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In This Edition

Jon Boone reveals, "US Army 'Kill Team' In Afghanistan Posed For Photos Of Murdered."

Uri Avnery considers, "A Dirty Word."

David Sirota discovers, "Mad Scientists Run Laboratories Of Democracy."

Randall Amster sees, "Ominous Clouds."

Jim Hightower reminds us, "Don't Mess With Librarians."

Helen Thomas examines, "A New McCarthy?"

James Donahue wonders, "Does Water Have Consciousness?"

Robert Reich explains, "Why Governor LePage Can’t Erase History."

Chris Floyd reports on, "First Blood."

Bill McKibben returns with, "Reliably, Irredeemably Wrong."

Paul Krugman watches, "The War On Warren."

Chris Hedges follows, "The Body Baggers Of Iraq."

Robert Scheer says, "Be Consistent—Invade Saudi Arabia."

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels wins the coveted "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Ralph Nader foretells a, "Nuclear Nightmare."

Christopher Ketcham joins us with, "No Laws, No Secrets."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Will Durst finds, "Madness In Madtown" but first, Uncle Ernie sez, "It's Six Wars And Counting!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Mike Luckovich, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Derf City, Judy Taylor, Lee Hudge, Mr. Fish, Waging Nonviolence, Der Spiegel, Associated Press, Harvard University, Warner Brothers, Walt Disney, You Tube.Com and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

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

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

It's Six Wars And Counting!
By Ernest Stewart

"I don't oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war...." ~~~ President Barack Obama

"The administration may be proud of being “pro-choice” when it comes to abortion, but they’re anti-choice when it comes to consumer items including light bulbs, refrigerators, toilets, you name it." ~~~ U.S. Senator Rand Paul

"There is a small minority who believes America does not have the right to trust in God, who believes the United States should not affirm trust in God, and who actively seek to remove any recognition of that trust." ~~~ Con-gressman J. Randy Forbes

Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being round.
Help me, get my feet back on the ground,
Won't you please, please help me, help me, help me, ooooooooh
Help ~~~ The Beatles.

Our Nobel Peace Prize Laureate has started yet another war, that makes six hot ones, i.e., Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya, and who knows, maybe 50 secret ones? Remember: this is a man who came to power on the promise to end our war crimes and crimes against humanity, and has instead created them on an even bigger scale than what Bush and Cheney ever dreamed of! Even Hitler and Stalin are shaking their heads asking, "How the hell does he get away with that?"

The first barrage of missiles saw 136 cruise missiles launch into Libyan points of interest (all but 8 were fired by us), army bases and planning headquarters, radar sites and such. The trouble is, that a lot of those sites were inside cities and towns full of frightened, cowering innocent, men, women and children which the military smirkingly calls collateral damage. Yes, Gaddafi was killing some different tribe members and should be made to pay for his crimes, but since murdering innocent brown-skinned people is our job, we had to step in and take that job away from him. I have no problem if we sent in a few wise guys and took that monkey out. Hey Vito, Fat Tony, it's a hit. Problem solved, no innocent dead and we would save billions of dollars that we don't have for the poor, the sick, the hungry or the homeless in this country. We've had trillions for the rich--paid for by the working class and the poor--but always plenty for war, madness and mayhem, but little for Americans who actually need it! We have plenty for building bridges and road projects overseas, but little for similar projects in America!

Meanwhile, our fearless leader Obamahood is off to South America to bamboozle them into remaining our willing slaves. Off to Brazil and then Chile where he made speeches about democracy in a country that we had a few years before overthrown their elected democracy in a "Crime Family Bush" coup d'etat and replaced it with an iron fisted dictator, Augusto Pinochet, that Henry Kissinger and the CIA installed, and who murdered millions of Chileans over a 17-year period. Did Obamahood think that they had forgotten about our treachery? You can knock Obamahood's intelligence and politics, but you have to admit he has balls!

Meanwhile our F-18s and B2s continue blowing brown-skinned people into tiny bits in another country that, by a strange coincidence, is loaded with oil! I mean, what are the odds? Don't bother looking for patterns, you won't find any... or will you?

In Other News

Up on Capital Hill, one of Kentucky's national embarrassments was at it again! Kentucky's junior Sin-ator Rand Paul got his panties in a bunch over toilets! The world's going to hell-in-a-handbasket, with wars, famines, nuclear explosions, oil spills, global warming, a growing homeless population and Rand wants to talk potty mouth!

As Kathleen Hogan, the deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy, gave her testimony to his committee, at an Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing, Sen. Paul exploded:

"You can't go around your house without being told what to buy. You restrict my purchases, you don't care about my choices, you don't care about the consumer, frankly," Paul yelled at Hogan!

"Frankly, my toilets don’t work in my house. And I blame you and people like you who want to tell me what I can install in my house, what I can do ... I’ve been waiting for 20 years to talk about how bad these toilets are ..."

Your tax dollars at work, America! What the Sin-ator left out of his rant is that it's not the Department of Energy that dictates water-efficiency standards for toilets. It's the democratically-elected, constitutionally-empowered, United States Congress and the President.

It was back in 1992 when Con-gress passed a law, signed by President George H. W. Bush, a.k.a. "Poppa Smirk," that set a 1.6 gallons-per-flush standard for newly-made toilets.

So either Sin-ator Paul has been full of "it" for 20 years or he needs to dig another toilet a few yards away from his current "little" house! Didn't his daddy teach him anything?

And Finally

Zeus knows ya gotta love those religious fruit loops in Congress; any time I'm feeling blue, all I have to do for a good laugh is look into what's happening in Con-gress.

This weeks treason is brought to you by Con-gressman J. Randy Forbes (R-VA). J. Randy's bright idea is to enshrine Allah as our official god, at least that's what I think he means to do? J Randy, (I wonder if the J stands for Jaafar?) wants to make "In God We Trust" as the United Snakes official motto and carve it on buildings everywhere. Forget for a while that Church and State division thingie which most Americans and the Constitution support, or that we're talking about enshrining mythology! Islam is the only religion that says there is but one god, i.e., "I bear witness that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is His servant and messenger." Everybody else believes in many gods from Christians to Druids to Odinism to Shintoism to Hinduism, etc., etc., etc!

I wrote Jaafar a letter, you knew that I would, didn't you?

Dear Con-gressman Forbes,

I was wondering why you proposed paying homage to the Muslim god Allah over all other gods? Islam is the ONLY modern religion that states that there is only one god while all the other major religions believe in many gods. Why shut them out if you're going to commit treason by not upholding your sworn oath to uphold and protect our Constitution, i.e., "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion", why J. Randy?

What will your Christian voters say when they find out you picked Allah over Yahweh? Do you really think that this is going to bring us together? We both know that it's meant to drive us apart, and keep us fighting amongst ourselves while the ruling class keeps going to the bank! Why are you anti-American, Jaafar? That small minority of Atheists, Agnostics and the like that you poo-poo is 20% or slightly over 60 million people! Leaving out 60 million Americans is going to bring us together? Do explain how!

Are you some 5th columnist for Riyadh or are you working for the Ayatollah? Does the "J" in your name stand for Jaafar and is that why you don't use it? Who is behind this anti-America attempt to destroy the Constitution? Who pulls your puppet strings, Con-gressman? Who owns you?

Sincerely yours,

Ernest Stewart
Managing editor
Issues & Alibis Magazine

Your tax dollars at work, America! As always if I get a reply, you'll be the first ones to know!

Keepin' On

As Bill Cosby once asked in his famous "God & Noah" routine, "How long can you tread water?" How long indeed? Four years ago we were doing much more than barely hanging on by the skin of our teeth˙but had the money together long before the bills came due, thanks in part to a couple of well-off folks, but just as much from regular folks who tossed in whatever they could, whenever they could. You may recall we had many more departments and authors back then.

Lately, as the economy sank and we continued to rail against the denizens of foggy bottom including Mr. Hope whom we pegged long before the election as being the corpo-rat stooge that he is, we lost a lot of support from the folks that bought his bullshit or at least wanted to believe it. C'est la vie!

Most of those folks are finally beginning to realize that they've been chumped by Obamahood, and are starting to drift back, but not in the numbers that we had before. No one wants to be reminded that we told you so and as a result our donations are down to about 15% of what they once were as only about 2% will send in donations and since our readership dropped by 50% since the current Junta took over, it's almost impossible to carry on without every body's help. Ergo, a little help, if you please! When that big tax refund check comes in consider sending us some. Guys skip the nudie bar this weekend and send us that money, believe me, Velvet will get along without you for a day! Ladies send us that money for a new pair of shoes; believe me, you can get by for a while with just 40 pairs! It's for a good cause and we'll put it to good use. As the days tick away until it hits the fan, Issues & Alibis will become even more important to you and your family. Let's keep it publishing until we all fade to black!


12-03-1925 ~ 03-17-2011
Thanks for the songs!

10-27-1925 ~ 03-18-2011
Burn Baby Burn!

12-05-2006 ~ 03-19-2011
Off to Ursa Major!

o5-03-1907 ~ 03-20-2011
R.I.P. sweetie!

07-07-1913 ~ 03-21-2011
Thanks for da blues!

02-27-1932 ~ 03-23-2011
Thanks for the films!

03-23-1933 ~ 03-23-2011
Thanks for the help!


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


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

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

US Army 'Kill Team' In Afghanistan Posed For Photos Of Murdered Civilians
Commanders brace for backlash of anti-US sentiment that could be more damaging than after the Abu Ghraib scandal
By Jon Boone

Commanders in Afghanistan are bracing themselves for possible riots and public fury triggered by the publication of "trophy" photographs of US soldiers posing with the dead bodies of defenceless Afghan civilians they killed.

Senior officials at Nato's International Security Assistance Force in Kabul have compared the pictures published by the German news weekly Der Spiegel to the images of US soldiers abusing prisoners in Abu Ghraib in Iraq which sparked waves of anti-US protests around the world.

They fear that the pictures could be even more damaging as they show the aftermath of the deliberate murders of Afghan civilians by a rogue US Stryker tank unit that operated in the southern province of Kandahar last year.

Some of the activities of the self-styled "kill team" are already public, with 12 men currently on trial in Seattle for their role in the killing of three civilians.

Five of the soldiers are on trial for pre-meditated murder, after they staged killings to make it look like they were defending themselves from Taliban attacks.

Other charges include the mutilation of corpses, the possession of images of human casualties and drug abuse.

All of the soldiers have denied the charges. They face the death penalty or life in prison if convicted.

The case has already created shock around the world, particularly with the revelations that the men cut "trophies" from the bodies of the people they killed.

An investigation by Der Spiegel has unearthed approximately 4,000 photos and videos taken by the men.

The magazine, which is planning to publish only three images, said that in addition to the crimes the men were on trial for there are "also entire collections of pictures of other victims that some of the defendants were keeping."

