Archive for February, 2010

The Road to Armageddon

February 27, 2010

by Paul Craig Roberts

The Washington Times is a newspaper that looks with favor upon the Bush/Cheney/Obama/neocon wars of aggression in the Middle East and favors making terrorists pay for 9/11. Therefore, I was surprised to learn on February 24 that the most popular story on the paper’s website for the past three days was the “Inside the Beltway” report, “Explosive News,” about the 31 press conferences in cities in the US and abroad on February 19 held by Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, an organization of professionals which now has 1,000 members.

I was even more surprised that the news report treated the press conference seriously.

How did three World Trade Center skyscrapers suddenly disintegrate into fine dust? How did massive steel beams in three skyscrapers suddenly fail as a result of short-lived, isolated, and low temperature fires? “A thousand architects and engineers want to know, and are calling on Congress to order a new investigation into the destruction of the Twin Towers and Building 7,” reports the Washington Times.

The paper reports that the architects and engineers have concluded that the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Institute of Standards and Technology provided “insufficient, contradictory and fraudulent accounts of the circumstances of the towers’ destruction” and are “calling for a grand jury investigation of NIST officials.”

The newspaper reports that Richard Gage, the spokesperson for the architects and engineers said: “Government officials will be notified that ‘Misprision of Treason,’ U.S. Code 18 (Sec. 2382) is a serious federal offense, which requires those with evidence of treason to act. The implications are enormous and may have profound impact on the forthcoming Khalid Sheik Mohammed trial.”

There is now an organization, Firefighters for 9/11 Truth. At the main press conference in San Francisco, Eric Lawyer,the head of that organization, announced the firefighters’ support for the architects and engineers’ demands. He reported that no forensic investigation was made of the fires that are alleged to have destroyed the three buildings and that this failure constitutes a crime.

Mandated procedures were not followed, and instead of being preserved and investigated, the crime scene was destroyed. He also reported that there are more than one hundred first responders who heard and experienced explosions and that there is radio, audio and video evidence of explosions.

Also at the press conference, physicist Steven Jones presented the evidence of nano-thermite in the residue of the WTC buildings found by an international panel of scientists led by University of Copenhagen nano-chemist Professor Niels Harrit. Nano-thermite is a high-tech explosive/pyrotechnic capable of instantly melting steel girders.

Before we yell “conspiracy theory,” we should be aware that the architects, engineers, firefighters, and scientists offer no theory. They provide evidence that challenges the official theory. This evidence is not going to go away.

If expressing doubts or reservations about the official story in the 9/11 Commission Report makes a person a conspiracy theory kook, then we have to include both co-chairmen of the 9/11 Commission and the Commission’s legal counsel, all of whom have written books in which they clearly state that they were lied to by government officials when they conducted their investigation, or, rather, when they presided over the investigation conducted by executive director Philip Zelikow, a member of President George W. Bush’s transition team and Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and a co-author of Bush Secretary of State Condi “Mushroom Cloud” Rice.

There will always be Americans who will believe whatever the government tells them no matter how many times they know the government has lied to them. Despite expensive wars that threaten Social Security and Medicare, wars based on non-existent Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, non-existent Saddam Hussein connections to al Qaida, non-existent Afghan participation in the 9/11 attacks, and the non-existent Iranian nukes that are being hyped as the reason for the next American war of aggression in the Middle East, more than half of the U.S. population still believes the fantastic story that the government has told them about 9/11, a Muslim conspiracy that outwitted the entire Western world.

Moreover, it doesn’t matter to these Americans how often the government changes its story. For example, Americans first heard of Osama bin Laden because the Bush regime pinned the 9/11 attacks on him. Over the years video after video was served up to the gullible American public of bin Laden’s pronouncements. Experts dismissed the videos as fakes, but Americans remained their gullible selves. Then suddenly last year a new 9/11 “mastermind” emerged to take bin Laden’s place, the captive Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the detainee waterboarded 183 times until he confessed to mastermining the 9/11 attack.

In the Middle Ages confessions extracted by torture constituted evidence, but self-incrimination has been a no-no in the U.S. legal system since our founding. But with the Bush regime and the Republican federal judges, whom we were assured would defend the U.S. Constitution, the self-incrimination of Sheik Mohammed stands today as the only evidence the U.S. government has that Muslim terrorists pulled off 9/11.

If a person considers the feats attributed to Khalid Sheik Mohammed, they are simply unbelievable. Sheik Mohammed is a more brilliant, capable superhero than V in the fantasy movie, “V for Vendetta.” Sheik Mohammed outwitted all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies along with those of all U.S. allies or puppets, including Israel’s Mossad. No intelligence service on earth or all of them combined was a match for Sheik Mohammed.

Sheik Mohammed outwitted the U.S. National Security Council, Dick Cheney, the Pentagon, the State Department, NORAD, the U.S. Air Force, and Air Traffic Control.
He caused Airport Security to fail four times in one morning. He caused the state-of-the-art air defenses of the Pentagon to fail, allowing a hijacked airliner, which was off course all morning while the U.S. Air Force, for the first time in history, was unable to get aloft intercepter aircraft, to crash into the Pentagon.

Sheik Mohammed was able to perform these feats with unqualified pilots.

Sheik Mohammed, even as a waterboarded detainee, has managed to prevent the FBI from releasing the many confiscated videos that would show, according to the official story, the hijacked airliner hitting the Penagon.

How naive do you have to be to believe that any human, or for that matter Hollywood fantasy character, is this powerful and capable?

If Sheik Mohammed has these superhuman capabilities, how did the incompetent Americans catch him? This guy is a patsy tortured into confession in order to keep the American naifs believing the government’s conspiracy theory.

What is going on here is that the U.S. government has to bring the 9/11 mystery to an end. The government must put on trial and convict a culprit so that it can close the case before it explodes. Anyone waterboarded 183 times would confess to anything.

The U.S. government has responded to the evidence being arrayed against its outlandish 9/11 conspiracy theory by redefining the war on terror from external to internal enemies. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said on February 21 that American extremists are now as big a concern as international terrorists. Extremists, of course, are people who get in the way of the government’s agenda, such as the 1,000 Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth. The group used to be 100, now it is 1,000. What if it becomes 10,000?

Cass Sunstein, an Obama regime official, has a solution for the 9/11 skeptics: Infiltrate them and provoke them into statements and actions that can be used to discredit or to arrest them. But get rid of them at all cost.

Why employ such extreme measures against alleged kooks if they only provide entertainment and laughs? Is the government worried that they are on to something?

Instead, why doesn’t the U.S. government simply confront the evidence that is presented and answer it?

If the architects, engineers, firefighters, and scientists are merely kooks, it would be a simple matter to acknowledge their evidence and refute it. Why is it necessary to infiltrate them with police agents and to set them up?

