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This week in dailykos, in a post entitled “And then he kicked the chair out from underneath his feet.” Debbieleft wrote:
 

He was a machine operator - a factory man. He spent his whole life employed in the factories that made business forms, water pumps, thermoplastic sheeting. After almost forty years as a dependable american worker he was tossed aside and discarded from our society. He managed two years unemployed and over a year with only food stamps to help out. It was obvious he had become very ill, lung cancer? We didn't know. But he was sick, out of money and out of time. Had he called we would have taken him in and helped. But he was a proud man. Yesterday he wrote a note to his children, tied a noose, stepped up on a chair,  placed his neck in the noose and kicked the chair out from underneath his feet.  

Had this unemployed, ill factory worker, Dennis Paul, been living in today's Venezuela, as I am, he would likely still be alive.

Debbieleft’s ex-husband, Dennis Paul, was one of the 99% of Americans who don’t control our wealth, resources and political power.  Having lost his job after 40 years of hard, factory work, he had been used up and kicked to the curb by the wealthy one percent.  He was without a job, socially isolated, mentally devastated, and deprived of the medical care which could have kept him alive.

In stark contrast to America’s and Dennis Paul’s lonely desperation, yesterday the people in my neighborhood here in Mérida, Venezuela carried out a huge community service day, a “Mega Operativo Social” in our local cultural center in which folks could buy basic food stuffs (chicken, rice, milk, cooking oil, black beans, sugar, flour, coffee, and many other necessities at hugely discounted prices, thanks to the Chavez government’s Mission Mercal.  

Mission Mercal was organized to implement Venezuelan’s constitutional right to adequate nutrition.  A medical van was on site to provide free medical, optical and vaccination services, thanks to the Mission A Dentro program, the national network of medical, dental and optical services designed to fulfil the Venezuelans’ constitutional right to universal free medical care.
 
The constitutional right to universal education, up to the doctoral level, was aided by the Operativo booth which sold school supplies, notebooks, pens, pencils, and the like, at greatly reduced prices as compared to those at private shops.  

My neighbors could also improve the health of their pets through the free animal vaccinations, receive, free, a big box of selections from Venezuela’s national literature, and even obtain free haircuts!  Such community service operations take place regularly here.

I didn’t need to use the free medical consultations at the Operativo because just a day before I had walked a few blocks to my local medical “ambulatorio”, our free neighborhood doctor and dentist office, to have my blood pressure checked and receive my monthly supply of blood pressure pills.  I did purchase about 20 kilos of the discounted foodstuffs at the Operativo at a fraction of private store prices.  For less than $10.00, I had my basic food supplies for the month.

Had Dennis Paul been living in Venezuela he would not have needed to end his life because of inability to access lung cancer treatment and medication.  He would have been treated for free and received all his needed drugs for free from the government.

Had Dennis Paul been living in my apartment complex, his local consejo comunal (community council) would have assisted him to get the services he needed.  The consejo comunal takes a community census every six months or so to ascertain the special needs of its residents.  Its elected officers would have helped him to fill out any forms needed to apply for services or arranged for the “medical visitor” to come to his apartment to assist him.  And Dennis Paul would not even have been asked if he was a Venezuelan citizen or legally in the country.  I have never been asked for proof of citizenship, simply being a human being is enough to qualify for services.

Thanks to the Chavez government, Venezuela now, by its constitution and implementing laws and Missions, puts it top priority on fulfilling the needs of the human beings who live there.  The Dennis Pauls in Venezuela do not have to choose death rather than financial devastation and unrelieved physical suffering.

How has Venezuela managed to transform itself into a society which puts human needs first?

First it takes visionaries, those who could see the horrors that the capitalist economic system has caused and had the vision to imagine a human society based on a rational, human-based economic system.  Their visions were enshrined in the 1999 Venezuelan Constitution and are now being carried out. But making real the vision for a human society takes a great deal of work.  Above all, it takes self-organization at every level of society.  

It is much easier to sign a piece of paper nationalizing a steel company or even to seize it by force than it is to create the organization to keep that productive force operating successfully.  Fostering the self-organization of the masses of people is critical to creating a new society that works for the majority of the people.

Key to the continuing success of the Venezuelan transformation are the hundreds of thousands of Consejo Comunals, community councils, which are springing up all over the country.  Thanks to changes in the Constitution and the enabling laws, communities of 200 to 400 families in a neighborhood or workers in an organization form units of local self-government and self-determination which not only decide democratically about community needs and problems, plan the required changes (with technical assistance from government experts) and receive funding to implement those plans.  The number of participants in an average consejo comunal (200 to 400 families) is approximately equivalent of the number of Democratic voters in a Democratic voting precinct in the U.S., which averages 500 voters.)

My own Consejo Comunal meets monthly to discuss community problems and plans.  The meetings are frequently characterized by passionate discussion, with everyone having the right to express their opinion on the topic.  Meetings can be long and contentious, but usually end up arriving at a consensus.  If no consensus can be reached, the issue is put to majority vote.

Different members of the community frequently have different priorities.  At a recent meeting, one young man requested that the community council purchase uniforms for the apartment’s youth soccer team with its government funds.  An older member objected that the money was needed to fix the lighting system in the parking lot.  Passionate contention ensued.  Ultimately, the members decided to fund tee shirts and shorts, but not shoes, and go forward with the lighting repairs in three stages, so all interests were satisfied by the compromise.

Such democratic decision-making is not easy or swift.  There are always those who try to hog the attention for their ideas, while others become disgusted with the long-windedness and leave before there is a final resolution.  Real participatory democracy is messy, but ultimately serves the whole community.  It works.

While everyone in our apartment complex is eligible to join the Consejo Comunal, not everyone takes the time to come to meetings.  Perhaps twenty percent of the membership participates regularly and actively, but which 20% is active at any one time may change, depending upon the nature of the current problems and proposals.

“Voceros” (voices or spokespeople), not representatives, are elected to express the will of the majority of the group.  Members do not turn over their right to vote to their representatives.  The power of the vote remains with each member.  The “Voceros”are subject to an immediate recall vote if they violate community rights or directives.

Ultimately, it is hoped that the consejo comunal format, or its equivalent, will function at every level of government, county, state and national.  

Working out the mechanisms of that network is not easy, as traditional local and state government agencies are frequently competing for funds with the new forms of organization, and the entrenched bureaucracy fights strenuously to maintain its control.  

Here in Mérida, there are frequent conflicts between the consejo comunal groups and the local mayor over such issues as building community housing on land designated by the city government for other purposes.
 
Community councils have initiated on-going, long-term occupations of the desired housing land, erecting tents adorned with signs, and furnished with chairs, couches, even television sets, as community members take turns guarding the land from use by other interests as they await the outcome of the formal administrative and court procedures to obtain the land for their community members.  

My local consejo comunal took to the public street fronting our building recently, blocking traffic to protest the planned renovation of the street which would have cut off our residents ability to turn left upon entering the public street from our buildings. The demonstration got the city official’s attention, and they sent a team of engineers and architects to meet with us to discuss the propose changes and a new plan was devised for the road which satisfied the community.
 
Taking to the streets, blocking traffic and even burning tires, has become a common weapon to draw attention to community problems when following traditional complaint procedures have failed.  Again, this type of direct democracy can be messy and inconvenient to those not involved, but ultimately it benefits the community. Not only are immediate problems resolved, but in the very act of organizing to effect a solution, the community members have the opportunity to contribute their ideas and exercise new-found leadership capacities while learning how to write leaflets, give radio and TV interviews and effectively conduct campaigns for change.

Venezuela’s community councils – voices for the people – not only work to solve the structural problems facing their communities, but provide an important social network for improving the quality of life for their members.

Our community council periodically organizes Mercals where cheap food stuffs can be purchased, acts as a conduit to medical, legal and financial help for our members, and keep the whole community informed about pressing social issues.
 
Members of our consejo comunal recently visited every apartment in our complex carrying boxes of fluorescent light bulbs which they exchanged for expensive incandescent ones – for free to our residents.  Consejo comunals all over the country participated in this national campaign to reduce the use of electricity, thus saving residents millions in monthly electrical bills while reducing the strain on the country’s electrical system.

Returning to the Roots of the Democratic Party

In the hayday of the mass Democratic Party in the U.S., the Democratic community was organized into precinct units of 500 voters or so.  The precinct captains and officials played the role that the “voiceros” now play in Venezuela.  The old Democratic Party precinct organizations not only got out the vote for elections, but played an important social service role in their communities, not merely giving out turkeys to the poor at Thanksgiving and Christmas, but providing needed connections to social services, such as doctors, hospitals and lawyers.  The precinct organizations were an important social safety network.

The old Democratic social network has virtually disappeared.  The current Democratic Party leadership has been effectively taken over by the same people who were ousted from the official Republican Party by the religious extremists.  Once known as the Rockefeller Republicans who were fiscally conservative following the interests of their big corporations and class, but socially more liberal, eschewing racism and religious extremism, they lost their power in the Republican Party to the religious conservative voters.  These “Rockefeller Republicans” were denied their traditional leadership roles in the Republican Party, so they invaded the Democratic Party.

Having been driven out of their Republican Party, these rich but socially liberal Republicans, put their energies and wealth into taking over the Democratic Party, ousting the labor unions and progressive groups from office under the banner of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC). The result the Bill Clinton and Barack Obama administrations, two nominal Democrats who put their liberal Republican policies in place, serving the corporate interests not  those of the majority of Americans. These liberal Republicans now control our Democratic Party and our government.  It is no wonder that private corporations are writing our health care and fiscal legislation, just as they did under George Bush. Their corporate boys are still in power.

Meanwhile, the majority of Americans are suffering terribly from the Republican policies, religious extremist, neo-conservative and “liberal”.  Americans are dying from lack of health care, we are losing our homes and our jobs due to the banksters who looted our economy.  Now Americans are choosing to commit suicide rather than continue to endure these humiliating privations.

What Can We Do To Take Back Power From the Corporate Interests?

One answer could be to re-establish our traditional Democratic Party precinct units as “community councils” which could provide a network of social services to the people in their communities while fighting to make the fulfillment of human needs our top social priority.
 
Democratic councils could pool resources to hire a doctor and dentist to visit the community once a week.  We might look to our medical and dental schools for new, idealistic doctors and dentists to staff these services on a per diem basis.  We could form buying cooperatives to reduce the costs of basic foodstuffs to our members.  Another buying cooperative might be formed to purchase low-cost drugs from Canada or other countries. Lawyers and social service experts might be found to advise on obtaining social security disability and housing assistance.  Perhaps some members could arrange to trade services, so an out-of-work carpenter or electrician could repair a doctor’s house in exchange for services.
 
In order to carry out these extensive social services, our Democratic Community Councils might request a few hours of volunteer work from its members.  Many people are without jobs and would willingly volunteer to do productive work for fellow community members.

Naturally, all of the above services presuppose a lot of hard work going door to door soliciting membership to build local organization, conducting meetings, maintaining social contact with other participants.  
By organizing democratic councils at the precinct level, we could develop and elect progressive candidates to oust the corporate interests from our party and our government.
Millions of Americans are unemployed and thus potentially have the time to devote to making fundamental changes in this country and in their own lives.  But, the majority of these unemployed are isolated from one another. We need to bring them together. Through the precinct form of the old Democratic Party, we could work to unite those who are now living in isolation and privation.  
The Consejo Comunal are effecting real change in the lives of Venezuelan.  The Chavez government, which has a substantial majority in their National Assembly, is pushing this process through appropriate laws and procedures which give voice to the needs and aspirations of the vast majority of Venezuelans.
We can do the same in the United States, by organizing our citizens block to block.  As Michael Moore put it in a recent article:

If we want a life worth living for ourselves and our kids, we have to go get it ourselves. We can’t keep waiting for the cavalry to come. That’s because we’re the cavalry.