The US military has strived to keep the pictures out of the public domain fearing it could inflame feelings at a time when anti-Americanism in Afghanistan is already running high.

In a statement, the army said it apologised for the distress caused by photographs "depicting actions repugnant to us as human beings and contrary to the standards and values of the United States."

The lengthy Spiegel article that accompanies the photographs contains new details about the sadistic behaviour of the men.

In one incident in May last year, the article says, during a patrol, the team apprehended a mullah who was standing by the road and took him into a ditch where they made him kneel down.

The group's leader, Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs, then allegedly threw a grenade at the man while an order was given for him to be shot.

Afterwards, Gibbs is described cutting off one of the man's little fingers and removing a tooth.

The patrol team later claimed to their superiors that the mullah had tried to threaten them with a grenade and that they had no choice but to shoot.

On Sunday night many organisations employing foreign staff, including the United Nations, ordered their staff into a "lockdown", banning all movements around Kabul and requiring people to remain in their compounds.

In addition to the threat from the publication of the photographs, security has been heightened amid fears the Taliban may try to attack Persian new year celebrations.

There could also be attacks because Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, is due to make a speech declaring which areas of the country should be transferred from international to Afghan control in the coming months.

One security manager for the US company DynCorp sent an email to clients warning that publication of the photos was likely "to incite the local population" as the "severity of the incidents to be revealed are graphic and extreme."
© 2011 Jon Boone & The Guardian.

A Dirty Word
By Uri Avnery

ON THURSDAY EVENING I could not think of anything except Libya.

First I heard the blood-curdling speech by Muammar Qaddafi, in which he promised to occupy Benghazi within hours and drown the rebels in a bloodbath.

I was extremely worried and extremely furious with the international community and especially with the US, which had wasted days and weeks of precious time with empty phrase-mongering, while the dictator reconquered Libya bit by bit.

Then there was the almost incredible sight of the UN Security Council convening within the hour, dispensing with speeches and unanimously adopting the resolution calling for military intervention.

The scene that ensued in Benghazi’s central square and broadcast lifve on Aljazeera reminded me of Mugrabi Square in Tel Aviv on November 29, 1947, just after the United Nations General Assembly had adopted the resolution on the partition of Palestine between a Jewish and an Arab state. The feelings of Joy and relief were palpable.

THE HESITATION of the United States and other countries to intervene militarily in Libya was scandalous. More than that - it was monstrous.

My heart is with the Libyan people. (Indeed, in Hebrew “libi” means “my heart”.)

For me, ”non-intervention” is a dirty word. It reminds me of the Spanish civil war, which took place when I was very young.

In 1936, the Spanish republic and the Spanish people were viciously attacked by a Spanish general, Francisco Franco, with troops imported from Morocco. It was a very bloody war, with untold atrocities.

Franco was decisively aided by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. German Air Force planes terrorized Spanish cities. The bombardment of the town of Guernica was immortalized in a painting by Pablo Picasso. (The story goes that when the Nazis occupied Paris a few years later, they were outraged by the painting and shouted at Picasso: “Did you do that?” “No,” he answered quietly: “You did!”)

The Western democracies adamantly refused to help the republic and coined the term “non-intervention”. Non-intervention meant in practice that Great Britain and France did not intervene, while Germany and Italy did, and did their worst. The only foreign power to help the beleaguered democrats was the Soviet Union. As we learned much later, Stalin’s agents exploited the situation in order to eliminate their fellow fighters – socialists, syndicalists, liberals and others.

At the time, it looked liked a clear fight between good and absolute evil. Idealists from all over the world joined the International Brigades of the republic. If I had been only a few years older, I would without doubt have volunteered, too. In 1948, we sang with gusto the songs of the International Brigades in our own war.

FOR SOMEONE who was alive at the time of the Holocaust, especially for a Jew, there can be no doubt at all.

When it was over, and the awful extent of the genocide emerged, there was an outcry that has not yet died down.

“Where was the world? Why did the allies not bomb the railway lines leading to Auschwitz? Why did they not destroy the gas chambers and crematoriums in the death camps from the air?”

These questions have not been satisfactorily answered to this very day. We know that Anthony Eden, the British foreign minister, asked President Franklin D. Roosevelt: “What shall we do with the Jews [who manage to escape]?” We also know that the allies were mortally afraid to be seen as conducting the war “for the Jews”, as Nazi propaganda proclaimed from morning to evening. Indeed, the Germans dropped leaflets over American positions in Italy with the picture of an ugly, crooked-nose Jew dilly-dallying with a blond American woman, with the caption: “While you are risking your life, the Jew is seducing your wife at home!”

Using military force to prevent the Nazis from killing the German Jews – as well as the Roma – would definitely have constituted interference in the internal affairs of Germany. A very strong case could have been made that it was not the business of other countries, certainly not of their armed forces.

Should it have been done? Yes or no? And if the answer is yes, why does it apply to Adolf Hitler and not to this little Fuehrer in Tripoli?

THIS, OF course, leads us straight to Kosovo.

There the same question arose. Slobodan Milosevic was committing an act of genocide – driving out a whole people, committing barbarities along the way. Kosovo was a part of Serbia, and Milosevic claimed that it was an internal Serbian affair.

When there was a worldwide outcry, President Bill Clinton decided to bomb installations in Serbia in order to induce Milosevic to desist. Nominally, it was a NATO action. It achieved its goal, the Kosovars returned to their homeland, and today we have the independent republic of Kosovoa.

At the time, I applauded publicly, to the dismay of many of my leftist friends at home and all over the world. They insisted that the bombing campaign was a crime, particularly since it was conducted by NATO, which for them is an instrument of the devil.

My answer was that in order to prevent genocide, I am ready to make a pact even with the devil.

This goes for today, too. I don’t care who puts an end to Qaddafi’s murderous war against his own people, and especially to the bombing raids of his air force. The UN, NATO or the US alone – whoever does it, may they be blessed.

A few days ago, on a day when Qaddafi’s pilots were killing Libyans as usual, I read an article by an American journalist I like and appreciate very much. She ferociously attacked the idea of the US enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya, especially since the abominable Paul Wolfowicz was advocating it.

It seems that this has become a domestic American affair. While the extreme right (called for some reason “conservative”) - tea partiers, neo-cons and such - advocate the non-flying zone, politically correct “liberals” (another of these curious terms) oppose it.

People are being killed by a ruthless, half-mad dictator, a whole country is going down the drain – what the hell has that got to do with domestic American politics? And why have my friends been maneuvered into the wrong corner?

BARACK OBAMA was again at his best, saying all the right things and doing the wrong – or doing nothing at all.

He told Qaddafi to go, and then looked on passively as the tyrant, instead of going anywhere, terrorized his people. His Secretary of Defense told everybody what an incredibly difficult operation enforcing a no-fly zone would be, his generals warned against taking on another war they are unable to fight. The almighty United States of America looked like a has-been power, unable to mount even the smallest military operation against the negligible air force of a tin-pot dictator. Any Israeli air force commander would have finished the job by lunchtime.

We are not the policeman of the world, American politicians argued. But that is exactly what a superpower is – power brings responsibility.

The pitiful sight of the Obama administration throughout this crisis shows that the US is no longer a superpower, just a big power anxious to keep its oil supplies safe with the help of assorted kings and emirs. Coming after its abject capitulation to the Israeli right-wing lobby and its veto of the Security Council resolution against the enlarging of the settlements, the conclusion is sad indeed.

Cynics will say that the Americans really desire to keep Qaddafi, so that he can go on delivering the oil, much as they support the autocrats of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain who are crushing their peoples and continue to deal with the oil as if it were their private property. “Non-intervention” turned the Spanish people over to the tender mercies of Franco, and protected Hitler at the most sensitive stages of his preparation for war. Direct intervention, on the other hand, sent Milosevic to the war criminals’ prison.

I WANT to make my position on this perfectly clear.

The doctrine of non-intervention into the internal affairs of other countries when matters of genocide and mass killings are concerned is dead and should be buried, before the corpse starts to stink to high heaven.

At this point in history, it is the duty of all nations to prevent systematic atrocities committed by a criminal government against its own citizens. This duty falls on international institutions like the UN, but when these fail, as they so often do, the duty falls on individual nations or groups of nations. To its credit, the Arab League, comprising 22 Arab nations, did come out unequivocally for military intervention against Qaddafi – though not against other Arab tyrants, some of whom voted for the resolution.

Centuries ago, it was accepted that every nation is responsible for the capture and trial of pirates, irrespective of where and against whom their crimes were committed. This principle should be applied now to crimes committed by regimes against their citizens. Muammar Qaddafi should be caught and put on trial.

Humanity is moving towards a civilized world order. Non-intervention is the very opposite.]

Thursday’s hurried Security Council resolution was a historic step in this direction. In my imagination I saw French planes rolling off the airstrips minutes after the votes were counted. That has not happened. But Libya is saved and Qaddafi’s fate is sealed.

In international parlance, non-intervention has indeed become a dirty word.
(c) 2011 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Mad Scientists Run Laboratories Of Democracy
By David Sirota

Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once said that states are the "laboratories of democracy." Oft repeated over time, the aphorism has helped impart legitimacy to the rough and tumble of state lawmaking.

But there is a darker side of the metaphor. States are indeed laboratories. The problem is that today, those laboratories are increasingly run by mad scientists.

We're not talking about the usual Dr. Frankensteins trying to bring alive new corporate giveaways through harebrained cuts to social services (though there are those, too). We're talking about true legislative sadists looking to go medieval on America. Behold just six of the most telling examples:

The Anti-Life Pro-Life Act: After anti-abortion Republicans in Congress tried to narrow the legal definition of rape, Nebraska Republican State Sen. Mark Christensen took the assault on women's rights one step further with a bill to legitimize the murder of abortion providers by classifying such homicides as "justified."

The Let Them Eat Corporate Tax Cuts Act: As poverty rates and hunger have risen, so, too, have corporate profits. The Georgia Legislature's response? Intensify the inequity with a bill to create a regressive sales tax on food that would then finance a brand new corporate tax cut.

The Demoralize the Work force Act: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker didn't just threaten to deploy the National Guard against state workers unless they accept big pay and pension cuts. He pressed to statutorily bar those workers from ever again collectively bargaining.

The Child Labor Act: Missouri State Sen. Jane Cunningham's proposal to eliminate child labor laws would allow corporations to employ any child younger than 14 and would terminate restrictions on the number of hours that child can be forced to work.