Many Americans would reply that “their” government would never even dream of killing Americans by hijacking airliners and destroying buildings in order to advance a government agenda. But on February 3, National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair told the House Intelligence Committee that the U.S. government can assassinate its own citizens when they are overseas. No arrest, trial, or conviction of a capital crime is necessary. Just straight out murder.

Obviously, if the U.S. government can murder its citizens abroad it can murder them at home, and has done so. For example, 100 Branch Davidians were murdered in Waco, Texas, by the Clinton administration for no legitimate reason. The government just decided to use its power knowing that it could get away with it, which it did.

Americans who think “their” government is some kind of morally pure operation would do well to familiarize themselves with Operation Northwoods. Operation Northwoods was a plot drawn up by the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff for the CIA to commit acts of terrorism in American cities and fabricate evidence blaming Castro so that the U.S. could gain domestic and international support for regime change in Cuba. The secret plan was nixed by President John F. Kennedy and was declassified by the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Review Board. It is available online in the National Security Archive. There are numerous online accounts available, including Wikipedia. James Bamford’s book, Body of Secrets, also summarizes the plot:

“Operation Northwoods, which had the written approval of the Chairman [Gen. Lemnitzer] and every member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called for innocent people to be shot on American streets; for boats carrying refugees fleeing Cuba to be sunk on the high seas; for a wave of violent terrorism to be launched in Washington, D.C., Miami, and elsewhere. People would be framed for bombings they did not commit; planes would be hijacked. Using phony evidence, all of it would be blamed on Castro, thus giving Lemnitzer and his cabal the excuse, as well as the public and international backing, they needed to launch their war.”

Prior to 9/11 the American neoconservatives were explicit that the wars of aggression that they intended to launch in the Middle East required “a new Pearl Harbor.”

For their own good and that of the wider world, Americans need to pay attention to the growing body of experts who are telling them that the government’s account of 9/11 fails their investigation. 9/11 launched the neoconservative plan for U.S. world hegemony. As I write the U.S. government is purchasing the agreement of foreign governments that border Russia to accept U.S. missile interceptor bases. The U.S. intends to ring Russia with U.S. missile bases from Poland through central Europe and Kosovo to Georgia, Azerbaijan and central Asia. [see http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=17709 ] U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke declared on February 20 that al Qaida is moving into former central Asian constituent parts of the Soviet Union, such as Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan. Holbrooke is soliciting U.S. bases in these former Soviet republics under the guise of the ever-expanding “war on terror.”

The U.S. has already encircled Iran with military bases. The U.S. government intends to neutralize China by seizing control over the Middle East and cutting China off from oil.

This plan assumes that Russia and China, nuclear armed states, will be intimidated by U.S. anti-missile defenses and acquiesce to U.S. hegemony and that China will lack oil for its industries and military.

The U.S. government is delusional. Russian military and political leaders have responded to the obvious threat by declaring NATO a direct threat to the security of Russia and by announcing a change in Russian war doctrine to the pre-emptive launch of nuclear weapons. The Chinese are too confident to be bullied by a washed up American “superpower.”

The morons in Washington are pushing the envelop of nuclear war. The insane drive for American hegemony threatens life on earth. The American people, by accepting the lies and deceptions of “their” government, are facilitating this outcome.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article24872.htm

White American Terrorists

February 26, 2010

by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley

What a difference a white face makes! A pale visage allows a terrorist to escape the label, even when he crashes a plane into a public building for political reasons. The appearance of being a “nice” white girl can get one away with murder. White privilege is the gift that keeps on giving.

White people can commit terrorist acts without having the terror label applied to them in any way. Joseph Stack and Amy Bishop are the two most recent examples of this phenomenon. The benefits of white skin privilege are never ending and extremely dangerous to humanity.

Stack deliberately flew his small plane into an Austin, Texas building after posting an anti-government rant online. He, like millions of other people, didn’t like paying taxes to the Internal Revenue Service, which was housed in the building he sought to destroy. The incident was of course covered by the 24 hour per day cable news channels, whose usual incompetence in conveying useful information was on full display. The question on the lips of every anchor person was, “Terrorism or not?” When it became clear that a white man who blamed the IRS for all his problems was the culprit, that question was incredibly answered with a resounding “No.”

An individual intentionally crashing a plane into a building meets any possible definition of a terrorist. Fortunately, Stack killed only one other person, but that fact is inconsequential. His goal was to kill many more. Yet the perpetrator’s whiteness trumped common sense, and the evidence left in plain sight. He wasn’t a Muslim or a person of color, so there was no need to think him of him as another bin Laden.

Not only was the “T” word not applied to Stack, but his anti-government screed has even been called “populist” by pundits and bloggers who ought to know better. The tea party crowd immediately produced Facebook pages extolling the virtues of his violent act. Like Stack, they don’t dare call themselves what they are, white nationalists. Instead they hide behind seemingly bizarre obsessions and illogic ravings, and denial about them makes them more emboldened.

Stack claimed the right to take lives because he was angry about his personal problems with the IRS. “…violence not only is the answer, it is the only answer.” That ideology is the point of commonality for every group or person labeled as terrorist. Individuals who are angry with the United States government’s foreign policy and who choose to kill Americans because of that anger, are always called terrorists if they are foreigners and not white. Not only that, but the United States government reserves the right to assassinate them. Those rules don’t apply to the Stacks of the world, even when they leave behind written proof of their intentions.

There is another kind of threat in our midst and it is posed by the dangerous person whose violent and bizarre behaviors are ignored in deference to their whiteness. The killer scientist at the University of Alabama at Huntsville is but the latest example. Amy Bishop, like Joseph Stack, felt highly aggrieved when she experienced a situation shared by many others. She was denied tenure, which meant she would have to look for another job. Instead she embarked on a quixotic effort to have the decision overturned and her anger culminated in the shooting deaths of three colleagues, two African Americans and one Indian national.

Shortly after the killings, it was revealed that Bishop shot her own brother to death more than 20 years ago. She then held two individuals at gunpoint in a failed escape attempt and even pointed her gun at police (without being shot herself). Inexplicably, that same police force never even charged her with a crime. The killing was ruled accidental without Bishop ever having to explain her actions to the criminal justice system. The state police in Massachusetts were never informed that she threatened two people after killing her brother.

Perhaps it isn’t so inexplicable that a “nice” white girl would be sprung from jail without charges being filed because her “nice” white mother showed up and asked for her release. Bishop’s mother served on the Braintree, Massachusetts town council, which probably led to some of the favorable treatment. More than likely, the mere presence of the right kind of white family pleading her case was enough reason for Bishop’s brother and her other would be victims to be ignored and forgotten.

