Bernanke Finds his Voice By Mike Whitney

Dandelion Salad

By Mike Whitney
12/01/08 “ICH

On Thursday, Fed chairman Ben Bernanke gave the keynote address on the state of the economy and financial markets at a luncheon in Washington, DC. The tone of the speech was decidedly somber and could have easily been accompanied by a funereal dirge and 8 black-suited pall bearers. Bernanke avoided the opaque, hieroglyphic-filled language of his predecessor, Alan Greenspan, and gave a clear presentation of the facts. Unfortunately, the facts are bleak. The economy is in very bad shape.

“Financial market conditions…have produced a volatile situation that has made forecasting the course of the economy even more difficult than usual. (We have seen) continued increases in the prices of energy (as well as) a sharp and protracted correction in the U.S. housing market. According to the most recent available data, housing starts and new home sales have both fallen by about 50 percent from their respective peaks.”

Bernanke made no effort to conceal the gloomy facts:

“Currently, about 21% of subprime ARMs are ninety days or more delinquent, and foreclosure rates are rising sharply …Fraud and abusive practices contributed to the high rates of delinquency that we are now seeing in the subprime ARM market, the more fundamental reason for the sharp deterioration in credit quality was the flawed premise on which much subprime ARM lending was based: that house prices would continue to rise rapidly. (This) will have adverse effects for communities and the broader economy as well as for the borrowers themselves.”

Bernanke was equally blunt about the credit crunch that resulted from the excesses in subprime lending:

“One of the many unfortunate consequences of these events, which may be with us for some time, is on the availability of credit for nonprime borrowers…The far-reaching financial impact of the subprime shock is that it has contributed to a considerable increase in investor uncertainty about the appropriate valuations of a broader range of financial assets, not just subprime mortgages. (As a result) the problems in the subprime mortgage market may lead overall economic growth to slow.”

Bernanke went on to give a very detailed account of how the banks “underwrote many of the loans and created many of the structured credit products (MBS, CDOs, ABCP) that were sold into the market. Banks also supported the various investment vehicles in many ways, for example, by serving as advisers and by providing standby liquidity facilities and various credit enhancements.”

As the problems in subprime have grown, the banks have been forced to take on more and more of their struggling “off balance” sheet operations which dramatically increases their debt-load and further impairs their capital base. This explains why the banks have been reporting huge losses from their deteriorating collateral while their market value has dropped sharply. Now banks have become more restrictive in their lending and credit has become more expensive and less available.

When the banks are unable to issue loans; the economy suffers.

Bernanke added ominously: “The market strains have been serious, and they continue to pose risks to the broader economy.”

Amen, to that. Since the troubles began in late summer, the Fed has slashed rates by a full percentage point to 4.25% and opened a Discount Window to provide billions of dollars directly to the banks. The Fed has also opened a Term Auction Facility (TAF) which has distributed $40 billion in 30-day repos to over 100 under-capitalized banks. The Fed is planning to loan another $60 billion in the next month. These repos are issued secretly (so depositors and shareholders don’t know how bad things really are) and the Fed is accepting a “wide range of collateral”, which means that they are taking “structured investments” (MBSs, CDOs, ASCP) the same garbage that no one will buy on the open-market. In other words, the Fed has established a multi-billion emergency fund which features permanently-rotating loans for banks that made poor investments and are, for all purposes, already bankrupt. This is moral hazard at its absolute worst.

As Bernanke knows, ‘permanent-rotating loans’ is just a clever euphemism for nationalizing the banks and monetizing their debts at the taxpayers’ expense. Many of these institutions are already insolvent. The Fed is just ensuring that there are no consequences for their leveraged bets and reckless speculation. Once again, it’s socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor.

But even these unprecedented measures do not really solve the basic problems of credit quality or the serious constraints on lending. For that, the Fed will have to aggressively slash rates hoping to revive the sagging economy.

Here’s Bernanke’s grim (but realistic) forecast:

“Financial conditions continue to pose a downside risk to the outlook for growth….The financial situation remains fragile, and many funding markets remain impaired. Adverse economic or financial news has the potential to increase financial strains and to lead to further constraints on the supply of credit to households and business…Incoming information has suggested that the baseline outlook for real activity in 2008 has worsened and the downside risks to growth have become more pronounced. Notably, the demand for housing seems to have weakened further, in part reflecting the ongoing problems in mortgage markets. In addition, a number of factors, including higher oil prices, lower equity prices, and softening home values, seem likely to weigh on consumer spending as we move into 2008.”

“The baseline outlook for real activity in 2008 has worsened and the downside risks to growth have become more pronounced.” That says it all. We’re headed into recession and it’s going to be a doozy.

Bernanke’s assessment is only slightly different from the bleakest predictions of the doomsday web sites. Unemployment is on the rise which will continue to be a drag on consumer spending. Inflation is also likely to be a concern as the Fed slashes rates and food and energy prices go through the roof. Even so, the listless economy is so hobbled by the collapse in real estate and the subsequent meltdown in the financial markets, that the Fed will be forced to ease rate by at least 50 basis points at the next Board of Governors meeting followed by further cuts all the way down to 2.5%. (According to Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch) If that’s the case, we can expect to pay 4 to 5 dollars for gas by the end of 2009.

Although Bernanke’s candor is a welcome relief from Greenspan’s circuitous “Fed-speak”, his dark prognosis does little to address the problems facing the markets. It’s hard to tell whether we are entering a new era of Fed transparency or if Bernanke has simply taken the attitude that “When all else fails; tell the truth”. That’s hardly a sign of personal virtue.

The bad economic news is now cascading-down from all sides. The dollar is steadily weakening which sent gold to a new-high of $900 on Friday. Hours earlier, the Commerce Department reported that the trade deficit had skyrocketed 9% to $63.1 billion in November. That puts more pressure on the greenback as foreign investors will continue to flee the US to markets with greater growth-potential.

Also, the nation’s largest brokerage firm, Merrill Lynch is expected to report losses of $15 billion on soured mortgage-backed securities. The nation’s largest bank, Citigroup, is expected to report even bigger losses of $25 billion on similar investments. The nation’s largest mortgage-lender, Countrywide, will (allegedly) face bankruptcy if Bank of America’s $4 billion bid for the ailing company is not accepted. And, the nation’s largest bond insurer, MBIA Inc., may need to raise $10 billion in capital to keep its AAA credit rating. (said William Ackman, president of Pershing Square Capital Management)

Get the picture? The giants of the financial industry are either on the brink of annihilation or they have joined the long conga-line of haggard CFOs who are on their way to Beijing with begging bowl in hand. Battered banks and corporations are increasingly forced to get capital in the only place it is still available; China and the oil producing countries. Thus, the life’s-blood of capitalism now surges through a communist artery. How’s that for irony?

On Friday, the RBC Cash Index reported that consumer confidence had fallen to an all-time low. The US consumer is over-extended, underpaid, and worried about everything from his soaring energy bills, to diminishing job security, to the mass foreclosures. The report was released just hours before the Dow Jones Industrial Average took a 246 point swan-dive in heavy trading. The prevailing mood on Wall Street is gloomy and the feeling is that the worst is yet to come. Judging by the extraordinary steps taken by the Fed; we could be facing a Force 5 fiscal-hurricane.

