The Morality of Economics: The Key Issue of the Twenty-First Century by Richard C. Cook

Dandelion Salad

by Richard C. Cook
Global Research, July 29, 2007

Since January 2007, Global Research and other forums have published a series of articles by this writer on the urgent need for economic and monetary reform.


Some readers have commented on how distant these monetary reform recommendations are from current practice. The reason for this is simply that the recommendations derive from a starting point that is not customary.


This starting point is that human morality should be the essential factor in analyzing and making economic policy decisions. In other words, an economic system should reflect what is good and right, not just what those in power choose to dictate or the compromises that can be worked out by the balance of power in some political equation.  


Economic decisions, as they are made presently within the United States and elsewhere, reflect the standpoint of a moral outlook that is critically defective. This is what must be changed, not just mechanics.


For the past quarter century, economic life, under the rubric of globalization, has increasingly been based on such overt or covert precepts as, “survival of the fittest,” “privatization,” “might makes right,” “money talks,” “whoever has the gold rules,” and “let the buyer beware.”


All are basically reflections of the profit motive vs. any ideal of charity, compassion, or service. Indeed, mention of such lofty motivations is even likely to evoke sneers among self-anointed “realists.” But the fact is that laws and practices have been increasingly marked by greed for gain by some at the expense of everyone else, which is an indicator of a society-wide relapse into barbarism.


These trends have been abetted by the contention that economics is a science, somehow similar to physics, which describes the behavior of “forces” that are essentially amoral.  The primary such force, perhaps, is the postulated existence of an impersonal “market,” the functioning of which, even when appearing ruthless, supposedly results in the common good.  


A recent example may be found in a statement by Secretary of the Treasury Henry M. Paulson to Fortune magazine predicting a global economic downturn. Paulson said, “It’s just that we’re not going to defy economic gravity.” By placing his forecast on a par with the most relentless of all physical laws, Paulson lends an aura of inevitability to events which, if they occur, could be devastating to billions of people.


By implication, Paulson also denies the possibility of any political choice about the likely event, even though it would be at least partially a result of the housing bubble, the biggest such financial travesty in history, which the Federal Reserve, along with the last several presidential administrations, have contributed to creating in the absence of any genuine economic driver for the U.S. economy.


But such “forces” as policy-makers buy into are usually manmade. Further, more than people realize, the way a nation’s economy functions is a reflection of its moral choices and values. The “market” behaves as it is designed to behave and distributes its benefits accordingly. The upside of this observation is that an economic system can be altered to reflect a higher moral vision. 


A glaring instance was the 600-plus-point drop in the Dow-Jones the week of July 23. The “causes” were the ongoing collapse of the housing market and the worldwide tightening of credit. Though many commentators have been predicting an economic decline, few are willing to say that the credit crunch is by design and represents a choice by the central banks, including the Federal Reserve, to favor the interests of creditors over debtors.


The most basic question to be addressed in analyzing the morality of economics is whether human beings have a right to life. Most people would say yes. Many would consider the answer so obvious that the question is unnecessary, even foolish. The basic principle of the Declaration of Independence is that human beings have an “unalienable right” to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”


Yet the actions of governments and individuals give the lie to this idea. Even after a century of the horrors of world war, governments continue to embrace war as an instrument of policy. This has applied particularly with regard to the United States, which has engaged in almost continuous warfare since 1941 and which today maintains military personnel or bases in over 130 countries.


Weapons of violence and warfare blanket the earth. Obviously many people believe that human beings have a right to life unless some government that is armed to the teeth decides otherwise. The most recent glaring example has been the U.S. occupation of Iraq, which, based on whatever rationale, has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilian non-combatants. In this instance, the values of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” have clearly been viewed as secondary to other, perhaps unstated, priorities. One such priority, without doubt, is control of oil.  


This is only one example whereby the basic precepts of human welfare have taken a back seat to more urgent imperatives. Decisions are constantly being made by some people that have a life or death result for others, including the one to maintain or even raise interest rates in the face of the pending economic decline.


There was a time when individuals and families were much better equipped than at present to live by means of their own labor, without regard to the economic decisions made by economists, financiers, military planners, or politicians. Tribal and agrarian societies, including much of the United States through at least the end of the nineteenth century, were based on technologies that allowed people to survive at a subsistence level with minimal interference by outside experts or authorities.


The same was true of the agricultural and peasant classes of Europe until recent times. Even during the so-called “Dark Ages,” the masses of people were able to subsist off the land even as the warrior castes slaughtered each other.


All this changed through the mechanization of work brought about by the industrial revolution. Now more could be produced by fewer workers. The first of many epoch-making innovations was the application of steam power to the operation of machines. Observers believed naively that mankind had now evolved to such a degree that the curse of labor had been lifted and that the human race would now be free from merely having to earn a living and could devote itself to higher pursuits.


But it turned out that the benefits of industrialization flowed mainly to those who controlled the processes of production. Those who did the work, or those whose work was no longer needed, were left out. The system which imposed this paradigm was capitalism. It was opposed by a variety of ideologies, including various types of socialism and trade unionism, which argued that the gains in productivity really should be viewed as the property of the community, not just a handful of those with economic and political power.    


In recent years, capitalism has conquered most of the world, even in countries that still may consider themselves socialist, such as China. The brand of capitalism that has become the most powerful is finance capitalism, based ultimately on the lending of money at interest. Backing up this system is the greatest arsenal of weapons of mass destruction ever seen.


