Memo to Federal Employees: When Is It Ethical to Break the Law? by Stephen Pizzo

Dandelion Salad

by Stephen Pizzo
The Smirking Chimp
March 6, 2008

When is it ethical to fight illegality with illegality? Tough question. Dangerous question.

Nevertheless history is full of now celebrated events that, when boiled down to their essence, amounted to illegal acts that changed nations, changed the world. Revolutions are, for example, the mother of all illegal acts against a state. Yet they are more often than not, celebrated — at least by the victors.

This is dangerous territory, to be sure. Breaking the law to achieve higher ends can be a calculation of monumental subjectivity. Nearly every tyrant in history has had their own list of justifications and claimed lofty goals to justify their lawless actions — including the current occupant of the White House.

But history also tells many a tale of oppressed, abused and exploited populations, forced by the illegal actions of their rulers, to break the law in order to break free themselves of lawless rulers.

Sadly, we live in such times, and in such a country. Over the past seven years the Bush administration and it’s Neo-con supporters have broken nearly every law of State that matters. They have waged an illegal war, kidnapped people, held people without trial and without representation. They have usurped the constitution’s central tenants mandating the separation of powers. They have lied to Congress, lied to the courts, lied to their own people and lied to the world community.

Oh hell, you know the list. There’s more. Lots more. Likely more than we now know.

And, at least so far, they’ve gotten away with it. How? Simple as pie. All they’ve had to do is withhold or destroy the documentary evidence of their crimes.

When the GOP controlled Congress the administration had hundreds of accomplices in this crime. When Democrats regained control of Congress the administration was on its own and resorted to lying under oath, hiding documents and, when that failed, destroyed them.. as they did with the over 5-million White House emails.

When we found out they were spying on us, with the help of the nations phone companies, they demanded Congress give the telecoms immunity from prosecution. Not because the give damn about the telecom’s getting sued, but because they know the telecoms, to save their asses, will spill the beans — the administration’s beans. So the administration has dug its heels in, demanding Congress immunize the telecoms — not to keep them on their side, but to keep them quiet.

(Out here in the real world that’s called “obstruction of justice and witness tampering.” )

Okay, but you know all this already. So what am I getting to.

Recently many of us learned about a web site with only one purpose in life: allowing whistleblowers to post documentation that the government and/or corporations don’t want us to see — ever. Those that objected tried to get it shut down and, for a couple of weeks nearly succeeded.

Wikileaks judge realizes you can’t enjoin the net
by Richard Koman March 3, 2008 @ 7:00 PM

So, the site is back online, after Federal Judge Jeffrey White dissolved his previous order, ordering the site’s U.S. registrar to pull it off the net. In reversing those orders, the judge focused on the First Amendment implications of taking the site down. But even more to the point, the judge noted with regret that his injunctions were just plain useless. (Full Story)

WikiLeaks is back and what I am about to suggest I do not suggest lightly. I am about to suggest that people break the law … which is itself… is breaking the law. (One of society’s little Catch-22’s.)

Since the Bush administration is now running out the clock on its two-terms of unpunished lawlessness, time is short. I know from my years of covering Washington that that town is chuck full of good people, employees working at the agency level. They are career government employees — Republicans, Democrats and Independents. And they’ve had a front row seat to what’s come down during the past seven years. And I am certain that many of them — maybe most of them — are as disgusted and outraged as you are.

* * *

(An aside: The Bush administration has used leaks to accomplish its own goals. For example, they thought leaking the identity Ambassador Joe Wilson’s CIA wife, Valerie Plame, was just the right way bolster their case for war against Iraq. So, in a strange, perverted way, the administration has shown the way for others in government who have stuff they believe could be “helpful” if released, legally or otherwise.)

* * *

Those career employees represent possibly our final hope of catching these guys red-handed. Because it is in their offices, in their files where the evidence lays .. the documents, them minutes of meetings, the executive orders, all the stuff this administration is determined never sees the light of day — or a court of law.

Let me be perfectly clear. I’m not talking about releasing truly sensitive classified intelligence. I’m talking about the kind of documents which, under any other administration would have been fully accessible to the Congress and the public through the Freedom of Information Act. I am talking about the regular business of government, the work-a-day documents of agencies like the FDA, FEMA, Treasury, HHS, and the DOJ. It is those documents which are being withheld because they prove this administration politicized those agencies violating laws in more ways than we can now even imagine.

I am quite certain that in some file in some employee’s Executive Office Building cubicle is the list of just who was on Dick Cheney’s Energy Task Force. In another office are the Executive Orders President Bush signed authorizing torture. In another office are documents showing how the religious right perverted federally-funded family planning operations. Some DOJ secretary is sitting on the evidence that would prove the White House tried to use the Dept. of Justice to suppress minority voting during the past two election cycles and tried to purge US Attorney’s around the country that refuse to bring politically motivated charges against Democratic candidates and office holders.

All that evidence, and mountains more, are destined for oblivion within the next nine months.

Until now federal employees in possession of evidence of a crime had no reasonably safe way of getting that evidence into the public’s hands.

WikiLeaks now offers a way — and in just the nick of time.

Of course breaking the law — even for laudable reasons — is inherently risky business and I can’t in good conscience encourage anyone to disregard the consequences by advising them to simply break the law. M means and ends must be thought through. The ethics of withholding or releasing such materials weighed and re-weighed and the possible consequences clearly understood.

Daniel Ellsberg understood the means, the justification, the ends he wished to achieve and accepted the risks. He broke the law and so doing, changed history.

* * *

(Another Aside: When I was covering banking agencies in Washington during the S&L crisis, federal regulators, unable to get their superiors to act against politically-connected rogues like Charles Keating, would slip me restricted documents. I would write a story and suddenly the agency heads would be forced to act. Finally one day two Treasury agents (with guns even) showed up at my office. They demanded to know who was leaking documents to me. I pointed to my filing cabinet and said,

“Listen you two, it’s all in those files — everything you want to know. I dare you to subpoena’s those files. Then you two better go looking for a new line of work. Because some of the names in those files are your own superiors.”

They left and I never heard a word about it after that. Had it not been for those leaks, to me and other reporters, the looting of the S&Ls would have gone on much longer, and cost taxpayers much more. Those leakers were — are — heroes, of a sort.)

* * *

So, if you’re one of those government workers, and you’re in the mood to blow the whistle on a crime, the URL is

Time is short. The perps are already moving in the shredding machines. They are already making lists of the documents that will be sequestered in the yet-to-be-built Bush “Library” in Texas. By this November it will be too late. They will have succeeded. They will have escaped. The evidence of their crimes will be either destroyed or placed beyond reach.

The best disinfectant is, and always has been, the light of day.

Stephen Pizzo is the author of numerous books, including “Inside Job: The Looting of America’s Savings and Loans,” which was nominated for a Pulitzer. His web site is News For Real.

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.


US Court shuts down leaked doc emporium by Nick Juliano

Ooooooh Shit! No…. Shit. Economic Rollercoaster by Stephen P. Pizzo

Dandelion Salad

by Stephen P. Pizzo
Atlantic Free Press
Friday, 11 January 2008

I am beginning to get the same feeling in my gut that I get when the roller coaster nears the top of the first drop.

