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In This Edition

Noam Chomsky sees, "In Palestine, Dignity And Violence."

Uri Avnery discovers, "Idiocracy."

Robert Scheer says, "It Wasn't David Stockman Who Wrecked The Economy."

Glenn Greenwald examines, "The Message Sent By America's Invisible Victims."

Jim Hightower finds, "Wall Street Banksters Now Too-Big-To-Jail."

Medea Benjamin returns with, "Challenges Of Arab Uprisings Reflected At World Social Forum."

James Donahue explains, "The Significance Of Finding The God Particle."

John Nichols asks, "What If Sherrod Brown, Battler Against 'Too-Big-To-Fail' Banks, Gets Banking Committee Chair?"

Frank Scott exclaims, "Watch Out... We're Surrounded!"

Robert Reich tells why, "Why Politicians Are Sensitive To Public Opinion On Same-Sex Marriage, Immigration, And Guns, But Not On The Economy."

Paul Krugman learns, "Lessons From A Comeback."

David Sirota reports on, "New GOP Plan: Guns For Domestic Abusers."

Ira Chernus uncovers, "The Conspiracy To Kill MLK."

Senator Roy Blunt R-MO wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Chris Hedges explores, "The Treason Of Intellectuals."

Norman Solomon joins, "The Growing Campaign To Revoke Obama's Nobel Peace Prize."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Will Durst concludes, "Equal Is As Equal Does" but first Uncle Ernie explicates, "When Crude Oil Isn't Crude Oil."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Steve Kelley, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Brian McFadden, Mr. Fish, Susan Walsh, Awaken The Mind, Ahmad Masood, Wissam Nassar, Roots Action, Reuters, Getty, N.Y. Times, University of Iowa Libraries, You Tube.Com and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

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

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













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When Crude Oil Isn't Crude Oil
When it spills on the ground
By Ernest Stewart



"The question is why we should continue this exemption given that it's clear tar sands oil is more likely to spill because it's more corrosive...
and more and more tar sand is coming into the US." ~~~ Oil Change International

That when it comes to people's safety
money wins out every time.
and we almost lost Detroit
this time, this time.
We Almost Lost Detroit ~~~ Gil Scott Heron

"But Obama ignored [the petition], instead choosing to sign a bill that effectively bars federal courts from being able to halt the sale or planting of GMO or GE crops and seeds, no matter what health consequences from the consumption of these products may come to light in the future." ~~~ Connor Sheets

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, ooo
Help ~~~ The Beatles




I see where Exxon's aging Pegasus pipeline has dumped over 10,000 barrels of Canadian heavy crude all over central Arkansas; but guess what, a technicality says it's not oil -- letting the energy giant off the hook from paying into a national cleanup fund. I'm going to repeat that again for those of you on drugs.

Exxon's bought and paid for the US Congress loop hole that let it off the hook for paying for its big disaster! Ha! Ha!


Legally speaking, diluted bitumen, like the heavy crude that's overrun Mayflower, Arkansas, is not classified as 'oil'. And it's that very distinction that exempts Exxon from contributing to the government's oil spillage cleanup fund. However, that doesn't keep you from paying for it -- watch those tax dollars at work!

Exxon/Mobil has already confirmed that the compromised pipeline was transporting "low-quality Wabasca Heavy crude" from Canada's Alberta region. That particular form of crude contains large quantities of bitumen - a "thick, sticky, black semi-solid form of petroleum which is transported in a diluted form (dilbit) as it makes its way from Canada to US refineries," says Oil Change International, which pointed out the typical corpo-rat legal exemption.

Companies that transport oil are required to pay $.08 per barrel into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund. The cash is used by the US government to respond to oil spills. But there's a catch - Exxon is exempt from paying into the fund, because its pipelines aren't considered to be carrying "conventional oil;" and, of course, it has bought many Con-gressmen and Sin-ators -- not to mention a whole flock of Presidents, too!

You may recall that in Michigan in 2010, more than one million barrels of diluted bitumen were spilled into the Kalamazoo River. To make matters worse, unlike conventional crude oil, bitumen heavy crude sinks. The ensuing environmental impact has made that Michigan spill the most expensive in US history, as toxic substances seeped into the surrounding soil. As it is doing now in Arkansas, and will no doubt do sometime in the future along the 2,151 mile long Keystone Pipeline, which, like the Pegasus pipeline will be carrying the same heavy crude diluted bitumen across the length of America. Did I mention that this oil will then be directly shipped overseas with none of it going to us, except, of course, whatever spills into the ground water table and comes out in a frothy glass of water out of your tap! Keystone is a done deal; and America will pay and pay for this disaster in the making with Barry standing by to attach his signature to this outrage. Is anyone surprised by this, anyone at all?

In Other News

Just as Barry gets ready to start building those new nuke plants down in Texas by the same company that built those plants in Fukushima, and didn't that work out well, there is more "good news" on the nuclear front. I see that for the last couple of years in Michigan our snow is packing quite a radioactive punch from those destroyed reactors, right on the edge of being dangerous, Will Robinson! Did I mention those crazy folks down at Fermi want to build another reactor to replace one of the ones that almost melted down? See John G. Fuller's book entitled "We Almost Lost Detroit."

A few million tons of radioactive poison still has no place to go, and will be killing the unwary for the next 250,000 years. It just keeps piling up, and in some cases, is starting to leak into the ground water; and in some cases, may be just a heart beat or two away from exploding and sending a cloud of radioactive death your way. Got your potassium iodide tablets handy, ya'll? You'd better, pilgrim!

Here's some good news, NOT, for you folks in the Pacific Northwest, especially along the Washington-Oregon boarder. The Hanford Nuclear Reservation is leaking from at least six underground tanks that hold a stew of toxic, radioactive waste at the nation's most contaminated nuclear site. Not only that, but they "pose a possible risk of explosion," a nuclear safety board said in advance of confirmation hearings for the next leader of the Energy Department.

As we're finding out now, state and federal officials have long known that hydrogen gas could build up inside the tanks -- leading to an explosion that would release radioactive material. Central to the cleanup of the 586-square-mile site are the removal of 56 million gallons of highly radioactive, toxic waste left from plutonium production from underground tanks. Many of the site's single-shell tanks, which have just one wall, have leaked in the past; and state and federal officials announced in February that six such tanks are leaking now.

Free solar power, free wind power, free wave power, free geo-thermal power, safe, renewable and won't melt the skin off your bones or the bones of your ancestors a quarter million years from now too! WTF, America? What's it going to take?

And Finally

Thanks to the junior Sin-ator from Missouri, Roy Blunt (R-Missouri), who "worked hand-in-hand with Monsanto to craft the language in the rider" and to Barry, who like Roy, has been bought and paid for by Monsanto; Barry signed into law what's being called by many the "Monsanto Protection Act of 2013."

You may recall we awarded the Vidkun Quisling Award to Roy's and Barry's fellow traveler, Sin-ator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), who won the award for the week of March 22 - 28 -- for introducing Roy's rider in the Sin-ate, and hiding it 78 pages down in the thick of H.R. 933 (section 735), the continuing resolution spending bill that Barry signed last week. Barry signed this, even though well over a quarter million people signed a petition asking him not to sign, but veto the bill with the rider attached, after the House and Senate agree upon the bill and left the rider attached. As James Brumley explains,
"The USDA [US Department of Agriculture] oversaw and approved (or denied) the testing of genetically modified seeds, while the federal courts retained the authority to halt the testing or sale of these plants if it felt that public health was being jeopardized. With HR 933 now a law, however, the court system no longer has the right to step in and protect the consumer."

Of course, we knew Barry would sign it, sign it no matter what, after appointing Monsanto's head lobbyist Michael Taylor to become senior advisor to the FDA's commissioner and put Roundup Mike in charge of policy. You may remember Michael for his no-test approvals of various poisonous GMO plants, and very soon animals, as well. When I keep saying we are soooooo screwed, I'm not trying to be cute; I'm serious as a heart attack, if that's serious enough for you! (Yeah I thought it; but I didn't write it!) On a happy note, Blunt's Wikipedia page was vandalized this week to read in the first paragraph, "His Senate seat was previously held by Republican Kit Bond, until Bond's retirement, and will be sold by Blunt to Monsanto Corporation upon his retirement." Well said, indeed!

Therefore, and whereby, a vote of the board of governors, we award this week's Vidkun Quisling Award to Roy Blunt!

Keepin' On

I finally got around to writing Christopher Rabbit's Big Easter Adventure on Friday and Saturday, then stayed up late Saturday building a page for it, which is always a drag; but, strangely enough, it wasn't. In fact, it reminded me of how much fun writing used to be before the 12-12-2000 coup d'etat ruined everything -- costing millions their lives. Now writing is something that must be done, and done on time about horrible people and horrible happenings. Things that must be done for the good of mankind -- trumps having fun in life.

Trouble is, it doesn't stop there, it's more demanding than just 60 hours or so every week that it takes to put this thing together. It takes about four ounces of gold, along with the sponsors to pay the bills around here -- each and every year, after year, after year! Thanks to my last couple of wives, the old bank account that was going to last me until I was at least 100 has long since disappeared; and there're no Ducats in the bucket to pay for this.

Ergo, it's up to you to step up and lend a hand, if you can. Unlike most e-zines, we have no fees to come and read -- no first and second class tier news to give you or keep you from seeing. It's all there, for everybody to use as they see fit. We've been fighting for you since the coup; please help us continue to keep fighting the good fight. Just send us what you can, whenever you can; and we'll keep fighting for you and yours!

*****


06-16-1934 ~ 04-02-2013
Thanks for the laughs!



06-02-1930 ~ 04-02-2013
Thanks for the films!



05-12-1926 ~ 04-02-2013
Thanks for the films!



05-07-1927 ~ 04-03-2013
Thanks for the books!



06-18-1942 ~ 04-04-2013
Those who can do, those who can't critique!


*****

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*****

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) 2013 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for the last 12 years managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. Visit the Magazine's page on Facebook and like us when you do. Follow me on Twitter.











Palestinian boys sit in rubble around a fire in a house destroyed during
an Israeli airstrike in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip, Nov. 26, 2012.



In Palestine, Dignity And Violence
By Noam Chomsky

The Swedish novelist Henning Mankell tells of an experience in Mozambique during the civil war horrors there 25 years ago, when he saw a young man walking toward him in ragged clothes.

"I noticed something that I will never forget for as long as I live," Mankell says. "I looked at his feet. He had no shoes. Instead he had painted shoes on his feet. He had used the colors in the ground and in the roots to replace his shoes. He had come up with a way to keep his dignity."

Such scenes will evoke poignant memories among those who have witnessed cruelty and degradation, which are everywhere. One striking case, though only one of a great many, is Gaza, which I was able to visit for the first time last October.

There violence is met by the steady resistance of the "samidin" - those who endure, to borrow Raja Shehadeh's evocative term in "The Third Way," his memoir on Palestinians under occupation, 30 years ago. Greeting me on my return home were the reports of the Israeli assault on Gaza in November, supported by the United States and tolerated politely by Europe as usual.

Israel isn't Gaza's only adversary. Gaza's southern border remains largely under the control of Egypt's dreaded secret police, the Mukhabarat, which credible reports link closely to the CIA and the Israeli Mossad.

Just last month a young Gaza journalist sent me an article describing the Egyptian government's latest assault on the people of Gaza.

A network of tunnels into Egypt is a lifeline for Gazans imprisoned under harsh siege and constant attack. Now the Egyptian government has devised a new way to block the tunnels: flooding them with sewage.

Meanwhile the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem reports on a new device that the Israeli army is using to counter the weekly nonviolent protests against Israel's illegal Separation Wall - in reality an Annexation Wall.

The samidin have been ingenious in coping with tear gas so the army has escalated, spraying protesters and homes with jets of a liquid as noxious as raw sewage.

These attacks provide more evidence that great minds think alike, combining criminal repression with humiliation.

The tragedy of Gaza traces back to 1948, when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled in terror or were forcibly expelled to Gaza by conquering Israeli forces.

Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion held that "The Arabs of the Land of Israel have only one function left to them - to run away."

