Digital Bedbugs

Scientists have recently mapped the complete genome of Cimex lectularius at the exact same moment that corporations have created digital bed bugs, tiny devices able to do far more than just suck your blood: They can spy on you.

But that’s not the only thing in your home that may have eyes, ears and more: Even your door lock may provide the key for big corporations to access your personal privacy, according to a new study entitled, Don’t Panic: Making Progress on the ‘Going Dark’ Debate.

The report by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, reveals just some of the technology already doing undercover work for tech companies.

“Appliances and products ranging from televisions and toasters to bed sheets, light bulbs, cameras, toothbrushes, door locks, cars, watches and other wearables are being packed with sensors and wireless connectivity,” the study reveals.

All these devices can be “connected to each other via the Internet, transmitting telemetry data to their respective vendors in the cloud for processing.”

It turns out that every cloud does have a silver lining — for big business and spy agencies, at least.

The list of corporations developing merchandise capable of snooping on their customers is a virtual who’s who of the world of high tech.

“Phillips, GE, Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Tesla, Samsung, and Nike are all working on products with embedded IoT (Internet of Things) functionality.”

The scale and extent of these new spying technologies go far beyond the dark inventions of an Ian Fleming or a Iain Banks, and mask real potential for sinister use.

These technologies include: “Sensors ranging from gyroscopes, accelerometers, magnetometers, proximity sensors, microphones, speakers, barometers, infrared sensors, fingerprint readers, and radio frequency antennae,” all created “with the purpose of sensing, collecting, storing, and analyzing fine-grained information about their surrounding environments.”

Ironically the initial goal of the report, funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, was not to reveal the extent of corporate spying but to “begin to work through some of the particularly vexing and enduring problems of surveillance and cybersecurity.”

Toward that aim the “group” brought together “security and policy experts from academia, civil society, and the U.S. intelligence community.” During what they described as a “public debate,” they explored concerns by the NSA and other spy agencies that new encryption technology on cell phones and other devices might prevent them from monitoring communications by terrorists and other criminal groups.

After rigorous discussion, the majority of participants agreed that focusing on the use of encryption devices “does not capture the current state and trajectory of technological development.”

“A plethora of networked sensors are now embedded in everyday objects,” the findings state. “These are prime mechanisms for surveillance.”

In one of the few mentions of the potential perils of such developments the Harvard group acknowledged that these technologies “raise troubling questions about how exposed to eavesdropping the general public is poised to become.”

Yet with an ebullient and dangerous detachment, the report suggests the “‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) promises a new frontier for networking objects, machines, and environments in ways that we are just beginning to understand.

“When, say, a television has a microphone and a network connection, and is reprogrammable by its vendor, it could be used to listen in to one side of a telephone conversation taking place in its room – no matter how encrypted the telephone service itself might be.”

“These forces are on a trajectory towards a future with more opportunities for surveillance,” the report concludes matter-of-factly.

As if to reassure the NSA and other spy agencies that they need not fret about lost reconnaissance due to encryption devices, the Harvard group asserted “The audio and video sensors on IoT devices will open up numerous avenues for government actors to demand access to real-time and recorded communications.”

The study findings do suggest that the “Internet of Things” devices could pose a threat to civil liberties, especially for those who live in “totalitarian societies.” However the participants did not include a definition of a totalitarian regime, and for good reason: Given the current state of affairs, the United States of America would likely fit the description.

The report cited examples of the dangers of IoT technology that have already appeared in the media.

According to the document, “In February 2015, stories surfaced that Samsung smart televisions were listening to conversations through an onboard microphone and relaying them back to Samsung to automatically discern whether owners were attempting to give instructions to the TV.”

The study went on to report that, “A statement published in Samsung’s privacy policy instructed users to ‘be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through your use of the Voice Recognition.’”

Another case involving an “in-automobile concierge system,” was also described, one that “enables the company to remotely monitor and respond to a car’s occupants through a variety of sensors and a cellular connection.”

You have probably seen these devices promoted by car manufacturers on TV. Through a cellular connection a driver can speak with a company representative who can remotely monitor the car’s computer and, through software, start the auto if the car key is lost, diagnose mechanical problems, or dispatch a tow-truck.

According to the report, during the course of an investigation the “FBI sought to use the microphone” to capture conversations between “two alleged senior members of organized crime.” A federal court in Nevada required the company give access to the FBI, and though through appeal the Ninth Circuit “disallowed the interception on other grounds,” it “left open the possibility of using in-car communication devices for surveillance provided the systems’ safety features are not disabled in the process.”

