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In This Edition

Noam Chomsky with the first of a two parter, "Hegemony And Its Dilemmas."

Uri Avnery warns of a, "Storm Over Hebron."

Matt Taibbi finds, "Blankfein The Wrong Spokesman For Gay Rights."

David Sirota asks, "Can The 1 Percent Accept 'Enough?'"

Jim Hightower suggests we, "Take A Ride In Rick's Head."

Amy Goodman reports on, "The Afghan War's Nine Lives."

James Donahue wonders, "Is The Afghan Fighting About The Gold?"

Greg Palast explores, "The Billionaires' Brokered GOP Convention."

David Swanson writes a letter to the editor about, "War Propaganda In The Anti-War Punditry."

Phil Rockstroh sings, "My Biohazard Valentine."

Paul Krugman studies the, "Severe Conservative Syndrome."

Jane Ayers with a must read, "300,000 Organic Farmers Sue Monsanto In Federal Court."

Bill Moyers and Michael Winship concludes, "Money Throws Democracy Overboard."

Fox Spews pundit, Liz Trotta wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

William Rivers Pitt says, "When Clint Eastwood Mocks You, You're Officially Screwed."

Michael Moore celebrates, "A 75th Anniversary For The American Dream, A 25-Year Anniversary For Me."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Will Durst calls Willard a, "Tone Deaf Tin Eared Borg" but first Uncle Ernie examines, "The Inevitability Of War."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Mike Keefe, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Derf City, Propaganda Remix.Com, Khalil Bendib, Proof Positive, Bullion Street, Willie Nelson, The Washington Examiner, Mark Wilson/Getty Images, 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."

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The Inevitability Of War
By Ernest Stewart

"So long as there are men, there will be wars." ~~~ Albert Einstein

"Just like communities and individuals have been affected, the foreclosure crisis has had an effect on the state of Wisconsin, in terms of unemployment. ... This will offset that damage done to the state of Wisconsin." ~~~ Scott Walker

"Rape within the US military has become so widespread that it is estimated that a female soldier in Iraq is more likely to be attacked by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire." ~~~ Lucy Broadbent

"Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got 'til its gone?"
Big Yellow Taxi ~~~ Joni Mitchell


"Every war when it comes, or before it comes, is represented not as a war but as an act of self-defense against a homicidal maniac." ~~~ George Orwell

George certainly knew what he was talking about, didn't he? You may recall all that being said and done about Saddam. Do you remember Kinda-Sleazy and her rant about Mushroom clouds or Powell's little song and dance about WMDs in front of the United Nations? Or, for you old folks, you may recall those outright lies involving the "Gulf of Tonkin" incident? All lies, all the time, and all illegal, for many reasons, as well!

Next on the hit list is Iran! They fit our current hit list because they are brown-skinned, Islamic, stand in Israel's way of conquering and subjugating the Middle East (for a start), and they have all that lovely oil! Those, and only those, are the reasons for our next group of war crimes and crime against humanity. Anyone telling you otherwise is either a fool, or a liar -- or, most likely, both!

Also, as much as Israel wants to, she won't attack Iran, as Russia has warned about what will happen if she does, and then we'll have to have an atomic war with Russia after she wipes out Israel; so we'll have to attack Iran just as soon as we can create a false flag attack that can be blamed on Iran -- which is what our oldest, about-to-be-retired, aircraft carrier USS Enterprise is doing there. Can't you just hear it now: those dirty Iranians have killed Capt. Kirk -- this means war! Strangely enough, that isn't as crazy and far-fetched as it sounds!

In fact, Barry's reelection chances hinge on starting a new, unneeded, uncalled-for war. We know, Israel knows, and most of the rest of the world knows, that Iran isn't building nuclear weapons, and for the life of me, I can't figure out why she shouldn't be. If I were Iran, that would be first and foremost in my plans, as we or Israel have never attacked an atomic power. There is a reason why M.A.D. has worked so well since the 1940s -- even with our going-to-heaven-after-death crowd saying they're looking forward to it! Remember that Willard is going to become a god when he dies!

A new war is just what the 1% wants, as it will fill their coffers with even more money, and will fill their coffins with the billions of dead people that they desire as planet Earth is just a wee bit crowded -- with 6,500,000,000 folks who aren't needed by them for their plans for their Brave New World! The world, as we know it, ends on December 21, 2012 -- isn't quite as funny as it once was, huh?

In Other News

That proverbial thorn in the side of the state of Wisconsin is at it again! Scott Walker, currently being recalled, is still out trying to get a few licks in for his corpo-rat masters the Koch Brothers, and has decided to take the money coming from the banksters' foreclosure fraud that cost taxpayers billions, and homeowners their homes, and give it to, can you guess who? Those who said members of the 1% instead of the homeowners who lost their homes because of this corpo-rat hanky-panky, may stay after class and clean the erasers!

Scotty is going to take most of that money; Wisconsin is set to receive $140 million -- $31.6 million of which comes directly to the state government. And Walker is planning to use $25.6 million of that money to help balance his state's budget -- the same budget that was destroyed by Scott when his first act was to unbalance the budget by giving 100 million dollar tax breaks to the 1%, and, hence, used that as excuse to break the unions to balance the budget. Yes, I agree; if nothing else, Scott has quite a pair on him!

A memo from Wisconsin's Legislative Fiscal Bureau recently released says:

" is anticipated that Wisconsin will receive $31.6 million. Based on discussions between the Attorney General and the administration, of the amounts received by the state, $25.6 million will be deposited to the general fund as GPR-Earned in 2011-12, and the remaining $6 million will be retained by the Department of Justice, to be allocated at a later date."

To be fair, Wisconsin's government isn't the only state to take their share of the money, and not spend it where they're supposed to. Missouri just announced similar plans for screwing the little guy out of his money. There are a lot of people out there living in their cars that could really use some of that cash, but will never see a penny of it -- unless it "trickles down" at 120 mph out of a Wall Street penthouse window!

No doubt, when other red states, not to mention a few blue ones, see the examples of Wisconsin and Missouri, they, too, will rob from the poor and give to the rich -- just like their anti-hero Obamahood does!

And Finally

Folks, believe me, I've been there and done that; there's been very few things I haven't done, or seen, or tasted, or experienced, or, well, you get the picture; ergo I am ever so slightly JADED!!!

The point being, that very few things surprise or shock me; but then, I'm not a regular viewer of network news -- especially Fox Spews -- so I come across anything to do with them by second hand. Even then, this story shocked even moi!

You may recall that the Pentagoon announced new rules last week easing the ban on women serving in combat; this is nothing new, but part of a program that has been taking place over the last couple of years. Like gay marriage, where gay folk can now come to know the joys of legally being schackled to someone; so isn't it about time that women, too, could experience all the joys of raping, murdering and pillaging that their male compatriots have enjoyed since the beginning of time? Fair is fair, ya'll; isn't it?

Trouble is, Fox Spews pundit Liz Trotta got her panties in a bunch the other day, and took it a wee bit farther than the typical neo-nazi screed of women should cook, clean and raise the next group of cannon fodder!

Nope, Liz says, that any women enlisting to serve her country should expect to be raped for doing so; but she should understand that it's all her fault? I'm going to repeat that again for those of you on drugs, "Liz Trotta is a fucking idiot."

Here's what Liz said:

"But while all of this is going on, just a few weeks ago, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta commented on a new Pentagon report on sexual abuse in the military. I think they have actually discovered there is a difference between men and women. And the sexual abuse report says that there has been, since 2006, a 64% increase in violent sexual assaults. Now, what did they expect? These people are in close contact, the whole airing of this issue has never been done by Congress; it's strictly been a question of pressure from the feminists.

And the feminists have also directed them, really, to spend a lot of money. They have sexual counselors all over the place, victims' advocates, sexual response coordinators. ... So, you have this whole bureaucracy upon bureaucracy being built up with all kinds of levels of people to support women in the military who are now being raped too much."

Raped too much? Say what? WTF? I wonder what Liz thinks is just the right amount of rape? Also, how would she know? Liz has never served in the military; and looking the way that she does, I'm pretty sure that rape is something that is never going to happen to her. In fact, they could pretty much quit giving the soldiers "salt peter" in their food and issue them a nude photo of Liz -- that should take care of the rape problem! Or perhaps, they could arrest the soldiers who commit these atrocities, along with their commanders who cover it up, and lock 'em up and throw the key away. I'm betting that a few thousand assholes in the brig will send a message loud and clear!

Keepin' On

Issues & Alibis Magazine is one of the last outposts of the independent media -- a media that is owned by you and the rest of the 99% and not the 1% -- and is beginning to become a rare and precious thing. Who would you rather have the news reported by, Liz Trotter or Noam Chomsky? Would you rather listen to, Rush Limbaugh or Greg Palast. Who's analysis of financial matters do you believe Wolf Blitzer's or Paul Krugman's. Whose side are you on?

If you're reading this, then you are on our side -- the side of the vast majority of all the peoples of the world -- the 99%. Issues & Alibis has always taken the side for truth, justice and the 99% -- never the side of the 1% -- which is just the opposite of all of the Main Stream Media. We're not the ones owned by the 1%; they are! Whose side are you on?

Independent media is fast disappearing across the net and the globe, as well. As Joni Mitchell once sang, "Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got 'til its gone?" Don't let that happen to this independent magazine! The power lies in your hands, and not in your masters' hands. Send us what you can, when you can, and we'll keep fighting for you!


08-19-1963 ~ 02-11-2012
Thanks for the entertainment!

07-11-1929 ~ 02-12-2012
Thanks for the films!

10-22-1925 ~ 02-14-2012
Thanks for the music!


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) 2012 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for the last 11 years managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Face Book. Follow me on Twitter.

Hegemony And Its Dilemmas
"Losing" the World: American Decline in Perspective, Part 1
By Noam Chomsky

Significant anniversaries are solemnly commemorated -- Japan's attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, for example. Others are ignored, and we can often learn valuable lessons from them about what is likely to lie ahead. Right now, in fact.

At the moment, we are failing to commemorate the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's decision to launch the most destructive and murderous act of aggression of the post-World War II period: the invasion of South Vietnam, later all of Indochina, leaving millions dead and four countries devastated, with casualties still mounting from the long-term effects of drenching South Vietnam with some of the most lethal carcinogens known, undertaken to destroy ground cover and food crops.

The prime target was South Vietnam. The aggression later spread to the North, then to the remote peasant society of northern Laos, and finally to rural Cambodia, which was bombed at the stunning level of all allied air operations in the Pacific region during World War II, including the two atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In this, Henry Kissinger's orders were being carried out -- "anything that flies on anything that moves" -- a call for genocide that is rare in the historical record. Little of this is remembered. Most was scarcely known beyond narrow circles of activists.

When the invasion was launched 50 years ago, concern was so slight that there were few efforts at justification, hardly more than the president's impassioned plea that "we are opposed around the world by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies primarily on covert means for expanding its sphere of influence" and if the conspiracy achieves its ends in Laos and Vietnam, "the gates will be opened wide."

Elsewhere, he warned further that "the complacent, the self-indulgent, the soft societies are about to be swept away with the debris of history [and] only the strong... can possibly survive," in this case reflecting on the failure of U.S. aggression and terror to crush Cuban independence.

By the time protest began to mount half a dozen years later, the respected Vietnam specialist and military historian Bernard Fall, no dove, forecast that "Vietnam as a cultural and historic entity... is threatened with extinction...[as]...the countryside literally dies under the blows of the largest military machine ever unleashed on an area of this size." He was again referring to South Vietnam.

When the war ended eight horrendous years later, mainstream opinion was divided between those who described the war as a "noble cause" that could have been won with more dedication, and at the opposite extreme, the critics, to whom it was "a mistake" that proved too costly. By 1977, President Carter aroused little notice when he explained that we owe Vietnam "no debt" because "the destruction was mutual."

There are important lessons in all this for today, even apart from another reminder that only the weak and defeated are called to account for their crimes. One lesson is that to understand what is happening we should attend not only to critical events of the real world, often dismissed from history, but also to what leaders and elite opinion believe, however tinged with fantasy. Another lesson is that alongside the flights of fancy concocted to terrify and mobilize the public (and perhaps believed by some who are trapped in their own rhetoric), there is also geostrategic planning based on principles that are rational and stable over long periods because they are rooted in stable institutions and their concerns. That is true in the case of Vietnam as well. I will return to that, only stressing here that the persistent factors in state action are generally well concealed.

