Countdown: McBush Knows Best on Iraq + Hillary’s Puerto Rico Argument Doesn’t Hold Up

Dandelion Salad


May 30, 2008

McBush Knows Best on Iraq

Keith reports on McCain getting his facts wrong on Iraq two days in a row even though he’s claiming that is his strong suit, national security. Rachal Maddow weighs in.

Worst Person

And the winner is…Rupert Murdoch. Runners up Monsignor Jim Lisante and Michelle Malkin.


Tonight’s: The Nexus of Terror & Politics-Gate times three.



Hillary’s Puerto Rico Argument Doesn’t Hold Up

MIR: McClellan – Our Minister of Misinformation

Dandelion Salad


Former White House Press Secretary, Scott McClellan accuses President Bush of “self-deception.” Arab media feels vindicated. Is the U.S. engaged in “political propaganda” and misinformation? Do you remember Al Sahhaf?

Answers to these questions and more on Link TV’s Mosaic Intelligence Report presented by Jamal Dajani.

For more info, visit at

Vodpod videos no longer available.


Countdown: McClellan Interview

McClellan Book: Nothing New

Scott McClellan’s first interview! (vids)

Bush’s new book: It’s all McClellan’s fault (satire)

White House Puzzled Over McClellan Book: We Taught Him To Lie, Now He’s Forgotten How

Countdown: Excerpts from McClellan’s Book + Candy-Gramm for McCain

Ex-Press Aide Writes That Bush Misled U.S. on Iraq

“When they say it’s not about the money…”

Dandelion Salad

by Steven Jonas
MAY 28, 2008

As the old saw goes, “When they say it’s not about the money, it’s about the money.” It is equally true that “When they say it’s not about race, it’s about race.” And so it went with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright as the Clintons plowed that furrow, and so will it go again with him if the Republicans are able to bring him front and center in the Fall. We all know that they will try their damnedest to make the election over Rev. Wright and what he supposedly stands for, not about George Bush and John McCain and Barack Obama and what they really stand for. (Of course in the case of BushMcCain they will also try to run on what they say they stand for, which has little to do with what they really stand for, but that one is for another day.) And so, it will come down once again, first and foremost as I said in my TPJ column 189, “A Game Plan for Obama,” control of the agenda. One very important way for Obama to get control of the Rev. Wright agenda item is to make it very clear what it really is about: race and racism.

It was after I wrote my column TPJ No. 190 “Is the Rev. Wright Wrong?” that Rev. Wright made his now-famous appearances on Bill Moyers’ show, and before the NAACP (April 27, 2008) and the National Press Club (at which, known to few, the audience other than journalists was made up of African-American church officials [April 28, 2008]). The chorus of condemnation from the Mainstream Media, even among well-known middle-of-the-road African-American journalists like Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post and Bob Herbert of The New York Times, grew louder and louder. Wright, explaining his positions at length, with the style and vernacular of a flamboyant churchman of any ethnicity, was condemned as an ego-maniac, as a traitor to the U.S., as absolutely not in the tradition of oh-so-conveniently dead Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. (who happened to have said many similar things, perhaps in not quite as colorful language, but anyway he is conveniently dead). How dare he?

You can read a transcript of the supposedly scandalous remarks, especially at question time, from the famous National Press Club news conference here. I did happen to hear live a number of the answers to questions that so many pundits and Sen. Obama himself took such offense at. I didn’t think that there was anything out of the ordinary, and nothing like the “damn-the-Constitution” and “all liberals are traitors” (treason being an offense that carries the death penalty) that we hear from the Right-Wing Republican Radio Screamers all day every day. And boy, does this man know his Old Testament and how to use it. In sum, I didn’t find his comments particularly scandalous.

He talked about how Black Liberation Theology, which grew out of Latin American Catholic Liberation Theology, has a lot to say about the problems of oppressed peoples everywhere; about the good works that his congregation has done in their community over many years; about how the progressive evangelist Jim Wallis (white) has called for a national apology for slavery; about how Christianity, his faith, has been used as a cover for evil as well, like the Klan; about finding a fair settlement to the Palestine/Israel problem; about how whites fueled the Underground Railway; about how he rationalized his statements about “damning America;” and about how he separated himself from Sen. Obama. He also had the temerity to point out that large numbers of African-American listen to the words of Minister Farrakhan, “whether they agree with him or not.”

Apparently words like the ones the Rev. uttered are said on Sundays in black churches all over the country. I’ve never been to a black church on Sunday (to a white one either) so I wouldn’t know for sure. But I thought it fascinating that the black ministers in his national press club audience when asked, thought that what he said was nothing out of the ordinary. In fact they were delighted that for once sentiments expressed by many of them on a regular basis before their own congregations were getting national exposure. Unfortunately for them, the nation was not treated to any dis-passionate representation of what he said but rather to a knee-jerk establishment reaction to it, even from African-American “good liberals” like the aforementioned Bob Herbert and Eugene Robinson. And for better or worse, that’s what Sen. Obama had to go with. Standing in his place I would have gone with them too. It is a losing battle in our country for an African-American running for President to attempt to rationally explain what someone like Rev. Wright (who has more military service than the leaders of the current Regime have combined) means when he says what he says, and that he says it because he wants his country to become a better place for everyone, not just him and his people.

And so, how dare Sen. Obama not completely disassociate himself from the Rev. Wright? Peggy Noonan, the well-known Reagan hagiographer, told us, on the morning of April 29, 2008, towards the end of “Morning Joe’s” romp of the day through the orchards of Wright and Obama, that the Senator should offer a series (not just one mind you) of speeches, distancing himself from the Rev. Wright and explaining in detail a) just how and what he would be distancing himself on and b) why-oh-why did he not do it much sooner. (It should be noted that Noonan is adopting some strangely liberal positions on certain matters, such as George Bush, but it remains to be seen if she develops any kind of consistent change in ideology.)

The more I listen to this stuff, the more I am reminded of oratory that I heard much too much of when I was child in the 40s, 50s and 60s, before the (partial) triumph of the civil rights movement. You know, how certain “coloreds” are just “uppity.” They talk too much and they say things that are just wrong, dontchaknow, they just offend our American way of life. And when “coloreds” (and you know the other words applied) become “uppity,” why they have to be put in their places.

And so, Wright is “uppity” because, for example, he dares to speak the truth about the United States having blood on its hands around the world, starting with the institution of slavery that was recognized in our Constitution, originally, with African-Americans counting as three-fifths of a person (and Native Americans, slaughtered by the many tens of thousands in the 19th century, not counting at all). Think further, the Philippines, 1902, Iran, 1953, Guatemala, 1954, Vietnam, 1956, Brazil, 1964, Chile, 1973, Afghanistan 1979, Nicaragua, 1984, Iraq, 2003, for openers.

