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In This Edition

Paul Krugman adds up, "Stimulus Arithmetic."

Uri Avnery feels the, "Molten Lead."

Victoria Stewart says, "Tonight I Cried."

Jim Hightower studies, "The Bush Legacy Project."

Robert Fisk concludes that, "Keeping Out The Cameras And Reporters Simply Doesn't Work."

Greg Palast explains, "Bill Richardson - Kissinger-American."

Garrison Keillor remembers, "The Cheerful Idiot."

Chris Floyd visits, "Fallujah By The Sea."

Mike Adams with a must read, "Are You Ready For 2009?"

Mike Folkerth declares, "Happy New Year; Well, It Can Be."

Joel S. Hirshhorn thinks, "Consumers Can Rescue The Economy."

Cynthia McKinney reports, "We Lived to Tell the Story: Lebanon Rescued Us."

"Weakly Standard" editor Michael Goldfarb wins the coveted "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Glenn Greenwald adds up, "Orwell, Blinding Tribalism, Selective Terrorism, And Israel/Gaza."

Jason Miller explores, "The Absurd Persistence Of Domination."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Will Durst returns with, "The Top Ten Comedic News Stories Of 2008" but first Uncle Ernie finds, "Mass Murder and Mayhem In The Ghetto."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Steve Sack with additional cartoons, photos and videos from The Heretik, Clay Bennett, Carlos Latuff, Adam Zyglis, Internet Weekly.Org, Welt Online, Associated Press, Jutia Group, Issues & Alibis.Org and Pink & Blue Films.

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To End On A Happy Note...
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Parting Shots...
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Welcome one and all to "Uncle Ernie's Issues & Alibis."

Mass Murder And Mayhem In The Ghetto
By Ernest Stewart

"Terrorism is the war of the poor, and war is the terrorism of the rich." --- Peter Ustinov

And they also threw this in my face, they said...
You know good well
That It would be beyond the will of GOD... God... god...
And the grace of the King
Grace of the King
1983... (A Merman I Should Turn To Be) ~~~ Jimi Hendrix

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation. ~~~ Amendment V to the US Constitution

I see there another round of mass murder, war crimes and crimes against humanity going down in Palestine. Soon Israel may rival the numbers of Nazi Germany's death camp genocide. Oh, and lets make one thing clear, this has absolutely nothing to do with Hamas and their bottle rockets. Far more Israelis die in auto accidents and Israeli-on-Israeli crimes daily than have been killed by Hamas in total!

This is all about two interlocking things:

One: Endless War!

I've said it on many occasions and I'll say it again. Israel could not exist without a new war, a new enemy or, in a pinch like today, an old enemy. The invasion and mass murder of the helpless residents of the Gaza ghetto will guarantee a whole new crop of "terrorists" for future wars. It's not about getting them to stop (and they could with sincere peace talks). It's about getting them to keep firing those same ineffective rockets! Remember Israel started this round. Before a single bottle rocket flew, they sealed the border and cut off all normal supplies, both of which are war crimes. Do Jews call the fighters inside the Warsaw ghetto terrorists for resisting the Germans? They do not. Funny thing that, eh? Since before it's founding in 1948 Israel has been stealing everything in sight and murdering innocent men, women and children by the tens of thousands in a war that has continued to this day. Without this constant siege mentality Israel would soon crumble to dust with most Israelis moving elsewhere. Their whole economy is based on a constant state of war. Their armaments industry dwarfs all other Israeli businesses combined! It's a self-perpetuating machine, just like the one Ike warned us about! I wonder if we taught them or they taught us? America, too, is in an endless war and the armament industry is our largest employer. Which came first folks, the chicken or the egg? Of course, as nations, we did. Lincoln warned us in 1864...

"I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. Corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed."

Two: Endless expansion.

America Jr. has been in a constant state of expansion since before it's founding and that expansion has never stopped. Just like us. You might say that the US stopped expanding in 1898 or maybe 1960 but that is not the case. We have troops at over 860 overseas military bases in almost sixty countries and separate territories! The sun never sets on the American Empire; eat your heart out Great Britain!

Israel has been taking other peoples' land since before the UN got a bright idea about how to effect its own final solution. They did this by stealing some land from Jordon and Egypt and giving it to the their bankers, the Rothschilds! Their two state solution was a joke from the start, as it is to this day. There will be no State of Palestine, just Israel. And need I mention, no Palestinians, either!

In Other News

Remember all of those rat-wing uber-monkeys that kept chanting that Barry was a Muslim and, if elected, would sell us all down the road to Allah? Remember? You might also recall that I said Barry was bought, paid for and an Israeli fifth columnist because, as soon as he was nominated, he ran directly to AIPAC to genuflect before them like the weasel that he is. Lately whenever asked about the war crimes being committed in the Gaza ghetto we get this little song and dance...

"President-elect Obama is closely monitoring global events, including the situation in Gaza, but there is one president at a time," said Brooke Anderson, Obama spinmaster.

Seems like if he were the Muslim Mullah that the right claimed he would have something to say, eh?

Also in the news was old Bill Richardson, one of the more corrupt Demoncrats (which is really saying something), who has been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Seems Bill got caught taking a 10% kickback, much like the Catholic Church from a California contractor working for Bill's "GRIP" aka "Governor Richardson's Investment Partnership" scam.

If there was going to be any change Barry's flunkies would have looked elsewhere for a Secretary of Commerce candidate as Bill has all that other baggage from working for "Slick Willie" and "Dr. Strangelove" and that should have set off all sorts of warning sirens. Of course they knew, but since it's going to be business as usual, so what?

Speaking of business as usual, Barry picked Leon Panetta to head the CIA. You'll remember that Leon was "Slick Willie's" chief of staff and has absolutely no experience as a spy. Can you hear a future "Heck of a job Leon?" If there was a drop of justice in Obama, he'd have chosen Valerie Plame!

Sure, Barry was the lesser of two evils, but just barely. As Neil Young once said about Papa Smirk, "We got a kinder, gentler, Machine gun hand." Oh, and have no fear, Barry will speak out on the Gaza ghetto just as soon as Israel slaughters enough innocents and pulls out. And he gets the okay from AIPAC!

And Finally

Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty? When did it become guilty until proven innocent? It seems to have started with the Pee test? A test to find marijuana use as it can hardly find anything else. Only pot stays in the system more than a day or two. In addition, we can't have all those free thinkers employed can we? At least with pee tests there are a thousand ways of foiling them!

Unlike politics where you are tried and convicted in the rat-wing owned press. Whether or not Rod Blagojevich is guilty for soliciting bribes is neither here nor there at present. I have no doubt that he's as guilty as sin, but that fact hasn't been established. As far as we know, Rod was attacked for being a Democrat by Bush's Nazi regime. At this point Rod is as innocent as a newborn babe. Legally that is.

Of course, Rethuglican lackeys on both sides of the aisle have refused to seat Rod's appointment for Barry's seat. Rod's appointment, former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris, is qualified, wasn't involved in Rod's shenanigans and should have been seated on Tuesday. However, as we've seen in the past, the law and the Senate are two different things! Now after the brouhaha stirred up by the Dems refusing to seat the only black in the Senate has swept across "Foggy Bottom" they're starting to backpedal and have second thoughts about this little act of treason. They now think something can be worked out!

Still in the legal sense there is no law in the Constitution or Bill of Rights that says one is innocent until proven guilty. That statement came from a Supreme Court Justice Edward Douglas White. As close as we come to it in written law is the 5th Amendment to the Constitution. Those words, innocent until proven guilty, are in the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen of 1789. The United Nations incorporated the principle in its Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 under article eleven, section one. The maxim also found a place in the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights in 1953 [as article 6, section 2] and was incorporated into the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [as article 14, section 2].

Wouldn't it be funny after Rod is impeached and removed from office if he was found not guilty in a court of law? Think of the ratings. Think of the lawsuits!


We don't sell our readers new cars, fancy homes or designer clothes. 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. Issues and Alibis may soon join that list.

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Ernest & Victoria Stewart


07-12-1933 ~ 12-31-2008
Parker did it!

11-22-1918 ~ 01-01-2009
Thanks for the grant!

07-19-1924 ~ 01-03-2009
Thanks for the memories!

07-17-1948 ~ 01-06-2009
Thanks for the music, dog!


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: Both trailers are on site and may be downloaded; the new trailer can be seen with Flash on site. You can download in either PC or Mac formats. I'm in the new trailer as myself but don't blink or you'll miss me! The trailers are also available on YouTube along with a short scene from the film.


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


So how do you like the 2nd coup d'etat so far?
And more importantly, what are you planning on doing about it?

Until the next time, Peace!
(c) 2009 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for the last 7 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."

Stimulus Arithmetic
Wonkish but important
By Paul Krugman

Bit by bit we're getting information on the Obama stimulus plan, enough to start making back-of-the-envelope estimates of impact. The bottom line is this: we're probably looking at a plan that will shave less than 2 percentage points off the average unemployment rate for the next two years, and possibly quite a lot less. This raises real concerns about whether the incoming administration is lowballing its plans in an attempt to get bipartisan consensus.

In the extended entry, a look at my calculations.

The starting point for this discussion is Okun's Law, the relationship between changes in real GDP and changes in the unemployment rate. Estimates of the Okun's Law coefficient range from 2 to 3. I'll use 2, which is an optimistic estimate for current purposes: it says that you have to raise real GDP by 2 percent from what it would otherwise have been to reduce the unemployment rate 1 percentage point from what it would otherwise have been. Since GDP is roughly $15 trillion, this means that you have to raise GDP by $300 billion per year to reduce unemployment by 1 percentage point.

Now, what we're hearing about the Obama plan is that it calls for $775 billion over two years, with $300 billion in tax cuts and the rest in spending. Call that $150 billion per year in tax cuts, $240 billion each year in spending.

How much do tax cuts and spending raise GDP? The widely cited estimates of Mark Zandi of indicate a multiplier of around 1.5 for spending, with widely varying estimates for tax cuts. Payroll tax cuts, which make up about half the Obama proposal, are pretty good, with a multiplier of 1.29; business tax cuts, which make up the rest, are much less effective.

In particular, letting businesses get refunds on past taxes based on current losses, which is reportedly a key feature of the plan, looks an awful lot like a lump-sum transfer with no incentive effects.

Let's be generous and assume that the overall multiplier on tax cuts is 1. Then the per-year effect of the plan on GDP is 150 x 1 + 240 x 1.5 = $510 billion. Since it takes $300 billion to reduce the unemployment rate by 1 percentage point, this is shaving 1.7 points off what unemployment would otherwise have been.

Finally, compare this with the economic outlook. "Full employment" clearly means an unemployment rate near 5 - the CBO says 5.2 for the NAIRU, which seems high to me. Unemployment is currently about 7 percent, and heading much higher; Obama himself says that absent stimulus it could go into double digits. Suppose that we're looking at an economy that, absent stimulus, would have an average unemployment rate of 9 percent over the next two years; this plan would cut that to 7.3 percent, which would be a help but could easily be spun by critics as a failure.

And that gets us to politics. This really does look like a plan that falls well short of what advocates of strong stimulus were hoping for - and it seems as if that was done in order to win Republican votes. Yet even if the plan gets the hoped-for 80 votes in the Senate, which seems doubtful, responsibility for the plan's perceived failure, if it's spun that way, will be placed on Democrats.

I see the following scenario: a weak stimulus plan, perhaps even weaker than what we're talking about now, is crafted to win those extra GOP votes. The plan limits the rise in unemployment, but things are still pretty bad, with the rate peaking at something like 9 percent and coming down only slowly. And then Mitch McConnell says "See, government spending doesn't work."

Let's hope I've got this wrong.

UpDate: A bit more information to go with my post on stimulus: forecasters surveyed by the WSJ predict, on average, that unemployment will reach 8.1 percent by end 2009 and peak at 8.4% - that is, it will keep rising into 2010. That's a forecast of what will happen with the stimulus plan, not of what would happen absent stimulus, which would presumably be considerably worse.