The Iraq war is an instructive case. It was marketed to a terrified public on the usual grounds of self-defense against an awesome threat to survival: the "single question," George W. Bush and Tony Blair declared, was whether Saddam Hussein would end his programs of developing weapons of mass destruction. When the single question received the wrong answer, government rhetoric shifted effortlessly to our "yearning for democracy," and educated opinion duly followed course; all routine.

Later, as the scale of the U.S. defeat in Iraq was becoming difficult to suppress, the government quietly conceded what had been clear all along. In 2007-2008, the administration officially announced that a final settlement must grant the U.S. military bases and the right of combat operations, and must privilege U.S. investors in the rich energy system -- demands later reluctantly abandoned in the face of Iraqi resistance. And all well kept from the general population.

Gauging American Decline

With such lessons in mind, it is useful to look at what is highlighted in the major journals of policy and opinion today. Let us keep to the most prestigious of the establishment journals, Foreign Affairs. The headline blaring on the cover of the December 2011 issue reads in bold face: "Is America Over?"

The title article calls for "retrenchment" in the "humanitarian missions" abroad that are consuming the country's wealth, so as to arrest the American decline that is a major theme of international affairs discourse, usually accompanied by the corollary that power is shifting to the East, to China and (maybe) India.

The lead articles are on Israel-Palestine. The first, by two high Israeli officials, is entitled "The Problem is Palestinian Rejection:" the conflict cannot be resolved because Palestinians refuse to recognize Israel as a Jewish state -- thereby conforming to standard diplomatic practice: states are recognized, but not privileged sectors within them. The demand is hardly more than a new device to deter the threat of political settlement that would undermine Israel's expansionist goals.

The opposing position, defended by an American professor, is entitled "The Problem Is the Occupation." The subtitle reads "How the Occupation is Destroying the Nation." Which nation? Israel, of course. The paired articles appear under the heading "Israel under Siege." The January 2012 issue features yet another call to bomb Iran now, before it is too late. Warning of "the dangers of deterrence," the author suggests that "skeptics of military action fail to appreciate the true danger that a nuclear-armed Iran would pose to U.S. interests in the Middle East and beyond. And their grim forecasts assume that the cure would be worse than the disease -- that is, that the consequences of a U.S. assault on Iran would be as bad as or worse than those of Iran achieving its nuclear ambitions. But that is a faulty assumption. The truth is that a military strike intended to destroy Iran's nuclear program, if managed carefully, could spare the region and the world a very real threat and dramatically improve the long-term national security of the United States."

Others argue that the costs would be too high, and at the extremes some even point out that an attack would violate international law -- as does the stand of the moderates, who regularly deliver threats of violence, in violation of the U.N. Charter.

Let us review these dominant concerns in turn.

American decline is real, though the apocalyptic vision reflects the familiar ruling class perception that anything short of total control amounts to total disaster. Despite the piteous laments, the U.S. remains the world dominant power by a large margin, and no competitor is in sight, not only in the military dimension, in which of course the U.S. reigns supreme.

China and India have recorded rapid (though highly inegalitarian) growth, but remain very poor countries, with enormous internal problems not faced by the West. China is the world's major manufacturing center, but largely as an assembly plant for the advanced industrial powers on its periphery and for western multinationals. That is likely to change over time. Manufacturing regularly provides the basis for innovation, often breakthroughs, as is now sometimes happening in China. One example that has impressed western specialists is China's takeover of the growing global solar panel market, not on the basis of cheap labor but by coordinated planning and, increasingly, innovation.

But the problems China faces are serious. Some are demographic, reviewed in Science, the leading U.S. science weekly. The study shows that mortality sharply decreased in China during the Maoist years, "mainly a result of economic development and improvements in education and health services, especially the public hygiene movement that resulted in a sharp drop in mortality from infectious diseases." This progress ended with the initiation of the capitalist reforms 30 years ago, and the death rate has since increased. Furthermore, China's recent economic growth has relied substantially on a "demographic bonus," a very large working-age population. "But the window for harvesting this bonus may close soon," with a "profound impact on development": "Excess cheap labor supply, which is one of the major factors driving China's economic miracle, will no longer be available."

Demography is only one of many serious problems ahead. For India, the problems are far more severe.

Not all prominent voices foresee American decline. Among international media, there is none more serious and responsible than the London Financial Times. It recently devoted a full page to the optimistic expectation that new technology for extracting North American fossil fuels might allow the U.S. to become energy independent, hence to retain its global hegemony for a century. There is no mention of the kind of world the U.S. would rule in this happy event, but not for lack of evidence.

At about the same time, the International Energy Agency reported that, with rapidly increasing carbon emissions from fossil fuel use, the limit of safety will be reached by 2017 if the world continues on its present course. "The door is closing," the IEA chief economist said, and very soon it "will be closed forever."

Shortly before the U.S. Department of Energy reported the most recent carbon dioxide emissions figures, which "jumped by the biggest amount on record" to a level higher than the worst-case scenario anticipated by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). That came as no surprise to many scientists, including the MIT program on climate change, which for years has warned that the IPCC predictions are too conservative.

Such critics of the IPCC predictions receive virtually no public attention, unlike the fringe of denialists who are supported by the corporate sector, along with huge propaganda campaigns that have driven Americans off the international spectrum in dismissal of the threats. Business support also translates directly to political power. Denialism is part of the catechism that must be intoned by Republican candidates in the farcical election campaign now in progress, and in Congress they are powerful enough to abort even efforts to inquire into the effects of global warming, let alone do anything serious about it.

In brief, American decline can perhaps be stemmed if we abandon hope for decent survival, prospects that are all too real given the balance of forces in the world.

"Losing" China and Vietnam

Putting such unpleasant thoughts aside, a close look at American decline shows that China indeed plays a large role, as it has for 60 years. The decline that now elicits such concern is not a recent phenomenon. It traces back to the end of World War II, when the U.S. had half the world's wealth and incomparable security and global reach. Planners were naturally well aware of the enormous disparity of power, and intended to keep it that way.

The basic viewpoint was outlined with admirable frankness in a major state paper of 1948 (PPS 23). The author was one of the architects of the New World Order of the day, the chair of the State Department Policy Planning Staff, the respected statesman and scholar George Kennan, a moderate dove within the planning spectrum. He observed that the central policy goal was to maintain the "position of disparity" that separated our enormous wealth from the poverty of others. To achieve that goal, he advised, "We should cease to talk about vague and... unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of the living standards, and democratization," and must "deal in straight power concepts," not "hampered by idealistic slogans" about "altruism and world-benefaction."

Kennan was referring specifically to Asia, but the observations generalize, with exceptions, for participants in the U.S.-run global system. It was well understood that the "idealistic slogans" were to be displayed prominently when addressing others, including the intellectual classes, who were expected to promulgate them.

The plans that Kennan helped formulate and implement took for granted that the U.S. would control the Western Hemisphere, the Far East, the former British empire (including the incomparable energy resources of the Middle East), and as much of Eurasia as possible, crucially its commercial and industrial centers. These were not unrealistic objectives, given the distribution of power. But decline set in at once.

In 1949, China declared independence, an event known in Western discourse as "the loss of China" -- in the U.S., with bitter recriminations and conflict over who was responsible for that loss. The terminology is revealing. It is only possible to lose something that one owns. The tacit assumption was that the U.S. owned China, by right, along with most of the rest of the world, much as postwar planners assumed.

The "loss of China" was the first major step in "America's decline." It had major policy consequences. One was the immediate decision to support France's effort to reconquer its former colony of Indochina, so that it, too, would not be "lost."

Indochina itself was not a major concern, despite claims about its rich resources by President Eisenhower and others. Rather, the concern was the "domino theory," which is often ridiculed when dominoes don't fall, but remains a leading principle of policy because it is quite rational. To adopt Henry Kissinger's version, a region that falls out of control can become a "virus that will spread contagion," inducing others to follow the same path.

In the case of Vietnam, the concern was that the virus of independent development might infect Indonesia, which really does have rich resources. And that might lead Japan -- the "superdomino" as it was called by the prominent Asia historian John Dower -- to "accommodate" to an independent Asia as its technological and industrial center in a system that would escape the reach of U.S. power. That would mean, in effect, that the U.S. had lost the Pacific phase of World War II, fought to prevent Japan's attempt to establish such a New Order in Asia.

The way to deal with such a problem is clear: destroy the virus and "inoculate" those who might be infected. In the Vietnam case, the rational choice was to destroy any hope of successful independent development and to impose brutal dictatorships in the surrounding regions. Those tasks were successfully carried out -- though history has its own cunning, and something similar to what was feared has since been developing in East Asia, much to Washington's dismay.

The most important victory of the Indochina wars was in 1965, when a U.S.-backed military coup in Indonesia led by General Suharto carried out massive crimes that were compared by the CIA to those of Hitler, Stalin, and Mao. The "staggering mass slaughter," as the New York Times described it, was reported accurately across the mainstream, and with unrestrained euphoria.

It was "a gleam of light in Asia," as the noted liberal commentator James Reston wrote in the Times. The coup ended the threat of democracy by demolishing the mass-based political party of the poor, established a dictatorship that went on to compile one of the worst human rights records in the world, and threw the riches of the country open to western investors. Small wonder that, after many other horrors, including the near-genocidal invasion of East Timor, Suharto was welcomed by the Clinton administration in 1995 as "our kind of guy."

Years after the great events of 1965, Kennedy-Johnson National Security Adviser McGeorge Bundy reflected that it would have been wise to end the Vietnam war at that time, with the "virus" virtually destroyed and the primary domino solidly in place, buttressed by other U.S.-backed dictatorships throughout the region.

Similar procedures have been routinely followed elsewhere. Kissinger was referring specifically to the threat of socialist democracy in Chile. That threat was ended on another forgotten date, what Latin Americans call "the first 9/11," which in violence and bitter effects far exceeded the 9/11 commemorated in the West. A vicious dictatorship was imposed in Chile, one part of a plague of brutal repression that spread through Latin America, reaching Central America under Reagan. Viruses have aroused deep concern elsewhere as well, including the Middle East, where the threat of secular nationalism has often concerned British and U.S. planners, inducing them to support radical Islamic fundamentalism to counter it.

The Concentration of Wealth and American Decline

Despite such victories, American decline continued. By 1970, U.S. share of world wealth had dropped to about 25%, roughly where it remains, still colossal but far below the end of World War II. By then, the industrial world was "tripolar": US-based North America, German-based Europe, and East Asia, already the most dynamic industrial region, at the time Japan-based, but by now including the former Japanese colonies Taiwan and South Korea, and more recently China.

At about that time, American decline entered a new phase: conscious self-inflicted decline. From the 1970s, there has been a significant change in the U.S. economy, as planners, private and state, shifted it toward financialization and the offshoring of production, driven in part by the declining rate of profit in domestic manufacturing. These decisions initiated a vicious cycle in which wealth became highly concentrated (dramatically so in the top 0.1% of the population), yielding concentration of political power, hence legislation to carry the cycle further: taxation and other fiscal policies, deregulation, changes in the rules of corporate governance allowing huge gains for executives, and so on.

Meanwhile, for the majority, real wages largely stagnated, and people were able to get by only by sharply increased workloads (far beyond Europe), unsustainable debt, and repeated bubbles since the Reagan years, creating paper wealth that inevitably disappeared when they burst (and the perpetrators were bailed out by the taxpayer). In parallel, the political system has been increasingly shredded as both parties are driven deeper into corporate pockets with the escalating cost of elections, the Republicans to the level of farce, the Democrats (now largely the former "moderate Republicans") not far behind.

A recent study by the Economic Policy Institute, which has been the major source of reputable data on these developments for years, is entitled Failure by Design. The phrase "by design" is accurate. Other choices were certainly possible. And as the study points out, the "failure" is class-based. There is no failure for the designers. Far from it. Rather, the policies are a failure for the large majority, the 99% in the imagery of the Occupy movements -- and for the country, which has declined and will continue to do so under these policies.