It is noteworthy that today the strongest support for Israel in the international arena comes from the United States, Canada and Australia, the so-called Anglosphere - settler-colonial societies based on extermination or expulsion of indigenous populations in favor of a higher race, and where such behavior is considered natural and praiseworthy.

For decades Gaza has been a showcase for violence of every kind. The record includes such carefully planned atrocities as Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009 - "infanticide," as it was called by Norwegian physicians Mads Gilbert and Erik Fosse, who worked at Gaza's al-Shifa Hospital with their Palestinian and Norwegian colleagues through the criminal assault. The word is apt, considering the hundreds of children massacred.

Violence ranges through just about every kind of cruelty that humans have used their higher mental faculties to devise, up to the pain of exile.

The pain is particularly stark in Gaza, where older people can still look across the border toward the homes from which they were driven - or could if they were able to approach the border without being killed.

One form of punishment has been to close off more of the Gazan side of the border, turning it into a buffer zone, including half of Gaza's arable land, according to Harvard's Sara Roy, a leading scholar on Gaza.

While a showcase for the human capacity for violence, Gaza is also an inspiring exemplar of the demand for dignity.

Ghada Ageel, a young woman who escaped from Gaza to Canada, writes about her 87-year-old refugee grandmother, still trapped in the Gaza prison. Before her grandmother's expulsion from a now-destroyed village, "she owned a house, farms and land and she enjoyed honor, dignity and hope."

Amazingly, like Palestinians generally, the elderly woman hasn't given up hope.

"When I saw my grandmother in November 2012 she was unusually happy," Ageel writes. "Surprised by her high spirits, I asked for an explanation. She looked me in the eye and, to my surprise, said that she was no longer worried about" her native village and the life of dignity that she has lost, for her irrevocably.

The village, her grandmother told Ageel, "'is in your heart, and I also know that you are not alone in your journey. Don't be discouraged. We are getting there."'

The search for dignity is understood instinctively by those who hold the clubs, and who recognize that apart from violence, the best way to undermine dignity is by humiliation. That is second nature in prisons.

The normal practice in Israeli prisons is once again under scrutiny. In February, Arafat Jaradat, a 30-year-old gas-station attendant, died in Israeli custody. The circumstances might yet spark another uprising.

Jaradat was arrested in his home at midnight (an appropriate hour to intimidate his family), and charged with having thrown stones and a Molotov cocktail a few months earlier, during Israel's November attack on Gaza.

Jaradat, healthy when arrested, was last seen alive in court by his lawyer, who describes him as "doubled over, scared, confused and shrunken."

The court remanded him to another 12 days of detention. Jaradat was found dead in his cell.

Journalist Amira Hass writes that "The Palestinians do not need an Israeli investigation. For them, Jaradat's death is much bigger than the tragedy he and his family have suffered. From their experience, Jaradat's death is a(euro) [ proof that the Israeli system routinely uses torture. From their experience, the goal of torture is not only to convict someone, but mainly to deter and subjugate an entire people."

The means are humiliation, degradation and terror - familiar features of repression at home and abroad.

The need to humiliate those who raise their heads is an ineradicable element of the imperial mentality.

In the case of Israel-Palestine, there has long been a near-unanimous international consensus on a diplomatic settlement, blocked by the United States for 35 years, with tacit European acceptance.

Contempt for the worthless victims is no small part of the barrier to achieving a settlement with at least a modicum of justice and respect for human dignity and rights. It's not beyond imagination that the barrier can be overcome by dedicated work, as has been done elsewhere.

Unless the powerful are capable of learning to respect the dignity of the victims, impassable barriers will remain, and the world will be doomed to violence, cruelty and bitter suffering.
(c) 2013 Noam Chomsky is emeritus professor of linguistics and philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is co-author, with Gilbert Achcar, of Perilous Power: The Middle East & U.S. Foreign Policy: Dialogues on Terror, Democracy, War, and Justice. His most recent book is Power Systems: Conversations on Global Democratic Uprisings and the New Challenges to U.S. Empire.

Editor's Note: This article is adapted from the Edward W. Said lecture given by Noam Chomsky in London on March 18, 2013.





Idiocracy
By Uri Avnery

SO, FINALLY our Prime Minister has apologized to Turkey for "operational mistakes" that "might have" led to the death of nine Turks during the attack on MV Mavi Marmara, the ship which tried to break the Israeli blockade on Gaza.

It took him two years and ten months to do so.

Hallelujah.

But the real apology should not have been addressed to the Turks, but to the Israelis. And not just for the mistakes committed by the soldiers.

THE ENTIRE affair was an act of pure idiocy, from beginning to end. Right from its inception.

It is easy to say so with hindsight. But my friends and I pointed to the stupidity of the action publicly, before it all started.

As we said at the time, the damage inherent in stopping the Turkish ship was much more serious than the damage - if any - that would have been caused by letting it sail to its destination.

After all, what is the worst that could have happened? The ship would have anchored opposite the shore of Gaza, the international activists on board would have received a tumultuous welcome, Hamas would have celebrated a small victory, and that's that. A week later, nobody would have cared or remembered.

Officially, the blockade was imposed by the Israeli navy for the sole purpose of preventing arms reaching the Hamas-governed Gaza Strip. If this had been a serious concern, the Mavi Marmara could have been stopped on the high seas, searched for arms and released. This was not even considered.

From then on, it became solely a matter of prestige. Of childish political or personal ego. In short, of idiocy.

In a military action, one never knows what can happen. Things never proceed as planned. Casualties must be expected. And, as has been said, the plan itself is the first casualty in any war.

So the plan went awry. Instead of meekly submitting to the attack in international waters, the Turks had the incredible impudence of attacking the soldiers with sticks and such. The poor soldiers had no choice but to shoot them dead.

The reasonable thing would have been to apologize immediately to the victims' families, pay generous compensation and let the whole affair simmer down.

But no, not we Israelis. Because We Were In The Right. We always are. It's in our nature. We can't help it.

(I remember a driving school of the British army in Palestine. In the center there stood the remnants of a crashed car with the inscription: "But He Was In The Right!")

So we mistreated the passengers, stole their cameras and other belongings, and let them go only after a thorough humiliation. We accused them of being dangerous terrorists. We came near to demanding indemnities for our soldiers, who were, after all, the real victims.

THE SHEER stupidity of all this was illustrated by the fact that Turkey was our closest ally in the region.

The two militaries had established very close relations. The intelligence services of the two countries were Siamese twins. We sold them huge amounts of military equipment and services. We held joint military maneuvers.

Between the two peoples, relations were even more cordial. Every year, half a million Israelis spent their vacation on the Turkish Riviera. The Turkish terms for tourists, "everything included", became a byword in Israel.

The Turkish-Israeli honeymoon started right from the beginning, when David Ben-Gurion created the "strategy of the periphery" - alliances with non-Arab countries surrounding the Arab world. Turkey was to play an important role in it, together with the Shah's Iran, Ethiopia, Chad and others.

What went wrong? Apologists of the idiocrats assert that relations would have deteriorated even without the Mavi Marmara. Having been rebuffed and humiliated by the European Union, Turkey was turning towards the Arab world. Also, a religious party had taken power from the secular heirs of the great Ataturk, and especially from the army. But in view of these developments, would it not have been wise to be even more careful than before in our dealings with Turkey?

Instead, our Deputy Foreign Minister, one Danny Ayalon, did something so colossally idiotic that it should be taught in diplomacy school. He summoned the Turkish ambassador to deliver a rebuke, offered him a seat markedly lower than his own and publicized the humiliation.

What actually happened was that Ayalon held the meeting in his Knesset room. In all these rooms - including mine, long ago - there is one standard chair, and a low sofa. The Turkish diplomat felt quite comfortable and did not feel insulted. But when Ayalon asked the journalists in and told them to notice the humiliation, they published it and caused the Turkish public to explode in anger.

The text of the apology was already formulated more than two years ago. The Israeli army begged the government to accept it. But our then Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, put all his considerable weight on the scales and vetoed the move. We are a proud nation with a proud army, consisting of proud soldiers.

Israelis don't apologize. Ever.

FEARING LIEBERMAN, Binyamin Netanyahu had to be very circumspect.

Lieberman is now a minister-on-hold. He cannot regain his ministerial office until after - and if - he is acquitted of the bribery charges for which he has been indicted. But he is still the chief of a party on which Netanyahu has to depend for parliamentary support.

So an elaborate maneuver had to be enacted. The apology was agreed upon with the Turks long ago. President Obama's visit to Israel was to be the occasion, giving the president the aura of a successful mediator. But the deal was to be announced only during the very last minutes of the visit.

Why? Simply to allow Netanyahu to pretend that it was all done on the spur of the moment, in a telephone conversation initiated by Obama. This being so, he could not possibly have consulted with his cabinet and with Lieberman, could he?

Childish? Infantile? Indeed.

ONLY IN Israel? I doubt it. I am afraid that in most countries, large and small, that's how crucial affairs of state are managed. And not only nowadays.

It is a frightening thought, and therefore unacceptable to most people. They like to believe that their fate rests in the hands of responsible leaders endowed with superior intelligence. Much as they refuse to believe that the sky is empty, and no almighty Super-Father with unlimited compassion is waiting there to answer their prayers.

The first historical example of utter incompetence that springs to my mind is the outbreak of World War I. A group of nationalist Serbs killed the Austrian heir to the throne. A deplorable incident, but certainly no reason for a war in which several million human beings perish miserably.

But the nincompoops surrounding the 84-year old emperor in Vienna thought that this was an opportunity to win an easy victory, and delivered an ultimatum to the Serbs. The Russian Czar, surrounded by dukes and archdukes, wanted to help his fellow Slavs and mobilized his army. They probably did not know that according to a military plan prepared long in advance, in this case the German army had to attack and conquer France, before the cumbersome Russian army could complete its mobilization and reach the German border. The German Kaiser, a disturbed child who never grew up, acted accordingly. The British, who never liked to be governed by people who were too clever, rushed to the aid of poor France. And so it went.

Could all these leaders have been complete fools? Was Europe governed by an all-pervading idiocracy? Perhaps. But perhaps there were reasonably intelligent people among them. Is it just that power not only corrupts, as Lord Acton famously pronounced, but also stupefies (in the sense of making people stupid)?

In any case, I have known in my life so many normal people who, upon assuming power, did so many utterly stupid things, that the latter must be the case.

I WISH I had the will-power to resist telling again the classic Jewish joke about the Turks, which I quoted immediately after the Mavi Marmara incident.

It's about the Jewish mother in 19th century Russia, whose son was called up to serve in the Czar's army in the war against Ottoman Turkey. "Don't overdo things'" she entreats him, "Kill a Turk and rest. Kill another Turk and rest again, kill..."

"But what if the Turk kills me?" the boy interjects.

"Kill you?" responds the mother in horrified surprise, "But Why? What have you done to him?!"

Kill a Turk and apologize...
(c) 2013 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom




David Stockman, wunderkind of the Reagan administration and a key
architect of the biggest tax cut in U.S. history, poses for a recent portrait.



It Wasn't David Stockman Who Wrecked The Economy
By Robert Scheer

Why is David Stockman driving everyone crazy? The shoot-the-messenger frenzy that has greeted Sunday's New York Times op-ed by Ronald Reagan's former budget director leaves one searching for the message that has so unhinged his critics.

I borrowed that word "unhinged" from more than one of Stockman's critics upset over his "rant" bemoaning the loss of the gold standard and the statist economics practiced by just about every American president from Franklin Roosevelt through Ronald Reagan on to the current inhabitant of the White House.

The only exception was a few golden years of fiscal responsibility under Dwight Eisenhower, who, like Stockman, was possessed of prudent Midwestern economic values. Stockman remains some kind of naive libertarian actually convinced that a free market ought to be free of control by the financial cartels and the cronies they purchase in government. What's all the outrage about? What's wrong with "putting the great Wall Street banks out in the cold to compete as at-risk free enterprises, without access to cheap Fed loans or deposit insurance"? That's the same cold world in which the rest of us live.

