Saturday, August 30, 2008

How the Republicans Win.

The traitorous dirty tricks laid out below aren't even the half of it.

Nevertheless Robert Parry recounts enough in his article so that Democrats, and anyone else hoping to change the direction of the nation by voting for Obama, to give us all pause and warn us sufficiently.

We can expect some of the same old tricks (the last I saw, those tricks are still working, so why change them?) and, we would add that we can expect some of the nastiest electioneering to date, if not a national catastrophe of some kind.

There is much more for the GOP to lose this time. These guys have tried to "shoot the moon," so to speak.

These people, BushCo, have committed some horrific crimes, in the name of a huge power grab, a rigid, flawed ideology and other less than noble motivations and agendas, carefully hidden from the masses for as long as possible. If they kept every shredder in Washington running 24/7 between now and January 2009 they could not cover up all the evidence of illegal activities in this administration nor could they cover for their allies, in Congress and elsewhere

There is plenty of information about and evidence of the crimes and criminals out there. I would be willing to bet that there are career government people who have been carefully hording information from the moment they first realized that something was terribly wrong

November 4 might not be the end of an amazing campaign with a clear winner, but rather the beginning of the great American meltdown. This isn't 2000. It isn't even 2004. Those election years are history now. "Tis a history with which more and more of us are growing quite familiar.

If I were a gambling person, which I'm not, I would bet that a large section of the American public has had about all they are going to take. There are strong force-winds and undercurrents, some identifiable and some still invisible to the news media and a majority of Americans, all coming together in the perfect storm; not just a political storm, but economic and moral, as well.

Yes, that's what I said, "MORAL!"

As we have all seen, religiosity and morality seldom go hand in hand.

What I am saying is that this country is facing a moral calamity and that calamity is not because Steve and Brian want the same civil rights and recognition for their commitment to each other as Dave and Heather have, nor is it that Sylvia and her husband decided on a late term abortion when they learned that the fetus, once born, would only live for a few minutes, if that, and that taking the baby to term would put the the mother's life at risk.

We, Americans, and our nation face the worst moral collapse in our short history. Those who claim to be the epitome of morality apparently do not believe that deception and the stirring of fear in the human heart are "sins." The Christan Bible names 7 deadly or cardinal "sins." Other traditions actually list 9.

Guess which "sins" are not listed in the Western religions as biggies:
Deception and Fear.

"How can fear be a "sin," you might well ask. First, let us examine the word, sin. In the Greek, from which it is translated, the word means "missing the mark," as one might do in archery or as an actor might do on stage. I don't use these analogies to minimize "sin." Just ask the real archer if it is trivial to him that he missed his mark. Ask the actor who just screwed up the entire scene, by missing her mark on the stage, and on opening night.

When any of us allows fear to win out over faith, we have, indeed, missed the mark. What kind of faith am I talking about? I'm talking about faith in one's own mind. I'm talking about the virtue of genuinely thinking for one's self; a process of gathering information from a number of reliable sources, as well as differing viewpoints on a certain issue, have enough courage to allow new information to inform old patterns of thought or belief, in spite of the fear that any smidgen of information that does not support your theory of the world, or the one you bought from another mere mortal and adopted, completely, as your own, will surely cause instant insanity or possession of your mind, if not that of you entire family, by some demon or the other.

Besides, fear almost always leads to fear-mongering. No one wants to be scared witless all by themselves.

I doubt I have to explain how deception is a "sin." Interesting, how it was not included in the "seven deadlies." Perhaps, it was left out because even people of biblical times were such great liars and the practice was so wide-spread, the moral authorities of the day saw the hopelessness of making "deception" a deadly sin. Still, there are teachings about deception in just about every scared scripture I can remember reading.

Thou shalt not bear false witness against your neighbor. That's one of The Big Ten, brought to us by Moses.

In some christian traditions, Satan is called the "great deceiver." I don't think it gets much worse than Satan, right?

Americans, in particular, are so accustomed to being lied to by advertisers, text books, politicians, government officials, news media, the punditry and the like, that being deceived has become a way of life for us. We expect it.

The old joke goes something like this: We know that if a politician's mouth is moving, he/she is lying. The only thing we have to do is figure out what the lie is and if we care enough about the issue about which we are being lied to, to raise a ruckus.

Apparently, we don't care about very much, because the lies we have been told lately and the consequences of those lies are undeniable and getting more severe by the day.

Those folks, who consider themselves the epitome of moral clarity, actually expect a military campaign, launched on the back of lies, half-truths, fear-mongering and vengeance-seeking to be a success? Do they not understand that success does not come from deception? It may seem to, for awhile, but it always blows up in our faces, sooner or later.

So, what are we to do when we have missed the mark. We are told to "repent," coming from the Greek, metanoia, meaning "change your mind, think differently."

Perhaps it is time for us, Americans, to change our minds and think differently about deception, especially official lying. Our nation would best be served by a zero tolerance policy on the part of the people toward their elected officials caught in lies.

The Goopers of today will actually use the military for campaign purposes.

God knows, we have seen abuse of power before, but nothing like we've seen from this administration. Is there any doubt that there is nothing they would not do to hang onto power, especially now that they have accrued so much power in the executive?

Of more importance, are we willing to demand truth, insist on transparency and lower the public boom on the lying liars and their enablers in the ACNM.

Barack Obama made it across the tightrope of the Democratic National Convention, gaining solid endorsements from Bill and Hillary Clinton and giving a rousing speech before some 80,000 supporters at Invesco Field in Denver. But now comes the time when the Republicans win elections.

Over the past four decades, Republicans have dominated the outcomes of presidential races by mixing negative campaigning in public with illicit dirty tricks behind the scenes, as I've recounted in my last two books, Secrecy & Privilege and Neck Deep.

As a party, the Republicans have not only refined the art of the political smear – with such memorable moments as the Willie Horton ads in 1988 and the “swift-boating” of John Kerry in 2004 – but they also have defined the concept of the October Surprise, manipulating late-breaking events to drive the electorate toward their candidate.

Much of this Republican behavior traces back to their perceived victimization at the hands of John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson in the razor-thin 1960 race. Though many historians dispute the significance of alleged voter fraud in that election, the notion that Richard Nixon was robbed became an article of faith inside the GOP.

In 1968, Nixon and his operatives were determined that they wouldn’t get outmaneuvered again. As the race entered its final weeks, their great fear was that President Johnson would negotiate a settlement to the Vietnam War and thus push Vice President Hubert Humphrey over the top to victory.

So, although a half million American soldiers were in the battle zone and the war was tearing the United States apart, Nixon’s campaign made secret contacts with South Vietnamese leaders, allegedly offering the assurance that if they refused to cooperate with the Paris peace talks, they could expect a better deal from Nixon.

The evidence is now clear that the Nixon campaign dispatched Anna Chennault, a fiercely anti-communist Chinese-American, to carry that message to South Vietnamese president Nguyen van Thieu.

Journalist Seymour Hersh first described the initiative in his 1983 biography of Henry Kissinger, The Price of Power. Hersh reported that U.S. intelligence “agencies had caught on that Chennault was the go-between between Nixon and his people and President Thieu in Saigon. … The idea was to bring things to a stop in Paris and prevent any show of progress.”

