Thursday, January 31, 2008

Another former Clinton supporter speaks out.

Elizabeth B. Moynihan, the widow of Daniel Patick Moynihan, the NY senator who assisted Hillary Clinton's election to his Senate seat,endorsed Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nominee. Mrs. Moynihan successfully managed three of her husband's four Senate campaigns.


In an e-mail statement to the Obama campaign, Mrs. Moynihan wrote that she had been inspired by Caroline Kennedy's NYT op ed. Mrs. Moynihan added that she was "dismayed" at the Clinton's hostility toward Mr. Obama's candidacy.

Mrs. Moynihan wrote that her husband:

would have become excited, as I have, to see Barack Obama rekindle hope in our young as he encourages them to participate in the political process, and I know Pat would approve, applaud and encourage me to join Caroline Kennedy in supporting Barack Obama’s candidacy for the Democratic nomination for president.

It is a rare gift to be able to inspire people to share a vision that requires commitment and dedication....

The hope that John Kennedy characterized for Americans spread across the world, then faded with his death. I believe Obama, like Kennedy, has the gift to transcend obstacles and to inspire Americans to bring out the best in themselves. I firmly believe the election of Barack Obama would help restore hope and America’s image in the world.

Another former Clintonite defects. I hope more Hillary Clinton fans will take a long hard look at what's happening before your eyes. We have two candidates with similar issues and policies. Values and ethics are what separates them. It's because Barack Obama is showing sterling integrity and ethics that folks are flocking to his campaign. Meanwhile, folks are exiting the Clinton campaign because there is a noticeable lack of values and ethics.

Our country needs to united like never before. There is NO WAY that will happen under Hillary Clinton or John McCain.

Now if we can only keep the elections clean and fair.......

9/11 Commission--The Uncensored History

Think Progress reports that Philip Shenon's new book---The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation--reveals that Philip Zelikow, the 9/11 Commission executive director, interfered with the report. The Commission members were to have no contact with the White House. Yet Zelikow consulted Karl Rove on a frequent basis.

Furthermore, the other commission members wanted to submit a report stating that Rice's performance amount[ed] to incompetence. However, it is allegeded that Zelikow prevented this. Zelikow is alleged to have connections with the New American Century and was hired by Condi Rice when he finished his 9/11 commission job.


9/11 was never given the independent investigation that it deserved. Hopefully, there will be some material that will survive the Bush White House so that someday we will be able to figure out what did happen.

Initially world opinion was with us like never before. You can view images of some reactions from around the globe here. It may give you some idea of the value of world opinion that the Bush administration squandered in their lust for raising the price of oil. The Bush Cabal has been a true American tragedy.

Values--This is the difference between Hillary and Barack


The policies of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are "similar." The New York Times Editors say:
On the major issues, there is no real gulf separating the two. They promise an end to the war in Iraq, more equitable taxation, more effective government spending, more concern for social issues, a restoration of civil liberties and an end to the politics of division of George W. Bush and Karl Rove.

What separates these two candidates? George Lakeoff identifies "values," not issues, as the major differences between these two candidates. Caroline Kennedy knew they held similar policy positions. She decided that Barack Obama's is the candidate with the ethics and integrity that inspire her:
Most of us would prefer to base our voting decision on policy differences. However, the candidates' goals are similar. They have all laid out detailed plans on everything from strengthening our middle class to investing in early childhood education. So qualities of leadership, character and judgment play a larger role than usual.

I want a president who understands that his responsibility is to articulate a vision and encourage others to achieve it; who holds himself, and those around him, to the highest ethical standards; who appeals to the hopes of those who still believe in the American Dream, and those around the world who still believe in the American ideal; and who can lift our spirits, and make us believe again that our country needs every one of us to get involved.
George Lakeoff sees a striking difference between these candidates:
The difference is striking. To the editors of the New York Times, the quality of leadership seems not to be an "issue." The ability to unite the country is not an "issue." What Obama calls the empathy deficit -- attunement to the experience and needs of real people -- is not an "issue." Honesty is not an "issue." Trust is not an "issue." Moral judgment is not an "issue." Values are not "issues." Adherence to democratic ideals -- rather than political positioning, triangulation, and incrementalism -- are not "issues." Inspiration, a call to a higher purpose, and a transcendence of interest-based politics are not "issues."
Many in the Democratic base have left the Clinton camp and headed for the Obama camp due to the "old and dirty politics" the Clinton campaign has resorted to.

Senator Leahy states, "He [Bill Clinton] is not helping anyone, and certainly not helping the Democratic Party.

Columnist Maureen Dowd writes:
“It’s odd that the first woman with a shot at becoming president is so openly dependent on her husband to drag her over the finish line. She handed over South Carolina to him, knowing that her support here is largely derivative.
According to the Nation's columnist Nicholas von Hoffman:
By the time Hillary and Bill have finished with Obama the real man may be unrecognizable to voters in Iowa or any place else … If he can wipe enough of the Clintonian slime off himself, Obama may be able to come out from under and explain to the world that sometimes less experience is more and better. (The Nation)
Senator Kerry states:
I think you had an abuse of the truth … I mean, being an ex-president does not give you license to abuse the truth, and I think that over the last few days it’s been over the top.” (On National Journal radio)
Ted Kennedy: “With Barack Obama, we will turn the page on the old politics of misrepresentation and distortion.”

The truly great presidents are gifted with the ability to inspire us and they have the values and authenticity that is needed so we will heed their call.

Hillary Clinton does not have the values necessary to inspire us. She will distort the truth....and the latest outcry from Hillary is that she offered her hand to Obama and he shunned her. But, Hillary, truly an authentic corporate girl, is so "nice" stating, that her hand is still reaching out to Obama. And the corporate media is playing Hillary's song. Hillary will lie, distort the truth, play dirty politics, do anything to become president. The fact that Hillary will take any cheap shot she can is a major reason I am running away from her.

If Hillary Clinton will lie to "win" the presidency how can we trust her to tell us the truth if she actually becomes president?

Due to Hillary's lack of values and authenticity I do not want her to be this country's first example of a woman president. I will end up more disappointed in Hillary Clinton than I have ever been with Nancy Pelosi's poor leadership in the House.

No one has has the audacity (yet) to define Hillary Clinton as a "uniter." She has surely been successful at dividing her own party....how much will she harden the divide that already exists in our country? Hillary is described as "competent" and "smart." This campaign is showing that she lacks the values I hold important--honesty, integrity, and authenticity. After encountering Hillary on tv I often am left with the feeling of "Who the "heck" is Hillary Clinton and who does she think she's fooling?"

Out with the old divisiveness...it's time for the best person to step into the office....and if we are so lucky to have a candidate who has the potential greatness to inspire and lead us as Kennedy and Reagan possessed...then we are truly blessed to have that person running for office this year. I believe in my heart that person is Barack Obama.

SOURCES:
Source 1

Source 2

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The State of the (Iraqi) Union

We are told fairy tales every day by the government and corporate media that things are getting better every day and every way in Iraq. So why are Americans dropping four times as many bombs as several years ago, still launching major offensives, spending some 11 billion dollars a month, and on and on? Because the delusion that Iraq is some sort of quasi-American suburb under attack by alien "terrorists" is just that, a delusion. Despite all the internicene conflict that we have helped foster by continuousy playing one side off against another, this is still a war of resistance against a brutal, brutal occupation, no matter how many candy-bars the Pentagon tells you they have handed out. Most red-blooded Iraqis are going to continue to fight against the occupation just as we would, if, say, China came over here to "liberate us". But most Americans are so far down the rabbit hole that they can't see this.

Anyway, one of the best and well-sourced journalists on the planet is Pepe Escobar, who writes The Roving Eye column for Asia Times. He has just published his own State of the Union retort to Bush's recent speech. However, Pepe's piece refers to the state of union in Iraq. This is such an important bucket of reality to splash in our collectively stupored faces that I am including a fair bit of it below, plus the link to the entire report:

The state of the (Iraqi) union

By Pepe Escobar

I say this to the evil Bush - leave my country.
We do not need you and your army of darkness.
We don't need your planes and tanks.
We don't need your policy and your interference.
We don't want your democracy and fake freedom.
Get out of our land.

- Muqtada al-Sadr, Iraqi Shi'ite leader


The George W Bush-sponsored Iraqi "surge" is now one year old. The US$11 billion-a-month (and counting) Iraqi/Afghan joint quagmire keeps adding to the US government's staggering over $9 trillion debt (it was "only" $5.6 trillion when Bush took power in
early 2001).

On the ground in Iraq, the state of the union - Bush's legacy - translates into a completely shattered nation with up to 70% unemployment, a 70% inflation rate, less than six hours of electricity a day and virtually no reconstruction, although White House-connected multinationals have bagged more than $50 billion in competition-free contracts so far. The gleaming reconstruction success stories of course are the Vatican-sized US Embassy in Baghdad - the largest in the world - and the scores of US military bases.

Facts on the ground also attest the "surge" achieved no "political reconciliation" whatsoever in Iraq - regardless of a relentless US corporate media propaganda drive, fed by the Pentagon, to proclaim it a success. The new law to reverse de-Ba'athification - approved by a half-empty Parliament and immediately condemned by Sunni and secular parties as well as former Ba'athists themselves - will only exacerbate sectarian hatred.

What the "surge" has facilitated instead is the total balkanization of Baghdad – as well as the whole of Iraq. There are now at least 5 million Iraqis among refugees and the internally displaced - apart from competing statistics numbering what certainly amounts to hundreds of thousands of dead civilians. So of course there is less violence; there's hardly any people left to be ethnically cleansed.

Everywhere in Iraq there are myriad signs of balkanization - not only in blast wall/partitioned Baghdad. In the Shi'ite south, the big prize is Basra, disputed by at least three militias. The Sadrists - the voice of the streets - are against regional autonomy; the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC)- which controls security - wants Basra as the key node of a southern Shi'iteistan; and the Fadhila party - which control the governorate - wants an autonomous Basra.

In the north, the big prize is oil-rich Kirkuk province, disputed by Kurds, Sunni Arabs and Turkmen; the referendum on Kirkuk has been postponed indefinitely, as everyone knows it will unleash a bloodbath. In al-Anbar province, Sunni Arab tribes bide their time collaborating with the US and controlling the exits to Syria and Jordan while preparing for the inevitable settling of scores with Shi'ites in Baghdad.

