Issues & Alibis
















Please visit our sponsor!






In This Edition

Tom Engelhardt returns with, "Believe It or Not 2010 Imperial Edition."

Uri Avnery exclaims, "'Hold Me Back!'"

David Sirota explains, "Why We Hate The Duke Blue Devils."

Amy Goodman uncovers, "Collateral Murder In Iraq."

Jim Hightower asks we, "Help Fight The Stupidity."

Randall Amster considers, "Politics As Unusual."

James Donahue reports, "Federal Court Ruling Threatens Internet Freedoms."

Margaret Kimberley joins us with, "Obama's Lies About Iran."

Chris Floyd hears, "The Silence Of The Liberal Lambs."

Belacqua Jones examines, "Black White-Black."

Mike Folkerth finds, "Bankrupt; It's Not Just Individuals."

Bill Quigley follows, "The Ongoing Torture Of Syed Fahad Hashmi."

David Michael Green asks, "Did Obama Sandbag His Own Health Care Bill?"

Wisconsin District Attorney, Scott Harold Southworth wins the coveted "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Joe Conason discovers, "Las Vegas Sun: Justice Department mulling Ensign indictment."

Kay Ebeling begins a serial, "I Lived In A Car With My Teenage Daughter On The Streets Of L.A. And Survived To Write About It: Part 1."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion reports "Pope Vows To Get Church Pedophilia Down To Acceptable Levels" but first Uncle Ernie explores, "Obama's Star Chamber."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Marshall Ramsey, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Brian McFadden, Matt Wuerker, Nonnie 9999, Kurt Griffiths, The Onion, Bob Englehart, Dorothea Lange, WikiLeaks.Org, Duke University 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."










Obama's Star Chamber
By Ernest Stewart

"Anytime a bunch of holy people wanna kill each other, I'm a happy guy." ~~~ George Carlin

"We remain firmly committed to promoting an open Internet, the Court in no way disagreed with the importance of providing a free and open Internet, nor did it close the door to other methods for achieving this important end." ~~~ F.C.C.

