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Awakening Radical Geeks

July 22, 2013 by toritto1942

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In January 2008 Anonymous, a loose collection of “hackers”, previously known only for cyber bullying and cracking copyrighted software, attacked the Church of Scientology’s web site. The Church had been trying to scrub the internet of pictures of Tom Cruise acting crazy. The sudden shift to political activism, known as “hackerism”, changed the way political issues could play out on line.

Four months later, Wikileaks got it’s first scoup; the theology and “bibles” of the Church of Scientology, which it published on line. The litigious church wanted the information taken down. Fat chance. Wikileaks never took down the postings.

Anonymous has since attacked internet service companies and government websites filling the space vacated by Wiki after it was thrown off of Amazon and Pay Pal concerned over the legality of publishing government secrets.

The rise of both organizations, Wiki and Anonymous, has sparked a geek awakening. These geeks, known previously for their attitude rather than their political awareness, are challenging the traditional notions of governance.    Read more

Obama and the Coup in Egypt

July 12, 2013 by toritto1942

So does anyone really believe that the Obama administration had nothing to do with the removal of Mohammed Morsi as the duly elected President of Egypt? If you do, I’ve got some nice land I would like to sell you here in Florida.

Did you notice the casual indifference as Egypt spiraled into chaos? You were supposed to notice. Obama went golfing; John Kerry went sailing. I mean we’re just bystanders, and those poor Egyptians — we hope they can sort themselves out. Yeah right.

These guys play a pretty fair hand a lot of the time, but they have overplayed this one. Anyone who thinks the U.S. is not complicit up to its eyebrows in the Egyptian army’s unlawful coup needs a refresher in our history.

It is now common currency to say that Morsi, who served just a year after he was legitimately elected in June 2012, failed some kind of democracy test. He did no such thing. There was a test, but the failure belongs to Washington. It professes to like democracies all over the planet, but it cannot yet abide one that may not reflect America’s will.    Read more

L'affair Snowden - What We Have Learned

June 20, 2013 by toritto1942

Ok. Snowden is on the run.

“It’s espionage!” “He’s a traitor!!”.

Yeegads. All for telling us that our government is listening to us and wants to listen to the globe.

“We have warrants!” shouts Obama,

And then in a whisper “from that secret FISA Court” that nobody knows anything about because it’s a secret. National security you know.

Google moved today for a declaratory judgement in Federal Court (the REAL court!) to be allowed to disclose the warrants it received from the NSA through the FISA Court (not to be taken as an admission that there are any warrants of course - they are secret), arguing that it’s business has been irreparably damaged.

Now suppose the security state can’t catch Snowden? Suppose he gets asylum? How would you feel if Obama put him on the drone list over a Tuesday afternoon coffee at the White House?

Nah. Of course he wouldn’t. Would he? He can. Maybe after getting a secret warrant from FISA Court so it’s all nice and legal.    Read more

Scalia's Devastating Dissent

June 5, 2013 by toritto1942

Justice Scalia finally made us proud.

In common with the vast majority of progressives I have considered our two Italian - American Justices to be running dogs of right wing conservatives / corporatists; borderline demi-fascists.

Scalia was on the side of Citizens United; against Obamacare; consistently voting with the other four right wing Justices. Obamacare passed Court muster only because John Roberts pulled a Becket, shocking his political allies.

Justice Scalia, on the other hand, has written several opinions in 4th Amendment cases which progressives should be cheering. His greatest opinions have involved his passionate defense of the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures. It was Scalia who held, for a majority of the Court, that police need a valid warrant before they can use thermal imaging devices on a suspect’s home, or track his movements 24/7 for a month using a GPS device. Scalia has also written memorable dissents in defense of privacy, including his denunciation of warrantless drug testing for customs employees as “a kind of immolation of privacy and human dignity in symbolic opposition to drug use.”    Read more

Picking Up The Flag

May 19, 2013 by toritto1942

Yes. I busted my ass for Obama the first time around.

Opened my checkbook, campaigned, knocked on doors. Did everything I could to see that he carried Florida in the Presidential election.

Not easy in a place where Fred Thompson signs were as common as plastic pink flamingos at the time during the primary and right wing nuts carried Soviet flags outside of local Obama campaign headquarters. Where women thought Palin was the essence of true feminism. I had the lone Obama sign on my lawn in a sea of McCain - Palin cardboard.

But I got the last laugh. At least I thought so at the time.

We had elected a Democratic President and controlled the two Houses of Congress. And we carried Florida.

Maybe something would get done.

Maybe universal healthcare. Maybe peace would come. Maybe a society which would leave behind racism. Maybe repeal of the Bush tax giveaways to billionaires. Maybe we would spend money on people rather than aircraft carriers. Maybe we would stop torturing people. Maybe Gitmo would close.

