Nevada Dem Presidential Candidates’ Debate 11-15-07 (videos)

Dandelion Salad

This is interesting:“Diamond v. Pearl” Student Blasts CNN

h/t: Lightseeker

Daily Kos poll on the Las Vegas Democratic Candidates debate

h/t: 3rdAndLong

After I voted:

Joe Biden 637 votes – 8 %
Hillary Clinton 1457 votes – 20 %
Chris Dodd 205 votes – 2 %
John Edwards 1215 votes – 17 %
Dennis Kucinich 1467 votes – 20 %
Barack Obama 1908 votes – 26 %
Bill Richardson 235 votes – 3 %

7124 Total Votes

@4:12 AM CT

CNN Debate

Speaking times:

Obama: 18:22 (during 16 times)
Clinton: 17:28 (during 16 times)
Richardson: 13:41 (during 11 times)
Biden: 10:46 (during 9 times)
Edwards: 10:43 (during 10 times)
Kucinich: 6:52 (during 7 times)
Dodd: 6:34 (during 7 times)

h/t: trousers



Part 1 Democratic Presidential Candidates’ Debate 11-15-07 This is the debate between the Presidential Democratic Candidates that aired on 11.15.07.

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7–0FrgsuM

Part 8

Part 9

Part 10

Part 11

Part 12


Are Human Rights More Important Than Our Security (video; debate)

Dennis Kucinich Demands Impeachment Now! During Debate (video)

Olbermann: Bush League + Worst + Welcome Home (videos)

Dandelion Salad


Bush League

Keith gives his report on Harry Reid promising to keep the Senate in session using some parlimentary moves to prevent Bush from making any recess appointments. John Dean weighs in.

Worst Person

And the winner is…..Rush Limbaugh. Runners up Westaff employment service and Michael Aguirre.

Welcome Home

Keith gives his report on the stress put on the soldiers and their families who are deployed in Iraq and what it really means to support the troops.

End war. Reform health care. Protect workers. by Dennis Kucinich

Dandelion Salad

by Dennis Kucinich
The Des Moines Register
Nov. 15, 2007

Sometimes – all too often, in fact – the candidates who campaign to be your leaders with promises of this and pledges of that sound as though they have a monopoly on knowing what’s best for you, the people of the United States of America.

They roll out their experience and their positions like a red carpet that leads to the highest office in the land, hoping you’ll follow and support them in achieving their vision for this nation. I humbly submit that they have it backward: It is your vision, your dreams, your beliefs and your priorities that should be setting the agenda for the future of our country. Your vote has the power to determine which candidate most closely reflects your vision of tomorrow.

It’s really no mystery what that vision is.

With an ever growing, ever louder voice, the American people want to end the war in Iraq and bring our troops home. Instead, we have candidates who voted for the war in 2002, voted time and again to continue funding the war, and who now offer vague promises of ending the war, possibly by 2013. Do those candidates represent your vision?

Americans want to feel safe and secure, yet the Bush administration, with support from the Democrat-controlled Congress, continues spending hundreds of billions of dollars on war and on preparations for more war, fueling resentment, hostility and the threat of extremism against our nation and our people. Unilateralism, the abandonment of diplomacy and refusing to work with the world community makes us neither safer nor more secure. It isolates us, distances us from allies and potential allies, and puts more and more of our brave men and women at risk on today’s and tomorrow’s battlefields. Is that your vision of our future?

At the same time, tens of millions of Americans face another kind of jeopardy: forgoing medical care because they can’t afford health insurance at all or because the insurance they can afford leaves them liable for tens of thousands of dollars in co-pays and deductibles. Yet, the “vision” of other candidates is to keep the for-profit insurance and pharmaceutical companies in control, even subsidize to lower their premiums, and then mandate that Americans buy that insurance.

Americans deserve a system that covers all medical needs, provides the freedom to choose your own doctors and medical providers, eliminates co-pays and deductibles and guarantees coverage, regardless of your job, your income, or your geographic location. I believe that is your vision, but it’s not shared by any of the other candidates, except me.

I also believe you want to see an improved education system, starting with pre-kindergarten and continuing all the way through tuition-free education in public colleges and universities – at no additional cost to the taxpayers. It’s a vision of a better educated, better prepared, more competitive America, financed by redirecting dollars from war to education. If that is your vision, I am the only candidate who shares and promotes it.

And for a stronger America, you envision stopping the outsourcing of millions of jobs overseas, protecting our workers, expanding employment opportunities and preserving retirement security. Yet, every other candidate who has voted for an unfair trade agreement – and they all have – obviously doesn’t share your vision. Instead, they have supported corporate interests looking for cheaper labor elsewhere.

Americans also dream of a “greener” nation, less dependent on foreign oil, more innovative in developing alternative energy sources, more committed to environmental protection. Your vision led to my plan for a “Works Green Administration,” similar to the Depression-era Works Progress Administration, that will make those initiatives a top priority and put millions of Americans to work in research, technology and implementation.

My vision for America is your vision for America. When you vote, believe in yourself. And trust that one candidate believes in you, too.

U.S. Rep. DENNIS J. KUCINICH of Ohio is seeking the Democratic nomination for president.


Dennis Kucinich Demands Impeachment Now! During Debate (video)

Dennis Kucinich Talks Impeachment With By Rosalea Barker


Dennis Kucinich Demands Impeachment Now! During Debate (video + poll)

Hell, yes! Way to go, Dennis! ~ Lo

Daily Kos poll on the Las Vegas Democratic Candidates debate

h/t: 3rdAndLong

After I voted:

Joe Biden 637 votes – 8 %
Hillary Clinton 1457 votes – 20 %
Chris Dodd 205 votes – 2 %
John Edwards 1215 votes – 17 %
Dennis Kucinich 1467 votes – 20 %
Barack Obama 1908 votes – 26 %
Bill Richardson 235 votes – 3 %

7124 Total Votes

@4:12 AM CT

Updated: Dec. 20, 2007

So, who won?
Joe Biden
8%    1276 votes
Hillary Clinton
18%    2746 votes
Chris Dodd
2%    427 votes
John Edwards
14%    2115 votes
Dennis Kucinich
29%    4247 votes

Barack Obama
22%    3237 votes
Bill Richardson
3%    468 votes

14516 votes

Dandelion Salad




Dennis Kucinich Talks Impeachment With By Rosalea Barker



“We won’t take it any more.” by Mayor Ross C. “Rocky” Anderson

Dandelion Salad

Address by Mayor Ross C. “Rocky” Anderson
11/15/07 “ICH

October 27, 2007

City & County Building, Salt Lake City, Utah

Today, as we come together once again in this great city, we raise our voices in unison to say to President Bush, to Vice President Cheney, to other members of the Bush Administration (past and present), to a majority of Congress, including Utah’s entire congressional delegation, and to much of the mainstream media: “You have failed us miserably and we won’t take it any more.”

While we had every reason to expect far more of you, you have been pompous, greedy, cruel, and incompetent as you have led this great nation to a moral, military, and national security abyss.” “You have breached trust with the American people in the most egregious ways. you have utterly failed in the performance of your jobs. You have undermined our Constitution, permitted the violation of the most fundamental treaty obligations, and betrayed the rule of law.

You have engaged in, or permitted, heinous human rights abuses of the sort never before countenanced in our nation’s history as a matter of official policy. You have sent American men and women to kill and be killed on the basis of lies, on the basis of shifting justifications, without competent leadership, and without even a coherent plan for this monumental blunder.