And Sen. Obama, why he is “uppity” for daring to become a serious candidate for President. By golly, the Rev. Huckabee and his friends at the virtually all-white, virtually all-male NRA know just how to put such “uppity coloreds” in their places, now don’t they. And he is “uppity” for, if he actually got into the Oval Office and lived to tell the tale, he would try at least to make major changes in both foreign and domestic policy and the way political business is done in this country. How uppity can you get? And so, Wright needs to be “put in his place,” and Obama needs to explain, at great length mind you, just why and how he should not be ultimately caricatured and classified as just another uppity “colored” and put in his place, too.

Let’s just hope that both Wright and Obama will have none of this. Right now Wright is doing Obama’s political work for him by gradually distancing himself from the Senator. Obama, even if he were so inclined to do any more of that scut work than he has already done, doesn’t need to bother. As for Obama, the last thing he needs to do is to fall into the Noonan Trap and “explain himself” endlessly, all the while being drawn further down into the quicksand of “oh Senator Obama, you didn’t do it right. Could please explain some more?” To change both policy and politics, the Senator just has to keep on doin’ what he has been doin’: talking about how is going to change both and doing the one of the two that he can do right now, before the elections: doing politics in an entirely new way.

In his introduction to my previous column on the Rev. Wright controversy, our Editor/Publisher Judge Stephen Gheen, said: “Dr. Steven Jonas, TPJ’s Contributing Author, wades into a subject that some believe is the ‘third rail’ of the Obama campaign – Reverend Wright. Dr. Jonas offers a thoughtful defense of Rev. Wright; one that every Democrat should read.” I don’t regard what I had to say as a “defense of Rev. Wright,” but rather as an explanation and for some of them justification of several of the various historical and policy positions that he has taken.

I have a suspicion that the Rev. knew exactly what he was doing, however, by seeming to sound “off-the-wall” to those (most listeners) totally unfamiliar with the language of BLT: giving Sen. Obama some “stuff” with which he could justifiably distance himself for the benefit of the MSM and some “centrist” Democrats who otherwise like him and his ideas, and know that he’s got a much better shot at McCain than does Hillary “Bill/Monica/Foster/Whitewater/Pardons/Cattle-deal/failed-health-plan/and-what-have-you” Clinton. That the good Rev. did, and we have heard nothing from him since. I must say, however, that I hope he stays quiet. For if he doesn’t, the media noise will once again drown out all of the good process and substantive policy positions that Obama stands for.

As for Clinton, how much better she would have been served had she, when the Rev. Wright thing broke, said words to the effect of: “This issue has no place in the campaign. One’s religion and religious views, and the views of one’s pastor for which one is hardly responsible, have no place in the campaign, as long as one is not trying to impose them on others, as the Republican Party tries to do regularly on such issues as abortion and homosexual rights. The Rev. Wright has not endorsed Sen. Obama. These attacks are out-of-bounds, and some would consider racist in nature. Now, when it comes to ministers who step into the political arena, like Sen. McCain’s Rev. Hagee, and whop want to pass a whole series of laws that would impose their particular religious views on moral questions like when life begins on the rest of us, that’s another story.” When the obits and then the history of her failed campaign for the Presidency are written this monstrous mistake (in several senses) will be featured, I’m sure.


Everything you wanted to know about Sen. McCain is at one website created by the Democratic Party. Check out:


This is a great resource and another great idea from the Democratic Party. Spread the facts about Sen. McCain to everyone you know – the facts are now at your fingertips.

Steven Jonas, MD, MPH is a TPJ contributing author. He is a Professor of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University (NY) and author/co-author of over twenty-five books. Dr. Jonas is one of America’s most perceptive Democratic political analysts.

Dr. Jonas is a Contributing Author for the webmagazine The Political (; a Columnist for the webmagazine BuzzFlash (; a Special Contributing Editor for Cyrano’s Journal Online (; a Contributing Columnist for the Project for the Old American Century, POAC (; an invited contributor to the weblog The Daily Scare (; and Contributing Editor for the weblog (, currently inactive). He also has his own weblog, “Dr. J.’s Short Shots, II” (

In his book The New Americanism, Dr. Jonas presents his proposal for that “new vision and mission” for the Democratic Party that so many, for so many years, have been urging it to find. A new vision and mission are obviously needed with increasing urgency as with increasing speed and determination the Georgites drive our nation towards frank theocratic fascism, and the Democratic Party flounders around in trying, and so far failing, to find an effective voice for the 2008 election. Dr. Jonas finds the needed vision and mission in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. “The New Americanism: How the Democratic Party Can Win the Presidency is available from (go to “Books;” enter the full title) and (same).

He is also the author of The 15% Solution: A Political History of American Fascism, 2001-2022. Under the pseudonym “Jonathan Westminster” this book was originally published in 1996. It was republished with a New Introduction in 2004. Under Georgite rule, the “fictional non-fiction” scenario of this work of “future history” is, most unfortunately, becoming all too real. Now almost day-by-day too many of Dr. Jonas’ predictions are coming true. Both versions are available at and (go to “Books;” enter the title). The 2004 edition is also available at (click on “Bookstore,” then “Search” with the title).

TPJ is not subject to copyright. Anyone is welcome to freely quote and use material from TPJ. In reproducing or using material from the TPJ proper attribution is appreciated.



Pain and Conscience By Charles Sullivan

Dandelion Salad

By Charles Sullivan
05/30/08 “ICH”

It is evident that a substantial majority of U.S. citizens are, in principle, opposed to the most destructive governmental policies stemming from the nation’s capital. These include, but are not limited to—the continuing war and occupation of Iraq, as well as the pervasive consumer fraud that preys upon the innocent and the unwary and causes them undue hardship. These charges are born out by the abysmal approval rating of Congress and the president. It is equally evident that the government, while pretending to be sympathetic to these views, continues to carry forth those same policies both at home and abroad. It does so without the consent of the people and, therefore, it has abrogated its responsibility to them.

These destructive policies are formulated in the various branches of government and in the corporate board rooms of America. They are a prominent feature of the run amok presidency of George W. Bush, where they manifest themselves to the world. However, their history precedes Bush and his corporate gangsters by generations, and they are an outgrowth of the exploitive capital system.

In some respects the presidency serves as a distraction from the machinations that are operating behind the scenes to spew forth one disastrous policy after another. With so much attention given to Bush, the people are failing to confront the root cause of which George W. Bush is but a single manifestation: the sociopolitical system that put the present criminal regime in power.

Beyond capitalism, other destructive paradigms are operating to produce a hybridized and even more virulent form of economics. One might call it hyper capitalism. This explains why the American form of capitalism is so much more destructive than most of its European counterparts. For example, most European workers enjoy a shorter work week, higher wages, and have more paid vacation than do American workers; and most of them have union representation and, therefore, more and better benefits. In Germany, even Wal-mart is unionized.

