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In This Edition

Noam Chomsky reports, "Exterminate All The Brutes: Gaza 2009."

Uri Avnery with a must read, "Black Flag."

Victoria Stewart is, "Left Behind."

Jim Hightower wonders, "Is Geithner Really The Best There Is?"

Greg Palast exclaims, "Obama Is A Two-Faced Liar. Aw-RIGHT!"

Chris Hedges concludes, "It's Not Going To Be OK."

Paul Krugman demands, "Health Care Now."

Chris Floyd visits, "Paris When It Sizzles."

David Gutierrez with another FDA nightmare, "FDA To Approve Genetically Engineered Animals."

Mike Folkerth wonders, "John Maynard Keynes; Brilliant Or Mad As A Hatter?"

Robert Fisk asks, "When Did We Stop Caring About Civilian Deaths During Wartime?"

Cynthia McKinney warns, "President Obama, Don't Become Complicit In Their Crimes!"

Con-gressman Alcee Hastings wins the coveted "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Glenn Greenwald revisits, "The Daschles."

Mike Wrathell returns with, "Bill Ayers & U of M: Palling Around In Ann Arbor."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department 'The Landover Baptist Church' presents, "The Satanic Origins Of St. Valentine's Day" but first Uncle Ernie finds himself, "Amid Laughter And Merriment."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Kevin Siers with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Henry Payne, Bill Watterson, Ted Rall, The Heretik, Thierry Zoccolan, Seppo Leinonen, Mike Wrathell, Bernd Schifferdecker, David Karp, Landover Baptist.Org, 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."









Amid Laughter And Merrimnt
By Ernest Stewart

We'll murder them all amid laughter and merriment.
Except for the few we take home to experiment.
Poisoning Pigeons In The Park ~~~ Tom Lehrer

"Ominously, the bill also states that the camps can be used to 'meet other appropriate needs, as determined by the Secretary of Homeland Security,' an open ended mandate which many fear could mean the forced detention of American citizens in the event of widespread rioting after a national emergency or total economic collapse." ~~~ Paul Joseph Watson

"The bottom line is, we all work for the president of the United States in this chain of command, and he has signed an executive order which has made abundantly clear that until these reviews are done all of this is on hiatus." ~~~ Geoff Morrell Pentagoon spokesman

The truth is finally coming out about Israel's latst group of war crimes. They had little to do with the bottle rockets fired at Israel in desperation from the Gaza ghetto. Israel sparked that reaction by closing down all access to the ghetto and allowing the Palestinians inside to slowly starve and freeze to death as part of Israel's final solutions to the Palestinian question. The lap dog Palestinians in the West Bank will soon be forced to either leave or find themselves moved to Gaza as well when Israel consolidates the West Bank into Israel. All Palestinians, whether in the territories or inside of Israel, will find themselves country-less or dead.

What Israel was actually doing in Gaza was killing the Palestinians in clever, new ways by using brand new American ordinance against the women and children trapped inside. Of course, they've been field testing new American designs for decades in Palestine and Lebanon. Trouble is, they're getting ready to start the final solutions of the Lebanese and Syrian questions in a dual-pronged war that will destroy all of Lebanon and Syria, regardless of whether they're Israeli clients, Muslims or Christians. This will be followed with attacks against Jordon and a thorough nuking of Iran.

To help them accomplish this we'll be giving them some of the new mini battleships, the Littoral Combat Ships. Although Corvette sized, the LCS's are bristling with various destructive weapons from torpedoes to nuclear tipped missiles and are capable of close in support a few yards off the beach, launching landing craft and troop-carrying helicopters. We'll supply, as well, a brand new group of rockets, missiles and artillery rounds that will leave innocent men, women and children blown to tiny bits. Your tax dollars at work, America.

Of course, no one will do anything about this. The Europeans have all been threatened that if they oppose Israel their capital cites will be nuked in retaliation and, of course, Israel is just crazy enough to do just that. Like Frankenstein, we've created a monster that's gotten out of control and I have no doubt that if we were to end all aid to Israel or try to stop them then we'd be under attack from them, too. But that isn't going to happen. It won't happen because they now control the media, the banks and all three branches of government from the Capital steps to the White House.

Driven by right-wing politicians and rabbis that quote the old testament, baby killing is not only legal but demanded by their god. It is only a matter of time before Israel and surrounding areas are turned into a glow-in-the-dark parking lot that will be uninhabitable for the next 250,000 years. Making it the final solution of the Israeli question! As "Pogo" once warned, "We Have Met The Enemy And He Is Us!"

In Other News

I see where they're going to be ramping up construction on some new "Happy Camps" on old military bases. This is in conjunction with building new camps and existing FEMA Camps.

Alcee Hastings Demoncratic Con-gressman from Florida (I bet you thought that only Rethuglicans were behind the new Happy Camps, huh?) has introduced his "National Emergency Centers Establishment Act" H. R. 645. into the 111th CON-GRESS. H.R. 645 establishes:

(a) In General- In accordance with the requirements of this Act, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall establish not fewer than 6 national emergency centers on military installations.

(b)
Purpose of National Emergency Centers- The purpose of a national emergency center shall be to use existing infrastructure

(1) to provide temporary housing, medical, and humanitarian assistance to individuals and families dislocated due to an emergency or major disaster;

(2)
to provide centralized locations for the purposes of training and ensuring the coordination of Federal, State, and local first responders;

(3)
to provide centralized locations to improve the coordination of preparedness, response, and recovery efforts of government, private, and not-for-profit entities and faith-based organizations; and

(4)
to meet other appropriate needs, as determined by the Secretary of Homeland Security.

This also calls for the Secretary of Fatherland, oops, Homeland Security to be, ".....capable of meeting for an extended period of time the housing, health, transportation, education, public works, humanitarian and other transition needs of a large number of individuals affected by an emergency or major disaster' as determined by the Secretary of Homeland Security."

The Germans had a similar law, "Article 48" of the Weimar Constitution, that Hitler used to open the first concentration camp Dachau. (Oh, and by-the-way, Dachau was based on American Civil War Happy Camps) In Article 48, "the government was given authority to curtail constitutional rights including free expression of opinion, freedom of the press, rights of assembly, and the privacy of postal, telegraphic and telephonic communications. Constitutional restrictions on searches and confiscation of property were likewise suspended."

Does that ring any bells about recently passed laws by 109th Con-gress, America? For example, Public Law 109-364, or the "John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007" (H.R.5122)." Did I mention that Public Law 109-364 won't be removed from the books by Barry? Still wondering why Barry voted for the FISA Bill?

And Finally

There comes the strange, twisted tale of Army Colonel James Pohl. Colonel Pohl was appointed Chief Inquisitor for that three ring circus down in Gitmo by the "Smirked One" on January 9th. Sort of Bush's way of saying f*ck you to Barry's intent of closing down that national embarrassment. James heads the Kangaroo Court which was recently told to cease and desist for 120 days so that the new Junta could get it together about what to do with those poor wretches we've been torturing confessions out of for years and years! The other two judges immediately complied with the order and shut down their courts.

When given Barry's request to relax for 120 days, James said, no way Jose, stuck his thumbs in his ears and added "nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah!" While that may have given hard-ons to some of James' superiors and Rumsfeld's leftover fascists in the Pentagoon, it will no doubt cost James any chance he has to get his star, even though he's saved up thousands of box tops!

James, being the lawyer scumbag that he is, thinks he can hide behind semantics while defying orders from his Commander in Chief. True, Barry didn't give him a direct order to stand down but the intent was clearly there. Standing just on the edge of treason and sedition is not a very tenable position, even when as power mad as James undoubtedly is.

Geoff Morrell, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters that there were "no ifs, ands or buts" about adhering to the president's executive order and that there would "be no proceedings continuing down at Gitmo with military commissions."

James thinks that the same court system in America is unqualified to handle the Gitmo waifs even though the first groups of WTC bombers are all doing life in various "Super Maxs" without any problems at all. No one has tried to blow up the prisons and free the inmates nor have any been released to seek revenge. And none of the new prisoners will give the federal prison systems any problems either. There are no escapes from "Super Maxs"so the best thing James can do, if he has any honor at all, is simply and quietly fall upon his sword and end this monstrous chapter in American "justice!"

*****

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.

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Ernest & Victoria Stewart



*****


09-22-1932 ~ 01-30-2009
The Big KO!




*****

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: http://wthemovie.com. 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.

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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 8 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."













Exterminate All The Brutes: Gaza 2009
By Noam Chomsky

On Saturday December 27, the latest US-Israeli attack on helpless Palestinians was launched. The attack had been meticulously planned, for over 6 months according to the Israeli press. The planning had two components: military and propaganda. It was based on the lessons of Israel's 2006 invasion of Lebanon, which was considered to be poorly planned and badly advertised. We may, therefore, be fairly confident that most of what has been done and said was pre-planned and intended.

That surely includes the timing of the assault: shortly before noon, when children were returning from school and crowds were milling in the streets of densely populated Gaza City. It took only a few minutes to kill over 225 people and wound 700, an auspicious opening to the mass slaughter of defenseless civilians trapped in a tiny cage with nowhere to flee.

In his retrospective "Parsing Gains of Gaza War," New York Times correspondent Ethan Bronner cited this achievement as one of the most significant of the gains. Israel calculated that it would be advantageous to appear to "go crazy," causing vastly disproportionate terror, a doctrine that traces back to the 1950s. "The Palestinians in Gaza got the message on the first day," Bronner wrote, "when Israeli warplanes struck numerous targets simultaneously in the middle of a Saturday morning. Some 200 were killed instantly, shocking Hamas and indeed all of Gaza." The tactic of "going crazy" appears to have been successful, Bronner concluded: there are "limited indications that the people of Gaza felt such pain from this war that they will seek to rein in Hamas," the elected government. That is another long-standing doctrine of state terror. I don't, incidentally, recall the Times retrospective "Parsing Gains of Chechnya War," though the gains were great. The meticulous planning also presumably included the termination of the assault, carefully timed to be just before the inauguration, so as to minimize the (remote) threat that Obama might have to say some words critical of these vicious US-supported crimes.

Two weeks after the Sabbath opening of the assault, with much of Gaza already pounded to rubble and the death toll approaching 1000, the UN Agency UNRWA, on which most Gazans depend for survival, announced that the Israeli military refused to allow aid shipments to Gaza, saying that the crossings were closed for the Sabbath. To honor the holy day, Palestinians at the edge of survival must be denied food and medicine, while hundreds can be slaughtered by US jet bombers and helicopters.

The rigorous observance of the Sabbath in this dual fashion attracted little if any notice. That makes sense. In the annals of US-Israeli criminality, such cruelty and cynicism scarcely merit more than a footnote. They are too familiar. To cite one relevant parallel, in June 1982 the US-backed Israeli invasion of Lebanon opened with the bombing of the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila, later to become famous as the site of terrible massacres supervised by the IDF (Israeli "Defense" Forces). The bombing hit the local hospital -- the Gaza hospital -- and killed over 200 people, according to the eyewitness account of an American Middle East academic specialist. The massacre was the opening act in an invasion that slaughtered some 15-20,000 people and destroyed much of southern Lebanon and Beirut, proceeding with crucial US military and diplomatic support. That included vetoes of Security Council resolutions seeking to halt the criminal aggression that was undertaken, as scarcely concealed, to defend Israel from the threat of peaceful political settlement, contrary to many convenient fabrications about Israelis suffering under intense rocketing, a fantasy of apologists.

All of this is normal, and quite openly discussed by high Israeli officials. Thirty years ago Chief of Staff Mordechai Gur observed that since 1948, "we have been fighting against a population that lives in villages and cities." As Israel's most prominent military analyst, Zeev Schiff, summarized his remarks, "the Israeli Army has always struck civilian populations, purposely and consciously ... the Army, he said, has never distinguished civilian [from military] targets ... [but] purposely attacked civilian targets." The reasons were explained by the distinguished statesman Abba Eban: "there was a rational prospect, ultimately fulfilled, that affected populations would exert pressure for the cessation of hostilities." The effect, as Eban well understood, would be to allow Israel to implement, undisturbed, its programs of illegal expansion and harsh repression. Eban was commenting on a review of Labor government attacks against civilians by Prime Minister Begin, presenting a picture, Eban said, "of an Israel wantonly inflicting every possible measure of death and anguish on civilian populations in a mood reminiscent of regimes which neither Mr.Begin nor I would dare to mention by name." Eban did not contest the facts that Begin reviewed, but criticized him for stating them publicly. Nor did it concern Eban, or his admirers, that his advocacy of massive state terror is also reminiscent of regimes he would not dare to mention by name.

Eban's justification for state terror is regarded as persuasive by respected authorities. As the current US-Israel assault raged, Times columnist Thomas Friedman explained that Israel's tactics both in the current attack and in its invasion of Lebanon in 2006 are based on the sound principle of "trying to `educate' Hamas, by inflicting a heavy death toll on Hamas militants and heavy pain on the Gaza population." That makes sense on pragmatic grounds, as it did in Lebanon, where "the only long-term source of deterrence was to exact enough pain on the civilians -- the families and employers of the militants -- to restrain Hezbollah in the future." And by similar logic, bin Laden's effort to "educate" Americans on 9/11 was highly praiseworthy, as were the Nazi attacks on Lidice and Oradour, Putin's destruction of Grozny, and other notable attempts at "education."

Israel has taken pains to make clear its dedication to these guiding principles. NYT correspondent Stephen Erlanger reports that Israeli human rights groups are "troubled by Israel's strikes on buildings they believe should be classified as civilian, like the parliament, police stations and the presidential palace" -- and, we may add, villages, homes, densely populated refugee camps, water and sewage systems, hospitals, schools and universities, mosques, UN relief facilities, ambulances, and indeed anything that might relieve the pain of the unworthy victims. A senior Israeli intelligence officer explained that the IDF attacked "both aspects of Hamas -- its resistance or military wing and its dawa, or social wing," the latter a euphemism for the civilian society. "He argued that Hamas was all of a piece," Erlanger continues, "and in a war, its instruments of political and social control were as legitimate a target as its rocket caches." Erlanger and his editors add no comment about the open advocacy, and practice, of massive terrorism targeting civilians, though correspondents and columnists signal their tolerance or even explicit advocacy of war crimes, as noted. But keeping to the norm, Erlanger does not fail to stress that Hamas rocketing is "an obvious violation of the principle of discrimination and fits the classic definition of terrorism."

Like others familiar with the region, Middle East specialist Fawwaz Gerges observes that "What Israeli officials and their American allies do not appreciate is that Hamas is not merely an armed militia but a social movement with a large popular base that is deeply entrenched in society." Hence when they carry out their plans to destroy Hamas's "social wing," they are aiming to destroy Palestinian society.

Gerges may be too kind. It is highly unlikely that Israeli and American officials -- or the media and other commentators -- do not appreciate these facts. Rather, they implicitly adopt the traditional perspective of those who monopolize means of violence: our mailed fist can crush any opposition, and if our furious assault has a heavy civilian toll, that's all to the good: perhaps the remnants will be properly educated.

IDF officers clearly understand that they are crushing the civilian society. Ethan Bronner quotes an Israeli Colonel who says that he and his men are not much "impressed with the Hamas fighters." "They are villagers with guns," said a gunner on an armored personnel carrier. They resemble the victims of the murderous IDF "iron fist" operations in occupied southern Lebanon in 1985, directed by Shimon Peres, one of the great terrorist commanders of the era of Reagan's "War on Terror." During these operations, Israeli commanders and strategic analysts explained that the victims were "terrorist villagers," difficult to eradicate because "these terrorists operate with the support of most of the local population." An Israeli commander complained that "the terrorist...has many eyes here, because he lives here," while the military correspondent of the Jerusalem Post described the problems Israeli forces faced in combating the "terrorist mercenary," "fanatics, all of whom are sufficiently dedicated to their causes to go on running the risk of being killed while operating against the IDF," which must "maintain order and security" in occupied southern Lebanon despite "the price the inhabitants will have to pay." The problem has been familiar to Americans in South Vietnam, Russians in Afghanistan, Germans in occupied Europe, and other aggressors that find themselves implementing the Gur-Eban-Friedman doctrine.

Gerges believes that US-Israeli state terror will fail: Hamas, he writes, "cannot be wiped out without massacring half a million Palestinians. If Israel succeeds in killing Hamas's senior leaders, a new generation, more radical than the present, will swiftly replace them. Hamas is a fact of life. It is not going away, and it will not raise the white flag regardless of how many casualties it suffers."

Perhaps, but there is often a tendency to underestimate the efficacy of violence. It is particularly odd that such a belief should be held in the United States. Why are we here?

