Electoral Politics

Why my vote goes to the pirate party Lars Gustafsson According to an ancient source, the Emperor of Persia gave orders that the waves of the sea must be punished by beating, as the storm hindered him from transporting his troups by ship. That was quite stupid of him. Today, would he maybe have tried with Stockholm district court? Or a consultative conversation with the judge? It is odd, how strongly the situation spring 2009 – on the area of civil rights – reminds about the struggles over freedom of press in France, during the decades preceding the French revolution. A new world of ideas is emerging and would not have been able to, were it not for an accelerating technology. Raids against secret printing houses, confiscated pamphlets and – even more – confiscated printing equipment. Orders of arrest and adventurous nightly transports between Prussian enclave Neuchâtel – where not only large parts of the Encyclopedia was produced, but also lots of daring pornography, between the atheist pamphlets – and Paris. Between the 1730’s and 1780’s, the number of state censors in France was doubled by four. The raids against illegal printing houses was rising at about the same pace. In retrospect, we know it did not help. Rather, the increase of censorship and printing house raids had a stimulating effect on the new ideas and made them spread even faster. Now the conflict rage over the net’s continued existence as a forum of ideas and as an institution of civil rights, protected from privacy-threatening interventions and against powerful private interests.
What’s Left After Obama? Simon Critchley From Adbusters Obama’s victory marks a symbolically powerful moment in American history, defined as it is by the stain of slavery and the fact of racism. It will have hugely beneficial consequences for how the United States is seen throughout the world. His victory was also strategically brilliant and his campaign transformed those disillusioned with and disenfranchised by the Bush administration into a highly motivated and organized popular force. But I dispute that Obama’s victory is about change in any significant sense. Obama’s politics is governed by an anti-political fantasy. It is the call to find common ground, the put aside our differences and achieve union. Obama’s politics is governed by a longing for unity, for community, for communion and the common good. The remedy to the widespread disillusion with Bush’s partisan politics is a reaffirmation of the founding act of the United States, the hope of the more perfect union expressed in the opening sentence of the US Constitution. It is a powerful moral strategy whose appeal to the common good attempts to draw a veil over the agonism and power relations constitutive of political life. The great lie of moralism in politics is that it attempts to deny the fact of power by concealing it under an anti-political veneer. At the same time, moralism engages in the most brutal and bruising political activity. But the reality of this activity is always disavowed along with any and all forms of partisanship. Moralistic politics is essentially hypocritical.
For all their differences and disputes, there is apparently one thing Barack Obama and John McCain agree upon wholeheartedly. The ultimate reason for their candidacy, for their desire to become US president, the most powerful political position in the world, is the opportunity to serve the American people. And what an interesting service they perform!
The results of the Panchayat Elections have been declared in West Bengal. Going beyond the wildest imaginations of both the ruling Party and the opposition, rural Bengal has given its verdict against the CPIM. In its 31 years of uninterrupted rule, the Left Front has never taken such a hit. The fact that it was unexpected makes the crisis even more critical.
http://www.sokwanele.com/thisiszimbabwe/ Chinese soldiers seen in Mutare April 16th, 2008 One of our activists yesterday evening received an email from a contact in Mutare, who saw and reported this: There are some chinese army personnel staying at the Holiday Inn here in Mutare and they are moving between their hotel and the local army/police HQ. What are they doing there? Especially at this time? A quick search this morning pulled this article up, published on zimbabwejournalists.com, which corroborates the truth of what he saw:
Venezuela 2008: A Libertarian Proposal for the Current Situation * The Collective Editorship of El Libertario, www.nodo50.org/ellibertario, expounds its vision of which path to follow in the current situation in Venezuela, summed up in the slogan, “Against the (B)oligarchy, demagoguery and corruption: Autonomous struggle of the underdogs!
Here is my own offer for ending the conflict (originally written almost 3 months ago, right after shmanapolis): Fellow Leftists...

Transnational Institute writes:

Networked Politics:

Rethinking Political Organisation

Rethinking Political Organisation in an Age of Movements and Networks
A reader produced by TNI, Transform! Italia, IGOP and Euromovements
January 2007

Networked Politics is the product of a collaborative research process for rethinking political organisation in an age of movements and networks. In a world where the traditional institutions of democratic control have been weakened by an unconstrained global market and superpower military ambitions, it uncovers diverse forms of resistance with the potential to create new institutions for social change. The authors set out the principles upon which such transformations should be based, and the challenges that stand in the way of their realisation.