The headline on Stockman's piece-"State-Wrecked: The Corruption of Capitalism in America"-is unquestionably accurate. Actually, the title of his just-released book-"The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America"-is a bit softer, but you get the point. What his critics find so disturbing is not a quant argument about the purity of monetary policy but rather the bold assertion that the overall American system of crony capitalism is in fact wrecked. This is a contention that most Americans might readily agree with in terms of their daily experience, but one that the hardly suffering pundit class would rather not contemplate.

For all of the strident attacks on Stockman's column, I have yet to read a serious critique of his most brazen claim, that the bailouts and quantitative easing that have saved Wall Street and brought the stock market back to historic heights represent class warfare with the vast majority of Americans on the losing side:

"Since the S&P 500 first reached its current level, in March 2000, the mad money printers at the Federal Reserve have expanded their balance sheet sixfold (to $3.2 trillion from $500 billion). Yet during that stretch, economic output has grown by an average of 1.7 percent a year (the slowest since the Civil War); real business investment has crawled forward at only 0.8 percent per year; and the payroll job count has crept up at a negligible 0.1 percent annually. Real median family income growth has dropped 8 percent, and the number of full-time middle class jobs, 6 percent. The real net worth of the 'bottom' 90 percent has dropped by one-fourth. The number of food stamp and disability aid recipients has more than doubled, to 59 million, about one in five Americans."

It wasn't Stockman who wrecked the economy. It was Bill Clinton who deregulated the too-big-to-fail banks, and it was George W. Bush and Barack Obama who bailed them out. But even Paul Krugman, who knows how bad things are and yet manages to be charitable in appraisals of his Princeton colleague Ben Bernanke, dismisses Stockman's critique as "cranky old man stuff. ..."

Fed Chairman Bernanke, who predicted this would be an era of the "Great Moderation" back in 2004 and as late as March 2007 assured the nation that the subprime mortgage crisis "seems likely to be contained," remains a member in good standing of the political establishment. Not so Stockman, who dares write: "Instead of moderation, what's at hand is a Great Deformation, arising from a rogue central bank that has abetted the Wall Street casino, crucified savers on a cross of zero interest rates and fueled a global commodity bubble that erodes Main Street living standards through rising food and energy prices. ..."

Bernanke, who throws $85 billion a month at the bankers who caused this mess, purchasing their toxic mortgage based derivatives, is still treated with respect. But Stockman, who opposed bailing out the banks so they, like those tens of millions of foreclosed homeowners, could learn a tough love lesson in real economics, is now an object of derision.

Herein is a lesson that the bankers should have been taught back during the Clinton presidency when, as Stockman writes, the principle of a bailout for Wall Street's hustlers "was reinforced by the Fed's unforgivable 1998 bailout of the hedge fund Long-Term Capital Management."

That fiasco's enablers-Alan Greenspan, Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers-and the more disastrous ones to follow were crowned "The Committee to Save the World" on Time magazine's Feb. 15, 1999, cover and are still welcomed in those polite circles where truth-teller Stockman is being treated as a pariah.
(c) 2013 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.




Air strikes in Afghanistan killed 51 Afghan children in 2012, the UN report says.



The Message Sent By America's Invisible Victims
As two more Afghan children are liberated (from their lives) by NATO this weekend, a new film examines the effects of endless US aggression
By Glenn Greenwald

Yesterday I had the privilege to watch Dirty Wars, an upcoming film directed by Richard Rowley that chronicles the investigations of journalist Jeremy Scahill into America's global covert war under President Obama and specifically his ever-growing kill lists. I will write comprehensively about this film closer to the date when it and the book by the same name will be released. For now, it will suffice to say that the film is one of the most important I've seen in years: gripping and emotionally affecting in the extreme, with remarkable, news-breaking revelations even for those of us who have intensely followed these issues. The film won awards at Sundance and rave reviews in unlikely places such as Variety and the Hollywood Reporter. But for now, I want to focus on just one small aspect of what makes the film so crucial.

The most propagandistic aspect of the US War on Terror has been, and remains, that its victims are rendered invisible and voiceless. They are almost never named by newspapers. They and their surviving family members are virtually never heard from on television. The Bush and Obama DOJs have collaborated with federal judges to ensure that even those who everyone admits are completely innocent have no access to American courts and thus no means of having their stories heard or their rights vindicated. Radical secrecy theories and escalating attacks on whistleblowers push these victims further into the dark.

It is the ultimate tactic of Othering: concealing their humanity, enabling their dehumanization, by simply relegating them to nonexistence. As Ashleigh Banfield put it in her 2003 speech denouncing US media coverage of the Iraq war just months before she was demoted and then fired by MSNBC: US media reports systematically exclude both the perspectives of "the other side" and the victims of American violence. Media outlets in predominantly Muslim countries certainly report on their plight, but US media outlets simply do not, which is one major reason for the disparity in worldviews between the two populations. They know what the US does in their part of the world, but Americans are kept deliberately ignorant of it.

What makes Dirty Wars so important is that it viscerally conveys the effects of US militarism on these invisible victims: by letting them speak for themselves. Scahill and his crew travel to the places most US journalists are unwilling or unable to go: to remote and dangerous provinces in Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia, all to give voice to the victims of US aggression. We hear from the Afghans whose family members (including two pregnant women) were slaughtered by US Special Forces in 2010 in the Paktia Province, despite being part of the Afghan Police, only for NATO to outright lie and claim the women were already dead from "honor killings" by the time they arrived (lies uncritically repeated, of course, by leading US media outlets).

Scahill interviews the still-traumatized survivors of the US cruise missile and cluster bomb attack in Southern Yemen that killed 35 women and children just weeks after Obama was awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. We see the widespread anger in Yemen over the fact that the Yemeni journalist who first exposed US responsibility for that attack, Abdulelah Haider Shaye, was not only arrested by the US puppet regime but, as Scahill first reported, has been kept imprisoned to this very day at the direct insistence of President Obama. We hear from the grandfather of 16-year-old American teenager Abdulrahman al-Awlaki (he is also the father of US cleric Anwar al-Awlaki) - both before and after a CIA drone killed his son and then (two weeks later) his teenaged grandson who everyone acknowledges had nothing to do with terrorism. We hear boastful tales of summary executions from US-funded-and-directed Somali warlords.

There is an unmistakable and singular message sent by these disparate groups and events. It's one particularly worth thinking about with news reports this morning that two more Afghan children have been killed by a NATO air attack.

The message is that the US is viewed as the greatest threat and that it is US aggression and violence far more than any other cause that motivates support for al-Qaida and anti-American sentiment. The son of the slain Afghan police commander (who is the husband of one of the killed pregnant woman and brother of the other) says that villagers refer to US Special Forces as the "American Taliban" and that he refrained from putting on a suicide belt and attacking US soldiers with it only because of the pleas of his grieving siblings. An influential Southern Yemeni cleric explains that he never heard of al-Qaida sympathizers in his country until that 2009 cruise missile attack and subsequent drone killings, including the one that ended the life of Abdulrahman (a claim supported by all sorts of data). The brutal Somali warlord explains that the Americans are the "masters of war" who taught him everything he knows and who fuel ongoing conflict. Anwar Awlaki's transformation from moderate and peace-preaching American cleric to angry critic of the US is shown to have begun with the US attack on Iraq and then rapidly intensifying with Obama's drone attacks and kill lists. Meanwhile, US military officials and officers interviewed by Scahill exhibit a sociopathic indifference to their victims, while Awlaki's increasingly angry sermons in defense of jihad are juxtaposed with the very similar-sounding justifications of endless war from Obama.

The evidence has long been compelling that the primary fuel of what the US calls terrorism are the very policies of aggression justified in the name of stopping terrorism. The vast bulk of those who have been caught in recent years attempting attacks on the US have emphatically cited US militarism and drone killings in their part of the world as their motive. Evidence is overwhelming that what has radicalized huge numbers of previously peaceful and moderate Muslims is growing rage at seeing a continuous stream of innocent victims, including children, at the hands of the seemingly endless US commitment to violence.

The only way this clear truth is concealed is by preventing Americans from knowing about, let alone hearing from, the victims of US aggression. That concealment is what caused huge numbers of Americans to wander around in a daze after 9/11 innocently and bewilderingly wondering "why do they hate us"? - despite decades of continuous US interference, aggression, and violence-enabling in that part of the world. And it's this concealment of these victims that causes Americans now to react to endless stories of the killing of innocent Muslims with the excuse that "we have to do something about the Terrorists" or "it's better than a ground invasion" - without realizing that they're affirming what Chris Hayes aptly describes as a false choice, and worse, without realizing that the very policies they're cheering are not stopping the Terrorists at all but doing the opposite: helping the existing Terrorists and creating new ones.

To be fair, it's not difficult to induce a population to avert its eyes from the victims of the violence they support: we all like to believe that we're Good and peaceful people, and we particularly like to believe this about the leaders we elect, cheer and admire. Moreover, what the Nigerian-American writer Teju Cole recently described as "the empathy gap" - the failure to imagine how others will react to situations that would cause us (and have caused us) to be driven by rage and violence - means that the US government need not work all that hard to silence its victims: there is a pervasive desire to keep them out of sight.

Nonetheless, if Americans are going to support or even tolerate endless militarism, as they have been doing, then they should at least have to be confronted with their victims - if not on moral grounds then on pragmatic ones, to understand the effects of these policies. Based on the out-of-sight-out-of-mind reality, the US government and media have been incredibly successful in rendering those victims silent and invisible. Dirty Wars is a truly crucial tonic to that propaganda. At the very least, nobody who sees it and hears from the victims of US aggression will ever again wonder why there are so many people in the world who believe in the justifiability or even necessity of violence against the US.
(c) 2013 Glenn Greenwald. was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. His most recent book is, With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book "How Would a Patriot Act?," a critique of the Bush administration's use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, "A Tragic Legacy," examines the Bush legacy. He is the recipient of the first annual I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism.







Wall Street Banksters Now Too-Big-To-Jail

Some consider it un-American to like anything about those "namby-pamby" European nations, but still: Let's hear it for the Swiss!

In a March referendum, the mild-mannered, pacifist-minded Swiss people rose up and hammered their bank executives who've been grabbing rip-off pay packages. Two-thirds of voters emphatically shouted "yes" to a maverick proposal requiring that shareholders be given the binding say on executive pay. Violators of the new rules would sacrifice up to six years of salary and face three years in jail. That's hardly namby-pamby.

Indeed, it's America's lawmakers and regulators who've been squishy-soft on banksterism. None of the Wall Street titans who enriched themselves with rip-off pay packages while running financial scams that wrecked our economy have even been pursued by the law, much less put in jail. It's no surprise, then, that they've gone right back to scamming and grabbing rip-off pay. Hardly a week goes by without another revelation of big-bank fraud, yet the banks just pay an inconsequential fine and the culprits skate free.

Forget too-big-to-fail, banks have become "too big to jail." Our nation's top prosecutor, Attorney General Eric Holder, recently conceded that finagling financial giants are being given a pass: "It does become difficult for us to prosecute them," he testified, "when we are hit with indications that... if we do bring a criminal charge - it will have a negative impact on the national economy."

Meanwhile, just four giants - Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Wells Fargo - put nearly $20 million into last year's elections, mostly to back Republicans promising to weaken the few feeble restraints we now have on banker thievery. Our lawmakers and regulators want to coddle the big bankers - with such keystone kops overseeing them, why would any Wall Streeter even think of going straight?
(c) 2013 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.








Challenges Of Arab Uprisings Reflected At World Social Forum
By Medea Benjamin

"This was like a dream come true," said a radiant Sossi Mohamed Sadek, a Tunisian second year engineering student who was one of the hundreds of local volunteers at the World Social Forum in Tunis. "To see our university overflowing with over 50,000 people from Africa, Europe, Latin America, the United States, the Middle East-it was extraordinary. I came away with new ideas and new friends that will surely have a great impact on my life."

