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In This Edition

Cynthia McKinney comes to us, "From Toronto, Canada."

Uri Avnery examines the, "Tsunami In Egypt."

David Sirota explores, "The Super Bowl Of Socialism."

Amy Goodman considers, "Obama’s Budget."

Jim Hightower reports, "Obama Walked In The Wrong Direction."

Helen Thomas has some, "Advice For The New W.H. Spokesman."

James Donahue with a warning to Vegans, "Do Plants Think? Scientists Believe It."

Joel S. Hirschhorn has a plan, "Tourism Boycott For Egyptian Reforms."

Chris Floyd finds, "Kairos In Cairo."

Matthew Rothschild gives, "Lessons Of The Glorious Egyptian Revolution."

Paul Krugman says, "Eat The Future."

Chris Hedges demands we, "Fight For A World Without Coal."

David Michael Green with a must read, "Egypt, USA."

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder wins the coveted "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Glenn Greenwald discovers, "'Journalists' Angry Over The Commission Of Journalism."

J. Alva Scruggs asks, "America-Where Do Mischievousness Begin, And Where Does It End?"

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Will Durst sees, "Denial On De Nile" but first Uncle Ernie reveals, "Obamahood's St. Valentine's Day Massacre."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Randy Jones, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Tom Tomorrow, Destonio.Net, Steve Greenberg, Mike Keefe, R.J. Matson, Patrick Chappatte, CNN, Hal Roach Studios, 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."

Obamahood's St. Valentine's Day Massacre
By Ernest Stewart

"I'm gonna deliver a Valentine to Bugs that he will never forget." ~~~ Al Capone

"Out of the frying pan into the fire." ~~~ Quintus Septimius Tertullianus

"These outstanding honorees come from a broad range of backgrounds and they’ve excelled in a broad range of fields, but all of them have lived extraordinary lives that have inspired us, enriched our culture, and made our country and our world a better place. I look forward to awarding them this honor.

...And when we award it to former President George H.W. Bush, it says we celebrate an extraordinary life of service and of sacrifice. This year’s Medal of Freedom recipients reveal the best of who we are and who we aspire to be." ~~~ President Barack Obama

Your lovin' gives me a thrill
But your lovin' don't pay my bills
Now give me money (that's what I want)
That's what I want (that's what I want)
That's what I want (that's what I want), yeah
That's what I want
Money (That's what I want) ~~~ The Beatles

Once when people talked about the St. Valentine's Day Massacre they were talking about what Al Capone did to the "Bugs" Moran gang in 1929. Then seven men were killed in the gang land shooting; however, what Obamahood did this St. Valentine's Day will certainly murder many more and will be remembered instead of Al's little party for centuries to come.

Obamahood's St. Valentine's Day Massacre made deep cuts in programs for the working poor and unemployed in order to pay for his tax breaks for the top 2%. I told you then, didn't I? Didn't I tell you that he'd do what he just did, pay for those treasonous give-a-ways to the uber-wealthy by stealing the money from the poor? Even the fascist Wall Street Journal said, "Indeed, the driver of the deficit is tax cuts. As a result of the tax cut deal, the projected deficit in Obama's budget will reach a 'record' level of $1.6 trillion this year."

For example, he's cutting the energy assistance program, i.e., "Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program" that keep millions of Americans from freezing to death in half which will certainly cause mayhem come next winter. The cost saved by murdering Americans is about .006% of the budget. As you can see, it's well worth the human carnage, right? Ron Paul and Barney Frank said we could cut spending at the Pentagon by $960 billion over ten years without doing any real damage, while Secretary of Defense Robert Gates assured Obamahood that they could only afford a $78 billion cut over a five year period. Who do you suppose Obamahood listened to? No, let's not see the same hands all of the time! Anyone who said Gates can stay after class and clean the erasers!

Obamahood also proposes cuts of nearly 10 percent, or $175 million, to the "HOME Investment Partnerships Program," run by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to help low-income families put a roof over their heads. A savings of a lousy $175 million to send even more American families onto the street to live or die. Thank almighty Zeus that thanks to Obamahood the billionaires can afford to add a new 787 Dreamliner to their fleet of personal jets; that's money well spent, huh?

We're cutting funds for food inspection; who needs to know if that burger has mad cow or they're eating some new Frankenfish or Frakenvegetable that the USDA or FDA approved without a test. With the war against those criminals on those organic family farms well under way, we'll soon only have food from the agro giants, and we can surely trust them to see to it that nothing bad is delivered, even if it effects their bottom line, eh? If you buy that, then I have this bridge in Brooklyn that you might want to buy, too. It's a big money maker!

If these cuts seem outrageous, and they are, just wait for the Rethuglicans to chime in and present their package that will make this one seem like good times! They'll be slashing 100s of billions out of programs for the working poor and homeless, and, no doubt, the "Caveman" will acquiesce to their demands as he's done so many times before.

I have a few ideas how we can balance the budget without hurting the middle class--all one hundred of them--the working class and the poor. You know how the Rethuglicans love to talk about the 1950s when they were in their glory, having their witch hunt trials of the left and the old general was sending atomic fallout onto unsuspecting American citizens to see what happens? (What happens is that in a few years they develop terrible tumors and die horrible deaths.) When business was booming and "your lucky mom drove a hard top and dad relaxed in his barcalounger with his choice of newspapers?" When most Americans owned their own home and could afford to buy new cars? When there were plenty of jobs, the economy was booming and the tax rate on the top 4% was 91%? When an ounce of gold cost you $36 dollars, instead of $1375 today!

Perhaps if we were to stop giving the uber-wealthy trillion dollar tax cuts and instead slapped that 91% tax rates on their asses and brought back the estate tax on them, too, we just might balance the budget. Also, we might impose an one thousand percent tax on any products that used to be made in America but got shipped overseas so the board of directors could all have golden parachutes and golden toilets. That $30,000 dollar car made in Mexico would now cost $330,000, I wonder how quickly they'd start making them in Detroit? That new set of $200 tires that used to be made in Akron, now made in Japan, would sell for $2,200; do you think that might bring the jobs back? Or those help lines from various corporations that used to be manned by Americans that have since been sent overseas where no one speaks English? Want to balance the budget and have a surplus? Tax the rich and put everybody to work to pay taxes and buy American-made products, or become a third world country in a couple of more years. Your choice, America!

In Other News

I see where the House extended key provisions of Traitors, er, Patriot Act!

"The House on Monday agreed to a 10-month extension of three key law enforcement powers in the fight against "terrorism" that some privacy advocates from both the right and left regard as infringements on civil liberties."

You know this is awful when even the Rethuglicans come out against it. But Boner, being the Military/Industrial puppet that he is, quickly passed it in a straight vote after failing to pass it the normal way when Rethuglicans joined Demoncrats in opposing another renewal of this act of treason!

Last week the House, in an embarrassment for the new GOP leadership, failed to pass the same bill under an expedited procedure requiring a two-thirds majority. Twenty-six Republicans joined 122 Democrats in voting against it. Monday's vote drew 27 Republican no votes.

The main objections to this outrage are the unconstitutional search and seizure authority and big government intrusions into private lives. Republican Dana Rohrabacher, one of the GOP no votes, said of the bill:

"I believe the American people have a legitimate fear of out-of-control government. And yes, they have a legitimate fear of out-of-control prosecutors and out-of-control spy networks."

But House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas argued that the courts had consistently upheld the constitutionality of the provisions and that if Congress fails to extend them, "we will forfeit our ability to prevent terrorist attacks." He said a temporary extension "is the only way to provide House members the time to study the law."

What he would forfeit is their ability to follow everyone of us for no lawful reason everywhere we go, and listen in on all our private conversations, and record every phone call, text message, and every stroke of your computer keyboard--close to 2 billion messages each and every day! Of course, Congress has had ample time to study this act of treason over the last 8 plus years. It was pushed on Congress a week or so after 9/11, having been prepared by the terrorist group "PNAC" many years in advance. It's a wish list of various acts of treason that destroys most protections in the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Sure, a bunch of traitorous judges placed on the bench by the Crime Family Bush™ approves of it, but so what? This time the bill was brought up under a procedure requiring only a simple majority for passage. Democrats got only one chance at changing the bill: "an amendment stating that investigations must comply with the Constitution and that courts must give expedited consideration when a U.S. citizen argues that his or her constitutional rights have been violated." Seems like an honest protection of our rights, does it not? Of course, the Rethuglicans defeated it on a party-line vote. Can't bring in the Constitution or as they know it, "That God damn piece of paper" to disrupt their treason! Which is curious, as last month they made a big show out of reading it aloud.

In the Senate, Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, plans to bring before his committee a bill that would extend the three provisions through 2013 while tightening disclosure procedures. Rethuglicans have countered with a proposal to make the three measures permanent. No doubt the Demoncrats will cave in to the Rethuglicans, and our fate will be sealed!

Oabamahood, through his mouthpiece, said he "does not object to the 10-month extension proposed by the House, but would prefer stretching the provisions through the end of 2013, because the longer duration provides the necessary certainty and predictability that our nation's intelligence and law enforcement agencies require." In other words, they still haven't got all the 1984 provisions in place yet and need a few years more to build all the needed "Happy Camps"™!

Laura Murphy, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Washington legislative office, said: "We urge the Senate to reject this bill and instead make the necessary changes that will bring the Patriot Act in line with the Constitution." Foggy Bottom passing laws that respect the U.S. Constitution, "Fat chance of Fong," America!

And Finally

The man who once said, "If the American people knew what we have done they'd hang us from the lamp post!" was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom Tuesday by Obamahood. It went to the head of the Crime Family Bush! Yes, Papa Smirk returned to the scene of some of his most horrendous crimes, only being outdone by his son and Obamahood to get his reward!

Well I think that hanging is way too good for the likes of George unless we follow it up by cutting him down before he totally suffocates, then revive him, and then draw and quarter his worthless ass!

I'm so old that I can remember when that award went to American or world heroes, not traitors as it has been for the most part of the last twenty years. Some former recipients include Buckminster Fuller, Fred Rogers, Bill Cosby, Johnny Carson, Georgia O'Keeffe, Norman Rockwell, Lucille Ball, James Cagney, Marlene Dietrich, Bob Hope, Gene Kelly, Gregory Peck, Sidney Poitier, Jimmy Stewart, T.S. Elliot, John Steinbeck, E.B. White, Tennessee Williams, Martin Luther Kings, Rosa Parks and a host of other worthy recipients.

Now compare and contrast with some of our more recent winners... Colin Powell (twice), Tommy Franks, James Baker, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, Henry Kissinger, Robert S. McNamara, Tony Blair, Alan Greenspan, Nancy Reagan, Warren Buffett and George H. W. Bush.

One group deserves our eternal gratitude; the other is a group of crooks, mass murders and thieves who should "be hung by the neck until they cheer up." Can you tell the difference between the two, America?

Keepin' On

As it stands today, you've got about another month of this magazine and then you're on your own. I can't afford to pay it's bills anymore and I have one coming up on March 21st.

If you think what I do is something worth preserving, then send in what you can, if not, good luck to Ya'll.

Oh, I'll still continue to write political pieces for my blogs but they'll be essays instead of news editorials, which is a lot simpler to do. And with the free 50 hours I'll have to fill by not producing this magazine, I'll finally have time to put the final touches on Hollywood Daze and finish four other books and a couple screen plays. Most other authors just quit their weekly jobs and work on their money makers, i.e., books, screen plays, etc. But I always thought the magazine was more important than my bank account, I guess I've been foolish, huh?