Economic soothsayer Doug Noland summed it up like this:

“The Mortgage Finance Bubble is a bust, Wall Street finance is imploding, and foreign financial institutions are keen to cut and run from the business of providing U.S. Credit… Worse yet, the economy is quickly succumbing to recessionary forces. With a high degree of confidence we can proclaim that the Mortgage Crisis has now evolved into a Corporate Debt Crisis – and this crisis will not be resolved anytime soon – by rates, by helicopters, or by bailouts.” (Doug Noland “Mortgage Crisis to Corporate Debt Crisis”, Prudent Bear)

Thanks for your honesty, Ben, but all the exits appear to be bolted-shut. We’ll have to ride this storm out from inside the bunker.


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.

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Gulf Shenanigans: No Laughing Matter By Ray McGovern

Dandelion Salad

By Ray McGovern
12/01/08 “ICH
Consortiumnews.com

When the Tonkin Gulf incident took place in early August 1964, I was a journeyman CIA analyst in what Condoleezza Rice refers to as “the bowels of the agency.” As current intelligence referent for Russian policy toward Southeast Asia and China, I worked very closely with those responsible for analysis of Vietnam and China.

Out of that experience I must say that, as much as one might be tempted to laugh at the bizarre antics of Sunday’s incident involving small Iranian boats and US naval ships in the Strait of Hormuz, this is-as my old Russian professor used to say-nothing to laugh.

The situation is so reminiscent of what happened-and didn’t happen-from Aug 2-4, 1964 in the Gulf of Tonkin and in Washington, it is in no way funny. At the time, the US had about 16,000 troops in South Vietnam. The war that was “justified” by the Tonkin Gulf resolution of Aug. 7, 1964 led to a buildup to 535,000 US troops in the late Sixties, 58,000 of whom were killed-not to mention the estimated two million Vietnamese who lost their lives by then and in the ensuing ten years.

Ten years. How can our president speak so glibly about ten more years of a U.S. armed presence in Iraq? Wonder why he doesn’t know anything about Vietnam.

Intelligence Lessons From Vietnam and Iraq

What follows is written primarily for honest intelligence analysts and managers still on “active duty.” The issuance of the recent National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran was particularly welcome to those of us who had been hoping there were enough of you left who had not been thoroughly corrupted by former CIA Director George Tenet and his flock of malleable managers.

We are not so much surprised at the integrity of Tom Fingar, who is in charge of national intelligence analysis. He showed his mettle in manfully resisting forgeries and fairy tales about Saddam Hussein’s “weapons of mass destruction.” What is, frankly, a happy surprise is the fact that he and other non-ideologues and non-careerist professionals have been able to prevail and speak truth to power on such dicey issues as Iran-nuclear, the upsurge in terrorism caused by the US invasion of Iraq, and the year-old NIE saying Iraq is headed for hell in a hand basket (with no hint that a “surge” could make a difference).

But those are the NIEs. They share the status of “supreme genre” of analytic product with the President’s Daily Brief and other vehicles for current intelligence, the field in which I labored, first in the analytic trenches and then as a briefer at the White House, for most of my 27-year career. True, the NIE “Iraq’s Continuing Program for Weapons of Mass Destruction” of Oct. 1, 2002 (wrong on every major count) greased the skids for the attack on Iraq on March 19, 2003. But it is more often current intelligence that is fixed upon to get the country into war.

The Tonkin Gulf events are perhaps the best case in point. We retired professionals are hopeful that Fingar can ensure integrity in the current intelligence process as well as in intelligence estimates.

Salivating for Wider War: Tonkin Gulf

Given the confusion last Sunday in the Persian Gulf, you need to remember that a “known known” in the form of a non-event has already been used to sell a major war-Vietnam. It is not only in retrospect that we know that no attack occurred that night.

Those of us in intelligence, not to mention President Lyndon Johnson, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, and national security adviser, McGeorge Bundy all knew full well that the evidence of any armed attack on the evening of Aug. 4, 1964, the so-called “second” Tonkin Gulf incident, was highly dubious. But it fit the president’s purposes, so they lent a hand to facilitate escalation of the war.

During the summer of 1964 President Johnson and the Joint Chiefs of Staff were eager to widen the war in Vietnam. They stepped up sabotage and hit-and-run attacks on the coast of North Vietnam. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara later admitted that he and other senior leaders had concluded that the seaborne attacks “amounted to little more than pinpricks” and “were essentially worthless,” but they continued.

Concurrently, the National Security Agency was ordered to collect signals intelligence from the North Vietnamese coast on the Gulf of Tonkin, and the surprise coastal attacks were seen as a helpful way to get the North Vietnamese to turn on their coastal radars. The destroyer USS Maddox, carrying electronic spying gear, was authorized to approach as close as eight miles from the coast and four miles from offshore islands, some of which had been subjected to intense shelling by clandestine attack boats.

As James Bamford describes it in “Body of Secrets:”

“The twin missions of the Maddox were in a sense symbiotic. The vessel’s primary purpose was to act as a seagoing provocateur-to poke its sharp gray bow and the American flag as close to the belly of North Vietnam as possible, in effect shoving its 5-inch cannons up the nose of the Communist navy. In turn, this provocation would give the shore batteries an excuse to turn on as many coastal defense radars, fire control systems, and communications channels as possible, which could then be captured by the men…at the radar screens. The more provocation, the more signals…

“The Maddox’ mission was made even more provocative by being timed to coincide with commando raids, creating the impression that the Maddox was directing those missions and possibly even lobbing firepower in their support….

“North Vietnam also claimed at least a twelve-mile limit and viewed the Maddox as a trespassing ship deep within its territorial waters.”
(pp 295-296)

On Aug. 2, 1964 an intercepted message ordered North Vietnamese torpedo boats to attack the Maddox. The destroyer was alerted and raced out to sea beyond reach of the torpedoes, three of which were fired in vain at the destroyer’s stern. The Maddox’ captain suggested that the rest of his mission be called off, but the Pentagon refused. And still more commando raids were launched on Aug. 3, shelling for the first time targets on the mainland, not just the offshore islands.

Early on Aug. 4, the Maddox captain cabled his superiors that the North Vietnamese believed his patrol was directly involved with the commando raids and shelling. That evening at 7:15 (Vietnam time) the Pentagon alerted the Maddox to intercepted messages indicating that another attack by patrol boats was imminent.

What followed was panic and confusion. There was a score of reports of torpedo and other hostile attacks, but no damage and growing uncertainty as to whether any attack actually took place. McNamara was told that “freak radar echoes” were misinterpreted by “young fellows” manning the sonar, who were “apt to say any noise is a torpedo.”

This did not prevent McNamara from testifying to Congress two days later that there was “unequivocal proof” of a new attack. And based largely on that, on the following day (Aug. 7) Congress passed the Tonkin Gulf resolution bringing ten more years of war.

Meanwhile, in the Trenches

By the afternoon of Aug. 4 (Washington time), the CIA’s expert analyst on North Vietnam (let’s call him “Tom”) had concluded that probably no one had fired on US ships in the Tonkin Gulf over the past 24 hours. He included a paragraph to that effect in the item he wrote for the Current Intelligence Bulletin, which would be wired to the White House and other key agencies and appear in print the next morning.