Many Tunisians were thrilled to have hosted the eleventh World Social Forum, held from March 26-30, 2013. It marked the first time that the world's largest global gathering of progressives-a gathering born in Brazil in 2001 out of the protests against corporate-dominated globalization-took place in an Arab nation. It came at a time when the world has been rocked by grassroots uprisings in the Arab world, but also increasing mobilizations to counter the climate crisis, and massive economic protests from southern Europe to "Occupy" groups in the United States to student movements from Quebec to Chile.

In recognition of the overarching danger of climate chaos, this was the first Social Forum to have a dedicated "Climate Space" with ongoing discussions about issues such as the need for food sovereignty, water justice and respect for the rights of indigenous and forest peoples. The climate sessions also denounced false solutions being put forward by many governments and corporations, including biofuels, GMO crops and geoengineering.

The debt/trade section of the Forum focused on ways to counter austerity measures, destructive free trade agreements and the onerous debts imposed by banks on both governments and individuals. Participants searched for alternatives to the undemocratic economic reforms being pushed by international lenders in countries such as Italy, Greece, and Cyprus, but also in Tunisia and Egypt, where the people are being asked to pay for debts incurred by previous dictators.

Interspersed throughout the forum's hundreds of workshops, dozens of assemblies and street rallies were the challenges, contradictions and unresolved clashing visions since the early heady days of the Arab Spring.

One of the contradictions involves the role of women. The Arab Spring has spawned a new women's movement in response to the rise of conservative religious governments in the region. According to Forum organizers, that's why a women's assembly was chosen to open the Forum. "The new regimes want constitutions to be more religious, and women all over the region are taking a stand against this," said Hamouda Soubhi from Morocco. In the raucous, jam-packed women's assembly, women cheered, chanted and applauded their sisters standing up to male oppression. "When we have situations like in Egypt where women are raped while attending demonstrations, we obviously have unfinished revolutions and need this kind of gathering to re-inspire us," said a beaming, young Egyptian activist.

This clash between Islamists and secularists in the Arab world was present throughout the Forum. Plastered on the walls was the photo of Chokri Belaid, a Tunisian lawyer, Marxist, and leader of the leftist Popular Front who was murdered in February. Many Tunisian leftists used the Forum to denounce the new government run by the Ennahda party. But government supporters insisted that Ennahda is a moderate, tolerant Islamist party and felt that the secular vision was overrepresented at the Forum. At one of the closing assemblies, a government supporter encouraged forum goers to talk directly to Ennahda members instead of simply talking about them.

But it was the conflict in Syria that really spilled over into the forum in an ugly way, with supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad shouting down and beating up opposition supporters-even women. Rumor had it that the Assad government purposely sent provocateurs to the forum. The atmosphere was so explosive that a group wanting to discuss nonviolent alternatives in Syria felt compelled to leave campus and meet instead in a downtown hotel.

Other conflicts highlighted at the forum were the Palestinian struggle and the lesser-known 37-year-old liberation struggle of the people of Western Sahara, now occupied by Morocco. There were several confrontations at the Forum on this issue as well, when Moroccan government supporters-at workshops and on stage at a plenary-attempted to shout down (and on one occasion punch) the independence activists.

Given the life-and-death struggles in the region, coupled with government infiltrators and agitators, organizers were proud that they managed to calm tensions internally, without ever having to call the police, and that no one was seriously hurt.

At one of the closing gatherings, participants were asked to evaluate the forum. Many of the criticisms were about poor planning and logistics: 20 percent of the hundreds of workshops never took place; locations were hard to find and there were scores of last minute room changes; nothing started on time; translation equipment rarely worked; speakers spoke too long, leaving no time for discussion.

Some complained that for a forum that is supposed to pose alternatives, the sessions are old-fashioned "talking heads" instead of interactive. US environmental activist William Kramer said, "I'm used to more participatory processes, not just presentations. For me, it was really the spaces between events where I learned the most." Some of the younger folks, including US participants from the Occupy movement, created their own democratic space to have an open dialogue with Tunisians.

Other criticisms were about lack of concrete solutions. The larger assemblies often turned into simply denunciations of corporations, governments and capitalism. "If slogans could win," said one participant, "the left would be in power. Chanting ‘smash capitalism' might make us feel good, but it doesn't provide a path forward."

Others wanted more global actions to emerge from the summit, not simply statements. Past forums have led to critical global actions, such as the February 15, 2002 global day of protests against the pending US invasion of Iraq, or joint campaigns to stop international free trade agreements. At this forum, groups working on different issues came up with new networks and joint campaigns-for example, the anti-drone workshop was attended by people from 15 countries who decided to form a global anti-drones network-but there was no call for a particular global action coming from the Forum as a whole.

When asked if the forums should continue, there was unanimous support. "Where else could we possibly come together like this and inspire each other to create another world?" said Eyad Bilad, a Tunisian student. Evoking the name of Mohamed Bouazizi, the Tunisian fruit vendor who set himself on fire, triggering the events that led to the Arab Spring, he added, "For all those who have died struggling for justice, we must continue to learn from each other how to build a world that does not respond to the greed of dictators, bankers or corporations, but to the needs of simple people like Mohamed Bouazizi."
(c) 2013 Medea Benjamin is cofounder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK, which has organized seven humanitarian delegations to Gaza. She is author of Don't Be Afraid Gringo: A Honduran Woman Speaks from the Heart.








The Significance Of Finding The God Particle
By James Donahue

After spending 15 years and billions of dollars building that massive 17-mile-long underground machine called the Large Hadron Collider near Geneva, Switzerland, researchers have announced that they found what they were looking for . . . a Higgs Boson, or in more vernacular terms: the illusive God Particle.

This may not sound too important to the average lay person, but the discovery lies on the fringe of being one of the most important scientific discoveries of our time. It means that science can at last find an explanation for solid matter in the strange world that we live in.

The Higgs Boson is named for Peter Higgs, a physicist at the University of Edinburgh and one of the scientists that theorized its existence.

Understanding what a Higgs Boson is requires us to examine the relatively new world of quantum physics. . . or as they speak of it at the Geneva site . . . particle physics. It is the strange stuff found within the extremely minute world that exists at the atomic level.

Since the days when scientists learned how to smash atoms to make bombs, there has been a quest to explore the heart of matter which we understand is comprised of atoms and particles. From basic high school physics we know that an atom is a very small and basic unit within matter. It consists of a central nucleus surrounded by negatively charged electrons. What is so amazing is that this entire configuration reminds us of planets circling a sun within a solar system. The design is exactly the same.

What has perplexed researchers for years has been the fact that a cluster of atoms can bind together to form a molecule, and molecules appear to be the building blocks of solid objects within our world, including ourselves. This is what is known as matter. But until the God Particle was found, the existence of matter did not appear to make sense. When studied at an atomic level, researchers realized that a lot of empty space exists not only within the atoms, but all around them. All matter contains more empty space than it does solid substance. How could this be? Is the world we perceive only the creation of our minds?

Physicists have been scratching their heads over this question for years. While they understood matter, they could not determine why matter had mass. In other words, why is it that we can sit comfortably in a chair on the floor of a house without falling through to the ground?

To try to explain this mystery, scientists erected a new concept of how things are put together at an extreme molecular level. This now is the realm of particle physics. The researchers identified something called the quark, which is an elementary particle and thus a fundamental element within matter.

And here is where things get complicated. According to the theory of particle physics, quarks combine to form composite particles called hadrons. Protons and neutrons are classified as hadrons. But physicists believe that other hadrons exist called mesons and baryons. Within mesons are kaons and pions.

In quantum physics there is something called the Standard Model. Within this model there are six types of quarks, six types of things called leptons and four things called bosons. Bosons are described as composite particles within the Standard Model. For this article, attempting to describe them any farther, or explain what leptons are, would serve little purpose.

The people swimming around in the strange world of quantum physics dreamed up the concept of the Higgs Boson as a way to try to explain how matter has mass. Higgs and his fellow scientists reason that something yet unseen makes up the glue that holds these particles together and turns matter into mass. And whatever that thing is, it exists throughout the Universe. Thus they reason there has to be a particle or boson that carries some kind of magnetic field, known as the Higgs Field. As other particles pass through the Higgs field, they are drawn together until the particle gains mass.

By now you may have noticed a link between the composite of particles known as hadrons and the machine scientists were working so hard to get running near the Swiss/French border. They appropriately call it the Hadron Collider because they used it to smash these tiny particles together after sending them at nearly the speed of light in opposite directions through their elaborate race track.

They built this machine to recreate the Big Bang and test the long debated theory of how the universe was formed. According to this theory, before the Big Bang the universe was extremely small and matter existed only as free quarks. Once the explosion occurred it is believed that there was rapid inflation, quarks combined into hadrons, the forces separated, atoms formed as matter, and matter condensed into stars and galaxies were formed.

The CERN scientists wanted to simulate conditions that existed within a minute fraction of a second after the Big Bang. They used the collider to smash hadrons and then study what happens.

There were, of course, skeptics that worried about such experimentation. Some believed smashing hadrons might trigger energies with the potential of destroying the world as we know it. Others conceived the possibility that simulating the Big Bang might even create tiny black holes that would begin to swallow everything around them until they destroyed the world.

As far as we know, the experiments were performed successfully, after several expensive delays. And the scientists are now saying that they have, indeed, created and identified a true Higgs Boson.

This was first observed in July, 2012, but only recently determined to be a true Higgs Boson.

So where does science go from here with this new information? The researchers say it merely opens a whole new field of research that will be going on for years. They say they have a lot to learn about this particle and just what its implications are.

At least now they can say there is a reason we are not falling through our chairs and floors for lack of substance.
(c) 2013 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




Sherrod Brown



What If Sherrod Brown, Battler Against 'Too-Big-To-Fail' Banks, Gets Banking Committee Chair?
By John Nichols

Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown has for years battled to break up "too-big-to-fail" banks, arguing, "American taxpayers don't want us to wait until another crisis develops. They want us to ensure that Wall Street megabanks will never again monopolize our nation's wealth or gamble away the American Dream."

Now, as the US Senate looks to reshuffle its most powerful posts following the 2014 election, Brown is a serious contender to take over as chair of the Senate Banking Committee.

If Democrats retain control of the chamber, a senator who has proudly tangled with Wall Street and the nation's biggest banks might actually be given the authority to investigate and regulate what the populists and progressives of a century ago referred to as "the money power."

That's a very big deal, as Brown is not merely an outspoken critic of oversized banks. The Ohio Democrat has built bipartisan support for break-up-the-banks legislation, and he has a populist eye for issues that highlight the struggle to end the excesses of Wall Street and the banks. Just last week, he secured a unanimous Senate vote for a resolution to end federal subsidies for the biggest banks.

So how could Brown, who is just starting his second term, become chairman of the powerful Banking Committee?

The current chair, South Dakota Democrat Tim Johnson, will retire after the 2014 election. That puts Senator Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island, in line to chair the committee; but Reed is also in line to chair the powerful Armed Services Committee, and it is widely believed he prefers that position.

Next in line is New York's Chuck Schumer. But Schumer hopes to eventually replace Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada. And that makes his decision complicated.

Because Schumer is broadly seen as being close to Wall Street, the big bankers would love to see the New Yorker take the committee chairmanship. And he may well do so-if only to block Brown. But Schumer is savvy enough to know that doing so could damage his long-term prospects as a contender for a leadership post. Why? Because the Senate's burgeoning progressive caucus-which will be a factor in any leadership race-wants to get tougher with the banks. And because a stint as Banking Committee chair, especially if it is characterized by compromises with the industry's biggest players, could tarnish Schumer's image and make him a less attractive leadership prospect.

New Jersey‘s Bob Menendez, the third Democratic senator in line for the Banking Committee chairmanship, has given every indication that he is more interested in remaining chair of the Foreign Relations Committee-a post he took up when former Massachusetts Senator John Kerry became Secretary of State.

That brings us to Brown.

Already, media outlets that cater to the financial and political elites are abuzz regarding the prospect that a populist with a proven track record when it comes to building bipartisan coalitions for reform might suddenly be in a position to get tough on the big banks. The headlines tell the story:

"Big banks' nightmare: Chairman Sherrod Brown"
"Watch Out Wall Street, Sherrod's Coming"
"Banking gavel could fall to Wall Street critic"

To be clear, Brown is not a critic of all banks. Just the behemoths that could, were they to stumble, crash the US economy. Brown talks up community banks and credit unions that play by the rules and serve consumers. Indeed, he wants to make sure that the federal government respects small banks, rather than simply bowing before the big guys.

While many other Democrats have been willing to compromise on the "too-big-to-fail" issue, Brown has been steadfast. When the Senate was debating what would eventually become the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, Brown broke with his fellow Democrats and sought to enact the Safe, Accountable, Fair & Efficient (SAFE) Banking Act. That measure would have capped the size of banks so that none could control so large a percentage of the economy that the threat of its failure might demand a new bailout.

Brown was blocked then, but he's back with a new version of the bill, and with a Republican co-sponsor, Louisiana Senator David Vitter.

Arguing for that bill, Brown asked, "How many more scandals will it take before we acknowledge that we can't rely on regulators to prevent subprime lending, dangerous derivatives, risky proprietary trading, and even fraud and manipulation?"

And Brown answered: "We simply cannot wait any longer for regulators to act. These institutions are too big to manage, they are too big to regulate, and they are surely still too big to fail."

It's been a long time since the Senate Banking Committee was chaired by a progressive populist who is willing to take on not just "too-big-to-fail" banks but to demand that the banking industry serve communities and treat consumers fairly. And it's been even longer since a populist chairman had an ally on the committee like newly-elected Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, a key ally of Brown's.

History does record, however, that big things happen when the oversight responsibility is handed to a senator who worries more about Maine Street than Wall Street.

When Democrats gained control of the Senate in 1933, Florida Senator Duncan Upshaw Fletcher took the chairmanship of what was then the Banking and Currency Committee. Charged with identifying the guilty men whose greed caused the 1929 Wall Street Crash, and the Great Depression that followed, Fletcher worked with a crack New York prosecutor, Ferdinand Pecora, to call the bankers and the speculators to account. Pecora and his team were so aggressive, and so effective, that they even got J.P. Morgan Jr., to acknowledge that he had paid no income tax in 1931 and 1932-an admission that provoked a national outcry and demand for reform.

The reforms came quickly. The Banking Committee's high-profile inquiry cleared the way for the enactment of the Glass-Steagall Banking Act of 1933, the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The Securities and Exchange Commission was established in 1935 to enforce those new laws, along with a host of other measures that end myriad abuses.

The combination of Fletcher Duncan and Ferdinand Pecora put the people back in charge in the 1930s, and provided generations of Americans with protection against the threat posed by unregulated and under-regulated banks and brokers. The combination of Sherrod Brown and Elizabeth Warren could do the same in the twenty-first century.

That prospect scares behemoth bankers.

But it should excite Americans who recognize that the nation's economy-and its democracy-will never be secure for so long as "too-big-to-fail" banks are allowed to call the shots.
(c) 2013 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His new book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, has just been published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.








Watch Out... We're Surrounded!
By Frank Scott

After the tenth anniversary of the destruction of Iraq passed with the usual historic distortion and pieties from established power about the waste and rationalizations about why we had to do it, America's bipartisan war party has even more loudly revived the same lies and logic perversion used to get support for that slaughter. Without even a hint of embarrassment, political puppets of wealth from congress to the state department to the white house are again talking about gas and chemical weapons of mass destruction, substituting Assad of Syria for Hussein of Iraq as this season's demonic Hitler-figure to lull Americans into accepting further military crimes to perpetuate finance capital's empire and keep our minds off the fact that it threatens to collapse on our heads.

Media fulfills its responsibility as corporate stenographer to power by reporting these charges, without a blushing reminder that this is the same puppet-speak that was only called by its rightful name after hundreds of thousands were dead, an educated class had become refugees and a materially developed secular nation had been broken up into a scattering of underdeveloped sectarian neighborhoods. This process was repeated in Libya but without invasion and simply by using NATO servants to front for our mass bombings. That assault on morality and reason included the usual charges of genocide - when anyone dies in a foreign country our rulers don't like, it's called genocide - and new descent into the sewers of western consciousness with tales of mass rapes committed by monsters given Viagra by the evil dictator. Though not accepted by any but the most tortured minds - our leaders - these tales from the toilets of degeneracy helped reduce another nation developed along lines not totally in keeping with the desires of the Master-Race-Chosen-People deities of the west. Libya was transformed into a shattered place with freedom for high finance and oil companies and near chaos for almost everyone else. The latest atrocities in Syria seem to indicate that while the imperial cabal dominated by the MRCP minority of multi-billionaires and their servants flounders in deadly crisis, it's intention is not only to maintain the diseased system but spread its affliction until the entire global population joins the terminal patients in the universal intensive care ward that is being created by global capitalism.

The banking crisis that began in the USA and spread to Europe has brought near total destruction of the social democratic policies that had previously saved capitalism. The economic cancer that gripped the world in the 1930s was placed in remission for more than a generation by the relatively enlightened - for capital - policies called Keynesianism. These created government spending to prop up anarchic markets that were collapsing under exclusive minority control. It wisely - for capital - used tax money to create jobs, food, clothing and shelter for great masses of people, so that they might not only refrain from revolting against minority power, but also consume all the goods and services they created in order to profit that minority.

The material improvement in the lives of many - though far from most - enabled a generation of relative peaceful control for great wealth in the west, even while the world was consumed by more wars that killed more millions, forgotten because unlike the Euros who perished in wars one and two, these were mostly from the darker skinned members of our race, the third world majority. They were and remain either colonized, neo-colonized or otherwise economically subjugated and thus remaining invisible to newly created middle classes subjected to mind numbing consciousness control and mind managing entertainment that often passes for news on TV. This newly affluent class - by peasant standards - consumed billions of dollars of mostly needless garbage advertised into being absolutely necessary-for-survival drugs, cosmetics, therapies, toys, pets, gadgets and processed foods, while financing with its tax dollars and plastic debt a massive version of fake democracy and a far more massive supply of real weapons of mass destruction.

Already badly overstretched and financed only by imaginary electronic funds backed by very real military power, imperial dictatorship is creating new problems to bolster its war state while simultaneously destroying a civil society hardly conceived by moral values but nonetheless preventing complete physical breakdown. While so-called "austerity" is employed to cut government spending - the only thing that has maintained MRCP capitalism for a generation - while at the same time attempting to militarily protect finance from any and all national models daring to attempt going a different way finds more warfare threatened, with these idiotic fantasy charges to make the public accepting of the need to cut back on their meals in order to buy more guns.

As this is written and the arms shipments to Syria increase along with the death toll and lies, the hallucinatory threat from North Korea gets headlines. This tiny nation once invaded and bombed by the USA and suffering death and destruction unknown to intellectually impoverished Americans, is said to be threatening the USA with bellicose statements. The fact that the USA has troops on its borders and regularly conducts what criminally infantile elements here call "war games" on Korean seas play no role at all in North Korea's posture, of course. The only thing that may help them, and it is a big maybe, is that North Korea does possess nuclear weapons and could wreak terrible retaliatory havoc if the warhead in our half white house decides to go totally over the edge and attack them.

Meanwhile, the financial crisis has reached new lows in Europe, especially Cyprus where the bailout not only involves robbing taxpayers but stealing money from their bank accounts. Those in America who think this is a laughable situation might start removing their money from these corporate casinos and placing then under the mattress the way their grandparents did. Of course, authority may ultimately attempt confiscation of those mattresses so maybe the second amendment gun lobby fundamentalists have an argument approaching reason? No, but given present conditions, any crackpot theory will get some hearing. Unfortunately, the most crackpot of all, from capital central in the USA, is getting far too much.
(c) 2013 Frank Scott writes political commentary and satire which appears in print in The Independent Monitor and online at the blog Legalienate.








Why Politicians Are Sensitive To Public Opinion On Same-Sex Marriage, Immigration, And Guns, But Not On The Economy
By Robert Reich

Who says American politics is gridlocked? A tidal wave of politicians from both sides of the aisle who just a few years ago opposed same-sex marriage are now coming around to support it. Even if the Supreme Court were decide to do nothing about California's Proposition 8 or DOMA, it would seem only matter of time before both were repealed.

A significant number of elected officials who had been against allowing undocumented immigrants to become American citizens is now talking about "charting a path" for them; a bipartisan group of senators is expected to present a draft bill April 8.

Even a few who were staunch gun advocates are now sounding more reasonable about background checks.

It's nice to think logic and reason are finally catching up with our elected representatives, but the real explanation for these changes of heart is more prosaic: public opinion.

The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll finds support for marriage equality at the highest in the ten years the question has been asked, with 58% of Americans in favor and 36 percent opposed.

A similar swing has occurred in favor of immigration reform. A new Pew survey finds that seven-in-ten Americans (71%) say there should be a way for people in the United States illegally to remain in this country if they meet certain requirements, while 27% say they should not be allowed to stay legally. And most who favor providing illegal immigrants with some form of legal status -43% of the public - say they should be allowed to apply for citizenship.

Support for gun control is less clear-cut, which may explain why Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid won't seek a renewal of the assault-weapon ban. But polls show broad support for universal background checks, and for closing the so-called gun-show loophole.

It's possible that public opinion is being influenced by courageous political leaders who are urging action on these issues, but the reverse is more likely. Most politicians have a keen sense for tipping points in public opinion, when, say, support for equal marriage rights or immigration reform becomes broad-based, and advocates become sufficiently organized and mobilized to make life hell for officials who won't change their minds.

The exception is in the economic sphere, where public opinion seems beside the point.

Before January's fiscal cliff deal, for example, at least 60 percent of Americans, in poll after poll, expressed strong support for raising taxes on incomes over $250,000. As you recall, though, the deal locked in the Bush tax cut for everyone earning up to $400,000.

Yes, legislative deals require compromise. But why is it that deals over economic policy almost always compromise away what a majority of Americans want?

Most Americans weren't particularly concerned about the budget deficit to begin with. They've been far more concerned about jobs and wages. Yet maneuvers over the deficit have consistently trumped jobs and wages.

Recent polls show Americans would rather reduce the deficit by raising taxes than by cutting Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, education, and transportation. Yet Congress seems incapable of making that kind of deal.

Some 65 percent of Americans want to raise taxes on large corporations - but both parties are heading in precisely the opposite direction.

Half of Americans favor a plan to break up Wall Street's twelve megabanks, which currently control 69 percent of the banking industry. Only 23 percent oppose such a plan (27 percent are undecided).

You might this would at least prompt an examination of the possibility on Capitol Hill and the White House - especially now that the Street is actively eviscerating regulations under Dodd-Frank.

But our elected representatives don't want to touch Wall Street. According to Politico, even the White House believes too-big-to-fail will soon be a closed chapter.

Why are politicians so sensitive to public opinion on equal marriage rights, immigration, and guns - and so tone deaf to what most Americans want on the economy?

Perhaps because the former issues don't threaten big money in America. But any tinkering with taxes or regulations sets off alarm bells in our nation's finely-appointed dining rooms and board rooms - alarm bells that, in turn, set off promises of (or threats to withhold) large wads of campaign cash in the next election.

When political scientists Benjamin Page and Larry Bartels surveyed Chicagoans with an average net worth of $14 million, they found their biggest concern was curbing budget deficits and government spending - ranking these as priorities three times as often as they did unemployment.

And - no surprise - these wealthy individuals were also far less willing than are other Americans to curb deficits by raising taxes on high-income people, and more willing to cut Social Security and Medicare. They also opposed initiatives most other Americans favor - such as increasing spending on schools and raising the minimum wage above the poverty level.

The other thing distinguishing Page's and Bartels' wealthy respondents from the rest of America was their political influence.

Two-thirds of them had contributed money (averaging $4,633) in the most recent presidential election. A fifth of them had even "bundled” contributions from others.

That money bought the kind of political access most Americans only dream of. About half of these wealthy people had recently initiated contact with a U.S. senator or representative - and nearly half (44 percent) of those contacts concerned matters of relatively narrow economic self-interest rather than broader national concerns.