The Obesity and Deficit Encouragement Act: Colorado exemplifies America's childhood obesity epidemic and its budget crisis. The state's childhood obesity rate grew at the second-fastest rate in the country, and its $1.2 billion budget gap is threatening the state's already underfinanced schools. Yet, despite the U.S. Department of Agriculture showing that higher soda taxes would drive down obesity, and despite such a levy raising much-needed public revenues, Colorado's newly Republican House is pushing legislation to create a special budget-busting sales tax exemption exclusively for soda.

The Endorsing Your Own Demise Act: Montana's Republican lawmakers are considering legislation to officially endorse catastrophic global climate change. That's right, in the face of a Harvard study showing that climate change could destroy Montana's water supplies, agriculture industries and forests, State Rep. Joe Read's bill would declare that "global warming is beneficial to the welfare and business climate of Montana."

If you don't live in one of these states, it's easy to tell yourself these bills don't affect you. But history suggests that what happens in one "laboratory" is quite often replicated in others - and ultimately, in the nation's capital. That's why we should all hope saner minds cut short these experiments before they get even more out of control.
(c) 2010 David Sirota is the author of the best-selling books "Hostile Takeover" and "The Uprising." He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado and blogs at E-mail him at David Sirota is a former spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee.

Ominous Clouds
Nuclear Songs Remain the Same
By Randall Amster

In the early 1980s, a group of antinuclear activists and musicians put together an album of protest songs as a statement against the development of the Palo Verde nuclear power plant outside of Phoenix. The plant is unique in that it isn’t adjacent to a large body of water, meeting its cooling needs instead with treated sewage from nearby locales. The main turbines were supplied by General Electric, and the plant has been cited for a number of safety violations in its 25 year history. Situated near the sixth largest city in the U.S., the Palo Verde Station has been the site of heightened security as a potential strategic target in terms of warfare or terrorism. But back in the ’80s, activists had other concerns on their minds.

They titled their protest album “Ominous Clouds,” to indicate the potential safety issues including a possible meltdown and the challenge of cooling such a massive plant in a place where water resources are scarce. The songs on this little-known record cover a range of styles and musical genres, from punk and reggae to folk and western swing, but all gather around the primary theme of a nuclear “accident” rearing its head and reducing Phoenix to ashes. The album serves as a harbinger of the issues surfacing today, with the ongoing disaster in Japan and the concomitant potential for a radiation plume to reach the western U.S. in short order -- including the possibility of Arizona being right in the plume’s path.

The songs on “Ominous Clouds” alternate between the silly and the sad, with a pointed critique of the political economy of nuclear power serving as the baseline. One memorable lyric in particular laments: “We gave up life and land, put the power in their hands.” Now, as then, the issue is less about what someone else has taken from us or done to us, and more about how we have steadily ceded control over our lives and communities to corporate magnates and powerful interests. The storyteller Utah Phillips -- whose pro-labor, movement-oriented collaborations with Ani DiFranco in the late 1990s presaged many of today’s issues and responses -- once observed that “freedom is something you assume, then you wait for someone to try to take it away. The degree to which you resist is the degree to which you are free.” In the U.S. we’ve barely resisted, and thus stand today largely as mere vassals.

Indeed, shades of feudalism define much of modern life. Our serfdom is often masked by the ostensible “freedoms” and myriad creature comforts in our midst, while the “robber barons” continue to acquire wealth and power at our expense. The net result is what I have referred to as a “web of dependency,” in which we are ensnared by a set of forces that provide us with a modicum of “easy living” in exchange for our willing captivity within its spacious confines. As Pink Floyd once inquired, “Did you exchange a walk on part in a war, for a lead role in a cage?” The answer for most Americans is undoubtedly yes, and the effect has been to render us largely complicit with our own subjugation, as I wrote six months ago: “The hardware of our lives, from food and energy to transportation and shelter, is entirely bound up with the workings of a highly mechanized and digitized global economy. And no less so, the software of our existence -- communications, community, entertainment, education, media, politics, and the like -- is equally entwined within that same technocratic system.”

And now, for our troubles, we have a potentially runaway disaster in the making (yet again), which threatens to spread its misery over the hemisphere, conjuring those “ominous clouds” of nuclear toxification in the process. The powers that be will assure us that all is well, but of course the same thing was said about the Gulf oil spill, just to take one recent example. On the question of nuclear dangers in particular, the government has a sordid history of knowingly exposing the populace to grave risks in the name of “national security” or some other oxymoronic invocation. “Downwinders” from the era of widespread nuclear testing are still among us; Native American miners and neighboring communities have suffered greatly in the procurement of uranium; and nonconsensual testing has been repeatedly done primarily on lower-income communities and people of color. Despite repeated official declarations that the levels of radiation expected to reach the U.S. are perfectly safe, Physicians for Social Responsibility cautions that “no threshold exists for a ‘safe’ level of exposure to radioactive particles.”

Clearly there is cause for concern about the possible effects of a large-scale nuclear disaster such as the one emerging in Japan, even when the brunt of it is borne thousands of miles away. Radiation can dissipate over time and distance, yet its effects can also linger and become embedded in food and water supplies as well. Admirably, people have by and large not begun to panic, even as supplies of potassium iodide and other survival-related items have been rapidly disappearing from store shelves across the west. At my local health food store, the search for potential remedies even reached such a degree that all of the stocks of kelp (known as perhaps the best widely-available food product to ward off radiation poisoning) were sold out. Other seaweed items with therapeutic qualities remained -- so I bought them.

There’s no downside here, since I like seaweed anyway and it’s good for you in general beyond whatever properties it might possess as a self-help remedy to stave off the worst effects of fallout. Interestingly, as I cleaned out the remaining three bags of arame, a young woman with a long list of items in hand was nearby, and I could tell she was thinking similarly about what sorts of natural items might be of use in case of radiation exposure in the coming days and weeks. We got to chatting, and I offered her one of the bags of arame I had scooped up, saying somewhat awkwardly that “if we can’t cooperate in the face of the apocalypse, then all hope is lost anyway.” In this brief encounter, it was realized that the existence of an elusive “community” was perhaps the most powerful remedy of all.

Obviously the dangers ahead are real, and that’s true regardless of how the situation in Japan plays out. Those nascent “ominous clouds” wafting in from the west are merely the tangible blowback of lifestyles that have been increasingly out of balance with the life-sustaining capacities of the biosphere. We can only cheat this inherent logic of interconnectivity for so long before the net products of our consumptive ways return the burdens back to us. Someone, somewhere makes those gilded cages for us, and whatever they are exposed to will ultimately become part of our ecology as well. We simply cannot outsource misery and treat toxicity as an externality any longer. How many disasters -- either of the ecological or economic varieties -- will it take before people actively seek to reclaim their lost power?

The coming storm clouds will eventually pass; whether they’re followed by more from other directions is contingent upon how much we’re willing to change the conditions of our lives going forward. It’s all too easy to slip back into complacency, and by now many are no doubt suffering from a sense of “disaster fatigue.” Still, the ultimate disaster would be to ignore this most recent alarm and hit the snooze button instead. The musical invitation to engage our communities and assert our autonomy resounds across the decades. The songs haven’t changed much over the years; our best hope is that we wake up and listen.
(c) 2011 Randall Amster J.D., Ph.D., teaches peace studies at Prescott College and serves as the executive director of the Peace & Justice Studies Association. His most recent book is the co-edited volume "Building Cultures of Peace: Transdisciplinary Voices of Hope and Action" (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009).

Don't Mess With Librarians

Public libraries are among the most respected institutions in our society. Beloved even. So why does Rupert Murdoch think he can get away with trying to squeeze them for another nickel in profits?

Among other things, this multibillionaire, right-wing media mogul owns HarperCollins publishing house, and among its products are e-books. These downloadable, digital publications are increasingly popular with the reading public. Librarians like them because e-books don't get tattered, torn, or lost, even after they've been repeatedly lent out. Good product, happy librarians, happy patrons. What could go wrong?

Rupert, that's what. In March, his publishing entity suddenly decreed that libraries will be allowed to lend out Harper e-books only 26 times. After that, the corporation will pull the plug, effectively taking the book off the shelf. Bear in mind that libraries pay for these books, which are usually priced at about $13 to $16 each. And remember that, physically, e-books can be checked out hundreds of times.

So what in the holy name of Gutenberg is going on here? Money grubbing. By enforcing an arbitrary expiration date, HarperCollins can force libraries to buy the e-book again, or disappoint patrons waiting to get it. Also, Harper honchos fear the competition, saying that if libraries can keep the book available for free over a long period of time, people won't buy the book for themselves, thus pinching poor Rupert's profits.

He might get something else pinched if he doesn't back off. At a time when library budgets are being whacked, staff let go, and hours reduced, this ridiculous corporate ripoff has galvanized many librarians into action, with some choosing to boycott HarperCollins e-books. To get involved, contact the American Library Association.
(c) 2011 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition.

A New McCarthy?
By Helen Thomas

Is Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), the new Joe McCarthy? Heaven forbid. I lived through that shameful era when some Americans were ostracized for being leftist or "pinkos" as they were branded.

The Wisconsin Republican and his team of lawyers, including Roy Cohn and David Schine, traveled from country to country demonizing American diplomats.

King has tried to take the country back to an era of fear - this time against Americans of Muslim faith. He is calling some Muslims "a threat" to this country. King's goal has been dubbed a "witch hunt."

As chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, at the opening of the hearings, King stated he was more convinced than ever that the hearings were "appropriate."

The hearings spotlight the division in this country regarding Muslims and mosques. No one apparently mentioned Timothy McVeigh, the homegrown militia member who brought a truck load of explosives to blow up the federal building in Oklahoma City, causing many casualties among government workers. But that is a different story. King wants to know how radicalized is the Muslim community, and what is its potential to harm America.

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), a Muslim, broke down and cried as he spoke of Mohammed Salman Hamdani, a 23-year-old medical technician who rushed into a building at the World Trade Center to rescue victims of 9/11. He was killed when the building collapsed.

King's vendetta against terror is ironic because he wholeheartedly backed the Irish Republican Army, which was branded as an "Irish terrorist organization."

One witness, Melvin Bledsoe, a Memphis business leader, testified that "our children are in danger."

"It seems to me that Americans are sitting around, doing nothing about radical extremists," continued Bledsoe.

"There is nothing radical or un-American in holding these hearings," King said. The hearings are billed to deal with the extent of the radicalization of the Muslim American community.

King's search would do best to ask why any Muslim would be against our great country which provides so many freedoms of speech, opinion and belief.

But he is not seeking in-depth answers. Is there any reason some Muslims might be unhappy that their home country was under attack by the U.S.? Not that any terrorism is ever justifiable.

The McCarthy era is a dark chapter in our history. Many Americans lost their jobs when they refused to sign a "loyalty oath." Many Hollywood actors, directors and writers were blacklisted, fired from their jobs, and even committed suicide.