Hamas is regularly described as "Iranian-backed Hamas, which is dedicated to the destruction of Israel." One will be hard put to find something like "democratically elected Hamas, which has long been calling for a two-state settlement in accord with the international consensus" -- blocked for over 30 years by the US and Israel, which reject the right of Palestinians to self-determination. All true, but not a useful contribution to the Party Line, hence dispensable.

Such details as those mentioned earlier, though minor, nevertheless teach us something about ourselves and our clients. So do others. To mention another one, as the latest US-Israeli assault on Gaza began, a small boat, the Dignity, was on its way from Cyprus to Gaza. The doctors and human rights activists aboard intended to violate Israel's criminal blockade and to bring medical supplies to the trapped population. The ship was intercepted in international waters by Israeli naval vessels, which rammed it severely, almost sinking it, though it managed to limp to Lebanon. Israel issued the routine lies, refuted by the journalists and passengers aboard, including CNN correspondent Karl Penhaul and former US representative and Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney. That is a serious crime -- much worse, for example, than hijacking boats off the coast of Somalia. It passed with little notice. The tacit acceptance of such crimes reflects the understanding that Gaza is occupied territory, and that Israel is entitled to maintain its siege, even authorized by the guardians of international order to carry out crimes on the high seas to implement its programs of punishing the civilian population for disobedience to its commands -- under pretexts to which we return, almost universally accepted but clearly untenable.

The lack of attention again makes sense. For decades, Israel had been hijacking boats in international waters between Cyprus and Lebanon, killing or kidnapping passengers, sometimes bringing them to prisons in Israel, including secret prison/torture chambers, to hold as hostages for many years. Since the practices are routine, why treat the new crime with more than a yawn? Cyprus and Lebanon reacted quite differently, but who are they in the scheme of things?

Who cares, for example, if the editors of Lebanon's Daily Star, generally pro-Western, write that "Some 1.5 million people in Gaza are being subjected to the murderous ministrations of one of the world's most technologically advanced but morally regressive military machines. It is often suggested that the Palestinians have become to the Arab world what the Jews were to pre-World War II Europe, and there is some truth to this interpretation. How sickeningly appropriate, then, that just as Europeans and North Americans looked the other way when the Nazis were perpetrating the Holocaust, the Arabs are finding a way to do nothing as the Israelis slaughter Palestinian children." Perhaps the most shameful of the Arab regimes is the brutal Egyptian dictatorship, the beneficiary of most US military aid, apart from Israel.

According to the Lebanese press, Israel still "routinely abducts Lebanese civilians from the Lebanese side of the Blue Line [the international border], most recently in December 2008." And of course "Israeli planes violate Lebanese airspace on a daily basis in violation of UN Resolution 1701" (Lebanese scholar Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, Daily Star, Jan. 13). That too has been happening for a long time. In condemning Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 2006, the prominent Israeli strategic analyst Zeev Maoz wrote in the Israeli press that "Israel has violated Lebanese airspace by carrying out aerial reconnaissance missions virtually every day since its withdrawal from Southern Lebanon six years ago. True, these aerial overflights did not cause any Lebanese casualties, but a border violation is a border violation. Here too, Israel does not hold a higher moral ground." And in general, there is no basis for the "wall-to-wall consensus in Israel that the war against the Hezbollah in Lebanon is a just and moral war," a consensus "based on selective and short-term memory, on an introvert world view, and on double standards. This is not a just war, the use of force is excessive and indiscriminate, and its ultimate aim is extortion."

As Maoz also reminds his Israeli readers, overflights with sonic booms to terrorize Lebanese are the least of Israeli crimes in Lebanon, even apart from its five invasions since 1978: "On July 28, 1988 Israeli Special Forces abducted Sheikh Obeid, and on May 21, 1994 Israel abducted Mustafa Dirani, who was responsible for capturing the Israeli pilot Ron Arad [when he was bombing Lebanon in 1986]. Israel held these and other 20 Lebanese who were captured under undisclosed circumstances in prison for prolonged periods without trial. They were held as human `bargaining chips.' Apparently, abduction of Israelis for the purpose of prisoners' exchange is morally reprehensible, and militarily punishable when it is the Hezbollah who does the abducting, but not if Israel is doing the very same thing," and on a far grander scale and over many years.

Israel's regular practices are significant even apart from what they reveal about Israeli criminality and Western support for it. As Maoz indicates, these practices underscore the utter hypocrisy of the standard claim that Israel had the right to invade Lebanon once again in 2006 when soldiers were captured at the border, the first cross-border action by Hezbollah in the six years since Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon, which it occupied in violation of Security Council orders going back 22 years, while during these six years Israel violated the border almost daily with impunity, and silence here.

The hypocrisy is, again, routine. Thus Thomas Friedman, while explaining how the lesser breeds are to be "educated" by terrorist violence, writes that Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 2006, once again destroying much of southern Lebanon and Beirut while killing another 1000 civilians, was a just act of self-defense, responding to Hezbollah's crime of "launching an unprovoked war across the U.N.-recognized Israel-Lebanon border, after Israel had unilaterally withdrawn from Lebanon." Putting aside the deceit, by the same logic, terrorist attacks against Israelis that are far more destructive and murderous than any that have taken place would be fully justified in response to Israel's criminal practices in Lebanon and on the high seas, which vastly exceed Hezbollah's crime of capturing two soldiers at the border. The veteran Middle East specialist of the New York Times surely knows about these crimes, at least if he reads his own newspaper: for example, the 18th paragraph of a story on prisoner exchange in November 1983 which observes, casually, that 37 of the Arab prisoners "had been seized recently by the Israeli Navy as they tried to make their way from Cyprus to Tripoli," north of Beirut.

Of course, all such conclusions about appropriate actions against the rich and powerful are based on a fundamental flaw: This is us, and that is them. This crucial principle, deeply embedded in Western culture, suffices to undermine even the most precise analogy and the most impeccable reasoning.

As I write, another boat is on its way from Cyprus to Gaza, "carrying urgently needed medical supplies in sealed boxes, cleared by customs at the Larnaca International Airport and the Port of Larnaca," the organizers report. Passengers include members of European Parliaments and physicians. Israel has been notified of their humanitarian intent. With sufficient popular pressure, they might achieve their mission in peace.

The new crimes that the US and Israel have been committing in Gaza in the past weeks do not fit easily into any standard category -- except for the category of familiarity; I've just given several examples, and will return to others. Literally, the crimes fall under the official US government definition of "terrorism," but that designation does not capture their enormity. They cannot be called "aggression," because they are being conducted in occupied territory, as the US tacitly concedes. In their comprehensive scholarly history of Israeli settlement in the occupied territories, Lords of the Land, Idit Zertal and Akiva Eldar point out that after Israel withdrew its forces from Gaza in August 2005, the ruined territory was not released "for even a single day from Israel's military grip or from the price of the occupation that the inhabitants pay every day ... Israel left behind scorched earth, devastated services, and people with neither a present nor a future. The settlements were destroyed in an ungenerous move by an unenlightened occupier, which in fact continues to control the territory and kill and harass its inhabitants by means of its formidable military might" -- exercised with extreme savagery, thanks to firm US support and participation.

The US-Israeli assault on Gaza escalated in January 2006, a few months after the formal withdrawal, when Palestinians committed a truly heinous crime: they voted "the wrong way" in a free election. Like others, Palestinians learned that one does not disobey with impunity the commands of the Master, who continues to prate of his "yearning for democracy," without eliciting ridicule from the educated classes, another impressive achievement.

Since the terms "aggression" and "terrorism" are inadequate, some new term is needed for the sadistic and cowardly torture of people caged with no possibility of escape, while they are being pounded to dust by the most sophisticated products of US military technology -- used in violation of international and even US law, but for self-declared outlaw states that is just another minor technicality. Also a minor technicality is the fact that on December 31, while terrorized Gazans were desperately seeking shelter from the ruthless assault, Washington hired a German merchant ship to transport from Greece to Israel a huge shipment, 3000 tons, of unidentified "ammunition." The new shipment "follows the hiring of a commercial ship to carry a much larger consignment of ordnance in December from the United States to Israel ahead of air strikes in the Gaza Strip," Reuters reported. All of this is separate from the more than $21 billion in U.S. military aid provided by the Bush administration to Israel, almost all grants. "Israel's intervention in the Gaza Strip has been fueled largely by U.S. supplied weapons paid for with U.S. tax dollars," said a briefing by the New America Foundation, which monitors the arms trade. The new shipment was hampered by the decision of the Greek government to bar the use of any port in Greece "for the supplying of the Israeli army."

Greece's response to US-backed Israeli crimes is rather different from the craven performance of the leaders of most of Europe. The distinction reveals that Washington may have been quite realistic in regarding Greece as part of the Near East, not Europe, until the overthrow of its US-backed fascist dictatorship in 1974. Perhaps Greece is just too civilized to be part of Europe.

Were anyone to find the timing of the arms deliveries to Israel curious, and inquire further, the Pentagon has an answer: the shipment would arrive too late to escalate the Gaza attack, and the military equipment, whatever it may be, is to be pre-positioned in Israel for eventual use by the US military. That may be accurate. One of the many services that Israel performs for its patron is to provide it with a valuable military base at the periphery of the world's major energy resources. It can therefore serve as a forward base for US aggression -- or to use the technical terms, to "defend the Gulf" and "ensure stability."

The huge flow of arms to Israel serves many subsidiary purposes. Middle East policy analyst Mouin Rabbani observes that Israel can test newly developed weapons systems against defenseless targets. This is of value to Israel and the US "twice over, in fact, because less effective versions of these same weapons systems are subsequently sold at hugely inflated prices to Arab states, which effectively subsidizes the U.S. weapons industry and U.S. military grants to Israel." These are additional functions of Israel in the US-dominated Middle East system, and among the reasons why Israel is so favored by the state authorities, along with a wide range of US high-tech corporations, and of course military industry and intelligence.

Israel apart, the US is by far the world's major arms supplier. The recent New America Foundation report concludes that "U.S. arms and military training played a role in 20 of the world's 27 major wars in 2007," earning the US $23 billion in receipts, increasing to $32 billion in 2008. Small wonder that among the numerous UN resolutions that the US opposed in the December 2008 UN session was one calling for regulation of the arms trade. In 2006, the US was alone in voting against the treaty, but in November 2008 it was joined by a partner: Zimbabwe.

There were other notable votes at the December UN session. A resolution on "the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination" was adopted by 173 to 5 (US, Israel, Pacific island dependencies, the US and Israel with evasive pretexts). The vote reaffirms US-Israeli rejectionism, in international isolation. Similarly a resolution on "universal freedom of travel and the vital importance of family reunification" was adopted with US, Israel, and Pacific dependencies opposed, presumably with Palestinians in mind.

In voting against the right to development the US lost Israel but gained Ukraine. In voting against the "right to food," the US was alone, a particular striking fact in the face of the enormous global food crisis, dwarfing the financial crisis that threatens western economies.

There are good reasons why the voting record is consistently unreported and dispatched deep into the memory hole by the media and conformist intellectuals. It would not be wise to reveal to the public what the record implies about their elected representatives. In the present case it would plainly be unhelpful to let the public know that US-Israeli rejectionism, barring the peaceful settlement long advocated by the world, reaches such an extreme as to deny Palestinians even the abstract right to self-determination.

One of the heroic volunteers in Gaza, Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert, described the scene of horror as an "All out war against the civilian population of Gaza." He estimated that half the casualties are women and children. The men are almost all civilians as well, by civilized standards. Gilbert reports that he had scarcely seen a military casualty among the 100s of bodies. The IDF concurs. Hamas "made a point of fighting at a distance -- or not at all," Ethan Bronner reports while "parsing the gains" of the US-Israeli assault. So Hamas's manpower remains intact, and it was mostly civilians who suffered pain: a positive outcome, according to widely-held doctrine.

These estimates were confirmed by UN humanitarian chief John Holmes, who informed reporters that it is "a fair presumption" that most of the civilians killed were women and children in a humanitarian crisis that is "worsening day by day as the violence continues." But we could be comforted by the words of Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, the leading dove in the current electoral campaign, who assured the world that there is no "humanitarian crisis" in Gaza, thanks to Israeli benevolence.

Like others who care about human beings and their fate, Gilbert and Holmes pleaded for a ceasefire. But not yet. "At the United Nations, the United States prevented the Security Council from issuing a formal statement on Saturday night calling for an immediate ceasefire," the New York Times mentioned in passing. The official reason was that "there was no indication Hamas would abide by any agreement." In the annals of justifications for delighting in slaughter, this must rank among the most cynical. That of course was Bush and Rice, soon to be displaced by Obama who compassionately repeats that "if missiles were falling where my two daughters sleep, I would do everything in order to stop that." He is referring to Israeli children, not the many hundreds being torn to shreds in Gaza by US arms. Beyond that Obama maintained his silence.

A few days later, under intense international pressure, the US backed a Security Council resolution calling for a "durable ceasefire." It passed 14-0, US abstaining. Israel and US hawks were angered that the US did not veto it, as usual. The abstention, however, sufficed to give Israel if not a green at least a yellow light to escalate the violence, as it did right up to virtually the moment of the inauguration, as had been predicted.

As the ceasefire (theoretically) went into effect on January18, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights released its figures for the final day of the assault: 54 Palestinians killed including 43 unarmed civilians, 17 of them children, while the IDF continued to bombard civilian homes and UN schools. The death toll, they estimated, mounted to 1,184, including 844 civilians, 281 of them children. The IDF continued to use incendiary bombs across the Gaza Strip, and to destroy houses and agricultural land, forcing civilians to flee their homes. A few hours later, Reuters reported more than 1,300 killed. The staff of the Al Mezan Center, which also carefully monitors casualties and destruction, visited areas that had previously been inaccessible because of incessant heavy bombardment. They discovered dozens of civilian corpses decomposing under the rubble of destroyed houses or removed by Israeli bulldozers. Entire urban blocks had disappeared.

The figures for killed and wounded are surely an underestimate. And it is unlikely that there will be any inquiry into these atrocities. Crimes of official enemies are subjected to rigorous investigation, but our own are systematically ignored. General practice, again, and understandable on the part of the masters.

The Security Council Resolution called for stopping the flow of arms into Gaza. The US and Israel (Rice-Livni) soon reached an agreement on measures to ensure this result, concentrating on Iranian arms. There is no need to stop smuggling of US arms into Israel, because there is no smuggling: the huge flow of arms is quite public, even when not reported, as in the case of the arms shipment announced as the slaughter in Gaza was proceeding.

The Resolution also called for "ensur[ing] the sustained re-opening of the crossing points on the basis of the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access between the Palestinian Authority and Israel"; that Agreement determined that crossings to Gaza would be operated on a continuous basis and that Israel would also allow the crossing of goods and people between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

The Rice-Livni agreement had nothing to say about this aspect of the Security Council Resolution. The US and Israel had in fact already abandoned the 2005 Agreement as part of their punishment of Palestinians for voting the wrong way in a free election in January 2006. Rice's press conference after the Rice-Livni agreement emphasized Washington's continuing efforts to undermine the results of the one free election in the Arab world: "There is much that can be done," she said, "to bring Gaza out of the dark of Hamas's reign and into the light of the very good governance the Palestinian Authority can bring" -- at least, can bring as long as it remains a loyal client, rife with corruption and willing to carry out harsh repression, but obedient.

Returning from a visit to the Arab world, Fawwaz Gerges strongly affirmed what others on the scene have reported. The effect of the US-Israeli offensive in Gaza has been to infuriate the populations and to arouse bitter hatred of the aggressors and their collaborators. "Suffice it to say that the so-called moderate Arab states [that is, those that take their orders from Washington] are on the defensive, and that the resistance front led by Iran and Syria is the main beneficiary. Once again, Israel and the Bush administration have handed the Iranian leadership a sweet victory." Furthermore, "Hamas will likely emerge as a more powerful political force than before and will likely top Fatah, the ruling apparatus of President Mahmoud Abbas's Palestinian Authority," Rice's favorites.

It is worth bearing in mind that the Arab world is not scrupulously protected from the only regular live TV coverage of what is happening in Gaza, namely the "calm and balanced analysis of the chaos and destruction" provided by the outstanding correspondents of al-Jazeera, offering "a stark alternative to terrestrial channels," as reported by the London Financial Times. In the 105 countries lacking our efficient modalities of self-censorship, people can see what is happening hourly, and the impact is said to be very great. In the US, the New York Times reports, "the near-total blackout ... is no doubt related to the sharp criticism Al Jazeera received from the United States government during the initial stages of the war in Iraq for its coverage of the American invasion." Cheney and Rumsfeld objected, so, obviously, the independent media could only obey.

