Issues & Alibis

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In This Edition

Cynthia McKinney exclaims, "I am in Turkey with Israel Shamir!"

Uri Avnery commiserates, "Cast Lead 2."

Victoria Stewart discovers, "Pandora's Bookshelf."

Ray McGovern wonders, "Are Presidents Afraid of the CIA?"

Jim Hightower finds, "New Signs Of Sanity At EPA."

Robert M. Bowman returns with, "Of the People, By the People, For the People."

Jonathan Turley explains why, "Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels Accuses Atheism As Cause Of Holocaust And Other Great Crimes Against Humanity."

Paul Krugman counts up to, "The Big Zero."

Chris Floyd explores, "Instant Karma."

Case Wagenvoord retells a tale, "A Classic Revisited."

Mike Folkerth is, "Cruisin' On Empty."

Chris Hedges with a must read, "One Day We'll All Be Terrorists."

David Michael Green sums up the last decade, "Well That Sure Sucked."

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels wins the coveted "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Ted Rall reviews, "The Fear Decade."

Ronnie Cummins sees, "Beyond The Darkest Hours, Grassroots Rising."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowitz reports, "Department Of Homeland Security Issues Terrorist ID Cards" but first Uncle Ernie remembers, "2009: A Year In Review."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Joe Heller, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Daryl Cagle, Internet Weekly.Org, Bill Day, Jeff Parker, Latf, Coal-Is-Dirty.Com, Coyotes Corner.Com, Mary Altaffer, What Really Happened.Com, Allied Artists Pictures, ABC News and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

The Quotable Quote...
The Dead Letter Office...
The Cartoon Corner...
To End On A Happy Note...
Have You Seen This...
Parting Shots...

Welcome one and all to "Uncle Ernie's Issues & Alibis."

2009: A Year In Review
By Ernest Stewart

I remember when the revolution wasn't just a fad
It was on the brink of happening then the acid all went bad
And they took away the pot and replaced it with crack
Turned the Panthers into zombies*, said, "Lock up all them fags!"

Well... Fuck The Shadow Government for running the show
Fuck The Puppet Media, Fuck The NWO!
If you see what I see, then let them know
They can take away our liberties but they can't take our souls!
33rd Degree ~~~ Delphi

"...then all that matters is power." ~~~ Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels

So tonight I'm gonna party like it's 1999!
1999 ~~~ Prince

What a difference a year makes, huh? While some of you began the year with real "hope" for a "change" from the last 28 years of the corpo-rat presidencies, and especially the last 8 years of Dubya, the rest of us were just thankful to be alive after all of that.

I knew that Barry wasn't about to bring any substantial change to the presidency. His Sinatorial voting record shown like a lighthouse on a dark night who he was and what he was about but at least he wasn't Bush and Cheney! So on January 20th we all held our breaths and hoped for the best. Almost a year down line even his most ardent supporters are starting to perceive the truth about Bush Jr. Jr.!

Barry, had he wanted, could have been our best president ever; he could have reestablished the old republic and brought the criminal regime of the Crime Family Bush and their corpo-rat masters to trial and punishment. He could have but the same puppet masters that pulled Bush's string pull Barry's strings as well.

Barry could have balanced the budget and saved us trillions of dollars simply by ending our imperialistic, immoral war crimes throughout the world. He could have brought our children home. Instead he fanned the flames of war and made all of Bush's war crimes and crimes against humanity his very own.

He could have restored the power of our Constitution and Bill of Rights but he chose instead to use the same acts of treason developed under Bush as his standard operational procedures, defending in various courts his right to spy on American citizens, use torture, and determine which American citizens to classify as non-persons. Those non-persons have no rights what-so-ever and can disappear forever with no chance of any appeal.

Instead of breaking up the failed banks and stock houses, he bailed them out to the tune of a trillion dollars with absolutely no oversight. And this was on top of Bush's bailout. Of course, everyone else affected by this was allowed to suffer without a prayer while their jobs and houses disappeared down that giant rat hole called American business. He then trotted out another give-away to big insurance with a plan similar to Bush's give away to big Pharma. The illegal requirement that you buy into this corpo-rat give away under punishment of law is against the Constitution of the these United Snakes, yet we are being forced to do so, ergo making most of Bush's sellouts seem childlike by comparison.

Of course, Barry couldn't do all of this alone. He had the help of almost every member of Congress from both sides of aisle! No matter how they pretend, as Gore Vidal once said, "It makes no difference who you vote for - the two parties are really one party representing four percent of the people." All of that teabagger and the healthcare song and dance from last summer's town hall meetings was merely smoke and mirrors for your entertainment and confusement! Remember America, "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!"

Trouble is, that was just the tip of the iceberg, just his first year spent warming up for what's to come this new year. I'm beginning to wonder if I'll still be around this time next year to write another one of these year in review pieces and I also wonder if you'll still be there to read it?

In Other News

Indiana's Governor Mitch Daniels, aka the evil Barney Fife, opened his cake hole the other day and out poured hatred, dogma, and lies. According to Barney, er, Mitch, all of the bad things that happen are because of Atheism. He proceeded to blame the Holocaust and other outrages on Atheists and assured us if we'd return to our Christian heritage all would be fine.

Wait for it...

I wrote Mitch a letter...

Hey Mitch,

I see by your interview about Atheists that you are just a wee bit insane, not to mention a liar.

Which tradition was that? It seems the founding fathers and other American presidents don't see it that way!

"The United States is in no sense founded upon the Christian doctrine." ... George Washington

"It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg." ... Thomas Jefferson

"I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church." ... Thomas Paine

"I do not find in orthodox Christianity one redeeming feature." ... Thomas Jefferson

"The Bible is not my book, and Christianity is not my religion. I could never give assent to the long, complicated statements of Christian dogma." ~~~ Abraham Lincoln

"The government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion." ... President John Adams as he signed the Treaty of Tripoli

"This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it." ... John Adams

"Our civil rights have no dependence on religious opinions, any more than our opinion in physics and geometry." ... Thomas Jefferson

"Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise...the legal establishment of Christianity [results in] superstition, bigotry, and persecution." ... James Madison

Jonathan Turley can say it better than I, Jonathan said...

"Atheism leads to brutality." That is certainly the case with all those atheists who force nine-year-olds to marry, carry out female circumcision, invade nations to convert them, bomb market places, and hang people for blasphemy . . . wait, those are the faithful. Well, as Blair insists, consider Hitler. He wrote:

This human world of ours would be inconceivable without the practical existence of a religious belief. The great masses of a nation are not composed of philosophers. For the masses of the people, especially faith is absolutely the only basis of a moral outlook on life. The various substitutes that have been offered have not shown any results that might warrant us in thinking that they might usefully replace the existing denominations. ...There may be a few hundreds of thousands of superior men who can live wisely and intelligently without depending on the general standards that prevail in everyday life, but the millions of others cannot do so. ~~~ Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Vol. 1 Chapter 10

He also insisted that:

By helping to lift the human being above the level of mere animal existence, Faith really contributes to consolidate and safeguard its own existence. Taking humanity as it exists to-day and taking into consideration the fact that the religious beliefs which it generally holds and which have been consolidated through our education, so that they serve as moral standards in practical life, if we should now abolish religious teaching and not replace it by anything of equal value the result would be that the foundations of human existence would be seriously shaken. ~~~ Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Vol. 2 Chapter 1

Hitler was actually baptized as Roman Catholic, attended a monastery school, was an altar boy and claimed to be a "soldier of Christ." There is a debate over his view of religion when he died, but Hitler actually encouraged faith among his soldiers and citizens in his twisted view of the world. He also wrote:

"I believe today that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator." ~~~ Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Vol. 1 Chapter 2.

Among the Daniels' "so forth" with Mao and Stalin, he obviously must omit Saddam Hussein, Idi Amin, Augusto Pinochet and others from last few decades. He also must omit those crusader massacres, Northern Ireland terrorists, and every other killing spree for God. He also must omit the war crimes committed by his party's own George W. Bush who was fed Biblical passages by underlings who wanted to invade the Muslim world, here.

What threatens this planet is not secularism or religion, but people like Daniels who curry favor with some by demonizing others in the name of faith. It is fanaticism that links the great crimes in history."

Your Atheist Pal,
Ernest Stewart
Managing editor
Issues & Alibis magazine

I look forward to the governor's reply, don't you?

Read Jonathan Turley's complete article here.

And Finally

From David Michael Green to Ted Rall to Paul Krugman, political pundits are writing their end of the decade pieces this week, so could someone explain why since the decade doesn't end until this time next year? Paul, who of course knows this as does David and Ted, went so far to say in this week's article: "Yes, I know that strictly speaking the millennium didn't begin until 2001. Do we really care?" Why yes we do, Paul, or at least we should.

Let me say that I've been reading Paul for years and 99% of the time I agree with his synopsis but I have to draw the line at nine-year-long decades! I especially have to draw the line with an economics expert since economics is based largely on math. I'm not saying that Paul got his Nobel the same way that Barry got his, but it does make one wonder. For the record, decade comes from the Latin "decas," a group or division of ten; esp., a period of ten years!

You may recall that the Gregorian Calendar, like the Julian Calendar which it replaced, doesn't have a year 0 and instead uses the ordinal numbers 1, 2, ... both for years AD and BC or CE and BCE. Thus the traditional timeline is 2 BCE, 1 BCE, CE 1, and CE, 2 ergo the decade didn't start until 2001 and won't be over until 2011.

Why is this important and not just much ado about nothing? For one thing it's just lazy and that is what America has become, lazy! "It's close enough for jazz," a saying that will thoroughly piss off any jazz aficionado is part of the big lie. If you tell a lie often enough people will start to believe it. It is as my daddy used to say, "half-assed." Ask most American children, that is if you can get them to stop texting for a minute, and they'll tell you Thursday is the end of the first decade. Ask most Chinese children when the decade ends and they'll tell you the first decade of the third millennium ends December 31, 2010 at 23:59:59. It's a symptom of why we'll soon be a 3rd world country!

Oh And One More Thing

Do you have people in you life who inspire extreme emotion? You know, the ones you love to hate or hate to love? Give them the perfect gift this holiday season. "W The Movie" is now available for discerning and disconcerting minds. If you couldn't get to its very limited run in the theatres or film festivals, here's your chance. "W The Movie" is now available on DVD through If you are so inclined, please use the link/portal for the film, which maybe found towards the bottom of this page. That way Amazon will send me a few pennies for each purchase and brighten my holidays a bit, too.

News Alert: It's now available for rent ($2.99 for 7 days) as a "Video on Demand" as well as being for sale ($14.99) as a down loadable!


And if you don't want the movie (it's not for everyone), remember us in your holiday giving. It's been a hard year for leftist publications, just as it has been difficult for charities, poor people, and champions of truth and justice. And we understand how tight money is. As my great-grandfather-in-law said, "If steamboats were a nickel, I couldn't buy the echo of a whistle." But we keep on. We don't advocate consumerism nor do we offer facile solutions to serious problems. We do, however, bring together every week writers and activists who are not afraid to speak the truth about our country and our world. The articles we print are not for the faint of heart.

As access to accurate information becomes more difficult and free speech and the exchange of ideas becomes more restricted and controlled, small publications and alternative presses disappear. We don't want Issues and Alibis join that list.

Everyone seems to be on the "Give $5.00" bandwagon. We know $5.00 can be a lot. So we're asking for pennies, a dollar, coupons, stamps. We're trying to hang on and we know you are, too. Whatever you can spare will be greatly appreciated by us. Every penny makes a difference.

Ernest & Victoria Stewart


02-10-1981 ~ 12-28-2009
Thanks for the jams!

12-20-1926 ~ 12-29-2009
Thanks for the caricatures!


The "W" theatre trailers are up along with the new movie poster and screen shots from the film. They are all available at the all-new "W" movie site: All five "W" trailers are available along with the trailer from our first movie "Jesus and her Gospel of Yes" at the Pink & Blue Films site on YouTube.


We get by with a little help from our friends!
So please help us if you can...?


So how do you like Bush Lite so far?
And more importantly, what are you planning on doing about it?

Until the next time, Peace!
(c) 2010 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for the last 9 years managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. In his spare time he is an actor, writer and an associate producer for the new motion picture "W The Movie."

I am in Turkey with Israel Shamir!!
By Cynthia McKinney & Israel Shamir

I can hardly believe this moment!! Israel Shamir has written about me and lifted my spirits when I was most down. Even from faraway Israel, he understood my plight and dared give voice to the truth. They say that sometimes distance gives clarity--and certainly in Israel's case, in observing my serial targeting, he saw what many inside the United States could not see. Despite his writings, I never met him until this moment, just a few minutes ago!! We are speaking together this afternoon in Ankara, Turkey. He has already sent his message out on his list and so I include it here for you. I will send my message to you later. I will bring these contacts from around the world that I have made on behalf of peace, home to the United States so that we can more easily achieve our objectives for justice and peace and dignity in the area of policy where we and the world need it the most. We are a part of something much bigger than us individually, and our moment is now.

Here is Israel's presentation for this afternoon:

From Israel Shamir

Dear friend,

best regards from Ankara, the capital of Turkey, where I am now at a conference on Palestine, together with wonderful Cynthia McKinney and other good and great persons. Turkey is changing its course, from very pro-American and pro-Israeli to more independent, and subsequently less zionized.

The Turks are proud of the brave stand of their prime minister for Palestine and against an Israeli leader at Davos last year, and they consider it a pivotal event.

Turkey is changing from violently secular, anti-religious, so 1940s Kemalist regime, but there are still a lot of vestiges, as huge portraits of the supreme leader are still hanging on the capital buildings while student girls in headscarfs are being frowned upon if not actually forbidden to enter university. Though kemalism was supposed to be the proponent of modernisation, it is so dated, so old-fashioned! There is nothing more dated than yesterday's modernism. In Russia, they took this sort of portraits down in 1955, and even Taiwan removed its Chiang Kai Shek portraits in 1980s.

Surely it is not only portraits that annoy. They have a Supreme Court which tried to outlaw the majority ruling party because its very soft Islamic leanings do not agree with strict kemalism. It seems that Turkey's parliament has still much work to do on the way to democracy - they should downgrade their unelected Supreme Court, bring army and intelligence generals into obedience, provide for religious freedom for majority Muslims. But first, they should remove American military bases and kick NATO out. In an interview to a Turkish newspaper I called Turkey "to make peace with its own past" - the splendid past of the Caliphate, the ruler of the East, the head of the Muslim believers and the protector of the Christians.

Here is the talk I give today with its advices What To Do in Palestine:

What to Do in and about Palestine

Israel Shamir's Talk at the Ankara Conference

Dear Turkish friends and fellow guests from abroad,

I am glad to speak again to you, the people of our great neighbour and former sovereign Turkey . Your latest developments inspire optimism. You are doing fine! Turkey is growing stronger and more independent; your leaders' obsession with joining the European Union has been exorcised. You have restored the power of the parliament, bridled military excesses, streamlined your economy and improved relations with Syria and Iran.

