Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Gaza Fishbowl (like killing fish in a bowl): Bush's Agenda of Destruction

On the third day of Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, Juan Cole, writing in his Informed Comment blog (12.29.08) can’t understand Israel’s “end game here.” He doesn’t see any tactical or strategic value to the terror Israel is unleashing.

by destroying what was left of the Gaza middle class, surely they a throwing people into the arms of Hamas….Of course, there are only 1.5 million Gazans, and they increasingly are being forced to live in Haiti-like conditions, so in the short term the Israelis can do whatever they want to them. But I can't see this ending well for the Israelis in the long term.

Perhaps if U.S. involvement in the current massacre were considered, the answer to Prof Cole’s question would become clearer. In the 33 day 2006 Israeli War on Lebanon, many saw the hand of the U.S. in the planning of the war and its refusal to call for a quick end to the bombardment aimed largely at civilians. Indeed there were credible reports then that the U.S. was pressuring Israel to extend the war to Syria. But such a plan was too crazy and self destructive even for the Israelis.

In the current crisis, the perpetrators seem to have handled the public relations aspect more shrewdly, and U.S. involvement is rarely mentioned. Or perhaps it’s simply a matter of time before it will be generally understood that it’s Elliot Abrams, Bush and Cheney who are driving the current horror.

And once again, since Israeli isn’t benefiting, the question is who is?

Obviously it’s not for oil.

Is it for Empire? Imperialism? The military industrial complex? Crony capitalism? The die hards will say so, but such theories don’t seem to fit the current circumstances.

The Lobby? Well they’re unvarying in their support of whatever Israel does, but it’s not clear that it's to satisfy them that F-16s are bombing children and laying waste to the infrastructure of Gaza such as it was, making it as hard as possible for civil life to continue.

By chance, the last phrase is our best answer.

Making civil life impossible. A history of the last eight years. Has all the devastation been the result of mistakes? miscalculations?

It's been noted that the current offensive will make things even more difficult for the incoming administration. Should we see the ongoing horror as another post election parting gift from the Bush team? First Mumbai, now Gaza. Is there time to squeeze in more state terror before Jan 20, or is the killing and destruction in Gaza going to have to serve us till then?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Pogrom in Gaza: Who is this helping, + Update

One point to make about the current U.S./Israeli pogrom in Gaza is that it’s a parting gift from Elliot Abrams and Bush and Cheney who doubtless gave the green light to the planning of the current massacre on November 5th.

The origins of the current hostilities go back to the Parliamentary election victory of Hamas in January 2006 engineered by the U.S. (with Elliot Abrams in charge) with the cynical understanding that a Hamas victory would allow them to ratchet up the oppression against a “terrorist” government.

It’s probably clear to many that the current aggression is “helping Israel” only if help means to commit some combination of genocide and expulsion first in Gaza and down the road in the West Bank.

The intended effect is not only to make it more and more impossible to live in Gaza and in Palestine but it’s to make it similarly impossible for the incoming Obama administration to walk back down the ladder of the always ratcheted up oppression to the status quo ante, to where there is some sort of modus vivendi between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Who is this helping?

Laura Rozen's website, warandpiece.com noted this article from the Washington Post today.12.28.08

WP: "Israeli Airstrikes on Gaza Strip Imperil Obama's Peace Chances. Likely Escalation Complicates Already-Delicate Diplomacy."
By Michael Abramowitz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 28, 2008; Page A20

"By now Israel should have realized that [this kind of attack] rarely has any decisive effect," said Anthony H. Cordesman, a military analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "At best you get another faltering cease-fire, and then the whole thing begins again. Both sides have been escalating to nowhere." ...

"Now I think what the Obama administration faces is at least two years or more before they can really think of having any serious movement" on the peace process, Cordesman said. "Every time this kind of violence breaks out, it becomes harder to move forward. It just creates more of a climate of hostility and anger."

Friday, December 26, 2008

Sara Roy: Manufacturing Genocide in Gaza + false flags, Afghanistan, more + Rick Warren via Left I on the News

Sara Roy’s important article should not be missed for its clear summary of the humanitarian crisis that U.S/Israeli policy is imposing on a million and a half or more people in Gaza. Here’s the first paragraph.
If Gaza Falls . . .; by Sara Roy

srael's siege of Gaza began on 5 November, the day after an Israeli attack inside the strip, no doubt designed finally to undermine the truce between Israel and Hamas established last June. Although both sides had violated the agreement before, this incursion was on a different scale. Hamas responded by firing rockets into Israel and the violence has not abated since then. Israel's siege has two fundamental goals. One is to ensure that the Palestinians there are seen merely as a humanitarian problem, beggars who have no political identity and therefore can have no political claims. The second is to foist Gaza onto Egypt. That is why the Israelis tolerate the hundreds of tunnels between Gaza and Egypt around which an informal but increasingly regulated commercial sector has begun to form. The overwhelming majority of Gazans are impoverished and officially 49.1 per cent are unemployed. In fact the prospect of steady employment is rapidly disappearing for the majority of the population.

Read more:

Published December 23, 2008 by London Review of Books

As Roy suggests in her first sentence, the mechanism driving the Hamas rocket attacks is clear. To insure that rockets keep coming from Hamas, Israel provokes them by murdering Palestinian activists and civilians. And if one Israeli attack isn’t sufficient, the Israeli attacks just keep coming. When the Hamas rockets finally fall the Israelis have an excuse to close the borders. (I noticed on Link TV that one such rocket displayed by an Israeli official had Hebrew markings.)

Roy’s article also suggests an answer to how the Palestinians obtain at least some of their rockets -- by means of the tunnels to Egypt, the last and unofficial lifeline the Israelis allow and which the Israelis could cut off at any time.

Israel can’t abide Hamas because Hamas has still retained its nationalism, and won’t bow to many of Israel’s demands. That’s why Mahmoud Abbas, president of the PNA, gets an easier ride: because like Arafat before him, he’s a collaborationist. As they did for decades with Arafat, Israel permits or encourages his corruption in return for following their orders.

In a quibble, we could take issue with Roy’s suggestion that Israel’s purpose is to foist Gaza on Egypt. Hardly. Although a Gaza free of Palestinians which they could take over for themselves may be slightly over the horizon, the Israeli leadership requires the continued immiseration of Gaza and the continuation of the rocket attacks for domestic political reasons. While the rockets fall, Palestinian rockets continue to unify and strengthen the Israeli Jewish community behind the dominant and ever increasingly right wing leadership. The rocket attacks push aside domestic demands for reform. All the air is sucked out of any other positive agenda.

If Israel wanted an end to the Hamas rockets, all they’d have to do is suspend their attacks on Palestine. An agreement could be worked out in less than 24 hours. So we have a clear example of manufactured “terrorism.”

The same manufactured terror is largely true with regard to the Bush-Cheney “war on terror” especially in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran. For the most part, all the high profile terror attacks starting from the Clinton years, and the fall of the Soviet Union when such attacks had to be manufactured as a substitute to sustain Cold War ideology and U.S. military and intelligence budgets, were the product of Western and Israeli intelligence services. The terror events of 9/11 sit at the pinnacle of such false flag attacks.

The point is there’s no threat to Israel or to the West outside of those they create in order to sustain their military pathology.

One thing that will change with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian crisis when Obama takes over is that Elliot Abrams, the most vicious of the vicious will no longer be in charge of U.S. Middle East policy. But the pressures on Obama will be intense not to take steps to relieve the current genocidal level of starvation and immiseration in Gaza. Any attempt at amelioration by an Obama administration will likely be attacked by the usual Lobby suspects, doubtless with Dershowitz in the lead as giving in to Hamas terror.

Thinking of the Rick Warren debacle (see just below for blogger Left I’s economical screed on the subject), with about 25 days left before inauguration, is it too early to conclude that Obama is constitutionally unable to show any moral courage or leadership? But to realize how scary it’s going to be after Jan 20 all you have to do is say one word: Afghanistan. Everybody knows: current Obama plans for Afghanistan = a failed Obama presidency.

Afghanistan is going to be a failure in part because Obama and his team don’t want to know and are shielding themselves from the knowledge that the U.S. is funding the Taliban to kill NATO soldiers, civilians, Indian engineers, road-builders, schoolteachers, schoolgirls and more through the Pakistani ISI. It’s one of those anomalies that we know and simultaneously don’t know. For example, in a November 25, 2008 interview for NPR's popular Fresh Air program, Terry Gross asked Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid point blank: Isn’t the U.S. funding the Pakistani ISI? It was interesting to hear Rashid try to squirm out of that one.

It can’t be squirmed out of. The U.S. controls not only the major operations of the ISI like the funding and the care and upkeep of the Taliban, and chooses ISI leaders, and directs much of Pakistani policy, but the U.S. also undoubtedly controls also their false flag operations like the Mumbai terror attacks (see Michel Chossudovsky, "India's 9/11. Who was Behind the Mumbai Attacks? Washington is Fostering Political Divisions between India and Pakistan" 2008-11-29, http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=11217 )

We know and we don’t want to know. And as we have learned over the decades this is just as true of the Left, as it is the Right.

Why should we expect any better from Obama?

PS. In a bibliographical note, the phrase “Manufactured Terrorism” is the title of a breakthrough article by Gerard Holmgren explaining what really happened on 9/11/01. (See “Manufactured Terrorism – The Truth About Sept 11," (2004, revised 2006).

Holmgren’s title apparently echoes Noam Chomsky’s and Edward Herman’s important Manufactured Consent (1988).