Even “Hello Barbie!” dolls now have the functionality to provide intelligence for companies. Mattel manufactured a doll that “interacts with children by recording their conversations with a microphone, processing it in the cloud, and sending verbal responses through a speaker on the doll.”

There’s more: “Devices like the Nest Cam record high resolution video with a wide-angle lens camera broadcast over the internet to account holders…. The Nest Cam can also exchange data and interact with other devices, such as Nest’s thermostats and smoke detectors, which themselves contain sensors and microphones.”

Stating what is both fact and a warning, the report reveals, “Law enforcement or intelligence agencies may start to seek orders compelling Samsung, Google, Mattel, Nest or vendors of other networked devices to push an update or flip a digital switch to intercept the ambient communications of a target. These are all real products now.”

 CONCLUSION

The billionaire owners of firms like Google claim they take “great care” to ensure the technology they develop “will ultimately serve you, rather than our own internal goal or bottom line.”

Clearly the opposite is true.

It is of utmost importance that freedom-loving people understand that many of the tools they are using to promote social change and organize resistance have a dual nature. Social networks and digital devices provide a means to reach a vast audience and to help organize progressive movements. However, they are also a major source of both political and economic power for billionaire class.

What’s more, and this is crucial: In these times when fascists have come out into the open, seek the highest office in the land and organize other reactionaries and militia groups, we must keep in mind that if they were to gain power, the internet and all related devices would provide an extremely sophisticated means of identifying and locating the opposition. It would also provide them with means to create and distribute propaganda that would have a far greater reach than anything ever imagined by Hitler and Goebbels.

All the more reason for progressives to resist, using tools of the internet, but more important — good old fashioned grass roots organizing.

copyright © 2016 J. P. Bone

 

 

 

Karl Rove Gives Hillary a Gift

Hillary Clinton points to ads run by a Karl Rove super pack as proof that the RepubliKlan would prefer to face Bernie Sanders in a general election.

To use a football analogy, what Rove did is a double-reverse, an old but seldom-used trick. Often the easiest way to figure out why politicians say or do things is to measure the result. Clearly the Rove ad was a gift to Hillary, one she accepted with open arms.

“I think it shows how desperate the Republicans are to prevent me from becoming the nominee,” Clinton said with a big grin. “I find that, in a perverse way, an incredibly flattering comment on their anxiety, because they know that not only will I stand up for what the country needs, I will take it to the Republicans.”

Anyone who has followed Karl Rove’s career knows that LITTLE is as it appears in the hands of this self-styled student of Machiavelli. If polls are any indication, Sanders would be a much more difficult candidate for the RepubliKlan to defeat in a presidential contest than Clinton. Why? Because Sanders has changed the calculus of the entire campaign by taking on the Billionaire class and Wall Street. People understand that less than 1 percent of the nation’s population control most of the wealth, the media, and the levers of government. It is for THAT reason Rove gave such a generous gift to Clinton, Inc., at this very early stage of the campaign: you see Clinton is a not only a representative of the ruling class, she is a fully vested member.

FRIENDS, at the risk of upsetting folks, we should ALSO be very clear that even if Sanders is elected president, without a strong organized people’s movement based on solidarity between all progressive groups and elements — especially those in the working class — Sanders would be able to accomplish little. What’s more, and this may upset some people, but I sure hope the Sanders campaign considers this: as Sanders comes closer to winning the nomination, he will increasingly be in the sights of the neo-fascists, the reserve secret army of the ruling class.

Though he is not a revolutionary, Sanders has already changed the political situation in the U. S. For the first time in decades, the media is forced to follow a campaign that aims to take on the wealthy and the power structure itself.

We must not ignore the history of those who have threatened the status quo in the past. Let us remember what happened to the socialist, democratically-elected president of Chile, Salvador Allende, who was overthrown by a fascist coup backed by the CIA on September 11, 1973.

Here in the United States, Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated after speaking out against the war in Vietnam, and perhaps more infuriating to the ruling class, connecting the struggle for Black liberation with organizing the working class.
That was in 1968, after the movement had already lost Malcolm X back in 1965, after HE began linking the struggle for Black Liberation to a battle against the capitalist system.

Even a wealthy man who became a reformer was murdered after winning the California Democratic primary in 1968. That, of course, was Robert Kennedy.

This is a violent nation and the billionaires like it that way. It helps keep them in power.

Ultimately we need to build a powerful movement to fundamentally change, from top to bottom, a very entrenched system that is based solely on making profit for the wealthy, no matter what the impact on people and the planet itself.

Bernie Sanders does not call for the end of the capitalist system. But as an independent left-liberal, one with integrity and a consistent progressive record, he deserves people’s full support, including grouchy old armchair revolutionaries like me.

