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In This Edition

David Michael Green says with tongue firmly planted in cheek, "Jesus Christ America: Get Control Of Your Women Folk Already, Would Ya?"

Uri Avnery tells of, "Adnan's Victory."

Naomi Wolf with a must read, "The NDAA."

David Sirota observes, "The Pentagon's Amnesia-Inducing Propaganda."

Jim Hightower finds, "Keene Stands Up For Common Sense- And Itself."

Ralph Nader demands a new, "Minimum Wage."

James Donahue finds, "Malicious Google Scam Uncovered."

Max Blumenthal joins us with a scoop, "Progressive Democratic Hero Elizabeth Warren Enlists To Serve AIPAC's Pro-War Agenda."

David Swanson is all about, "Un-Cheating Justice."

Randal Amster returns with, "Debt Of Gratitude."

Paul Krugman explains, "What Ails Europe?"

Phil Rockstroh lectures, "On Regaining A Spirit Of Defiance."

Robert Reich concludes, "As Santorum And Romney Battle For The Loony Right, The Rest Of Us Should Not Gloat."

Andrew Breitbart wins the first posthumous, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

John Nichols fears, "Scott Walker's Koch Connection Goes Bad."

Sam Harris says it's getting, "Better And Better."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion reports, "Disturbed Beltway Sources Report Congress Eerily Cooperative Today" but first Uncle Ernie exposes, "Willards's America."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Keith Knight, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Tom Tomorrow, RJ Matson, Bill Day, Bruce Plante, Nonnie 9999, Dees Illustration.Com, Relativity Media, Imikmi.Com, Free Press, Cavalier Daily, Lenco Industries, Paul J Richards/AFP/Getty Images, You Tube.Com and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

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

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

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Willards's America
By Ernest Stewart

"I actually love this state. This feels good being back in Michigan ... I like the fact that most of the cars I see are Detroit-made automobiles. I drove a Mustang and a Chevy pickup truck. Ann drives a couple of Cadillacs!" ~~~ Willard Romney

Every sperm is sacred.
Every sperm is great.
If a sperm is wasted,
God gets quite irate.
Every Sperm Is Sacred ~~~ Monty Python

"Monsanto's new sweet corn produces Bt toxin, a genetically-modified version of an insecticide from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis. Until now, Monsanto's Bt corn and cotton crops have mostly been used in animal feed and highly processed ingredients. Even with this limited exposure, Bt toxin has already been found in the blood of pregnant women and fetuses. No one knows what will happen to people who eat Monsanto's new Bt sweet corn, but Bt crops have proven deadly for grazing animals from livestock to monarch butterflies." ~~~ Alexis Baden-Mayer ~ Organic Bytes