Blogger Left I on the News on the Rick Warren affair wrote:

12.17 08

Will Rick Warren wake up the liberals?

With every appointment of a war-loving Hillary Clinton/Robert Gates/James Jones or a nuclear power-loving Steven Chu or a Monsanto-loving Tom Vilsack and on and on, liberals keep telling themselves that it's ok, it's just that old "Team of Rivals" thing, and that Barack Obama the supposed antiwar liberal is really the one calling the shots and the others will just be implementing his vision.

And what will they say to the announcement that anti-abortion homophobe Rick Warren will be delivering the invocation at Obama's inauguration? True, it is just "symbolism." One large symbolic slap in the face of every supporter of women's rights and LGBT rights who supported Obama in this election.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Bush, a shoe (or two) in? Al-Zaidi beaten and tortured?

Dec 16, 2008
Urgent, just reported: Al-Zaidi in U.S. run Camp Cropper prison

Iraqi TV al-Sharqiya just reported on the news that AL-Zaidi is transferred to Camp Cropper prison [the Airport prison, managed by the American forces].

The TV Channel announced that Al-Zaidi is in a difficult condition, with broken ribs and signs of tortures on his thighs. Also he cannot move his right arm.

Here's Democracy Now's report. According to them Al Zaidi is under Iraqi control, not the USG.
Shoe-Throwing Iraqi Journalist Remains Imprisoned
The International Federation of Journalists has called on the Iraqi government to release the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at President Bush at a news conference on Sunday. Muntadar al-Zaidi has been held without charge for over twenty-four hours and has been reportedly beaten in jail. His brother said al-Zaidi has suffered a broken hand, broken ribs and internal bleeding, as well as an eye injury. Earlier today, al-Zaidi was handed over to the Iraqi military command in Baghdad. Al-Zaidi has become a folk hero in many parts of the Arab world. Demonstrations have been held across the region calling for his release. In Iraq, thousands of protesters rallied in Baghdad and Najaf.

Some of us have noticed that even opponents of the Bush administration have deplored Al Zaidi's actions as inappropriate. Is it because they don't want to believe in the exceptional criminality of Cheney and Bush and Rumsfeld and John Yu? One thing we felt about Al Zaidi is that he understood that Bush's intention was and remains to destroy his country and many other countries, and his own country. That's the kind of man he is.


I don't watch much mainstream TV, and even less with the sound on. However, from the little that I noticed on CNN, I didn't detect much outrage from the right. I suspect that such a moderate response from those quarters is not typical.

After the incident and before I learned of the physical punishment Muntadhar Al Zaidi is undergoing, I wondered what it would be like if it were possible to ask President Bush some of the following questions. In such a world, where such questions were possible, Al Zaidi might not have had to lose his shoes, or have his arms broken.

Question: Did you have any contact or discussion with the Iraqi authorities as to the punishment to be meted out to journalist Muntadhar Al Zaidii who threw his two shoes at you?
Would such a discussion be appropriate on your part?

This question reminds us of the execution of Saddam Hussein.
Question: President Bush: Did you and/or the Vice President's office order the timing of the execution of Saddam Hussein?
Do you regret the timing of the execution before a full history of the crimes of Saddam Hussein could be brought to light?
One final question, Mr. President.
Go right ahead.
Do you believe that those heads of state responsible for crimes greater, much greater, than Saddam Hussein's should be tried and appropriately punished?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

NYT: Situation in Somalia Seems About to Get Worse

December 7, 2008, By JEFFREY GETTLEMAN

Ronald Bleier writes:

You won't have to read too deeply between the lines to see Cheney's hand in the current and future chaos that is the fate of the suffering 9 million people of Somalia. Here's a quote which bespeaks the success of the Cheney agenda:

“Somalia has now reached a very dangerous phase,” [Rasid Ali, a Somalia analyst the International Crisis Group] said. “The whole region is in for more chaos, I’m afraid.”

When the Islamists ruled Somalia for about 6 months in 2006 there was relative peace.

But today’s Islamists are a harder, more brutal group than the ones who were ousted by an Ethiopian invasion, backed by the United States, in late 2006. The old guard included many moderates, but those who tried to work with the transitional government mostly failed, leaving them weak and marginalized, and removing a mitigating influence on the die-hard insurgents.

Gettleman emphasizes that the current situation is the responsibility of the U.S.

A collapse of the government and the human disaster that would almost surely follow would be strike three for American efforts in Somalia.... In 2005 and 2006, the C.I.A. paid some of Somalia’s most reviled warlords to fight the Islamists. That backfired. In the winter of 2006, the United States took a third approach, encouraging Ethiopia to invade and backing them with American airstrikes and intelligence. “The Bush administration made a major miscalculation,” said Dan Connell, who teaches African politics at Simmons College in Boston.

Yes, miscalculation is the word that is allowed. As the article details, the current situation is leading to rise of the most vicious and fundamentalist forces in the country. Earlier in the article Gettlemen mentions a 13 year girl who was stoned to death by these characters. Does the rise of such ruthless fundamentalism remind us of Afghanistan? Where else? The US in the last 8 years? Is it miscalculation or calculation?


Read more: NYT, December 7, 2008

Situation in Somalia Seems About to Get Worse



Saturday, December 06, 2008

Is the US Behind the Somali Pirates?

Is the U.S. behind the Somali pirates?

Dr Kadem al Mussawi from Lebanon suggested a “conspiracy theory” on Lebanon TV, broadcast on the Mosaic News of the Middle East program on Link TV 12.3.08 regarding possible US and NATO support of the Somali pirates.

Dr Mussawi noted that the U.S. has a large naval presence in the area and gave the example that the Cole was harbored in the Yemeni port of Aden when it was bombed in 2000. He wondered why the strong U.S. naval forces in the area haven't been able to control the Somali pirates. He argued that the US, acting perhaps in concert with NATO and other forces could stop the piracy if they wanted to.

Dr Mussawi pointed out that the Somali pirate activity was completely halted by the Islamic Courts government that was in power for several months in 2006 before they were overthrown by the U.S. acting in concert with Ethiopia.

Dr Mussawi gave several high profile examples of recent piracy including a Ukrainian ship carrying arms, a Saudi Ship carrying oil and an Iranian ship carrying wheat and wondered whether there could be a political element involved. Dr Mussawi wondered if the U.S. was implementing a siege of selected countries by means of recruiting the Somali pirates.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Naomi Klein on Bush's Bailout Criminality

Naomi Klein comes closest to anyone I've so far seen in pointing to the criminal nature of the Paulsen, Bush-Cheney handling of the economic collapse. Writing for The Nation, she calls it borderline criminal. See http://www.thenation.com/doc/20081201/klein "In Praise of a Rocky Transition."

One question for discussion: Is there anything in the details of Bush administration economic crisis management thus far that's inconsistent with their determination to bring the economy to its knees?

The only thing puzzling about what they are doing is their motivation: Why would they want to destroy the US economy and the international economy?

Perhaps a similar question will provide the context or even answer the first question:
Is there any policy they have undertaken in the last eight years that's inconsistent with the intention to cause as much pain, havoc, suffering and tragedy as they have thus far been able to manage?
The environment?
Encircling Russia with NATO? (A big thanks here to the Clinton people as well.)

Sticking just to the economy: What are the implications of their evident intentions for the next two months?

How will the markets react in the next 60 days to their refusal to do anything positive and to their wasting -- how much is it now? -- $4 trillion?! What is the economy going to look like on January 20, 2009?

(It's even too painful to wonder to what extent the political, military, economic situation will continue to deteriorate in many more countries, with perhaps the greatest amount of suffering from their ongoing attacks in the Middle East and South Asia.)


For Alternet's/Amy Goodman's version of the Naomi Klein/Democracy Now interview in connection with her Nation article, see:

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Velvet Revolution: Ohio 2004 Stolen at 11:13 p.m.; More on Connell's deposition, Why Karl Rove pulled the plug and allowed an Obama victory

This eye-opening post from the Velvet Revolution (VR) came via Professor Mark Crispin Miller's indispensable mailing list. Along with information on the Connell deposition, we get some detail regarding the Ohio 2004 election. It is claimed that the official numbers from Ohio were sent to a computer in Tennessee where they were changed to ensure a Bush victory. We can gather that changes were made by a similar procedure to come up with the very unlikely national count of 3 million more votes for Bush over Kerry. From Miller's book, Loser Take All, we learn that since Bush got fewer rural votes in 2004 than he did in 2000, the exit polls had to be changed in order to reflect the official count giving Bush much higher percentages in urban areas. And if you believe that....

Pretty much lost amid the celebration of Obama's victory, are some troubling anomalies from Nov 4th in any number of states which seem likely to keep the Democrats from winning 60 Senate seats and to rob them of at least several House seats. It appears that Democratic Senate and House seats are in danger of falling to election fraud in Alaska, Minnesota and Georgia. Moreover analysts are puzzled as to some of the numbers: it's not clear why we are seeing the same number of voters nationally as in 2004 (about 122 million); and similar numbers in 2008 as in 2004 in some states like Ohio when we would have expected much higher figures this year. For more details see Mark Crispin Miller's blog: http://markcrispinmiller.com/


How Ohio 2000 was changed
From Harriett Crosby: [from Velvet Revolution (VR)

Dear friends,

It's a new day in America, a new era of hope. Obama's election has already transformed the energy of this place. His well organized, disciplined campaign has transcended partisan divides as the transition team searches for excellent people regardless of party.
It is a breath of fresh air.
Friends have asked if I think the Michael Connell deposition on Monday deterred Rove from trying to hack another election. My answer: It was clearly Obama who won--his winning personality, his family, his clarity, his honest campaign. Nonetheless, I do believe that our work to bring Connell into the light of legal scrutiny the day before the election was critical to protect the integrity of this election at a time of consequence for the nation.
We at Velvet Revolution VR were running defense for democracy, tackling those who
were coming at Obama from the shadowy sidelines: people, like Connell, who were using secret computer IT networks to manipulate the vote count at the tabulation level. It was important to expose the invisible and illegal ways of taking advantage of every weak point in the electoral system by designing computer programs to manipulate elections without leaving a trace.

