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In This Edition

Robert Dreyfuss wonders, "Is This Last Gasp For The Israel Lobby And The Neocons?"

Uri Avnery watches, "The Rape Of Washington."

Robert Scheer demands, "Perp Walks Instead Of Bonuses."

Jim Hightower reports, "The Right Wing Weeps For The Rich."

Amy Goodman finds, "Those Hit Hardest Get No Bailout."

Barbara Peterson with an absolute must read, "GMO And Morgellon's Disease."

Paul Krugman from, "A Continent Adrift."

Chris Floyd says, "It's All Good."

Case Wagenvoord is, "Keeping'em Home."

Mike Folkerth considers, "U.S.A. vs. Jamaica."

Scott Ritter makes an introduction, "Barack Obama, Meet Team B."

Ted Rall with some happy thoughts, "Reasons To Be Cheerful."

South Carolina governor Mark Sanford wins the coveted "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Glenn Greenwald studies, "The Success Of Drug Decriminalization In Portugal."

Shirley Braverman explains, "Why I'm Planting A Garden."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department 'The Onion' reports, "Redcoat Holdouts Still Fighting American Revolution" but first Uncle Ernie sez, "One Million And Counting."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Gary Varvel with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Derf City, TBH, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, The Heretik, Daryl Cagle, American Center for Disease Control, The Morgellon's Research Foundation, Phil Weinstein, European Central Bank, International Films Inc., U.S. Department Of Agriculture, NBC, Issues & Alibis.Org and Pink & Blue Films.

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...
Zeitgeist The Movie...

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

One Million And Counting
By Ernest Stewart

"The FBI's Terrorist Screening Center acknowledged this week that there are more than 1 million names on its official terrorist watch list, a number that suggests the vast scale of the police-state measures undertaken by the US government on the pretext of waging a 'war on terror.'" ~~~ Patrick Martin