Does sex education encourage sex? Many parents are afraid that talking about sex with their teenagers will be taken as permission for the teen to have sex. Nothing could be further from the truth. If anything, the more children learn abour sexuality from talking with their parents and teachers and reading accurate books, the less they feel compelled to find out for themselves.
~~~ Benjamin Spock ~ Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care ~~~

It's official, we have our very own "Star Chamber" that will, in future as it has already, choose American citizens for execution without trial or even real evidence and certainly no appeal process. And no one held responsible for the murders! So much for the 5th Amendment, huh? So much for:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Seems clear enough to me, how about you?

Even the kings of old couldn't do what Obama and the boys over at the NSC now claim as their right. The first on this "Hit List" is Anwar al-Awlaki, the Muslim cleric who is "believed" to have shifted from encouraging attacks on the United States to directly participating in them, intelligence and counterterrorism officials said Tuesday. There will be NO trial by jury, no defense, no evidence, no appeal! A nameless, faceless group now legally has our lives in their hands. I'm going to repeat that again for those of you on drugs....

They BELIEVE he has shifted, not that there is proof that he did, just that he may have; no evidence just a death sentence! Seems a bit much, does it not?

Normally when "holy people" kill other "holy people" I, like old George Carlin, am a happy guy but when this becomes official policy, "Murder by Decree," it's time to draw the line. For the sake of argument lets say that Obama won't abuse this act of terror but what about president Palin? What about the next one or the next one or the next? Of course, by even using this, or attempting to, Obama has already proven his willingness to abuse!

And, of course, the silence was deafening when this was announced. There was no in depth coverage of this nightmare, at all! No one at Fox Spews or any of the other corpo-rat news department have said anything to my knowledge about this act of treason. The fact that they haven't should tell you two things. One, they endorse this move, and two, they endorse it even with Obama in control. That in its self should send alarm bells ringing!

In Other News

Well, here's a shocker, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit came down in favor of allowing internet broadband providers to charge anything they want for whatever bits of service they provide. Telling the FCC that they cannot require "Net Neutrality" from the corpo-rats, even though the FCC actually has that power. Instead of fighting it to a higher court the FCC will allow Comcast to sock it to its customers.

Oh, and did I mention that the ten members of the court that voted lockstep for this were all appointed by either the "Crime Family Bush or old dementia head, Rayguns. Imagine that! What are the odds? That also explains the hopelessness of the FCC appealing to the Extreme court where the majority appointed was by the same group of criminals that gave us the DC Court judges.

This initially was about Comcast wanting to overcharge for BitTorrent traffic. The FCC told Comcast to stop discriminating against BitTorrent and in 2008, issued rules for the industry regarding "net neutrality," the principle that all Internet content should be treated equally by network providers. Comcast challenged the FCC's authority to issue such rules and argued that Comcast's throttling of BitTorrent was necessary to ensure that a few customers didn't unfairly hog the capacity of the network, slowing down Internet access for all of its customers. While that may sound somewhat reasonable, it, of course, is not what this is all about.

It's about turning the Internet into a cash cow for a very few corpo-rats by charging various rates to various customers which will result in many people being forced off the net and has the added bonus of blocking access to the competitions sites.

This ruling allows Internet service providers to restrict consumers' ability to access certain kinds of Internet content, such as video sites like Hulu or YouTube.

Google, Microsoft and other big producers of Web content have argued that such controls or pricing policies would thwart innovation and customer choice.

Consumer advocates said the ruling, one of several that have challenged the FCC's regulatory reach, could also undermine all of the FCC's efforts to regulate Internet service providers and establish its authority over the Internet, including its recently released national broadband plan.

"This decision destroys the FCC's authority to build broadband policy on the legal theory established by the Bush administration," said Ben Scott, the policy director for Free Press, a nonprofit organization that advocates for broad media ownership and access.

You remember that old saying about "Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it?" This decision could restart efforts in Congress to pass a federal law specifically governing net neutrality, a principle generally supported by the Obama administration.

While the decision is a victory for Comcast, it also has the potential to affect the company's pending acquisition of a majority stake in NBC Universal as members of Congress have expressed concern that the acquisition could give Comcast the power to favor the content of its own cable and broadcast channels over those of competitors, something that Comcast has said it does not intend to do. Now, members of Congress could also fret that Comcast will block or slow down customers' access to the Web sites of competing television and telecommunications companies. I know something about this as we lost our service provider when we came out against The Iraq invasion. I was given 24 hours notice on a Sunday when I was out of town to remove everything. In the four hours I actually had, I managed to save my columns but only 13 of 52 magazines from 2002 and I lost 4 from 2003. That taught me a lesson and since everything is triply backed up!

Funny how Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon, the same three that sold us out to the Bush regime and were pardoned by Bush, Obama and the rest for their acts of treason, will now benefit from this ruling. There are still options. If they raise your rates or cut off access to some sites you can tell them to go and intercourse themselves and choose a service that doesn't raise their rates and has an open internet policy. At least you can for now, but don't be surprised if Obama doesn't come up with the "Broadband Providers Protection Act of 2010," where you must, under penalty of law, buy service from these goons. Impossible, huh? As impossible as Obama's sellout to the telecoms who committed treason. Or the sellout to the banks and that mandatory insurance sellout. How's that hope and change thingy working out for you, America?

And Finally

Just when you think it couldn't possibly get any more bizarre along comes Juneau County, Wisconsin District Attorney, Scott Harold Southworth. Scotty has won this week's Vidkun Quisling Award because he's threatened to prosecute teachers in five county school districts if they teach sex education, which is, by the way, something that they are required to do under Wisconsin law. Scott, who has been the center of attention and much laughter ever since his University of Wisconsin daze, is at it again. Scott is a Rethuglican, yeah no sh*t, and he says in his letter that he would charge offending teachers with contributing to the delinquency of a minor!

"If a teacher instructs any student aged 16 or younger how to utilize contraceptives under circumstances where the teacher knows the child is engaging in sexual activity with another child - or even where the 'natural and probable consequences' of the teacher's instruction is to cause that child to engage in sexual intercourse with a child - that teacher can be charged under this statute" of contributing to the delinquency of a minor."

Scott said the law went too far because it required teachers not to teach students about the effects of birth control, but on how to properly use them, "which turns objective instruction into implicit encouragement and advocacy." Scott thinks if kids don't know they won't do it and we all know how well that works. Also it's better to have a few billion unplanned births than teach the kids the truth about THEIR bodies. This works well in America where the bible certainly says that Adam and Eve had paradise until they got knowledge, ergo Scotty thinks ignorance is bliss and knowledge has no place being taught in school. Yeah, I know!

This is just his latest little faux pas in a long line of glaring stupidity which may explain why the good folks of Wisconsin would elect this bozo to office. We all need a good laugh to keep from crying and Scotty is a comic genius! Tell Scotty what you think about all this at: southworth.scott@da.wi.gov.

Oh And One More Thing

It's that time of year once again when those income tax checks come a rollin' in. If you're getting one, please think of us because we always think of you! We desperately need your help to keep publishing. Please send us what you can and not only will we be extremely grateful but we'll see that it goes to good use in the struggle to reclaim our Republic! Please, do whatever you can. We need your help.

*****


01-29-1918 ~ 04-01-2010
Goodbye Charlie!



11-18-1945 ~ 04-06-2010
a-tsa-we-lo-lv-s-di-di ~ ha-wi-(na)di-tlv ~ nv-wa-do-hi-ya-da!




*****

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

*****

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) 2010 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for the last 9 years managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine.












Believe It or Not 2010 Imperial Edition
US War-Fighting Numbers to Knock Your Socks Off
By Tom Engelhardt

In my 1950s childhood, Ripley's Believe It or Not was part of everyday life, a syndicated comics page feature where you could stumble upon such mind-boggling facts as: "If all the Chinese in the world were to march four abreast past a given point, they would never finish passing though they marched forever and forever." Or if you were young and iconoclastic, you could chuckle over Mad magazine's parody, "Ripup's Believe It or Don't!"

With our Afghan and Iraq wars on my mind, I've been wondering whether Ripley's moment hasn't returned. Here, for instance, are some figures offered in a Washington Post piece by Lieutenant General James H. Pillsbury, deputy commanding general of the U.S. Army Materiel Command, who is deeply involved in the "drawdown of the logistics operation in Iraq":

"There are... more than 341 facilities; 263,000 soldiers, Defense Department civilians and contractor employees; 83,000 containers; 42,000 vehicles; 3 million equipment items; and roughly $54 billion in assets that will ultimately be removed from Iraq."

Admittedly, that list lacks the "believe it or not" tagline, but otherwise Ripley's couldn't have put it more staggeringly. And here's Pillsbury's Ripley-esque kicker: the American drawdown will be the "equivalent, in personnel terms alone, of relocating the entire population of Buffalo, New York."

When it comes to that slo-mo drawdown, all the numbers turn out to be staggering. They are also a reminder of just how the Pentagon has been fighting its wars in these last years -- like a compulsive shopper without a 12-step recovery program in sight. Whether it's 3.1 million items of equipment, or 3 million, 2.8 million, or 1.5 million, whether 341 "facilities" (not including perhaps ten mega-bases which will still be operating in 2011 with tens of thousands of American soldiers, civilians, and private contractors working and living on them), or more than 350 forward operating facilities, or 290 bases are to be shut down, the numbers from Iraq are simply out of this world.

Those sorts of figures define the U.S. military in the Bush era -- and now Obama's -- as the most materiel-profligate war-making machine ever. Where armies once had baggage trains and camp followers, our camp followers now help plant our military in foreign soil, build its housing and defenses, and then supply it with vast quantities of food, water, fuel, and god knows what else. In this way, our troops carry not just packs on their backs, but a total, transplantable society right down to the PXs, massage parlors, food courts, and miniature golf courses. At Kandahar Air Base in Afghanistan, there was until recently a "boardwalk" that typically included a "Burger King, a Subway sandwich shop, three cafes, several general stores, a Cold Mountain Creamery, [and an] Oakley sunglasses outlet." Atypically enough, however, a TGI Friday's, which had just joined the line-up, was recently ordered shut down along with some of the other stores by Afghan war commander General Stanley McChrystal as inimical to the war effort.

In Ripley's terms, if you were to put all the vehicles, equipment, and other materiel we managed to transport to Iraq and Afghanistan "four abreast," they, too, might stretch a fair way around the planet. And wouldn't that be an illustration worthy of the old Ripley's cartoon -- all those coffee makers and port-a-potties and Internet cafes, even that imported sand which, if more widely known about, might change the phrase "taking coals to Newcastle" to "bringing sand to Iraq"?

For all the sand Iraq did have, from the point of view of the U.S. military it didn't have the perfect type for making the miles of protective "blast walls" that became a common feature of the post-invasion landscape. So, according to Stephen Farrell of the New York Times, U.S. taxpayer dollars floated in boatloads of foreign sand from the United Arab Emirates and Qatar to create those 15-ton blast walls at $3,500 a pop. U.S. planners are now evidently wondering whether to ship some of the leftover walls thousands of miles by staggeringly roundabout routes to Afghanistan at a transportation cost of $15,000 each.

When it comes to the U.S. drawdown in Iraq and the build-up in Afghanistan, in fact, the numbers, any numbers, are little short of unbelievable.

* Believe it or not, for instance, U.S. commanders in our war zones have more than one billion congressionally mandated dollars a year at their disposal to spend on making "friends with local citizens and help[ing] struggling economies." It's all socked away in the Commander's Emergency Response Program. Think of it as a local community-bribery account which, best of all, seems not to require the slightest accountability to Congress for where or how the money is spent.

* Believe it or not (small change department), the Pentagon is planning to spend an initial $50 million from a "$350 million Pentagon program designed to improve the counterterrorism operations of U.S. allies" on Croatia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, all of whom, in the latest version of the Coalition of the Billing, just happen to have small numbers of troops deployed in Afghanistan. The backdrop for this is Canada's decision to withdraw its combat forces from Afghanistan in 2011 and a fear in Washington that the larger European allies may threaten to bail as well. Think of that $50 million as a down payment on a state bribery program -- and the Pentagon is reportedly hoping to pry more money loose from Congress to pay off the smaller "allies" in a bigger way in the future.

* Believe it or not, the Defense Logistics Agency shipped 1.1 million hamburger patties to Afghanistan in the month of March 2010 (nearly doubling the March 2009 figure). Almost any number you might care to consider related to the Afghan War is similarly on the rise. By the fall, the number of American troops there will have nearly tripled since President Obama took office; American deaths in Afghanistan have doubled in the first months of 2010, while the number of wounded has tripled; insurgent roadside bomb (IED) attacks more than doubled in 2009 and are still rising; U.S. drone strikes almost doubled in 2009 and are on track to triple this year; and fuel deliveries to Afghanistan have nearly doubled, rising from 15 million gallons a month in March 2009 to 27 million this March. (Keep in mind that, by the time a gallon of gas has made it to U.S. troops in the field, its cost is estimated at up to $100.)

* Believe it or not, according to a recent report by the Pentagon inspector general, private contractor KBR, holding a $38 billion contract to provide the U.S. military with "a range of logistic services," has cost Washington $21 million in "waste" on truck maintenance alone by billing for 12 hours of work when, on average, its employees were actually putting in 1.3 hours.

* Believe it or not, the State Department has paid another private contractor, Triple Canopy, $438 million since mid-2005 simply to guard the massive, 104-acre U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, the largest on the planet. That's more than half the price tag to build the embassy, the running of which is expected to cost an estimated $1.8 billion dollars in 2010. Triple Canopy now has 1,800 employees dedicated to embassy protection in the Iraqi capital, mainly Ugandan and Peruvian security guards. At $736 million to build, the embassy itself is a numbers wonder (and has only recently had its sizeable playing field astroturfed - "the first artificial turf sports field in Iraq" -- also assumedly at taxpayer expense). Fans of Ripley-esque diplomatic gigantism should have no fears about the future either: the U.S. is now planning to build another "mother ship" of similar size and cost in Islamabad, Pakistan.

* Believe it or not, according to Nick Turse of TomDispatch.com, nearly 400 bases for U.S. troops, CIA operatives, special operations forces, NATO allies, and civilian contractors have already been constructed in Afghanistan, topping the base-building figures for Iraq by about 100 in a situation in which almost every bit of material has to be transported into the country. The base-building spree has yet to end.

* Believe it or not, according to the Washington Post, the Defense Department has awarded a contract worth up to $360 million to the son of an Afghan cabinet minister to transport U.S. military supplies through some of the most dangerous parts of Afghanistan -- and his company has no trucks. (He hires subcontractors who evidently pay off the Taliban as part of a large-scale protection racket that allows the supplies through unharmed.) This contract is, in turn, part of a $2.1 billion Host Nation Trucking contract whose recipients may be deeply involved in extortion and smuggling rackets, and over which the Pentagon reportedly exercises little oversight.

* Believe it or not, the staggering logistics effort underway to transport part of the American way of war from Iraq to Afghanistan is now being compared by those involved to Hannibal (not Lecter) crossing the Alps with his cohort of battle elephants, or to that ancient conqueror of conquerors, Alexander the Great ("the largest building boom in Afghanistan since Alexander built Kandahar"). It has become commonplace as well to say, as President Obama did at Bagram Air Base on his recent six-hour Afghan drop-in, that the U.S. military is "the finest military in the history of the world," or as his predecessor put it even more emphatically, "the greatest force for human liberation the world has ever known."

The Ripley-esque numbers, however, tell a somewhat different story. If war were really a Believe It or Not matter, or victory lay in the number of hamburgers transported or the price of fuel consumed, the U.S. military would have been the winner long ago. After all, it may be the most product-profligate military with the heaviest "footprint" in history. Though it's seldom thought strange (and rarely commented upon in the U.S.), the Pentagon practices war as a form of mass consumption and so, not surprisingly, bears a striking resemblance to the society it comes from. Like the Taliban, it carries its way of life to war on its back.

It's striking, of course, that all this is happening at a moment when, domestically, small businesses can't get loans and close to 10% of the population is officially out of work, while state governments are desperately scrabbling for every available dollar (and some that aren't), even as they cut what would once have been considered basic services. In contrast, the Pentagon is fighting its distant wars as if American pockets had no bottoms, the national treasury had no limits, and there was quite literally no tomorrow.

