• All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.

  • I.F. Stone

zaterdag 22 september 2012

Syrie 74


Manufacturing Dissent is een documentaire over de psychologische oorlogsvoering door de media en het politieke establishment van het “vrije” Westen en hun bondgenoten, met als doel om de weg vrij te maken voor de politiek van de VS, Europa en Israël. Zij willen de huidige Syrische regering weg hebben, omdat deze een bondgenoot is van zowel Iran als Rusland. De documentaire laat zien hoe de media rechtstreeks hebben bijgedragen aan het bloedvergieten in Syrië.

De documentaire ontmaskert de belangrijkste aantijging van de media en de politici, namelijk dat de regering van Syrië de vreedzame demonstraties met geweld onderdrukte en dat deze regering daarom zijn legitimiteit heeft verloren. Hij laat zien dat er voor deze aantijgingen geen enkel bewijs is en dat ze daarom slechts propaganda zijn, in dienst van de buitenlandse politiek van hun land. Uiteraard gaat het dan om Amerikaanse en Britse omroepen, zoals de BBC en CNN, maar ook om Al Jazeera (Qatar) en Al Arabia (Saoedi Arabië), twee TV-stations die in de Arabische wereld veel worden bekeken en die men daar vertrouwde voor een objectieve berichtgeving.
De mensen die worden geïnterviewd over de werkelijke gang van zaken in Syrië vormen een dwarsdoorsnede van de bevolking. Het zijn o.a. een man wiens broer werd gedood door de gewapende huurlingen, een acteur, een journalist, een inwoner van Homs en de “Syrian Girl” die we reeds kennen van haar gesprekken met Morris. Maar er zijn ook beelden van de vreedzame demonstraties voor de regering van Assad. Ook komen er politici aan het woord, zowel de Westerse die vinden dat Assad weg moet, als Hugo Chavez van Venezuela, die een ander geluid laat horen. De hypocrisie van de Westerse politiek en de Westerse berichtgeving blijkt duidelijk, omdat er ook beelden worden vertoond van de agressie en onderdrukking in Westerse landen.
Deze documentaire werd gemaakt door de journalisten Lizzie Phelan en Mostafa Afzalzadeh.
Met dank aan de Syrian Social Club, die vanuit Londen de regering van Assad probeert te steunen en die deze documentaire gedeeltelijk heeft gefinancierd.
Manufacturing Dissent: The truth about Syria duurt 44 minuten.

CIA Terrorism


Italy: CIA Guilty of Kidnapping

By Barbie Latza Nadeau, Daily Beast
21 September 12

Earlier this week, Italy's highest court upheld the conviction of 23 Americans in absentia for the abduction of an Egyptian cleric.

n a chilly morning in February 2003 as he was walking to his mosque, Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr was whisked off the Via Guerzoni in Milan, tossed into the back of a van and driven to a NATO air base in Aviano, Italy. From there, Abu Omar, as he's commonly known, was flown by Learjet to Germany and then to Cairo where he was allegedly tortured for seven months, according to Amnesty International, which has an open case file on his kidnapping.
Three years ago an Italian court convicted 23 Americans - 22 CIA employees and an Air Force colonel - in absentia for the abduction and gave them prison sentences of five to nine years. Two Italian secret service officials were also convicted for failing to alert the proper authorities that the kidnapping was about to take place (the Italians' convictions were later overturned).
Earlier this week, Italy's highest court upheld the Americans' convictions and ordered a retrial for the Italian agents. They also ordered each of the 23 Americans to pay Abu Omar €1 million and each pay his wife €500,000. Yet because the Italian government has never asked for the Americans to be extradited, it is unlikely that Abu Omar and his wife will ever receive financial compensation from the United States government.
Nevertheless, the decision marked the first time that the U.S.'s controversial program of extraordinary rendition had been successfully challenged in court. The program, which was developed under the leadership of former President George W. Bush after the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Centers, permitted suspected terrorists to be taken to countries where torture was tolerated. The program has since ended.
The prosecutor in charge of the retrial of the Italian agents says he hopes the Italian Ministry of Justice eventually demands that the 23 Americans be extradited. But many of the agents worked under false identities and thus their documents are untraceable. And a request for the Americans to be returned to Italy to serve their sentences would surely cause a tense situation between the two governments.
"The whole trial has focused on lower-level officials and really took away the focus on who should be accountable, the State Department officials and the CIA officials around in 2003," said Sabrina de Sousa, one of the convicted Italian agents, in an interview with the Associated Press.
"The United States has now buried a really bad chapter that has tarnished U.S. history. This is exactly what creates anti-American sentiment around the world."
Back in 2003, Abu Omar - an Egyptian who fled to Italy with his wife - was well known to the Italian secret service: they tapped his phones and followed him, fearing he was recruiting jihadis to go and fight against Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan. On that chilly morning in February, the Italians expected Abu Omar to arrive at morning prayers as he usually did, and when he did not show up, they immediately sent their own agents to search for him. Little did they know he had been abducted by the CIA.
"They threw me on the floor of the car," Abu Omar later told Amnesty International. "My nose and mouth were bleeding. I was injured in my knee and my right hand. They threw me very harshly. Then they covered my face with the hat I was wearing until I was completely hooded and could not see anything."
It only got worse for Abu Omar. In 2004 the Egyptians released him (they couldn't keep him behind bars on American suspicions alone), and afterward he told human-rights workers what had ensued while in Egyptian custody: "I was hung like slaughtered cattle, head down, feet up, hands tied behind my back, feet also tied together, and I was exposed to electric shocks all over my body and especially the head area to weaken the brain and paralyze it and in the nipples and my genitals and my penis and I was beaten in my genitals with a stick and they were squeezed if I refused to answer."
According to Amnesty International, three years after his release, Abu Omar was again summoned by the Egyptian police and told not to talk to media or risk returning to prison.
Documents made public after the ruling earlier this week show that the convicted Americans left a trail of their own as they prepared to capture Abu Omar. Airline tickets and luxury hotel receipts left by 10 of the CIA operatives who were part of the advance rendition operation paint a picture that the life of a spy isn't all work and no play.
The preparations made by the rendition team, which arrived a few weeks before Abu Omar was kidnapped, included a trip to the Italian Riviera to celebrate one agent's 30th birthday and a curious romantic rendezvous in the Swiss Alps where, according to hotel receipts, agents coupled up.
The CIA's Milan chief, Robert Seldon Lady, was even fixing up a luxury villa when the Abu Omar affair forced him to leave the country. The villa was later sold by the Italian state in 2009 to an anonymous buyer. The money from the sale went to Abu Omar and his family in Egypt.

