Archive for June, 2008

Bush/McCain’s gas price scam is an Enron re-run

June 25, 2008

by Harvey Wasserman

The Bush/McCain gas price escalation is an Enron Re-Run. It is Chapter 2 of the scam Bush crony “Kenny Boy” Lay used in 1999-2001 to steal $100 billion from California ratepayers.

Now this administration is replicating that crisis to funnel untold billions into the coffers of its oil baron backers…and to push the failed strategies of offshore drilling and nuke power.

There is no doubt that we are at the edge of the petro-abyss. Peak oil is upon us, as is the global-warmed finale of Earth’s carrying capacity for burning more fossil fuels. It is the perfect storm that must end the age of fossil/nuke.

But the immediate situation is not so clear. Bush/McCain say soaring prices are due to a lack of supply, and there are those who agree.

The Saudis, and others with more credibility, argue the price rise is contrived by bankers and speculators. Their mega-theft comes not only at the gas pump, but in food prices and other essentials.

Whatever the case, remember that during the Enron con, there was no shortage of electric generating capacity. Enron’s operatives laughed into their PCs as they selectively shut perfectly operable power stations and jacked up electric prices 700% and more. Enron, of course, later went bankrupt, wiping out countless thousands.

Contrived or otherwise, today’s soaring gas prices are a tangible bonanza for Bush/McCain. Off-shore drilling would put billions in their cronies’ pockets, but would not lower gas prices a single cent. Nuke power could mean billions more in radioactive lucre for reactor builders who may never deliver a single electron of electricity.

It’s no accident that what Bush/McCain are NOT advocating is a massive shift to increased efficiency and renewable energy.

Prior to the Enron disaster, green power advocates proposed that some 600 megawatts of renewables and efficiency be installed in California. They said this “floor” was needed to protect the state from precisely the kind of gouging Enron then did.

But Southern California Edison’s John Bryson helped kill the green power proposal. Bryson now likes to be photographed in front of photovoltaic arrays. But he used a deregulation package promising a “free market in energy” to help pay off failed reactors at San Onofre and Diablo Canyon. Then he stepped back while Enron cashed in.

Today, despite years of grassroots advocacy, Bush has done everything in his power to squelch the conversion to a green-powered economy. Even as gas prices soar there is no meaningful commitment to reviving mass transit, increasing fuel efficiency, or promoting renewable energy.

Indeed, Bush/McCain’s two-step obsession with fossil fuels and nuke power is perfectly suited to guarantee that the public’s money does NOT go to renewables and efficiency. Those technologies could actually solve both the climate and the energy supply crisis. But they would strip the fossil/nuke cartels of their death grip on the global economy.

Ironically, soaring fossil fuel prices make building reactors even more expensive. Using high gas prices to push nukes that only produce electricity (and radioactive waste) is a complete disconnect.

Today’s wind and solar technologies are far cheaper than atomic energy, not to mention quicker to build, safer, more reliable and ecologically sound. The one thing certain about reactor construction is that it will stretch out years longer than planned. Capital costs are certain to at least double or triple before the first reactor could ever come on line, taking atomic energy totally out of the price range of renewables.

New drilling is also absurd. The off-shore and other protected areas Bush/McCain would destroy have limited, expensive oil beneath them. The GOP “energy plan” is that of a desperate junkie, tearing apart the planet for a few last grains of white powder to snort up its nose. That there will then be no more does not seem to matter.

The US once had the world’s greatest mass transit system, which was consciously destroyed by the auto and oil industries to sell more cars and gas.

It once had a virtual monopoly on the renewable and efficiency technologies that can solve global warming and give us energy independence, with local communities taking control of their energy supply.

Enron’s hucksters staged that fake electricity crisis to gouge California while pushing back the transition to a green-powered economy.

Now Enron II, the gas price crisis, is about gouging the whole nation. And about yet again postponing a community-owned, green-powered future.

The Solartopian conversion to renewables and efficiency could put the Bush/McCain barons of fossil nuke out of business. The sooner the better.
_______

About authorHarvey Wasserman is co-author, with Bob Fitrakis and Steve Rosenfeld, of WHAT HAPPENED IN OHIO?, just published by the New Press. He is author of SOLARTOPIA! and HARVEY WASSERMAN’S HISTORY OF THE U.S., available at www.harveywasserman.com.

If I don’t pay them more, who will buy my cars?”

June 22, 2008

Reverse Henry-Fordism

by Ernest Partridge

There are no sellers without buyers.

That’s the first law of practical economics. Everyone knows this to be true, whether or not one has ever taken a course in Economics. Everyone except, apparently, a few Ph.D economists who seem to forget this rule when they are hired by the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, etc., from which they migrate, back and forth, between offices in Republican administrations and these right-wing think tanks.

For these worthies, the “first law” is replaced by the dogmas of deregulation, “trickle-down” and market fundamentalism: impoverish the masses, throw money at the rich who will then invest it, and then “the invisible hand” of the unregulated free market will bring forth a cornucopia of goods and services.

Never mind that there will be few if any buyers for these consumer goodies.

Henry Ford saw the fallacy of such a policy when he raised the wages of his workers. His competitors in the auto industry were aghast. “Why did you do that?,” they asked. Ford is said to have replied, “If I don’t pay them more, who will buy my cars?”

