Payback’s A Bitch By David Michael Green

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By David Michael Green

October 18, 2008 “Information Clearinghouse

With apologies to Churchill (who owed a few of his own):  Never have so many been so wrong about so much.

There are few things you’d less rather be right now than a conservative/regressive, and that is why.  It’s like the old Firesign Theater bit:  Everything You Know Is Wrong.  “Dogs flew spaceships!  The Aztecs invented the vacation!  Men and women are the same sex!  Our forefathers took drugs!  Yes!  That’s right!  Everything you know is wrong!”

And, what’s worse, everybody knows it except you.  America is turning decisively away from its tragic thirty-year experiment with Reaganism-Bushism, and for very good reason.  Regressives have ruled the country more or less unabated (Democrats, the supposed carriers of the liberal torch, were during these last three decades either frightened, centrist or irrelevent – and usually all three at once).  Moreover, during the last years especially – the Cringe Decade – the right was particularly forceful, particularly unfettered, particularly successful at having its way, and particularly arrogant in the self-righteous belief in its authority on all things.

Once small problem, though.  If you sat down with a pen and paper and tried to invent a more thorough litany of failure on the right’s watch, you’d be hard pressed to top what they’ve actually done.  I suppose inadvertently nuking all the major cities of the United States would be worse, but I can’t think of much else.  The simple truth is that the regressive movement took a great and proud and prosperous country and ran it into the ditch at 130 miles an hour.  Worse yet, for them – and unlike the bad old years of Willie Horton, or invading Panama, or Clinton’s faux scandals – the public isn’t fooled anymore.  They had already caught on to the game, in large part, a few years back, which is why Bush has been moribund in the absolute cellar of job approval ratings for almost the entirety of his second term.  Things were already tough for the black hats, but then this economic crisis came and walloped people severely, right in the wallet.  One thing about Americans – they’re seriously selfish.  You take away their reputation and their liberties and their democracy and they might – might! – vote against you.  You take away their money, they’ll rip your fucking lungs out, Bro.

And if John McCain seems particularly short on breath of late, that’s why.  There’s nothing quite like the total absence of breathing organs to put a crimp in your respiratory function.

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No More Investment Banks – Turn Them Into Public Utilities By Mike Whitney

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By Mike Whitney
October 18, 2008 “Information Clearinghouse

“If you made it past the credit crisis, you are not making it past the economic carnage.” Meredith A. Whitney, market analyst at Oppenheimer & Company

It worked. So far. The credit markets have begun to thaw. Overnight Libor (London Interbank Offered Rate) dropped 27 basis points to 1.67 percent, the lowest level since September 2004. Three month Libor shed 40 basis points this week to 4.42 percent. The Libor-OIS spread and TED spread are edging downward, too. The VIX, the Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index—also known as the “fear index”–has skyrocketed to 80, a new record. But that is to be expected; after all, Wall Street is in a panic. The truth is, interbank lending is beginning to ease and the financial system has begun to function a bit more like it should.

That doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods by a long shot. The stock market will probably lose another 15 to 20 percent, unemployment will soar, real estate will continue to crash, and consumer spending will dry up.  That’s all part of the hard landing ahead. But at the end of the day, some part of the credit-distribution system will still continue to function. That wasn’t always a certainty. Before the EU finance ministers announced their plan to recapitalize the banking system, by injecting capital and guaranteeing deposits and interbank lending, the world was on its way to a complete financial meltdown. The EU, led by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, pulled the world back from the brink of annihilation. It may be the greatest story of our generation, and very few people even know what really happened. The system was completely frozen in place. Interbank lending had stopped, major corporations were unable to meet payroll because they couldn’t roll over their short term debt. Cargo ships were stuck in ports around the world because buyers couldn’t get Letters of Credit. As analyst John Mauldin said,

“Just as the business world is dependent upon commercial paper as its life blood, the world of global trade depends on letters of credit (LOC). If you are a manufacturer of a product and want to sell to someone outside your borders, you typically require a letter of credit from the buyer before you load any cargo at a port. A letter of credit from a prime bank is considered to be proof of your ability to pay….There are buyer’s and seller’s agents who make sure these things happen seamlessly, and world commerce had grown because of it…. If you think the problems stemming from a meltdown with the commercial paper markets are threatening to the world economy, they are small potatoes when compared to a seizure in the letter of credit markets.”