Syrie 73


In samenwerking met NAVO-terroristen gaat de jihad in Syrie gewoon door. Maar de fundamentalistische terroristen mogen niet in Somalie vechten. De commerciële massamedia noemt het expres geen terreurnetwerk, maar een 'jihadnetwerk'. Zo werkt propaganda.

‘Jihadnetwerk’ opgerold in België – ‘strijders naar Somalië en Syrië’

mogadishu
De Somalische hoofdstad Mogadishu is regelmatig het toneel van terreuraanslagen. Foto Reuters / Omar Faruk
BUITENLAND
In Brussel is een netwerk opgerold dat jonge moslims zou rekruteren om als jihadisten naar landen als Somalië en Syrië te reizen. Dat heeft de Belgische krant De Morgen vanochtend gemeld.
Belgische “terrorismespeurders” zijn het netwerk op het spoor gekomen en hebben zeven arrestaties laten verrichten in Brussel en Parijs. De terreurverdachten verschijnen maandag voor de raadkamer.
De rechercheurs vingen twee jaar geleden voor het eerst geruchten op over het bestaan van een jihadnetwerk in Brussel. Tot die tijd werden rekruten vooral naar Afghanistan en Irak gestuurd, daarna werd vooral Somalië een populaire bestemming voor de jonge jihadisten. Eerder dit jaar zou een groep strijders naar het Afrikaanse land zijn afgereisd.
Afgelopen woensdag werden twee terreurverdachten gearresteerd in Brussel tijdens een reeks huiszoekingen. Twee andere mannen werden aan de grensovergang tussen Bulgarije en Turkije aangehouden. Een van de mannen, een Algerijn, had in België de status van politieke vluchteling gekregen.
LEES MEER OVER:
 
BELGIË
JIHADISTEN
SOMALIE
SYRIË
http://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2012/09/22/jihadnetwerk-opgerold-in-belgie-strijders-naar-somalie-en-syrie/

vrijdag 21 september 2012

Koch Brothers

Creating Media That Makes An Impact
KochDVDemail.png

'Dear stan, 
More than two years ago we read Jane Mayer's article in the New Yorker about two billionaire brothers who were using their money to change the course of our country. With the help of thousands of supporters like you we started production on a series of short videos that eventually became the full length documentary Koch Brothers Exposed.
Please get a copy of the film now for yourself or for a friend.

We have helped start a drumroll to get money out of politics. We have pulled back the veil so that people understand how a few billionaires like the Kochs can effect everything in your life from where your children go to school to your right to vote. 
We have put together a 2012 Impact Report that details the accomplishments of our investigative campaign and full length film Koch Brothers Exposed. Take a moment to look at what we have already accomplished with your support. Our work is not done though, so please be sure to download the Action Guide for ways to make a greater impact.
Most of us realize what that the Koch brothers are capable of but this film will scare you to see the full extent of their influence. If you have not seen the film please be sure to get your copy today. If you have already supported the film please send a copy to a friend. We need your help to make sure everyone sees the film before it's too late.  
Thank you for making a difference. 
Best,
Robert Greenwald'

De Nonsens van het Montessori Lyceum Amsterdam 3

Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi is hoogleraar psychologie aan de Universiteit van Haifa, doceerde in de VS, Engeland en Frankrijk, is auteur van talloze boeken waaronder Original Sins. Reflections on the History of Zionism and Israël. Ik interviewde hem begin maart 2008 en het interview staat afgedrukt in mijn boek De oneindige oorlog. Hij stelt ondermeer het volgende:

In ruil voor de onbeperkte politieke steun aan Israël hebben de Amerikaanse joden gekregen waaraan het ze het meest ontbreekt: een ideologische inhoud om de leegte van hun identiteit te vullen.’


Het is een perfecte typering van mensen als Yoram Stein, de pro-Israel lobbyist en leraar filosofie aan het Monterssori Lyceum Amsterdam, die geen kans voorbij laat gaan om zijn afkeer van islamieten, Arabieren voorop, te laten blijken, zo in de trant van 'moslims [zitten] achter het merendeel van de wereldwijde terreuraanslagen.'


Stein laat ook geen gelegenheid liggen om zich te presenteren als pleitbezorger van de zionistische zaak. Hij profileert zichzelf als 'jood,' die ' uit een gezin' komt 'waar altijd veel gesproken werd. Mijn ouders behoorden min of meer tot de intellectuele elite. Van huis uit heb ik een behoorlijke bagage meegekregen. 

Dat is een heel verschil met Achmed die op een vmbo in Amsterdam-West op school zit. Hij komt er waarschijnlijk nooit meer uit. En ik wel.’