It took awhile, but Henry Ford was eventually proved to be right. In 1935, in the depths of the great depression, Congress passed the Wagner Act which greatly enhanced the power of labor unions to bargain collectively on behalf of their members. And after World War II, the G.I. Bill allowed millions of returning war veterans to go to college and then to enter the work force as trained professionals. The ranks of the middle class swelled, and as a result of this gain in disposable income, so did the nation’s economy. In an ongoing and sustainable economic symbiosis, the investments of the capitalists “trickled down” to increase the worker’s productivity, income and purchasing power, which in turn “percolated up” to provide generous returns on these investments. Like the fabled golden goose, this economic arrangement promised a perpetual production of “golden eggs” of shared prosperity.

Then came Reaganomics, which allowed the ruling oligarchs with their insatiable appetites for “more, still more,” to dismantle the unions, to cut back workers’ salaries and benefits, to ship manufacturing and management jobs overseas, to starve the tax base through loopholes, regressive tax rates, and off-shore incorporations, and to strip the government of its Constitutionally stipulated function of regulating commerce. (Article One, Section Eight). As most citizens have consequently drifted toward poverty and serfdom, and the government has been taken “to the bathtub” to be drowned, the upward “percolation” has been drying up. Rather than protect and perpetuate the economic system that produced their wealth, the privileged class is cooking and devouring the golden goose.
Senator Bernie Sanders reports the resulting plight of the American middle class:

The economy is doing great, except for 90% of the people in the economy. The reality is that we have the hollowing out of the American economy. Median family income declined by $2500 in the last seven years. 8 million people lost their health insurance. 3 million people lost their pensions. This is a strong economy? You’ve gotta be insane to believe that.

Meanwhile, the richest one percent of the population possesses more wealth than the bottom ninety percent. (See also G. William Domhoff: “Wealth, Income and Power“).
This is how a once-flourishing economy shrivels up and dies: the few who own and control the nation’s wealth refuse to share that wealth with the many who produce that wealth.

Ahead lies ruin for rich and poor alike.

For those with eyes to see, and a willingness to see, the consequences of this unconstrained and unregulated greed are apparent and irrefutable: a constriction of the economy which, unless met immediately with decisive and painful countermeasures, must lead to economic collapse. We can expect no such countermeasures from the Bush (”the fundamentals are sound”) administration. With the bursting of “the housing bubble,” consumer debt has reached its limit: the national credit card is maxed out. Under Bush, the cost of food has doubled, and of gas has tripled. (Neither food nor fuel are counted in Bush’s phony Consumer Price Index, which consequently understates the gravity of current inflation). As the average family spends more on necessities such as food, medical care, home heating and transportation to and from work, “luxuries” simply must drop out. No more vacations. Fewer trips to the movies and to restaurants. Fewer purchases of new cars (the old one will have to do for a few more years). Businesses fail, workers are fired, stocks plunge, unemployment rises, the dollar falls, the cost of imported goods (which means, due to outsourcing, most consumer goods) rise. Still less disposable income to pay for higher priced goods and services. More businesses fail, more workers are fired, etc. Down, down, down, goes the spiral.

No sellers without buyers.” It’s so obvious, so indisputable, even tautological. How can anyone doubt this fundamental rule of practical economics, much less promote policies that defy it? Answer: because just as history is written by the victors, political/economic dogma is written and taught by those with great wealth and power. And anti-government, trickle-down, market absolutism are the dogmas of those who own and control the nation’s wealth: dogmas that Friedrich Nietzsche called “a master morality,” and that John Kenneth Galbraith characterized as a “moral justification for selfishness.”

History provides numerous examples of such “justifications” by those privileged with wealth and power. Out of the middle ages came the doctrine of “the Divine right” of royalty to rule in luxury. This was supplanted by the Protestant claim that personal wealth was the sign of Divine grace. In the gilded age of the late nineteenth century, the Robber Barons embraced the theory of “social Darwinism;” their wealth proved their superior “fitness” to survive. And now we have the regressive dogmas of Reaganism, of Bushism, and, let’s admit it, to some degree at least, of Clintonism: “trickle down,” unconstrained capitalism, the wealth of the few as the key to the wealth of all others. “The rising tide” that lifts all yachts, the regressives assure us, lifts the dingys as well.

The fundamental error of “trickle down” economics is not that it is false, but that it is a pernicious half-truth. As noted above, in a healthy economy, investments do in fact yield results that “trickle down” to the benefit of the workers and the public at large. But as Abraham Lincoln correctly noted in his first inaugural address, “Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if Labor had not first existed.” Thus “trickled-down” benefits of investment presuppose the “percolated-up” wealth that is produced by labor. An economic theory that touts “trickle-down” benefits of investment to the neglect of the production of labor and the well-being of the workers, is a theory that must fail in its application.

The doctrines of regressive economics – “trickle down,” market absolutism, minimalist government – are dogmas in the literal sense of that word: like creationism and dialectical materialism (Marxism-Leninism), they are believed and promulgated independently of evidence and practical experience. If they are applied and fail, there is always an excuse at hand that does not allow a suspicion that the dogma itself may be flawed. In contrast, progressive economics is empirical, experimental and pragmatic: constant in ends, and adaptable in means. As with numerous schemes in FDR’s New Deal, the progressive policy is tried and, if it fails, it is discarded and a new approach is attempted, and so on until policy is found that “works.” (For an expansion of this point, see my “Beautiful Theory vs. Baffling Reality.”).