In her own autobiography, The Education of Anna, Chennault acknowledged that she was the courier. She quoted Nixon aide John Mitchell as calling her a few days before the 1968 election and telling her: “I’m speaking on behalf of Mr. Nixon. It’s very important that our Vietnamese friends understand our Republican position and I hope you made that clear to them.”

Secret Cables

Reporter Daniel Schorr added more details in a Washington Post article on May 28, 1995, citing decoded cables that U.S. intelligence had intercepted from the South Vietnamese embassy in Washington.

On Oct. 23, 1968, Ambassador Bui Dhien cabled Saigon with the message that “many Republican friends have contacted me and encouraged me to stand firm.” On Oct. 27, he wrote, “The longer the present situation continues, the more favorable for us. … I am regularly in touch with the Nixon entourage.”

On Nov. 2, 1968, Thieu withdrew from his tentative agreement to sit down with the Viet Cong at the Paris peace talks, destroying Johnson’s last hope for a settlement and clearing the way for Nixon’s narrow victory.

Though Johnson and his top advisers knew of Nixon’s gambit, they kept it secret apparently out of concern that it could further divide the country.

Anthony Summers’s 2000 book, The Arrogance of Power, provides the fullest examination of the Nixon-Thieu gambit, including the debate within Democratic circles about what to do with the evidence.

Both Johnson and Humphrey believed the information – if released to the public – could assure Nixon’s defeat, according to Summers.

“In the end, though, Johnson’s advisers decided it was too late and too potentially damaging to U.S. interests to uncover what had been going on,” Summers wrote. “If Nixon should emerge as the victor, what would the Chennault outrage do to his viability as an incoming president? And what effect would it have on American opinion about the war?”

Summers quotes Johnson’s assistant Harry McPherson, who said, “You couldn’t surface it. The country would be in terrible trouble.”

The direct U.S. role in the Vietnam War continued for more than four years with additional American casualties of 20,763 dead and 111,230 wounded. The toll among the people of Indochina was far higher.

Johnson and Humphrey went into retirement – and to their graves – keeping silent about Nixon’s treachery.

No Political Peace

The Democratic silence about Nixon's sabotage of the Paris peace talks did not bring them political peace. Instead, it seemed to embolden Nixon.

In the years that followed, Nixon built a clandestine apparatus designed to neutralize his political enemies and ensure his reelection in 1972.

Nixon’s “plumbers unit,” employing former CIA operatives, spied on individuals who caused Nixon difficulty – the likes of Daniel Ellsberg who exposed the Pentagon Papers history of the Vietnam War – and on the Democrats, too.

In May 1972, the plumbers planted bugs in the Watergate offices of the Democratic National Committee, apparently gleaning information about the last-minute strategies of the Democratic establishment to block the nomination of Sen. George McGovern, whom Nixon viewed as the easiest Democrat to beat. [For details on what Nixon got from the bugs, see Secrecy & Privilege.]

The next month, when the plumbers returned to plant more listening devices, they were caught by Washington police, leading to the Watergate investigation. But Nixon was able to keep the story mostly under wraps until he won his landslide victory against McGovern.

In 1973, with the help of such clever operatives as Republican National Chairman George H.W. Bush, Nixon tried to fend off the mounting evidence of his guilt, but he was finally forced to resign in August 1974. His successor, Gerald Ford, then lost Election 1976 to Jimmy Carter.

Though many political observers assumed that the Watergate debacle taught the Republicans some harsh lessons, it actually convinced them that they needed a stronger media and political infrastructure so they could protect their leaders from future scandals. By the late 1970s, the modern right-wing media began to take shape.

The Republican hope for redemption came soon enough, in the 1980 race that pitted conservative Ronald Reagan and his running mate George H.W. Bush against President Carter.

The Reagan-Bush brain trust, especially campaign chief William Casey, saw the lingering crisis with Iran over 52 American hostages as a powerful vulnerability for Carter but also a potential game-changer if Carter succeeded in engineering their release shortly before the election.

October Surprise

Vice presidential candidate Bush talked publicly about the potential for Carter pulling an “October Surprise” by freeing the hostages. But the evidence is now overwhelming that the Republicans also were contacting senior Iranians behind Carter's back to make sure that Carter failed in that effort.

Over the past 28 years, more than a score of witnesses – including senior Iranian officials, top French intelligence officers, U.S. and Israeli intelligence operatives, the Russian government and even Palestine leader Yasir Arafat – have confirmed the existence of a Republican initiative to interfere with Carter’s efforts to free the hostages.

In 1996, for instance, during a meeting in Gaza, Arafat personally told former President Carter that senior Republican emissaries approached the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1980 with a request that Arafat help broker a delay in the hostage release.

“You should know that in 1980 the Republicans approached me with an arms deal if I could arrange to keep the hostages in Iran until after the elections,” Arafat told Carter. [Diplomatic History, Fall 1996]

Arafat’s spokesman Bassam Abu Sharif said the GOP gambit pursued other channels, too. In an interview with me in Tunis in 1990, Bassam indicated that Arafat learned upon reaching Iran in 1980 that the Republicans and the Iranians had made other arrangements for a delay in the hostage release.

“The offer [to Arafat] was, ‘if you block the release of hostages, then the White House would be open for the PLO’,” Bassam said. “I guess the same offer was given to others, and I believe that some accepted to do it and managed to block the release of hostages.”

In a little-noticed letter to the U.S. Congress, dated Dec. 17, 1992, former Iranian President Abolhassan Bani-Sadr said he first learned of the Republican hostage initiative in July 1980.

Bani-Sadr said a nephew of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, then Iran’s supreme leader, returned from a meeting with an Iranian banker, Cyrus Hashemi, who had close ties to Casey and to Casey’s business associate, John Shaheen.

Bani-Sadr said the message from the Khomeini emissary was clear: the Republicans were in league with pro-Republican elements of the CIA in an effort to undermine Carter and were demanding Iran’s help.

Bani-Sadr said the emissary “told me that if I do not accept this proposal they [the Republicans] would make the same offer to my rivals.” The emissary added that the Republicans “have enormous influence in the CIA,” Bani-Sadr wrote. “Lastly, he told me my refusal of their offer would result in my elimination.”

Bani-Sadr said he resisted the GOP scheme, but the plan was accepted by the hard-line Khomeini faction.

Though some Carter advisers suspected Republican manipulation of the hostage crisis, the Democrats again kept silent. Only after the Iran-Contra scandal broke in 1986 – and witnesses began talking about its origins – did the 1980 story get fleshed out enough to compel Congress to take a closer look in 1991-92.

Again, however the Democrats feared that the evidence could endanger the fragile political relationships in Washington that enable governing to go forward. Once more, they chose to ignore the GOP machinations and, in some cases, literally hid the evidence.

[For the most detailed account of this October Surprise evidence, see Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege.]

The Reagan campaign benefited from another surreptitious operation, the purloining of President Carter's debate briefing book before a pivotal confrontation between the two candidates.

Though political pundits still recall Reagan’s clever debate rejoinders, such as his famous “there you go again,” some members of Reagan’s debate preparation team had the benefit of knowing what Carter was likely to say.

