Brad Friedman at Common Cause: Media Reform Conference

Dandelion Salad


“We’re talking about remodeling the furniture in the house, while the house is burning down.” Investigative citizen journalist, Brad Friedman of The BRAD BLOG speaks to whether the media have undermined our democracy. Short answer: YES!!!

More details, text transcript here:

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Don’t Move On, Start Over – The Next President Must Make Bush an Unperson by Ted Rall

Dandelion Salad

by Ted Rall
The Smirking Chimp
April 2, 2008

“No one owes obedience to a usurper government or to anyone who assumes public office in violation of the Constitution and the law. The civil population has the right to rise up in defense of the constitutional order. The acts of those who usurp public office are null and void.”
— Article 46, Constitution of Peru

Comedian Bill Maher is a brilliant contrarian. He dislikes George Bush. Yet his view of the stolen 2000 election is conventional, ahistorical and quintessentially American: Forget it! Move on! “Oh, Ted,” he replied when I mentioned the judicial coup d’état on his TV show, which aired October 3, 2001. “That’s so September 10th. It really is.”

It has been nearly eight years since the U.S. Supreme Court violated the Constitution by installing George W. Bush as president. Their ruling was immaterial. They shouldn’t have agreed to hear Bush v. Gore in the first place. Under Article II of the Constitution, Federal courts don’t have jurisdiction in election disputes. The state supreme courts–in that case, Florida–have the final word.

It’s tempting, as Maher suggested, to try to move past 2000. But we can’t. What followed doesn’t allow it.

When a ruler seizes office by extralegal means he rules the same way. Because he does not derive his power from the people–indeed, his rule relies on their passivity–he is not beholden to them. Selling the public on his policies is hard enough for a legitimately elected ruler; an illegal one has to resort to bullying, presented as a stern, autocratic triumph of the will. He is forced to order his lawyers to find legal loopholes using the most tortured reasoning imaginable. In the end, when citizens turn against him, the tyrant shrugs his shoulders. “So?” This is what the vice president replied when a reporter asked about polls showing that Americans have turned against the Iraq War. Cheney’s question was perfectly reasonable. Why should he care what we think? We didn’t elect him. He doesn’t owe us the slightest consideration.

Electoral illegitimacy begets illegitimate rule: Secret detentions and torture redefined into meaninglessness. Secret prisons. Ending habeas corpus, the right to have one’s case heard before a judge–a right English-speaking people had enjoyed for 800 years. Secret “signing statements” purporting to negate laws signed in public. Spying on Americans, lying about it to Congress, and then, after getting caught, trying to legalize it retroactively. Destroying evidence. An executive order granting the president the power to declare anyone–without evidence–an “enemy combatant,” then order that person imprisoned for life, or even assassinated.

Even if the next president has promised to end extraordinary renditions (which began under Bill Clinton), close Gitmo, outlaw torture and overturn the Military Commissions Act, which eliminated habeas corpus, he or she will surely be tempted to retain some of Bush’s beefed up new executive powers upon moving into the Oval Office. Who wouldn’t want to read their political opponents’ email and listen to their phone calls?

But let’s posit, for the sake of argument, that Bush’s evildoing comes to an end next January. There will still be a mess to clean up.

One million Iraqis and Afghans are dead. Tens of thousands more have been tortured and maimed. Thousands of dead soldiers; tens of thousands more grievously wounded. Millions of Americans have had their privacy violated. They deserve justice. We deserve justice. The war criminals, torturers and phone companies deserve due process. If there are consequences for driving fast and cheating on your taxes, after all, there surely ought to be a price to pay for urinating on an innocent man in a dog cage at Guantánamo.

America might want to move on. How can the rest of the world let us?

Bush v. Gore gave us an illegitimate president. Bush presided over an outlaw government. If we sit on our asses, as we’ve done since that weird, soul-crushing day in late December of 2000, illegality will be hardwired into the U.S. government. The country itself will become, like the Soviet Union and its wonderful freedom-guaranteeing constitution, a caricature of itself. “What is the difference between the Constitutions of the USA and USSR? Both guarantee freedom of speech,” the old Russian joke went. “Yes, but the Constitution of the USA also guarantees freedom after the speech.” A gangster regime presiding over the trappings of law and order is a vicious joke–illegitimate and ultimately doomed.