McCarthy was dedicated to cleaning out the State Department of any liberals and caused great havoc to American foreign policy. It took years for the Eisenhower administration to recover. He put all government servants under siege.

It was a period of great suspicion and insecurity, but it showed what one man could do to hurt the fabric of our country. Anyone who lived through that era could never forget the harm that was done.

What is unique about the King hearings is that they are not a search for answers - they focus on fear that could lead to mayhem. That is not King's motive - he has already made up his mind about any Muslim threat.

If there is a real threat from Muslims, the law enforcement officers are in charge, and due process is the right of all Americans.

What does radicalization mean? Rep. King should be asked this question. Is he going to decide to diminish the freedoms of every American Muslim and declare them guilty?

Sen.McCarthy ended his life as a tragic figure, after a dignified Senator, Ralph Flanders (R-Vt.) walked down the Senate aisle and handed McCarthy the senate vote to censor him. It was a damning blow.

Sen. Margaret Chase Smith (R-Maine) added her voice in an electrifying speech on the Senate floor when she called for a "declaration of conscience." With that it was all over for McCarthy. King should take heed.

When he singles out any group and demonizes them, without evidence, he has gone much too far. In fact, King may soon regret that he took on an issue that really belongs in the Department of Justice. He has frightened many Americans and their families who are true patriots, but he is painting them with a broad brush.
(c) 2011 Helen Thomas is a columnist for the Falls Church News-Press. Among other books she is the author of Front Row At The White House: My Life and Times.

Does Water Have Consciousness?
By James Donahue

Water, perhaps the most vital component for life, is so abundant on Earth that most humans take it for granted. Yet the very consistency of water is a mystery within itself.

Comprised of two explosive gasses, hydrogen and oxygen, when combined in a simple formula of two parts oxygen and one part hydrogen, it becomes a fluid substance that has the capability of dowsing fire and maintaining life. Once the gases combine to form water, it almost takes a rocket scientist to figure out how to separate them again.

Now a Japanese scientist is saying he believes that water has a consciousness of its own and that mankind must not only understand this, but learn to show a love and respect for water if we expect to continue our existence.

As a major component of Planet Earth, a sentient giant that many humans believe is the creator of all living things that exist in and on its surface, the discoveries by Dr. Masaru Emoto must be given serious consideration. If the Earth is a living thing, and all of the cells that comprise the things on it are not only alive, but aware, who can say that the water that covers a portion of its surface and flows through the underground rivers like blood through our veins is not also alive?

Emoto, the author of Messages From Water, says he has discovered that water, which is nearly as old as our planet and a basic component of life, has a consciousness and can perceive, remember and communicate with the environment like all other living organisms.

An alternative medicine specialist, Dr. Emoto believes water has a natural healing power. He has been researching its mysteries since 1994 using a magnetic resonance analyzer to measure its properties.

While we know so little about water, Emoto believes it is important that we learn what the ancients once knew, and start to live in healthy harmony with the substance that comprises over 70 percent of our bodies.

He also believes that humans must experience a paradigm shift of thought before they will have any chance of uncovering the consciousness of water.

Emoto’s experiments with water included collecting samples from around the world and then observing and photographing them through a microscope as they were frozen into crystals.

Using magnifications of up to 500 times, Emoto discovered that while thawing, as the frozen flakes became liquid, they revealed certain crystal structures.

“It is impossible to obtain identical crystal pictures even from one type of water . . . but there is a certain tendency in all of the samples to form a crystal grid,” he wrote.

He said he had the feeling that each crystal was trying hard to become beautiful. “It’s trying to purify itself,” he said.

And there was something else. Emoto found that there was a significant difference in the way water crystallized and the crystals broke down again when the samples came from urban areas compared to other more healthy environments.

He said the “healthy water” would show a complete hexagonal crystal structure that did not exist in water from polluted areas.

Emoto believes water contains Hado, an intrinsic vibrational pattern at the atomic level in all matter. “Water is the most receptive of the four elements,” he said.

His experiments involved placing bottles of distilled water between amplifiers and playing various kinds of music. When classical works or the chanting of monks were produced the water produced clear and beautiful crystal structures. When pop or heavy metal music was played, the crystals were haphazard.

The experiments also involved the way water reacted to energy from pictures and words. “Letters and pictures contain vibrations, too. Our consciousness, values and feelings are imprinted on such objects,” he said.

He said he found that water is capable of memorizing sound vibrations and this memory is reflected in the way it forms crystals. “Water reflects what it perceives,” he said.

Emoto found that water crystallization changed when it occurred in different human environments. For example, when the water was placed in front of a computer monitor, no crystals were produced. But when a piece of paper with a positive word like “love” was attached to the bottle, crystals developed. When placed near a television playing a movie with a positive storyline, there were lovely crystals.

The words “devil” and “angel,” having negative and positive connotations among the humans around the water, also affected the water. The crystals changed from a deformed, blackish structure to beautiful hexagonal formations.

“The medium is not as important as the energy it conveys,” Emoto said. “If you have a happy and positive conversation on a mobile phone, the water will form good crystals."

“Positive information results in beautiful hexagonal crystals, while negative information shows otherwise,” he said. “If we are aware of this and communicate good feelings and messages, the quality of crystals will be beautiful and hence the quality of the water will be good,” he said.

As a physician, Dr. Emoto said he believes that if we learn to take care of the water that is within our bodies, we can heal. “As we are mainly composed of water, we should vibrate good energy to the water in our bodies. Positive thinking and emotions, for example, can readily affect the quality of water in our body. Stress, a cause of many illnesses, is a result of the bad energy we carry in our body’s water.”

Emoto also urged people to be kind to other water-based beings on the planet and create positive energy flows throughout the world.

The tragedy is that water around the world has become highly polluted as a result of human ignorance and un-gratefulness. Emoto believes, however, that we have the power to improve the quality of this water by becoming aware of its qualities and learning to be more grateful for it.

“By changing the vibration, we can change the substance. So we can alter the environment,” he said.
(c) 2011 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles. He currently produces daily articles for this web site.

Why Governor LePage Can’t Erase History
Why We Need a Fighter in the White House
By Robert Reich

Maine Governor Paul LePage has ordered state workers to remove from the state labor department a 36-foot mural depicting the state’s labor history. Among other things the mural illustrates the 1937 shoe mill strike in Auburn and Lewiston. It also features the iconic “Rosie the Riveter,” who in real life worked at the Bath Iron Works. One panel shows my predecessor at the U.S. Department of Labor, Frances Perkins, who was buried in Newcastle, Maine.

The LePage Administration is also renaming conference rooms that had carried the names of historic leaders of American labor, as well as former Secretary Perkins.

The Governor’s spokesman explains that the mural and the conference-room names were “not in keeping with the department’s pro-business goals.”

Are we still in America?

Frances Perkins was the first woman cabinet member in American history. She was also one of the most accomplished cabinet members in history.

She and her boss, Franklin D. Roosevelt, came to office at a time when average working people needed help – and Perkins and Roosevelt were determined to give it to them. Together, they created Social Security, unemployment insurance, the right of workers to unionize, the minimum wage, and the forty-hour workweek.

Big business and Wall Street thought Perkins and Roosevelt were not in keeping with pro-business goals. So they and their Republican puppets in Congress and in the states retaliated with a political assault on the New Deal.

Roosevelt did not flinch. In a speech in October 1936 he condemned “business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.”

Big business and Wall Street, he said,

had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.

Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me – and I welcome their hatred.

Fast forward 75 years. Big business and Wall Street have emerged from the Great Recession with their pockets bulging. Profits and bonuses are as high as they were before the downturn. And they’re spending like mad on lobbying and politics. After the Supreme Court’s disgraceful Citizens United decision, there are no limits.

Pro-business goals are breaking out all over. Governors across America are slashing corporate taxes as they slash state budgets. House and Senate Republicans are intent on deregulating, privatizing, and cutting spending and taxes so their corporate and Wall Street patrons will do even better.

But most Americans are still in desperate trouble. Few if any of the economic gains are trickling down.

That’s why the current Republican assault on workers – on their right to form unions, on unemployment insurance and Social Security, on public employees, and even (courtesy of Governor LePage) on our common memory – is so despicable.

And it’s why we need a President who will fight for workers and fight against this assault — just as Perkins and FDR did.

By the way, Maine’s Governor LePage may be curious to know that the building housing the U.S. Department of Labor in Washington is named the “Frances Perkins Building.” He can find her portrait hanging prominently inside. Also portraits and murals of great leaders of American labor.

A short walk across the mall will bring Governor LePage to an imposing memorial to Franklin D. Roosevelt, should the Governor wish to visit.

Governor, you might be able to erase some of Maine’s memory, but you’ll have a hard time erasing the nation’s memory – even if it’s not in keeping with your pro-business goals.
© 2011 Robert Reich is Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written twelve books, including The Work of Nations, Locked in the Cabinet, and his most recent book, Supercapitalism. His "Marketplace" commentaries can be found on and iTunes.

First Blood
American Missiles Rain Down on Libya
By Chris Floyd

When the UN intervention into Libya was first announced, we immediately heard how the United States would not be in the forefront of the military action; the lead would be taken by other nations, with US acting largely as a supplier and facilitator for the "broad-based coalition" arrayed against Libya (including some real live Ay-rabs! as the interventionists enthusiastically noted.) But it took less than two days to give the lie to this claim.

On Saturday, just after the French -- who have extensive oil interest in Libya -- jumped the gun on the UN coalition and started attacking Libyan ground forces, the United States joined in with a missile attack on Libyan cities. Not a few missiles; not 10 or 30 or 50 missiles -- but a full barrage of 110 Tomahawk missiles, slamming into Tripoli and Misurata.

This was always in the cards, from the earliest mooting of a "no-fly zone." This PR concept conjures up the idea of knightly pilots chasing the aircraft of the evil ones from the sky -- a jousting between combatants high in the heavens, far removed from the people below. But "no-fly zones" are always accompanied, of necessity, by attacks to "degrade" the "command-and-control centers" of the designated enemy of the day. (Almost always a heinous dictator swimming in arms and money given to him by the West before he did something to displease his patrons and business partners.) This means attacks on ground installations and headquarters -- which, as in the United States, are often located in the midst of civilian areas, and, as in the United States, filled with civilian workers. It also means, invariably, attacks on regular miltary forces of the designated enemy who are helping sustain the miscreant's operations. A "no-fly zone" always means a full-scale military attack with everything except ground troops, with an inevitable harvest of civilian deaths. Hell, you can even conduct a whole war with this mechanism, as the United States and its allies did against Serbia.

