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In This Edition

Naomi Klein wants us to, "Israel: Boycott, Divest, Sanction."

Uri Avnery with a must read, "How Many Divisions?"

Victoria Stewart is, "Going Forward."

Jim Hightower wonders, "Why Not Brand Presidential Libraries?"

Robert Fisk concludes, "Wherever I Go, I Hear The Same Tired Middle East Comparisons."

Amy Goodman says we have, "Nothing To Fear But No Health Care."

Chris Hedges hears, "The Language Of Death."

Chris Floyd visits, "Moloch's Altar."

Neil McLaughlin discovers that, "Only Three Companies In US Confirm Using BPA-Free Cans."

Mike Folkerth asks, "Is Your Job Based In Reality Or Fiction?"

Patricia Campbell reports, "Israel Bombs Health Service In Gaza."

Cynthia McKinney demands that they, "Let Gaza Live."

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke wins the coveted "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Glenn Greenwald covers, "Obama's Allegedly "New" Centrism And His ABC Interview."

Mary Pitt finds, "The Necessary Remedy."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department 'The Onion' announces, "Sixth Senate Page Dragged Away By Congressional Swamp Creature" but first Uncle Ernie explores. "The Perpetual Motion Machine."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Bill Schorr with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Ruben Bolling, Old American Century.Org, ANSWER, NOGW.Com, Warner Brothers, The Sun, Reuters, Associated Press, Issues & Alibis.Org and Pink & Blue Films.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

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

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

The Perpetual Motion Machine
By Ernest Stewart

"Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them. There is almost no kind of outrage, torture, imprisonment without trial, assassination, the bombing of civilians, which does not change its moral color when it is committed by 'our' side. The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them." ~~~ George Orwell

"All Americans will have to sacrifice to put the economy back on track.
Everybody's going to have to give. Everybody's going to have to have some skin in the game."
~~~ Barack Obama ~~~

"War is a matter of vital importance to the State; the province of life or death;
the road to survival or ruin. It is mandatory that it be thoroughly studied."
~~~ Sun Tzu ~~~

Ask any scientists worth their salt and they will tell you that there is no such thing as a perpetual motion machine. Even Leonardo Da Vinci once said, "Oh, ye seekers after perpetual motion, how many vain chimeras have you pursued? Go and take your place with the alchemists." Though thousands have tried to create such a thing no one has succeeded, or so they say.

With all due respect to the great Leonardo, I would beg to differ. Mankind created a perpetual motion machine that has been running without cessation since before the dawn of recorded history! A machine that runs even to this day! I refer, of course, to war!

A couple of good examples of this are our never-ending war against "terrorism," which creates on a daily basis many more "terrorists" than existed the day before. A better example is Israel who, for more than 60 years, has managed to keep their war going against the native inhabitants. Even is they manage to wipe out Hamas, the legally elected government of the Gaza ghetto, they will have created a thousand times more "terrorists" than they had before this latest invasion. And that is exactly what they meant to do to begin with! You cannot have a perpetual war if Peace were somehow to break out, so the murder must continue!

As Israel has been in a never-ending state of war since before its inception and is run by their military/industrial/media complex, a constant state of war is their greatest necessity. Israel could not exist without it.

Yes, I hear your cry; if they finally manage to kill all the Palestinians their perpetual motion machine will surely quit. Hardly. They still have on their agenda wars to conquer Lebanon, Syria, Jordon and Saudi Arabia and bring them into a "Greater Middle-Eastern Co-Prosperity Sphere". At their current rate that should keep the machine humming for hundreds of years to come or until the world gets tired of the Zionazis and bombs them back to the Bronze Age so that Israel can become one with its bronze age god, Yahweh! You remember Yahweh, the god of wandering, barbarian, syphilitic, sheep herders. A crazy god, created by crazy people (and people with endstage syphilis are certainly crazy and may see and talk to burning bushes and the like!), for crazy people, which explains why he is still so popular today with Christians, Muslims and Jews!

No, we've endured this perpetual motion machine for over 8,000 years; the question is how to turn it off!

In Other News

The "New Boss" has been busy of late giving speeches and making TV appearances. Often speaking about looking forward and not backwards at the War Crimes, Crimes Against Humanity and Crimes against the US Constitution and Bill of Rights committed by the current Junta. So, unless his Rethuglican puppet masters give him the ok, the thousands of crimes, acts of treason and acts of sedition will all be forgotten! What's important now is to drop all two party pretence and get everyone work together to screw and enslave the US populace!

Another theme Barry's on about is how we're all going to have to make sacrifices. Not the corpo-rats, not the billionaires who have robbed us all blind during the last eight years, no there will be tax cuts for them. Not the Pentagoons who "misplaced" several trillion dollars. No they'll be fully funded! It's you and I who are all but bled dry who are ask to bleed some more. Nor should you worry about losing your home. You'll soon have a roof over your head, a brand new cot and three squares a day of healthy saw-dust bread when you get to the "Happy Camp!" Oh, and don't expect him to implement any of those changes he was on about during the election cycle. Like impeachment, all of those changes are now off the table. The words, "gullible mother f-ckers" screams, and then echoes, through my mind!

One wonders how it feels to be an Obama supporter after being betrayed again and again. Do you suppose they're beginning to lose their faith? I wonder how long they can keep lying to themselves? Of course, the hard core followers will, just like Bush's 20%, go to their graves saying he was the best no matter what happens. No matter how many new wars he starts or how many existing wars he ramps up. No matter how bad the economy gets they'll still cheer him on and on.

As Cheney says to W in "W The Movie," "Sir, you can never go broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people." To which W replies, "Amen to that!" Thanks to the Sheeple we are sooooooooo f-cked!

And Finally

I see where the Frito Bandito has gotten totally out of hand across Mexico and the boys down at the Pentagoon are making plans accordingly. In fact, according to a new report from the U.S. Joint Forces Command, "Mexico is in danger of a rapid and sudden collapse due to criminal gangs and drug cartels."

The report goes on, "In terms of worse-case scenarios for the Joint Forces and indeed the world, two large and important states bear consideration for a rapid and sudden collapse: Pakistan and Mexico." I knew that Obama had dreams of a Pakistan invasion, but Mexico?

"The Mexican possibility may seem less likely, but the government, its politicians, police and judicial infrastructure are all under sustained assault and pressure by criminal gangs and drug cartels," the "JOE 2008" report continues.

"The outcome of that internal conflict in America's southern neighbor will have a 'major impact' on the stability of the Mexican state over the next several years." The Joint Forces Command, is a Defense Department combat command that includes all military service branches, both active and reserve.

The report warns that "any descent by Mexico into chaos would demand an American response based on the serious implications for homeland security alone." Well, so much for that wall. This is just in time for the North American Union anyway! Got your Ameros yet, America?


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.

We aren't asking for much-not thousands of dollars a month, not tens of thousands a year. What we need is simply enough money to cover expenses for the magazine. A few thousand dollars a year. A few hundred dollars a month. We cannot continue to go into debt to publish Issues and Alibis but at the same time we cannot, in good conscience, go quietly about our daily lives, remaining silent in face of the injustices perpetrated by our leaders and our government. So we need your help. We need your spare change. A dollar, five dollars, whatever you can contribute. Every penny makes a difference.

Ernest & Victoria Stewart


06-20-1944 ~ 01-05-2009
Now it's "Anything Can Happen Day" forever!

08-30-1941 ~ 01-09-2009
Say hi to your brother for me!

03-19-1928 ~ 01-13-2009
Welcome back to The Village # 6!

11-25-1920 ~ 01-14-2009
Thanks for the memories!


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."

Israel: Boycott, Divest, Sanction
By Naomi Klein

It's time. Long past time. The best strategy to end the increasingly bloody occupation is for Israel to become the target of the kind of global movement that put an end to apartheid in South Africa.

In July 2005 a huge coalition of Palestinian groups laid out plans to do just that. They called on "people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era." The campaign Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions-BDS for short-was born.

Every day that Israel pounds Gaza brings more converts to the BDS cause, and talk of cease-fires is doing little to slow the momentum. Support is even emerging among Israeli Jews. In the midst of the assault roughly 500 Israelis, dozens of them well-known artists and scholars, sent a letter to foreign ambassadors stationed in Israel. It calls for "the adoption of immediate restrictive measures and sanctions" and draws a clear parallel with the antiapartheid struggle. "The boycott on South Africa was effective, but Israel is handled with kid gloves.... This international backing must stop."

Yet even in the face of these clear calls, many of us still can't go there. The reasons are complex, emotional and understandable. And they simply aren't good enough. Economic sanctions are the most effective tools in the nonviolent arsenal. Surrendering them verges on active complicity. Here are the top four objections to the BDS strategy, followed by counterarguments.

1. Punitive measures will alienate rather than persuade Israelis.

The world has tried what used to be called "constructive engagement." It has failed utterly. Since 2006 Israel has been steadily escalating its criminality: expanding settlements, launching an outrageous war against Lebanon and imposing collective punishment on Gaza through the brutal blockade. Despite this escalation, Israel has not faced punitive measures-quite the opposite. The weapons and $3 billion in annual aid that the US sends to Israel is only the beginning. Throughout this key period, Israel has enjoyed a dramatic improvement in its diplomatic, cultural and trade relations with a variety of other allies. For instance, in 2007 Israel became the first non-Latin American country to sign a free-trade deal with Mercosur. In the first nine months of 2008, Israeli exports to Canada went up 45 percent. A new trade deal with the European Union is set to double Israel's exports of processed food. And on December 8, European ministers "upgraded" the EU-Israel Association Agreement, a reward long sought by Jerusalem.

It is in this context that Israeli leaders started their latest war: confident they would face no meaningful costs. It is remarkable that over seven days of wartime trading, the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange's flagship index actually went up 10.7 percent. When carrots don't work, sticks are needed.

2. Israel is not South Africa.

Of course it isn't. The relevance of the South African model is that it proves that BDS tactics can be effective when weaker measures (protests, petitions, back-room lobbying) have failed. And there are indeed deeply distressing echoes of South African apartheid in the occupied territories: the color-coded IDs and travel permits, the bulldozed homes and forced displacement, the settler-only roads. Ronnie Kasrils, a prominent South African politician, said that the architecture of segregation that he saw in the West Bank and Gaza was "infinitely worse than apartheid." That was in 2007, before Israel began its full-scale war against the open-air prison that is Gaza.

3. Why single out Israel when the United States, Britain and other Western countries do the same things in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Boycott is not a dogma; it is a tactic. The reason the BDS strategy should be tried against Israel is practical: in a country so small and trade-dependent, it could actually work.

4. Boycotts sever communication; we need more dialogue, not less.

This one I'll answer with a personal story. For eight years, my books have been published in Israel by a commercial house called Babel. But when I published The Shock Doctrine, I wanted to respect the boycott. On the advice of BDS activists, including the wonderful writer John Berger, I contacted a small publisher called Andalus. Andalus is an activist press, deeply involved in the anti-occupation movement and the only Israeli publisher devoted exclusively to translating Arabic writing into Hebrew. We drafted a contract that guarantees that all proceeds go to Andalus's work, and none to me. In other words, I am boycotting the Israeli economy but not Israelis.

