Countdown: Obama’s Speech in Berlin + Obama + Campaign Gaffes

Dandelion Salad

July 24, 2008


Obama’s Speech in Berlin

Keith reports on Obama’s speech in Berlin and talks to Richard Wolffe about how it was received.

Brian Williams Interviews Obama

Keith airs a portion of the Brian Williams interview with Barack Obama in Germany.


Tonight’s: Obama-Gate, Nexus of Politics and Terror-Gate and FEMA-Gate.

Double Talk Express Campaign Gaffes

Keith reports on the litany of gaffes that John McCain has made, including a newly discovered one from the Katie Couric interview from Cenk Uygur from the Young Turks. Eugene Robinson weighs in.

Worst Person

And the winner is…Duncan Hunter. Runners up Ben Stein and Bill O’Reilly.


Barack Obama’s Speech in Berlin

Decoding Obama on Iraq by Anthony Arnove


Will the U.S. get its way with Iran? by Lee Sustar

Dandelion Salad

by Lee Sustar
July 23, 2008

Lee Sustar looks at the good cop-bad cop strategy that the U.S. and Europe are using to force Iran to abandon its uranium enrichment program.

THE U.S. is dangling carrots in front of Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment program–but only after smacking the Iranians with some increasingly big sticks in the form of sanctions.

After an inconclusive meeting over Iran’s nuclear program involving high-level U.S and Iranian negotiators, the U.S. is pressing ahead with plans to squeeze Iran economically by making it increasingly difficult for Iranian banks and other companies to function in the West.

“The U.S. is fine-tuning new financial penalties against Iran that would target everything from gasoline imports to the insurance sector, and the prospect of such sanctions grew after talks over its nuclear-fuel program [July 19-20] made no progress,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

“U.S. and European officials said they will intensify efforts to impose these penalties should their diplomatic drive fail to induce Iran to freeze its nuclear program. The sanctions effort could include measures to impede Iran’s shipping operations in the Persian Gulf and its banking activities in Asia and the Middle East, the officials said.”

Iran currently endures UN sanctions for its efforts to enrich uranium, which can be used both for nuclear power and to build nuclear weapons. While the program isn’t a violation of international law, the sanctions were imposed because Iran failed to provide the necessary notifications about its program, which Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insists is for peaceful purposes.

After rattling sabers repeatedly–implying the possibility of military action by the U.S. or its proxy, Israel–Washington has toned down the bellicose rhetoric. But it is turning up the pressure of sanctions, and this is already having a serious impact. In late June, the European Union froze the assets of Iran’s Bank Melli, added to a list of Iranian organizations with assets liable to being frozen, and barred 20 top Iranian nuclear officials from entering EU countries.

Next came the bombshell announcement by the French oil giant Total, which said it was pulling out of plans to invest in Iran’s South Pars oilfield. In recent years, Total and other European companies had cashed in as U.S. sanctions on Iran sidelined their American rivals. But on July 10, Total boss Christophe De Margerie, “Today, we would be taking too much political risk to invest in Iran, because people will say, ‘Total will do anything for money.'”

Sanctions could soon become tougher if Congress passes legislation that would bar from the U.S. any company that invests more than $20 million in Iran’s energy industries. That would knock out many of the smaller contractors that provide crucial technology and skills to Iran’s oil sector.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

THE SANCTIONS come at a time of increasing economic problems in Iran. Despite record-high oil prices that have boosted economic growth, unemployment remains high. Despite government statistics showing a drop in joblessness to 9.6 percent from 11 percent a year ago, many economists estimate a real unemployment rate of about 20 percent.

Inflation is perhaps the most pressing economic issue. Government officials put the figure at 21 percent, but the actual rate may be closer to 40 percent. Even government statistics show price rises that are severe, especially in food and housing. According to the Central Bank of Iran, the annual inflation rate for food products hit 45 percent in early July. For rice, the inflation rate was 238 percent.

A state agency admits that in the southern province of Bushehr, food prices have increased between 70 percent and 100 per cent in just two months. And government inflation figures are understated, because they don’t include the price of housing. In Tehran, house prices reportedly have increased up to 250 percent in recent years.

Iran’s economic problems come despite the populist promises of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who won election in 2005 in large part on pledges to improve the lot of Iran’s poor and working class majority. But his economic policies have failed to deliver much, even as a surge of revenue from high oil prices exacerbates social inequality.

The economic problems, as well as dissatisfaction over Ahmadinejad’s hard-line foreign policy, have given his domestic political rivals new room to maneuver. The new speaker of the Iranian majlis, or parliament, Ali Larijani, recently launched a major attack on Ahamdinejad for his populist policies.

“The monopolization of economic activities and opportunities by the government…will create an inflationary economy which, in my opinion, is the worst form of injustice,” Larijani said in June. “Unlike those who, in the early days of the Islamic Revolution, believed that the nationalization of the economy is more Islamic, experience has proven that nationalization leads to an ailing economy and promotes injustice.”

The speech seems to signal a turn back to the pro-privatization, free market-oriented policies of reformers under the former president, Ayatollah Mohammad Khatami, who aggressively, and successfully, courted foreign investment, mainly from Western Europe.

But Larijani’s speech is especially noteworthy because he was Iran’s top nuclear negotiator until he was ousted by Ahmadinejad for being too conciliatory towards the West. He was rescued from the political dustbin by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who used his clout to install Larijani as speaker following parliamentary elections earlier this year.

Ironically, Khamenei had promoted Ahmadinejad during the 2005 elections in an effort to toughen up Iranian security to respond to pressure from the U.S. But in the parliamentary elections, Khamenei threw his weight behind Ahamdinejad’s rivals. Now, on the nuclear issue, Khamanei has again undercut Ahmadinejad and his circle, this time by making favorable remarks about the potential for the Geneva negotiations, as has Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

IT WAS these splits in the Iranian ruling class that apparently pressured Ahmadinejad into sending Iran back to the nuclear negotiating table.

Like George W. Bush, Ahmadinejad is increasingly seen as a lame duck, even though he’s eligible to run for reelection next year. As a result, he’s forced to take a more consensus-oriented approach to foreign policy–which means that if a strong section of Iran’s ruling circle want to avoid confrontation with the West, Ahmadinejad is obliged to let it play out.

There’s a similar dynamic at work in Washington, where foreign policy is increasingly set by the permanent U.S. State Department bureaucracy via Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice–along with the pronouncements of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. “The judgments I’ve made over the past two years matched up with the realities on the ground,” Obama said of the U.S.-Iran meeting in Geneva. “That’s where U.S. foreign policy has to go.”

Rice’s approach has converged with that of the European powers–a ratcheting down of military threats against Iran in favor of concessions that require patience to achieve results. The deal was sealed during Bush’s tour of European capitals in June and allowed the U.S. to create a united front of the other four permanent members of the UN Security Council–Russia, China, Britain and France–as well as Germany, in dealing with Iran.