Before the university shootings, Bishop had assaulted a patron in a restaurant, and most disturbingly, was suspected of mailing a pipe bomb to a professor she believed had given her a bad evaluation. After the University of Alabama shootings, Bishop’s surviving colleagues quickly pointed out to police that they feared she may have booby trapped their laboratory with deadly germs. Their fears about her behavior were apparently insufficient for her to have been dealt with in a way that might have saved lives.

A killing, assaults, and fears of chemical weapons use were not enough to stop this clearly unstable woman and put her under the supervision of law enforcement where she obviously should have been. She literally couldn’t get arrested no matter what she did.

Stack lived in a large home, which he burned down before his flight, and of course he owned the plane he used as a weapon. Yet he considered himself oppressed to such an extent that he called for violence. Bishop has a Ph.D. from a prestigious university who instead of looking for work, chose to kill.

Both Stack and Bishop felt entitled. They felt entitled to get what they wanted and to do what they wanted. White folks grievances are indeed an awesome force, and so is denial about them. A white face does work wonders. It will keep police and prosecutors from investigating killings and it will keep a terrorist from being called just that.

There are millions of silent, angry people in this country. Many of them will not act out their sick fantasies, but others will. They won’t be called terrorists or they get away with one murder and go on to commit more. As long as the assumptions about white people are positive, the Stacks and Bishops and their murderous acts, will always be with us.

Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached at Margaret.Kimberley@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Obomber’s Secretary of “Defense”: European Aversion to War a Danger to Peace

February 24, 2010

Speaking today at the National Defense University, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates condemned European nations in general for their refusal to contribute larger portions of their population to NATO.

Gates warned that Europe’s aversion to war was doing serious harm to assorted US military operations with NATO backing, and was therefore “an impediment” to the lasting peace he envisions those wars eventually creating.

Gates’ comments appeared to be directed in part at the Netherlands, who saw its government collapse this weekend after NATO pressure to continue its commitment to the Afghan War led antiwar members of the government to withdraw.

He said that the “demilitarization of Europe” was a long-term, systemic problem for NATO, and that the European members of NATO needed to increase their military spending to NATO mandated levels.

http://news.antiwar.com/2010/02/23/gates-european-aversion-to-war-a-danger-to-peace/print/

Sibei Edmonds: The Traitors Among Us

February 24, 2010

by Brad Friedman

SIBEL EDMONDS, a former FBI translator, claims that the following government officials have committed what amount to acts of treason. They are lawmakers Dennis Hastert, Bob Livingston, Dan Burton, Roy Blunt, Stephen Solarz and Tom Lantos, as well as at least three members of George W. Bush’s inner circle: Douglas Feith, Paul Wolfowitz and Marc Grossman. But is Sibel Edmonds credible?

“Absolutely, she’s credible,” Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) told CBS’s 60 Minutes when he was asked about her in 2002. “The reason I feel she’s very credible is because people within the FBI have corroborated a lot of her story.” Edmonds’s remarkable allegations of bribery, blackmail, infiltration of the U.S. government and the theft of nuclear secrets by foreign allies and enemies alike rocked the Bush Administration. In fact, Bush and company actually prevented Edmonds from telling the American people what she knew—up until now.

John M. Cole, an 18-year veteran of the FBI’s Counterintelligence and Counterespionage departments, revealed the panic of upper-echelon officials when Edmonds originally started talking back in 2002. “Well, the Bureau is gonna have to try to work something out with Sibel,” Cole said an FBI executive assistant told him at the time, “because they don’t want this to go out and become public.”

But they couldn’t “work something out with Sibel” because, it seems, she wasn’t looking to make a deal. Edmonds says she was looking to expose what she believed to be the ugly truth about the infiltration of the U.S. government by foreign spies. They were enabled, Edmonds claimed, by high-ranking U.S. officials and insider moles planted at nuclear weapons facilities around the nation.

“Everybody at headquarters level at the Bureau knew what she was saying was extremely accurate,” Cole said recently. “They were trying to figure out ways of keeping this whole thing quiet because they didn’t want Sibel to come out.”

Her under-oath testimony for the Ohio Election Commission, given in a recent videotaped deposition, is both shocking and horrifying. (Edmonds was the star witness for Congressional candidate David Krikorian in connection with a formal complaint initiated by Representative Jean Schmidt [R-Ohio]. Challenging her in 2008, a Krikorian flyer had accused Schmidt of accepting “blood money” from Turkish interests to help block a House bill recognizing Turkey’s genocide of Armenians in 1915.) The deposition was allowed to proceed by the Obama Administration, which chose not to invoke the draconian and little-known “State Secrets Privilege” to gag her, as the previous administration had done, twice.

Edmonds testified that Congressman Dennis Hastert (R-Illinois), a former Speaker of the House, was involved in “several categories” of corruption on behalf of Turkish agents, according to information she claims to have heard while translating and analyzing FBI counterintelligence wiretaps recorded from 1996 through 2002. She mentioned his “acceptance of large sums of bribery in forms of cash or laundered cash” coupled with the ability “to do certain favors…make certain things happen for… [the] Turkish government’s interest.”

Edmonds also alleged, on the public record, Hastert’s use of a “townhouse that was not his residence for certain not very morally accepted activities” and said that “foreign entities knew about this. In fact, they sometimes participated in some of those…activities in that particular townhouse.”

The allegations against Hastert include accepting some half-million dollars in bribes. While several FBI sources have corroborated Edmonds’s account, the best Hastert’s attorneys could do was offer a nondenial denial to the charges. But the proof, as they say, may be in the post-Congressional pudding. As Edmonds had predicted years earlier, Hastert—who left Congress in 2007—now makes $35,000 a month lobbying his old colleagues as a registered foreign agent for the Turkish government.

Former Congressman Bob Livingston (RLouisiana), who was set to become Speaker prior to Hastert until evidence of a sexual affair was revealed by Larry Flynt, was described in Edmonds’s deposition as having participated in “not very legal activities on behalf of foreign interests” before leaving office in 1999. Afterward, she said, Livingston acted “as a conduit to…further foreign interests, both overtly and covertly,” and also became both a lobbyist and “an operative” representing Turkish interests.

According to Edmonds, Representative Roy Blunt (R-Missouri)—likely to run for a U.S. Senate seat in 2010—was “the recipient of both legally and illegally raised…campaign donations from…Turkish entities.” Edmonds also claimed that hard-right Representative Dan Burton (R-Indiana), who was instrumental in the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, carried out “extremely illegal activities” and covert operations that were “against the United States citizens” and “against the United States’ interests.”

Edmonds named allegedly traitorous Democrats too. She said that former New York Congressman Stephen Solarz, now also a lobbyist, “acted as conduit to deliver or launder contributions and other bribe[s, including blackmail] to certain members of Congress.” And, according to Edmonds, the late Congressman Tom Lantos (D-California) was said to have been involved in “not only…bribe[ry], but also…disclosing [the] highest level protected U.S. intelligence and weapons technology information both to Israel and to Turkey [and] other very serious criminal conduct.”

