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In This Edition

Sam Harris is in search of, "Honesty."

Uri Avnery considers, "The Dwarfs."

David Sirota reviews, "The '80s Origins Of Today's Anti-Muslim Bigotry."

Randall Amster wonders, "Can People Power Overcome Nuclear Power?"

Jim Hightower investigates, "Restraining Wall Street With A Velvet Harness."

Helen Thomas asks, "What About The Wars?"

James Donahue warns about the dangers of, "Soy."

Joel S. Hirschhorn answers the question of, "Why So Many Americans Hate Obama."

Chris Floyd reports, "Shoe Drops, Boot Comes Out For Crowley."

Greg Palast with a nuclear alert, "Tokyo Electric To Build US Nuclear Plants!"

Paul Krugman discovers, "Another Inside Job."

Chris Hedges declares, "Power Concedes Nothing Without A Demand."

Robert Scheer concludes, "No Nukes Is Good Nukes."

N.Y. Con-gressman Peter King wins the coveted "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Ralph Nader examines, "Our Right-Leaning Public Media."

Phil Rockstroh elucidates, "From Celebrities To Tsunamis."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Landover Baptist tells, "The Terrifying Truth About Saint Patrick!" but first Uncle Ernie remembers, "Godzilla Versus Lipitor."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Mike Lester, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Ruben Bolling, P. Jamiol, No State.Com, Keith Tucker, Old American Century.Org, NINA, Universal Pictures, HBO, The Landover Baptist Church, 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."