Coming up with our modest publishing plan required dozens of phone calls, e-mails and instant messages, stretching from Tel Aviv to Ramallah to Paris to Toronto to Gaza City. My point is this: as soon as you start implementing a boycott strategy, dialogue increases dramatically. And why wouldn't it? Building a movement requires endless communicating, as many in the antiapartheid struggle well recall. The argument that supporting boycotts will cut us off from one another is particularly specious given the array of cheap information technologies at our fingertips. We are drowning in ways to rant at one another across national boundaries. No boycott can stop us.

Just about now, many a proud Zionist is gearing up for major point-scoring: don't I know that many of those very high-tech toys come from Israeli research parks, world leaders in infotech? True enough, but not all of them. Several days into Israel's Gaza assault, Richard Ramsey, the managing director of a British telecom specializing in voice-over-internet services, sent an email to the Israeli tech firm MobileMax. "As a result of the Israeli government action in the last few days we will no longer be in a position to consider doing business with yourself or any other Israeli company."

Ramsey says that his decision wasn't political; he just didn't want to lose customers. "We can't afford to lose any of our clients," he explains, "so it was purely commercially defensive."

It was this kind of cold business calculation that led many companies to pull out of South Africa two decades ago. And it's precisely the kind of calculation that is our most realistic hope of bringing justice, so long denied, to Palestine.
(c) 2008 Naomi Klein is the author of, "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism."

How Many Divisions?
By Uri Avnery

NEARLY SEVENTY YEARS ago, in the course of World War II, a heinous crime was committed in the city of Leningrad. For more than a thousand days, a gang of extremists called "the Red Army" held the millions of the town's inhabitants hostage and provoked retaliation from the German Wehrmacht from inside the population centers. The Germans had no alternative but to bomb and shell the population and to impose a total blockade, which caused the death of hundreds of thousands.

Some time before that, a similar crime was committed in England. The Churchill gang hid among the population of London, misusing the millions of citizens as a human shield. The Germans were compelled to send their Luftwaffe and reluctantly reduce the city to ruins. They called it the Blitz.

This is the description that would now appear in the history books - if the Germans had won the war.

Absurd? No more than the daily descriptions in our media, which are being repeated ad nauseam: the Hamas terrorists use the inhabitants of Gaza as "hostages" and exploit the women and children as "human shields," they leave us no alternative but to carry out massive bombardments, in which, to our deep sorrow, thousands of women, children and unarmed men are killed and injured.

IN THIS WAR, as in any modern war, propaganda plays a major role. The disparity between the forces, between the Israeli army - with its airplanes, gunships, drones, warships, artillery and tanks - and the few thousand lightly armed Hamas fighters, is one to a thousand, perhaps one to a million. In the political arena the gap between them is even wider. But in the propaganda war, the gap is almost infinite.

Almost all the Western media initially repeated the official Israeli propaganda line. They almost entirely ignored the Palestinian side of the story, not to mention the daily demonstrations of the Israeli peace camp. The rationale of the Israeli government ("The state must defend its citizens against the Qassam rockets") has been accepted as the whole truth. The view from the other side, that the Qassams are a retaliation for the siege that starves the one and a half million inhabitants of the Gaza Strip, was not mentioned at all.

Only when the horrible scenes from Gaza started to appear on Western TV screens, did world public opinion gradually begin to change.

True, Western and Israeli TV channels showed only a tiny fraction of the dreadful events that appear 24 hours every day on Aljazeera's Arabic channel, but one picture of a dead baby in the arms of its terrified father is more powerful than a thousand elegantly constructed sentences from the Israeli army spokesman. And that is what is decisive, in the end.

War - every war - is the realm of lies. Whether called propaganda or psychological warfare, everybody accepts that it is right to lie for one's country. Anyone who speaks the truth runs the risk of being branded a traitor.

The trouble is that propaganda is most convincing for the propagandist himself. And after you convince yourself that a lie is the truth and falsification reality, you can no longer make rational decisions.

An example of this process surrounds the most shocking atrocity of this war so far: the shelling of the UN Fakhura school in Jabaliya refugee camp.

Immediately after the incident became known throughout the world, the army "revealed" that Hamas fighters had been firing mortars from near the school entrance. As proof they released an aerial photo which indeed showed the school and the mortar. But within a short time the official army liar had to admit that the photo was more than a year old. In brief: a falsification.

Later the official liar claimed that "our soldiers were shot at from inside the school." Barely a day passed before the army had to admit to UN personnel that that was a lie, too. Nobody had shot from inside the school, no Hamas fighters were inside the school, which was full of terrified refugees.

But the admission made hardly any difference anymore. By that time, the Israeli public was completely convinced that "they shot from inside the school," and TV announcers stated this as a simple fact.

So it went with the other atrocities. Every baby metamorphosed, in the act of dying, into a Hamas terrorist. Every bombed mosque instantly became a Hamas base, every apartment building an arms cache, every school a terror command post, every civilian government building a "symbol of Hamas rule." Thus the Israeli army retained its purity as the "most moral army in the world."

THE TRUTH is that the atrocities are a direct result of the war plan. This reflects the personality of Ehud Barak - a man whose way of thinking and actions are clear evidence of what is called "moral insanity," a sociopathic disorder.

The real aim (apart from gaining seats in the coming elections) is to terminate the rule of Hamas in the Gaza Strip. In the imagination of the planners, Hamas is an invader which has gained control of a foreign country. The reality is, of course, entirely different.

The Hamas movement won the majority of the votes in the eminently democratic elections that took place in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. It won because the Palestinians had come to the conclusion that Fatah's peaceful approach had gained precisely nothing from Israel - neither a freeze of the settlements, nor release of the prisoners, nor any significant steps toward ending the occupation and creating the Palestinian state. Hamas is deeply rooted in the population - not only as a resistance movement fighting the foreign occupier, like the Irgun and the Stern Group in the past - but also as a political and religious body that provides social, educational and medical services.

From the point of view of the population, the Hamas fighters are not a foreign body, but the sons of every family in the Strip and the other Palestinian regions. They do not "hide behind the population," the population views them as their only defenders.

Therefore, the whole operation is based on erroneous assumptions. Turning life into living hell does not cause the population to rise up against Hamas, but on the contrary, it unites behind Hamas and reinforces its determination not to surrender. The population of Leningrad did not rise up against Stalin, any more than the Londoners rose up against Churchill.

He who gives the order for such a war with such methods in a densely populated area knows that it will cause dreadful slaughter of civilians. Apparently that did not touch him. Or he believed that "they will change their ways" and "it will sear their consciousness," so that in future they will not dare to resist Israel.

A top priority for the planners was the need to minimize casualties among the soldiers, knowing that the mood of a large part of the pro-war public would change if reports of such casualties came in. That is what happened in Lebanon Wars I and II.

This consideration played an especially important role because the entire war is a part of the election campaign. Ehud Barak, who gained in the polls in the first days of the war, knew that his ratings would collapse if pictures of dead soldiers filled the TV screens.

Therefore, a new doctrine was applied: to avoid losses among our soldiers by the total destruction of everything in their path. The planners were not only ready to kill 80 Palestinians to save one Israeli soldier, as has happened, but also 800. The avoidance of casualties on our side is the overriding commandment, which is causing record numbers of civilian casualties on the other side.

That means the conscious choice of an especially cruel kind of warfare - and that has been its Achilles heel.

A person without imagination, like Barak (his election slogan: "Not a Nice Guy, but a Leader") cannot imagine how decent people around the world react to actions like the killing of whole extended families, the destruction of houses over the heads of their inhabitants, the rows of boys and girls in white shrouds ready for burial, the reports about people bleeding to death over days because ambulances are not allowed to reach them, the killing of doctors and medics on their way to save lives, the killing of UN drivers bringing in food. The pictures of the hospitals, with the dead, the dying and the injured lying together on the floor for lack of space, have shocked the world. No argument has any force next to an image of a wounded little girl lying on the floor, twisting with pain and crying out: "Mama! Mama!"

The planners thought that they could stop the world from seeing these images by forcibly preventing press coverage. The Israeli journalists, to their shame, agreed to be satisfied with the reports and photos provided by the Army Spokesman, as if they were authentic news, while they themselves remained miles away from the events. Foreign journalists were not allowed in either, until they protested and were taken for quick tours in selected and supervised groups. But in a modern war, such a sterile manufactured view cannot completely exclude all others - the cameras are inside the strip, in the middle of the hell, and cannot be controlled. Aljazeera broadcasts the pictures around the clock and reaches every home.

THE BATTLE for the TV screen is one of the decisive battles of the war.

Hundreds of millions of Arabs from Mauritania to Iraq, more than a billion Muslims from Nigeria to Indonesia see the pictures and are horrified. This has a strong impact on the war. Many of the viewers see the rulers of Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority as collaborators with Israel in carrying out these atrocities against their Palestinian brothers.

The security services of the Arab regimes are registering a dangerous ferment among the peoples. Hosny Mubarak, the most exposed Arab leader because of his closing of the Rafah crossing in the face of terrified refugees, started to pressure the decision-makers in Washington, who until that time had blocked all calls for a cease-fire. These began to understand the menace to vital American interests in the Arab world and suddenly changed their attitude - causing consternation among the complacent Israeli diplomats.

People with moral insanity cannot really understand the motives of normal people and must guess their reactions. "How many divisions has the Pope?" Stalin sneered. "How many divisions have people of conscience?" Ehud Barak may well be asking.

As it turns out, they do have some. Not numerous. Not very quick to react. Not very strong and organized. But at a certain moment, when the atrocities overflow and masses of protesters come together, that can decide a war.

THE FAILURE to grasp the nature of Hamas has caused a failure to grasp the predictable results. Not only is Israel unable to win the war, Hamas cannot lose it.

Even if the Israeli army were to succeed in killing every Hamas fighter to the last man, even then Hamas would win. The Hamas fighters would be seen as the paragons of the Arab nation, the heroes of the Palestinian people, models for emulation by every youngster in the Arab world. The West Bank would fall into the hands of Hamas like a ripe fruit, Fatah would drown in a sea of contempt, the Arab regimes would be threatened with collapse.

If the war ends with Hamas still standing, bloodied but unvanquished, in face of the mighty Israeli military machine, it will look like a fantastic victory, a victory of mind over matter.

What will be seared into the consciousness of the world will be the image of Israel as a blood-stained monster, ready at any moment to commit war crimes and not prepared to abide by any moral restraints. This will have severe consequences for our long-term future, our standing in the world, our chance of achieving peace and quiet.

In the end, this war is a crime against ourselves too, a crime against the State of Israel.
(c) 2009 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Going Forward
By Victoria Stewart

"I don't think we need feelings of empowerment, what we need is real power... Power is having the power to change things and to have power over our lives to make them better." ~~~ Carol Hanisch, 2003

"Half of the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don't mean to do harm. But the harm does not interest them." ~~~ T. S. Eliot

It's been a very long time since I first heard the phrase, "the personal is political" but I still remember the way it awakened a new awareness in me. I grew up in an environment in which the poverty, disease, hunger, deprivation and death were inextricably entwined with the corruption of elected officials and the entitlement of wealth. The slogan, derived from Carol Hanisch's now famous and infamous concept first published in an essay during the early years of second wave feminism, changed the way I viewed my life. Misunderstood and misrepresented in these post-Reagan days (often through willful ignorance), those few words still sum up the most powerful of political lessons.