Bobby Kennedy and Greg Palast were publicizing voter disenfranchisement, intimidation, caging, purging voter registration lists and all the visible ways of suppressing the Democratic vote. It was very important this came out in Rolling Stone before the election, so that many people were paying attention. Velvet Revolution was going after
the invisible corruption--the election tabulation fraud--and so it was much more difficult to get this published in the mainstream media. In spite of hiring Fenton Communications to get out the election fraud story (they put out some good press releases), the media never picked it up.

Make no mistake, there is alarming evidence that Bush stayed in the White House for a second term by stealing the 2004 election. After four years of researching this, listening to whistleblowers and putting the invisible jig-saw puzzle together, we know WHO did it: Karl Rove, his computer IT operative, Mike Connell, Jack Abramoff, Susan Ralston and Ken Blackwell. We know HOW they did it: using computer networks like SMARTech.com, GovTechSolutions.com, gwb43.com, New Media Communications and GOP.com. We know WHEN: in the late hours of election night in 2004--at 11:13 p.m.,
to be precise--when Blackwell shunted the vote tally from Ohio to GOP servers in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where they were changed just enough to give the election to Bush. We have evidence, from the Ohio Secretary of State's Office, of the election architecture that shows exactly when the vote tally was sent to SMARTech at GOP headquarters in Tennessee, and when it came back. This is how Bush got a second term--and Karl Rove was behind it. Rove will be the next (after Connell) to be subpoenaed in our Ohio lawsuit.

It has been frustrating for me to know all this and not be able to get the media to cover the story as it unfolded. I had been counting on the media and court of public opinion to expose this massive fraud and corruption of our election process. But I was wrong to wait for the media to do the story. They never did. It was a violation of the law and belonged in court.

VR found lawyers in Ohio who reviewed the evidence of these shenanigans, and went to federal court in July, 2008 to expose it. The Judge decided to lift the stay on an existing lawsuit, and then all of this information was put before him. We had the quiet support of the Ohio Secretary of State and Attorney General. To get that support, we had to provide loads of evidence. Details of the lawsuit and hearing are spelled out in many articles on http://www.rovecybergate.com. But the long and short of it is that the judge ruled in our
favor four times: lifting the stay on the prior lawsuit; subpoenaing Connell; compelling
Connell's appearance in court on Friday, Oct. 3; and then ordering him to submit to a
deposition on Monday, Nov. 3--the day before Election Day.

Connell's attorneys did everything possible to keep him from testifying. But since he was compelled to appear, he did show up on Friday with three high-powered lawyers from the Bush/Cheney '04 team--and they were ready to fight. It was a contentious three-hour hearing, in which he said he was too busy for a deposition until after the election. The lawyer said this was like the bank robber saying, sorry, he couldn't show up in court because he was too busy making plans to rob the next bank. Attorney Cliff Arnebeck accused Connell in open court of rigging elections for Karl Rove. Connell turned "beet red" when the judge ruled that he would have to come back at noon on Monday to submit to a sworn deposition, exactly 18 hours before the polls were to open.

But Connell was as cool as a cucumber when he showed up in court Monday, Nov. 3 with his lawyers. He was placed under oath and grilled about election fraud, "man in the middle" computer manipulation of the vote count, Trojan horse remote control of the tabulation process, and threats from Rove if he didn't take the heat for all such crimes.
He did his best to stonewall, but did indicate that, to his knowledge, there would be no tabulation manipulation of Tuesday's election.

So what happened over the weekend after being under the eye of an attentive Federal Judge? Two weeks ago, Rove was confidently saying that McCain could win ten battleground states to become President. McCain was confidently telling everyone that he would win with a surge in the wee hours of election night (when the numbers could be manipulated). On Thursday, Oct. 30, Rove had an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, telling voters to ignore the polls, and that McCain could win. But something changed over the weekend. By Monday after the deposition, Rove wrote on his blog that Obama would win by "a electoral landslide," even in those states he had previously predicted McCain would win. http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2008/11/04/rove-predicts-obama-landslide/

As Mark Crispin Miller said: "And there was Karl Rove's abrupt decision not to try to rig the outcome, a reversal he signaled Monday evening when he suddenly foretold an electoral landslide for Obama, just hours after Mike Connell, his longtime IT fixer, had been forced to answer questions, under oath, in an Ohio courtroom."
Personally, I believe that a miracle happened. I had given up hope of anything coming of this lawsuit before the election because I was told that newspapers don't do stories until after a judge rules on a case and that these things take forever. But my colleagues at VR persevered, intent on helping to save this election. I was totally surprised last week (just a week ago) to learn that the Judge had ruled against Connell attempt to quash the subpoena and compelled him to show up in court Friday, Oct.31, just days before the election. And then he ordered Connell to come back on Monday to testify under oath, giving him all weekend to ponder his situation. Connell certainly discussed this with
his lawyers, and probably with Rove and others. Rove knew he was the next to be subpoenaed by this Judge. They knew that we were onto them, and had evidence of what had happened. They may have decided it just wasn't worth the risk to manipulate another election. So I think the lawsuit and deposition on Monday may have deterred them in a small way from attempting to impede Obama's victory.

The history of America's stolen 2004 election is coming to light, as it must. "The arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice!" Winning big with a transformational leader like Obama means we can go on the offense in addressing the great issues of our time from global warming to election reform. Guided by our values of open, honest government, we can begin the work of reforming America's flawed election system. There is much to be done to protect the voting rights of every citizen and to ensure that all the votes are fairly counted. Our work is not over.

Love, Harriett

McClatchy News story http://www.ledger-enquirer.com/254/story/497984.html#recent_comm

Here's a picture of Karl Rove with his assistant, Susan Ralston who previously worked for Jack Abramoff, on election eve of 2004, in the White House dining room, around the time when the Ohio results were being sent to GOP headquarters in Chattanooga, Tennessee to be reprocessed by SMARTech.com servers, one of Connell's companies, before being returned to Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, giving Bush his second term.

"We're going to do well in this campaign, my friend.
We're going to win it, and it's going to be tight,
and we're going to be up late," McCain said.

Stephen Zunes: Rahm Emanuel: Single Loyalty? --To Israel

The choice of Rahm Emanuel as Obama’s chief of staff is scary, Emanuel is hardly a voice for change. It’s hard to distinguish many of his policies from Bush’s.

I’ve been trying to discern a silver lining. Could it be that, like Lincoln, Obama is cleverly including opposition to change within his administration. Also by choosing Emanuel, Obama might be trying to soften blows he might otherwise receive from AIPAC and the Israeli lobby in case he hints at a more just U.S. Mideast policy.

Yes, we can hope, but it’s hard now to imagine Obama moving away from the right on crucial issues. Didn’t I already read in the New York Times a reaffirmation of Obama’s promise to add to the devastatingly bloated “Defense” budget?

The Zunes article is so good it’s hard to excerpt. I’ve also added a couple of paragraphs from Alex Cockburn’s very good article on the same subject.


Is Obama Screwing His Base with Rahm Emanuel Selection?
By Stephen Zunes, AlterNet
November 7, 2008,

Stephen Zunes writes:

I had really wanted to celebrate Barack Obama's remarkable victory for a day or so before becoming cynical again. I really did.

And yet, less than 24 hours after the first polls closed, the president-elect chose as his chief of staff -- perhaps the most powerful single position in any administration -- Rahm Emanuel, one of the most conservative Democratic members of Congress.

The chief of staff essentially acts as the president's gatekeeper, determining with whom he has access for advice and analysis. Obama is known as a good listener who has been open to hearing from and considering the perspectives of those on the Left as well as those with a more centrist to conservative perspective. How much access he will actually have as president to more progressive voices, however, is now seriously in question.

Illinois Congressman Rahm Emanuel is a member of the so-called New Democrat Coalition (NDC), of group of center-right pro-business Congressional Democrats affiliated with the Democratic Leadership Conference, which is dedicated to moving the Democratic Party away from its more liberal and progressive base. Numbering only 58 members out of 236 Democrats in the current House of Representatives, the NDC has worked closely with its Republican colleagues in pushing through and passing such legislation as those providing President Bush with "fast-track" trade authority in order to bypass efforts by labor, environmentalists and other public interest groups to promote fairer trade policy.

Emanuel began his political career as a senior adviser and chief fundraiser for the successful 1989 Chicago mayoral campaign of Richard M. Daley to seize back City Hall from reformists who had challenged the corrupt political machine of this father, Richard J. Daley. Emanuel later became a senior adviser to Bill Clinton at the White House from 1993 to 1998, serving as Assistant to the President for Political Affairs and then Senior Advisor to the President for Policy and Strategy, and was credited with playing a major role in shifting the Clinton administration's foreign and domestic policy agenda to the right. Emanuel was the single most important official involved in pushing through the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the bill ending Aid for Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), and Clinton's draconian crime bill, among other legislation.