Until then it had been all anticipation, anticipation that builds as the cars — click,click, click — inched up the steep incline towards the first crest. Then there’s that singular moment, when the cars reach the top and I get the first look down the drop inches ahead. At that moment the cars seem to pause for second — before they hurtle downward in an uncontrolled rumble.

That’s how I feel right now about the economy. I’ve known for a long time that a helluva drop was coming. But the ride to the top has been so slow, so unthreatening and comfortable that the inevitable drop seemed more theoretical than than anything I had to worry about immediately.

But suddenly here I am — here we are — paused at the top for, who knows how long, peering down an abyss without a clear bottom in sight. And like that same roller coaster moment, we know it’s too late to change our minds, too late to turn back. We are on for the ride — the ride of our lives.

Okay, so enough with the metaphores. The roller coaster thing is really quite insufficient. At least on a roller coaster you know it’ll all be over in a a couple of minutes and that no one is likely to get hurt. Not so when the economy goes bust. When an economy goes bust, “hurt” is the rule, rather than the exception.

Over the past couple of weeks the signs that “the end is near” have been abundant and clear. And this time, thanks to globalization, the pain will global as well.

UN Says U.S. Economy’s Housing Slowdown Risks Global Recession
Jan. 9 (Bloomberg) — Erosion of the U.S. housing market and a weaker dollar might drive the American economy into recession this year and stall world economic growth in 2009, United Nations economists said.

“There is a clear and present danger of the world economy coming to a near standstill,” the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs said in an analysis released today in New York. “The domino effect of a U.S. recession would be to knock down export growth from China, Europe and Japan, in turn reducing their demand for exports from developing countries.” (Full)

I’m not going to waste ink trying to convince neo-con dead-enders still in denial, because those folks will never admit the mess their careless and greed-driven ways are about to cause:

“Some argue that the push back against market forces is a momentary pause in a steady march toward unfettered capitalism. The libertarian Cato Institute recently issued a report in which it found that economic freedom — shorthand for smaller government and fewer regulations — has never been greater.” (NYT: The Free Market: A False Idol After All? )

I have no beef with capitalism, per se. But unfettered capitalism is another matter. By “unfettered” folks like those at the Cato Institute and The Heritage Foundation, mean government should butt the hell out. This is especially true when a bubble is forming, like it was during the 1980’s after they succeeded in getting the feds to deregulate the savings and loan industry.

Later they advised the feds to keep their noses out of the dot-com boom of the 1990s. They claimed the feds were wrong to be nervous about all billions of dollars pouring into startups that lacked explainable revenue models. They said it was not a bubble but rather that the old business cycle had been eclipsed by this “new paradigm.” What no one had the guts to say at the time is that there was nothing new about bullshit and wiseful thinking.

When the Bush administration came to office they crowed that the good Clinton economy had only been an illusion created by the dot-com bubble. And that the nation was in recession because it went bust.

So, what did they do — they loosened lending and oversight of banks and brokers and created a housing bubble to replace Clinton’s dot-com bubble.

Now that bubble has burst, as all bubbles must.

In each case those hauling the big bucks in during those bubbles argued that government intervention would only gum up the works. They complained that government-types always wanted to fix something that wasn’t broken in the first place.

And everyone would back off and let the “good times” roll on. (Remember when Greenspan had a moment of clarity, worrying outloud that he feared the dot-com boom was being fueled by “irrational exuberance?” Remember too how fast he back-peddled when Wall Street bankers, who were feasting off those dot-com losers dumped on him like a ton of gold bricks.)

In each of these bubbles the players would play the “let the markets work their magic” card until the bubble burst. Then they elbowed the naysayers away from the Capitol steps and began rattling their tin cups for help… government help.

They begged the Federal Reserve to pump more money into the system, to low interest rates. They begged federal agencies to intercede in their behalf with creditors. They begged the federal judiciary to side with them against screwed shareholders. Claiming hardship, dumped their pension obligations on the federally run Retirement Benefit Guarantee Fund. And, when all else failed, the sought sanctuary in federal bankruptcy court.

Once the dust has settled and the victims limped off into obscurity, and memories faded, they dragged the old hymnal back out and, without a sign of irony or embarrassment, returned to signing their “Oh Lord, give us tax cuts for the rich,” and got right back on the old message again — “Protect us from the evils of government regulation,”neo-con standards.

During my 62 years I’ve lived through three of these cycles, and “they” have gotten away with it each time. I don’t just blame them. I blame everyone for it. Doesn’t the driver who leaves the keys in a unlocked, parked car share the blame if the car is stolen?

And then there’s the “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me,” thing. “They” get us every time. We fall for the promise that, eventually we will all share in the goodies, if only we let the people who know what their doing, do it unfettered by bothersome rules and regulations.


The flaw in the “unfettered capitalism” theory is so obvious that it staggers. Those who peddle it claim variations on this theme:

An unfettered capitalist will always do the right thing, because it’s in their long-term self-interest to keep the economic system healthy and growing. So why burden businesses with a bunch of bureaucrat-cops who couldn’t run their own businesses if their lives depended on it? Why, they ask a successful business foul its own nest by abusing it?

Three times in the last 30 years we’ve gotten an answer to that rhetorical question:

Way too many of those folks will vigorously and enthusiastically abuse the system when it dawns on them that the enormous short-term gains they can make abusing the system eclipse anything they would make over the long-term toeing the line.


During the 1980s they looted their own savings and loans into insolvency, forcing the feds to step in and replace nearly $200 billion in stolen, federally-insured deposits.

During the 1990s they stuck shareholders with hundreds of billions in worthless dot-com stocks peddled by some of the largest brokerage companies in the country on behalf of venture capital clients.

And now a “credit crunch” has pulled the vail away form the phony-baloney housing bubble. Of course housing is actually just one card in a much larger credit house of cards that’s about to tumble in a heap. Credit cards, auto loans, student loans, reverse mortgages, payday loans.

But wait, there’s more. This time around government itself has finally actually lived up to the Cato types description as part of the problem. Since 2001 the federal government has been run by the Cato types. As a result its embraced the “unfettered” part of that philosophy. Borrowed money spent just the same as earned money, so what the hell, borrow away. And so it has come to pass. Our federal government has become the biggest credit junkie on earth.

Things aren’t much better here in the Golden State. Last night I listened as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger describe California’s budget mess. And what a mess it is. After convincing voters a couple of years ago to let him borrow $38 billion to make ends meet, he seems to have come up $14 billion short for this year’s bills. Now he wants voters to let him borrow a few more billion to keep the lights on, fund schools and pay for a healthcare insurance plan for the state’s uninsured.

Maybe we need to change the way we describe borrowed money. Instead of calling it “borrowing” we could call it “renting.” Because that’s what credit really is — renting money. People borrow stuff they never return all the time. But when you “rent” something you are keenly aware that if you don’t pay the rent, shit happens. Imagine if the a governor, or company CFO announce he/she was “renting $40 billion.” How would voters or shareholders react to that? Differently, I am sure. After all, no business class I ever took taught that a person could borrow themselves to (sustainable) wealth.

Anyway, it’s too late now to do anything about what’s already been done. We are at the top. Up til now, life’s been good — though fueled by borrowed money and on borrowed time. But time’s up. The rent’s due on trillions of dollars of this and that — some of it real, way too much of it little more than wishful thinking.

