Iowa Dem Debate Highlights (video link) + Iowa Presidential Forum Poll (updated poll results)

Dandelion Salad

originally posted: August 19, 2007 @ 11:54

Iowa Dem Debate Highlights

(warning: complete with commercials)

Vote for the winner of the debate:

Vote in the Iowa Presidential Forum Poll

Who do you think won the Democratic debate?

Barack Obama
3,287
Hillary Clinton
2,414
Joe Biden
1,599
John Edwards
1,440
Dennis Kucinich
1,103

Nobody won. I’m voting Republican.
427
Bill Richardson
377
Mike Gravel
311
Nobody won. I’m waiting for Al Gore to get in the race.
269
Chris Dodd
104
Total Vote: 11,331

Updated: 08.19.07 7:55 PM
Barack Obama
6,431
Dennis Kucinich
5,288

Hillary Clinton
4,362
Joe Biden
2,863
John Edwards
2,502
Nobody won. I’m voting Republican.
1,127
Bill Richardson
815
Nobody won. I’m waiting for Al Gore to get in the race.
759
Mike Gravel
674
Chris Dodd
167
Total Vote: 24,988

Updated: 08.19.07 10:12 PM

Dennis Kucinich
7,094

Barack Obama
6,965
Hillary Clinton
4,641
Joe Biden
2,990
John Edwards
2,679
Nobody won. I’m voting Republican.
1,242
Bill Richardson
886
Nobody won. I’m waiting for Al Gore to get in the race.
833
Mike Gravel
751
Chris Dodd
176
Total Vote: 28,257

Updated: 08.20.07 6:30 AM

Dennis Kucinich
9,187

Barack Obama
7,661
Hillary Clinton
4,972
Joe Biden
3,113
John Edwards
2,847
Nobody won. I’m voting Republican.
1,360
Nobody won. I’m waiting for Al Gore to get in the race.
953
Bill Richardson
950
Mike Gravel
872
Chris Dodd
188
Total Vote: 32,103

Updated: 08.20.07 2:50 PM

Dennis Kucinich
11,796

Barack Obama
8,713
Hillary Clinton
5,535
Joe Biden
3,336
John Edwards
3,148
Nobody won. I’m voting Republican.
1,637
Nobody won. I’m waiting for Al Gore to get in the race.
1,142
Bill Richardson
1,108
Mike Gravel
1,040
Chris Dodd
201
Total Vote: 37,656

Updated: 9:20 PM

Dennis Kucinich
12,615

Barack Obama
8,960
Hillary Clinton
5,729
Joe Biden
3,394
John Edwards
3,208
Nobody won. I’m voting Republican.
1,725
Nobody won. I’m waiting for Al Gore to get in the race.
1,246
Bill Richardson
1,146
Mike Gravel
1,135
Chris Dodd
204
Total Vote: 39,362

h/t: http://action.dennis4president.com

see:

WTF? A New Poll to Vote for Winner of Iowa Debate (poll)

Vote for the best Labor Candidate in MSNBC’s poll by Lo (updated)

“I Support The Impeachment of Vice President Cheney” Add your name to the Congressional Record (Kucinich)

Dennis Kucinich speaks at LA healthcare & poverty forum (video)

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He Got Out While the Getting Was Good By Frank Rich


Dandelion Salad


By Frank Rich
Truthout
The New York Times
Go to Original

Sunday 19 August 2007
    Back in those heady days of late summer 2002, Andrew Card, then the president’s chief of staff, told The New York Times why the much-anticipated push for war in Iraq hadn’t yet arrived. “You don’t introduce new products in August,” he said, sounding like the mouthpiece for the Big Three automakers he once was. Sure enough, with an efficiency Detroit can only envy, the manufactured aluminum tubes and mushroom clouds rolled off the White House assembly line after Labor Day like clockwork.

    Five summers later, we have the flip side of the Card corollary: You do recall defective products in August, whether you’re Mattel or the Bush administration. Karl Rove’s departure was both abrupt and fast. The ritualistic “for the sake of my family” rationale convinced no one, and the decision to leak the news in a friendly print interview (on The Wall Street Journal’s op-ed page) rather than announce it in a White House spotlight came off as furtive. Inquiring Rove haters wanted to know: Was he one step ahead of yet another major new scandal? Was a Congressional investigation at last about to draw blood?

    Perhaps, but the Republican reaction to Mr. Rove’s departure is more revealing than the cries from his longtime critics. No G.O.P. presidential candidates paid tribute to Mr. Rove, and, except in the die-hard Bush bastions of Murdochland present (The Weekly Standard, Fox News) and future (The Journal), the conservative commentariat was often surprisingly harsh. It is this condemnation of Rove from his own ideological camp – not the Democrats’ familiar litany about his corruption, polarizing partisanship, dirty tricks, etc. – that the White House and Mr. Rove wanted to bury in the August dog days.

    What the Rove critics on the right recognize is that it may be even more difficult for their political party to dig out of his wreckage than it will be for America. Their angry bill of grievances only sporadically overlaps that of the Democrats. One popular conservative blogger, Michelle Malkin, mocked Mr. Rove and his interviewer, Paul Gigot, for ignoring “the Harriet Miers debacle, the botching of the Dubai ports battle, or the undeniable stumbles in post-Iraq invasion policies,” not to mention “the spectacular disaster of the illegal alien shamnesty.” Ms. Malkin, an Asian-American in her 30s, comes from a far different place than the Gigot-Fred Barnes-William Kristol axis of Bush-era ideological lock step.

    Those Bush dead-enders are in a serious state of denial. Just how much so could be found in the Journal interview when Mr. Rove extolled his party’s health by arguing, without contradiction from Mr. Gigot, that young people are more “pro-life” and “free-market” than their elders. Maybe he was talking about 12-year-olds. Back in the real world of potential voters, the latest New York Times-CBS News poll of Americans aged 17 to 29 found that their views on abortion were almost identical to the rest of the country’s. (Only 24 percent want abortion outlawed.)

    That poll also found that the percentage of young people who identify as Republicans, whether free-marketers or not, is down to 25, from a high of 37 at the end of the Reagan era. Tony Fabrizio, a Republican pollster, found that self-identified G.O.P. voters are trending older rapidly, with the percentage over age 55 jumping from 28 to 41 percent in a decade.

