Michael Parenti: Terrorism, Globalization, and Conspiracy (2002)

with Michael Parenti
Writer, Dandelion Salad
June 16, 2008

DebatesAndLectures on Mar 1, 2012

Dr. Michael Parenti, one of North America’s leading radical writers on U.S. imperialism and interventionism, fascism, democracy and the media, spoke to several hundred people at St. Andrews Wesley Church in Vancouver.

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Prisoner Abuse Was Routine at U.S. Bases in Afghanistan

Dandelion Salad

By McClatchy Newspapers
Duluth News

KABUL, Afghanistan — American soldiers herded the prisoners into holding pens of razor-sharp concertina wire, the kind that’s used to corral livestock.

The guards kicked, kneed and punched many of the men until they collapsed in pain. U.S. troops shackled and dragged other prisoners to small isolation rooms, then hung them by their wrists from chains dangling from the wire mesh ceiling.

Former guards and prisoners whom McClatchy interviewed said Bagram was a center of systematic brutality for at least 20 months, starting in late 2001. Yet the soldiers responsible have escaped serious punishment.

The public outcry in the U.S. and abroad has focused on prisoner abuse at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, but sadistic violence first appeared at Bagram, north of Kabul, and at a similar U.S. internment camp at Kandahar Airfield in southern Afghanistan.

Pattern of abuse

The eight-month McClatchy investigation found a pattern of abuse that continued for years. The abuse of prisoners at Bagram has been reported by U.S. media organizations, in particular the New York Times, which broke several developments in the story. But the extent of the mistreatment, and that it eclipsed the alleged abuse at Guantanamo, hasn’t previously been revealed.

Guards said they routinely beat their prisoners to retaliate for al-Qaeda’s Sept. 11 attacks, unaware that the vast majority of the prisoners had little or no connection to al-Qaeda.


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Guantánamo detainees have constitutional right to habeas corpus: Supreme Court Checks and Balances in Boumediene

Dandelion Salad

by Marjorie Cohn
Global Research, June 16, 2008

After the Supreme Court handed down its long-awaited opinion, upholding habeas corpus rights for the Guantánamo detainees, I was invited to appear on The O’Reilly Factor with guest host Laura Ingraham. Although she is a lawyer and former law clerk for Justice Clarence Thomas, Ingraham has no use for our judicial branch of government, noting that the justices are “unelected.” Indeed, she advocated that Bush break the law and disregard the Court’s decision in Boumediene v. Bush:

“Marjorie, I was trying to think to myself, look, if I were President Bush, and I had heard that this case had come down, and I’m out of office in a few months. My ratings, my popularity ratings are pretty low, I would have said at this point, that’s very interesting that the court decided this, but I’m not going to respect the decision of the court because my job is to keep this country safe.”

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Elect Obama or Fall Into Tyranny By Paul Craig Roberts

Dandelion Salad

By Paul Craig Roberts
06/16/08 “ICH”

As articles by John Pilger (http://www.antiwar.com/pilger/?articleid=12983), Alexander Cockburn (http://www.counterpunch.org/cockburn06132008.html), and Uri Avnery (http://www.counterpunch.org/avnery06092008.html) make clear, by groveling before the Israel Lobby Obama has dispelled any hope that his presidency would make a difference.

Obama told the Lobby that in order to protect Israel he would use all the powers of the presidency to prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon. As in the case of Saddam Hussein’s “weapons of mass destruction,” the conclusion whether or not Iran is making a nuclear weapon will be determined by propaganda and not by fact. Therefore, there is no difference between Bush, McCain, Obama, and the Lobby with regard to the Middle East.

As Israel has several hundred nuclear weapons, and a modern air force and missiles supplied by the US, the idea that Israel needs American protection from Iran is a fantasy. All Israel needs to do in order to be safe and to live in peace is to stop stealing the West Bank and to drop its designs on southern Lebanon. Obama is too smart not to know that US foreign policy has been Shanghaied by the Lobby not in order to protect innocent Israel but to enable Israel’s territorial expansion.

Obama has dispelled hope on the economic front as well. Obama has appointed two leading apologists for jobs offshoring as his economic advisors–Bill Clinton’s Treasury Robert Rubin and Rubin associate Jason Furman. These two are notorious for their justifications of policies that benefit Wall Street, CEOs, and large retailers at the expense of the economic well being and careers of millions of Americans.

As a result of offshoring, good jobs in America are disappearing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics job figures make it totally clear that the US economy has ceased creating net new middle class jobs in the private economy in the 21st century.

Stressing higher returns to shareholders, Wall Street pressures corporations to move their operations abroad. Wal-Mart tells its American suppliers to “meet the Chinese price” or else, a price that US firms can meet only by offshoring their operations to China.

Every job and product that is offshored increases the US trade deficit and lowers US GDP. It is a losing game for America that rewards the overpaid elite of Wall Street and corporate America, while dismantling the ladders of upward mobility.