One of these harmful paradigms that interact synergistically with capitalism is the idea of American exceptionalism: the persistent belief that America knows best and everything we do is good for the world. This synergism is tinged with powerful elements of racism, sexism, and other belief systems that are rooted in bigotry, hate, and religious intolerance. It is this lethal combination that gave rise to the concept of Manifest Destiny. It was these paradigms that attempted to sweep the continent clean of its indigenous population, and is blowing across the planet, touching ground in the Middle East and beyond like a violent cyclone.

What is so exasperating to many of us is that the corruption of the political system is widely understood and yet so little is done about it. The people continue to participate in it; they continue to vote in the absence of meaningful choice and they continue to support it with their taxes. There have been peace marches and other forms of token protest, but they have had little bearing on the continuing policies of economic disparity, environmental destruction, and imperial war that are prominent features of American capitalism.

Because protest in America has become more symbolic than effective, those in power can afford to ignore it. Even when participation in protest is great, it is of short duration; it does not cause serious economic or political disruption, and it does not pose a real threat to the established orthodoxy. After a few hours of peaceful marching, the people pack up and go back to their lives and everything remains as it was before they came.

Effective protest causes economic and political disruption. It persists until the just demands of the people are met. The established orthodoxy feels pain and discomfort from it; it feels a palpable threat and understands that the injustice cannot continue. Either it addresses the demands of the people, or it perishes. This is a manifestation of democracy. It is serious stuff that requires enormous sacrifice from those who protest in this way. The Montgomery bus boycott of the 60s was that kind of protest; and it was a protest that was won by the people, despite a constant threat of violence and death.

These days few people are willing to put anything tangible on the line. One wonders: Is there anything that the American people are willing to fight and die for? Is there anything real that we really believe in? Or do we relish the symbols of freedom more than we love freedom itself?

American exceptionalism is fostered in all of our social and political institutions. This includes the educational system and religious institutions. Thus, these beliefs are continually reinforced from cradle to grave, and never more so than in the corporate media. So it is not surprising that our political leaders behave as if they were endowed with the powers of deities, even though they are nothing more than fallible human beings like everyone else. It requires enormous hubris for anyone to adopt such doctrines, but there appears to be an inexhaustible supply of hubris in this country and a paucity of humility and compassion. Those who think in this way are prone to behaving toward the world with vitriol, as we witness daily.

The collective result of so many individually destructive paradigms is dehumanization. When we allow people to be dehumanized it is easy to hate them and to exploit them; to see them as entities endowed with less inherent value than ourselves or our chosen kind. It is easy to kill or subjugate inferior people and inferior beings. That is also how the government (the economic elite) perceives the working class and in their eyes that perception makes working people exploitable and expendable. Giving our continued allegiance to such government is irrational and immoral; it is also cowardly and self-destructive.

We are faced with a situation in which the body politic not only does not care what the American people think; it disdains populism as much here as it does in Latin America and elsewhere in the world. Populism and its close cousin—democracy—pose an enormous threat to the established order; and that order provides wealth and privilege to a select few, while denying it to everyone else. This is why corrupt politicians and so many academicians spare no effort to suppress and crush democratic movements, and cover up their crimes through a disingenuous rendering of history.

Yet with so much of the population aware of the government’s disdain of the people’s needs, why isn’t there effective organized resistance to it? Why isn’t there widespread social and economic disruption? Why do the people not revoke their consent to be governed and refuse their allegiance to a government that is not only corrupt and devoid of moral capital but is also clearly predatory or even cannibalistic? Why do we continue to fund criminal governments, including our own, with our taxes? Why isn’t there social unrest and civil disobedience in the streets? Why are those who expose these crimes punished and the criminals go free and reap financial reward for their malfeasance?

One explanation for the widespread social malaise in this country is that people are overwhelmed by it; shocked and awed by it; disorientated by it. They cannot believe the audacity of the Bush regime. Disorientation makes the plunder of the commonwealth easy to carry out. Even while dazed and confused, so many people remain wed to the idea of America’s inherent goodness and moral superiority to the rest of the world, despite mountains of evidence against such views. Thus, they view the criminal Bush regime as an aberration rather than a continuation of an historical pattern.

Social justice advocates are rightly infuriated to know that amidst this worsening climate a solid majority of the people can remain indifferent and willfully ignorant of what is being done in their names. There is a reason for this. The American people do not want to acknowledge any wrong doing on the part of their government, which is, in theory, an extension of the people. Of course, that is not the actual practice. This refusal psychologically absolves them from guilt or complicity and it permits them the luxury of apathy. By refusing to acknowledge wrong doing, no further action is required of them. They can go on consuming, falling asleep in front of the television and sending their offspring to die in unnecessary wars, while sinking ever deeper into debt and economic servitude.

Furthermore, the inert masses are mentally and spiritually ill equipped to deal with reality; so they block it out of their minds—aided, of course, by the corporate media and the propaganda apparatus of the government, itself. This is why fantasy is freely substituted for reality; plutocracy is mistaken for democracy, and the majority of the people do not know the difference. Millions of good people thus refuse to allow into their psyche the suffering and misery that U.S. policy has produced and exported to the world, even as that reality is closing in upon them. Unfortunately, I can point to my own family as an example of such delusional thinking, as no doubt can many of my readers.

Understanding this, the greatest obstacle to creating a vibrant and effective social justice movement is convincing the inert masses that they must acknowledge the suffering we have caused and are continuing to inflict upon the world. The multitudes must see the wisdom of looking behind the veneer of propaganda and confronting an ugly and often painful truth: the brutal and violent history of our nation, including the suppression of democracy wherever it is encountered. Eventually, perhaps very soon, they must also come to grips with the demise of capitalism.

We the people must find the courage to confront reality, and that means that we must be willing to feel the pain and suffering we have inflicted on others. We must admit that we are not exceptional or superior, and that we are not more entitled to our share of the world’s bounty than any other people. But we must go even deeper than that: we must bring about restitution for our past wrong-doing.

The citizens of the United States must become one with the world and look beyond nationality; beyond race, sex, and religious creed. Suffering and joy are conditions of life and they should be kept in balance as much as possible. Because suffering causes discomfort that few people want to experience, the alleviation of suffering is powerful motivation to demand justice; and that is the force that motivates most good people to do what they do, which is resist the tyranny of evil government. Once our indiscretions have been acknowledged and acted upon, we will find that the world is more than willing to forgive our past transgressions. This act alone will allow us to rejoin the world, so to speak.

Many years ago I questioned my mother about eating meat and the suffering it caused so many innocent animals. Her response revealed much about the American consciousness. She did not witness the suffering of those animals. She did not hear their cries of pain. She saw no blood in the sanitized product that was sold in the grocery store, wrapped in clear plastic and served up on pristine styrofoam. So their suffering was not real to her; it was too far removed from her experience. But the suffering of those animals and their cries of pain are very real indeed; and so is the suffering the United States government is inflicting upon the world.

Were we on the receiving end of our government’s foreign policies, we would have a very different perception of them. But like wrapped meat in the grocery store, we do not see the pain and the blood—or the suffering. So for many people it is not real; it is not happening…but it is.