07-04-1995 ~ 02-11-2011
R.I.P. Scotty!

05-12-1919 ~ 02-12-2011
Thanks for the film!

08-13-1919 ~ 02-14-2011
Thanks for the jazz!


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) 2011 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for the last 10 years managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Face Book. Follow me on Twitter.

From Toronto, Canada
By Cynthia McKinney

Hello! On this glorious "day after," I had the great opportunity to speak at the Islamic Center of York. Following are my remarks.

But, before I post my remarks, however, I would like to pass along a link to Splitting the Sky telling the truth about who benefited from the September 11th attacks. He calls names. It is quite eye-opening, and although I count myself a member of the 9/11 Truth community, I had never heard this material, despite almost 1.7 million views on this video, and I've been to Canada to talk about 9/11 with him. This video is one and one half hour long. I'm going to listen to it again so I can absorb every fact-filled sentence.

Splitting the Sky and I are looking forward to bringing our truth throughout Canada and the United States in an upcoming tour. More on that when we actually get the tour together. Right now, it's just a glimmer in Splitting the Sky's eye!

For those of you not familiar with Splitting the Sky, he tried to serve a citizen's arrest warrant on George W. Bush when Bush came to speak for megabucks in Canada. And instead of the war criminal being prosecuted, Splitting the Sky was. I read about it and wanted to help. So, I came to Canada to testify in court, but was held up at Canada Customs and the judge adjourned the trial early, so I did not get to testify. However, the point had been made: when international legal structures fail to act for justice, then we citizens are empowered to do so.

Here is Splitting the Sky video.

Also, the Obama Adminstration is hard at work subverting the people's will in Ivory Coast and Haiti by defending flawed elections, like the kind of elections that put George W. Bush in the White House despite losing the popular vote and stealing the electoral college vote. Here's some truth on exactly what happened in Ivory Coast and why most of what you've read is either propaganda or an outright lie. There's more than even this, but I'll divulge that information later.

Information on Ivory Coast.

And finally, my remarks in Toronto:

Cynthia McKinney

Toronto, Canada

12 February 2011

One of our most famous Civil Rights Movement songs in the United States is by Gil-Scott Heron. He sings, “You will not be able to stay home, Brother; You will not be able to plug in, turn on, and cop out; Because Black people will be in the street looking for a brighter day; the Revolution will put you in the driver’s seat; the Revolution will not be televised; will not be televised, will not be televised, will not be televised. The Revolution will be no rerun, Brothers; the revolution will be live.”

Hosni Mubarak is gone.

Freedom-loving peoples all over the world are celebrating. We all watched, on the floor, perched on the edges of our chairs, we were glued to our televisions, but just like Gil Scott Heron says, the Revolution was not on television, the Revolution took place within the minds of individual citizens who suddenly awakened to their own strength by overcoming their fears.

Fear permits you to bend your back—and as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stated so long ago, a man can only ride your back if it is bent.

The people discovered themselves. And they overcame an oppressive state, imposed on them by outsiders from the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe, and Israel, with Canada and Australia along for the ride.

These countries rode the backs of the Egyptian people for as long as the Egyptian people allowed them to ride.

And then, the Revolution within the minds of the people gave us, and them, something to celebrate.

On February 11, 2011, the people of Egypt made history. They proved that with determination, unity, organization, and critical mass, the mightiest walls of oppression can come tumbling down.

Ben Ali in Tunisia is gone. Crowds have amassed in Yemen where President Saleh promised not to seek another term; Jordan, where King Abdullah replaced his Prime Minister; Algeria where President Bouteflika, said he would lift emergency powers, address unemployment and allow democratic marches to take place. Apparently, 30,000 protesters showed up and despite the pledge, approximately 1000 were arrested and others were beaten by Bouteflika’s police.

Protests are scheduled for Italy tomorrow.

In Bahrain, a large march is planned for February 14th, the anniversary of the Bahraini Constitution.

Pakistan is on the brink with the Foreign Minister resigning and United States issuing a threat to sever relations if an American killer is not released after one of the Embassy’s hired guns killed three Pakistanis in “cold blood” according to the Pakistani police and a fourth Pakistani, killed herself after her husband was killed by the American.

Who’d have thought we would see this day? Once again, the world is rising up against oppression.

I’m reminded of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s last speech before he was murdered. When he rejoiced to be living at the end of the 20th Century when men and women all over the planet were saying “We want to be free.”

Well, this is a pretty nice time to be living in the 21st Century when people are doing the same thing.

However, I do want to take a moment to remember that we have been at this celebratory moment before. Because while we rejoice at what is happening, we must not relent.

The Western world shuddered when Patrice Lumumba was elected by the people of Congo and so, they killed him. And when it was time for Mobutu to go, they brought in Laurent Kabila who proved too patriotic for them and so he was killed, too. The Congolese were clear that they had to not only get rid of Mobutu, but of Mobutuism. With the murder of Laurent Kabila, they have not been able to achieve that goal.

Right now, the West is searching desperately for their next marionette to dangle in front of the people. I see them already rehearsing. The West’s person will be an avatar of a freedom fighter, but will really be in place to serve the West and not the people. From Tunisia to the Republic of South Africa, we must beware the incomplete Revolution, where we see face change and not regime change.

Therefore, I want to shift our focus to another part of the world where the people’s revolutions are making a difference in the lives of people as we speak and countries are led by real revolutionaries and not avatars.

I’d like to draw your attention to the Caribbean and Latin America, where, from Cuba to Venezuela, from Nicaragua to Ecuador and Bolivia, and to Paraguay, the people have used the power of a free vote to completely cut the oppressive yoke of the West and to reorient national policy toward freeing the people and nature.

The ALBA countries, begun humbly with Venezuela and Cuba only, have grown to a powerful independent bloc where economics is being redefined and so, too, is humankind’s relationship with the planet. Planet Earth is guaranteed to be here, but humankind is not if we don’t change our ways. The ALBA countries are in the forefront of that change.

I have long wanted the people of the United States to lead the world’s change or to at least resist enough to stop its bad policies. Unfortunately, in the U.S. we have not yet had our Revolution: people power has not yet taken hold. But we cannot be immune to what is happening in the rest of the world. Our time will come.

People thought it had come when they went to the polls and elected President Obama. The people inside the United States were voting for peace, they were voting for justice, they were voting for hope, and they were voting for change. But sadly, what we’ve gotten is a more intense George W. Bush, with the largest Pentagon budget about to be presented in the history of our country.

The President wants to extend the life of the unpatriotic and unconstitutional Patriot Act and sends his Justice Department into court to defend George W. Bush’s illegal acts of torture and rendition.

Our President has launched more drones and depleted uranium into Muslim lands, rattled sabers at Iran and accepted a hot war where the entire world is the battlefield and insultingly sent our diplomats scrounging to collect DNA samples and frequent flier numbers of the world’s leaders.

President Obama’s Federal Bureau of Investigation raids the homes of peace activists, including the offices of nuns, pursues whistleblowers, deports Haitians back to an earthquake ravaged Haiti, and targets Palestinian-Americans for prosecution. Therefore, we have a lot to overcome in the United States, but we can overcome these obstacles.

And for anyone who has any doubt, just remember the kind of commitment we saw in Malcolm X, who was murdered 46 years ago this month.

Malcolm X knew that the United States government wanted him dead. And according to the book, “The Assassinations,” on the morning of February 21st, Malcolm received a phone call saying “today is the day.”

Malcolm could have not gone to the Audubon Ballroom; he could have fled to Georgia; or he could have left the country—he had friends all over the world. But, he told his wife to get the kids dressed because he wanted them to be with him at the Audubon Ballroom. Malcolm X showed up, any way, knowing that that day could be his very last day on this Earth.

Malcolm X did not let fear control his commitment to the cause of freedom and justice.

That is the real stuff we all are made of. Deep inside every one of us is a Revolution waiting to happen.

Thank you for supporting the Islamic Center and this event.


Silence is the deadliest weapon of mass destruction.
(c) 2011 Cynthia McKinney is a former U.S. Congresswoman, Green Party presidential candidate, and an outspoken advocate for human rights and social justice. The first African-American woman to represent the state of Georgia, McKinney served six terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, from 1993-2003, and from 2005-2007.

Tsunami In Egypt
By Uri Avnery

UNTIL THE very last moment, the Israeli leadership tried to keep Hosni Mubarak in power.

It was hopeless. Even the mighty United States was impotent when faced with this tsunami of popular outrage.

In the end it settled for second best: a pro-Western military dictatorship. But will this really be the outcome?

WHEN CONFRONTED with a new situation, Obama’s first response is generally admirable. Then, it seems, second thoughts set in. And third. And fourth. The end result is a 180 degree turn. When the masses started to gather in Tahrir Square, he reacted exactly like most decent people in the US and, indeed, throughout the world. There was unbounded admiration for those brave young men and women who faced the dreaded Mukhabarat secret police, demanding democracy and human rights. How could one not admire them? They were non-violent, their demands were reasonable, their actions were spontaneous, they obviously expressed the feelings of the vast majority of the people. Without any organization to speak of, without leadership, they said and did all the right things. Such a sight is rare in history. No sansculottes screaming for blood, no cold-minded Bolsheviks lurking in the shadows, no Ayatollahs dictating their actions in the name of God. So Obama loved it. He did not hide his feelings. He practically called on the dictator to give up and go away. If Obama had stayed this course, the result would have been historic. From being the most hated power in the Arab world, the US would have electrified the Arab masses, the Muslim region, indeed much of the Third World. It could have been the beginning of a completely new era. I believe that Obama sensed this. His first instincts are always right. In such a situation, a real leader – that rarest of all animals – stands out.

BUT THEN came the second thoughts. Small people started to work on him. Politicians, generals, “security experts”, diplomats, pundits, lobbyists, business leaders, all the “experienced” people – experienced in routine affairs – started to weigh in. And, of course, the hugely powerful Israel lobby. “Are you crazy?” - they admonished him. To forsake a dictator who happens to be our son-of-a-bitch? To tell all our client dictators around the world that we shall forsake them in their hour of need? How naïve can you get? Democracy in an Arab country? Don’t make us laugh! We know the Arabs! You show them democracy on a platter and they would not know it from baked beans! They always need a dictator to keep them in shape! Especially these Egyptians! Ask the British! The whole thing is really a conspiracy of the Muslim Brotherhood. Look them up on Google! They are the only alternative. It’s either Mubarak or them. They are the Egyptian Taliban, worse, the Egyptian al-Qaeda. Help the well-meaning democrats to overthrow the regime, and before you know it you will have a second Iran, with an Egyptian Ahmadinejad on Israel’s Southern border, hooking up with Hezbollah and Hamas. The dominos will begin to fall, starting with Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Faced with all these experts, Obama caved in. Again.

OF COURSE, every single one of these arguments can easily be refuted.

Let’s start with Iran. The naïve Americans, so the story goes, forsook the Shah and his dreaded Israeli-trained secret police in order to promote democracy, but the revolution was taken over by the Ayatollahs. A cruel dictatorship was replaced by an even crueler one. This is what Binyamin Netanyahu said this week, warning that the same is inevitably bound to happen in Egypt. But the true Iranian story is quite different.

