the Coup – “Ride the Fence” By Manila Ryce (video)

Dandelion Salad

By Manila Ryce
Published Monday, July 30th, 2007, 6:54 pm

On Friday I posted a poem by Taalam Acey, which was animated by Haik Hoisington. Tonight I bring you another political animation by Haik, done for The Coup. Some of you may remember one of their live performances which we posted here. The Coup definitely deserve respect and recognition for keeping their message pure and true for so long. I’m dedicating this song to all my delusional blogger friends who still toe the line for the corporate-sponsored idols of the Democratic Party. Hopefully, one day the blogosphere will wake up, and collectively realize its full power to change things.

The Sneaky War on American Motorists by Ted Rall

Dandelion Salad

by Ted Rall
07/31/2007

SPEED KILLS (YOUR WALLET)
NEW YORK

It was a beautiful afternoon in early autumn, and for an instant I mistook the brightly colored lights flashing in my rearview mirror for streaks of sunlight filtering through gently turning leaves. But only for an instant. Just past a curve on a steady downgrade a sign announced the end of the 55 mile-per-hour state speed limit and the beginning of the town 40. I hit the brakes but it was too late. That’s the purpose of a speed trap. Sixty-two in a 40, the policeman said.

Speeding tickets have always been a pain in the butt. You pay about $150, and if your insurance company chooses to be mean it uses the three fresh points on your license to justify a rate hike. In a recent legal transformation that has quietly gathered steam across the United States, however, getting caught speeding has become far more traumatic.

A year before the incident related above, a state trooper had plucked me out of a cluster of vehicles on the Long Island Expressway, dinging me for 72 in a 55(heavy volume had slowed traffic from its typical average of 80) That earned me a $185 fine plus six points–a point hike up from the long-standing three. A few months later the Department of Motor Vehicles sent me a letter notifying me that I owed an additional $300–bringing the total fine to $485–for a “driver responsibility assessment.” The 2004 law establishing the additional fees was passed in greater secrecy than the USA Patriot Act; even this devourer of three newspapers a day hadn’t heard of it.


Continued…

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Nightmare on Main Street: More on Bush’s Anti-Dissent Order by Chris Floyd

Dandelion Salad

Written by Chris Floyd
Monday, 30 July 2007

I think we are in rats’ alley
Where the dead men lost their bones
—Eliot
We wrote recently here of Bush’s new executive order granting himself and his minions the arbitrary power to seize the entire assets of any American citizen – without warning, without any criminal charges whatsoever – solely by declaring that their victim somehow poses an unspecified threat to “the peace or stability of Iraq” or else is “undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq.” In other words, Bush now claims the power to strip you of your assets if you oppose American policy in Iraq.

This latest tyrannical outburst from the Outrager-in-Chief has passed largely without notice. Even some of the Administration’s fiercest critics have downplayed its significance. The always-admirable Dave Neiwert at Orcinus has been among the skeptics, on the reasonable grounds that right-wing militia groups were forever reading vast conspiracies into ordinary government decrees in the 1990s, and that one should wait for more informed legal analyses before leaping to scarifying conclusions. Fair enough – although Dave himself has done as much as anyone out there in detailing the extremism of the Bush Regime and its supporters. To his credit, Dave has kept an open mind on the question, and co-blogger at Orcinus, Sara Robinson, has taken a far darker view of the executive order.

Now Dave has featured a long – and highly disturbing – piece of informed legal analysis of the order from one of his regular commenters, attorney Den Valdron. who draws out the very dangerous implications of the order’s wording in convincing detail. Perhaps most disturbing is Valdron’s insight that the executive order doesn’t even have to be formally invoked in order to have a chilling effect on political dissent. Just its mere existence – and the ever-present threat of social and legal obliteration that it represents – will be enough to quell all but the hardiest opponents of the Leader’s criminal rampage in Iraq.

Continued…

see:

The Legal Pervert’s Parade: Executive Privilege Über Alles + Bringing It All Back Home: New Bush Order Could Criminalize Dissent by Chris Floyd

Bush Executive Order: Criminalizing the Antiwar Movement by Prof. Michel Chossudovsky

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.

Americans Stuck In Political Stupor by Joel S. Hirschhorn

Dandelion Salad

by Joel S. Hirschhorn
Atlantic Free Press
Monday, 30 July 2007

The latest bipartisan George Washington University Battleground Poll rightfully received media attention because of its depressing data. There is historic political pessimism and cynicism. But something is more troubling than the data on the dire views of Americans about their elected representatives and government. It is that 72 percent of voters still believe that “voting gives people like me some say about how the government runs things.” Unbelievable! Such confidence in a system that has failed them.

