Saturday, October 31, 2015

The First Red Scare

“Struggle & Progress – Celebrating the 150th Anniversary of Union Victory and Emancipation,” Jacobin, Issue 18, Summer 2015. 

The Civil War is still going on, in both an ethnic and a class sense.  That is why the anniversary of the bloodiest conflict in U.S. history is worth understanding and not forgetting.  It is still going on in the sense that the South still acts as a reactionary political drag on the rest of the country.  It is the homeland of some of the most reactionary sections of the capitalist class – in defense; in oil; in coal; in retail; in construction.  These people are the spawn of the landed planter aristocracy that was expropriated at the end of the Civil War.  It is still going on in the sense that minorities and immigrants are still persona non grata in that region in a more intense way than elsewhere - though institutional racism elsewhere is no slouch.  

Black soldiers in the Civil War
Conditions in the South for black and Latino peoples are below most other parts of the country – in healthcare, education, wages and working conditions, government services, policing and ‘justice’ issues.’  It is still going on in the sense that even white workers in the South are also spat upon – suffering in less degree the same conditions as black and immigrant workers.  They take on a servility to the new southern capitalist aristocracy in exchange for their ‘higher’ standing vis a vis minorities, but this only prolongs their own oppression.  The official southern State antagonism to unionism is just one example. It is still going on in the sense that the same Southern bible-thumpers that justified chattel slavery now justify wage slavery and adoration of the market.

What is clear is that constant talk that ignores class in favor of only ‘race’ discussions avoids the centrality of economic roles in the nation and especially in the South.  Ethnicity is many times a dimension of class; it stamps those with different skin colors or languages as fit for certain jobs, certain wages and certain treatment, in spite of the ‘talented tenth.’  The constant liberal prattling about ‘diversity’ alone hides the economic component and imperative of profiteering  that underlies racism.   If ‘race’ is merely a political category, then why does it endure?  Just that people are ‘stupid’ or ‘mean?’  After all, the much heralded ‘Second Reconstruction’ during the 1960s has also failed to bring equality to the black strata of the working class even now.  

Anarchists and other ultra-leftists believe that the Civil War changed nothing.  Jacobin begs to differ. They, like many Marxists before them, consider it to be a ‘2nd American Revolution’ which destroyed chattel slavery uncompensated.  Jacobin interviews Eric Foner, son of the famous left historian Phil Foner, who first gave this real understanding to Reconstruction.  Here Eric Foner carefully shows how the northern Republican capitalists under Johnson refused to alleviate the debts of southern small farmers and working men, which helped turn them away from Reconstruction.  The northern Republicans also instituted land taxes on small holdings for the first time, which increased the financial burden on poorer whites.  Foner says that the Abolitionist movement was small, and only increased in power as its views became confirmed by events.  Yet it ignored the plight of working men in the North, such as Irish textile workers, so he considers its leaders to be mainly moralists. 

Foner points out that ‘love’ is not the basis for a real politics, as you do not need to love people to work with them, you only need to have similar goals.  Foner has a ‘Let a 100 Flowers Bloom” approach to class struggle, but then points out that the myriad political groups and causes fractionate the left in the U.S.  He points to the role of the Socialist Party in the early part of the 20th century that acted as a ‘big tent’ for every force – suffragettes, labor agitators, anti-war activists, anti-lynching partisans and socialists of every stripe.  Nothing like it exists today, and in my opinion, that is the reason the left is so weak. 

This discussion leads into Jacobin’s main point about the war, expanded on in several articles – that the Southern planter elite saw the anti-slavery movement as part of wedge to bring broader progressive changes that they understood as a ‘socialism’ of some type.  Jacobin calls it “America’s First Red Scare.”  Abolitionists or Republicans or free blacks were called ‘red Republicans,’ labor anarchists, Communards, even ‘communists’ by more astute Confederate polemicists.  Their point was that first you get rid of slavery – pretty soon you are going to have unions and labor strife!  They thought that slavery would keep blacks and whites separate – and hence easier to rule.  The anti-slavery role of socialist and labor radicals who had emigrated after the failed 1848 revolutions in Europe confirmed this.  German socialists chased pro-slavers out of St. Louis.  German socialists in east Texas kept that area loyal to the North.  Marx himself supported the Northern side in the war.  Later the black vote in the South allowed the Populist movement to challenge southern businessmen and landed gentry.  This was intolterable to the KKK and the White Leagues.