The decision by the Bush administration to send a high-ranking State Department official to join European negotiators in talks with Iran over its uranium enrichment program was, predictably, denounced by hawks like John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Until now, the U.S. had demanded that Iran renounce its nuclear program prior to any high-level talks.

The fact that the July 19-20 talks in Geneva came less than two weeks after Iran test-fired long-range missiles was particularly galling to neoconservatives. Thus, Michael Rubin of the right-wing American Enterprise wrote that “President Bush’s reversal is diplomatic malpractice on a Carter-esque level that is breathing new life into a failing regime.”

Certainly, the right wing is frustrated, having wagered that the occupation of Iraq would be a springboard for regime change in Iran. But while the U.S. is tied down militarily in Iraq, U.S. imperialism has many more weapons at its disposal to go after Iran–and the more patient approach is starting to get results.

Ironically, the right-wing analysis of U.S. failure is mirrored by some on the left, who have concluded that the U.S. policy toward Iran has failed completely. “The overall U.S. strategy of containing Iran has failed in principle,” wrote Hannes Artens on the Foreign Policy in Focus Web site in an article headlined, “Iran Isolation Attempts Backfire.” “And the attempt to impose a sanctions regime on Iran has led to an erosion of U.S. strategic influence in Asia and the Middle East.”

Arten’s evidence for this is the prospect of a gas pipeline from Iran through Pakistan and India, which, he argues, presages a “new geo-strategic axis–Tehran-Islamabad-New Delhi-Beijing” that will “radically reshuffle the power structure in Asia and, with it, the global balance of power.”

But the actual construction of a pipeline is a long way off and could be derailed by India-Pakistan tensions, political instability in Pakistan itself, the threat of more sanctions from the U.S., and much more. Certainly, Iran will pursue any strategic counterweight to the U.S. that it can, but wishes and results are two different things.

In the meantime, the U.S. will use sanctions to lay siege to the Iranian economy, hoping to trigger a power struggle that would open the way to greater intervention later. And lest anyone think that sanctions are a humane alternative to war, consider the deadly effect of the economic embargo on neighboring Iraq during the 1990s.

While the threat of a military strike on Iran by the U.S. or Israel can’t be ruled out, for now, Washington appears to be content to let the damage to Iran’s economy accumulate in order to get what it wants. This is imperialist aggression by other means–and it must be opposed.

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War Party in a Bind: After Nuclear Talks in Geneva, Iran Will Likely Agree


War Party in a Bind: After Nuclear Talks in Geneva, Iran Will Likely Agree

Dandelion Salad

by Muriel Mirak-Weissbach
Global Research, July 23, 2008

The meeting in Geneva on July 19, between representatives of the 5+1 (U.N. Security Council permanent members plus Germany) and Iran, should be heartily welcomed by all those who seek a diplomatic solution to the hoked-up case against the Islamic Republic’s nuclear energy program, and, thus, an end to the threat of a new war in the region. Although, as both sides stressed, no final agreement was struck at the talks, the fact that they took place at all was significant. The presence in Geneva, of Undersecretary of State William Burns, signalled the first time that the U.S. has officially met with the Iranians since the 1979 revolution, if one excludes the multilateral gatherings on Afghanistan and on Iraq. It is highly likely that the Geneva talks will lead to agreement between the West and Iran.

Yet, the spin in the establishment press on the event, has been most unhelpful, often bordering on sabotage. One line had it that, since the Iranians did not immediately bow down and lisp, “Yes, sir,” to the call for a freeze on its uranium enrichment activities, they were rejecting the 5+1’s bargaining position tout court. Others claimed Tehran were only stalling, in hopes of averting any military aggression until the U.S. elections in November. Still others seized on reports of Iranian military maneuvers, conducted prior to the talks, as “proof” of Tehran’s commitment to develop nuclear weapons to destroy Israel. Regional military maneuvres by Iran, which came on the heels of Israeli exercises simulating attacks on the Islamic Republic, featured the firing of 9 middle-range missiles. In response, Secretary of State Condi Rice issued usual complaints, and both presumptive Presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama reiterated that Iran is “a threat.”

Nonetheless, the talks in Geneva did take place, and should be taken as grounds for optimism — cautious, to be sure — but optimism. There are several reasons for this. First, the decision to accept negotiations on the basis of the 5+1 proposal delivered in Iran by Javier Solana on June 14, was taken at the highest level of policy-making in Tehran, i.e. by Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of the Revolution. All the leading Iranian spokesmen who signalled assent to the proposal, are answerable to Khamenei. These include Saeed Jalili, head of the Supreme National Security Council, and, in that capacity, chief negotiator on nuclear questions; Gholam-Reza Aghezadeh, head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Agency, who on June 30 told a parliamentary committee the decision for talks had been made; Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki; and, foreign policy advisor to Khamenei, Ali Akhbar Velayati.

As if to eliminate any doubts on the matter, Khamenei himself explicitly endorsed the talks. As reported on his official website, on July 16, the Supreme Leader stated: “The negotiations will proceed successfully only when the atmosphere of the negotiaitons is not dominated by threats. Europeans have to pay attention to the point that it is the Iranian nation that they are negotiating with. The Iranian nation is a valiant nation that does not like threats, and is not going to give in to any threats.” Khamenei also expressed his full confidence in the bodies dealing with the issue, the Supreme National Security Council which “is in charge of the nuclear issue and is presided over by the esteemed president. Whatever the president and the officials in charge of the nuclear issue say is also approved by all the government officials. And the heads of the three government branches and my representatives are pursuing this issue in the Supreme National Security Council with wisdom and commitment.” The top official said “the red lines of the Iranian nation are absolutely clear,” and will not be crossed. This was a reference to demands that Iran suspend its enrichment program completely, in essence, giving it up entirely.

A second reason for optimism, is that, on the other side, a “new atmosphere” had been created, which helped leading Iranian figures to overcome their skepticism. In remarks to CNN on July 7, Mottaki noted the new atmosphere, saying, “We believe that the nature of our exchanges, both in format and in substance, were different than of previous times.” He went on, “So I believe that we are now in a new environment with a new approaching perspective…” Mottaki also referred to the upcoming elections in the U.S., as a possible moment of transition. “We hear new voices in America,” he said, “We see new approaches, and we think that the rational thinkers in America can, based on these new approaches, see the reality as it is.”

Mottaki was upbeat about the new atmosphere, also because Solana had acknowledged the importance of Iran on the world stage. On June 15, Tehran Times quoted the Eu foreign policy czar as saying the 5+1 “fully recognize Iran’s right to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes,” adding, “We want to have a fully normalized relationship in all fields, in particular the nuclear field.” He said Iran was “a very important and civilized country which plays a very important role in the international arena.”