There was a time when such lending, particularly at excessive rates of interest, was condemned as usury, but no more. Now it is even a matter of official policy that the central banks of the world may raise interest rates as high as they wish if they are able to make the claim that they are fighting inflation or making borrowers more responsible. The name for this policy is “monetarism.” But this justification of lending practices that many ethical authorities in history have regarded as criminal is an excuse, not a reason.


As a result of capitalism, much of the world’s population has increasingly been left out of the prosperity and material security that industrialization once seemed to promise. Around the world, the benefits clearly have accrued mainly to the upper income echelons, while the majority of people are left to struggle. The results increasingly are un- or under-employment, poverty, lack of adequate nutrition or health care, or even, in many countries, starvation.


Within the United States alone, thirty-five million people are malnourished and almost a million are homeless, including some war veterans. No one could possibly argue that all of these people are personally at fault and that none are suffering because of the type of economy we have chosen to embrace. Yet for many, poverty and homelessness are a death sentence, whether through ill health, exposure, or violence, because in economics, due process and equal protection of the laws no longer seem to apply. 


Faced with such situations, another ideology has sprung up based on the idea that there are not enough resources on the earth to support the human population, so that many must simply die—with the exception, of course, of oneself, one’s friends and family, one’s co-religionists, or one’s countrymen. Overly-pessimistic alarms about such phenomena as global warming also become part of the litany of doomsayers.


This latter-day Malthusianism is more prevalent than many are aware of. We are afflicted with a mind-set of scarcity in a Universe where there are so many signs of an infinity of abundance. It may be easier to comprehend a philosophy of abundance by realizing that the resources available to us may someday include not only those of the earth but those of surrounding space and the solar system as well.


People are drawn into the illusion of scarcity without giving much thought as to whether there might be better ways to distribute the prosperity of the modern technology-driven economy so that the world’s population can be adequately maintained. But doing so must be a collective effort. What, then, does society have a moral obligation to provide to its members under today’s conditions?


The most obvious is meaningful employment. Here United States policy makers have failed drastically by pursuing policies which have led to the collapse of our industrial base and the export of so many of our jobs. But even beyond creation of a robust producing economy, three additional measures come to mind.


One is a guaranteed income for all. Each individual should be granted, as a basic human right, a sufficient amount of money to survive at a subsistence level. Such an income should be made as a recurring cash payment by every government, or on a worldwide basis by the U.N. Richer nations should provide poorer ones the means to do this if necessary. There is no reason except human ignorance why poverty worldwide could not be eliminated now through a basic income guarantee.


The second should be low-cost credit provided at the individual and consumer levels for grassroots economic development. Credit should be viewed as both a public utility and a human right and should be made available at minimal cost—no more than one percent interest payable to whatever public agency is charged with administering the program. Banks have the privilege of creating credit “out of nothing.” Governments, which grant banks this privilege, should have it also and could and should exercise it to the benefit of their populations. Low-cost credit is essential for maintenance of dynamic local economies.


The third is a public infrastructure consisting of health, education, water, transportation, and waste disposal services that are provided without charge to all persons. Again, there is no reason except prejudice why governments should not be able to exercise the privilege of spending or lending money directly into circulation for these purposes without recourse to either taxation or borrowing. As America’s greatest inventor, Thomas Edison, once observed, the government could as easily spend interest-free money into circulation for such purposes as sell bonds to banks then borrow the money back as an addition to the public debt.  


An economic and monetary system that would provide these benefits is within reach, given the current state of development of technology and the world economy. Once the system is in place, society would have a firm basis on which a robust and creative private sector could be supported, including meaningful jobs available on demand. The first requirement for prosperity would have been met, which is a healthy, educated, and enterprising population.   


In fact, more advanced economies could provide an additional cash dividend to their citizens in order to allow firms engaged in production to recover through their pricing sufficient earnings for investment in future growth and innovation. The term used by monetary reformers for such a stipend is a “National Dividend.” 


These measures could be instituted regardless of the type of political system a nation chooses to embrace. They would not only sustain the entire population but would also inject the purchasing power needed at the grassroots level to distribute what the global economy is able to produce. The number one unsolved economic problem the world faces today is that people lack purchasing power to buy what industry can create, so they must constantly go deeper into debt.


Such a program as described herein would go a long way toward satisfying the injunction contained in all the world’s religions which is reflected in the Christian precept that we should strive to “love our neighbor as ourselves.” This is what I believe should define the morality of economics. Our community life would then become a “house built on rock,” rather than on the shifting sands of greed, profiteering, poverty, and debt.


We must realize that as long as a single person on earth is unfairly denied sustenance, we remain barbarians. Everywhere in the world people are waking up to the fact that the work of applying enlightened concepts of morality to economics is the key task which mankind faces in the twenty-first century. Unfortunately, as of this writing, there are signs that those in power are making plans for another wave of warfare and violence to hold the day of reckoning at bay. But they cannot do so forever.



Richard C. Cook is a retired federal analyst, whose career included service with the U.S. Civil Service Commission, the Food and Drug Administration, the Carter White House, and NASA, followed by twenty-one years with the U.S. Treasury Department. His articles on monetary reform, economics, and space policy have appeared on Global Research, Economy in Crisis, Dissident Voice, Atlantic Free Press, and elsewhere. He is the author of “Challenger Revealed: An Insider’s Account of How the Reagan Administration Caused the Greatest Tragedy of the Space Age.” His website is at


Richard C. Cook is a frequent contributor to Global Research.  Global Research Articles by Richard C. Cook

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Helplessly Hopeless? by Peter Chamberlin (Psy-Ops)

Dandelion Salad

by Peter Chamberlin
Sunday, 29 July 2007

For many years, American society has lived under a state of siege. We have constantly been bombarded, every minute of every day, with psychological conditioning that is meant to lead us into a state of hopelessness. We are addicted to the source of this Pavlovian conditioning – television. This medium serves as an extension of the government propaganda apparatus, pumping-up the fear and anxiety levels, until the people become numb, convinced that we are helpless in a roiling sea of great dangers. We are literally being scared to death, so that we will give-up, roll over, and play dead. They want our surrender to be assured before they take the final steps to murder our democratic-Republic.