Just the factoids, Ma’am

We sent our very high tech internet reporter, Deranged Danny, on assignment to Sal Si Puedes, Arizona, to determine if undocumented workers from Latin America force wages down for American citizens — charges leveled by Donald Trump and others.

 

D-dot-Danny, as he is known, visited a street corner where immigrants gathered in search of work early one sizzling-hot morning. This is his report live! on IoT!

 

“Hello, everyone, D.Danny here with an e-report for the millions of freaks seeking dollars and sense and other advice on their favored device from a truly divine geek sublime. Today we’re doing an awesome story with real social impact so keep your other apps open as you grip your smart phones and bone-up watching those holograms shimmy and shine!

 

“Today’s question is: “Do undocumented workers drive wages down?’

 

“Holy crap, dude! watch out for that old lady crossing the street!” D.Danny shouts as a teckie — mesmerized by her smart phone and most unmindful — races her Prius through a stop sign. “Jesus, that was close!” D-dot declares. “You nearly nailed her! Awesome!”

 

D.Danny wipes the sweat from his brow.

 

“Okay, like I said, it’s an awesome morning here in Sal Si Puedes, one of the fastest growing towns in Arizona.”

 

Danny covers his mouth with his left hand, forgetting his google watch is set to pornify.itt. He whispers into his collar phone, asking his boss: “Is it still kosher to call places by their Spanish name? I think I saw a tweet from Trump about that…” He listens carefully to the response, pushing the white earplug deeper into his cavernous ear. Nodding his head with enthusiasm at the answer, he replies, “Awesome, Mr. Suckerberg, sir! Thanks a billion!”

 

Turning back to the camera, an app on a friend’s Google contact lens, D.Danny begins again:

 

“Sorry about that, hashtag-heads, tweetdopers and whoopeebook junkies of the universe. As I was saying a group of undocumented Latinos arrived early in the morning at this very un-awesome street corner way out here in the suburbs of Trumpland, a place where contractors and other businessmen routinely go to hire day workers. Be ready to ‘share’ and poke ‘like!’”

 

Three Anglos pull up in ten-foot-tall turbo diesel one-and-a-half-ton pickup truck, the anti-personal grill in front emblazoned with the brand name: Road Kill. Two giant Anglos leap from the monstrous vehicle, quickly pivot, and with supreme caution — as two slaves might carry a king — dutifully lift their boss out of the cab and carefully set him down on the pavement. A group of Latino workers gathers around as the boss adjusts his cowboy hat, narrows his eyes, and haunches his frail shoulders.

 

“Hola, amigos,” he says. “My name is Frederic Kingsley van Biene, the Third. You can call me Bossman. Now. How many of you have experience roofing?”

 

All the workers raise their hands.

 

“Awesome,” he says, thinkin to himself: easy money. Frederic Kingsley van Biene, the Third, looks them over carefully like a judge evaluating livestock at a state fair. “I will pay each of you $12 an hour to do a roof today. Is that cool or what?”

 

There is a muffled commotion as the workers talk it over in Spanish. The Bossman seems perplexed, and turns to his foremen. “Maybe you should offer a buck more?” one of the foremen says, his suggestion offered with a timid upward inflection. Frederic Kingsley van Biene, the Third, removes his brand-new spotless cowboy hat and scratches his pallid bald head.

 

The laborers push one man forward as their spokesman.

 

“Ah, well, mister Bean, we all talked it over,” the spokesman says. The bossman grimaces. As the worker grips his sweat-stained cowboy hat, rolling and squeezing the rim, he swallows hard and continues: “Well, it’s like this: we must insist that we be paid less than that — it is far too much!”

 

Frederic Kingsley van Biene, the Third, is bewildered. He rolls his eyes back as if to read a screen on the inside roof of his brain. A grin forms across his pot-marked face.

 

“Well, you’re right, dudes, it’s true. I don’t imagine any of you have papers. I mean why the hell would you be hanging around on this incredibly hot street corner at this impossibly early time of day in this God-forsaken place looking for a job if you had papers? And honestly, I don’t care about any of that. In fact I much prefer to, ah, help hard working people from south of the border, you know. Viva Frank Zappa! and all that. But I’ll pay you $11 an hour, though it is way more than I need to, you being Mexicans and all — I mean it’s cool, you know, because, well, this is a kinda dangerous job. It’s a two-story house, you see, and one side of it overlooks a cliff with, well, a darn good drop. About a hundred feet. And the roof is very steep, too, you know, nearly a 38-degree angle. Now no worries, I’ll be providing you with the most modern ladders. They’re cool looking, too. Also I’ll provide you with awesome safety equipment — a thirty-foot rope and a pocketsize copy of the New Testament.”

