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In This Edition

Noam Chomsky examines, "Prerogatives Of Power."

Uri Avnery pleads, "Return, Return Oh Shulamit."

Glen Ford explores, "Operation Afro-Dilution": Michigan's Plan To Flood Detroit With Upscale Immigrants."

Matthew Rothschild returns with, "Intel. Director: Journalists Are Snowden's 'Accomplices'."

Jim Hightower exposes, "The Mobsters Of Wall Street."

David Swanson points out, "Citizen Activists Across The U.S. In Courts This Week For Protesting U.S. Weaponized Drones."

James Donahue studies the, "Human Propensity For Killing."

John Nichols finds, "Chris Christie's 2016 Access Lane Has Been Closed."

Chris Hedges reveals, "The Menace Of The Military Mind."

David Sirota tells, "How The Super Bowl Became A Super Boondoggle That Fleeces Taxpayers."

Paul Krugman sees, "Delusions Of Failure."

Robert Scheer plays, "The Super Bowl Of War: Three Decades Of Failure In Afghanistan."

Joel S. Hirschhorn says to, "Hate The Super Rich."

Dr. Annette Giaquinto wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich explains, "Why Widening Inequality Is Hobbling Equal Opportunity."

William Rivers Pitt finds it's, "The Sugar Makes The Poison Taste Sweet."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Bill Maher reports, "Bill Maher Blasts NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio For Slut-shaming From The Left" but first, Uncle Ernie sez, "The 'Farm Bill' Steals From The Poor, The Hungry And The Elderly And Gives It To The Rich."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Pat Bagley, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Ruben Bolling, Aerosmith, Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Julio Cortez, Pete Souza, Travis Dove, Anheuser-Busch, Parker Brothers, Flickr, The White House, New York Times, AP, Black Agenda Report, You Tube.Com and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

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

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

Debbie, who has never missed a meal in her life, gives the Corpo-rat salute

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The "Farm Bill" Steals From The Poor, The Hungry And The Elderly And Gives It To The Rich
A million may starve to death
By Ernest Stewart

"By referring to beneficiaries as 'farmers,' [the bill] underplays how giant agribusinesses really benefit from subsidized crop insurance. By stripping the limits on payouts, the richest businesses reap the most benefits from the bill.

So the Farm Bill, far from "reforming" the process of well-heeled agribusinesses living off corporate welfare, actually locks that support in place through misdirection. It's easier to denounce a farmer getting paid not to plant their field than to decry an overly generous insurance payout. Congress, particularly a Senate that over-represents rural agricultural states, knows well how to hide the ball in this fashion, keeping the focus on undeserving food stamp recipients rather than undeserving agribusinesses." ~~~ David Dayen

"All across the world, in every kind of environment and region known to man, increasingly dangerous weather patterns and devastating storms are abruptly putting an end to the long-running debate over whether or not climate change is real. Not only is it real, it's here, and its effects are giving rise to a frighteningly new global phenomenon: the man-made natural disaster." ~~~ Barack Obama

"Well, I believe there are certain times when I think you need to take certain measures and again, I know that sounds cold." ~~~ Dr. Annette Giaquinto

"It's like deja vu all over again." ~~~ Yogi Berra

I see that Corpo-rat welfare state gets fatter while food for the poor takes a hit to balance the budget. Debbie Stabenow led the charge for Barry and the Demoncrats cutting more than a million people off of food stamps and reducing food stamps by an average of $90 a month. If that wasn't bad enough, she's taking that $8.9 billion and giving it to the likes of Monsanto and other agra-giants.

The US Sinate voted 68-32 on Tuesday, and sent the Bill off to Barry for his signature. Did I mention this is skewed to make those cuts in 15 of 16 blue states that voted Barry into office on both occasions? That should teach the Sheeple something; but I'm sure it won't. Both of my Sinators, i.e., Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin, both Demoncrats, voted to starve the hungry, poor and elderly to death, and give that money to Monsanto and the like. Yeah, I know; what's new? Nothing, actually; I had no doubt these traitors would do what they've done.

Over a million men, women, and children will be cut off entirely; millions more will lose about half of their stamps. This will, no doubt, cause incalculable harm and suffering to millions, with some starving to death, others ruining their health, and may cause a minor revolution -- which is exactly what they want, so they can open up the Happy Camps and march us all in to a slow death -- except for folks like me, i.e, old fogies and the children who will be directed to the showers lines for quick disposal.

I have no doubt this will drive many people over the edge; so I look for an uptick in robberies, shoplifting in supermarkets, and folks going off fully cocked and loaded and killing many innocents -- whether in schools, sporting events, or political rallies. The ones behind it won't be touched, and will continue to grow and prosper, while the rest slide down into untenable situations and early deaths. Your tax dollars at work against you, America; how much more can you take?

In Other News

As I write this we are in the teeth of another Global Warming blizzard, with near-gale force winds making it twice as bad. If you think that statement is contradictory, it isn't. I've heard from several of my rat-wing friends who say winter disproves Global Warming; it doesn't; in fact, today's blizzard is a direct result of Global Warming.

As I've tried to explain Global Warming to said Bozos, temps have only gone up 2 degrees, and already in America that has triggered record temps for the last decade, record forest fires, record droughts and the like. While we in the Midwest and Northeast keep getting buried in snow (Detroit just set a record for the snowiest month on record), Australia is having the hottest summer on record. The reason Global Warming is driving all these snowstorms is it causes more moisture to be in the air -- hence more snow, and also causes less snow and rain to fall on the Southwest. Just a few more winters like this one and Las Vegas will be a ghost town, as will much of the Southwest. You can't live without water. The average American uses 176 gallons of water per day; the average family of four uses 400 gallons a day. Thats fine for folks around the Great Lakes as thanks to all this snow, we're anticipating a rise in all the lake levels.

Global Warming giveth; Global Warming taketh away; and it'll become even more so if we fail to bring it under control. While Al Gore did much to hip people and bring the vast majority into the discussion, we might lay all of our losses on Al's doorstep when he resigned the Presidency and gave it to Dubya, who proceeded to do whatever the corpo-rats who are causing Global Warming wanted -- a free rein that Barry has allowed even more so than Bush.

One of the things that has been controlling Global Warming is the Sun; its sunspot cycle is at the low end, which keeps it from raising the temps; but it will return in the next decade and when it does, look out. You can kiss the polar ice caps good bye; and folks from Maine to Washington State will see the seas rise and cities disappear. Folks from Manhattan to Miami had better learn how to do the backstroke a lot sooner than they think. Ask yourself, America, "How long can I tread water?" Now may be an excellent time to get yourself a little freehold on some mountaintop and fill it up to the ceiling with canned goods and organic seeds, oh, and some large bore rifles for those who don't, and will want to take yours! Wait to you see the price of food after California's drought really takes hold, and as bad as it is, it's just in it's beginning! Understand, America, that Global Warming is the biggest danger that the world has ever faced. Like the meteor that took out the dinosaurs, Global Warming stands poised to do the same thing to us! Ignore it at your own risk!

And Finally

The screwballs in Utah aren't the only ones denying children food; apparently, it's all the rage in Texas and New Jersey, too -- funny those three states, all just a couple of light years to the right of Darth Vader, all enjoy torturing children; imagine that. At least in Utah and Texas when they were found out, they apologized for starving little Billy Joe and Mary Ann and vowed to make changes. Not so with this week's Vidkun Quisling Award winner Galloway Township School District's Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Annette Giaquinto.

Dr. Annette isn't apologizing; no, as she explains, she was only following ze orders, JA! Apparently, Annette thinks the grade school in question isn't a public school; it is, but to her it's some sort of for-profit business. Anne says:

"We try to balance that the child comes first at the same time it is a business. We do need to make sure that the program can operate well.

Ann goes on to state that there were notices sent home with the child in question. Trouble is, did I mention that the child was autistic? Instead of calling, or emailing, or writing the mother who had let her child's account run out from time to time. Had the good doctor gone after mom, I wouldn't be writing this; but she took it upon herself to take it out on the kid! Embarrassing the child in front of his peers by taking his lunch away from him and throwing it in a garbage can! Instead of his somewhat wholesome lunch, he got a "cheese" sandwich and a milk. Would you care to bet me if it was real cheese or something that kinda looks like cheese made out of skink oil and some yummy GMO bread-like substance; I'm willing to bet Nan wouldn't eat one at gunpoint! But she's got to cover her ass somehow.

I didn't write her a letter as I wasn't sure that I could keep it together if I did. However, you might like to give her your thoughts on corporate lunches and autistic children at:

If you do, please relay the fact that she's won this week's Vidkun Quisling Award, and perhaps suggest that if she had a single drop of honor left, she should fall on her sword!

Keepin' On

As the great American philosopher, Yogi Berra once said, "It's like deja vu all over again," and ain't that the truth! It certainly is when coupled with the magazine's bank account as of late. Zero, zip, zilch, nada coming in; in fact, the only thing in my PO Box for the last month was the bill to renew my PO Box; funny thing that, huh?

While it's depressing, it hasn't stopped us from doing our jobs for you 24/7; it seems it gets harder every year, coming to you cap in hand, begging for a few alms to keep us afloat and operating. If I have anything, it's stamina, for all the good it's doing us, if nothing is coming in! So far, the only thing that's come in this year was a check that paid off last year's bills, while we're glad to have it, it does nothing about this year's bills.

Ergo, a little help ya'll. If, in the final daze of America, what we do for you and yours is deemed just a wee bit helpful or incredibly necessary, then please send us, whatever you can, whenever you can; and we'll keep fighting for you and yours, and bringing you the truth you need to know to figure it all out!


08-18-1941 ~ 01-31-2014
Thanks for the film!

12-08-1930 ~ 02-01-2014
Thanks for the film!

07-23-1967 ~ 02-02-2014
Thanks for the film!

06-26-1924 ~ 02-03-2014
Thanks for the film!


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


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

Until the next time, Peace!
(c) 2014 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for the last 13 years managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. Visit the Magazine's page on Facebook and like us when you do. Follow me on Twitter.

Prerogatives Of Power
By Noam Chomsky

As the year 2013 drew to an end, the BBC reported on the results of the WIN/Gallup International poll on the question: "Which country do you think is the greatest threat to peace in the world today?"

The United States was the champion by a substantial margin, winning three times the votes of second-place Pakistan.

By contrast, the debate in American scholarly and media circles is about whether Iran can be contained, and whether the huge NSA surveillance system is needed to protect U.S. security.

