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Hello, NSA

May 29th, 2014 by Andy in Patriot Act & The Surveillance State, Video

Hello NSA,

Thank you for being there and for really listening.

Kissing Kissinger - Honoring ‘Heroes’ In America

April 24th, 2014 by Andy in Bush League, Video

How fitting. General David Petraeus giving a “Freedom Award” to his “hero,” the “honorable” Henry A. Kissinger (in a ceremony as tacky as it is absurd). He even kisses ol’ Henry, just to reiterate the depth of his subservient affection for one of history’s most amoral manipulators of power. Kissinger then blows off a man who personally confronts him with questions, calling the questioner a “self-serving coward.” In the standard parlance of psychology, this is called “projection.”

I hope the words “you know this is a lie” ring over and over in his ears on his deathbed. Perhaps there will be a moment of existential dread as he takes his final breath, in realization of what a monster he has been in this world, and the literally millions of people who have suffered due to him and his actions.

And watch this for some background on just how free the ‘Freedom Awards’ are. This gives you a pretty good idea of the type of hermetic, insular, and extensively protected bubble that power exists within.

And as for David Petraeus? That Golden Boy of American war and clandestine services (both the ones he managed, as well as those personally rendered), has, as Tom Engelhardt reported, taken the next spin through the revolving door of “rehabilitation.” The general “who never had a victory and yet never stopped rising” has now reemerged on, yep, you guessed it…Wall Street.

According to Gawker, “David Petraeus’ road to redemption has reached its gilded destination. As we first reported in April, the disgraced former CIA director will join Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, the private equity giant best known for ‘large debt-fueled corporate takeovers’.”

And for more insight on the depth of the criminogenic duplicity of one Henry A. Kissinger, there are few places better to start than Christopher Hitchen’s detailed expose’, The Case Against Henry Kissinger. For those of you who may not have time for the literary edition, you can watch the movie version, as well.

How Covert Agents Infiltrate the Internet to Manipulate, Deceive, and Destroy Reputations

April 17th, 2014 by Andy in Patriot Act & The Surveillance State

Here’s a good way to destroy our capacity for discerning truth.

It’s the COINTELPRO of the internet.

All for your “security” and protection, of course.

Today, we at the Intercept are publishing another new JTRIG document , in full, entitled “The Art of Deception: Training for Online Covert Operations.”

By publishing these stories one by one, our NBC reporting highlighted some of the key, discrete revelations: the monitoring of YouTube and Blogger, the targeting of Anonymous with the very same DDoS attacks they accuse “hacktivists” of using, the use of “honey traps” (luring people into compromising situations using sex) and destructive viruses. But, here, I want to focus and elaborate on the overarching point revealed by all of these documents: namely, that these agencies are attempting to control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse, and in doing so, are compromising the integrity of the internet itself.

———

The title page of one of these documents reflects the agency’s own awareness that it is “pushing the boundaries” by using “cyber offensive” techniques against people who have nothing to do with terrorism or national security threats, and indeed, centrally involves law enforcement agents who investigate ordinary crimes:

No matter your views on Anonymous, “hacktivists” or garden-variety criminals, it is not difficult to see how dangerous it is to have secret government agencies being able to target any individuals they want – who have never been charged with, let alone convicted of, any crimes – with these sorts of online, deception-based tactics of reputation destruction and disruption…

The broader point is that, far beyond hacktivists, these surveillance agencies have vested themselves with the power to deliberately ruin people’s reputations and disrupt their online political activity even though they’ve been charged with no crimes, and even though their actions have no conceivable connection to terrorism or even national security threats.

Your tax money at work. Investing in lies. So much for the “truth” part of the “Truth, Justice, and the American Way.” Clearly, those have devolved into three very distinct, disparate concepts.

Read The Full Report (with documents)

FDR and the Fight for the Four Freedoms

April 14th, 2014 by Andy in Politics In America, Video

A friend of mine, historian Harvey J. Kaye, has a new book out on FDR and the Fight For The Four Freedoms, and the need for reinvigorating the fight for them today. This is a project he’s been working on for many years, and it strikes me as more relevant and needed today than ever.

