Month: December, 2012
In Praise of Communism
worker | December 27, 2012 | 10:05 pm | Action | Comments closed

Lob Des Kommunismus
(Bertolt Brecht – translated by Jack Mitchell)

It is reasonable. You can grasp it. It’s simple.
You’re no exploiter, so you’ll understand.
It is good for you. Look into it.
Stupid men call it stupid, and the dirty call it dirty.
It is against dirt and against stupidity.
The exploiters call it a crime.
But we know:
It is the end of all crime.
It is not madness but
The end of madness.
It is not chaos,
But order.
It is the simple thing
That’s hard to do.

Only an Uprising Can Save Us from Social Security Cuts
worker | December 26, 2012 | 3:34 pm | Action | Comments closed

Written by Kay Tillow


In his recent proposal, President Obama included a change in the cost of living adjustment (COLA) that will make cuts in Social Security benefits.

Ugly, hurtful cuts.

This COLA cut is called Chained CPI. It would do real damage by changing the formula used to calculate the COLA.

It’s a real and harmful cut to the Social Security benefits you have earned.

The Chained CPI COLA cuts benefits more every year. After 10 years, your benefits would be cut by about $500 a year for the average retiree. After 20 years, your benefits would be cut by about $1,000 a year.

Switching to the Chained CPI would hurt both current and future beneficiaries.

Social Security should not be part of any such deal anyway. By law, it can’t contribute to the budget deficit. It’s only permitted to spend money from the Social Security trust fund, as affirmed by Clinton’s Secretary of Labor Robert Reich.

Speaker Boehner and President Obama are tussling over a deal that would save around $1 trillion over 10 years. Yet Bill Clinton has admitted that the U. S. could save that amount, $1 trillion—in one year and each and every year, not 10 years—by adopting the health care system of any other advanced nation.

Astounding, but true. To end the deficit and bring care to all, Congress could simply pass Congressman John Conyers’ bill, HR 676, national single payer health care. No cuts, no agonizing, no problem.

In the meantime, only an uprising can persuade President Obama and Congress that we will not stand for these social security cuts—nor any other cuts to Medicare or Medicaid—the programs won through generations of struggles for a better life.

Tell President Obama that the Chained CPI is unacceptable. Call the White House (202) 456-1111.

Call your Senators and representative with the same message: 202-224-3121.

(You can put in your zip code and find them here: )

“I’m telling you this so that everyone is very clear: if you want to save Social Security from serious benefit cuts that will cause seniors to go hungry and have their utilities shut off, you have to act. You have to rise up and raise hell, because otherwise this train is going down the tracks — it won’t be stopped unless a lot of people get in the way NOW,” said Mike Lux, author of “The Progressive revolution: How the Best in America Came to be.”

He asks everyone to make the calls, then adds: “But it is going to take people doing more. Make sure your parents, grandparents, and everyone else you know does something. Talk to people at work and at church and everywhere you go…. Show up at your congressperson’s office and let them know what you think. Organize a picket outside that congressional office. Do not hold anything back if you care about this issue. And maybe, just maybe, if enough of us raise some hell, this train headed down the track to cutting Social Security benefits, to taking money out of the hands of vulnerable innocents who had nothing to do with the deficits, will be forced to stop.”

Above and further information is from here:

From Mike Lux here:

More on Chained CPI from economist Dean Baker here:  And from Robert Reich here:

December 25, 2012

David Ravelo and the fight for Colombia
worker | December 12, 2012 | 9:15 pm | Action | Comments closed

By William T. Whitney Jr.

Argentinean political analyst Néstor Nestor Kohan recently opined on the prospect for peace with social justice in Colombia. The war, he said, “began in 1948 with the assassination of Jorge Eliécer Gaitán…although there were earlier killings and genocide against the people…In that war, the popular camp in its different expressions (civilian and political – military)…confronts the dominant native and foreign classes. The official armed forces, the bloodiest and most bellicose of Our America, are led directly by the Pentagon and the U.S. Southern Command.”

On the unlikely chance it’s possible for one person to stand as proxy for the great masses of suffering Colombian people engaged in epic struggle, that would be political prisoner David Ravelo. Of working class origins, Ravelo always lived and worked in gritty, oil-producing Barrancabermeja. The city and resources-rich rural areas around it have long been prey to paramilitary ravages, which Ravelo contested.

David Ravelo’s labors were recognized in 2008 with an award from the Barrancabermeja Catholic Diocese for defending human rights. Yet he’s been in jail since September 14, 2010, and on November 29, he learned he’d been convicted of involvement in a murder. He is sentenced to 18 years in prison.

A nine-person delegation of North Americans concerned about terrible war in Colombia and the U.S. government’s enabling role was in Bogota as the news of Ravelo’s conviction became public. With an eye toward international solidarity, delegation members are intent upon helping build a worldwide campaign for Ravelo’s liberation.

Lawyer Diego Martinez of the Permanent Committee on Human Rights, the group hosting the delegation, accompanied two delegation members on a prison visit on November 29. They observed that when Ravelo learned of his conviction from Martinez, he showed no reaction. Instead he continued reviewing details of his case.