In view of the poll, it would seem that there are more pertinent questions: Can the United States be contained and other nations secured in the face of the U.S. threat?

In some parts of the world the United States ranks even higher as a perceived menace to world peace, notably in the Middle East, where overwhelming majorities regard the U.S. and its close ally Israel as the major threats they face, not the U.S.-Israeli favorite: Iran.

Few Latin Americans are likely to question the judgment of Cuban nationalist hero Jose Marti, who wrote in 1894 that "The further they draw away from the United States, the freer and more prosperous the [Latin] American people will be."

Marti's judgment has been confirmed in recent years, once again by an analysis of poverty by the U.N. Economic Commission for Latin American and the Caribbean, released last month.

The U.N. report shows that far-reaching reforms have sharply reduced poverty in Brazil, Uruguay, Venezuela and some other countries where U.S. influence is slight, but that it remains abysmal in others - namely, those that have long been under U.S. domination, like Guatemala and Honduras. Even in relatively wealthy Mexico, under the umbrella of the North American Free Trade Agreement, poverty is severe, with 1 million added to the numbers of the poor in 2013.

Sometimes the reasons for the world's concerns are obliquely recognized in the United States, as when former CIA director Michael Hayden, discussing Obama's drone murder campaign, conceded that "Right now, there isn't a government on the planet that agrees with our legal rationale for these operations, except for Afghanistan and maybe Israel."

A normal country would be concerned by how it is viewed in the world. Certainly that would be true of a country committed to "a decent respect to the opinions of mankind," to quote the Founding Fathers. But the United States is far from a normal country. It has had the most powerful economy in the world for a century, and has had no real challenge to its global hegemony since World War II, despite some decline, partly self-administered.

The U.S., conscious of "soft power," undertakes major campaigns of "public diplomacy" (aka propaganda) to create a favorable image, sometimes accompanied by worthwhile policies that are welcomed. But when the world persists in believing that the United States is by far the greatest threat to peace, the American press scarcely reports the fact.

The ability to ignore unwanted facts is one of the prerogatives of unchallenged power. Closely related is the right to radically revise history.

A current example can be seen in the laments about the escalating Sunni-Shiite conflict that is tearing apart the Middle East, particularly in Iraq and Syria. The prevailing theme of U.S. commentary is that this strife is a terrible consequence of the withdrawal of American force from the region - a lesson in the dangers of "isolationism."

The opposite is more nearly correct. The roots of the conflict within Islam are many and varied, but it cannot be seriously denied that the split was significantly exacerbated by the American- and British-led invasion of Iraq. And it cannot be too often repeated that aggression was defined at the Nuremberg Trials as "the supreme international crime," differing from others in that it encompasses all the evil that follows, including the current catastrophe.

A remarkable illustration of this rapid inversion of history is the American reaction to the current atrocities in Fallujah. The dominant theme is the pain about the sacrifices, in vain, of the American soldiers who fought and died to liberate Fallujah. A look at the news reports of the U.S. assaults on Fallujah in 2004 quickly reveals that these were among the most vicious and disgraceful war crimes of the aggression.

The death of Nelson Mandela provides another occasion for reflection on the remarkable impact of what has been called "historical engineering": reshaping the facts of history to serve the needs of power.

When Mandela at last obtained his freedom, he declared that "During all my years in prison, Cuba was an inspiration and Fidel Castro a tower of strength. . [Cuban victories] destroyed the myth of the invincibility of the white oppressor [and] inspired the fighting masses of South Africa . a turning point for the liberation of our continent - and of my people - from the scourge of apartheid. What other country can point to a record of greater selflessness than Cuba has displayed in its relations to Africa?"

Today the names of Cubans who died defending Angola from U.S.-backed South African aggression, defying American demands that they leave the country, are inscribed on the "Wall of Names" in Pretoria's Freedom Park. And the thousands of Cuban aid workers who sustained Angola, largely at Cuban expense, are also not forgotten.

The U.S.-approved version is quite different. From the first days after South Africa agreed to withdraw from illegally occupied Namibia in 1988, paving the way for the end of apartheid, the outcome was hailed by The Wall Street Journal as a "splendid achievement" of American diplomacy, "one of the most significant foreign policy achievements of the Reagan administration."

The reasons why Mandela and South Africans perceive a radically different picture are spelled out in Piero Gleijeses' masterful scholarly inquiry "Visions of Freedom: Havana, Washington, Pretoria, and the Struggle for Southern Africa, 1976-1991."

As Gleijeses convincingly demonstrates, South Africa's aggression and terrorism in Angola and its occupation of Namibia were ended by "Cuban military might" accompanied by "fierce black resistance" within South Africa and the courage of Namibian guerrillas. The Namibian liberation forces easily won fair elections as soon as these were possible. Similarly, in elections in Angola, the Cuban-backed government prevailed - while the United States continued to support vicious opposition terrorists there even after South Africa was compelled to back away.

To the end, the Reaganites remained virtually alone in their strong support for the apartheid regime and its murderous depredations in neighboring countries. Though these shameful episodes may be wiped out of internal U.S. history, others are likely to understand Mandela's words.

In these and all too many other cases, supreme power does provide protection against reality - to a point.
(c) 2014 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 Power Systems: Conversations on Global Democratic Uprisings and the New Challenges to U.S. Empire.

Return, Return Oh Shulamit
By Uri Avnery

PETE SEEGER touched my life only once. But what a touch.

It was a few days before the 1967 Six-Day War. After almost three weeks of mounting tension, the war fever was nearing breaking point. I knew that the war was only days, perhaps hours, away.

Dina Dinur, the wife of the Holocaust-writer K. Zetnik, called to invite me to meet Pete Seeger. Dina, a huge woman, had for years gathered a small group of Jewish and Arab intellectuals who met regularly in her home to discuss peace.

The meeting took place in Tel Aviv's Hilton hotel. It was sad, depressed, but also uplifting in a strange way. We were thinking about all the young men, ours and theirs, still alive and breathing, who were going to die in the next few days.

We were a group of two or three dozen people, Jews and Arabs. Pete sang for us, accompanying himself on the guitar, songs about peace, humanity, rebellion. We were all deeply stirred.

I never met Pete Seeger again. But 19 years later, out of the blue, I received a postcard from him. It said in clear handwriting: "Dear Uri Avnery - Just a note of deep thanks to you for continuing to reach out, and take action. I hope next time you are in USA my family and I can get to hear you. Pete Seeger." Then three Chinese characters and a sketch of what seems to be a banjo.

TWO DAYS before Pete passed away, we buried Shulamit Aloni. Perhaps some of those who took part in that earlier sad meeting were present this time, too.

Shula, as we called her, was one of the few leaders of the Israeli Left who made a lasting imprint on Israeli society.

Though she was five years younger than I, we belonged to the same generation, the one which fought in the 1948 war. Our lives ran on parallel lines - lines which, as we learnt at school, can be very close but never touch.

We were both elected to the Knesset at the same time. Before that, we were active in the same field. I was the editor of a magazine that was prominent, among other things, in the fight for human rights. She was a teacher and lawyer, already famous for defending citizen's rights in the press and on radio.

That sounds easy, but at the time it was revolutionary. Post-1948 Israel was still a country where The State was everything, citizens were there merely to serve the state, and especially the army. The collective was everything, the individual next to nothing.

Shula was preaching the opposite: the state was there to serve its citizens. Citizens have rights that cannot be taken away or diminished. This has become part of the Israeli consensus.

HOWEVER, THERE was a great difference between our situations. Shula came from the heart of the establishment, which hated my guts. She was born in a poor part of Tel Aviv, and when both her parents enlisted in the British army during World War II, she was sent to the youth village Ben Shemen, a center of Zionist indoctrination. One of her schoolmates was Shimon Peres. At the same time I was a member of the Irgun, in stark opposition to the Zionist leadership.

After Ben Shemen, Shula joined Kibbutz Alonim - hence her adopted family name - where she met and married Reuven, who became prominent as a senior government official in charge of judaizing Galilee.

Apart from writing articles and dealing with citizens' complaints on the radio, she performed illegal wedding ceremonies. In Israel, weddings are the exclusive province of the Rabbinate, which does not recognize women's equality. In the Knesset she was a member of the ruling Labor Party (then called Mapai) and subject to strict party discipline. I was a one-man faction, free to do as I pleased. So I could do many things she couldn't, such as submitting bills to allow to legalize abortions, to allow harvesting organs for transplantation, annulling the old British law against homosexual relations between consenting adults, and such.

I also demanded a total separation between the state and religion. Shula was known for her attacks on religious coercion concerning civil rights. Therefore I was utterly surprised when in one of our first conversations she strenuously objected to such separation. "I am a Zionist," she said, "The only thing that unites all Jews around the world is the Jewish religion. That is why there can be no separation between the state and the Jewish religion in Israel."

From there on, her outlook widened from year to year. To my mind, she followed the inescapable logic of the Left.

From her original concentration on citizens' rights, she moved to human rights in general. From there to the separation of state and synagogue. From there to feminism. From there to social justice. And, in the end, to peace and the fight against the occupation. Throughout she remained a Zionist.

This was no easy path. In early 1974, when she was elected to the Knesset again, this time as the leader of a small party, while I lost my seat, I took her in my car to a meeting in Haifa. On the way, which took about an hour, I told her that now, as a party leader, she must get active in the fight for peace. "Let's divide the task between us," she answered, "You deal with peace and I deal with civil rights."

But 20 years later, Shula was already a leading voice for peace, for a Palestinian state, against the occupation.

WE HAD another thing in common. Golda Meir hated our guts.

Shula could disregard the party line as long as the benevolent Levy Eshkol was prime minister. When he suddenly died and the scepter passed to Golda, the rules changed abruptly.

Golda had a domineering personality, and, as David Ben-Gurion once said about her, the only thing she was good at was hating. Shula, a young and good-looking woman, with unorthodox ideas, aroused her ire. In 1969 she removed Shula from the party list. In 1973, when Shula tried again, Golda showed the full force of her spite: at the very last minute she removed Shula again.

It was too late for Shula to go through the lengthy procedure of setting up a new party list. But a miracle happened. A group of feminists had prepared a list of their own, with all the necessary requirements already completed, but without a chance of passing the minimum threshold. It was an ideal combination: a leader without a list for a list without a leader.