Our society loves to celebrate the “greatest generation” and the heroes of World War II and all. Harvey sheds some essential light upon what exactly they were fighting for, and the type of society that most Americans were setting out to protect and advance through the sacrifices made in that war (principles that have been sold out from under us by our recent generation of neo-liberal market fundamentalists).

Here, Harvey talks to Bill Moyers in an enlightening and inspiring discussion, worth the few minutes of viewing time.

You can also watch Harvey talk about FDR, as well as the legacy of Thomas Paine, in an hour-long interview with Thom Hartmann. Kaye also makes this short appearance on another of Hartmann’s programs in to talk about the fight for the Four Freedoms.

Inventor of The Web Calls For ‘Internet Bill of Rights’

April 13th, 2014 by Andy in Media and Democracy

I couldn’t agree more with Sir Tim Berners-Lee in his declaration here. In fact, I created a graduate program a number of years ago, the premise of which was basically the underlying principles that Lee is referencing here. Communication is fundamental to our humanity.And in a modern, mass mediated, digitally networked technological society, our right and ability to communicate becomes dependent upon our capability to access and impart information over these networks. Who controls these networks, who and how access to them is managed, becomes an issue of preeminent importance.

The inventor of the world wide web believes an online “Magna Carta” is needed to protect and enshrine the independence of the medium he created and the rights of its users worldwide.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee told the Guardian the web had come under increasing attack from governments and corporate influence and that new rules were needed to protect the “open, neutral” system.

Speaking exactly 25 years after he wrote the first draft of the first proposal for what would become the world wide web, the computer scientist said: “We need a global constitution – a bill of rights.”

Berners-Lee’s Magna Carta plan is to be taken up as part of an initiative called “the web we want”, which calls on people to generate a digital bill of rights in each country – a statement of principles he hopes will be supported by public institutions, government officials and corporations.

“Unless we have an open, neutral internet we can rely on without worrying about what’s happening at the back door, we can’t have open government, good democracy, good healthcare, connected communities and diversity of culture. It’s not naive to think we can have that, but it is naive to think we can just sit back and get it.”

Read The Full Article

‘Legalize Democracy’ - Time To Move To Amend

April 12th, 2014 by Andy in Corporations, 'Democracy' & USA Inc., Video

Formed in September 2009, Move To Amend is a coalition of hundreds of organizations and hundreds of thousands of individuals committed to social and economic justice, ending corporate rule, and building a vibrant democracy that is genuinely accountable to the people, not corporate interests.

We are calling for an amendment to the US Constitution to unequivocally state that inalienable rights belong to human beings only, and that money is not a form of protected free speech under the First Amendment and can be regulated in political campaigns.

Legalize Democracy is a documentary film by Dennis Trainor, Jr. about the movement to amend — why it is needed, and how you can get involved.

Help spread the word by hosting a house party to support Move To Amend and show the film. Details about hosting a party are Here

Academia’s Death by a Thousand Neo-Liberal Cuts

April 6th, 2014 by Andy in Taxes, The Commons & The Social Contract

And as the neo-liberal model continues to eviscerate core aspects of civic society, one of its more disturbing effects has been its influence upon higher education.

An excellent article on how it can be found at the heart of academia today, and its influence in the increasing use (and exploitation) of adjunct faculty, can be found in this piece by Sarah Kendzior on Academia’s Indentured Servants.

Education is only one of the many areas which have been undermined by this corrosive form of modern corporate feudalism. Incarceration through the modern, for-profit prison system comes readily to mind, as to the fate of public media, particularly public access throughout the country. We continue to see the closing of media resources available to the public (while local governments will fight to preserve their own municipal channels, which is a whole ‘nother topic).

The bottom line of all of this is the continued advancement of the idea of fee for service in order to participate in civic life or use of public resources. As Greg Boozell pointed out, ensuring equal access to civic life is being framed by neo-liberals and accepted by the public as non-essential, or as a luxury that can only be sustained through usage fees.