The most overtly salacious of the allegations involved Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois), who is “married with…grown children, but she is bisexual,” according to Edmonds. The FBI whistleblower described how Schakowsky was “hooked” by Turkish agents into having a lesbian “sexual relationship with one of their spies,” and “the entire episodes of their sexual conduct was being filmed because the entire house…was bugged…to be used for certain things that they wanted to request.”

Edmonds noted, however, that she didn’t “know if she [Schakowsky] did anything illegal afterwards” since Edmonds was fired by the FBI before learning what came of that particular setup. The Turks, she said, intended to get at Schakowsky’s husband, lobbyist Robert Creamer, who in April 2006 began serving five months in prison (and 11 months of house arrest) for check-kiting and failing to collect withholding tax.

Schakowsky’s office has vehemently denied the allegations. As head of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation, Schakowsky might be expected to hold hearings on any of the former FBI employee’s revelations but she has not. She has also refused Edmonds’s challenge to take a polygraph test and has not yet sued her for libel, as the whistleblower has challenged her to do.

Edmonds’s most disturbing allegations, however, may be against high-ranking appointed officials in the Bush Administration. Elaborating on testimony she laid out in her sworn deposition, Edmonds told American Conservative magazine’s Phil Giraldi—a 17-year CIA counterterrorism officer—very specific details of alleged traitorous schemes perpetrated by top State and Defense Department officials. As already noted, these included Douglas Feith, Paul Wolfowitz and, perhaps most notably, former Deputy Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman, the third-highest-ranking official in the Bush State Department.

Edmonds said that Feith and Wolfowitz were involved in plans to break Iraq into U.S. and British protectorates months prior to 9/11. She also claimed that the duo shared information with Grossman on how to blackmail various officials and that Grossman had accepted cash to help procure and sell nuclear weapons technology to Israel and Turkey—and, from there, on to the foreign black market. There the technology would be purchased by the highest bidder, such as Pakistan, Iran, Libya, North Korea or possibly even al-Qaeda.

Additionally, Edmonds claimed that Grossman, the U.S. Ambassador to Turkey before taking his State Department post, had tipped off Turkish diplomats to the true identity of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson’s front company, Brewster Jennings & Associates, a full three years prior to their being publicly outed by columnist Robert Novak. That in itself, according to George H.W. Bush, would be an act of treason carried out by “the most insidious of traitors.”

Former CIA counterterrorism officer Giraldi summed up Edmonds’s disclosures to me in blunt terms: “This was a massive coordinated espionage effort directed against United States nuclear secrets engineered by foreign agents who successfully corrupted senior government officials and legislators in our Congress. It’s that simple.”

According to a declassified version of a 2005 Department of Justice Inspector General’s report, Sibel Edmonds’s allegations are “credible,” “serious” and “warrant a thorough and careful review by the FBI.”
Perhaps more damningly, the FBI’s John Cole recently confirmed a key element of Edmonds’s claims when he revealed the existence of “the FBI’s decade-long investigation” of the State Department’s Grossman. Edmonds claimed that Grossman was perhaps the top U.S. ringleader for the entire foreign espionage scheme. The probe, Cole added, “ultimately was buried and covered up.”

Cole, who now works as an intelligence contractor for the Air Force, not only finds Edmonds “very credible,” but also confirms the “ongoing and detailed effort by Turkey to develop influence in the United States” through a number of illegal means.

“Turkish individuals would ask for favors—ya know, ‘You help me out, and I’ll help you out’—and basically what would happen is the elected official would either receive money or some kind of gift,” Cole explained. “Or, if it was a government employee, I’ve seen it where after they retired, they get these very lucrative positions with a Turkish company, or whatever the country may be.”

As noted, Hastert now works for Turkey, and Grossman now works for a Turkish company and as a lobbyist—no doubt raking in a pretty penny from both. Hastert and Grossman repeatedly ignored requests to comment on these charges.

The mainstream U.S. media, however, apparently remain uninterested in investigating any of it. Not even after Cole himself called for a “Special Counsel” to investigate and prosecute. So what the hell is going on here?
Giraldi believes that, as with companies such as AIG and GM becoming “too big to fail,” the size and success of this massive national security espionage scandal has simply become too big to bust.

He told me, “You have to look at Marc Grossman being part of a much bigger operation in terms of the Israelis and the Turks obtaining influence over our legislators and over a number of senior government officials at the Pentagon and State Department. Because this thing was so big, and it affected both Democrats and Republicans, I think the U.S. government is terrified of opening up this Pandora’s box.”

Giraldi added, “The people in Congress and in the Justice Department who should be investigating this…and also in the media—because the media is tied hand and foot to government—this is all part of one big, you know, conspiracy, if you want to look at it this way. And, essentially, this is a story that they don’t want to get out.”

So why, exactly, isn’t the media covering Sibel Edmonds, whom the ACLU once described as “the most gagged person in the history of the U.S.,” now that she is finally able to tell her story? It’s a story, after all, that the legendary 1970s whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg has deemed “far more explosive than the Pentagon Papers.”

“If we had an effective mainstream media that was going after this story, that would make it come out,” Giraldi noted. “But we don’t have an effective media.” He then pointed out one more reason for the media’s reluctance to dig into this story: “According to Sibel, Grossman actually bragged that he would get from the Turks the information that they wanted to appear in an article. He would write it up, and he would fax it over to the New York Times, and they would print it just as he had written it under somebody else’s byline.”

Guess we won’t expect any coverage of this scandal from the New York Times, “the paper of record,” any time soon. And if a story isn’t covered by the Times, and thereafter picked up by everybody else, did it really happen? Given the complicity of the media with regard to Sibel Edmonds, it would appear the government never even needed to invoke the “State Secrets Privilege” in the first place.

As of this writing, HUSTLER stands to be the largest, most “corporate” U.S. outlet in which these startling, now-public, on-the-record disclosures have been reported. The moral: Pull off a large enough crime, and it becomes too big to do anything about.

http://larryflynt.com/?tag=roy-blunt

More Candidates Favoring State-owned Banks

February 23, 2010

by ellen brown

While bank bailouts fatten Wall Street, states continue to battle the credit crisis. In the search for innovative solutions, some political candidates are proposing that states generate their own credit by setting up their own banks.

State budgets for 2010 face the largest shortfalls on record, totaling $194 billion or 28 percent of state budgets; 2011 is expected to be worse. Unemployment has already officially hit 10 percent, and many economists expect it to rise higher. Continued high unemployment will keep state income tax receipts at low levels and increase demand for Medicaid and other essential services states provide. The existing alternatives are spending cuts or tax increases, but both will just serve to make the downturn deeper. When states cut spending, they lay off employees, cancel contracts with vendors, eliminate or lower payments to businesses and nonprofit organizations that provide direct services, and cut benefit payments to individuals. The result is a reduction in overall demand. Tax increases also remove demand, by reducing the amount of money people have to spend.