During the last hours of the time allocated for the submission of the lists, I saw Shula struggling with a huge pile of papers, trying to bring some order to the hundreds of signatures. I helped her to do the job.

Thus the new party, now called Meretz, came into being and won three seats on its first attempt.

HER HOUR of glory came in 1992. Meretz won 250,667 votes and became a political force. The new Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, needed her for his new government. Shula became Minister of Education, a job she coveted.

The trouble was that the 44 seats of the Labor Party and the 12 seats of Meretz were not enough. Rabin needed a religious party to form a government.

The transition from opposition fighter to cabinet minister is not always easy. It was especially hard for Shula, who was more of a preacher than a politician. Politics - as Bismarck famously remarked - is the art of the possible, and compromise came hard to Shula.

Nonetheless, right at the beginning, when Rabin decided to expel 415 radical Islamic citizens from the country, Shula voted in favor. During the protest against this outrage, my friends and I founded Gush Shalom. Shula later admitted that her support for the expulsion was an "eclipse of the sun."

But the main trouble was to come. Shula never believed in hiding her opinions. She was totally honest. Perhaps too honest.

As Minister of Education she dispensed her opinions freely. Too freely. Every time she said what she thought about some chapter of the Bible and such, the religious coalition partners exploded.

The climax came when she announced that in all schools, the theories of Charles Darwin would replace the Biblical creation story. That was just too much. The religious demanded that Rabin remove Shula from the education ministry. Rabin was occupied with the Oslo peace process and needed the religious parties. Shula was removed from the ministry.

AT HER funeral, one of her two sons, in a brilliant eulogy, hinted darkly at the "treachery" which was the hardest moment of her life. All those present understood what he meant, though he did not elaborate.

When Rabin dismissed Shula from her beloved job as Education Minister, her party colleagues did not come to her aid. Among themselves they accused her of acting foolishly. She should have known that joining a coalition with the religious parties would demand a price. If she was not ready to shut her mouth, she should not have joined in the first place.

Meretz was the creation of Shula. Party founders are generally strong personalities, with whom it is not easy to cooperate. Shula's party colleagues conspired against her, and eventually she was replaced as party leader by Yossi Sarid, a sharp-tongued Labor Party politician who had lately joined Meretz. In the next election, Meretz crashed from 12 seats to 3.

During the last few years, she was rarely in the public eye. I never saw her at demonstrations in the occupied territories, but she lectured incessantly to anyone, anywhere, when invited.

IN ONE of his frequent outbursts of vulgarity, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef of the Shas party said: "When Shulamit Aloni dies, there will be a feast!"

There was no feast this week. Even the Right acknowledges her contribution to Israel. The Meretz party, now with six members in the Knesset, is doing well in the polls.

The sixth chapter of the Song of Songs ends with the call: "Return, return oh Shulamite, return, return!" No chance of that. Not much chance of another Shulamit Aloni, either. They don't make them like that anymore.
(c) 2014 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

"Operation Afro-Dilution": Michigan's Plan To Flood Detroit With Upscale Immigrants
By Glen Ford

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is a crude and vicious racist who verbalizes what most white people believe, but won't say in mixed company: What's wrong with Detroit, is an excess of Black people. Snyder proposes to bring 50,000 immigrants to Detroit over five years on special EB-2 visas, on the theory that the newcomers' entrepreneurial zeal will have transformative effects on the city. Starting with an initial 5,000 immigrants, "Snyder's List" would expand to 15,000 in the final year, with Detroit accounting for more than a third of the nation's total EB-2 authorization. Call it "Operation Afro-Dilution."

Gov. Snyder is a Republican, a political breed known to recoil at the prospect of the USA overrun by foreigners of the darker kind. However, Snyder's specially summoned migrants would be flooding into territory inhabited mainly by an even more despised demographic: African Americans, who make up 82 percent of Detroit's 700,000 people. The current Black concentration is far too thick to attract sufficient white families to effect a profound racial transformation in the near term. Consider this: If a rise in a town's Black population to 20 or 25 percent is enough to push many whites past the "tipping point" into flight, how low do African American numbers have to get before a city definitively "tips" the other way.

An infusion of global migrants would enable Detroit's corporate masters to market the metropolis as a "cosmopolitan" urban cocktail, as opposed to the nation's largest "Chocolate City." In the language of White-Speak, that's definitely an upgrade, a boost in marketable assets, all around - which is what late-stage, finance-dominated capitalism is all about.

But, Gov. Synder is going to have to compete for his share of immigrant "pioneers" (as white American settlers in ghetto locales once described themselves). Other too-Black Midwestern cities, including Chicago, St. Louis and Dayton, Ohio, have the same idea, attaching a premium to immigrants of a certain type (educated, relatively affluent).

Back in the post-Civil War era of breakneck U.S. industrialization, European immigrants didn't even have to speak English to rate a sign-on bonus, free transportation across the Atlantic and company-built housing near their new jobs in American cities. For others, there was free land, confiscated from newly dead Indians. English-speaking African Americans, many of whom had been artisans and industrial workers under slavery, were turned away from factory and homestead. Black folks' assigned "place" was at the bottom of the racial hierarchy, wherever that happened to be at the time. Nothing has changed, in that regard - except that modern white society determinedly denies that segregation is its favored way of life. Where that not true, of course, Detroit would not be 82 percent Black.

Black folks know full well that Snyder's immigration scheme is designed to dilute Black numbers and, eventually, make Detroit a more attractive place for native white habitation. But, in mixed company, politically conscious Blacks are careful not to appear jingoistic, like the other Ugly Americans. Rev. Charles Williams II of the National Action Network told the New York Times that "he believed Detroit, as well as other Midwestern states, should be pro-immigration. 'However,' he said, 'I will say, on the other end of this, I think it's a little ambitious for Governor Snyder to put together a plan to induce more population when still we have to work on double-digit unemployment and high poverty that's already in our city right now." That's putting it mildly. Thirty-eight percent of Detroiters live below the poverty line, the vast majority of them Black.

Changing U.S. population patterns dictate that Blacks strive for solidarity - or, at least, healthy political relations - with immigrant groups, especially Latinos. African Americans must resist being goaded into ethnic confrontations that profit only powerful corporations. However, Snyder and his ilk are attempting to use EB-2 immigrants - the bulk of whom are relatively privileged people from India, China, Mexico and the Philippines - as demographic weapons to break up African American population concentrations. In the process, they are implicitly defaming Blacks as the negative side of the human ledger - The Problem - and non-Blacks as The Solution. This is an assault that must be answered with full throated roar.

Snyder isn't just preaching to white Americans, who are fully conversant in racially coded language; he is propagandizing the targeted immigrant populations, as well, telling them they are a better class of people than the current residents of Detroit. Snyder and his cohorts are essentially assigning the newcomers a racial mission: to bring their supposedly "superior" cultural attributes to uplift (and ultimately replace) an "inferior" Black social environment.

Now that western Europeans no longer view the U.S. as a Promised Land, the American mythologists must tailor the Founding Lies to a darker audience. Gov. Snyder updates the old Ellis Island story to fit the current influx from the global East and South. "Isn't that how we made our country great, through immigrants?" said Mr. Snyder, hawking his plan for Detroit. No, that's not how it happened. The United States was made rich by Black slaves, whose pre-Civil War value exceeded all other national "assets" except the land, itself - which was, of course, stolen from the Native Americans. The descendants of European immigrants, from the Mayflower to the 20th century's vaunted Melting Pot, somehow imagine they are God's gift to the continent - to the planet! - but their most important contributions to the enrichment of the New World were smallpox-infected blankets and chains.

Corporate ethnic manipulators like Snyder want to indoctrinate a new crop of immigrants to the inherent inferiority of Black Americans, whose cities must be saved by culturally superior foreigners. This is how U.S. rulers prepare for the year 2043, when the U.S. is projected to become a majority-minority country - by inculcating the newcomers with the same racist worldview as the previous white overlords.

Gov. Snyder bragged that he could achieve ethnic cleansing on the cheap. "Here's a non-cash way to significantly accelerate the comeback of Detroit" - meaning, he has no intention of spending any money on the existing Detroit population. However, the week before, Snyder announced that he was asking the state legislature to provide $350 million to shore up the city's retiree pension plan and save the art collection. Snyder and Republican lawmakers have long waged a starvation campaign against Detroit, depriving the city of revenue sharing and other funds in order to accelerate its fiscal collapse. Now that the local electorate has been disenfranchised (as has a majority of the state's Black population), and total corporate dominion appears imminent, Snyder turns the money faucet back on. Should corporate plans sour (see Tom Stephens, "Judge Rhodes to Detroit: Don't Pay the Banksters," in this issue of BAR), then the screws will be tightened.

If, by dint of sheer human will, or just the fact of not having anywhere to else go, Black folks can maintain a super-majority in Detroit, that will be a great victory. When someone is trying to kill you, to live is to triumph.
(c) 2014 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

Intel. Director: Journalists Are Snowden's 'Accomplices'
By Matthew Rothschild

James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, is lucky he is not under indictment for lying to Congress last year.

But there he was, before Congress again on Wednesday, testifying to the Senate Intelligence Committee, and making the outrageous suggestion that Glenn Greenwald is a criminal for publishing the Edward Snowden documents about the NSA's widespread violation of our Fourth Amendment rights.

"Snowden claims that he's won and that his mission is accomplished," Clapper said. "If that is so, I call on him and his accomplices to facilitate the return of the remaining stolen documents that have not yet been exposed, to prevent even more damage to U.S. security."

By pointing a finger at Greenwald, Clapper showed utter disdain for our First Amendment protections and displayed a total ignorance of the ruling in the Pentagon Papers case.

Justices Hugo Black and William O. Douglas called the injunction against the release of the Pentagon Papers a "flagrant" and "indefensible" violation of the First Amendment.

And Justice Black added: "Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government. And paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people."

Clapper knows a thing or two about deceiving the people.

Last March, in response to a question from Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, Clapper testified that the government was not "wittingly" collecting information on millions of Americans. Clapper later said that his comment was "the least untruthful thing" he could have said. His recantation is tantamount to a confession of criminal wrongdoing.

The Justice Department should indict Clapper, not Greenwald.

And we all need to be cognizant of Clapper's - and Obama's - flagrant hostility to our First Amendment and Fourth Amendment rights.
(c) 2014 Matthew Rothschild is the senior editor of The Progressive Magazine, which is one of the leading voices for peace and social justice in this country. Rothschild has appeared on Nightline, C-SPAN, The O'Reilly Factor, and NPR, and his newspaper commentaries have run in the Chicago Tribune, the L.A. Times, the Miami Herald, and a host of other newspapers. Rothschild is also the author of a book entitled You Have No Rights: Stories of America in Our Repressive Age (New Press, 2007).