Turkey is no longer an American colony. You stopped joint air force exercises with Israel and the US . You expressed your clear anger over the horrors of Gaza. Now you pay more attention to the area where you live; you play an important role already and are destined to play an even greater role. So much depends on you! We feel it every day in Palestine.

I will not waste your time describing the horrors of Zionist rule in Palestine. You already know them, you've seen them on TV - dreadful pictures of burned schools and napalmed children, of the Gaza blockade, of check points, of night arrests. It is now exactly one year since the Jewish onslaught on Gaza, last year's Christmas war which Israel began while the world was holidaying. Your president, Mr Gul, said a few days ago to our president, Mr Peres, that he will not visit Israel while the siege of Gaza continues, and that was a very good decision. Indeed, it is urgent to lift the Gaza siege, because no building materials are being allowed to enter Gaza for the repair of homes. Instead, the Israeli siege is being tightened with active help of Egypt.

However beyond Gaza problem we must look for a bigger picture.

We are being told that the Gaza problem is that of Hamas intransigence, that it is Gaza's own fault. If only Gaza wouldn't embrace radical Islam, Israel would accommodate Gaza's needs.

Let us have a look outside of Gaza, at the West Bank's jewel, el Bireh, the twin city of Ramallah, the seat of Israel-approved ruler Mahmud Abbas. This is a most prosperous city of wonderful villas with a lot of greenery and purring Mercedes cars, and a beautiful view. El Bireh decided to build a football stadium; they asked for money and they received funds from France, Germany and the World Football Association, FIFA. The football stadium was built within the city of el Bireh's limits. Immediately, the Israeli court ruled: the stadium must be destroyed, because it is within the eyesight of a Jew.

Do you understand this? Mahmud Abbas is the most compliant Palestinian leader now or ever; he is doing everything that Israel asks. His police kindly retreat when Israeli security jeeps drive into his cities to arrest whomever they wish. He arrests every activist who speaks against Israeli excesses. He even fired the most senior Palestinian diplomat, Dr. Afif Safieh, the former ambassador to Washington, London, Vatican and Moscow because he spoke out against the Israeli war on Gaza.

Every Islamist, every supporter of Islam in the West Bank is (or was) in Abbas' jail.

Abbas is an implacable enemy of radical Islam. You can't be more conciliatory towards Israel than Mahmud Abbas. And still, he can't even build a stadium for kids to kick ball in his own city, because the Jews will not allow it.

So, although Gaza is in a dreadful situation, the problem is not only Gaza . Islam or not Islam is not even a question we should be pondering. It makes no difference. Islamists are in Abbas' jail, yet Abbas can't even build a stadium. Stadium, not medreseh (=School in Arabic S1000+).

Fatah member Marwan Barghuti and leftist PFLP leader Ahmed Sadat are in Israeli jails together with Hamas MPs.

The problem is the Jewish state. Not only does it besiege Gaza and destroy a football stadium in el Bireh. These are local problems, painful but local. The Jewish state (It is not a Jewish state. It is a Zionist state. S1000+) focuses Jewish power all over the world into action. Without a Jewish state, this power would disperse; it would remain local, it would remain chaotic, probably it would be subdued by the forces of assimilation. Israel focuses these chaotic forces and concentrates them into action.

This action is against Islam. Not only against Islam, but Dar ul Islam (the Islamic world) is a prime target. In the US , the Jewish Neocons led their country into a crusade against Iraq and Afghanistan ; now they are spearheading the push against Iran.

They have formed a powerful front against President Obama and have turned him into a laughing stock after he uttered a few words of wisdom about Palestine.

In Europe, if you inspect the coffers of anti-Muslim neo-Nazi groups, you'll find that they thrive on Jewish support. In Russia, Jewish nationalists and Zionists try to rally the Russians against their Muslim brethren. Sometimes they do it under cover of the Russian Church, or of Russian nationalism. I wrote about this recently, as I had discovered that the most fervently anti-Muslim forces in Russia are organised by crypto-Zionists.

Even if a Palestinian state were to be established and recognised, it wouldn't stop Israeli attempts to undermine its neighbours, to bomb Iran, to sow the seeds of discord from Russia to France, from Turkey to India. Israel's too powerful intelligence services would keep meddling. Neither would it neutralise the armed forces of Israel, and you know as well as anybody that the generals do not give up their toys, their privileges or their influence easily. The Israeli military machine is so powerful that it would seek to exercise its might.

Remember the Israel-Egypt peace treaty: when it was concluded, the first thing Israel did was invade Lebanon.

The bad influence of Zionism on Jews all over the world would not vanish in case of a "two states' solution.

In 1920, Winston Churchill published an article (Illustrated Sunday Herald, February 8, 1920, pg 5) titled: "Zionism or Bolshevism." There he noted that many Jews tend to embrace the cause of social equality (for him it was "impossible equality"), and the best way to stop by far too dynamic and powerful Jews from promoting equality is to infect them with Zionism. His project was supported by the might of the British Empire and by money of wealthy anti-equality Jews.

Zionism won. Equality was defeated. If we defeat Zionism, equality will have another chance. And a two states' solution will not defeat Zionism.

In short, even if Mahmud Abbas's dream of limited independence were to be realised, it wouldn't be good enough for the region, and it wouldn't be good enough for the world: Israel in its form of Jewish-supremacist state can't become a peaceful neighbour.

Supremacism leads to wars. Only a democratic state, the successor of Israel and the PNA, would be able to live in peace. Compare it to South Africa: as long as it was a white-supremacist state, it was the source of warfare and trouble all over Africa. After its supremacism was exorcized, it became peaceful. In the same vein, independent Palestine would be just another Bantustan of the type rightly rejected by South Africans.

But I do not think that even this very limited cause of limited independence for Palestine is likely to be achieved.

We have been told - for sixteen years! - that there is a peace process that will lead to a "two states solution". This is a fairy tale. If the Jews will not allow even the most loyal and obedient of el Bireh's kids to play football, do you think they will allow them to have an independent state? Why would they?

The Jews write frequently of how they envisage Palestinian independence. (I refer here to the most enlightened left-wing Jewish politicians!) They speak of a Palestine broken into a few enclaves surrounded by a wall and barbed wire, it's airspace and all of its borders controlled by Israel; its water to remain under Jewish control. And this is the best they can dream of.

If you want to have Two States, it can happen only if the Jews plead for it like they did in 1947. They did so then, and they will do so again only if they feel that the alternative, a single democratic state for all inhabitants of Palestine, is on the table. This is what they are afraid of: full democracy, full equality in the whole of the land. So even for practical reasons, we should call, not for independence of some partitioned bits and pieces, but for the whole lot: Let Palestine be united, let all of its inhabitants have equal rights, and afterwards they can discuss two states for ever and ever. The first thing is equality, the rest can wait.

Speaking frankly, this mythic Two State Solution can't even be envisaged. Jews and Palestinians live all over Palestine, and they can't be physically separated without a huge turmoil that would remind us of 1921 in Turkey and Greece, with Turks leaving Salonika and Greeks leaving Smyrna. This is not something one would like to see happen.

The West gave Nansen his Nobel Peace prize for the transfer of Greeks and Turks. In my view, this was a terrible calamity, never to be repeated. Partitions are awful; it is like sawing a living man into two parts. Nor is it necessary. Greeks and Turks could live together as they did for four hundred years; separation did nothing good for them. Separation of Israelis and Palestinians would be equally evil.

Now, Zionists often remind Turks of your so-called "Kurd problem." This comparison is wrong, because every Kurd in Turkey has Turkish citizenship and has all the rights every Turkish citizen has; while Palestinians usually have no citizenship of the state of Israel and enjoy no rights. But in one sense this comparison is right: it is impossible to separate Kurds from Turkey, because people of Kurdish descent live everywhere from Diyarbakir to Istanbul. Likewise, it is impossible to separate Palestinians from the immigrant populations which are called "Jews."

Indeed, the whole story of Palestine is a story of immigrants taking over a country. Such things happen: immigrants from Britain took over North America and Australia. This is a sad thing, but it happened. Now it is not realistic to hope that they will sail back to England - they won't. It is wrong to try and create an "independent state" for the native Americans - such independent states are called "reservations". The right answer is equality for native and immigrant alike. Some Jews would complain that they want a state of their own. We shall answer them: you have built on sand, and a house built on sand can't stand forever. If you want a state of your own without anybody else, find yourself a lonely uninhabited island. Palestine was, and is, populated; the best you can wish is to be equal citizens in Palestine with everybody else.

I spoke about this solution in the year 2001, when our country was torn by intifada al Aksa. It was right then, and it is right now. At that time I said: there is no other solution but a one-state solution. People, and even good people, activists, friends of Palestine said: no, we are very close to the two states' solution. I did not believe it then, I do not believe it now. There is only one good way out, and that is the way of equality and democracy, of deconstructing the Jewish state by forcing it to give full rights to all Palestinians under its rule.

So this is the goal we should strive for: full equality and integration of Palestine and Israel, South African style. Nothing less.

This does not mean that there is nothing to be done until that moment. Turkey can do a lot even now, even today, beyond expressions of solidarity. The Jewish state is a horrible example of injustice gone unpunished. For instance, an Israeli officer Captain R murdered a 13-year old girl, Iman al Hams. He shot her within eyesight of his soldiers and said that even a three-year-old Palestinian should be killed if she comes close to Jewish positions. The Jewish court absolved Captain R of all guilt; the Israeli Army promoted him to major and another court awarded him damages for the mere discussion of his crime. Last week, yet another Jewish judge gave another huge compensation to the same murderer.

Turkey, as the former ruler of Palestine, could fill in the void of justice by bringing this Captain R to trial. Sooner or later he will leave the sanctuary of the Jewish state and travel somewhere for a holiday. A Turkish warrant for his arrest should await him wherever he goes. And not only him, but the Jewish 'judges' who covered up his crime and became accessories after the murder should be tried too. This is not a job for amateurs, but for a state with all its tools. If present Turkish law does not allow for this, let the law be updated by taking a leaf from the Israeli book. According to Israeli law, if a Turk does wrong to a Jew in Turkey, he may be snatched, arrested, tried and punished in Israel. Turkey should introduce a symmetrical law, covering offences against Palestinians who otherwise are not protected by law.

Turkey could also take the initiative to stop the still looming Israeli-American aggression against Iran. If they do take Iran, Turkey will be encircled and cut off. The fate of Palestine also depends on the fate of Tehran.

My New Year's wish to you: be yourself, be Turks, and live in harmony and friendship with your neighbours, with Russia, Iran, Syria, Greece and with all the successor states of the Ottoman Empire. You are needed for the world and for Palestine.


Silence is the deadliest weapon of mass destruction.
(c) 2010 Cynthia McKinney is a former U.S. Congresswoman, Green Party presidential candidate, and an outspoken advocate for human rights and social justice. The first African-American woman to represent the state of Georgia, McKinney served six terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, from 1993-2003, and from 2005-2007.

(c) 2010 Israel Shamir is an internationally acclaimed radical spiritual and political thinker, Internet columnist and writer. His comments about current affairs and their deeper meaning are published on his site and elsewhere. They are also collected in three books, Galilee Flowers, Cabbala Of Power and recently published Masters Of Discourse.

Cast Lead 2
By Uri Avnery

DID WE win? Tomorrow marks the first anniversary of the Gaza War, alias Operation Cast Lead, and this question fills the public space.

Within the Israeli consensus, the answer has already been given: Certainly we won, the Qassams have stopped coming.

A simple, not to say primitive, answer. But that is how it looks to the superficial observer. There were the Qassams, we made war, no more Qassams. Sderot is thriving, the inhabitants of Beersheba go to the theater. Everything else is for philosophy professors.

But anyone who wishes to understand the results of this war has to pose some hard questions.

Was the real aim of the war to stop the Qassams? Could this have been achieved by other means? If there were other aims, what were they? Is the final balance sheet positive or negative, as far as the interests of Israel are concerned?

I PITY the historians. They have to scrutinize documents, peruse protocols, disentangle tortuous texts.

Documents are misleading. If Talleyrand (or whoever it was) was right in saying that words were invented in order to hide thoughts, this is even more true for documents. Documents falsify facts, hide facts, invent facts - all according to the interests of the writer. They disclose a little to hide the rest. Anyone who has been involved in public affairs knows this.

Therefore, let's ignore the protocols. What were the real aims of those who started the war? I believe that they were as follows, in order of decreasing priority:

1. To overthrow the regime in Gaza, by turning the life of the inhabitants into such hell that they would rise up against Hamas.
To return to the Government and the army their self respect, which had been severely damaged in Lebanon War II.
To restore the deterrent power of the Israeli army.
To stop the Qassams.
To free the captive soldier, Gilad Shalit.

Let's examine the results, one by one.

THIS WEEK, hundreds of thousands gathered in the Gaza Strip for a demonstration in support of Hamas. Judging from the photos, there were between 200 and 400 thousand. Considering that there are about 1.5 million inhabitants in the Strip, most of them children, that was quite an impressive turnout - especially in view of the misery caused by the Israeli blockade that has continued throughout the year and the ruined homes that could not be rebuilt. Those who believed that the pressure on the population would cause an uprising against the Hamas government have been proved wrong.

History buffs were not surprised. When attacked by a foreign foe, every people unites behind its leaders, whoever they are. Pity that our politicians and generals don't read books.

Our commentators portray the inhabitants of Gaza as "looking with longing at the flourishing shops of Ramallah". These commentators also derive hope from public opinion polls that purport to show that the popularity of Hamas in the West Bank is declining. If so, why is Fatah afraid of conducting elections, even after all Hamas activists there have been thrown into prison?

It seems that most of the people in the Gaza Strip are more or less satisfied with the functioning of the Hamas government. In spite of the misery of their lives, they may also be proud of its steadfastness There is order in the streets, crime and drugs are decreasing. Hamas is trying cautiously to promote a religious agenda in daily life, and it seems that the public does not mind.

The main aim of the operation has failed completely.

THE SECOND aim, on the other hand, has been achieved. The Olmert government, which lost public confidence in Lebanon War II, won it back in the Gaza War. That did not help Olmert himself - he had to resign because of the cloud of corruption affairs hovering over his head.

The army has restored its self-confidence. It has proved that the military deficiencies, that came to light at every step in the Lebanon War, were superficial. The public believes that in Gaza the army functioned well. The fact that a total of six Israeli soldiers were killed by enemy fire, while over a thousand people died on the other side, has reinforced this belief. Only few people are bothered by moral scruples.

THE QUESTION whether the third aim - deterrence - has been achieved is closely connected with another question: Who won the war militarily?

In a war between a regular army and a guerrilla force, it is hard to decide what "victory" means. In a classic battle between armies, victory belongs to the side which remains in control of the battlefield once the fighting ends. Obviously that does not apply in an asymmetrical contest. The Israeli army did not want to stay in the Gaza Strip - on the contrary, it was very keen to avoid such a possibility.