Two articles talk about the agency of black slaves in the struggle for their own freedom – 200,000 black soldiers who joined the Union army, participating in 450 military engagements, providing 120 infantry regiments, 22 light and heavy artillery regiments and 7 cavalry regiments.   At Petersburg, 1 in every 8 soldiers besieging Richmond was black.  Or black women who organized for the right to marry their husbands in the army, which sounds trivial until you understand that slaves were forbidden to be married.  Jacobin also has articles in this issue on why there are so many pro-Confederate films about the Civil war and also one about Populist labor struggles in the South after the civil war that united blacks and whites. 

Adolph Reed corrects the black-nationalist myth that slavery was solely destroyed by black people themselves through a look at film.  This argument seems false on the face of it based on the numerous facts of the Civil war and Reed calls it the ‘James Brown’ theory of black liberation.  I.E. it is just up to individual black action, as expressed in fantasies like “Django Unchained.”  In the process Reed deconstructs various films that deal with the Civil War, like ‘Glory,’ ‘Lincoln,’ ‘Cry Freedom,’  ‘Mississippi Burning,’ ‘Driving Ms. Daisy’ and ‘The Help.’  Reed is tough on ‘psychobabble’ and multiculturalism.  Ultimately the Civil War was a joint white and black military project to end slavery and that cannot be ignored.  Reed was a supporter of the Labor Party in the 1990s.  

Another author, Kenneth Warren, takes black elites to task for only focusing on ‘race relations’ rather than inter-ethnic worker alliances as the best way to overcome institutional racism.  Ultimately at the time Booker T Washington became the standard bearer of integrating black labor into capital.  He also criticizes Michelle Alexander, writer of “The New Jim Crow,” for partially following a goal of ‘improving race relations’ instead of a broader social justice approach.  Warren makes the point that it was only after Populism was defeated that Jim Crow could rule unhindered in the South, as Populism motivated both black and white workers and sharecroppers in the South to oppose the southern oligarchy.  

The only real missing piece of information in this issue of Jacobin is how many white southerners actually opposed the war or supported the union.  This alone was a significant political fact which underscored the failure of Confederate ‘nationalism’ and provided a ready base for the subsequent Readjuster and Populist movements after the war.  

Jacobin ends with a look at how Reconstruction was killed by Southern violence and Northern hostility, starting with President Andrew Johnson – reflecting the renewed economic links between the southern capitalists and landowners and the northern bourgeoisie.  There was no widespread “Homestead Act” in the south and plantation properties seized by former slaves were returned to their original owners.  So most black people were deprived of land and ultimately after 30 years (and perhaps consequently) the vote.  This article points out that the myth of the lazy ‘welfare queen’ originated during Reconstruction as a weapon by southern racists to take back the South.  In 1875 the U.S. Supreme court even ruled that citizenship did not guarantee the right to vote.  By the turn of the century, Jim Crow was fully in control and black people had for the most part lost any power in the South.  Both black people and ‘socialism’ had been stopped.  

What is significant in all this is that the struggle against any form of ‘socialism’ in the U.S. has been going on far longer than the cold war that ended in 1989, the Red Scare of the 1950s, or the Palmer raids of 1919.  It is a target not connected to any nation, like China or the USSR, but ultimately aimed at the American and world labor movement.

And I bought it at Mayday Books’ excellent magazine and newspaper section.
(“The New Jim Crow,” and books that challenge the myths of Confederate nationalism, reviewed below.)
Red Frog
October 31, 2015

Monday, October 12, 2015

“Collateral Consequences”

"The Divide – American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap,” by Matt Taibbi, 2015

Taibbi is an easy-to-digest writer that zeroes in on one of the big problems of class society – the justice system for the rich and Wall Street, and the justice system for the various layers of the working class.   Unlike Gleen Greenwald, who wrote a similar book to this, he is not so arid and rationalistic, but instead takes you inside the lives of a number of people who have been victims of rich-class justice – a small Chinese community bank; a black man from the Bronx; a white homeless stoner in New York; ‘illegals’ in Gainesville, Georgia; the immigrant owner of Canadian insurance company; a Latino family on welfare in LA; a female whistle-blower at Chase. 