The Mobsters Of Wall Street

Assume that you ran a business that was found guilty of bribery, forgery, perjury, defrauding homeowners, fleecing investors, swindling consumers, cheating credit card holders, violating US trade laws, and bilking American soldiers. Can you even imagine the punishment you'd get?

How about zero? No jail time. Not even a fine. Plus, you get to stay on as boss, you get to keep all the loot you gained from the crime spree, and you even get a $8.5 million pay raise!

Of course, you and I would never get such outrageous, absurd, kid-glove pampering by legal authorities. But, then, we're not the capo of JPMorgan Chase, America's biggest bank and a crime syndicate that apparently is too big to jail.

Jamie Dimon is the slick CEO who has fostered a culture of thievery during his years as a top executive at JPMorgan, leading to that shameful litany of crime. Yet, federal prosecutors have bowed to the politically-connected Wall Streeter, refusing to ruffle his feathers with even a single criminal charge.

Meanwhile, one of the scams that Dimon directly supervised produced a $6 billion loss for shareholders in 2012. And his reign of mismanagement and illegalities cost the bank's shareholders another $20 billion in federal fines last year, resulting in a 16 percent drop in profits. You might think the bank's board of directors would at least slap Jamie's wrist for the loss of those billions, but no - in January, they rewarded him, raising his pay by some 70 percent to a sweet $20 million!

The New York Times noted that, "To ordinary Americans," such a reward for poor performance "may seem curious." Curious? Uh-uh. Try incomprehensible, insane, and immoral. Wall Street's haughty elites continue to demonstrate that they're common mobsters - only not so ethical.
(c) 2014 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.

Citizen Activists Across The U.S. In Courts This Week For Protesting U.S. Weaponized Drones
By David Swanson

WHO: Citizen activists from the east coast to the west coast will be in court this week defending their actions protesting the United States Military and Central Intelligence Agency weaponized drone program.

WHAT: The first trial will begin Monday February 3 in Sacramento, California for four activists arrested at Beale AFB in April 2013, while attempting to deliver a letter to the base commander addressing the illegality of US drones which kill innocent people and noncombatants in Pakistan and other countries. The letter is a citizen's declaration charging President Obama and all military personnel involved in the drone program with crimes against humanity and multiple violations of the law, including due process. (Letter is below.)

Meanwhile, in upstate New York, 17 activists are in the midst of an ongoing trial in a DeWitt, NY courthouse for an October 2012 protest at Hancock AFB protesting the use of the Reaper drones piloted from there that activists say perpetuate war crimes, and violations of human rights laws.

On Friday five activists will be in US District Court in Alexandria, VA appealing their trespass conviction at the Central Intelligence Agency in June, 2013 as they attempted to deliver a letter and seek a meeting with CIA Director John Brennan concerning CIA violations of international law related to illegal targeted drone killing in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere.

WHEN: Monday, February 3 through Friday, February 7, 2014

(Beale AFB case), US Courthouse, 50l I St., Sacramento, CA,
(Hancock AFB case) Courthouse at 400 Butternut Drive, East Syracuse, NY,
(CIA case) U.S. District Court, 401 Courthouse Square, Alexandria, VA

WHY: Activists across the country continue to work to bring an end to the illegal and immoral killer drone strikes which have now killed thousands of people, including hundreds of children, around the globe with no due process.

For the last several years citizen activists have engaged in peaceful protests drawing attention to the violations of international law the US drone program is committing in multiple countries including Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. In protest activities and courtroom testimonies, activists have repeatedly spoken about their obligations under the Nuremberg Principles to oppose the crimes against peace, the violations of international law, and the war crimes the US is committing through its use of weaponized drones.

Beale AFB defendants: Robin Ryan 415-517-5856; Martha Hubert; 415-722-3321; Toby Blome, 510-541-6874
Hancock AFB defendants: Ed Kinane, 315-478-4571; Mary Anne Grady Flores, 607-273-7437
CIA defendants: Malachy Kilbride 571 501-3729, Max Obuszewski 410 366-1637 Joy First 608 239-4327


We, the people, charge the US President, Barack Obama and the full military chain of command, to Beale Air Force Base Colonel Phil Stewart, 9th Reconnaissance Wing Commander, every drone crew and service member at Beale Air Force Base, and every other U.S. base involved directly or indirectly with the U.S. drone program, with crimes against humanity, with violations of part of the Supreme Law of the Land, extrajudicial killings, violation of due process, wars of aggression, violation of national sovereignty, and killing of innocent civilians.

US military and CIA Drone attacks have killed thousands of innocent civilians, including women and children, in the Middle East, Somalia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. In the name of combating terrorism against the US, we are terrorizing innocent people and creating many more enemies and potential terrorists in the process.

Our government has become a lawless power, acting as judge, jury, and executioner, just because it can. The US uses remote-controlled drones to kill women in their kitchens, elders meeting in their jirgas, mourners at funerals, and rescuers who try to help the wounded. By most independent studies, the vast majority of those killed are civilians.

We therefore demand:

(1) An immediate ban on the use of all drones for extrajudicial killing

(2) A halt to all drone surveillance that assaults basic freedoms and inalienable rights and terrorizes domestic life in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, and Somalia

(3) A prohibition on the sale and distribution of drones and drone technology to foreign countries, in order to prevent the proliferation of this menacing threat to world peace, freedom, and security, and

(4) An immediate end to this lawless behavior of drone warfare that violates many international laws and treaties.
(c) 2014 David Swanson is the author of "War Is A Lie."

Human Propensity For Killing
By James Donahue

Something strange has been occurring in recent months. People of all ages, even children, have been on deadly suicide missions, walking into schools, theaters, shopping malls and other public places with guns blazing, attempting to kill as many innocent victims as possible before they get gunned down by the police.

This hasn't been a new development. Insane killers have gone down in history. Andrew Kehoe bombed the Bath School at Lansing, Michigan in 1927 that killed 38 children, six teachers and other adults and left another 58 injured. Charles Whitman gunned down and killed 14 students and left many more injured from the top of a bell tower at the University of Texas in Austin in 1966. Radical preacher Jim Jones murdered his congregation and visitors to his compound in a Guyana jungle by feeding them poisoned Kool Aid and shooting others in a deadly 1978 massacre that left 918 dead.

What is different about contemporary public killings is that they are increasing in frequency since the Columbine horror in April, 1999. In 2013 there were 28 school shootings. This year there has been an average of one school shooting incident every other day. In addition, gunmen have opened fire on crowds in restaurants, office buildings and other public places. It is as if a strange form of insanity is occurring.

America and the world is still shaken by the 911 events where stolen aircraft were used to destroy the World Trade Center towers and strike the Pentagon, leaving an estimated 3,000 people dead.

In other parts of the world, suicide bombers have been walking into train stations, government buildings, crowded buses and even police stations with bombs strapped on their bodies and blowing themselves and everything in sight to smithereens.

Perpetual warfare has been raging. African, Islamic and European tribes have been on killing sprees. The United States has been in an almost constant state of war from the day we won our fight for independence against England. Every new invention, from the steam engine to atomic power has been used to make bigger and more deadly weapons capable of killing large numbers of people.

We have used our ingenuity to design weapons so terrible that we have the capability of destroying all life on our planet at the push of a button. We have satellites that photograph every move that every person makes, listen in on every electronic communication and fire deadly laser beams with pinpoint accuracy. We hunt both man and beast mostly for the joy of killing. But why do we choose to do this?

We think of ourselves as a civilized society. But as long as we continue to build weapons to kill, we remain no better than our barbaric ancestors.

The history of our system of executing convicted "wrongdoers" is a case in point. In early times criminals were hung on a rope, forced to stand before a firing squad, their heads chopped off, burned alive on a stake, and even thrown into a large pot of boiling water. Other means of executing prisoners included crucifixion, drowning, beating or stoning to death, impalement, and drawing and quartering.

After the advent of electricity, we invented the electric chair. And with the development of chemistry, we have learned how to kill by injecting poisons to prisoners as they lie strapped down on a table. If new ways of killing can be dreamed up, we use them.

In the Tenth Century A.D. people were executed for any crime. By the 1700s, crimes punishable by death included stealing, cutting down a tree and such capital offenses as marrying a Jew, treason, and not confessing to a crime. At one time people were executed for any of a list of 222 crimes.

Believe it or not, things have been slowly improving for people convicted of capital crimes.

There has been a growing effort to eliminate the death penalty in many countries around the world. The United Nations Human Rights Commission passed a resolution in 1999 supporting a worldwide moratorium on executions. The resolution called on nations that still had the death penalty to restrict its use and not imposing it on juvenile offenders. Rejecting the resolution were the United States, China, Pakistan, Rwanda and Sudan.

The US Supreme Court suspended the death penalty in 1972 but a court case in 1976 led to approval of guided discretion statutes and the death penalty was reinstated. Since 1976 Texas has led the nation in the number of prisoners put to death. A total of 379 prisoners were executed in Texas compared to 98 in Virginia, 64 in Florida and 43 in North Carolina. Some states have chosen to abolish the death penalty altogether.

One of the problems facing states that put prisoners to death has been the growing cost of conducting executions. The State of Wyoming is considering a return to the firing squad as a way of cutting costs. One legislator noted that the cost of bullets is much cheaper than building a gas chamber or constructing a gallows.
(c) 2014 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles. He currently produces daily articles for this web site.

Governor Chris Christie delivers his State Of The State address, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, in Trenton, N.J.

Chris Christie's 2016 Access Lane Has Been Closed
By John Nichols

Chris Christie was never going to be the president of the United States. That issue was settled long before gridlock set in on the lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge. The New Jersey governor's record on the critical measures for any state executive bidding for the presidency in 2016-job creation and economic growth-were dismal, and his positions on economic and social issues were far too conservative to attract swing voters in a country that had already rejected John McCain and Mitt Romney.

What remained uncertain was whether a Republican Party that has not nominated a winning candidate with a name other than "Bush" since the 1980s would gamble on Christie. And that issue is now settled, as well.