In any case, the game is now afoot. Barack Obama has drawn his first blood from Libya, which now becomes the sixth (at least) Muslim nation in which he has launched deadly military actions, joining Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. (Of course, the Administration has bragged that it is carrying out secret wars and covert operations in more than 70 countries, with several other Muslim nations certainly among that number.) The West and its reliable dictators in the Arab world are now fully committed to one side in the Libyan civil war, and are actively seeking to bring to power an armed opposition group led by a man who was a chief agent of Gadafy's repression. (As As'ad AbuKhalil has noted, Gadafy's erstwhile strongmen have "hijacked" the Libyan revolution.) Meanwhile, the autocratic allies of Barack Obama and the other interventionist powers continue to kill and repress unarmed civilians in Yemen and Bahrain without the slightest negative consequence, beyond a few hackneyed harrumphs served up briefly for public consumption by their string-pullers back in Washington.

But this too is another invariable by-product of armed intervention: murderous hypocrisy.

Meanwhile, Abdel al-Bari Atwan (editor-in-chief of Al-Quds Al-Arabi, the pan-Arab newspaper based in London) asks some pertinent questions about the intervention in a Guardian piece aptly titled, "Relief will fade as we see the real impact of intervention in Libya":

First, what motives lie behind this intervention? While the UN was voting to impose a no-fly zone in Libya, at least 40 civilians were killed in a US drone attack in Waziristan in Pakistan. And as I write, al-Jazeera is broadcasting scenes of carnage from Sanaa, Yemen, where at least 40 protesters have been shot dead. But there will be no UN no-fly zone to protect Pakistani civilians from US attacks, or to protect Yemenis. One cannot help but question the selective involvement of the west in the so-called "Arab spring" series of uprisings. ...

Gaddafi knows how to play the Arab street, too. At the moment he has little, if any, public support; his influence is limited to his family and tribe. But he may use this intervention to present himself as the victim of post-colonialist interference in pursuit of oil. He is likely to pose the question that is echoing around the Arab world – why wasn't there a no-fly zone over Gaza when the Israelis were bombarding it in 2008/9? ...

Finally, there is the worry that the Arab spring will be derailed by events in Libya. If uprising plus violent suppression equals western intervention, the long-suffering Arab subjects of the region's remaining autocrats might be coerced into sticking with the status quo.

The last point may be the crux of the matter. Western leaders have obviously been casting about for some way to put the brakes on the Arab Awakening before it sweeps away any more of their reliable client-dictators. Libya presents the perfect opportunity for them to muddy the waters, and try to turn the whole movement into the usual murky, bloody quagmire of global power politics. In any case, it is hard to believe that a burning, yearning solicitude for the people of Libya is what is actually motivating our noble interventionists -- who haven't shown the slight crumb of concern for the Libyan populace until now.

NOTE: To decry the course of action being taken by the interventionists in Libya is not to "support" Gadafy. (Unlike his present attackers, who have supported him most sumptuously for years.) This should go without saying, but of course it can't; this witless denunciation is invariably trotted out against anyone who does not immediately jump on the bloodsoaked bandwagon whenever our leaders start killing people. (You can only oppose this mass production of foreign corpses after it's over -- and even then, you can only describe it as a mistake, or an example of good intentions gone awry through incompetence or happenstance.) But as I noted in the comments here recently:

To oppose an outside military invention is not the same thing as "supporting" whomever the intervention is aimed against. It is simply to look at the historical record and see what the fruits of these interventions actually are. They are, invariably, a widening of the conflict, a vast increase in civilian suffering (even in interventions ostensibly launched specifically to prevent civilian suffering), years of widening, rippling instability, pervasive corruption by war profiteers, and a further militarizing of world society. It is exacerbating an evil by contributing an equal or even greater evil to the mix.

This is especially true in this case, as at present, the Libyan opposition is being led by a breakaway faction of Gadafy's own thuggish regime. The leader of the opposition was, until just a few weeks ago, an integral part of Gadafy's use of "brutality against his people." If he and his clique are the ones who take power after an intervention, we will have merely exchanged one faction of Gadafy's regime for another. But I doubt if this would bother our humanitarian interventionists; they have been making profitable deals with Gadafy for years. They can go on making profitable deals with one of his former henchmen just as well.

(c) 2011 Chris Floyd

Reliably, Irredeemably Wrong
The US Chamber of Commerce
By Bill McKibben

What if I told you I’d found a political group that for a hundred years had managed to be absolutely right on every crucial political issue? A political lodestone, reliably pointing toward true policy north at every moment.

Sorry. But I have something almost as good: a group that manages to always get it wrong. The ultimate pie-in-the-face brigade, the gang that couldn’t lobby straight.

From the outside, you’d think the US Chamber of Commerce must know what it’s doing. It’s got a huge building right next to the White House. It spends more money on political campaigning than the Republican and Democratic National Committees combined. It spends more money on lobbying that the next five biggest lobbyists combined. And yet it has an unbroken record of error stretching back almost to its founding.

Take the New Deal, which historians have long since credited as saving capitalism in the U.S. FDR was dealing with a nation ruined by Wall Street excess—a quarter of the country unemployed, Americans starving and hopeless. He gave his first fireside chat of 1935 on April 28, and outlined a legislative program that included Social Security. The next morning, a prominent official of the Chamber of Commerce accused Roosevelt of attempting to ‘Sovietize’ America; the chamber adopted a resolution “opposing the president’s entire legislative package.”

Fast forward to the next great challenge for America. FDR, having brought America through the Depression, was trying to deal with Hitler’s rise. In the winter of 1941, with the British hard-pressed to hold off the Germans, FDR proposed what came to be called the Lend-Lease program, a way of supplying the allies with materiel they desperately needed.

Only 22% of Americans opposed the Lend Lease program—they could see who Hitler was—but that sorry number included the Chamber of Commerce. The lead story in the New York Times for February 6, 1941 began with the ringing statement from the Chamber’s president James S . Kemper that “American business men oppose American involvement in any foreign war.”

It’s not just that this was unpatriotic; it was also plain stupid, since our eventual involvement in that “foreign war” triggered the greatest boom in America’s economic history. But it’s precisely the kind of blinkered short-sightedness that has led the US Chamber of Commerce astray over and over and over again. They spent the 1950s helping Joe McCarthy root out communists in the trade unions; in the 1960s they urged the Senate to “reject as unnecessary” the idea of Medicare; in the 1980s they campaigned against a “terrible 20” burdensome rules on business, including new licensing requirements for nuclear plants and “various mine safety rules.”

As Brad Johnson, at the Center for American Progress, has detailed recently, the US Chamber has opposed virtually every attempt to rein in pollution, from stronger smog standards to a ban on the dumping of hazardous waste. (They’re hard at work as well trying to relax restrictions on US corporations bribing foreign governments, not to mention opposing the Lily Leadbetter Fair Pay Act). If there’s a modern equivalent of World War II, of course, it’s the fight against global warming. Again a majority of Americans want firm action, because they understand the planet has never faced a bigger challenge—but that action’s been completely blocked in Washington, and the US Chamber is a major reason why. They’ve lobbied against every effort to cut carbon, going so far as to insist that the EPA should stay out of the fight because, if the planet warmed, “populations can acclimatize via a range of range of behavioral, physiological, and technological adaptations.” That is to say, don’t ask a handful of coal companies to adapt their business plans, ask all species everywhere to adapt their physiologies. Grow gills, I guess.

There’s a reason the US Chamber always gets it wrong: they stand with whoever gives them the most cash (in 2009, 16 companies provided 55% of their budget). That means that they’re always on the side of short-term interest; they’re clinically, and irremediably, short-sighted. They recently published a list of the states they thought were “best for business,” and the results were almost comical—all their top prospects (Mississippi!) ranked at the very bottom of everything fromn education to life expectancy.

But that doesn’t mean that business is a force for evil. Though the US Chamber claims to represent all of American business, their constituency is really that handful of huge dinosaur companies that would rather lobby than adapt. Around America, the local chambers of commerce are filled with millions of small businesses that in fact do what capitalists are supposed to do: adapt to new conditions, thrive on change, show the nimbleness and dexterity that distinguish them from lumbering monopolies. As Chris Mead, in an excellent history of the local chambers, makes clear, there are a thousand instances where clear-sighted businesspeople understood the future. Who lured the first movie producers to southern California? The LA Chamber, which sent out a promotional brochure in 1907. Why was the Lindbergh’s plane called “The Spirit of St. Louis”? Because the St. Louis Chamber of Commerce raised the money—that was a pretty good call.

That’s why thousands and thousands of American businesses concerned about our energy future have already joined a new campaign, declaring that “The US Chamber Doesn’t Speak for Me.” They want to draw a line between themselves and the hard-right ideological ineptitude that is the US Chamber. Some of those businesses are tiny—insurance brokers in southern California, coffee roasters in Georgia, veterinarians in Oklahoma—and some are enormous. Apple Computer, for instance, which has…a pretty good record of seeing into the future.

There’s only one reason anyone pays attention to the US Chamber, and that’s their gusher of cash. But the Chamber turns 100 next year, and it’s just possible that a century of dumb decisions will outweigh even that pile of money. If you’re trying to figure out the future, study the US Chamber—and go as fast as you can in the opposite direction.
© 2011 Bill McKibben is Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College, co-founder of His most recent book is Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet.

The War On Warren
By Paul Krugman

Last week, at a House hearing on financial institutions and consumer credit, Republicans lined up to grill and attack Elizabeth Warren, the law professor and bankruptcy expert who is in charge of setting up the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Ostensibly, they believed that Ms. Warren had overstepped her legal authority by helping state attorneys general put together a proposed settlement with mortgage servicers, which are charged with a number of abuses.

But the accusations made no sense. Since when is it illegal for a federal official to talk with state officials, giving them the benefit of her expertise? Anyway, everyone knew that the real purpose of the attack on Ms. Warren was to ensure that neither she nor anyone with similar views ends up actually protecting consumers.

And Republicans were clearly also hoping that if they threw enough mud, some of it would stick. For people like Ms. Warren — people who warned that we were heading for a debt crisis before it happened — threaten, by their very existence, attempts by conservatives to sustain their antiregulation dogma. Such people must therefore be demonized, using whatever tools are at hand.

Let me expand on that for a moment. When the 2008 financial crisis struck, many observers — myself included — thought that it would force opponents of financial regulation to rethink their position. After all, conservatives hailed the debt boom of the Bush years as a triumph of free-market finance right up to the moment it turned into a disastrous bust.

But we underestimated the speed and determination with which opponents of regulation would rewrite history. Almost instantly, that free-market boom was retroactively reinterpreted; it became a disaster brought on by, you guessed it, excessive government intervention.

There remained, however, the inconvenient fact that some of those calling for stronger regulation have a track record that gives them a lot of credibility. And few have as much credibility as Ms. Warren.

