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In This Edition

Cynthia McKinney speaks at the, "Newseum Press Conference on Libya."

Uri Avnery studies, "Napoleon’s Dictum."

David Sirota considers, "Lesson Of Libya."

Randall Amster exclaims, "Looking for Mr. Goodwar? Consider a 'Truth Surge' Instead!"

Jim Hightower spotlights, "Two Unreasonable Women."

Helen Thomas reports, "Obama Takes A Stand On Libyan Revolt."

James Donahue documents fascism in Michigan in, "The Snyder Takeover Of Michigan Towns And Schools."

Sam Harris asks, "Will The Dead Walk Again?"

Chris Floyd explores, "Eternal Punishment."

Joel S Hirschhorn discovers, "Despicable Lies, Delusional Recovery."

Paul Krugman finds, "The Truth, Still Inconvenient."

Chris Hedges shows us, "This Is What Resistance Looks Like."

David Michael Green examines what happens, "When Pigs Rule."

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker wins the coveted "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

John Nichols visits, "In The Courts Of Fitzwalkerstan."

Glenn Greenwald reviews, "Primitive Muslims' Unique Love Of Violence."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion finds, "Even Newt Gingrich A Little Depressed By Prospect Of Him Running For President" but first, Uncle Ernie is, "Giving Medicine To The Dead."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Gary Markstein, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Derf City, Married To The Sea, Bill Day, Jim Morin, Mario Piperni.Com, Stuart Carlson, Chicago Ray, A.P., Columbia Pictures Corporation, 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."

Giving Medicine To The Dead
By Ernest Stewart

"To argue with a man who has renounced his reason is like giving medicine to the dead." ~~~ Thomas Paine

"That is not justice!" ~~~ Anthony D. Romero ~ ACLU executive director

"In the nicest way I have to say, Paul Ryan doesn't know what he is talking about." ~~~ Harry Reid.

All together now
(All together now)
All together now
(All together now)
All together now
(All together now)
All together now
(All together now)
All Together Now ~~~ The Beatles

To be honest politically these daze one can not be either a Rethuglican or a Demoncrat as there is really no difference between the two; they both work for our corpo-rat masters and couldn't give a rat's ass about we the people. The trouble is their followers haven't a clue that this is so. The Matrix is so warm, fuzzy, and comforting--and to think outside of it is very scary and delusional, indeed. Waking up to "Everything You Know Is Wrong," can be a bit disquieting!

It's been obvious to me for years that the Rethuglican camp followers were this way, brainwashed and totally ignorant of reality, but in the last few years I found it to be exactly the same for Demoncratic camp followers, too. Although they had no problem seeing the treason, sedition, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, not to mention crimes against the Constitution, done by the Bush Junta, one would've thought they could see the exact same crimes, whether committed by Slick Willie or Obamahood, too; but, apparently, they can't.

It's as simple as they see things as good or evil with no shades of grey. They were against Bush who was evil; ergo, they are good and their candidate is good, too, by association. After all, he said he was for all the things that I believe in. Yes, it's really that simple. Symbolism! It's also true that Symbolism is for the symbol-minded, please excuse the pun, but it's true.

We come by it honestly as we've been fooled by our government since our first revolution. A revolution that brought democracy to this land; except, of course, that it didn't, nor was it ever meant to. It was our corporations rebelling against the British corporations; King George and democracy never entered into it! A school system that has never taught what children need to know, i.e., how to think, but instead a fantasy history complete with morals that enslave instead of liberate! You don't need to know the truth about the world; all you need to know is how to be a good little robot and fill your cog in the wheel of industry! This has been reinforced by the family, the schools, the churches and mass media. So I'm not surprised by our incredible blindness of the big picture; what I am surprised by is how many people have unhooked themselves from the Matrix, and have the guts to speak out about it!

When I started the magazine my hope was to unhook as many folks from the Matrix as I could and show them the facts, but that never really worked as the truth is scary, and being plugged in can be so nice, and reality is such a bitch! Therefore, over the years, I stopped trying to save the Sheeple, but sought out others, who, like myself, knew the score and had the courage to say so. These are the people I reach out to for a chance to teach them, and, more importantly, a chance to learn from them. I learned a long time ago if you just shut the f*ck up and listen, you just might learn something! While it's true that you can't put two leftists in the same room for ten minutes without an argument breaking out, that's just a sign of a healthy mind. Asking, questioning, arguing and picking nits is a good thing! Those who never question authority, go along with the party, and never even think, end up wearing brown shirts and Jack Boots! So it may be best to try and stay out of their way. As I'm fond of saying, "You can expound the wisdom of the universe to a fence post, but it just ain't gonna sink in, even if the fence post has ears!"

In Other News

I see where Obamahood and Eric Holder are doing an about face on the fate of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. You remember Khalid? He was the so-called mastermind behind 9/11 which surprised me because I, like most folks, thought 9/11 was masterminded by PNAC and carried out by the Crime Family Bush!™ You'll recall that back in 2009, Barry and Eric made much ado about giving Khalid and four others a fair trial in New York, to show the world they'd get justice in a court of law! So much for that bright idea!

Khalid will now face a kangaroo court down in Gitmo, where the verdict has already been arrived at! Finally, after at least 183 torture sessions (that we know about), he finally confessed to whatever it was they wanted him to say. They still didn't have the evidence to prosecute him legally so it's off to Gitmo for Khalid and American Justice behind closed doors, just like when they were torturing him. Why didn't they just shoot this poor smuck in the head and be done with it to begin with? It would have saved us a few billion, our "boy's next door" wouldn't be having nightmares for torturing him, and the end result would be the same, and we wouldn't have to pretend that this was all aboveboard when it was below board, a water board that is!

If you have good evidence, then you can take it to trial in New York, but if they had any evidence, why torture him at all--much less 183 times! If you tortured me, I'd tell you I sank the Lusitania and confess that I killed Cock Robin, too, and so would you, folks; have no doubt of that! There must be scapegoats to cover our government's tracks in this. C'est la guerre, Khalid!

Of course, as bad as this is, it pales by comparison to Obamahood's new power to keep people in prison forever without any evidence, not even a sham trial. The next step on this slippery slope is that Barry will be able to kill anybody, for any reason, on his say-so alone! No, wait a minute, he's already had that power for over a year! We are so screwed, America!

And Finally

Seems there always something new from those irascible knuckleheads in Wisconsin, maybe there is something in their drinking water that causes human beings to regress to a regressive state of being? A good example of this might be in Paul Ryan's bright idea to balance the budget, "The Roadmap For America's Future." This is the same turkey that the Rethuglicans have been pushing for years with no luck. It's just chock full of facts and figures, not a single one of which is verifiable or true, imagine that!

If you're thinking that Paul has plans to tax the uber-wealthy and the mega-corporations that make billions in profits, but don't pay a penny in tax, then think again! Paul has no intention of taxing the ones who caused this Depression, that not only deserve to be taxed, but who could afford to pay an honest tax without the slightest bit of worry! Guess who Paul wants to stick the tab for bailing out the banks and giving trillions of dollars to our elite, not to mention picking up the tab for six costly wars on? If you guessed the elderly, the sick and the working poor, you may stay after class and clean the erasers! Just like old Yogi, "I'm having a deja vu, all over again!" Are you, too?

Paul's bright idea is to do away with Medicare and Medicaid and replace them by programs that force seniors, the poor and sick to buy coverage from the insurance goons or die, preferably the latter, since these oldsters have quit working and feeding the corpo-rat gravy train, and are therefore worthless. They can spend all that money they saved for their retirement on medical bills, so much for those taxes they paid to fund Medicare and Medicaid for all those decades! Don't have any savings, then remember the Rethuglican Health Care plans that say, " that case, die as quickly and quietly as possible!" Are you homeless, then don't fret, they've got that covered, too! Did you think all those new Happy Camps™ being built were for Mexicans and Liberals? Paul, no doubt, has a modest proposal and a final solution to the seniors' question!

Paul and his fellow Tea Baggers also have plans for that socialist Social Security; they're called "Retirement Camps.™" They're just like the summer camps of your childhood, except that the bread is made out of sawdust, and you don't ever get to go back home! How long can you make popsicle stick-picture frames, America?

Oh, brave new world, indeed!

Keepin' On

Thank Zeus for good ole Ernie from Ontario, he's like a one man crusader to keep Issues & Alibis coming to you every week. While Ernie swears that he doen't wear blue tights and a red cape with a big "S" across his chest, I'm guessing that's because there are no phone booths anymore for him to change in! Thanks so much, Ernie!

As the Beatles song says, "All together now" and, for emphasis, they repeat it 16 times, with 8 times being a refrain. They, unlike me, really knew how to get the message across! I'm still learning, folks!

We've had millions of hits over the years and if just 1% of them had sent in a $20 in support, just one time, not only wouldn't I be here now, hat in had, but we could have set up a trust fund to keep this service going, long after I'm gone. Imagine that! A free source for news and reality even when everywhere else is bullsh*t and charging you for the information. If you've been searching hither and yon for that liberal press, look no more, you've found it, whether or not we keep publishing it, is entirely up to you!


11-01-1948 ~ 04-03-2011
Thanks for the protest songs!

04-29-1946 ~ 04-04-2011
Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati!


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


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

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

Statement of Cynthia McKinney
Newseum Press Conference on Libya
By Cynthia McKinney

Thursday, 31 March 2011

I am pleased to stand with my colleagues today who are outraged at Nobel Peace Laureate President Obama’s decision to wage war on Africa in Libya. At the outset, let me state that Libya is home to tens of thousands or more of foreign students and guest workers. The students come from Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia. The messages I have received from concerned Africans state that these young innocent people, inaccurately labeled by the U.S. press as “black mercenaries,” have been trapped in hostile territory and are hated by the U.S.-allied Al Qaeda insurgents. The press forgot that Libya is in Africa and that Libyans are Black, too!

I would also like to acknowledge the outrage of the Women International Democratic Federation of Brazil that repudiates the invasion of Libya. They point specifically to the depressed state of women in pre-Qaddafi Libya and how women now have positions that had once been denied to them. They note in their communiqué that the National Front of the Salvation of Libya has been financed by the C.I.A. since 1981 and that its headquarters is in Washington, D.C.

In fact, I have received messages and phone calls from people literally all over the world who are outraged at this action. And because the media cannot be relied upon to tell the truth, I repeat the call that I received directly from Libya yesterday for international observers to go to Libya to tell the world the truth. I would go.

Sadly, President Obama’s justification for war provides answers that don’t answer, explanations that don’t explain, and conclusions that don’t conclude. Reports continue to emerge of the US ties to the so-called rebel leaders: the latest being that Khalifa Hifter, latest leader of the rebel army, spent much of the past 20 years in Langley, Virginia. He didn’t even move to Baltimore to disguise the relationship! Moreover, General Wesley Clarke told us that Libya was on the U.W. hitlist ten years ago!

This is nothing new. This operation smells very much like so many other Africa operations fueled by U.S.-supported individuals who become a rebel force able to threaten an inconvenient leader who stands up to the U.S. This particular play has been repeated in Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, and Angola and Mozambique before them. We are not blind; we recognize this play. And the use of depleted uranium will cause health effects for generations to come.

Pentagon Secretary Gates said “Libya is not part of our vital interest.” Then why are we there? Herein lies the conundrum. President Obama has authorized secret support for its rebels in Libya, just like Miami’s Cuban community has received for decades.

Sadly, our President has chosen to spend $600 million per week in addition to other war costs at a time when the Black community is melting. As of the most recent Economic Policy Institute study, average Black family wealth was $2,000 while that of Whites was $94,600. President Obama has done nothing to address the disparities that have existed in this country since slavery. Clearly, our President should focus on home and improving the lot of the people of this country before launching another war.

Finally, I must say something about the ugly hate language that is emanating more and more from Black political voices. Any politician seeking votes by exacerbating divisions in our country does not deserve our votes. I’m speaking specifically about the unfortunate remarks of Herman Cain who should know better.

I stand with those who support the right of self-determination of the Libyan people, including their right to resolve differences without interference from outsiders.


Silence is the deadliest weapon of mass destruction.
(c) 2011 Cynthia McKinney is a former U.S. Congresswoman, Green Party presidential candidate, and an outspoken advocate for human rights and social justice. The first African-American woman to represent the state of Georgia, McKinney served six terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, from 1993-2003, and from 2005-2007.

Napoleon’s Dictum
By Uri Avnery

IT WAS Napoleon who said that it is better to fight against a coalition than to fight as part of one.

Coalitions mean trouble. To conduct a successful military operation, one needs a unified command and a clear, agreed upon aim. Both are rare in coalitions.

A coalition is composed of different countries, each of which has its own national interests and domestic political pressures. Reaching an agreement on anything needs time, which will be used by a determined enemy to his own advantage.

All this has become very apparent in the coalition war against Muammar Qaddafi.

THERE IS no way to get rid of this “eccentric” tyrant but by sheer military force. This seems to be obvious by now.