Even before The New York Times reported on Friday that former Port Authority of New York and New Jersey official David Wildstein, an old friend of the governor who gained his position with Christie's blessing, has written a letter explaining that it was on "the Christie administration's order" that access lanes to the bridge were closed-thus gridlocking Fort Lee, a city where the Democratic mayor had refused to endorse the Republican governor's re-election bid-Republicans across the country were looking elsewhere.

After his re-election last fall, Christie led the Republican pack in national polls and polls from battleground states.

That's over.

A Washington Post/ABC News survey released this week determined that Christie "appears to have suffered politically from the bridge-traffic scandal engulfing his administration."

That's polite newspeak for: Christie's numbers among those most likely to support him have tanked.

In the Post poll, only 43 percent of Republicans viewed the governor favorably-not that much better than his favorable rating among Americans in general: 35 percent.

The survey found that Christie had sunk to a weak third-place position in the nomination race, with support from just 13 percent of Republican-leaning voters. The candidates who have benefitted most from the governor's collapse-nationally known Republicans with big names and well-established histories-were soaring. Congressman Paul Ryan, the party's 2012 vice presidential nominee, who is looking a little more like a 2016 contender these days, was at 20 percent. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush was at 18 percent.

Worse yet for Christie, his 13 percent support level was barely better than that found for Texas Senator Ted Cruz (12 percent), Kentucky Senator Rand Paul (11 percent.) and Florida Senator Marco Rubio (10 percent).

There was a line of analysis that suggested Christie-who after a marathon press conference three weeks ago, in which he tried and failed to explain himself, has pretty much avoided the media-might ride the storm out and get back into contention.

But reality has to be dawning on even the most ardent Christie enthusiasts, now that Wildstein's lawyer has released the letter claiming that "evidence exists as well tying Mr. Christie to having knowledge of the lane closures, during the period when the lanes were closed, contrary to what the governor stated publicly in a two-hour press conference."

It is far too early to say where the inquiries and investigations of the bridge scandal-and all the other scandals that have arisen in its wake-will ultimately end up. It is far too early to speak in conclusive terms about what Christie knew, or when he knew it. But it should be clear by now that the sorting out of this governor's troubles is going to take a very long time. Christie will be fighting in that time not to restore his presidential prospects but to regain the confidence of voters in his home state. Indeed, before this is done, he could well be fighting to retain the governorship through the end of his current term.

That's not how a candidate secures the Republican nomination for president.

And that is why the time really has come to accept that Chris Christie's brief period as a presidential prospect is absolutely finished.
(c) 2014 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His new book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, has just been published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, center, and other officials testify on
Capitol Hill last Wednesday at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on national
security threats. From left: National Counterterrorism Center Director Matthew Olsen,
FBI Director James Comey, Clapper, CIA Director John Brennan
and Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.

The Menace Of The Military Mind
By Chris Hedges

I had my first experience with the U.S. military when I was a young reporter covering the civil war in El Salvador. We journalists were briefed at the American Embassy each week by a U.S. Army colonel who at the time headed the military group of U.S. advisers to the Salvadoran army. The reality of the war, which lasted from 1979 to 1992, bore little resemblance to the description regurgitated each week for consumption by the press. But what was most evident was not the blatant misinformation-this particular colonel had apparently learned to dissemble to the public during his multiple tours in Vietnam-but the hatred of the press by this man and most other senior officers in the U.S. military. When first told that he would have to meet the press once a week, the colonel reportedly protested against having to waste his time with those "limp-dicked communists."

For the next 20 years I would go on from war zone to war zone as a foreign correspondent immersed in military culture. Repetitive rote learning and an insistence on blind obedience-similar to the approach used to train a dog-work on the battlefield. The military exerts nearly total control over the lives of its members. Its long-established hierarchy ensures that those who embrace the approved modes of behavior rise and those who do not are belittled, insulted and hazed. Many of the marks of civilian life are stripped away. Personal modes of dress, hairstyle, speech and behavior are heavily regulated. Individuality is physically and then psychologically crushed. Aggressiveness is rewarded. Compassion is demeaned. Violence is the favorite form of communication. These qualities are an asset in war; they are a disaster in civil society.

Homer in "The Iliad" showed his understanding of war. His heroes are not pleasant men. They are vain, imperial, filled with rage and violent. And Homer's central character in "The Odyssey," Odysseus, in his journey home from war must learn to shed his "hero's heart," to strip from himself the military attributes that served him in war but threaten to doom him off the battlefield. The qualities that serve us in war defeat us in peace.

Most institutions have a propensity to promote mediocrities, those whose primary strengths are knowing where power lies, being subservient and obsequious to the centers of power and never letting morality get in the way of one's career. The military is the worst in this respect. In the military, whether at the Paris Island boot camp or West Point, you are trained not to think but to obey. What amazes me about the military is how stupid and bovine its senior officers are. Those with brains and the willingness to use them seem to be pushed out long before they can rise to the senior-officer ranks. The many Army generals I met over the years not only lacked the most rudimentary creativity and independence of thought but nearly always saw the press, as well as an informed public, as impinging on their love of order, regimentation, unwavering obedience to authority and single-minded use of force to solve complex problems.

So when I heard James R. Clapper Jr., a retired Air Force lieutenant general and currently the federal government's director of national intelligence, denounce Edward Snowden and his "accomplices"-meaning journalists such as Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras-before the Senate Intelligence Committee last week I was not surprised. Clapper charged, without offering any evidence, that the Snowden disclosures had caused "profound damage" and endangered American lives. And all who have aided Snowden are, it appears, guilty of treason in Clapper's eyes.

Clapper and many others who have come out of the military discern no difference between terrorists and reporters, and by reporters I am not referring to the boot-licking courtiers on television and in Washington who masquerade as reporters. Carry out an interview with a member of al-Qaida, as I have, and you become in the eyes of generals like Clapper a member of al-Qaida. Most generals I know recognize no need for an independent press. The munchkins who dutifully sit through their press briefings or follow them around in preapproved press pools and publish their lies are the generals' idea of journalism.

When I was in Central America the U.S. officers who were providing support to the military of El Salvador or Guatemala, along with help to the Contra forces then fighting the Sandinista government in Nicaragua, did not distinguish between us journalists and the rebel forces or the leftist Sandinista government. We were one and the same. The reporters and photographers, often after a day or two of hiking to reach small villages, would report on massacres by the Salvadoran army, the Guatemalan army or the Contras. When the stories appeared, the U.S. officers usually would go volcanic. But their rage would be directed not at those who pulled the triggers but at those who wrote about the mass killings or photographed the bodies.

This is why, after Barack Obama signed into law Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act, which permits the U.S. military to seize U.S. citizens who "substantially support" al-Qaida, the Taliban or "associated forces," to strip them of due process and to hold them indefinitely in military detention centers, I sued the president. I and my fellow plaintiffs won in U.S. District Court. When Obama appealed the ruling it was overturned. We are now trying to go to the Supreme Court. Section 1021 is a chilling reminder of what people like Clapper could do to destroy constitutional rights. They see no useful role for a free press, one that questions and challenges power, and are deeply hostile to its existence. I expect Clapper, if he has a free hand, to lock us up, just as the Egyptian military has arrested a number of Al-Jazeera journalists, including some Westerners, on terrorism-related charges. The military mind is amazingly uniform.

The U.S. military has won the ideological war. The nation sees human and social problems as military problems. To fight terrorists Americans have become terrorists. Peace is for the weak. War is for the strong. Hypermasculinity has triumphed over empathy. We Americans speak to the world exclusively in the language of force. And those who oversee our massive security and surveillance state seek to speak to us in the same demented language. All other viewpoints are to be shut out. "In the absence of contrasting views, the very highest form of propaganda warfare can be fought: the propaganda for a definition of reality within which only certain limited viewpoints are possible," C. Wright Mills wrote. "What is being promulgated and reinforced is the military metaphysics-the cast of mind that defines international reality as basically military."

This is why people like James Clapper and the bloated military and security and surveillance apparatus must not have unchecked power to conduct wholesale surveillance, to carry out extraordinary renditions and to imprison Americans indefinitely as terrorists. This is why the nation, as our political system remains mired in paralysis, must stop glorifying military values. In times of turmoil the military always seems to be a good alternative. It presents the facade of order. But order in the military, as the people of Egypt are now learning again, is akin to slavery. It is the order of a prison. And that is where Clapper and his fellow generals and intelligence chiefs would like to place any citizen who dares to question their unimpeded right to turn us all into mindless recruits. They have the power to make their demented dreams a reality. And it is our task to take this power from them.
(c) 2014 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 and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. His latest book is, ""Death Of The Liberal Class."

How The Super Bowl Became A Super Boondoggle That Fleeces Taxpayers
By David Sirota

The Super Bowl is different things to different people. To many, it is a cherished national holiday that provides a much-needed mid-winter excuse to host a Thanksgiving-like shindig with friends and family. To others like author Steve Almond, it is a hideous example of how American culture happily celebrate - rather than deplores - brutality and violence that results in paralysis, brain damage and suicide (and possibly at some point, on-field death). To still others, the thousands of reporters converging to cover the game prove that for all the laments by media organizations that they have no resources to cover news, they have plenty of resources to aggressively cover frivolities like a football game.

To me it is all these things all at once, but it is also more than that. In the midst of cuts to social programs, the Super Bowl is empirical evidence of how America eagerly prioritizes games over even the most basic human needs. That backwards value system is enabled by what I've previously called Selective a Deficit Disorder. It is a pathology whereby public budget deficits are cited as a rationale to eviscerate the social safety net, and yet those deficits are selectively ignored when it comes time to spend money on anything (a subsidy, a procurement contract, a war, etc.) that gives taxpayer cash to politically powerful corporations.

As previously reported here at Pando, Silicon Valley is increasingly a beneficiary of Selective Deficit Disorder. At the state and municipal level, local governments plead poverty to justify slashing social services, all while handing out lucrative tax breaks for server farms and corporate headquarters. Likewise, the federal government gets in on the action by citing deficits to slash food stamps and unemployment, while throwing ever-more cash at the tech-sector's private intelligence industry.

But this is far more than just a tech-sector story, as this week so clearly proves. Indeed, in the span of just a few days, there was a damning report showing that states cutting worker pensions in the name of austerity are profligately spending on corporate handouts; there was a new farm bill that cuts food stamps in the name of deficit reduction yet preserves massive subsidies to politically connected agribusinesses; and now the same states slashing social spending in the name of fiscal responsibility are hosting an expensive taxpayer-subsidized football game.