The discussion is then pursued along four interrelated lines of inquiry. These examine social movements, including their development of new forms of knowledge and organisation; progressive political parties, and attempts to bring about transformative forms of political respresentation; the dangers and opportunities facing the development of political institutions in a network society; and the potential of new techno-political tools for facilitating and reconceiving political organisation. A series of case studies are also offered, drawing critical lessons from the experience of the German Green Party; the 2006 French mobilisation against the controversial CPE employment law; and an extended discussion on 'open source as a metaphor for new institutions'.


Download the reader as a single file (7.29 MB) or by chapters (below).

Solve et Coagula writes:

"The United States of Barbarism"

James Bovard, Future of Freedom Foundation

September 25, 2006

The U.S. Senate is cutting a deal with President Bush to make America a banana republic. Last week, three senators reached an agreement with the White House that will de facto permit the CIA to continue torturing people around the world. And the deal will prevent anyone — including Bush administration officials — from being held liable for the torture.

This is latest sign that our elected representatives in Washington believe that the federal government deserves absolute power over everyone in the world. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell warned recently that Bush’s efforts to gut the Geneva Conventions would cause the world to "doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism.”

But more important, the Senate-White House torture deal should cause Americans to doubt the moral basis of their entire government. After 9/11, many Bush administration officials seemed determined to use any and every means to bludgeon people suspected of terrorism or terrorist intent. The Justice Department delivered to the White House a memo in August 2002 explaining why Bush was not bound by the War Crimes Act or the Anti-Torture Act.

The memo began by largely redefining torture out of existence. It then explained why even if someone died during torture, the torturer might not be guilty if he felt the torture was necessary to prevent some worse evil. The memo concluded by revealing that the president has the right to order torture because he is above the law, at least during wartime (even if Congress has not declared war).

The Justice Department declared that the president may effectively exempt government officials from federal criminal law, noting that “Congress cannot compel the President to prosecute outcomes taken pursuant to the President’s own constitutional authority. If Congress could do so, it could control the President’s authority through the manipulation of federal criminal law.”

The memo’s absolutism would have brought a smile to despots everywhere: “As the Supreme Court has recognized ... the President enjoys complete discretion in the exercise of his Commander-in-Chief authority and in conducting operations against hostile forces.... we will not read a criminal statute as infringing on the President’s ultimate authority in these areas.”

Thus, the “commander-in-chief” label automatically swallows up the rest of the Constitution. Yet, as Yale Law School Dean Harold Koh observed, “If the president has commander-in-chief power to commit torture, he has the power to commit genocide, to sanction slavery, to promote apartheid, to license summary execution.”

This is the doctrine that the Senate-White House deal largely codifies. It will be up to the president to declare which interrogation methods U.S. agents can use — almost regardless of the Geneva Conventions. It will be up to the president to decree who will face “rough” interrogation.

The details of the torture deal vivify how our politicians no longer give a darn about maintaining even a pretense of due process. The agreement will permit the use of coerced confessions in military tribunals — turning the judicial clock back to the 1600s. The Washington Post noted that the agreement permits “defense attorneys to challenge the use of hearsay information obtained through coercive interrogations in distant countries only if they can prove it is unreliable.” Thus, there is a presumption of correctness to whatever accusation is bludgeoned out of people in secret prisons around the world.

And it will be almost impossible to disprove an accusation when a defense lawyer is not allowed to question — or perhaps even know — who made the charge.
But that is fair enough for the U.S. Congress.

The New York Times noted that the agreement “would impose new legal standards that it forbids the courts to enforce.” Thus, it will be impossible for the vast majority of detainees at Guantanamo to challenge their detention.

The unverified accusations of U.S. government officials will still be the highest law of the land. The habeas corpus rights that go back to the Magna Charta of 1215 will be null and void under the agreement for many, if not most, detainees.

The torture scandal shows what happens when politicians and political appointees are permitted to redefine barbarism out of existence. If the government can effectively claim a right to torture, then all other limits on government power are practically irrelevant. What would it take to make the public acquiesce to the torture of Americans? Would simply applying an “odious” label (such as “cult member” at Waco, or “Muslim” with John Walker Lindh) to the victims be sufficient?

[James Bovard is the author of Attention Deficit Democracy [2006] as well as The Bush Betrayal [2004], Lost Rights [1994] and Terrorism and Tyranny: Trampling Freedom, Justice and Peace to Rid the World of Evil (Palgrave-Macmillan, September 2003) and serves as a policy advisor for The Future of Freedom Foundation. Send him email.


Solve et Coagula writes:

"How to Hack a Diebold Voting Machine"

Marty Kaplan

Diebold Hack

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