 

“What about the tar?” one of the foremen ruefully asks the boss, hand shielding his mouth.

 

“Oh, that’s right, I nearly forgot to mention that. Doing a roof, as you all surely know, includes working with tar. No biggy, really. I mean it’s hot. Well ya gotta boil it before it’s soft enough to put on the roof, you know, and even in this heat it takes a while to melt tar so you can use it. Just make sure that you keep your gloves on. If you don’t have gloves, no worries, I’ll provide you with a cool pair. I’ll just deduct it from your pay. Anyway it’s because the job is just an itsy bitsy bit dangerous that I’m willing to pay you ten bucks an hour — before taxes, of course…”

 

The spokesman for the workers, a man who speaks and fully understands Arizonian English, briefly consults with his fellow laborers. After a moment, he responds:

 

“We have talked it over, and — no disrespect! But we won’t work for any more than the minimum wage!” he says with righteous conviction. “It’s only fair, you know. Heck for twelve dollars…”

 

Ten,” Frederic Kingsley van Biene, the Third, interjects.

 

“…Yes well for ten dollars an hour you might — maybe, you know, though it’s a stretch, but times being so tough, you might be able to hire a gringo for that much, though you really would have to pay taxes for them. So we only agree to work for — well at the max the minimum, which here in Arizona is eight dollars and five cents an hour.”

 

The other workers nod their heads up and down in support, a few slapping their leader on the back. “We want to drive wages down for our North American brothers, you know!” the leader asserts.

 

“And for our North American sisters!” adds a Latina worker in the back of the crowd. “In fact, whatever you are going to pay the men, I insist you pay me a dollar an hour less!”

 

“Well,” Frederic Kingsley van Biene, the Third, says, “that is awesome!” And the bargain is struck.

 

The camera turns back to D.Danny, who is slipping his index finger up and down his smart phone, gazing at a stream of photographs with a lecherous grin before he realizes he’s being filmed. He turns to the camera:

 

“Okay, so now we know the facts: Mexican workers do drive wages down…

 

“If you want to watch the entire video, go to comodify.net, enter the bit coin algorithm, and for fifty bits you can see the whole show. Just swipe yer phone across your temple chip so we can send you daily updates!” he says, and with his left hand hiding his lips whispers, “and swipe your data…” And with a mega-sized celebrity smile, he wraps up: “Excellent! This is D.Danny saying have an awesome day!”

 

copyright © 2016 J. P. Bone

The Second Crucifixion of El Salvador

An immigrant from El Salvador who has been living “legally” in the United States since 1989, may soon be forced to return to that Central American nation.

Unlike hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans who are deported every year for working in the U.S. without papers, Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova was warmly welcomed when he arrived in Miami from El Salvador; in fact he was greeted like a king and quickly granted permanent residency.

Why? Vides Casanova was Minister of Defense in El Salvador and in command of the National Guard during that nation’s Civil War (1980-1992).

It may seem strange that Vides Casanova would get a hero’s welcome in the U. S. since during Civil War in El Salvador, tens of thousands of innocent people were tortured and killed by the military and government-backed death squads.

According to the New York Times, before Vides Casanova retired to the United States with a generous pension, he “was praised by American officials as a reformer struggling to root out human rights violators from his corps.”

In fact Vides Casanova “participated in or concealed torture and murder by his troops.”

In an important decision, the U. S. Board of Immigration Appeals ruled March 11 that, among other crimes, Vides Casanova “covered up the role of National Guard troops under his command in the rape and murder of four American churchwomen in December 1980. Those killings,” the Times piece said, “as much as any others by the Salvadoran armed forces during the decade-long war, revealed the rampant violence of the military that Washington staunchly supported in its Cold War confrontation with leftist guerrillas.”

The United States provided over $7 billion in weapons and financial assistance to the dictatorship in El Salvador in the 1980s. It also provided military training for the Army, National Guard, and even to death squads organized through that nation’s Treasury Police.

Why did the United States support the dictatorship in El Salvador? They were but one legion of shock troops in a century-long effort by the U. S. military industrial complex to maintain control over all of Latin America and its people.

In the 1980s, the FMLN — a united front of progressive political groups — led the people of El Salvador against a military government that had ruled since The Matanza of 1932, a massacre of 32,000 peasants by General Maximiliano Hernandez Martinez. General Martinez, one of El Salvador’s many dictators, murdered peasants in the tens of thousands in order to crush a planned revolt organized by Farabundo Martí, the Salvadorean revolutionary from whom the FMLN derived their name.

