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Journal: Obamacare is Not a Single-Payer Conspiracy [Bloomberg] 4

Journal by damn_registrars
Even columnists at conservative news sources are coming to realize it. This is from the same woman who wrote that Vermont's single payer aspirations would be terrible for taxpayers.

If Obamacare's insurance reforms break the market, that calculus still won't change: Most people will still have insurance they like, and they will not be willing to give it up in order to solve problems in the individual market -- which now covers about 5 percent of the population and is expected to ultimately cover something over that. Even if the individual market functionally disappears, most people will still be covered, and most politicians will be unwilling to endorse a program that takes away what they have. There is no path to single payer from even a spectacular Obamacare implosion -- for the same reason that there was no path to single payer before Obamacare was passed.

...

Ironically, single payer seems much more plausible if the system succeeds. One possible path along which the health-care law could develop is that more and more employers dump folks onto the exchanges, breaking the link between employment and insurance for millions of Americans. If that happens but other problems remain -- such as rising premiums -- then you can imagine a series of reforms that ultimately leads to single payer, probably starting with a public option. Employers would probably still provide supplemental health insurance as a benefit, the way some do in the U.K., but it would be a relatively cheap add-on, not a huge portion of your compensation package.

So dash your hopes and allay your fears. An Obamacare failure would be bad in many ways, and it would mean significant changes for the insurance market. But we're not getting the National Health Service anytime soon.

User Journal

Journal: Lies, damned lies, and ... oh no, you're going there. 1

Journal by Daniel Dvorkin

[cranky rant warning]

"Lies, damned lies, and statistics." It's coming up again with depressing frequency, being used as an argument instead of a snide observation.

Okay, here's the thing. Can you lie with statistics? Sure. Statistics is a branch of mathematics*, and math is a language; you can lie in that language as easily as in any other. Does this mean all statistics are lies? No more than all statements in any language are lies--and if you believe that, you've gone so far down the rabbit hole of anti-intellectual mysticism that you'll probably never find your way out.

Meanwhile, in the real world, and in the ever-expanding torrent of data we have about that world, statistics as a discipline is pretty much the only hope we have of understanding anything. The low-hanging fruit has been picked. The equations we learn in Physics 101 are as valid as they ever were, but they're not nearly enough. No matter how certain you think you are, no matter how many times you repeat your experiment and get the same result, if you don't do the statistical tests you don't actually know whatever it is you think you know. And if you do the tests--well, you may still be wrong, but you can at least quantify your uncertainty. And you have to do that, because you can always be wrong.

None of this is meant to defend the misuse of statistics, any more than as a writer I'd defend the misuse of natural language. People can and do wilfully misinterpret statistics, or cherry-pick them, or just outright make them up, and those are bad things. Guess what? They do that with every other kind of statement too. At least half of statisticians' job is fact-checking, and it's a charge we gladly accept.

So the next time you're tempted to say "lies, damned lies, and statistics," or "figures don't lie but liars figure," or "correlation does not imply causation" or any of its variants, or post the umpteen-thousandth link to "How To Lie With Statistics," and think you're being clever--please, just stop. Because one thing I am so sure of that I don't even need to put a p-value on it is that if you feel the need to resort to any of those lazy, thought-free responses, you don't know enough about the issue at hand to have an informed opinion, and the best thing you can possibly do for yourself and everyone else is to keep quiet.

*Opinions vary on this issue, but if statistics isn't exactly a branch of mathematics, we can at least say that math is the language in which it's written.

Republicans

Journal: The clock is ticking loudly now... 3

Journal by damn_registrars
Conservatives are desperately grasping at a mountain of straws hoping to find one that can break Obama's back. So far they clearly have less traction than a Yugo in Crisco, but they keep trying anyways. They are not afraid to try to manufacture a controversy if it will bring them more air time, either.

However, I will point out something else they should be paying attention to at this stage. They want the POTUS out no matter the cost, but the clock is not in their favor. We are down to about 31 months to the 2016 election (where of course Obama cannot run, conspiracy theories be damned).

The last time a POTUS was forced out was of course Watergate. If we look at the timeline on that, we see that the investigation on that started February 1973. Nixon resigned the following August; roughly 18 months later.

