Palestinians dismantle road blockade + De Facto State of Lawlessness

Dandelion Salad

Happy Sukkot, Shabbat Shalom.  I implore all Jews to speak out against the actions by the state of Israel.

“That which is hateful to you do not do to another … the rest (of the Torah) is all commentary, now go study.”

– Rabbi Hillel

“If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?”

– Rabbi Hillel

~ Lo Continue reading

Dr. J.’s Short Takes: Palin; Campaign Racism; Guilt by Association; David Brooks

by Steven Jonas, MD
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
Buzzflash.com
October 17, 2008

Palin’s Debate Performance: Where Was the Box?

Palin’s debate performance has been much discussed. One element not noticed was the technological advances made by Republican debate managers since 2004. Bush’s rectangular control box was clearly visible. (Too bad Kerry didn’t ask him about it, but he was much too much of a “gentleman” to do so. Who was it who said “nice guys finish last?” [Actually is was the great Leo Durocher, who managed to manage both the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants in the glory days of New York baseball, 1941-1957, before they both deserted us for California.]) At any rate, they obviously are now masters of miniaturization. But still one wonders just where they hid the Palin control box.

Guilt by Association: What a Net it Casts

As yes, guilt by association. Ain’t it just great? Not only is Obama a commie/liberal/terrorist for “associating” (even slightly, as was the case) with Bill Ayres on a community organization board of directors. But so, obviously, are: all of his fellow Board members (some of whom are — oh no — prominent Republicans); the University of Illinois, which had the audacity to make Ayres a full professor with tenure; the publishers of every one of Prof. Ayres’ 15 books; and Mayor Richard Daley and the rest of the group of Chicago industrialists and political leaders who all say that Prof. Ayres is a fine fellow. It’s guilt by association for ALL of them, not just Obama, dontchaknow. And by golly, let’s not forget who it was who first put Bill Ayres’ name into the political hopper. None other than good ol’ Hillary Rodham Clinton, dontchaknow.

Who is Running Next Time for the Republicans?

Newt Gingrich, et al just love Sarah Palin. That is even though Newt, Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, maybe even Lindsey Graham, and who knows who else among her current loyal supporters, whether she wins or loses this time around, will be running against her for the Republican nomination in 2012 whether she gets to the Presidency before then or not. Surprised, especially if the ticket wins this time and Palin is president by 2012 (which she would likely be given the state of McCain’s physical and mental health)? Don’t be. At the same time, just think where Palin would be had not Bill Kristol gone on that fateful Alaska cruise in 2007 and discovered her, as if she were some movie starlet. Oh yes, there was one U.S. Vice President who succeed to the Presidency upon the death of the man he was elected with who was denied his party’s nomination at the next election: Chester Alan Arthur. So Palin might be the second. Or might not.

The Scariest Thing About Sarah Palin’s Audiences

Sarah Palin is now speaking only to pre-selected Republican audiences. The cheers that they give her are spine-chilling for anyone who has watched movies of 1930s mass rallies. But the scariest thing about the responses to her declamations is not the declamations themselves. After all, she does say outrageous things with great frequency, and is fast becoming a mistress of the Big Lie technique (viz. her response to the findings of the “Troopergate” investigation: “I was cleared of any wrongdoing”). The scariest thing is that there are apparently a not insignificant number of such hate-screamers.

Poor David Brooks

David Brooks was The New York Times resident right-winger before they brought on Bill Kristol (who actually makes Brooks appear to be reasonable [even if he isn’t]). Brooks obviously thinks that McCain will lose (although given the Republican Election Theft Machine, now getting into full-function mode, that is no means certain). In a recent article (“The Class War Before Palin” The New York Times, October 9, 2008), he attacks Republican anti-intellectualism. Of course anti-intellectualism is never going to lose pride of place in the Republican Party regardless of what the dwindling number of pseudo-serious Republicans such as Brooks say. It is only with an uninformed electorate that they can win. So, Dave, you’ll have to try something else to try to assure The Times’ readership that if Obama wins, some people will think that you still have some relevance.