Two points:

1. This suggests that the consensus is at least as grim as the scenario I laid out.

2. This looks to me like an economy that could easily be spun by conservatives as a failure of Obama's policies.
(c) 2009 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

Molten Lead
By Uri Avnery

JUST AFTER MIDNIGHT, Aljazeera's Arabic channel was reporting on events in Gaza. Suddenly the camera was pointing upwards towards the dark sky. The screen was pitch black. Nothing could be seen, but there was a sound to be heard: the noise of airplanes, a frightening, a terrifying droning.

It was impossible not to think about the tens of thousands of Gazan children who were hearing that sound at that moment, cringing with fright, paralyzed by fear, waiting for the bombs to fall.

"ISRAEL MUST defend itself against the rockets that are terrorizing our Southern towns," the Israeli spokesmen explained. "Palestinians must respond to the killing of their fighters inside the Gaza Strip," the Hamas spokesmen declared.

As a matter of fact, the cease-fire did not collapse, because there was no real cease-fire to start with. The main requirement for any cease-fire in the Gaza Strip must be the opening of the border crossings. There can be no life in Gaza without a steady flow of supplies. But the crossings were not opened, except for a few hours now and again. The blockade on land, on sea and in the air against a million and a half human beings is an act of war, as much as any dropping of bombs or launching of rockets. It paralyzes life in the Gaza Strip: eliminating most sources of employment, pushing hundreds of thousands to the brink of starvation, stopping most hospitals from functioning, disrupting the supply of electricity and water.

Those who decided to close the crossings - under whatever pretext - knew that there is no real cease-fire under these conditions.

That is the main thing. Then there came the small provocations which were designed to get Hamas to react. After several months, in which hardly any Qassam rockets were launched, an army unit was sent into the Strip "in order to destroy a tunnel that came close to the border fence." From a purely military point of view, it would have made more sense to lay an ambush on our side of the fence. But the aim was to find a pretext for the termination of the cease-fire, in a way that made it plausible to put the blame on the Palestinians. And indeed, after several such small actions, in which Hamas fighters were killed, Hamas retaliated with a massive launch of rockets, and - lo and behold - the cease-fire was at an end. Everybody blamed Hamas.

WHAT WAS THE AIM? Tzipi Livni announced it openly: to liquidate Hamas rule in Gaza. The Qassams served only as a pretext.

Liquidate Hamas rule? That sounds like a chapter out of "The March of Folly." After all, it is no secret that it was the Israeli government which set up Hamas to start with. When I once asked a former Shin-Bet chief, Yaakov Peri, about it, he answered enigmatically: "We did not create it, but we did not hinder its creation."

For years, the occupation authorities favored the Islamic movement in the occupied territories. All other political activities were rigorously suppressed, but their activities in the mosques were permitted. The calculation was simple and naive: at the time, the PLO was considered the main enemy, Yasser Arafat was the current Satan. The Islamic movement was preaching against the PLO and Arafat, and was therefore viewed as an ally.

With the outbreak of the first intifada in 1987, the Islamic movement officially renamed itself Hamas (Arabic initials of "Islamic Resistance Movement") and joined the fight. Even then, the Shin-Bet took no action against them for almost a year, while Fatah members were executed or imprisoned in large numbers. Only after a year, were Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and his colleagues also arrested.

Since then the wheel has turned. Hamas has now become the current Satan, and the PLO is considered by many in Israel almost as a branch of the Zionist organization. The logical conclusion for an Israeli government seeking peace would have been to make wide-ranging concessions to the Fatah leadership: ending of the occupation, signing of a peace treaty, foundation of the State of Palestine, withdrawal to the 1967 borders, a reasonable solution of the refugee problem, release of all Palestinian prisoners. That would have arrested the rise of Hamas for sure.

But logic has little influence on politics. Nothing of this sort happened. On the contrary, after the murder of Arafat, Ariel Sharon declared that Mahmoud Abbas, who took his place, was a "plucked chicken." Abbas was not allowed the slightest political achievement. The negotiations, under American auspices, became a joke. The most authentic Fatah leader, Marwan Barghouti, was sent to prison for life. Instead of a massive prisoner release, there were petty and insulting "gestures."

Abbas was systematically humiliated, Fatah looked like an empty shell and Hamas won a resounding victory in the Palestinian election - the most democratic election ever held in the Arab world. Israel boycotted the elected government. In the ensuing internal struggle, Hamas assumed direct control over the Gaza Strip.

And now, after all this, the government of Israel decided to "liquidate Hamas rule in Gaza" - with blood, fire and columns of smoke.

THE OFFICIAL NAME of the war is "Cast Lead," two words from a children's song about a Hanukkah toy.

It would be more accurate to call it "the the Election War."

In the past, too, military action has been taken during election campaigns. Menachem Begin bombed the Iraqi nuclear reactor during the 1981 campaign. When Shimon Peres claimed that this was an election gimmick, Begin cried out at his next rally: "Jews, do you believe that I would send our brave boys to their death or, worse, to be taken prisoner by human animals, in order to win an election?" Begin won.

Peres is no Begin. When, during the 1996 election campaign, he ordered the invasion of Lebanon (operation "Grapes of Wrath"), everybody was convinced that he had done it for electoral gain. The war was a failure and Peres lost the elections and Binyamin Netanyahu came to power.

Barak and Tzipi Livni are now resorting to the same old trick. According to the polls, Barak's predicted election result rose within 48 hours by five Knesset seats. About 80 dead Palestinians for each seat. But it is difficult to walk on a pile of dead bodies. The success may evaporate in a minute if the war comes to be considered by the Israeli public as a failure. For example, if the rockets continue to hit Beersheba, or if the ground attack leads to heavy Israeli casualties.

The timing was chosen meticulously from another angle too. The attack started two days after Christmas, when American and European leaders are on holiday until after New Year. The calculation: even if somebody wanted to try and stop the war, no one would give up his holiday. That ensured several days free from outside pressures.

Another reason for the timing: these are George Bush's last days in the White House. This blood-soaked moron could be expected to support the war enthusiastically, as indeed he did. Barack Obama has not yet entered office and had a ready made pretext for keeping silent: "there is only one President.".The silence does not bode well for the term of president Obama.

THE MAIN LINE was: not to repeat the mistakes of Lebanon War II. This was endlessly repeated on all the news programs and talk shows.

This does not change the fact: the Gaza War is an almost exact replica of the second Lebanon war.

The strategic concept is the same: to terrorize the civilian population by unremitting attacks from the air, sowing death and destruction. This poses no danger to the pilots, since the Palestinians have no anti-aircraft weapons at all. The calculation: if the entire life-supporting infrastructure in the Strip is utterly destroyed and total anarchy ensues, the population will rise up and overthrow the Hamas regime. Mahmoud Abbas will then ride back into Gaza on the back of Israeli tanks.

In Lebanon, this calculation did not work out. The bombed population, including the Christians, rallied behind Hizbullah, and Hassan Nasrallah became the hero of the Arab world. Something similar will probably happen this time, too. Generals are experts on using weapons and moving troops, not on mass psychology.

Some time ago I wrote that the Gaza blockade was a scientific experiment designed to find out how much one can starve a population and turn its life into hell before they break. This experiment was conducted with the generous help of Europe and the US. Up to now, it did not succeed. Hamas became stronger and the range of the Qassams became longer. The present war is a continuation of the experiment by other means.

It may be that the army will "have no alternative" but to re-conquer the Gaza Strip because there is no other way to stop the Qassams - except coming to an agreement with Hamas, which is contrary to government policy. When the ground invasion starts, everything will depend on the motivation and capabilities of the Hamas fighters vis-ý-vis the Israeli soldiers. Nobody can know what will happen.

DAY AFTER DAY, night after night, Aljazeera's Arabic channel broadcasts the atrocious pictures: heaps of mutilated bodies, tearful relatives looking for their dear ones among the dozens of corpses spread out on the ground, a woman pulling her young daughter from under the rubble, doctors without medicines trying to save the lives of the wounded. (The English-language Aljazeera, unlike its Arab-language sister-station, has undergone an amazing about face, broadcasting only a sanitized picture and freely distributing Israeli government propaganda. It would be interesting to know what happened there.)

Millions are seeing these terrible images, picture after picture, day after day. These images are imprinted on their minds forever: horrible Israel, abominable Israel, inhuman Israel. A whole generation of haters. That is a terrible price, which we will be compelled to pay long after the other results of the war itself have been forgotten in Israel.

But there is another thing that is being imprinted on the minds of these millions: the picture of the miserable, corrupt, passive Arab regimes.

As seen by Arabs, one fact stands out above all others: the wall of shame.

For the million and a half Arabs in Gaza, who are suffering so terribly, the only opening to the world that is not dominated by Israel is the border with Egypt. Only from there can food arrive to sustain life and medicaments to save the injured. This border remains closed at the height of the horror. The Egyptian army has blocked the only way for food and medicines to enter, while surgeons operate on the wounded without anesthetics.

Throughout the Arab world, from end to end, there echoed the words of Hassan Nasrallah: The leaders of Egypt are accomplices to the crime, they are collaborating with the "Zionist enemy" in trying to break the Palestinian people. It can be assumed that he did not mean only Mubarak, but also all the other leaders, from the king of Saudi Arabia to the Palestinian President. Seeing the demonstrations throughout the Arab world and listening to the slogans, one gets the impression that their leaders seem to many Arabs pathetic at best, and miserable collaborators at worst.

This will have historic consequences. A whole generation of Arab leaders, a generation imbued with the ideology of secular Arab nationalism, the successors of Gamal Abd-al-Nasser, Hafez al-Assad and Yasser Arafat, may be swept from the stage. In the Arab space, the only viable alternative is the ideology of Islamic fundamentalism.

This war is a writing on the wall: Israel is missing the historic chance of making peace with secular Arab nationalism. Tomorrow, It may be faced with a uniformly fundamentalist Arab world, Hamas multiplied by a thousand.

MY TAXI DRIVER in Tel-Aviv the other day was thinking aloud: Why not call up the sons of the ministers and members of the Knesset, form them into a combat unit and send them off to head the coming ground attack on Gaza?
(c) 2009 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Tonight I Cried
By Victoria Stewart

I have no glib phrases and no words of comfort. The images that superimpose themselves on this computer screen, on the walls and bookcases and art that surround me are of children dead and dying, children injured, bloodied and frightened in a tiny strip of land that is being bombed into rubble as I sit here.

I can only imagine the horror of huddling in dark and perilous ruins while bombs fly overhead. I can only imagine what it is like to be cut off from food, water, heat and shelter, my children hungry, cold, frightened, injured and without adequate medical care. My children dead. I can only imagine that pain.

And I can also imagine what I would feel toward the people and the governments responsible for harming and murdering my children. I can imagine what that would feel like in a post 9/11 world, a world where the most ferocious military machine in existence is floundering in its wars of aggression, a world where the poor and the powerless and the disenfranchised are left with no choice but to fight back against the violence of monstrous oppression. I can imagine what it feels like to know that I am going to die and to decide to die fighting.

I can only imagine. My children are safe, warm, happy. I am blessed. So tonight I weep and know my pain is hollow when compared to the suffering of those shattered by Israeli bombs.
(c) 2009 Victoria Stewart is the editor of Issues & Alibis magazine.

The Bush Legacy Project

George W - what a guy!

Just ask him, he'll tell you. The two-termer who spent much of his tenure avoiding any media scrutiny, now is collaring reporters for farewell interviews, while also making introspective speeches - all to reveal himself as a profound president. "An old sage," he called himself in a December speech.

But George is not the only one who says he's been terrific. Top-ranking administration officials are also vouching for his overall excellence. To help guide them, the White House has rolled out a two-page memo of talking points for their speeches and media appearances. Titled "Speech Topper on the Bush Record," the memo mentions not a single flaw in the marvelous man's eight-year term. Amazing!