By enlarging the trade deficit, offshoring erodes the reserve currency role of the dollar, the real basis of US power. Now that US imports exceed US industrial production, it is unlikely that the US trade deficit can be closed except by a sharp reduction in US consumption, which implies a drop in US living standards. If the dollar loses its reserve currency status, the US government will not be able to finance its budget and trade deficits.

Where is the hope when Obama endorses a foreign policy that benefits only Israeli territorial expansion and an economic policy that benefits only multimillionaires and billionaires?

The answer is that Obama’s election would signify the electorate’s rejection of Bush and the Republicans. Considering the cowardice of the Democratic Congress and its reluctance to hold a criminal regime accountable, electoral defeat is the only accountability that the Bush Republicans are likely to experience.

It is not sufficient accountability, but at least it is some accountability.

If the Republicans win the election and escape accountability, the damage Republicans have done to the US Constitution, civil liberty, and a free society will be irreversible. The Bush Regime and its totalitarians have openly violated US law against spying on Americans without warrants and US and international laws against torture. The regime and its totalitarians have violated the Constitution that they are sworn to uphold. Bush’s attorney general Gonzales even asserted to the Senate Judiciary Committee that the US Constitution does not provide habeas corpus protection to American citizens.

When federal courts acted to stop the regime’s unconstitutional practices and abuse of prisoners, the Republicans passed legislation to overturn the court rulings. The Republican Party has shown beyond all doubt that it holds the US Constitution in total contempt. Today the Republican Party stands for unaccountable executive power.

To reelect such a party is to murder liberty in America.

The June 12 Supreme Court decision pulled America back from the abyss of tyranny. For years hundreds of innocent people have been held by the Bush regime without charges, a handful of which were set to be tried in a kangaroo military tribunal in which they could be convicted on the basis of secret evidence and confession extracted by torture.

The Court ruled 5-4 that detainees have the right to appeal to civilian courts for habeas corpus protection. The Bush Republicans claiming “extraordinary times” had created a gestapo system in which the government could accuse, without presenting any evidence, a person of being a threat and on that basis alone imprison him indefinitely. Justice Anthony Kennedy reminded the Republican Brownshirts that “The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times.”

Bush’s current attorney general, Michael Mukassey, said he would proceed with his kangaroo trials.

President Bush indicated that he was inclined to again seek to overturn the Court with a law.

Brownshirt Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said he would draft a constitutional amendment to restore the executive branch’s tyrannical power.

Republican presidential nominee John McCain said that the Supreme Court decision protecting habeas corpus “is one of the worst decisions in the history of this country.”

The four Supreme Court justices (Alito, Roberts, Scalia, and Thomas) who voted for tyranny in America are all Republicans. They all came out of the Federalist Society, a highly subversive group of right-wing lawyers who are determined to elevate the powers of the executive branch above Congress and the Supreme Court.

The Republican Party has morphed into a Brownshirt Party. The party worships “energy in the executive.” If the Brownshirt Republicans are reelected, they only need one more Supreme Court appointment in order to destroy American liberty.

That is what is at stake in the November election. As bad as Obama is on important issues, his election will signal rejection of the tyranny to which the Republicans are committed.


In The Great Tradition – Obama Is A Hawk By John Pilger

No, I Can’t! Obama and The Israeli Lobby by Uri Avnery

Obama & McCain: Two Sides Of The Same Coin By Timothy V. Gatto

Hard right neocons and AIPAC

Only Nader Has Pointed Out the Danger (AIPAC)

Stewart Speaks the Truth About Presidential Pandering to Israel!

Who does AIPAC represent? + AIPAC and the American right


Israel Lobby

J Street

Spying on Americans: Democrats Ready to Gut the Constitution To Protect Their “Constituents” – The Telecoms

Dandelion Salad

by Tom Burghardt
Global Research, June 16, 2008
Antifascist Calling…

Proving the old axiom that Congress “is the best that money can buy,” congressional Democrats are preparing to gut the Constitution by granting giant telecom companies retroactive immunity and liability protection on warrantless wiretapping by the Bush regime.

According to Congressional Quarterly, “Congressional leaders and the Bush administration have reached an agreement in principle on an overhaul of surveillance rules.”

Tim Starks reports,

According to sources familiar with the negotiations, the compromise would be very similar to the last proposal by Sen. Christopher S. Bond , R-Mo., to House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md.

Sources said the major change is that a federal district court, not the secret FISA court itself, would make an assessment about whether to provide retroactive legal immunity to telecommunications companies being sued for their alleged role in the Bush administration’s warrantless surveillance program. (“Agreement Could Pave Way for Surveillance Overhaul,” Congressional Quarterly, June 13, 2008)

In other words, the telecommunication corporations and their “customers,” the NSA, FBI and other members of the “intelligence community” will get everything they want–retroactive immunity and billions of dollars in continued taxpayer subsidies for intelligence “outsourcing.”