And then something unique happened. The Director of the Office of Current Intelligence, a very senior officer whom Tom had never before seen, descended into the bowels of the agency to order the paragraph deleted. He explained:

“We’re not going to tell LBJ that now. He has already decided to bomb North Vietnam. We have to keep our lines open to the White House.”

“Tom” later bemoaned-quite rightly: “What do we need lines open for, if we’re not going to use them, and use them to tell the truth?”

A year or two ago, in the wake of the policy/intelligence fiasco on Iraq, I would have been inclined to comment sarcastically, “How quaint; how obsolete.” But the good news is that the analysts writing the National Intelligence Estimates have now reverted to the ethos in which “Tom” and I were proud to work.

Today’s analysts/reporters of current intelligence need to follow their good example. And we trust that Tom Fingar will hold their feet to the fire. For if they don’t rise to the challenge, the consequences are sure to be disastrous. This should be obvious in the wake of the Tonkin Gulf experience, not to mention the more recent performance of senior officials before the attack on Iraq in 2003.

The late Ray S. Cline, who at the time was the boss of the Director of Current Intelligence, said he was “very sure” that no attack took place on Aug. 4. He suggested that McNamara had shown the president unevaluated signals intelligence which referred to the (real) earlier attack on Aug. 2 rather than the non-event on the 4th. There was no sign of remorse on Cline’s part that he didn’t step in and make sure the president was told the truth.

We in the trenches knew there was no attack; and so did the Director of Current Intelligence as well as Cline, who was Deputy Director for Intelligence. But all knew, as did McNamara, that President Johnson was lusting for a pretext to strike the North and escalate the war. And so, like B’rer Rabbit, they didn’t say nothin’.

Commenting on the interface of intelligence and policy on Vietnam, a well respected, retired senior CIA officer addressed:

“… the dilemma CIA directors and senior intelligence professionals face in cases when they know that unvarnished intelligence judgments will not be welcomed by the President, his policy managers, and his political advisers…[They] must decide whether to tell it like it is (and so risk losing their place at the President’s advisory table), or to go with the flow of existing policy by accentuating the positive (thus preserving their access and potential influence). In these episodes from the Vietnam era, we have seen that senior CIA officers more often than not tended toward the latter approach.”
“CIA and the Vietnam Policymakers: Three Episodes, 1962-1968″ Harold P. Ford

Bummer. I wish there were more of a sense of anger at that.

Back to Iran. This time, we all know that the president and vice president are seeking an excuse to attack Iran. There is a big difference from the situation in the summer of 1964, when President Johnson had intimidated all his senior subordinates into using deceit to escalate the war. Bamford comments on the disingenuousness of Robert McNamara when he testified in 1968 that it was “inconceivable” that senior officials, including the president, deliberately used the Tonkin Gulf events to generate Congressional support for a wider Vietnam war.

In Bamford’s words, the Joint Chiefs of Staff had become “a sewer of deceit,” with Operation Northwoods and other unconscionable escapades to its credit. Then-Under Secretary of State George Ball commented, “There was a feeling that if the destroyer got into some trouble, that this would provide the provocation we needed.”

Good News: It’s Different Now

As indicated above, we now have more integrity at the top of the intelligence community. But, in my view, the main thing that has prevented Bush and Cheney from attacking Iran so far has been the strong opposition of the uniformed military, including the Joint Chiefs. The circumstances attending the misadventure last Sunday in the Strait of Hormuz are far from clear. But the incident certainly shows that our senior military need all the help they can get from intelligence officers more concerned with the truth than with “keeping lines open to the White House” and doing its bidding.

In addition, today the intelligence oversight committees in Congress seem to be waking from their Rip Van Winkle-like slumber. It was Congress, after all, that ordered the controversial NIE on Iran/nuclear (and was among those pushing strongly that it be publicized). And the flow of substantive intelligence to Congress is much larger than it was in 1964 when, remember, there were no intelligence committees as such.

So listen, you inheritors of the honorable profession of current intelligence, don’t let them grind you down. If you’re working in the bowels of the agency and you find that your leaders are cooking intelligence to a recipe for casus belli, think long and hard about the oath you took to protect the Constitution of the United States from all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Should not that oath transcend in importance any secrecy promise you had to agree to as a condition of employment?

By sticking your neck out, you might be able to prevent ten years of unnecessary war.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in Washington, DC. He was an Army infantry/intelligence officer, then a current intelligence analyst at CIA, and is now on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

This article appeared first on Consortiumnews.com.


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.

see

Why is Iran Still in the Cross-Hairs? by Dr. Ellen Hodgson Brown

Another Iranian Act of Aggression by Gordon Prather h/t: Greg

Showdown in the Strait of Hormuz: Strait Facts by Daniel M. Pourkesali

US War Plans & the “Strait of Hormuz Incident”: Just Who Threatens Whom? by Michel Chossudovsky

Fraud US-Style: Fake Videos & Elections by Stephen Lendman

Bush Admin Pushes US Closer To War With Iran by Dennis Kucinich

Iran & US Navy have confrontation at sea (videos; propaganda)

“What is the lesson to be learned from the Holocaust?” By Silvia Cattori

Dandelion Salad

By Silvia Cattori
11/01/08 “ICH

An interview with Hedy Epstein

Hedy Epstein, is a German Jewish Holocaust survivor, born in 1924, whose parents were sent to Auschwitz in 1942, where they perished. In 1948, Hedy Epstein went to live in United States. In 2003, she decided to make a trip to Palestine. Shocked by the oppression that the Israeli government is imposing on the Palestinians, she is, since then, devoting herself to make it known to the world. In the interview she gave to the Swiss journalist Silvia Cattori, Hedy Epstein speaks, with her gentle and mild voice, about her last travel to Palestine after a moving visit to one of several concentration camps to which her parents were deported. And she said: “I would like to dedicate this interview to the children of Gaza, whose parents cannot protect them or send them away to safety as my parents did when they sent me to England in May 1939 on a Kindertransport” (1) Continue reading

01.11.08 Uncensored News Reports From Across The Middle East (video; over 18 only)

Dandelion Salad

Warning
.
This video may contain images depicting the reality and horror of war and should only be viewed by a mature audience.

Selected Episode

Jan. 11, 2008

linktv

For more: http://linktv.org/originalseries
“Palestinians Disappointed with Bush’s Visit,” Dubai TV, UAE
“US Media Downplays Visit,” IBA TV, Israel
“Bush Heads to the Gulf,” Al Jazeera TV, Qatar
“Recruiting Collaborators in Gaza,” Al Aqsa, Gaza
“US Loosens Pressure on Syria,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
“Major Attack on Al Qaeda in Iraq,” Al Jazeera English, Qatar
“Rebuilding Historic Anbar Museum,” Baghdad TV, Iraq
“MIR: Bush the Peacemaker?,” Link TV, USA
Produced for Link TV by Jamal Dajani.