Obama and Hillary vs Iraqis

Meanwhile, in the Democratic party presidential race, Hillary Clinton, who voted for the war on Iraq, viciously battles Kennedy clan-supported Barack Obama, who opposed the war, followed at a distance by John "can a white man be president" Edwards, who apologized for his initial support for the war. Obama, Edwards and Clinton basically agree, with some nuance, the "surge" was a fluke.

They have all pledged to end the war if elected. But Edwards is the only pre-candidate who has explicitly called for an immediate US troop withdrawal - up to 50,000, with nearly all of the remaining out within a maximum of 10 months. Edwards insisted Iraqi troops would be trained "outside of Iraq" and no troops would be left to "guard US bases".

For their part, both Clinton and Obama believe substantial numbers of troops must remain in Iraq to "protect US bases" and "to fight al-Qaeda in Iraq". This essentially means the occupation grinding on. Both never said exactly how many troops would be needed: they could be as many as 75,000. Both have steadfastly refused to end the "mission" before 2013.

It's hard to envision an "occupation out" Obama when among his chief advisers one finds former president Jimmy Carter's national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski - the "grand chessboard" ideologue who always preached American domination of Eurasia - and former Middle East negotiator Dennis Ross, who always fought for Israel's dominance of the "mini-chessboard", the Middle East.

So far Obama has not given any signs he would try to counter the logic of global US military hegemony conditioned by control of oil; that's why the US is in Iraq and Africa, that's the reason for so much hostility towards Venezuela, Iran and Russia. As for Clinton - with the constant references to "vital national security interests" - there's no evidence this twin-headed presidency would differ from Bush in wanting to install a puppet, pliable, perennial, anti-Iranian, peppered-with-US-military-bases regime in Iraq.

But more than US presidential candidates stumbling on how to position themselves about Iraq, what really matters is what Iraqis themselves think. According to Asia Times Online sources in Baghdad, apart from the three provinces in Iraqi Kurdistan, more than 75% of Sunnis and Shi'ites alike are certain Washington wants to set up permanent military bases; this roughly equals the bulk of the population in favor of continued attacks against US troops.

Furthermore, Sunni Arabs as a whole as well as the Sadrists are united in infinite suspicion of the key Bush-mandated "benchmark": the eventual approval by the Iraqi Parliament of a new oil law which would in fact de-nationalize the Iraqi oil industry and open it to Big Oil. Iraqi public opinion as a whole is also suspicious of what the Bush administration wants to extract from the cornered, battered Nuri al-Maliki government: full immunity from Iraqi law not only for US troops but for US civilian contractors as well. The empire seems to be oblivious to history: that was exactly one of ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's most popular reasons to dethrone the Shah of Iran in 1979....

to read the entire Roving Eye Report, click here.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Obama DID win New Hampshire!!

Where ballots were counted by hand, Obama 38% and Clinton averaged 34%.

So will we ever "really" know who we've elected with the current process still in place?

I thought the New Hampshire recount was not going to show anything. First, ALL the programming cards that had been used in the election went missing. Big Red Flag there. Dennis Kucinich ran out of money and had to call his recount off...but with the disparencies it appears that NH should continue the recount. If the citizens of New Hampshire are wise they are going to dump the dieboldt machines.

If it's not some sort of a conspiracy then why is it the electronic handcount always favors the more conservative, corporate friendly candidates. Yes it even happened in the Republican primary also.

SOURCE

Sunday, January 27, 2008

"Al Nakba"--The Palestinian Catastrophe of 1948

With the situation in Gaza and the West Bank growing more chaotic daily, and while the world is pressing for Israel and Palestinians to come up with a real and just solution, it is absolutely indispensible to know the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, especially what happened in and around 1948. To the Palestinians this was the time of the infamous "Al Nakba" (the Catastrophe), when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were driven into exile from their villages and lands in areas Israelis were now claiming as their own, and where they needed to eliminate the Palestinian majority for political reasons as well.

Here is a video that gives you a look at events in 1948 from the Palestinian perspective. Some will criticize this as propaganda, or simply part of a more complex picture. However, be that as it may, this is still how Palestinians themselves largely view their history, and we cannot begin to understand their differences with the State of Israel unless we can see things through their eyes. Personally, my studies of history lead me to consider this video as quite representative of what happened. Leading Jewish scholars like Benny Morris, Ilan Pappe, Avi Shlaim, and Tom Segev have debunked, to my satisfaction at least, the official Israeli revionist claims that Al Nakba is a myth.

Another reason to show this video is to simply point out, in photographs, that a viable Palestinian culture existed prior to 1948, and that, moreover, some Palestinians were and are Christians, not just Moslems. Revisionist propagandists on the Right have also been trying to paint a picture of wandering "Arab" populations that just happened to be more or less squatting on or enticed into settling in Palestinian territory just prior to 1948, and that they had no history, no culture, nada.

Yet nothing could be farther from the truth as you will see as you watch this video. And again, let me point out, especially for those of you who are Christians, that both Palestinian Moslems and Christians were driven from their homes by Israeli forces in 1948.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

"A President Like My Father" ---Caroline Kennedy


The entire article is here. This is an excerpt.

Senator Obama is running a dignified and honest campaign. He has spoken eloquently about the role of faith in his life, and opened a window into his character in two compelling books. And when it comes to judgment, Barack Obama made the right call on the most important issue of our time by opposing the war in Iraq from the beginning.

I want a president who understands that his responsibility is to articulate a vision and encourage others to achieve it; who holds himself, and those around him, to the highest ethical standards; who appeals to the hopes of those who still believe in the American Dream, and those around the world who still believe in the American ideal; and who can lift our spirits, and make us believe again that our country needs every one of us to get involved.

I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president — not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans.

Caroline Kennedy is the author of “A Patriot’s Handbook: Songs, Poems, Stories and Speeches Celebrating the Land We d

We Need HONEST Leaders



Hillary and Bill Clinton have been campaigning like neocons not like democrats. You'd think they had morphed into Karl Rove himself with the divisive lies they keep spreading.

There's one big fact that everyone can see....Hillary Clinton will lie and maybe stop at nothing to get elected.

If, with the electronic voting etc, Hillary Clinton does get the Democratic nomination then the Democratic leadership is going to be in for a major shock in November. There are too many folks who have been the base for the democratic party for decades who will either sit at home on election day, write in a candidate, or vote the green party.

Hillary is losing some strong noteable women supporters



I suspect that many pro-choice women will be leaving Hillary's camp over this.

The LGBT community has not been fond of the Clinton's. Clinton had promised the LGBT community that he would open our military forces to the worldwide standard...of allowing lesbians and gay men to serve openly. It was expected that Clinton would do this through an executive order. Instead, the Clinton word was broken and the horrible don't ask don't tell policy was put into place. Lots of folks in the lesbian/gay community remember how we were sold out and are no longer willing to play with the Clintons.

How anyone who is scraping can forgive the Clinton's for that awful welfare reform program that broke the safety net for those in need in this country. There are many more poor, hungry children and families in our country today because of the Clinton legacy.

Doubting that the Clintons are both notorious sellouts? Hillary has accepted alot of money from insurance companies. What happened to national universal healthcare that Clinton promised? He gave it to Hillary to run and she spent alot of time at the White House kitchen table with folks like Dr. Dozoretz and his wife from First Hospital Corporation, a very large HMO insurance company. When I heard that I knew that their promise for a national health care policy was nothing more than a vote getter and I swore NEVER to support Hillary Clinton again.

Oh and the biggest sellout of all...The Clinton's pushed NAFTA through Congress...So give me a break Bill when you want to preach about all the good that Hillary did for "us" by working on the Wal-mart board?? Give me a break. Do I want to return to the Clinton White House Days?

Hillary wants us to believe that she can take lots of money from the multinational corporations and yet she will represent "us" not "them." Well your cherished "record" says the opposite. There is no way that I will go to the polls and pull the lever for Hillary Clinton....I'd rather vote for write in the name Dennis Kucinich if the Democratic "alleged leaders" like Pelosi/Reid/Carville etc insist on Hillary being the winner. There are many others who are thinking they will sit at home and let that message ring out....

No way....besides breaking your promises to the people who put you into office...this country remained divided. We need UNITY in our country and Hillary Clinton is a divisive force. Her campaign is exposing the divisiveness....

And IF you still don't believe that Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton are liars....just look at how they are campaigning and smearing the Barack Obama campaign with horrible lies....the biggest lies are through their supporters, of course...they are actually stating that Barack Obama, a Christian, is "secretly a Muslim".....and then there's the lies about his record....

If you look at Barack Obama's Illinois record those "present" votes were put to good use. As a young state senator he has an impressive record of getting lots of great bills passed and a very impressive record of being able to unite folks to get things done.

This is the time we need someone who can unify this country once again....We need a UNITED States of America....where folks will discuss and disagree on the issues but the issues don't get lost in nasty hateful uncivilized behavior.

Buzz....Buzz....

Friday, January 25, 2008

Wasting America's Resouces

Report from Cairo on the Crisis in Gaza

I received this email from Jewish Voice for Peace today. It is well worth reading. It is a report from Joel Beinin in Cairo on the dramatic events taking place in Gaza. It includes information you likely won't get from the local media. Jewish Voice for Peace is battling to bring truth, justice and reconciliation to the embattled peoples of the Middle East. Their website is: http://www.jewishvoiceforpeace.org/








About 3:00 am on Wednesday morning Jan. 23, well-coordinated explosions demolished the iron wall built by Israel to seal the southern border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt (the Philadelphi axis). Tens of thousands of Palestinians streamed across the border and entered the Egyptian side of the town of Rafah, which had been bisected by the wall, in search of food, gasoline, and other basic commodities which have been in short supply for many months in Gaza. The first wave of Palestinians to cross consisted of hundreds of women who were met with water canons and beatings by Egyptian security forces.