"In helping others, we shall help ourselves, for whatever good we give out completes the circle and comes back to us."
~~~ Flora Edwards ~~~

Willard won Michigan, well, sort of! The current final tally is Willard with 41% and Rick with 38%, with a 3% plus or minus error. They both won 11 delegates, with another 8 delegates going to others, but who might be given to either candidate; so, Willard might actually lose Michigan when it comes to the convention. Compare this to his showing in 2008, when Willard won Michigan in a landslide over McCain

I'm surprised he won anything at all, considering how the working class hates him for saying things like:

"If General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye. It won't go overnight, but its demise will be virtually guaranteed."


"I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there."

Tens of thousand workers who've had a taste of that "safety net" (that the Rethuglicans have been doing their very best to destroy and give to the 1%) are now working again, making a livable wage thanks to the bailout will certainly remember those quotes come November!

Had it been most anyone except Rick, Willard would have gotten blown away in his "home" state.

Willard hasn't lived in Michigan since he dodged the draft by going to France to live in a Chateau instead of being drafted and going to Vietnam like his peers did!

Willard has made himself quite clear about how he feels about the mob with statements like this:

"Corporations are people, my friend."


"Dependency is death to initiative, to risk-taking and opportunity. It's time to stop the spread of government dependency and fight it like the poison it is."

So your vote doesn't count; because the 1% knows best -- just like it knew best in 1787 when they came up with the Electoral College, since the common man wasn't smart enough to know for whom to vote, even though it was the common man who fought and died for the 1% -- which shows you how smart they were!

For all of you who have lost everything to the Rethuglicans, you'll be treated to losing your food stamps and health care if Willard has his way. Pull yourself up by your boot straps as Willard did; well, Willard did with daddy's money and the help from the Moron church!

While Willard feels the pain of gay folk, they must remain second-class citizens; because they've always been outcasts, and Willard is a very traditional kind of guy:

"Like me, the great majority of Americans wish both to preserve the traditional definition of marriage and to oppose bias and intolerance directed towards gays and lesbians."

So I guess Willard must oppose himself as he is full of bias and intolerance towards gay folk, huh?

Yep, he's just a regular sort of guy, just like the rest of us. For example while Willard doesn't really watch NASCAR, he does have friends who do, just like you do, right?:

"(I don't watch NASCAR) not as closely as some of the most ardent fans. But I have some great friends who are NASCAR team owners."

I know, for example, that I have NASCAR team owners over almost every week for brunch, don't you? We while away the hours drinking Napoleon Brandy, smoking Cuban cigars and chatting about the silly hoi polloi!

Yeah, Willard is just plain folks, like you and me; I mean, aren't you expecting to become a god -- with your own planet of worshippers when you die? Willard is -- how's that for a commonalities?

In Other News

I think I've figured it out? The reason why Rethuglicans hate women and are trying to do their best to control women's vaginas. This is nothing new; they've been at this for years; but thanks to the 2010 elections, when they picked up total control in some state houses and legislatures, they've been busy little beavers!

For example, the women down in Virginia (the state named after the Virgin Queen Elizabeth, who wasn't really a virgin as she lost her virginity to a stuffed "bull's pizzle" at age 11 -- the things you learn when you're a poli sci major) led this year's pack of morons. These geniuses decided that Virginia women who want a abortion would hence forth be forced to be raped by the state of Virginia with an ultrasound probe! Imagine what this might do to a women who was impregnated by a rapist! First, raped my a mad man, then raped again by a whole House full of mad men. Fortunately, after it hit the fan, the Governor Bob McDonnell had second thoughts about signing the bill that he had formerly said he'd sign as soon as it hit his desk. However, he was a bit slow on the uptake and is no longer being considered for a chance to be the Rethuglicans choice for Vice President. The bill has been put off until after the election.

Way down yonder in Alabama, a similar bill was working it's way through the Senate when a reporter asked Governor Robert Bentley if he'd sign the legislation and Bob said he wasn't aware of it, but immediately called Senator Clay Scofield and told him to cool it -- as it was all out in the open -- and save it for another day. Don't worry, ladies, you'll soon be raped by the state of Alabama, if you let them have their way; but you'll have to wait until after the elections.

Thinking that this is just a red state phenomena in the "former" rebel states? Yes and no. Yes, it is a red state thing; but not all the red states are below that Manson/Nixon line. A good example is the once-blue, now bright red state of Pennsylvania which has a similar bill of its own making the legislative rounds from the Rethuglican-controlled House and Senate to Governor Tom Corbett's desk. Apparently, it hasn't hit the fan in Harrisburg yet, and may not as this is the very same bunch of traitors that made Christianity the official religion of Pennsylvania with their making 2012 the year of the Bible. I guess next year will be the year of the Koran?

Ergo, the dialectical of my thesis is that Rethuglicans, being the fascist animals that they are, the control freaks that they are, and the voyeurs that they are, have a need to punish women for daring to want to control their own bodies. Like that joke on women's health held by Darrell Issa, the Chair of the House Oversight Committee, who hosted an all-male panel, refusing to allow women to testify about women's health care and the need for contraception at a hearing about contraception. They don't need no input from ladies; they know it all! Besides, since their wives cut them off and they have no control over the vagina's in their homes and the fact that many of them are homosexual or bi-sexual, still hiding in their closet, they have to take all this hatred and anger out on women somehow, and in many cases their religious cults tell them they must be the master, and women their slaves ,you get these kinds of bills coming out. Ladies, unless you're a Stepford wife, do explain why you would even consider voting for the Rethuglicans?

And Finally

This one comes from our "It's Always Something" department. Those crazy knuckleheads over at Wally World proudly announced that as early as this summer, they will be selling Franken Corn -- from their good friends over at Monsanto -- in their produce departments.

Two dozen ears, please!

Walmart is all set to sell a new form of genetically-engineered (GE) sweet corn as early as this summer. Monsanto's Bt sweet corn contains "three GE traits that have never before been consumed directly by humans," and have not been subjected to thorough safety testing. There will be no labeling whatsoever indicating that the corn is a genetically-modified organism. How does it feel to be a lab rat, America? The latest from the FDA this week is that in the future any GMO "food" will be rushed to market so that Monsanto and the rest don't lose any profits! Your tax dollars at work, America! Here's what USDA deputy administrator Michael Gregoire said: "The USDA's goal is to cut the approval time for GMO crops in half in order to speedily implement them into the global food supply. The current USDA process takes longer than we would like due to public interest, legal challenges, and the challenges associated with the advent of national organic food standards."

Let's get the water boiling!

GE corn is not fit for human consumption, unless it is heavily processed into products like corn oil and everybody's favorite corn poison, a.k.a. "high fructose corn syrup" soon to be labeled by the FDA as "corn sugar." You could avoid consuming GE corn simply by choosing not to eat processed foods with corn-derived ingredients. Or not eating meat that was fed this corn poison! However, Monsanto’s Bt sweet corn will be sold to customers as corn-on-the-cob and found in the produce section.

Pass the salt and butter, please!

Oh, and did I mention that the "Bt" in Bt sweet corn means that the corn contains Bt toxin, which comes from the bacteria Bacillus theringiensis, which is often used on crops as a pesticide. Monsanto's corn has been modified to produce this toxin, all by itself! Hooray! This toxin works by rupturing the stomachs of the insects that eat it. It is unknown what effect consuming a plant that produces this toxin will have on humans; you'd think that there was a long-controlled test on humans; but there wasn't -- any tests done on humans at all. However, lab rats fed Bt corn suffered organ failure!

Pass the corn bib and the skewers, please!

Of course, so far, they're still letting us buy organic corn, or grow it from heirloom seeds -- which is what I'd recommend; oh, and check Wally World off your personal shopping experience list, too, as they have no problems about selling you this Frankenfood poison; I'd have no problem shopping elsewhere! So let's dig in, America; and afterwards, let's not forget to floss!

Keepin' On

As Andy Borowitz said in the title of an article this week, "Given Choice Between Romney and Santorum, Most Voters Choose Suicide," and ain't it the truth? If, after all, the Rethuglicans have their way, we'll either have the living god Willard Romney or Rick Santorum the new Cardinal Juan de Torquemada. Now what could be wrong with one of those cultists obtaining power? Hey, it could be worse! It could be brother Jebthro as a tie-breaker at the convention and we could have another 8 years of the Bush brothers banana republic awaiting us! Just what we need, Smirky junior!

Even if we reelect Obamahood, we are a long way from being out of the woods. Barry and his corpo-rat pals have plans for going into Iran to protect the Iranians' oil from pirates and neer-do-wells like Europe, China, Russia and the Iranians! Where are those trillion dollar profits for Exxon/Mobil and BP going to come from unless we take things into our own hands, I ask you?

After the Tea Baggers, the newly-homeless, and the Mexicans have been sent off to the "Happy Camps," who do you think they'll come for next? Why, for you, Mr. & Mrs. professional leftist, that's who! Now, combining that with the fast-approaching depression, that will make the 1930's depression look like a "Swiss Picnic" by comparison; wouldn't it be handy to have Uncle Ernie working for you? Bringing you the truth about things and ideas for what you can do about it? Wouldn't it? If you think that's a pretty good idea, then send us what you can, when you can, and we'll keep on fighting the good fight for you! We need to raise about $6000 this year; so please help us whenever you can!


12-30-1945 ~ 02-29-2012
Thanks for the music!

02-01-1969 ~ 03-01-2012
Burn Baby Burn!


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


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

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

Jesus Christ America: Get Control Of Your Women Folk Already, Would Ya?
By David Michael Green

Regular readers of this column know how much I despise conservatives. But they may not know why.

It's because they're such pussies.

Stupid conservatives applauded when that pansy Bush merely invaded Iraq. I say we should've instead just gone ahead and incinerated all one billion Muslims on the planet (and then grabbed our oil from underneath their ashes, while we're there). Why weenie-out and just wreck a single country when you can clobber them all? What's the point of sitting on five or six thousand nukes if you're never gonna use them? They're all terrorists, anyhow.

Likewise, I'm sickened by the whole approach of so-called conservatives to economic issues in this country. Working class people in America make way too much money, and the rich aren't nearly rich enough. Sure, conservatives have done some good work on this front, such as transferring taxes onto the poor, exporting jobs and crushing unions, but it's not enough! And I'm sick of everyone talking about slavery like it was such a bad thing. I say let's have the ninety-nine percent start earning their keep around here. From now on they should have to spend at least one weekend per month 'volunteering' on wealthy people's estates and plantations.

And how about that whole women's rights thing, eh? I'll tell you what, for nearly a century now, this country has been drowning under the weight of obscenities like autonomy, equality and freedom for women. Have we absolutely lost our minds?!?! This is completely out of hand.

These women - these people with their va... va... vaginas - they've taken over our jobs, and now they want more! Nowadays women can work as much as they want to. Instead of being at home, where we can control them, we've let them invade the workplace and do anything they want. Now they're all over the Supreme Court, the State Department, and a couple of years ago we almost sent one to the White House. She wasn't even an idiot-babe like Sarah, either.

It's gettin' worse too. Far more college students are girls these days than men. In grandpa's day, there was no reason for the little ladies to have a higher education. You don't need to study macro economics to figure out home economics, my friend. You don't need a masters degree in psychology to keep ten or twelve kids properly fed and disciplined. What kind of future are we creating for ourselves arming all these women with ideas, facts and theories? You know they're only gonna use that knowledge to give us grief.

At least now we're getting our priorities back in order and we're finally talking about birth control again. What idiot ever let that situation get so out of hand, anyhow? How can we ever expect to control our women if they can control their own ovaries? Of course they're out there working and going to school and doing anything they want, just willy-nilly. What would you expect? They aren't tied to a flock of little squirts anymore. I guess we just forgot the wisdom of our forefathers, that If you keep 'em more or less constantly pregnant from 16 to 46, you don't have to worry about them getting all up in your face whenever they want. They're too damn busy with the kids!

Plus, they're totally dependent on you as the breadwinner for the family. And you know what having a dependent women means, brother!

The Bible is completely clear on who is supposed to have authority in the household, and who is supposed to submit. We blasphemy God himself if we let the ladies have any power over us, and you know that woman power is what follows directly from birth control.

That's why I'm so grateful that Rick Santorum and others are finally speaking up on this issue. It's great that he's not afraid to come down on birth control, which, as he points out, only encourages people to do what they want with their bodies. Like having sex, just for the fun of it. How sick is that? I appreciate his hard line on abortion, too, like when he recently described pregnancies caused by rape as "a blessing." Damn straight! I hope that one day maybe he'll even be brave enough to come out against these ridiculous feminazi anti-rape laws, too. We men have powerful needs, and we shouldn't have to beg for it!

Even that Liz Trotta gal on Fox News understands this. I appreciate her courage in speaking against the government trying to prevent rape in the military (though it would be even better if she got her husband to speak for her). As she correctly pointed out, women in uniform should "expect" to be raped. Damn right! Serving our country patriotically means servicing our servicemen who bravely protect our freedoms. What is it about this that liberals don't get? Maybe if they'd actually been in battle, like Bush and Cheney and almost everyone else in that administration, they'd understand.

Speaking of rape and conservatives, by the way, what a great idea the Republicans have in Virginia. Their brand-new law will require any woman seeking an abortion to have her woo-woo penetrated by an ultrasound probe first, for no medical purpose whatsoever. That'll show those sluts who's actually in charge of their bodies, won't it?

That was really something, too, when Republicans in Congress recently held a hearing on Obama's health care disaster, and how it forces churches to pay for birth control, even though (don't tell anyone) it actually doesn't. The freakin' Democrat crybabies were up to their usual tricks, of course. Big deal if the entire panel of witnesses testifying on women's health were all men. What exactly is wrong with that?

I have to say, I kinda like the Catholic church these days, too, even if they are Catholics. I used to hate Catholics and Jews, but now it's pretty much just the Jews. (Though don't get me wrong, of course: Israel can do no wrong. But that's different - those are your foreigner Jews, not the regular kind.) I like how the Catholics don't take any crap from anyone. So what if their priests have been 'mass' raping children in the flock they were supposed to be protecting for decades, if not centuries, ya know? The popes and bishops an' all are like, "Hey, screw you if you can't take a joke!" So what if the Church hierarchy actively covered it up for all that time? So what if they then used legal tricks like bankruptcies and running out the statute of limitations clock to avoid paying damages to the crybabies they diddled? So what if one of their big muckety-mucks-in-funny-hats-and-robes just took back the apology he made ten years ago for all these assaults? Really, what's all the whining about? These guys should be admired for policing America's sexuality so well. Think how out of hand it would all be if they weren't doing this good work.

Rick Santorum is an especially good role model for the morality this country needs. He and his wife have had eight children, and she's at home raising seven of them right now. The latest was born when the little missus was 48 years old (cool, eh?), and the little girl has a disease so severe that she was given a ten percent chance of living past age one. She could die any day now, but Papa Rick has nevertheless spent the entire last year driving around Iowa and New Hampshire and such, furthering his political ambitions. I tell ya, this is just the kind of family values we need in the White House today!

And while we're at it, thanks also to the good Republican folks at the Komen Foundation for standing up against loose women in America and all the damage they do to our culture. I'm glad they yanked their funding for breast exams at Planned Parenthood. You wanna have your abortions, ladies? Fine. Then you can just take care of your own breasts! Or just let us fellas do it for you. We'll be more than happy to examine them for you, and we'll do a fine job if it too. Damn straight.

Finally some good people are standing up for the America we all love and remember. An America of high morality, that good old-time religion, and women who knew their place.