As the Hebrew joke goes, Qaddafi may be mad, but he is not crazy. He perceives the rifts in the coalition wall and is shrewd enough to exploit them. The Russians abstained in the Security Council vote – which in effect meant voting for the resolution – but since then have been carping about every move. Many well-meaning and experienced leftists around the world condemn everything the US and/or NATO do, whatever it is.

Some people condemn the “Libyan intervention” because there is no similar action against Bahrain or Yemen. Sure, it is a case of blatant discrimination. But that is like demanding a murderer go unpunished because other murderers are still free. Two minuses make a plus, but two murders do not become a non-murder.

Others assert that some of the coalition partners are themselves not much better than Qaddafi. So why pick on him? Well, it’s he who provoked the world and stands in the way of the Arab awakening. The need to remove others must be dealt with, too, but should not in any way serve as an argument against solving the present crisis. We cannot wait for a perfect world – it may take some time to arrive. In the meantime, let’s do our best in an imperfect one.

EVERY Day that passes with Qaddafi and his thugs still there, the coalition malaise gets worse. The agreed aim of “protecting Libyan civilians” is wearing thin – it was a polite lie from the beginning. The real aim is – and cannot be otherwise – the removal of the murderous tyrant, whose very existence in power is a continuous deadly menace to his people. But that was not spelled out in coalitionese.

It is clear by now that the “rebels” have no real military force. They are not a unified political movement and they have no unified political - let alone military - command. They will not conquer Tripoli by themselves, perhaps not even if the coalition supplies them with arms.

It is not the case of an irregular force fighting a regular army and gradually turning into an organized army itself – as we did in 1948.

The fact that there is no rebel army to speak of may be a positive phenomenon – it shows that there is no hidden, sinister force lurking in the wings, waiting to replace Qaddafi with another repressive regime. It is indeed a democratic, grassroots uprising.

But for the coalition, it creates a headache. What now? Leave Qaddafi, a wounded and therefore doubly dangerous animal, in his lair, ready to pounce on the rebels the moment the pressure is off? Go in and themselves do the job of removing him? Go on talking and do nothing?

One of the most hypocritical – if not downright ridiculous – proposals is to “negotiate” with him. Negotiate with an irrational tyrant? What about? About postponing the massacre of the rebels for six months? Creating a state which is half democratic, half brutal dictatorship?

Of course there must be negotiations – without and after Qaddafi. Different parts of the country, different “tribes”, different political forces yet to rise must negotiate about the future shape of the state, preferably under UN auspices. But with Qaddafi??

ONE ARGUMENT is that it should all be left to the Arabs. After all, it was the “Arab League” that called for a no-fly zone.

Alas, that is a sad joke.

That Arab League (actually the “League of Arab States”) has all the weaknesses and few of the strengths of a coalition. Founded with British encouragement at the end of World War II, it is a loose – very, very loose – association of states with vastly different interests.

In a way, it represents the Arab World as it is – or was until yesterday. It is a world in which two (and perhaps three) contradictory trends are at work.

On the one hand, there is the perpetual longing of the Arab masses for Arab unity. It is real and profound, nourished by memories of past Arab glories. It finds its most concrete current expression in solidarity with the Palestinian people. Arab leaders who have betrayed this trust are paying the price now.

On the other hand, there are the cynical calculations of the member states. From the very first moment of its existence, the League has reflected the labyrinthine world of mutually antagonistic and competing regimes. Cairo always vies with Baghdad for the crown of Arab leadership, ancient Damascus competes with both. The Hashemites hate the Saudis, who displaced them in Mecca. Add to this the myriad ideological, social and religious tensions, and you get the picture.

The first major undertaking of the League – the 1948 intervention in the Israeli-Palestinian war - ended in an Arab disaster, largely because the armies of Egypt and Jordan tried to forestall each other, instead of concentrating their energies against us. That was our salvation. Since then, practically all Arab regimes have used the Palestinian Cause each for its own interests, with the Palestinian people serving as a ball in this cynical game.

The present Arab Awakening is not led by the League, by its very nature it is directed against everything the League is and represents. In Bahrain the Saudis are supporting the same forces the rebels are fighting against in Tripoli. As a factor in the Libyan crisis, the League is best ignored.

There is a third level of inter-Arab relations – the religious one. Islam has a strong hold on the Arab masses almost everywhere, but like every great religion, Islam has many faces indeed. It means quite different things to Wahabis in Riadh, Taliban in Kandahar, al-Qaeda people in Yemen, Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon, royalists in Morocco and the simple fellah on the shores of the Nile. But there is a vague sense of community.

So any Muslim Arab feels that he or she belongs to three different but overlapping identities, with the borders between them ill-defined – the “wotan”, which is the local nation, like Palestine or Egypt, the “kaum”, which is the pan-Arab identity, and the “umma”, which is the all-Islamic community of believers. I doubt whether there are two scholars who agree on these definitions.

SO HERE we are, people of March 2011, after having followed our basic human instinct and pushed for armed intervention against the threatened disaster in Libya.

It was the right, the decent thing to do.

With due – and sincere - respect to all those who criticized my stand, I am convinced that it was the humane one.

In Hebrew we say: He who starts doing a good deed must finish it. Qaddafi must be removed, the Libyan people must be given a decent chance to take their fate into their own hands. So, too, the Syrian people, the Yemenites, the Bahrainis and all the others.

I don’t know where it will lead them – each of them in their own country. I can only wish them well - and hope.

And hope that this time Napoleon’s dictum will not be proven right.
(c) 2011 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Lesson Of Libya
By David Sirota

Launched almost exactly a quarter-century after Ronald Reagan first bombed Tripoli, America's new war in Libya was guaranteed to be yet another fist-pumpin', high-fivin' remake of a big-budget 1980s action movie – the kind of scripted, stylized "Top Gun"-like production that gets audiences to cheer wildly and ask few questions.

Almost three weeks in, Operation Odyssey Dawn has no doubt delivered on that promise – it has a blockbuster $100-million-per-week budget, a comic-book-grade villain in Col. Moammar Gadhafi and the modern media's obedient transcription of U.S. government pronouncements.

What war proponents did not bank on, however, was this latest exercise in "shock and awe" also unmasking unspoken and uncomfortable realities at the twilight of American empire. Here are just a few:

– America Suffers from a Bad Case of Selective Deficit Disorder: Dick Cheney once said "deficits don't matter," and that attitude defines our increasingly acute case of Selective Deficit Disorder – i.e., the disease whereby politicians express concern about deficits only when it justifies cutting nonmilitary expenditures. Just weeks ago, both political parties were calling America "broke" and competing to show who was more concerned about reining in spending. Most of these same deficit hawks, though, seem unconcerned about all that cash being spent on million-dollar cruise missiles in North Africa.

– America Doesn't Really Care About the Constitution: Despite the tea party-inspired talk about "enumerated powers" in the Constitution, the Libya invasion shows that few on either the left or right genuinely care about our country's founding document. We know this because there's been so little outcry about President Barack Obama invading Libya without a constitutionally mandated congressional declaration of war. The silence is particularly deafening considering Obama himself explicitly said in 2007 that such unsanctioned invasions are blatantly unconstitutional.

– America Has Made Patriotism the Refuge of Partisans: During the Iraq invasion, Republican partisans regularly insinuated that Democratic war opponents were unpatriotic because their criticism allegedly helped Saddam Hussein. We hear the same demagogic argument today with regard to Gadhafi, only now from Obama partisans. Indeed, see for yourself – log onto Twitter or Facebook or a liberal blog, and dare question the premise of the Libya invasion. Inevitably, some of the same Bush opponents who took umbrage at being called Saddam sympathizers will deride you as an unpatriotic Gadhafi lover. By this inanely hyperpartisan logic, of course, anyone opposing an immediate invasion of North Korea is a huge fan of Kim Jong Il.

– American Policymakers Aren't Motivated By Humanitarian Concerns: Though many Americans unflinchingly accept the Obama administration's humanitarian rationale for the Libya incursion, the justification is laughable coming from an administration that called Egypt's American-financed dictator Hosni Mubarak "a friend," labels the Saudi royal family an ally and this weekend praised Syria's Bashar al-Assad as "a reformer" even as he now massacres his own people. The Libya war is about a lot of things – oil, defense contracts, the Pentagon's brand-new Africa Command establishing its first foothold on the resource-rich continent, etc. – but it is not primarily about saving lives.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told ABC News this week that Libya poses no imminent threat to America and that its civil war is "not a vital national interest to the United States." The same cannot be said for the painful truths the conflict underscores. If left unaddressed, they threaten our budget, Constitution and credibility far more than any tyrant or terrorist ever could.
(c) 2010 David Sirota is the author of the best-selling books "Hostile Takeover" and "The Uprising." He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado and blogs at E-mail him at David Sirota is a former spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee.

Looking for Mr. Goodwar? Consider a 'Truth Surge' Instead!
By Randall Amster

It has been equal parts bemusing and bedeviling to watch as many liberals and moderates get on board with the latest episode of U.S. military adventurism. Equally fascinating has been the ostensible conservative response firmly opposing U.S. actions in Libya, since in a not-too-far bygone administration this faction never met a war they didn't like. These fickle vicissitudes of partisan politics point to a singularly troubling principle underlying our collective moral compass when it comes to foreign policy -- namely that we lack such a compass, and thus principle is subsumed by expediency.

Has it always been so? "There never was a good war, or a bad peace," Benjamin Franklin once said. Most might agree with the latter, but the former is a more challenging proposition. Depending upon the framing and protagonists pushing the agenda, as well as the exigencies and interests involved, wars tend to draw significant public support and are oftentimes provided with revisionist sensibilities of virtues such as valor or liberation. While we cannot argue that war accomplishes nothing, the question remains exactly what it does achieve, and at what cost.

Simply put, war kills. It kills people, environments, economies, cultures, psyches, and futures. It does so in an organized, calculated, and premeditated manner. Whatever its purported aims, were it not for the well-crafted legal and moral exceptions we make for combat operations, war is at root nothing less than murder. Rarely if ever does it fit any legalistic notion of self-defense or the ethical injunctions contemplated by the oxymoronic invocation of the "just war" doctrine -- both of which require proportionate responses to perceived threats and the exhaustion of all other plausible remedies (including retreat) before resort to force is warranted.

On another level, we might ask whether war can ever bring peace. We've been through the so-called "war to end all wars" already, and that was a century (and myriad intervening wars) ago. The flaw lies in the failure to grasp the simple mechanical proposition that "violence begets violence," but is also lodged firmly within the militaristic mindset that governs the behavior, as I wrote back in 2009:

“The military view prioritizes result over process and ends over means, and abstracts peoples and places into targets and territories. Even soldiers on the side of 'good' are dehumanized and denied basic rights as they are conscripted to fight ostensibly for 'freedom.' Individuals, communities, values, cultures, and bioregions are all expendable for the greater good of winning the war. How else do we explain the pervasive mentality reflected in the notion that 'we had to destroy the village in order to save it' and the obvious point that we have been at war almost continuously for over two centuries?”

War is, in short, illogical, self-defeating, and demonstrably anti-humanistic. Arguments suggesting otherwise ought to be met with great skepticism if not outright disdain, regardless of whose party or which figurehead is making them. Buying into the "good war" rhetoric -- especially when it pulls our heartstrings or appeals to our sense of right -- is a slippery slope toward continuing the entire enterprise, of which the far greater portion comprises the bad and the ugly as opposed to any such notion of the good.

We Have Met the Enemy...

One of the paradoxes of war is that those waging it, whatever their intentions going in, cannot help but become part of the problem in the process. The means of "overwhelming force" and "superior firepower" merely serve to validate such notions as primary ways of attaining one's goals, sending a message to others -- including present and future foes alike -- that is duly noted and often acted upon. When we seek to democratize at the barrel of a machine gun or liberate by aerial assault, the inconsistency is palpable and the ultimate ends remain elusive even after we declare "mission accomplished." At the end of the day, we come to realize that destroying the “other side” is a logical impossibility, since we cannot accomplish it without doing the same to ourselves in the process.

In this sense, war causes us to become the very thing we are allegedly fighting against. This is a truism reflected in the operational concept of "collateral damage," whereby civilian casualties are excused as part and parcel of the effort. While it may look different from our vantage point, the net effect on the deceased and grieving is no different than if it had been an intentional act of brutality or terrorism such as those we attribute to the enemy. Consider the following historical statement, and ask yourself how it would sound if uttered by Osama bin Laden rather than Winston Churchill:

“You ask, what is our policy? I say it is to wage war by land, sea, and air. War with all our might and with all the strength God has given us, and to wage war against a monstrous tyranny never surpassed in the dark and lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word. It is victory. Victory at all costs. Victory in spite of all terrors. Victory, however long and hard the road may be, for without victory there is no survival.”

War establishes a moral equivalence between battling factions, no matter the stated aims invoked to justify its utilization. In time, our platitudes and practices come to resemble those plied by the demonized other. On the eve of invading Afghanistan, George W. Bush asserted that "we're a peaceful nation;" a decade later the violence there is as great as it has ever been. In 2010, the U.S. found itself placing 85th (out of 149) in a report ranking the most peaceful nations on earth, trailing countries including China, Cuba, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Chile, the United Arab Emirates, and --wait for it -- Libya. As Pogo prophetically observed, "we have met the enemy, and it is us."