If the government of today is so bloated and overgrown (from the standard conservative mantra) then there is no reason to expect that an investigation could bring about a resignation in less time than it did in 1972-1973. If it even took twice as long, then the clock has already ran out for the conservative dream scenario of forcing Obama out.

Not that they would let reality get in the way, though. And obviously budgets are not important when there is a president waiting to get thrown out of the white house, right?
It's funny.  Laugh.

Journal: Sometimes, I don't even need to set a trap... 8

Journal by damn_registrars
... because sometimes, they'll walk into a situation that makes them look stupid on their own.

I encourage all to dive in and see just how stupid a conservative can make himself look in one discussion. I wasn't even planning to reply to his comment, but I was the 4th word of it so I figured I'd at least try to familiarize him with the situation. From there, hilarity ensues as:

he uses no facts, whatsoever, to try to make a grand statement (strike one!)

I point out that he did that, and clarify the matter so he can take another swing at it

He then attempts to make one fact, but completely misses the point because he's too angry to read(strike two!)

I then use his actual words to show that he's a liar (strike three!)

He then tries to play fast and loose with the English Language to avoid having to admit to being wrong (already past strike three, but still swinging!)

I point out that he just fell on his face again (really, go back to the dugout!)

He then returns to the usual MO of just accusing anyone who disagrees with him of "lying" (can you strike out twice if you refuse to leave after strike three and miss three more times?)

For bonus points, feel free to go back and count the number of times that he was reduced to slinging silly insults at me, rather than actually dealing with the matter at hand. Extra thanks to smitty for this one. I don't think he intended to make pudge look like a buffoon (not that it's hard) but he ended up dong it nonetheless. Perhaps this is why pudge doesn't come around here very often any more?
User Journal

Journal: REPOST: Brandon Eich 20

Journal by squiggleslash

(One last edit. After constructive criticism of my style from JC I'm going to lead this with a quote from a part of a post I made previously that sums up why Eich was unsuitable to be CEO without all the "It's not about X", "Hate campaign", and other stuff that is totally right but makes it all TL;DR. Original post after the -----, you don't have to read it any more)

It's not about what you think, it's about how you treat other people and how you deal with being, quite legitimately, associated with a set of actions (whatever the motive) that many find offensive. We would not be here today had Eich not, two years ago, thought this was a good thing to write:

Second, the donation does not in itself constitute evidence of animosity. Those asserting this are not providing a reasoned argument, rather they are labeling dissenters to cast them out of polite society. To such assertions, I can only respond: no.

about people who might possibly think he has animosity about gays because he donated, twice, totalling $1,000, after it became obvious what the nature of the campaign was, to an organization that repeatedly ran TV ads claiming married homosexuals were a danger to children.

That was a particularly dumb thing to write. It's something most of us feel sometimes when we're under attack, but that's kinda why the job of CEO doesn't go to just about anyone. There are so many useful positions Eich could have gone to, why-oh-why did they make him CEO?

-----

(Just three additional notes: First, I've reposted this because the original was open to everyone, and it turned out the same illiterate idiots who've insisted that questioning Eich's handling of revelations of his donations to an active hate campaign is the same thing as wanting him fired for his opinion are now trolling my journal. So, regretfully, I'm deleting the old JE. Second: this was originally written before Eich resigned. Some minor updates since this was originally published: additional line about "what Slashdotters believe", and removal of comment about other Mozilla board members resigning as this appears to have been misrepresented by media. Finally: actually the situation is worse than described below. In the below I presumed Eich hadn't known exactly what he donated to, thinking it was a generic pro-Prop 8 campaign. It turns out Eich knew it was a hate campaign before he made his donations. This significantly changes the relevence of "Strike 2" below.)

Let's get a few things out of the way first.

There is no issue with Eich's private views, and to a certain extent even his opposition to "gay marriage", however backward and unreasonable such a position might be. It is not about whether he supported Prop 8, whether his name appeared on any petitions in favor of it, or whether he voted for it - again, however unreasonable and backward and pathetic such a position might be.

The problem is this.

I remember the pro-Prop 8 campaigns. Those campaigning for Prop 8 did not focus exclusively on a small set of arguments focussed entirely on some kind of practical, or even religious, argument in favor of Prop 8.