And there's one more small contrast to be made when it comes to the finest military in the history of the world: for all the private security guards, mountains of burgers, lakes of gasoline, miles of blast walls, and satchels of cash to pass out to the locals, it's been remarkably unsuccessful in its pacification campaigns against some of the motliest forces of our time. The U.S. military has been fought to something like a draw by relatively modest-sized, relatively lightly armed minority insurgencies that don't even pass muster when it comes to shooting straight.

Vast piles of money and vast quantities of materiel have been squandered; equipment by the boatload has been used up; lives have been wasted in profusion; and yet the winners of our wars might turn out to be Iran and China. The American way of war, unfortunately, has the numbers to die for, just not to live by.
(c) 2010 Tom Engelhardt





'Hold Me Back!'
By Uri Avnery

"HOLD ME back!" is a part of Israeli folklore. It reminds us of our childhood.

When a boy has a scuffle with a bigger and stronger boy, he pretends that he is going to attack him any moment and shouts to the spectators: "Hold me back, or I am going to kill him!"

Israel is now in such a situation. We pretend that we are going to attack Iran at any moment and shout to the entire world: "Hold us back or..."

And the world does indeed hold us back.

IT IS dangerous to prophesy in such matters, especially when we are dealing with people not all of whom are wise and not all of whom are sane. Yet I am ready to maintain: there is no possibility whatsoever that the government of Israel will send the air force to attack Iran.

I am not going to enter into military matters. Is our air force really capable of executing such an operation? Are circumstances similar to those that prevailed 28 years ago, when the Iraqi reactor was successfully destroyed? Is it at all possible for us to eliminate the Iranian nuclear effort, whose installations are dispersed throughout the large country and buried far below the surface?

I want to focus on another aspect: is it politically feasible? What would be the consequences?

FIRST OF ALL, a basic rule of Israeli reality: the State of Israel cannot start any large-scale military operation without American consent.

Israel depends on the US in almost every respect, but in no sphere is it more dependent than in the military one.

The aircraft that must execute the mission were supplied to us by the US. Their efficacy depends on a steady flow of American spare parts. At that range, refueling from US-built tanker aircraft would be necessary.

The same is true for almost all other war material of our army, as well as for the money needed for their acquisition. Everything comes from America.

In 1956, Israel went to war without American consent. Ben-Gurion thought that his collusion with the UK and France was enough. He was vastly mistaken. One hundred hours after telling us that the "Third Kingdom of Israel" had come into being, he announced with a broken voice that he was going to evacuate all the territories just conquered. President Dwight Eisenhower, together with his Soviet colleague, had submitted an ultimatum, and that was the end of the adventure.

Since then, Israel has not started a single war without securing the agreement of Washington. On the eve of the Six-day War, a special emissary was sent to the US to make sure that there was indeed American agreement. When he returned with an affirmative answer, the order for the attack was issued.

On the eve of Lebanon War I, Defense Minister Ariel Sharon rushed to Washington to obtain American consent. He met with Secretary of State Alexander Haig, who agreed - but only on condition that there would be a clear provocation. A few days later there just happened to be an attempt on the life of the Israeli ambassador in London, and the war was on.

The Israeli army's offensives against Hezbollah ("Lebanon War II") and Hamas ("Cast Lead") were possible because they were cast as part of the American campaign against "Radical Islam".

Ostensibly, that is also true for an attack on Iran. But no.

BECAUSE AN Israeli attack on Iran would cause a military, political and economic disaster for the United States of America.

Since the Iranians, too, realize that Israel could not attack without American consent, they would react accordingly.

As I have written here before, a cursory glance at the map suffices to indicate what would be the immediate reaction. The narrow Hormuz Strait at the entrance of the Persian (or Arabian) Gulf, through which a huge part of the world's oil flows, would be sealed at once. The results would shake the international economy, from the US and Europe to China and Japan. Prices would soar to the skies. The countries that had just begun to recover from the world economic crisis would sink to the depths of misery and unemployment, riots and bankruptcies.

The Strait could be opened only by a military operation on the ground. The US simply has no troops to spare for this - even if the American public were ready for another war, one much more difficult than even those of Iraq and Afghanistan. It is even doubtful whether the US could help Israel to defend itself against the inevitable counter-stroke by Iranian missiles.

The Israeli attack on a central Islamic country would unite the entire Islamic world, including the entire Arab world. The US, which has spent the last few years laboring mightily to form a coalition of "moderate" Arab states (meaning: countries governed by dictators kept by the US) against the "radical" states. This pack would immediately become unstuck. No Arab leader would be able to stand aside while the masses of his people were gathering in tumultuous demonstrations in the squares.

All this is clear to any knowledgeable person, and even more so to the American military and civilian leaders. Secretaries, generals and admirals have been sent to Israel to make this clear to our leaders in a language that even kindergarten kids can understand: No! Lo! La! Nyet!

IF SO, why has the military option not been removed from the table?

Because the US and Israel like it lying there.

The US likes to pose as if it can hardly hold back the ferocious Israeli Rottweiler on its leash. This puts pressure on the other powers to agree to the imposition of sanctions on Iran. If you don't agree, the murderous dog could leap out of control. Think about the consequences!

What sanctions? For some time now, this terrifying word - "sanctions" - has been bedeviling everybody on the international stage. They are going to be imposed "within weeks". But when one inquires what it is all about, one realizes that there is a lot of smoke and very little fire. Some commanders of the Revolutionary Guards may be hurt, some marginal damage inflicted on the Iranian economy. The "paralyzing sanctions" have disappeared, because there was no chance that Russia and China would agree. Both do very good business with Iran.

Also, there is very little chance that these sanctions would stop the production of the bomb, or even slow it down. From the point of view of the Ayatollahs, this effort is the prime imperative of national defense - only a country with nuclear arms is immune from American attack. Faced with the repeated threats by American spokesmen to overthrow their regime, no Iranian government could act differently. The more so since during the last century, the Americans and the British have repeatedly done exactly that. Iranian denials are perfunctory. According to all reports, even the most extreme Iranian opponents of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad support the acquisition of the bomb and would rally behind him if attacked.

In this respect, the Israeli leadership is right: nothing will stop Iran's endeavor to obtain a nuclear bomb except the massive employment of military power. The "sanctions" are childish games. The American administration is talking about them in glowing terms in order to cover up the fact that even mighty America is unable to stop the Iranian bomb.

WHEN NETANYAHU & Co. criticize the inability of the American leaders to act against Iran, they answer in the same coin: you, too, are not serious.

And indeed, how serious are our leaders about this? They have convinced the Israeli public that it is a matter of life and death. Iran is led by a madman, a new Hitler, a sick anti-Semite, an obsessive Holocaust-denier. If he got his hands on a nuclear bomb, he would not hesitate for a moment to drop it on Tel Aviv and Dimona. With this sword hanging over our heads, this is no time for trivial matters, such as the Palestinian problem and the occupation. Everyone who raises the Palestinian question in a meeting with our leaders is immediately interrupted: Forget this nonsense, let's talk about the Iranian bomb!!

But Obama and his people turn the argument around: if this is an existential danger, they say, please draw the conclusions. If this matter endangers the very existence of Israel, sacrifice the West Bank settlements on this altar. Accept the Arab League peace offer, make peace with the Palestinians as quickly as possible. That will ease our situation in Iraq and Afghanistan and free our forces. Also, Iran would have no more pretext for war with Israel. The masses of the Arab world would not support it anymore.

And the conclusion: If a new Jewish neighborhood in East Jerusalem is more important to you than the Iranian bomb, the matter is clearly not really so critical for you. And that, with all due modesty, is my opinion, too.

THE DAY before yesterday a correspondent of Israel's popular Channel 2 called me and asked, in a shocked voice: "Is it true that you have given an interview to the Iranian news agency?

"That's true," I told her. The agency mailed me some questions about the political situation, and I answered.

"Why did you do this?" she asked/accused.

"Why not?" I replied. That was the end of the conversation.

And indeed, why not? True, Ahmadinejad is a repulsive leader. I hope that the Iranians will get rid of him, and assume that this will happen sooner or later. But our relations with Iran do not depend on one single person, whoever he may be. They go back to ancient times and were always friendly - from the time of Cyrus until the time of Khomeini (whom we provided with arms to fight the Iraqis.)

In Israel, the portrayal of Iran nowadays is a caricature: a primitive, crazy country, with nothing on its mind but the destruction of the Zionist state. But it suffices to read a few good books about Iran (I would recommend William Polk's "Understanding Iran") which describe one of the oldest civilized countries in the world, which has given birth to several great empires and made a remarkable contribution to human culture. It has an old and proud tradition. Some scholars believe that the Jewish religion was profoundly influenced by the ethical teachings of Zoroaster (Zarathustra).

Whatever the rantings of Ahmadinejad, the real rulers of the country, the clerics, conduct a cautious and sober policy, and have never attacked another country. They have many important interests, and Israel is not among them. The idea that they would sacrifice their own glorious homeland in order to destroy Israel is ludicrous.

The simple truth is that there is no way to prevent the Iranians from acquiring a nuclear bomb. Better to think seriously about the situation that would be created: a balance of terror like the one between India and Pakistan, the elevation of Iran to the rank of a regional power, the need to start a sober dialogue with it.

But the main conclusion is: to make peace with the Palestinian people and the entire Arab world, in order to draw the rug from under any Iranian posture of defending them from us.
(c) 2010 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom






Why We Hate The Duke Blue Devils
By David Sirota

With the beginning of the ever-optimistic spring season, the television is delivering yet another thrilling college hoops clinic, meaning it's time for us to gulp down our annual swig of Haterade - specifically, the blue-tinted kind. Once again, Duke basketball is upon us, and analyzing the root cause of widespread Blue Devil enmity has now become a Kremlinology-like sub-specialty among the sports cognoscenti.

Some, like ESPN's Bill Simmons, suggest that Duke is loathed because it supposedly gets preferential treatment - i.e., better bracket placement - from NCAA officials. Columnist Paul Wachter goes further, asserting that Duke foes believe the team unduly "gets all the press and all the calls." Meanwhile, NBC's Mike Celizic proffers the mishmash hypothesis: "Haters think the Devils' fans are arrogant snots, that the coach is a pinch-faced biddy and that few of the players are NBA-bound."

Having grown up in Philadelphia during the city's championship-less dark ages, I've developed a particular expertise in (and appreciation for) such virulent sports resentment - and in the Great Duke Debate, I side with The Nation's Dave Zirin. Combine all the leading explanations, add in Duke's status as an upper-crust, ultra-expensive private school, and I subscribe to his theory that says our penchant for hating the Blue Devils reflects America's larger, more complex relationship with privilege.

This makes sociopolitical sense. A country founded on anti-royalism and defined by anti-aristocrat political rhetoric will naturally profess disgust for, say, Ivy League presidential candidates and incumbent congressmen - just as it will loudly claim to despise Duke basketball (and Yankee baseball and Cowboy football and ... you get the point). In short, purporting to abhor inequality, advantage and dynasty has long been as red-bloodedly patriotic as loving mom, adoring apple pie, and, yes, booing teams like the Blue Devils - teams that seem to wear their privilege on their jerseys.

And yet, evidence suggests our righteous inveighing against privilege is depressingly shallow - and possibly fraudulent. Note this recent New York Daily News report:

"When considering why Duke was conveniently placed on a fast track to (the Final Four by NCAA bracket makers), the power of the Blue Devils as a TV attraction must be factored into the equation," wrote the paper, adding that simply put, "Duke has a history of juicing TV ratings."

This cannot be explained away as a mere product of Duke's alumni fan base or the watch-em-because-we-hate-em crowd. Those die-hard audiences, however passionate, are too small to account for such inflated national viewership figures.

We can hence conclude that a large segment of basketball fans who say they detest Duke - and who may consciously believe they detest Duke - actually secretly or subconsciously adore it and its privilege.

Which, again, makes sociopolitical sense. As populist as America's political pablum is, and as much as our liberal and conservative protests perennially berate elites, we typically put one of those elites (Ivy League or otherwise) in the White House, almost always re-elect our money-privileged incumbents and even vote for those incumbents' progeny based exclusively on their dynastic surnames - just like we reward the Blue Devils (and Yankees and Cowboys) with higher TV ratings.

Of course, perhaps this moment will shift the paradigm - after all, sports, the economy and, well, everything are so deeply and grotesquely stratified these days that maybe a backlash is in the offing.

Maybe audiences finally become more interested in the NCAA's up-from-the-bootstraps underdogs. Maybe voters in the next election throw all the bums out of office. Maybe - just maybe - we start reconciling our contradictory impulses about privilege.

Then again, maybe this is just my March Madness still talking in April. But hey, it's springtime - anything's possible, right?
(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 OpenLeft.com. E-mail him at ds@davidsirota.com.






Collateral Murder In Iraq
By Amy Goodman

A United States military video was released this week showing the indiscriminate targeting and killing of civilians in Baghdad. The nonprofit news organization WikiLeaks obtained the video and made it available on the Internet. The video was made July 12, 2007, by a U.S. military Apache helicopter gunship, and includes audio of military radio transmissions.

Two Reuters employees-a journalist and his driver-were killed in the attack, along with at least eight other people, and two children were injured. The radio transmissions show not only the utter callousness of the soldiers, laughing and swearing as they kill, but also the strict procedure they follow, ensuring that all of their attacks are clearly authorized by their chain of command. The leaked video is a grim depiction of how routine the killing of civilians has become, and is a stark reminder of how necessary journalism is, and how dangerous its practice has become.

After photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen, 22, and his driver, Saeed Chmagh, 40, were killed, Reuters demanded a full investigation. Noor-Eldeen, despite his youth, had been described by colleagues as one of the pre-eminent war photographers in Iraq. Chmagh was a father of four.

The video shows a group of men in an open square in Baghdad, leading the two Reuters employees to a building nearby. Noor-Eldeen and Chmagh are shown, each carrying a camera with a telephoto lens. A U.S. soldier in the helicopter says: "OK, we got a target 15 coming at you. It's a guy with a weapon." There is much back and forth between two helicopters and ground troops in armored vehicles nearby:

"Have five to six individuals with AK-47s. Request permission to engage."

"Roger that. Uh, we have no personnel east of our position. So, uh, you are free to engage. Over."

The helicopter circles around, with the cross hairs squarely in the center of the group of about eight men. WikiLeaks and its partner for this story, the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service, added subtitles to the video, as well as arrows indicating the Reuters employees.

Sustained automatic-weapon fire erupts, and most of the men are killed instantly. Noor-Eldeen runs away, and the cross hairs follow him, shooting nonstop, until he falls, dead.

The radio transmission continues, "All right, hahaha, I hit 'em ..." and then, "Yeah, we got one guy crawling around down there. ..."

Chmagh, seriously wounded, was dragging himself away from the other bodies. A voice in the helicopter, seeking a rationale to shoot, said: "Come on, buddy. All you gotta do is pick up a weapon. ... If we see a weapon, we're gonna engage."

A van pulled up, and several men, clearly unarmed, came out and lifted Chmagh, ostensibly to carry him to medical care. The soldiers on the Apache sought and received permission to "engage" the van and opened fire, tearing apart the front of the van and killing the men. The weapon used was a 30-millimeter machine gun, used to pierce armor. With everyone in sight apparently dead, U.S. armored vehicles moved in. When a vehicle drove over Noor-Eldeen's corpse, an observer in the helicopter said, laughing, "I think they just drove over a body." The troops discovered two children in the van, who had miraculously survived. One voice on the military radio requests permission to evacuate them to a U.S. military hospital. Another voice commands them to hand over the wounded children to Iraqi police for delivery to a local clinic, ensuring delayed and less-adequate treatment.

The U.S. military inquiry into the killings cleared the soldiers of any wrongdoing, and Reuters' Freedom of Information requests for the video were denied. Despite the Pentagon's whitewash, the attack was brutal and might have involved a war crime, since those removing the wounded are protected by the Geneva Conventions. WikiLeaks says it obtained the video "from a number of military whistle-blowers." Wikileaks.org, founded in late 2006 as a secure site for whistle-blowers to safely release documents, has come under attack from the U.S. and other governments.

WikiLeaks has broken numerous stories and has received awards. It and members of the Icelandic Parliament are working together to make Iceland a world center of investigative journalism, putting solid free speech and privacy protections into law. The words of legendary journalist I.F. Stone still hold true: "Governments lie." Because of that, we need courageous journalists and media workers, like Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh, and we need whistle-blowers and news organizations that will carefully protect whistle-blowers' identities while bringing their exposes to public scrutiny.
(c) 2010 Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!," a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 750 stations in North America. She is the co-author of "Standing Up to the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times," recently released in paperback.







Help Fight The Stupidity

DFAS is one of the many obscure government agencies you never hear anything about - unless and until the officials in charge do something stupid.