The wall was the starkest expression of the international boycott of Hamas imposed by the United States, Israel, and the European Union after Hamas won a majority of the seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council elections of January 2006 and formed a government the following March. Hamas has been in sole control of the Gaza Strip after it executed a coup d'├ętat against Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in June 2007. Since then, Israel has tightened the siege of Gaza which had been in effect since June 2006.

In response, Hamas and Palestinian Jihad militants have fired thousands of Qassam missiles on the town of Sderot and other Israeli population centers near the Gaza Strip. According to the 2007 annual report of B'Tselem, the Israeli human rights organization, Hamas and Jihad killed twenty-four Israeli civilians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip during 2006 and 2007 and thirteen Israeli military personnel.

In retaliation, Israel escalated the pace of its targeted assassinations of Hamas and Jihad militants, killing hundreds of civilians in the process. Based on B'Tselem's 2007 annual report, a Ha-Aretz investigation (Jan. 14, 2008) concluded that Israeli forces killed 816 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip during 2006 and 2007; at least 360 of them were civilians not affiliated with any armed organizations; 152 of the casualties were under age 18, and 48 were under the age of 14.

Despite the siege, Israel continued to provide electricity and water to the Gaza Strip, allowing people to live on the edge of survival, hoping that the economic pressure would bring down the Hamas government. Half the population now depends on charity handouts from the UN refugee relief organization and other humanitarian NGOs. Four days before the wall came crashing down, Israel sharply cut back fuel and water supplies, imposing a harsh collective punishment on the entire population of 1.5 million.

According to Ha-Aretz columnist Amira Hass (Jan. 24, 2008), for several months Hamas leaders had been discussing measures to end Gaza's torment, described by Rela Mazali, an Israeli feminist peace activist with the New Profile organization and an editor of Jewish Peace News, as "an abomination." Apparently, Hamas decided that four days of hermetic closure, following months of siege, created conditions in which Egypt and the international community would be willing to accept bringing down the wall. Hamas did not take official responsibility for blowing up the wall, but praised the action.

The Egyptian press reported that several days before the wall was blown up the General Guide of the Muslim Brothers, the largest opposition force in Egypt, spoke by telephone to Khaled Mash'al, the head of the Political Bureau of Hamas who resides in Damascus. Hamas emerged from the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brothers; and there is a high likelihood that the actions of the two organizations were coordinated. Following this consultation, the Brothers began to organize demonstrations throughout Egypt beginning on Friday, Jan. 18. The number of its supporters in the street gradually increased, culminating on Wednesday. Jan. 23. That morning, thousands of Egyptian security forces surrounded Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo and arrested hundreds (according to some reports thousands) of people who were attempting to demonstrate in solidarity with the people of Gaza. The demonstration was supported by both the Muslim Brothers and secular nationalists.

Meanwhile, at Rafah Egyptian security forces initially tried to stop the Palestinians from streaming across the border. But as the numbers swelled to tens of thousands, the government had no choice but to acquiesce. President Hosni Mubarak told journalists that he had instructed the security forces to: "Let them come in to eat and buy food" and return "as long as they are not carrying weapons."

















What are the implications of these developments?

It appears that the Annapolis summit and the sham "peace process" it was supposed to have reinvigorated are dead - killed by tens of thousands of unarmed Palestinians crossing the boarder into Egypt to meet their basic human needs. Shortly before President George W. Bush's visit to the Middle East, Israel began an expanded campaign of pressure on the Gaza Strip, including an escalation in targeted assassinations. Hamas has sent several signals that it was prepared for an informal cease fire with Israel. But the political perspective articulated at Annapolis and its aftermath requires that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas cooperate with Israel in crushing Hamas rather than try to restore Palestinian national unity. Egypt's task in this drama is to stand silently by.

This is an impossible task and cannot in any way contribute to peace. Even if Mahmud Abbas were to come to terms and sign an agreement with Israel, it would have no credibility and would be very short lived without some degree of approval and participation from Hamas. A government of national unity that represents all the factions of the Palestinian people is the only entity capable of signing a viable peace agreement with Israel.

The Israeli government led by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert opposes the kind of agreement that a Palestinian national unity government would demand, as has every previous government of Israel. Such an agreement would require recognition of Palestinian national rights rather than paternalistic "concessions" granted by a magnanimous but ultimately all-powerful Israel.

The limited capacity of the Egyptian government to acquiesce to this program has been exposed. The Mubarak regime would like very much to see Hamas crushed, since it is an ally of the Muslim Brothers, its most substantial domestic opposition force. But the Palestinian cause is too popular and emotional an issue in Egypt for Mubarak to appear to be assisting Israel in starving the people of Gaza. Moreover, some of the demonstrations in solidarity with Gaza also raised slogans against the drastic rise in the price of food in recent months and against Husni Mubarak himself. Opposition demonstrations linking the Palestine cause with domestic economic issues and autocracy have the potential to threaten a regime whose legitimacy is already minimal.

Palestine, Israel, and Egypt after the fall of the Gaza wall are more unstable than before. It is desirable, but alas unlikely, that this instability will bring the leaderships to their senses and impel them to negotiate a just peace for the benefit of all. But it is more likely that Olmert, Abbas, and Mubarak - all weak and discredited leaders - will seek to hold onto power by clinging to the United States, which has a long record of opposing Palestinian-Israeli peace. The people of the Gaza Strip have taken their survival into their own hands and have shown that the power of ordinary people is more likely to shape the future than polished diplomatic formulas.

Joel Beinin
Cairo, Jan. 24, 2008


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Lift the Gaza Blockade: Call on Congress to Speak Up and Join Us in the Streets!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Bush's new lap dog is not going to fold this time...


Senator Harry Reid who has been heavily criticized for folding whenever the Republicans threaten to filibuster.

FINALLY Harry is not going to fold. He's going to MAKE the Senators filibuster instead of folding his hand.

THE PROBLEM IS HE IS MAKING THE DEMOCRATIC SENATORS FILIBUSTER.

Does anyone doubt that Harry Reid has taken over Tony Blair's old role of Bush's new lap dog? Senator Harry Reid is Bush's new teacup poodle.

Thank heavens for Senators like Jim Webb, Chris Dodd, Russ Feingold, and Barrack Obama. They will support the filibuster. This filibuster is to protect the rule of law in America. Retroactive Immunity for the telecoms is a Bush/Cheney dream come true. Then "they" will be protected from being exposed for the wholesale illegal surveillance of millions of Americans...and guess what....I'm thinking there's a good possibility they did this BEFORE 9/11....

Maybe there is much more to this telecomunications surveillance story than meets the eye.....Could Bush and Cheney learned things they could use to "blackmail" important people? If that's the case it would sure explain why Senator Reid has his heels dug in so hard in his support to help Bush and Cheney get away with their illegal spying....Is this why Reid has been transformed into Bush's new lapdog---a teacup poodle? Or maybe, the telecoms simply bought him off. Senator Harry Reid's party is going to be leading the filibuster....thank heavens the Democratic party might still be salvageable. Senator Reid is surely not leading the Democrats....he's too busy protecting Bush and Cheney's interests.

CSpan will make for good tv viewing tomorrow!! Hopefully we'll hear some good speeches from Jim Webb and Barack Obama. Heck, Hillary Clinton may even have to show up in spite of all the corporate money she has stashed away.

If nothing else...at least Harry Reid has been exposed....only Democrats have to carry through with a filibuster....Republicans only have to threaten a filibuster to get their way.

SOURCE
Buzz...Buzz
....

Alleged War Profiteer and Criminal Resurfaces at Heritage Foundation



If you only had this speech to go by you'd think Darth Vader was a patriot. But missing from the speech is his record of OUTING a CIA covert spy--Valerie Plame Wilson--and going after a REAL Patriot Joe Wilson for exposing Cheney and Bush's Lies that led us into an illegal invasion of Iraq.....so that Cheney can reap millions from his Haliburton stock....

He also rewrites History and pretends that the Bush Cabal went to Congress to get permission for their wireless surveillance program. LIAR...They simply broke the law and violated our Constitutional rights....because they believe in a President who is a KING....so they were doing their wiretapping wholesale of millions of Americans and not telling Congress a thing about what they were doing.

If the House and Senate doing it's job this would already have come out in impeachment proceedings...and probably even more stuff that no one has even had the time to imagine yet....

Now they want retroactive immunity for their partners in crime...and to protect themselves. The telecommunications corporations who ENABLED Bush and Cheney's unconstitutional surveillance knowingly chose to break the law. One corporation followed the law--Qwest Communication--they followed the law of the land and REFUSED to participate in the wholesale wireless surveillance of millions of Americans without a warrant or FISA court approval. IF everything is how Cheney portrays it then the telecoms will not be found guilty....However, the truth will come out in court and this scares Bush and Cheney...that's why Bush keeps vetoing the bill...because Bush and Cheney, it is alleged. started their wireless surveillance program BEFORE 9/11....it wasn't done to protect us....Nothing about the Iraq illegal invasion and occupation has been done to protect us. I'm wondering if it's possible if some of this "information" was used to blackmail members of Congress?? It sure would explain a lot of weird Democratic behavior in the House and Senate.

But Cheney is the ultimate snake oil salesman isn't he? He's so good that he has Harry Reid taking over Tony Blair's old role as the Bush/Cheney French Poodle of the White House. Careful Harry....we can tell you've been drinking the Kool Aid....I hear that results in lots of telecommunications money being steered your way...

Now the question is...How many Senators are feeding at the Telecommunications money trough besides Senator Reid and Rockefeeler??

Contact your Senators today and tell them that Congress has NEVER granted retroactive immunity in the past....and this is DEFINITELY the WRONG situation....

Reagan's Deputy Attorney General Calls For Bush's Impeachment



H/T to Cliff at Cobalt6 for the video

Virginia's House Representatives Need to get off the Fence

First I want to THANK Rep. Jim Moran for agreeing to co-sponsor an impeachment resolution.

Then I want to CHALLENGE my Representative, Bobby Scott, to get off the fence. Now is not the time to sit on the sidelines. Rep. Wexlar, had the decency to poll his constituents and now he's supporting Impeachment. Another Virginia Representative is supporting impeachment. Does Bobby Scott really believe that Bush and Cheney have not committed crimes that are impeachable?