There’s a part of me that hopes this time the consequences will be so painful that ordinary Americans will finally get it. I hope that, once dust settles from this crash, we all can agree that, just as we need cops to keep people from speeding, we need federal regulators to keep “fetter” the unfettered capitalist just enough to assure they can no longer profit at the expense of everyone else. That they are only allowed to profit when they create real wealth, not hot air.

Mankind has been slow to learn this lesson though. Seems this has been going on long before the the term “capitalism” was even coined. St.Thomas More wrote over 400 years ago, words as true today as they were then:

“I can perceive nothing but a certain conspiracy of rich men procuring their own commodities under the name and title of the commonwealth. They invent and devise all means and crafts, first how to keep safely, without fear of losing, that they have unjustly gathered together, and next how to hire and abuse the work and labour of the poor for as little money as may be.”
St. Thomas More

So it’s not capitalism that’s the problem, but simple, and entirely predictable, human nature. Leave stuff laying around for the picking and, unless there’s a cop on the beat to keep an eye on it, you’ll discover there’s no shortage of pickers waiting to relieve you of it.

Anyway, as I said above, it’s too late to get off this ride now. So my friends, keep your hands and arms inside the ride until it comes to a full stop. It’s gonna be a wild ride.

No S….t

Yesterday, in a bid to reassure nervous investors, Federal Reserve chief, Ben Bernanke, announced that the central bank was going to try to put the toothpaste back into the tube.

The markets weren’t impressed by Bernanke’s hint that the Fed is ready to cut half a precent off the Fed Rate at the end of this month. There was a time, a couple of years ago, when the Fed could have made a difference, not by cutting rates, but raising them to cool the overheated housing market. But the Fed (and Federal banking regulators) succumbed to pressure from the lenders, builders, Security dealers and Realtors who were feasting off the bubble easy credit had created.

Back then no one was interested in lectures from the Fed on sustainability or risk. Then was the time to reel them in, kicking and screaming and accusing the Fed of driving the economy into the tank with higher interest rates. If they had the market would not be in the tank, and heading into recession today.

Here’s why Fed rates cuts now will not — cannot — work.

First here are the only choices the Fed has to choose from now:

1) Avoid a recession by sparking inflation
2) Avoid inflation by causing a recession
3) Have both at the same time — stagflation.

Option 1) The Fed could try to avoid a recession by lowering interest rates and increasing the money supply. The idea would be to encourage more borrowing and another round of consumer spending. That would do it, at least in the short run. But that would just put things back where they were before the housing bubble burst. Consumers are already burdened by more debt than they can manage. And the combination of more borrowing and an economy awash in printed money would surely ignite raging inflation.

Once that happens everyone starts chasing their own tail. Workers demand a raise to keep up with the cost of living. Those higher wages spark more inflation. Consumers can feel their cash losing value in their wallets and purses and therefore exchange (spend) them for “stuff” because “stuff” at least is increasing in value. The demand for “stuff” thusly drives the price of “stuff” even higher .. and on and on it goes. (Gold hit $900 an oz. today, not because gold is intrinsically worth that, but because gold is the “stuff” of choice for investors when paper money starts losing value.)

Option 2) The inevitable surge in inflation would eventually force the Fed to increase interest rates. But raising rates would drive already debt-burdened consumers even deeper into trouble. Credit card companies tie their rates to benchmark rates, like the prime rate. Then they add their usurious mark up to that. So, when the Fed raises it’s rate it trickles through the entire system. Credit card rates jump from an already unconscionable 20% to $25%. Be one day late on paying your monthly minimum payment and that rate can soar above 30%. (Eat your heart of out John Gotti.)

And then there’s the already moribund housing market. Higher interest rates now would be like trying to cure a guy with cirrhosis of the liver by putting him on a straight moonshine diet.

Option 3) Stagflation is often described as getting hit with the worst aspects of a recession and runaway inflation at the same time. I lived through the last bout of stagflation, during the Carter administration. His predecessor, Gerald Ford, had left things in quite a hash, and it only got worse during the Carter administration. All Ford did was have a few lapel buttons printed up that read: W.I.N. — which stood for “Whip Inflation Now!” Somewhere in the bowels of the Capitol or in a dark corner of the White House basement are boxes full of rusting and dusty WIN buttons.

At this point in time, stagflation this looks like the most likely outcome of the troubles that face the economy. If we get out of this mess with just a three or four years of stagflation, we should consider ourselves lucky because, with Options 1 & 2 clearly not a solution, stagflation is the only option standing in way of an old-time depression.

The markets know that too. Which is why Bernanke’s rate cut promise yesterday was met this morning with a resounding vote of no confidence from Wall Street. That should be no surprise since Wall Street firms, having had a big hand in creating this mess in the first place, may be the only folks on earth who know where all the investment zombies they created are hidden.

As for Bernanke’s promise that the Fed is ready to do whatever it can to head off recession, it’s not that it’s too little, it’s that it’s too late. Fed inaction when they really could have had a meaningful impact, had now made the Federal Reserve all but irrelevant. Bernanke is now just another captive rider on the roll coaster with the rest of us.

I wonder if he’ll scream?

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.


Bernanke Finds his Voice By Mike Whitney

The Deflation Time-bomb By Mike Whitney

Economic Democracy & a Guide to the 2008 Presidential Election by Richard C. Cook

No Jobs for the New Economy or the Old By Paul Craig Roberts

What Now? Benazir Bhutto was a dead-woman walking the day she set foot back on Pakistani soil by Stephen P. Pizzo

Dandelion Salad

by Stephen P. Pizzo
Atlantic Free Press
Thursday, 27 December 2007

Benazir Bhutto was a dead-woman walking the day she set foot back on Pakistani soil. It was only a matter of time, and that time came today.

While I’d like to lay at least some blame for Bhutto’s assassination on Bush administration meddling in Middle East politics, I can’t. Instead the blame for this latest regional bloodletting lands squarely and exclusively in the lap of what I have come to think of as “Muslimocracy” — the primacy of Islamic law, or Sharia, which is still deeply rooted in the souls and minds of the people of that ever-troubled region.

Muslimocracies view the non-Muslim world as their enemy, and anyone within a Muslim nation who does not share that view, is viewed as a friend of their enemy. That is what got Bhutto killed today.

I rarely agree with George W. Bush on anything, but he was right once. It was when he was running for President the first time. Back then he warned against wasting US lives and resources on “nation building” efforts abroad.

Then he got elected and embarked on the most audacious, aggressive and illogical nation building effort in modern history. As a result the world got to see the wisdom of Bush’s original position and the folly of his current one.

Today, when someone criticizes Bush for trying to bring democracy to the backward Muslim nations in the Middle East, he scolds them for displaying “the soft bigotry of low expectations.”

Well, sometimes low expectations are not the product of bigotry, but data. As a self-described country boy Bush surely must have heard some crusty old farmer remark, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t force it to drink.”

Which brings me back to Pakistan — et al. You can lead them towards democracy but you can’t make them democratic. And, in the rare instances where they apparently relent, they use democracy to enshrine Sharia law, which is to democracy a lynching is to justice. (Remember how the Palestinians embrace of democratic elections resulted in the elevation of Hamas. And, if free and open elections were held today in Egypt the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood would be swept in to power.)

