Human Rights

The great Christian, Mr Donald Trump,(I speak jokingly) has rebuffed the admonitions of the Pope Francis. “It is wrong to question a man’s Faith”, says Mr. Trump.
No, Trump, you are wrong. It is the leader of a church’s duty to define what is and what is not Christian. That, a grade-school child could tell you. Actually, even a layman such as I can say for certain that Trump does not speak as a Christian, not only from his statements about a wall along the border, but from his threat to “bring back waterboarding, and a lot more.”
But he draws a crowd, and gets cheered on by the kind of people who attend his rallies. This is how low we have sunk, as a nation. The world outside of the USA understands this as well as we do. The following is an excerpt from a British publication, The Guardian. Nick Moss’ words are quite insightful.

The country that gave us the secret detention centres at Bagram air base, Abu Ghraib and Camp Cropper to carry out its detention and interrogation programme without interruption or challenge; the country that gave us Guantánamo Bay and drone assassinations, is now called on to be a force for “democracy and human rights”. I suspect the “young, educated population” of the region has long since ditched any faith in such empty promises. Anyone who retains such belief need only look at how the US stood by while the military took power in Egypt and massacred about 1,000 protesters at Rabaa al-Adawiya square on 14 August 2013. After the Rabaa massacre the US continued to provide the Egyptian state with $1.5bn of aid per annum. So much for fostering rationality, legality and compassion.
Nick Moss
London
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/20/us-in-no-position-to-lecture-on-compassion

_________________________________________________________________________________________
So, you see, our reputation as a nation has been destroyed.
I would like to present another excerpt from a writer for the Miami Herald. This episode illustrates how utterly stupid Mr. Trump and his followers are, if they think torture is helpful, in interrogating and prosecuting terror suspects. This one article tells us that the very fact that a prisoner has been tortured, renders all of his information, and confessions, NULL AND VOID. Is it only lawyers that know this? Not only do you get false information (they will say anything to stop the torture), but prosecution becomes impossible, because they were illegally detained, and treated in an illegal manner.
To know the depravity of the torturers of our military, and not be shocked and appalled, this is foolish beyond belief. It reeks of evil. Those who can’t see that, ARE evil. The excerpt:

By Carol Rosenberg

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba

Defense lawyers in the Sept. 11 case screened grisly scenes of torture from the Hollywood movie “Zero Dark Thirty” at the war court Thursday in their bid to argue that the CIA gave filmmakers more access to evidence than lawyers in the death-penalty case.

The clips shown by attorneys for alleged 9/11 conspirator Ammar al Baluchi included a bruised and battered character named “Ammar” being put in a coffin-sized box, being doused with ice water in a mock waterboarding scene and being strung up by his arms, during rounds of CIA interrogation.
U.S. Army military judge Col. James L. Pohl, shown in this July 7, 2005 file photo at Fort Hood, Texas, is the chief of the Guantánamo military commissions judiciary.
U.S. Army military judge Col. James L. Pohl, shown in this July 7, 2005 file photo at Fort Hood, Texas, is the chief of the Guantánamo military commissions judiciary. LM OTERO ASSOCIATED PRESS

“This is a movie, not a documentary,” protested prosecutor Jeffrey Groharing. Army Col. James L. Pohl, the Sept. 11 trial judge, overruled the objection.

In the courtroom at the time was Baluchi, whose attorney Jay Connell said was subjected to some of the techniques, including being told to stand on a mat and threatened with a beating if he stepped off. Connell told the judge that actually happened to his client, but it was not publicly known when the filmmakers included it.

The stark images of torture punctuated a day of largely technical presentations by prosecutors on how they wanted to proceed with providing the captives’ lawyers with evidence about the years the alleged Sept. 11 plotters were kept in CIA black sites.

Lawyers for all the accused terrorists call the details of their clients’ torture critical to challenging the legitimacy of statements their clients gave law enforcement authorities at Guantánamo, after the black sites. They also want it to argue that the United States has lost its moral authority to execute them if they are convicted.