There is much sober debate about what the attackers hoped to achieve. Some of objectives are commonly discussed, among them, restoring what is called "the deterrent capacity" that Israel lost as a result of its failures in Lebanon in 2006 -- that is, the capacity to terrorize any potential opponent into submission. There are, however, more fundamental objectives that tend be ignored, though they too seem fairly obvious when we take a look at recent history.

Israel abandoned Gaza in September 2005. Rational Israeli hardliners, like Ariel Sharon, the patron saint of the settlers movement, understood that it was senseless to subsidize a few thousand illegal Israeli settlers in the ruins of Gaza, protected by the IDF while they used much of the land and scarce resources. It made more sense to turn Gaza into the world's largest prison and to transfer settlers to the West Bank, much more valuable territory, where Israel is quite explicit about its intentions, in word and more importantly in deed. One goal is to annex the arable land, water supplies, and pleasant suburbs of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv that lie within the separation wall, irrelevantly declared illegal by the World Court. That includes a vastly expanded Jerusalem, in violation of Security Council orders that go back 40 years, also irrelevant. Israel has also been taking over the Jordan Valley, about one-third of the West Bank. What remains is therefore imprisoned, and, furthermore, broken into fragments by salients of Jewish settlement that trisect the territory: one to the east of Greater Jerusalem through the town of Ma'aleh Adumim, developed through the Clinton years to split the West Bank; and two to the north, through the towns of Ariel and Kedumim. What remains to Palestinians is segregated by hundreds of mostly arbitrary checkpoints.

The checkpoints have no relation to security of Israel, and if some are intended to safeguard settlers, they are flatly illegal, as the World Court ruled. In reality, their major goal is harass the Palestinian population and to fortify what Israeli peace activist Jeff Halper calls the "matrix of control," designed to make life unbearable for the "two-legged beasts" who will be like "drugged roaches scurrying around in a bottle" if they seek to remain in their homes and land. All of that is fair enough, because they are "like grasshoppers compared to us" so that their heads can be "smashed against the boulders and walls." The terminology is from the highest Israeli political and military leaders, in this case the revered "princes." And the attitudes shape policies.

The ravings of the political and military leaders are mild as compared to the preaching of rabbinical authorities. They are not marginal figures. On the contrary, they are highly influential in the army and in the settler movement, who Zertal and Eldar reveal to be "lords of the land," with enormous impact on policy. Soldiers fighting in northern Gaza were afforded an "inspirational" visit from two leading rabbis, who explained to them that there are no "innocents" in Gaza, so everyone there is a legitimate target, quoting a famous passage from Psalms calling on the Lord to seize the infants of Israel's oppressors and dash them against the rocks. The rabbis were breaking no new ground. A year earlier, the former chief Sephardic rabbi wrote to Prime Minister Olmert, informing him that all civilians in Gaza are collectively guilty for rocket attacks, so that there is "absolutely no moral prohibition against the indiscriminate killing of civilians during a potential massive military offensive on Gaza aimed at stopping the rocket launchings," as the Jerusalem Post reported his ruling. His son, chief rabbi of Safed, elaborated: "If they don't stop after we kill 100, then we must kill a thousand, and if they do not stop after 1,000 then we must kill 10,000. If they still don't stop we must kill 100,000, even a million. Whatever it takes to make them stop."

Similar views are expressed by prominent American secular figures. When Israel invaded Lebanon in 2006, Harvard Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz explained in the liberal online journal Huffington Post that all Lebanese are legitimate targets of Israeli violence. Lebanon's citizens are "paying the price" for supporting "terrorism" -- that is, for supporting resistance to Israel's invasion. Accordingly, Lebanese civilians are no more immune to attack than Austrians who supported the Nazis. The fatwa of the Sephardic rabbi applies to them. In a video on the Jerusalem Post website, Dershowitz went on to ridicule talk of excessive kill ratios of Palestinians to Israelis: it should be increased to 1000-to-one, he said, or even 1000-to-zero, meaning the brutes should be completely exterminated. Of course, he is referring to "terrorists," a broad category that includes the victims of Israeli power, since "Israel never targets civilians," he emphatically declared. It follows that Palestinians, Lebanese, Tunisians, in fact anyone who gets in the way of the ruthless armies of the Holy State is a terrorist, or an accidental victim of their just crimes.

It is not easy to find historical counterparts to these performances. It is perhaps of some interest that they are considered entirely appropriate in the reigning intellectual and moral culture -- when they are produced on "our side," that is; from the mouths of official enemies such words would elicit righteous outrage and calls for massive preemptive violence in revenge.

The claim that "our side" never targets civilians is familiar doctrine among those who monopolize the means of violence. And there is some truth to it. We do not generally try to kill particular civilians. Rather, we carry out murderous actions that we know will slaughter many civilians, but without specific intent to kill particular ones. In law, the routine practices might fall under the category of depraved indifference, but that is not an adequate designation for standard imperial practice and doctrine. It is more similar to walking down a street knowing that we might kill ants, but without intent to do so, because they rank so low that it just doesn't matter. The same is true when Israel carries out actions that it knows will kill the "grasshoppers" and "two-legged beasts" who happen to infest the lands it "liberates." There is no good term for this form of moral depravity, arguably worse than deliberate murder, and all too familiar.

In the former Palestine, the rightful owners (by divine decree, according to the "lords of the land") may decide to grant the drugged roaches a few scattered parcels. Not by right, however: "I believed, and to this day still believe, in our people's eternal and historic right to this entire land," Prime Minister Olmert informed a joint session of Congress in May 2006 to rousing applause. At the same time he announced his "convergence" program for taking over what is valuable in the West Bank, leaving the Palestinians to rot in isolated cantons. He was not specific about the borders of the "entire land," but then, the Zionist enterprise never has been, for good reasons: permanent expansion is a very important internal dynamic. If Olmert is still faithful to his origins in Likud, he may have meant both sides of the Jordan, including the current state of Jordan, at least valuable parts of it.

Our people's "eternal and historic right to this entire land" contrasts dramatically with the lack of any right of self-determination for the temporary inhabitants, the Palestinians. As noted earlier, the latter stand was reiterated by Israel and its patron in Washington in December 2008, in their usual isolation and accompanied by resounding silence.

The plans that Olmert sketched in 2006 have since been abandoned as not sufficiently extreme. But what replaces the convergence program, and the actions that proceed daily to implement it, are approximately the same in general conception. They trace back to the earliest days of the occupation, when Defense Minister Moshe Dayan explained poetically that "the situation today resembles the complex relationship between a Bedouin man and the girl he kidnaps against his will ... You Palestinians, as a nation, don't want us today, but we'll change your attitude by forcing our presence on you." You will "live like dogs, and whoever will leave, will leave," while we take what we want.

That these programs are criminal has never been in doubt. Immediately after the 1967 war, the Israeli government was informed by its highest legal authority, Teodor Meron, that "civilian settlement in the administered territories contravenes the explicit provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention," the foundation of international humanitarian law. Israel's Justice Minister concurred. The World Court unanimously endorsed the essential conclusion in 2004, and the Israeli High Court technically agreed while disagreeing in practice, in its usual style.

In the West Bank, Israel can pursue its criminal programs with US support and no disturbance, thanks to its effective military control and by now the cooperation of the collaborationist Palestinian security forces armed and trained by the US and allied dictatorships. It can also carry out regular assassinations and other crimes, while settlers rampage under IDF protection. But while the West Bank has been effectively subdued by terror, there is still resistance in the other half of Palestine, the Gaza Strip. That too must be quelled for the US-Israeli programs of annexation and destruction of Palestine to proceed undisturbed.

Hence the invasion of Gaza.

The timing of the invasion was presumably influenced by the coming Israeli election. Ehud Barak, who was lagging badly in the polls, gained one parliamentary seat for every 40 Arabs killed in the early days of the slaughter, Israeli commentator Ran HaCohen calculated.

That may change, however. As the crimes passed beyond what the carefully honed Israeli propaganda campaign was able to suppress, even confirmed Israeli hawks became concerned that the carnage is "Destroying [Israel's] soul and its image. Destroying it on world television screens, in the living rooms of the international community and most importantly, in Obama's America" (Ari Shavit). Shavit was particularly concerned about Israel's "shelling a United Nations facility ... on the day when the UN secretary general is visiting Jerusalem," an act that is "beyond lunacy," he felt.

Adding a few details, the "facility" was the UN compound in Gaza City, which contained the UNRWA warehouse. The shelling destroyed "hundreds of tons of emergency food and medicines set for distribution today to shelters, hospitals and feeding centres," according to UNRWA director John Ging. Military strikes at the same time destroyed two floors of the al-Quds hospital, setting it ablaze, and also a second warehouse run by the Palestinian Red Crescent society. The hospital in the densely-populated Tal-Hawa neighbourhood was destroyed by Israeli tanks "after hundreds of frightened Gazans had taken shelter inside as Israeli ground forces pushed into the neighbourhood," AP reported.

There was nothing left to salvage inside the smoldering ruins of the hospital. "They shelled the building, the hospital building. It caught fire. We tried to evacuate the sick people and the injured and the people who were there. Firefighters arrived and put out the fire, which burst into flames again and they put it out again and it came back for the third time," paramedic Ahmad Al-Haz told AP. It was suspected that the blaze might have been set by white phosphorous, also suspected in numerous other fires and serious burn injuries.

The suspicions were confirmed by Amnesty International after the cessation of the intense bombardment made inquiry possible. Before, Israel had sensibly barred all journalists, even Israeli, while its crimes were proceeding in full fury. Israel's use of white phosphorus against Gaza civilians is "clear and undeniable," AI reported. Its repeated use in densely populated civilian areas "is a war crime," AI concluded. They found white phosphorus edges scattered around residential buildings, still burning, "further endangering the residents and their property," particularly children "drawn to the detritus of war and often unaware of the danger." Primary targets, they report, were the UNRWA compound, where the Israeli "white phosphorus landed next to some fuel trucks and caused a large fire which destroyed tons of humanitarian aid" after Israeli authorities "had given assurance that no further strikes would be launched on the compound." On the same day, "a white phosphorus shell landed in the al-Quds hospital in Gaza City also causing a fire which forced hospital staff to evacuate the patients ... White phosphorus landing on skin can burn deep through muscle and into the bone, continuing to burn unless deprived of oxygen." Purposely intended or beyond depraved indifference, such crimes are inevitable when this weapon is used in attacks on civilians.

It is, however, a mistake to concentrate too much on Israel's gross violations of jus in bello, the laws designed to bar practices that are too savage. The invasion itself is a far more serious crime. And if Israel had inflicted the horrendous damage by bows and arrows, it would still be a criminal act of extreme depravity.

Aggression always has a pretext: in this case, that Israel's patience had "run out" in the face of Hamas rocket attacks, as Barak put it. The mantra that is endlessly repeated is that Israel has the right to use force to defend itself. The thesis is partially defensible. The rocketing is criminal, and it is true that a state has the right to defend itself against criminal attacks. But it does not follow that it has a right to defend itself by force. That goes far beyond any principle that we would or should accept. Nazi Germany had no right to use force to defend itself against the terrorism of the partisans. Kristallnacht is not justified by Herschel Grynszpan's assassination of a German Embassy official in Paris. The British were not justified in using force to defend themselves against the (very real) terror of the American colonists seeking independence, or to terrorize Irish Catholics in response to IRA terror -- and when they finally turned to the sensible policy of addressing legitimate grievances, the terror ended. It is not a matter of "proportionality," but of choice of action in the first place: Is there an alternative to violence? Any resort to force carries a heavy burden of proof, and we have to ask whether it can be met in the case of Israel's effort to quell any resistance to its daily criminal actions in Gaza and in the West Bank, where they still continue relentlessly after more than 40 years. Perhaps I may quote myself in an interview in the Israeli press on Olmert's announced convergence plans for the West Bank: "The US and Israel do not tolerate any resistance to these plans, preferring to pretend -- falsely of course -- that `there is no partner,' as they proceed with programs that go back a long way. We may recall that Gaza and the West Bank are recognized to be a unit, so if resistance to the US-Israeli annexation-cantonization programs is legitimate in the West Bank, it is in Gaza too."

Palestinian-American journalist Ali Abunimah observed that "There are no rockets launched at Israel from the West Bank, and yet Israel's extrajudicial killings, land theft, settler pogroms and kidnappings never stopped for a day during the truce. The western-backed Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas has acceded to all Israel's demands. Under the proud eye of United States military advisors, Abbas has assembled `security forces' to fight the resistance on Israel's behalf. None of that has spared a single Palestinian in the West Bank from Israel's relentless colonization" -- thanks to firm US backing. The respected Palestinian parliamentarian Dr. Mustapha Barghouti adds that after Bush's Annapolis extravaganza in November 2007, with much uplifting rhetoric about dedication to peace and justice, Israeli attacks on Palestinians escalated sharply, with an almost 50% increase in the West Bank, along with a sharp increase in settlements and Israeli check points. Obviously these criminal actions are not a response to rockets from Gaza, though the converse may well be the case, Barghouti plausibly suggests.

The reactions to crimes of an occupying power can be condemned as criminal and politically foolish, but those who offer no alternative have no moral grounds to issue such judgments. The conclusion holds with particular force for those in the US who choose to be directly implicated in Israel's ongoing crimes -- by their words, their actions, or their silence. All the more so because there are very clear non-violent alternatives -- which, however, have the disadvantage that they bar the programs of illegal expansion.

Israel has a straightforward means to defend itself: put an end to its criminal actions in occupied territories, and accept the long-standing international consensus on a two-state settlement that has been blocked by the US and Israel for over 30 years, since the US first vetoed a Security Council resolution calling for a political settlement in these terms in 1976. I will not once again run through the inglorious record, but it is important to be aware that US-Israeli rejectionism today is even more blatant than in the past. The Arab League has gone even beyond the consensus, calling for full normalization of relations with Israel. Hamas has repeatedly called for a two-state settlement in terms of the international consensus. Iran and Hezbollah have made it clear that they will abide by any agreement that Palestinians accept. That leaves the US-Israel in splendid isolation, not only in words.

The more detailed record is informative. The Palestinian National Council formally accepted the international consensus in 1988. The response of the Shamir-Peres coalition government, affirmed by James Baker's State Department, was that there cannot be an "additional Palestinian state" between Israel and Jordan -- the latter already a Palestinian state by US-Israeli dictate. The Oslo accords that followed put to the side potential Palestinian national rights, and the threat that they might be realized in some meaningful form was systematically undermined through the Oslo years by Israel's steady expansion of illegal settlements. Settlement accelerated in 2000, President Clinton's and Prime Minister Barak's last year, when negotiations took place at Camp David against that background.

After blaming Yassir Arafat for the breakdown of the Camp David negotiations, Clinton backtracked, and recognized that the US-Israeli proposals were too extremist to be acceptable to any Palestinian. In December 2000, he presented his "parameters," vague but more forthcoming. He then announced that both sides had accepted the parameters, while both expressed reservations. The two sides met in Taba Egypt in January 2001 and came very close to an agreement, and would have been able to do so in a few more days, they said in their final press conference. But the negotiations were cancelled prematurely by Ehud Barak. That week in Taba is the one break in over 30 years of US-Israeli rejectionism. There is no reason why that one break in the record cannot be resumed.

The preferred version, recently reiterated by Ethan Bronner, is that "Many abroad recall Mr. Barak as the prime minister who in 2000 went further than any Israeli leader in peace offers to the Palestinians, only to see the deal fail and explode in a violent Palestinian uprising that drove him from power." It's true that "many abroad" believe this deceitful fairy tale, thanks to what Bronner and too many of his colleagues call "journalism".

It is commonly claimed that a two-state solution is now unattainable because if the IDF tried to remove settlers, it would lead to a civil war. That may be true, but much more argument is needed. Without resorting to force to expel illegal settlers, the IDF could simply withdraw to whatever boundaries are established by negotiations. The settlers beyond those boundaries would have the choice of leaving their subsidized homes to return to Israel, or to remain under Palestinian authority. The same was true of the carefully staged "national trauma" in Gaza in 2005, so transparently fraudulent that it was ridiculed by Israeli commentators. It would have sufficed for Israel to announce that the IDF would withdraw, and the settlers who were subsidized to enjoy their life in Gaza would have quietly climbed into the lorries provided to them and travelled to their new subsidized residences in the West Bank. But that would not have produced tragic photos of agonized children and passionate calls of "never again."

To summarize, contrary to the claim that is constantly reiterated, Israel has no right to use force to defend itself against rockets from Gaza, even if they are regarded as terrorist crimes. Furthermore, the reasons are transparent. The pretext for launching the attack is without merit.