Maar wat maakt Yoram Stein nu tot 'jood'? Zijn besnijdenis? Kippensoep wanneer hij de griep heeft? Gefillte Fisch? Joodse feestdagen? Ik bedoel, het drinken van wijn en het vieren van Kerstmis maakt iemand niet tot christen. Stein doet me sterk denken aan de typering van Beit-Hallahmi,  die stelt dat Israel 'de leegte van hun identiteit' vult. Want zoals zovele miljoenen anderen in de gefragmenteerde westerse wereld is Yoram Stein vooral naar 1 ding op zoek: een identiteit. Hij wil ergens bijhoren in een van zichzelf vervreemde wereld. De vraag is alleen of het Montessori Lyceum Amsterdam
 hem de ruimte moet bieden om zijn vaak extreme opvattingen op school te ventileren. We leven immers in een multiculturele samenleving en willen toch geen gesegregeerde maatschappij, waarin islamieten dezelfde rol moeten spelen als de joden vroeger, die van zondebok.


Koninklijk Huis

'Rapport kosten Koninklijk Huis blijft geheim
Bewerkt door: redactie − 21/09/12, 09:30  − bron: ANP
© EPA. Koningin Beatrix in de GOuden Koets tijdens Prinsjesdag, dinsdag.
De jaarlijkse rapportage van externe accountants over de kosten van het Koninklijk Huis zal niet naar buiten worden gebracht. De Rijksvoorlichtingsdienst bevestigde vrijdagochtend berichtgevinghierover van RTL Nieuws.
RTL Nieuws had het stuk over de zogeheten functionele uitgaven opgevraagd op grond van de Wet openbaarheid van bestuur (Wob), maar kreeg dit niet. Volgens het ministerie van Algemene Zaken komt de privacy van de koningin, prinsen en prinsessen in het gedrang door het stuk te publiceren. Een woordvoerder benadrukt dat andere opgevraagde stukken wel zijn verstrekt.

In het accountantsrapport staat of de declaraties van het Koninklijk Huis via de regels verlopen. In het verleden was er onder meer ophef over de vliegkosten die de koningin, prinsen en prinsessen vergoed krijgen.

We zijn weer bij af. De regenten zijn weer helemaal terug. Democratie? Openheid? Kennelijk is in ons soort democratie de privacy van het staatshoofd belangrijker dan het belang van de belastingbetaler met wiens geld de vorstin betaald wordt.

Artsen Zonder Grenzen

Omdat ik in het verleden Artsen Zonder Grenzen financieel steunde werd ik vanochtend gebeld door een jongedame die namens deze organisatie vroeg of ik geld wilde storten voor Syrie. Syrie? Maar helpen jullie daar ook de terroristen mee die namens het Westen daar het vuurtje oppoken door aanslagen en moordpartijen? Antwoord: 'Ja, die helpen wij ook als ze gewond zijn, want we kunnen geen onderscheid maken tussen goed en kwaad.' Maar als die terroristen weer genezen zijn gaan ze verder met hun terreur, dankzij Artsen Zonder Grenzen, waardoor het leed alleen maar nog groter wordt en langer duurt. Heeft dat zin? 'Tja, maar wij maken geen onderscheid.' Dat is juist het probleem. Waar staat Artsen Zonder Grenzen voor? Ik kreeg als antwoord: 'slachtoffers helpen.' Zijn terroristen die door de NATO, onder leiding van de VS, worden gefinancierd nu ineens 'slachtoffers'? Ik kreeg geen antwoord.

Smedley Butler, oud-bevelhebber van het Amerikaanse Korps Mariniers, een van de meest gedecoreerde mariniers in de Amerikaanse geschiedenis, verklaarde in 1933 na ruim 33 jaar actieve dienst het volgende:

'Oorlog is misdaad. Hij wordt gevoerd ten voordele van de zeer weinigen ten koste van de massa. Ik ben heel lang een eersteklas uitsmijter geweest voor het bedrijfsleven. Voor Wall Street en voor de banken. Ik was in feite een misdadiger, een gangster voor het kapitalisme. Ik heb in 1914 Mexico veilig gemaakt voor de Amerikaanse oliebelangen. Ik hielp bij het verkrachten van een half dozijn Midden Amerikaanse republieken voor het profijt van Wall Street. In China heb ik ervoor gezorgd dat Standaard Oil ongestoord zijn weg kon gaan. Al Capone is niet verder gekomen dan drie wijken. Mijn werkterrein omvatte drie continenten.'

Smedley Butler on Interventionism
-- Excerpt from a speech delivered in 1933, by Major General Smedley Butler, USMC.

'War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses.
I believe in adequate defense at the coastline and nothing else. If a nation comes over here to fight, then we'll fight. The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns 6 percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag.
I wouldn't go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.
There isn't a trick in the racketeering bag that the military gang is blind to. It has its "finger men" to point out enemies, its "muscle men" to destroy enemies, its "brain men" to plan war preparations, and a "Big Boss" Super-Nationalistic-Capitalism.
It may seem odd for me, a military man to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to. I spent thirty- three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country's most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle- man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.
I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.
I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912 (where have I heard that name before?). I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.
During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.'

Radiostilte


'Totale radiostilte afgekondigd bij start formatiepoging VVD en PvdA'

We zijn weer bij af. De regenten zijn weer helemaal terug. Democratie? Openheid?


The Empire 827

Op de voorpagina van de Herald Tribune van vandaag:

'A turning point in U.S.-China relations' met het bericht dat Obama 'would move warships to the seas off China' en daaronder het bericht: 'Life expectancy drops for least educated whites in U.S.' sinds Bill Clinton als president aantrad.

De twee feiten hebben direct met elkaar te maken. Door het financieren van het Amerikaanse militair industrieel complex is er minder geld voor volksgezondheid en onderwijs, volkshuisvesting etc. Oorlog is duur.