Two jailed paramilitaries testified that Ravelo helped murder Barrancabermeja mayoral candidate David Nuñez Cala in 1991. Their role in the trial earned them sentence reductions as per Colombia’s 2005 Law of Justice and Peace, one of them trading a forty year sentence for eight years. The judge refused to allow 30 defense witnesses to testify, Ravelo said, adding that she lacks tenure and is thinking of ways her contract might be renewed.

David Ravelo takes hope from very new information: it seems prosecutor William Pacheco Granados in 1991 arranged for the forced disappearance of a youth named Guillermo Hurtado Parra. Consequently Pacheco lost his police lieutenant’s post in Armenia, Quindío. Under Colombian law, the offense ought to have disqualified him from serving as prosecutor.

Ravelo also talked about a previous frame-up. In 1993, in the midst of murderous repression of the leftist Patriotic Union (UP) electoral coalition, Ravelo went to jail for two years. In the end authorities had to acknowledge that the FARC group photo with Ravelo off to the side was a fake.

Why then is Ravelo in trouble? His long, highly visible personal battle for human rights, much admired, likely worked to label him as a leftist and regime opponent. While moving from library aide to economics professor at the local “Cooperative University,” Ravelo had been a student and labor union activist, a journalist who fought privatization of state companies, and an office holder in municipal and departmental governments. David Ravelo led the Municipal Peace Council of Barrancabermeja, the CREDHOES human rights organization, the Social Forum of Barrancabermeja, the Workers’ Space for Human Rights, and the regional section of MOVICE, the National Movement for Victims of State Crimes.

Additionally, those in charge must view with alarm his 38 – year membership in the Colombian Communist Party (PCC). Since 1991, Ravelo has been a member of the Party’s Central Committee. Although high government officials on occasion do communicate with PCC leaders and the Party is represented in the Colombian Congress, “red-scare” remains a staple of mainstream media portrayal of the Marxist – oriented Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and has been central to right-wing rhetoric calling for military crackdown and reliance on paramilitaries.

Perhaps David Ravelo’s real offense was to work for basic change, engage dominant forces, and defend victims. In the late 1980’s and since, fellow UP officeholders and candidates were being killed, as were many Barrancabermeja residents. By 2000 or so, paramilitaries had taken over there and in the surrounding countryside. Groups he was responsible for were indeed defending human rights: the right to survive, the right to be free of criminal violence. Ravelo provoked high-level animosity in 2007 by disseminating a video showing ex – President Uribe socializing with Barrancabermeja paramilitaries.

Judicial persecution of Ravelo has coincided with repression of the new Patriotic March resistance movement, a melding of some 2000 political and social groups launched with the help of the PCC in April 2012. Increasingly, members are being arrested, detained, and, a few, murdered or “disappeared.” Observers and participants worry about parallels with the UP experience, especially those veteran activists like Ravelo who identify themselves as “survivors of the Patriotic Union genocide.”

In Barrancabermeja, Ravelo’s wife Francia Elena Durán Ortega told delegation members, “He was dedicated to life, was there for everybody.” In tears, daughter Leydi Tatiana Rabelo Gutíerrez described him as “a model father… loyal and dedicated to the struggle for human rights. I have never seen him sad.” David Ravelo Gutiérrez, who accompanied the delegation, described his father as “a political leader who defended poor people… In 1998-1999 paramilitaries wanted to take over the place. Everyone else was afraid [to show the video] but his father showed it.”

Back in Bogota at the PCC headquarters, Juan Camilo Acevedo of the PCC National Commission on Political Prisoners outlined the role of prisons as tools for criminalizing peaceful protest. They are centers of torture, he stated, and are overcrowded and filthy. Drinkable water and live-saving medical care are often in short supply. Colombia’s prison population, which includes 10,000 political prisoners, has risen 30 percent during President Juan Manuel Santos’ tenure. The U.S. government funded and designed many Colombian prisons.

And not just prisons: As explained by MOVICE lawyer Franklin Castañeda, U. S. money which under its Plan Colombia goes to the Colombian Army and national police, ends up, some of it, in paramilitary hands. Overall, he explained, U. S. Plan Colombia “changed the logic of the situation,” making it “more barbaric.”

Communist Party Secretary General Jaime Caycedo Turriago told delegation members that the US Southern Command is directing the war on the insurgency and that Colombia’s upper classes are allied to the United States. The Colombian government is quite insecure, he explained. It must cope with gross inequalities in Colombia while democracy spreads in Latin America. And at the current government – FARC peace talks in Havana, the government is challenged by having to end war and at the same time advance democracy and agrarian reform. Insecurity, he suggested, is now driving extreme measures.

Ravelo’s fight for liberation, a tiny part of over-arching struggle over resources and social justice, plays out on a world stage. Says Jaime Caycedo, “We recognize deepening social clashes everywhere… [T]he world capitalist crisis has bred widespread discontent and will be worsening. Democratic forces must stand up against interventionists.”

David Ravelo, meanwhile, is optimistic. Speaking to Bucaramanga’s Liberal Vanguard newspaper soon after learning of his conviction and sentence, he pointed out that, “[T]here are costs a defender of human rights must pay. I’m not going to be discouraged now…I am going to summon up energy to demonstrate my innocence and show this is all a montage.”

To join the campaign to free David Ravelo contact organizers of the delegation at or go to . For more information about Ravelo’s case, go to  and/or . For information on Colombian political prisoners, see , , and/or .