There is also a narrower question. Does Israel have peaceful short-term alternatives to the use of force in response to rockets from Gaza. One short-term alternative would be to accept a ceasefire. Sometimes Israel has done so, while instantly violating it. The most recent and currently relevant case is June 2008. The ceasefire called for opening the border crossings to "allow the transfer of all goods that were banned and restricted to go into Gaza." Israel formally agreed, but immediately announced that it would not abide by the agreement and open the borders until Hamas released Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier captured by Hamas in June 2006.

The steady drumbeat of accusations about the capture of Shalit is, again, blatant hypocrisy, even putting aside Israel's long history of kidnapping. In this case, the hypocrisy could not be more glaring. One day before Hamas captured Shalit, Israeli soldiers entered Gaza City and kidnapped two civilians, the Muammar brothers, bringing them to Israel to join the thousands of other prisoners held there, almost 1000 reportedly without charge. Kidnapping civilians is a far more serious crime than capturing a soldier of an attacking army, but it was barely reported in contrast to the furor over Shalit. And all that remains in memory, blocking peace, is the capture of Shalit, another reflection of the difference between humans and two-legged beasts. Shalit should be returned -- in a fair prisoner exchange.

It was after the capture of Shalit that Israel's unrelenting military attack against Gaza passed from merely vicious to truly sadistic. But it is well to recall that even before his capture, Israel had fired more than 7,700 shells at northern Gaza after its September withdrawal, eliciting virtually no comment.

After rejecting the June 2008 ceasefire it had formally accepted, Israel maintained its siege. We may recall that a siege is an act of war. In fact, Israel has always insisted on an even stronger principle: hampering access to the outside world, even well short of a siege, is an act of war, justifying massive violence in response. Interference with Israel's passage through the Straits of Tiran was part of the pretext for Israel's invasion of Egypt (with France and England) in 1956, and for its launching of the June 1967 war. The siege of Gaza is total, not partial, apart from occasional willingness of the occupiers to relax it slightly. And it is vastly more harmful to Gazans than closing the Straits of Tiran was to Israel. Supporters of Israeli doctrines and actions should therefore have no problem justifying rocket attacks on Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip.

Of course, again we run into the nullifying principle: This is us, that is them.

Israel not only maintained the siege after June 2008, but did so with extreme rigor. It even prevented UNRWA from replenishing its stores, "so when the ceasefire broke down, we ran out of food for the 750,000 who depend on us," UNRWA director John Ging informed the BBC.

Despite the Israeli siege, rocketing sharply reduced. The ceasefire broke down on November 4 with an Israeli raid into Gaza, leading to the death of 6 Palestinians, and a retaliatory barrage of rockets (with no injuries). The pretext for the raid was that Israel had detected a tunnel in Gaza that might have been intended for use to capture another Israeli soldier. The pretext is transparently absurd, as a number of commentators have noted. If such a tunnel existed, and reached the border, Israel could easily have barred it right there. But as usual, the ludicrous Israeli pretext was deemed credible.

What was the reason for the Israeli raid? We have no internal evidence about Israeli planning, but we do know that the raid came shortly before scheduled Hamas-Fatah talks in Cairo aimed at "reconciling their differences and creating a single, unified government," British correspondent Rory McCarthy reported. That was to be the first Fatah-Hamas meeting since the June 2007 civil war that left Hamas in control of Gaza, and would have been a significant step towards advancing diplomatic efforts. There is a long history of Israel provocations to deter the threat of diplomacy, some already mentioned. This may have been another one.

The civil war that left Hamas in control of Gaza is commonly described as a Hamas military coup, demonstrating again their evil nature. The real world is a little different. The civil war was incited by the US and Israel, in a crude attempt at a military coup to overturn the free elections that brought Hamas to power. That has been public knowledge at least since April 2008, when David Rose published in Vanity Fair a detailed and documented account of how Bush, Rice, and Deputy National-Security Adviser Elliott Abrams "backed an armed force under Fatah strongman Muhammad Dahlan, touching off a bloody civil war in Gaza and leaving Hamas stronger than ever." The account was recently corroborated once again in the Christian Science Monitor (Jan. 12, 2009) by Norman Olsen, who served for 26 years in the Foreign Service, including four years working in the Gaza Strip and four years at the US Embassy in Tel Aviv, and then moved on to become associate coordinator for counterterrorism at the Department of State. Olson and his son detail the State Department shenanigans intended to ensure that their candidate, Abbas, would win in the January 2006 elections -- in which case it would have been hailed as a triumph of democracy. After the election-fixing failed, they turned to punishment of the Palestinians and arming of a militia run by Fatah strong-man Muhammad Dahlan, but "Dahlan's thugs moved too soon" and a Hamas pre-emptive strike undermined the coup attempt, leading to far harsher US-Israeli measures to punish the disobedient people of Gaza. The Party Line is more acceptable.

After Israel broke the June 2008 ceasefire (such as it was) in November, the siege was tightened further, with even more disastrous consequences for the population. According to Sara Roy, the leading academic specialist on Gaza, "On Nov. 5, Israel sealed all crossing points into Gaza, vastly reducing and at times denying food supplies, medicines, fuel, cooking gas, and parts for water and sanitation systems ... " During November, an average of 4.6 trucks of food per day entered Gaza from Israel compared with an average of 123 trucks per day in October. Spare parts for the repair and maintenance of water-related equipment have been denied entry for over a year. The World Health Organization just reported that half of Gaza's ambulances are now out of order -- and the rest soon became targets for Israeli attack. Gaza's only power station was forced to suspend operation for lack of fuel, and could not be started up again because they needed spare parts, which had been sitting in the Israeli port of Ashdod for 8 months. Shortage of electricity led to a 300% increase in burn cases at Shifaa' hospital in the Gaza Strip, resulting from efforts to light wood fires. Israel barred shipment of Chlorine, so that by mid-December in Gaza City and the north access to water was limited to six hours every three days. The human consequences are not counted among Palestinian victims of Israeli terror.

After the November 4 Israeli attack, both sides escalated violence (all deaths were Palestinian) until the ceasefire formally ended on Dec. 19, and Prime Minister Olmert authorized the full-scale invasion.

A few days earlier Hamas had proposed to return to the original July ceasefire agreement, which Israel had not observed. Historian and former Carter administration high official Robert Pastor passed the proposal to a "senior official" in the IDF, but Israel did not respond. The head of Shin Bet, Israel's internal security agency, was quoted in Israeli sources on December 21 as saying that Hamas is interested in continuing the "calm" with Israel, while its military wing is continuing preparations for conflict.

"There clearly was an alternative to the military approach to stopping the rockets," Pastor said, keeping to the narrow issue of Gaza. There was also a more far-reaching alternative, which is rarely discussed: namely, accepting a political settlement including all of the occupied territories.

Israel's senior diplomatic correspondent Akiva Eldar reports that shortly before Israel launched its full-scale invasion on Saturday Dec. 27, "Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshal announced on the Iz al-Din al-Qassam Web site that he was prepared not only for a `cessation of aggression' - he proposed going back to the arrangement at the Rafah crossing as of 2005, before Hamas won the elections and later took over the region. That arrangement was for the crossing to be managed jointly by Egypt, the European Union, the Palestinian Authority presidency and Hamas," and as noted earlier, called for opening of the crossings to desperately needed supplies.

A standard claim of the more vulgar apologists for Israeli violence is that in the case of the current assault, "as in so many instances in the past half century -- the Lebanon War of 1982, the `Iron Fist' response to the 1988 intifada, the Lebanon War of 2006 -- the Israelis have reacted to intolerable acts of terror with a determination to inflict terrible pain, to teach the enemy a lesson" (New Yorker editor David Remnick). The 2006 invasion can be justified only on the grounds of appalling cynicism, as already discussed. The reference to the vicious response to the 1988 intifada is too depraved even to discuss; a sympathetic interpretation might be that it reflects astonishing ignorance. But Remnick's claim about the 1982 invasion is quite common, a remarkable feat of incessant propaganda, which merits a few reminders.

Uncontroversially, the Israel-Lebanon border was quiet for a year before the Israeli invasion, at least from Lebanon to Israel, north to south. Through the year, the PLO scrupulously observed a US-initiated ceasefire, despite constant Israeli provocations, including bombing with many civilian casualties, presumably intended to elicit some reaction that could be used to justify Israel's carefully planned invasion. The best Israel could achieve was two light symbolic responses. It then invaded with a pretext too absurd to be taken seriously.

The invasion had precisely nothing to do with "intolerable acts of terror," though it did have to do with intolerable acts: of diplomacy. That has never been obscure. Shortly after the US-backed invasion began, Israel's leading academic specialist on the Palestinians, Yehoshua Porath -- no dove -- wrote that Arafat's success in maintaining the ceasefire constituted "a veritable catastrophe in the eyes of the Israeli government," since it opened the way to a political settlement. The government hoped that the PLO would resort to terrorism, undermining the threat that it would be "a legitimate negotiating partner for future political accommodations."

The facts were well-understood in Israel, and not concealed. Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir stated that Israel went to war because there was "a terrible danger... Not so much a military one as a political one," prompting the fine Israeli satirist B. Michael to write that "the lame excuse of a military danger or a danger to the Galilee is dead." We "have removed the political danger" by striking first, in time; now, "Thank God, there is no one to talk to." Historian Benny Morris recognized that the PLO had observed the ceasefire, and explained that "the war's inevitability rested on the PLO as a political threat to Israel and to Israel's hold on the occupied territories." Others have frankly acknowledged the unchallenged facts.

In a front-page think-piece on the latest Gaza invasion, NYT correspondent Steven Lee Meyers writes that "In some ways, the Gaza attacks were reminiscent of the gamble Israel took, and largely lost, in Lebanon in 1982 [when] it invaded to eliminate the threat of Yasir Arafat's forces." Correct, but not in the sense he has in mind. In 1982, as in 2008, it was necessary to eliminate the threat of political settlement.

The hope of Israeli propagandists has been that Western intellectuals and media would buy the tale that Israel reacted to rockets raining on the Galilee, "intolerable acts of terror." And they have not been disappointed.

It is not that Israel does not want peace: everyone wants peace, even Hitler. The question is: on what terms? From its origins, the Zionist movement has understood that to achieve its goals, the best strategy would be to delay political settlement, meanwhile slowly building facts on the ground. Even the occasional agreements, as in 1947, were recognized by the leadership to be temporary steps towards further expansion. The 1982 Lebanon war was a dramatic example of the desperate fear of diplomacy. It was followed by Israeli support for Hamas so as to undermine the secular PLO and its irritating peace initiatives. Another case that should be familiar is Israeli provocations before the 1967 war designed to elicit a Syrian response that could be used as a pretext for violence and takeover of more land -- at least 80% of the incidents, according to Defense Minister Moshe Dayan.

The story goes far back. The official history of the Haganah, the pre-state Jewish military force, describes the assassination of the religious Jewish poet Jacob de Haan in 1924, accused of conspiring with the traditional Jewish community (the Old Yishuv) and the Arab Higher Committee against the new immigrants and their settlement enterprise. And there have been numerous examples since.

The effort to delay political accommodation has always made perfect sense, as do the accompanying lies about how "there is no partner for peace." It is hard to think of another way to take over land where you are not wanted.

Similar reasons underlie Israel's preference for expansion over security. Its violation of the ceasefire on November 4 2008 is one of many recent examples. An Amnesty International chronology reports that the June 2008 ceasefire had "brought enormous improvements in the quality of life in Sderot and other Israeli villages near Gaza, where before the ceasefire residents lived in fear of the next Palestinian rocket strike. However, nearby in the Gaza Strip the Israeli blockade remains in place and the population has so far seen few dividends from the ceasefire." But the gains in security for Israel towns near Gaza were evidently outweighed by the felt need to deter diplomatic moves that might impede West Bank expansion, and to crush any remaining resistance within Palestine.

The preference for expansion over security has been particularly evident since Israel's fateful decision in 1971, backed by Henry Kissinger, to reject the offer of a full peace treaty by President Sadat of Egypt, offering nothing to the Palestinians -- an agreement that the US and Israel were compelled to accept at Camp David eight years later, after a major war that was a near disaster for Israel. A peace treaty with Egypt would have ended any significant security threat, but there was an unacceptable quid pro quo: Israel would have had to abandon its extensive settlement programs in the northeastern Sinai. Security was a lower priority than expansion, as it still is. Substantial evidence for this basic conclusion is provided in a magisterial study of Israel's security and foreign policy by Zeev Maoz, Defending the Holy Land.

Today, Israel could have security, normalization of relations, and integration into the region. But it very clearly prefers illegal expansion, conflict, and repeated exercise of violence, actions that are not only criminal, murderous and destructive but are also eroding its own long-term security. US military and Middle East specialist Andrew Cordesman writes that while Israel military force can surely crush defenseless Gaza, "neither Israel nor the US can gain from a war that produces [a bitter] reaction from one of the wisest and most moderate voices in the Arab world, Prince Turki al-Faisal of Saudi Arabia, who said on January 6 that `The Bush administration has left [Obama] a disgusting legacy and a reckless position towards the massacres and bloodshed of innocents in Gaza...Enough is enough, today we are all Palestinians and we seek martyrdom for God and for Palestine, following those who died in Gaza'."

One of the wisest voices in Israel, Uri Avnery, writes that after an Israeli military victory, "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."

There is good reason to believe that he is right. Israel is deliberately turning itself into perhaps the most hated country in the world, and is also losing the allegiance of the population of the West, including younger American Jews, who are unlikely to tolerate its persistent shocking crimes for long. Decades ago, I wrote that those who call themselves "supporters of Israel" are in reality supporters of its moral degeneration and probable ultimate destruction. Regrettably, that judgment looks more and more plausible.

Meanwhile we are quietly observing a rare event in history, what the late Israeli sociologist Baruch Kimmerling called "politicide," the murder of a nation -- at our hands.
(c) 2008 Noam Chomsky is emeritus professor of linguistics and philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is co-author, with Gilbert Achcar, of Perilous Power: The Middle East & U.S. Foreign Policy: Dialogues on Terror, Democracy, War, and Justice. His most recent book is Hegemony or Survival Americas Quest for Global Dominance. His writings on linguistics and politics have just been collected in The Essential Noam Chomsky, edited by Anthony Arnove, from the New Press.





Black Flag
By Uri Avnery

A SPANISH JUDGE has instituted a judicial inquiry against seven Israeli political and military personalities on suspicion of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The case: the 2002 dropping of a one ton bomb on the home of Hamas leader Salah Shehade. Apart from the intended victim, 14 people, most of them children, were killed.

For those who have forgotten: the then commander of the Israeli Air Force, Dan Halutz, was asked at the time what he feels when he drops a bomb on a residential building. His unforgettable answer: "A slight bump to the wing." When we in Gush Shalom accused him of a war crime, he demanded that we be put on trial for high treason. He was joined by the Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, who accused us of wanting to "turn over Israeli army officers to the enemy." The Attorney General notified us officially that he did not intend to open an investigation against those responsible for the bombing.

I should be happy, therefore, that at long last somebody is ready to put that action to a judicial test (even if he seems to have been thwarted by political pressure.) But I am sorry that this has happened in Spain, not in Israel.

ISRAELI TV VIEWERS have lately been exposed to a bizarre sight: army officers appearing with their faces hidden, as usual for criminals when the court prohibits their identification. Pedophiles, for example, or attackers of old women.

On the orders of the military censors, this applies to all officers, from battalion commanders down, who have been involved in the Gaza war. Since the faces of brigade commanders and above are generally known, the order does not apply to them.

Immediately after the cease-fire, the Minister of Defense, Ehud Barak, promoted a special law that would give unlimited backing by the state to all officers and soldiers who took part in the Gaza war and who might be accused abroad of war crimes. This seems to confirm the Hebrew adage: "On the head of the thief, the hat is burning."

I DO NOT object to trials abroad. The main thing is that war criminals, like pirates, should be brought to justice. It is not so important where they are caught. (This rule was applied by the State of Israel when it abducted Adolf Eichmann in Argentina and hanged him in Israel for heinous crimes committed outside the territory of Israel and, indeed, before the state even existed.)

But as an Israeli patriot, I would prefer suspected Israeli war criminals to be put on trial in Israel. That is necessary for the country, for all decent officers and soldiers of the Israeli army, for the education of future generations of citizens and soldiers.

There is no need to rely on international law alone. There are Israeli laws against war crimes. Enough to mention the immortal phrase coined by Justice Binyamin Halevy, serving as a military judge, in the trial of the border policemen who were responsible for the 1956 massacre in Kafr Kassem, when dozens of children, women and men were mown down for violating a curfew which they did not even know about.