But if you don't believe those memo followers, you can turn to the fair and balanced findings of Karl Rove. Yes, Bush's right-wing political hatchet man is now teamed up with the president's longtime image buffer-upper, Karen Hughes, to head up a "Bush Legacy Project." Guess what? The project also finds no flaws in The Great Man's record. What a Legacy! But, to add to it, here are some additional bullet points they might consider:

*Stealing the 2000 election *The Patriot Act *Preemptive war *Weapons of mass destruction *"Bring 'em on" *Troops with no body armor *"Mission Accomplished" *Osama bin Forgotten *Donnie Rumsfeld *Abu Ghraib *Gitmo *Secret renditions *Torture memos *Walter Reed Hospital *"I'm the decider" *"Heck of a job, Brownie" *Valerie Plame *Halliburton *Blackwater *Harriet Miers *Alberto Gonzales *Scooter Libby *Jack Abramoff *Executive privileges *Illegal domestic spying *Signing statements *Fake news releases *Tax cuts for the rich *National debt *Minneapolis bridge collapse *Global warming *Deregulate Wall Street *Bailout Wall Street *19 percent public approval rating.

What a guy!
(c) 2009 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.

An Israeli army officer (L) grabs a video camera from Reuters
cameraman Yusri al-Jamal as he prevents him from covering news events.

Keeping Out The Cameras And Reporters Simply Doesn't Work
By Robert Fisk

What is Israel afraid of? Using the old "enclosed military area" excuse to prevent coverage of its occupation of Palestinian land has been going on for years. But the last time Israel played this game - in Jenin in 2000 - it was a disaster. Prevented from seeing the truth with their own eyes, reporters quoted Palestinians who claimed there had been a massacre by Israeli soldiers - and Israel spent years denying it. In fact, there was a massacre, but not on the scale that it was originally reported.

Now the Israeli army is trying the same doomed tactic again. Ban the press. Keep the cameras out. By yesterday morning, only hours after the Israeli army went clanking into Gaza to kill more Hamas members - and, of course, more civilians - Hamas was reporting the capture of two Israeli soldiers. Reporters on the ground could have sorted out the truth or the lie about that. But without a single Western journalist in Gaza, the Israelis were left to tell the world that they didn't know if the story was true.

On the other hand, the Israelis are so ruthless that the reasons for the ban on journalism may be quite easily explained: that so many Israeli soldiers are going to kill so many innocents - more than three score by last night, and that's only the ones we know about - that images of the slaughter would be too much to tolerate. Not that the Palestinians have done much to help. The kidnapping by a Palestinian mafia family of the BBC's man in Gaza - finally released by Hamas, although that's not being recalled right now - put paid to any permanent Western television presence in Gaza months ago. Yet the results are the same.

Back in 1980, the Soviet Union threw every Western journalist out of Afghanistan. Those of us who had been reporting the Russian invasion and its brutal aftermath could not re-enter the country - except with the mujahedin guerrillas. I received a letter from Charles Douglas-Hume, who was editor of the The Times - for which I then worked - making an important observation. "Now that we have no regular coverage from Afghanistan," he noted on 26 March that year, "I would be grateful if you could make sure that we do not miss any opportunity for reporting on reliable accounts of what is going on in that country. We must not let events in Afghanistan vanish from the paper simply because we have no correspondent there."

That the Israelis should use an old Soviet tactic to blind the world's vision of war may not be surprising. But the result is that Palestinian voices - as opposed to those of Western reporters - are now dominating the airwaves. The men and women who are under air and artillery attack by the Israelis are now telling their own story on television and radio and in the papers as they have never been able to tell it before, without the artificial "balance," which so much television journalism imposes on live reporting. Perhaps this will become a new form of coverage - letting the participants tell their own story. The flip side, of course, is that there is no Westerner in Gaza to cross-question Hamas's devious account of events: another victory for the Palestinian militia, handed to them on a plate by the Israelis.

But there is also a darker side. Israel's version of events has been given so much credence by the dying Bush administration that the ban on journalists entering Gaza may simply be of little importance to the Israeli army. By the time we investigate, whatever they are trying to hide will have been overtaken by another crisis in which they can claim to be in the "front line" in the "war on terror."
(c) 2009 Robert Fisk --- The Independent

Bill Richardson - Kissinger-American
By Greg Palast

Bill Richardson is out: Caught with his hand, if not exactly in the cookie jar, at least you could say his sticky finger were near it. I'm not surprised.

For years I've been investigating the second-most corrupt state in the USA (after Alaska). I like to check in on the enchanted state with my bud Santiago Ju·rez.

I knew it was not a polite question, but it was really bugging me, so I asked him, "Exactly how does a Mexican get the name William Richardson?"

Governor Richardson's dad, Santiago explained, was a Citibank executive assigned to Mexico City. There he met Governor Bill's mom, and-milagro!-a Mexican-American was born. Richardson gets big mileage out of his mother's heritage, and that makes him, legitimately, a Mexican-American, a politically useful designation. But it's just as legitimate to say that Richardson is a Citibank-American.

But Governor Richardson is more than that. Between leaving Bill Clinton's cabinet where he was Secretary of Energy and grabbing a Hispanic-district seat in Congress, Richardson became a partner in (Henry) Kissinger and Associates. That would make Richardson a Kissinger-American as well.

In 2004, John Kerry won New Mexico-if you counted the votes. But they didn't - and George Bush won the state and the presidency by just 5,000 ballots. Everyone was talking about the theft of Ohio by Republicans, but few noted that New Mexico was stolen as well. But one fact drove me straight nuts: In the end, this state and its damaged elections were in the hands of Richardson, A Democrat and a Mexican-American one at that.

In New Mexico the issue of uncounted votes is more than skin deep. Lots of Mexican-American votes don't tally, but Citibank-American votes never get lost. Kissinger American votes always count. The story of America's failed elections is not about undervotes. It's about underclass. Disenfranchisement is class warfare by other means. It just happens that in New Mexico, the colors of the underclass are, for the most part, brown and red.

Class War by Other Means

As community organizer Santiago told me:

You take away people's health insurance and you take their right to union pay scales and you take away their pensions-taking away their vote's just one more on the list.

Some New Mexico Democrats have no trouble at the voting booth. In Santa Fe, you find trust-fund refugees from Los Angeles wearing Navajo turquoise jewelry and "casual" clothes that cost more than my car. Each one has a personal healer, an unfinished film script and a tan so deep you'd think they're bred for their leather. They're Democrats and their votes count. Voting-or at least voting that gets tabulated - is a class privilege. The effect is racial and partisan, but the engine is economic.

The second- and third-highest undervotes in New Mexico were recorded in McKinley and Cibola counties-85% and 72% Hispanic and Native. But the undervote champ is nearly the whitest county in New Mexico: DeBaca, which mangled and lost 8.4% of ballots cast. White DeBaca, whose average income hovers at the national poverty level, is poorer than Hispanic Cibola. No question, disenfranchisement gives off an ugly racial smell, but income is the real predictor of vote loss.

And what about those Bernalillo ghost voters for Bush? Those spirits are, it turns out, quite well-to-do, haunting the mesas west of Albuquerque where the real estate provides unobstructed views of Georgia O'Keeffe sunsets.

This was my third investigation in New Mexico in twenty years. The first time, the state's Attorney General brought me in to go over the account books of Public Service of New Mexico (PNM), a racketeering enterprise masquerading as an electric company. Too young to understand what I wasn't supposed to know, I proudly mapped out the sewerage lines of deceit connecting the gas drillers, water lords and political elite of New Mexico. The AG's office handed me a nice check - which I took not as a reward, but as a payment to leave the state. After a decade away, I returned as a reporter, to look into prisons-for-profit outfit Wackenhut Inc. In September 1999, a company insider told me, Wackenhut was cutting costs at its New Mexico jails by sending guards alone into the cell blocks. Ralph Garcia of Santa Rosa, who'd lost his ranch to drought, took the $7.95-an-hour job guarding homicidal neo-Nazis and Mexican mafia thugs in the local Wackenhut lock-up. Inexperienced, untrained and alone, he was stabbed to death by inmates just two weeks after the insider's warning. So that's how Garcia became one more impoverished Chicano who lost his vote. No question, that's not your typical case of voter disenfranchisement, but that's the reality of the "Land of Enchantment." New Mexico is the New America, where growing income inequality is creating a feudal divide between the prison-owning class and the prisoner-and-guard class.

Vote spoilage is the owning class's weapon of choice.

Whose flag does Bill Richardson carry in the nouvelle class war? When I was checking out the New Mexico vote in 2005, my old friends Public Service of New Mexico hit the front page, sued by the State of California for conspiring with Enron to rig the California power market. It is still in court. It was a scam called "Ricochet." Enron and PNM say it was not illegal. It played out about the time Garcia was walking the cell block. Where was Richardson? He was in Washington, Clinton's Secretary of Energy, playing chubby cheerleader for PNM's plan for "deregulation" of the energy market. Deregulation made PNM's games possible-and Richardson's employment by Kissinger inevitable.

Richardson, Ready for Takeoff

What about all those suspect spoiled votes in Hispanic and Indian precincts stuck inside the machines? Why didn't this Mexican-American Democrat ask for a recount? It didn't just slip Richardson's little mind: He actively did everything in his power to stop a recount. I was told that it was Richardson himself who encouraged Secretary of State Vigil-Giron to reject the $114,000 payment from pissed-off Democrats and the Green Party. The Governor was too busy to speak with me about this.

Halting the 2004 recount wasn't enough for Governor Bill, however. He demanded the legislature pass a "reform" law that would require anyone wanting a recount of a suspicious vote to put up a bond of over one million dollars. As a result, "free and fair elections" are now effectively outlawed in New Mexico. You can have a choice of a "free" election or a "fair" election, but not both. Want fair? Then you have to pay a million to recheck the ballots. In other words, it's against the law to buy votes, but in New Mexico not against the law to buy the vote count.

On his phony reform law, Richardson was called out by a fellow Democrat, State Senator Linda Lopez-an act of indiscreet defiance that would not be forgotten by the Governor's circle.

The centerpiece of the law signed by the Governor: Ms. Fox-Young's proposal to require photo ID for new voters. Maybe the former Cabinet Secretary and United Nations Ambassador Richardson couldn't imagine that photo IDs would be a problem for some voters. After all, Mexican-Americans in Little Texas may have trouble producing acceptable IDs, but it's no problem at all for a Kissinger-American like Governor Richardson. The Governor and Jimmy Carter both have passports, they have credit cards and they have chauffeurs who will vouch for them.

Richardson wouldn't speak with me about the 2004 vote fiasco. Instead, he busied himself with his space program. He announced the state would chip in $200 million to build a "spaceport" to land private rocket ships that will be launched beginning in 2009 by Richard Branson, the British billionaire. Passengers have already bought tickets for $200,000 each (round trip, they hope).
(c) 2009 Greg Palast is a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow for Investigative Reporting at the Nation Institute, New York. Read the rest of this story by picking up his New York Times bestseller, Armed Madhouse Join Palast's Network on MySpace, on FaceBook or on YouTube.

The Cheerful Idiot
As the Current Occupant imagines his legacy emerging golden and shining in a hundred years after all of us are deceased, you and I go on.
By Garrison Keillor

When you look at the audience numbers for TV and then add up the incarcerated felons, Alzheimer's patients and confirmed barflies in America, it dawns on you who is watching TV these days -- people unable to lead normal productive lives -- and yet they give out awards for this stuff and the hosts of shows are driven to and fro in Lincoln Town Cars and they suffer from toxic self-esteem. TV is wallpaper nowadays and those talking heads might as well be talking to the smoked trout in Murray's Deli or the No Parking signs along Broadway, as people do from time to time, but we allow them their delusions.

And we allow the Current Occupant to leave the Mansion d'Blanc with a big grin in a couple of weeks, his self-esteem apparently fully intact, imagining that his legacy will emerge golden and shining in a hundred years after all of us are deceased. He is one of the cheerfullest idiots you ever saw, a man who could burn down his own house and be happy that the patio was still standing. Had Congress impeached him, his defense would have been that he was not capable of understanding the charges.