One factor is the offshoring of manufacturing. As the solar panel example mentioned earlier illustrates, manufacturing capacity provides the basis and stimulus for innovation leading to higher stages of sophistication in production, design, and invention. That, too, is being outsourced, not a problem for the "money mandarins" who increasingly design policy, but a serious problem for working people and the middle classes, and a real disaster for the most oppressed, African Americans, who have never escaped the legacy of slavery and its ugly aftermath, and whose meager wealth virtually disappeared after the collapse of the housing bubble in 2008, setting off the most recent financial crisis, the worst so far.
(c) 2012 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 Gaza In Crisis.

"Storm Over Hebron
By Uri Avnery

THERE SEEMS to be no limit to the troubles caused by the town of Hebron.

This time, the reason is as innocent as can be: the organized visits of schoolchildren to the Cave of Machpelah, where our patriarchs are supposed to be buried.

By rights, Hebron should be a symbol of brotherhood and conciliation. It is the town associated with the legendary figure of Abraham, the common ancestor of both Hebrews and Arabs. Indeed, the name itself connotes friendship: the Hebrew name Hebron stems from the same root as "haver," friend, comrade, while the town's Arab name - al-Halil - means "friend". Both names refer to Abraham being the friend of God.

Abraham's firstborn, Ishmael, was the son of the concubine Hagar, who was driven out into the desert to die there, when the legitimate son, Isaac, was born to Sarah. Ishmael, the patriarch of the Arabs, and Isaac, the patriarch of the Jews, were enemies, but when their father died, they came together to bury him: "Then Abraham gave up the ghost and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years (175), and was gathered to his people. And his two sons, Isaac and Ishmael, buried him in the cave of Machpelah..." (Genesis, 25)

IN RECENT times, Hebron has acquired a very different reputation.

For centuries, a small Jewish community lived there in peace, in perfect harmony with the Muslim inhabitants. But in 1929, something awful happened. A group of Jewish fanatics staged an incident in Jerusalem, when they tried to change the delicate status quo at the Western Wall. Religious riots broke out throughout the country. In Hebron, Muslims massacred 59 Jews, men, women and children, an event that left an indelible mark on Jewish memory. (Less well known is the fact that 263 Jews were saved by their Arab neighbors.)

Shortly after the occupation of the West Bank in the Six-day War, a group of fanatical messianic Jews infiltrated Hebron by stealth and founded the first Jewish settlement. This grew into a veritable nest of extremism, including some out and out fascists. One of them was the mass-murderer Baruch Goldstein, who slaughtered 29 Muslims at prayer in the Cave of Machpelah - actually no cave at all, but a fortress-like building, perhaps built by King Herod.

Since then, there has been endless trouble between the 500 or so Jewish settlers in the city, who enjoy the protection of the army, and the 165,000 Arab inhabitants, who are completely at their mercy, devoid of any human or civil rights.

IF THE schoolchildren had been sent there to listen to both sides and learn something about the complexity of the conflict, that would be fine. But this was not the intention of the Minister of Education, Gideon Sa'ar.

Personally, Sa'ar (the name means "storm") is a nice person. In fact, he started his career in my magazine, Haolam Hazeh. However, he is a fanatical right-winger, who believes that his job is to cleanse Israeli children of the rotten cosmopolitan liberalism that he imagines their teachers are steeped in, and to turn them into uniform, loyal patriots, ready to die for the fatherland. He is sending army officers to preach in the classrooms, demands that teachers instill "Jewish values" (i.e. nationalist religiosity) even in secular schools, and now wants to send them to Hebron and other "Jewish" places, so their "Jewish roots" grow more robust.

The children sent there see the "Jewish" Cave of Machpelah (which was for 13 centuries a mosque), the settlers, the streets that have become empty of Arabs, and listen to the indoctrination of patriotic guides. No contact with Arabs, no other side, no others at all.

When a rebellious school invited members of the peace-oriented ex-soldiers' group "Breaking the Silence" to accompany them and show them the other side, police intervened and prevented them from visiting the town. Now some 200 teachers and principals have signed an official protest against the Education Minister's project and demanded its cancellation.

Sa'ar is upset. With flaming eyes behind his glasses, he fervently denounced the teachers. How could such traitors be allowed to educate our precious children?

ALL THIS reminded me of my late wife, Rachel. I may have told the story before. If so, I must ask for indulgence. I just can't help recounting it again.

Rachel was for many years a teacher of the first and second grade. She believed that after that, nothing further could be done to mould the character of a human being.

Like me, Rachel loved the Bible - not as a religious text or a book of history (which it most decidedly is not) but as a superb literary work, unequalled in its beauty.

The Bible tells how the mythological Abraham bought the Cave of Machpelah to bury his wife, Sarah. It is a wonderful story, and, as was her wont, Rachel had the children play it in class. This not only brought the story to life, but also allowed her to push forward timid boys and girls who lacked self-confidence. When they were chosen for an important role in one of these improvised plays, they would gain self-respect and suddenly bloom. Some had their whole life changed (as they confided to me decades later).

The Bible (Genesis 23) has it that Abraham asked the people of Hebron for a plot to bury his wife, when she died at the ripe old age of 127. All the Hebronites offered their fields for free. But Abraham wanted to buy the field of Ephron, the son of Zohar, "for as much money as it is worth."

Ephron, however, refused to accept any money and insisted on giving the honored guest the field as a gift. After much exchange of pleasantries, Ephron finally came to the point: "My lord, hearken unto me: the land is worth four hundred shekels of silver, what is that betwixt you and me?"

The scene was duly enacted, with one 7-year old boy with a long beard playing Abraham and another playing Ephron, with the rest of the class as the people of Hebron, who were the witnesses to the transaction, as Abraham had requested.

Rachel explained to the children that this was an ancient way of conducting business, not coming straight to the crass matter of money, but first exchanging polite words and protestations, and then gradually working towards a compromise. She added that this civilized procedure is still followed in the Arab world, and especially among the Bedouins, even in Israel. For the children, who had probably never heard a good word about Arabs before, this was a revelation.

Afterwards, Rachel asked the teacher of the parallel class how she had told the same story. "What do you mean," the woman replied, "I told them the truth, that Arabs always lie and cheat. If Ephron wanted 400 shekels, why didn't he say so straight away, instead of pretending to be ready to give it as a gift?"

IF TEACHERS like Rachel could take their children to Hebron and show them around, letting them visit the Arab spice market and the workshops which for centuries have been producing the unique blue Hebron glass, it would be wonderful. If children could speak with Arabs and Jews, including even the fanatics of both sides, it could be highly educational. Visiting the tombs of the patriarchs (which, most serious archaeologists believe, are actually the graves of Muslim Sheiks) which are sacred to both Muslims and Jews, could convey a message. Jewish Israelis are quite unaware that Abraham also figures as a prophet in the Koran.

Before conquering Jerusalem and declaring it his capital, the mythological King David (also revered as a prophet in Islam) had his capital in Hebron. Indeed, the town, which is located 930 meters above sea level, enjoys wonderful air and agreeable temperatures in both summer and winter.

This whole episode brings me back to an old hobbyhorse of mine: the need for all Israeli schoolchildren, Jews and Arabs, to learn the history of the country.

This seems self-evident, but is not. Far from it. Arab children in Israel learn Arab history, starting with the birth of Islam in far-away Mecca. Jewish children learn Jewish history, which played no significant role in this country for almost 2000 years. Big chunks of the country's history are unknown to one side or to both. Jewish pupils know nothing about the Mamluks and next to nothing about the Crusaders (except that they butchered the Jews in Germany on their way here), Arab pupils know very little about the Canaanites and the Maccabees.

Learning the history of the country in its entirety, including its Jewish and Muslim phases, would create a unified common view which would bring the two peoples much closer to each other, and make peace and reconciliation easier. But this prospect is as distant today as it was 40 years ago, when I raised it for the first time in the Knesset, earning the nickname "the Mamluk" from the then Education Minister, Zalman Aran of the Labor Party.

In a different atmosphere, Hebron would be seen as it should be: a fascinating town, sacred to both peoples, the second most holy city of Judaism (after Jerusalem) and one of the four sacred cities of Islam (with Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem). With mutual tolerance and without the fanatics of both sides, what a wonderful place that could be for children to visit!
(c) 2012 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and CEO of The Goldman Sachs Group

Blankfein The Wrong Spokesman For Gay Rights
By Matt Taibbi

Courtesy of good friend David Sirota, who has also written on the subject, I heard today that the Human Rights Campaign, the organization that advocates for equal rights for gay, lesbian, and transgender people, has named Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein its "national corporate spokesman for same-sex marriage."

This is an extremely unfortunate error by the HRC, which in making Blankfein a spokesman for this important political campaign has allowed one of the most relentless enemies of the poor and the disadvantaged to use the gay and lesbian community to buy moral credibility.

What's most distressing about this decision is that the HRC has decided to honor and celebrate the CEO of a company with an extensive record of promoting inequality and preying upon ordinary working people.

How would the members of the HRC board feel if a group of labor unions got together and decided to nominate an antigay bigot like Rick Santorum, Gary Bauer or James Dobson to head a national campaign for workers' rights?

Well, state workers in Mississippi might very well ask a version of that question about the HRC, now that the HRC has made a spokesman out of a man whose company, Goldman, Sachs, reportedly bilked the Public Employees' Retirement Fund of Mississippi out of nearly $700 million, by selling those pensioners the toxic mortgages issued by corrupt lender New Century.

So maybe the HRC will avoid doing work in Mississippi, then - no big deal. Of course, there's also Arkansas, where Goldman is being sued by the Arkansas Teachers' Retirement System for fraud involving the notorious Abacus deals... and Virginia, where the Plumbers and Pipefitters National Pension Group is bringing suit... and there's also Illinois, where the Central Laborer's Pension Fund, a major holder of Goldman stock, is suing Goldman (and Blankfein personally) for devoting too much money to compensation and not leaving enough for shareholders (there are a bunch of those suits out there). The Teamsters, the SEIU, Workers United - they've all targeted Goldman for one ugly reason or another.

In fact, in most every state in America, some major institutional investor, union, pension fund, or shareholder is either suing Goldman, Sachs or Blankfein for unethical business practices, or actively protesting the bank's extreme greed and seeming disregard for the well-being of ordinary people.

How about overseas? Well, the HRC might want to avoid agitating in Holland, where the Dutch pension fund ABP is suing Goldman for more mortgage ripoffs. It might want to avoid Australia, where Goldman helped sink a hedge fund called Basis Capital by putting it into $100 million worth of a toxic deal called Timberwolf (that's the one where Blankfein's subordinates were celebrating after they found such a dumb customer, with one Goldman bragging he'd found a "white elephant, flying pig and unicorn all at once").

The HRC should probably also stay out of South Korea, where Goldman settled with the Heungkuk Life Insurance company, which also was suckered into the deadly Timberwolf deal to the tune of tens of millions. And those disturbances in Greece you're watching on TV this week? You might want to look into Goldman's history of larding up that country with deadly swap deals, and then helping create an index for speculators to bet against Greek debt. Then there are the Dutch and German banks who collectively lost over a billion dollars though Goldman's Abacus scam...

All over the world, Goldman is famous for lying and cheating people out of their money, profiting from the misfortunes of others, and saving its own neck through political influence and bailouts. This is who HRC wants representing the gay and lesbian community?

As for Blankfein personally, he's only a guy whom a U.S. Senate subcommittee recommended for perjury charges, who told a British newspaper he was doing "God's work," and who took home $53 million in compensation in 2007, the worst year of a national financial crisis he had a big hand in creating. So it's not like he's personally a dick in addition to running one of the most corrupt and predatory firms in the history of international capitalism.

There is a long tradition of Wall Street predators mesmerizing the liberal press through their advocacy - often sincere advocacy - of socially liberal causes. Traditionally a homogenous bastion of rightist politics, Wall Street's end-of-last-century shift toward an embrace of social issues dear to progressives and Democrats was a key to the finance community's success in finally seducing both major parties.

Crossover types like Bob Rubin, another former Goldman head who made it fashionable for a depraved finance pirate to vote Democratic, paved the way for the modern phenomenon of corrupt financiers escaping media scrutiny through the careful nurturing of good-guy images through advocacy on issues like environmentalism and gay rights.