So, here comes stupid. Defense Finance and Accounting Services, a Pentagon agency, has an office in Cleveland that writes and dispenses the paychecks of U.S. military personnel - including the paycheck of one commander-in-chief named Barack Obama. It's routine, low-key work, but DFAS suddenly popped into the news recently because at least 62 of its Cleveland employees have received termination notices.

Were they stealing, doing poor work, or maybe drawing silly faces on Obama's monthly paycheck? No, they were doing nothing wrong and were even getting job performance ratings of "exceptional." Their offense was merely that the national economic crisis has squeezed them pretty hard, causing them to fall behind on some of their bills. It turns out that DFAS monitors employees' credit reports and deems a bad one grounds for dismissal!

This is... well, stupid. Taking away their paychecks is not going to help them pay off debts to improve their credit scores. One well-rated employee who was suspended after 17 years at DFAS for owing $6,000 on his credit card and hospital bills, notes that, "Cleveland is a very depressed area, it's not like you can get another job." Another with a $6,500 debt says simply: "We're trying to deal with everyday challenges, to keep a roof over our head and put food on the table."

Meanwhile, Wall Street bankers who plunged our nation into deep debt and forced working folks to bail them out still have their jobs and are strutting around with fresh, multimillion-dollar bonuses. The good news is that the Cleveland employees are fighting the stupidity. To keep up and join the fight, connect with www.afgelocal3283.org.
(c) 2010 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.







Politics As Unusual
By Randall Amster J.D., Ph.D.

The kaleidoscopic gyrations of current events continue to create a dizzying array of patterns and hues, to the point where it has become almost impossible to discern either firm ideological reference points or consistent political philosophies. Now, we have the so-called left escalating wars and privatizing health care, while the erstwhile right is out breaking windows in a fit of anti-corporate and anti-government mania. The irony here is palpable; the dangers are real and the mainstream media is laughing all the way to the bank. This is the "new normal" of our politics in America, where black is white and left is right and may the better-funded side win.

To take an example uppermost on people's minds right now, consider health care reform (if it can be called that) and the vitriolic reaction to it from some quarters. One point that has escaped much notice in all the furor is how the vituperative right-wing response, which includes not-so-veiled threats and actual property destruction, has somehow managed simultaneously to make the Democrats look comparatively sane and their corporate giveaway health bill seem more palatable in the process. You can almost hear the tape playing in some moderates' minds: "If those FOX-watching kooks are that up in arms (literally) about this, then maybe it's not that bad after all."

This is the danger when demagoguery replaces principle and sloganeering and agitprop supplant dialogue and alternatives. The political right has succumbed to the tendency toward becoming a fringe movement precisely because it has turned into a caricature of itself by embracing vapid standard-bearers like Sarah Palin and scrupulously avoiding any new ideas or constructive counterproposals. And this just plays straight into the hands of opportunistic Democrats, who for their part have cleverly adopted many of the right's platforms and now occupy an ostensible political center that could hold sway for the foreseeable future.

Again, look no further than health care for evidence of this cagey Democratic ploy. The bill that was just passed, that so-called "socialist government takeover" of our lives, was actually a Republican-inspired piece of legislation that should have been a bipartisan no-brainer. Richard Nixon supported employer mandates in the 1970s, the Heritage Foundation has advocated individual mandates and both Mitt Romney and Scott Brown backed the requirement that people must purchase insurance coverage while serving as Massachusetts state lawmakers, with the former even calling it "a personal responsibility principle."

Yet now, despite its strong Republican pedigree, that aspect of the bill in particular has touched off a mounting "don't tread on me" backlash that has the potential to spawn more reactionary violence in the days ahead. In this manner, we may be experiencing an ironic scenario in which the right has embraced a revolutionary posture against its own platform, which can only become an express path to self-consumptive oblivion.

But wait! The right lives on, only now they're calling themselves Democrats instead of Republicans. From passing the conservatives' own health care bill and propping up Wall Street to expanding adventurist wars and Big Brother homeland policies, the Obama-led Democrats have done a fair impression of Bush-Cheney so far. Despite the soaring rhetoric and feel-good potential inherent in Obama's ascent, one would be hard-pressed to locate even a single meaningful progressive act taken by our charismatic president and his fledgling administration.

The true genius in this - a tack begun in earnest during the Bill Clinton years - is a form of political cannibalism, whereby the rightward movement of the Democrats serves to: (a) push the Republicans further to the right and thus into the extinction-bound fringes, (b) allow the Democrats to please the same masters as the neocons did so as to retain financial backing and reify the true powerholders and (c) effectively dismantle the political left with the knowledge that most of them will hold their nose and back the Democrats when push comes to shove, especially if the only viable electoral alternative is the far-right freakout faction.

No matter your inclinations, this is surely some well-played (albeit surreal) realpolitik, and while it does seem quite cynical on many levels we can still admire the theatrics. In an era where principles are passť, all sorts of unusual outcomes become possible - with the right packaging, of course. Agents of change can slip seamlessly into office as extenders of the status quo. Forced-choice corporate health insurance is coded as a form of socialism, despite lacking any actual social component. Movement tactics and language most often associated with progressive aims like civil rights, environmentalism and anti-corporate globalization are now deployed for tortured-logic purposes of taking back government so that it can be immediately handed over to the free market and, thus, keep America true to its original principles of liberty (to enslave) and justice for all (some, actually).

Meanwhile, "green" proposals include a new generation of nuclear power plants and a market-based approach to emissions that could further solidify the inherent inequalities of who gets to pollute and who is most affected by it. Wars expand under the tutelage of antiwar candidates cum representatives and constitutional protections continue to shrivel at the behest of administrators brought in on a tide of "restoring rights" rhetoric. And so on.

It's a confounding era in which the unusual has become the usual and the society of the spectacle is in full force. I'm not inclined to offer bold pronouncements about what is to be done, although one can hear the groundswell of talk about third parties coming from many corners. More fundamentally, and in the spirit of nonviolent action, a nascent movement based initially on withdrawal of participation seems to be percolating in the margins. Local initiatives around food, education, health care and other "public goods" are being experimented with nearly everywhere, yet exist under the radar of news and politics alike.

Even more to the point, breaking out of the standard binary patterns of thought and practice - in which a flawed "enemy of my enemy ..." and "us versus them" zero-sum logic pervades - could in fact offer the prospect of working across lines of apparent division despite the best attempts of the power elite to keep us divided and conquered. This might even hold promise toward establishing a shared sense of "people power" that views none as adversaries and all as part of a common humanity. It may seem quixotic, but frankly no more so than hoping that the same destructive patterns now in place will somehow bring about a positive result.

It has often been said that "the personal is political," but today we might consider inverting that mantra and rendering our politics as personal instead. Indeed, recent events have demonstrated, yet again, that politics are simply too important to be left to the politicians.
(c) 2010 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).








Federal Court Ruling Threatens Internet Freedoms
By James Donahue

It appeared at first blush to be an almost insignificant matter involving a disagreement between a small company that wanted to offer a service that allowed exchanges of full-length movies via the Internet.

That company, BitTorrent, and the Federal Communications Commission which ruled in favor of BitTorrent's operations, found themselves facing litigation by broadband giant Comcast.

Comcast argued in its lawsuit in a District of Columbia federal court that broadband providers are spending billions of dollars on their networks and should have the right to sell and manage just who can buy the service and how it will be used. The corporation was especially concerned about the BitTorrent plan to hog volumes of Internet capacity via the exchange of full length films.

As anyone that downloads and views such films via the Internet knows, it takes a lot of memory and some very high-speed computer equipment to do this successfully.

While we can agree with the Comcast argument, the court ruling also appears to have stripped away the power of the FCC to regulate broadband and assure free expression of the arts and information via the Internet. What is alarming is that it appears to have put big business interests in control of who can use the Internet service and what it can or cannot be used for.

And to paraphrase Shakespeare: There lies the rub.

While most people might believe that major corporations like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon Communications, that provide most of the broadband services in the United States, would not care about the content of individual Internet web sites, we believe the court has opened the door for serious trouble.

Indeed, big business interests are very interested in the content that appears in many of the opinion web sites, and will not hesitate to switch off sites that publish the work of good investigative journalism if the stories embarrass the wrong people or expose wrong-doing in certain high places.

From the way some of our government leaders behaved during the Christian oriented Bush years, we believe a Bible-thumping executive in a corporation like Comcast might even make the decision to disconnect all porn and/or art sites that display the nude human body from Internet viewers. Hasn't something like that just happened in China?

Just after 9-11, when President Bush and his military advisors were planning a military attack on Afghanistan, we published a strong commentary advising against such a move. We suggested, instead, that the United States send a small and specialized team of commandos into the area to seek out Osama bin Laden and his gang, arrest or dispose of them in the most efficient way possible, and be done with it. We felt then, as we still do today, that attacking an entire country because of the act of a terrorist group operating within that country and not sanctioned by the Afghan government, was the wrong approach. As it has turned out, it appears that we were right.

After that story appeared, the web host we were using shut off access to our web site. Attempts to contact the web host went unanswered. We were given no explanation for the blockage. The site remained in limbo for weeks. In the end we were forced to contract with a new web host and start all over. We even lost our domain name over that affair. The name was available on the open market but the price was so steep we refused to pay the price.

That is an example of the kind of sabotage that even a web host can cause if someone in that business does not agree with what we are writing and publishing. The 9-11 attack created a strange web of fear and paranoia throughout the nation that lasted for months before people began thinking rationally again. Anyone questioning anything less than a military attack on those responsible for what happened was considered unpatriotic and even suspected as a terrorist in disguise.

We have watched the American media crumble in recent years from the giants who once served as watchdogs of government and military chicanery and perversion to the strange limp-wristed characters now hanging out in press rooms, waiting for the next news release from hired press secretaries. Helen Thomas may have be the last of the old breed of great American journalists who still dares to ask presidents the embarrassing question that nobody else dares to bring up.

With television news stations like Fox News and Rupert Murdock's growing chain of newspapers distorting the information fed to the American people, and other news outlets resorting to more feature reporting than solid news delivery, open access to the Internet has become more important than ever.

Many of us have considered the Internet the last bastion of freedom for people all over the world. Yet with the Chinese government attempting to control what the Chinese people read and see on the web, and with this new federal court ruling that appears to strip the FCC of its ability to maintain the Internet as a free communication system, there is growing concern that even this outlet of information is about to be controlled.

Once a government controls the exchange of information, it controls the minds of the people. For a perfect example of this, look at what has happened in North Korea.
(c) 2010 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.






Obama's Lies About Iran
By Margaret Kimberley

The Peace Prize winner in the White House continues to beat the drums of war with Iran, in perfect synch with the corporate media orchestra. "The New York Times was made privy to what has been called a 'parlor game,' of 'Imagining an Israeli Strike on Iran'" - apparently in the spirit of the old motivational slogan, "If you can conceive it, you can achieve it."

Threats both subtle and not so subtle were constantly made against Iran during the presidency of George W. Bush. Beginning with the infamous "Axis of Evil" speech, a campaign of threats began and a bevy of lies were told claiming that Iran threatened Americans' very lives.

Iran's nuclear power capability is used to keep us frightened beyond all reason. That nation's domestic turmoil wrought by last year's disputed presidential election has also been used as proof that Iran is a terrorist state, or a "state sponsor of terror" or whatever new terms can be invented to make Americans believe that war is a necessity.

The Obama administration has once again taken up where the Bush administration left off, but in a far more clever way. In September 2009, with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy by his side, Obama announced that the Iranians had a nuclear enrichment facility in the city of Qum. Brown and Sarkozy played their roles perfectly, exclaiming in equally hysterical tones that Iran is up to something nefarious and must be stopped. What the press didn't reveal was that the Iranians themselves, not the United States government, announced the facility's existence just a few days earlier.

The corporate media have joined in on the side of our government, guaranteeing access for their reporters and Pulitzer prizes in their future. The New York Times was made privy to what has been called a "parlor game," of "Imagining an Israeli Strike on Iran." The ties between corporate media and the highest levels of government have never been clearer. This game, this plan for the death of thousands of human beings, is clearly on the drawing board for the Obama administration and the New York Times and its ilk will be among the biggest cheer leaders.

The drum beat of lies continue on a daily basis. Shahram Amiri is an Iranian nuclear scientist who disappeared while on pilgrimage to Mecca in June 2009. Iran accused the United States of abducting him, a claim which was vehemently denied for months but which was very recently confirmed as being true. Now the CIA admits that Amiri is in United States custody and claim that he defected willingly. The degree of willingness which resulted in his presence in the United States should be accepted with the same grain of salt as any other claims about his country. So far it appears that Iran tells the truth and our own government tells lies.

The latest administration claim is that the members of the United Nations Security Council are united in applying more sanctions against Iran. China has so far been reluctant to bend to America's will. Now the Obama administration claims to have Chinese support in applying even more sanctions against Iran. Like the claims of non-involvement in the "defection" of Amiri, these claims may yet prove to be specious. Even if true, the degree of arm-twisting from Obama must be considerable if the Chinese reverse course.

"China has so far been reluctant to bend to America's will."


Escalator in Tehran metro.

Much of Iran's splendid infrastructure will be turned to smoking rubble after an Israeli-American attack. With hypocrites running Washington, and a prostituted media to provide cover for their lies, the American people are robbed of the ability to understand and mobilize against such international crimes.

Nearly ten years ago the Bush administration went through the same awful game, with Iraq as its target. Now the Peace Prize administration is engaging in the same tactics. Iran is blamed for everything except bad weather. Admiral Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, blames Iran for "providing some assistance to insurgents in Afghanistan." Iran has nukes, helps insurgents and wants to steal your first-born child, too.

Barack Obama appears to be more intent on making good on threats against Iran than George W. Bush ever was. Bush did not make the same efforts of applying pressure on European governments and on the Security Council to back additional sanctions, the first precursor to war. He didn't invite New York Times reporters to take part in war game simulations. No, it is Obama who will instigate a conflict that the much-hated Bush would not.

When it happens, when Barack Obama appears on television speaking in the most serious tones about why Iranians have to die, what will we say? What will black Americans, formerly in the vanguard of every antiwar movement, say about the slaughter? What will all progressives say about an awful crime against humanity?

We can only hope that the United States and Israel have under estimated the Iranians ability to defend themselves. If they or anyone else on this earth, is expecting an outcry from the American people or its media, they will be sorely disappointed.
(c)2010 Margaret Kimberley's "Freedom Rider" column appears weekly in the Black Agenda Report. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail.







The Silence Of The Liberal Lambs
Outrage at Outliers, Hosannas for State Crime
By Chris Floyd

Charles Davis (via Jon Schwarz) has an incisive take on the high fluttery flail induced in our imperial courtiers by the latest Tea Party tantrums. Davis demolishes a piece in The Nation by progressive paladin Maria Harris-Lacewell, in which she waxes lyrical -- not to nonsensical -- about the great threat to "the legitimacy of the state" posed by Tea Partiers disrespecting our elected officials. These acts -- spitting, swearing, insulting, shouting, etc. -- which might have been considered legitimate expressions of citizen anger (or at least good clean fun) if directed at, say, George Dubya or Dick Nixon, are now to be regarded as -- I kid you not -- "an act of sedition" when aimed at the ruling party.

It's this kind of thing that gives insipid sycophancy a bad name. But Davis is on the case:

Now, considering that U.S. government imprisons more of its own citizens than any other in the history, with 25 percent of the world's prisoners; that it has more military bases in more countries than any previous empire in history, and has killed millions of people from Iraq to Vietnam; and that its current head, Barack Obama, is openly targeting for extrajudicial killing Americans and foreigners alike, one might ask: why is a liberal magazine so concerned about this state's legitimacy?