Continue reading

Flying robots of Destruction – US Taking War to the Next Level by Yury Zaitsev

Dandelion Salad

by Yury Zaitsev

Global Research, July 29, 2007

RIA Novosti – 2007-07-27

The U.S. Air Force has unveiled a 25-year program for developing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The document lays out a strategy for the project and lists the necessary technologies for this new field of aviation.

Military experts say UAVs will mainly carry air-to-air and air-to-surface guided missiles, as well as smart aviation bombs and cluster bombs, including submunitions with different guidance systems. In the future, new kinds of weapons systems may be installed on UAVs. Currently, work is focused on two areas: adapting available weapons for use on unmanned craft and developing new, specialized weapons.

During the NATO campaign in Yugoslavia, UAVs were employed only for reconnaissance purposes. In Afghanistan, however, troops used a strike craft called the Predator for the first time, detecting and destroying militant groups of various strengths, their bases and sites for launching unguided missiles.

The wide range of available guided weapons makes it possible for UAVs to carry out their missions alone or in conjunction with manned aviation. Because of the enormous payload carried by UAV craft, it is safe to assume that developers will continue to look for ways to make guided aviation weapons smaller.

Directed-energy weapons are also likely to be added to the traditional arsenal of weapons and electronic countermeasures already mounted on UAV craft.

The global spread of UAV technologies has encouraged many do-it-yourself projects using unclassified methods. So these weapons of the future could also be used by terrorists as a sort of kamikaze robots.

Yury Zaitsev is an analyst at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Space Research.

Global Research Articles by Yury Zaitsev


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Ex-CIA officer Slams US Allegations against Iran as Sham – US Creating False pretexts for Another War

Dandelion Salad

Global Research, July 29, 2007

CASMII – 2007-07-28

In an alarming exposure of the acceleration and urgency of the American war party’s push towards catastrophic war with Iran, Philip Giraldi, former CIA counter terrorism officer, in an interview [1] on 24th July with Anti War Radio debunked the NeoCons’ repeated myth of Iran’s support for AlQaeda as a pretext for war. Whilst acknowledging Iran’s helpfulness in trying to establish security in both Afghanistan and Iraq, Giraldi spoke of the United States’ hypocritical and illegal support for terrorist separatists groups inside Iran, and various plans and scenarios which have been drawn up to destroy Iran’s military and economic infrastructure by massive bombardment, with the use of nuclear bombs a real and stated possibility.

Giraldi refuted the assumption that sharing hostilities towards the US, placed Iran and AlQaeda in the same camp and sharing similar agenda, arguing that Iran followed a very different agenda in its dealings with the US. He emphasised both the fact of Iranians’ helpfulness in Iraq, in terms of pushing for greater stability, and also their help and cooperation in Afghanistan, as well as the reality of the deep hostilities between Shiia Iran and Sunni extremism of AlQaeda. Giraldi recalled the major attack against the Iranian consulate general in Afghanistan by the Taliban, a close ally of AlQaeda, in which 11 Iranian diplomats were killed, and the regular AlQaeda violent attacks against Shiia population in Iraq, and concluded that a Shiia Iranian-AlQaeda alliance was not a plausible possibility.

He described the recent New York Sun’s allegation [2] that AlQaeda prisoners in Iran led terrorist operations inside Iraq under the advice of the Iranian government, as one of many propaganda pieces making a case for war. He said how in 2003, the Iranian government, through the Swiss embassy, had offered to hand over the six AlQaeda prisoners kept in Iran, which includes Osama Bin Laden’s son, in exchange for the US ceasing its support for the MEK, and how this offer was rejected by the US. He said of the MEK that it was sheltered and armed by Saddam against Iran, and now supported and armed by Pentagon against Iran.

Highlighting what he called American “ultimate hypocrisy”, Giraldi explained how the US government is supporting terrorist groups and ethnic division in Iran and charging the Iranians in Iraq for what the US was doing in Iran itself and with a lot more evidence. Giraldi talked of US’s support for Jundollah which he described as a Sunni Baluchi separatist group in eastern Iran that has launched deadly terrorist attacks inside Iran. He also spoke of US support for separatists amongst the Arab minority which is closer to the border with Iraq.

Giraldi repeated the alarm call he first made in his revelations in the American Conservative Magazine in 2005 that Dick Cheney, who has no authority under the constitution, had ordered the air force to draw up plans for air strike against Iran that even included the use of nuclear weapons. He said he thought there was a lot of evidence since then to suggest that nuclear weapons are still very much on the table and named Republican Senators such as McCain, Gilliani and Romney who had not “flinched at all” in the debate about the prospect of using nuclear weapons against Iran.

He spoke of various war scenarios cooked up by the war party. One scenario was of the automatic use of the nuclear weapons in order to reach and destroy the Iranian nuclear sites buried under ground. Another scenario was to use the nuclear threat if the “Iranians continue to fight back after we staged our attack”, the idea being “that’s what the nukes are for, our nukes that everybody knows that we in fact do have, is to tell them, listen, you are going to sit there and take it while we bomb you for a week or two and you are not going to fight back and if you do fight back then we will use nuclear weapons on you”, and he cited the example scenario of Iranians resisting by staging attack in the Strait of Hormouz or destabilising Afghanistan.