The good p.r. these guys buy with this activity is, quite literally, the least they can do. What I mean by that is that coming out for gay rights or green energy is utterly inexpensive, from either a dollar standpoint or an ideological standpoint, for the Blankfeins of the world - it costs them nothing, but there's a gain there. Sirota put it eloquently:

Not surprisingly, the particular progressive causes they choose tend to be those that do not impact their businesses or personal economic situations. In some cases, in fact, these thugs seem as if they are leveraging their stands on such progressive issues as a quid pro quo bargaining chip for their personal financial interests. As just one example of where that kind of dynamic may have played out, recall that almost immediately after Wall Streeters underwrote Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo's campaign to legalize gay marriage, Cuomo launched a public (though ultimately unsuccessful) campaign to halt the extension of a so-called millionaires tax on those same Wall Streeters.

The fight for gay and lesbian rights is ongoing and important, and same-sex marriage is an important battle in that war. I'm glad Blankfein is on the right side of it - he ought to be, everybody ought to be. But the HRC stepped in it on this one. I hope they rethink their decision.

p.s. Maybe I'm misreading something, but if I'm going to let Lloyd Blankfein run around town dressed in my own personal cloak of liberal do-gooderism, I want him paying top dollar for the privilege. So how is Goldman only listed as a Bronze Partner in the HRC list of corporate partners, when companies like American Airlines and Citi are Platinum Partners? Hell, HRC should've come away from this transaction owning all of Greece's debt and that entire Maiden Lane bond portfolio Goldman just bought from the Fed. Sigh... on the other hand, no one ever accused Lloyd of being a bad negotiator.
(c) 2012 Matt Taibbi

Can The 1 Percent Accept 'Enough?'
The rich can't stop trying to justify exorbitant salaries for everyone from Wall Street bankers to college coaches
By David Sirota

Of all the no-no's in contemporary America - and there are many - none has proven more taboo than the ancient doctrine of dayenu. Translated from the original Hebrew, the word roughly means "It would have been enough." The principle is that a certain amount of a finite resource should satisfy even the gluttons among us.

I know, I know - to even mention that notion is jarring in a nation whose consumer, epicurean and economic cultures have been respectively defined by the megastore, the Big Mac and the worship of the billionaire. Considering that, it's amazing the word "enough" still exists in the American vernacular at all. But exist it does, and more than that - the term's morality is actually starting to suffuse the highest-profile debates in the public square.

After the financial meltdown, for example, Congress witnessed an unexpectedly spirited fight over enacting pay caps at bailed-out financial institutions. Beneath the overheated rhetoric, the brawl revolved around determining how much is enough to compensate Wall Street's government-subsidized scam artists.

Today, that conflict has metastasized into a battle over taxes. Marked by mind-numbing arguments over Mitt Romney's IRS returns and esoteric catchphrases like "Buffet Rule," the skirmish is really just a proxy war over how much individual income we are going to collectively deem "enough" before the next dollar of income is subjected to a less preferential levy.

Even at the state level, "enough" has gone mainstream, as Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo just signed an executive order barring state contracts from going to firms that pay executives more than $199,000 a year. Again, the idea is that such a salary is more than enough to attract skilled workers to taxpayer-funded firms.

Academia, by contrast, is playing host to the flip side of this long-overdue discussion, as tuition and athletic controversies highlight the absurdity of the "not enough" argument.

At the University of Colorado, for instance, oilman-turned-president Bruce Benson recently floated the "not enough" rationale in defending a $49,000 raise given to an administrator already being paid $340,000 a year. "I've got to pay for good people," he said, implying that such a huge salary boost, paid for by massive tuition increases, was barely enough to keep the university competitive.

Similarly, USA Today recently reported that new college football coaches now make an average of $1.5 million a year - a 35 percent year-over-year increase from their immediate predecessors' average of $1.1 million. Though Republicans regularly claim public employees such as teachers, police officers and firefighters are paid exorbitant salaries, the GOP almost never notes that coaches tend now to be, by far, states' highest-paid public employees. Coaches retain that status in the face of budget pressures because school administrators constantly insist that they never have enough coaching-salary money to retain the best talent.

In all of these conflagrations, the forbidden six-letter word - "enough" - is the omnipresent ghost raising necessary-but-uncomfortable queries such as: Is a million dollars enough before one faces slightly higher taxes? Is $199,000 a year enough for a government contractor? Is $350,000 a year enough to attract a "good" university administrator? Is $1.1 million a year enough for a college coach?

It's a shame such self-answering questions even need to be asked. But with Gallup's latest poll showing most Americans believe a $150,000 annual salary makes one "rich," it's clear most of us would probably respond with an emphatic "yes" to all of them. That's because most of us know what "enough" is. Now it's just a matter of openly embracing it and finally replacing the era's ethos of greed with a much-needed spirit of dayenu.
(c) 2012 David Sirota is the author of the best-selling books "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.

Take A Ride In Rick's Head

Rick Santorum is the latest darling of the most extreme of the GOP's extremist voters, and - wow - get an earful of this guy's moral piety!

Let's start where it all starts for us humans: conception. Not only does Santorum insist that life begins at the instant that a sperm contacts an egg, he also wants to preserve the sanctity of sperm itself by outlawing birth control. Yes, every sperm counts. Last October, he warned about "the dangers of contraception in this country... It's not okay. It's a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be."

Indeed, Ayatollah Rick is a bit obsessed with what you might be doing in your bedroom. The Supreme Court, he asserts, was wrong to rule that we have a right to consensual sex in our homes. "Then you have the right to bigamy," he wails, "the right to polygamy... to incest... adultery... the right to anything." Then comes his punch line: "This right to privacy doesn't exist in my opinion in the United States Constitution."

In a January interview on CNN, the sanctimonious Santorum offered another startling insight into his moral code. When asked what he'd say to his daughter if she had been raped, was pregnant, and was crying for an abortion, he actually said "the right approach is to accept this horribly created, in the sense of rape... gift of life and accept what God is giving you." He added that his daughter - and presumably yours, too - ought "to make the best out of a bad situation."

So much Rick, so little time. I haven't even gotten to global warming ("no such thing," he says), or his endorsement of the Crusades as being about "core American values," or his comparison of homosexuality to "man-on-dog" sex. But, with the national spotlight now on Santorum, we can count on many more Rickisms to enlighten us.
(c) 2012 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.

The Afghan War's Nine Lives
By Amy Goodman

Eight youths, tending their flock of sheep in the snowy fields of Afghanistan, were exterminated last week by a NATO airstrike. They were in the Najrab district of Kapisa province in eastern Afghanistan. Most were reportedly between the ages of 6 and 14. They had sought shelter near a large boulder, and had built a fire to stay warm. At first, NATO officials claimed they were armed men. The Afghan government condemned the bombing and released photos of some of the victims. By Wednesday, NATO offered, in a press release, "deep regret to the families and loved ones of several Afghan youths who died during an air engagement in Kapisa province Feb. 8." Those eight killed were not that different in age from Lance Cpl. Osbrany Montes De Oca, 20, of North Arlington, N.J. He was killed two days later, Feb. 10, while on duty in Afghanistan's Helmand province. These nine young, wasted lives will be the latest footnote in the longest war in United States history, a war that is being perpetuated, according to one brave, whistle-blowing U.S. Army officer, through a "pattern of overt and substantive deception" by "many of America's most senior military leaders in Afghanistan."

Those are the words written by Lt. Col. Danny Davis in his 84-page report, "Dereliction of Duty II: Senior Military Leaders' Loss of Integrity Wounds Afghan War Effort." A draft of that report, dated Jan. 27, 2012, was obtained by Rolling Stone magazine. It has not been approved by the U.S. Army Public Affairs office for release, even though Davis writes that its contents are not classified. He has submitted a classified version to members of Congress. Davis, a 17-year Army veteran with four combat tours behind him, spent a year in Afghanistan with the Army's Rapid Equipping Force, traveling more than 9,000 miles to most operational sectors of the U.S. occupation and learning firsthand what the troops said they needed most.

In a piece he wrote in Armed Forces Journal (AFJ) titled "Truth, lies and Afghanistan," Davis wrote of his experience, "What I saw bore no resemblance to rosy official statements by U.S. military leaders about conditions on the ground." Speaking out is strongly discouraged in the U.S. military, especially against one's superiors. His whistle-blowing was picked up by The New York Times and Rolling Stone, whose reporter, Michael Hastings, told me, "The fact is that you have a 17-year Army veteran who's done four tours-two in Afghanistan and two in Iraq-who has decided to risk his entire career-he has two and a half more years left before he gets a pension-because he feels that he has a moral obligation to do so."

Davis interviewed more than 250 people-U.S. military personnel and Afghan nationals-in his recent year in the war zone. He compared what he learned from them with optimistic projections from the likes of David Petraeus, former head of the military's CENTCOM and of the U.S. military in Afghanistan, and now head of the CIA, who told Congress on March 15, 2011, that "the momentum achieved by the Taliban in Afghanistan since 2005 has been arrested in much of the country, and reversed in a number of important areas."

In his AFJ piece, Davis wrote, "Instead, I witnessed the absence of success on virtually every level ... insurgents controlled virtually every piece of land beyond eyeshot of a U.S. or International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) base."

His observations concur with the death of Osbrany Montes de Oca. His girlfriend, Maria Samaniego, told the New York Daily News, "He was walking out of the base and he was immediately shot."

The number of U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan approaches 2,000, which is about the number of civilians killed there annually. Nic Lee, the director of the independent Afghanistan NGO Safety Office, wrote in his year-end report for 2011, "The year was remarkable for being the one in which the US/NATO leadership finally acknowledged the unwinnable nature of its war with the Taliban."

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta recently remarked, "Hopefully by the mid- to latter part of 2013 we'll be able to make a transition from a combat role to a training, advise and assist role." Petraeus countered, saying the U.S. remains committed to ending the combat mission by the end of 2014. Meanwhile, images surface of U.S. Marines urinating on Afghan corpses, or posing with a Nazi SS flag, and the drumbeat continues, death by death. Lt. Col Davis wrote, "When having to decide whether to continue a war, alter its aims or to close off a campaign that cannot be won at an acceptable price, our senior leaders have an obligation to tell Congress and the American people the unvarnished truth."
(c) 2012 Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!," a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 750 stations in North America. She is the co-author of "Standing Up to the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times," recently released in paperback.

Is The Afghan Fighting About The Gold?
By James Donahue

Afghanistan appears on world maps as a nation with borders, but in reality it is a vast land occupied by many tribes. United States troops have been at war there for the past decade. Before that the Russians were fighting the tribes. Looking back into history, Afghanistan has been an almost constant battleground at least since Alexander the Great invaded in 330 BC and probably long before this.

When President George W. Bush ordered American troops to invade the entire country of Afghanistan in 2001 in retaliation to the 9-11 attack by an al-Qaeda terrorist cell located in Kandahar, many believed there was some other objective behind such a military move. Osama bin Laden and his gang quickly disappeared into the rugged mountainous terrain between Afghanistan and Pakistan and US and British forces found themselves fighting against another powerful tribal force, the Taliban, which was not believed to have been linked with al-Qaeda or the attack on the United States.

So why did we do this? And why are we still there in 2012, with military advisors saying they think we need to stay a few years longer to try to build a stable government? From the images we see on our nightly television news Afghanistan might as well be the Moon. It is largely an undeveloped rugged wasteland that has been occupied by tribal farmers and herders for centuries.

As with most contemporary wars, our objective in Afghanistan has to be about money. When it comes to prolonged warfare it always involves big business interests. But other than the manufacture and sale of military weapons, is there something else?

You bet there is.

For one thing, Afghanistan's biggest cash crop has been the poppy plant, from which much of the world's supply of morphine and heroin are produced. This alone involves big business, both for the pharmaceutical industry and organized crime. What few people know, however, is that during the Cold War, both Soviet and U. S. geologists bored thousands of test holes and discovered huge deposits of copper, zinc, mercury, tin, fluorite, potash, tale, asbestos, magnesium, and most exciting of all....they found gold, emerald, ruby, lapis, lazuli, and other precious stones. Also deep in that ground it is known that untapped resources may also include undiscovered new pockets of oil and natural gas.