Leaving the administration in 1998, Emanuel worked as an investment banker in Chicago, where he amassed an $18 million fortune in less than three years prior to being elected to Congress.

As head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee since 2004, Emanuel has promoted pro-war and pro-business center-right candidates against anti-war and pro-labor candidates in the primaries, pouring millions of dollars of donations from Democrats across the country into the campaigns of his favored conservative minions to defeat more progressive challengers.

Emanuel was a major supporter of the Iraq War resolution that authorized the invasion of Iraq. Indeed, he was the only one of nine Democratic members of Congress from Illinois who backed granting Bush this unprecedented authority to invade a country on the far side of the world that was no threat to the United States at the time. Even more disturbingly, when asked by Tim Russert on "Meet the Press" whether he would have voted to authorize the invasion "knowing that there are no weapons of mass destruction," Emanuel answered that he indeed would have done so, effectively acknowledging that his support for the war was not about national security, but about oil and empire. Not surprisingly, he has also voted with the Republicans in support of unconditional funding to continue the Iraq War and has consistently opposed efforts by other Democrats to set a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. occupation forces from that country and related Congressional efforts to end the war.

At a time of record budget deficits, Emanuel has been a passionate supporter of increased spending for the Pentagon and has resisted efforts by fellow Democrats to trim excesses in the Bush administration's bloated military budget. For example, he has repeatedly voted against amendments to cut funding for Bush's dangerously destabilizing missile defense and even voted against an amendment to identify unnecessary Pentagon spending by examining the need, relevance and cost of Cold War weapons systems designed to fight the former Soviet Union.

A major hawk regarding Iran, Emanuel has also voted against Democratic efforts to prevent the Bush administration from launching military action against that country and has joined the administration in exaggerated claims about Iran's alleged nuclear threat. He is not opposed to nuclear proliferation if it involves U.S. allies, however. Emanuel has consistently voted against a series of Democratic amendments that would have strengthened safeguards in the Bush administration's nuclear cooperation agreement with India to prevent U.S. assistance from supporting India's nuclear weapons program.

Emanuel is also a prominent hawk regarding Israel, attacking the Bush administration from the right for criticizing Israel's assassination policies and other human rights abuses. He was also a prominent supporter of Israel's 2006 attacks on Lebanon, even challenging the credibility of Amnesty International and other human rights groups that reported Israeli violations of international humanitarian law. Emanuel's father had emigrated from Israel in the 1950s, where he had been a member of the terrorist group Irgun, which had been responsible for a series of terrorist attacks against Palestinian and British civilians in mandatory Palestine during the 1940s. Emanuel himself served in a civilian capacity as a volunteer for the Israeli army in the early 1990s.

It is unclear how serious of a blow Obama's selection of Emanuel is to those who hoped that Obama might actually steer the country in a more progressive direction. It's easy to see it as nothing less than a slap in the face of the progressive anti-war elements of the party to whom Obama owes his election, particularly following his selection of Sen. Joe Biden as vice president. (See my articles "Biden's Foreign Policy 'Experience'" and "Biden, Iraq, and Obama's Betrayal.")

However, this does not necessarily mean that Obama as president will pursue nothing better than a Clintonesque center-right agenda. Someone with Obama's intelligence, knowledge and leadership qualities need not be unduly restricted by the influence of his chief of staff as less able presidents have. At the same time, this shocking appointment of Emanuel is illustrative of the need for the progressive base that brought him to power to not celebrate too long and to refocus our energies into pushing hard to ensure that the change Obama promised is something we really can believe in.

Stephen Zunes is a professor of politics and chair of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of San Francisco and serves as a senior policy analyst for Foreign Policy in Focus.
© 2008 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/106189/

November 7 / 9, 2008
CounterPunch Diary
Hail to the Chief of Staff


Working in the Clinton White House, Emanuel helped push through NAFTA, the crime bill, the balanced budget and welfare reform. He favored the war in Iraq, and when he was chairing the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2006 he made great efforts to knock out antiwar Democratic candidates. On this site in October and November, 2006, John Walsh documented both the efforts and Emanuel’s role in losing the Democrats seats they would otherwise have won.

In 2006 Emanuel had just published a book with Bruce Reed called The Plan: Big Ideas for America, with one section focused on “the war on terror”. Emanuel and Reed wrote, “We need to fortify the military's ‘thin green line ‘around the world by adding to the U.S. Special Forces and the Marines, and by expanding the U.S. army by 100,000 more troops. …Finally we must protect our homeland and civil liberties by creating a new domestic counterterrorism force like Britain's MI5.” Recall that Obama has been calling throughout his recent campaign for an addition of 92,000 to the US Army and US Marine Corps.

Emanuel and Reed had fond words for the mad-dog Peter Beinart, neocon warrior theoretician for the Democrats, roosting Marty Peretz's The New Republic, and author of The Good Fight where Beinart explained why a tough new national security policy is as essential to the future of progressive politics as a united front against totalitarianism and communism was to the New Deal and the Great Society. Emanuel and Reed also commended Anne-Marie Slaughter's proposal for "a new division of labor in which the United Nations takes on economic and social assistance and an expanded NATO takes over the burden of collective security." In other words, let NATO shoot the natives and the UN clean the floors.

Read more: www.counterpunch.org

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Mark Crispin Miller: Why Karl Rove Pulled the Plug (and allowed Obama to win)

Here's Professor Mark Crispin Miller's theory as to why this election too wasn't stolen, and why Karl Rove, in the space of two weeks, changed his prediction from a McCain to an Obama victory. -- RB

Mark Crispin Miller wrote:
Why Karl Rove Pulled the Plug;
Finally, An Elected President

Barack Obama was overwhelmingly elected by citizens in all regions of the country. Unlike the past two elections where the results were contested in two states run by partisans who rigged the results, this election was won hands down by the person who ran the best campaign. This is not to say that there were not massive problems with voting systems in many states. But this election did not come down to one state or county controlled by corrupt officials.

Four years ago, Velvet Revolution [VR] was formed out of the chaos of the 2004 election. Since then, we and all of you have fought a long battle to ensure that our elections are fair, honest and transparent. We demanded accurate voting machines and paper ballots. In this election, both Florida and Ohio, now with paper ballots, went Blue and there is no one questioning that result.

Over the past several months, we have raised the specter of a Man in the Middle computer attack on the vote tabulators controlled by partisan evangelicals. We identified Michael Connell as the key GOP IT expert who created these nefarious networks. We took legal action against Connell in the form of a federal deposition. Karl Rove responded by threatening Connell to either take the fall or keep his mouth shut. Connell's Bush/Cheney attorneys did everything possible to keep Connell from testifying.

Two weeks ago, Rove was confidently saying that John McCain could win ten battleground states to become President. McCain was confidently telling everyone that he would win with a surge in the wee hours of election night.

Well, last Friday, something important happened: Michael Connell was forced to appear before Solomon Oliver, a Clinton appointed Afro-American federal Judge in Cleveland. After Attorney Cliff Arnebeck accused Connell in open court of rigging elections for Karl Rove, the judge ordered Connell to submit to a sworn deposition 18 hours before the polls were to open. On Monday at noon, Connell was placed under oath and grilled about election fraud, Man in the Middle attacks, Trojan horse manipulations and threats from Rove.

And guess what happened? Connell didn't know a thing! He had no knowledge of any secret steps
to change the vote-counts, in any past elections--or in the election to come. He stonewalled like a champion, denying everything.

It was a remarkable performance; but what was even more remarkable was the abrupt reversal, just hours later, by Karl Rove. Rove wrote on his blog late Monday that Obama would win by a landslide--even in those states he had previously predicted McCain would win.

In other words, Rove pulled the plug, because he felt the heat, and knew that using Connell to rig
this election too would be too risky.

In short, at VR, with all the help from you, our affiliates, our supporters and others, we played a role in helping to make this presidential election more fair than the past two. Our education campaign, our paper ballot campaign, our whistleblower campaign and our legal strategies worked. That's what democracy is all about.

Thank all of you for your confidence in our work, your dedication and your kind and generous support. We hope to continue to do our small part to make our government more accountable to everyone.

Subscribe to Mark Crispin Miller's "News From Underground" newsgroup. Visit http://markcrispinmiller.com

Laura Rozen wonders why the New York Times still employs William Kristol

Laura Rozen (warandpiece.com, Nov 5, 2008) let it al hang out regarding New York Times conservative (?!) columnist William Kristol. She cited his s alleged role as a player, disseminating damaging information about the McCain campaign in his column.

And in all honesty, it's clear Kristol has long been more than a mouthpiece but an active player for one faction of the apparently bitterly internally divided McCain campaign. What business does the Times have to publish an active campaign player like that? Seriously? It's not that he's not allowed to have an opinion and have an ideology and a conservative ideology and even a controversial ideology, but the role he played was clearly far more directly connected to a specific internal campaign than any other columnist at a major place that I can think of. He's a campaign activist, a campaign internal player from that perch, as has been obvious for months, whoever is paying the bills. Times looks totally foolish for publishing someone who so lacked any degree of independence from what he was reporting and commenting on, whose conflicts of interest were so overwhelming.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Obama's Election Too big to steal? + Addendum

There's complacency and there's worry.I go back and forth. Sometimes it seems obvious enough that Obama's lead is too big to steal for which there is plenty of evidence. Real Clear Politics (an invaluable website, it has everything including latest polls, national and state maps and much more http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/maps/obama_vs_mccain/ )
gives Obama 259 solid electoral votes + 52 leading, vs., 127 solid +30 leaning for McCain with 70 toss up.