The Bush Years

Nixon-style strategies carried over into the campaigns mounted by George H.W. Bush in 1988 and 1992. The elder Bush's dark side would come out most glaringly when he was in what he called “campaign mode.”

The general election campaign against Michael Dukakis in 1988 stands as one of the nastiest in U.S. history, with Bush playing the race card by exploiting Willie Horton, a black inmate who raped a white woman while he was on a Massachusetts prison furlough.

Bush charted a similar course in 1992, with the goal of destroying Bill Clinton’s reputation and winning re-election by political default. The strategy, managed by then-White House chief of staff James Baker, involved searching Clinton's passport files looking for dirt to use against the Democratic candidate.

President Bush was personally involved in this "silver bullet" strategy aimed at portraying Clinton as disloyal to his country, possibly having collaborated with Soviet bloc intelligence.

In a later interview with federal prosecutors, Bush acknowledged that he was "nagging" his aides to press a sensitive investigation into Clinton's student travels to the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia. Bush also expressed strong interest in rumors that Clinton had sought to renounce his U.S. citizenship.

Bush described himself as "indignant" that his aides failed to discover more about Clinton's student activities. But Bush stopped short of taking responsibility for the apparently illegal searches of Clinton's passport records.

"Hypothetically speaking, President Bush advised that he would not have directed anyone to investigate the possibility that Clinton had renounced his citizenship because he would have relied on others to make this decision," the FBI interview report read. "He [Bush] would have said something like, 'Let's get it out' or 'Hope the truth gets out'."

The passport caper backfired in early October 1992 with disclosure of the State Department’s improper search of Clinton’s passport files, creating a scandal called “Passport-gate.”

Some inside the Bush administration, including James Baker, saw the resulting furor as an element in Bush's defeat to Clinton a month later.

On Nov. 20, about two weeks after the election, a distraught Baker even tried to submit a letter of resignation, but Bush refused to accept it, according to pages of Bush's diary that I found at the National Archives.

"Jim Baker came in here this morning about 10:30 deeply disturbed and read to me a long letter of resignation all because of this stupid passport situation," Bush wrote in his diary.

When a special prosecutor was named to investigate “Passport-gate,” the Bush administration was lucky because right-wing judges had just taken over the selection panel and picked Republican stalwart, Joseph diGenova, who proceeded to clear Bush and his top aides despite evidence of their guilt.


The Republican brazenness expanded into the actual counting of votes in Election 2000.

Though Al Gore won the national popular vote and stood to gain the presidency if a full recount of legally cast votes in Florida had been allowed, five Republican justices on the U.S. Supreme Court sided with George W. Bush and stopped the Florida recount, effectively handing Bush the presidency.

Almost a year later, in November 2001, a group of eight large news organizations finished a study of the uncounted Florida ballots and discovered that under any standard used for the chads – dimpled, hanging or fully punched through – Gore would have won if all ballots considered legal under Florida law were counted.

However, in the post 9/11 climate, the news organizations tried to spin their own findings so as not to undermine Bush’s “legitimacy.” The Democrats also didn’t do much. [See’s “Gore’s Victory” or our book, Neck Deep.]

Again, this bipartisanship wasn’t reciprocated. In 2004, Democrat John Kerry was badly hurt by a smear campaign against his Vietnam War heroism, led by a well-funded right-wing group called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. At the GOP convention, Republican activists highlighted skepticism about the severity of Kerry’s war wounds by passing out “Purple Heart Band-Aids.”

In Campaign 2004, the power of the right-wing news media also was at its apex with a multitude of print, radio, TV and electronic outlets that could twist reality into almost any shape desired.

So, in the campaign’s final days, when Osama bin Laden released his first video in a year to denounce President Bush, the pro-Bush media treated it as an “endorsement” of John Kerry.

After bin Laden’s video, last-minute polls showed a surge of about three-percentage points toward Bush and he hung on to win by an official margin of about 2½ points (although suspicions persist that Bush also benefited from voting irregularities in key states, such as Ohio).

Only after Election 2004 – in a book by journalist Ron Suskind – did the public learn that inside the CIA, senior analysts concluded that bin Laden had issued his 11th-hour video with the intent of tipping the election to Bush, whose belligerent policies bin Laden saw as helping al-Qaeda’s cause. [For details, see’s “CIA: Osama Helped Bush in ’04.”]

In the past four years, however, the political terrain for the Republicans has grown more treacherous.

Hurricane Katrina’s devastation of New Orleans in 2005 revealed the cronyism near the heart of the Bush administration. The open-ended wars in Iraq and Afghanistan sapped away the public’s trust in Republicans as the party of national security.

Nevertheless, the Democrats and the Obama campaign should not assume that some of the old tricks won’t be tried.

Indeed, the Democrats probably should expect that the Republicans will pull out their old playbooks – and pull out all the stops – in a fierce determination to make sure Barack Obama never makes it to the White House.

[For readers wishing more details about the history of Republican dirty tricks, Secrecy & Privilege and Neck Deep are available through the publisher’s Web site at a special combined rate, with $5 of each purchase going to help keep alive. The books also came be obtained at]

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth' are also available there. Or go to

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

American Institution In Death Throes

The American corporate news media (ACNM) have brought on their own demise; suicide by deception of the people and/or trivializing the news. The people, whom they should be serving by digging out the truth when the political establishment are doing all they can to deceive, seem to be saying, "ENOUGH!"

When the news media becomes complicit in misinforming the electorate in any democracy, that democracy is soon finished. Freedom of the press is given a special place in American democracy. No democratic republic can long endure an ignorant electorate, let alone an intentionally misinformed one.

Unfortunately, the American electorate is both ignorant and misinformed.

Posted on Aug 28, 2008
CNN Grill

News with a side of curly fries: The CNN Grill at the Democratic National Convention site in Denver.

By Bill Boyarsky

DENVER—I suppose I should be sad to watch the decline of the once mighty political media, an institution that trained and nurtured me.

But that’s not how I feel. For this was the institution that cheered when President Bush took us to war. These were the political reporters who were once transfixed with Barack Obama and are now ripping him to shreds. And these are the journalists who are still so awed by John McCain’s years as a prisoner of war that they won’t dig into his record.

This is also the institution that is getting this Democratic National Convention wrong, obsessed with a phony feud between Obama and Hillary Clinton, wasting time interviewing that small but vengeful cult, the die-hard Hillaryites.

That vision of the convention is not what’s happening. Rather, Democrats are beginning a process of coming together after the long and intense battle for the nomination. A few more words from Clinton—“he beat me fair and square”—would have completely sealed the deal, but she’s too much of a competitor to say that. By Election Day, the past battles will have been put aside.

Luckily, for the good of the Republic, this bad reporting has had little impact on events, unlike the effect it would have had in the past. The mass media have been weakened greatly in the last few years, hurt by a loss of readers, viewers and advertisers and the growing power of the Internet. That came through clearly on the first day of the convention when I saw the Los Angeles Times sharing a workspace with the other Tribune papers. When I was covering conventions for the Times, we had our own big workspace and all kinds of big shots came calling.