It's about time. Things have been getting way out of hand here in the fourteenth century.

I liked the last one a whole lot better.
(c) 2012 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,

Adnan's Victory
By Uri Avnery

A PALESTINIAN village, somewhere in the West Bank. In the middle of the night, banging on the door and shouts in Arabic: "Israeli army. Open up!"

Somebody - most often the mother - opens the door. The heavily armed soldiers rush in and drag the victim out of bed. They throw him to the floor in full view of his wife and children (or parents and siblings), blindfold and handcuff him behind his back, and drag him to a jeep. The victim may be 15 or 70 years old or any age in between.

After several days of interrogation, with or without "moderate physical pressure" (as a High Court judge delicately put it), if no satisfactory confession is forthcoming, the prisoner is consigned to "administrative detention" which may last six months and can be renewed for year after year. The judicial overview is a farce. The prisoner is not informed of what he is accused and by whom, evidence is kept secret from both the prisoner and his or her lawyer.

In the course of the occupation, tens of thousands of Palestinians have experienced this procedure. At present, some 300 are in administrative detention (among the ten thousand or so who were judged by military or civilian courts.)

Now one of them has said: Enough!

KHADER ADNAN MUHAMMAD MUSA has been arrested several times before.

The 34 year old activist from the village of Arabba near Jenin in the northern West Bank has been an Islamic Jihad leader from his student days in Bir Zeit University. Easily recognizable by his especially long black beard, he has advanced to the front rank of the organization in the West Bank.

Islamic Jihad is the most extreme of the significant Palestinian groups, and Adnan has openly, on camera, preached armed resistance. He has called upon young Palestinians to put on explosive vests and carry out suicide attacks.

The occupation authorities have had their eyes on him for a long time, and so have the security services of the Palestinian Authority. No wonder, because Adnan has accused the latter many times of collaborating with the Israeli enemy and acting on their orders.

When he was arrested again last December, he demanded to be put on trial or released. When neither happened, he declared a hunger strike.

A hunger strike of 28 days is generally considered very long. Adnan fasted for 66 days, which may be a world record, except for the Irish freedom fighter (or "terrorist") who was taunted by Margaret Thatcher and fasted to death. If a hunger strike lasts for 70 days, death is almost inevitable.

At the end he was transferred to a hospital, both his ankles and one of his hands shackled to the bed, though he could hardly stand. By now, his strike was attracting world-wide attention. In Israel itself, reaction in the media was limited, but peace and human rights groups came out in support of Adnan. Physicians for Human Rights, an Israeli organization founded years ago by the psychiatrist Ruchama Marton, led the struggle with special fervor. Media around the world, including the New York Times, took the case up.

At long last, Israeli diplomats and security officials became seriously alarmed. If Adnan fasted to death, no one could foresee the consequences. In the occupied territories, widespread riots could be expected, perhaps with further deaths. Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails could start a general hunger strike, which could easily spread to the Palestinian population outside. In the world media, Israel would be compared to Syria and Iran. Worse, the very practice of administrative detention would come under international scrutiny.

So the political and security establishment swallowed their pride and offered a compromise: if Adnan abandoned the strike at once, the security authorities would not renew the administrative arrest warrant after April, when it is due to expire.

Adnan, who has already gained the status of a national hero, accepted. He has certainly achieved his main purpose: to draw attention to the practice itself.

ADMINISTRATIVE DETENTION is not an Israeli invention. Israel inherited it from the British colonial regime, as part of the Emergency Regulations, which were described by the future Israeli Minister of Justice as "worse than the Nazi laws." But when Israel came into being, the regulations remained in force or were supplanted by similar laws "made in Israel."

Successive security officials have maintained that administrative detention is absolutely essential in the "fight against terrorism."

Their point of view can be illustrated by a case in which I was involved. When I was the Editor in Chief of the Haolam Hazeh news magazine, an Arab Israeli journalist - let's call him Ahmad - who was working for our Arab edition, disappeared. After searching for some time, I learned that he had been taken into administrative detention. Since I was a Member of the Knesset at the time, I was allowed to speak with a senior officer of the Security Service (Shabak or Shin Bet), who disclosed to me, in confidence, the reason for the arrest.

It appeared that the service had caught a member of Fatah from abroad, who was carrying a message to two Arabs in Israel, asking them to set up Fatah cells in the country. Fatah, at the time, was considered a dangerous terrorist organization. One of the two was Ahmad.

"Frankly," the Shabak officer told me, "We have no idea whether your man is a terrorist or was chosen at random by the Fatah people in Jordan. We have no evidence that could stand up in court. We certainly cannot disclose in court that we have caught the messenger. But we also cannot leave Ahmad free, because he may well be a dangerous terrorist. What would you do in our position, bearing the responsibility we have?"

Frankly, I don't cherish the idea of being blown to pieces by a suicide bomber. But I answered that under these circumstances, Ahmad should be released at once. However, they kept him in prison for months. When he was finally released, he emigrated to America. That may well have been a condition for getting out of prison.

I have already written about a different case that concerned me directly and which taught me the inherent danger of this practice. In his first extensive interview after coming to power in 1977, Menachem Begin disclosed that 20 years earlier, when Isser Harel (nicknamed "little Isser") was in charge of all Israeli security services, he proposed to Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion to put me in administrative detention as a Soviet spy. Harel had a pathological hatred for me and later wrote a whole book about it.

The accusation was quite ridiculous, because I have never in my life been a communist, nor even a Marxist. At the same time that Arthur Koestler wrote his ground-breaking book "Darkness at Noon" I, then a teenager, thought that something must be very wrong with a system which condemns almost all its founders as imperialist spies. Later, whenever an Israeli delegation was invited to Soviet Russia, the KGB struck my name out. (Viewers of the excellent British TV series "Spooks" will recognize at once that this is exactly the hallmark of a master spy.)

Ben-Gurion was not one of my greatest fans, or, to put it simply, he hated my guts. Since I attacked him every week, that was quite understandable. However, he was also a shrewd politician and was afraid that my arrest might cause a scandal. Therefore he told Harel that before arresting me, he should enlist the support of Begin, the leader of the largest opposition party.

Begin told him: "If you have evidence, please show it to me. If not, I shall fight against your scheme tooth and nail." Ben-Gurion dropped the idea, and Begin sent his most trusted lieutenant to warn me.

If Begin had supported my arrest, who would have doubted that the Shabak had solid proof of my treachery? My voice would have been silenced, my magazine destroyed.

IN A democratic state, there is no place for administrative detention, nor even for trials in which vital evidence is withheld from the accused and defense lawyers. There must be better ways of protecting informers and other secret sources of information. For example, allowing defendants in such cases to choose lawyers only from a restricted list of those with the highest security clearance.

This, by the way, did indeed happen in the most sensitive security trial of all: that of the nuclear whistleblower (or "spy") Mordechai Vanunu.

The deal worked out in the Adnan case exposes the irrationality of the system. If Adnan was so dangerous that he had to be imprisoned without charge or trial, how can he be released? And if he was not so dangerous, why was he held in the first place?

IN THE end, Adnan has created a paradox for himself and his comrades.

The very essence of his and his organization's ideology is that there is no effective method of resistance to the Israeli occupation and oppression but violence of the most extreme kind. Non-violence, in their view, is nonsense. Worse, it means capitulation and, in the end, betrayal. Islamic Jihad now accuses Hamas of flirting with this idea.

Yet a hunger strike is the ultimate form of non-violence. Ghandhi used it frequently, relying on its moral impact.

Khaled Adnan's achievement is exactly that: a shining victory for non-violence.
(c) 2012 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

NDAA critics say that it enables ordinary US citizens to be treated like 'enemy combatants' in Guantánamo.

A Clear and Present Danger to American Liberty The US is sleepwalking into becoming a police state, where, like a pre-Magna Carta monarch, the president can lock up anyone
By Naomi Wolf

Yes, the worst things you may have heard about the National Defense Authorization Act, which has formally ended 254 years of democracy in the United States of America, and driven a stake through the heart of the bill of rights, are all really true. The act passed with large margins in both the House and the Senate on the last day of last year - even as tens of thousands of Americans were frantically begging their representatives to secure Americans' habeas corpus rights in the final version.

It does indeed - contrary to the many flatout-false form letters I have seen that both senators and representatives sent to their constituents, misleading them about the fact that the NDAA destroys their due process rights. Under the act, anyone can be described as a "belligerent." As the New American website puts it:

"[S]ubsequent clauses (Section 1022, for example) unlawfully give the president the absolute and unquestionable authority to deploy the armed forces of the United States to apprehend and to indefinitely detain those suspected of threatening the security of the 'homeland'. In the language of this legislation, these people are called 'covered persons.'

"The universe of potential 'covered persons' includes every citizen of the United States of America. Any American could one day find himself or herself branded a 'belligerent' and thus subject to the complete confiscation of his or her constitutional civil liberties and nearly never-ending incarceration in a military prison."

And with a new bill now being introduced to make it a crime to protest in a way that disrupts any government process - or to get close to anyone with secret service protection - the push to legally lock down the United Police States is in full force.

Overstated? Let's be clear: the NDAA grants the president the power to kidnap any American anywhere in the United States and hold him or her in prison forever without trial. The president's own signing statement, incredibly, confirmed that he had that power. As I have been warning since 2006: there is not a country on the planet that you can name that has ever set in place a system of torture, and of detention without trial, for an "other", supposedly external threat that did not end up using it pretty quickly on its own citizens.

And Guantanamo has indeed come home: Guantanamo is in our front yards now and our workplaces; it did not even take much more than half a decade. On 1 March, the NDAA will go into effect - if a judicial hearing scheduled for this week does not block it - and no one in America, no US citizen, will be safe from being detained indefinitely - in effect, "disappeared."

As former Reagan official, now Ron Paul supporter, Bruce Fein points out, on 1 March, we won't just lose the bill of rights; we will lose due process altogether. We will be back at the place where we were, in terms of legal tradition, before the signing of the Magna Carta - when kings could throw people in prison at will, to rot there forever. If we had cared more about what was being done to brown people with Muslim names on a Cuban coastline, and raised our voices louder against their having been held without charge for years, or against their being tried in kangaroo courts called military tribunals, we might now be safer now from a new law mandating for us also the threat of abduction and fear of perpetual incarceration.

We didn't care, or we didn't care enough - and here we are. We acclimated, we got distracted, the Oscars were coming up ... but the fake "battlefield" was brought home to us, now real enough. Though it is not "we" versus Muslims in this conflict; it is our very own government versus "us". As one of my Facebook community members remarked bitterly, of our House representatives, our Senate leaders and our president, "They hate our freedoms."

The NDAA is, in the words of Shahid Buttar of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, "the worst threat to civil liberties since COINTELPRO. It gives the government the power to presume guilt rather than innocence, and indefinitely imprison anyone accused of a 'belligerent act' or terror-related offense without trial." He points out that it gives future presidents the power to arrest their political critics. That may even be understating things: it is actually, in my view, the worst threat to civil liberty in the US since habeas corpus was last suspended, during the American civil war.

On a conference call for media last Friday, hosted by the cross-partisan BORDC (which now includes the 40,000 members of the American Freedom Campaign, which we had co-founded as a response to the warning in 2007 that America was facing a "fascist shift") and the right-leaning Tenth Amendment Foundation, we were all speaking the same language of fear for our freedom, even though our perspectives spanned the political spectrum. As the Tenth Amendment Foundation put it, we are a family with diverse views - and families know when it is time to put aside their differences. If there were ever a time to do so, it is now.

This grassroots effort is pushing hard in many places. Protests that included libertarians, progressives, Tea Party members and Occupy participants have been held nationwide in recent weeks. State legislators in Virginia, Tennessee, and Washington have also introduced bills to prevent state agencies from aiding in any detention operations that might be authorized by the NDAA. In other words, they are educating sheriffs and police to refuse to comply with the NDAA's orders. This presents an Orwellian or 1776-type scenario, depending upon your point of view, in which the federal government, or even the president, might issue orders to detain US citizens - which local sheriffs and police would be legally bound to resist.

What will happen next? I wrote recently that the US is experiencing something like a civil war, with only one side at this point - the corporatist side - aggressing. This grassroots, local-leader movement represents a defensive strategy in what is being now tacitly recognized as unprovoked aggression against an entire nation, and an entire people. (Here I should say, mindful of the warning issued to me by NYPD, which arrested me, to avoid saying anything that could be construed as "incitement to riot" and that I believe in nonviolent resistance.)

The local resistance to the police state goes further: midwestern cities, such as Chicago and Minneapolis, are considering "torture-free city" resolutions that would prohibit the torture which civil libertarians see as likely under a military detention regime expanded by the NDAA. (Bradley Manning's initial treatment in solitary confinement, for instance, met some Red Cross definitions of torture.)

But I am far more scared than hopeful, because nothing about the NDAA's legislative passage worked as democracy is supposed to work. Senator Dianne Feinstein, for instance, in spite of her proposed (defeated) amendment that could have defended due process more completely, has nonetheless not fought to repeal the law - even though her constituents in California would, no doubt, overwhelmingly support her in doing so. Huge majorities passed this bill into law - despite the fact that Americans across the spectrum were appalled and besieging their legislators. And this president nailed it to the table - even though his own constituency is up in arms about it.

History shows that at this point, there isn't much time to mount a defense: once the first few arrests take place, people go quiet. There is only one solution: organize votes loudly and publicly to defeat every single signer of this bill in November's general election. Then, once we have our Republic back and the rule of law, we can deal with the actual treason that this law represents.
(c) 2012 Naomi Wolf author, social critic, and political activist is the author of The New York Times bestseller "The End of America" (Chelsea Green) and, more recently, Give Me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries. Wolf's landmark international bestseller, The Beauty Myth, challenged the cosmetics industry and the marketing of unrealistic standards of beauty, launching a new wave of feminism in the early 1990s.

A still from "Act of Valor"

The Pentagon's Amnesia-Inducing Propaganda
The military's first feature-length film wants to make Americans forget about our imperialist misadventures
By David Sirota

When philosopher George Santayana said "those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it," he meant it as an admonition - not as an endorsement of mass amnesia or historical revision. This should be obvious. Yet those operating at the shadowy intersection of the Pentagon and Hollywood either don't understand - or more likely, refuse to understand - the thrust of the aphorism. Instead, with this week's release of a much-awaited film, Santayana's omen has been transformed into a public mission statement for a burgeoning Military-Entertainment Complex.

Since 1986's "Top Gun" rekindled the Pentagon-Hollywood relationship from its post-Vietnam doldrums, the collusion between the military and the entertainment industry has become a blockbuster con, generating huge benefits for both participants - and swindling the American public in the process.

The scheme is simple: The Pentagon allows studios to use military hardware and bases at a discounted, taxpayer-subsidized rate. In exchange, filmmakers must submit their scripts to the Pentagon for line edits. Not surprisingly, those edits often redact criticism of military policy, revise depictions of historical failures, and generally omit anything else that might make audiences wonder if our current defense policy is repeating past mistakes.