The European initiative forced Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson to do the right thing. It is 100 percent certain now that his plan to use the $700 billion bailout to buy-back the non-performing loans and bad mortgage-backed securities from the banks would have failed and led to disaster. Paulson stuck by his wacko plan even though more than 200 economists opposed him and the stock market tumbled 8 straight days in a row losing more than 15 percent of its value. The EU had to put a gun to his head to force him to do the right thing. Paulson’s Wall Street bias is so great that he would have driven the country off the cliff just to reward his dodgy friends with lavish cash giveaways from the US taxpayer.

In fact, right after the European plan was announced, Paulson convened a meeting of the country’s largest banks so he could hand out $125 billion of freshly-minted, taxpayer-generated loot to shore up their flimsy balance sheets.  Citigroup got $25 Billion, as did JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley both netted $10 Billion each. None of these banks had to submit to any type of regulatory investigation to see how much of their asset-base was held in worthless mortgage-backed slop or other structured garbage. Paulson never even tried to find out if they are even solvent! On top of that, taxpayer gets no voting rights, no position on the board of directors, and no limits on executive compensation for the $125 billion contribution to Wall Street’s biggest white-collar criminals. On Thursday, all of the aforementioned banks reported horrendous quarterly losses, multi-billion dollar write-downs, and more grim warnings on future profits. It’s clear that Paulson wanted to deliver the bailout money before the public discovered the extent of the carnage.

There are no assurances that the newly-capitalized banks will use their windfall to increase lending to consumers and businesses as Paulson hopes. The banks know that they’ll be facing some stiff  headwinds in the near-future as the the economy contracts and as deleveraging continues. It is just as likely that they will hoard their reserves or buy distressed hard-assets rather than expand their dreary loan portfolio. That means credit will continue to tighten and the widely anticipated slowdown will only get worse.

Currently, the nation is in the grips of a deflationary downturn. Oil and gold have fallen precipitously as have the other commodities which are being dumped on the market in one massive firesale. The hedge funds are liquidating at an unprecedented pace which is causing steady price erosion while strengthening the dollar. This giant institutional margin call is what is at the heart of the recent wild gyrations in the stock market. Investors are withdrawing their money which is forcing the hedgies to sell their liquid assets to reinforce their balance sheets. It’s all about “demand destruction”.

Adding to the turmoil, is the fact that many of the hedge fund managers are “moving to cash” to avoid the equities crash ahead. In Susan Pullim’s article in the Wall Street Journal, “Smart Money stays on the Sides”, she says:

“Some hedge-fund titans have yanked most of their money out of the stock market, a bearish sign amid Monday’s euphoria and an indication of how the hedge-fund business is changing amid chaos.

In recent days, Steven Cohen, the hedge-fund manager who runs the $14 billion SAC Capital Advisors, moved about half his funds, or about $7 billion, into money-market and other short-term securities, eliminating much of his fund’s exposure to the stock market, says a person close to the fund. Mr. Cohen plans on sitting on the sidelines for the rest of the year — trading a small portfolio himself but keeping shuttered most of the stock portfolios of his other managers.

Meanwhile, John Paulson, manager of $35 billion Paulson & Co. — who made a spectacularly successful bet against the housing market last year — has much of his fund in cash equivalents.