The Trojan Horse of 'Humanitarian Intervention'

Still, it is easy to be seduced by the language of protecting "human freedom" and the notion that "countless lives have been saved" due to our benign interventions, as President Obama recently asserted regarding Libya. In a perfect world, a nation (even a superpower) might be able to wield its power for such positive ends. But we live in the world of realpolitik, in which the bedrock moral tenet is the advancement of our own national interests. Notions of promoting democracy or removing tyrants are wholly subordinate to the utilitarian needs in any given situation, and it is eminently clear that "morals alone won't move us to attack." Indeed, it is beyond peradventure that we will support dictators and stifle nascent democracies when that is strategically advantageous -- including the very same autocrats that we sometimes later invoke as an excuse for incursion.

In fact, if we do intervene, we are likely to do so at a level commensurate with our perceived strategic interests, and not based on the gravity of the human rights situation. In this manner, we can observe a continuum of interventionism stretching from Rwanda and Darfur through Libya and Iraq that marks the terrain. Such a map of U.S. interventions would align much more closely with the global distribution of valuable resources than it would with the appearance of human rights violations and repressive regimes. Where the two overlap, a convenient "Trojan Horse" moment is presented, and a lot of people normally opposed to warfare will be all too willing to sign on to the mobilization -- notwithstanding the hypocrisy and inconsistency of our foreign policies, as some analysts have recently opined:

“The U.S.-led attacks against an autocrat in oil-rich Libya have opened the Obama administration to questions about why it's holding back from more robust support for opposition forces challenging other dictators. What is the difference, some have asked, between the situation in Libya and the uprisings in Bahrain, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Syria and even sub-Saharan African nations such as Ivory Coast? The bombardment by Washington and its allies of the air defenses and troops of Moammar Gadhafi, unquestionably an international pariah, was motivated by a desire to prevent a possible slaughter of rebels fighting to end his erratic 42-year reign.... But the military intervention begs many questions and illustrates once again the stark inconsistencies in an American foreign policy that tries to balance democratic ideals against pragmatic national interests.”

The First Casualty of War

An oft-repeated (and ill-attributed) aphorism is that "the first casualty of war is truth." Unfortunately, this means that other casualties will follow, and the reasons why are likely to be shrouded in manipulation and deception. Margaret Mead argued in 1940, as the world surged toward yet another devastating war, that "warfare is only an invention." Looking at the evolution of social inventions among various cultures, Mead concluded her landmark work with a reminder that "if we despair over the way in which war seems such an ingrained habit of most of the human race, we can take comfort from the fact that a poor invention will usually give place to a better invention."

By now, we stand in desperate need of this new invention, and must further recognize that it will not be found by cheerleading for military interventions. Such a practice of picking and choosing which wars are "good" fosters a political landscape in which we are left powerless to contest bald-faced assertions like those made by Dick Cheney (and subsequently repeated by many others) as the U.S. prepared to invade Iraq in 2003: "Now, I think things have gotten so bad inside Iraq, from the standpoint of the Iraqi people, my belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators."

If we want to help oppressed peoples and promote pacific relations in the world, then we ought to first free ourselves from despotism and militarism, and second help others to help themselves without turning them into dependents or collateral damage in the process. The search for a better invention is likewise a search for truth, both in our nation's policies and our own complicity with them. We can call it by many different names and practice it in myriad ways, but in the final analysis the antidote to war has always been as basic as working for peace in all of our endeavors.
(c) 2011 Randall Amster J.D., Ph.D., teaches peace studies at Prescott College and serves as the executive director of the Peace & Justice Studies Association. His most recent book is the co-edited volume "Building Cultures of Peace: Transdisciplinary Voices of Hope and Action" (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009).

Sheila & Elizabeth

Two Unreasonable Women

As George Bernard Shaw noted a century ago, "All change comes from the power of unreasonable people."Sheila Bair and Elizabeth Warren I think Shaw would agree to one small addendum to his sage observation, which is that such people are considered unreasonable only by the entrenched powers that always oppose change.

Let me offer two examples of people today who deserve our applause for rankling the establishment and, in turn, enduring its furious abuse: Sheila Bair and Elizabeth Warren. Both are daring to bring a stronger consumer and public-interest voice into the closed, cliquish, and often self-serving world of banking. Bair heads the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which gives a big helping hand to banks by insuring their customers' deposits. The FDIC is also supposed to help consumers and taxpayers by regulating banks. And – my goodness – unlike some of her predecessors, she has chosen to do both jobs, including providing tough enforcement of regulations to prevent bank failures, foster real competition, and deter banker finagling. At a recent meeting, financial chieftains showed their appreciation for her work (and their ugly side) with a cascade of catcalls, guffaws, snorts, and boos as she spoke.

Booed by bankers. I'm sure that's unpleasant at the moment – but what a badge of honor!

Likewise, Elizabeth Warren is under constant attack by Wall Street bosses and the flock of Republican Congress critters who shamelessly serve them. She helped create and is now setting up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as a watchdog over banker abuses. To show their gratitude, the bankers got their GOP maddogs to slash the bureau's budget and simply eliminate Warren's salary.
(c) 2011 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition.

Obama Takes A Stand On Libyan Revolt
By Helen Thomas

President Obama has finally taken a stand in favor of the revolt of the masses in Libya. It's good and wise, but not, he said, a stand to depose of Muammar Gaddafi by military means. Obama hopes to force his ouster by other means.

Obama's goals - using jet air strikes and missiles to help the out-gunned - is aimed at saving lives.

"Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries," Obama said in a national televised address Monday night, "but, the United States is different." He also noted that he was not acting alone, and he appeared happy to turn over the command of the NATO-run coalition.

"In such cases we should not be afraid to act - but the burden of acting should not be America's alone," he said.

Obama's strong words may come back to haunt him. The whole Arab world is engulfed in popular protests seeking democracy.

"I believe this moment of change cannot be turned back," he said, "and that we must stand alongside those who believe in the same core principals that have guided us through many storms, our opposition to violence directed against one's citizens; our support for a set of universal rights, including the freedom to express themselves and choose their leaders; our support for governments that are ultimately responsible to the aspirations of the people. ... Gaddafi has not yet stepped down from power and until he does, Libya will remain dangerous."

Obama made it clear we are involved in a partnership with the other nations to save civilian lives in Libya - not to depose Gaddafi, the strongman who has threatened house to house reprisals against the rebels.

The opposition represents grass-roots forces that are fighting for liberation from the fear and tyranny of one-man rule - under Gaddafi, who has been in power 40 years. Obama went on the offensive after being pushed by congressional critics.

He wanted to get on the right side of history. But in the case of his opposition, it was "damned if you do, and damned if you don't." Obama can't win in the case of opponents - many who are hoping to be his opposition GOP candidate in 2012.

Some of the critics compared the intervention to the U.S. Bush-led debacle in Iraq. But it's no such thing.

In 2003, the U.S.-Iraqi war, claiming it had weapons of mass destruction and ties to Al Qaieda terrorist networks - all lies. The individual invasion has been going on for eight years at a horrendous cost. Thousands of Americans and Iraqis were killed.

The war was touted to last two to three weeks, and Iraqis were to greet the invaders with flowers and candy. Dictator Saddam Hussein was hanged, and to this day former President George W. Bush has yet to explain why he invaded Iraq.

The most devastating destruction was in the town of Falluga - so devastating it can be compared to the leveling of Carthage.

The President made his remarks to a military audience Monday evening. He was flanked by American flags on the stage. He began his remarks defending his leadership in this world crisis, using many "I's".

"I refused to wait for images of slaughter and new mass graves before taking action," he said. In support of his policy on Libya, Obama said removing Gaddafi from power "would splinter the coalition and would be a step too far ... to be blunt, we went down the road eight years ago" (in Iraq) and noted that "regime change cost thousands of American and Iraqi lives and nearly a trillion dollars. That is something we cannot afford in Libya," Obama declared. "We should not be afraid to act."

Libya has put Obama to the test of his leadership. The President now faces more decisions in terms of the uprisings in Yemen, Syria, Bahrain and other possible upheavals in the Middle East and North Africa. But Obama has made it clear that he does not intend to intervene on behalf of other rebellions.

The Arab World is in turmoil and the strong men who have ruled for decades are running out of time.

The other world is transfixed on the surprise revolutions, and faces uncertainty on how to help to promote the goals of democracy and freedom without stepping on too many toes.

Throughout the region, the leaders and potentates are quaking in their boots. It's about time. The Arab people have had enough, and have obviously reached a point of no return.

No concessions. No reforms are enough. The people in the Arab World have suddenly awakened to their own power - at last.
(c) 2011 Helen Thomas is a columnist for the Falls Church News-Press. Among other books she is the author of Front Row At The White House: My Life and Times.

Protest marchers on the Houghton-Hancock bridge in Michigan's U.P.

The Snyder Takeover Of Michigan Towns And Schools
By James Donahue

Michigan’s new Republican Governor Rick Snyder and his GOP led pack of legislators have rushed to pass a controversial Emergency Management bill that goes into effect on May 1.

The bill, which stirred public protests in towns across the state this week, allows cash strapped communities and schools to seek emergency help from the state rather than turn to the courts for bankruptcy protection.

Snyder and the Republicans deserve to be drawing heat over this bill. Labor leaders see it as a union breaker since it gives a state appointed financial manager the power to break union contracts as a way of balancing community and school budgets.

We perceive the danger within this legislation reaching even farther than merely breaking the backs of local unions. It also allows for the dismissal of all elected boards and puts the control of the operation of towns and schools in corporate hands. The potentials for misuse of such power boggle the mind.

The Michigan Messenger recently stated: “Emergency managers appointed under this law certainly will not lack for options, they are given near-dictatorial power to dissolve contracts, sell off assets and even disband elected boards.”

State leaders say people don’t have to worry. They assure us that the emergency management program will only be used when town councils and school authorities request it. It is only a provision to assist when local government boards are in danger of plunging into deficit spending, which is a violation of state law.

The problem with this thinking is that the above description may apply to most communities and school districts in Michigan this winter. With extreme state and federal budget cuts the money funneling down to local government and school districts is drying up. At the same time, with property values plunging, the amount of property taxes getting paid into local government and school coffers also is declining. Yet the inflationary spiral continues and the cost of operating governments and schools is going up.

It struck us just how serious this situation could become in Michigan when we recently watched a local television news reporter’s interview with a region school superintendent. This man explained how his district is caught between local demands for a broad and quality educational program, opposition to giving up extracurricular activities and especially sports, is bound by teacher and school employee union contracts to meet salary demands, but cannot get voters to approve additional millage to help pay to keep everything operating in the black.

This superintendent said that because he can no longer generate a balanced budget he would be willing to turn his district over to the state for emergency management.

Are all of the schools and local governments meeting this kind of a cash crunch? If so, it might be possible that the state will be putting the operation of nearly all of its cities and school districts over to corporate management.

If this happens, local autonomy will be lost. People could lose control of their governments and schools. This smacks of a possible police state, where we all respond to the demands of a corporate board, the appointed emergency manager or possibly the whims of the governor.

The law gives the governor ultimate power of decision. It authorizes the suspension of regulatory statues or rules, the disbandment of elected councils and boards and even the seizure of private property “for the purpose of performing or facilitating emergency management.”

The ordinance grants the state broad powers to “direct all actions necessary and appropriate under the circumstances.” The governor may accomplish these things through executive orders, proclamations and directives “having the force and effect of law.” The ordinance requires that “all persons within this state shall conduct themselves and manage their affairs and property in ways that will reasonably assist and will not unreasonably detract from the ability of the state to cope with the effects of a disaster or an emergency.”

There is a written 28-day termination clause for such emergency controls, but they can easily be extended by a vote of the House and Senate. The financial crunch is so severe that once these agencies fall under state emergency management no one expects the issues to be resolved within 28 days.

As in other states throughout the nation where similar legislation is being quickly pushed through by Republican governors and legislators, public rallies are calling for a recall of the thugs involved in a rapid corporate takeover of our nation. In Michigan they want to recall Snyder and many of the Republican legislators that supported and voted for this bill. If the effort fails, Michigan residents may soon find themselves living in a Snyder enforced police state.
(c) 2011 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles. He currently produces daily articles for this web site.

Will The Dead Walk Again?
By Sam Harris

Christopher Hitchens and I recently debated Rabbi David Wolpe and Rabbi Bradley Artson on the question, “Is There an Afterlife.” (Video of the event can be viewed here.) Most modern Jews are rather noncommittal on the afterlife, and this queasiness was in evidence throughout our exchange. Hitch and I were expected to say that (1) we do not know what happens after death, or (2) we are reasonably sure nothing does—and we struck both of these notes by turns. The problem, however, was that our friends in the clergy were eager to assert (1) as well.