In 1951, a patriotic politician named Mohammad Mossadegh was elected in democratic elections – the first of their kind in Iran. Mossadegh, neither a communist nor even a socialist, instituted sweeping social reforms, freed the peasants and worked mightily to turn backward Iran into a modern, democratic, secular state. In order to make this possible, he nationalized the oil industry, which was owned by a rapacious British company which paid Iran miniscule royalties. Huge demonstrations in Tehran supported Mossadegh. The British reaction was swift and decisive. Winston Churchill convinced President Dwight Eisenhower that Mossadegh’s course would lead to Communism. In 1953 the CIA engineered a coup, Mossadegh was arrested and kept in isolation until his death 14 years later, the British got the oil back. The Shah, who had fled, was put back on his throne again. His reign of terror lasted until the Khomeini revolution, 26 years later. Without this American intervention, Iran would probably have developed into a secular, liberal democracy. No Khomeini. No Ahmadinejad. No talk about nuclear bombs.

NETANYAHU’S WARNINGS of the inevitable takeover of Egypt by the fanatical Muslim Brotherhood, if democratic elections were held, sound logical, but they are similarly based on willful ignorance. Would the Muslim Brothers take over? Are they Taliban-like fanatics?

The Brotherhood was founded 80 years ago, long before Obama and Netanyahu were born. They have settled down and matured, with a strong moderate wing, much like the moderate, democratic Islamic party that is governing Turkey so well, and which they are trying to emulate. In a democratic Egypt, they would constitute a legitimate party playing its part in the democratic process. (This, by the way, would have happened in Palestine, too, when Hamas was elected – if the Americans, under Israeli guidance, had not toppled the unity government and set Hamas on a different course.) The majority of Egyptians are religious, but their Islam is far removed from the radical kind. There are no indications that the bulk of the people, represented by the youngsters in Tahrir Square, would tolerate a radical regime. The Islamic bogeyman is just that – a bogeyman.

SO WHAT did Obama do? His moves were pathetic, to say the least. After turning against Mubarak, he suddenly opined that he must stay in power, in order to carry out democratic reforms. As his representative he sent to Egypt a retired diplomat whose current employer is a law firm that represents the Mubarak family (much as Bill Clinton used to send committed Jewish Zionists to “mediate” between Israel and the Palestinians.) So the detested dictator was supposed to institute democracy, enact a new liberal constitution, work together with the very people he had thrown into prison and systematically tortured. Mubarak’s pathetic speech on Thursday was the straw that broke the back of the Egyptian camel. It showed that he had lost contact with reality or, worse, is mentally deranged. But even an unbalanced dictator would not have made such an atrocious speech had he not believed that America was still on his side. The howls of outrage in the square while Mubarak’s recorded speech was still being aired was Egypt’s answer. That needed no interpreters.

BUT AMERICA had already moved. Its main instrument in Egypt is the army. It is the army that holds the key to the immediate future. When the “Supreme Military Council” convened on Thursday, just before that scandalous speech, and issued a “Communique No. 1”, hope was mingled with foreboding. “Communique No. 1” is a term well known in history. It generally means that a military junta has assumed power, promising democracy, early elections, prosperity and heaven on earth. In very rare instances, the officers indeed fulfill these promises. Generally, what ensues is a military dictatorship of the worst kind. This time, the communique said nothing at all. It just showed on live TV that they were there – all the leading generals, minus Mubarak and his stooge, Omar Suleiman. Now they have assumed power. Quietly, without bloodshed. For the second time within 60 years.

IT IS worthwhile recalling the first time. After a period of turmoil against the British occupiers, a group of young officers, veterans of the 1948 Israeli-Arab war, hiding behind an elderly general, carried out a coup. The despised ruler, King Farouk, was literally sent packing. He put to sea on his yacht from Alexandria. Not a drop of blood was shed. The people were jubilant. They loved the army and the coup. But it was a revolution from above. No crowds in Tahrir Square. The army tried first to govern through civilian politicians. They soon lost patience with that. A charismatic young lieutenant-colonel, Gamal Abd-al-Nasser, emerged as the leader, instituted wide-ranging reforms, restored the honor of Egypt and the entire Arab world – and founded the dictatorship which expired yesterday.

Will the army follow this example, or will it do what the Turkish army has done several times: assume power and turn it over to an elected civilian government? Much will depend on Obama. Will he support the move to democracy, as his inclination will undoubtedly suggest, or will he listen to the “experts”, Israelis included, who will urge him to rely on a military dictatorship, as American presidents have done for so long? But the chance of the United States of America, and of Barack Obama personally, leading the world by shining statesmanship at a historic moment 19 days ago has been wasted. The beautiful words have evaporated. For Israel there is another lesson. When the Free Officers made their revolution in 1952, in the whole of Israel only one single voice was raised (that of Haolam Hazeh, the news magazine I was editing) calling upon the Israeli government to come out in support. The government did the opposite, and a historic chance to show solidarity with the Egyptian people was lost. Now, I am afraid, this mistake will be repeated. The tsunami is being viewed in Israel as a terrifying natural catastrophe, not as the wonderful opportunity it is.
(c) 2011 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

The Super Bowl Of Socialism
by David Sirota

The Super Bowl has become a true televisual non sequitur -- a bizarre “Rocky”-style montage mashing together as many divergent strands of American culture as possible.

This year's blockbuster was no exception. There was former President George W. Bush sitting next to coach John Madden, who was obsessively texting. There was actress Cameron Diaz feeding popcorn to baseball bad boy Alex Rodriguez. There was Christina Aguilera belting out a “Naked Gun”-worthy version of the national anthem. There was even a melding of hip-hop, hair metal and sci-fi, as the Black Eyed Peas joined Slash for a rendition of “Sweet Child o' Mine” -- all in front of neon “Tron” dancers.

This was a bewildering assault on the senses, to say the least -- and nothing was more singularly mind-blowing than the NFL using a Ronald Reagan eulogy to kick off a sports-themed tribute to socialism.

Reagan, of course, made his political name regularly invoking the "s" word to demonize government. For such bombast, he gained many followers, most of whom nonetheless cherished the doctrinaire socialism that undergirded their communities in the form of public infrastructure and services.

This Reagan-inspired paradox of cheering anti-socialist platitudes while supporting socialism in practice was the tale of Super Bowl XLV. The game began with a jubilant Reagan biopic that approvingly flaunted his red-baiting past, including his 1964 warning about America "tak(ing) the first step into a thousand years of darkness." The game ended with victory for professional sports' only publicly owned nonprofit organization, the Green Bay Packers -- a team whose quasi-socialist structure allows Wisconsin’s proletariat to own the means of football production.

Green Bay's win, though, doesn't tell the Super Bowl's entire socialist tale. The game was held in one of the NFL's government-funded stadiums. Additionally, training for many Super Bowl players was subsidized by taxpayers when those players honed their skills at public high schools and universities. Meanwhile, fans arrived at the event on public roads, the contest was broadcast on public airwaves, and the Navy spent $450,000 of public monies flying jets over the game in order to stage a momentary TV image.

Except for The Nation magazine's Dave Zirin, none of the major media examined any of this. The Super Bowl was presented as a seamless jaunt from Reagan hagiography to trophy ceremony with no mention of the socialist context. Why?

Some would argue that the sports commentariat was laser-focused on the game itself. Others might say that in trying to break the players’ union, NFL management intentionally trumpeted an anti-union president -- and the management-worshiping media avoided highlighting the Reagan celebration’s underlying hypocrisy in order to avoid humiliating the owners.

Both theories are likely rooted in truth, but there was something reflexive at work, too -- a deliberate self-censoring.

Yes, even though we clearly embrace socialism in everything from professional sports to telecommunications, the politicians and corporations who frame our public dialogue have long stifled honest discussions of our socialist reality because they know such discussions would show that America primarily champions a particular form of socialism -- a corporate socialism leveraging public resources for private profit.

Like the few municipal services that still remain in today’s era of Reaganomics, the publicly owned Green Bay Packers are a rare exception to this norm. That's why the story of the team's organizational structure is suppressed -- because it shows the most important question facing our nation isn't about accepting or rejecting socialism. We've already accepted it. Instead, the real question is about what specific type of socialism we want: the current kind that works only for those in the luxury box, or the kind that starts working for the rest of us?
(c) 2010 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.

Obama’s Budget
Freezing the Poor
By Amy Goodman

President Barack Obama unleashed his proposed 2012 budget this week, pronouncing, proudly: “I’ve called for a freeze on annual domestic spending over the next five years. This freeze would cut the deficit by more than $400 billion over the next decade, bringing this kind of spending—domestic discretionary spending—to its lowest share of our economy since Dwight Eisenhower was president.”

Focus on the word “freeze.” That is exactly what many people might do, if this budget passes as proposed. While defense spending increases, with the largest Pentagon funding request since World War II, the budget calls for cutting in half a program called Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP.

LIHEAP offers block grants to states so they can offer financial assistance to low-income households in order to meet home energy needs, mostly for heating. Most of its recipients are the elderly and disabled. The program is currently funded at more than $5 billion. Obama is calling for that to be slashed to $2.57 billion—roughly half. This life-or-death program, which literally can help prevent people from freezing to death, represents less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the proposed $3.7 trillion annual budget. Compare this with the proposed military budget. “Defense spending” is a misnomer. Until 1947-48, the Pentagon was officially, and appropriately, called the War Department. In the proposed budget released on Valentine’s Day, the Department of Defense request is $553 billion for the base budget, an increase of $22 billion above the 2010 appropriation. The White House has touted what it calls “$78 billion” in cuts that Defense Secretary Robert Gates is considering. But as the Institute for Policy Studies notes: “The Defense Department talks about cutting its own budget—$78 billion over five years—and most reporting takes this at face value. It shouldn’t. The Pentagon is following the familiar tradition of planning ambitious increases, paring them back and calling this a cut.”

The $553 billion Pentagon budget doesn’t even include war. To Obama’s credit, the costs are actually in the budget. Recall, President George W. Bush repeatedly called the expenditures “emergency” needs, and pressured Congress to pass supplemental funding, outside of the normal budget process. The Obama administration, nevertheless, has given the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan the Orwellian moniker “Overseas Contingency Operations,” and is asking for $118 billion. Add to that the $55 billion for the National Intelligence Program (a budget item for which the amount has never before been revealed, according to government secrecy expert Steven Aftergood), and the publicly revealed military/intelligence budget is at close to three-quarters of a trillion dollars.

Obama’s 216-page budget doesn’t mention “Pentagon” once. He does invoke the name of President Eisenhower, though. Two times he credits Eisenhower for creating the national interstate highway system, and, as mentioned, boasts of the proposed spending freeze: “This freeze would be the most aggressive effort to restrain discretionary spending to take effect in 30 years and, by 2015, would lower nonsecurity discretionary funding as a share of the economy to the lowest level since Dwight D. Eisenhower was president.”

If he is going to reference his predecessor, he should learn from Eisenhower’s prescient warning, given in his farewell speech in 1961: “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

Another Eisenhower speech that should guide Obama was given in April 1953, before the American Society of Newspaper Editors, just two weeks after he was inaugurated as president. In it, the general-turned-president said, “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.” This is one of the coldest winters on record. One in eight people in the U.S. is on food stamps, the largest percentage of Americans ever. More, as well, are without health insurance, despite the initial benefits of the health-care reform act passed last year.