Prosecutors argue that some information needs protection as national security secrets and some is not relevant. They say that, under the rules that govern the war court, they and the judge get to decide what the defense lawyers get.

In their Zero Dark Thirty motion, filed in 2013, Baluchi’s attorneys argue that the U.S. government gave screenwriter Mark Boal and director Kathryn Bigelow more information for the movie than the lawyers have themselves seen of Baluchi’s years in CIA custody.

They are seeking information about the CIA’s briefings of Bigelow and Boal beyond a series of partially redacted emails released to Judicial Watch under the Freedom of Information Act. But Groharing told Pohl that he had examined the redacted emails and, while they contained classified information, none of the information withheld under FOIA was responsive to the defenders’ requests.

Pohl looked baffled by the suggestion that the information furnished to the filmmakers was unavailable to the defense attorneys. “Did Bigelow and Boal have a clearance?” he asked.

“No,” Groharing replied.

The screening itself was a departure from the dry legal arguments in years of pretrial hearings of the five men who allegedly conspired to direct, train and fund the hijackers who killed nearly 3,000 people on Sept. 11, 2001.

It was a graphic, if fictional, illustration of some of the things the so-called Senate Torture Report shows went on in the CIA black sites

“When you lie to me I hurt you,” says a Hollywood version of a spy agency interrogator. “You want the water again?… Give me a name.”

The day ended with defense attorneys photographing KSM’s scars

To which the character Ammar replies, “I don’t know,” and is strung back up.

After court, Connell said that the film contained uncanny representations of Baluchi’s real-life CIA experiences, including the mat scene in which he would be beaten if he stepped off.

The courtroom was silent but for the video clips, according to those who were inside, not watching on a 40-second delay. Defense attorney Cheryl Bormann said she looked away at one point, and was sick to her stomach.

Connell said Baluchi had seen the clips before but “was visibly upset” during the screening. “Mr. al Baluchi sat in court today and watched film clips about his own torture.”

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/guantanamo/article61163027.html#storylink=cpy

[End of article.]
As fate would have it, in the news today, we hear of President Obama’s upcoming visit to Cuba, during which, we are promised, Barak will bring up Cuba’s troublesome human-rights record. Guantanamo Bay is in Cuba. The Castros only need to take a short drive to see, if they could get inside, the USA’s shining example of human rights. The emperor stands naked, and doesn’t know it.
The President will NOT visit Guantanamo.
He could fulfill his promise to close GITMO, if he wanted to. Congress is resistant, yes, but this is an excuse, not a reason. G.W. Bush opened the thing without any input from Congress. Obama can close it without Congress’ approval. Indeed, Tom Cotton, and Mitch McConnell, and other Republicans, have voiced the will to keep Guantanamo prison operating on a permanent basis. It’s like saying that you want to prevent a cure for cancer. We are being guided by fools and idiots. The fruit of such things is sure to hit us soon.
Thomas Ashez

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A Letter From Me to the Reader.

A Letter.
From me to the reader.

In 2004, I had a web blog (web log?), called Left USA, on which I criticized the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.
I saw plainly that the USA had made a terrible mistake, in electing a man, George W. Bush, who was more than ready to become a “war President”, and then by allowing these wars to take place. There were massive protests, yes. But it would be several years before many in the media would arrive at the same conclusion I had reached in 2004. The following is an excerpt:
Now, I find myself in the only country in the world that is currently expanding our sphere of influence in the world by invading and taking over other countries. And the recent history proves that these occupied nations are in every way worse off after our invasion. There is more opium production than ever in Afghanistan.
Iraq is a total mess, by our own admission. The only victory we can claim is the recent elections, if it be a victory at all. The pro-American slate did not win the election. The Sunnis boycotted the elections. Now, we keep our fingers crossed, hoping to avoid sectarian violence. The Kurds want autonomy. The Sunnis want a say in government (which the Shia are quick to agree to at present, but wait until “push comes to shove”). In this time following the election, violence has not abated.
Fears are that the insurgency will even grow worse. If the US forces withdraw, chaos could be the result. If they stay, the resistance will be energized.