Without clear standards for determining whether immunity for these privateers is even justified, the courts will be forced to issue virtual get-out-of-jail-free cards to corporate executives and their shareholders, thus freeing them from any and all liability, should companies claim they had “received assurances” from the state that its spying program was “legal.”

Indeed, no warrants at all would be required when the administration and their outsourced private “partners” choose surveillance “targets” under “exigent,” or urgent circumstances. Needless to say, such “exigent” circumstances are determined by executive branch “intelligence officials,” of whom fully 70% are private mercenaries in the employ of corporatist state structures.

However, civil liberties’ campaigners charge that language currently under consideration by House and Senate “leaders” is “judicial theatre” and a “mirage.” According to the ACLU,

Allowing phone companies to avoid litigation by simply presenting a “permission slip” from the president is not court review. This is immunity pure and simple because the companies are NOT being judged on whether they followed the law. A document stating that the president asked them to conduct warrantless wiretapping is not enough justification for violating the basic privacy rights of Americans. (“Facts on Senator Kit Bond’s (R-MO) FISA Proposal,” American Civil Liberties Union, June 13, 2008)

Under rules being considered by Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Kit Bond (R-MO), House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Bush administration officials, the deal would allow the federal district court “to look at a lower standard of evidence to determine if companies received such orders–a provision sought by the GOP, according to one person involved in the talks,” The Hill reports.

Who then, are the privateers that “opposition” Democrats want to “protect” from litigious “radicals” such as the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation? Some of the wealthiest recipients of “outsourced” intelligence handouts, that’s who! Major players in the administration’s illegal spying programs include, according to Washington Technology’s 2008 Top 100 Government IT Contractors : Verizon Communications Inc., $1,320,637,982 (No. 18); Sprint-Nextel Corporation, $839,946,000 (No. 25); AT&T Inc., $505,358,533 (No. 38); Qwest Communications International Inc., $306,617,000 (No. 51).

If this weren’t bad enough, mendacious “leaders” such as Jay Rockefeller claim that spying telecoms “deserve” immunity because they were “ordered” by the NSA to cooperate with the administration. Indeed, back in January,

Rockefeller defended the actions of the telecom companies, arguing that the companies received explicit orders from the National Security Agency to cooperate with the supersecret surveillance effort. The West Virginia Democrat said the telecom companies were being “pushed by the government, compelled by the government, required by the government to do this. And I think in the end, we’ll prevail.”

Rockefeller added: “If people want to be mad, don’t be mad at the telecommunications companies, who are restrained from saying anything at all under the State Secrets Act. And they really are. They can’t say whether they were involved, they can’t go to court, they can’t do anything. They’re just helpless. And the president was just having his way.” (Daniel W. Reilly, “Rockefeller predicts win in FISA fight over telecom immunity,” Politico, January 23, 2008)

Pity the poor “helpless” telecoms! But as investigative journalist Tim Shorrock documents,

The history of telecom cooperation with the NSA is a guide to how the NSA went about winning cooperation with the industry in 2001. During the 1940s, when telephone and telegraph companies began turning over their call and telegram records to the NSA, only one or two executives at each firm were in on the secret. Essentially, the government raised the issue of patriotism with them, and the companies went along. That kind of arrangement continued into the 1970s, and is likely how cooperation works today. “Once the CEO approved, all the contacts” with the intelligence agencies “would be worked at a lower level,” Kenneth Bass, a former Justice Department official with the Carter administration, told me. “The telecos have been participating in surveillance activities for decades–pre-FISA, post-FISA–so its nothing new to them.” Bass, who helped craft the FISA law and worked with the NSA to implement it, added that he “would not be surprised at all” if cooperating executives received from the Bush administration “the same sort of briefing, but much more detailed and specific, that the FISA court got when [the surveillance] was first approved.” (Spies for Hire, New York: Simon and Schuster, 2008, p. 320)

Helpless indeed! Let’s make a couple of things clear: the Democratic party is completely beholden to their “constituents”–the multinational corporations, including the telecoms, the giant defense contractors and the well-heeled lobbyists who fill their campaign coffers. Since 9/11, with few rare exceptions that can be counted on one hand, the Democrats have been complicit with the Bush administration’s quasi-fascistic “war on terror” and everything that followed in its wake–illegal spying, torture, wars of aggression, not to mention the looting of public assets for private profit known as “outsourcing.”

The facile “debate” over retroactive immunity for spooky telecommunication corporations will reach its inevitable denouement with the Democrats allowing either the FISA court or Federal District courts to essentially rubberstamp immunity orders issued by the Bush administration.

As the ACLU’s Caroline Fredrickson told The Hill, “Whatever silk purse Hoyer tries to make of Bond’s sow’s ear and no matter how they try to sell it, the end result of all this negotiating will be exactly what the administration has wanted from the beginning–FISA rewritten to delete court oversight of surveillance and immunity for its pals at the telephone companies.”

In the final analysis, these “negotiations” are taking place behind closed doors, subject to input by influence-peddlers and corporate lobbyists, without even a cursory–let alone, public–exploration of whether these mercenary outfits violated the law.

