Campaign Finance Reform Has Failed By Robert Parry

Dandelion Salad

By Robert Parry
June 23, 2008

Barack Obama’s decision to opt out of federal campaign financing has riled newspaper editorialists, TV pundits and even some progressives who view regulating “money in politics” as the silver bullet to kill the special-interest domination of Washington.

Continue reading

Dahr Jamail: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist

Dandelion Salad


June 19, 2008
Interview with independent journalist Dahr Jamail author of “Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq”


Dahr Jamail: Iraq and U.S. Military Expansion

A Year Has Passed by Jennifer

Jennifer Wants Justice and Peace

by Jennifer
featured writer
Dandelion Salad

Jennifer’s blog post
Justice and Peace
June 28, 2008

“There is perhaps no surer road to peace than the one that starts from little islands and oases of genuine kindness, islands, and oases constantly growing in number and being continually joined together until eventually they ring the world.” ~Father Dominique Pire (1958)

It has been almost a year since I embarked on my trip to Israel and the Occupied Territories. My intention when I left was to wade through the propaganda, gain some insight, and pass my own judgments about the situation. The experience in and of itself was surreal. There exists pieces of me that continue to reside there and some that never went.

My intention was to write about what I saw and I have not. I have held the experience inside myself for many reasons. Feelings of being overwhelmed overcome me any time I attempt to explain, especially in writing. Of course, there is also the extreme racism against Arabs in the psyche of many and I often find myself called some of the most abhorrent and misdirected names when I speak out against the violence perpetrated on them. It is a misguided claim, that those whose hearts bleed for the Arabs do not bleed for the Jews. The accusations I have heard or read are directed at human rights organizations, the international community, and individuals like me.

For example, Human Rights Watch released a report condemning Israeli military operations that unnecessarily displaced and killed civilians during the 2006 “war” with Hezbollah fighters. Uproar came from the Jewish community that this organization was anti-Semitic and favored terrorist organizations. A simple search of Human Rights Watch’s website (where numerous reports condemning Hezbollah for targeting Israeli civilians) clears up this erroneous claim.

Please excuse my digression.

Somewhere between the propaganda, the violence, and media reports lies a diverse and changing truth and that truth resides with individual stories and those who tell them. The single consistent message from both Arab and Jew for me was to return and tell those stories. Reflecting back now, there are many I have not told. I was reminded of this when I read my e-mail this morning and read a piece published by Deborah Agre who is there now.

As I read, I could picture in my minds eye the sights and sounds of everything she had written about. I knew the room she was in when she read her e-mail, I knew the bus that had its windows blown out by the sound bomb, and I knew the restaurant she spoke of and the stairs. However, what I am most intimate with are the feelings of helplessness and despair that come with living with a military occupation. It is a feeling that regardless of position of occupier or occupied, race, gender, or religious belief demeans, degrades, and de-humanizes all.

As Americans occupying Iraq, we have much to learn from the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. It is a lesson draped in simplicity and truth – peace is only obtained through the creation of a stable society. Oppression and violence simply undermine this goal.

While in the city of Hebron, I floated upon an island of peace, an island where Father Pire’s vision was evident. Underneath an Olive Tree, I gathered with an Arab family and two young Jewish men who had served with the Israeli Defense Forces.

With the heat of the day brushed away by a shade cooled wind, we discussed ways to empower the people of the city. And while we talked, I wondered why no one around the world was paying attention.

The Other Gas Crisis by The Other Katherine Harris

The Other Katherine Harris

by The Other Katherine Harris
Featured writer
Dandelion Salad

The Other Katherine Harris’s blog
June 28, 2008

Given the impact of speculative greed on gasoline and food prices, it’s hard to enjoy a picnic this summer, let alone a vacation trip — but these will seem like the good old days, come fall and winter.  We’ll be not only hungry and house-bound then, but also freezing our fannies off, because the cost of natural gas is rising at nearly twice the rate of oil!

So far this year, natural gas is up by a whopping 76 percent.  That makes the oil price hike look puny at 42 percent and even outdoes corn’s riot-inducing 58 percent increase.

Don’t think you’re off the hook, if you heat with electricity.  Many power plants are running on natural gas these days, including virtually all built since the turn of the century.  This is one reason why it’s a can’t-miss bet for futures traders — the additional causes being an explosion of McMansions across the landscape and the biofuels boondoggle.  (Few realize how much natural gas it takes to grow and distill agrofuels, but the hedge funders and other predators definitely get it.)

BTW, for those who heat with oil and think maybe they’ll catch a break for a change, don’t bank on it.  The outfit now holding the largest supply of heating oil in New England is Morgan Stanley, as came out in a recent Congressional hearing on commodities market manipulation.  Their actually taking delivery of the stuff is no doubt a ploy to keep themselves in the game, if purely financial investment is finally restricted — but those capable of such a dramatic move can be assumed capable of profiting richly from it in every way.