As I’ve noted in more than one previous post, Pakistan is not our ally in the war on terror. Neither is Iraq. Nor is Egypt. And most certainly not Saudi Arabia. Those countries are our allies the same way a cobra is an ally of its snake charmer.

Unreconstructed Islam has been and remains Muslim country’s kryptonite against super-power strength. The Soviets learned that the hard way when they tried to occupy Afghanistan. The US is now locked in the same futile exercise of imperial hubris in both Afghanistan and Iraq, and possibly soon in Iran and Pakistan. It was a lesson learned a century earlier by the British, as immortalized by Kipling:

Now, it is not good for the Christian’s health
to hustle the Aryan brown,
For the Christian riles, and the Aryan smiles
and he weareth the Christian down;
And the end of the fight is a tombstone white
with the name of the late deceased,
And the epitaph clear: “A Fool lies here,
who tried to hustle the East.”

Of course somethings have changed over a century. In particular, nuclear weapons, of which Pakistan possesses as many as 100 air and missile-mounted nukes. If one or more of those active nuclear weapons falls into the hands of al Qaida we can be assured they will used it to demonstration just how much Allah hates non-Muslims. You don’t have to be a Neo-con to believe that.

Which begs the question — in light of the latest democracy-farce being played out in Pakistan, how should we treat the kind real threats posed by a radicalized Muslim Middle East?

In a word: containment.

We won the Cold War largely by containing the Soviet Union’s expansionist ambitions. And we won that long war without the level of bloodshed we’ve already experienced in Iraq, or the amount of bloodshed we will incur if we continue trying to force these people to drink from the democratic pond. Instead we told the nations of the Soviet bloc that, if they wanted communism, fine, it was all theirs. But, we made clear, don’t look for any financial, political or military help from us. In essence we let them stew to death in their own dysfunctional communist pots.

The Muslim Middle East is currently addicted to its own dysfunctional social/religious philosophical code, unreconstructed Islam. And that will continue to poison almost any relationships they try to form with the non-Muslim modern world. Christianity had to re-calibrate hundreds of years ago in order to survive and coexist with scientific and social progress. Islam has yet to do so and is therefore hopelessly out of step with modernity.

In the Muslim Middle East today, half-educated Mullahs have more influence over what their people know and believe than anyone inside or outside their countries. And much of what they believe is the very reason their countries are backward, violent places. For example, half their population — women — are barred from contributing to their society’s governance, commercial or even social development — a shocking waste of human capital for countries that need all the human capital they can get. But it was exactly that kind of misogynistic ignorance that played a role in Bhutto’s death today.

There is only one cure for addiction, be it addiction to a substance or a crippling ideology, and that’s to let the addicted hit rock bottom. The addicted must be ready to shake their addiction. Until then they are nothing but black holes for charity, advice or other efforts to save them from their themselves. Western military and financial aid to nations like Pakistan and Iraq are like financing a saloon for alcoholics.

Instead the west should treat the nations of the nations of Muslim Middle East the same way we treated the nations of the Soviet Bloc. Those nations in the Middle East that refuse to disengage their governments, military, security forces, schools and financial institutions from the yoke of unreconstructed Islam should be held at arms length by the rest of the word. In other words, they should be contained and isolated.

Bush keeps saying that we need to believe terrorist when they say they want to destroy us. Fine, so we also need to believe them when they say they want Sharia law. Well fine, so get the hell out of the way and let them have it — let them have Sharia law in spades.

But what about those nukes in Pakistan, and maybe someday in Iran? The west has to get this one right — and the first time. The west should be ready to use its military assets, but with a kind of care and precision that’s been woefully lacking of late. The only national interest the US has in that region should be defined as containment and doing whatever needs doing to insure that those nukes in Pakistan can never be used, by anyone, against anyone.

No one can say exactly what that means in what the military likes to refer to as “kinetic action.” But blunt force bombing — the first choice among Bush administration hawks — must be reserved should the day ever arrive when everything else has failed. Instead the Pentagon and CIA should use some to the $60 billion a year we give them for intelligence activities to get their hands on those nukes and get their hands on the key individuals in those countries who produced and/or proliferated them. And frankly I don’t give fig how they go getting that done. Because when it comes to nuclear weapons it only takes one to ruin your day, and the day of a few hundred thousand close friends and relatives.

Finally, what about oil? If we contain the nations of the Muslim Middle East we can kiss our oil supply from there goodbye. What about that? Well the day was coming when the US would have to get off Middle East oil one way or another. We could have — should have — done so slowly, methodically and in ways that did not cause widespread hardship. But we didn’t, so now we will just have to bite the bullet, declare a national energy emergency and do what we have to do to get by for a while. Sorry. But sometimes there are no sacrifice-free options in the world of real poliks.

If we haven’t learned these lessons yet we surely will. The only question is how many more US troops and treasure will have to be wasted beating our heads against that Islamic wall before we figure it out. They don’t want democracy, at least not yet. And they won’t want it until they get an industrial dose of what they keep telling us they want, Sharia (Islamic) law.

Which is why I say to them, “bon appetite.” Give us a ring when you’ve had a belly full.

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.


Who killed Benazir Bhutto? The main suspects by Jeremy Page

Passings – Benazir Bhutto Left A Lifelong Impression by Joe Shea

Benazir Bhutto assassinated at rally + The life of Benazir Bhutto (videos) + more

Ich bin ein Berliner (That goes for you too.) by Stephen P. Pizzo

Dandelion Salad

by Stephen P. Pizzo
Atlantic Free Press
Friday, 12 October 2007

As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air – however slight – lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.

– Justice William O. Douglas

I was born the very day World War II ended. My fellow postwar “Baby Boomers” grew up on old black and white documentaries of that war and the events leading up to it. But those films never really answered the most important question, a question that has nagged me, and I suspect most of my generation

How did Germany and the German people become the Mrs. O’Leary’s cow of an entire continent? How could a culture re-formed during the Renaissance create a horror like Auschwitz?

How does something that extraordinary happen? It’s a question that has not only burdened American Baby Boomers, but three generations of postwar Germans as well. But for them it’s much more than just a historical curiosity. For postwar Germans it’s also been a nagging sense of collective guilt – guilt about events they had nothing to do with, but guilt nonetheless. It’s a guilt built on the realization that their parents and grand parents either participated in, supported and/or enabled what happened over half a century ago – or, at the very least, did nothing to prevent or stop it.

Of course the fascist rulers of the Third Reich ruled with a heavy hand. So it’s not hard to understand why so many Germans simply laid low rather than oppose the regime.


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. This material is distributed without profit.

De-Baathifiy America – Bring on the Wimps by Stephen P. Pizzo

Dandelion Saladby Stephen P. Pizzo
Atlantic Free Press
Saturday, 15 September 2007

I have a radical proposal:

de-Baathify the US.

Well, actually, it’s already begun. The first round came in November 2006. The next round is scheduled for November 2008, and it promises to be much more bloody.