There is NOTHING, NO BILL, NOTHING, more important than establishing that this is a country ruled by law and not a few crude cruel men who can do anything they want, regardless of what the people say.

Here are some facts:

A June 23-26, 2005, ABC/Washington Post poll found 52 percent of Americans believe the Bush administration "deliberately misled the public before the war," a nine-point increase in three months. And 57 percent say the Bush administration "intentionally exaggerated its evidence that pre-war Iraq possessed nuclear, chemical or biological weapons."

A June 27-29, 2005, Zogby poll found 42 percent of Americans say that "if it is found that President Bush did not tell the truth about his reasons for going to war with Iraq, Congress should hold him accountable through impeachment." According to Zogby, in Eastern and Western states supporters of impeachment outnumber opponents.

The 42 percent above is significantly higher than the 27 percent of Americans who favored impeachment of President Clinton before impeachment proceedings began in 1998. (NOTE: this is an old poll...the percentage is now believed to be higher especially since the study was released this week proving that Bush, Cheney et al lied hundreds of times to lead us into an illegal invasion.)

If there was ever a reason to impeach it is now. Our founding fathers gave us the tools we needed to protect our constitution and preserve our democracy. Our elected officials, in failing to use the tools they have at their disposal, are becoming accessories to the war crimes and the dismantling of our democracy and our rule of law.

Some cry that it's too late. Try using that defense in court. It's bogus. It's not too late to restore the rule of law to our land. We need to know once and for all if Bush and Cheney are guilty or not guilty of impeachable crimes. I want to know if Bush and Cheney, as Washington "insider" talk goes, started their illegal activities such as the surveillance program BEFORE 9/11 occurred. Allegedly that's one of the reasons Bush is so adamant that telecommunications get retroactive immunity.

Contact your representative asap. Ask them to take a stand---Do they support impeachment, or would they rather defend the position that there is no reason to start impeachment hearings against Bush and Cheney?

The Democrats have been whining about how that mean ole President Bush is using his veto to get his way....while they hope this will get them more votes in 2008....Pelosi and Reid believe it's to their benefit to protect Bush and Cheney. They mistakenly believe that playing politics is going to GOTV. Every day the Congressional Dems sit on the fence gives their base, their major supporters more reason to sit in our homes come the November elections. I'm not going out to vote for the Democratic nominee if the Democrats won't uphold their congressional oaths to defend the constitution!!

It's never too late to stop playing politics and do the right thing. This is the time to take a stand right now. On January 29th, Dennis Kucinich will re-introduce impeachment. Get off the fence and support it or defend your stand that there's no reason to impeach. But get off the fence!! We didn't elect you to do nothing.

Blackwater Protestors Found Guilty


The Blackwater Protestors appealed their December verdicts and lost. The judge in that case illegally closed his courtroom to the public.

A jury found all seven of the protestors guilty of trespassing and also found six of the protestors guilty of resisting arrest.

They were sentenced today. Judge Duke sentenced five of the seven – who had already served five days in jail after their arrest – to five days with credit for time served. The other two received suspended five-day sentences.

Judge Duke allowed all seven to make statements. According to noted reporter, Bill Sizemore, of the Virginian Pilot:

Duke allowed the defendants to make statements during the hourlong sentencing hearing, and most did. They told the judge that they believe Blackwater enjoys legal impunity for war crimes in Iraq and that by holding an illegal protest they were following a higher law, citing the Bible and the Constitution.

“There may be no court that can prosecute these killers,” defendant Beth Brockman, of Durham, N.C., told the judge. As Christians we have an obligation to stand in solidarity with the Iraqi people.”

Duke responded at length, telling the group, “I’ve always thought that if you’re going to be a follower of Jesus or someone who appreciates the Constitution, you can’t select the portions that you like and disregard the rest.”

In particular, he cited the apostle Paul’s biblical admonition to his fellow Christians to abide by the law of man. As the judge went on, the protesters broke in several times with responses of their own.

“We’re not here about what’s happening in Iraq,” Duke told them. “We’re here about the peace and harmony of this particular community. The rule of law of this state is instituted to protect this peace and harmony. This is a place, a state, a nation, of laws – not of men.”

The judge quoted the noted Supreme Court justice Felix Frankfurter, who called the rule of law “all we have standing between us and the tyranny of mere will and the cruelty of unbridled, undisciplined feeling.”

“You’re kind and gentle people,” Duke told the protesters. “But the law doesn’t say treat kind and gentle people differently from those who would harm us. You’ve told me you’re not going to abide by the law. You’re not going to respect my judgment. That grieves me.”

Protester Bill Streit, of Louisa County, Va., responded: “I feel sorry that we’re grieving you. You have given us a lot of leeway, and I appreciate that.”

“Good luck,” the judge told the seven as they filed out.

Let's Look at Hillary Clinton's record


First I refer you to the earlier post about how Hillary, as First Lady, took what should have been a Republican scandal and singlehandedly turned it into a Clinton scandal--Travelgate.

Hillary OFTEN mentions her mentor at the Children's Defense Fund--the legendary Marian Wright Edelman.

So let's look at what Marian Wright Edelman thinks of Hillary Clinton's alleged "record." Democracy Now reports:

AMY GOODMAN: Marian Wright Edelman, we just heard Hillary Rodham Clinton. She used to be the head of the board of the Children’s Defense Fund, of the organization that you founded. But you were extremely critical of the Clintons. I mean, when President Clinton signed off on the, well, so-called welfare reform bill, you said, “His signature on this pernicious bill makes a mockery of his pledge not to hurt children.” So what are your hopes right now for these Democrats? And what are your thoughts about Hillary Rodham Clinton?

MARIAN WRIGHT EDELMAN: Well, you know, Hillary Clinton is an old friend, but they are not friends in politics. We have to build a constituency, and you don’t—and we profoundly disagreed with the forms of the welfare reform bill, and we said so. We were for welfare reform, I am for welfare reform, but we need good jobs, we need adequate work incentives, we need minimum wage to be decent wage and livable wage, we need health care, we need transportation, we need to invest preventively in all of our children to prevent them ever having to be on welfare.

And yet, you know, many years after that, when many people are pronouncing welfare reform a great success, you know, we’ve got growing child poverty, we have more children in poverty and in extreme poverty over the last six years than we had earlier in the year. When an economy is down, and the real test of welfare reform is what happens to the poor when the economy is not booming. Well, the poor are suffering, the gap between rich and poor widening. We have what I consider one of—a growing national catastrophe of what we call the cradle-to-prison pipeline. A black boy today has a one-in-three chance of going to prison in his lifetime, a black girl a one-in-seventeen chance. A Latino boy who’s born in 2001 has a one-in-six chance of going to prison. We are seeing more and more children go into our child welfare systems, go dropping out of school, going into juvenile justice detention facilities. Many children are sitting up—15,000, according to a recent congressional GAO study—are sitting up in juvenile institutions solely because their parents could not get mental health and health care in their community. This is an abomination.

The woman Hillary Clinton regularly mentions as her mentor strongly criticizes Hillary's alleged record. I personally would love to see a humane, progressive woman in the White House....but Hillary Clinton is NOT that woman. Hillary likes to compare herself to Margaret Thatcher, who was often jokingly referred to as a "man in drag" because of her policies.

Hillary will probably love the fact that Mosquito Blog is criticizing her...it will maker her appear more centrist.

I can personally understand the symbolic importance and progressive act it would be to elect our first woman president. That would be joyful indeed. But not if our first woman president is not progressive.

Does one's gender make one immune from betraying helpless children and the poor? The safety net in this country was ripped apart under the Clinton's and we have more children in poverty today because of their version of welfare reform.

Taking money from the poor to "give it" to the rich corporations is not beneficial to our country.

H/T to Buzzflash for the inspiration.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Eight Questions Reporters Should Ask Clinton

And not a single one about race!


According to Todd Gitlin at the Columbia Journalism Review:
Questions for Hillary Clinton

1. Richard Holbrooke, one of your chief foreign policy supporters, wrote in 2005 that the “Global War on Terror” “is not an accurate description of America’s enemy or of what we are engaged in.” But you use the term “war on terror.” Why?

2. Do you propose to preserve American bases in Iraq?

3. Are you prepared to renounce the Bush Doctrine, which permits preventive war? If the answer is “yes,” how do you square that with your vote to brand Iran’s Revolutionary Guards a “terrorist organization,” and your refusal to take military action against Iran “off the table”?

4. In 1999, your husband withdrew the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty from Senate consideration in the belief that the Senate would not vote to ratify it by the necessary two-thirds vote. Do you anticipate being able to work with the Senate to pass such a treaty, or indeed any arms control treaty? How would you persuade dissenters?

5. Which of the Bush administration’s privacy-invading and government secrecy measures do you reject?

6. To what extent should the money saved by phasing out American combat operations in Iraq be used to reduce the deficit, and to what extent should it be used for creating jobs, environmentally sensible investments, and social programs?

7. One of your chief economic advisers, Gene Sperling, has written that “there are goals—banning child labor in our factories; preventing racial, religious, and gender discrimination in the workforce—that require direct intervention in the market regardless of their efficiency or economic impact.” Is government support for the organizing of unions among the “direct interventions” you favor?

8. Do you believe that the protection of drug company patents is a responsibility of the federal government?

Research assistance by Michael Meyer

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Net Neutrality



Whatever happened to all those Democrats (Including Rep Boucher) who WERE advocating for Net Neutrality? Why haven't they introduced a Net Neutrality Bill?

Meanwhile, in Texas, ATT is going to offer "tiered" service to news internet customers.....

We need our Net Neutrality. Corporations gatekeep the broadcast media. They need to keep their hands off OUR Free Speech on the Web.

Contact your elected officials AND Rep. Boucher....Ask what they are going to do to follow up on their promises to support Net Neutrality.

“Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (And Stick You with the Bill)”

What Corporate Media won't tell you Democracy Now will! Thie is from Friday's Democracy Now Broadcast.

JUAN GONZALEZ: As voters head to the polls in Nevada and South Carolina Saturday, the economy remains one of the top issues for voters across party lines. Today, we’re going to spend the rest of the hour examining the growing income gap in the United States.