The campaigns themselves were, objectively, homophobic and bigoted. They smeared. They lied. Dog whistles about "protecting our children" (couched with plausable deniability type justifications along the lines of "If it doesn't pass, children will think gay marriages are normal" - uh, right..) were common, as one obvious example.

And Eich donated money to that.

And having basically co-funded a campaign whipping up hate against 5-10% of Mozilla's workforce, he's now in charge of them.

That's strike one.

Strike two is that he's never acknowledged that this was ever a problem. My reading, both of his 2012 "explanation" (which lacks any justifications, it's more a "Don't call me a bigot, you're a bigot" type piece of crap we usually hear from right wing nuts caught with their heads in white hoods) and his current "Let bygones by bygones, of course I'll be nice to the gheys that's Mozilla policy!" comments) is that he's pointedly refused to distance himself from the campaigning he co-funded. No "I never had any problems with gay people and I was disappointed to see how the funds I donated were used", let alone support for groups combatting homophobia.

So... what happens next?

Firefox is Firefox. It's the world's best browser, albeit one that has suffered many knocks over the last few years both with its well documented issues with memory and reliability, and the user interface changes that continue to blur the line between it and its competitors. People aren't switching from Firefox to Chrome because they want Chrome for the most part, they're just switching because Firefox is becoming Chrome anyway, leaving no compelling reason to stick with it during the periods Firefox is especially unstable.

A political boycott of the browser is unfortunate and I'm not entirely sure it would be effective. At the same time, there's a feeling of powerlessness one has a result of this.

Moreover, there is an education problem within the community that's obvious from reading and engaging in the discussions on the subject. The same points come up over and over again:

- The equation of Eich's personal views with his public actions, as if all public actions have a shield if they're rooted somewhere in a personal view somewhere, no matter how slimy or despicable.
- The assumption that criticism of generic support for Prop. 8 is the same as criticism of specific campaigns for Prop. 8 that were objectively hate campaigns, with many refusing to believe any of the campaigns that were pro-Prop 8 contained hate propaganda.
- The failure to recognize that necessary and required qualifications for leadership include a requirement that mutual respect should exist between leader and lead.
- A failure to recognize the special role of a CEO within an organization
- An obsession with supporting those accused of homophobic actions because of some perceived disagreement with "Political Correctness", regardless of context.

I have a gut feeling that if Eich had donated $1,000 to a campaign calling for the re-enslavement of blacks, a campaign which used dog-whistles like "Welfare" et al, we'd still be having this conversation. Really. I do.

Eich is, objectively, not qualified for the Mozilla CEO job. I know some people say "Well, look at all his other qualities", and I'm sure they're right and great and all, but a blind man can know the rules of the road and the layout of New York City like the back of his hand but I still wouldn't want him driving a bus there. It is difficult to get good people some times, but you have to be patient. Good CEOs need to be good figureheads, they need to be respected inside and outside the organization. Eich isn't. Maybe one day he will be.

The Matrix

Journal: Chosen People == Master Race 8

Journal by Jeremiah Cornelius

"Greek-Melchite Archbishop Cyrille Bustros sparked an interreligious firestorm when he suggested that Israel was 'using Scripture' to continue its occupation of Palestinian territory. The Archbishop then questioned the biblical idea of a "promised land" set aside by a specific group of people.

"We Christians cannot speak of the promised land as an exclusive right for a privileged Jewish people," Bustros continued. "This promise was nullified by Christ. There is no longer a chosen people -- all men and women of all countries have become the chosen people.""

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3973590,00.html

User Journal

Journal: Brandon Eich knew he was funding a hate campaign. He did it anyway. 1

Journal by squiggleslash

I had sympathy for Eich, despite wanting him to exit the Mozilla CEO position. We're a community of people with no social graces and the idea that someone might end up having their career choices limited beause their lack of human interaction skills - or so I thought - seemed depressing and obvious. To recap, Eich's stone-age views on equality weren't what bothered me so much as his failure to adequately handle the consequences of $1,000 in donations to an actual hate campaign.

That evaporated today. Eich knew exactly what he had donated to before he made the donation. Here's the link. And here's the money quote:

This is the campaign to which Eich contributed. It's proper to note that his two donations of $500 each came on Oct. 25 and 28, days before the Nov. 4 vote and well after the style of the TV campaign was established.