Yes, that’s what I’m saying, that Republicans are America’s Baathists. The similarities between ruling members of the Republican party and the now purged Iraqi Baathist leaders are really quite stunning once you start listing them:

  • Institutionalized cronyism
  • Insulated from their own people
  • An Orwellian affection for propaganda
  • Wealth concentrated in the hands of the few
  • Truth and lies interchangeable, as required
  • Spying on their own citizens
  • Imprisonment without due process
  • Sanctioning torture
  • A distain for diplomacy
  • Trigger happy
  • In Iraq it was the minority Sunni Baath party that lorded over majority Shiites for decades. Here it’s been GOP Baathists pushing everyone around. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m not accusing Democrats of being Shiites. No. That would be an uncalled for slur on Iraq’s Shiites.)

    But the Republicans are demonstrably America’s Baathists. And it’s becoming increasingly clear that the majority of Americans are on to them, fed up with their corruption, incompetence, brutality and near-total disregard for the rights, needs and well-being of their own citizens.

    So I say, enough of all this bi-partisan bullshit. I don’t know about you but I’ve seen very little evidence that Democrats can play that game. They keep showing up for each match only to forfeit the game. Then they retreat to the locker room to whine to reporters that the other side cheats and fights dirty. Clearly we are going to have to clear the field of play for Democrats before they’ll play.

    But what if we really do de-Baathify America by canning all GOP candidates? Then what, you ask. We’d be stuck with those perennial losers, the Democrats. The wimps who allowed – hell, even aided and abetted – the GOP-Baathist’s 8-year reign of murder and malfeasance.

    Yep, that’s true. But look at it this way: would a wimp have invaded Iraq? Not a chance.

    So right there we’d already be half a trillion dollars and who knows how many lives, ahead. After all we now know what we get with testosterone-poisoned, super-macho, chicken-hawk GOP-Baathists. I don’t know about you, but I long for some wimpish rulers. You remember, the kind of leaders who, rather than curling up every night with Janes Defense Weekly, actually stay up nights pouring over studies on things like public health, national infrastructure and the environment. You know, policy wonks, nerds, wimps, Democrats.

    So let the purge begin. Sweep the GOP-Baathists into the trash heap of history where they can join their predecessors; the fascists, communists and Iraqi Baathist leaders. And if the GOP-Baathists really want to catch up with al-Qaeda leaders, they will only have a short wait before the Islamo-fascists land on the same trash heap with them.

    Though we did pick up some handy tips during our de-Baathication of Iraq; like the importance weighing a perp in order to calculate how much air to leave beneath his trap door.

    Of course we Americans don’t hang our deposed/disgraced leaders — though we occasionally encourage other nations to do so. And, as tempting as it suggest we make an exception in this particular case, I will not.

    Instead I will be satisfied to settle for precisely what George W. Bush says he wants — to let historians settle those accounts. And they will. Because, once we de-Baathify this place historians will no longer have waste their time de-bullshiting the information flow. With GOP-Baathists gone, and along with them their Baghdad-Bobs, like Tony Snow, historians will simply have the unvarnished truth from which to draw their conclusions. And the truth and history will indeed settle those accounts. Hey, I know how you feel. You’ve grown to hate the Democrats almost as much as you hate the GOP- Baathists. But put that aside for now. De-Baathify America in November 08 and put the wimps in charge for a while and let them do exactly what the GOP-Baathists keep warning us they will do. Let “cut and run” liberals cut and run from Iraq. Because, like the Vietnamese did when we cut and ran from their civil war, the Iraqis will sort things out in their own ways. Will it be messy? Duh. But it’s messy now. Once our new wimpish leaders leave Iraq they’ll have $10 billion a month more to spend on wimpish things, like fixing our own crumbling bridges, providing hospitals and health care and funding world-class educations for our own children. But, if we leave Iraq will “the terrorists win” and spread their influence in the Middle East? Maybe. But only the people in that region can – so to speak – de-Baathify their own countries. And they will — eventually. Will “the terrorists” attack us here at home? They’ll try. But with a fraction of fraction of the money we are wasting “fighting them over there,” we can make America as safe as one can. Even so, shit will happen. (At least with the wimps in charge we’ll have medical care for the wounded.) So that’s where I am now. That’s what it’s come to for me. My new bottom line: De-Baathify America and turn the place over to the wimps – the Democrats. Give America and Americans a decade or so to heal. Give us, and our children and grandkids a new New Deal, a few years of re-balancing the distrubition of wealth, funding of those wimpish social programs, of allowing real scientists be real scientists, a few years of rest for our brave but exhausted troops, some long overdue –and hopefully not too late — forced reductions in carbon emissions and a decade or two of balancing our national checkbook … that kind of stuff.. That’s what I want — those kinds of “wimpish” leaders. Did I say please? P-l-e-a-s-e.

    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. This material is distributed without profit.

    Attack of the Wallmart-istas? by Stephen P. Pizzo

    Dandelion Salad

    by Stephen P. Pizzo
    Atlantic Free Press
    Thursday, 30 August 2007

    Maybe I stayed in the news business for too long after my radiation badge turned red. Maybe I’m suffering from Post-traumatic, Restless News Syndrome, or something. But I have this notion stuck in my head lately. It’s kind of like when I get an annoying tune stuck in my head, this notion pops up and up again, especially after I read the news.

    Okay so, at the risk of exposing myself as the nut I have always secretly suspected I would someday be proven to be, here it is — my notion:

    How long before before they get it? It can’t be far off. So when will day arrive when America’s once vibrant and hyper-patriotic working class wakes up and realizes they’re at the receiving end of one of the greatest screwings in human history? And then, rather than reaching for their car keys to rush off to their second low-paying job of the day, they reach instead for one of their many guns.”

    A number of things got me thinking about that. Like this story which ran earlier this week:

    US Most Armed Country With 90 Guns Per 100 People

    Reuters — Tuesday 28 August 2007: The United States has 90 guns for every 100 citizens, making it the most heavily armed society in the world, a report released on Tuesday said. U.S. citizens own 270 million of the world’s 875 million known firearms, according to the Small Arms Survey 2007 by the Geneva-based Graduate Institute of International Studies. About 4.5 million of the 8 million new guns manufactured worldwide each year are purchased in the United States, it said. “There is roughly one firearm for every seven people worldwide. Without the United States, though, this drops to about one firearm per 10 people,” it said.

    Yikes. Al-Qaeda, eat your heart out. Americans have more firepower than you do. Which begs the question: when should the US movers and shakers stop worrying about al-Qaeda and start worring about al-Smith? When will all those WallMart shoppers morph into a mob of angry, well-armed Wallmartatistas?

    Or is that just crazy — and me too for even considering such a thing happening in America? Maybe I am just crazy, or at least heading to Crazyland. But before you pass that judgement on me, let’s run through a few of the news threads that led me down this dark and troubling path.


    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. This material is distributed without profit.

    Gunga Din Takes a Vacation by Stephen P. Pizzo

    Dandelion Salad

    by Stephen P. Pizzo
    Atlantic Free Press
    Friday, 03 August 2007

    You may talk o’ gin an’ beer
    When you’re quartered safe out ‘ere,
    An’ you’re sent to penny-fights an’ Aldershot it;

    But if it comes to slaughter
    You will do your work on water,
    An’ you’ll lick the bloomin’ boots of ‘im that’s got it.