We are here to tell you: We won’t take it any more!

You have acted in direct contravention of values that we, as Americans who love our country, hold dear. You have deceived us in the most cynical, outrageous ways. You have undermined, or allowed the undermining of, our constitutional system of checks and balances among the three presumed co-equal branches of government. You have helped lead our nation to the brink of fascism, of a dictatorship contemptuous of our nation’s treaty obligations, federal statutory law, our Constitution, and the rule of law.

Because of you, and because of your jingoistic false ‘patriotism,’ our world is far more dangerous, our nation is far more despised, and the threat of terrorism is far greater than ever before. It has been absolutely astounding how you have committed the most horrendous acts, causing such needless tragedy in the lives of millions of people, yet you wear your so-called religion on your sleeves, asserting your God-is-on-my-side nonsense – when what you have done flies in the face of any religious or humanitarian tradition. Your hypocrisy is mind-boggling – and disgraceful.

What part of “Thou shalt not kill” do you not understand? What part of the “Golden rule” do you not understand? What part of “be honest,” “be responsible,” and “be accountable” don’t you understand? What part of “Blessed are the peacekeepers” do you not understand?

Because of you, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed, many thousands of people have suffered horrendous lifetime injuries, and millions have been run off from their homes. For the sake of our nation, for the sake of our children, and for the sake of our brothers and sisters around the world, we are morally compelled to say, as loudly as we can, ‘We won’t take it any more!’ ”

As United States agents kidnap, disappear, and torture human beings around the world, you justify, you deceive, and you cover up. We find what you have done to men, women and children, and to the good name and reputation of the United States, so appalling, so unconscionable, and so outrageous as to compel us to call upon you to step aside and allow other men and women who are competent, true to our nation’s values, and with high moral principles to stand in your places – for the good of our nation, for the good of our children, and for the good of our world.

In the case of the President and Vice President, this means impeachment and removal from office, without any further delay from a complacent, complicit Congress, the Democratic majority of which cares more about political gain in 2008 than it does about the vindication of our Constitution, the rule of law, and democratic accountability.It means the election of people as President and Vice President who, unlike most of the presidential candidates from both major parties, have not aided and abetted in the perpetration of the illegal, tragic, devastating invasion and occupation of Iraq. And it means the election of people as President and Vice President who will commit to return our nation to the moral and strategic imperative of refraining from torturing human beings.

In the case of the majority of Congress, it means electing people who are diligent enough to learn the facts, including reading available National Intelligence Estimates, before voting to go to war. It means electing to Congress men and women who will jealously guard Congress’s sole prerogative to declare war. It means electing to Congress men and women who will not submit like vapid lap dogs to presidential requests for blank checks to engage in so-called preemptive wars, for legislation permitting warrantless wiretapping of communications involving US citizens, and for dangerous, irresponsible, saber-rattling legislation like the recent Kyl- Lieberman amendment.

We must avoid the trap of focusing the blame solely upon President Bush and Vice-President Cheney. This is not just about a few people who have wronged our country – and the world. They were enabled by members of both parties in Congress, they were enabled by the pathetic mainstream news media, and, ultimately, they have been enabled by the American people – 40% of whom are so ill-informed they still think Iraq was behind the 9/11 attacks – a people who know and care more about baseball statistics and which drunken starlets are

wearing underwear than they know and care about the atrocities being committed every single day in our name by a government for which we need to take responsibility.

As loyal Americans, without regard to political partisanship — as veterans, as teachers, as religious leaders, as working men and women, as students, as professionals, as businesspeople, as public servants, as retirees, as people of all ages, races, ethnic origins, sexual orientations, and faiths — we are here to say to the Bush administration, to the majority of Congress, and to the mainstream media: “You have violated your solemn responsibilities. You have undermined our democracy, spat upon our Constitution, and engaged in outrageous, despicable acts. You have brought our nation to a point of immorality, inhumanity, and illegality of immense, tragic, unprecedented proportions.”

But we will live up to our responsibilities as citizens, as brothers and sisters of those who have suffered as a result of the imperial bullying of the United States government, and as moral actors who must take a stand: And we will, and must, mean it when we say ‘We won’t take it any more.

If we want principled, courageous elected officials, we need to be principled, courageous, and tenacious ourselves. History has demonstrated that our elected officials are not the leaders – the leadership has to come from us. If we don’t insist, if we don’t persist, then we are not living up to our responsibilities as citizens in a democracy – and our responsibilities as moral human beings. If we remain silent, we signal to Congress and the Bush administration – and to candidates running for office – and to the world – that we support the status quo.

Silence is complicity. Only by standing up for what’s right and never letting down can we say we are doing our part. Our government, on the basis of a campaign we now know was entirely fraudulent, attacked and militarily occupied a nation that posed no danger to the United States. Our government, acting in our name, has caused immense, unjustified death and destruction.

It all started five years ago, yet where have we, the American people, been? At this point, we are responsible. We get together once in a while at demonstrations and complain about Bush and Cheney, about Congress, and about the pathetic news media. We point fingers and yell a lot. Then most people politely go away until another demonstration a few months later.

How many people can honestly say they have spent as much time learning about and opposing the outrages of the Bush administration as they have spent watching sports or mindless television programs during the past five years? Escapist, time-sapping sports and insipid entertainment have indeed become the opiate of the masses. Why is this country so sound asleep? Why do we abide what is happening to our nation, to our Constitution, to the cause of peace and international law and order? Why are we not doing all in our power to put an end to this madness?

We should be in the streets regularly and students should be raising hell on our campuses. We should be making it clear in every way possible that apologies or convoluted, disingenuous explanations just don’t cut it when presidential candidates and so many others voted to authorize George Bush and his neo-con buddies to send American men and women to attack and occupy Iraq.

Let’s awaken, and wake up the country by committing here and now to do all each of us can to take our nation back. Let them hear us across the country, as we ask others to join us: “We won’t take it any more!”

I implore you: Draw a line. Figure out exactly where your own moral breaking point is. How much will you put up with before you say “No more” and mean it?

I have drawn my line as a matter of simple personal morality: I cannot, and will not, support any candidate who has voted to fund the atrocities in Iraq. I cannot, and will not, support any candidate who will not commit to remove all US troops, as soon as possible, from Iraq. I cannot, and will not, support any candidate who has supported legislation that takes us one step closer to attacking Iran. I cannot, and will not, support any candidate who has not fought to stop the kidnapping, disappearances, and torture being carried on in our name.

If we expect our nation’s elected officials to take us seriously, let us send a powerful message they cannot misunderstand. Let them know we really do have our moral breaking point. Let them know we have rawn a bright line. Let them know they cannot take our support for granted – that, regardless of their party and regardless of other political considerations, they will not have our support if they cannot provide, and have not provided, principled leadership.

The people of this nation may have been far too quiet for five years, but let us pledge that we won’t let it go on one more day – that we will do all we can to put an end to the illegalities, the moral degradation, and the disintegration of our nation’s reputation in the world.

Let us be unified in drawing the line – in declaring that we do have a moral breaking point. Let us insist, together, in supporting our troops and in gratitude for the freedoms for which our veterans gave so much, that we bring our troops home from Iraq, that we return our government to a constitutional democracy, and that we commit to honoring the fundamental principles of human rights.