There certainly isn’t a magic market solution that will ensure the fiscal viability of public access TV. And market-based “solutions”are antithetical to the health vibrant public spaces.

America as a ‘Horror Show’ and the Fraud of Its Politics

February 20th, 2014 by Andy in America and Its Revolution...Is it Over?, Video

I referenced this interview between Bill Moyers and acclaimed journalist and television producer David Simon in a previous posting, but it is so good, so lucidly candid, so completely on the money in its analysis of just what is happening to America politically, economically, socially, that it needed to be highlighted again. I cannot emphasize enough as to the how and why the points presented here by Simon should be seen by all Americans. This should be required reading/viewing in every social studies and political science classroom in the country.

It is well worth the 20 minutes of your time it will take to watch it.

We’ve changed and we’ve become contemptuous of the idea that we are all in this together.

The monetization of human beings like that, you know, anybody tells you that the markets will solve everything, the libertarian ideal.

I can’t get past just how juvenile the thought is that if you just let the markets be the markets, they’ll solve everything.

You know, America worked when there was tension between capital and labor, when there– when neither side won all of its victories, when they were fighting. It’s in the fight that we got healthy, that we transformed a working class into a middle class, that we became a consumer economy that drove the world for about half a century.

——–

And yet that’s the kind of argument that supply-side economics is. Give us, the job makers, the money and we’ll make jobs. Not with all of it you won’t. A lot of it’s going to Wall Street and it’s going to sit there and it’s going to be subjected to much less tax liabilities, the capital gains. You know, the scam of it, the scam of what America’s become, you know, give the money to the rich and they’ll see that you’re not poor. Is that really what you’re saying?

——–

But ultimately, capitalism has not delivered on the promise to be a measurement of anything other than money, of profit. And if profit is your only metric, man, what are you building? Where does the environment fit into that? Where does human potential and you know, for anything other than having some money in your hand, you know, where does, where do people stand when they have health needs or when they make a mistake in life? You know, it was said a long time ago you judge a society by is hospitals and its prisons. By that standard we’re, you know, we have a lot to be ashamed of.

——-

You know, I’ve had the sensation over the last twenty — and before The Wire, even, I mean, when I was just a police reporter in Baltimore — of hearing people inside the beltway speak about the American city or about urban issues or about things that I actually knew a little bit about. And they would talk about it you know, I’d be listening to, you know, a Gingrich or even some well-meaning liberal. And I would think, I would love to have these guys in my Volkswagen Passat and just kick them out on the corner at Monroe and Fayette and you know, and just leave them there for a month, you know, and just see if they can you stop them from saying this stuff with just a little bit of aware.

——-

You know, government and democracy in particular, it is about constant battle, it’s about nothing ever being fixed or ever being right. We will never solve a problem to the point where we can walk away from it and the machine will, you know devour the problem without our attending to it.

There will always be conflict, there will always be competing interests that force us to engage in the hard job of governing ourselves. And so the anti-government thing strikes me as a perversity. I don’t think the founding fathers would recognize it. They were constructing a government of the people. That’s their language and I think that’s their belief.

And the idea that the government is some, you know, once we start regarding it as some alien force that we can’t control, we’re done, democracy’s done. That’s the last stage of walking away from the responsibility of governing ourselves. If we can’t control it, if it is going to be a purchased government, if we can’t institute the reforms that are necessary, then we’re done, we’re done right now.

Read The Interview Transcript

America - Suffering a Pandemic of Misinformation

February 9th, 2014 by Andy in Deconstructing The Media

Patrick Smith takes to task yet another volley of misleading half-truths from The New York Times, a paper too cowed by power and myth to tell the truth about U.S. foreign policy

Never before have I written a column concerning nothing more than a pair of quotation marks. Then again, never until now have I seen the power of punctuation so perniciously deployed.