The Anti-Empire Report
worker | December 11, 2012 | 8:26 pm | Action | Comments closed

December 11th, 2012
by William Blum

“Nuclear, ecological, chemical, economic — our arsenal of Death by Stupidity is impressive for a species as smart as Homo sapiens” 1
The hurricanes, the typhoons, the heat waves … the droughts, the heavy rains, the floods … ever more powerful, ever new records being set. Something must be done of course. Except if you don’t believe at all that it’s man-made. But if there’s even a small chance that the greenhouse effect is driving the changes, is it not plain that, at a minimum, we have to err on the side of caution? There’s too much at stake. Like civilization as we know it. Carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere must be greatly curtailed.

The three greatest problems facing the beleaguered, fragile inhabitants of this lonely planet are climate change, economic crisis, and the violence of war. It is my sad duty to report that the United States of America is the main culprit in each case. Is that not remarkable?

Why does Barack Obama not pursue the battle against climate change with the same intensity he pursues war? Why does he not seek to punish the American bankers and stockbrokers responsible for the financial calamity as much as he seeks to punish Julian Assange and Bradley Manning?

In both cases he’s putting the interests of the corporate world before anything else. No amount of fines or penalties will induce corporate leaders to modify their behavior. Only spending some hard time in a prison cellblock might cause the growth in them of their missing part, the part that’s shaped like a social conscience.

Only prosecuting George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and their partners in bombing and torture will discourage future American war lovers from following in their bloody footsteps.

The recent election result can only embolden Obama. He likely took it as an affirmation of his policies, although only 29.3% of those eligible to vote actually voted for him. And an unknown, but certainly significant, number of those who did so held their nose while voting for the supposed lesser of two evils. Hardly indicative of impassioned support for his policies.

Last week the United Nations Climate Summit was held in Doha, Qatar. The comments which came from many of the activists (as opposed to various government officials) were doomsdayish … “Time is running out … time has already run out … the climate has already changed … Hurricane Sandy, rising sea levels, the worst is yet to come.” The Kyoto protocol is still the only international treaty stipulating cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. It’s a touchstone for many environmentalists. But the United States has never ratified it. At the previous conferences in Copenhagen and Durban, the US blocked important global action and failed to honor vital pledges.

At the Doha conference the US was acutely criticized for failing to take the lead on planet protection, especially in light of its standing as the largest historic contributor to the current levels of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. (“The most obdurate bully in the room”, declared the Indian environmentalist, Sunita Narain.2)

What motivates the American representatives, now as before, as ever, is concern about corporate profits. Cutting back on greenhouse gas emissions can hurt the bottom line. A suitable epitaph for the earth’s tombstone. Shamus Cooke, writing on ZSpace, sums it up well: “Thus, if renewable energy is not as profitable as oil — and it isn’t — then the majority of capitalist investing will continue to go towards destroying the planet. It really is that simple. Even the best-intentioned capitalists do not throw their money away on non-growth investments.”

A brief history of Superpowers
From the Congress of Vienna of 1815 to the Congress of Berlin in 1878 to the “Allies” invasion of Russia in 1918 to the formation of what became the European Union in the 1950s, the great powers of Europe and the world have gotten together in grand meeting halls and on the field of battle to set the ground rules for imperialist exploitation of Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Australasia, to Christianize and ‘civilize’, to remake the maps, and to suppress revolutions and other threats to great-power hegemony. They have been deadly serious. In 1918, for example, some 13 nations, including France, Great Britain, Rumania, Italy, Serbia, Greece, Japan, and the United States, combined in a military invasion of Russia to “strangle at its birth” the nascent Bolshevik state, as Winston Churchill so charmingly put it.

And following World War 2, without any concern about who had fought and died to win that war, the Western powers, sans the Soviet Union, moved to create the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. NATO, along with the European Union, then joined the United States in carrying out the Cold War and preventing the Communists and their allies from coming to power legally through elections in France and Italy. That partnership continued after the formal end of the Cold War. The United States, the European Union, and NATO are each superpowers, with extensive military, as well as foreign policy integration — almost all EU members are also members of NATO; almost all NATO members in Europe are in the EU; almost all NATO members have had a military contingent serving under NATO and/or the US in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Balkans and elsewhere.

Together, this Holy Triumvirate has torn apart Yugoslavia, invaded and devastated Afghanistan and Iraq, crippled Iran, Cuba and others with sanctions, overthrown the Libyan government, and are on the verge now of the same in Syria. Much of what the Triumvirate has told the world to justify this wanton havoc has concerned Islamic terrorism, but it should be noted that prior to the interventions in Iraq, Libya and Syria all three countries were secular and modern. Will the people of those sad lands ever see that life again?

In suppressing the left in France and Italy, and later in destabilizing the governments of Libya and Syria, the Holy Triumvirate has closely aligned itself with terrorists and terrorist methods to a remarkable extent. 3 In Syria alone, it would be difficult to name any Middle East terrorist group associated with al Qaeda — employing their standard car bombings and suicide bombers — that is not taking part in the war against President Assad with the support of the Triumvirate. Is there anything — legally or morally — the Triumvirate regards as outside its purview? Any place not within its geographical mandate? Britain and France have now joined Turkey and Arabian Peninsula states in recognizing a newly formed opposition bloc as the sole representative of the Syrian people. “From the point of view of international law, this is absolutely unacceptable,” Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev declared. “A desire to change the political regime of another state by recognizing a political force as the sole carrier of sovereignty seems to me to be not completely civilised.” France was the first Western state to recognize the newly-formed Syrian National Coalition and was swiftly joined by Britain, Italy and the European Union. 4 The neck irons tighten.