The retrenchment by Wall Street’s “smart money” crowd is part of a larger effort by hedge funds that have put a total of as much as $400 billion into cash equivalents recently, according to David Kostin, an analyst at Goldman Sachs Group Inc.” (Wall Street Journal)

The vultures are collecting on the telephone wires waiting for the first bloodied antelope to plop to the ground. As the stock market rout continues, they shouldn’t have to wait too long. Many pundits are predicting the greatest slump since the 1930s. Already, manufacturing has slowed faster than anytime in the last 20 years, jobless claims jumped 461,000 to 3.7 million, housing starts are at a 17 year low, and consumer confidence fell through the floor. Even worse, Paulson’s bailout does nothing to stop the hemorrhaging of foreclosures which is the source of the disequilibrium in the financial markets. Congress needs to pass emergency legislation to write down the face-value of distressed mortgages (and provide low interest “fixed rate” loans for the first 25 percent of the revised value) to create an incentive for homeowners to stay put. This massive relief effort will have the added benefit of stabilizing the financial markets by putting a floor under housing prices.  Struggling homeowners should be given a helping-hand before the banks.

As the former chairman of Goldman Sachs, Henry Paulson’s motives have been suspect from the very beginning of this fiasco. He made sure that the US taxpayer got a shellacking on the purchase of preferred shares in the banks. And, he even faked like he was forcing the banks to take the capital they needed to stay afloat. (“Please, don’t make me take that $25 billion Mr. Secretary”. What a complete farce!)  These are his best buddies and he treats them well. He hasn’t demanded that they bring their off-book operations back onto their balance sheets, or limit their derivatives exposure, or reduce their leverage to 12 to 1, or come clean with the amount they are holding in Level 3 assets (illiquid, complex mortgage-backed securities) Wall Street veteran Pam Marten summed it up like this:

“What most Americans do not understand, because mainstream media rarely explains it, is the incestuous relationship between the U.S. Treasury and this small band of financial marauders who busted the entire financial system with insane levels of leveraged derivative bets.”


Author F. William Engdahl sees a more nefarious motive behind Paulson’s maneuvering and he lays it out in his article, “Behind the Panic: Financial Warfare and the Future of Global Bank Power”:

“It now would appear that the Paulson strategy was to use a crisis… to panic the more conservative European Union governments into rushing to the rescue of US toxic waste assets.
Were that to have happened, it would in the process destroy what was left of sound EU banking and financial institutions, bringing the world one step closer to a global money market controlled by Paulson’s cronies—US-style Crony Capitalism. Crony Capitalism is certainly appropriate here. Paulson’s predecessor at both Goldman Sachs and at Treasury, Robert Rubin, liked to accuse the Asian bankers of Thailand, Indonesia and other lands hit with the speculative attacks of US-financed hedge funds in 1997 of ‘crony capitalism,’ leaving the impression the crisis was home grown in Asia and not the result of a deliberate executed attack by US-financed financial institutions to eliminate the Asia Tiger model among other goals, and turn Asia into the funder of US debt.

Interesting to note is that Rubin is now a Director of Citigroup, obviously one of Paulson’s crony bank ‘survivors,’ and the bank which to date has had to write off the largest sum in toxic waste securitized assets.

The Paulson plan is now clearly part of a project to create three colossal global financial giants—Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase and, of course, Paulson’s own Goldman Sachs, now conveniently enough a bank. Having successfully used fear and panic to wrestle a $700 billion bailout from the US taxpayers, now the big three will try to use their unprecedented muscle to ravage European banks in the years ahead. So long as the world’s largest financial credit rating agencies—Moody’s and Standard & Poors—are untouched by the scandals and Congressional hearings, the reorganized US financial power of Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and JP Morgan Chase could potentially regroup and advance their global agenda over the coming several years, walking over the ashes of a bankrupt American economy made bankrupt by their follies…. This is a fight for the survival of the American Century which has been built since 1939 on the twin pillars of American financial dominance and American military dominance—Full Spectrum, Dominance.” (F. William Engdahl, “Behind the Panic: Financial Warfare and the Future of Global Bank Power” Global Research)

Engdahl may be on to something here. Not only will the present crisis lead to further consolidation in the US by crushing local and regional banks which do not have an umbilical chord connecting them directly to the vault at the US Treasury; it could also throw the European financial system into an “every man for himself” frenzy ultimately leading to the breakup of the EU  (a prospect that is now widely considered) which would allow the US banking cartel to extend its tentacles to the continent as it has with its equities markets.