All of this because we elected a man who said he would fight “the forces of evil”, by removing from office a man who was supposedly an “imminent threat” to the world. We deposed the Taliban from power in Afghanistan. All of this was supposed to be somehow to avenge ourselves of the attack upon the World Trade Center. We have since discovered that Iran and Afghanistan had nothing to do with the attack. We were duped by our own leadership.

So one must re-examine our former ideas about the inherent goodness of the United States of America.
But we need not hang around to watch it all go down the tube. I suggest
to all who are like-minded to consider emigrating to a more civil country.
One doesn’t need to go far. Canada is a lovely country, quite
accessible, and their west coast is beautiful (and the rest, as well).
South America has some nice places. Cuba has its good points.
The cost of living in some of these places is much lower than in the
States. And if things keep going the same here, what with the patriot
act and all, you’ll probably have more freedom of speech over there, and
feel much less threatened in your new foreign home.
[End]
As you can see, even then I was considering leaving the USA. There were other things in my life at that time that made me think of foreign travel. For over a decade I had been a sign painter and designer. I specialized in painting big, high billboards on location, hanging a walkway by ropes. This entire industry underwent a sudden change in the early 2000s. Now almost none of them are hand-painted. They are printed on gigantic printing machines, onto vinyl, and stretched over the face of the sign. My trade had become obsolete.
Additionally, I had injured myself badly, by falling from a sign. My ankle was permanently deformed, as a result, and now one leg is longer than the other. My climbing and painting days were over, for two big reasons, you see. So I felt it would be good to go into teaching English overseas. This I did, in Slovakia and in the Czech Republic from 2002 to 2010. At the time of the Left USA post above, I had been to Slovakia, and then returned for a year or so, before going to Czech.
Even then, I felt pretty pessimistic about the possibility of progressive change in America. But since then, day by day, I have grown even less hopeful about the country. After being back for five years now, I have determined to leave again. This time, I want to go to Cuba, to personally protest the presence of the Guantanamo torture gulag, and to demand, alongside the Cuban people, that the military base there be dismantled, and returned to the rightful owner.
The final last straw, for me, was my disappointment in the fact that Gitmo has not been closed down, despite the promise of the President to do so. He has been strongly resisted, of course, by the Republicans, who vow to keep the damned thing open forever. I think there will be enough of these savages in government to succeed in doing just that.
Still, I must go, and be a witness against my own country, come what may. There are people there now, held illegally in permanent detention, with no rights at all. In fact, that is the reason they were taken there; to establish a “no-human-rights zone”, outside of the USA. I contend that military bases ARE part of the country, and so it is impossible to have such a place that is outside of the jurisdiction of the Constitution.
Here is an article about one of the Gitmo detainees: he wrote:
“Freedom should be much more precious for the human being than all the desires on earth. And we should never give it up regardless of how expensive the price may be.” – Tariq Ba Odah, Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, 2013
Witness Against Torture is calling for an emergency fast to highlight the case of Guantánamo prisoner, Tariq Ba Odah, a Yemeni man who has been detained at the prison without charge since 2002 and cleared for release in 2009. According to his attorneys, Tariq, who at 74 pounds—56% of his ideal body weight– is on the brink of death according to three health officials. Please consider fasting on Friday, September 18, 2015 in solidarity with Tariq Ba Odah and the remaining 115 Guantánamo prisoners.
The following is an excerpt from an article by Amy Goodman:
http://www.truthdig.com/report/print/close_guantanamo_–_then_give_it_back_to_cuba_20150107
Posted on Jan 7, 2015
This week marks the 13th anniversary of the arrival of the first post-9/11 prisoners to Guantanamo Bay, the most notorious prison on the planet. This grim anniversary, and the beginning of normalization of diplomatic relations between the U.S and Cuba, serves as a reminder that we need to permanently close the prison and return the land to its rightful owners, the Cuban people. It is time to put an end to this dark chapter of United States history.
“The detention facilities at Guantanamo for individuals covered by this order shall be closed as soon as practicable,” President Barack Obama wrote nearly six years ago, in one of his first executive orders, on Jan. 22, 2009. Despite this, the prison remains open, with 127 prisoners left there after Kazakhstan accepted five who were released on Dec. 30. There have been 779 prisoners known to have been held at the base since 2002, many for more than 10 years without charge or trial. Thanks to WikiLeaks and its alleged source, Chelsea Manning, we know most of their names.
Col. Morris Davis was the chief prosecutor in Guantanamo from 2005 to 2007. He resigned, after an appointee of George W. Bush overrode his decision forbidding the use of evidence collected under torture. Davis later told me, “I was convinced we weren’t committed to having full, fair and open trials, and this was going to be more political theater than it was going to be justice.” Obama did create a special envoy for Guantanamo closure, although the person who most recently held the position, Cliff Sloan, abruptly resigned at the end of December without giving a reason. In a just-published opinion piece in The New York Times, Sloan wrote, “As a high-ranking security official from one of our staunchest allies on counterterrorism (not from Europe) once told me, ‘The greatest single action the United States can take to fight terrorism is to close Guantanamo.’”
[End]
Guantanamo, and our ‘black sites’, where torture is still carried out, are indeed the greatest recruiting tools for ISIS, and Al Qaeda. The following are excerpts from a fine commentary on the ongoing USA torture program:
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
>http://truth-out.org/buzzflash/commentary/the-united-states-must-stop-perpetuating-an-ever-changing-enemy?tmpl=component&print=1
“The existence of the approximately 14,000 photographs will probably cause yet another delay in the military commissions at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as attorneys for the defendants demand that all the images be turned over and the government wades through the material to decide what it thinks is relevant to the proceedings.”
This was the Washington Post a few days ago, informing us wearily that the torture thing isn’t dead yet. The bureaucracy convulses, the wheels of justice grind. So much moral relativism to evaluate.
What more can we learn that we don’t already know?
“On Nov. 20, 2002, (Gul) Rahman was found dead in his unheated cell. He was naked from the waist down and had been chained to a concrete floor. An autopsy concluded that he probably froze to death.”
So the Los Angeles Times informed us in December, in an article about two psychologists, Bruce Jessen and James Mitchell, who were serving their country in the early days of the War on Terror by developing the CIA’s torture methodology.
“When he was left alone,” the article reported, describing another detainee’s experience, “(Abu) Zubaydah ‘was placed in a stress position, left on a waterboard with a cloth over his face, or locked in one of two confinement boxes.’
“In all, he spent 266 hours — 11 days and two hours — locked in the pitch-dark coffin, and 29 hours in a much smaller box. In response, he ‘cried,’ ‘begged,’ ‘whimpered’ and grew so distressed that ‘he was unable to effectively communicate,’ the interrogation team reported.
“The escalating torment, especially the waterboarding, affected some on the CIA team. ‘It is visually and psychologically very uncomfortable,’ one wrote. Several days later, another added, ‘Several on the team profoundly affected . . . some to the point of tears and choking up.’”