Despite untrustworthy elected officials and a dysfunctional government that takes care of the Upper Class more than everyone else, Americans retain still believe in their democracy. This logical absurdity – or delusional state – is best explained by avoidance of the pain of cognitive dissonance. Americans resist the reality that they are living in a sham representative democracy where the rule of law is a growing fiction…

It should be noted (but was not in the media coverage) that 75 percent of the likely voters were 45 or older, with a third retired. That makes the results even more unsettling. They should know better than to keep believing they can vote the nation into a better condition. Self-identified Republicans were 41 percent, Democrats 42 percent, and Independents 15 percent

Consider these reasons for giving up on voting and elections under the grip of the two major parties: Some 53 percent have an unfavorable view of politicians, with 55 percent believing that most elected officials are untrustworthy. A majority of 52 percent disapproves of the performance of the Democrats in Congress and 61 percent disapprove of Republicans there. An incredible 93 percent feels that lawmakers in Washington put partisan politics first compared with citizens. But the biggest shift in voter opinion is that 71percent think their own Member of Congress puts partisan politics first compared with them, with 63 percent feeling strongly that way.

For the big picture: Seventy-percent are now convinced that the country is off on the wrong track – and 58 percent feel strongly that way. This is the worst score recorded in the history of the Battleground survey. Democrats are universally agreed about this point, but so are 71 percent of Independents and 49 percent of Republicans.

A plurality of 38 percent believes their children will be worse off in the future and only a third said they “think their own children will be better off than they are right now — a drop of 7 points since January.” Pessimism is worst among white Americans: Only 29 percent believe that their children will be better off; 38 percent believe their children will be worse off.

Dan Balz of the Washington Post summed up: “the American people have entered this campaign with a wholly cynical view of the political process.”

One trick of the political status quo establishment to keep many Americans (but still less than about half of all eligible voters) believing in voting is advertising. Consider the current crowded presidential primary season. The mass media constantly work to play up the races among Democratic and Republican contenders. Why not? They make a ton of money from all the money spent on campaign advertising. Televised debates and endless state and national poll data are entertainment that fuel fake competition. It is sheer manipulation of the electorate – to keep them interested in the election and, worse, to keep them believing that it really matters who wins in each party.

In the end, greedy and arrogant power elites will ensure that only a “safe” candidate will be chosen so that the two-party duopoly loses no power and no presidency rocks the political boat or harms corporate America. Having so many contenders in the primary season is a farce. The eventual Democratic ticket will be Clinton and Obama. Period. End of story. It is the lowest risk, smartest political strategy. On the Republican side there is more uncertainty, but the likely ticket will be Giuliani and Thompson.

The true wildcard is whether Michael Bloomberg enters the race as a third party candidate. I am rooting for this. Objective statistical analysis of the American electorate shows that the level of public discontent with Democrats and Republicans is so high that a lavishly funded campaign by Bloomberg can make history. Take independents, turned-off Democrats and Republicans, and the huge numbers of eligible voters that do not usually vote. Bang! You have more than enough votes to make Bloomberg president. By choosing a well known but political maverick that the public trusts as a running mate, he can win. It is exactly the kind of shake-up our political system desperately needs.

Americans must awake from their political stupor and stop letting themselves be victimized and manipulated by the media/political/financial elites running and ruining our nation.

[Joel S. Hirschhorn is the author of Delusional Democracy, www.delusionaldemocracy.com, and a founder of Friends of the Article V Convention, www.foavc.org.]

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.

Every child left behind? By Rick Perlstein

Dandelion Salad

By Rick Perlstein

The part that worries me most about the Foreclosing of America’s new home abandonment phenomenon is the effect on our schools. American public schools are largely financed by local property taxes. That’s bad enough on its own—one of the most savage inequalities in the entire system: it means that if you can’t afford to buy into a nice neighborhood, your child’s “equality of opportunity” gets strafed. Now, a spiral unto apocalypse: what happens to the school systems in communities where the net assessed values of the homes has tanked?

Is anyone in Washington prepared to do something about this? Anyone?

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.

Seek Justice Against Chiquita by Kyle de Beausse

Dandelion Salad

by Kyle de Beausse
Immigration Orange

I’ve reached the next modest benchmark in my campaign to raise awareness about Chiquita. 20 blogs have educated their readers about Chiquita pleading guilty to paying almost $2 million to recognized terrorists groups in Colombia. I would like to use this opportunity to make a humble plea for help, and put forth a passionate defense about why this cause is the right one to take on.