The damage that the investment banks and their non-bank counterparts (Hedge funds, broker dealers, SIVs etc) have done to the broader economy and the lives of hundreds of millions of people around the world is incalculable. Still, the remedy is simple and straightforward. The banks in question should be forced to establish their solvency according to “mark to market” evaluations (Triple A MBS=$.22 on the dollar) and if they cannot meet minimal capital standards; they should be taken into receivership, their equity shareholders wiped out, their leading executives removed, and they should be transformed into public utilities under the supervision of the Congress of the United States. Once the banks are entrusted to our elected officials, we can move on to the Federal Reserve. The “price fixing” and manipulation of interest rates by privately-owned banks is a failed experiment. It’s time to move on. Abolish the Fed.

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.


Global Panic: Forward to the Past, 2008 – 1929 by Michael Faulkner

Parsing Mr. Paulson’s Bailout Speech: The Unprecedented Giveaway of Financial Wealth by Michael Hudson

Paul Craig Roberts: Has Deregulation Sired Fascism?

The Collapse Of A 300 Year Ponzi Scheme: The Real Debate Is Crony Socialism Or Financial Sovereignty

The Economy Sucks and or Collapse

Turkey wins race for seat on UN Security Council

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18 October 2008, Saturday


After five years of intense lobbying, Turkey was elected on Friday to the United Nations’ influential Security Council for a two-year term starting on Jan. 1.


In an interview before Friday’s election, Babacan said Turkey could play a key role in resolving a standoff between the West and Iran over its nuclear program.

“We are in a position, I should say, to understand sensitivities on both sides,” Babacan said in an interview with Reuters late on Wednesday in New York. The Security Council is the powerhouse of the 192-member United Nations, with the ability to impose sanctions and dispatch peacekeepers. Having won the race for a seat on the council, Ankara may now be in the delicate position of being not only a facilitator in the talks on neighboring Iran’s nuclear program, but also having to vote on possible increased sanctions against its neighbor.


When asked how Turkey would vote if sanctions were on the table, Babacan said: “First of all, we are against nuclear weapons in our region, so within that framework, of course, Turkey is not supporting Iran owning nuclear weapons. … But, on the other hand, we believe this issue can and should be resolved through diplomacy, through dialogue.”

Iran itself was a candidate for temporary membership on the council. It lost the race against Japan in Friday’s vote.


In addition to a possible role in efforts to resolve the Iran conflict, Turkey has been mediating talks between Syria and Israel, lobbying for a regional cooperation platform for the Caucasus and thawing its relations with Armenia, a neighbor with which it has no formal ties. Ankara says as a Security Council member it could better help efforts to broker peace in the much-troubled Caucasus and the Middle East.


via Turkey wins race for seat on UN Security Council

h/t: Cem Ertür

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

The Mission Possible in Afghanistan by David Miliband

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by David Miliband
Times Online
Oct 19, 20008

Christina Lamb is an excellent journalist. When she comes to fear that our work in Afghanistan is Mission Impossible (News Review, last week), it is important to take note. Like her, I have flown with our troops across barren Afghan terrain, seen the difficulty of coordinating the international effort, heard from Afghans their frustrations with government corruption. But it is also important that we do not leap to the wrong conclusion. Her article describes setbacks and successes. I recognise many of the points she makes. So what should we learn? My answer is that we should learn from mistakes, build upon successes and use the coming winter lull in fighting to plan the next phase of the campaign.