So when the people rose up as they did in El Salvador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Cuba, Venezuela, Chile, Argentina, Guatemala and throughout Latin America, the U. S. did what they have always done when the people try to take control of their own country and make changes there: They intervened.

In fact since the proclamation of the Monroe Doctrine, every time a nation south of the border has attempted to solve its own problems in a manner that did not meet the approval of major US banks and corporations, military advisers have been sent, arms appropriated, sanctions imposed, coup d’etats engineered, and troops dispatched. As a result, nothing much has changed in Latin America since 1825 — the date of the first US intervention there.

Seventy-five thousand people died during the Civil War in El Salvador; hundreds of thousands fled the violence and mayhem during the 1980s and beyond, most of them finding their way to the United States.

It’s a terrible irony that people forced by a deranged military dictatorship to flee their homeland should seek sanctuary in the nation that supported and supplied the regime that oppressed them. It is an even crueler twist of history that those refugees, and their children, would, upon their arrival in the U. S., and for decades to come, be viewed and treated as criminals.

By interfering directly in a war of liberation, one lead by the heroic FMLN, the U. S. prevented El Salvador from charting their own destiny. As a result, even after Peace Accords were signed in 1992, and democratic elections staged, that country is still to this day recovering from the damage wrought by that war, one that leveled forests, destroyed industries and infrastructure, damaged almost beyond repair the rule of law, and wounded the very psyche of the people. The brutal and devastating war also created ideal conditions for the introduction of a massive narcotics trade, well organized narco-criminal groups, and a state of lawlessness that continues to hold that nation, and much of Latin America, in its grip.

Just last year thousands of children, many traveling on their own, endured the perilous journey from El Salvador to the U.S. in an effort to escape gang violence and mob rule. Most were quickly deported, though many await an immigration hearing. Unlike Vides Casanova, they await those appeals in jail.

At a 2014 deportation appeal, Vides Casanova’s attorney, Diego Handel, told an immigration judge that it was unfair to deport his client because “The United States government was an active participant on the side of the El Salvadoran government,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

“U.S. officials have not been held accountable for their role in the violence,” the attorney said.

copyright © 2016 J. P. Bone

 

to read the New York Times piece by Julia Preston, published March 12, 2015 click on the following link:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/13/us/general-in-el-salvador-torture-and-killings-can-be-deported-immigration-court-rules.html?_r=0

 

 

 

 

Hillary is the Bomb

“He has said he would do anything I asked,” Hillary Rodham Clinton declared with astonishment, extra double-A eggs with blue bulls-eyes dangerously close to popping out of her head.

Hillary was, of course, referring to her housemate, publicist, political strategist, campaign manager and chief fundraiser Bill. A delighted crowd purred with expectation as Hillary waited for just the right moment: “I would put him to work!” she said adding a huge exclamation mark just outside the dialogue balloon.

Bill in a pink apron cooking lentils, Bill tending to the roses in the garden, Bill paying the bills, Bill cleaning the tub, Bill washing the dishes, Bill coaching a girl’s soccer team…

Wait a minute — nothing domestic for Bill! This is an international assignment.

But Bill going around the world? And with Hillary’s blessing? So theirs IS an open marriage, after all…

Suddenly Hillary takes great pride announcing how many people “love Bill.” And many have. “I’m very lucky that my husband has been so experienced in all these areas,” she said with a twinkle in her eye.

If it is possible for Hillary to get out of character for just a minute it seems that she may be violating some tenet of bourgeois feminism invoking as she has the image and influence of her husband to further her own career.

Or am I still living in the 60s?

Next thing you know the Democratic front-runner will be flirting with the notion of including Bill in her cabinet, which would require a legislative measure of some audacity, which, flashing forward then back, would require a miracle of some magnitude – that Hillary be elected President of the United States.

Of America.

Or perhaps all of this is simply a campaign ploy, part of “the conversation,” Hillary’s way of helping us “visualize the future.”

Let’s try.

Close your eyes for a moment and tilt your head back… That’s it.

Keep your eyes closed tight now! Yes there you are, in the crowd… And there SHE is… Hillary, right hand raised in the brisk morning air, palm arched, fingers stiff, nearly a military salute, Oliver North swearing to tell the truth, a hand gesture laden with more meaning than any other, save one.

A Woodstock-size crowd hushes, poised as it is to witness history and take cell-phone photos of the Capitol Rotunda, Hillary Rodham Clinton, uncharacteristically on the left, facing the Supreme Court Chief Justice, on the far right as usual, a historic moment, the climax of a long career, faithful spouse Bill facing the crowd, behind the Bible, he has Nancy Reagan eyes…

“So help me God,” Hillary swears.