Amanda Paulson, writing in The Christian Science Monitor, quotes Arturo Pérez, fiscal analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures, which released its survey of state budget situations in December:

“Unless you’re North Dakota, you’re probably a state that has had some degree of difficulty or crisis involving finances. It’s the worst situation states have faced in decades, perhaps going as far back as the Great Depression in some states.”

“Unless you’re North Dakota” – a state with a sizable budget surplus, and the only state that is adding jobs when other states are losing them. A poll reported on February 13 ranked that weather-challenged state first in the country for citizen satisfaction with their standard of living. North Dakota’s affluence has been attributed to oil, but other states with oil are in deep financial trouble. The big drop in oil and natural gas prices propelled Oklahoma into a budget gap that is 18.5 percent of its general-fund budget. California is also resource-rich, with a $2 trillion economy; yet it has a worse credit rating than Greece. So what is so special about North Dakota? The answer seems to be that it is the only state in the union that owns its own bank. It doesn’t have to rely on a recalcitrant Wall Street for credit. It makes its own.

Candidates Across the Spectrum Pick Up on the Public Bank Model

In the quest to find ways to divorce the well-being of their states from the financial sector, a growing number of candidates are picking up on the public bank alternative. Florida, Illinois, Oregon, Massachusetts, Idaho and California all have candidates whose platforms contain this proposed solution to the credit crisis.

A publicly-owned bank has also been proposed on the federal level. Nationalizing the Federal Reserve (which is not actually federal but is owned by a consortium of private banks) was advocated by 2008 presidential candidates Dennis Kucinich, a Democrat, and Cynthia McKinney, the Green Party candidate. In 2009, Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz said the government would have been better off funding a federally-owned bank than doling out trillions of dollars to private investment banks and CEOs who speculated their way into bankruptcy. Speaking at the New York Society for Ethical Culture on March 6, 2009, he said:

“If we had used the $700 billion to create a new financial institution, allowed it to lever 10 to 1, which is very modest compared to the 30 to 1 that we were doing, 10 to 1 would have generated $7 trillion of new lending capacity, far in excess of what our country needs. So the issue here is not about lending. It’s really about saving the bankers. And what we confused was saving the banks versus saving the bankers and their shareholders.”

But nationalizing the Federal Reserve faces powerful opponents in Congress. Meanwhile, on the state level, the public bank concept is gaining ground, attracting proponents across the political spectrum, including Democrats, Republicans and Greens. The issue transcends party lines. In North Dakota, a Republican state, the state-owned bank was inaugurated by a political party appropriately called the “Non-Partisan League.”

Oregon: The Bankers’ Bank Model

In Oregon, Bill Bradbury has included a state bank platform in his bid for governor. Bradbury, a Democrat, was formerly secretary of state and has been endorsed by former Vice President Al Gore. His Web site declares:

“It is time to put Oregonians back to work. It is also time to declare economic sovereignty from the multinational banks that in large part are responsible for much of our current economic crisis. We can achieve these two goals by creating our own bank.”

The Oregonian, Oregon’s largest newspaper, reported that Bradbury plans to deposit tax revenues in the public-interest bank, keeping Oregon’s money in Oregon. The bank would then lend the money to get the economy going again, targeting small and medium-sized businesses. Interest would be poured back into the state through more loans to start-up businesses, agriculture and other key sectors. Currently, Oregon deposits hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenues into large out-of-state banks, siphoning the money off from productive in-state uses. Many of these banks are the very banks needing federal bailouts to keep from failing in 2008, after years of handing out risky mortgage loans. These banks have now grown tight-fisted with Main Street borrowers, making Bradbury’s plan to get money flowing again especially appealing to Oregon voters.

Bradbury uses the Bank of North Dakota (BND) as his model. Like the BND, the Bank of Oregon would return a dividend to the state based on its earnings, while creating jobs and stimulating the economy through lending. The state bank would not replace private banking institutions, but would partner with them, particularly with community banks, providing them with new customers and helping them provide new services. To assure the state bank’s independence from existing financial powers, Bradbury proposes that a board of directors appointed by Oregon’s Senate should govern the bank, while taking advice from an advisory committee of experts.

Idaho: Keeping State Assets in the State

In Idaho, James Stivers, a Republican candidate for the Idaho Senate, has also proposed a state bank to fill state coffers and protect the local economy. In the first indication of a political shift among grassroots Republicans, Stivers swept a closed-ballot preference poll at the GOP District 2 Central Committee meeting in Coeur d’Alene on February 13, winning the non-binding poll 10-0. Stivers declares:

“An important part of sovereignty is the monetary authority. Currently, banks are allowed to multiply many times over the tax receipts deposited in their institutions. This special privilege is partly responsible for the ‘sucking sound’ in our local economies, as regional banks send their assets to central banks that are playing the derivatives markets of the world.

“A state bank would restore this privilege to the people in a public trust and would give us the opportunity to back our deposits with the wealth from our public lands.”

Stivers sees the bank as a way to facilitate small business startups, end the ability of private banks to cream profits from the public treasury, protect key budget items and stave off excessive influence from the federal government. He suggests the novel approach of expanding the role of Idaho’s Bond Bank authority into a full-fledged state bank. The current banking system, he says, causes inflation, one of the “greatest detriments to a living wage”:

“Inflation is caused by the secret tax of the banking industry in which lenders use the multiplier effect to the benefit of their cronies. This secret tax takes the form of a decline in the value of the dollar and results in higher prices. Wages never keep up with this process because its very purpose is to extract wealth from the wage earner to support the privileged classes who curry the favor of lenders. A state bank would restore this privilege to the people in a public trust and would give us the opportunity to back our deposits with the wealth from our public lands.”

Illinois: Using a State-Owned Bank to Fund Infrastructure

In Illinois, Green Party gubernatorial candidate Rich Whitney has other ideas for a state-owned bank. Illinois is listed by the Pew Center for the States as one of nine states confronting historic budget problems. In a recent response to the governor’s State of the State Address, Whitney said:

“I am the only candidate in this race who proposes to fund public improvements, and promote economic health, without any further tax increases, through the establishment of a state bank, a progressive idea that North Dakota adopted years ago, and that has helped keep that state debt-free even in these troubled economic times. Instead of going into more and more debt, to further enrich private banks, we should be using our tax revenue to further invest in our own State and its people, for the enrichment of our own economy.”