Or as Thoreau put it (in a quote that is pretty much the slogan for this blog): "How does it become a man to behave toward this American government to-day? I answer that he cannot without disgrace be associated with it."

Davis is right to draw attention to Obama's astonishingly brazen claim of arbitrary power over the life and death of every person in the world, including American citizens. This is perhaps his most atrocious act of "continuity" with his despised and criminal predecessor. But unlike Bush, Obama has not been hugger-mugger about this assertion of world-engulfing authoritarianism, dribbling it out piecemeal in nods and winks, secret directives, cunning leaks and oblique references. No, he sent his National Intelligence Director, Dennis Blair, to proclaim the president's universal license to kill in open testimony before Congress. Just a few weeks ago, the intelligence poo-bah told the House Intelligence Committee (my, my, so much "Intelligence" around town these days, and so few brains) that Americans (and everyone else) could be killed -- without charge, arrest, trial or defense -- by the U.S. government if said government decides -- secretly, of course -- that the target poses "a threat" of some kind. This assertion of arbitrary power beyond the dreams of even the maddest Roman emperor was greeted with absolute silence by the great and good of the constitutional American republic. No thunderous editorials, no outraged demonstrations -- just nods of acquiescence and indifference.

(Odd that the Tea Partiers -- so het up about encroachments on their liberty -- don't spit about this kind of thing. But then again, a good many of them crave strong-man rule, a tough guy who will 'do what it takes' without fussing about a bunch of namby-pamby rules. They just don't like one of those darkies wielding it.)

But as Davis notes, whatever small, or nascent, or possibly potential threat that the frothier fringe of marginal militants might pose, it is the gargantuan crimes now being committed by our militarist state that we should fear, and resist:

[C]olor me unimpressed with the argument that I have more to fear from the talk radio right than I do the incarcerating-and-assassinating state. ... In addition to the hundreds killed without so much as a show trial by hellfire missiles since the glorious advent of The Liberal Ascendancy, agents of the U.S. government have been implicated in several headline-grabbing atrocities, the latest of which involved the pre-dawn slaying of a pair of pregnant women and a teenage girl. That female civilians are being killed at a level on par with Afghan males is no doubt being hailed in the halls of Brookings as a feminist triumph, but it's more troubling to me than the idea of some people questioning the legitimacy of the perpetrators' employer.

Perhaps they shouldn't just be ignored, but until Glenn Beck's followers kill two dozen people in a remote village, I'm going to spend most of my time focusing on those with control over the tanks and nuclear weapons. And rather than seeking to bolster the state and reinforce the idea of some mythical, mystical social contract, I just might seek to undermine this government, so far as I can, for as long as it continues enriching a politically connected corporate elite while imprisoning and enlisting the rest of its population, no matter how "duly elected" our politicians might be as a result of the sham two-party electoral system. When political leaders are engaged in senseless war and widespread human rights abuses -- and the occupation of Afghanistan and the U.S. prison system at home and abroad qualify -- the person of conscience's duty is not to the state but to justice, which usually means opposing the state and questioning its presumed legitimacy.

But you can be sure that most of our conscience-laden progressives will be more upset about Obama's move to open up vast tracts of coastal waters to oil drilling than his intensification of the wars of dominion on the imperial frontiers. (Obama's oil caper is yet another example where he is treading farther rightward than even Dubya dared to go. But Arthur Silber, among others, nailed this long ago, back during the campaign: Obama's more presentable persona will allow him to entrench and expand the militarist-corporatist system far more effectively than any bumbling, bellicose right-winger could.)

One should never dismiss the "yearning for fascism" that is abroad in the country, of course, a fell and growing mood that Chris Hedges describes so well here. Hedges also locates one of the root causes of this yearning: the complete and utter collapse of the 'left' (using that term very broadly to mean alternatives to the militarist-corporatist imperial system), and its eager co-option by one of the principal pillars of that system: the Democratic Party. As Hedges notes:

The Democrats and their liberal apologists are so oblivious to the profound personal and economic despair sweeping through this country that they think offering unemployed people the right to keep their unemployed children on their nonexistent health care policies is a step forward. They think that passing a jobs bill that will give tax credits to corporations is a rational response to an unemployment rate that is, in real terms, close to 20 percent. They think that making ordinary Americans, one in eight of whom depends on food stamps to eat, fork over trillions in taxpayer dollars to pay for the crimes of Wall Street and war is acceptable. They think that the refusal to save the estimated 2.4 million people who will be forced out of their homes by foreclosure this year is justified by the bloodless language of fiscal austerity. The message is clear. Laws do not apply to the power elite. Our government does not work. And the longer we stand by and do nothing, the longer we refuse to embrace and recognize the legitimate rage of the working class, the faster we will see our anemic democracy die ... If we do not embrace this outrage and distrust as our own it will be expressed through a terrifying right-wing backlash.

But to head off this backlash, we must focus on the system that is producing this miasma of chaos, anger, anxiety and hate -- a system that is teaching its people, by example, that violence, force and lawlessness are glorious and worthy, are, in fact, legitimate. Hedges quotes Cynthia McKinney on this point:

I am a child of the South. Janet Napolitano tells me I need to be afraid of people who are labeled white supremacists but I was raised around white supremacists. I am not afraid of white supremacists. I am concerned about my own government. The Patriot Act did not come from the white supremacists, it came from the White House and Congress. Citizens United did not come from white supremacists, it came from the Supreme Court.

The War Machine -- and the Democrats' avid fealty to it -- is at the corroded heart of the matter. But this love of war (as long as it is visited on other people, far away) is not confined to the ruling elite alone. And this is one reason why even if the inchoate anger expressed by Tea Partiers and others could be harnessed and directed at its proper targets (many of whom, of course, are happily stoking this misdirected rage to keep it away from their own golden nest eggs), it would still fall short of transforming the system. Yes, you could, for example, put our crooked banksters on trial for fraud; but if they were simply replaced by new bankers who, even with heavier regulations and restrictions, still financed the War Machine, then the same corrupting cycle of blood money and bellicosity would rage on unabated. Until Americans drop their addiction to war -- which is inextricably bound up with the widespread, bipartisan cult of exceptionalism -- there will be no stability, no security, no peace, no prosperity for ordinary people, neither at home or abroad. As I noted here last year:

This is the system we have. It's right out in the open. There is a deep-rooted expectation - and not, alas, just among the elite -- that the world should jump to America's tune, by force if necessary. And when, for whatever reason, some part of the world does not jump - or bump and grind - to the Potomac beat, then it becomes a "problem" that must be "solved," by one means or another, with, of course, "all options on the table," all the time. And whether these "problems" are approached with blunt, bullying talk or a degree of cajolery and pious rhetoric, the chosen stance is always backed up with the ever-present threat of military action, up to and including the last of those "options" that always decorate the table: utter annihilation.

This is not even questioned, must less debated or challenged. America's right to intervene in the affairs other nations by violent force (along with a constant series of illegal covert activities) - and to impose an empire of military plantations across the length and breadth of the entire planet - is the basic assumption, the underlying principle, the fervently held faith shared by both national parties, and the entire elite Establishment. And if you want to have the necessary instruments to maintain such a state of hegemony, then you must indeed structure your society and economy around war.

Many nations - all vanished now - have done this. The Roman Empire was one. Nazi Germany was another. At great cost to the economic, social and political life of ordinary Germans, Adolf Hitler geared the state to produce the war machine necessary to assert the dominance in world affairs which he felt was Germany's natural right. One of his chief aims was to procure enough "living space" and natural resources in Eastern Europe to compete with America's growing economic might. The Holocaust of European Jews was, for all its horror, just a preliminary to the greater "ethnic cleansing" to come. As historian Adam Tooze reminds us in The Wages of Destruction, the Nazis had drawn up detailed plans for the extermination - by active mass murder and deliberate starvation - of up to 40 million East Europeans.

Today, we all recognize the inhuman madness behind this hegemonic ambition. We shake our heads and say, "Whatever evils we may be accused of, we have never and would never do such a thing." Perhaps. But leaving aside for a moment the millions - millions - of African slaves and Native Americans who died in order to procure the living space and natural resources of North and South America for European peoples, it is clear that most Americans - the elite above all - can easily countenance the deaths of, say, more than one million innocent Iraqis, or upwards of three million Southeast Asians, without any disturbance in their sense of national righteousness, their bedrock belief that the United States has the natural right, even the duty, to assert its hegemony over world affairs.

Unless there is some profound shift in American consciousness, of the sort that Martin Luther King Jr. was trying to effect in his last years, all of this will continue -- even if we have genuine health care reform, genuine rescue of those ravaged by our financial sharks, genuine environmental protection, and so on.

But of course we will not have these "genuines" in any case -- as long as those who profess to oppose the corporatist-militarist system simultaneously support the very people who are directing it. Again, as we noted here:

....the constantly asserted vow to keep the nuclear option "on the table" at all times means that every single action or policy toward a "problem" nation carries with it the explicit threat to kill millions of people - to outdo the Holocaust in a matter of minutes.

Can one really look at such plans and attitudes, and at the towering, Everest-like mountain of corpses produced by American polices - just in the last generation - and say that there is not also a form of inhuman madness behind this hegemonic ambition as well? Is this really a system that one can be associated with honorably in any way? What should we think about a person who wants to lead such a system, who wants to take hold of the driving wheel of the war machine, to use it, to expand it, to accept all of its premises, to keep all of its horrific "options" forever on the table, to feed it and gorge it and coddle it and appease it at every turn, while millions of their own people sink further into degradation and diminishment?

Shouldn't someone who knowingly, willingly, eagerly bent all of their energies toward taking power in such a system instantly and irretrievably forfeit our regard and support? Should we really give such a "leader" the benefit of the doubt, cut him some slack, be ready to praise him when he or his government momentarily behaves in a normal, rational or legal manner? Should we grimly insist that he is the only choice we have, that his heart is probably in the right place, and that all we can do is try and cajole him into being "better"?

As we began with Davis, let's give him the last word:

The proper attitude toward a criminal government is not deference and respect, however much some at The Nation might love a smooth-talking Democrat, but defiance and rebellion -- of the non-violent variety.

(c) 2010 Chris Floyd







Black White-Black
By Belacqua Jones

Patriotism walks a thin line. It is invaluable for bringing the national bile to a bubble, but doesn't dare have this passion boil over into a blind worship that is directed towards the Homeland. If too much attention is paid to the object of adulation it is only a matter of time before the defects of the idol come into focus. Were the proles to raise their adoring eyes towards the temple of the Homeland they would soon notice the three running sores on Liberty's face: Wall Street, the Beltway and the Pentagon. No hatred sears like the hatred directed towards a falling idol.

What is needed is a diversion that redirects their attention outwards towards the void that is the world of the Other. And this diversion is a Manichean worldview. We're good; they're bad! With this mindset, one achieves the euphoric serenity of the fool. Manichaeism is the opiate for those who are numb of nut and dead of brain.

A belief in an absolute truth frees an individual from critical thinking, analysis, changing the mind, or admitting mistakes. There's comfort for the individual in the feeling surrounded on all sides by evil sonsofbitches. It gives life meaning and direction; it justifies the basest impulses. The function of the well-managed State is to glow white in a black and white world. If a person doesn't glow white, they're black by definition. There is no room for grey in this manly spectrum.

Under this scheme, the masses can worship the State with impunity if they believe they live in a world surrounded by the forces of darkness. The State can do whatever it pleases as long as it keeps this bright light of blackness at bay. People would much rather be screwed by good than by evil. A pious shaft is a better fit than an impious one. And if they believe in the purity of the State they become willing victims.
(c) 2010 Case Wagenvoord. Some years ago, Case Wagenvoord turned off the tube and picked up a book. He's been trouble ever since. His articles have been posted at The Smirking Chimp, Countercurrents and Issues & Alibis. When he's not writing or brooding, he is carving hardwood bowls that have been displayed in galleries and shows across the country. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and two cats. His book, Open Letters to George W. Bush is available at Amazon.com. He sometimes writes under his nom de plume Belacqua Jones, this is one of those times!







Bankrupt; It's Not Just Individuals
By Mike Folkerth

What really is bankruptcy; that is, other than a word that refers to someone else's financial condition? The dictionary describes the condition of bankruptcy as; (1) Financially ruined; impoverished. (2) Totally depleted, destitute.

We often hear a familiar word such as bankruptcy without considering the limits to which that condition could apply. Bankruptcy has no bounds in our present system of finance and governance, because we the people had no interest in establishing those bounds.

Our citizens, states, cities, counties, and federal government are hopelessly overspent and overpromised. But deep down, most people figure that there is a way out that is not terribly painful. I often hear remarks that begin with, "In a country as rich as America, there is no reason for...."

That's our subconscious doing the talking because our conscious minds know better. America is the largest debtor nation on the planet! We import 70% of our fuel and approximately 100% of everything in Wal-Mart. "Rich," is not a word that comes to my mind when referring to our economic condition.

However eloquently the clear evidence is provided that bares the undeniable truth that our nation is bankrupt; our subconscious finds a way to avoid that bitter reality.

A simple sound bite from the president does the trick for many party faithful. All they need to effectively dispel the truth is to hear Mr. Obama say that now that government has been overtaken by healthcare, and now that the institutions of higher learning have nearly unlimited government funding, we will pull out of this nose dive and get back to "normal." Wow...I just saw a pig fly by!

For others, the delusion is reinforced by listening to such reassuring voices as Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, or Shawn Hannity, ranting and resonating from their radio speakers while promising that full recovery is one election away. That is, one election away if Americans can see fit to vote for the candidates who support and agree with Limbaugh, Levin, and Hannity. Yet, if the actual content of the diatribes of these modern day snake oil salesmen were carefully considered; one would find the substance to be as thin as rice paper.

In spite of of the fanfare and the endless battle between left and right, bankruptcy is bankruptcy regardless of the size of the entity. The state of bankruptcy exists when liabilities become greater than assets. In the instance of government, the assets are the taxpayers and the liabilities are the various items in the budget that government has agreed to fund with tax collection. Government is a big spender.

In an attempt to influence votes, government on both sides of the aisle promises to spend ever greater amounts of money resulting in your getting something for nothing in order to bias your opinion.

The problem comes when the well runs dry and past and future promises must all be funded by future debt. In other words the liabilities have exceeded the taxation limits of the assets. Remember, we are the assets.

Bankruptcy has yet another ugly aspect that is the true Show-Stopper; Physical Bankruptcy. All tax generating wealth, as in every single bit, is produced in some way, shape, or form by extracting value from the physical systems of matter and energy. The key word is extracting, as in, taking away from.

And, being that the physical systems of matter and energy are finite in nature, these essential elements of our economic system are then subject to physical bankruptcy. As a reminder, thus far, shipments of physical assets from outer space remain on permanent backorder.

Don't confuse individual and physical bankruptcy. When an individual takes bankruptcy, those who were owed money are merely out of luck and in most instances walk away with an empty bag. The bankrupt party is then free to rebuild their financial life without the burden of repayment.

When the physical system takes bankruptcy; everyone walks away with an empty bag.

The insistence of continuing the practice of exponential economic growth as the cornerstone of our economic underpinnings accelerates the inevitable bankruptcy of the physical system and is a fool's choice.

Physical bankruptcy is forever; and forever is a long, long time.

Make the voluntary shift to avoid the worst of the fallout from this continuing economic storm. If at all possible, form a plan to live below your means. Happiness, friends, and family are worth more than all the tangible wealth that is dangled in front of our faces daily. Give it a chance, live simple, live well.
(c) 2010 Mike Folkerth is not your run-of-the-mill author of economics. Nor does he write in boring lecture style. Not even close. The former real estate broker, developer, private real estate fund manager, auctioneer, Alaskan bush pilot, restaurateur, U.S. Navy veteran, heavy equipment operator, taxi cab driver, fishing guide, horse packer...(I won't go on, it's embarrassing) writes from experience and plain common sense. He is the author of "The Biggest Lie Ever Believed."





The Quotable Quote...



There is good news from Washington today. Congress is deadlocked and can't act.
~~~ Will Rogers ~~~