Laura got the publishing contract, though the world is not abuzz waiting for her to tell us that he was not as dense as he looked. Sure. Right. But she will write it and then go on TV talk shows to flog it and she will be seen by thousands of people in airport waiting areas who will think, "My, she looks familiar. She reminds me of somebody."

So you shouldn't fret, dear hearts, if what you do doesn't draw a big crowd or get written up in the papers. Be proud. If you've dedicated yourself to the tango, or playing drop-thumb banjo, or digging up ancient cities, or writing sonnets, you are beautiful, and please do not yearn for the bright lights. Those wombats reading the news off teleprompters are talking to the bedridden, the delusional and the criminal. The happy StairMaster president is on his way to a mansionette in Dallas, to be the decider of where to put the sofa. His successor, Mister Mambo, has cast his lot with Harvard and Yale and old Clinton hands, and soon enough, Lord knows, they will get the first of many comeuppances, and their shining faces will be chopfallen.

Meanwhile, you and I go on. We dance our little dance and pursue the circuit of our dreams insofar as the bus schedules permit. I have just spent four days in an old Miami hotel under the sheltering palms, having read about how important dads are to their daughters' self-esteem, and so I brought my sandy-haired bright-faced girl down to the Largest Swimming Pool in Judeo-Christian Civilization and got to observe her excellent breaststroke and butterfly, her little pink goggles rising and plunging, her big strong arms pulling her forward, and also her fine social skills in the art of approaching other little girls and becoming fast friends within minutes. Self-esteem did not seem to be a problem.

As for me, I sat and wrote sonnets, including one about self-esteem.

Life is absurd. A man can count on that.

Here I am on the front page, standing alone,
Refusing to hide my face behind my hat,
Which, in my case, I do not even own.
All I did was go take a leak in the bushes.
I didn't run through the park with no clothes or
Flash anyone. Ridiculous. Absolutely atrocious.
The injustice! Some gumshoe at the P.D.
Was out to enhance his crime-stopping reputation
And now I am an outcast crying bootlessly
For the crime of emergency urination.
With fortune and men's eyes I'm in disgrace
But you still love me and I refuse to hide my face.

It was inspired, if you must know, by observing a man taking a leak in the bushes at a park where a Cuban band was playing, and a line of dancers formed impromptu next to the stage and did a lovely salsa step, so simple, graceful, slide slide turn slide, arms up, turn step step slide, and you had to think, O my God how beautiful we are. And beyond was the man disgracing himself, and he was beautiful, too.
(c) 2009 Garrison Keillor is the author of a new Lake Wobegon novel, "Liberty," published by Viking.

Fallujah By The Sea
Aping America, Israel Unleashes Chemical Weapons in Gaza
By Chris Floyd

The Israeli military is reportedly using napalm-like white phosphorus shells in its all-out attack on Gaza, according to the conservative Times of London. The phosphorus in the smoke-emitting shells causes agonizing, unquenchable burns, sometimes searing flesh right down to the bone.

These savage tools of terror are "legal" when used as smokescreens to mask military operations, although their use as an offensive weapon is war crime. This is a rather ludicrous distinction when the shells are fired into heavily populated civilian areas, exploding and spraying phosphorus in all directions. Anyone who orders their use on cities and refugee camps knows with iron certainty that civilians will be burned, maimed and killed by this chemical weapon. That is to say, they know they will be murdering and mutilating innocent people in the most gruesome manner -- and they give the order anyway.

America's leaders also ordered the murder and mutilation of innocent civilians with chemical weapons in the brutal razing of Fallujah in late 2004 (among many other places). There, in addition to the wide use of "Willy Pete" in the city -- where tens of thousands of people had been sealed off after more than 300,000 had been driven from their homes -- American forces also poured in massive amounts of depleted uranium munitions, thermobaric explosives and jellied gasoline. The Pentagon also declared the entire city a free-fire zone, giving soldiers carte blanche to shoot and kill anyone they saw.

Fallujah was a new Guernica for the 21st century, an abominable crime that should have shamed the country for generations -- yet it passed virtually unnoticed by the American press and public, except for a couple of weeks of stories about the great military victory, and the occasional follow-up from embedded parrots of the powerful telling us how swell life is in the city these days, as America helps it rise from the ashes of its destruction by, er, America. (You can read similar reports in the slavish Russian press about the "new flowering" of Grozny. Apparently, the bones of slaughtered civilians make excellent fertilizer.)

Now it's Gaza's turn for the chemical weapon treatment, as the Times reports:

Israel is believed to be using controversial white phosphorus shells to screen its assault on the heavily populated Gaza Strip yesterday. The weapon, used by British and US forces in Iraq, can cause horrific burns but is not illegal if used as a smokescreen.

As the Israeli army stormed to the edges of Gaza City and the Palestinian death toll topped 500, the tell-tale shells could be seen spreading tentacles of thick white smoke to cover the troops' advance. "These explosions are fantastic looking, and produce a great deal of smoke that blinds the enemy so that our forces can move in," said one Israeli security expert. Burning blobs of phosphorus would cause severe injuries to anyone caught beneath them and force would-be snipers or operators of remote-controlled booby traps to take cover. Israel admitted using white phosphorus during its 2006 war with Lebanon.

The use of the weapon in the Gaza Strip, one of the world's mostly densely populated areas, is likely to ignite yet more controversy over Israel's offensive, in which more than 2,300 Palestinians have been wounded.

Meanwhile, on the ground, behind the smokescreens of chemical weapons and media lockouts, the killing grind goes on. From the Guardian:

Palestinian medical officials said that at least 12 civilians have been killed this morning. Some of the heaviest fighting was reported to be east of Gaza City, in the Zeitoun district, where three Palestinian children were killed by an Israeli tank shell. Israeli forces also killed seven members of a Palestinian family in a strike on their home in Beach refugee camp...

Palestinians flooded into the heart of Gaza City in the hope of finding shelter, but they faced a mounting humanitarian crisis. The UN said all hospitals in the city, straining to deal with hundreds of wounded Palestinians over the past few days, had been without mains electricity for 48 hours and were depending on back-up generators, which were close to failing....

As Israeli forces pushed into the towns of Beit Hanoun, Beit Lahiya and Jabalya in northern Gaza, the civilian toll among Palestinians rose rapidly. Five died on Sunday when an Israeli artillery shell landed in Palestinian Square, a shopping centre in central Gaza City; five more were killed outside a mosque in northern Gaza. The dead also included a Palestinian paramedic working for an Oxfam-funded organisation after an ambulance was hit by an Israeli shell in Beit Lahiya. The paramedic was working for the Union of Health Work Committees. Another paramedic lost his foot and the ambulance driver was injured in the same incident. The paramedics were trying to help evacuate an injured person in the Beit Lahiya area, when the shell struck the ambulance, Oxfam said.

John Prideaux-Brune, Oxfam's country director for Israel and Palestine, speaking from Jerusalem, said: "The incident shows yet again that trying to fight a military campaign in the densely populated streets and alleys of the Gaza Strip will inevitably lead to civilian casualties."

The charity said the ground offensive was preventing urgently needed supplies of medicine, food, water and fuel from reaching 1.5 million Palestinians. Prideaux-Brune said: "Hospitals in Gaza are overflowing with dead and wounded while facing severe shortages of essential medical supplies and spare parts."

The story notes that the population of Gaza is more than 1.5 million -- more than half of them children -- packed into an area a little more than twice the size of Washington D.C. Here, one the world's most powerful militaries is attacking from land, sea and air, with bombers, missiles, artillery and chemical weapons. The result is inevitable: a "pipeline of blood," as Gideon Levy notes in Haaretz (via the Angry Arab):

The legend, lest it be a true story, tells of how the late mathematician, Professor Haim Hanani, asked his students at the Technion to draw up a plan for constructing a pipe to transport blood from Haifa to Eilat. The obedient students did as they were told. Using logarithmic rulers, they sketched the design for a sophisticated pipeline. They meticulously planned its route, taking into account the landscape's topography, the possibility of corrosion, the pipe's diameter and the flow calibration. When they presented their final product, the professor rendered his judgment: You failed. None of you asked why we need such a pipe, whose blood will fill it, and why it is flowing in the first place.

Regardless of whether this story is legend or true, Israel is now failing its own blood pipeline test. As Israel has been preoccupied with Gaza throughout the entire week, nobody has asked whose blood is being spilled and why. Everything is permitted, legitimate and just. The moral voice of restraint, if it ever existed, has been left behind. Even if Israel wiped Gaza off the face of the earth, killing tens of thousands in the process, as a Chechnyan laborer working in Sderot proposed to me, one can assume that there would be no protest.

They liquidated Nizar Ghayan? Nobody counts the 20 women and children who lost their lives in the same attack. There was a massacre of dozens of officers during their graduation ceremony from the police academy? Acceptable. Five little sisters? Allowed. Palestinians are dying in hospitals that lack medical equipment? Peanuts. Whatever happened to the not-so-good old days of Salah Shahadeh? When we liquidated him in July 2002, we also killed 15 women and children. At least back then, moral qualms were raised for a moment.

Here lie their bodies, row upon row, some of them tiny. Our hearts have turned hard and our eyes have become dull. All of Israel has worn military fatigues, uniforms that are opaque and stained with blood and which enable us to carry out any crime. Even our leading intellectuals fail to speak out on what havoc we have wreaked. Amos Oz urges: "Cease-fire now." David Grossman writes: "Hold your fire. Stop." Meir Shalev wants "a punitive operation." And not one word about our moral image, which has been horribly distorted.

The suffering in the south renders everything kosher, as if the horrible suffering in Gaza pales in comparison. Everyone is hungry for revenge, and that hunger is excused by the need for "deterrence," after it was already proved that the killing and the destruction in Lebanon did not achieve it....

It is doubtful whether Hamas will be cut down to size as a result of this wretched war. Yet, the face of the state has been cut down to size, as have civilian elites who are apathetic and scared. The "peace camp," if it ever existed, has been cut down to size. Attorney General Menachem Mazuz authorized the Ghayan killing, regardless of the cost. Haim Oron, the leader of the "new left-wing movement," supported the launch of this foolish war.

Nobody is coming to the rescue - of Gaza or even of the remnants of humanity and Israeli democracy. The statesmen, the jurists, the poets, the authors, academe, and the news media - pitch black over the abyss. When the time comes for reckoning, we will need to remember the damage this war did to Israel: The blood pipeline it laid has been completed.

You will never read anything remotely like this in the pages of the New York Times -- or anywhere else in the "respectable" mainstream American media. But you can read it in Israel. Levy is right: no one is coming to rescue Gaza: not the UN, not the kowtowing Arab tyrannies (read the "Angry Arab" for the most scathing revelations of the cowardice and betrayal of these regimes), and certainly not the Suddenly Silent One who will be the president of the United States in a few days. [For more on this silence and its implications, see another excellent piece from Arthur Silber here.]
(c) 2009 Chris Floyd

Are You Ready For 2009?
Top Ten Checklist for Health and Wealth Preparedness
By Mike Adams

As the new year rolls in, the mainstream media seems to be saying now that 2008 is over, things will automatically get better for the economy. "Good bye 2008!" say the headlines. And "Hello New Year!"

The trouble is, in Washington D.C. there have been no decisions made whatsoever that could reasonably be expected to produce a better result this year. Let me review where we are right now as 2009 rolls in:

* The health care system in America remains a complete disaster, costing the nation over 20 percent of its GDP in disease treatment costs while investing zero dollars in real disease prevention. The government health regulators are crooks, the health industry is run by for-profit corporations, the doctors are nutritionally illiterate, the medical journals are run by Big Pharma interests and now even the Nobel Prize Foundation is influenced by drug companies.

Meanwhile, the free speech rights of health supplement companies continue to be illegally censored by the FDA, leaving consumes in a state of nutritional illiteracy and forcing them to resort to the use of dangerous medications to treat symptoms (rather than using safe nutritional supplements that actually prevent disease).