Some argue that Hamas won the war: if a band of ill-armed guerrillas holds out for three whole weeks against one of the strongest armies in the world, that constitutes a victory. There is a lot of truth in that.

On the other hand, the deterrent force of the army has certainly been restored. All Palestinian factions and all Arab forces in general, now know that the Israeli army is prepared to kill and destroy without any restraint in any military confrontation. From now on, the Hamas leaders - as well as the Hizbullah chiefs - will think twice before provoking it.

THE QASSAMS have stopped almost completely. Hamas has even imposed its authority on the small, extreme factions, which wanted to continue.

No doubt the newly restored deterrent force of the army has had a bearing on that. But it is also true that the army is taking great care not to cause regular incidents, as was their wont before Cast Lead. At least for now, the deterrence in the Gaza theatre is mutual.

It can be asked whether a means could have been found to stop the Qassams short of war. If the Israeli government had recognized the Hamas authorities in the Gaza Strip - at least de facto - and maintained businesslike relations with them, and if it had not imposed the blockade - could the missiles have been stopped? I do believe so.

THE RELEASE of Shalit - a secondary but important aim in itself - has not been achieved. If Shalit is freed, it will happen only as part of a prisoner exchange, and that will look like a huge victory for Hamas.

TAKING INTO consideration all these results, one can draw the conclusion that the war has ended in a kind of draw.

Except for Goldstone.

This war has dealt a fatal blow to Israel's standing in the world.

Is that important? David Ben-Gurion famously said that "it is not important what the Goyim say but what the Jews do." Thomas Jefferson, on the other hand, said that no nation can afford to behave without "a decent respect for the opinions of mankind". Jefferson was right. "What the Goyim say" has an immense impact on all the spheres of our life - from the political arena to security matters. The standing of our state in the world is a vital factor in our national security.

The Gaza War - from the decision to throw the army into a densely populated area to the use of white phosphorus and flechette munitions - has raised a dark cloud over Israel. The Goldstone report, coming as it did after the gruesome pictures broadcast throughout the war by all the world's TV networks, has produced a terrible impression. Hundreds of millions of people saw and heard, and their attitude towards Israel has changed for the worse. This will have far-reaching impact on the decisions of governments, the attitude of the media and in thousands of big and small decisions concerning Israel.

Almost all our spokesmen and journalists, from the President down to the last TV talk-show host, keep parroting that the Goldstone report is "one-sided", "vile" and "lying". But people around the world know that it is as honest a report as could be expected after our government's decision to boycott the investigation. The damage increases from day to day. Some of it is irreversible.

It is impossible to measure the results of the war without laying this fact on the scales. The upshot is that the damage done to us by the war outweighs any benefits.

Some people in our leadership silently accept this conclusion. But there is no lack of voices - both in the leadership and in the street - which talk openly about a "Cast Lead 2" as being just a matter of time.

A saying attributed to Bismarck goes: Fools learn from their own experience, clever people learn from the experience of others. Where does that leave us?
(c) 2010 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Pandora's Bookshelf
By Victoria Stewart

" Pandora, the earth, because she bestows all things necessary for life". From a scholium to line 971, The Birds--Aristophanes.

I like to think about Pandora. I like to think about her gathering her wisdom, grace, and humor up like a bejeweled cloak, going in search of a quiet place to wait out the foolishness of men like Hesiod. I like to think about her in a secluded, sunlit house somewhere in the mountains, not too far from the sea, a house where she visits with her sisters Eve and Lilith, tends a garden full of lush and semi-forgotten plants, and fills exotic baskets with gifts to be given. I like to think about her throwing lavish parties for the likes of Cassandra, Morgaine, Hecate, Astarte, and Isis. I like to think about her watching the very same stars that I see in the night sky and warming herself in the same sunlight that streams in my windows. And bibliophile that I am, I like to think about the books she reads. (You know Pandora has got to love herself some Amazon.) And I like to think about some of the books that might be stacked by her bed, books that might help me get through these days and nights, books that might offer a glimpse of something larger, books that compel and soothe and challenge. Books that feed the head and heart.

The Color Purple is Alice Walker's most famous book, the one made into a movie, the one that propelled her to fame, but it is The Temple of My Familiar (1989), which offers a literary banquet. This book grabs the imagination and shakes it, pushes the limits of convention and comfort. While it occasionally seems na´ve in this ninth year of the first decade of the 21st century, it is a reminder of what could have been and what still can be. And it contains the complete Gospel According to Shug, one of the best philosophies ever written.

Pearl Cleage's What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day is catalogued in the Library of Congress as "chick lit" (Why, one wonders, would the LOC would think having a category called "chick lit" would be acceptable?) but this book is truly a gem. Encouraging, funny, acerbic, and wise, Cleage offers a beautifully written story, some of the most memorable characters in contemporary fiction, and, best of all, Ten Things Every Free Woman Should Know, a list that is a timely and providential education template.

It seems like every day brings new information about contaminated food and/or medications. And with the health care industry's latest coup, the need to stay healthy is greater than ever. There are countless books offering information on gardening, nutrition, diet, herbs, and alternative medicine. Before investing hard-earned and hard-to-come-by money in books, visit a public library. Check out titles that are of interest and spend some time reading and researching before visiting the bookstore.

Mel Bartholomew's Square Foot Gardening is a classic and one of the best gardening books ever written. The All New Square Foot Gardening is the latest incarnation of the book that changed gardening and should be part of the core collection for anyone interested in sustainability, independence, and decent food.

For those who don't have room for a square foot garden, R. J. Ruppenthal's Fresh Food From Small Spaces, The Square Inch Gardener's Guide to Year-Round Growing, Fermenting, and Sprouting, turns even the tiniest space into a potential garden. Filled with innovative ideas and practical advice, this book is a worthwhile investment.

Worried about the coming apocalypse? Wondering how to survive when the grid fails? Just interested in a less dependent way of living? Check out Toolbox for Sustainable City Living by Scott Kellogg and Stacy Pettigrew. This book provides great information on practical systems and methods for changing the way one lives. Juan Martinez's illustrations are superb; the authors' approach and solutions are hands-on and rely on innovation, creativity, social justice, (Yay!) and true sustainability rather the money laundering of so many "green" books.

When it comes to herbs and herbal medicine, it's hard to know who or what to believe. Susun S. Weed's classic, Healing Wise is spot on. The information contained in this small book is worth the annoyance of wading through her contrived and cutesy style.

Richo Cech has written several books on growing healing herbs and making herbal tinctures. No lesser an authority than my favorite seedsman of JL Hudson writes of Making Plant Medicine, "An excellent overview of making herbal tinctures, vinegars, glycerites, water-based preparations, syrups, slaves, baths, poultices, etc. Clearly explains the methods for making everything from simple teas to professional quality, mixed solvent tinctures equal to those in health food stores. Includes "A gardener's herbal formulary" covering over 110 herbs, with over 500 formulas, giving medicinal action, dosage, and use. Interesting stories of his own experiences give the book immediacy and bring the processes "off the page" and into practical focus." A must for personal libraries.

And finally, if you're confused about what all of this is about, visit Mike Folkerth and get a copy of his book, The Biggest Lie Ever Believed. This book is so important that I gave it to my children. My son was so impressed with Mike's insights and advice that all he asked of his now-wife before they were married was that she read this book. It's that good. Really.

Of course, goddesses read about science, history, mythology, art, and pretty much everything else. But those titles will come later. Now is time to lift a glass to the year that is passing, the new one coming in, and all the great books waiting to be read.
(c) 2010 Victoria Stewart is the editor of Issues & Alibis magazine.

Are Presidents Afraid of the CIA?
By Ray McGovern

In the past I have alluded to Panetta and the Seven Dwarfs. The reference is to CIA Director Leon Panetta and seven of his moral-dwarf predecessors-the ones who sent President Barack Obama a letter on Sept. 18 asking him to "reverse Attorney General Holder's August 24 decision to re-open the criminal investigation of CIA interrogations."

Panetta reportedly was also dead set against reopening the investigation-as he was against release of the Justice Department's "torture memoranda" of 2002, as he has been against releasing pretty much anything at all-the President's pledges of a new era of openness, notwithstanding. Panetta is even older than I, and I am aware that hearing is among the first faculties to fail. Perhaps he heard "error" when the President said "era."

As for the benighted seven, they are more to be pitied than scorned. No longer able to avail themselves of the services of clever Agency lawyers and wordsmiths, they put their names to a letter that reeked of self-interest-not to mention the inappropriateness of asking a President to interfere with an investigation already ordered by the Attorney General.

Three of the seven-George Tenet, Porter Goss, and Michael Hayden-were themselves involved, in one way or another, in planning, conducting, or covering up all manner of illegal actions, including torture, assassination, and illegal eavesdropping. In this light, the most transparent part of the letter may be the sentence in which they worry: "There is no reason to expect that the re-opened criminal investigation will remain narrowly focused."

When asked about the letter on the Sunday TV talk shows on Sept. 20, Obama was careful always to respond first by expressing obligatory "respect" for the CIA and its directors. With Bob Schieffer on Face the Nation, though, Obama did allow himself a condescending quip. He commented, "I appreciate the former CIA directors wanting to look out for an institution that they helped to build."

That quip was, sadly, the exception to the rule. While Obama keeps repeating the mantra that "nobody is above the law," there is no real sign that he intends to face down Panetta and the Seven Dwarfs-no sign that anyone has breathed new life into federal prosecutor John Durham, to whom Holder gave the mandate for further "preliminary investigation." What is generally forgotten is that it was former Attorney General Michael Mukasey who picked Durham two years ago to investigate CIA's destruction of 91 tapes of the interrogation of "high-value detainees."

Durham had scarcely been heard from when Holder added to Durham's job-jar the task of conducting a preliminary investigation regarding the CIA torture specialists. These are the ones whose zeal led them to go beyond the already highly permissive Department of Justice guidelines for "harsh interrogation."

Durham, clearly, is proceeding with all deliberate speed (emphasis on "deliberate"). Someone has even suggested-I trust, in jest-that he has been diverted to the search for the money and other assets that Bernie Maddow stashed away.

In any case, do not hold your breath for findings from Durham anytime soon. Holder appears in no hurry. And President Obama keeps giving off signals that he is afraid of getting crosswise with the CIA-that's right, afraid.

Not Just Paranoia

In that fear, President Obama stands in the tradition of a dozen American presidents. Harry Truman and John Kennedy were the only ones to take on the CIA directly. Worst of all, evidence continues to build that the CIA was responsible, at least in part, for the assassination of President Kennedy. Evidence new to me came in response to things I included in my article of Dec. 22, "Break the CIA in Two."

What follows can be considered a sequel that is based on the kind of documentary evidence after which intelligence analysts positively lust.

Unfortunately for the CIA operatives who were involved in the past activities outlined below, the temptation to ask Panetta to put a SECRET stamp on the documentary evidence will not work. Nothing short of torching the Truman Library might conceivably help. But even that would be a largely feckless "covert action," copy machines having long since done their thing.

In my article of Dec. 22, I referred to Harry Truman's op-ed of exactly 46 years before, titled "Limit CIA Role to Intelligence," in which the former President expressed dismay at what the Central Intelligence Agency had become just 16 years after he and Congress created it.

The Washington Post published the op-ed on December 22, 1963 in its early edition, but immediately excised it from later editions. Other media ignored it. The long hand of the CIA?

Truman wrote that he was "disturbed by the way CIA has been diverted from its original assignment" to keep the President promptly and fully informed and had become "an operational and at times policy-making arm of the government."

The Truman Papers

Documents in the Truman Library show that nine days after Kennedy was assassinated, Truman sketched out in handwritten notes what he wanted to say in the op-ed. He noted, among other things, that the CIA had worked as he intended only "when I had control."

In Truman's view, misuse of the CIA began in February 1953, when his successor, Dwight Eisenhower, named Allen Dulles CIA Director. Dulles' forte was overthrowing governments (in current parlance, "regime change"), and he was quite good at it. With coups in Iran (1953) and Guatemala (1954) under his belt, Dulles was riding high in the late Fifties and moved Cuba to the top of his to-do list.

Accustomed to the carte blanche given him by Eisenhower, Dulles was offended when young President Kennedy came on the scene and had the temerity to ask questions about the Bay of Pigs adventure, which had been set in motion under Eisenhower. When Kennedy made it clear he would NOT approve the use of U.S. combat forces, Dulles reacted with disdain and set out to mousetrap the new President.

Coffee-stained notes handwritten by Allen Dulles were discovered after his death and reported by historian Lucien S. Vandenbroucke. They show how Dulles drew Kennedy into a plan that was virtually certain to require the use of U.S. combat forces. In his notes Dulles explains that, "when the chips were down," the new President would be forced by "the realities of the situation" to give whatever military support was necessary "rather than permit the enterprise to fail."

Additional detail came from a March 2001 conference on the Bay of Pigs, which included CIA operatives, retired military commanders, scholars, and journalists. Daniel Schorr told National Public Radio that he had gained one new perception as a result of the "many hours of talk and heaps of declassified secret documents:"

"It was that the CIA overlords of the invasion, Director Allen Dulles and Deputy Richard Bissell had their own plan on how to bring the United States into the conflict... What they expected was that the invaders would establish a beachhead... and appeal for aid from the United States...

"The assumption was that President Kennedy, who had emphatically banned direct American involvement, would be forced by public opinion to come to the aid of the returning patriots. American forces, probably Marines, would come in to expand the beachhead.

"In fact, President Kennedy was the target of a CIA covert operation that collapsed when the invasion collapsed," added Schorr.

The "enterprise" which Dulles said could not fail was, of course, the overthrow of Fidel Castro. After mounting several failed operations to assassinate him, this time Dulles meant to get his man, with little or no attention to what the Russians might do in reaction. Kennedy stuck to his guns, so to speak; fired Dulles and his co-conspirators a few months after the abortive invasion in April 1961; and told a friend that he wanted to "splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it into the winds."

The outrage was mutual, and when Kennedy himself was assassinated on November 22, 1963, it must have occurred to Truman that the disgraced Dulles and his outraged associates might not be above conspiring to get rid of a President they felt was soft on Communism-and, incidentally, get even.

In his op-ed of December 22, 1963 Truman warned: "The most important thing...was to guard against the chance of intelligence being used to influence or to lead the President into unwise decisions." It is a safe bet that Truman had the Bay of Pigs fiasco uppermost in mind.

Truman called outright for CIA's operational duties [to] be terminated or properly used elsewhere." (This is as good a recommendation now as it was then, in my view.)

On December 27, retired Admiral Sidney Souers, whom Truman had appointed to lead his first central intelligence group, sent a "Dear Boss" letter applauding Truman's outspokenness and blaming Dulles for making the CIA "a different animal than I tried to set up for you." Souers specifically lambasted the attempt "to conduct a 'war' invading Cuba with a handful of men and without air cover."