The decline of the mainstream media was discussed Tuesday at a panel on “Politics & the Media: Bridging the Political Divide in the 2008 Elections,” sponsored by the USC Annenberg Center on Communications Leadership and by Politico, a daily journal of political news that appears on the Web and in print.

Panelist John Harris, a former Washington Post reporter and editor and one of the founders of Politico, offered a lament for the past.

He said “this was a time of despair” for political journalism, threatened as it is by economics and stung by challenges from the growing pack of bloggers who treat once influential political reporters with the same contempt and condescension the mainstream journalists show to their least-favored sources.

Harris longed for the days when journalists “thought we were doing important work and having a hell of a lot of fun doing it.”

Of course it’s fun—if not intellectually challenging—to be the God-like dispenser of wisdom and to comfortably share your opinions with like-minded colleagues.

That has been how political journalism has been practiced for a long time. Beginning with the rise of the mass newspaper press in the late 19th century and of television news in the 1960s, American political and social perceptions were shaped by a relatively small coterie of owners, managers and reporters.

If they didn’t choose to report something, it might as well have not happened. For example, most Northern newspapers did not report racial discrimination in jobs, housing and schools for years, leaving their readers ignorant—and shocked by the eventual protests.

When I began covering national political campaigns for the Associated Press and later the Los Angeles Times, political developments were filtered through top columnists and reporters and their editors who shaped the news through their generally middle-of-the-road view of the world.

The student rebellion, which began in the mid- and late ’50s, was unrecognized and unreported until it burst upon the country during the Vietnam War.

With Web sites such as this one offering a variety of views, the old dominance is fading, and nowhere is this more clear than at this convention.

This Internet journalism era is in its infancy, and much of the work is pretty crude and open to criticism. But the movement is tremendously important because it provides America with a variety of voices that have long been silenced.

I see the need for those voices when I check the mainstream view of the convention, which is not what I see at the hall.

I thought Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s speech Monday was one of the most heroic and moving moments I have ever seen in politics. Gravely ill with a brain cancer, he willed himself to fly to the convention. He spoke powerfully, and it was clear from his words what had brought him on that difficult journey. What drove him on was a cause as well as a candidate. It was health care for all Americans, and when he pledged to be in the Senate to get it passed next year I think every person in the hall prayed he would make it. I know I did.

But the moment was relegated in most of the narratives to just a part of the phony Barack-Hillary feud story: Would Teddy help Barack win over the Hillary lovers?

Hopefully this was one of last gasps of the old days. I won’t miss them.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Putin: U.S. ‘Created’ Georgia Conflict

Emails were flying among I.U.ers on the night the Olympics Games opened and Georgia was blasting the people of Ossetia with missiles designed to do the worst damage imaginable. There were no military targets, so these highly destructive missiles targeted civilians.

Shock and Awe in Ossetia

Our primary poster was not home. She was visiting her cousin in Alabama. He, however, keeps up with such things and informed her of what was happening in Ossetia.

"It's the pipeline," he said.

"It may be, at least in part," she said, " but it's more about the election, here, and continuing to poke at the old Russian bear. The "war on terror" is losing legitimacy even among Republicans; legitimacy it should never have had to begin with, so the idea is to revive the cold war. A new arms race will create some fat portfolios. This has the stench of neoconservative, international hi- jinks all over it."

Since, she has written me about the sadness she felt, watching the athletes from Georgia and Russia march into the stadium in Beijing not knowing that their nations were at war.

Putin has it right. It certainly would not be the first time that this administration has used "foreign policy" to manipulate the American electorate. Sadly, my strong hunch is that it won't be the last. As a matter of fact, the worst may well be yet to come.

Posted on Aug 28, 2008

A Progressive Journal of News and Opinion. Editor, Robert Scheer. Publisher, Zuade Kaufman.
Copyright © 2008 Truthdig, L.L.C. All rights reserved.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Super Imperialism

Michael Hudson: "Greenspan saw his job as a cheerleader for people who were able to get rich fast; sort of like a pilot fish for sharks"

Mike Whitney Interviews Michael Hudson

29/08/08 "ICH" -- -- 1 Mike Whitney: The United States current account deficit is roughly $700 billion. That is enough "borrowed" capital to pay the yearly $120 billion cost of the war in Iraq, the entire $450 billion Pentagon budget, and Bush's tax cuts for the rich. Why does the rest of the world keep financing America's militarism via the current account deficit or is it just the unavoidable consequence of currency deregulation, "dollar hegemony" and globalization?

Michael Hudson: As I explained in Super Imperialism, central banks in other countries buy dollars not because they think dollar assets are a “good buy,” but because if they did NOT recycle their trade surpluses and U.S. buyout spending and military spending by buying U.S. Treasury, Fannie Mae and other bonds, their currencies would rise against the dollar. This would price their exporters out of dollarized world markets. So the United States can spend money and get a free ride.

The solution is (1) capital controls to block further dollar receipts, (2) floating tariffs against imports from dollarized economies, (3) buyouts of U.S. investments in dollar-recipient countries (so that Europe and Asia would use their central bank dollars to buy out U.S. private investments at book value), (4) subsidized exports to dollarized economies with depreciating currency, and similar responses that the United States would adopt if it were in the position of a payments-surplus country. In other words, Europe and Asia would treat the United States as its Washington Consensus boys treat Third World debtors: buy out their raw materials and other industries, their export plantations, and their governments.

2 MW---Economist Henry Liu said in his article "Dollar hegemony enables the US to own indirectly but essentially the entire global economy by requiring its wealth to be denominated in fiat dollars that the US can print at will with little in the way of monetary penalties.....World trade is now a game in which the US produces fiat dollars of uncertain exchange value and zero intrinsic value, and the rest of the world produces goods and services that fiat dollars can buy at "market prices" quoted in dollars." Is Liu overstating the case or have the Federal Reserve and western banking elites really figured out how to maintain imperial control over the global economy simply by ensuring that most energy, commodities, and manufactured goods are denominated in dollars? If that's the case, then it would seem that the actual "face-value" of the dollar does not matter as much as long as it continues to be used in the purchase of commodities. Is this right?

Michael Hudson: Henry Liu and I have been discussing this for many years now. We are in full agreement. The paragraph you quote is quite right. His Asia Times articles provide a running analysis of dollar hegemony.

3 MW---What is the relationship between stagnant wages for workers and the current credit crisis? If workers wages had kept up with the rate of production, isn't it less likely that we would be in the jam we are today? And, if that is true, then shouldn't we be more focused on re-unionizing the labor force instead looking for solutions from the pathetic Democratic Party?

Michael Hudson: The credit crisis derives from “the magic of compound interest,” that is, the tendency of debts to keep on doubling and redoubling. Every rate of interest is a doubling time. No “real” economy’s production and economic surplus can keep up with this tendency of debt to grow faster. So the financial crisis would have occurred regardless of wage levels.

Quite simply, the price of home ownership tends to absorb all the disposable personal income of the homebuyer. So if wages would have risen more rapidly, the price of housing would simply have risen faster as employees pledged more take-home pay to carry larger mortgages. Stagnant wages merely helped keep down the price of houses to merely stratospheric levels, not ionospheric ones.