The Road to the Greenhouse (video; PETA)

Dandelion Salad

lovefromjack

This is political spoof video I worked on for PETA in collaboration with Free Range Graphics. I wrote the script, and they animated the characters. I love it very much. – lovefromjack

Added: January 11, 2008

see

On The Issues: Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul by Lo (updated again)

Kucinich-Dennis

Kucinich Says Rumors Of Errors Should Be Addressed (video)

Dandelion Salad

freedomlost2007

Kucinich Says Rumors Of Errors Should Be Addressed

CONCORD, N.H. — The New Hampshire secretary of state will conduct hand recounts of Tuesday’s Democratic and Republican primaries.Democratic candidate Dennis Kucinich and lesser-known Republican Albert Howard asked for the primary recounts.Kucinich, who received 1.4 percent of the New Hampshire primary vote said that he is asking for the recount because of what he says are unexplained disparities between hand-counted ballots and machine-counted ballots and rumors online of counting errors.

Kucinich said he doesn’t expect the recount to affect the results.

“It is imperative that these questions be addressed in the interest of public confidence in the integrity of the election process and the election machinery,” Kucinich said in a written statement.  Howard received 44 votes in the Republican primary, according to unofficial results released by the secretary of state’s office.  Secretary of State Bill Gardner said that Kucinich and Howard must pay for the recounts. State law allows a candidate to request a recount, but if the difference between votes received for the winner and the candidate requesting the recount is greater than 3 percent, the candidate must pay for the recount.  If the candidate asking for the recount is then declared the winner or loses by less than 1 percent of the total votes cast, the cost is refunded by the state.  Gardner said the last time New Hampshire did a statewide recount of the results of the presidential primary was in 1980.

http://invenice.net/content/view/2652…

January 12, 2008

see

Alex Jones Interview: Dennis Kucinich demands recount (videos of audio)

On The Issues: Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul by Lo (updated again)

The Winning Ticket: Hillary and Diebold in 2008 By Mike Whitney

Kucinich Asks for New Hampshire Recount in the Interest of Election Integrity

Recount – Is Dennis Kucinich walking into a trap? by Bev Harris

Kucinich-Dennis

Dennis 4 President

Why is Iran Still in the Cross-Hairs? by Dr. Ellen Hodgson Brown

Dandelion Salad

by Dr. Ellen Hodgson Brown
Global Research, January 12, 2008
webofdebt.com

Clues from the Project of a New American Century

In the latest escalation of tensions with Iran, on January 5, 2008 five Iranian patrol boats surrounded three U.S. ships in the Strait of Hormuz, coming within a “threatening” 200 meters. A voice with a thick accent then said in English, “I am coming at you – you will explode in a couple of minutes.” The U.S. ships prepared to strike, when the patrol boats backed off. That is how the Pentagon told it, but Iranians have questioned where the threatening voice came from, and Pentagon officials have admitted that they could not confirm that it came directly from the Iranian crews involved. They have also admitted that the voice and the video film were recorded separately, adding to the mysterious circumstances. 1

Skeptical observers might think that the two countries were being goaded into World War III – either that, or that someone wanted to convince American viewers that Iran indeed remained a threat, despite a recent National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) finding that the country is not engaged in a nuclear weapons program as formerly alleged. Before President George W. Bush left for his Middle East visit on January 8, he told the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot, “Part of the reason I’m going to the Middle East is to make it abundantly clear to nations in that part of the world that we view Iran as a threat, and that the NIE in no way lessens that threat.” 2 Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) said in a recent MSNBC news broadcast that there is still a “great possibility” of nuclear action against Iran. The target has just shifted from nuclear power plants to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, which has been declared a terrorist organization. Paul said, “[T]here are still quite a few neoconservatives who want to go after Iran under these unbelievable conditions.” 3

The question is, why? One popular theory holds that the push for war is all about oil; but many countries have oil, and we don’t normally invade them to get their assets. Why go to war for Iran’s oil when we can just buy it?

Another theory says that the saber-rattling is about defending the dollar. Iran is threatening to open its own oil bourse, and it is already selling most of its oil in non-dollar currencies. Iran has broken the petrodollar stranglehold imposed in the 1970s, when OPEC entered into an agreement with the United States to sell oil only in U.S. dollars.4 But as William Engdahl pointed out in a March 2006 editorial, Iran is not alone in wanting to drop the dollar as its oil currency; and war with Iran has been in the cards as part of the U.S. Greater Middle East strategy since the 1990s, long before it threatened to open its own oil bourse. 5

The Greater Middle East strategy

. . . Could the published plans for that program hold some clues? Iran was targeted in the infamous policy paper titled “Rebuilding America’s Defenses,” published by the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) in 2000. The document was patterned from an earlier blueprint called “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm,” drafted for Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in 1996. 6 In a May 2005 summary of the PNAC directive, Professor Michel Chossudovsky described PNAC as a neo-conservative think tank linked to the Defense-Intelligence establishment, the Republican Party and the powerful Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), which plays an important role in the formulation of U.S. foreign policy. In “Rebuilding America’s Defenses,” PNAC called for “the direct imposition of U.S. ‘forward bases’ throughout Central Asia and the Middle East, with a view to ensuring economic domination of the world, while strangling any potential ‘rival’ or any viable alternative to America’s vision of a ‘free market’ economy.” 7

Strangling any potential rival or viable alternative to America’s vision of a free market economy

. . . Could that be it? It is a matter of historical interest that the notion of a “free market” economy hasn’t always been “America’s vision.” In the nineteenth century, “free trade” was something many Americans resisted. They saw it as a British scheme to exploit America of its resources, at a time when British bankers had a corner on the gold that was the exclusive coin of international trade. When the gold standard was abandoned in 1971, the U.S. dollar became the world’s reserve currency in its stead. Many disillusioned people in developing countries today suspect that America’s global “free market” is another form of exploitation — prying countries open to be plundered of their physical and human resources in return for loans of the dollars necessary to buy oil at inflated prices. Oil is the bait for ensnaring the world in the debt trap, and the terrorism that must be suppressed is the rebellion of any locals who will not be ensnared quietly. The weapon in this economic war is debt, and the bullets are compound interest.

The story has been widely circulated that when Albert Einstein was asked what the most powerful force in the universe was, he replied, “compound interest.” The story is probably apocryphal, but it underscores the force of the concept. Compound interest has allowed a private global banking cartel to control most of the resources of the world. The debt trap was set in 1974, when OPEC was induced to trade its oil only in U.S. dollars. The price of oil then suddenly quadrupled, and countries with insufficient dollars for their oil needs had to borrow them. In 1980, international interest rates shot up to 20 percent. At 20 percent interest compounded annually, $100 doubles in under 4 years; and in 20 years, it becomes a breathtaking $3,834. 8 The impact on Third World debtors was devastating. President Obasanjo of Nigeria complained in 2000:

All that we had borrowed up to 1985 was around $5 billion, and we have paid about $16 billion; yet we are still being told that we owe about $28 billion. That $28 billion came about because of the injustice in the foreign creditors’ interest rates. If you ask me what is the worst thing in the world, I will say it is compound interest. 9

Could the “viable economic alternative” that threatens the Western economic model be one that declares the collecting of interest to be illegal? That is the model Iran is now holding out to the world. In 1979, Iran was established as an “Islamic Republic,” designed to enforce the principles of the Koran not just morally or religiously but as a matter of state government policy. Afghanistan, which is also in the cross-hairs of the U.S. war machine, and Pakistan, which the U.S. is trying hard to control, are also Islamic Republics. The economic principles of the Koran include Sharia banking, which forbids “usury.” In the Koran, usury is defined as charging not just excess interest but any interest.