The European Union in recent years has been facing a financial crisis, where its overriding concern has been to save the banks, not its citizens, inspiring calls from the citizenry of some member states to leave the Union. I think the dissolution of the European Union would benefit world peace by depriving the US/NATO mob of a guaranteed partner in crime by returning to the Union’s members their individual discretion in foreign policy.

And then we can turn to getting rid of NATO, an organization that not only has a questionable raison d’être in the present, but never had any good reason-to-be in the past other than serving as Washington’s hit man. 5

The United Nations vote on the Cuba embargo — 21 years in a row
For years American political leaders and media were fond of labeling Cuba an “international pariah”. We don’t hear that any more. Perhaps one reason is the annual vote in the United Nations General Assembly on the resolution which reads: “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba”. This is how the vote has gone (not including abstentions):

Year Votes (Yes-No) No Votes
1992 59-2 US, Israel
1993 88-4 US, Israel, Albania, Paraguay
1994 101-2 US, Israel
1995 117-3 US, Israel, Uzbekistan
1996 138-3 US, Israel, Uzbekistan
1997 143-3 US, Israel, Uzbekistan
1998 157-2 US, Israel
1999 155-2 US, Israel
2000 167-3 US, Israel, Marshall Islands
2001 167-3 US, Israel, Marshall Islands
2002 173-3 US, Israel, Marshall Islands
2003 179-3 US, Israel, Marshall Islands
2004 179-4 US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau
2005 182-4 US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau
2006 183-4 US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau
2007 184-4 US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau
2008 185-3 US, Israel, Palau
2009 187-3 US, Israel, Palau
2010 187-2 US, Israel
2011 186-2 US, Israel
2012 188-3 US, Israel, Palau

Each fall the UN vote is a welcome reminder that the world has not completely lost its senses and that the American empire does not completely control the opinion of other governments.

How it began: On April 6, 1960, Lester D. Mallory, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, wrote in an internal memorandum: “The majority of Cubans support Castro … The only foreseeable means of alienating internal support is through disenchantment and disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship. … every possible means should be undertaken promptly to weaken the economic life of Cuba.” Mallory proposed “a line of action which … makes the greatest inroads in denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government.” 6 Later that year, the Eisenhower administration instituted the suffocating embargo against its eternally-declared enemy.

Placing American presidents in their proper context
“Once upon a time there was a radical president who tried to remake American society through government action. In his first term he created a vast network of federal grants to state and local governments for social programs that cost billions. He set up an imposing agency to regulate air and water emissions, and another to regulate workers’ health and safety. Had Congress not stood in his way he would have gone much further. He tried to establish a guaranteed minimum income for all working families and, to top it off, proposed a national health plan that would have provided government insurance for low-income families, required employers to cover all their workers and set standards for private insurance. Thankfully for the country, his second term was cut short and his collectivist dreams were never realize.
His name was Richard Nixon.” 7

Films on US foreign policy
The Power Principle is a series of three films by Scott Noble. Part one, “Empire”, is the only one I’ve seen completely so far and I can say that it’s great stuff. The three parts, with their times, are:

Part 1: Empire (1h 35m)
Part 2: Propaganda (1h 38m)
Part 3: Apocalypse (1h 10m)
Featured in the films are Noam Chomsky, Michael Parenti, John Stockwell, Christopher Simpson, Ralph McGehee, Philip Agee, Nafeez Ahmed, John Perkins, James Petras, John Stauber, Russ Baker, Howard Zinn, William Blum, Nancy Snow, William I. Robinson, Morris Berman, Peter Phillips, Michael Albert, and others of the usual suspects.

To comment about these films or others by Scott Noble, write to him at

Much more publicized is the new film and book by Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick. Entitled The Untold History of the United States, it is a 10-part series appearing on Showtime. Only Stone’s name could get this dark side of US history and foreign policy on mainstream television. It will be interesting to observe what the mass media has to say about this challenge to some of America’s most cherished beliefs about itself.

Jeanette Winterson, The New York Times, September 17, 2009 ↩
Democracy Now!, December 7, 2012 ↩
For France and Italy, see Operation Gladio Wikipedia; and Daniele Ganser, Operation Gladio: NATO’s Top Secret Stay-Behind Armies and Terrorism in Western Europe (2005) ↩
Agence France Presse, November 26, 2012↩
For the best coverage of the NATO monolith, sign up with StopNATO. To get on the mailing list write to Rick Rozoff at To see back issues at↩
Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1958-1960, Volume VI, Cuba (1991), p.885 ↩
From the review of the book: I am the change: Barack Obama and the Crisis of Liberalism by Charles Kesler. Review by Mark Lilla, The New York Times Book Review, September 30, 2012, p.1 ↩

William Blum is the author of:

Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2
Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower
West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir
Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire

Constitutional crisis over presidential succession and continuance in Venezuela
worker | December 11, 2012 | 8:21 pm | Action | Comments closed

By Arthur Shaw

So far, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has suffered three bouts with cancer — in June 2011, Feb. 2012, and Nov. 2012.