"Under President Bush's authority, they've been going into countries, not talking to the ambassador or the CIA station chief, and finding people on a list and executing them and leaving. That's been going on, in the name of all of us."
~~~ Seymour Hersh ~ about the J.S.O.C. ~~~

Eat The Rich
There's only one thing that they are good for
Eat The Rich
Take one bite now - come back for more
Eat The Rich
I gotta get this off my chest
Eat The Rich
Take one bite now - spit out the rest
Eat The Rich ~~~ Aerosmith

Here's something that we told you about last summer and the FBI is finally admitting. According to their "Terrorist Screening Center" they've acknowledged that there are more than 1 million names on the official terrorist watch list.

This is a list that has very little to do with actual terrorists but is all about Americans as well as foreigners who are considered an enemies of the state for political reasons. Actual terrorist are not on the terrorist list as the government doesn't want to tip its hand about whom they are actively pursuing! Now isn't that special?

Some famous folks who've made the list include politicians such as Senator Edward Kennedy and members of the House of Representatives, John Lewis, Loretta Sanchez and Don Young. Or any journalist who has spoken out about the last two Juntas such as James Moore, author of a critical biography of Karl Rove, entitled Bush's Brain, and CNN reporter Drew Griffin who found himself on the list in May 2008, shortly after he did a series of reports critical of the Transportation Security Administration. A couple of other well known folks on the list are Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa, and Evo Morales, currently president of Bolivia. I'm sure there are more but we're not allowed to see this secret list and only find out when someone is harassed because of it. Even though I made Nixon's enemies list I'm apparently not on this one yet as I got my passport last year which surprised me to no end!

There is no legal restriction on who can be placed on the watch list nor is there presently any legal right to have your name removed from the list once it appears. You may recall that children have been stopped from boarding planes, in one case, an eight-year-old boy was deemed a terrorist because of the list, so you can see how well it works!

According to a 2007 report by the Government Accountability Office, "an individual may be nominated to the list if they are subject to an ongoing counterterrorism investigation, or if the individual is the subject of a preliminary investigation to determine if they have links to terrorism." The second category potentially includes the entire population of the world, as after all, we're apparently just six degrees of separation apart! Of the million plus currently on the list at least one hundred thousand are Americans, many because they've spoken out against Bush, Israel, the wars or because someone on the nominating committee doesn't like them! This means the other nine hundred thousand or so must belong to Al Qaeda which gives them more troops than the US Army. Strange to say the least, as the last count I had there were about five hundred members in Al Qaeda.

The FBI has stated that they removed thirty three thousand last year but since they're adding several hundred thousand a year it may take decades to get your name off the list once it gets put on! While there currently aren't one hundred thousand American terrorists (my guess would be less than fifty), if this kind of big brother sh*t keeps up there soon will be one hundred thousand American terrorists or more as one man's terrorist is another man's patriot!

In Other News

Are you hip to the "Joint Special Operations Command?" If not, let me hip you!

They say they're, "...a joint headquarters designed to study special operations requirements and techniques; ensure interoperability and equipment standardization; plan and conduct joint special operations exercises and training; and develop joint special operations tactics." Joint Special Operations Command was established on December 15, 1980, in the aftermath of the failure of "Operation Eagle Claw," the unsuccessful attempt to rescue the 53 hostages from the American embassy in Tehran, Iran. The Joint Special Operations Command is located at the Pope Air Force Base, Fort Bragg complex outside of Fayetteville, North Carolina.

They're really combat teams of professional killers like the Green Berets or the Navy Seals but their targets aren't military but political! They've recently been thrust into the spotlight in a question and answer period at the University of Minnesota after a speech given by Seymour Hersh. Seymour said of the CIA's Special Activities Division and the Joint Special Operations Command in general:

"After 9/11, I haven't written about this yet, but the Central Intelligence Agency was very deeply involved in domestic activities against people they thought to be enemies of the state. Without any legal authority for it. They haven't been called on it yet. That does happen.

Right now, today, there was a story in the New York Times that if you read it carefully mentioned something known as the Joint Special Operations Command -- JSOC it's called. It is a special wing of our special operations community that is set up independently. They do not report to anybody, except in the Bush-Cheney days, they reported directly to the Cheney office. They did not report to the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff or to Mr. [Robert] Gates, the secretary of defense. They reported directly to him. ...

Congress has no oversight of it. It's an executive assassination ring essentially, and it's been going on and on and on. Just today in the Times there was a story that its leaders, a three star admiral named [William H.] McRaven, ordered a stop to it because there were so many collateral deaths.

Under President Bush's authority, they've been going into countries, not talking to the ambassador or the CIA station chief, and finding people on a list and executing them and leaving. That's been going on, in the name of all of us.

It's complicated because the guys doing it are not murderers, and yet they are committing what we would normally call murder. It's a very complicated issue. Because they are young men that went into the Special Forces. The Delta Forces you've heard about. Navy Seal teams. Highly specialized.

In many cases, they were the best and the brightest. Really, no exaggerations. Really fine guys that went in to do the kind of necessary jobs that they think you need to do to protect America. And then they find themselves torturing people.

I've had people say to me -- five years ago, I had one say: 'What do you call it when you interrogate somebody and you leave them bleeding and they don't get any medical committee and two days later he dies. Is that murder? What happens if I get before a committee?"

Your tax dollars at work, America!

And Finally

I see that the likes of David Brooks, Bill O'Reilly and Tush Limbaugh have crawled out from under their respective rocks to whine about the "poor" wealthy finally having to pick up their fair share. Well, Boo Hoo! Suddenly, we're in a "class war." Oh really? Where have you fascist brain deads been for the last 40 years? You didn't mention it then or any time since until just now, until the extremely wealthy were asked to share a tiny bit of the burden, to actually pay taxes without writing everything off!

These whining toadies are moaning about Obama's proposal to up the taxes by 4% on the richest 5%. Instead of raising the taxes on the other 95% who have been paying all the taxes and seeing their paychecks shrink to almost nothing for forty years. There has been a steady downward trend on the average person's paycheck since the "Trick" took us off the gold standard to pay for his five-year extension of the Vietnam War.

I'm so old, folks, that I can remember when I could feed myself and feed myself well on $15 a week and then the "Trick" came along and we've been heading downhill ever since. It really began to pick up speed when that old Dementia Head began un-leveling the playing field. He was followed by Papa Smirk, Slick Willie and Smirky, each one taking all the taxes off the elite and taxing the middle class and lower class to the max. They also unleashed the bankers from sensible laws, resulting in millions of bad mortgages and loans and the end of capitalism as we knew it! Where were the above-mentioned turkeys when this class war was going on? Oh yeah, Messrs Brooks, O'Reilly and Limbaugh as well as the rest of the talking heads at CNN, CNBC and Fox Spews are part of the wealthy elite, so as long as they were winning the "class war" there was no problem with "class wars!" Now that the tables are beginning to turn, even this tiny bit "class wars" are suddenly bad. Huh, imagine that!

I say Obama isn't taxing them enough. When I was a youth there was a 90% tax bracket for the millionaires which is why there were only one or two billionaires not hundreds and hundreds of them. Also have you heard a peep out of David, Billy or Tush about the AIG taxpayer rip off of giving one hundred and sixty five million in bonuses, over and above their salaries, to the very same group of greedy monsters who caused our current financial situation? Bonuses! They ought to have their heads chopped off and put on stakes. But they're the best and the brightest and they'll go elsewhere I hear pundits say in reply. Yeah right, let them. Who on the planet would hire these losers? Oh yes, I forgot, the American taxpayers who will be giving them the extra bonuses for destroying the world's economy, that's who! And gosh, there's nothing Barry can do about it! It boggles the mind! I have a simple solution, Barry, as Steven Tyler said, "Eat The Rich!"


We don't sell our readers new cars, fancy homes or designer clothes. We don't advocate consumerism nor do we offer facile solutions to serious problems. We do, however, bring together every week writers and activists who are not afraid to speak the truth about our country and our world. The articles we print are not for the faint of heart.

As access to accurate information becomes more difficult and free speech and the exchange of ideas becomes more restricted and controlled, small publications and alternative presses disappear. Issues and Alibis may soon join that list.

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Ernest & Victoria Stewart


03-12-1917 ~ 03-14-2009
Thanks for the laughs!

08-30-1943 ~ 03-14-2009
R.I.P. Sweetie

07-02-1946 ~ 03-15-2009
Burn Baby Burn!

05-11-1963 ~ 03-18-2009
R.I.P. Sweetie


The "W" theatre trailers are up along with the new movie poster and screen shots from the film. They are all available at the all-new "W" movie site: Both trailers are on site and may be downloaded; the new trailer can be seen with Flash on site. You can download in either PC or Mac formats. I'm in the new trailer as myself but don't blink or you'll miss me! The trailers are also available on YouTube along with a short scene from the film.


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


So how do you like the 2nd coup d'etat so far?
And more importantly, what are you planning on doing about it?

Until the next time, Peace!
(c) 2009 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for the last 8 years managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. In his spare time he is an actor, writer and an associate producer for the new motion picture "W The Movie."

Is This Last Gasp For The Israel Lobby And The Neocons?
By Robert Dreyfuss

Is the Israel lobby in Washington an all-powerful force? Or is it, perhaps, running scared?

Judging by the outcome of the Charles W. ("Chas") Freeman affair this week, it might seem as if the Israeli lobby is fearsome indeed. Seen more broadly, however, the controversy over Freeman could be the Israel lobby's Waterloo.

Let's recap. On February 19th, Laura Rozen reported at that Freeman had been selected by Admiral Dennis Blair, the director of national intelligence, to serve in a key post as chairman of the National Intelligence Council (NIC). The NIC, the official in-house think tank of the intelligence community, takes input from 16 intelligence agencies and produces what are called "national intelligence estimates" on crucial topics of the day as guidance for Washington policymakers. For that job, Freeman boasted a stellar resume: fluent in Mandarin Chinese, widely experienced in Latin America, Asia, and Africa, a former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War, and an ex-assistant secretary of defense during the Reagan administration.

A wry, outspoken iconoclast, Freeman had, however, crossed one of Washington's red lines by virtue of his strong criticism of the U.S.-Israeli relationship. Over the years, he had, in fact, honed a critique of Israel that was both eloquent and powerful. Hours after the Foreign Policy story was posted, Steve Rosen, a former official of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), launched what would soon become a veritable barrage of criticism of Freeman on his right-wing blog.

Rosen himself has already been indicted by the Department of Justice in an espionage scandal over the transfer of classified information to outside parties involving a colleague at AIPAC, a former official in Donald Rumsfeld's Pentagon, and an official at the Israeli embassy. His blog, Obama Mideast Monitor, is hosted by the Middle East Forum website run by Daniel Pipes, a hard-core, pro-Israeli rightist, whose Middle East Quarterly is, in turn, edited by Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute. Over approximately two weeks, Rosen would post 19 pieces on the Freeman story.

The essence of Rosen's criticism centered on the former ambassador's strongly worded critique of Israel. (That was no secret. Freeman had repeatedly denounced many of Israel's policies and Washington's too-close relationship with Jerusalem. "The brutal oppression of the Palestinians by the Israeli occupation shows no sign of ending," said Freeman in 2007. "American identification with Israel has become total.") But Rosen, and those who followed his lead, broadened their attacks to make unfounded or exaggerated claims, taking quotes and emails out of context, and accusing Freeman of being a pro-Arab "lobbyist," of being too closely identified with Saudi Arabia, and of being cavalier about China's treatment of dissidents. They tried to paint the sober, conservative former U.S. official as a wild-eyed radical, an anti-Semite, and a pawn of the Saudi king.

From Rosen's blog, the anti-Freeman vitriol spread to other right-wing, Zionist, and neoconservative blogs, then to the websites of neocons mouthpieces like the New Republic, Commentary, National Review, and the Weekly Standard, which referred to Freeman as a "Saudi puppet." From there, it would spread to the Atlantic and then to the op-ed pages of the Wall Street Journal, where Gabriel Schoenfeld called Freeman a "China-coddling Israel basher," and the Washington Post, where Jonathan Chait of the New Republic labeled Freeman a "fanatic."

Before long, staunch partisans for Israel on Capitol Hill were getting into the act. These would, in the end, include Representative Steve Israel and Senator Charles Schumer, both New York Democrats; a group of Republican House members led by John Boehner of Ohio, the minority leader, and Eric Cantor of Virginia, the Republican Whip; seven Republican members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence; and, finally, Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, who engaged in a sharp exchange with Admiral Blair about Freeman at a Senate hearing.

Though Blair strongly defended Freeman, the two men got no support from an anxious White House, which took (politely put) a hands-off approach. Seeing the writing on the wall -- all over the wall, in fact -- Freeman came to the conclusion that, even if he could withstand the storm, his ability to do the job had, in effect, already been torpedoed. Whatever output the National Intelligence Council might produce under his leadership, as Freeman told me in an interview, would instantly be attacked. "Anything that it produced that was politically controversial would immediately be attributed to me as some sort of political deviant, and be discredited," he said.

On March 10th, Freeman bowed out, but not with a whimper. In a letter to friends and colleagues, he launched a defiant, departing counterstrike that may, in fact, have helped to change the very nature of Washington politics. "The tactics of the Israel lobby plumb the depths of dishonor and indecency and include character assassination, selective misquotation, the willful distortion of the record, the fabrication of falsehoods, and an utter disregard for the truth," wrote Freeman. "The aim of this lobby is control of the policy process through the exercise of a veto over the appointment of people who dispute the wisdom of its views."

Freeman put it more metaphorically to me: "It was a nice way of, as the Chinese say, killing a chicken to scare the monkeys." By destroying his appointment, Freeman claimed, the Israel lobby hoped to intimidate other critics of Israel and U.S. Middle East policy who might seek jobs in the Obama administration.

On Triumphs, Hysterias, and Mobs

It remains to be seen just how many "monkeys" are trembling. Certainly, the Israel lobby crowed in triumph. Daniel Pipes, for instance, quickly praised Rosen's role in bringing down Freeman:

"What you may not know is that Steven J. Rosen of the Middle East Forum was the person who first brought attention to the problematic nature of Freeman's appointment," wrote Pipes. "Within hours, the word was out, and three weeks later Freeman has conceded defeat. Only someone with Steve's stature and credibility could have made this happen."

The Zionist Organization of America, a far-right advocacy group that supports Israel, sent out follow-up Action Alerts to its membership, ringing further alarm bells about Freeman as part of a campaign to mobilize public opinion and Congress. Behind the scenes, AIPAC quietly used its considerable clout, especially with friends and allies in the media. And Chuck Schumer, who had trotted over to the White House to talk to Rahm Emanuel, President Obama's chief of staff, later said bluntly:

"Charles Freeman was the wrong guy for this position. His statements against Israel were way over the top and severely out of step with the administration. I repeatedly urged the White House to reject him, and I am glad they did the right thing."

Numerous reporters, including Max Blumenthal at the Daily Beast website and Spencer Ackerman of Firedoglake, have effectively documented the role of the Israel lobby, including AIPAC, in sabotaging Freeman's appointment. From their accounts and others, it seems clear that the lobby left its fingerprints all over Freeman's National Intelligence Council corpse. (Indeed, Time's Joe Klein described the attack on Freeman as an "assassination," adding that the term "lobby" doesn't do justice to the methods of the various lobbying groups, individuals, and publications: "He was the victim of a mob, not a lobby. The mob was composed primarily of Jewish neoconservatives.")

On the other hand, the Washington Post, in a near-hysterical editorial, decided to pretend that the Israel lobby really doesn't exist, accusing Freeman instead of sending out a "crackpot tirade." Huffed the Post, "Mr. Freeman issued a two-page screed on Tuesday in which he described himself as the victim of a shadowy and sinister 'Lobby'... His statement was a grotesque libel."

The Post's case might have been stronger, had it not, just one day earlier, printed an editorial in which it called on Attorney General Eric Holder to exonerate Steve Rosen and drop the espionage case against him. Entitled "Time to Call It Quits," the editorial said:

"The matter involves Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman, two former officials for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC... A trial has been scheduled for June in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Mr. Holder should pull the plug on this prosecution long before then." In his interview with me, Freeman noted the propensity members of the Israel lobby have for denying the lobby's existence, even while taking credit for having forced him out and simultaneously claiming that they had nothing to do with it. "We're now at the ludicrous stage where those who boasted of having done it and who described how they did it are now denying that they did it," he said.

Running Scared

The Israel lobby has regularly denied its own existence even as it has long carried on with its work, in stealth as in the bright sunlight. In retrospect, however, l'affaire Freeman may prove a game changer. It has already sparked a new, more intense mainstream focus on the lobby, one that far surpasses the flap that began in March, 2006, over the publication of an essay by John Mearsheimer and Steven Walt in the London Review of Books that was, in 2007, expanded into a book, The Israel Lobby. In fact, one of the sins committed by Freeman, according to his critics, is that an organization he headed, the Middle East Policy Council, published an early version of the Mearsheimer-Walt thesis -- which argued that a powerful, pro-Israel coalition exercises undue influence over American policymakers -- in its journal.

In his blog at Foreign Policy, Walt reacted to Freeman's decision to withdraw by writing:

"For all of you out there who may have questioned whether there was a powerful 'Israel lobby,' or who admitted that it existed but didn't think it had much influence, or who thought that the real problem was some supposedly all-powerful 'Saudi lobby,' think again."