Who Are the Racists? McCain: “Not us”

And finally, after trying to make nice on October 10 about the vicious, planned, turn his campaign took just a week before, on October 13, there was this item on AOL: “Republican John McCain vowed Sunday to ‘whip Democratic rival Barack Obama’s “you-know-what” ‘ when the two presidential candidates meet Wednesday in their final televised debate” (Beth Fouhy, AP/AOL, Arlington, VA, 10-13-08 [and you should see the pro-McCain racist comments among the 1,300 or so that were already up by the time I noticed the item. Oy yoy yoy]). Oh dear. I guess that ol’ John just never heard of lynch mobs and what they did to “uppity” African-Americans (as Obama has been characterized by numerous Republican operatives for months now) before they burned or hung them (that is whipped their “you-know-whats”). The apology this time, if it ever does come, ought to be a doozy. In the meantime I sent the following entry in to the People for the American Way’s current “Haiku contest” referencing McCain/Palin:

“Racist we’re not and
we will whup the ass of any
man who says we are.”

Steven Jonas, MD, MPH is a Professor of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University (NY) and a www.TPJmagazine.us Contributing Author; a regular Columnist for BuzzFlash; a Special Contributing Editor for Cyrano’s Journal Online; a Contributing Columnist for the Project for the Old American Century, POAC; and a Featured Writer for Dandelion Salad https://dandelionsalad.wordpress.com/.

see

It’s Already Stolen by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Greg Palast

Greg Palast: Voting Fraud is a Fraud + Exposing flaws in the voting system

Obama vs McCain 3rd Presidential Debate (link) + Who is Joe, the plumber?

No Dog in this Fight By P Jerome

McCain-John

Palin-Sarah

Obama-Barack

Dr. Michael Hudson: The New Kleptocracy – The largest financial theft in American history

Dandelion Salad

Updated: Oct 20, 2008: added a video clip of this interview, see below

Information Clearing House
By Guns & Butter
Oct 8, 2008 Continue reading

Additional Thoughts on the Bailout By Paul Craig Roberts

Dandelion Salad

By Paul Craig Roberts
October 16, 2008 “Information Clearinghouse

“We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office” – Aesop

Just as the Bush regime’s wars have been used to pour billions of dollars into the pockets of its military-security donor base, the Paulson bailout looks like a Bush regime scheme to incur $700 billion in new public debt in order  to transfer the money into the coffers of its financial donor base.  The US taxpayers will be left with the interest payments in perpetuity (or inflation if the Fed monetizes the debt), and the number of Wall Street billionaires will grow.  As for the US and European governments’ purchases of bank shares, that is just a cover for funneling public money into private hands.

The explanations that have been given for the crisis and its bailout are opaque.  The US Treasury estimates that as few as 7% of the mortgages are bad.  Why then do the US, UK, Germany, and France need to pour more than $2.1 trillion of public money into private financial institutions?

If, as the government tells us, the crisis stems from subprime mortgage defaults reducing the interest payments to the holders of mortgage backed securities, thus driving down their values and threatening the solvency of the institutions that hold them, why isn’t the bailout money used to address the problem at its source?  If the bailout money was used to refinance troubled mortgages and to pay off foreclosed mortgages, the mortgage backed securities would be made whole, and it would be unnecessary to pour huge sums of public money into banks.  Instead, the bailout money is being used to inject capital into financial institutions and to purchase from them troubled financial instruments.

It is a strange solution that does not address the problem.  As the US economy sinks deeper into recession, the mortgage defaults will rise.  Thus, the problem will intensify, necessitating the purchase of yet more troubled instruments.

If credit card debt has also been securitized and sold as investments, as the economy worsens defaults on credit card debt will be a replay of the mortgage defaults.  How much debt can the Treasury bail out before its own credit rating sinks?

The contribution of credit default swaps to the financial crisis has not been made clear.  These swaps are bets that a designated financial instrument will fail. In exchange for “premium” payments, the seller of a swap protects the buyer of the swap from default by, for example, a company’s bond that the swap buyer might not even own. If these swaps are also securitized and sold as investments, more nebulous assets appear on balance sheets.

Normally, if you and I make a bet, and I welsh on the bet, it doesn’t threaten your solvency.  If we place bets with a bookie and the odds go against the bookie, the bookie will fail, as apparently happened to AIG, necessitating an $85 billion bailout of the insurance company, and to Bear Stearns resulting in the demise of the investment bank.

Credit default swaps are a form of unregulated insurance.  One danger of the swaps is that they allow speculators to purchase protection against a company defaulting on its bonds, without the speculators having to own the company’s bonds. Speculators can then short the company’s stock, driving down its price and raising questions about the viability of the company’s bonds.  This raises the value of the speculators’ swaps which can be sold to holders of the company’s bonds. By ruining a company’s prospects, the speculators make money.