The public must reject these false dogmas of regressive economics, and the sooner the better; better for both the public in general and for the oligarchs. The longer that these dogmas dictate public economic policy, the greater will be the fall and the greater will be the retaliation of the people against their oppressors.

No untried utopian schemes need to be invented to replace the current kleptocracy. Only a restoration of a system that has proven itself in the past: a regulated capitalism combined with a social democracy dedicated to the welfare of all citizens and founded on the consent of an informed public as manifested in honest, accurate and verifiable elections. And that latter condition presupposes the existence of a free, independent and diverse media, along with a public education system staffed with well-paid, competent and dedicated teachers.

In short, what is required is a return to the liberalism — “the New Deal,” “The Fair Deal,” “The New Frontier,” “The Great Society” — that Ronald Reagan and the regressives have abolished in the past twenty-seven years. The programs and policies of Reagan’s liberal predecessors were all imperfect, as are all human endeavors, but unlike the regressive politics of today, these earlier administrations had within themselves the means of adaptation, correction and improvement.

We the people know the way out of the political and economic morass in which we find ourselves. But if we are to escape, we must do so ourselves. We can expect no help from the corporate media or from the politicians of both political parties that have led us into the present crisis.

* Note: These ideas are presented and defended at greater length in “Remedial Economics for Regressives;” Chapter 9 of my book in progress, Conscience of a Progressive).

Ernest Partridge is the co-editor of The Crisis Papers. Read other articles by Ernest, or visit Ernest’s website.

belief

June 22, 2008

“Man prefers to believe what he prefers to be true” —Francis Bacon

U.S. Government Stopped Research After Finding That Marijuana Slowed Cancer Growth

June 21, 2008

NORML‘s Paul Armentano has a disturbing account of the history of government research regarding the benefits of THC as a potential cancer treatment:

Not familiar with this scientific research? Your government is.In fact, the first experiment documenting pot’s potent anti-cancer effects
took place in 1974 at the Medical College of Virginia at the behest federal
bureaucrats. The results of that study, reported in an Aug. 18, 1974,
Washington Post newspaper feature, were that marijuana’s primary
psychoactive component, THC, “slowed the growth of lung cancers, breast
cancers and a virus-induced leukemia in laboratory mice, and prolonged their
lives by as much as 36 percent.”

Despite these favorable preliminary findings (eventually published the
following year in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute), U.S.
government officials refused to authorize any follow-up research until
conducting a similar – though secret – clinical trial in the mid-1990s. That
study, conducted by the U.S. National Toxicology Program to the tune of $2
million, concluded that mice and rats administered high doses of THC over
long periods had greater protection against malignant tumors than untreated
controls.

However, rather than publicize their findings, government researchers
shelved the results, which only became public after a draft copy of its
findings were leaked to the medical journal AIDS Treatment News, which in
turn forwarded the story to the national media. [timesheraldonline.com]

They haven’t studied the issue since. And because the U.S. government holds a monopoly on “legal” marijuana that could be used for research purposes, they’ve been able to prevent independent researchers from further investigating marijuana’s promising anti-cancer properties. Armentano notes that research overseas continues to produce very encouraging results.

Unfortunately, our government’s blockade against marijuana/cancer research is so mindless and vindictive that it’s almost impossible to convince anyone that they do things like this. It’s a terrible and frequent conundrum for reformers that if we accurately describe the behavior of our opposition, we end up sounding crazy.
http://stopthedrugwar.com/chronicle_blog/2008/jun/16/u_s_government_stopped_research_

Democrats Have Legalized Bush’s War Crimes

June 21, 2008

Editor’s note: You can read more about Obama backing a FISA “compromise” here.

This is from a letter John Adams wrote to his wife Abagail in 1777; it appears at the end of HBO’s John Adams miniseries:

Posterity! You will never know, how much it cost the present Generation, to preserve your Freedom! I hope you will make a good Use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven, that I ever took half the Pains to preserve it.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi claims that a key positive feature of the new wiretap “compromise” is that the bill reaffirms that the President must follow the law, even though the same bill virtually assures that no one will be held accountable for George W. Bush’s violation of the earlier spying law. Share this article

In other words, in the guise of rejecting Bush’s theories of an all-powerful presidency that is above the law, the Democratic leadership cleared the way for the President and his collaborators to evade punishment for defying the law.

So, why should anyone assume that the new legislative edict demanding that the President obey the law will get any more respect than the old one, which established the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 as the “exclusive” means for authorizing electronic spying?

It wasn’t that Bush and his team didn’t understand the old law’s language; they simply believed they could violate the law without consequence, under the radical theory that at a time of war — even one as vaguely defined as the “war on terror” — the President’s powers trump all laws as well as the constitutional rights of citizens.

Essentially, Bush was betting that even if his warrantless wiretap program was disclosed — as it was in December 2005 — that he could trust his Republican congressional allies to protect him and could count on most Democrats not to have the guts to challenge him.

His bet proved to be a smart one. After the New York Times revealed the warrantless wiretaps two and a half years ago, Congress took no steps to hold Bush accountable. Before the 2006 elections, Pelosi declared that Bush’s impeachment was “off the table.”

Then, on the eve of the August 2007 recess, the Democratic-controlled Congress was stampeded into passing the “Protect America Act,” which effectively legalized what Bush had already done and expanded his spying powers even more.

After that law was passed, U.S. news reports mostly parroted the White House claim that it “modernized” FISA and “narrowly” targeted overseas terror suspects who might call or e-mail their contacts in the United States.

However, it soon became clear that the law applied not just to terror suspects abroad who might communicate with Americans, but to anyone who is “reasonably believed to be outside the United States” and who might possess “foreign intelligence information,” defined as anything that could be useful to U.S. foreign policy.

That meant that almost any American engaged in international commerce or dealing with foreign issues — say, a businessman in touch with a foreign subsidiary or a U.S. reporter sending an overseas story back to his newspaper — was vulnerable to warrantless intercepts approved on the say-so of two Bush subordinates, the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence.

Beyond the breathtaking scope of this new authority, the Bush administration also snuck in a clause that granted forward-looking immunity from lawsuits to communications service providers that assisted the spying.

That removed one of the few safeguards against Bush’s warrantless wiretaps: the concern among service providers that they might be sued by customers for handing over constitutionally protected information without a warrant.

In short, the “Protect America Act” made warrantless surveillance legally cost free for a collaborating service provider, tilting the scales even further in favor of the government’s spying powers.

Catching on

A week after the “Protect America Act” was passed, the New York Times and the Washington Post published front-page stories explaining how the Bush administration had ambushed the Democrats.

Pressed up against the start of the August recess and the prospect of Republican taunts that Democrats were “soft on terror,” the Democratic leaders abandoned earlier compromise proposals and accepted the more expansive law. Their one point of resistance was putting a February 2008 sunset provision into the law.

Still, the Democratic cave-in in August 2007 provoked an uproar among rank-and-file Democrats. Pelosi’s office reported receiving more than 200,000 angry e-mails.

Stung by the reaction, House Democratic leaders balked at White House pressure to make even more concessions, including retroactive immunity for telecommunication companies that had collaborated with Bush’s warrantless wiretaps in the years after the 9/11 attacks.

In February 2008, to the surprise of many observers, the Democratic leadership allowed the “Protect America Act” to lapse. Though Republicans attacked the Democrats as expected, the accusations seemed to have little political resonance.

Nevertheless, the Democratic leadership — behind Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-West Virginia, and Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland — continued working on a compromise.

While the new version drops some of the more intrusive features of the “Protect America Act,” such as allowing warrantless wiretaps of Americans outside the United States, the bill adds retroactive telecom immunity (only requiring the companies show they got a written order from the President).

The bill also would grant the administration emergency power to wiretap a target for up to one week before getting a warrant from the secret FISA court. But the bill bars the government from targeting a foreigner as a “back-door” way to spy on an American without a court warrant.

‘Capitulation’

Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wisconsin, a strong constitutionalist, termed the new bill “not a compromise; it is a capitulation.”

One of the bill’s illusions would seem to be that the precedent of a President ignoring the FISA law and escaping any accountability can somehow be negated by restating what the original, violated law had declared.

In her June 20 floor statement, Pelosi said in her view this was a crucial feature of the bill, the statement that the President cannot ignore the FISA law again. However, Pelosi’s position sounded like the words of an indulgent parent of a spoiled child: “This time I really mean it!”

The more powerful message from the latest Democratic compromise is that a President — at least a Republican one — can break the wiretap law under the cover of national security and expect to ride out the consequences.

Rather than reaffirming the rule of law and the Constitution’s checks and balances, as Pelosi claimed, the new FISA “compromise” may have done the opposite, signaling that the President is above the law.

After Pelosi’s speech, the House passed the bill by a 293-129 margin with 105 Democrats — including most of the leadership — voting in favor and 128 Democrats against. The bill then went to the Senate, which was expected to approve it.

http://www.alternet.org/rights/88950/?page=entire&ses=9ce1ee0f31daac4f520f81ede1dc8ec9

Robert Parry’s new book is Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq.”

Questions for Republicans, Democrats, and Others

June 11, 2008

By David Swanson

http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/node/33999

A question for Republicans: Do you want to hand a President Barack Obama the right and power to spy on any American citizens he chooses, including his political opponents, without any court-ordered warrant, in blatant violation of the law and the Fourth Amendment?

A question for Democrats: Do you want to hand a President John McCain, who has already openly said he will use it, the right and power to spy on any American citizens he chooses, including his political opponents, without any court-ordered warrant, in blatant violation of the law and the Fourth Amendment?

A question for everyone: Do you want to give any president, and the presidents after him, this power and all the other powers that have been seized by President George W. Bush? Do you want to have to bet your safety, security, prosperity, and liberty on the chance that each successive president will turn out to be the sort of person able to exercise remarkable resistance to abusing available powers, even though the American colonists fought a revolution so that you wouldn’t have to?

Exactly what illegal power to spy has Bush seized for himself and all future presidents? The ones laid out in the 24th article of impeachment introduced by Congressman Dennis Kucinich on Monday night:

Article XXIV

SPYING ON AMERICAN CITIZENS, WITHOUT A COURT-ORDERED WARRANT, IN VIOLATION OF THE LAW AND THE FOURTH AMENDMENT

In his conduct while President of the United States, George W. Bush, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed”, has both personally and acting through his agents and subordinates, knowingly violated the fourth Amendment to the Constitution and the Foreign Intelligence Service Act of 1978 (FISA) by authorizing warrantless electronic surveillance of American citizens to wit:

(1) The President was aware of the FISA Law requiring a court order for any wiretap as evidenced by the following:

(A)”Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires — a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we’re talking about chasing down terrorists, we’re talking about getting a court order before we do so.” White House Press conference on April 20, 2004 [White House Transcript]

(B) “Law enforcement officers need a federal judge’s permission to wiretap a foreign terrorist’s phone, or to track his calls, or to search his property. Officers must meet strict standards to use any of the tools we’re talking about.” President Bush’s speech in Baltimore Maryland on July 20th 2005 [White House Transcript]

(2) The President repeatedly ordered the NSA to place wiretaps on American citizens without requesting a warrant from FISA as evidenced by the following:

(A) “Months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials.” New York Times article by James Risen and Eric Lichtblau on December 12, 2005. [NYTimes]

(B) The President admits to authorizing the program by stating “I have reauthorized this program more than 30 times since the September the 11th attacks, and I intend to do so for as long as our nation faces a continuing threat from al Qaeda and related groups. The NSA’s activities under this authorization are thoroughly reviewed by the Justice Department and NSA’s top legal officials, including NSA’s general counsel and inspector general. Leaders in Congress have been briefed more than a dozen times on this authorization and the activities conducted under it.” Radio Address from the White House on December 17, 2005 [White House Transcript]

(C) In a December 19th 2005 press conference the President publicly admitted to using a combination of surveillance techniques including some with permission from the FISA courts and some without permission from FISA.

Reporter: It was, why did you skip the basic safeguards of asking courts for permission for the intercepts?

THE PRESIDENT: … We use FISA still — you’re referring to the FISA court in your question — of course, we use FISAs. But FISA is for long-term monitoring. What is needed in order to protect the American people is the ability to move quickly to detect. Now, having suggested this idea, I then, obviously, went to the question, is it legal to do so? I am — I swore to uphold the laws. Do I have the legal authority to do this? And the answer is, absolutely. As I mentioned in my remarks, the legal authority is derived from the Constitution, as well as the authorization of force by the United States Congress.” [White House Transcript]

(D) Mike McConnel, the Director of National Intelligence, in a letter to to Senator Arlen Specter, acknowledged that Bush’s Executive Order in 2001 authorized a series of secret surveillance activities and included undisclosed activities beyond the warrantless surveillance of e-mails and phone calls that Bush confirmed in December 2005. “NSA Spying Part of Broader Effort” by Dan Eggen, Washington Post, 8/1/07

(3) The President ordered the surveillance to be conducted in a way that would spy upon private communications between American citizens located within the United States borders as evidenced by the following:

(A) Mark Klein, a retired AT&T communications technician, submitted an affidavit in support of the Electronic Fronteir Foundation’s FF’s lawsuit against AT&T. He testified that in 2003 he connected a “splitter” that sent a copy of Internet traffic and phone calls to a secure room that was operated by the NSA in the San Francisco office of AT&T. He heard from a co-worker that similar rooms were being constructed in other cities, including Seattle, San Jose, Los Angeles and San Diego. From “Whistle-Blower Outs NSA Spy Room”, Wired News, 4/7/06 [Wired] [EFF Case]

(4) The President asserted an inherent authority to conduct electronic surveillance based on the Constitution and the “Authorization to use Military Force in Iraq” (AUMF) that was not legally valid as evidenced by the following:

(A) In a December 19th, 2005 Press Briefing General Alberto Gonzales admitted that the surveillance authorized by the President was not only done without FISA warrants, but that the nature of the surveillance was so far removed from what FISA can approve that FISA could not even be amended to allow it. Gonzales stated “We have had discussions with Congress in the past — certain members of Congress — as to whether or not FISA could be amended to allow us to adequately deal with this kind of threat, and we were advised that that would be difficult, if not impossible.”.

(B) The fourth amendment to the United States Constitution states “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

(C) “The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 unambiguously limits warrantless domestic electronic surveillance, even in a congressionally declared war, to the first 15 days of that war; criminalizes any such electronic surveillance not authorized by statute; and expressly establishes FISA and two chapters of the federal criminal code, governing wiretaps for intelligence purposes and for criminal investigation, respectively, as the “exclusive means by which electronic surveillance . . . and the interception of domestic wire, oral, and electronic communications may be conducted.” 50 U.S.C. §§ 1811, 1809, 18 U.S.C. § 2511(2)(f).” Letter from Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Tribe to John Conyers on 1/6/06

(D) In a December 19th, 2005 Press Briefing Attorney General Alberto Gonzales stated “Our position is, is that the authorization to use force, which was passed by the Congress in the days following September 11th, constitutes that other authorization, that other statute by Congress, to engage in this kind of signals intelligence.”

(E) The “Authorization to use Military Force in Iraq” does not give any explicit authorization related to electronic surveillance. [HJRes114]

(F) “From the foregoing analysis, it appears unlikely that a court would hold that Congress has expressly or impliedly authorized the NSA electronic surveillance operations here under discussion, and it would likewise appear that, to the extent that those surveillances fall within the definition of “electronic surveillance” within the meaning of FISA or any activity regulated under Title III, Congress intended to cover the entire field with these statutes.” From the “Presidential Authority to Conduct Warrantless Electronic Surveillance to Gather Foreign Intelligence Information” by the Congressional Research Service on January 5, 2006.