If a studio doesn't agree to the edits, then it loses access to the martial equipment, and typically, the film is terminated. If, by contrast, filmmakers agree to the edits, access is granted, and the film gets made at a cut-rate price to the studio. Except in the credits' fine print, the audience is never told about the censorship.

The predictable result is a glut of movies that both celebrate U.S. military policy and whitewash the checkered history of military adventurism - and relatively few major movies questioning that policy and that adventurism.

No doubt, as a system of stealth coercion, the arrangement has been wildly effective. But with America now questioning the efficacy of constant invasions and the morality of never-ending occupations, the Pentagon is getting worried and thus intensifying its agitprop to ever more manipulative extremes. Last year, for example, it cemented its first full sponsorship of a major film, "X-Men: First Class," integrating the movie into recruitment ads. It's now going even further, fully financing its own feature-length film, "Act of Valor," appearing in theaters nationwide starting Feb. 24.

Casting active-duty SEALs, the film is ostensibly about a mission to neutralize terrorists. But as one of the filmmakers let slip this week, its heroic portrayals and triumphs are really designed to once again make us forget the past.

"I'd like to see the legacy of Vietnam put to bed," said "Act of Valor" filmmaker Mike "Mouse" McCoy in an interview with the Huffington Post. "It was a really bad time in American history, absolutely, but it's time to sort of forget that and forget those sensibilities and don't associate our troops and our men and women to that conflict anymore, and time to really open our eyes to say, 'What's going on in this world? What are our men and women in uniform really doing right now for us?'"

While it's true that America's recent wars are not exactly the same as the Vietnam War, a stunning new report in Armed Forces Journal proves there are troubling similarities we could learn from. With history's lessons in mind, we might learn to refrain from involving ourselves in foreign quagmires because the human costs are too high. We might also learn that some conflicts have no military solution at all.

But such lessons run counter to a Pentagon focused on perpetually repeating a military-centric past, so those lessons are being deliberately obscured. That's indeed a triumph of the Military-Entertainment Complex, but it's a Pyrrhic victory for America - one that guarantees Santayana's warning goes unheeded.
(c) 2012 David Sirota is the author of the best-selling books "Hostile Takeover" and "The Uprising." He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado and blogs at E-mail him at David Sirota is a former spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee.

Keene Stands Up For Common Sense- And Itself

During a recent city council meeting, the mayor of Keene, New Hampshire, leaned over to a council member and whispered excitedly: "We're going to have our own tank."

Yes, the tank (or, more specifically, the "armored personnel vehicle") is the latest must-have play toy for mayors and police departments. Even this picture-perfect and very tranquil New England town of only about 23,000 residents - officials get wide-eyed and hurl common sense aside at the very thought of having such a cool ride parked in front of town hall, and maybe even getting to drive it in the next 4th of July parade. Never mind that Keene is has no crime that would warrant rolling out a tank.

Nonetheless, thanks to such richly funded boondoggles as the "war on drugs" and the "war on terrorism," the federal government is throwing money at cities and states to militarize their various police forces. Thus, Keene was granted $285,000 by the department of homeland security to buy its very own "Bearcat," an eight-ton combat vehicle.

Of course, corporations that peddle such pricey hardware testily insist that Keene needs a tank. As a sales executive for Lenco Industries, which makes the Bearcat, snapped to an inquiring reporter: "I don't think there's any place in the country where you can say, 'That isn't a likely terrorist target...' Wouldn't you rather be prepared?"

The sensible people of Keene, however, are not swallowing the fearmonger pill, and they've forced the town council to reconsider. Local businesswomen Dorrie O'Meara says she hasn't met a single person who's in favor of having "this militaristic thing in Keene." She calls the tank "completely unnecessary. But it's more than that," she adds, "It's just not who we are. It's about what kind of town we want to be."

Yes! Wherever you live, take heart in the Keene example. Reject the corporate nonsense and insist on being the town you want to be.
(c) 2012 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition.

At the University of Virginia, twelve students have begun a hunger strike to protest
the low wages and other injustices inflicted on contract service-sector employees.

Minimum Wage
Catching up with 1968
By Ralph Nader

How inert can the Democratic Party be? Do they really want to defeat the Congressional Republicans in the fall by doing the right thing?

A winning issue is to raise the federal minimum wage, stuck at $7.25 since 2007. If it was adjusted for inflation since 1968, not to mention other erosions of wage levels, the federal minimum would be around $10.

Here are some arguments for raising the minimum wage this year to catch up with 1968 when worker productivity was half of what it is today.

1. Pure fairness for millions of hard-pressed American workers and their families. Over 70 percent of Americans in national polls support a minimum wage that keeps up with inflation.

2. Already eighteen states have enacted higher minimum wages led by Washington state to $9.04 an hour. With the support of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, the New York State legislature is considering a bill to raise the state's minimum wage. The legislature should pass the long-blocked farm workers wage bill at the same time.

3. Since at least 1968, businesses and their executives have been raising prices and their salaries (note: Walmart's CEO making over $11,000 an hour!) while they have been getting a profitable windfall from their struggling workers, whose federal minimum is $2.75 lower in purchasing power than it was 44 years ago.

4. The tens of billions of dollars that a $10 minimum will provide to consumers' buying power will create more sales and more jobs. Aren't economists all saying the most important way out of the recession and the investment stall is to increase consumer spending?

5. Most independent studies collected by the Economic Policy Institute show no decrease in employment following a minimum wage increase. Most studies show job numbers overall go up. The landmark study rebutting claims of lost jobs was conducted by Professors David Card and Alan Krueger in 1994. Professor Krueger is now chairman of President Obama's Council of Economic Advisers.

6. Many organizations with millions of members are on the record favoring an inflation-adjusted increase in the federal minimum wage. They include the AFL-CIO and member unions, the NAACP and La Raza, and hundreds of non-profit social service and religious organizations. They need to move from being on the record to being on the ramparts.

7. With many Republicans supporting a higher minimum wage and with Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum on their side, a push in Congress will split the iron unity of the Republicans under Senator Mitch McConnell and Speaker John Boehner and gain some Republican lawmakers for passage. This issue may also encourage some Republican voters to vote for Democrats this fall. A Republican worker in McDonalds or Walmart or a cleaning company still wants a living wage.

8. President Barack Obama declared in 2008 that he wanted a $9.50 federal minimum by year 2011. If lip-service is the first step toward action, he is on board too. There is no better time to enact a higher minimum wage than during an election year. Against millions of dollars in opposition ads in Florida in 2004, over 70 percent of the voters in a statewide referendum went for a minimum wage promoted by a penniless coalition of citizen groups.

9. The Occupy movement can supply the continuing civic jolts around the local offices of 535 members of Congress, a slim majority of whom are not opposed to raising the minimum wage but who need that high profile pressure back home. Winning this issue will give the Occupy activists many new recruits, and much more power for getting something done in an otherwise do-nothing or obstructionist corporate indentured Congress. About 80 percent of the workers affected by a minimum wage increase are over 20 years of age.

Remember there is no need to offset a higher minimum wage with lower taxes on small business a higher minimum wage. Since Obama took office there have already been 17 tax cuts for small business and no increase in the federal minimum wage.

At the University of Virginia, twelve students have begun a hunger strike to protest the low wages and other injustices inflicted on contract service-sector employees. Students at other universities are likely to follow with their Living Wage Campaigns in this American Spring. They are fed up with millions of dollars for such top administrators' salaries or amenities as fancy practice facilities for athletes, while the blue collar workers can't pay for the necessities of life.

Raising the federal wage to 1968 levels, inflation adjusted, is a winning issue. It just needs a few million Americans to rouse themselves for a few months as they do for their favorite sports team and connect with all those large concurring organizations and their powerful legislators, like Senate majority leader Harry Reid, a big supporter, to start the rumble that will make it a reality.
(c) 2012 Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His most recent book - and first novel - is, Only The Super Wealthy Can Save Us. His most recent work of non-fiction is The Seventeen Traditions.

Malicious Google Scam Uncovered
By James Donahue

Some undisclosed organization has generated a malicious new scam that is using Google, the nation's most popular search engine, to force victims of police arrest to pay up to $500 or $600 to have their police photo and arrest information removed from public exposure.

This ugly revelation was made known to us by an individual that was arrested on a drunken driving charge in 2008, but pleaded to a reduced misdemeanor charge, paid a fine and thought that would be the end of it. Now this person's police mug shot and record of the original charge of driving under the influence has appeared on two different Google links.

The fact that these sites appear predominately on Google under this person's name is prohibiting potential employers from accepting applications for the few jobs that may be available.

The first link is named "" This site shows a police mug shot, the victim's name, age and the date of the arrest, but gives no further information. The name of the webmaster is not to be found. On the upper left corner, however, is a link titled "Ads by Google." Directly under the photograph is a link titled "Remove Listing." When you click on it, you get a form to fill out which asks for a credit card number. You are informed that the link can be removed following payment of money.

The second link appears under the name "" Here you find not only the police photo, but more information about the arrest. It announces that the information is "being redistributed under the Freedom of Information Act" and that it was collected from a law enforcement agency in late 2011. When you search for specific information about the arrest all you find is that this person is "not in custody" and under Charges you find N/A, which means not applicable.

Again, the site offers an escape link. When you click on "Remove Mugshot" you are directed to various links that charge up to $600 to erase the link from Google. This site offered a place to file a complaint, but makes it clear that only licensed lawyers and legal professionals will be allowed to file. Thus the options are to hire costly legal counsel or to pay the demanded price for getting the link removed.

The fact that these sites appear only on Google under this person's name is prohibiting potential employers from accepting applications for the few jobs that may be available.

This is clearly one of the most vicious scams ever contrived by con artists looking for get-rich schemes. The sites all appear to be following the law to the letter. They are using the Freedom of Information Act to acquire the images and arrest records from police agencies, then posting the hundreds of thousands of reports on line, thus destroying reputations and chances of any of these people to fairly compete for employment in an already troubled job market.

This scam obviously has an almost unlimited source of victims. The FBI reports a total of 13,120,947 arrests in the United States for crimes, excluding traffic violations, for the year 2010. A majority of these arrests were for drunken driving, drug possession and other allegations common to most communities and neighborhoods. Most of these cases are plea bargained to lesser charges or misdemeanors. Some may have been dismissed by the court or found innocent if a trial was held.

Imagine the possible revenue from forcing all of these people to pay to have police records like this removed from the Google search engine. And they will have to do it if they expect to gain employment.
(c) 2012 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles. He currently produces daily articles for this web site.

Progressive Democratic Hero Elizabeth Warren Enlists To Serve AIPAC's Pro-War Agenda
By Max Blumenthal

Few congressional candidates have excited the progressive base of the Democratic party as much as consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren has. With her tenacious advocacy for a consumer protection agency to fight unfair lending practices and her consistent framing of economic issues in terms of structural inequality has earned her enthusiastic promotion from major progressive figures from Markos Moulitsas to Rachel Maddow to Michael Moore.

Warren has focused her race against incumbent Republican Senator Scott Brown almost entirely around issues of economic justice, placing her quixotic battle for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau at the center of her campaign narrative. During an appearance on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Warren boasted that she succeeded in creating the bureau despite opposition from "the toughest lobbying force ever assembled on the face of the earth."

While progressives celebrate Warren for her fight against the big banks and the financial industry's lobbying arm, they have kept silent over the fact that she has enlisted with another powerful lobby that is willing to sabotage America's economic recovery in order to advance its narrow interests. It is AIPAC, the key arm of the Israel lobby; a group that is openly pushing for a US war on Iran that would likely trigger a global recession, as the renowned economist Nouriel Roubini recently warned. The national security/foreign policy position page on Warren's campaign website reads as though it was cobbled together from AIPAC memos and the website of the Israeli Foreign Ministry by the Democratic Party hacks who are advising her. It is pure boilerplate that suggests she knows about as much about the Middle East as Herman "Uzbeki-beki-stan-stan" Cain, and that she doesn't care.

Warren's statement on Israel consumes far more space than any other foreign policy issue on the page (she makes no mention of China, Latin America, or Africa). To justify what she calls the "unbreakable bond" between the US and Israel, Warren repeats the thoughtless cant about "a natural partnership resting on our mutual commitment to democracy and freedom and on our shared values." She then declares that the United States must reject any Palestinian plans to pursue statehood outside of negotiations with Israel. While the US can preach to the Palestinians about how and when to demand the end of their 45-year-long military occupation, Warren says the US "cannot dictate the terms" to Israel.

Warren goes on to describe Iran as "a significant threat to the United States," echoing a key talking point of fear-mongering pro-war forces. She calls for "strong sanctions" and declares that the "United States must take the necessary steps to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon" -- a veiled endorsement of a military strike if Iran crosses the constantly shifting American "red lines." Perhaps the only option Warren does not endorse or implicitly support is diplomacy. Her foreign policy views are hardly distinguishable from those of her Republican rival, who also marches in lockstep with AIPAC.

The same progressives who refused to vet Barack Obama's views on foreign policy when he ran for president in 2008, and who now feel betrayed that he is not the liberal savior they imagined him to be, are repeating their mistake with Warren. With AIPAC leading the push for war at the height of an election campaign, there is no better time to demand accountability from candidates like Warren. Who does she serve? The liberal grassroots forces that made her into a populist hero or the lobby seeking to drag the US into a dubious, potentially catastrophic war? It is far better for progressives to grill her on her foreign policy positions before the campaign is over than after the next war begins.
(c) 2012 Max Blumenthal is the author of the bestselling book Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement That Shattered the Party. He is a writing fellow at the Nation Institute and a senior writer for the Daily Beast. Visit his website,

Un-Cheating Justice
Two Years Left to Prosecute Bush
By David Swanson

Elizabeth Holtzman knows something about struggles for justice in the U.S. government. She was a member of Congress and of the House Judiciary Committee that voted for articles of impeachment against President Richard Nixon in 1973. She proposed the bill that in 1973 required that "state secrets" claims be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. She co-authored the special prosecutor law that was allowed to lapse, just in time for the George W. Bush crime wave, after Kenneth Starr made such a mockery of it during the Whitewater-cum-Lewinsky scandals. She was there for the creation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in 1978. She has served on the Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records Interagency Working Group, bringing long-escaped war criminals to justice. And she was an outspoken advocate for impeaching George W. Bush.

Holtzman's new book, coauthored with Cynthia Cooper, is called "Cheating Justice: How Bush and Cheney Attacked the Rule of Law and Plotted to Avoid Prosecution -- and What We Can Do About It." Holtzman begins by recalling how widespread and mainstream was the speculation at the end of the Bush nightmare that Bush would pardon himself and his underlings. The debate was over exactly how he would do it. And then he didn't do it at all.

Holtzman ends her book by pointing out that legal accountability can come after many years, as in the case of various Nazis, or of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, or of the murderers of civil rights activists including Medgar Evers.