On Dec 11, 2012, Pres. Chavez underwent surgery in his third bout which began in November this year.
The results of the Dec. 11 surgery are not yet clear.

Article 234 of the Venezuelan Constitution says “A President of the Republic who becomes temporarily unavailable to serve shall be replaced by the Executive Vice-President for a period of up to 90 days, which may be extended by resolution of the National Assembly for an additional 90 days.”

“If the temporary unavailability continues for more than 90 consecutive days, the National Assembly shall have the power to decide by a majority vote of its members whether the unavailability to serve should be considered permanent.”

There is a question whether the unavailability of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is permanent or temporary. If the presidential unavailability is temporary, then Article 234 applies. But if the unavailability is permanent, then Article 233 applies.

At the moment, the unavailability of Hugo Chavez seems more temporary than permanent, because nobody knows the results of the surgery and other treatments in Cuba which Chavez is about to undergo. If the surgery and other treatments are successful, then Chavez will be again available to serve. Hence, the temporary character of his current unavailability to serve. But if surgery and other treatments fail, then Chavez’ unavailability is permanent.

Chavez got surgery and other treatment in Cuba for his cancer in the same pelvic region of his body in July 2011 and Feb. 2012 without any declaration of unavailability to serve. So, why say he’s unavailable this time when nobody said he was unavailable last time?

It seems hard for revolutionary forces and the proletarian media in Venezuela to argue that Chavez is still available to serve. According to this argument of continued availability, Chavez is neither temporarily or permanently unavailable. This argument does not break down because Chavez is sick or outside of Venezuela. This argument in favor of the continued availability of Chavez breaks down because Chavez asked the vice president to serve as president while Chavez is in Cuba getting medical treatment. Two individuals cannot serve as president at the same time because nobody will know what government actions are legal if the wrong president approves the action. One of them has to be unavailable.

The first day of the temporary unavailability of Chavez to serve as president was Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012 because Dec. 9 was the day on which the National Assembly — that is, the Venezuelan legislature — approved the temporary replacement of President Hugo Chavez by Vice President Nicholas Maduro for a period of up to 90 days under the provisions of Article 234.

So, the 90-day period runs out on March 15, 2013.

It is likely that the doctors treating Chavez in Cuba will know whether the surgery and other treatment fails or succeeds by March 15, 2013. Thus, it is possible or even likely that the Venezuelan Government will know, by March 15, whether the unavailability of Chavez to serve as president is temporary or permanent, invoking respectively Article 234 or 233 of the Constitution to resolve the constitutional crisis.
If the surgery and other treatment Chavez gets in Cuba succeeds, then the revolutionary forces may seek another 90 days under Article 234 so that Chavez doesn’t have to rush his recovery. After all, Chavez relapse is possibly related to the strenuous campaign for reelection which Chavez “won” on Oct. 7. Even if Chavez knew that the strenuous campaign for reelection would trigger a recurrence of his cancer, he still had to go through with the campaign, because the future of the revolution was at stake. This second 90-day period gives Chavez and his revolutionaries a whopping 180 days or six months to maneuver while Chavez recovers his availability to serve.
But if the treatment Chavez gets in Cuba fails, then Chavez should be allowed to spend the time he has left in peace. It will be pointless to go for another 90-day period, knowing the hopelessness of the situation. So, if the treatment fails, Chavez will likely be declared permanently unavailable to serve as president, invoking the provisions of Article 233.

We will not discuss in detail the provisions of Article 233 that deals with permanent unavailability because at this time permanent unavailability doesn’t seem to exist and because it might be hard to digest detailed discussions of both permanent and temporary unavailability at the same time. But we still have to discuss Article 233 a little, because we claim that permanent unavailability doesn’t exist.

We therefore must show it doesn’t exist.

According to Article 233, to be permanently unavailable one of six things got to happen to the president:

(1) death
(2) resignation
(3) removal from office by decision of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice
(4) permanent physical or mental disability certified by a medical board designated by the Supreme Tribunal of Justice with the approval of the National Assembly
(5) abandonment of his position, duly declared by the National Assembly and
(6) recall by popular vote.

So far, Chavez has not died, resigned from office, been kicked out of office by the supreme court, certified as physically or mentally disabled, declared to have abandoned his office by the legislature or been recalled from office in a referendum.

None of these six events has occurred.

So, Chavez isn’t permanently unavailable under Article 233.

There is another point we want to discuss.

The bourgeois media and reactionary deputies in the Venezuelan legislature don’t talk as much about permanent or temporary unavailability of the president to serve as Article 234 and 233 do. The bourgeois media and these deputies talk about permanent or temporary “absence” of the president as Article 235 does. On Sunday, Dec. 9, Diosdado Cabello, leader of revolutionary deputies in the National Assembly, almost told reactionary deputies to shut up when the reactionaries demanded an opportunity to talk about “the temporary or permanent absence of the Head of State,” according El Universal, a big bourgeois newspaper in Venezuela.

What’s up with these bourgeois media and reactionary deputies?

Again, “absence” is discussed in Article 235, not 234 and 233, both of which deal with unavailability..
Article 235 of the Venezuelan Constitution says “The absence of the President of the Republic from the territory of Venezuela requires authorization from the National Assembly or the Delegated Committee, when such absence continues for a period exceeding five consecutive days.”