The masses erupt with adoration, a seething orgasmic swirl of love gushing across the land. Another Clinton White House! Let the party begin!

Ah but that is all just a fantasy now, though among oddsmakers six will give you nine that Clinton will win the nomination. That’s clearly what corporate America expects, where they’ve wagered their bread… Yes almost all the big boys are behind Hillary, behind Bill, behind the Clintons. Politics makes strange bedfellows, it is said, in this case bringing together an estranged husband and wife and the military industrial complex in a ménage à trois, weapons of mass destruction far more arousing than leather, whips and chains.

“I can’t think of a better cheerleader for America than Bill Clinton, can you?” Hillary said with an impish grin.

But wait a minute, there’s just one problem with Bill as national cheerleader – remember? He got caught with his pants down. Yes it was just a blow-job, yes it was just a little white lie he told, but he said it under oath and was impeached. Bill should have said it under his breath, under the covers, under wraps. But he didn’t. And yes, it’s damn unfair — Republicans can screw people and get away with it when democrats get in trouble just opening their mouths.

But Bill DID have sex with that woman. Yes that one. And it was such a humungous moment in history that it even changed the way people define carnal relations. PART OF THE LEGACY of Bill Clinton is that a lot of young people think they can have oral sex and claim they didn’t – have sex, that is…

But despite Bill’s violation of marital vows he proved over and over again his fidelity to something bigger — the Clinton’s unorthodox open marriage, a blissful union of free markets and new age fascism.

Let us not forget that Bill ushered through the GATT and NAFTA treaties, cut the safety net for immigrants, attacked poor people under the guise of welfare reform, while always — always — demonstrating absolute fidelity to the big corporate donors that are the holy union of Clinton, Inc.

As far as the whole Lewinsky affair goes, Bill confessed and asked to be forgiven, establishing what is now ritual, a key element of political liturgy — the blessed act of contrition. Bill paid penance for his sins; he traveled the world and visited the sick and homeless, raising money for the disadvantaged and the poor.

And now he has been called again, this time to help poor Hillary.

“I believe in using former presidents, particularly what my husband has done,” Hillary explained, “to really get people around the world feeling better about our country. We’re going to need that. Right now, they’re rooting against us and they need to root for us.”

And Bill can do much to buttress what voters think about Hillary, to make them feel better about her, to root for her, to send her money.

Remember this is a Clinton we’re talking about, not some left-liberal or progressive, for godsakes, certainly not a reformer. She’s as safe a bet to stand for, well, nothing as a $20 wager that Bill will get caught with his pants down again, something that simply won’t happen with Hillary… And Hillary wears pants, too, a la Diane Feinstein, the Democratic trend-setter in the Senate, modeling the last word in fashion as well…

Some of her critics suggest that Hillary is no longer a feminist: No liberated woman would put up with someone like Bill, the argument goes. Okay maybe Hillary isn’t as militant as Maria Shiver, so what? Her corporate backers know what she is, the voters know what she stands for, which is more than they can say about a lot of the other candidates for president. Hillary has a clear identity: She is a hawkish dove, a conservative liberal, a foe of welfare and friend of the indigent. Hillary opposes the War in Iraq and “certainly wouldn’t have voted” for it if she knew then what she knows now, though clearly it was not a mistake for her to give George Bush the power to bomb Baghdad.

In short Hillary is as Clinton as they come. All she needs is a little more sex appeal. And that’s simple: She just needs to threaten to invade Iran, and to “not rule out” the use of nukes. Not rule out, mind you. That is an important detail. Yes Hillary has to show us her muscles, demonstrate her strength, prove she will take-no-prisoners. U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.! THEN her nomination will be assured because then Hillary – not George, not Barack, not Tom, Dick or Harry, but Hillary will be the bomb.

Still relevant after all these years

originally written for These Green Times

copyright © 2008 J. P. Bone

Why Mandela accepted a market economy

The media is still trying to figure out exactly why — or even if — Nelson Mandela changed his views about socialism. Clearly Mandela was a socialist prior to becoming president (he said so in his autobiography, The Struggle Is My Life ).

What would it have meant if South Africa had become a socialist country rather than a capitalist one? And why is it that, at least in public, Mandela seemed to abandon the socialist  dream?

If South Africa had become socialist, the oil, gas, coal, and mining companies, the big banks, and medical industry would have been nationalized. No longer would the rich control all of the nation’s wealth. The people — the working people — would have more than just a vote: they would have some measure of social justice. In real day-to-day terms that would mean clean water, decent housing, competent medical care at no cost, and an  environment protected from the ravages of capitalist exploitation.