The judge announced that even in wartime, there are orders over which flies "the black flag of illegality." These are orders which are "manifestly" illegal - that is to say, orders which every normal person can tell are illegal, without having to consult a lawyer.

War criminals dishonor the army whose uniform they wear - whether they are generals or common soldiers. As a combat soldier on the day the Israeli Defense Army was officially created, I am ashamed of them and demand that they be cast out and be put on trial in Israel.

My list of suspects includes politicians, soldiers, rabbis and lawyers.

THERE IS not the slightest doubt that in the Gaza war, crimes were committed. The question is to what extent and by whom.

Example: the soldiers call on the residents of a house to leave it. A woman and her four children come out, waving white handkerchiefs. It is absolutely clear that they are not armed fighters. A soldier in a near-by tank stands up, points his rifle and shoots them dead at short range. According to testimonies that seem to be beyond doubt, this happened more than once.

Another example: the shelling of the United Nations school full of refugees, from which there was no shooting - as admitted by the army, after the original pretexts were disproved.

These are "simple" cases. But the spectrum of cases is far wider. A serious judicial investigation has to start right from the top: the politicians and senior officers who decided on the war and confirmed its plans must be investigated about their decisions. In Nuremberg it was laid down that the starting of a war of aggression is a crime.

An objective investigation has to find out whether the decision to start the war was justified, or if there existed another way of stopping the launching of rockets against Israeli territory. Without doubt, no country can or should tolerate the bombing of its towns and villages from beyond the border. But could this be prevented by talking with the Gaza authorities? Was our government's decision to boycott Hamas, the winner of the democratic Palestinian elections, the real cause of this war? Did the imposition of the blockade on a million and a half Gaza Strip inhabitants contribute to the launching of the Qassams? In brief: were the alternatives considered before it was decided to start a deadly war?

The war plan included a massive attack on the civilian population of the Strip. The real aims of a war can be understood less from the official declarations of its initiators, than from their actions. If in this war some 1300 men, women and children were killed, the great majority of whom were not fighters; if about 5000 people were injured, most of them children; if some 2500 homes were partly or wholly destroyed; if the infrastructure of life was totally demolished - all this clearly could not have happened accidentally. It must have been a part of the war plan.

The things said during the war by politicians and officers make it clear that the plan had at least two aims, which might be considered war crimes: (1) To cause widespread killing and destruction, in order to "fix a price tag." "to burn into their consciousness," "to reinforce deterrence," and most of all - to get the population to rise up against Hamas and overthrow their government. Clearly this affects mainly the civilian population. (2) To avoid casualties to our army at (literally) any price by destroying any building and killing any human being in the area into which our troops were about to move, including destroying homes over the heads of their inhabitants, preventing medical teams from reaching the victims, killing people indiscriminately. In certain cases, inhabitants were warned that they must flee, but this was mainly an alibi-action: there was nowhere to flee to, and often fire was opened on people trying to escape.

An independent court will have to decide whether such a war-plan is in accordance with national and international law, or whether it was ab initio a crime against humanity and a war-crime.

This was a war of a regular army with huge capabilities against a guerrilla force. In such a war, too, not everything is permissible. Arguments like "The Hamas terrorists were hiding within the civilian population" and "They used the population as human shields" may be effective as propaganda but are irrelevant: that is true for every guerrilla war. It must be taken into account when a decision to start such a war is being considered.

In a democratic state, the military takes its orders from the political establishment. Good. But that does not include "manifestly" illegal orders, over which the black flag of illegality is waving. Since the Nuremberg trials, there is no more room for the excuse that "I was only obeying orders."

Therefore, the personal responsibility of all involved - from the Chief of Staff, the Front Commander and the Division Commander right down to the last soldier - must be examined. From the statements of soldiers one must deduce that many believed that their job was "to kill as many Arabs as possible." Meaning: no distinction between fighters and non-fighters. That is a completely illegal order, whether given explicitly or by a wink and a nudge. The soldiers understood this to be "the spirit of the commander."

AMONG THOSE suspected of war crimes, the rabbis have a place of honor.

Those who incite to war crimes and call upon soldiers, directly or indirectly, to commit war crimes may be guilty of a war crime themselves.

When one speaks of "rabbis," one thinks of old men with long white beards and big hats, who give tongue to venerable wisdom. But the rabbis who accompanied the troops are a very different species.

In the last decades, the state-financed religious educational system has churned out "rabbis" who are more like medieval Christian priests than the Jewish sages of Poland or Morocco. This system indoctrinates its pupils with a violent tribal cult, totally ethnocentric, which sees in the whole of world history nothing but an endless story of Jewish victimhood. This is a religion of a Chosen People, indifferent to others, a religion without compassion for anyone who is not Jewish, which glorifies the God-decreed genocide described in the Biblical book of Joshua.

The products of this education are now the "rabbis" who instruct the religious youths. With their encouragement, a systematic effort has been made to take over the Israeli army from within. Kippa-wearing officers have replaced the Kibbutzniks, who not so long ago were dominant in the army. Many of the lower and middle-ranking officers now belong to this group.

The most outstanding example is the "Chief Army Rabbi," Colonel Avichai Ronsky, who has declared that his job is to reinforce the "fighting spirit" of the soldiers. He is a man of the extreme right, not far from the spirit of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, whose party was outlawed in Israel for its fascist ideology. Under the auspices of the army rabbinate, religious-fascist brochures of the ultra-right "rabbis" were distributed to the soldiers.

This material includes political incitement, such as the statement that the Jewish religion prohibits "giving up even one millimeter of Eretz Israel," that the Palestinians, like the Biblical Philistines (from whom the name Palestine derives), are a foreign people who invaded the country, and that any compromise (such as indicated in the official government program) is a mortal sin. The distribution of political propaganda violates, of course, army law.

The rabbis openly called upon the soldiers to be cruel and merciless towards the Arabs. To treat them mercifully, they stated, is a "terrible, awful immorality." When such material is distributed to religious soldiers going into war, it is easy to see why things happened the way they did.

THE PLANNERS of this war knew that the shadow of war crimes was hovering over the planned operation. Witness: the Attorney General (whose official title is "Legal Advisor to the Government") was a partner to the planning. This week the Chief Army Attorney, Colonel Avichai Mandelblut, disclosed that his officers were attached throughout the war to all the commanders, from the Chief of Staff down to the Division Commander.

All this together leads to the inescapable conclusion that the legal advisors bear direct responsibility for the decisions taken and implemented, from the massacre of the civilian police recruits at their graduating ceremony to the shelling of the UN installations. Every attorney who was a partner to the deliberations before an order was given is responsible for its consequences, unless he can prove that he objected to it.

The Chief Army Attorney, who is supposed to give the army professional and objective advice, speaks about >I>"the monstrous enemy" and tries to justify the actions of the army by saying that it was fighting against "an unbridled enemy, who declared that he 'loves death' and finds shelter behind the backs of women and children." Such language is, perhaps, pardonable in a pep-talk of a war-drunk combat commander, like the battalion chief who ordered his soldiers to commit suicide rather than be captured, but totally unacceptable when it comes from the chief legal officer of the army.

WE MUST pursue all the legal processes in Israel and call for an independent investigation and the indictment of suspected perpetrators. We must demand this even if the chances of it happening are slim indeed.

If these efforts fail, nobody will be able to object to trials abroad, either in an international court or in the courts of those nations that respect human rights and international law.

Until then, the black flag will still be waving.
(c) 2009 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom






Left Behind
By Victoria Stewart

No, I'm not talking about Tim LeHaye's wildly successful book empire although lessons could be taken from the evangelical LeHaye. I'm talking about, you know, the left.

It's no secret that I've been annoyed-to say the least-with the self proclaimed American political left for, oh, several decades. It's a kind of persistent, mosquito-like buzz that sets me on edge whenever I think about politics. Sometimes, however, when I encounter a particularly unctuous, dread and invariably white leftist spouting more drivel about the failure of the American public and lamenting the lack of action by "the people" I get angry.

Being angry makes me feel bad. I really, really don't enjoy feeling bad. Girls, you know, just want to have fun.

Because my thoughts, questions, ideas and beliefs are the result of testing what I have been taught against what I experience, I have found the ability to exchange an understanding of ideas to be the most transformative of processes. I owe an enormous debt to Sonia Johnson, one of the most brilliant and insightful political writers of the 20th century, who suggested in her revolutionary book, Wildfire, that everything we have been taught is either a lie or wrong. Johnson was not suggesting that we toss aside rational thought but rather that we examine what we have been taught about the human experience and the nature of existence and why we have been taught that set of beliefs.

The United States, after World War II, benefited from a widespread prosperity, the greatest expansion of wealth in modern history. And that prosperity made it possible for millions to attend college. Those of us who were born in the years after WWII had the rarest of American experiences, a decent education. In part, this was due to teaching traditions that were still based in the skills (reading, math, history) that taught critical thinking and additionally, it was produced by the very public discoveries, applications and innovations in hard sciences which provided irrefutable evidence that some of our most cherished ideas about what it meant to be alive were wrong. After the use of the atomic bomb, it was very difficult to deny the laws of matter and energy. Our most basic understanding of our physical existence should have dramatically changed-especially for those who consider themselves to be the brightest and the best. We-and I mean, mostly, those of us between the ages of 50 and 60-had a small window through which we could learn to comprehend the evidentiary science of whom we are within shared experiential and historical parameters. We had the opportunity to shape our future with an expanded and conscious understanding of life.

It is those of us who came of age during the social justice and peace movements of the 60's and 70's, those of us who benefited from a national wealth, a comprehensive public education system and a fledging scientific community that was not yet wholly owned by corporations, who abandoned reason, logic and personal responsibility for personal gain. In the language of those days, we sold out.

Not everyone, of course, but certainly a majority of my generation ran full tilt into the great abyss of conformity. We didn't think. We shopped.

Our country does not find itself in these dire times just because George W. Bush seized power. The United States is in its current condition due to more than thirty years of neglect, rationalization and self-absorption by its middle and upper-middle classes and the stark failure of an educations system, specifically colleges and universities, to adapt an integrative method for teaching sciences and social studies. We had wealth. We were educated. We had unheard of access to ideas and information. But masses of us abandoned intellectual pursuits and suppressed the lessons of personal experience. We let our schools deteriorate and weren't concerned that our children couldn't reason. We are easily into a second generation of un- and under- educated adults. Even those who attended our most prestigious and selective schools cannot think. We see proof of that every day, in every segment of industry and government.

And we most certainly see it in the darlings of the left.

The past eight years have given us a new circle of media and internet sponsored leftists who like to trot out their degrees and experiences and, keeping themselves apart and above the great unwashed, hold forth upon the state of the country and the world. Secure in their intellectual, educational and moral superiority, these leaders of the left are as removed from the world in which most of us live as the politicians in Washington.

They have no one to blame but themselves. An unthinking assumption of privilege and an appalling condescension are evident in the criticisms made of the American people. Where were these social critics, these champions of freedom when our education system was being gutted? Why were these educated men and women silent when history, social studies, geography and freedom of thought were stripped from our schools? Where were these outraged voices as millions of Americans were left without jobs, healthcare or hope during the Clinton years? And why do they think they can come in now, talk down to those who kept the faith during the lost years and demand allegiance from a population they hold in such obvious contempt?

The left has also missed the mark when it comes to religion. The human need to understand who and where we are is no less an imperative than procreation. The scientific advances of the past 60 years could have been a catalyst for a greater understanding of that imperative. Discoveries in chemistry, physics and biology have broadened the understanding of life and human existence. We know emphatically that there is more to life than what is visible to the naked eye. Rather than embrace the advances in science and attempt to understand human experience that has long been relegated to the control and manipulation of organized religion, the left has chosen to ridicule those elements of human experience. Embroiled in a pissing contest between atheists and theists, the educated and articulate distanced themselves even farther from the very people whose support they sought. Confusing the tyranny of organized religion with the human need to recognize and validate the complexity of life, the left has alienated the majority of Americans.

Hell, the left has alienated me.

We are at a crucial, pivotal time in history. We may, in fact, be approaching the end times. Science and religion do agree on that. We need to draw upon the whole of human experience and history to come to a resolution of our future. It's time to cowgirl the f*ck up, think for yourself and trust your experiences more than the advice of experts. Oh, and dance in the streets. It's time.
(c) 2009 Victoria Stewart is the editor of Issues & Alibis magazine.







Is Geithner Really The Best There Is?

How ironic that the U.S. Senate confirmed Timothy Geithner to be our new treasury secretary only a week after President Obama, in his inaugural address, called on the American people to embrace a new era of personal responsibility.

Geithner, you see, flunked his own test of responsibility when he failed to pay some $34,000 in federal taxes he owed, which is ironic because he will now oversee the IRS and be America's top tax enforcement officer.

However, the White House and most senators insisted that Geithner's little tax boo boo had been an innocent oversight. More importantly, they said, he's got the expertise and experience America must have to get us through these treacherous financial times. He's been a senior official at treasury and the IMF, his defenders noted, and he headed the New York federal reserve bank for the past five years, overseeing Wall Street. "He isn't merely the best choice," gushed one Republican senator, "he's the only choice."

The only one? Really? In all of America, he's it?

True, Geithner is experienced - but at doing what? Peek into his years at the New York Fed, and you'll find that he was a practitioner of the loosey-goosey bank deregulation ideology that led to the financial collapse that's presently crushing our economy. And when the banks fell last year, he was a prime pusher of the Wall Street bailout scam, using hundreds of billions of our tax dollars to rescue the banking hotshots and the big investors who caused the crash.

The real reason that Geithner's tax violations were overlooked is, as one senator said admiringly: "He fits in." Wall Street wanted him, and they got him.

In all of America, couldn't Obama have found one person who "fits in" with consumers, workers, and taxpayers - rather than the thieves on Wall Street?
(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.







Obama Is A Two-Faced Liar. Aw-RIGHT!
By Greg Palast

Republicans are right. President Barack Obama treated them like dirt, didn't give a damn what they thought about his stimulus package, loaded it with a bunch of programs that will last for years and will never leave the budget, is giving away money disguised as "tax refunds," and is sneaking in huge changes in policy, from schools to health care, using the pretext of an economic emergency.

Way to go, Mr. O! Mr. Down-and-Dirty Chicago pol. Street-fightin' man. Covering over his break-your-face power play with a "we're all post-partisan friends" BS.

And it's about time.

Frankly, I was worried about this guy. Obama's appointing Clinton-droids to the Cabinet, bloated incompetents like Larry Summers as "Economics Czar," made me fear for my country, that we'd gotten another Democrat who wished he were a Republican.

Then came Obama's money bomb. The House bill included $125 billion for schools (TRIPLING federal spending on education), expanding insurance coverage to the unemployed, making the most progressive change in the tax code in four decades by creating a $500 credit against social security payroll deductions, and so on.

It's as if Obama dug up Ronald Reagan's carcass and put a stake through The Gipper's anti-government heart. Aw-RIGHT!

About the only concession Obama threw to the right-wing trogs was to remove the subsidy for condoms, leaving hooker-happy GOP Senators, like David Vitter, to pay for their own protection. S'OK with me.

And here's the proof that Bam is The Man: Not one single Republican congressman voted for the bill. And that means that Obama didn't compromise, the way Clinton and Carter would have, to win the love of these condom-less jerks.

And we didn't need'm. Nyah! Nyah! Nyah!

Now I understand Obama's weird moves: dinner with those creepy conservative columnists, earnest meetings at the White House with the Republican leaders, a dramatic begging foray into Senate offices. Just as the Republicans say, it was all a fraud. Obama was pure Chicago, Boss Daley in a slim skin, putting his arms around his enemies, pretending to listen and care and compromise, then slowly, quietly, slipping in the knife. All while the media praises Obama's "post-partisanship." Heh heh heh.

Love it. Now we know why Obama picked that vindictive little viper Rahm Emanuel as staff chief: everyone visiting the Oval office will be greeted by the Windy City hit man who would hack up your grandma if you mess with the Godfather-in-Chief.

I don't know about you, but THIS is the change I've been waiting for.

Will it last? We'll see if Obama caves in to more tax cuts to investment bankers. We'll see if he stops the sub-prime scum-bags from foreclosing on frightened families. We'll see if he stands up to the whining, gormless generals who don't know how to get our troops out of Iraq. (In SHIPS, you doofusses!)

Look, don't get your hopes up. But it may turn out the new President's ... a Democrat!
(c) 2009 Greg Palast is a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow for Investigative Reporting at the Nation Institute, New York. Read the rest of this story by picking up his New York Times bestseller, Armed Madhouse Join Palast's Network on MySpace, on FaceBook or on YouTube.