Souers also lamented the fact that the agency's "principal effort" had evolved into causing "revolutions in smaller countries around the globe," and added:

With so much emphasis on operations, it would not surprise me to find that the matter of collecting and processing intelligence has suffered some."

Clearly, CIA's operational tail was wagging the substantive dog-a serious problem that persists to this day. For example, CIA analysts are super-busy supporting operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan; no one seems to have told them that they need to hazard a guess as to where this is all leading and whether it makes any sense.

That is traditionally done in a National Intelligence Estimate. Can you believe there at this late date there is still no such Estimate? Instead, the President has chosen to rely on he advice of Gen. David Petraeus, who many believe will be Obama's opponent in the 2012 presidential election.

Fox Guarding Henhouse?

In any case, the well-connected Dulles got himself appointed to the Warren Commission and took the lead in shaping the investigation of JFK's assassination. Documents in the Truman Library show that he then mounted a targeted domestic covert action of his own to neutralize any future airing of Truman's and Souers' warnings about covert action.

So important was this to Dulles that he invented a pretext to get himself invited to visit Truman in Independence, Missouri. On the afternoon of April 17, 1964 he spent a half-hour trying to get the former President to retract what he had said in his op-ed. No dice, said Truman.

No problem, thought Dulles. Four days later, in a formal memo for his old buddy Lawrence Houston, CIA General Counsel from 1947 to 1973, Dulles fabricated a private retraction, claiming that Truman told him the Washington Post article was "all wrong," and that Truman "seemed quite astounded at it."

No doubt Dulles thought it might be handy to have such a memo in CIA files, just in case.

A fabricated retraction? It certainly seems so, because Truman did not change his tune. Far from it. In a June 10, 1964 letter to the managing editor of Look magazine, for example, Truman restated his critique of covert action, emphasizing that he never intended the CIA to get involved in "strange activities."

Dulles and Dallas

Dulles could hardly have expected to get Truman to recant publicly. So why was it so important for Dulles to place in CIA files a fabricated retraction. My guess is that in early 1964 he was feeling a good bit of heat from those suggesting the CIA might have been involved somehow in the Kennedy assassination. Indeed, one or two not-yet-intimidated columnists were daring to ask how the truth could ever come out with Allen Dulles on the Warren Commission. Prescient.

Dulles feared, rightly, that Truman's limited-edition op-ed might yet get some ink, and perhaps even airtime, and raise serious questions about covert action. Dulles would have wanted to be in position to flash the Truman "retraction," with the hope that this would nip any serious questioning in the bud. The media had already shown how co-opted-er, I mean "cooperative"-it could be.

As the de facto head of the Warren Commission, Dulles was perfectly positioned to exculpate himself and any of his associates, were any commissioners or investigators-or journalists-tempted to question whether the killing in Dallas might have been a CIA covert action.

Did Allen Dulles and other "cloak-and-dagger" CIA operatives have a hand in killing President Kennedy and then covering it up? The most up-to-date-and, in my view, the best-dissection of the assassination appeared last year in James Douglass' book, JFK and the Unspeakable. After updating and arraying the abundant evidence, and conducting still more interviews, Douglass concludes the answer is Yes.
(c) 2010 Ray McGovern served as a CIA analyst for 27 years -- from the administration of John F. Kennedy to that of George H. W. Bush. During the early 1980s, he was one of the writers/editors of the President's Daily Brief and briefed it one-on-one to the president's most senior advisers. He also chaired National Intelligence Estimates. In January 2003, he and four former colleagues founded Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.

New Signs Of Sanity At EPA

Could it be? Dare we think it? Is it possible that the Environmental Protection Agency might finally be getting serious about providing some protection for Appalachia's environment and people?

For more than a decade, the ancient, serene, and beautiful mountains, valleys, and streams of central Appalachia have literally been under assault by corporate coal profiteers. Using a brutally-destructive mining method called "mountaintop removal," the corporations explode to bits the top third of mountains to get at the coal, then they cavalierly bulldoze the resulting rubble and toxic coal waste down the mountainsides, filling the valleys, burying streams, poisoning the water supply, and destroying livelihoods.

As mountain after mountain has been wasted, the EPA has stood silent as the Army Corp of Engineers has rubber-stamped Big Coal's selfish devastation. "The whole permitting process has become toothless," says one observer.

But she's not just any ol' observer. She's Lisa Jackson, the new head of the EPA, who recently declared, "We're going to do our jobs." Two subsequent steps suggest she might. First, the agency has preliminarily rejected the approval of 79 more mountaintop removal permits. Second, agency officials are quietly putting together a major new scientific study of the impacts that the explosive process has on streams, water quality, and aquatic life.

A 2005 EPA report has already documented this devastation, but - incredibly - the Bush team perverted the findings to allow more devastation! Now, however, it appears that science, nature, and people might at long last be considered and possibly - just possibly - given priority over undiluted industry greed.

To stay informed and help push for environmental sanity go to
(c) 2010 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition.

"Of the People, By the People, For the People"
Populism Requires Both Political & Economic Democracy
By Robert M. Bowman

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness - that to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles and organizing its Powers in such Form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness." ~~~ Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

These words, penned by Thomas Jefferson and signed by him, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, and 52 other men make it clear that the purpose of government is to bring about the safety and happiness of the people - not just a handful, but ALL the people. In other words, government should be "populist" or (to use Lincoln's words) "of the people, by the people, and for the people"

There have been very few such governments in all of recorded history. Even those carefully designed to operate that way have usually changed over time. As money, land, and other resources become concentrated in a few hands, those elite tend to exercise undue influence over those financially dependent upon them, and that translates into political power. Once power is in the hands of the few, they tend to exercise it to their own benefit, not that of the "rabble." Lincoln recognized that government would not operate "for" the people unless it was controlled "by" the people (a "populist" government).

Before discussing the necessary conditions for a government to be "populist," we should reflect briefly on why such a government is so badly needed.

Why is a Populist Government Needed?

The recent past should make this crystal clear. The last president (indeed the last nominee of either major party) not to have been a member of the Trilateral Commission (TC) and hand-picked for the nomination of his party was John F. Kennedy (and we know what happened to him). A couple of presidents (Carter and Clinton) have tried to go against their handlers in the TC (Zbigniew Brzezinski and David Gergen, respectively) once in office. Both got crushed. Carter was sidelined for the balance of his presidency, and Clinton went back to following orders. As a result, for the last 40 years, government has come more and more under the control of giant corporate interests, including banks, oil companies, pharmaceutical manufacturers, insurance companies, and weapons providers.

In the administration of Dick Cheney and George W. Bush, this control became so complete that:

* Energy policy was made by Enron and Chevron-Texaco.

* Drug plans for seniors (Medicare part D for disaster) were drawn up by the drug companies and insurance companies.

* Regulatory agencies were put under the direction of executives and lobbyists of the very corporations to be regulated.

* The tax burden was shifted from the wealthy CEOs and stockholders to the workers by slashing taxes for the very rich while increasing FICA (Social Security) taxes, the most regressive tax on the books.

* The deficit and national debt were doubled and redoubled through massive military spending, while social programs were starved of funds.

* Workers were forced to pay hundreds of billions in interest on the national debt to wealthy stockholders in the privately-owned Federal Reserve banking system.

* Labor Unions were disempowered, and wages for workers were eroded by government subsidies for corporations exporting jobs and importing cheap illegal labor until real wages were a third of what they had been in the 1950s.

* The rights guaranteed to the people in the Constitution and Bill of Rights were illegally taken away by the misnamed "Patriot Act," the "Military Commissisons Act," indefinite detentions without charge, wiretaps without warrant, and even the torture of American citizens.

* The "Free Press" disappeared because of collusion between the government and the corporate monopoly media, making "Free Speech" a hollow shell, now interpreted to only mean that big money interests are free to buy up votes and elections, while dissident citizens are penned up in remote "Free Speech Zones" and denied their rights of assembly and redress of grievances.

* (and worst of all) Working Americans, caught up in an "Economic Draft" are forced to kill and be killed in multiple corporate wars of aggression against countries that posed no threat to the United States.

None of these policies (which have largely been continued or even expanded under President Barack Obama, to his shame) are in the interest of the people. Such policies would never be instituted by a populist government. They reflect, rather, a fascist oligarchy. This is why it is essential that we Take Back America for the people.

But what exactly is it that makes a government "populist?" What are the necessary conditions?

What Conditions Make a Populist Government Possible?

First, a populist government requires some measure of political democracy. True democracy means that all adult citizens meet face-to-face to make important decisions by consensus. This true (or direct) democracy has existed in tribes, kinship clans, some ancient city-states, and in early New England town meetings. It is obviously impractical for a modern nation-state. In his 2008 book "Fixing the System," Adrian Kuzminski shows how democracy can be extended to groups too large to meet face-to-face through carefully-crafted layers of representation.

Many think we in the United States have a "representative democracy." We have no such thing, because our elections do not take place in small, face-to-face meetings. We don't have any layers of representation between us and the U.S. Congress, and Congressional districts are much too large (In the first Congress in 1787,the average district had 60,000 residents. Today it's nearly 800,000). (The U.S. Senate is even worse, but that's another topic.) Because of the size of electoral districts, electoral outcomes are generally determined by who can spend the most money on advertising, and who has the support of the mass (corporate monopoly) media. Thus most elections for federal office can only be won by those who are extremely wealthy or those who sell themselves to those who are. As a consequence, we now have a government "of the corporations and bankers, by the corporations and bankers, and for the corporations and bankers." Such a government is not only anti-democratic, it is also totally incapable of effecting the "Safety and Happiness" of the people.

The solution posed by Kuzminski (and before him by Thomas Jefferson) is "confederal democracy," in which town or village or neighborhood face-to-face meetings elect a representative to a county council, which in turn elects a representative to a state legislature, which in turn elects representatives to the U.S. Congress. At each step, representatives are accountable to the group which elected them and recallable by them. At each step, elections take place in face-to-face meetings of a group small enough that members know each other and know who they can trust to properly represent them at the next level. In populous states, additional levels may have to be created to keep meeting sizes manageable.

Such a system would have to be carefully designed to eliminate the undue influence of the wealthy and of the media. Even so, the system can be corrupted if there are economic dependencies within the meetings. Kuzminski puts it this way: "free and full participation in democratic governance depends upon each citizen personally commanding resources sufficient to maintain his or her relative economic independence vis-a-vis other citizens." It means all having "some fair share of societies' resources" or "common wealth." The bottom line is that no one should be rich enough to buy up the loyalty or vote of another, and none should be so economically dependent on another that they can be bought or unduly influenced. In other words, there should be no "wage slaves" or "debt slaves" among the citizenry, and no economic slave masters.

A populist government thus requires some measure of economic democracy in addition to political democracy. This has been recognized by various thinkers over the ages, the earliest we know about being an ancient Greek, Phaleas of Chalcedon. No original document is known, but he is quoted in Aristotle's "Politics' as calling for citizens to have "equal estates," something he apparently envisages as being brought about by dowries only being paid by the rich and only being received by the poor. In our day, different means will be required to give all citizens a measure of economic independence. For decades, I have called for a "negative income tax" which would eliminate poverty in this country. Another way to approach it would be to abolish the Federal Reserve, eliminate the debt-based monetary system, and grant all citizens a "social credit" as their share of the common wealth.
(c) 2010 Dr. Robert M. Bowman, Lt. Col., USAF, ret.; National Commander, The Patriots

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels Accuses Atheism As Cause Of Holocaust And Other Great Crimes Against Humanity
By Jonathan Turley

The global campaign against the scourge of secularism continues. As we previously saw how the Chief Rabbi and the former prime minister of England attacked secularism as the threat to Western Civilization. Now, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels is adding his voice to this chorus - singling out atheists as responsible for the greatest crimes of the last century.

Daniels' rather shrill and strained view of history came out in a pre-Christmas interview with NewsChannel 15 at the Governor's Residence in Indianapolis. Daniels is a Presbyterian and insisted that his life's purpose is "to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." That seems perfectly understandable. However, he then turned to those who have historically threatened mankind: people who do not believe in God.

Here is part of that interview:

Mark Mellinger: You've talked about your own personal faith very little. What is the Gospel? What is its primary significance to Mitch Daniels?

Governor Daniels: It's true. I don't talk about these things too openly for two reasons.

One is [that] although faith is very central to me, I also take very seriously the responsibility to treat my public duties in a way that keeps separate church and state and respects alternative views.

Secondly, I've sometimes referred to it as a Matthew 6 Christian. If you read that chapter, it's the one that talks about praying in private, not giving your alms in public, not being ostentatious about your faith. And I've always liked that notion and thought that was a pretty important instruction.

Mellinger: But theology has to shape your life, right? I mean, the external actions that we see you take, [they're] driven by what's inside. Isn't it all a result of your theology?

Daniels: I hope it is; hope it is, except we all fall short of that.

To me, the core of the Christian faith is humility, which starts with recognizing that you're as fallen as anyone else. And we're all constantly trying to get better, but... so I'm sure I come up short on way too many occasions.

Our country was founded -this is just an historic fact; some people today may resist this notion but it is absolutely true- it was founded by people of faith. It was founded on principles of faith. The whole idea of equality of men and women [and] of the races all springs from the notion that we're all children of a just God. It is very important to at least my notion of what America's about and should be about and I hope it's reflected most of the time in the choices that we make personally.

Mellinger: Is there part of you that is bothered by the aggressive atheism of a [Sam] Harris, a [Christopher] Hitchens, a [Richard] Dawkins? And what I mean is... this atheism is a little different than atheism has been in the past because it does seek to convert people.

Daniels: I'm not sure it's all that new. People who reject the idea of a God -who think that we're just accidental protoplasm- have always been with us. What bothers me is the implications -which not all such folks have thought through- because really, if we are just accidental, if this life is all there is, if there is no eternal standard of right and wrong, then all that matters is power.

And atheism leads to brutality. All the horrific crimes of the last century were committed by atheists -Stalin and Hitler and Mao and so forth- because it flows very naturally from an idea that there is no judgment and there is nothing other than the brief time we spend on this Earth.

Everyone's certainly entitled in our country to equal treatment regardless of their opinion. But yes, I think that folks who believe they've come to that opinion ought to think very carefully, first of all, about how different it is from the American tradition; how it leads to a very different set of outcomes in the real world.