(G) “The inescapable conclusion is that the AUMF did not implicitly authorize what the FISA expressly prohibited. It follows that the presidential program of surveillance at issue here is a violation of the separation of powers — as grave an abuse of executive authority as I can recall ever having studied.” Letter from Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Tribe to John Conyers on 1/6/06

(H) On August 17, 2006 Judge Anna Diggs Taylor of the United States District Court in Detroit, in ACLU v. NSA, ruled that the “NSA program to wiretap the international communications of some Americans without a court warrant violated the Constitution. … Judge Taylor ruled that the program violated both the Fourth Amendment and a 1978 law that requires warrants from a secret court for intelligence wiretaps involving people in the United States. She rejected the administration’s repeated assertions that a 2001 Congressional authorization and the president’s constitutional authority allowed the program.” From a New York Times article “Judge Finds Wiretap Actions Violate the Law” 8/18/06 and the Memorandum Opinion

(I) In July 2007, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the case, ruling the plaintiffs had no standing to sue because, given the secretive nature of the surveillance, they could not state with certainty that they have been wiretapped by the NSA. This ruling did not address the legality of the surveillance so Judge Taylor’s decision is the only ruling on that issue. [ACLU Legal Documents]

In all of these actions and decisions, President George W. Bush has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States. Wherefore, President George W. Bush, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office.

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the old path

June 7, 2008

The Sumerians

Land between two rivers, ever yearning,

Through the land of the living, ever searching.

Like dreams we once walked this land,

House of Gods, twin towers, sacred ground.

To wish for origins to be uncovered,

And our journeys start, to be discovered.

All was known but now is gone,

Our peoples hid, our work undone.

With fear and lies they see what was,

Blind eyes they led us, our path they chose.

A land of dreams is all that’s there,

And between two rivers, all now is bare.

But our legacy now, to be discovered,

And our journeys start, to be uncovered

By Dawnrazor.

The Sumerians…

One of the oldest known civilizations.. and the first to keep historical documents in the form of clay tablets engraved with cuneiform script telling the story of creation and of their culture.

Unfortunately most of the historical records (clay tablets) were too badly damaged over the centuries and some of the scripts lost forever. Where the cuneiform cannot be translated or the most accurate assumption has been made, will see square brackets [ ]

Index

Enuma Elish

The Sumerian book of creation found in seven clay tablets telling the tale of “Genesis”

Gilgamesh

The King of Uruk, a Sumerian city. Read the epic of Gilgamesh

Descent of Ishtar

The descent of Ishtar into the underworld.

Nibiru

The home of the Annunaki

Ki-Amum

A revised view on the facts that history presents to us.

The Sumerian clay tablets

These scripts contain the actual translations of the tablets. Some of the tablets are damaged to the extent where they are unreadable which is very unfortunate. What remains is written here and although is classed as myth by many historians, They are also historical documents of one of the oldest civilizations we know of.

from http://www.theoldpath.com/home.html

More on the real reason behind high oil prices / Part II

June 5, 2008



By F. William Engdahl

http://www.engdahl.oilgeopolitics.net/Financial_Tsunami/Oil_Speculation_II/oil_speculation_ii.html


As detailed in an earlier article, a conservative calculation is that at least 60% of today’s $128 per barrel price of crude oil comes from unregulated futures speculation by hedge funds, banks and financial groups using the London ICE Futures and New York NYMEX futures exchanges and uncontrolled inter-bank or Over-The-Counter trading to avoid scrutiny. US margin rules of the government’s Commodity Futures Trading Commission allow speculators to buy a crude oil futures contract on the Nymex, by having to pay only 6% of the value of the contract. At today’s price of $128 per barrel, that means a futures trader only has to put up about $8 for every barrel. He borrows the other $120. This extreme “leverage” of 16 to 1 helps drive prices to wildly unrealistic levels and offset bank losses in sub-prime and other disasters at the expense of the overall population.

The hoax of Peak Oil—namely the argument that the oil production has hit the point where more than half all reserves have been used and the world is on the downslope of oil at cheap price and abundant quantity—has enabled this costly fraud to continue since the invasion of Iraq in 2003 with the help of key banks, oil traders and big oil majors. Washington is trying to shift blame, as always, to Arab OPEC producers. The problem is not a lack of crude oil supply. In fact the world is in over-supply now. Yet the price climbs relentlessly higher. Why? The answer lies in what are clearly deliberate US government policies that permit the unbridled oil price manipulations.

World Oil Demand Flat, Prices Boom…

The chief market strategist for one of the world’s leading oil industry banks, David Kelly, of J.P. Morgan Funds, recently admitted something telling to the Washington Post, “One of the things I think is very important to realize is that the growth in the world oil consumption is not that strong.” One of the stories used to support the oil futures speculators is the allegation that China’s oil import thirst is exploding out of control, driving shortages in the supply-demand equilibrium. The facts do not support the China demand thesis however.

The US Government’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) in its most recent monthly Short Term Energy Outlook report, concluded that US oil demand is expected to decline by 190,000 b/d in 2008. That is mainly owing to the deepening economic recession. Chinese consumption, the EIA says, far from exploding, is expected to rise this year by only 400,000 barrels a day. That is hardly the “surging oil demand” blamed on China in the media. Last year China imported 3.2 million barrels per day, and its estimated usage was around 7 million b/d total. The US, by contrast, consumes around 20.7 million b/d.