It seems to me that they needed to do more than this. If they couldn’t give us some assurance of an afterlife—indeed, if they couldn’t promise the bodily resurrection of the dead—they at least owed us an explanation of why they couldn’t. As I pointed out during our exchange, the resurrection of the dead is a cornerstone of the Jewish faith. Consider what the “great” Maimonides had to say on the subject:

There is neither Jewish faith nor any attachment to the Jewish faith, for an individual who does not believe in this. (Introduction to Perek Helek).

Concerning this, there has never been heard any disagreement in our nation, nor does it have any [allegorical] interpretation [other than its literal meaning]. Nor is it permissible to rely upon any individual who believes otherwise. (from his commentary to the Mishnah).

And the relevant Bible verses read:

Thy dead shall live, my dead bodies shall arise, awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust, for thy dew is as the dew of light, and the earth shall bring to life the shades. (Isaiah 26:19)

And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to reproaches and everlasting abhorrence. (Daniel 12:2).

People of faith tend to ignore the coming resurrection of the dead—perhaps because the idea is so obviously preposterous. And yet this is precisely the form of afterlife one must expect if one is to be a serious Jew, Christian, or Muslim. Devout Muslims may not yet doubt this, but most Jews and Christians have begun to waver. In fact, scarcely 20% of American Christians understand that they have been promised a physical afterlife. Most seem to believe that they will travel to heaven at the moment of death, leaving their corpses behind forever. But Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are in full accord on this point: God intends to do the humble work of reassembling our bodies on the Day of Judgment. The problem, of course, is that it is very difficult to imagine how even an omniscient and omnipotent God could accomplish such a feat.

Many people have heard that each cell in the human body is replaced every seven years. This is not quite true: Some cells, particularly in the brain, are never replaced—and other tissues renew themselves at different rates, ranging from 5 days for the lining of the gut to 15 years for some skeletal muscles. Nevertheless, it is true that there is nearly a complete turnover of our physical bodies every decade or so. We continually shed our constituent atoms into the world and acquire new ones in the process. Some of these elements eventually find their way in the bodies of other human beings. Parts of Alexander the Great, Edgar Allan Poe, and every other person you could name quite literally live on within us at this moment. How is God, in all His goodness and ingenuity, going to sort this out?

And at which stage of life will we be resurrected? If a man dies at age 90, hobbled by age, will he be condemned to live in this state for eternity? If a woman has lost a limb, will she be given a new one on the Day of Judgment? If a person dies as an infant, not yet able to speak, will he be resurrected in a tiny body but given adult faculties? St. Augustine—whom Hitch referred to in our debate as a “sadistic, North African, pseudo-intellectual”—purported to solve these many riddles for Christianity in his magnum opus, City of God. Apparently, the resurrected will look like themselves at age 30, which was the age of Jesus at the time of the crucifixion. Infants and children will be aged to appear as they would have looked, had they reached this sublime maturity in life. And those who make it to heaven will look better than they did on earth: The fat will be made thin. The skinny will be given a bit of muscle. All women will be extremely beautiful—but in such a way as to not inspire lust in the hearts of men. (Think Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.) To give you at taste of just how loony Augustine’s theology is, consider:

19. That all bodily blemishes which mar human beauty in this life shall be removed in the resurrection, the natural substance of the body remaining, but the quality and quantity of it being altered so as to produce beauty.

What am I to say now about the hair and nails? Once it is understood that no part of the body shall so perish as to produce deformity in the body, it is at the same time understood that such things as would have produced a deformity by their excessive proportions shall be added to the total bulk of the body, not to parts in which the beauty of the proportion would thus be marred. Just as if, after making a vessel of clay, one wished to make it over again of the same clay, it would not be necessary that the same portion of the clay which had formed the handle should again form the new handle, or that what had formed the bottom should again do so, but only that the whole clay should go to make up the whole new vessel, and that no part of it should be left unused. “Wherefore, if the hair that has been cropped and the nails that have been cut would cause a deformity were they to be restored to their places, they shall not be restored; and yet no one will lose these parts at the resurrection, for they shall be changed into the same flesh, their substance being so altered as to preserve the proportion of the various parts of the body. However, what our Lord said, “Not a hair of your head shall perish,” might more suitably be interpreted of the number, and not of the length of the hairs, as He elsewhere says, “The hairs of your head are all numbered.” (City of God, book XXII)

That Augustine could furnish answers to such questions is impressive. It also shows that the man was either utterly dishonest or insane. How did he know any of these things? He didn’t, of course. Like all such theology, Augustine’s account of the Resurrection was simply a Dark Age confabulation. In other words, it was bullshit—a concept that has since been given a much need technical analysis by the philosopher Harry Frankfurt in his wonderful essay, On Bullshit. What is the difference between bullshit and lies? Bullshitting often entails lying, of course, but Frankfurt shows that they are not the same. When a person is merely lying, he must still keep the truth in view. He must at least give the appearance of intellectual honesty. The bullshitter knows no such constraints. He takes no notice of the truth, or of the reasonable expectations others might have about it. The bullshitter just keeps talking.

And that is what religion has done: It has just kept talking, down through the ages, in utter defiance of common sense.
(c) 2011 Sam Harris is the author of "The End Of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason" and "Letter to a Christian Nation" and is the co-founder of The Reason Project, which promotes scientific knowledge and secular values. Follow Sam Harris on Twitter.

Eternal Punishment
Obama Leads Third Century of Imperial Revenge on Haiti
By Chris Floyd

The blood and thunder (or is it thud and blunder?) of the American-led intervention in Libya has obscured one of the more revealing episodes of our times -- especially for those many millions who still cling to the idea that Barack Obama is somehow an improvement, however slight, over the ruthless, lawless, corroded souls who preceded him in the post of imperial manager.

We speak of course of the American rigging of the election in battered, helpless Haiti -- a brazen effort to disenfranchise the majority of the population and ensure the election of a vicious -- but acquiescent -- client to the presidency. This sordid episode comes complete with a personal intervention by the Nobel Peace Laureate himself to try to continue the exile and persecution of the democratically elected Haitian president overthrown by George W. Bush in a brutal coup.

Even as he was scheming with the CIA to put covert American "boots on the ground" in the Libyan civil war, Obama and his dream team have been maneuvering like mad to put one of a pair of right-wing fanatics into office in Haiti while excluding any other candidates from the running -- including those from Haiti's biggest political party. Obama also personally called South African President Jacob Zuma to ask to keep holding Bush-ousted former Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Africa and prevent him from returning to his native land before the election.

With the sublime hypocrisy that has become the hallmark of this most mendacious militarist administration, an Obama spokesman said the Peace Laureate opposed Aristide's return due to "deep concerns that President Aristide's return to Haiti in the closing days of the election could be destabilising," adding that the defender of freedom and democracy believes "that the Haitian people deserve the chance to choose their government through peaceful, free and fair elections."

Even from Team Obama, this is pretty rich. After blocking the largest political party from running, then forcing a run-off between two former supporters of vicious coups, Obama said he didn't want Haiti's democratically elected former leader to return to the homeland he was trundled from at gunpoint by Bushist goons in order to give the Haitian people "a free, fair election."

The result has been a record-low turnout and run-off so riddled with corruption that it may be weeks before one of America's hand-picked stooges is declared the winner. Meanwhile, Aristide did return -- Zuma told Obama plainly that Astride was a free man, he had a passport from his home country, and "I cannot hold him hostage." He did not interfere with the election, he endorsed no candidate. Most of his supporter simply boycotted the election, because of its blatant illegitimacy.

So this is what Barack Obama and his partner in imperialism, the globe-trotting Hillary Clinton, have been up to on the side while they are killing children in Libya and bluntly declaring to Congress that Obama will not acknowledge any restriction on his imperial will to wage war where whenever and wherever he damn well pleases. As John Caruso notes in a blistering post:

In an episode that makes the importance of democracy subversion in Haiti eminently clear, even while the popular uprising in Egypt was peaking, our Secretary of State was dispatched to Haiti to ensure that Michel "Sweet Micky" Martelly advanced to the presidential runoff election rather than Jude Celestin (she flew there literally right after she'd finished putting out the administration's Egypt spin on the Sunday morning talk shows). So just who is this U.S. favorite?

Seven months after his inauguration, President Aristide was overthrown by a US-backed neo-Duvalierist military putsch on 30 September 1991. "Sweet Micky" was one of the principal cheerleaders of this three-year coup, which claimed some 5,000 lives, according to Amnesty International.

In the years following Aristide's restoration to power in 1994, Martelly became obsessed with hatred for the man. In a video from not too long ago, which can be seen on YouTube, the candidate threatens a patron in a bar where he has performed. "All those shits were Aristide's faggots," he says. "I would kill Aristide to stick a dick up your ass."

You can certainly see why Clinton made the trip. And if the Obama administration doesn't manage to get this homicidal homophobic Duvalierist into power, they'll still end up with the Secretary General of the right-wing RDNP party (and wife of a former right-wing "president" of Haiti). Win-win!

...As I've written before, anyone who feared that our first black president might not be sympathetic to the need to smash the democratic aspirations of the first free black nation in the hemisphere can rest assured: Obama will never let race—or anything else—stop him from doing the empire's dirty work.

No, indeed. Doing the empire's dirty work is the Obama Administration's raison d'etre. Caruso helpfully points us to this incandescent post by Linh Dinh:

As firemen and cops are being fired across America, as teachers are being told they must accept austerity measures, the country is broke, after all, as public radio and television, with their supposed liberal bias, lay on the chopping block, as more homeless sprawl and tent cities spring up, as casinos, a sure sign of desperation, mushroom, the United States has entered another costly war without any fanfare or discussion whatsoever. Obama didn’t have to persuade anybody, no sending a Secretary of State to make a fool of herself in front of the United Nations’ General Assembly, no congressional vote, which, last time I checked, was supposed to be a Constitutional requirement, no media blitz. No lies even. He simply ordered more than a hundred Tomahawk missiles, so far, to rain down on Libya, with many more to come. In any case, this it not even a war, but merely a “kinetic military action,” according to an Obama aide. Such straight faced butchery of language, even as one butchers real people, shows that the United States has entered a deep psychotic state. Upon winning the Nobel Peace Prize, Obama himself declared, “I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence.” ... The President of the United States is a traveling salesman for the military industrial complex. In 2010, Obama came to India to visit the Mumbai home of Gandhi, a hero of his, someone he would most like to dine with, very touching, before announcing a mega arms deal of GE fighter jet engines and Boeing military transport planes. Now, as he bombs Libya, Obama tries to sell F-18 fighter planes to Brazil. According to an aide, “President Obama underscored that the F-18 is the best plane on offer” as he made a “strong pitch” to Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.

The President of the United States is also a spokesman for murderers and crooks. He doesn’t rule, but obeys. His main job is to deceive the masses as he serves his enablers. He can say anything at any time, and means none of it. The President of the United States is the world’s most visible actor, in short. Campaigning in 2007, Obama said, “If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain when I’m in the White House, I’ll put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself. I’ll walk on that picket line with you as president of the United States.” Quite a performance. This year, as Wisconsin teachers fight to retain their right to collectively bargain, Obama has said absolutely nothing. One would have to be a fool to think he would join them. ...

As Obama fizzles out, as he loses legitimacy, the power brokers will come up with other figureheads and slogans for American liberals and conservatives to become passionate about. These candidates will jabber, jab and insult each other. As in professional wrestling, the battle will appear fierce. Barack, meanwhile, can look forward to a lucrative memoir and six-figure speaking fees. Even that man of malapropisms and snafus, the much despised Bush, is getting $150,000 each time he opens his mouth these days.

In any case, the latest draconian farce in Haiti is only par for a savage course that Obama and Clinton have been carrying out from the get-go, standing on the shoulders of that giant statesman, Dubya. As I noted here almost two years ago (again following in Caruso's footsteps):

Haiti has been a cursed nation throughout its existence. As I noted in a piece in 2004:

Exactly two hundred years ago, Haitian slaves overthrew their French masters -- the first successful national slave revolt in history. What Spartacus dreamed of doing, the Haitian slaves actually accomplished. It was a tremendous achievement -- and the white West has never forgiven them for it.

In order to win international recognition for their new country, Haiti was forced to pay "reparations" to the slaveowners - a crushing burden of debt they were still paying off at the end of the 19th century. The United States, which refused to recognize the country for more than 60 years, invaded Haiti in 1915, primarily to open it up to "foreign ownership of local concerns." After 19 years of occupation, the Americans backed a series of bloodthirsty dictatorships to protect these "foreign owners." And still it goes on.

It certainly does -- even under the "enlightened" foreign policy of Barack Obama. As John Caruso reports (in separate pieces in A Distant Ocean and A Tiny Revolution), Obama and his "superstar" secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, are loudly championing the latest egregious, brutal farce that Washington and the West have foisted upon the uppity natives of Haiti.

Senatorial elections held this month by the government imposed on Haiti after the U.S.-backed coup of 2004 (more on this below) produced a turnout of less than 10 percent of eligible voters: a result that mocks any notion of a popular, legitimate democracy. But this is not because the Haitians are so lazy and disinterested that they couldn't be bothered to vote. Nor that they are so satisfied with the benevolent, paternal care of their American-appointed masters that they saw no need to let silly electoral contests trouble their bucolic life.