So, in “gather ye rosebuds while ye may” spirit, it would behoove us to prepare during warm weather for the heating season.  It’s obviously a lot more comfortable to replace inefficient windows, improve insulation, futz with weather-stripping and so forth, before cold winds start to blow, and such efforts will be rewarded also by savings on air conditioning.  I intend to install seriously thermal window-coverings, having read that they produce remarkable bang for the buck, and look into adding some skylights and south-facing windows for solar gain.  Even projects that might have seemed unaffordable previously deserve to be reconsidered in the light of natural gas rates poised to double — or worse — by the time you turn your furnace on again.

Wall of Stupidity

by Guadamour
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
Guadamour’s blog post
June 28, 2008

Living only nine blocks from Mexico, one tends to pay close attention to anything that effects the border or that is written about it.

As part of the $1.2 billion that was allocated to build a wall to separate The United States of America and Los Estados Unidos de Mexico, they are excavating a runoff ditch that follows the border on the US side and concreting it.  The National Guard Engineering Corps are doing the work.

The most recent issue of Time Magazine featured the Great Wall of America on the cover.

It explained how the wall is being built by the same firms that are the defense contracts in Iraq.

It also explained how as one area was finished, the smugglers of drugs and people moved operations to another area where the fence was not completed.

The article further explained how in parts of the border that it is almost physically impossible to build a literal wall, but how a virtual wall is planned.

What it does not explain is that (if and when they can actually get a virtual wall working–$120 million has already been spent, though it doesn’t work) a virtual wall is useless, because by the time border officials can respond to the presence of people, they will be long gone.

The National Guard has been supplementing the Border Patrol and other law enforcement along the international line.  The article explains how they are being pulled away from the border because they are needed for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The article mention the problem of hiring more Border Patrol to replace the missing Nation Guard because there has been a problem with corruption among the Border Patrol because of the lowering of standards to meet quotas.  What it does not go into is the oftentimes lack of professionalism in work performed by the Border Patrol.

As an example of this, a friend of mine, and one of the few college educated Border Patrol Agents went public when he discovered that an arrest was made under false pretenses.   The stop and the arrest were basically illegal sloppy police work; however, drugs were seized and there was a prosecution involved.

My friend was working in a supervisory capacity.  He was demoted and given light office duty with no chance of overtime, thereby, severely limiting his income.  The ACLU has agreed to represent him in his case against the Border Patrol.

Time Magazine does a good job of showing how the border issue will be a continued and ongoing problem even upon completion of the wall.  It explains how the fence is cut each and every night with blow torches [in] many places along the border, and how the smugglers are very resourceful and will fly over, tunnel under or go around via the thousands of miles of US coast line.

What Time Magazine fails to do is question why there is currently such a huge immigration and drug smuggling problem when fifteen years ago it wasn’t really a very serious issue.

Furthermore, Time Magazine fails to offer any solutions to the problems.   This is understandable because they assign a staff writer to research the issue and write about it and aren’t all that familiar with the issue.  It’s a lot different when you were born before fire was invented and you’ve spent most of your life within a hundred miles of the border.

The North America Free Trade Agreement went into effect in 1994.

As Naomi Klein so aptly shows in her book, Shock Doctrine.  Chile as the first country to suffer under the Chicago School of Economics concept of “Free Trade.”   The results were disastrous in Chile and every old place in the world that was subjected to it.

Professor Chong in his book Bad Samaritan, gives many historical examples from all the countries that have succeeded in the world and shows how they used protective tariffs to foster indigenous industry and agriculture, the opposite of “Free Trade.”

Raj Patel in his book Stuffed and Starved explains how even before  NAFTA was signed into law it was know that it would destroy the Mexican small agriculturalist, because the treaty allowed the import of highly subsidized crops into Mexico.

It is only reasonable that after destroying the Mexican small self-sufficient landholder that they would have to seek sustenance elsewhere.  Mexico was in no position to put all these people to work.   Of necessity, most of them illegally immigrated to the US.  That didn’t prevented authorities from lying to the public and claiming that Mexican farmers would benefit from NAFTA and that it would raise their living standard.

The only logical solution to the immigration problem based on the logic presented above is to do away with NAFTA, and re-institute programs that help small agriculturalists.

It is going to be almost impossible to effectively do this, because the wealthy–-individuals and corporations– have purchased many of the lands that the small farmers used to till.

These people do no want to come to the US, they are forced to out of necessity.

The only way they can be re-employed in Mexico and elsewhere is if a massive micro-loan program is developed.   Micro Loans have been proven to work over and over again.

The $1.2 billion being used to build the Great Wall of America and further enrich swollen war profit laden corporations like Halliburton, could be better and more effective spent on a micro-loan program.

For people who want to get involved in a Micro Loan Program with a small donation has a great program that helps thousands.


The Great Mexican Oil Takeover

The Unholy Trinity Of International Terrorists Organizations

A Man-Made Famine + Stuffed & Starved: Interview with Raj Patel

Global Food Crisis: Hunger Plagues Haiti & the World by Stephen Lendman

Bad Samaritans – The Myth of Free Trade & the Secret History of Capitalism

Naomi Klein “The Shock Doctrine” & “No Logo” interview (must-see video)

Impeachment “ON or Off the table”? You decide.