So, here’s the question we must answer: Is the absence of the president from the territory of Venezuela the same thing as the unavailability of the president to serve?

No, of course not. They are not even close to being the same thing.

First of all, Article 235 doesn’t divide absences into permanent and temporary. Art. 235 divides absences into 5-day absences and more than 5-day absences. There’s a big difference.

Second, presidents travel all the time. Sometimes a president has to go outside his country in order to serve, like when a president goes somewhere to sign a trade deal. Absence from the territory of the country doesn’t mean that the president isn’t serving the country. So, Article 235 which deals with “absence” doesn’t cover the same ground as Articles 234 and 233 which deal with different types of unavailability of the president.

Not only can a president serve while he’s “absent” from the territory of Venezuela, but also he can fail to serve while he’s present on the territory of Venezuela. Say, for example, the president resigns while he’s in Caracas. Clearly, he’s present on the territory but he still is unavailable to serve.

So, again, absence and unavailability are not the same thing and not close to being the same thing.
This tactic of these reactionaries of savagely attacking the “absence” of Chavez seems design to shove Chavez into his grave.

Reactionaries know that Chavez is sick and he’s a workaholic. Reactionaries believe that if Chavez keeps working while he’s sick, he’ll sooner or later kill himself. Clearly, when he works before he fully recovers, he’s more likely to trigger a recurrence of his illness. So, every time Chavez goes to Cuba for medical treatment, the bourgeoisie and bourgeois media in Venezuela are enraged. During the “absence,” reactionaries try to generate panic and hysteria throughout Venezuela to draw Chavez back home before he’s ready medically. Chavez returns home to calm the panic and hysteria, but he quickly gets back to work. As long as Chavez is at home, he’s going to work whether he’s sick or well, because the work of revolutionary politics is his essence. Fidel is the same way, but once one gets close to 90 years of age like Fidel, time slows you down, whether you’re sick or well. Chavez is only 58.

By invoking Article 234 on temporary unavailability, Chavez found a way of getting 90 days of rest and treatment without producing a national panic or hysteria. If we substitute “absence” for unavailability, the 90-day period in this case would not begin Dec. 9 but eight or nine days before Dec. 9. The cut-off will not be March 15, but eight or nine days before March 15. But there seems to be something else behind the preference of the bourgeois media for the term “absence” over unavailability — something sly and insidious. We’ll find out because the bourgeois media is a sewage system.

From all this, we surmise that the main tactic of the bourgeoisie and its media in their class struggle against the workers during the 90-day period afforded by Article 234 will be to find a way to drag Chavez home or make him work while he’s in Cuba. To do this, the bourgeoisie will have to ignore Vice President Maduro who is now the “acting president ” of and in Venezuela. During the 90-day period, the bourgeoisie will likely announce every other day that Chavez passed away and the Cubans are hiding his remains. When Chavez shows he’s still alive, the bourgeoisie will demand that president get any further treatment in Venezuela. So on and so forth.

The main tactic of the proletariat in its class struggle against the bourgeoisie during the 90-day period should be to preserve the unity of the class and leaders of the class. The bourgeois media will pounce on the smallest rift within the class and supersize the rift. The best way to preserve unity is for the workers to do their jobs in Chavez’ “absence.” The biggest challenge to the unity of the class and leaders of the class during the 90-day period will likely be the class struggle over the de-valuation of the Venezuelan currency which the bourgeoisie presents as its most important and its most immediate aim. Whether the class surrenders or resists the bourgeoisie on de-valuation of the bolivar, there may be serious tensions and stress within the class. Clearly, if the surgery peformed Dec. 11 in Havana shows that there is only a temporary unavailability to serve, then Vice President Maduro shouldn’t even touch the de-valuation issue until Chavez returns. In any case, the class has very able people to assist the head of state on the de-valuation issue in the finance minister, oil minister, and head of the central bank. We will find out whether they can preserve their ideological, organizational, and political unity in these very turbulent conditions. They are going to need unity on Jan. 10, the day of presidential inauguration and on March 15, the expiration of the 90-day period of temporary unavailability.

It’s back!!!
worker | December 11, 2012 | 8:00 pm | Action | Comments closed

by Zoltan Zigedy

Red-baiting lives!

Actually it never waned. Like most evils, it lurks in the shadows and under rocks until it is called on again to serve the rich and powerful. Like racism, red-baiting is a tool of division and distraction. It is designed to separate those who are weak or wavering from those determined to change a malignant political and social system. Red-baiting harnesses fear to tarnish those seeking social justice. Red-baiters sow cynicism, dampen ardor, nurture doubts and dissolve unity.

A renewed and virulent strain of anti-Communism has surfaced in the US, stretching from the imbecilic film Red Dawn to the rabid media bashing of Oliver Stone’s ten-part television series, The Untold History of the United States.

Red Dawn, currently showing in hundreds of theaters, has grossed over $31 million in revenue through December 2. Based on a moronic plot of an invasion of the Pacific Northwest by troops of the Peoples’ Democratic Republic of Korea, the movie postures young patriots as forging a resistance movement against their Asian aggressors. Only in Hollywood could writers craft a plot that features a relatively poor country of twenty-five million people mounting a naked, distant aggression against the most economically powerful country in history with well over ten times the population. What next, an invasion of the Southwest from Nicaragua?