No, the 90 percent refusal rate was in fact a massive protest action, driven chiefly by the fact that the American-backed government would not allow the most popular party -- the party of the government ousted by the 2004 coup -- to run a slate of candidates in the election. By clerkly hook and bureaucratic crook, Haiti's election overseers banned the Fanmi Lavalas slate back in February. At that moment, the April elections became a dead letter, a meaningless farce -- yet another cruel joke played on the people of Haiti.

Another April, another joke -- and a third century of imperial revenge goes on.

NOTE: For more background, especially on the 2004 coup that led to the current crisis, see "Operation Continuing Sweatshop." Below is an excerpt:

This week, the Bush administration added another violent "regime change" notch to its gunbelt, toppling the democratically elected president of Haiti and replacing him with an unelected gang of convicted killers, death squad leaders, militarists, narcoterrorists, CIA operatives, hereditary elitists and corporate predators - a bit like Team Bush itself, in other words.

Although the Haiti coup was widely portrayed as an irresistible upsurge of popular discontent, it was of course the result of years of hard work by Bush's dedicated corrupters of democracy, as William Bowles of Information Clearinghouse reports. Bushist bagmen funded the political opposition to President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, smuggled guns to exiled Haitian warlords, and carried out a relentless strangulation of the county, cutting off long-promised financial and structural aid to one of the poorest nations on earth until food prices were soaring, unemployment spiked to 70 percent, and the broken-backed government lost control of society to armed gangs of criminals, fanatics and the merely desperate.

Meanwhile, Haiti was forced to pay $2 million a month on debts run up by the murderous U.S.-backed dictatorships that had ruled the island since the American military occupation of 1915-1934. The Haitian press, controlled by cronies of the former dictators, supplied the lazy American media with reams of stories about Aristide's "tyranny." These were swiftly followed by thunderous denunciations from the Bush Regime. Wholesale murders of government officials and Aristide partisans by Bush-backed opposition gangs were, of course, demurely ignored -- as were Aristide's own condemnations of violence by his supporters. The old reliable "madman" trope was also brought out for an airing, with constant press drumbeats about Aristide's "mental instability." (America's designated targets are always "deranged monsters," although sometimes, when they prove politically useful again, they miraculously recover their wits, like Libya's Moamar Gadafy.)

[Note 2001: Although, as we can see today, our good reformed monsters always relapse -- when it suits the imperial agenda.]

[Aristide's] real crime, of course, was not the Florida-style election follies or the reported "tyranny." ... No, Aristide did something far worse than stuffing ballots or killing people -- he tried to raise the minimum wage, to the princely sum of two dollars a day. This move outraged the American corporations -- and their local lackeys -- who have for generations used Haiti as a pool of dirt-cheap labor and sky-high profits. It was the last straw for the elitist factions, one of which is actually led by an American citizen and former Reagan-Bush appointee, manufacturing tycoon Andy Apaid.

Apaid was the point man for the rapacious Reagan-Bush "market reform" drive in Haiti. Of course, "reform," in the degraded jargon of the privateers, means exposing even the very means of survival and sustenance to the ravages of powerful corporate interests. For example, the Reagan-Bush plan forced Haiti to lift import tariffs on rice, which had long been a locally-grown staple. Then they flooded Haiti with heavily subsidized American rice, destroying the local market and throwing thousands of self-sufficient farmers out of work. With a now-captive market, the American companies jacked up their prices, spreading ruin and hunger throughout Haitian society.

The jobless farmers provided new fodder for the factories of Apaid and his cronies. Reagan and Bush chipped in by abolishing taxes for American corporations who set up Haitian sweatshops. The result was a precipitous drop in wages -- and life expectancy. Aristide's first election in 1990 threatened these cozy arrangements, so he was duly ejected by a military coup, with Bush I's not-so-tacit connivance.

Bill Clinton restored Aristide to office in 1994 -- but only after forcing him to agree to, yes, "market reforms." In fact, it was Clinton, the privateers' pal, who instigated the post-election aid embargo that Bush II used to such devastating effect. Aristide's chief failing as a leader was his attempt to live up to this bipartisan blackmail. As in every other nation that's come under the IMF whip, Haiti's already-fragile economy collapsed. Bush family retainers like Apaid then shoved the country into total chaos, making it easy prey for the warlords whom Bush operatives -- many of them old Iran-Contra hands -- supplied with arms through the Dominican Republic, the Boston Globe reports.

When Aristide called for an international force to stem the terrorist attack, Bush refused. When Aristide agreed to a deal, brokered by his fellow leaders in the Caribbean, that would have effectively ceded power to the Bush-funded opposition but at least preserved the lineaments of Haitian democracy -- Apaid and the boys turned down the offer, with the blessing of their paymasters in Washington, who suddenly claimed they had no influence over their recalcitrant hired hands. When Aristide asked for American protection as the rebel gang closed in on the capital, Bush refused.

Instead, Aristide was told by armed American gunmen that if he didn't resign, he would be left to die at the hands of the rebels. Then he was bundled onto a waiting plane and dumped in the middle of Africa. Within hours, the Bush-backed terrorists were marching openly through Port-au-Prince, executing Aristide's supporters.

Guess they won't be asking for two dollars a day now, eh? Mission accomplished!

This policy is what the Nobel Peace Laureate -- the first African-American president in history -- is now perpetuating in the only nation to liberate itself from slavery. But of course, the most important thing is not the dispossessed in Haiti, nor the innocent people in Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan being killed, day after day, by the Laureate's bombs, bullets and assassins. No, the main thing is -- he's not John McCain! And we must put aside these trifles, these heaps of corpses, and rally around the prez to "defend our gains and regroup for a progressive counter-offensive in 2012!" The best is yet to come!
(c) 2011 Chris Floyd

Despicable Lies, Delusional Recovery
By Joel S. Hirschhorn

The US government lies. Sure looks like most Americans gobble up false and misleading information that is nothing less than political propaganda. Take the highly hyped unemployment number for March, 2011 of 8.8 percent that moved like a tornado through the media and was praised by Democrat politicians and the White House. As if that number is accurate, as if it fairly describes unemployment. It does not. What is called by experts, such as Leo Hindery, as the real unemployment number was actually 17.7 percent, which is remarkably higher. To appreciate that much higher number is to throw a large bucket of cold water on all the political spin on the economic recovery.

The official government unemployment figure has been carefully crafted to intentionally underestimate actual unemployment. The way the data are collected through a survey of homes intentionally ignores a number of unemployed and underemployed Americans. The latter includes those who have stopped looking for a job because it has become crystal clear to them that there are no jobs for them, as well as those working part-time when what they really want is a good full time job.

Similarly, Gallup polling which takes into account these other factors found the total number for March up slightly to 20.3 percent of the US workforce.

As if this sham game is not bad enough, what the government also does not reveal with hard information is that most new jobs being created now are low wage ones often without any good benefits. Another reason to see how delusional the economic recovery is.

To get back to a low unemployment level characteristic of a good economy could take up to ten years. The federal lie includes 13.5 million unemployed workers but the real number is more like 28.2 million. That means a lot more hardship and suffering in the fictional recovery than the government wants the public to know about. The number of real unemployed workers has increased by 11.5 million since the start of the Great Recession, and just since December 2008 by 3.7 million.

The economy must add 13 million private sector jobs over the next three years-360,000 each month-to bring unemployment down to 6 percent. There is no possible or imaginable way for this to happen. So real unemployment will remain terrible.

All this plus the fact that real wages have stagnated for many years means that the middle class in the US is in dire shape. The most important implication of this is that there is no good reason to think that the deeply depressed housing market stands any chance of recovery for many years. There are not enough people with enough money and financial security to buy even low priced houses. There simply are too many empty houses and even more coming from millions more foreclosures. Without a healthy housing market it is inconceivable that a true economic recovery and meaningful growth are possible.

In other words, contrary to all the blabber from politicians and pundits, the current recovery is largely delusional as far as the vast majority of Americans are concerned. Of course, the rich Upper Class is doing just fine. In 2009, the richest 5 percent claimed 63.5 percent of the nation’s wealth. The richest 20 percent of Americans own 84 percent of all wealth. The overwhelming majority, the bottom 80 percent, collectively hold just 12.8 percent. As the Economic Policy Institute has reported, the richest 10 percent of Americans received an unconscionable 100 percent of the average income growth in the years 2000 to 2007, the most recent extended period of economic expansion.

Odds are that you, dear reader, are in the bottom 80 percent, which means you should have the good sense to see how delusional the current economic recovery is and that you should have little hope for doing well in the future. Remember also that state and local governments facing budget shortfalls will surely layoff many more people and those congressional attempts to address the horrendous national debt and deficit will surely mean cuts in many government programs that many in the bottom 80 percent depend on.

Companies will continue to make huge profits, pay little in taxes and continue to manipulate government policies through lobbying and campaign contributions so that they keep getting away with murder of the middle class. Corporate bigwigs and Wall Street fat cats will continue to grab incredible amounts of money. And hardly any of the corporate crooks that have screwed most of us will get prosecuted or jailed, as they should. Nor will there be any true, badly needed reforms of the financial sector. Banks will continue to financially rape Americans.

Lies will keep coming from both Democrats and Republicans in Congress as well as President Obama. Do you want to believe them? Or can you accept the painful truth about our bleak national condition and stop voting for lying politicians that keep the corporate dictatorship in power?
(c) 2011 Joel S. Hirschhorn observed our corrupt federal government firsthand as a senior official with the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the National Governors Association and is the author of Delusional Democracy - Fixing the Republic Without Overthrowing the Government. To discuss issues write the author. The author has a Ph.D. in Materials Engineering and was formerly a full professor of metallurgical engineering at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

The Truth, Still Inconvenient
By Paul Krugman

So the joke begins like this: An economist, a lawyer and a professor of marketing walk into a room. What’s the punch line? They were three of the five “expert witnesses” Republicans called for last week’s Congressional hearing on climate science.

But the joke actually ended up being on the Republicans, when one of the two actual scientists they invited to testify went off script.

Prof. Richard Muller of Berkeley, a physicist who has gotten into the climate skeptic game, has been leading the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, an effort partially financed by none other than the Koch foundation. And climate deniers — who claim that researchers at NASA and other groups analyzing climate trends have massaged and distorted the data — had been hoping that the Berkeley project would conclude that global warming is a myth.

Instead, however, Professor Muller reported that his group’s preliminary results find a global warming trend “very similar to that reported by the prior groups.”

The deniers’ response was both predictable and revealing; more on that shortly. But first, let’s talk a bit more about that list of witnesses, which raised the same question I and others have had about a number of committee hearings held since the G.O.P. retook control of the House — namely, where do they find these people?

My favorite, still, was Ron Paul’s first hearing on monetary policy, in which the lead witness was someone best known for writing a book denouncing Abraham Lincoln as a “horrific tyrant” — and for advocating a new secessionist movement as the appropriate response to the “new American fascialistic state.”

The ringers (i.e., nonscientists) at last week’s hearing weren’t of quite the same caliber, but their prepared testimony still had some memorable moments. One was the lawyer’s declaration that the E.P.A. can’t declare that greenhouse gas emissions are a health threat, because these emissions have been rising for a century, but public health has improved over the same period. I am not making this up.

Oh, and the marketing professor, in providing a list of past cases of “analogies to the alarm over dangerous manmade global warming” — presumably intended to show why we should ignore the worriers — included problems such as acid rain and the ozone hole that have been contained precisely thanks to environmental regulation.

But back to Professor Muller. His climate-skeptic credentials are pretty strong: he has denounced both Al Gore and my colleague Tom Friedman as “exaggerators,” and he has participated in a number of attacks on climate research, including the witch hunt over innocuous e-mails from British climate researchers. Not surprisingly, then, climate deniers had high hopes that his new project would support their case.

You can guess what happened when those hopes were dashed.

Just a few weeks ago Anthony Watts, who runs a prominent climate denialist Web site, praised the Berkeley project and piously declared himself “prepared to accept whatever result they produce, even if it proves my premise wrong.” But never mind: once he knew that Professor Muller was going to present those preliminary results, Mr. Watts dismissed the hearing as “post normal science political theater.” And one of the regular contributors on his site dismissed Professor Muller as “a man driven by a very serious agenda.”

Of course, it’s actually the climate deniers who have the agenda, and nobody who’s been following this discussion believed for a moment that they would accept a result confirming global warming. But it’s worth stepping back for a moment and thinking not just about the science here, but about the morality.

For years now, large numbers of prominent scientists have been warning, with increasing urgency, that if we continue with business as usual, the results will be very bad, perhaps catastrophic. They could be wrong. But if you’re going to assert that they are in fact wrong, you have a moral responsibility to approach the topic with high seriousness and an open mind. After all, if the scientists are right, you’ll be doing a great deal of damage.

But what we had, instead of high seriousness, was a farce: a supposedly crucial hearing stacked with people who had no business being there and instant ostracism for a climate skeptic who was actually willing to change his mind in the face of evidence. As I said, no surprise: as Upton Sinclair pointed out long ago, it’s difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.