The riches lying under the Afghan landscape have not been a secret to the tribal leaders. Primitive mining has been going on there for hundreds of years and it is believed that about 200 mines exist . . . all under the control of local warlords.

The last serious mining there occurred during the reign of Alexander the Great more than 2000 years ago.

Since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, the central "democratic" government established under the rule of President Hamid Karzai, Pentagon officials and American geologists have conducted new surveys and now estimate mineral riches there worth over $3 trillion.

Karzai's government passed a mining law and established the Ministry of Mines and Industries in 2006. Under the new law, all minerals located on or under the surface is "the exclusive property" of the government. The government is free to promote the efficient development of the mineral industry by the private sector. Thus the door was opened for big corporate interests to get involved in mining operations in Afghanistan.

Among the first corporate investment interests to enter the picture was J. P. Morgan Capital Markets in 2010. Morgan's involvement immediately intensified the resistance by the Taliban, which is fighting to protect the mines.

Thus the Afghanistan war is no longer being fought under the guise of battling al-Qaeda forces. We are now fighting the Taliban, and the war is over big corporate greed. This is what American troops are dying for.

President Obama's promise to shut down the Afghanistan War in 2013 and bring the troops home may not happen if big business interests have their way.
(c) 2012 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.

The Billionaires' Brokered GOP Convention
By Greg Palast

The Plan is working.

Mitt Romney's biggest backer didn't want him to win.

We know that Paul "The Vulture" Singer, Romney's Daddy Warbucks, organized the "grassroots" campaign to replace Romney with Gov. Chris Christie back in September.

That flopped, so Singer and the billionaire boys' club that courted Christie moved over to Romney. Not that they had a choice. They knew Moonrocks Gingrich, who thinks he's running for Master Jedi, and Saint Santorum who thinks he's running for pope, would end up road kill in November.

But despite their million-dollar checks for Romney's campaign, the billionaires are handling the ex-governor with very long and slippery tweezers. The fact that Singer and the Koch brothers went on bended knee to Christie means they are just nauseated over Romney, a man losing a war with the English language and his own tax returns, carrying their standard against President Obama.

These billionaires are smart men. Devious men. I've followed them for years, and they do nothing in a straight line. The super PAC that Singer and the gang control, Restore Our Future, is supposed to be for Romney. But it's not; it's for Singer and Bill Koch. The future they want to restore is their own, not yours or mine - or Romney's.

Now, if your ultimate goal is to beat Obama and you need Christie to do it, you want the GOP race to end in a brokered convention. Then, the billionaires become the brokers. In the best of all worlds for these super PAC men, no candidate gets the 1,144 delegates needed to win. Restore Our Future can then restore the nomination to Christie (or, say, Sen. Marco Rubio, or both), someone who can win.

So, think about it. The Singer-Koch super PAC has access to more money than Fort Knox. It has raised over $30 million and has left as much as half sitting unspent. Yet, they didn't bother to run major ads in cheap media markets like Grand Junction, letting Romney go down in Colorado by less than 4,000 votes.

For a few bucks, they could have sealed it for Governor Romney this week. But they chose not to. Why?

By moving money in and out of selected primaries like a piston, Restore Our Future can shoo Santorum and Gingrich away from the nomination - and, with a bit of luck, the Romney campaign ends up in Tampa dead on arrival.

Then the Vulture and the Richie Rich Club can gnaw at Romney's political corpse and regurgitate the nomination for the cat's paw of their choice.
(c) 2012 Greg Palast is author of the New York Times bestseller, "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy." His investigations for BBC TV and Democracy Now! can be seen by subscribing to Palast's reports at.

War Propaganda In The Anti-War Punditry
By David Swanson

To the Charlottesville Daily Progress
To the Editor:

"Headed to another Persian Gulf War" is a helpful column in that it seeks to avoid a war on Iran, but unhelpful in that it makes that war just a little bit more likely.

Don Nuechterlein claims to know the motivations of our two presidents Bush in launching a pair of wars on Iraq. But he makes no mention of oil, of bases, of profits, or of global politics. The babies-taken-from-incubators fraud is forgotten along with the WMD lies. In fact, the WMD lies of 2002-2003 are given new support -- albeit baseless and undocumented -- in Nuechterlein's claim that the war was intended "to overthrow Saddam Hussein's regime and prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons." It had of course been totally and entirely prevented from any such thing, prior to and without the war. Overthrowing a foreign government is not a legal basis for a war. Limiting weapons production, even when not a fantasy cooked up in Washington, is not a legal basis for war. In fact, there is no legal basis for war, which is banned by the Kellogg-Briand Pact and the U.N. Charter, and banned to presidents acting without the Congress by the U.S. Constitution.

By the next paragraph Neuchterlein is referring to Iran's "nuclear arms program," something the existence of which is supported by zero evidence, something the U.S. Secretary of "Defense" says does not exist. Neuchterlein doesn't argue that it exists. That would make him seem like a pro-war propagandist. He just assumes baselessly that it exists in order to proceed from there to an argument for being very reluctant and oh-so serious about going into another spree of pointless mass murder.

In the next paragraph we hear that Iran is refusing to negotiate. Iran has tried repeatedly to negotiate the end of its nuclear energy program or the exportation of its uranium for refinement outside of the country. It is difficult for Iran to negotiate when the U.S. State Department doesn't speak to it. Neuchterlein, to be sure, is opposed to acting rashly on the basis of Iran's supposed refusal to negotiate. Nonetheless he is in favor of pretending it exists.

We then learn that "All Arab countries, especially in the Persian Gulf region, live in fear of Iran's hegemonic ambitions." What world does that claim come out of? Can Neuchterlein name one Arab Gulf country with an Iranian military presence? Can he name one without a U.S. military presence? Two paragraphs later he's admitting that Syria (not a Gulf state) is aligned with Iran.

Neuchterlein frames the choices as including sanctions or war. But sanctions, for which Nuechterlein offers no evidence (and I know of no evidence) that they are having a serious negative impact on the Iranian government, are a step toward war, not away from it. They strengthen nationalism, not democracy. They punish ordinary people (and by punish I mean kill), not presidents.

Neuchterlein then describes Obama as a fellow reluctant warrior who might be forced into a war against his deep desire, despite the fact that Obama has been pushing very similar propaganda to Neuchterlein. Neuchterlein labels Newt Gingrich "pro-Israel," even though a majority of Israelies are against attacking Iran and Gingrich is for it. Neuchterlein pretends that Obama has no influence over Israel, even though the United States gives Israel billions of dollars worth of weapons, vetoes every measure of accountability for Israeli crimes at the United Nations, and works closely with the Israeli military and Mossad.

NBC this week reported that Israel is funding and training the Iranian group MEK to engage in terrorism in Iran. The MEK is a group the U.S. government has designated terrorist, but which a gaggle of big whigs like Howard Dean and Rudi Giuliani illegally work for, and which the U.S. government, like Israel, has been funding, according to Seymour Hersh. But the onus is on Iran to start "negotiating."

How about this negotiation: all parties stop threatening war, and all parties comply with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. You see the trouble? Iran has already met both of those demands and always had, whereas Israel and the United States have not and have no intention of doing so.

After his onslaught of lies, Neuchterlein proposes that we avoid war if possible. If possible? It is ALWAYS possible to avoid war. But there is no easier way to get into a war than by establishing that it might be "impossible" to avoid, thus removing all moral and legal responsibility.

Please check facts even in the "Commentary."

Thank you.

David Swanson
(c) 2012 David Swanson is the author of "War Is A Lie."

My Biohazard Valentine
Love, Work, And Dissent In A Time of Hazmat Suits And Political Hypochondria
By Phil Rockstroh

Recently, discourse, within the free-range pathogen zone of the U.S. political realm, has been infected and inflamed by the use of verbiage (applied both in the metaphoric and literal sense) related to disease and contagion by editorial scribes and political hacks. For example, we have been informed that Occupy D.C. sites were attacked and destroyed by police authorities for reasons related to public health and hygiene.

These actions (part of a series of ongoing coordinated, anti-democratic measures) carried out on orders from the current governing class of the U.S. display the tendency of the hyper-authoritarian mindset to regard the inherent messiness of freedom--including those individuals who engage in acts of dissent in public space-- to pose a danger to civil order and the wellbeing of the general public on the level of that of bio-hazardous material.

(In a vain attempt to assuage his germophobic mania, J. Edgar Hoover had a throne-sized commode constructed for his exclusive use that included an appurtenance that allowed his feet to perch upon an elevated pedestal to prevent contact with the subversive-enabling floor of his bathroom where, presumably, seditious microorganism seethed and plotted his doom.)

Hoover's OCD pathology is axiomatic of the anti-freedom mania gripping the nation's capital where the concept of freedom has become so repellant to the ruling establishment that expressions thereof have been relegated to be almost exclusively expressed in cold marble statuary and soldier's tombstones. Not only is this approach fitting for late empire's cult of death, it is convenient for D.C.'s insular culture of prevaricators, for the dead don't protest; hagiographic monuments cannot mic-check liars.

Authoritarian personality types favor empty spectacle, such as sporting events and parades, over occupations and protest marches, because there is little danger of the primary taking on a life of its own, of evolving a consciousness beyond simply a provisional surrender to the intoxication evinced by an immersion in the mass. People are transformed by social movements, while they are benumbed by spectacle.

Calcified power structures detest the living architecture of social and political movements, wherein individuals, by engagement in the messiness of life, forge identities distinct from those favored by a self-serving elite who have rigged the dominant order to their benefit.

"When the individual feels, the community reels"-- Aldous Huxley

Mortified by this, authoritarian personality types are obsessed with the fantasy of scouring (a panopticon/predator drone mode of mind) life of all disorder. Not only making the trains run on time but demanding that the passengers on said trains psyches be cleansed of impure thoughts...sanitized for their protection, then covered in a sort of societal prophylactic plastic to safeguard the principles of societal propriety--in short, have the populace rendered Body Bag People.

Better this, they are convinced, than allow the person-to-person contagion of dissent to spread. Perhaps, this provides a clue as to why the enforcers of our fear-driven, ruthless authoritarian power elite go so far as to don Hazmat suits when attacking and dismantling Occupy sites.

As well as viewing dissenters as a dangerous contagion, the one percent, along with their operatives and enforcers, are convinced that we are just plain filth and are as dumb as dirt to boot...that we who revolt are ourselves, by nature, irredeemably revolting, or, as Mel Brooks, impersonating Louis XVI, in his movie, The History Of The World, Part One, sniffed, "[The peasants]-- they stink on ice."

The architects of neoliberal imperium have built gleaming towers and sterile high-rises into the pure, blue heavens to avoid our perceived reek. What they detest, in fact, is the musky redolence of humanity; although, they don't seem to be troubled by the stain of the blood of the innocent that is forever affix to their names, for these are people who believe they can ascended to heaven by scaling the mountain of corpses that their imperial pursuits have created.

Yet, they claim we are unclean. Granted, the endeavors of liberty can get messy--but not so much as the orgies of blood wrought by the militarist agendas that maintain the privilege of the 1 percent. One would think they would have the presence of mind to clean up their own act before they go about lecturing us on the finer points of hygiene.

"Nothing is more exhilarating than philistine vulgarity," wrote Vladimir Nabokov

The Romantic Age poet, John Keats, believed earthly existence--life as lived in the muck, mire, and uncertainty of mortal circumstance--to be what he termed, "a vale of soul-making", wherein an individual is challenged to descend from life-devoid towers of habitual action and insular thought into the eros and accountability of the human condition, and, in so doing, one descends into one's humanity. By commitment to this process, the poet averred, one is provided with a means to transmute grandiosity and a sense of entitlement (defining traits of the 1 percent) into a sense of appreciation of being in the presence of life's grandeur.

Thus, one is advised to: show your face to the world...Yet the corporate state demands an individual become a job resume on two legs, as opposed to the sustained act of revealing one's innate self by means of a chosen vocation. Moreover, the hierarchy of vampires who lord over the present economic system demand the 99 percent surrender their very life force to sustain the disastrously narrowed, self-serving agendas that ensure the privileged status of the economic and political elite.