That is also how the term was defined under Old English law until Protestant scholars redefined it in the seventeenth century, opening the Christian world to a form of economic advantage formerly available only to Jewish money lenders. In Jewish scriptures, charging interest was forbidden between “brothers” but was allowed in dealings with “foreigners.” (See, for example, Deuteronomy 23:19, “You must not make your brother pay interest,” and 23:20, “You may make

a foreigner pay interest, but your brother you must not make pay interest.”) This point is raised here not to indict the Jewish people (who are not the “global bankers”) but for its historical relevance in tracking the divergence of two religious systems. Charging interest on loans has been accepted banking practice throughout the Judao-Christian world for so long that we don’t think there is anything wrong with it today, but that hasn’t always been true. The history of interest is detailed in an article in The World Guide Encyclopedia, which is published in Uruguay and has a Third World/Islamic slant. It states:

The practice of usury – lending money and accumulating interest on the loan – can be traced back 4,000 years. But it has always been despised, condemned, restricted or banned by moral, ethical, legal or religious entities. . . .

During the prophet Muhammad’s lifetime, criticism of usury became established. This stance was reinforced by his teachings in the Qur’an, around 600 AD. . . .

Judaism’s criticisms of usury are rooted in several passages of the Old Testament in which charging interest is scorned, discouraged and prohibited. . . . [I]n Deuteronomy, [the ban] extends to all loans, excluding trade with foreigners. The word “foreigner” is interpreted in general as “enemy” and, armed with this text, Jews employed usury as a weapon, as other people’s needs could be transformed into submission. . . .

The prohibition of usury was adopted as a major campaign by the earliest Christian Church, following on from Jesus’ expulsion of the money-lenders from the temple. . . . [T]he Catholic Church of the 4th century AD banned the clergy from charging interest, a rule that was later extended in the 5th century to the laity. . . .

[A]round 1620, according to the theologian Ruston, “usury passed from being an offense against public morality, which a Christian government was expected to suppress, to being a matter of private conscience, and a new generation of Christian moralists redefined usury as excessive interest”. . . . [I]t is interesting to contrast the clear moral mandate expressed through Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum (634-644 AD) about “ravenous usury” as “a demon condemned by the Church but practiced in a deceitful way by avaricious men,” with Pope John Paul II‘s encyclical Solicitude Rei Socialis (1987) which omits any explicit mention of usury, except for a vague reference to recognizing the Third World debt crisis.

This “demon” governs current global relations, condemning most of the world population to living under the sign of debt: i.e., each person born in Latin America owes already $1,600 in foreign debt; each individual being conceived in Sub-Saharan Africa carries the burden of a $336 debt, for something that its ancestors have long ago paid-off. In 1980 the Southern countries’ debt amounted to $567 billion; since then, they have paid $3,450 billion in interest and write-offs, six times the original amount. In spite of this, that debt had quadrupled by the year 2000, reaching $2,070 billion. 10

Islamic scholars have been seeking to devise a global banking system that would serve as an alternative to the interest-based scheme that is in control of the world economy, and Iran has led the way in devising that model. Iran was able to escape the debt trap that captured other developing countries because it had its own oil. Few Islamic banks existed before Iran became an Islamic Republic in 1979, but the concept is now spreading globally. With the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989, the viable economic model that threatens the global dominance of the Western banking clique may no longer be Communism. It may be the specter of an Islamic banking system that would strip a private banking cartel of the compound interest scheme that is its most powerful economic weapon.

President Bush assured allies before his Mideast trip, “It’s important for the people in the region to know that while all options remain on the table, that I believe we can solve this problem diplomatically, and the way to do that is to continue to isolate Iran in the international community.” 11 Isolate Iran from whom? Isolation is something that is done to prevent contagion. The contagion to be contained may be the creation of an Islamic State pursuing the principles of Sharia law, something that is now the rallying cry for many Muslims around the world.

Ellen Brown, J.D., developed her research skills as an attorney practicing civil litigation in Los Angeles. In Web of Debt, her latest book, she turns those skills to an analysis of the Federal Reserve and “the money trust.” She shows how this private cartel has usurped the power to create money from the people themselves, and how we the people can get it back. Her eleven books include the bestselling Nature’s Pharmacy, co-authored with Dr. Lynne Walker, which has sold 285,000 copies. Her websites are www.webofdebt.com and www.ellenbrown.com.


www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright Ellen Hodgson Brown, webofdebt.com, 2008
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7783

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Iran

Another Iranian Act of Aggression by Gordon Prather h/t: Greg

Showdown in the Strait of Hormuz: Strait Facts by Daniel M. Pourkesali

US War Plans & the “Strait of Hormuz Incident”: Just Who Threatens Whom? by Michel Chossudovsky

Fraud US-Style: Fake Videos & Elections by Stephen Lendman

Bush Admin Pushes US Closer To War With Iran by Dennis Kucinich

Iran & US Navy have confrontation at sea (videos; propaganda)

US Elections: Just Like the Movies by Ramzy Baroud

Dandelion Salad

by Ramzy Baroud
Global Research, January 11, 2008

The United States political process bears an uncanny resemblance to mainstream filmmaking. Elections and speeches are scripted to the letter, politicians put on a tirelessly rehearsed act, catering endlessly to the whims of the target audience. A successful Hollywood filmmaker can’t afford to risk raising issues in a way that don’t immediately reflect audience sympathies. Good politicians vying for votes are similar in that they speak according to the already existing expectations — and prejudices — of the voting public.

Rarely do candidates stand behind a podium without amending or overriding their personal beliefs in return for generating applause. You would hardly hear, for example, of a US presidential candidate getting booed by an audience.

Candidates do not bring fresh principals to the table, but instead shape their views based on what national and local polls tell them matters to the voting public. And what matters is largely manipulated by the media and the state. Their combined scare tactics convinced most Americans of outright falsehoods, such as Saddam’s ties to 9/11, his stockpiles of WMDs, the “liberation” of women in Afghanistan, and so forth.

In a healthy democracy, the media is expected to represent the interests of the people — all the people, while the government serves as a conduit to carry and defend these interests without violating the constitution. But in the age of evangelical fanatics, lobby groups, international corporations and lucrative Iraq contracts, democracy itself can be placed on hold.

Indeed, maintaining the image of a democracy while violating its genuine principles has consumed the efforts of successive US administrations. No other administration, however, has compromised the interest of the American people and flouted the constitution as much as the brazen Bush administration. No wonder Republicans were squarely defeated in the Congressional elections of 2006. Americans clearly voted for change, but change in a system so skilfully corrupt doesn’t come easy. The way in which Democrats supported the recent spending bill for 2008, their vacillating stance on Iraq, and their downright hawkish stance on Iran say volumes about their contribution to maintaining the status quo.

Democrats are also bound by the rules of the game. They need the money, media coverage and lobbyists. Currently there are 35,000 registered federal lobbyists representing all sorts of special interests, including foreign powers such as Israel, whose collaborative role in the Iraq fiasco is too blatant to overlook.