Americans are cold, hungry and unemployed. By increasing military spending, already greater than all of the world’s military budgets combined, we are only spreading that misery abroad. We should get our priorities straight.
(c) 2011 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.

Obama Walked In The Wrong Direction

Good grief, talk about hugging the devil!

As part of his odd determination to hug up America's avaricious corporate powers, President Obama has now walked across Lafayette Square to enter the imperial gates of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Apparently this presidential deference is an effort to woo corporate donors and to show conservative voters how moderate he can be. But, does he really think that that either of those groups is going to give any love back?

For years, the Chamber has pretended to be the lobbying voice of Main Street business, claiming to have three million members. After an exposé last year by Mother Jones magazine, however, red-faced Chamber officials had to drop their mom & pop pose, confessing that only a tenth of that number are actually members. Even that recalibration grossly inflates the truth, for the outfit's policies are set by a handful of oil conglomerates, Wall Street banks, and other huge, self-serving corporations.

Obama ought to know better than to trust any of this bunch. He should remember 2009, when he gave special favors to America's insurance giants to win their public support of his health care reform. Meanwhile, you might recall that the U.S. Chamber bitterly fought the reforms with a multimillion-dollar blitz of vituperative ads. Where did Chamber officials get the money to run such a negative media campaign ? From Aetna, Cigna, Humana, United Health, and Wellpoint. Five of the largest insurance corporations that were publicly embracing Obama had secretly funneled the ad money to the Chamber.

Instead of walking meekly across Lafayette Square in fruitless pursuit of such deceivers, he could stride across the square in the opposite direction. That'd take him to the AFL-CIO, where he could make a symbolic stand of solidarity with the millions of hard-hit working families being crushed by the Chamber's corporate funders. But that's a walk that the president has never taken!
(c) 2011 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.

New spin master Jay Carney

Advice For The New W.H. Spokesman
By Helen Thomas

President Obama has a new spokesman with journalistic credentials. Jay Carney, 45, a former Washington bureau chief for Time magazine, is moving from Vice President Biden's office, where he handled press relations.

After covering the White House since 1961, here is some unsolicited advice I have for Carney: keep your credibility at all costs - for the sake of the country.

At the White House, you will be speaking for the President of the United States, for the American people, and for the U.S. government. It can only be with fear and trepidation, considering the power of words from the White House.

You have two models among your predecessors - good and bad. Don't be the boy who cried wolf, like Ari Fleischer, warning the American people daily that Saddam Hussein had an arsenal of nuclear weapons and ties to the al-Qaida terrorist network. None of it was true.

Those fabrications in the Bush administration shamed the country and caused thousands of Americans and many more thousands of Iraqis to die.

The question is, does a spokesman have any personal responsibility or is he or she merely a paid government mouthpiece? It has to be a real dilemma for Carney when the orders come down from on high. The cliche that diplomats are sent abroad to lie for their country does not apply to an official spokesman. There is too much at stake.

For all the dissembling and propaganda (spin) in the run up to the war against the Iraqi regime and its people, the Bush administration has expressed no regret and no apologies. All they could say was "good riddance" to Hussein's brutal rule. But for the U.S. invader to hang a dictator is hardly the way to operate under the rule of law which we highly tout.

Several White House spokesmen have been able to sidestep the facts and save their reputations.

"No comment" lost its meaning in the Kennedy era. When Pierre Salinger, the tuned-in press secretary presiding at the podium, said "no comment," it was tantamount to "yes." Another spokesman in the Kennedy era, Arthur Sylvester, the Pentagon spokesman and a former New Jersey paper editor, caused an uproar with his statement that the government had the right to lie for its country on the question of its possession of nuclear arms.

Bill Moyers, former press secretary to Lyndon B. Johnson, admitted to me that he might "shade" the truth, but he later became a brilliant journalist at Newsday, and later with highly credible documentaries on television.

The late Jerry terHorst, press secretary to President Gerald Ford proved the reporter's code that truth is the Holy Grail in journalism.

A couple of his crony reporters came to him shortly after Ford took office and told him that Ford was sending two emissaries to offer a pardon to former President Richard Nixon. It was vehemently denied by the White House advisers who Jerry consulted.

The next day, one month after Nixon was forced to leave office during the Watergate scandal, Ford announced his pardon of Nixon. As a result Ford lost a lot of confidence among the American people, and who suspected that there had been a deal between Ford and Nixon. This ultimately cost Ford his bid for election.

The man who suffered most in the job of press secretary was Ron Ziegler, who ducked out of the White House press room and locked his door against reporters who were besieging him during the all consuming Watergate scandal. It was too much to handle, and most of the questions fell to Jerry Warren, his assistant, to handle.

Mike McCurry, President Bill Clinton's press secretary, managed to distance himself from questions about the Monica Lewinsky scandal - and the impeachment proceedings. Both Clinton and McCurry survived and are living happily ever after.

Carney comes in as part of a White House top staff shake up with one goal - to get President Obama re-elected. He is replacing Robert Gibbs, who ran afoul of some of the White House reporters with his angry replies.

Gibbs will play a big role in Obama's forth coming campaign for a second term.

In his other life with the Vice President, Carney ruffled feathers with some reporters, and fired off angry messages in strong and even salacious words, in response to their reports on Biden. But Obama is trying to mend fences with the current White House press corps, and Carney is having to make nice with them for the President as he heads into the 2012 re-election campaign
(c) 2011 Helen Thomas is a columnist for the Falls Church News-Press. Among other books she is the author of Front Row at The White House: My Life and Times.

Do Plants Think? Scientists Believe It
By James Donahue

It was in 1966 that Cleve Baxter, an expert in lie detection examinations, discovered that using his polygraph electrodes on plants exposed the revelation that plants respond to human actions around them and with them.

In the book The Secret Life of Plants, Christopher Bird and Peter Tompkins wrote that Baxter decided on impulse to attach his equipment to a dracaena growing in his office. When he watered the plant the machine recorded a response. In further experiments Baxter discovered that the plants not only reacted to what humans did to them, but to mere thought.

Baxter had the thought of lighting a match under one of the leaves and the plant registered a strong response. In further experiments, Bird and Tompkins said Baxter “discovered that plants were aware of each other, mourned the death of anything (even the bacteria killed when boiling water is poured down the drain), strongly disliked people who killed plants, and fondly remembered and extended their energy out to the people who had grown and tended them.”

It was at about that time that a team of Russian researchers conducted a similar experiment with a row of cabbage plants, also attached to polygraph electrodes.

During the experiment a particular person entered the room each day at a certain time. While there this person watered and added nourishment to the soil in each of the pots in which the cabbages were growing. The signals were recorded. There was a reaction to this activity each day.

One day a new person entered the room carrying an ax. This man walked up to one of the cabbage plants and chopped it to pieces. The response on the recorders was immediate. There was a wild increase in electronic activity. It was clear that the other cabbage plants not only were aware of this terrible event, they expressed a strong response to what just happened.

From that time on, the mere entrance of the room by the man who had wielded the ax caused the same kind of electronic reaction among the surviving cabbage plants.

The conclusion among the scientists conducting the study is that the cabbage plants not only are aware of their surroundings, they communicate with one another, and respond to events going on around them. We once read an article in the Christian Science Monitor about research by scientists in “the evolving paradigm of plant intelligence.”

The story by Patrik Jonsson noted that some scientists believe plants are capable of carefully considering their environment, speculating on the future, conquering territory and enemies, “and are often capable of forethought – revelations that could affect everyone from gardeners to philosophers.”

Jonsson added that the research has opened “a sprouting debate over the nature of intelligence itself.”

Examples of findings by the research included the discovery that the parasitic plant strangleweed “can sense the presence of friends, foes and food, and make adroit decisions on how to approach them.”

Also the ground-hugging mayapple “plans its growth two years into the future, based on computations of weather patterns.”

Plant geneticists are finding that plants can communicate with each other as well as with insects by coded gas exhalations. “They can perform Euclidean geometry calculations through cellular computations and, like a peeved boss, remember the tiniest transgression for months.”

These findings support the belief by many that the Earth is a living sentient being and that everything on the planet is not only alive, but part of a vast universal information system.

It seems that even the grass, the flowers and the trees are sending information not only within their own ranks, but to the living Mother Earth and to the Universe.

Bird and Tompkins suggest in their book that “everything in creation – are conscious, intelligent and aware of human beings and each other.”

I had my first realization of how plants respond to human involvement in their environment a few years back, when I was cutting firewood to heat our home. My father and I used to drive back into the wooded area of the family farm every Saturday to cut down a few trees, saw them into sections, and load them on the back of a pickup for delivery to the back yard.

Thinking of conservation even in those years, we used to seek out the fallen or diseased trees in the forest, or take older trees that were crowding out the smaller ones. I never dreamed that what we were doing was exciting the forest, however.

One day after reading about the experiment by the Russian biologists with the cabbage plants I became acutely aware of the possibility that the trees on my father’s farm were not pleased with what we were doing to them.

After this, I found it difficult to enter the forest and cut down trees. I realized that the trees were not only communicating, but they may have feared my approach. Eventually we sold that home and moved into a smaller house that had a gas fired furnace.
(c) 2011 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.

Tourism Boycott For Egyptian Reforms
By Joel S. Hirschhorn

How wonderful that the Egyptian dictator Mubarak has finally stepped down. But there are considerable uncertainties about when and how a fully functioning democracy that benefits ordinary Egyptians, especially the poorest, will be formed. Restoring the Egyptian economy and ensuring that it benefits not just the existing upper class that supported Mubarak is a key challenge. Economic reforms, however, are hardly mentioned by all those talking so much about the wonderful transformation in Egypt.

A global tourism boycott of Egypt is appropriate until it is absolutely clear that the revolution has actually and fully succeeded and economic reforms achieved. The enormous amounts of money stolen by Mubarak and others must be sought.

Now is the time to send a clear message that there will be no renewal of tourism in Egypt until there is crystal clear evidence that a true and honest electoral democracy with a more equitable economy have been created. Then a huge wave of renewed tourism will be the reward. This must be seen as an incentive to the new military dictatorship to honor the revolution. Everyone must remember that the military supported Mubarak, as one of them, and now owns about 10 to 15 percent of the Egyptian economy.

The US government and other nations should immediately issue official rulings that impede their citizens from any travel to Egypt until the formation of a trustworthy government. Major businesses connected to tourism should do likewise; issuing strong statements that travel and tourism are being ended until the entire Mubarak regime is replaced, including his wealthy cronies and sons in the business community. “The corruption of the Mubarak family was not stealing from the budget, it was transforming political capital into private capital,” said Samer Soliman, a professor of political economy at American University in Cairo.

Global Financial Integrity has estimated that illicit financial activities and government graft stole $57.2 billion between 2000 and 2008. Certainly, tourism was one source of that stolen money.

Make no mistake about it. Tourism is critical for the Egyptian economy that unfairly has rewarded the Egyptian plutocracy. In 2010, nearly $11 billion in revenue was generated when 14.7 million tourists visited Egypt, reports the Egyptian Tourist Authority in New York. That number is about 11 percent of the total gross domestic product for the country. It is a critically important source of foreign currency. The sector employs about 12 percent of Egypt's workforce. In my experience working in Egypt a number of times those figures probably underestimate tourism spending. Because so much of the spending is part of the underground, cash economy such as money spent on guides, taxis, goods and souvenirs in small stores and from street vendors, and food in restaurants. Tourists also were generous with the ever present street beggars.