Godzilla Versus Lipitor
By Ernest Stewart

"Nuclear facilities in the U.S. are closely monitored and are designed to withstand certain levels of earthquakes."
~~~ President Barack Obama ~~~

Endless hate, malice, revenge
War, pain and death
Never ending
Will you fight?
Or shun from the fate that's everyone's
Will you fight?
We must not just sit here and watch as we die away
So easy to forget
Don't close your eyes.
Never Ending War ~~~ All Shall Perish

"...the appointment of a manager could actually be considered a last option if the state can establish an 'early warning system' to nip financial emergencies in the bud." ~~~ Michigan Governor Rick Snyder

“Make no mistake about it—we dodged a bullet here, perhaps many bullets.” ~~~ William Bratton

I think I might be having a deja vu, all over again? A question for you movie buffs: wasn't it in "Godzilla Versus Lipitor" that the atomic-mutated gecko destroys the Fukushima Daichi Nuclear Power Station? Or was it in "Godzilla Versus The Palinsaurus?" For some reason, I keep getting those two confused! So, help me out if you can!

That wasn't the deja vu bit, though! What lies a few miles off the U.S. West Coast? Why, the Newport-Inglewood-Rose Canyon Fault! And what 1960s designed-power generator is just a couple miles from that fault? If you said the "San Onofre Atomic Power Plant," you may stay after class and clean the blackboards! Oh, and did I mention that the Fukushima Daichi Nuclear Power Station was a better-built station designed to handle a much bigger earthquake than San Onofre Atomic Power Plant? One wonders the kind of braintrust that came up with the idea of building a nuclear plant on top of a fault, and even more of a puzzler would be why in Zeus' name would any politician okay such a major disaster waiting to happen in the first place?

Fortunately, the rest of the state is safe except for two things, The first is that the radiation unleashed in Japan, just like their rice balloon bombs released against America in WWII, is being sucked up in the "Jet Stream" and is now raining down on folks in California and points north and east. Not a big thing compared to the fact that the rest of the atomic plants in California are built on the "San Andreas," the "mother" of all the fault lines!

So how did Obamahood, who wants to build nuclear reactors all over America, react to Fukushima Daichi disasters? He sent his power mouth piece, Energy Secretary Steven Chu to inform Congress that:

"The American people should have full confidence that the United States has rigorous safety regulations in place to ensure that our nuclear power is generated safely and responsibly," ...however the Obama administration "is committed to learning from Japan's experience as we work to continue to strengthen America's nuclear industry."

Sounds reassuring, huh? Oh, did I mention who Obamahood wants to build those reactors in Texas? No? Well, the same folks that built and operated those three failed reactors in Japan: Tokyo Electric! Now, don't worry; be happy, America! Just roll over, and go back to sleep; everything is going to be okay, even if it kills us!

In Other News

In case you've forgotten, our never-ending wars against brown-skinned people for the benefit of white-skinned people goes on and on. Former CIA head and Crime Family Bush™ stooge; but I repeat myself, and current Secretary of Defense who was appointed by Smirky to replace deputy-fuhrer Donald Von Rumsfeld, Robert Gates, was off to Afghanistan this week.

Robert was there for a photo op apology for our bored helicopter pilots, who, while having a little fun, murdered nine little boys, ages 7 to 12, who were collecting firewood to keep from freezing to death in Kunar Province! Here's a tip for our GI Joes and Janes who will soon depart for the war zones, always remember not to lead children quite as much as you would adults when targeting them!

The real reason for Gates' appearance was to inform our puppet Hamid Karzai that we'd soon be dispatching a "negotiating team" from Washington to work out a “strategic partnership” with the Afghans. Such a “partnership” would, he indicated, "keep the U.S. military in the country well past the 2014 'deadline' for the withdrawal of 'combat troops.'”

He also discussed the building of mega "temporary" bases which could become permanent, if our puppets want them to. I wonder, don't you, if that could happen? Actually, neither you nor I wondered, did we, as it is, no doubt, a fete de complete!

Oh, and you might recall that when Obamahood sent those 30,000 extra troops in, he mentioned he'd start withdrawing them this summer. While many thought he was talking about those 30,000, the reality is more like a single brigade--perhaps 2,000, at most!

And Finally

The fight across America to destroy the unions and the middle class goes on and on in every state where the Governor and houses are being taken over by the Rethuglicans, and not to mention several states run by Demoncrats as well. Here in Michigan, with newly-elected governor Rick Hitler, oops, Snyder, and both houses controlled by the Rethuglicans, there's no difference between Lansing and Madison, except Rick is slightly brighter than Wisconsin's new king.

Here, as soon as he signs the "Emergency Manager Law" just rammed though both houses, Rick will be able to appoint people to take over financially troubled local governments and schools and cancel labor contracts. Not only that, but it gives these emergency "managers" the right to fire any and all elected officials that get in his way!

The Local Government and School District Fiscal Accountability Act creates a range of triggers for state involvement in local communities and "allows the governor to appoint managers to fire local elected officials, break labor agreements, suspend collective bargaining rights for five years, order millage elections, take over pension funds and even dissolve local governments." So you think that fascism may someday, somehow, come to this country, huh? Guess what? Fascism is already here, America, and has been since some greasy Spaniards pulled up in boats and began singing, "God Bless Vespucciland!" The difference is now fascism isn't trying to hide its presence; it's out in the open--daring you to defy it!

Like in Wisconsin, the explanation is this is needed because of the budget deficits. For example, the $2,000,000,000.00 deficit just caused by Rick by giving that money to the rich in the form of more tax breaks for the wealthy will partially be made up by a $1,000,000,000.00 tax on retirees. I mean, these lazy, lay-about-bums don't pay taxes on their retirement monies, like everyone else does, except that they did pay retirement taxes all their working lives. Rick is just like Obamahood, stealing from the poor, to give to the rich! Anyone see any common threads emerging, in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and New Jersey?

This is war against the middle and working classes, a war to destroy them and make the few that they need, their willing slaves, while the rest are sent off to a "Happy Camp" to make organic fertilizers!

Keepin' On

We're hanging on by the skin of our teeth. Thanks to George and Marianne who picked up the tab on our almost overdue bill. So on we go until at least June before another bill comes due.

I've lost count of the times that it looked like it was over for the magazine when some hero or heroes stood up and were counted in the fight to restore our Republic! Stood up in the face of financial adversity and sent in a donation or bought ad space. So let's all give George and Marianne a nice round of applause. You're now on our Christmas and special offers list!

While I've had my hope renewed in my fellow man, three more bills come due in June, July and September, all three of which are more than twice the cost of this one! So if you could spare a brother a dime, by all means, please do. When that big tax refund comes in, perhaps you might send us a small percentage? Or if you'd like to spread the word about your business or products, please think of us in your advertising campaigns; where else are you going to find a group of your peers, already assembled?

Come Sancho, and hand me my lance, I think I see a big monster standing in front of the House of Representatives. Vamanos muchachos!


01-19-1935 ~ 03-13-2011
Thanks for the trips brother!

07-30-1940 ~ 03-14-2011
Thanks for da blues!

08-19-1969 ~ 03-15-2011
Thanks for the rhymes!


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


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

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

The Muslim World’s Scarcest Resource?
By Sam Harris

In the aftermath of the House hearing on American Muslims, Representative Keith Ellison appeared on HBO’s Real Time to further testify to the benign nature of Islam. Attempting to bring some glint of reality to the conversation, Bill Maher posed the following question:

Have you read Sam Harris’s book, The End of Faith?… [Harris] says, “On almost every page, the Qur’an instructs observant Muslims to despise non-believers.”

The Congressmen rejected this description of the Qur’an as “absurd, ridiculous and untrue”—the result of taking certain passages “out of context.” When Maher asked how jihadists can justify their actions by reading these same passages in context, Ellison claimed that jihadists do nothing of the sort. Rather, they think in terms of “political grievances,” not religious doctrine, and those who oppose them have the true doctrine of Islam on their side.

It is not my purpose to defend the House hearing on American Muslims (which I did not get a chance to watch). But it is growing increasingly disconcerting to see moderate Muslims reflexively lie about the tenets of their faith. Of course, it’s hard to know whether Ellison was actually lying or is merely unaware of the contents of the Qur’an. But I have witnessed too many of these exchanges with Muslim apologists, both in public and private, to ignore the general trend. Who will reform Islam if moderate Muslims refuse to speak honestly about the very doctrines in need of reform?

Here is the section of The End of Faith that Maher was referring to, in which I provide five pages of quotations from the Qur’an. Please know that these are not the only passages of this kind in the text. I simply broke off the litany sacred hatred once I felt I had proved my point. Even worse passages appear later in the book (in chapters 8 and 9, for instance).

(from The End of Faith, pp. 117-123)

Open the Koran, which is perfect in its every syllable, and simply read it with the eyes of faith. You will see how little compassion need be wasted on those whom God himself is in the process of “mocking,” “cursing,” “shaming,” “punishing,” “scourging,” “judging,” “burning,” “annihilating,” “not forgiving,” and “not reprieving.” God, who is infinitely wise, has cursed the infidels with their doubts. He prolongs their life and prosperity so that they may continue heaping sin upon sin and all the more richly deserve the torments that await them beyond the grave. In this light, the people who died on September 11 were nothing more than fuel for the eternal fires of God’s justice. To convey the relentlessness with which unbelievers are vilified in the text of the Koran, I provide a long compilation of quotations below, in order of their appearance in the text. This is what the Creator of the universe apparently has on his mind (when he is not fussing with gravitational constants and atomic weights):

“It is the same whether or not you forewarn them [the unbelievers], they will have no faith” (2:6). “God will mock them and keep them long in sin, blundering blindly along” (2:15). A fire “whose fuel is men and stones” awaits them (2:24). They will be “rewarded with disgrace in this world and with grievous punishment on the Day of Resurrection” (2:85). “God’s curse be upon the infidels!” (2:89). “They have incurred God’s most inexorable wrath. An ignominious punishment awaits [them]” (2:90). “God is the enemy of the unbelievers” (2:98). “The unbelievers among the People of the Book [Christians and Jews], and the pagans, resent that any blessing should have been sent down to you from your Lord” (2:105). “They shall be held up to shame in this world and sternly punished in the hereafter” (2:114). “Those to whom We [God] have given the Book, and who read it as it ought to be read, truly believe in it; those that deny it shall assuredly be lost” (2:122). “[We] shall let them live awhile, and then shall drag them to the scourge of the Fire. Evil shall be their fate” (2:126). “The East and the West are God’s. He guides whom He will to a straight path” (2:142). “Do not say that those slain in the cause of God are dead. They are alive, but you are not aware of them” (2:154). “But the infidels who die unbelievers shall incur the curse of God, the angels, and all men. Under it they shall remain for ever; their punishment shall not be lightened, nor shall they be reprieved” (2:162). “They shall sigh with remorse, but shall never come out of the Fire” (2:168). “The unbelievers are like beasts which, call out to them as one may, can hear nothing but a shout and a cry. Deaf, dumb, and blind, they understand nothing” (2:172). “Theirs shall be a woeful punishment” (2:175). “How steadfastly they seek the Fire! That is because God has revealed the Book with truth; those that disagree about it are in extreme schism” (2:176). “Slay them wherever you find them. Drive them out of the places from which they drove you. Idolatry is worse than carnage. . . . [I]f they attack you put them to the sword. Thus shall the unbelievers be rewarded: but if they desist, God is forgiving and merciful. Fight against them until idolatry is no more and God’s religion reigns supreme. But if they desist, fight none except the evil-doers”(2:190–93). “Fighting is obligatory for you, much as you dislike it. But you may hate a thing although it is good for you, and love a thing although it is bad for you. God knows, but you know not” (2:216). “They will not cease to fight against you until they force you to renounce your faith—if they are able. But whoever of you recants and dies an unbeliever, his works shall come to nothing in this world and in the world to come. Such men shall be the tenants of Hell, wherein they shall abide forever. Those that have embraced the Faith, and those that have fled their land and fought for the cause of God, may hope for God’s mercy” (2:217–18). “God does not guide the evil-doers” (2:258). “God does not guide the unbelievers” (2:264). “The evil-doers shall have none to help them” (2:270). “God gives guidance to whom He will” (2:272).

“Those that deny God’s revelations shall be sternly punished; God is mighty and capable of revenge” (3:5). “As for the unbelievers, neither their riches nor their children will in the least save them from God’s judgment. They shall become fuel for the Fire” (3:10). “Say to the unbelievers: ‘You shall be overthrown and driven into Hell—an evil resting place!’” (3:12). “The only true faith in God’s sight is Islam. . . . He that denies God’s revelations should know that swift is God’s reckoning” (3:19). “Let the believers not make friends with infidels in preference to the faithful—he that does this has nothing to hope for from God—except in self-defense” (3:28). “Believers, do not make friends with any but your own people. They will spare no pains to corrupt you. They desire nothing but your ruin. Their hatred is evident from what they utter with their mouths, but greater is the hatred which their breasts conceal” (3:118). “If you have suffered a defeat, so did the enemy. We alternate these vicissitudes among mankind so that God may know the true believers and choose martyrs from among you (God does not love the evil-doers); and that God may test the faithful and annihilate the infidels” (3:140). “Believers, if you yield to the infidels they will drag you back to unbelief and you will return headlong to perdition. . . . We will put terror into the hearts of the unbelievers. . . . The Fire shall be their home” (3:149–51). “Believers, do not follow the example of the infidels, who say of their brothers when they meet death abroad or in battle: ‘Had they stayed with us they would not have died, nor would they have been killed.’ God will cause them to regret their words. . . . If you should die or be slain in the cause of God, God’s forgiveness and His mercy would surely be better than all the riches they amass” (3:156). “Never think that those who were slain in the cause of God are dead. They are alive, and well provided for by their Lord; pleased with His gifts and rejoicing that those they left behind, who have not yet joined them, have nothing to fear or to regret; rejoicing in God’s grace and bounty. God will not deny the faithful their reward” (3:169). “Let not the unbelievers think that We prolong their days for their own good. We give them respite only so that they may commit more grievous sins. Shameful punishment awaits them” (3:178). “Those that suffered persecution for My sake and fought and were slain: I shall forgive them their sins and admit them to gardens watered by running streams, as a reward from God; God holds the richest recompense. Do not be deceived by the fortunes of the unbelievers in the land. Their prosperity is brief. Hell shall be their home, a dismal resting place” (3:195–96).

“God has cursed them in their unbelief” (4:46). “God will not forgive those who serve other gods besides Him; but He will forgive whom He will for other sins. He that serves other gods besides God is guilty of a heinous sin. . . . Consider those to whom a portion of the Scriptures was given. They believe in idols and false gods and say of the infidels: ‘These are better guided than the believers’” (4:50–51). “Those that deny Our revelation We will burn in fire. No sooner will their skins be consumed than We shall give them other skins, so that they may truly taste the scourge. God is mighty and wise” (4:55–56).

“Believers, do not seek the friendship of the infidels and those who were given the Book before you, who have made of your religion a jest and a pastime” (5:57). “That which is revealed to you from your Lord will surely increase the wickedness and unbelief of many among them. We have stirred among them enmity and hatred, which will endure till the Day of Resurrection” (5:65). “God does not guide the unbelievers” (5:67). “That which is revealed to you from your Lord will surely increase the wickedness and unbelief of many among them. But do not grieve for the unbelievers” (5:69). “You see many among them making friends with unbelievers. Evil is that to which their souls prompt them. They have incurred the wrath of God and shall endure eternal torment. . . . You will find that the most implacable of men in their enmity to the faithful are the Jews and the pagans, and that the nearest in affection to them are those who say: ‘We are Christians’” (5:80–82). “[T]hose that disbelieve and deny Our revelations shall become the inmates of Hell” (5:86).