Barack Obama, who does indeed have little experience of understanding how the system works still possesses a talent for pleasing the crowd. Thus his initial assertion that lobbyists “won’t work in my White House”. Then, possibly after being told by his campaign managers that special interests are more influential than the rest of the country, he tweaked his vow slightly whereby lobbyists “are not going to dominate my White House.” Although his pledge changed its substance almost entirely, he was able to receive victory in Iowa.

For now, analysts can extract temporary comfort from the prevailing interpretation of the Iowa caucuses’ results. Obama was elected by the Democratic caucuses with 37 per cent because he was the only nominee that managed to present a truly new message — that he and only he can advocate real “change”. As for former Arkansas governor, Republican Mike Huckabee, he was the best possible candidate to represent the Republican voters’ conservative concerns. The former Baptist pastor is the rising star of the Christian evangelicals who boast 40 million followers, all tied by an outrageous message of doomsday.

Rev Stan Moody of the Christian Policy Institute, writes, “Huckabee is a Rapturist” in reference to the mid-19th Century interpretation of biblical text which culminated in 1909 as the Scofield Desk Reference Bible. This envisions — and not metaphorically — a Greater Israel as a precondition to the return of Christ, who, with the true Christians, will defeat Satanic forces, convert 144,000 Jews and exterminate the rest. It has no Harry Potter twists, but it puts Hollywood horror movies to shame. The actual concern is that this group has cultivated an alliance with the Israeli government since the late 1970s and is a major powerbroker in US foreign policy in the Middle East.

In her article, which appeared in The Jerusalem Post on 3 January, Hilary Leila Krieger reported from Iowa that Huckabee “has also been staunchly supportive of Israel, writing in Foreign Affairs that, ‘I will not waver in standing by our ally Israel.’ It is a country he has visited several times, leading groups there as well as taking his family.”

According to the same article, “Huckabee has drawn on his experience in the Holy Land in making his pitch to voters, which has especially resonated with evangelicals.”

With the notable exceptions of Republican Ron Paul and Democrat Dennis Kucinich, most visible presidential candidates were eager to compromise the interest of their country to guarantee that of Israel’s. Clinton and Obama exemplify this. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) wrote, “Obama has always enjoyed strong Jewish support since entering state politics in Illinois in 1996, although some in the pro-Israel establishment are wary of his calls to negotiate with rogue states such as Syria and Iran.” JTA, of course, nonchalantly substitute the word ‘Zionist’ for ‘Jewish’, but that’s another story.

While supporting Israel, right or wrong, is business as usual for US politicians, Huckabee’s advent — described as the “second coming” of Ronald Reagan by a producer at an Iowa TV station, is the truly alarming trend. He cannot simply be dismissed as a lunatic Armageddonist who thinks that he can win an election; he actually captured the Republican endorsement in Iowa.

Huckabee knows well how to carry the momentum to the next destination — he needs to keep up the religious fervour, as narrow-minded and irrational as it may be. We are told that this is what voters are expecting. To win, like a good filmmaker, Huckabee must deliver.

Life can indeed resemble the movies, but in the case of US elections the movie has become so familiar and predictable that it’s no longer even entertaining.

Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an author and editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His work has been published in many newspapers and journals worldwide. His latest book is The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle (Pluto Press, London).
Ramzy Baroud is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Ramzy Baroud

The CRG grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified. The source and the author’s copyright must be displayed. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: crgeditor@yahoo.com

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright Ramzy Baroud, Global Research, 2008
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7780

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2008 Election

Kucinich-Dennis

Paul-Ron

Levite Be Gone: Releasing the Samaritan Within By Jason Miller

Dandelion Salad

By Jason Miller
Thomas Paine Corner
1/9/08

[30] In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. [31] A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. [32] So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. [33] But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. [34] He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. [35] The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

[36] “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

[37] The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

—Luke 10:25-37

In contrast to the seriousness of Christ’s message, consider a related irony that is comically absurd. Commonly referred to as the “U.S.” our nation consists of grossly deformed social, political, economic, and cultural systems that indoctrinate us in the quasi-religion of “it’s all about me” while conditioning us to reflexively reject nearly all things related to the collective “US.”

Self-satisfied and narcissistic little careerists that many of us are, we remain oblivious to the immense suffering we are inflicting on the world as we gleefully pursue the American Dream, replete with the requisite Hummer, McMansion, trophy spouse, 2.5 “perfect” children, and all the trappings to which our American Exceptionalism entitles us at the expense of billions of other humans, hundreds of billions of non-human animals, and Mother Earth herself.

Sure, many of us hear Jesus’s parable and think of ourselves as the Good Samaritans. After all, our humanitarian imperialism has made the world safe for freemarket-dom and corporatocracy for years. And those “ignorant savages” whom we have “rescued” by bringing them the “stability” of ruthless dictatorships and showing them how to put their resources we exploit to good use damn well better be thankful we bestowed our “compassion” upon them. So in a very perverse sense, we are Samaritans when it comes to our foreign policy because we often involve ourselves in the affairs of others, but no argument based on a shred of intellectual honesty would support us being “Good.”

Generally speaking, we have much more in common with the Levite than the Good Samaritan. From the moment the doctor retrieved us from the birth canal and severed the umbilical cord that nurtured us for nine months, our sponge-like minds began absorbing the idiocies of the distinctly “American” myth of rugged, hyper-individualism. We devote such exhaustive levels of emotional and mental energy to aping the ridiculous archetypes personified by the likes of “go it alone hard asses” such as John Wayne, Sylvester Stallone, and Bruce Willis that our capacity to experience empathy, compassion, and deep connections with human and non-human animals is severely stunted.

How beguiled are we with a cultural dogma that elevates the individual to the level of a deity and portrays collectivism as a plague of Biblical proportions?

Let’s examine some of the contradictions and distortions to which many of us are blind.

Even the “lone wolf” legends of the silver screen can’t escape their humanity. They were conceived by two human beings, developed in their mother’s womb for nine months, brought into this world by doctors or mid-wives, raised and nurtured, educated, and remain(ed) highly interdependent with the rest of the human race.

Few people other than Ted Kaczynski can claim anything close to true independence, and even his wasn’t life-long or absolute. Yet many of us conduct our lives with a thinly veiled “me first and to hell with the rest of the world” attitude, as if we are the only ones on the face of the planet who really matter and as if we don’t need a soul to help us as we bull-doze through life to attain our goals.

As a nation we have seriously defaulted on the social contract to which we are each bound as long as we participate in society. Our moneyed elite, petite bourgeoisie, and wild-eyed libertarians insist that society provide them with Rock of Gibraltar assurance of their negative rights to attain profit and protect their infinitely precious property–and they want heads rolling if someone violates these “sacrosanct” privileges. Meanwhile they struggle (often successfully) with nearly every ounce of their being to minimize, diminish, or obliterate the use of public, communal resources to uphold and fulfill positive rights, such as access to health care, education, food, and housing.

In the propagandistic jargon of the ruling class and libertarians, negative rights are “freedom” and positive rights are “welfare.” Associating their coveted “rights” to profit and private property with the word freedom, a universally beloved ideal, and positive rights with the word welfare, a pejorative term, is a clever way of keeping the masses working against their own interests.