A living breathing socialism should promise freedom from hunger, disease, poverty, and the God-given right to dignity, self-respect, and a life with purpose and meaning. Sadly that is not the condition of the working class or the poor in South Africa — or just about anywhere else.

But socialism was not in the cards in South Africa in 1992. Why did Mandela appear to backtrack on his views before becoming the nation’s first democratically elected president?

In a revealing column in the business section of today’s New York Times, Andrew Ross Sorkin shared his view, and that of author and Mandela biographer Anthony Simpson, about why Mandela “changed his mind,” and embraced capitalism…

Ironically things appear to have changed after Mandela met with representatives of the People’s Republic of China at the 1992 meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. According to Sampson, the Chinese capitalists told Mandela, “We are currently striving to privatize state enterprises and invite private enterprise into our economies. We are ‘Communist Party’ government, and you are a leader of a national liberation movement. Why are you talking about nationalization?”

Though socialist Cuba offered to help Mandela build socialism, there was little they could do to assist an economy as large as that in South Africa. After all, the Cubans were trying to keep their heads above water after the U.S. capitalists imposed a brutal embargo on their tiny island nation.

It is easy to understand why Mandela “changed his mind”: if China embraced capitalism, who could Mandela turn to for support?

What’s more the ANC was a liberation movement, a united front of many different tendencies and social groupings, including capitalists. Due to its class basis, structure and stated goals, the ANC was in no position to lead South Africa to a revolutionary social system.

As it was they faced a monumental task: uniting the people of South Africa — a multi-ethnic, multi-national people — into one nation, while abolishing apartheid and dealing with an entrenched racist ruling class.

Being a practical man, Mandela chose the fight he thought he could win. By doing so, the people of South Africa, led by Mandela, made one of the most astonishing achievements  of the 20th Century — they abolished apartheid.

I’m pretty damn sure Mandela knew that to bring true democracy to South Africa, freedom from want, and dignity for all the people, it would eventually need to become socialist.

He made the correct decision, under the circumstances. And the struggle that remains  for the masses of people in South Africa is the same great struggle which all of us who support social justice, peace and freedom around the world must undertake if we are serious about saving our planet: Socialism.

12/09/13

The following Sorkin’s piece as it appeared in today’s NYT: http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/12/09/how-mandela-shifted-views-on-freedom-of-markets/?_r=0

OTHER READING:

The Struggle is my Life

By Nelson Mandela

Murdock, the Chamber of Commerce and Immigration “Reform”

You’ve really got to wonder just how terrible a bill must be if Rupert Murdock and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce actively support it.

Yet these and other Big Corporate groups are now promoting legislation they refer to — with a straight face — as “Immigration reform.”

Have you taken a careful look at the “reforms” being kicked around by the U.S. House of Representatives?

Wow. I thought the SENATE BILL was Bad.

Yet things are so horrendous in the House of Representatives that the Mad Tea Party faction thinks the Senate immigration bill is too damn liberal, especially the so-called “pathway to citizenship.”

Among other loathsome provisions, the Senate bill would create a system forcing  undocumented workers to come forward, declare that they are living in the U.S. “illegally,” register with the government, pay a “penalty” for their status, and pay taxes but receive absolutely no benefits whatsoever — no unemployment, social security, disability, medical care — no nothin. And they would have to live that way for 13 years before they could apply for a green card.

Not enough for the far right. Members of the Mad Tea Party get red-faced and start foaming at the mouth about the Senate Bill, claiming that such a program would encourage “illegal immigration” and reward “lawbreakers.”

But exactly who is breaking the law? It is those who pay workers less than the minimum wage; that force people to work in unsafe conditions without benefits or legal rights; it is a government that requires workers pay taxes but refuses to give them any benefits from those taxes. The Law Breakers — the real criminals — are those that deny people their democratic rights. And we all know exactly who they are: they are the capitalists, the big corporations, and the government that they rule.

There are many honest dedicated progressives that are being duped into defending  legislation — such as the Senate bill — that claims to fix the “immigration system.” They are understandably anxious to win some sort of victory this year.

But progressives need to take a very careful look at what specifically is being proposed before endorsing any bill simply because it claims to be Immigration Reform.

In the current situation — one where right-wing conservatives are battling with the extreme far right — we need to focus on one element of true immigration reform: We must actively  support the Dream Act — legislation that would give permanent status to all young folks who came to this country without papers. .