    Every poll and demographic accounting finds the Republican Party on the losing side of history, both politically and culturally. Not even a miraculous armistice in Iraq or vintage Democratic incompetence may be able to ride to the rescue. A survey conducted by The Journal itself (with NBC News) in June reported G.O.P. approval numbers lower than any in that poll’s two decades of existence. Such is the political legacy for a party to which Mr. Rove sold Mr. Bush as “a new kind of Republican,” an exemplar of “compassionate conservatism” and the avatar of a permanent Republican majority.

    That sales pitch, as we long ago learned, was all about packaging, not substance. The hope was that No Child Left Behind and a 2000 G.O.P. convention stacked with break dancers and gospel singers would peel away some independent and black voters from the Democrats. The promise of immigration reform would spread Bush’s popularity among Hispanics. Another potential add-on to the Republican base was Muslims, a growing constituency that Mr. Rove’s pal Grover Norquist plotted to herd into the coalition.

    The rest is history. Any prospect of a rapprochement between the G.O.P. and African-Americans died in the New Orleans Superdome. The tardy, botched immigration initiative unleashed a wave of xenophobia against Hispanics, the fastest-growing voting bloc in the country. The Muslim outreach project disappeared into the memory hole after 9/11.

    Forced to pick a single symbolic episode to encapsulate the collapse of Rovian Republicanism, however, I would not choose any of those national watersheds, or even the implosion of the Iraq war, but the George Allen “macaca” moment. Its first anniversary fell, fittingly enough, on the same day last weekend that Mitt Romney bought his victory at the desultory, poorly attended G.O.P. straw poll in Iowa.

    A century seems to have passed since Mr. Allen, the Virginia Republican running for re-election to the Senate, was anointed by Washington insiders as the inevitable heir to the Bush-Rove mantle: a former governor whose jus’-folks personality, the Bushian camouflage for hard-edged conservatism, would propel him to the White House. Mr. Allen’s senatorial campaign and presidential future melted down overnight after he insulted a Jim Webb campaign worker, the 20-year-old son of Indian immigrants, not just by calling him a monkey but by sarcastically welcoming him “to America” and “the real world of Virginia.”

    This incident had resonance well beyond Virginia and Mr. Allen for several reasons. First, it crystallized the monochromatic whiteness at the dark heart of Rovian Republicanism. For all the minstrel antics at the 2000 convention, the record speaks for itself: there is not a single black Republican serving in either the House or Senate, and little representation of other minorities, either. Far from looking like America, the G.O.P. caucus, like the party’s presidential field, could pass for a Rotary Club, circa 1954. Meanwhile, a new census analysis released this month finds that nonwhites now make up a majority in nearly a third of the nation’s most populous counties, with Houston overtaking Los Angeles in black population and metropolitan Chicago surpassing Honolulu in Asian residents. Even small towns and rural America are exploding in Hispanic growth.

    Second, the Allen slur was a compact distillation of the brute nastiness of the Bush-Rove years, all that ostentatious “compassion” notwithstanding. Mr. Bush and Mr. Rove are not xenophobes, but the record will show that their White House spoke up too late and said too little when some of its political allies descended into Mexican-bashing during the immigration brawl. Mr. Bush and Mr. Rove winked at anti-immigrant bigotry, much as they did at the homophobia they inflamed with their incessant election-year demagoguery about same-sex marriage.

    Finally, the “macaca” incident was a media touchstone. It became a national phenomenon when the video landed on YouTube, the rollicking Web site whose reach now threatens mainstream news outlets. A year later, leading Republicans are still clueless and panicked about this new medium, which is why they, unlike their Democratic counterparts, pulled out of even a tightly controlled CNN-YouTube debate. It took smart young conservative bloggers like a former Republican National Committee operative, Patrick Ruffini, to shame them into reinstating the debate for November, lest the entire G.O.P. field look as pathetically out of touch as it is.

    The rise of YouTube certifies the passing of Mr. Rove’s era, a cultural changing of the guard in the digital age. Mr. Rove made his name in direct-mail fund-raising and with fierce top-down message management. As the Internet erodes snail mail, so it upends direct mail. As YouTube threatens a politician’s ability to rigidly control a message, so it threatens the Rove ethos that led Mr. Bush to campaign at “town hall” meetings attended only by hand-picked supporters.

    It’s no coincidence that this new culture is also threatening the Beltway journalistic establishment that celebrated Mr. Rove’s invincibility well past its expiration date (much as it did James Carville’s before him), extolling what Joshua Green, in his superb new Rove article in The Atlantic, calls the Cult of the Consultant. The YouTube video of Mr. Rove impersonating a rapper at one of those black-tie correspondents’ dinners makes the Washington press corps look even more antediluvian than he is.

    Last weekend’s Iowa straw poll was a more somber but equally anachronistic spectacle. Again, it’s a young conservative commentator, Ryan Sager, writing in The New York Sun, who put it best: “The face of the Republican Party in Iowa is the face of a losing party, full of hatred toward immigrants, lust for government subsidies, and the demand that any Republican seeking the office of the presidency acknowledge that he’s little more than Jesus Christ’s running mate.”

    That face, at once contemptuous and greedy and self-righteous, is Karl Rove’s face. Unless someone in his party rolls out a revolutionary new product, it is indelible enough to serve as the Republican brand for a generation.


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.

Tyranny Of The Few – Sheep can never be shepherds By Mirza Yawar Baig


Dandelion Salad


By Mirza Yawar Baig
08/18/07 “ICH

Headlines scream out at you: “Lal Masjid threatens to give the call for jihad.” “Clash with security forces leaves 16 students dead.” And all this accompanied by pictures of women in burqas wielding lathis longer than themselves. Talk of women power!! Another one: “Flaming jeep drives into Glasgow airport.” (No, it was not Lucifer trying to catch a flight either). “Doctor from Bangalore was the driver.”

What’s the common thread in these and many other such headlines? The names of the actors are all Muslim. And the pressure mounts on all of us – normal, harmless, garden-variety of Muslims – to explain what is going on in the name of Islam. I remember a conversation with a friend, a senior police officer in India to whom I complained about the way the media and all who report such incidents malign Islam in their reporting. She said something that was rather shocking. “Isn’t it the organizations and people who perpetrate these things who claim to be doing them in the name of Islam, first? So what else do you expect anyone else to do? They are only repeating what the originators have said in the first place.”

In the strange world we live in, we Muslims and our Islam seems to be designed either by the strident discordant cries of people like the Imaam of Lal Masjid or the despicable lies spewed out by the likes of Salman Rushdie, Tasleema Nasreen, Irshad Mani and Hirsi Ali. Both these groups seek to foist their version of Islam on the rest of us. I believe the time has come for us, people who are practicing Muslims, proud of our great religion and culture, obedient to Allah, conscious of our accountability to him, with no intention of changing Islam or its Shari’ah in any way whatsoever; to stand up and say, “Do what you want but leave Islam out of it. You don’t represent us. You are not our leaders.”

We Muslims ourselves are in a state of denial. The usual standard answer that we get when we mention the different acts of violence allegedly perpetrated by Muslims is that actually these have been done by or orchestrated by agencies of the enemies of Islam. We have become used to blaming the West, so-called ‘International Agencies’ or who-have-you for whatever happens that involves Muslims. What helps the proponents of this stance is the fact that there have been incidents in the past where it has been proved that one or more of these agencies have in fact had a hand in either staging an act of violence and laying it at the door of Muslims who had nothing to do with it; or of aiding and abetting Muslims in committing hara-kiri of one kind or other.

However the uncomfortable fact remains that there are many incidents that have happened and continue to happen that are entirely the effort of Muslims themselves. Call them misguided. Call them ignorant. Call them extremist. Call them what you will. The fact remains that what they did was of their own volition, with no encouragement from anyone else. The Lal Masjid fiasco is a classic case in point. So are the Shia-Sunni killings in Iraq. So are the Shia-Sunni killings in Pakistan. So are the various fatawa that are given for all kinds of things by obscure clerics with limited knowledge of the religion and even less of the issue of public image. Yet they have no hesitation in making the most outrageous statements, all in the name of Allah and His Messenger. And the media goes to town on them. Ask Muslims why all this is happening and the standard answer you get is that it is not happening. Now that is amazing because it denies blatantly visible facts. But that seems to be the major issue. Like the US, the Muslim Ummah seems to be in a stage of massive denial. We don’t seem to want to admit that we have some serious problems within ourselves, which are the cause of our global suffering.

We don’t seem to want to admit that we need to bring about some major changes in our education system, our cultural moorings, our behavior with others, our social fabric and our very thinking and mindset if we want our image to change. For example, it is true that the US intervention in Iraq has caused some major upheavals in the social order in that wretched land and that the Americans are killing Iraqis like flies, but it is equally true that it is not the Americans who are killing anyone in the Shia–Sunni murders in Iraq. These are of the Iraqis, by the Iraqis, for the Iraqis, thank you very much. The Iraqis seem quite self sufficient in terms of sending each other off to the happy hunting grounds in large numbers. Yet, Muslims blame everyone except themselves for what is happening. We hear long stories of the Western policy of divide and rule and how it is being applied once again. We don’t however hear reasons why after more than 300 years of colonial domination of one kind or another, we still have not learnt that unless a group is willing to be divided, nobody can divide them. What does that say about the intelligence of our leadership and so-called intelligentsia?

The British divided and ruled India because that is what Indians wanted them to do. That is why so many Indians (Sikhs, Maratha and Rajput Rajas, Baniyas of Delhi and Afghans) supported the British with information, money and soldiers while their own compatriots died before British cannon on the walls of Delhi in 1857. And when the War of Independence was lost, they stood in line for Knighthoods, Rai Bahadur-hoods and other sundry ‘honors’ from their colonial masters, for having been good collaborators. And to this day, these worthies are not roundly cursed for being the traitors that they were. Instead we blame the British. My question is that when we know that it is the job of the enemy to divide and rule, why blame him for doing it? It was our job on the other hand, to remain united and not allow anyone to divide us, which we did not do. So whose fault is it if we are divided and then finished off piecemeal? But try telling that to our dear ones!!!

So what is the reason for this terrible situation that we find ourselves in? I believe that this sad situation that we find ourselves in is the result of the effective division of Muslim society into discrete, mutually exclusive groups who have little or nothing in common with one another. What I am writing below is with specific reference to the Indian sub-continent, home to more than 350 million Muslims in 4 countries. However I have no doubt that many issues herein will be common to Muslims in other places as well.

4, mutually exclusive groups

1. The Ulama by and large are a group unto themselves with a distinct education system. On the one hand they need to be applauded for providing free education to a staggering 4 million children most of whom come from families living below the poverty index. These Ulama raise funds by asking for donations from Muslims (the poorest community in India) and feed, house and educate these children but strangely, instead of being admired and thanked they are looked upon by disdain by their own people and maligned by others (who call them fundamentalists and worse). If only one would take the trouble to look, the reality is very different. One can only do what is in one’s power. So since the Ulama themselves are mostly not knowledgeable about modern subjects and don’t have the money to hire professional teachers, most Madrassa students are not taught anything at all of modern subjects or the English language and so their knowledge of the world and the ability to understand current events is almost non-existent.

2. Then there is the group of so-called Danishwaraan-e-millat (the Wise People of the Community). Let us not ask about the nature of this wisdom or of what it has yielded in the last 200 years. These are the business people, professionals, scholars of modern subjects in universities and general well-to-do Muslims.

This group, by and large speaks a different language from the Ulama, does not understand the language the Ulama speak, sees them as necessary only for leading the salah, delivering the Juma Khutba and performing the funeral prayer. All things that the normal Muslim male is supposed to be able to do, but is never taught how to. A ‘priestly class’ has therefore come into being in a religion that expressly bans all priests. This person alleviates his own guilt by throwing some money from time to time at the local Madrassa or masjid. He has no idea what is taught in the Madarassa, has probably never seen the inside of the Madrassa even in his own town and generally treats the Ulama with a mixture of wary respect, suspicion and disdain. The fact that Ulama come from time to time to ask for donations makes it easy for these people to hold them in disdain as being supplicants rather than people with any respectable power. Seems rather complex, but believe me, we manage to do this quite well.

3. Then there are our political leaders. By and large they are corrupt, prey on Muslim society directly and indirectly through their henchmen, win elections by fanning the flames of hatred or fear of the ‘Other’ and showing themselves as the saviors. Ask them what they did during the Gujarat genocide or thereafter to bring the murderers to book and you will see the exact value of these ‘saviors’. Thankfully for them, we have the periodic communal riots and the mentally retarded rantings of the likes of Bal Thackaray, Narender Modi, Ashok Singhal, Uma Bharati, L.K.Advani and other leading lights of the Sangh Parivar, which are an undisguised blessing to keep the flames alive. Also they have enough deaf, blind and dumb constituents to ensure that they are repeatedly elected to office. In short these political leaders are for sale and will do anything that is required to remain in power and have the minimum possible interest in their constituents.

4. Then there is the vast multitude of the so-called ordinary Muslims. People, who live their daily lives, go to the masjid on Fridays, observe Ramadan, celebrate the festivals – the wear sherwani and eat biryani variety. These have no voice of any kind and their only time in the limelight is when they get killed in police firing somewhere (notice that the political leaders who incite them never do the dying) or when they are seen in processions, shouting slogans for one obscure cause or another. In this they are regularly used by all political parties and thrown aside when their function is over like so much waste paper.

All these groups have almost no contact with each other, no way to influence each other, no shared knowledge or experience and no mutual understanding. Instead there is a very high degree of mutual suspicion, aided and abetted by clever propaganda and lies manufactured by one group against another which widens the divide. The result is that there is no common authority or voice, either at a country level or at a global level. Every Muslim is therefore a ‘Khalifa’ unto himself and there’s no central authority. Consequently no Muslim is answerable to anyone else. And so does what he or she feels like doing or what makes ‘sense’ to them in their frame of reference. No matter that this frame of reference may be neither logical nor reasonable, much less theologically correct.

It is true that Muslims worldwide have genuine grievances about the way they are treated, especially by the West. They have grievances about the slavery they find themselves in, enforced in most cases by the puppet regimes that have been placed on their heads by Western powers, making them prisoners in their own lands. They have on the one hand to live under totalitarian regimes who are vicious and brutal and who will not hesitate to commit mayhem on a massive scale to put down any popular uprising.

Simultaneously and ironically on the other hand they have to suffer being called non-democratic, unwilling to rise up against their rulers and dictators and generally apathetic. The fact that these very rulers have been put in place and are supported and kept in place by Western military strength is not mentioned in the breath that it takes to condemn those who are suffering under such rule. Be that as it may, the fact remains that bursting bombs in airports, night clubs and malls is not going to change any of this. Instead, what it will do is to strengthen the hands of the oppressors and give them even more power to arm themselves and their allies, create a more closed society, bring in more draconian laws and generally perpetrate more crimes in the name of maintaining security.

So what is the solution? In my view the solution lies in the amazingly fortunate situation the Muslim Ummah finds itself of being in the eye of the world, provided that we can get our act together and act proactively in a coherent, sensible, creative and positive manner. Potentially Muslims today have access to the world media, any channel, and any country, free of cost. Anything that has an Islamic bent attracts the cameras and the world watches. Whose fault is it that almost all of it is negative? If our people drive flaming jeeps into airports; that is what will be shown. If they hole up inside a masjid or madrassa keeping women and children hostage, that is what will be shown.

If they claim responsibility for some act of violence perpetrated on innocent people, that is what will be reported. Propaganda is created and propagandists thrive in a situation where their victims readily provide them with real data and events to twist and report. And that is what we continue to do.

Key: Non-violent struggle for truth: Satyagrah

The key is to do what Gandhiji did during the Indian Freedom Struggle; create media events that show you in a good light while shaking the foundations of power. The Gandhian method of Satyagrah (non-violent civil disobedience) is a wonderful method that works very well in a situation where the establishment is law abiding. Today this is more or less true of all the places where Muslims live. And bright lights and cameras will do the rest to ensure that the first action is not the last. So if we have issues that we want the world to see and take action on, then we need to create the equivalent of a Salt Satyagrah which very simply, challenged the authority of the British Government to make laws in its Empire. And all that Gandhiji did was to walk to the beach and make some salt.

Today, the real battle is for mindshare. And it is on the television screen. That is where governments of the developed world are made or unmade. Popularity is the god that the West worships. Because popularity translates into money and power. That is what we have to do; become popular. Setting off fireworks is not the way to do this. No matter what the provocation.

Think Tanks & Team work

I believe that the first step in this direction is to get the minds of the Ummah together. I propose that Think Tanks be created at a local level in every place where Muslims live. These must comprise of a cross-section of all the segments that I mentioned above. People who participate in them must learn how to collaborate, dialogue, differ and deal with conflict. They must learn to disagree without being disagreeable. They must learn to focus on issues of common concern while agreeing to live with the differences. They must learn to put the interest of Islam and the Muslim Ummah above their own narrow partisan concerns. And they must learn to obey an Ameer. These individual local groups must network and come together at a country level and in time at a global level. There are many secular and other religious organizations today who follow this model, very successfully. All it needs is sincerity and dedication. The methods are all known, Islamic in origin and easy to follow, but only for those who genuinely want to follow them.

These Think Tanks must identify important emerging issues, deliberate on them, take expert advice and then create solutions for them from an Islamic perspective. These solutions must be innovative, attractive and powerful and with great media savvy, must be made public. Believe me, if we do the right thing, world media will be only too glad to give us air time free of cost. After all the Nobel Peace Prize went to Mohammad Younus of Grameen Bank fame with a battery of appearances on all the major media channels, with his Islamic identity clearly visible in every appearance.

A Dundee Salt March with a Gandhi leading it will make all the headlines and primetime shows in the world, even today. And it will be free for the Gandhi and his followers. That is what we need. If you become news worthy, you become news. I believe that it is time for the thinking ones to wake up and start thinking so that they don’t allow the mindless to hijack their image and thereby draw suffering on their heads for no fault of their own.

Lethargy in today’s world is a crime. Especially lethargy in a situation where our very existence is threatened. Let us remember that as long as we are seen as people who are addicted to violence neither we nor our religion are likely to be seen in a positive light. Whether this image is fact or not is immaterial. It is the dominant image today. And it is an image that must be debunked. Nobody likes to be with or to support murderers of innocent people. We don’t either. But it is now time to come out of our drawing rooms and not only say so loudly and clearly but to create systems where an alternate voice is heard at least equally clearly. A time will come, insha’Allah if we do this, that the world will turn to us for solutions to its problems. For it will see Muslim society free from such evils. That is the differentiator which will set us up clearly as the leaders of the world. But when the world sees Muslim society also like itself, in the clutches of ignorance, violence, barbaric customs and mindless traditions of social exploitation, do you blame it, if it sees no difference?

After all sheep are sheep, no matter how many. And sheep can never be shepherds.

Mirza Yawar Baig
Member, Muslim Consultative Council

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.

American WARNING (video; Marital Law)

Dandelion Salad

August 19, 2007

From:  puppetgovcom

Why time is of the essence.

Send this video to all – but most important: Get Active Now.

“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”

Puppetgov W/ Billy Vegas

www.puppetgov.com

Financial Wisdom From Wong’s Palace by Josh

Josh

Dandelion Salad
featured writer
Josh’s Blog Post

Aug. 19, 2007

Well, now its official – the party is definitely over. Just as J.P. Morgan reportedly knew it was time to sell when his shoeshine boy started giving him stock tips, my $7.95 All-You-Can-Eat Chinese buffet dinner tonight turned into an unexpectedly educational experience.