Pro Sports: Your taxpayer dollars at work

No single industry exemplifies Selective Deficit Disorder like sports. Detroit tells one microcosmic story. There, public officials are making a fiscal-responsibility argument in their push to slash the average municipal worker's $19,000-a-year pension. At the same time, those officials are reassuring private professional sports franchises that massive public subsidies for a new stadium will go forward as planned.

As The Atlantic's Gregg Easterbrook exhaustively documents, this political scheme which transfers wealth to multi-billion-dollar sports leagues has been replicated all over America. In the name of fiscal responsibility, politicians today demand cuts to public workers' pensions, education and basic government services. They then turn right around and throw cash at already-lucrative sports industries.

At the collegiate level, this means resources generated by ever-higher student fees at public universities being used to subsidize big-time NCAA sports and coaches' multi-million-dollar salaries. At the professional level, it means public resources that could be going into social services instead going to finance stadium construction and maintenance costs. It also means special breaks that both allow individual teams to reduce their tax bills and permit multi-billion-dollar leagues to pay no taxes at all. And this is all done, by the way, even though there is almost little proof that such giveaways provide a real macroeconomic benefit to local communities.

As the Brookings Institution reports in a study confirmed by other analyses:

A new sports facility has an extremely small (perhaps even negative) effect on overall economic activity and employment. No recent facility appears to have earned anything approaching a reasonable return on investment. No recent facility has been self-financing in terms of its impact on net tax revenues. Regardless of whether the unit of analysis is a local neighborhood, a city, or an entire metropolitan area, the economic benefits of sports facilities are de minimus.
The NFL Boondoggle

Out of all the sports enterprises benefiting from this pillage, none has more deftly exploited Selective Deficit Disorder than the National Football League.

During this era of budget austerity, Bloomberg News reports that pro football teams have raked in $18.5 billion in stadium subsidies, or more than $900 million a year over the last 20 years. And that's on top of all the other special tax breaks that allow the $9-billion-a-year league to avoid paying the taxes that other businesses (are supposed to) pay.

Each year, the Super Bowl is the ritualistic cash-burning orgy that celebrates these rip offs, and, in the process, puts Selective Deficit Disorder on display for all to see.

For example, as the federal government considers a new round of budget cuts, it - and not the profitable NFL - will be spending heavily on security for the game. If history is any guide, it will also probably spend money on celebratory spectacles.

At the local level, it's even worse for taxpayers, as evidenced by this year's game in the New York City region.

There, at the same time New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and his administration officials have refused to adequately fund schools and demanded government be "more efficient" by slashing public worker pay, they are not only pushing new corporate tax cuts and an estate tax cut for the super-rich, they are also spending millions of taxpayer dollars on Super Bowl revelry. That included a taxpayer-financed party for more than 3,500 members of the media. As Capital New York reported, that one gala saw the state "paying $100 a head from the $5 million Governor Cuomo secured in the state budget" for such festivities. That is on top of the additional security costs that New York taxpayers will be forced to finance.

On the other side of the Hudson River, it is even more offensive. As Gov. Chris Christie (R) has slashed the pensions of his state's workers and reduced education funding, he has already had his state cough up almost $18 million to subsidize Sunday's game. That is in addition to the $400 million the New York Times notes New Jersey taxpayers spent to improve the Meadowlands. It is also in addition to the special tax breaks New Jersey gave the NFL.

Just as they pretend stadium subsidies are reliable tools of economic stimulus, politicians insist that Super Bowl subsidies are investments that will generate far bigger returns for taxpayers. More specifically, they insist Super Bowls generate somewhere between $550 million and $600 million for host cities, even though, as the New York Times notes, there is no verifiable proof that such estimates are vaguely accurate. In fact, the evidence suggests the opposite. It suggests, in short, that just like stadium-subsidies often do not boost local economies, Super Bowls do not produce the promised return on investment, and certainly nothing close to a half billion dollars or more of revenue.

USA Today reports that "the nation's sports economists (say) the actual number is a fair bit lower. Like, maybe, zero." Economist Andrew Zimbalist says it is probably a bit higher than that, but in summing up the data from past Super Bowls, he concludes: "What is strikingly clear from this scholarly work is that what the NFL is putting out is just PR hype. The numbers have no relation to the actual effect."

In sum, there may be a short-term spending boost in a host city, but that doesn't produce anywhere near the revenues to cover for all the stadium subsidies and other public subsidies that the NFL typically requires of prospective host cities.

The Omerta of the sports-industrial complex

Of course, sports' embodiment of Selective Deficit Disorder is rarely discussed in all the media noise around athletics. Why? Probably because so many media corporations are themselves financially tied to the larger Sports-Industrial Complex, and such ties instill a powerful omerta. That code of silence is only strengthened when, say, the governor of New York spends his taxpayers' hard-earned money to wine and dine 3,500 reporters. When that happens, reporters aren't going to be too eager to seriously scrutinize the spending decisions, much less contrast them with that governor's other budget cuts.

At the same time, though, the omerta has also existed outside the media bubble. America loves its sports and hates its politics, and you get the sense that many haven't wanted to honestly evaluate the unseemly connection between the two.

But, then, that may be changing. Polls are starting to show some real awareness of - and opposition to - how we prioritize sports over other human needs. Meanwhile, a few cities have recently seen grassroots left-right uprisings against stadium subsidies. It seems that with the economy struggling and inequality rising, the old corrupt politics that siphons more and more public cash into sports industries may be transforming from something society tolerated into a symbol of a much larger problem.

In all of its taxpayer-subsidized chintziness, gaudiness and America-fuck-yeah-ness, the Super Bowl is the most gratuitous of those symbols, one telling us to wake up and make a change.
(c) 2014 David Sirota is a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist, magazine journalist and the best-selling author of "Hostile Takeover" and "The Uprising." He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado and blogs at E-mail him at David Sirota is a former spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee. Follow him on Twitter @davidsirota.

Delusions Of Failure
By Paul Krugman

The Republican response to the State of the Union was delivered by Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Republican representative from Washington - and it was remarkable for its lack of content. A bit of uplifting personal biography, a check list of good things her party wants to happen with no hint of how it plans to make them happen.

The closest she came to substance was when she described a constituent, "Bette in Spokane," who supposedly faced a $700-a-month premium hike after her policy was canceled. "This law is not working," intoned Ms. McMorris Rodgers. And right there we see a perfect illustration of just how Republicans are trying to deceive voters - and are, in the process, deceiving themselves.

I'll get back to "Bette in Spokane" in a minute, but first, is Obamacare "not working"?

Everyone knows about the disastrous rollout, but that was months ago. Since then, health reform has been steadily making up lost ground. At this point enrollments in the health exchanges are only about a million below Congressional Budget Office projections, and rising faster than projected. So a best guess is that by the time 2014 enrollment closes on March 31, there will be more than six million Americans signed up through the exchanges, versus seven million projected. Sign-ups might even meet the projection.

But isn't Obamacare in a "death spiral," in which only the old and sick are signing up, so that premiums will soon soar? Not according to the people who should know - the insurance companies. True, one company, Humana, says that the risk pool is worse than it expected. But others, including WellPoint and Aetna, are optimistic (which isn't a contradiction: different companies could be having different experiences). And the Kaiser Family Foundation, which has run the numbers, finds that even a bad risk pool would have only a minor effect on premiums.

Now, some, perhaps many, of those signing up on the exchanges aren't newly insured; they're replacing their existing policies, either voluntarily or because those policies didn't meet the law's standards. But those standards are there for a reason - the same reason health insurance is now mandatory. Health reform won't work if people go uninsured, then sign up when they get sick. It also can't work if currently healthy people only buy fig-leaf insurance, which offers hardly any coverage.

And what this means, in turn, is that while we don't know yet how many people will be newly insured under reform, we do know that even those who already had insurance are, on average, getting much better insurance. Since the goal of health reform was to make Americans more secure - to reduce their risk of being unable to afford needed health care, or of facing financial ruin if they get sick - the law is doing its job.

Which brings me back to Bette in Spokane.

Bette's tale had policy wonks scratching their heads; it was hard to see, given what we know about premiums and how the health law works, how anyone could face that large a rate increase. Sure enough, when a local newspaper, The Spokesman-Review, contacted Bette Grenier, it discovered that the real story was very different from the image Ms. McMorris Rodgers conveyed. First of all, she was comparing her previous policy with one of the pricier alternatives her insurance company was offering - and she refused to look for cheaper alternatives on the Washington insurance exchange, declaring, "I wouldn't go on that Obama website."

Even more important, all Ms. Grenier and her husband had before was a minimalist insurance plan, with a $10,000 deductible, offering very little financial protection. So yes, the new law requires that they spend more, but they would get far better coverage in return.

So was this the best story Ms. McMorris Rodgers could come up with? The answer, probably, is yes, since just about every tale of health reform horror the G.O.P. has tried to peddle has similarly fallen apart once the details were revealed. The truth is that the campaign against Obamacare relies on misleading stories at best, and often on outright deceit.

Who pays the price for this deceit? In many cases, American families. Although health care enrollment is actually going pretty well at this point, thousands and maybe millions of Americans have failed to sign up for coverage because they believe the false horror stories they keep hearing.