NATO's Military Industrial Complex 14



Hallucinant

by willyvandamme
De berichtgeving over de oorlog in Afghanistan blijft hallucinant. Rebellen vallen er de hoofdkwartieren van de NAVO en de VS aan, vernielen pakken vliegtuigen, vermoorden topfiguren van de lokale collaboratieregering en doden soldaten van de westerse bezettingsmacht als ware het vliegen die men doodmept. Waarbij het door de VS op poten gezette leger voor de bezetters totaal onbetrouwbaar blijkt.
Maar geen zorg, toch als we de Amerikaanse legerleiding en de kranten moeten geloven. Zo wist De Standaard ons vandaag kritiekloos te melden:
De extra troepen (diegene die de Amerikaanse president Barack Obama na zijn ambtsaanvaarding stuurde, nvdr.) werden destijds in Afghanistan gestationeerd om het toenemende geweld van de Taliban een halt toe te roepen. Panetta zei dat de doelstellingen van destijds zijn bereikt - de Taliban hun momentum ontnemen en het Afghaanse leger trainen en rekruten opleiden zodat de Afghanen zelf voor hun veiligheid kunnen zorgen.
Het officiële plan van de NAVO is tegen 2014 al de troepen terug te trekken. Onduidelijk is daarbij of er nog Amerikaanse of Britse troepen gaan overblijven. Zo stelt men soms dat er speciale troepeneenheden zouden achterblijven om het leger te trainen en om achter wat dan heet de resten van Al Qaeda uit te schakelen.
Ook voert de VS op dit ogenblik geheime besprekingen in o.m. Qatar met de Taliban over de toekomst van het land. Want dat die terugkomen daar twijfelen alleen zo te zien bepaalde westerse media nog.
De VS is daarbij bereid hen te aanvaarden op voorwaarde dat er een Amerikaanse militaire basis mag blijven en ze optreden tegen Al Qaeda. Lees: zich inschakelen in de westerse alliantie. En om de buitenwereld wat te sussen zouden ze dan ook meisjesonderwijs moeten tolereren. Een inhoudsloze schoonheidsoperatie dus zoals men nu in Myanmar (Birma) toepast.
Maar de Taliban wijzen dat af. Ze rieken de overwinning en de buit en hebben bovendien ook af te rekenen met allerlei concurrenten die, moesten ze bvb een Amerikaanse basis aanvaarden, aan populariteit zouden kunnen winnen en hen genadeloos aanvallen. En dus is er voor hen geen reden om zo’n toegevingen te doen. Zo zot zijn ze nu ook wel niet.
Die Amerikaanse basis past trouwens in de plannen voor het verder omsingelen van China en Rusland en zal door die landen dan ook niet aanvaard worden. De buurlanden van Afghanistan, en daar horen ook Indië, Pakistan en Iran bij, zullen privé bij de Taliban dan ook aandringen dit niet te aanvaarden. 
En de lokale Quislings zoals de familie van president Hamid Karzai heeft ondertussen al de buit op het droge, o.m. in Dubai. Zo werd de Bank of Kabul via nepleningen vorig jaar leeggehaald door die heren die er namens de VS mogen ‘regeren’. Ze weten immers wat er gaat komen.
President Karzai is trouwens na 2014 officieel geen presidentskandidaat meer. Hij kan dan gaan rentenieren zoals voorheen de Cambodjaan Lon Nol en de Vietnamees Nguyen Van Thieu deden. Ze kunnen er tevreden de vele van de Amerikaanse belastingbetaler geroofde dollars tellen. Want daarover alleen gaat een oorlog: centen tellen. De rest is gazettenpraat.
Maar ondertussen poogt men vanuit de Navo en de media de moraal voorlopig en met de moed der wanhoop nog hoog te houden en te doen alsof de overwinning juist achter het hoekje ligt. Zelfs de pers uit Nazi-Duitsland zou met de slag om Stalingrad zo erg niet hebben durven liegen.
Willy Van Damme
willyvandamme | 21 september 2012 op11:35 | Categorieën:Buitenland - Azië | URL:http://wp.me/pgSxv-1Hc

Perceptie is de Werkelijkheid

De extreem rechtse Amerikaanse presentator Bill O'Reilly vatte de moderne tijd als volgt samen:

'U weet dat in showbusiness, politiek en al het andere perceptie de werkelijkheid is.'

Een betere beschrijving van de commerciele massamedia is nauwelijks denkbaar. De wijze waarop de werkelijkheid wordt gepresenteerd is belangrijker geworden dan de werkelijkheid zelf. Feiten spelen geen rol van belang meer, alleen de wijze waarop die worden gepresenteerd en daarmee waargenomen zijn doorslaggevend. Kijk om u heen en zie hoe u in een virtuele werkelijkheid bent beland. In de communicatiekringen heet propaganda: perceptie management.

donderdag 20 september 2012

The Empire 826


NIAC
September 20, 2012
In This Edition:

Stop Last Minute Senate Vote to Adopt Netanyahu's War Red Line
By: NIAC Action Alert
NetanyahuThe Senate is poised to commit the U.S. to a red line for war demanded by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposed by the Obama Administration.  The resolution by Senators Lindsay Graham (R-SC), Joe Lieberman (I-CT), and Bob Casey (D-PA) expresses support for Netanyahu’s red line for military action against Iran and may come up for a vote TODAY.
 
Please call your Senators to tell them you oppose the Iran red line resolution.  Call 1-855-68 NO WAR to be directed to your Senators offices and tell them to oppose S.J. Res 41.

The Truth. The Whole Truth. And, Nothing but the Truth.
By: Nobar Elmi - Opinion
TruthAs the Director of Community Outreach & Programming at the largest Iranian-American grassroots organization, I have the pleasure of regularly meeting and speaking with Iranian Americans from across the country. These conversations leave me proud of our culture and appreciative of our diversity. However, these interactions have also shed some light on one issue I find particularly painful, which is the fact that our community often falls prey to the rumor mill and conspiracy theories.