And a few weeks ago, The (U.K.) Telegraph, quoting from the Senate Intelligence Committee Report, described the experience of Majid Khan, who “was raped while in CIA custody (‘rectal feeding’). He was sexually assaulted in other ways as well, including by having his ‘private parts’ touched while he was hung naked from the ceiling. . . .
“‘Majid had an uncovered bucket for a toilet, no toilet paper, a sleeping mat and no light. . . . For much of 2003 he lived in total darkness.’”
And the awkward part of all this, for defenders of the military bureaucracy, is that these torture procedures produced no information of any value. We sold our soul to the devil and got nothing at all in return. Bad deal.
[End]
And now, even recently, you see Brennan and Cheney, and people of high office, saying that we can’t completely give up on the torture tactics. They justify those who were involved. The moral compass of our country has become de-evolved into a testosterone-stoked beating on the chest, of being “tough on terror”.
And so, I am pessimistic about the future of the country. I believe that dissent, which is already criminalized, will be tolerated less and less, until honest journalists will not be able to live state-side. They will be harassed and spied-upon, arrested, and marginalized more and more. And it’s getting worse fast. If, God forbid, a Republican gets into the white house, (and I don’t think it’s possible), but IF other candidates divide against each other, resulting in a Republican government, of course things will get worse immediately. I don’t think I would be safe if I stayed here, and continued to strongly criticize the USA government.
My problem IS with the government, you see, and not with the American people, most of whom have no idea what their government is doing. Which is a good reason to continue speaking out, strongly enough to make a difference, and to affect change.
But I believe I would be better-off in Cuba, which is a government that has, historically, not co-operated with the USA, though I know that no human on earth is beyond the reach of the American special forces.
So I’m making plans to go. I envision something like a tent, beside the road to Guantanamo Naval base, with big signs and banners, protesting daily. I know, it sounds simplistic, idealistic. It is. And I know there’ll be troubled times in this kind of mission. But I have made the decision to become a revolutionary. Chris Hedges described the revolutionary mind in this way:
I think that sublime madness — James Baldwin writes it’s not so much that [revolutionaries] have a vision, it’s that they are possessed by it. I think that’s right. They are often difficult, eccentric personalities by nature, because they are stepping out front to confront a system of power [in a way that is] almost a kind of a form of suicide. But in moments of extremity, these rebels are absolutely key; and that you can’t pull off seismic change without them.
Yet you rebel not only for what you can achieve, but for who you become. In the end, those who rebel require faith — not a formal or necessarily Christian, Jewish or Muslim orthodoxy, but a faith that the good draws to it the good. That we are called to carry out the good insofar as we can determine what the good is; and then we let it go. The Buddhists call it karma, but faith is the belief that it goes somewhere. By standing up, you keep alive another narrative. It’s one of the ironic points of life. That, for me, is what provides hope; and if you are not there, there is no hope at all.
[End quote.]
Well, I started out writing about my pessimism, and ended up with brother Hedges’ quote about hope. But I’m not pessimistic about everything. For my future, I see an exciting time, during which I’ll, no doubt, confront many challenges and problems. There will be set-backs, delays, and so-forth. But just to know that I am doing all I can, day in and day out, for a cause that I strongly believe in, this will give me enormous satisfaction. Also, I’m sure I’ll meet a lot of nice Cuban people, and have a lot of interesting conversations. And, not least, but lastly, I do have my faith in God, as a liberal Christian, and I know that He (/She) will go with me anywhere.
Thank you for being a reader.
Thomas Ashez