 

Let's build our calvary by rebuilding  our Democratic Party precincts along the lines of Venezuela's consejo comunals, and begin to replace the inhuman capitalist system, with its real death panels, by an economic and social system that meets the needs and aspirations of the majority of our citizens.

Originally posted to Justina on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 12:24 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  We are surrounded by Republicans (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Justina, leaf123

      The current Democratic Party leadership has been effectively taken over by the same people who were ousted from the official Republican Party by the religious extremists.  Once known as the Rockefeller Republicans who were fiscally conservative following the interests of their big corporations and class, but socially more liberal, eschewing racism and religious extremism, they lost their power in the Republican Party to the religious conservative voters.  These “Rockefeller Republicans” were denied their traditional leadership roles in the Republican Party, so they invaded the Democratic Party.

      That explains so much of the anti-progressive flak I see on DKos.

      •  Actually... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Justina, disrael, Larsstephens

        Most of the anti-progressive flak is coming from a whole range of sock puppets, I think.

        But it's true that Blue Dogs have essentially taken over the party, isolating the outnumbered Progressive Caucus.

        But that is primarily due to low voter turnout these many years...mainly due to disgust with the Blue Dogs, lol...

        But this is not back in the late '60's and early '70's, when we last tried to take over the party, and were successfully rebuffed, leading to the precipitous fall off in electoral participation that ushered in the Republican eras.

        Conditions have changed.

        It's time to turn the deplorable situation we have so long faced completely around, with a real surge of electoral participation for a change, like what swept Obama and larger Democratic Majorities into power.

        It was a major step forward, but the right yet and still retains sufficient plurality to block, delay and sabotage motion, JUST BARELY, by just A FEW VOTES.

        It's simply not over yet.  The struggle continues.  A few more progressives and a few less Blue Dogs and Republicans will make a world of difference.

        Some 100 million eligibles refused to vote, even for Obama...and most of those are likely Democratic voters, if they could just see a real fight going on, and real choices to make in the elections, to purge the right, and seize the power.

        The right has long mobilized their entire constituency for elections...they are all in, and have no such latent electoral pool to tap.  The ONLY way they have EVER "won" elections has been by suppressing likely Democratic voter turnout.

        Bring the Better Democrats!

        Seize the Time!

        All Out for 2010 and 2012!

        "...a printing press is worth 10,000 rifles..." Ho Chi Minh

        by Radical def on Mon Aug 23, 2010 at 01:51:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Currently doesn't (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Radical def

          Obama seem one of these Rockefeller Republicans himself?  He is pure DLC as near as I can tell.  I agree with the diarist that more organization than simply showing up at the polls is required.  GOTV is not enough.  We need to back up GOTV with better education.

          •  NOT about Obama, so much... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Justina, Larsstephens

            A lot more about the explicit rhetoric he used to mobilize the electorate, which raised the hopes and expectations of the masses, for real democracy.

            That is a good development, which we need to seize on and enhance, by pressing the contradictions, primarily in terms of democracy, and how the root of any problems we may face, around any issue, is a profound lack of democracy...and the only solution to that is more democracy, ie: more voting, ongoing, for better Democrats.

            It doesn't really matter who Obama really is, or where he's coming from, if the masses call him on his bluff, if that's what it is, about "make me", and resolutely swamp the polls to bring better Democrats into office, to purge and suppress the right, democratically, electorally, legislatively and judicially.

            A greater progressive plurality in Congress is the ONLY way in hell we are going to get into a material position to have any hope to force any change, about anything, including more viable leadership, should Obama refuse to comply with the popular democratic will.

            That said, I definitely agree this will take more than the usual tired old rah rah GOTV jive, or relying on the present "leadership" of the party to bring the better Democrats, which they have clearly demonstrated a reluctance to do, thus far.

            The correct response to this situation, as you say, is grassroots mobilization of the electorate, to educate, yes, but most importantly, to launch progressive primary challenges, with or without the help of the party leadership...even if that may not prove entirely successful in every instance, it has worked in a number of cases, and could become a real groundswell, with sufficient effort.

            I don't think we really need all that much more education, frankly.  It should be an inherent element of political work, but let's face it...conditions have changed.

            This is not 20, 30 or 50 years ago.  Anymore, a very substantial majority of the electorate are staunchly opposed to racism, sexism, eco-rape, murderous monopoly corporate rip offs and imperialist warmongering profiteering.

            We have clearly won the revolution, in that regard, in terms of hearts and minds.  

            What primarily remains to be done now is to put that into action, electorally, democratically, to purge and suppress the right.

            The LAST thing we need is a lot of cynical defeatism and demoralization, promulgating a contrived canard of "no difference" between the parties, and thus no use in voting.  

            Suppression of likely Democratic voter turnout is an inherently counter-revolutionary act, at this time, verging on criminal treason, in effect.

            Failure to maintain, and substantially enlarge the progressive plurality in Congress will condemn millions of people all over the world to much higher levels of horrible suffering and death.  

            Call it the lesser evil, if you must, but less evil is better than exponentially more evil.

            The ice caps are melting, and we don't have any more time for arguing and fighting among ourselves over the finer points of 100 year old catechisms of rhetorical dogma, posturing and vying for sectarian hegemony.  

            Conditions have changed, and we must adapt revolutionary theory and practice to that reality.

            There IS a difference between the Blue Dogs and the rest of the party, and that's what needs to be relentlessly pointed out, WITHOUT conflating it into some jive bullshit about "teh Dems" being NOTHING but Blue Dogs...which simply isn't true.

            I am not opposed to pointing out the evils of capitalism, and the shortcomings of the Democratic Party at this juncture...but unless this is done in a principled, objective manner, with concrete proposals for direct action, to rectify the present situ, namely by turning out en masse, to vote, to purge the right, it will do more harm than good.

            "...a printing press is worth 10,000 rifles..." Ho Chi Minh

            by Radical def on Mon Aug 23, 2010 at 01:00:33 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Primary challenges (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              goinsouth

              The LAST thing we need is a lot of cynical defeatism and demoralization, promulgating a contrived canard of "no difference" between the parties, and thus no use in voting.

              Serious primary challenges to purge the right will, in the cases they fail, undoubtedly contribute to possible Republican wins.  Even criticism of Democratic incumbents is accused of having that effect.  More and better are diametrically opposite goals.  If you want better you will have to make some sacrifices on more.  This is the case in any kind of a constrained resources system - not just elections.

              •  First, I would challenge your false premise... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Larsstephens

                ...that "even criticism of Democratic incumbents" is accused of handing power to the Republicans.  

                Perhaps the most common and disingenuous canard, claiming illegitimate suppression of dissent by lock-step kool aid swilling Obamabot "cheerleaders", yada, yada, yada.  

                The objections raised are not to principled, objective, material critique, presented with material analysis of how the contradictions can be resolved, within the parameters defined for the dkos blog (ie: electing more better Democrats, remember?)

                The objections are to contrived, unprincipled, subjective, opportunist, hyperbolic indiscriminate slagging of Obama and "teh Dems", AS IF the "Democratic Majorities" could, if they only wanted to, and should, because you demand it, reverse, overnight, over 30 years worth of policy and practice, including a deeply imbedded right wing fifth column throughout the entire government apparatus..."or else" you will not vote, and nobody else should vote either, because the Democrats are absolute, totaL shit, etc. etc. etc.

                Like it or not, the real politik is that the right, yet and still, despite the "Democratic Majorities", retains, JUST BARELY, sufficient plurality, for now, to block, delay and sabotage all motion.

                Refusing to acknowledge and accept that reality, to demand impossible absolutist idealist advances...ignoring that the Blue Dogs and Republicans are NOT "the same" as the Progressive Caucus and other more moderate elements in the party, the implied or explicit position that they are all "the same", and especially that Obama and "teh Dems" are "the same" as Bush and the Republicans, are, in fact, actually brazen lies, which people here rightfully find offensive.  

                If you really believe that shit, that the Democrats are absolutely irrevocably non-viable, and should thus be abandoned, then WTF are you doing here, if not to deliberately spam and troll and harass us?

                What makes you think such tactics will endear you to Democrats, or make us pay more attention to you, lol?  It's far more likely to further isolate and alienate you, and to make people hate your jive ass even more than they already do...like the freakin' Greens, lol.

                If we wanted to join SWP, or some other such formation, we'd go to their website, and subscribe, lol.  What makes you think we haven't seen and heard this shit before, and can't recognize it for what it is?  

                Most of us have been around the block a time or two, to say the least.

                Nobody has a "right" to deliberately, arrogantly, insultingly, defy the purpose of this site, and the TOS, to spam us with insulting jive bullshit, no matter how much they may proclaim and demand that "freedom".

                Second, I don't know how you manage to get up in the morning, with your defeatist, fatalistic negativity staring you in the face, as reflected in your main comment here.

                Regarding failed primary challenges, or losing seats to Republicans because of fielding candidates who are "too progressive" for their district, etc. I can only say, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

                I think we need to pick our fights, to get what we can, when and where the conditions are ripe, and do our best to cultivate the conditions required for success, by doing the down and dirty grassroots organizing and networking that it takes, to shift constituent districts to the left, such that candidates are forced to move left, or else be successfully challenged.

                It's not like we need, or should expect, or should even try to succeed at this in every single district, all at once, everywhere.  

                The fact is, the power in Congress and in many local and state legislatures as well, is hanging by a thread, dangling by JUST A FEW VOTES, on any matter of substance.  

                Just a few more progressives, and a few less Blue Dogs and Republicans will shift the balance of power very significantly, allowing further material prospects for more significant advances off of that, like media reform, and campaign finance reform, for example, to get us on a more viable path to real democracy.

                Each district will have to make these decisions, on the ground, as to what is really feasible and desirable, in their district.  One of the most important roles dkos can play in that is to support those progressive candidates who do emerge, so they actually have a chance of succeeding outside of the present DLC structures, which presently is proving so unresponsive (which is only to be expected, given the present conditions).

                It will not change, unless we make it change, by doing what it takes to bring the necessary material pressure, on the grassroots level.  

                Screaming and yelling about it in hysterical angst here on dkos is just not going to cut it.

                I think it especially means mobilizing those sectors of the eligible electorate who don't usually vote...that huge, latent, overwhelmingly Democratic electoral pool that finally, at last, stepped up to elect Obama and the present Democratic Majorities (such as they are, lol).  

                Likely Democratic voters simply must not be urged to just sit out the interim elections, or 2012, if we, or they, want to see any real hope for change.

                Those agitators who insist on taking such a line are ultimately going to get kicked to the curb, here on dkos, and also, I think, electorally, by the masses, who have consciously and deliberately REJECTED such calls for boycott and splitting, and chosen instead to seize the power electorally, via the Democrats.

                I think it's time for some elements on the left to recognize and accept the leadership of the masses in this regard, and to knock off the knee-jerk droning insulting contempt for the masses that is so poignantly reflected by such persistent, pervasive, unprincipled, stubborn negativity as is so often expressed by such elements.

                "...a printing press is worth 10,000 rifles..." Ho Chi Minh

                by Radical def on Mon Aug 23, 2010 at 08:30:36 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Okay fine (0+ / 0-)

                  Second, I don't know how you manage to get up in the morning, with your defeatist, fatalistic negativity staring you in the face, as reflected in your main comment here.

                  In the interests of not accidentally causing you or someone else reading this comment fatal ennui let's play it your way.  What policy are you only a few votes short of being able to pass?  Or is this just some general feeling you have that we are only a few votes short of paradise?

                  •  Name a major issue before this Congress... (0+ / 0-)

                    ...that Hasn't involved a mad scramble of counting and recounting votes, throughout the entire legislative process.

                    How can this be a serious question?