Before the eruption of the massive demonstrations against Mubarak, experts predicted Egypt’s growth would be second only to Qatar in the region. However, forecasts have since been revised downwards: from the 5.4 percent originally anticipated this year to growth of only 1 to 2 percent. But economic growth does not necessarily benefit workers, as the past has demonstrated.

Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman said recently that about one million tourists flew out of Egypt in the first nine days of the protests, causing losses of about one billion dollars. Their return should be carefully debated. Recovering stolen money from the Mubarak family and their cronies should be a higher priority in the near term.

Consistent with the apparent delusional thinking of Mubarak is that officials at the Egypt Tourist Authority during the revolution predicted a quick recovery for the national tourism industry following the political turmoil. Now the world must send a clear message that the “mass departure of tourists” the agency acknowledged in recent weeks will definitely not be quickly reversed until a strong, reliable democracy and reformed economy are established.

Of course without tourism Egyptians suffer, but we must remember that even when tourism flourished most Egyptian workers suffered economically. And they mounted their rebellion knowing that they would be hurt financially. They have thought in terms of the longer term, and so must we. Now we must see a tourism boycott for Egypt as a political statement and tactic that aids and supports the brave citizens that sacrificed so much for their revolution.

We will hear much from that business community that they want tourism to quickly be restored and that ordinary citizens need it. But the business elites in Egypt supported and benefited from the Mubarak regime and siphoned off much of the nation’s wealth that tourism helped create. Critically needed are reforms in the economy and business community to ensure that workers share in prosperity. Let us beware of those rich pro-Mubarak elites who own tourism-related businesses and who did not support the revolution but who have already started to plea for a return of tourists. First, show the world how economic inequality in injustice will be eliminated.
(c) 2011 Joel S. Hirschhorn observed our corrupt federal government firsthand as a senior official with the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the National Governors Association and is the author of Delusional Democracy - Fixing the Republic Without Overthrowing the Government. To discuss issues write the author. The author has a Ph.D. in Materials Engineering and was formerly a full professor of metallurgical engineering at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Kairos In Cairo
Seizing the Moment of Moral Courage
By Chris Floyd

I was among the million people who marched through London on February 15, 2003, to protest the imminent invasion of Iraq. I don't think anyone in the crowd thought a single march would stop the Anglo-American coalition from launching a war of aggression, but most felt it was important that the widespread anger and dismay at this murderous course of action be embodied, literally, on the streets, by a broad cross-section of the public.

This was done. And it was not totally unimportant, as an act of bearing witness. But now, years later, the people of Egypt -- especially the young people -- have shown us what a small, feeble act that 2003 march really was, and how we all let thuggish leaders play us for fools. We showed up, we marched, we massed -- then we quietly went home, back to our lives, and let the brutal machinery of aggressive war roll on.

What would have happened had we possessed the courage and commitment that the Egyptians are demonstrating today? What if we, like them, had refused to go home, and had stood our ground, thronged in the center of London, day after day, railing against a regime bent on aggressive war: "the supreme international crime, only different from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of all the others," as Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal put it. (It also added: "To initiate a war of aggression is a crime that no political or economic situation can justify.")

Day after day after day, the Egyptians have withstood the blows of a vicious police state, the savage attacks of paid goons, the strain, exhaustion and deprivation of constant vigil under threat of arrest or death -- and still they are standing there, more and more of them all the time, in a remarkable, near-miraculous display of moral courage that will undoubtedly topple the criminal regime, despite the desperate, clueless delaying tactics that Hosni Mubarak pulled on Thursday night.

But in London on that long-ago day, which now lies behind us across a surging river of blood choked with the bodies of a million innocent dead, we simply melted away in the course of an afternoon. A single day; a few hours; a few speeches -- then nothing. How Blair and Bush and all the militarist apparatchiks must have laughed at that! "Let them have their little march. Who gives a shit? Give them their permits, redirect the traffic for them, let them wave their signs. What does it matter? When it's over, they'll just go home, and we can get on with our business."

But what if we had stayed? By the tens of thousands if not the hundreds of thousands? What if we, like the Egyptians, had gotten in the way of business as usual, and brought more and more pressure to bear on the system, forcing the issue of aggressive war on the public consciousness, unavoidably, day after day -- and by this, as in Egypt, forcing officials of the system to declare where they stood? How badly would the power structure and its functionaries have been shaken? How many of the latter would have been emboldened to begin at least asking questions and demanding more information about the senseless rush to war? How many indeed might have voted "no confidence" in a government so deeply enmeshed in a scheme of deliberate deception aimed to perpetrate mass murder?

Maybe it would not have stopped the war. There's no way of knowing now. But we have seen in Egypt and Tunisia how an explosion of mass moral courage -- and physical courage -- can tear a hole in the zeitgeist and make a space for new realities, for transformations which seemed unthinkable only days before. Such kairotic moments (to borrow Tillich's phrase) are rare, and if they are not seized, the window closes. There we were, a million people in the center of London, of all classes, all races, all creeds, all professions, united against war. Kairos hung heavy in the air, like the invisible pressure before a thunderstorm.

But we turned away. We let it go. The moment passed. "And the war came."

That's why February 15 will remain nothing more than a brief footnote in a long, still-churning saga of atrocity and slaughter, while January 25, the day the Egyptians first took to the streets -- and stayed in the streets -- will be honored for generations as a landmark of human liberation.
(c) 2011 Chris Floyd

Lessons Of The Glorious Egyptian Revolution
By Matthew Rothschild

Wow, what an exciting day! It’s thrilling to be alive when history comes alive.

Egypt is free. Mubarak has fled. The people have won.

This is the most momentous day since the fall of the Soviet Union and the freeing of Nelson Mandela.

And let’s just stop for a moment and lay out the lessons.

First and foremost, massive nonviolent protest works. The demonstrators didn’t get their way by the force of the gun but by the force of their moral stance. This is the lesson that Gandhi taught us, that Martin Luther King taught us.

Second, even the most repressive governments and the toughest security forces cannot withstand the united rebellion of their people. This is the lesson Howard Zinn taught us.

“There is a basic weakness in governments—however massive their armies, however wealthy their treasuries, however they control the information given to the public—because their power depends on the obedience of citizens, of soldiers, of civil servants, of journalists, and writers, and teachers, and artists. When these people suspect they have been deceived, and when they withdraw their support, the government loses its legitimacy, and its power.” (From “A Chorus Against War,” The Progressive, March 2003.)

Third, this glorious revolution repudiates the bigoted notions that Muslims are somehow intrinsically more violent than followers of any other religion, and that Arab peoples are somehow “not ready” for democracy. As my colleague Amitabh Pal, the managing editor of The Progressive, writes in his upcoming book from Praeger, “Islam” Means Peace: Understanding the Muslim Principle of Nonviolence Today, there is a long history of successful nonviolent actions throughout the Muslim world.

And fourth, as usual, the U.S. government was caught flat-footed and responded haltingly and embarrassingly, especially at first but even to the end. Vice President Biden’s remark that Mubarak wasn’t a dictator, Hillary Clinton’s comment that we’ve been with the Egyptian people for 30 years, and Obama’s repeated throat clearings did not distinguish the United States.

That’s how it usually goes with the U.S. empire. It stood behind the Shah of Iran to his very last day. It stood behind Marcos in the Philippines to the very last day. It stood behind Suharto in Indonesia to the very last day. It stood behind the Duvaliers in Haiti to the very last day. All were brutal dictators, our brutal dictators, just as Mubarak was. And the U.S. government was OK with all that brutality until the people rose up and made it impossible to defend it any longer.

Today is a day to rejoice.

A day when the tritest and seemingly most unrealistic of slogans, “The People, United, Will Never Be Defeated,” has come true.

Here’s to nonviolence.

Here’s to the Egyptian people.
(c)2011 Matthew Rothschild is the editor of The Progressive magazine.

Eat The Future
By Paul Krugman On Friday, House Republicans unveiled their proposal for immediate cuts in federal spending. Uncharacteristically, they failed to accompany the release with a catchy slogan. So I’d like to propose one: Eat the Future.

I’ll explain in a minute. First, let’s talk about the dilemma the G.O.P. faces.

Republican leaders like to claim that the midterms gave them a mandate for sharp cuts in government spending. Some of us believe that the elections were less about spending than they were about persistent high unemployment, but whatever. The key point to understand is that while many voters say that they want lower spending, press the issue a bit further and it turns out that they only want to cut spending on other people.

That’s the lesson from a new survey by the Pew Research Center, in which Americans were asked whether they favored higher or lower spending in a variety of areas. It turns out that they want more, not less, spending on most things, including education and Medicare. They’re evenly divided about spending on aid to the unemployed and — surprise — defense.

The only thing they clearly want to cut is foreign aid, which most Americans believe, wrongly, accounts for a large share of the federal budget.

Pew also asked people how they would like to see states close their budget deficits. Do they favor cuts in either education or health care, the main expenses states face? No. Do they favor tax increases? No. The only deficit-reduction measure with significant support was cuts in public-employee pensions — and even there the public was evenly divided.

The moral is clear. Republicans don’t have a mandate to cut spending; they have a mandate to repeal the laws of arithmetic.

How can voters be so ill informed? In their defense, bear in mind that they have jobs, children to raise, parents to take care of. They don’t have the time or the incentive to study the federal budget, let alone state budgets (which are by and large incomprehensible). So they rely on what they hear from seemingly authoritative figures.

And what they’ve been hearing ever since Ronald Reagan is that their hard-earned dollars are going to waste, paying for vast armies of useless bureaucrats (payroll is only 5 percent of federal spending) and welfare queens driving Cadillacs. How can we expect voters to appreciate fiscal reality when politicians consistently misrepresent that reality?

Which brings me back to the Republican dilemma. The new House majority promised to deliver $100 billion in spending cuts — and its members face the prospect of Tea Party primary challenges if they fail to deliver big cuts. Yet the public opposes cuts in programs it likes — and it likes almost everything. What’s a politician to do?

The answer, once you think about it, is obvious: sacrifice the future. Focus the cuts on programs whose benefits aren’t immediate; basically, eat America’s seed corn. There will be a huge price to pay, eventually — but for now, you can keep the base happy.

If you didn’t understand that logic, you might be puzzled by many items in the House G.O.P. proposal. Why cut a billion dollars from a highly successful program that provides supplemental nutrition to pregnant mothers, infants, and young children? Why cut $648 million from nuclear nonproliferation activities? (One terrorist nuke, assembled from stray ex-Soviet fissile material, can ruin your whole day.) Why cut $578 million from the I.R.S. enforcement budget? (Letting tax cheats run wild doesn’t exactly serve the cause of deficit reduction.)

Once you understand the imperatives Republicans face, however, it all makes sense. By slashing future-oriented programs, they can deliver the instant spending cuts Tea Partiers demand, without imposing too much immediate pain on voters. And as for the future costs — a population damaged by childhood malnutrition, an increased chance of terrorist attacks, a revenue system undermined by widespread tax evasion — well, tomorrow is another day.