The meeting in Geneva lasted several hours on July 19. As noted, no concrete breakthrough agreement occurred. According to reports, the 5+1 group formally presented the “freeze-for-freeze” proposal that Solana had offered earlier in oral form to the Iranians, and the Iranians declined to give an immediate, formal answer. Thus the skepticism and the press spin. Iran reportedly delivered a two-page “non-paper” to the 5+1, whose contents have not been made public. The New York Times on July 22 leaked parts of the non-paper, according to which Tehran requested three further meetings with Solana and four meetings at the foriegn ministers’ level, beginning after a halt in sanctions against Iran.

In Geneva, the 5+1 gave Iran two weeks’ time to formulate a final response to their offer. This was followed by a public statement by Secretary of State Condi Rice, who complained that Iran was “meandering” and engaging in “small talk,” and added that either Iran must accept, “or face growing isolation and the collective response of not just one nation but of all nations around the world.” Furthermore, new military manuevres were announced. The U.S., France, Britain and Brazil were to start 10-day exercises off the coast from Virginia to Florida, “aimed at training for operation in shallow coastal waters such as the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz,” according to PressTV (

All that notwithstanding, the fact is, a high-level U.S. diplomat, William Burns, took part in the talks. This was a crucial victory for the Iranians, who have been demanding direct contact without preconditions. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was most unusually explicit in his praise for the U.S. gesture. Speaking on July 23 to a gathering in Yasouj city in southwestern Iran, he stated: “The U.S. administration announced it was going to participate in nuclear talks. We welcomed that. The U.S. representative spoke in a gentlemanly tone in the meeting. It was positive.” According to an AP wire on July 23, Ahmadinejad said Burns’s presence “was a step towards recognizing the rights of the Iranian nation, towards justice, towards repairing your image in the world, towards cleaning 50 years of crimes you committed against the Iranian nation.” Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki had also characterized the announcement that Burns would participate, as “a positive development.”

In the view of Iranian sources, the presence of Burns signalled a victory (at least temporary) of the anti-war forces in Washington, over the Cheney-led war party. Reports from Washington have it that Condi Rice dispatched Burns, over the objections of the vice president. Rice’s move was a political gesture which was generated, however, by a concerted action on the part of the top brass in the U.S. military establishment. Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff Mullen had been to Israel where he was presumably briefed on the Israeli hawks’ blueprint for military attacks against Iran. Wihout revealing the details of his discussions, Muller made clear that he would not rubber stamp any such insane designs. After his talks, he said that opening a third front in the region was out of the question.

Why Did Iran Go To Geneva?

The block to direct talks had been the insistence, on the part of the 5+1, that Iran {suspend} its uranium enrichment as a precondition, which Tehran had consistently refused. Now, although the {written} letter of the 5+1 countries’ foreign ministers, accompanying their proposal, still explicitly said, “Formal negotiations can start as soon as Iran’s enrichment-related and reprocessing activities are suspended,” Solana did make an {oral} offer to start talks, once Iran had agreed to a “freeze” on its enrichment activities, at least for the duration of the negotiations (See Trita Parsi, “Reading Solana in Tehran,” and ). This idea of a freeze, meaning Iran would continue to enrich but at current levels, had been discussed informally in the Iranian press, and in most concrete terms by two prominent Iranians at a conference in Berlin at the end of June (See my article, “Iranians Float An Offer the West Should Not Refuse,” June 19). The virtue of the freeze approach lies in the fact that it allows both sides to save face: Iran does not submit to demands to suspend (i.e. halt, even temporarily) its enrichment, but the other side can argue that Iran is not expanding its program.

Much has been written about Tehran’s motives for accepting the talks. Some claim Iran was reacting to threats of military aggression by the U.S. and/or Israel. But this hypothesis, as Trita Parsi has elaborated, does not hold water; were Iran to respond this way to threats, it would have done so much earlier, when the threats were even more direct. More credible is the argument, that Iran found the moment propitious, because the other side appeared to accept, at least in part, its terms. First and foremost is the idea of the freeze, rather than suspension. Secondly, the 5+1, at least in the person of Solana, displayed a new quality of respect regarding Iran. This factor, which many dismiss as irrelevant, is of utmost concern to the Iranians, as should be obvious in Khamenei’s remarks cited above.

Find Points of Agreement

In the run-up to the talks, Iranian Foreign Minister Mottaki said they should begin on the basis of the “common points” in the proposals made by the two sides: the 5+1 proposal presented on June 14 by Solana, and Iran’s earlier “Package for Constructive Negotiations,” sent out on May 13. In other words, instead of rejecting the proposal because it contained demands unacceptable to Iran, the Iranian leadership decided to pursue a different method, putting unacceptable demands on the back burner for the moment, and focussing on what the two had in common.

The common points are many. Although they have not been given the in-depth analysis they deserve in the international press, at least Russia has taken note. Nicholas Patrochev, the new Secretary of the Russian Security Council, in a phone discussions with his Iranian counterpart Jalili on July 7, said Russia supported the concept that talks should be resumed on the basis of the common points.

Mottaki had stated in his letter accompanying Iran’s May 13 proposal, that Iran was “ready to negotiate with the 5+1 Group within a specific framework on issues of mutual interest.” The proposal itself stressed that “The main outcome of this new round of negotiations would be agreement on ‘collective commitments’ to cooperate on economic, political, regional, international, nuclear and energy security issues.” All these areas are covered by the 5+1 proposal.

In its detailed points, the Iranian proposal stressed the need to pursue “a just peace and democracy in the region” in the context of “Respect for the rights of nations and their national interests; Support for the national sovereignty of states based on democratic methods.” Iran also expressed its readiness to cooperate on bolstering stability in various parts of the world, including the Middle East, where it would contribute to a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The 5+1 proposal seems to take this into consideration, when it says it would “Support Iran in playing an important and constructive role in international affairs.” The 5+1 Group also gives a nod to respect for national sovereignty, by stating, “Reaffirmation of the obligation under the U.N. charter to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity of [sic] political independence of any state or in any other manner inconsistent with the Charter of the United Nations.” This seems to mark a bit of an improvement over the 2006 document by the same group, which reportedly “guaranteed” Iran that no power in Europe would attack it with nuclear weapons (that is, France or Britain), but made no mention of the U.S. or Israel; nor did it guarantee that conventional attacks would be excluded.

This clause leads to another of Iran’s major concerns, i.e. establishing regional security. The entire thrust of Tehran’s document, is that national sovereignty, territorial integrity, and independence must be guaranteed, which means, threats of military aggression or regime change must be trashed from the agenda. The 5+1 document lists “Support for a conference on regional security issues” under its political measures. This is interesting. Iran has been organizing for a regional security arrangement, in talks with its neighbors, for the past eight years at least, and has made some headway with Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq and Turkey. Iran’s view is that regional security can only be guaranteed through cooperation among its constituent nations, emphatically without the presence of foreign troops, no matter from where.