I just spoke to a Democratic operative who's pretty good at predictions who feels sure it'll be a landslide, and I also noticed a NYTimes article chortling about the broadcast media having trouble infusing suspense or even interest in their election coverage because there's no doubt in their minds that Obama will win.

And then there's election fraud. I get unremitting email from Mark Crispin Miller's (MCM) invaluable list like the one from which I've excerpted below.

Here Professor Miller is forwarding material from Election Justice News.
( Did they really say MILLIONS of (mostly Democratic) voters have been removed from the polls?)

Researchers have found that in 2004, 9 million mostly Democratic voters were removed from the lists in 13 states which was part of the reason that Bush officially "won" by 3 million votes.

We also learned from MCM's book, Loser Take All that in 2004 Bush got fewer votes from rural areas than he did in 2000 --which stands to reason. (It's interesting also to learn that the evangelical vote both in 2000 and 2004 played much less of a role than it is generally credited with.) So how did Bush win? According to the exit polls which were forced to fudge their numbers to get into line with later official statistics, Bush improbably IMPROVED his numbers in heavily populated urban areas. Such was the transparency of the fraud and the unaccountability of the official numbers.
(Reminds me, if you have 4 or 6 hours to donate on Nov 4, to help with exit polling (most usefully in a toss up or leaning state), feel free to follow up and I can dig out an email calling for volunteers.)

Addendum: So many of us have been racking our brain about COG, Cheney and Bush's plans to stay in office beyond January 20, 2009. And if an attack on Iran is off the table -- not that it's !00% off and won't be until and unless they give up power --then how could they change the political atmosphere sufficiently to pull it off?
All of a sudden it hit me: They steal enough of the election to throw it to the courts, and at a certain moment they say, enough of this nonsense, we'll stay in office. Just like that.
Let's hope this is just another nightmare from the Bush years -- characterized by an attack, a largely successful attack on civil life.

“The use of recriminating about the past is to enforce effective action at the present.”
--Winston Churchill, 1936.
Election Justice News
October 28, 2008 http://solarbus.org/nletters/ejn-080916.html

Election Complaints Are Pouring In

With somber concern for our democracy and our country, I send out this edition of Election Justice News. Early voting is well underway in many states, and reports are literally pouring in that portray an organized effort by the GOP to steal yet another election. Taken one at a time, they are easy to discount as mistakes, but the pattern is overwhelming. We're seeing many reports of touchscreen voting machines flipping from Obama to McCain in several states, on different types and brands of voting machines. Millions of eligible voters have been purged from the voter rolls in the last few weeks.
The reports are coming in so fast I can't keep up with it all. Every time I think I have this newsletter ready to go out, another report of vote flipping or voter suppression starts to break. It's enough to really get you down. Compared to 2004, it's a little different because more people are aware of the problems, and a few more reporters are willing to talk about it. But the big news agencies are still busy creating a controversy about ACORN that doesn't exist.
The question now that people are starting to ask is, what are we going to do on November 5th, if it looks like the election was stolen? I still have hope, that the sheer numbers will make it difficult if not impossible to overtake, even with the extensive fraudulent efforts we're seeing. But the reality is, yes it could happen again. The answer to the question of what we do next, is not for me to answer at this time, but it is something that every one of us should start thinking about. There are still some things we can do to try to prevent it from happening. It begins with vigilance, which means that as depressing as it can be, we must pay attention and spread the word, so that people know what's going on. From there we can all take specific steps to try to safeguard our votes.
The influx of reports and proximity to the election are causing us to completely revamp the Election Justice Center website. We are moving everything prior to October into the archives, focusing on this election, and grouping reports by category. Please check the website often for daily updates.
You will find this newsletter to be a bit overwhelming. My advice is to read all the headlines to get a feel for what is happening, and then pick a handful of articles you wish to read in more detail. We must stay informed and we must be vigilant. Read on...
--Gary Beckwith, Editor
Help get the word out - forward this newsletter!
1. Growing Reports of Vote Flipping
We all know those touchscreen voting machines are bad news. Once you cast your vote, it disappears forever into computer "La La Land" where Diebold and ES&S decide what to do with it. You want a recount, or audit? Fuggetaboutit... Well what do you do when you actually see your vote being flipped, right before your eyes on the machine? You'd think that the programmers would at least try to cover up what they're doing and flip the vote after you walk away, but evidently they're not that smart, at least some of the time. The reports are now trickling in of many people clicking on the vote for Obama and seeing it register as a vote for McCain. Not surprisingly, we're still waiting for the first real report of the reverse. If the past is any indication, there won't be many - in 2004 there were thousands of vote flipping incidents reported, and nearly every single one was a person trying to vote for Kerry but seeing their vote flipped to Bush.

Table of Contents
1. Growing Reports of Vote Flipping
2. More Problems with E-Voting Systems
3. Massive Voter Purging and Suppression
5. Polls Show McCain "Win" Would Point To Fraud
6. Diebold Whistleblowers tell how previous elections were stolen
7. The Red Herring Attacks on ACORN
8. Multimedia: Videos and Movies Cover Election Fraud
9. All books and films on election issues marked down!
10. More Ways To Stay Informed


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Karl Rove, RFK Jr. Mark Crispin Miller: This Election Can Still Be Stolen -- or, Is in Process of Being Stolen

Karl Rove didn’t exactly say that the election can be or will be stolen from Obama on Nov 4, but, in the light of his track record, his remarks in an October 16, 2008 op ed for the Wall Street Journal: “Obama Hasn’t Closed the Sale,” could be read as a coded message that plans to steal the vote in the key states are well in hand. In his op ed he cites the key states that are necessary if McCain is going to win.

Karl Rove writes that

McCain is...narrowing his travels almost exclusively to Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, Missouri, Colorado and Nevada. If he carries those states, while losing only Iowa and New Mexico from the GOP's 2004 total, Mr. McCain will carry 274 Electoral College votes and the White House. It's threading the needle, but it's come to that.

Besides the well known techniques of stealing and changing votes by means of hacking/controlling electronic voting machines, there is the less well reported (or non reported in most mainstream media) technique of caging, or purging, arbitrarily removing likely Democratic voters from the rolls by Republican operatives. Some estimates of purged likely Democratic voters in the November 4, election as high as 3 million nationwide.

In the PBS TV program, “Washington Week in Review” for October 17, 2008, the relevant discussion focused on the non issue of ACORN voter fraud while the panelists said nothing about the widespread election fraud by means of widespread caging, electronic vote manipulation and other means.

Nor are states and localities which don’t use electronic voting machines immune from voter fraud by operatives in key positions. For example, in an extraordinary article, ten days after the February 5, 2008 Democratic presidential primary election in New York State, the New York Times revealed that in about 80 of the city’s 6,000+ election districts, Senator Obama didn’t receive even one vote, not even in heavily black districts in Manhattan’s Harlem or Brooklyn’s Bed Sty; districts controlled by Congresspeople supporting Hillary Clinton (see NYT, “Unofficial Tallies in City Understated Obama Vote,” by Sam Roberts, 2.16.08
http://www.nyTImes.com/2008/02/16/nyregion/16vote.html?_r=1&scp=13&sq=sam+roberts&st=nyt&oref=slogin )

The Times never saw fit to follow up on this remarkable story, but the article indirectly pointed to the means by which election results are changed. Well placed political operatives apparently control the central tabulators, and can thus change the tallies to their liking.

Since there is no nationwide system of regulated independent oversight and control over the central tabulators – which was apparently the mechanism behind Bush officially winning the popular vote in 2004 and the electoral vote in several states -- U.S. election results are as unreliable as far as reflecting the people’s preferences as in any Banana Republic. We can blame John Kerry for much of our current helplessness when it comes to election fraud due to his acceptance without investigation of the official results of the vote in Ohio. Had he contested the official results, his struggle would undoubtedly have brought to light some of the abuses that are prevalent today; abuses which could rob Obama of the presidency as it did Kerry and Gore before him.

Years later, in a private conversation with Mark Crispin Miller, John Kerry admitted that he knew that the election was stolen. When Professor Miller, an author, and an activist on election fraud, went public with this conversation, Kerry’s spokesperson denied it.

With regard to voter purging, “caging,” removing Democratic voters from the voter rolls, see

ROLLING STONE: IT'S ALREADY STOLEN, an Investigation by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Greg Palast

- Republican Secretaries of State of swing-state Colorado have quietly purged one in six names from their voter rolls.
Over several months, the GOP politicos in Colorado stonewalled every attempt by Rolling Stone to get an answer to the massive purge - ten times the average state's rate of removal.
- While Obama dreams of riding to the White House on a wave of new voters, more then 2.7 million have had their registrations REJECTED under new procedures signed into law by George Bush.

For those interested in more information about the current state of election fraud, a great deal of timely information can be found at Mark Crispin Miller’s blog/listserve at http://www.markcrispinmiller.blogspot.com/

See also his book on election fraud in the George W. Bush era: Loser Take All: Election Fraud and the Subversion of Democracy 2000-2008.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

E.L. Doctorow: Two mayoral terms are enough for Michael Bloomberg

I had forgotten what a pleasure it was to read such clear and pointed prose from a master writer. Also I have to compliment the NY Daily News for including some leftist views. I guess they realize it's also good business.
Here's a line from Doctorow's op ed that caught my eye:

[McCain], in his cynical choice of a running mate displayed a contempt for the citizenry that verges on nihilism...