What the Freeman affair brought was unwanted, often front-page attention to the lobby. Writers at countless blogs and websites -- including yours truly, at the Dreyfuss Report -- dissected or reported on the lobby's assault on Freeman, including Daniel Luban and Jim Lobe at, Glenn Greenwald in his column, M.J. Rosenberg of the Israel Peace Forum, and Phil Weiss at Mondoweiss. Far more striking, however, is that for the first time in memory, both the New York Times and the Washington Post ran page-one stories about the Freeman controversy that specifically used the phrase "Israel lobby," while detailing the charges and countercharges that followed upon Freeman's claim that the lobby did him in.

This new attention to the lobby's work comes at a critical moment, which is why the toppling of Freeman might be its Waterloo.

As a start, right-wing partisans of Israel have grown increasingly anxious about the direction that President Obama intends to take when it comes to U.S. policy toward Israel, the Palestinians, Iran, and the Middle East generally. Despite the way, in the middle of the presidential campaign last June, Obama recited a pro-Israeli catechism in a speech at AIPAC's national conference in Washington, they remain unconvinced that he will prove reliable on their policy concerns. Among other things, they have long been suspicious of his reputed openness to Palestinian points of view.

No less important, while the appointments of Hillary Clinton as his secretary of state and Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff were reassuring, other appointments were far less so. They were, for instance, concerned by several of Obama's campaign advisers -- and not only Robert Malley of the International Crisis Group and former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, who were quietly eased out of Obamaland early in 2008. An additional source of worry was Daniel Shapiro and Daniel Kurtzer, both Jewish, who served as Obama's top Middle East aides during the campaign and were seen as not sufficiently loyal to the causes favored by hardline, right-wing types.

Since the election, many lobby members have viewed a number of Obama's top appointments, including Shapiro, who's taken the Middle East portfolio at the National Security Council, and Kurtzer, who's in line for a top State Department job, with great unease. Take retired Marine general and now National Security Advisor James L. Jones, who, like Brzezinski, is seen as too sympathetic to the Palestinian point of view and who reputedly wrote a report last year highly critical of Israel's occupation policies; or consider George Mitchell, the U.S. special envoy to the Middle East, who is regarded by many pro-Israeli hawks as far too level-headed and even-handed to be a good mediator; or, to mention one more appointment, Samantha Power, author of A Problem from Hell and now a National Security Council official who has, in the past, made comments sharply critical of Israel.

Of all of these figures, Freeman, because of his record of blunt statements, was the most vulnerable. His appointment looked like low-hanging fruit when it came to launching a concerted, preemptive attack on the administration. As it happens, however, this may prove anything but a moment of strength for the lobby. After all, the recent three-week Israeli assault on Gaza had already generated a barrage of headlines and television images that made Israel look like a bully nation with little regard for Palestinian lives, including those of women and children. According to polls taken in the wake of Gaza, growing numbers of Americans, including many in the Jewish community, have begun to exhibit doubts about Israel's actions, a rare moment when public opinion has begun to tilt against Israel.

Perhaps most important of all, Israel is about to be run by an extremist, ultra right-wing government led by Likud Party leader Bibi Netanyahu, and including the even more extreme party of Avigdor Lieberman, as well as a host of radical-right religious parties. It's an ugly coalition that is guaranteed to clash with the priorities of the Obama White House.

As a result, the arrival of the Netanyahu-Lieberman government is also guaranteed to prove a crisis moment for the Israel lobby. It will present an enormous public-relations problem, akin to the one that faced ad agency Hill & Knowlton during the decades in which it had to defend Philip Morris, the hated cigarette company that repeatedly denied the link between its products and cancer. The Israel lobby knows that it will be difficult to sell cartons of menthol smooth Netanyahu-Lieberman 100s to American consumers.

Indeed, Freeman told me:

"The only thing I regret is that in my statement I embraced the term 'Israel lobby.' This isn't really a lobby by, for, or about Israel. It's really, well, I've decided I'm going to call it from now on the [Avigdor] Lieberman lobby. It's the very right-wing Likud in Israel and its fanatic supporters here. And Avigdor Lieberman is really the guy that they really agree with."

So here's the reality behind the Freeman debacle: Already worried over Team Obama, suffering the after-effects of the Gaza debacle, and about to be burdened with the Netanyahu-Lieberman problem, the Israel lobby is undoubtedly running scared. They succeeded in knocking off Freeman, but the true test of their strength is yet to come.
(c) 2009 Robert Dreyfuss is the author of "Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam" (Henry Holt/Metropolitan Books).

The Rape Of Washington
By Uri Avnery

RETURNING HOME from a very short visit to London, I found the country in the grip of uncontrollable emotions.

No, it was not about the looming danger of the radical right gaining control. It is now almost certain that the next government will consist of an assorted bunch of settlers, explicit racists and perhaps even outright fascists. But that does not evoke any excitement.

Nor was there much excitement about yet another interrogation of the (still) incumbent Prime Minister in his various corruption affairs. That is hardly news anymore.

All the excitement was about a "press conference" given by the former President of Israel, Moshe Katsav, after the Attorney General announced that he might be indicted for rape.

Katsav, it may be remembered by those who remember such things, was accused by several of his female staff of persistent sexual harassment and at least one case of rape. He had to resign.

An Iranian-born immigrant and a protege of Menachem Begin, Katsav had made a career based on a kind of affirmative action. Begin believed that, for the sake of integration, promising young immigrants from Oriental countries should be promoted to positions of responsibility. Katsav, a rather nondescript right-wing politician with all the customary right-wing opinions, became Minister of Tourism and then was elected by the Knesset to the ceremonial post of President, mainly to spite the rival candidate, Shimon Peres. Wags said that the Knesset was reluctant to spoil Peres' (then) unbroken record of lost elections.

Since his abdication two years ago, the Katsav affair has dragged on and on, almost to the point of farce. Revelations were leaked by the police, several women disclosed lurid details, the ex-President made a plea agreement admitting to lesser offences, he then revoked the deal, the Attorney General procrastinated and now he seems to have made up his mind about the indictment.

So Katsav called a press-conference in his remote home-town, Kiryat Malakhi (the former Arab village of Qastina, now within reach of the Qassams). It was an unprecedented performance. The ex-President spoke solo for nearly three hours, airing his grievances against the police, the Attorney-General, the media, the politicians and almost everybody else. All this was, incredibly, broadcast live on all three of Israel's TV channels, as if it had been a State of the Union address. Katsav rambled on and on, repeating himself again and again. No questions were allowed. Respected journalists, hungry for scoops, were evicted if they dared to interrupt.

So when I came back yesterday morning, I found this feat dominating the front pages of all our newspapers. Everything else was banished to the back pages.

BECAUSE OF this, Charles Freeman got hardly a mention. Yet his affair was a thousand-fold more important than all the sexual activities of our ex-President.

Freeman was called by Barack Obama's newly-appointed Chief of National Intelligence, Admiral Dennis Blair, to the post of Chairman of the National Intelligence Council. In this position, he would have been in charge of the National intelligence Estimates (NIE), summarizing the reports of all the 16 US intelligence agencies, which employ some 100,000 people at an annual cost of 50 billion dollars, and composing the estimates that are put before the President.

In Israel, this is the job of the Directorate of Military Intelligence, and the officer in charge has a huge influence on government policy. In October 1973, the then intelligence chief disregarded all reports to the contrary and informed the government that there was only a "low probability" of an Egyptian attack. A few days later the Egyptian army crossed the canal.

Throughout the 1990's, the man in charge of intelligence estimates, Amos Gilad, deliberately misled the government into believing that Yasser Arafat was deceiving them and was actually plotting the destruction of Israel. Gilad was later openly accused by his subordinates of suppressing their expert reports and submitting estimates of his own, which were not based on any intelligence whatsoever. Later, as the guru of Prime Minister Ehud Barak, Gilad coined the phrase "We have no Palestinian partner for peace."

In the US, the intelligence chiefs famously supplied President George W. Bush with the (false) intelligence he needed to justify his invasion of Iraq. All this shows how vitally important it is to have an estimates chief of intellectual integrity and wide experience and knowledge. Admiral Blair could not have chosen a better person than Charles Freeman, a man of sterling character and uncontested expertise, especially about China and the Arab world.

And that was his undoing.

AS A former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Freeman is an expert on the Arab world and the Israeli-Arab conflict. He has strong opinions about American policy in the Middle East, and makes no secret of them.

In a 2005 speech, he criticized Israel's "high-handed and self-defeating policies" originating in the "occupation and settlement of Arab lands," which he described as "inherently violent."

In a 2007 speech he said that the US had "embraced Israel's enemies as our own" and that Arabs had "responded by equating Americans with Israelis as their enemies." Charging the US with backing Israel's "efforts to pacify its captive and increasingly ghettoized Arab populations" and to "seize ever more Arab land for its colonists," he added that "Israel no longer even pretends to seek peace with the Palestinians."

Another conclusion is his belief that the terrorism the United States confronts is due largely to "the brutal oppression of the Palestinians by an Israeli occupation that has lasted over 40 years and shows no signs of ending."

Naturally, the appointment of such a person was viewed with great alarm by the pro-Israel lobby in Washington. They decided on an all-out attack. No subtle behind-the-scenes intervention, no discreet protestations, but a full-scale demonstration of their might right at the beginning of the Obama era.

Public denunciations were composed, senators and congressmen pressed into action, media people mobilized. Freeman's integrity was called into question, shady connections with Arab and Chinese financial interests "disclosed" by the docile press. Admiral Blair came to his appointee's defense, but in vain. Freeman had no choice but to withdraw.

THE FULL meaning of this episode should not escape anyone. It was the first test of strength of the lobby in the new Obama era. And in this test, the lobby came out with flying (blue-and-white) colors. The administration was publicly humiliated.

The White House did not even try to hide its abject surrender. It declared that the appointment had not been cleared with the President, that Obama had no hand in it and did not even know about it. Meaning: of course he would have objected to the appointment of any official who was not fully acceptable to the lobby. The portrayal of the power of the lobby by Professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, has been fully vindicated.

THIS HAS a significance which goes far beyond the already far-reaching implications of the affair itself.

Many people in Israel, who view the establishment of the new rightist government with apprehension, cite as their main fear the danger of a clash with the new Obama administration. Such a clash, they believe, could be fatal for Israel's security. But the rightists deride such arguments. They assert that no American president would ever dare to confront the Israeli lobby. The captive congressmen and senators, as well as the supporters of the Israeli government in the media and even in the White House itself, would sink on sight any American policy opposed by even the most extreme right-wing government in Israel.

Now the first skirmish has taken place, and the President of the United States has blinked first. Perhaps one should not rush to conclusions, perhaps Obama needs more time to find his bearings, but the signs are ominous for any Israeli interested in peace.

It may be too early to call this episode the Rape of Washington, but it is certainly vastly more important than Katsav's sexual escapades.

BY THE WAY, or not by the way, a word about my trip to London.

I went there to lend support to a group of Jewish personalities, well-known in academic and other circles, who have set up an organization called "Independent Jewish Voices."

Recently they published a book called "A Time To Speak Out," in which several of them contributed to the debate about Israel, human rights and Jewish ethics. The views expressed are very close to those current in the Israeli peace camp. But when they offered their book for presentation in the Jewish Book Week, they were rudely rejected. In protest, they convened an event of their own, and that's where I spoke.

I believe that it is of utmost importance that such Jewish voices be heard. In several countries, including the US, groups of brave Jews are trying to stand up to the Jewish establishment that unconditionally supports the Israeli Right. In the US, several such groups have sprung up, some quite recently. One of them, called "J Street," is trying to compete with the formidable and notorious AIPAC.

It is important for governments and peoples to know that the unconditional support for the Israeli Right does not represent the majority of Jews in the US, the UK and other countries. The Jewish public is far from monolithic. The majority is liberal and believes in peace and human rights. Until now this was a silent majority, out of fear of a repressive establishment. It is indeed "a time to speak out."

I believe that it is in the interest of Israel to support these groups - and that their activities are somewhat more important than Mr. Katsav's exploits.
(c) 2009 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Perp Walks Instead Of Bonuses
By Robert Scheer

There must be a criminal investigation of the AIG debacle, and it looks as if New York's top lawman is on the case. The collusion to save this toxic company in order to salvage the rogue financiers who conspired to enrich themselves by impoverishing millions is being revealed as the greatest financial scandal in U.S. history. Instead of taking bonuses, the culprits should be taking perp walks.

I'm not just referring to the swindlers in the Financial Products Subsidiary of AIG who devised and sold those insurance policies on derivatives that brought the world economy to its knees. They do seem deserving of a special place in hell, and presumably the same divine power that according to Scripture labeled usury a high moral crime and threw the money-changers out of the temple will consider that outcome.

However, the enablers are the AIG leaders who, as New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo revealed Tuesday, signed those bonus contracts a year ago to reward the very people "principally responsible for the firm's meltdown." That's a cool $44 million divided among the top 10 shysters, even though the depth of their chicanery was well known to top management.

As Cuomo noted in a letter to Rep. Barney Frank: "The contracts shockingly contain a provision that required most individuals' bonuses to be 100% of their 2007 bonuses. Thus, in the spring of last year, AIG chose to lock in bonuses for 2008 at 2007 levels despite obvious signs that 2008 performance would be disastrous in comparison to the year before."

The lame argument that those bonus-baby employees needed to be retained in order to sort out the mess they had created was also shot down by Cuomo, who revealed after his office's initial investigation had pierced AIG's veil of secrecy that "[e]leven of the individuals who received `retention' bonuses of $1 million or more are no longer working at AIG, including one who received $4.6 million."

But the $165 million in taxpayer funds used to reward them is but a sideshow in a far larger drama of moral decay swirling around the banking bailout. It should not distract from the many billions, not paltry millions, of our dollars being diverted to reward the very folks who brought us such misery. Consider the $12.8 billion of the $170 billion that taxpayers gave AIG in bailout funds that AIG then secretly diverted to Goldman Sachs, a company that evidently has a lock on both the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve no matter which political party is in power. It was the biggest payoff among those that AIG made to a score of foreign and domestic financial giants.

The bailout is a response to a banking crisis that resulted from the radical deregulation pushed by former Goldman Sachs honcho Robert Rubin when he was President Clinton's treasury secretary. Another Goldman Sachs chairman-turned-treasury-secretary, Henry Paulson, in the Bush administration designed the trillion-dollar bank bailout that will go down as the greatest swindle in U.S. history.

It was because of Paulson that AIG was saved from bankruptcy hours after Goldman rival Lehman Brothers was allowed to go down the drain. Why that reversal of strategy in a top-secret meeting called by then New York Fed Chair Timothy Geithner, a Rubin protÈgÈ and now Barack Obama's treasury secretary? Why was Goldman's Lloyd Blankfein the only financial industry CEO in attendance? When that news leaked out, his role was defended as that of a noninvolved concerned citizen with expert knowledge, and whose firm had no direct monetary stake in the outcome.

That was a lie.

Goldman Sachs was into AIG insurance policies for at least $20 billion, which is why the firm got that $12.8 billion while Paulson was in charge. It took six months for the embarrassing facts to finally come out. The bailout program was administered by Neel Kashkari, a former Goldman Sachs VP; why are we not surprised at that?

Another pretend innocent in all this is AIG's CEO Edward M. Liddy, famed defender of the $440,000 AIG executive retreat in Monarch Beach, Calif., held on the heels of the taxpayer bailout. His actions now are defended as mistakes made by a well-intentioned outsider who decided to work for a dollar a year after Paulson appointed him head of AIG. That is just garbage. >{? Liddy was complicit in Goldman Sachs' role in creating this mess. As a director of Goldman Sachs, he was paid $685,770 in 2007 and would have come in for some questioning if the firm had gone down. Liddy even headed its audit committee during the five years before he resigned that seat to take over AIG in September 2008. As for his salary sacrifice, not to worry; in 2005, when he was still CEO of Allstate Insurance, he received $26.7 million in compensation.

What we have here is a rare glimpse into the workings of the billionaires' club, that elite gang of perfectly legal loan sharks who, in only the most egregious cases, will be judged as criminals-Bernard Madoff, former chairman of NASDAQ, comes to mind. These other amoral sharks, who confiscated billions from shareholders and the 401(k) accounts of innocent victims, were rewarded handsomely, rarely needing to break the laws their lobbyists had purchased.
(c) 2009 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.

Editors Note: Victoria Stewart is on assignment

The Right Wing Weeps For The Rich
By Jim Hightower

Politicos and pundits on the right have resurrected an old bugaboo to hurl at Barack Obama's economic recovery efforts: Class War!

Even New York Times columnist David Brooks, the soft-spoken but steadfast defender of America's corporate powers, has recently reached for this political cudgel to pound Obama's budget. He wails that the tax burden to finance such big initiatives as universal health care and energy independence "is predicated on a class divide." Brooks expresses despair that "no new burdens will fall on 95 percent of the American people," adding with a cluck of the tongue that "all of the cost will be borne by the rich and all benefits redistributed downward."

Let us all now give a collective hug to the poor, put-upon rich, who for the past 30 years have been grabbing practically all of the financial gains generated in our economy, while the vast majority of folks have seen their real incomes decline. Then let us point out to Brother Brooks that such things as health care for all and a booming green economy actually will be of great benefit to everyone, including the rich.