But it’s terrifying to realize that this kind of cynical careerism — for that’s what it is — has probably ensured that we won’t do anything about climate change until catastrophe is already upon us.

So on second thought, I was wrong when I said that the joke was on the G.O.P.; actually, the joke is on the human race. 
(c) 2011 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

"The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason."
~~~ Benjamin Franklin ~ Poor Richard's Almanack, 1758 ~~~

A woman who sympathizes with people who have been
foreclosed on is arrested outside a Chase bank in Los Angeles,
where she and other protesters gathered to express themselves.

This Is What Resistance Looks Like
By Chris Hedges

The phrase consent of the governed has been turned into a cruel joke. There is no way to vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs. Civil Disobedience is the only tool we have left.

We will not halt the laying off of teachers and other public employees, the slashing of unemployment benefits, the closing of public libraries, the reduction of student loans, the foreclosures, the gutting of public education and early childhood programs or the dismantling of basic social services such as heating assistance for the elderly until we start to carry out sustained acts of civil disobedience against the financial institutions responsible for our debacle. The banks and Wall Street, which have erected the corporate state to serve their interests at our expense, caused the financial crisis. The bankers and their lobbyists crafted tax havens that account for up to $1 trillion in tax revenue lost every decade. They rewrote tax laws so the nation’s most profitable corporations, including Bank of America, could avoid paying any federal taxes. They engaged in massive fraud and deception that wiped out an estimated $40 trillion in global wealth. The banks are the ones that should be made to pay for the financial collapse. Not us. And for this reason at 11 a.m. April 15 I will join protesters in Union Square in New York City in front of the Bank of America.

“The political process no longer works,” Kevin Zeese, the director of Prosperity Agenda and one of the organizers of the April 15 event, told me. “The economy is controlled by a handful of economic elites. The necessities of most Americans are no longer being met. The only way to change this is to shift the power to a culture of resistance. This will be the first in a series of events we will organize to help give people control of their economic and political life.”

If you are among the one in six workers in this country who does not have a job, if you are among the some 6 million people who have lost their homes to repossessions, if you are among the many hundreds of thousands of people who went bankrupt last year because they could not pay their medical bills or if you have simply had enough of the current kleptocracy, join us in Union Square Park for the “Sounds of Resistance Concert,” which will feature political hip-hop/rock powerhouse Junkyard Empire with Broadcast Live and Sketch the Cataclysm. The organizers have set up a website, and there’s more information on their Facebook page.

We will picket the Union Square branch of Bank of America, one of the major financial institutions responsible for the theft of roughly $17 trillion in wages, savings and retirement benefits taken from ordinary citizens. We will build a miniature cardboard community that will include what we should have—good public libraries, free health clinics, banks that have been converted into credit unions, free and well-funded public schools and public universities, and shuttered recruiting centers (young men and women should not have to go to Iraq and Afghanistan as soldiers or Marines to find a job with health care). We will call for an end to all foreclosures and bank repossessions, a breaking up of the huge banking monopolies, a fair system of taxation and a government that is accountable to the people.

The 10 major banks, which control 60 percent of the economy, determine how our legislative bills are written, how our courts rule, how we frame our public debates on the airwaves, who is elected to office and how we are governed. The phrase consent of the governed has been turned by our two major political parties into a cruel joke. There is no way to vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs. And the faster these banks and huge corporations are broken up and regulated the sooner we will become free.

Bank of America is one of the worst. It did not pay any federal taxes last year or the year before. It is currently one of the most aggressive banks in seizing homes, at times using private security teams that carry out brutal home invasions to toss families into the street. The bank refuses to lend small business people and consumers the billions in government money it was handed. It has returned with a vengeance to the flagrant criminal activity and speculation that created the meltdown, behavior made possible because the government refuses to institute effective sanctions or control from regulators, legislators or the courts. Bank of America, like most of the banks that peddled garbage to small shareholders, routinely hid its massive losses through a creative accounting device it called “repurchase agreements.” It used these “repos” during the financial collapse to temporarily erase losses from the books by transferring toxic debt to dummy firms before public filings had to be made. It is called fraud. And Bank of America is very good at it.

US Uncut, which will be involved in the April 15 demonstration in New York, carried out 50 protests outside Bank of America branches and offices on Feb. 26. UK Uncut, a British version of the group, produced this video guide to launching a “bail-in” in your neighborhood.

Civil disobedience, such as that described in the bail-in video or the upcoming protest in Union Square, is the only tool we have left. A fourth of the country’s largest corporations—including General Electric, ExxonMobil and Bank of America—paid no federal income taxes in 2010. But at the same time these corporations operate as if they have a divine right to hundreds of billions in taxpayer subsidies. Bank of America was handed $45 billion—that is billion with a B—in federal bailout funds. Bank of America takes this money—money you and I paid in taxes—and hides it along with its profits in some 115 offshore accounts to avoid paying taxes. One assumes the bank’s legions of accountants are busy making sure the corporation will not pay federal taxes again this year. Imagine if you or I tried that.

“If Bank of America paid their fair share of taxes, planned cuts of $1.7 billion in early childhood education, including Head Start & Title 1, would not be needed,” Zeese pointed out. “Bank of America avoids paying taxes by using subsidiaries in offshore tax havens. To eliminate their taxes, they reinvest proceeds overseas, instead of bringing the dollars home, thereby undermining the U.S. economy and avoiding federal taxes. Big Finance, like Bank of America, contributes to record deficits that are resulting in massive cuts to basic services in federal and state governments.”

The big banks and corporations are parasites. They greedily devour the entrails of the nation in a quest for profit, thrusting us all into serfdom and polluting and poisoning the ecosystem that sustains the human species. They have gobbled up more than a trillion dollars from the Department of Treasury and the Federal Reserve and created tiny enclaves of wealth and privilege where corporate managers replicate the decadence of the Forbidden City and Versailles. Those outside the gates, however, struggle to find work and watch helplessly as food and commodity prices rocket upward. The owners of one out of seven houses are now behind on their mortgage payments. In 2010 there were 3.8 million foreclosure filings and bank repossessions topped 2.8 million, a 2 percent increase over 2009 and a 23 percent increase over 2008. This record looks set to be broken in 2011. And no one in the Congress, the Obama White House, the courts or the press, all beholden to corporate money, will step in to stop or denounce the assault on families. Our ruling elite, including Barack Obama, are courtiers, shameless hedonists of power, who kneel before Wall Street and daily sell us out. The top corporate plutocrats are pulling down $900,000 an hour while one in four children depends on food stamps to eat.

We don’t need leaders. We don’t need directives from above. We don’t need formal organizations. We don’t need to waste our time appealing to the Democratic Party or writing letters to the editor. We don’t need more diatribes on the Internet. We need to physically get into the public square and create a mass movement. We need you and a few of your neighbors to begin it. We need you to walk down to your Bank of America branch and protest. We need you to come to Union Square. And once you do that you begin to create a force these elites always desperately try to snuff out—resistance.
(c) 2011 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. He is the author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. His latest book is, "“Death Of The Liberal Class.”

When Pigs Rule
By David Michael Green

Imagine you were a pig.

As a pig, you would care about nothing besides getting fat.

If you could get fat by eating the food shares of other animals, you would readily do so.

If you could get fat by eating up your own little piglet children’s future, you would do so.

If you could get fat by eating your whole farm into ruin, you’d munch right through it without another thought.

Indeed, if you could get fat by scarfing up so much food that you literally imperiled the entire planet, you would not only do so, but you would criticize and mock those who had the temerity merely to point out the consequences of your actions and thereby interfere with the conquering of your global comestible empire.

For those of you, like me, who too often find themselves aghast at the state of our nation, jaws dropped to the floor in wonder at the astonishing capacity for American self-destruction, befuddled by the acquiescence of the victims of this pillaging, there’s your answer: If you can imagine what it would be like to be an amoral, sociopathic, singularly focused, devoted consumption machine – that is, to be a pig – then you get it. And then you get our America, too.

I can’t tell you how it pains me to write these words.

It pains me in two senses, in fact. First, as a matter of personal character and conduct. I think it’s fair to say that the people who know me would report that I am a fairly gentle soul. I don’t prefer conflict, I almost never seek it out, and I will even sometimes avoid it when it’s stuck in my face – at least under certain conditions and in the short term. I’m not, that is, the kind of person who feels at all comfortable referring to other people as pigs.

But I do so because I believe emphatically that it needs to be done. I do so because of the second sense of how I am pained – for my country and for the world. I do so, with regret for having to, and yet with even more regret that we all aren’t doing the same thing, and doing it with a fierce urgency. For, is there any question of what has become of us? Is there any question that the pigs now rule?

No, there is not. Indeed, the only serious question is why we are so severely detached from reality that this society is really not even conscious of what has happened in any serious respect. But happened it has.

The top one percent in this country used to, before the regressive onslaught that began with the Reagan election thirty years ago, account for twelve percent of all national income. Today, they pull down more than twice that, 25 percent. They used to control a third of all national wealth. Today they control forty percent. That’s just one percent of us, one person out of one hundred.

How could this have happened? Is it possible, for example, that the wealthiest amongst us are working twice as hard as they used to? Is it possible that all the rest of us have grown vastly lazier over the course of this past generation? Yeah, it’s possible. Just like it’s possible that Newt Gingrich is not a sick sociopath, or that Sarah Palin speaks for Jesus. It’s possible, in the technical sense of the term, it’s just – how can one say this gently? – um, not real, real probable.

What is far more likely – and, indeed, what is precisely the case – is that the rich bought off lawmakers to make laws that favored their interests. At precisely the same time that the rich got infinitely richer and the rest of us got steadily poorer, darned if a whole boatload of regressive-backed public policies didn’t change in exactly the way that would lead to just that outcome. Tax burdens have been shifted from rich to poor. Services provided by the government have been slashed. Trade policies that undermine the bargaining power of American workers have been adopted. Labor relations policies have decimated unions, such that where a third of workers used to be represented by organized labor, now about seven percent are. Privatization has given away publicly-owned assets. The well-connected have written into law gigantic subsidies, creating corporate welfare on a massive scale. Wars based on lies have enriched the few while saddling the rest of us with trillions of dollars in debt. Deregulation followed by taxpayer-financed bailouts have allowed any plugged-in economic actor to do just about anything, including crash the global economy in the raw pursuit of unfathomable greed, and never pay a penalty for their actions.

If you were asked to predict, thirty years ago, just what the adoption of such policies would produce, the American political economy of 2011 is exactly what you would have predicted. It’s a complete no-brainer. Anyone could guess the effect from this cause. Throw a rock at a window. Toss a match on gasoline. Adopt these policies. You know what will happen.

People can think, if they want, that it’s all a random coincidence that all these policy changes just happened to happen at exactly the same time the rich were growing vastly richer and the rest of us have been struggling. I’m sure many do think that way, and that is precisely why so many fools also play their state lottos. But that don’t make it so.

Incomes for the top one percent have risen 18 percent over the last decade, while for all the rest of us, they’ve been falling. The United States today has a Gini coefficient – the standard measure of national income inequality, where zero is perfectly equal and 100 is perfectly unequal – clocking in at 40.8. That means we’re tied with Turkmenistan and Ghana when it comes to the inequality of the distribution of wealth in America. I’m not shitting you about this. These are real numbers. The good news is that we came in (just slightly) ahead of Senegal and Cambodia. Whew! There’s a relief! We wouldn’t want to be like some sort of banana republic or anything, would we? The bad news? There is less income inequality today in Mali, Malawi and Burkina Faso than in the good old US of A. Oh, and about 70 other countries in the world (out of about 195 or so, total), too. How’s that for your American exceptionalism, eh pal?!

I don’t know if the rich are working twice as much as than they used to (just a wild hunch, but I suspect not), but what I do know is that the non-rich are working a lot more than they used to. It takes two incomes today to support a middle class family that could be supported by one back when “Leave It To Beaver” was on the air. And many people are working more than forty hours a week – indeed, a lot of people, working a lot more hours – in an increasingly desperate attempt to stay one step ahead of their creditors, one step ahead of medical insolvency, one step ahead of (the new, draconian) bankruptcy laws, one step ahead of foreclosure, one step ahead of eviction, one step ahead of living out of their cars, presuming they’re lucky enough to be one step ahead of repossession, and one step ahead of all the damage these horrible strains do to marriages and families.

In short, there is a massive, protracted, patent crime taking place, right before our eyes. It’s the crime of the millennium, a crime that literally produces death and destruction on a grand scale, a crime with victims beyond count.

And no one in our political class is talking about it.