Military “victory” in Afghanistan never involved killing all the Taliban or building British suburbia – democratic and genteel– in the Panjshir Valley. If either of these were our aims, we would indeed be on an impossible mission. But our true mission, consistently advocated by the UK government and our allies, has been to use military power to create the space within which Afghan institutions can become strong enough to resist the Taliban. That mission is certainly not impossible.


via The Mission Possible in Afghanistan | David Miliband – Times Online

h/t: Cem Ertür

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.

Global Panic: Forward to the Past, 2008 – 1929 by Michael Faulkner

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by Michael Faulkner
October 19, 2008

Working my way through the acreage of coverage of the banking crisis last week, I came across this gem in The Guardian of October 4th.

Boston Saturday

Senator ……………of Virginia has addressed a letter to …….the governor of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, advocating legislation “making it mandatory on the administrators of banking laws to prevent, by penalisation, such disasters in stock-gambling operations as recently have disgraced our country.”

The dateline for this was November 11th 1929. The item was included in a facsimile double-spread of the paper’s coverage of the crash of that year. The senator was Carter Glass, founder of the U.S. Federal Reserve system and co-sponsor with Henry Bascombe Steagall, of the legislation that led in 1933 to the Glass-Steagall Act enforcing the separation of investment and commercial banking activities.

As my familiarity with this legislation was limited to the knowledge that the Act had been abrogated by Clinton in 1999, I needed more information. I turned to Investopedia where a certain Reem Heakal dispenses sound advice to investors. His brief entry on the Glass-Steagall Act leaves no doubt about his attitude to its repeal:

“To the delight of many in the banking industry…in November 1999 Congress repealed the Glass-Steagall Act with the establishment of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which eliminated the GSA restriction against affiliation between commercial and investment banks. Furthermore, the GLB Act allows banking institutions to provide a broader range of services, including underwriting and other dealing activities.”

This was apparently written recently – but probably not within the last week or so. How about the following, from the same source, for an informed assessment of social responsibility in the financial markets:

“Furthermore, big banks of the post-Enron market are likely to be more transparent, lessening the possibility of assuming too much risk, or making unsound investment decisions. As such, reputation has come to mean everything in today’s market, and that could be enough to motivate banks to regulate themselves.”

It is difficult to read this sort of thing now without bursting into fits of laughter – or, more likely, outbursts of anger. But it should not be forgotten that only weeks ago this was the received wisdom about the way the banking system operated.

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Colin Powell, former secretary of State, endorses Obama

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McClatchy Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — Colin Powell, a retired general who’d often been mentioned as a Republican presidential candidate himself, endorsed Democrat Barack Obama for president Sunday during the taping of NBC’s “Meet the Press” television program.

Powell, who served as President George W. Bush’s secretary of State during Bush’s first term and made the case for an Iraq invasion before the United Nations, said Obama had shown that he had the “intellectual vigor” to be president.


During his Meet the Press appearance, Powell also voiced unease with John McCain’s selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. “I was concerned at the selection of Governor Palin,” Powell said. “I don’t think she’s ready to be president of the United States.”


via McClatchy Washington Bureau | 10/19/2008 | Colin Powell, former secretary of State, endorses Obama

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NSA Spying and the Shredding of the Constitution by Tom Burghardt

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by Tom Burghardt
Global Research, October 18, 2008
Antifascist Calling…

ACLU Files New FOIA Requests for NSA Spying Documents. EFF Charges Telecom Amnesty Unconstitutional

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed new Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests demanding that the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) and the National Security Agency (NSA) disclose “any policies and procedures” that protect Americans’ privacy rights when the ultra-spooky agency “collects, stores and disseminates private U.S. communications.”

The FOIA brief opens a new front in an on-going campaign by the civil liberties’ group to pry information from unaccountable Bush administration spy agencies and their “up-armored” lawyers in the Justice Department.

According to Melissa Goodman, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s National Security Project, “the American public needs to know whether the NSA’s procedures are sufficiently protective of our privacy rights. Unfortunately, there is often no meaningful court oversight of the NSA’s surveillance activities and the NSA is left to police itself,” Goodman said in a press release on Wednesday.