We are in very dangerous waters. Environmental collapse, massive species extinction, poison air, water and food, drought, famine and ceaseless war are clamouring for our futures. A lot of people understand that we face nothing short of a convergence of cataclysmic disasters and many of those people are desperately trying to create coalitions that can produce the real change we need in order to avoid something reminiscent of the stone age. The problems that loom are not national problems. Physical survival has become a global issue and the experiences of the poor and lower classes, which now differ in degree from country to country and region to region, will become more similar as conditions deteriorate. Life is going to get harder.

I have no certainty that the human species will survive the consequences of the past few decades. We have had ample evidence-no matter what one's belief system-that we needed to change our wicked ways. Environmental degradation is not a new phenomenon-we've been busy little creatures for a few thousand years-nor is the incredible religious and ethnic hatred spreading across the planet like a great darkness. Certainly, since the early seventies, the irrefutable, measurable, visible scientific data showing the decline of viable life-sustaining habitats has been widely available. It has long puzzled me why the power elite has not moved toward swift and unrelenting environmental conservation. (I figured they must have other sources of air and water.) And for the first time since the beginning of the Dark Ages, large numbers of people know how to read and can access information. By the mid-twentieth century, incontrovertible evidence that religious war was not a good thing was available to a lot of people. The population is too large and the weapons are too ferocious for sane people to risk widespread war, yet poverty is turning the whole planet into a powder keg and that self-same power elite with their mysterious air supply, are tossing bombs and strutting their nuclear weapons. (Perhaps they have really nice retreats underground.)

We have been told for so long that the wealthy and powerful deserve their wealth and power because they are better than the rest of us that even the most skeptical among us must sometimes wonder if it isn't true. In addition, we have certainly bowed down under the rule of their "experts."

Experts who have led us to the brink of annihilation. And what is now brilliantly apparent is that those with the power and wealth, believed they were the smartest, the best, the chosen ones and somehow invincible. They really believed they had everything and everyone under control.

More difficult to ascertain in recent years has been ownership of wealth. Into the early seventies it was remarkably easy to correlate families and individuals with corporate and resource holdings. A very small number of people owned most of the world and those few people controlled all the financial and economic systems. It worked well for them for quite some time.

Dwindling resources introduced new players however. Somehow those oil reserves showed up in the most inconvenient places but our power brokers-those white men with all that money-still believed they were the smartest, the best and the chosen. The entitled.

The scariest aspect of the Bush's coup was it openness, its "transparency." It took planning to use the Supreme Court to overthrow the Constitution and orchestrate a take over of the government and it almost proved they were better than we. It wasn't even necessary to offer a pretend president. All that was needed was the class clown. Although I truly believe George W. Bush is as venal and cruel a human who ever walked the earth, he didn't act alone. The men around him were, in fact, cunning, wily, and driven by an agenda of oppression. It really did seem as if "they"-the great one-world power elite-had emerged victorious.

But I do believe that one or two people miscalculated just a tiny bit. The United States might not be the winner of the current economic turf war. The story we're not hearing about the junk paper our financial institutions floated and the billions of dollars Bernie Madoff stole is that we made enemies of the wrong people. The people of India, China and the Middle East are not inclined to suffer for wealthy Americans.

The experts of the elite, the smartest and best of the smartest and best made some very big mistakes. Those mistakes have destroyed the stability of the established world order. The interests that propelled us into war in Iraq and promoted Israel's aggressive war of ethnic cleansing miscalculated the willingness of their victims.

With the undeniable threat of environmental disaster, the growth of religious fanaticism and the bonds being forged among the world's poor, power is scurrying to regroup.

Putting one's personal experience, one's day-to-day existence, within a political framework dispels the illusions of isolation, guilt and powerlessness instilled in the lower classes and produces the energy necessary for social change. Many, perhaps most, Americans do not view their lives in a national political context and certainly don't have an international frame of reference but that awareness is needed for us to address the problems of survival.

Feminism was successful in achieving worldwide social reform because it spoke the universal language of shared experience. The women who worked tirelessly and often thanklessly for that reform are not the pets we see on television. They are not the dogs of war, not Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice. The women who changed the world are the mothers, daughters and sisters who lived those changes. It was the courage to challenge personal relationships and legal and institutional discrimination, to speak out against rape, incest, sexual slavery, abuse and violence and to resist. It was bravery exhibited by people you know and it made the world a better place.

That language of shared experience was the most effective tool of feminism and teaches a critical lessons to those who seek to end oppression and violence and reclaim environmental integrity. Poverty is the unifying principle of the 21st century and the poor are disproportionably represented by women and children. Even in America. Women have a particular opportunity to build new systems and communities within our country and at the same time reach out to the international groups working for social justice. Women are linked in a commonality of experience that transcends national, religious and ethnic boundaries and it is women who recognize that link who will take us forward.


Postscript: I must add here that as I wrote this, Israel continued its horrendous and criminal assault on Gaza. Today I called Congressman Heath Shuler (D-NC) and Senators Kay Hagan (D-NC) and Richard Burr (R-NC) to register my outrage over their votes supporting Israel's illegal aggression. I also called the Israeli embassy in Washington. I don't expect my calls to change anything but I want my voice heard on the side of the Palestinians. I want to make sure that the representatives from my state know we see through them. And that they are complicit in the murder of children. Again.
(c) 2009 Victoria Stewart is the editor of Issues & Alibis magazine.

Why Not Brand Presidential Libraries?
By Jim Hightower

Shhhhh. Don't tell anyone, but George W's pharaonic new presidential library is being funded by special interests.

Such as whom, you ask? That's a secret, say the Bushites who are in charge of raising $300 million to build the thing in Dallas. The honcho of The George W. Bush Library Foundation says curtly: "It's our decision not to disclose who the donors are."

That's so Bush, isn't it? Secrecy and executive imperiousness were central tenets of his regime, including such classic hide-and-seek games as Cheney's secret energy task force, Bush's executive order to withhold presidential and vice-presidential documents from public view, secret memos authorizing the CIA to use torture, the secret program of spying on millions of Americans... and on and on. Thus, it's no surprise that Bush & Company have now decreed that we're not allowed to "follow the money trail" into his library - even though the donors could be exchanging their cash for favors.

Not that Bush is alone in wanting to keep the public in the dark. Bill Clinton, too, refused for years to disclose who put up funding for his presidential showcase in Little Rock. He only recently gave us a list, compelled to do so by Barack Obama as a condition of appointing Hillary Clinton to his cabinet. And what a list it is, showing multimillion-dollar donations from foreign governments, corporations, and billionaires who had benefited under Clinton - and still want his influence on national policies.

Whether it's Bush, Clinton or whomever, what have they got to hide? These are tax-deductible donations to institutions getting public support - so let the sun shine in! Besides, you'd think that corporations would see the marketing potential of attaching their logos to these libraries. It's already good branding opportunity: "The Halliburton Bush Library," for example. That sounds about right, doesn't it?
(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.

Wherever I Go, I Hear The Same Tired Middle East Comparisons
On both sides of the Atlantic the experience has been weirdly repetitive
By Robert Fisk

It all depends where you live. That was the geography of Israel's propaganda, designed to demonstrate that we softies - we little baby-coddling liberals living in our secure Western homes - don't realise the horror of 12 (now 20) Israeli deaths in 10 years and thousands of rockets and the unimaginable trauma and stress of living near Gaza. Forget the 600 Palestinian dead; travelling on both sides of the Atlantic these past couple of weeks has been an instructive - not to say weirdly repetitive - experience.

Here's how it goes. I was in Toronto when I opened the right-wing National Post and found Lorne Gunter trying to explain to readers what it felt like to come under Palestinian rocket attack. "Suppose you lived in the Toronto suburb of Don Mills," writes Gunter, "and people from the suburb of Scarborough - about 10 kilometres away - were firing as many as 100 rockets a day into your yard, your kid's school, the strip mall down the street and your dentist's office..."

Getting the message? It just so happens, of course, that the people of Scarborough are underprivileged, often new immigrants - many from Afghanistan - while the people of Don Mills are largely middle class with a fair number of Muslims. Nothing like digging a knife into Canada's multicultural society to show how Israel is all too justified in smashing back at the Palestinians.

Now a trip down Montreal way and a glance at the French-language newspaper La Presse two days later. And sure enough, there's an article signed by 16 pro-Israeli writers, economists and academics who are trying to explain what it feels like to come under Palestinian rocket attack. "Imagine for a moment that the children of Longueuil live day and night in terror, that businesses, shops, hospitals, schools are the targets of terrorists located in Brossard." Longueuil, it should be added, is a community of blacks and Muslim immigrants, Afghans, Iranians. But who are the "terrorists" in Brossard?

Two days later and I am in Dublin. I open The Irish Times to find a letter from the local Israeli ambassador, trying to explain to the people of the Irish Republic what it feels like to come under Palestinian rocket attack. Know what's coming? Of course you do. "What would you do," Zion Evrony asks readers, "if Dublin were subjected to a bombardment of 8,000 rockets and mortars..." And so it goes on and on and on. Needless to say, I'm waiting for the same writers to ask how we'd feel if we lived in Don Mills or Brossard or Dublin and came under sustained attack from supersonic aircraft and Merkava tanks and thousands of troops whose shells and bombs tore 40 women and children to pieces outside a school, shredded whole families in their beds and who, after nearly a week, had killed almost 200 civilians out of 600 fatalities.

In Ireland, my favourite journalistic justification for this bloodbath came from my old mate Kevin Myers. "The death toll from Gaza is, of course, shocking, dreadful, unspeakable," he mourned. "Though it does not compare with the death toll amongst Israelis if Hamas had its way." Get it? The massacre in Gaza is justified because Hamas would have done the same if they could, even though they didn't do it because they couldn't. It took Fintan O'Toole, The Irish Times's resident philosopher-in-chief, to speak the unspeakable. "When does the mandate of victimhood expire?" he asked. "At what point does the Nazi genocide of Europe's Jews cease to excuse the state of Israel from the demands of international law and of common humanity?"

I had an interesting time giving the Tip O'Neill peace lecture in Derry when one of the audience asked, as did a member of the Trinity College Dublin Historical Society a day later, whether the Northern Ireland Good Friday peace agreement - or, indeed, any aspect of the recent Irish conflict - contained lessons for the Middle East. I suggested that local peace agreements didn't travel well and that the idea advanced by John Hume (my host in Derry) - that it was all about compromise - didn't work since the Israeli seizure of Arab land in the West Bank had more in common with the 17th-century Irish Catholic dispossession than sectarianism in Belfast.

What I do suspect, however, is that the split and near civil war between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority has a lot in common with the division between the Irish Free State and anti-treaty forces that led to the 1922-3 Irish civil war; that Hamas's refusal to recognise Israel - and the enemies of Michael Collins who refused to recognise the Anglo-Irish Treaty and the border with Northern Ireland - are tragedies that have a lot in common, Israel now playing the role of Britain, urging the pro-treaty men (Mahmoud Abbas) to destroy the anti-treaty men (Hamas).