Certainly not the worst offenders on the right. We’d be shocked were that otherwise. Indeed, almost all of what defines them as the worst offenders on the right is precisely this issue. Don’t kid yourself, brother. John Boehner doesn’t give a shit about aborted fetuses. Dick “Dick” Cheney couldn’t care less about WMD. George W. Bush is no more a genuine Christian than I am, and I assure you that’s the last thing I am. No. It’s all about the freakin’ money, man.

But neither are the so-called liberals of the Democratic Party talking about this issue, nor our socialist president, who, according to Rush “Dick” Limbauchery and Glenn “Dick” Pecker, et al., is reportedly seeking to sneak up on poor unsuspecting America, in a foreigner sort of way, and drive it into the ruin that has befallen Western Europe. (Don’t worry that you can’t actually see that ruin in actual Western European places like Germany or France or Sweden. Our friends on the right are glad to assure us that it’s there – it’s just cleverly hiding under the peace, prosperity, extended longevity, world-class healthcare, and humane standards of living people have long enjoyed in these countries.)

No one in our political class is saying these things. You almost literally have to resort to comics like Bill Maher and Jon Stewart to hear this most urgent and fundamental critique. And, really, how screwed is your country when only the comedians tell the truth?

I am willing to use ugly words and to name names, not because I want to – far from it – but because I am sickened by the fact and the scale of this crime. The wonder is not that jerks like me are throwing around inflammatory terms. The wonder is that lots more people aren’t doing so. But the real wonder is that we’ve stood by, and continue to do so – watching this crime unfold, watching it crush our friends, family and neighbors, watching it harm us and our children personally, watching it produce the first generation of Americans to be worse off than their parents. And there we are just staring in silence.

Silence is far too generous a label of contempt to apply to the Democratic Party. We are well past the point of acknowledging their complete complicity in the crime. Hardly anyone noticed in the 1990s, when New Democrats (a euphemism for old Republicans) stopped talking about the plight of the poor, even before Bill Clinton finished the job by killing welfare, reaching into the mouths of America’s impoverished and removing the food that was once there, all for purposes of guaranteeing his second term as president (and, boy wasn’t it worth it, too – look at all he achieved!). If you weren’t alive in the 1960s and 70s, you might never have realized that there was once a party in America that was rather seriously devoted to fighting a war against poverty. By the 1990s the poor became an embarrassment, and among slick New Democrats in Washington only gauche political retreads continued to remind us of their existence and plight, becoming every bit as welcome among the elites as Grandpa’s incessant flatulence at a formal dinner party.

Ah, but that was the golden age, when only the poor were forgotten about. And who cares about them, anyhow? Nowadays we’re not noticing as ‘the party of the people’ gives the same treatment to the middle class as well. I’m sorry, have I fallen through the looking glass, or are we not in the middle of an economic crisis of vast proportions? And where is the Democratic Party’s program for creating jobs? It would too generous to say that it is nowhere. More accurately, it just isn’t. The reason that you don’t know what the president’s plan to create jobs in America is, isn’t because you’re ignorant. It’s because he doesn’t have one. And no one seems to care or notice.

Instead, as usual, as is the case in all political ‘debates’ these days, the question is not will Republicans win on this issue, but rather merely by how much. Even that is not really the question, however, since that formulation presumes that Democrats are actually fighting Republicans, and since it conveniently omits mention of the fact that all such ‘debates’ always happen on Republican (more accurately, Republican/Democratic) turf. Our whores in Washington are not, for example, fighting right now over whether we should spend money to create jobs, versus slashing spending to reduce the deficit. No, rather, they are simply disagreeing over how much social spending should be slashed. The real ideological war over policy was lost before it was ever even engaged, because that’s precisely what Democrats do nowadays.

Since 1980 (or perhaps 1972), they retreat, they deceive, and they sell out their constituents. That is the case in almost every policy domain, from Middle East foreign policy to global warming to civil liberties to health care. If that latter claim sounds ridiculous, remember that Barack Obama’s much derided health care plan was essentially the same one proposed by Bob Dole in 1996, and virtually the same one implemented by Ken Doll “Dick” Romney in Massachusetts just a few years back. And remember that the president began the process by cutting a secret deal behind closed doors with the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. And remember that that deal called for them to profit massively, for the president to renounce single payer, and for him to lie outright (as was documented by his pal, Tom Daschle) to his liberal base, pretending to favor a public option while actually scuttling it from the get-go.

And so our political class today is comprised of two types: vicious predatory marionettes, on the one hand, and vicious predatory marionettes who smile a bit more than the first batch, on the other. Really, increasingly, you can hardly tell the difference. New York is one of the bluest states to be found in the country. It has a Democratic governor. He is the son of a former Democratic governor, a man who could well have been president had he run, and one of the outstanding liberal figures of the twentieth century. And yet this governor is running a program that might make Ronald Reagan blush, for all its ugly draconian regressivism. The state has a fiscal problem. He is solving it by slashing funding to education and health care, and laying off state employees. He refuses to raise taxes. The wealthy in New York will actually be getting a tax cut next year under the terms of Governor Cuomo’s new budget.

Then there’s Barack Obama, the man hated by the right for his evil socialist policies. Newsweek magazine – not exactly widely known for its Trotskyist political commitments, is currently running an article entitled thusly: “Obama’s War on Schools: The No Child Left Behind Act has been deadly to public education. So why has the president embraced it?” I dunno, Newsweek. Because Bush was a socialist too, maybe?

You could ask the same question, however, about Afghanistan, Iraq, defense spending, Guantánamo and civil liberties, tax policy, health care (yes, health care), global warming, government spending, Wall Street bailouts, and really just about anything government does. Like just about every other Democrat running around these days, Obama is almost entirely as regressive as the monsters of the Republican Party. There’s the answer to your question, Newsweek. It’s about time that you figured out what the rest of us have learned the hard way over the last two years: that, policy-wise, Barack Obama is George W. Bush.

The reduction of the American voter’s choices down to two options – catastrophic or catastrophic with nice words – has very real consequences. This game is played for keeps. People are not making it anymore. The middle class has been shrinking for three decades. Foreclosures are off the charts. People are literally dying from lack of health care. Children are literally dying from lack of health care. And every day, we in the richest polity that ever existed on the planet not only fail to address those crimes, we exacerbate them with the actions of the Walkers and Christies and Cuomos and Obamas of this country. It’s no longer a question of whether we’ll adopt the destructive policies of the regressive oligarchy, merely a question of how fast we do it.

A recent report entitled “The Basic Economic Security Tables for the United States” finds, according to the New York Times, that a single worker (no partner, no dependents) “needs an income of $30,012 a year – or just above $14 an hour – to cover basic expenses and save for retirement and emergencies. That is close to three times the 2010 national poverty level of $10,830 for a single person, and nearly twice the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. ... [But] The most recent data from the Census Bureau found that 14.3 percent of Americans were living below the poverty line in 2009.” Imagine how many were living below the real minimum threshold three times higher than the official poverty level.

Fortunately, however, there is still some good news out there. The number of billionaires in the world grew by 199 in the past year, according to Forbes magazine's annual survey. Now there are 1,210 of them. And they possess a combined wealth of $4.5 trillion. Awesome, dude! The even better news is that that figure is up from $3.6 trillion – a mere 25 percent growth – in just one year’s time. And what a year, too! Who says there’s a massive, devastating, killer recession going on? Sounds to me like it’s nothing more than a boatload of whining from a bunch of lazy, low-achiever, can’t-cut-it, non-billionaires!

What amazes me the most about this disaster is that it is the biggest single political story of our era, and simultaneously the tiniest. Of course, that’s not a coincidence either. You hardly want the media or social critics covering you when you’re in the midst of committing the crime of the millennium. We have witnessed what is undoubtedly the greatest redistribution of wealth in all of human history. As importantly, the public face taken for the process facilitating this mass rape has been a lie. Oligarchs didn’t tell us they were buying our politicians in order to take our money. They told us instead that “free” trade is good, but that unions, queers and Middle Eastern bogeymen are bad. Very bad. They told us they were lowering our taxes, when in fact they were simply transferring their tax burden onto us and onto our children. They’re telling us now that it is fiscally irresponsible to properly fund public education, health care and pensions, yet humongous corporate subsidies and a military the size of the entire rest of the world combined are completely necessary.

You don’t dare call them out on it, either. If you mention any of this, you get accused of engaging in class warfare. Even though, as Warren Buffett has pointed out, that war is already over, and his side won. And even though such an accusation is tantamount to accusing Martin Luther King of having engaged in race warfare for pointing out the perfectly obvious moral crimes that whites had long been committing against blacks, with the full blessing of the law, no less.

Telling the truth is the worst crime you can commit, as an incident in New Hampshire this week well proves. The Catholic church has, by all appearances, been little short of a rape factory for decades if not centuries now, and yet conservatives can hardly run fast enough to defend it against the slightest attempt by its victims to gain some meager measure of justice in compensation for the damage done to them. They’ll defend it, that is, unless anyone in the church should make the foolish mistake of speaking truthfully about the effects of regressive policymaking upon the poor and downtrodden. Bishop John McCormack did just that with respect to draconian Republican-proposed state budget cuts in New Hampshire. That caused D.J. Bettencourt, the House Majority Leader there, to call the good bishop a “pedophile pimp”.

Which is probably precisely what he is, but just the same – wow. In case you were wondering what’s really sacred amongst regressives, now you know, pal. Ca-ching, ca-ching.

We must face it. These are the pigs in our society, and they are doing what pigs do. They grow fatter each day, and they do so by nothing less than removing food from the mouths of babes and stuffing it into their own, even though it can hardly fit there anymore, so overflowingly full have those orifices and bellies become.

This is a crime against humanity, and it will not end.

Until we end it.
(c) 2011 David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York. He is delighted to receive readers' reactions to his articles, but regrets that time constraints do not always allow him to respond. More of his work can be found at his website,

The Dead Letter Office...

Scott gives the corporate salute

Heil Obama,

Dear Gouverneur Walker,

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

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

Along with this award you will be given the Iron Cross 1st class with diamond clusters, presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 07-04-2011. We salute you Herr Walker, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

Prosser calls his boss Chief Justice Abrahamson a bitch!

In The Courts Of Fitzwalkerstan
April 5 Judicial Election Could Renew Checks & Balances in Wisconsin
By John Nichols

A hand-painted sign highlighting Wisconsin’s April 5 state Supreme Court election declares: “This May Be the Most Important Vote You Ever Cast.”

That’s a bold claim.

But it won’t be dismissed by many observers of the six-week long struggle between Governor Scott Walker and the public-employee unions he seeks to dismantle with aggressive anti-labor legislation and tactics.

The Supreme Court election in Wisconsin—one of a number of Midwestern states that elect jurists, in keeping with the progressive tradition that said all powerful officials should be accountable to the people—will provide the first real measure of the strength of the mass movements that have developed to challenge Walker, his agenda and his political allies.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court currently has a 4-3 conservative majority that is expected to be sympathetic to Walker’s agenda as it faces extended litigation. But one of the conservative justices is facing an unexpectedly hard re-election fight. If he loses, the balance on the court will tip toward a majority that is more likely to check and balance the governor who has emerged as the authoritarian face of the national push by conservatives to break public-sector unions.

As such, the Wisconsin race is being watched closely by the governor’s critics—who have taken to calling the state “Fitzwalkerstan,” a combination of the governor’s name and that of his legislative consigliere, Senate majority leader Scott Fitzgerald—and by Walker’s allies in corporate boardrooms and right-wing think tanks far from Wisconsin.

On Friday, Sarah Palin endorsed the conservative incumbent, Justice David Prosser [1], who has also benefitted from expensive television advertising campaign’s funded by corporate donors.

But Prosser, a veteran political player and jurist who was expected until just a few weeks ago to coast to victory, appears to be in serious political trouble—at least in part because he has aligned himself so closely with the controversial governor and the Republican right. On Thursday, his campaign co-chair, a popular former governor, abruptly quit [2] the campaign and endorsed Prosser’s challenger.

That’s unprecedented. But so, too, is Prosser’s determination to politicize what is supposed to be a nonpartisan judicial position.

Prosser has departed from the state’s best judicial values and traditions to identify himself as a conservative who will make decisions based on his political ideology and his political associations—particularly his association with Governor Walker—rather than the law.

His opponent, veteran Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg, [3] has done the opposite, positioning herself as a rule-of-law contender who would serve as an independent jurist rather than an ally of the governor.

If that sounds like a stark choice, it is. And Prosser is the one who has made it so.

In announcing his candidacy for a new term, the justice identified himself as a conservative judicial activist who intended to use his position on the court to advance Walker’s agenda. In the first announcement from his re-election effort, the message was clear: “Our campaign efforts will include building an organization that will return Justice Prosser to the bench, protecting the conservative judicial majority and acting as a common sense complement to both the new administration and Legislature.”

Months later, when that line began to stir controversy, Prosser attempted to step back from the statement. But then his campaign said that the April court election is about locking in a “conservative majority” on the court “and nothing more.”