Economic figures show that in 2005, the wealthiest 0.1 percent of the country’s population had nearly as much income as all 150 million Americans who make up the lower economic half of the country. Of each dollar people earned in 2005, the top ten percent got 48.5 cents, the highest percentage since 1929, just before the Great Depression.

AMY GOODMAN: Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Cay Johnston has been closely tracking the nation’s income gap in the pages of the New York Times. In 2004, he published the bestselling book Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich—and Cheat Everybody Else. David Cay has just published a new book. It’s called Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (And Stick You with the Bill). He joins us now from the PBS station WXXI in Rochester.

Welcome to Democracy Now!, David.

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Thank you for having me, Amy and Juan.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain the wealth transfer.

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Well, I was struck, listening to the program from Kenya, where they talked about the president and his power to give money to people, give land, and that’s why many people identify with it. We have created in the United States, largely in the last thirty years, a whole series of programs—a few of them explicit, many of them deeply hidden—that take money from the pockets of the poor and the middle class and upper middle class and funnel it to the wealthiest people in America. And among the biggest recipients of these subsidies are the wealthiest family America, the Waltons; George Steinbrenner; Donald Trump; a whole host of healthcare billionaires. And these are policies that either have not been reported on or the news reporting on them generally has not informed people about what they really are.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, I was struck—you have numerous chapters in the book on the various aspects of this transfer, but I was especially struck by your material on the New York Yankees and Steinbrenner and Joyce Hogi, who you mention in the book, who I know well, and this whole issue of sports teams across America and how the public is subsidizing them. Could you elaborate on that part of it?

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Sure. George Steinbrenner is getting over $600 million for the new Yankee Stadium in New York. The New York Mets are getting over $600 million. In fact, the City of New York gave them money to lobby against the taxpayers to get more money. Rudy Giuliani gave $50 million to the two teams for that purpose.

The new owners of the Washington Nationals baseball team in Washington, D.C., paid $450 million for the team. But, in fact, they got the team for free, because the subsidy they’re getting for the new stadium is worth $611 million. We actually paid these people to buy the team.

Now, in this country right now, we are spending $2 billion a year subsidizing the big four sports: baseball, basketball, football and hockey. It accounts for all of the profits of that industry and more. Now, there may be individual teams that make money, but the industry as a whole is not profitable. And that’s astonishing because the big four leagues are exempt from the laws of competition. By the way, irony is not dead, because here are people who are in the business of competition on the field who are exempted by law from the rules of economic competition.

If you go to England and you want to start a soccer team, they have to let you join the soccer league. There are thirteen commercial soccer teams in the London area. New York City, the biggest city in the country, there are two baseball teams, because there’s no free entry into the market. In Los Angeles, there’s no football team. And the owners use this power to prevent others from owning teams, to prevent municipal governments from owning teams, to prevent nonprofits from owning teams, to extract money from the taxpayers to build them new stadiums.

At the same time that we’re doing this, we are starving our public parks for money. And I show in Free Lunch how the rise of urban gangs and now suburban gangs is connected to this. We used to have all sorts of programs in this country after World War II for young men and young women on Saturdays and during the summer and school holidays, where even if you didn’t have any money—didn’t matter that your parents didn’t have any money, because—and I know this because I did it as a child—you could go to any one of a half-dozen different places, and there were organized activities to keep you out of trouble. After all, idle hands are the devil’s workshop is not exactly a radical new idea. Well, we’ve cut and cut and cut those programs to fund two different subsidies: one to sports teams’ owners, one that goes to Tyco, General Electric, Honeywell and some other big companies. And, lo and behold, we’ve had a big rise in urban violence because of the vacuum being filled by young people who no longer have these organized activities.

AMY GOODMAN: Speaking of sports teams, talk about President Bush and where you believe, really, ultimately, he got his wealth.

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Well, it isn’t a function of belief, Amy. I’ve got the documents. President Bush, who will go down in history as the great tax cutter, owes almost all of his fortune to a tax increase that was funneled into his pocket. What happened is, an oil man named Eddie Chiles wanted to sell his money-losing Texas Rangers baseball team. They played in a little stadium, smaller than the one we have here in Rochester, New York, and of course couldn’t make any money. So George Bush put together a group of very wealthy investors to buy the team. He put up himself $600,000 of borrowed money. The partners then gave him a 10 percent stake as the managing partner. That’s a very common arrangement in business. Then they held a special election in January of the year in question to increase the sales tax in the town of Arlington, Texas, by one half-cent. That money was used to build a new baseball stadium. It’s an incredibly nice baseball stadium.

Then the power of government to seize land by eminent domain—and I go back to what was talked about in Kenya, the leader there can give you land, he can presumably therefore also take it away—the government used its power of eminent domain to seize land from people, not for a public purpose—not for a military base, for a school, for a highway, for a sewer plant—but because it was coveted by President Bush and his friends, and they were unwilling to go into the market and buy it through market economics. So the government seized this land. People were paid far less than they were owed, and we know that because one family fought back, and a jury, after being out just a matter of minutes, awarded them about six times what they had been offered by the government of Arlington.

The value of this subsidy, according to Ray Hutchison, who is the husband of Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, is a prominent Republican insider in Texas and is the leading authority on municipal bond finance in Texas, was $202.5 million. The profit that President Bush and his partners made when they sold the team was $164 million. What does that tell you? Every single penny of additional money President Bush got from that investment, his gain, came from the taxpayers. He did not add one cent to the value of that team through his skill as an MBA manager. This gets repeated all over the country.

And then when President Bush filed his tax return, he should have reported that the 10 percent share he had, the one that was given to him as compensation for being general manager, was wage income. And, of course, we tax wages at a higher rate than we do capital income, like capital gains. President Bush therefore shorted the government $3.4 million. Under our system, you sign your tax return subject to audit. If you’re not audited and you don’t pay the government the right amount, if it’s too much, the government keeps it, if it’s too little, you short the government, but nothing happens to you.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to David Cay Johnston, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist. His new book is called Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You with the Bill). We’ll come back to David Cay Johnston in a minute.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: Our guest is David Cay Johnston, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist, has written the book Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You with the Bill). Juan?

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, David Cay Johnston, the American home subprime crisis has been much in the news and the enormous impact it’s having on the economy. You’ve got a few chapters here where you talk about the home and home robbery, and you even delve on an issue that very few people have ever talked about: title insurance companies and the enormous wealth transfer that have gone on there. Could you talk about that?

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Oh, sure. You know, when you buy a home—and I remember the first time I did it as a young man—you have this enormous sense of accomplishment, and you sit down in a room, and they throw all these papers at you—“Sign this, sign this, initial this page, OK, sign this.” So when you’re all done, you get a little sheet listing all the costs you have, and you get dinged for $15 here and $25 there. But there’s one big item called land title insurance. If you buy a $200,000 house, it will probably cost you close to $1,000. Well, it turns out that ninety cents out of every dollar you are forced to pay for this goes to pay commercial bribes. And this goes on all throughout the industry all across the United States, and nobody is prosecuted for it.

And here’s what happens. Well, you wrote the check for the $1,000, the land title insurance companies, who are insuring the risk that someone will come along and say, “That’s really my piece of land,” or “I have the right to put an oil well in your backyard. Here’s this document from 1848,” or your new outbuilding encroaches one inch onto the neighbor’s land, supposedly. That’s what you are insuring against. These companies’ real customers are the real-estate agent that you thought was representing you or the lawyer you paid to represent you or the mortgage broker who arranged to get you the mortgage, because they steer you to the title company. And in return, they get kickbacks.

The state insurance commissioners of California and Washington wrote very detailed reports about this, because one of the land title companies tried to spear the insurance commissioner of Colorado. And there’s emails and tape-recorded conversations about a very Machiavellian plot to use the news media to a plant a question that would smear this woman. And what did the insurance commissioners say should be done after they found that 90 percent of this money is paid in kickbacks? And by the way, one of the big title companies, in its report to shareholders, says that its customers aren’t you and me, when we buy a house; it says its customers are the bankers and the brokers and the lawyers. Well, the insurance commissioners said what we need is an education program. We need to make sure that the land title companies know that they can’t pay these kickbacks and referral fees, as they’re politely called. Well, if the education program worked, the cost of land title insurance would have dropped 90 percent. It hasn’t. So it’s another example of the kind of institutionalized corruption that I write about in Free Lunch that takes money from the many and concentrates it in the hands of the politically connected few.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask you about Barack Obama’s comments, David Cay Johnston, who praised—

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Well, one thing, Amy, I don’t do, Amy, I don’t talk about the presidential campaign, because—

AMY GOODMAN: Oh, you don’t have to—you don’t have to talk about them—

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: OK.

AMY GOODMAN: —but just the substance of what he had to say, which was very interesting, as he talked about former President Ronald Reagan. He was in an interview with the Reno Gazette-Journal, appearing to express admiration for what he called Reagan’s “clarity” and “optimism” and overcoming “excesses” of the ’60s and ’70s. This is what he said.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA: I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that, you know, Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path, because the country was ready for it. I think they felt like, you know, with all the excesses of the ’60s and ’70s and, you know, government had grown and grown, but there wasn’t much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating. And I think people just tapped in—he tapped into what people were already feeling, which was we want clarity, we want optimism, we want, you know, a return to that sense of dynamism and, you know, entrepreneurship that had been missing.


AMY GOODMAN: In response, rival candidate John Edwards said Reagan “did extraordinary damage to the middle class and working people, created a tax structure that favored the very wealthiest Americans and caused the middle class and working people to struggle every single day.” He said, “I can promise you [this: I will] never use Ronald Reagan as an example for change.” So, David Cay Johnston, without getting into presidential politics, you write extensively about Ronald Reagan in this book.

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Yes. Well, Ronald Reagan, whether you love Ronald Reagan or you hate Ronald Reagan, was a great leader. He did, in fact, dramatically change the country.

Between 1945 and the election of Ronald Reagan, we had a government that was focused on creating and nurturing the middle class. When I was a young man, I was able to go to college only because it was free. It didn’t matter that I didn’t have any money—my dad was a 100 percent disabled veteran, and I went to work when I was ten years old and full time since I was thirteen—because it was free.