                    And why do you bring this "a few votes short of paradise" bullshit, if your intent is not sheer ad hominem jive?

                    It seems you're the ones demanding immediate socialist utopia, right now, lol, even though the right still has us outnumbered in the Congress, presently.

                    I recognize that we will have to settle for watered down, inadequate laws, full of onerous compromises, to get anything whatsoever passed, and to hold the line against absolute complete reversal on everything we've ever accomplished in the past, under the present conditions

                    The big difference is that I also recognize that we can change those present  circumstances, in direct proportion to increased progressive plurality in Congress...and that for all the present shortcomings, some progress has, indeed, been made, even if it remains totally inadequate, thus far, requiring more attention as soon as we have stronger progressive plurality.

                    You, on the other hand, seem to think that nothing worthwhile whatsoever has been or ever will be accomplished by the Democrats, no matter what, and your "proof" is that we haven't yet achieved absolute full "paradise", half way through Obama's first term, despite the Blue Dogs and Republicans still retaining the plurality that they do.

                    What is your freaking point, anyway?

                    Why don't you just spit it out, and get it off your chest?  

                    Don't you ever get tired of weaseling?

                    "...a printing press is worth 10,000 rifles..." Ho Chi Minh

                    by Radical def on Mon Aug 23, 2010 at 10:19:54 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  One either saves the middle class or not (0+ / 0-)

                      Tell me how, following our current track, we accomplish preserving our country's middle class.  Most people on this site are barely even aware of the issues the middle class faces or their potential solutions.  Here are some major issues:

                      1. Trade regulation
                      1. An industrial policy - our roads did not get built out of free market randomness.  If we want to get off oil and other sustainable practices we need firm direction from the federal government.
                      1. Seriously questioning endless war and permanently crazy war machine spending
                      1. Progressive taxes - we are barely able to get the Bush nonsense to expire
                      1. Immigration - like it or not the path to saving the middle class does not run through open borders

                      There is a lot of fervor on DKos about winning elections but very little interest in what should happen afterward.  Many members truly believe in policy stances that at one time would have been considered Republican.

                      •  The "current track" is a side-track... (0+ / 0-)

                        Nobody with a brain can claim that we are anywhere near being on the right track, yet.

                        Obsessing on that indisputable fact may be gratuitously gratifying to some, but serious people are more concerned about the Future Track that we aspire to get onto.

                        I see this as an interim period, where we have just forced the barreling backward train to hell onto a sidetrack, and a major confrontation is brewing, toward an imminent showdown.

                        When the train leaves the station, it's either going to the right, or to the left.  

                        Either the engineer and his crew, and the passengers, all together, seize control of the train, and decide which way to go, or the "owners" will continue to insist on going backwards, faster and faster, into hell, and sic their goons on us, to make us.

                        It could get ugly.  We ain't seen nothing, yet.  The depths of the depravity of capitalism know virtually no bounds, especially in it's moribund form, fascism.

                        But there's only one track that will get us anywhere near material resolution of the contradictions and contra-indications of common concern...the track to democracy.

                        You can bring your laundry lists of the many urgent problems that we need to address...and you won't necessarily be "wrong", per se.  

                        Critical analysis is absolutely necessary.  

                        But without material, feasible, viable proposals for action, toward rectification, criticism is reduced to opportunist, subjective, unprincipled knee-jerk oppositionalist obstructionism, which becomes a counter-revolutionary tendency, especially when the criticism is laden with contrived hyperbolic canards and ad hominems, deliberately attempting to splinter solidarity and unity of will, hoping to weasel a few of the shards into your own sectarian cult.

                        We need less rhetorical intellectual posturing for hegemony, and more material direct action.

                        The real issue is not that we have problems, so much, but rather, what are we going to do, exactly, materially, about those problems?  

                        And I don't mean the excruciating details of every aspect of foreign and domestic policy, so much, as what the "right track" might be, in general, such that we could at least have some hope for more or less principled resolution, going forward, in more correct, rational, democratic directions, on any given issue.

                        I would like nothing more than to see all contradictions resolved, immediately.

                        But that's not going to happen any time soon, so we are left with considering what we are going to actually do, meanwhile.

                        We don't have another 50 years, say, to continue arguing the finer points of dogmatic rhetorical ideological theoretical catechisms.

                        Time is running out.  The ice caps are melting.

                        I see only one option that offers any real prospect for any real progress, or even for material resistance to going backwards, and that is to embark on the only course of action materially available to us, that of seizing the power, democratically, electorally.

                        Then, and only then, we can begin to actually implement material alternatives, rather than just being left bitching and moaning on the side of the road, wringing our hands in tortured angst, while the boss and his goons take potshots at us, from the passing windows.

                        Do you actually see a material prospect for any other approach to mitigating the worst evils of capitalism, while working to eliminate the root causes of those evils?

                        I think with just a little more substantial progressive plurality in Congress, and a little less right wing plurality, we will be in a position to fight and win on such things as significant media and campaign finance reform, say, which will very substantially increase the potential for more viable democracy, going forward.

                        Will it be socialist utopia, yet?  I think not, but at least we'll be on the most direct track, going in the correct direction...since democracy is what socialism, communism, and anarchy, are ultimately all about...

                        Right?

                        Democracy is a deep subject, and I have to wonder what your conception of that may be.

                        "...a printing press is worth 10,000 rifles..." Ho Chi Minh

                        by Radical def on Tue Aug 24, 2010 at 12:22:53 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  campaign finance reform? (0+ / 0-)

                          The real issue is not that we have problems, so much, but rather, what are we going to do, exactly, materially, about those problems?

                          No that's not true - the reason there is no urgency from anyone, including Obama, is that most of the electorate, probably including you, does not really think the middle class in America is in crisis.  You think this is just one more voting season, one in which Democrats may do better than usual.  So the first step, materially, is that people explaining the severity of the crisis be agreed with instead of shouted down and mocked.  The second step is that people be educated enough to know that my list above is not some arbitrary laundry list but the policies that MUST change if the middle class is to survive.  But instead it seems we will have to wait for the start of another depression in full before one and two can happen.

                          •  By all means, educate... (0+ / 0-)

                            ...but if you want to be taken seriously, also recognize and acknowledge that the only way your list will be fulfilled is with a more substantial progressive plurality in Congress.

                            You assert that people on dkos are ignorant of these issues, but I assure you, we know all about them, and discuss them constantly.

                            Few, besides some Blue Dogs and various right wing sock puppets here, would  argue against the urgency of such matters.

                            However, as you have noticed, these matters have NOT been resolved, subject to the present balance of power in Congress, where the right yet and still prevails, indeed, DESPITE the Democratic Majorities.

                            Either we buff up the progressive plurality, and decimate the right, or else things will stay like they are, or get even worse, going backwards.

                            I do not advocate just having "a voice", or a "seat at the table".  I advocate seizing the power, with a super-majority progressive/moderate coalition, to purge and suppress the right as much as possible.

                            I propose this is the only way in hell we have any hope for any change.

                            If you have any alternative proposals, besides just obsessively chanting about "they coulda, shoulda, but didn't", and "they have no spine", and "they have no balls", etc. etc., as if it's all about the "teh Dems", and not, in fact, the deliberate treason of the Republicans and Blue Dogs, the right, that is the real problem right now...

                            First, we have to off the pigs.  Then, we can sort out the "progressives" and "liberals" and "moderates", mmmkay?

                            You want to save the "middle class"?  

                            Nothing more militant than a middle class on a slippery slope toward the lower classes.

                            To the extent "middle class" has become synonymous with "bourgie" aspirations and delusions, I prefer the term working class.

                            But I feel ya.  Believe me, I know what it's like to lose everything you've worked all your life for, even your home.  

                            And to see no prospect for improvement.

                            I'm sure it's all the more..frustrating...when maybe you thought you had it made, heh.

                            Ow...not to be callous, or contemptuous....trauma is trauma, and this is a real crisis, not only for the "middle class", but also, especially, even more so, for the "lower" classes.  

                            Everything is relative.

                            But what's absolute is that without power, we are powerless.

                            Seize the Power!

                            "...a printing press is worth 10,000 rifles..." Ho Chi Minh

                            by Radical def on Wed Aug 25, 2010 at 05:23:16 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Just how many sock puppets are you claiming? (0+ / 0-)

                            Few, besides some Blue Dogs and various right wing sock puppets here, would  argue against the urgency of such matters.

                            Just going to the first diary or story I can find on any one these topics Outsourcing of America by an American Company (IBM) - how much concern for working class are you seeing there?

                            Here is a story on how un-American our current economic system is The free market is anti-American and it gets this comment

                            Why haven't I heard this info before now? (6+ / 0-)
                            This is a truly TERRIFIC post.  I've been reading newspapers for decades, and I've been reading DailyKos.com since 2004, but I do not recall ever seeing this info before. So why is importatant information like this so elusive?

                            In my opinion, we progressives do not do NEARLY enough to stem the tide of right-wing lies with facts like this. Thank you so much for providing much needed ammunition.

                            "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."--Evelyn Beatrice Hall. "Hide the troll!"--StevenJoseph

                            by StevenJoseph on Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 06:44:18 AM PDT

                            Its all well and good to say "Seize the Power!" but first without any kind of an agreed upon party platform you are not seizing anything and second, even if you did, nothing but rehashed failed ideas will ever get passed because everyone has a different idea of what we elected these people to do.

                          •  Yet and still, you weasel... (0+ / 0-)

                            ...refusing to propose an alternative to the proposal that we tactically unite behind the most viable liberal bourgeois candidates and whatever more progressive primary challengers we can muster, and mobilize the electorate to block the extreme right from power...then proceed from there to press the contradictions, toward more substantial progressive plurality, with an explicit call  to purge and suppress the right, for democracy, for justice and peace, to save the planet.

                            If you really think that won't work, then what WILL work?

                            What would you have us consider?  

                            Spit it out, now...

                            "...a printing press is worth 10,000 rifles..." Ho Chi Minh

                            by Radical def on Wed Aug 25, 2010 at 09:09:05 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Voting for yesterday's Republican will definitely (0+ / 0-)

                            not work.  Tomorrow the Republicans will go further into crazy and suddenly today's Republican will look appealing.  What will work is

                            1. regaining our sense of outrage with feed the rich and destroy the country politics in general
                            1. rallies, protests and an ever widening circle of educated voters that will not vote for a Republican in any form
                            1. Yes we will vote for a Boxer over a Fiorina but no we won't show for a blue dog no matter what
                            1. It's made very, very clear to Obama that he won't get a second term this way
  •  Cavalry..... (4+ / 0-)

    ....baby. Army on horses. Calvary = Jesus death place.

    British Petroleum: I think that means it's foreign oil.

    by Bensdad on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 12:26:58 PM PDT

    •  Thanks for the Correction. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cosette, dirkster42, Cassiodorus

      I'm neither religious nor a military history buff, and spell-check failed me as well.

      Convict Bush, Cheney and their torture cabal. Support single-payer health care and unions.

      by Justina on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 12:33:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  This (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Justina, xaxado, Radical def

        Returning to the Roots of the Democratic Party

        In the hayday of the mass Democratic Party in the U.S., the Democratic community was organized into precinct units of 500 voters or so.  The precinct captains and officials played the role that the "voiceros" now play in Venezuela.  The old Democratic Party precinct organizations not only got out the vote for elections, but played an important social service role in their communities, not merely giving out turkeys to the poor at Thanksgiving and Christmas, but providing needed connections to social services, such as doctors, hospitals and lawyers.  The precinct organizations were an important social safety network.