From a health perspective, there is no evidence whatsoever to support the notion that 2009 will be better than 2008. In fact, all the evidence points to a continued worsening of public health as long as Big Pharma runs the medical agenda.

* On the financial front, the picture is even worse: Not only was there absolutely nothing done in 2008 that would make the financial picture in 2009 look better, most of the financial decisions made in 2008 have primed the pump to make 2009 look even worse!

Case in point: Instead of letting incompetent companies and financial institutions fail so that stupid decision makers could be removed from the economic gene pool, the Federal Reserve actually conspired with the U.S. Treasury to counterfeit trillions of dollars in new debt and deliver it directly into the hands of the most incompetent people they could find!

They called it a bail out, but in reality it was an organized looting of the public's salaries and savings by a bunch of Washington crooks. And it won't rescue anything: Since when did rewarding incompetent people with more cash ever result in smarter economic decisions being made?

If anything, 2009 is going to be even worse than 2008 in terms of real economic effects on the nation. And in addition to all the new jobless, the new wave of homeless and the ever-expanding numbers of the clueless, we are now facing the looming threat of currency inflation that will kick in once the economic plunge hits bottom and levels off.

The bottom line? On both health and wealth issues, the American people are being screwed, as usual. It's not just the American people, of course: The Brits are also being screwed by their own government, which is about the same as being screwed by the American government but with a lot more surveillance cameras.

Is there any good news?

Astonishingly, I'm not a pessimist, and I do see some areas of possibility for good news in 2009.

The first, most noticeable opportunity for change involves a new administration in the White House. But as I've said before, those who think Barack Obama will magically sweep away the problems are kidding themselves: Obama may be from a different political party, but he's still a product of a corrupt political culture that inevitably appeases the corporations while betraying the People.

I strongly suspect Obama was simply "allowed" to be elected so he could be the fall guy for a collapsing economy. It's the ol' "Blame the black guy!" tactic.

Still, if he's clever enough, he might be able to engineer a few victories against Big Pharma and other exploitive industries that continue to threaten the People and the environment.

Regardless of what Obama is able to accomplish, there are plenty of things you can do to make sure you're prepared as much as possible for 2009.

Ten things you need to prepare for 2009

Here are ten things you need to have ready for 2009, in my opinion:

1. Protect your health - Free yourself from dependence on the conventional medical system by getting off all pharmaceuticals, if you can. Get onto natural supplements and disease prevention strategies combined with regular exercise, sunlight and stress reduction. The more you're in charge of your own health, the less likely you are to become a victim of a failed health care system.

2. Continue to collect precious metals - While prices may be high right now, they look likely to go even higher in the next few years. Gold could be headed towards $2500 / ounce in a financial collapse scenario, for example. Many of the advisors I trust the most believe gold will get cheaper during the first quarter of 2009 (perhaps dipping below $700 an ounce), but in the long term may skyrocket to new highs. My recommended source of raw gold and silver bars? 3. Stock up on anti-virals - One scenario I've reviewed involves the following: Skyrocketing prices on food, leading to the enforcement of price controls on food, followed by widespread shortages of affordable food, which causes a new wave of starvation among America's poor. That, in turn, could lead to new outbreaks of infectious disease in urban areas, and that means it's smart to stock up on plenty of anti-virals. Baseline Nutritionals sells the best I've ever found. It's called "Super Viragon" and you can find it at

4. Reduce your debt - To the extent you can, get out of debt or take steps to drastically reduce your debt. Debt is like a prison, and in an economy where jobs are becoming more scarce and incomes could become increasingly worthless, you don't need the added burden of debt. As many people are doing right now, consider downgrading your lifestyle to live more simply, more cheaply and more responsibly.

5. Establish your own income - Along with reducing your debt, it's important to establish your own income streams that can't be taken away from you. The new, emerging direct sales companies continue to provide the best opportunities for that, and the two I'm participating in are Moxxor and ShopToEarth. ShopToEarth is already growing rapidly as brick-and-mortar retailers go belly up and consumers shift their buying to online retailers. With ShopToEarth, you can earn commission checks as people shop online at hundreds of different retailers, including natural health companies. To learn more, email or call Suzy at 209-710-8299. If you're on the East Coast, call Jonathan at 516-510-2204.

6. Have some long-term storable food - The Federal Reserve is right now taking credit for averting a total financial collapse in 2008. That's interesting, because they never used those words during the event, only after. But they're right about one thing: The world's financial system very nearly did collapse in early October, 2008. What does all this have to do with food? If the financial situation gets worse in 2009, we could experience disruptions in the food supply (because the production and delivery of food requires a financial infrastructure to be working), and that means those who don't have some stored food set aside could end up going hungry. (It's the new national weight loss plan!)

7. Share a message of optimistic preparedness - Don't be the only person on your block (or in your building) who's prepared for the expected. The better prepared your neighbors are, the safer YOU are. So spread the word about basic preparedness, but don't tell people the whole truth about what you suspect might be coming, or you'll freak them out. Just talk about family preparedness and safety, and don't use words like "collapse" or "starvation." Remember, when you're talking to mainstream Americans, you have to water it down to their level of ignorance, and most Americans still believe idiotic things like "the Federal Reserve is helping me!" or "the FDA is protecting me!" so you sort of have to talk to them within the frame of a belief system they can grasp.

8. Acquire basic preparedness items - Have you stored water yet? Do you have a dynamo flashlight? (The Freeplay brand is the best.) How about a supplemental source of heat? Do you have a cold-weather sleeping bag that's portable? Do you have a good pair of shoes for hiking across town in mud or snow? Do you have a lighter? A good pocket knife? Topical antiseptics? Ceramic water filter? Dynamo-powered radio? If you didn't answer YES to each of these questions, then you're just begging to be victimized in 2009 by something: Natural disaster, power grid failure, social unrest, bank holidays, gas shortages, crop failures, earthquake or who knows what. By the way, I offer hundreds of suggestions and recommendations on all this in my audio course on health preparedness and financial protection. See

9. Get your herbal medicine chest ready - Do you have a collection of herbs (or herbal products) to treat acute health conditions? Growing some aloe, peppermint, rosemary and cilantro can add significantly to your "live" medicine chest, and you can also supplement with dried bulk herbs from various sources. I also happen to stock my emergency medicine chest with a few over-the-counter drugs for emergency situations, including topical antibiotics, topical dental anesthetic, rubbing alcohol and a few other similar items. I would only use them as a last resort, of course, but it's wise to have them available if needed for acute, emergency situations. If you have a friendly doctor, see if you can get a prescription of Cipro or other hard-core antibiotics, for emergency use only. They have a shelf life of several years.

10. Get your head straight! I see too many Americans on both extremes of the preparedness spectrum. On one side are the gullible sheeple who won't prepare anything because they foolishly believe their government will protect them no matter what happens. (How quickly they forgot Hurricane Katrina, huh?) On the other extreme are the "Holy crap the world is going to end!" worriers who freak out and think they're doomed. The world isn't going to end, even if the United States of America as we know it does end in the coming years. Don't freak out. Things will get better after this storm passes, so stay healthy, stay optimistic and simply be prepared to cover your basic needs from 2009 - 2012. At the very least, you'll feel more confident. You might even save your own life.

Welcome to 2009!

2009 is here, and we don't know exactly what it will bring, but we do know that those individuals who prepare for the unknown will have the best outcomes. If you want to have a brighter future for yourself and your family, then continue to make wise decisions about your health, your finances and your safety.

Remember: It's the decisions you make today that will determine your experiences tomorrow. If you want to find yourself calm, assured and well protected through 2012, then follow the steps outlined here and get wisely prepared. However, if you prefer to lose your mind and panic, then just do nothing! Panic does not require planning.

By the way, panic is the path that has been chosen by more than 90% of the population. Through their denial of reality, their refusal to prepare for even minor disruptions in the complexity of modern society, and their outright abandonment of basic safety sense, they are practically begging -- through their lack of action -- to be harmed, starved or killed by unknown events in 2009 and beyond.

Remember this above all: No government will save you. FEMA is a joke. The National Guard is spread too thin. And there are far too many unprepared victims for any government to be able to handle them all. The only reason emergency services in society are able to operate today is because only a tiny fraction of a percent of the population ever needs them at any one time. Raise the number of desperate victims to just 2% of the population, and emergency services are instantly and utterly overwhelmed.

If you're up for some reading, I strongly encourage you to read this book by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jared Diamond: COLLAPSE: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed .This book focuses more on the environmental causes of collapse, but its lessons apply to all such "unintended disasters" unleashed by complex societies, including financial storms and food supply threats posed by monoculture practices.

That book will teach you a lot about the weaknesses in the complex supply chains of our modern society, from finance to manufacturing and agriculture.

Happy reading!
(c) 2009 Mike Adams is the editor of Natural News

Happy New Year; Well, It Can Be
By Mike Folkerth

Happy New Year. Okay, that's enough happiness. On the first day of the New Year the news broke that the "National Commission on Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing," a 15-member panel created by Congress, (panel in this instance is directly interchangeable with scapegoat) has proposed raising gas and diesel taxes by 50%. And encouraging states to impose higher fuel taxes and tolls.

This is one of those days that I really don't know where to start. Ya see the Democrats were railing on the Republicans about high gas prices during the election campaigns. Well...we no longer have high gas prices due to being in what appears to be a recession of enduring quality.

Now that we are in recession, gas consumption is falling right along with the gas prices and that's good; right? Well no. Government isn't collecting enough taxes to pay for the budgeted road and bridge repairs that were predicated to magically arrive on the flawed premise of exponential growth in tax collection. Well, darn it anyway Earl.

Now that we are saving money on gas, government's solution is to tax our short lived good fortune. In other words, the oil companies who produce and distribute our life giving fuel aren't worthy of profits, but the government is certainly worthy of higher taxation. The dog is now in an endless pursuit of his tail.

Another solution of course is not raising taxes at all, but rather for government to fix the roads and bridges by employing millions of the unemployed and putting the bill on the tab. That, if you will remember, is Mr. Obama's idea.

Yet another solution that is being bantered about is charging tax in direct proportion to highway use. If you drive more, you pay more. Don't worry about fairness here. If you stay at home, you still pay more, but in a sneaky government sort of way termed indirect taxation.

Ya see, the folks who continue to drive will be those who deliver goods and services to those who stay at home. Having higher fuel costs will necessitate their passing along the new elevated taxes in the form of increased costs in goods and services and our government will once more become the ONLY beneficiaries of yet another round of purposely induced inflation.

I predicted the conundrum of reduced government tax collection some months ago. Not only will all levels of government fall short of their ability to pay for previously budgeted items, the additional cost of supporting the growing legions of the unemployed will continue to rise.

Not to mention the very real fact that during the entire period of declining jobs within the private sector, government has continued to hire. And since government's only source of income is taxation, that leaves two distinct possibilities of dealing with reduced tax collection. One, would be to continue to bleed red ink and increase deficit spending at every level of government, and two, would be to increase taxation on an already strapped tax paying public.

To cut to the quick of the matter, in order to stop the current death spiral of deficit spending in both the public and private sectors; the U.S. economy will have to rebound to levels well above post recession highs. In other words, hyper-growth.

Add to the problem the long known issue that yesterday officially began the second year of baby-boomers reaching the magic age of 62, and who will steadily become eligible for Social Security. That line at the Social Security (and soon the Medicare) window is 78 MILLION deep and SEVENTEEN years long. The Social Security Administration has now began publishing the dates that Social Security will fail on the correspondence form letters to recipients.

Those who read this blog on a regular basis know that I have predicted the unfortunate scenario that the U.S. has reached zenith for increasing GDP when adjusted for inflation. I do not believe that hyper-growth is a physical possibility. If I am correct and if our leadership continues to increase population as the long practiced cure-all elixir to economic stability; the results will plainly be one of more people sharing the same diminishing pie; i.e., a diminishing standard of living.