By admitting some of this pain into our lives we are simultaneously admitting all of the other things into our lives that define our collective humanity; among them hope and joy. Then, and only then, can we take a principled stand for social and environmental justice and build an effective movement toward these ends. We must pry open closed minds and allow reality to penetrate delusion, as witnessing cause and effect often does. By this process sheeple are transformed once again into people, each of them endowed with a conscience capable of distinguishing right and wrong. This moral evolution is itself a revolutionary act of monumental import to any justice movement. It provides the means for people to act according to the dictates of conscience, and that is an act of liberation from dogma.

Revolution begins by altering consciousness. We stand at the brink of a multitude of possible futures, many of them tragic. The failure to act and rebel when the conditions demand it is a betrayal not only of our own humanity; it is a crime of great magnitude. The world’s foremost thinkers and visionaries have always understood this. Can we?

Charles Sullivan is a nature photographer, a naturalist, an environmental educator and free-lance writer residing in the Ridge and Valley Province of geopolitical West Virginia. He welcomes your comments at (no spam).

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.

Dow Chemical announces massive price increase

Dandelion Salad

By Alex Lantier
30 May 2008

Dow Chemical announced it would charge up to 20 percent more for its products on May 28, citing spiraling price increases for oil and other petrochemical inputs. This decision by Dow—a behemoth with $54 billion in 2007 sales spread throughout numerous consumer industries—is expected to substantially increase inflation, which is already increasing rapidly in the US and throughout the world, cutting into workers’ purchasing power.

Dow’s action will affect a huge array of basic materials and consumer items, including: plastics used in automobile components and shopping bags; propylene glycols used in antifreeze, coolants, solvents, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals; and acrylic acid-based products used in detergents, wastewater-treatment and disposable diapers.

The Wall Street Journal commented: “Over the past months, Dow and other chemical companies have been raising product prices to pass on higher raw-material costs to their customers, but the increases have been usually confined to one product or one region. The company’s decision to increase prices for all its products world-wide is nearly unprecedented.”

Dow’s price increase comes on the heels of announcements of planned price increases of 4-8 percent on a variety of consumer goods produced by companies such as Procter & Gamble and Kimberly-Clark, which are among Dow’s main clients. It appears that Dow is trying to position itself to claim a significant portion of the new revenue that will be generated by retailers and consumer goods makers as they jack up their prices.


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 Great Oil Swindle – How much did the Fed really know?

Dandelion Salad

By Mike Whitney
05/30/08 “ICH”

The Commodity Futures and Trading Commission (CFTC) is investigating trading in oil futures to determine whether the surge in prices to record levels is the result of manipulation or fraud. They might want to take a look at wheat, rice and corn futures while they’re at it. The whole thing is a hoax cooked up by the investment banks and hedge funds who are trying to dig their way out of the trillion dollar mortgage-backed securities (MBS) mess that they created by turning garbage loans into securities. That scam blew up in their face last August and left them scrounging for handouts from the Federal Reserve. Now the billions of dollars they’re getting from the Fed is being diverted into commodities which is destabilizing the world economy; driving gas prices to the moon and triggering food riots across the planet.

For months we’ve been told that the soaring price of oil has been the result of Peak Oil, fighting in Iraq, attacks on oil facilities in Nigeria, labor problems in Norway, and (the all-time favorite)growth in China. It’s all baloney. Just like Goldman Sachs prediction of $200 per barrel oil is baloney. If oil is about to skyrocket then why has G-Sax kept a neutral rating on some of its oil holdings like Exxon Mobile? Could it be that they know that oil is just another mega-inflated equity bubble—like housing, corporate bonds and stocks—that is about to crash to earth as soon as the big players grab a parachute?

There are three things that are driving up the price of oil: the falling dollar, speculation and buying on margin.

The dollar is tanking because of the Federal Reserve’s low interest monetary policies have kept interest rates below the rate of inflation for most of the last decade. Add that to the $700 billion current account deficit and a National Debt that has increased from $5.8 trillion when Bush first took office to over $9 trillion today and it’s a wonder the dollar hasn’t gone “Poof” already.

According to a January 4 editorial in the Wall Street Journal: “If the dollar had remained ‘as good as gold’ since 2001, oil today would be selling at about $30 per barrel, not $99. (today $126 per barrel) The decline of the dollar against gold and oil suggests a US monetary that is supplying too many dollars.” Wall Street Journal 1-4-08

The price of oil has more than quadrupled since 2001, from roughly $30 per barrel to $126, WITHOUT ANY DISRUPTIONS TO SUPPLY. There’s no shortage; it’s just gibberish.

As far as “buying on margin” consider this summary from author William Engdahl:

“A conservative calculation is that at least 60% of today’s $128 per barrel price of crude oil comes from unregulated futures speculation by hedge funds, banks and financial groups using the London ICE Futures and New York NYMEX futures exchanges and uncontrolled inter-bank or Over-The-Counter trading to avoid scrutiny. US margin rules of the government’s Commodity Futures Trading Commission allow speculators to buy a crude oil futures contract on the Nymex, by having to pay only 6% of the value of the contract. At today’s price of $128 per barrel, that means a futures trader only has to put up about $8 for every barrel. He borrows the other $120. This extreme “leverage” of 16 to 1 helps drive prices to wildly unrealistic levels and offset bank losses in sub-prime and other disasters at the expense of the overall population.”

So the investment banks and their trading partners at the hedge funds can game the system for a mere 8 bucks per barrel or 16 to 1 leverage. Not bad, eh?

Is it possible that gambling on oil futures might be a temptation for banks that are already underwater from a trillion dollars worth of mortgage-related deals that have “gone south” leaving the banking system essentially bankrupt?

And if the banks and hedgies are not playing this game, then where is the money coming from? I have compiled charts and graphs that show that nearly two-thirds of the big investment banks’ revenue came from the securitization of commercial and residential real estate loans. That market is frozen. Besides, this is not just a matter of “loan delinquencies” or MBS that have to be written off. The banks are “revenue starved”. How are they filling the coffers? They’re either neck-deep in interest rate swaps, derivatives trading, or gaming the futures market. Which is it?

Of course, there is one other possibility, but if that possibility turned out to be right than it would cast doubt on the legitimacy of the entire financial system. In fact, it would prove that the system is being rigged from the top-down by our friends at the Banking Politburo, the Federal Reserve. Here goes:

What if the investment banks are trading their worthless MBS and CDOs at the Fed’s auction facilities and using the money ($400 billion) to drive up the price of raw materials like rice, corn, wheat, and oil?

Could it be? Could the Fed really be looking the other way so it can bail out its banking buddies while they drive prices skyward?