This obviously flies in the face of U.S.-U.K. plans to maintain their military presence in the region. The ongoing tug-of-war between the Nouri al-Maliki government in Iraq and the U.S., regarding a Status of Forces Agreement, provides a good reflection of Iranian views on the matter. All Iran-allied forces in Iraq reject the U.S. proposal for long-term presence. Not only has al-Maliki demanded a timetable for withdrawal of foreign troops, but his Iraqi National Security Advisor Muwafaq al-Rubaie has also said occupation must end. As quoted by Xinhua on July 9, al-Rubaie stated, “We will not sign any memorandum of understanding without specifying a date for the withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq.” Significantly, he made the statements from the holy city of Najaf, just after he had concluded consultations with the supreme authority for Shi’ites, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. Al-Sistani has reiterated that any agreement on military forces with the occupying powers must be subjected to a referendum. Since then, the U.S. has been forced to pay lip service to agreement on reduction, if not withdrawal, of forces. On July 18, after Bush and al-Maliki had conferred on the matter, the White House made an announcement in language straddling a fine line between Orwellian Newspeak and Bushspeak, to the effect that somehow some agreement had been made. “The president and the prime minister agreed,” it said, “that improving conditions should allow for the agreements now under negotiation to include a general time horizon for meeting aspirational goals — such as the resumption of Iraqi security control in their cities and provinces and the further reduction of U.S. combat forces from Iraq.”(1)

Iran’s document also calls for discussions on cooperation on trade and investment, something that is echoed in the 5+1 paper, which calls for “normalization of trade and economic relations.” The central issue, of course, is the nuclear program. Here, there are also several areas of tangential convergence, though not agreement. Iran speaks of “Establishing enrichment and nuclear fuel production consortiums in different parts of the world — including Iran” and of “Cooperation to access and utilize peaceful nuclear technology and facilitating its usage by all states.” The 5+1 document does not grant Iran the right to such a consortium on its territory, but speaks of “Provision of legally binding nuclear fuel supply guarantees” as well as “Cooperation with regard to management of spent fuel and radioactive waste.” Sorting out the differences is the task of negotiations.

What is useful in the 5+1 paper is the “Support for construction of LWR (Light water reactor) based on state-of-the-art technology” as well as “Provision of technological and financial assistance necessary for Iran’s peaceful use of nuclear energy, support for the reusmption of technical cooperation projects in Iran by the IAEA.” Also useful, and in agreement with Iran’s approach, is the reference to “realizing the objective of a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction,” which would have implications for Israel, the one nuclear power in the region.

If one were to proceed rationally in open-ended talks, several options might be available. To accomodate Iran’s requirements for guaranteed nuclear fuel supplies, preferably through the establishment of international consortia for enrichment facilities in Iran and elsewhere, the proposals by Thomas Pickering, the MIT group, the International Crisis Group, and others could be relevant. For Iran to agree to suspend its enrichment program, a proposition which is seen by most Iranians as highly unlikely, the other side would have to go a very, very long way. It would have to provide air-tight guarantees not only for secure fuel supplies, but also for the security of Iran, the inviolability of its borders, respect for its independence and unlimited sovereignty. Such guarantees cannot be made on paper, but would have to be forged through political agreements amounting to endorsement of a regional security arrangement hammered out by the powers in the region, without outside interference. This may seem unthinkable at the moment, but, if the trend towards sovereignty underway in Iraq is allowed to continue, and if certain Arab nations in the Persian Gulf were to free themselves of their paranoia regarding Iran, the currently unthinkable might become an agenda item tomorrow.

Obviously, the success of talks with Iran depends on the position of the U.S. government. If Washington, under new leadership, were to agree to normalizing relations with Iran, anything would be possible.

War Party in a Bind

The war party in London and Washington has not given up its plans for destabilizing or attacking Iran, before the Bush-Cheney mandate ends. More killings inside Iran were reported in late June-early July, substantiating Seymour Hersh’s revelations of an active operation afoot by U.S. intelligence groups, to promote ethnic minorities in assassination operations against Iranian officials. At the same time, the anti-Iranian terrorist gang MKO had been reactivated, with a mass demonstration called near Paris weeks ago. The umbrella group of the MKO, run by Maryam Rajavi, called for all European governments to follow the lead of the British House of Lords, who voted to take the MKO off the list of terrorist organizations. The al-Maliki government in Iraq has promised it would expel the MKO, as requested by Iran, but the occupying powers have held up implementation thus far. Not only: in the first week of July, the MKO held a conference of anti-Iran groups, at its Iraqi headquarters in Camp Ashraf.

In addition to covert ops, there has been a good deal of traditional sabre-rattling, as reported extensively by this website, among others. Not only did Israel hold massive maneuvres last month, characterized as preparations for a strike again Iran, but the U.S. and U.K. also held exercises in the Persian Gulf. Iran’s much-publicized defensive maneuvres, including the test firing of medium-range missiles, constituted a logical response, one which could have been expected by anyone who knows how the Iranians think.

Most intriguing, and politically decisive, in this picture, is the question, what does Moscow, under President Medvedev, think of this entire complex? There have been a couple of interesting signals in this respect. First, following the disgusting fiasco of the G-8 meeting in Japan, Secretary of State Condi Rice sped off to Prague to sign an agreement with the Czechs on deployment of the radars meant supposedly to track Iranian missiles. The Russian response had a new quality. A Foreign Ministry statement issued on July 9, said, “We will be forced to react not with diplomatic, but with military-technical methods.” At the same time, there were discussions between Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Putin called Ahmadinejad on July 7to express his “hope that negotiations about nuclear issue will continue and will yield clear results which would guarantee the full rights of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” PressTV reported the next day. ITAR-TASS added that the two had discussed “bilateral cooperation in the field of transport and military-technical cooperation.” The nuclear plant which Russia has completed at Bushehr, it has been confirmed, will start operating this year. And, on July 15, RIA Novosti reported that Gazprom and the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) signed a memorandum of cooperation in oil and gas production and transportation. The deal foresees development of oil and gas fields, building processing facilities, and transporting oil from the Caspian to the Gulf of Oman. Finally, on July 23, Reuters reported that Iran was to receive “an advanced Russian-made anti-aircraft system by year-end that could help fend off any preemptive strikes against its nuclear facilities,” according to “senior Israeli defence sources.

Russia is actively opposing the war party’s moves to target Iran as well as the Russian Federation itself. At the same time, Moscow is urging Iran to come to an agreement with the 5+1, and is offering substantial economic and political support in the process. Unless something horrendous occurs in the meantime, it can be expected that Iran will announce agreement with the freeze-for-freeze proposal made in Geneva, within the two-week timeframe established. Prof. Hadian-Jazy, a political scientist from the University of Tehran, who publicly detailed Iran’s terms for such a freeze option at a Berlin conference recently, told this author on July 23, that he also thought Tehran would announce agreement after two weeks.

Those who complain that the Iranians could have said as much in Geneva, without all the fancy footwork, demonstrate their utter lack of understanding of how people in the Islamic Republic think. It has taken almost 30 years for certain forces in the West (eg. current officials in the Bush-Cheney administration) to come to terms with the new reality in the region. Iran’s current leaders have not been making outrageous demands. They have insisted only that they be treated as equals in any negotiating process, that they be respected for their civilization stretching back millenia, that their sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence be acknowledged in fact as well as words. Now that this reality seems to have penetrated some of the less hardened blockheads in Washington, the Iranians may be ready to do business. All to the benefit of world peace.