I ended the week in one of those BBC World Service discussions in which a guy from The Jerusalem Post, a man from al-Jazeera, a British academic and Fisk danced the usual steps around the catastrophe in Gaza. The moment I mentioned that 600 Palestinian dead for 20 Israeli dead around Gaza in 10 years was grotesque, pro-Israeli listeners condemned me for suggesting (which I did not) that only 20 Israelis had been killed in all of Israel in 10 years. Of course, hundreds of Israelis outside Gaza have died in that time - but so have thousands of Palestinians.

My favourite moment came when I pointed out that journalists should be on the side of those who suffer. If we were reporting the 18th-century slave trade, I said, we wouldn't give equal time to the slave ship captain in our dispatches. If we were reporting the liberation of a Nazi concentration camp, we wouldn't give equal time to the SS spokesman. At which point a journalist from the Jewish Telegraph in Prague responded that "the IDF are not Hitler." Of course not. But who said they were?
(c) 2009 Robert Fisk --- The Independent

Nothing To Fear But No Health Care
By Amy Goodman

Fifty million Americans are without health insurance, and 25 million are "underinsured." Millions being laid off will soon be added to those rolls. Medical bills cause more than half of personal bankruptcies in the U.S. Desperate for care, the under- and uninsured flock to emergency rooms, often dealing with problems that could have been prevented.

The U.S. auto giants are collapsing in part due to extraordinary health-care expenses, while they are competing with companies in countries that provide universal health care. Economist Dean Baker calculated how General Motors would fare if its health-care costs were the same as costs in Canada: "GM would have had higher profits, making no other changes ... that would equal $22 billion over the course of the last decade. They wouldn't have to be running to the government for help." GM is sometimes referred to as a health-care company that makes cars. Former Chrysler Chairman Lee Iacocca said in 2005, "It is a well-known fact that the U.S. automobile industry spends more per car on health care than on steel." He supports national health care.

Barack Obama said in a 2007 speech that "affordable, universal health care for every single American must not be a question of whether, it must be a question of how. ... Every four years, health-care plans are offered up in campaigns with great fanfare and promise. But once those campaigns end, the plans collapse under the weight of Washington politics."

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in his March 1933 inaugural address, famously declared: "We have nothing to fear but fear itself. ... This nation asks for action, and action now." Deep in the Great Depression, a flurry of ambitious policies followed, detailed by New York Times editorial writer Adam Cohen in his new book, "Nothing to Fear." He writes that FDR developed the New Deal with key, visionary advisers and Cabinet members who enacted bold policies, among them Frances Perkins, the United States' first woman Cabinet member. Perkins, FDR's secretary of labor, pushed for a rapid, national relief program that formed the basis of the welfare system, and for regulations on the minimum wage and maximum hours and a ban on child labor.

But she failed to achieve universal health care. Cohen told me: "She really was the conscience of the New Deal in many ways ... she chaired the Social Security committee. And she wanted it to go further ... to include national health insurance, but the AMA [American Medical Association], even back then, was very strong and opposed it. And she and a couple other progressives on the committee said, you know, 'We better just settle for what we can get.' They didn't want to lose the whole Social Security program."

Obama appointed former Sen. Tom Daschle as secretary of health and human services, and director of the new White House Office of Health Reform. Daschle's health-care book, "Critical," recalls historical failures to achieve universal care:

"Like Clinton, Truman had reason to be confident. His fellow Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, and polls showed that Americans were anxious about the high cost of health care and eager for change. But both presidents underestimated the strength of the forces arrayed against them ... [s]pecial-interest lobbyists-led by doctors in Truman's time, and insurance companies in Clinton's."

Obama knows the issue well-while his mother lay dying of cancer, she still had to battle the insurance industry. He said in that 2007 speech, "Plans that tinker and halfway measures now belong to yesterday. ... [W]e can't afford another disappointing charade. ... [W]e need to look at ... how much of our health-care spending is going toward the record-breaking profits earned by the drug and health-care industry."

Yet Daschle proposes not much more than tinkering-improving Medicare, Medicaid and the Veterans Health Administration, all examples of "single-payer health care" in which the government is the single payer for the health care-while preserving the inefficient, multipayer, for-profit insurance model. In December 2007, the American College of Physicians compared U.S. health care with other countries', writing, "Single-payer systems generally have the advantage of being more equitable, with lower administrative costs than systems using private health insurance, lower per capita health care expenditures, high levels of consumer and patient satisfaction."

Michael Moore, in his film "SiCKO," includes a recording of John Ehrlichman speaking to Richard Nixon, discussing medical-insurance profits: "... the less care they give 'em [patients], the more money they [the insurance companies] make." Obama is in charge now. Whom will he emulate-Nixon or FDR? People across the political and economic spectrum, from big business to the little guy, are dying to know.
2009 Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!," a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 700 stations in North America. She has been awarded the 2008 Right Livelihood Award, dubbed the "Alternative Nobel" prize, and will receive the award in the Swedish Parliament in December.

The Language Of Death
By Chris Hedges

The incursion into Gaza is not about destroying Hamas. It is not about stopping rocket fire into Israel. It is not about achieving peace. The Israeli decision to rain death and destruction on Gaza, to use the lethal weapons of the modern battlefield on a largely defenseless civilian population, is the final phase of the decades-long campaign to ethnically cleanse Palestinians. The assault on Gaza is about creating squalid, lawless and impoverished ghettos where life for Palestinians will be barely sustainable. It is about building ringed Palestinian enclaves where Israel will always have the ability to shut off movement, food, medicine and goods to perpetuate misery. The Israeli attack on Gaza is about building a hell on earth.

This attack is the final Israeli push to extinguish a Palestinian state and crush or expel the Palestinian people. The images of dead Palestinian children, lined up as if asleep on the floor of the main hospital in Gaza, are a metaphor for the future. Israel will, from now on, speak to the Palestinians in the language of death. And the language of death is all the Palestinians will be able to speak back. The slaughter-let's stop pretending this is a war-is empowering an array of radical Islamists inside and outside of Gaza. It is ominously demolishing the shaky foundations of the corrupt secular Arab regimes on Israel's borders, from Egypt to Jordan to Syria to Lebanon. It is about creating a new Middle East, one ruled by enraged Islamic radicals.

Hamas cannot lose this conflict. Militant movements feed off martyrs, and Israel is delivering the maimed and the dead by the truckload. Hamas fighters, armed with little more than light weapons, a few rockets and small mortars, are battling one of the most sophisticated military machines on the planet. And the determined resistance by these doomed fighters exposes, throughout the Arab world, the gutlessness of dictators like Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, who refuses to open Egypt's common border with Gaza despite the slaughter. Israel, when it bombed Lebanon two years ago, sought to destroy Hezbollah. By the time it withdrew it had swelled Hezbollah's power base and handed it heroic status throughout the Arab world. Israel is now doing the same for Hamas.

The refusal by political leaders from Barack Obama to nearly every member of the U.S. Congress to speak out in the major media in defense of the rule of law and fundamental human rights exposes our cowardice and hypocrisy. Those who openly condemn the Israeli crimes, including Israelis such as Uri Avnery, Tom Segev, Ilan Pappe, Gideon Levy and Amira Hass, as well as American stalwarts Noam Chomsky, Dennis Kucinich, Norman Finkelstein and Richard Falk, are ignored or treated like lepers. They are denied a platform in the press. They are rendered nearly voiceless. Falk, the U.N. special rapporteur for human rights in the occupied territories and a former professor of international law at Princeton, was refused entry into Israel in December, detained for 20 hours and deported. Never mind that nearly all these voices are Jewish.

I called Avnery at his home in Israel. He is Israel's conscience. Avnery was born in Germany. He moved to Palestine as a young boy with his parents. He left school at the age of 14 and a year later joined the underground paramilitary group known as the Irgun. Four years afterward, disgusted with its use of violence, he walked away from the clandestine organization, which carried out armed attacks on British occupation authorities and Arabs. "You can't talk to me about terrorism, I was a terrorist," he says when confronted with his persistent calls for peace with the Palestinians. Avnery was a fighter in the Samson's Foxes commando unit during the 1948 war. He wrote the elite unit's anthem. He became, after the war, a force for left-wing politics in Israel and one of the country's most prominent journalists, running the alternative HaOlam HaZeh magazine. He served in the Israeli Knesset. During the 1982 siege of Beirut he met, in open defiance of Israeli law, with PLO leader Yasser Arafat. He has joined Arab protesters in Israel the past few days and denounces what he calls Israel's "instinct of using force" with the Palestinians and the "moral insanity" of the attack on Gaza. Avnery, now 85, was seriously wounded in an assassination attempt in 1975 by an Israeli opponent, and in 2006 the right-wing activist Baruch Marzel called on the Israeli military to carry out a targeted assassination of Avnery.

"The state of Israel, like any other state," Avnery said, "cannot tolerate having its citizens shelled, bombed or rocketed, but there has been no thought as to how to solve the problem through political means or to analyze where this phenomenon has come from, what has caused it. Israelis, as a whole, cannot put themselves in the shoes of others. We are too self-centered. We cannot stand in the shoes of Palestinians or Arabs to ask how we would react in the same situation. Sometimes, very rarely, it happens. Years ago when Ehud Barak was asked how he would behave if were a Palestinian, he said 'I would join a terrorist organization.' If you do not understand Hamas, if you do not understand why Hamas does what it does, if you don't understand Palestinians, you take recourse in brute force."

The public debate about the Gaza attack engages in the absurd pretense that it is Israel, not the Palestinians, whose security and dignity are being threatened. This blind defense of Israeli brutality toward the Palestinians betrays the memory of those killed in other genocides, from the Holocaust to Cambodia to Rwanda to Bosnia. The lesson of the Holocaust is not that Jews are special. It is not that Jews are unique. It is not that Jews are eternal victims. The lesson of the Holocaust is that when you have the capacity to halt genocide, and you do not-no matter who carries out that genocide or who it is directed against-you are culpable. And we are very culpable. The F-16 jet fighters, the Apache attack helicopters, the 250-pound "smart" GBU-39 bombs are all part of the annual $2.4 billion in military aid the U.S. gives to Israel. Palestinians are being slaughtered with American-made weapons. They are being slaughtered by an Israeli military we lavishly bankroll. But perhaps our callous indifference to human suffering is to be expected. We, after all, kill women and children on an even vaster scale in Iraq and Afghanistan. The bloody hands of Israel mirror our own.

There will be more dead Palestinian children. There will be more cases like that of the U.N. school, used as a sanctuary by terrified families, that was blown to bits by Israeli shells, with more than 40 killed, half of them women and children. There will be more emaciated, orphaned children. There will be more screaming or comatose wounded in the corridors of Gaza's glutted hospital corridors. And there will be more absurd news reports, like the one on the front page of the Sunday New York Times, titled "A Gaza War Full of Traps and Trickery." In this story, unnamed Israeli intelligence officials gave us a spin on the war worthy of the White House fabrications made on the eve of the Iraq war. We learned about the perfidious and dirty tactics of Hamas fighters. Foreign journalists, barred from Gaza and unable to check the veracity of the Israeli version of the war, have abandoned their trade as reporters to become stenographers. The cynicism of conveying propaganda as truth, as long as it is well sourced, is the poison of American journalism. If this is all journalism has become, if moral outrage, the courage to defy the powerful, the commitment to tell the truth and to give a voice to those who without us would have no voice, no longer matters, our journalism schools should focus exclusively on shorthand. It seems to be the skill most ardently coveted by most senior editors and news producers.