Anyone who sees my economic arguments differently certainly has an open forum to air your beliefs, I would be thrilled to be proven wrong. In the mean time, I continue to advise the same remedy; don't drink the government kool-aid and simplify your life on your own terms. Make 2009 the year that you began to live simple and live well.
(c) 2009 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...

"Those who profess to favor freedom, yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightening. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will."
~~~ Frederick Douglass

Consumers Can Rescue The Economy
By Joel S. Hirschhorn

When I was young talk about millions of dollars impressed me. When I was older talk about billions of dollars dismayed me. Now, regular talk about trillions of dollars, especially government spending, nauseates me. People never seem to learn that they control the fate of the American economy.

It is far too easy to blame in bad times or thank in good times Wall Street, the government, or super-rich and powerful financial entities. In actual fact it is always the spending of money by the general population on consumer products and services, housing, cars, or investments that drives the economy. The core problem is that the public does not act in concert to serve its own interests but, instead, takes its cues from the external world and puts its trust in the wrong people and entities.

In other words, besides all the blame that rightfully can be heaped on many others for the current recession, it is also true that the public through its dollars drove the nation and the world into the current meltdown, mostly by using far too much borrowing. They got suckered into using easy credit. True, in many cases, they acted on incorrect and intentionally misleading information and were taken advantage of. But so much of this consumer behavior was driven by greed or stupidity. Confidence was placed in government regulation, Congress, mortgage and other financial companies, banks, and more generally in the plutocracy that runs everything that matters. We had delusional prosperity because most of the population had willingly let themselves be deluded or manipulated by the power elites running the government and the economy. In essence, consumer power was usurped or pirated by the worst people in our society.

Here is the most critical fact. Consumers control over two thirds of the economic activity of the nation. Long before the current economic meltdown I kept writing about the potential political power of consumers. To get desired government actions, millions of consumers could threaten to cut their spending in order to get actions, like stopping the Iraq war or impeaching George W. Bush. But without leadership consumers just kept borrowing and spending, maintaining the delusional prosperity that they themselves propelled. Now they must act to fix things.

Now that the economic meltdown has hit us very, very hard it is critically important for people to understand that depending on the usual power groups to turn the economy around is dumb. Thinking that President Obama, Congress and various federal agencies, in particular, will save us is continuing the delusional thinking that has been like a chronic disease.

American consumers must understand that literally within days and weeks THEY themselves could turn around the economy. I was struck by data from the Federal Reserve that there is, even after the grotesque economic meltdown, presently a historic amount of cash is in bank and money market accounts, an astounding $8.85 trillion. Look at that number again. Relative to all the government bailouts and likely actions to stimulate the economy, that number is remarkable. That humongous amount of cash (not the value of homes and investments) comes to about $29,000 for every man, woman and child in the nation, or roughly $88,000 per household.

Your first thought may be "I don't have that kind of cash!" In fact, economic inequality has risen terribly in recent years, helped by various public policies, making the affluent rich and the rich super-rich (and most of the middle class poorer). This means that much of this national cash belongs to a relatively small fraction of the population, perhaps 20 to 30 million people.

No matter how much cash we have, we must put our faith in ourselves more than the government or the business and investment sectors to turn the economy around. The more cash you have, of course, the greater your potential power to push economic recovery. We often hear about consumer confidence. Whether people are in the mood to spend or whether they have become too afraid for their personal financial security, causing them to spend as little as possible.

To turn the stock market and just about every segment of the private sector around, 10 to 20 million Americans must grab their inherent consumer power and start spending and investing with gusto, from home appliances, computers, cars, clothing, furniture, new homes, travel, and so on.

The stock market would immediately start to climb up, retail stores would stop closing, the automotive sector would resume producing cars, companies would start rehiring and the news media would start pumping out good news that, in turn, would trigger still more consumer confidence and spending. Suddenly, a positive spiral of economic activity replaces the hoarding of cash that has driven the negative economic spiral.

Think of that number $8.85 trillion again. Think of it relative to the billions and trillions constantly talked about to spur economic recovery through bailouts and other government actions, all of which must somehow channel money into consumers' pockets or make credit for them more available. A modest fraction of all that cash, say a quarter, has the economic power to do more good than anything the government does. Better than all those government actions is the absolute certainty that rapid increases in consumer spending and investment would definitely drive the economy upwards. Positive consumer confidence can feed on itself psychologically, become a viral message that shoots the economy forward, reverses unemployment, makes stocks and mutual funds and, therefore, retirement accounts more valuable, and so on.

We sure could use some national leadership that motivates and inspires use of consumer power, rather than all the blabbering about what the government should or should not do. Americans have the choice to depend on politicians or to depend on themselves. Either use YOUR cash-power or remain victims of greed and corruption, as well as the inevitable incompetence of politicians and government officials. Consumer power awaits you. The nation needs it to avoid still more massive federal deficits and borrowing and inevitable tax increases. We the people must do much than vote; we must use our dollars to save our own financial health. Unless we shift our thinking and spend, we will stay in economic hell for a long time. We are the economic stimulus solution we've been waiting for.
(c) 2009 Joel S. Hirschhorn observed our corrupt federal government firsthand as a senior official with the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the National Governors Association and is the author of Delusional Democracy - Fixing the Republic Without Overthrowing the Government. To discuss issues write the author.

We Lived to Tell the Story: Lebanon Rescued Us
By Cynthia McKInney

Yesterday, we met with the President of Lebanon, the Chief of the Military, and the Interior Minister who all thanked us for responding and risking our lives on a mission of mercy; we profusely thanked them for rescuing us.

What would we have done, stranded out at sea, prohibited from reaching our destination, low on fuel, with a badly damaged boat if Lebanon had not accepted us? Lebanon sent their ships to find us. Lebanon rescued us. Lebanon welcomed us. And we are truly thankful.

It's official now. We've been told that the sturdy, wood construction of our boat, Dignity, is the reason we are still alive. Fiberglass would probably not have withstood the impact of the Israeli attack and under different circumstances, we might not be here to tell the story. Even at that, the report that came to us yesterday after the Captain and First Mate went back to Sour (Tyre) to inspect the boat was that it was sinking, the damage is extensive, and the boat will take, in their estimation, at least one month to repair. Tomorrow, we will bring the Dignity from Sour to Beirut. And now, we must decide what to do and from where we will do it and how we are to get back to wherever that might be.

My personal, and I know the group's, thanks must go to Al Jazeera, that allowed three of their reporters to be onboard with us on our voyage. As a result, Al Jazeera carried the story of the Dignity live, from castoff in Cyprus when our spirits were high, right up through the manacing maneuvers of the huge, super fast Israeli ships before they rammed us, the Israeli calls on the ship phone after the ramming calling us terrorists and subversives and telling us to return to Cyprus (even though the Israelis later claimed that they didn't know who we were, they knew enough about us to tell us where we had come from), and the fact that we didn't have enough fuel to follow their instructions, right up to their threat to fire at us if we didn't turn around, ending with our beaten-up boat limping into Sour harbor in Lebanon. Al Jazeera carried our story as "breaking news" and performed a real service to its audience and to us. Al Jazeera called the Israelis to inquire about the incident right as it was happening and I am sure the Israelis were prepared to leave none to tell the story. Al Jazeera told the story and documented it as it was happening.

One of those Al Jazeera reporters with us was Sami El-Haj, who was detained in Guantanamo by the United States for six incredibly long years. What an honor to even exchange glances with such a humble man who had endured so much pain at the hands of the U.S. government. I apologized to him that my tax dollars were being used in such a despicable way. And Sami's crime according to the U.S.? Born in Sudan, and reporting for Al Jazeera in Afghanistan, Sami was the wrong color, the wrong nationality, the wrong religion, reporting for the wrong news outfit, telling us the truth about a wrong war. And for that he survived incarceration for six long years. Sami El-Haj, Guantanamo prisoner number 345.

Another incredibly committed journalist who was with us was CNN's Karl Penhaul. Karl reported the truth even when his own station was repeating Israeli disinformation. The fact that we were traveling with these alert journalists added to the flat-footedness and obvious crudeness of the Israeli response. Sadly, Israel has changed its story too many times to count, and that's because they are not telling the truth.

We lived to tell the story. Karl's incredible reporting, just a portion of our story, can be seen on CNN, where there's also video and a photo of our damaged boat. A little more of the story and film of the extensive damage can be seen here.

This video and the photos of Karl's report is particularly interesting given that Israel claims that our boat was only scratched and that, in actuality, our captain, while trying to outmaneuver them, damaged their warship.

I'm told that CNN only played my full statement once--and that's the time that it aired live. Of course, they cut the reference to the U.S.S. Liberty. What are they afraid of?

Last night I was on, along with others who were on the Dignity, and we debated a representative from WINEP, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. I reminded the audience that the Palestinians don't have nuclear weapons, depleted uranium munitions, white phosphorous, or F-16s, but the Israelis do. The facts, however, tend to get garbled after being processed by the "Grand Wurlitzer" organ of state-sponsored disinformation utilizing the world's press.

With the truth clearly on our side, Israel has been reduced to releasing the ridiculous bombast below, given to me by a reporter who came to our hotel in Beirut for a visit. With their multiple, conflicting stories, it is clear that the Israelis did not expect us to live to tell the truth.

On the drive from Sour through Saida to Beirut, we were welcomed like heroes because our ordeal had been seen by everyone on Al Jazeera. The mayor of Sour came to welcome us. The mayor of Saida insisted that we stop there, on our way to Beirut, for a special ceremony. But there was something else that was visible along our drive, and that is the devastation that Lebanon, itself, has received as a result of the Israeli war machine. The scars of the war are still evident everywhere. I will write more on that tomorrow.

And one final note, President-elect Obama roared like a mighty lion onto the political scene, but now he is as silent as a lamb in the face of the death and destruction that is happening in Gaza. As we approach the birthday celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. let us remember what Dr. King said:

"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."

And after five days of aerial bombardment by Israel, the carnage in Gaza continues.

Here is the palaver that the Israelis put out for public consumption. It is pitiful that a powerful and mighty country like Israel would be reduced to publishing something so petty and weak as the following press release dated December 30, 2008:

Seal: Consulate General of Israel to the Southeast

Press Release

Office of Media Affairs


Israel continues to take its humanitarian relief efforts in Gaza seriously. Border crossings into Gaza remain open, and every effort is being made to deliver aid to the Palestinian people. Nearly 100 trucks carrying relief supplies entered Gaza on the 28th & 29th of December and additional shipments are arriving. Israel is working closely with UNSCO, UNRWA, the Red Cross, and WHO to ensure the entry of the required aid, especially food and medical equipment.

Unfortunately, former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney has taken it upon herself to commit an act of provocation, leading a small boat of supposed assistants into the conflict zone. She endangered herself, her assistants, and the vessel's crew. The Israeli navy hailed Ms. McKinney but the former Congresswoman failed to respond, thereby leading to the incident. We regret that during this time of crisis, while Israel is battling with the terrorist organization of Hamas and defending its citizens, that we are forced to deal with Ms. McKinney's irresponsible behavior.

Consulate General of Israel
to the Southeast
1100 Spring St NW, Ste 440
Atlanta, GA 30309-2823

Michael Printy Arthur
Director of Media Affairs

For additional information, please visit our website.
(c) 2008 Cynthia McKinney

The Dead Letter Office...

Heil Bush,

Dear editor Goldfarb,

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, Vidkun Quisling and last year's winner Volksjudge Anthony (Fat Tony) Kennedy.