There are thousands of dedicated people who have worked hard and put themselves on the line for this most righteous cause.We need to support them! Let’s make sure their efforts are not undermined by politicians eager to expand their political base by passing    corporate-friendly anti-worker legislation dressed up as immigration reform — bills like that passed by the Senate and even more treacherous ones currently floating around in the House of Corporate Representatives. Let’s focus on the Dream Act and make it clear we won’t be fooled into supporting anti-worker, anti-immigrant bills promoted by Rupert Murdock, Marco Rubio, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

What if?

Congress Institutes Draft!

All young men and women

Ages 17-30

Required to Register!

President Issues Order

To Draft 500,000 Soldiers

For international battlefronts

Register Today and you can pick your own theater of war

Battlefronts include: Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Vietnam, Taiwan, India, Pakistan, Burma, Nepal, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Yemen, Egypt, Korea (North or South)

That’s right get ready to go and fight for the big corporations that rule this country because if the U.S. attacks Syria — which is an act of war — War likely will be the result.

Just because some right-wing republicans oppose Obama does not mean that Obama is in the right. The U.S. is controlled by big corporations — oil companies, big banks, television, internet, drug manufactures, finance companies, etc.

That means that Obama is not really in charge. He is essentially the CEO of the Board of Directors of Corporate America. Ultimately he must do as they say.

Let the People Speak Up and Demand: No War in Syria!

The Arabian Nights

Will the United States attack the war-ravaged nation of Syria, raining down upon the ruins and masses of people huddled there a hailstorm of tomahawk and hellfire missiles?

Will President Obama follow in the footsteps of the Bush/Cheney Regime and intervene directly, without provocation, against an Arab nation, committing yet another horrible war crime?

The drums of war are pounding and unless the people stand up and oppose any intervention in Syria, there is a very real chance that more innocent people will die and that the civil war in Syria may become the first front in a global cataclysm.

KERRY’S LONG FACE

Days ago, Secretary of State John Kerry warned that the United States may intervene in the terrible civil war in Syria after hundreds of innocents from a town just outside of Damascus were killed by something that may — or may not have been a chemical weapon.

Kerry described the murderous incident — which may or may not have been sanctioned by the regime of President Bashar Assad — as a “moral obscenity.”

It’s hard to imagine what could be more obscene than for the U.S. military to turn its firepower on a nation already  devastated by war. Such an attack would do absolutely nothing to bring back the innocents who died in Moadamiyet al-Sham, the small town outside of the capital where hundreds of guiltless people, including small children, perished in the night.

ENDLESS WAR IN THE MIDDLE EAST

The Cheney/Bush Regime clearly thought attacking Iraq and Afghanistan would be relatively easy, and as modern wars go, it was: It’s relatively easy for a powerful nation to unleash a military attack against a smaller and less-powerful country.

It is war that is difficult, brutal, onerous and seemingly without end.

And if anything should have been learned by the wars fought in the past fifty years, it is this: superior firepower does not ensure victory. In the long run, no invader, no matter how powerful, can defeat the people if they are united against an aggressor. This is a lesson that all superpowers — and would-be superpowers — should have learned.

If the U.S. military attacks Syria, a country that has done nothing to this nation or its people, such an act of war, no matter how “limited,” will undoubtably result in calamitious consequences for the people of Syria, the United States and the world.

One of many ironies in the current crisis is that many right-wing “Republicans” are demanding that President Obama get authorization from Congress before any military action in Syria. They point to the U.S. Constitution as the basis for their demand.

The satire is, of course, that the Republican Party, in particular the Mad Tea Party caucus, is savagely militaristic and would launch a military attack on the inner cities and poor hamlets and towns of the United States if they thought it would be to their advantage and that they could get away with it.

What’s more, past presidents, especially in the current era, have managed to attack countries without provocation, without penalty, backed by both republicans and democrats.

The irony this time is that if Obama authorizes an unprovoked attack on Syria, the republicans will likely impeach him: he will  have committed an impeachable offense, violating Article I, Section 7, of the U.S. Constitution.

Of course it was also an impeachable offense for the Republican Bush/Cheney Regime to lie to Congress about the existence of “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq in the prelude to war there, a war that devastated that nation, the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent people, and thousands of American soldiers who went to fight believing they were defending the United States against terrorists.

In fact, the Bush/Cheney Regime, brought to power by illegitimate means, should have been impeached for that and other crimes. What’s more they should have been tried in a court of law for High Treason.

STAND UP AND RESIST!

Let’s make certain that the Obama Administration, one that many of us supported at the ballot box, does not go down in history for committing their own war crimes and authorizing what could well be the first strike of World War III.