Cuba

Che Guevarra
For many years, the people of Cuba have suffered because of the economic blockade of Cuba. This was done to them, not because Cuba was a threat to the USA, they were not ever a threat to anyone. It was done because Cuba refused to submit to the USA. The imaginary “bogie-man”, the enemy that was created to set up the cold war scenario, was communism, which was thought to be the world’s most insidious form of government. At least, that was the American propaganda. The socialist revolution brought by Fidel Castro and his partners booted out the capitalists that had turned Cuba into the brothel of the rich American tourists. Also, the resources of the rich Island were taken back from the corporations that had been raping Cuba’s natural resources, and, as in all good socialist revolutions, the wealth of Cuba became Cuba’s again.
Of course, those who had become part of the USA takeover, the rich elite, escaped to Miami, and they demonized the revolutionaries, since their capitalist playground had been taken away from them. They joined with the USA government to pour out propaganda, and indoctrinated their children to hate the government of Cuba.
My theory is that a certain type of individual is easily convinced by such propaganda, and will never forget it, never change their mind. This is the unintelligent, but highly ‘patriotic’ person, such as the idiot, Marco Rubio. The following is a quote from him.
“In the eyes of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, the Cuban people are suffering because not enough American tourists visit the country, when the truth is the Cuban people are suffering because they live in a tyrannical dictatorship.”
Rubio also said, “The Cuban people have a standard of living well below that of virtually every nation in the hemisphere.”
So the anti-Cuba mafia of Miami says that the government of Cuba is a dictatorship that is causing them to suffer, is it? In spite of the crippling blockade instituted by the USA, the United Nations Human Development Index ranks Cuba above Mexico, and above most of South America.
Their infant mortality rate is better than that of the USA, and universal health care gives every Cuban a life expectancy equal to that of the U.S.
Rubio has said he will reverse the rapprochement efforts of the Obama administration if he is elected. But he has no chance of being elected. And, actually, in the future, the USA must return the Guantanamo Bay back to the Cubans, and completely end the economic blockade against Cuba. My hope is that Americans will visit the Island and understand that the Cubans were never a threat to the USA. Also their eyes will be opened as to how we have been lied to all these years, and how unrighteous our government has been to oppress the Cuban nation for so many decades. It was done to protect the mafia method of domination. If one country is allowed to escape domination, then the other nations of South America might insist upon being liberated, as well. Well, all of South America is going to be liberated, and surely Cuba will never again allow the USA to dominate them, even after relations are normalized.
The revolution must be preserved and continued, never allowing corporate capitalism to take over.
It is so ridiculous to hear American politicians criticize Cuba’s alleged human rights abuses. And they say, “Political prisoners must be released!”, when so nearby, on the east coast of Cuba, the Americans have been running a torture camp, the Guantanamo gulag. And the government of the USA is so eagerly trying to get at Edward Snowden, and Julian Assange, both heroic whistle-blowers, exposers of America’s war-crimes, and the NSA’s unconstitutional spying on the American people. Dissidents such as John Kiriakou have been jailed and harassed. John’s crime was to reveal the Bush-era torture program.

One of these prisoners at Guantanamo is on the verge of death, but they won’t let him out, as they think it would encourage other prisoners to go on hunger-strikes. The following is an excerpt from an RT News article, and a link to the article:

A prisoner at the US’ Guantanamo Bay prison, who has been on a hunger strike since 2007, may soon starve to death, as prolonged force-feeding has apparently rendered his body incapable of absorbing nutrients. The DoD opposes the ailing man’s release.

Tariq Ba Odah, a Saudi resident of Yemeni descent, was captured in Pakistan and has been held in the Guantanamo facility since 2002. In 2009 he was cleared for release by the Obama administration, but remains in US custody. In 2007 he went on a hunger strike to protest his indefinite detention without charge. After more than eight years without taking food voluntarily, he weighs less than 34 kilograms and may soon die, his lawyer says.
The source added that hardliners in the Pentagon, who consider hunger striking a form of warfare, would not allow Ba Odah’s struggle for release go unchallenged. If his protest succeeded, it could encourage other hunger strikers and give the appearance that the DoD had suffered a substantial defeat, the reasoning goes.
[end of excerpt]
I personally was shocked that a couple of the comments left after the above article, were so negative toward the prisoner. Americans seem to be convinced that all of the detainees at Gitmo are guilty, to some extent. It’s as if their logic goes, “Well, the government has had them locked up, so they CAN’T BE innocent.” I can’t believe people like the Congressman Tom Cotton, who say that he hopes all of the Guantanamo prisoners “rot in hell, but if they can’t go to hell now, they can stay locked up from now on.”
If there were a good case against any of them, they would have been prosecuted by now, and given prison sentences. The fact is that if justice were served, all of them would be due massive remuneration as compensation for the injustices that have been done to them. There should be no place on earth that is a “rights-free zone”. This is a term that has been used to describe the Guantanamo bay prison. Guilty or innocent, they have been victims of torture and cruelty. They have been in prison, in miserable confinement for over a decade. They must be freed.
And the USA owes compensation to Cuba for all of the damage that has been done to them by our blockade, and by our clandestine attempts to overthrow the government.
But I hope the people of these two neighbor nations can find common ground, in our striving against injustice. We can develop friendships and alliances, get to know each other. It will be a truly good thing.

We Have No Right to Criticize Others for a Lack of Democracy

This post has short quotes that were taken from the Moyers and Company website.