Dandelion Salad


Impeachment: Why is it “Off the Table”?

On June 9th, Thirty-five Articles of Impeachment detailing high crimes and
misdemeanors were presented to the American people by Congressman Dennis

It takes wisdom and courage to stand up and be counted.
Courage to stand up for what is right, whether or not it is popular,
or politically expedient.

Dennis Kucinich did! Will you?

Congressman Kucinich has created a path for “We the People” to take immediate action to reclaim our civil rights, our Constitution and our democracy.

It is only through the tools of impeachment that we can hold the administration to full accountability.

Impeachment ON or Off the table”? You decide.

Sign the Official Impeachment Petition.

No President, corporation or individual is above the law.

Produced by Russell Parker
Edited by Chad Ely


Take Action – Sign the Petition for Impeachment

Robert Wexler on Hannity & Colmes June 26, 2008

Rogue Nation: Time to change the course of U.S. history

Charge Bush With Murder by Francis A. Boyle (audio)

Kucinich: Our Democracy Must Not Come and Go


The McCain Public Campaign Finance Scam

Dandelion Salad


Senator McCain is using the old Rove tactic of attacking your opponents strong point and muddying a issue to cover up potential crimes. At the very minimum, John McCain has already broken the idealism of Public Campaign Finance by opting in to secure a loan and then trying to opt out when he mathematically locked up the GOP nomination.

Watch his comments carefully, he ALWAYS states that Obama’s promise was broken to the American people and specifically not to him. Thats because Senator Obama has from the start stipulated that a agreement must be made between the candidates to prevent undue outside influence from unregulated soft money and Political Action Committees (PACs).

Links to information presented in the video:

Senator Obama’s USA article “Opposing view: Both sides must agree” dated Feb. 20, 2008:…

Press release issued by MDN “MDN STATEMENT CALLING ON ALL PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES TO CLARIFY PUBLIC FINANCING AND OTHER REFORM POSITIONS” issued in Feb 2008, 5 months after the survey and misreported on CNN:




McCain mathematically locking the GOP nomination Feb 11:…

News articles regarding McCain’s loan using taxpayer money as collateral:

WaPo Feb 16, McCain Got Loan by Pledging to Seek Federal Funds:…

Rueters Feb 22, McCain says untroubled by campaign-finance letter:…

WaPo Feb 22, FEC Warns McCain on Campaign Spending:…

USA Today, Feb 26, Dems call for FEC probe of McCain:…

Potential crimes committed by McCain:……

Transcript of the news report featured in this video, Feb 20:…

For great news and political content, go to Dandelion Salad blog:

Fight the good fight,


Zionism’s Dead End By Jonathan Cook

Dandelion Salad

By Jonathan Cook in Nazareth
June 27, 2008

Separation or ethnic cleansing? Israel’s encaging of Gaza aims to achieve both

The following is taken from a talk delivered at the Conference for the Right of Return and the Secular Democratic State, held in Haifa on June 21.

In 1895, Theodor Herzl, Zionism’s chief prophet, confided in his diary that he did not favour sharing Palestine with the natives. Better, he wrote, to “try to spirit the penniless [Palestinian] population across the border by denying it any employment in our own country… Both the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discreetly and circumspectly.”

He was proposing a programme of Palestinian emigration enforced through a policy of strict separation between Jewish immigrants and the indigenous population. In simple terms, he hoped that, once Zionist organisations had bought up large areas of Palestine and owned the main sectors of the economy, Palestinians could be made to leave by denying them rights to work the land or labour in the Jewish-run economy. His vision was one of transfer, or ethnic cleansing, through ethnic separation.

Herzl was suggesting that two possible Zionist solutions to the problem of a Palestinian majority living in Palestine — separation and transfer — were not necessarily alternatives but rather could be mutually reinforcing. Not only that: he believed, if they were used together, the process of ethnic cleansing could be made to appear voluntary, the choice of the victims. It may be that this was both his most enduring legacy and his major innovation to settler colonialism.

In recent years, with the Palestinian population under Israeli rule about to reach parity with the Jewish population, the threat of a Palestinian majority has loomed large again for the Zionists. Not surprisingly, debates about which of these two Zionist solutions to pursue, separation or transfer, have resurfaced.

Today these solutions are ostensibly promoted by two ideological camps loosely associated with Israel’s centre-left (Labour and Kadima) and right (Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu). The modern political arguments between them turn on differing visions of the nature of a Jewish state originally put forward by Labour and Revisionist Zionists.

To make sense of current political debates, and events, taking place inside Israel and in the West Bank and Gaza, let us first examine the history of these two principles in Zionist thinking.

During the early waves of Jewish immigration to Palestine, the dominant Labour Zionist movement and its leader David Ben Gurion advanced policies much in line with Herzl’s goal. In particular, they promoted the twin principles of “Redemption of the Land” and “Hebrew Labour”, which took as their premise the idea that Jews needed to separate themselves from the native population in working the land and employing only other Jews. By being entirely self- reliant in Palestine, Jews could both “cure” themselves of their tainted Diaspora natures and deprive the Palestinians of the opportunity to subsist in their own homeland.