In between, for the bulk of the book, Holtzman, a former district attorney, lays out the prospects for a prosecution of Bush and others on charges of lying to Congress about the grounds for war, wiretapping Americans, and conspiring to torture. This is an excellent sampling of the many horrors on the list of Bush's abuses, and clearly the three areas in which Holtzman believes a prosecution would stand the best chance of success. Her analysis of the war lies parallels and builds on that of Elizabeth de la Vega, another former prosecutor who has written on the topic. Holtzman adds an analysis of the steps Bush took to protect himself from prosecution in this and each other area. She also examines his possible legal defenses, finding some of them strong and others easily overcome.

In each area Holtzman finds charges that would stick, if our laws were enforced. She also finds charges that would have stuck, had the statute of limitations not elapsed, and others for which a couple of years yet remain. Holtzman believes charges for conspiring to defraud the government with war lies could be brought until January 20, 2014. She also believes that charges for violation of FISA could be brought until that same date, pointing out that changes made to the law have not provided immunity for prior violations of what the law used to be, and that immunity has been granted from civil suits but not from criminal prosecution. Charges of torture, Holtzman concludes, could be brought at any time in the future.

Holtzman argues for lengthening the statutes of limitations for grave abuses of power, for creating a special prosecutor, restoring the War Crimes Act, reclaiming protection against unchecked surveillance, recovering missing records, pursuing civil cases, impeaching torture lawyer turned judge Jay Bybee, and looking abroad for hope and change. She sees some chance of the International Criminal Court pursuing charges of torture.

This book is an ideal guide for a prosecutor with nerve and decency, although we haven't found one in this country in the past several years. Other than Kurt Daims who is running for the office of Town Grand Juror in Brattleboro, Vermont, which voted to direct its police to indict Bush and Cheney four years ago, I'm not aware of any prosecutors in the United States with plans to pursue this kind of justice.

Glaringly absent from Holtzman's book, despite its 2012 publication date, is any significant mention of the approach that President Obama has taken. There's not one word about "looking forward, not backward," not even so much as one tangential reference to Obama's public instructions to Attorney General Eric Holder, no analysis of the intense effort that the Justice Department, State Department, and White House have pursued to protect Bush and Cheney from accountability, no mention of the ways in which Obama has continued a similar pattern of criminality -- a state of affairs which, of course, might explain his reluctance to allow the enforcement of laws against his predecessor. <> I don't think it's an unfair criticism to object that a book has left out a large but intimately related topic, one that apears to have been carefully avoided. Partisan prosecution of crimes and non-crimes by Republicans under President Clinton has been aggravated by Republican defensiveness and Democratic spinelessness under Bush. But it is the Democratic switch to defending all presidential wrongdoing since 2008 that has put the largest nails into the coffin of legitimate rule by law in this country. Bush's crimes have been legitimized. Obama has claimed the power to torture as he deems necessary, the power to imprison and rendition as he sees fit, the power to murder any human being including U.S. citizens and children as he and he alone declares necessary, and powers of state secrecy that Nixon and Cheney never dreamed of. While Bush lied the Congress into a war that a reasonably intelligent 8 year old could have seen through, Obama has made the launching of wars a matter for the president alone. And that's just fine with Democrats. Surely Holtzman is aware that this partisanship is a cancer, that it has ruined the power of impeachment and done away with truly independent special prosecutors, and that the purpose of accountability is to halt the ongoing acceptance of crime.

I have to quibble as well with Holtzman's lowballing of the Iraq war death count by two orders of magnitude. I know everybody does it, but I still find it grotesque.

And yet I have to strongly recommend that this book be read and presented to every prosecutor in this country, including the seemingly shameless Eric Holder. We've got 23 months.
(c) 2012 David Swanson is the author of "War Is A Lie."

Debt Of Gratitude
Less Earning, More Learning
By Randall Amster

I'd like to share a story, a personal story, a common story, an American story. For nearly two decades, I have carried the burden of a crushing student loan debt, well over six figures and impossible for me to fathom paying off in this lifetime. While I have written before about debt in a more generalized sense -- advocating for a "Jubilee" as the ultimate stimulus and a chance for all of us to start anew -- I've never connected it publicly to my own plight. The reasons are complex, but have to do with fear, fear of vulnerability, fear of judgment. I suspect that many people burdened by debt feel similarly and are often constrained to bear the pressures silently.<> My story is relatively straightforward. I attended a private college (majoring in physics and astronomy, which did not yield any obvious career potential for me) and then a private law school. After clerking for a federal judge for a year, I was hired in the fall of 1992 to work at a large corporate law firm in mid-town Manhattan, complete with the accoutrements of privilege and compensation. I seemingly "had it all," at least on the outside, and any rumblings of discontent -- after a lifetime of being a working-class person -- seemed somehow ungrateful.

Still, a series of events eventually forced that discontentment to the surface. Working for corporate polluters, white-collar criminals, militaristic multinationals, and the like can have its deleterious effects on one's psyche, no matter what it pays at the end of the month. I realized in fairly rapid fashion (about ten minutes, actually, even though it took me ten months to extricate myself from the firm) that I could not separate my ethics from my earnings or my morals from my meals. I wanted to work with people, not for (or even against) them, and likewise had a strong desire to try and make the world a better place rather than the worsening one experienced by the vast majority of people.

In the end, the expensive suits and loft apartment couldn't mask the fact that my soul was sick and my spirit dying. Yes, I could have worked at the high-powered firm for five to seven years (which sounds like a prison sentence, in retrospect) and likely paid off my debts, and then written my own ticket (financially speaking) after that -- but the implicit (and carefully concealed) violence I would have done to human and ecological systems in the process simply made the cost too high. Indeed, it is mainly the manner in which our lives are shielded from the true costs of our actions and choices that makes modern society even possible to endure, and it is the steady erosion of this thin veil of constructed ignorance that is beginning to alter the widespread "false consciousness" in ways that are simultaneously horrifying and promising.

One of the experiences that helped prompt me to walk out the door and never look back was the nascent friendship I had randomly struck up with a homeless man on the streets of the city. I didn't realize it fully at the time, but his impact on me was as great as any person's in my life, and he'll likely never know it. The emerging realization of this came to me one day when some colleagues from the firm saw me having lunch with my homeless friend, and afterwards commented to me how nice it was that I was trying to "save" him. I thought about this for a minute, and (in a moment of personal recognition) replied that "he's actually saving me."

A few weeks later, I had quit my high-paying job, sold most of my belongings, and had nothing but the unknown road ahead. I spent the next couple of years mostly car-camping, sleeping rough, staying with friends, eating potatoes, bartering, writing bad poetry, making music, getting healthier in my own skin, following signs (literal and figurative), and otherwise chasing rainbows. I also used the time to plant the seeds of the next chapter in my life, which serendipitously emerged in the opportunity to attend graduate school and pursue a doctorate in Justice Studies. While ambivalent about the institutional nature of this move, I realized that it had the potential to allow me to reclaim my core values while still participating more directly in the world at the same time.

The following years found me living on about $10,000 or less annually, riding a bike or skateboard to school, learning about justice in its fullest sense, and becoming an advocate and activist around issues of homelessness and poverty. My dissertation was completed in 2002 and spoke directly to these themes, and in 2008 a revised version appeared as the book Lost in Space. In 2001, I was hired as an instructor at Prescott College to teach Peace Studies, which doubled my salary but still left me at about one-fifth the level I was making in my law firm days. Despite this sense of apparent downward mobility, I realized that I had found a calling.

But then another sort of calling began in earnest: debt collectors calling me, repeatedly, at work and elsewhere. For about a decade I hadn't earned much more than $20,000 in any given year (and most years far less), but once I was hired as a faculty member (again increasing my salary but still leaving me way down on the scale for someone with two doctorates) the sharks started to sense blood and swarm around me. At first I felt paralyzed with a mix of remorse, shame, and fear, so I did nothing. Soon after, my wages were being garnished, which embarrassed me at my place of employment, and the fuller experience of the stress that comes with the realization of permanent impoverishment and lifelong indebtedness began to emerge. Despite having studied poverty issues and being well-versed in the social psychology attendant to them, I still felt the internalized stigma of societal "failure" at not having "made it" by the usual measures of success.

In 2008, I took a second full-time job (again nearly doubling my salary) as Executive Director of the Peace and Justice Studies Association, driven partly by my life's work as someone dedicated to the pursuit of peace and justice at all levels, and also partly by the fact that I now had two young children in the mix. At this juncture, I was able to finally work out some sort of agreement with the student loan collectors, lumping everything together to the tune of over $150,000 and making regular monthly payments that push myself and my family to the brink (past it, actually) of being able to make ends meet. But the recognition, in all likelihood, of never being able to get out from under this massive burden still weighs on me every day.

Just recently a reminder of that pervasive vulnerability -- the one that comes from a lifetime of being working-class, always one paycheck away from dispossession, and having no savings whatsoever to fall back on -- was delivered to my doorstep. Apparently, one relatively small student loan had been somehow omitted from the consolidation process, to the tune of about $5000, and the collection agency began calling random people at my place of employment in an attempt to shame me into calling them back and paying it off. This was quite likely illegal, in that they identified the company they were with to these colleagues, but it had the desired effect of making me feel, again, vulnerable and exposed. Now I have to pay them another $100 per month on top of the already-untenable figure being paid on the larger debt.

Two decades after walking out of a corporate house of mirrors in search of more useful and meaningful horizons, I remain tethered to that choice through years of compound interest, penalties, fees, and such. Yet I am grateful in some ways for that, since it serves to keep my life "real" on many levels and even perhaps ensures that I maintain a reflective process about who I am, what I am doing, and why. Still, it yields a great deal of perpetual stress, constrains my life choices in the world, and impinges upon my capacity to provide for my family. I suppose, at the end of the day, that the corporate masters get their money either way -- a pound of flesh or the equivalent in monthly payments. But they did not get my soul, and perhaps that makes all the difference...

I mention all of this here with a mix of fear and hope. While the experiences of my own life serve to inform my writing, I generally strive to keep the personal details and motivations in the background rather than the foreground. But why? In my daily life and activism, I hold firmly to the belief that personal choices are eminently political ones, and vice versa. I try to live simply, consume consciously, treat others how I would be treated, be of service to the world, and in general "walk the talk" as much as possible -- so why don't I feel safe writing about things in those terms? I surmise that the uncomfortable nature of personal vulnerability is also bound up with the collective (and perhaps ultimate) vulnerability of living in a time when the continuation of our human existence hangs in the balance by increasingly delicate threads. To some extent, this palpable sense of vulnerability has been individualized and privatized, much like the debts one accrues in pursuit of an education and the basic desire to be socially useful.

Will telling this tale change the paradigm? Unlikely. But maybe if we all begin to do so -- to connect the personal and political, to share the fear rather than bear it alone -- maybe things will at least improve enough in our own lives so that we become more empowered and learn to explore the bonds of authentic community in the process. If my personal financial burden is useful even a little bit in that regard, then it is, in the end, one that I must acknowledge as a debt of gratitude.
(c) 2012 Randall Amster J.D., Ph.D., teaches peace studies at Prescott College and serves as the executive director of the Peace & Justice Studies Association. His most recent book is the co-edited volume "Building Cultures of Peace: Transdisciplinary Voices of Hope and Action" (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009).

What Ails Europe?
By Paul Krugman

Things are terrible here, as unemployment soars past 13 percent. Things are even worse in Greece, Ireland, and arguably in Spain, and Europe as a whole appears to be sliding back into recession.

Why has Europe become the sick man of the world economy? Everyone knows the answer. Unfortunately, most of what people know isn't true - and false stories about European woes are warping our economic discourse.

Read an opinion piece about Europe - or, all too often, a supposedly factual news report - and you'll probably encounter one of two stories, which I think of as the Republican narrative and the German narrative. Neither story fits the facts.

The Republican story - it's one of the central themes of Mitt Romney's campaign - is that Europe is in trouble because it has done too much to help the poor and unlucky, that we're watching the death throes of the welfare state. This story is, by the way, a perennial right-wing favorite: back in 1991, when Sweden was suffering from a banking crisis brought on by deregulation (sound familiar?), the Cato Institute published a triumphant report on how this proved the failure of the whole welfare state model.

Did I mention that Sweden, which still has a very generous welfare state, is currently a star performer, with economic growth faster than that of any other wealthy nation?

But let's do this systematically. Look at the 15 European nations currently using the euro (leaving Malta and Cyprus aside), and rank them by the percentage of G.D.P. they spent on social programs before the crisis. Do the troubled GIPSI nations (Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Italy) stand out for having unusually large welfare states? No, they don't; only Italy was in the top five, and even so its welfare state was smaller than Germany's.

So excessively large welfare states didn't cause the troubles.

Next up, the German story, which is that it's all about fiscal irresponsibility. This story seems to fit Greece, but nobody else. Italy ran deficits in the years before the crisis, but they were only slightly larger than Germany's (Italy's large debt is a legacy from irresponsible policies many years ago). Portugal's deficits were significantly smaller, while Spain and Ireland actually ran surpluses.

Oh, and countries that aren't on the euro seem able to run large deficits and carry large debts without facing any crises. Britain and the United States can borrow long-term at interest rates of around 2 percent; Japan, which is far more deeply in debt than any country in Europe, Greece included, pays only 1 percent.

In other words, the Hellenization of our economic discourse, in which we're all just a year or two of deficits from becoming another Greece, is completely off base.

So what does ail Europe? The truth is that the story is mostly monetary. By introducing a single currency without the institutions needed to make that currency work, Europe effectively reinvented the defects of the gold standard - defects that played a major role in causing and perpetuating the Great Depression.

More specifically, the creation of the euro fostered a false sense of security among private investors, unleashing huge, unsustainable flows of capital into nations all around Europe's periphery. As a consequence of these inflows, costs and prices rose, manufacturing became uncompetitive, and nations that had roughly balanced trade in 1999 began running large trade deficits instead. Then the music stopped.

If the peripheral nations still had their own currencies, they could and would use devaluation to quickly restore competitiveness. But they don't, which means that they are in for a long period of mass unemployment and slow, grinding deflation. Their debt crises are mainly a byproduct of this sad prospect, because depressed economies lead to budget deficits and deflation magnifies the burden of debt.

Now, understanding the nature of Europe's troubles offers only limited benefits to the Europeans themselves. The afflicted nations, in particular, have nothing but bad choices: either they suffer the pains of deflation or they take the drastic step of leaving the euro, which won't be politically feasible until or unless all else fails (a point Greece seems to be approaching). Germany could help by reversing its own austerity policies and accepting higher inflation, but it won't.

For the rest of us, however, getting Europe right makes a huge difference, because false stories about Europe are being used to push policies that would be cruel, destructive, or both. The next time you hear people invoking the European example to demand that we destroy our social safety net or slash spending in the face of a deeply depressed economy, here's what you need to know: they have no idea what they're talking about.
(c) 2012 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

"What the people want is very simple - they want an America as good as its promise."
~~~ Barbara Jordan ~~~