“[T]hey deny the truth when it is declared to them: but they shall learn the consequences of their scorn” (6:5). “We had made them more powerful in the land than yourselves [the Meccans], sent down for them abundant water from the sky and gave them rivers that rolled at their feet. Yet because they sinned We destroyed them all and raised up other generations after them. If We sent down to you a Book inscribed on real parchment and they touched it with their own hands, the unbelievers would still assert: ‘This is but plain sorcery.’ They ask: ‘Why has no angel been sent down to him [Muhammad]?’ If We had sent down an angel, their fate would have been sealed and they would have never been reprieved” (6:5–8). “Who is more wicked than the man who invents falsehoods about God or denies His revelations?” (6:21). “Some of them listen to you. But We have cast veils over their hearts and made them hard of hearing lest they understand your words. They will believe in none of Our signs, even if they see them one and all. When they come to argue with you the unbelievers say: ‘This is nothing but old fictitious tales.’ They forbid it and depart from it. They ruin none but themselves, though they do not perceive it. If you could see them when they are set before the Fire! They will say: ‘Would that we could return! Then we would not deny the revelations of our Lord and would be true believers’ (6:23–27). “But if they were sent back, they would return to that which they have been forbidden. They are liars all” (6:29). “Had God pleased He would have given them guidance, one and all” (6:35). “Deaf and dumb are those that deny Our revelations: they blunder about in darkness. God confounds whom He will, and guides to a straight path whom He pleases.” (6:39) “[T]heir hearts were hardened, and Satan made their deeds seem fair to them. And when they had clean forgotten Our admonition We granted them all that they desired; but just as they were rejoicing in what they were given, We suddenly smote them and they were plunged into utter despair. Thus were the evil-doers annihilated. Praise be to God, Lord of the Universe!” (6:43–45). “[T]hose that deny Our revelations shall be punished for their misdeeds” (6:49). “Such are those that are damned by their own sins. They shall drink scalding water and be sternly punished for their unbelief” (6:70). “Could you but see the wrongdoers when death overwhelms them! With hands out-stretched, the angels will say: ‘Yield up your souls. You shall be rewarded with the scourge of shame this day, for you have said of God what is untrue and scorned His revelations” (6:93). “Avoid the pagans. Had God pleased, they would not have worshipped idols. . . . We will turn away their hearts and eyes from the Truth since they refused to believe in it at first. We will let them blunder about in their wrongdoing. If We sent the angels down to them, and caused the dead to speak to them, . . . and ranged all things in front of them, they would still not believe, unless God willed otherwise. . . . Thus have We assigned for every prophet an enemy: the devils among men and jinn, who inspire each other with vain and varnished false- hoods. But had your Lord pleased, they would not have done so. Therefore leave them to their own inventions, so that the hearts of those who have no faith in the life to come may be inclined to what they say and, being pleased, persist in their sinful ways” (6:107–12). “The devils will teach their votaries to argue with you. If you obey them you shall yourselves become idolaters. . . . God will humiliate the transgressors and mete out to them a grievous punishment for their scheming” (6:121–25). “If God wills to guide a man, He opens his bosom to Islam. But if he pleases to confound him, He makes his bosom small and narrow as though he were climbing up to heaven. Thus shall God lay the scourge on the unbelievers” (6:125).

Yes, the Bible contains its own sadistic lunacy—but the above quotations can be fairly said to convey the central message of the Qur’an—and of Islam at nearly every moment in its history. The Qur’an does not contain anything like a Sermon on the Mount. Nor is it a vast and self-contradictory book like the Old Testament, in which whole sections (like Leviticus and Deuteronomy) can be easily ignored and forgotten. The result is a unified message of triumphalism, otherworldliness, and religious hatred that has become a problem for the entire world. And the world still waits for moderate Muslims to speak honestly about it.
(c) 2011 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.

The Dwarfs
By Uri Avnery

JERUSALEM IS abuzz with brilliant new ideas. The brightest minds of our political establishment are grappling with the problems created by the ongoing Arab revolution that is reshaping the landscape around us.

Here is the latest crop of mind-bogglingly innovative ideas:

Minister of Defense Ehud Barak has announced that he is going to ask the US for a grant of another 20 billion dollars for more state-of-the-art fighter planes, missile boats, a submarine, troop carriers and so on.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had his picture taken surrounded by female soldiers – like Muammar Qaddafi in the good old days – looking beyond the Jordan River and announcing that the Israeli army would never ever leave the Jordan valley. According to him, this occupied strip of land is Israel’s vital “security border.”

This slogan is as old as the occupation itself. It was part of the celebrated Allon Plan, which was designed to surround the West Bank with Israeli territory. Incidentally, the father of the plan, Yigal Allon, was also a leader of the Kibbutz movement, and the Jordan valley looked to him like an ideal area for new Kibbutzim – it is flat, well watered and was sparsely populated.

However, times have changed. When Allon was a legendary commander in the 1948 war, he did not even dream of missiles. Today, missiles launched from beyond the Jordan can easily reach my home in Tel Aviv. When Netanyahu declares that we need the Jordan valley in order to stop the Arabs from smuggling missiles into the West Bank, he is, well, a little bit behind the times.

When the politicians bravely face the new world, the army dares not lag behind. This week, several division commanders announced that they were preparing for Tahrir-style “non-violent mass uprisings” in the West Bank. Troops are trained, riot control means are stocked. Our glorious army is being prepared for yet another colonial police job.

To reinforce the mental vigor of the leadership, Netanyahu has now mobilized an awesome intellect: he has appointed General Yaakov Amidror as Chief of the National Security Council. Amidror, the highest ranking kippa-wearing officer in the army, has never hidden his ultra-ultra nationalist views, including his total opposition to a Palestinian state and peace in general. He is, by the way, the officer who recently mentioned approvingly that some armies put “a bullet into the heads” of soldiers who don’t rise to storm an enemy position.

It is only fitting that Netanyahu invited the National Front party, which includes openly fascist elements, to join his government this week. They refused, because Netanyahu is not extreme enough for them.

In the meantime, a dozen top politicians, from Avigdor Lieberman down, have been dusting off moribund plans for “interim agreements” – old merchandise sitting sadly on the shelves, with no buyers in sight.

All in all: political dwarfs, confronted with a revolutionary new reality which they can neither understand nor cope with. (This is not to insult real-life dwarfs, who are, of course, as intelligent as anyone else.)

WITH THIS bunch of leaders, it is almost utopian to ask what we could and should do to attune ourselves to the new geopolitical reality.

Assuming that the Arab world, or a large part of it, is on the road to democracy and social progress, how will this affect our future?

Can we build bridges to such progressive, multi-party societies? Can we persuade them to accept us as a legitimate part of the region? Can we participate in the political and economic emergence of a “New Middle East”?

I believe we can. But the absolute, unalterable precondition is that we make peace with the Palestinian people.

It is the unshakable – and self-fulfilling - conviction of the entire Israeli establishment that this is impossible. They are quite right – as long as they are in charge, it is indeed impossible. But with another leadership, will things be different?

If both sides – and this depends heavily on Israel, the incomparably stronger side - really want peace, peace is there for the asking. All the requirements are lying plainly on the table. They have been discussed endlessly. The points for compromise are clearly marked. It would need no more than a few weeks to work out the details. Borders, Jerusalem, settlements, refugees, water, security – we all know by now what the solutions are. (I and others have enumerated them several times.) What is lacking is the political will.

A peace agreement – signed by the PLO, ratified in a popular referendum, accepted by Hamas – will radically change the attitude of the Arab peoples in general towards Israel.

This is not simply a matter of form – it goes deep into the bedrock of national consciousness. Not one of the ongoing uprisings in the various Arab countries is anti-Israeli by nature. Nowhere do the Arab masses cry out for war. Indeed, the idea of war contradicts their basic aspirations: social progress, freedom, a standard of living which allows a life in dignity.

However, as long as the occupation of Palestinian territory goes on, the Arab masses will reject conciliation with Israel. Whatever the feelings of any particular Arab people towards the Palestinians – all Arabs feel profoundly obligated to help in the liberation of their fellow-Arabs. As an Egyptian leader once told me: “They are our poor relatives, and our tradition does not allow us to forsake a poor relative. It is a matter of honor.”

Therefore, Israel will crop up in every free election campaign in the Arab countries, and every party will feel obliged to condemn Israel.

ONE ARGUMENT against peace, endlessly repeated by our official propaganda, is that Hamas will never accept it. The specter of Islamist movements in other countries winning democratic elections – as Hamas did in Palestine – is painted on the wall as a mortal danger.

It may be worthwhile remembering that Hamas was effectively created by Israel in the first place.

During the first decades of the occupation, the military governors forbade any kind of Palestinian political activity, even by those who were advocating peace with Israel. Activists were sent to prison. There was only one exception: Islamists. Not only was it impossible to prevent them from assembling in the mosques – the only public space left open – but the military governors were told to encourage Islamist organizations, as a counterforce to the PLO, which was considered the main enemy. The PLO was and remains non-religious, and many Christians have played a significant role in it.

That was, of course, a stupid idea, typical of the short-sightedness of our political and military leaders, as far as Arab affairs are concerned. On the outbreak of the first intifada, the Islamist movement constituted itself as Hamas (“Islamic Resistance Movement”) and took up the fight.

The emergence of Hizbollah was also a result of Israeli actions. When Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982 in order to destroy the PLO mini-state in the South of the country, it created a vacuum that was soon filled by the newly founded Shiite Party of God, Hizbollah.

Both Hamas and Hizbollah aspire to power in their respective countries. That is their main aim. For both, the fight against Israel is more a means than an end. Once peace is achieved, their energies will be directed to the struggle for power in their own countries.

Will Hamas accept peace? It has declared as much in a roundabout way: if the Palestinian Authority makes peace, they have declared, and if the peace agreement is ratified by a Palestinian referendum, Hamas will accept it as an expression of the people’s will. The same goes for all the Islamic movements in the various Arab countries, with the exception of al-Qaeda and the likes, which are not nationally-based political parties but international conspiratorial organizations.

With a peace treaty freely accepted by the Palestinians as the satisfaction of their national aspirations, any intervention by other Arab countries will become redundant, if not downright ridiculous. Hizbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and similar national religious organizations will concentrate their efforts on gaining power within the new democratic structures.

With this obstacle removed, Israel will be judged by the Arab masses for what it is, at that time. We shall have the historic chance to take part in the reshaping of the entire region. Our deeds will speak.

MORE THAN 50 years ago, the then Crown Prince of Morocco, Moulai Hassan - the later king Hassan II - made a historic proposal: to invite Israel to join the Arab League. At the time, the idea sounded outlandish and was soon forgotten. (Except by the king himself, who reminded me of it when he received me secretly in 1981.)

Today, with a new Arab world in sight, this utopian vision is suddenly looking more realistic. Yes, after peace, with the free and sovereign State of Palestine becoming a full member of the UN, a reformed regional structure , including Israel, perhaps Turkey and, in due course, Iran, will move into the realm of reality.

A region with open borders, with commercial activity and economic cooperation flourishing from Marrakesh to Mosul, from Haifa to Aden, within a generation or two – yes, that is one of the possibilities opened by the current earth-shaking events.

SUCH A development would need, of course, a total change in our basic concepts, some of which are at least as old as Zionism itself.

It will not happen as long as our political and intellectual life is dominated by Netanyahu, Lieberman, Barak, Eli Yishai, Tzipi Livni, Shimon Peres and their ilk. The stage must be cleared of this whole crop of dwarfs.

Can this happen? Will it happen? “Realists” will shake their heads - as they did before the Germans tore down their wall, before Boris Yeltsin climbed on that tank and before the Americans elected an Afro-American president whose middle name is Hussein.
(c) 2011 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

The '80s Origins Of Today's Anti-Muslim Bigotry
By David Sirota

The least intriguing aspect of Republican Rep. Peter King's congressional hearing this week on terrorism and the "radicalization in the American Muslim community" is the spectacle's obvious hypocrisy. King was himself a cheerleader of a terrorist group (the Irish Republican Army), and his hearings ignore new government statistics showing that since 9/11, right-wing and white supremacist terrorist plots have outnumbered those of Muslims. Indeed, as the law enforcement data prove, if "radicalization" is a concern, it is at least as much of a problem in the ultraconservative community as it is in the American Muslim community.

King has defended his hearing's narrow focus by saying that "there are a small percentage (of Muslims) who have allied themselves with al-Qaida" and that "the leaders of that community do not face up to that reality (and are) not willing to speak out and condemn this type of radicalization." In the wake of Joseph Stack's kamikaze attack on the IRS, Scott Roeder's killing of abortion provider George Tiller, and Byron Williams’ Glenn-Beck-inspired terrorist plot (among other atrocities), King should be saying exactly the same thing about his fellow conservatives -- but he's not.

As I said, this hypocrisy isn't interesting because it's so utterly undeniable. However, what is interesting -- and profoundly telling -- is King's explanation for his behavior. He says simply that "It makes no sense to talk about other [read: non-Muslim] types of extremism."

The remark, of course, typifies a broader sentiment in America and raises the most important "why" question: Why do so many like King see extremist acts by non-Muslims as mere isolated incidents that "make no sense to talk about," yet see extremist acts by Muslims as a systemic problem worthy of military invasions and now congressional witch hunts?

The short answer is 9/11 -- but that's oversimplified. Anti-Muslim sentiment was embedded in American society well before that horrific attack stoked a bigoted backlash. The real answer is connected to overwrought Reagan/Bush-era pop culture that first equated "terrorist" with "Muslim.”

As film scholar Jack Shaheen discovered in his book "Reel Bad Arabs," roughly a third of the most blatantly anti-Muslim films of the last century were made in the 1980s alone. These movies used sporadic atrocities committed by individual Islamic extremists (the Lebanon bombing, the Berlin bombing, etc.) to demonize all Muslims. Consequently, Hollywood's go-to villain in the 1980s became the Muslim terrorist -- whether it was "Iron Eagle's" unnamed Middle Eastern country or "Back to the Future's" bazooka-wielding Libyans.

Notice that those two movies were aimed at '80s kids who have now grown up. That was the norm with Islamophobic pop culture in the Reagan/Bush period -- and not just in film. Early '80s editions of the G.I. Joe comic book, for example, had the heroes alternately fighting Iranians and "infiltrating a Persian Gulf nation." Likewise, in the lead-up to the first Gulf War, there were Muslim-demonizing board games for kids like "The Butcher of Baghdad" and "Arabian Nightmare." And, of course, there was the World Wrestling Federation, whose preeminent Bad Guy was the keffiyeh-clad Iron Sheik -- described by one wrestling publication at the time as an "evil hitman (who) shows no mercy in terrorist attacks on the USA's best." And so what started as a cheap pop culture trope in the 1980s has now become the unquestioned assumption -- the assumption that King's hearings clearly appeal to. His inquisition and the sentiment it represents asks us to continue indulging the stereotypes we were sold as kids, and to ignore what should be the most frightening fact of all: the fact that no matter what stories we were told in the '80s, "radicalization" is a systemic problem, and not limited to any one religious minority.
(c) 2010 David Sirota is the author of the best-selling books "Hostile Takeover" and "The Uprising." He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado and blogs at E-mail him at David Sirota is a former spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee.

Can People Power Overcome Nuclear Power?
By Randall Amster

Search the news for the word “meltdown” these days and you’ll probably get one of three main hits: the situation in Japan; the U.S. economy; and Charlie Sheen. Take a guess which one is most likely to occupy peoples’ attention spans and fill the pages of tabloids going forward? Celebrity gossip is a powerful palliative for troubled times, and most of us know about as much behind the science of nuclear reactions as we do about the inner workings of the economy. Sheen? We know him all too well…

So it’s not surprising that calamitous events – from the BP gusher to the “long hard slog” of Afghanistan – slip beneath the collective radar and result in almost no widespread changes in modern society. The war drags on and the crude is in our food, yet few seem all that outwardly concerned. With the economy, at least there’s been a bit of push-back of late, but across America the malls are still open for business-as-usual and CEOs are laughing all the way to the bank with record bonuses.

What will it take to overcome the cultural doldrums of apathy and distraction? The Japanese disaster weaves together a number of common threads that could serve to jolt people out of their complacency if the knowledge was widely disseminated – but unless a cloud of radioactive death arrives in America, that seems unlikely to occur. After all, we live in such an egocentric culture that commentators like CNBC’s Larry Kudlow can blithely utter callous statements about Japan and still remain on the air: “The human toll here looks to be much worse than the economic toll, and we can be grateful for that.”

The same forces that would centralize the economy in the name of productivity and security are likewise behind the centralization of energy production. Even as it is being touted as a “green” and “carbon-neutral” source, nuclear power is the antithesis of potential small-scale evolutions in solar and wind power. Few of us could operate a nuclear reactor, and the very workings of the technology are beyond the technical capacities of the populace. This breeds an utter dependency upon not only the suppliers of such energy, but also upon the information (both pre- and post-catastrophe) they are supplying to us.

In the case of Japan in particular, this horrifying episode is all-too-reminiscent of the images following the atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of WWII. One might think that a nation as beset as Japan was in the aftermath – whose effects lingered for decades – might have entirely forsworn anything remotely to do with the nuclear enterprise. But the impetus of corporate-financed, government-subsidized, and highly centralized energy production is difficult to resist, both for its political and electrical potentials. Still, with its innovative technical capacities, Japan surely could have used the last three score years to develop a model of truly green energy production to set a template for the other nations of the world to follow.