"Atheism leads to brutality." That is certainly the case with all those atheists who force nine-year-old to marry, carry out female circumcision, invade nations to convert them, bomb market places, and hang people for blasphemy . . . wait, those are the faithful. Well, as Blair insists, consider Hitler. He wrote:

This human world of ours would be inconceivable without the practical existence of a religious belief. The great masses of a nation are not composed of philosophers. For the masses of the people, especially faith is absolutely the only basis of a moral outlook on life. The various substitutes that have been offered have not shown any results that might warrant us in thinking that they might usefully replace the existing denominations. ...There may be a few hundreds of thousands of superior men who can live wisely and intelligently without depending on the general standards that prevail in everyday life, but the millions of others cannot do so. ~~~ Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Vol. 1 Chapter 10

He also insisted that

By helping to lift the human being above the level of mere animal existence, Faith really contributes to consolidate and safeguard its own existence. Taking humanity as it exists to-day and taking into consideration the fact that the religious beliefs which it generally holds and which have been consolidated through our education, so that they serve as moral standards in practical life, if we should now abolish religious teaching and not replace it by anything of equal value the result would be that the foundations of human existence would be seriously shaken. ~~~ Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Vol. 2 Chapter 1

Hitler was actually baptized as Roman Catholic, attended a monastery school, was an altar boy and claimed to be a "soldier of Christ." There is a debate over his view of religion when he died, but Hitler actually encouraged faith among his soldiers and citizens in his twisted view of the world. He also wrote:

"I believe today that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator." ~~~ Mein Kampf, Vol. 1 Chapter 2).

Among the Daniels' "so forth" with Mao and Stalin, he obviously must omit Saddam Hussein, Idi Amin, Augusto Pinochet and others from last few decades. He also must omit those crusader massacres, Northern Ireland terrorists, and every other killing spree for God. He also must omit the war crimes committed by his party's own George W. Bush who was fed Biblical passages by underlings who want to invade the Muslim world, here.

What threatens this planet is not secularism or religion, but people like Daniels who curry favor of some by demonizing others in the name of faith. It is fanaticism that links the great crimes in history.

For the full story, click here.
(c) 2010 Jonathan Turley

The Big Zero
By Paul Krugman

Maybe we knew, at some unconscious, instinctive level, that it would be an era best forgotten. Whatever the reason, we got through the first decade of the new millennium without ever agreeing on what to call it. The aughts? The naughties? Whatever. (Yes, I know that strictly speaking the millennium didn't begin until 2001. Do we really care?)

But from an economic point of view, I'd suggest that we call the decade past the Big Zero. It was a decade in which nothing good happened, and none of the optimistic things we were supposed to believe turned out to be true.

It was a decade with basically zero job creation. O.K., the headline employment number for December 2009 will be slightly higher than that for December 1999, but only slightly. And private-sector employment has actually declined - the first decade on record in which that happened.

It was a decade with zero economic gains for the typical family. Actually, even at the height of the alleged "Bush boom," in 2007, median household income adjusted for inflation was lower than it had been in 1999. And you know what happened next.

It was a decade of zero gains for homeowners, even if they bought early: right now housing prices, adjusted for inflation, are roughly back to where they were at the beginning of the decade. And for those who bought in the decade's middle years - when all the serious people ridiculed warnings that housing prices made no sense, that we were in the middle of a gigantic bubble - well, I feel your pain. Almost a quarter of all mortgages in America, and 45 percent of mortgages in Florida, are underwater, with owners owing more than their houses are worth.

Last and least for most Americans - but a big deal for retirement accounts, not to mention the talking heads on financial TV - it was a decade of zero gains for stocks, even without taking inflation into account. Remember the excitement when the Dow first topped 10,000, and best-selling books like "Dow 36,000" predicted that the good times would just keep rolling? Well, that was back in 1999. Last week the market closed at 10,520.

So there was a whole lot of nothing going on in measures of economic progress or success. Funny how that happened.

For as the decade began, there was an overwhelming sense of economic triumphalism in America's business and political establishments, a belief that we - more than anyone else in the world - knew what we were doing.

Let me quote from a speech that Lawrence Summers, then deputy Treasury secretary (and now the Obama administration's top economist), gave in 1999. "If you ask why the American financial system succeeds," he said, "at least my reading of the history would be that there is no innovation more important than that of generally accepted accounting principles: it means that every investor gets to see information presented on a comparable basis; that there is discipline on company managements in the way they report and monitor their activities." And he went on to declare that there is "an ongoing process that really is what makes our capital market work and work as stably as it does."

So here's what Mr. Summers - and, to be fair, just about everyone in a policy-making position at the time - believed in 1999: America has honest corporate accounting; this lets investors make good decisions, and also forces management to behave responsibly; and the result is a stable, well-functioning financial system.

What percentage of all this turned out to be true? Zero.

What was truly impressive about the decade past, however, was our unwillingness, as a nation, to learn from our mistakes.

Even as the dot-com bubble deflated, credulous bankers and investors began inflating a new bubble in housing. Even after famous, admired companies like Enron and WorldCom were revealed to have been Potemkin corporations with facades built out of creative accounting, analysts and investors believed banks' claims about their own financial strength and bought into the hype about investments they didn't understand. Even after triggering a global economic collapse, and having to be rescued at taxpayers' expense, bankers wasted no time going right back to the culture of giant bonuses and excessive leverage.

Then there are the politicians. Even now, it's hard to get Democrats, President Obama included, to deliver a full-throated critique of the practices that got us into the mess we're in. And as for the Republicans: now that their policies of tax cuts and deregulation have led us into an economic quagmire, their prescription for recovery is - tax cuts and deregulation.

So let's bid a not at all fond farewell to the Big Zero - the decade in which we achieved nothing and learned nothing. Will the next decade be better? Stay tuned. Oh, and happy New Year.
(c) 2010 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

Instant Karma
New US War Target Gets Its Own Terror Icon
By Chris Floyd

Wow, that didn't take long at all. Scant days after the American war machine took the cloaking device off its direct military involvement in Yemen, we have an alleged attempted terrorist attack by an alleged attempted terrorist who, just scant hours after his capture, has allegedly confessed to getting his alleged attempted terrorist material from ... wait for it ... Yemen!

Yemen-trained terrorists on the loose in American airplanes! At Christmas! Great googily moogily! It's a good thing our boys are on the case over there right now, pounding the holy hell outta some of them Al Qaeder ragheads! And to think, a few pipsqueaky fifth columnists had been starting to wonder why we were killing dozens of innocent civilians on behalf of an authoritarian regime embroiled in a three-way civil war on the other side of the world.

Well, now they have their answer, by God! Alleged attempted terrorists allegedly trained in Yemen! What else do you need -- a freaking warrant or something? We would obviously be justified in nuking that desert hell-hole and everybody in it! Just think of it -- some guy with some kind of something on an airplane, right there in the Heartland! You gonna stand for that? Exterminate the brutes!

And yet, because we are good, because we are godly, because our heart is always in the right place, even when -- as President Obama himself admitted in his noble Nobel Speech -- we sometimes make mistakes, we have not brought down the full force of the iron rod that God himself has placed into our hands for the chastisement and right order of the world. No, there will be no nukes falling on the children of Yemen tonight. But boy howdy, they'd better get ready for some sure-enough heavy ordnance -- fired from distant ships, from far-flung bases and from computer consoles in leafy Stateside suburbs, where you can bravely kill some alleged attempted somebody-or-other (and everyone in their immediate vicinity), and still make it home in time to eat supper with the kids.

So here we are. Just one day after the alleged attempted terrorist incident in Detroit, we already have headlines blaring in the New York Times, the "paper of record," tying the alleged attempt to Yemen. How quick and convenient is that? Already the echo chamber is roaring with the all-justifying cacophony: "Terror, Yemen, al Qaeda, Homeland, Bomb, Terror, Yemen, Yemen, al Qaeda."

And it must be true, right? I mean, just look at how well-sourced the NYT story is. "A law enforcement official" -- Police captain? State trooper? G-Man? Traffic cop? -- said that the alleged attempted terrorist said he'd got his "explosive chemicals" from Yemen. (Elsewhere in the paper, other unnamed officials told NYT reporters that the alleged material strapped to the alleged attempted terrorist was "incendiary," not explosive. But who cares? "Bomb, Terror, Yemen!")

Of course, the NYT noted that "authorities have not independently corroborated the Yemen connection claimed by the suspect" (nor, they could have added, have they independently corroborated that the claim was actually made), but still, the completely anonymous "law enforcement official" said that the suspect's claim "was plausible," and even added: "I see no reason to discount it."

Well, it doesn't get more solid than that, does it? They nailed that story down so tight you couldn't pry it open with God's own crowbar. An anonymous source confirmed the plausibility of his own claim. Man, that's ironclad. It's certainly good enough to light up the media firmament with headlines linking "terror in the Heartland" with the empire's newest killing field in a volatile foreign land.

And it turns out that the suspected attempted terrorist, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was already on the radar of our all-encompassing security services -- just like the last Muslim terrorist in the heartland, Major Nidal Hasan. (And, for that matter, just like many of those accused of carrying out the 9/11 attack.) As in almost all of these cases, the question arises: Who is running whom? (For more, see "Darkness Renewed: Terror as a Tool of Empire.")

But this query is precisely the kind of pantywaist handwringing that rightly goes down in the flood of the he-man Homeland Security strutting that always follows these incidents. As we noted here the other day, there's no time for depth, context, history -- or even facts -- when the "frame" is screaming "Terror!"

In any case, whatever facts about the case -- or rather, shards and splinters of filtered information -- that are allowed to emerge from the depths of the security apparat, you can be absolutely sure that, as always, the "facts will be fixed around the policy."

And what is that policy? Why, endless war, of course! The American war machine (which now dominates most of "civilian" society as well) is like a shark: it must keep moving, and feeding, or die. "Terror, Bomb, Yemen!"
(c) 2010 Chris Floyd

A Classic Revisited
By Case Wagonvoord

The beauty of a classic is the ease with which it can be updated even as it is retold. Shakespeare's Hamlet moves easily between the centuries with each new production. Classic literature is infinitely adaptable to time and place.

Take the French classic The Story of O, which tells the tale of the training of a female submissive. In the French version, O was a female fashion photographer who loved every indignity to which she was forced to submit. In the updated version, the submissive in training is a male politician so driven by ambition he submits willing to the demands of his handlers.

There are some differences between the two:

* In the original, the heroine admitted her submissiveness; in the updated version, the protagonist is in denial.

* The original was erotic; the revision isn't.

Our hero is always willing to shill for his handlers. With the Senate passage of the healthcare reform bill, our hero has been trotted out to sing his masters' song, touting the bill as a major breakthrough when all it does is force the poor to buy insurance from private insurers and fining them if they fail to do so.

His minions accompany him with their familiar descant-: It's not perfect but it's the best we could get. Don't worry; we'll revisit it latter; it's only the first step in a long process.


It's the same song and dance they did when the Medicare drug bill was passed.

Nothing will change; nothing will be revisited. Their masters have spoken and the bill is as it is and as it will remain.

Our contemporary Story of O could well be subtitled Much Ado About Nothing.
(c) 2010 Case Wagenvoord. Some years ago, Case Wagenvoord turned off the tube and picked up a book. He's been trouble ever since. His articles have been posted at The Smirking Chimp, Countercurrents and Issues & Alibis. When he's not writing or brooding, he is carving hardwood bowls that have been displayed in galleries and shows across the country. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and two cats. His book, Open Letters to George W. Bush is available at

Cruisin' On Empty
By Mike Folkerth

A big after Christmas welcome to everyone; its 8 degrees in Cedaredge, Colorado, but your King of Simple News is HOT off the press today and the King of Simple himself is hot under the collar.

Humans are poor planners; of that there is little doubt. Every once in awhile, I see such compelling evidence of that reality as to leave me in a stupefied state of, "Say what?"

In an article from the Denver Post today, these words nearly jumped off the page at me: "Revenue for Colorado's school land trust is expected to plummet $21 million by June, ending a decade-long financial boon. The 24 percent revenue drop stems primarily from a decline in coal production, which is an indicator of the challenge the trust fund faces: It relies on market-driven, nonrenewable sources for most of its income." [emphasis added]. Well duh!

I have some terribly shocking news for these folks at the Denver Post along with those at the Colorado school land trust; The human species relies on market-driven, nonrenewable sources for its very existence!

While the sobering example above applies to Colorado; have no hopeful illusions that the same level of planning may not have occurred in your area. The entire United States economic underpinnings are based on the similar flawed math.

We have planned to expand forever, in world that remains the same size. We have planned to grow each and every year, by harvesting ever greater quantities of non-renewable resources. We have planned to grow population, and at the same time promise to give everyone an ever increasing sized piece of the shrinking pie. And now these people in Denver are shocked that finite resources are actually finite? Geez Leon, get a grip.

The article goes on to say, "The problem, according to even those who manage the land board, is that the trust lacks a business model and apparently always has." (Welcome to the American politics).

"No, we don't have a plan. We've gravitated towards 'bright-shiny-object projects,' and there isn't a long-term vision," said Brownell Bailey, who was appointed director of the Colorado State Land Board by Gov. Bill Ritter in August.

The real meat of this article may lie in this statement; "The proposed redevelopment of the old Lowry bombing range was one of the projects. Planned for just under 4,000 acres on a 26,000-acre tract, it was expected to include 260 acres of commercial development and 705 acres of open space and trails." (Green development...the same color as money). "But the deal fell through when the company working on the project couldn't secure water rights for the development."

These people spent days and months and years and untold $$$$$ without first considering that water may be a problem in an area that has fought with short water supplies for 50 years? In an area where water wars have raged in a high desert semi-arid region since time began! But money can buy anything...right?

The above example is the level of planning that exists across this country. And as I've stated a thousand times, "Exponential growth is the plan; it ain't possible is the problem." The speeding object may well have come into contact with the immovable force of natural physics.

In the mean time, our Congress led by our new President has just passed a horrific bill, masquerading as healthcare, and at the same time, has raised the National Debt limit to $12.4 Trillion, with a capital "T." Just as a little reminder, the National Debt in 1970 was around $381 Billion...with a "B." One Trillion is 1,000 Billion.

How will we pay for the new healthcare and the new debt limit? According to Barrack Hussein Obama, we'll pull out of this recession with hyper-growth. We will grow by increasing human population and consuming ever greater quantities of non-renewable resources. Just don't figure on Colorado holding up their end of deal; our cupboard is about bare.
(c) 2010 Mike Folkerth is not your run-of-the-mill author of economics. Nor does he write in boring lecture style. Not even close. The former real estate broker, developer, private real estate fund manager, auctioneer, Alaskan bush pilot, restaurateur, U.S. Navy veteran, heavy equipment operator, taxi cab driver, fishing guide, horse packer...(I won't go on, it's embarrassing) writes from experience and plain common sense. He is the author of "The Biggest Lie Ever Believed."

The Quotable Quote...