This is just the wealthy of one city - Chicago. Multiply it across the entire United States and you begin to see the larger picture of whom our representatives are listening to, and why. Nor does the survey include the institutionalized wealth - and economic clout - of Wall Street and large corporations. Multiply the multiplier.

Great wealth can also influence public opinion. It is possible, for example, that the piles of money spent by billionaire Pete Peterson to persuade Americans that the budget deficit is the nation's most urgent economic problem is now paying off. Recent polls show greater concern about the deficit now than was expressed a few years ago when the deficit represented a much larger percentage of the total economy.

It is good that politicians are exquisitely sensitive to shifts in public opinion on issues like same-sex marriage, undocumented immigrants, and guns. This is a feature of our democracy worth celebrating.

But American democracy has shown itself far less responsive - and our politicians remarkably impervious - to public opinion concerning economic issues that might affect the fates of large fortunes. This is a distressing feature of our democracy, necessitating change.
(c) 2013 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 publicradio.com and iTunes.








Lessons From A Comeback
By Paul Krugman

Modern movement conservatism, which transformed the G.O.P. from the moderate party of Dwight Eisenhower into the radical right-wing organization we see today, was largely born in California. The Golden State, even more than the South, created today's religious conservatism; it elected Ronald Reagan governor; it's where the tax revolt of the 1970s began. But that was then. In the decades since, the state has grown ever more liberal, thanks in large part to an ever-growing nonwhite share of the electorate.

As a result, the reign of the Governator aside, California has been solidly Democratic since the late 1990s. And ever since the political balance shifted, conservatives have declared the state doomed. Their specifics keep changing, but the moral is always the same: liberal do-gooders are bringing California to its knees.

A dozen years ago, the state was supposedly doomed by all its environmentalists. You see, the eco-freaks were blocking power plants, and the result was crippling blackouts and soaring power prices. "The country's showcase state," gloated The Wall Street Journal, "has come to look like a hapless banana republic."

But a funny thing happened on the road to collapse: it turned out that the main culprit in the electricity crisis was deregulation, which opened the door for ruthless market manipulation. When the market manipulation went away, so did the blackouts.

Undeterred, a few years later conservatives found another line of attack. This time they said that liberal big spending and overpaid public employees were bringing on collapse.

And the state has indeed spent the past few years facing a severe fiscal crunch. When the national housing bubble burst, California was hit especially hard, and the combined effects of the plunge in home prices and the economic downturn led to sharply reduced revenue. Once more there were gleeful pronouncements of imminent doom: California, declared one pundit after another, is America's Greece.

Again, however, reports of the state's demise proved premature. Unemployment in California remains high, but it's coming down - and there's a projected budget surplus, in part because the implosion of the state's Republican Party finally gave Democrats a big enough political advantage to push through some desperately needed tax increases. Far from presiding over a Greek-style crisis, Gov. Jerry Brown is proclaiming a comeback.

Needless to say, the usual suspects are still predicting doom - this time from the very tax hikes that are closing the budget gap, which they say will cause millionaires and businesses to flee the state. Well, maybe - but serious studies have found very little evidence either that tax hikes cause lots of wealthy people to move or that state taxes have any significant impact on growth.

So what do we learn from this history of doom deferred?

I'm not suggesting everything in California is just fine. Unemployment - especially long-term unemployment - remains very high. California's longer-term economic growth has slowed, too, mainly because the state's limited supply of buildable land means high housing prices, bringing an era of rapid population growth to an end. (Did you know that metropolitan Los Angeles has a higher population density than metropolitan New York?) Last but not least, decades of political paralysis have degraded the state's once-superb public education system. So there are plenty of problems.

The point, however, is that these problems bear no resemblance to the death-by-liberalism story line the California-bashers keep peddling. California isn't a state in which liberals have run wild; it's a state where a liberal majority has been effectively hamstrung by a fanatical conservative minority that, thanks to supermajority rules, has been able to block effective policy-making.

And that's where things get really interesting - because the era of hamstrung government seems to be coming to an end. Over the years, California's Republicans moved right as the state moved left, yet retained political relevance thanks to their blocking power. But at this point the state's G.O.P. has fallen below critical mass, losing even its power to obstruct - and this has left Mr. Brown free to push an agenda of tax hikes and infrastructure spending that sounds remarkably like the kind of thing California used to do before the rise of the reactionary right.

And if this agenda is successful, it will have national implications. After all, California's political story - in which a radicalized G.O.P. fell increasingly out of touch with an increasingly diverse and socially liberal electorate, and eventually found itself marginalized - is arguably playing out with a lag on the national scene too.

So is California still the place where the future happens first? Stay tuned!
(c) 2013 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times






The Quotable Quote...



"Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them. There is almost no kind of outrage, torture, imprisonment without trial, assassination, and bombing of civilians, which does not change its moral color when it is committed by our side. The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, he has remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them."
~~~ George Orwell









New GOP Plan: Guns For Domestic Abusers
As president Obama visits Colorado to discuss guns, state GOP launches fight to protect batterers' gun rights
By David Sirota

Every so often, disparate political events line up so perfectly that they create the possibility of real resonance. In these fleeting moments, a point which might have been lost to news cycle noise can break through and singularly shift momentum by introducing a new angle to an otherwise binary debate. President Obama's Wednesday visit to Colorado could be one of those moments, thanks to the events surrounding his gun-control-themed trip.

In its preview story of the political week ahead, the New York Times notes that the president is "seek(ing) to regain momentum" on the gun issue as "a filibuster threat is growing in the senate" and as a two-week congressional recess is marked by a nationwide activist push by the National Rifle Association. To counter it, the president is heading to Colorado, a state made famous by two of the most high-profile gun massacres in history - and now the first state in the historically pro-gun West to pass serious gun regulations.

If that was all that was happening, this week might not hold much political potential. But in a coincidental turn of events, the president's visit will occur at the very moment the Colorado Republican Party is making a high-profile effort to derail Democratic legislation that would disarm domestic abusers. That, of course, allows Democrats to portray the GOP as extreme on the gun control issue, to connect that specific issue to the Republican Party's war on women - and to connect it in a state that has electorally punished the GOP for that war.

In terms of just sheer extremism, if ever there was a succinct, simple-to-understand bumper-sticker-ready metric for understanding the fringe-iness of today's Republican Party, the fight in the Colorado legislature over gun rights for domestic abusers is it. As the Denver bureau of the Huffington Post reports, the Colorado bill in question simply "prohibits gun possession from those convicted of certain felonies involving domestic violence or certain misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence (and) also prohibit guns from individuals subject to certain (domestic violence) protection orders." According to a recent statewide poll in Colorado, that is a concept supported by 80 percent of voters - yet Republicans are opposed.

To truly appreciate the radicalism of that opposition, understand that longtime federal law already technically bans most of this. According to the New York Times, however, that federal statute "is rarely enforced" to the point where in 2012 prosecutors were willing to invoke it fewer than 50 times. In light of that negligence, state legislation to reaffirm the federal law would seem to be an easy way to do as the Republican Party so often rhetorically demands and better enforce existing gun statutes. Yet, that same GOP is nonetheless taking the side of domestic abusers and opposing the state legislation on the grounds that the restriction "is ripe for abuse."

What's amazing - and what evokes Democrats' "war on women" meme - is the fact that Republicans don't seem to see that what's really "ripe for abuse" is guns in the hands of domestic abusers.

According to data compiled by the non-profit Futures Without Violence, "nearly one-third of all women murdered in the United States in recent years were murdered by a current or former intimate partner"; "of females killed with a firearm, almost two-thirds of were killed by their intimate partners"; and "access to firearms increases the risk of intimate partner homicide more than five times more than in instances where there are no weapons." Likewise, the Violence Policy Center reports that "for every time a woman used a handgun to kill an intimate acquaintance in self-defense, 83 women were murdered by an intimate acquaintance with a handgun."

Because of these facts, it should be no surprise that polls show women are disproportionately sympathetic to the gun control argument. It should also be no surprise that because of the obvious connection between domestic abuse and firearm violence, banning domestic abusers from owning firearms can have demonstrably positive results. For instance, as the New York Times reports, "a study in the journal Injury Prevention in 2010 examined so-called intimate-partner homicides in 46 of the country's largest cities from 1979 to 2003 and found that where state laws restricted gun access to people under domestic-violence restraining orders, the risk of such killings was reduced by 19 percent."

Put all of this together - the political dynamics, the "war on women" meme, the urgent need for the gun control legislation itself - and this week could be the start of a big shift in the gun debate and in the larger electoral struggle between the parties heading into 2014.

Think about it: the president is swooping in to the home of Columbine and Aurora to draw national attention to the gun extremism of the Republican Party - and he will be able to point right to the state capitol where that Republican Party is opposing legislation to simply enforce federal law that is supposed to be protecting women from gun-wielding domestic abusers. Not only that, he will be in the state where Democrats' have most maximized their inherent advantage with women.

That last point is significant. Out of all the swing states in America where political themes are test marketed, Colorado has been the one where Democrats' claim of a Republican "war on women" has most powerfully resonated at the polls. This is the state where the GOP lost an eminently winnable senate race in 2010 thanks to their candidate pulling an early version of Todd Akin and making hideously flippant remarks about rape. It is also the state where the GOP lost 9 eminently winnable electoral votes after the Obama campaign specifically hammered the Republican Party for its extreme positions on contraception and a woman's right to choose. Now, following the trend, it is a state whose GOP is using its legislative power to defend the alleged rights of domestic abusers to remain armed.

That's why, as mentioned before, President Obama's visit may not be just about this week - thematically, it may also be about beginning to make the Colorado political template the national Democratic Party's mid-term election template.

Party operatives clearly know that, as TalkingPointsMemo recently reported, polls suggest that "women who don't usually vote in midterm elections will turn out in 2014 over the issue of guns." All those operatives need to realize that prediction is for Republicans to offer up some good ol' fashioned extremism. By opposing Democratic legislation to disarm domestic abusers right as a president is drawing national attention to the need for gun regulations, the GOP seems more than happy to oblige.
(c) 2013 David Sirota is a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist, magazine journalist and the best-selling author of "Hostile Takeover" and "The Uprising." He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado and blogs at OpenLeft.com. E-mail him at ds@davidsirota.com. David Sirota is a former spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee. Follow him on Twitter @davidsirota .




Mourners with armbands on Pentacrest at Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial service, The University of Iowa, April, 1968.




The Conspiracy To Kill MLK
Not a Theory But a Fact
By Ira Chernus

Should the United States government be allowed to assassinate its own citizens? That question was in the air briefly not long ago. April 4 is an excellent day to revive it: On April 4, 1968, the government was part of a successful conspiracy to assassinate the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

That's not just some wing-nut conspiracy theory. It's not a theory at all. It is a fact, according to our legal system.

In 1999, in Shelby County, Tennessee, Lloyd Jowers was tried before a jury of his peers (made up equally of white and black citizens, if it matters) on the charge of conspiring to kill Dr. King. The jury heard testimony for four full weeks.

On the last day of the trial, the attorney for the King family (which brought suit against Jowers) concluded his summation by saying: "We're dealing in conspiracy with agents of the City of Memphis and the governments of the State of Tennessee and the United States of America. We ask you to find that conspiracy existed."

It took the jury only two-and-half hours to reach its verdict: Jowers and "others, including governmental agencies, were parties to this conspiracy."

I don't know whether the jury's verdict reflects the factual truth of what happened on April 4, 1968. Juries have been known to make mistakes and (probably rather more often) juries have made mistakes that remain unknown.

But within our system of government, when a crime is committed it's a jury, and only a jury, that is entitled to decide on the facts. If a jury makes a mistake, the only way to rectify it is to go back into court and establish a more convincing version of the facts. That's the job of the judicial branch, not the executive.

So far, no one has gone into court to challenge the verdict on the King assassination.

Yet the version of history most Americans know is very different because it has been shaped much more by the executive than the judicial branch. Right after the jury handed down its verdict, the federal government's Department of Justice went into high gear, sparing no effort to try to disprove the version of the facts that the jury endorsed -- not in a court of law but in the "court" of public opinion.

The government's effort was immensely successful. Very few Americans are aware the trial ever happened, much less that the jury was convinced of a conspiracy involving the federal government.

To understand why, let's reflect on how history, as understood by the general public, is made: We take the facts we have, which are rarely complete, and then we fill in the gaps with our imaginations -- for the most part, with our hopes and/or fears. The result is a myth: not a lie, but a mixture of proven facts and the fictions spawned by our imaginings.

In this case, we have two basic myths in conflict.

One is a story Americans have been telling since the earliest days of our nation: Back in not-so-merry old England, people could be imprisoned or even executed on the whim of some government official. They had no right to prove their innocence in a fair, impartial court. We fought a bloody war to throw off the British yoke precisely to guarantee ourselves basic rights like the right to a fair trial by a jury of our peers. We would fight again, if need be, to preserve that fundamental right. This story explains why we are supposed to let a jury, and only a jury, determine the facts.

(By odd coincidence, as I was writing this the mail arrived with my summons to serve on a local jury. The website it directed me to urged me to feel "a sense of pride and respect for our system of justice," because "about 95 percent of all jury trials in the world take place in the United States.")

Then there's another myth, a story that says the federal government has only assassinated American citizens who were truly bad people and aimed to do the rest of us harm; the government would never assassinate an innocent citizen. Most Americans devoutly hope this story is true. And most Americans don't put MLK in the "bad guy" category. So they resist believing what the legal system tells us is true about his death.

Perhaps a lot of Americans would not be too disturbed to learn that the local government in Memphis or even the Tennessee state government were involved. There's still plenty of prejudice against white Southerners. But the federal government? It's a thought too shocking for most Americans even to consider. So they fill in the facts with what they want to believe -- and the myth of James Earl Ray, "the lone assassin," lives on, hale and hearty.

Since that's the popular myth, it's the one the corporate mass media have always purveyed. After all, their job is to sell newspapers and boost ratings in order to boost profits. Just a few days after the trial ended the New York Times, our "newspaper of record," went to great lengths to cast doubt on the verdict and assure readers, in its headline, that the trial would have "little effect" -- an accurate, though self-fufilling, prophecy.

Imagine if the accused had been not a white southerner but a black man, with known ties not to the government but to the Black Panther Party. You can bet that the trial verdict would have been bannered on every front page; the conspiracy would be known to every American and enshrined in every history book as the true version of events.

None of this necessarily means that the federal government and the mass media are covering up actual facts. Maybe they are, maybe they aren't. Again, I don't claim to know what really happened on April 4, 1968.

But there surely were people in the federal government who thought they had good reason to join a conspiracy to get rid of Dr. King. He was deep into planning for the Poor People's Campaign, which would bring poor folks of every race and ethnicity to Washington, DC. The plan was to have them camp out on the Mall until the government enacted major economic reforms to lift everyone out of poverty. That meant redistributing wealth -- an idea that made perfect sense to Dr. King, who was a harsh critic of the evils of capitalism (as well as communism).

It also meant uniting whites and non-whites in the lower income brackets, to persuade them that the suffering they shared in common was stronger than the racial prejudice that divided them. Dr. King did not have to be a prophet to foresee that the longer whites blamed non-whites, rather than the rich, for their troubles, the easier it would be to block measures for redistributing wealth. The unifying effect of the Poor People's Campaign spelled trouble for those whose wealth might be redistributed.

At the same time, Dr. King was the most famous and respected critic of the war in Vietnam. By 1968 he was constantly preaching that the war was not just a tragic mistake. It was the logical outgrowth of the American way of life, based on what he called the inextricably linked "triplets" of militarism, racism, and materialism. Had he lived, the Poor People's Campaign would have become a powerful vehicle for attacking all three and showing just how inseparable they are.

Yes, plenty of people in the federal government thought they had good reason to put an end to the work of Dr. King. But that hardly proves federal government complicity in a conspiracy to kill him.

So let's assume for a moment, just for the sake of argument, that the jury was wrong, that James Earl Ray did the shooting and acted alone. The federal government would still have good reasons to suppress the conspiracy myth. Essentially, all those reasons boil down to a matter of trust. There is already immense mistrust of the federal government. Imagine if everyone knew, and every history book said, that our legal system has established as fact the government's complicity in the assassination.

If the federal government has a convincing argument that the jury was wrong, we all deserve to hear it. There's little advantage to having such uncertainty hanging in the air after 45 years. But the government should make its argument in open court, in front of a jury of our peers.

In America, we have only one way to decide the facts of guilt or innocence: not through the media or gossip or imagination, but through the slowly grinding machinery of the judicial system. At least that's the story I want to believe.
(c) 2013 Ira Chernus is Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder and author of Mythic America: Essays and American Nonviolence: The History of an Idea. He blogs at MythicAmerica.us.





The Dead Letter Office...





Roy gives the corpo-rat salute

Heil Obama,

Dear Uberfuhrer Blunt,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your help selling out America to gmo poisons, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, Iran 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 Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds, presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White Monsanto House," on 05-25-2013. We salute you Herr Blunt, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama






The Treason Of Intellectuals
by Chris Hedges

The rewriting of history by the power elite was painfully evident as the nation marked the 10th anniversary of the start of the Iraq War. Some claimed they had opposed the war when they had not. Others among "Bush's useful idiots" argued that they had merely acted in good faith on the information available; if they had known then what they know now, they assured us, they would have acted differently. This, of course, is false. The war boosters, especially the "liberal hawks"-who included Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer, Al Franken and John Kerry, along with academics, writers and journalists such as Bill Keller, Michael Ignatieff, Nicholas Kristof, David Remnick, Fareed Zakaria, Michael Walzer, Paul Berman, Thomas Friedman, George Packer, Anne-Marie Slaughter, Kanan Makiya and the late Christopher Hitchens-did what they always have done: engage in acts of self-preservation. To oppose the war would have been a career killer. And they knew it.

These apologists, however, acted not only as cheerleaders for war; in most cases they ridiculed and attempted to discredit anyone who questioned the call to invade Iraq. Kristof, in The New York Times, attacked the filmmaker Michael Moore as a conspiracy theorist and wrote that anti-war voices were only polarizing what he termed "the political cesspool." Hitchens said that those who opposed the attack on Iraq "do not think that Saddam Hussein is a bad guy at all." He called the typical anti-war protester a "blithering ex-flower child or ranting neo-Stalinist." The halfhearted mea culpas by many of these courtiers a decade later always fail to mention the most pernicious and fundamental role they played in the buildup to the war-shutting down public debate. Those of us who spoke out against the war, faced with the onslaught of right-wing "patriots" and their liberal apologists, became pariahs. In my case it did not matter that I was an Arabic speaker. It did not matter that I had spent seven years in the Middle East, including months in Iraq, as a foreign correspondent. It did not matter that I knew the instrument of war. The critique that I and other opponents of war delivered, no matter how well grounded in fact and experience, turned us into objects of scorn by a liberal elite that cravenly wanted to demonstrate its own "patriotism" and "realism" about national security. The liberal class fueled a rabid, irrational hatred of all war critics. Many of us received death threats and lost our jobs, for me one at The New York Times. These liberal warmongers, 10 years later, remain both clueless about their moral bankruptcy and cloyingly sanctimonious. They have the blood of hundreds of thousands of innocents on their hands.

The power elite, especially the liberal elite, has always been willing to sacrifice integrity and truth for power, personal advancement, foundation grants, awards, tenured professorships, columns, book contracts, television appearances, generous lecture fees and social status. They know what they need to say. They know which ideology they have to serve. They know what lies must be told-the biggest being that they take moral stances on issues that aren't safe and anodyne. They have been at this game a long time. And they will, should their careers require it, happily sell us out again.