In so doing, they reduce work to empty servitude, as opposed to allowing one to make a contribution to the interwoven fabric of life as a whole by the everyday sublime of one's individual art and labor. What these corporate state undead demand is an abomination. Conversely, one's work is an act of providing and receiving common communion, an activity of both solemn reverie and joyous reverence...a process that originates in and is borne by love--but is not bestowed with soulful agency by the small bribes and unspoken coercions imposed by the operatives of the neoliberal state.

One does not have to be a monk, artist, poet, mystic or musician to approach their vocation with elan and ebullience; yet one should grant oneself the right to surrender to ardor while engaging in work. To derive meaning and resonance from life demands artful labor--the awful daring of choosing to give oneself over to responsibility, thus allowing one to occupy one's occupation, heart and soul.

The act of working is a journey (not the prison sentence demanded by the 1 percent); one cannot predict where the journey will lead or how one will be transformed along the way. Antithetically, the corporate state, by means overt and covert, demands an unjust portion of one's fate.

Therefore, to some, dissent becomes imperative.

Yet love and work (the act of political protest falls into both of these categories) places one in a struggle with oneself, as well as with the powers that be. Oh, what vehement angels and dogma-besotted demons are unloosed by the process, and, often, it is difficult to discern the difference. Apropos, the latest leftist tempest as to whether the Black Block delivers belligerent balm or inflicts carcinogenic rancor to the OWS movement.

"Perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once, beautiful and brave. Perhaps everything is in its deepest being is something that needs our love."--Rainer Maria Rilke

Still, many seem at a loss to understand why some are driven to struggle for a more just world, even though, time and time again, their ardor will be met by seemingly implacable, ruthless resistance...that one's heart will be repeatedly broken.

One might as well ask, why one's heart yearns to move towards beauty?

We are compelled to move towards beauty and justice for the same reason a sunflower follows the course of the sun across the sky...opening, wheeling across the eternal moment, ripening and casting seeds of futurity beneath the heavens.

At our best, we are graced by the type of moments, engaged in craft and suspended in beauty, that an earthworm knows as earth passes through its body, as its body, in turn, passes through the body of the earth...Now, that is perfection achieved through labor; beauty incarnate; a living line of verse.

And that is what one experiences when one's character is aligned with one's destiny--when one has gained the wherewithal to insist on one's portion of fate.

This is essential: One diminishes oneself and the world when one chooses to ignore one's heart's calling to passionate engagement, for the fate of an individual is determined by the collective fate of humankind.

May we all be so graced as to be granted an earthworm's portion of fate.

There are, of course, obstacles (because no story worth telling unfolds without antagonists and obstructions). Thus, at present, in an era in which one's humanity is deemed only worth its value by the amount in dollars that one generates for the one percent, as, all the while, one's sense of self is continually inundated and buffeted by the come-ons and emotional coercions of the commercial hologram--one holds unto the debris of one's essential nature, as one is pulled along by powerful currents of a cultural death-drive.

In this age of economic imprisonment and exponentially increasing environmental devastation (e.g., How can one adapt to the social and political climes of a culture that is dangerously altering the climate itself, yet denies it?)--what verities should one hold to?

Perhaps, we might grow so desperate that we open ourselves to the spirit of the following quote--an eminently more resonate sentiment than that expressed by garden variety Valentine's Day cards:

"The spirit of justice is nothing other than the supreme and perfect flower of the madness of love."--Simone Weil

Now we have something to work with: spirits, madness and love.

One's spirit (which includes the spirit of conviction, labor, and dissent) goes into the world with the ardor of a lover--and becomes enmeshed in its madness. How could it not? Spirit in itself is by definition as impersonal as nature: to be possessed of spirit is to be suffused with the inhuman fury of nature itself...of spiraling galaxies and spindling earthworms; spirit is borne of a womb of thunder and the autochthonic urgency of daemonic (i.e., instinctual) drives, and, like the act of surrendering to romantic love or to an immersion of the self within a mob, while in its grip, one is apt to be spirited away.

Conversely, to be devoid of spirit, one becomes cipher; one lacks vitality; life is a prison yard shuffle, in which the condemned serves a life sentence for the crime of not choosing life itself...the crime of refusing to commit Eros' error.

Yet upon committing the crime of passionate engagement, one places oneself in an asylum for the hopelessly insane i.e., a life lived in this human realm.

What to do? Proceed to the ward of the madhouse of yourself where the powers in charge have placed in lockdown the most hopeless cases...and love the inmates within.

Give voice to the suffering lunatic whose mouth is frozen in terror. In our age, it should not evoke bafflement as to why he has been struck paralyzed by fear. It is quite possible, he cannot drive the knowledge from his mind that our species, by means of manic consumption, is destroying our planet--our only home and collective body--yet the allegedly sane go along as if nothing of the sort looms. Given the state of the situation, it might be proof of one's sanity to be driven a bit mad with grief.

Weep into the darkness with the inmates. Rage at invisible demons in the air, until they make themselves visible to you; a strategy by which one can keep a close watch on them, because it is from one's inner demons'--those shunned and shunted aside, lost, troubled spirits--from their tormented minds, from their fear-palsied hands, out of their gibbering tongues, from their raw, raging energies bloom "the spirit [of justice, of meaningful labor, of protest] of the supreme and perfect flower of the madness of love."
(c) 2012 Phil Rockstroh, is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City. Visit Phil's website, and at FaceBook.

Severe Conservative Syndrome
By Paul Krugman

Mitt Romney has a gift for words - self-destructive words. On Friday he did it again, telling the Conservative Political Action Conference that he was a "severely conservative governor."

As Molly Ball of The Atlantic pointed out, Mr. Romney "described conservatism as if it were a disease." Indeed. Mark Liberman, a linguistics professor at the University of Pennsylvania, provided a list of words that most commonly follow the adverb "severely;" the top five, in frequency of use, are disabled, depressed, ill, limited and injured.

That's clearly not what Mr. Romney meant to convey. Yet if you look at the race for the G.O.P. presidential nomination, you have to wonder whether it was a Freudian slip. For something has clearly gone very wrong with modern American conservatism.

Start with Rick Santorum, who, according to Public Policy Polling, is the clear current favorite among usual Republican primary voters, running 15 points ahead of Mr. Romney. Anyone with an Internet connection is aware that Mr. Santorum is best known for 2003 remarks about homosexuality, incest and bestiality. But his strangeness runs deeper than that.

For example, last year Mr. Santorum made a point of defending the medieval Crusades against the "American left who hates Christendom." Historical issues aside (hey, what are a few massacres of infidels and Jews among friends?), what was this doing in a 21st-century campaign?

Nor is this only about sex and religion: he has also declared that climate change is a hoax, part of a "beautifully concocted scheme" on the part of "the left" to provide "an excuse for more government control of your life." You may say that such conspiracy-theorizing is hardly unique to Mr. Santorum, but that's the point: tinfoil hats have become a common, if not mandatory, G.O.P. fashion accessory.

Then there's Ron Paul, who came in a strong second in Maine's caucuses despite widespread publicity over such matters as the racist (and conspiracy-minded) newsletters published under his name in the 1990s and his declarations that both the Civil War and the Civil Rights Act were mistakes. Clearly, a large segment of his party's base is comfortable with views one might have thought were on the extreme fringe.

Finally, there's Mr. Romney, who will probably get the nomination despite his evident failure to make an emotional connection with, well, anyone. The truth, of course, is that he was not a "severely conservative" governor. His signature achievement was a health reform identical in all important respects to the national reform signed into law by President Obama four years later. And in a rational political world, his campaign would be centered on that achievement.

But Mr. Romney is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, and whatever his personal beliefs may really be - if, indeed, he believes anything other than that he should be president - he needs to win over primary voters who really are severely conservative in both his intended and unintended senses.

So he can't run on his record in office. Nor was he trying very hard to run on his business career even before people began asking hard (and appropriate) questions about the nature of that career.

Instead, his stump speeches rely almost entirely on fantasies and fabrications designed to appeal to the delusions of the conservative base. No, President Obama isn't someone who "began his presidency by apologizing for America," as Mr. Romney declared, yet again, a week ago. But this "Four-Pinocchio Falsehood," as the Washington Post Fact Checker puts it, is at the heart of the Romney campaign.

How did American conservatism end up so detached from, indeed at odds with, facts and rationality? For it was not always thus. After all, that health reform Mr. Romney wants us to forget followed a blueprint originally laid out at the Heritage Foundation!

My short answer is that the long-running con game of economic conservatives and the wealthy supporters they serve finally went bad. For decades the G.O.P. has won elections by appealing to social and racial divisions, only to turn after each victory to deregulation and tax cuts for the wealthy - a process that reached its epitome when George W. Bush won re-election by posing as America's defender against gay married terrorists, then announced that he had a mandate to privatize Social Security.

Over time, however, this strategy created a base that really believed in all the hokum - and now the party elite has lost control.

The point is that today's dismal G.O.P. field - is there anyone who doesn't consider it dismal? - is no accident. Economic conservatives played a cynical game, and now they're facing the blowback, a party that suffers from "severe" conservatism in the worst way. And the malady may take many years to cure.
(c) 2012 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