Goofy Cover of Lady Justice
Taibbi’s no leftist, just an enraged liberal.  He makes some excuses for the justice and capital system, focusing only on financial corporate crime and no other.  Yet what he pictures as a good journalist, in spite of his politics, is a corporate system rife with criminal firms and practices like rigging LIBOR.  Chase Bank, HBSC, BofA, Countrywide, Enron, AIG, Wells Fargo, Arthur Andersen, Goldman Sachs, Citgroup and many hedge funds all engage in criminal behavior on a regular basis.  It is the price of doing business.  He especially looks at the 2008 crisis, which he calls ‘the biggest white-collar crime wave in history.”  In 2008, he says that ‘Every major financial company had chosen to participate in this enormous fraud.”  He calls the forced sale of Lehman, “the biggest bank robbery in history” and shows you why. 

Taibbi, like many others, points out that no one has gone to jail, corporations (i.e. shareholders) just paid fines and signed non-prosecution ‘agreements,’ which are the new form of government deregulation.  But he goes further.  Intimately related to this lax environment for corporate crime is an absolutely lock-tight system aimed at ordinary people.  This encompasses New York’s stop and frisk / ‘broken windows’ policy; the mass incarceration state; the drug war; the war on immigrants; private prison systems; out-of-control police violence (although he does not talk about police shootings…); excessive fines; the deportation extravaganza; the development of civil debtor’s prisons; intrusive welfare inspections; excessive criminal prosecutions of welfare recipients; even those traffic tickets that are showered on the population like confetti.  All of it is connected, unlike what the politics of so many single-issue organizations would suggest. You cannot defeat these issues in isolation. 

So who are the villains, besides the gallery of well-known corporate criminals like John Mack, Jamie Dimon, Anthony Mozillo or Lloyd Blankfein that liberals so love to hate?  Taibbi instead focuses on Eric Holder, Bill Clinton, Lanny Breur, Mary Jo White (now head of FINRA), Barack Obama, Tim Geithner and the corporate-defense law firm of Covington and Burling, where both Holder and Breur worked before government.  Odd that the list is made up of Democrats, but they were the ones in charge of the aftermath of the 2008 crash.  After all, under both Bushes more financial crimes were prosecuted, especially in the big round-up around the S&L crisis in the 1980s.  Capital has a tag-team method of political control and the Democrats happened to inherit the mess when it was their turn.  So what happened to institute the rules of neo-liberalism? 

Taibbi starts with Holder’s 1999 ‘collateral consequences’ memo, written while he was first at the DOJ.  The memo was once intended to be ‘tough on banks,’ but later surfaced to provide a reason not to disrupt companies or ‘the markets’ by leaving executives and companies alone.  It became the legal rationale for doing nothing except collecting fines from corporations that could well-afford to pay them.  Lanny Breur carried out this policy in the fines levied on many banks, like HSBC, which laundered money for terrorists and drug cartels. Essentially 'crime' disappeared if committed by corporate figures and they became civil matters.  Not so for the population at large. 

Next up is Bill Clinton, who destroyed ‘welfare as we know it’ and turned it into a punitive and abusive paper-trap for the poor, instituting no-knock searches of welfare recipient’s homes.  Or Obama, the king of deportations, who broke Bush’s record, and while attempting to mitigate some tactics, hasn’t changed a thing. Then there is Mary Jo White, who was head of the SEC at the time and basically decided to go after ‘small companies’ or issues only.  This was conscious policy.  You can still see this in their and FINRA’s investigations of small fry.  Or padding their quota numbers with empty ‘paper’ investigations of bankrupt foreign companies that collapsed and did not file Edgar / SEC paperwork.

Taibbi instead contrasts this process with depictions of the life of a homeless stoner, who is thrown in jail for 3 months in vicious Riker’s Island prison for a half a joint, while drug money launderers at banks go free.  Or a black man who stands in front of his apartment at 2 AM at night with a friend and is arrested by quota-filling NY cops for ‘blocking the sidewalk’ to non-existent walkers.  Those same arrests are not happening on the Upper East Side of New York.  Or the story of a small bank in Chinatown which was the only bank to be brought up on ‘mortgage fraud’ criminal charges, called by some the “Lee Harvey Oswald” of the banking crisis.  Or the lives of persecuted immigrants in Gainesville who are arrested for bullshit traffic issues and are deported into the private prison system and into the dangers of Mexico and reentry into the U.S.  Yet all the while Georgia businesses want them back. Taibbi’s descriptions of the difficulties of trying to apply for and collect welfare in LA, where you voluntarily put a target on your back for a tiny bit of money, are brutal.  Yet other corporations or people that get loans or grants from the government are not so treated.  A whistle-blower at Chase loses her job after naively pointing out illegal practices like robo-signing and no-document loans as the basis for securitized products.  Yet the Chase executives who OK this practice go free, even though they have committed tens of thousands of frauds re foreclosures.  And lastly, an insurance executive unjustly targeted by short-sellers at hedge funds who nearly loses his business, while the hedge funders walk free. 