Yet, the Times columnist condemns "promiscuous" redistributionists who want to spread the wealth. With a straight face, he cries out for a conservative vision of "a nation in which we're all in it together - in which burdens are all shared broadly, rather than simply inflicted on a small minority."

What planet has this guy been on the last couple of decades? This "small minority" he weeps for is the same bunch of elites who've created tax dodges, trade scams, deregulation fantasies, de-unionization schemes, financial hustles, and other mechanisms to redistribute wealth from workaday families to them.

It's about time the burden shifts upward - and the benefits of our economy become broadly shared.
(c) 2009 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.

Those Hit Hardest Get No Bailout
By Amy Goodman

Taxpayers' bailout money for AIG bonuses has rightfully provoked a massive backlash against AIG, Wall Street, President Barack Obama and his economic advisers, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Larry Summers. The U.S. public now owns 80 percent of AIG. The outrage is bipartisan: Iowa Republican Sen. Charles Grassley even suggested that AIG executives "resign or go commit suicide." New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo just released details on the bonuses, exposing AIG's ridiculous claim that they are "retention bonuses" aimed at keeping key employees, since 11 of those who received bonuses of $1 million or more are no longer employed by AIG.

These AIG millionaires may need to return their unearned millions (Congress may pass a tax law aimed just at them, taxing their bonuses at 100 percent). But will the outrage help those who have been hardest hit by the economic meltdown? Will the hundreds of millions of dollars in various stimulus packages and bailouts find its way to regular people who are trying to get by, or will it go only to corporations deemed "too big to fail," leaving behind millions of people who are, apparently, small enough to fail?

The Center for Social Inclusion has just issued a report on the economic meltdown and how best to solve the problem. It links race to the lack of opportunity and to the prevalence of the notorious subprime mortgages that triggered the economic crisis.

CSI Executive Director Maya Wiley told me, "We have to stimulate equality in order to stimulate the economy." Access to education, transportation, housing and a clean environment give people a firm footing to respond to crisis and to succeed. Noting that "shovel-ready" stimulus jobs in construction will disproportionately favor those who are already in that industry, predominantly white males, Wiley is pushing for "community benefits agreements for construction jobs [that] ensure when the government has construction contracts, low-income people, people of color, women, are going to have their fair share of those jobs." Since people of color are more likely to live far from available jobs and are less likely to have cars, Wiley says, "we must ensure that the way transportation dollars get spent go to transit ... to connect people who need jobs to the places where there are jobs."

The group United for a Fair Economy also highlights the racial wealth divide, noting that "24 percent of blacks and 21 percent of Latinos are in poverty, versus 8 percent of whites. In the corporate world, we are seeing the highest executive pay and the biggest bailouts in history. CEO pay is 344 times that of the average worker."

Prevailing wisdom posits that freeing up credit will save the economy, thus these huge banks need hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer bailouts. But the crisis was initially caused by defaults on subprime mortgages. One option at the outset would have been to support the distressed homeowners, helping them avoid foreclosure. Wiley points out that "35 percent of subprime mortgage holders were actually eligible for prime-rate loans. ... Most of those were people of color ... communities of color did not have fair access to credit."

The banks and the mortgage lenders pushed bad loans on poor and minority borrowers. The NAACP has just filed lawsuits against Wells Fargo and HSBC, alleging "systematic, institutionalized racism in subprime home mortgage lending."

The banks bundled the bad loans into securities and sold them, then created derivatives based on these securities that are impossible to understand, let alone value. AIG insured the investment banks against potential losses from these complex derivatives. The U.S. Treasury bailed out the banks along with AIG. AIG then paid out tens of billions of its bailout money to the very large banks that already received billions in bailout funds: Bank of America and Goldman Sachs. Yet, despite the hundreds of billions being siphoned off by these megabanks, we are told that the credit market is still frozen. Many European banks also received funds this way, including Swiss bank UBS, which offers secret bank accounts that allow the richest Americans to avoid taxes. In effect, beleaguered U.S. taxpayers are bailing out wealthy U.S. tax dodgers.

Obama has surrounded himself with financial advisers who are too cozy with Wall Street, like Summers and Geithner. It's time to direct the stimulus to the people who need it, to those whose tax dollars are funding it.
2009 Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!," a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 700 stations in North America. She has been awarded the 2008 Right Livelihood Award, dubbed the "Alternative Nobel Prize" from the Swedish Parliament.

GMO And Morgellon's Disease
By Barbara Peterson

Since we are currently facing the global takeover of our food supply by genetically modified organisms (GMO), I feel it is time to reprint my article on the link between GMO and Morgellon's Disease.

GMOs have been proven in independent tests to be harmful to life, yet our government has declared that they are substantially equivalent to normal food, and require no special handling or labeling. If we go to a grocery store and purchase anything that is processed, chances are it contains GMO. What are the ramifications of this to us on a personal health level? Why are we being used as human guinea pigs?

GMO and Morgellon's Disease

Since the Clinton administration made biotechnology "a strategic priority for U.S. government backing" giant transnational agri-business concerns have aggressively taken over the global food chain by flooding it with Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) without regard for the consequences to the earth or its inhabitants. This takeover not only has the potential for global economic devastation, but threatens the earth's population with far-reaching health concerns as well. One health concern that seems to coincide with the GMO revolution is Morgellons disease. What if the advent of Morgellons disease has something to do with the ingestion of GMO foods?

Morgellons Disease - What is it?

Very little can be found regarding this disease. Originally, sufferers were told that their problem was imaginary. This was of little comfort to the people who were suffering.

Morgellons Disease sufferers report strange, fiber-like material sticking out of sores or wounds that erupt on the skin. This is accompanied by painful, intense itching, that has been described as "an ever present sensation as if something is crawling under the skin."

On May 18, 2006, KGW, a local news channel reporting out of the Oregon area published this story:

Strange sickness: Mystery disease horror story (excerpt)

[Dr. Drottar] The disabled family practice doctor felt like bugs were crawling under her skin. "If I fully tell people what has gone on with me medically, they think they're in the twilight zone," said Drottar. She woke up with the feeling that fluid was flowing just below her skin. Often black or blue hair like fibers protruded from her skin, she said. "I thought I had been exposed to asbestos. I thought I was having asbestos fibers come out of my skin. I was pulling long, thin, small hair-like fibers that were extremely sharp that could literally pierce through my finger nails," Drottar said.

In addition to the feeling of bugs and the fibers, Drottar also suffered from severe depression, chronic fatigue and a weakened immune system. As a result, she had to give up her family practice, Drottar said. Here is a picture of a Morgellons lesion included in the KGW report:

[The Morgellons Research Foundation -
Fibers embedded in skin removed from
facial lesion of three year old boy, 60x.]

Morgellons and GMO - the Link

Little information has been revealed concerning the long-term health effects of GMO crops on humans or animals, and even less information can be had regarding research correlating Morgellons with GMO foods. This is suspicious right off the bat, because it would seem that there would be a natural curiosity regarding a link between Genetically Modified Organisms that people ingest regularly and inorganic fibers that protrude from a person's skin. This would be right up a geneticist's alley, and quite worthy of intensive research. So, why aren't there a ton of published studies? Why is it so difficult finding anything related to this? Could it be that companies such as Monsanto have enough clout to effectively squash these stories? If they have enough clout to ruin countries by deceiving impoverished farmers into purchasing patented GMO seeds, and then take it a step further and force these poor people to purchase seeds year after year instead of harvesting their own, then they have enough clout to ask our more than willing corporate government to manipulate the press...again.

According to Mike Stagman, PhD, "Genetic Engineering is a nightmare technology that has already caused MANY disease epidemics - documented but unpublicized."

Well Monsanto, you let at least one study slip through. With the help of a couple of search engines, the following article by Whitley Strieber published on October 12, 2007, titled "Skin Disease May Be Linked to GM Food" was found, which concludes that the fibers taken from a Morgellons sufferer contain the same substance that is "used commercially to produce genetically-modified plants." Here is the article:

Skin Disease May Be Linked to GM Food

Many people-and most physicians-have written off Morgellons disease as either a hoax or hypochondria. But now there is evidence that this mysterious disease may be REAL and related to GENETICALLY MODIFIED food!

The skin of Morgellons victims oozes mysterious strands that have been identified as cellulose (which cannot be manufactured by the human body), and people have the sensation of things crawling beneath their skin.

The first known case of Morgellons occurred in 2001, when Mary Leitao created a web site describing the disease, which had infected her young son. She named it Morgellons after a 17th century medical study in France that described the same symptoms.

In the Sept. 15-21 issue of New Scientist magazine, Daniel Elkan describes a patient he calls "Steve Jackson," who "for years" has "been finding tiny blue, red and black fibers growing in intensely itchy lesions on his skin." He quotes Jackson as saying, "The fibers are like pliable plastic and can be several millimeters long. Under the skin, some are folded in a zigzag pattern. These can be as fine as spider silk, yet strong enough to distend the skin when you pull them, as if you were pulling on a hair."

Doctors say that this type of disease could only be caused by a parasite, but anti-parasitic medications do not help. Psychologists insist that this is a new version of the well-known syndrome known as "delusional parasitosis." While this is a "real" disease, it is not a physically-caused one.

But now there is physical evidence that Morgellons is NOT just psychological. When pharmacologist Randy Wymore offered to study some of these fibers if people sent them to him, he discovered that "fibers from different people looked remarkably similar to each other and yet seem to match no common environmental fibers." When they took them to a police forensic team, they said they were not from clothing, carpets or bedding. They have no idea what they are.

Researcher Ahmed Kilani says he was able to break down two fiber samples and extract their DNA. He found that they belonged to a fungus.

An even more provocative finding is that biochemist Vitaly Citovsky discovered that the fibers contain a substance called "Agrobacterium," which, according to New Scientist, is "used commercially to produce genetically-modified plants." Could GM plants be "causing a new human disease?"

GMO - Not on My Watch!

The giant transnational corporations behind the GMO revolution are hitting us in our most vulnerable spot - our bellies. Most people have been brought up with an innate trust that what they purchase from the stores is safe to eat. This is no longer true, since most processed foods contain genetically engineered ingredients that can have disastrous effects on both animal and human health. What you purchase from the corner store might just change your DNA and create such frightening symptoms that the general public simply does not believe it. What is worse is that when you go to the doctor to get help, he/she tells you what you are experiencing is all in your head. This is rubbish! It is up to people who care to make the correlations between what we eat and what happens to our bodies. Remember the old saying - "you are what you eat?" Well, this author believes it is true.
(c) 2009 Barbara H. Peterson lives on a small ranch in Oregon with her husband, where they raise geese, chickens, Navajo Churro sheep, Oggie Dog, a variety of cats, and an opinionated Macaw named Rita. She believes that self-sufficiency and localization of food sources is necessary to survive the coming depression. To this end, she hopes that sharing information with others of like mind will lead to a brighter future where people reach out to each other and form small communities in which food is grown locally, and trade is established between neighbors.

A Continent Adrift
By Paul Krugman

I'm concerned about Europe. Actually, I'm concerned about the whole world - there are no safe havens from the global economic storm. But the situation in Europe worries me even more than the situation in America.

Just to be clear, I'm not about to rehash the standard American complaint that Europe's taxes are too high and its benefits too generous. Big welfare states aren't the cause of Europe's current crisis. In fact, as I'll explain shortly, they're actually a mitigating factor.

The clear and present danger to Europe right now comes from a different direction - the continent's failure to respond effectively to the financial crisis.

Europe has fallen short in terms of both fiscal and monetary policy: it's facing at least as severe a slump as the United States, yet it's doing far less to combat the downturn.

On the fiscal side, the comparison with the United States is striking. Many economists, myself included, have argued that the Obama administration's stimulus plan is too small, given the depth of the crisis. But America's actions dwarf anything the Europeans are doing.

The difference in monetary policy is equally striking. The European Central Bank has been far less proactive than the Federal Reserve; it has been slow to cut interest rates (it actually raised rates last July), and it has shied away from any strong measures to unfreeze credit markets.

The only thing working in Europe's favor is the very thing for which it takes the most criticism - the size and generosity of its welfare states, which are cushioning the impact of the economic slump.

This is no small matter. Guaranteed health insurance and generous unemployment benefits ensure that, at least so far, there isn't as much sheer human suffering in Europe as there is in America. And these programs will also help sustain spending in the slump.

But such "automatic stabilizers" are no substitute for positive action.

Why is Europe falling short? Poor leadership is part of the story. European banking officials, who completely missed the depth of the crisis, still seem weirdly complacent. And to hear anything in America comparable to the know-nothing diatribes of Germany's finance minister you have to listen to, well, Republicans.

But there's a deeper problem: Europe's economic and monetary integration has run too far ahead of its political institutions. The economies of Europe's many nations are almost as tightly linked as the economies of America's many states - and most of Europe shares a common currency. But unlike America, Europe doesn't have the kind of continent wide institutions needed to deal with a continent wide crisis.

This is a major reason for the lack of fiscal action: there's no government in a position to take responsibility for the European economy as a whole. What Europe has, instead, are national governments, each of which is reluctant to run up large debts to finance a stimulus that will convey many if not most of its benefits to voters in other countries.

You might expect monetary policy to be more forceful. After all, while there isn't a European government, there is a European Central Bank. But the E.C.B. isn't like the Fed, which can afford to be adventurous because it's backed by a unitary national government - a government that has already moved to share the risks of the Fed's boldness, and will surely cover the Fed's losses if its efforts to unfreeze financial markets go bad. The E.C.B., which must answer to 16 often-quarreling governments, can't count on the same level of support.

Europe, in other words, is turning out to be structurally weak in a time of crisis.

The biggest question is what will happen to those European economies that boomed in the easy-money environment of a few years ago, Spain in particular.

For much of the past decade Spain was Europe's Florida, its economy buoyed by a huge speculative housing boom. As in Florida, boom has now turned to bust. Now Spain needs to find new sources of income and employment to replace the lost jobs in construction.

In the past, Spain would have sought improved competitiveness by devaluing its currency. But now it's on the euro - and the only way forward seems to be a grinding process of wage cuts. This process would have been difficult in the best of times; it will be almost inconceivably painful if, as seems all too likely, the European economy as a whole is depressed and tending toward deflation for years to come.

Does all this mean that Europe was wrong to let itself become so tightly integrated? Does it mean, in particular, that the creation of the euro was a mistake? Maybe.

But Europe can still prove the skeptics wrong, if its politicians start showing more leadership. Will they?
(c) 2009 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

It's All Good
Media Reports for Duty as Militarists Plan More Wars
By Chris Floyd

Surely there is no one who still needs to be apprised of the fact that the New York Times is one of the chief organs of the American Empire, operating in a semi-official fashion to disseminate the intentions and wishes of our rulers. The fact that the paper also publishes some excellent reporting -- and can even, on occasion, assume an adversarial stance against one faction of the elite or another -- in no way undermines its essential function in the imperial power structure. After all, Pravda and Izvestia did the same under the Soviets.

[Of course, the dead hand of state censorship was heavier under the Soviets than in our ultra-modern, low-carb authoritarian system. We prefer witless diversion over outright repression, tasers over bullets, and the eager self-censorship of cozy, coddled media dullards over direct intervention by government functionaries -- although, to be sure, if repression, bullets and direct intervention (along with KGB-style torture, rendition, detention without trial, etc.) are deemed necessary, our elites are more than willing to oblige.]

But despite the glaring transparency of the NYT's stovepiping duties, it is still instructive to watch these operations in action now and then, if only to keep one's bullshit detector in fighting trim. And a story by Thom Shanker highlighted in the Times on Saturday provides an excellent example of this venerable and pernicious process.

The nugget of "news" in the story was unsurprising -- but its implications were no less disturbing for that. Shanker, in the usual cringing courtier mode of our higher media, funnels the usual unexamined, unquestioned spin of the usual anonymous "senior official" to let the rabble know that the poobahs on the Potomac are gearing up to fight even more wars simultaneously all over the globe. Specifically, what we have is -- as Shanker puts it in the inelegant prose that characterizes most NYT pieces - a "rethink [of] what for more than two decades has been a central premise of American strategy: that the nation need only prepare to fight two major wars at a time."

No, what we need now, says Shanker's Anonymous Militarist, is the ability to fight every damn body every damn where in every damn kind of way. Not just a two-front war, but three-front wars, four-front wars, counterinsurgencies, police actions, nation-building (with the preceding nation-destroying, of course), on and on, all at the same time.

Nowhere -- absolutely nowhere -- does the story give the slightest space for even the briefest consideration of a viewpoint that questions in even the mildest way the assumption that the United States should and must be prepared at all times to wage war on multiple fronts all over the world, forever. No, this "need" is simply a given -- for Thom Shanker, for the New York Times, and for the bipartisan Beltway elite.

But let's give credit where it's due. We should note that Shanker does not rely solely on the word of the anonymous Senior Pentagon Official in preparing the American people for decades of endless war. To provide some needed context and nuance on this issue, he also quotes two Serious Experts. Who are they? Try not to laugh when you hear.