It’s a rigged game without a referee…

Tom Burghardt is a researcher and activist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to publishing in Covert Action Quarterly, Love & Rage and Antifa Forum, he is the editor of Police State America: U.S. Military “Civil Disturbance” Planning, distributed by AK Press.

© Copyright Tom Burghardt, Antifascist Calling…, 2008

The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=9348

People Worried About Winter Ahead by Bruce Gagnon


by Bruce Gagnon
featured writer
Dandelion Salad

Bruce’s blog post

June 16, 2008

The hottest topic in Maine these days is the mounting cost of home heating fuel. The cost of home heating oil is actually going up faster than the cost of gasoline and Mainers largely heat their homes with oil. The northeast is the part of the country most reliant on heating oil.

The price per gallon of heating oil on June 9 was $4.459. The price last year on May 30 was $2.32 per gallon. You can imagine the cost to fill a 250-gallon tank.

The paper mill in Millinocket, Maine has announced it will soon close its doors due to the rising cost of oil.

Added to all this of course is the rising cost of food. On my trips to the local grocery store it is amazing that even a box of pasta has gone up more than 30 cents in recent weeks. That is not a good sign for me – the pasta lover.

Seriously though, poor and working class people are going to suffer this coming winter. Not only will they not be able to afford to fill the tanks in their cars, they also won’t be able to fill their heating oil tanks. When that happens pipes begin to freeze and all hell starts to break loose. State and local governments are in no position to be of much help. Local churches don’t have near the resources they will need to help either.

We are already seeing the results. Someone recently went into our basement and stole several hundred dollars worth of power tools that belong to one of our housemates. When people can’t afford food and heating oil we will see more of this.

Living in the northeast puts us right in the middle of the decline and fall of America. Our roads have big potholes in them and the state has no money to repair them. Bridges all over New England are in dire need of repair but states, with their declining tax bases as corporations move jobs overseas, are in no position to fix them. If states try to raise taxes to deal with these problems then the public understandably howls in opposition.

Just today we ordered a second wood stove for our house figuring that we will have to keep our oil furnace down to about 52 degrees all winter and will need to heat as much as possible with wood. When I went to order two more cords of wood I found that the prices of even green wood are also rising and wood dealers are so backed up their waiting lists are 2-3 months long.

We are going to have to get another roommate in our house – making it five people in our intentional community and we are already predicting that we will be taking in people this winter who lose their homes because of the collapsing economy.

It was inevitable that the “American” way of life had to come back down to Earth at some point but what makes it all the worse is that the U.S. government is throwing away $14 billion a month in Iraq and Afghanistan which would go a long way in creating a solar, windmill, conservation, and rail transit society that could alleviate much of the suffering that is coming our way.

On the hopeful side everyone is talking about windmills and conservation these days. On the sad side though few people, outside of the peace movement, are regularly calling for conversion of the military industry complex so that we can free our nation’s resources to deal with the coming storm.

Unless we cut military spending where in the world will the money come from to put a dent in the crippling cost of energy?

Mosaic News – 6/13/08: 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: http://linktv.org/originalseries
“UN Condemns Eritrea for Border Clash with Djibouti,” Al Jazeera TV, Qatar
“Iraqi PM Holds Talks with Jordanian Monarch,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
“University of Baghdad Opposes Security Agreement,” Al-Alam TV, UAE
“$100 M Allotted to Basra,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
“Hamas Claims Responsibility for Blast in Gaza,” Dubai TV, UAE
“UNIFIL to Open Office in Tel Aviv,” New TV, Lebanon
“A Silver Lining for Guantanamo Detainees,” Al Jazeera English, Qatar
“Ahmadinejad Calls Bush’s Nuclear Bluff,” Link TV, USA
Produced for Link TV by Jamal Dajani.

Vodpod videos no longer available.


MIR: Ahmadinejad Calls Bush’s Nuclear Bluff

The Key Question About Tim Russet’s Death by Joel S. Hirschhorn

by Joel S. Hirschhorn
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
June 16, 2008

As a survivor of a heart attack and someone who has spent considerable time learning about coronary heart disease and its treatment I am bewildered by Russet’s death by sudden cardiac arrest. His autopsy confirmed that artery plaque had caused an artery to burst.

Here is what I have kept listening for on all the well deserved media coverage of this remarkable man: Given that his physician has said publicly that Russet suffered from coronary heart disease and was being treated for it, did he ever receive an angiogram by way of cardiac catheterization?

This is the best way for cardiologists to directly see whether there are plaque buildup problems in heart arteries. The procedure is very simple. Depending on what they see either you go home the same day, or the decision is made to clean the arteries out (angioplasty) and likely use stents to keep them open, or to decide that bypass surgery is needed. Use of pacemakers, possibly with a defibrillator, may also be used in conjunction with the stent approach.

Stress tests simply do not provide the same kind of direct information about what is going on inside the heart, so the fact that Russet has passed a stress test recently does not by itself mean all that much.