1. The White House statement is eloquent in its ambiguity: “improving conditions {should} allow for” this and that, but may in fact not; a “general time horizon” is somewhere between now and eternity; “aspirational goals” are presumably things the Iraqi government hopes for, but who knows whether they will ever come true; “aspirational goals — such as the resumption of Iraqi security control….”: “such as” means, “for example,” but is not binding; “the further reduction of U.S. combat forces from Iraq” is a far cry from withdrawal of all troops, which is what the Iraqis want. In short, the text commits the U.S. to nothing. The Iraqis will, therefore, not accept this as a solution.

© Copyright Muriel Mirak-Weissbach, Global Research, 2008

The url address of this article is:


Iranians Float an Offer the West Should Not Refuse



Why Bush Impeachment Is Necessary By Ed Ciaccio

Dandelion Salad

By Ed Ciaccio
07/24/08 “ICH”

On Friday, July 25, 2008, the House Judiciary committee will finally hold a hearing about George W. Bush’s excessive abuses and unconstitutional expansion of his executive powers. But Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, a Democrat heeding the proclamation of Speaker Nancy Pelosi that impeachment is “off the table”, has already declared that this hearing will not lead to impeachment. Conyers, Pelosi, and all members of Congress who oppose the impeachment of George W. Bush are betraying the oath they all swore when they took office and should be condemned for this betrayal. Following are the reasons why the impeachment of George W. Bush is necessary. Continue reading

Crystal Ball Gazing: Visualize the Dow at 6,000 By Mike Whitney

Dandelion Salad

By Mike Whitney
07/24/08 “ICH”

Last Wednesday, at an improvised press conference, George Bush gave what may have been the most comical performance of his eight year presidency. Looking like the skipper on the flight-deck of the Hindenburg, Bush tried his best to reassure the public that “all’s well” with the economy and that everyone’s deposits were perfectly safe in the rapidly disintegrating US banking system. Leaning lazily on the presidential podium, Bush shrugged his shoulders and said,

“My hope is that people take a deep breath and realize that their deposits are protected by our government. We’re not seeing the growth we’d like to see, but the financial system is basically sound.”

Right. “Breath deep” and chill out; no need to panic. One shouldn’t let the long lines of anxious depositors who are presently trying to extract what’s left of their life savings from the now-defunct Indymac Bank upset one’s basic equanimity. The banking system is perfectly safe, you heard it from President Trickledown himself.

At the same time Bush was offering his soothing words on all the major TV news networks, Fed chairman Ben Bernanke was on the other side of Washington giving a decidedly grimmer assessment of the economy:

“The contraction in housing activity that began in 2006 and the associated deterioration in mortgage markets that became evident last year have led to sizable losses at financial institutions and a sharp tightening in overall credit conditions. The effects of the housing contraction and of the financial headwinds on spending and economic activity have been compounded by rapid increases in the prices of energy and other commodities, which have sapped household purchasing power even as they have boosted inflation. Against this backdrop, economic activity has advanced at a sluggish pace during the first half of this year, while inflation has remained elevated.”

Keep in mind, that these two events were perfectly coordinated to take place at exactly the same time; 10:20 AM Wednesday. Quite a coincidence, eh? Just another masterful public relations coup engineered by the Bush PR team, the last functioning agency in the entire bureaucracy. To no one’s surprise, the collusive media managed to divert attention from the impending financial firestorm long enough to lull the American people into believing that nothing is really wrong; the economy is just hunky-dory.

Fed-chief Bernanke again:

“The economy continues to face numerous difficulties, including ongoing strains in financial markets, declining house prices, a softening labor market, and rising prices of oil, food, and some other commodities….The deteriorating performance of subprime mortgages in the United States triggered turbulence in domestic and international financial markets as investors became markedly less willing to bear credit risks of any type….Many financial markets and institutions remain under considerable stress, in part because the outlook for the economy, and thus for credit quality, remains uncertain.”

As Bernanke delivered one hammer-blow after another, our engaging Commander in Chief was busy swapping funny stories and rough-housing with his pals in the Washington press corps. The media confab turned out to be a typical Bush frat-party with plenty of back-slapping and hee-haws to go around.

“You had a question, Stretch?” (Ha, ha)

And that was that. Bernanke’s candid and (frankly) scary assessment of the economy was dwarfed by Bush’s diversionary palavering and bravado; another stunning victory for the White House spinmeisters. Even so, the Fed chairman’s testimony should be dug up and examined by anyone who is interested in knowing how bad things really are so they can prepare themselves for the hard times ahead. (Find it here: Bernanke’s Semiannual Monetary Policy Report to Congress;

Bernanke again:

“In the housing sector, activity continues to weaken…Home prices are falling, particularly in regions that experienced the largest price increases earlier this decade. The declines in home prices have contributed to the rising tide of foreclosures; by adding to the stock of vacant homes for sale, these foreclosures have, in turn, intensified the downward pressure on home prices in some areas….The declines in home prices have contributed to the rising tide of foreclosures; by adding to the stock of vacant homes for sale, these foreclosures have, in turn, intensified the downward pressure on home prices in some areas……Surveys of capital spending plans indicate that firms remain concerned about the economic and financial environment, including sharply rising costs of inputs and indications of tightening credit, and they are likely to be cautious with spending in the second half of the year.”

The economic sky is quickly darkening and Bernanke made no effort to hide his concern. His testimony was as close to the truth as one gets in Washington where honesty is usually eradicated like a malignant tumor. In any event, it is worth wading through Bernanke’s speech word by word even if it only reinforces one’s belief that the economy is about to take a sleigh-ride through a deflationary blast-furnace which will ultimately result in the demise of Breton Woods, the disorderly replacement of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency, and an end to the United States short-lived dominance as the world’s lone superpower. The American Century has about run out of steam just eight years into the new mellenium. Bernanke’s presentation confirms what the econo-bloggers have been saying for the past three years; the end is nigh, get your house in order.

Personal consumption is down, the labor market is softening, and food and fuel prices are soaring. Housing values are plummeting, wages have stagnated, and American households are more overextended, underpaid and stressed out than anytime in history. It’s all bad. No wonder consumer confidence is at its nadir.


The next shoe to drop is the stock market. Its not that complicated either; when wholesale prices on supplies and raw materials go up, but businesses can’t pass along those costs because consumers are already maxed-out, then corporate profits plummet and the stock market crashes down with the force of an avalanche.