        The old Democratic social network has virtually disappeared.  The current Democratic Party leadership has been effectively taken over by the same people who were ousted from the official Republican Party by the religious extremists.  Once known as the Rockefeller Republicans who were fiscally conservative following the interests of their big corporations and class, but socially more liberal, eschewing racism and religious extremism, they lost their power in the Republican Party to the religious conservative voters.  These "Rockefeller Republicans" were denied their traditional leadership roles in the Republican Party, so they invaded the Democratic Party.

        Having been driven out of their Republican Party, these rich but socially liberal Republicans, put their energies and wealth into taking over the Democratic Party, ousting the labor unions and progressive groups from office under the banner of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC). The result the Bill Clinton and Barack Obama administrations, two nominal Democrats who put their liberal Republican policies in place, serving the corporate interests not  those of the majority of Americans. These liberal Republicans now control our Democratic Party and our government.  It is no wonder that private corporations are writing our health care and fiscal legislation, just as they did under George Bush. Their corporate boys are still in power.

        Meanwhile, the majority of Americans are suffering terribly from the Republican policies, religious extremist, neo-conservative and "liberal".  Americans are dying from lack of health care, we are losing our homes and our jobs due to the banksters who looted our economy.  Now Americans are choosing to commit suicide rather than continue to endure these humiliating privations.

        Is a real good start to its own diary.

  •  Hi, Justina. Great diary. (9+ / 0-)

    We have been posting these at 6 PM EDT for the past couple of weeks rather than at 3 PM as was the case for the first couple of weeks.

    I'm not sure if it's possible to delete and re-post in the same day.

    We may just have to go with the flow.

    I could re-post at 6 PM perhaps.

    Capitalism is the extraordinary belief that the nastiest of men, for the nastiest of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all. - JM Keynes

    by goinsouth on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 12:35:42 PM PDT

  •  Viva La Venezuela Democracy Experiment! (12+ / 0-)

    Thanks for the link to the info on Dennis Paul.  There are so many like this, "losers" to the capitalist machine.

    Well, we all go down, capitalist or not.  The only thing that can make up for a lack of money, is some conduit to "spirit".

    ...and many of the hard-core capitalists come to understand this point very well.  To late, usually, but they come to see that money won't fix what is really wrong.

    Please keep working toward that new system you envision.  People will benefit from here how things are done in Venezuela!

    Epigentic science ...reveals that we are not "victims" but in fact "masters" of our genes. --Bruce H. Lipton, PH.D.

    by williamjustin on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 12:36:38 PM PDT

  •  One of the great differences (7+ / 0-)

    in the mind set of many Americans is the bad taste of the communism fear myth of the 50's and 60's in this country.  The other difference is the God factor here. There is a strong belief that God  and his  Evangelist speakers will take care of everything and all you need to do is follow the bible and you will receive whatever you need.

    Trying to form these consejo communals in this country would probably look like the Jehovahs Witnesses knocking at your door, with similar reception.

    Lastly, you are preaching to the choir on this page but the Christian Right wing in this country and their propaganda machine  portrays Venezuela and Chavez like Castro and Cuba.  

    We need to educate the the uneducated before you can enable them to think.

    "Let them eat cake" M.A.

    by stiffneck on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 12:47:34 PM PDT

    •  People Are Used To Democrats Knocking on Doors! (14+ / 0-)

      I disagree that people would be put off by being asked to join a Democratic Party community council, especially if you tell them that the council will organize cheap medical and dental care and low cost food, then ask them what their needs are and how they might be able to contribute to the community effort.

      The first step for accomplishing anything is talking to your neighbors rather than writing them off as uneducated or uninterested.

      As to the religious issue, Venezuela is a very, very Catholic country.  President Chavez was raised Catholic and talks about Christ being his socialist model.  While the Catholic hierarchy here is completely entrenched with the capitalist opposition, the spirit of Christ's socialism in the general population is completely consistent with that of the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela.

      Convict Bush, Cheney and their torture cabal. Support single-payer health care and unions.

      by Justina on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 01:01:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  There's also the tradition of liberation theology (9+ / 0-)

        It went through some changes in the 90s, but one of the essays in one of the early anthologies, Frontiers of Theology in Latin America declares that the choice between socialism and capitalism is not optional for the theologian - you have to go with socialism.  I forget who penned that particular essay - might have been Juan Luis Segundo.

        I can't think of any liberation theologians from Venezuela, though.  Gutierrez is Peruvian, the Boff brothers are Brazilian, and Segundo is Argentinean.

      •  Finally someone recognizing that Christ (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cassiodorus, goinsouth

        was a socialist which he was.  Is it hard to live as an expat in Venezuela?  

        "When fascism comes to America, it'll be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis

        by lakehillsliberal on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 04:58:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  No, Not Hard: A Day in My Now Relaxed Life. (4+ / 0-)

          Having retired from the hectic and stressful practice of law and moved to Venezuela almost four years ago, I'm discovering what it is like to feel human again.

          Thanks to the insistent demand of my mostly basset hound dog called Cachapa (after a type of Venezuelan corn pancake), we walk the neighborhood every morning for a half hour so so.  Cachapa has accomplished for me what my poor Spanish language skills could not, everyone stops to pet her and inquire of me about her lineage and maternal status. Cachapa and her pet gringa, me, has become a local celebrity, who frequently received gifts of pastelles and arepetas from her adoring fans.

          Passing by the "puesto" of my friend who sells clothing in an outdoor spot near the hospital, we exchange our personal news, while her 9 year old daughter, Rebecca, takes Cachapa for a short run, enjoyed by both.

          I might take Rebecca with me to walk a few blocks further to the local Mission a Dentro ambulatorio (medical office) to have my blood pressure checked, then buy the local newspaper at a kiosk.  

          If I'm out of bananas and melon, the trip might include a stop at a fruit stand, where Cachapa might get a free banana if the owner is in the mood to be charitable. Next we might stop to buy yogurt from the man who pushes his yogurt cart through the streets, then back home where I might stop to chat with the our consejo comunal "vocera" whose brother, a retired teacher who studied in the U.S. and speaks English, has been seriously ill. At home, it's time for a look at Mérida's newspaper, Pico Bolivar, and maybe the national leftist paper, Diario Vea, then on to the internet for world news, dailykos and democratic underground.

          At 2:00 p.m. or so, I start classes, which may run until 8:00 or 9:00 p.m., then its home to cook some rice and olive oil with lots of ajo (garlic) and a side of banana or avocado.  Then, its usually "Pooties and Woozles" time on dailykos and then to bed.

          I live very simply here.  No microwave or blender, no clothes dryer or car (the traffic in this city is too awful to drive in a car when I could be making faster progress walking or sitting in a bus (costing less than 20 cents)reading a book while the driver deals with the traffic's stops and starts.)  

          Convict Bush, Cheney and their torture cabal. Support single-payer health care and unions.

          by Justina on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 06:09:32 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It is something to think about. I do not (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Justina, Cassiodorus

            think living in the U.S. is going to get any easier and could get much harder especially for those of us who are progressive in our beliefs. We may be headed into a fascist nightmare.  

            "When fascism comes to America, it'll be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis

            by lakehillsliberal on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 07:09:11 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Very late to this, but thanks (0+ / 0-)

            I spent a couple of months in Vz a few years back -- probably about the time you were arriving.

            Very enlightening time.

            The anti-Chavez slant to U.S. news on Venezuela is maddening, at times.  One thing that one of the leaders of a local Consejo Comunal in Pampatar told me has stuck with me:

            "We don't get everything right.  We try different things.  If something doesn't work out the way we planned, we change direction and try something else."

            The difference in medical care?  Don't even get me started.  You stated it so well.

            I also found that Venezuela is truly a participatory democracy.  They take elections deadly seriously there.  

            Thanks for your diary that very closely mirrors my own experiences.

            "When reality is your enemy, insanity is your refuge." -- blue aardvark

            by Richard Cranium on Mon Aug 23, 2010 at 06:35:00 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  I watched this BBC interview yesterday (13+ / 0-)

    with Prof. David Harvey - found it very interesting.

    Part 1

    Part 2

    Part 3

    There's also this fantastic animation of a recent lecture:

    O snail, climb Mount Fuji, but slowly, slowly! - Issa

    by bumblebums on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 01:25:35 PM PDT

  •  Function of the voceros. (5+ / 0-)

    Justina, what is the precise function of the voceros, the spokespeople?

    If most decisions are made by the councils themselves, do the voceros represent the council with other agencies, councils?

    Capitalism is the extraordinary belief that the nastiest of men, for the nastiest of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all. - JM Keynes

    by goinsouth on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 01:28:01 PM PDT

    •  The Voceros Do the Administrative Tasks. (5+ / 0-)

      The Voceros carry the message of the councils to other agencies and coordinate activities.  We have a great vocera, a retired public administrator, who is also extremely active in Catholic charity projects.  She is a true Christian Socialist who is just naturally helpful to those around her. She is a font of information on all the available social programs, social security, mother's pensions, children's services and the like. She has helped to organize children's sports programs as well as classes in handcrafts and the like.  

      Convict Bush, Cheney and their torture cabal. Support single-payer health care and unions.

      by Justina on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 02:03:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Venezuela has everything except production (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    satrap

    That's going to be a problem, sooner or later.

    Some things you know/and some you just believe in/and hope it comes out even --Aimee Mann

    by Rich in PA on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 02:11:49 PM PDT

    •  Data instead of assertions? (5+ / 0-)

      Give us something concrete.

      Capitalism is the extraordinary belief that the nastiest of men, for the nastiest of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all. - JM Keynes

      by goinsouth on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 02:26:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Okies (0+ / 0-)

        http://www.indexmundi.com/...

        that's industrial production.  I'm not finding agricultural figures, but I'm sure someone will.

        Some things you know/and some you just believe in/and hope it comes out even --Aimee Mann

        by Rich in PA on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 02:40:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Here's the context, as I understand it (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dirkster42

          Venezuela has one significant export, which is oil.  When oil prices are high, everything is great.  When oil prices are low, not so much.  For the last 70 years, Venezuela (like most other economies where oil is the primary export) has been trying to figure out how to diversify its economy.  It's difficult, because (a) oil exports mess with your exchange rate, so that it's hard not to just import everything else, and (b) it's hard not to prefer life as a rentier of oil wealth (especially when, as in Venezuela, it's a public enterprise) rather than as an entrepreneur.  None of this is unique to Venezuela, and it's certainly not unique to the Chavez era.  What I do see under Chavez is a whole-hog commitment to oil as the motor of everything, assuming (which I do, at least) that the government won't be able to run nationalized businesses very well because they never have.  

          Some things you know/and some you just believe in/and hope it comes out even --Aimee Mann

          by Rich in PA on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 03:39:51 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Are you saying that no nationalized business in (4+ / 0-)

            the entire world has ever been run well?  Or are you saying that no nationalized business in Venezeula has ever been run well?

            The supremacy of finance capital over all other forms of capital means the rule of the rentier and of the financial oligarchy -- Lenin (1917)

            by GiveNoQuarter on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 03:42:58 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  New Production Factories Opening Here Every Day. (5+ / 0-)

            The Chavez government is well aware of the dangers of relying on oil resources to move its economy. They are regularly expanding local production.  Hundreds of new companies, many in partnership with other countries, are opening here to produce everything from generic drugs to cell phones, bicycles and computers.

            It is a gargantuan job to transform a capitalist economy into a socialist one.  Inevitably there will be mistakes made and failures,  but it will not be for lack of will and vision to improve the life of the people.

            Convict Bush, Cheney and their torture cabal. Support single-payer health care and unions.

            by Justina on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 04:23:53 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  It's certainly the case that if you Google... (0+ / 0-)

              "inaugura fabrica Venezuela" (inaugurate factory Venezuela) you get items about everything from tractors to cellphones to "synthetic wood." Looked at with a constructive socialist attitude, I suppose it's just one good thing after another!  But I'm looking at fifty years of import-substituting industrialization in Latin America that was not strikingly successful, except in Brazil because its internal market was so big.  Venezuela is a modest internal market and its trade agreements are with countries that--save for Bolivia, which is at a very low level of development--don't want to admit manufactured goods that compete with their own. These factories seem like good ways to make foreign exchange disappear--which keeps inflation at bay, which is important--but it's hard for me to imagine them being successful over the long haul.  