Today, the cost of a college education, a state college education, is about $10,000 a year. The average income of the bottom half of taxpayers—that’s not families, that’s taxpayers—is about $15,000. Think you can go to college if two-thirds of your income would have to go to college? I don’t think so.

Well, Mr.—what Mr. Reagan did in 1980 was he asked a question that had a very powerful effect. He said, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” And Americans said no, they weren’t. And they elected him to office, and they set in motion a major change in government policy, a change that I think has been perverted. I do not believe Reagan intended all of the things that have been done since he started this happening.

But I’m asking the question in Free Lunch: Are you better off than you were in 1980? And on the surface, America is much better off. The country is more than twice as wealthy in real terms as it was in 1980. Per person, adjusted for inflation, the economy now puts out $1.70 for every dollar that it put out in 1980. Those are absolutely tremendous economic numbers.

So how come we’re not all really well-off? Why is it one-in-seven families has filed bankruptcy in the last twenty-five years? Why is it people are so mired in debt that television ads are just full of debt relief and take on more debt ads, sometimes at 99 percent interest? Why is it that so many people don’t have health insurance and so many people no longer have a retirement plan?

And by the way, the average income of the bottom 90 percent of Americans, what I call the vast majority, is smaller today than it was in 1980. And since the year 2000, when we really got serious about this tax cut business, the average income of Americans every year—2001, ’02, ’03, ’04, ’05—has been smaller than it was in 2000. There have been some gains in 2004 and ’05, but they haven’t gotten up to equal 2000. And of those gains in the year 2000—it’s either ’05 over ’04 or ’04 over ’03—half went to people who make over a million dollars a year. What’s happened is—

AMY GOODMAN: Didn’t that wealth transfer massively begin—I mean, accelerate with Reagan?

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Oh, yes. No, that’s—I’m sorry, that’s exactly my point, Amy, is that what happened is that we put in place all sorts of new programs, many of which were never written about in the news media, that got no attention whatsoever. We created healthcare billionaires while making healthcare unavailable to one-in-seven Americans. And we did this with government money. We allowed people to buy public assets for, in some cases, a fraction of a penny on the dollar and then poured government money into them.

And, you know, our national myth that Ronald Reagan ran for office on was that there were all these welfare queen Cadillacs—welfare queens driving Cadillacs out there. I think there was, in fact, one scam artist who went to prison. But what’s really going on is welfare at the top, and way beyond what’s been reported in the news media as corporate welfare. We have built into the scaffolding of the new economy rules that funnel money to the top.

And that this has happened really shouldn’t surprise us, because under our campaign finance system, which has gotten worse and worse and worse with campaign finance reform that hasn’t worked, politicians running for high office spend a great deal of their time talking not to you and me and school teachers and police officers and firefighters and factory workers, but to rich people and their paid representatives. And they hear about their concerns and what they say they need to make things fair.

JUAN GONZALEZ: You also delve into this whole phenomena across America of the big box stores, the Targets and the Wal-Marts and the Kmarts. And obviously they’ve—to some, they at least offer cheaper goods, cheaper consumer goods. Your analysis of their impact?

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Well, first of all, they say they offer cheaper goods. I don’t accept that that’s necessarily true.

But here’s what happens. And this is a good example of where the news media hasn’t done a good job. I have tons of news clips that say, oh, this new shopping mall is coming or a new Wal-Mart or a new Cabela’s store, and thanks to tax increment financing, this store is going to be built. Well, what is tax increment financing? I’ll tell you what it is. You go to the store with your goods, you pay for it at Wal-Mart, and there’s a very good chance that that store has made a deal with the government that the sales taxes you are required to pay, that government requires you to pay, never go to the government. Instead, those sales taxes are kept by Wal-Mart and used to pay the cost of the store. And typically in those deals, the store is tax exempt, just like a church.

Now, there are two ways that it’s important to think about this. One is, that means your kid’s schools, your police department, your library, your parks are not getting that money. And you’ll notice we keep saying we’re starved for money. We’re twice as wealthy as we were in 1980, but we’ve got to close hospitals, and we’ve got to close schools, and we don’t have money for all sorts of things like after-school programs, even though we’re twice as wealthy. The second thing to think about is, imagine that you own Amy Goodman’s or Juan’s department store across the street. You suddenly have to compete with people whom the government is giving a huge leg up on. You think you would go broke after a while? Well, in fact, you will.

And I tell about a man named Jim Weaknecht who owned a little store in the Poconos of Pennsylvania. He sold fishing tackle, hunting gear, stuff like that. And the way he made his living in his little tiny store, enough that he was able to have his wife stay at home and raise their three kids full time, was by charging less than a company called Cabela’s. Well, then Cabela’s came to town. This little city of 4,000 people made a deal to give Cabela’s $36 million to build a store. That’s more than the city budget for that town for ten years. It’s $8,000 for every man, woman, and child in that town to have this store. And even though he charged lower prices, he was pretty quickly run out of business.

That’s not market capitalism, which is what Ronald Reagan said he was going to bring us. He said, you know, government’s the problem, we need markets as a solution. Well, that’s not the market. That’s corporate socialism. And what we’ve gotten is corporate socialism for the politically connected rich—not all the rich, the politically connected rich—and market capitalism for everybody else.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And, of course, many of those folks need lobbyists to be able to get these kinds of breaks from the government, and you talk about the explosion of lobbyists and their influence on government.

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: There are twice as many registered lobbyists in Washington today as there were in 1980. If the lobbying community had grown in revenues since the ’70s at the same rate as the economy, there would be one-tenth as many lobbyists in Washington. And those people are not there doing the good of the public. You know, the Constitution’s Preamble talks about the—

JUAN GONZALEZ: They’re not just in Washington, right? They’re not just in Washington. They’re also at the state level.

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: No, no, they’re in all the state capitals, they’re in city halls, they’re all over the country. The lobbying business is one of the fastest-growing businesses in America, because—you know why? It’s easier to mine gold from the government’s treasury than from the side of a mountain. Why wouldn’t you go do that if you could get the government to give you money? And Donald Trump—a tax that’s supposed to serve the poor, his company got $89 million for a tax designated for the poor. Somehow, Mr. Trump’s public image suggests to me that he does not think of himself as a poor person.

AMY GOODMAN: David Cay Johnston—we’ll leave it there—Free Lunch is his book, How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You with the Bill), speaking to us from the PBS station WXXI in Rochester, New York.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Virginia's DMV website


I just visited Virginia's DMV website. It is Fabulous and easy to use. I had requested that a pin be sent to me so I could use the website for future transactions. I realized I only had 30 days to activate the pin so there's no time like the present.

After activating my pin I surfed over to the driver's license renewal and "discovered" that if my license was set to expire within two years I could renew it online. They will use my last photo and send me a new license within 5 business days. WOW...I was set to expire in 2009 so I now have a new license ordered that will expire in 2014. How's that for never having to visit a DMV location again....
This will be great for renewing my tags etc.

I'll probably only have to visit the DMV when I purchase another car.

If your license is going to expire within the next two years I suggest you renew on line. It's just so easy.

Demonstrate Against Blackwater Jan 22

Blackwater Demonstration

WHEN: Tuesday January 22
at 9 a.m.

WHERE: Currituck County Courthouse
2795 Caratoke Highway (Caratoke Highway is also known as Route 168)
Currituck, NC 27929

Potluck and Vigil on January 21
at 6:30 p.m.

Where: Sacred Heart Church
520 Graydon Ave.
Norfolk VA 23507

There will be a potluck dinner (bring something to share), music, poetry, and reflection. Out of town visitors are welcome to sleep overnight in the church commons...and can join us, if they wish, for the demonstration on Tuesday.

The Blackwater 7 will be at the potluck dinner and vigil. Their trial will be occurring the next day where the demonstration is to be held.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

From Death Row, Mumia Abu Jamal (Part 3 of 3)

Since Mumia Abu Jamal is a very controversial figure, I am continuing to post these three biographical pieces on Mumia, to give the reader some greater perspective on his background and character. Here is Part 3. You be the judge, ultimatley, after watching all three posts, as to whether he is a cold-stone killer or a political prisoner. If you think you need to know more, just start googling his name.

From Death Row, Mumia Abu Jamal (Part 2 of 3)

Since Mumia Abu Jamal is a very controversial figure, I am continuing to post these three biographical pieces on Mumia, to give the reader some greater perspective on his background and character. This is Part 2. You be the judge, ultimatley, after watching all three posts, as to whether he is a cold-stone killer or a political prisoner.

From Death Row, Mumia Abu Jamal (Part 1 of 3)

Since Mumia Abu Jamal is a very controversial figure, I thought it would be worthwhile to post the first of three biographical pieces on Mumia, to give the reader some greater perspective on his background and character. You be the judge, ultimatley, after watching all three posts, as to whether he is a cold-stone killer or a political prisoner.

Erc Cantor (R-VA) sponsoring bill to lower Corporate taxes

...and he's named the bill the "Middle Class Job Protection Act"even though it does nothing for the Middle Class. These Republicans keep trying to beat this dead horse to death.

According to Think Progress:

At a press conference today unveiling the stimulus proposal, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) justified the conservative plan to give tax breaks to corporations — instead of working Americans — by arguing that people actually like working long hours:

I am so proud to be from the state of Minnesota. We’re the workingest state in the country, and the reason why we are, we have more people that are working longer hours, we have people that are working two jobs.

Bachmann’s version of the American Dream is apparently working two full-time jobs and struggling to get by.

Yesterday, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office concluded that corporate tax cuts, such as the one proposed by Cantor, "may be less cost-effective in the short term" and less effective than a stimulus plan consisting of “tax rebates, extended unemployment benefits and a temporary increase in food stamps.”

Court allows casino vote that may boost Obama

Justice is done. Judge rules that there will be no rule change six days before the election. The casino workers will be allowed to caucus at their workplace.

Sorry Hillary you lose the court battle and you will also lose voters. We will not forget how you tried to keep folks from voting....totally dirty....totally undemocratic!

Story is here.