It's Not Going To Be OK
By Chris Hedges

The daily bleeding of thousands of jobs will soon turn our economic crisis into a political crisis. The street protests, strikes and riots that have rattled France, Turkey, Greece, Ukraine, Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria and Iceland will descend on us. It is only a matter of time. And not much time. When things start to go sour, when Barack Obama is exposed as a mortal waving a sword at a tidal wave, the United States could plunge into a long period of precarious social instability.

At no period in American history has our democracy been in such peril or has the possibility of totalitarianism been as real. Our way of life is over. Our profligate consumption is finished. Our children will never have the standard of living we had. And poverty and despair will sweep across the landscape like a plague. This is the bleak future. There is nothing President Obama can do to stop it. It has been decades in the making. It cannot be undone with a trillion or two trillion dollars in bailout money. Our empire is dying. Our economy has collapsed.

How will we cope with our decline? Will we cling to the absurd dreams of a superpower and a glorious tomorrow or will we responsibly face our stark new limitations? Will we heed those who are sober and rational, those who speak of a new simplicity and humility, or will we follow the demagogues and charlatans who rise up out of the slime in moments of crisis to offer fantastic visions? Will we radically transform our system to one that protects the ordinary citizen and fosters the common good, that defies the corporate state, or will we employ the brutality and technology of our internal security and surveillance apparatus to crush all dissent? We won't have to wait long to find out.

There are a few isolated individuals who saw it coming. The political philosophers Sheldon S. Wolin, John Ralston Saul and Andrew Bacevich, as well as writers such as Noam Chomsky, Chalmers Johnson, David Korten and Naomi Klein, along with activists such as Bill McKibben and Ralph Nader, rang the alarm bells. They were largely ignored or ridiculed. Our corporate media and corporate universities proved, when we needed them most, intellectually and morally useless.

Wolin, who taught political philosophy at the University of California in Berkeley and at Princeton, in his book "Democracy Incorporated" uses the phrase inverted totalitarianism to describe our system of power. Inverted totalitarianism, unlike classical totalitarianism, does not revolve around a demagogue or charismatic leader. It finds its expression in the anonymity of the corporate state. It purports to cherish democracy, patriotism and the Constitution while cynically manipulating internal levers to subvert and thwart democratic institutions. Political candidates are elected in popular votes by citizens, but they must raise staggering amounts of corporate funds to compete. They are beholden to armies of corporate lobbyists in Washington or state capitals who write the legislation. A corporate media controls nearly everything we read, watch or hear and imposes a bland uniformity of opinion or diverts us with trivia and celebrity gossip. In classical totalitarian regimes, such as Nazi fascism or Soviet communism, economics was subordinate to politics. "Under inverted totalitarianism the reverse is true," Wolin writes. "Economics dominates politics-and with that domination comes different forms of ruthlessness."

I reached Wolin, 86, by phone at his home about 25 miles north of San Francisco. He was a bombardier in the South Pacific during World War II and went to Harvard after the war to get his doctorate. Wolin has written classics such as "Politics and Vision" and "Tocqueville Between Two Worlds." His newest book is one of the most important and prescient critiques to date of the American political system. He is also the author of a series of remarkable essays on Augustine of Hippo, Richard Hooker, David Hume, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Max Weber, Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Marx and John Dewey. His voice, however, has faded from public awareness because, as he told me, "it is harder and harder for people like me to get a public hearing." He said that publications, such as The New York Review of Books, which often published his work a couple of decades ago, lost interest in his critiques of American capitalism, his warnings about the subversion of democratic institutions and the emergence of the corporate state. He does not hold out much hope for Obama.

"The basic systems are going to stay in place; they are too powerful to be challenged," Wolin told me when I asked him about the new Obama administration. "This is shown by the financial bailout. It does not bother with the structure at all. I don't think Obama can take on the kind of military establishment we have developed. This is not to say that I do not admire him. He is probably the most intelligent president we have had in decades. I think he is well meaning, but he inherits a system of constraints that make it very difficult to take on these major power configurations. I do not think he has the appetite for it in any ideological sense. The corporate structure is not going to be challenged. There has not been a word from him that would suggest an attempt to rethink the American imperium."

Wolin argues that a failure to dismantle our vast and overextended imperial projects, coupled with the economic collapse, is likely to result in inverted totalitarianism. He said that without "radical and drastic remedies" the response to mounting discontent and social unrest will probably lead to greater state control and repression. There will be, he warned, a huge "expansion of government power."

"Our political culture has remained unhelpful in fostering a democratic consciousness," he said. "The political system and its operatives will not be constrained by popular discontent or uprisings."

Wolin writes that in inverted totalitarianism consumer goods and a comfortable standard of living, along with a vast entertainment industry that provides spectacles and diversions, keep the citizenry politically passive. I asked if the economic collapse and the steady decline in our standard of living might not, in fact, trigger classical totalitarianism. Could widespread frustration and poverty lead the working and middle classes to place their faith in demagogues, especially those from the Christian right?

"I think that's perfectly possible," he answered. "That was the experience of the 1930s. There wasn't just FDR. There was Huey Long and Father Coughlin. There were even more extreme movements including the Klan. The extent to which those forces can be fed by the downturn and bleakness is a very real danger. It could become classical totalitarianism."

He said the widespread political passivity is dangerous. It is often exploited by demagogues who pose as saviors and offer dreams of glory and salvation. He warned that "the apoliticalness, even anti-politicalness, will be very powerful elements in taking us towards a radically dictatorial direction. It testifies to how thin the commitment to democracy is in the present circumstances. Democracy is not ascendant. It is not dominant. It is beleaguered. The extent to which young people have been drawn away from public concerns and given this extraordinary range of diversions makes it very likely they could then rally to a demagogue."

Wolin lamented that the corporate state has successfully blocked any real debate about alternative forms of power. Corporations determine who gets heard and who does not, he said. And those who critique corporate power are given no place in the national dialogue.

"In the 1930s there were all kinds of alternative understandings, from socialism to more extensive governmental involvement," he said. "There was a range of different approaches. But what I am struck by now is the narrow range within which palliatives are being modeled. We are supposed to work with the financial system. So the people who helped create this system are put in charge of the solution. There has to be some major effort to think outside the box."

"The puzzle to me is the lack of social unrest," Wolin said when I asked why we have not yet seen rioting or protests. He said he worried that popular protests will be dismissed and ignored by the corporate media. This, he said, is what happened when tens of thousands protested the war in Iraq. This will permit the state to ruthlessly suppress local protests, as happened during the Democratic and Republic conventions. Anti-war protests in the 1960s gained momentum from their ability to spread across the country, he noted. This, he said, may not happen this time. "The ways they can isolate protests and prevent it from [becoming] a contagion are formidable," he said.

"My greatest fear is that the Obama administration will achieve relatively little in terms of structural change," he added. "They may at best keep the system going. But there is a growing pessimism. Every day we hear how much longer the recession will continue. They are already talking about beyond next year. The economic difficulties are more profound than we had guessed and because of globalization more difficult to deal with. I wish the political establishment, the parties and leadership, would become more aware of the depths of the problem. They can't keep throwing money at this. They have to begin structural changes that involve a very different approach from a market economy. I don't think this will happen."

"I keep asking why and how and when this country became so conservative," he went on. "This country once prided itself on its experimentation and flexibility. It has become rigid. It is probably the most conservative of all the advanced countries."

The American left, he said, has crumbled. It sold out to a bankrupt Democratic Party, abandoned the working class and has no ability to organize. Unions are a spent force. The universities are mills for corporate employees. The press churns out info-entertainment or fatuous pundits. The left, he said, no longer has the capacity to be a counterweight to the corporate state. He said that if an extreme right gains momentum there will probably be very little organized resistance.

"The left is amorphous," he said. "I despair over the left. Left parties may be small in number in Europe but they are a coherent organization that keeps going. Here, except for Nader's efforts, we don't have that. We have a few voices here, a magazine there, and that's about it. It goes nowhere."
(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.







Health Care Now
By Paul Krugman

The whole world is in recession. But the United States is the only wealthy country in which the economic catastrophe will also be a health care catastrophe - in which millions of people will lose their health insurance along with their jobs, and therefore lose access to essential care.

Which raises a question: Why has the Obama administration been silent, at least so far, about one of President Obama's key promises during last year's campaign - the promise of guaranteed health care for all Americans?

Let's talk about the magnitude of the looming health care disaster.

Just about all economic forecasts, including those of the Obama administration's own economists, say that we're in for a prolonged period of very high unemployment. And high unemployment means a sharp rise in the number of Americans without health insurance.

After the economy slumped at the beginning of this decade, five million people joined the ranks of the uninsured - and that was with the unemployment rate peaking at only 6.3 percent. This time the Obama administration says that even with its stimulus plan, unemployment will reach 8 percent, and that it will stay above 6 percent until 2012. Many independent forecasts are even more pessimistic.

Why, then, aren't we hearing more about ensuring health care access?

Now, it's possible that those of us who care about this issue are reading too much into the administration's silence. But let me address three arguments that I suspect Mr. Obama is hearing against moving on health care, and explain why they're wrong.

First, some people are arguing that a major expansion of health care access would just be too expensive right now, given the vast sums we're about to spend trying to rescue the economy.

But research sponsored by the Commonwealth Fund shows that achieving universal coverage with a plan similar to Mr. Obama's campaign proposals would add "only" about $104 billion to federal spending in 2010 - not a small sum, of course, but not large compared with, say, the tax cuts in the Obama stimulus plan.

It's true that the cost of universal health care will be a continuing expense, reaching far into the future. But that has always been true, and Mr. Obama has always claimed that his health care plan was affordable. The temporary expenses of his stimulus plan shouldn't change that calculation.

Second, some people in Mr. Obama's circle may be arguing that health care reform isn't a priority right now, in the face of economic crisis.

But helping families purchase health insurance as part of a universal coverage plan would be at least as effective a way of boosting the economy as the tax breaks that make up roughly a third of the stimulus plan - and it would have the added benefit of directly helping families get through the crisis, ending one of the major sources of Americans' current anxiety.

Finally - and this is, I suspect, the real reason for the administration's health care silence - there's the political argument that this is a bad time to be pushing fundamental health care reform, because the nation's attention is focused on the economic crisis. But if history is any guide, this argument is precisely wrong.

Don't take my word for it. Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, has declared that "you never want a serious crisis to go to waste." Indeed. F.D.R. was able to enact Social Security in part because the Great Depression highlighted the need for a stronger social safety net. And the current crisis presents a real opportunity to fix the gaping holes that remain in that safety net, especially with regard to health care.

And Mr. Obama really, really doesn't want to repeat the mistakes of Bill Clinton, whose health care push failed politically partly because he moved too slowly: by the time his administration was ready to submit legislation, the economy was recovering from recession and the sense of urgency was fading.

One more thing. There's a populist rage building in this country, as Americans see bankers getting huge bailouts while ordinary citizens suffer.

I agree with administration officials who argue that these financial bailouts are necessary (though I have problems with the specifics). But I also agree with Barney Frank, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, who argues that - as a matter of political necessity as well as social justice - aid to bankers has to be linked to a strengthening of the social safety net, so that Americans can see that the government is ready to help everyone, not just the rich and powerful.

The bottom line, then, is that this is no time to let campaign promises of guaranteed health care be quietly forgotten. It is, instead, a time to put the push for universal care front and center. Health care now!
(c) 2009 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times




The French Gestapo arrest some liberals



Paris When It Sizzles
The French Say No to Fat-Cat Bailouts
By Chris Floyd

You have to admire the French. The ordinary people there know how to stick up for themselves - instead of meekly bowing down and accepting whatever bitter gruel the elite tries to cram down their throats. And they don't just write a few angry letters (or blog posts!), or send checks to some worthy progressive organization to organize a few mildly admonishing ads or press releases on their behalf. Hell no, they take to the streets, by the millions, they shut things down, they make some noise, they put their time, their jobs, and their bodies on the line.

Yesterday saw another remarkable display of this national trait, as an astonishingly broad spectrum of the French citizenry surged through the streets of Paris to express their outrage at the government's response to the economic crisis. This response has been the usual doling out of billions in public money for the fat cats who caused the crisis, coupled with increasing demands for "sacrifice" from the hoi polloi: less pay, longer hours, fewer benefits, a bleaker life for you and your children while the elite party on.

But on Thursday, an estimated 2.5 million people - blue-collar workers and white-collar professionals, educators and students, doctors and train drivers, native-born and immigrants - came out to tell the government: "We are not going to pay for the greed and corruption of the elite! Find another way!" The contrast to the stunned, herd-like reaction of the American and British publics to their governments' gorging of corrupt oligarchs with no-strings largess could not be more striking.

II.

The outpouring on Thursday was a culmination of discontent toward the government of President Nicolas Sarkozy - known as "the American" not only for his amped-up PR style (and celebrity wife) but even more for his zeal to impose the harsh work regimen and vast social and economic inequalities of the Anglo-American model on France. He was demanding the "sacrifices" noted above long before the economic crisis began, while also constructing an ever-more power-friendly "national security state" along Anglo-American lines. As Agnes Poirier notes in the Guardian:

Sarkozy has spent his 20 months in power systematically weakening the forces that maintain the balance of power in a democracy. First, parliament: a reform being fought by the opposition aims to reduce drastically the amount of time spent debating bills, so limiting the ability of the opposition to question ministers and propose amendments - all in the name of efficiency. Second, the legal system: among Sarkozy's reforms are harsher sentences, life terms for certain mentally ill criminals and sex offenders, and the abolition of the "investigative magistrate" - the cornerstone of the French legal system since 1811. Third, education: tens of thousands of teachers have lost their jobs while 5,000 "truant hunters" have been created - less teaching, more policing. Fourth, information: the president has in effect created a state-appointed and state-controlled media network, while helping media baron friends carve up advertising revenues.

Sarkozy's government has also been whipping up fears of vast, secret, anarchist cabals, plotting violence and destruction. He has used the same kind of draconian "anti-terrorist" laws that have been adopted by almost all the leading "democracies" of the West to crack down on anyone who opposes the global corporatist-militarist ethos, as this Guardian story from earlier this month illustrates:

High on a bleak mountain plateau in central France, the tiny village of Tarnac is fiercely proud of its grocer's shop. A smiling lady with a perm stands behind the old-fashioned till amid shelves stocked with everything from fly-swats and fairy lights to socks and soya milk.... Posters advertise tea dances and cinema club screenings of Billy the Kid.

But the French government claims that Tarnac and its small shop are the headquarters of a dangerous cell of anarchist terrorists plotting to overthrow the state. [The] balaclava-clad police swooping to arrest suspects in Tarnac were compared by bewildered villagers to a strange, rural action movie. The government hinted that locals were too gormless to have noticed the terrorist activity in their midst. But after weeks of controversy, supporters are rising up to defend the young people of the village.

Known as the Tarnac Nine, four men and five women aged 22 to 34 are being investigated over far-left terrorism following dawn raids by police in November that targeted several addresses, including a farm with a few goats, chickens and vegetables. Those arrested include a Swiss sitcom actor, a distinguished clarinettist, a student nurse and Benjamin Rosoux, an Edinburgh University graduate who runs the grocer's shop and its adjoining bar-restaurant.

The alleged ringleader, Julien Coupat, 34, is still being held in prison despite a judge's ruling that he be released. A former business and sociology student from an affluent Parisian suburb, Coupat moved to Tarnac in search of a non-consumerist lifestyle, saying he wanted to live frugally. The poor village of 350 people is home to a growing number of young people who have escaped the city for a simple life and sense of community. Together, the newcomers ran the shop, a mobile delivery service, the restaurant, a cinema club and an informal library.

It seems that Couptat and his girlfriend -- an archaeologist -- were suspected of involvement in a series of minor vandalism incidents on France's rail lines. And how did the police tie the nefarious pair to these, er, minor incidents?

Coupat and his girlfriend had allegedly been seen by police near a train line that was later vandalised.

Ah, but there may have been ever graver sins on Coupat's hands, activities far more germane to his dramatic arrest and extra-judicial incarceration:

The couple had come to the attention of the FBI months earlier when they took part in a protest outside an army recruitment centre in New York. They and acquaintances are said to have often travelled to protests and demonstrations such as a recent protest at a European summit on immigration at Vichy.

They had trod on the sacred Homeland soil -- to protest the righteous expansion of God's own war machine! But wait, there's even more!

French police say Coupat was the author of an anonymous tract against capitalism and modern society, The Coming Insurrection. The Paris prosecutor said the group was intent on armed struggle and used the farm in Tarnac as a "meeting point and place of indoctrination" for "violent action". But France's Human Rights League, opposition politicians and intellectuals criticised the arrests as an attack on civil liberties and an abuse of France's draconian anti-terrorist laws. Defence lawyers say there is no evidence for terrorist charges.