Now, we are realizing a different lesson coming out of Japan, namely a cautionary tale about the true nature of nuclear power. Humankind simply has no business literally “playing with fire” in terms of technologies that exceed our ability to manage their full implications. With oil, natural gas, and the like, we are already pushing (and likely exceeding) the envelope when it comes to our absorptive capacities to cope with the worst results of drilling, spilling, fires, and emissions. Nuclear energy takes this human haplessness even further, leaving us mute before wastes that spew for millennia, putting us at the mercy of technocrats lacking a mitigation plan when disaster inevitably strikes, and feeding its byproducts back into a war machine that stands forever on the edge of annihilating us all. We simply cannot abide the values embedded in the “nuclear state” and its political and economic appurtenances.

In a bygone day, lone voices such as Rachel Carson and Ralph Nader called out the looming disasters being fostered by our growing dependence upon untested and unwise technological interventions. Nader’s screed on the automotive industry made him a household name, and brought to the public consciousness for the first time in a widespread manner the essential notion that all was not as it seemed in advertisements and corporate showrooms. His thesis still holds true today, and the preface to Unsafe at Any Speed contains more than a few overtones that speak directly to the issues of our time:

For over half a century the automobile has brought death, injury, and the most inestimable sorrow and deprivation to millions of people…. [T]he true mark of a humane society must be what it does about prevention of accident injuries, not the cleaning up of them afterward…. The roots of the unsafe vehicle problem are so entrenched that the situation can be improved only by the forging of new instruments of citizen action…. A great problem of contemporary life is how to control the power of economic interests which ignore the harmful effects of their applied science and technology…. Our society’s obligation to protect the ‘body rights’ of its citizens with vigorous resolve and ample resources requires the precise, authoritative articulation and front-rank support which is being devoted to civil rights…. A principal reason why the automobile has remained the only transportation vehicle to escape being called to meaningful public account is that the public has never been supplied the information nor offered the quality of competition to enable it to make effective demands through the marketplace and through government for a safe, nonpolluting and efficient automobile….

Nader’s incisive logic applies equally to nuclear power – and furthermore to the workings of the military-industrial complex with which it is intimately intertwined. We can also extend the lesson to our economic and political systems, which likewise operate without “being called to meaningful public account,” and have by now become “so entrenched that the situation can be improved only by the forging of new instruments of citizen action.” With the advent of popular uprisings around the world, and a nascent equivalent potentially emerging in places like Wisconsin, the time is ripe for citizen action to directly confront the growing behemoth that is ceaselessly rendering us as mere dependents. The main question now is whether people power is stronger than nuclear power, and all that it represents.
(c) 2011 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).

Restraining Wall Street With A Velvet Harness

No doubt you will be as pleased as I was to learn that the Securities and Exchange Commission is cracking down on those unconscionable pay packages that Wall Street elites keep grabbing.

By a 3-2 vote, SEC commissioners socked the money-grubbing bankers with a new "say on pay" rule. Rather than let top executives lavish money on themselves unchecked, the new rule lets shareholders of those financial giants vote on extravagant salaries, bonuses, and perks. That'll rein in the excess, right?

Probably not. You see, the SEC has long been a gentle regulator, never wanting to hear a Wall Streeter say "ouch." Thus, the say-on-pay rule has no bite. Shareholders can indeed have their say, but it's a non-binding vote! Bank big shots can simply ignore it. Yet, even this velvet harness was too rough for the two, soft-on-greed Republican commissioners, Kathleen Casey and Troy Paredes. Both voted no, with Casey explaining that the new rules "are unduly restrictive and impose unnecessary burdens" on bankers.

Don't despair though, for justice still might be served. The SEC has since approved another compensation crackdown, this time specifically targeting outrageous, multimillion-dollar bonuses. For the first time, big banks will henceforth be compelled to restrain themselves. How? By filing detailed annual reports about the bonuses they pay. Ouch, that'll sting, won't it?

Again, though, even this tiny pinch was too harsh for the compassionate Republican members. Both sided with the poor bankers, wailing that requiring reports is a big-government intrusion into the private sector, overreaching the SEC's authority.

Luckily, a public interest group named Bankster USA is rallying grassroots support to curb banker greed. To have your own say and push for real reform, contact
(c) 2011 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition.

What About The Wars?
By Helen Thomas

America is suffering from attention deficit when it comes to the wars we are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan - and to a lesser degree, our involvement in Pakistan and Yemen.

And that is the way the White House, the Pentagon and other government institutions prefer it.

Despite the human cost and the drain on the national treasury to the tune of billions of dollars, it's out of sight and out of mind in the case of the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They were not even mentioned by the candidates in the mid-term elections.

But some people in the military do remember the troops. The Washington Post reported Lt. General Marine John Kelly made a speaking appearance in St. Louis last November. Four days earlier his son, Lt. Robert Kelly, also a Marine, stepped on a land mine in Afghanistan and died instantly.

Kelly, who asked that his son's death not be mentioned in his introduction, was clearly disturbed that American people are not aware of the price being paid in far-off wars. In his appearance Kelly said, "Their struggle is our struggle."

Rarely does President Obama mention the two major conflicts where we have thousands of fighting men and women - with deaths almost daily.

Oh yes, at Medal of Honor ceremonies, Obama makes the proper salute. And in the case of tragedies such as a U.S. air strike in Afghanistan killing nine little boys gathering wood, the President expresses our regrets and prayers for the tragic accident, a big help.

But one wonders, does the President understand his own responsibility for those young lives? The Afghan parents of these children will not even get a folded American flag.

Apparently none of the 87 new conservative Republican congressmen have expressed any pros or cons regarding these wars. Most of them are on board with the wars and have not called for any major slash in Pentagon spending.

The newcomers have shown their deep concern about the immense deficit - but the cost of war is not in their purview.

The GOP freshmen would rather slash funds for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, money badly needed for the poor and disadvantaged. The Republicans are also targeting school teachers. They should consider taking big pay cuts for themselves, including all of their perks. That will be the day for these frugal newcomers on Capitol Hill.

U.S. newspapers and television programs also ignore the wars. Some broadcasters do acknowledge the wars thousands of miles away, but they also say these wars are rarely the lead story, on grounds that people are not that interested.

But the truth is the Obama Administration is happy to keep the popular pressure off as the fighting goes on.

Obama is following his predecessor, George W. Bush, regarding war policies and censorship. The Bush Administration barred coverage by reporters and cameramen of the American soldier coffins. But the truth is the Obama Administration is happy to keep any anti-war popular pressure off against the wars as the fighting continues.

Those pictures might upset the country and leave us asking, "Why are we still fighting and dying in those wars?" We have yet to get a straightforward answer from Obama, as to why he chooses to continue the Bush-instigated wars.

The lack of focus on the mayhem goes back to a command decision during the Vietnam War.

Pentagon officials decided that war scenes in Vietnam beamed on the nightly news prompted anti-war demonstrations in the U.S. In the end, the American people did see the American troops hanging on helicopters, taking off from rooftops in Saigon, by their finger tips.

We lost the war - and should have left even sooner and saved lives.

The Pentagon decided we lost because most Americans had turned against the war. They sure did, because American families had hit the streets every day.

In the aftermath, the U.S. war planners said, "never again." They didn't mean never again would we fight wars in Asia - they meant they would never again let the American people see war in its reality, as we saw in Vietnam and now in North Africa.

After the Ford Administration, in 1974, the other Republican administrations tried to put the best spin on the Vietnam debacle, by calling it an honorable cause, but the American people knew otherwise.
(c) 2011 Helen Thomas is a columnist for the Falls Church News-Press. Among other books she is the author of Front Row At The White House: My Life and Times.

Not The Good Food We Once Thought
By James Donahue

There has been a world-wide movement, mostly among the youth, to pursue a healthy life style through yogi, regular exercise, seeking spiritual enlightenment and eating healthy foods.

For many the quest for healthy food resulted in a vegetarian diet, without the consumption of meat, or such animal products as milk, eggs and cheese. This led to a scramble for alternative sources of protein, since our bodies require certain levels of protein in our diet so we can get the complex assortment of amino acids needed to keep everything operating properly.

The answer was found in the lowly soy bean, a high protein product long used as animal feed but rarely accepted as food for humans. That is because raw soybeans taste terrible. But human ingenuity being what it is, as soon as there was a perceived market for soy, it did not take long before ways were found to convert soybeans into a variety of tasty dishes and alternative meat products readily available on our grocery shelves.

We can find soybean products that taste exactly like chicken, beef, pork and a variety of other meats. We can get soy powders to mix with chili and other stews that make consumers think they are eating concoctions mixed with ground hamburger. We even have soy milk and soy ice cream. Soy has become such a popular food source that many of our packaged foods include soy. That is because soy, in addition to be a meat alternative, also is much cheaper than real meat to produce.

Today soy is a hidden ingredient found in many processed foods. It is extensively used in fast food restaurants to cut the cost of producing hamburgers and other meat products. It is added to most supermarket breads and can be found in dry pet foods. The stuff can be found in just about everything man and domestic animals now eat.

The rush to produce more soybeans became a boon to American farmers who were happy to have a new cash crop to grow. Soy quickly became the new health food. Or so it was promoted. And it was not long before big business interests got control of this exciting new product. Seed monopoly Monsanto Corporation developed genetically modified varieties of soy. These new hybrid seeds were laced with pesticide and other substances that consumers were quick to reject. GMO soy, which now dominates an estimated 95 percent of the U.S. agricultural market, has been listed with many other Monsanto GMO seeds as “frankenfood.” Some European countries banned its use. Yet most people in America now consume the GMO variety of soy.

Ian “Doc” Shillington, who makes a living promoting and selling natural healing foods, has written about how difficult it has been to find pure non-GMO soy on the American market. He said that even though his marketing source assured him that the product he was selling was unadulterated and pure, when he tracked its source, he found that it came from Dupont, another leading producer of GMO soy seed. Shillington’s concern is that consumers are getting toxins added by Dupont or Monsanto in the soy they consume. But new research is beginning to reveal that Americans may have rushed too quickly and blindly into switching from meat to soybeans for their protein needs. It seems that the Chinese first began eating soybeans about 2,500 years ago, but after the discovered that fermentation neutralized the toxins in the beans that can make humans sick.

For instance, tofu, a soy concentrate used in foods, was once introduced to monasteries in China to promote sexual abstinence. The Chinese found that Phytoestrogens in soy lower testosterone levels. Researchers are finding that heavy consumption of unfermented soy can create a variety of other health issues in both humans and domestic animals. They include:

--Phytic acid in soy reduces assimilation of calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc. This can cause growth problems in children among other issues.

--Trypsin inhibitors in soy interfere with protein digestion and may cause pancreatic disorders. Tests with animals showed the inhibitors also resulted in stunted growth.

--The processing of soy as a food produces monosodium glutamate, a potent neurotoxin known to destroy brain cells.

--Soy reduces the body’s ability to absorb Vitamins B-12 and D.

--Soy phytoestrogens are antithyroid agents that cause hypothyroidism and may be a cause of thyroid cancer. They also disrupt endocrine function and may cause infertility and breast cancer in women.

--The processing of soy protein forms highly carcinogenic nitrosamines.

--Soy contains high levels of aluminum which is toxic to the nervous system and kidneys.

The bottom line to all of this is grim. If you suffer from low testosterone levels, low sperm count, low sex drive, menopausal symptoms, pancreatic disorder, Crohn’s disease, Celiac’s disease, gluten intolerance, thyroid or adrenal imbalance, endocrine system disorders, low energy, forgetfulness, lack of focus, depression or low levels of Vitamin B-12, your consumption of soy may be the culprit.

There are other food substitutes that produce protein for the committed vegetarians, but none have the promise once offered by soybeans. Returning to meat mass produced on big corporate American farms is a solution to personal protein needs, albeit a troublesome one.

American’s big business interests appear to have done a good job of making a mess out of the mass-produced foods we consume. We suggest that it may be time for the people to return to locally produced foods, grown on the old-time mom and pop-owned neighborhood farms.
(c) 2011 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles. He currently produces daily articles for this web site.

Why So Many Americans Hate Obama
Joel S. Hirschhorn

I can explain why so many Americans are angry about President Obama and dislike or hate him with passion, and why it has little to do with his actions and policies. But first I must examine the confluence of two historical inflection points that explains so much resentment and opposition to Obama.

The first is the increasingly recognized but painful reality that in almost all respects that matter to citizens the USA is no longer the great nation it once was. As a recent Time magazine issue proclaimed, especially a great essay by Fareed Zakaria, the US is in decline, similar to what happened to other once dominant nations. The Great Recession and the huge numbers of unemployed, underemployed, foreclosed, homeless, hungry and other pained citizens have drilled into the public consciousness that America is like a terminally ill cancer victim. There is little realistic hope for truly better times. For example, new research data show that upward mobility in the US is now worse than in a number of other industrialized countries, such as France. The American Dream, in other words, is dead. The game is lost.

Consider the incessant use of Obama's new phrase "winning the future." This time it is for his campaign to stay in office. In one rational sense it seems to recognize that current times are bad, but Obama has totally refused to acknowledge that the country he leads has already "lost the present." He is in a dangerous state of denial or, alternatively, cannot find the courage to be brutally honest to his citizens. To openly confront the truth about the present would provide the motivation and a needed sense of urgency to adopt policies and programs to turn the curve around. It would make the notion of winning the future against so much domestic corporate corruption and foreign competition a whole lot more challenging.

The thing to notice about President Obama when you look at him when he talks about national conditions and what needs to be done, or when he has to speak about national tragedies, is the lack of visible, genuine and strong human emotions. He seems always to be talking about things in an intellectual, professorial style. Analysis, rather than principles seem to shape his thinking.

Great leaders connect to their audiences by openly expressing deeply felt passionate emotions. They feel our pain through much more than mere words. You relate to them because they really seem to relate to you. Obama has what psychiatrists speak of as flat affect. When he campaigned for the presidency a New York Times writer referred to "is soft diction, flat affect and refusal to project anger." Sure he can give great speeches now and then, but ordinarily his style shows an existential dissociation from the painful realities he is talking about and addressing through presidential actions. While Obama personally won the future through timely smiles and clever words, he hardly ever connects to most people in a visceral way when it comes to the most painful situations.

The result of his personality and style is that there is little reason for Americans to feel confident that Obama can or will turn the nation around for the better.

Now consider the second inflection point. In the history of American presidents Obama defines a historic inflection point, namely when white Americans have lost their majority status to minorities, notably blacks and Hispanics. The first African-American president with a foreign name represents a remarkable departure from history, not just our line of presidents but something much larger for American society. He won the presidency because non-whites, not whites, voted so strongly for him.

Put the two historic inflection points together. The US has lost its greatness and at the same time American society has shifted from a white to a darker skin character.

Those Americans, who harbor so many strong negative feelings towards Obama in their own minds, either explicitly or implicitly, create causality between the two inflection points. In other words, the loss of national greatness is blamed on the loss of a white, Caucasian society. This is far different than ordinary racism. It runs deeper. This explanation also helps explain why so many of the people who reject Obama do not see themselves as racists. No, with my explanation it is better to see all the anger and hatred about Obama as connected to a patriotic, nationalistic frame of mind. Of course, Obama-hating people have put the blame on the wrong people. The single most powerful reason why the US has declined is its capture by a white-dominated corporate dictatorship and wealthy upper class.

Obama himself shoulders considerable responsibility for wrongly blaming non-white people. His intellectual detachment or existential dissociation from conditions that are greatly impacting so many Americans, especially whites who have lost a good middle class life or economic security, makes him seem alien, not a genuine part of American culture. This sustains all the nonsense about him not being an American citizen.

Obama does not connect in all the right and necessary ways to be a true and effective national leader, not like Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton did. The inevitable consequence of his shortcomings is that he pursues public policies that are wrongheaded and ineffective in delivering what the public wants, including deep reforms of the political and government system. He has not delivered the changes so many Americans were waiting for and that he once promised. How can he? He does not really connect to most suffering Americans that see their country already a loser in the new global reality at exactly the same time it has become a nation overrun by people of color. He does not openly and strongly attack the corporate dictatorship that hijacked the US economy and political system. So many Americans, not just those on the conservative right but also progressives on the left, see Obama as the president of elites, the wealthy, the powerful, not their own. Also, like Republicans, he can be seen as someone sacrificing the middle class and the American economy to globalization, foreign competitors, and the corporate powers benefiting from foreign activities.

When Obama speaks of winning the future he reminds Americans seeing themselves as victims that we have lost the present, something he refuses to acknowledge. His existential dissociation keeps him from being one of us. For being a great leader and president, being smart is not enough.
(c) 2011 Joel S. Hirschhorn observed our corrupt federal government firsthand as a senior official with the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the National Governors Association and is the author of Delusional Democracy - Fixing the Republic Without Overthrowing the Government. To discuss issues write the author. The author has a Ph.D. in Materials Engineering and was formerly a full professor of metallurgical engineering at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Shoe Drops, Boot Comes Out For Crowley
By Chris Floyd

This was so obviously predictable that I didn't bother to predict it, but now we have it: "PJ Crowley resigns over Bradley Manning remarks." Crowley, as you recall, was the official spokesman at the State Department who dared utter a fragment of the truth last week when he said that the Obama Administration's torture of Bradley Manning is "counterproductive and stupid."

To be sure, Crowley hastened to assure his audience -- an MIT seminar -- that he thought Manning belonged behind bars for throwing some light on the violent, witless and criminal grindings of the American war machine. But his remarks did drag the Obama Administration's torture regimen into the light of day. Even the sainted Nobel Peace Prize Laureate his own self was forced to address the issue when he was asked in a press conference about Crowley's statement. Obama then issued his now-notorious defense of his torture of Manning, say that he had checked with the people who were torturing Manning and they said that their torture of Manning was OK. And that, said the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, was good enough for him.

After this, it was obvious that Crowley's days were numbered -- or rather, his hours were numbered, for he scarcely lasted more than a day before the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate forced him from office for the high crime of causing the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate to face the momentary discomfort of having to publicly address his torture of an Amerian soldier.

To his credit, Crowley did not go quietly, saying that he stood by his criticism of Manning's treatment -- which includes forced, public nakedness -- and adding that his MIT remarks "were intended to highlight the broader, even strategic impact of discreet actions undertaken by national security agencies every day and their impact on our global standing and leadership."

Of course, one should not now turn Crowley into some kind of moral exemplar. For the fact remains that he has faithfully and willingly served the Obama Administration as it has perpetrated a series of war crimes, eviscerations of constitutional liberties and abuses of human rights at home and around the world -- while protecting its predecessor from the slightest hint of investigation or prosecution for doing the same.

Crowley was proud to serve in an administration that is brazenly carrying out an illegal war of "extrajudicial killing" in the non-belligerent state of Pakistan -- a brutal blunderbuss of a campaign that has killed hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent civilians.

Crowley was proud to serve a president who sent his own national security honcho to Congress to affirm, under oath, that the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate has the power -- and the right -- to kill any human being on earth, at home or abroad, if he arbitrarily declares that his target is a "terrorist threat."

Crowley was proud to serve as a top spokesman for a government which has now far outstripped all of its predecessors as a money-grubbing merchant of death to some of the most odious regimes on the planet.

None of this prompted any resignation, or outcry, or pointed remarks to MIT seminars from Crowley. It was only when the torture of a white American soldier became so blatant that it could no longer be ignored that Crowley felt outraged enough to speak out. Manning's case is indeed outrageous, but as wise man Arthur Silber noted recently, "the horrifying case of Bradley Manning is an especially high profile one, but he is hardly the only victim of even this particular form of the U.S. government's monstrousness." Crowley was happy to ignore all the other victims while facilitating the monstrousness of American foreign policy by serving as its official spokesman.

Still, any little sliver of light that gets through the slagheap of lies that power heaps on our heads day after day, hour after hours, is welcome. And if the minor controversy over Crowley's resignation (which the NY Times and Washington Post buried deep in blog posts -- although people in the UK were allowed to read it on the front page of the Guardian site) results even in some minor mitigation of Manning's conditions, that will be all to the good.
(c) 2011 Chris Floyd

Texas plants planned by Tokyo Electric. Image:NINA

Tokyo Electric To Build US Nuclear Plants
The no-BS info on Japan's disastrous nuclear operators
By Greg Palast

I need to speak to you, not as a reporter, but in my former capacity as lead investigator in several government nuclear plant fraud and racketeering investigations.

I don't know the law in Japan, so I can't tell you if Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) can plead insanity to the homicides about to happen.

But what will Obama plead? The Administration, just months ago, asked Congress to provide a $4 billion loan guarantee for two new nuclear reactors to be built and operated on the Gulf Coast of Texas — by Tokyo Electric Power and local partners. As if the Gulf hasn't suffered enough.

Here are the facts about Tokyo Electric and the industry you haven't heard on CNN:

The failure of emergency systems at Japan's nuclear plants comes as no surprise to those of us who have worked in the field.

Nuclear plants the world over must be certified for what is called "SQ" or "Seismic Qualification." That is, the owners swear that all components are designed for the maximum conceivable shaking event, be it from an earthquake or an exploding Christmas card from Al Qaeda.

The most inexpensive way to meet your SQ is to lie. The industry does it all the time. The government team I worked with caught them once, in 1988, at the Shoreham plant in New York. Correcting the SQ problem at Shoreham would have cost a cool billion, so engineers were told to change the tests from 'failed' to 'passed.'

The company that put in the false safety report? Stone & Webster, now the nuclear unit of Shaw Construction which will work with Tokyo Electric to build the Texas plant, Lord help us.

There's more.

Last night I heard CNN reporters repeat the official line that the tsunami disabled the pumps needed to cool the reactors, implying that water unexpectedly got into the diesel generators that run the pumps.

These safety back-up systems are the 'EDGs' in nuke-speak: Emergency Diesel Generators. That they didn't work in an emergency is like a fire department telling us they couldn't save a building because "it was on fire."

What dim bulbs designed this system? One of the reactors dancing with death at Fukushima Station 1 was built by Toshiba. Toshiba was also an architect of the emergency diesel system.

Now be afraid.

Obama's $4 billion bail-out-in-the-making is called the South Texas Project. It's been sold as a red-white-and-blue way to make power domestically with a reactor from Westinghouse, a great American brand. However, the reactor will be made substantially in Japan by the company that bought the US brand name, Westinghouse — Toshiba.

I once had a Toshiba computer. I only had to send it in once for warranty work. However, it's kind of hard to mail back a reactor with the warranty slip inside the box if the fuel rods are melted and sinking halfway to the earth's core.

TEPCO and Toshiba don't know what my son learned in 8th grade science class: tsunamis follow Pacific Rim earthquakes. So these companies are real stupid, eh? Maybe. More likely is that the diesels and related systems wouldn't have worked on a fine, dry afternoon.

Back in the day, when we checked the emergency back-up diesels in America, a mind-blowing number flunked. At the New York nuke, for example, the builders swore under oath that their three diesel engines were ready for an emergency. They'd been tested. The tests were faked, the diesels run for just a short time at low speed. When the diesels were put through a real test under emergency-like conditions, the crankshaft on the first one snapped in about an hour, then the second and third. We nicknamed the diesels, "Snap, Crackle and Pop."

(Note: Moments after I wrote that sentence, word came that two of three diesels failed at the Tokai Station as well.)

In the US, we supposedly fixed our diesels after much complaining by the industry. But in Japan, no one tells Tokyo Electric to do anything the Emperor of Electricity doesn't want to do.

I get lots of confidential notes from nuclear industry insiders. One engineer, a big name in the field, is especially concerned that Obama waved the come-hither check to Toshiba and Tokyo Electric to lure them to America. The US has a long history of whistleblowers willing to put themselves on the line to save the public. In our racketeering case in New York, the government only found out about the seismic test fraud because two courageous engineers, Gordon Dick and John Daly, gave our team the documentary evidence. In Japan, it's simply not done. The culture does not allow the salary-men, who work all their their lives for one company, to drop the dime.

Not that US law is a wondrous shield: both engineers in the New York case were fired and blacklisted by the industry. Nevertheless, the government (local, state, federal) brought civil racketeering charges against the builders. The jury didn't buy the corporation's excuses and, in the end, the plant was, thankfully, dismantled.

Am I on some kind of xenophobic anti-Nippon crusade? No. In fact, I'm far more frightened by the American operators in the South Texas nuclear project, especially Shaw. Stone & Webster, now the Shaw nuclear division, was also the firm that conspired to fake the EDG tests in New York. (The company's other exploits have been exposed by their former consultant, John Perkins, in his book, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.)

If the planet wants to shiver, consider this: Toshiba and Shaw have recently signed a deal to become world-wide partners in the construction of nuclear stations.

The other characters involved at the South Texas Plant that Obama is backing should also give you the willies. But as I'm in the middle of investigating the American partners, I'll save that for another day.

So, if we turned to America's own nuclear contractors, would we be safe? Well, two of the melting Japanese reactors, including the one whose building blew sky high, were built by General Electric of the Good Old US of A.

After Texas, you're next. The Obama Administration is planning a total of $56 billion in loans for nuclear reactors all over America.

And now, the homicides:

CNN is only interested in body counts, how many workers burnt by radiation, swept away or lost in the explosion. These plants are now releasing radioactive steam into the atmosphere. Be skeptical about the statements that the "levels are not dangerous." These are the same people who said these meltdowns could never happen. Over years, not days, there may be a thousand people, two thousand, ten thousand who will suffer from cancers induced by this radiation.

In my New York investigation, I had the unhappy job of totaling up post-meltdown "morbidity" rates for the county government. It would be irresponsible for me to estimate the number of cancer deaths that will occur from these releases without further information; but it is just plain criminal for the Tokyo Electric shoguns to say that these releases are not dangerous. Indeed, the fact that residents near the Japanese nuclear plants were not issued iodine pills to keep at the ready shows TEPCO doesn't care who lives and who dies whether in Japan or the USA. The carcinogenic isotopes that are released at Fukushima are already floating to Seattle with effects we simply cannot measure.

Heaven help us. Because Obama won't.
(c) 2011 Greg Palast is author of the New York Times bestseller, "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy." His investigations for BBC TV and Democracy Now! can be seen by subscribing to Palast's reports at.

Another Inside Job
By Paul Krugman

Count me among those who were glad to see the documentary “Inside Job” win an Oscar. The film reminded us that the financial crisis of 2008, whose aftereffects are still blighting the lives of millions of Americans, didn’t just happen — it was made possible by bad behavior on the part of bankers, regulators and, yes, economists.

What the film didn’t point out, however, is that the crisis has spawned a whole new set of abuses, many of them illegal as well as immoral. And leading political figures are, at long last, showing some outrage. Unfortunately, this outrage is directed, not at banking abuses, but at those trying to hold banks accountable for these abuses. The immediate flashpoint is a proposed settlement between state attorneys general and the mortgage servicing industry. That settlement is a “shakedown,” says Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama. The money banks would be required to allot to mortgage modification would be “extorted,” declares The Wall Street Journal. And the bankers themselves warn that any action against them would place economic recovery at risk.

All of which goes to confirm that the rich are different from you and me: when they break the law, it’s the prosecutors who find themselves on trial.

To get an idea of what we’re talking about here, look at the complaint filed by Nevada’s attorney general against Bank of America. The complaint charges the bank with luring families into its loan-modification program — supposedly to help them keep their homes — under false pretenses; with giving false information about the program’s requirements (for example, telling them that they had to default on their mortgages before receiving a modification); with stringing families along with promises of action, then “sending foreclosure notices, scheduling auction dates, and even selling consumers’ homes while they waited for decisions;" and, in general, with exploiting the program to enrich itself at those families’ expense.

The end result, the complaint charges, was that “many Nevada consumers continued to make mortgage payments they could not afford, running through their savings, their retirement funds, or their children’s education funds. Additionally, due to Bank of America’s misleading assurances, consumers deferred short-sales and passed on other attempts to mitigate their losses. And they waited anxiously, month after month, calling Bank of America and submitting their paperwork again and again, not knowing whether or when they would lose their homes.”

Still, things like this only happen to losers who can’t keep up their mortgage payments, right? Wrong. Recently Dana Milbank, the Washington Post columnist, wrote about his own experience: a routine mortgage refinance with Citibank somehow turned into a nightmare of misquoted rates, improper interest charges, and frozen bank accounts. And all the evidence suggests that Mr. Milbank’s experience wasn’t unusual.

Notice, by the way, that we’re not talking about the business practices of fly-by-night operators; we’re talking about two of our three largest financial companies, with roughly $2 trillion each in assets. Yet politicians would have you believe that any attempt to get these abusive banking giants to make modest restitution is a “shakedown.” The only real question is whether the proposed settlement lets them off far too lightly.

What about the argument that placing any demand on the banks would endanger the recovery? There’s a lot to be said about that argument, none of it good. But let me emphasize two points.

First, the proposed settlement only calls for loan modifications that would produce a greater “net present value” than foreclosure — that is, for offering deals that are in the interest of both homeowners and investors. The outrageous truth is that in many cases banks are blocking such mutually beneficial deals, so that they can continue to extract fees. How could ending this highway robbery be bad for the economy?

Second, the biggest obstacle to recovery isn’t the financial condition of major banks, which were bailed out once and are now profiting from the widespread perception that they’ll be bailed out again if anything goes wrong. It is, instead, the overhang of household debt combined with paralysis in the housing market. Getting banks to clear up mortgage debts — instead of stringing families along to extract a few more dollars — would help, not hurt, the economy.

In the days and weeks ahead, we’ll see pro-banker politicians denounce the proposed settlement, asserting that it’s all about defending the rule of law. But what they’re actually defending is the exact opposite — a system in which only the little people have to obey the law, while the rich, and bankers especially, can cheat and defraud without consequences.
(c) 2011 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

"Today, America would be outraged if U.N. troops entered Los Angeles to restore order [referring to the 1991 LA Riot]. Tomorrow they will be grateful! This is especially true if they were told that there were an outside threat from beyond [i.e., an "extraterrestrial" invasion], whether real or promulgated, that threatened our very existence. It is then that all peoples of the world will plead to deliver them from this evil. The one thing every man fears is the unknown. When presented with this scenario, individual rights will be willingly relinquished for the guarantee of their well-being granted to them by the World Government."
~~~ Dr. Henry Kissinger, Bilderberger Conference, Evians, France, 1991 ~~~

Power Concedes Nothing Without A Demand
By Chris Hedges

The liberal class is discovering what happens when you tolerate the intolerant. Let hate speech pollute the airways. Let corporations buy up your courts and state and federal legislative bodies. Let the Christian religion be manipulated by charlatans to demonize Muslims, gays and intellectuals, discredit science and become a source of personal enrichment. Let unions wither under corporate assault. Let social services and public education be stripped of funding. Let Wall Street loot the national treasury with impunity. Let sleazy con artists use lies and deception to carry out unethical sting operations on tottering liberal institutions, and you roll out the welcome mat for fascism.

The liberal class has busied itself with the toothless pursuits of inclusiveness, multiculturalism, identity politics and tolerance—a word Martin Luther King never used—and forgotten about justice. It naively sought to placate ideological and corporate forces bent on the destruction of the democratic state. The liberal class, like the misguided democrats in the former Yugoslavia or the hapless aristocrats in the Weimar Republic, invited the wolf into the henhouse. The liberal class forgot that, as Karl Popper wrote in “The Open Society and Its Enemies,” “If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.”

Workers in this country paid for their rights by suffering brutal beatings, mass expulsions from company housing and jobs, crippling strikes, targeted assassinations of union leaders and armed battles with hired gun thugs and state militias. The Rockefellers, the Mellons, the Carnegies and the Morgans—the Koch Brothers Industries, Goldman Sachs and Wal-Mart of their day—never gave a damn about workers. All they cared about was profit. The eight-hour workday, the minimum wage, Social Security, pensions, job safety, paid vacations, retirement benefits and health insurance were achieved because hundreds of thousands of workers physically fought a system of capitalist exploitation. They rallied around radicals such as “Mother” Jones, United Mine Workers’ President John L. Lewis and “Big” Bill Haywood and his Wobblies as well as the socialist presidential candidate Eugene V. Debs.

Lewis said, “I have pleaded your case from the pulpit and from the public platform—not in the quavering tones of a feeble mendicant asking alms, but in the thundering voice of the captain of a mighty host, demanding the rights to which free men are entitled.”

Those who fought to achieve these rights endured tremendous suffering, pain and deprivation. It is they who made possible our middle class and opened up our democracy. The elite hired goons and criminal militias to evict striking miners from company houses, infiltrate fledgling union organizations and murder suspected union leaders and sympathizers. Federal marshals, state militias, sheriff’s deputies and at times Army troops, along with the courts and legislative bodies, were repeatedly used to crush and stymie worker revolts. Striking sugar cane workers were gunned down in Thibodaux, La., in 1887. Steel workers were shot to death in 1892 in Homestead, Pa. Railroad workers in the Pullman strike of 1894 were murdered. Coal miners at Ludlow, Colo., in 1914 and at Matewan, W.Va., in 1920 were massacred. Our freedoms and rights were paid for with their courage and blood.

American democracy arose because those consciously locked out of the system put their bodies on the line and demanded justice. The exclusion of the poor and the working class from the systems of power in this country was deliberate. The Founding Fathers deeply feared popular democracy. They rigged the system to favor the elite from the start, something that has been largely whitewashed in public schools and by a corporate media that has effectively substituted myth for history. Europe’s poor, fleeing to America from squalid slums and workhouses in the 17th and 18th centuries, were viewed by the privileged as commodities to exploit. Slaves, Native Americans, indentured servants, women, and men without property were not represented at the Constitutional Conventions. And American history, as Howard Zinn illustrated in “The People’s History of the United States,” is one long fight by the marginalized and disenfranchised for dignity and freedom. Those who fought understood the innate cruelty of capitalism.

“When you sell your product, you retain your person,” said a tract published in the 1880s during the Lowell, Mass., mill strikes. “But when you sell your labour, you sell yourself, losing the rights of free men and becoming vassals of mammoth establishments of a monied aristocracy that threatens annihilation to anyone who questions their right to enslave and oppress. Those who work in the mills ought to own them, not have the status of machines ruled by private despots who are entrenching monarchic principles on democratic soil as they drive downwards freedom and rights, civilization, health, morals and intellectuality in the new commercial feudalism.”

As Noam Chomsky points out, the sentiment expressed by the Lowell millworkers predated Marxism.

“At one time in the U.S. in the mid-nineteenth century, a hundred and fifty years ago, working for wage labor was considered not very different from chattel slavery,” Chomsky told David Barsamian. “That was not an unusual position. That was the slogan of the Republican Party, the banner under which Northern workers went to fight in the Civil War. We’re against chattel slavery and wage slavery. Free people do not rent themselves to others. Maybe you’re forced to do it temporarily, but that’s only on the way to becoming a free person, a free man, to put it in the rhetoric of the day. You become a free man when you’re not compelled to take orders from others. That’s an Enlightenment ideal. Incidentally, this was not coming from European radicalism. There were workers in Lowell, Mass., a couple of miles from where we are. You could even read editorials in the New York Times saying this around that time. It took a long time to drive into people’s heads the idea that it is legitimate to rent yourself. Now that’s unfortunately pretty much accepted. So that’s internalizing oppression. Anyone who thinks it’s legitimate to be a wage laborer is internalizing oppression in a way which would have seemed intolerable to people in the mills, let’s say, a hundred and fifty years ago. … [I]t’s an [unfortunate] achievement [of indoctrination in our culture].”

Our consumer society and celebrity culture foster a frightening historical amnesia. We chatter mindlessly about something called the “American Dream.” And now that the oligarchic elite have regained control of all levers of power, and that dream is being exposed as a cruel hoax, we are being shoved back into the cage. There will be hell to pay to get back to where we were.

Slick public relations campaigns, the collapse of public education—nearly a third of the country is illiterate or semiliterate—and the rise of amoral politicians such as Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, who posed as liberals while they sold their souls for corporate money, have left us largely defenseless. The last vestiges of unionized workers in the public sector are reduced to protesting in Wisconsin for collective bargaining—in short, the ability to ask employers for decent working conditions. That shows how far the country has deteriorated. And it looks as though even this basic right to ask, as well as raise money through union dues, has been successfully revoked in Madison. The only hope now is more concerted and militant disruptions of the systems of power.

The public debate, dominated by corporate-controlled systems of information, ignores the steady impoverishment of the working class and absence of legal and regulatory mechanisms to prevent mounting corporate fraud and abuse. The airwaves are saturated with corporate apologists. They ask us why public-sector employees have benefits—sneeringly called “entitlements”—which nonunionized working- and middle-class people are denied. This argument is ingenious. It pits worker against worker in a mad scramble for scraps. And until we again speak in the language of open class warfare, grasping, as those who went before us did, that the rich will always protect themselves at our expense, we are doomed to a 21st century serfdom.

The pillars of the liberal establishment, which once made incremental and piecemeal reform possible, have collapsed. The liberal church forgot that heretics exist. It forgot that the scum of society—look at the new Newt Gingrich—always wrap themselves in the flag and clutch the Christian cross to promote programs that mock the core teachings of Jesus Christ. And, for all their years of seminary training and Bible study, these liberal clergy have stood by mutely as televangelists betrayed and exploited the Gospel to promote bigotry, hatred and greed. What was the point, I wonder, of ordination? Did they think the radical message of the Gospel was something they would never have to fight for? Schools and universities, on their knees for corporate dollars and their boards dominated by hedge fund and investment managers, have deformed education into the acquisition of narrow vocational skills that serve specialized corporate interests and create classes of drone-like systems managers. They make little attempt to equip students to make moral choices, stand up for civic virtues and seek a life of meaning. These moral and ethical questions are never even asked. Humanities departments are vanishing as swiftly as the ocean’s fish stocks.

The electronic and much of the print press has become a shameless mouthpiece for the powerful and a magnet for corporate advertising. It makes little effort to give a platform to those who without them cannot be heard, instead diverting us with celebrity meltdowns, lavish lifestyle reports and gossip. Legitimate news organizations, such as NPR and The New York Times, are left cringing and apologizing before the beast—right-wing groups that hate “liberal” news organizations not because of any bias, but because they center public discussion on verifiable fact. And verifiable fact is not convenient to ideologues whose goal is the harnessing of inchoate rage and hatred.

Artists, who once had something to say, have retreated into elite enclaves, preoccupied themselves with abstract, self-referential garbage, frivolous entertainment and spectacle. Celebrities, working for advertising agencies and publicists, provide our daily mini-dramas and flood the airwaves with lies on behalf of corporate sponsors. The Democratic Party has sold out working men and women for corporate money. It has permitted the state apparatus to be turned over to corporate interests. There is no liberal institution left—the press, labor, culture, public education, the church or the Democratic Party—that makes any effort to hold back the corporate juggernaut. It is up to us.

We have tolerated the intolerant—from propaganda outlets such as Fox News to Christian fascists to lunatics in the Republican Party to Wall Street and corporations—and we are paying the price. The only place left for us is on the street. We must occupy state and federal offices. We must foment general strikes. The powerful, with no check left on their greed and criminality, are gorging on money while they busily foreclose our homes, bust the last of our unions, drive up our health care costs and cement into place a permanent underclass of the broken and the poor. They are slashing our most essential and basic services—including budgets for schools, firefighters and assistance programs for children and the elderly—so we can pay for the fraud they committed when they wiped out $14 trillion of housing wealth, wages and retirement savings. All we have left is the capacity to say “no.” And if enough of us say “no,” if enough of us refuse to cooperate, the despots are in trouble.

“Let me give you a word of the philosophy of reforms,” Frederick Douglass said in 1857. “The whole history of the progress of human history shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of struggle. ... If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightening. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. ...”
(c) 2011 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. He is the author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. His latest book is, "“Death Of The Liberal Class.”

No Nukes Is Good Nukes
By Robert Scheer

When it comes to the safety of nuclear power plants, I am biased. And I’ll bet that if President Barack Obama had been with me on that trip to Chernobyl 24 years ago he wouldn’t be as sanguine about the future of nuclear power as he was Tuesday in an interview with a Pittsburgh television station: “Obviously, all energy sources have their downside. I mean, we saw that with the Gulf spill last summer.”

Sorry, Mr. President, but there is a dimension of fear properly associated with the word nuclear that is not matched by any oil spill.

Even 11 months after what has become known simply as “Chernobyl” I sensed a terror of the darkest unknown as I donned the requisite protective gear and checked Geiger counter readings before entering the surviving turbine room adjoining plant No. 4, where the explosion had occurred.

It was a terror reinforced by the uncertainty of the scientists who accompanied me as to the ultimate consequences for the health of the region’s population, even after 135,000 people had been evacuated. As I wrote at the time, “particularly disturbing was the sight of a collective farm complete with all the requirements of living: white farm houses with blue trim, tractors and other farm implements, clothing hanging on a line and some children’s playthings. All the requirements except people.”

Back then, working for the Los Angeles Times, I had been covering the nuclear arms race, and my invitation to be the first American newspaper reporter to visit Chernobyl came from one of Mikhail Gorbachev’s top science advisers, Yevgeny P. Velikhov, whom I had interviewed on arms control issues.

Velikhov had led the effort to contain the damage at Chernobyl, risking his health in the immediate days after the incident by flying low over the contaminated reactor site in a helicopter, as well as by scaling the sidewall of the damaged reactor to more accurately evaluate the situation.