Yes, we've seen plenty of nihilism over the last 8 years. Readers will be familiar with the argument in this space that it's been all nihilism all the time, with the 9/11 terror attacks as exhibit #1.
And on the same theme:
Is it fair to place a municipal matter in a national setting? I think it is. The imperial arrogance of the White House - its secrecy, its mendacity, its subversion of the Constitution - has created a culture of faux democracy.

Just two points that Doctorow leaves out, the first not mentioned anywhere I've seen so far: Bloomberg's distaste, shall we say, for public education. The biggest disaster of a third term will be the consolidation of his public school depradations. He and Chancellor Joel Klein have done everything they could under the circumstances to undermine public education, with their brutal testing and grading programs, their arbitrary decisions, their constant reorgainizations. As part of their attack, they have shut out input from parents, and have it would seem deliberately thrown millions and tens of millions (and more?) down the toilet in no bid contracts to outside consultants. Who knows how many more crimes would be revealed by those who have been their victims?
The other obvious point which Doctorow didn't have time to mention is the natural corruption that seeps in willy nilly to virtually all regimes that go on at length.


NY Daily News
Why two terms is enough for Mayor Mike Bloomberg


Sunday, October 12th 2008, 4:00 AM

Mayor Bloomberg wants another term. He's been a good mayor and perhaps we should give it to him. Not that he's asking us: We've been snookered - we who have in two mass participatory plebiscites expressed our wishes for a two-term limit. He's done an end-around to the City Council.

It's hard to believe Council members would vote against a measure that would allow them to extend their own terms of office. All they have to do is raise their hands when the appropriate bill is introduced and, presto, from 26 to 50 "ayes" will have superseded the emphatic votes of a city's population.

Of course there will be a campaign and presumably the voters will then decide if Bloomberg should be elected for a third term. On the other hand, no one who runs against him will have $80 million of discretionary income to run with. So that's a problem.

The mayor has intended to have another four years in office for some time. His rationale now is the economic crisis that has cut like a scythe across the land and, incidentally, frightened many influential people in this city into backing his move. They will say, correctly, that he is possessed of a superb business mind, that he understands the complexities of city government, and that if anyone can see the city through this economic crisis, he can. They will also say that he has been a good and fair mayor, and that he has run the city wisely and well. I am happy to agree. He has made one or two mistakes - his Police Department's arrest of some 1,800 protesters, and of people just standing around, during the Republican convention of 2004, seemed a graceless effort to quash peaceable dissent. And then there was the proposed football stadium in Manhattan. Over all, though, he has done well, and with a calm and friendly personal style that is a marked improvement over the dispiriting authoritarian tendencies of his predecessor.

But after eight years of a national administration's monumental indifference to the rule of law, this is not the time to chip away another chunk of the tablets of our democracy. Is it fair to place a municipal matter in a national setting? I think it is. The imperial arrogance of the White House - its secrecy, its mendacity, its subversion of the Constitution - has created a culture of faux democracy.

Surely no honest public figure who loves this country would want to further that culture. However reasonable and practical it would seem to give Bloomberg his wish for another term, in the context of a national election, in which the Republican candidate has, in his cynical choice of a running mate displayed a contempt for the citizenry that verges on nihilism, the mayor of our greatest city has the opportunity to proclaim his belief in the primacy of the electorate by accepting the will of the people and stepping down.

When politicians leave office, they set about writing their memoirs. If the mayor opted for this I would be happy to recommend a top editor to see him through the process. But that would not offer him the opportunity as a private citizen to put to use his considerable knowledge of the workings of our city.

So here is my suggestion: By virtue of his successful tenure, and of the good will and the respect he has earned, he has the power to convene the great sources of private wealth in this city, along with its enormous intellectual resources, to create a synergetic social organization designed to solve problems and fund the solutions on the model of President Bill Clinton's Global Initiative - a Bloomberg Municipal Initiative, combining ideas and investment to lift the boroughs' struggling populations, and to do for the city's social services, its educational needs, and its infrastructure, what the city may, for a while, be unable to do for itself.

If the mayor has in mind a future in politics, nothing is more likely to give him a national platform. And there will always be time to write his memoirs.

Doctorow is the author of "Ragtime," "Billy Bathgate" and "The March," among other novels. He lives in Manhattan.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

$700 Billion Debacle: It's Obama, Dummy!

Once again it appears that in a matter of days Treasury Secretary Paulson will have the effectively unfettered authority to dole out billions to those who shouldn’t get it while doing little or nothing to aid the current credit crunch.

Journalist Chris Floyd puts the Democrats’ position succinctly:

Nothing -- absolutely nothing -- could be politically safer than opposing George W. Bush. And yet the entire Democratic leadership, Barack Obama included, lined up to support a cockamamie plan proposed by this scorned and shriveled figure, a plan that was transparently nothing more than an audacious raid on the Treasury by Big Money hoods and yet another authoritarian power grab by a gang of murderous, torturing, warmongering toadies. This was the plan and these were the people that the Democrats decided to fight for.
(Thanks to Xymphora for the pointer.)

Once again, the question: why is this happening? Why are the Democrats voting for Bush/Cheney/Paulson’s plan which will have the effect of further destabilizing the national and international economy when all their constituents (200-1, I've heard) are telling them not to bail out Wall Street?

Thanks to Dennis Kucinich on Democracy Now (9/29) we have the answer: It’s Obama. It almost makes you wish Hillary won. We would have expected it from her. The only question is whether FISA was a bigger betrayal. On the bright side we’re learning something. We’re learning the depths to which Obama will go to please and reassure his corporate sponsors.

Here’s the relevant exchange on Democracy Now:

AMY GOODMAN: Congressman Kucinich, can you explain how it is that the Democrats are in charge, yet the Democrats back down on their demand to give bankruptcy judges authority to alter the terms of mortgages for homeowners facing foreclosure, that Democrats also failed in their attempt to steer a portion of any government profits from the package to affordable housing programs?

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: Well, I mean, those are two of the most glaring deficiencies in this bill. And I would maintain there was never any intention to—you know, well, many members of Congress had the intention of helping people who were in foreclosure. You know, this—Wall Street doesn’t want to do that. Wall Street wants to grab whatever change they can and equity that’s left in these properties. So—

AMY GOODMAN: Right, but the Democrats are in charge of this.

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: Right. You know, I’ll tell you something that we were told in our caucus. We were told that our presidential candidate, when the negotiations started at the White House, said that he didn’t want this in this bill. Now, that’s what we were told.

AMY GOODMAN: You were told that Barack Obama did not want this in the bill?

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: That he didn’t want the bankruptcy provisions in the bill. Now, you know, that’s what we were told. And I don’t understand why he would say that, if he did say that. And I think that there is a—the fact that we didn’t put bankruptcy provisions in, that actually we removed any hope for judges to do any loan modifications or any forbearance. There’s no moratorium on mortgage foreclosures in here. So, who’s getting—who’s really getting helped by this bill? This is a bailout, pure and simple, of Wall Street interests who have been involved in speculation.

And I don’t, for the life of me, understand why this is going to do anything to address the underlying problems in the economy, which actually had to do with the recklessness. This is what the president of the Federal Reserve Bank in Dallas said, that—and, you know, I might have the actual quote here. Listen to this quote: he said, “The seizures and convulsions we’ve experienced in the debt and equity markets have been the consequences of a sustained orgy of excess and reckless behavior, not a too tight monetary policy.” This is the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank president, Richard Fisher.

So, you know, we’re getting stampeded here to vote for something that doesn’t help homeowners, that doesn’t do anything about foreclosures, that doesn’t help those people who have been in bankruptcy and are looking for a way out. As a matter of fact, it made sure they can’t get out. So, who’s this for? It’s for speculators. It’s to play a game that provides some temporary help in the market, and, you know, you might see an uptick today if this passes the House. On the other hand, if it doesn’t, we need to be ready to find a way for Wall Street to address its problems without having to tap the increasingly diminishing resources of the federal taxpayers.

Read the entire Kucinich interview at:


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

(Temporary?) No to the bailout robbery: Zingales, Hartmann, Michael Moore

Thank goodness for elections?! According to Democracy Now, it seems that virtually all the Republican votes and some(?) of the Democrat votes against the bailout monstrosity were in closely contested districts. (Isn’t it a shame that all the NYC contingent felt sufficiently secure to support Bush (with the notable exception of Congressman Serrano) because they are all in safe districts?

Another disillusionment is the erstwhile NYT columnist and economics professor, Paul Krugman, to whom we have turned for a semblance of sanity in these years of horror (but not on “free trade”).

Yet, on this most vital issue, he puts on the hat of a Democratic Party functionary – as if he were gunning for a top position in an Obama administration. In recent columns he writes that this bill is ok and that doing nothing is not an option: meaning we must follow the Pelosi-Reid line of getting behind the Cheney-Bush policy of bum rushing us and confusing us into further sinking the economy.

So why did Pelosi and Reid decide to support Bush in the face of the overwhelming opposition of the voters? One can see that they’re not leaders, they’re timid and ineffectual. They’re afraid of the press just as much as they are of Cheney and Bush. (Or are the two the same?)

Second, we can guess that they were assured by the likes of Robert Rubin that there are plenty of large donors to the Democratic party who would also be feeding from the same trough – never mind the consequences. Else, why would they vote against the clear wishes, not to mention the needs, of the vast majority of their constituents?

I offer a few paragraphs from some of the leading voices of sanity, including two who show that if the purpose was really to help the economy, there are sane, wise and practical ways to do it.