As for labor unions, they haven’t been any help at all in solving the housing crisis. In Germany where I am right now, unions have sponsored co-ops, as they used to do in New York City, at low membership costs. So housing costs only absorb about 20% of German family budgets, compared to twice that for the United States. Imagine what could be done if pension funds had put their money into housing for their contributors, instead of into the stock market to buy and bid up prices for the stocks that CEOs and other insiders were selling.

4 MW---When politicians or members of the foreign policy establishment talk about "integrating" Russia or China into the "international system"; what exactly do they mean? Do they mean the dollar-dominated system which is governed by the Fed, the World Bank, the IMF, and the WTO? Do countries compromise their national sovereignty when they participate in the US-led economic system?

Michael Hudson: By “integrating” they mean absorbing, something like a parasite integrating a host into its own control system. They mean that other countries will be prohibited under WTO and IMF rules from getting rich in the way that the United States got wealthy in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Only the United States will be permitted to subsidize its agriculture, thanks to its unique right to grandfather in its price supports. Only the United States will be free from having to raise interest rates to stabilize its balance of payments, and only it can devote its monetary policy to promoting easy credit and asset-price inflation. And only the United States can run a military deficit, obliging foreign central banks in dollar-recipient countries to give it a free ride. In other words, there is no free lunch for other countries, only for the United States.

Other countries do indeed give up their national sovereignty. The United States never has adjusted its economy to create equilibrium with other countries. But to be fair, in this respect only the United States is acting fully in its own self-interest. The problem is largely that other countries are not “playing the game.” They are not acting as real governments. It takes two to tango when one party gets a free ride. Their governments have become “enablers” of U.S. economic aggression.

5 MW---What do you think the Bush administration's reaction would be if a smaller country, like Switzerland, had sold hundreds of billions of dollars of worthless mortgage-backed securities to investment banks, insurance companies and investors in the United States? Wouldn't there be litigation and a demand that the responsible parties be held accountable? So, how do you explain the fact that China and the EU nations, that were the victims of this gigantic swindle, haven't boycotted US financial products or called for reparations?

Michael Hudson: International law is not clear on financial fraud. Caveat emptor is the rule. Foreign investors took a risk. They trusted a deregulated U.S. financial market that made it easiest to make money via financial fraud. Ultimately, they put their faith in neoliberal deregulation – at home as well as in the United States. England is now in the same mess. The “accountability” was supposed to lie with U.S. accounting firms and credit rating agencies. Foreign investors were so ideologically blinded by free market rhetoric that they actually believed the fantasies about “self-regulation” and self-regulating markets tending toward equilibrium rather than the real-world tendency toward financial and economic polarization.

In other words, most foreign investors lack a realistic body of economic theory. The United States could simply argue that they should take responsibility for their bad investments, just as U.S. pension funds and other investors are told to do.

6 MW---The Congress recently passed a bill that gives Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson the unprecedented authority to use as much money as he needs to keep Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac solvent. Paulson assured the Congress that he wouldn't need more than $25 billion but, the 400 page bill allows him to increase the national debt by $800 billion. How will the Fannie/Freddie bailout affect the dollar and the budget deficit? Are interest rates likely to skyrocket because of this action?

Michael Hudson: The Fed can flood the economy with money, Alan Greenspan-style, to prevent interest rates from skyrocketing. Nobody really knows what will happen to FNMA and Freddie Mac, but it looks like the mortgage and financial crisis will get much, much worse over the coming year. We are just heading into the storm where adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) are scheduled to reset at higher rates, and where U.S. banks have to roll over their existing debts in a market where foreign investors fear that these banks already have no net worth left.

So the principle here is “Big fish eat little fish.” Wall Street will be bailed out, and banks will be allowed to “earn their way out of debt” as they did after 1980, by exploiting retail customers, above all credit-card customers and individual borrowers. There will be a lot of bankruptcies, and people will suffer more than ever before because of the harsh pro-creditor bankruptcy law that Congress passed at the behest of the bank lobbyists.

7 MW---A few months ago, the Wall Street Journal ran an editorial which said that they could imagine two nightmare scenarios if the current credit crisis was not handled properly; either there would be a run on the dollar causing a sudden plunge in its value, or the unexpected failure of a major financial institution could send the stock market crashing. Last week, the former head of the IMF Kenneth Rogoff triggered a sell-off on Wall Street when he said, "We’re not just going to see mid-sized banks go under in the next few months, we’re going to see a whopper; we’re going to see a big one — one of the big investment banks or big banks." What happens if Rogoff is right and Merrill, Citi or Lehman go belly up? Is that enough to send the stock market freefalling?

Michael Hudson: Not necessarily. Citibank would be nationalized, then sold off. The principle should be that if a bank is “too big to fail,” it should be broken up.

This should start with a repeal of the Clinton Administration’s repeal of Glass-Steagall.

As for Lehman, that would be given the Bear Stearns treatment, and also sold off – probably to a hedge fund. Merrill is much larger, but it also could be parceled out, I suppose. The stock market’s financial index would plunge, but not necessarily industrial stock prices.

8 MW---According to MarketWatch: "In the three months from April to June, banks posted their second worst earnings performance since 1991.... Earnings for the quarter totaled just $5 billion, compared with $36.8 billion a year ago, a decline of 86.5%." Also, according to a front page article in the Wall Street Journal: "financial institutions will have to pay off at least $787 billion in floating rate notes and other medium term obligations before the end of 2009." 
 How are the banks going to pay off nearly $800 billion ($200 billion by December!) when they only earned a measly $5 billion in the quarter!?! And how in the world is the Federal Reserve going to keep the banking system functioning when earnings can't even cover current liabilities? Do the banks have some secret source of revenue we don't know about or is the system headed for disaster?

Michael Hudson: The traditional way to pay debt is with yet MORE debt. The interest due is simply added on to the principal, so that the debt grows exponentially. This is the real meaning of “the magic of compound interest.” It means not only that savings left to accumulate interest keep on doubling and redoubling, debts do to, because the savings that are lent out on the “asset” side of the creditor’s balance sheet (today, that of America’s wealthiest 10%) become debts on the “liabilities” side of the balance sheet (the “bottom 90%”).

The banks don’t have a secret source of revenue. It’s right out in the open. They will take their junk mortgages to the Federal Reserve and borrow the money at full face value. The government will be left with the junk.

It then can either take over the bank, as the Bank of England did with Northern Rock when it went bankrupt early this year, or it can let the bank “earn” money by stiffing its customers some more.

9 MW---From 2000 to 2006, the total retail value of housing in the United States doubled, going from roughly $11 trillion to $22 trillion in just 6 years. For the last 200 years, housing has barely kept pace with the rate of inflation, usually increasing 2 to 3% per year. The Federal Reserve's low interest rates were the main cause of this unprecedented housing bubble and, yet, ex-Fed chief Alan Greenspan still denies any responsibility for what "The Economist" calls "the largest bubble in history". Did Greenspan understand the problems he was creating with his "loose" monetary policies or was there some ulterior motive to his actions?

Michael Hudson: He simply didn’t care about the problem. He saw his job as a cheerleader for people who were able to get rich fast. These always had been his major clients in his years on Wall Street, and he saw himself as their servant – sort of like a pilot fish for sharks.