Quoting Eich, defending himself in his "I'm not a bigot, you're a bigot, so there, I win" post of 2012: (My bolding)

Second, the donation does not in itself constitute evidence of animosity. Those asserting this are not providing a reasoned argument, rather they are labeling dissenters to cast them out of polite society. To such assertions, I can only respond: âoenoâ.

If deliberately, intentionally, funding a campaign that calls gays and gay marriage a danger to children isn't evidence of animosity against gays, what the hell is?

It had been my previous position that Eich had simply mishandled the situation. He'd obviously made some donations, but I'd assumed he was telling the truth in claiming there was no animosity or homophobia on his part. I reconciled the two by assuming he didn't know that the funds he donated would be used in the way they were. I criticized him for not distancing himself from the campaign he donated to after it became apparent it was a hate campaign, not simply a pro-Prop 8 campaign. I said this was evidence of poor judgement.

This appears to have been a mistake on my part. The truth appears to be uglier.

Star Wars Prequels

Journal: Meet the Americans Who Put Together the Coup in Kiev

Journal by Jeremiah Cornelius
Meet the Americans Who Put Together the Coup in Kiev

By Steve Weissman, Reader Supported News

25 March 14

If the US State Department's Victoria Nuland had not said "Fuck the EU," few outsiders at the time would have heard of Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt, the man on the other end of her famously bugged telephone call. But now Washington's man in Kiev is gaining fame as the face of the CIA-style "destabilization campaign" that brought down Ukraine's monumentally corrupt but legitimately elected President Viktor Yanukovych.

"Geoffrey Pyatt is one of these State Department high officials who does what heâ(TM)s told and fancies himself as a kind of a CIA operator," laughs Ray McGovern, who worked for 27 years as an intelligence analyst for the agency. "It used to be the CIA doing these things," he tells Democracy Now. "I know that for a fact." Now it's the State Department, with its coat-and-tie diplomats, twitter and facebook accounts, and a trick bag of goodies to build support for American policy.

A retired apparatchik, the now repentant McGovern was debating Yale historian Timothy Snyder, a self-described left-winger and the author of two recent essays in The New York Review of Books â" "The Haze of Propaganda" and "Fascism, Russia, and Ukraine." Both men speak Russian, but they come from different planets.

On Planet McGovern â" or my personal take on it â" realpolitik rules. The State Department controls the prime funding sources for non-military intervention, including the controversial National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which Washington created to fund covert and clandestine action after Ramparts magazine and others exposed how the CIA channeled money through private foundations, including the Ford Foundation. State also controls the far-better-funded Agency for International Development (USAID), along with a growing network of front groups, cut-outs, and private contractors. State coordinates with like-minded governments and their parallel institutions, mostly in Canada and Western Europe. State's "democracy bureaucracy" oversees nominally private but largely government funded groups like Freedom House. And through Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland, State had Geoff Pyatt coordinate the coup in Kiev.

The CIA, NSA, and Pentagon likely provided their specialized services, while some of the private contractors exhibited shadowy skill sets. But if McGovern knows the score, as he should, diplomats ran the campaign to destabilize Ukraine and did the hands-on dirty work.

Harder for some people to grasp, Ambassador Pyatt and his team did not create the foreign policy, which was â" and is â" only minimally about overthrowing Ukraine's duly elected government to "promote democracy." Ever since Bill Clinton sat in the Oval Office, Washington and its European allies have worked openly and covertly to extend NATO to the Russian border and Black Sea Fleet, provoking a badly wounded Russian bear. They have also worked to bring Ukraine and its Eastern European neighbors into the neoliberal economy of the West, isolating the Russians rather than trying to bring them into the fold. Except for sporadic resets, anti-Russian has become the new anti-Soviet, and "strategic containment" has been the wonky word for encircling Russia with our military and economic power.

Nor did neoconservatives create the policy, no matter how many progressive pundits blame them for it. NED provides cushy jobs for old social democrats born again as neocons. Pyatt's boss, Victoria Nuland, is the wife and fellow-traveler of historian Robert Kagan, one of the movement's leading lights. And neocons are currently beating the war drums against Russia, as much to scupper any agreements on Syria and Iran as to encourage more Pentagon contracts for their friends and financial backers. But, encircling Russia has never been just a neocon thing. The policy has bi-partisan and trans-Atlantic support, including the backing of America's old-school nationalists, Cold War liberals, Hillary hawks, and much of Obama's national security team.