But conservative politicians aren't just deceiving their constituents; they're also deceiving themselves. Right now, Republican political strategy seems to be to stall on every issue, and reap the rewards from Obamacare's inevitable collapse. Well, Obamacare isn't collapsing - it's recovering pretty well from a terrible start. And by the time that reality sinks in on the right, health reform will be irreversible.
(c) 2014 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

"The American people are free to do exactly what they are told."
~~~ Ward Churchill

Lt. Chuck Nadd and his girlfriend wave as they ride on the wagon pulled by Clydesdales
aboard the famously-red Budweiser beer wagon in a parade, led by a marching band in Winter
Park, Fla. The brewer fashioned an ad around the parade that ran during the Super Bowl.

The Super Bowl Of War: Three Decades Of Failure In Afghanistan
By Robert Scheer

A Budweiser commercial during the Super Bowl, that annual celebration of violence as sport, featured a most joyous homecoming for a U.S. veteran of the Afghan War. It was a fitting tribute to the fact that he survived, but you would have to be drunk on Bud not to notice that the three decades since the United States first meddled in Afghanistan have been an unequivocal disaster and that those who did not survive—NATO combatants and far larger number of Afghan natives—died in vain.

This was a point made clearly but largely unnoticed on that day of obligatory patriotic flag waving in an interview with Hamid Karzai, the U.S. anointed leader of Afghanistan, who told British newspaper The Sunday Times of London that "I saw no good" resulting from yet another American adventure in imperial democracy:

"This whole 12 years was one of constant pleading with America to treat the lives of our civilians as lives of people," Karzai stated, continuing his denunciation of the terror of anti-terrorism exemplified by Bush's orgy of torture followed by Obama's drone attacks that traumatize the Afghan countryside. Karzai, no stranger to corruption and contradiction, has refused to sign a pact authorizing a continued and much reduced U.S. presence in his country unless all such unilateral military attacks on his people are ended. As for the Taliban enemy that the U.S. invasion had temporarily deposed, Karzai referred to them as "brothers" while he dismissed his erstwhile American sponsors as "rivals," indicating that Obama now has his own "mission accomplished" embarrassment.

Maybe that dismal outcome of the Obama-ordered surge, comparable to the ultimate failure of Bush's in Iraq, is why Karzai observed that he and Obama have not spoken directly since June. For the Democratic hawks, Afghanistan was going to be the good war, but Obama has learned, as did then-President Jimmy Carter more than 30 years ago, that the Afghans are not to be toyed with.

In Carter's case back in the late 1970s, he was convinced by Zbigniew Brzezinski, the president's terminally confident national security adviser, that supporting Muslim extremists to overthrow a secular pro-Soviet government in power in Kabul would draw our main international adversary into its version of our Vietnam quagmire. What fun but the strategy failed, and the Soviets didn't invade until the U.S. imported sufficient foreign fighters to destabilize a country on their border.

When Obama, back in December 2009, launched a troop "surge" in Afghanistan, he argued that "we did not ask for this fight," but of course we did. To know that, all he had to do was ask his then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who had been an adviser to Carter and, in a 1996 memoir, exposed "Carter's never-before-revealed covert support to Afghan mujahedeen six months before the Soviets invaded."

After Gates' admission, French magazine Le Nouvel Observateur asked Brzezinski whether he regretted "having given arms and advice to future terrorists," and he replied: "What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet Empire? Some stirred up Muslims or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?"

He said that in 1998, and three years later, "some stirred up Muslims" flew hijacked planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The eradication of their movement became our national obsession, one that justified raising U.S. military expenditures back to the highest levels of the Cold War, even though there was no technologically significant enemy to justify this restoration of the power and the glory of the military-industrial complex.

In the process, we have come to sacrifice the basic rights of the individual enshrined in our Constitution in the name of finding what our last president, in his comic book lingo, termed the "evildoers," without ever conceding that they were once, as President Reagan defined them, our "freedom fighters." Bush's vice president, Dick Cheney, a former top exec at defense contractor Halliburton, must have chuckled at that one, knowing full well that a primitive enemy holed up in mountain caves could not justify blowing trillions on the most sophisticated oceangoing aircraft carriers, stealth fighters and other relics of an era when we had a militarily significant enemy.

It seemed to make sense only when both Republican Bush and Democrat Obama, in Afghanistan and Iraq, invoked the imagery of democratic nation building but instead exploited sectarian and tribal differences. Those efforts succeeded only in upending what remained of the stabilizing social order in both countries and have unleashed a never-ending cycle of violence providing invaluable propaganda for the al-Qaida elements we claimed to be eradicating.

"The money they should have paid to the police," Karzai said, "they paid to private security firms and creating militias who caused lawlessness, corruption and highway robbery. What they did was create pockets of wealth and a vast countryside of deprivation and anger."

Hey no problem, war is just another violent game we love to play. America, this Bud's for you.
(c) 2014 Robert Scheer is the editor of Truthdig. A journalist with over 30 years experience, Scheer has built his reputation on the strength of his social and political writing. His columns have appeared in newspapers across the country, and his in-depth interviews have made headlines. He is the author, most recently, of "The Pornography of Power: How Defense Hawks Hijacked 9/11 and Weakened America," published by Twelve Books.

Hate The Super Rich
By Joel S. Hirschhorn

There are times when hatred is a needed, logical and moral stance to take. Evil, injustice and corruption are fine examples of what to appropriately hate. For the overwhelming majority of people it is now rational to hate the super rich, notably the thousands of billionaires holding most of the world's wealth and wielding power over political and economic systems. They have been successfully raping the global economy and while doing that have kept increasing their wealth as well as economic inequality afflicting ordinary people. One dollar, one vote describes the new reality.

Before discussing some basic reasons to hate the super rich consider some facts about them.

How many billionaires are there? According to the inaugural Wealth-X and UBS Billionaire Census 2013, the global billionaire population reached a record 2,170 individuals in 2013, with a combined net worth of $6.5 trillion. What happened after the most recent global economic meltdown? Some 810 individuals became billionaires since the 2009 global financial crisis. In other words, plain millionaires moved up to billionaire status.

But the super rich include many more than the billionaires, because the top one percent on the economic scale have monster size wealth, according to a new report Working for the Few. The one percent of the richest people in the world have $110 trillion. That equates to some 65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the world's population. But among the millions of the top one percent, the richest 85 people, true billionaires, have wealth equal to the bottom half of the world's population. As to the US, the wealthiest one percent captured 95 percent of post-financial crisis growth since 2009, while the bottom 90 percent became poorer. That leaves 9 percent, about 30 million Americans, in the upper class that did very well as they strive to make it into the top one percent.

When people talk about economic, wealth or income inequality they are really talking about the incredibly small fraction of the richest people relative to the larger population that still are not sharing in the global jackpot, no matter how hard they work. Inequality means that money is not being fairly distributed. There have been times in history when prosperity was shared, as in the several decades after World War II.

No surprise that only 7 percent of Americans, according to a Gallup report, currently feel "very satisfied" with our nation's distribution of income and wealth. Similarly, a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that 81 percent of Americans believe the economy is working very or fairly well for the wealthy, compared to 22 percent for the middle class.

Why hate the super rich and the rising economic inequality that benefits them?

This distorted economic system means that democracy is more delusional than real. Consider this: Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once said, "We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of the few, but we cannot have both." Truly wise words.

The near total lack of public confidence in Congress, both major political parties and the whole political system by Americans goes hand-in-hand with the perverted economic system. You have every right to hate the super rich because for a long time in many visible and invisible ways they have intentionally manipulated the political system to create and maintain the unjust economic system. Their economic power gives them political power. Rather than one person one vote, think in terms of one dollar one vote.

Hate the super rich because their degree of wealth and power is obscene.

Hate the super rich because they persecute the vast majority of people worldwide. Some of the super rich play up their charitable activities, but that does not negate all the evil consequences of economic inequality on the daily lives of billions of people.

Hate the super rich because their greed is ungodly. If true democracy is to be restored, then Americans need to be much more than dissatisfied. They need to get more emotional. They need to hate. Then they must convert that hatred into political demands and actions.
(c) 2014 Joel S. Hirschhorn observed our corrupt federal government firsthand as a senior official with the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the National Governors Association and is the author of Delusional Democracy - Fixing the Republic Without Overthrowing the Government. To discuss issues write the author. The author has a Ph.D. in Materials Engineering and was formerly a full professor of metallurgical engineering at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

The Dead Letter Office...

Dr. Giaquinto in happier times

Heil Obama,

Dear Doktor Giaquinto,

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, George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Prescott Bush, Sam Bush, Fredo Bush, Kate Bush, Kyle Busch, Anheuser Busch, Vidkun Quisling and last year's winner Volksjudge John (the enforcer) Roberts.

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your running public schools as a business no matter if children go hungry, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, Iran and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other educational 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 1st class presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 03-15-2014. We salute you Frau Giaquinto, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

Why Widening Inequality Is Hobbling Equal Opportunity
By Robert Reich

Is it to be inequality or equal opportunity?

Under a headline "Obama Moves to the Right in a Partisan War of Words," The New York Times' Jackie Calmes notes Democratic operatives have been hitting back hard against the President or any other Democratic politician talking about income inequality, preferring that the Democrats talk about equality of opportunity instead.

"However salient reducing inequality may be," writes Democratic pollster Mark Mellman, "it is demonstrably less important to voters than any other number of priorities, incudlng reducing poverty."

The President may be listening. Wags noticed that in his State of the Union, Obama spoke ten times of increasing "opportunity" and only twice of income inequality, while in a December speech he spoke of income inequality two dozen times.

But the President and other Democrats - and even Republicans, for that matter - should focus on the facts, not the polls, and not try to dress up what's been happening with more soothing words and phrases.

In fact, America's savage inequality is the main reason equal opportunity is fading and poverty is growing. Since the "recovery" began, 95% of the gains have gone to the top 1 percent, and median incomes have dropped. This is a continuation of the trend we've seen for decades. As a result:

(1) The sinking middle class no longer has enough purchasing power to keep the economy growing and creating sufficient jobs. The share of working-age Americans still in the labor force is the lowest in more than thirty years.

(2) The shrinking middle isn't generating enough tax revenue for adequate education, training, safety nets, and family services. And when they're barely holding on, they can't afford to - and don't want to - pay more.

(3) Meanwhile, America's rich are accumulating not just more of the country's total income and wealth, but also the political power that accompanies money. And they're using that power to reduce their own taxes, and get corporate welfare (subsidies, bailouts, tax cuts) for their businesses.

All this means less equality of opportunity in America.

Obama was correct in December when he called widening inequality "the defining challenge of our time." He mustn't back down now even if Democratic pollsters tell him to. If we're ever to reverse this noxious trend, Americans have to hear the truth.