Maybe.    Read more

War and Conscription

May 13, 2013 by toritto1942

"Few probably recall the name Dwight Elliott Stone. But even if his name has faded from the national memory, the man remains historically significant. That’s because on June 30, 1973, the 24-year-old plumber’s apprentice became the last American forced into the armed services before the military draft expired.

Though next month’s 40-year anniversary of the end of conscription will likely be as forgotten as Stone, it shouldn’t be. In operations across the globe, the all-volunteer military has been employed by policymakers to birth what Gen. George Casey recently called the “era of persistent conflict.” Four decades later, we therefore have an obligation to ask: How much of the public’s complicity in that epochal shift is a result of the end of the draft? "

Thus wrote David Sirota last week in Salon.com.

"There is, of course, no definitive answer to such a complex question. However, a look back at some lost history shows that today’s public acquiescence to militarism was exactly what the government wanted when it ended the draft.    Read more

Boston and the National Freak-Out

April 22, 2013 by toritto1942

Last week was a tough week. Moments after the marathon bombings, first responders and ordinary citizens rushed in to provide help to the injured, not knowing whether or not they were putting their own lives at risk.

After those exemplary moments, the week went down hill as the nation went into freak-out mode. Pundits, politicians, news outlets and self-appointed sleuths on the internet heaped disgrace on themselves.

The talking heads went on interminably as if in filibuster; the news outlets got the basic facts wrong and the internet geeks identified an innocent guy as a suspect while never identifying the actual suspects. A New York tabloid ran a picture of the innocent guy on the front page. Wonder how his family feels.

Right wing media immediately picked on a “Saudi national” as a suspect (he apparently had nothing to do with Boston) and accused the “gummit” of suppressing the “story”.

We prayed that the bombers were “foreign” rather than white-bread Americans - turned out they were a little of both.

All the powers that be were doing their level best to shade the story for short term advantage, either in the ratings or politically.    Read more

Ding Dong the Witch is Dead

April 10, 2013 by toritto1942

Margaret Thatcher visits with Augusto Pinochet while he was under house arrest in London.

Margaret Thatcher is dead.

While we in the United States tend to lionize our departed Presidents, a la St. Ronnie of Santa Barbara, British politics is not nearly so genteel or forgiving. Her legacy will be debated much more critically in Britain than Reagans’s has been in the U.S.

Aging punk-rockers, Irish Republicans and trade unionists greeted the passing of Baroness Thatcher which much less solemnity. On Face book, a movement began to push “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” temporarily to iphone’s number one downloaded song.

Thatcherism embodied the ultimate unrestricted “free market” anarcho-capitalist principles. And Thatcherism did not see industrial unions as part of a “free market”. Her policies destroyed the union movement in Britain and essentially de-industrialized vast swathes of the country.    Read more

Bloodshed and Unemployment Insurance

March 28, 2013 by toritto1942

The New York Times front page on 7 March 1930, the day following the march for Unemployment Insurance.

Does it boggle your mind to see working class people using their time to demonstrate for less government involvement, while living off of unemployment or social security checks? What exactly are these people thinking? How can people work so directly against their own best interests?

It's an insanity that Thomas Frank noted in his book "Whatメs the matter with Kansas?":

"the country we have inhabited for the last three decades seems more like a panorama of madness and delusion worthy of Hieronymous Bosch: of sturdy patriots reciting the Pledge while they resolutely strangle their own life chances; of small farmers proudly voting themselves off the land; of devoted family men carefully seeing to it that their children will never be able to afford college or proper health care; of hardened blue-collar workers in mid-western burgs cheering as they deliver up a landslide for a candidate whose policies will end their way of life, will transform their region into a "rust belt," will strike people like them blows from which they will never recover."    Read more

Are You a Prol?

March 22, 2013 by toritto1942

Labor Day Demonstration against child labor - 1909

So if "class warfare" actually breaks out (we’re not talking about beheading rich folks .... yet!) with what "class" do you identify?

Are you "middle class, upper middle-class, lower class?" These are categories we love to use and always see in the corporate media.

These categories are based on how much you make and how much you consume. They assume you work. You have a job. If if are "lower" or "middle" class you cannot stay home and live on accumulated wealth or on income generated by others working for you. Yet rarely are such folks characterized as "workers".

The broad categories of class are better defined by your relationship to the process of the production of wealth.

You are either a worker, selling your labor because you have no other adequate source of income or you are an owner, a capitalist whose income is generated by others - i.e workers in your factory/corporation or your investments, or your accumulated wealth.    Read more

Life Before Social Security

March 16, 2013 by toritto1942

This year I will be 71 years old, assuming I make it and I have close family now into their eighties. I was born in the first year of WW II and my older relatives born in the 1930s during the Great Depression.