"When any government, or any church for that matter, undertakes to say to its subjects, 'This you may not read, this you may not see, this you are forbidden to know,' the end result is tyranny and oppression, no matter how holy the motives."
~~~ Robert Heinlein

One Day We'll All Be Terrorists
By Chris Hedges

Syed Fahad Hashmi can tell you about the dark heart of America. He knows that our First Amendment rights have become a joke, that habeas corpus no longer exists and that we torture, not only in black sites such as those at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan or at Guantanamo Bay, but also at the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in Lower Manhattan. Hashmi is a U.S. citizen of Muslim descent imprisoned on two counts of providing and conspiring to provide material support and two counts of making and conspiring to make a contribution of goods or services to al-Qaida. As his case prepares for trial, his plight illustrates that the gravest threat we face is not from Islamic extremists, but the codification of draconian procedures that deny Americans basic civil liberties and due process. Hashmi would be a better person to tell you this, but he is not allowed to speak.

This corruption of our legal system, if history is any guide, will not be reserved by the state for suspected terrorists, or even Muslim Americans. In the coming turmoil and economic collapse, it will be used to silence all who are branded as disruptive or subversive. Hashmi endures what many others, who are not Muslim, will endure later. Radical activists in the environmental, globalization, anti-nuclear, sustainable agriculture and anarchist movements-who are already being placed by the state in special detention facilities with Muslims charged with terrorism-have discovered that his fate is their fate. Courageous groups have organized protests, including vigils outside the Manhattan detention facility. They can be found at or On Martin Luther King Day, this Jan. 18 at 6 p.m. EST, protesters will hold a large vigil in front of the MCC on 150 Park Row in Lower Manhattan to call for a return of our constitutional rights. Join them if you can.

The case against Hashmi, like most of the terrorist cases launched by the Bush administration, is appallingly weak and built on flimsy circumstantial evidence. This may be the reason the state has set up parallel legal and penal codes to railroad those it charges with links to terrorism. If it were a matter of evidence, activists like Hashmi, who is accused of facilitating the delivery of socks to al-Qaida, would probably never be brought to trial.

Hashmi, who if convicted could face up to 70 years in prison, has been held in solitary confinement for more than 21/2 years. Special administrative measures, known as SAMs, have been imposed by the attorney general to prevent or severely restrict communication with other prisoners, attorneys, family, the media and people outside the jail. He also is denied access to the news and other reading material. Hashmi is not allowed to attend group prayer. He is subject to 24-hour electronic monitoring and 23-hour lockdown. He must shower and go to the bathroom on camera. He can write one letter a week to a single member of his family, but he cannot use more than three pieces of paper. He has no access to fresh air and must take his one hour of daily recreation in a cage. His "proclivity for violence" is cited as the reason for these measures although he has never been charged or convicted with committing an act of violence.

"My brother was an activist," Hashmi's brother, Faisal, told me by phone from his home in Queens. "He spoke out on Muslim issues, especially those dealing with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. His arrest and torture have nothing to do with providing ponchos and socks to al-Qaida, as has been charged, but the manipulation of the law to suppress activists and scare the Muslim American community. My brother is an example. His treatment is meant to show Muslims what will happen to them if they speak about the plight of Muslims. We have lost every single motion to preserve my brother's humanity and remove the special administrative measures. These measures are designed solely to break the psyche of prisoners and terrorize the Muslim community. These measures exemplify the malice towards Muslims at home and the malice towards the millions of Muslims who are considered as non-humans in Iraq and Afghanistan."

The extreme sensory deprivation used on Hashmi is a form of psychological torture, far more effective in breaking and disorienting detainees. It is torture as science. In Germany, the Gestapo broke bones while its successor, the communist East German Stasi, broke souls. We are like the Stasi. We have refined the art of psychological disintegration and drag bewildered suspects into secretive courts when they no longer have the mental and psychological capability to defend themselves.

"Hashmi's right to a fair trial has been abridged," said Michael Ratner, the president of the Center for Constitutional Rights. "Much of the evidence in the case has been classified under CIPA, and thus Hashmi has not been allowed to review it. The prosecution only recently turned over a significant portion of evidence to the defense. Hashmi may not communicate with the news media, either directly or through his attorneys. The conditions of his detention have impacted his mental state and ability to participate in his own defense.

"The prosecution's case against Hashmi, an outspoken activist within the Muslim community, abridges his First Amendment rights and threatens the First Amendment rights of others," Ratner added. "While Hashmi's political and religious beliefs, speech and associations are constitutionally protected, the government has been given wide latitude by the court to use them as evidence of his frame of mind and, by extension, intent. The material support charges against him depend on criminalization of association. This could have a chilling effect on the First Amendment rights of others, particularly in activist and Muslim communities."

Constitutionally protected statements, beliefs and associations can now become a crime. Dissidents, even those who break no laws, can be stripped of their rights and imprisoned without due process. It is the legal equivalent of preemptive war. The state can detain and prosecute people not for what they have done, or even for what they are planning to do, but for holding religious or political beliefs that the state deems seditious. The first of those targeted have been observant Muslims, but they will not be the last.

"Most of the evidence is classified," Jeanne Theoharis, an associate professor of political science at Brooklyn College who taught Hashmi, told me, "but Hashmi is not allowed to see it. He is an American citizen. But in America you can now go to trial and all the evidence collected against you cannot be reviewed. You can spend 21/2 years in solitary confinement before you are convicted of anything. There has been attention paid to extraordinary rendition, Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib with this false idea that if people are tried in the United States things will be fair. But what allowed Guantanamo to happen was the devolution of the rule of law here at home, and this is not only happening to Hashmi."

Hashmi was, like so many of those arrested during the Bush years, briefly a poster child in the "war on terror." He was apprehended in Britain on June 6, 2006, on a U.S. warrant. His arrest was the top story on the CBS and NBC nightly news programs, which used graphics that read "Terror Trail" and "Web of Terror." He was held for 11 months at Belmarsh Prison in London and then became the first U.S. citizen to be extradited by Britain. The year before his arrest, Hashmi, a graduate of Brooklyn College, had completed his master's degree in international relations at London Metropolitan University. His case has no more substance than the one against the seven men arrested on suspicion of plotting to blow up the Sears Tower, a case where, even though there were five convictions after two mistrials, an FBI deputy director acknowledged that the plan was more "aspirational rather than operational." And it mirrors the older case of the Palestinian activist Sami Al-Arian, now under house arrest in Virginia, who has been hounded by the Justice Department although he should legally have been freed. Judge Leonie Brinkema, currently handling the Al-Arian case, in early March, questioned the U.S. attorney's actions in Al-Arian's plea agreement saying curtly: "I think there's something more important here, and that's the integrity of the Justice Department."

The case against Hashmi revolves around the testimony of Junaid Babar, also an American citizen. Babar, in early 2004, stayed with Hashmi at his London apartment for two weeks. In his luggage, the government alleges, Babar had raincoats, ponchos and waterproof socks, which Babar later delivered to a member of al-Qaida in south Waziristan, Pakistan. It was alleged that Hashmi allowed Babar to use his cell phone to call conspirators in other terror plots.

"Hashmi grew up here, was well known here, was very outspoken, very charismatic and very political," said Theoharis. "This is really a message being sent to American Muslims about the cost of being politically active. It is not about delivering alleged socks and ponchos and rain gear. Do you think al-Qaida can't get socks and ponchos in Pakistan? The government is planning to introduce tapes of Hashmi's political talks while he was at Brooklyn College at the trial. Why are we willing to let this happen? Is it because they are Muslims, and we think it will not affect us? People who care about First Amendment rights should be terrified. This is one of the crucial civil rights issues of our time. We ignore this at our own peril."

Babar, who was arrested in 2004 and has pleaded guilty to five counts of material support for al-Qaida, also faces up to 70 years in prison. But he has agreed to serve as a government witness and has already testified for the government in terror trials in Britain and Canada. Babar will receive a reduced sentence for his services, and many speculate he will be set free after the Hashmi trial. Since there is very little evidence to link Hashmi to terrorist activity, the government will rely on Babar to prove intent. This intent will revolve around alleged conversations and statements Hashmi made in Babar's presence. Hashmi, who was a member of the New York political group Al Muhajiroun as a student at Brooklyn College, has made provocative statements, including calling America "the biggest terrorist in the world," but Al Muhajiroun is not defined by the government as a terrorist organization. Membership in the group is not illegal. And our complicity in acts of state terror is a historical fact.

There will be more Hashmis, and the Justice Department, planning for future detentions, set up in 2006 a segregated facility, the Communication Management Unit, at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind. Nearly all the inmates transferred to Terre Haute are Muslims. A second facility has been set up at Marion, Ill., where the inmates again are mostly Muslim but also include a sprinkling of animal rights and environmental activists, among them Daniel McGowan, who was charged with two arsons at logging operations in Oregon. His sentence was given "terrorism enhancements" under the Patriot Act. Amnesty International has called the Marion prison facility "inhumane." All calls and mail-although communication customarily is off-limits to prison officials-are monitored in these two Communication Management Units. Communication among prisoners is required to be only in English. The highest-level terrorists are housed at the Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility, known as Supermax, in Florence, Colo., where prisoners have almost no human interaction, physical exercise or mental stimulation, replicating the conditions for most of those held at Guantanamo. If detainees are transferred from Guantanamo to the prison in Thomson, Ill., they will find little change. They will endure Guantanamo-like conditions in colder weather.

Our descent is the familiar disease of decaying empires. The tyranny we impose on others we finally impose on ourselves. The influx of non-Muslim American activists into these facilities is another ominous development. It presages the continued dismantling of the rule of law, the widening of a system where prisoners are psychologically broken by sensory deprivation, extreme isolation and secretive kangaroo courts where suspects are sentenced on rumors and innuendo and denied the right to view the evidence against them. Dissent is no longer the duty of the engaged citizen but is becoming an act of terrorism.
(c) 2010 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. He is the author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning. His latest book is American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. His latest book is, "Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle."

Well That Sure Sucked
Good Riddende To The Devil Decade
By David Michael Green

As I understand it, certain pundits are struggling with finding an appropriate name for the decade now mercifully coming to an end.

What's the problem, I wonder? Are their word processor dictionaries redacted of all four-letter words? I mean, I could think of a few dandies, right of the top of my head.

Short of the 1860s or 1930s, this was perhaps the most disastrous decade in American history, and it deserves a good goddamed label to celebrate that fine achievement.

More on that below. Meanwhile, whatever the appropriate term, it's important to keep things in perspective. I think the most crucial notion to understand about our time - and perhaps the only way to make sense of it - is to see it as the point where the process of imperial decline shifted into third gear. That explains a lot. I like to think that even Americans wouldn't be capable of the sick stupidity we've witnessed over these harrowing years without the effects of rapid altitude decline and the loss of cabin pressure that the ship of state has been experiencing during this era.

Perhaps I'm too generous toward a people who don't deserve a lot of that sentiment, either because of their diminished intelligence, generosity, compassion, sophistication or all of the above. I imagine that would be the feeling on the streets of, say, Fallujah, where the attitude might well be confined to a lovely blend of schadenfreude and indifference, were it not for the fact that the paroxysms of the flailing elephant send so many fruit stands flying as the mortally wounded beast goes careening down the main street of the global village, toward inevitable defeat in its struggle with unforgiving gravity.

America probably must come down to earth again, its abortive 'century' of world dominance having anyhow been artificially fabricated from a toxic combination of circumstance and theft right from the beginning. I can even say that's not necessarily a bad thing. But it is, of course, all relative to what replaces Pax Americana. Anyone who assumes that it can only get better on the international front isn't thinking real clearly or real historically. Indeed, in all fairness, the US may well have run the most benign and least imperial empire in history - though not for lack of trying by the likes of, say, Paul Wolfowitz or John Bolton.

Thus it may well be that the next big thing is even less pretty. Watching the Chinese government in action at home, where they are unfettered, doesn't exactly inspire confidence in what a Pax Sinica would bring once they are also unfettered abroad. If the same cats who brought us Tiananmen Square and Tibet are next gonna be seeking planetary domination, for once in my life I may actually come to appreciate the value of nuclear weapons...

But I digress. As I was saying before those proverbially inscrutable Asian aspiring hegemons so rudely interrupted me, the fall of American global dominance was only ever a matter of time in the coming. What is most lamentable, however, is the way in which we've handled that transition, and most especially, the degree to which we've exacerbated it. In short, it didn't have to be like this. If the post-war French and the British represent two rather caricatured but nevertheless illuminative models of how to grapple with the end of empire, we have unfortunately elected to adopt the violent and undignified Gaulist approach. We even went with a actual full-scale replication of the draining Vietnam experience. At this rate, we'll be invading Algeria next. Heck, maybe that's just what Bush meant to do, but he pushed the wrong button, mixing up, as he was wont to do, those Islamic countries whose names start with the letter 'A' (watch out Albania!).

Probably we'll just settle for repeating the French experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, instead of actually attacking Algeria. What seems more assured is that we will replicate the catastrophic domestic meltdowns France experienced in 1958 and 1968, as the lunacies of reactionary politics and the realities of tectonic change met on the French battlefield, and the state nearly took on the role of the slaughtered innocent civilian bystander, or what the military nowadays likes to call collateral damage.

If that happens, few will bear more responsibility than Barack Obama, who in less than a year's time has managed to revive a comatose Republican Party that - like Jimi Hendrix, was dying from asphyxiation of its own vomit - whilst simultaneously flushing away the good will that he and his own party enjoyed down into the overflowing sewers of failed American presidencies. Miraculously, he even managed to do all of this without any serious 'mistake', epic blunder, or fresh crisis on his watch. About the lamest positive act Obama did all year was the decidedly inartful and astonishingly unnecessary comment he made about the Cambridge, Massachusetts Police Department. If all you're counting is the proactive mistakes made, Obama had fewer in a year than many presidents do in a typical week.

On the other hand, if you include blown opportunities into the mix, perhaps only Herbert Hoover can equal this president's record. If you look at what he didn't do, in short, it's hard to imagine a more prolific record of non-achievement. Does he know this? Sometimes - especially when I watched his Afghanistan speech about getting in so that we could turn right around and get back out - I wondered if it could be possible that he has taken it as his task to quietly and heroically direct the managed decline of the American empire, even at the cost of his own presidency.

That, of course, is pretty hard to imagine, but more to the point it is really unnecessary to do it this way, anyhow. We can be a lot better than that, even if decline is inevitable. (And it may not be, at least in an absolute sense. Relative decline cannot be escaped, however, if for no other reasons than that China has other plans. As does India, Europe and Latin America.) A forward-thinking set of politics could really advance the nation and its economy in a hugely positive way, if only the accretionary shackles of predatory rentier pretend-capitalism could be busted off, freeing American society to realize its potential.