Oh, sorry, that movie was made in 1984! Actually, the current Red Dawn, found its dubious inspiration in the Reagan-era movie with the same title and an equally virulent commitment to red-baiting. We have John Milius, and his equally demented Hollywood colleagues, to thank for the fear-mongering of Red Dawn I. Screenwriter/Director Milius bears responsibility for such stupid –though less politically dishonest – movies like Magnum Force and Conan, the Barbarian. But where those movies only enshrined ugly politics and employed right-wing icons, Red Dawn I advanced the political agenda of US imperialism and crudely served to prod domestic reaction. At a time when the struggle for international peace and détente was at a critical juncture, the film was heartily welcomed by opponents of rapprochement.

Today, Red Dawn II emerges not as a counterforce to the left, but as a pre-emption of a feared rising of the left. Even with most of the US left’s leaders chained to the Democratic Party or mired in opportunism, the rich, the powerful, and their minions recognize that the profoundly wounded economy and the dysfunctional political system provide both the seeds and fertile soil for a powerful peoples’ movement. And they hope to pollute it with red-baiting before any sprouts arise. Even with its crude, wildly implausible plot, Red Dawn II is meant to discredit any “red” or even “pink” movement before it matures.

Likewise, Oliver Stone’s new TV series on Showtime has been met with furious bashing on the part of the professional anti-Communist toadies of the mainstream media. Setting out to correct the “official” high school civics class histories of the Cold War period, Stone and his historian collaborator, Peter Kuznick, produced a ten-part serial that challenges knee-jerk anti-Communism and seeks to balance the slanders of Cold Warriors. The Untold History of the United States proposes a counter history, an account built around a number of “what ifs…” that chart a different historical trajectory absent a rapacious and predatory military-industrial complex and a destructive CIA.

Of course this does not set well with the rabid guardians of the anti-red canon. As Peter Kuznick chronicles in a recent appeal to Historians Against the War, the red-baiters are out in force.

Ronald Radosh – famous for crafting a career from equating Reds or “fellow travelers” with NKVD or MVD agents—makes an astonishing leap to connect Stone and Kuznick to the long-departed Soviet security agencies. He claims to detect similarities just short of plagiarism (leaving his claim just short of libelous) between The Untold History and a book by the late Carl Marzani, We Can Be Friends. To square his circle, Radosh proffers that Marzani “…told this very story in We Can Be Friends. A secret member of the American Communist party who had worked during the war in the OSS, Marzani later was proved by evidence from Soviet archives and Venona decryptions to have been a KGB (then the NKVD) operative. His book was published privately by his own Soviet-subsidized firm. It was the first example of what came to be called “Cold War revisionism.”

Thus, by association—a favorite tactic of red-baiters—Stone/Kuznick becomes linked to the KGB through the alleged operative, Carl Marzani. Others have shown how fast and loose Radosh has toyed with the charges of “operative” or “agent” based on the thin evidence of “association.” But Marzani’s “secret” or open identification with Communism in 1952 is of no relevance to the truth conveyed by We Can Be Friends or The Untold History. Marzani argues for the following:

The next step to peace is to sit down around a conference table and negotiate. Negotiations, it should be emphasized, do not require friendship. Negotiators can sit down unsmiling and bargain grimly, yet both sides are aware that a settlement must be reached. (p.369)
If Marzani’s simple, but sane formula for improving US/Soviet relations was inspired by the NKVD, then credit to the NKVD!

We Can Be Friends was published by Topical Book Publishers. For those Reds with something to say in 1952, self-publication was often the only route. In the teeth of McCarthyite repression, leftists could not get mainstream publishers to even consider their manuscripts. Outside of the exceptional renegade publishers like Cameron and Associates, left-wing authors were forced to turn to funding a few hundred copies, as did Howard Fast with his now celebrated historical novel, Spartacus. The dark ages of the 1950s were certainly made brighter, if it was necessary for the NKVD to subsidize these fine books!

The quality of Radosh’s scholarship can be judged by his emphatic claim that We Can Be Friends “…was the first example of what came to be called ‘Cold War revisionism.’” A casual glance at my tattered old copy reveals a bibliography that cites earlier writers like Frederick L. Schuman and I. F. Stone who decisively rejected the Cold War canon well before Marzani’s book arrived on the scene.

Following Radosh’s lead, other rabid anti-Communists like Michael Moynihan joined the fray in attacking Stone and Kuznick. And to its shame, The New York Times unleashed its slime merchant hireling, Andrew Goldman, to mount a bizarre ad hominem against Oliver Stone. Goldman had just served his four-week suspension for publicly inquiring of two female interlocutors whether they had slept their way to the top of their professions. Sadly, this attack well represented the level of integrity shown by most of these ruling class courtiers.

To these professional red-baiters must be added the host of professors who peddle lurid books on the “Evil Empire.” Most active is Anne Applebaum, journalist turned academic, who authors books portraying the Soviet and socialist Eastern European experience as wholly oppressive and thoroughly unpopular. Her current book, Iron Curtain, enjoys wide circulation and copious publicity from the corporate media. Applebaum’s ideological bias (her husband is Minister of Foreign Affairs in the ultra-nationalist Polish government) and selective scholarship are seldom challenged by her colleagues.