Setting out the horrifying context of the possibility of the US using nuclear strikes against Iran, under the pretext of destroying Iranian nuclear bombs which do not exist and Iran’s cooperation with AlQaeda, another propaganda fabrication, Giraldi drew attention to the recent warning to Iran and the threat of war issued by AlQaeda for Iran’s support for the Shiia government in Iraq, as well as AlQaeda’s constant horrific attacks inside Iraq targeting Shiia population and mosques.

Prof. Abbas Edalat of CASMII said today: “Giraldi’s revelations is consistent with and confirms the emergence of a shift in the dynamics of the American foreign policy decision making away from dialogue and in favour of war. The reality of the shared strategic interests between Iran and the US in stabilising Iraq and the possibility and great benefits for both countries in reaching a rapprochement in their bilateral relationship, based on mutual respect and cooperation rather than threat and coercion, is persistently obscured and sabotaged by the fanatical warmongers of Cheney camp and the Israeli lobby, who are relentlessly pushing for war”.

It is incumbent upon the media and journalists to give active voice to informed and conscientious individuals like Giraldi who have well-established connections within the intelligence community and are warning the international community about the impending catastrophic war against Iran.

For more information please contact CASMII or visit





Can’t Find Osama? Attack Iran Instead by Philip Giraldi


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Crimes Against Peace – Was The U.S. Invasion Of Iraq Legal or Illegal Under International Law (video)

Crimes Against Peace

Dandelion Salad

Excellent video

Do any of the charges of illegality we’ve been hearing about have any legal basis at all? And why should we even care about international law anyway?

Going STRAIGHT to the Source… EXPOSING PRESIDENT BUSH!!! by Brigida + Metallica – Disposable Heroes (music video)

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The Death Mask Of War By Chris Hedges

Dandelion Salad

By Chris Hedges
07/28/07 “Adbusters

American Marines and soldiers have become socialized to atrocity.

All troops, when they occupy and battle insurgent forces, as in Iraq, or Gaza or Vietnam, are placed in “atrocity producing situations.”

In this environment, surrounded by a hostile population, simple acts such as going to a store to buy a can of Coke means you can be killed. This constant fear and stress pushes troops to view everyone around them as the enemy. This hostility is compounded when the enemy, as in Iraq, is elusive, shadowy and hard to find. Continue reading

“SiCKO” Builds a Movement By Roger Hickey (+ video link)

Dandelion Salad

By Roger Hickey
Campaign for America’s Future

Go to Original

Monday 09 July 2007

Americans want big changes in our heath care system. And now Michael Moore’s great new film, “SiCKO,” is helping to turn a desire for change into a crusade for change.

Now breaking box office records in its second week in theaters, “SiCKO” conveys powerfully emotional stories of Americans trapped in a system controlled by insurance and drug companies that deny care and destroy lives in order to maintain their profits. We walk into the movie house as individuals with our particular gripes about the health care system. And we walk out wanting to be part of a national movement for health care for all. For example, read this great account of how spontaneous organizing literally occurred in the theater lobby – at a Dallas, Texas suburban cineplex.

So, what kind of movement should we be building?

Unlike this weekend’s very expensive Live Earth rock-and-roll extravaganza, whose major message (in the face of looming global environmental catastrophe) seemed to be to make personal life changes – “Buy better lightbulbs, unplug your cellphone chargers, and run your tour bus on bio-diesel” – the thoughts of people who see Moore’s movie turn immediately to institutional and political change.

After seeing Moore’s film, most people want to pose a big question to all politicians: Will you work to guarantee health care for all, not incrementally – one disease at a time, or one group (like kids) and then another group (like their parents) in another program – but through a universal system of health care for everyone?

Here’s a second crucial question we should ask politicians: Will you pledge to cut the big insurance and drug companies out of a central role in the design of your universal health care plan?


Last week the Campaign for America’s Future joined with MoveOn in a campaign to urge our members to take friends to see “SiCKO” and then to communicate with all the candidates for president, asking them to reject contributions from big insurance and drug companies. We will publicize the answers.

The good news for those of us who come out of “SiCKO” inspired to change our health care system: Several of the presidential candidates – John Edwards, Barack Obama, and Dennis Kucinich – have already pledged not to take contributions from the insurance and drug companies, their political action committees and their lobbyists. And each of those Democratic candidates has already put forward a plan to achieve health care for all. Hillary Clinton has announced she will come forward with a plan for universal health care in the coming months – a big step forward from her original posture of just covering children first. It appears that Clinton’s campaign is taking insurance and drug industry money, but she is under pressure to change that – which is the one of the goals of our email campaign.

This is where two different tendencies in the health care movement diverge. Some people want to understand which of the possible nominees has the best plan – or discuss how we put pressure on him or her to get better. The other reaction – which I’ve gotten in person and in angry emails – says don’t even bother talking about the promising proposals coming from politicians like Edwards and Obama. They are just not as good as Kucinich’s plan (H.R. 676) which would create one national public (single-payer) health plan for everyone. Michael Moore, although he has generally wisely stayed above the details of specific policy, has given a few interviews dismissing Edwards and Obama as fatally flawed because they preserve a role for private insurers.

Now, there is nothing wrong with unremitting public pressure. If everyone who sees “SiCKO” is enlisted in the Kucinich campaign – and if everywhere the other candidates go, they are confronted with crowds chanting for single-payer, it could (in theory) convince Obama or Hillary or Edwards to embrace H.R. 676. Or failing that, if a Democrat gets to the White House anyway, he or she (or the more progressive new Congress) might be forced to support a pure single-payer plan sometime after the election. The debate about health care for all won’t be over on Election Day, it just begins. And everyone should energically raise their voices. Tell the politicians that we want a comprehensive health care plan that covers everyone. And those who think HR 676 is the only way to achieve that goal, should be vociferous – and they will. That kind of democracy in action is good.