If it is true; (and I suspect it is) it hasn’t done much good. As the Associated Press reported yesterday:

“The Federal Reserve announced Thursday that it will make a fresh batch of short-term cash loans available to squeezed banks as part of an ongoing effort to ease stressed credit markets. The Fed said it will conduct three auctions in June, with each one making $75 billion available in short-term cash loans. Banks can bid for a slice of the available funds. It would mark the latest round in a program that the Fed launched in December to help banks overcome credit problems so they will keep lending to customers.”

Another $225 billion for the bankers and not a dime for the struggling homeowner! The Fed is bankrupting the country with their permanent rotating loans to keep reckless speculators from going under. So much for moral hazard.

As far as speculation, there is ample evidence that the system is being manipulated. According to MarketWatch:

“Speculative activity in commodity markets has grown “enormously” over the past several years, the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee said in a news release. It pointed out that in five years, from 2003 to 2008, investment in the index funds tied to commodities has grown by 20-fold — to $260 billion from $13 billion.”

And here’s a revealing clip from the testimony of Michael W. Masters of Masters Capital Management, LLC, who addressed the issue of “Commodities Speculation” before the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs this week:

“Today, Index Speculators are pouring billions of dollars into the commodities futures markets, speculating that commodity prices will increase. …In the popular press the explanation given most often for rising oil prices is the increased demand for oil from China. According to the DOE, annual Chinese demand for petroleum has increased over the last five years from 1.88 billion barrels to 2.8 billion barrels, an increase of 920 million barrels.8 Over the same five-year period, Index Speculatorsʼ demand for petroleum futures has increased by 848 million barrels. THE INCREASE IN DEMAND FROM INDEX SPECULATORS IS ALMOST EQUAL TO THE INCREASE IN DEMAND FROM CHINA.

Index Speculators have now stockpiled, via the futures market, the equivalent of 1.1 billion barrels of petroleum, effectively adding eight times as much oil to their own stockpile as the United States has added to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve over the last five years.

Today, in many commodities futures markets, they are the single largest force.15 The huge growth in their demand has gone virtually undetected by classically-trained economists who almost never analyze demand in futures markets.

As money pours into the markets, two things happen concurrently: the markets expand and prices rise. One particularly troubling aspect of Index Speculator demand is that it actually increases the more prices increase. This explains the accelerating rate at which commodity futures prices (and actual commodity prices) are increasing. The CFTC has taken deliberate steps to allow CERTAIN SPECULATORS VIRTUALLY UNLIMITED ACCESS TO THE COMMODITIES FUTURES MARKETS. The CFTC has granted Wall Street banks an exemption from speculative position limits when these banks hedge over-the-counter swaps transactions. This has effectively opened a loophole for unlimited speculation. When Index Speculators enter into commodity index swaps, which 85-90% of them do, they face no speculative position limits…. The result is a gross distortion in data that effectively hides the full impact of Index Speculation.” (Thanks to Mish’s Global Economic Trend Analysis; the one “indispensable” financial blog on the Internet)

Masters adds that the CFTC is pressing to make “Index Speculators exempt from all position limits” so they can make “unlimited” bets on the futures which are wreaking havoc on the global economy and pushing millions towards starvation. Of course, these things pale in comparison to the higher priority of fatting the bottom line of the parasitic investor class.

Brimming oil tankers are presently sitting off the coasts of Iran and Louisiana. The Strategic Petroleum Reserve has been filled. Demand is flat. The world’s biggest consumer of energy (guess who?) is cutting back . As CNN reports:

“At a time when gas prices are at an all-time high, Americans have curtailed their driving at a historic rate. The Department of Transportation said figures from March show the steepest decrease in driving ever recorded. Compared with March a year earlier, Americans drove an estimated 4.3 percent less — that’s 11 billion fewer miles, the DOT’s Federal Highway Administration said Monday, calling it “the sharpest yearly drop for any month in FHWA history.” (CNN)

The great oil crunch is another fabricated crisis; another “smoke and mirrors” fiasco; another Enron-type shell-game engineered by banksters and hedge fund managers. Once again, the bloody footprints can be traced right back to the front door of the Federal Reserve. Don’t expect help from the regulators either; they’ve all been replaced with business reps like Harvey Pitt or Hank Paulson. The only time anyone in the Bush administration finds their conscience is when they’re offered a multi-million dollar “tell all” book deal.

Can you hear me, Scotty?

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.

Consumer Road Show by Ralph Nader

Dandelion Salad

by Ralph Nader
Friday, May 30. 2008

William J. Baroody Jr. couldn’t have done better by the consumer movement that he so strenuously op­poses.

As the President’s as­sistant for public liaison, Baroody is the coordinator of a series of regional White House conferences this month on proposed federal departmental consumer representation plans in major cities around the country.

Both the plans and the conferences have been vari­ously denounced as waste­ful, window dressing, elec­tioneering and bureaucratic by consumer groups, local officials and editorials.

At each conference — Chicago, Kansas City, Boston, Atlanta and other cities — aroused consumer orga­nizations turned out to expose this transparent attempt to counteract Ford’s determination to veto the long-needed con­sumer protection agency recently passed by Congress.

Nothing could have so quickly coalesced consumer sentiment against the Ford administration than this amalgam of jet-set road‑ showers from Washington and their local business supporters, like Sears in Chicago, who wined and dined them before the day’s unsuccessful attempt to brainwash the local popu­lace.

How did this backfire occur? About a year ago, a group of Ford’s advisers de­cided that the consumer bill must be opposed at all costs.

Too many big corpora­tions. GM, Ford, Procter & Gamble, Greyhound, J.C. Penney, Exxon — were against any legislation that would establish a consumer agency with the expertise and authority to challenge or take to court the federal agencies which buckled under so often to that same big business pressure.

These advisers real­ized, however, that consum­er protection at a time of rising food, fuel, utility and housing prices could not be ignored.

So first they tried to smear the proposed con­sumer agency as “another layer of bureaucracy” that would add to the federal budget. Then they devised a presidential directive on .April 17, 1975, to federal de­partments regarding a re­view of their “policies and procedures as they affect consumer representation in agency decision-making.”

On Nov. 26, a bulging Federal Register appeared with the proposed consumer representation plans for 17 departments. Filled with make-words and classic bu­reaucratic blahs, these proposals envisioned more paper shuffling, slick titles such as “consumer affairs coordinator” and assorted paraphernalia of this cos­metic consumer circus.

Questions such as what independent authority to take on the particular de­partment would be given to these consumer affairs of­fices, or whether such of­fices could take their departments to court, went ignored.

In the Department of Housing and Urban Devel­opment, consumer com­plaints were to be answered promptly and used to evalu­ate program purposes. Nothing was said about re­dressing the many legitimate complaints.

On the road this month, Baroody, his entourage Virginia Knauer, her entourage, and Cabinet secretaries and representa­tives of 17 departments were rushing from city to city.

At the conferences and workshops, President Ford’s name was invoked at every opportunity. Unmen­tioned was Ford’s refusal to speak to any consumer group while addressing SO industry groups in the past year.

