Democratic Left

NSA's Political and Economic Crisis

by Daniel Adkins

Most discussion on the National Security Agency (NSA) concerns its appetite for electronic records and its conflict with the 4th Amendment: the part of the Bill of Rights that prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and requires any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause.  Although some NSA searches are covered by warrants, other efforts just scoop up data streams worldwide. NSA_copy.gif

NSA is a highly hierarchal and secretive agency.  Signals intelligence has been among the most closely guarded of secrets. The breaking of the German and Japanese codes during World War II resulted in important victories.  NSA culture treats opponents such as al Qaeda and Iran as existential enemies like Japan and Germany.  Yet the nature of the current conflict is more complicated than World War II or the Cold War.  

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Step Up and Speak Truth to Power: John Nichols Speaking at the 2013 DSA National Convention

“A. Phillip Randolph was a socialist. Bayard Rustin was a social democrat. Others who were involved [in the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom] had been socialists or social democrats or radicals or progressives from different groupings, and the fact of the matter is John Kennedy and even Lyndon Johnson accepted them into the White House and said “You’ve got ideas.” . . . Ideas of economic and social justice were once invited into our political discourse. Now, at every turn, they are pushed out. And when a crisis occurs, the social democratic proposal to repair it is the first one taken off the table. . .

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Beyond Capitalism: YDS Winter Conference

Join us at our youth section’s annual winter conference Friday, February 14th through Sunday, February 16th in NYC for a weekend filled with hanging out with other young socialists, workshops on politics and major social issues, and training on how to succeed as a student activist.

Seize this last chance to register at our discount rate. The early registration deadline for the conference is this Thursday, February 6th! 

So don't delay, register here!

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A Historical Perspective on Occupy Wall Street

by Neal Meyer

For In These Times' December 2013 cover feature, “Generation Hopeless?”, the magazine asked a number of politically savvy people, younger and older, to respond to an essay by 22-year-old Occupy activist Matthew Richards in which he grapples with what the movement meant and whether Occupy’s unfulfilled promises are a lost cause or the seeds of the different world whose promise he glimpsed two years ago. Here is Neal Meyer's response:

Matthew Richards ends his essay on Occupy Wall Street on a disturbing note. He writes, “Now that I’ve already done my best to fix the world and it didn’t work, I’m at peace with the fact that it is no longer my job.” Richards was 19 when Occupy started. After two years of organizing he has already burned out.

But Richards’ sense of defeat is understandable once we recognize that he gets his history wrong and that his perspective on Occupy’s potential is off.


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State of the Union: Business as Usual, Racial Disparities Ignored

By Lawrence Ware

In this year’s State of the Union address, President Obama articulated his desire for 2014 to be a “year of action.”  Much of what he said was heartening. For example, he spoke passionately about the need for America to move past a “Mad Men” approach to economics and gender:

Women make up about half our workforce, but they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it's an embarrassment. Women deserve equal pay for equal work.

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A(nother) Missed Opportunity – Obama’s 2014 State of the Union Address

By Bill Barclay


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Thanks, Pete

By Barbara Joye


Like many of you, I woke up this morning to the news of Pete Seeger’s death. As I read the many reviews of his life’s accomplishments and controversies that followed, I struggled to temper my sadness with thankfulness that I had been able to hear him in person a few times -- at my progressive high school during his blacklisted years; headlining a benefit for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (where he introduced a then unknown Phil Ochs); at the Highlander Center in Tennessee; and, just two years ago, co-hosting, with Harry Belafonte, a benefit for the American Indian political prisoner Leonard Peltier.

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Why Obama and Big Business Want Fast Track Trade Legislation

And Why We Fight Against It

TPP.jpegby Paul Garver and Simone Morgan 

The corporate business elite, the Obama administration and the neoliberal wings of both the Democratic and Republican parties have thrown down the gauntlet. The Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act of 2014, introduced by House Ways and Means Chairman David Camp (R), and by Senators Baucus (D) and Hatch (R), would reinstate Trade Promotion Authority (TPA, aka Fast Track) that was last enacted in 2002 and lapsed in 2007.  TPA allows rapid votes on “ trade agreements” (which consist mainly of non-trade items on the corporate wish list), limiting Congress to merely casting an up-or-down vote on legislation implementing the terms of a completed and signed negotiated agreement.

 For major corporate lobbying organizations like the Business Roundtable, renewing Trade Promotion Authority is the crucial step in facilitating the completion of three major items on the corporate agenda: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and a global Trade in Services Agreement. 


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