For many years before my heart attack I, like millions of others, had been taking prescription medicine for cholesterol control, aspirin and blood pressure medication, and I would not be surprised to learn that Russet also was on such a regime. And like Russet I also had emphasized regular physical exercise. But like Russet I too had not lost weight and being overweight remains a big problem even when taking medications. Now, of course, I have lost considerable weight; nothing like a heart attack to provide the most effective motivation to lose weight.

Considering the incredible public attention to Tim Russet’s death I hope that there is more serious inquiry into exactly how he was being treated for his coronary heart disease and, in particular, whether he had been given an angiogram. For the life of me, I do not understand why more of us are not told to get angiograms as a cost-effective, life-saving precautionary diagnostic measure.


MSNBC: Tim Russert Dies at Age 58

Hirschhorn-Joel S.

At the Cliff’s Edge: World Problems & US Power by Stephen Lendman (Dowd)

Dandelion Salad

by Stephen Lendman
Global Research, June 16, 2008

Review of Doug Dowd’s book (Part I)

Age age 89, Doug Dowd is a wonder. He’s still active, vibrant and thankfully so. He calls himself a “radical economist” in the best sense of the term, and for more than 50 years through the late 1990s, he was a distinguished interdisciplinary professor of economic history and more at Cornell, UC Berkelely and elsewhere. It went along with his activism, progressive thinking, honest concern for the least advantaged, and love of teaching young people. He’s no different today, except that he’s semi-retired, living full-time in Bolonga, Italy, nearing his 60th year teaching at nearby Modena University, and approaching his 10th decade.

Dowd also authored many scholarly writings, numerous articles, and many books on cutting-edge economic, political and social issues. Included are Capitalism and Its Economics, the two-volume Broken Promises of America, and his newest and subject of this review, At the Cliff’s Edge: World Problems and US Power.

Dowd dedicates his book to his students in America and Italy. “More than a few of (them) have become dear friends.” They’ve thanked him for his teaching, and this book is his “opportunity to thank them.”

He’s witnessed history longer than most others and cites his concerns. “The world now stands on ‘a cliff’s edge’ ” below which he sees “four related groups of horrors: existing and likely wars, a fragile world economy, pervasive and deepening corruption, and the earth dangerously near the ‘tipping point’ of environmental disaster.” Add one more for good measure – a disdainful administration heading the world for potential disaster, uncaring about what it’s doing, and leaving its mess for a successor.

For Dowd, it’s ominous and disturbing. We may be at “the last stop” of a centuries-long voyage. It produced 15th to 18th century colonialism and nationalism. They, in turn, spawned capitalism and industrialism, and then combined “transformed colonialism into imperialism.”

Dowd wrote his book for a purpose. He learned as a student and teacher that what’s in it isn’t taught or publicly discussed. His classes were never that way. It’s why they were and are still so popular, and why one of his former students asked him to write a needed classroom text. As a high school social studies teacher he found none that were “readable, pertinent, and accessible.” Dowd’s book fills the vacuum. It’s broad in scope, clearly written, easily understood, and a wonderful primer for students. Adults also, and it covers 500 years to the present. In it, he’s critically unsparing in his assessment – of the modern era and what preceded it.

The book is panoramic in scope. It’s long and detailed, and this review covers its highlights in hopes readers will get the volume for it all. Plus the character of the man who wrote it and now working on a new so far unfinished book with likely more offerings ahead. Approaching age 90, Dowd is resilient, dedicated and continues to write and teach. We’re all the better off for it. Read on.

In a moment of reflection, he imagines what America could and should be, not what it is. Therein lies the problem. We have an “unconscious way….of seeing ourselves….as something special (or) better” than others. Hardly so about a country one observer describes as being “a marriage of all that’s admirable with all that’s appalling” with an emphasis on the latter now and worsening. Instead of being virtuous, “we have evolved toward something like its opposite.” Dowd equates the gap between “our realities and our ideals” to “the Grand Canyon.”

And sitting in its “dirty center….are three unacknowledged ways of life, attitudes, (and) values that have been mutually supportive:

— racism and other forms of prejudice;

— ….violence and militarism; (and)

— ….insatiable and socially sanctioned greed for money, things, and power.”

In his forward, Dowd gives examples but laments that they’re not taught in classrooms. One was the Compromise of 1877 unknown to most readers. It was after the Civil War during Reconstruction when northern troops occupied the South. Blacks were nominally free, and southern whites were furious to see them hold office, be policemen, eat in public places, and so forth. The so-called Compromise ended the occupation and “freed whites to do as they wished to black men, women and children.” It took almost a century to end Jim Crow laws, savage lynchings, and a federal government committed to stopping them.

Before it happened, here’s what the North got in return. The right to exploit southern resources, its mines, railroads, factories, cheap labor, and keep blacks de facto slaves as sharecroppers with no schools, voting rights, safety or any legal recourse from the state. For them, everything changed, yet everything remained the same.