On Regaining A Spirit Of Defiance
"I'm worried now but I won't be worried long"
By Phil Rockstroh

The course of action taken by the present day U.S. political class in addressing the era's rising tide of economic hardship and ecological peril has proven as helpful as tossing an anvil to a drowning man.

The following two, axiomatic headlines reveal much about the dovetailing mindsets manifested by members of both the drowning class and the moral compass-bereft captains of the ship of state:

Nike Foamposite Galaxy Shoe Spurs Frenzy At Malls (Associated Press, Saturday, February 25, 2012)

Mitt Romney: Wife Ann Drives ‘A Couple Of Cadillacs’ (The Washington Post, Friday, February 24, 2012)

Inadvertently, Mr. Romney's declaration, stated in his own blandly deranged way, captures the As Above/So Below nature of consumer state psychology.

By means of incessant, womb to tomb, commercial propaganda, the corporate class has promoted the idea that an individual's identity is based solely on the sum total of his worldly possessions. Yet, when young people, denied a decent education and stranded in circumstances where they have been deprived of a means to gain a sense of identity by acquiring the skills and the development of the talents necessary for the pursuit of their individual aspirations, have the temerity to reflect the societal values they have internalized -- for example, by acting in an aggressive manner in a mindless pursuit of material items that they have been conditioned to believe will bestow a sense of self worth -- then media elites and bamboozled bourgeois should not, as they can be counted on to do, react with consternation, carrying on as if these acts of desperation on the part of the young are wholly devoid of any cultural context.

A defining trait of declining civilizations: A yawning, unbridgeable chasm develops between the ability to connect cause and effect e.g., between the excesses of the privileged and powerful (apropos, a multi-millionaire, presidential candidate's braggadocio involving the multiple ownership of luxury automobiles) and the causative effect that evincing such an arrogant and self-serving worldview exerts on the actions of the so-called underclasses.

As a consequence, a demeaning view of the world--and of themselves--has been instilled within the young: According to the internalized cosmology of the consumer state, individuals, sans materialist signifiers, register as non entities.

When the one percent crash the global economy and loot national treasuries, this is termed the neoliberal economic model, but rowdy behavior, including the coveting of relentlessly hyped athletic shoes by a few of the least powerful denizens of the consumer state, evokes waves of condemnation. Existing in a culture that robs people of self-respect by countenancing the ongoing crime wave, perpetrated by the one percent, we should not be shocked when those born bereft of privilege, at times, conduct themselves in a less than polite fashion.

The emptiness of consumer state existence leaves many so wanting for purpose and identity that, in their confusion, they seek meaning at a mall...Lost in endlessly proffered distractions, swooning in the negative enchantment of the commercial hologram, it is no mystery why so many in the general population of the U.S. cannot approach, neither on an emotional nor intellectual level, the dire situation presented by, for example, feedback loops of escaping methane gas now active in the Arctic, Siberia, and the Gulf of Mexico, and the manner that this manmade phenomenon imperils their own survival.

In this regard, predictions of doom are not the stuff of dour old men, afflicted with Cassandra complexes, long, unkempt beards flapping, as they hector passersby with gloomy auguries of a rapidly arriving "time of reckoning" -- when what they mean is, their libido is waning, and it feels to them like the end of the world.

No, this is truly bad news. And if these effects of climate chaos are not mitigated and begin to be reversed -- and soon -- then there will come, in the not too distant future, mass suffering, in the form of a great die-off, on a scale almost impossible to envisage.