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution, your support of our two coup d'etats, your ability to make Israel's mass murder and genocide seem warranted against the sub-human Palestinians and Arabs in general, Iraq and these many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Media 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 emerald clusters presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Bush at a gala celebration at "der Wolf's Lair," formally "Rancho de Bimbo," on 01-17-2009. We salute you Herr Goldfarb, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Cheney

Heil Bush

Orwell, Blinding Tribalism, Selective Terrorism, And Israel/Gaza
By Glenn Greenwald

Former McCain-Palin campaign spokesman and current Weekly Standard editor Michael Goldfarb notes that Israel, a couple of days ago, dropped a 2,000-pound bomb on a Gazan home which killed a top Hamas leader . . . in addition to 18 others, including his four wives and nine of his children. About the killing of those innocent civilians, Goldfarb writes (h/t John Cole via email):

The fight against Islamic radicals always seems to come around to whether or not they can, in fact, be deterred, because it's not clear that they are rational, at least not like us. But to wipe out a man's entire family, it's hard to imagine that doesn't give his colleagues at least a moment's pause. Perhaps it will make the leadership of Hamas rethink the wisdom of sparking an open confrontation with Israel under the current conditions.

That, of course, is just a slightly less profane version of Marty Peretz's chest-beating proclamation that the great value of the attack on Gaza is to teach those Arabs a lesson: "do not fuck with the Jews."

There are few concepts more elastic and subject to exploitation than "Terrorism," the all-purpose justifying and fear-mongering term. But if it means anything, it means exactly the mindset which Goldfarb is expressing: slaughtering innocent civilians in order to "send a message," to "deter" political actors by making them fear that continuing on the same course will result in the deaths of civilians and -- best of all, from the Terrorist's perspective -- even their own children and other family members.

To the Terrorist, by definition, that innocent civilians and even children are killed isn't a regrettable cost of taking military action. It's not a cost at all. It's a benefit. It has strategic value. Goldfarb explicitly says this: "to wipe out a man's entire family, it's hard to imagine that doesn't give his colleagues at least a moment's pause."

That, of course, is the very same logic that leads Hamas to send suicide bombers to slaughter Israeli teenagers in pizza parlors and on buses and to shoot rockets into their homes. It's the logic that leads Al Qaeda to fly civilian-filled airplanes into civilian-filled office buildings. And it's the logic that leads infinitely weak and deranged people like Goldfarb and Peretz to find value in the killing of innocent Palestinians, including -- one might say, at least in Goldfarb's case: especially -- children.

* * * * *

One should be clear that this sociopathic indifference to (or even celebration over) the deaths of Palestinian civilians isn't representative of all supporters of the Israeli attack on Gaza. It's unfair to use the Goldfarb/Peretz pathology to impugn all supporters of the Israeli attack. It's certainly possible to support the Israeli offensive despite the deaths of these civilians, to truly lament the suffering of innocent Palestinians but still find the war, on balance, to be justifiable.

Those who favor the attack on Gaza due to that calculus are certainly misguided about the likely outcome. And many war supporters who fall into this more benign category are guilty of insufficiently weighing the deaths of Palestinian innocents and, relatedly, of such overwhelming emotional and cultural attachment to Israel and Israelis that they long ago ceased viewing this conflict with any remnant of objectivity.

I can't express how many emails I've received in the last week from people identifying themselves as "liberals" (and, overwhelmingly, American Jews); telling me that they agree with my views in almost all areas other than Israel; and then self-righteously insisting that I imagine what it's like to live in Southern Israel with incoming rocket fire from Hamas, as though that will change my views on the Israel/Gaza war. Obviously, it's not difficult to imagine the understandable rage that Israelis feel when learning of another attack on Israeli civilians, in exactly the way that American rage over the 9/11 attacks was understandable. But just as that American anger didn't justify anything and everything that followed, the fact that there are indefensible attacks on Israeli civilians doesn't render the (far more lethal) attacks on Gaza either wise or just -- as numerous Jewish residents of Sderot themselves are courageously arguing in opposing the Israeli attack.

More to the point: for those who insist that others put themselves in the position of a resident of Sderot -- as though that will, by itself, prove the justifiability of the Israeli attack -- the idea literally never occurs to them that they ought to imagine what it's like to live under foreign occupation for 4 decades (and, despite the 2005 "withdrawal from Gaza," Israel continues to occupy and expand its settlements on Palestinian land and to control and severely restrict many key aspects of Gazan life). No thought is given to what it is like, what emotions it generates, what horrible acts start to appear justifiable, when you have a hostile foreign army control your borders and airspace and internal affairs for 40 years, one which builds walls around you, imposes the most intensely humiliating conditions on your daily life, blockades your land so that you're barred from exiting and prevented from accessing basic nutrition and medical needs for your children to the point where a substantial portion of the underage population suffers from stunted growth.

So extreme is their emotional identification with one side (Israel) that it literally never occurs to them to give any thought to any of that, to imagine what it's like to live in those circumstances. Nor does this thought occur to them:

I was trained from an early age to view this group as my group, to identify with them emotionally, culturally, religiously. Maybe that -- and not an objective assessment of these events -- is why I continuously side with that group and see everything from its perspective and justify whatever it does, why I find the Dick Cheney/Weekly Standard/neoconservative worldview repellent in every situation except when it comes to Israel, when I suddenly find it wise and vigorously embrace it.

Those who defend American actions in every case, or who find justification in attacks on Israeli civilians, or who find simplistic moral clarity in a whole range of other complex and protracted disputes where all sides share infinite blame, are often guilty of the same refusal/inability to at least try to minimize this sort of ingrained tribalistic blindness.

* * * * *

Still, there is a substantial difference between, on the one hand, basically well-intentioned people who are guilty of excessive emotional and cultural identification with one side of the dispute and, on the other, those who adopt the Goldfarb/Peretz psychopathic derangement of belittling rage over widespread civilian deaths as mere "whining" or even something to view as a strategic asset. The latter group is a subset of war supporters and evinces every defining attribute of the Terrorist.

Those who giddily support not just civilian deaths in Gaza but every actual and proposed attack on Arab/Muslim countries -- from the war in Iraq to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon to the proposed attacks on Iran and Syria and even continued escalation in Afghanistan -- are able to do so because they don't really see the Muslims they want to kill as being fully human. For obvious reasons, one typically finds this full-scale version of sociopathic indifference -- this perception of brutal war as a blood-pumping and exciting instrument for feeling vicarious sensations of power and strength from a safe distance -- in the society's weakest, most frightened, and most insecure individuals.

Here's right-wing blogger (and law professor) Glenn Reynolds revealing that wretched mindset for all to see:

"Cycles of violence" continue until one side wins decisively. Personally, I'd rather that were the Israelis, since they're civilized people and not barbarians.

Or, as Goldfarb put it: "it's not clear that they are rational, at least not like us."

If you see Palestinians as something less than civilized human beings: as "barbarians" -- just as if you see Americans as infidels warring with God or Jews as sub-human rats -- then it naturally follows that civilian deaths are irrelevant, perhaps even something to cheer. For people who think that way, arguments about "proportionality" won't even begin to resonate -- such concepts can't even be understood -- because the core premise, that excessive civilian deaths are horrible and should be avoided at all costs, isn't accepted. Why should a superior, civilized, peaceful society allow the welfare of violent, hateful barbarians to interfere with its objectives? How can the deaths or suffering of thousands of barbarians ever be weighed against the death of even a single civilized person?

So many of these conflicts -- one might say almost all of them -- end up shaped by the same virtually universal deficiency: excessive tribalistic identification (i.e.: the group with which I was trained to identify is right and good and just and my group's enemy is bad and wrong and violent), which causes people to view the world only from the perspective of their side, to believe that X is good when they do it and evil when it's done to them. X can be torture, or the killing of civilians in order to "send a message" (i.e., Terrorism), or invading and occupying other people's land, or using massive lethal force against defenseless populations, or seeing one's own side as composed of real humans and the other side as sub-human, evil barbarians.

As George Orwell wrote in Notes on Nationalism -- with perfect prescience to today's endless conflicts (h/t Hume's Ghost):

All nationalists have the power of not seeing resemblances between similar sets of facts. A British Tory will defend self-determination in Europe and oppose it in India with no feeling of inconsistency. Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage - torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians - which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by 'our' side ... The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.

For those who evaluate moral questions from that blindingly self-regarding perspective, anything and everything becomes easily justifiable.

UPDATE: The Israeli Supreme Court several days ago ordered the Government to allow reporters into Gaza, yet Israel continues to block all journalists from entering. The reason, as casual_observer notes in comments, is clear:

The reason Israel has done this must be that they will do whatever they must--including ignoring their own high court--to limit evidence that Gazans are indeed human beings and that they are suffering the horrors that occur when war is unleashed on densely-packed urban civilians.

Israel knows full well that reporting from Gaza turns Gazans from vague abstractions to suffering human beings. And they will not allow that reality to be communicated to the world.

Especially in the American media, there is a constant focus on the effects on civilians from the rocket attacks on Southern Israelis -- as well there should be, since that is an important part of the debate. But everyone should also be permitted to view the devastating effects on actual human beings from these Israeli bombing and artillery raids in Gaza. This truly horrific video -- purportedly of a recent Israeli bombing of a civilian Gazan market -- has been widely cited. I can't and don't vouch for its authenticity (UPDATE: there's good reason to believe it's not from an Israeli attack), but it's certainly reflective of the carnage in Gaza. It's much easier to undervalue the suffering imposed on The Other when you don't have to see it.
(c) 2009 Glenn Greenwald. was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book "How Would a Patriot Act?," a critique of the Bush administration's use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, "A Tragic Legacy", examines the Bush legacy.

The Absurd Persistence Of Domination
Of speciesism, capitalism, and shaking their foundations
By Jason Miller

Even the most ardent reactionaries, deluded 'patriots,' and apathetic cynics, whose myopic, Panglossian perspectives ensure that they continue to reflexively genuflect to the deeply criminal enterprise of American Capitalism and rationalize the savage imperialism of US foreign policy, are beginning to concede that we are in the midst of a crisis of epic proportions.

So lack of awareness, which is usually the first obstacle to solving a problem, isn't the real enemy here. Our chief foe is a swarm of greed-driven, self-absorbed, mean-spirited locust-like human beings who are dedicated to "reforming" and perpetuating capitalism, the very system that has led us to this woeful state of environmental, economic, social, and political affairs.

Capitalism, the systemization of greed, selfishness, subjugation, and exploitation camouflaged by the narcotic of consumerism, the irresistible illusion of equal opportunity for all, and its ostensible compatibility with liberal democracy, has seduced hundreds of millions of people into ignoring its contradictions, injustices, and malevolence.

Capitalism has inflicted deep wounds upon the Earth and is the persistent infection that must be eradicated to avert the sixth mass extinction, the ongoing torture and murder of billions of non-human animals, an acceleration of Climate Change, further economic collapse, mass starvation, severe shortages of potable water, perpetual resource wars, and a host of other catastrophic events.

While much of its foul stench emanates from the United States, the foul odor of capitalism has wafted its way into the nostrils of nearly every citizen on the globe. Capitalism's cockroach-like apologists, propagandists, beneficiaries, enforcers, and power brokers scurry in and out of nearly every nook and cranny of the planet.

Global and dominant as it is, capitalism is the culmination and perpetuator of a number of vile social, economic, political, and cultural elements and dynamics, many of which began rearing their ugly heads with the advent of agriculture, domestication and civilization. Starting about 10,000 years ago, as humans became "civilized," we alienated ourselves from nature, psychologically enabling us to exploit non-human animals and savagely abuse the Earth for our enrichment, amusement and comfort.

As a collective, we human animals have hubristically determined that we are the master species, endowing ourselves with the right to dominate, enslave, torture, humiliate, murder, and eat any sentient being on the planet (with the almost universal exception being the taboo of cannibalism-which is a bit perplexing considering the numerous other evils we inflict upon one another and the fact that human over-population is a tremendous problem).