But one big problem with “single-payer or nothing” – or Dennis Kucinich or nobody – is that it runs the risk of ignoring potentially important differences between the candidates who actually have a chance to win the nomination – and it takes the pressure off those candidates to try to improve their health care plans if they think that all the “”SiCKO” voters” are going to give our votes only to Kucinich.

Now, I happen to think that the health care plans put forward by Edwards and Obama represent pretty important proposals – much more understandable than Clinton’s 1993 plan or John Kerry’s undecipherable health care proposals in 2004. The prospect of debating Kucinich before audiences of progressive primary voters probably made Edwards’ and Obama’s plans somewhat more progressive – but they also got better because some of us paid attention to the details of what they and their advisers were saying – and pushed them in the right direction. (See links below.)

Do the Edwards or Obama plans remove the private health insurance industry from any and all roles in expanding health care coverage? No. But both Edwards and Obama create a public program, similar to Medicare, that would play a central role in making sure all Americans have coverage. Here’s a description of Obama’s plan from David Cutler, one of his key advisers:

If you don’t have health insurance through your employer, you will be enrolled into a new, comprehensive public health insurance plan that emphasizes prevention, chronic care management and quality care. This plan will enjoy the great efficiencies we see in public plans like Medicare but, if you still cannot afford it, you will receive a subsidy to pay for it. Of course, you can choose private insurance if you prefer but the private plans will have to compete on a level playing field with the public plan – without the extra payments that tip the scales in favor of private Medicare Advantage plans today.

It ain’t pure single payer, and people have a choice of regulated private insurance, but the plan people are automatically enrolled in would end up being a pretty big single-payer public insurance program – like Medicare.

Edwards has a similar public insurance plan, and when he rolled it out for public discussion (well before Obama), he told Tim Russert of “Meet the Press”: “One of the choices … is the government plan. So people who like the idea of a single-payer insurer health plan, that is actually one of the alternatives that people can choose.”

We don’t know what Hillary Clinton’s plan will look like. She could cautiously aim at covering everyone only if she is re-elected for a second term (as she has hinted). And she could aim at achieving that goal incrementally, insuring all poor children first in one program, and middle-class children in a separate program, and all adults in a third program. That would be a disappointment. And people who think of themselves as “health care voters” should be letting her know that RIGHT NOW.

In this crucial primary season, some in the movement for health care for all will dismiss the differences between candidates, embracing only Kucinich and single-payer. But the rest of us, more realistically, should emphasize the most progressive elements of the Edwards and Obama – and Kucinich – proposals, while trying to use them to leverage a better, more progressive plan out of Hillary Clinton.

The single-payer advocates get the diagnosis of what’s wrong with American health care correct: The for-profit drug and health insurance industries who profit by denying people care and by manipulating the system. But even if you would like to completely cut these corporate interests out of our basic health care system, it would be real progress to achieve a public health insurance plan like Medicare that covers over half the population. And some of us think there could be a political advantage – and a good reply to the “Harry and Louise” propaganda from the insurance companies – if we can show that people who like their private insurance plans will get to keep things just the way they are.

Michael Moore has generated a lot of very productive emotion by exposing how the insurance industry denies care to people who thought they were covered or keeps sick people from getting insurance. But we all need to get used to another populist attack on the private health insurance industry – but one not designed to take them out but to regulate them. You can see it in California, where Arnold Schwarzenegger is trying to cover everyone without a public plan, so he has to try to put strong new restrictions on private insurance companies (who want to participate) to get them to insure all comers – even people with pre-existing conditions – and to do it at affordable premiums.

If any of the leading Democrats – Edwards, Obama, or Clinton – get elected president, we are likely to see two parallel experiments with the insurance industry: displace them as much as possible with the best possible public plan AND regulate the hell out of them to try to get them to change the business model so well described by Clinton at the Las Vegas health care debate: “Insurance companies make money by spending a lot of money, and employing a lot of people, to avoid insuring you, and then if you’re insured, they try to avoid paying for the health care you receive.”

Our most important job is to build a strong movement with a clear goal: good health care guaranteed for all. And then we have to explain and re-explain how the business practices of the big health insurance and drug companies actually prevent us from achieving that goal. If we keep up pressure for strong reform and not just weak reform – perhaps we can build a health care system that puts people ahead of profits: the kind of system that – as Michael Moore showed us – the Canadians, the British and the French have enjoyed for decades.

Roger Hickey is co-director of the Campaign for America’s Future.   .


Michael Moore Plays Hardball (videos)

Colbert Interviews Michael Moore By Manila Ryce (video link)

Two Trillion Spent on Healthcare Each Year: A Sick Way to Prop Up an Ailing Economy By Joshua Holland

HR 676 Universal Healthcare: Don’t Stop Believin’ (video; Kucinich; 35 percenters)

Kucinich: How do we get universal healthcare? + Jobs Education Healthcare + Is social security under attack? (videos)

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Tillman Comrade Recalls Final Moments

Dandelion Salad

Go to Original
The Associated Pres
Sunday 29 July 2007

San Francisco – As bullets flew above their heads, the young soldier at Pat Tillman’s side started praying. “I thought I was praying to myself, but I guess he heard me,” Sgt. Bryan O’Neal recalled in an interview Saturday with The Associated Press. “He said something like, ‘Hey, O’Neal, why are you praying? God can’t help us now.”‘

Tillman’s intent, O’Neal said, was to “more or less put my mind straight about what was going on at the moment.”