Taibbi usefully answers all the arguments of the government types who defend these practices.  Ultimately non-prosecution and ‘too big to jail’ guarantees another corporate crime wave.  It’s not just ‘two Americas.”  It’s one America, with one slice of it living off the backs of the rest.   

Taibbi’s “Griftopia,” Greenwald’s, “With Liberty & Justice for Some,” and Lewis’ “The Big Short,” all reviewed below.  Use blog search box, upper left.

And I bought it at Mayday’s cutout rack
Red Frog
October 12, 2015

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Meritless Meritocracy

"Divergent – Insurgent,” 2015, directed by somebody…

This is a dumb-ass dystopian movie with a dreadful lead heroine who could put a zombie to sleep.  It’s number two or three in a series knock-off of “The Hunger Games,” where the female ‘action’ protagonist Tris is no Jennifer Lawrence.  It features idiotic CGI, the vague personalities of B-movie actors and an implausible plot written by another ‘Young Adult’ novelist, Veronica Roth.  Poor Kate Winslet plays the cold aspiring dictator Jeanine.  Yet there is something to behold here.  Yes there is.

Dystopian films always reflect on our own myopia, our ‘utopia’, the civilized craptopia of the present.  This movie’s society is structured by emotional ‘factions’ – Erudite (intelligence); Abnegation (sacrifice); Amity (peace and non-violence); Dauntless (bravery); and Candor (honesty).  Tris is a member of Dauntless, but she finds out in the first film that she – along with others – are ‘divergent’ from the factions, sharing capacities with other groups.  Divergence like this is seen as bad by this society led by Erudite and the divergents have to hide.  Being different!  Bad!  Erudite ultimately is trying to control everything and kills many members of Candor in the battle that develops against the divergents.
 
Cheesey Map of Chicago  in Future
The film takes place in a partially-ruined city like Chicago, with some woods and fields, all surrounded by a giant white wall.  The joint factional counsel recommends no one go beyond the wall, as it is ‘dangerous’ beyond it.  This wall is reminiscent of the “The Maze Runner.”  It is either a real or a metaphorical wall – perhaps the border of the U.S., our shoreline, perhaps the fear of the ‘other’ or the unknown or foreigners. Perhaps it is the ‘jail’ that life can become.

In the peni-ultimate scene, the rebel divergent Tris passes 5 gruesome tests to prove she has all the factional characteristics  of each group.  This opens a ‘box’ which announces that the whole thing was an experiment.  The experiment was meant to prove that ‘divergence’ is exactly what is to be desired – to transcend faction, to have as many ‘characteristics’ as possible.  The people who constructed the test live beyond the wall and then invite the lab rats out.  Oh happy day.

Let’s look at this idea of ‘factions.’  The faction that attempts dictatorship is Erudite – the ‘intelligent.’  Now we know that the ruling elite in the U.S. considers themselves smarter than everyone else – otherwise why are they in control and have all the money?  It is called Social Darwinism, the ‘meritocracy,’ the cream rising to the top – or perhaps the scum.   You might even know people who believe this.  “Intelligence’ in this scenario is supposedly reduced to a grasp of abstract ideas and ‘success.’  Yet as research by Howard Gardner has shown, there are many kinds of intelligence – emotional, social, mechanical, physical, artistic – that don’t fit the standard bourgeois definition.  Some of these forms of intelligence cannot always be monetized.  This film backs that up.  Here is Gardner’s original chart, which I don’t think is complete or extensive enough even now.  He’s even added another category from his original 7:

Intelligence
Examples
Discussion
Bodily-kinesthetic
Dancers, athletes, surgeons, crafts people
The ability to use one's physical body well.
Interpersonal
Sales people, teachers, clinicians, politicians, religious leaders
The ability to sense other's feelings and be in tune with others.
Intrapersonal
People who have good insight into themselves and make effective use of their other intelligences
Self-awareness. The ability to know your own body and mind.
Linguistic
Poets, writers, orators, communicators
The ability to communicate well, perhaps both orally and in writing, perhaps in several languages.
Logical-mathematical
Mathematicians, logicians
The ability to learn higher mathematics. The ability to handle complex logical arguments.
Musical
Musicians, composers
The ability to learn, perform, and compose music.
Naturalistic
Biologists, naturalists
The ability to understand different species, recognize patterns in nature, classify natural objects.
Spatial
Sailors navigating without modern navigational aids, surgeons, sculptors, painters
The ability to know where you are relative to fixed locations. The ability to accomplish tasks requiring three-dimensional visualization and placement of your hands or other parts of your body.