The Ongoing Torture Of Syed Fahad Hashmi
By Bill Quigley

Today in New York City, the U.S. is torturing a Muslim detainee with no prior criminal record who has not even gone to trial.

For the last almost three years, Syed Fahad Hashmi has been kept in total pre-trial isolation inside in a small cell under 24 hour video and audio surveillance. He is forced to use the bathroom and shower in full view of the video. He has not seen the sun in years. He takes his meals alone in his cell. He cannot see any other detainees and he is not allowed to communicate in any way with any prisoners. He cannot write letters to friends and he cannot make calls to anyone but his lawyer. He is prohibited from participating in group prayer. He gets newspapers that are 30 days old with sections cut out by the government. One hour a day he is taken into another confined room where he is also kept in total isolation.

Children are taught that the U.S. Constitution protects people accused of crimes. No one is to be punished unless their guilt or innocence has been decided in a fair trial. Until trial, people are entitled to the presumption of innocence. They are entitled to be defended by an attorney of their choice. And the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.

The punishment of Mr. Hashmi has been going on for years while he has been waiting for trial. In addition to the punitive isolation he is subjected to today, he was denied the attorney of his choice. He was allowed only counsel investigated and pre-approved by the government. He is not allowed to look at any translated documents unless the translator is pre-approved by the government. He is not allowed any contact with the media at all. One member of his family can visit through the heavy screen for one hour every other week unless the government takes away those visits to further punish him. The government took away his family visits for 90 days when he was observed shadow boxing in his cell and talked back to the guard who asked what he was doing. If the Constitution prohibits cruel and unusual punishment, what is the impact of forced isolation? Medical testimony presented in his case in federal court concluded that after 60 days in solitary people's mental state begins to break down. That means a person will start to experience panic, anxiety, confusion, headaches, heart palpitations, sleep problems, withdrawal, anger, depression, despair, and over-sensitivity. Over time this can lead to severe psychiatric trauma and harms like psychosis, distortion of reality, hallucinations, mass anxiety and acute confusion. Essentially, the mind disintegrates.

That is why, under international standards for human rights, extended isolation is considered a form of torture and is banned. The conditions and practices of isolation are in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the U.N. Convention against Torture, and the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

In 1995, the U.N. Human Rights Committee stated that isolation conditions in certain U.S. maximum security prisons were incompatible with international standards. In 1996, the U.N. special rapporteur on torture reported on cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment in U.S. supermax prisons. In 2000, the U.N. Committee on Torture roundly condemned the United States for its treatment of prisoners, citing supermax prisons. In May 2006, the same committee concluded that the United States should "review the regimen imposed on detainees in supermax prisons, in particular, the practice of prolonged isolation."

John McCain said his two years in solitary confinement were torture. "It crushes your spirit and weakens your resistance effectively than any other form of mistreatment." The reaction of McCain and many other victims of isolation torture were described in a 2009 New Yorker article on isolation by Atul Gawande. Gawande concluded that prolonged isolation is objectively horrifying, intrinsically cruel, and more widespread in the U.S. than any country in the world.

Who is this man? Syed Fahad Hashmi grew up in Queens and attended Brooklyn College. He became an outspoken Muslim activist. He moved to London and received a master's degree in international relations there.

Yet the federal judge hearing his case continues to approve of the forced isolation and the rest of the restrictions on this presumably innocent man.

The reason that this is allowed to continue is that Hashmi is accused of being involved with al Qaeda.

Mr. Hashmi is accused of helping al Qaeda by allowing rain gear (raincoats, ponchos and socks) that were going to Afghanistan to be stored in his Queens apartment, he allowed his cell phone to be used to contact al Qaeda supporters and he made post-arrest threatening statements.

Supporters of Fahad have demonstrated outside his jail, set up a website - www.freefahad.com and have worked for years to alert the public to his torture. Articles by Amy Goodman, Chris Hedges and Jeanne Theoharris have been written over the past several years documenting and protesting these human rights violations.

But, once accused of connections with terrorism or al Qaeda, apparently, the U.S. constitution and international human rights apparently do not apply. Torture by the U.S. is allowed. Pre-trial punishment is allowed. The presumption of innocence goes out the window. Counsel of choice is not allowed. Communication with news media not allowed.

The trial of Syed Fahad Hashmi is set for April 28, 2010 in New York. Till then he will continue to be tortured by the U.S. government whose star spangled banner proclaims it to be the land of the free and the home of the brave.
(c) 2010 Bill Quigley is legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights and a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans. He can be contacted at quigley77@gmail.com.







Did Obama Sandbag His Own Health Care Bill?
By David Michael Green

So Barack Obama got his change. Other people can even believe in it if they want. I regret to say I remain unimpressed. And that's about the nicest way I know how to put it.

In fairness, I will say two things about this bill that redound well for him. First, passing major health care legislation in America is hard. In fact, governing this country in any real respect is hard, just as the Founders intended it to be. For a century, presidents have tried and mostly failed bring some sense to health care in America. Give Obama credit for succeeding at a very tough task, where others have imploded. (Except, of course, you can call anything "health care reform", and then take credit when it passes, which is kinda what happened here. Putting a ham sandwich through Congress is not such a big thing, no matter what it's labeled.)

The other positive note about the bill concerns a good deal of its content. If you take it at face value - which may constitute a serious mistake by the time the industry vampires manage to twist and shred the restrictions supposedly imposed on them by the bill - it does seems to have some laudatory and much needed features. Even progressive critics of the legislation, if they're being fair, have to admit that adding tens of millions of people to the ranks for the insured is no small thing. Nor is blocking the disease profiteers from their most egregious practices, like refusing care to people for pre-existing conditions, or dumping those who've paid premiums for decades at precisely the moment they start making claims. These changes - if they are real and they stick - will literally improve people's lives massively, sometimes saving them altogether, and we should not hesitate to say so.

All that said, there are two problems with Obama's signature piece of legislation: What is, and what could have been.

What this bill is, at its core, is a giant gift to massive predatory corporations who are as far removed from pursuing the public interest as regressive politicians are from the human genome. That's really bad news, for at least two reasons. The first is that we as a society find ourselves, yet once again, crafting legislation to service the greedy few rather than the hundreds of millions of ordinary folk just trying to get by. You can see that pretty readily in this bill, which ties itself in knots of absurdity in order to avoid grappling with the obvious problem at the core of the world's richest country spending twice what anyone else does, only to produce one of the crappiest health care systems among developed countries. The obvious, glaring, 800 pound gorilla in the room is that we do health care as an industry in America, for the purpose of profiting investors and corporate managers, not for purposes of making people well. If you're trying to reform a badly broken system without touching its core problem, you're like an alcoholic, blaming the boss for firing you and the wife for kicking you out of the house - anything to avoid taking real responsibility for your trail of disaster.

What that means in the case of health care legislation is that you're gonna create 'exchanges', mandate purchase of private insurance, subsidize people to buy that mandated insurance, diminish existing health care programs, tax health insurance benefits, and avoid at all costs a government-run actual competitor to the wasteful and expensive private insurance programs. All in order to do reform without actually doing reform.