Yesterday, I posted that we had no right to accuse Cuba of needing “democratic reform”, since the USA is far from being a true democracy, now that the billionaires can easily buy and install any politician they want, due to the ‘citizens united’ ruling. Even before that, the electoral college, and gerrymandered districts skews elections to no end. The data shows that in recent history, the will of the majority is almost never done, but instead, Congress obeys the will of large corporations, and along with that, the elite. You know, they always speak of Russian oligarchs, in the main-stream media, but never American oligarchs.

In support of this claim, I’d like to quote from American University professor Allan J. Lichtman:

“The analysts found that when controlling for the power of economic elites and organized interest groups, the influence of ordinary Americans registers at a non-significant, near-zero level. The analysts further discovered that rich individuals and business-dominated interest groups dominate the policymaking process. The mass-based interest groups had minimal influence compared to the business-based groups.

The study also debunks the notion that the policy preferences of business and the rich reflect the views of common citizens. They found to the contrary that such preferences often sharply diverge and when they do, the economic elites and business interests almost always win and the ordinary Americans lose.”

 

Professor Lichtman was analyzing a new study done by Martin Gilens, of Princeton University, and Benjamin Page of Northwestern University. The study shows that the views of the public are nearly meaningless. My comment on this would be to add that actually, only in regard to the manipulation of the uninformed public are their views important. Those who advise politicians instruct them to speak of issues that are basically unimportant, but are ‘hot-button’ issues; things concerning religion, anti-gay stances, stuff about “trying to take the Bible out of the schools”, and so-forth. In this way politicians get enough votes to win, and meanwhile, all of us are being robbed and subjugated by the elites, the oligarchs. This forms our plutocracy.

Martin Gilens also said, in an interview with Reniqua Allen, a fellow of the group, Demos, that this demonstrates a need for reform.

“[When] we can reform our political system so that politicians, political candidates, and policy makers are less dependent on money from affluent donors and corporations then we will be able to shift policy in directions that will be sort of more broadly beneficial to the less well off in society.”

 

If the voting electorate has nearly zero influence upon the policies of a government, then, by definition, that government is not a democracy. The USA has no right to lecture any country about democratic values. If only we had a system like that of Venezuela, where Hugo Chavez greatly reduced poverty, and spent liberally on public and subsidized housing for the poor. And this policy is being continued by the new President, Nicolas Maduro.

But the USA is fighting hard to unseat Mr. Maduro, because he is a populist, a socialist after Chaves’ heart, he calls himself a Chavismo. (Or, maybe more accurately, he believes in Chavismo). Our Congress and President are busy applying new sanctions to Venezuela. Our dollars are going to promote Leonardo Lopez, the favorite of the old Oligarchy that ruled Venezuela before Chavez. We do this, in part, by funneling money to the wonderfully named ‘National Endowment for Democracy’. Although this organization is called a non-governmental organization (NGO), it operates under the auspices of congress, being funded by the U.S. government, under the State Department and USAID. By working against Venezuela’s democratically elected leader, and supporting Lopez, this organization shows itself to be working more in the interests of US corporations, who hate Maduro and Chavez for their insistence that Venezuelan oil companies operate under the control of the government. This was accomplished to support social programs by reaping taxes from the oil industry.

This organization, NED, has been criticized for a lack of transparency and accountability in spending millions of dollars of taxpayer’s money. Ron Paul said that NED has “very little to do with democracy. It is an organization that uses US tax money to actually subvert democracy, by showering money on favored political parties or movements overseas.” Allen Weinstein said, in 1991, “A lot of what we do [as NED] today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.” They are hard at work as the arm of our foreign policy to harass and strangle every power in our hemisphere that refuses to bow to the power of our American Empire, as Venezuela has done, in Chavez and Maduro’s socialist revolution.

It’s quite Orwellian, and ironic that such an organization is named National Endowment for Democracy. And why aren’t they working here in the States, to promote democracy? We could use a little. If people had any power in this country, the middle-class would not have been emaciated into the lower class, of which we all are a part, relative to the elite 1%, who actually do have influence on the politics of Washington.