No matter that the policy doesnâ(TM)t pass the giggle test. Extending NATO and Western economic institutions into all of a very divided Ukraine had less chance of working than did hopes in 2008 of bringing Georgia into NATO, which could have given the gung-ho Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvilli the treaty right to drag us all into World War III. To me, that seemed like giving a ten-year-old the keys to the family Humvee.

Western provocations in Ukraine proved more immediately counterproductive. They gave Vladimir Putin the perfect opportunity for a pro-Russian putsch in Crimea, which he had certainly thought of before, but never as a priority. The provocations encouraged him to stand up as a true Russian nationalist, which will only make him more difficult to deal with. And they gave him cover to get away with that age-old tool of tyrants, a quickie plebiscite with an unnecessary return to Joseph Stalin's old dictum once popular in my homestate of Florida: "It's not the votes that count, but who counts the votes."

Small "d" democrats should shun such pretense. Still, most journalists and pollsters on the scene report that â" with the exception of the historic Tatar community â" the majority of Crimeans want to join the Russian Federation, where they seem likely to stay.

Tensions will also grow as the US-picked interim prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk â" our man "Yats" â" joins with the IMF to impose a Greek, Spanish, or Italian style austerity. Hard-pressed Ukranians will undoubtedly fight back, especially in the predominantly Russian-speaking east. According to Der Spiegel, a whopping three quarters of the people there do not support the coup or government. What a tar patch! A domestic conflict that could split Ukraine in two will inevitably become even further embroiled in the geo-strategic struggle between Russia and the West.

On Planet Snyder, as in most Western media, these realistic considerations make absolutely no difference. Ideology rules, masked as idealism. Fine sounding abstractions fill the air. Ukrainians are making their own history. They are acting with great courage. They are seeking the rule of law and their rightful place in "European Civilization." They are defending "sovereignty" and "territorial integrity." Russians remain vicious. Big bad Vlad is the new Hitler. He is seeking his own Eurasian empire (as opposed to NATO's), which could soon include parts of Moldova, Belarus, and Kazakhstan that the West needs like a "lok in kop," a hole in the head. And those watching in the West must abandon what Snyder calls "our slightly self-obsessed notions of how we control or don't control everything."

"It was a classic popular revolution," proclaims the professor. An undeniably popular uprising against "an unmistakably reactionary regime."

Writing in The Nation, Professor Stephen Cohen shreds Snyder's argument. My concern is more pointed. Popular uprisings deserve our support or opposition depending on who comes to control them and to what ends. As McGovern puts it, "The question is: Who took them over? Who spurred them? Who provoked them for their own particular strategic interests?"

Detailed evidence provides the answers. For all the courage of the Ukrainian minority who took to the barricades, US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt and his team spurred the protests in Kiev and exercised extensive â" though never complete â" control over them. Tactically, Pyatt and his fellow diplomats showed unexpected skill. Strategically, they should have stayed home.

Revolution on Demand

Arriving in the Ukrainian capital on August 3, Pyatt almost immediately authorized a grant for an online television outlet called Hromadske.TV, which would prove essential to building the Euromaidan street demonstrations against Yanukovych. The grant was only $43,737, with an additional $4,796 by November 13. Just enough to buy the modest equipment the project needed.

Many of Hromadske's journalists had worked in the past with American benefactors. Editor-in-chief Roman Skrypin was a frequent contributor to Washington's Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty and the US-funded Ukrayinska Pravda. In 2004, he had helped create Channel 5 television, which played a major role in the Orange Revolution that the US and its European allies masterminded in 2004.

Skrypin had already gotten $10,560 from George Soros's International Renaissance Foundation (IRF), which came as a recommendation to Pyatt. Sometime between December and the following April, IRF would give Hromadske another $19,183.

Hromadske's biggest funding in that period came from the Embassy of the Netherlands, which gave a generous $95,168. As a departing US envoy to the Hague said in a secret cable that Wikileaks later made public, "Dutch pragmatism and our similar world-views make the Netherlands fertile ground for initiatives others in Europe might be reluctant, at least initially, to embrace."