But, excepting the emis­saries from business or re­gional federal employees, the White House’s strategy didn’t wash.

The Boston Globe editori­ally advised the public to “have no part of it.” The Wall Street Journal criti­cized the road trip as a per­version of Ford’s alleged interest in reducing bu­reaucracy.

Richard Borten, execu­tive director of the city of Boston’s Consumers’ Coun­cil, called the Ford confer­ences “an expensive hoax aimed at New England con­sumers.”

Consumer groups in Chicago and Boston pre­pared a “baloney and crumbs luncheon” to sym­bolize their rejection of the conferences’ purposes.

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.


Ralph Nader on Citizen Activism (video)

Ralph Nader posts

Nader for President 2008

Ralph Nader on Citizen Activism (video)

Dandelion Salad


Ralph Nader Organizing Volunteers in Maryland

On Friday, May 30, 2008, Ralph Nader, an announced presidential candidate in the ’08 election, met with volunteers in his campaign at a Dundalk, MD restaurant. The purpose of the get together was to launch a statewide effort to officially place the “Independent Party” on the ballot for the November election. Ten thousands signatures, under state law, are required to secure that objective. After a luncheon, I asked Mr. Nader, the legendary advocate for the consumers and corporate gadfly, about his ballot initiative. He shared his views on that effort and related matters. Mr. Nader underscored: “If only the people knew that they have the power!” For background, please see:

Continue reading

Can Truth Retain Its Independence? By Paul Craig Roberts

Dandelion Salad

By Paul Craig Roberts
05/30/08 “ICH’

Justin Raimondo has a good column this morning on It is written as a fundraiser. But what it shows is that journalists (and whistle-blowers) who tell the truth in America are more likely to be pummeled than rewarded, whereas those who lie for powerful interest groups live high on the hog.

It wasn’t just Bush, Cheney, and the neoconservatives who deceived us into an illegal war in behalf of a hidden agenda. It was the American media. Raimondo names some of the culprits who are complicit in the deaths of some one million Iraqis, an unknown number of Afghans, and thousands of American soldiers.

It was all for a lie. A lie told by the President of the United States and his handmaidens in the media.

Two of the worst handmaidens, Billy Kristol and Thomas Friedman, have been rewarded for their treachery to America by the New York Times, which pays these men, who have never been right about anything, to pontificate from columns on its pages. Others, such as Peter Beinart, are installed at the Washington Post and other publications.

The benefit of being a name columnist at a name newspaper is that it puts you on the lucrative speaking circuit. Raimondo reports, for example, that Friedman is paid $65,000 for a speech.

Such extravagant fees are not paid for words of wisdom. They are paid by interest groups for service. Even if Friedman had anything intelligent to say, it is unnecessary to pay him $65,000 to repeat what he writes in the New York Times.

The same interest groups that control the government offer the most extravagant fees on the speaking circuit. Global corporations that are driving up their stock prices and management bonuses by moving American jobs offshore reward journalists who write propaganda about the benefits of globalism. The military-security complex rewards journalists that feed hysteria about terrorism and foreign threats.

There are far better columnists available than Friedman and Kristol. There’s Raimondo himself. There’s Alexander Cockburn, Jeffrey St. Clair, Pat Buchanan, Lew Rockwell, to name just a few. If the print media had columnists of intelligence and integrity explaining events, instead of propagandists for government and interest groups, the United States would not have wasted eight years (so far) in pointless, illegal, and immoral wars of aggression that have been financed by foreign loans, thus sapping the strength of the dollar and American power.

In America, money, not truth, has the power. If the New York Times had Cockburn instead of Friedman and the Washington Post had Raimondo instead of Beinart, the newspapers would lose advertising revenues and connections with the power brokers.

The same problem exists outside the media. Studies produced by think tanks and university professors serve the causes of those who finance them. Does anyone think we will ever see a study from the American Enterprise Institute, for example, that is critical of Israel’s policy toward the Palestinians, the military-industrial complex, or the offshoring of American jobs? With rare exceptions, think tanks serve the interests of donors.

Even in universities there is not much of the academic freedom that we hear so much about. The Israel Lobby was able to reach into an American Catholic university and deny tenure to a fine scholar, Norman Finkelstein, who refused to obey the rule against truthfully examining Israeli policy and behavior.

Try to find an academic economist who will describe the devastation that offshoring has brought to the American economy and the economic prospects of US labor.

Try to find an academic physicist who will express in public his doubts about the official explanation for the collapse of the three World Trade buildings. An academic career in physics is almost totally dependent on government research grants. By bringing federal funding to education, liberals handed government the power to control. One physicist who expressed his doubts about the collapse of the twin towers, Steven Jones, was terminated by BYU at the insistence of the federal government, which held the power of the purse over the university’s head.

The same constraint on truth exists everywhere. I once asked the proprietor of a distinguished engineering firm why he didn’t publicly express his doubts about the World Trade Center buildings. He said it would be the end of his business, that he would be denounced as an anti-American and demonized as a terrorist sympathizer. The fact that he would be an expert giving an expert opinion would carry no weight.

The same resistance to truth is found in scholarship where enormous vested interests are entrenched. Taking on these vested interests is most often a career-ending event.

Even when the US had an independent press with independent points of view, hysteria could sweep the country in wrong-headed directions. Today it is easier than ever.

Even when research and scholarship were dependent on philanthropic foundations that supported independent views, academic fraud was not uncommon. Today many academics are bought and paid for.

When government and special interests finance education and research, and the media is concentrated in a few large corporations dependent on government broadcast licenses, there is not much room left for truth.

Consequently, today we have the Internet and a new generation of documentary film makers who, together, provide the information, opinions and research that the media, the universities, and the think tanks cannot provide. These sources are our last best hope.

Scientist and philosopher Michael Polanyi said that truth required people to believe in it as a force independent of material interests and intellectual dogmas and to relentlessly seek it. Truth is a belief system, he said, and if we cease to believe in it, it will disappear.

Paul Craig Roberts wrote the Kemp-Roth bill and was assistant secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was associate editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and contributing editor of National Review. He is author or co-author of eight books, including The Supply-Side Revolution (Harvard University Press). He has held numerous academic appointments, including the William E. Simon chair in political economy, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, and senior research fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He has contributed to numerous scholarly journals and testified before Congress on 30 occasions. He has been awarded the U.S. Treasury’s Meritorious Service Award and the French Legion of Honor. He was a reviewer for the Journal of Political Economy under editor Robert Mundell.

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.

Police State America: Yassin Aref’s Struggle for Justice Part II

Dandelion Salad

by Stephen Lendman
Global Research, May 30, 2008

Part II

Yassin Aref is an Iraqi Kurd and political prisoner in Police State America. A full account of his ordeal can be found at the following link:

Yassin Aref’s Struggle for Justice in Police State America by Stephen Lendman

In the post-9/11 climate of fear, Aref was targeted for his faith and ethnicity and victimized by a willful FBI frame. It began as a sting to entrap him. Charges against him were baseless. No evidence supports them. Yet he was falsely arrested, accused, indicted, tried and convicted in October 2006. It was on 10 of 30 fraudulent counts in a kangaroo court proceeding. They included money laundering, conspiracy to provide material support for a terrorist plot, terrorism, and making false statements in February 2002 and August 2004.