But what do the locals say about this alleged author of anonymous pamphlets who was allegedly once seen somewhere near a railway line that was vandalized at some point after he was gone?

Chopping wood outside his house, Andr╚ Filippin, 65, said: "It's ridiculous. I see them at the shop every day of the year, I help them with their drains, they help me. They are people who came to Corr╦ze to change their lives, to help people. We don't view them as terrorists here."

...In the bar adjoining Tarnac's grocery store, as farmers tucked into their lunch, J╚r┘me, 28, who moved from the city seeking an alternative lifestyle in Tarnac, said he knew those who had been arrested and had stayed at their farm. "The portrayal of this place has been absurd. The farm is a very collective place and the village has a convivial atmosphere, doors are always open. They say we lived a secretive existence hidden away in the woods. That's not true - the farm is beside the road. They talk of a 'group' when there is no group. They say there was a ringleader ... but there is no boss here, that's an absurdity. It's against our whole thinking."

It is this spirit - a spirit of defiance and tolerance, with its recognition of a shared humanity and its respect for individual destiny, a spirit stretching across generational, ideological, professional and regional lines - that found such vigorous expression in Paris on Thursday.

I wonder if it's available for export? I know at least two nations of my intimate acquaintance who could damn sure use some of it.
(c) 2009 Chris Floyd







FDA To Approve Genetically Engineered Animals
Treat Them as Corporate Intellectual Property
By David Gutierrez

The FDA has adopted new rules allowing companies to sell genetically modified animals and their products on the market, and affirming that the DNA of such animals is private property that can be held under patent.

To be approved, any genetically modified animal product must be proven to the FDA's satisfaction to be safe for human use in a process similar to that undergone by new drugs. Clinical trials like those needed for drugs will not be required, however. The FDA must also show that any genetically modified animal is healthy.

No FDA approval will be required for cloned animals or those intended only for research or as pets.

The new rules immediately drew harsh criticism from a wide spectrum of opponents. Experts objected to the FDA's decision to allow the approval process to remain secret in order to protect the financial interests of companies that hold patents on genetically modified animals and their DNA. Environmental and consumer advocates also criticized the rules for ignoring the potential environmental impacts of genetically modified animals.

"Drugs don't go out and breed with each other. When a drug gets loose, you figure you can control it. When a bull gets loose, it would be harder to corral," said Jaydee Hanson from the Center for Food Safety.

Others criticized the FDA's decision to not require labeling of genetically modified animal products as long as there is no change in composition in the final product.

"Consumers have the right to know if the ham, bacon or pork chops they are buying ... have been engineered with mouse genes," said Jean Halloran, director of food policy initiatives at Consumers Union.

Already, companies are lining up to introduce a wide variety of modified animals, from salmon that grow twice as fast as normal to pigs with meat high in omega-3 fatty acids, cows resistant to mad cow disease and animals that produce pharmaceutical products such as insulin in their milk. Researchers have also expressed interest in engineering animals that grow human organs for transplant.
(c) 2009 David Gutierrez is a writer for Natural News







John Maynard Keynes; Brilliant Or Mad As A Hatter?
By Mike Folkerth

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

As I watch for further evidence that points to the end of our current economic basis, I don't have far to look.

The post office has asked Congress to allow mail delivery to be dropped to 5 days, rather than the normal 6, as the Postal Service faced the bitter news of a $2.8 Billion loss in 2008.

However, like usual, that's only part of the story. During the 100 year period from 1863-1963, postage increased by 66%, from 3 cents to 5 cents.

Postage actually went down to 2 cents in 1883, up to 3 cents in 1917 and back to 2 cents in 1919.

However, in the short 45 year period between 1963 and 2008, postage increased from 5 cents to 42 cents; an increase of 840%. Today, this 840% increase is not enough to pay the bills.

That's what scales of economy, technology, and efficiencies can do for you, not to mention a little artificial inflation and the endless quest for unchecked growth.

There is certainly more to this story, one thing being that average wages have paced the price of stamps in near lock step. But, my intention was to demonstrate in yet one more way, that our growth has not been linear (even over time) but has accelerated each and every year due to our exponential underpinnings.

We have heard every lame excuse possible for our recent decline but certainly the truth wasn't one of those excuses. When I began this long quest to obtain the broad knowledge that would allow me to see clearly into our economic future, I had no idea that the outcome would be so shocking.

The basis for America's economy wasn't engineered within the constraints and natural bounds of the exact sciences; math and physics. Instead, as a way out of the Great Depression, our way of life was heavily influenced by the English economist, John Maynard Keynes.

"Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world, is either a madman or an economist." ~Kenneth Boulding, Economics professor

John Maynard Keynes is acclaimed for the ideas in his book, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money. In those pages, he presented the prescription for curing a depression: get the economy running (and growing) by using government debt to finance big public works projects. Ever since the Great Depression, governments have used Keynesian policies to promote economic growth, manage employment, and control inflation.

I highly recommend taking the time to click on the link provided above to gain some insight into the madness of Keynes economic policies.

Explained in Mikeronomics, Keynes argued that paying a person out of the government coffers to dig holes and then fill them back in was an acceptable means of stimulating the economy. The Robin Hood approach if you would.

What Keynes never considered was the very real scientifically proven fact that there are limits to growth in a finite world.

I compare Keynesian economics to a Ponzi scheme hustle; it is difficult to argue with the beneficiaries of the scam until such point that they become the victims of the scam at which point it far to late to save oneself. The beneficiaries in this case are our political and social elite.

I cannot describe the empty feeling that I felt in that moment years ago when I realized that for the past 70 years, our leadership has steered us toward, and our educational system has taught, a system of economics that was never mathematically possible long term!

John Maynard Keynes ideas will die a horrible death over the next few years. In the very best of times, we have sustained deficits each and every year. How then could we possibly GROW the economy in a depleted environment to post recession levels and above? No only to pay our already impossible debts, but also to pay for the greatest government spending binge in history.
(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...



"Cui prodest scelus, is fecit."
"The one who derives advantage from the crime is the one most likely to have committed it."
... Seneca, first century CE









When Did We Stop Caring About Civilian Deaths During Wartime?
By Robert Fisk

I wonder if we are "normalising" war. It's not just that Israel has yet again got away with the killing of hundreds of children in Gaza.

And after its own foreign minister said that Israel's army had been allowed to "go wild" there, it seems to bear out my own contention that the Israeli "Defence Force" is as much a rabble as all the other armies in the region.

But we seem to have lost the sense of immorality that should accompany conflict and violence. The BBC's refusal to handle an advertisement for Palestinian aid was highly instructive. It was the BBC's "impartiality" that might be called into question. In other words, the protection of an institution was more important than the lives of children. War was a spectator sport whose careful monitoring - rather like a football match, even though the Middle East is a bloody tragedy - assumed precedence over human suffering.

I'm not sure where all this started. No one doubts that the Second World War was a bloodbath of titanic proportions, but after that conflict we put in place all kinds of laws to protect human beings. The International Red Cross protocols, the United Nations - along with the all-powerful Security Council and the much ridiculed General Assembly - and the European Union were created to end large-scale conflict. And yes, I know there was Korea (under a UN flag!) and then there was Vietnam, but after the US withdrawal from Saigon, there was a sense that "we" didn't do wars any more. Foreigners could commit atrocities en masse - Cambodia comes to mind - but we superior Westerners were exempt. We didn't behave like that. Low-intensity warfare in Northern Ireland, perhaps. And the Israeli-Arab conflict would grind away. But there was a feeling that My Lai had been put behind us. Civilians were once again sacred in the West.

I'm not sure when the change came. Was it Israel's disastrous invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and the Sabra and Chatila massacre by Israel's allies of 1,700 Palestinian civilians? (Gaza just missed that record.) Israel claimed (as usual) to be fighting "our" "war against terror" but the Israeli army is not what it's cracked up to be and massacres (Qana comes to mind in 1996 and the children of Marwahine in 2006) seem to come attached to it. And of course, there's the little matter of the Iran-Iraq war between 1980 and 1988 which we enthusiastically supported with weapons to both sides, and the Syrian slaughter of thousands of civilians at Hama and. ...

No, I rather think it was the 1991 Gulf War. Our television lads and lasses played it for all it was worth - it was the first war that had "theme" music to go with the pictures - and when US troops simply smothered alive thousands of Iraqi troops in their trenches, we learned about it later and didn't care much, and even when the Americans ignored Red Cross rules to mark mass graves, they got away with it. There were women in some of these graves - I saw British soldiers burying them. And I remember driving up to Mutla ridge to show a Red Cross delegate where I had seen a mass grave dug by the Americans, and he looked at the plastic poppy an American had presumably left there and said: "Something has happened."

He meant that something had happened to international law, to the rules of war. They had been flouted. Then came Kosovo - where our dear Lord Blair first exercised his talents for warmaking - and another ream of slaughter. Of course, Milosevic was the bad guy (even though most of the Kosovars were still in their homes when the war began - their return home after their brutal expulsion by the Serbs then became the war aim). But here again, we broke some extra rules and got away with it. Remember the passenger train we bombed on the Surdulica bridge - and the famous speeding up of the film by Jamie Shea to show that the bomber had no time to hold his fire? (Actually, the pilot came back for another bombing run on the train when it was already burning, but that was excluded from the film.) Then the attack on the Belgrade radio station. And the civilian roads. Then the attack on a large country hospital. "Military target," said Jamie. And he was right. There were soldiers hiding in the hospital along with the patients. The soldiers all survived. The patients all died.

Then there was Afghanistan and all that "collateral damage" and whole villages wiped out and then there was Iraq in 2003 and the tens of thousands - or half a million or a million - Iraqi civilians killed. Once more, at the very start, we were back to our old tricks, bombing bridges and radio stations and at least one civilian estate in Baghdad where "we" believed Saddam was hiding. We knew it was packed with civilians (Christians, by chance) but the Americans called it a "high risk" operation - meaning that they risked not hitting Saddam - and 22 civilians were killed. I saw the last body, that of a baby, dug from the rubble.

And we don't seem to care. We fight in Iraq and now we're going back to fight in Afghanistan again and all the human rights and protections appear to have vanished once more. We will destroy villages and we will find that the Afghans hate us and we will form more criminal militias - as we did in Iraq - to fight for us. The Israelis organised a similar militia in their occupation zone in southern Lebanon, run by a crackpot Lebanese army major. But now their own troops "go wild." And the BBC is worried about its "impartiality?"
(c) 2009 Robert Fisk --- The Independent







President Obama, Don't Become Complicit In Their Crimes!
By Cynthia McKinney

On Thursday, January 29th, I sent President Obama this message:

"Mr. President: The Bush Administration lied to the people in pursuit of war. As a result, at least one million Iraqis and thousands of U.S. soldiers are dead. Thousands more are maimed. The stature of the U.S. is severely damaged. The U.S. Constitution is in shreds after signing statements, wiretaps, and torture. Your obligation is to investigate and bring to justice those who violated U.S. and international law, such as the torture treaty. Failure to do so makes you complicit in their crimes."

On Wednesday, January 28th, I sat in front of the television and I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Exactly what I've been saying, myself. But it was coming from an unexpected source: the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Nowak. I wrote down every word. He said that the United Nations has proof that former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld knowingly approved of torture as a policy for the United States. He said that President Barack Obama has a responsibility to investigate and prosecute those who condoned, conducted, or approved of torture.

Further, Jonathan Turley, in an MSNBC interview stated that if Obama fails to investigate or prosecute that he would be an "accessory."

This is significant. It means that all of us, sadly, were right to pursue impeachment of the key figures in the Bush Administration. Impeachment was the Constitutional imperative; but the Constitution didn't mean anything to either the Republican or Democratic national leadership.

And to think, on this day filled with impeachment news, Nancy Pelosi took impeachment "off the table" for this cast of villainous characters. I never will forget watching Rocky Anderson, former Mayor of Salt Lake City, say on national television that Nancy Pelosi should be impeached for impeding impeachment. But Nancy Pelosi isn't the only one who obstructed justice.

In fact, how could Dick Durbin and Harry Reid, so voluble in standing up to Roland Burris because he was Governor Blagojevich's pick for Obama's vacated Senate seat, sit as quiet as church mice in the face of repeated calls for impeachment because of the reckless criminality of the Bush Administration?

And now, we have the United Nations tell us the equivalent of "Houston, we have a problem."

Some of us knew all along, from the very beginning, that the Bush Administration was the quintessence of election theft, graft, corruption, and war criminality. Some of us recognized early on that our struggle was "against principalities, against powers, . . . against spiritual wickedness in high places." It is impossible to "go along and get along" with illegal and immoral acts. But that is exactly what the national leadership of this country asked us all to do, and that is exactly what they did.

Dr. King was confronted with the expediency of staying on the civil rights track, remaining with his friends in the civil rights movement, or doing what his conscience impelled him to do. That's when he made his famous statement, that popular chroniclers of Dr. King seem to have forgotten:

"When I first decided to take a firm stand against the war in Vietnam, I was subjected to the most bitter criticism, by the press, by individuals, and even by some fellow civil rights leaders. There were those who said that I should stay in my place, that these two issues did not mix and I should stick with civil rights. Well I had only one answer for that and it was simply the fact that I have struggled too long and too hard now to get rid of segregation in public accommodations to end up at this point in my life segregating my moral concerns."

Dr. King had to leave behind some of his best friends in the movement when he decided to speak out against the Vietnam War. Dr. King could have bowed to the pressure and stayed in his "civil rights" lane. But he knew that the war was wrong and he had to use every fiber in his being to stop it. Even his life, itself.

One of the first underreported acts of President Obama was to sign an order continuing the drone airstrikes, resulting in at least 22 killed so far. For the dead children of Afghanistan or Pakistan or Gaza, it doesn't matter to their parents if the bomb was dropped by Bush or Obama or the client state they support. And President Obama has made it clear that the bombs will continue to drop; it is up to us--the people of the United States--to stop them. That's why it was on my birthday, in front of the Pentagon in 2007, that I declared my independence from every bomb dropped, every child killed, every veteran maimed in the name of U.S. wars. I said it, and I meant it, and I knew I was going to have to do something I'd never done before if I was ever going to have something I'd never had before. So I left the Democratic Party.

I don't regret my decision one minute. I draw my strength from Dr. King, who in his own way, did the same thing when he refused to segregate his moral concerns.

My neighborhood in Los Angeles, Watts and South Central, is already a police state. Tonight, 25 to 30 young black men, standing handcuffed, outside the barber shop. Every night, routine dehumanization is carried out in black and brown neighborhoods by LAPD. I see it. I never miss it. It's all around me.

Oscar Grant murdered in cold blood by law enforcement. Robert Tolan, murdered in cold blood by law enforcement, for driving his father's car, mistaken for stolen.

Filiberto Ojeda Rios assassinated by the U.S. government; I met his wife and heard the entire story of what happened as he was shot by the FBI and then bled to death.

Innocent black and brown and poor white men on death row. How many Troy Davises and Mumia Abu Jamals will we allow to exist in our country?

Native Americans trying to survive despite genocide and ethnic cleansing, struggle against drug and alcohol abuse and poverty, and try to keep their culture alive.

And yet the likes of Harry Reid, Dick Durbin, Nancy Pelosi, and now Barack Obama say nothing about the pain I see on the mean streets and reservations across our country, and the miscarriages of justice that are its regular feature, but they allow Bush and company to get away with the highest of crimes, involving millions of deaths.

In each of these writings, I ask you, too, to write to the White House and let them know that you exist. We didn't recruit President Obama to run, so I am clear on the limitations of a White House letter writing campaign. But trust me, our collective efforts will congeal into the movement for dignity, real peace, and true justice that we so desperately need for ourselves and the rest of the world.
(c) 2009 Cynthia McKinney





The Dead Letter Office...



Heil Obama,

Dear Unterfuhrer Hastings,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution, your house bill H. R. 645 which opens the Happy Camps for all Americans, Iraq and these many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Demoncratic Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Iron Cross, first class, with diamond clusters presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 05-23-2009. We salute you Herr Hastings, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama




The Daschles and their doggies


The Daschles
Feeding at the Beltway trough
By Glenn Greenwald

When Barack Obama announced in early December that he had selected Tom Daschle to be his Secretary of Health and Human Services as well as his "health care policy czar," Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi -- who had spent several months studying the inner workings of the 2006 Congress in order to profile its limitless corruption -- wrote the following reaction on his blog:

I know several reporters who are either officially or unofficially on "Whore Factor" duty, watching the rapidly kaleidoscoping transition picture and keeping track of the number of known whores and ghouls who for some reason have been invited to befoul the atmosphere of the next administration.