              Some things you know/and some you just believe in/and hope it comes out even --Aimee Mann

              by Rich in PA on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 07:01:25 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  U.S. Has One Significant Export: Our Jobs. (5+ / 0-)

            The U.S.'s manufacturing facilities have been turned into wastelands, with all the production machinery inside sent to Mexico, Thailand and Taiwan, while their former workers have been sentenced to unemployed destitution or fast food shops or Walmart at minimum wage pay to sell the products that used to be made in U.S. factories but now are made by virtual slave-wage workers in those foreign countries.

            People still make things in Venezuela, and the Chavez government is expanding the economy into new fields of production on a daily basis, using the oil profits to do it.

            Yes, Venezuela is by no means perfect, but it has recognized the need to expand its productive capacities and is taking steps to do so.  Meanwhile, the U.S. government is still giving tax credits to companies that off-shore American jobs.

            Convict Bush, Cheney and their torture cabal. Support single-payer health care and unions.

            by Justina on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 06:26:28 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  This is great! (6+ / 0-)

    Empower communities! How do we start, though?
    Take my neighborhood: black (I'm the only white face here), low income, very religious, many rental houses so people constantly moving in and out. Only 4 or 5 houses in the street are owned by the occupants, mine included. Churches everywhere!
    I thought about organizing a block party, but I don't really know how to go about it.

    How hard is it to move to Venezuela? :)

    •  Knock on 10 Doors, Try to Find 3 People to Help. (8+ / 0-)

      You could start out by knocking on a few doors in your neighborhood to talk about starting a neighborhood organization to tackle some major problem (virtually every neighborhood has a problem or twenty that needs solving). Try to get three or four people to meet to talk about what they need and what they need to do to get what they need.

      If the four of you then knock on ten more doors and each find three or four more people who are interested, you could be in business.

      Twelve to twenty active people could really make big changes, especially if you all join the Democratic Party and start making waves at the precinct level and organize a small food buying cooperative within the precinct or a similar project.  Everybody needs to save money on food.  Canvas to find what is most needed and try to meet that need. Think small and simple to make big changes, step by step.

      Convict Bush, Cheney and their torture cabal. Support single-payer health care and unions.

      by Justina on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 02:50:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's Easy to Move to Venezuela.... (11+ / 0-)

      But very important to speak the language.  I seem to have a defective foreign language department in my brain, so it has been hard for me to learn to speak, although I can read Spanish fairly well. Here in Mérida (and in most of Venezuela), there are few people who speak English.  

      Lack of language skills make it difficult to get jobs, so it is extremely important to learn the language. That has been, for me, the hard part of the move here.  But those who don't need a job because they have an income from social security or pension or the like, life here is much, much cheaper than in the U.S. There is a special visa program for retired persons with a regular income and visas for those who come here to do business or invest.

      Leaving home for another culture is never easy.  It took me about two years to begin to get really comfortable here.

      The best way to consider whether a move to Venezuela might be good for you is to come here for a few weeks visit, explore this spectacularly beautiful country, talk to expats on internet chats, and do the footwork for a possible move.

      This country has every ecological niche known to science, from crystal blue ocean coasts to snow-capped mountain tops, from rain-forest to deserts. Choose your favorite climate and you can find it here.

      Be warned, Venezuelan bureaucracy has been creating its formidable obstacles to serving the public here since the 15th century. You still must buy government stamps for many transactions (remember the U.S. Revolution against the Stamp Tax?  The Stamps are still alive and well here.) Six different signatures and official stamps are needed to get a document notarized, and four trips to the notary office. Lines at banks are long and slow, and getting U.S. dollars for travel outside Venezuela by residents can be a nightmare.  

      Nothing involving a government agency is either quick or easy.  The Bolivarian Revolution has not yet really penetrated the bureaucracy, and remains a source of massive frustration for everyone.

      So, perfection has not yet reached Venezuela, but putting up with bureaucracies can be tolerated when you also have free access to good medical care, cheap food and free education, as well as subsidies for housing, cooperatives and small businesses.

      The only solution to the bureaucracy is to always bring a good, long novel with you when you have to conduct business at any government or private institution, you will definitely need to read it while you wait.

      Convict Bush, Cheney and their torture cabal. Support single-payer health care and unions.

      by Justina on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 03:16:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thank you! (3+ / 0-)

        I was only half kidding.
        I've been thinking about leaving for a long time, my retirement is still a few years down the road, but it's never to soon to start planning. Languages come easy to me, I am German living in the US for about 30 years now, speak some French and Spanish, well enough to buy food and ask directions. Bureaucracy doesn't scare me I live in Louisiana and nothing happens fast here, I always take some reading or knitting with me. :)

        I will check out the possibilities, the only obstacles I see are my dogs and cats and turtle.

        •  Just follow up a little bit on this, (3+ / 0-)

          how are American expats viewed by the Venezuelans?  I know it can be hard to generalize but maybe you can talk a bit more about your experience and the experiences of your American friends living in Venezuela.  

          The supremacy of finance capital over all other forms of capital means the rule of the rentier and of the financial oligarchy -- Lenin (1917)

          by GiveNoQuarter on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 04:06:40 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Very late to this... (0+ / 0-)

            I hotlisted this diary yesterday to come back and read it today.

            I lived in Vz. for 3 months, and rented a condo.  My experience with the locals was nothing short of positive.  My language skills were somewhat limited, but was able to get by, and the skills improved dramatically during my short time.

            Venezuelans love Americans.  They just don't think to highly (understandably) of the U.S. government.

            "When reality is your enemy, insanity is your refuge." -- blue aardvark

            by Richard Cranium on Mon Aug 23, 2010 at 06:42:02 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  I don't think... (9+ / 0-)

    I buy into any utopian assumptions about the way the Democratic Party was in the United States:

    In the hayday of the mass Democratic Party in the U.S., the Democratic community was organized into precinct units of 500 voters or so.  The precinct captains and officials played the role that the "voiceros" now play in Venezuela.  The old Democratic Party precinct organizations not only got out the vote for elections, but played an important social service role in their communities, not merely giving out turkeys to the poor at Thanksgiving and Christmas, but providing needed connections to social services, such as doctors, hospitals and lawyers.  The precinct organizations were an important social safety network.

    These were top-down organizations, which explains why they were so easy to eliminate.  Venezuela, OTOH, is trying to move toward egalitarian organization.

    "Always in motion is the future" Yoda, in Episode V

    by Cassiodorus on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 02:31:10 PM PDT

    •  The question then, Cass, (5+ / 0-)

      is it possible to take over the Democratic Party at the precinct level in the way Justina proposes?  

      The supremacy of finance capital over all other forms of capital means the rule of the rentier and of the financial oligarchy -- Lenin (1917)

      by GiveNoQuarter on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 03:33:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's hard to say, isn't it? (6+ / 0-)

        In his critique of Democratic Party practice, Lance Selfa (The Democrats: A Critical History) suggests that, time and time again, the Democratic Party political class has been able to corral its "left" loyalists into curbing any demands they might have held which were "to the left" of the official party line.  Selfa argues that candidates such as Dennis Kucinich and Jesse Jackson essentially serve to quell dissent which might otherwise go into building up a "left" competitor to the Democratic Party.

        It's also useful in this regard to note that the "party line" is rather susceptible to the Presidential exercise of power, thus informal institutions such as the "Veal Pen" of which Jane Hamsher writes.  Selfa moreover notes that one barrier to the election of a truly change-oriented Presidency would be the "superdelegates," which can be handpicked to reinforce the status quo.

        Now, this is, of course, a "Democratic Party" weblog.  Yet the defenders of the Democratic Party here should nevertheless be pressed to show that there is something more to membership in their party than being sold out.  Bigger, fancier consolation prizes only mean:

        • more war
        • catastrophic global warming
        • increasing inequality
        • increasing authoritarian corporate domination

        "Always in motion is the future" Yoda, in Episode V

        by Cassiodorus on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 03:59:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's frustrating because it seems like (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mint julep, Cassiodorus, xaxado, MrJayTee

          almost everything has already been tried with respect to reforming the Democratic Party.  And I suspect that, no matter how many "progressives" we elect, there will always be enough votes on the other side to quash any real change.  In other words, many of the so-called progressives in the Democratic Party are only progressives out of convenience, and if the makeup of the party started to shift left, they'd move right, so that instead of Ben Nelson and Blanche Lincoln being the villains on an issue like healthcare, you'd have John Kerry or Barbara Boxer play those roles.  Which is to say that I think Greenwald's rotating villain thesis is spot-on.  It's easy to play the progressive hero when you know your bankster buddies already have the votes locked up.

          The supremacy of finance capital over all other forms of capital means the rule of the rentier and of the financial oligarchy -- Lenin (1917)

          by GiveNoQuarter on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 04:27:24 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Another point worth making (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Justina, Cassiodorus

            vis-a-vis the ability of the Republican base to hold their representatives accountable and the seeming inability of the Democratic base to do the same is that it's easy to appease your base when your base is screaming for most of the same policies that the oligarchy supports.  I think we need to work on developing a wedge between the Republican base and their representatives on economic issues.  It's clear that "big government socialism" won't work, but I do see an almost universal resentment of the banksters amongst Tea Party types.  This a contradiction that needs to be heightened.

            The supremacy of finance capital over all other forms of capital means the rule of the rentier and of the financial oligarchy -- Lenin (1917)

            by GiveNoQuarter on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 04:39:36 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  An adventure I had this week. (3+ / 0-)

              Was invited to a CCP meeting and went.  The good news was that it made this 55+ year-old feel young.  LOL.

              I knew that the CCP was engaged in another "Popular Front" with the Dems, but I was surprised at the virulence with which it was practiced among these members.  Most of the same types of attacks on dissenters was voiced there.

              At the end of the meeting, the leader showed a few new books.  One was Rubin's Can Capitalism Last?  One of these CCP members said, "I sure hope so.  At least past November."

              Capitalism is the extraordinary belief that the nastiest of men, for the nastiest of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all. - JM Keynes

              by goinsouth on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 05:04:18 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Wow. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                soothsayer99

                Now that's pathetic.  What's next week's task for the CCP: phone-banking for OFA?

                The supremacy of finance capital over all other forms of capital means the rule of the rentier and of the financial oligarchy -- Lenin (1917)

                by GiveNoQuarter on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 05:48:21 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  As a matter of fact... (5+ / 0-)

                  you got it, except phone banking and giving money for a hack Dem running for Senate.

                  One participant was very proud of all the money she had given to the Dems and the access it had given her.  She was rapturous about meeting Obama just this week.  "Our eyes met and we just clicked, you know?"

                  The Dem running for re-election as governor in this state is in big trouble.  One member raised the scary prospect that the Repub would eliminate income taxes and replace the revenue with a sales tax.  Admittedly, a horrible idea.

                  I made the point that many commentators now expect Obama's Catfood Commission to recommend a VAT tax along with SS cuts.  Everybody's eyes just hit the floor.

                  One participant claimed that Leftist critics of Democrats and the Administration were either Republicans in disguise or bomb throwers.

                  What was sad is that some of these people had really been through the wars in the 60s and even 50s.

                  But they are used to taking orders, and that is the current party line.

                  I was given a booklet explaining this strategy.  It was copyrighted in 2005.  Seems to me a few events in 2007-08 might have made a re-evaluation worthwhile.