These are unprecedented statements in the history of the Wisconsin judiciary. And they have caused former Prosser backers to distance themselves from the justice, as have recent revelations that suggest the justice has abandoned any pretense of respect for judicial integrity. (Newspapers reported in late March that he had called the chief justice of Wisconsin’s high court, Shirley Abrahamson, a “bitch” while threatening to “destroy” her.)

Forner Governor Pat Lucey, [2] who agreed last year to serve as Prosser’s campaign co-chair, announced Thursday that he had had it with the justice.

“I can no longer in good conscience lend my name and support to Justice Prosser’s candidacy,” explained Lucey. “Too much has come to light that Justice Prosser has lost that most crucial of characteristics for a Supreme Court Justice—as for any judge—even-handed impartiality. Along with that failing has come a disturbing distemper and lack of civility that does not bode well for the High Court in the face of demands that are sure to be placed on it in these times of great political and legal volatility.”

“At the very same time that my confidence in Justice Prosser has waned, I admire and have continued to be impressed with Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg. She has adhered throughout the campaign to even-handedness and non-partisanship and has exhibited both promising judicial temperament and good grace even in the heat of a fierce campaign,” wrote Lucey in a statement broadly circulated in Wisconsin. “For these reasons I have today resigned as Honorary Co-Chairman of Justice Prosser’s campaign, and I endorse Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg for the Wisconsin Supreme Court on April 5, 2011.” Lucey’s move highlights the seriousness with which Wisconsin’s approach judicial elections, a tradition that places critical choices about how to constitute the courts in the hands of citizens. The point of this tradition, which is deeply rooted in the state’s history and values, is to take politics out of the process. Unlike in other states, where politicians and legal insiders cut backroom deals to pick jurists, Wisconsin’s judicial elections let the people choose justices and then hold them to account.

April 5 will be Prosser’s accountability moment.

And it is his partisanship—as well as his link to a very controversial Republican governor—that has gotten him in political trouble.

A former Assembly speaker, Prosser mentored Walker after the younger man was elected to the Assembly. Wisconsin is not a large state, so relationships of this sort frequently develop.

Most judges resolve conflicts of interest by recusing themselves from specific cases and establishing strict standards. Unfortunately, Prosser has not done this. Instead of abandoning his past role as a partisan legislative leader, he has now positioned himself as a partisan leader on the court.

Consider his involvement in the legal wrangling over Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman’s violations of the state’s code of conduct for jurists. The Wisconsin Judicial Commission determined that Gableman and his campaign purposely engaged in actions that violated the Code of Judicial Conduct and that “the prosecution of this matter was appropriate and a constitutional application of that valid rule.” However, Prosser blocked that prosecution.

Why? Prosser and Gableman have each benefited from the aid of the out-of-state political interests that backed Walker’s election. Acting as a partisan, Prosser provided Gableman ethical cover in order to tip the balance of the court so as to align it with the Washington-based interests that have guided Walker’s agenda. Prosser’s moves suggest a steady determination to make the high court a judicial rubber stamp for the governor.

For Wisconsinites who prefer the ancient model of governing that put all power in a monarch, Prosser is the right choice. He is running as an explicit supporter of the governor. That is his right. But it is also the right of the voters to set a higher standard.

And they have an opportunity to do so by electing Kloppenburg, who would re-establish the court as an independent branch of government [3].

Kloppenburg is not a politician. She is an experienced and well-regarded prosecutor; an instructor at the University of Wisconsin Law School; and an advocate with a distinguished record of arguing cases before circuit courts, the Court of Appeals and the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

But her real strength is her nonpartisan record and commitment to judicial integrity.

Kloppenburg offers a reminder that it is still possible to disregard politics and to respect, honor and maintain the rule of law. As a litigator and prosecutor with the Wisconsin Department of Justice since 1989, she has served with two Democratic attorneys general (Jim Doyle and Peg Lautenschlager) and two Republican attorneys general (Don Hanaway and J.B. Van Hollen).

In the course of the current campaign, Kloppenburg has gone out of her way to reject special-interest money and to highlight her commitment to judicial ethics and the code of conduct. She says: “Supreme Court justices should not act as advocates for any cause or group nor as legislators. Rather, Wisconsin residents deserve to have confidence that judges are impartial and independent decision-makers who apply the law fairly and clearly based on the law and the facts. That is what my background and broad legal experience have prepared me to do. That is the kind of justice I will be.” This is the traditional Wisconsin view, and the standard that voters have respected and defended through most of the state’s history when electing judges.

Now they have an opportunity to defend that standard once more. The April 5 Supreme Court vote provides a stark choice between a partisan judicial activist who would make the court an extension of the governor’s office and a respected legal scholar, litigator and prosecutor who would restore the court’s independence.

JoAnne Kloppenburg has embraced the higher and better standard that Wisconsinites have always demanded of their Supreme Court justices. If she wins her uphill race, in which she has enjoyed strong support from the governor’s critics, it will signal that the hundreds of thousands of citizens who have rallied in the streets are becoming a potent new force in the politics of the state—and, perhaps, of the nation.
(c) 2011 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. He is a contributing writer for The Progressive and In These Times and the associate editor of the Capital Times, the daily newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and dozens of other newspapers.

Primitive Muslims' Unique Love Of Violence
By Glenn Greenwald

* University of Tennessee Law Professor Glenn "Instapundit" Reynolds, today, echoing so many by lamenting the compulsive violence of Muslims:

It’s hard to keep track of all the barbaric behavior emanating from that part of the world.

Glenn Reynolds, November 23, 2010, on his prescription for dealing with North Korea:

If they start anything, I say nuke ‘em. And not with just a few bombs. They’ve caused enough trouble -- and it would be a useful lesson for Iran, too.

Glenn Reynolds, November 4, 2006, on how to deal with the Muslim world:

It's also true that if democracy can't work in Iraq, then we should probably adopt a "more rubble, less trouble" approach to other countries in the region that threaten us.

Glenn Reynolds, February 13, 2007, on how to deal with Iran:

We should be responding quietly, killing radical mullahs and iranian atomic scientists . . .

Glenn Reynolds, September 11, 2001, on responding to the 9/11 attacks:

GEORGE BUSH IS NOW THE MOST POWERFUL MAN IN THE WORLD:. . . Now, if he wants to nuke Baghdad, there is nobody to say him nay -- and damned few who would want to.

Boy, those primitive, dirty, lowly Muslims sure do have a bizarre, unique cultural compulsion toward violence and barbarism, don't they? Reynolds is highlighted here not because he's unique but because he's so drearily common. Behold the spectacle of those who cheered for the attack on Iraq (resulting in the deaths of at least 100,000 innocent people), who casually call for massive first-strike nuclear attacks on other nations (certain to vaporize hundreds of thousands or millions of human), who loyally marched lockstep behind a leader who instituted a worldwide torture and disappearance regime, lamenting how those grimy, backward Muslims over there have a disturbing and incomparable affinity for violence (and for examples of religious-motivated violence among Christians and Jews, see here).

Nuke 'em. Invade 'em. Torture 'em. Occupy 'em. Murder their scientists and religious leaders. Put 'em in cages for life without due process. Reduce 'em to rubble. Why? Because Muslims are so prone to violence and barbarism! That's a fairly succinct summary of America's political culture for the last decade at least.
(c) 2011 Glenn Greenwald. was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book "How Would a Patriot Act?," a critique of the Bush administration's use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, "A Tragic Legacy," examines the Bush legacy.

The Cartoon Corner...

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

To End On A Happy Note...

Ape Man
The Kinks

I think I'm sophisticated
'Cos I'm living my life like a good homosapien
But all around me everybody's multiplying
Till they're walking round like flies man
So I'm no better than the animals sitting in their cages
In the zoo man
'Cos compared to the flowers and the birds and the trees
I am an ape man

I think I'm so educated and I'm so civilized
'Cos I'm a strict vegetarian
But with the over-population and inflation and starvation
And the crazy politicians
I don't feel safe in this world no more
I don't want to die in a nuclear war
I want to sail away to a distant shore
and make like an ape man

I'm an ape man, I'm an ape ape man, Oh I'm an ape man
I'm a King Kong man I'm ape ape man
I'm an ape man
'Cos compared to the sun that sits in the sky
Compared to the clouds as they roll by
Compared to the bugs and the spiders and flies
I am an ape man

In man's evolution he has created the cities and
The motor traffic rumble, but give me half a chance
And I'd be taking off my clothes and living in the jungle
'Cos the only time that I feel at ease
Is swinging up and down in a coconut tree
Oh what a life of luxury to be like an ape man

I'm an ape, I'm an ape ape man, Oh I'm an ape man
I'm a King Kong man, I'm a voo-doo man
I'm an ape man
I look out my window, but I can't see the sky
'Cos the air pollution is fogging up my eyes
I want to get out of this city alive
And make like an ape man

Come and love me, be my ape man girl
And we will be so happy in my ape man world
I'm an ape man, I'm an ape ape man, I'm an ape man
I'm a King Kong man, I'm a voo-doo man
I'm an ape man
I'll be your Tarzan, you'll be my Jane
I'll keep you warm and you'll keep me sane
And we'll sit in the trees and eat bananas all day
Just like an ape man

I'm an ape man, I'm an ape ape man, Oh I'm an ape man
I'm a King Kong man, I'm a voo-doo man
I'm an ape man.
I don't feel safe in this world no more
I don't want to die in a nuclear war
I want to sail away to a distant shore
And make like an ape man.
© 1970/2011 The Kinks

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

The former House Speaker says this is just about
the last thing Americans need to see on their TV screens.

Even Newt Gingrich A Little Depressed By Prospect Of Him Running For President

WASHINGTON—Expressing a reaction similar to millions of other dismayed Americans, Newt Gingrich admitted Monday that he too was feeling "pretty bummed out" about the prospect of a Newt Gingrich presidential campaign.

Gingrich calls talk of a Newt Gingrich
presidential campaign "pathetic, frankly."

While confirming his ardent desire to be president, the former Speaker of the House told reporters the mere fact that American voters were seriously considering Newt Gingrich to be a viable Republican candidate in 2012 was a fairly distressing development that made him question the direction the country was moving in.

"Even when I see my name on a list of potential candidates, I think, you gotta be kidding me—Newt Gingrich?" said Gingrich, frowning and shaking his head in disbelief. "People are actually getting excited about the guy who engineered the 1995 government shutdown? I'm sorry, but that's just sad."

"It's 2011, for God's sake," Gingrich added. "Can't we get a fresher name to represent the Republican Party in the 21st century than Newt Gingrich?"

Though he acknowledged a Gingrich candidacy would definitely fire up certain segments of the conservative base, and likely build up a fair amount of momentum on name- recognition alone, Gingrich said that knowing we lived in a world where these kinds of political realities existed at all was a rather grim and sobering thought.

In addition, the retired Georgia representative expressed a sense of deep disappointment that people actually seemed this willing to throw their support behind a past-his-prime reactionary with an anti-everything stance and a history of marital infidelity.

"Hell, look at me: I'm a public relations nightmare," said Gingrich, adding that, for many years in the late '90s and early 2000s, his name was basically a punch line. "Remember that whole thing with me divorcing my wife while she was still in the hospital recovering from cancer? For my campaign's sake, I hope people have forgotten about that. But c'mon, it's a pretty bleak political landscape when the presidential campaign of a known philanderer is actually getting off the ground."

While Gingrich maintained that he does indeed want to win the presidency, he said that actually deciding to form a presidential exploratory committee and working on a campaign strategy for the election of Newt Gingrich made him slightly sick to his stomach.

Contemplating dozens of dreary appearances at political rallies in early primary states such as Iowa and New Hampshire, Gingrich told reporters that he could already feel his soul "dying a little inside" every time he thought of going out there and delivering overly rehearsed speeches about the burden on American taxpayers, Obamacare, and his national security qualifications.

Gingrich also claimed he was dreading the inevitable prospect of Newt Gingrich launching pointed yet patently unfair attacks on Obama's lack of clear leadership in the economic crisis, while simultaneously having to repeat some stupid campaign slogan like "Taking Back America's Future" over and over until he was completely sick of "everything coming out of Newt Gingrich's fat face."

"Oh, God, I don't even want to think about all the awful things I'm going to have to say," said Gingrich, adding that he cringed when imagining the "unbelievably phony" patriotic rhetoric that he would likely be uttering constantly. "All those empty promises and misinformed statements used to mask a selfish agenda or stir up people's fears. I already want me to just shut the fuck up."

"To be fair, I guess it's possible that I'll force some of the younger candidates to step up their game and once again generate some real interest in the core values of the Republican Party, but…ugh, who am I kidding?" Gingrich continued. "I'm the worst."

Mark Kebler, campaign strategist and loyal aide to Gingrich for the past 20 years, strongly agreed that a Newt Gingrich presidential run "would be some really depressing shit, for sure."

"Interestingly enough, it's not just about Newt's slim chances, polarizing character, irritating voice, or lack of charisma," Kebler said. "When you get right down to it, Newt Gingrich just kind of sucks. When I tell people I work for him, they give me this look, and I'm just like, 'Yeah, yeah, believe me, I know.'"

Even winning the Republican nomination would be "a downer," Gingrich said, since he would then have to select a running mate every bit as lame as he is, such as Tim Pawlenty or Michele Bachmann.

Like much of the voting public, Gingrich also expressed concerns about an unlikely yet disturbing scenario, one that ends with Newt Gingrich in the Oval Office.

"What if I win? Do I really want to live in a country where I'm president?" Gingrich said. "Obviously, yes, but it doesn't mean I should be."
© 2011 The Onion

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Iraq Deaths Estimator

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Issues & Alibis Vol 11 # 14 (c) 04/08/2011

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