We're talking peer-reviewed scientific inquiry not crank-speak here. These are extraordinarily dangerous circumstances.

The cultural, social, and political arrangements that have created this approaching catastrophe must be radically confronted and changed. Accordingly, the times call for extraordinary action. Business as usual will constitute a death march.

Not being an advocate for the dreariness intrinsic to compulsive self-denial, I accept the need for almost all forms of human excess...with the exception of those actions and pursuits that are deliberately cruel, belligerently ignorant, and sadistically or mindlessly destructive. You can pursue excess to the point of collapse, as far as I'm concerned, just don't harm any innocent bystanders or leave others to cleanup your mess.

These forms of excess are anathema: the agendas of the corporate/consumer state that are reducing the spicy resonance of the global agora into a bland shopping mall food court, and demand excessive work hours and debt slavery to maintain the system; overfishing that has reduced the stocks of large fish in the world's oceans by ninety percent; the carbon footprint, created by excessive industrialization, that has become an iron boot on the neck of all living things; the commercial/entertainment/public relations/advertising complex, specializing in endless self-referential spectacle, that offers neither revelation nor cathartic release; the defining traits of our present economic system which are identical to the actions and attendant rationalizations of an addict on a death-besotted bender...desperate, joyless, and devoid of the shared sublime of a communal bacchanal.

The Road of Excess might lead to the Palace of Wisdom but one cannot arrive there by modern jet travel or by any interstate highway; conversely, one has to give oneself permission to get lost in a wilderness of inner states of being. Wander long enough, descend deep enough, take enough wrong turns, resist intransigent power creatively enough, and when the night becomes dark enough above the tangled tree-line you will find your lodestar.

Nowadays, one must cultivate a high tolerance for being lost. Because, in a doomed culture, in order to have a chance at gaining an original sensibility, one must wander far beyond the royal court of flatterers, uninspired fools, and scheming courtesans who are driven to spend their days truckling before a senile king nodding on his throne.

We find ourselves, currently, stranded in a crisis of selfhood, engendered by a system that demands that the untamable yearnings of the human heart be expressed almost exclusively within the limited lexicon of consumerism, that the path of self-expression be obstructed at the velvet rope-fortified domain of corporate state show biz types and elitist-approved artists, that the imagination is useless unless it generates vast monetary rewards for the one percent.

In short, because the known thoroughfares now dead-end into a wasteland.

"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go. ~~~ T.S. Eliot

The vehemence of the imagination motivates. It rages against oppression, as it, in equal measure, both protects and frees one's heart. It creates and endures. The heart, the alpha and omega point of the imagination, rebels against sensible centrism as it serves to transform demons of conformity into recalcitrant angels who are the sworn enemies of mindless power.

Moreover, the implications of this predicament extend far beyond the essential struggle for individual selfhood, for this situation is interwoven with a larger struggle for the survival of our species--a crisis that is rapidly reaching the ecological tipping point.

How we negotiate this perilous landscape will not depend on an ability to adapt to the prevailing madness of the present order. To the contrary, our chances of avoiding catastrophe will hinge on an ability to embrace novel understandings wrought by imaginative engagement with emergent realities.

This approach will also prove helpful in withstanding the inevitable conflicts that will arise with the defenders of the societal arrangements of the present whose reactionary tactics will grow ever more ruthless and brutal in direct proportion to their escalating level of panic, inevitably provoked by the collapsing certainties of the entrenched (but unsustainable) order with which they have aligned their fate.

Those are the types of fears that have kept us estranged from each other, atomized, alienated, mistrustful of the vitality of communal engagement, afraid of movement building...waiting for instructions from the powerful on how to proceed through life, as opposed to going about the business of making the world anew.

"It takes a worried man to sing a worried song...I'm worried now but I won't be worried long," so go the lyrics of the traditional folk song.

By what means do people who have experienced a lifetime of economic hardship and official oppression endure and continue to sing out in defiance?

Because they have learned this: the forces of repression might buffet your body, might zip-cuff your wrists, might lock you in jail -- but they cannot gain entrance into your mind, unless you allow them in. They cannot imprison your soul unless you let them.

"There is no week nor day nor hour when tyranny may not enter upon this country -- if the people lose their confidence in themselves -- and lose their roughness and spirit of defiance." ~~~ Walt Whitman

Whitman's admonition is known innately by some, by those whose spirit of defiance are helping us to remember our innate roughness: by Bradley Manning, by the people of Greece, of OWS, by those stopped and frisked, humiliated, harmed, and jailed on false charges daily on the streets of the U.S. police state, and by the spirit of defiance being displayed in ever increasing degree by oppress people the world over--by all of those souls who will no longer accept the dismal fate of being imprisoned by fear.

In truth, the one percent would not be capable of building a propaganda apparatus slick enough, nor be able to hire enough cops, nor assemble armies with enough troops, nor build prisons rapidly enough nor large enough to keep us enslaved--if only enough of us awoke to the reality of our common plight.

Therefore: "I'm worried now but I won't be worried long."
(c) 2012 Phil Rockstroh, is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City. Visit Phil's website, and at FaceBook.

As Santorum And Romney Battle For The Loony Right, The Rest Of Us Should Not Gloat
By Robert Reich

My father was a Republican for the first 78 years of his life. For the last twenty, he's been a Democrat (he just celebrated his 98th.) What happened? "They lost me," he says.

They're losing even more Americans now, as the four remaining GOP candidates seek to out-do one another in their race for the votes of the loony right that's taken over the Grand Old Party.

But the rest of us have reason to worry.

A party of birthers, creationists, theocrats, climate-change deniers, nativists, gay-bashers, anti-abortionists, media paranoids, anti-intellectuals, and out-of-touch country clubbers cannot govern America.

Yet even if they lose the presidency on Election Day they're still likely to be in charge of at least one house of Congress as well as several state legislators and governorships. That's a problem for the nation.

The GOP's drift toward loopyness started in 1993 when Bill Clinton became the first Democrat in the White House in a dozen years - and promptly allowed gays in the military, pushed through the Brady handgun act, had the audacity to staff his administration with strong women and African-Americans, and gave Hillary the task of crafting a national health bill. Bill and Hillary were secular boomers with Ivy League credentials who thought government had a positive role to play in peoples' lives.

This was enough to stir right-wing evangelicals in the South, social conservatives in the Midwest and on the Great Plains, and stop-at-nothing extremists in Washington and the media who hounded Bill Clinton for eight years, then stole the 2000 election from Al Gore, and Swift-boated John Kerry in 2004.

They were not pleased to have a Democrat back in the White House in 2008, let alone a black one. They rose up in the 2010 election cycle as "tea partiers" and have by now pushed the GOP further right than it has been in more than eighty years. Even formerly sensible senators like Olympia Snowe, Orrin Hatch, and Dick Lugar are moving to the extreme right in order to keep their seats.

At this rate the GOP will end up on the dust heap of history. Young Americans are more tolerant, cosmopolitan, better educated, and more socially liberal than their parents. And relative to the typical middle-aged America, they are also more Hispanic and more shades of brown. Today's Republican Party is as relevant to what America is becoming as an ice pick in New Orleans.

In the meantime, though, we are in trouble. America is a winner-take-all election system in which a party needs only 51 percent (or, in a three-way race, a plurality) in order to gain control.

In parliamentary systems of government, small groups representing loony fringes can be absorbed relatively harmlessly into adult governing coalitions.

But here, as we're seeing, a loony fringe can take over an entire party - and that party will inevitably take over some part of our federal, state, and local governments.

As such, the loony right is a clear and present danger.
(c) 2012 Robert Reich is Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written twelve books, including The Work of Nations, Locked in the Cabinet, and his most recent book, Supercapitalism. His "Marketplace" commentaries can be found on and iTunes.

The Dead Letter Office...

Andy gives the corpo-rat salute

Heil Obama,

Dear Propaganda Ansager Breitbart,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your crusade against liberal patriots and liberal patriot organizations, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Rethuglican Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

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

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

Scott Walker's Koch Connection Goes Bad
By John Nichols

Billionaire campaign donor David Koch has rarely spoken in public about the central role he has played in the election of Scott Walker as governor of Wisconsin, the defense of Walker's embattled governorship and, now, Walker's desperate attempt to defeat the recall election that more than one million Wisconsinites have demanded.

Until now. And that has raised fundamental legal and political questions about the manipulation of Wisconsin politics by out-of-state billionaires.

It is no secret that Koch and his billionaire brother, Charles, have long been a Walker supporters. Their Koch Industries PAC was the second-highest donor to Walker's 2010 campaign, donating $43,000. The PAC also gave $1 million to the Republican Governors Association, which streamed spending into Wisconsin on behalf of Walker's election.

And the Americans for Prosperity groups the Kochs founded and financed certainly seemed to be active on Walker's behalf.

But AFP and its foundation could not campaign openly for Walker or other candidates, as they are tax exempt organizations operating under laws that protect civic and educational charities.

So it was incredible when David Koch admitted in an interview with the Palm Beach Post that he planned to support Walker with spending by AFP. "We're helping him, as we should," Koch said of Walker. "We've gotten pretty good at this over the years. We've spent a lot of money in Wisconsin. We're going to spend more."

The Post added: "By 'we' he says he means Americans for Prosperity, which is spending about $700,000 on an 'It's working' television ad buy in the state."

Could Koch really be admitting to a violation for the Internal Revenue Service code that says organizations such as AFP are "absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office?"

It certainly sounded like it. And, on the Koch Industries website, a statement by Koch several days later said that: "as the Palm Beach Post story indicated, my comments concerning support for Governor Walker related solely to Americans for Prosperity and its activities in Wisconsin."

Complaints have been filed with the IRS and the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board alleging-in the words of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin - "illegal use of tax exempt status by billionaire David Koch."

There is no question that, based on what Koch has said, the complaints are legitimate. They come in the context of what will be an intense recall election. They should be investigated and addressed with an urgency that respects the timeline of that recall and the significance of threat posed to Wisconsin democracy.
(c) 2012 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His new book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, has just been publshed by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

Better And Better
An Interview with Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler
By Sam Harris

Peter H. Diamandis is the founder and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation and Co-founder and Chairman of Singularity University. He is a serial entrepreneur turned philanthropist who has started more than a dozen high-tech companies. He has degrees in molecular biology and aerospace engineering from MIT, and an M.D. from Harvard Medical School. He has written a new book, Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think, along with author and journalist Steven Kotler, whose articles have appeared in over 60 publications: including the New York Times Magazine, Wired, Discover, Popular Science, Outside, GQ, and National Geographic.

The book has received much advanced praise. Ray Kurzweil, inventor, futurist and author of The Singularity is Near, had this to say: "This brilliant must-read book provides the key to the coming era of abundance replacing eons of scarcity. Abundance is a powerful antidote to today's malaise and pessimism."

Peter and Steven were kind enough to answer my questions by email:


Is the world really getting better?

If you pull back a little bit from the sea of bad news that's assaulting us these days, what you actually see is a preponderance of trends that are moving in a fantastic direction. Take healthcare: Over the past century, child mortality rates have dropped by 90 percent, while the length of human lifespan has doubled. Or poverty, which has dropped more in the past 50 years than it has in the previous 500.