Read More>>  

NIAC Launches Iran Fact Check
By: NIAC Action Alert
Iran Fact CheckYesterday NIAC and Just Foreign Policy launched IranFact.org, a project to challenge the war spin, highlight the facts, and mobilize the grassroots to prevent the media unaccountability that we saw in the lead up to Iraq.  IranFact's first action item comes on the 10 year anniversary of Dick Cheney's infamous performance on Meet The Press where he was given a free pass to hype the imminent threat of Iraqi WMD.

Join us to call on Meet the Press to correct Benjamin Netanyahu's very similar appearance last Sunday, where he offered several serious distortions about Iran's "race" to nuclear weapons and was not challenged. 

Take Action: Tell Meet the Press: No Free Pass for Netanyahu to Sell War>>
Iran Fact & the Huffington Post: Meet the Press Gives Natanyahu Cheney's Bully Pulpit for War>>


You're Invited: Reception and Fundraiser Gala in Washington, DC
By: NIAC Announcement 
Leadership Conference receptionUnable to participate in NIAC's Leadership Conference, but still want to mix and mingle with your fellow Iranian-Americans, hear from amazing speakers and enjoy some delicious food and libations?  Consider joining us for our night time events!

Listen: Iranican Promotes Unity through Dialogue and Tolerance
By: "Let's Talk Iran" Podcast 
Iranican PodcastWe had the wonderful opportunity to interview the co-hosts of Iranican Live, which is found onIranican.com and RadioJavan.com.Iranican.com is a non-profit, volunteer-based organization based in the Silicon Valley whose mission is to explore issues affecting “Generation Iranian-American”.



NIAC in the News
Al Jazeera Stream Trita Parsi 9.19Al Jazeera: Do Israelis 'heart' attacking Iran?, featuring NIAC's President Trita Parsi
  
BloombergBloomberg: Iranians Denied U.S. Visas Hit By Political Crossfire, featuring NIAC's Research Director Reza Marashi & NIAC's Policy Director Jamal Abdi
 
National Iranian American Council | 1411 K Street NW, Suite 250 | Washington, DC 20005

The Rule Of Money


'Tomgram: Lewis Lapham, The Rule of Money

Here’s what the latest census data tell us: in 2011, the middle class shrank to “an all-time low” (as the Washington Post headline had it), while the income of the wealthiest Americans continued to climb.  The poverty rate leveled off at a still shuddering 15%, with more than one of every five Americans under eighteen living in poverty.  The Gini Index, a measure of income inequality, rose by 1.6%, the “biggest one-year increase in almost two decades.”
In a way, of course, this should be no news at all.  Middle-class wealth has taken a staggering hit since the economic meltdown of 2007 (and African American and Hispanic wealth has gone through the floor). This disaster, linked to the Great Recession, has had a sideline effect.  On the theory that what goes up must come down, money flooding out of American households and into the coffers of the incredibly wealthy and their corporate cronies has also been flowing back down in tidal amounts.  It’s been pouring biblically into this season’s political campaign.
The news out of the dog days of August, for example, was that the Obama and Romney campaigns had raised a total of more than $225 million dollars that month alone.  (In the 1984 presidential campaign between Ronald Reagan and Walter Mondale, the two candidates raised a “mere” $202 million during that whole election season!)  And, of course, those figures don’t even include the dollars filling Super PACs to the bursting point and the “dark money” going into the 501(c)(4)s that don’t have to disclose where their contributions even come from.  (Eight of the top 10 Super PACs are “conservative,” reports the Daily Beast, and 77% of all contributions this campaign season will come from “business interests,” according to the invaluable Open Secrets website.)
We now know as well that the 2012 presidential campaign is going to cost in the somewhere-over-the-rainbow range of $2.5 billion, and the total election season a record near-$6 billion, with startling amounts of that money going into attack ads. (You can practically hear TV and radio station owners popping the champagne corks.)  This time around, the Obama campaign isrelying heavily not on its famed base of small donors but on the staggeringly wealthy; and Mitt Romney is betting on the money pouring into his campaign war chest from the financial sectorand oil and gas types (who are also running a gusher of anti-Obama TV ads).  Both candidates are spending unheard of amounts of time not on the campaign trail but raising money from the obscenely wealthy.
In other words, the 1% (or less) are using money vacuumed out of our world to invest in “democratic” politics -- and as with any other investment, they naturally expect a return, whichever party ends up in the White House. Isn’t it time, under the circumstances, to bring back a few of those choice words like “plutocrat” and “monied interests” from the late nineteenth century, that previous moment when a Gilded Age fused with a round of recessions and depressions?  Or as Lewis Lapham suggests today, how about “oligarchy” as the new form of American democracy?  The famed former editor of Harper’s Magazine now editsLapham’s Quarterly, which, four times a year, brilliantly unites some of the most provocative and original voices in history around a single topic. (You can subscribe to it by clicking here.) TomDispatch thanks the editors of that journal for allowing us to offer an exclusive online look at his fierce take on American electoral politics in 2012, the introduction to the magazine’s fall issue. Tom

Feast of Fools 
How American Democracy Became the Property of a Commercial Oligarchy 
[A longer version of this essay appears in "Politics," the Fall 2012 issue ofLapham's Quarterlythis slightly shortened version is posted at TomDispatch.com with the kind permission of that magazine.]
All power corrupts but some must govern. -- John le Carré
The ritual performance of the legend of democracy in the autumn of 2012 promises the conspicuous consumption of $5.8 billion, enough money, thank God, to prove that our flag is still there. Forbidden the use of words apt to depress a Q Score or disturb a Gallup poll, the candidates stand as product placements meant to be seen instead of heard, their quality to be inferred from the cost of their manufacture. The sponsors of the event, generous to a fault but careful to remain anonymous, dress it up with the bursting in air of star-spangled photo ops, abundant assortments of multiflavored sound bites, and the candidates so well-contrived that they can be played for jokes, presented as game-show contestants, or posed as noble knights-at-arms setting forth on vision quests, enduring the trials by klieg light, until on election night they come to judgment before the throne of cameras by whom and for whom they were produced.