Household debt doubled as a share of personal income over the 30 years preceding the crisis, and these days high levels of debt are widely seen as a major barrier to recovery. But only a handful of people appreciated the dangers posed by rising debt as the rise was happening. And Ms. Warren was among the foresighted few. More than a decade ago, when politicians of both parties were celebrating the wonders of modern banking and widening access to consumer credit, she was already warning that high debt levels could bring widespread financial disaster in the face of an economic downturn.

Later, she took the lead in pushing for consumer protection as an integral part of financial reform, arguing that many debt problems were created when lenders pushed borrowers into taking on obligations they didn’t understand. And she was right. As the late Edward Gramlich of the Federal Reserve — another unheeded expert, who tried in vain to get Alan Greenspan to rein in predatory lending — asked in 2007, “Why are the most risky loan products sold to the least sophisticated borrowers?” And he continued, “The question answers itself — the least sophisticated borrowers are probably duped into taking these products.”

Given Ms. Warren’s prescience and her role in shaping financial reform legislation — not to mention her effective performance running the Congressional panel exercising oversight over federal financial bailouts — it was only natural that she be appointed to get the new consumer protection agency up and running. And it’s hard to think of anyone better qualified to head the agency once it goes into action.

The fact that she’s so well qualified is, of course, the reason she’s being attacked so fiercely. Nothing could be worse, from the point of view of bankers and the politicians who serve them, than to have consumers protected by someone who knows what she’s doing and has the personal credibility to stand up to pressure.

The interesting question now is whether the Obama administration will see the war on Elizabeth Warren for what it is: a second chance to change public perceptions.

In retrospect, the financial crisis of 2008 was a missed opportunity. Yes, the White House succeeded in passing significant new financial regulation. But for whatever reason, it failed to change the terms of debate: bankers and the disaster they wrought have faded from view, and Republicans are back to denouncing the evils of regulation as if the crisis never happened.

By the sheer craziness of their attacks on Ms. Warren, however, Republicans are offering the administration a perfect opportunity to revive the debate over financial reform, not to mention highlighting exactly who’s really in Wall Street’s pocket these days. And that’s an opportunity the White House should welcome. 
(c) 2011 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