For instance, what decent human being would argue that we don’t have a moral obligation to tend to our sick and dying? Even in the amoral chaos of war soldiers do their utmost to care for their wounded comrades. Yet as is common knowledge, Michael Moore recently made a documentary which clearly demonstrates how depraved and grossly inadequate our profit-driven health care system is. And there is still incredible resistance to universal health care. In the “me first society” we have no problem telling Christ to go to Hell with all that compassion nonsense.

Let’s follow the twisted logic here. John Calvin told us that the quickest way to ascend to heaven is to get rich. Universal health care is a form of socialism. And if we begin to surrender our beloved capitalism, ‘evil Commies’ will eliminate our freedom to think what television tells us to think, our “right” to buy more stuff, and our one in a billion chance to be like “The Donald.”

So, without yielding to the abject malevolence of collectivism, how do we deal with the problem of 46 million uninsured, the tens of millions more who are under-insured, the indigent whom the hospitals dump on Skid Row without treatment, and the millions of seniors who choose between having enough to eat and filling their prescriptions?

Quite simple really. We PRETEND to be the Good Samaritan while continuing along our private little “roads to success” like the Levites we are. We pass laws requiring that people carry health insurance (again we can thank John Calvin—this time for imbuing us with the tortured notion that punishment is a form of love for one’s fellow man since it cleanses our sinful nature). We produce scandalously deceptive commercials in which Montel Williams shills for a Big Pharma front called the PPA and leaves viewers with the impression that the major drug companies are going from community to community dispensing free prescription medication (when in reality the PPA merely provides information on public and private assistance available to the uninsured). We push for medical savings accounts. We shift the costs to those with insurance by raising premiums, deductibles, and co-pays. We shout down those who decry the obscene state of health care in the wealthiest nation in the world by telling them to quit whining about “entitlements” and to move to France if they hate America so much.

In the 18th Century Rousseau recognized that the ruling class was enforcing a grossly one-sided social contract which ensured that they maintained their wealth and power. Little has changed, even in the “land of the free.” How peculiar that we profess to be a nation of Christians yet tenaciously cling to a system that ensures extremely polarized socioeconomic strata, causes suffering for billions of sentient creatures and violates nearly every principle for which Christ was martyred.

Perhaps the most telling sign of our shattered moral compass is that many of the millions of US Americans who are finally recognizing that the United States is a brutish monster have stampeded to support a libertarian reactionary from Texas. While Ron Paul is principled and courageous in his stances against the establishment’s murderous foreign policy, he remains wedded to the libertarian ideals which rest on the deluded infantilism of hyper-individualism.

Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in homeless shelters. Libertarianism is simply a rather transparent guise for the myopic selfishness and naked greed that accompany our obsession with “me first and only.” To justify maintaining their negative rights under the social contract while minimizing or eliminating positive rights (which actually place a burden of responsibility upon all of us–and this very jejune bunch is apparently incapable of accepting such a load), they attack laws and regulations that “threaten” the “free” market and the use of public monies to provide for the well-being of society as a whole.

Some of the more rabid libertarian “thinkers” such as F.A. Hayek went so far as to remind the poor and working class to thank their oppressors and exploiters for their very existence.

“The proletariat which capitalism can be said to have ‘created’ was thus not a proportion of the population which would have existed without it and which it had degraded to a lower level; it was an additional population which was enabled to grow up by the new opportunities for employment which capitalism provided.”

Or in other words, forget about a living wage, safe working conditions, or reasonable hours, you miserable ingrates. Without us, you would not have been born. Bend over and say thank you!

Once presented with the glaringly obvious moral and practical deficiencies of libertarianism, capitalism, and hyper-individualism (each of which we have been conditioned to embrace as “normal,” healthy, and inevitable), most decent human beings recoil in horror. Objectively, we want to be the Good Samaritan, but have been dogmatically trained to be the Levite.

While most of us aren’t evil by nature, the psychic disfigurement caused by our dedication to hyper-individualism manifests itself in some very ugly ways. However, we have the power to regurgitate the intellectual manure we have been digesting since birth and focus our time, energy, thoughts and actions to honoring the social contract as Rousseau prescribed:

“Each of us puts his person and all his power in common under the supreme direction of the general will; and in a body we receive each member as an indivisible part of the whole.”

It’s time to abandon the childish notion that it is “all about me.” The world is in flames, in large part because of us. We need to be Samaritans, not Levites.

Jason Miller is a recovering US American middle class suburbanite who strives to remain intellectually free. He is Cyrano’s Journal Online’s associate editor (http://www.bestcyrano.org/) and publishes Thomas Paine’s Corner within Cyrano’s at http://www.bestcyrano.org/THOMASPAINE/. You can reach him at JMiller@bestcyrano.com

h/t: Speaking Truth to PowerFAIR 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.

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Dennis Kucinich: Healthcare + TRNS Radio Row (videos)

Dennis Kucinich: Healthcare & the Economy by Davis Fleetwood (video)

Kucinich Packs Detroit University (video; impeachment)

Dandelion Salad

Kucinich2008

January 12, 2008

see

Dennis Kucinich’s Greatest Hits (video)

Attention Democrat Voters: CHANGE (video)

Alex Jones Interview: Dennis Kucinich demands recount (videos)

Kucinich-Dennis

Dennis Kucinich Can Win by Lo

On The Issues: Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul by Lo

Dennis 4 President

UK ruled by Orwellian newspeak: thinktank (video)

Dandelion Salad

RussiaToday

A respectable right-wing thinktank in Britain — the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) — says the UK government is increasingly using language to control people’s lives. The CPS has put together Lexicon 2008 – a guide that decodes the language used by politicians to cover up their actions.

Added: January 12, 2008

Reconstruction Renaissance: An Interview with Cynthia McKinney

Dandelion Salad

All Things Cynthia McKinney
Tues. 01/08/2008

Note: The following interview with former Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney is reprinted from issue No. 268 of the ILC International Newsletter (Jan. 8, 2008), published weekly in multiple languages in Paris. The interview was conducted for the ILC International Newsletter by Alan Benjamin on Jan. 5. To contact the ILC, the Reconstruction Party Organizing Committee, and the Cynthia McKinney for President campaign, see the “Afterword” at end of the interview.]

Question: Sister McKinney, as someone who is running for president of the United States on behalf of the Power to the People electoral coalition, how do you view the recent Iowa caucus?

Cynthia McKinney: I just received a three-page letter from a woman in Tennessee — a veteran who did three tours of duty in Vietnam. She wrote to say how dissatisfied she is with the level of political discourse in our presidential election, with none of the Democratic or Republican candidates addressing the real issues that she and her family are facing in terms of health care, job offshoring, declining public education, stagnation of wages, and more.

She is looking for real answers and is not getting any from politicians and a media more interested in hype and hot-button issues (such as the “war on terror” or the “war on drugs”) than in promoting any serious discussion of policy, much less offering any serious political alternatives.

Angela Davis made an interesting comment on the current presidential campaign. She said all the candidates are talking about “differences” that will not make a difference and “changes” that will not bring about any change. How true.