Coming on the heels of last week’s report by ABC News that provided new details of the Agency’s illegal spying on hundreds of aid workers, journalists and soldiers stationed in Iraq, the ACLU is charging that the NSA spied on personal phone calls that “were not in any way related to national security.” Indeed, intimate phone calls intercepted by Army communications specialists were routinely shared and swapped like salacious trophies amongst NSA personnel for their amusement.

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Parsing Mr. Paulson’s Bailout Speech: The Unprecedented Giveaway of Financial Wealth by Michael Hudson

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by Michael Hudson
Global Research, October 18, 2008

Mr. Paulson¹s bailout speech on Monday, October 13 poses some fundamental economic questions: What is the impact on the economy at large of this autumn¹s unprecedented creation and giveaway of financial wealth to the wealthiest layer of the population? How long can the Treasury¹s bailout of Wall Street (but not the rest of the economy!) sustain a debt overhead that is growing exponentially? Is there any limit to the amount of U.S. Treasury debt that the government can create and turn over to its major political campaign contributors?

In times past, national debt typically was run up by borrowing money from private lenders and spent on goods and services. The tendency was to absorb loanable funds and bid up interest rates on the one hand, while spending led to inflationary price increases for goods and services. But the present giveaway is different. Instead of money being borrowed or spent, interest-yielding bonds are simply being printed and turned over to the banks and other financial institutions. The hope is that they will lend out more credit (which will become more debt on the part of their customers), lowering interest rates while the money is used to bid up asset prices ­ real estate, stocks and bonds. Little commodity price inflation is expected from this behavior.

The main impact will be to reinforce the concentration of wealth in the hands of creditors (the wealthiest 10 percent of the population) rather than wiping out financial assets (and debts) through the bankruptcies that were occurring as a result of “market forces”. Is it too much to say that we are seeing the end of economic democracy and the emergence of a financial oligarchy ­ a self-serving class whose actions threaten to polarize society and, in the process, stifle economic growth and lead to the very bankruptcy that the bailout was supposed to prevent?

Everything that I have read in economic history leads me to believe that we are entering a nightmare transition era. The business cycle is essentially a financial cycle. Upswings tend to become economy-wide Ponzi schemes as banks and other creditors, savers and investors receive interest and plow it back into new loans, accruing yet more interest as debt levels rise. This is the “magic of compound interest” in a nutshell. No “real” economy in history has grown at a rate able to keep up with this financial dynamic. Indeed, payment of this interest by households and businesses leaves less to spend on goods and services, causing markets to shrink and investment and employment to be cut back.

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The Failed Presidency of George W. Bush: A Dismal Legacy by Prof. Rodrigue Tremblay

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by Prof. Rodrigue Tremblay
Global Research, October 18, 2008

Author’s Website:


“The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.”Plato (427-347 B.C.)

“We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.” Aesop (620–560 B.C.)

“When fanatics are on top there is no limit to oppression.” H.L. Mencken (1880-1956), American author

“We’ve got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we’ve got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can’t even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car. But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, ‘Stay the course.’ Stay the course? … I’ll give you a sound bite: Throw all the bums out!” Lee Iacocca, former CEO of Chrysler Corporation (book: Where Have All the Leaders Gone?)

Whoever is elected president in the coming November 4 American election will inherit a most miserable situation on nearly all fronts. This is because George W. Bush has been one of the worst presidents the U.S. has ever had, if not the worst. It is widely recognized that he was a below average politician who led his country on the wrong track, both domestically and internationally. Today, only a meager 9 percent of Americans dare to say that their country is moving in the right direction.