Blackwater Demonstrators Go to Trial


BLACKWATER 7 TRIAL SCHEDULED FOR JANUARY 22/POTLUCK AND FESTIVAL OF HOPE JANUARY 21

Friends,

The 7 protesters arrested at Blackwater USA in
October for recreating the Nisoor Square massacre atthe company's front door will go to trial on Tuesday, January 22 at 10 am. Trial will be at the Currituck County Courthouse at 2795 Caratoke Highway, Currituck, NC 27929 (Caratoke Highway is also known as Route 168).

There will be a vigil calling for the closing of
Blackwater on Route 168 outside the courthouse complex beginning at 9 am.

The previous night, Monday, January 21st, beginning at 6:30 pm there will be a Festival of Hope with the defendants at Sacred Heart Catholic Church (520 Graydon Ave., Norfolk VA 23507). There will be a potluck dinner (bring something to share), music, poetry, and reflection. Out of town visitors are welcome to sleep overnight in the church commons.

Please forward this to anyone who may have interest.

Thank you,
Steve Baggarly

Mumia Abu-Jamal -- War for the Eternal Empire -LIVE FROM DEATH ROW

Mumia Abu-Jamal, explains, live from Death Row, the true nature of the War on Terror and who the real master of terror is in this world.

Bush World Strikes Again!!


According to George Bush, ""There's a lot of really good people here . Look, you can't deny the fact that some, a majority, of the terrorists came from Saudi, but you should not condemn an entire society based upon the actions of a handful of killers." Say what George? Isn't that exactly what you are doing with another country--Iran??

"The American president doesn't come and lecture somebody. The American president develops a relationship where he can work with somebody. And as I told you, his majesty is, he is modernizing his society. Is it going to meet somebody's standards sitting in Washington, D.C.? Probably not overnight. Can it eventually? Yes.… And for us to say that you can't have a democracy if you've got a king is just not right." So George Bush 'thinks" that Saudi Arabia is democratic? Or is he thinking he's in England and not Saudi Arabia?

Here's the Source.

I don't know about your thoughts but this President is a major embarrassment. This is almost as sad as Bush learning that the Russian President would have a longer fligh home from the summit than he would....so the dummy went around to folks like Tony Blair exclaiming that Russia is a BIG COUNTRY...he's got a longer flight home than me.....sheesh....this man should not be allowed to travel.

The Invisible War Profiteer--VP Dick Cheney

You may not see or hear much of him these days.....In fact, try perusing the White House Photos and the Vice President website photos and you won't find a single photo with Cheney and Bush featured in it. What happened to those old photos anyway?

But rest assured, Dick Cheney remains hard at work in the manner he prefers....behind the scenes and out of view of the taxpayer.

Raw Story reports that in 2007, "Cheney's Halliburton stock options rose 3,281% :
An analysis released by a Democratic senator found that Vice President Dick Cheney's Halliburton stock options have risen 3,281 percent in the last year."

RAW STORY reveals:

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) asserts that Cheney's options -- worth $241,498 a year ago -- are now valued at more than $8 million. The former CEO of the oil and gas services juggernaut, Cheney has pledged to give proceeds to charity.

Cheney "agreed" to give the proceeds to charity but he's keeping the stocks which he can sell upon leaving the Vice Presidency for a hefty profit....So will that hard work pay off? The Republicans are going to once again ask that the tax break for Dick Cheney and his cronies in that top bracket get permanent tax cuts.

Way to go Dick Cheney...you are still hard at work protecting the elites, getting nuclear power subsidized by Congress, and pushing the propaganda to try to start another illegal but very profitable war for you with Iran.

In the meantime the American people, Rep. Wexler, and Rep. Kucinich are pleading with the irrelevant Democratic Congress to Impeach Dick Cheney.

We deserve an investigation...let the facts do the talking. Let the facts decide if Dick Cheney should continue to be our Vice President....or not.

Buzz...Buzz...

America's Irrelevant Democratic Congress


While our Congress busies itself with those all important baseball steroid hearings it appears that the Secretary of Defense's office was involved with disseminating propaganda (to push America into another illegal invasion) to the American people. This is against the law.

So why isn't Congress investigating this?

Wexler Calls for Impeachment Hearings



IF this should occur....What do you think the average American will want when she/he finds out that Bush/Cheney went to war with Iraq in spite of the fact that there were offers to turn over Osama Bin Laden and his top men AND destroy his training camps. In addition, Saddam Hussein offered to leave Iraq tree weeks prior to our illegal and disastrous invasion.

What is the evidence that the wireless surveillance on Americans started BEFORE 9/11?

What is the evidence that Cheney and Rove did "out" an undercover CIA agent?

What is the evidence that Bush/Cheney destroyed millions of emails to cover up the "outing" of a CIA agent and what was discussed prior to the Iraq invasion?

And the list of crimes goes on and on......

Put your memory cap on....think back to right before we invaded...Even the US corporate media aired at least once Saddam Hussein's offer to leave Iraq in order to avoid an invasion....Definitely makes George Bush look even crazier than Saddam Hussein doesn't it? AFter 1 million IRaqi's have died, at least 4 thousand American troops dead (these numbers are "fudged"---if a troop dies on the helicopter being transported to the hospital or in a hospital from his wounds he/she is not counted as a war fatality) and over 1 trillion Amerian dollars spent (the cost when the costs of the wounded to date are factored in)...when we realize none of this had to take place....and this is only a "portion" of the Bush/Cheney crimes....

Let's hold the hearings, let's get the facts, and THEN let us decide.

IF Congress can take the time to hold hearings on steroid abuse in baseball surely they can take the time to hold impeachment hearings.

The majority of the American people want Impeachment hearings. The majority of Americans love our country more than any political party. We want freedom and justice restored.

Is our Congress going remain complicit with the Bush/Cheney war crimes?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Hillary Clinton is Running like a Republican

Hillary Clinton is playing dirty tricks which are un-Democratic.

In New Hampshire, Clinton cronies mailed out a FALSE mailer suggesting that Obama was not a supporter of women's right to choose.

In Nevada, Hillary's allies are engaging in voter repression. That's right. Nevada Democrats who are supporting Hillary are now in court suing for a rule change (a rule change that these very same Democrats originally voted for.) That's right these very same democrats were part of a unamimous vote to allow democratic caucasses to take place in several casinos so that the casino workers would have a chance to participate in the Democratic primaries.

There was no problem until the casino worker's union voted to endore Barrack Obama. Now Hillary's Nevada cronies are suing to repeal the rule they themselves supported.

Hillary seems to know that her only chance of winning is to have FEWER voters coming to the polls. This is the anti-thesis of Democracy and is something I would expect from a Republican candidate not a Democrat.

Shame on Hillary Clinton and her allowing such actions to occur for her benefit.

CHALLENGE TO NANCY PELOSI--REFUTE THIS OR IMPEACH

REPOST FROM AFTERDOWNINGSTREET.ORG

NANCY PELOSI YOU MUST IMPEACH!

When people who honestly believe a lie
learn the truth, they will either cease believing,
or they will cease being honest.
--anonymous

Speaker Pelosi, President Bush could have achieved his goal of “regime change” in Iraq quickly and without the violence of war. Saddam Hussein offered, weeks before his country was invaded, to leave Iraq and go into exile. President Bush withheld this offer from public view—and refused it. Nor did the President need to invade Afghanistan to apprehend Osama bin Laden. On five different occasions, George Bush refused a standing offer from the Taliban to surrender Osama bin Laden—three times before 9/11 and twice thereafter, again without public disclosure.

No, the military engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan are not directed against terrorism. They are territorial in nature. Mr. Bush intended from his first days in office to invade the two countries: as early as late January, 2001, his Administration was developing the decisions and beginning the preparations for both military incursions. 9/11 was in the distant future, so the conflicts cannot be exercises in counter-terrorism, as the Bush Administration frequently and dishonestly insists. They are premeditated wars of unprovoked conquest and occupation.

Madam Speaker, if you know this, and if you continue refusing impeachment, then you are a criminal accomplice in violating the trust of the American people—and in violating both U.S. and international law.

If you do not know this truth about the wars, Madam Speaker, you must learn its details and embrace it, and then you must seek with dispatch and justice to impeach George Bush and Richard Cheney.

You claim you don’t have the votes. But to say that is to canvass the jury before the trial begins, before the evidence is presented and scrutinized. When the hideous truth of these wars is finally exposed—as it will be in the impeachment process—you will have the vote of every honest and patriotic member of the House of Representatives, Democrat and Republican alike.

Why isn’t the truth already widely known? There are two reasons. The Bush Administration is infamous for its pathological lying and secrecy: they have done everything in their power to distort or suppress the truth. And the mainstream press has become an engine of entertaining, not informing the American people: it is indifferent to the truth.

But the truth is always there, and it can be discovered in foreign news outlets, in the domestic alternate press, in book-length treatises, and in the passion for truth and unconstrained inquiry displayed by people posting to the Internet. These are the sources for the exposition to follow.

Madam Speaker, if you will not impeach, then you must refute this history, if you can.

THE WARS ARE NOT ABOUT TERRORISM

The Bush Administration’s Curious Behavior

Hours after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, President Bush told the world the United States would take the fight directly to the terrorists and the states that harbored them. Thus the Bush Administration’s “War on Terror” was born.

Less than a month later, on October 7, Mr. Bush launched a savage aerial bombardment of Afghanistan. He had the support of a shocked American citizenry and a sympathetic world, all of whom expected justice to be delivered soon to the terrorist Osama bin Laden and the harboring state embodied in the Taliban.

The incursion into Afghanistan was sold as the first action in the “War on Terror.” It was a brilliantly executed charade.

Flashback to October 12, 2000, a year earlier. The USS Cole, an American Navy destroyer in the Yemeni port of Aden, has suffered heavy damage from a terrorist attack, perpetrated by Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda.

Three weeks later officials of the Clinton Administration met with theTaliban in the Sheraton Hotel in Hamburg, Germany. To avoid a violent retaliation of furious bombing, the Taliban offered the unconditional surrender of Osama bin Laden.

Before the details of the transfer were completed, however, a Supreme Court ruling gave George W. Bush the White House, and the message was passed: the actual handover of bin Laden will be deferred until the Bush Administration is sworn in.

Once in office, the new Administration asked the Taliban to delay the handover of Osama bin Laden at least until February. As winter faded into spring, and spring into summer, the Administration demurred twice more.

Then Osama bin Laden struck again, on September 11, 2001.

On September 15, Taliban officials were flown in U.S. Air Force C-130 aircraft to the Pakistani city of Quetta, where the deal was sweetened. The standing offer of surrendering Osama bin Laden was renewed, but now the Taliban would also oversee the closure of bin Laden’s bases and training camps.

This time the White House simply rejected the offer out of hand. It did so again when the offer was repeated several weeks later, and days after that President Bush ordered the violence to begin.

The invasion of Afghanistan was something vastly different than a quest to apprehend a terrorist..

Sources for this section:

1. “Bush Rejects Taliban Offer to Hand bin Laden Over,” Guardian Unlimited (UK), October 14, 2001.

2. “Bush Rejects Taliban Offer to Surrender bin Laden,” Andrew Buncombe, The Independent (UK), October 15, 2001.

3. “Dreamers and Idiots: Britain and the US did everything to avoid a peaceful solution in Iraq and Afghanistan,” George Monbiot, The Guardian (UK), November 11, 2003.

4. “How Bush Was Offered bin Laden and Blew It,” Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair, CounterPunch, November 1, 2004.

5. “Did Bush try to stop bin Laden in his first eight months in office?” MSNBC Countdown, September 28, 2006.

The War in Afghanistan

The commitment to invade Afghanistan was made long before 9/11.

The Bush Administration wanted to secure for American energy companies—notably the Enron and Unocal Corporations—the strategic pipeline route across Afghanistan to the Caspian Basin. But the Taliban had signed a contract in 1996 with the Bridas Corporation of Argentina, preempting the route.

Scarcely settled in Washington in early 2001, the Bush Administration immediately pressed the Taliban to rescind the Bridas contract, and undertook planning for military intervention should negotiations fail. Administration officials and the Taliban met for talks three times throughout the spring and summer, in Washington D.C., Berlin, and Islamabad—but to no avail.

At the last session, in August, 2001 the Administration threatened a “carpet of bombs” if the Taliban did not comply. The Taliban would not. Soon thereafter—still weeks before September 11—President Bush notified Pakistan and India he would attack Afghanistan “before the end of October.”

Then 9/11. Then two more refusals of Osama bin Laden’s head. Then, on October 7, the Bush Administration looses the carpet of bombs.

Since then Afghanistan has been supplied with a puppet government, the Bridas contract is history, and the country is dotted today with permanent U.S. military bases in close proximity to the pipeline route. It was a war of conquest and occupation.

Counter-terrorism is scarcely visible. Osama bin Laden remains at large, the yield of “terrorists” to date consists of several hundred iconic and badly treated wretches in Guantanamo Bay, and terrorism in the Middle East has intensified, not diminished.

Sources for this section:

1. “Players on a rigged grand chessboard: Bridas, Unocal, and the Afghanistan pipeline,” Larry Chin, Online Journal, March, 2002.

2. Crude Politics: How Bush's Oil Cronies Hijacked the War on Terrorism, Paul Sperry, WND Books, 2003.

3. Alexander’s Gas and Oil Connections, February 23, 2003.

4. “A Timeline of Oil and Violence: Afghanistan”, see the website,

http://www.ringnebula.com/Oil/Timeline.htm

5. “Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Worsens Terrorism Threat,” New York Times, September 24, 2006.

6. “From Afghanistan to Iraq: Connecting the Dots with Oil,” Richard W. Behan, AlterNet, February 5, 2007.

THE WARS ARE ABOUT AMERICAN HEGEMONY—

AND OIL

The War in Iraq

The template for the invasion of Iraq was crafted in 1992, in Richard Cheney’s Defense Department during the first Bush Administration. It was a document advocating a U.S. posture of singular global dominance in economic, diplomatic, and military power. The authors were Paul Wolfowitz, Zalmay Khalilzad, and Lewis “Scooter” Libby. Their document spoke explicitly about the need to secure “...access to vital raw materials, primarily Persian Gulf oil,” and Iraq was in the crosshairs.

In 1996, the Project for the New American Century was created, touting the term “global hegemony,” and seeking to maintain America’s status as the world’s only superpower, using preemptive war if necessary. Among the founders of the PNAC were the earlier advocates of world dominion: Richard Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Zalmay Khalilzad, and Lewis “Scooter” Libby. Donald Rumsfeld, and Jeb Bush were founding members as well.

In a 1998 letter to President Clinton the PNAC people once again sought the invasion of Iraq. Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Zalmay Khalilzad, and 15 others signed the letter.

In September of 2000 the Project for the New American Century once more advocated the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Then four months later, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Zalmay Khalilzad, Lewis “Scooter” Libby—and 24 others from the PNAC—moved into top positions in the Bush Administration.

The commitment to invade Iraq was made at the first meeting of President Bush’s National Security Council in January of 2001.

The rationale was ideological, apparently: by means of a preemptive war, to take an initial step toward global hegemony. A more tangible objective would soon emerge.

Sources for this section:

1. “Empire Builders: Neoconservatives and their blueprint for U.S. Power,” Christian Science Monitor , a series appearing June, 2005.

2. The website of the Project for the New American Century. See

http://www.newamericancentury.org/

3. The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O’Neill, by Ron Suskind, Simon and Schuster, 2004.

4. “From Afghanistan to Iraq: Connecting the Dots with Oil,” Richard W. Behan, AlterNet, February 5, 2007.

Regime Change

In December of 2002, 3 months before his country was invaded, Saddam Hussein invited the Bush Administration to send U.S. troops into Iraq to search for weapons of mass destruction, and he said he could prove Iraq was not involved in 9/11. His entreaty was turned aside by President Bush and Vice President Cheney. Two months later Hussein promised unlimited access to the FBI to search for WMD’s, support for the US position on Israel and Palestine, and even some limited rights to Iraq’s oil. All this was rejected. Finally, in desperation Saddam Hussein offered personally to depart Iraq for exile in Egypt or Saudi Arabia. Once again he was refused by the White House, and soon thereafter cruise missiles pounded Baghdad and U.S. tanks rolled across the border from Kuwait.

Regime change was not the objective: that could have been achieved bloodlessly with Saddam Hussein’s exile. Combating terrorism couldn’t possibly have been the objective, either: when President Bush invaded Iraq, there was no sign of al Qaeda in the country at all. There had to be some other purpose.

Sources for this section:

1. “Dreamers and Idiots: Britain and the US did everything to avoid a peaceful solution in Iraq and Afghanistan,” George Monbiot, The Guardian (UK), November 11, 2003.

2. “Llego el momento de deshacerse de Saddam,” El Pais (Spain), a transcript of a conversation between George Bush, Condoleezza Rice, and Jose Maria Anzar in Crawford, Texas, February 22, 2003. Published September 26, 2007.

Oil

Within weeks of taking office the Bush Administration was studying maps of the Iraqi oil fields, pipelines, refineries, tanker terminals, and undeveloped oil exploration blocks. A National Security Council document dated February 3, 2001 spoke of “…actions regarding the capture of new and existing oil and gas fields.” Later in the year the Bush State Department undertook the “Future of Iraq Project,” in one element of which Administration bureaucrats and oil company representatives planned the postwar deconstruction of Iraq’s nationalized oil industry. It would be replaced by a clever form of privatization, hugely favoring American and British oil companies. This planning was underway in October of 2001, exactly a year before Congress authorized military force in Iraq.

The State Department’s plan was codified in a model “hydrocarbon law” drafted during Paul Bremer’s Coalition Provisional Authority, with direct participation of the American and British oil companies. The law was not translated from English into Arabic until elections had been held; then Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s cabinet approved the law on February 15, 2007 and submitted it to Parliament for passage.

The hydrocarbon law when passed will grant immensely profitable access for international oil companies to an estimated 81% of Iraq's undeveloped crude oil reserves. The favored companies are Exxon/Mobil, Chevron/Texaco, Royal Dutch/Shell, and BP/Amoco.

Enactment of the hydrocarbon law was proposed as a mandatory “benchmark” by President Bush in a speech on January 10, 2007. The benchmark was made statutory when the Democratic Congress passed the Iraq Accountability Act a short time later.

The tangible objective for invading and occupying Iraq was suspected early by the war’s opponents and it is now confirmed: to secure access to the country’s immense oil and gas resources. Evidence of success is everywhere. Iraq now has a puppet government and five permanent American “mega-bases” to house 100,000 troops for 50 years. The American embassy in Baghdad is ten times larger than any other U.S. embassy in the world. And in November, President Bush and Prime Minister Maliki signed a document called The Declaration of Principles, to assure an “enduring relationship” between their governments.

Sources for this section:

1. For copies of the Iraqi oil field maps, see the website of Judicial Watch, at: http://www.judicialwatch.org/oil-field-maps

2. “Contract Sport,” by Jane Mayer,The New Yorker, Issue 23, February 16, 2004.

3. Crude Designs: the Ripoff of Iraq's Oil Wealth, Gregg Mutitt, ed., the Platform Group, United Kingdom.

4. “Bush's Petro-Cartel Almost Has Iraq's Oil,” by Joshua Holland, published on the AlterNet website, October 16, 2006.

5. “Slick Connections: U.S. Influence on Iraqi Oil,” Erik Leaver and Greg Mutitt, Foreign Policy in Focus, July 18, 2007.

6. “Imperial Opportunities for U.S. Builders,” Tom Engelhardt, Asia Times, November 6, 2007.

7. “An ‘Enduring’ Relationship for Security and Enduring an Occupation for Oil,” Ann Wright, truthout website, December 5, 2007.

And so, Speaker Pelosi, here we are after six years of fraudulence, engaged in two wars of conquest and occupation the Bush Administration orchestrated in defiance of honesty, decency, morals, and law. Half a million lives and half a trillion dollars have been poured into the cesspool of their lies and deceit.

Truth and justice are the bedrocks of our existence as a nation. The Bush Administration has trampled truth. We cannot tolerate the withholding of justice as well. Madam Speaker, you must impeach.

Or can you refute this history?

Richard W. Behan lives and writes on Lopez Island, off the northwest coast of Washington state. He can be reached at rwbehan@rockisland.com . (This essay is deliberately not copyrighted: it may be reproduced without restriction.)