Applebaum’s work indirectly suggests that Soviet “evil” is on a par with Nazi evil or, as she and her ilk crudely put it, “Stalin’s crimes were the same or worse than Hitler’s crimes.” Yale professor, Timothy Snyder, shares no such hesitation. His popular book, Badlands, boldly embraces the equation of Hitler and Stalin. Indeed, his current career seems based upon his widely speculative, broadly calculated, and poorly evidenced victim calculation. For Snyder, there would seem to be no natural deaths in the Soviet Union or socialist Eastern Europe. In his energetic counting, victims of the Warsaw insurrection in 1944, urged by the Polish government-in-exile to rise, arguably belong on the Soviet side of the ledger since the Red Army didn’t rescue them. Of course the victims of natural famines are also laid at the Soviet doorstep. Snyder pursues his head counting with an almost perverse determination and a theological certainty.

The revival of open and widespread red-baiting is ignored by liberals at their own peril. Like the inquisitions of old, the immediate object may be the dissidents, the ideological deviants, but the real design is to terrorize the majority into submission and conformity. In the US, anti-Communism and its counterpart, racism, directly target ideological and ethnic minorities, but prove to be of even greater use in fracturing, distracting, and deluding the majority. Rampant racism and rabid anti-Communism serve the rich and powerful well by closing avenues to unity and social justice. Surely the red-baiting charges of “socialism” leveled at right-centrist Obama underline this point and send a clear message to liberals of the dangers lurking in accommodating the alarm of “Reds!”

Zoltan Zigedy

The “fiscal cliff” fairy tale
worker | December 10, 2012 | 11:34 am | Action | 1 Comment

By James Thompson

Just coming off the electoral cycle roller coaster, the people of the United States are now being entertained by the capitalist media and capitalist politicians. You hear nothing but terrifying stories about what will happen if the nation “goes over the fiscal cliff.” The intention, of course, is to deceive the people, demoralize them and distract them from fighting for their real interests.

Will the capitalists succeed in their efforts? Working people are being bombarded with warnings about modern-day hobgoblins, as well as other mythical figures. Both Democrats and Republicans seem to agree that something awful will happen if their opponents succeed in their plan to deal with the tax situation. One politician asks for a cut here and a tax increase there to solve the problem. Another asks for different cuts and tax increases but reaches the same conclusion: The hobgoblins, i.e. whatever is on the other side of the “fiscal cliff,” will disappear and not torment us if their plan is adopted and put into action. Many bourgeois leaders are talking about “recession” if they don’t get their way. I’m reminded of the line from “Shall we dance?” which I have adapted for the purposes of this article:

“You say recession and I say depression
You say recession and I say depression
Recession, depression
Recession, depression
Let’s call the whole thing off!”

The wealthy plutocrats and their cheerleaders are not talking about reality. They merely conjure up ideas to scare people. They don’t talk about the fact that capitalism must have booms and busts and periodic crises since they are necessary for the survival of capitalism. They don’t talk about the fact that it is normal for there to be high unemployment in capitalist countries. They don’t talk about the fact that many European countries, including Germany, are talking about recession already. They don’t talk about the fact that the United States is part of the global capitalist system and is subject to the economic laws of capitalism just like everyone else. In capitalist economics, there can be no “American exceptionalism.”

There are many cracks in the capitalist wall now around the world. The United States cannot be exempted from economic crises and business cycles. In fact, it is quite arrogant to myopically focus on the short-term effects of shifting the tax burden here or there or cutting spending here or there. We should remember Galileo who tried to show people that the sun does not revolve around the earth, but in fact the opposite is true. The economy of the world does not revolve around the United States, but in fact the opposite is true.

So, we don’t know what will happen if we don’t chase off our hobgoblins in the right way. However, we can be pretty sure that the capitalist politicians and media will take care of their wealthy plutocrats and throw the people under the bus.

We can also be sure that no one will suggest that we need to learn to live with continuing economic crises as long as we cling to capitalism as our economic system. We also will need to learn to live (or die) with continuing imperialist wars. We also need to learn to live with economic injustice, environmental crises, continuing assaults on working people and deteriorating civil and human rights as long as we hold on to and protect capitalism.

Socialism and a planned economy is the only remedy to the chaos and injustice of capitalism.

A Houstonian, George H. W. Bush, coined a term “Voodoo economics,” which he pinned on his opponent, Ronald Reagan. Former President Bush should be credited for coming up with this term. However, the term is not just applicable to his opponent, it applies to the world capitalist system and its cheerleaders in the media and the ivory towers.

Working people should not be deceived and distracted by modern day hobgoblins and “Voodoo economics.” We should unite and fight for our rights and go after the real hobgoblins, i.e. the wealthy plutocrats also called capitalists.

Will working people be deceived once again by their Master’s sorcerers? Will working people allow the plutocrats to continue to sneer at them, terrorize them and steal them blind? There is a crying need for a “political party of a new type” to develop in the United States. Such a party could educate people about the need for socialism and build a movement to fight for worker’s interests and move us towards socialism. Many recent polls indicate there is widespread support for socialism in this country. Unfortunately, today there is no “vanguard” party to lead the people of the United States towards socialism. Working people can remedy this deficiency in short order.