Another danger is that swaps encourage investors to purchase riskier, higher-yielding instruments in the belief that the instruments are insured, but the sellers of swaps have not reserved against them.

Double-counting of assets is also possible if a bank purchases a company’s bonds, for example, then purchases credit default swaps on the bonds, and lists both as assets on its balance sheet.

The $85 billion Treasury bailout of AIG is small compared to the $700 billion for the banks, and the emphasis has been on banks, not insurance companies.  According to news reports, the sums associated with credit default swaps are far larger than the subprime mortgage derivatives.  Have the swaps yet to become major players in the crisis?

The behavior of the stock market does not necessarily tell us anything about the bailout.  The financial crisis disrupted lending and thus comprised a threat to non-financial firms. This threat would reflect in the stock market.  However, the stock market is also predicting a recession and declining earnings.  Thus, people sell stocks hoping to get out before share prices adjust to the new lower earnings.

The bailout package is a result of panic and threats, not of analysis and understanding.  Neither Congress nor the public knows the full story.  If the problem is the mortgages, why does the bailout leave the mortgages unaddressed and focus instead on pouring vast amount of public money into private financial institutions?

The purpose of regulation is to restrain greed and to prevent leveraged speculation from threatening the wider society.  Congress needs to restore financial regulation, not reward those who caused the crisis.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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The End of Friedmanite Economics By Mike Whitney

How about socialism for the rest of us By William Bowles

Falling Rate of Profit

The Financial Crisis 2008 Interview with Noam Chomsky

The Economy Sucks and or Collapse

It’s Already Stolen by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Greg Palast

Dandelion Salad

by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Greg Palast
ROLLING STONE
Oct 16, 2008

Investigation by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Greg Palast released today

Don’t worry about Mickey Mouse or ACORN stealing the election. According to an investigative report out today in Rolling Stone magazine, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Greg Palast, after a year-long investigation, reveal a systematic program of “GOP vote tampering” on a massive scale.

– Republican Secretaries of State of swing-state Colorado have quietly purged one in six names from their voter rolls.

Over several months, the GOP politicos in Colorado stonewalled every attempt by Rolling Stone to get an answer to the massive purge – ten times the average state’s rate of removal.

[…]

via Greg Palast » ROLLING STONE: It’s Already Stolen

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Greg Palast: Voting Fraud is a Fraud + Exposing flaws in the voting system

“N” Word, Swastikas Spray-Painted on Arizona Restaurant + The Hate Talk Express

Dandelion Salad

mmflint

The graffiti insults Barak Obama’s race through the use of the “n” word. The graffiti urges voters to vote for ‘Makain.’

Helping to take down the MkKkain clan at http://www.michaelmoore.com/

Vodpod videos no longer available.

***

Hooligan GrandMa’s Cruising McCain Palin Rallys!

VOTERSTHINKdotORG

http://cspanjunkie.org/
October 16, 2008 MSNBC Keith Olbermann

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The Dark Cartoon By John Steppling

Obama vs McCain 3rd Presidential Debate (link) + Who is Joe, the plumber?

No Dog in this Fight By P Jerome

Countdown: Special Comment + Inciting the Mob + Claims of Voter Fraud

Max Blumenthal on Sarah Palin’s Radical Right-Wing Pals + Feeding the Hate

McCain Campaign Masters the Art of Dog Whistling Their Fear Mongering to the Religious Right

McCain-John

Palin-Sarah

Obama-Barack

The End of Friedmanite Economics By Mike Whitney

Dandelion Salad

By Mike Whitney
October 16, 2008 “Information Clearinghouse

“We are in the midst of a major historic turning point, equivalent to the emergence of neoliberalism under Thatcher and Reagan” (interview with economist Robert Pollin)

1–On Monday, the stock market recorded its biggest one day gain in history on news that the G-7 had settled on a plan to recapitalize the banking system. The Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the Bank of England (BOE) all agreed to make direct capital injections into “systemically important” banks so they could resume lending and reduce stress in the credit markets. They also decided to insure deposits and to guarantee interbank lending. Do you think that these unprecedented steps will be enough to avert a meltdown of the financial system?

