate, Henrique Capriles, and approved by the National Electoral Council (CNE). The expanded audit was designed and conducted under the purview of a technical team of 30 professors and other professionals from the Central University of Venezuela. The expanded audit found that of “the voting slips audited, 4,596,432 showed no discrepancies whatsoever in relation to the polling booth record of total votes cast, which represents 99.98% of the total.”

The report also contains a review of the legal process pursued by the opposition, noting a lack of evidentiary support. Citing a failure to provide “sufficient proof,” Magistrate Gladys Gutierrez announced that the court had reached a unanimous decision, rejecting the petition and fining the opposition for what was effectively abuse of process.

Describing the independent nature of the CNE, the report concludes: “We have found the CNE’s President, Tibisay Lucena, and the other members of the CNE and its staff to be consistently concerned with perfecting the electoral process to ensure that every Venezuelan adult has access to the polls and every single vote is counted, regardless of party affiliation or candidate.”

The U.S. would do well to incorporate some of the security checks and practices that are routine in Venezuela to improve both the level of participation and the credibility of our elections,” said NLG President Azadeh Shahshahani. “Holding elections on Sundays would facilitate access for working people and utilizing machines that issue receipts would increase credibility and permit the verification of results.”

The margin of victory for Nicolas Murduro, while small, was comparable to close elections in the U.S., such as the margins of victory for Kennedy in 1960 and for Bush in 2000 and 2004. The National Lawyers Guild calls upon the U.S. to honor the Venezuelan election as nations of the world have unquestionably honored ours. As Jimmy Carter recognized, Venezuela’s electronic voting system backed by paper ballots is “the best in the world,” and therefore deserves at least as much respect as our own.

Daniel Kovalik, a member of both delegations who teaches International Human Rights law said: “As this report shows, the Venezuelan elections on April 14 were free and fair, and the CNE continues to take great pains to ensure the integrity and reliability of the Venezuelan electoral system.”

To access the full report, visit http://www.nlg.org/resource/reports/delegation-to-venezuela.

Source: National Lawyers Guild
This work is licensed under a Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives Creative Commons license

(My emphasis.)


In HALF the states in the U.S., NO VERIFICATION OF THE VOTE COUNT IS POSSIBLE, because they have NO receipt or ballot! They do ZERO audit. And the other half do only a miserably inadequate 1% audit. Venezuela does a routine 54% audit!

And the U.S. dares to criticize Venezuela and question its election?

FURTHERMORE, all U.S. elections are tallied by privately owned 'TRADE SECRET' code, with one, private, far rightwing-connected corporation (ES&S, which bought out Diebold) now having a 75% monopoly over U.S. voting systems! Venezuela's electronic voting programming code is OWNED BY THE PUBLIC, is available for public review and is divided up and held by all parties.

And this doesn't begin to exhaust the number of things wrong with U.S. elections, that Venezuela is doing right. The National Lawyers Guild points out some of them. There are many more. Two of the most important ones, in my view, are the government encouragement of public participation and the high voter turnouts. Here, we have ES&S/Diebold s/elected legislators and governors trying to PREVENT public participation and high voter turnouts, trying to RESTRICT the votes of the poor, the elderly and minorities! Is there any better indicator of the sickness in our democracy, and of the rigged nature of our elections, than this?

Venezuela's presidency, national assembly, governorships and provincial legislatures are representative of the Venezuelan people. Ours are not. (And I'm sorry but, though I do think that Barack Obama was the choice of most voters here--given the choices--neither I nor you, nor anybody, including Obama himself, can prove it. The proof is not there. Our system has been privatized. And you really gotta wonder, given some of the things that President Obama has done (and not done), who is really calling the shots at ES&S besides its far rightwing-connected owners.**)

Jimmy Carter recently said that "America does not have a functioning democracy at this point in time."**** I agree. That is our lamentable situation. That is why we are being dragged from war to war to war, though we are bankrupt--robbed a thousandfold by the war profiteers and the banksters--and our people are suffering in every way. Venezuela, though far from perfect, has a functioning democracy--a good democracy, with numerous positive indicators, and some rather dramatic achievements by its government and its people, including poverty reduction, access to education and health care, labor rights, high employment, good jobs with decent wages, fair taxation, strong regulation of the banks and other aspects of "organized money" (as FDR put it) and vigorous public debate.

Our U.S. "military-industrial-fake democracy complex" hates Venezuela for these reasons--for Venezuelans having created a real democracy, for Venezuelans having started the trend toward real democracy in Latin America, and, of course, for using its oil profits for education, health care and other social needs, rather than giving it to Exxon Mobil fatcats. I can hardly express my dismay at President Obama refusing to recognize Venezuela's April election--an election that has been recognized worldwide--for his bowing to this corporate/war machine hatred of Venezuela's democracy and Venezuela's social progress. Martin Luther King would be appalled!


** Our current Sec of Defense, Chuck Hagel, was one of the founders of ES&S, which 'counted' his first s/election for U.S. Senate, with, of course, its private code and no audit.

**** http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/constitution/item/16043-jimmy-carter-defends-snowden-says-u-s-has-no-functioning-democracy
Posted by Peace Patriot | Sat Aug 31, 2013, 08:25 AM (23 replies)

Deja vu all over again.

Source: Foreign Policy

CIA Files Prove America Helped Saddam as He Gassed Iran

The U.S. government may be considering military action in response to chemical strikes near Damascus. But a generation ago, America's military and intelligence communities knew about and did nothing to stop a series of nerve gas attacks far more devastating than anything Syria has seen, Foreign Policy has learned.