In a better world, politicians would talk to voters as if they were adults. They would explain that discretionary spending has little to do with the long-run imbalance between spending and revenues. They would then explain that solving that long-run problem requires two main things: reining in health-care costs and, realistically, increasing taxes to pay for the programs that Americans really want.

But Republican leaders can’t do that, of course: they refuse to admit that taxes ever need to rise, and they spent much of the last two years screaming “death panels!” in response to even the most modest, sensible efforts to ensure that Medicare dollars are well spent.

And so they had to produce something like Friday’s proposal, a plan that would save remarkably little money but would do a remarkably large amount of harm.
(c) 2011 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

"If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy"
~~~ James Madison

Fight For A World Without Coal
By Chris Hedges

The writer and philosopher Wendell Berry, armed with little more than a copy of William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” and his conscience, has been camped out for three days with a handful of other activists in the governor’s outer office in Frankfurt, Ky. Berry, who is 76 and the author of a number of important books including the “Unsettling of America” and “Life Is a Miracle,” has been sleeping on the floor of Gov. Steve Beshear’s reception area since Friday night with 13 others to protest the continued blasting of mountaintops in eastern Kentucky and the poisoning of watersheds, soil and air by coal companies.

“We’ve come, we’ve lobbied legislators,” he said when I reached him by phone this weekend. “As recently as last May we had an interview with the governor in his office. None of this has produced any effect. There are no changes in the attitudes of the government towards surface mining, and attention from the media is minimal or nonexistent. We understood, not because we like what we are doing, that this was the next thing that had to be done if we were going to carry our efforts any farther towards the elimination of surface mining.”

The extraction and burning of coal in 26 states is perhaps the most urgent environmental concern facing the United States. Nearly 40 percent of our CO2 emissions come from coal-fired plants. If we do not begin to regulate and control the coal companies and plan for a future without coal, there will be no possibility to thwart the spiraling effects of climate change. Hundreds of thousands of acres, as well as major watersheds, have already been turned into poisoned wastelands, especially as coal companies blast away mountaintops for the last seams of coal. Communities in the coal fields have been poisoned out of existence by the release of mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic, manganese, beryllium, chromium and other carcinogenic substances into the air, soil and water. Hundreds of communities are now ghost towns. The health effects in the country’s major coal fields, where the water running out of the tap is often so rancid it is undrinkable and cancer and respiratory illnesses have reached epidemic levels, are spreading far beyond the coal fields. These toxins migrate to us all.

Coal, like oil and natural gas, is in an inexorable decline. There will be major shortages in as little as two decades. The continued extraction and burning of coal at these levels make any alternative energy policy, including carbon credits, a joke. We must begin to prepare for a world without coal. If we continue to wait passively we will be faced with a crisis that will make basic energy consumption unaffordable and create widespread human misery and suffering as increasing parts of the country and the globe become uninhabitable. Corporations, in their relentless quest for profits, shredded the Kyoto Accords. Corporations, which place greed above the protection of life, determine government policy at the state and federal levels. Corporations block serious reform and regulation and keep the country bound to this wheel of fire. The only hope left is to carry out civil disobedience such as the protest under way in Frankfurt. And if you can get to Frankfurt, be there Monday morning for the planned street demonstrations. Details of Monday’s action, and of the occupation of the governor’s outer office, are available by clicking here.

Berry, who has lived and farmed for more than 40 years in Kentucky’s Henry County and who is the author of some 40 works of fiction, nonfiction and poetry, said he and 13 other activists from the state were able to meet for 20 minutes with the governor on Friday. Gov. Beshear, whose administration has joined with the Kentucky Coal Association to sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over the EPA’s attempt to enforce the Clean Water Act, agreed to two of the activists’ requests. He said he would visit some of the people and communities affected by the strip mining operations and he promised to oppose what Berry said was “the violent speech” directed at those who defy the coal companies, much of it generated by the coal industry. But Berry said this was not nearly enough. The governor’s continued support for surface mining and his refusal to acknowledge the ecological and social devastation unleashed by strip mining pushed Berry and the other activists to vow to occupy the office until their other demands were met or they were arrested; those demands include the state government’s withdrawal from the lawsuit against the EPA and steps to begin a transition away from coal. The governor’s office has not moved to arrest the group, although this could change Monday when the office reopens.

“Massive destruction is taking place and this is permanent destruction,” Berry said. “When you destroy a mountain, when you destroy a watershed, when you open the earth so as to permit the escape of trace minerals, acids and other harmful substances into the watershed it permanently affects people’s water supply downstream. That isn’t going to stop within anybody’s lifetime and probably the lifetime of several generations. We would say that that is massive destruction. It involves the oppression of the people who live in the proximity of the mines. Furthermore, it involves a permanent threat to the people who are dependent on these watersheds for drinking water. There is a high incidence in the coal fields of various kinds of cancer. There is oppression.”

“Civil disobedience is all we had left. We are not at present being civilly disobedient, but this event we are carrying on now in Frankfurt required our willingness to be civil disobedient and to be arrested. In our opinion this was the last resort. We had tried everything in our power to get attention to our problems and to have the existence of the problems even acknowledged in state government in a public way and we had failed year after year. There simply came a time when on the part of a number of people this readiness occurred. And so we are now where we are.”

Berry said that the state and federal governments’ refusal to concern themselves with the rights of citizens and the stewardship of the ecosystem that makes human life possible must now be fought on the ground. The tactics he has employed in Frankfurt have to begin to be employed across the country if there is to be any hope of thwarting the effects of climate change and breaking the country’s reliance on coal and other fossil fuels.

“It is possible now to say that this is a controversy involving on one side citizens acting on behalf of the mere earth and its ecosphere for the sake merely of their children, grandchildren and on down into the future,” he said. “On the other side are very powerful and very wealthy interests. The influence of those powerful and wealthy interests upon the government is excessive and unacceptable finally to we who are mere citizens.”

“It’s a mistake to approach this simply from the standpoint of climate change. The problems that we’re up against are the problems of greed and waste. If we correct those problems, whether or not we are confronted with climate change, we will certainly improve our lot in this world and our prospects.”

“There is the impulse that goes by the name of denial. People don’t want to experience the discomfort of finding something untrue or wrong that they have always assumed to be true or right. There are economic arrangements that enforce that; for instance the bookkeeping in the current economy is very short-term. The people who run corporations are not under obligation to look far into the future, even necessarily at the interests of the very corporations they are working for. What they are working for is as large a dividend as possible in this accounting period to their shareholders. We are living in an economy and a climate in which short-term thinking is not only encouraged but in some ways enforced. There is even a kind of moral mechanism. The people who are in charge of these destructive corporations account to themselves not in terms of the effects on the world, but account for themselves in terms of their obligations to shareholders, which is an entirely different thing. Coal companies may be destroying the world, but they are doing so on behalf of their shareholders.”

“You can’t dismiss quantification as a necessary process, but when you begin to quantify things that are not quantities, then you begin to get in trouble. The health of an ecosystem, for instance, can’t be reduced to a quantity. The health of a water supply can’t be very easily reduced to a quantity. What we are talking about here is not just that, we’re talking about the faith of neighborliness in these coal fields. We are instructed by everything in our tradition, our local community traditions, to be good neighbors to one another. The coal companies have been historically the worst possible neighbors. If they damage somebody’s home water supply, for instance, they will do anything to keep from paying for it. That record has been established. The mistreatment of individual citizens in these rural neighborhoods has accumulated a long record, a massive record. There has been a lot of bad behavior towards neighbors. This is remembered. This is part of the motivation for our presence here.”

“To accept that there is nothing to do is to despair. It is to become in some fundamental way less than human. Those of us who are protesting are protesting in part for our own sake to keep ourselves whole as human beings. We don’t agree that it is impossible because we don’t intend trying to stop it. I’m speaking as somebody who’s been involved in these efforts for a long time and we have stopped some things. We stopped the project for damming the Red River Gorge. We stopped the Louisville International Jetport. We stopped the nuclear power plant that was scheduled to be built, and was nearly built, at Marble Hill in southern Indiana on the Ohio River. There is no reason and I don’t believe there ever is a reason to despair that what is wrong by clear moral and ecological standards cannot be corrected.”

“We have to put ourselves in the way of business as usual. It is a little bit hard to give you a neat answer because we don’t know where this is going from here, we don’t know what’s going to be required of us after this. We are all pretty conscious that what we’ve done here this weekend we are going to belong to for a while and be responsible for.”

(c) 2011 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. He is the author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. His latest book is, "“Death Of The Liberal Class.”

Egypt, USA

By David Michael Green

Whatever happens next in Egypt – and that question remains wide open – it’s nice to see the good guys win one once in a while, ain’t it?

If it seems like that’s a rare occurrence these days, that’s because it is.

And if it seems like what happened in Egypt was the product of a long and hard fought battle against the forces of darkness and repression, that’s because it was. The people of that country had to endure thirty years of (just the current) dictatorship before they could finally emerge from underneath that heaviest of stones.

If you have any doubt about whether this is a victory for the forces of light over darkness, just look at the reaction of American neocons. Disingenuously claiming all these years to be champions of democracy and freedom, they are deafeningly silent today (at best), as democracy and freedom triumph in Egypt. I’m not sure which I like better, seeing Egyptians liberated, or seeing neocons exposed and squashed. But why decide? Today I get to enjoy both.

In a way, what has happened in Egypt makes perfect sense. In China, a near-totalitarian dictatorship has offered a grand bargain to its people over that same period of the last thirty years. The government said “We will give you prosperity, in exchange for which, you will shut up and never challenge our authority.” As obnoxious as repression and totalitarianism and wholesale human rights violations are, you cannot say that this was entirely a bad deal for the Chinese public, except in comparison to what it might have been in a more perfect world.

Which largely explains why dissent in China has been scattered and muted all these years. There are tens of millions of Chinese who are members of a brand-spanking-new middle class. They have good educations, good jobs, automobiles, computers and cell phones. They eat meat and they go to movies and concerts. Most of these people’s parents were – quite literally – dirt-poor peasants, living lives no different than their forebears did for millennia. This turnaround represents an astonishing, and astonishingly rapid, transformation of a society, and of the personal life fortunes of individuals. People can readily see the difference, because there was nothing incremental about it. Their parents were raised in the tenth century, they grew up in the twenty-first. What’s more, the future looks bright for increasing individual prosperity, and for increasing national power, in a country where nationalist pride and agitation is rising.

I don’t think that the Chinese government’s repression of political and human rights can last forever, and I especially don’t think it should. Indeed, there is compelling evidence that it is precisely such a process of economic empowerment in societies across the planet that ultimately leads to subsequent demands for political enfranchisement. This makes a lot of sense in the abstract, and it fits with the notions of Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which argues that humans only pursue the niceties of art and culture and even freedom once they’ve satisfied the necessities of survival. So I won’t be surprised if the Chinese rise up at some point and demand their freedoms from an autocratic government. But neither am I surprised that they largely have not done so to date. So far, at least, the government has kept up its end of the bargain, and made the Chinese people rich. One can only complain so much about that. And even if you do, good luck finding loads of others to line up behind you, and to risk their newfound prosperity by doing so.