That means the key oil consuming nation, the USA, is experiencing a significant drop in demand. China, which consumes only a third of the oil the US does, will see a minor rise in import demand compared with the total daily world oil output of some 84 million barrels, less than half of a percent of the total demand.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has its 2008 global oil demand growth forecast unchanged at 1.2 mm bpd, as slowing economic growth in the industrialised world is offset by slightly growing consumption in developing nations. OPEC predicts global oil demand in 2008 will average 87 million bpd — largely unchanged from its previous estimate. Demand from China, the Middle East, India, and Latin America — is forecast to be stronger but the EU and North American demand will be lower.

So the world’s largest oil consumer faces a sharp decline in consumption, a decline that will worsen as the housing and related economic effects of the US securitization crisis in finance de-leverages. The price in normal open or transparent markets would presumably be falling not rising. No supply crisis justifies the way the world’s oil is being priced today.

Big new oil fields coming online

Not only is there no supply crisis to justify such a price bubble. There are several giant new oil fields due to begin production over the course of 2008 to further add to supply.

The world’s single largest oil producer, Saudi Arabia is finalizing plans to boost drilling activity by a third and increase investments by 40 %. Saudi Aramco’s plan, which runs from 2009 to 2013, is expected to be approved by the company’s board and the Oil Ministry this month. The Kingdom is in the midst of a $ 50 billion oil production expansion plan to meet growing demand in Asia and other emerging markets. The Kingdom is expected to boost its pumping capacity to a total of 12.5 mm bpd by next year, up about 11 % from current capacity of 11.3 mm bpd.

In April this year Saudi Arabia’s Khursaniyah oilfield began pumping and will soon add another 500,000 bpd to world oil supply of high grade Arabian Light crude. As well, another Saudi expansion project, the Khurais oilfield development, is the largest of Saudi Aramco projects that will boost the production capacity of Saudi oilfields from 11.3 million bpd to 12.5 million bpd by 2009. Khurais is planned to add another 1.2 million bpd of high-quality Arabian light crude to Saudi Arabia’s export capacity.

Brazil’s Petrobras is in the early phase of exploiting what it estimates are newly confirmed oil reserves offshore in its Tupi field that could be as great or greater than the North Sea. Petrobras, says the new ultra-deep Tupi field could hold as much as 8 billion barrels of recoverable light crude. When online in a few years it is expected to put Brazil among the world’s “top 10” oil producers, between those of Nigeria and those of Venezuela.

In the United States, aside from rumors that the big oil companies have been deliberately sitting on vast new reserves in Alaska for fear that the prices of recent years would plunge on over-supply, the US Geological Survey (USGS) recently issued a report that confirmed major new oil reserves in an area called the Bakken, which stretches across North Dakota, Montana and south-eastern Saskatchewan. The USGS estimates up to 3.65 billion barrels of oil in the Bakken.

These are just several confirmations of large new oil reserves to be exploited. Iraq, where the Anglo-American Big Four oil majors are salivating to get their hands on the unexplored fields, is believed to hold oil reserves second only to Saudi Arabia. Much of the world has yet to be explored for oil. At prices above $60 a barrel huge new potentials become economic. The major problem faced by Big Oil is not finding replacement oil but keeping the lid on world oil finds in order to maintain present exorbitant prices. Here they have some help from Wall Street banks and the two major oil trade exchanges—NYMEX and London-Atlanta’s ICE and ICE Futures.

Then why do prices still rise?

There is growing evidence that the recent speculative bubble in oil which has gone asymptotic since January is about to pop.

Late last month in Dallas Texas, according to one participant, the American Association of Petroleum Geologists held its annual conference where all the major oil executives and geologists were present. According to one participant, knowledgeable oil industry CEOs reached the consensus that “oil prices will likely soon drop dramatically and the long-term price increases will be in natural gas.”

Just a few days earlier, Lehman Brothers, a Wall Street investment bank had said that the current oil price bubble was coming to an end. Michael Waldron, the bank’s chief oil strategist, was quoted in Britain’s Daily Telegraph on Apr. 24 saying, “Oil supply is outpacing demand growth. Inventories have been building since the beginning of the year.”

In the US, stockpiles of oil climbed by almost 12 million barrels in April according to the May 7 EIA monthly report on inventory, up by nearly 33 million barrels since January. At the same time, MasterCard’s May 7 US gasoline report showed that gas demand has fallen by 5.8%. And refiners are reducing their refining rates dramatically to adjust to the falling gasoline demand. They are now running at 85% of capacity, down from 89% a year ago, in a season when production is normally 95%. The refiners today are clearly trying to draw down gasoline inventories to bid gasoline prices up. ‘It’s the economy, stupid,’ to paraphrase Bill Clinton’s infamous 1992 election quip to daddy Bush. It’s called economic recession.

The May 8 report from Oil Movements, a British company that tracks oil shipments worldwide, shows that oil in transit on the high seas is also quite strong. Almost every category of shipment is running higher than it was a year ago. The report notes that, “In the West, a big share of any oil stock building done this year has happened offshore, out of sight.” Some industry insiders say the global oil industry from the activities and stocks of the Big Four to the true state of tanker and storage and liftings, is the most secretive industry in the world with the possible exception of the narcotics trade.