                  Capitalism is the extraordinary belief that the nastiest of men, for the nastiest of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all. - JM Keynes

                  by goinsouth on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 05:59:29 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

          •  That is the reason (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Cassiodorus, goinsouth, xaxado, MrJayTee

            why I pretty much have given up on the Dem party.
            I still remember the shouts about 'changing the system from within' and what happened? Most who dove into the system got swallowed up, turned inside out and were never seen again.
            I also don't believe voting for the lesser of two evils because it doesn't get you anywhere, your stuck! It's been proven time and time again.

            Definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different result.

        •  Of course, a Democratic venue...NOT freakin' SWP (0+ / 0-)

          Anti-capitalism is all well and good, and I can see a role for an anti-capitalist caucus within the Democratic Party, that advocates for, at the very least, mitigating the most egregious excesses, in the short term, toward eventually transcending a system that inherently fosters and cultivates those excesses...gradually, incrementally, rationally, democratically supplanting capitalism, in a natural, organic "withering away" of the state of oppressive capitalist dictatorship.

          I don't see any other material feasibility at this time, other than an incremental transition approach.

          Anybody who claims they thought this would be easy, or that it could all be accomplished with one election, or one administration, is either delusional, or else being deliberately disingenuous.

          But it's not really that hard.  

          All you have to do is go down to the local Democratic Party headquarters, individually, but en masse, and take it over, by being the ones who show up and do the work, attend the meetings, assume the functionary positions, write the platforms and select the delegates and candidates.

          Yes, there will be entrenched Blue Dog elements and Libertarians, and those "undecided" and "swing" elements who can't even make up their mind from one election to the next whether to vote for the Republicans or the Democrats.

          Then there will be those vacillating, half-stepping, back-stabbing "moderates" and "liberals", as well.

          But as Lenin once put it, at a critical stage of struggle, one must be prepared to endure the slings and arrows of shit-headed fools, to contend for the power.

          In fact, most precincts are starved for volunteers and activists, and if enough progressive show up and pwn the set, major changes can be made, practically over night.

          Photobucket

          I might add that you don't necessarily have to work for some despicable Blue Dog, if they are really all that bad, in your district...you can maintain a principled distance in that regard, work in a neighboring precinct, even, and especially look to preparing the ground to bring forward more progressive primary challengers for the next rounds of elections.

          Yes, entrenched local, state and national Party power brokers will do everything in their considerable power to block your advance...but several successful primary challenges, and some close calls, have served as warning shots across the bow, proving that this can be done, if the locals really go for it.

          At this time, I think it is most appropriate for anti-capitalist revolutionaries to seize the power in the Democratic Party, rather than, say, launch an "alternative" party, or especially to call for electoral boycott, toward a national strike for the complete overthrow of capitalism in one fell swoop, say...

          AS IF there was anything BUT the Democratic Party that could even conceivably be expected to step into such a vacuum of power...besides the Republicans or something far worse, to the most barbaric right of them.  

          Most likely, what would ensue is a right wing coup on the government, which would immediately launch all-out counter-revolutionary civil war against all popular democratic elements in the country.

          That would not be a good thing, trust me.

          Makes a lot more sense to just gradually take over the Democratic Party, and to conduct a dignified transition to a new green paradigm, transcending capitalism  aswe-know-it, one election at a time.

          This could go incredibly fast, if more "leftists" would really put their money, time and energy where their mouth is, and actually get to work on materially destroying capitalism, one right wing reactionary conservative fundamentalist Republican and Blue Dog at a time, democratically, electorally.

          It wouldn't even require any major change, or extra resources, really, necessarily, from what many dedicated left activists are already engaged in, around so many urgent issues, on the grassroots and networking levels.

          All it requires is including a few words, a little analysis, about how the only viable, feasible material solution to whatever urgent issue(s) we face is More Better Democracy, with a call to mobilize the electorate, explicitly to purge and suppress the right from all levers of power, at all levels, to the greatest extent possible, in November, and again in 2012.

          Simple.  A no-brainer, really.  Just a slight change in line, to veer off the absolutist idealist cynical defeatism and demoralization, to bring a more positive, material call to action that the masses can actually relate to.

          The present balance of power in the House and Senate is hanging by a thread, dangling by JUST A FEW VOTES, or even one vote, around any matter of substance.  

          Despite the Democratic Majorities, the Blue Dogs and Republicans retain sufficient plurality, JUST BARELY, to block, delay and sabotage all motion, it's true.

          But just a few more progressives and a few less Blue Dogs and Republicans, and it will be a whole new ball game.

          Photobucket

          Will it be socialist utopia yet?  NOT.

          But with a little media reform and campaign finance reform, I think we will be able to finally embark on the road to genuine democracy.

          For those who are convinced that only civil war will suffice to suppress the Bourgeoisie and destroy capitalism, I would say that the surest way to precipitate that maximum class war is to begin to seize the power democratically.

          The absolutely hysterical draconian rhetorical freak out reaction on the right to Obama and the present "Democratic Majorities" should give you a mild hint at what is to come, the closer we get to real democracy.

          The right will never submit to the popular democratic will voluntarily.

          The time may well come to fully deploy FISA and the Patriot Act, bring the black helicopters and throw open the FEMA camps.

          Photobucket

          In that case, the stronger the popular democratic mandate, the faster and more thoroughly right wing reactionary anti-democratic counter-revolutionary sedition can be suppressed, for real, instead of the left.

          All Power to the People!

          Death to Capitalism, and it's moribund form, Fascism!

          Seize the Time!

          Seize the Power!

          Bring the Better Democrats!

          All Out for 2010 and 2012!

          Photobucket

          "...a printing press is worth 10,000 rifles..." Ho Chi Minh

          by Radical def on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 06:31:44 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Sorry, not signing on to that program. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Cassiodorus

            The right will never submit to the popular democratic will voluntarily.

            The time may well come to fully deploy FISA and the Patriot Act, bring the black helicopters and throw open the FEMA camps.

            Things are pretty open around here to anti-capitalists of all shapes and sizes.

            But the above is a non-starter with me, nor am I interested in associating with anyone who would advocate something like that.

            Maybe it was snark?

            (Offering you a chance to back out of that outrageous proposal.)

            Capitalism is the extraordinary belief that the nastiest of men, for the nastiest of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all. - JM Keynes

            by goinsouth on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 09:39:05 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  So...you would surrender to the right? (0+ / 0-)

              Perhaps to be slaughtered or enslaved by Joel's Army?

              Personally, I'm no pacifist.

              Hopefully, we will not reach that point, where such decisions might be necessary.

              Sufficient popular democratic mandate could preclude civil war from the right, IF they knew we would crack down hard, and crush them absolutely.

              Indeed, I believe it is only that fear which prevents them from acting now.

              But, rest assured, we'll treat them way better than they have ever treated us.

              Rather than just knock them on the head and throw them in a cage, to be brutalized and raped, we'd offer them real re-education and rehabilitation, and incentives to get on the bus, to help build out the new green paradigm.

              Only the most recalcitrant and instransigent criminal elements would have to do hard time.

              Until we needed to harvest their organs, heh...

              Photobucket

              "...a printing press is worth 10,000 rifles..." Ho Chi Minh

              by Radical def on Mon Aug 23, 2010 at 12:03:46 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Oh, and... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    historys mysteries, soothsayer99

    great diary!  I can hardly wait for goinsouth to post the 3pm PT/ 6pm ET meetup, too!

    "Always in motion is the future" Yoda, in Episode V

    by Cassiodorus on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 02:43:15 PM PDT

  •  A Question For You (0+ / 0-)

    Could you elaborate on this:

    inhuman capitalist system, with its real death panels

    What Death Panels are you referring to?

    •  Goldman Sachs and famine. (10+ / 0-)

      This is a good example involving the Wall Street speculation in commodities in 2007 that raised grain prices and produced famine around the world.

      So what has this got to do with the bread on Abiba's plate? Until deregulation, the price for food was set by the forces of supply and demand for food itself. (This was already deeply imperfect: it left a billion people hungry.) But after deregulation, it was no longer just a market in food. It became, at the same time, a market in food contracts based on theoretical future crops – and the speculators drove the price through the roof.

      Here's how it happened. In 2006, financial speculators like Goldmans pulled out of the collapsing US real estate market. They reckoned food prices would stay steady or rise while the rest of the economy tanked, so they switched their funds there. Suddenly, the world's frightened investors stampeded on to this ground.

      So while the supply and demand of food stayed pretty much the same, the supply and demand for derivatives based on food massively rose – which meant the all-rolled-into-one price shot up, and the starvation began. The bubble only burst in March 2008 when the situation got so bad in the US that the speculators had to slash their spending to cover their losses back home.

      When I asked Merrill Lynch's spokesman to comment on the charge of causing mass hunger, he said: "Huh. I didn't know about that." He later emailed to say: "I am going to decline comment." Deutsche Bank also refused to comment. Goldman Sachs were more detailed, saying they sold their index in early 2007 and pointing out that "serious analyses ... have concluded index funds did not cause a bubble in commodity futures prices", offering as evidence a statement by the OECD.

      People were starved to death so that some speculators could make a quick "killing."

      That's a Capitalist death panel.

      Capitalism is the extraordinary belief that the nastiest of men, for the nastiest of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all. - JM Keynes

      by goinsouth on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 03:02:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The Capitalist Death Panels: (10+ / 0-)

      The corporate CEOs and managers who decide to cut costs by laying off workers to improve their bottom line while destroying the pride and feeling of self-worth in their laid-off workers.

      The panels of insurance executives which set the health insurance policy rates far beyond what the average person can pay.

      The company CEOs decision-makers who decide to off-shore jobs that used to be done by American workers, thus leaving our workers unemployed and without health insurance.

      Panels such as the "Catfood Commission" which is trying to raise the age for social security to 70 years, forcing aging workers to die on the job or die from starvation and sickness if they can't get a job.

      The motive force of capitalism is the constant push to increase profits, not matter what the cost to the majority of human beings in our society. We must replace the capitalist economic system with one that works and nurtures the majority of human beings.

      Convict Bush, Cheney and their torture cabal. Support single-payer health care and unions.

      by Justina on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 03:29:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  So who would like to post for September? (nmI) (0+ / 0-)

    "Always in motion is the future" Yoda, in Episode V

    by Cassiodorus on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 03:08:28 PM PDT

  •  Tipped and recced and I'm impressed. (6+ / 0-)

    If this could be the color of our revolution maybe it won't be so bad.

    All bullying needs to cease immediately. Be nice or be gone. We are not them.

    by reddbierd on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 03:08:54 PM PDT

  •  Great job, Justina! (6+ / 0-)

    I've been looking forward to this diary.

    Working out the mechanisms of that network is not easy, as traditional local and state government agencies are frequently competing for funds with the new forms of organization, and the entrenched bureaucracy fights strenuously to maintain its control.

    What specifically is President Chavez doing to reign in the bureaucracy?  

    The supremacy of finance capital over all other forms of capital means the rule of the rentier and of the financial oligarchy -- Lenin (1917)

    by GiveNoQuarter on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 03:20:20 PM PDT

  •  Oh... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassiodorus, goinsouth

    and I'm wondering if you could give us a little bit of a personal background.  Are you from Venezeula?  What's your connection to the U.S.?  What got you interested in American politics?

    The supremacy of finance capital over all other forms of capital means the rule of the rentier and of the financial oligarchy -- Lenin (1917)

    by GiveNoQuarter on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 03:25:44 PM PDT

    •  Born and Raised in New Jersey. (11+ / 0-)

      Became a revolutionary thanks to reciting the Pledge of Allegiance every day in elementary school. That taught me that we are supposed to have freedom and justice for all.  I just want to make that a reality.

      Lived in Detroit for ten years, Taught law in Papua New Guinea for five years and was a public defender and in private practice in Hawaii for twenty-three years. Very active in Democratic Party politics in Detroit and Hawaii.