"The world is being inherited by too many defective people... I mean all the defective people, the drug addicts, mentally ill, the retarded -- all of them."
~~~ N.H. state Rep. Martin Harty

Cpl. Daniel J. Redding An ambulance loaded with injured soldiers.
The less fortunate troops, those who die, end up in the care of
fellow servicemen and women who have to carry out gruesome work
while struggling to hold on to their own sanity.

The Body Baggers Of Iraq
By Chris Hedges

Jess Goodell enlisted in the Marines immediately after she graduated from high school in 2001. She volunteered three years later to serve in the Marine Corps’ first officially declared Mortuary Affairs unit, at Camp Al Taqaddum in Iraq. Her job, for eight months, was to collect and catalog the bodies and personal effects of dead Marines. She put the remains of young Marines in body bags and placed the bags in metal boxes. Before being shipped to Dover Air Force Base, the boxes were stored, often for days, in a refrigerated unit known as a “reefer.” The work she did was called “processing.”

“We went through everything,” she said when I reached her by phone in Buffalo, N.Y., where she is about to become a student in a Ph.D. program in counseling at the University of Buffalo. “We would get everything that the body had on it when the Marine died. Everyone had a copy of The Rules of Engagement in their left breast pocket. You found notes that people had written to each other. You found lists. Lists were common, the things they wanted to do when they got home or food they wanted to eat. The most difficult was pictures. Everyone had a picture of their wife or their kids or their family. And then you had the younger kids who might be 18 years old and they had prom pictures or pictures next to what I imagine were their first cars. Everyone had a spoon in their flak jacket. There were pens and trash and wrappers and MRE food. All of it would get sent back [to the Marines’ homes].”

“We all had the idea that at any point this could be us on the table,” she said. “I think Marines thought that we went over there to die. And so people wrote letters saying ‘If I die I want you to know I love you.’ ‘I want my car to go to my younger brother.’ Things like that. They carried those letters on their bodies. We had a Marine that we processed and going through his wallet he had a picture of a sonogram of a fetus his wife had sent him. And a lot of Marines had tattooed their vital information under an arm pit. It was called a meat tag.”

The unit processed about half a dozen suicides. The suicide notes, she said, almost always cited hazing. Women, she said, were constantly harassed, especially sexually, but it often did not match the systematic punishment and humiliation meted out to men who were deemed to be inadequate Marines. She said that Marines who were overweight or unable to do the physical training were subjected to withering verbal and physical abuse. They were called “fat nasties” and “shit bags.” The harassed Marines would be assigned to other individual Marines and become their slaves. They would be sent on punishing runs in which many of them vomited. They would be forced to bear-crawl—walk on all fours—the length of a football field and back. This would be followed by sets of monkey fuckers—bending down, grabbing the ankles, crouching down like a baseball catcher and then standing up again—followed by a series of other exercises that went on until the Marines collapsed.

“They make these Marines do what they call ‘bitch’ work,” Goodell said. “They are assigned to be someone else’s ‘bitch’ for the day. We had a guy in our platoon, not in Iraq but in California, and he was overweight. He was on remedial PT, which meant he went to extra physical training. When he came to work he was rotated. One day he was with this corporal or this sergeant. One day he was sent to me. I had him for an hour. I remember sending him outside and making him carry things. It was very common for them to dig a hole and fill it back up with sand or carry sand bags up to the top of a hill and then carry them down again.”

The unit was sent to collect the bodies of the Marines who killed themselves, usually by putting rifles under their chins and pulling the trigger.

“We had a Marine who was in a port-a-john when he blew his face off,” she said. “We had another Marine who shot himself through the neck. Often they would do it in the corner of a bunker or an abandoned building. We had a couple that did it in port-a-johns. We had to go in and peel and pull off chunks of flesh and brain tissue that had sprayed the walls. Those were the most frustrating bodies to get. On those bodies we were also on cleanup crew. It was gross. We sent the suicide notes home with the bodies.”

“We had the paperwork to do fingerprinting, but we started getting bodies in which there weren’t any hands or we would get bodies that were just meat,” said Goodell, who in May will publish a memoir called “Shade It Black: Death and After in Iraq.” The book title refers to the form that required those in the mortuary unit to shade in black the body parts that were missing from a corpse. “Very quickly it became irrelevant to have a fingerprinting page to fill out. By the time we would get a body it might have been a while and rigor mortis had already set in. Their hands were usually clenched as if they were still holding their rifle. We could not unbend the fingers easily.”

The unit was also sent to collect Marines killed by improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The members would arrive on the scene and don white plastic suits, gloves and face masks.

“One of the first convoys we went to was one where the Army had been traveling over a bridge and an IED had exploded,” she said. “It had literally shot a seven-ton truck over the side and down into a ravine. Marines were already going down into the ravine. We were just getting out of our vehicles. We were putting on our gloves and putting coverings over our boots. I was with a Marine named Pineda. I was coming around the Humvee and there was a spot on the ground that was a circle. I looked at it and thought something must have exploded here or near here. I went over to look at it. I looked in and saw a boot. Then I noticed the boot had a foot in it. I almost lost my lunch.”

“In the seven-ton truck the [body of the] assistant driver, who was in the passenger seat, was trapped in the vehicle,” she said. “All of his body was in the vehicle. We had to crawl in there to get it out. It was charred. Pineda and I pulled the burnt upper torso from the truck. Then we removed a leg. Some of the remains had to be scooped up by putting out hands together as though we were cupping water. That was very common. A lot of the deaths were from IEDs or explosions. You might have an upper torso but you need to scoop the rest of the remains into a body bag. It was very common to have body bags that when you picked them up they would sink in the middle because they were filled with flesh. The contents did not resemble a human body.”

The members of the mortuary unit were shunned by the other Marines. The stench of dead flesh clung to their uniforms, hair, skin and fingers. Two members of the mortuary unit began to disintegrate psychologically. One began to take a box of Nyquil tablets every day and drink large quantities of cold medicine. He was eventually medevaced out of Iraq.

“Our cammies would be stained with blood or with brains,” she said. “When you scoop up the meat it often would get on the cuffs of our shirts. You could smell it, even after you took off your gloves. We weren’t washing our cammies everyday. Your cuff comes to your face when you eat. Physically we were stained with remains. We had a constant smell like rotten meat, which I guess is what it was since often the bodies had been in the sun and the heat for a long time. The flesh had gone bad. The skin on a body in the hot sun slides off. The skin detaches itself from the layer beneath and slides around on itself.”

“Our platoon was to the Marines what the Marines are to much of America: We did things that had to be done but that no one wanted to know about,” she said. “The other Marines knew what we did, but they did not want to think it could happen to them. I had one female Marine in my tent who would talk to me. The rest would not give me the time of day. The Marines in Mortuary Affairs knew that any day could be our day. Other Marines, who have to go out on the convoys, who have to get up the next day, have to get on with life.”

Her unit once had to recover two Marines who had drowned in a lake. It appeared one had leapt in to save the other. The bodies, which were recovered after a couple of days by Navy divers, were grotesquely swollen. One of the Marines was so bloated and misshapened that the body was difficult to carry on a litter.

“His neck was as wide as his bloated head, and his stomach jutted out like a barrel,” she writes in the book. “His testicles were the size of cantaloupes. His face was white and puffy and thick. Not fat, but thick. It was unreal. He looked like a movie prop, with thick, gray, waxy skin and the thick purple lips. We couldn’t stop looking at these bodies because they were so out of proportion and so disfigured and because, still, they looked like us.”

It was hardest to look into the faces of the dead. She and the other members of the mortuary unit swiftly covered the faces when they worked on the bodies. They avoided looking at the eyes of the corpses.

Once, the unit had to process seven Marines killed in an explosion. Seven or eight body bags were delivered to the bunker.

“We had clean body bags set up so we could sort the flesh,” she said. “Sometimes things come in with nametags. Or sometimes one is Hispanic and you could tell who was Hispanic and who was the white guy. We tried separating flesh. It was ridiculous. We would open a body bag and there was nothing but vaporized flesh. There were not four hands or a whole leg in a bag. We tried to distribute the mush evenly throughout the bags. We were trying to do the best we could sorting it out. We had the last body bag come in. We opened up the body bag and it was filled with the heads. I looked at four before looking away. Not only did we have to look at them, we had to pick them up and figure out who it belonged to. The eyes were looking back at us. We got used to a lot of it. But the heads worked the other way. They affected us more strongly as time passed. We saw on the heads the expressions of fright and horror. It made us wonder what we were doing here.”

She processed one Marine whose face was twisted at the moment of death by rage. The face of this Marine began to haunt her.

“I had this feeling that something awful had occurred,” she said. “The way he had come in and stiffened he had this look to his face that made my stomach curl. It looked angry. Often expressions on bodies would look fearful and hurt. The faces looked as though they had received death. But this face looked like he had given death.”

She and the other members of the unit became convinced they could feel and hear the souls of the dead Marines they had processed and housed in their reefers.

And then there was a body that was brought in one day that was not stiff.

“He was fully dressed in his cammies and his whole body was intact,” she said. “His hands were lying folded across his stomach.”

She and the others noticed that the Marine on the table was breathing lightly. The chest was going up and down. They frantically called their superiors to find out what to do. They were told to wait.

“Just wait? Wait for what?” she cried.

She remembers the doc saying: “There’s nothing we can do. Just wait.”

“People don’t wait for this sort of thing,” she protested. “What are we waiting for? What if this Marine was your brother, would we wait?”

They stood and watched as the man died. Goodell stormed out of the bunker.

“There was always a heaviness in the air,” she said. “It felt like I was being watched. We would feel hands on our shoulders or hands on our heads. Everyone had stories of sounds they heard or things they had felt. I was on watch at the bunker and I heard the back door open. I assumed it was one of the Marines coming in to use the Internet or the phone. I waited for them to come up. They would always come up. But no one came up. I got up and didn’t see anyone. I went back to my duty hut and I heard footsteps walk across the bunker. This kind of thing happened often.”

Her return to the United States was difficult, filled with retreats into isolation, substance abuse, deep depression and dysfunctional relationships. Slowly she pulled her life back together, finishing college and applying to graduate school so she can counsel trauma victims.

“Every single Marine I know goes to Iraq to help,” she said. “While I was there that is what I thought. That is why I volunteered. I thought I was going to help the Iraqis. I know better now. We did the dirty work. We were used by the government. The military knows that young, single men are dangerous. We breed it in Marines. We push the testosterone. We don’t want them to be educated. They are deprived of a lot and rewarded with very little. It keeps us at ground level. We cannot question anyone. We do what we are told.”

“I am still in contact with most of the people I knew,” she said. “They are not coping. One lives in VA [Veterans Affairs] constantly seeing psychologists and psychiatrists. One was kicked out of the Marines for three DUIs. Another was kicked out of the Marines because he took cocaine. Those who have gotten out are living below the poverty level. And what people do to cope is re-enlist. When they re-enlist they do better. They function. I am the only one who went to school of the 18 Marines in Mortuary Affairs. But I am in counseling at the VA. I have been diagnosed with PTSD, anxiety, depression and substance abuse. What separates me from them is that I have a great support system and I found my salvation in my education.”

“War is disgusting and horrific,” she said. “It never leaves the people who were involved in it. The damage is far greater than the lists of casualties or cost in dollars. It permeates lifestyles. It infects cultures and people and worldviews. The war is never over for us. The fighting stops. The troops get called back. But the war goes on for those damaged by war.”

Not long ago she received a text message from a Marine she had worked with in Mortuary Affairs after he tried to commit suicide.

“I’ve got $2,000 in the bank,” the message read. “Let’s meet in NYC and go out with a bang.”
(c) 2011 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. He is the author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. His latest book is, "“Death Of The Liberal Class.”

Be Consistent—Invade Saudi Arabia
By Robert Scheer

It’s the black gold that drives nations mad and inevitably raises the question of whether America and the former European colonial powers give a damn about human rights as the basis for military intervention. If Libya didn’t have more oil than any other nation in Africa would the West be unleashing high-tech military mayhem to contain what is essentially a tribal-based civil war? Once again an American president summons the passions of a human rights crusade against a reprehensible ruler whose crimes, while considerable, are not significantly different from those of dictators the U.S routinely protects.

It is difficult to escape the conclusion that Moammar Gadhafi must now go not because his human rights record is egregious but rather because his erratic hold on power seems spent. After all, from the London School of Economics to Harvard, influential foreign policy experts were all too happy until quite recently to accept Libyan payoffs in exchange for a more benign view of Gadhafi’s prospects for change under the gentle guidance of what Harvard’s Joseph Nye celebrated as “soft power.”

But that revisionist appraisal of Gadhafi suddenly became an embarrassment when this nutty dictator—whom few in the world could ever understand, let alone warm to—was exposed by defections from his own armed forces to be akin to rotten fruit destined to drop. Libya’s honeymoon with the West, during which leaders led by Tony Blair and George W. Bush thought Col. Gadhafi might finally prove to be a worthy partner more concerned with reliably exporting oil than ineffectively ranting against Western imperialism, has suddenly been abandoned as no longer necessary. As with former U.S. ally Saddam Hussein before him, the Libyan strongman now seemed an awkward relic of a time that had passed him by, and easily replaceable. Not so the royal ruler of Saudi Arabia and the surrogates he finances in Yemen and Bahrain; their suppression of their peoples still falls within acceptable limits because of the vast resources the king manages in a manner that Western leaders have long found agreeable.

But this time, in the glaring light of the democratic currents sweeping through the Mideast, the contradictions in supporting one set of dictators while toppling others may prove impossible for the U.S. and its allies to effectively manage. The recognition, widely demanded throughout the region, that even ordinary Middle Easterners have inalienable rights is a sobering notion not easily co-opted. Why don’t those rights to self-determination extend to Shiites in the richest oil province in Saudi Arabia or for that matter to Palestinians in the West Bank or Gaza?

The fallback position for U.S. policymakers is the “war on terror” standard under which our dictators are needed to control super-fanatic Muslims. That’s why the U.S trained the Republican Guard led by the son of the despised ruler of Yemen as the counterterrorism liaison with Washington. On Tuesday it was the tanks of the lavishly U.S-equipped Republican Guard that stood as the final line of support surrounding the Presidential Palace as calls for departure of Yemen’s dictator increased in intensity. The U.S. was still following the lead of Saudi Arabia, long a financier of the Yemeni ruler.

The Saudi lead was made clearer in the kingdom’s support for the royal family in neighboring Bahrain as Saudi troops were sent in along with forces from the United Arab Emirates to suppress Bahraini democracy advocates claiming that freedom would enhance the power of the majority Shiite population. The fraud here is to locate Shiite Iran as the center of terrorism when it was the Sunni monarchies that were most closely identified with the problems that gave rise to al-Qaida. Not only did 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 come from Saudi Arabia but Saudi Arabia and the UAE, along with Pakistan, were the only countries to diplomatically recognize the Taliban regime that harbored al-Qaida. In Bahrain the majority Shiite population is dismissed as potentially under the sway of the rulers of Iran without strong evidence to that effect. Once again it is convenient to ignore the fact that Iran, as was the case with Saddam’s Iraq, had nothing to do with the 9/11 attack that launched the U.S. war on terror.