Aref was then sentenced in March 2007 and is now serving 15 years hard time at Terre Haute, Indiana’s secret federal prison Communications Management Unit (CMU). It’s for “high-security risk” Muslim and Middle Eastern prisoners and was established to limit or cut them off entirely from outside contact. The unit violates federal law as well as Prison Bureau regulations. They stipulate that “staff shall not discriminate against inmates on the basis of race, religion, national origin, sex, disability, or political belief (including) administrative decisions (involving) access to work, housing and programs.” The Federal Administrative Procedures Act requires that all prison regulations comply with this law.

In addition, the Supreme Court ruled in Johnson v. California (May 3, 2004) that segregating prisoners by race, ethnicity or language is illegal. Bush administration officials disdain the law and ignore whatever High or other court rulings go against them. There aren’t many. Congress is complicit. It makes no effort to stop them, so nothing deters them from mocking the rule of law and erasing the last remnants of democracy in America. The result is victims like Aref and many others like him.

Here’s a brief account of his ordeal and how events unfolded in his case:

— he’s from Iraqi Kurdistan;

— he came to America in 1999, worked as a hospital janitor, ambulance driver and later became the Masjid As Salam Mosque’s imam;

— the FBI targeted him and his friend, Mohammed Mosharref Hossain (a Bangladesh immigrant); it was in a 2003 sting that became a frame; it involved Aref’s courtesy for Hossain – agreeing to witness his loan transaction according to Muslim custom; it was at a time he spoke poor English, believed the transaction was legitimate, was unaware of any law violations, let alone a scheme to frame him;

— he was arrested in August 2004 and convicted in October 2006; charges against him were baseless and were from illegally obtained NSA warrantless wiretaps;

— he’s now at Terre Haute’s CMU, a victim of police state justice, separated from his wife and small children, and hoping for an appeals court verdict in his favor.

On March 24, 2008, Aref’s appeal was held before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York. His status now awaits the outcome from a court that may be sympathetic. In an all too familiar post-9/11 pattern, they’re hearing other cases like his. It’s hoped that may arouse their judicial outrage over such extreme injustice to a growing number of Bush administration victims.

Aref’s Trial Lawyer’s Assessment of the Appeals Court Hearing

Here’s an account of the proceedings from one of his pro bono trial lawyers, Stephen Downs. He attended the hearing and recounted what happened. Forty-seven supporters were there from Aref’s home city of Albany. They filled a bus, traveled to Manhattan, split evenly between Muslims and other faiths, and were all united for Aref.

Downs begins by explaining that predicting the appeals outcome is uncertain at best and perhaps foolish at worst. Separate attorneys represented Aref and Hossain and each used “very different legal arguments.”

Kevin Luibrand argued for Hossain on illegal entrapment. In addition, he claimed that “since the transaction was always presented as a loan, there was no attempt to conceal the source of the money, and hence no crime of Money Laundering occurred….” If the court agrees with either claim, Hossain’s charges may be dismissed. Further, if it accepts the Money Laundering argument, some or all of Aref’s counts may also be dropped.

Downs strikes a hopeful note that: “The Court seemed most interested in these two strong sharply focused arguments, and (assistant US attorney William Pericak) seemed to have the most difficulty with them.”

Terry Kindlon argued for Aref. He mainly claimed that insufficient evidence was presented at trial to justify his conviction. In addition, there were numerous erroneous “evidence” claims to the jury.

Downs is less upbeat about this strategy. While the argument may be strong, it’s hard to present orally “because it is impossible in just (the few minutes alloted) to go through all of the evidence” to show adequate proof. As a result, the Court seemed disinclined to spend a lot of time on this, even though one justice “seemed to have a very detailed understanding of the evidence (and) seemed to understand what the defense was saying.” But he didn’t indicate either way if he agreed or disagreed.

In Down’s opinion, however, the lack of time spent doesn’t indicate how the court will rule. It chose instead to review all evidence in briefs rather than discuss them in detail in open court.

The remainder of Aref’s case involved procedural errors. If they’re accepted, it would result in a new trial but not dismissal of charges against him.

Cory Stoughton of the New York Civil Liberties Union also argued briefly for Aref and Hossain. He focused on how the trial judge handled classified material but withheld it from the defense. He also addressed the illegal NSA wiretapping issue. Downs again thinks this tact is “awkward” because the DOJ kept information secret so defense has no idea what it is or if it’s relevant. Even so, the short amount of time on this matter is no indication of its importance to the Court.

In a separate March 21 pre-hearing press release, the ACLU commented on the case. Executive Director Donna Lieberman said: “The courts must not be complicit in President Bush’s campaign of secrecy. NSA spying is unconstitutional, and secret opinions only aid the government’s effort to keep the illegal campaign hidden away from public scrutiny and outrage.”

Before the March 24 hearing, Cory Stoughton added: “Secret court opinions are antithetical to the American system of justice. Especially when there are allegations of unlawful government surveillance and abuse of executive power at play, the public has a right to understand the government’s arguments and the courts’ justifications for their decisions.” The ACLU firmly supports the public’s First Amendment right to understand what happens in the judicial process and abhors the government’s use of secret information.

Finally, Downs above noted how hard it is predicting the appeal’s outcome, but he tries anyway and is upbeat. He felt “listening to oral argument that the defense, the Court and the prosecution were all quietly agreeing that Hossain was simply the patsy here.” He (and Aref) were part of an FBI sting cum frame, “but nobody ever believed that he (or Aref were) a danger to anyone.”

It means there’s a good chance the Court will rule favorably on the entrapment defense. The justices spent a lot of time on this argument. The DOJ had a lot of trouble explaining its side, and Downs thinks attorney Pericak did a poor job of it. His conclusion leaves this writer breathless and likely Aref and Hossain supporters as well: “The facts are there,” in Downs judgment, “to support a dismissal and so is the legal theory, and so is the sense that this man (and Aref are) not dangerous.” The Court may agree and either dismiss Hossain’s charges or grant him a new trial.

As for Aref, Downs thinks the outcome is harder to predict based on his lawyer’s oral argument. Questions posed centered on evidentiary issues and a detailed knowledge of the record. The Court seemed to be looking for procedural errors that would justify a new trial as the “best way to clear the air.”

Down’s also believes the Court’s view of Aref’s character is important. If it thinks the DOJ unfairly targeted him as a “jihadist, at least he may get a new trial. His lawyer stressed the “character” issue so it may be key to the outcome.

On the issue of so-called “classified evidence,” Downs has no idea how the Court will view it or if it will affect the decision. Without knowing what it is, it’s impossible to gauge its importance, or, in the current climate, how the Court will react.

