Mike Gravel: The End of the Draft (music video; Hype)

Dandelion Salad

August 12, 2007
From: gravel2008

In 1971, Sen. Mike Gravel of Alaska waged a one man filibuster against the Military Draft, eventually leading to its end. In 2008, Sen. Gravel is running for president.


Music Credit:
‘My Innocence’
Lies and Speeches

Produced by Youtube User PoliticalAnalysis


on Myspace

The Shift

Dandelion Salad

Aug. 12, 2007

A massive worldwide phenomenon is in progress, offering seeds of great hope for the future.

Millions of individuals, organizations and corporations around the world are waking up and embracing a new outlook with an emphasis on their responsibility to contribute positively to our collective future.

We are in the middle of the biggest social transformation in human history, The SHIFT. Continue reading

Stock Market Brushfire; Will there be a run on the banks? By Mike Whitney

Dandelion Salad

By Mike Whitney
08/12/07 “ICH

On Friday, the Dow Jone’s clawed its way back from a 200 point deficit to a mere 31 point loss after the Federal Reserve injected $38 billion into the banking system. The Fed had already pumped $24 billion into the system a day earlier after the Dow plummeted 387 points. That brings the Fed’s total commitment to a whopping $62 billion.

By some estimates, $326.3 billion has now been added to the G-7 Nations’ intra-banking system to prevent a breakdown. That amount will rise considerably in the weeks ahead as the situation continues to deteriorate. Some readers may remember that on Tuesday, August 7, the Fed announced that it was NOT planning to bail out the market.

My, how quickly things change.

So far, economic pundits and CEOs have applauded the Fed’s intervention as a “constructive” way of staving off an impending credit crisis.

Are these same “experts” who always sing the praises of unregulated “free markets” while condemning any government intervention?


The investment banks and fund mangers love “free markets” when it means eliminating the rules that prevent them to “gaming the system”. But they don’t like it so much when their shabby Ponzi-rackets start to unravel. Then they’re the first in line to beg for a bailout.

That’s what’s happening right now. The Fed is keeping the stock market afloat by increasing liquidity at the banks. If it wasn’t for Bernanke’s billions of dollars of low interest credit—the banking system and stock market would collapse in a heap. The Fed’s “not-so-invisible hand” is the only thing holding the whole dilapidated system in place.

Is that the way it’s supposed to work in a free market system—with the Fed acting as the nation’s Economic Central Planner intervening whenever it suits the interests of its wealthiest constituents?

Sounds more like a Financial Politburo, doesn’t it?

In truth, the “free market” means nothing to the men who run the system. It’s just a public relations scam designed to dupe investors into plunking their money into a system that’s rigged for the carnivores at the top of the economic food-chain.

Does anyone really believe that the market-commissars would allow the system to operate according to the arbitrary swings in investor confidence and random speculation?

This is THEIR SYSTEM and they run it THEIR WAY. The only time that changes is when their twisted schemes go haywire and they need a handout from the taxpayer. In the present case, they are asking Big Brother Bernanke to bail them out on trillions of dollars of non-performing subprime garbage-loans which masquerade as securities in the secondary market. The Fed has already indicated that it is only-too-willing to help.

But what good will it do?

The banks are currently holding (roughly) $300 billion in collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) and another $225 billion in collateralized loan obligations (CLOs) More than one-half trillion dollars in debt which is essentially “illiquid” and has no clear market value. They could be worthless for all we know.

That hasn’t stopped the Fed riding to the rescue, buying up many of these toxic CDOs and increasing banking reserves so the great fractional banking con-game can continue unabated. This is what one astute observer called “alchemy finance”.

Central banks around the world have opened up the liquidity spigots to avoid a global credit meltdown. But their efforts are bound to fail. The banks are sitting on huge losses from assets that they can’t move through the pipeline and which have gobbled up their reserves. Bloomberg News summed it up like this: “The $2 trillion market for mortgages not backed by government-sponsored agencies is at a standstill”.

The same is true of the corporate bond market. As the Wall Street Journal reported last week:

“The investment grade corporate bond market HAS GROUND TO A HALT, making it difficult for companies to access capital and hard for investors to find a place to put their money to work. ….The problems in the primary market could, if they persist, throw a wrench in the workings of corporate America, making it tougher for companies to finance, among other things, investments, buyouts and equity buybacks….For July, corporate bond issuance was down 77% from June.” (“Corporate Bond Market has come to a Standstill”, Wall Street Journal)

The mighty wheels of commerce have rusted in place. Nothing is moving. Only the sense of panic continues to grow. Trillions of dollars poisonous CDOs need to unwind, but the banks cannot put them up for bid for fear that they’ll only get pennies on the dollar. This is what a slow-motion train-wreck looks like. The Fed’s cheap credit won’t help either. At best, it’ll just buy a little time before the true value of these bonds is established and trillions of dollars in market capitalization vanish into cyber-space. Banks, equities, hedge funds, insurance companies and pension funds are all in line to suffer major losses.

The irony, of course, is that the Federal Reserve created this mess by lowering interest rates to 1% and flushing trillions of dollars into the economy. That cheap money created a series of lethal equity-bubbles in housing, credit, stocks and bonds which are quickly falling to earth. Expanding the money-supply might be a short-term fix, but it’s really just throwing more gas on the fire. Why add hyper-inflation to the long-list of existing problems?

The volatility in the stock market is a red herring. We should be paying attention to the underlying problems which are just now beginning to surface. The banks have been originating loans and bundling them off to Wall Street to avoid the normal reserve requirements. Now they’ve been “caught short” and don’t have adequate funding to cover their bets. If the Fed doesn’t help out, we’ll see at least one or two major bank closures.

This is a story that won’t appear in the media. Bank-runs are the beginning of the end—financial Armageddon.

And there’s more bad news, too. If the stock market corrects more than 10 or 15%, the massive overleveraged $1.7 trillion hedge fund industry will crash-and-burn. This may explain why the stock market has behaved so erratically recently. There have numerous late-day rallies with no good news to support the soaring equities prices. Is the market being micro-managed behind the scenes to keep it above a certain level?

Many people think so. There’s been a flood of articles about the activities of the Plunge Protection Team’s in the last two weeks. The Fed’s desperate infusions of credit into the banking system will only reinforce growing suspicions of market manipulation.


Banks routinely hedge against adverse moves in the market by purchasing various types of insurance in the form of derivatives contracts. Derivatives trading has skyrocketed in the last few years and the “British Bankers Association estimated last fall that by the end of 2006, the market for all credit derivatives was $20 trillion and expected to be $33 trillion by the end of 2008.”These relatively new instruments are about to be put to the test by worsening market conditions. “Hedge funds may account for as much as 30% of such credit protection” but that is little solace for the banks “because hedge funds that are losing money but also selling credit insurance may not be able to honor their commitments, rendering the protection worthless.” (“Insuring against Credit Risk can carry risks of its own” Henny Sender, Wall Street Journal)

Credit insurance in the form of credit default swaps have created a false sense of security that may prove to be unfounded. In fact, the Credit insurance business has probably encouraged lenders to make shakier and shakier loans believing that they were protected from risk. But that doesn’t appear to be the case. For example, Bear Stearns tried to soothe investor’s fears during the collapse of its two hedge funds by pointing to its derivatives coverage.

“Bear executives repeatedly referred to their dependence on hedges, including credit derivatives, to offset their losses on subprime mortgages and loans to poorly rated companies, stating that such hedges would offset losses.” (Ibid, H. Sender, Wall Street Journal)

We all know how that story ended up.

Derivatives have been celebrated as a critical part of the “new architecture of the financial markets”. Now we can see that they are poor-performers under real-life conditions and liable to trigger an even greater disaster. If the stock market stumbles, we can expect a major breakdown in credit insurance-trading with trillions of dollars in derivatives disappearing overnight.

The abstruse world of derivatives trading will suddenly explode onto the headlines of newspapers across the country.


The contamination from the massive real estate bubble has now infected nearly every area of the broader market. The swindle which began at the Federal Reserve–with cheap, low interest credit—has spread through the entire system and is threatening to wreak financial havoc across the planet. The Fed’s multi-billion dollar bailout will do nothing to contain the brushfire they started or avert the catastrophe that lies just ahead. Greenspan opened Pandora’s Box and we’ll all have to live with the consequences.

Exclusive Report: OH NO, NOT ANOTHER NIXON! by William Mac

Introducing my first exclusive writer for Dandelion Salad, William Mac. Please check out his website for in-depth essays on current issues, William Mac’s Blog. ~ Lo

This Week In Time

by William Mac
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
August 12, 2007

As the proverbial saying goes: we must review history or we will indeed become doomed to repeat it. There are some historical figures that are so well known that the average man or woman does not actually need review history in order to immediately know the transgressor mentioned. Should I say it? Ah, but I must: Richard Nixon. Ouch! The evil bastard of the last century, the colonel of corruption, the liaison of lies, the infamous ignoramus. We all know the name, and when the name is uttered it resounds throughout our brains like the liberty bell; it causes a cracked and dull ringing throughout our skull effectively killing off brain cells, and a migraine will probably follow. Yet, still, we all know the name. However, even though Richard Nixon is an infamous destructor of democracy, a fact nearly no one disputes, the common knowledge of ol’ Nixon has not prohibited the American people from repeating history at all. So, I’ll have to utter another name here, a name that will no doubt raise the blood pressure of those already suffering a migraine from the last name mentioned: President George W. Bush. Ouch again!

In a blog posted by Steven Lendman earlier today, and featured on our very own Dandelion Salad, he brings our attention to a book called “Cowboy Republic: Six Ways The Bush Gang Has Defied The Law” written by Marjorie Cohn. But, don’t we all know the ways in which the Bush gang has defied the law? I do, and I’m sure that it doesn’t take scholar to figure it out. Yet, I don’t think that any of this Bush bashing, as much of a release of tension and frustration it may be, will do anything for us as American people. Permeating the population’s brain waves of the Nixon evils did nothing, because we got Bush, and ringing the Bush bell will do nothing because, well, we still have Bush. We also had many other undesirable presidents; in fact almost all of them have been undesirable since the nation’s upstanding founding fathers died out long ago.

The possibility that Bush will haunt me throughout my years, just as Nixon did, is simply unacceptable. The possibility that Bush and Nixon will become my future children’s reference to all evil politicians makes me frantic, and I may just have to move to the South American coast and laze around in a hammock while sipping on an endless Margarita before The Big Fear comes and seizes my placid blue view. So, in order to cure the future migraines of America, and protect my own health, I would propose that we just forget about the man and his transgressions, and throw the “study history or you’ll be doomed to repeat it” saying in the trash along with him. There’s no use in wallowing in the mud.

The fact is that we will keep on repeating history if we keep on remaining ignorant as to the character of our political candidates in all spectrums of American government. If we remain ignorant to candidates’ previous acts, histories, involvement with secret societies, and do not thrust them into the harsh spotlight of overwhelming public scrutiny, then we will indeed repeat history despite our knowledge of previous presidents’ acts of using the Constitution as toilet paper. For if we are not educated, if we do not instill fear in all political branches and politicians therein, then we are just as guilty as them; we will be blowing our nose with the Constitution and waving it vigorously in protest towards those in office, as if they are the culprits.

We feel powerless, don’t we? We yell and scream, and scratch and claw and write books detailing the common and well-known facts about administrations and corrupt cover-ups in government. We spend endless energy complaining, but at the same time we allow ourselves to be swayed by yet more politicians telling us exactly what we want to hear. We consider ourselves liberals, conservatives, elephants or jackasses, but we forget to consider ourselves Americans; we are all Americans. We vote straight party, and like what we hear, and we walk away from the polls feeling good about ourselves. But, we didn’t do the legwork, we didn’t study the politicians, and we didn’t hang off of every word in complete skepticism because we read somewhere that he or she was the real deal, we heard what we wanted to hear, and our parents were Republicans or Democrats, and so are we now as their descendants.

Don’t get distracted with bashing Bush or harping in disdain about the degradations thrust upon us by unjust government administrations when you, me… no, we, put them there. All around me I see it happening again. I see people watching the television debates and clapping along with the sheep in the audience when the Democrats say “bring our troops home!” or when the Republicans say, “Finish the job!” Well, they aren’t Democrats, and they aren’t Republicans, they are people seeking an agenda, to think otherwise is to be ignorant.

The only way that we as Americans can stifle the line of corruption and indeed not repeat history is by getting to the root problem. The root problem is that we think that political ideologies and policies imparted verbally on behalf of politicians should be what determines our vote, or our compliance. The root problem is that we look back at the Clinton years and think it was separate from the Bush administrations that sandwiched it. The root problem is that we harp about Bush and compare him to other politicians, but don’t realize that most of our current candidates, if sworn into the presidency, would be furthering the same administration regardless of party affiliation. The root problem is our miss-education, our starry eyed party affiliation, our laziness, and the thought process that bashing Bush, and pointing out as well as remembering forever his crimes, will make us wiser in the future. The root problem is us. First we must pull ourselves out of the dirt and see the light, and then we must look around us at the weeds we’ve been choked out by for so long and get rid of them. We need to gain back our voice by first hearing and understanding the voices of those in power; we must recognize the man behind the glamour, and the hiss behind the eloquence. If not, we will surely be bitten, and the poison from those weeds, those hissing snakes will permeate once again into the whole of America and paralyze us all.

We don’t need another Nixon. To dwell upon the crimes of the Bush family, and George W. Bush’s current administration is to allow ourselves to be swayed by whom ever professes to be different. They will come in blues and reds, they’ll say “I’m not like Bush,” they’ll point out what you’ve been dwelling on so angrily and say, “I won’t do what Bush did”, and worst of all, you’ll probably believe them. Take a ganger though, because if you do, you’ll most likely find that they’re just a continuation of the same administration. Steve Lendman did point out something very important in Marjorie Cohn’s book: “Cohn notes that few Americans understand international law, or the Constitution either, for that matter, aside from some pro forma words they can recite perfunctorily but not explain.”

It’s not enough to understand the crimes, or those who committed those crimes. A deeper level of study must go into understanding our government if we are to prohibit further indignations. Party affiliations must be put aside if we are to ever grow once again as a single voice to shout down those who would rape our rights. Less importance must be put on the candidates or evil men themselves, and more importance must be put on you and your actions. Yes indeed, we don’t need another Nixon, but we do need some good Americans. Selah.


Reviewing Marjorie Cohn’s “Cowboy Republic” by Stephen Lendman

Xenophobia: a brief analysis By Dr. Habib Siddiqui

Dandelion Salad

By Dr. Habib Siddiqui
Dissident Voice

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines Xenophobia as – fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign. As can be seen, for xenophobia there are two main objects of the phobia (fear). The first is a population group present within a society, which is not considered part of that society. Often they are recent immigrants, but xenophobia may be directed against a group which has been present for centuries. This form of xenophobia can draw out or facilitate hostile and violent reactions, such as mass expulsion of immigrants, or in the worst case, genocide. The second form of xenophobia is primarily cultural, and the objects of the phobia are cultural elements which are considered alien or foreign.

Continue reading

No Light, Just Tunnel: The Bipartisan Guarantee of Continuing War in Iraq by Chris Floyd

Dandelion Salad

Written by Chris Floyd
Sunday, 12 August 2007

Our text for today is from the New York Times:

Even as they call for an end to the war and pledge to bring the troops home, the Democratic presidential candidates are setting out positions that could leave the United States engaged in Iraq for years. John Edwards, the former North Carolina senator, would keep troops in the region to intervene in an Iraqi genocide and be prepared for military action if violence spills into other countries. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York would leave residual forces to fight terrorism and to stabilize the Kurdish region in the north. And Senator Barack Obama of Illinois would leave a military presence of as-yet unspecified size in Iraq to provide security for American personnel, fight terrorism and train Iraqis.

My word, this is certainly a surprise! Who ever would have thought that the most “serious” Democratic candidates would take such a position? Why, I suppose this means that if a “serious” Democrat gets elected president, the war crime in Iraq (which is what the old-timers used to call it when you aggressively invaded a country that hadn’t attacked you and occupied their land with your troops) will go on — just the same as if a “serious” Republican gets elected!

And they say there is no unity in our politics, no bipartisan consensus in Washington!

The NYT article is a hoot and a half — or it would be, if the farce was not spattered with so much blood. Dig, if you will, this serious knitting of analytical brows:

Among the challenges the next president could face in Iraq, three seem to be resonating the most: What to do if there is a genocide? What to do if chaos in Iraq threatens to engulf the region in a wider war? And what to do if Iraq descends into further lawlessness and becomes the staging ground for terrorist attacks elsewhere, including in the United States?

Grave challenges, indeed. But why do they await the next president, when they are happening right now — when, in fact, they were guaranteed to happen as soon as the criminal action was launched?


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Welcome to the Jungle: US Military Psychological Operations by Heather Wokusch (video + article)

Dandelion Salad

August 12, 2007
From: HeatherWokusch

Interesting background on how US Psyc… Interesting background on how US Psychological Operations are used domestically. Covers Rumsfeld’s Information Operations Roadmap and current Pentagon plans to create a digital “parallel universe” to test PSYOP.


Welcome To The Jungle: US Military Psychological Operations And You

Heather Wokusch

By Heather Wokusch
featured writer
Dandelion Salad

12 August, 2007

also posted:

“…the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other.”-
Benjamin Franklin, on the Constitution, 1787

They say that if you drop a frog into a pot of boiling water it will immediately jump out, but that if you raise the pot’s heat gradually, the frog won’t react.

The US public has been on a slow boil since 2001. This administration’s rollbacks have been so consistent and so egregious that it’s no surprise many Americans feel apathetic.

And that begs the question: What exactly would it take to get the US public spurred into action?

Sentient World Simulation (SWS) may have an answer. It’s a computer-based project designed to “generate alternative futures” and no surprise, the US Defense Department is actively involved.

According to one of the project’s developers, Purdue University professor Alok Chaturvedi, “SWS will consist of a synthetic environment that mirrors the real world in all it key aspects – Political, Military, Economic, Social, Information, and Infrastructure.” The goal is to copy each person on earth into the SWS parallel universe, and then see how they respond to external events such as natural disasters or political upheavals.

The concept paper Chaturvedi co-authored additionally notes, “SWS provides an environment for testing Psychological Operations (PSYOP),” to help the military “develop and test multiple courses of action to anticipate and shape behaviors of adversaries, neutrals, and partners.”

To anticipate and shape behaviors of adversaries, neutrals, and partners.

Blurring the lines between military and civilian Psychological Operations is nothing new. In 1989, US forces in Panama blasted Guns N’ Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle” into the Vatican Embassy during negotiations for the handover of General Manuel Noriega, and from 1998-1999, US military PSYOP personnel interned at both CNN and NPR.

More recently, a 2003 Pentagon document called Information Operations Roadmap detailed the US military’s approach to exploiting information in order to “keep pace with warfighter needs and support defense transformation.” Personally approved by former Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, the document was declassified in 2006 and covers everything from the Pentagon’s plans for Computer Network Attack (“We Must Fight the Net”) to beefing up the use of Psychological Operations (“We Must Improve PSYOP”) to manipulating information through means including: “Radio/ TV/Print/ Web media designed to directly modify behavior and distributed in theater supporting military endeavors in semi or non-permissive environment.”

While The Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 forbids US propaganda intended for foreign audiences from being used domestically, Information Operations Roadmap acknowledges that “information intended for foreign audiences, including public diplomacy and PSYOP, increasingly is consumed by our domestic audience and vice-versa.”

The 2003 Pentagon document adds, “the distinction between foreign and domestic audiences becomes more a question of USG [U.S. government] intent rather than information dissemination practices.”

Perhaps that’s why a top US general ordered public affairs to be joined with combat PSYOP into one “strategic communications office” in Iraq in the summer of 2004.

Domestically, it doesn’t help that SWS and other developments in military Psychological Operations are accompanied by rollbacks in the right to dissent and bipartisan support of government surveillance of American citizens.

Makes you wish our cyberspace clones could tell us how best to fight the Matrix.

At the very least, we must become more vigilant about the ongoing use of military PSYOP and misinformation – the Pat Tillman case is a perfect example. Holding the Defense Department and media accountable for every mislead regarding the Bush administration’s military adventurism is more important than ever.

Action ideas:

1. For a great database on the Bush Administration’s misleads about Iraq head over to Rep. Henry A. Waxman’s, “Iraq on the Record.” (http://oversight.house.gov/IraqOnTheRecord/)

2. One Defense Department group particularly especially interested in these topics is The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The site of its Information Exploitation Office, for example, is focused on “shaping the battlespace before conflict” and filled with snappy computer graphics reminiscent of militaristic video games (http://dtsn.darpa.mil/ixo/). Your taxpayer dollars hard at work.

3. For media watchdog groups, visit Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (www.fair.org) and Media Matters for America (http://mediamatters.org).

4. Had enough? E-mail, call or write the President, Congress or state and local government at http://www.congress.org/congressorg/home/


Sentient world: war games on the grandest scale By Mark Baard

Shuffling Off to Crawford, 2007 Edition By Frank Rich

Dandelion Salad

By Frank Rich
The New York Times
Go to Original
Sunday 12 August 2007

The cases of Pat Tillman and Jessica Lynch were ugly enough. So surely someone in the White House might have the good taste to draw the line at exploiting the murdered Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. But nothing is out of bounds for a government that puts the darkest arts of politics and public relations above even the exigencies of war.

As Jane Mayer told the story in last week’s New Yorker, Mariane Pearl was called by Alberto Gonzales with some good news in March: the Justice Department was releasing a transcript in which the long-incarcerated Qaeda thug Khalid Sheikh Mohammed confessed to the beheading of her husband. But there was something off about Mr. Gonzales’s news. It was almost four years old.

Condoleezza Rice had called Ms. Pearl to tell her in confidence about the very same confession back in 2003; it was also reported that year in The Journal and elsewhere. What’s more, the confession was suspect; another terrorist had been convicted in the Pearl case in Pakistan in 2002. There is no known corroborating evidence that Mohammed, the 9/11 ringleader who has taken credit for many horrific crimes while in American custody, was responsible for this particular murder. None of his claims, particularly those possibly coerced by torture, can be taken as gospel solely on our truth-challenged attorney general’s say-so.

Ms. Pearl recognized a publicity ploy when she saw it. And this one wasn’t subtle. Mr. Gonzales released the Mohammed transcript just as the latest Justice Department scandal was catching fire, with newly disclosed e-mail exchanges revealing the extent of White House collaboration in the United States attorney firings. Had the attorney general succeeded in enlisting Daniel Pearl’s widow as a player in his stunt, it might have diverted attention from a fracas then engulfing President Bush on his Latin American tour.

Though he failed this time, Mr. Gonzales’s P.R. manipulation of the war on terror hasn’t always been so fruitless. To upstage increasingly contentious Congressional restlessness about Iraq in 2006, he put on a widely viewed show to announce an alleged plot by men in Miami to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago and conduct a “full ground war.” He said at the time the men “swore allegiance to Al Qaeda” but, funnily enough, last week this case was conspicuously missing from a long new White House “fact sheet” listing all the terrorist plots it had foiled.

The Gonzales antics are, of course, in the tradition of an administration with a genius for stirring up terror nightmares at politically opportune times, like just before the Democratic convention in 2004. The Sears Tower scenario came right out of the playbook of his predecessor, John Ashcroft. In 2002, Mr. Ashcroft waited a full month to announce the Chicago arrest of the “dirty bomber” Jose Padilla – suddenly commandeering TV cameras in the middle of a trip to Moscow so that this tardy “news” could drown out the damning pre-9/11 revelations from the F.B.I. whistleblower Coleen Rowley. Since then, the dirty bomb in the Padilla case has evaporated much like Mr. Gonzales’s Sears Tower extravaganza.

Now that the administration is winding down and the Qaeda threat is at its scariest since 2001, one might hope that such stunts would cease. Indeed, two of the White House’s most accomplished artificial-reality Imagineers both left their jobs last month: Scott Sforza, the former ABC News producer who polished up the “Mission Accomplished” spectacle, and Peter Feaver, the academic specialist in wartime public opinion who helped conceive the 35-page National Security Council document that Mr. Bush unveiled as his Iraq “Plan for Victory” in November 2005.

Mr. Feaver’s document used the word victory six times in its table of contents alone, and was introduced by a speech at the Naval Academy in which Mr. Bush invoked “victory” 15 times while standing on a set bedecked with “Plan for Victory” signage. Alas, it turned out that victory could not be achieved merely by Orwellian incantation, so the plan was scrapped only 13 months later for the “surge.” But while Mr. Feaver and his doomed effort to substitute propaganda for action may now be gone, the White House’s public relations strategies for the war, far from waning, are again gathering steam, to America’s peril.

This came into sharp focus last weekend, when our military disclosed, very quietly and with a suspicious lack of accompanying White House fanfare, that it had killed a major terror culprit in Iraq, Haythem Sabah al-Badri. Never heard of him? Usually this administration oversells every death of a terrorist leader. It underplayed Badri’s demise for a reason. The fine print would further expose the fictional new story line that has been concocted to rebrand and resell the Iraq war as a battle against Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda – or, as Mr. Bush now puts it, “the very same folks that attacked us on September the 11th.”

To understand how, revisit the president’s trial run of this new narrative, when he announced the surge in January. Mr. Bush had to explain why his previous “Plan for Victory” had gone belly up so quickly, so he came up with a new premise that absolved him of blame. In his prime-time speech, the president implied that all had been on track in Iraq after the country’s December 2005 elections until Feb. 22, 2006, when one of the holiest Shiite shrines, the gold-domed mosque in Samarra, was blown up. In this revisionist history, that single terrorist act set off the outbreak of sectarian violence in Iraq now requiring the surge.

This narrative was false. Shiite death squads had been attacking Sunnis for more than a year before the Samarra bombing. The mosque attack was not a turning point. It was merely a confirmation of the Iraqi civil war that Mr. Bush refuses to acknowledge because American voters don’t want their troops in the middle of one.

But that wasn’t the only new plot point that the president advanced in his surge speech. With no proof, Mr. Bush directly attributed the newly all-important Samarra bombing to “Al Qaeda terrorists and Sunni insurgents,” cementing a rhetorical sleight of hand he had started sketching out during the midterm election season.

In fact, no one has taken credit for the mosque bombing to this day. But Iraqi government officials fingered Badri as the culprit. (Some local officials told The Washington Post after the bombing that Iraqi security forces were themselves responsible.) Since Badri is a leader of a tiny insurgent cell reportedly affiliated with what the president calls “Al Qaeda in Iraq,” Mr. Bush had the last synthetic piece he needed to complete his newest work of fiction: 1) All was hunky-dory with his plan for victory until the mosque was bombed. 2) “Al Qaeda in Iraq” bombed the mosque. 3) Ipso facto, America must escalate the war to defeat “Al Qaeda in Iraq,” those “very same folks that attacked us on September the 11th.”

As a growing chorus of critics reiterates, “Al Qaeda in Iraq” is not those very same folks. It did not exist on 9/11 but was a product of the Iraq war and accounts for only a small fraction of the Sunni insurgency. It is not to be confused with the resurgent bin Laden network we’ve been warned about in the latest National Intelligence Estimate. But this factual issue hasn’t deterred Mr. Bush. He has merely stepped up his bogus conflation of the two Qaedas by emphasizing all the “foreign leaders” of “Al Qaeda in Iraq,” because that might allow him to imply they are bin Laden emissaries. In a speech in Charleston, S.C., on July 24, he listed a Syrian, an Egyptian, a Tunisian, a Saudi and a Turk.

Against the backdrop of this stepped-up propaganda blitz, Badri’s death nine days later was an inconvenient reminder of the hole in the official White House narrative. Mr. Bush couldn’t do his usual victory jig over Badri’s demise because there’s no way to pass off Badri as a link to bin Laden. He was born in Samarra and was a member of Saddam’s Special Republican Guard.

If Badri was responsible for the mosque bombing that has caused all our woes in Iraq and forced us to stay there, then the president’s story line falls apart. Far from having any connection to bin Laden’s Qaeda, the Samarra bombing was instead another manifestation of the Iraqi civil war that Mr. Bush denies. No wonder the same White House “fact sheet” that left out Mr. Gonzales’s foiled Sears Tower plot and, for that matter, Jose Padilla, also omitted Badri’s name from its list of captured and killed “Senior Al Qaeda Leaders.” Surely it was a coincidence that this latest statement of official Bush administration amnesia was released on Aug. 6, the sixth anniversary of the President’s Daily Brief titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.”

And so the president, firm in his resolve against “Al Qaeda in Iraq,” heads toward another August break in Crawford while Al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan remains determined to strike in America. No one can doubt Mr. Bush’s triumph in the P.R. war: There are more American troops than ever mired in Iraq, sent there by a fresh round of White House fictions. And the real war? The enemy that did attack us six years ago, sad to say, is likely to persist in its nasty habit of operating in the reality-based world that our president disdains.

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A Brief Commentary On Financial Crises by J. R. Nyquist

Dandelion Salad

by J. R. Nyquist
Aug. 10, 2007

A financial crash is more than an economic glitch. It leads into dangerous political territory. It can trigger revolutions. Financial distress in the 1780s led to the French Revolution. Financial distress brought the Nazis and Japanese militarists to power before World War II. A financial earthquake may cause a political earthquake. A political earthquake, in turn, can set off a revolution, civil war, or even a world war. This is what history teaches.

It is economic distress that drives the average man to despair. Financial calamity changes his political outlook from cool detachment to naked fear. This signals opportunity to the political opportunist, the fanatic and the demagogue. These will always play on fear. America is a country that has enjoyed prosperity, and this has contributed to political moderation. The center holds as long as the economy runs smoothly. We do not know, however, what the effect of a major crash would have on an ethnically divided welfare society with an aging population supplemented by a rapidly growing foreign work force.

Then there are international and geopolitical consequences: Europe is economically tied to America. Money flows from one country to another, and so does financial trouble. This week the European Central Bank reached for $130 billion in emergency funds. The markets are jittery. Europe is nervous. American real estate prices are falling. There are growing losses connected with U.S. mortgages. The solution of lower U.S. interest rates is not an option because of Chinese threats to sink the dollar.


h/t: Speaking Truth to Power

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GM Courts Talk Radio Hosts by Ralph Nader

Dandelion Salad

by Ralph Nader
Friday, August 10. 2007

Just when one guesses that the standards and practices of national talk radio could go no lower, General Motors comes along to show the way to new lows.

Automotive News (August 6, 2007), the leading trade journal for the industry, reports that GM is wooing the radio stars. Its article led with the headline: “Puff Piece. Rush Limbaugh is one of the radio personalities GM is working with to talk up its vehicles.”

Reporter Mary Connelly writes that “GM says it doesn’t pay the stars directly for their endorsements, although it advertises on their shows. It gives them new GM cars and trucks to drive for two weeks each month. The company also invites the celebrities to Detroit for private meetings with top executives and VIP tours of GM facilities. The attention is paying off.”

Sam Mancuso, GM’s director of brand marketing alliances, told Ms. Connelly that his company made contact with 17 national radio hosts along with numerous local talk show personalities in cities such as Dallas and Los Angeles.

Mr. Mancuso is pleased with the results. The talkers are talking up GM vehicles on their programs—no doubt encouraged by GM’s ample advertising budget on those same stations.

He emphasized that GM does not give these radio celebrities any scripts. Which allows for the kind of impromptu creativity that he said reflects a “real emotional connection” with an audience that “knows they are being genuine.”

This is just what you need to know about a company’s engineered vehicles—words which flow from an emotional connection garnished with free use of vehicles and other freebies!

Take Rush Limbaugh’s effusions to his dittoheads: “GM has a ton of momentum,” he exhaled, “GM cars and trucks have never been better.” This assertion doesn’t tell his followers much, however, inasmuch as GM’s cars have never been hard acts to follow.

But the Rush doesn’t stop there. He waxes further: “They [GM] are working hard and they are thinking smart. Believe in General Motors, folks.”

Before you can aspire to do that, you have to believe in Limbaugh and all the other talkers – takers of GM’s largess. Atom Smasher, a modestly named Dallas disc jockey, was positively oozing on the air: “I am driving around in this Cadillac, and I am not going to want to give it back – the Cadillac SRX…. To all the guys at GM: Good job.”

His crosstown colleague, Chris Ryan, might as well have been crossing over to his advertising buddies and doing the ad. But this was not ad time. This was program time when he declared: “Have you seen all the cool things that’s going on at GM? I have. If you’re thinking about a new car, you got to look at GM.”

The auto industry has long been brazen when it comes to using its advertising clout. Way back when he was in Dayton, Ohio, Phil Donahue was cut off from car dealer ads after having a program on car dealer deception.

The Washington Post found local auto dealers going over to its smaller competitor, The Washington Star years ago, after a Post columnist tore into car dealer fraud. The dealers made it possible for the Star to start an auto puff section with their ads.

More than a few talk show hosts already read their station’s ads. That’s not enough. GM, viewing the inundation of product placements in movies, is pushing the envelope of advertising integration through talk radio program content.

What is surprising is that GM purportedly enlisted not only the expected suspects like Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Bill O’Reilly but also Bill Press and Ed Schultz, known for their liberal views. Attempts to reach Press, Schultz and Hannity were unsuccessful. Surely, they will be explaining their relationship shortly.

In the radio music disc jockey world, taking such freebies would be considered payola to push songs. Under Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules, such gifts would be illegal.

So, what about the talk radio arena? Good question. If the freebies are fully and regularly disclosed, then maybe there is a distinction between what is unlawful and what is unethical.

In any event, the FCC needs to investigate. Secretary of Commerce, Herbert Hoover, later to become President in the nineteen twenties, called radio “a public trust.” He believed the public airwaves, being owned by the people, should convey no advertisements whatsoever.

What a gap between the arch-conservative, Herbert Hoover, and today’s so-called conservative talk show gabbers!
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Reviewing Marjorie Cohn’s “Cowboy Republic” by Stephen Lendman

Dandelion Salad

by Stephen Lendman
Aug 9, 2007

Marjorie Cohn is a distinguished law professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego where she’s taught since 1991 and is the current president of the National Lawyers Guild. She’s also been a criminal defense attorney at the trial and appellate levels, is an author, and has written many articles for professional journals, other publications, and for noted web sites such as Global Research, ZNet, CounterPunch, AfterDowning Street, Common Dreams, AlterNet and others. Her long record of achievements, distinctions and awards is broad and varied for her teaching, writing and her work as a lawyer and activist for peace, social and economic justice.

Cohn’s latest book just published, and subject of this review, is titled “Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law.” It provides a thorough, impressive and incisive account of the most important ways the Bush administration defied, defiled and weakened the rule of law and by so doing hurtled the nation toward tyranny. This book is an essential guide to their lawless record, its threat to the nation and world, and the desperate need to confront it, challenge it and remove it from office before it’s too late. The stakes couldn’t be greater – the fate of the republic hangs by a thread as well as all humanity if people of conscience fail to act and swiftly. Cohn’s book lays out the problem clearly. The rest is up to us.

Richard Falk, Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University, introduces what’s to follow in his brief introduction to Cohn’s book. In it, he states the most important lesson of the disastrous Iraq war is that “adherence to international law serves the national (as well as) human interest in time of war.” More than at any other time, with the nation at war, US presidents can practically operate as dictators outside the normally constraining check and balancing influences of the other two branches of government, when they choose to use them.


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