Mr. Greenspan’s idea of “wealth creation” was to take the line of least resistance and inflate asset prices. He thought that the way to enable the economy to carry its debt overhead was to inflate asset prices so that debtors could borrow the interest falling due by pledging collateral (real estate, stocks and bonds) that were rising in market price. To his Ayn-Rand view of the world, one way of making money was as economically and socially productive as any other way of doing so. Buying a property and waiting for its price to inflate was deemed as productive as investing in new means of production.

Ever since his days as co-founder of NABE (the National Association of Business Economists), Greenspan has long looked only at GNP and the national balance sheet as an economic indicator, being “value-free.” This is his intellectual and conceptual limitation. He wanted to provide a way for savvy investors to get rich, and the easiest way to get rich is to be passive and get a free lunch. His ideology led him to believe the “free market” ideology that the financial sector would be self-regulating and hence would act honestly. But he opened the floodgates to financial crooks. His set of measures did not distinguish between Countrywide Financial getting rich, Enron getting rich, or General Motors or industrial companies expanding their means of production. So the economy was being hollowed out, but this didn’t appear in any of the measures he looked at from his perch at the Federal Reserve.

So just as journalists and the mass media proclaim every market downturn as “surprising” and “unexpected,” he was as clueless as a lemming running headlong over the cliff. It’s an inherent instinct for free-market boys.

10 MW---The housing market is free falling, setting new records every day for foreclosures, inventory, and declining prices. The banking system is in even worse shape; under-capitalized and buried under a mountain of downgraded assets. There seems to be growing consensus that these problems are not just part of a normal economic downturn, but the direct result of the Fed's monetary policies. Are we seeing the collapse of the Central banking model as a way of regulating the markets? Do you think the present crisis will strengthen the existing system or make it easier for the American people to assert greater control over monetary policy?

Michael Hudson: What do you mean “failure”? Your perspective is from the bottom looking up. But the financial model has been a great success from the vantage point of the top of the economic pyramid looking down? The economy has polarized to the point where the wealthiest 10% now own 85% of the nation’s wealth. Never before have the bottom 90% been so highly indebted, so dependent on the wealthy. From their point of view, their power has exceeded that of any time in which economic statistics have been kept.

You have to realize that what they’re trying to do is to roll back the Enlightenment, roll back the moral philosophy and social values of classical political economy and its culmination in Progressive Era legislation, as well as the New Deal institutions. They’re not trying to make the economy more equal, and they’re not trying to share power. Their greed is (as Aristotle noted) infinite. So what you find to be a violation of traditional values is a re-assertion of pre-industrial, feudal values. The economy is being set back on the road to debt peonage. The Road to Serfdom is not government sponsorship of economic progress and rising living standards; it’s the dismantling of government, the dissolution of regulatory agencies, to create a new feudal-type elite.

The former Soviet Union provides a model of what the neoliberals would like to create. Not only in Russia but also in the Baltic States and other former Soviet republics, they created local kleptocracies, Pinochet-style. In Russia, the kleptocrats founded an explicitly Pinochetista party, the Party of Right Forces (“Right” as in right-wing).

In order for the American people or any other people to assert greater control over monetary policy, they need to have a doctrine of just what a good monetary policy would be. Early in the 19th century the followers of St. Simon in France began to develop such a policy. By the end of that century, Central Europe implemented this policy, mobilizing the banking and financial system to promote industrialization, in consultation with the government (and catalyzed by military and naval spending, to be sure). But all this has disappeared from the history of economic thought, which no longer is even taught to economics students. The Chicago Boys have succeeded in censoring any alternative to their free-market rationalization of asset stripping and economic polarization.

My own model would be to make central banks part of the Treasury, not simply the board of directors of the rapacious commercial banking system. You mentioned Henry Liu’s writings earlier, and I think he has come to the same conclusion in his Asia Times articles.

11 MW---Do you see the Federal Reserve as an economic organization designed primarily to maintain order in the markets via interest rates and regulation or a political institution whose objectives are to impose an American-dominated model of capitalism on the rest of the world?

Michael Hudson: Surely, you jest! The Fed has turned “maintaining order” into a euphemism for consolidating power by the financial sector and the FIRE sector generally (Finance, Insurance and Real Estate) over the “real” economy of production and consumption. Its leaders see their job as being to act on behalf of the commercial banking system to enable it to make money off the rest of the economy. It acts as the Board of Directors to fight regulation, to support Wall Street, to block any revival of anti-usury laws, to promote “free markets” almost indistinguishable from outright financial fraud, to decriminalize bad behavior – and most of all to inflate the price of property relative to the wages of labor and even relative to the profits of industry.

The Fed’s job is not really to impose the Washington Consensus on the rest of the world. That’s the job of the World Bank and IMF, coordinated via the Treasury (viz. Robert Rubin under Clinton most notoriously) and AID, along with the covert actions of the CIA and the National Endowment for Democracy. You don’t need monetary policy to do this – only massive bribery. Only call it “lobbying” and the promotion of democratic values – values to fight government power to regulate or control finance across the world. Financial power is inherently cosmopolitan and, as such, antagonistic to the power of national governments.

The Fed and other government agencies, Wall Street and the rest of the economy form part of an overall system. Each agency must be viewed in the context of this system and its dynamics – and these dynamics are polarizing, above all from financial causes. So we are back to the “magic of compound interest,” now expanded to include “free” credit creation and arbitraging.

The problem is that none of this appears in the academic curriculum. And the silence of the major media to address it or even to acknowledge it means that it is invisible except to the beneficiaries who are running the system.

Michael Hudson is a former Wall Street economist specializing in the balance of payments and real estate at the Chase Manhattan Bank (now JP Morgan Chase & Co.), Arthur Anderson, and later at the Hudson Institute (no relation). In 1990 he helped established the world’s first sovereign debt fund for Scudder Stevens & Clark. Dr. Hudson was Dennis Kucinich’s Chief Economic Advisor in the recent Democratic primary presidential campaign, and has advised the U.S., Canadian, Mexican and Latvian governments, as well as the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR). A Distinguished Research Professor at University of Missouri, Kansas City (UMKC), he is the author of many books, including Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire (new ed., Pluto Press, 2002

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Kristol: Bush May Bomb Iran In Face Of Obama Win.

Neocon from hell, stirring the pot.

Kristol: Bush Might Bomb Iran If He ‘Thinks Senator Obama’s Going To Win’»

On Fox News Sunday this morning, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol said that President Bush is more likely to attack Iran if he believes Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) is going to be elected.

However, “if the president thought John McCain was going to be the next president, he would think it more appropriate to let the next president make that decision than do it on his way out,” Kristol said, reinforcing the fact that McCain is offering a third Bush term on Iran.

“I do wonder with Senator Obama, if President Bush thinks Senator Obama’s going to win, does he somehow think — does he worry that Obama won’t follow through on that policy,” Kristol added. Host Chris Wallace then asked if Kristol was suggesting that Bush might “launch a military strike” before or after the election:

WALLACE: So, you’re suggesting that he might in fact, if Obama’s going to win the election, either before or after the election, launch a military strike?