By the same logic, the rising up of educated young people in Egypt, Tunisia, Iran and elsewhere in the region is not a surprise either. They didn’t get the bargain that the Chinese people got. Instead, they got all of the repression and none of the prosperity. And this is precisely what they are now agitating against. Their lives are shitty, and have heretofore shown no signs of changing for the better. Meanwhile, they are ruled over by repressive oligarchs such as Hosni Mubarak, people whose unmitigated desire for increasing wealth – even beyond what they could possibly spend in a lifetime – is as insatiable as it is disgusting. Mubarak is reported to possibly be the richest man on the planet. And yet he was presiding over a vast population of poor people, half of whom live off of less than two dollars a day. Somehow, I don’t think those two facts are coincidental, nor do I believe that the folks in Tahrir Square think so either.

It’s somewhat surprising that people will tolerate such a bad bargain for so long, but of course there are good reasons for that. Tradition is one. If you’ve never known anything different, you might not understand that you can do better. Ignorance of external alternatives is another. If you don’t know what other people have because of poor education, censorship and massive propaganda, you’ll be less inclined to rise up and demand something better for yourself. Then there’s always good old fashioned diversionary tactics. Your problem is caused by the Jews! Or the gays! Or the infidels! Etc. Finally, when all else fails, dictators can get a heckuva lot of mileage out of basic, unadulterated repression. There’s nothing like a secret police wielding various instruments of terror to pacify an angry public and deliver a compliant society.

So, to sum, we have one model out there in the world, where the public has rationally accepted a lack of political freedom in exchange for economic prosperity. And we have another where we can equally well understand a people who suffered with the lack of both in relative silence for decades, for all the reasons listed above. Likewise, we can also understand why they have finally risen up in disgust to demand serious change, especially as a new generation of wired-in young folks could finally come to see what others had and what they didn’t. All these scenarios make a good deal of sense.

What doesn’t make any sense is what is happening (or, especially, what is not happening) in the United States. This country had it made. In 1945, its economy was equal to the entire rest of the world’s, combined, while the population of the US equals only one-twentieth of the world total. Granted, part of the explanation for that was due to some very unique special circumstances of the time. Nevertheless, the United States was by far and away the richest country on the planet, and even remains so to this day. More importantly, for decades that wealth was distributed in an increasingly egalitarian fashion. From the 1930s through the 1970s, the United States built a massive and robust middle class where hardly any had existed before, and it put a much greater, though certainly imperfect, safety net underneath the poor than had ever previously existed. The differences between rich and poor were narrowing, and government programs were largely fully paid for through a system of adequate taxation, progressively structured.

Moreover, on top of this economic prosperity, the United States maintained an enviable record of democracy and respect for human rights at home (what we do in places like Egypt is another matter altogether). A record way less than perfect, to be sure, but if realistically compared to what could be found in the rest of the world, one that was still enviable.

What’s amazing in our time is to watch as this country trades in its very high level of national prosperity and a reasonably authentic democracy for economic and political systems that every day grow closer to the Mubarak model, even as Egyptians are simultaneously moving in precisely the opposite direction. It is obvious why the people of Egypt would want to trade up for something better. Rather less clear, shall we say, is why the American public has for a generation now consistently chosen to go in the opposite direction.

But that is exactly what has happened. Over the last three decades, as the Chinese middle class expanded and the Egyptian one idled, America’s has been contracting. Is that because the US economy has been stuck in neutral, or worse, in recession? Nope. GDP growth has been pretty darn healthy over those thirty years. It’s just that almost every penny of that growth has gone to the already rich, while the middle, working and poor classes continue to sink. Well, okay, did that maldistribution of wealth occur by accident? No, in fact, it is precisely the result of the public policies we adopted, on issues ranging from taxation to trade to labor relations to regulation to bailouts to spending priorities to corporate welfare. The net result of these has been to produce the greatest transfer of wealth in all of human history – upward, from non-elites to elites.

On the political side, the imperfect democracy of the past has turned into rather a shell of a democracy today. It’s an open question what would happen if the public tried to restore a real democracy to this country, through, say, a constitutional amendment providing for thorough campaign finance reform, with the result of divorcing money from politics and producing legislation crafted in the public interest, not for special interests. It may well be that we’re so far down the line now that such an attempt would be met with violent repression, thus necessitating an Egypt-like reaction from below. Or it may be that such change is still possible. What is absolutely clear, however, is that nobody is talking that talk right now, let alone walking that walk.

One of the most amazing facts about our historical moment is the near complete absence of a progressive narrative anywhere among serious players in our political constellation. Sure, there is the occasional Dennis Kucinich or Bernie Sanders. But, generally, there’s hardly any real difference from one politician to the next on these issues. All we have to choose from is right and righter, dumb and dumber, poor and poorer. Notwithstanding the ludicrous claims of the mouthfoamers on the right that Barack Obama is non-American Muslim socialist, this president is in fact to progressivism what the Monkees were to rock-and-roll. Except that, for all their flaws and artifice, I can actually stand to listen to the Monkees. Increasingly, I can no longer say that about Obama anymore. Despite the fact that when he speaks he says absolutely nothing – or is it precisely because of that fact? – when this human-platitude-production-machine of a president speaks these days, I can barely stand to listen.

Obama is both symptom and cause. It is now fully clear that he is part of the wrecking crew sent to annihilate the standard of living for 300 million people, so that a handful of plutocrats and oligarchs can add third football-field-sized yachts to their existing two. That an individual of his background and promise (not to mention promises) could sell-out so entirely is saddening and maddening, but ultimately more a statement of egregiousness than novelty. It happens a lot. Indeed, Obama didn’t even pioneer that ugly and shameful path. Bill Clinton did.

It isn’t so puzzling that people will sell out when the price is right, even someone emerging from progressive home values, someone who as a minority understands the significance of civil rights issues, someone who by trade has been a community organizer and a scholar of constitutional law. What is more difficult to understand is why the American public decided to spend the last three decades doing precisely the opposite of what the Egyptian public has been doing over the last three weeks. Why voluntarily lower your stand of living? Why voluntarily diminish your democracy? Why oscillate between crude kleptocrats like Reagan and Little Bush, on the one hand, and clever kleptocrats like Clinton and Obama, on the other?

I suspect probably what happened is that as the world emerged from its unnatural condition following World War II, the economic walls tightened a bit around somewhat artificially prosperous middle class Americans. In response, they have been looking for ways ever since to keep from sinking economically, and have accordingly been following snake-oil predators on the right who have been ever happy to sell them a pre-packaged formula of blame-based politics. Again, it’s the gays. It’s the illegal immigrants. It’s the foreign bogeymen. It’s the socialists.

It works. But more amazing is that it works in the long run. Imagine if you were an alcoholic, and your addiction had caused you to lose your job, lose your family, smash your car and wreck your health. Then imagine that you sat down and thought long and hard about finding a solution for your woes, only to decide that what you obviously needed to do was double the volume of booze you’re sucking down each day. Welcome to America, 2011.

We’ve gone from Reagan rightists, to Gingrich rightists to now Palin rightists, with the Democratic Party and the electorate following along, always one small step behind on this march over a cliff. And each time the radical program of the right not only fails to solve our problems but rather further exacerbates them, we reach for another, bigger bottle of that cheap regressive whiskey. Surprise, surprise, then, when the bottom falls out altogether, just as it is doing now.

If the reverse Egyptian paradigm holds true, we should be expecting the last systemic plank to fall into place sometime soon, that being political repression. You can still say pretty much whatever you want in the United States, though the more truthful you are the smaller your audience will be (the readers of this article will, I’m sure, attest to that, and I thank both of them for doing so!). But that freedom is likely to be tolerated merely as long as it is irrelevant to the existing plutocracy’s maintenance of power. Once political speech actually begins to challenge this order – if it ever does – all bets are off as to whether it will continue to be tolerated. At that point, there will be serious temptation on the part of the master class to add political repression to the existing suite of a hollow middle class and a hollow democracy. We shall see.

Meanwhile, if there’s bad news on the horizon it is that Americans have still not yet understood that the Egyptian paradigm applies equally to the United States. Both are, at core, kleptocratic regimes. In particular, I often find myself dismayed at the lack of consciousness among young people with regard to how prior generations (especially mine) have royally screwed them, partying away our on tax holidays, free wars and unmatched deficit spending, and leaving them instead crumbling infrastructure, a broken national reputation, and a massive pile of our debt in its place. There should be generational (at a minimum) revolution bubbling in this country, but if I mention these notions to my college students, I typically find that the older guy in the room is the only one angry about how they’ve been shafted. Alas, Egyptian kids get it, Americans haven’t gotten there yet.

If there’s good news on the horizon it is that technological development may make it very, very difficult to repress and smash movements for freedom in our time. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the uprisings we’ve seen in Iran and Tunisia and Egypt, led by young folks, have come at the same time as the advent of mass communication through social networking technology. You can still repress people, but it looks like it’s a lot harder to do nowadays, when people don’t need a mainstream media anymore to send and receive information.

That’s a fact that may come in handy some day in the United States.

Part of me hopes not, because it will mean that the shit has finally hit the fan.

But more of me hopes so, because it will mean that the shit has finally hit the fan.
(c) 2011 David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York. He is delighted to receive readers' reactions to his articles, but regrets that time constraints do not always allow him to respond. More of his work can be found at his website,

The Dead Letter Office...

Rick gives the corpo-rat salute

Heil Obama,

Dear Gouverneur Snyder,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and your demanding a tax on Social Security Checks, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan 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 with diamonds clusters, presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 04-01-2011. We salute you Herr Snyder, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

"Journalists" Angry Over The Commission Of Journalism
By Glenn Greenwald

Over the weekend, The Los Angeles' Times James Rainey mocked CNN's Anderson Cooper for repeatedly using the word "lie" to describe the factually false statements of Egyptian leaders. Though Rainey ultimately concluded that "it's hard to find fault with what Cooper had to say" -- meaning that everything Cooper identified as a "lie" was, in fact, a "lie" -- the bulk of Rainey's column derided the CNN anchor for his statements ("Cooper's accusations of 'lies' and 'lying' got so thick on Wednesday's show that the host seemed to be channeling comic (and now U.S. Sen.) Al Franken’s 2003 book, 'Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them'"). Rainey also suggested that the harsh denunciations of Mubarak's false statements were merely part of "Cooper's pronounced shift toward more opinion-making in recent months . . . trying to adopt the more commentary-heavy approach of [CNN's] higher-rated competitors, Fox and MSNBC." To Rainey, when a journalist calls a government lie a "lie," that's veering into "commentary-heavy opinion-making" rather than objective journalism (h/t Mediaite).

Yesterday, Cooper's CNN colleague, media critic Howard Kurtz, sounded the same criticism but went even further. On his Reliable Sources program, Kurtz showed a video clip of Cooper and then posed the following question to guest Christopher Dickey of Newsweek:


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: What we heard were the same lies we've heard from [Mubarak] and his regime for more than two weeks now. What we heard is a man who clearly believes that he is Egypt. He kept repeating this lie that this is all some sort of foreign interference.