“He said, ‘I’ve got an idea to help get us out of this,”‘ said O’Neal, who was an 18-year-old Army Ranger in Tillman’s unit when the former NFL player was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan in April 2004.

O’Neal said Tillman, a corporal, threw a smoke grenade to identify themselves to fellow soldiers who were firing at them. Tillman was waving his arms shouting “Cease fire, friendlies, I am Pat (expletive) Tillman, damn it!” again and again when he was killed, O’Neal said.

A chaplain who debriefed the entire unit days after Tillman’s death later described this exchange to investigators conducting a criminal probe of the incident. But O’Neal strongly disputes portions of the chaplain’s testimony, outlined in some 2,300 pages of transcripts released to the AP this week by the Defense Department in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

The chaplain told investigators that O’Neal said Tillman was harsh in his last moments, snapping, ‘Would you shut your (expletive) mouth? God’s not going to help you; you need to do something for yourself, you sniveling …”

“He never would have called me ‘sniveling,”‘ O’Neal said. “I don’t remember ever speaking to this chaplain, and I find this characterization of Pat really upsetting. He never once degraded me. He’s the only person I ever worked for who didn’t degrade anyone. He wasn’t that sort of person.”

The chaplain’s name is blacked out in the documents.

Tillman gave up a multimillion-dollar football contract to enlist with his brother in the Army after the 2001 terrorist attacks.

The military initially told the public and the Tillman family that he had been killed by enemy fire. It was only weeks later, when the truth was about to be published, did the Pentagon acknowledge that he was gunned down by fellow Rangers.

The Pentagon conducted a criminal investigation and ruled that Tillman’s death at the hands of his comrades was a friendly-fire accident.

Congress is preparing for another hearing this week, while the Pentagon is separately preparing a new round of punishments.

Soldiers and commanders who worked with Tillman have repeatedly testified that he was respected, admired and well-liked.

In the same testimony, medical examiners said the bullet holes in Tillman’s head were so close together that it appeared the Army Ranger was cut down by an M-16 fired from a mere 10 yards or so away.

O’Neal said the shooters were “close, close enough for me to recognize them, but they sure weren’t 10 yards away. They were further than that. I’ve thought about this plenty of times. They wouldn’t have been more than 50 yards away.”

Another key issue raised in the transcripts involved never-before-mentioned snipers who were apparently there when the firing broke out, got out of their vehicle and walked alongside the convoy, cutting up the canyon firing.

O’Neal said Saturday that he knew there were snipers in the convoy that fired at them, but that he can’t remember their names. Were they fired at by the snipers? “Not that I know of,” O’Neal told the AP.

His recollections of the snipers reflected other testimony in the transcripts, including answers given by Capt. Richard Scott, who conducted the first, immediate investigation:

Q: Are you aware whether or not any U.S. forces snipers were at the scene?

Scott: They were in serial two.

Q: And, and do you know whose GMV (ground mobility vehicle) they were traveling in?

Scott: I don’t think they were in a GMV. I think they were in a cargo Humvee.

Q: Okay. Do you know if the snipers fired any rounds during this incident involving CPL Tillman?

Scott: I do not, no.

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Olbermann: The House of Secrets + Congressional Hearing Next Week on Pat Tillman Cover-Up (videos)

Olbermann: The Nexus of Politics and Terror – The Cheese Bomb + A Dizzying Day of Scandal and Deceit + Confirmation of a Cover-up in Pat Tillman’s Death (videos)

Who Really Took Over During That Colonoscopy By Frank Rich

Dandelion Salad
By Frank Rich
The New York Times
Go to Original
Sunday 29 July 2007

    There was, of course, gallows humor galore when Dick Cheney briefly grabbed the wheel of our listing ship of state during the presidential colonoscopy last weekend. Enjoy it while it lasts. A once-durable staple of 21st-century American humor is in its last throes. We have a new surrogate president now. Sic transit Cheney. Long live David Petraeus!

    It was The Washington Post that first quantified General Petraeus’s remarkable ascension. President Bush, who mentioned his new Iraq commander’s name only six times as the surge rolled out in January, has cited him more than 150 times in public utterances since, including 53 in May alone.

    As always with this White House’s propaganda offensives, the message in Mr. Bush’s relentless repetitions never varies. General Petraeus is the “main man.” He is the man who gives “candid advice.” Come September, he will be the man who will give the president and the country their orders about the war.

    And so another constitutional principle can be added to the long list of those junked by this administration: the quaint notion that our uniformed officers are supposed to report to civilian leadership. In a de facto military coup, the commander in chief is now reporting to the commander in Iraq. We must “wait to see what David has to say,” Mr. Bush says.

    Actually, we don’t have to wait. We already know what David will say. He gave it away to The Times of London last month, when he said that September “is a deadline for a report, not a deadline for a change in policy.” In other words: Damn the report (and that irrelevant Congress that will read it) – full speed ahead. There will be no change in policy. As Michael Gordon reported in The New York Times last week, General Petraeus has collaborated on a classified strategy document that will keep American troops in Iraq well into 2009 as we wait for the miracles that will somehow bring that country security and a functioning government.

    Though General Petraeus wrote his 1987 Princeton doctoral dissertation on “The American Military and the Lessons of Vietnam,” he has an unshakable penchant for seeing light at the end of tunnels. It has been three Julys since he posed for the cover of Newsweek under the headline “Can This Man Save Iraq?” The magazine noted that the general’s pacification of Mosul was “a textbook case of doing counterinsurgency the right way.” Four months later, the police chief installed by General Petraeus defected to the insurgents, along with most of the Sunni members of the police force. Mosul, population 1.7 million, is now an insurgent stronghold, according to the Pentagon’s own June report.