"America's entire war on terror is an exercise in imperialism. This may come as a shock to Americans, who don't like to think of their country as an empire. But what else can you call America's legions of soldiers, spooks and special forces straddling the globe?"

~~~ Michael Ignatieff ~~~

300,000 Organic Farmers Sue Monsanto In Federal Court
Decision on March 31st to Go to Trial
By Jane Ayers

Little did Willie Nelson know when he recorded "Crazy" years ago just how crazy it would become for our cherished family farmers in America. Nelson, President of Farm Aid, has recently called for the national Occupy movement to declare an "Occupy the Food System" action.

Nelson states, "Corporate control of our food system has led to the loss of millions of family farmers, destruction of our soil..."

Hundreds of citizens, (even including NYC chefs in their white chef hats) joined Occupy the Food System groups, ie Food Democracy Now, gathered outside the Federal Courts in Manhattan on January 31st, to support organic family farmers in their landmark lawsuit against Big Agribusiness giant Monsanto. (Organic Seed Growers & Trade Association v. Monsanto). Oral arguments were heard that day concerning the lawsuit by 83 plaintiffs representing over 300,000 organic farmers, organic seed growers, and organic seed businesses.

The lawsuit addresses the bizarre and shocking issue of Monsanto harassing and threatening organic farmers with lawsuits of "patent infringement" if any organic farmer ends up with any trace amount of GM seeds on their organic farmland.

Judge Naomi Buckwald heard the oral arguments on Monsanto's Motion to Dismiss, and the legal team from Public Patent Foundation represented the rights of American organic farmers against Monsanto, maker of GM seeds, [and additionally, Agent Orange, dioxin, etc.]

After hearing the arguments, Judge Buckwald stated that on March 31st she will hand down her decision on whether the lawsuit will move forward to trial.

Not only does this lawsuit debate the issue of Monsanto potentially ruining the organic farmers' pure seeds and crops with the introduction of Monsanto's genetically modified (GM) seeds anywhere near the organic farms, but additionally any nearby GM fields can withstand Monsanto's Roundup herbicides, thus possibly further contaminating the organic farms nearby if Roundup is used.

Of course, the organic farmers don't want anything to do with that ole contaminated GM seed in the first place. In fact, that is why they are certified organic farmers. Hello? But now they have to worry about getting sued by the very monster they abhor, and even have to spend extra money and land (for buffers which only sometimes deter the contaminated seed from being swept by the wind into their crop land). At this point, they are even having to resort to not growing at all the following organic plants: soybeans, corn, cotton, sugar beets, and canola, ...just to protect themselves from having any (unwanted) plant that Monsanto could possibly sue them over.

"Crazy, crazy for feeling so....."

The farmers are suffering the threat of possible loss of Right Livelihood. They are creating good jobs for Americans, and supplying our purest foods. These organic farmers are bringing Americans healthy food so we can be a healthy Nation, instead of the undernourished and obese kids and adults that President Obama worries so much about us becoming.

So what was President Obama doing when he appointed Michael Taylor, a former VP of Monsanto, as Sr. Advisor to the Commissioner at the FDA? The FDA is responsible for "label requirements" and recently ruled under Michael Taylor's time as FDA Food Czar that GMO products did not need to be labeled as such, even though national consumer groups loudly professed the public's right to know what is genetically modified in the food system. Sadly to remember: President Obama promised in campaign speeches that he would "let folks know what foods are genetically modified." These are the conflict of interests that lead to the 99% movement standing up for the family farmers.

Just look at the confusing headlines lately that revealed that mid-western farms of GM corn will be sprayed with 2,4-D toxins found in the deadly Agent Orange. Just refer to the previous lawsuits taken all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court by U.S. Veterans who tried to argue the dangers of Monsanto's Agent Orange, and high rates of cancers in our soldiers who had to suffer the side effects from their wartime exposures in Vietnam.

In 1980 alone, when all this mess started with corporations wiping out the livelihoods of family farmers, the National Farm Medicine Center reported that 900 male farmers in the Upper Midwest committed suicide. That was nearly double the national average for white men. Even sadder is the fact that some of the farmers' children also committed suicide. Studies show that when one generation of family farmers lose their farms, then the next generation usually can't revive the family business and traditions later.

Jim Gerritsen, President of the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, has pointed out that there are 5th and 6th generation family farmers being pushed off their farms today, and because of a "climate of fear" (from possible lawsuits from Monsanto), they can't grow some of the food they want to grow.

These farmers are the ones who have been able to survive the changes over the past twenty years by choosing to go into the budding niche of organic farming. Now look at what they have to deal with while trying to grow successful businesses: Monsanto's threats.

Even organic dairy farmers have had to suffer lawsuits (from Monsanto) when they labeled their organic milk "non-BGH" referring to Monsanto's bovine growth hormone used by conventional dairies.

Consumers want organic food, and they want America's pure food source to stay protected in America. Made in America, organically, is the way of the future, and family farmers and seed businesses should be free to maintain their high standards for organic foods. They deserve protection from Big Agribusiness' dangerous seeds trespassing on their croplands, not to mention the use of pesticides and herbicides on GM crops. The organic industry has an "organic seal" which is also important to the success of family businesses, and even that stamp of quality is threatened by the spread of Monsanto's GM seed contaminating their pure seed banks.

The Banking industry is also partly to blame. Years before the mortgages and home fiasco we have now, the farmers were the first to feel the squeeze. I interviewed Willie Nelson in the 1980's, and he mentioned even then the high rates of farmer suicides, and that Farm Aid was receiving letters from family farmers saying the banks had "called in their loans," even though "we had never missed a payment." Was this just a veiled land grab for fertile lands, or to intentionally bankrupt independent family farmers?

It was so inspiring years ago when Michelle Obama planted an organic garden at the White House. It was a great precedent for the future, but what happened? It was ruined when they discovered sewer sludge from previous Administrations had contaminated their beautiful soil where the organic vegetables were planted. Just one small upset but it was remedied for future plantings. What about our whole country's organic food supply being contaminated by previous Adminstrations' bad choices? Why did they ever allow Monsanto to introduce genetically engineered seeds into our pure, organic, and heirloom stockpiles across America in the first place?

Recently, the Obama Administration, in an effort to boost food exports, signed joint agreements with agricultural biotechnology industry giants, including Monsanto, to remove the last barriers for the spread of more genetically modified crops.

But in this recent lawsuit filed by the Organic Seed Growers & Trade Association, it was argued that a previous contamination of a "genetically engineered variety of rice," named Liberty Link 601, in 2006, before it was approved for human consumption, "extensively contaminated the commercial rice supply, resulting in multiple countries banning the import of U.S. rice." The worldwide economic loss was "upward to $1.285 billion dollars" due to the presence of GMOs...

What are everyday Americans going to do to turn it around, to get rid of Monsanto's genetically modified seeds and its dangerous threat to America's heirloom and organic seed caches?

There is high rate of cancer in America, and eating healthier, especially organic foods, has been shown to have great benefits in beating cancer and other diseases. When we have Agribusiness threatening independent family farmers, which leads to the farmers feeling so scared that they don't even plant their organic crops that Americans need, then perhaps we can all see what the 99% Occupy Movement is trying to say about their conflict of interest and seemingly abuse of powers.

Willie Nelson just released a new poem on You Tube: "We stand with Humanity, against the Insanity, We're the ones we've been waiting for... We're the Seeds and we're the Core, We're the ones we've been waiting for; We're the ones with the 99%."

Monsanto's practices are a clear example of the wrong direction that the 99% want our country to go in. How about shining some light on Monsanto, and before it is too late, realize the dangers of genetically modified seeds which are contaminating the world's food supply.

"Crazy, crazy for feeling so...... 99%."
(c) 2012 Jane Ayers is an independent journalist (USA Today, Los Angeles Times Interview, The Nation, SF Chronicle, Truthout, etc.) and Director of Jane Ayers Media. She can be reached at email

Money Throws Democracy Overboard
By Michael Winship and Bill Moyers

Watching what's happening to our democracy is like watching the cruise ship Costa Concordia founder and sink slowly into the sea off the coast of Italy, as the passengers, shorn of life vests, scramble for safety as best they can, while the captain trips and falls conveniently into a waiting life boat.

We are drowning here, with gaping holes torn into the hull of the ship of state from charges detonated by the owners and manipulators of capital. Their wealth has become a demonic force in politics. Nothing can stop them. Not the law, which has been written to accommodate them. Not scrutiny -- they have no shame. Not a decent respect for the welfare of others -- the people without means, their safety net shredded, left helpless before events beyond their control.

The obstacles facing the millennial generation didn't just happen. Take an economy skewed to the top, low wages and missing jobs, predatory interest rates on college loans: these are politically engineered consequences of government of, by, and for the one percent. So, too, is our tax code the product of money and politics, influence and favoritism, lobbyists and the laws they draft for rented politicians to enact.

Here's what we're up against. Read it and weep: "America's Plutocrats Play the Political Ponies." That's a headline in "Too Much," an Internet publication from the Institute for Policy Studies that describes itself as "an online weekly on excess and inequality."

Yes, the results are in and our elections have replaced horse racing as the sport of kings. Only these kings aren't your everyday poobahs and potentates. These kings are multi-billionaire, corporate moguls who by the divine right, not of God, but the United States Supreme Court and its Citizens United decision, are now buying politicians like so much pricey horseflesh. All that money pouring into super PACs, much of it from secret sources: merely an investment, should their horse pay off in November, in the best government money can buy.

They're shelling out fortunes' worth of contributions. Look at just a few of them: Mitt Romney's hedge fund pals Robert Mercer, John Paulson, Julian Robertson and Paul Singer - each of whom has ponied up a million or more for the super PAC called "Restore Our Future" -- as in, "Give us back the go-go days, when predators ruled Wall Street like it was Jurassic Park."

Then there's casino boss Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam, fiercely pro-Israel and anti-President Obama's Mideast policy. Initially, they placed their bets on Newt Gingrich, who says on his first day in office he'd move the American Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, a decision that would thrill the Adelsons but infuriate Palestinians and the rest of the Muslim world. Together, the Adelsons have contributed ten million to Newt's "Winning Our Future" super PAC.

Cowboy billionaire Foster Friess, a born-again Christian who made his fortune herding mutual funds instead of cattle, has been bankrolling the "Red White and Blue Fund" super PAC of Rick Santorum, with whom he shares a social right-wing agenda. Dark horse Ron Paul has relied on the kindness of PayPal founder Peter Thiel, a like-minded libertarian in favor of the smallest government possible, who gave $900,000 to Paul's "Endorse Liberty" super PAC. Hollywood's Jeffrey Katzenberg has so far emptied his wallet to the tune of a cool two million for the pro-Obama super PAC, "Priorities USA Action."

President Obama -- who kept his distance from Priorities USA Action and used to call the money unleashed by Citizens United a "threat to democracy" -- has declared if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. He urges his wealthy supporters to please go ahead and back the super PAC. "Our campaign has to face the reality of the law as it stands," his campaign manager Jim Messina said. To do otherwise, he added, would be to "unilaterally disarm" in the face of all those Republican super PAC millions. So much for Obama's stand on campaign finance reform - everybody else is doing it, he seems to say, so why don't you show me the money, too?

When all is said and done, this race for the White House may cost more than two billion dollars. What's getting trampled into dust are the voices of people who aren't rich, not to mention what's left of our democracy. As Democratic pollster Peter Hart told The New Yorker magazine's Jane Mayer, "It's become a situation where the contest is how much you can destroy the system, rather than how much you can make it work. It makes no difference if you have a ‘D' or an ‘R' after your name. There's no sense that this is about democracy, and after the election you have to work together, and knit the country together."

These gargantuan super PAC contributions are not an end in themselves. They are the means to gain control of government - and the nation state -- for a reason. The French writer and economist Frederic Bastiat said it plainly: "When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living in society, they create for themselves, in the course of time, a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it." That's what the super PACs are bidding on. For the rest of us, the ship may already have sailed.
(c) 2012 Bill Moyers is the host of the new show Moyers & Company, a weekly series of smart talk and new ideas aimed at helping viewers make sense of our tumultuous times through the insight of America's strongest thinkers.. His previous shows on PBS included NOW with Bill Moyers and Bill Moyers Journal.
(c) 2012 Michael Winship is senior writing fellow at Demos, president of the Writers Guild of America, East, and former senior writer of Bill Moyers Journal on PBS.

The Dead Letter Office...

Heil Obama,

Dear Frau Trotta,

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 Elena (Butch) Kagan.

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your statements warning female soldiers to expect to get raped by their fellows soldiers should give us just the ammo we need to marginaize Fox in the coming election period, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Rethuglican Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Iron Cross 1st class, presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 03-19-2012. We salute you Frau Trotta, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama


When Clint Eastwood Mocks You, You're Officially Screwed
By William Rivers Pitt

I ain't happy
I'm feeling glad
I got sunshine
In a bag
I'm useless
But not for long
The future
Is coming on...
- Gorillaz, "Clint Eastwood"

You know the wheels have come off the GOP wagon when the Republicans feel compelled to accuse Clint Eastwood of being a shill for the president, but that is precisely what has transpired. Eastwood, who is nobody's Democrat by any stretch of the imagination, starred in a stirring Super Bowl commercial for Chrysler about the resurgence of Detroit's auto industry that was, in essence, a gravel-voiced pep talk for all of America. Speaking personally, the commercial made me want to run full-tilt through a stone wall...and then buy a Chrysler, which is quite a confession, as I pride myself on being utterly immune to advertising.

Reaction from the Republican Right was both swift and hilarious. Apparently, and according to the GOP, Dirty Harry is a dirty liberal hippy socialist communist who hates America and is in the pocket of our birthplace-questionable president...but the GOP found itself struggling to be coherent in its critique.

Take, as the prime example, the words of Karl Rove, who appeared on Fox News to denounce the ad. "I was frankly offended by it," said Rove. "I'm a huge fan of Clint Eastwood, I thought it was an extremely well-done ad, but it is a sign of what happens when you have Chicago-style politics, and the president of the United States and his political minions are, in essence, using our tax dollars to buy corporate advertising, and the, and the, and the best wishes of the management, which is benefitted by getting a bunch of our money that they'll never pay back."