There have always been powerful Israeli leaders, since the inception of the state in 1948, who have called for the total physical removal of the Palestinians. The ethnic cleansing of some 800,000 Palestinians by Jewish militias in 1948 was, for them, only the start. But there were also a few Israeli leaders, including the assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who argued that Israel could not pick itself up and move to another geographical spot on the globe. Israel, Rabin believed, would have to make peace with the Palestinians and its Arab neighbors to survive. Rabin's vision of two states, however, appears to have died with him. The embrace of wholesale ethnic cleansing by the Israeli leadership and military now appears to be unquestioned.

"It seems," the Israeli historian Ilan Pappe wrote recently, "that even the most horrendous crimes, such as the genocide in Gaza, are treated as discrete events, unconnected to anything that happened in the past and not associated with any ideology or system. ... Very much as the apartheid ideology explained the oppressive policies of the South African government, this ideology-in its most consensual and simplistic variety-has allowed all the Israeli governments in the past and the present to dehumanize the Palestinians wherever they are and strive to destroy them. The means altered from period to period, from location to location, as did the narrative covering up these atrocities. But there is a clear pattern [of genocide]. ..."

Gaza has descended into chaos. Hamas, which despite Israeli propaganda has never mustered the sustained resistance Hezbollah carried out during the Israeli incursion into southern Lebanon, will be ruled in the future by antagonistic bands of warlords, clans and mafias. Gaza will resemble Somalia. And out of that power vacuum will rise a new generation of angry jihadists, many of whom may spurn Hamas for more radical organizations. Al-Qaida, which has been working to gain a foothold in Gaza, may now have found its opening.

"Hamas will win the war, no matter what happens," Avnery said. "They will be considered by hundreds of millions of Arabs heroes who have recovered the dignity and pride of Arab nations. If at the end of the war they are still standing in Gaza this will be a huge victory for them, to hold out against this huge Israeli army and firepower will be an incredible achievement. They will gain even more than Hezbollah did during the last war."

Israel operates under the illusion that it can crush Hamas and install a quisling Palestinian government in Gaza and the West Bank. This puppet government will be led, Israel believes, by the discredited Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, now cowering in the West Bank after being driven out of Gaza. Abbas, like most of the corrupt Fatah leadership, is a detested figure. He is dismissed as the Marshal PÈtain of the Palestinian people, or perhaps the Hamid Karzai or the Nouri al-Maliki. He is as loathed as he is powerless.

Israel's destruction of Hamas and reoccupation of Gaza will not bring peace or security to Israel. It will merely obliterate the only internal organization with enough stature and authority in Gaza to maintain order. The Israeli assault, by destroying Hamas as a governing force, has opened a Pandora's box of ills. Life will become a nightmare for most Palestinians and, in the years ahead, for most Israelis.
(c) 2009 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. He is the author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning. His latest book is American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.

Moloch's Altar
Child Sacrifice and the War on Terror
By Chris Floyd

"Tell me yourself, I challenge you-answer. Imagine that you are creating a fabric of human destiny with the object of making men happy in the end, giving them peace and rest at last, but that it was essential and inevitable to torture to death only one tiny creature....and to found that edifice on its unavenged tears: would you consent to be the architect on those conditions? Tell me, and tell the truth." -- Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov. [For a recent American answer to this challenge, see The Karamazov Question.] AP tells the harrowing story of the hundreds of children who have been slaughtered -- and the hundreds of thousands more who have been terrorized and traumatized -- by Israel's "war of choice" on Palestinians in Gaza. From AP:

Tiny bodies lying side by side wrapped in white burial shrouds. The cherubic face of a dead preschooler sticking up from the rubble of her home. A man cradling a wounded boy in a chaotic emergency room after Israel shelled a U.N. school.

Children, who make up more than half of crowded Gaza's 1.4 million people, are the most defenseless victims of the war between Israel and Hamas. The Israeli army has unleashed unprecedented force in its campaign against Hamas militants, who have been taking cover among civilians.

"Taking cover among civilians." This is a curious locution. When you launch missiles to kill the democratically elected officials of a government -- especially when you target their private homes -- where else do you expect to find them? Gaza is a giant, open-air prison which no one can leave and where, as the story notes, 1.4 million people live in densely-packed urban areas and refugee camps. Where else are the "Hamas militants" supposed to exist in this seething sardine tin except "among civilians?"?Naturally, it would be far more convenient if every member of Hamas -- including, again, the democratically elected officials of the government -- painted themselves bright red and gathered in, say, a soccer stadium, where Israel could then drop bombs on them with no muss, no fuss. But we are dealing with the real world, where human beings of every description, profession, ideology and belief must of necessity live and work in close proximity to one another -- especially in the reconstruction of the Warsaw Ghetto that is Gaza today.

But of course, in order to smuggle the smallest nugget of truth about Gaza into the American media, it must first be larded with huge dollops of mitigating "context" to mask the horrific brutality and naked aggression of the Israeli campaign. And the "human shield" gambit is the probably the most frequently employed fig leaf by the apologists of oppression.

Curiously enough, I did see a shocking example of the use of human shields in Gaza just the other day, on BBC News. One of their reporters was "embedded" with a squadron of plucky Israeli soldiers as they made their way through a Gaza neighborhood. The report showed our heroes taking over the home of a Palestinian family, shunting the house's large number of refugees -- including several children and infants, crying from hunger -- to a cramped space on the bottom floor, while the Israeli soldiers took up residence on the top floor, where they could rain sniper fire on any nearby "militants" and help coordinate air strikes and missile fire on "militant" hotbeds like schools, ambulances, UN relief trucks -- and other houses packed with refugees who had been directed there by the Israelis themselves.

Naturally, if anyone fired back at the Israelis in the house commandeered in the BBC report, they would hit the civilians who were being held prisoner in their own home. This use of human shields seems like a highly criminal and deeply immoral act to me; but then, I'm not a "serious" person, not like the wise and savvy statesmen and stateswomen of the U.S. Senate, who this week declared their unflagging, uncritical, unquestioning support for Israel's attack in tones so slavish they would have made Stalin's Politburo blush.

In any case, after its ritual dip in the cleansing context pool, the AP story marshals fact after fact to hammer home the relentless torture of children in the "shock and awe" operation:

A photo of 4-year-old Kaukab Al Dayah, just her bloodied head sticking out from the rubble of her home, covered many front pages in the Arab world Wednesday. "This is Israel," read the headline in the Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm. The preschooler was killed early Tuesday when an F-16 attacked her family's four-story home in Gaza City. Four adults also died.

As many as 257 children have been killed and 1,080 wounded - about a third of the total casualties since Dec. 27, according to U.N. figures released Thursday.

Hardest on the children is the sense that nowhere is safe and adults can't protect them, said Iyad Sarraj, a psychologist hunkering down in his Gaza City apartment with his four stepchildren, ages 3-17. His 10-year-old, Adam, is terrified during bombing raids and has developed asthma attacks, Sarraj said....

Children have been killed in strikes on their houses, while riding in cars with their parents, while playing in the streets, walking to a grocery and even at U.N. shelters.

Sayed, Mohammed and Raida Abu Aisheh - ages 12, 8 and 7 - were at home with their parents when they were all killed in an Israeli airstrike before dawn Monday. The family had remained in the ground floor apartment of their three-story building, while the rest of the extended clan sought refuge in the basement from heavy bombardment of nearby Hamas installations.

Those in the basement survived. The children's uncle, Saber Abu Aisheh, 49, searched Thursday through the rubble, a heap of cement blocks, mattresses, scorched furniture and smashed TVs.

He said Israel gave no warning, unlike two years earlier when he received repeated calls from the Israeli military, including on his cell phone, that a nearby house was going to get hit and that he should evacuate.

"What's going on is not a war, it's a mass killing," said Abu Aisheh, still wearing the blood-splattered olive-colored sweater he wore the night of the airstrike.

Then there is the now-infamous case of the Zeitoun house where four young children were found beside their dead mothers. They had been there for days while Israeli forces prevented Red Cross workers from reaching them. As Haaretz reports:

The International Committee of the Red Cross on Thursday accused Israel of delaying ambulance access to the Gaza Strip and demanded it grant safe access for Palestinian Red Crescent ambulances to return to evacuate more wounded.

Relief workers said they found four starving children sitting next to their dead mothers and other corpses in a house in a part of Gaza City bombed by Israeli forces, the Red Cross said on Thursday.

"This is a shocking incident," said Pierre Wettach, ICRC chief for Israel and the Palestinian territories. "The Israeli military must have been aware of the situation but did not assist the wounded. Neither did they make it possible for us or the Palestinian Red Crescent to assist the wounded." The agency said it believed Israel had breached international humanitarian law in the incident...

Palestinian Red Crescent ambulances and ICRC officials managed to reach several houses in the Zeitoun area of Gaza City on Wednesday after seeking access from Israeli military forces since last weekend, the ICRC statement said.

The rescue team "found four small children next to their dead mothers in one of the houses," the ICRC said. "They were too weak to stand up on their own. One man was also found alive, too weak to stand up. In all there were at least 12 corpses lying on mattresses," it said.

In another house, the team found 15 survivors of Israeli shelling including several wounded, it said. Three corpses were found in another home. Israeli soldiers posted some 80 meters (yards) away ordered the rescue team to leave the area which they refused to do, it said.

Back to AP:

Medic Mohammed Azayzeh said he retrieved the bodies of a man and his two young sons from central Gaza on Wednesday. One of the boys, a 1-year-old, was cradled in his father's arms.

In the Jebaliya refugee camp, five sisters from the Balousha family, ages 4, 8, 11, 14 and 17, were buried together in white shrouds on Dec. 29. An Israeli airstrike on a mosque, presumably a Hamas target, had destroyed their adjacent house. Only their parents and a baby girl survived....

In the ongoing chaos of Gaza, it's difficult to get exact casualty figures. Since Dec. 27, at least 750 Palestinians have been killed, according to Gaza Health Ministry official Dr. Moawiya Hassanain.

Of those, 257 were children, according to the U.N.'s top humanitarian official, John Holmes, citing Health Ministry figures that he called credible and deeply disturbing.

"We are talking about urban war," said Abdel-Rahman Ghandour, the Jordan-based spokesman for UNICEF in the Middle East and North Africa. "The density of the population is so high, it's bound to hurt children ... This is a unique conflict, where there is nowhere to go."

...Sarraj, the psychologist, said he fears for this generation: Having experienced trauma and their parents' helplessness, they may be more vulnerable to recruitment by militants.

Of course the survivors of the current bloodbath will be more vulnerable to recruitment by militants. Like all of the acts of state terror falsely called "counterterrorism," the Israeli attacks will breed much more of the very thing they are purporting to combat. But as we noted the other day, the Israelis know this very well -- and they don't care. As with all the other practitioners of state terror -- in Washington, London, Moscow, and elsewhere -- their goal is not "fighting terrorism" but imposing domination, and perpetuating their militarist power structures.