At the forefront of this drive was the Zionist trade union federation, the Histadrut, which denied membership to Palestinians and, for many years after the establishment of the Jewish state, even to the remnants of the Palestinian population who became Israeli citizens.

But if separation was the official policy of Labour Zionism, behind the scenes Ben Gurion and his officials increasingly appreciated that it would not be enough in itself to achieve their goal of a pure ethnic state. Land sales remained low, at about six per cent of the territory, and the Jewish-owned parts of the economy relied on cheap Palestinian labour.

Instead, the Labour Zionists secretly began working on a programme of ethnic cleansing. After 1937 and Britain’s Peel Report proposing partition of Palestine, Ben Gurion was more open about transfer, recognising that a Jewish state would be impossible unless most of the indigenous population was cleared from within its borders.

Israel’s new historians have acknowledged Ben Gurion’s commitment to transfer. As Benny Morris notes, for example, Ben Gurion “understood that there could be no Jewish state with a large and hostile Arab minority in its midst”. The Israeli leadership therefore developed a plan for ethnic cleansing under cover of war, compiling detailed dossiers on the communities that needed to be driven out and then passing on the order, in Plan Dalet, to commanders in the field. During the 1948 war the new state of Israel was emptied of at least 80 per cent of its indigenous population.

In physically expelling the Palestinian population, Ben Gurion responded to the political opportunities of the day and recalibrated the Labour Zionism of Herzl. In particular he achieved the goal of displacement desired by Herzl while also largely persuading the world through a campaign of propaganda that the exodus of the refugees was mostly voluntary. In one of the most enduring Zionist myths, convincingly rebutted by modern historians, we are still told that the refugees left because they were told to do so by the Arab leadership.

The other camp, the Revisionists, had a far more ambivalent attitude to the native Palestinian population. Paradoxically, given their uncompromising claim to a Greater Israel embracing both banks of the Jordan River (thereby including not only Palestine but also the modern state of Jordan), they were more prepared than the Labour Zionists to allow natives to remain where they were.

Vladimir Jabotinsky, the leader of Revisionism, observed in 1938 — possibly in a rebuff to Ben Gurion’s espousal of transfer — that, “it must be hateful for any Jew to think that the rebirth of a Jewish state should ever be linked with such an odious suggestion as the removal of non-Jewish citizens”. The Revisionists, it seems, were resigned to the fact that the enlarged territory they desired would inevitably include a majority of Arabs. They were therefore less concerned with removing the natives than finding a way to make them accept Jewish rule.

In 1923, Jabotinsky formulated his answer, one that implicitly included the notion of separation but not necessarily transfer: an “iron wall” of unremitting force to cow the natives into submission. In his words, the agreement of the Palestinians to their subjugation could be reached only “through the iron wall, that is to say, the establishment in Palestine of a force that will in no way be influenced by Arab pressure”.

An enthusiast of British imperial rule, Jabotinsky envisioned the future Jewish state in simple colonial terms, as a European elite ruling over the native population.

Inside Revisionism, however, there was a shift from the idea of separation to transfer that mirrored developments inside Labour Zionism. This change was perhaps more opportunistic than ideological, and was particularly apparent as the Revisionists sensed Ben Gurion’s success in forging a Jewish state through transfer.

One of Jabotinsky disciples, Menachem Begin, who would later become a Likud prime minister, was leader in 1948 of the Irgun militia that committed one of the worst atrocities of the war. He led his fighters into the Palestinian village of Deir Yassin where they massacred over 100 inhabitants, including women and children.

Savage enough though these events were, Begin and his followers consciously inflated the death toll to more than 250 through the pages of The New York Times. Their goal was to spread terror among the wider Palestinian population and encourage them to flee. He happily noted later: “Arabs throughout the country, induced to believe wild tales of ‘Irgun butchery’, were seized with limitless panic and started to flee for their lives. This mass flight soon developed into a maddened, uncontrollable stampede.”

Subsequently, other prominent figures on the right openly espoused ethnic cleansing, including the late General Rehavam Zeevi, whose Moledet Party campaigned in elections under the symbol of the Hebrew character “tet”, for transfer. His successor, Benny Elon, a settler leader and rabbi, adopted a similar platform: “Only population transfer can bring peace”.

The intensity of the separation versus transfer debate subsided after 1948 and the ethnic cleansing campaign that removed most of the native Palestinian population from the Jewish state. The Palestinian minority left behind — a fifth of the population but a group, it was widely assumed, that would soon be swamped by Jewish immigration — was seen as an irritation but not yet as a threat. It was placed under a military government for nearly two decades, a system designed to enforce separation between Palestinians and Jews inside Israel. Such separation — in education, employment and residence — exists to this day, even if in a less extreme form.

The separation-transfer debate was chiefly revived by Israel’s war on the West Bank and Gaza in 1967. With Israel’s erasure of the Green Line, and the effective erosion of the distinction between Palestinians in Israel and the occupied territories, the problem of a Palestinian majority again loomed large for the Zionists.