Best of all, at least from the point of view of the commercial oligarchy paying for both the politicians and the press coverage, the issue is never about the why of who owes what to whom, only about the how much and when, or if, the check is in the mail. No loose talk about what is meant by the word democracyor in what ways it refers to the cherished hope of liberty embodied in the history of a courageous people.
The campaigns don’t favor the voters with the gratitude and respect owed to their standing as valuable citizens participant in the making of such a thing as a common good. They stay on message with their parsing of democracy as the ancient Greek name for the American Express card, picturing the great, good American place as a Florida resort hotel wherein all present receive the privileges and comforts owed to their status as valued customers, invited to convert the practice of citizenship into the art of shopping, to select wisely from the campaign advertisements, texting A for Yes, B for No.
The sales pitch bends down to the electorate as if to a crowd of restless children, deems the body politic incapable of generous impulse, selfless motive, or creative thought, delivers the insult with a headwaiter’s condescending smile. How then expect the people to trust a government that invests no trust in them? Why the surprise that over the last 30 years the voting public has been giving ever-louder voice to its contempt for any and all politicians, no matter what their color, creed, prior arrest record, or sexual affiliation? The congressional disapproval rating (78% earlier this year) correlates with the estimates of low attendance among young voters (down 20% from 2008) at the November polls.
Democracy as an ATM
If democracy means anything at all (if it isn’t what the late Gore Vidal called “the national nonsense-word”), it is the holding of one’s fellow citizens in thoughtful regard, not because they are beautiful or rich or famous, but because they are one’s fellow citizens. Republican democracy is a shared work of the imagination among people of myriad talents, interests, voices, and generations that proceeds on the premise that the labor never ends, entails a ceaseless making and remaking of its laws and customs, i.e., a sentient organism as opposed to an ATM, the government an us, not a them.
Contrary to the contemporary view of politics as a rat’s nest of paltry swindling, Niccolò Machiavelli, the fifteenth-century courtier and political theorist, rates it as the most worthy of human endeavors when supported by a citizenry possessed of the will to act rather than the wish to be cared for. Without the “affection of peoples for self-government…cities have never increased either in dominion or wealth.”
Thomas Paine in the opening chapter of Common Sense finds “the strength of government and the happiness of the governed” in the freedom of the common people to “mutually and naturally support each other.” He envisions a bringing together of representatives from every quarter of society -- carpenters and shipwrights as well as lawyers and saloonkeepers -- and his thinking about the mongrel splendors of democracy echoes that of Plato in The Republic: “Like a coat embroidered with every kind of ornament, this city, embroidered with every kind of character, would seem to be the most beautiful.”
Published in January 1776, Paine’s pamphlet ran through printings of 500,000 copies in a few months and served as the founding document of the American Revolution, its line of reasoning implicit in Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence. The wealthy and well-educated gentlemen who gathered 11 years later in Philadelphia to frame the Constitution shared Paine’s distrust of monarchy but not his faith in the abilities of the common people, whom they were inclined to look upon as the clear and present danger seen by the delegate Gouverneur Morris as an ignorant rabble and a “riotous mob.”
From Aristotle the founders borrowed the theorem that all government, no matter what its name or form, incorporates the means by which the privileged few arrange the distribution of law and property for the less-fortunate many. Recognizing in themselves the sort of people to whom James Madison assigned “the most wisdom to discern, and the most virtue to pursue, the common good of the society,” they undertook to draft a constitution that employed an aristocratic means to achieve a democratic end.
Accepting of the fact that whereas a democratic society puts a premium on equality, a capitalist economy does not, the contrivance was designed to nurture both the private and the public good, accommodate the motions of the heart as well as the movement of the market, the institutions of government meant to support the liberties of the people, not the ambitions of the state. By combining the elements of an organism with those of a mechanism, the Constitution offered as warranty for the meeting of its objectives the character of the men charged with its conduct and deportment, i.e., the enlightened tinkering of what both Jefferson and Hamilton conceived as a class of patrician landlords presumably relieved of the necessity to cheat and steal and lie.
Good intentions, like mother’s milk, are a perishable commodity. As wealth accumulates, men decay, and sooner or later an aristocracy that once might have aspired to an ideal of wisdom and virtue goes rancid in the sun, becomes an oligarchy distinguished by a character that Aristotle likened to that of “the prosperous fool” -- its members so besotted by their faith in money that “they therefore imagine there is nothing that it cannot buy.”
Postponing the Feast of Fools
The making of America’s politics over the last 236 years can be said to consist of the attempt to ward off, or at least postpone, the feast of fools. Some historians note that what the framers of the Constitution hoped to establish in 1787 (“a republic,” according to Benjamin Franklin, “if you can keep it”) didn’t survive the War of 1812.  Others suggest that the republic was gutted by the spoils system introduced by Andrew Jackson in the 1830s.  None of the informed sources doubt that it perished during the prolonged heyday of the late-nineteenth-century Gilded Age.
Mark Twain coined the phrase to represent his further observation that a society consisting of the sum of its vanity and greed is not a society at all but a state of war. In the event that anybody missed Twain’s meaning, President Grover Cleveland in 1887 set forth the rules of engagement while explaining his veto of a bill offering financial aid to the poor: “The lesson should be constantly enforced that, though the people support the government, the government should not support the people.”
Twenty years later, Arthur T. Hadley, the president of Yale, provided an academic gloss: “The fundamental division of powers in the Constitution of the United States is between voters on the one hand and property owners on the other. The forces of democracy on the one side... and the forces of property on the other side.” 