The second reason that passing this particular piece of legislation is especially pernicious is that it suggests to people that there can be no serious braking of corporate power anymore. The only hope (short of revolution in the streets) for countering the massive accumulation of power that the moneyed class has acquired in contemporary America is a public sector holding the ultimate trump cards. Corporations do whatever they want, and are presumed to pursue their narrow self-interest (another, more basic, formulation we need to address as well). But the reason this is tolerable, according to the historical and theoretical frame, is that they are controlled and even licensed to exist by the state. And the reason that works - again, theoretically, at least - is that the state is an instrument of the people. What we are facing today in this health care disaster is the unspoken but still profound realization that this concept - what we might describe as the Enlightenment formulation for democratic governance - has expired under the weight of private power. Put more starkly, greed has now triumphed entirely over democracy.

So Obama and the Democrats - the alleged party of the people, mind you, as opposed to those Wall Street hacks in the GOP - wrote a bill that takes a system whose fundamental flaw is the profitization of human beings' most intimate and core vulnerabilities, and they exacerbated that problem, literally forcing tens of millions of Americans to buy a grossly flawed private product they probably don't want, under peril of government-imposed penalty. If the great governance theme of our historical epoch is, as I believe it to be, the capture of the state for purposes of private enrichment, there can be no greater example than this bill. No longer content with simply using the state to aggregate the wealth of working people to facilitate its easy transfer to elites, this bill marks a frightening step further. Here we have corporate interests using the state (again, under the control of the nominal people's party, no less) to now engage in coercive 'marketing' on their behalf. A big and bold line has been crossed with this legislation, and it does not bode well for the future. Welcome to our brave new world.

Barack Obama would surely respond that politics is the art of the possible, and we progressives disappointed with his legislation are disastrously unrealistic about what can actually be accomplished in the contemporary political climate, as opposed to what we might want. But we now know for sure that Obama was never remotely interested in the progressive agenda, to the point that he made sure liberals never had a seat at any negotiating table, and even the compromise position of a public option, let alone the real progressive solution of single payer, was given away at the start of negotiations, not at the end. And with who were those negotiations held? You? Me? Dennis Kucinich? Bernie Sanders? No. They were held with the insurance industry, the pharmaceutical industry, conservative Democrats funded by those industries, and a Republican Party that never missed an opportunity to piss on the president, to the point that it went out of its way to create those opportunities when they didn't exist.

The most astonishing thing about the whole exercise, for me, has been the gross failure and raw incompetence of the White House when it came to selling health care reform. As the bill continued to sink into the miasma of putrid unpopularity last summer, buckling under a serious of monstrous lies expressed with the most profound vitriol, Obama and his team did nothing. Could these really have been the same people who ran the letter-perfect campaign of 2007-08? Could these really have been professionals who had lived through the era of Reagan and Bush 43, both of whom demonstrated so clearly how to sell a presidential agenda in our time, even one that sucked horrifically?

So you have to wonder, at the risk of descending into paranoid conspiracy theories, if this wasn't Obama's game all along. Could he have been so devious as to purposely deflate the very movement he had at his disposal, letting just enough air out of the balloon to pass a bill, but not enough to upgrade it from a minimalist corporate affair to a genuine progressive reform? Through this controlled evisceration of his own base - if that was indeed his game - Obama was able to claim the prize of health care reform, whilst simultaneously carrying forward the corporate agenda in that domain, and obliterating a nascent progressive movement rising up from the ashes of a decade of catastrophic regressive failures. A pretty impressive hat trick, if that's your game.

Is this too far-fetched a theory? Consider what we know. We know that Obama never fought for his bill until the end of the line, standing by and instead allowing it to be eviscerated. We know there was substantial public support, minimally for a public option, even though there was not a single prominent voice out there advocating for it, and yet the administration effectively torpedoed it, while claiming to be open to the possibility. We know that Obama never mobilized his own base, including his massive email database from the campaign, to fight for health care reform. We know that this is the president who took complete care of the Wall Street banks, using taxpayer dollars to bail them out, one hundred cents on the dollar. We know that he has meanwhile done nothing for the millions of non-elite Americans who are suffering badly today from layoffs and foreclosures. We know that he has populated his administration's economic team almost entirely with the same Goldman Sachs predators who have wrecked the global economy through two decades of deregulation, legalized scams, and taxpayer guaranteed reckless bets. And more. We could go on from here, but I think the point is made. Is it so far-fetched to imagine that the same person who did all these things also made a strategic decision to thread a health care policy needle by actually clipping his own wings sufficiently such that only the corporate version of supposed reform was seen as a politically viable option?

This question reminds us, inevitably, that the greater tragedy of the health care reform process is not what was, but what could have been. I confess that it probably is a bridge too far to imagine Americans today being compelled to give up their private health care plans in order to be forced onto a universal public single player plan, however sensible that would be for the country, and however obvious a choice it would be if we could go back in time to when the current system was first developing. But I don't think any such system needs to be imposed on people. Why not have simply made Medicare available to all, with subsidies for those who need financial help? People would then vote with their feet. I mean, which would you rather have: an expensive plan that provides lousy coverage, is allowed to ditch you when you actually get sick, wastes one out of every three dollars on bureaucracy, exorbitant CEO salaries and profit, and makes you spend hours on end dealing with paperwork just to get your contracted coverage, or a simple, super-efficient, rock-solid government plan, where you pick any doctor you want and get any treatment you need, no hassle, no mountain of paperwork, no questions asked, and no worries about denial of care when your life is in peril?

Like I said, people vote with their feet. You don't need so much to crush the parasitical health care insurance industry, you only need to give people a better alternative and the option to select it. Which is why, of course, even the anemic public option being floated had to be destroyed at all costs. And which is why it was, by Barack Obama just as much as the army of insurance industry lobbyists swarming Washington like a plague of angry locusts. So much for all the complete bullshit rhetoric about the free market and competition. Competition and a free market is the last thing industries want when the lobby in Washington for antitrust exemptions, subsidies, tariffs and other trade barriers. Real competition would be death. The same tea party lunatics who go to crypto-Klan rallies and complain bitterly about the inflated power of the federal government know damn well what works and what doesn't, which led some of them to scream at members of Congress last summer, "Keep your damn government hands off my Medicare!"

I have no doubt that Obama could have gotten far more than he did from this bill. Its management in Congress was embarrassing. Its marketing to the public was nearly entirely AWOL. The villainization of the genuine villains who - either for greed, power or spite - have stood in the way of literally saving some 45,000 lives per year never happened. The articulation of a civil rights-like moral clarion call demanding that America live up to its potential, and Americans to their responsibility to each other, was never sounded. The strong-arming of members of Congress to fall in line or get their asses kicked by party leadership didn't happen. The use of the bully pulpit to go over the heads of Congress and move the people to demand a little legislating in the public interest for once was nowhere to be seen. A mobilization of the huge mob of motivated and excited citizens who put Obama in the White House last year in the name of genuine change never occurred.

Given that polls show something like sixty percent support for the minimal progressive solution of a public option already just sitting there, imagine what would have happened had any of the above occurred. Imagine what would have happened if all of the above had occurred?

I suspect Barack O'Corporate imagined just that.

And I think that, far from mobilizing support for his health care bill, he made sure to sandbag it.
(c) 2010 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, www.regressiveantidote.net.





The Dead Letter Office...





Heil Obama,

Dear Staatsanwalt Southworth,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, your becoming a complete ass in the media while we get away with murder, 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 first class with ruby clusters, presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 04-15-2010. We salute you Herr Southworth, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama





Las Vegas Sun: Justice Department mulling Ensign indictment
So far Nevada Sen. John Ensign has evaded punishment for his misconduct. But his immunity may soon end
By Joe Conason

The distasteful saga of Sen. John Ensign, Republican from Nevada, adulterer and financial finagler, has been stuck in a strange state of irresolution since he confessed to an illicit romance with an aide's wife last summer. Constrained by Senate rules and customs, his colleagues say nothing, while the ridiculous Senate Ethics Committee does nothing.

Although he was forced to step down from the chairmanship of the Republican Policy Committee, few in the party leadership have criticized him or called for him to resign, even as the emerging story of Ensign's alleged financial and professional payoffs to his former lover and her family have raised questions of criminal misconduct.

The Justice Department began to probe those payoffs not long after initial reports that Ensign's parents -- wealthy owners of a casino resort in Nevada -- had given at least $96,000 to the former aide, Doug Hampton, and his wife. What the Ensigns called a "gift" might be viewed as something else by federal authorities.

But now the Las Vegas Sun reports that Justice Department officials are investigating whether Ensign and his family committed a financial crime known as "structuring." Structuring is essentially a form of money laundering -- consciously attempting to evade federal regulation and oversight by trickling out a series of smaller sums, for example, rather than one large payment.

Sun political reporter Jon Ralston says that is what he was told by "a reliable source familiar with the deliberations occurring inside the Justice Department as federal authorities in Washington try to do with Ensign what they could not do with former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens: Get their man."

The national and Washington press corps have mostly allowed Ensign to skate while skewering Charlie Rangel, Eric Massa and other Democrats, but Ralston has led the way on this wild scandal from the beginning. His assessment of the prospects for the Nevada senator and his party is blunt:

That the feds are looking at structuring as a possible crime will not surprise many old hands who have watched the sordid Ensign saga play out, morphing from a fairly grotesque he-slept-with-his-best-friend's-wife-who-was-also-his-wife's-best-friend story to a fantastically creepy tale of a senator trying to keep the cuckolded husband quiet by any means necessary, including, perhaps, structuring transactions with businesses in exchange for campaign contributions.

Maybe Ensign won't be indicted. Maybe he will resign in exchange for not being indicted. Maybe he will serve out his term or even be re-elected. Would that be any more incredible than anything else we have seen? ...

The question is how Justice might, ahem, structure a deal with Ensign. It is clear from observers -- and from those who know the thinking inside the Justice Department -- that the Stevens debacle has cast a shadow over the Ensign case.

The department is being very deliberate in assembling a case against Ensign. But Justice has a mountain of documents and e-mails that, combined with the senator's own admissions or statements in e-mails, would seem to amount to a formidable case. And last week's New York Times story, showing how Ensign's contacts with a local company (similar to several other interactions), show how far the senator was willing to go to get Hampton work, mostly while he was employed by ex-Ensign aides who had formed a lobbying/consulting firm. The structure, so to speak, is becoming more transparent all the time.

This drip-drip-drip of revelation seems to have left Ensign unfazed, like a man who is slowly drowning but believes he can rise above it -- or, perhaps, deludes himself into thinking he can walk on water. But as Republicans here and in Washington play the pathetic see-no-evil, hear-no-evil, speak-no-evil game vis-a-vis Ensign, it is becoming more obvious that their craven behavior could be self-defeating.

Ralston even suggests that the Ensign affair, if and when an indictment results, might improve the poor reelection prospects of Senate Majority Harry Reid, D-Nev., who has long cultivated a friendly working relationship with his state's junior senator. The Republican candidates seeking to oust Reid both have "foolishly" said they would welcome Ensign's support. Among those who will privately laugh when Ensign is indicted or resigns is Bill Clinton. Ensign voted to impeach Clinton, called on him to resign, and was still insisting on his moral superiority to the former president on the day that he "apologized" for the "distraction" of his extramarital affair.
(c) 2010 Joe Conason writes for The New York Observer and Salon. You may reach Joe via email at: Joe Conason







I Lived In A Car With My Teenage Daughter On The Streets Of L.A. And Survived To Write About It: Part 1
By Kay Ebeling

Being middle class, I approached becoming homeless like a problem to be solved, a project, like finding a job. If I just work every waking moment, I thought, I'll find a new place to live. But we became homeless November 2003 and it was November 2005 before we moved into our own place again. Recently I came across the notes from those first weeks after we lost our apartment in a chi-chi part of West Hollywood.

With my fifteen year old daughter, we were paying weekly rent at motels off Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards, as we raced against time, trying to find a new apartment before the move-in money we had ran out.

Finding these notes was revealing. I knew I'd made a lot of phone calls those days and these notes show it. I was up at the crack of dawn and on the phone every day, and knocking on doors.