In defense of our country, in defense of our Constitution, in defense of our shared values as Americans – and as moral human beings – we declare today that we will fight in every way possible to stop the insanity, stop the continued military occupation of Iraq, and stop the moral depravity reflected by the kidnapping, disappearing, and torture of people around the world.

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The Family That Slays Together by Cindy Sheehan

The Real Cindy Sheehan
by Cindy Sheehan
Dandelion Salad
featured writer
Nov. 15, 2007

There were two reports on CNN this morning that I found especially relevant to the human condition in the USA today. The first item was a very sad story. Many years ago a couple in Florida lost a son that was kidnapped and murdered by a man who is scheduled to die in Florida’s death chamber today. The execution is questionable because he would be receiving the “cocktail” of lethal chemicals that has been determined as “inhumane.”The second story had to do with a six year old boy nicknamed the “Deer Slayer” because he has killed six deer in the past year; the last one being a 140 pound doe. There was film of his mom showing him how to aim and the proud papa extolling the brilliance of his son. His prowess with the gun is being celebrated and he was being feted as a prodigy. One can only imagine the potential of this talented young man and deer all over his community should tremble at his name.

I profoundly resonated with the pain that the parents are still feeling after years of a legal struggle to see justice for their son’s murder. Even though the mother admitted that the execution of their son’s killer would not bring their son back or bring an end to their suffering, they are eagerly awaiting the death of another mother’s son and are planning a celebration for this Saturday.

Even if there were a humane way to execute convicted killers, the death penalty has not been proven to prevent or even inhibit the high incidences of violent crime in this country. We are the nation with the highest amount of gun violence and also the highest number of executions in any “First World” country. Obviously, executing people does not prevent other murders. Justice is of paramount importance, but so is social justice and one has to wonder, along with family dysfunction or environmental poison, what societal deprivations lead people to commit horrible crimes.

I cannot resonate with a family that exalts in killing other living beings and teaches their little Deer Slayer to use weapons to line their walls with trophies of God’s beautiful creatures. This story reminds me of Little Georgie Bush who enjoyed putting firecrackers in the anuses of frogs and blowing the defenseless creatures up. How hard will it be for the Deer Slayer to take his marksmanship skills and march off to war to slay humans for another bloodthirsty Commander in Chief in about a dozen or so more years?

While the CNN moderator, Heidi Collins, was definitely leaning to the side of executing the convicted child-slayer, I was reminded of the hostility that I have received from her colleagues all over the airwaves for wanting justice for my son’s murder.

Everyday I am bombarded with the voice and pictures of Casey’s murderers. On Veteran’s Day the Coward Cheney, who got 5 deferments from going to Vietnam, desecrated the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. That same day Coward George, who went AWOL from the Alabama Air National Guard, told a group in Waco, Tx, that our soldiers are dying for a “Cause that is noble.” From all credible evidence that one does not see on CNN, BushCo lied to our world and millions of people are dead, wounded or displaced and the Cowardly Duo are free to roam and continue their serial crimes.

I have always been against capital punishment. However, I never judged family members for wanting to see justice for their loved ones murders. I was not in their shoes, but I hoped that if a similar thing happened to one of my children, that I would be able to live out my belief that all killing is wrong. There has been the rare, yet sacred, case where a loved one has forgiven his/her child’s killer and has begged courts for life in prison, and not execution. Unfortunately, I was forced into those shoes by the deception and greed of my nation and I can say that I do not wish death for George and Dick, but it doesn’t even look like I will get any kind of justice for my son’s death.

With impeachment “off the table,” I can hardly look forward to mere imprisonment for those responsible for my child’s death.

Decades ago, our nation was responsible for the deaths of millions of American soldiers and Vietnamese and the total destruction and contamination of an entire country, and not one person was held accountable for that disaster: not even the Lieutenant who was responsible for the My Lai Massacre.

Our national identity rests on and has been formed by violence and greed. Congress has a chance to slow down, if not reverse, that cycle but will give George Bush billions more to wage their (the mess belongs to all the branches co-equally) illegal occupation because, instead of protecting life and liberty for all, they viciously protect the life and liberty of their elitist club only.

We are the only ones who can slow down this vicious, bloody cycle by looking at our own paradigms of right and wrong and peace and justice and being non-violent actors and not knee-jerk reactors on this stage called life.

Cindy Sheehan is the mother of Spc. Casey Austin Sheehan who was KIA in Iraq on 04/04/04. She is a co-founder and President of Gold Star Families for Peace and the author of two books: Not One More Mother’s Child and Dear President Bush.

Lest We Forget By John Pilger

Dandelion Salad

By John Pilger
11/15/07 “ICH

On Remembrance Day 2007 – Veterans Day in America – the great and the good bowed their heads at the Cenotaph. Generals, politicians, newsreaders, football managers and stock-market traders wore their poppies. Hypocrisy was a presence. No one mentioned Iraq. No one uttered the slightest remorse for the fallen of that country. No one read the forbidden list.

The forbidden list documents, without favor, the part the British state and its court have played in the destruction of Iraq. Here it is:

Holocaust denial

On 25 October, Dai Davies MP asked Gordon Brown about civilian deaths in Iraq. Brown passed the question to the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, who passed it to his junior minister, Kim Howells, who replied: “We continue to believe that there are no comprehensive or reliable figures for deaths since March 2003.” This was a deception. In October 2006, the Lancet published research by Johns Hopkins University in the US and al-Mustansiriya University in Baghdad which calculated that 655,000 Iraqis had died as a result of the Anglo-American invasion. A Freedom of Information search revealed that the government, while publicly dismissing the study, secretly backed it as comprehensive and reliable. The chief scientific adviser to the Ministry of Defense, Sir Roy Anderson, called its methods “robust” and “close to best practice.” Other senior governments officials secretly acknowledged the survey’s “tried and tested way of measuring mortality in conflict zones.” Since then, the British research polling agency, Opinion Research Business, has extrapolated a figure of 1.2 million deaths in Iraq. Thus, the scale of death caused by the British and US governments may well have surpassed that of the Rwanda genocide, making it the biggest single act of mass murder of the late 20th century and the 21st century.


The undeclared reason for the invasion of Iraq was the convergent ambitions of the neocons, or neo-fascists, in Washington and the far-right regimes of Israel. Both groups had long wanted Iraq crushed and the Middle East colonized to US and Israeli designs. The initial blueprint for this was the 1992 “Defense Planning Guidance,” which outlined America’s post-Cold War plans to dominate the Middle East and beyond. Its authors included Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz and Colin Powell, architects of the 2003 invasion. Following the invasion, Paul Bremer, a neocon fanatic, was given absolute civil authority in Baghdad and in a series of decrees turned the entire future Iraqi economy over to US corporations. As this was lawless, the corporate plunderers were given immunity from all forms of prosecution. The Blair government was fully complicit and even objected when it looked as if UK companies might be excluded from the most profitable looting. British officials were awarded functionary colonial posts. A petroleum “law” will allow, in effect, foreign oil companies to approve their own contracts over Iraq’s vast energy resources. This will complete the greatest theft since Hitler stripped his European conquests.

Destroying a nation’s health

In 1999, I interviewed Dr. Jawad Al-Ali, a cancer specialist at Basra city hospital. “Before the Gulf War,” he said, “we had only three or four deaths in a month from cancer. Now it’s 30 to 35 patients dying every month. Our studies indicate that 40 to 48 per cent of the population in this area will get cancer.” Iraq was then in the grip of an economic and humanitarian siege, initiated and driven by the US and Britain. The result, wrote Hans von Sponeck, the then chief UN humanitarian official in Baghdad, was “genocidal … practically an entire nation was subjected to poverty, death and destruction of its physical and mental foundations.” Most of southern Iraq remains polluted with the toxic debris of British and American explosives, including uranium-238 shells. Iraqi doctors pleaded in vain for help, citing the levels of leukemia among children as the highest seen since Hiroshima. Professor Karol Sikora, chief of the World Health Organization’s cancer program, wrote in the BMJ: “Requested radiotherapy equipment, chemotherapy drugs and analgesics are consistently blocked by United States and British advisers [to the Sanctions Committee].” In 1999, Kim Howells, then trade minister, effectively banned the export to Iraq of vaccines that would protect mostly children from diphtheria, tetanus and yellow fever, which, he said, “are capable of being used in weapons of mass destruction.”

Since 2003, apart from PR exercises for the embedded media, the British occupiers have made no attempt to re-equip and resupply hospitals that, prior to 1991, were regarded as the best in the Middle East. In July, Oxfam reported that 43 per cent of Iraqis were living in “absolute poverty.” Under the occupation, malnutrition rates among children have spiraled to 28 per cent. A secret Defense Intelligence Agency document, “Iraq Water Treatment Vulnerabilities,” reveals that the civilian water supply was deliberately targeted. As a result, the great majority of the population has neither access to running water nor sanitation – in a country where such basic services were once as universal as in Britain. “The mortality of children in Basra has increased by nearly 30 per cent compared to the Saddam Hussein era,” said Dr. Haydar Salah, a pediatrician at Basra children’s hospital. “Children are dying daily and no one is doing anything to help them.” In January this year, nearly 100 leading British doctors wrote to Hilary Benn, then international development secretary, describing how children were dying because Britain had not fulfilled its obligations as an occupying power under UN Security Council Resolution 1483. Benn refused to see them.

Destroying a society

The UN estimates that 100,000 Iraqis are fleeing the country every month. The refugee crisis has now overtaken that of Darfur as the most catastrophic on earth. Half of Iraq’s doctors have gone, along with engineers and teachers. The most literate society in the Middle East is being dismantled, piece by piece. Out of more than four million displaced people, Britain last year refused the majority of more than 1,000 Iraqis who applied to come here, while removing more “illegal” Iraqi refugees than any other European country. Thanks to tabloid-inspired legislation, Iraqis in Britain are often destitute, with no right to work and no support. They sleep and scavenge in parks. The government, says Amnesty, “is trying to starve them out of the country.”


“See in my line of work,” said George W. Bush, “you got to keep repeating things over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda.” Standing outside 10 Downing Street on 9 April 2003, the BBC’s then political editor, Andrew Marr, reported the fall of Baghdad as a victory speech. Tony Blair, he told viewers, “said they would be able to take Baghdad without a bloodbath, and that in the end the Iraqis would be celebrating. And on both of those points he has been proved conclusively right. And it would be entirely ungracious, even for his critics, not to acknowledge that tonight he stands as a larger man and a stronger prime minister as a result.” In the United States, similar travesties passed as journalism. The difference was that leading American journalists began to consider the consequences of the role they had played in the buildup to the invasion. Several told me they believed that had the media challenged and investigated Bush’s and Blair’s lies, instead of echoing and amplifying them, the invasion might not have happened. A European study found that, of the major western television networks, the BBC permitted less coverage of dissent than all of them. A second study found that the BBC consistently gave credence to government propaganda that weapons of mass destruction existed. Unlike the Sun, the BBC has credibility – as does, or did, the Observer.

On 14 October 2001, the London Observer’s front page said: “US hawks accuse Iraq over anthrax.” This was entirely false. Supplied by US intelligence, it was part of the Observer’s staunchly pro-war coverage, which included claiming a link between Iraq and al-Qaeda, for which there was no credible evidence and which betrayed the paper’s honorable past. One report over two pages was headlined: “The Iraqi connection.” It, too, came from “intelligence sources” and was rubbish. The reporter, David Rose, concluded his barren inquiry with a heartfelt plea for an invasion. “There are occasions in history,” he wrote, “when the use of force is both right and sensible.” Rose has since written his mea culpa, including in these pages, confessing how he was used. Other journalists have still to admit how they were manipulated by their own credulous relationship with established power.

These days, Iraq is reported as if it is exclusively a civil war, with a US military “surge” aimed at bringing peace to the scrapping natives. The perversity of this is breathtaking. That sectarian violence is the product of a vicious divide-and-conquer policy is beyond doubt. As for the largely media myth of al-Qaeda, “most of the [American] pros will tell you,” wrote Seymour Hersh, “that the foreign fighters are a couple per cent, and then they’re sort of leaderless.” That a poorly armed, audacious resistance has not only pinned down the world’s most powerful army but has agreed to an anti-sectarian, anti-al-Qaeda agenda, which opposes attacks on civilians and calls for free elections, is not news.

The next blood letting

In the 1960s and 1970s, British governments secretly expelled the population of Diego Garcia, an island in the Indian Ocean whose people have British nationality. Women and children were loaded on to vessels resembling slave ships and dumped in the slums of Mauritius, after their homeland was given to the Americans for a military base. Three times, the High Court has found this atrocity illegal, calling it a defiance of the Magna Carta and the Blair government’s refusal to allow the people to go home “outrageous” and “repugnant.” The government continues to use endless recourse to appeal, at the taxpayers’ expense, to prevent upsetting Bush. The cruelty of this matches the fact that not only has the US repeatedly bombed Iraq from Diego Garcia, but at “Camp Justice,” on the island, “al-Qaeda suspects” are “rendered” and “tortured,” according to the Washington Post. Now the US Air Force is rushing to upgrade hangar facilities on the island so that stealth bombers can carry 14-ton”bunker busting” bombs in an attack on Iran. Orchestrated propaganda in the media is critical to the success of this act of international piracy.

On 22 May, the front page of the London Guardian carried the banner headline: “Iran’s secret plan for summer offensive to force US out of Iraq.” This was a tract of unalloyed propaganda based entirely on anonymous US official sources. Throughout the media, other drums have taken up the beat. “Iran’s nuclear ambitions” slips effortlessly from newsreaders’ lips, no matter that the International Atomic Energy Agency refuted Washington’s lies, no matter the echo of “Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction,” no matter that another bloodbath beckons.

Lest we forget.

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. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


Iraq war is a betrayal of American democracy By Matt Howard (IVAW)

Claims of secret CIA jail for terror suspects on British island to be investigated by Ian Cobain and Richard Norton-Taylor

Venezuela: Between Ballots And Bullets By James Petras

Dandelion Salad

By James Petras
11/15/07 “ICH


Venezuela’s democratically elected Present Chavez faces the most serious threat since the April 11, 2002 military coup.

Violent street demonstrations by privileged middle and upper middle class university students have led to major street battles in and around the center of Caracas. More seriously, the former Minister of Defense, General Raul Isaias Baduel, who resigned in July, has made explicit calls for a military coup in a November 5th press conference which he convoked exclusively for the right and far-right mass media and political parties, while striking a posture as an ‘individual’ dissident.

The entire international and local private mass media has played up Baduel’s speeches, press conferences along with fabricated accounts of the oppositionist student rampages, presenting them as peaceful protests for democratic rights against the government referendum scheduled for December 2, 2007.

The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the BBC News and the Washington Post have all primed their readers for years with stories of President Chavez’ ‘authoritarianism’. Faced with constitutional reforms which strengthen the prospects for far-reaching political-social democratization, the US, European and Latin American media have cast pro-coup ex-military officials as ‘democratic dissidents’, former Chavez supporters disillusioned with his resort to ‘dictatorial’ powers in the run-up to and beyond the December 2, 2007 vote in the referendum on constitutional reform. Not a single major newspaper has mentioned the democratic core of the proposed reforms — the devolution of public spending and decision to local neighborhood and community councils. Once again as in Chile in 1973, the US mass media is complicit in an attempt to destroy a Latin American democracy.

Even sectors of the center-left press and parties in Latin America have reproduced right-wing propaganda. On November the self-styled ‘leftist’ Mexican daily La Jornada headline read ‘Administrators and Students from the Central University of Venezuela (UCV) Accuse Chavez of Promoting Violence’. The article then proceeded to repeat the rightist fabrications about electoral polls, which supposedly showed the constitutional amendments facing defeat.

The United States Government, both the Republican White House and the Democrat-controlled Congress are once again overtly backing the new attempt to oust the popular-nationalist President Chavez and to defeat the highly progressive constitutional amendments.

The Referendum: Defining and Deepening the Social Transformation

The point of confrontation is the forthcoming referendum on constitutional reforms initiated by President Chavez, debated, amended and democratically voted on by the Venezuelan Congress over the past 6 months. There was widespread and open debate and criticism of specific sectors of the Constitution. The private mass media, overwhelmingly viscerally anti-Chavez and pro-White House, unanimously condemned any and all the constitutional amendments. A sector of the leadership of one of the components of the pro-Chavez coalition (PODEMOS) joined the Catholic Church hierarchy, the leading business and cattleman’s association, bankers and sectors of the university and student elite to attack the proposed constitutional reforms. Exploiting to the hilt all of Venezuela’s democratic freedoms (speech, assembly and press) the opposition has denigrated the referendum as ‘authoritarian’ even as most sectors of the opposition coalition attempted to arouse the military to intervene.

The opposition coalition of the rich and privileged fear the constitutional reforms because they will have to grant a greater share of their profits to the working class, lose their monopoly over market transactions to publicly owned firms, and see political power evolve toward local community councils and the executive branch. While the rightist and liberal media in Venezuela, Europe and the US have fabricated lurid charges about the ‘authoritarian’ reforms, in fact the amendments propose to deepen and extend social democracy.

A brief survey of the key constitutional amendments openly debated and approved by a majority of freely elected Venezuelan congress members gives the lie to charges of ‘authoritarianism’ by its critics. The amendments can be grouped according to political, economic and social changes.

The most important political change is the creation of new locally based democratic forms of political representation in which elected community and communal institutions will be allocated state revenues rather than the corrupt, patronage-infested municipal and state governments. This change toward decentralization will encourage a greater practice of direct democracy in contrast to the oligarchic tendencies embedded in the current centralized representative system.

Secondly, contrary to the fabrications of ex-General Baduel, the amendments do not ‘destroy the existing constitution’, since the amendments modify in greater or lesser degree only 20% of the articles of the constitution (69 out of 350).

The amendments providing for unlimited term elections is in line with the practices of many parliamentary systems, as witnessed by the five terms in office of Australian Prime Minister Howard, the half century rule of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party, the four terms of US President Franklin Roosevelt, the multi-term election of Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair in the UK among others. No one ever questions their democratic credentials for multi-term executive office holding, nor should current critics selectively label Chavez as an ‘authoritarian’ for doing the same.

Political change increasing the presidential term of office from 6 to 7 years will neither increase or decrease presidential powers, as the opposition claims, because the separation of legislative, judicial and executive powers will continue and free elections will subject the President to periodic citizen review.

The key point of indefinite elections is that they are free elections, subject to voter preference, in which, in the case of Venezuela, the vast majority of the mass media, Catholic hierarchy, US-funded NGO’s, big business associations will still wield enormous financial resources to finance opposition activity — hardly an ‘authoritarian’ context.

The amendment allowing the executive to declare a state of emergency and intervene in the media in the face of violent activity to overthrow the constitution is essential for safeguarding democratic institutions. In light of several authoritarian violent attempts to seize power recently by the current opposition, the amendment allows dissent but also allows democracy to defend itself against the enemies of freedom. In the lead up to the US-backed military coup of April 11, 2002, and the petroleum lockout by its senior executives which devastated the economy (a decline of 30% of GNP in 2002/2003), if the Government had possessed and utilized emergency powers, Congress and the Judiciary, the electoral process and the living standards of the Venezuelan people would have been better protected. Most notably, the Government could have intervened against the mass media aiding and abetting the violent overthrow of the democratic process, like any other democratic government. It should be clear that the amendment allowing for ‘emergency powers’ has a specific context and reflects concrete experiences: the current opposition parties, business federations and church hierarchies have a violent, anti-democratic history. The destabilization campaign against the current referendum and the appeals for military intervention most prominently and explicitly stated by retired General Baduel (defended by his notorious adviser-apologist, the academic-adventurer Heinz Dietrich), are a clear indication that emergency powers are absolutely necessary to send a clear message that reactionary violence will be met by the full force of the law.

The reduction of voting age from 18 to 16 will broaden the electorate, increase the number of participants in the electoral process and give young people a greater say in national politics through institutional channels. Since many workers enter the labor market at a young age and in some cases start families earlier, this amendment allows young workers to press their specific demands on employment and contingent labor contracts.

The amendment reducing the workday to six hours is vehemently opposed by the opposition led by the big business federation, FEDECAMARAS, but has the overwhelming support of the trade unions and workers from all sectors. It will allow for greater family time, sports, education, skill training, political education and social participation, as well as membership in the newly formed community councils. Related labor legislation and changes in property rights including a greater role for collective ownership will strengthen labor’s bargaining power with capital, extending democracy to the workplace.

Finally the amendment eliminating so-called ‘Central Bank autonomy’ means that elected officials responsive to the voters will replace Central Bankers (frequently responsive to private bankers, overseas investors and international financial officials) in deciding public spending and monetary policy. One major consequence will be the reduction of excess reserves in devalued dollar denominated funds and an increase in financing for social and productive activity, a diversity of currency holdings and a reduction in irrational foreign borrowing and indebtedness. The fact of the matter is that the Central Bank was not ‘autonomous’, it was dependent on what the financial markets demanded, independent of the priorities of elected officials responding to popular needs.

As the Chavez Government Turns to Democratic Socialism: Centrists Defect and Seek Military Solutions

As Venezuela’s moves from political to social transformation, from a capitalist welfare state toward democratic socialism, predictable defections and additions occur. As in most other historical experiences of social transformation, sectors of the original government coalition committed to formal institutional political changes defect when the political process moves toward greater egalitarianism and property and a power shift to the populace. Ideologues of the ‘Center’ regret the ‘breaking’ of the status quo ‘consensus’ between oligarchs and people (labeling the new social alignments as ‘authoritarian’) even as the ‘Center’ embraces the profoundly anti-democratic Right and appeals for military intervention.

A similar process of elite defections and increased mass support is occurring in Venezuela as the referendum, with its clear class choices, comes to the fore. Lacking confidence in their ability to defeat the constitutional amendments through the ballot, fearful of the democratic majority, resentful of the immense popular appeal of the democratically elected President Chavez, the ‘Center’ has joined the Right in a last ditch effort to unify extra-parliamentary forces to defeat the will of the electorate.

Emblematic of the New Right and the ‘Centrist’ defections is the ex-Minister of Defense, Raul Baduel, whose virulent attack on the President, the Congress, the electoral procedures and the referendum mark him as an aspirant to head up a US-backed right-wing seizure of power.

The liberal and right wing mass media and unscrupulous ‘centrist’ propagandists have falsely portrayed Raul Baduel as the ‘savior’ of Chavez following the military coup of April 2002. The fact of the matter is that Baduel intervened only after hundreds of thousands of poor Venezuelans poured down from the ‘ranchos’, surrounded the Presidential Palace, leading to division in the armed forces. Baduel rejected the minority of rightist military officers favoring a massive bloodbath and aligned with other military officials who opposed extreme measures against the people and the destruction of the established political order. The latter group included officials who supported Chavez’ nationalist-populist policies and others, like Baduel, who opposed the coup-makers because it radicalized and polarized society — leading to a possible class-based civil war with uncertain outcome. Baduel was for the restoration of a ‘chastised’ Chavez who would maintain the existing socio-economic status quo.

Within the Chavez government, Baduel represented the anti-communist tendency, which pressed the President to ‘reconcile’ with the ‘moderate democratic’ right and big business. Domestically, Baduel opposed the extension of public ownership and internationally favored close collaboration with the far-right Colombian Defense Ministry.

Baduel’s term of office as Defense Minister reflected his conservative propensities and his lack of competence in matters of security, especially with regard to internal security. He failed to protect Venezuela’s frontiers from military incursions by Colombia’s armed forces. Worse he failed to challenge Colombia’s flagrant violation of international norms with regard to political exiles. While Baduel was Minister of Defense, Venezuelan landlords’ armed paramilitary groups assassinated over 150 peasants active in land reform while the National Guard looked the other way. Under Baduel’s watch over 120 Colombian paramilitary forces infiltrated the country. The Colombian military frequently crossed the Venezuelan border to attack Colombian refugees. Under Baduel, Venezuelan military officials collaborated in the kidnapping of Rodrigo Granda (a foreign affairs emissary of the FARC) in broad daylight in the center of Caracas. Baduel made no effort to investigate or protest this gross violation of Venezuelan sovereignty, until President Chavez was informed and intervened. Throughout Baduel’s term as Minister of Defense he developed strong ties to Colombia’s military intelligence (closely monitored by US Defense Intelligence Agency and the CIA) and extradited several guerrillas from both the ELN and the FARC to the hands of Colombian torturers.

At the time of his retirement as Minister of Defense, Baduel made a July 2007 speech in which he clearly targeted the leftist and Marxist currents in the trade union (UNT) and Chavez newly announced PSUV (The Unified Socialist Party of Venezuela). His speech, in the name of ‘Christian socialist’, was in reality a vituperative and ill-tempered anti-communist diatribe, which pleased Pope Benedict (Ratzinger).

Baduel’s November 5 speech however marks his public adherence to the hard-line opposition, its rhetoric, fabrications and visions of an authoritarian reversal of Chavez program of democratic socialism. First and foremost, Baduel, following the lead of the White House and the Venezuelan ‘hard right’, denounced the entire process of Congressional debate on the Constitutional amendments, and open electoral campaigning leading up to the referendum as ‘in effect a coup d’etat’. Every expert and outside observer disagreed — even those opposed to the referendum. Baduel’s purpose however was to question the legitimacy of the entire political process in order to justify his call for military intervention. His rhetoric calling the congressional debate and vote a ‘fraud’ and ‘fraudulent procedures’ point to Baduel’s effort to denigrate existing representative institutions in order to justify a military coup, which would dismantle them.

Baduel’s denial of political intent is laughable — since he only invited opposition media and politicians to his ‘press conference’ and was accompanied by several military officials. Baduel resembles the dictator who accuses the victim of the crimes he is about to commit. In calling the referendum on constitutional reform a ‘coup’, he incites the military to launch a coup. In an open appeal for military action he directs the military to ‘reflect of the context of constitutional reform.’ He repeatedly calls on military officials to ‘assess carefully’ the changes the elected government has proposed ‘in a hasty manner and through fraudulent procedures’. While denigrating democratically elected institutions, Baduel resorts to vulgar flattery and false modesty to induce the military to revolt. While immodestly denying that he could act as spokesperson for the Armed Forces, he advised the rightist reporters present and potential military cohort that ‘you cannot underrate the capacity of analysis and reasoning of the military.’

Cant, hypocrisy and disinterested posturing run through Baduel’s pronouncements. His claim of being an ‘apolitical’ critic is belied by his intention to go on a nationwide speaking tour attacking the constitutional reforms, in meetings organized by the rightwing opposition. There is absolutely no doubt that he will not only be addressing civilian audiences but will make every effort to meet with active military officers who he might convince to ‘reflect’…and plot the overthrow of the government and reverse the results of the referendum. President Chavez has every right to condemn Baduel as a traitor, though given his long-term hostility to egalitarian social transformation it may be more to the point to say that Baduel is now revealing his true colors.

The danger to Venezuelan democracy is not in Baduel as an individual — he is out of the government and retired from active military command. The real danger is his effort to arouse the active military officers with command of troops, to answer his call to action or as he cleverly puts it ‘for the military to reflect on the context of the constitutional reforms.’ Baduel’s analysis and action program places the military as the centerpiece of politics, supreme over the 16 million voters.

His vehement defense of ‘private property’ in line with his call for military action is a clever tactic to unite the Generals, Bankers and the middle class in the infamous footsteps of Augusto Pinochet, the bloody Chilean tyrant.

The class polarization in the run-up to the referendum has reached its most acute expression: the remains of the multi-class coalition embracing a minority of the middle class and the great majority of the working power is disintegrating. Millions of previously apathetic or apolitical young workers, unemployed poor and low-income women (domestic workers, laundresses, single parents) are joining the huge popular demonstrations overflowing the main avenues and plazas in favor of the constitutional amendments. At the same time political defections have increased among the centrist-liberal minority in the Chavez coalition. Fourteen deputies in the National Assembly, less than 10%, mostly from PODEMOS, have joined the opposition. Reliable sources in Venezuela (Axis of Logic/Les Blough Nov. 11, 2007) report that Attorney General Beneral Isaias Rodriguez, a particularly incompetent crime fighter, and the Comptroller General Cloudosbaldo Russian are purportedly resigning and joining the opposition. More seriously, these same reports claim that the 4th Armed Division in Marcay is loyal to ‘Golpista’ Raul Baduel. Some suspect Baduel is using his long-term personal ties with the current Minister of Defense, Gustavo Briceno Rangel to convince him to defect and join in the pre-coup preparations. Large sums of US funding is flowing in to pay off state and local officials in cash and in promises to share in the oil booty if Chavez is ousted. The latest US political buy-out includes Governor Luis Felipe Acosta Carliz from the state of Carabobo. The mass media have repeatedly featured these new defectors to the right in their hourly ‘news reports’ highlighting their break with Chavez ‘coup d’etat’.

The referendum is turning into an unusually virulent case of a ‘class against class’ war, in which the entire future of the Latin American left is at stake as well as Washington’s hold on its biggest oil supplier.


Venezuelan democracy, the Presidency of Hugo Chavez and the great majority of the popular classes face a mortal threat. The US is facing repeated electoral defeats and is incapable of large-scale external intervention because of over-extension of its military forces in the Middle East; it is committed once more to a violent overthrow of Chavez. Venezuela through the constitutional reforms, will broaden and deepen popular democratic control over socio-economic policy. New economic sectors will be nationalized. Greater public investments and social programs will take off. Venezuela is moving inexorably toward diversifying its petrol markets, currency reserves and its political alliances. Time is running out for the White House: Washington’s political levers of influence are weakening. Baduel is seen as the one best hope of igniting a military seizure, restoring the oligarchs to power and decimating the mass popular movements.

President Chavez is correctly ‘evaluating the high command’ and states that he ‘has full confidence in the national armed forces and their components.’ Yet the best guarantee is to strike hard and fast, precisely against Baduel’s followers and cohorts. Rounding up a few dozen or hundred military plotters is a cheap price to pay for saving the lives of thousands of workers and activists who would be massacred in any bloody seizure of power.

History has repeatedly taught that when you put social democracy, egalitarianism and popular power at the top of the political agenda, as Chavez has done, and as the vast majority of the populace enthusiastically responds, the Right, the reactionary military, the ‘Centrist’ political defectors and ideologues, the White House, the hysterical middle classes and the Church cardinals will sacrifice any and all democratic freedoms to defend their property, privileges and power by whatever means and at whatever cost necessary. In the current all-pervasive confrontation between the popular classes of Venezuela and their oligarchic and military enemies, only by morally, politically and organizationally arming the people can the continuity of the democratic process of social transformation be guaranteed.

Change will come, the question is whether it will be through the ballot or the bullet.

James Petras, a former Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York, owns a 50-year membership in the class struggle, is an adviser to the landless and jobless in Brazil and Argentina, and is co-author of Globalization Unmasked (Zed Books). His latest book is The Power of Israel in the United States (Clarity Press, 2006). He can be reached at:

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. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Entangling Alliances By Ron Paul

Dandelion Salad

By Ron Paul
11/15/07 “ICH

In the name of clamping down on “terrorist uprisings” in Pakistan, General Musharraf has declared a state of emergency and imposed martial law. The true motivations behind this action however, are astonishingly transparent, as the reports come in that mainly lawyers and opposition party members are being arrested and harassed. Supreme Court justices are held in house arrest after indicating some reluctance to certify the legitimacy of Musharraf’s recent re-election.

Meanwhile, terrorist threats on US interests may be more likely to originate from Pakistan, a country to which we have sent $10 billion.

Now we are placed in the difficult position of either continuing to support a military dictator who has taken some blatantly un-Democratic courses of action, or withdrawing support and angering this nuclear-capable country. The administration is carefully negotiating this tight-rope by “reviewing Pakistan’s foreign aid package” and asking Musharraf to relinquish his military title and schedule elections.

By the time he complies with the requests of the White House sufficiently to continue to receive his “allowance,” courtesy of the American taxpayer, his mission will be accomplished. A more friendly Supreme Court will be installed and enough of the opposition party will be jailed or detained to assure an outcome of the elections that will meet with his approval. All the while, our administration lauds Musharraf as a trusted friend and ally.

So much for a War on Terror. So much for making the world safe for democracy.

Free trade means no sanctions against Iran, or Cuba or anyone else for that matter. Entangling alliances with no one means no foreign aid to Pakistan, or Egypt, or Israel, or anyone else for that matter. If an American citizen determines a foreign country or cause is worthy of their money, let them send it, and encourage their neighbors to send money too, but our government has no authority to use hard-earned American taxpayer dollars to mire us in these nightmarishly complicated, no-win entangling alliances.

When we look at global situations today, the words of our founding fathers are becoming more relevant daily. We need to understand that a simple, humble foreign policy makes us less vulnerable and less targeted on the world stage. Pakistan should not be getting an “allowance” from us and we should not be propping up military dictators that oppress people. We should mind our own business and stop the oppressive taxation of Americans that makes this meddling possible.

Ron Paul is a Republican Congressman from Texas.

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. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

The Sleeping Professions by Ralph Nader

Dandelion Salad

by Ralph Nader
Monday, November 12. 2007

One of the most noticed photographs in the newspapers last week was that of a well-dressed Pakistani lawyer on the streets hurling back a tear gas canister toward the soldiers who were suppressing a demonstration by lawyers protesting the martial law (called “emergency rule”) of Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

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A Financial System under Siege by Prof. Rodrigue Tremblay

Dandelion Salad

by Prof. Rodrigue Tremblay
Global Research, November 16, 2007

“If these items [promised benefits in Social Security, Medicare, Veterans Administration and other entitlement programs] are factored in, the total [debt] burden in present value dollars is estimated to be about $53 trillion. Stated differently, the estimated current total burden for every American is nearly $175,000; and every day that burden becomes larger.”

David Walker, comptroller general of the United States

“The economic forces driving the global saving-investment balance have been unfolding over the course of the past decade, so the steepness of the recent decline in long-term dollar yields and the associated distant forward rates suggests that something more may have been at work.”

Alan Greenspan, former Fed Chairman, July 20, 2005

“The subprime black hole is appearing deeper, darker and scarier than they [the banks] thought. They’ve worked through … about 40 percent of the backlog of the leveraged loan side, and there’s definitely some signs of thaw there.”

Tony James, president and CEO of Blackstone Group LP

The global dollar-based financial system is in crisis and is threatening the prosperity and stability of many economies. Financial excesses of all kinds have undermined its legitimacy and its efficiency. The U.S. dollar is losing its preeminence as the main international reserve currency while many banks are caught in the turmoil of the subprime credit crisis.

The overall background is the unprecedented real estate bubble that took place worldwide, from 1995 to 2005. In the United States, for example, owner-occupied home prices increased annually by an average of about 9 percent. The market value of the stock of owner-occupied homes in the U.S. rose from slightly less than $8 trillion in 1995 to slightly more than $18 trillion in 2005. It has been contracting ever since, confirming the working of the 18-year Kuznets realestate cycle, which has gone from the top of 1987 to the 2005 top.

What makes this period especially dangerous is the fact that the average 54-year long inflation-disinflation-deflation Kondratieff cycle is also at play, having begun in 1949 after prices were unfrozen. World inflation then rose for twenty years, until 1980, which was followed by a period of disinflation under the Volcker Fed. The entry of China into the World Trade Organization (WTO) on December 11, 2001, with its abundant labor and low wages, unleashed strong deflationary forces worldwide. This in turn led to lower inflation expectations paving the way for the Greenspan Fed to keep interest rates abnormally low.

Persistent low interest rates and low inflation expectations led to a binge in borrowing and to a vast increase in market valuation, not only in real estate but also in stocks and bonds. Banks and other mortgage lending institutions took advantage of the opportunity to introduce some financial innovations in order to finance the exploding mortgage market. These innovations resulted in the severing of the traditional direct link between borrower and lender and the reduction in the lending risk normally associated with mortgage loans.

Thus, with the connivance of the rating agencies and of the Federal Reserve System, large banks invented new financial products under various names such as “Collateralized Bond Obligations” (CBOs), “Collateralized Debt Obligations” (CDOs), also called “Structured Investment Vehicles” (SIVs), which had the characteristics of unfunded short term commercial paper. In the residential mortgage market, for example, mortgage brokers and retail lenders would sell their mortgage loans to banks, which in turn would package them together and slice them into different classes of mortgage-backed securities (RMBS), carrying different levels of risk and return, before selling them to investors.

Indeed, these new financial instruments were the end result of a process of “asset securitization” and were slices of bundles of loans, not only of mortgage loans but also of credit cards debts, car loans, student loans and other receivables. Each slice carried a different risk load and a different yield. With the blessing of rating agencies, banks went even one step further, and they began pooling the more risky financial slices into more risky bundles and divided them again to be sold to investors in search of high yields.

By selling these new debt instruments to investors in search of high yields and higher yields, including hedged funds and pension funds, banks were doubly rewarded. First, they collected handsome managing fees for their efforts. But second, and more importantly, they unloaded the risk of lending to the unsuspected buyer of such securities, because in case of default on the original loans, the banks would be scot-free. They had already been paid and had been released from the risk of default and foreclosure on the original loans.

The banks’ residual role was to collect and distribute interest, as long as borrowers made their interest payments. But if payments stopped, the capital losses incurred because of the decline in the value of unperforming loans would instead be carried by the investors in CBOs and CDOs. The banks themselves would suffer no losses and would be free to use their capital bases to engage in additional profitable lending. In fact, the end of the line investors became the real mortgage lenders (without reaping all the rewards of such risky loans) and the banks could reuse their capital to pyramid upward their loan operations. These were the best of times for banks and they gorged themselves without restraint. Some of them paid their employees tens of billions of dollars in year-end bonuses.

Indeed, and it is here that the Fed and other regulatory agencies failed, first line mortgage lenders became more and more aggressive in their lending, with the full knowledge that they could profitably unload the risk downstream. This explains the expansion of the “subprime” mortgage market where borrowing was done with no down payment, no interest payments for a while and no questions asked as to the income and creditworthiness of the borrower. These were not normal lending practices. Such Ponzi schemes could not last forever. And when housing prices started to decline, foreclosures also increased, thus shaking the new financial house of cards to its foundations. Banks became the reluctant owners of some of the foreclosed properties at very discounted values.

Why then are so many banks in financial difficulties, if the lending risk was transferred to unsuspecting investors? Essentially, because when the housing boom burst, the banks’ inventory of unsold “asset-backed securities” was unusually high. When the piper stopped playing and investors stopped buying the newly created risky investments, their value plummeted overnight and banks were left with huge losses still not fully reflected in their financial balance sheets. Indeed, banks that did not unload their stocks of packaged mortgages were forced to accept ownership of foreclose properties at very discounted values. With little or no collateral behind the loans, bad-debt losses became unavoidable.

Since noboby knows for sure the value of something which is not traded, it will take months before banks come to terms with the total losses they have suffered in their stocks of unsold pre-packaged “asset-based securities”. It is more than a normal “liquidity crisis” or “credit crunch” (which results when banks borrow short term and invest in illiquid long term assets); it is more like a “solvency crisis” if the banks’ capital base is overtaken by the disclosure of huge financial losses incurred when the banks are forced to sell mortgaged assets in a depressed real estate market.

This is this financial and banking mess which is unfolding under our very eyes and which is threatening the American and international financial system. There are four classes of losers. First, the homebuyers who bought properties at inflated prices with little or no down payment and who now face foreclosure. Second, the investors who bought illiquid mortgage-backed commercial paper and who stand to lose part or all of their investments. Third, the holders of bank stocks who profited when the system worked smoothly but who now face declining stock values. And, finally, anybody who stands to fall victim, directly or indirectly, to the coming economic slowdown.

Rodrigue Tremblay is a Canadian economist who lives in Montreal; he can be reached at

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Rodrigue Tremblay is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Rodrigue Tremblay

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Indictment, Lawsuit Cloud Giuliani + Fox-Giuliani Connection (videos)

Dandelion Salad

Thursday, November 15th, 2007

Democracy Now!

Indictment, Lawsuit Cloud Presidential Hopes of Ex-New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani

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With the Iowa caucuses 50 days away, more questions about Giuliani’s past have emerged in recent days that could threaten his candidacy. On Friday, his personal friend and business partner Bernard Kerik was indicted on 16 counts of federal corruption charges, including bribery and tax fraud. On Tuesday, it was revealed that one of Kerik’s former lovers, Judith Regan, had sued Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp and accused the company of pressuring her to commit perjury in order to protect Giuliani’s presidential ambition. We speak to investigative reporter and Village Voice senior editor Wayne Barrett, author of two books on Giuliani. [includes rush transcript]

We turn now to former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s run for the White House. With the Iowa caucuses 50 days away, more questions about Giuliani’s past have emerged in recent days that could threaten his candidacy. On Friday, his personal friend and business partner Bernard Kerik was indicted on 16 counts of federal corruption charges, including bribery and tax fraud. The former New York City police commissioner faces up to 142 years in prison and almost $5 million in fines.As mayor of New York, Giuliani helped Kerik rise from being a low-ranking detective to police commissioner after Kerik volunteered to be Giuliani’s driver during his run for re-election. Later, Giuliani made Kerik a partner in his security business and urged President Bush to nominate Kerik to head the Department of Homeland Security.On Tuesday, it was revealed that one of Kerik’s former lovers, Judith Regan, had sued Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp and accused the company of pressuring her to commit perjury in order to protect Giuliani’s presidential ambition. Last year, Regan was fired as head of ReganBooks in the controversy over aborted plans to publish a book by O.J. Simpson. In a wrongful termination suit, Regan says an executive at News Corp pressured her to lie to investigators about her affair with Kerik.

Meanwhile, a new New York Times/CBS poll from Iowa indicates that Giuliani faces an uphill battle in Iowa. 27 percent of voters polled backed former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, 21 percent supported Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, and only 15 percent backed Giuliani.

Investigative reporter Wayne Barrett joins us here in our firehouse studio to talk more about Giuliani.

  • Wayne Barrett. Senior editor at the Village Voice, where hes been covering politics for over twenty years. He is the author of many books including “Rudy!: An Investigative Biography of Rudolph Guiliani.” His latest book is “Grand Illusion: The Untold Story of Rudy Giuliani and 9/11.”


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Live with Dan Abrams – Fox-Giuliani Connection


More at

Nov. 14, 2007: Dan Abrams asks Rudy Giuliani biographer Wayne Barrett, Air America’s Rachel Maddow, ex-Fox News staffer Charlie Reina, and Republican strategist Jack Burkman if Fox News’ parent company plans to put Giuliani in the White House.

In other news.. Jack Burkman still gets booked on cable. Wow.

Added: November 14, 2007

h/t: *RC_REVOLUTION [resistance]


Olbermann: Free Speech Monte + Thicker Than Blackwater + Fox & Friend + Worst Person (videos)

Antiwar Radio: Scott Horton Interviews Chris Floyd (audio link)

Dandelion Salad

Antiwar Radio

Nov. 15, 2007

Chris Floyd, author of Empire Burlesque, the blog and the book, discusses the new government of Gordon Brown in Great Britain, his position on war with Iran, the specious relationship between the US and UK and Saudis, the War Party’s bogus accusations about Iran’s nuclear program and sabotage of any effort to work things out, the win-win position of the neo-mercantilists in the event of war, depression, etc., the death of the republic, end of the empire, and rise of the domestic police state, the willful ignorance and acquiescence of the American people and the responsibility of those of us who care to keep fighting the State anyway.

audio link