Journalist Ambrose Evans-Pritchard summed it up like this:

“It feels like the summer of 1931. The world’s two biggest financial institutions have had a heart attack. The global currency system is breaking down. The policy doctrines that got us into this mess are bankrupt. No world leader seems able to discern the problem, let alone forge a solution. The International Monetary Fund has abdicated into schizophrenia….My view is that a dollar crash will be averted as it becomes clearer that contagion has spread worldwide. But we are now at the point of maximum danger.” (Ambrose Evans- Pritchard, “The Global Economy is at the point of maximum danger”, UK Telegraph

“Maximum danger”, indeed. Stock market mayhem is just around the corner. Visualize the Dow at 6,000 and then hang on for dear life. The indexes will tumble and Wall Street will be reduced to Dresden-type rubble, nothing left but toxic fumes and twisted iron. By the end of 2009, the last few bulls will be driven out of the exchanges and onto the streets where they’ll be slaughtered one by one. It won’t be pretty.

According to Bloomberg News: “Investors worldwide are betting more than $1 trillion on a collapse in stock prices”.

But no matter how bad it gets, the media will still bang-out its “Sunny Jim” market-forecasts while reiterating every mangled phrase and muddled thought from our alcohol-addled Dear Leader. The lines from the shelters, pawn shops and soup kitchens may stretch from the Golden Gate to the Statue of Liberty, but the perennially upbeat predictions of a “bottom in housing” or an “economic turnaround” will continue to blast from every media bullhorn in the nation. America’s financial media is an never-ending source of baseless optimism and hogwash.

It’s funny; while Bush was hosting his faux-press conference, live-footage was appearing on other media of fully-armed LA policemen being dispatched to the various Indymac locations. Their task was to remind the gathering of elderly “blue-hair” women and middle-aged white guys in Tommy Bahama T-shirts that any public display of outrage would be swiftly met with Rodney King-style justice. Hmmm. So now withdrawing one’s savings from the bank is not only riskier; it’s tantamount to committing a felony. My, how America has changed.

Just imagine the frustration of spending $5 a gallon for gas to drive to the local Indymac branch to get whatever is left of your savings only to get roughed-up by the local constabulary. Nice touch, eh?

Going to the bank? Don’t forget the protective head-gear!

The truth is the banking system is built on a foundation of pure quicksand and its only a matter of time before the Bush’s truncheon-wielding Robocops start tasering old ladies and gassing portly white guys for massing in front of the boarded up doors of their local bank. Move along, now.

Market Ticker’s Denniger made this insightful observation about about the present condition of the banking system. He said, “Why does Paulson keep telling us that the banking system is sound every time he gets within 200′ of a microphone? Maybe it is because the banking system is on the verge of all-out collapse, and he knows you could blow it over with a feather!” (The Market-Ticker)

It is worth noting that the demise of Indymac is expected to cost the FDIC around $8 billion of its meager $53 billion of reserves. 4 or 5 bank failures of equal size and the FDIC will be underwater, which is a serious problem since even conservative estimates expect bank failures to run into the hundreds. The Fed will be forced to monetize the debt, further weakening the dollar.

But Indymac is small potatoes compared to the liabilities of the two mortgage behemoths, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Years of sketchy accounting, risky investments, abusive lending, and political cronyism have eroded the two Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) balance sheets and pushed them to the brink of insolvency. If they fail, it will be disastrous for the US taxpayer who will be expected to guarantee $5.2 trillion of US residential mortgages, hundreds of billions of which was lent to borrowers who will likely default on their loans in the next few years. As the housing bubble continues to fizzle; Fannie and Freddie will face losses of $500 billion or more, forcing disgruntled foreign investors to ditch their bonds and make for the exits. When that happens, long-term interest rates will skyrocket and the ailing dollar will collapse in a heap. The Bush administration can’t allow that to happen, which means that Henry Paulson will push for emergency funding from the congress (which he is doing now) so he can rebuild investor confidence and stop the hemorrhaging of foreign capital. Whether Fannie and Freddie are saved or not, it is bound to be a drain on the dollar which can only get weaker as deficits soar and confidence wanes. There’s really very little chance the dollar will survive as the “international currency”.

Economist Nouriel Roubini summed it up like this:

“The existence of GSEs…is a major part of the overall U.S. subsidization of housing capital that will eventually lead to the bankruptcy of the U.S. economy. For the last 70 years investment in housing –- the most unproductive form of accumulation of capital -– has been heavily subsidized in 100 different ways in the U.S.: tax benefits, tax-deductibility of interest on mortgages, use of the FHA, massive role of Fannie and Freddie, role of the Federal Home Loan Bank system, and a host of other legislative and regulatory measures.

The reality is that the U.S. has invested too much – especially in the last eight years – in building its stock of wasteful housing capital (whose effect on the productivity of labor is zero) and has not invested enough in the accumulation of productive physical capital (equipment, machinery, etc.) that leads to an increase in the productivity of labor and increases long run economic growth. This financial crisis is a crisis of accumulation of too much debt —by the household sector, the government and the country –- to finance the accumulation of the most useless and unproductive form of capital, housing, that provides only housing services to consumers and has zippo effect on the productivity of labor.” (Seeking Alpha, “Just How Terrible is Housing as an Asset Class? Roubini Weighs In”)

Fannie and Freddie made a big mistake by shifting into mortgage-backed securities (MBS) in the 1990s. From 1997 to 2007, Fannie’s portfolio of dodgy MBS jumped from $18.5 billion to $127.8 billion by the end of 2007. The numbers at Freddie were even higher. Now they’re caught in the same downgrading-spiral as the investment banks, with billions of dollars of assets steadily losing value every month. It’s death by a thousand cuts. The losses have left the two GSEs cash-starved and searching frantically for new sources of capital to build their cushion. Regrettably, foreign sovereign wealth funds feel like they were burned in the Citigroup bailout and are no longer in the market for destitute US investment banks.

Here’s “The Economist” shedding a little more light of Fannie and Freddie’s creative bookkeeping:

“The companies have also been unwilling to accept the pain of market prices in acknowledging delinquent loans. When borrowers fail to keep up payments on mortgages in the pool that supports asset-backed loans, Fannie and Freddie must buy back the loan. But that requires an immediate write-off at a time when the market prices of asset-backed loans are depressed. Instead, the twins sometimes pay the interest into the pool to keep the loans afloat. In Mr Rosner’s view, this merely pushes the losses into the future.” (The Economist, “The End of Illusions”)

Nice, eh? Wouldn’t it be great if guys didn’t have to explain to their wives why they pissed away their paycheck at the race track? Apparently, it’s okay for Fannie and Freddie; just keep paying the interest on bad loans and no one’s the wiser. What a racket. This is the type of sleazy Enron-type accounting that goes unchallenged in Washington where everyone fudges the numbers to hide their losses from their shareholders or taxpayers, as the case may be. That’s why the namby-pamby regulators at the SEC need to be replaced with a few knuckle-dragging Abu Ghraib interrogators. There’s nothing going on at Fannie and Freddie that a set of leg-irons and a few lively dunks on a waterboard wouldn’t fix.