The bank would use tax revenues and pension contributions as the financial base to expand credit where it is most needed. Illinois’ bank would borrow from the Federal Reserve at the same 1 percent rate as commercial banks. Once the budget was balanced, Whitney’s top priorities would be to use the new money to modernize energy infrastructure and promote solar and wind power. To achieve this, property owners of land where wind and solar generators could be located would be lent money through the state bank at a minimal 1 percent interest rate. To secure repayment, Whitney would require utilities to buy power from the solar and wind-based producers at a premium rate. One option would then be to require part of this premium to be paid to the state bank until the loan is returned. This arrangement, says Whitney, would create a win-win situation:

“The bank is paid back. The homeowner, farmer or business investing in solar or wind generation realizes immediate savings on energy costs and in many cases will go from being a net consumer to a net producer of energy. Their greater income will further stimulate the economy. The utilities will have to pay the cost of the premium rate but in the long run will realize the benefits of having a greater, stable, more diversified and decentralized energy grid, ultimately cheaper in the face of rising fossil fuel prices. As economies of scale are realized in wind and solar power generation, the costs will fall, as will the necessary premium rate. And we all benefit from the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.”

Florida: The Commercial Bank Model

Economist and author Farid Khavari, a Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Florida, proposes a state-owned bank that would lend directly to borrowers. The Bank of North Dakota usually uses a “lead lender” such as a bank, savings and loan company, or credit union rather than doing commercial lending directly. Dr. Khavari maintains that the Bank of the State of Florida could be launched at no cost to taxpayers by using the state’s assets as the reserves for making loans, employing the same fractional reserve lending rules used by private banks today. In this way, he says, the bank could drive an “economic miracle” in Florida, instigating massive job creation, cutting costs in half or more, providing low-interest financing to homeowners and businesses, and improving teacher salaries and care for veterans and the elderly, while at the same time reducing taxes. He explains:

“The economy is collapsing due to lack of demand. The economy needs money, but the banks are cutting credit, and then sucking all the cash out of the economy by raising interest rates to make sure no one has any cash left at the end of the month. The cost of interest is built into the cost of everything. People already work ten years of their lives just to pay interest in one form or another. The Bank of the State of Florida will end that for Floridians. And this model will work for every state….

“We can pay 6 percent interest on savings. Using the same fractional reserve rules as all banks, we can create $900 of new money through loans for every $100 in deposits. We can loan that $900 in the form of 2 percent fixed rate 15-year mortgages, for example, and the state can earn $12 every year for every $100 in deposits. That means Floridians can save tens of billions of dollars per year while the state earns billions making it possible for them.

“State and local government budgets will balance without higher taxes when the BSF cuts interest costs. 6 percent BSF credit cards will save people billions per month, money that stays in Florida instead of going to the big banks – and the state will make huge profits on that, too. Saving billions in interest costs will create millions of jobs without subsidies just by keeping those billions circulating in Florida. Eventually the state will earn enough to reduce and eliminate state and local taxes while every Floridian has economic security in a recession-proof Florida.”

The Federal Reserve states on its Web site that the banking system as a whole leverages $100 in deposits into $900 in loans, but whether a single bank can do it alone has been challenged. Critics say that while banks do create money as loans, they have to replace the deposits when the checks leave the bank in order for the checks to clear. How this all works is a bit complicated and will be the subject of another article, but suffice it to say here in response that if a bank does not have the deposits to cover its outgoing checks, it borrows from the interbank lending market at very low rates, or issues commercial paper or CDs; and the state bank could do the same thing. It would not be fighting with the other banks for old deposits. Loans create new deposits, which can be borrowed back from the pool of “excess deposits” thereby created. Ninety-seven percent of the money supply has been created by commercial banks by turning loans into deposits, but that credit machine has frozen up. A state bank could get it flowing again.

California: Catching the Wave

California leads the nation in the sheer size of its budget gap. It too now has a gubernatorial candidate proposing to alleviate the state’s credit woes with a state-owned bank. Running on the Green Party ticket, Laura Wells is a former financial analyst who received 420,000 votes in her 2002 bid for state controller, more than any other Green Party candidate has earned in a partisan statewide race. According to her Web site:

“Rather than drowning in debt and begging Wall Street for loans, California can institute a State Bank that invests in California’s infrastructure, and future generations.”

She stated in a comment, “A state bank for California is part of my platform as a candidate for the Green Party nomination for Governor. I ran for State Controller to ‘Follow the Money.’ Now, we need to Fix the Money. A state bank would keep California’s wealth in the state. Rather than invest in Wall Street (we’ve hit the wall on that one) we can invest in our infrastructure and our future generations.”

Legislative Proposals

It is not just political hopefuls who are exploring the public bank option. Therese Murray currently presides over the Massachusetts State Senate. She has introduced legislation that would study the formation of a state-owned bank with the principal aim of boosting job creation in the state. Massachusetts now faces a 9.4 percent unemployment rate. “It wouldn’t be in competition with our small community banks,” she says. “We’ve got to free up some credit, and mortgage companies and banks have got to do a better job of allowing people to redo their mortgages.”

In Virginia, Congressman Bob Marshall, a Republican, introduced a bill in January to study whether to establish a bank that was owned, run, and controlled by the state. However, the plan was tabled in committee.

On February 16, the front page of the Huffington Post featured an article on the Bank of North Dakota and the precedent it sets for financially-strapped states. Besides political candidates promoting this option, it noted that a Washington State legislator and a Vermont House committee were exploring it.

North Dakota hit the Wall Street wall in 1919, when the Bank of North Dakota was established by the state legislature specifically to free farmers and small businessmen from the clutches of out-of-state bankers. For over 90 years, it has demonstrated the success of the public banking model. Other credit-choked states are finally taking notice and devising their own variations on the theme.

http://www.truthout.org/more-candidates-favoring-state-owned-banks57106?print

Obama proposes $950 billion ‘health’ bill with no public option

February 22, 2010

President Barack Obama made a last-ditch bid to revive his stalled U.S. insurance company bailout on Monday with a plan to make insurance coverage more affordable and to bolster government authority to regulate premium hikes. Republicans declared the effort dead on arrival. Such efforts to ‘regulate’ insurance cartel rate hikes would be overturned by this High Wh*re Court in five pico-seconds, and constitutional ‘scholar’ Obama knows it. This proposal is like every other Obama initiative, steeped in soaring rhetoric but baked in a lie. As to the GOP declaring the bill dead on arrival: Obama — the unpopular kid in high school who can’t get a date — is still *begging* to be let into their clique! Oh, please, please GOP – please like me! What a joke. At least Bush and Cheney (war criminals both) never wavered and didn’t give a rat’s rump what *anyone* thought about them! I CANNOT respect Obama, a cowardly sycophant, nor his defenders.

[See: Barack Obama: Change We Can Deceive In –A critique from the Left By Lori Price 19 Aug 2009.]