It was an article in the Christian Science Monitor that inspired me to act. This article made clear that Chiquita was not only paying protection payments, but it might have actually been providing actual physical support by transporting over 3,000 assault rifles. It also made the human costs of funding paramilitary organizations very clear to me. Since reading this article I have become even more convinced of the necessity to raise awareness about this injustice and take action.

I’m not going to play any games in this post. The primary reason I think it is important to act on this is because I believe this case illustrates global inequity more than any other. This inequity that is not only tacitly accepted, but is actively enforced by the governments of our nations. The citizens of different nations are not born equal and I believe this campaign has the potential to bring this reality to light and inspire people to do something about it.

Continued…

A Warning to Tony Blair By Uri Avnery

Dandelion Salad

By Uri Avnery
Tel Aviv.

07/30/07 “ICH

Last week, James Wolfensohn gave a long interview to Haaretz. He poured out his heart and summed up, with amazing openness, his months as special envoy of the US, Russia, the EU and the UN (the “Quartet”) in this country – the same job entrusted now to Tony Blair. The interview could have been entitled “A Warning to Tony”. Among other revelations, he disclosed that he was practically fired by the clique of Neo-cons, whose ideological leader is Paul Wolfowitz.

What Wolfensohn and Wolfowitz have in common is that both are Jews and have the same name: Son of Wolf, one in the German version and the other in the Russian one. Also, both are past chiefs of the World Bank.

But that’s where the similarity ends. These two sons of the wolf are opposites in almost all respects. Wolfensohn is an attractive person, who radiates personal charm. Wolfowitz arouses almost automatic opposition. This was made clear when they served, successively, at the World Bank: Wolfensohn was very popular, Wolfowitz was hated. The term of the first was renewed, a rare accolade, the second was dumped at the earliest opportunity, ostensibly because of a corruption affair: he had arranged an astronomical salary for his girl friend.

Wolfensohn could be played by Peter Ustinov. He is a modern Renaissance man: successful businessman, generous philanthropist, former Olympic sportsman (fencing) and Air Force officer (Australia). In middle age he took up the cello (under the influence of Jacqueline du Pre). The role of Wolfowitz demands no more finesse than that of the average gunman in a western.

But beyond personal traits, there is a profound ideological chasm between them. To me, they personify the two opposite extremes of contemporary Jewish reality.

Wolfensohn belongs to the humanist, universal, optimistic, world-embracing trend in Judaism, a man of peace and compromise, an heir to the wisdom of generations. Wolfowitz, at the other end, belongs to the fanatical Judaism that has grown up in the State of Israel and the communities connected with it, a man of overbearing arrogance, hatred and intoxication of power. He is a radical nationalist, even if it is not quite clear whether it is American or Israeli nationalism, or if he even distinguishes between the two.

Wolfowitz is a standard-bearer of the neo-cons, most of them Jews, who pushed the US into the Iraqi morass, promote wars all over the Middle East, advise the Israeli Prime Minister not to give up anything and are ready to fight to the last Israeli soldier.

To avoid misunderstanding: I don’t know either of the two personally. I have never seen Wolfowitz in person, and heard Wolfensohn only once, at a Jerusalem meeting of the Israeli Council for Foreign Relations. I admit that I liked him on sight.

Wolfensohn arrived in this country some months before the “separation plan” of Ariel Sharon. He says now that the separation would have succeeded “if the withdrawal had been accompanied by the second part of the separation, which, according to my understanding, would have created an independent entity that would become a Palestinian state.” He believes (mistakenly, I think) that this was the intent of Sharon, whom, unlike his successor as Prime Minister, he respects.

Wolfensohn envisioned a blooming Gaza Strip, flourishing economically, open in all directions, a model to the West Bank and a basis for the new state. To this purpose he raised eight billion dollars. Unlike other idealists, he invested several millions of his own money in the greenhouses left behind by the settlers, hoping to turn them into the basis of the Palestinian economy.

He stood at Condoleezza Rice’s side during the signing ceremony for the document that was to prepare the way to a brilliant future: the agreement for the opening of the border crossings. The crossings between the Strip and Israel were to be again wide open, Israel undertook to fulfill at long last the obligation it took upon itself in the Oslo agreement (and has violated ever since): to open the vital passage between Gaza and the West Bank. On the border between the Strip and Egypt, a European unit was already taking control.