The international Terror Warriors, and their multitude of sycophants, worship war: it thrills them, it arouses them, it imbues them with a sense of power and purpose and righteousness and superiority. Whatever their professed faith -- and almost all of them make a great show of their devotion to a great benevolent deity in the sky -- their true god is Moloch: earthbound, blood-steeped, ravenous for sacrifice. And his devotees -- our elites, our "leading citizens," our "great and good" -- are happy to obey, eagerly offering up their god's favorite dish -- innocent flesh -- on his blazing altars.
(c) 2009 Chris Floyd


Only Three Companies In US Confirm Using BPA-Free Cans
By Neil McLaughlin

(NaturalNews) Given these uncertain times, it makes sense to have a reserve food supply. Canned food not only provides long term storage and survives external contamination, but also provides a back up in the event of a food shortage. However, it turns out that most canned foods (even "USDA Organic") contain plastic liners that leach potentially dangerous chemicals into the food. The most notable contaminant is Bisphenol-A (BPA), a powerful hormone disruptor that has been linked to cancer, birth defects and other health problems. Only three canned food companies in the nation were found not to contain any BPA! We will review these companies in this article.

Food Shortage Possible in US

Since virtually every company borrows from the banks and the banks themselves are now failing, no company (or job) is really safe anymore. Should the worst case scenario come to pass and the grocery stores pull a Paulson, there will be no warning. It will be something that just suddenly appears on Google News one morning (provided their new censors deem the information appropriate for their readers). By the time you get to the store the only things left will be diapers, pork rinds and vanilla-flavored yogurt. It`s more important than ever to put away a few cases of nourishing, storable food. However it`s also essential to find food that comes in non-toxic packaging.

Bisphenol-A-Free Cans

Nowadays most food companies have jumped on the "organic" bandwagon, but how much do these companies really care about your health? Sure, they are more than happy to change the label and charge more, but will they pay more to protect you? Even in an economic crisis? The following three companies were the only ones found to offer any canned food that is free of BPA.

1. Eden Foods (Organic Canned Beans) Eden confirms on their website that they do not use BPA in their canned beans. Eden foods has been in the organic business for 40 years now. They had the foresight to avoid using BPA in their cans nearly a decade ago. Way back in the 1900`s they opted for a more expensive plant-based can-liner for all but their highly acidic canned tomatoes. Canned beans come in a wide variety and are part of many recipes including Hummus (Garbanzo or Chick Peas), Chili (Pinto and Kidney beans), Bean dip (Refried and Black Beans), Bean salad (Navy, Aduki beans), Succotash (Lima or Butter Beans) and Baked Beans (coming soon!). Price: $1.59 - $1.99 per 15 oz. can (about $2 per pound).

2. Henry & Lisa`s Natural Seafood (Sashimi-Grade Canned Albacore Tuna) The author contacted this company directly and they confirmed by email that their Sashimi Grade Solid White Albacore Tuna comes in a BPA-free can. Also, they won a Silver Finalist Award from NASFT in Summer 2008 for product quality and innovation. Henry and Lisa`s Natural Seafood is wild caught, preservative-free and comes from sustainable ecosystems. Their tuna is lower in Mercury than most tuna due to the smaller fish size they choose. Price: $7.25 - $7.75 for 6 ounce can (about $20 per pound).

3. Vital Choice (Organic, Wild Canned Seafood) (Updated 12/23/08). Vital Choice confirms on their website and via telephone that their liners do not contain BPA. They have an incredible amount of wild, organic and sustainable seafood products including Salmon, Tuna, Tuna Belly (the most prized part of the fish) and Fish Oil. Vital Choice offers in bulk discount at over $1.00 off per can. Canned fish has a 5 year shelf life from the production date. Price: $5.38 - $6.50 per 6.35 oz. can (about $15 per pound).

Disclaimer: The author does not receive any compensation for endorsing the above products. He has however tried these products and he keeps a few cases in storage.

BPA Hall of Shame

It is ironic that none of the BPA-free cans have the "USDA Organic" label! Even worse, every can with the "USDA Organic" label DOES contain BPA!

Most "health food" companies are continuing to use BPA in their cans while providing otherwise top notch organic products. Why go through all the trouble of producing high-quality foods that are "free of synthetic chemicals, pesticides or preservatives," only to ship them in tainted packaging materials? These companies should just drop the excuses and spend the crummy two cents extra per can so they can label them "BPA free." However, many of them become hypocritical when it comes to defending their use of BPA . After preaching the "organic" label they suddenly hide behind the FDA (who supported non-organic to begin with) the moment there is controversy. One company even waxed poetic in a reply to a question about BPA. After redundantly claiming that "scientific and government bodies worldwide have examined the scientific evidence" and that BPA was deemed safe, this company went on to imply that BPA was not only essential but an important part of a wholesome lifestyle!

FDA Declares BPA safe

Soon after BPA was discovered to be a problem it was banned in Canada. The FDA followed by taking immediate action to protect the ones they serve: the multinational corporations. The FDA claimed that BPA was perfectly safe for human consumption. Their philosophy was simple: declare BPA safe first and ask questions later.

Now, the FDA didn`t have any actual research to back their claim that BPA is safe, but apparently a lady who works there sniffed several can liners and said they smelled perfectly fine to her.

Actually there was a "real" FDA study that not only declared BPA safe but said humans could safely ingest a million times levels currently found in products. However that study was widely criticized in October 2008 by dozens of actual scientists (versus "scientific and government bodies," whatever CODEX-friendly creature that would be). It turned out that the company that wrote the FDA study was an insider from the plastics industry.


Canned food storage is an essential part of preparedness, but with the majority of cans containing dangerous Bisphenol-A it`s questionable whether they are worth storing at all. Only three companies will confirm that their cans do not contain BPA. Hopefully more companies will follow suit.

Special thanks to those companies who were honest enough to disclose that trace amounts of BPA were in fact in their packaging material. This is something that surprised many companies after they had commit to using cans they assumed were safe.
(c) 2009 Neil McLaughlin is a reporter for Natural News

Is Your Job Based In Reality Or Fiction?
By Mike Folkerth

Good Morning America, your King of Simple News is on the air.

One of the most heavily covered stories in the main stream news was the recent release of "George the Lobster" by a New York seafood restaurant. It seems that George (I assume his name was acquired off his diving license) is thought to be 140 years old.

With a little pressure from PETA...okay, a lot of pressure from PETA, George was set free from certain death by digestion. "We applaud the folks at City Crab and Seafood for their compassionate decision to allow this noble old-timer to live out his days in freedom and peace," said Ingrid E. Newkirk, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

In other words, eat the young ones who have little to live for and let this old feller die of natural causes; which he will probably be tomorrow. Please tell me that these folks have been spiking their designer coffee.

Moving on the here; I watched a short series not so long ago titled "The Alaska Experiment." The producers took four groups of people into the Alaska Wilderness during winter to see how well they could survive. They were given basic survival gear such as a gun, fishing gear and rustic shelter. They were also provided with some food to get them by until such time that they provide for themselves.

One of the young women made the statement that she didn't believe in killing animals or shooting guns. She was a California yuppie type, real estate professional.

Fast forward to the point of running out of food. I'll paraphrase what she said, "Let's take that gun out and kill something!" Later on, still with little food, the group came on the remains of a dead buffalo (yes there are wild buffalo in Alaska). The same young woman ran the scavenger ravens off and jumped square in the middle of the carcass with her knife and began carving off meat.

The point in that story is that our attitudes and convictions change based on our current level of comfort. In a matter of days, one can go from, "Look at that cute little deer," to "I think I can take that sucker with my knife."

While my example may seem to some to border on overkill, I don't think so; we do what we have to do. Those who continue to have good jobs in a plush office setting and whose suit cost more than the annual income of some of the recently unemployed, have very different mindsets from those who are standing in the unemployment line.

But, that will soon change and like the young lady in the above example, reality will take over where fiction once ruled. You can't eat a $5,000 suit.

As a caveat to what I'm about to say, I am an education freak. We all need to continue to learn throughout life. That being said, I continue to believe that the coming economic events are going to prove very difficult for many in our educated sector.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans are working at high paying jobs that were never necessary for the true good of our society. Wall Street comes to mind. Another area that will be hard hit is advertising. While the battle cry of the high paid advertising executives will be, "This is the time when you need to increase advertising costs," the economics just won't make it possible. When the fish aren't biting, don't waste the bait.

There are countless areas of our high flying workforce that can only exist under ideal economic conditions. The next few years will not be representative of those conditions.

Question the continued viability of your industry and your personal occupation. If you deem that your job (or business) is hinged on a red hot economy and is dependent on discretionary is a great time to trade fiction for reality.
(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...