Cabinet debates from 1967 show the quandary faced by the government. Almost alone, Moshe Dayan favoured annexation of both the newly captured territories and the Palestinian population there. Others believed that such a move would be seen as transparently colonialist and rapidly degenerate into an apartheid system of Jewish citizens and Palestinian non-citizens. In their minds, Jabotinsky’s solution of an iron wall was no longer viable.

But equally, in a more media-saturated era, which at least paid lip-service to human rights, the government could see no way to expel the Palestinian population and annex the land, as Ben Gurion had done earlier. Also possibly, they could see no way of persuading the world that such expulsions should be characterised as voluntary.

Israel therefore declined to move decisively in either direction, neither fully carrying out a transfer programme nor enforcing strict separation. Instead it opted for an apartheid model that accommodated Dayan’s suggestion of a “creeping annexation” of the occupied territories that he rightly believed would go largely unnoticed by the West.

The separation embodied in South African apartheid differed from Herzl’s notion of separation in one important respect: in apartheid, the “other” population was a necessary, even if much abused, component of the political arrangement. As the exiled Palestinian thinker Azmi Bishara has noted, in South Africa “racial segregation was not absolute. It took place within a framework of political unity. The racist regime saw blacks as part of the system, an ingredient of the whole. The whites created a racist hierarchy within the unity.”

In other words, the self-reliance, or unilateralism, implicit in Herzl’s concept of separation was ignored for many years of Israel’s occupation. The Palestinian labour force was exploited by Israel just as black workers were by South Africa. This view of the Palestinians was formalised in the Oslo Accords, which were predicated on the kind of separation needed to create a captive labour force.

However, Yitzhak Rabin’s version of apartheid embodied by the Oslo process, and Binyamin Netanyahu’s opposition in upholding Jabotinsky’s vision of Greater Israel, both deviated from Herzl’s model of transfer through separation. This is largely why both political currents have been subsumed within the recent but more powerful trend towards “unilateral separation”.

Not surprisingly, the policy of “unilateral separation” emerged from among the Labour Zionists, advocated primarily by Ehud Barak. However, it was soon adopted by many members of Likud also. Ultimately its success derived from the conversion to its cause of Greater Israel’s arch-exponent, Ariel Sharon. He realised the chief manifestations of unilateral separation, the West Bank wall and the Gaza disengagement, as well as breaking up Israel’s right wing to create a new consensus party, Kadima.

In the new consensus, the transfer of Palestinians could be achieved through imposed and absolute separation — just as Herzl had once hoped. After the Gaza disengagement, the next stage was promoted by Sharon’s successor, Ehud Olmert. His plan for convergence, limited withdrawals from the West Bank in which most settlers would remain in place, has been dropped, though its infrastructure — the annexation wall — continues to be built.

But how will modern Zionists convert unilateral separation into transfer? How will Herzl’s original vision of ethnic cleansing enforced through strict ethnic separation be realised in today’s world?

The current siege of Gaza offers the template. After disengagement, Israel has been able to cut off at will Gazans’ access to aid, food, fuel and humanitarian services. Normality has been further eroded by sonic booms, random Israeli air attacks, and repeated small-scale invasions that have inflicted a large toll of casualties, particularly among civilians.

Gaza’s imprisonment has stopped being a metaphor and become a daily reality. In fact, Gaza’s condition is far worse than imprisonment: prisoners, even of war, expect to have their humanity respected and to be properly sheltered, cared for, fed and clothed. Gazans can no longer rely on these staples of life.

The ultimate goal of this extreme form of separation is patently clear: transfer. By depriving Palestinians of the basic conditions of a normal life, it is assumed that they will eventually choose to leave in what can once again be sold to the world as a voluntary exodus. And if Palestinians choose to abandon their homeland, then in Zionist thinking they have forfeited their right to it — just as earlier generations of Zionists believed the Palestinian refugees had done by supposedly fleeing during the 1948 and 1967 wars.

Is this process of transfer inevitable? I think not. The success of a modern policy of “transfer through separation” faces severe limitations.

First, it depends on continuing US global hegemony and blind support for Israel. Such support is likely to be undermined by current American misadventures in the Middle East, and a gradual shift in the balance of power to China, Russia and India.

Second, it requires a Zionist worldview that departs starkly not only from international law but also from the values upheld by most societies and ideologies. The nature of Zionist ambitions is likely to be ever harder to conceal, as is evident from the tide of opinion polls showing that Western publics, if not their governments, believe Israel to be one of the biggest threats to world peace.

And third, it assumes that the Palestinians will remain passive during their slow eradication. The historical evidence most certainly shows that they will not.

Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto, 2008), and “Disappearing Palestine” (Zed, forthcoming).