And then the whole edifice collapsed. The passage between the Strip and the West Bank remained hermetically sealed. The other border crossings were closed more and more frequently. The products of the greenhouses (together with Wolfensohn’s investment) went down the drain. The frail economy of the Strip disintegrated altogether, most of the 1.4 million inhabitants descended into misery, with 50 per cent and more unemployment. The inevitable result was the ascent of Hamas.

Wolfensohn’s complaint stresses the immense importance of the border crossings. Their closure – ostensibly for security reasons – spelled death to the Gaza economy, and, by extension, to the hope for peaceful relations between Israel and the Palestinians. Before the Hamas victory, Wolfensohn saw with his own eyes the awful corruption that governed the crossings. Relations between Israelis and Palestinians there were openly based on bribery. The Palestinian products could not cross without payment being made to the people in control on both sides.

Wolfensohn lays at least some of the responsibility for the ascent of Hamas on the Palestinian Authority – meaning Fatah – which was infected by the cancer of corruption. The victory of Hamas in the democratic elections both in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip did not surprise him at all.

What caused this idealistic person to resign?

He puts the main blame on one person, who belongs to the clique of Wolfowiz: Elliott Abrams. Like Wolfowitz, Abrams is a Jew, a neo-con, a radical Zionist beloved by the Israeli Right. He was appointed by President Bush as deputy advisor for national security, responsible for the Middle East. With this appointment, Wolfensohn says, “all the elements of the agreement achieved by Condoleezza Rice were destroyed”. The passages were closed, Hamas took over.

Wolfensohn accuses Abrams openly of undermining him, in order to get him out. True, the Quartet is not under the authority of Abrams, but a person in this position cannot function without solid American support. Abrams pushed him out in cooperation with Ehud Olmert and Dov Weisglass, Sharon’s confidant, whose plans were menaced by Wolfensohn’s activity. It was Weisglass, it will be remembered, who promised to “put the Palestinian issue in formaldehyde.”

In the eyes of Wolfensohn, both sides are to blame for the current situation, but he clearly blames Israel more, since it is the stronger and more active party. No doubt, Israel is very important for him. He had a lot of sympathy for it (In World War I, his father was a soldier in the Jewish battalions which were set up by the British army and sent to Palestine.) He gave the interview to the Israeli paper in order to voice a severe warning: time is not working for us.

The demographic clock is ticking. Today, Israel is surrounded by some 350 million Arabs. In another 15 years, it will be surrounded by 700 million. “I don’t see any argument that supports the idea the Israel’s situation will get better.”

As an expert on the global economy, with a world-wide perspective, Wolfensohn could also point out that the importance of the US in the world economy is gradually declining, with new giants like China and India rising.

We, the Israelis, like to think that we are the center of the world. Wolfensohn, a person with a world-wide outreach, sticks a pin into this egocentric balloon. Already now, he says, only the West considers the Israeli-Palestinian issue so important. Most of the world is indifferent. “I have visited more than 140 countries: you are not such a big deal there.”

Even this limited interest will also evaporate. Wolfensohn rubs salt into the wound: “A moment will come when the Israelis and the Palestinians will be compelled to understand that they are a secondary performance … The Israelis and the Palestinians must get rid of the idea that they are a Broadway performance. They are only a play in the Village. Off-off-off-off-off Broadway.” Knowing that this is the worst one can tell an Israeli, he adds: “I hope that I am not getting into trouble by saying this, but, what the hell, that’s what I believe, and I am already 73 years old.”

I do believe him – and I, what the hell, am already 83.
The metaphor from the world of theater looks to me even more apt that Wolfensohn himself imagines.

What is happening now to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is mostly theater, and not the best in town.

The actors drink from empty glasses, recite texts that nobody believes, put on false smiles and embrace heartily while loathing each other.

The best scene so far was the Gaza “separation”. Contrary to Wolfensohn’s belief, it was merely a performance, melodrama at its best, directed by Sharon and the chiefs of the settlers, the army and the police. Many tears, many embraces, many sham battles. This week the performance was again in the media, with a huge propaganda machine trying to show how immense was the pain, how the poor evacuees have remained without villas, how many more billions will still be needed. The intended conclusion: it is impossible to dismantle the settlements in the West Bank.

The new actor on the stage, Tony Blair, is exuding charm and joviality, embracing and kissing. We, the audience, know that his lot will be exactly like that of his predecessor. Like him, he is the “special envoy of the Quartet”. His terms of reference are exactly the same as those of Wolfensohn before him: much of nothing. He is supposed to help the Palestinians to build “democratic institutions”, after the US and Israel have systematically destroyed the democratic institutions that were set up after the last Palestinian elections.