Rehearsals for a Civil War

February 22, 2010

By James Howard Kunstler

Amid the general incoherence of the Tea Party rebels and the failure of progressives to recognize the structural changes underway in a peak oil world, lies a deadly swamp of paradox where all parties may drown in the quicksand of their own muddled intentions.

The Tea Party appeals to the swelling numbers of the new former middle class angry at the sudden vanishing of their accustomed perqs and entitlements to a predictably comfortable suburban existence. They’re mad at the government and hot for “liberty.” But how do they propose to maintain the hyper-complexities of suburban life without taxes to pay for fixing the countless roads their lives depend on or to run the gold-plated central school districts that seem to exist solely to provide Friday night football? As for liberty, a handful of despotic corporations from McDonalds to WalMart have been granted the liberty to destroy the Tea-bagger’s bodies and the economic fabric of their communities — and they seem to want more of that kind of liberty, based on the recent decision of a “conservative” majority on the Supreme Court allowing corporations to buy elections. The Tea-baggers also apparently crave the liberty to push other people around, especially on questions of abortion and religion. That’s an interesting kind of freedom.

As more and more of them lose jobs and incomes, will they resent their government-issued extended unemployment benefits? I doubt that you’ll see them burning their own checks in big public demonstrations the way the Vietnam War protesters burned their draft cards. And of course this also goes for the retiree Tea-baggers who show up at their Tea Parties to inveigh against the government — except the agency that prints their social security checks, or the other one that pays for their liver transplants (while 40-million unretired, un-insured Americans under sixty-five get slammed with extortionary hospital bills for twenty-thousand dollar routine appendectomies that end up bankrupting them).

Meanwhile, the progressives led by President Obama are doing everything possible to deny the deep tectonic changes thundering through our economic arrangements. They have embarked on a campaign to sustain the unsustainable that will only aggravate and accelerate the more destructive effects of the historic changes underway. For instance, the financial crisis is nature’s way of telling us that banking occupies too much space in our economy — especially the “creative” kind of banking which thrives on innovations in fraud and swindles. Yet the progressives are shoveling the nation’s accumulated savings (and way beyond that to earnings-not-yet-saved) into a handful of gigantic banks whose employees live in a separate universe of luxury, and the bail-outs only guarantee more financial mischief based on efforts to get something-for-nothing — in the absence of an economy that turns capital investment into things of value.

Faced with the multiple threats of peak oil, the progressives are pounding billions into the automobile makers and shoveling tons of stimulus money into highway improvement projects, while the railroads we will desperately need in the future continue to be starved to death, and no effort is made to promote walkable communities — including a federally-led reform of our insane zoning laws which mandate a suburban development outcome in every corner of the country.

Faced with the hangover of a housing bubble, the president’s team has insidiously nationalized the racket and is doing everything possible to keep housing prices unrealistically inflated, so that nobody still lucky enough to have a median income can afford the median price of a house. Meanwhile, the agencies used to facilitate this accounting shell game — Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Ginnie Mae, etc. — are choking on worthless mortgage contracts and generating ever more new toxic mortgage paper.

Then, there is the question of our military adventures half a world away in Afghanistan and Iraq, where both parties are unwilling to face the basic conundrum of what happens when our troops leave those places. Even if we stamp out the current Taliban leadership there are countless avid up-and-comers burning to take their places, and numberless mountain valleys for them to hide in. Al Qaeda, of course, exists mainly as an international computer network. Good luck stamping that out. And if it’s oil we’re after in Iraq, there are three main possibilities after the last US soldier packs out: one is the unlikely possibility that a competent Iraqi national oil company decides to dole out drilling licenses to “preferred” companies (don’t hold your breath Exxon-Mobil); another is that Iraq cracks up into smaller ethnic units lacking the capital or coherence to get their oil out of the ground; and a third is that neighboring Iran comes to control the major oil-producing region around Basra. So, what’s it all about, Alfie? — besides squandering a trillion dollars we don’t really have.

Homeland security? Neither party is serious about defending the borders or limiting immigration, and anyway there are “soft” targets beyond counting all over the USA and small arms galore available to get the job done. Three guys with automatic rifles set loose in the Mall of America would be enough to push the retail sector over the edge into oblivion, taking with it the commercial real estate market and all the banks involved in financing it — in short, destroying the tattered remains of the so-called “consumer economy.”

My own guess about where this all leads is in the direction of more anger and incoherence by all parties involved — which will itself generate yet more anger in a spiraling centrifugal feedback loop that could eventually tear this nation apart. It will be instructive to see how some of these forces play out in the Health Care Reform “summit” that President Obama has called for this week. The Republicans will be rope-a-doped into the uncomfortable position of trying to explain why they have no ideas whatsoever about fixing the hopelessly cruel and unjust medical system that everybody except government employees suffers under. The Democrats will be juked into the equally unhappy position of explaining how a bankrupt US Treasury pays for a more equitable system — and the insurance companies will sit smirkingly on the sidelines watching both parties fail to address the necessary severe disciplining of the insurance racket.

In the background of even these momentous deliberations, the foundations of capital creak and shatter, the stock market infarcts and the bond market fibrillates, and all the accounting tricks ever dreamed of in the fantasies of Harvard MBAs and MIT math PhDs, and all the newly-evolved species of grifters and shysters who pull the levers of the system will not avail to hold back our inexorable journey into new circumstances that will really determine the outcome of these predicaments.


http://kunstler.com/blog/2010/02/rehearsals-for-a-civil-war.html

Impending Explosion: U.S. Intensifies Threats To Russia And Iran

February 21, 2010

Washington and its NATO allies launched two of the three major wars in the world over the past eleven years in March – against Yugoslavia in 1999 and against Iraq in 2003. The war drums are being pounded anew and the world may be headed for a catastrophe far worse than those in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq. The United States, separately and through the military bloc it controls, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, is accelerating military deployments and provocations throughout Eurasia and the Middle East. Embroiled with fellow NATO members in the largest-scale military offensive of the joint war in Afghanistan launched eight years ago last October and well on the way to both extending and replicating the Afghan aggression in the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula [1], Washington and its allies are also taunting and threatening Russia as well as surrounding Iran with military forces and hardware preparatory to a potential attack on that nation.

The rapid pace of the escalation – almost daily reports of missile shield expansion in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, the Persian Gulf and Turkey; heightened and progressively more bellicose words and actions directed against Iran – is occurring at a breakneck and almost dizzying speed, drawing in larger and larger tracts of Europe and Asia.