One of them is Thomas Donnelly, the author of the report published in 2000 by the Cheney-Rumsfeld group Project for a New American Century, which we have detailed so often in these pages and elsewhere. The other is astroturf "liberal" Michael O'Hanlon - yes, the same Iraq warhawk who falsely painted himself as a progressive opponent of the Iraq War who had been "converted" to the noble cause by Bush's vaunted "surge." That's right: the "perspective" on the Administration's move to a multi-war strategy was provided by two ardent proponents of aggressive military intervention around the world.

Donnelly's PNAC report -- a blueprint followed faithfully by the Bush Administration -- openly yearned for a "new Pearl Harbor" that would "catalyze" the American people into adopting PNAC's global militarist agenda wholesale. The report also called for imposing an American military presence in Iraq -- even if Saddam Hussein were no longer on the scene. Here are some of the points of Donnelly's report on behalf of Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Jeb Bush, and other PNAC members. And remember, these were set down in September 2000 -- long before PNAC's longed-for "new Pearl Harbor" in September 2001; you know, the day that "changed the world" and has been used to justify the Terror War and the further militarization of American society. As we noted in the earlier PNAC piece, Donnelly, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al, called for:

--- Projecting American dominance with a "worldwide network of forward operating bases" - some permanent, others "temporary access arrangements" as needed for various military interventions - in the Middle East, Asia and Latin America. These additions to America's already-extensive overseas deployments would act as "the cavalry on the new American frontier" - a frontier that PNAC declared now extended throughout the world.

--- Withdrawing from arms control treaties to allow for the development of a global missile shield, the deployment of space-based weapons and the production of a new generation of "battlefield nuclear weapons," especially "bunker-busters" for penetrating underground fortifications.

--- Raising the U.S. military budget to at least 3.8 percent of gross domestic product, with annual increases of tens of billions of dollars each year.

--- Developing sophisticated new technologies to "control the global commons of cyberspace" by closely monitoring communications and transactions on the Internet.

--- Pursuing the development of "new methods of attack - electronic, 'non-lethal, new dimensions, in space, cyberspace and perhaps the world of microbes."

And note this point from the 2000 PNAC report:

--- Developing the ability to "fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theater wars." This means moving beyond the "two-war standard" of preparedness which has guided U.S. strategy since World War II in order to account for "new realities and potential new conflicts."

That earlier piece also had more about the mindset of this "expert" called in by the Times:

Donnelly, a former journalist and legislative aide, wrote in the journal Foreign Affairs last year that America should look to its "imperial past" as a guide to its future. Reviewing The Savage Wars of Peace, a pro-Empire book by journalist Max Boot, Donnelly cites approvingly the "pacification" of the Philippines by American forces in 1898-1900, in which at least 100,000 Filipinos were killed in a bid for independence. He also points to the U.S. Army's success in subduing the Native American tribes in a series of small wars, and, closer to our time, the efficient "constabulatory operation" in Panama, which was invaded by the first President Bush in 1989. Similar "savage wars of peace" - pacifications, counterinsurgencies, police actions, invasions - will be required to maintain the new American Empire, says Donnelly.

And here too, George W. Bush has clearly echoed the thinking of the PNAC members who now surround him in the White House. Speaking at a Republican fundraiser last August, the President seemed keenly aware of the heavy price in blood and treasure the nation will have to pay to maintain its imperium in the New American Century: "There's no telling how many wars it will take to secure freedom in the homeland."

This now has become the theme of the Obama Administration as it seeks "to develop the ability to 'fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theater wars.'" But what else to be expected from a new president who chose to retain the militarists' hand-picked Pentagon poobah - longtime Bush Family factotum Bob Gates - as head of the nation's war machine? This unprecedented action -- carrying over a Defense Secretary from the regime of a party vanquished at the polls - was entirely Obama's decision. Thus he is not being sandbagged or undermined or played by Bushist moles in the Pentagon, as many Obamalators like to believe; the people in the Pentagon now are there because the new president wants them to be there.

Donnelly, bless his heart, is admirably open about the assumptions behind the strategy shift, telling the NYT:

"We have to do many things simultaneously if our goal is to remain the ultimate guarantor of international security," Mr. Donnelly said. "The hedge against a rising China requires a very different kind of force than fighting an irregular war in Afghanistan or invading Iraq or building partnership capacity in Africa."

"The ultimate guarantor of international security": i.e., the old dream of global Pax Americana - with the world's nations in the same position vis-a-vis the "guarantor" as they were under the ultimate model for our militarists: the "Pax Romana" in days of yore. Of course, one of those old Romans had a better description of the reality of such guarantees of security. The historian Tacitus put it the mouth of a recipient of Rome's international security, the British chieftain Calgacus:

A rich enemy excites their cupidity; a poor one, their lust for power. East and West alike have failed to satisfy them.... To robbery, butchery, and rapine, they give the lying name of "government"; they create desolation and call it peace.

Creating a desolation and calling it peace is also high on the list for O'Hanlon, an incontinent quoter who is dragged out at every opportunity by the stovepipers to give "liberal" cred to their warlike designs. As we noted in August 2007 - in the midst of the escalation and "ethnic cleansing" operation in Iraq known as the "surge," O'Hanlon was prominent among the "liberal hawks" who were pushing the truly barbaric "solution" of partitioning Iraq into ethnic enclaves - by force, if need be. As noted below, another of these barbarians was the man Obama picked as his vice president: Joe Biden. (See original for all links):

The idea of a three-way split of Iraq between Sunnis, Shias and Kurds has long been mooted in some quarters -- Joe Biden and "liberal" intellectuals like Leslie Gelb and Peter Galbraith were early enthusiasts -- and it is now gaining force within the foreign policy "clerisy" that Glenn Greenwald and Arthur Silber have been dissecting in recent days. Firedoglake points us to the incisive commentaries of Reidar Visser, "an actual expert on the regional aspects of Iraq and its history," who has lately been debunking the deeply ignorant and murderously arrogant "partition" proposals of Galbraith and others.

Visser takes aim at one of the most hideous of these proposals: "The Case for Soft Partition in Iraq," by respected "scholars" Michael O'Hanlon (see A Tiny Revolution for more on this fine mind of our time) and Edward Joseph. When I first read of these gentlemen's work, I thought it must surely be a parody, a take-off on the deadly serious, genocidal fantasies of Philip Atkinson, who, on a website hardwired to the rightwing power grid of Frank Gaffney, James Woolsey and Dick Cheney, called for Bush to nuke Iraq, repopulate it with Americans and declare himself President-for-Life. The O-Hanlon-Joseph piece for the highly respectable Brookings Institution partakes of that same kind of murderous fantasy. As Visser notes:

...using cool academic language, the authors review the nuts and bolts of relocating somewhere between 2 and 5 million Iraqis in order to create new ethnic federal entities. Snippets from this part of the report probably speak best for themselves: "we advocate where possible dividing major cities along natural boundaries" (p. 16); "on the actual day of the relocation operation, Iraqi and US-led coalition forces would deploy in sufficient numbers to look for snipers, cover the flanks of the civilian convoys, inspect suspicious vehicles for explosives and conduct similar tasks" (p. 17); and finally, on p. 24, "this [internal border] control system would place some burdens on Iraq's internal trade and other aspects of its economy. It would complicate the efforts of individuals to cross from one region to another to visit family and friends. For the most part these burdens would be bearable. For individuals or businesses that need to make frequent crossings across Iraq's new internal borders, or those willing to pay for the privilege, an EZ pass system [sic] might be developed to expedite movements for those with important and regular business to conduct."

"On the actual day of the relocation operation...." Try to imagine such a day, when millions of Iraqis are uprooted and forced to move to other areas, all under guard by "Iraqi and US-led coalition forces." Actually it's not that hard to imagine, for we have seen it before: in faded photographs and newsreel footage and films like "The Sorrow and the Pity," "Shoah," and "Schindler's List." Less familiar in the popular imagination but perhaps even more apposite are the "relocations" of ethnic populations carried out by Josef Stalin, when whole peoples, such as the Chechens, were uprooted and transported by force to other regions. Or we could of course look closer to home, at the "Trail of Tears," the deadly removal of the Cherokee from their homelands to concentration camps in Oklahoma.

These kinds of scenes are precisely what the clean-limbed O'Hanlon and his partner envisage for Iraq, followed by a life ensnared by checkpoints and passes and internal border controls. It may sound harsh, brutal and inhuman, but not to worry: "For the most part these burdens would be bearable."

I have a suggestion for Mr. O'Hanlon. I propose that he subject himself to such a regimen, then come back and tell just us how "bearable" it is. He doesn't even have to move five million Iraqis under armed guard to participate in this experiment: he can go to Palestine right now, where the people already live under his kind of "soft partition." Let him try it on for himself, just for a few months -- not the lifelong sentence he proposes for the Iraqis. We can even give him an "EZ Pass" to expedite any "important business" he needs to do.

And so in the recent story, O'Hanlon - described by the Times as a "liberal-centrist" - is trotted out to put a positive, progressive spin on the multi-war plan. It's a "good start," he says, because the Bush-Obama war chief Bob Gates has said that other parts of the government need to pitch in more on the imperial project; the Pentagon can't run the world all on its own. At least, that's what I think O'Hanlon said. His "insight" is such mushy, think-tank wankery that it's hard to divine any genuine content in it. Like Shakespeare's malapropic Dogberry, O'Hanlon is "too cunning to be understood." Here's the quote:

"We have Gates and others saying that other parts of the government are underresourced and that the DoD should not be called on to do everything" Mr. O'Hanlon said. "That's a good starting point for this - to ask and at least begin answering where it might be better to have other parts of the government get stronger and do a bigger share, rather than the Department of Defense."

Whatever you say, Kev. But I sure hope you don't waste your next EZ Pass out of Gaza to dredge up boilerplate like this.

So there you have the considered, professional and, above all, serious analysis of the New York Times and its "experts." A strategy to commit the United States, and its cannon fodder - sorry, its citizens - to the service of a war machine capable of fighting endless, multi-level, violent conflicts simultaneously around the world does not occasion any demur, objection, pause for thought or - God forbid! - the slightest consideration that an ever-expanding, ever-meddling global empire of more than 700 military bases in 160 countries, and the aggressive foreign policy which put them there, might not be the best way to guarantee the peace and security of the American people. (Much less the bombed, droned, death-squadded and meddled-with targets of the strategy.)

No, when it comes to expanding American domination by force, menace, violence and death, our bipartisan courtiers and conduits of empire agree: It's all good!
(c) 2009 Chris Floyd

Keeping'em Home
Dear George,

Now I know how they do it!

For years I've wondered why Americans are such a docile lot. As the world economy collapses, there is marching in Europe, bonfires burning in front of Iceland's parliament building and rioting in China. Yet, even as General Motors plans to dump 47,000 workers, as people lose their homes and as the middle class head for the nearest soup kitchen, there's been nary a peep.

You see, George, in order to have a proper riot, people have to leave their houses. However, if they are too frightened to leave them, then no mob can form and, ergo! no riot or unseemly demonstration.

Then I stumbled across an article that mentioned a term used in psychology-availability heuristic. On the surface, the term seems to be another example of professional gobbledygook.

Believe me, it speaks volumes.

The article quoted an expert who explained, "Because we are constantly reminded, in the press, of threats from other people, we overestimate the chances of these events happening to us."

Let me give you an example. Some years ago, there was a spate of stories about car jackings, and for a time, carjacking was the media's "Threat of the Month." The incidents of carjacking had remained about the same, but the simple fact that the media had shined a spotlight on them created the impression in the public's mind that the threat was more eminent than it ever had been.

This is why the 24/7 cable news cycle is such an important instrument of social control. Nothing gives a threat gusto like a breathless anchor. And the threats are endless: terrorists, sexual predators stalking the internet for vulnerable children, illegal aliens stealing our jobs, drug dealers, youth gangs, assaults, rapes, robberies, homicides, defective products, tainted food, body odor and yellow teeth.

The beautiful thing is that this doesn't even have to be a conspiracy! A news channel runs a story about the latest non-threatening threat and notices an uptick in its rating. So, it continues to go with it and the practice spreads. The state is happy because a frightened public is a docile public that will stay home, glued to the television, so they can stay apprised of the latest threat to their wellbeing.

So, instead of a grand conspiracy to render our democratic polity impotent, we have another example of blind momentum that just happened to work out.

The goal is to keep the proles isolated and afraid so they don't coalesce into groups. Groups have a habit of engaging in debate and discussion that can lead for demands for democratic action. Democracy cannot provide the strong, leadership a world-class power needs. It is little more than mob rule. Granted, mobs can be brutal, but they are not capable of the systemic brutality essential for efficient leadership. No mob can call in an airstrike.

You can tell your cronies all is well on Main Street. The drones are all home watching television.

Your admirer,
Belacqua Jones
(c) 2009 Case Wagenvoord. Some years ago, Case Wagenvoord turned off the tube and picked up a book. He's been trouble ever since. His articles have been posted at The Smirking Chimp, Countercurrents and Dissident Voice. When he's not writing or brooding, he is carving hardwood bowls that have been displayed in galleries and shows across the country. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and two cats. His book, Open Letters to George W. Bush is available at

U.S.A. vs. Jamaica
By Mike Folkerth

Good Morning all of you Middle Class independent thinkers; your King of Simple News is on the air.

One wouldn't think that the U.S. would have a lot in common with a banana republic such as Jamaica...would you? The University of Maryland provided the following information about the Island nation to our southeast:

"The Jamaican economy is heavily dependent on services, which now account for more than 60% of GDP. The country continues to derive most of its foreign exchange from tourism, remittances, and bauxite/alumina. Remittances account for nearly 20% of GDP and are equivalent to tourism revenues.

Jamaica's economy, already saddled with the lowest economic growth in Latin America, will face increasing difficulties as the global economy slows. The economy faces serious long-term problems: a sizable merchandise trade deficit, large-scale unemployment and underemployment, and a debt-to-GDP ratio of almost 130%.

Jamaica's onerous debt burden - the fourth highest per capita - is the result of government bailouts to ailing sectors of the economy, most notably the financial sector in the mid-to-late 1990s, and hinders government spending on infrastructure and social programs as debt servicing accounts for nearly half of government expenditures.

Inflation rose sharply in 2008 as a result of high prices for imported food and oil and should fall in 2009 with the decline in international oil prices. High unemployment exacerbates the serious crime problem, including gang violence that is fueled by the drug trade. The GOLDING administration faces the difficult prospect of having to achieve fiscal discipline in order to maintain debt payments while simultaneously attacking a serious and growing crime problem that is hampering economic growth."

Huh, don't that beat all? The U.S. seems to have far more in common with Jamaica than I thought. "Heavily dependent on services," I suppose that is lot like our so called "service economy." Of course there is no such thing as a service economy, as Jamaica and the U.S. are both experiencing. There is however such a thing as a "servant economy." Hmmmm.

The article stated that Jamaica is, "already saddled with the lowest economic growth in Latin America." Heck, we have negative growth.

"Jamaica's onerous debt burden - the fourth highest per capita - is the result of government bailouts to ailing sectors of the economy, most notably the financial sector in the mid-to-late 1990s, and hinders government spending on infrastructure and social programs as debt servicing accounts for nearly half of government expenditures." Well, boy howdy, is that a coincidence or what?

"The GOLDING administration faces the difficult prospect of having to achieve fiscal discipline in order to maintain debt payments while simultaneously attacking a serious and growing crime problem that is hampering economic growth."

The last paragraph is definitely where we differ; we have the growing crime problems alright, but fiscal discipline? Give me a break, this is America not some puny island nation; there is no end to government spending in America. We have the Fed and the U.S. Treasury for goodness sakes.

So what happened to Jamaica? Growth without the accompanying resources and being dependent on tourism in a hurricane belt on an island that uses 71,420 barrels of oil per day and imports 70,000 of those barrels in a nation where per capita GDP is $4800, about sums it up.

It is difficult to comprehend macroeconomics and that is why there are places such as Jamaica that allow us to get a micro view of what will happen to the invincible United States as we hit warp speed on our collision course with reality.

Many are now thinking, "We're no Jamaica." And that would be correct; we only aspire to become Jamaica as the direction of our leadership demonstrates.

The U.S. currently has per capita GDP of $48,000, not $4800 such as Jamaica. That's right; we have a 100 times greater per person share of GDP than Jamaica. We borrow it. Of course, just like Jamaica, our per capita GDP figures can't be taken at face value.

Jamaica has 10.4% reported unemployment, so more than 10% of those folks have no share of GDP at all with the exception of welfare. The U.S. is currently doing their best to catch up and should hit 10% unemployment this year.

In the U.S., 20% of our population also controls about 80% of the money. That should give you some indication of what your actual share of GDP amounts to.

The U.S. uses about 20,000,000 barrels of oil per day and at present we import about 60% of that use. Your government's plan is to grow our economy and our population well beyond our resource capacity in order that your government can collect more taxes to sustain their high standard of living; much like Jamaica's government has done.

Wake up America, the train is leaving the station for the last time.
(c) 2009 Mike Folkerth is not your run-of-the-mill author of economics. Nor does he write in boring lecture style. Not even close. The former real estate broker, developer, private real estate fund manager, auctioneer, Alaskan bush pilot, restaurateur, U.S. Navy veteran, heavy equipment operator, taxi cab driver, fishing guide, horse packer...(I won't go on, it's embarrassing) writes from experience and plain common sense. He is the author of "The Biggest Lie Ever Believed."

The Quotable Quote...

"Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies."
~~~ Groucho Marx