Far be it from me to belabor a point, but these threads are worth plucking apart a bit.

"...when you have Chicago-style politics..." The Right has been deploying this particular slice of invective against Mr. Obama since the '08 campaign, to little effect. It might have had some impact, Mr. Rove, if your party hadn't spent the last three decades rampaging through the infrastructure of public education in all its forms; had you not done so, the people you're trying to convince might actually get the reference you're throwing out...but then again, by gutting public education in America, you might have spared yourself from grief, as under-educated voters won't say to you, "Um, the 'Mayor Daley' who cracked heads and enforced total obedience in Chicago has been gone for 40 years, you dimwit."

"... using our tax dollars to buy corporate advertising..." Heh. Sounds like the entire "Defense" industry to me...remember when NBC and MSNBC became full-on shills for the Iraq war? I do.

"...the best wishes of the management..." So, you're telling me the GOP isn't on the side of management all of a sudden? I'll be sure to alert the Chamber of Commerce that you're on the side of the 99% now. I'm sure they'll enjoy the news.

"...which is benefitted by getting a bunch of our money that they'll never pay back..." Oh for the luvva crumbcake, Karl, the president you whored for gave us the TARP bailout to the tune of $700 billion, and the airline bailout...and oh yeah, wasn't another cerebrally-impaired Bush offspring centrally implicated in the S&L bailout that exploded the 1990 recession, which helped lead to the un-re-electability of Bush Sr. way back when?

You crack me up, Karl. Some of us remember.

P.S., the Detroit bailout worked, which is what pisses you off...that, and the fact that you and your ilk can't admit it when you're wrong. Detroit lives, you hate it, and all your tantrum will accomplish is to paint Michigan a bright, vivid Blue in November of 2012.

Congratulations, genius.

For the record, here is Clint Eastwood's take on the Super Bowl ad: "I am certainly not politically affiliated with Mr. Obama. It was meant to be a message about just about job growth and the spirit of America. I think all politicians will agree with it. I thought the spirit was OK. I am not supporting any politician at this time. Chrysler to their credit didn't even have cars in the ad. Anything they gave me for it went for charity. If any Obama or any other politician wants to run with the spirit of that ad, go for it."

I have said this so many times that I have lost count, and it has been proven correct yet again: the greatest strength enjoyed by the Republican Right is their complete, total, and utter lack of shame. They will say anything - literally anything - to gain the rhetorical advantage, even when it flies in the face of twelve dozen statements on the record or forty years of established party doctrine. If it's a blade that can be slipped beneath the fifth rib of a Democrat, according to the Atwater Code, deploy it with lethal intent, and never mind the shame.

Except it's not a strength this time, is it?

The word you're looking for is "Derp."

The Eastwood commercial flap was only the beginning. For sure and certain, the Culture War Right was given the sharp and searing red-ass by Planned Parenthood and its supporters recently, after the Komen Foundation decided to commit very public suicide by cutting funds for cancer screening performed by Planned Parenthood because...gasp...they perform abortions. I can only imagine how Planned Parenthood seemed like a duck on the pond to the anti-choice Right, as represented by Komen, and for the suddenly-former agitator-in-chief Karen Handel...after all, a whopping 3% of the services Planned Parenthood provides are actually abortion-related, while the other 97% of those services focus on things like basic gynecological health, said focus having saved untold thousands of women's lives, including three friends of mine - no bullshit, *saved their lives* by finding the precursors to cervical cancer and then dealing with it...because that's what Planned Parenthood does.

Moral: mess with Planned Parenthood at your extreme peril. I would lay down in front of a train for Planned Parenthood, and if push ever came to shove, I would be far, far from alone on the tracks.

Oh, and pssssst...memo to the folks engaged in opposition research for the other GOP presidential campaigns: Mitt Romney *hearts* Planned Parenthood. I hope to see this particular factoid deployed at the next debate.

No, really, it'll be funny.

Not to be outdone by "Chicago-style politics," cancer-screening controversies or the likes of Clint Eastwood, the Bonehead Right has chosen a particularly fertile hill upon which to plant its flag: birth control. Despite all polling to the contrary, the Culture War Right has seized upon the contraception aspects within President Obama's health care reform as a platform from which they can denounce the godless, sperm-blocking masses.

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops - a bastion of morality and there-are-no-child-rapists-here-as-far-as-you-know propriety - agrees with the idea that contraception is a bad thing. To wit:

Catholic bishops and their GOP allies have been in an uproar ever since the Obama administration announced new rules that require employers, including most religiously-affiliated institutions, to cover contraception in their health plans with no cost-sharing. Republican candidates have accused Obama of waging a "war against religious freedom." Rick Santorum went so far as to say Obama has put America on "the path" of beheading devout citizens.

The less shrill voices have implored Obama to "compromise" by broadening the religious exemption to let religiously-affiliated hospitals refuse women contraception. But the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has made it clear they're not interested in compromise. According to a report in USA Today, they aren't just demanding a broader religious exemption from the new contraception coverage rule - they want contraception coverage removed from the Affordable Care Act altogether.

In short, Catholic bishops are saying that federal laws shouldn't apply to anyone who claims to have a religious objection to them. Houses of worship and other religious nonprofits are already completely exempt from the rule. It is only when religious institutions choose to go into business as hospitals and serve the general public that they are bound by the same laws as everyone else. Yet the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has promised a legal challenge.


President Barack Obama's decision to require most employers to cover birth control and insurers to offer it at no cost has created a firestorm of controversy. But the central mandate-that most employers have to cover preventative care for women-has been law for over a decade. This point has been completely lost in the current controversy, as Republican presidential candidates and social conservatives claim that Obama has launched a war on religious liberty and the Catholic Church.

In December 2000, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled that companies that provided prescription drugs to their employees but didn't provide birth control were in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prevents discrimination on the basis of sex. That opinion, which the George W. Bush administration did nothing to alter or withdraw when it took office the next month, is still in effect today - and because it relies on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, it applies to all employers with 15 or more employees. Employers that don't offer prescription coverage or don't offer insurance at all are exempt, because they treat men and women equally-but under the EEOC's interpretation of the law, you can't offer other preventative care coverage without offering birth control coverage, too.

In other words: Shut the F*ck up.

This is, to be sure, a thick and knotted forest of gibberish and nonsense we must hack through in order to find our way to daylight. The daylight is there, however, without a shred of doubt. The Right would love, love, love to careen our national discussion away from a conversation on the economy they have plundered and the jobs they have destroyed, and steer it instead toward a discussion of snowflake babies, unrequited semen, and the importance of being earnest. The events of the last week have given them a wide window to do so, save for the fact that the American people have no interest in their opinions regarding the matters at hand.

Jobs? Fail. Choice? Fail. Contraception? Fail.

For the first time in living memory, the Culture War battlefield is tilting hard against the Right. This we call "evolution."

I suppose it was inevitable. In "Unforgiven," it was Clint Eastwood who said, "We all got it coming, kid."

(c) 2012 William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two 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," is available from PoliPointPress.

A 75th Anniversary For The American Dream, A 25-Year Anniversary For Me
By Michael Moore

On this day 25 years ago, in 1987, I became a filmmaker. It was around ten in the morning and the first-ever roll of Kodak 16mm film for my first-ever movie was loaded into my friend's camera to shoot the very first scene of 'Roger & Me.' I had no idea on that morning in Flint, Michigan what my life would be like after that, or what would happen to Flint, or to General Motors. It all felt fairly ominous, though -- after all, GM, which was posting record profits at the time, was closing its first Flint factory (the first of what would become many) and unemployment in Flint had officially been listed as high as 29%. Surely things couldn't get much worse.

That morning, 25 years ago today, a group of autoworkers had come together on the lawn of the soon-to-be-closed Buick-Oldsmobile-Cadillac assembly plant to raise their voices against the closing -- and to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Great Flint Sit-Down Strike, which had begun at that very factory. That strike, in 1936-37, was actually an occupation. Hundreds of workers took over the factories in Flint and refused to leave for 44 days until GM capitulated and recognized their union. The strike inspired thousands of other workers across the country to stage their own occupations and, before you knew it, in the years to follow, factory workers were paid a living wage, with benefits, vacations, and a safe working place.

The middle class and the American Dream were born 75 years ago today, on February 11, 1937, the day the Flint workers won their struggle. And for the next 44 years, working people everywhere got to own their own homes, send their kids to college and never worry about going broke if they got sick. That belief, that life would be good if you were a good citizen and a hard worker, now seems out of reach for nearly half the country which is either living in or near poverty. Perhaps people wouldn't mind it as much if the burden were being evenly shared. But everyone knows that's not the case. In a time of record personal bankruptcies, record home foreclosures, record family and student debt, there are a group of people having the best years of wealth and profit ever recorded in human history. And it is those very people who have made the decisions to export our jobs, to decimate unions, to make college unaffordable, to start wars and to pay themselves with gluttonous joy while paying little or no tax -- this is the 1% that has created the burden so many Americans (and people around the world) now share.

And so, 75 years after the victory in Flint, the battle is now being fought all over again. But this time it's not just about getting paid a dollar an hour, or having Sunday off, or reducing the chance of your hand being crushed in the metal stamping machine. This time, the stakes are even greater: Who is going to own America and control the basic functions of our democracy -- the richest 1% who buy the politicians to get what they want, or the 99% who don't have much these days and live in anxiety or fear of what's around the bend.

I believe that justice will win out again, in the end, just as it did 75 years ago today in Flint in 1937.

I have no special plans to mark this day of anniversaries other than to post a short story I wrote called 'Gratitude.' You may have read it in my book, but if not, here it is to freely download and enjoy. If you'd like to hear me read it in my own voice, click here. It tells, in part, the story of that day I first placed that roll of Kodak film into a movie camera. I am proud of the town I was born in, and I'm proud of my uncle who participated in the Sit-Down Strike. I am grateful to those of you who have gone to my movies over the years, and I thank all of you who have been inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement to speak up on behalf of the 99%.

There's no turning back now. Onward!
(c) 2012 Michael Moore is an activist, author, and filmmaker. See more of his work at his website

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Mike Keefe ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Tone Deaf Tin Eared Borg
By Will Durst

There's something about Mitt. And whatever it is, a few folks are definitely allergic. Maybe they sense he has the same connection to humanity that a drive shaft has to bouillabaisse. Could be he's worth more than most small Balkan nations. Might be the Mormon thing or perhaps he just smells odd.

It's almost funny. After crushing Newt Gingrich in Florida, the nomination for the Republican primary race was written off as a done deal with Romney all but handed the crown and the beaucoup bouquets reserved for winners. And by his post election strut, you could tell the candidate thought along similar lines. Not measuring the drapes or anything, but definitely photo shopping names for inclusion on the bottom line of a bumper sticker.

But the express train to the Tampa printers derailed on the winter plains of the Midwestern states of Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri with Rick Santorum somehow swooping down to sweep all three. Having had to slap up a different wannabee front- runner every week, Romney must feel like he's playing Whack a Mole with a mallet made out of yogurt soaked cat hair clippings.

Whatever that something about Mitt is, it causes conservatives to contract the dreaded "Itchy I- Don't- Knows," every time they get close to walking down the aisle with the former governor from Massachusetts. It's a rash that erupts only when Willard's name tops the national polls. A serious knee- buckling case of Buyer's Remorse. Of course the clueless plastic smile of an aged Ken doll hasn't acted as a sufficient antidote either.

The tone deaf man with the tin ear grinningly claimed he was not concerned about "the very poor." As Randy Jackson might say, "A bit pitchy, dawg." The problem is, most normal humans suspect Romney's definition of "very poor" consists of anybody without a pastry chef permanently on call. The very next day, apparently concerned that his post elitist message wasn't being taken seriously he hugged Donald Trump. Which would be terrific if he were running for Poster Child of the 1%.

Someone on his staff has to tell the guy he already resembles a police sketch artist rendering of a white- collar criminal. The MBA voted Most Likely to be Perp- Walked up a Courthouse Steps with a Trench Coat Draped over his Handcuffs. Looks more like Gordon Gekko than Michael Douglas does. Go on Mitt. Say it. "Greed is good." Feel better now?

The only people who can relate to this guy are country club chaps with a penchant for calling their wives "lovey." He wasn't groomed, he was assembled out of an Ikea box. "One White Male Politician; Standard." Romney won Florida by airing 12,000 ads compared to Gingrich's 300, and doing the same to Rick Santorum should be easier than pudding on a stick, since the former Pennsylvania Senator is financing his campaign mostly through bake sales and scrounging under couch cushions.

Santorum actually brags about running such a low- key campaign he flies middle seats on United. We're supposed to entrust the Presidency to a guy who can't snag a decent travel agent?

Something else about Mitt is he's an absolute blooming chameleon. And over the next couple of weeks, expect to be treated to the Borg Candidate assimilating Santorum's passion for fighting the culture wars with the megaphone turned up to LOUD. Who knows, Mitt could well decide to go all in. And start wearing sweater vests.
(c) 2012 Will Durst, is a San Francisco based political comedian, Will Durst, often writes: this is an example. Don't forget his new CD, "Raging Moderate" from Stand-Up Records now available on both iTunes and Amazon. The New York Times says Emmy-nominated comedian and writer Will Durst "is quite possibly the best political satirist working in the country today." Check out his website: to find out about upcoming stand-up performances or to buy his book, "The All-American Sport of Bipartisan Bashing."

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Issues & Alibis Vol 12 # 07 (c) 02/17/2012

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