In the years between the Civil War and the Great Depression, the forces of democracy pushed forward civil-service reform in the 1880s, the populist rising in the 1890s, the progressive movement in the 1910s, President Teddy Roosevelt’s preservation of the nation’s wilderness and his harassment of the Wall Street trusts -- but it was the stock-market collapse in 1929 that equipped the strength of the country’s democratic convictions with the power of the law. What Paine had meant by the community of common interest found voice and form in Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, in the fighting of World War II by a citizen army willing and able to perform what Machiavelli would have recognized as acts of public conscience.
During the middle years of the twentieth century, America at times showed itself deserving of what Albert Camus named as a place “where the single word liberty makes hearts beat faster,” the emotion present and accounted for in the passage of the Social Security Act, in the mounting of the anti-Vietnam War and civil rights movements, in the promise of LBJ’s Great Society. But that was long ago and in another country, and instead of making hearts beat faster, the word liberty in America’s currently reactionary scheme of things slows the pulse and chills the blood.
Ronald Reagan’s new Morning in America brought with it in the early 1980s the second coming of a gilded age more swinish than the first, and as the country continues to divide ever more obviously into a nation of the rich and a nation of the poor, the fictions of unity and democratic intent lose their capacity to command belief. If by the time Bill Clinton had settled comfortably into the White House it was no longer possible to pretend that everybody was as equal as everybody else, it was clear that all things bright and beautiful were to be associated with the word private, terminal squalor and toxic waste with the word public.
The shaping of the will of Congress and the choosing of the American president has become a privilege reserved to the country’s equestrian classes, a.k.a. the 20% of the population that holds 93% of the wealth, the happy few who run the corporations and the banks, own and operate the news and entertainment media, compose the laws and govern the universities, control the philanthropic foundations, the policy institutes, the casinos, and the sports arenas. Their anxious and spendthrift company bears the mark of oligarchy ridden with the disease diagnosed by the ancient Greeks as pleonexia, the appetite for more of everything -- more McMansions, more defense contracts, more beachfront, more tax subsidy, more prosperous fools. Aristotle mentions a faction of especially reactionary oligarchs in ancient Athens who took a vow of selfishness not unlike the anti-tax pledge administered by Grover Norquist to Republican stalwarts in modern Washington: “I will be an enemy to the people and will devise all the harm against them which I can.”
A Government That Sets Itself Above the Law
The hostile intent has been conscientiously sustained over the last 30 years, no matter which party is in control of Congress or the White House, and no matter what the issue immediately at hand -- the environment or the debt, defense spending or campaign-finance reform. The concentrations of wealth and power express their fear and suspicion of the American people with a concerted effort to restrict their liberties, letting fall into disrepair nearly all of the infrastructure -- roads, water systems, schools, power plants, bridges, hospitals -- that provides the country with the foundation of its common enterprise.
The domestic legislative measures accord with the formulation of a national-security state backed by the guarantee of never-ending foreign war that arms the government with police powers more repressive than those available to the agents of the eighteenth-century British crown. The Justice Department reserves the right to tap anybody’s phone, open anybody’s mail, decide who is, and who is not, an un-American. The various government security agencies now publish 50,000 intelligence reports a year, monitoring the world’s Web traffic and sifting the footage from surveillance cameras as numerous as the stars in the Milky Way. President Barack Obama elaborates President George W. Bush’s notions of preemptive strike by claiming the further privilege to order the killing of any American citizen overseas who is believed to be a terrorist or a friend of terrorists, to act the part of jury, judge, and executioner whenever and however it suits his exalted fancy.
Troubled op-ed columnists sometimes refer to the embarrassing paradox implicit in the waging of secret and undeclared war under the banners of a free, open, and democratic society. They don’t proceed to the further observation that the nation’s foreign policy is cut from the same criminal cloth as its domestic economic policy. The invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the predatory business dealing that engendered the Wall Street collapse in 2008 both enjoyed the full faith and backing of a government that sets itself above the law.
The upper servants of the oligarchy, among them most of the members of Congress and the majority of the news media’s talking heads, receive their economic freedoms by way of compensation for the loss of their political liberties. The right to freely purchase in exchange for the right to freely speak. If they wish to hold a public office or command attention as upholders of the truth, they can’t afford to fool around with any new, possibly subversive ideas.
Paine had in mind a representative assembly that asked as many questions as possible from as many different sorts of people as possible. The ensuing debate was expected to be loud, forthright, and informative. James Fenimore Cooper seconded the motion in 1838, arguing that the strength of the American democracy rests on the capacity of its citizens to speak and think without cant. “By candor we are not to understand trifling and uncalled-for expositions of truth… but a sentiment that proves the conviction of the necessity of speaking truth, when speaking at all; a contempt for all designing evasions of our real opinions. In all the general concerns, the public has a right to be treated with candor. Without this manly and truly republican quality... the institutions are converted into a stupendous fraud.”
Oligarchy prefers trifling evasions to real opinions. The preference accounts for the current absence of honest or intelligible debate on Capitol Hill. The members of Congress embody the characteristics of only one turn of mind -- that of the obliging publicist. They leave it to staff assistants to write the legislation and the speeches, spend 50% of their time soliciting campaign funds. When standing in a hotel ballroom or when seated in a television studio, it is the duty of the tribunes of the people to insist that the drug traffic be stopped, the budget balanced, the schools improved, paradise regained. Off camera, they bootleg the distribution of the nation’s wealth to the gentry at whose feet they dance for coins.