Barack Obama, Meet Team B
By Scott Ritter

President Obama received a lesson in international gamesmanship last week, when his secret offer to trade the deployment of a controversial missile defense system in Eastern Europe for Russian assistance in getting Iran to back down from its nuclear program was publicly rebuffed. The lesson? You don't get something for nothing, especially when the something you're looking for is, itself, nothing.

If the members of the Obama administration would bother to take a stroll down memory lane, they might recall that once upon a time there was a document called the anti-ballistic missile treaty, signed in 1972 between the United States and the former Soviet Union, which recognized that anti-missile defense shields were inherently destabilizing, and as such should not be deployed. The ABM treaty represented the foundational agreement for a series of strategic arms limitation and arms reduction agreements that followed. President Obama was 10 years old when that treaty was signed. He was 40 years old when President George W. Bush withdrew from it, in December 2001, and set in motion a series of events that saw arms control between the U.S. and Russia completely unravel. The proposed U.S. missile defense shield, to be deployed in Poland and the Czech Republic, had the Russians talking about scrapping the INF treaty (which eliminated two classes of nuclear-armed ballistic missiles that threatened Europe) and deploying highly accurate SS-21 "Iskander" missiles within striking range of the proposed Polish interceptor site.

Russia did not create the missile defense system crisis. The United States did, and, as such, cannot expect to suddenly receive diplomatic credit when it puts this controversial program on the foreign policy gaming table as if it were a legitimate chip to be bargained away.

Russia has always, correctly, claimed that any missile defense system deployed in Eastern Europe can only be directed at Russia. While both the Bush and Obama administrations denied that was the case, Poland has all but admitted its concerns are not about missiles coming from Tehran, but rather missiles coming from Moscow. The American "sweetener" for a potential Polish loss of a missile shield is to offer Poland advanced Patriot surface-to-air missiles, whose intended target is clearly not a Persian missile which cannot reach Polish soil, but rather Russian missiles and aircraft which can.

There are three basic facts that the Obama administration needs to address, but as of yet has not: First, missile defense systems are inherently destabilizing and only contribute to the acquisition of offensive counters designed to defeat those defenses. Second, the rapid expansion of NATO in the past decade has in fact threatened Russia. And third, the Iranian missile "threat" to Europe has always been illusory.

The proposed U.S. missile defense shield in Eastern Europe has been a highly flawed concept from its very inception. Although it used unproven technology, it was sold as a means of protecting Europe from a threat that did not exist (Iranian missiles), while creating the conditions for exposing Europe to a real threat that the missile defense shield was incapable of defeating (Russian missiles). The fact that Obama would put the missile defense shield up for trade as part of a "Grand Bargain" with Russia on Iran only underscores how little value the system has to begin with. It is a big zero, both from a military and diplomacy perspective. Obama, in making it part of his bargain, was trying to give it value it lacked, and the Russians weren't buying.

The Iranian situation is far too real, but not in terms of the dangers posed by anything Iran itself is doing. The United States has not helped matters by hyping the threat posed by nonexistent Iranian missiles targeting Europe and capable of carrying nonexistent nuclear warheads. Russia has expressed a desire to work with the United States to better control Iran's program of uranium enrichment, which Iran and the nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), state has been clearly demonstrated as part of a peaceful nuclear energy program. For Russia to buy into Obama's "deal," it would have to buy into a threat from Iran's missile and nuclear programs, a threat Russia does not believe to exist.

Obama would do well to call in his national security team and have it lay out the intelligence information used to assert the Iranian threat. There must be such a foundational document, since Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen and the president himself all have repeatedly referred to the "threat" posed by Iran's "nuclear weapons" ambitions. It is important to distinguish between what we know and what we think we know. For instance, we know that Iran does not have any highly enriched uranium, the kind needed to produce a nuclear weapon. Just ask Adm. Dennis Blair, the director of national intelligence. This is what he told the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee this week in testimony on Iran. And yet many in the U.S. intelligence community continue to state unequivocally that Iran is on the verge of possessing a nuclear weapon.