      In the midst of a black depression caused by the Bush-Cheney administrations policies from 2000 to 2006, decided to visit Venezuela to see how President Chavez was doing at demolishing capitalism.

      Visited Venezuela through a Global Exchange organization tour, which was excellent. We were taken to the medical missions, cooperatives and local community radio stations, received lectures from Venezuelan history professors and practicing journalists, and generally saw into the lives of the common people of Venezuela and how they were faring under the Chavez government.

      I was extremely impressed by the work of the government's Missions to end illiteracy and provide free education to all at every level, as well as the health project, Mission a Dentro which has set up thousands of free neighborhood medical clinics throughout the country.  Hey, we Americans need those things too!

      Decided to come here to teach English and write about the changes taking place, hoping that the American people would start to emulate the great programs being created here in Venezuela.  I still have that hope.

      Convict Bush, Cheney and their torture cabal. Support single-payer health care and unions.

      by Justina on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 04:07:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Excellent. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mint julep, dirkster42, xaxado

        Can you talk a bit about your teaching experience?  Are you teaching English to kids?  Adults?  The poor?  The middle-class?  The rich?  How is the support structure both at the local and national level?  

        The supremacy of finance capital over all other forms of capital means the rule of the rentier and of the financial oligarchy -- Lenin (1917)

        by GiveNoQuarter on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 04:17:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Teaching Both Kids and Adults. (5+ / 0-)

          I teach free classes for kids and adults for the Consejo Comunal at my apartment complex.  Attendance is sporatic, as there is just not the same urgency to learn English that I observed in Cambodia and Vietnam.  In Cambodia, the young lawyers in our public defender program would get up at 5:00 a.m. to attend an English class before coming to work at 8:00 a.m., then, at 6:00 p.m., frequently attend another English class.

          I observed the same high level of motivation in Vietnam where television sets were playing English lessons throughout offices and shops in the cities for groups of workers who clustered around.

          There are still relatively few English-speaking tourists in Venezuela, although the national Department of Tourism is trying to remedy that.  The government runs English (and some French, German and Italian) language classes in cities throughout the country which are free to tourism workers. The funds to run the national language program, IDIOMAS, come from a tax on hotels and other tourist agencies.  There is a demand in high level hotels for bi-lingual staff and for bi-lingual tourist guides.

          I also work with several doctors who are anxious to learn conversational English to facilitate their participation in international medical conferences and the like.

          English is a required subject in high schools here, but the content of the courses is quite poor and most of the English teachers do not actually speak any English, so the concentration is on English grammar for reading and writing.

          The University of Los Andes here in Mérida has a sophisticated English language program for those who plan to become teachers or translators, but even these highly trained students lack the opportunity to practice their spoken English.

          Most Méridians happily live their entire lives without hearing a word of English or ever needing to speak it, so there is not a large pool of potential English language students among the common people.  Those who are most anxious to learn English generally come from the middle or upper classes and tend to be supporters of the anti-Chavez opposition.

          If the people here harbor anti-American sentiments, I haven't experienced it. For many, the television-film myths of the Golden American dream still persist, so they are totally shocked when I tell them about the pervasive lack of access to health care and the enormous expense of higher education in the U.S.

          Convict Bush, Cheney and their torture cabal. Support single-payer health care and unions.

          by Justina on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 04:53:48 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Very informative, Justina. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Justina, mint julep, xaxado

            Kind of makes me want to learn Spanish and move to Venezuela.

            Sounds like there's a lot of growth opportunity in the tourist industry.  Could be a great thing for the Venezuelan economy.  I'm thinking that maybe the Chavez government should try making open appeals to progressive Americans to come to Venezuela to learn and help support the revolution.  They should set up large tourist cooperatives businesses too so that all the money doesn't go to the anti-Chavez forces.

            The supremacy of finance capital over all other forms of capital means the rule of the rentier and of the financial oligarchy -- Lenin (1917)

            by GiveNoQuarter on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 05:09:05 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  I recall seeing a piece on TV (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mint julep, dirkster42, goinsouth, puzzled

        about the universal access to classical music for children in Venezuela.  I saw a remarkable orchestra of young children and I believe one of the teachers is trying a project like this in the US. Do you have any info or insight into this?

        Sunlight is the best disinfectant

        by historys mysteries on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 04:22:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Is Gustavo Dudamel (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          historys mysteries

          the conductor you're thinking of? 60 Minutes did a profile on him, and the Venezuelan Youth Orchestra program a couple of years ago.

          There is no snooze button on a cat who wants breakfast.

          by puzzled on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 04:40:34 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  The VE Youth Orchestra Program is Fantastic! (6+ / 0-)

          Two of my English language students are active in this extraordinary music program, which is how I got to attend a youth orchestra concert conducted by Los Angeles Philharmonic's star,  Gustavo Dudamel here in Mérida last December.

          Dudamel is himself product of Venezuela national musical project wherein every youth in the country has the opportunity to take free musical lessons utilizing program-provided instruments and to participate in the various youth orchestras in this extremely demanding program.  

          The youth orchestra was started years before the Chavez government came into office by a dedicated musician who wanted all the poor children in the country to have the opportunity to play an instrument.  

          The Chavez government has, however, provided enormous resources to the orchestras, in which performing students are actually paid a salary for their participation. The government supports the orchestras traveling expenses throughout the country and internationally.

          The level of teaching and commitment of the teachers is extremely high, as a result the youth orchestra muscians reach a level of performance that is quite incredible.

          The Merida youth orchestra are paid like professionals and they perform like professionals.  The kids spend long hours taking lessons, practicing and rehearsing for performances.

          One of my 14 year old students is so good at the contra-base that he has been asked to move to Caracas to join the Caracas youth orchestra and receive further training. This Fall, David will tour Europe with the youth orchestra and may then go to Germany to work with a German orchestra. (For his work in Germany, he is required to know how to speak English, so David is also a highly motivated English student!).

          As a former public defender in juvenile court proceedings, I watched the kids who couldn't make it academically (frequently due to un-treated learning disabilities) circle the revolving door of court and community services sentences until the majority "graduated" into adult criminal proceedings.  

          The few who were able to escape the revolving door were those who managed to find their passion -- frequently in music. I often thought that sentencing these difficult kids to learn an instrument and  join a band, or take tennis or boxing lessons would have allowed many more to escape the cruel and dehumanizing criminal life.

          Venezuela also has a free musical program similar to the youth orchestras in its prisons, allowing some prisoners to play their way to a new life after incarceration.  

          The U.S. desperately needs programs like this.  I'm so happy that Dudamel is bringing these music programs to the attention of the American TV audience.  Let us hope the American politicians will listen too and start to fund such programs.

          Convict Bush, Cheney and their torture cabal. Support single-payer health care and unions.

          by Justina on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 05:23:04 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Oh yes, Chavez is so kind (0+ / 0-)

    with his systematic purging of dissent from Venezuela's airwaves and all.

    "See? I'm not a racist! I have a black friend!"

    by TheHalfrican on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 04:43:45 PM PDT

    •  Hmm...trying to (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Justina, Cassiodorus, MrJayTee

      decide if it's even worth it.

      I think maybe I'll let someone else set the record straight on this bourgeois propaganda line.

      The supremacy of finance capital over all other forms of capital means the rule of the rentier and of the financial oligarchy -- Lenin (1917)

      by GiveNoQuarter on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 04:46:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Lenin in your sigline. Figures. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        crankyinNYC, PubliusPublicola

        Sorry, but I don't admire dictators just because they give people free health care.

        "See? I'm not a racist! I have a black friend!"

        by TheHalfrican on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 04:51:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Right. You enthusiastically (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Justina, mint julep, goinsouth, xaxado, mojada

          support the dictatorship of Goldman Sachs and Exxon Mobil and ConAgra and Boeing and rest of the monopoly-capital parasites that are sucking the lifeblood out of the people.  Gotcha.

          The supremacy of finance capital over all other forms of capital means the rule of the rentier and of the financial oligarchy -- Lenin (1917)

          by GiveNoQuarter on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 04:57:40 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'll take Exxon and Goldman over Stalin and Mao. (0+ / 0-)

            Even though, I actually don't support Goldman and Exxon, but....no, don't let my dour grasp of history stop you from admiring dictators. I'm anti-dictator, y'see. I don't buy that Milton Friedman crap about how Pinoche "wasn't that bad", I'm not gonna buy that "Castro is a saint" shit from you. No sale.

            And yes, I know Chavez isn't quite a dictator yet, but DAMN has that fucker been trying.

            If Dubya tried to shut Air America down with the same autocratic horseshit legal reasoning Chavez used on RCTV, YOU AND THE ENTIRE GODDAMN NETROOTS WOULD'VE GONE KING-KONG-GRADE APESHIT.

            "See? I'm not a racist! I have a black friend!"

            by TheHalfrican on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 05:24:00 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  "GODDAMN NETROOTS" ???? (7+ / 0-)

              Why don't you tell us how you really feel about this site and its readers?

              While you're at it, why don't you check out some facts before you swallow U.S. and right wing propaganda whole.

              Here's some for you:

              US intelligence agents and NGOs are sprinkled throughout the civilian population gathering information, swaying elections, and fomenting social unrest. Here's a clip from an article titled "America's Covert 'Civil Society Operations: US interference in Venezuela keeps growing" which shows how America's tentacles extend everywhere:

              "Foreign intervention is not only executed through military force. The funding of "civil society" groups and media outlets to promote political agendas and influence the "hearts and minds" of the people is one of the more widely used mechanisms by the US government to achieve its strategic objectives. In Venezuela, the US has been supporting anti-Chavez groups for over 8 years, including those that executed the coup d’etat against President Chavez in April 2002. Since then, the funding has increased substantially. A May 2010 report evaluating foreign assistance to political groups in Venezuela, commissioned by the National Endowment for Democracy, revealed that more than $40 million USD annually is channeled to anti-Chavez groups, the majority from US agencies....

              A large part of NED funds in Venezuela have been invested in "forming student movements" and "building democratic leadership amongst youth", from a US perspective and with US values....In the last three years, an opposition student/youth movement has been created with funding from various US and European agencies. More than 32% of USAID funding, for example, has gone to "training youth and students in the use of innovative media technologies to spread political messages and campaigns", such as on Twitter and Facebook.

              NED has also funded several media organizations in Venezuela, to aid in training journalists and designing political messages against the Venezuelan government. ..What these organizations really do is promote anti-Chavez messages on television and in international press, as well as distort and manipulate facts and events in the country in order to negatively portray the Chavez administration... Yet such funding is clearly illegal and a violation of journalist ethics. Foreign government funding of "independent" journalists or media outlets is an act of mass deception, propaganda and a violation of sovereignty. ("America's Covert 'Civil Society Operations: US interference in Venezuela keeps growing", Eva Golinger, Global Research)

              It's hard to believe that a two-year senator from Chicago with a background in "community organizing" presides over this elaborate and opaque system of imperial rule. He doesn't, of course. The real leaders remain hidden behind the cloak of democratic government and all of Washington's phony institutions. Obama is merely a public relations hologram, a friendly face that conceals the machinations of a global Mafia. Other people--whoever they may be--control the levers of power moving the pieces as needed to assure the best outcome for themselves and their constituents. Now, it appears this shadow government has its eyes on Latin America once again. That's bad news for Chavez and anyone else who hoped that political instability and US black ops were a thing of the past.

              Washington hates Chavez because he's raised living standards for the poor. (and because he won't bow to the giant corporations) That's why he's pilloried in the media, because his socialist model of democracy doesn't jive with America's slash and burn-style of capitalism. Chavez has enacted land and oil industry reform, improved education and provided universal healthcare. He's introduced job training, subsidies to single mothers, drug prevention programs, and assistance for recovering addicts. Venezuelans are more educated than ever before. Illiteracy has been wiped out.