"By and large, language is a tool for concealing the truth."
~~~ George Carlin

Israel Bombs Health Service In Gaza
By Patricia Campbell

Northern Ireland

I felt great sadness when I learned the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme (GCMHP) building was destroyed by Israeli bomber jets on New Year's Eve.

The four-story building overlooks the Mediterranean Sea in the northern part of Gaza City. With 150 employees, the Programme is supported by international donors and was fast becoming a centre of excellence in providing psychological therapies and treatment of trauma-related illnesses.

In June, 2007, Israel imposed a siege on Gaza, allowing no one in or out of the area without its permission.

Last October, the World Health Organization and the GCMHP organized a conference, "Siege and Mental Health - Walls vs Bridges." Health workers from all over the world attended to share their expertise on how a siege can affect mental health.

As a Community Psychiatric Nurse working in Belfast, I was scheduled to present a paper showing how 30 years of war in Northern Ireland has damaged minds and generated major mental illness.

The conference participants were denied access to Gaza, despite our protest at the Erez border. To get around this problem, the conference was conducted by video link between Ramallah City in the West Bank and participants in Gaza.

After the conference, I maintained contact with GCMHP staff. I looked forward to a continuing exchange of ideas and learning from one another. I was highly impressed with their innovative and progressive service delivery, their empowerment programmes, their attention to mental health and staff training needs. I had high hopes that we in Belfast could follow by example.

The loss of the GCMHP is especially acute as the death toll rises in Gaza and hundreds of thousands of people are severely traumatized.

After viewing the destroyed building, Dr Ahmad Abu Tawahina, the Director of the GCMHP, announced that the Programme was suspending its services indefinitely because "every metre traveled is a risk, as Israeli air strikes continue over Gaza."

Israel targets medical personnel

On 31 December, medical crews attempting to treat a wounded victim from Jabal Kashif in northeast Gaza were hit by helicopter fire. Dr. Ihab Madhun, medic Muhammad Abu Hasireh and the injured victim were all killed.

On January 3, after the home of the Dabbabish family in Sheikh Radwan was bombed, a medical crew entered to evacuate the wounded. The house was bombed again, and medic Ayyad Ahmad was critically wounded.

On January 4, an ambulance belonging to the Al Awda Hospital in Beit Lahiya was hit by helicopter fire. Arfa Abd al Daim, a senior volunteer medic was killed and two other medical personnel were critically injured.

On January 4, a tank fired on an ambulance attempting to evacuate a family in Tel Alhawa. Inass Fadil Naim, Yassir Shabir and Rifaat Abdel Al were all killed.

Our first priority must be to stop Israel's barbaric war. Our second priority is to rebuild Gaza and the GCMHP.


Demand that your government press for an immediate stop to the Israeli bombing.

Join a protest at the Israeli or American consulate nearest you.
(c) 2009 Patricia Campbell works as a community psychiatric nurse in Belfast, Northern Ireland. She is also president of the Independent Workers Union of Ireland and a founder of the UNIVERSI health workers' union.

Let Gaza Live
By Cynthia McKinney

Washington, D.C.
January 10, 2009

Today I participated in ANSWER's march and rally, "Let Gaza Live" in Washington, D.C. Attendance was excellent despite the weather. Among the many friends in attendance, I met a young man and his daughter who had come all the way from Greensboro, North Carolina to participate. The crowd was one of the most diverse that I have ever seen. I think our message is reaching deep into our country's heartland. Here are my remarks:

We don't see the images. They are neatly censored from our view in this country. But everywhere else around the world the carnage that is Gaza is being seen and the people are revolted by what they see.

They see dead babies, decapitated bodies, defenseless relief workers killed. Maimed men, makeshift morgues, mortified mothers.

They see exploding white phosphorus shells, cluster bombs, depleted uranium munitions.

They see what is reportedly the world's fourth most powerful military using all of its power against a defenseless people.

In fact, they are witnesses to 15 days of war crimes, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, and genocide.

They see Hugo Chavez expel Venezuela's Israeli Ambassador and they see lawmakers in Ecuador condemn Israel's actions, calling for an investigation into Israel's crimes against humanity.

And despite the obvious facts of an Israeli-sponsored terror campaign against Palestinians in Gaza, a piece of territory roughly twice the size of the District of Columbia, they see the U.S. Congress support a resolution totally supporting Israel, even though Israel is in violation of U.S. and international law.

They see Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, swaggering in insult to black America by initially refusing to seat Roland Burris from Illinois in the Senate, yet that same Reid cowers before the pro-Israel lobby, and they wonder why.

And sadly, they see the U.S. President-elect, who roared onto the scene like a lion, remain as quiet as a lamb in the face of the utter inhumanity of Israel's actions, and they wonder why.

And then, they see us. Gathered here in front of the White House, reaffirming our own humanity, and that of millions of people around the world, including in Israel, who disagree with this death and destruction. The tears of the Palestinians roll down our cheeks, even as we bury our own victims of police murder.

A new day is coming in U.S. politics. We will use the power of our vote to change U.S. policy. We will no longer check our values at the door and support politicians and political parties that fail to deliver.

Not one more bomb to Israel.

In defense of humanity, we will not give up and we will win.
(c) 2008 Cynthia McKinney

The Dead Letter Office...

Ben gives the Republican salute!

Heil Bush,

Dear Vorsitzender Bernanke,

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 calling for still more tax payer money for our corrupt friends in banks and for buying up all their bad credit too, Iraq and these many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Junta Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Iron Cross, first class, with diamond clusters presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Bush at a gala celebration at "der Wolf's Lair," formally "Rancho de Bimbo," on 01-17-2009. We salute you Herr Bernanke, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Cheney

Heil Bush

Obama's Allegedly "New" Centrism And His ABC Interview
By Glenn Greenwald

The central tenets of the Beltway religion -- particularly when a Democrat is in the White House -- have long been "centrism" and "bipartisanship." The only good Democrats are the ones who scorn their "left-wing" base while embracing Republicans. In Beltway lingo, that's what "pragmatism" and good "post-partisanship" mean: a Democrat whose primary goal is to prove he's not one of those leftists. The Washington Post's David Ignatius today lavishes praise on Barack Obama for his allegiance to these Beltway pieties -- and actually seems to believe that there is something new and innovative about this approach:

The impatient freshman senator is about to become president, but he hasn't lost his distaste for Washington politics as usual. And as the inauguration approaches, Obama is doing something quite remarkable: Rather than settling into the normal partisan governing stance, he is breaking with it -- moving toward the center in a way that upsets some of his liberal allies but offers the promise of broad national support.

Obama talked during the campaign about creating a new kind of post-partisan politics -- and dissolving the country's cultural and racial and ideological boundaries. Given Obama's limited record as a centrist politician, it was hard to know if he really meant it. . . .

It turns out that Obama was serious. Since Election Day, he has taken a series of steps to co-opt his opponents and fashion a new governing majority. It's an admirable strategy but also a high-risk one, since the "center," however attractive it may be in principle, is often a nebulous political never-never land.

Whatever else one might want to say about this "centrist" approach, the absolute last thing one can say about it is that there's anything "new" or "remarkable" about it. The notion that Democrats must spurn their left-wing base and move to the "non-ideological" center is the most conventional of conventional Beltway wisdom (which is why Ignatius, the most conventional of Beltway pundits, is preaching it). That's how Democrats earn their Seriousness credentials, and it's been that way for decades.

Several weeks ago, I documented that this was the exact approach that fueled Bill Clinton's candidacy and the Clinton Presidency. That's what Clinton's widely-celebrated Sister Souljah moment and his Dick-Morris-designed "triangulation" were all about: "moving toward the center in a way that upsets some of his liberal allies," as Ignatius put it today as though it's some brand new Obama invention. Clinton's approach even resulted in his own GOP Defense Secretary. And, during the Bush era of the last eight years, moving to the Center and spurning their base was about the only "principle" that ever animated Congressional Democrats.

That's why it's been so bizarre listening to Beltway pundits, along with some of the hardest-core Obama followers, acting as though they've discovered some brand new exotic elixir -- the most important discovery since the Fountain of Youth -- with all of these tired buzzphrases about centrism, post-partisan transcendence, and These are the same things Democrats have been saying and doing since the early 1980s. This is from some random, typical 1998 Democratic Leadership Council document about "The Third Way":

The Democratic Leadership Council, and its affiliated think tank the Progressive Policy Institute, have been catalysts for modernizing politics and government. From their political analysis and policy innovations has emerged a progressive alternative to the worn-out dogmas of traditional liberalism and conservatism. . . .

The Third Way philosophy seeks to adapt enduring progressive values to the new challenges of the information age. It rests on three cornerstones: the idea that government should promote equal opportunity for all while granting special privilege for none; an ethic of mutual responsibility that equally rejects the politics of entitlement and the politics of social abandonment; and, a new approach to governing that empowers citizens to act for themselves.

"The worn-out dogmas of traditional liberalism and conservatism." And even before Clinton and the DLC, here was the centerpiece of Michael Dukakis' 1988 Democratic Convention acceptance speech:

It's time to understand that the greatest threat to our national security in this hemisphere is not the Sandinistas-it's the avalanche of drugs that is pouring into this country and poisoning our children.

I don't think I have to tell any of you how much we Americans expect of ourselves or how much we have a right to expect from those we elect to public office.

Because this election isn't about ideology. It's about competence. It's not about overthrowing governments in Central America. It's about creating good jobs in middle America.

It's not about insider trading on Wall Street; it's about creating opportunity on Main Street.

"This election isn't about ideology. It's about competence." That was Michael Dukakis' battle-cry more than 20 years ago in order to prove that he wasn't beholden to those dreaded leftist ideologues in his party, that he was instead devoted to pragmatic solutions, to "whatever works." Yet Beltway centrist fetishists like Ignatius and some Obama supporters genuflect to those clichÈs -- Competence, Not Ideology! -- as though they're some kind of revolutionary, transformative dogma that the world has never heard before and that therefore serves as an all-purpose justifying instrument for whatever Obama does.

The mere fact that these ideas aren't remotely new doesn't prove that they're wrong. Old ideas can be valid. And it may be that Obama, once he's inaugurated, will do other things differently (Andrew Sullivan and Greg Sargent, in response to my last post on this topic, both described what they think will be new about Obama's approach). It's also possible that Obama's undeniable political talent, or the shifting political mindset of the country, will mean that Obama will succeed politically more than anyone else has in implementing these approaches.

But whatever else is true, what Ignatius and others are celebrating as "remarkable" -- that a national Democratic politician is alienating "the Left" and embracing the center-right in the name of transcending ideological and partisan conflicts -- is about the least new dynamic that one can imagine. That's what the most trite Beltway mavens -- from David Broder and Mickey Kaus to Joe Klein and The New Republic -- have been demanding since forever, and it's what Democratic leaders have done for as long as one can remember.

* * * * *

I've been saying since the election that it makes little sense to try to guess what Obama is going to do until he actually does it. That's especially true now, since we'll all have the actual evidence very shortly, and trying to speculate by divining the predictive meaning of his appointments or prior statements seems fruitless. Moreover, anonymous reports about what Obama is "likely" to do are particularly unreliable. I still believe that, but Obama's interview today with George Stephanopoulos provides the most compelling -- and most alarming -- evidence yet that all of the "centrist" and "post-partisan" chatter from Obama's supporters will mean what it typically means: devotion, first and foremost, to perpetuating rather than challenging how the Washington establishment functions.

As Talk Left's Jeralyn Merritt documents, Obama today rather clearly stated that he will not close Guantanamo in the first 100 days of his presidency. He recited the standard Jack Goldsmith/Brookings Institution condescending excuse that closing Guantanamo is "more difficult than people realize." Specifically, Obama argued, we cannot release detainees whom we're unable to convict in a court of law because the evidence against them is "tainted" as a result of our having tortured them, and therefore need some new system -- most likely a so-called new "national security court" -- that "relaxes" due process safeguards so that we can continue to imprison people indefinitely even though we're unable to obtain an actual conviction in an actual court of law.

Worst of all, Obama (in response to Stephanopoulos' asking him about the number one highest-voted question on, first submitted by Bob Fertik) all but said that he does not want to pursue prosecutions for high-level lawbreakers in the Bush administration, twice repeating the standard Beltway mantra that "we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards" and "my instinct is for us to focus on how do we make sure that moving forward we are doing the right thing." Obama didn't categorically rule out prosecutions -- he paid passing lip service to the pretty idea that "nobody is above the law," implied Eric Holder would have some role in making these decisions, and said "we're going to be looking at past practices" -- but he clearly intended to convey his emphatic view that he opposes "past-looking" investigations. In the U.S., high political officials aren't investigated, let alone held accountable, for lawbreaking, and that is rather clearly something Obama has no intention of changing.