Another example is notable with memories of two stolen elections still vivid. In the 1876 (US) presidential election, Samuel Tilden got “today’s equivalent of 2 million more popular votes than (Rutherford B.) Hayes.” In all elections, electoral college votes are decisive. Hayes was awarded one more than Tilden, but 20 votes were disputed, so a congressional committee got to decide. In secret session, a deal was struck to make Hayes president. In hindsight, there’s no doubt that the election was stolen in similar fashion to the Supreme Court giving it to George Bush in 2000.

Marc Crispin Miller’s book then documented the encore in 2004 – electoral fraud writ large in a process even more one-sided than in 2000. Miller’s account makes persuasive reading. “Fooled Again: The Real Case for Electoral Reform” shows what we’re up against and what to look forward to going forward unless sweeping electoral reform is undertaken.

Part I – The Beginnings and Growth of the Modern World

Dowd observes how terribly wrong things are today – too much poverty, hunger, war, anger, privilege and too little of what’s essential to make life tolerable. His book explains how it evolved – “but need not stay this way.”

He cites what he calls the “Big Four” – colonialism (now imperialism), capitalism, nationalism, and industrialism. They’re “processes,” not “things,” and each “fed the others.”

Colonialism began in the late 1400s, and “explorer-heros” like Columbus advanced it. It was brutal, ugly, racist, and violent. Over three centuries it spanned the world and made way for what followed. Thomas Hobbes described life then as “nasty, brutish and short.” With today’s scientific advances, it should be better but isn’t. It’s “worse than ever….because of a maldistribution of power” – too much at the top and mass misery at the bottom and worsening. Add the nuclear threat and potential ecological disaster, and you get the point.

As the world’s leading superpower and richest nation, America bears most responsibility – what’s wrong and how to fix it. We’re not alone, but “the USA is largely responsible for bringing the world to the cliff’s edge.”

Colonialism: The Earliest of the Big Four

It began in the Mediterranean region, then spread everywhere through trade, financial activities and more. Dominant countries were Spain, Portugal, but by 18th century’s end the Dutch, then overtaken by the British in the 19th century. Centralized control became important, the national state common, and a social system called mercantilism emerged to serve it. It then evolved into industrial capitalism but in a much more primitive form than today.

Mercantilism was based on national economic protection. International trade developed, and the idea was to maximize exports, minimize imports, and use revenues to finance government, wars, and greater expansion. It, in turn, led to capitalism, nationalism, and industrialism and all the ills they produce.

Colonialism benefitted elitists who exploited cheap labor on stolen and occupied lands. Millions were enslaved, and Dowd calls slavery “the worst crime of all.” It existed much earlier, but by the 17th and 18th centuries burgeoned with trade to the Americas, especially the US colonies. Rich agriculture was their strength, and slave labor maintained it. Africa supplied it in the many millions.

Capitalism: The Most Important of The Big Four

Capitalism is a social as well as economic system, much like slavery was. First and foremost, capitalists are a money-chasing “class” who’ve found ways to rule the “entire social process.” Not just our work but what we think, and that’s crucial. Witness the power of Big Media in an age of mass communication with giant corporations and their advertisers benefitting. They “shape our feelings, thoughts, and behavior as both consumers and voters.”

Dowd defines capital and its components – the means of production, accumulation, technological advance, a powerless working class, and finance to pay for it. In the modern era, add another element – more than ever, government partnered with business, and providing a legislative and subsidized open field for profits at the expense of working people. The deck is stacked in a zero sum game – business wins; people lose.

Consider the “heart, brain and muscle of capitalism:”

— its heart – limitless exploitation of workers and the land;

— its brain – continued economic and geographic expansion; and

— its muscle – capitalist power and ability to rule society’s economic, political and social life.

Marx described it as the exploitation of human beings and Mother Nature and the resulting destruction of our humanity and fertility of the land. It goes back to medieval England, the feudal era, a world of lords and serfs, the emergent enclosure movement, and a powerless working class today called “wage-slaves.”

With technological advances like the steam engine and textile machinery, industrialism emerged in the early 19th century. Capitalism flourished, but for workers life was “nasty, brutish and short.” It still is for 80% of people the way economist Paul Baran explained it in his Political Economy of Growth. He observed what’s just as true today: “the rich become richer by causing the poor to become poorer.” Even worse, the poor get blamed for their own misfortune.

There are plenty of them, including millions in America – far more than official Census Bureau numbers that deliberately understate the problem at about one-fifth of the population. Today, 68% of US workers earn less than the Economic Policy Institute’s living wage estimate for a family of four – $14 an hour or about $30,000 a year. Even with two family wage-earners, US poverty is likely double the Census Bureau number – in the richest country in the world Dowd calls “the Unequal Society of America.”