THE ROAD TO PERDITION: Paulson’s Scatterbrain Capitalism

Something has gone terribly wrong with the economy, but no one wants to say what it is. This is more than just a typical downturn in the demand-cycle or a temporary “rough patch”. In fact, it’s not a recession at all; it is a meltdown of the financial system. And it’s obvious. The “deep pocketed” Federal Reserve is currently providing hundreds of billions of dollars through its auction facilities to the most craven speculators on the planet, the investment banks. These very same banks have no ability to pay that money back. Show me their revenues; show me their assets; show me their capital cushion which is calculated mainly in terms of “Level 3 assets” and which allow the banks to assign their own value to the bad paper that’s overflowing from their vaults. Have you ever heard of anything more ridiculous? One blogger called Level 3 assets “mark to fantasy”. He’s right, too. It’s all smoke and mirrors. So why are we letting crooks decide what their assets are worth?

True, a few of the investment banks just reported “better than expected” earnings, but no one on Wall Street is fooled by that baloney. The SEC changed the rules on shorting bank stocks just days before their earnings reports were due; another gift from Uncle Sam to hide the dirty laundry. Also, some of the banks have started extending their “write downs” from 120 days to 160 days, buying themselves a little more time to deceive their shareholders about the size of their losses. It’s all one big swindle following another. The whole business stinks to high heaven and the Bush administration is right there in bed with them, snuggling up close and holding their hands.

If the public grasped the significance of the Bear Stearns fiasco, they’d understand how grave the situation really is. The technical details are irrelevant; don’t bother with them. What IS important is that the Fed acknowledged that the investment speculators had so polluted the financial system with their toxic, unregulated garbage, (Credit default swaps) that if the transaction with JP Morgan flopped, the entire system would have imploded. Think about that. In other words, the legitimate, “Real Economy” is now inextricably lashed to a massive $500 trillion dollar unregulated shadow banking system that operates without rules, supervision or sufficient capital. Over the counter derivatives trading is a cancer that has spread to every part of the system and is devouring it from the inside. It’s only a matter of time before the patient succumbs. That’s what the Bear bailout really means; the rest is bunkum.

The banking system is broke, busted, penniless; and yet the Fed and the G-7 allow this comedy to persist like nothing is wrong. When will the American people wake up?

And, will someone please explain how free markets can exist when speculators are subsidized by the state, or when the risk is removed from risky investing? That’s what it means when the Fed opens its auction facilities to the investment banks and brokerage houses. It makes no sense at all. Government “safety nets” are anathema to free market capitalism. “You pays yer money and you takes yer chances”. That’s finance capitalism; deal with it.

What we are seeing is a hybridized version of capitalism; “Paulson’s Scatterbrain Capitalism”; a hodge-podge of taxpayer bailouts, government intervention and free market mumbo jumbo. It’s a toxic mix on off-balance sheets operations, over-the-counter “unregulated” derivatives, dark pool trading, opaque hedge funds, dodgy Enron-style accounting, and complex, hard-to-pronounce debt-instruments wrapped up into one, cheesy, unsustainable shell game, managed by Harvard-educated flim flam men and backed by a 100% government guarantee. That’s the system we’re supporting with our tax dollars and that’s the system that is dragging us headlong to ruin.

It ain’t capitalism, my friend. It’s a crooked system run by corporate carpetbaggers and banking scalawags who shot the Golden Goose in hopes of keeping the larder at the cottage on the New Jersey coast chock-full of Dom Perignon and halibut fillets. They created this nightmare and they’ve doomed us all.

As long as we prop up the existing system, the economy will flounder, unemployment will rise, foreclosures will soar, banks will be shuddered, and the wobbly old greenback will continue its inexorable march towards Pesoville. It’s time to clean house and we can start by firing Paulson.

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The Economy Sucks and or Collapse 2

Federal Reserve on Dandelion Salad

Capitalism on Dandelion Salad

The Greatest Threat America Has Ever Faced: the GOP? By Paul Craig Roberts

Dandelion Salad

By Paul Craig Roberts
07/24/08 “ICH”

The Mother of All Messes

Republicans are sending around the Internet a photo of a cute little boy whose T-shirt reads: “The mess in my pants is nothing compared to the mess Democrats will make of this country if they win Nov. 2nd.” pic

One can only wonder at the insouciance of this message. Are Republicans unaware of the amazing mess the Bush regime has made?

It is impossible to imagine a bigger mess. Republicans have us at war in two countries as a result of Republican lies and deceptions, and we might be in two more wars–Iran and Pakistan–by November. We have alienated the entire Muslim world and most of the rest.

The dollar has lost 60% of its value against the euro, and the once mighty dollar is losing its reserve currency role.

The Republicans’ policies have driven up the price of both oil and gold by 400%.

Inflation is in double digits. Employment is falling.

The Republican economy in the 21st century has been unable to create net new jobs for Americans except for low wage domestic services such as waitresses, bartenders, retail clerks and hospital orderlies.

Republican deregulation brought about fraud in mortgage lending and dangerous financial instruments which have collapsed the housing market, leaving a million or more homeowners facing foreclosure. The financial system is in disarray and might collapse from insolvency.

The trade and budget deficits have exploded. The US trade deficit is larger than the combined trade deficits of every deficit country in the world.

The US can no longer finance its wars or its own government and relies on foreign loans to function day to day. To pay for its consumption, the US sells its existing assets–companies, real estate, toll roads, whatever it can offer–to foreigners.

Republicans have run roughshod over the US Constitution, Congress, the courts and civil liberties. Republicans have made it perfectly clear that they believe that our civil liberties make us unsafe–precisely the opposite view of our Founding Fathers. Yet, Republicans regard themselves as the Patriotic Party.

The Republicans have violated the Nuremberg prohibitions against war crimes, and they have violated the Geneva Conventions against torture and abuse of prisoners. Republican disregard for human rights ranks with that of history’s great tyrants.

The Republicans have put in place the foundation for a police state.

I am confident that the Democrats, too, will make a mess. But can they beat this record?

We must get the Republicans totally out of power, or we will have no country left for the Democrats to mess up.

I say this as a person who has done as much for the Republican Party as anyone. I helped to devise and to get implemented an economic policy that cured stagflation and that brought Republicans back into political competition after Watergate. If I could have looked into a crystal ball and seen that under a free trade banner, Republicans would enable corporate executives to pay themselves millions of dollars in “performance pay” for deserting their American work forces and hiring foreigners in their place, thus destroying the aspirations and careers of millions of Americans, I never would have helped the Republicans. If a crystal ball had revealed that a neoconned Republican Party would launch wars of naked aggression against countries that posed no threat to the United States, I would have shouted my warnings even earlier.

The neoconned Republican Party is the greatest threat America has ever faced. Let me tell you why.

How many Republicans can you name who respect and honor the Constitution? There are Ron Paul, Bob Barr, and who? The ranks of Republican constitutional supporters quickly grow thin.