On January 12 new U.S. ambassador to Bulgaria James Warlick, speaking “at his first public event in the country,” announced that Washington is entering into negotiations with the Bulgarian government to station interceptor missile facilities, most likely at one of the three new military bases the Pentagon has acquired there in the past four years. “The US military already has bases in Romania and Bulgaria that were created some years ago for delivering troops and cargo to Iraq and Afghanistan….” [2]

“The United States is planning to expand its European missile shield to other parts of Europe” and “will consult closely with Bulgaria and other NATO allies on the specific options to deploy elements of the defense system in those regions,” according to the American envoy. [3]

During the same speech Warlick also “called on Bulgaria to find other alternatives to stop its dependence on Russian gas,” [4] a reference to sabotaging the Russian South Stream project to transport natural gas from the eastern end of the Black Sea to Bulgaria and from there to Austria and Italy.

An analyst at a pro-NATO think tank in Bulgaria said of the proposed missile shield components that “They can be deployed virtually anywhere. Naturally they will need special infrastructure that provides logistical processes, and technically everything should be enforced by NATO standards” . . . .

to read the entire article,go to http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article24815.htm

The Great Bi-Partisan Deception

February 17, 2010

By Shamus Cooke

Some cancer is too aggressive even for chemotherapy. The US political system is infected with such a disease; and we may be witnessing the first death spasms. In a country ravaged by war and economic crisis, with tens of millions of people suffering, politicians are capable of doing absolutely nothing to help ordinary people. The only two “achievements” of the Democrat’s super majority in the Senate — over the course of five months — were an ineffectual stimulus package and a “surge” of troops in Afghanistan.

Now the two party system is reshuffling to pursue a joint mission. Policies that the corporate elite have been planning for decades are in the process of being implemented. The recession is being used as the ultimate excuse to gut Medicare, Social Security, public education and other social services while expanding war, corporate tax breaks and corporate health care.


Typically, the Republicans leave the really dirty work to the Democrats, who enforce pro-corporate policies by exploiting their political capital with labor and community groups — while somehow managing to emerge “the lesser of two evils.” This is why Bill Clinton was left with the task of “reforming” welfare and implementing NAFTA. In regards to “reforming” Social Security, Bush looked into the abyss and got scared; better to let the Democrats play with that fire.

Obama, then, is being left to perform the dirtiest of missions. He refuses to do it alone. This is the motive behind his never-ending plea for “bi-partisan cooperation.” While the Democrats had a super majority in the Senate and huge House majority, Obama never stopped begging the Republicans to join him. And, yes, Obama understands that the Republicans hate him, insult him in public, and are betting high stakes on his failure. Still, he needs them to bear some of the political weight that comes with attacking popular social programs. The Republicans will likely meet Obama in the middle over many of these key issues; they don’t want to miss this historic opportunity to implement ideas they’ve been advancing for years through right-wing think tanks.

Thus, the Democrats worked with the Republicans in the Senate finance committee to create the still-pending corporate health care bill. The upcoming “bi-partisan health care summit” will likely be used to get further Republican support for this giant corporate giveaway. If the bill is then passed, the millions of people forced to buy shoddy health care will have both parties to denounce.

The Democrats also recently worked with the Republicans to create a corporate-oriented jobs bill, which focuses on tax breaks and credits for businesses. This bill — reduced to only 15 billion dollars by the Democrats — cannot guarantee that one new job will be created. Both parties, however, agreed that actually creating jobs should take a back seat to catering to the needs of corporations.

In regard to education, Obama’s plan — disingenuously named Race to the Top — dismantles public education. The essence of this plan was taken from the longtime conservative ideas of replacing public schools with private charter schools and imposing teacher merit pay; both will decimate public education and teachers’ unions, as was done in both New Orleans and Chicago. U.S. News declared that “Republicans and Democrats can Embrace Obama’s Race to the Top for Education” (December 2, 2009). Indeed, Republicans have remained largely quiet about the plan, while secretly taking credit for an idea that goes far to the right of Bush’s No Child Left Behind.

When it comes to Social Security and Medicare, Obama is going forward with his “bi-partisan deficit reduction committee.” And the purpose of this committee? The corporate-friendly Wall Street Journal correctly called it the “Political Cover Commission.”

“A gang of 10 Democrats and eight Republicans would be charged to come up with ways to reduce the deficit. The idea is for everyone to hold hands and agree to raise taxes and cut entitlement spending together [Medicare, Social Security, etc.], so neither party gets the blame.” (January 21, 2010).

In this case, the Wall Street Journal’s motivation for truth telling is to warn Republicans of the political fallout for such a move. The Journal would rather the Democrats take total blame for their corporate motivated policies. And this may be what ends up happening.

The Republicans may end up forcing the Democrats to go it alone in implementing crucial aspects of the above right-wing agenda. One way the Democrats have threatened to go solo is through the process of “budget reconciliation,” which allows them to bypass a Republican filibuster. The Philadelphia Inquirer explains:

“Democrats in the House and Senate can pass health-care reform — and the rest of Obama’s agenda — by insisting on majority rule instead of the 60-vote supermajority that it lost in the Senate with the surprise election of Republican Scott Brown in Massachusetts.” (February 14, 2010).

Such a bold move would be commendable if it were to be used to help average people. Instead, it will be used to shift massive amounts of wealth away from the working class toward corporations. If the Democrats accomplish this sinister feat alone, the Republicans will be seen as the populist party of opposition, while the Democrats will enter political oblivion.

To ensure the Democrat’s fall, a final prop must be removed. Labor unions and community groups must refuse future support to this corporate-owned party. In the meantime, these groups must unite in opposition to the above bi-partisan agenda. A massive education campaign is needed to inform workers about the coming assault on their long-cherished social programs. Social Security, Medicare, and public education, etc., must be saved by ending wars and bank bailouts, and by raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations.

Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org ). He can be reached at shamuscook@yahoo.com

Unbelievable: a congressman with a brain

February 16, 2010

Congressman says US should break Gaza blockade

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip —

The United States should break Israel’s blockade of Gaza and deliver badly needed supplies by sea, a U.S. congressman told Gaza students.

Rep. Brian Baird, a Democrat from Washington state, also urged President Barack Obama’s Mideast envoy to visit the Hamas-ruled territory to get a firsthand look at the destruction caused by Israeli’s military offensive last year.

The Obama administration, like its predecessor, shuns Hamas because the Islamic militant group refuses to recognize Israel or renounce violence.

Israel and Egypt have restricted access to Gaza since Hamas’ victory in parliament elections in 2006 and tightened the blockade after Hamas seized Gaza by force in 2007.

Israel allows humanitarian supplies and food into Gaza, but has kept out cement and other building supplies needed for reconstruction. Israel argues such materials could be diverted by Hamas for military use.

Baird, who has announced his retirement from Congress, told a group of Gaza students Sunday evening that the U.S. should not condone the blockade.

“We ought to bring roll-on, roll-off ships and roll them right to the beach and bring the relief supplies in, in our version of the Berlin airlift,” he said, adding that the supplies could be delivered to U.N. aid agencies.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2011079388_apmlpalestiniansus.html