KRISTOL: I don’t know. I mean, I think he would worry about it. On the other hand, you can’t — it’s hard to make foreign policy based on guesses of election results. I think Israel is worried though. I mean, what is, what signal goes to Ahmadinejad if Obama wins on a platform of unconditional negotiations and with an obvious reluctance to even talk about using military force.

Kristol also suggested that Obama’s election would tempt Saudi Arabia and Egypt to think, “maybe we can use nuclear weapons.” Watch it:

Kristol’s belief that Bush might attack Iran before leaving office is not new. In April, he told Bill Bennett that it wasn’t “out of the question” that Bush would consider such a strike because “people are overdoing how much of a lame duck the president is.”

The claim that Obama’s potential election could force Bush’s hand also isn’t new. Earlier this month, far-right pseudo scholar Daniel Pipes told National Review Online that “President Bush will do something” if the Democratic nominee won. “Should it be Mr. McCain that wins, he’ll punt,” said Pipes.

Both Kristol and Pipes apparently agree with President Bush’s claim in March that McCain’s “not going to change” his foreign policy.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Damnable Democracy Stealing Diebold

No matter what their official corporate name is these days, it's Diebold again.

Blogged by Brad Friedman on 8/24/2008 5:17PM
UPDATED WITH VIDEO: CNN's Lou Dobbs Covers Stunning Admission...

If you didn't happen to pay close enough attention to Ellen Theisen's guest blog on Friday, now that I'm back on the grid (after a few blissful days in the mountains with family friends on the way to Denver here), let me re-iterate the main points of her article quite directly: Diebold has admitted that their tabulator software, known as GEMS, and used all across the country, in at least 34 states, does not count votes correctly.

In fact, it actually loses votes, by not counting them at all, yet gives the system administrator no indication that the votes were not counted. Instead, it tells them that all votes have been counted correctly. This bug has been in Diebold's software --- where it remains to this day-- for years. Diebold has only admitted it now that it's been found by someone else (a number of counties in Ohio, of all places) and with the 2008 Presidential election less than 80 days away. Washington Post's coverage here.

Coinciding with that startling admission, the Election Assistance Commission (EAC)'s Gracia Hillman, one of the two Democratic-recommended appointees, has gone on public record stating that the federal certification testing process is too stringent.

While all of that was made clear in Ellen's blog item, I found both of the above points so remarkable that I wanted to underscore them now that I've finally made it to Denver (or at least Boulder, for the moment), since I was simply stunned to read it myself after getting back on the grid.

Is anybody there? Does anybody care?

UPDATE: CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight covered the stunning admission by Diebold on their show Friday. Here it is (thanks to Alan Breslauer, as usual!) ...

UPDATE 8:43pm PT: McClatchy's Greg Gordon picks up the ball, and advances it a bit, noting the failure in oversight by the feds which allowed for the failure, as we've been trying to get across here for years. He begins this way...

Warning on voting machines reveals oversight failure

WASHINGTON — Disclosure of an election computer glitch that could drop ballot totals for entire precincts is stirring new worries that an unofficial laboratory testing system failed for years to detect an array of flaws in $1.5 billion worth of voting equipment sold nationwide since 2003.

Texas-based Premier Elections Solutions [Diebold] last week alerted at least 1,750 jurisdictions across the country that special precautions are needed to address the problem in tabulation software affecting all 19 of its models dating back a decade.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Democrats: Snap Out Of It! That goes for the rest of us, too

I post this article today, even though it was written as the Dems began their convention, mainly because I like Gene Robinson and because much of what he says here is still pertinent, if not in the same way or for the same reasons.

I doubt that the Democrats' convention could have come off any better if it had been produced and directed by Spielberg.

Obama's choice for V.P could not have been better for him or for the nation. No one in their right mind could doubt that Biden's experience in foreign affairs, not to mention the military and Justice, is just what the ticket needed.

Hill and Bill did what they had to do, not just for their party but for the nation. As Hillary said, No McCain, no way, or something to that effect. There is no way the country we all love can survive more of the GOP in the White House, not to mention as the majority party on the Hill; certainly not this GOP.

This is not Eisenhower's GOP. As a matter of fact, it is the GOP that Eisenhower warned us about, the political party whose lust for one party rule is, by now, obvious to the whole world and whose relationship with the military/industrial/(and now security)/complex, as well as other big corporate interests, is stunning and the greatest danger to face this nation since the civil war.

I was also struck by another thing Hillary said; rather a question she asked her supporters, "Are you in this just for me?" Hillary's supporters need to seriously contemplate that question, if they haven't already. Perhaps there was a time when Americans could afford to play our usual silly political games, but not this election year. No time for cult-of-personality politics this year! We, as a nation, have been staring into the abyss for too long. The abyss is staring back.

This is not politics as usual in the U.S.A.

Truth be told, the end of politics as usual began, obviously to all, with the impeachment of Bill Clinton for lying about adultery in sworn testimony, making his words fall under the legal term of perjury. Clinton's perjury is a form of perjury committed daily (except for weekends and holidays) in courthouses across this land, from sea to shining sea. Rarely is anyone ever charged with any kind of perjury in family/divorce courts, let alone criminal perjury.

"It is almost expected that people will lie their arses off when it comes to sex," as I was informed by an attorney friend some years before Clinton was impeached for it. Oddly and naively, I had thought that perjury was perjury, period, when a person lied in a court of law. I was wrong. Slapping someone with a perjury charge arising out of lies about adultery is very rare, the case of Bill Clinton, then a sitting president, being one of the exceptions, aparently, though certainly not a very bright one for the country.

Let me be clear. I am not a big Bill Clinton fan. I give him his due. He is probably the smartest politician I have seen in my lifetime and his administration was about peace, for the most part, social and economic justice, fiscal responsibility and, for a majority of the people, prosperity. The U.S. had a surplus when he left office, so the GOP can scream from the roof-tops about the "recession" the economy was sliding into as Bush/Cheney took office, as they in fact did and still do, but that "recession" was a tiny blip on the radar compared to what we face now.

Nevertheless, many of his campaign promises went unkept, some with barely and effort at all. The other thing that makes me think less of Clinton is that he hardly ever lays into Republicans for what they did to him and what they put this country through. He blames the news media. Admittedly they did their share of x-rated reporting, breathlessly, hourly, on and on, ad nauseum, but there would have been nothing to report had the GOP and their money men had not investigated Bill and Hill, as if they were the reincarnations of Bonnie and Clyde, almost from the day he took the oath of office. Of course, none of it would have been possible were it not for Clinton's own stupid/sick behavior. His enemies had been after him for his womanizing ways since before the election. Clinton, as smart as he seems to be, honestly thought they had let go of that one?

Do they put something that is toxic to the brain in the White House water supply?

So, we can all forget about politics as usual. The GOP House managers, who prosecuted perjury charges against Clinton, while frothing at their pompous mouths, against the clearly expressed wishes of the majority of the American people, put an end to politics as usual and everything that has happened since has only made it more apparent, from the stolen election of 2000, to 9/11 and Osama bin Forgotten, to the stunning deception that led this nation into a war of aggression (the mother of all war crimes) against a nation of people who had nothing to do with the attacks of 9/11 or the second major terrorist attack on American soil during the Bush administration, the anthrax attacks. Terror is terror and terrorism is terrorism, just as murder is murder and war crimes are war crimes

No, this is not politics as usual, but this election is by far the most important election I have seen in my lifetime, not only for our country and the future of our kids and grand kids, but for the well-being of the planet and all its citizens.