Obviously there has been some dire news on that front already. When Obama picked Tom Daschle to be the HHS Secretary, I nearly shit my pants. In Washington there are whores and there are whores, and then there is Tom Daschle. Tom Daschle would suck off a corpse for a cheeseburger. True, he is probably only the second-biggest whore for the health care industry in American politics - the biggest being doctor/cat-torturer Bill Frist, whose visit to South Dakota on behalf of John Thune in 2004 was one of the factors in ending Daschle's tenure in the Senate.

But in picking Daschle - who as an adviser to the K Street law firm Alston and Bird has spent the last four years burning up the sheets with the nation's fattest insurance and pharmaceutical interests - Obama is essentially announcing that he has no intention of seriously reforming the health care industry. . . .

Regarding Daschle, remember, we're talking about a guy who not only was a consultant for one of the top health-care law firms in the country, but a board member of the Mayo Clinic (a major recipient of NIH grants) and the husband of one of America's biggest defense lobbyists - wife Linda Hall lobbies for Lockheed-Martin and Boeing. Does anyone really think that this person is going to come up with a health care proposal that in any way cuts into the profits of the major health care companies?

How serious Obama is about health care reform remains to be seen. Obama supporters argue that Obama needs someone like Daschele, with credibility within the health care industry, in order to achieve real reform. That's the standard explanation for most of what Obama does (he's only courting the establishment in order to change it), and though highly skeptical, I'm personally willing to withhold judgment until the actual evidence is available regarding what Obama actually does.

But there's no need to withhold judgment on Daschle himself. He embodies everything that is sleazy, sickly, and soul-less about Washington. It's probably impossible for Obama to fill his cabinet with individuals entirely free of Beltway filth -- it's extremely rare to get anywhere near that system without being infected by it -- but Daschle oozes Beltway slime from every pore. Before he was elected to Congress 30 years ago from South Dakota, he had very, very few skills outside of the political arena. He was an Air Force intelligence officer for three years in the early 1970s, then worked for six years as an aide to South Dakota Sen. James Abourezk, then was elected to the House and then the Senate, where he became Majority Leader. So he's spent virtually his entire adult left working on Capitol Hill.

Despite that (or rather: precisely because of it), after being defeated for re-election to the Senate in 2004, he was able almost immediately to begin earning millions of dollars every year from firms and companies that depend on exerting influence in Congress:

The release of the financial statement [Daschle] submitted to the Office of Government Ethics [] details for the first time exactly how, without becoming a registered lobbyist, he made millions of dollars giving public speeches and private counsel to insurers, hospitals, realtors, farmers, energy firms and telecommunications companies with complex regulatory and legislative interests in Washington.

Daschle's expertise and insights, gleaned over 26 years in Congress, earned him more than $5 million over the past two years, including $220,000 from the health-care industry, and perks such as a chauffeured Cadillac, according to the documents. Other than his ability to know how to swing doors wide open in Congress, what "expertise and insights" worth that level of compensation does Tom Daschle have? It's pure legalized influenced peddling, and -- upon being booted out of the Congress -- he ran right to it as quickly as he could and engorged himself at the trough as hungrily as possible.

In doing so, he followed perfectly in the footsteps of his second wife, Linda, who served as the Clinton administration's Acting Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, and then, once she left her position running the agency that regulates the airlines industry, returned to her extremely lucrative lobbying practice with her largest clients being American Airlines, Northwest Airlines, Boeing, Lockheed and various airports and airport executive associations -- the very companies that she had been regulating. She began lobbying the Senate on behalf of those clients as soon as Tom left the Senate, where -- needless to say -- he has many "friends" and others who remain loyal to him, and she is continuously successful in defeating measures to impose greater regulations on the airline industry and to obtain other massively beneficial legislation for them.

In 2002, Washington Monthly editor Stephanie Mencimer wrote a thorough expos╚ detailing how the couple has spent many years in Washington intertwining their political power and private-sector interests, including their joint role -- he as a Senator and she as FAA administrator -- "to reduce safety inspections of an air-charter company owned by a family friend," one which, in 1993, "crashed in a snowstorm in Minot, North Dakota, killing the pilot and three doctors on their way to a reservation clinic" (after numerous accusations of serious wrongdoing, an Inspector General report cleared her of wrongdoing). Time and again, companies with a very substantial stake in legislation before the Daschle-run Senate paid huge fees to his wife. As Mencimer wrote:

So here's a case where a senator's wife gets a high-ranking government job, which in turn boosts her earning power as a lobbyist. She then represents clients who have business with and give money to her husband. Those clients pay her big bucks to help fight safety regulations and to win government money -- money which helps pay the senator's mortgage. Yet so far, the press and congressional ethics hawks have largely given the Daschles a pass. So why isn't this a bigger story?

Mostly because no one in Congress has the slightest interest in raising it. Democrats certainly don't want to attack one of their own, and as they point out in defending the Daschles, Republicans are married to lobbyists, too. In addition, both Republicans and Democrats are beneficiaries of Linda Daschle's clients. "This town is so bizarre that Linda Daschle may even deliver campaign contributions to Trent Lott," says the Heritage Foundation's Ron Utt. Indeed, she freely admits to giving campaign contributions to Republicans.

So who's left to scrutinize the relationship? The answer is the press. But Daschle has them covered too. Unlike Hillary a decade ago, Linda Daschle is a Beltway insider who understands the rules of the game. The main rule is that the effects of your actions, no matter how dubious---say, weakening airline safety---are never grounds for a scandal so long as you first, disclose your actions, and then, don't violate the ethics rules in the process. If Tom or Linda Daschle had secretly taken a free pair of Superbowl tickets from Northwest Airlines and then pushed the airline bailout plan, that would be a big story. But the fact that Tom Daschle takes thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Northwest and his wife's firm collects $200,000 a year to lobby for them is no problem at all.

As Mencimer points out, they know how to stay on the right side of what is strictly legal. There's no evidence they did anything illegal, but it is still blatantly sleazy and corrupt -- exactly the sort of legalized sleaze and corruption that Barack Obama, as a centerpiece of his campaign, vowed to combat. And it's unlikely to matter for exactly the reason Mencimer said: there are very few people in Washington who could criticize this sort of behavior without being guilty of the most extreme hypocrisy imaginable. The oh-so-sophisticated media stars are far too worldly to care about any such access-buying. And when one adds on to that the fact that Daschle is a member in good standing of the incestuous Senate club that must confirm him, it is difficult to see anything happening here other than easy confirmation, no matter how many more incriminating details are revealed (and this is to say nothing of the fact that Daschle was Senate Majority Leader from 2001-2004 when the Democrats perfected the art of submission to the Bush agenda, including the 2002 vote for the Iraq War, which Daschle supported).

Other than his being more extreme than most, and the fact that he and his wife work in tandem as a public-private team, there isn't anything particularly unusual about how Tom Daschle functions. He's quite emblematic of the Beltway syndrome. But that's the point: while it's unreasonable to expect that Obama will be able to avoid all ethically questionable individuals, it seems rather unnecessary to take one of the most ethically compromised Beltway mavens and place him in charge of a massive industry, one that has been lavishing him with undeserved wealth for the past several years.
(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.








Bill Ayers & U of M: Palling Around In Ann Arbor
By Mike Wrathell

Former U of M student Bill Ayers and his wife Bernadine Dohrn, formerly # 1 on the FBI's Most Wanted, were in Ann Arbor on Monday, guests of U of M and Shaman Drum Bookstore. When introduced by a U of M librarian and the bookstore owner, Bill and Bernadine got a disturbingly warm round of applause for a pair of "washed-up terrorists," to paraphrase Senator John McCain. The applause was not as loud as the bombs they set off all over our nation, but still, it was loud enough to disturb me deeply. One hand clapping would have disturbed me, too, though, in the interest of full disclosure....

Ayers said he would not defend the bombings The Weather Underground did back in the 1960's to protest the Vietnam War and other pet issues, but said one of the group's shortcomings was "we didn't doubt." Nothing like a bunch of self-righteous rich college kids with bombs, huh? Ms. Dohrn added, "We were never terrorists." But can you believe a terrorist when they say they are not a terrorist? The majority of the crowd of 200 or so people at U of M's massive graduate library seemed to buy their bosh hook, line, and sinker. Bill did not mention his old flame Diana Oughton, who, along with two other Weather Underground members, died while making a nail bomb in New York City in 1970.

A few days ago, The Detroit Free Press asked Ayers about The Weather Underground plot to blow up the 13th Precinct in Detroit. He denied any knowledge of it. I was planning on asking him about it, and was going to wear my late father's "15th Precinct" ball cap. My dad's nickname was "Ratman" when he was a Detroit police officer, and, later, a sergeant. Instead, I wore the CIA ball cap I got at Ground Zero. I was a big hit.

That question bearing no fruit, I thought of one that he hadn't been asked, as far as I know. I wrote it on an index card that was placed on each chair as I walked in the room, early enough to get an aisle seat. "Why did you trample on the American flag on the August 2001 cover of 'Chicago' magazine, an act that could be interpreted as hating America itself, and will you apologize for this act?"

Luckily, during the Q & A after their spiels mercifully ended, the master librarian of U of M, who seemed so very pleased with himself for hosting such illustrious washed-up domestic terrorists, read them my question. Ayers and Dohrn had stood together at the podium for the preceding questions and answered them with tag-team spiel, but for this one Bernadine made Bill take it on the chin alone. We later found out why. He approached the podium tentatively, like a boy caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

First, he sidestepped all responsibility by saying it was his publicist's idea, then he attacked me for a "false narrative" for questioning his love of country, yet he did not seize the moment to assure the gathering of his love of America. As one who has described himself as a "street communist," and one who wants to demilitarize America and be mere equals with nations like Iran and North Korea who supply terrorists, it did not surprise me at all, and had he said he loved America, I suspect it would have rung false, even, perhaps, to an Ann Arborite. Perhaps?

Bernadine then got up and mentioned all the "faux patriots" who brandished American flags after 9/11, a month after her little street communist husband's dastardly magazine covershot. I suppose trampling on the American flag is the mark of a true patriot in their little red book? By the way, Ayers said the photo only appeared online. He also said it was pre-9/11, as another paltry, sheepish excuse.

Ms. Dohrn did do one thing cool, though. She said she walked out of the room before brave little Billy posed for the "Chicago" magazine photographer. "It was just stupid," she explained a bit later. The crowd laughed with her, and I smiled, having drawn them out, finally, after over an hour of washed and faded rhetoric. They must have mentioned MLK a half trillion times, even though he was for non-violent protest. Her statement goes along well with her obsequious husband's statement: "There are a lot of educated fools in the world." Yeah, Bill, we know. Look in the mirror, bucco!

Yes, Bill, you are a fool if you think trampling on the American flag is the sign of a true patriot and putting a flag on the antennae of your car like I did after 9/11 is the act of a faux patriot. America is the home of the brave, yet you can't apologize for anything at all. Yeah, Vietnam was highly protestable. Okay. Even General Douglas MacArthur thought America should avoid wars on the Asian continent. But bombing domestic targets is not the sort of dissent our Founding Fathers allowed in the Constitution. And you trampled on the flag in 2001!

Ms. Dohrn said it is a "strange world and culture that we live in." Yes, but those bombs of yours, you made yourself. It was not our culture that made them. Take some responsibility. She is actually a lawyer now, like me, sworn to uphold the U. S. Constitution. Scary. Maybe that is why she felt a need to distance herself from obsequious Bill who does whatever his publicist tells him to do, apparently. What a "leader." For being one of the "leaders" of The Weather Underground, he sure can be a real sheep, my apologies to sheep. At least Bernadine knew it was a baaaahhhhhhddd idea and walked away from it.

The next question was a soft beachball about how their marriage has lasted all these years. Maybe U of M President Mary Sue Coleman asked that one. Bernadine said that Bill was such a fun guy to be around. "Like when I stand on the flag?" he queried. "No, that was just stupid," Bernandine responded back. The crowd laughed. It was the first time I ever saw Bernadine in a positive light. Ann Arbor was part of America for that one moment......just kidding......*s*

I had succeeded in driving a public wedge between two washed-up domestic terrorists who were drawn together romantically by an early-detonated nail bomb, a bomb that may have killed more than just three bad actors had it gone Bill Ayers' way. Bill Ayers said that Bernadine had been with the wrong man for 37 years. I am not sure what that means. Maybe she was involved with one of the two men who died with Diana Oughton from the nails being rocketed into their vital organs in that Greenwich Village apartment. Maybe she was with both of them. I saw the documentary "The Weather Underground" and they were into group sex, sort of a communist belief in the abandonment of self and property rights. One of Bill's reported maxims is "Kill your parents!" Educated fools, indeed!

U of M should be ashamed of itself for hosting such misguided, though educated foolish washed-up terrorists at the grad library. U of M is lucky The Weather Underground didn't blow up the grad library in the 60's for the ROTC branch it has on campus, in fact.

I used to study at the grad library all the time. I remember floor 4A was cool, my secret study crypt. I learned about Dadaism and German Expressionism there and would not be the artist that I am but for its musty solitude.

Now U of M is in shambles, hosting terrorists, keeping a president with an honorary degree from Notre Dame who seems hell-bent on running our football program into the ground while mindlessly cheerleading for diversity with a bullhorn in the Diag as she rakes in half a million a year!

I had to do something. I diverted my homecoming from a vacation to confront Bill Ayers. I was tempted to throw a large dollop of Faygo red pop in his face, but I am glad I took the peaceful route and called him out on his trampling of the American flag stunt. He threw red pop on his own face by having to come clean about his own behavior for one fleeting moment in his life. I hope the issue dogs him for the rest of his life and other members of the media continue to ask him to apologize. He will not even admit to personal participation in bombings in the 60's and 70's, but this is one act that he got caught red, white, and blue-footed doing, and he needs to be pressed about it until he cracks, and then some. Okay? Please? Pretty please with brown sugar on it? Or do you get a tingling sensation when you're near a pal of our President?
(c) 2009 Mike Wrathell. is an artist, attorney and a reporter for Issues & Alibis Magazine and America Jr. Magazine. He is also an actor in the new motion picture "W the Movie." Write Mike @.



The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Kevin Siers ~~~







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





To End On A Happy Note...



People Have The Power
By Patti Smith

I was dreaming in my dreaming
of an aspect bright and fair
and my sleeping it was broken
but my dream it lingered near
in the form of shining valleys
where the pure air recognized
and my senses newly opened
I awakened to the cry
that the people / have the power
to redeem / the work of fools
upon the meek / the graces shower
it's decreed / the people rule

The people have the power
The people have the power
The people have the power
The people have the power

Vengeful aspects became suspect
and bending low as if to hear
and the armies ceased advancing
because the people had their ear
and the shepherds and the soldiers
lay beneath the stars
exchanging visions
and laying arms
to waste / in the dust
in the form of / shining valleys
where the pure air / recognized
and my senses / newly opened
I awakened / to the cry

The people have the power
The people have the power
The people have the power
The people have the power

Where there were deserts
I saw fountains
like cream the waters rise
and we strolled there together
with none to laugh or criticize
and the leopard
and the lamb
lay together truly bound
I was hoping in my hoping
to recall what I had found
I was dreaming in my dreaming
god knows / a purer view
as I surrender to my sleeping
I commit my dream to you

The people have the power
The people have the power
The people have the power
The people have the power

The power to dream / to rule
to wrestle the world from fools
it's decreed the people rule
it's decreed the people rule
LISTEN
I believe everything we dream
can come to pass through our union
we can turn the world around
we can turn the earth's revolution
we have the power
People have the power ...
(c) 1988/2009 Patti Smith



Have You Seen This...



HR 645 Fema Camps Establishment Act


Parting Shots...




The Satanic Origins Of St. Valentine's Day

Where: Landover Baptist University ~ Department of Elementary Home School Education

From: Advanced Home School Teaching 452 (Satanic Holidays and Secular Festivals)

Who: Artist, Home School Enthusiast and Visiting University Professor, Rev. William (Billy) Stanley

Use: This item is fully approved by the Christian Home Schooling Association of Iowa and should be provided as a mandatory educational tool for all Baptist Children, ages 6-11.




*All historical documentation and references (300 AD - Present) regarding the True History of Valentine's Day are available to Platinum Tithing Members of the Landover Baptist Church Community at no cost. If you are a Christian scholar and need references for a project, research paper or other, please send our Church Historian a 5-page synopsis (of which we will have the copyright to publish) along with a self-addressed stamped envelope and a check for $479.99. God Bless!
(c) 2009 The Landover Baptist Church



Email:issues@issuesandalibis.org




The Gross National Debt





Zeitgeist The Movie...









Issues & Alibis Vol 9 # 6 (c) 02/06/2009


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