The New York Times on Aref’s Appeal

On March 25, the NYT wrote about the previous day’s hearing in an article titled “Convicted Imam Seeks Evidence of Wiretapping.” The article’s tone was racist by emphasizing the term “imam” to highlight Aref’s Islamic faith. In addition, it stressed use of NSA wiretaps, ignored the more important defense arguments, and also left out the most pertinent facts about Aref’s case. Nonetheless, Times writer Alan Feuer included some key ones:

— that Aref was “convicted of supporting terrorism in an FBI sting operation;” (no mention was made of a willful frame);

— that he may have been “spied on improperly by the National Security Agency;” (in fact, he was);

— that if the Court agrees, his conviction may be “reverse(d);”

— that the FBI’s “sting” involved a “fictitious plot involving shoulder-launched missiles (to be used for) the assassination of a Pakistani diplomat in New York;” (the idea on its face is preposterous, and the Court may see it that way);

— that secret DOJ evidence was withheld from defense lawyers with security clearances to see it; (it casts doubt on its relevance, authenticity or even existence);

— that the New York Civil Liberties Union testified on behalf of the defense for both men; and The Times concluded by saying:

“As it now stands, the case may be the best chance to obtain an appellate ruling on the (NSA’s wiretapping) program (that persists) without court approval.” Aref’s case (and Hossain’s draw) “directly on the substantial constitutional protections afforded to criminal defendants.”

The Times continued that last year a Cincinnati federal appeals court “dismissed a case challenging the agency’s program, saying that the plaintiffs did not have standing to sue.” However, in November, “a federal district judge in Virginia told the government that if it did not allow lawyers for an Islamic scholar sentenced to life in prison for inciting followers to commit acts of terrorism to review classified material on possible wiretapping, she might order a new trial.”

A Personal Note

I first learned about Aref last March, wrote about him on March 13, and was encouraged that many web editors picked up the article. I also wrote to Aref, and he responded with a considerable delay because of the difficulty communicating with a federal prisoner, especially one called a “terrorist.”

Aref’s letter was glorious. He wanted me to have his book, and I now do. It’s a poignant memoir/autobiography titled “Son of Mountains: My Life as a Kurd and a Terror Suspect.” It was written at Troy, New York’s Rensselaer County Jail after his wrongful October 2006 conviction and before his transfer to Terre Haute’s CMU. It’s a courageous man’s story, and imagine his achievement. He wrote it in jail, barely spoke English when he arrived, has now improved it measurably, but he’s still learning.

I don’t think he’ll mind if I share some of his comments. He began hoping I’m fine, in good health, and then said: “Thank you very much for all you (did) and what you are doing to bring peace and justice for this nation and all over.

I read your article about my case (and) wanted to send you a letter and say thank you….I am glad you have (my) book, this means I will going to hear from you what you think of it, and I will be happy to receive many notes and advices from you….feel free to ‘critisice’ any part of any thing in the book.”

Aref’s book is glorious. It deserves praise and admiration, not criticism, and it’s strongly recommended to readers. It’s also easily available through Amazon, the site has three 5-star reviews on it, it’s going into second printing after a limited first run, and book proceeds are for Aref’s four young children through his Children’s Fund.

Aref wrote much more, enclosed portions of his other writings, and he ended his letter saying: “You honored me by writing to me. I am sorry this is my best in writing English. Take care my ‘brother.’ Peace, salam. Yassin”

Yassin is now my “brother,” a political prisoner and victim of injustice. Yet, his spirit seems high, he dreams of reunion with his family, and he continues to write. A recent article was on April 19. He called it “Bread for the Baker and Meat for the Butcher (Nan Bo Nanawa Goshtish Bo Qasab).” It’s five paragraphs long and says (from the Kurdish experience)

“there is no possibility (in Iraq) for development, and we won’t see any stability til they let our bakers bake bread and our butchers prepare meat. If this doesn’t happen, we will see more corruption and our lives will become more and more miserable. Especially when:

Fools are ruling. The blind are leading. The ignorant are teaching. The racists are preaching

….and a brutal occupation continues its ugly oppression. At his article’s end, Aref cites two proverbs and asks that they be understood to “have a better sense of (one’s) self-respect and recognition of (one’s) own capacity.” He wishes this for “many of our leaders and politicians (and) will be glad to see many of them honoring themselves by resigning from office.” Millions around the world share that view and then some. Many also know about Yassin and how a brutish regime mistreated him.

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at

Also visit his blog site at and listen to The Global Research News Hour on Mondays from 11AM to 1PM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests. Programs are also archived for easy listening.

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: 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.

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Yassin Aref’s Struggle for Justice in Police State America by Stephen Lendman

Buying friends and influencing politicians (Wal-Mart scandal)

Dandelion Salad

by Elizabeth Schulte
May 30, 2008

Elizabeth Schulte reports on the latest scandal at Wal-Mart–and shows that the retail giant is far from the only corporate offender when it comes to buying political influence.

THE HEADS of retail behemoth Wal-Mart knew they’d found a great way to buy influence in Washington–by using a company employee charity trust to increase donations to their political action committee (PAC).

But when they described the process at company management meetings, they never thought the video would end up on the Internet. Continue reading

Mosaic News – 5/29/08: World News from the Middle East

Dandelion Salad



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


For more:
“Taliban Intensify Attacks on US and Canada,” Al Jazeera TV, Qatar
“12 Al Qaeda Members Killed in Iraq,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
“Attacks Escalate against Huti Supporters,” Abu Dhabi TV, UAE
“Lebanese Prime Minister Appointed,” Dubai TV, UAE
“Olmert’s Political Fallout,” IBA TV, Israel
“Desmond Tutu: Calls Gaza’s Condition Appauling,” Al Jazeera English, Qatar
“Head of Households are Children in Gaza,” New TV, Lebanon
“Israel Facing Economic and Social Problems,” Al-Alam TV, Iran
“Amnest International Blasts US’ Human Rights Record,” Syria TV, Syria
Produced for Link TV by Jamal Dajani.

Vodpod videos no longer available.


FBI Compiled “War Crimes” Dossier on Prisoner Abuse and Torture

Sibel Edmonds & her ACLU lawyers + Kill The Messenger at DOXA festival

by Luke Ryland
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
Luke’s blog post
May 30, 2008

Kill The Messenger, the documentary about FBI translator & whistleblower Sibel Edmonds, will be screened at the DOXA film festival in Vancouver on Saturday evening.

The Vancouver Sun lists Kill The Messenger as one of their ‘Best Bets’ for the festival. Continue reading

Hunger strikers stand firm against U.S. missile shield (updated)

Dandelion Salad

Updated added another video


Two campaigners in Prague are taking anti-radar base protests to another level. They’ve been on hunger strike for 18 days as the Czech Republic nears agreement with the U.S. to host part of its missile defence shield.

Continue reading