To choose but the most proximate example, we could have had real healthcare reform, I believe, if Obama had fought for it like George W. Bush or Lyndon Johnson fought for their respective legislative agendas. To see what I mean, think of Bush hawking the manifestly idiotic idea of invading Iraq. When he first began his marketing campaign for the war, most Americans wanted no more part of that imperial folly than they were hankering for a good dose of the clap. But Bush and his people were as relentless as they were ubiquitous, and in a few months time they turned public opinion, managing to get about two-thirds of the country lined up behind their plans for a most excellent adventure in Mesopotamia. Obama, on the other hand, is possessed of rhetorical skills that drive someone like W - who couldn't have conjugated his way (in English!) out of tenth grade, even after his grandpa paid for the new school gymnasium - nearly apoplectic just thinking about them. And yet the bloodless current inhabitant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue can't be bothered to work up either a passion or a sweat to sell his policy wares. Or is it that he just realizes, as so many progressives now have, that what he's selling just isn't worth getting excited about?

These two presidencies really do illustrate all too nicely the pathos that is twenty-first century America. Consider their respective situations, and what each did with those circumstances. Bush came into office after marketing himself as a moderate, after one of the most contentious election meltdowns in American history, with a Congress almost exactly evenly divided (and the Senate soon to fall into the hands of the Democrats), with no particular crisis going on short of a mild recession, and with really no mandate of any sort, apart from hopefully not acting as ill-suited and unprepared for the job as he seemed to be during the campaign (no worries there, though - Cheney and Rumsfeld and Powell would be keeping him on the right path - remember?). So what does he do under these circumstances? He adopts a radical regressive agenda. He polarizes the country. He lets loose a marketing campaign of epic intensity, he hammers Congress, he aggrandizes to himself probably more unilateral power than any president in history. And he gets virtually everything he wants. If you can hold your nose long enough to get past the results of his policies, it's quite an amazing story of boldness and presidential success, made all the more remarkable because of how astonishingly bad his ideas were for the country, and how transparent that fact was even at the time. This guy was selling melted poisonous ice-cubes to Eskimos in wintertime, and he not only made the sale, he got them to want the purchase.

Obama, on the other hand, is dealt almost the opposite hand when he comes to office. He is elected in a clear and compelling victory. He gets a Congress with his party controlling both houses by lopsided 60-40 margins. He receives a clear mandate for change, and he is backed by a stunning outpouring of goodwill, both at home and abroad. He's got crises that everyone agrees need some serious tending to. In short, you could hardly come up with a better set of circumstances for presidential success if you sat down and created them yourself. So what does he do with this gift? Again, the opposite of Bush. He demands nothing. He fights for nothing. He negotiates with everyone, including those who have zero intention of voting for a bill that he is nevertheless allowing them to dilute, and those (generally the same folks) explicitly trying to ruin his presidency.

And what does he have to show for it? More looting of the public fisc by the already fantastically wealthy. Policies that would be heartily applauded by the far right if enacted by Bush and a Republican Congress. But, since they aren't, he is hated by those same people anyhow. And, as an extra added bonus, he's managed to alienate millions of progressives and young first-time enthusiasts in the political system who rallied to his cause - thinking it was their cause - in 2008. This is an astonishing act of cynicism for the history books, and one which will come back to haunt both Obama and his party in a huge way. For which I, personally, am delighted.

However, Obama's abuse of real people who really care about their country, and who for precisely that reason rolled up their sleeves and worked their butts off to get him into the White House, will also have grave repercussions for what's left of the republic - and those consequences I do happen to care about. There is huge anger out there, huge antipathy to politics as usual, and huge reluctance to get fooled again. The situation is ripe, the moment pregnant. My guess is the next stop is some form of radical demagoguery (can you say "Palin"?), perhaps followed by a complete abandonment altogether of the two-century-plus American experiment in democracy, when the demagoguery tanks even worse than Obama. Yep, the guy who just won the Nobel Prize could be the guy who unravels democracy in America. Of course, he's had a tremendous amount of help, so we can't give him all the blame. But more and more he looks to me like James Buchanan, the man widely considered the worst president in American history. And why? Because the fifteenth president continued practicing politics as usual as crisis for the republic loomed large. As a result of trying to please everyone, Buchanan pleased no one, lost popularity, had a one-term presidency, split the Democratic Party, and stood by as the country plunged toward civil war. Why does that sound a bit too frighteningly familiar to anyone besides me?

America has been 'blessed' in the twenty-first century with two presidents who are fine exemplars of their parties. One stood for the absolute worst tendencies in American politics, but knew his convictions and would take no prisoners fighting to win at all costs (especially somebody else's costs). The other seems to have no ideational tendencies of particular note whatsoever, and would certainly not be so rude as to break decorum in any way, even for purposes of advocating for something that might actually improve the condition of the country. I mean, what would people think?

Seeing this talented African-American president benefit so much from the struggles of prior generations of progressives, and from the massive outpouring of goodwill from those who need deliverance and wanted to believe his rhetoric of hope - only for him to win election and then muster the full weight of the oligarchy-sponsored American government to stand on their throats, choking off the life of the country and the planet - well, that's a fitting end to this particular sorry decade.

It began, equally fittingly, with the Enron debacle, which demonstrated emphatically the nature of a society that has come to worship above all else a greed so rapacious that alleged people could even contemplate tripping electrical system blackouts for an entire region of the country, just to make an extra buck. So what did we do about that? How about institutionalize it as a full-blown system of governance, and choose for president a guy who was up to his faux cowboy belt-buckle in the Enronics of Kenny Boy Lay, one of his biggest contributors?

Well, of course, 'choose' isn't quite the right term, is it? Shortly thereafter came Bush vs. Gore, when the United States Supreme Court jettisoned any and every pretense of dispassionate apolitical jurisprudence in favor of a judicial-led regressive coup so blatant that it actually issued an order halting the counting of the votes. You know your democracy is toast when masses don't assemble in the streets over that one. Iranians do. We, on the other hand, just wanted it all to be over.

The new president, as stripped of a mandate as he was of a conscience, immediately proceeded to begin dismantling wholesale the bipartisan foreign and domestic pillars of the post-war Pax Americana system, many of which had even survived the Reagan years. Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty? Gone. International Criminal Court? Gutted. Kyoto? Abandoned. Transatlantic alliance? That was 'Old Europe'. Massive tax cut for the already fantastically wealthy, leaving gaping revenue gaps in its place? You betcha. Let's not forget. This was already a radical presidency on September 10, 2001.

Then, of course, the next day came. As the events of that day came into focus, my first thought was for the poor people in those buildings. But I must confess that my second thought was that having this occur on the Bush administration's watch could only mean much ugliness around the corner. I felt a bit guilty for thinking about politics at the time, but I must say in retrospect: Check. Got that one right.

There is much evidence to suggest that the politically correct conspiracy theory about 9/11 - that is, the conventional story - has both some gaping holes and some holy lies in it. But even if we leave aside the horrifying implications of that thought, the idea that a president who was minimally criminally negligent on terrorism policy could benefit so much for so long from this tragedy is yet another reminder of how bad the decade was.

Then came Afghanistan, which shortly thereafter became one of the myriad casualties of Iraq. There are no words for this. There is no meaningful difference - in law, morality, politics, culture or civilization - between Saddam's 1990 invasion of Kuwait and Bush's 2003 invasion of Iraq. The only divergence between the two acts of pure aggression is that when the hegemon does it, there's no one around to block or punish the crime. Although I must say, in the longer term, the gods of karma have gotten better on that score - notwithstanding the fact that Bush and Cheney and the rest of the cowardly crew who ordered up this outrage have so far escaped more or less untouched.

History will also record this as the decade when the evidence for global warming became so compelling that even George Bush endorsed it. And then we did nothing. If this country was a drunkard spouse who was bringing a hailstorm of destruction down on the family, you'd toss the creep out on the street and get a divorce. We haven't. And, really, when you think about it - why should we? There are plenty of other planets out there to choose from once we wreck this one, aren't there?

Of course there are myriad further tales of woe to be told. After all, this was the decade in which the thirty year assault of radical regressivism came to full fruition, and was there for people to observe in all its glory. The damages have been incalculable, and I haven't even gotten to Sarah Palin yet.

If there was one bright spot, it was the seeming recognition by the American public that this full glory of regressive politics was a fairly horrifying prospect to behold, once stripped by a sufficient dose of reality immersion to reveal the truth behind the marketing slogans. Americans seemed to finally come to their senses just a bit, and decide that the thirteenth century was best left in the history books, after all.

But then along came Barack Obama to provide the fitting end to it all. Crushing any sense of possible recovery or redemption (and even his own presidency) on the altar of perpetual obedience to corporate predation, he has now made the decade complete in every way. Not only has he abandoned any meaningful solutions for the multiple crises he inherited, he has absolved by silence the folks who produced those very catastrophes. No, strike that. He has more than absolved them, he has revivified them.

If there is any bright spot in the whole affair, it is that conditions are fertile for potentially big change in this country. But, then, this is America, a place where a corporate milquetoast like Harry Reid defines the supposed left, and is considered some sort of Bolshevik revolutionary. Or worse, I should say that it is an increasingly desperate, collapsing empire America, where the chances that such big change could be really ugly are lots higher than not. Really, pushed off its fat ass toward one political pole or another, do you see this country careening more toward twenty-first century Sweden, or 18th century Prussia? And when you look at the actors and energies out there working hard to move the nation in one direction or the other, just who seems to have the horses today? (Hint: The Tea Partyers are not progressives in this particular tableau. Perhaps in Germany circa 1933, but not in the America of 2009.)

So let's just hunker down for the new year, hope for the best, and call this one "The Devil's Decade", eh? Chalk it up to the red guy with the tail and pitchfork. Maybe we'll do better next time, but so far in the twenty-first century the score stands at: Satan, one; Humanity, zero.

Of course, I don't really believe in the Devil. Or in angels, or saints or miracles, or any of the other human-made dramatis personae and sundry religious claptrap that get us into so much trouble.

No, I don't really think there is a dude running around out there who is the Devil.

Whole countries, on the other hand...?

Well, now. That's another matter entirely.
(c) 2010 David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York. He is delighted to receive readers' reactions to his articles, but regrets that time constraints do not always allow him to respond. More of his work can be found at his website,

The Dead Letter Office...

Heil Obama,

Dear Gouverneur Daniels,

Congratulations, you have just been awarded the "Vidkun Quisling Award!" Your name will now live throughout history with such past award winners as Marcus Junius Brutus, Judas Iscariot, Benedict Arnold, George Stephanopoulos, Ralph Nader, George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Prescott Bush, Fredo Bush, Vidkun Quisling and last year's winner Volksjudge Sonia (get whitey) Sotomayor.

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, your ability to blame Atheists for religious wars, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Rethuglican Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Iron Cross first class with diamond clusters presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 03-15-2010. We salute you Herr Daniels, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

The Fear Decade
Columnists everywhere are attempting to name the decade just ended. Here's my nomination: The Fear Decade.
By Ted Rall

Since 9/11, We've Embraced Our Inner Coward

Home of the free and the brave. Live free or die. Shoot first; ask questions later. Kill 'em all, let God sort 'em out. These were the mottos of a brash, impetuous, audacious-to-a-fault nation.

That nation is dead.

Once we Americas did brave things: We sat on boats, crossing the English Channel, knowing that most of us would die on the beach in Normandy. We sat at the lunch counter in the Deep South, waiting for white goons to beat us up. We also did brave things that were stupid: When the president sent us to Vietnam, some of us went, risking death. Others went to Canada, sacrificing everything for principle. We bungee jumped. We tried New Coke. Bravery can be dumb.

But it's still brave.

Then came 9/11/01. It was the defining event of the decade that ends today, a fin-de-siecle moment for a previously proud nation's once glorious history.

The Fear Decade had begun.

Bin Laden wanted the destruction of the World Trade Center to smack oblivious Americans' upside their collective heads, to draw their attention to their nation's toxic foreign policy (especially in the Middle East), maybe even to demand that the U.S. stop propping up dictators. It didn't work.

Rather than prompt them to reassess their government's behavior, Americans got angry. Anger, as any shrink will tell you, comes from fear. And fear makes you do stupid things.

Fear of future attacks. Fear of Muslims. Of anyone wearing a turban. Foreigners. The next thing we knew, the paranoid delusionals leading us convinced us that fearful people and things were everywhere. Mail full of anthrax. Gas stations stalked by snipers. Threat levels: orange, red, etc. (but it's always orange). Avian flu. Eeek! Stop these things! Do whatever it takes!

Throwing innocent Muslim men in prison? It was worth it to (possibly, probably not) prevent one attack. Torture? We couldn't take any chances-what if the victim knew that a bomb was about to go off? Because one lunatic tried to blow up his joke of a shoe bomb on a flight from Paris to Miami, America's 800 million air travelers are ordered to take off their 1.6 billion shoes every year. Because a half-dozen Brits thought about trying to blow up planes using hair peroxide and Tang (yes, really), millions of nursing mothers were told to dump bottles containing thousands of gallons of breast milk into trashcans at airport security checkpoints. Never mind the scientists who said such plots couldn't work. And now, the most fearsome fear of all: the Paris-to-Detroit underwear bomber. Airport security is about to turn really ugly.

Governments act stupid and mean. That's normal. What the Fear Decade made different was us. It made us let the government do whatever it wanted.

Fear is irrational. As I pointed out at the time, Iraq's longest-range missiles couldn't reach Europe, much less the United States. In other words, it didn't matter if Saddam had had WMDs. It didn't matter to us, anyway. Yet we destroyed our economy and murdered two million people to invade Iraq.

I watched a legless vet, humiliated and detained by a TSA agent as he repeatedly explained why the metal detector kept going off: his body was full of titanium, courtesy of the Iraqi insurgency. I watched. So did other passengers. We said nothing.

We were afraid.

Not just at the airport. We were afraid at work. Unions were deader than dead, the government was in the hands of gangster capitalists, and the economy started tanking the instant Bill Clinton began packing his bags. We were overleveraged, maxed out and one paycheck away from losing everything. Ask for a raise? Demand longer vacations? Are you crazy, brother? Like Jews assembled in the freezing courtyard of a concentration camp, we stared straight ahead, terrified, hoping not to be noticed, to live to see the next "selection."

Fear everywhere! National Guardskids, all of 20 years old and decked out in their best Kevlar, brandishing automatic weapons taller than they are at women and children as they came out of commuter rail stations. Annoying, sure-but what if...what if...what if something happened? We heard that the government was listening to our phone calls and reading our email but instead of summoning up outrage at this brazen and illegal violation of privacy we took cold comfort in that hoary chestnut: "If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear."

But we were afraid. We all were. We still are.

Then we elected Barack Obama. We didn't vote for him because he was accomplished. He wasn't. Or because we liked his ideas. He hardly had any. We voted for him because he seemed so calm.

But he was afraid too. More than that, he wanted us to keep being scared-of the same exact stuff Bush had had us so frightened of! Lions and tigers and Muslims, oh my! The Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, even though the Pentagon said there were fewer than 100 Al Qaeda guys in the whole country! Iraq, still, although he couldn't quite explain why, and the bad guys who didn't do anything wrong at Guantanamo, just in case.

Now it's all fear, all the time. Fear of diseases (H1N1). Fear of evil banks (feed them or they'll go away, which would somehow be worse). We were arrogant once, loud and silly and funny and crazy as hell, and we were Americans.