(c) 2014 Robert Reich is Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written twelve books, including The Work of Nations, Locked in the Cabinet, and his most recent book, "Beyond Outrage," is now out in paperback. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause. His new film, "Inequality for All," will be out September 27.

Obama State of the Union.President Barack Obama reviews his speech one last time
while waiting in a room at the U.S. Capitol prior to delivering the State of the
Union address in the House Chamber in Washington, DC, January 28, 2014.

The Sugar Makes The Poison Taste Sweet
By William Rivers Pitt

The President of the United States gave the annual State of the Union address on Tuesday night, and if you ask the right people, they'll tell you it was well and truly a barn-burner. President Obama dropped so many left-leaning, frown-inducing lines on the Republicans arrayed before him that Speaker Boehner, visible over the president's shoulder, changed hues from his standard orange to alarming red to call-the-paramedics purple on several notable occasions.

Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) stormed out of the chamber before the speech was finished. Rep. Randy Weber (R-Also TX) sent out a Tweet calling Mr. Obama the "Kommandant-In-Chef" before the speech even began. After the speech was over, no less than four Republican members of Congress - plus Ron Paul, who threw his two bent cents in for good measure - rose up to offer rebuttals, each of which went in their own merrily deranged direction, serving to underscore the shattered state of today's GOP. It was the Sybil Syndrome on network television, with neckties and Jesus thrown in to boot.

If you're not a fan of the Republicans in Congress, which you probably aren't according to all available polling data, it sounds like Tuesday was a pretty great night. If you deal with politics the way those little skimmer summer bugs deal with the surface of your favorite lake, it was. The president talked about income inequality, job creation, environmental protection, education, women's rights, voting rights, health care, and the warfare industry. Mr. Obama hit all the g-spots, and made it sound like he was just the guy to get it all done.

But then, if you're smart, you read the damned speech in detail...and if you did, like as not you have some serious questions to ask.

Questions, for example, like why Mr. Obama spent a good portion of his speech sounding for all the world like an Occupy Wall Street protester before turning on a dime to bend his knee to the failed religion of free-market economics. He did not say the words "Trans-Pacific Partnership." He did, however, say this: "Over the past five years, my administration has made more loans to small business owners than any other. And when ninety-eight percent of our exporters are small businesses, new trade partnerships with Europe and the Asia-Pacific will help them create more jobs."

Moles burrowed deep underground know by now that he wants that trade deal, and wants Congress to give him fast-track authority to get it done as soon as possible, despite the fact that the whole thing has been negotiated in secret, and will be, if ratified, caustic to American jobs in general, labor rights, environmental protections and human rights across the board. The Trans-Pacific Partnership, like its smaller cousin NAFTA, will not "create more jobs" as the president said Tuesday night, but will suck jobs out of the country and send them flying overseas. Again.

And then there is the question of why the president sounded like a Greenpeace activist when discussing environmental protections, before turning on a dime once again to promote a gas-mining practice called "fracking" that has already done lasting pollutive damage to communities all across the country. There are places in America, right this very minute, where you can light the tap water on fire because of the residue left over by this practice. A number of other countries have banned the process outright, but on Tuesday night, the president of the United States was hats-over-the-windmill thrilled by the prospect of spreading fracking far and wide. "In a fact sheet accompanying the speech," noted The Hill on Wednesday morning, "the White House called on Congress to establish 'sustainable shale gas growth zones.'"

Fracking is not sustainable. I guess that didn't make it into the notes for the speech. Can't imagine why.

And as we're on the subject of the environment, there's this state on the Eastern seaboard called West Virginia that Mr. Obama is president of along with the other 49. A company called Freedom Industries dumped poison into the water supply - two separate and distinct poisons, as it turns out - and left 300,000 people, their businesses, their schools, their hospitals, their retirement homes, without water to drink or bathe in or cook with for days and days and days.

According to Industry Specialists, the water is safe to drink now...but here's the funny part: the poison(s) that got dumped into the water supply have a funny way of breaking down into formaldehyde after a time, which they now have, and so all those West Virginians who had to avoid drinking the water are now drinking and cooking with and showering in - read "ingesting and breathing in" - a known carcinogen, and no one seems to be dealing with it. The president made no mention of that state, those citizens, or the industry that poisoned the water in the first place. If there is right now a better example of why we need stricter environmental regulations to protect the American people from these kinds of incidents, I'm not aware of it...and the president gave it a miss.

So three cheers to the wonderful rhetoric Mr. Obama devoted to the environment in his speech on Tuesday night. So long as you ignore the hazards of fracking, and ignore entirely the state of West Virginia (mission accomplished, Mr. President), he sounded for all the world like a true green hero. And since he also didn't mention the Keystone XL pipeline, we all get to wait to find out if he's going to green-light a fragile tube that will transport the dirtiest oil available on Earth across America's breadbasket and over our most vital water aquifer.

And then...and then, there was Cory Remsburg, the last invited guest Mr. Obama made note of. Remsburg, an Army Ranger, was injured by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan during his tenth deployment.

His tenth deployment.

His tenth deployment.

Cory Remsburg rose up before that parliament of whores, disfigured, maimed for life, and was duly recognized for his service and devotion to country. He received a deafening ovation from a room filled with the worst people in the country, many of whom voted over and over again to send him back to war ten times over, who cheered so loudly to cover over their shame...including the president himself, whose Afghanistan "surge" played its own part in putting Cory Remsburg in the path of the bomb that left him barely able to stand, blind in one eye, and forever damaged.

The President of the United States made no mention of the insanity of any soldier having to endure ten deployments, made no mention of the concept of actions and consequences, even as he stood before the loudest microphone on the planet. Perhaps he and his people thought the face of Cory Remsburg said it for him, and if so, that is another sorry example of the eleventy-dimension chess being played by an administration which is trying to run a country that only knows, politically, how to play checkers.

There are times when real leaders have to say things out loud into microphones, even when those things are so obvious that they bleed on the pavement. What happened to Cory Remsburg was wrong. It was, in fact, a crime, a long act of profiteering that has fed tens of thousands of men and women like him into the meat grinder, to be spat out into a VA system that is utterly overwhelmed and paralyzed before the avalanche of bodies it is tasked to help.

Instead, Mr. Obama said this: "My fellow Americans, men and women like Cory remind us that America has never come easy. Our freedom, our democracy, has never been easy. Sometimes we stumble; we make mistakes; we get frustrated or discouraged. But for more than two hundred years, we have put those things aside and placed our collective shoulder to the wheel of progress..."

We have put those things aside? Cory Remsburg, and the tens of thousands of soldiers who share his damage, cannot put those things aside. Mr. Obama turned that soldier's plight into a pep rally for the country that fed him to the bomb that almost killed him.

"Sometimes we stumble; we make mistakes" was the only apology that ravaged Ranger got from his Commander in Chief. He deserved far more than that, as do all the men and women not lucky enough to get applause from Congress on television.

It is easy peasy for politicians to talk about putting difficult issues "aside," out of mind, away. That's the bread and butter of the Teflon not-my-problem political hack. Leaders, real leaders, address those difficult issues head-on. They challenge we the people to take them head-on, as well, and that is how we heal and rise and move on. That did not happen on Tuesday night. Again.

If you ask the right people, they'll tell you it was a great speech.

Ask me, and I'll tell you I saw a man talk like an Occupy protester while promoting the same tired, failed economic principles that spawned our yawning inequality in the first place. I saw a man talk like a Greenpeace activist while promoting or ignoring the dirtiest fuel industries in the business. I saw a man honor a ten-times-deployed wounded veteran with an "Oops." I saw a man talking very eloquently out of both sides of his mouth, again, and it made me sick in my soul.

"Between the idea and the reality," said a poet, "falls the Shadow."

It's the sugar that makes the poison taste sweet.
(c) 2014 William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of three books: "War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know" and "The Greatest Sedition Is Silence." His newest book, "House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation." He lives and works in Boston.

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Pat Bagley ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Bill Maher Blasts NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio For Slut-shaming From The Left
By Bill Maher

And finally, New Rule: if polls show we now live in an America that can accept gay marriage and legal marijuana, it's time we knocked over the next social domino - Puritanism. Especially as it pertains to our elected leaders. Let's stop being a nation of grad school prudes about adult consensual sex, and accept that politicians aren't Boy Scouts. That's just a costume they wear on Grindr.

Now for the last month, France has made headlines around the world because the boring guy they elected President last year turns out to be not so boring. President François Hollande never married the mother of his four children, who he broke up with a few years ago for a younger woman, who herself has now been dumped for an actress - a move the French refer to as Le Gingrich.

But as always, the French just shrug and go back to eating snails. Overwhelmingly, they say it's none of their business, and hasn't changed their opinion of Hollande. Why is everyone in the Western world better about sex than America?

Last weekend, in the middle of his zany sex farce, President Hollande dropped in on a new European neighbor who just moved in to the palace down the street. A guy you might expect to be all holier than thou. But Pope Francis was totally cool about it.

Look at the two of them. It's like, "Duuuuude." "Duuuuude."

Now contrast that to New York City, where a woman named Lis Smith, who ran Mayor Bill de Blasio's communications department in last year's campaign, was all set to take over the job she earned as his top spokesman, but then didn't, because the tabloids found out something about her. Was it that she lied on her resume? Or accepted gifts from a lobbyist? Injected Alex Rodriguez with steroids? Nope. It's that she's dating Eliot Spitzer - America's evilest, horniest man.

Which according to the New York Post, made her a "Ho! Ho! Ho!"

Because over there in Salem on the Hudson, apparently we're not just rooting out adulterers now, we're rooting out anyone who dates them. The Post righteously demanded that Mayor de Blasio dump her. And he did just that!

So I would like to ask, what exactly is the sin here? She's an adult in a consensual relationship with another adult, who's in the process of divorcing his spouse. What business do we have, telling her who she can date? This is the country that marries people off on reality shows!

You know, there's all this self-congratulation on the left these days for gay tolerance. Acceptance of gays is the new having a black friend! But when liberals say - and rightly so - that everyone should be allowed to love who they want, that doesn't include these two?

You know, Republicans are getting a lot of flak these days - as they should - for waging a war on women. But what's the excuse of the country's most progressive mayor - a man so liberal he married a black lesbian?

I think the guy who wrote What's the Matter with Kansas? really should write What's the Matter with New York? Cuz I don't get it. How can this strain of Puritanism endure in the same city that pioneered the kinky Halloween parade?

It was bad enough when New York went all Rick Santorum on Eliot Spitzer to begin with. He's only the guy who arguably did more to reform Wall Street than any other American. Yeah, his libido got the best of him, and he paid dearly for it. A brilliant man was reduced to a punch line, and banished from public life. But now, anybody he touches has to go?

This isn't even a sex scandal. It's slut-shaming from the left. I think Lis Smith should hire John Edwards as her lawyer, and sue the new administration for sex discrimination. And then Edwards, Spitzer, Anthony Weiner, and Bill Clinton should get together with the ghosts of JFK, LBJ, FDR, Thomas Jefferson, and Martin Luther King, and form a new party - the Perverts with Principles Party. And then America should grow up!
(c) 2014 Bill Maher is host of HBO's, "Real Time with Bill Maher"and is an author, most recently, of "The New New Rules."

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Issues & Alibis Vol 14 # 05 (c) 02/07/2014

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