              Chavez's policies have reduced ignorance, poverty, and injustice. The list goes on and on. Venezuelans are more engaged in the political process than anytime in the nation's history. That scares Washington. US elites don't want well-informed, empowered people participating in the political process. They believe that task should be left to the venal politicians chosen by corporate bosses and top-hat banksters. That's why Chavez has to go. He's given people hope for a better life.

              Capitalism is the extraordinary belief that the nastiest of men, for the nastiest of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all. - JM Keynes

              by goinsouth on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 05:33:38 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I meant "GODDAMN NETROOTS" in a *good* way. Duh. (0+ / 0-)

                Meaning there would be OUTRAGE, HELLFIRE, STREET RIOTS (sorta like in Venezuela when RCTV was shut down nyuk nyuk nyuk), AND EPIC FURY coming from said Netroots, ya big dummy. /reddfoxx

                "See? I'm not a racist! I have a black friend!"

                by TheHalfrican on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 05:41:32 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Thank you for your pitch (5+ / 0-)

                  for Venezuela's richest.  ps the facts are not on your side.

                  "Always in motion is the future" Yoda, in Episode V

                  by Cassiodorus on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 05:42:42 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Could care less about their rich, good sir. (0+ / 0-)

                    I don't care about Chavez's economic policies. Couldn't give 2 shits.

                    My beef is, really, with Chavez's obvious anti-free-speech tendencies and the infuriating tendency of some liberals to see this and conclude "Well, its okay for him to suppress speech because ________"

                    No. Fuck that. Its not okay.

                    "See? I'm not a racist! I have a black friend!"

                    by TheHalfrican on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 05:50:45 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  That's obvious. (6+ / 0-)

                      I don't care about Chavez's economic policies. Couldn't give 2 shits.

                      It's quite apparent you couldn't care less that Chavez's policies are helping Venezuela's desperately poor millions who have suffered at the hands of the oligarchy for decades.

                      And it's not a "free press."  The only press that is getting flack from Chavez is bought and paid for by the CIA, etc.

                      Did you bother to read this diary?  There's no evidence in your comments that you're familiar with any of it.

                      Capitalism is the extraordinary belief that the nastiest of men, for the nastiest of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all. - JM Keynes

                      by goinsouth on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 06:04:08 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

      •  Just to give some context: (6+ / 0-)

        imagine if Fox News, with the help of British intelligence, had openly supported and participated in a coup d'etat against Barack Obama.

        The supremacy of finance capital over all other forms of capital means the rule of the rentier and of the financial oligarchy -- Lenin (1917)

        by GiveNoQuarter on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 04:52:20 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Nobody here has any idea (0+ / 0-)

      of what you're talking about.

      "Always in motion is the future" Yoda, in Episode V

      by Cassiodorus on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 05:40:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Oh another troll - how typical (0+ / 0-)

      Wonder how long this one will last?

      If it's
      Not your body
      Then it's
      Not your choice
      AND it's
      None of your damn business!

      by TheOtherMaven on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 06:48:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great, inspiring Diary! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Justina, jim d

    I hope this evolves into a regular stand-alone series all about Venezuela!

    (although including similar reports about the other Bolivarian nations would also be welcome)

    Pictures and videos, please!

    We need a lot less rhetorical "anti-capitalist" ranting and raving about all of the sordid, gory details of teh profound evil, enumerated ad nauseum, over and over again...

    Anyone who's been paying any attention already knows all about that.

    What we need is more positive information about democracy, and what that really looks like, and how to get there, which our comrades in Latin America have been struggling to demonstrate in practice, democratically, electorally.

    All Out for 2010 and 2012!

    Seize the Power!

    Venceremos!

    "...a printing press is worth 10,000 rifles..." Ho Chi Minh

    by Radical def on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 06:56:22 PM PDT

    •  Not sure about your agenda. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cassiodorus

      We need a lot less rhetorical "anti-capitalist" ranting and raving about all of the sordid, gory details of teh profound evil, enumerated ad nauseum, over and over again...

      Anyone who's been paying any attention already knows all about that.

      There are plenty of people around here who are just awakening to the problems with Capitalism, and this series is intended, in part, to be a resource for them.

      So we'll keep talking about the "sordid, gory details" along with alternatives.

      And cheerleading Democrats is not a priority.

      Capitalism is the extraordinary belief that the nastiest of men, for the nastiest of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all. - JM Keynes

      by goinsouth on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 09:42:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Did you say alternatives? (0+ / 0-)

        Like, do you mean indiscriminate, unprincipled, opportunist hyperbolic slagging of Democrats, rather than "cheerleading"?

        Or did you have some other alternatives in mind?

        C'mon, spit it out.  

        Is this "series" really intended to be about getting more Democrats to vote for better Democrats?

        Or is it more about trying to convince people that the party is absolutely non-viable, irrevocably corrupt, and thus should be abandoned, for...what?

        This particular Diary about Venezuela is a good one...but that's because this Diarist brings some very useful and specific positive examples of material alternative perspectives, rather than merely gratuitously slagging Democrats, like some evil twin doppelganger mirror image of Faux "News".

        From some comments here, though, I think the "agenda" of the proposed "series"  is more suspect...perhaps intended as more of a troll venue for those who have no interest whatsoever in the Democratic Party, except to try to suppress likely Democratic voter turnout with cynical defeatism and demoralization.

        Principled criticism requires material analysis, and proposals for material action...rather than, say, demanding impossible instant gratification from a transitional process that likely will take at least several election cycles, and ultimately, generations.

        My agenda, is not hidden, lol, but I'm not so sure about yours.

        "...a printing press is worth 10,000 rifles..." Ho Chi Minh

        by Radical def on Mon Aug 23, 2010 at 12:32:21 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I guess you'd be sending us off to the camps. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Cassiodorus

          From some comments here, though, I think the "agenda" of the proposed "series"  is more suspect...perhaps intended as more of a troll venue for those who have no interest whatsoever in the Democratic Party, except to try to suppress likely Democratic voter turnout with cynical defeatism and demoralization.

          Your totalitarian agenda is of a different spirit.

          Capitalism is the extraordinary belief that the nastiest of men, for the nastiest of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all. - JM Keynes

          by goinsouth on Mon Aug 23, 2010 at 04:47:30 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Disingenuous hyperbole seems to confirm... (0+ / 0-)

            ...what's really totalitarian is your own unprincipled elitist arrogance, to deliberately violate the TOS, to come in here just to troll the venue.

            A different "spirit"?  Yes, I think so.

            You seem all too similar to right wing trolls, who demand their "right" to be "free" to spew lies, hatred and bile.  

            If the shoe fits, you are welcome to wear it, or to try to throw it at me, lol.

            However, your complete evasion of my valid, objective complaints about your approach, resorting instead to ad hominem jive and assertions of a supposed  "right" to be "free" to troll the site, seem to confirm my suspicion that you and your cohort are mainly unprincipled weasels, and thus ultimately more likely to be counter-revolutionary traitors, than the viable revolutionary leadership you seek to posture and pose yourselves as.

            I don't need any "education" or "leadership" from shit heads with no principles, and neither do most people on dkos, or in this country.

            We have REJECTED "left" electoral boycott and splitting lines, as well as the right wing line, and chosen instead to seize the power democratically, electorally, via the Democratic Party.

            Get over it, and get on the bus...or get the fuck out.  

            We are moving on, with or without you.

            "...a printing press is worth 10,000 rifles..." Ho Chi Minh

            by Radical def on Mon Aug 23, 2010 at 01:49:10 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  for clarification, and example... (0+ / 0-)

        Try taking a look at this document, which lays out some concrete, material proposals on how we might move forward, in action, rather than merely presenting a rhetorical laundry list of the many evils of capitalism:

        The Beijing Declaration

        Indeed, this would make a great Diary, should somebody wish to pursue that...

        You seem to self-identify as anarchist.  Care to define that?

        Does that mean chaos, to you?  Like, no government whatsoever?  If that's the case, then presumably you see no role for the Democratic Party, except as an agent for perpetuating capitalism...to cite the most common tendency.

        if so, then to post here, merely to slag Democrats, would make you a freakin' troll.

        I think anarchy simply means communism, which is to say, actual real democracy.  It's not about chaos, or "freedom" to run amok, especially against the democratically determined public interest.

        Like, Death to Fascism!

        From my perspective, anarchy proposes the theory that we are ready for democracy now, rather than subscribing to a theoretical "Communist" necessity for an interim period of "Socialism", under a centralized elite dictatorship to "prepare" the masses for democracy, some day, maybe, such that the state can THEN "wither away".

        I say the best way to "wither away" the "state" (an externally imposed capitalist dictatorship), is to seize the power democratically, electorally, and to then proceed to tailor that state to serve the people, rather than capitalism...to transform it from an oppressive "state" into a rational popular democratic apparatus for objectively managing the production and distribution of goods and services in the public interest, democratically.

        What do you say?

        "...a printing press is worth 10,000 rifles..." Ho Chi Minh

        by Radical def on Mon Aug 23, 2010 at 01:22:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You say I'm a troll while you're the one... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Cassiodorus

          advocating this:

          The right will never submit to the popular democratic will voluntarily.

          The time may well come to fully deploy FISA and the Patriot Act, bring the black helicopters and throw open the FEMA camps.

          I gave you a chance to back out of this evil and totalitarian proposal.  You're not saying that violence might erupt as a matter of self-defense.  You're saying that if you ever seized power, you would eliminate opposition by means of the most horrific forms of repression.  This is how you would use the Democratic Party.

          And you say I'm the troll.

          Capitalism is the extraordinary belief that the nastiest of men, for the nastiest of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all. - JM Keynes

          by goinsouth on Mon Aug 23, 2010 at 04:55:14 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  What I said was... (0+ / 0-)

            ...those who would resist the popular democratic will militarily, should be suppressed, and absolutely crushed, militarily.

            You got a problem with that, really?

            You failed to respond to my question, as to whether you would have us just surrender to Joel's Army, say, and Aryan Nations, if and when they rise up?  

            Or, does your knee-jerk reaction to such a concept really mean that your own actual objective is to rise up, militarily, to overthrow capitalism, whether the people of the nation want that, or not?

            I've got news for you...the masses have REJECTED such calls, and have chosen instead to seize the power democratically, electorally.

            I notice you make no effort to actually refute my assertion that you are only here to troll the site, and that you have no interest whatsoever in electing more better Democrats, but rather seek instead to suppress likely Democratic voter turnout with a lot of cynical defeatism and demoralization.

            I'm not proposing that you should be dragged out into the street and shot, out of hand, based on my "suspicions", lol.  

            However, those who deliberately, consistently, in a hostile and insulting manner, insist on violating the TOS, should probably be banned, don't you think?  Virtual death, lol...but well deserved, don't you think?

            Or do you just think that you are sooo right, that you can just say "Fuck the TOS, I'll do whatever the fuck I want, and fuck you!"  And in that case, who is the elitist totalitarian?

            State your real reasons for being here, if you dare, why don't you...specific to the issue of electing more better Democrats?

            Perhaps even try to explain to us how you think that merely, ONLY relentlessly and indiscriminately slagging Obama and the Democrats, especially with a lot of unprincipled, subjective, opportunist hyperbole, is going to "help" in any way, except in the negative, to help the right to convince people to just give up and not vote.

            And if that's what you really do want, to suppress likely Democratic voter turnout, then at least say why...and then we can deal with that.

            C'mon, spit it out!  Are you an unprincipled, lying weasel, or not?  

            "...a printing press is worth 10,000 rifles..." Ho Chi Minh

            by Radical def on Mon Aug 23, 2010 at 02:22:40 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

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