Corporate capitalism requires inequality – economic, political and social. Racism is one of its defining features. It pits workers against each other for a dwindling number of good jobs, weakens them, and strengthens those with power. It shaped today’s America, and consider a few of our “firsts:”

— the number of mentally ill,

— incarcerated,

— without health coverage or too little of it,

— with inadequate savings or none at all,

— indebtedness,

— homelessness,

— ill-educated,

— illiterate,

— impoverished,

— abused children,

— waste,

— environmental degradation,

— nuclear weapons stockpile,

— a stated intention to use them preemptively,

— militarism and the multi-trillions it costs,

— the amount of public fraud, and

— much more. Nowhere else are excesses and inequalities greater, and no country is more able to avoid them, won’t, and inflicts so much harm on so many people everywhere.

Nationalism: Your Country Can Do No Wrong

“Nations and nationalism came into existence and strengthened as the needs for their strength arose.” It has nothing to do with patriotism or love of country. It’s a “blood brother of racism, militarism, hate and fear” and belief one’s country is superior and “can do no wrong.” It spawns imperialism that, in turn, feeds capitalism, industrialism and nationalism. It spurs competition between nations and is a frequent cause of war. It’s key to understanding WWs I and II, what’s ongoing in the Middle East and Central Asia, and what may lie ahead as nations vie for power, resources, markets, and cheap labor.

Industrialism: Invention Is the Mother of Necessity

It goes beyond nonagricultural production. It’s about large cities, a class society, enough educated people, strong government, technological advances, and a modern infrastructure. Dowd distinguishes between the (first) industrial revolution with its steam and simple machinery. It led to a second technological one because of chemistry and physics advances. We’re now in a third, it’s global, and it’s based on electronics, biotechnology, information and plenty of high-octane finance. Decades back, a high-school education sufficed. Today, one or more college degrees are vital and in the right fields. Even then, good jobs are disappearing – to low-wage countries, in growing numbers, so what’s left are fewer opportunities as the nation eats its seed corn.

That would have been unimaginable when modern corporations emerged around 1855. Necessity was the reason. Large-scale production needs capital and more than individuals can raise. Corporations get it (like today) by selling shares to investors. By the 1870s, an earlier version of today’s America emerged. One author called it the age of “Robber Barons” with names still familiar to most. They were predators very skilled at their trade – monopolizing markets, skimming millions from corruption, speculating wildly, exploiting workers brutishly, and getting away with it with friendly government help. It’s no different today except the stakes are greater and risks unimaginable.

Earlier, mergers became common. Before WW I, they combined businesses producing like things like steel and oil. By the 1920s, vertically conglomerates emerged of the type so common today – like a GE owning appliance, media, finance and other dissimilar companies.

They became multinationals (MNCs) in the 1960s, then transnationals (TNCs) in the 1980s operating everywhere. They’re huge, powerful and in many cases larger in GDP equivalent than their host countries. The buzzword is globalization. Protests are for global justice. Little so far is in sight. Hopefully it will come. The need is overwhelming, but challenges against it are daunting:

— hugely powerful TNCs;

— governments in their pocket;

— extremes of wealth concentration and power increasing;

— destructive militarism for more; capitalism requires it;

— people exploitation enhances it;

— consumerism keeps it profitable;

— efficiency also as well collateral ecological fallout.

It’s horrific – enormous waste; destructive wars; and little relief in times of peace: conglomerated production and agriculture; exploited labor; extreme wealth disparities; commodifying everything; planned obsolescence; productive overcapacity; unemployment and underemployment; racism; people as production inputs to be used and discarded like waste; and deep-seated levels of corruption.

As companies grow, things worsen in our war-addicted economy profiting business and government together – a mutually destructive alliance. Their gain is civil society’s loss, and the stakes keep getting greater. It’s what Dowd means by a world “at the cliff’s edge.”

Part II – The Global Spread, Functioning, and Breakdown of Industrial Capitalism, 1815 – 1945 – From Imperialism to WW I

Dowd gives a sweeping review of 130 years through WW II’s end. Of necessity, this account is briefer. Britain was dominant in the 19th and early 20th century through WW I. Inevitably it was challenged by Germany’s science and educational superiority and America’s incomparable strengths. These three nations and other European ones “unleashed the 19th century version of colonialism. It was called imperialism (and it) made colonialism look tame.” By the late 19th century, resource needs “were raging,” and competition intense to secure them.

Consider Africa – resource rich and “doomed to endure one set of disasters after another.” Slavery gave way to endless civil wars to ruthless imperial exploitation. The Congo was typical and most important as the continent’s greatest prize – an abundance of ivory, cobalt, copper, rubber, diamonds, gold, zinc, manganese and more in a country the size of western Europe.

Belgium’s King Leopold took it as his private fiefdom, sucked out its riches at the cost of millions of lives, and the country remained a colony until post-WW II. Popular protests won liberation as in other African states. Patrice Lumumba became its first Prime Minister. He wanted Africa freed from European dominance, and he paid with his life for his efforts. The continent is no better off today. America exploits it most. Oil and its other resources are coveted, and no independent leaders are tolerated.