The reason is that Republicans view the Constitution as a coddling device for criminals and terrorists. Republicans think the Constitution can be set aside for evil-doers and kept in place for everyone else. But without the Constitution we only have the government’s word as to who is an evil-doer.

This would be the word of the same infallible government that told us that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction that were on the verge of being used against America, the same infallible government that told us that Guantanamo prison held “770 of the most dangerous persons alive” and then, after stealing 5 years of their lives, quietly released 500 of them as mistaken identities.

Republicans think the United States is the salt of the earth and that American hegemony over the rest of the world is not only justified by our great virtue but necessary to our safety. People this full of hubris are incapable of judgment. People incapable of judgment should never be given power.

Republicans have no sympathy for anyone but their own kind. How many Republicans do you know who care a hoot about the plight of the poor, the jobless, the medically uninsured? The government programs that Republicans are always adamant to cut are the ones that help people who need help.

I have yet to hear any of my Republican friends express any concern whatsoever for the 1.2 million Iraqis who have died, and the 4 million who have been displaced, as a result of Bush’s gratuitous invasion. Many tell me that the five- and six-year long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are due to wimpy Americans “who don’t have the balls it takes” to win. Killing and displacing a quarter of the Iraqi population is just a wimpy result of a population that lacks testosterone. Real Americans would have killed them all by now.

Macho patriotic Republicans are perfectly content for US foreign policy to be controlled by Israel. Republican evangelical “christian” churches teach their congregations that America’s purpose in the world is to serve Israel. And these are the flag-wavers.

Those of us who think America is the Constitution, and that loyalty means loyalty to the Constitution, not to office holders or to a political party or to a foreign country, are regarded by Republicans as “anti-American.”

Neoconservatives, such as Billy Kristol, insist that loyalty to the country means loyalty to the government. Thus, criticizing the government for launching wars of aggression and for violating constitutionally protected civil liberties is, according to neoconservatives, a disloyal act.

In the neoconservative view, there is no place for the voices of citizens: the government makes the decisions, and loyal citizens support the government’s decisions.

In the neocon political system there is no liberty, no democracy, no debate. Dissenters are traitors.

The neoconservative magazine, Commentary, wants the New York Times indicted for telling Americans that the Bush regime was caught violating US law, specifically the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, by spying on Americans without obtaining warrants as required by law. Note that neoconservatives think it is a criminal act for a newspaper to tell its readers that their government is spying on them illegally.

Judging by their behavior, a number of Democrats go along with the neocon view. Thus, the Democrats don’t offer a greatly different profile. They went along with the views that corporate profits and the war on terror take precedence over everything else. They have not used the congressional power that the electorate gave them in the 2006 elections.

However, Democrats, or at least some of them, do care about the Constitution. If it were not for Democratic appointees to the federal courts and the ACLU (essentially a Democratic organization), the Bush regime would have completely destroyed our civil liberties.

Some Democrats are “bleeding hearts,” who actually care about suffering people they don’t know, and who think that we have obligations to others. Have you ever heard of a bleeding heart Republican?

Traditionally, Democrats objected whenever policies resulted in a handful of rich people capturing all of the income gains from the economy. There might still be a few such Democrats left.

Looking at the Republican mess, I doubt that Democrats, try as they may, can equal it.

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions. He can be reached at:

RNN: Christian Zionists target Iran

Dandelion Salad


At the annual meeting of Christians United for Israel (CUFI) in Washington its leader, popular televangelist John Hagee, refrained from the kind of controversial comments that have led Senator John McCain to repudiate his endorsement. But McCain’s close adviser, Senator Joe Lieberman, did address the meeting, even though progressive Jewish organizations strongly advised him not to. Lieberman painted a gloomy picture of a “fanatical”, nuclear-armed Iranian regime which might attack not only its neighbors but also the United States. Outside the meeting, a number of organizations strongly denounced CUFI and Lieberman as warmongers.



Ron Paul on Fox News 2008.07.23

Dandelion Salad


Stuart Varney interviews Ron Paul after voting on “housing bailout package”.

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Ron Paul: The Mother Of All Bailouts

Marc Faber: FED is totally ineffective and inept organization

Louis T. McFadden (1876-1936): An American Hero by Richard C. Cook

Saving bankers while home owners fail by Mumia Abu-Jamal

World Prout Assembly: Monetary Policy with Richard C. Cook

Federal Reserve

The Economy Sucks and or Collapse

Mosaic News – 07/23/08: 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:
“Obama Tells Israel He’s Committed to its Security,” Al Jazeera English, Qatar
“Mixed Reaction to Obama in Israel,” IBA TV, Israel
“Hezbollah Hands Syria Remains of 114 Arab Fighters,” Al Jazeera TV, Qatar
“Sudan’s President Pays Defiant Visit to Darfur,” Dubai TV, UAE
“Turkey’s Ruling Party Defending Itself in Court,” Abu Dhabi TV, UAE
“The US Military Complex,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
“Iraqi-Turkish Relations Not Affected by PKK,” Alsumaria TV, Iraq
Produced for Link TV by Jamal Dajani.

Vodpod videos no longer available.


The Daily Show: Obama & the Old Jewish Voters + 3-Pointer

Decoding Obama on Iraq by Anthony Arnove


Death by Taser: Police Accused of Cover-Up in Death of African American Man Shocked Nine Times While in Handcuffs

Dandelion Salad

Democracy Now!

July 24, 2008

Death by Taser: Police Accused of Cover-Up in Death of African American Man Shocked Nine Times While in Handcuffs

Police in the city of Winnfield, Louisiana are being accused of covering up the death of twenty-one-year-old Baron Pikes. He died in police custody on January 21 after being shot nine times with a taser gun while in handcuffs. The city police chief initially claimed that Pikes was high on crack cocaine and PCP at the time of his death. But the coroner recently ruled Pikes’ death to be a homicide, after an autopsy determined there were no drugs in his system. The coroner also determined that the police shot Pikes twice after he lost consciousness. We speak with Chicago Tribune reporter Howard Witt, who broke the story nationally; Kayshon Collins, Baron Pikes’ stepmother; and Winnfield Police Lieutenant Charles Curry.

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Police State


Police Brutality

The Forgotten War: Sonali Kolhatkar on Why Afghanistan is “Just as Bad as Iraq”

Dandelion Salad

Democracy Now!

July 24, 2008

The Forgotten War: Sonali Kolhatkar on Why Afghanistan is “Just as Bad as Iraq”

Coming on the heels of Barack Obama’s highly publicized visit to Afghanistan—what he calls a central front in the so-called war on terror—we play an address by Pacifica radio host Sonali Kolhatkar, one of this country’s leading voices against the occupation of Afghanistan and co-author of the book Bleeding Afghanistan: Washington, Warlords and the Propaganda of Silence. She spoke last month at the National Conference for Media Reform in Minneapolis about what she called widespread misconceptions about the occupation of Afghanistan.

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NYT boosts Pentagon push for wider bombing in Afghanistan

Canada Sets Date To Withdraw All Troops From Afghanistan!