In fairness, Obama has long made clear that this is the approach he intends to take to governing. After all, this is someone who, upon arriving in the Senate, sought out Joe Lieberman as his mentor, supported Lieberman over Ned Lamont in the primary, campaigned for Blue Dogs against progressive challengers, and has long paid homage to the Beltway centrism and post-partisan religion. And you can't very well place someone in a high-ranking position who explicitly advocates rendition and enhanced interrogation tactics and then simultaneously lead the way in criminally investigating those who authorized those same tactics.

So Obama can't be fairly criticized for hiding his devotion to this approach. But whatever else one wants to say about it, one cannot call it "new." This is what Democrats have been told for decades they must do and they've spent decades enthusiastically complying.
(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 Necessary Remedy
By Mary Pitt

With an economy that is sadly in the tank, a stock market that cannot get its feet back under it, with record and growing unemployment, and with working class and poor people suffering with too little income and too many expenses, the economists and politicians are quarreling over what will be required to heal the ills of our nation.

One "stimulus" has been tried but it was too little and too limited. Since it went only to the very poor, it immediately disappeared by being used to pay bills that were already in existence rather than on consumer spending. When the massive funds were doled out to the major banks, it did not make a ripple in the marketplace as the companies tucked the money into their reserve funds rather than releasing it into new lending.

After eight years of seeing a government that was more intent on its own pet projects than on the welfare of the people; of begging a recalcitrant Congress to do something to stop the openly discussed war of choice without authorization and then the suspension all our civil rights; of viewing reports of the horrible torture which was inflicted on enemy prisoners; of seeing our beloved Constitution, the rules of law set down by our Founding Fathers, the one thing that is lacking sounds relatively simple. It, like the other things that are proposed to remedy out malaise, cannot be accomplished quickly but will take a long time.

The one thing that has been destroyed by the foolhardy folks who have been running our lives is the faith that Americans used to have. Faith that candidates would at long last keep their promises. faith that they really care how painfully hard the national serfs must work and how their concerns about personal security weigh upon their minds. With those of us who are living on very restricted incomes it appears that we are the foreigners in their midst. We are not seen because nobody looks at us and, should they do so, nobody cares. There is absolutely no comprehension that there are actually people who must wear heavy clothing all winter because they can't afford to turn up the heat. They may know intellectually that the old and the handicapped still must choose between their medication and their food, despite all the programs that have been instituted but it does not reach their personal consciousness

When one becomes ill, the response is, "Gosh, no problem. You have Medicare, don't you?" They do not realize that checking into the hospital for day or two can leave one with over $1,000 to be paid upon release. They call that a "co-payment" and that is only after a "deductible" has been paid, but it is a month's Social Security income. Each year the gross Social Security check is "fattened" by a few dollars. However, fewer dollars reach the eligible person but most are gobbled up by increases in the premiums for Parts B and D. One who is dependent upon Social Security must develop an attitude of acceptance of the fact that their life is never going to get any better.

Those who find themselves unemployed must similarly resign themselves to acceptance that they will likely never get another job as good as the one that went to China, or Mexico, or Indonesia. It doesn't matter where it went. It's gone and it's not coming back. The President has been touting "entrepeneurship" over the years and encouraging us to go into our own businesses but only those with a good deal of money can afford to begin a new business. The gurus tell us that this should be done only if you have enough money to support your family for at least a year to give the business time to grow successfully. How many working people are able to save that amount of money when they have had to spend it to pay for their over-priced high-interest housing and the ever-increasing appetites of their growing family?

Everything that Barack Obama does and says and every one of his choices for Cabinet positions are scrutinized for authenticity and each choice is Googled and examined for indications of what we may expect from them. The organizations of which they are members are discussed at length along with the reputations of others who may be members. E-mails and blogs are full of charges and counter-charges until it is a case of Gloomy Gus vs. Hopeful Hannah. The debate is as heated as any that went on during the campaign for election.

For, you see, the "lower-class" American people have been betrayed and lied to, promised consideration only to have those promises reneged after election to the chosen post. mis-treated and abused. We have sat powerlessly by while our children were sent to a totally unnecessary war to kill the children of other parents. Our national wealth and our entire lifesyle have been sacrificed on the altar of "The War President" and our national reputation has been destroyed. One of the current jokes that you may hear on the streets is that our economy is so bad that the Mexicans are going home because they can't make a living here.

Yes, Americans have lost faith. We no longer have faith in the dreams of our fathers; no faith in the promise of equality; and no faith that our government truly represents the people. No matter how much money is spent or how much effort is exerted by our leaders in Washington, the American people will be using any "stimulus" to pay our old bills and, maybe, stuff a few dollars on the old mattress in case things get worse. There will be no large binge spending, no purchasing of high-dollar homes, and no new cars until we are convinced that our leaders in Washington can be believed when they tell us that they represent us, understand our problems, and will do something constructive about it.

This is the largest task the Obama administration faces and we do wish him the best of luck. We want to believe, we want to trust our leaders, and we really want to believe once again in The American Dream.
(c) 2009 Mary Pitt is a very "with-it" old lady who aspires to bring a bit of truth, justice, and common sense to a nation that has lost touch with its humanity in the search for societal "perfection." Huzzahs and whiney complaints may be sent to

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Bill Schorr ~~~

W the Movie Official Trailer

To End On A Happy Note...

I Want My Bailout Money
By Michael Adams

I want my bailout money
Keep the bills coming
Sweet green cash just drippin' like honey
I'm a new kind of thug with a Washington buzz 'cause
Dealing debt pays better than dealing drugs.

What do you think will happen when they double the money supply?
The falling dollar makes it harder for you to survive
They take those billions and trillions and give it to their own kind
Hope you don't mind bein' robbed blind.

How do you think we got runaway credit?
Ain't nothin goin down unless the crooks in Washington let it
Now they regret it but they still don't get it
Cause the economy is crashin' so bad it needs a paramedic.

I want my bailout money
Sweet green cash just dripping with honey
Gotta keep this economy running
I need another hit of my bailout money

Look at the stash, it's like a mad dash for the cash
They got the taxpayer takin' it in the ass
the CEOs they are havin' a blast
While the workin' poor trying to make the paycheck last.

The bailout money is created with new debt
While they rollin' in their limos and private jets
All the workers on the street drippin' sweat
While collar hustlers are takin' everything they can get.

They put the nation on a hyperinflation track
No Presidential administration can take it back
And now the taxpayers pickin' up the slack
Like they put a high dollar Big Brother monkey on your back.

I want my bailout money
Sweet green cash just dripping with honey
Gotta keep this economy running
I need another hit of my bailout money

The prisons are filled with brothers caught on a fifty-dollar jack
But when Whitey takin trillions, the cops they turn their back
The incompetent bankers, they get their jobs back
Cause those crankers smoking money like it was crack.

They take your car, your home, everything that you own
And when you're jobless and broke, you still gotta pay the loan
If you're thinkin' of stealin' some food, please don't
Just go to Washington and you can steal everything you want.

How we gonna solve this, dissolve the big scam
We resolve we won't let'em steal from a fellow man
Gotta raise our hands and ask "What is this?"
Then we put the Federal Reserve out of business!

You take a look at a dollar bill, you see that eye above the pyramid lookin back at you
That eye is laughin' at you suckers!

I want my bailout money
Keep the con running
Sweet green cash just dripping with honey
Gotta keep this economy running
I need another hit of my bailout money.

Aren't you tired of payin for that? Tired of breakin' your back for that?
Bein oppressed and suppressed while you keep payin' your tax for that?
We gotta get out of this financial trap
And it's never gonna stop until you take your country back.

The politicians are useless, don't you know that they used us
And the bankers refused us while the media schooled us
The authorities knew this was happening to us
Cause they make more money every time that they screw us.

You didn't think they're printing all that funny money just for you, did ya?

Drownin' in debt but the Fed isn't done yet
What are we gonna get?
Gonna print funny money
Budget's in the red, economy nearly dead
Politician's said that we
Gonna print funny money
Hangin' by a thread, the people are bein' bled
But get it through your head that we
Gonna print funny money
The bankers gotta stay ahead, gotta make more bread
That's when they said, "Print more money!"
(c) 2009 Michael Adams

Have You Seen This...

Pro-Israeli Bias in the U.S. Media

Parting Shots...

Some claim this is footage of the monster. Inset: Missing page Molly Denault.

Sixth Senate Page Dragged Away By Congressional Swamp Creature

WASHINGTON-The disappearance of a sixth Senate page in less than two months has renewed old fears in the legislative branch, leaving many to wonder if the legendary congressional swamp creature has returned.

Some claim this is footage of the monster. Inset: Missing page Molly Denault. On Monday, investigators identified the mysterious creature's latest victim as 17-year-old Molly Denault, a Dayton, OH native and high school junior who was appointed as a fall semester page by Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH). According to police reports, Denault was delivering a stack of legislative materials to the Senate when the amphibious man-beast seized her on the steps of the Capitol building, dragged her across the National Mall by her ankle, and disappeared into the reflecting pool.

Witnesses have identified the 7-foot-tall, lumbering, marsh-dwelling beast as the very same swamp creature that has roamed Capitol Hill for over 200 years.

"After investigating all the evidence, including the trail of kelp leading away from the staircase and the lingering stench of decomposing vegetable matter at the scene, we have concluded at this time that the Congressional swamp thing has indeed come back to feast on the flesh of blonde Senate pages," Metropolitan Police chief Richard Bryant said. "We urge all national-level politicians and their staff to take caution when strolling around the Capitol alone on foggy evenings, and to never, under any circumstances, go skinny-dipping in the Potomac River at night."

Police believe the shoe in the foreground belonged to the victim;
the kelp likely came from the swamp creature.

In response to the recent spate of attacks, Senate majority leader Harry Reid has implored legislators to set aside partisanship and pass a bill to end the swamp monster's reign of terror. But despite the urgency of the situation, the proposal has been mired in political maneuvering and stalled in committee due to disagreements over the bill's wording.

"We almost passed a funding allocation bill to purchase a flamethrower and burn the hideous half-man, half-salamander alive, until someone attached a $34 million rider for commercial logging in Montana," Reid said while boarding up his office windows. "And now that...thing has got another one of ours. It's time to take matters into our own hands and draft an immediate-action resolution with much stronger language."

Added Reid, "Our only hope is that poor Molly has sated its appetite for long enough to pass this amendment to the Procedure and Administration section of Title 26, the Internal Revenue Code."

This is not the first time legislators have found themselves living in terror of the scaly abomination. During Thomas Jefferson's presidency, the 8th U.S. Congress lost nine senators and 21 representatives to the aquatic fiend before it was able to secure enough votes to pass H.R. 243, the Back From Whence It Came proposal. In 1954, Sens. Sam Ervin (D-NC) and Henry Dworshak (R-ID) thought they had finally destroyed the swamp creature for good, after repeatedly stabbing the beast, spraying it with DDT, and dumping its body in the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. But after legislators discovered the gruesome remains of the Energy and Water Development subcommittee a few weeks later, Ervin admitted they had probably only aggravated the monster's aquatic wrath.

In June 1998, it struck once more, but congress took no action to avenge the death of its minority whip, due in large part to a stirring speech delivered by the swamp creature on campaign finance reform. And for the past decade, representatives have simply tried to pacify the creature with plenty of fresh squid.

"Our current legislative system is simply ill-equipped to deal with this kind of muck- encrusted menace," said D.C. historian and Georgetown professor William Butler, who recently wrote a book that traces the creature's bloodlust to 1791, when the area's swamplands were drained to make room for the new capital. "President Andrew Jackson came the closest to defeating it when it reared its hideous form during his inauguration. Unfortunately, the creature managed to escape Jackson's headlock and return to its cave underneath the Potomac."

The White House has formally denied the existence of the "barnacle-covered man-thing that roams the Senate halls fortnightly." After this latest disappearance, President Bush gave a press conference in D.C., urging everyone to remain calm and insisting that the violent attacks were likely carried out by a loose jaguar or pack of wolves.

As of press time, the Metropolitan Police force has doubled the number of officers dedicated to patrolling Sen. Ted Stevens office, upon the discovery of conspicuous puddles of saltwater and several tattered navy blue suit sleeves beneath the departing senator's desk.
(c) 2009 The Onion

The Gross National Debt

Zeitgeist The Movie...

Issues & Alibis Vol 9 # 3 (c) 01/16/2009

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