    By the time reality ambushed his textbook victory, the general had moved on to the mission of making Iraqi troops stand up so American troops could stand down. “Training is on track and increasing in capacity,” he wrote in The Washington Post in late September 2004, during the endgame of the American presidential election. He extolled the increased prowess of the Iraqi fighting forces and the rebuilding of their infrastructure.

    The rest is tragic history. Were the Iraqi forces on the trajectory that General Petraeus asserted in his election-year pep talk, no “surge” would have been needed more than two years later. We would not be learning at this late date, as we did only when Gen. Peter Pace was pressed in a Pentagon briefing this month, that the number of Iraqi battalions operating independently is in fact falling – now standing at a mere six, down from 10 in March.

    But even more revealing is what was happening at the time that General Petraeus disseminated his sunny 2004 prognosis. The best account is to be found in “The Occupation of Iraq,” the authoritative chronicle by Ali Allawi published this year by Yale University Press. Mr. Allawi is not some anti-American crank. He was the first civilian defense minister of postwar Iraq and has been an adviser to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki; his book was praised by none other than the Iraq war cheerleader Fouad Ajami as “magnificent.”

    Mr. Allawi writes that the embezzlement of the Iraqi Army’s $1.2 billion arms procurement budget was happening “under the very noses” of the Security Transition Command run by General Petraeus: “The saga of the grand theft of the Ministry of Defense perfectly illustrated the huge gap between the harsh realities on the ground and the Panglossian spin that permeated official pronouncements.” Mr. Allawi contrasts the “lyrical” Petraeus pronouncements in The Post with the harsh realities of the Iraqi forces’ inoperable helicopters, flimsy bulletproof vests and toy helmets. The huge sums that might have helped the Iraqis stand up were instead “handed over to unscrupulous adventurers and former pizza parlor operators.”

    Well, anyone can make a mistake. And when General Petraeus cited soccer games as an example of “the astonishing signs of normalcy” in Baghdad last month, he could not have anticipated that car bombs would kill at least 50 Iraqis after the Iraqi team’s poignant victory in the Asian Cup semifinals last week. This general may well be, as many say, the brightest and bravest we have. But that doesn’t account for why he has been invested by the White House and its last-ditch apologists with such singular power over the war.

    On “Meet the Press,” Lindsey Graham, one of the Senate’s last gung-ho war defenders in either party, mentioned General Petraeus 10 times in one segment, saying he would “not vote for anything” unless “General Petraeus passes on it.” Desperate hawks on the nation’s op-ed pages not only idolize the commander daily but denounce any critics of his strategy as deserters, defeatists and enemies of the troops.

    That’s because the Petraeus phenomenon is not about protecting the troops or American interests but about protecting the president. For all Mr. Bush’s claims of seeking “candid” advice, he wants nothing of the kind. He sent that message before the war, with the shunting aside of Eric Shinseki, the general who dared tell Congress the simple truth that hundreds of thousands of American troops would be needed to secure Iraq. The message was sent again when John Abizaid and George Casey were supplanted after they disagreed with the surge.

    Two weeks ago, in his continuing quest for “candid” views, Mr. Bush invited a claque consisting exclusively of conservative pundits to the White House and inadvertently revealed the real motive for the Petraeus surrogate presidency. “The most credible person in the fight at this moment is Gen. David Petraeus,” he said, in National Review’s account.

    To be the “most credible” person in this war team means about as much as being the most sober tabloid starlet in the Paris-Lindsay cohort. But never mind. What Mr. Bush meant is that General Petraeus is famous for minding his press coverage, even to the point of congratulating the ABC News anchor Charles Gibson for “kicking some butt” in the Nielsen ratings when Mr. Gibson interviewed him last month. The president, whose 65 percent disapproval rating is now just one point shy of Richard Nixon’s pre-resignation nadir, is counting on General Petraeus to be the un-Shinseki and bestow whatever credibility he has upon White House policies and pronouncements.

    He is delivering, heaven knows. Like Mr. Bush, he has taken to comparing the utter stalemate in the Iraqi Parliament to “our own debates at the birth of our nation,” as if the Hamilton-Jefferson disputes were akin to the Shiite-Sunni bloodletting. He is also starting to echo the administration line that Al Qaeda is the principal villain in Iraq, a departure from the more nuanced and realistic picture of the civil-war-torn battlefront he presented to Senate questioners in his confirmation hearings in January.

    Mr. Bush has become so reckless in his own denials of reality that he seems to think he can get away with saying anything as long as he has his “main man” to front for him. The president now hammers in the false litany of a “merger” between Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda and what he calls “Al Qaeda in Iraq” as if he were following the Madison Avenue script declaring that “Cingular is now the new AT&T.” He doesn’t seem to know that nearly 40 other groups besides Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia have adopted Al Qaeda’s name or pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden worldwide since 2003, by the count of the former C.I.A. counterterrorism official Michael Scheuer. They may follow us here well before any insurgents in Iraq do.

    On Tuesday – a week after the National Intelligence Estimate warned of the resurgence of bin Laden’s Qaeda in Pakistan – Mr. Bush gave a speech in which he continued to claim that “Al Qaeda in Iraq” makes Iraq the central front in the war on terror. He mentioned Al Qaeda 95 times but Pakistan and Pervez Musharraf not once. Two days later, his own top intelligence officials refused to endorse his premise when appearing before Congress. They are all too familiar with the threats that are building to a shrill pitch this summer.