    Sure, you turn the lights out if you’re going away on vacation for a month. But the Iraqi parliament apparently went a step further when they left for a month away from away from the troubles in Baghdad – they turned off the water too.

    BAGHDAD, Iraq — Much of the Iraqi capital was without running water Thursday and had been for at least 24 hours, compounding the misery in a war zone and the blistering heat at the height of summer…Residents and local officials said large sections of the city had been virtually dry for six days because the electricity grid can’t provide enough power to run water purification and pumping stations. (Full story)

    Oh, and did I mention it’s 117 degrees in Baghdad this week? Of course, it is a dry heat…. which is one of those good news, bad news facts. This year it’s extra dry heat. Here’s an inconvenient fact – it’s drier in Baghdad this August than it was five Augusts ago when Saddam the Sadist ran the place. Back then, (before the Iraqis were liberated,) they had water every day. They also had electricity at least 18 hours every day.

    Today Iraqis consider themselves lucky if they get 2-hours of juice a day.

    That was before August 1. Now it’s down to an hour of electricity a day, and no water. Not a drop. Not for even a minute a day.

    And did I mention it’s 117 degrees there now? So hot that even the pampered members of Iraq’s useless-as-tits-on-a-boar parliament skipped town for the month.

    Meanwhile, back in Washington, the US Congress is about to bug out for a month as well. And you can be sure President Bush will be flying air-condition Air Force One, well-stocked with bottled water, to Texas for his annual Crawford ranch vacation as well.

    At least the Iraqi parliament had an excuse most of us can at least understand, if not approve of – it’s hotter than billy-blue blazes in Iraq in August, and they’re tired of dodging hourly assassination attempts.

    What’s Washington’s excuse for skipping town?

    Simple.. in a word their excuse is … “Petraeus.”

    Democrat or Republican, just ask them what the hell they’re waiting for before calling an end to Bush’s Vietnam and, to a person, they’ll chirp “General Petraeus.” They’ll explain that they understand you are hearing a lot of bad news about what’s going on in Iraq, but that such “anecdotal” reports are not useful. They are waiting to hear the real deal from our man on the ground there, General David Petraeus, when he reports to Congress in September.

    Well, should you run into one your elected reps during, what we can assume will be their cool and well-hydrated August vacation, you might mention that, unless the 8-million severely under-hydrated folks in Baghdad are lying about their current “living” conditions, we don’t need to wait for General Petraeus’ report. We already know enough to know that that the US’s misadventure in Iraq has failed.

    And now we learn that we’ve even failed as Baghdad’s Gunga Din. After four years, $600 billion dollars, 3700 dead US soldiers and who knows how many tens of thousands of dead Iraqis, we/they can’t even provide the hot, thirsty, and increasingly dirty, Baghdadians the most abundant resource on earth… water.

    So it’s a 117 degrees in Baghdad, and the public water system is dry as a bone.

    Let’s repeat that until it sinks in:

    It’s 117 degrees in Baghdad and there’s no water.

    It’s 117 degrees in Baghdad and there’s no water.

    What could General Petreaus possibly tell us in September that would mitigate, explain or justify that single fact? What could he possibly report that would convince congress and the American people that 136,000 US troops and half a trillion dollars of our treasure have produced, or can produce, positive results for Iraq or the Iraqi people when one month before his testimony it’s 117 degrees in Baghdad and there’s no water service in that nation’s capitol city?

    How can he explain away an elected Iraqi parliament that leaves it’s own people in such dire – life threatening – conditions to go on vacation for a month? A parliament that since it was elected has produced not a single piece of useful legislation. A parliament whose members, family, friends and militias have stolen more US aid money than they’ve invested into their nation’s infrastructure. How do you think they’re paying for those vacations aboard – trips they try to disguise as official business or for medical treatment. Even when the Iraqi parliament has not declared a mass vacation, up to half of them don’t show up for work because they are off gallivanting the globe.

    “More than half the members of parliament, ministers and senior officials are on vacation, sick leave or on official assignment abroad” at any given time, a government official said on condition of anonymity. “It is common practice now that they spend more time abroad than in their offices. The main reason is their fear of being targeted inside the country.” (Full Story)

    So if you are unlucky enough to run into one of our vacationing members of Congress this August, here’s all you have to do. Walk right up to them and, when they reach out to shake your hand, grab and don’t let go. Look them right in the face and recite the following:

    “It’s 117 degrees in Baghdad and there’s no water.

    It’s 117 degrees in Baghdad and there’s no water.

    It’s 117 degrees in Baghdad and there’s no water.

    What the holy hell are you waiting for?”

    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. This material is distributed without profit.

    All Fall Down by Stephen P. Pizzo

    Dandelion Salad

    by Stephen P. Pizzo
    Atlantic Free Press
    Thursday, 02 August 2007

    I wonder how many of those Minnesota commuters were listening to news on their car radios as they approached the I-35W bridge yesterday afternoon? Those who were probably had just listened to GOP members of the House urging their Democratic party colleagues to hurry up and pass legislation re-authorizing the “Terrorist Surveillance Act.”

    “It is absolutely vital at the time of a heightened threat environment to realize the present system simply is not as responsive as it needs to be in terms of providing the flexibility and speed in acting on actionable intelligence,” pronounced White House spokesman, Tony Snow.

    Maybe that’s what the victims thought was happening as the bridge collapsed under them yesterday — that “the terrorists,” had struck again. After all, since 2001 terrorism has been about the only threat to American’s safety, lives and wellbeing this administration mentions — and they mention it often.

    So, as those poor folks dropped 65 feet towards the Mississippi below, surely they must have figured that was the cause of their pending misfortune – terrorism.

    Those who survived the fall quickly learned that it wasn’t terrorism at all. What killed or almost killed those Americans wasn’t al-Qaeda but al-George and his administration’s neglect, mismanagement, misdirection and mis-allocation of our nation’s attention, priorities and resources.

    The day before the I-35W span collapsed we learned that the war in Iraq will eventually drain the US treasury of somewhere between $1- to $2 trillion dollars. Not a dime of that will be available to perform critical, and already too-long delayed, repairs to the tens of thousands of bridges and overpasses that carry tens of millions of Americans every day.

    In 2005 the American Society of Civil Engineers reported that $1.6 trillion is needed over a five-year period to repair American’s crumbling bridges, highways and other critical public infrastructure.

    We didn’t, we haven’t and we likely won’t do that. Instead that money is being spent to rebuild Iraq’s infrastructure, much of which will either be promptly blown up by Iraqis themselves or simply left to rot.

    U.S. overseers and Iraq rebuilding failures
    International Herald Tribune — July 26, 2007: The report, issued Wednesday, is the first of a planned series of audits of Western contractors that have received large slices of the roughly $40 billion in U.S. taxpayer money that has been spent on the troubled program to rebuild Iraq. Previous audits have looked at individual projects but never the performance across Iraq of a single contractor. (Full Story)

    Meanwhile, back here at home, a giant 83-year old steam pipe blows leaving a huge crater in the middle of a New York City street, a 40-year old bridge in America’s heartland collapses during rush hour, our air traffic control system can just barely operate, saddled by failing, antique computer systems and a shortage of runways. Meanwhile air passengers become accustomed to sleeping on cots at terminals as an ever-growing number of flights are delayed or canceled.