KURTZ: Chris Dickey, Anderson Cooper repeatedly using the word lies. Now I think most journalists would agree with him, perhaps most Americans would agree with him. But should an anchor and correspondent be taking sides on this kind of story?

To Kurtz, when a journalist accurately points out that a powerful political leader is lying, that's "taking sides," a departure from journalistic objectivity, something improper. In reply, Dickey agreed with that assessment, noting that "part of the soul of [Cooper's] show is to take sides" and be "committed to a certain vision of the story." Like Rainey, Dickey was forced to acknowledge that all of the statements Cooper identified as "lies" were actually lies, and thus magnanimously decreed: "I think Anderson can be forgiven for using that word in that context." Kurtz then patronizingly noted: "And of course, Anderson Cooper was repeatedly punched in the head when he was covering the demonstrations" -- as though his departure from good journalistic objectivity can at least be understood here (though of course not justified) because of the emotional trauma he suffered.

Rainey, Kurtz and Dickey all have this exactly backwards. Identifying lies told by powerful political leaders -- and describing them as such -- is what good journalists do, by definition. It's the crux of adversarial journalism, of a "watchdog" press. "Objectivity" does not require refraining from pointing out the falsity of government claims. The opposite is true; objectivity requires that a journalist do exactly that: treat factually false statements as false. "Objectivity" is breached not when a journalist calls a lie a "lie," but when they refuse to do so, when they treat lies told by powerful political officials as though they're viable, reasonable interpretations of subjective questions. The very idea that a journalist is engaged in "opinion-making" or is "taking sides" by calling a lie a "lie" is ludicrous; the only "side" such a journalist is taking is with facts, with the truth. It's when a journalist fails to identify a false statement as such that they are "taking sides" -- they're siding with those in power by deceitfully depicting their demonstrably false statements as something other than lies.

This warped reasoning is one of the prime diseases plaguing establishment political journalism in the U.S. Most establishment journalists are perfectly willing to use the word "lie" for powerless, demonized or marginalized people, but they genuinely believe that it is an improper breach of journalistic objectivity to point out when powerful political officials are lying. They adamantly believe that such an activity -- which is a core purpose of political journalism -- is outside the purview of their function. The one who put this best was NBC News' David Gregory when he vigorously defended the American media from criticisms (voiced at the time by former Bush Press Secretary Scott McClellan) that they failed to do their job in the run-up to the Iraq War:

I think there are a lot of critics who think that . . . . if we did not stand up and say this is bogus, and you're a liar, and why are you doing this, that we didn't do our job. I respectfully disagree. It's not our role.

That these establishment journalists believe that pointing out the lies of powerful political leaders is "not their role" -- indeed, is a violation of the rules that govern what they do -- explains a large part of the failings of both America's media class and its political class. Ironically, David Gregory is ultimately right that doing this is "not his role"; he's not paid by NBC News and its owners to alert the American citizenry to lies told by the U.S. Government (i.e., he's not paid to be an adversarial journalist). He's there to do the opposite: to vest those lies with respect and depict them as reasonable statements to be subjectively considered along with the truth. But it's in these moments when they are so candid about what their actual role is -- or when they attack people like Cooper for the rare commission of actual journalism -- that they are at their most (unintentionally) informative.

All this said, I'd be much more impressed with Cooper if he used such language for the lies told by American political leaders (rather than reviled, weakened Middle East dictators on their way out of power). As journalist and Communications Professor Marc Cooper told Rainey:

But it begs a monster question: Is CNN permitted to call only foreign leaders liars? How refreshing it would be to see that same piercing candor directed at American politicians when they overtly lie.

Had Anderson Cooper used such harsh language to describe the statements of someone universally despised in American mainstream political circles (an American Enemy -- such as, say, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Hugo Chavez), it would likely have gone unnoticed. But here, Cooper used such language to condemn one of America's closest and most cherished allies, and it was thus gently deemed a departure from journalistic propriety. But had Cooper said such things about a leading American political official, then a true journalistic scandal would have erupted. Declaring the statements of an American political leader to be a lie is one of the most rigidly enforced taboos in American journalism. That this hallmark of real journalism is strictly prohibited -- "It's not our role," explained the Meet the Press host -- tells one all there is to know about the function which most establishment journalists fulfill.

UPDATE: To be clear -- in response to a few comments and emails: the important point is not whether something is labeled a "lie" -- whether that word is used (although it should be when appropriate and clear); what matters is that factually false statements are clearly designated and documented as such, not treated as merely "one side of the story" deserving neutral and respectful airing on equal footing with the truth.
(c) 2011 Glenn Greenwald. was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book "How Would a Patriot Act?," a critique of the Bush administration's use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, "A Tragic Legacy," examines the Bush legacy.

America-Where Do Mischievousness Begin, And Where Does It End?
Cheney's mischeif in the woods

By J. Alva Scruggs

Mischievous- a seeming harmless and pleasant word when used to describe the pranks of little boys and girls! But in it's evolution, as people grow into adults it takes on very serious, direr definitions and consequences boarding on pathological criminality and cruelty! The dictionary describes “mischievous” in children as - naughtily or annoyingly playful; "teasing and worrying with impish laughter;" "a wicked prank" impish; implike; pixilated; prankish; puckish; arch; wicked and playful. Full of fun and high spirits; "playful children just let loose from school."

However, in the mature adult a more mature form of mischievous is given as, deliberately causing harm or damage; "mischievous rumors and falsehoods;" harmful causing or capable of causing harm; "too much sun is harmful to the skin"; "harmful effects of smoking!"

When little Bobby and Jill as children pulled wings off butterflies or pulled the dog’s tail they were admired and laughed at by their admiring adults.

This was the harmless form of being cute and mischief. When Bobby and Jill were in middle school their mischief acts became pulling little girls hair or tripping up the gangly little boys regularly. This was annoying but not so hurtful. When Bobby and Jill went to college this “Mischief” became such things as hazing in fraternities and sororities, discharging guns in dormitories, and making other peers drink large amounts of whisky from funnels. This was potentially deadly and frowned upon. Now when fully-grown politicians Bobby and Jill committed acts of rigging elections and rigging economic institutions. This became verbally deniable and hard to condemn because the power from those doing this “Mischief” was tremendous, violent, and done with malice and forethought!

Was Huckleberry Finn a mischief boy and Hitler a mischief dictator? Is The Tea Party’s acts of spreading mass fears and unwieldy emotions just “Mischief” or deadly to Democracy as we would think it should be?

Are the CEOs of industry just committing “Mischief” that America can admire and have our children emulate as future leaders and good citizens?

Are CEO’s, drug dealers, rapist, muggers. the Boehners, G. W. Bush (WMD affirmations) Palins, Limbaughs, The Party of “NO,” Muslim Jihadiest, and KKK just “Mischief” makers, or what? Since a seventeen old boy is not jailed for a crime of the same magnitude, as a boy of eighteen years, is there an age where you can grow out of a “Mischief” maker?

If Hitler was a cruel dictator at the age of seventeen, would he just be call just a “Mischief maker” by history? Are Wall Street and the Banking Industry just “boys-being-boys/Mischief makers” or are they real criminals and traitors to our nation? Is American just being "Mischievous" when its foreign policies supports dictators that violate the human right of its citizens?

So we can see that the evolution of an acceptable “Mischief” maker is a characteristic that America must define in order to deal with it for its very survival!
© 2011 Dr. J. Alva Scruggs, BS, MS, MA, EdD is an author, journalist and columnist. He looks forward to your comments.

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Randy Jones ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Not Ready To Make Nice
By Dixie Chicks

Forgive, sounds good
Forget, I'm not sure I could
They say time heals everything
But I'm still waiting

I'm through with doubt
There's nothing left for me to figure out
I've paid a price
And I'll keep paying

I'm not ready to make nice
I'm not ready to back down
I'm still mad as hell and
I don't have time to go round and round and round
It's too late to make it right
I probably wouldn't if I could
'Cause I'm mad as hell
Can't bring myself to do what it is you think I should

I know you said
Can't you just get over it
It turned my whole world around
And I kind of like it

I made my bed and I sleep like a baby
With no regrets and I don't mind sayin'
It's a sad sad story when a mother will teach her
Daughter that she ought to hate a perfect stranger
And how in the world can the words that I said
Send somebody so over the edge
That they'd write me a letter
Sayin' that I better shut up and sing
Or my life will be over

I'm not ready to make nice
I'm not ready to back down
I'm still mad as hell and
I don't have time to go round and round and round
It's too late to make it right
I probably wouldn't if I could
'Cause I'm mad as hell
Can't bring myself to do what it is you think I should

I'm not ready to make nice
I'm not ready to back down
I'm still mad as hell and
I don't have time to go round and round and round
It's too late to make it right
I probably wouldn't if I could
'Cause I'm mad as hell
Can't bring myself to do what it is you think I should

Forgive, sounds good
Forget, I'm not sure I could
They say time heals everything
But I'm still waiting
© 2006/2011 Dixie Chicks

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Denial On De Nile
By Will Durst

The whole world holds its breath as we view through splayed fingers the unrest that is the Egyptian uprising. Or as Hosni Mubarak sees it: ten or twenty rabble rousing unemployed slacker agents of the West with too much time on their hands up to no good.

That’s the problem with entrenched dictators: they interact with their people less often than they enter Sinai Peninsula sheep shearing competitions disguised as shepherds’ assistant. The man is so far behind the insurgency curve he probably sees his own running feet in front of him and even that has failed to fill him with any discernible alacrity.

Typically, these ingrained despots try to apply 30 year- old answers to modern problems. With denial being a major arrow in their ancient quiver. Denial on de Nile. Mubarak keeps asking what the pesky agitators want.

"Well, sir, they want you out."

"How about if I replace the Cabinet with different cronies?"

"Sir, sorry, but you don't get it. The people want you gone. A memory. In the archives. Flying down Abdication Street. Walk like an Egyptian, only really really fast. Don't let the door knob hit you in the butt on the way out- gone."

"Wait, I know. A Vice President. We've never had one before. Maybe our former head of intelligence."

"No, sir, seriously, you don't have to stop being President of every country, you just have to stop being President of THIS country. The only time they want to see your face again is on a coin, with a four digit number to the right of the dash after your birth year."

Along with scary implications for touring mummy exhibits and world energy prices, this incipient revolution raises fears over the future of Facebook. How does a government shut down the entire Internet? Falling into the wrong hands, this information holds the chilling prospect of huge numbers of young people forced to spend much of their free time watching syndicated episodes of Two and a Half Men. The one piece of good news: this summer's Nile River Cruise packages- going for a song.

Further demonstrating a cluelessness best measured in Jersey Shore degrees, the Egyptian President screwed up the order of the Unofficial Despot Rebellion Response Handbook, unleashing a mob of pro- regime protesters before blaming the press for all his problems. Every second year Egyptian Military School cadet knows the first thing you do is blame the media. One thing I've always been curious about, what do pro- regime protesters chant? "Up with Repression!" "Jobs Aren't for Everybody!" "We want Better Torture!"

Pro- regime protesters: a polite way of saying government thugs whose sole purpose is to crack heads at peaceful demonstrations. Or as they're known around here, the FBI. Speaking of us, around whom the whole world revolves, American outcry has been remarkably muted, even though we witnessed the unspeakable horror of seeing Anderson Cooper punched and Katie Couric jostled.

Diplomatically, of course, Obama needs to be careful. His task is to encourage the demonstrators while allowing the Egyptian leader to save face. Fortunately, equivocation is one of our President's strong suits. This guy has straddled so many fences he could build a tree house in a redwood from the splinters in his butt. A skill Mubarak must now regret, he never bothered to learn.
(c) 2011 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. Early next year: “Where the Rogue Things Go!” From Ulysses Press.

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Issues & Alibis Vol 11 # 07 (c) 02/18/2011

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