It is not a new trick. Very popular in hackdom during the Cold War decades. Enclose something in quotation marks and all between them is instantly de-legitimized; no argument or explanation need be made. Here, try it:

“… the Cuban ‘doctors’ sent to Angola…”
Or: “… Soviet-made ‘farm equipment’ in Portugal since its 1974 revolution…”

Well, they were doctors and it was farm equipment. In the latter category I sat in a Soviet tractor out in the Portuguese vineyards, and damn it if the camponês did not find it useful.

In the end, this kind of thing is simply passive aggression, my least favorite neurosis. No one actively lies such that one can confront and reveal. It is lying by misleading and by implication, so sending us off full of groundless conviction and prejudice.

This is pretty much how it works. This typifies why we so desperately need more civic-minded media education in our schools. Programs which teach media literacy and critical thinking skills, in order to manage the bombardment of imagery and information we are increasingly deluged with in the digital world.

He nails a point here we’ve been focusing on for years at USTV Media

In my view, we are amid a pandemic of misinformation as to our global behavior. The dishonesty with which we are given the world, an essentially fantastic version of it, is becoming abject to the point of danger. And it is frighteningly willful. Here is the paradox: We cannot bear to see things as they are because things as they are constitute a refutation of our dearest mythologies, but we must see things as they are if we are to make sense of ourselves in the 21st century.

As the famous quote from James Madison once explained - or perhaps warned;

A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.

That is one shark we collectively as a nation seemed to have jumped some time ago. The costs of this are going to continue to rise, until they reach catastrophic proportions, like history always teaches us they do, when the large masses of people fall into a servitude of ignorance to their ruling classes.

The adage among properly cynical diplomats used to be that they were sent abroad to lie for their country. During the Cold War, as Washington’s sponsored atrocities grew evident, the thought took a turn: Diplomats were sent abroad to lie to their country.

Consider it a template and apply it to our press folk.

Correspondents used to be sent abroad to keep the country informed (in theory, at least). Now correspondents go forth to send home a simulacrum of truth, a semblance, while keeping their country misinformed.

Read The Full Article

The Divide Between The Two Americas of Rich and Poor and What It Means

February 5th, 2014 by Andy in America and Its Revolution...Is it Over?, Video

David Simon, a journalist and producer of the popular television series The Wire, delivers one of the most succinct descriptions of the problems that are ailing the United States - politically and economically - that one will hear anywhere.

We at USTV Media are enthused about posting this presentation, because it echoes the major points that we have been striving to make over this past decade plus; that you cannot have a workable society if it is run on market principles devoid of social values. You need a society in which neither capital or labor is allowed to dominate. Simon discusses how we either have a representative government or we don’t, and if it is not serving us in that capacity, that should be a call to arms towards rehabilitating and restoring it. Wall Street and the market logic as a guiding parameter for organizing society is doomed to failure, and reversing its destructive qualities will either be done in some practical way when things get bad enough, or it will keep going until people get desperate enough to resort to violence. Today, the triumph of capitalism has become complete, to the point that it has bought the electoral process, he one venue for reform that remained to Americans.

This goes to the heart of another point we’ve been making at USTV Media, that when your democratic society is ruled by the market, you become a market society, one in which everything becomes a commodity and is for sale. Including the rules. And when you can buy the rules, you win the game.

There are so many interesting points raised in this talk, we couldn’t begin to outline them all here. What do “small town values” mean in a mass, urban world? There is the role that race plays, and why class has become the real dividing line in our current political dynamics, and much more. It is well worth taking the time to watch.

Simon provides a written synopsis of his talk in this piece which ran last fall in The Guardian, There are now two Americas. My country is a horror show.

For as Simon recently told Bill Moyers

We’ve changed and we’ve become contemptuous of the idea that we are all in this together…

The horror show is we are going to be slaves to profit. Some of us are going to be higher on the pyramid and we’ll count ourselves lucky and many many more will be marginalized and destroyed…

I don’t think that you can call the American government anything other than broken at this point. And I think the break has come at the legislative level. I mean, that’s the part of the government that has been purchased.

Watch the complete, must-see interview with Bill Moyers

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