    Over at the NOAA another day of reckoning looms. Even as global warming threatens more Katrina-type hurricanes, there are no replacements being readied for America’s aging fleet of weather satellites.

    I’m not going to belabor the point. You get it. The bottom line is that you are more likely to be killed or injured on American soil by a falling bridge or plane or by falling into a giant sink hole than by a terrorist. And not just a little more likely, but exponentially more likely.

    As I write this I am waiting to hear what George Bush is going to say about yesterday’s bridge collapse in a scheduled morning news conference. We know what he would have said had a terrorist flown a plane into that bridge. He would have come out swinging, demanding that we “connect the dots,” to discover how such a thing was allowed to happen. He would also use the opportunity to demand more money to fight terrorism and support for proposals to trim back more of our domestic rights so he can protect us from just that kind of threat.

    And, we’d likely go along with him too. He is certainly not going to suggest we need to “connect the dots.” on yesterday’s bridge collapse, because those dots lead right to Oval Office and Congress.

    Yesterday’s disaster wasn’t terrorism. Al-Qaeda didn’t take down that bridge. Nor will al-Qaeda bring down who knows how many other bridges, killing who knows how many more Americans in the years ahead. No it wasn’t. The “terrorist” this time wasn’t al-Qaeda. It was the Bush Administrationm, and Congress’ misplaced priorities that killed those Americans yesterday. It was the product of the fatal combination of imperial hubris, military/industrial primacy and the blind greed military spending it fosters once it gets on a roll.

    How ironic that it was Dwight D. Eisenhower who championed and built American’s interstate highway system back in the 50’s.

    The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, popularly known as the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act, was enacted on June 29, 1956, when a hospitalized Dwight D. Eisenhower signed this bill into law. Appropriating $25 billion for the construction of 40,000 miles of interstate highways over a 10-year period, it was the largest public works project in American history to that point.

    The money was handled in a highway trust fund that paid for 90 percent of highway construction costs with the states required to pay the remaining 10 percent. It was expected that the money would be generated through new taxes on fuel, automobiles, trucks and tires. It is said he drew six lines (three vertical and three horizontal) on a piece of paper and told his people to base their freeway system on it. (Full)

    It was also as Eisenhower who, on leaving office tried to warn us of the danger created at the nexus of politics, business and the military.

    “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

    Eisenhower was, of course prescient. We ignored that warning and so it has come to pass. The proof lies among the bodies and wreckage of the I-35W bridge. What Ike could not foresee was that this ascendant military-industrial complex would end up also destroying the crown jewel of his administration — our national highway and transportation system.

    Anyway, that’s the way it is. So rather than stockpiling duct tape and plastic to protect yourself from a terrorist attack, it might be wiser to stock your cars with a helmet and life preserver for yourself and each passenger.

    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. This material is distributed without profit.


    A Metallurgist’s Insights Into the Minneapolis Bridge Disaster by Joel S. Hirschhorn

    Putting the Dems on Suicide Watch by Stephen P. Pizzo

    Dandelion Salad

    by Stephen P. Pizzo
    Atlantic Free Press
    Saturday, 28 July 2007

    How does one go about talking a political party out of committing suicide? That’s the question. No, I’m not talking about the Republicans. It’s too late for them. I’m talking about the Democrats.
    Recent polls show that Democratic Party faithful seem determined to do to their party what Republicans did to their party when they chose George W. Bush to be their top dog.

    And that’s precisely what Democrats will do if they nominate Hillary Clinton as their candidate for President.

    I know, I’ve been saying that for months, beating that horse and beating it.. but it’ll not only still kicking, but stronger than ever. So, maybe I’m wrong. I am wrong about half the time, so this could be one of those times.

    Still I can’t shake the ominous feeling that Democrats are sleepwalking their party off a cliff, led by Pied Piper Hillary. My gut tells me that, if they nominate Hillary there are only two possible outcomes, both bad;

    1) She will run and lose, sticking us with another Republican in the White House,
    2) Or, she’ll run and win sticking us with another Bill and Hillary White House soap opera.

    “But Steeeeeeeeve,” Hillary supporters squeal, “Bill Clinton was a great president. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have him back in the White House, even if it’s only as First Gentleman?”

    Ah…. yeah… well, ah, let me mull that for a moment ………………….



    Reality Check Time – Again… by Stephen P. Pizzo

    Dandelion Salad

    by Stephen P. Pizzo
    Wednesday, 18 July 2007

    What are the odds you’re going to get murdered today? Are they higher or lower than they were yesterday, or last week, or ten years ago?

    Say you make it through today, what about tomorrow? What are the odds you’ll get killed tomorrow… and when I say killed, I don’t mean falling in the shower, or run over by a drunk driver while crossing the street – I mean killed violently by another person?

    Let’s take the question down one level. What are the odds someone you love, care about or just know, will be slain today, tomorrow, or even during your entire lifetime ?

    I figure the odds of any of those things happening to you or anyone you know range somewhere between slim and slimmer. And, despite the steady flow of fear mongering out of Washington, those odds have changed little, if any, over the last six years.

    Since none of us likes to think about dying, we try not to. Which is why we need to force the issue every now and then. Otherwise the terrorists win. Which terrorists? Both kinds. The Islamically-poisoned ones that want you to live in fear, and our own mis-leaders in Washington, who have found it most useful to leverage terrorist threats to keep you living in fear.

    If you took to heart every claim or threat made by these two groups on any given day, you’d never leave the house.

    Al-Qaida keeps claiming that the attacks of 9/11 were the first of many to come. And that the next attacks will be even bigger.


    Of Battered Wives and the US Congress by Stephen P. Pizzo (impeachment)

    Of Battered Wives and the US Congress

    Dandelion Salad

    by Stephen P. Pizzo
    Tuesday, 17 July 2007

    Is it just me, or have you noticed it too? Something is afoot — maybe. All of a sudden I am reading and seeing on TV individuals who wear suits and can quote the US constitution from memory, talking about the impeachment of George W. Bush and his sidekick.

    My first clue was when I read last week that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told a radio station, “We can’t take impeachment off the table.”

    Holy whiplash, Batman, isn’t that exactly the opposite of what she’s been saying since crowned Speaker last January?  What happened there?

    Then there was the extraordinary interview Bill Moyers did last week with John Nichols of The Nation magazine and Bruce Fein, a former Justice Department official during the Reagan administration who drafted articles of impeachment against Bill Clinton.

    (If you missed it, you shouldn’t have. Here is the video.)

    Neocons may dismiss Nichol’s views as those of a “known liberal,” but what about Fine? No lib there. Fine is the guy conservatives tapped to craft and pen the case against Clinton. Now he wants to do the same thing for Bush – and for precisely the same reasons.

    Both men explained that impeachment, always framed by mainstream media as a “constitutional crisis,” is actually precisely the opposite. Impeachment, they explained, is the solution to a constitutional crisis. The real constitutional crisis occurs when Congress fails to protect and maintain the balance of power the Founders enshrined in the constitution.

    “The Founders gave congress the power to impeach as the remedy to an imperial presidency,” Fine noted.

    Of course those on the right will claim that any talk of impeaching Bush and Cheney is purely political – as though that were something bad. Hello! Of course it’s political. It’s a political process created and delineated by the cornerstone political document – our US constitution. You remember that the document, the user manual for our democracy. (Maybe it would be more popular if the Founders had entitled it, “Democracy for Dummies.”)