In 1988, during the waning days of Iraq's war with Iran, the United States learned through satellite imagery that Iran was about to gain a major strategic advantage by exploiting a hole in Iraqi defenses. U.S. intelligence officials conveyed the location of the Iranian troops to Iraq, fully aware that Hussein's military would attack with chemical weapons, including sarin, a lethal nerve agent.


And, by deja vu all over again, I don't just mean yet another drumbeat for war. I mean all the lies and dirty tricks that the U.S. war machine commits to serve itself--the war machine--and corporate/1%-er interests. These go all the way back to the Vietnam War--a war created by the CIA to profit the war machine, and foisted on the American people and the Vietnamese by a goddamned lie called "the Gulf of Tonkin"--and forward to every U.S. war since then, including, of course, the most blatant example, the war on Iraq, created to serve the oil interests that grease the war machine. And it includes, a) helping a regime (Saddam Hussein/Iraq) to use chemical weapons, and b) then invading Iraq, and slaughtering a hundred thousand innocent people over WMDS that their government DIDN'T POSSESS.

Lies and dirty tricks.

My opinion: The CIA and/or Mossad did the chem weapons attack in Syria.


Hope? It's hard to come by, these days. But, in my opinion, it starts with REALIZING what occurred between 2002 and 2004, with the plague of private, corporate-run, 'TRADE SECRET' voting machines, all over the USA. US vote counting is now monopolized by ONE, PRIVATE, FAR RIGHTWING-CONNECTED corporation--ES&S (which bought out Diebold). ES&S was started by our current Sec of Defense, Chuck Hagel, and 'counted' his first 'election' to the US Senate. When we understand what that means, we might begin to understand everything else. The very votes that we think we cast are now controlled by the war machine itself.

We cannot NOT have war. We don't have that choice any more. And, though there are many aspects to this war machine control of our government, there are none more important than this, and none more amenable to citizen action, than the 'TRADE SECRET' voting machines. We need to start there. We need to restore vote counting to the PUBLIC VENUE, conducted by us citizens in the light of day, with our eyes on every ballot.

And, once we do that, and start putting REAL representatives of the people into office, then, and only then, will we be able to do everything else that needs to be done, to restore our democracy. We have a lot to do, God knows. We can't do any of it while ES&S is 'counting' the votes with 'TRADE SECRET' code, and, in half the states, NO AUDIT AT ALL (and a miserable 1% audit in the other half).

It's so basic! You want a peaceful country? You want a fair country? You want good government? It starts with the vote counting.
Posted by Peace Patriot | Mon Aug 26, 2013, 01:41 AM (0 replies)

The OP is not properly attributed. It is an Associated Pukes (AP) job...

...with a by-line by Jorge Rueda, and further attribution at the bottom, "Associated Press writer Frank Bajak in Lima, Peru, contributed to this report."

I don't call AP the "Associated Pukes" for nothing. They have repeatedly misreported events in Venezuela with extreme bias against Chavez, the Chavez-Maduro government and the Bolivarian Revolution--i.e., the leftist democracy movement started by the people of Venezuela that has sparked a political revolution all over the region. AP has committed every journalistic trick in the books to slander this New Deal-like movement and to contribute to the rightwing/corporate campaign to destroy it, including reporting ONLY negative 'news' stories--especially as to Venezuela--NEVER reporting ANY of the significant achievements of the Chavez-Maduro government, and extreme bias across the board, in EVERY 'news' story, and including outright lying. Frank Bajak is one the worst AP scribblers, in this respect.

This vile anti-Chavez media campaign has included falsely portraying Chavez as anti-Semitic, falsely portraying Chavez as a "dictator," falsely portraying Venezuela's election system as rigged (an election system that Jimmy Carter has called "the best in the world" and that is provably one of the best in the world on objective criteria), falsely portraying the Chavez-Maduro government as anti-free speech (and ignoring the fascist activity of corporate media moguls in Venezuela, including their active participation in the 2002 rightwing coup attempt, and including banning all Chavez government members from the public airwaves during that coup attempt), and innumerable other falsehoods, misrepresentations and black-holes where information should be.

I urge all thoughtful people to take Associated Pukes (AP) so-called 'news' stories about Venezuela with a grain of salt, and to question every statement they make, including every alleged quotation by a leftist. AP's monopoly over the 'news' makes it extremely difficult to verify or debunk their notoriously unreliable, so-called reporting. One of their chief propaganda methods is to create IMPRESSIONS on hot-button issues (such as anti-Semitism and "free speech" and, by the time the facts catch up with these impressions, the damage is done, the lie has gone worldwide and there is no way for reasonable people with the facts to correct it. This is REAL tyranny--the tyranny of corporate 'news' monopoly.

We've seen this phenomenon time and again, about Venezuela--those of us who are paying attention. AP is one of the worst offenders. And the importance to AP, and to those whom they serve, of smearing the Bolivarian Revolution as anti-gay can be gaged, here at DU, by all of DU LatAm forum's rightwing posters chiming in, in this thread, to say how much they hate and revile the Maduro government.

Believe me, the real issue is MONEY--and who gets it and who doesn't. That is ALL that matters to rightwing/1%er/corporate propagandists, and they will use ANYTHING to ensure that the rich get richer and the poor get kicked off the island--including scurrilous use of social justice/democracy issues to destroy social justice and democracy.
Posted by Peace Patriot | Fri Aug 16, 2013, 07:38 AM (3 replies)

We need a bigger word (or acronym) than "CIA" to describe the controlled country...

...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)
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