For Pyatt, the payoff came on November 21, when President Yanukovych pulled back from an Association Agreement with the European Union. Within hours Hromadske.TV went online and one of its journalists set the spark that brought Yanukovych down.

"Enter a lonely, courageous Ukrainian rebel, a leading investigative journalist," writes Snyder. "A dark-skinned journalist who gets racially profiled by the regime. And a Muslim. And an Afghan. This is Mustafa Nayem, the man who started the revolution. Using social media, he called students and other young people to rally on the main square of Kiev in support of a European choice for Ukraine."

All credit to Nayem for his undeniable courage. But bad, bad history. Snyder fails to mention that Pyatt, Soros, and the Dutch had put Web TV at the uprising's disposal. Without their joint funding of Hromadske and its streaming video from the Euromaidan, the revolution might never have been televised and Yanukovych might have crushed the entire effort before it gained traction.

For better or for worse, popular uprisings have changed history long before radio, television, or the Internet. The new technologies only speed up the game. Pyatt and his team understood that and masterfully turned soft power and the exercise of free speech, press, and assembly into a televised revolution on demand, complete with an instant overdub in English. Soros then funded a Ukrainian Crisis Media Center "to inform the international community about events in Ukraine," and I'm still trying to track down who paid for Euromaidan PR, the website of the Official Public Relations Secretariat for the Headquarters of the National Resistance.

Orange Revolution II

Preparing the uprising started long before Pyatt arrived in country, and much of it revolved around a talented and multi-lingual Ukrainian named Oleh Rybachuk, who had played several key roles in the Orange Revolution of 2004. Strangely enough, he recently drew attention when Pando, Silicon Valley's online news site, attacked journalist Glenn Greenwald and the investor behind his new First Look Media, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. Trading brickbats over journalistic integrity, both Pando and Greenwald missed the gist of the bigger story.

In 2004, Rybachuk headed the staff and political campaign of the US-backed presidential candidate Victor Yushchenko. As the generally pro-American Kyiv Post tells it, the shadowy Rybachuk was Yushchenko's "alter ego" and âoethe conduitâ to the State Security Service, which "was supplying the Yushchenko team with useful information about Yanukovych's actions." Rybachuk went on to serve under Yushchenko and Tymoshenko as deputy prime minister in charge of integrating Ukraine into NATO and the European Union. In line with US policy, he also pushed for privatization of Ukraine's remaining state-owned industries.

Despite US and Western European backing, the government proved disastrous, enabling its old rival Yanukovych to win the presidency in the 2010 election. Western monitors generally found the election "free and fair," but no matter. The Americans had already sowed the seeds either to win Yanukovych over or to throw him over, whichever way Washington and its allies decided to go. As early as October 2008, USAID funded one of its many private contractors â" a non-profit called Pact Inc. â" to run the "Ukraine National Initiatives to Enhance Reforms" (UNITER). Active in Africa and Central Asia, Pact had worked in Ukraine since 2005 in campaigns against HIV/AIDS. Its new five-year project traded in bureaucratic buzzwords like civil society, democracy, and good governance, which on the public record State and USAID were spending many millions of dollars a year to promote in Ukraine.

Pact would build the base for either reform or regime change. Only this time the spin-masters would frame their efforts as independent of Ukraine's politicians and political parties, whom most Ukrainians correctly saw as hopelessly corrupt. The new hope was "to partner with civil society, young people, and international organizations" â" as Canada's prestigious Financial Post later paraphrased no less an authority than Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

By 2009, Pact had rebranded the pliable Rybachuk as "a civil society activist," complete with his own NGO, Center UA (variously spelled Centre UA, Tsenter UA, or United Actions Center UA). Pact then helped Rybachuk use his new base to bring together as many as 60 local and national NGOs with activists and leaders of public opinion. This was New Citizen, a non-political "civic platform" that became a major political player. At the time, Pact and Soros's IRF were working in a joint effort to provide small grants to some 80 local NGOs. This continued the following year with additional money from the East Europe Foundation.

"Ukraine has been united by common disillusionment," Rybachuk explained to the Kyiv Post. "The country needs a more responsible citizenry to make the political elite more responsible."