Luigi Zingales, NY Sun 9.29.08
Debating Paulson's Bailout: It's a Big Price

If banks and financial institutions find it difficult to recapitalize, it is because investors are uncertain about the value of the assets in their portfolios and do not want to overpay. Will government do better at valuing those assets? In a negotiation between government officials and a banker with a bonus at risk, who will have more clout in determining the price? Mr. Paulson's plan would create a charitable institution that provides welfare to the rich — at taxpayers' expense.

If the government subsidy is large enough, it will succeed in stopping the crisis. But, again, at what price? Aside from costing billions of taxpayer dollars, Mr. Paulson's plan violates the fundamental capitalist principle that whoever reaps the gains also bears the losses. Remember that in America's Savings and Loan crisis of the late 1980s, the government had to bail out those institutions, because their deposits were federally insured. But in this case, the government does not have to bail out the debt-holders of Bear Sterns, AIG, or any of the other financial institutions that will benefit from Mr. Paulson's plan.

Since we do not have time for Chapter 11 proceedings and we do not want to bail out all the creditors, the lesser evil is to do what judges do in contentious and overextended bankruptcy processes: impose a restructuring plan on creditors, with part of the debt forgiven in exchange for equity or warrants.

[Zingales spends several paragraphs explaining his solution: forcing debt forgiveness, which he writes was done successfully during FDR’s term; which allowed and stock and bond prices to soar after the Supreme Court upheld the decision. –-This shows that there are rational solutions out there if the evil doers would allow them.]

Forcing a debt-for-equity swap or debt forgiveness would be no greater a violation of private property rights than a massive bailout. But, for the major players in the financial sector, it is much more appealing to be bailed out by the taxpayers.

Indeed, for the financial industry, the appeal of Mr. Paulson's proposal is precisely that it taxes the many and benefits the few. Since the many — taxpayers — are dispersed, we cannot put up a good fight in Congress, whereas the financial industry is well represented politically. For six of the last 13 years, the Treasury Secretary was a Goldman Sachs alumnus.

The decisions that Congress must make now will affect not only the American economy's short-term prospects, but will shape the type of capitalism that we will have for the next 50 years. Do we want to live in a system where profits are private, but losses are socialized, where taxpayer money is used to prop up failed firms? Or do we want to live in a system where people are held accountable for their decisions, where imprudent behavior is penalized and prudent behavior rewarded?

For anyone who believes in free markets, the most serious risk of the current situation is that the interest of a few financiers will undermine the capitalist system's fundamental workings. The time has come to save capitalism from the capitalists.

Thom Hartmann
How Wall Street Can Bail Itself Out Without Destroying The Dollar

September 26, 2008 by CommonDreams.org

For Grover "Drown Government In The Bathtub" Norquist, this bailout deal will work out very well. At a proposed cost of $4,780 per taxpayer, it'll further the David Stockman strategy of so indebting us that the next president won't have the luxury of even thinking of new social spending (expanding health care, social security, education, infrastructure, etc.); taxes will even have to be raised just to pay for the bailout. It'll debase our currency, driving up commodity prices and interest rates, which will benefit the Investor Class while further impoverishing the pesky Middle Class, rendering them less prone to protest (because they're so busy working trying to pay off their debt). It'll create stagflation for at least the next half decade, which can be blamed on Democrats who currently control Congress and, should Obama be elected, be blamed on him.

But there's another way: Create an agency to fund the bailout, loan that agency the money from the treasury, and then have that agency tax Wall Street to pay us (the treasury) back.

It's been done before, and has several benefits.

In the United Kingdom, for example, whenever you buy or sell a share of stock (or a credit swap or a derivative, or any other activity of that sort) you pay a small tax on the transaction. We did the same thing here in the US from 1914 to 1966 (and, before that, we did it to finance the Spanish American War and the Civil War).

For us, this Securities Turnover Excise Tax (STET) was a revenue source. For example, if we were to instate a .25 percent STET (tax) on every stock, swap, derivitive, or other trade today, it would produce - in its first year - around $150 billion in revenue. Wall Street would be generating the money to fund its own bailout. (For comparison, as best I can determine, the UK's STET is .25 percent, and Taiwan just dropped theirs from .60 to .30 percent.)

But there are other benefits.

As John Maynard Keynes pointed out in his seminal economics tome, The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money in 1936, such a securities transaction tax would have the effect of "mitigating the predominance of speculation over enterprise."

In other words, it would tamp down toxic speculation, while encouraging healthy investment


Michael Moore’s
The Rich Are Staging a Coup This Morning

September 29, 2008

No matter what they say, no matter how many scare words they use, they are up to their old tricks of creating fear and confusion in order to make and keep themselves and the upper one percent filthy rich. Just read the first four paragraphs of the lead story in last Monday's New York Times and you can see what the real deal is:

"Even as policy makers worked on details of a $700 billion bailout of the financial industry, Wall Street began looking for ways to profit from it.

"Financial firms were lobbying to have all manner of troubled investments covered, not just those related to mortgages.

"At the same time, investment firms were jockeying to oversee all the assets that Treasury plans to take off the books of financial institutions, a role that could earn them hundreds of millions of dollars a year in fees.

"Nobody wants to be left out of Treasury's proposal to buy up bad assets of financial institutions."

Unbelievable. Wall Street and its backers created this mess and now they are going to clean up like bandits. Even Rudy Giuliani is lobbying for his firm to be hired (and paid) to "consult" in the bailout.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Republican's (temporarily) to the rescue + Moshe Adler on toxic $700 B pill

Counterpunch continues to publish some of the best analysis I've seen:
Here's Moshe Adler on why Bush $700 B bailout is, surprise, surprise, exactly the wrong medicine.

And the claim that the credit system is clogged is not true because there is no object that can be removed in order to clear it. What is true is that the securities that Wall Street invented are toxic. But this is precisely why they should remain where they belong, in the vaults of those who created and pushed them. Otherwise they will poison the rest of us, the poorest among us the most.

There is no doubt that economic uncertainty leads to low investments and low borrowing. There is also no doubt that mortgage-based-securities are partially responsible for this uncertainty, although the rising price of oil plays an important role as well. But, as Keynes pointed out during the Great Depression, nobody knows how to restore lenders and investors? confidence once it has been lost. And, in all likelihood, passing the mortgage backed security to the government will decrease, not increase, this confidence.

Thank goodness there's been at least a delay. The worst part is that the Democrats were all too ready to sign on the dotted line no matter how malevolent the pill; and it's the Republicans who stopped it. Does this mean I need to vote Republican? After all we vote our pocketbooks, and they, temporarily at least, saved my pocketbook!!?? What is going on??

The great fear of course is that Bush and Cheney will do what's necessary to get the rebels back on board and the monster will go forward this weekend.

Adler continues with what will happen when the toxic baby is born

If the government acquires these securities, it will be left to a government employee (or, more likely, to a private contractor) to decide when ?the price is right? to sell them. But the volume of these securities is fantastically large, and nobody knows how to price them anyway. The effect on financial markets will be colossal. Business schools will start teaching new courses devoted to predicting the behavior of this bureaucrat. New financial instruments will be invented to take advantage of this new "expertise." The government employee herself will either succumb, or be accused of succumbing, to an overwhelming temptation to sell the old-new securities for prices that will benefit those closest to her. The calls to regulate the new-new securities and to monitor the government employee in charge of selling the old-new securities will be deafening. The level of economic uncertainty will increase many times over, and unemployment will increase along with it.

Read more:

September 26, 2008
Return to Trickle Down
Bailing Out Wall Street Won't Save Main Street


PS: Here’s Bush on the economy [if he doesn’t get his $700 B added to the national debt].
“This sucker’s going down.”
Isn’t it clear that that’s exactly what he wants?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Michael Hudson: $700 Billion (with a B) Giveaway Insanity + Update + Michael Collins

Here's Michael Hudson's analysis. Quoting the Financial Times, he writes:

“The simplest way to recapitalize institutions,” He concludes, is “by forcing them to raise equity and halt dividends. If that did not work, there could be forced conversions of debt into equity. The attraction of debt-equity swaps is that they would create losses for creditors, which are essential for the long-run health of any financial system.” This is the key: if debts cannot be paid, then creditors must take losses.

That's the point, to recapitalize institutions, so that they can resume lubricating the economy with their loans. The Bush plan, the only one on the table, is not meant to do this, and if any recapitalization happens, it's marginal and by the way. The main point is to throw money down the toilet bowl, as they did/are doing in Iraq, and if some of it goes into the pockets of their cronies, their base, that's well and good. But their main objective is to destroy, and once again, they've cleverly forced Congress and Obama (advised by Robert Rubin) to go along with it.
(Latest sound bite: Schumer wants it done today.)

The Big Bank Job
The Insanity of the $700 Billion Giveaway
September 25, 2008


As Financial Times columnist Martin Wolf noted on Wednesday, Sept. 24, the problem is that the face value of mortgage loans and a raft of other bad loans far exceeds current market prices or prices that are likely to be realized this year, next year or the year after that. They are packaged into what the financial press rightly calls “toxic.” The bailout is not efficient, he writes, “because it can only deal with insolvency by buying bad assets at far above their true value, thereby guaranteeing big losses for taxpayers and providing an open-ended bail-out to the most irresponsible investors.” “The simplest way to recapitalize institutions,” He concludes, is “by forcing them to raise equity and halt dividends. If that did not work, there could be forced conversions of debt into equity. The attraction of debt-equity swaps is that they would create losses for creditors, which are essential for the long-run health of any financial system.” This is the key: if debts cannot be paid, then creditors must take losses.