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The Nuclear Expert Who Never Was By Scott Ritter

Dandelion Salad

By Scott Ritter
06/27/08 “

I am a former U.N. weapons inspector. I started my work with the United Nations in September 1991, and between that date and my resignation in August 1998 I participated in over 30 inspections, 14 as chief inspector. The United Nations Special Commission, or UNSCOM, was the organization mandated by the Security Council with the implementation of its resolutions requiring Iraq to be disarmed of its weapons-of-mass-destruction capabilities. While UNSCOM oversaw the areas of chemical and biological weapons, and ballistic missiles, it shared the nuclear file with the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA. As such, UNSCOM, through a small cell of nuclear experts on loan from the various national weapons laboratories, would coordinate with the nuclear safeguards inspectors from the IAEA, organized into an “Action Team” dedicated to the Iraq nuclear disarmament problem. UNSCOM maintained political control of the process, insofar as its executive chairman was the only one authorized to approve a given inspection mission. At first, the IAEA and UNSCOM shared the technical oversight of the inspection process, but soon this was transferred completely to the IAEA’s Action Team, and UNSCOM’s nuclear staff assumed more of an advisory and liaison function.

In August 1992 I began cooperating closely with IAEA’s Action Team, traveling to Vienna, where the IAEA maintained its headquarters. The IAEA had in its possession a huge cache of documents seized from Iraq during a series of inspections in the summer of 1991, and together with other U.N. inspectors I was able to gain access to these documents for the purpose of extracting any information which might relate to UNSCOM’s non-nuclear mission. These documents proved to be very valuable in that regard, and a strong working relationship was developed. Over the coming years I frequently traveled to Vienna, where I came to know the members of the IAEA Action Team as friends and dedicated professionals. Whether poring over documents, examining bits and pieces of equipment (the IAEA kept a sample of an Iraqi nuclear centrifuge in its office) or ruminating about the difficult political situation that was Iraq over wine and cheese on a Friday afternoon, I became familiar with the core team of experts that composed the IAEA Action Team.



Bill Moyers Journal: Contemplating “Climate Security” + Worker Safety + Big Oil

Dandelion Salad

Bill Moyers Journal

June 27, 2008

Contemplating “Climate Security”

June 27, 2008

On Friday, June 6th, 2008 the Liberman-Warner Climate Security Act — the first climate change bill to be debated in Congress — died a procedural death on the Senate floor when the Democratic leadership couldn’t rally the 60 votes necessary to move the bill from debate to a vote.

Republicans overwhelming opposed the bill and made their opposition felt in several ways. Senator Mitch McConnell, the minority leader, forced the entire text to be read aloud, a process which took more than ten hours. McConnell, of Kentucky, opposed the bill as a “tax” that he claimed would raise fuel prices even more. Senator Boxer disputed labeling it as a tax and told BILL MOYERS JOURNAL that the act will raise trillions of dollars that can be used to off-set increased prices for consumers:

…continued plus video and transcript

Worker Safety

Injury rates reported at America’s poultry plants have dropped dramatically in recent years, and so have workplace safety inspections. Are regulators rewarding companies for inaccurate reporting of injuries? BILL MOYERS JOURNAL and EXPOSÉ: AMERICA’S INVESTIGATIVE REPORTS go inside America’s poultry industry, which employs almost a quarter million workers nationwide, to show the reality of working conditions and to investigate how official statistics showing a drop in workplace injuries may have been the result of deceptive reporting.

…continued plus video and transcript


BILL MOYERS JOURNAL | Bill Moyers on Big Oil | PBS

PBS A Bill Moyers essay on big oil. Airs Friday, June 27, at 9p.m. on PBS (check local listings). For more:


It Was Oil, All Along By Bill Moyers and Michael Winship

Bill Moyers Journal: LA Labor + Wages & Work + Gilded Ages

Now Comes The Hard Part By David Michael Green

Dandelion Salad

By David Michael Green
06/27/08 “ICH”‘

People all over the world – and certainly no less progressive Americans – are trying to take the measure of Barack Obama. The previous and coming few weeks will be a good, though not perfect, moment for doing so.

I have long believed that the winner of the Democratic nomination in 2008 would be the winner of the presidency. With Newsweek now reporting a fifteen point polling spread between Obama and McCain, that is looking more and more true. Moreover, my guess is that this year, like most, the Electoral College math will magnify that gap even further. I have contended for some time that Democrats are going to have a giant year (or, more precisely, Republicans are going to be fiercely spanked), all down the ballot, ranging from dogcatchers up to senators and governors. I expected that the presidential race might be a bit closer than those others, but even that may not be true.

Of course, everything can change in a day, let alone four months. Just ask Mike Dukakis, who entered his year’s summer with about a seventeen point advantage over George Bush the Elder, and proceeded to get stomped. Dukakis was one of the earliest swiftboat victims, back before there even were swiftboater political assassins, per se, and of course the Atwater/Rove machine destroyed him mercilessly. He never seemed to know what hit him, and he certainly never fought back.

Neither condition seems likely to apply to Obama, however – particularly the latter. That great hissing sound you’ve been hearing for some time now is the energy going out of the regressive right movement, including the funding and support from the hired guns. Not only do these people see the freight train headed their way, but they can’t even get remotely excited about their standard-bearer, John McCain. If your politics suck in America, it’s getting harder and harder to get out of bed in the morning.