Who could argue? Certainly not Rybachuk's Western backers. New Citizen consistently framed its democracy agenda as part of a greater integration within NATO, Europe, and the trans-Atlantic world. Rybachuk himself would head the "Civil Expert Council" associated with the EU-Ukraine Cooperation Committee.

Continuing to advise on "strategic planning," in May 2010 Pact encouraged New Citizen "to take Access to Public Information as the focus of their work for the next year." The coalition campaigned for a new Freedom of Information law, which passed. Pact then showed New Citizen how to use the law to boost itself as a major player, organize and train new activists, and work more closely with compliant journalists, all of which would seriously weaken the just-elected Yanukovych government. Part of their destabilization included otherwise praiseworthy efforts, none more so than the movement to "Stop Censorship."

"Censorship is re-emerging, and the opposition is not getting covered as much,â Rybachuk told the Kyiv Post in May 2010. He was now "a media expert" as well as civic activist. âoeThere are some similarities to what Vladimir Putin did in Russia when he started his seizure of power by first muzzling criticism in the media.â

One of Rybachuk's main allies in "Stop Censorship" was the journalist Sergii Leshchenko, who had long worked with Mustafa Nayem at Ukrayinska Pravda, the online newsletter that NED publicly took credit for supporting. NED gave Leshchenko its Reagan Fascell Democracy Fellowship, while New Citizen spread his brilliant exposés of Yanukovych's shameless corruption, focusing primarily on his luxurious mansion at Mezhyhirya. Rybachuk's Center UA also produced a documentary film featuring Mustafa Nayem daring to ask Yanukovych about Mezhyhirya at a press conference. Nothing turned Ukrainians â" or the world â" more against Yanukovych than the concerted exposure of his massive corruption. This was realpolitik at its most sophisticated, since the US and its allies funded few, if any, similar campaigns against the many Ukrainian kleptocrats who favored Western policy.

Under the watchful eye of Pact, Rybachuk's New Citizen developed a project to identify the promises of Ukrainian politicians and monitor their implementation. They called it a "Powermeter" (Vladometer), an idea they took from the American website "Obamameter." Funding came from the US Embassy, through its Media Development Fund, which falls under the State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. Other money came from the Internews Network, which receives its funding from the State Department, USAID, the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and a wide variety of other government agencies, international organizations, and private donors. Still other money came from Soros's IRF.

New Citizen and its constituent organizations then brought together 150 NGOs from over 35 cities, along with activists and journalists like Sergii Leschchenko, to create yet another campaign in 2011. They called it the Chesno Movement, from the Ukrainian word for "honestly. " Its logo was a garlic bulb, a traditional disinfectant widely believed to ward off evil. The movement's purpose was "to monitor the political integrity of the parliamentary candidates running in the 2012 elections."

This was a mammoth project with the most sophisticated sociology. As expected, the Chesno monitoring found few honest politicians. But it succeeded in raising the issue of public integrity to new heights in a country of traditionally low standards and in building political interest in new areas of the country and among the young. The legislative elections themselves proved grim, with President Yanukovych's Party of the Regions taking control of parliament.

What then of all New Citizen's activism, monitoring, campaigning, movement-building, and support for selective investigative journalism? Where was all this heading? Rybachuk answered the question in May 2012, several months before the election.

"The Orange Revolution was a miracle, a massive peaceful protest that worked," he told Canada's Financial Post. "We want to do that again and we think we will.â

He Who Pays the Piper

Rybachuk had good reason for his revolutionary optimism. His Western donors were upping the ante. Pact Inc. commissioned a financial audit for the Chesno campaign, covering from October 2011 to December 2012. It showed that donors gave Rybachuk's Center UA and six associated groups some $800,000 for Chesno. PACT, which regularly got its money from USAID, contributed the lion's share, $632,813, though part of that came from the Omidyar Network, a foundation set up by Pierre and his wife.

In a March 12th press release, the network tried to explain its contributions to Rybachuk's Center UA, New Citizen, and the Chesno Movement. These included a two-year grant of $335,000, announced in September 2011, and another $769,000, committed in July 2013. Some of the money went to expand Rybachuk's technology platforms, as New Citizen explained.