Take Obama and foreign policy: Independent journalist Allan Nairn spoke to Amy Goodman on her January 3 Democracy Now program about Obama’s top policy advisers. I will quote from the transcription of this program, appropriately titled, “Vote for Change? Atrocity-Linked U.S. Officials Advising Democratic, GOP Presidential Frontrunners.”

Question: You recently issued a statement announcing that as a presidential candidate you would use your campaign to promote the building of a Reconstruction Party in the United States. You are now serving on the newly formed National Organizing Committee for a Reconstruction Party. Why is this important to you?

McKinney: More than two years ago, the world got to see what many of us live on a daily basis in this country. They saw the Black community in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast decimated by government neglect. They saw a community targeted by ethnic-cleansing. Throughout this country there are still communities that are desperate because of generations of poverty and neglect.

The world now knows this terrible situation exists in the very heart of a country that is touted as the most “prosperous” and “democratic” in the world.

This situation has gone on way too long. The mainstream politicians want it simply to go away. They want to erase the color line. But while they and their media change the subject — preferring to give us every detail about what Brittany Spears wore when she was arrested, for example — and while no one deals seriously with growing poverty and racism in this country, things only get worse.

It was only after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita that some folks in the Gulf Coast realized there is a desperate need to build a Reconstruction Movement because all the palliatives offered by the politicians haven’t worked and because there are pockets of neglect all over the country — not just in the Gulf states.

The Reconstruction Movement was born in the aftermath of Katrina and Rita, but the conditions of poverty, racism, and neglect have existed since America’s first Reconstruction Period after the Civil War.

A 2003 Harvard University study found that Black infant and maternal mortality rates are 2 and 3.5 times higher than for whites. Dr. David Satcher found in 2005 that 83,750 Black people died from premature deaths for no other reason than that they were Black.

The New York Times wrote that by 2003 nearly one half of all Black men between the ages of 16 and 64, living in New York City, were unemployed.

And in its 2005 report, United for a Fair Economy told us that it would take 1,664 years to close the home-ownership gap and that on some indices the racial disparities are worse now than at the time of the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In their 2006 report, United for a Fair Economy told us that Blacks and Latinos lost ground, and that in order to close the racial wealth divide in our country, it would take the equivalent of a “G.I. Bill for Everyone” that would include comprehensive federal investment in low-income families and communities, with an emphasis on people of color.

The Reconstruction Movement is needed to bring attention to the state of Black America today. But once people acknowledge this deplorable situation, an agenda and strategy for real change are needed to address the problem. That hasn’t come from either major political party. Therefore, redress requires something else: a political party with reversal of these statistics as its primary mission. The Reconstruction Party is therefore the political expression of this Reconstruction Movement.

Question: What are some of the other questions that need to be tackled?

McKinney: There is, of course the question of this “war without end.” We need the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq and from the rest of the Middle East. This includes all military advisers. It also includes closing all military bases in the region.

We must reject this “war on terror,” which is only aimed at promoting a failed foreign policy. It’s past time to repeal the Patriot Acts, the Secret Evidence Act, and the Military Tribunals Act.

But this is not all. We need to bring all of our troops home from Europe, Asia and Africa. We don’t need our young women and men in harm’s way. We need a Department of Peace instead of a Department of State. This Department would put forward projects for peace all over the world. In the meantime, the Pentagon must oversee the withdrawal of U.S. troops from about 100 countries around the world. Our presence in those countries, through our foreign and military policies, only stokes wars and conflicts.

We must pay very close attention now to Pakistan. I recently issued a statement saying, No U.S. Troops in Pakistan!

continued…

To learn more about Cynthia McKinney’s record, visit www.allthingscynthiamckinney.com. To make a donation to her campaign fund, visit www.runcynthiarun.org. You can also send a check or money order to Power to the People Committee, P.O. Box 311759, Atlanta, GA 31153.

h/t:R.$.M 2

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McKinney-Cynthia

Chomsky Applauds Mike Gravel (video)

Dandelion Salad

representativepress

http://representativepress.googlepage…
Noam Chomsky applauds Senator Gravel’s
past and present accomplishments

“Alone among members of Congress, Senator Mike Gravel had the courage to take a stand that not only helped bring the atrocious Indochina wars to an end, but also made a great contribution to breaking the wall of secrecy that governments erect to protect themselves from their own citizens. I am of course referring to his release of the Pentagon Papers, properly called ‘the Gravel edition,’ which provided the public with a unique opportunity to become educated about affairs of state.

In the years since, Gravel has continued to show the same moral integrity and courage, particularly with regard to war and aggression, the severe threat of nuclear war, the destructive impact of the military-industrial complex on American democracy, and the programs of aggressive militarism that have led even Europeans to rank the US as the greatest threat to world peace, far above Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, or other states assigned this role in the US doctrinal system. It may be that these consistent and honorable commitments are responsible for his being largely excluded from the media, even from presidential debates. And the same integrity and courage should be an inspiration for people who care about their country, the fate of its people, and its role in the world.” – Noam Chomsky

January 11, 2008

see

Noam Chomsky on Ron Paul

Mike Gravel rates Democrat opponents (video; transcript)

It’s Too Dangerous to Give Hillary Clinton Another Shot (video)

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

Chomsky: Do the Democrats have a different answer on Iran? (video)

How the Pentagon Papers Came to be Published by the Beacon Press (link; Ellsberg; Gravel; West)

Gravel-Mike

Chomsky-Noam

Alex Jones Interview: Dennis Kucinich demands recount (videos)

Dandelion Salad

piscesgutt

Alex Jones interviews Dennis Kucinich.

Congressman Kucinich stated that the huge disparity which Hillary Clinton overturned to defeat Barack Obama in the New Hampshire primary was a “mystery that needs to be solved” as he leads the charge for a recount to ascertain exactly how the pollsters could have got it so wrong, or if vote fraud took place.

http://www.prisonplanet.com/articles/…

January 11, 2008

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Dennis Kucinich’s Greatest Hits (video)

NBC un-plugs Kucinich from Presidential debate

The Winning Ticket: Hillary and Diebold in 2008 By Mike Whitney

Kucinich Asks for New Hampshire Recount in the Interest of Election Integrity

Recount – Is Dennis Kucinich walking into a trap? by Bev Harris

Ron Paul @ Fox Debate 1-10-08 (videos) (updated)

Kucinich-Dennis

Dennis 4 President

Dennis Kucinich for President – Contribute

Paul-Ron

Gun Laws, Gun Rights & Violence by Dennis Kucinich

Dennis Kucinich and Guns and The Constitution by Patriots Speak Out ®©™

Dennis Kucinich’s Greatest Hits (video)

Dandelion Salad

michaelbonadio

Compilation of Dennis Kucinich’s Greatest Hits.
Music by Sun Descends, and Stan Getz.

Added: January 11, 2008

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Boycott Disney & GE: Mickey Mouse Politics by Manila Ryce (vid)

Attention Democrat Voters: CHANGE (video)

Alex Jones Interview: Dennis Kucinich demands recount (videos)

Kucinich-Dennis

Dennis Kucinich Can Win by Lo

On The Issues: Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul by Lo

Dennis 4 President