Moreover, there hasn’t been a Democrat like Barack Obama in the thirty years since the Faux Cowboy rode into town and sent them all scurrying for cover. Whatever else one can say about Obama, he doesn’t stand around like Dukakis or Kerry getting punch drunk, watching his prospects go down the drain as scumbags relentlessly punk him with the crassest of tactics. Obama may yet lose this election, but it’s highly unlikely that he’ll do so while being a hapless observer of his own demise. For the pathetic creature known as the Democratic Party, that alone is actually a giant leap of progress.

Given that the presidency is within his reach, the question of who he really is now comes into sharper relief. As I see it, there are basically two options to choose from, with a host of permutations and degrees of variation between and around them. President Obama can either be an FDR, or he can be a Bill Clinton. He can either be a bold leader who leverages crisis and a sweeping electoral mandate into transformational policy and historical leadership, or he can be a caretaker who cravenly seeks to make no mistakes and therefore realizes no accomplishments. He can be a progressive who comes to the rescue of a country badly in need, or he can be Republican-Lite, putting corporate interests ahead of the nation’s.

Many people are wondering which model we’ll get with Obama. Some don’t really care, as long as he is simply President Not Bush. Others have simply gone ahead and made the leap, assured that he is the Second Coming. As he once said, himself, for some reason people seem to project all their hopes and aspirations on this man.

But which is he? My guess, sadly, is that his instincts are more Clinton than FDR, at least when it comes to the cautious inaction aspect. That I can (barely) bear; the corporate shilling I cannot.

It’s very much worth remembering, however, that both FDR and Clinton were presidents of their time. Without serious crises, FDR would likely have been Clintonesque. Meanwhile, with them, Clinton could have arguably risen into the pantheon of great presidents. Indeed, he supposedly once lamented that he got through eight years without such a crisis on his watch, a comment which for me always summed up the priorities of Clintonism better than any other single notion. Quick pop-quiz question: What kind of person is so incredibly self-absorbed that they would wish a deadly national crisis on their own country because of the positive effect it might have on their personal legacy? Answer: A Clinton.

Right now, Obama looks to inherit a situation rather in-between the 1930s and the 1990s, which, ironically, is in many ways probably more unfortunate than if things were palpably much worse. On so many fronts, now and into the foreseeable future, America is a slow-motion train wreck. That means it’s coming apart fast enough to do truly catastrophic fiscal, environmental, economic, moral, political and international damage over a decade or two, but not fast enough to overwhelm the public’s fear of change and thus generate support for bold action. This could well be the worst of all worlds.

Nor, unfortunately, is Obama likely to be compelled to do the right thing on most any of these fronts. Indeed, he will not only run into resistance from a public that claims to want change but probably really only wants the kind that makes their pockets jingle a little more, but he will also certainly inherit a Congress run by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid that is deeply devoted to doing nothing other than serving corporate interests. We progressives can try to pressure him, but if history is any guide, we tend not to have much relative influence. Moreover, almost anything that follows George W. Bush is going to be such a dramatic improvement, and so deeply welcomed, that – especially someone like Obama – will benefit from deep reservoirs of public patience and good will. Finally, the regressive movement which so successfully hobbled Clinton is likely to be in a complete crisis melt-down mode after the American public has had a little Come-to-Jesus conversation with them on November 4th. I don’t expect them to be very adept at pressuring Obama at least during the early part of his administration, and I doubt he would allow them to anyhow.

The long and the short of this is that the contextual conditions don’t bode well for Obama to run a truly transformational presidency, nor does much of anything in his past suggest that that is his ambition. By my count, that leaves only one remaining potential major motivating factor, which is the question of legacy, the factor that seemed to motivate Lyndon Johnson, for instance, to go to the wall for civil rights. But Obama is a walking legacy. Thirty seconds after he is sworn in next January he will already have fulfilled what could conceivably become the bulk of his historical significance. And it’s no small thing, either. American politics have been the provenance of elites for so long now, just having a black man living in that White House is alone pretty huge.

But it is not enough. If Obama defaults to being a Clintonesque caretaker, he’ll get away with it for a while, but not forever. Forget about history. In the here-and-now there is mounting impatience with the state of this country, particularly on the economic front. Unfortunately, this is the major area where Obama has offered his least compelling vision, and where he would face probably the greatest of resistance. I’m not convinced, for example, that it would necessarily be politically more difficult to withdraw from Iraq than to raise taxes on the wealthy.

Recent events in the Obama campaign may have been disheartening to progressives, perhaps signaling his centrist tendencies, perhaps suggesting that the extent of the real change he is offering is simply to not be Bush, perhaps inferring – worst of all – that it will be Wall Street which will have his ear. The most recent and prominent example of this sort of stuff was Obama’s choice to opt out of his prior repeated promise to accept public financing of his campaign and the limitations that go with it. That is, in some respects, disheartening. And perhaps will be much more so if it convinces him that he can lie with impunity.