Now we're timid and pissy and pissed off, and I don't recognize, much less like, what we've become.
(c) 2009 Ted Rall is the author, with Pablo G. Callejo, of the new graphic memoir "The Year of Loving Dangerously." He is also the author of the Gen X manifesto "Revenge of the Latchkey Kids."

Beyond The Darkest Hours, Grassroots Rising
By Ronnie Cummins

Winter in America 2009. Passing through the darkest period of the winter solstice, shrouded by the gloom and doom of climate destruction, war, and economic depression, making our way around the broken promises of "change we can believe in," we nonetheless find ourselves celebrating life and the redemptive power of a global grassroots revolution. In the wake of the failure of the Copenhagen Climate conference, and the "business as usual" insanity of Obama and the governing elite, millions of us are terminally fed up and fired up for action.

A critical mass of food and farm activists, North and South, are becoming aware that the second decade of the 21st Century likely marks the end of the road for chemical, energy, and water-intensive food and agriculture. And, as the energy, climate, and economic crises converge, a growing corps of climate activists understand that we are witnessing the beginning of the end for fossil fuel-based industry and transportation, energy-intensive housing and suburban sprawl, and a "profit-at-any-cost" economy based upon over-consumption, war, and commercial conquest.

As the winter of discontent turns, it's time to bury our illusions and prepare for the battle of our lives. As the Director of the Organic Consumers Association, I invite you to join us on the organic road, the Via Organica, as we struggle to dismantle the old system and rebuild the new, starting with our local households, communities, and regions. You can sign up for our newsletter at.

Beyond the Darkest Days

Is This What Democracy Looks Like?

In 2009, indentured politicians, bought and sold by the corporate elite, crushed our hopes for peace and prosperity by spending trillions of our tax dollars on war, Wall Street, and corporate welfare. As a critical mass now understand, these trillions could and should have gone toward financing organic transitions, public health, and a Green New Deal. Given the fact that just over a year ago we drove the warmongers and corporate criminals of the Bush Administration out of office, and replaced them with a new set of so-called liberal Democrats, we should already be well on our way to changing course, averting economic meltdown and climate catastrophe. Instead Obama and his pompous cohorts have disillusioned an entire generation and stabbed the living Earth in the back. Riding on a Death Train full-throttle toward the abyss, it matters little whether the Commander in Chief is an outright fascist, like Bush, or merely a coward and a fraud, like Obama. Circumstances leave us no choice but to organize a mutiny and stop the Death Train.

Will We Survive the Climate Crisis?

World leaders abandoned the UN climate talks in Copenhagen without a binding agreement to reduce the threat of deadly greenhouse gases. The level of CO2 in the atmosphere, compounded by an excess of methane (from factory farms and rotting garbage) and nitrous oxide (from chemical fertilizers) already exceeds the dangerous tipping point of 350 parts per million (ppm). We're currently at 387ppm. Even if we are able to reduce CO2 to 350ppm, we will still experience a 2.7 degree Fahrenheit increase in temperature by 2100, making life on the planet difficult, but still possible.

If we continue with business as usual, in 2100 the level will be 965ppm CO2 (+ 8.6 F). If the world acts on proposals for CO2 reduction confirmed in Copenhagen, in 2100 the level will be 770ppm CO2 (+ 7 F). That's the best-case scenario right now, a seven degree Fahrenheit average temperature rise, which some predict could come as early as 2060, in time for you or your children to experience Climate Hell first-hand. Unless we reverse global warming, the Earth, which is expected to have nine billion people in 2050, will have a carrying capacity for only one billion. This means billions will die.

If it's hard for you to imagine what life might be like as sea levels rise, droughts and floods become ever more common, crop failure becomes routine, the world's forests burn, glacier-fed rivers dry up, and a quarter of the planet's mammals go extinct, read this terrifying short story, "Diary of an Interesting Year."

Global Warming: An Organic Future, or No Future

One way or another, either planned or through necessity, humanity will return to organic and traditional agriculture, because it is the only farming system that can supply the world with sufficient quantities of healthy food in the emerging era of global warming, erratic weather, declining fossil fuels, and water scarcity. There is no other way.

In 2009, the Organic Consumers Association spent a good part of our efforts focusing on the connection between global warming and industrial agriculture and the promise of organic agriculture to mitigate and reverse climate change by:

1) Drastically reducing the global industrialized food system's 44-57% share of global greenhouse gas emissions (CO2, methane, and nitrous oxide) and 2) Sequestering billions of tons of CO2 in the soil.

If we convert the world's 3.5 billion acres of farmland to organic, we can sequester 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions, removing excess CO2 from the atmosphere and storing it in the soil, where it belongs. If we also organically manage most of the world's 11 billion acres of pastures, rangelands, and forests we can potentially sequester 100% of greenhouse gas emissions. This long-term process of organic transition will buy us the time to reduce fossil fuel use by 90% and retrofit our economy, transportation, and housing to renewable, clean energy.

Organic Transitions: Taking on the Fertilizer, Garbage and Sludge Industries

Why is there so much carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide in the atmosphere and not enough carbon organic matter in the soil? Corporate agribusiness, industrial forestry, the garbage and sewage industry and agricultural biotechnology have literally killed the climate stabilizing, carbon sink capacity of the Earth's living soil. Industrial agriculture and forestry have eroded and depleted the soil food web, annihilating soil microorganisms and destroying plants, trees, and soil's natural capacity to clean the atmosphere and sequester CO2. This climate-disrupting ecocide is a direct result of the suicidal use of billions of pounds of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers, soil destroying pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, insecticidal GMO crops, factory farm waste, and toxic sewage sludge--instead of feeding the soil and maintaining soil vitality (and its ability to sequester carbon) with organic compost and fertilizers and cover crops. In 2010 OCA and our allies will begin to expose this deadly chemical and GMO attack on the planet's soil food web and make genuine certified organic fertilizer and compost the norm, rather than just the green alternative.

In the US, we throw away, as food waste, 40% of all of our food each year. Production of that wasted food accounts for more than one-quarter of the US's total annual freshwater consumption and equates to 300 million barrels of oil. Even worse, this enormous volume of non-composted food waste rotting in landfills emits tremendous amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas 20-70 times more damaging than C02.

In the U.S. today about 80 gallons of water per day per person is flushed or dumped down the drain into our vast and ill-designed sewage system, much of it being valuable potable water flushed down the toilet. In the sewage or wastewater stream, this household sewage (unfortunately, in most households, already carrying toxic chemicals from non-organic body care, home cleaning products and pharmaceutical drugs) is mixed with hospital and industrial toxins and pathogens, pharmaceuticals, street storm water run-off and chemical lawn and farm run-off as it enters into the so-called "sewage treatment" plant. After nominal "treatment" this wastewater is sent downstream for the next community to chemically treat it and declare it "safe," while billions of pounds of toxic sludge are left behind.

Instead of isolating and containing America's toxic sewage sludge as hazardous waste--which is what it is--industry and city governments save money by renaming this toxic sludge "biosolids" and spreading it on non-organic farms (and backyard gardens and public lands) across the country. One of the most outrageous practices is the sale (in garden supply stores) or giveaway (to schools and backyard gardeners) of toxic sewage sludge as "organic fertilizer" or "organic compost."

The EPA has aided and abetted this hazardous practice for several decades by claiming that the toxic chemical poisons, heavy metals, pathogens, hormone disruptors, pesticides, and pharmaceutical drug residues routinely contained in sewage sludge are diluted to "acceptable levels." In 1998, the Organic Consumers Association and the organic community successfully fought to keep toxic sewage sludge out of national organic standards, but we now need to ban sewage sludge on non-organic farms (and all land applications) as well.

In the organic future, valuable organic matter in the waste stream will neither be wasted nor mixed with other garbage or toxins. It will be separated at the source, at homes and businesses, mixed with animal manures and green wastes in a central location, and made into valuable organic compost (natural fertilizer or food for the soil). This organic compost can then be supplied to organic and transition-to-organic farms, backyard gardens, lawns, and other land use applications. This is the only way we can eliminate the two billion pounds of chemical fertilizers applied to non-organic farms every year in the U.S. Nitrate fertilizers (banned in organic production) contaminate the atmosphere, kill the soil, and destabilize the climate with nitrous oxide. Moreover chemical fertilizers pollute city tap water and kill fish and marine life, creating hundreds of massive "dead zones" in the oceans.

Zero waste recycling and the creation of an abundant, affordable supply of organic compost is an essential part of our organic future. This means taking apart the profit at any cost garbage industry and the toxic sewage sludge cartel.

The High Costs of So-Called Cheap Food

Over the past 65 years, chemical agriculture, factory farms, and now genetic engineering have devastated public health, wrecked the environment, and destabilized the climate. The U.S. public now spends $2.4 trillion dollars a year on health care, $800 billion of which is directly attributable to consuming chemical-laden, nutritionally deficient processed food.

In only 15 years unregulated and unlabeled genetically engineered foods and crops (GMOs) have been planted on millions of acres of farm land. These GM crops are planted on soil which is then repeatedly doused with toxic pesticides and chemical fertilizers. GMO corn, cotton, canola and soy are currently laced into 80% of (non-organic) supermarket foods and restaurant items. The bodies of the majority of American adults and children are bloated and contaminated with so-called agricultural commodities: high fructose corn syrup, derived from GMO corn, trans-fats (GMO cotton, canola and soy oil), and meat and dairy foods derived from factory farmed animals fed and reared on GMOs and pesticide-tainted grains, antibiotics, hormones, and slaughterhouse waste.

As a direct result of chemical and GMO agriculture, most American consumers are ill-fed and disease-prone.

Overall, U.S. diet-related diseases cause an estimated 580,000 deaths every year.

* OBESITY. In the U.S. nearly 100 million people are seriously and dangerously overweight. Obesity kills thousands and costs taxpayers and employers $147 billion annually.

* HEART DISEASE. In 2010, heart disease will kill hundreds of thousands (in 2006, 831,272 people died of cardiovascular disease) which costs the US $503 billion.

* DIABETES. The number of people with diabetes in the US is expected to increase from 23.7 million to 44.1 million in the next 25 years. The cost of treating diabetes is expected to triple in that time from $113 billion per year to $336 billion per year.

* CANCER. Cancer has reached epidemic proportions, with 48% of men and 38% of women now stricken during their lifetimes. 35% percent of cancers are diet related. Diet-related cancers now out-pace smoking-related cancers (30% are smoking related).

* FOOD POISONING. The U.S. industrial, factory farm food system is responsible for 76 million cases of food-poisoning reported every year that result in over 300,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths. Food poisoning costs are substantial, estimated at up to $22 billion each year.

* ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE. In part because of the routine overuse of antibiotics on factory farms - in the US, animals consume 70% of the antibiotics - more than 63,000 people die in the US each year from hospital-acquired infections resistant to at least one antibiotic. This financial costs of this public health emergency are up to $5 billion dollars a year.

In 2007 over $2.2 trillion was spent on health care in the US.

After poisoning us with cheap food and destroying the environment, Big Food Inc. turns us over to Big Pharma and the Industrial Health Complex to repair the damage, or rather to keep us alive long enough to extract maximum profits. But from the warped perspective of the for-profit health insurance industry, overweight and diseased people aren't very profitable. That's why health insurance corporations spend $350 billion per year trying to avoid coverage and deny claims. The vast, paper-pushing bureaucracy the for-profit insurance industry has created to help them avoid providing services soaks up 31% of all health care spending!

If we shifted the 31% of health care spending taken up by the administrative costs of the for-profit health insurance industry to a single-payer, universal health care system, we could cover the uninsured without increasing total health-care spending. The Organic Consumers Association supports single-payer, universal health care, with a focus on preventive health, diet, nutrition and stress-reduction.



Forced health insurance is not health care reform, it's corporate welfare and it is a direct result of the nearly one billion dollars that the health care industry is projected to have spent to lobby and bribe the politicians who voted for the bill.

Not only does the for-profit health insurance industry spend 31 cents of every health insurance dollar pushing paper and avoiding claims, but the for-profit "health" system has become almost as deadly as the chemical and GMO food and farming system. Medical malpractice kills as many as 98,000 people in hospitals every year. Another 300,000 people are injured due to medical errors.

Pharmaceuticals are even more dangerous than medical malpractice:

More than 50 percent of all drugs have serious adverse reactions that are discovered only after the drugs have entered the market (e.g., they are not detected during pre-market testing) - making us all unwitting guinea pigs. About 2,270,000 patients per year incur hospital costs as a result of adverse drug reactions.

Another 4,300,000 visit other health care providers (physicians, hospital outpatient departments and emergency rooms) as a result of adverse drug reactions.

Approximately 230,000 die each year as a result of an adverse drug reaction (105,000 using drugs as directed and 125,000 as a result of mistakes). This is the third leading cause of death in the United States.

The total annual health care costs as a consequence of adverse drug reactions exceeds a staggering $200 billion - an amount equal to what is spent on Medicaid every year and almost half of what is spent on Medicare. Reforming our health care system is literally a matter of life or death.

Eventually, we have to stop arguing over who's going to pay for out-of-control health care costs and restore public health! The real solution to our health care crisis is to stop subsidizing chemical and GMO food and farming, along with the destruction of our environment and our climate, and make the long overdue transition to organics. Then, under universal health care or Medicare for All, we can shift from health care that treats sickness caused by unhealthy food and an unhealthy environment and lifestyle to holistic health care that promotes wellness.
(c) 2010 Ronnie Cummins is National Director of the Organic Consumers Association and has spent a lifetime as a professional activist. Since getting his start in anti-war activism in 1967, he has dabbled in the "human rights, anti-nuclear, labor, consumer, and sustainable agriculture" movements.

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Joe Heller ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Auld Lang Syne
By Robert Burns

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

And surely ye'll be your pint-stowp,
And surely I'll be mine!
And we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

We twa hae run about the braes,
And pu'd the gowans fine;
But we've wandered many a weary fit
Sin' auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

We twa hae paidled i' the burn,
Frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roared
Sin' auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For days of auld lang syne.

And there's a hand, my trusty fiere,
And gie's a hand o' thine!
And we'll tak a right guid-willie waught
For auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.
(c) 1787/2009 Robert Burns

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Parting Shots...

Department Of Homeland Security Issues Terrorist ID Cards
Requires Application, $25 Fee
By Andy Borowitz

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) - In the wake of the Christmas Day airline terror attempt, the Department of Homeland Security today said it was instituting a bold new series of security measures, including issuing an official "proof of terrorism" I.D. card.

"All potential terrorists must have the terrorist I.D. card in order to be barred from boarding," said Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano. "If you want to get on the no-fly list you'll need a completed application and the $25 fee."

Ms. Napolitano said that while the terror suspect's father had warned the U.S. about his son weeks before the incident, the Homeland Security Dept. was tightening rules in that area as well: "In the future, it will be necessary for a terrorist's mom and dad to warn us before we take it seriously."

The Homeland Security chief said that her department would continue to crack down on the primary threat to air safety: shampoo.

"We will be looking out for shampoo like never before," she said. "If you want to smuggle it on board, you had better hide it with your bomb-making supplies."

She also praised the Department's decision to ban in-flight bathroom use: "One thing every terrorist has in common is that they eventually need to pee."
(c) 2009 Andy Borowitz

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Issues & Alibis Vol 10 # 01 (c) 01/01/2010

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