All of which elevates the question of how long will the U.S. and its allies ignore the elephant in the room posed by an alliance for human rights and anti-terrorism with regimes in the Middle East that stand for neither? While the jury is still out on whether the West’s attack on Libya will prove to be a boon for that nation’s population, at the very least it should expose the deep hypocrisy of continuing to sell huge amounts of arms and otherwise supporting Saudi Arabia and its contingent tyrannies.
(c) 2011 Robert Scheer is the editor of Truthdig. A journalist with over 30 years experience, Scheer has built his reputation on the strength of his social and political writing. His columns have appeared in newspapers across the country, and his in-depth interviews have made headlines. He is the author, most recently, of "The Pornography of Power: How Defense Hawks Hijacked 9/11 and Weakened America," published by Twelve Books.

The Dead Letter Office...

Mitch gives the corpo-rat salute

Heil Obama,

Dear Gouverneur Daniels,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, your bustling the unions and getting rid of the middle class in Indiana, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Rethuglican Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

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

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

Nuclear Nightmare
By Ralph Nader

The unfolding multiple nuclear reactor catastrophe in Japan is prompting overdue attention to the 104 nuclear plants in the United States—many of them aging, many of them near earthquake faults, some on the west coast exposed to potential tsunamis.

Nuclear power plants boil water to produce steam to turn turbines that generate electricity. Nuclear power’s overly complex fuel cycle begins with uranium mines and ends with deadly radioactive wastes for which there still are no permanent storage facilities to contain them for tens of thousands of years.

Atomic power plants generate 20 percent of the nation’s electricity. Over forty years ago, the industry’s promoter and regulator, the Atomic Energy Commission estimated that a full nuclear meltdown could contaminate an area “the size of Pennsylvania” and cause massive casualties. You, the taxpayers, have heavily subsidized nuclear power research, development, and promotion from day one with tens of billions of dollars.

Because of many costs, perils, close calls at various reactors, and the partial meltdown at the Three Mile Island plant in Pennsylvania in 1979, there has not been a nuclear power plant built in the United States since 1974.

Now the industry is coming back “on your back” claiming it will help reduce global warming from fossil fuel emitted greenhouse gases.

Pushed aggressively by President Obama and Energy Secretary Chu, who refuses to meet with longtime nuclear industry critics, here is what “on your back” means:

1. Wall Street will not finance new nuclear plants without a 100% taxpayer loan guarantee. Too risky. That’s a lot of guarantee given that new nukes cost $12 billion each, assuming no mishaps. Obama and the Congress are OK with that arrangement.

2. Nuclear power is uninsurable in the private insurance market—too risky. Under the Price-Anderson Act, taxpayers pay the greatest cost of a meltdown’s devastation.

3. Nuclear power plants and transports of radioactive wastes are a national security nightmare for the Department of Homeland Security. Imagine the target that thousands of vulnerable spent fuel rods present for sabotage.

4. Guess who pays for whatever final waste repositories are licensed? You the taxpayer and your descendants as far as your gene line persists. Huge decommissioning costs, at the end of a nuclear plant’s existence come from the ratepayers’ pockets.

5. Nuclear plant disasters present impossible evacuation burdens for those living anywhere near a plant, especially if time is short.

Imagine evacuating the long-troubled Indian Point plants 26 miles north of New York City. Workers in that region have a hard enough time evacuating their places of employment during 5 pm rush hour. That’s one reason Secretary of State Clinton (in her time as Senator of New York) and Governor Andrew Cuomo called for the shutdown of Indian Point.

6. Nuclear power is both uneconomical and unnecessary. It can’t compete against energy conservation, including cogeneration, windpower and ever more efficient, quicker, safer, renewable forms of providing electricity. Amory Lovins argues this point convincingly (see Physicist Lovins asserts that nuclear power “will reduce and retard climate protection.” His reasoning: shifting the tens of billions invested in nuclear power to efficiency and renewables reduce far more carbon per dollar ( The country should move deliberately to shutdown nuclear plants, starting with the aging and seismically threatened reactors. Peter Bradford, a former Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) commissioner has also made a compelling case against nuclear power on economic and safety grounds (

There is far more for ratepayers, taxpayers and families near nuclear plants to find out. Here’s how you can start:

1. Demand public hearings in your communities where there is a nuke, sponsored either by your member of Congress or the NRC, to put the facts, risks and evacuation plans on the table. Insist that the critics as well as the proponents testify and cross-examine each other in front of you and the media.

2. If you call yourself conservative, ask why nuclear power requires such huge amounts of your tax dollars and guarantees and can’t buy adequate private insurance. If you have a small business that can’t buy insurance because what you do is too risky, you don’t stay in business.

3. If you are an environmentalist, ask why nuclear power isn’t required to meet a cost-efficient market test against investments in energy conservation and renewables.

4. If you understand traffic congestion, ask for an actual real life evacuation drill for those living and working 10 miles around the plant (some scientists think it should be at least 25 miles) and watch the hemming and hawing from proponents of nuclear power.

The people in northern Japan may lose their land, homes, relatives, and friends as a result of a dangerous technology designed simply to boil water. There are better ways to generate steam.

Like the troubled Japanese nuclear plants, the Indian Point plants and the four plants at San Onofre and Diablo Canyon in southern California rest near earthquake faults. The seismologists concur that there is a 94% chance of a big earthquake in California within the next thirty years. Obama, Chu and the powerful nuke industry must not be allowed to force the American people to play Russian Roulette!
(c) 2011 Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His most recent book - and first novel - is, Only The Super Wealthy Can Save Us. His most recent work of non-fiction is The Seventeen Traditions.

No Laws, No Secrets
The Anarchist Creed of Julian Assange
By Christopher Ketcham

About the only intelligent thing the U.S. government has said to date about Julian Assange is that the man is an “anarchist.” A State Department spokesperson lamented in December that said anarchist is “trying to undermine the collaboration, the cooperation, the system by which we engage with other governments, cooperate with other governments and solve regional challenges.” More precisely, Assange is undermining the system by which we don’t cooperate at all, or pretend to cooperate, or force cooperation by bombing, killing, lying, cheating, smiling and smiling while villainous—all in service of “solving regional challenges,” which is to say in service of the imperial state.

For exposing state secrets unfiltered for all people to read, Assange is also called a terrorist and a destroyer. Perhaps he is—in the anarchist tradition of Mikhail Bakunin, who trusted in the “eternal spirit which destroys and annihilates only because it is the unsearchable and eternally creative source of all life. The urge to destroy is also a creative urge.” Also from Bakunin: “Universal peace will be impossible so long as the present centralized states exist. We must desire their destruction in order that, on the ruins of these forced unions ... there may arise free unions organized from below by the free federations of communes into provinces, of provinces into nations. ...”

The centralized state apparatus, wherein the powerful seek to manufacture consent from the irksome citizenry, depends on operational and informational “security,” which we can define as secrecy, non-accountability and freedom from citizen interference—freedom from pesky fellows like Assange. “Leaking is basically an anarchist act,” Assange himself has said. This is because it is an implicit attack on the functioning of the state apparatus. If everyone leaked, there would be no “security” for government, but for my money—literally, since taxes pay for the apparatus—there is a different kind of security in knowing what the government is actually up to. It’s the due diligence any man burdened with a tax on his labor would want for the investment in the public, which is really an investment in his fellow man, the expectation of return (at the very least) being that the common good will get a cash-jolt infusion, roads will be maintained, sewers will keep floating our feces to the sea, the lights will stay on in the streets; and perhaps, too, that some help will come to the weak, the lost, the confused, those without homes, without work, without soundness of body or mind. We want a spreadsheet for our payouts, certainly to know the exact coordinates where the money goes to burn villagers 6,000 miles away and render grown men into screeching creatures with children now legless or burned half to ash.

Barred from this birthright of knowledge as citizens, we are told that the children are burned in our name, the government as proxy though far from our control; while at the same time it is said that we the people are the boss, the ones to whom the predatory government answers. The singalong of by/for/of the people is administered like the usual anesthetic. We are told Julian Assange breaks laws established by government for the protection of the people. We forget the words of our homegrown anarchist Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Good men must not obey the laws too well. ... Wild liberty develops iron conscience.”

Those of iron conscience are of course misfits, crazy, candidates for long years in prison. Thus Bradley Manning, the Army private who allegedly leaked many of the offending documents to Assange. Thus Assange: probably soon to be nailed to a wall not far from Manning, who is currently held in conditions as close to torture as his handlers can manage without revealing themselves as the psychopaths they are.

Assange’s dumping of secrets, in particular without the proper vetting by “experts,” is said to endanger the republic because it threatens security. Yet the experts too often appear in our midst as editorial board members tending the gateway institutions of the mass media, in close conversation with government, under its influence at dinner or over drinks, the wives in the kitchen swapping recipes or pills. Baseball bats to the experts!—let them crow that the “process” of “authoritative review” has been monkey-wrenched. We say: less security in exchange for more liberty—Ben Franklin’s old bargain at the founding.

What commentators on Assange don’t seem to get is that he is channeling Thomas Paine, who declared without bounds his trust in humankind as smart enough, sensible enough, to absorb complexity and hold it up to the light of reason and to make the right judgments—without the dictates and the circumscriptions of government. Paine, in the anarchist tradition, wrote that it was “the natural constitution of man” to organize in society with “order and decorum”—which is to say that man at his best could juggle the myriad pieces of information in society and make something functional out of the surfeit. At the same revolutionary moment in which Paine was writing—when Americans in the 1770s rose up against tyranny—Adam Smith made a comparable point in the realm of classical economics: People naturally wanted to associate, sharing free and open information in the marketplace, shorn of top-down control. And with that shared information, promised Smith, a dynamic society would be built.

The antipodal tradition in which the U.S. government operates, to borrow from the Grand Inquisitor of Dostoevsky, sees mankind as benighted, weak, stupid: Mystery, Magic and Authority will serve to keep the mob in line. The centralized state in collusion with business offers much mystery and much magic, and wars and economic turmoil unfold for reasons offered to the public that have little relation to reality. Man does not want freedom, says the Grand Inquisitor, because freedom implies choice, agency, thoughtfulness, and these are painful burdens. Such burdens are to be borne not by the average man, but by the elect—the implied message of our government. Tom Paine answers: “Notwithstanding the mystery with which the science of government has been enveloped, for the purpose of enslaving, plundering and imposing upon mankind, it is of all things the least mysterious and the most easy to be understood.” He adds: “Nothing more than simple facts, plain arguments, and common sense” is necessary to shatter the mystery.

Assange has offered the facts, plain as day, and only those without common sense can ignore them. In this regard, WikiLeaks is an act of profound optimism, the anarchist optimism that posits human freedom as more important than the sanctity of governments. Under the mandate of the centralized state, such optimism must be crushed.
© 2011 Christopher Ketcham, a freelance journalist in New York City, writes for Harper’s, Vanity Fair, GQ, and many other magazines. Find more of his work at or contact him at

The Cartoon Corner...

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

To End On A Happy Note...

I Left My Love
By Stan Jones

I left my love, my love I left her
a sleepin' in her bed
I turned my back on my true love
Went fightin' Johnny Reb

I left my love a letter in the holler of a tree
I told her she would find me in the U.S. Calvary

Heigh-O, down we go there's no such word as can't
We'll ride clean down to Hell! And! Back!
For Ulysses Simpson Grant

Heigh-O, down we go there's no such word as can't
We'll ride clean down to Hell! And! Back!
For Ulysses Simpson Grant

I left my love, my love I left her
a sleepin' in her bed
I turned my back on my true love
Went fightin' Johnny Reb

I left my love a letter in the holler of a tree
I told her she would find me in the U.S. Calvary
In the U.S. Calvary

Heigh-O, down we go there's no such word as can't
We'll ride clean down to New Orleans!
For Ulysses Simpson Grant
© 1959/2011 Stan Jones

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Madness In Madtown
By Will Durst

Best be vigilant for an inadvertent head butt as the eyes of the world recoil from that crazed leader, besieged in his own Capital, defying reality while obstinately holding onto a tenuous power and attacking his citizenry through a conflicted security force. Of course I’m talking about Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Think a slightly less swarthy Midwestern version of Colonel Qaadafi.

The locals call Madison, Mad Town, and hardly has it ever lived up to that reputation as heartily as in the past month. Following the November sweep of both houses of the legislature, Walker, Lexus Ranger, declared the Badger State’s deficit was due to those dastardly public unions and his so- called "Budget Repair Bill" sought money from their pockets, an end to collective bargaining, placed obstacles in the way of continued accreditation and advocated public spanking as a punishment.

This proposal came the very week after he ushered in $137 million in corporate tax cuts for the state, which is a lot like paying for your quarterly investors luncheon by garnishing the wages of the waiters. Money for the rich, from the middle class, again. Robin Hood’s evil twin must be exhausted.

Dashing rumors of an imminent compromise, Walker, ran an end- around his state’s Democratic Senate exiles, ramming the bill through a tricky parliamentary procedure in a closed- door session, isolating the issues into non- fiscal elements. So, first it was all about the money, but then, about the money- not so much. Unless you count the big national bucks that lie in union busting?

Like a spreading alien virus, this Republican war on workers is waging and raging across the nation. 11 states have pending legislation to strip unions of various rights. Indiana Democratic politicians joined their Wisconsin colleagues seeking political asylum in Illinois. Poor Illinois. Like they don’t have enough politicians sitting around doing nothing.

Wisconsin is the birthplace of the Progressive movement with a long proud history of activism. So, this naked power grab runs the risk of offending ordinary Wisconsinites like a New York Cheddar winning the blue medal at the State Fair. And whose legality is more suspect than heroin in a holding cell.

More paranoid people might smell a conspiracy. Wealthy Wall Street bankers cause an economic meltdown, make obscene profits in the ensuing recession, then convince the populace that everything can simply be fixed through more tax cuts. So they can create jobs. Of course with $5 a gallon gasoline that two- way commute to China is going to be a bitch.

But if you think The Walker Coup means this issue is dead, you’ve obviously been spending too much time toasting the sunset while eating watercress sandwiches on the bridge of your yacht. As is their way, the GOP might once again have overreached and awakened a sleeping giant. Today, we are all Cheeseheads. Or as JFK might have said "Ich bin ein kaasekopf."

All heck is about to break loose. While sanctions and a no- fly zone may be off the table, recalls, retribution and recriminations definitely are. As a matter of fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear the poo- bahs in the upper echelon of the AFL- CIO decide to bestow Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker with its Organizer of the Year Award. Richy Richly deserved.
(c) 2011 Will Durst, is a San Francisco based political comedian, Will Durst, often writes. Such as the previous frivolity. Don't forget his new CD, "Raging Moderate" from Stand-Up Records now available on both iTunes and Amazon. Coming soon from Ulysses Press: “Where the Rogue Things Go!” Pre-order your copy at Amazon.

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Issues & Alibis Vol 11 # 12 (c) 03/25/2011

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