Robert Pollin: Of course, by Tuesday, the Dow fell again by over 733 points. Meanwhile, the Niekkii in Japan fell by 10 percent on Wednesday. So, thus far, the answer to whether these steps are enough, on their own, to avert a meltdown is a resounding “no.” At the same time, to be fair, these measures have yet to have any real effect on banks’ balance sheets. Thus far, the stock markets are only responding to their own guesses as to what benefits, if any, these measures will have on stabilizing the balance sheets of financial institutions.

But there is another element that came into play especially over the past day. That is the reality within financial markets that the economic crisis has spread beyond Wall Street itself. It is now clearly becoming a crisis—a recession or depression, choose your own term–spreading into the realm of jobs, incomes, public sector budgets, and private non-financial profits as well. This means that averting a meltdown of the financial system will also require a massive stimulus of the non-financial side of the economy. We haven’t heard yet about any significant plans along these lines.

2– How much of the present crisis can be blamed on ideology? Do you think that the ideas of Milton Friedman or the 30 year-long bias towards market fundamentalism contributed to the present troubles in the financial markets? Is this the end of the laissez-faire, free market “trickle down” era?

Robert Pollin: This is certainly a massive crisis of Friedmanite economics and neoliberalism more generally—which all along was the ideology that touted free markets and deregulation to privatize profits, but to come begging for government bailouts when the inevitable crises emerged. This is certainly not the first financial crisis under the neoliberal regime. There have been regular severe crises since the 1987 Wall Street crash. These crises were all quelled through Federal Reserve/Treasury bailout operations. Whether or not this crisis will mean the end of the neoliberal era will depend on political mobilization—specifically, how successful the left will be in building coalitions behind an agenda that combines egalitarianism with a stable financial system. I would say this: if the left is unable to defeat neoliberalism now, and build some version of social democracy or “leashed capitalism”, then we will never do it.

3–Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson’s $700 billion bailout plan was opposed by over 200 economists. The vast majority of the economists supported the idea of capital injections into struggling banks rather than buying up their toxic mortgage-backed assets. (EU nations settled on the capital injections plan, too) On Monday, according to the New York Times, Paulson met with a group of CEOs from the country’s largest banks and announced his plans for distributing the first $250 billion provided by Congress.

“Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase were told they would each get $25 billion; Bank of America and Wells Fargo, $20 billion each (plus an additional $5 billion for their recent acquisitions); Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, $10 billion each, with Bank of New York Mellon and State Street each receiving $2 to 3 billion. Wells Fargo will get $5 billion for its acquisition of Wachovia, and Bank of America the same for amount for its purchase of Merrill Lynch.” (Calculated Risk)

Half of the money allocated by Congress is being given to many of the same Wall Street giants that are directly responsible for the current implosion of the financial system. Doesn’t this confirm our worst fears about Paulson, that he is merely a banking oligarch who serves the interests of the financial industry?

Robert Pollin: Paulson is a Wall Street man—and Goldman Sachs man, more specifically—through and through. There was never any doubt about that. He will always do his best to serve his Wall Street constituency. At the same time, this constituency has now been discredited to an extent unprecedented since the 1930s. So again, it will be a matter of how well the left mobilizes its forces to push for a different agenda with the Treasury and other major economic policy-making institutions. It will not be easy, and it won’t happen overnight. But now is most emphatically the time to make serious advances in building a serious alternative agenda.

4–Many pundits now point to the Lehman Brothers default as the main cause for last week’s turbulence in the stock market. Can you explain how one bank can have such a dramatic effect on global stocks and credit markets?

Robert Pollin: Henry Paulson made the decision for one day—and one day only—to try free market capitalism during a financial crisis. That is, he and Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke decided that if Lehman Brothers can’t make it on its own, then, according to the logic of free market capitalism, they should be allowed to fail. But once they made that decision, such deep panic ensued, on Wall Street and financial markets throughout the globe, that they backed off literally the next day, when the bailed out AIG Insurance.

Under neoliberalism, financial market players have become accustomed to do as they wish when the market is going up, but to get bailed out when the market is going down—privatization of profits and socialization of losses. The collapse of Lehman sent the signal that the old rules of neoliberalism may no longer apply—that market losers may really go down hard, as the true-blue free market model—as opposed to the neoliberal model—says they must. That’s why Lehman’s failure caused such a massive panic.

5– Do you find it surprising that foreign investors and central banks have not sued the various US brokerage houses for selling them complex securities that were toxic? Why hasn’t the ECB or the BOE demanded that the US buy-back this fraudulent mortgage-backed garbage or threaten to boycott US financial products?

Robert Pollin: We have to be clear on what we mean by “foreign” investors. They may well be physically living in other countries, and their institutions may have business charters outside the U.S. But they are heavily integrated into the U.S. economy. Neither the European Central Bank (ECB) nor the Bank of England (BOE) want to see either Wall Street or the dollar collapse. They themselves would also go down in the event of a global depression. So they are not about to call for boycotts of the U.S. economy. The Europeans may have some harsh words for the US players behind closed doors. On the other hand, nobody forced the Europeans to buy mortgage-backed securities. They also would hardly want to claim to be untutored innocents playing above their heads in financial markets. They—like the Americans—had every opportunity to think about whether mortgage-backed securities were good ways to make big-time profits. They all decided to go for it.

6—The Obama campaign has reportedly received $10 million from Wall Street contributors, whereas, the McCain campaign has taken in $7 million. Does this explain why no one in Congress from either party is demanding that Glass Steagall be restored, or that all derivatives contracts be put under government regulation, or that all financial institutions (that pose a danger to the overall system) maintain capital cushion of 12 percent? Has the big money which flows into the political system made it impossible for congress to do the work of the people?

Robert Pollin: The big money flowing into Obama, and to Democrats more generally, certainly will make it more difficult for our elected officials to do the work of the people. But here again, Wall Street has now been discredited to a degree unprecedented since the 1930s. That should give the left serious political leverage, even while fully recognizing the influence that big money will continue to play with both the Democrats and Republicans. And we don’t need to go back to Glass Steagall specifically—the financial regulatory system that came out of the wreckage of the 1930s Depression. We need to recreate its basic principles and then some—that is, to create a regulatory system focused on financial stability and channeling credit to socially productive activities, like affordable housing, job expansion, and building a clean energy economy. Does that mean that the financial system should be state owned? Certainly there is a case for at least partial ownership. That is hardly an outlandish crazy-left idea now, since George Bush and Henry Paulson have made this a cornerstone of the Republican-led bailout plan. But the real issue—whether it be through public or private ownership or some mix—is to move financial institutions and markets in the direction of egalitarianism. That won’t occur automatically by any means even with publicly owned financial institutions.

7—So far, foreign flows into US Treasuries (to cover our $700 billion current account deficit) have not been a big problem. But as the Federal Reserve and the Treasury expand their balance sheets to provide a backstop for the financial system–as well as emergency fiscal stimulus for maxed-out consumers–we could be facing a funding crisis as severe as anytime in history. In July, the purchases of US Treasuries hit a record low of roughly $6 billion leaving a shortfall of $50 billion. Now that we are headed into a global recession, do you think that foreign central banks will begin cutting back on their purchases of US debt? What effects will this have on the US economy (and the dollar)? Will interest rates rise sharply?

Robert Pollin: I think U.S. Treasuries are now, and will remain for some time, the single safest, and most desirable, financial instrument in the global financial system. I don’t think foreigners will shift dramatically away from Treasuries, though they may do so modestly. At the same time, U.S. investors will continue to clamor for Treasuries as opposed to buying stocks, bonds issued by private companies, and derivatives. This will push down the interest rates on Treasuries. However, other interest rates will continue to be very high. The growing disparity between the low Treasury rates and the high rates on private bonds, including those of AAA corporations, reflects the very high level of risk—the “risk premium—that investors are now attaching to any security that doesn’t have the full backing of the U.S. government.

8–In 1967 former Fed chair Alan Greenspan published an essay titled “Gold and Economic Freedom” which could have been written by a Libertarian like Ron Paul. The article proves that Greenspan has a good grasp of how low interest rates and credit expansion lead to disaster. In fact, he even blames the Great Depression on loose monetary policies. Here is a particularly revealing excerpt:

“When business in the United States underwent a mild contraction in 1927, the Federal Reserve created more paper reserves in the hope of forestalling any possible bank reserve shortage. More disastrous, however, was the Federal Reserve’s attempt to assist Great Britain who had been losing gold to us because the Bank of England refused to allow interest rates to rise when market forces dictated (it was politically unpalatable). The reasoning of the authorities involved was as follows: if the Federal Reserve pumped excessive paper reserves into American banks, interest rates in the United States would fall to a level comparable with those in Great Britain; this would act to stop Britain’s gold loss and avoid the political embarrassment of having to raise interest rates.

The “Fed” succeeded; it stopped the gold loss, but it nearly destroyed the economies of the world in the process. The excess credit which the Fed pumped into the economy spilled over into the stock market — triggering a fantastic speculative boom. Belatedly, Federal Reserve officials attempted to sop up the excess reserves and finally succeeded in braking the boom. But it was too late: by 1929 the speculative imbalances had become so overwhelming that the attempt precipitated a sharp retrenching and a consequent demoralizing of business confidence. As a result, the American economy collapsed…. The world economies plunged into the Great Depression of the 1930’s….The abandonment of the gold standard made it possible for the welfare statists to use the banking system as a means to an unlimited expansion of credit…” (Gold and Economic Freedom, Alan Greenspan)

What role did Greenspan play in the current financial crisis and why did Greenspan leave interest rates below the rate of inflation for 31 months when he knew it would lead to catastrophe?

Robert Pollin: I don’t agree that low interest rates and credit expansion lead to disaster. They only lead to disaster in an unregulated financial system, in which credit flows overwhelmingly support speculation as opposed to investments in productive activities that create useful things for people, like schools, housing and public infrastructure. Indeed, I strongly support an extensive system of government loan guarantees—i.e. credit risk insurance—to support private investments in retrofitting buildings and affordable housing. This will maintain low interest rates to finance these activities, and channel large amounts of cheap credit into these areas.

Greenspan himself is as responsible for this current financial disaster as anyone. His only competitors on this score are former Republican Senator and top McCain advisor Phil Gramm and former Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin. They all were relentless cheerleaders for financial deregulation—Democrats and Republicans alike. They were spouting nonsense about the virtues of unregulated financial markets for since the 1980s at least.

9—In “Imperialism is the Highest Stage of Capitalism”, Vladimir Lenin says: “The development of capitalism has arrived at a stage when, although commodity production still “reigns” and continues to be regarded as the basis of economic life, it has in reality been undermined and the bulk of the profits go to the “geniuses” of financial manipulation. At the basis of these manipulations and swindles lies socialized production; but the immense progress of mankind, which achieved this socialization, goes to benefit… the speculators.”

Despite the failures of the Soviet Union, is there anything in the analysis of Marx or Lenin that can help us to better understand this present phase of American-style capitalism?

Robert Pollin: This is very keen observation by Lenin—one among many, many others. As for Marx, he remains, in my view, the single most insightful thinker in history on the operations of a capitalist economy. This includes his voluminous writings on the nature of financial markets, which are full of tremendous insights. And remember, he was doing this writing 150 years ago, when he had very little to grab onto as he attempted to discern the nature of capitalism.

That doesn’t mean that I agree with everything Marx says. I also don’t see much point in assigning labels—Marxist or otherwise—to people. This is mostly a barrier to clear, straightforward thinking that might also someone be politically useful. And finally, in my opinion, there is a huge amount important thinking in Marx as to what is wrong with capitalism, but not very much about what to do about it. As such, in figuring out where we go from here, we are really on our own. There’s not much point in trying to figure out what Marx would propose to do in our present situation. We will never know that; and even if we did know, it would still be up to us to figure out whether Marx was making any sense. Remember that Marx himself once said, in exasperation at his dogmatic followers, that “I am not a Marxist.”

10—Liberals and progressives in the US seem much more focused on social issues than economic ones. Only recently, have they become more aware of the growing polarization between rich and poor and the inherent shortcomings of this crisis-prone, bubble-generating, wealth-shifting system. As the financial crisis spreads into the real economy triggering increasing unemployment, falling demand, tightening credit and soaring foreclosures; there will probably be many opportunities for change. Do you foresee a rise in “issue-oriented” populist movements or, maybe, a third political party? What are the immediate economic goals that progressives should pursue?

Robert Pollin: I do think we are in the midst of a major historic turning point, equivalent to the 1930s New Deal, or the emergence in 1979/80 of full-tilt neoliberalism under Thatcher in the UK and Reagan in the U.S. It seems clear that the economic agenda will rise to the top of the heap as a focus of concern for the left. This is not to denigrate other issues, such as the environment, anti-imperialism, racism, or sexism. But I think we will now be able to start seeing more clearly the connections between a critique of neoliberal capitalism and these other arenas of social and political struggle. For example, with the environment, it was only a year or so ago that the conventional wisdom held firmly that we could either have a clean environment, or a growing economy with an abundance of good jobs, but we couldn’t possibly have both. Trade-offs such as this were inevitable. You were simply a confused, mushy thinker if you didn’t understand this. It is now becoming clear that building a clean energy economy—and by this I mean a zero fossil fuel driven economy, with no “clean coal” and no nukes—can also be the engine to build a full employment economy as well as help construct a stable financial system.

Of course, to put such an agenda in place will mean treading through multiple political minefields. Should people work within their communities alone? In unions? Form a left caucus within the Democratic Party? For environmental justice groups? Keep trying to build third parties? I think all these approaches have merit, and that we on the left should try all of them. We should also have enough humility to acknowledge that none of us really knows what will work best under any given set of circumstances. Let’s try a lot of things, keep learning, and stay open-minded. And I would emphasize one other thing. During the 1968 uprising in France, one of the most bracing slogans to have emerged out that struggle was “Be Realistic, Demand the Impossible.” I am more inclined to embrace its mirror image as a guide for moving forward. That is, “Be Utopian, Demand the Realistic.”

Bio: Robert Pollin is Professor of Economics and founding Co-Director of the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Among his recent books are Contours of Descent: U.S. Economic Fractures and the Landscape of the Global Austerity (Verso, 2003) and (with Stephanie Luce) The Living Wage: Building a Fair Economy (The New Press, 1998)

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

see

How about socialism for the rest of us By William Bowles

Falling Rate of Profit

The Financial Crisis 2008 Interview with Noam Chomsky

The Economy Sucks and or Collapse

Deep Politics: How 9/11 Changed America

Dandelion Salad

by Prof Peter Dale Scott
Global Research, October 16, 2008

Global Research Lecture, Montreal, September 2008

Video unavailable

Deep Politics: How 9/11 Changed America“, given by Peter Dale Scott, chaired by Michel Chossudovsky and organized by the Centre for Research on Globalization in Montreal on September 19 2008. Filmed and edited by Montreal 9/11 Truth.

Continue reading

Closing the Courthouse Door by Ralph Nader

Dandelion Salad

by Ralph Nader
Thursday, October 16. 2008
Closing the Courthouse Door – The Nader Page

“Real change comes from the bottom up, not the top down. The genius of the American system has been to let that change flow upward, from neighborhoods to cities to states and then to the federal government.” George W. Bush February 26, 2001.

Unfortunately, the difference between words and deeds in Washington is often shocking even to those who think they have seen it all. Alicia Mundy in the October 15, 2008 edition of the Wall Street Journal reports:

“Bush administration officials, in their last weeks in office, are pushing to rewrite a wide array of federal rules with changes or additions that could block product-safety lawsuits by consumers and states.”

What President George W. Bush should have said is that he believes in states rights when they are in the interest of Big Business and their lobbyists in Washington. Mr. Bush and his cronies would like to forget about those harmed by dangerous products or reckless conduct. Indeed, Bush & Company seem to regard the civil justice system as a nuisance that threatens to destroy our economy and way of life. In reality, America’s civil justice system plays an indispensable role in our democracy. When the rights of injured consumers are vindicated in court, our society benefits in countless ways: compensating victims and their families for shattering losses (with the cost borne by the wrongdoers rather than taxpayers); preventing future injuries by deterring dangerous products and practices and spurring safety innovation; stimulating enforceable safety standards; educating the public to risks associated with certain products and services; and providing society with its moral and ethical fiber by defining appropriate norms of conduct.

The Center for Progressive Reform has in painstaking detail chronicled the attack on the civil Justice system by the Bush Administration. In “The Truth about Torts: Using Agency Preemption to Undercut Consumer Health and Safety” legal scholars William Funk, Sidney Shapiro, David Vladeck and Karen Sokol write:

“In recent years, the Bush administration has launched an unprecedented aggressive campaign to persuade the courts to preempt state tort actions…. Widespread preemption of state tort law would significantly undermine, if not eliminate, the rights of individuals to seek redress for injuries caused by irresponsible and dangerous business practices and to hold manufacturers and others accountable for such socially unreasonable conduct.” (See: http://www.progressiveregulation.org).

And, Les Weisbrod, the President of the American Association for Justice (formerly known as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America) hit the nail on the head when he said:

“In effect the Bush administration made the safety of Americans secondary to corporate profits.”

Mr. Weisbrod added:

“Big business lobbyists have been on a crusade to destroy state consumer protection laws, and further stack the deck against American consumers.”

The American Association for Justice has just published a report titled: “Get Out of Jail Free: A Historical Perspective of How the Bush Administration Helps Corporations Escape Accountability” – this report is available at: www.justice.org/getoutofjailfree.

Tort deform comes in many shapes and sizes – but the common theme is that tort deform severely damages Americans’ cherished constitutional right to trial by jury. It ties the hands of jurors, preventing them from doing justice as the case before them requires. Only the judges and juries see, hear, and evaluate the evidence in these cases. But it is the politicians, absent from the courtrooms, who push bills greased by campaign cash that send a perverse message to judge and jury.

Tort law has produced decades of slow but steady progress in state after state respecting the physical integrity of human beings against harm and recognition that even the weak and defenseless deserve justice. Instead of seeing this evolution as a source of national and global pride, a coalition of insurance companies, corporate defendants’ lobbies, and craven politicians, led by George W. Bush, want to destroy our civil justice system.

When Georgetown Law School Professor David Vladeck testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on September 12, 2007, he noted that the Bush Administration has “seized on regulatory preemption as a way to cut back dramatically on State law remedies for those injured by products and services Americans depend on every day for their health and well-being — medicines, medical devices, motor vehicles, the mattress on which we and our children sleep, and the commuter trains millions of us take to work every day.”

Let us hope that Congress and the Supreme Court stop Mr. Bush from once again trampling the Constitutional rights of citizens throughout the land and preventing victims of corporate violence from obtaining justice in a court of law.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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Interview: Iraq Vets after Arrest at Oct 15 Debate

Dandelion Salad

GlobalPunditOrg

After the IVAW members were released by Nassau County police, we spoke 20 minutes after their release at 2:04 am EDT.
original story can be read here:
http://www.digitaljournal.com/article…

One can understand the raw adrenaline the Vets were running on, as they had committed a non violent act of civil disobedience and not only were they harassed by police, a member of their ranks was badly injured.

Interview by GlobalPundit.Org, footage by Noah Kunin of theUptake.Org

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more about “Interview: Iraq Vets after Arrest at …“, posted with vodpod

h/t: GlobalPunditOrg on current

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15 Arrested Outside Presidential Debate in Protest Led by Iraq Veterans Against the War

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Ehud Olmert: the truth, too late

Dandelion Salad

by Gwynne Dyer
Turkish Daily News
Oct 07, 2008

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was well aware that he resembled the generals who join a peace movement as soon as they retire. “I have not come here to justify my actions over the past 35 years,” he said. “For a large portion of that period, I was unwilling to look reality in the eye.” Olmert, who has resigned but will stay in office until a new government is formed or an election is called, gave a valedictory interview to the newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth on Sept. 29 and said something that no previous Israeli prime minister has said. He declared that if Israel wants peace, it must withdraw from almost all the lands it occupied in 1967. Unfortunately, it’s probably too late.

Not only is it a bit late for Olmert to tell the Israeli public this harsh truth, since he is leaving power now. It’s also too late for Israelis to act on his advice, even if they accepted it, because the situation has changed. That isn’t Olmert’s own view. What he says is: “We have an opportunity that is limited in time, in which we can perhaps reach a historic deal in our relations with the Palestinians and another historic step in our relations with Syria. In both cases, the decision we must reach is a decision that we have been refusing to accept for the past four decades.”

[…]

via Ehud Olmert: the truth, too late – Turkish Daily News Oct 07, 2008

h/t: Malcolm

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Mosaic News – 10/16/08: World News from the Middle East

Dandelion Salad

Warning

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

linktv

Mosaic needs your help! Donate here: http://linktv.org/contribute

“Police Break Up Mauritania Protest,” Dubai TV, UAE
“Turkey Continues to Battle PKK,” Al Jazeera TV, Qatar
“Forest Fires Ravage Lebanon,” Abu Dhabi TV, UAE
“Iraqi Students Can’t Afford Tuition in Egypt,” Al Sharqiya, Iraq
“Iraq Wants to be Released from Article 7 of UN Charter,” Baghdad TV, Iraq
“One Billion Go hungry on World Food Day,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
“Israel Stocks Drop,” IBA TV, Israel
“Hip Hop and Rap in Palestinian Refugee Camps,” Palestine TV, Ramallah
Produced for Link TV by Jamal Dajani.

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