Obama should take each assertion put forward about Iran's nuclear ambition and then reverse-engineer the underlying factual basis for making that assertion. If he did so, he would quickly find that he and his advisers know less about Iran than they think they do. The entire U.S. case against Iran is built on supposition and speculation. If the president disassembled the speculative assertions, he would find them cobbled together from an ideologically motivated methodology designed more to justify a policy of containing and undermining Iran's theocracy than understanding its nuclear ambitions.

Obama ought to reacquaint himself with the 1972 ABM treaty and the case of the CIA versus "Team B." This chapter of America's failed arms control policy unfolded from 1975-1976, during the administration of Gerald Ford. Once upon a time, there was a Soviet Union, and a Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States. In an effort to prevent the Cold War from becoming a "hot war," the two powers launched arms control initiatives, packaged as part of a larger East-West detente, to better manage the escalation of an arms race derived from Cold War tensions. It was critical in this effort to have an accurate understanding of not only the physical reality of Soviet strategic weapons programs, but also their intent. The CIA produced a report that addressed these issues, National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) 11-3/8-74, "Soviet Forces for Intercontinental Conflict Through 1985."

The benign picture painted by the CIA's estimate of Soviet strategic capability clashed with ideologues in and out of government who were pushing for U.S. defense programs that could not be justified if the CIA's estimates were allowed to stand. Rather than confront the facts of the CIA's estimates, these ideologues instead assaulted the methodology used to determine them. Political pressure was brought to bear on President Ford by conservative opponents of detente to prepare a "Team B" of analysts (outside ideologues) who would challenge the conclusions put forward in the CIA estimate by "Team A" (the CIA's own staff). "Team B" didn't produce better facts (indeed, every one of its assertions was proved to be wrong), but it did produce better fear. Its claims about Soviet intentions and capabilities, highly inflated and inaccurate, were political dynamite that could not be ignored, especially in the politically charged presidential election year of 1976. "Team B" won out over "Team A," and the foundation was set for not only the dismantling of U.S.-Soviet detente, but also for the biggest arms race in modern history, culminating in the destruction of the very agreements designed to constrain such an escalation.

Obama should acquaint himself with the story of "Team B," because "Team B" exists today, propagating myths about an Iranian "threat" that are analogous to those employed by the team that sold the fable of the Soviet "threat." The new president was critical of the Iraq war, and the sad tale of misinformation and deception that has since been repackaged as an "intelligence failure." There was no "failure" because there was no "intelligence." "Team B" doesn't produce intelligence, but rather ideological assertions used as justification for policy. The same "Team B"-based methodologies which gave us the Iraq assertions about WMD programs are in play today in the Iran "intelligence" used by President Obama and his national security team.

Obama might be surprised that one of the programs being sold by "Team B" in its assault on truth was a missile defense shield to counter the team's perception of a Soviet missile threat. The falsehoods and fabrications sold by "Team B" back in the 1970s set America on the path toward the withdrawal from the ABM treaty in 2001, and the proposed deployment of the very missile defense shield Obama is trying to bargain away to get Russia to help confront an Iranian "threat" manufactured by none other than "Team B."

Secretary of State Clinton impressed many when she spoke of the need for America to embrace "smart power." The implication of her words was that the United States, under President Obama, would use all the tools available, especially diplomacy, in seeking to solve the myriad problems it faces around the world in the post-Bush era, including the problem of Iran. But one cannot begin to solve a problem unless one first accurately defines the problem, for without that definition the "solution" would in fact solve nothing. Any solution to the problem of Iran must be derived from an accurate intelligence picture of what is transpiring inside the country today, one drawn more from fact than ideologically based fiction. Obama is advised to challenge the totality of the current U.S. intelligence used to define Iran as a threat, and purge once and for all the corrupting ideological "Team B" holdovers who still reside within the structure of the American intelligence community. Intelligence is never about hearing what you want to hear, but rather about learning what you need to know.

Obama needs to learn the truth about Iran, and about the proposed missile defense system in Europe. This truth would be inconvenient, but it would also liberate him to develop meaningful solutions to serious problems in a manner that avoids a repeat of his embarrassing "Grand Bargain" gambit with Russia, trying to trade nothing for nothing in an effort to certify something for nothing. There are a lot of "zero sums" in that equation, which pretty much sums up Obama's Iran and Russia policies to date.
(c) 2009 Scott Ritter a former Marine Corps intelligence officer, was a chief inspector for the United Nations Special Commission in Iraq from 1991 until 1998. He is the author of several books; "Target Iran," with a new afterword by the author, was recently released in paperback by Nation Books.

Reasons To Be Cheerful
By Ted Rall

NEW YORK--It's the end of the world as we know it and, while I can't say I exactly feel fine, it's all too easy to dwell on the downward spiral of our job prospects and 401(k)s. Even in the midst of economic collapse (possibly presaging political disintegration and ultimately social chaos), there's cause for optimism. And so, in the same spirit of contrarianism that drove me to declare the boom economy of the late 1990s a sham we'd all live to regret, here are nine good reasons not to kill yourself over the economic meltdown:

1. Bushies Will Pay. President Obama is inclined to "look forward as opposed to looking backwards" when it comes to investigating Bush and his minions for torture, war crimes and spying on Americans. Fortunately, one of Obama's first acts as president ensures the bastards will probably get what they deserve.

Obama has ordered government agencies to revitalize the Freedom of Information Act, which requires that declassified government records be released to the public. Under Bush, the flow of documents slowed to a trickle. New FOIA requests will enjoy "a clear presumption" that "in the face of doubt, openness prevails." Investigative journalists will now be able to use FOIA to uncover Bush Administration officials' nefarious deeds, forcing Obama's Justice Department to prosecute.

Should they waterboard Rumsfeld? Only if it's on pay-per-view.

2. Conservatives Are Discredited. Your fat chain-smoking doctor may give you good advice, but will you heed it? So it is with Republicans. They're right about Obama's fiscal stimulus plan: it won't do much to help the economy and will drive the deficit even higher. But no one's listening. "Most of the people who are complaining about Obama's fiscal irresponsibility today uttered not a peep of complaint about Bush," writes John Chait in The New Republic. America needs a loyal opposition.

But the Republicans aren't cut out for that role. The collapse of free-market capitalism calls for a dramatic realignment. This new political landscape should place Obama's ideas on the right, with new parties emerging to his left. The Republican Party, obsessed with gay marriage and flag burning and school prayer, was always an irrelevant distraction. Now everyone knows.

3. Heck of a Job, Barry. After three insanely wasteful false starts, Obama is finally on the right track vis-a-vis the mortgage crisis. His economic team still doesn't get that what we need is "trickle up"--bailing out homeowners means banks get paid and toxic assets get revalued--but they're getting there.

Thank God, it's finally possible for squeezed homeowners to refinance their mortgages before getting foreclosed upon or, as was required previously, messing up their credit by missing two payments. "If you can illustrate that your income is no longer enough to meet your mortgage payment--because your paycheck shrunk, your expenses rose or your mortgage is about to reset to a higher payment--you may qualify," reports The New York Times. About time.

4. Retail is dead. Long live retail. Big retail outlets like Circuit City and Virgin Megastore are going out of business, leaving tens of millions of square feet of commercial space vacant and tens of thousands of workers unemployed. Granted, the reasons for some of these closures are kind of dumb. Virgin's store in New York's Times Square, the highest-volume music outlet in the nation, earned $6 million a year in profit. But because Virgin only paid $54 a square foot at a location where the going rate was $700, they were kicked out in favor of a women's clothier, Forever 21, that analysts say probably won't last either. Stupid.

Nevertheless, this nascent Depression will no doubt repeat the historical formula that favors smaller stores over big ones. Those of us who mourned the loss of mom-and-pop hardware stores and their individualized service and community ties may live to see them again.

5. Small Big-City Newspapers. When there's talk of losing an iconic powerhouse like The San Francisco Chronicle, you know the model of the traditional big-city paper, employing hundreds of union-represented reporters working out of a big hulk smack in the middle of downtown, is in trouble. But there's still a future in print. Why? Because that's still where the money--subscribers willing to pay for news and advertisers eager to reach them--are. And because people need reliable originally-reported info (yes, I'm talking about you, bloggers).

Look for new, lean and mean dailies to spring from the ashes, mixing the stripped-down content of free commuter dailies like The Washington Examiner with the low-budget staffing of alternative weeklies. Hire 30 or 40 people (most of whom type their stories at home), buy a lot of syndicated and wire service content, rent a tiny editorial office in the slums, and voila! The rebirth of print.

6. Culture Gets Cool Again. American fiction peaked in the 1930s, rock music while riding the economic rollercoaster of the 1970s. The roaring 1990s weren't so awesome. Historians say there's an inverse relationship between the vitality of popular culture--movies, music, literature--and the economy. (So the Bush years were fiscally sound. Hm.) Rising unemployment, furloughs and decreased business activity give people more time to be creative. Where stability ossifies, uncertainty inspires. Even contemporary art, competing with the fashion industry for the title of most vacuous, could conceivably stage a comeback.

7. Tough Times Are Interesting. My mom grew up in Nazi-occupied France. As you'd expect, it sucked--a fact that she constantly reminded me of via incessant hair-raising stories over the years. Recently, however, she had an epiphany. "It was hard," she said, "but they were exciting times." If you survive the meltdown, you'll dine out on your tales of fear and deprivation for the rest of your life.

8. Rich People Still Have Money. Where would you invest your money if you were rich? Savings accounts are a joke. The stock market has lost over 50 percent of its mid-2008 value. Foreign markets are worse off than ours. Real estate? Don't even start. If you had money, there'd be only one logical place to park it: in a new business. Venture capital will plant the seeds for the next wave of employers.

9. Everything Could Go To Hell. If all else fails and numbers one through eight fail to materialize, Rush Limbaugh could get his way. Obama could fail. The United States could collapse. Our economy could evaporate. Which would be OK, too. Because if everything goes to hell, we will enjoy a rare opportunity to transform our society and economic system from one that works for a few to one that benefits everyone.
(c) 2009 Ted Rall is the author of the new book "Silk Road to Ruin: Is Central Asia the New Middle East?" an in-depth prose and graphic novel analysis of America's next big foreign policy challenge.)

The Dead Letter Office...

Mark shows how much
he can take anally.

Heil Obama,

Dear Gouverneur Sanford,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution, your refusal of stimulus funds for the unemployed will lead to riots of starving South Carolinians allowing us to declare Martial Law, Iraq and these 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, first class, with diamond clusters presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 05-23-2009. We salute you Herr Sanford, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

The Success Of Drug Decriminalization In Portugal
By Glenn Greenwald

In 2001, Portugal became the only EU-member state to decriminalize drugs, a distinction which continues through to the present. Last year, working with the Cato Institute, I went to that country in order to research the effects of the decriminalization law (which applies to all substances, including cocaine and heroin) and to interview both Portuguese and EU drug policy officials and analysts (the central EU drug policy monitoring agency is, by coincidence, based in Lisbon). Evaluating the policy strictly from an empirical perspective, decriminalization has been an unquestionable success, leading to improvements in virtually every relevant category and enabling Portugal to manage drug-related problems (and drug usage rates) far better than most Western nations that continue to treat adult drug consumption as a criminal offense.

On April 3, at 12:00 noon, at the Cato Institute in Washington, I'll be presenting the 50-page report I wrote for Cato, entitled Drug Decriminalization in Portugal. Following my presentation, a supporter of drug criminalization laws -- Peter Reuter, a Professor in the University of Maryland's Department of Criminology -- will comment on the report (and I'll be able to comment after that), and then there will be a Q-and-A session with the audience. The event is open to the public and free of charge. Details and registration are here at Cato's site, where the event can also be watched live online (and, possibly, on C-SPAN).

There is clearly a growing recognition around the world and even in the U.S. that, strictly on empirical grounds, criminalization approaches to drug usage and, especially, the "War on Drugs," are abject failures, because they worsen the exact problems they are ostensibly intended to address. "Strictly on empirical grounds" means excluding from the assessment: (a) ideological questions regarding the legitimacy of imprisoning adults for consuming drugs they choose to consume; (b) the evisceration of Constitutional and civil liberties wrought by drug criminalization; and (c) the extraordinary sums of money devoted to the War on Drugs both domestically and internationally.