Speciesism, the mental perversion that afflicts most people-causing them to view themselves as superior to all other species, is the one of the most blatantly exploitative and reprehensible of all human ideologies. Yet it remains "socially acceptable." Inextricably linked with the bourgeois belief in the supremacy of profit and property over life, speciesism reveals the ferocity and grotesquery of savage capitalism. Animal exploiting capitalists of all stripes, including ranchers, biomedical researchers, meat processors, egg producers, fast food restaurateurs, and their ilk spend billions of dollars on agitprop each year to ensure that both the law and those who consume their products continue to view non-human animals as property, worthy of no more consideration than a lawn-mower. In fact, many people treat their Lawn Boys far better than factory farmers treat "their" sows.

Remember that human slavery, in which certain members of the human species were reduced to the status of property, was once institutionalized. The United States, the self-proclaimed land of the free (and not coincidentally the nexus of parasitic and decaying capitalism), was one of the last "advanced" nations to abolish slavery. And abolition wouldn't have occurred had it not been for great sacrifices by many people of conscience and a civil war. Such is the pernicious and relentlessly cruel nature of capitalism.

Patriarchy and racism were once institutionalized too. Yet despite the fact that women and minorities have made significant legal, political, and social strides, the white man still wields tremendous power in this world, much of it economic in nature.

Overt and unapologetic imperialism and colonialism may be relics of the past, but conquest and subjugation still thrive under the guise of humanitarian intervention, loans to developing nations requiring corporate-friendly economic reforms, and aid to puppet regimes amenable to the rape of their country. All this to satisfy capitalism's insatiable appetite for new markets, cheap labor, and natural resources.

Many people are concerned about the devastating and noxious impact we humans are having upon the Earth. But thanks to corporate green-washing, the globalization of the American Way of Life, and the deep allegiance many people have to capitalism (a system that is based on infinite growth on a finite planet), the rape and plunder of Mother Nature continues at an alarming rate. Relentlessly bludgeoned by the unquestioned supremacy of capitalist "ideals," potential solutions that might interfere significantly with growth and profit are beaten to death before they can fully emerge from the womb.

Meanwhile, anti-capitalist radicals, including Marxists, socialists, anarchists, deep environmentalists, anarcho-primitivists, animal liberationists, members of indigenous movements, feminists, and many others who recognize that the problems we face are systemic in nature and that capitalism must go, remain marginalized, persecuted, ridiculed, vilified, and perhaps worst of all, divided.

American Capitalism's power elite, comprised of the upper strata of the economic, corporate, political, and military hierarchies, enjoy tremendous advantages over those who oppose them. Despite their obvious economic and military might, their most powerful weapon is actually their seemingly omnipotent abilities to prevent any ideology from challenging the national religion of capitalism, to maintain the allegiance of most of the working class, and to demonize those who dare to blaspheme against their economic rape.

In a recent interview, internationally-renowned progressive political analyst Michael Parenti described the means by which the ruling class manipulates the masses into supporting such an obviously wretched system:

"Through control of the universe of discourse, including the media, the professions, the universities, the publishing industry, many of the churches, the consumer society, the job market, and even the very socialization of our children and the prefiguring of our own perceptions, the ruling interests are able to exercise a prevailing ideological control that excludes any reasoned critique of the dominant paradigm."

It is imperative that those of us who recognize that electing a Democrat who is a racial minority and who talks a progressive game is a band-aid, at best, and that the real solution is to drive a stake through the heart of vampiric capitalism by uniting and by finding a means to take on the corporate media in such a way that we begin winning significant numbers of hearts and minds.

Anti-capitalist academics, writers, publishers, organizers, speakers, community leaders, politicians, and activists need effective conduits through which they can meet, communicate, educate one another, derive a sense of solidarity, and coordinate their efforts.

It is essential that we break down the perceived barrier between intellectuals and activists so that we can unify against regressive forces that thrive on inequality, injustice, environmental abuse, speciesism, and hierarchy-or in other words let's come together and crush those loathsome bastards who prosper via the domination and abuse of the Earth and its sentient inhabitants.

Derrick Jensen has called on rational people of conscience to form a culture of resistance against the soulless insanity of a status quo that empowers and rewards those who are the most sociopathic and the most devoid of empathy. And if we are to create this culture of resistance and strive to forge an egalitarian, just, ecological, non-speciesist and democratic society, it is crucial that we expand our moral circle and bring animal liberation into the fold.

Aside from the morally indefensible fact that we enslave, torture, and murder sentient beings who feel pain and fear just as we do, consider Charles Patterson's powerful argument he advanced in Eternal Treblinka. Patterson demonstrated that there is a frighteningly thin line between the abuse, objectification, and industrial torture we routinely inflict upon cows, for example, and that which we inflict upon other members of our own species. Many of the techniques the Nazis employed in the Holocaust came directly from the livestock and meat-packing industries.

Because our delusional notion of superiority is so deeply ingrained in our psyches, even many people of good conscience ignore the fact that non-human animals, who have no voice, no legal rights, and no viable means to defend themselves, are the ultimate victims of the 'might makes right' capitalist mentality. As the radical front line of a culture of resistance against a brutal social structure that thrives on abuse and exploitation, we need to attack the problem at its root. Leaving racism, sexism, classism and even Zionism in the dust, speciesism is the most enduring, savage, and widely accepted of the cultural ethos that enable capitalism to thrive, as it enables morally retarded wretches to pitilessly damn billions upon billions of innocent beings to a nightmare of Hobbesian proportions.

If we truly intend to subvert the dominant rapacious paradigm and replace it with something that will serve the greater good and heal the Earth, we must put animal liberation on our agenda.

So, how can we create a formidable culture of resistance and establish animal rights as one of the pillars of the radical agenda?

The Transformative Studies Institute (TSI) a radical educational entity that "fosters interdisciplinary research that will bridge multidisciplinary theory with activism in order to encourage community involvement that will attempt to alleviate social problems," is sponsoring Thomas Paine's Corner (TPC), which partners with Cyrano's Journal Online to provide a media platform for radical writers, scholars, poets, playwrights, activists, and groups. No significant social movement will take place if the intelligentsia is cloistered in ivory towers, alienated from the activists who need them for education and guidance. We have an abundance of theory, but a dearth of praxis. TSI and TPC intend to get ideas into the heads of those who will translate them into action!

Both TSI and TPC will work in conjunction with the Institute for Critical Animal Studies (ICAS) to promote "critical scholarly dialogue and research on the principles and practices of animal advocacy, animal protection, and animal-related policies in the fields of social sciences and humanities." ICAS, TSI, and TPC will push to catalyze the inclusion of animal liberation into the broader radical agenda through critical pedagogy and again through facilitating the conversion of theory into praxis.

With noted scholars, activists, thinkers, and writers such as Steve Best, William Blum, Ward Churchill, Anthony Nocella II, Richard J. White, John Asimakopoulos, Lisa Kemmerer, Gary Corseri, Jason Bayless, Michael Parenti, Adam Engel, Ed Duvin, Gore Vidal, Richard Kahn, Joe Bageant, John Steppling, and many others behind this ambitious under-taking, the project has great potential. We desperately need ventures like this one to succeed.

As Adorno wrote in Minima Moralia, "A breed of men has secretly grown up that hungers for the compulsion and restriction imposed by the absurd persistence of domination."

Capitalism and speciesism are woven into most of the world's cultural and socioeconomic DNA. This ensures that the sociopathic "breed of men" to which Adorno referred enjoy the perpetual existence of the "absurd persistence of domination." Which in turn is ensuring the rapid acceleration of widespread suffering and calamitous events.

As radical scholars or activists, we face the daunting task of exterminating capitalism and speciesism. And time grows short. Yet we can find solace in the fact that resistance is NOT futile!
(c) 2009 Jason Miller is a recovering US American middle class suburbanite who strives to remain intellectually free. His essays have been widely published, he is an associate editor for Cyrano's Journal Online, and publishes Thomas Paine's Corner within Cyrano's, a blog director for The Transformative Studies Institute and associate editor for the Journal for Critical Animal Studies. He welcomes your constructive correspondence.

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Steve Sack ~~~

W the Movie Music Video DJ Monkey's 3rd World War

To End On A Happy Note...

War (No More Trouble)
By Bob Marley

Until the philosophy which holds one race
Superior and another inferior
Is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned
Everywhere is war, me say war

That until there is no longer first class
And second class citizens of any nation
Until the colour of a man's skin
Is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes
Me say war

That until the basic human rights are equally
Guaranteed to all, without regard to race
Dis a war

That until that day
The dream of lasting peace, world citizenship
Rule of international morality
Will remain in but a fleeting illusion
To be pursued, but never attained
Now everywhere is war, war

And until the ignoble and unhappy regimes
That hold our brothers in Angola, in Mozambique,
South Africa sub-human bondage
Have been toppled, utterly destroyed
Well, everywhere is war, me say war

War in the east, war in the west
War up north, war down south
War, war, rumours of war

And until that day, the African continent
Will not know peace, we Africans will fight
We find it necessary and we know we shall win
As we are confident in the victory

Of good over evil, good over evil, good over evil
Good over evil, good over evil, good over evil
(c) 1978/2009 Bob Marley

Have You Seen This...

George Bush Idiot Quotes

Parting Shots...

The Top Ten Comedic News Stories Of 2008
By Will Durst

Okay. Just so you know: the Top Ten Comedic News Stories of the Year are as different from the Top Ten Legitimate News Stories of the Year as a tarantula infested banana tree is from a small paper bag of locking quarter- inch steel washers painted blue. Other stuff might have had a bigger impact on America and the World, such as an African American guy whose middle name is Hussein winning the Presidency of the United States. But so far, Mister Agent of Change is about as funny as over the counter ear drops. You can't mock hope right now. Too much like kicking small whimpering furry things with big eyes. Oh, he's bound to loosen up after a few weeks getting kicked around on Pennsylvania Avenue, but until then, here are the stories from 08 that were most filled with humorosityness.

10. Proposition 8. Organized religion goes out of its way to guarantee that gays will not be burdened with the right to be as miserable as the rest of us.

9. New York Governor and Emperor's Club member, Elliott Spitzer. Flies a hooker from New York to DC, because as we all know, there aren't enough hookers in DC. (535 that I can think of offhand) Gives her 4 grand and puts her up at the Mayflower Hotel. Now, that's a liberal. A conservative will try to get it for free in an airport men's room stall. Demonstrating fiscal responsibility.

8. Joe Biden. Has potential to fill gaffe gap being vacated by George Bush. Inserts foot in mouth so often, he should invest in mint- flavored shoelaces.

7. National Political Conventions. James Dobson's Focus on the Family called for a storm of biblical proportions to disrupt outdoor acceptance speech of Barack Obama on last day of the Democratic Convention. Hurricane Gustav slammed into New Orleans canceling first day of Republican Convention. Proving that either God has a sense of humor or... be extremely careful what you ask for.

6. Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. Gives a bad name to people with bad names. Something about the Springfield Capitol makes it work like a halfway house in reverse. Economy is so bad, Hair Helmet probably offered free shipping with Barack's Senate seat.

5. The Primaries.
1: Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee raises hand at a New Hampshire Presidential Debate when asked, "who doesn't believe in evolution?" In May, he explains he is still campaigning because "at this point, its survival of the fittest."
2: In Philadelphia, Senator Hillary Clinton says "in this race, I am Rocky Balboa." Obviously forgetting that in first movie, Rocky loses... To a black guy.

4. President George W Bush. Lame duck, but a good ducker. International community furious at Muntadhar al Zaidi. Not for trying to hit the President with his size 10s, but because...
1.) his aim was bad, and
2.) he wasn't a centipede.

3. Senator John McCain runs worst campaign ever. That includes New Coke, France in 39 and Cloris Leachman on Dancing With the Stars. Doesn't know how many houses he has. Should do what I do. Every time I get 4 houses, I trade them in for a hotel.

2. The Economy. When everybody in America knows the name of the Secretary of the Treasury, that's not good. Line of the year courtesy of an anonymous Wall Street broker: "This is worse than a divorce. I'm worth half what I was... and I'm still married."

1. Governor Sarah Palin. For those destined to go cold turkey on Bush, she is like a dose of methadone. And she's sticking around. How you going to keep them down in Juneau after they've seen Neiman- Marcus?
(c) 2009 Will Durst, is an actor, comic, writer, former radio talk show host and defense liability.

The Gross National Debt

Zeitgeist The Movie...

Issues & Alibis Vol 9 # 2 (c) 01/09/2009

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