Even after Obama's speech last night in front of 80,000 people at Denver's Mile-High Stadium, other millions tuned in all across the country and on television sets all around the world, a speech that was both electrifying and informative, the Democrats and all who wish to join them in getting Obama/Biden elected have got to hit the ground running and get tough. After all, it is only our Democratic Republic that is at least, what's left of it after the last 40 years, especially the last 7 years and some months.

In case it was missed, Obama issued a call-to-arms last night.

There is no doubt about it. Obama knows that no matter how good of a speech he gave and no matter how well the convention went, we are in for the fight of our lives; it will be nasty and brutal. How could any of us believe otherwise. McCain has the Rovian smear machine on his payroll, not to mention Rover's geek-squad, specializing in election tampering and headed up by Chief Geek, Mr. Connell.

Those of us, whether we are independents, Democrats, disaffected Republicans or Americans registered as members of some of the many minor parties, who see our current situation clearly, had better be prepared to fight to our last last breath, if necessary or be prepared to suffer consequences still unimaginable to many.

Barack Obama made it crystal clear to us that he is ready to take on the real enemies of our constitution. He does not plan on leaving the fight to Joe Biden and others. He made that perfectly clear when he said he would be glad to have the debate about who is prepared to be "commander-in-chief," about who has the judgment and TEMPERAMENT for the job.

(I remember when we elected a president every four years. Now, thanks to Junior and his express wish to be a war president because, in his somewhat addled mind, endless war is how one holds onto power in this country, we get to elect a commander-in-chief....or not, depending on how many and how wide-spread the paperless voting machines and easily hacked optical-scanners are remaining around the country on November 4, 2008.)

We can fight tooth and nail, just by telling the truth. There is no need for meaness and nastiness, let alone lies about the opposition, circulated through the back-channels of Wingnutia in the form of chain emails and other whispering campaigns. The truth will be sufficient if told forcefully and often.

Right this moment, in our history as a nation and as citizens of this planet we call home, it is hard to imagine ourselves in greater peril. Electing Barack Obama and Joe Biden is a huge task. Let's not kid ourselves. The Republicans, Neocons, their swift-boating pals and the right-wing media echo-chamber are going to pull out all the stops. This is not a time for the faint of heart. It is a time for real courage and faith in our own minds and hearts.

We need to be prepared to make their tactics costly to them.

We must remember to re-visit our origins as a nation and demand transparency, the only answers to fear-mongering and deception.

We were not born as a nation of people scared witless; a nation of cowards, voting for security which cannot possibly be achieved, even if, like frightened fools, we gladly gave up every Right we ever had, under the Bill of Rights in the Constitution.

Our founders warned us about a tyranny that would one day come our way. They warned us about a government that would come to oppress the free people of the U.S.A. American citizens used to have a healthy skepticism about government power and how it was exercised. We were taught that power corrupts and than absolute power corrupts absolutely. We've certainly had our brushes with tyranny before, but nothing like what's happening now.

Those who would exchange freedom for security deserve neither. It was old Ben Franklin who said that. I would add that history has taught us that not only do such people deserve neither, they get neither. It was Franklin who informed a curious citizen who asked what kind of government we had, "A Republic, if you can keep it."

I wonder, can we?

By Eugene Robinson

DENVER—If they want to win in November, Democrats have one task to accomplish this week: Snap out of it.

Somehow, tentativeness and insecurity have infected a party that ought to be full of confident swagger. It’s not that Democrats don’t like their odds of winning the presidency and boosting their majorities in both houses of Congress. It’s that they are even bothering to calculate and recalculate those odds.

That’s what you could catch Democrats doing last weekend as they assembled for the convention. We’ll win, they would say, but we just have to do this or Barack Obama just has to do that or the Clintons have to do this, that and the other. And the stars have to align just so.

People, the stars don’t line up any more auspiciously than this. George W. Bush is to presidential unpopularity what Michael Phelps is to aquatic velocity. The Republican candidate for president is a wooden, uncharismatic denizen of Washington whose “maverick” image belies the fact that he has supported Bush on practically every big issue. The economy is sagging, the financial system is in crisis and gasoline prices remain punishingly high. In recent polls, as many as eight out of 10 Americans have said the country is on the wrong track. You don’t need a soothsayer to read omens like these.

Since I landed here Saturday night, though, I haven’t heard a lot of Democrats crowing about the terrible whuppin’ they’re about to administer. I’ve heard predictions of victory, yes, but also a lot of questions. Will Hillary Clinton’s die-hard supporters refuse to lay down their arms, even if their champion begs them to? Will an unreconciled Bill Clinton steal the show? Will Obama’s acceptance speech at Invesco Field be so stirring and poetic that the Republicans will slam him again for excessive eloquence?

In other words: Are Hillary Clinton’s followers, many of whom care deeply about women’s issues, ready to accept a Supreme Court majority that would do away with Roe v. Wade, which John McCain would surely deliver? Has Bill Clinton forgotten everything he ever learned about politics and forsaken his lifelong loyalty to the Democratic Party? Would Obama be wise to effectively renounce the use of his great oratorical gifts, which constitute one his most powerful and effective weapons?

All these questions are just excuses to fret. Unlike Republicans, Democrats like to obsess about what could go wrong. It’s kind of a partisan hobby.

I was going to say that the Republican Party’s hobby is driving Democrats crazy with worry, but the truth is that the Democrats are doing this to themselves.

People here complain that the polls are too close for comfort, forgetting that there is rarely anything comfortable about a presidential contest. When was the last time a non-incumbent Democrat cruised easily to the White House? Clinton, remember, won only a 43 percent plurality of the popular vote in 1992. You have to go all the way back to Franklin Roosevelt in 1932. Why would anyone think for a moment that Obama could win this without a fight?

I’m being somewhat unkind, because the truth is that the Democratic Party has tried mightily this year to fight its depressive tendencies. The party is even playing offense for a change, taking the fight to McCain in states that used to be a forgone conclusion for the Republicans. Here in Colorado, recent polls show Obama with a small but significant lead; in Virginia, which hasn’t gone Democratic since 1964, the race is a dead heat.

As for the Democratic states that McCain is trying to contest, Democrats should take the advice of Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell. Last Saturday, as Joe Biden was being announced as Obama’s running mate, Rendell was asked how to keep his state in the Democratic column. His answer, and I’m paraphrasing here, was to quit whining about it and just go out and win the state. He helped the Clintons pummel Obama in the primary, and he pronounced himself raring to help Obama and Biden do the same to McCain in the general.

Even with the fundamentals teed-up and the stars smiling, winning the White House was never going to be a walk in the park for any Democrat. The party will have had a successful convention if, at the end of the week, Democrats stop all the worrying and declare a moratorium on second-guessing. Go shake some hands and kiss some babies.

Eugene Robinson’s e-mail address is eugenerobinson(at)

© 2008, Washington Post Writers Group

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The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.