As you can see, many so-called intelligent people in the present definition don’t actually have the full range of possibilities.  The ‘idiot’ savant, the autistic genius, the socially awkward mathematician, the professor who can’t use a screwdriver come to mind as extreme examples.  In a way, this movie undermines the traditional belief in a narrow form of ‘intelligence’ as the fount of all wisdom.

In the process of the rebellion, Tris and her cohort come upon “Factionless,” a rough and hidden group led by a woman, Evelyn, who wants to unite with them to kill Jeanine.  Factionless are the outcasts, the homeless.  What is interesting is that even though the divergents share characteristics, they also are stamped by their prior factional membership.  Some even return to the fold.  So they mistrust the factionless, who have no pedigree at all.  One quote in particular has a subtext, as Tris’ partner Tobias warns Tris that Factionless wants to overthrow Erudite, but won’t say what comes next – hinting that they want a dictatorship too.  Factionless is the most revolutionary of the groups and the most outside the system.  Yet where did they come from? This dig at them, which will probably be continued in another film, is subtle ‘red-baiting’ and ‘poor baiting’ to my mind.

The rebellion succeeds when Factionless works with the divergents to flood Erudite’s headquarters with fighters.  The film ends with the leader of Factionless, Evelyn, putting a bullet through Jeanine’s head. I think we are supposed to be angered by Evelyn doing this.  Yet Jeanine was not going to abide by any directions to abandon the faction system, and Evelyn knew it.  Not to mention the fact that Jeanine had just killed or tortured a bunch of people. The last scenes are of the former ‘factions’ walking to meet the people outside the wall who stuck them in this ruined city as an 'experiment.' 

These factions are pale reflections of aspects of our class and ethnically stratified society, absent the economics, as no one works in this world, nor is there any apparent source of food or energy.  There is no proletarian faction, though Factionless comes closest and Amity next.  Amity is a group of mellow rural hippies living around a large Geodesic dome, raising crops by hand and horse.  They actually are the only people seen working at all.  Dauntless is a Spartan military strata that does the will of Erudite. Sound familiar? Candor is the middle class strata, led by an Asian with a judicial robe.  Abgenation must be people who work for non-profits, staff churches or do volunteer work – sensitive souls out of their league.

The use of the word 'factions' might strike Marxists as familiar. Why that word?  There are so many factions of the modern leftist movement that any message that they transcend their differences must seem really utopian.  Marxists have been accused of 'utopianism' before, so they we might want to reflect on that and perhaps see that that 'transcendence' is the way out.

So the message is that psychological – and by implication social factions - can be transcended.  Given this film is directed mostly at young people, is there some kind of social message here that goes beyond high-school cliquism?  Or is it just the rank idealism that they sell young people, only to tell them later when they get their corporate jobs that that is all bullshit.  And its just time to make money.

Reviews of all 3 ‘Hunger Games’ films, below.  Also a review of “The Maze Runner,” below.

Red Frog
October 6, 2015 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

‘The Ruling and the Ruled’

"CitizenFour,” a documentary by Laura Poitras, 2014

This documentary revisits the high-profile events surrounding Edward Snowden’s revelations about U.S. government spying through the NSA.  It is ultimately a human portrait of people doing the very right thing under high pressure.  The documentary has got some great ‘gotcha’ moments, as if Poitras studied the Michael Moore method.  Snowden says at one point that this secret program shows there is a ‘ruling and the ruled.’  It is very clear from the evidence and from the conversations in this film that the surveillance piece of a U.S. totalitarian police state is in place and already being activated. 

The Blue Screen of ... Code
The film opens with computer code and typing on a black screen as if MS DOS were still in use. It is Snowden initially attempting to reach Poitras.  These scenes are interspersed with appearances by NSA head Keith Alexander and DNI head James Clapper, who both lie to Congress about the NSA’s collection efforts.  Clapper in particular is the definitive picture of a liar, given his body language and fidgeting.  It is a great moment.  William Binney, an NSA whistle-blower, talks to a group about what happened after the terrorist attack on 9/11, saying the NSA decided a few days after 9/11 to ‘collect everything.’  The FBI showed up with ‘guns drawn’ at his house in 2007 after he protested warrantless eavesdropping.  They pointed them at him while he toweled off after a shower.  