When I was a kid grandparents lived with their children and their grandchildren. One of the kids took in their mom and pop while the rest of the kids were expected to kick into the pot to provide for their support.

That’s the way it was before Social Security.

Folks were expected to work until they died which usually wasn’t long. The average life expectancy for a male in the 1920s was 49 years. If you lived longer there was no expected retirement age. You worked until you could no longer work or until you could no longer find work.

Then you were expected to live on your savings. Home ownership at the time was below 20% in the lower working class and the average wage adjusted for inflation in today’s purchasing power was around $13,000. So usually old folks didn’t have sufficient resources to live on.

So you went to your children if you had any. It was expected. Grandma usually got one of the children’s bedrooms.    Read more

Learning from Crassus

March 10, 2013 by toritto1942

Marcus Licinius Crassus was the richest man in Roman history. Indeed, he is considered one of the richest men who ever lived. He made his fortune as a supporter of the dictator Sulla by confiscating the properties of Sulla’s political enemies.

He was also a shrewd acquirer of real estate, especially when it was on fire. Rome had no fire department; fires were left to burn themselves out. Crassus organized some 500 men and, when there was a fire, he would show up and offer to buy the property for a song. After the beleaguered owner sold out the burning buildings, Crassus would call on his fire department to put out the flames and then restore the buildings.

In any case, Crassus was described by Plutarch as the ultimate man of avarice. Crassus never had enough and always wanted more.

It was Crassus who, wishing to add glory to his wealth lead the legions which defeated Spartacus in the slave revolt. Several Roman armies were off fighting elsewhere and Crassus offered to personally equip several legions and lead the fight against the slaves. Initially he had trouble.    Read more

Minority Report and Rand Paul

March 7, 2013 by toritto1942

Remember the Tom Cruise movie "Minority Report" released in 2002? Sure it seemed liked science fiction at the time.

Washington D. C. is virtually crime free in the year 2054 due to the effectiveness of the "Pre-Crime Unit". This unit arrests and jails individuals before they even commit the crime thus sparing society from the scourge of lawlessness.

How is it determined who will commit a crime in the future? A crime that hasn’t happened yet?

Why the "pre-cogs"- pre-cognitives provide the names of future criminals. The pre-cogs are three gifted humans who can see the future, give the information to the Pre-Crime Unit so that hero Tom can go out and sweep these pre-criminals off the street..

Being a pre-criminal can make jury trials and those pesky constitutional issues a major annoyance. After all, no crime has a yet been committed so the system can’t exactly charge the perp with any wrong-doing. There may be some circumstantial evidence of a pre-crime but maybe not.     Read more

Taxes and Guns!! What a Day!!

December 21, 2012 by toritto1942

What a great day!!

First of all we watched the spectacle of the GOP openly revolting against Speaker Boehner’s ludicrous "Plan B" stunt.

As one Republican put it - "Voting for a tax increase on millionaires is the most difficult vote of their careers for many Republican House members".

Also not voted on was chief weasal Eric Cantor’s proposal to change the "fiscal cliff" cuts to military spending and instead cut food stamps, services for the disabled, school lunches etc.

Merry Christmas!

Is there still any doubt that these House members are intent on strangling government rather than governing?

Better we should all hold hands and jump over the mythical cliff. Democrats can then immediately introduce legislation to restore the tax cuts for those making less than $250K a year and dare the GOP House to vote against it.

Subsequent to this fiasco, we watch the Fuehrer of the NRA making his "meaningful" contribution to the gun debate.

All schools should be armed.

Just frikking brilliant.

No discussion of banning weapons of war or high capacity magazines. No discussion of closing gun show loopholes. No. No. No.

Nope.    Read more

Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora, Newtown

December 15, 2012 by toritto1942

I posted this after Aurora. Unfortunately it fits again.

And so we have another "massacre", this time in Aurora, Colorado, maybe 20 miles from Columbine. Pretty soon we can just start characterizing these barbarities as "incidents".

This one is life imitating art. Apparently the young man colored his hair red and called himself "The Joker"; Batman’s arch nemesis was going to spoil the midnight showing.

Our young man had no trouble at all buying four guns at local gun stores, and chemical weapons, full body armor, a gas mask and some six thousand rounds of ammunition over the internet. He had it all shipped directly to his school dorm and to his apartment - over 60 deliveries by UPS alone. Fifteen thousand dollar’s worth of shit.

Did anyone ever ask why this kid, who wasn’t a cop or in the military needed full body armor?

Naah. This is a free country.

As it turns out our brilliant neuro-scientist was a loner and totally forgettable if you passed him on a street or saw him on a bar stool. No criminal record. No Face Book page; no girl friend; no close buddies apparently.

Forgettable.    Read more

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