These bad loans are toxic because they can only be sold at a loss – if at all, because foreign investors no longer trust the U.S. investment bankers or money managers to be honest. That is the problem that Congress is not willing to come out and face. Many of these loans are outright fraudulent. And they are being sold by crooks. Crooks who work for banks. Crooks who use accounting fraud – such as the fraud that led to the firing of Maurice Greenberg at A.I.G. and his counterparts at Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and other companies engaging in Enron-type accounting.

Read more:


We’re done for. They’re determined to get it done this week or weekend, It’s going to be $700 billion. Will it include immunity? Any Congressional oversight will be meaningless – Bush would veto anything useful. It’s clearly going to do long term harm which is the point. Cheney and Bush are already chortling over another trillion added to the national debt. ( At the G8 Climate Summit in Japan in July, Bush joked to fellow leaders: “Goodbye from the world's biggest polluter.”)

One question is whether the bailout of the criminals will do any short term good.

The only possible silver lining is that McCain’s attempt at a bum rush into passing this thing may backlash.

But we’ve got to concede that they have handled this public relations job with malevolent brilliance. McCain’s numbers had been tanking -–who knows if this will stop the slide temporarily or not. But their main objective, to destroy the economy, to force Congress into doing the worst possible thing, barring some miracle, will have been accomplished. And this despite the whole country’s desperate anger over such a giveaway to the villains. Even worse, the Democrats and Obama are going to be seen as enablers at the very least.


Here's Michael Collins
Stunning ripoff isn't it. They threaten us with deprivation, then demand $700 billion. Who do they think they're kidding.
Peace, Michael Collins
The Money Party (7):

Bailout Blackmail - Just Say No!
By Michael Collins
Thursday, 25 September 2008,Wash. DC

We're being blackmailed into accepting the responsibility and debt for the worst managed financial institutions in the history of this country. The starting price, our debt, is $700 billion dollars.
What's really about to happen is that the failed financial institutions will be rewarded for their bad behavior. As a result, they and others will be encouraged to do it again. It's just a matter of time.
Link @ "Scoop": http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0809/S00311.htm
This article may be copied in whole or part with attribution of authorship, a link to this article, and acknowledgment for any images used.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Democrats Supporting $700 Billion Bailout + Update

I write this as I'm watching the Senate hearings on Federal Intervention in Financial Markets: the 700 Billion bailout -- mostly with the sound off, noting from time to time the captions…I also watched much of the coverage of the issue including interviews with Republican Senator Kyle and Democrat Chris Dodd on the PBS news hour yesterday.

It doesn’t seem that hard to read between the lines. Pelosi and Dodd are supporting the President. Reid seems to be wavering about whether or not to put up a fight. My guess is that Bush has the votes to push it through both Houses immediately --this week -- despite the country’s outrage. They understand, like Lady Macbeth, that if it is to be done, it must be done quickly.

Watching Paulson fumfer (what’s a good English equivalent?) meaninglessly as he pretends to answer questions, dancing around the outrageous proposal, revealing that he’s aware that there will be no accountability is truly sickening.

What the Democrats will do if this goes through is, to coin a phrase, put lipstick on a pig, in the same fashion as they pretended to dress up their compliance with the FISA telecom unaccountability bill. Since Bush'll veto anything meaningful, they’ll claim that they have added accountability to the grand theft of an incredible $700 billion, which will be passed to the usual suspects, and do little or nothing to regain some of the balance that the economy requires.

The market understands this and that’s why it fell so hard yesterday. Nothing stabilizing is being offered. That’s why the dollar fell and oil spiked. Paulson and Bush and Cheney don’t want to do anything that will help and are opportunistically using the situation to make it as bad as they can.

The key could be Schumer, Hillary and Obama. If they don’t come out strongly against such a bill, we’re toast.

Too lazy to call Congress I managed to find an online petition to sign.

No to the bailout:


Here's another one:

Email your Senators and Representative and spread the word:

Update on 700B giveaway

Watching a little of the latest Barney Frank interview on Charlie Rose, it seems clear that he’s playing ball with Bush. Why would he do that? My guess is that just like so many of them, he’s in Wall Street’s pocket -- ready and willing to throw billions at the criminals with no thought to the economy.

Sadly it’s looking like lipstick on a pig as previously predicted. They’ll dress it up a little bit, some meaningless oversight here, some irrelevant amendment about CEO salaries there and pass it this week or this weekend. That’s the clue: any quick bill will be Bush’s bill and it’ll be the disaster everyone can now see. One ominous soundbite I heard was that the White House was willing to negotiate.

If the leadership were going to resist they would offer a more moderate bill (say $150 B) targeted not at Wall Street and their foreign counterparts, but at homeowners/ foreclosures.

Although Dodd, Hillary, Obama (and Schumer?) may not be on board, if Pelosi and Reid give it the nod, they'll go forward quickly. And the guess now is that with most of the Republicans and enough Democrats, they’ll have the votes.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Mark Crispin Miller (emptywheel) NO! to bailout + urls + Alex Cockburn etc

How many people think that Cheney and Bush are distressed by the devolution of our financial system and are seriously trying to make it right? They are just as distressed by the thousands of dead young people who have already come home in bodybags -- perhaps the smallest symbol of the ongoing horror.
OK, I see you're all with me on this one.
Fewer I suspect agree with me that the reason that they are chortling while we piss our pants is because they actively want to destroy the possibility of civil life everywhere, in order to exercise their power of destruction. What's the use of having nuclear weapons unless you're going to use them? Their agenda of permanent war is the vehicle for their goals.
Let's examine one piece of evidence. A couple of months before Eliot Spitzer's career blew up in scandal, he testified before Congress regarding his initiative and that of one or two other governors to rein in some of the burgeoning abuses of the home mortgage system in their states. Spitzer testified that the Cheney-Bush administration used their power to stop him and the others from putting an end to some of the abuses. .
Now why would Bush and Cheney do that?

Here's a brief piece circulated by Mark Crispin's Miller and see his links below to more strong pieces.


By: emptywheel
September 20, 2008


CR has posted the "bailout plan," as it currently stands.
Glenn Greenwald has an important response, as does gjohnsit over at DKos.

But here's all you need to know. Hank Paulson is asking for $700,000,000,000. That's $2,333 from every man, woman, and child in the United States.
In exchange for that money, Paulson is unwilling to accept any demands to make markets more transparent, limit executive compensation, or assist homeowners fighting foreclosure. The sole purpose of that $700,000,000,000 is to bail out Wall Street and only Wall Street, but not to fix it, or our larger economy.
He is asking to be absolutely unbound by any law when he spends that money.
Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.
The only "string" attached is a semi-annual Congressional report--one in which they would have zero leverage to influence his choices.
Within three months of the first exercise of the authority granted in section 2(a), and semiannually thereafter, the Secretary shall report to the Committees on the Budget, Financial Services, and Ways and Means of the House of Representatives and the Committees on the Budget, Finance, and Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs of the Senate with respect to the authorities exercised under this Act and the considerations required by section 3.
Paulson didn't even have the class to call this a "review"--which underscores the degree to which he wants to be unbound by any and all review, legal, congressional, or anything else.
Hank Paulson--one of the CEOs who got us into this mess--is asking each and every American to give him $2,333 to do with as he sees fit, with absolutely no strings attached.
For more News From Underground, visit http://markcrispinmiller.com

Glenn Greenwald at Salon:

James Moore at HuffPost:

gjohnsit at DailyKos:

William Greider in The Nation:

Here's Alex Cockburn's take, in less than a sentence, on what they're doing to us:
"... a bailout program designed to bail out the thieves running our financial system, and stick middle America with the pricetag – heftier than you can imagine"

And Cockburn's recommendations for further reading.
For the practicalities and implications of the thievery on Wall Street I highly recommend the pieces on our site this weekend by Michael Hudson, Pam Martens and our other writers

See also Democracy Now last week for the segment with Michael Hudson who explained very clearly that indeed we're bailing out the thieves as well as carrying the economic destruction forward. --RB

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

New York Review of Books: Indiana's Supreme Court Photo ID law argument ringered?

Andrew Hacker in the New York Review of Books, points to a difficult to understand factoid regarding the recent crucial Supreme Court decision upholding Indiana’s law requiring a government document with a photograph in order to vote. It turns out that the lawyer arguing the plaintiff’s case against the Indiana law was effectively playing for the opposite team. When s/he was pressed by the judges for the number of people who would be affected by the law, s/he understated it by more than 10 times!! 43,000 instead of 673,926.
Hacker's article is certainly worth reading though depressing, as it looks clearly at the racial aspects of the campaign which now seems as if it will spell doom for our last hope for some change. --RB

New York Review of Books · September 25, 2008
From: Obama: The Price of Being Black
By Andrew Hacker


In a 6–3 decision in April written by John Paul Stevens, Crawford v. Marion County Election Board , the Supreme Court upheld a 2005 Indiana law requiring voters in that state to produce a government document with a photograph at the polls. In practical terms, this meant a passport or a driver's license. Since less than a third of adults have a passport, the Indiana case focused largely on how many adults lack a license to drive. During oral arguments, several justices pressed the plaintiff's lawyer for an answer. For reasons I cannot fathom, he kept using the number 43,000, for a state whose voting-age population is 4.6 million. In fact, the Federal Highway Administration, in an easily obtained report, says that 673,926 adult residents of Indiana have no license, which works out to a not trivial 14.7 percent of the state's potential electorate. Had that percentage been stressed, we can conjecture that Justices Stevens and Anthony Kennedy might have shifted their position.