Leslie Gelb, in the magazine Foreign Affairs, spelled it out after the invasion of Iraq.

"My initial support for the war was symptomatic of unfortunate tendencies within the foreign policy community, namely the disposition and incentives to support wars to retain political and professional credibility. We 'experts' have a lot to fix about ourselves, even as we 'perfect' the media. We must redouble our commitment to independent thought, and embrace, rather than cast aside, opinions and facts that blow the common-often wrong-wisdom apart. Our democracy requires nothing less."

The moral cowardice of the power elite is especially evident when it comes to the plight of the Palestinians. The liberal class, in fact, is used to marginalize and discredit those, such as Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein, who have the honesty, integrity and courage to denounce Israeli war crimes. And the liberal class is compensated for its dirty role in squelching debate.

"Nothing in my view is more reprehensible than those habits of mind in the intellectual that induce avoidance, that characteristic turning away from a difficult and principled position, which you know to be the right one, but which you decide not to take," wrote the late Edward Said. "You do not want to appear too political; you are afraid of seeming controversial; you want to keep a reputation for being balanced, objective, moderate; your hope is to be asked back, to consult, to be on a board or prestigious committee, and so to remain within the responsible mainstream; someday you hope to get an honorary degree, a big prize, perhaps even an ambassadorship."

"For an intellectual these habits of mind are corrupting par excellence. If anything can denature, neutralize, and finally kill a passionate intellectual life it is the internalization of such habits. Personally I have encountered them in one of the toughest of all contemporary issues, Palestine, where fear of speaking out about one of the greatest injustices in modern history has hobbled, blinkered, muzzled many who know the truth and are in a position to serve it. For despite the abuse and vilification that any outspoken supporter of Palestinian rights and self-determination earns for him or herself, the truth deserves to be spoken, represented by an unafraid and compassionate intellectual."

Julien Benda argued in his 1927 book "The Treason of Intellectuals"-"La Trahison des Clercs"-that it is only when we are not in pursuit of practical aims or material advantages that we can serve as a conscience and a corrective. Those who transfer their allegiance to the practical aims of power and material advantage emasculate themselves intellectually and morally. Benda wrote that intellectuals were once supposed to be indifferent to popular passions. They "set an example of attachment to the purely disinterested activity of the mind and created a belief in the supreme value of this form of existence." They looked "as moralists upon the conflict of human egotisms." They "preached, in the name of humanity or justice, the adoption of an abstract principle superior to and directly opposed to these passions." These intellectuals were not, Benda conceded, very often able to prevent the powerful from "filling all history with the noise of their hatred and their slaughters." But they did, at least, "prevent the laymen from setting up their actions as a religion, they did prevent them from thinking themselves great men as they carried out these activities." In short, Benda asserted, "humanity did evil for two thousand years, but honored good. This contradiction was an honor to the human species, and formed the rift whereby civilization slipped into the world." But once the intellectuals began to "play the game of political passions," those who had "acted as a check on the realism of the people began to act as its stimulators." And this is why Michael Moore is correct when he blames The New York Times and the liberal establishment, even more than George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, for the Iraq War.

"The desire to tell the truth," wrote Paul Baran, the brilliant Marxist economist and author of "The Political Economy of Growth," is "only one condition for being an intellectual. The other is courage, readiness to carry on rational inquiry to wherever it may lead … to withstand … comfortable and lucrative conformity."

Those who doggedly challenge the orthodoxy of belief, who question the reigning political passions, who refuse to sacrifice their integrity to serve the cult of power, are pushed to the margins. They are denounced by the very people who, years later, will often claim these moral battles as their own. It is only the outcasts and the rebels who keep truth and intellectual inquiry alive. They alone name the crimes of the state. They alone give a voice to the victims of oppression. They alone ask the difficult questions. Most important, they expose the powerful, along with their liberal apologists, for what they are.
(c) 2013 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."








The Growing Campaign To Revoke Obama's Nobel Peace Prize
By Norman Solomon

The Nobel Peace Prize that President Obama received 40 months ago has emerged as the most appalling Orwellian award of this century. No, war is not peace.

George Carlin used to riff about oxymorons like "jumbo shrimp," "genuine imitation," "political science" and "military intelligence." But humor is of the gallows sort when we consider the absurdity and tragedy of the world's most important peace prize honoring the world's top war maker.

This week, a challenge has begun with the launch of a petition urging the Norwegian Nobel Committee to revoke Obama's Peace Prize. By midnight of the first day, nearly 10,000 people had signed. The online petition simply tells the Nobel committee: "I urge you to rescind the Nobel Peace Prize that was awarded to Barack Obama."

Many signers have added their own comments. Here are some samples:

"It is with very great regret that I sign this petition, but I feel it is morally the right thing to do. I had phenomenally high hopes that our President would be a torch bearer for the true message of Peace. Instead he has brought death, destruction and devastation to vast areas of the world, and made us less safe by creating more enemies." Sushila C., Punta Gorda, FL

"War is nothing to be given a peace prize for." Brent L., San Diego, CA

"President Obama has clearly demonstrated that he is undeserving of the Nobel Peace Prize. Revoke his prize and give it to Bradley Manning!" Henry B., Portland, OR

"Perhaps a better president than Bush or Romney, but not a Nobel laureate for peace." Arun N., Woodinville, WA

"I honestly cannot understand how they could bestow that honor on President Obama to begin with; I'm still puzzled!" Cindy A., Phoenix, AR

"Giving the prize to President Obama has degraded the esteem the Nobel Prize once had as a means of recognizing the best of us. It now represents a pat on the back for the thugs that roam freely amongst our governments. That decision has made me question the integrity of all previous nominations, and wonder if the entire Nobel Prize program is nothing but a sham." Juan F., Arcata, CA

"Continued occupation of Afghanistan and drone strikes across national borders are NOT the actions of a peacemaker. Mr. Obama has defiled the good will of the Nobel prize." Dudley D., Chicago, IL

"His actions are speaking louder than his words. He has continued Bush's torture policy and both wars. He has sent armed drones in to remote places and only questionably killed terrorists, but definitely killed civilians. He does not deserve it." Katherine M., San Diego, CA

"Les espoirs envers Obama etaient élevés, les resultats decevants." Andre T., Quebec City, Canada

"A President for Peace? Tell that to the thousands of innocent men, women and hundreds of children that have been killed in drone strikes during the Obama administration. It was laughable that this coveted prize was given to him in the first place but now it is just obscene!" Barlee R., Antioch, CA

"Allowing the Nobel Peace Prize to remain in Obama's name forsakes the very creed the prize is meant to represent. Please don't (continue to) be a hypocrite -- no way in Hell does that man deserve to be credited in any way for being a peacemaker. I said the same for Bush by the way -- so don't think I'm just some partisan nutcase obsessed with bashing Obama. I simply speak the Truth as often as possible and let the chips fall where they may. Many of us peaceful, compassionate folks would like to have this message droned into your collective heads. Obama is just another puppet doing the bidding of the greedy, mass-murdering global elite." Greg C., Manhattan, KS

"The peace prize should be awarded to Pfc. Bradley Manning instead." Robert F., Santa Clara, CA

"This would be an extraordinarily bold move, but it certainly would send a message to the world that peace means peace, not war." David G., Portland, OR

"Peace Prize my ass, War Prize more like!" Ernest S., Detroit, MI

"I so wish President Obama had lived up to the award he was given. Instead he has chosen to continue and expand the horrors being perpetrated by our country. War is not ever the answer." Carol G., Goshen, IN

"Droning people to death is not peace." William S., New York, NY

"Not being George W. Bush was never sufficient ground for this award, and Mr. Obama's enthusiastic support for the extension of empire, fossil fuels, raw military power, and other violence against the earth and its people is further evidence of its unwisdom." Scott W., Durham, NC

"One must walk the walk of peace, not just talk the talk of peace in order to earn the Peace Prize." Paul M., Los Angeles, CA

"Drone Bombs create more terrorists than they kill." Jay J., Roachdale, IN

"A war criminal is not worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize." Lars P., Afton, WI

"Our President had an unprecedented opportunity to effect a turn-around in foreign policy after the illegal and failed wars of his predecessor. He was hired to do so; but he has squandered the opportunity and has in fact increased U.S. aggression. He does not deserve to be known as a Nobel Peace Prize recipient." Lynn J., Roslyn, PA

"The PEACE prize should be given to those that work toward PEACE, not the ones that only talk about it." Karen W., Weirsdale, FL

"Take it from Obama and give it to its rightful owner, Bradley Manning." Rand K., Hotchkiss, CO

"I urge you to rescind the Nobel from this coward who kills children with drones. Are you intentionally making the peace prize a joke or are you just not too bright?" Janet M., Charlottetown, CA

"He's not as big a war criminal as Kissinger, so you should revoke both." Earl F., Santa Maria, CA

"This man is a disgrace in the cause of peace. What were you thinking?" Sherrill F., Davis, CA

"Given his actions and policies, Obama is more a Man of Pieces -- as in, ‘Blow them to pieces!' -- than he is a Man of peace." Marcus M., San Rafael, CA

"He's done nothing to deserve it; and he's done many things to destroy peace in this world." Danny D., Shoreline, WA

"This human has killed more after he got the prize." Thomas P., Lewiston, CA

"He obtained the award on promises he didn't keep." Ron B., Bend, OR

"President Obama's actions have shown that his words were meaningless. The Nobel Peace Prize means little if it's so easily given away." Debra J., Pasadena, MD

"As an Obama voter I am deeply disappointed. It was bad judgment to give it to him in the first place." Tim K., Long Prairie, MN

"Drones are offensive weapons, in every sense of the word." Richard F., Portland, OR

"As much of an Obama supporter I am, perhaps stripping him of this award would get his attention, nothing else seems to be getting the message across that the American People have had enough of multiple trillion dollar unnecessary wars." Vern M., Albuquerque, NM

"Obama is a smiling war monger." Jon M., Wellington, New Zealand

"Under Obama's leadership our assassination-by-drone foreign policy has increased dramatically, which makes him a war criminal." Frank S., Bellingham, WA

"As a constituent and two-time voter for Barack Obama, I am dismayed and frightened at the warmongering ways he has displayed as our leader. I urge the revocation of his undeserved Nobel prize." Samuel P., Colton, CA

"What a good idea! Yes, he has the blood of many innocents on his hands." Gene A., Athens, OH

"He should have never got it in the first place!" David S., Everett, WA

"I voted for the president in both elections but I do not feel he ever deserved the Nobel Peace Prize! Please rescind it!" Carol H., Michigan City, IN

"Please start with Henry Kissinger before Obama, whose hands are tied." Bob S., Gibsons, BC, Canada

"Giving him a Nobel Peace Prize is an affront to the deep heritage of true peacemakers who well deserved it. Obama has waged continuous war, torture and other violence since being President. Please revoke it now." Barry S., Macdoel, CA

"Bush gave us 2 unfunded wars. Will Obama add a few more? Stop wars, drones and killing with other people's children." Burt S., Pompton Plains, NJ

"I voted for Obama -- twice. I am very sad to sign this petition, but I believe in my heart, what he has done with drones is totally wrong!" Gloria H., Santa Rosa, CA

"Obama's deeds do not match his words." Evalyn S., Walnut Creek, CA

"You lost any credibility giving Obama the peace prize. Fix it." Camilo B., Long Beach, CA

"Obama's harsh treatment of whistleblowers who are trying to expose the outlandish abuses of the military/corporate state disqualify him from any awards given to peacemakers." David L., Alamosa, CO

"It's real sad that the promises that were made by Barack Obama concerning nearly everything have been lost with his sellout to corporate greed. We need a real leader for Peace." Al B., Ignacio, CO

"I had high hopes for this President when I voted for him. I believed him to be a peace maker, unlike the hawk who was his predecessor. However, there seems to be no effort at peacemaking, at reconciliation, at hope, and killing-by-drone simply leads to more fear and hatred. I fear the day that the government will try to control US with them, too." Louise A., Greenfield, MA

"You gave him the Nobel Peace Prize too soon. His use of drones and killing of innocent civilians attests to his being anything but a peace-maker." Rev. Sandy G., San Francisco, CA

"It is not a good example of what peace means when the Nobel Prize is awarded to the leader of a nation engaging in war as a business strategy. Make a statement, please." Chandra P., Walsenburg, CO

"I, like so many others, gave this man the benefit of the doubt. It has been thrown back in our faces." Chris C., Harrogate, Great Britain

"He never deserved it and he hasn't earned it. Yes, please, take it back." Jackie F., Oakland, CA

"The Nobel Peace Prize should not be awarded to war mongers and war criminals. Therefore, please revoke the Peace Prize you awarded to President Obama in 2009." Fred N., Pleasanton, CA

"It is with deepest regret we ask for this but our President's actions have not lived up to the high honor of promoting peace." GlendaRae H., South Bend, IN

"I don't think anyone ever understood what Obama was supposed to have done to have deserved the Peace Prize in the first place. And I'm a lifelong Democrat, so my feeling that the Nobel Committee made a mistake is not based in political partisanship." Steve J., Hermosa Beach, CA

"It appears that preemptive peace prizes work about as well as preemptive wars." Jaan C., Alameda, CA

To read more comments, or to sign the RootsAction.org petition urging the Norwegian Nobel Committee to revoke President Obama's Peace Prize, click here.
(c) 2013 Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death" and "Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State."



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Equal Is As Equal Does
By Will Durst

The nation held its collective breath and turned not just blue but a veritable rainbow of colors as the Supreme Court spent a goodly part of two days hearing oral arguments on gay marriage. Well, at least they were in the same room as arguments about gay marriage were oralled. In a position to eavesdrop on a series of gay marriage arguments; if they were of a mind to.

You can never really pin down which of the 9 Phat Ebony Robes is hearing what. Court watchers long have presumed Justice Scalia underwent a powdered-wig strict constructionist-filter installation years back that insures nothing post-18th Century funnels through to his cognitive cells. And if Antonin can't hear it, as far as Clarence Thomas is concerned, it doesn't exist. The others hear what they want to hear. Proving they do indeed represent America.

The Supremes will weigh in on the Defense of Marriage Act and the legality of California's Proposition 8 sometime in June. Until then the suspense is killing us -- thrillingly. Although the fact they're using "opposite-sex marriage" to describe heterosexuality should already be counted as a victory. And like every thing else that comes before the court, final disposition probably depends on which side of the bed Justice Kennedy wakes up.

Don't tell the Berobed Ones, (musn't allow deeper insecurity complexes to develop) but it doesn't really matter how they rule, because gay marriage is on the fast track to be permanently woven into the fabric of our national diversity quilt. The handwriting is on the wall. And the penmanship is stunning.

Across the country, same-sex marriage polls have risen faster than property taxes in a tulip bubble. Pollster Nate Silver, of the NYT, the nation's soothsayer, expects national support to increase 1 1/2 percentage points each year. And let us lay thanks at the remote of the one-eyed HD beast, television.

Familiarity breeds tolerance. Gay celebs such as Ellen DeGeneres and Anderson Cooper have encouraged kids of today to live their lives openly. Allowing middle America enough interactive glances to realize the gay community doesn't devote most of its waking hours attempting to engorge the Armies of Sodom brandishing pitchforks and sporting horns. Like we were told. Over and over.

When you say gay people, the emphasis is on the people and the only real difference between gay and straight is which way your head faces during sex. That's it. And an uncanny ability to assemble amazing appetizer trays. Grilled asparagus wrapped in goat cheese and prosciutto? Yes! Fist bump. Blow it up. Now talk about it.

And forget the malevolent clowns of the Westboro Baptist Church, who make God laugh so hard he spits milk through his nose. Casual bigotry is dying off. Literally. Old people and their parents with a life radius of 30 miles. Oh sure, there will always be prejudice, stupidity and fear but society is rapidly realizing that "gay" is just another adjective; like blonde or buff or stinky.

Whether it's generational shifts, enlightened minds or disco going mainstream, the tide of tolerance is proving inexorable. Only a matter of time before gay marriage is universally accepted, and then it will seem perfectly routine until eventually it becomes mandatory. Dibs on Clooney!
(c) 2013 Will Durst's, e-book "Elect to Laugh!" published by Hyperink, is now available at Redroom.com, Amazon and many other fine virtual book retailers near you. Go to willdurst.com for more info. Will Durst's new one- man show "BoomerAging: From LSD to OMG" opens previews at the Marsh, San Francisco on April 16th. Go to themarsh.org.




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Issues & Alibis Vol 13 # 14 (c) 04/05/2013


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