The war in Somalia and challenging Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe highlight the continent’s crisis (and nations everywhere). By 19th century’s end, European powers controlled all of it. Today America is preeminent and intends to remain so.

Asian history is similar and a lot more than about China and Japan. There’s the subcontinent, Central, and Southeast Asia for a vitally important world region. Add the Middle East and its vast oil riches that were discovered early in the last century.

The US was least aggressive but not quiescent. In the 19th century, it took America and half of Mexico, then added Hawaii, Guam, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Samoa, assorted other territories, the Canal Zone and control of Cuba with in perpetuity Guantanamo Bay rights so long as rent is paid or unless both countries back out by mutual consent. Looking back, it was mere prelude to far greater 20th century aims, especially post-WW II when they extended everywhere and now include space.

1914-1945: The Most Disastrous Years in History

Dowd is blunt, and who can disagree. He calls the period between WWs I and II “the most turbulent and disastrous in all of recorded history.” Economically the global economy suffered. Many countries endured depressions that were only exceeded by the “most severe conflicts in their history.” Britain was one, and its economic troubles emerged in the late 19th century. Brits created “the first world economy.” It was strongest militarily, the envy of all Europe, and it became a recipe for rivalries. Who’d be able to create an empire first and be strong enough to keep it. It led to WW I, a flawed peace, years of chaos, conflict and convulsions leading to another great war that the first one was supposed to prevent.

Except for the Great Depression, America was spared, and is now the world’s only superpower. Post-WW I, the US emerged strengthened. For its part, Britain was effectively bankrupt. The war took its toll as it did against the continent’s other combatants. It turned the 1920s into years of “serious recession, economic slack, withdrawal from international trade,” and the rise of fascism as an antidote to hard times. WW II was a war to end it. Instead, it merely slowed it, then relocated it to America – first in “friendly” form, but post-9/11 in increasingly new millennium despotism. What Peter Dale Scott calls the “deep state” – unaccountable, lawless, below the radar, self-serving against the public interest and operative for decades but near omnipotent today. Its classic elements are mostly evident and worrisome:

— severe repression;

— de facto one-party rule;

— despotic laws backing it;

— courts supporting it;

— iron-fisted militarism and “homeland security” enforcement;

— a permanent state of war;

— institutionalized illegal spying;

— stifling dissent;

— stealing elections;

— a claimed messianic mission;

— outlandish racism and targeting racial and ethnic groups on the pretext of fighting “terrorism;” and

— corporatism writ large with strong elements of patriotism, nationalism, yet calling it democracy.

Post-WW I, Dowd traced its rise in Italy, Germany, and Japan with a fundamental lesson for today – democracy and freedom are fragile. Given the right circumstances, they’re easily manipulated and corrupted. Earlier the world paid dearly. Today it still does. The dangers are overwhelming.

1945 – 1950: From the Ashes Arising

WW II left most of Europe and large parts of Asia in ruins. America remained untouched and triumphant. Rebuilding began but for a purpose – to solidify US dominance, create foreign markets for business, and fabricate a Soviet threat for an emergent military-industrial complex. Enter the Marshall Plan, IMF, World Bank, GATT, the Cold War, NATO, and stationing US forces everywhere in ways unimaginable for another country to do here.

Japan became “an immense aircraft carrier (and US) naval base….” West Germany was much the same on the continent. The Depression was over, the great war won, America was triumphant, so on to the next great quest – advancing “capitalist development: monopoly capitalism and the Cold War.”

The Wars in Korea and Vietnam

Liberation helped neither country at a time of Cold War strategy. Things got worse and then some – division; horrific wars; and millions killed, wounded, displaced and immiserated. Wounds are still healing, South Korea still occupied, the North isolated, tensions still high, and Vietnam is chemically contaminated and a US offshore sweatshop.

Dowd reviews the histories and concludes: “To those who cheer our ‘victory’ in the Cold War, our fist-shaking against the ‘axis of evil,’ and our ‘mission accomplished’ in Iraq, here is a request – Dear Uncle Sam: Spare us your victories.” They reveal deceit, betrayal and conquest for world dominance.

More on Dowd’s book follows in Part II. Watch for it soon on this web site.

ordering information regarding Doug Dowd’s book

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

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


© Copyright Stephen Lendman, Global Research, 2008

The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=9345


The happy slave syndrome by Peter Rigg

Just How Stupid Are American Voters? + Stupidity

Dandelion Salad

But not my readers. ~ Lo

Rick Shenkman on Jun 16, 2008

Historian Rick Shenkman is interviewed on CNN about his new book, JUST HOW STUPID ARE WE? FACING THE TRUTH ABOUT THE AMERICAN VOTER (Basic Books, June 2008).

His latest project is Vote iQ: the nation’s first major social networking site built expressly for politics. The non-partisan site arms voters with the facts they need to make good decisions. The site’s slogan: Smarter Voters=Smarter Politics. Go here: http://www.VoteiQ.com

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