Goldman Sachs again in the middle

The oil price today, unlike twenty years ago, is determined behind closed doors in the trading rooms of giant financial institutions like Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank or UBS. The key exchange in the game is the London ICE Futures Exchange (formerly the International Petroleum Exchange). ICE Futures is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Atlanta Georgia International Commodities Exchange. ICE in Atlanta was founded in part by Goldman Sachs which also happens to run the world’s most widely used commodity price index, the GSCI, which is over-weighted to oil prices.

As I noted in my earlier article, (‘Perhaps 60% of today’s oil price is pure speculation’), ICE was focus of a recent congressional investigation. It was named both in the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations’ June 27, 2006, Staff Report and in the House Committee on Energy & Commerce’s hearing in December 2007 which looked into unregulated trading in energy futures. Both studies concluded that energy prices’ climb to $128 and perhaps beyond is driven by billions of dollars’ worth of oil and natural gas futures contracts being placed on the ICE. Through a convenient regulation exception granted by the Bush Administration in January 2006, the ICE Futures trading of US energy futures is not regulated by the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, even though the ICE Futures US oil contracts are traded in ICE affiliates in the USA. And at Enron’s request, the CFTC exempted the Over-the-Counter oil futures trades in 2000.

So it is no surprise to see in a May 6 report from Reuters that Goldman Sachs announces oil could in fact be on the verge of another “super spike,” possibly taking oil as high as $200 a barrel within the next six to 24 months. That headline, “$200 a barrel!” became the major news story on oil for the next two days. How many gullible lemmings followed behind with their money bets?

Arjun Murti, Goldman Sachs’ energy strategist, blamed what he called “blistering” (sic) demand from China and the Middle East, combined with his assertion that the Middle East is nearing its maximum ability to produce more oil. Peak Oil mythology again helps Wall Street. The degree of unfounded hype reminds of the kind of self-serving Wall Street hype in 1999-2000 around dot.com stocks or Enron.

In 2001 just before the dot.com crash in the NASDAQ, some Wall Street firms were pushing sale to the gullible public of stocks that their companies were quietly dumping. Or they were pushing dubious stocks for companies where their affiliated banks had a financial interest. In short as later came out in Congressional investigations, companies with a vested interest in a certain financial outcome used the media to line their pockets and that of their companies, leaving the public investor holding the bag. It would be interesting for Congress to subpoena the records of the futures positions of Goldman Sachs and a handful of other major energy futures players to see if they are invested to gain from a further rise in oil to $200 or not.

Margin rules feed the frenzy

Another added turbo-charger to present speculation in oil prices is the margin rule governing what percent of cash a buyer of a futures contract in oil has to put up to bet on a rising oil price (or falling for that matter). The current NYMEX regulation allows a speculator to put up only 6% of the total value of his oil futures contract. That means a risk-taking hedge fund or bank can buy oil futures with a leverage of 16 to 1.

We are hit with an endless series of plausible arguments for the high price of oil: A “terrorism risk premium;” “blistering” rise in demand of China and India; unrest in the Nigerian oil region; oil pipelines’ blown up in Iraq; possible war with Iran…And above all the hype about Peak Oil. Oil speculator T. Boone Pickens has reportedly raked in a huge profit on oil futures and argues, conveniently that the world is on the cusp of Peak Oil. So does the Houston investment banker and friend of Dick Cheney, Matt Simmons.

As the June 2006 US Senate report, The Role of Market Speculation in Rising Oil and Gas Prices, noted, “There’s a few hedge fund managers out there who are masters at knowing how to exploit the peak oil theories and hot buttons of supply and demand, and by making bold predictions of shocking price advancements to come, they only add more fuel to the bullish fire in a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy.”

Will a Democratic Congress act to change the carefully crafted opaque oil futures markets in an election year and risk bursting the bubble? On May 12 House Energy & Commerce Committee stated it will look at this issue into June. The world will be watching.

Are you a republican or a democrat

June 4, 2008

Tile :Violent Femmes – I’m Nothing
This is lyrics from http://www.lyrics007.com
I-M-N-O-T-H-I-N
I-M-N-O-T-H-I-N
I’m nothing’
I’m nothin’
Are you a republican or a democrat
A liberal fascist full of crap
I’m nothin’
I’m nothin’
Somebody somewhere might be something
But everybody everywhere
Knows that I’m nothin
Politics and dirty tricks
I got no time for stones and sticks
Politics and dirty tricks
I got no time I’m chasing chicks
I’m nothin’
I’m nothin’
Somebody somewhere might be something
But everybody everywhere
Knows that I’m nothing
I’m nothing but I’m not proud
‘Cause being nothing it’s not allowed
Are you a gay or are you straight
Do you believe in love
Or do you believe in hate
I’m nothin’
I’m nothin’
Somebody somewhere said he was something
But to everybody everywhere
I’m saying I’m nothing
I’m nothing. I’m like a cloud
I’m free to be alone in a crowd
What’s your reality. It’s not real to me
What’s your anomaly. It is my destiny
I-M-N-O-T-H-I-N
I-M-N-O-T-H-I-N
I’m nothin’
Nothin’
Nothin’
I’m nothing now and I’ll be nothing when
This nothing world has it’s nothing end