01 December 2011

A Slumgullion of Linkage

Wisdom of the West's Man of the Year, Julian Assange, has, despite his legal troubles,* done it again. Wikileaks has published a devastating set of files documenting the use of surveillance technologies by governments world-wide: "Mass interception of entire populations is not only a reality, it is a secret new industry spanning 25 countries. It sounds like something out of Hollywood, but as of today, mass interception systems, built by Western intelligence contractors, including for ’political opponents’ are a reality. Today WikiLeaks began releasing a database of hundreds of documents from as many as 160 intelligence contractors in the mass surveillance industry..." It may not be that anyone is actively monitoring what you do at any given moment, but if someone with access and reason wanted to find out say, at some point in time, where you were and what you were doing at any given moment, they might be able to discover it via your smartphone or PC or GPS.

[* Agreed. Sexual assault is sexual assault. If Assange is guilty of same, he must answer for it. Same with Herman Cain^—who, as an establishment Republican, will never be treated as shoddily as Assange, despite the very real evidence of his behavior. What evidence? you might ask: Cain's employer, the National Restaurant Association, a U.S. lobbying firm for mostly fast-food, unhealthy joints had to pay settlements to not one but two female employees totaling some $80,000, who claimed Cain sexually assaulted them when he was the head of that company. Gag orders were imposed as the price of these agreements. That being said, Assange is not seeking election to the highest office.

{^ Does anyone not see the telltale, semi-covert, yet ham-handed machinations of Karl Rove (and his Crossroads SuperPac) all over the serial character assassinations of Mitt Romney's opponents (Palin, Trump, Bachmann, Perry, & Cain) in the Republican Presidential primary race? Really?}]

Meanwhile, Bradley Manning, who allegedly gave Wikileaks access to tens of thousands U.S. diplomatic communications—documents which Wikileaks released—is still somewhere under a jail awaiting formal court procedures.
Speaking of criminal activity,
"Amnesty International is calling for the arrest of former President George W. Bush while he is traveling overseas in Africa.
The human rights group issued a statement Thursday calling for the governments of Ethiopia, Tanzania or Zambia to take the former president into custody. According to Amnesty, the 43rd president is complicit in torture conducted by the United States during his administration and should be held pending an international investigation. 
"International law requires that there be no safe haven for those responsible for torture; Ethiopia, Tanzania and Zambia must seize this opportunity to fulfill their obligations and end the impunity George W. Bush has so far enjoyed," said Amnesty senior legal adviser Matt Pollard in a statement."
Good luck with that.
Yeah, the Bush administration. Seems that Hank Paulson, Bush's SecTreas, acted in concert and collusion with the 'too-big-to-fail' Wall Street banks without Congressional knowledge and/or oversight by giving them a heads-up about forthcoming government action w/r/t FannieMae and FreddyMac and providing bailout monies of over $7 trillion, ten times more than was disclosed to the public. This from that radical news org. Bloomberg News. It isn't surprising that Paulson's buddies used these taxpayer funds to enrich themselves while the U.S. and, in fact, the world economy tanked.

Is there a crime there somewhere?
While we're on the topic of finance, here's a good Reddit discussion about the advantages Hedge Funds have over retail investors. It's a Wall Street type who's in sync with the Operation Wall Street crowd. The comments are particularly instructive and should be read. One interesting point is Warren Buffett's standing bet that an S & P 500 index fund will beat any hedge fund's returns over a ten-year period. The point being: if you're going to do any investing as an individual (and some of you might have that option in a workplace 401k, e.g.), a buy-and-hold strategy is best, and one which sits in a fund that apes the returns of the S & P 500 is about as good as you can get.
While we're on the topic of OWS: whither thou? OWS has become part of the news landscape. It's almost become like following the local weather. Rather than fade away, WoW hero George Lakoff recommends that the movement translate its cultural influence into electoral power much the same way the Tea Party exerted itself: to wit,
"gain power within the Democratic Party and hence in election contests all over America. All they have to do is join Democratic Clubs, stick to their values, speak out very loudly, and work in campaigns for candidates at every level who agree with their values. If Occupiers can run tent camps, organize food kitchens and clean-up brigades, run general assemblies, and use social media, they can take over and run a significant part of the Democratic Party.
To what end? All the hundreds of the occupiers' legitimate complaints and important policy suggestions follow from a simple general moral principle: American democracy is about citizens caring about one another and acting responsibly on that care.
The idea is simple but a lot follows from it: a government that protects and empowers everyone equally, a government of the Public - public roads and buildings, school and universities, research and innovation, public health and health care, safety nets, access to justice in the courts, enforcement of worker rights, and practical necessities like sewers, power grids, clean air and water, public safety including safe food, drugs, and other products, public parks and recreational facilities, public oversight of the economy - fiscal and trade policy, banking, the stock market - and especially the preservation of nature in the interest of all.
The Public has been what has made Americans free - and has underwritten American wealth. No one makes it on his or her own. Private success depends on a robust Public."
In local news, the Atlanta Fulton County Sheriff refused to carry out an eviction order against a 103 year old woman. Bravo, dude. Score one for the good guys and humanity.

By contrast, former Republican Sheriff of the Year, Patrick Sullivan of Colorado was arrested for selling meth for gay sex and was sent to the eponymous Patrick J. Sullivan Detention Facility. You can't make this stuff up. I mean, if I attempted to use this story for a novel, it wouldn't pass the laugh test.*

[* More on my latest project—and the cool serendipity that generated it—later. Or not.]
Now some rockin' toons:


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

much the same way the Tea Party exerted itself:

But the teapers were nothing but the Republican base, rebranded and given new marching orders by FAUX and assorted Koch Brothers astroturfer organizations (and with all that money behind the effort).

Will this work for OWS and the Democratic party (which also wants its share of the corporate money)?

that girl said...

I just discovered the sweetness of the Pale Saints this week digging through the music library at the radio station.

By the way, I've been lurking here a little while (thanks to the almighty Randal), good stuff!

that girl said...

Isn't Occupy kind of getting co-opted by the unions (which also have mad loot)?

Jim H. said...

@thatgirl: Thanks for coming in out of the lurking cold and commenting! Loved your TV show back in the 70s. RG's one of the good guys—almighty or not. "Co-opted" is a big word. You might be right. And then we have to go 'round re: whether that's a good thing.

@if: You are correct, sir. I've written much the same here and in comments scattered across the web. The question is yes, whither OWS? Must it worm its way into the establishment (unions, Dems, etc.) or maintain its purity? There will be schisms along this defile. Yes.

Randal Graves said...

Everything either gets coopted by dums or goopers (two sides of the same MIC coin) or eventually gets ignored save when occasionally recycled for crappy late-night monologues but I repeat myself.

On to more important issues than the silly future of humanity: did you survive jury duty?

-- The Decidedly Unalmighty Randal