His point in arranging my visit was to demonstrate the terrifying consequence of a “peaceful” nuclear explosion, let alone one resulting from a weapon designed to inflict mass destruction. It was an argument he advanced with the military in his own country about the folly of nuclear war-fighting scenarios: “After two weeks of discussion with the army corps, I asked how you wish to survive a nuclear war if you have no possibility to clean this small piece of nuclear garbage.”

This was a sentiment echoed by Harvard physicist Richard Wilson, who also made that Chernobyl trip, and who pointed out that with nuclear weapons “one is dealing with a technology designed to explode that is also under the control of human beings.”

An important lesson that should be reinforced by the ongoing disaster in Japan is to worry more about the elimination of those nuclear weapons designed to explode, and another is to be concerned about the prospect of sabotage of nuclear power plants. This last is a reason to rely less on nuclear power in a world made volatile not only by natural disasters but through the concerted efforts of those who can fly airplanes into targets of their choice. At the very least, the expense of properly maintaining the internal safety and external security of power plants should be considered in any cost-benefit analysis of their usefulness as an alternative source of energy.

I know there will be an attempt to sell us the argument that the odds of a catastrophic earthquake and a catastrophic tsunami occurring together in an area containing a nuclear power facility are incredibly low, that the Japanese plants in question were of inadequate design and, as in the case of Chernobyl, that “human error” was at fault. Despite the earlier accident at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania, there was a strong tendency to present the Chernobyl disaster as a warning sign not about nuclear power in general but rather the particular failures of a rotting Soviet economy.

After the Japanese experience, such cavalier dismissal of the intrinsic problems of nuclear power is no longer plausible. Recall that it was Obama himself who in October 2009 celebrated Japan as the model for nuclear power expansion: “There is no reason why, technologically, we can’t employ nuclear energy in a safe and effective way. Japan does it and France does it, and it doesn’t have greenhouse gas emissions. …”

As journalist Kate Sheppard points out in Mother Jones online: “Nuclear power is part of the `clean energy standard’ that Obama outlined in the State of the Union speech in January. And in the 2011 budget the administration called for a three-fold increase in federal loan guarantees for new nuclear power plants, from the $18.5 billion that Congress has already approved to $54.5 billion. `We are aggressively pursuing nuclear energy,’ said Energy Secretary Steven Chu in February 2010 as he unveiled the budget. … In Monday’s White House press briefing, press secretary Jay Carney said that nuclear energy `remains a part of the president’s overall energy plan.’ ”

Trust me, this is not the way we want to go.
(c) 2011 Robert Scheer is the editor of Truthdig. A journalist with over 30 years experience, Scheer has built his reputation on the strength of his social and political writing. His columns have appeared in newspapers across the country, and his in-depth interviews have made headlines. He is the author, most recently, of "The Pornography of Power: How Defense Hawks Hijacked 9/11 and Weakened America," published by Twelve Books.

The Dead Letter Office...

Pete gives the corpo-rat slaute!

Heil Obama,

Dear Unter Fuhrer King,

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, Vidkun Quisling and last year's winner Volksjudge Elena (Butch) Kagan.

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, your insisting on investigating just Muslim terrorism in the US, even though there have been 22 Congressional investigations in the last 5 years but not a single hearing on White terrorisms, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Rethuglican Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Iron Cross 1st class with diamond clusters, presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 04-01-2011. We salute you Herr King, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

Our Right-Leaning Public Media
by Ralph Nader

The tumultuous managerial shakeup at National Public Radio headquarters for trivial verbal miscues once again has highlighted the ludicrous corporatist right-wing charge that public radio and public TV are replete with left-leaning or leftist programming.

Ludicrous, that is, unless this criticism’s yardstick is the propaganda regularly exuded by the extreme right-wing Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. These “capitalists” use the public’s airwaves free-of-charge to make big money.

The truth is that the frightened executives at public TV and radio have long been more hospitable to interviews with right of center or extreme right-wing and corporatist talking heads than liberal or progressive guests.

PBS’s Charlie Rose has had war-loving William Kristol on thirty one times, Henry Kissinger fifty five times, Richard Perle ten times, the global corporatist cheerleader, Tom Friedman seventy times. Compare that guest list with Rose’s interviews of widely published left of center guests—Noam Chomsky two times, William Grieder two times, Jim Hightower two times, Charlie Peters two times, Lewis Lapham three times, Bob Herbert six times, Paul Krugman twenty one times, Victor Navasky one time, Mark Green five times and Sy Hersh, once a frequent guest, has not been on since January 2005.

Dr. Sidney Wolfe, the widely-quoted super-accurate drug industry critic, who is often featured on the commercial TV network shows, has never been on Rose’s show. Nor has the long-time head of Citizens for Tax Justice and widely respected progressive tax analyst, Robert McIntyre.

Far more corporate executives, not known for their leftist inclinations, appear on Rose’s show than do leaders of environmental, consumer, labor and poverty organizations.

In case you are wondering, I’ve appeared four times, but not since August 2005, and not once on the hostile Terri Gross radio show.

The unabashed progressive Bill Moyer’s Show is off the air and has not been replaced. No one can charge PBS’s News Hour with Jim Lehrer with anything other than very straightforward news delivery, bland opinion exchanges and a troubling inclination to avoid much reporting that upsets the power structures in Congress, the White House, the Pentagon or Wall Street.

The longest running show on PBS was hard-line conservative William F. Buckley’s show—Firing Line—which came on the air in 1966 and ended in 1999.

Sponsorship by large corporations, such as Coca Cola and AT&T, have abounded—a largesse not likely to be continued year after year for a leftist media organization.

None of this deters the Far Right that presently got a majority in the House of Representatives to defund the $422 million annual appropriation to the umbrella entity—Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). About 15% of all revenues for all public broadcasting stations comes from this Congressional contribution.

Though he admits to liking National Public Radio, conservative columnist David Harsanyi, believes there is no "practical argument” left “in the defense of federal funding…in an era of nearly unlimited choices….”

Really? Do commercial radio stations give you much news between the Niagara of advertisements and music? Even the frenetic news, sports, traffic and weather flashes, garnished by ads, are either redundant or made up of soundbytes (apart from the merely 2 minutes of CBS radio news every half-hour). If you want serious news, features and interviews on the radio, you go to public radio or the few community and Pacifica radio stations.

Harsanyi continues: “Something, though, seems awfully wrong with continuing to force taxpayers who disagree with the mission—even if their perceptions are false—to keep giving….”

Public radio’s popular Morning Edition and All Things Considered are the most listened to radio shows after Rush Limbaugh’s, and any taxpayer can turn them off. Compare the relatively small public radio and TV budget allocations with the tens of billions of dollars each year—not counting the Wall Street bailout—in compelling taxpayers to subsidize, through hundreds of programs, greedy, mismanaged, corrupt or polluting corporations either directly in handouts, giveaways and guarantees or indirectly in tax escapes, bloated contracts and grants. Can the taxpayer turn them off?

Here is a solution that will avoid any need for Congressional contributions to CPB. The people own the public airwaves. They are the landlords. The commercial radio and TV stations are the tenants that pay nothing for their 24 hour use of this public property. You pay more for your auto license than the largest television station in New York pays the Federal Communications Commission for its broadcasting license—which is nothing. It has been that way since the 1927 and 1934 communication laws.

Why not charge these profitable businesses rent for use of the public airwaves and direct some of the ample proceeds to nonprofit public radio and public TV as well as an assortment of audience controlled TV and radio channels that could broadcast what is going on in our country locally, regionally, nationally and internationally? (See: Ralph Nader & Claire Riley, Oh, Say Can You See: A Broadcast Network for the Audience, 5 J.L. & POL. 1, [1988])

Now that would be a worthy program for public broadcasting. Get Limbaugh’s and Hannity’s companies off welfare. Want to guess what their listeners think about corporate welfare?
(c) 2011 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.

From Celebrities To Tsunamis
If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about the answers
By Phil Rockstroh

Even before the floodwaters of the tsunami that inundated western Japan receded (and a threat of a global-wide disaster, engendered by the core breach of multiple nuclear reactors, loomed) in the US, Godzilla jokes began trending on Twitter.

A number of years back, Pauline Kael took Steven Spielberg to task for his depiction of rural Georgia circa 1909 in his movie, The Color Purple...averring that Spielberg's only field of reference seemed to be images culled from cinematic history, rendering his movie tone deaf regarding the rhythms and cadences of life during the era.

On a cultural level, a great many people in the US evince a similar, media-wrought shallowness of apprehension, and therefore are prone to a contemptible callowness, when faced with tragedy and human suffering. This trait, coupled with a toxic ignorance about the larger world, is an ugly thing to behold, and does not bode well for our collective destiny as a people.

What are the origins of these less than admirable characteristics? On a cultural and political level, due to the constant saturation and an attendant internalization of "free market" platitudes, sans a counter narrative of compassion and social awareness, many in the US experience acute cognitive dissonance when confronted by the demonstrable fact that the nation's much heralded tales of equal opportunity and class mobility are little more than the self-serving propaganda of a privileged few.

National character traits, such as these, display an always present, ever-vigilant, defiant ignorance -- a pride-ridden predilection best summed up, albeit inadvertently, by that stumble-mouth poet of the American spirit, George H. W. Bush. During a press conference in August of 1988, when he was asked a question regarding the recent downing of an Iranian passenger jet, killing 290 civilians onboard, by the US warship, USS Vincennes, Bush the Elder bandied, "I won't apologize for the United States. I don't care what the facts are."

A more subtle and compelling intelligence assessed the origin of such utterances with this: "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe." ~~~ Albert Einstein.

An additional aspect of this national obtuseness stems from a collective squeamishness, a revulsion and resultant denial, regarding the truth of the exponential rate of decay of US Empire. Of which, the knowledge is avoided for the same reason one avoids taking a stick and turning over days dead roadkill. Because it would be a mortifying sight to glimpse what is eating, from within, the putrefying remains of the carcass known as the US political system.

Apropos, for many of the progressive minded who went round-heeled for the shimmering promise of hope and change, pledged by Barack Obama, the fact of his betrayal is very painful and depressing to face. Exacerbating the situation is the mendacity and flat-out lunacy of his right wing adversaries -- including those spittle spraying prone legions of racist sub-cretins, out in the US spleenland, who refuse to accept Obama's legitimacy, as president, due to the problem they have accepting the darker shade of his skin pigment.

In this context, the siege mentality of Democratic partisans is understandable…but only to a degree. Ergo, recently, it has been revealed that the Obama administration's new Gitmo policy has a great deal of resemblance to the Bush administration's old Gitmo policy. So it seems, at last, we have found who has been concealed within that empty suit known as Barack Obama. Damn, if it isn't, George W. Bush. We should have taken Bush at his word -- never misunderestimate Dubya.

The bailout of Wall Street and the corporatist coup of the kleptocratic class in Madison, Wisconsin and the Obama administration's continuation of US foreign policy (i.e., the same, blood-soaked stupid empire tricks) as that of his predecessors, should serve as an object lesson and wakeup call to Democratic Party-promoting progressive types regarding whose interests the two parties of duopoly represent.

Moreover, the US public has been willfully ignorant, habitually self-centered, and so easily manipulated by the PR specialists of the corporate controlled state, for so long, they don't even know what a democratic republic is -- much less that they lost one.

With wages stagnant for more than thirty years now, it is maddening to hear economically besieged, debt-beholden members of the US middle and laboring classes, who, because they have had their heads up their corporate master's privileged rear ends for so long now, continue to convince themselves they're viewing the glens, glades and fruited bowers of a free market paradise.

The hand of the rightwing intellectual berserker cult of the Chicago School of Economics can be seen in this. At present, we're witnessing the entire repertoire of the neo-con clown school of misdirection and mendacity. What is unfolding is straight out of the Leo Strauss playbook for the intellectually bankrupt: First, employ a Reagan/Bush/Walker/ type manqué, and have these ambulatory Pez Dispensers shower the public at large with candied covered "noble lies" i.e., promulgating faux populist sound bites serving to conceal the machinations of a corrupt elite, thereby ensuring the retention and expansion of elitist power.

The fairness-phobic and freedom-defying tendencies of these sorts of toxic alliances are woven into the very DNA of contemporary conservatism and have left their adherents devoid of a compass of common sense and civic responsibility.

Again and again, I'm astonished to witness the manner that US citizens mistake this smoke and mirrors casuistry for a political mandate. Over the last three decades, anyone (who has been even nominally conscious) can see how destructive to the health and well-being of the general population of the nation, conservative, "market-driven" economic dominance has been. And how the cynical manipulation of factions within the Republican base, comprised of Christ fantasists and states' rights fetishists, by the neo-con and corporate wing of the so-called "conservative movement," have weaken both the civil libertarian contract of government and its social safety net obligations to its citizenry almost to the breaking point.

The Koch Brothers and their quisling, Governor Walker, are an object lesson in this personal pathology being played out as public tragedy.