He has embraced Olmert, kissed Tzipi Livni, smiled at Ehud Barak, and we know that all three of them will do their utmost to disrupt his mission before he reaches a position that would enable him to realize his real dream: to conduct peace negotiations, as he successfully did in Northern Ireland.

All that is happening now is theater. Olmert pretends that he really wants to “save Abu Mazen”, while doing the opposite. At Bush’s request, he allowed the transfer of a thousand rifles, with a lot of fanfare, from Jordan to Abbas, so he can fight Hamas – understanding full well that to an ordinary Palestinian this will look like collaboration with the occupier against the resistance. He enlarges the settlements, keeps the “illegal outposts” and closes his eyes while the army is helping the settlers to put up more outposts. That is a foolproof recipe for a Hamas takeover in the West Bank, too.

Everybody knows that there is only one way to strengthen Abu Mazen: immediately to start rapid and practical negotiations for the establishment of the State of Palestine in all the occupied territories, with its capital in East Jerusalem. Not more discussions about abstract ideas, as proposed by Olmert, not another plan (No. 1001), not a “peace process” that will lead to “new political horizons”, and certainly not another hollow fantasy of that grand master of sanctimonious hypocrisy, President Shimon Peres.

The next scene of the play, for which all the actors are now learning their lines, is the “international meeting” this autumn, according to the screenplay by President Bush. Condoleezza will chair, and it is doubtful whether Tony, the new actor, will be allowed to take part. The playwrights are still deliberating.

If all the world is a stage, as Shakespeare wrote, and all the men and women merely players who have their exits and their entrances, that is true even more for Israel and Palestine. Sharon exited and Olmert entered, Wolfensohn exited and Blair entered, and everything is, as Sakespeare wrote in another play, “words, words, words.”

Wolfensohn can view the next parts of the play with philosophical detachment. We, who are involved, cannot afford that, because our comedy is really a tragedy.

Uri Avnery is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom.

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.

Building Circles Of Community: “Lone Rangers” Cannot Survive Collapse By Carolyn Baker

Dandelion Salad

By Carolyn Baker
Saturday, 28 July 2007

The inexorable reality is that any community that does not process feelings and build trust by doing so…is NOT, I repeat, NOT sustainable.

A treasure trove of information pertaining to preparation for collapse can be found on the internet and in libraries throughout the world. Earlier this year I reviewed Mick Winter’s book on preparing for Peak Oil and have since posted on my site Stan Goff’s piece on “35 Ways To Prepare For Peak Oil” My own article, “What To Do, What To Do?” addresses preparation for collapse from yet another perspective. Websites such as Matt Savinar’s Life After The Oil Crash, Energy Bulletin, and Post-Carbon Institute offer ongoing suggestions for preparation as well. Yet the one topic which receives almost no attention is the notion of how individuals create community in the face of the collapse of civilization. This is curious since, in my opinion, all individuals raised in the culture of empire are deeply wounded emotionally and spiritually and have little experience of living harmoniously in community. In fact, more often than not, people who are preparing for collapse tell me that their experiences with attempting to create and maintain community have been disappointing at best and disastrous at worst, so it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out why so few people address the topic.

Much talk of ecovillages and intentional communities abounds among collapse watchers, and in many of such venues that have actually been created, a significant amount of time is devoted to community building-sometimes a minimum of three hours per day. One may wonder how anything else can get done when people sit in community circles that many hours. Who plants and weeds the garden? Who cooks? Who washes dishes and empties garbage into the compost?

What many communities have discovered is that community building requires so much time that its members must have “sprung themselves” from the system to such an extent that they have the time required to devote three or four hours per day to sitting in a circle and processing feelings and making decisions about the community’s well being. What does not work well, experience tells us, is a community in which people share residence but are still chained to a system in which they must commute to exhausting jobs, return to their groovy ecovillage, and have little or no time or energy left to do the emotional work necessary to sustain it.

Continued…

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 Fear Factor by Rep. Ron Paul

Dandelion Salad

by Rep. Ron Paul
Antiwar.com
July 31, 2007

While fear itself is not always the product of irrationality, once experienced, it tends to lead away from reason, especially if the experience is extreme in duration or intensity. When people are fearful they tend to be willing to irrationally surrender their rights.
Thus, fear is a threat to rational liberty. The psychology of fear is an essential component of those who would have us believe we must increasingly rely on the elite who manage the apparatus of the central government.

The statement “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety” has been attributed to Benjamin Franklin. It is clear, people seek out safety and security when they are in a state of fear, and it is the result of this psychological state that often leads to the surrender of liberty.

Continued…

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.