There’s one way–only one way–to avoid ratifying Bush’s legacy. The next president must do the following three things immediately upon taking office:

1. Issue an executive order declaring all laws and actions undertaken by the Bush Administration, the states and local municipalities (because many state and local ordinances are influenced by national politics) between January 2001 and January 2009 null and void.

2. Act quickly to restore the rule of law–freeing Gitmo inmates, offering compensation to victims of torture and rendition, order immediate withdrawals of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia and other undeclared wars.

3. Create a cabinet-level department to investigate top officials and subordinates of the Bush interregnum for crimes they may have committed and refer them to the appropriate courts for arrest, prosecution and imprisonment.

Ted Rall is the author of the new book “Silk Road to Ruin: Is Central Asia the New Middle East?,” an in-depth prose and graphic novel analysis of America’s next big foreign policy challenge.


So? … A Note from Michael Moore (+ video)

The Apex of Slavery By Caroline E. Winter (Benjamin Skinner)

Dandelion Salad

By Caroline E. Winter
Mother Jones
March 27, 2008

Eliot Spitzer’s high-priced prostitute, Kristen, is not a slave; she’s a prostitute. Or so says Benjamin Skinner, author of the new book A Crime So Monstrous: Face-to-Face With Modern-Day Slavery. Skinner’s opinion is informed by his definition of “slave”: someone who is forced to work, under threat of violence, for no pay beyond subsistence.

Going by this definition and the desire to humanize one of the globe’s most devastating injustices, he spent the past five years traveling between five continents to infiltrate slave trafficking networks—at times negotiating sales undercover (but never buying human life)—and collecting the searing stories of more than 100 victims.

The point of the book is loud and clear: Slavery is far from dead, and there’s not enough being done about it. There are more slaves in the world today than at any other point in history, with estimates ranging from 12 to 27 million, and we’re not talking about those laboring for less than a dollar a day in developing countries or choosing to charge thousands for an hour of intimacy. The statistic refers only to those who truly have no choice.

Skinner took time to speak with Mother Jones from his home in Brooklyn about how some evangelicals and a small subset of academic feminists have distorted America’s already skewed understanding of slavery, the hypocrisy of the Bush administration’s soaring anti-slavery rhetoric, and what constitutes the “typical” slave.

Mother Jones: Why does it come as such a shock that there are more slaves in the world today than ever before?

Benjamin Skinner: My sense is that there is a fundamental misunderstanding, particularly in America, of what slavery is. The term has lost its currency and so you get the artist formerly known as Prince writing the word slave on his cheek to protest a binding contract that pays him 10 million per album. You get people using the word slave to refer to those who are underpaid in sweatshops but can walk away.


Olbermann: 5 Years of Iraq War! + Worst + McCain Fails to Unite GOP

Dandelion Salad


April 02, 2008

Worst Person


McCain Fails to Unite GOP

More at

Rachel Maddow joins Keith Olbermann to discuss John McCain’s often-repeated line that the Republican party is behind him.



Domestic Spying-Gate


Wrong Enemy-Gate

5th Anniversary – Puppet Theater

Puppet Theater: It began back in the dark dark days of 2005. With a trial that seemed destined to tear the nation apart, and no cameras to record it for posterity. Being a television show (and thus obligated to the “vision” part of that word) we here at Countdown despaired of ever providing the kind of coverage such a monumentally important event surely deserved. Or the kind of annoyed satire that it surely demanded. But then, a light in the darkness. An idea so journalistically innovative, so perfect, so pure — it has since become a staple of this show. And inspired lesser programs to imitation. We salute it, as we continue to celebrate Anniversary Week.

The Unholy Trinity Of International Terrorists Organizations

by Guadamour
Dandelion Salad
featured writer
Apr. 3, 2008

One may think of terrorist organizations as groups like the Islamic Jihad, The Moslem Brotherhood, Zionist Extremists, Basque Separatists, the Irish Republic Army, et cetera, but the question one needs to ask is, what causes these groups to come to the forefront in the first place.

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