    Back when Republicans pushed to impeach Bill Clinton for perjury Democrats screamed, “politics,” too. But Fine explained that Bill Clinton got himself in that jam by trying to put himself above the law.  Never mind that what he lied about was hardly a matter of national security, all Fine cares about it that he lied, committed a crime – perjury. The rest is simply back-story.

    Fine says that there is now plenty of evidence that Bush and Cheney too have lied — more than once and about matters far more serious than Clinton’s little walk on the wild side. Fien says that is why Congress should have begun impeachment hearings long ago. Not so much to remove Bush and Cheney from office, but as way of laying down constitutional markers, lines in the sand over which Congress was not about to allow the executive branch to simply ignore.

    Fien adds that even now that their term in office is short, Congress should still proceed with impeachment hearings in order to reestablish and reinforce the constitutional balance – the whole “co-equal branches” business – as the Founders intended.

    But Congress still has not done so. Will they?

    Democrats worry that trying to impeach Bush and Cheney would blow back on them in the 2008 elections, by making them appear petty and politically motivated. A perception which is, of course  their own damn fault. If they hadn’t spent the last six years acting like such a pack of conniving little weasels maybe we’d be less likely to jump such a conclusion.

    Now that they’ve richly earned that reputation they’ll have to undo it. And the only way to do that is to start talking to us straight from the heart. Believe me, we do know the difference. We can feel it, even more than we hear it. We know when you’re just jerking us off – again. We and, while far and few between, we know immediately when a pol has had it and suddenly starts blathering truth. And we love it when that happens.

    If Congress proceeds with impeachment hearings all they need to do is honestly explain why they’ve come to that point. That they are not attacking a Republican administration, but rather circling the wagons around the US Constitution, under attack by that administration.

    Republicans too need to sober up and get on the right side of this fight – just as they did when another Republican president, Richard Nixon, believed he could do whatever the hell he wanted to do, legal or otherwise – too often otherwise.

    The sobering agent for Republicans should be evident. In about two years the next occupants of the White House will likely be Democrats. Do Republicans want to have to face four or eight years of being dissed, ignored and further marginalized by a Democratic administration, simply because they allowed Bush and Cheney to set such precedents?

    Some also warn that the US Supreme Court, now in conservative hands, could actually validate the Bush administration’s expansive view of executive powers. Not likely. While the Supreme Court may have been able to fix one national election for conservatives they can’t count of being handed the same extraordinary opportunity again, any time soon. Therefore the Supremes, like Republicans in congress,  are not going to want to hand a Democratic president imperial power. (Besides, once congress is neutered, might not the Court itself be next?  Sure, why not. A compliant congress might be asked by the president to pass a constitutional amendment clipping the wings of the judges all the way up to the Supremes themselves. “Mission Accomplished.”)

    While it’s refreshing to see and hear accomplished, articulate and sane adults suddenly talking right out   loud about impeachment, nothing is going to happen unless the idea catches fire in Congress. So far it has not, and I have a theory why. Since last November’s switch of control in Congress to Democrats, Congress been treated by this administration like the classic battered wife.

    For the first six years of the Bush presidency he hardly had to raise his voice. During that period Congress was a perfect Stepford wife, obedient, deferential and which spoke only when spoken to. Then came the 2006 elections and the new Congress got restless. (Call it the Seven Year Itch.) Congress suddenly started talking back, demanding her “rights” and questioning the head of the household.

    That’s when the real abuse began, and it’s gotten progressively worse ever since. Like most abusive relationships the abuser  in this case, Bush, et al, have succeeded in keeping the abused off balance, scared, confused and, most important, powerless.

    If called to investigate, here’s how the police report might read:

    Police Report

    Incident: Domestic Violence

    Suspect(s): George W. Bush, Richard “Dick” Cheney.

    Victim(s): US House of Representatives, US Senate


    1. Suspect GB has consistently refused to allow victims H and S to participate in decisions involving  family matters. GB perpetrated this offense through the use of extra-legal instruments he refers to as “Presidential Signing Statements.” (Claims that GB’s associate, DC, shouted at victims, “Shut up bitch, we decide the rules under this roof,” could not be immediately confirmed.)

    2. GB and associate, Alberto Gonzales, have repeatedly lied when victims inquired into their actions.  (“There hasn’t been a single violation of US law in the application of the Patriot Act.”) Said lying appears to have begun almost seven years ago and has continued and expanded to include a broad sweep of issues, including but not limited to possible perjury. These matters include lying about issues critical to the health, safety and security of the family, including but not limited to science, the environment and national security.

    3. Possible obstruction of justice and/or destruction of evidence: GB, DC, AG and a number of unnamed associates, when made aware of this investigation, began hiding and destroying evidence and other community property, rather than sharing it with victims as the law requires.  (“Oops, seems we deleted a 5 million – executive branch emails.”)

    4. Refusal to communicate and/or obstruction of justice: When victims H & S tried to make inquiries into suspects’ abusive behavior, suspects GB, DC and others in their employ, refused to communicate with victims, claiming they didn’t have to. This extraordinary claim was later extended to cover friends, associates and former employees of suspects as well.  (“Harriet Meirs has been told to ignore the Congressional subpoena.”)

    5. Alienation of Association. When asked to follow certain laws that cover suspects GB and DC, DC claimed he was not member of that branch of the family after all, and therefore did not have to follow said laws. DC’s accomplice, GB, subsequently backed DC’s alibi. DC continues to maintain this position, continues to violate said laws and rules and continues to refuse to communicate with victims regarding this ongoing abuse.

    The result of all the above abuse of congress and the constitution by this administration has rendered Congress cowed, confused and afraid to act in it’s own interest or that of the family as a whole. The remaining Stepford Republicans continue making excuses for their abusive leaders, while Democrats fain action through procedural, “non-binding,” symbolic legislation.

    What do we need to do in order to empower these poor, pathetic battered representatives of the people? Are they afraid to act because they no longer feel safe in their own houses? Must we set up a safe house for them somewhere somewhere on Capitol Hill where their batterers can’t get at them?

    Are members of congress so far gone that we need some kind of national intervention? Do “we the people” need to descend on Washington en mass, drag these legislative basket cases out of their offices one at time and give them the “remember us,” lecture?

    Wait! Come to think of it we don’t have to go to Washington to intervene after all. Because they are coming to us this August. They’ll be back in their home districts (at least when not playing golf or raising money) and that’s the perfect time for us to let them know that, if they stand up to their abusers, we’ll stand with them.

    And, if they won’t then we won’t be there for them come November 2008.

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    Bill Moyers: Tough Talk on Impeachment (video link; Fein; Nichols)

    My Call to Speaker Pelosi Demanding Impeachment by Ratman (video)

    Reading the Tea Leaves by Stephen P. Pizzo

    by Stephen P. Pizzo
    Saturday, 30 June 2007

    Hi, Chicken Little here again. But relax. The sky isn’t falling — but it appears to be fixin’ to. What makes me think so? Well that commie rag, The Wall Street Journal told me so. How so?

    Take Thursdays edition. I cut out headlines from stories in just that one edition. Here they are.

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