And there have been other signs as well. His choice of Jim Johnson as his lead advisor in vetting vice presidential nominees was about as Washington old school establishment as you can get, and that was even before it blew up in his face because of Johnson’s skanky personal finances. Much more ominous have been the presumptive nominee’s selection of Wall Street-leaning Jason Furman as the campaign’s chief economic advisor, and his denunciation of the Supreme Court’s decision this week to prohibit the application of the death penalty for raping a child.

As horrifyingly noxious as that latter crime certainly is, few Americans are better positioned than Obama, the African American constitutional law scholar, to understand just how twisted is the use of the death penalty in any case. His criticism of the Court’s majority suggests the worst sort of pandering to a bloodthirsty public, not unlike Governor Bill Clinton’s nauseating decision to personally preside over the execution of mentally retarded Ricky Ray Rector in order to attract centrist voters in 1992.

But the Furman choice may be the worst indicator yet of this guy’s intentions. Furman is closely associated with Robert Rubin, who is closely associated with conservative economic principles within the Democratic Party, those favoring Wall Street over Main Street. What makes that act especially disheartening is that it was essentially a free choice for Obama. He’s not going to win or lose a lot of votes from a voting public amongst whom almost none could distinguish Furman from, say, Joseph Stiglitz, as an alternative. Using the death penalty to pander for votes is truly sickening, but at least if we know it is pandering we can excuse (I don’t) it as perhaps necessary to be able to achieve a greater good in the America of the 21st century. On the other hand, choosing a corporate-leaning economic advisor when almost no one is looking at what you’re doing may well signal the candidate’s true politics.

To an extent, this can all be excused – possibly – as pre-election necessity. It’s crucial to win this year. It’s crucial for Obama not to allow himself to be swiftboated. It’s clear that he well understands these principles. Frankly, I don’t want him to advertise any unpopular, left-of-center politics he might have during the campaign, whether or not he would pursue those policies in office. They won’t help him now, and they’ll very likely hurt him. It does none of us any good for John McCain to become America’s 44th president of the United States, and after watching the pathetic performances of Dukakis, Gore and Kerry in (not) fighting for the presidency, I for one am not going to hold Obama’s feet to the political purity bonfire of ideological self-immolation.

On the other hand, there are limits to what is tolerable, even in an election as crucial as this one. While I don’t expect the guy to be a socialist, I’m going to be powerfully disappointed if he repeats Clinton’s economic policies, notwithstanding that they’re marginally better than McCain’s or Bush’s. And I have to admit that I find the death penalty comments revolting, especially when he could have just chosen to be silent on the issue.

What makes all of this even more troubling is that Obama is already killing McCain in the polls, and therefore doesn’t appear to need to use the most egregious of these tactics. To be sure, he should be highly cautious about believing the election is all sewn up. And he gives every appearance of understanding – as any Democrat long ago should have – that these guys are going to try to smear him mercilessly, and therefore nothing should be taken for granted – eh, Mr. Kerry? That fifteen point lead – even assuming that it is accurate – could potentially disappear rapidly – eh, Mr. Dukakis? Still, is it really necessary to favor the expansion of the use of the death penalty in America?

What Obama appears to be doing is following the standard American presidential script, which is to run to your left (if you’re a Democrat) during the primaries, and then to the center after securing the nomination. Obama never got very far to the left of the public at any point, but you can see him repositioning now. Perhaps after the election we’ll see yet a third version, and perhaps that will be more progressive than not. Perhaps.

I don’t think anyone knows, which is why so many of us are watching this guy so closely. It’s easy enough to be disappointed, especially for progressives, but mostly if you’re so unrealistic that you’d rather be one hundred percent politically pure than have a chance to govern. Some issues are worth that extremely high price. Many are not. What I can say for myself is just this: I’m looking for someone with sufficient courage and vision to be able to govern at the left edge of what is realistically possible. While I’d certainly prefer more than that in a perfect world, in the real one I’m stuck in, I’ll generally take that over nothing at all. And I’ll certainly take that over the rampant destruction of all things precious that will continue if the GOP is allowed to govern another four years. Let’s face it. If we’re honest we’ll admit that the only difference between voting for Ralph Nader versus demanding that Obama take electorally impossible stands is that the latter is an even surer path to political suicide.

Everyone has to make their own choices, of course. But, me? I generally recommend against suicide.

When it comes to Obama, we have to wait and see. What I can say is that he used to be closer to that realistically possible progressive edge in prior months than he has been over the last couple weeks. I might be happy if this is the low point for him and it just gets better from here on out. But let’s be honest, he’s had better stretches than this last one.

And it matters, too. To choose but one example, in the last week top NASA scientist James Hansen told Congress regarding global warming that “We’re toast if we don’t get on a very different path. This is the last chance.” He predicted mass extinction, ecosystem collapse, and dramatic sea level rises if we don’t take steps to save the planet, and fast.

The same is true across so many domains of American and global society, even if the crises aren’t quite that stunningly acute. We are in very deep trouble, in so many ways.

For sure, it will be wonderful to remove from the body politic the cancer currently occupying the White House.

But it will not be enough.

David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York. He is delighted to receive readers’ reactions to his articles ( ), but regrets that time constraints do not always allow him to respond. More of his work can be found at his website,

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