A Media Enabling and Codependent
As with the Congress, so also with the major news media that serve at the pleasure of a commercial oligarchy that pays them, and pays them handsomely, for their pretense of speaking truth to power. On network television, the giving voice to what Cooper would have regarded as real opinions doesn’t set up a tasteful lead-in to the advertisements for Pantene Pro-V or the U.S. Marine Corps. The prominent figures in our contemporary Washington press corps regard themselves as government functionaries, enabling and codependent. Their point of view is that of the country’s landlords, their practice equivalent to what is known among Wall Street stock market touts as “securitizing the junk.”
The time allowed on Face the Nation or Meet the Press facilitates the transmission of sound-bite spin and the swallowing of welcome lies. Explain to us, my general, why the United States must continue the war in Afghanistan, and we will relay the message to the American people in words of two syllables. Instruct us, Mr. Chairman, in the reasons why the oil companies and the banks produce the paper that Congress doesn’t read but passes into law, and we will show the reasons to be sound. Do not be frightened by our pretending to be scornful or suspicious. Give us this day our daily bread, and we will hide your stupidity and greed in plain sight, in the rose bushes of inside-the-beltway gossip.
The cable-news networks meanwhile package dissent as tabloid entertainment, a commodity so clearly labeled as pasteurized ideology that it is rendered harmless and threatens nobody with the awful prospect of having to learn something they didn’t already know. Comedians on the order of Jon Stewart and Bill Maher respond with jokes offered as consolation prizes for the acceptance of things as they are and the loss of hope in things as they might become. As soporifics, not, God forbid, as incitements to revolution or the setting up of guillotines in Yankee Stadium and the Staples Center.
Barack Obama and Mitt Romney hold each other responsible for stirring up class warfare between the 1% and the 99%; each of them can be counted upon to mourn the passing of America’s once-upon-a-time egalitarian state of grace. They deliver the message to fund-raising dinners that charge up to $40,000 for the poached salmon, but the only thing worth noting in the ballroom or the hospitality tent is the absence among the invited bank accounts (prospective donor, showcase celebrity, attending journalist) of anybody intimately acquainted with -- seriously angry about, other than rhetorically interested in -- the fact of being poor.
When intended to draw blood instead of laughs, speaking truth to power doesn’t lead to a secure retirement on the beach at Martha’s Vineyard. Paine was the most famous political thinker of his day, his books in the late eighteenth century selling more copies than the Bible, but after the Americans had won their War of Independence, his notions of democracy were deemed unsuitable to the work of dividing up the spoils. The proprietors of their newfound estate claimed the privilege of apportioning its freedoms, and they remembered that Paine opposed the holding of slaves and the denial to women of the same sort of rights awarded to men. A man too much given to plain speaking, on too familiar terms with the lower orders of society, and therefore not to be trusted.
His opinions having become both suspect and irrelevant in Philadelphia, Paine sailed in 1787 for Europe, where he was soon charged with seditious treason in Britain (for publishing part two of The Rights of Man), imprisoned and sentenced to death in France (for his opposition to the execution of Louis XVI on the ground that it was an unprincipled act of murder). In 1794, Paine fell from grace as an American patriot as a consequence of his publishing The Age of Reason, the pamphlet in which he ridiculed the authority of an established church and remarked on “the unrelenting vindictiveness with which more than half the Bible is filled.” The American congregation found him guilty of the crime of blasphemy, and on his return to America in 1802, he was met at the dock in Baltimore with newspaper headlines damning him as a “loathsome reptile,” a “lying, drunken, brutal infidel.” When he died in poverty in 1809, he was buried, as unceremoniously as a dog in a ditch, in unhallowed ground on his farm in New Rochelle.
Paine’s misfortunes speak to the difference between politics as a passing around of handsome platitudes and politics as a sowing of the bitter seeds of social change. The speaking of truth to power when the doing so threatens to lend to words the force of deeds is as rare as it is brave. The signers of the Declaration of Independence accepted the prospect of being hanged in the event that America lost the war.
Our own contemporary political discourse lacks force and meaning because it is a commodity engineered, like baby formula and Broadway musicals, to dispose of any and all unwonted risk. The forces of property occupying both the government and the news media don’t rate politics as a serious enterprise, certainly not as one worth the trouble to suppress.
It is the wisdom of the age -- shared by Democrat and Republican, by forlorn idealist and anxious realist -- that money rules the world, transcends the boundaries of sovereign states, serves as the light unto the nations, and waters the tree of liberty. What need of statesmen, much less politicians, when it isn’t really necessary to know their names or remember what they say? The future is a product to be bought, not a fortune to be told.
Happily, at least for the moment, the society is rich enough to afford the staging of the fiction of democracy as a means of quieting the suspicions of a potentially riotous mob with the telling of a fairy tale. The rising cost of the production -- the pointless nominating conventions decorated with 15,000 journalists as backdrop for the 150,000 balloons -- reflects the ever-increasing rarity of the demonstrable fact. The country is being asked to vote in November for television commercials because only in the fanciful time zone of a television commercial can the American democracy still be said to exist.
Lewis H. Lapham is editor of Lapham’s Quarterly, and a TomDispatch regular. Formerly editor of Harper’s Magazine, he is the author of numerous books, including Money and Class in AmericaTheater of WarGag Rule, and, most recently, Pretensions to Empire. The New York Times has likened him to H.L. Mencken; Vanity Fair has suggested a strong resemblance to Mark Twain; and Tom Wolfe has compared him to Montaigne. This essay, shortened slightly for TomDispatch, introduces "Politics," the Fall 2012 issue of Lapham’s Quarterly.'

http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175595/tomgram%3A_lewis_lapham%2C_the_rule_of_money/?utm_source=TomDispatch&utm_campaign=b7c0d734c1-TD_Lapham9_20_2012&utm_medium=email#more