"New Citizen provides Ukrainians with an online platform to cooperatively advocate for social change. On the site, users can collectively lobby state officials to release of public information, participate in video-advocacy campaigns, and contribute to a diverse set of community initiatives," they wrote. "As a hub of social justice advocates in Kiev, the organization hopes to define the nationâ(TM)s 'New Citizen' through digital media."

Omidyar's recent press release listed several other donors, including the USAID-funded Pact, the Swiss and British embassies, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, the National Endowment for Democracy, and Soros's International Renaissance Foundation. The Chesno Movement also received money from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

Figures for fiscal year 2013 are more difficult to track. Washington's foreignassistance.gov shows USAID paying PACT in Ukraine over $7 million under the general category of "Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance." The data does not indicate what part of this went to Center UA, New Citizen, or any of their projects.

What should we make of all this funding? Some of it looks like private philanthropy, as back in the days when the CIA channeled its money through foundations. Was the Soros and Omidyar money truly private or government money camouflaged to look private? That has to remain an open question. But, with Rybachuk's campaigns, it makes little difference. USAID and other government funding dominated. The US Embassy, through Pact, coordinated most of what Rybachuk did. And, to my knowledge, neither Soros nor Omidyar ever broke from the State Department's central direction.

Strategic Containment, OK?

When Ambassador Pyatt arrived in Kiev, he inherited Pact and its Rybachuk network well on its way to a second Orange Revolution, but only if they thought they needed it to win integration into Europe. That was always the big issue for the State Department and the Ukrainian movement they built, far more telling than censorship, corruption, democracy, or good governance. As late as November 14, Rybachuk saw no reason to take to the streets, fully expecting Yanukovych to sign the Association Agreement with the European Union at a November 28-29 summit in Vilnius. On November 21, Yanukovych pulled back, which Rybachuk saw as a betrayal of government promises. That is what "brought people to the streets," he told Kyiv Post. "It needed to come to this."

Euromaidan would become a "massive watchdog," putting pressure on the government to sign the association and free trade deal with the EU, he said. "We'll be watching what the Ukrainian government does, and making sure it does what it has to do."

That is where the State Departmentâ(TM)s second Orange Revolution started. In my next article, I'll show where it went from there and why.

A veteran of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement and the New Left monthly Ramparts, Steve Weissman lived for many years in London, working as a magazine writer and television producer. He now lives and works in France, where he is researching a new book, "Big Money and the Corporate State: How Global Banks, Corporations, and Speculators Rule and How to Nonviolently Break Their Hold."

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

User Journal

Journal: Depressing 4

Journal by squiggleslash

So you argue X. You make it clear your view is X, and not Y. You explicitly and repeatedly distance yourself from position Y as it's not what you believe. You explain X in clear detail and how X works.

ALL the responses to you start with the position that you're arguing Y. I'm modded through the floor long before I can get responses out pointing out that they're arguing against strawmen.

I'm losing faith but I don't know what in. Is it me, is it them? Part of me thinks "Well, I must be not explaining this well enough", but...

Genuinely asked for help here. Got kinda an answer, but it only semiexplains the whole thing. Getting the impression people read one phrase in my comments and once they've read it they completely switch off and ignore everything before and after it, including the explanation of why I'm using that phrase.

This may or may not be true, but if you can't call a spade a spade because people think you're talking about coffee grounds (OK, it's early in the morning and I'm tired), then how the hell do you proceed and explain that the problem starts with an actual fucking spade, not vaguely related pile of coffee grounds?

Christmas Cheer

Journal: Should PETA Turn Jeffrey Dahmer's Home into Vegan Restaurant 6

Journal by Jeremiah Cornelius

PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, proposes that the former home of convicted murderer and cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer be turned into a vegan restaurant called, "Eat for Life -- Home Cooking." "Rather than remaining as a stark reminder of it dark past, the building can instead become the site of a celebration of culinary compassion. Like Dahmer's human victims, cows, pigs, and chickens are made of flesh and blood and fear for their lives when confronted by a man with a knife... The difference is that when Dahmer was caught, his killing spree ended. Today, however, more than 30 billion animals are slaughtered in the U.S. every year in similarly gruesome ways for food." Is this statement just callous appropriation of a terrible human tragedy for political opportunity, by those who claim to be motivated by deep compassion?

MATH AND ALCOHOL DON'T MIX! Please, don't drink and derive. Mathematicians Against Drunk Deriving

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