The Koch Brothers were born into a family of oil-rich multi-millionaires. They have never known anything but wealth beyond any reasonable measure. Yet it is never enough. The brothers seem akin in character to a spoiled malicious brat whose greed for gifts can never be sated, a nightmare child, who not only breaks the expensive toys he demands and receives, but breaks the toys of other children, simply because they're not his.

In deranged opposition to both common sense and common decency, the actual children of the US, those who were careless enough to be born into poverty, will just have to suck it up -- and give up their school lunch programs so that the billionaires of the plundering class can continue to receive tax write-offs.

That's right, good people of the US, it is high time we nipped this problem in the bud: Those damn spoiled brats have just gotten too damn fond of eating. Fortunately, the roar of the engines of fleets of private Gulfstream jets will drone out the rumblings of those entitlement-maddened little monsters bellies.

What is equally disheartening is the public at large has internalized the narrative of the dissemblers of the ruling elite, to such a great degree, that: Even before being defeated by legislative weasel maneuvers in Wisconsin, union members were willing to give up their benefits; they only agitated to keep "the right" to go to the table and ask for their master's scraps.

This is a "rock bottom" situation. Liberals working within the system are like drunks who need to be told, just go out there and do some 'controlled drinking." Perhaps when the situation grows painful enough, then we'll talk about the problem.

"Discontent is the first step in the progress of a man or a nation" ~~~ Oscar Wilde

Short of a mass awakening on the part of the US public (one can have ones little fantasies, right?) and an attendant Islamic world style uprising against the soft totalitarian structure of oligarchic rule in the US, the consolidation of power by the plundering class will continue unabated.

A couple of circumstances have to be present for freedom to flourish and economic exploitation to be mitigated: (1) Have the propitious presence of an enlightened elite in place willing to contribute to the common good by curbing their cupidity and obsession with retaining power; (2) An aware, civically engaged citizenry willing to risk all to secure their dignity. Or: We can just wait around for an enlightened monarch or dictator of benighted intent to arrive on the scene.

"We do not know what is happening. And that is what is happening." ~~~ Ortega y Gasset

In numerous ways, due to a confluence of constant inundation by distracting media influences and enervating, time-decimating financial burdens, the act of discerning the agendas of veiled corporate power, and the manner by which this nebulous, yet almost implacable structure, impacts ones life becomes difficult. Still, continually, I'm startled when I hear US citizens state: "It is a free country."

At present, we are at liberty to hold and voice our opinions, as long as doing so has almost no effect on the status quo. The US corporate media has endowed us with the right to decide for ourselves and voice, unfettered, our opinions on the destructive choices made by celebrity millionaires or wax feckless before our televisions about the devastation wrought by natural disasters. In our faux republic, we are guaranteed the right to free speech, as long as it remains marginalized and ineffective.

The Gnostics had a term germane to the shallowness of thought that passes for discourse in our time, political or otherwise -- "hylicism," which means an inability to see below the surface of things. This is why, over and over, "news consumers" are diverted by news as gossip and, on a political level, fall for the demagogic ploys of Republicans and the phony populism of married-to-the-status quo Democrats. It is the mode of mind of the duopolistic state.

As a result of the contrivance of powerful mass media interests, combined with a complicity on the part of the general public, the witless indulgences and perpetual excesses of the idiot empire of celebrity news and gossip grip the popular imagination and provoke a greater degree of indignation from the populace than the tearing to tatters of the social contract, ongoing since the Reagan era, by the nation's government and business classes.

The proliferation of news as celebrity gossip serves as a kind of corporate propaganda e.g., Charlie Sheen's private contretemps being hyped to public spectacle and topping the news cycle, as opposed to, let's say, a series of investigative reports exposing the degree of wealth inequity in the US, how it was established, and is maintained. Or why large-scale news events, such as the very likely catastrophic effects of the meltdown of a nuclear power plant, are treated with all the depth of a mindless Hollywood action movie, devoid of a deepening historical context.

To paraphrase Warren Buffett, his side has won the class war. At present, we are experiencing the mopping up operation in progress. In this cultural milieu, there should be little mystery regarding which stories the ultra-wealthy owners of huge media conglomerates would prefer their underlings to investigate and expose.

Another reason, Charlie Sheen has been placed in the media's electronic stock and pillory is the manner in which a persistent strain of Puritanism in the US endures, and engenders, in the nation's collective psyche, both a compulsive curiosity about excessive behavior merged with an intolerant, punitive reaction to it. Hence, aberrant behavior seizes the cultural imagination and fosters powerful, repressed desires.

First arrives the secret desire to make a daring, perhaps violent escape from the quotidian prison of everyday obligation and restrictive social nicety, as Pablo Neruda limned in verse, "to terrify a law clerk with a cut lily,/or kill a nun with a blow on the ear./It would be great/to go through the streets with a green knife/letting out yells until I died of the cold."

Next, one is seized with the compulsion to make somebody pay for evoking such untoward, vile thoughts in a good person like me…I'm still a good person…right? That spoiled celebrity should be made to pay for this, damn it.

Conveniently, this situation works out well for those who benefit from the deeply inequitable system now in place: Their agenda is served by having the public direct their animus at the hubris of dim-witted celebrities as opposed to the incompetence and criminality of the powerful.

In the city center-devoid, suburban archipelago of the US, there exists scant real estate where an immersion in the mass (for either constructive purpose or odious design) can take place and private rage can be vented as civil disobedience, or rise, in its demented shadow form, as the public psychosis of fascist pageantry.

Although, in the US, our variety of Nuremberg Rally mobs don't throng down wide boulevards, in torch lit processions, culminating with the sweat-lacquered faces of snarling Brown Shirts reflecting the flames of pyres of burning books. In contrast, the analog in the United States takes place on a hundred million, Cheetos-stained couches, as the corporate media's propaganda by distraction induces fools and tools of the class-stratified, corporate state to gibber about the latest celebrity contretemps.

"If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about the answers." Thomas Pynchon (from Gravity's Rainbow).

In this way, the so-called "culture wars" serve the ruling elite. This is a technique the operatives of corporate duopoly have down. Unloose social conservative activists to kick up dirt with divisive issues e.g., the rightwing wants to roast Big Bird on a spit and legislate that every unborn fetus be declared Jesus Christ himself. All the while, above the obscuring dirt cloud, the financial elite fly off in their private jets, elated as thieves luxuriating on a bed piled high with their loot.

I don't mean to imply one should not fight extant inanity and prevailing idiocy…fight it with a vehemence sacred in its fury. Ironically enough, one must allow oneself to be idiot enough to risk the fight against the proliferation of eternal stupid. Yes, one can win a battle, but the war is endless. But within the fury of the moment, you are fully alive.

Yet every victory is fleeting, and the eternal stupid returns...having no memory of its whipping, and ready for another round. And it will kick your ass from time to time. I have the scars to prove it.
(c) 2011 Phil Rockstroh, is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City. Visit Phil's website, and at FaceBook.

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Eric Lewis ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

License To Kill
By Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers

Man thinks 'cause he rules the earth he can do with it as he please
And if things don't change soon, he will
Oh, man has invented his doom
First step was touching the moon.

Now there's a woman on my block
She just sit there as the night grows still
She say who gonna take away his license to kill?

Now, they take him and they teach him and they groom him for life
And they set him on a path where he's bound to get ill
Then they bury him with stars
Sell his body like they do used cars.

Now, there's a woman on my block
She just sit there facing the hill
She say who gonna take away his license to kill?

Now, he's hell-bent for destruction, he's afraid and confused
And his brain has been mismanaged with great skill
All he believe are his eyes
And his eyes, they just tell him lies.

But there's a woman on my block
Sitting there in a cold chill
She say who gonna take away his license to kill?

Ya may be a noisemaker, spirit maker
Heartbreaker, backbreaker
Leave no stone unturned
May be an actor in a plot
That might be all that you got
'Til your error you clearly learn.

Now he worships at an altar of a stagnant pool
And when he sees his reflection, he's fulfilled
Oh, man is opposed to fair play
He wants it all and he wants it his way.

Now, there's a woman on my blocks
She just sit there as the night grows still
She say who gonna take away his license to kill?

Who will take away his license to kill?
© 1983/2011 Bob Dylan

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

The Terrifying Truth About Saint Patrick!

A Shocking Children's Sermon Teaches Kids a Valuable and Unforgettable Lesson about the Demonic Nature of Hell Bound Catholics

Freehold Iowa - During the Landover Baptist Children's Sermon last Sunday morning, terrified toddlers were treated to a surprise visit from Saint Patrick himself. According to Pastor Deacon Fred, "Our little pre-K sissies cried like a pack of mincing pansies – just like they did last week when we showed them "The Passion of the Christ." The lights in the church were dimmed and a ferociously bright green spotlight scanned over the crowd of unsuspecting youngsters huddled together in front of the congregation. The men's choir began to hum in a steady drone, like Catholic monks stirring a cauldron of boiling saint relics as the children moved closer together, casting pleading glances at teachers who used medium-voltage stun guns to herd the timid tots onto the sculptured shag carpet steps leading up to the church's 18-karat rose gold altar and tidal baptism pool.

After the startling splat of an adult horse being dropped from the rafters onto the marble stage, an ominous voice bellowed at the children, many of whom were warily picking pieces of equine innards from their blood spattered clothing and hair. "I AM SAINT PATRICK!" yelled the heavily amplified voice of Pastor Deacon Fred as he sprang out of the darkness and into the spotlight. "AND I EAT LITTLE CHILDREN!" Pastor's Saint Patrick costume was so effective that every little child screamed at the top of their lungs. Most felt the telltale jolt of a stun gun, reminding them that they had visibly soiled the pants of their Sunday-school uniforms.

As the stage filled with darting coils of snakes, Pastor lunged toward the terrified children and grabbed 4-year-old, Codie Johnson by the left foot. He bent down so little Codie was dangling between an angry rattlesnake and over Pastor's sharp yellow teeth. "My Catholic priests are hungry!" said Pastor. "But you look so tasty, I think I'll just bite off your tallywhacker myself and spit the rest of you out into Father O'Malley's bed!" Pastor let out a blood-curdling cackle and little Codie wet his pants and passed out. He carefully tossed Codie aside, kicking away the snake just seconds before it lunged for Codie's tender neck and making sure Codie's little head didn't hit the marble floor (two deacons were on hand to collect the child and bring him to the church infirmary).

"NOW! Who's NEXT!?" Pastor yelled through a spray of green spittle He lunged frantically toward the children. "I drove the snakes out of filthy, rotten Ireland – and I'll drive you out of your crazy little minds! BWAA-hahahahah!" he exclaimed as he waved his green hands in the air. The children, clinging to each other, let out deafening wails of terror. Most of them were so petrified that their limbs were frozen and they couldn't move.

"I work for the Catholic Church!" yelled Pastor. "And we have a shortage on little children right now..." Mrs. Ida Mae Denkins who was seated in the left second pew stood up and shouted, "Take my little Suzie to the priests, Saint Patrick! She's been watching the Cartoon Network without permission! She's seen Sponge Bob's penis! She's been a bad girl! A wicked, sinful servant of the satyr Satan!" Suzie Denkins screamed, "NO MAMA! NO! I'll never watch secular cartoons again!" Pastor Deacon Fred eyed little Suzie. "You'd make a nice tender sweet little morsel for one of my demon-red-skirt-wearing bishops!" he screamed. "They'd love to find out what's going on underneath that little poodle-skirt you little whore!" Suzie lost consciousness and several Deacons were on hand to smack her across the head and bring her limp, sinful carcass to the church infirmary.

"I'm going to let you sissy little scardy cats off easy this time!" said Pastor. "I want you worthless little pansies to run off to your Sunday School classes RIGHT NOW! Your teachers there will learn you more about me and my Cathylick Church in Rome. But don't forget March 17th! Lock your doors and hide under your covers! For on that day, my drunken Catholic servants diddle their unholy areas and pray to ME! And I come forth to steal beautiful little Caucasian Baptist children like YOU! And deliver you into the red velvet bedrooms of my servants, the priests!" After all of the children who fled were recovered, the lights were turned back on and Pastor removed his Saint Patrick mask. The congregation of parents, who had quietly watched from the tin-level tither mezzanine balcony, applauded and then rose to give him a standing ovation. "Hopefully that will stick with them for the rest of their lives," Pastor told churchgoers. "You have to get them on the straight and narrow when they are young, A-men? I thought the Mel Gibson blood fest would have toughened them up, but apparently we have a bunch of twinkle-toes fairies that need the fear of Jesus put in them."

Sunday school classes that morning were an extension of Pastor's children's sermon. Youngsters were treated to a Power Point presentation developed by Jack T. Chick, called, "Why Catholics are NOT Christians."
© 2011 THe Landover Baptist Church

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Issues & Alibis Vol 11 # 11 (c) 03/18/2011

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