Very recent events demonstrating this evolving public debate over drug policy include the declaration of the Drug War's failure from several former Latin American leaders; a new Economist Editorial calling for full-scale drug legalization; new polls showing substantial and growing numbers of Americans (and a majority of Canadians) supportive of marijuana legalization; the decision of the DEA to make good on Obama's campaign pledge to cease raids on medical marijuana dispensaries in states which have legalized its usage; and numerous efforts in the political mainstream to redress the harsh and disparate criminal penalties imposed for drug offenses, including Obama's support for treatment rather than prison for first-time drug offenders.

Particularly in the U.S., there is still widespread support for criminalization approaches and even support for the most extreme and destructive aspects of the "War on Drugs," but, for a variety of reasons, the debate over drug policy has become far more open than ever before. Portugal's success with decriminalization is highly instructive, particularly since the impetus for it was their collective recognition in the 1990s that criminalization was failing to address -- and was almost certainly exacerbating -- their exploding, poverty-driven drug crisis. As a consensus in that country now recognizes, decriminalization is what enabled them to manage drug-related problems far more effectively than ever before, and the nightmare scenarios warned of by decriminalization opponents have, quite plainly, never materialized.

The counter-productive effects of drug criminalization are at least as evident now for the U.S. as they were for pre-decriminalization Portugal. Beyond one's ideological beliefs regarding the legitimacy of criminalization, drug policy should be determined by objective, empirical assessments of what works and what does not work. It's now been more than seven years since Portugal decriminalized all drugs, and dispassionately examining the effects of that decision provides a unique opportunity to assess questions of drug policy in the most rational and empirical manner possible.
(c) 2009 Glenn Greenwald. was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book "How Would a Patriot Act?," a critique of the Bush administration's use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, "A Tragic Legacy," examines the Bush legacy.

Why I'm Planting A Garden
By Shirley Braverman

In 1947, two years after world war II ended there were 20 million small gardens in the United States. They provided 40% of the produce in the American Diet. The gardens started during the depression. During the war, they were called "Victory Gardens." Even the first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, had a garden.

I grew up in a garden; we grew tomatoes and zucchini. By age seven, I knew how to remove the suckers from the tomato vines, how to pull weeds and how to pinch off the multiple yellow blossoms. Blossoms had to be 4 inches from each other to get the largest fruits.

The people in Kirkwood, Missouri liked large tomatoes and zucchinis. When the depression started in 1929, the city fathers' got together and declared that "No one in Kirkwood would go hungry." They organized the town and, "though," as my grandfather said, "the whole damn town of 18, 000 didn't have $500 between them," no one went hungry.

Next door to me was the lettuce lady. In her flowerpots, she grew all the lettuces, spinach, chards and greens. She used flowerpots to keep the snails and caterpillars off her plants. When we wanted to make sandwiches or a salad, my mother would send me off with a scissors to Mrs. Ball's house and I would carefully snip off the outer leaves and bring them home to wash and put on the sandwich or in the salad. The shortest food chain in the world. I never saw lettuce in a ball 'till I was a teenager and a supermarket came to town. What's more, Mrs. Ball just loved my tomatoes and zucchini. I was so proud when I took them to her. They were my greatest accomplishments in my young life. Across the street was the onion lady. She grew every onion, chive, shallot and garlic known to mankind at the time. She sprouted them in her basement and people picked them up for their own gardens in the spring. Grandpa Van raised chickens and rabbits and had fruit trees - apples, apricots and a cherry tree that was in the back of the chicken yard. Every time a cherry fell off the tree, the chickens would race over to eat it. Gustof Franks had the two cows and we traded him eggs for milk and butter.

No one threw anything away. Table scraps and other uneaten food would go in the "slop" bucket. Neighbors came by and threw them to the chickens while they picked up a few eggs. The tops of carrots and lettuce scraps and greens went to the rabbits.

There was a trading system. A basket of apples could be traded for a skinned rabbit or a basket of grapes or apricots. An apple pie could be traded for milk or eggs. Another man grew corn. He had about 10 rows and he cracked some for my grandfather to feed to the chickens. He also gave it to the women who headed the canning committee. For his fresh corn, he could get canned peaches, applesauce, canned corn, potatoes or apricot syrup. Oh yes, we had potato people. They had raised beds and raised potatoes better than any I've ever tasted in my life. And there were peas, beans, and herbs. Everyone grew something, raised something and traded something. My other grandfather, although a natural stone quarryman, also kept beehives. A pint of honey went a long way in trade, as did a full honeycomb. Once every two months our butcher would take some meat or fish: pig, calf, chickens or rabbits into Saint Louis and trade for salt, flour, coffee, paraffin and soap.

And then there was hunting. The men went hunting on Saturday and whatever they shot, quail, rabbits, possum or deer, was eaten on Sunday. There was also the Merrimac and Mississippi river to fish in. Catfish, Sunfish, and Perch. They could be traded for canned fruits, vegetables, eggs, you name it.

I don't think I ate an orange till I was almost twelve, after the war, and I marveled at this miraculous fruit, and then I was even more astounded with bananas. I was so used to this culture that after the war when I heard that the Greeks and the Russians and the Chinese were starving, I wondered, innocently why they didn't plant gardens. Even today, when I hear that one in 8 children goes to school hungry, when I hear pleas for food donations for the poor, I wonder why we don't have community gardens. Instead of talking on phones or watching TV or playing video games, couldn't the children use their energy to weed the garden and harvest the food?

So, plant a garden and tell your neighbor to plant a garden and share. Mobile Home Parks and Apartment Complexes could create community gardens. Why waste the gas to have your tomatoes shipped in from California or Mexico when they can be grown just as easily in your backyard and taste much better picked off the vine.

They say dark days lie ahead for the economy. But, whatever happens, we don't have to go hungry. We can feed ourselves. Come on my Beloved Country, let's get organized. Let's start digging. Let's do something economically beneficial, wonderful, brilliant and powerful. Let's all plant gardens.

(c) 2009 Shirley Braverman is 77 years young, and was a nurse for 25 years. She used to write health articles until the editors just wanted her to rave about whatever their advertisers were hawking at the time. She watches for the newly developing diseases and watches in fear as TB and MARSA spread like wildfire and no one pays attention. She saw Morgellon's a while ago and it scared her. She has 8 grandkids and worries about them. She is starting gardening projects to help. This is her first community article to go in the mobile home parks newsletters.

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Gary Varvel ~~~

W the Movie Official Trailer

To End On A Happy Note...

A Lot to Drink About
By Jimmy Buffett

Up on the East side of Manhattan,
They're still dancing with the stars.
While over in sub prime city,
It's getting angry in the local bars
Watching the news only gives me the blues
There's too much going wrong.
It takes the likes of me to hit the reboot key
and write a high speed drinking song.

Millionaires losing everything.
Hey, welcome to the other side of life!
There goes the yacht, there goes the Rolls,
But, you get to keep your wife!
And don't forget the automakers
swimming up stream like a trout.
They let the shi* hit the fan
and then they made a plan
We've got a lot to drink about.

It's the price of oil,
the war of the spoils.
Where's your bucket for the big bailout?
Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan,
We've got a lot to drink about.

Now, Madoff made off with all the money.
Now his clients are down to skunk weed.
Repeat after me, it's so easy to see
We're only talking simple greed.
And those Somalian pirates are counting all the gold.
While Bush and Cheney ain't around
and all the good lookers seem to be Czech hookers
from Key West to London town.

It's the price of oil,
the war of the spoils.
Where's your bucket for the big bailout?
Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan,
We've got a lot to drink about.

So pour me some Tennessee whiskey,
pour me a fine Jamaican rum.
That loud mouth soup
gets me kind of looped
Tequila, of course I'll have some!

Now the family devalues
and little children count their net worth
and the truth wherever it's hiding,
can be found on Google Earth.
Citibank's buying jets with our money.
I wanna flog 'em with a buggy whip.
I hope Obama and Joe won't let the volcano blow
and patch the hole in our sinking ship.

It's the price of oil,
the war of the spoils.
Here's your bucket for the big bailout?
Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan,
We've got a lot to drink about.

Recession, Depression, the question good God
CNN keeps bumming me out.
I can't take another doomsday moment.
We got a lot to drink, a lot to think,
a lot to drink about.
(c) 2009 Jimmy Buffett

Have You Seen This...

The Zeitgeist Movement: Orientation Presentation

Parting Shots...

Redcoat Holdouts Still Fighting American Revolution

GREAT BROOK FARM STATE PARK, MA-In a surprising development that has confirmed a number of longstanding local rumors, authorities discovered the 32nd Regiment of His Majesty's Royal British Army still fighting the Revolutionary War in a small wooded area outside of Carlisle, MA Monday.

The disoriented foot soldiers-who in the spring of 1776 survived a barrage of Patriot cannon fire at Dorchester Heights only to become lost during the subsequent British retreat-were found by park rangers marching in the direction of a nearby Price Chopper supermarket.

"Keep ye muskets at the ready, men," Col. Edmund Thorpe of Leicestershire was heard shouting to his troops as they prepared to cross an empty stretch of Route 225, which Thorpe claimed was a primary gunpowder supply route. "There is danger in this valley, for the traitorous coward Washington and his militia are said to camp just beyond that ridge."

Area folklore and occasional reports from nearby RV parks have for years suggested the presence of a ragged, hardy band of British soldiers still remaining from the Revolutionary War. But what was once dismissed as legend has now been verified by Walter Carp of the Merrimac Valley Historical Society, who identified the 32nd Regiment after watching its members struggle to scale a razor-wire fence near a local recycling center.

"That's them, all right-the old 32nd," Carp said. "They fought valiantly at Breed's Hill, but they never seemed to have the right coordinates when it came time to track an enemy. Looks like they might be a little worse for wear, the poor fellows."

One of several Redcoat campfires recently discovered in the Carlisle area.

The regiment's last mention in historical records came in March 1776, when the soldiers garrisoned a small fort near the Concord River and awaited orders from Gen. William Howe, then commander in chief of British forces. Though regiment scout James Winthrop reportedly estimates that Howe is no more than 80 kilometers from their location, public records indicate the general has been in London since his burial there in 1814.

"Howe cannot be far," said Winthrop, pointing to a faded map sketched on worn hemp paper. "No more than a fortnight away."

After receiving intelligence on the foreign military unit, the Pentagon immediately dispatched F-15s from the 104th Fighter Wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, but the planes were called off after British foreign secretary David Miliband assured officials that the redcoats did not represent the United Kingdom.

While the 32nd Regiment's numbers have dwindled over the past two centuries due to illness and desertion, the remaining holdouts have vowed to continue fighting until the colonists' siege of Boston is repelled. They then plan to rendezvous with the King's 14th Regiment at Fort Ticonderoga, near the current site of the Diamond Run Shopping Mall, to restock on hardtack and tobacco.

"'Tis been a long and bitter struggle with our foolhardy American cousins," 2nd Lt. Henry Bertram said during a brief pipe break near the soccer field of Washington Elementary School. "Dearly do I miss my fair wife, Abigail, and our precious babe, Elizabeth, safe at home in Leicestershire. Why, my daughter must be tall as a barrel by now!"

Having survived the brutal winters of 1831, 1907, and 1999, most members of the regiment appear to believe that the worst stretch of the war is over, and that a full surrender of all colonial militias to the Royal Army is imminent. However, after spotting a number of new outposts last week in the growing Colonial Estates subdivision west of Boston, some have argued that the Americans may in fact be making gains.

"Fie on your childish speculations," said Col. Thorpe, responding to growing concerns in his ranks. "I will not have this regiment torn asunder by such cowardly prattle. Somewhere in the Province of Massachusetts Bay there is a loyal countryman in whose farmhouse we can tarry for a night. Once rested, we shall strike a final blow to the treasonous Yankees."

Added Thorpe, "By God, the jewel of the His Majesty's crown shan't be lost!" The last reported sighting of the 32nd Regiment occurred in January, when a number of Carlisle locals claimed to have seen the redcoats loitering in or around their backyards.

"I saw some old guys in funny costumes messing around near my toolshed about a month ago," said Bay State Electronics Supply employee Jim Hicks, 45. "But when I flicked on the porch lights they ran back into the woods."

Local law enforcement officials said the soldiers are now considered suspects in a string of unsolved garden burglaries that began in 1838, as well as in the 2003 deaths of five Revolutionary War reenactors near Lowell, MA.

The Centers for Disease Control is investigating whether the regiment may also be responsible for the recent deaths of several thousand New England residents from smallpox.
(c) 2009 The Onion

The Gross National Debt

Zeitgeist The Movie...

Issues & Alibis Vol 9 # 12 (c) 03/20/2009

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