The first setting is a bland hotel room in Hong Kong.  Snowden has asked for Poitras and Glenn Greenwald’s help, and they are both there in the room.  Snowden and Greenwald, the ace reporter for Salon, then the Guardian and now the Intercept, come off as quite similar personalities and click well.  Snowden is very smart and knowledgeable - an absolutely familiar and calm person.  At one point, Snowden hides under an anti-surveillance hood to mask his passwords from spy satellites or imaging.  At another, he gives sardonic ‘expert tips’ to Greenwald and Poitras about how to really do passwords and encryption.  He takes an e-mail from his girlfriend Lindsey at one point during that week, as she tells him NSA cops and NSA HR are now in his house (where she was living), and later, that ‘construction’ trucks are parked all around the neighborhood and on his street.  The hotel fire alarm starts ringing repeatedly during one session, and everyone gets nervous.  Even innocent phone calls from the Mira Hotel front desk are cause for concern.  Eventually the data is downloaded to Greenwald and another Guardian reporter and Snowden makes it clear that it is up to the journalists to decide what to publish.  

It is all filmed in real time, as it happened.  Poitras herself, even before these events, was constantly stopped by TSA in airports, showing that the ‘terrorist watch list’ is really also a dissident watch list.  Greenwald’s partner David Miranda is filmed after being detained in London’s Heathrow airport for possibly carrying data.  At that point, neither Poitras nor Greenwald wanted to risk entering the U.S.

Other scenes show Greenwald testifying before a Brazilian inquiry, speaking in Portuguese (this is not an untalented fellow) about the NSA revelations, making the point that the surveillance is not really aimed at terrorism alone, but are used for U.S. national and industrial espionage against other countries and corporations.  In another, Binney testifies in front of a German inquiry after revelations that the NSA tapped Merkel and also Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff’s phones, along with others, saying that the NSA is a ‘threat to democracy.’  Another scene shows the head of Lavabits, an encrypted internet provider used to Snowden, explaining to an EU meeting why he shut down the firm rather than comply with NSA demands to give them a back door to his encryption.  

The film shows the familiar details of the NSA program – gathering all meta-data from every person in the U.S. from Skype, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Verizon, Apple, AT&T, Century Link, etc.  All of this is warrantless, allowed by rubber-stamp secret courts run by friendly judges.  The collection of non-American information, or information between U.S. and foreign citizens communicating, does not even have to pass that ‘test.’  The British version of the NSA, GCHQ, collects the most in the world via their Tempora program, which is an all-encompassing ‘data’ collection program for text, pictures, video, voice - not just metadata.  British law has fewer privacy protections that U.S. law.

Snowden and Greenwald discus when to go public, after the inevitable question of ‘who’ leaked the info becomes important.  Snowden makes the point that he wants to make it clear by going public quickly that he is saying to the NSA “I am not afraid of you.”  However, given he makes this announcement in the 8 days he’s sitting in 2 hotel rooms in Hong Kong, this brings on immediate U.S. action.  Sure enough, the U.S. demands his extradition from Chinese Hong Kong.  Snowden goes into hiding immediately with the help of the UN Committee on Human Rights and Hong Kong human rights activists.  Then with the help of Wikileaks and Julian Assange, he is smuggled out of Hong Kong and ends up at the Moscow airport, where he later gets asylum.  

3 felonies hang over Snowden’s head.  The charges are based on the 1917 Espionage act, which was aimed at foreign spies, not whistleblowers or opponents of conscience.  Obama self-righteously says that Snowden ‘is not a patriot” and instead of going outside the system, suggests that Snowden should offer himself up to the gentle and generous arms of the U.S. justice system.   Luckily Snowden is not so na├»ve.  

At the end of the film is a pile of torn yellow notepaper on a table in Snowden’s Moscow apartment, where he is now living with Lindsey. Poitras and Greenwald are again there.  Afraid to talk out loud, Greenwald informs Snowden via these notes that a new informant has told him that 1.5 million people were added to the watch list since 2009, and there might now be up to 2 million people on it.   Even Snowden is stunned.

The ‘terrorist watch list’ is a misnomer.  It should be called the ‘citizen watch list.’

Greenwald's book "With Liberty & Justice for Some," reviewed below.  Assange's book, "Cypherpunks," reviewed below.  Use blog search box, upper left.

Red Frog
October 1, 2015