To set the scene, picture a non-descript, medium-sized restaurant on a commercial drag in South Knoxville – no windows and 5 or 6 beat-up cars in the parking lot. You walk in and the place is about 80% empty with a few tables of morbidly obese families eating in silence. In other words, not the type of place where you’re likely to run into a lot of stockbrokers.

As I started in on my egg drop soup I overheard one of the guys sitting at a table nearby me ask his buddy, “Hey, did you see the stock market today?”

My ears perked up. When the friend replied that he hadn’t, the guy made a high-to-low whistling sound accompanied by a hand gesture describing a plummeting trajectory. I could tell that I was about to learn something.

———-

One of the things that make understanding the economy so difficult is that even “official” data is often manipulated or engineered to tell a story that the providers of the data want us to believe. For example, I surely don’t need to go into a detailed analysis of why it might not be a great idea to take the National Association of Realtors outlook on the real estate market without at least a few grains of salt.

These days we are told by our government that the American economy is sound. To support this claim we are shown data indicating that both unemployment and inflation are low. Low unemployment combined with low inflation is basically the definition of financial health, so if it is really true that we have both, it would indeed be strong evidence that our economy is in good shape. But the wrinkle is that it is notoriously difficult to actually measure these phenomena.

Consider inflation. Webster’s defines inflation as, “a substantial rise of prices caused by an undue expansion in paper money or bank credit”. Seems simple enough. But when you start to think about how one would actually measure such a thing, you’ll quickly realize that its not simple at all. A truly comprehensive measure of inflation would require collecting data on every single transaction that takes place in the economy. Since this is clearly impossible, those who wish to discuss inflation must do the next best thing – i.e. estimate. For example, if you want to know how much gas prices have risen in the last month, you don’t need to check every gas station in the country. If you use a good statistical sample, you could probably arrive at a fairly precise estimate based on a survey of just 20 gas stations nation-wide. But even so, that’s just gasoline. Now try to imagine all of the different categories of goods and services that make up the economy. Again, the point is that its not easy.

When our government talks about inflation, they normally use an official “price index”, for example the CPI (Consumer Price Index). A price index is a way of identifying and measuring a basket of consumer products that is judged to be statistically representative of the overall market. Now, I would guess that not one person in 100,000 has any idea what the makeup of the CPI basket actually is. Nevertheless, we take at face-value assertions that since the CPI is only up a few percent in a year, inflation is “under control”.

Now, when things start taking a turn for the worse, the government has a few options. They can acknowledge the problem and take steps to try to remedy it. The problem is that inflation has elements of self-fulfilling prophecy – if people expect inflation, they are more likely to borrow and spend, thereby causing more inflation. So, even if inflation is occurring, the government has a strong disincentive to acknowledge it. The alternative to facing the problem head-on and dealing with it is to simply pretend it doesn’t exist by changing the way we calculate the official figures.

The Fed did just this in 2000, when they changed from using the CPI to the PCE (Personal Consumption Expenditures Price Index) to measure inflation. One of the differences between the two is that the CPI includes energy and food products while the PCE does not. So, just at the time when gasoline prices were doubling, this vital factor in the household finances of most Americans was conveniently no longer included in the official measure of inflation.

Real estate is also not included in the PCE. So, despite the fact that the price of gas has doubled and real estate prices are up 50-100% in parts of the country, none of this has caused even a blip in the official inflation figures. (In fact, it might even be true that the sharp price increases in these categories could exert a downward pressure on the PCE, since the fact that people are spending so much more on things like gas and real estate may be causing them to compensate by spending less on categories that are included in the PCE.)

The point of all of this is that pretty much all official economic data, whether it be from the National Association of Realtors or the US government, must be taken for what they are – i.e. propaganda. When Henry Paulson (Secretary of the Treasury) tells us that he expects the housing market to recover shortly, or when we hear Ben Bernanke tell us that inflation is under control, we should call to mind Dick Cheney telling us that the Iraqi insurgency was in its last throes. These are all statements of what the speaker wishes would happen, not what is really happening.

———-

Which brings us back to Wong’s. If we conclude that official sources of information are biased and unreliable, what else can we use to make sense of the overall economic picture?

I would argue that simply paying attention to the world around us is one of the best ways to get a handle on the realities of the economy. For example, if the government tells us that unemployment is low but half the people you know are out of work, this might call into doubt the official story. Likewise, eavesdropping on dinner conversations at Chinese restaurants can sometimes be as informative, if not more so, than listening to the latest pronouncements of the Fed.

So, after touching on the day’s action in the stock market, my fellow diner started in on a long discussion of the hazards of interest-only mortgages. He ran through a pretty complete analysis of why these mortgages don’t make a bit of sense. The subject is now familiar to most people, so I won’t bother to repeat the litany. But the point is that this conversation was taking place in the first place.

I have had my eye on the real estate market and the proliferation of newfangled mortgage practices for several years now. Being a former financial professional, I understood from the start that products like interest-only or sub-prime mortgages were extremely risky propositions which would only be appropriate under rare conditions. The fact that they came to make up a huge percentage of the overall mortgage market in the past few years convinced me that a crash in real estate was inevitable. Now, again, this wasn’t the product of any particularly advanced economic analysis. The logic was as simple as this – if a home buyer who could ordinarily only afford to buy a house worth $200,000 (using a conventional mortgage) was convinced to buy a $400,000 house by means of an interest-only loan, the only way that person is going to be able to keep up with the payments is if his/her personal income increases dramatically. And, if you take a look around you (with the exception of the very rich, who don’t need interest-only mortgages in the first place), not many people these days seem to be making much headway in terms of personal income. Therefore, it took little more than basic common-sense to know that within a few years, a ton of people were going to be forced to sell their homes. Combining this with the fact that prices had risen so far and so fast, it wasn’t hard to see that the market was likely to get hammered at some point.

But, try as I might to engage people on this subject (no wonder I don’t get invited to many parties), few people were interested in talking about it. Even highly-educated professionals simply nodded and quickly changed the subject. After all, when the reality all around you is that people are making money hand over fist by borrowing money and investing in real estate, who wants to hear about doom & gloom? Better to get in on the action and hope you’re smart enough to get out before the crash.

Anyway, the point is that if the folks at Wong’s know the score, something has definitely changed. The only way for the greater-fool theory to work is if there is a ready supply of greater fools out there. And, not that I wish to imply any disrespect to my fellow diners, if the clientèle of Wong’s Palace is hip to the pitfalls of the smoke-and-mirrors mortgage game, you can rest assured that the supply of greater fools has finally dried up.

As the one diner said to the other, when recounting a recent interaction with a mortgage broker, “I told the woman, ‘I don’t want to hear nothin’ about no interest-only mortgage – I don’t want to even hear you mention the words ‘interest-only’ ”.

And, if all those folks who really could only afford $200,000 houses (but were conned into believing that they could afford houses costing twice that much) have finally returned to reality, it means that its going to be very difficult to find enough buyers for all those $400,000 homes that people are going to be forced to sell. Thus, as I stated at the top, the party really is over…

see:

Big Ben & The Shit-Cloud by Josh

 

Military Interrogators Pose as “Lawyers” in Gitmo to Gather Information by Sherwood Ross

Dandelion Salad

by Sherwood Ross
Dissident Voice
August 18th, 2007

Military interrogators posing as “lawyers” are attempting to trick Guantanamo prisoners into providing them with information, The Catholic Worker (TCW) reports.

This incredible and illegal practice contributes “to the prisoners’ suspicions that the (real) lawyers are not to be trusted and could be aiding the government,” TCW says in its July issue.

This subterfuge is only one of the many treacherous tactics the government is employing to sabotage the efforts of lawyers to represent their clients. Continue reading

Project Management: Bushists Through the Looking-Glass on Iran Charges by Chris Floyd

Dandelion Salad

Written by Chris Floyd
Empire Burlesque
Sunday, 19 August 2007

“By indirection find direction out.” – Shakespeare


For several years I’ve been writing about facts that point to a disturbing but inescapable conclusion: that the Bush Administration has been fomenting sectarian and political violence in Iraq by arming – and in some cases, creating – militias, factions, terrorist groups, death squads and overt and covert “security forces.” [See Appendix below.] Based on reports taken from the publicly available sources, most often from Pentagon and White House officials, it is clear that over the course of the war, the groups thus supported and empowered by the Bush Administration have included practically every side in the kaleidoscopic conflict that has torn the conquered nation apart: Baathists, Shiites and Sunnis of various stripes, Kurds, tribes, spies, even a group of exiled Iranian cultists that Saddam Hussein had employed as brutal muscle in repressing his people.

The documentary evidence is there. And the intent of the Bush Administration in stimulating this horrific war of all-against-all seems clear: to “justify” the continuing presence of American troops and the resultant domination of the country. But of course, the actual motives behind this process are, ultimately, a matter of speculation for those outside the inner circle of the Washington warlords. We cannot delve into those dark hearts and clotted brains to speak with absolute certainty.

However, some confirmation of the conclusions drawn about the intent of the Administration’s policy did emerge this week, and from an unlikely source: Bush’s latest satrap in Baghdad, Ambassador Ryan Crocker.

In an interview with Reuters, Crocker was carrying water – or spears, as the case may be – for two major propaganda campaigns now being waged by his White House masters: first, the push to continue the escalation of the war in Iraq beyond the report on the “surge” that the White House itself will write in the name of its ballyhooed frontman, Gen. David Petraeus; and second, the accelerating drive to lay the groundwork for a new war against Iran.

Crocker  did not give away the Administration’s game on “fueling violence in Iraq” directly, of course. Instead, in a remarkable bit of projection, Crocker gave one of the best, most succinct encapsulations of the Bush Administration’s policy in Iraq that I’ve yet seen.

Continued…

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Banking On a Bailout by Ralph Nader

Dandelion Salad

by Ralph Nader
Friday, August 17. 2007

The corporate capitalists’ knees are shaking a bit. Their manipulation of the sub-prime housing market has led to a spreading credit crunch and liquidity crisis. So it is time for them to call on Uncle Sam – the all purpose bailout man.

Only don’t call it a bailout yet. It is just an injection of over $200 billion in the past week to stabilize the heaving financial markets by the European Central Bank and our Federal Reserve. Governments to the rescue – again.

My father many years ago asked his children during dinner table conversation: “Why will capitalism always survive?” His answer: “Because socialism will always be used to save it.” As a small businessman himself (a restaurateur), he was not referring to the little guys on Main Street. He was talking about the Big Boys. Today, we call these self-paying CEOs “corporate capitalists.”

Central Banks are government regulators after all. Among other impacts, they regulate interest rates. But they are so saturated with banking executives or former banking officials on their Boards, Committees and at the helms, that they see themselves as part and parcel saviors of their banking brethren.

Brother Henry M. Paulson, formerly with the Goldman-Sachs investment giant and now U.S. Treasury Secretary just said: “The markets are resilient. They can absorb those losses. We’ve gone through challenging times in the markets, and we will rise to the challenge.”

We? Paulson is a government official who is supposed to be worrying about the people first – such as the millions of homeowners who are slated to lose their homes in the next 18 months.

How to help these “borrowers, not the wheeler-dealers,” as columnist Paul Krugman described his “workouts, not bailouts” plan in The New York Times (August 17, 2007) should be Paulson’s chief concern.

Secretary Paulson did tell The New York Times that federal regulators should try to eliminate fraud and market manipulation and that there needs to be more disclosure of the holdings and actions of hedge funds and other private pools of capital.

Well, that’s talk. Where is the action? Krugman, an economist, believes that the current real-estate bubble was “both caused and was fed by widespread malfeasance. Rating agencies like Moody’s Investors Service, which get paid a lot of money for rating mortgage-backed securities,” seemed to be performing much like the major accounting firms that rubber-stamped the inflated, deceptive financial statements of the Enrons and the Worldcoms.

Passing on the risks of these mortgage loans through more and more complicated financial transactions, which are in turn bet on by the huge derivatives markets, allows wider transmission of these risk viruses throughout the national and the global financial markets.

A kind of dominoes effect sets in and induces panic selling and panic inability to obtain daily commercial loans in the stiffening credit markets.

The European Central Bank recently has poured tens of billions of Euros into the global financial system after the giant French bank BNP Paribas SA froze three of its investment funds.

If matters get worse, the Central Banks will inject more money into the system. If financial markets start collapsing along with investor confidence, then Uncle Sam will certainly adopt additional direct bailout options.

One man – Mervyn King, the Governor of the Bank of England, is the lone central banker who resists intervening in the markets. “Interest rates,” he asserts, “aren’t a policy instrument to protect unwise lenders from the consequences of their unwise decisions.”

Bailing out investors and their risky investments would just induce them to take on bigger risks next time, expecting another bailout, he believes.

More and more, corporate capitalists in side and beyond the financial markets do not want to behave as capitalists—willing to take the losses along with the profits. They want Washington, D.C., meaning you the taxpayers, to pay for their facilities (as with big time sports stadiums) or take on their losses because they believe that they are too big to be allowed to fail (as with large banks or industrial companies).

These corporate capitalists should be exposed when they always say that government is the problem whenever it moves to help the little guys with health and safety regulations, for example, but government is wonderful when the bureaucrats are summoned to perform missions to rescue them from their own greed and folly.

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.

Bhutto vows to return home – Pakistan’s former PM prepares to end exile in Dubai by Eric Margolis

Dandelion Salad

By ERIC MARGOLIS
Toronto Sun
Sun, August 19, 2007

“I will return to Pakistan between September and December,” Benazir Bhutto told me in an exclusive interview this week.

Pakistan’s former prime minister vowed to leave her exile in Dubai and go home “with or without an agreement” with Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s military government.

Always controversial and fascinating, Bhutto, the Muslim World’s first female prime minister, is poised to cross the Rubicon.

Will she be treated as a rebel by the Musharraf regime, and thrown into prison, or will the embattled general bow to his people’s demands and co-operate in restoring civilian-led democracy?

Bhutto confirmed she has indeed held rounds of intensive talks with Musharraf’s government, as well as with old political rival, former PM Nawaz Sharif, who was deposed by Musharraf in a 1999 military coup, and senior U.S. State Department officials.

However, Bhutto denied my suggestion Washington is trying to engineer a deal to keep key ally Musharraf in power by having Benazir and her Pakistan’s Peoples Party join his government as junior coalition partners.

“There is no agreement yet. The next two weeks will be crucial,” she told me.

But clearly, the game’s afoot. It is hard to imagine a more exciting political drama. Benazir, long dismissed as “that girl” by Pakistan’s powerful army generals, has thrown down the gauntlet to Gen. Musharraf and his 615,000 soldiers.

Will throngs of her avid supporters seize Karachi Airport to facilitate her return? Will the army arrest her — and Nawaz Sharif — on return? Will there be mass riots, or will the army split, with younger officers supporting Bhutto. Reports come to me of growing unrest in the armed forces over the $1 billion monthly Washington pays Musharraf to “rent” 80,000 of his soldiers to fight rebellious, pro-Taliban Pashtun tribesmen.

Bhutto’s life has been filled with drama.

Her flamboyant father, former PM Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was deposed and hanged by army leader Gen. Zia ul-Haq.

Her two brothers were murdered, her husband jailed and tortured. She has been called everything from saintly to corrupt.

This writer has known Bhutto for a long time and was often critical when she was prime minister. But you really only get to know people when they face adversity. I have watched Benazir face down every crisis with coolness and consummate political skill and not give in to self-pity, even at the darkest times, a few of which I shared with her.

She has grown in character and strength in exile and remains Pakistan’s most popular and capable political leader.

But wouldn’t a deal with Musharraf dismay her followers and sully her own reputation?

“We must deal with reality,” she politically answers. Power sharing with Musharraf, I asked? “We can get along with some generals,” comes her cautiously reply.

Bhutto says she is ready to work with Musharraf and a reinvigorated parliament to rebuild democracy in Pakistan, a process she calls “internal reconciliation.” With an eye on her American audience and the White House, Bhutto adds, “only democracy can undermine terrorism.”

She is quite right. Much of what we call “Islamic terrorism” is really violence directed against dictatorial regimes.

But who would be the real boss in a “power-sharing” deal?

Benazir is too smart to be used as a token prime minister to legitimize Musharraf’s regime. He is likely too used to absolute power to accept constraint by a prime minister and parliament. It seems a recipe for paralysis or, worse.

Musharraf would do his nation a favour by resigning as military chief and running in an honest election against Benazir and Nawaz. Democracy is Pakistan’s only fire exit from the increasingly dangerous tensions and risk of civil war it now faces.

I asked her how she felt right now. “Excited, tense,” she replied.

That also sums up Pakistan’s mood as it waits for the lady supporters hail as their nation’s saviour to return and restore democracy.

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.

see:

Margolis says TV news hiding truth about Iraq civil war (video)

How Far Will the Crash Go and What Do we Do Now? The “Crash of 2007-8” is underway by Richard C. Cook

Dandelion Salad

by Richard C. Cook
Global Research, August 18, 2007

The immediate triggers are being described quite well: the collapse of the U.S. subprime mortgage market; the vulnerability of the rest of the economy to the subprime undertow, due to the “efficiency” of the markets in spreading risk; the worldwide overextension of cheap credit; the failure of large institutional investors and Wall Street brokerages to behave responsibly; and the long-term effects of the U.S. trade and fiscal deficits which are now coming home to roost.

Amazingly, some commentators have been asking “if the monetary crisis will affect the producing economy,” and whether a recession lies ahead. In reality, the U.S. producing economy has been in a recession for the last year. This is shown most clearly by the decline in M1, the portion of the money supply immediately available to people for making purchases.

The causes of the M1 decline are two-fold. One is the weak purchasing power of American consumers, at least half of whose decently-paying manufacturing jobs have been eliminated by the outsourcing, mergers, and productivity improvements during the past two decades. The other is that while many of the U.S. corporations not connected to housing have been doing all right, their success has been tied to overseas investments and sales, such as GE and GM who are heavily invested in China.

This type of business activity props up the stock prices of these global corporations but does little for the working American. The presumption that overflow earnings from stockholders will benefit the rest of our domestic economy is the essence of “trickle-down,” supply-side economics and is part of the justification for the system that makes the rich richer and the poor poorer.

But as Barron’s reported earlier this year, much of the profits from the global corporations are being held as retained earnings for future growth, rather than being passed on to stockholders as dividends. Because of the heavy debt load corporations carry today, they are all in a grow-or-die mode. Again, the result is deficient purchasing power which works to negate the already dubious trickle-down effect.

The recession has been masked by four factors: 1) the government’s phony GDP numbers, where the “churning” of financial transactions masquerade as production; 2) the froth on the stock market that took the Dow Jones Average (DJA) from a little over 11,000 to a record-breaking 14,000 during a one-year period that ended with the decline that began in mid-July; 2) the propensity of the American consumer, which is now ending, to continue to buy goods and services on credit, including necessities of life like health care; and 3) modest growth in low-paying service economy jobs, which also may be coming to an end.

These lesser bubbles have mirrored the big ones that are bursting as lenders lose confidence in the ability of borrowers to repay. These are the housing bubble, affecting consumers; the acquisition bubble, affecting equity funds; and the speculation bubble, affecting hedge funds.

As the house of cards comes tumbling down, the leading question on financial websites and blogs is how deep will the decline go. Will it stop at the level of the recessions of previous decades, including 2000-2002, with a decline that is reflected in the DJA of somewhere around thirty-five percent from its peak? Or will it be the “Armageddon” scenario which would take us to depression-level conditions? Of course there are multiple possibilities based on a decline somewhere between a recession and a depression that would share some of the characteristics of each.

Muddying the waters is the fact that the DJA is much less reliable as a measure of economic health today than in the past. This is because today the vast majority of financial transactions now take place within the furtive secrecy of the equity, hedge, and derivative markets. No one really knows what is going on, except that on any given day an announcement is made that another fund or company has been wiped out.

Neither the Federal Reserve nor the U.S. government believes they have an obligation to gather or publish data that will help the public gauge the effects of these crises on their homes or jobs. Some might call this negligence a crime against democracy. In fact the Federal Reserve made tracking even more difficult by ceasing to report the M3 macro-currency numbers, but researchers have shown that growth in M3 is soaring while M1 goes down.

What appears to be happening right now is that the Federal Reserve, which oversees the U.S. economy on behalf of the financial, corporate, and government elites, is deliberately trying to squeeze as much debt out of the economy as it can. It is doing this with interest rates that are high relative to actual conditions, while trying to avoid the Armageddon scenario.

The Fed is carrying out its “soft-landing” policy by holding credit tight while introducing “liquidity” into the markets on a day-by-day basis through use of overnight “repos” and by cutting the discount rate for bank borrowing. Conservative columnists like George Will and Bob Novak watch and shake their pom-poms from the sidelines.

But “liquidity” is just a fancy name for more loans. The one thing we can be certain of is that every loan bears interest charges which someday, somehow, will have to be paid by a person who works for a living.

And if you wondered where the Fed got the $34 billion in liquidity it pumped into the markets on Friday, August 10, you weren’t the only one. The answer is that the Fed has a secret room upstairs where it keeps a large “printing press.” It’s legalized counterfeiting, but as with any counterfeit money, if people accept it in trade it acts just like the real stuff—for a while.

The danger, which many commentators are pointing to, is that the Fed will ignite a hyperinflation, which may be what is happening and may actually be intentional because it devalues debt. It’s what happens when debt is used to pay off debt and is in fact an invisible tax. Such inflation is difficult to discern, again because of the government’s rigged statistics. The most important indicator to watch is the price of oil, which doesn’t show up in “core inflation.”

But there are signs that the “soft landing” is working, such as a modest increase in U.S. exports. Reflecting the weak dollar, China is now charging more for its own exports, which will stimulate our industry here at home. And the Fed’s discount rate cut last Friday sparked a modest stock market rally.

Meanwhile, there is a debate over whether quasi-public agencies like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should be used to spread the housing market losses across the entire taxpaying population. While society as a whole is made poorer, many individuals who might have lost their homes or jobs are spared some pain. So it’s hard to argue against it. But this type of bail-out would benefit individual homeowners more than the big banks, so the conservative politicians and commentators oppose it.

But there’s a bigger picture. The strategy of the Fed is likely to allow the recession to proceed but it does want to get the economy moving again before the downturn goes too far. In fact they probably plan to do it in time for the 2008 presidential election.

The Fed wants to see a recovery in place by then so the American public will go back to sleep and elect another politician who will steadfastly protect the privileges and powers of the magnates who, through the Fed, rule the world. Even if a new president has some progressive ideas, he or she won’t be able to alter much if a recovery has started.

The “soft landing” is a political power play.

It’s what they did in 1984, when Ronald Reagan was reelected on a campaign theme of “It’s morning in America,” after the Fed let up following the twenty percent-plus rates it used to trash the producing economy from 1979-83. The Fed did the same with the housing bubble to get George W. Bush reelected in 2004.

The financiers’ worst fear is that if things get too bad the American people might elect a reformer in 2008. So far the corporate press has kept two such reformers—Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich—in the shadows. Now that Hillary Clinton is starting to sound more progressive, they’ll attack her overtly since she is too big a player to be ignored. The Washington Post has already begun.

So we’ll see if the Fed’s plan succeeds as well over the next couple of years as it has in the past. In the meantime, what remains firmly in place is the monetarist regime through which the financiers and the Fed have ruled America for the past thirty-six years, since President Richard Nixon closed the gold window for international exchange in 1971.

During this period, we have seen several interlocking phenomena: 1) interest rates that on the whole have been much higher than the previous period of the New Deal and its aftermath, lasting into the 1960s; 2) inflation that has eroded eighty percent of the value of the dollar; 3) replacement of our producing industrial economy with a service economy dominated by high finance; 4) almost continuous warfare with a clear objective of world domination whose purpose is to shore up the dollar as the world’s reserve currency; 5) ever-deepening public, private, and household debt; 6) the ever-widening gap between rich and poor, with increasing numbers of the poor, homeless, and hungry who are left out of the nation’s economic life; 7) a crisis in the nation’s crumbling infrastructure; and 8) the constant whipsawing of over 200 million ordinary people.

It’s our citizens who are batted around like ping pong balls between alternating conditions of boom and bust as every few years many of them watch the overnight disappearance of their homes, pensions, savings, health insurance, and jobs. Added to this is the stress that has eroded the health and even life expectancy of the U.S. population.

It’s a horrible picture created by a filthy system. It’s why religious leaders for thousands of years have characterized usury, and a culture ruled by usury, as a crime against God and humanity. The monetarist rule of the Federal Reserve is legal, institutionalized usury. Over the years they have mastered all the tools of the trade, the objective of which is to continually allow the financial superstructure to skim the cream off the producing economy. Come to think of it, isn’t that how the Mafia used to work with its protection and loan-sharking rackets?

And can anything be done about it? Of course.

In previous articles on the Global Research website and elsewhere, this writer has offered a list of reforms—mostly monetary—that can and should be made. They all involve the recognition of credit as a public utility, part of the societal commons, not the private playground of the financiers, with the Fed as their facilitator.

Low-cost credit overseen by the federal government was the basic building block of the New Deal. It was done by strong people with an ideal of public service, though in many respects they didn’t go far enough and relied too much on World War II and armaments to attain a full-employment economy. We now need a New Deal for the 21st century that would correct the flaws of the last one, resolve the present crisis, and carry us into a future that will benefit everyone, not just the privileged few.

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 www.richardccook.com.

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


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