At a global level, the gap between wealthy nations and poorer nations continues to close. Across the board, we are living longer, wealthier, healthier lives. Certainly, there are still millions of people living in dire, back-breaking poverty, but using almost every quality-of-life metric available—access to goods and services, access to transportation, access to information, access to education, access to life-saving medicines and procedures, means of communication, value of human rights, importance of democratic institutions, durable shelter, available calories, available employment, affordable energy, even affordable beer—our day-to-day experience has improved massively over the past two centuries.

Why aren't we more aware of these positive trends?

The simple answer is because we're hard-wired not to notice. As the first order of business for any organism is survival, our brain privileges information that appears to threaten us. As a result, we tend to focus too much on the bad news even as the good news struggles to get through. The media is so saturated with bad news - if it bleeds, it leads - because they're vying for the amygdala's attention.

Furthermore, to handle the massive influx of information we process on a moment by moment basis, the brain relies on heuristics. Most of the time these work. Sometimes they fail. When they fail we call them cognitive biases. As it turns out, a lot of our cognitive biases keep us pessimistic as well. The negativity bias is a tendency to give more weight to negative information and experiences than positive ones. Confirmation bias is our tendency to search for or interpret information in ways that confirms our preconceptions—which might not be so bad on its own, but when you add the media's focus on negative news, you have a recipe for psychological disaster. This list goes on. The result is a brain that believes the end is near and there's not a damn thing we can do about it.

What do you mean by "abundance"?

We believe that over the next two to three decades it will be possible to significantly raise global standards of living. Abundance is not about providing everyone on this planet with a life of luxury—rather it's about providing everyone with a life of possibility. To be able to live such a life requires having the basics covered and then some. It also means stanching some fairly ridiculous bleeding: feeding the hungry, providing access to clean water, ending indoor air pollution, and wiping out malaria—four entirely preventable conditions that kill, respectively, seven, three, three, and two people per minute world-wide. But ultimately, abundance is about creating a world of possibility: a world where everyone's days are spent dreaming and doing, not scrapping and scraping.

What makes you think that this is possible?

The data for starters. We combed through decades of research, reams of hard facts, and interviewed dozens of scientists, innovators, engineers, and philanthropists. We also see four emerging forces that now beginning to really make their presence felt in the world, but together should enable us to make the equivalent of 200 years of progress over the next 20 years.

What are these forces?

Exponential Technologies: Over the past few decades, researchers have come to conclude that any information-based technology is advancing along exponential growth curves. This is why the cell phone in your pocket is as powerful as a mid-70s era supercomputer for a minute fraction of the cost. Besides communication technology, exponential forces are at work in computational and network systems, artificial intelligence, robotics, biotechnology, bio-informatics, nanotechnology, human-machine interfaces, and many more. These technologies will soon enable the vast majority of human beings to experience what only the affluent have had access to thus far. In Abundance, we examine how exponential technologies are being used (and can be used) to provide 7 billion people with clean water, nutritious food, affordable housing, personalized education, top-tier medical care, non-polluting and ubiquitous energy.

DIY Innovators: DIY innovators are individuals and small groups empowered by exponential technologies and driven by the desire to take on humanity's grand challenges. As we explore in the book, these groups now have the ability to tackle problems that were once the sole domain of governments and major corporations and NGOs. As a result, we are at the front end of a DIY revolution unlike anything the world has yet seen.

Technophilanthropists: Today there are more than 1,400 billionaires and 93,000 "ultra-high-net-worth" individuals in the world. Many of these are young, very socially-conscious entrepreneurs who made their money in technology and are now interested in using it to slay some of the world's grandest challenges. Bill Gates fighting against malaria, Jeff Skoll crusading against pandemics, Pierre Omyidar democracy-spreading efforts. There are many, many more. We call these individuals Technophilanthropists.

Rising Billion: These are the poorest people on Earth, the so-called "bottom billion." We have renamed this group the "Rising Billion" because, thanks to the exponential spread of communication and information technologies (like the smart phone), these people are coming on line for the very first time. Their voices, which have never before been heard, are suddenly joining the global conversation. Aided by these technologies, the Rising Billion are beginning to pull themselves out of poverty. They are already on their way to becoming a powerful and significant consuming segment of humanity, and many companies are rushing to develop ultra-low cost products to meet their needs. This effort will drive down the price of basic goods and services in a fashion that will benefit everyone. But the Rising Billion have also become a producing and consuming segment of humanity, generating new ideas, insights, products and services that add to the overall wealth of Earth.

It seems to me that all of this can sound a little quixotic and out of touch with some of the challenges that humanity now faces. Can you give me a concrete example of a trend toward abundance that is unlikely to ever be reversed?

Over the past twenty years wireless technologies and the Internet have become ubiquitous, affordable and available to almost everyone. Africa has skipped a technological generation, by-passing the landlines that stripe our Western skies for the wireless way. Today, a Masai warrior with a cellphone has better telecom capabilities than the President of the United States did 25 years ago. If he's a Masai warrior on a smart phone with access to Google, then he has access to more information than the President did just 15 years ago. By the end of 2013, over 70 percent of humanity will have access to instantaneous, low-cost, communications and information. In other words, we are now living in a world of information and communication abundance. And to your exact point—poverty has been reduced more in the past 50 years than in the previous 500. One major reason is the abundance of information-and-communication technology. According to research done at the London School of Business, adding ten cell phones per hundred people raises GDP by .6 percent. To quote technology write Nicholas Sullivan on this matter: "extrapolating from UN figures on poverty reduction (1 percent GDP growth results in a 2 percent poverty reduction), that.0.6 percent growth would cut poverty by roughly 1.2 percent. Given 4 billion people in poverty, that means with every 10 new phones per 100 people, 48 million people graduate from poverty."

So do you believe that the future is guaranteed to be better than most people think?

We are not so naïve as to think that there won't be bumps along the way. Some of those will be big bumps: economic melt-downs, natural disasters, terrorist attacks. During these times, the concept of abundance will seem far-off, alien, even nonsensical, but if history is our guide then progress continues through the good times and the bad.

The twentieth century, for example, witnessed both incredible advancement and unspeakable tragedy. The 1918 influenza epidemic killed fifty million people, World War II killed another sixty million. There were tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, floods, even plagues of locust. Despite such problems, this period also saw infant mortality decrease by 90 percent, maternal mortality decrease by 99 percent, and, overall, human lifespan increase by more than 100 percent.

So while there are likely to be plenty of rude, heartbreaking interruptions between here and there, we do feel that with the proper application of resources and capital, global living standards can continue to improve regardless of the horrors that dominate the headlines.

What do you hope people will get from reading your book?

The first is hope. You can't change the world if you don't believe it's changeable.

The second is a vision and road map: a way to take bigger risks, create an innovation culture, and focus on solving problems rather than complaining about them.

Most importantly, we want people to understand that, more than ever before in history, individuals can now band together to solve grand challenges. We don't believe abundance happens automatically. It's up to each of us. That's what makes today so different. We face enormous problems, but we—as individuals - have enormous power to solve them. It really is a magical time. (c) 2012 Sam Harris is the author of "The End Of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason" and "Letter to a Christian Nation" and is the co-founder of The Reason Project, which promotes scientific knowledge and secular values. Follow Sam Harris on Twitter.

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~~~ Keith Knight ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Disturbed Beltway Sources Report Congress Eerily Cooperative Today
A state of deeply ominous harmony has settled over this once fractious institution, disconcerted sources are confirming.

WASHINGTON-According to reports from distressed Capitol Hill sources, members of both houses of Congress were eerily cooperative and agreeable throughout today's legislative session, prompting widespread confusion, fear, and suspicion among political observers across the Beltway.

"Today began just like any other legislative day, with the normal morning proceedings and opening speeches, but then, out of nowhere, lawmakers suddenly began talking to each other and listening to what their colleagues had to say," said visibly shaken House staffer Scott Harrington, who called the collegial atmosphere that has settled over Washington "disconcerting." "I saw representatives have an open, constructive dialogue on the issues and actually acknowledge opinions other than the ones they personally held. That's when I knew that something was definitely wrong."

"Overall, the feeling around here is cordial," a concerned Harrington continued. "A little too cordial, if you know what I mean."

Beltway sources confirmed they began to feel like something was up when congressmen from both sides of the aisle "oddly" refrained from talking down to each other or reflexively belittling their opponents' viewpoints as out-of-touch, dangerous, or anti-American.

Moreover, the passage of a jobs training bill without a single congressman invoking bureaucratic stalling tactics put beltway observers on edge, and instilled a deep-seated fear that lawmakers might possibly be hiding dark intentions of some kind.

Onlookers said they felt a chill down their collective spines upon seeing an image of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) shaking hands.

"I don't know what's going on here, but I know I don't like it," said Time political columnist Joe Klein, who watched C-SPAN in disturbed shock as the Senate proceeded quickly and smoothly on a federal judicial confirmation. "Something's off. Something is definitely off. It's almost as if lawmakers are putting the well-being of the country above their own self interest and hard-line party ideology."

"This can't be good for America," he added.

While a small handful of citizens have suggested that Congress' newfound willingness to find common ground might actually prove beneficial to the country, these views have largely been drowned out by the vast majority of Americans who believe there is a sinister scheme at work.

According to paranoid sources, much of the populace believes elected officials are angling to slip in a terrifying, power grabbing law through Congress that drastically reduces Americans' individual freedoms. Others say that Republicans and Democrats are trying to lull each other into a false sense of security before orchestrating a bloody coup on one another.

Some reportedly even believe that the restoration of comity has to do with Washington receiving word of nuclear missiles headed towards the United States, and, as a result, lawmakers feel as if the 112th Congress should properly govern the country at least once before America is annihilated.

"It feels like this is the calm before the storm," Talking Points Memo editor Josh Marshall told reporters. "John Boehner is working with the White House on a long term deficit reduction plan? Nancy Pelosi and Eric Cantor have agreed to go to lunch and talk about making college more affordable? Something is going to happen. Something bad."

Overall, Congress's mature and professional behavior has sent the country into a frightened tailspin. By evening, reports indicated that supermarket shelves had been picked clean across much of the country, many had withdrawn all their savings in cash, and retailers were reporting a nationwide run on ammunition. Additionally, many frantic, desperate citizens have called on the president to restore bitter acrimony to Congress immediately.

"I'm frightened for my life," said distraught Lubbock, TX resident Chris Lefebvre, who claimed to have packed up all his essential belongings and was prepared to flee with his family across the Mexican border if the legislative branch began making headway on long-intractable issues such as immigration or entitlement reform. "People are having nervous breakdowns in the streets, newscasters clearly have no idea what's happening, and my children are terrified-they keep asking me what's going on, but I have no explanation."

"Where is all the partisan rancor and legislative gridlock?" he added. "It's the only thing we know."

Though many Washington insiders urged Americans to remain calm, all agreed that if both sides willingly come together in earnest to raise the debt-ceiling before the deadline, then "God help us all."
(c) 2012 The Onion

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Issues & Alibis Vol 12 # 09 (c) 03/02/2012

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