    Should those threats become a reality while America continues to be bogged down in Iraq, this much is certain: It will all be the fault of President Petraeus.

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Prosecute US Corporate Media For War Crimes BY David Walsh (2003)

Dandelion Salad

BY David Walsh
The Greanville Journal
July 28, 2007

CLASSIC ARTICLES | Originally published April 22, 2003
The presentation of an illegal invasion of a foreign country as a “preventative” or pre-emptive war did not originate with Bush, Cheney or Rumsfeld.

The ongoing US aggression in the Middle East raises the most serious questions about the role of the mass media in modern society. In the period leading up to the invasion, the American [corporate] media uncritically advanced the Bush Administration’s arguments, rooted in lies, distortions and half-truths, for an attack on Iraq. It virtually excluded all critical viewpoints, to the point of blacking out news of mass anti-war demonstrations and any other facts that contradicted the propaganda from the White House and Pentagon.

The obvious aim was to misinform and manipulate public opinion, and convince the tens of millions within the US who were opposed to the Administration’s war policy that they constituted a small and helpless minority.

Now, as if on cue, the US media has obediently turned its attention to Syria [These days, the moving target is Iran–Eds.] evidently the next target of the US military. If the focus of the White House and Pentagon should shift to North Korea or Iran, the appropriate items will begin to appear about the dire threat represented by those regimes to the security of the American people.


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America’s ace – Without the might of the U.S. Air Force, the battle would be lost by Eric Margolis

America’s ace – Without the might of the U.S. Air Force, the battle would be lost

Dandelion Salad

Sun, July 29, 2007
Toronto Sun

Washington is buzzing with talk about withdrawing U.S. military forces from Iraq, but nobody seems to have told the United States Air Force. Far from packing their duffel bags, America’s air warriors appear to be planning a long stay in Iraq.

Why else would the USAF be expanding its air bases in Iraq, including lengthening a second 11,000-foot runway at Balad Airbase, its nerve centre for Iraq operations? Washington hopes to retain control of oil-rich Iraq by using American air power and native troops — the same formula employed by the British Empire.


The U.S. Air Force recently moved new squadrons of advanced F-16Cs and A-10 ground attack aircraft to Iraq. Powerful B-1B heavy bombers have been repositioned from Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean to the Gulf, an hour flying from central Iraq.

The $220 million B-1s, built to attack the Soviet Union, carry up to 41,000 lbs. of bombs. Their deadly accurate GPS-guided 500-lb and 1,000-lb bombs have inflicted heavy casualties on resistance fighters and, inevitably, civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Without U.S. fighters, B1 and B-52 heavy bombers, and AC-130 gunships flying top cover, over-stretched U.S. infantry in Iraq and U.S./NATO forces in Afghanistan would face defeat. Western forces could not protect their long, vulnerable supply lines against local guerillas.

U.S. and NATO bases would become little Dienbienphus. Afghanistan’s previous invaders, the British and Soviets, were defeated by their inability to protect their long lines of communications.

By contrast, the mighty USAF maintains 24-hour combat air patrols that can respond within minutes to calls from ground units, directing devastating cluster munitions, smart bombs, and cannon fire onto attackers.

Consequently, assaults on U.S. and NATO ground units are near suicidal affairs. So Iraqi and Afghan resistance forces have adopted as their weapon of choice roadside bombs command-detonated by a single fighter from a safe distance.


U.S. and NATO units, under mounting attack, are increasingly calling in close air support and bombing runs. This over-reliance on air support is causing civilian casualties to mount sharply in Afghanistan and Iraq. Guerilla forces can be suppressed and dispersed by air power, but not decisively defeated.

Whenever the U.S. and NATO claim “100 dead suspected Taliban” or “50 dead Iraqi insurgents,” many are actually dead civilians. There is no way fighter and bomber pilots can distinguish between un-uniformed fighters and civilians.

Remarkably, U.S. satellites can read licence plates through clouds, smoke, rain or foliage, and track human infrared signatures. Drones, U-2 spy planes and a fleet of electronic warfare aircraft provide unblinking, 24/7 “eyes in the sky” over almost all of Afghanistan and Iraq.

The U.S. Air Force has become to the American Imperium what the Royal Navy was to the British Empire, the source of its might, and means of power projection.

While the Royal Navy ruled the waves, the USAF can today reach and strike any point on the globe with devastating accuracy, speed and force.

In fact, the USAF is now so technologically advanced it is perhaps two generations ahead of the rest of the world. Russia has advanced technology and anti-stealth systems on the drawing board, but cannot yet afford to deploy them. Russia, China, and India are unlikely to catch up with U.S. military technology for the next 25 years — if ever.

The U.S. accounts for 50% of total global military spending, and is simply too far ahead. Only Europe could compete militarily, had it the will. In fact, America’s air power has enjoyed total air superiority since 1943.


The USAF also has the U.S. military’s smartest, best educated officers. The U.S. Army’s thankless role has become pinning down enemy units so they can be destroyed by the USAF’s smart bombs.

The only real challenge facing the USAF comes from its old enemy, the U.S. Navy, which is determined not to let the flyboys blitz its budgets and steal all the glory.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

The Cold War Between Washington and Tehran by Noam Chomsky

Dandelion Salad

by Noam Chomsky
Common Dreams
Published on Saturday, July 28, 2007 by

The following is an excerpt from Noam Chomsky’s new book Interventions published by City Lights Books.

In the energy-rich Middle East, only two countries have failed to subordinate themselves to Washington’s basic demands: Iran and Syria. Accordingly both are enemies, Iran by far the more important.

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