As a matter of fact, a very large majority of Americans— both Democrats and Republicans, men and women, residents of cities and of rural areas, high school graduates and college-educated— all say that the United States has been headed in the wrong direction under George W. Bush’s stewardship. Bush’s approval rating reflects the lack of confidence that Americans have in him and his administration. In fact, George W. Bush has recorded the lowest approval rating of any president in the 70-year history of the Gallup Poll. And, around the world, the United States has never had a leader who commands so little respect and confidence. Most people in the U.S. and abroad will find satisfaction in seeing his term come to an end.

This is a terrible indictment of the Bush Administration that has presided over America’s destinies for the last eight years. What is more disconcerting, this all came after George W. Bush won the presidential election in 2000, with fewer popular votes than Democratic candidate Al Gore, after a one-judge-majority decision of the Supreme Court, in effect, gave him the presidency. Therefore, this is an administration that had no widespread democratic mandate to do what it has done. And it has done a lot of things wrong. In fact, many people think this has been a morally bankrupt administration.

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Nader: Helping America’s Homeless People + Response to “the Twins” Debate

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2008 Presidential Candidate Ralph Nader answers a question from the audience regarding his views on helping the homeless.  From the University of Vermont in Burlington, October 5, 2008

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Paul Craig Roberts: Has Deregulation Sired Fascism?

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Democracy Now!

October 17, 2008

Ex-Asst. Treasury Sec. Paul Craig Roberts on Wall St. Bailout: “Has Deregulation Sired Fascism?”

As the Bush administration announces a $250 billion plan to partially nationalize the nation’s banking system, we speak to Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Department in the Reagan administration and a former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. Roberts says the latest bank measure suggests the bailout is “either incompetence or fraud.” [includes rush transcript]

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via Democracy Now! | Ex-Asst. Treasury Sec. Paul Craig Roberts on Wall St. Bailout: “Has Deregulation Sired Fascism?”


Has Deregulation Sired Fascism? By Paul Craig Roberts

Additional Thoughts on the Bailout By Paul Craig Roberts


The Economy Sucks and or Collapse

Thousands of Iraqis Protest U.S. Occupation!

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VOTERSTHINKdotORG October 17, 2008 News Corp

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Iraqis march for freedom from US

Deborah Haynes and Sarmad Ali, Baghdad
Times Online
October 18, 2008

Moqtada al-Sadr, the anti-American Shia cleric, called on Iraqi politicians today to reject an accord to allow US troops to stay in the country beyond 2008, as tens of thousands of his followers protested against the pact in the streets of Baghdad.

In a display of anger at one point, members of the crowd set fire to effigies of George Bush and Condoleezza Rice as well as an American and an Israeli flag.


via Iraqis march for freedom from US – Times Online

h/t: CLG

FBI ACORN Investigation Could Have Chilling Effect On Election

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American Civil Liberties Union
Oct 17, 2008

CONTACT: (202) 675-2312;

ACLU Says DOJ Should Protect Voting Rights, Not Suppress Them

WASHINGTON – In response to news reports that the FBI has initiated an investigation into whether the community group ACORN has committed voter fraud in its voter registration drive, the American Civil Liberties Union urges the government to stop engaging in partisan probes that could cast a chilling effect on voter participation. The Department of Justice should focus instead on the true threat to the elections this November – the widespread possibility that millions of voters could be disfranchised through voter suppression schemes such as unlawful purging and racially motivated voter intimidation.

“The ACLU and other civil rights groups have repeatedly warned Justice Department officials that high-profile, partisan voter fraud investigations before Election Day have a chilling effect on voter turnout,” said Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Legislative Counsel. “Despite this feedback, the Department of Justice and the FBI continue with these highly publicized and partisan efforts prior to this historic election rather than stopping unlawful behavior in states all over the country where eligible voters are being improperly purged from the rolls.”

During a September 8, 2008, meeting with the ACLU and other civil rights groups, Attorney General Michael Mukasey called the smooth running of this election his highest priority. The ACLU urged him to live up to this commitment. Instead, it appears that the government is pouring resources into actions that encourage voter suppression.

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