Since 2005 I've been trying to find a way to write about the chaos of those years my teenage daughter and I were homeless in L.A., and the notes I found recently show just how erratic and frenzied those days really were, I've even scanned the notes in and uploaded them here at City of Angels 2 and you can see the growing madness in the handwriting. Most revealing is what my daughter and I discovered within days of losing our home and moving into motels, that:

There are hundreds and hundreds of agencies, nonprofits, government and private run groups, but so much of what they do is refer clients from one agency to another. The real help going on is minimal, while the hundreds of nonprofits continue to thrive, many of them to this day. In one of the notes I call these endless phone calls "the phone referral go round" where always eventually you are told to call the first agency you called, then you start calling again.

Remember these notes are from November 2003 to early Jan 2004:

************

L.A. Housing Authority 1800 731 4663

Menu item Shelter Plus Care under homeless. Left voicemail messages.

About going on STS or about Section 8 and explaining we need Homeless Plus.

Called five times as couldn't hold the 30-plus minutes each time on this phone.

Finally Left 3 messages

Housing Authority for County - Santa Fe Springs

Have 2 Shelter Plus Care of homeless programs. Get there by 1:15 (followed by a map from Hollywood to Santa Fe Springs)

FRIDAY

9 AM Call all the dailies (the nonprofits I was calling every day.

Early, before 8:30, go to PATH in person Ask for (NAME REDACTED).

Check out hotel with weekly rates on Ventura near Lankershim.

Make unmade phone calls.;

(FINISH EARLY, IT'S FRIDAY)

Call Info Line 1 800 731 4663 menu item 2, One for message, calling for Housing Plus Care Program, mother and child, both need both.

(Earlier accidentally left message about Section 8, which is another issue.) Leave two phone numbers this time.

Call Tuesday

House of Yahweh- they do interviews, first call on Tuesday at 10 AM.

Tues 12-16-03

No space available, call again later in the month. (they have small trailers, the reason they were encouraging earlier is they thought I was a lady with three kids.)

TRACK DOWN THIS GUY, (Business card of police officer I found and made this note, "these two police officers were helpful."

- Go in person to Wilcox Station to try to contact?

12.03.03 Contacted Officer (NAME REDACTED) he said for me to "Call with good results" when we get them.

December 1, 2003:

House of Yahweh, Martha said there are two sites, one in Lawndale, one in L.A. One is a shelter and one is the administrative offices where they do intakes. She said call back on Saturday, and hold lots of minutes. "Hold lots of minutes, it takes lots of time."

Calls next couple days:

M-F 9 to 5. Nope. Nope. (Rude)

No, have to call office Monday through Friday not here on Saturday.

MONDAY

Check out motel at Vineland & Ventura, weekly rates

(SINCE I am one of the thousands of adult victims of pedophile priests, I also tried different Catholic agencies. )

Catholic Worker Voice of the Faithful

SNAP

Priests Of Integrity

(DIFFERENT REDACTED NAMES)

Catholic Charities

LA City Housing Department Section 8

Office of Rent Stabilization (address on w. 15th street, go in person)

Valley shelter, 6640 Van Nuys Blvd

City of L.A. office of tenants rights,

THOUGHT I'D MADE A REAL FIND HERE:

Women's Care Cottage: 6040 Shelter, can stay ninety days. Case Managers work with you. Okay to transfer from one shelter after 90 days there to another shelter 90 days there, and then back for 90 days. "Lots of women do that," she said on the phone. Also in their office is a free laundry machine, counseling.

Waiting List is two to three months long, but can come in for a meal and a shower during office hours.

Hope Again 323 661-4004 Go in person on Sunset near Normandie (This is the agency that eventually did help us.)

Agape Mission (left message 12.8.03)

Burbank Family Services, no homeless services. Used to have it. Do have services for counseling. Fee is $26.00.

4 PM tried again to reach Shelter Plus Care. On hold at 4:20, finally left a second voice message.

Catholic Church of the Good Shepherd on Sunset gives out bag-lunches three days a week.

SNAP phone call (To regional officer for SNAP Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, one of many organizations I contacted during this period time we were on the streets.)

Sunday 11.2?:03 Notes from conversation with SNAP:

Churches? She'll send email out so people will know we are still in trouble. Suggests I get on AFDC so can get on their homeless program and apply for Section 8. Also try Voice of the Faithful as they have set up a special project for victims.

Chicago Linkup? She doesn't know anything.

There is a Catholic Worker Shelter in Santa Ana the SNAP rep can help us get into but my daughter and I have an agreement that we will never go to Orange County again, (a whole nother story).

Women's Care Cottage, PATH, and Beyond Shelter are now phone numbers on piece of paper I carry around so I could call at least once a day and check in showing we still need help.

ANOTHER WEEK OF NOTES:

"Still To Do" These places were listed with phone numbers:

L.A. Homeless Services Authority

Valley Shelter

Women's Care Cottage - You can come in and do laundry twice a week, no later than two hours before closing. There is a 2 month waiting list for the shelter. Showers available 2:30 to 5:00 PM. 5:30 on Tues and Friday. Hot meals every day at lunch time. You're welcome to come in and do laundry and eat.

Jewish Family Services (12.01.03 conversation) Made appointment and met with (NAME REDACTED)

Two possible shelters. They are the ones who told me about Women's Care Cottage. And Valley Shelter (they take you on a bus to a church, you sleep in the pews, leave first thing next morning). If you can't find shelter and still need mental health help, go to (she gave me a list of County Mental Health Clinics).

FOLLOWING WEEK:

Wednesday Musts:

Go in person: Post Office, p/u mail and fill out another yellow form per Victor from our old mail route, it's okay. Go to (NAME OF COMPANY REDACTED), check and see about work (?) (NAME) never returned last few phone calls)

9 AM Info Line Emergency check in number (REDACTED)

Call Catholic Charities again re move-in money assistance? (They say wait for HM to call back)

Per (NAME REDACTED) at Info Line (from phone call yesterday) "Call Hope Again Again, but they will only take you though, not your daughter." (Also have to bring proof of income)

Call STS: Check on status of $240.00 check I'm due for the Disney job.

You're in the "Social Service Phone Referral Go-Round" where each agency refers you to another until eventually, someone will refer you back to the first agency you called. Then you start all over again."

To Be Continued...

NOTE: In May of 2004 Hope Again bent their rules and let my daughter and me move in together, even though she was fifteen, three years younger than their minimum age. They could bend the rules because they do not take government money, so are not tied in to grant requirements.

The original notes from this story are scanned in here.
(c) 2010 Kay Ebeling is a wordsmith working in TV production in Los Angeles. Also as a free lance journalist with an active blog. Old enough to have demonstrated against the Vietnam War but still young enough to dance. For more information about Kay and her crusade against child molestation in the Catholic Church go to her blog site.



The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Marshall Ramsey ~~~










To End On A Happy Note...





Your Flag Decal Won't Get You Into Heaven Anymore
By John Prine

While digesting Reader's Digest
In the back of a dirty book store,
A plastic flag, with gum on the back,
Fell out on the floor.
Well, I picked it up and I ran outside
Slapped it on my window shield,
And if I could see old Betsy Ross
I'd tell her how good I feel.

But your flag decal won't get you
Into Heaven any more.
They're already overcrowded
From your dirty little war.
Now Jesus don't like killin'
No matter what the reason's for,
And your flag decal won't get you
Into Heaven any more.

Well, I went to the bank this morning
And the cashier he said to me,
"If you join the Christmas club
We'll give you ten of them flags for free."
Well, I didn't mess around a bit
I took him up on what he said.
And I stuck them stickers all over my car
And one on my wife's forehead.

But your flag decal won't get you
Into Heaven any more.
They're already overcrowded
From your dirty little war.
Now Jesus don't like killin'
No matter what the reason's for,
And your flag decal won't get you
Into Heaven any more.

Well, I got my window shield so filled
With flags I couldn't see.
So, I ran the car upside a curb
And right into a tree.
By the time they got a doctor down
I was already dead.
And I'll never understand why the man
Standing in the Pearly Gates said...

But your flag decal won't get you
Into Heaven any more.
We're already overcrowded
From your dirty little war.
Now Jesus don't like killin'
No matter what the reason's for,
And your flag decal won't get you
Into Heaven any more.
(c) 1972/2010 John Prine



Have You Seen This...




Parting Shots...



Pope Benedict XVI explains which types of slow, deliberate touching the church deems inappropriate.


Pope Vows To Get Church Pedophilia Down To Acceptable Levels

VATICAN CITY-Calling the behavior shameful, sinful, and much more frequent than the Vatican was comfortable with, Pope Benedict XVI vowed this week to bring the widespread pedophilia within the Roman Catholic Church down to a more manageable level.

Addressing thousands gathered at St. Peter's Square on Easter Sunday, the pontiff offered his "most humble apologies" to abuse victims, and pledged to reduce the total number of molestations by 60 percent over the next five years.

"This is absolutely unacceptable," Pope Benedict said. "It seems a weakening of faith in God has prevented our priests from exercising moderation when sexually abusing helpless minors."

"And let me remind our clergy of the holy vows they all took when they entered the priesthood," he continued. "They should know that they're only allowed one small child every other month."

The pope said he was deeply disappointed to learn that the number of children sexually abused by priests was almost 10 times beyond the allowable limit clearly outlined in church doctrine. Admitting for the first time in public that the overindulgent touching of "tender, tender young flesh" had become a full-blown crisis, the Holy Father vowed to implement new reforms to bring the pedophilia rate back down to five children per 1,000 clergy.

"The truth is there will always be a little bit of molestation-it's simply unavoidable," Vatican spokesperson Rev. Federico Lombardi said. "But the fact that young boys have gotten much more attractive over the past few decades is no excuse for the blatant defiance of church limits that have been in place for centuries."

"The majority of priests don't want to molest kids at all," he added. "But for those who do, we must make sure they're doing it at a reasonable rate."

Following the pope's speech, the Vatican released a statement outlining its plan to reduce pedophilia. Starting next year, specially trained cardinals will make unannounced visits to inspect and observe random churches in order to ensure they are not going beyond diocese-wide molestation caps. The inspector-cardinals will grade each parish based on long, private interviews with altar boys in darkened church basements, and careful observation of priests' sexual activity.

These senior officials will also have the authority to enforce harsh punishments for any clergy member violating his allotment of pedophilia.

"If a priest goes even one child over the limit, there will be hell to pay," said Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for Bishops Giovanni Battista Re, explaining the Vatican's new "Three Strikes, You're Out Rule." "After the third offense, the offending priest will immediately be moved to another parish. This will give officials time to investigate the case, and will act as an effective deterrent since it usually takes months for priests to gain the trust of the new children."

As a "goodwill measure," Cardinal Re said all churches will also be required to display a sign next to the altar showing the number of days since the last molestation.

Criticism of the pope's new plan has already begun to emerge from within the Catholic Church itself. Rev. Walter Moore, a pastor at St. Peter's in Chicago, questioned the Vatican's methodology in calculating the molestation rates, saying the church's inconsistent definition of pedophilia may have skewed the numbers.

"Is it technically pedophilia if the child's clothes are fully on the entire time? What if he's asleep when it happens?" Moore said. "It's time we had some clear guidance from Rome on this issue. For instance, the church counts it as one incident regardless of whether the child is molested multiple times by the same individual or by two priests at once. That's just plain wrong."

"Plus, if it's supposed to be a special secret between the priest and the boy, is it even any of the church's business in the first place?" he added. "Maybe Brandon is just trying to get attention."

The Vatican would not release details of the pope's upcoming world tour, in which he plans to clear up any confusion on the matter by personally demonstrating what constitutes molestation.
(c) 2010 The Onion




Email:issues@issuesandalibis.org




The Gross National Debt




Iraq Deaths Estimator


The Animal Rescue Site















View my page on indieProducer.net









Issues & Alibis Vol 10 # 15 (c) 04/09/2010


Issues & Alibis is published in America every Friday. We are not affiliated with, nor do we accept funds from any political party. We are a non-profit group that is dedicated to the restoration of the American Republic. All views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily the views of Issues & Alibis.Org.

In regards to copying anything from this site remember that everything here is copyrighted. Issues & Alibis has been given permission to publish everything on this site. When this isn't possible we rely on the "Fair Use" copyright law provisions. If you copy anything from this site to reprint make sure that you do too. We ask that you get our permission to reprint anything from this site and that you provide a link back to us. Here is the "Fair Use" provision.

"Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.

In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include:

(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors."