Issues & Alibis

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In This Edition

Noam Chomsky says, "Globalization Marches On."

Uri Avnery has hopes for, "A Birthday Present."

David Sirota spotlights, "Journalism's Parasites."

Rocky Barker is, "Marking The Day 40 Years Ago When the Green Revolution Began."

Jim Hightower asks if it's, "Corporate Murder?"

Robert Dreyfuss reports, "Mullen: No Attack On Iran."

James Donahue examines, "The State Of The Homeless In America."

Amy Goodman reviews, "Cochabamba, The Water Wars And Climate Change."

Chris Floyd hears the, "Howling Wind."

Case Wagenvoord starts, "Pushing The Gurney."

Mike Folkerth wonders, "Is Free Market Capitalism Possible?"

Chris Hedges reveals, "Noam Chomsky Has 'Never Seen Anything Like This.'"

David Michael Green explains, "Of Mice And Men."

Virginia Governor Bob McDonald wins the coveted "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Joe Conason catches Corker in a 'corker,' "Republican Senator Hints "Bailout" Charge Is False."

Kay Ebeling continues the serial, "I Lived In A Car With My Teenage Daughter On The Streets Of L.A. And Survived To Write About It: Part 3."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Will Durst explores, "Loose Nukes" but first Uncle Ernie studies, "The Corporatization Of Space."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Steve Sack, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Walt Kelly, Bob Dylan, Heath Harrison, Freaking News.Com, Jeff Stahler, Bruce Beattie, Matt Wuerker, China Photos, Getty Images 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."

The Corporatization Of Space
By Ernest Stewart

Space... the Final Frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilizations; to boldly go where no man has gone before. ~~~ James T. Kirk

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
The Bill Of Rights ~~~ Amendment I

Oh Beautiful for smoggy skies, insecticided grain,
For strip-mined mountain's majesty above the asphalt plain.
America, America, man sheds his waste on thee,
And hides the pines with billboard signs, from sea to oily sea.
~~~ George Carlin ~~~

That noise you might be hearing in the background is, no doubt, Jack Kennedy spinning in his grave. There's a reason for this. Barry has decided that NASA is really no longer needed and in the future we'll be turning space over to the corpo-rats.

Der Fuhrer was off to the Kennedy Space Center the other day to reassure NASA that even though he has stopped any future moon missions and the new hardware and space ships that were to replace the space shuttle, we still have a bright future in space. The only difference is that we'll be going on ships controlled by his corpo-rat pals, although funded by you and me. (What? you thought the health insurance rip off was his last scam?)

Obama said he was "100 percent committed to the mission of NASA and its future." He outlined plans for federal spending to bring more private companies into space exploration following the soon-to-end space shuttle program.

"We want to leap into the future, not continue on the same path as before," Obama said as he sought to reassure NASA workers that America's space adventures would soar on despite the termination of shuttle flights and most of their jobs.

Obama acknowledged criticism for his drastic changes to the space agency's direction. But, he said, "The bottom line is: Nobody is more committed to manned space flight, the human exploration of space, than I am. But we've got to do it in a smart way; we can't keep doing the same old things as before."

Obama stated that:

"By 2025, the nation will have a new spacecraft designed for long journeys to allow us to begin the first-ever crewed missions beyond the moon into deep space."

"We'll start by sending astronauts to an asteroid for the first time in history. By the mid-2030s, I believe we can send humans to orbit Mars and return them safely to Earth. And a landing on Mars will follow."

Barry continued by saying that the space program is not a luxury but a necessity for the nation. He noted that the Kennedy Space Center has inspired the nation and the world for half a century. He said NASA represents what it means to be American -- "reaching for new heights and reaching for what's possible" -- and is not close to its final days.

No, those final days when Lockheed Martin Corp, Northrop Grumman Corp, and L-3 Communications Inc., General Electric and who knows, maybe McDonald's and Walmart, will control space and the nuclear weapons that they will no doubt carry into orbit, are still a few years off! Not to mention that that the price will surely double or triple over our current inflated costs!

Barry tried to explain why he aborted President George W. Bush's return-to-the moon plan in favor of a complicated system of public-and-private flights that would go elsewhere in space. "We've been there before," Barry said of the nation's moon landings. "There's a lot more of space to explore." I guess we shouldn't bother trying out the systems in our back yard, i.e., the moon which is just a few days away and instead try those systems out nine months away, in deep space. I mean, what could possibly go wrong with that?

He said his administration would support continued manned exploration of space "not just with dollars, but with clear aims and a larger purpose." That aims-and-purposes song and dance is still to be worked out!

The Obama space plan relies on private companies to fly to the space station, giving them almost $6 billion to build their own rockets and ships. Would you like to fly into space in a ship that was built by people worried about their bottom line? It also extends the space station's life by five years and puts billions into research to eventually develop new rocket ships for future missions to a nearby asteroid, or other points in space, such as Vulcan, Romulus or Kronos! Or maybe they'll just shoot the "missions" on some Hollywood sound stage and pocket the cash? It's amazing what you can do with CGI, huh?

In Other News

Wisconsin federal Judge Barbara Crabb, who pissed off a bunch of Rethuglicans the other day, will make President Obama violate the Constitution and his oath to uphold and protect said Constitution come May 6th and for that reason alone she is a friend of mine!

Here's a chance for all you birthers, racists, and other assorted nut cases who are trying to get rid of Obama with various bogus ideas, to have a sure fire, legal way! With Barry giving you everything you'll need to rid the oval office of him as a violation of his oath of office is an impeachable offense no matter his birthplace or skin color. Trouble is, you'll need a majority in the House and Senate but if you get one come November, keep this in mind!

You may recall that the US Constitution says in, Article II, Section 4, "The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors."

While Congress passed this act of treason back in 1952 it's only the president who can make it official and every president since Ike has been in violation of the law for invoking it. Even though Judge Crabb ruled it unconstitutional, Barry, being the corpo-rat clown that he is, will ignore the good judge's ruling as he apparently feels that he is above the law.

Of course, so do most of the Rethuglican members of Congress who were shocked and dismayed by this ruling. House Republican leader John Boehner deemed it "troubling" and urged the Obama administration to appeal. "It violates both well-established legal precedent and the spirit of the principles on which our nation was founded," he said in a statement. (Except, of course, that it doesn't) A group called the American Center for Law and Justice, (with a name like that you know they're criminals!) which represented more than 30 members of Congress in the lawsuit, also criticized the decision and vowed appeal. "The decision undermines the values of religious freedom that America was founded upon," said House Judiciary Committee ranking Republican Lamar Smith. "What's next? Declaring the federal holiday for Christmas unconstitutional?" Works for me, Lamar. I'd much rather dance naked in a circle to some Celtic beats!

What Judge Barbara ruled was that the annual National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional.

"It goes beyond mere 'acknowledgment' of religion because its sole purpose is to encourage all citizens to engage in prayer, an inherently religious exercise that serves no secular function in this context," wrote Judge Barbara Crabb, who said the Day of Prayer violates the First Amendment's establishment clause, which bans the creation of a "law respecting an establishment of religion" in the Constitution. ( Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion... )

Anticipating the anger that her ruling would create, she also noted there was no law preventing Americans from praying or organizing non-governmental days of prayer, and wrote this:

"I understand that many may disagree with that conclusion and some may even view it as a criticism of prayer or those who pray. That is unfortunate. A determination that the government may not endorse a religious message is not a determination that the message itself is harmful, unimportant or undeserving of dissemination."

The lawsuit against the National Day of Prayer was brought in Wisconsin by a group of atheists and agnostics called the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which argued that it violated the separation of church and state.

The Obama administration had argued that the National Day of Prayer was legal because it simply acknowledged the role of religion in the United States, according to the Associated Press. But Crabb wrote that "it is because the nature of prayer is so personal and can have such a powerful effect on a community that the government may not use its authority to try to influence an individual's decision whether and when to pray." I wonder if the tea baggers will back the good judge in her ruling? As for the upcoming "prayer breakfast" I'd remind those pretend "Christians" what "god" said in the book of Matthew...

And when you prayest, thou shall not be as the hypocrites are, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say to you, they have their reward.

But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

Matthew chapter 6 verses 5 + 6 KJV

... "as the hypocrites are," amen!

And Finally

Some say that fire and water don't mix but they are wrong. Earth day was started because an Ohio river caught fire and burned! A spark from a train passing over a bridge at the Republic Steel plant in Cleveland set the Cuyahoga River on fire just before noon on June 22, 1969. It wasn't the first time the river had caught fire. There had been previous fires in 1868, 1883, 1887, 1912, 1922, 1936, 1941, 1948, 1949, 1951, and 1952. It wasn't even the worst fire on the Cuyahoga, for that matter. The 1936 fire was far worse, as was the 1952 fire that burned for three days and caused $1.8 million in damage in 1952 money! However the 1969 fire caught the attention of Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson who had been trying to get America behind doing something about the terrible pollution that had been literally chocking people to death for years. The burning river was the straw that broke the camel's back! I remember well when I lived up in the Hollywood Hills in the mid 70's looking out over Los Angles and only being able to see the tops of the sky scrapers in downtown LA some twenty miles away. Everything else was covered by a thick, greenish-orange smog bank.

Nor was the Cuyahoga the only river in America ever to catch fire. In my hometown of Dearborn, Michigan shortly after the first Earth Day, one of the branches of the Rouge River caught fire just below the Ford Rouge Plant, the largest assembly/manufacturing plant in the world (at that time) and the Detroit River and burned for several hours before they could put it out. Many other rivers in America have been so polluted that they caught fire, too, including the Schuylkill in Philadelphia and the Buffalo River through Buffalo. In fact, many rivers in heavily-industrialized cities as well as harbors such as Baltimore Harbor and the river leading into Baltimore Harbor and New York harbor had caught fire at one time or another. There are references to the Chicago River catching fire in 1889 and 1899. In fact, there were many other rivers on fire but as long as property was not being destroyed, the fire department just let the fires burn and did not even bother to record them.

Because of the many fires on the Cuyahoga, the city stationed fireboats along its course through the city in order to respond quickly when fires broke out. Local fireboats near the scene in 1969 had the fire out in less than half an hour, before newspaper photographers even arrived on the scene. The only photos that exist from the 1969 fire are of the aftermath--none exist of the fire in progress. It was such an inconsequential event in Cleveland that the fire chief wasn't even called; the local newspapers ran only a couple of small after-the-fact pictures and buried a short item deep inside. For Cleveland locals, the 1969 fire was no big deal. Well, no big deal officially as our elected officials know how to turn a blind eye to disasters if they're properly bought and paid for, and they were. That a US Senator was really outraged by all this and made it his crusade to do something about this outrage is the amazing part.

From the first Earth Day came a whole host of new laws to protect the water, air and land from corporate pollution throughout the Nixon and Carter years. Then Rayguns came along and Ronnie and every Rethuglican administration since has been busily getting rid of them or watering those laws down so their corpo-rat pals could make a dollar more from the blood and death of their fellow citizens. We're not quite back to those daze when pollution blocked out the sun and turned broad daylight into twilight or almost darkness, not quite back to those golden days when you could tell the city you were in by the color of it's pollution. We're heading quickly back to them though, thanks to the denizens of Foggy Bottom. Now would be a good time to raise hell with your Congressional critters about our backwards slide before the rivers and, who knows, maybe the sky catch on fire!

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.


09-18-1939 ~ 04-15-2010
Thanks for the buzz bro!

08-30-1926 ~ 04-16-2010
You couldn't catch a cold!

03-24-1912 ~ 04-16-2010
Thanks for everything !


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


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

Until the next time, Peace!
(c) 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.

Workers assemble cell phones in a
factory in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China

Globalization Marches On
Growing popular outrage has not challenged corporate power
By Noam Chomsky

Shifts in global power, ongoing or potential, are a lively topic among policy makers and observers. One question is whether (or when) China will displace the United States as the dominant global player, perhaps along with India.

Such a shift would return the global system to something like it was before the European conquests. Economic growth in China and India has been rapid, and because they rejected the West's policies of financial deregulation, they survived the recession better than most. Nonetheless, questions arise.

One standard measure of social health is the U.N. Human Development Index. As of 2008, India ranks 134th, slightly above Cambodia and below Laos and Tajikistan, about where it has been for many years. China ranks 92nd-tied with Belize, a bit above Jordan, below the Dominican Republic and Iran.

India and China also have very high inequality, so more than a billion of their inhabitants fall far lower on the scale.

Another concern is the U.S. debt. Some fear it places the U.S. in thrall to China. But apart from a brief interlude ending in December, Japan has long been the biggest international holder of U.S. government debt. Creditor leverage, furthermore, is overrated.

In one dimension-military power-the United States stands alone. And Obama is setting new records with his 2011 military budget. Almost half the U.S. deficit is due to military spending, which is untouchable in the political system.

When considering the U.S. economy's other sectors, Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz and other economists warn that we should beware of "deficit fetishism." A deficit is a stimulus to recovery, and it can be overcome with a growing economy, as after World War II, when the deficit was far worse.

And the deficit is expected to grow, largely because of the hopelessly inefficient privatized health care system-also virtually untouchable, thanks to business's ability to overpower the public will.

However, the framework of these discussions is misleading. The global system is not only an interaction among states, each pursuing some "national interest" abstracted from distribution of domestic power. That has long been understood.

Adam Smith concluded that the "principal architects" of policy in England were "merchants and manufacturers," who ensured that their own interests are "most peculiarly attended to," however "grievous" the effects on others, including the people of England.

Smith's maxim still holds, though today the "principal architects" are multinational corporations and particularly the financial institutions whose share in the economy has exploded since the 1970s.

In the United States we have recently seen a dramatic illustration of the power of the financial institutions. In the last presidential election they provided the core of President Obama's funding.

Naturally they expected to be rewarded. And they were-with the TARP bailouts, and a great deal more. Take Goldman Sachs, the top dog in both the economy and the political system. The firm made a mint by selling mortgage-backed securities and more complex financial instruments.

Aware of the flimsiness of the packages they were peddling, the firm also took out bets with the insurance giant American International Group (AIG) that the offerings would fail. When the financial system collapsed, AIG went down with it.

Goldman's architects of policy not only parlayed a bailout for Goldman itself but also arranged for taxpayers to save AIG from bankruptcy, thus rescuing Goldman.

Now Goldman is making record profits and paying out fat bonuses. It, and a handful of other banks, are bigger and more powerful than ever. The public is furious. People can see that the banks that were primary agents of the crisis are making out like bandits, while the population that rescued them is facing an official unemployment rate of nearly 10 percent, as of February. The rate rises to nearly 17 percent when all Americans who wish to be fully employed are counted.

Bringing Obama to heel

Popular anger finally evoked a rhetorical shift from the administration, which responded with charges about greedy bankers. "I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of fat-cat bankers on Wall Street," Obama told60 Minutes in December. This kind of rhetoric was accompanied with some policy suggestions that the financial industry doesn't like (e.g., the Volcker Rule, which would bar banks receiving government support from engaging in speculative activity unrelated to basic bank activities) and proposals to set up an independent regulatory agency to protect consumers.

Since Obama was supposed to be their man in Washington, the principal architects of government policy wasted little time delivering their instructions: Unless Obama fell back into line, they would shift funds to the political opposition. "If the president doesn't become a little more balanced and centrist in his approach, then he will likely lose" the support of Wall Street, Kelly S. King, a board member of the lobbying group Financial Services Roundtable, told the New York Times in early February. Securities and investment businesses gave the Democratic Party a record $89 million during the 2008 campaign.

Three days later, Obama informed the press that bankers are fine "guys," singling out the chairmen of the two biggest players, JP Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs: "I, like most of the American people, don't begrudge people success or wealth. That's part of the free-market system," the president said. (Or at least "free markets" as interpreted by state capitalist doctrine.)

That turnabout is a revealing snapshot of Smith's maxim in action.

The architects of policy are also at work on a real shift of power: from the global work force to transnational capital.

Economist and China specialist Martin Hart-Landsberg explores the dynamic in a recent Monthly Review article. China has become an assembly plant for a regional production system. Japan, Taiwan and other advanced Asian economies export high-tech parts and components to China, which assembles and exports the finished products.

The spoils of power

The growing U.S. trade deficit with China has aroused concern. Less noticed is that the U.S. trade deficit with Japan and the rest of Asia has sharply declined as this new regional production system takes shape. U.S. manufacturers are following the same course, providing parts and components for China to assemble and export, mostly back to the United States. For the financial institutions, retail giants, and the owners and managers of manufacturing industries closely related to this nexus of power, these developments are heaven sent.

And well understood. In 2007, Ralph Gomory, head of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, testified before Congress, "In this new era of globalization, the interests of companies and countries have diverged. In contrast with the past, what is good for America's global corporations is no longer necessarily good for the American people."

Consider IBM. According to Business Week, by the end of 2008, more than 70 percent of IBM's work force of 400,000 was abroad. In 2009 IBM reduced its U.S. employment by another 8 percent.

For the work force, the outcome may be "grievous," in accordance with Smith's maxim, but it is fine for the principal architects of policy. Current research indicates that about one-fourth of U.S. jobs will be "offshorable" within two decades, and for those jobs that remain, security and decent pay will decline because of the increased competition from replaced workers.

This pattern follows 30 years of stagnation or decline for the majority as wealth poured into few pockets, leading to what has probably become the greatest inequality between the haves and the have-nots since the end of American slavery.

While China is becoming the world's assembly plant and export platform, Chinese workers are suffering along with the rest of the global work force. This is an unsurprising outcome of a system designed to concentrate wealth and power and to set working people in competition with one another worldwide.

Globally, workers' share in national income has declined in many countries-dramatically so in China, leading to growing unrest in that highly inegalitarian society.

So we have another significant shift in global power: from the general population to the principal architects of the global system, a process aided by the undermining of functioning democracy in the United States and other of the Earth's most powerful states.

The future depends on how much the great majority is willing to endure, and whether that great majority will collectively offer a constructive response to confront the problems at the core of the state capitalist system of domination and control.

If not, the results might be grim, as history more than amply reveals.
(c) 2010 Noam Chomsky is emeritus professor of linguistics and philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is co-author, with Gilbert Achcar, of Perilous Power: The Middle East & U.S. Foreign Policy: Dialogues on Terror, Democracy, War, and Justice. His most recent book is Hegemony or Survival Americas Quest for Global Dominance. His writings on linguistics and politics have just been collected in The Essential Noam Chomsky, edited by Anthony Arnove, from the New Press.

A Birthday Present
By Uri Avnery

YESTERDAY I went to the health clinic to get a vaccination. It was a pleasant day, sunny but not too hot. The trip to the clinic and back, including the waiting, took just over an hour. During this time, I had the following experiences:

The taxi driver told me that years ago he was living next to Asher Yadlin, the man at the center of a major corruption affair in the 70s, which was uncovered by my magazine, Haolam Hazeh. "How we were shocked then!" he exclaimed, "we did not believe that such a thing was possible! And look what's happening now!" He meant the scandal around the huge Holyland housing project in West Jerusalem, involving a former prime minister, two former mayors and an assortment of business tycoons and senior officials - a bribery affair a hundred times bigger than the Yadlin business.

While waiting at the clinic, I was accosted by an old man (who turned out to be a year younger than I), a thin person who wore a golf cap and started to tell me his life story. "I fought in the Warsaw ghetto uprising," he started. I searched for an escape route, but before I could spot one I was captured by his story.

When the Ghetto revolt started in 1943, he was living opposite the home of the legendary leader, Antek Zuckerman, in the famous Milla street. He was then hardly 18 years old. Somehow he survived and landed (I didn't get how) into the central Warsaw prison, where the Germans were executing people every day. Since there were no Jews left by that stage, the victims were Poles - priests and members of the intelligentsia.

In August, 1944, when the great Warsaw Uprising broke out, the rebels freed him from prison. They were of two kinds: the rightist faction - the Homeland Army - which was anti-Semitic, and the leftist one, which was composed of socialists and communists. Yachek (as he was called then) was freed by the rightists, but they treated him well, gave him a gun and a white-and-red armlet.

The Polish insurgents did not cooperate with the Russians, who were already nearby ("They hated the Russians more than the Germans," Yachek commented). Stalin stopped his forces, and the rebels were compelled to capitulate to the Germans after 63 days of fighting. Yachek and another Jewish boy found a bunker in the destroyed ghetto where they hid below ground for 10 months, until the arrival of the Red Army.

All this he told me while we were standing, his face a few inches from mine, his light blue eyes betraying his frustration at having to tell his story in this manner, when dozens of hours would not have sufficed. I was glad to hear that somebody was writing a book about him.

In the middle of it, a man of about 60 approached us and told me that he had twice voted for me. "Not that I agreed with your views," he confided, "but I wanted to have intelligent people in the Knesset." I must admit that this motive was new to me.

Before going home I entered a nearby store. There I met a woman I had known some 40 years ago, when her husband had been the manager of the "Chamber Quartet," perhaps the most outstanding satire group in the annals of Israel. Her brother-in-law, Yehiel Kadishai, had been the loyal secretary of Menachem Begin. He was famous for his total devotion to his leader, for no personal gain whatsoever. We briefly compared Israel as it was then to the Israel of today.

The cab driver who brought me home told me that he had recently moved back from Las Vegas. He had come to the US in the wake of his wife, who had worked for Binyamin Netanyahu when he served as Israel's envoy to the UN. After he had lived a few happy years in the gambling capital, the company he worked for dismissed 17 thousand employees at one stroke. He was left without a job for seven months. When he went back to Israel for a family wedding, he saw that the Israeli economy was booming and decided to stay for the time being. An Israeli flag was waving over his taxi, and he sounded eminently satisfied.

THIS IS a random sample of Israelis on the eve of the 2010 Independence Day. Memories from the Holocaust, nostalgia for a more innocent Israel, anger about corruption, satisfaction with the Israeli economy which is flourishing at a time when the entire world is still stuck in an economic crisis. Not a single word about peace. Not a single word about the occupation.

If I had asked these people what they think about it, I would probably have received one and the same answer from all of them: Peace is a good thing. We want peace. For peace we are ready to give up occupied territories, even East Jerusalem, and to hell with the settlements. But what? We have no partner. The Arabs don't want peace. Therefore there will be no peace - not tomorrow, not in ten years, not in fifty years. Nothing to be done. That's how it is.

If I had spent the same hour in similar company in Ramallah, the answers I received would probably not have been very different. Bitter memories from the Naqba, anger about the corruption in high circles, perhaps even some satisfaction about the improvement of the economic situation in the West Bank. And a total lack of belief in peace. They would certainly have said: "The Israelis don't want peace. Nothing to be done. That's how it is."

If Barack Obama and his assistants intend to start a serious peace effort, as it now seems, that is the main thing they have to take into consideration: before addressing the hard problems of peacemaking, the profound lack of belief on both sides has to be overcome. Either side is completely convinced that the other side does not want peace and will bring a dozen proofs from real life.

This lack of belief is the product of 120 years of the conflict, an endless chain of violence, wars and crises, for which each side blames the other. The Palestinians see the Israelis as land-grabbing robbers, the Israelis see the Arabs as cannibals with knives between their teeth.

This lack of belief is also somehow comfortable. When there is no chance, there is no need to do anything. No need to rise up, to act, to demonstrate, to change. Nothing can be done anyhow. That's how it is.

SOME DAYS ago, two American personalities published an important document.

Zbigniew Brzezinski was the national security advisor to President Jimmy Carter. He was considered a hawk, but first of all a realist. He played an important role in bringing China closer to the US, armed the Mujahidin in Afghanistan against the Soviet invaders, was one of the hosts at the 1978 Camp David conference which laid the foundation to the Israeli-Egyptian peace. There he played chess with Begin. (I don't know if they spoke Polish together.) Some years ago he called upon President George W. Bush to change American policy in the Middle East, including dropping the negative attitude towards Hamas.

Stephen Solarz was a congressman. A Jewish New-Yorker, he specialized in foreign affairs and played a role in American relations with North Korea and the Philippines. I had a talk with him many years ago and was impressed by his emotional involvement with Israeli-Palestinian peace.

When two such persons publish a manifesto together, they are bound to attract attention in the US. But the contents of the document are no less important than the identity of the authors.

The two put on the table a practical and detailed proposal, which includes the following steps:

- President Obama will come to Jerusalem and address the Israeli public directly from the Knesset rostrum.

- He will do the same in Ramallah and address the Palestinian public.

- He will make a speech in the Old City of Jerusalem and address all the peoples of the Middle East.

To all these audiences, Obama will submit an American peace plan.

I BELIEVE that this is an excellent idea (and not only because President Anwar Sadat of Egypt took the first step with considerable success, and not only because I suggested some months ago that Obama make a speech in the Knesset.) It is reasonable, practical and realizable.

For many years I believed that there is no substitute for a direct face-to-face dialogue, without a third party. Peace is a framework for life for the two peoples, and the very mechanism of peacemaking can contribute much to their reconciliation. Moreover, when there is a third party, each side addresses it and not the adversary, at the same time radicalizing its position so as to have something to compromise on.

The Oslo experience proved this point. Agreement was reached behind the back of the Americans and the whole world in direct talks, without intermediaries. The Norwegians acted only as discreet hosts. History brought together two brave leaders - Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin - who might have been able to proceed from there to real peace.

But it failed. When one side is immensely stronger than the other, the stronger one is tempted to dictate its will. Rabin was publicly murdered, and Arafat died in circumstances that leave little room for doubt that he, too, was murdered. The grand experiment foundered and left behind a situation worse than the one before. In such a situation, the involvement of a third party - the US - is necessary.

People speak of an "imposed peace". But that is not the right expression. It is impossible to impose peace on peoples which do not want it. In the best case, that would lead to a signature on a piece of paper that had no chance of being implemented.

The task of the US is not to "impose" but to "convince" - and I don't use the word cynically.

To convince means: to lead Israeli and Palestinian public opinion to the conviction that peace is possible, that the other side also needs it, that somebody will see to it that the terms are fully kept, that somebody will guarantee their security in the short and long term. And the main point: that each party has got to gain from it.

In Israel, Obama will have to take into consideration the real fears of a Holocaust-troubled people, to plant again the seeds of hope, to create the faith that there is a place for Israel in the family of Middle Eastern nations, to reinforce the conviction that the US will not abandon Israel in any future crisis, but also to warn of the severe dangers facing Israel if the two-state solution is not realized very soon.

In Palestine he will have to take into consideration the fears of a Naqba-injured and occupation-damaged people; to promise the realization of the Palestinians' hope for independence within two years, to guarantee that the US will not allow ethnic cleansing, but also to point out the existential danger that threatens them if the State of Palestine does not soon come into being next to Israel. He must also lift the veto the US has imposed on Fatah-Hamas reconciliation.

To both peoples Obama must submit a fair, balanced and realistic peace plan, going into the smallest details and with a reasonable yet fixed time-table, a plan that allows each side to claim victory.

OBAMA IS a man of many talents, but most of all he has the ability to convince. He is capable of touching the profoundest emotions of people and peoples. I hope he uses this talent for the good of the two long-suffering peoples of this tortured country.

On the 62nd anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel, I cannot conceive of a more beautiful present.
(c) 2010 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Journalism's Parasites
By David Sirota

No matter how much this week's Pulitzer Prize triumphalism hides it, the fact remains that journalism these days is "a disaster," as Ted Koppel said recently. And unfortunately, retrospection dominates the news industry's self-analysis. Like dazed tornado victims, most media experts focus on what happened and why, oh lord, why?

The queries are important, though just as critical are two prospective questions: 1) If, to butcher a Chinese aphorism, every crisis is an opportunity, then who is making an opportunity out of journalism's current crisis and 2) are those opportunity-maximizers actually parasites destroying journalism for the long haul?

The answer to the initial question is three groups, starting with the Access Traders. These are reporters like The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza, Newsweek's Jonathan Alter and NBC's Chuck Todd, who, while covering politics for major media, are also signing separate contracts to write books chronicling White House gossip. Facing a crisis in audience share, these correspondents' employers encourage the double-dip opportunities, hoping book exposure will result in residual attention. But the simultaneity is problematic: As the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz notes, hard-hitting stories in these reporters' day jobs "might alienate potential (book) sources and flattering ones might loosen tongues."

The dynamic's deleterious effect on journalism is obvious.

"The oozing conflicts lead to things like a glowing New Yorker profile of (Obama aide) Rahm Emanuel followed by an even more one-sided love letter to (Obama aide) Larry Summers, both from Lizza," says's Glenn Greenwald. "It's what causes Alter to proclaim one day - when Obama favored it - that real health reform 'depends on whether Obama gets approval for a public option' only to turn around - once Obama said (the public option) was unnecessary - and proclaim that the left is foolishly obsessing on the unimportant public option. And it's what leads Todd, in the form of 'covering the White House' for NBC, to serve as an amplifying vessel and justifier for whatever the White House happens to be saying."

Add to this the Double Agents - those making opportunities out of journalism's revenue crisis. Knowing cash-strapped media outlets are providing platforms to corporate advocates rather than spending extra money to employ their own independent voices, various chameleons at once posture as journalists and get paid as business spokespeople.

Richard Wolffe, for instance, has appeared on MSNBC as a supposedly objective pundit while also being employed by a business advocacy firm. Likewise, Jeff Birnbaum heads a lobbying and PR company while writing a Washington Times column - and a recent one attacked Democrats for defying industries that pay his company.

Birnbaum, of course, was previously the Washington Post correspondent covering the lobbying industry, and so his career shift also puts him in the last group: the Former Watchdogs.

To understand why these turncoats so threaten journalism, consider not only Birnbaum, but also Stephen Labaton. This New York Times financial reporter just announced he is taking a job with Goldman Sachs - a move that makes you wonder if Labaton watered down his Times coverage in order to get his new gig.

As with similar revolving-door situations, it's a legitimate worry - after all, Labaton knew Goldman probably wouldn't hire a muckraker who had been aggressively exposing bank transgressions. Then again, maybe Labaton did nothing wrong. Either way, though, the damage is done because the concern now can - and must - be aired, which itself helps destroy the idea that traditional news is impartial and trustworthy.

In aggregate, this all ends up answering the original query: Are many of today's opportunity-maximizers destroying journalism? Clearly, yes - and unless media sachems institute some basic ethics rules, the parasites within their ranks could end up making sure there's no journalism industry left to save.
(c) 2010 David Sirota is the author of the best-selling books "Hostile Takeover" and "The Uprising." He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado and blogs at E-mail him at

Marking The Day 40 Years Ago When the Green Revolution Began
By Rocky Barker

One U.S. senator and a core of young organizers turned April 22, 1970, into the day the environmental movement was born.

On that day, 20 million Americans in 2,000 communities and 10,000 schools planted trees, cleaned up parks, buried cars in mock graves, marched, listened to speeches and protested how humans were messing up their world.

In New York, Marilyn Laurie, a young mother of two, convinced Mayor John Lindsay to close Fifth Avenue to cars and fill it with thousands of people to hear speakers such as actor Paul Newman. At the University of New Mexico, Arturo Sandoval led students and reporters from the three national television networks through the dirt roads and adobe houses of Albuquerque's poorest neighborhood to smell the choking odor of the city sewer plant.

Portland high school senior Randal O'Toole got Oregon Gov. Tom McCall to speak at Portland's Earth Day celebration. Richard Cizik, then a sophomore at Whitworth College in Spokane, Wash., led a campus campaign to save trees the school administration wanted to cut down.

In Washington, D.C., 25-year-old Denis Hayes, the coordinator of the national event, shared the stage with senators and the rock-soul group The Chambers Brothers, who sang "Time Has Come Today."

Earth Day was the brainchild of Sen. Gaylord Nelson, D-Wis., who came up with the idea of a national teach-in on the environment after 3 million gallons of oil spilled across the beaches of Santa Barbara, Calif., and killed 10,000 seabirds in January 1969.

Nelson's idea gave birth to a green movement and a green generation that would be as powerful as the industrial revolution in shaping the future of civilization.

"He changed my life," said Hayes, who heads the worldwide celebration of Earth Day's 40th anniversary. "He hired me to do this job, and the last 40 years of my life have been very different."

The timing of that first Earth Day turned out to be critical. Nelson picked April 22 because students would be back on campuses after spring break and Easter. It also fell between two other seminal national moments.

The nation had just shared the experience of watching on television the miraculous return of the damaged Apollo 13 capsule and its three astronauts on April 17, 1970.

That mood of national unity and celebration would be short-lived, however. President Richard Nixon's announcement that the U.S. had been secretly bombing Cambodia triggered mass protests and led to the May 4 killing of four students by Army National Guardsmen at Kent State University in Ohio. Many colleges closed down their campuses.

"I don't think it would have been anywhere near as big had it come after Kent State," said Bill Mauk, an Idaho attorney who worked for Hayes organizing Earth Day in Washington.


The great boom in development following World War II had turned America's rivers into sewers and covered its cities with shrouds of air pollution. Rachel Carson's 1962 book "Silent Spring" showed pesticides were poisoning wildlife and threatening human health.

Nuclear weapons tests had spread radioactive fallout to all parts of the Earth, and several environmental disasters in addition to the 1969 California oil spill caught the nation's attention. In June 1969, floating oil and other pollutants on the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland caught fire.

"Chocolate-brown, oily, bubbling with subsurface gases, it oozes rather than flows," Time magazine reported. People who fall into the Cuyahoga do not drown, Cleveland's citizens grimly joked: "They decay."

The United States' successful mission to the moon also contributed to the power of the first Earth Day. For the first time, people saw pictures of their entire planet and its distant, blue fragility.

"Earth Day weaved all those individual elements into one coherent fabric," Hayes said.

In September 1963, Nelson had convinced President John F. Kennedy to embark on a five-day, 11-state conservation tour to bring national attention to the environment. It didn't catch on, but it became the inspiration for Earth Day.

After the Santa Barbara oil spill, Nelson read about campus "teach-ins" against the Vietnam War and thought: Why not a national teach-in on the environment?

He announced his plan on Sept. 9, 1969, and with Republican Rep. Paul McCloskey of California, formed a committee and began raising money.


Denis Hayes was heading to law school at Harvard in 1969 when he answered an ad looking to organize environmental teach-ins in New England. Hayes had been a prominent activist against the Vietnam War as the president of the Stanford student body.

He went to Sen. Nelson's office in Washington to interview - and came away the national coordinator.

He gathered together a staff of 20 idealistic young people to get information out to the thousands of colleges, schools and community groups that had expressed an interesting in participating in the Earth Day event. This team included Sandoval, Mauk and Kent Conrad, a Stanford colleague from North Dakota who today is a U.S. senator.

"I thought it was very important to do what we were doing," Conrad said.

Nelson had prodded all three major television networks to provide expanded coverage of Earth Day. CBS did a special report, anchored by Walter Cronkite.

Sandoval convinced the networks that they'd get a great story if they followed him back to Albuquerque, where he'd been a Hispanic activist before joining Hayes' team.

Crews filmed colorful dancers in native costume, but they also got his message of environmental justice with the march through the city's poorest neighborhood to the sewer plant.

"We are going to make people understand that the kind of things that cause air pollution and water pollution are the same kinds of things that cause poverty, that cause hunger in this county," Sandoval told the CBS audience.

Marilyn Laurie saw an ad in New York's Village Voice looking for people to work on Earth Day. The unemployed mother wasn't an activist, and she certainly was no radical. But she did know that something big was going to happen when she organized the first press conference. Time and Life magazines attended, along with local TV stations and even iconic folk singer and songwriter Pete Seeger.

When she got up to speak, she had Mayor Lindsay on one side and Paul Newman on the other.

"It was a lesson in how a very few people with a significant cause can make a difference," Laurie said.


Nelson had wanted Earth Day to be a grassroots demonstration of wide public support for environmental issues. The senator who had few allies in the 1960s - "There was no such thing as an environmentalist then," said his daughter Tia Nelson - now had the public on his side.

"It was successful beyond his wildest dreams," Tia Nelson said of her father, who died in 2005. "There was no way to anticipate or imagine its impact."

Hayes and his group of Green Generation activists left the streets and got into political action.

They raised $50,000 for a national campaign to oust Congress' environmental "Dirty Dozen." Their efforts contributed to the defeat of seven of the 12, including the powerful chairman of the House Public Works Committee, Democratic Rep. George Fallon of Baltimore.

Over the next decade, Congress passed the 28 major initiatives that became the foundation of the nation's environmental laws, including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act and amendments strengthening the National Environmental Policy Act. Many passed in the first three years after Earth Day and were signed by President Nixon.

In 1966, Nelson hadn't been able to find a single co-sponsor when he introduced a bill to ban the pesticide DDT, which was shown to cause the thinning of eggs of bald eagles, peregrine falcons and other of America's disappearing raptors.

By 1972, DDT had been banned.
(c) 2010 Rocky Barker reports for the Idaho Statesman. He participated in the first Earth Day as a high school student and decided to go into environmental studies at Northland College in Ashland, Wis., where he got to know Sen. Gaylord Nelson. As a journalist, he's covered environmental issues for 35 years, the last 14 for the Statesman. He's written two books, including "Scorched Earth: How the Fires of Yellowstone Changed America." He was awarded a conservation achievement award by the National Wildlife Federation and was part of an Idaho Statesman team that was a finalist for the 2008 Pulitzer Prize.

Don-A-Pollute-Za Labor Day Rally hosted by Don Blankenship, CEO of Massey Energy

Corporate Murder?

A mass murder has taken place in another American workplace, taking 29 lives. The authorities know who did it, so shouldn't that person be made to pay for this heinous crime?

Yes! But the killer is one of America's largest coal corporations, Massey Energy Company, and you can't give the death penalty to a corporation. Can you? Well, the Supreme Court has ruled that a corporation is a "person" - so why not?

Massey - headed by its right-wing multimillionaire CEO, Don Blankenship - has spent millions of dollars on lobbyists and lawmakers to fend off any effective regulations to protect mine workers. By using its political clout to muzzle the federal watchdog, Massey has been able to flaunt the law. Last year, it had nearly 500 safety violations in just one of its mines, including life-threatening violations. It's punishment? Fines totaling a mere $168,000 - chump change to an outfit with $56 million in profits last year.

Blankenship blithely says, "We don't pay much attention to the violation count." On April 5, federal inspectors added two more violations to the tally of dangerous indifference at the corporation's Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia. The honchos just shrugged. That afternoon, Upper Big Branch exploded, killing 29 miners.

Blankenship expressed his compassion by saying, "Violations are unfortunately a normal part of the mining process."

Normal? Nonsense! Other major mining nations provide effective regulatory protections to assure that such deaths are abnormal. By putting its profits over human life, America's coal industry is killing people, passing it off as a "cost of doing business." Shouldn't these profiteers pay more than a fine?

One watchdog group is calling for the immediate arrest of Blankenship for homicide. For information go to
(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.

Mullen: No Attack On Iran
By Robert Dreyfuss

There's a lot of hullabaloo about the New York Times article on Sunday, breathlessly reporting a "wake up call" from Secretary of Defense Robert Gates about the urgent need to rush contingency plans for attacking Iran.

Don't worry about it. Ain't gonna happen. Not a chance. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

I'll get to the Gates memo and the Times in a second. But geez: for years now, even under the Bush administration, it's been clear that the U.S. military is not going to attack Iran. Not then, not now, not ever.

Speaking at Columbia University this weekend, Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, pretty much said so. (By the way, he's been saying so for years.) Here's what Mullen said:

"I think Iran having a nuclear weapon would be incredibly destabilizing. I think attacking them would also create the same kind of outcome. ... This is as complex a problem as there is in our country and we have expended extraordinary amounts of time and effort to figure that out, to try to get that right.

"We in the Pentagon, we plan for contingencies all the time and so certainly there are (military) options which exist. That's not my call. That's going to be the president's call. But from my perspective ... the last option is to strike right now.

"There are those that say, 'Come on, Mullen, get over that. They're going to get it. Let's deal with it. Well, dealing with it has unintended consequences that I don't think we've all thought through. I worry that other countries in the region will then seek to, actually, I know they will, seek nuclear weapons as well. That spiral headed in that direction is a very bad outcome."

Could Mullen be clearer? I don't think so.

The other day I spoke to Chas Freeman, the former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia and the man who was nominated a year ago to head President Obama's National Intelligence Council, the chief analytical body for the U.S. intelligence community. (That appointment, you'll remember, was shot down by the Israel lobby.) According to Freeman, the military is against attacking Iran for reasons that include the fact that nearly 200,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are hostages, whose vital lifelines, including logistical lines running from the Persian Gulf north to U.S. bases in Iraq, would be attacked by Iranian-supported militias if the United States hits Iran.

The original Times story on Gates, which ran Sunday, sounded ominous: it was, the paper tells us, "highly classified," as if that means anything! It supposedly suggests that the United States develop a "set of military alternatives" to stop Iran. And it included the rational comment that in fact Iran might be seeking what's called "breakout" capability, i.e., not the actual manufacture of a bomb but just pushing up to that ability by amassing highly enriched uranium, detonators and related technology.

Fine. The fact is that Iran does not have an ounce of highly enriched uranium. Were Iran to want any, it would have to enrich its stockpile of fuel-grade uranium (enough to make just one bomb) to HEU quality, right in front of the IAEA's inspectors. (Or if could kick them out, making the whole enterprise equally obvious.) Even then, it would take a year or two to create a stockpile of HEU, and there are recent indications that Iran's program is beset by breakdowns and other problems. Getting from here to there wouldn't be easy - and even then it isn't clear that Iran has the know-how to manufacture a bomb, a warhead, and a delivery device. Some crisis.

Gates, responding to the story, pointed out that it's not really a story. And, he said, it's not meant as a "wake up call." Here's the full text of Gates' response:

"The New York Times sources who revealed my January memo to the National Security Advisor mischaracterized its purpose and content. With the Administration's pivot to a pressure track on Iran earlier this year, the memo identified next steps in our defense planning process where further interagency discussion and policy decisions would be needed in the months and weeks ahead. The memo was not intended as a 'wake up call' or received as such by the President's national security team. Rather, it presented a number of questions and proposals intended to contribute to an orderly and timely decision making process. There should be no confusion by our allies and adversaries that the United States is properly and energetically focused on this question and prepared to act across a broad range of contingencies in support of our interests."

Of course, John "Barbara Ann" McCain is ranting and raving :

"We have to be willing to pull the trigger on significant sanctions. And then we have to make plans for whatever contingencies follow if those sanctions are not effective."

McCain knows that the sanctions won't be effective. Russia and China - not to mention Turkey, India, the UAE, and lots of other countries - aren't going to go along with any crazy "crippling" sanctions. So it's interesting that in his statement McCain skips right over the sanctions, knowing they won't work, and get right to the thing that he really wants to "pull the trigger" on: bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb-bombing Iran.

Meanwhile, here's some news. Iran, after six months of stalling, says it's ready to resume talks about exchanging its enriched uranium for fuel rods for a medical reactor in Tehran. Maybe they're serious, maybe not. But it's something Obama ought to take them up on. Iran's Foreign Minister Mottaki said this weekend that his diplomats will conduct talks in all 15 UN Security Council member countries, including indirect talks with the United States, and that the whole matter could be resolved in "two weeks." He said:

"In the coming days, we have plans to have direct talks with 14 members of the Security Council and one (set of) indirect talks with a member. The talks will focus on the fuel exchange. They will be conducted by Iran's missions in those countries."

OK, maybe Iran is trying to change the topic at the UNSC from the sanctions that are under discussion there. Iran doesn't want the UNSC to impose another round of sanctions, even though it knows whatever the Russians and Chinese agree to won't be onerous. But it will be a slap at Iran, further isolating them and embarrassing their weirdly off-kilter President Ahmadinejad.

Hardliners and neoconservatives are still yapping about the need for "crippling" sanctions, and they're blasting Obama for not pushing for tough measures. You can read the latest nonsense from the Weekly Standard and the Times of London, if you don't believe me.

From the Standard:

"For the past two months, administration officials have told reporters (on background) that China and Russia will eventually support sanctions. And each time, a representative of the Russians or the Chinese downplayed the claim and raised questions about the effectiveness or the desirability of tough sanctions. Or both. And two weeks ago, when reporters from the New York Times tried to get Obama to embrace Hillary Clinton's description of the sanctions his administration was pursuing as 'crippling,' he balked."

And from the Times of London:

"Despite Hillary Clinton's brave talk of 'crippling sanctions,' even Western powers shy away from a UN embargo that could hurt the Iranian population. The US has prepared a confidential 'wish list' for a fourth round of UN sanctions. It includes the power to seize Iranian ships caught smuggling banned weapons components, a comprehensive arms embargo, and a total boycott of the Revolutionary Guards. But the only measures targeting the energy sector are curbs on new investment in Iran's oil and natural gas industries.

"Ambassadors from Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and the United States -- known as the 'E3+3' -- are due to resume negotiations today in New York. But China and Russia have already said no to most of the US proposals."

(c) 2010 Robert Dreyfuss is an investigative journalist in Alexandria, Virginia, specializing in politics and national security. He is the author of "Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam" (Henry Holt/Metropolitan Books).

The State Of The Homeless In America
By James Donahue

A series of news stories I once wrote about a "dog woman" led me down the dark trail of how we deal with the homeless in America. And the picture that emerged, even before the rash of family evictions across the nation, was ugly.

The woman I refer to was a 73-year-old who had her dogs destroyed and her home taken away from her. This happened because she could not afford to fix her broken water and sewer lines, pay the cost of having her garbage removed, or pay to license her animals. Instead of helping her, the police and civil authorities in Michigan made this elderly woman homeless and destitute.

I feared even then that this may not have been an isolated case. Bad enough that so many people lack the means to seek proper dental and medical care that failing health and missing or blackened teeth are commonplace among people on American streets. Tragic is the fact that these same people are now going homeless . . . and I fear the numbers may now be reaching the hundreds of thousands.

The complacency by the general public, government leaders, police and even many of our churches to this national disaster is alarming. Even though I, as a working newsman, was seeing first-hand the growing desperation, there has remained a tendency by those who still have jobs, who still can manage their house and utility payments, to look the other way. Even as they struggle to maintain their own financial security and worry about losing their own jobs, they want to believe this can never happen to them. They want to believe the problem does not exist.

This is not a new phenomenon. I remember walking the streets of San Francisco at least 30 years ago and seeing homeless people sleeping under cardboard boxes in parks, abandoned cars and under bridges. I remember how some southern cities like San Francisco, where the homeless were gathering to escape the harsh cold winters, tried to make laws making it illegal to sleep in public places or just sit on public sidewalks. The police were actually trying to drive these destitute souls away rather than offer help.

I remember one winter in the late 1980s, when I made several trips into downtown Detroit to research the library microfilm files for a book I was writing. To assure a place at one of the readers I would arrive just before the library opened its doors for the day. Most of the people waiting at the door with me were homeless. Wrapped in heavy winter garb, they had been walking the streets all night waiting for a warm place. Once the library was open, they planted themselves in chairs and tables throughout the building to sleep. The librarians had good hearts and looked the other way.

My wife Doris and I became accidentally and temporarily homeless a few years ago after we sold our house, paid off all of our bills and moved to Arizona. Doris, a licensed hospital medical technologist, had supposedly landed a job in a government run hospital on the Hopi Reservation. The facility promised us a house to live in and good wages. Our plan was to live among the Hopi, learn the culture, and I was going to do some writing.

Somewhere between the time we left Michigan and arrived in Arizona a few days later, our legislators in Washington became engaged in a fight over the next year's budget. President Bill Clinton put a freeze on all spending, including new job hires. When we arrived at the reservation, the job Doris was promised no longer existed. Even though she was badly needed, the laboratory director was forbidden to hire her. We moved to nearby Holbrook, Arizona, and quickly spent our cash reserves on motels and restaurant food while we waited for a job that never happened.

It took us about a year before we both landed jobs and started crawling out of that mess. During that time, we discovered resourcefulness. We found an abandoned motel along the old Route 66, that the new I-40 passed by, where the owner let us stay for something like $12 a night. We were not as bad off as the new homeless. The employment picture in America was still healthy in those days; just not in Arizona. But we were determined to try to make it in that beautiful place and stayed on.

I remember the desperate feeling of not having a home. In that period I think Doris and I would have given just about anything for a place of our own. We remember driving down some of those lonely desert roads and looking at abandoned buildings, thinking how tragic it was that someone let them go to ruin.

I think the powers that control our lives allowed us to live in that state for a few months so we would have some kind of an understanding of what it feels like to be really homeless. Now as jobs continue to dry up and people are running out of unemployment benefits, the homeless are showing up everywhere.

Even people working at jobs paying only minimum wage are starting to lose their homes. They don't make enough money to cover the rent. We notice that now that people are losing their homes, the cost of rent has been rising.

A few years ago I was in court to hear criminal matters for the newspaper I worked for. I was shocked when one defendant pleaded with the judge to put him in jail. He said he was homeless and had no place to go if he was released on probation. Jail offered a warm bed, a roof over his head and three meals a day. The county even offered free medical care for the prisoners.

I worked on another story where a rural Michigan farm family was struggling to keep the home and the mortgage holder was using every legal means possible to take it away. That family was in desperate straits. The husband was driving truck to supplement the meager income from the farm. The family got behind in the mortgage payments and the bank started foreclosure before these people had the presence of mind, or perhaps the money to hire a bankruptcy lawyer. The local sheriff held a bankruptcy sale after a judge ordered a freeze on the property. My news story about this mess stopped that bank from seizing the property and putting this family on the street. The fix was only temporary. In the end, the family was evicted.

This property seizure involved a large family. These people have eight children. Once when I visited the home I counted 11 children. I learned that they were allowing a second, already homeless family to stay with them in an old mobile home parked in the yard. Thus when the bank won this battle two families were made homeless. I lost track of those people after that.

I examined the government agencies in place to supposedly help the homeless. I found a county group of noble business people, county officials and bureaucrats meeting monthly to discuss the problem. Yet talking to any of them gave me no answers. They agreed that homelessness existed, but said that they didn't know how to find these families. They referred me to a lady in the mental health agency who was supposed to be dealing with the homeless.

This lady seemed happy to talk to me when I called her. She agreed to send me a "packet" of information and statistics about the state of homelessness in our area. The packet never arrived. When I called back she said a study was being done in a three-county area by the Regional Human Development Commission and that I would be getting a copy of its report in a few days.

The report arrived two months after I asked for the information. It said a questionnaire sent to police, pastors, and all government agencies revealed the existence of only six homeless people in that three-county area. It said four more adults were in "danger" of becoming homeless. If this was true, then I was sure that I had personally met all of them. The others magically moved to some other area to find a cardboard box or a bridge to live under.

I wonder how much the taxpayers paid those blind mice to do this ridiculous study. The money might have been better spent helping a few of those desperate people find shelter. The problem appears to be that once people become homeless, they also become invisible.
(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.

Cochabamba, The Water Wars And Climate Change
By Amy Goodman

COCHABAMBA, Bolivia-Here in this small Andean nation of 10 million people, the glaciers are melting, threatening the water supply of the largest urban area in the country, El Alto and La Paz, with 3.5 million people living at altitudes over 10,000 feet. I flew from El Alto International, the world's highest commercial airport, to the city of Cochabamba.

Bolivian President Evo Morales calls Cochabamba the heart of Bolivia. It was here, 10 years ago this month, that, as one observer put it, "the first rebellion of the 21st century" took place. In what was dubbed the Water Wars, people from around Bolivia converged on Cochabamba to overturn the privatization of the public water system. As Jim Shultz, founder of the Cochabamba-based Democracy Center, told me, "People like a good David-and-Goliath story, and the water revolt is David not just beating one Goliath, but three. We call them the three Bs: Bechtel, Banzer and the Bank." The World Bank, Shultz explained, coerced the Bolivian government, under President Hugo Banzer, who had ruled as a dictator in the 1970s, to privatize Cochabamba's water system. The multinational corporation Bechtel, the sole bidder, took control of the public water system.

On Sunday, I walked around the Plaza Principal, in central Cochabamba, with Marcela Olivera, who was out on the streets 10 years ago. I asked her about the movement's original banner, hanging for the anniversary, that reads, in Spanish, "El agua es nuestra, carajo!"-"The water is ours, damn it!" Bechtel was jacking up water rates. The first to notice were the farmers, dependent on irrigation. They appealed for support from the urban factory workers. Oscar Olivera, Marcela's brother, was their leader. He proclaimed, at one of their rallies, "If the government doesn't want the water company to leave the country, the people will throw them out."

Marcela recounted: "On the 4th of February, we called the people to a mobilization here. We call it 'la toma de la plaza,' the takeover of the plaza. It was going to be the meeting of the people from the fields, meeting the people from the city, all getting together here at one time.... The government said that that wasn't going to be allowed to happen. Several days before this was going to happen, they sent policemen in cars and on motorcycles that were surrounding the city, trying to scare the people. And the actual day of the mobilization, they didn't let the people walk even 10 meters, and they started to shoot them with gases." The city was shut down by the coalition of farmers, factory workers and coca growers, known as cocaleros. Unrest and strikes spread to other cities. During a military crackdown and state of emergency declared by then-President Banzer, 17-year-old Victor Hugo Daza was shot in the face and killed. Amid public furor, Bechtel fled the city, and its contract with the Bolivian government was canceled.

The cocaleros played a crucial role in the victory. Their leader was Evo Morales. The Cochabamba Water Wars would eventually launch him into the presidency of Bolivia. At the United Nations climate summit in Copenhagen, he called for the most rigorous action on climate change.

After the summit, Bolivia refused to support the U.S.-brokered, nonbinding Copenhagen Accord. Bolivia's ambassador to the U.N., Pablo Solon, told me that, as a result, "we were notified, by the media, that the United States was cutting around $3 million to $3.5 million for projects that have to do with climate change." Instead of taking U.S. aid money for climate change, Bolivia is taking a leadership role in helping organize civil society and governments, globally, with one goal-to alter the course of the next major U.N. climate summit, set for Cancun, Mexico, in December.

Which is why more than 15,000 people from more than 120 countries have gathered here this week of Earth Day, at the People's World Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth. Morales called for the gathering to give the poor and the Global South an opportunity to respond to the failed climate talks in Copenhagen.

Ambassador Solon explained the reasoning behind this people's summit:

"People are asking me how this is coming from a small country like Bolivia. I am the ambassador to the U.N. I know this institution. If there is no pressure from civilian society, change will not come from the U.N. The other pressure on governments comes from transnational corporations. In order to counteract that, we need to develop a voice from the grass roots."

(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.

Howling Wind
The Unrepented Genocide
By Chris Floyd

The other day I was reading the New York Review of Books in a bookstore cafe. I saw a large ad in the bottom corner of a page; it began with this quote, in bold capitals:


My first reaction, before I read further, was a feeling of surprise that someone had articulated the case against the Iraq war so clearly - and had bought expensive space in the magazine to bring this unpunished, unrepented - indeed, unacknowledged - war crime to the national consciousness again.

A moment later, I saw that it was actually an ad for an exhibition in New York City about Raphael Lemkin, the Polish-Jewish exile and U.S. government advisor who first coined the term and developed the concept of "genocide." Under a picture of Lemkin's wartime government ID card, the ad goes on: "Before Raphael Lemkin, that kind of killing had no name. Today we know it as genocide." Then comes the title of the exhibition:

Letters of Conscience: Raphael Lemkin and the Quest to End Genocide.

The life and work of Raphael Lemkin is a worthy topic for an exhibition, of course, and I wish it all success. But still, I was struck by how aptly his words described our own situation. For by the same scientific measurement tools used by the U.S. and UK governments to determine the extent of mass slaughters in Rwanda, Darfur and other places around the world, the war of aggression launched by those two governments against Iraq in 2003 has by now resulted in the death of more than one million Iraqis.

This, from a war launched unilaterally by the Anglo-American alliance without UN sanction, against a nation that had not attacked them, had not threatened to attack them, was not capable of attacking them - and had no connection whatsoever to the 9/11 attacks, which even today are cited as the main reason for the invasion of Iraq. Just a few weeks ago, Tony Blair was passionately defending the unprovoked attack by saying that 9/11 "changed everything," and meant that the Anglo-American alliance could not "take the risk" that Iraq might, at some point, somehow, pose some kind of threat to the two rich, powerful, nuclear-armed nations thousands of miles away.

And of course, the invading soldiers themselves had been indoctrinated with the idea that the rape of Iraq was "payback for 9/11," as numerous news stories cited at the time (such as this one, which John Caruso reminded us of just the other daywho famously said that 9/11 meant that the United States had to strike at some Muslim country - "we could have hit Saudi Arabia...could have hit Pakistan. We hit Iraq because we could" - as revenge for the attacks. That is, the U.S. government had to attack and destroy an entire nation because of what the U.S. government itself said was a terrorist attack by 19 stateless, renegade extremists. And this, even if the target country had no connection with the attack. That is, hundreds of thousands of innocent people were required to die as "payback for 9/11"; it didn't matter who they were, or where they were, as long as they were Muslims. This was the mindset of the centrist, mainstream, honored, respected American elite, as expressed by one of its most honored and respected representatives.

Recall too that by the time the unprovoked invasion was launched in March 2003, the Anglo-American alliance had by its own admission already killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children (not counting adults) through the draconian sanctions the alliance ruthlessly enforced against the people of Iraq. This record of mass death was publicly defended by then Secretary of State Madeline Albright, who said that the cost of the sanctions - at that time, 500,000 Iraqi children - was "worth it." And this was in 1996; the murderous sanctions had seven more years to run.

This then is the background of the still on-going war and occupation: A minimum of a million dead - most of them children - before the first shot was even fired in the March 2003 invasion. A bare minimum of a million people - the overwhelming majority of them innocent, non-combatant civilians - killed by the war and the ravening chaos it unleashed across Iraqi society.

But not a single person has ever faced trial, or censure, or even the slightest personal inconvenience for the murder of more than 2 million Iraqis over the past two decades. The bipartisan perpetrators of these crimes - the leading lights of the Clinton and Bush Administrations - live ensconced in comfort and privilege. Many of them of Clinton's associates - including his wife - are once more in power in the Obama Administration. Many of Bush's associates - including his Pentagon chief, most of his top generals, and his intelligence apparatchiks - are still in office. Other accomplices of these two militarist factions are biding their time in profitable sinecures until the turning of the courtier's wheel brings them back to the palace halls again. And of course, Barack Obama himself has hailed the perpetuation of the Iraqi war crime as an "extraordinary" accomplishment, even as he continues to protect, entrench and expand the blood-drenched policies of his predecessors.

And so even the work of Raphael Lemkin is being celebrated in New York City, the question he raised at the end of the Second World War still casts its condemning echoes across the bipartisan political elite of the United States today:


Raphael Lemkin dreamed that this question would be laid to rest by the machinery of international law and an evolutionary leap in humanity's moral consciousness. But today we can see that the answer is - as another American visionary has put it - blowing in the wind: the howling wind of the depravity of power.
(c) 2010 Chris Floyd

Pushing The Gurney
By Case Wagonvoord

Every since the fall of the Soviet Union, Capitalism has been taking its victory lap so thrilled with itself that it doesn't realize that it's strapped to a gurney being pushed by Beltway and media denizens. It's like the dying man who believes that the harder he parties the more death will be kept at bay.

Things aren't much better at the other end of the political spectrum. The left's gurney ran off the track decades ago and is lying on its side slowly rusting as it is ignored by passer-bys.

One wonders if the dialectic of history isn't getting ready to make another turn with capitalism as the thesis and socialism as the antithesis. At this point in time, we have no way of knowing what the emerging synthesis will look like. For that matter, most of us are unaware of this dialectic even being in motion. No doubt a thirteenth-century lord of the manor believed feudalism would last forever.

As Tony Judt puts it:

"We have entered an age of insecurity-economic insecurity, physical insecurity, physical insecurity, political insecurity. The fact that we are largely unaware of this is small comfort: few in 1914 predicted the utter collapse of their world and the economic and political catastrophes that followed."

"Not so!" cry those pushing the gurney. "Capitalism is the end point of history; it will rise from its own ashes like the Phoenix bird of mythology." It's a poor analogy. The Phoenix bird was consumed by an external fire; capitalism is dying from the internal rot of its own contradictions. Advanced capitalist countries have reached the limits of economic growth and are now turning inward and devouring themselves in a doomed effort to preserve the appearance of prosperity and health.

Capitalism rode to power on the wings of a geological fluke, abundant fossil fuel. At $2 a barrel, anything is possible. At $85 a barrel our options become limited. Economic growth has reached a tipping point where every increase in our GDP is another step closer to the destruction of the natural world that supports us.

Don't bother telling that to the man on the gurney. He suffers from a terminal case of dementia in which he believes he is still an energetic young man who will never age or decay.

That's the way it is with the dying.
(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

Is Free Market Capitalism Possible?
By Mike Folkerth

Good Morning out there in sanity land; your King of Simple News is on the air.

In regard to a recent internet article that discussed the impossibilities of Capitalism and the virtues of Socialism, a friend asked me if I agreed with the arguments that were made against Free Market Capitalism.

The thrust of that argument was that Free Market Capitalism must continually grow and seek new markets and fresh supplies of raw materials; which is true. Another stated truth in the article was the fact that the relentless competition for profits leads to constant juggling tactics to produce more for less while continuing to extract the necessary profits to support status quo.

The ultimate end to this competitive war was to export the actual factories themselves in a race to find the lowest labor and material sources on the planet. With the passage of NAFTA and the WTO, the factories were in fact packed up and shipped out and the American jobs along with them.

So do I agree with the arguments regarding the impossibility of Free Market Capitalism? Does a buffalo have bad breath?

Yes, I agree that unbridled capitalism won't work as it requires continual growth which means ever greater consumption in a finite world. That's why M. King Hubbert stated that we would have to completely overhaul our culture and find a substitute for money.

I can already hear someone saying, "Well, Mr. Smarty Pants, it's worked for 234 years." And so it has; sort of. To get a better understanding of our current economic mess, we need take a stroll down history lane. Come on, it's a short trip.

In the distant past, peasants, surfs, and slaves by the thousands worked to keep a few of the ruling class (who had large armies) in the chips. That's how Rome, Constantinople, Athens, Mesopotamia, Edinburgh etc. were maintained; many worked for the ultimate benefit of a few.

In our beginning, the United States condoned the ownership of slaves to continue the long held tradition of a few being supported in grand style from the labors of many. Several American Indian tribes also held slaves that were routinely captured from rival tribes.

And then came the Civil War, the Industrial Revolution, anti-slave, and anti-poverty laws. The prospects of fairness and human rights had done busted up the game.

For the ultra-rich and powerful to continue their long held lifestyles of excess without having to turn to the horrors of honest work, they needed a new plan. It's amazing what the terrifying prospects of having to actually turn to labor can do for planning skills.

The new "arrangement," was to actually pay the underclass and to hold up "The American Dream" as the ultimate prize for their hard work. Middle America was born.

That plan worked out semi-well until America's economic underpinnings matured to the point that potential growth could no longer sustain economic balance. Well, there was always debt.

After our last true balanced budget in 1969, America has been on a spending spree supported by accounting wizardry and mounting debt. We are nearing the end of a 234 year road that turned out not to be paved with gold after all.

In short, America's economy has matured and can no longer support 310,000,000 people at the level of the fabled American Dream.

So as the subject article suggested, is Socialism the answer? In my honest opinion, Socialism is counter to innate human nature and therefore any attempt to convert to pure Socialism will be met with massive and relentless resistance.

There is a basic unjustness in Socialism that riles my sensibilities. If you don't want to gather and chop wood, don't pull up a chair to my campfire.
(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...

"We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men and women are afraid of the light."
~~~ Plato

Noam Chomsky Has 'Never Seen Anything Like This'
By Chris Hedges

Noam Chomsky is America's greatest intellectual. His massive body of work, which includes nearly 100 books, has for decades deflated and exposed the lies of the power elite and the myths they perpetrate. Chomsky has done this despite being blacklisted by the commercial media, turned into a pariah by the academy and, by his own admission, being a pedantic and at times slightly boring speaker. He combines moral autonomy with rigorous scholarship, a remarkable grasp of detail and a searing intellect. He curtly dismisses our two-party system as a mirage orchestrated by the corporate state, excoriates the liberal intelligentsia for being fops and courtiers and describes the drivel of the commercial media as a form of "brainwashing." And as our nation's most prescient critic of unregulated capitalism, globalization and the poison of empire, he enters his 81st year warning us that we have little time left to save our anemic democracy.

"It is very similar to late Weimar Germany," Chomsky told me when I called him at his office in Cambridge, Mass. "The parallels are striking. There was also tremendous disillusionment with the parliamentary system. The most striking fact about Weimar was not that the Nazis managed to destroy the Social Democrats and the Communists but that the traditional parties, the Conservative and Liberal parties, were hated and disappeared. It left a vacuum which the Nazis very cleverly and intelligently managed to take over."

"The United States is extremely lucky that no honest, charismatic figure has arisen. Every charismatic figure is such an obvious crook that he destroys himself, like McCarthy or Nixon or the evangelist preachers. If somebody comes along who is charismatic and honest this country is in real trouble because of the frustration, disillusionment, the justified anger and the absence of any coherent response. What are people supposed to think if someone says 'I have got an answer, we have an enemy'? There it was the Jews. Here it will be the illegal immigrants and the blacks. We will be told that white males are a persecuted minority. We will be told we have to defend ourselves and the honor of the nation. Military force will be exalted. People will be beaten up. This could become an overwhelming force. And if it happens it will be more dangerous than Germany. The United States is the world power. Germany was powerful but had more powerful antagonists. I don't think all this is very far away. If the polls are accurate it is not the Republicans but the right-wing Republicans, the crazed Republicans, who will sweep the next election."

"I have never seen anything like this in my lifetime. I am old enough to remember the 1930s. My whole family was unemployed. There were far more desperate conditions than today. But it was hopeful. People had hope. The CIO was organizing. No one wants to say it anymore but the Communist Party was the spearhead for labor and civil rights organizing. Even things like giving my unemployed seamstress aunt a week in the country. It was a life. There is nothing like that now. The mood of the country is frightening. The level of anger, frustration and hatred of institutions is not organized in a constructive way. It is going off into self-destructive fantasies.

"I listen to talk radio. I don't want to hear Rush Limbaugh. I want to hear the people calling in. They are like [suicide pilot] Joe Stack. What is happening to me? I have done all the right things. I am a God-fearing Christian. I work hard for my family. I have a gun. I believe in the values of the country and my life is collapsing."

Chomsky has, more than any other American intellectual, charted the downward spiral of the American political and economic system, in works such as "On Power and Ideology: The Managua Lectures," "Rethinking Camelot: JFK, the Vietnam War, and US Political Culture," "A New Generation Draws the Line: Kosovo, East Timor and the Standards of the West," "Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky," "Manufacturing Consent" and "Letters From Lexington: Reflections on Propaganda." He reminds us that genuine intellectual inquiry is always subversive. It challenges cultural and political assumptions. It critiques structures. It is relentlessly self-critical. It implodes the self-indulgent myths and stereotypes we use to elevate ourselves and ignore our complicity in acts of violence and oppression. And it makes the powerful, as well as their liberal apologists, deeply uncomfortable.

Chomsky reserves his fiercest venom for the liberal elite in the press, the universities and the political system who serve as a smoke screen for the cruelty of unchecked capitalism and imperial war. He exposes their moral and intellectual posturing as a fraud. And this is why Chomsky is hated, and perhaps feared, more among liberal elites than among the right wing he also excoriates. When Christopher Hitchens decided to become a windup doll for the Bush administration after the attacks of 9/11, one of the first things he did was write a vicious article attacking Chomsky. Hitchens, unlike most of those he served, knew which intellectual in America mattered. [Editor's note: To see some of the articles in the 2001 exchanges between Hitchens and Chomsky, click here, here, here and here.]

"I don't bother writing about Fox News," Chomsky said. "It is too easy. What I talk about are the liberal intellectuals, the ones who portray themselves and perceive themselves as challenging power, as courageous, as standing up for truth and justice. They are basically the guardians of the faith. They set the limits. They tell us how far we can go. They say, 'Look how courageous I am.' But do not go one millimeter beyond that. At least for the educated sectors, they are the most dangerous in supporting power."

Chomsky, because he steps outside of every group and eschews all ideologies, has been crucial to American discourse for decades, from his work on the Vietnam War to his criticisms of the Obama administration. He stubbornly maintains his position as an iconoclast, one who distrusts power in any form.

"Most intellectuals have a self-understanding of themselves as the conscience of humanity," said the Middle East scholar Norman Finkelstein. "They revel in and admire someone like Vaclav Havel. Chomsky is contemptuous of Havel. Chomsky embraces the Julien Benda view of the world. There are two sets of principles. They are the principles of power and privilege and the principles of truth and justice. If you pursue truth and justice it will always mean a diminution of power and privilege. If you pursue power and privilege it will always be at the expense of truth and justice. Benda says that the credo of any true intellectual has to be, as Christ said, 'my kingdom is not of this world.' Chomsky exposes the pretenses of those who claim to be the bearers of truth and justice. He shows that in fact these intellectuals are the bearers of power and privilege and all the evil that attends it."

"Some of Chomsky's books will consist of things like analyzing the misrepresentations of the Arias plan in Central America, and he will devote 200 pages to it," Finkelstein said. "And two years later, who will have heard of Oscar Arias? It causes you to wonder would Chomsky have been wiser to write things on a grander scale, things with a more enduring quality so that you read them forty or sixty years later. This is what Russell did in books like 'Marriage and Morals.' Can you even read any longer what Chomsky wrote on Vietnam and Central America? The answer has to often be no. This tells you something about him. He is not writing for ego. If he were writing for ego he would have written in a grand style that would have buttressed his legacy. He is writing because he wants to effect political change. He cares about the lives of people and there the details count. He is trying to refute the daily lies spewed out by the establishment media. He could have devoted his time to writing philosophical treatises that would have endured like Kant or Russell. But he invested in the tiny details which make a difference to win a political battle."

"I try to encourage people to think for themselves, to question standard assumptions," Chomsky said when asked about his goals. "Don't take assumptions for granted. Begin by taking a skeptical attitude toward anything that is conventional wisdom. Make it justify itself. It usually can't. Be willing to ask questions about what is taken for granted. Try to think things through for yourself. There is plenty of information. You have got to learn how to judge, evaluate and compare it with other things. You have to take some things on trust or you can't survive. But if there is something significant and important don't take it on trust. As soon as you read anything that is anonymous you should immediately distrust it. If you read in the newspapers that Iran is defying the international community, ask who is the international community? India is opposed to sanctions. China is opposed to sanctions. Brazil is opposed to sanctions. The Non-Aligned Movement is vigorously opposed to sanctions and has been for years. Who is the international community? It is Washington and anyone who happens to agree with it. You can figure that out, but you have to do work. It is the same on issue after issue." Chomsky's courage to speak on behalf of those, such as the Palestinians, whose suffering is often minimized or ignored in mass culture, holds up the possibility of the moral life. And, perhaps even more than his scholarship, his example of intellectual and moral independence sustains all who defy the cant of the crowd to speak the truth.

"I cannot tell you how many people, myself included, and this is not hyperbole, whose lives were changed by him," said Finkelstein, who has been driven out of several university posts for his intellectual courage and independence. "Were it not for Chomsky I would have long ago succumbed. I was beaten and battered in my professional life. It was only the knowledge that one of the greatest minds in human history has faith in me that compensates for this constant, relentless and vicious battering. There are many people who are considered nonentities, the so-called little people of this world, who suddenly get an e-mail from Noam Chomsky. It breathes new life into you. Chomsky has stirred many, many people to realize a level of their potential that would forever been lost."
(c) 2010 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. He is the author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. His latest book is, "Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle."

Of Mice And Men
By David Michael Green

America has the meanest of politics today, and by that I don't mean small.

America also has the most impoverished of politics today, and by that I do mean small.

It's hard to imagine us practicing a political discourse more trivial than the one we do today. It's difficult to imagine a politics less suited to addressing the grave problems facing the country in our time. It's hard to see how our policy-making machinery could be very much more broken than it is, short of the Weimar Republic anyhow (and, some days, it doesn't seem so short of that at all).

It's in this context, especially, that I will miss Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who announced his retirement from the Court this week. Stevens is not just an old-timer, and one of the longest-serving justices on the Court in all of American history, but he is literally and figuratively an anachronism - an alien from another time. And, in many ways, it was a substantially better time.

To get a sense of how much that is so, it's worth noting that we are talking about a guy who is, or was at least, probably a Republican. We know for sure that he was appointed by the Republican president, Gerry Ford. Talk about a long time ago. Stevens is such a dinosaur, he comes from the era when Republicans weren't all Neanderthals. And I don't refer just to their abysmal politics, either, nor even to the fundamental deceitfulness at the core of those politics. What distinguishes the post-Ford Party of Reagan more than that is their meanness, their smallness, and their sheer destructiveness.

But I often worry that the scariest effect of our times - especially for people who have the mixed fortune of being younger than I am - is not so much that we have already, or might soon, lose entirely a level of decency in our politics, but far worse still, that we will lose the capacity to imagine decency. Such concerns always bring me back to the beautifully rendered nightmare of Orwell's 1984, where the greatest achievement of the regime was just that - its success in stripping the citizenry of the ability to even verbalize alternative visions.

I wonder about that today. For anyone who is, say, forty years old or younger in America - quite a large proportion of the population - do they even understand that politics doesn't have to practiced in the way it has been since Reagan turned the GOP into a party of thugs, and Clinton led the Democrats into their role as thug-enablers? Do they know that it actually was once different, not so long ago? Can an alternative praxis, which is not even theoretical but quite real in recent history, still be envisioned?

For if it cannot, then the likelihood of a movement to restore it is radically diminished. One needs a vision before undertaking a long march. And if we can no longer envision a better politics, then surely this is the greatest and most insidious victory of the regressive revolution these last three decades. It's one thing to wreck the ship of state and loot the passengers. It's quite a greater and more permanent feat to strip them also of the capacity to realize that it doesn't have to be that way.

American politics were not perfect before this revolution, let's be clear. Both Nixon and McCarthy, for example, pre-date this wider disaster. And Democrats like Lyndon Johnson or the excruciatingly well-named Hubert Humphrey could simultaneously launch wars of the greatest ferocity - and do so for their own career purposes, knowing that the war could not be won - even while midwifing great national progressive strides in health care and civil rights. There were, to be sure, some very ugly moments in modern American history before the Wrecking Crew of the Right instantiated ugliness as standard operating procedure in the US of A.

But there were differences of substantial import then, too. The politics of the far right, to begin with, were the politics of the far right. Today they have simply been mainstreamed. Reagan, fortunately, has become a historical ghost for young people, not much different than Andrew Jackson in terms of meaningfulness to their lives. Before that he was a moderately successful or failed president, depending on how you define success. What very few remember is that just before that he was little more than a punch line. Throughout most of the 1970s, people used to laugh out loud about the idea of someone that ideologically nutty being president.

Moreover, even when there were excesses like Nixon or McCarthy, the bulk of the Republican Party could usually be counted on - albeit far later than it should have - to police itself. It was Barry Goldwater, after all, who rode up Pennsylvania Avenue with a delegation of Republicans to inform Tricky Dick that he was finished. It was the Eisenhower wing of the Party that ultimately turned on McCarthy.

Ike did more than that. He alsp wrote a letter to his brother Ed in 1954, in which he talked about the lunatics of the far right who wanted to undo the New Deal, now that the GOP had finally come to power after twenty years in the well-deserved wilderness. These folks were absolutely no different than the tea party freaks and scary monsters who today not only dominate the GOP, but own it entirely. What Eisenhower (not exactly a long-haired, dope-smoking, Trotskyite anti-capitalist revolutionary) said about them not only reveals the lunacy of their politics in completely unvarnished terms, but shows how fringe they were within the GOP, until the Reagan era:

"Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid."
Could we imagine George W. Bush or Dick Cheney or Newt Gingrich or Sarah Palin uttering those words? Of course not. Why would they call themselves stupid?

Losing John Paul Stevens reminds us just how far down the road to suicidal self-destruction we've now come. He is the last of his generation. It's not that Stevens was always a voice for liberal politics, or always showed progressive wisdom in his court decisions. He didn't, especially in his earlier years on the bench. But what he represented, especially of late, was an integrity and a selflessness that has all but entirely disappeared from American politics in our time.

If you doubt this proposition, then ask yourself this question: When was the last time you saw an act of genuine political courage in America? When was the last time you saw someone do the right thing because it was the right thing to do? When was the last time somebody sacrificed a job, or a few bucks, or their status among the freeze-dried, blow-hard, pontificator set of Washington's chattering class? Let alone something more. When was the last time you observed someone risk their lives, or perhaps decades in jail, for a principle?

Not only does it not happen anymore, but the very ethos of personal sacrifice is itself sadly tattered and shattered in our time. Members of the American military sometimes take remarkable risks and make supreme sacrifices, but I don't think they often do it in the name of abstract principles. In fact I think they - the brass especially - far too often trample such principles in pursuit of other goals. As David Halberstam noted in his histories of the Korean and Vietnam wars, men who could be quite brave in battle often became bureaucratic cowards of frightening proportions, protecting their careers as they later rose up the ranks of the Pentagon establishment. And this, of course, at the immense cost of grief and even lives for those unlucky enough to have served under them.

Bobby Kennedy made essentially the same point, more broadly:

"Few men are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital, quality for those who seek to change a world which yields most painfully to change."

The heroes willing to make sacrifices of this sort come from another era. Daniel Ellsberg risked all to share with us the military's own secret truth about Vietnam. Elliot Richardson and William Ruckelshaus gave up their cabinet positions rather than protect the crimes of Richard Nixon by firing Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox. Cyrus Vance resigned on principle as Carter's Secretary of State. In the Clinton era, two lower ranking officials quit in protest of his draconian welfare legislation.

Today, a few Bush administration officials have pointed to the crimes of that regime, but always too meekly and always too late to matter much. I admire Richard Clarke and his patriotic candor. He tried to alert the country to the nature of the president in time to prevent a second term, but not in time to avert the illegal and murderous invasion of Iraq, based on lies to which Clarke was privy. And Colin Powell, whose reputation was always wildly inflated, anyhow, allowed his stature and legacy to be reduced dramatically rather than refusing to become a tool of the Bush/Cheney train wreck. He was probably the only American who could have single-handedly stopped the march to war in 2003 if he had but spoken up. Alas, he did not, and perhaps a million people are dead now as a consequence.

These are, as Bobby Kennedy notes, hard things to do. But it always struck me that - unless one is a sociopath - the opposite would so much harder. I can't begin to imagine how I'd face myself in the mirror for the rest of my life if had traded an ocean of blood for... what? A career advancement? Can it really be that such a sentiment is rare in twenty-first century America?

Perhaps. It would seem to be the way of our time. But maybe the above caveat explains it all to well. Maybe it's just that far too many of the men and women drawn to 'public service' today are in fact deeply sociopathic. I don't think that's such a stretch. We live in an era that prizes celebrity and personal enrichment like never before. Those who embrace the worship of self today are rewarded with the valued goodies of our society, and are, I think, all too often drawn to political office, and all too often for the wrong reasons.

By no means is this limited to its worst practitioners on the right. One thinks of the astonishing narcissism of John Edwards, which - worse yet - he masked behind a supposed concern for the poor as the rationale for his presidential bid. Or the moral stench of Bill Clinton flying to Arkansas during the 1992 campaign to establish his tough-on-crime bona fides by supervising the execution of Ricky Ray Rector, a man so mentally deficient that he asked to save the desert from his last meal to eat at a later date.

Measured against the Bushes and Cheneys and Powells and Clintons of our time, Justice John Paul Stevens seems just the anachronism he truly is. In the strongly-worded dissents he filed in cases such as Bush v. Gore or Citizens United, one sensed the agony of a real patriot, powerless to hold the line against the destruction of principles and country that he loves, but unwilling to stand by and watch in silence.

Maybe there are other people like that today, but I don't see them. In any case, they don't go by the name of Obama or Biden or Pelosi or Reid, that's for sure. Quite the opposite is the case nowadays. The reckless and destructive rhetoric of the Palins and Becks and Limbaughs of our time has all the political wind of this moment in its sails. Remarkably, this is so even after a solid decade (if not three) in which the corrosive effect of the politics they champion has been on full display for all to see.

But we don't, by and large. See, that is. And that is true, in part, because there are so few John Paul Stevens out there manning the ramparts of such crucial but fragile basic constructs as decency, integrity and honesty. These qualities are entirely requisite to the practices of liberty, democracy and equality, themselves the product of thousands of years of painful development in history.

No, there are - sadly - so few John Paul Stevens out there.

And now there will be one less.
(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,

The Dead Letter Office...

Bob gives the corporate salute

Heil Obama,

Dear Gouverneur McDonald,

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 official celebrating of national confederate slavery month, 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 diamond clusters, presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 05-30-2010. We salute you Herr McDonald, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

Bob gives Dick the corporate salute

Republican Senator Hints "Bailout" Charge Is False
The GOP says it opposes "perpetual taxpayer bailouts" in financial reform bill. But then Bob Corker told the truth
By Joe Conason

How many times will the Democrats fall prey to the same Republican strategy? There is nothing subtle about the Republican approach to frustrating reform, whether in healthcare, banking regulation or climate change. Scarcely anything could be more obvious, indeed, than Mitch McConnell's cynical obstruction of the financial reform bill, announced over the weekend, with an incoherent Scott Brown (and the rest of the Senate Republicans) lining up in formation against "taxpayer bailouts" that literally do not exist in the pending bill.

The underlying agenda on the Republican side, from the top down, is to frustrate and humiliate the president and the Democratic majority -- and to ensure that no legislation passes. They typically begin with a memo from Frank Luntz, outlining rhetorical tricks that will be used to mislead and anger voters, while obscuring the true content of any proposal that Democrats might consider.At the same time, Republicans on the relevant committees simulate bargaining over matters of substance with their Democratic counterparts, which is what the civics books tell us they are supposed to do, of course. But when a bill emerges and debate is scheduled to begin, McConnell stalls the process by threatening a filibuster, due to allegedly unacceptable features of the legislation or an alleged refusal by the Democrats to consult with Republicans. His false claims are aimed at a single objective: to justify the filibuster threat.

At the same time, Republicans on the relevant committees simulate bargaining over matters of substance with their Democratic counterparts, which is what the civics books tell us they are supposed to do, of course. But when a bill emerges and debate is scheduled to begin, McConnell stalls the process by threatening a filibuster, due to allegedly unacceptable features of the legislation or an alleged refusal by the Democrats to consult with Republicans. His false claims are aimed at a single objective: to justify the filibuster threat.

Now this strategy is easy to implement at almost no political cost, because the public is distracted, confused and distrusting of both political parties as well as the media. The outlines of reality are not as clear-cut as the crisp phrasing of Luntzian propaganda, which relies on tropes of three or four words to crystallize opposition framing.

And old principles that once governed the behavior of Congress, and especially senators, have been discarded. In the Republican bloc, partisan maneuvering trumps personal independence and honor at the command of the leadership.

The latest example is Bob Corker, R-Tenn., a freshman member of the Senate Banking Committee who took over the task of "negotiating" a financial reform bill from the ranking Republican, Richard Shelby, R-Ala., who grew weary of the game. Corker's conduct exemplifies the Republican strategy (which, in fairness, he may not have fully understood until last week). Having spent months working on the bill with committee chairman Chris Dodd, D-Conn., Corker suddenly found himself vowing to support a filibuster over provisions in the bill that he had helped to write.

Observing Corker's plight, William Theobald, a political columnist for the Tennessean, described the situation with pithy accuracy:

The issue of how to shut down large financial firms without a taxpayer bailout and without damaging the nation's economy was precisely the issue Corker had spent the most time negotiating with Dodd.

In the wake of McConnell's withering attacks on the bill, a distressed Corker took to the Senate floor Wednesday to defend his efforts while trying not to offend GOP leaders.

Knowing that his leader's complaints about perpetual taxpayer bailouts were wrong -- and that McConnell knows it too -- Corker tried to be careful. But he could not quite bring himself to endorse the leader's falsehood. The $50 billion fund created by the Dodd bill to wind down failing firms would be drawn from the banks and financial companies, not from the Treasury. "That's all industry money," said the Tennessee senator. "To classify that as a bailout fund, in fairness, is not intellectually pure."

But Corker did not appear terribly embarrassed by his own contortions. He told Gannett News that he feels "energized" and "liberated." He can help to write a bill and then sign a letter threatening to filibuster that same bill, while acknowledging that the stated reasons for the filibuster are untrue. Nobody in the national press corps will call him to account for that glaring contradiction. And nobody in the press corps will ask McConnell to explain why the Republican senator with the most expertise on this bill has said, as diplomatically as possible, that McConnell is lying.
(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 3
By Kay Ebeling

April 2009 Sunset at Normandie, photo by Kay Ebeling Every morning there was a period of deep quiet, after the helicopters stopped and before morning deliveries began. Then I'd hear runners in Hollywood Reporter and Daily Variety vans pull up near us, double park, then footsteps ran up to front porches around us. Lizzie and I would stay hunched down low, but I imagine after several nights, the neighborhood had seen us sleeping out there in our parked car. But no one said a word. You become invisible when you are homeless.

It's a mutual invisibility. They pretend not to see you and you pretend not to see them.

This particular morning I started the car and the heater, we stretched, pulled onto the street, and headed to the Welfare office, kinda grateful you don't sleep late when you're living on the street. It was good we beat the traffic, good the ride was mostly downhill, from Franklin near Highland down to McArthur Park "human services" office, as the car was literally running on fumes.

Paying for motel rooms over three months, we'd gone through our move-in money, run up every credit card I had, and finally even maxed out the gas card.

In those two months we'd gone to probably every homeless program on the west side of Los Angeles, sat in waiting rooms, sat through lectures, attended mandatory classes in things like, How To Do A Job Interview. My daughter and I still had no address but a 1995 Ford Taurus. At night we liked to park in the Hollywood Hills, where it felt safer than down on the boulevards where the homeless people who don't have cars walk and walk through the night.

If we ran out of gas, we'd end up on the boulevards. The only thing keeping us from slipping totally through the cracks by February 2004 was that Ford Taurus and once it was out of gas, it was no longer an asset.

Tip For Living In Your Car: Park pointing uphill, or you will fight gravity all night, falling onto the steering wheel trying to sleep.

That morning we had an appointment at the welfare office to apply for the L.A. County homeless program. I found in my notes, "I feel like we are covered in dirt. We probably are covered in dirt."

I had taken to relying on air showers to wash up.

You stand in a breeze, hold up your arms, and the air cleans your skin as it blows through the fabric, a crocheted top is best for air showering more places, a very ... efficient way to wash without water. Afterwards you crawl into your car and go to sleep.

I also learned when using public showers a technique for washing my clothes at the same time i wash myself, a practice i still carry out to this day. You'd be surprised the tips a few years of homelessness will add to your normal life, if you ever make it back to normal life.

Bomb Scare in the Welfare Office

There was a long line just inside the entrance at the L.A. welfare office. My 15 year old daughter Lizzie let a man with a baby get in front of us.

Then there was a bomb scare and everyone had to evacuate the building. It was February 2004, and the initial paranoia from Nine Eleven still permeated public buildings. Everyone in the welfare office, caseworkers and clients, had to go across the street to a parking lot.

We got to know a mom who was there with her two toddler aged kids. They had walked seventeen blocks from the shelter where they were staying to the welfare office.

With all of us in the parking lot from the bomb scare, the caseworkers had to continue business outside, or the line of people would just keep growing and growing. So the caseworkers leaned over and had people sign documents on their backs so they could go on their way back onto the streets of Los Angeles, still homeless.

Story Continued Below Feb 2009 Hollywood at Vine 'Diana Ross' photo by Kay Ebeling The lady who walked 17 blocks with two kids would have to come back because they didn't have an appointment. There in the parking lot the welfare workers made an appointment for them, and they left to walk the streets of L.A., meandering around until 6PM or so when they could get back into the shelter, and plan to come back for homeless assistance from the county another day.

That day since we had an appointment, we got onto the official county of Los Angeles County program for homeless families right there in the parking lot.

Here is how it worked back then in 2004.

If you can prove you are genuinely looking for a home, the county gives you enough money for a hotel room for two weeks.

Only you can't and they don't and it's not.

They give you vouchers that should last two weeks in a hotel, but they don't, and that's so the county can help you move into an apartment, but only if you can find one for $454.00 a month. Even the caseworker said, "You won't find a place for $450 a month," so the whole program was basically a charade. ?My caseworker had a Central European accent. I wondered if he was a direct descendent of Franz Kafka.

You went through the motions, pretended look for housing, when really all you were getting was a hotel room for two weeks that would actually just be six or seven nights, but one does not turn down any help once one gets desperate. So each day I would leave our motel and do the charade of looking for anything we could possibly rent for $454 a month in 2004 in L.A., a room behind a shoe repair shop with no bath, anything, but even an SRO downtown cost more than that.

It was a charade, a program that existed on paper, but no one even expected it to work.

The first night we were in the L.A. County homeless program, the hotel I found that would take our voucher and was in a neighborhood I knew, was on Sunset Boulevard near La Brea, called the Studio Inn, if I remember right. It was near Hollywood High School, run by two Pakistani men who I begged to let us stay at the weekly rate, explaining we were in this County program and they nodded like they'd heard it before, and gave us the better rate. We finally got out of the car and into a room.

Few minutes later when I opened the door to go get ice, the two hotel guys were waiting outside our door, panting, like now it was time for us to do them a favor.

Since we turned them down, they said they could not let us have the room at that rate anymore. "This is Hollywood Studio Inn on Sunset Boulevard," they explained, "on weekends rooms rent for as high as 90 to 200 dollars a night.

"This is one big party, Sunset Boulevard on the weekends," the hotelier said as he placed our Welfare vouchers among a stack in his cash drawer.

Most homeless teenagers aren't still living with their parents.

So shelters aren't equipped for a mom with a kid over age 12. That's why it took us so long to get help,

I told the welfare worker next visit that the hotel owners were trying to get us to prostitute ourselves for the difference between a weekly and daily rate, and he broke down and gave me enough vouchers for the rest of our two weeks to actually use them and live in a hotel for two weeks. So we spent those nights in luxury at the Hollywood Seven Star Inn, then moved back onto the street south of Franklin near Highland, waking up to the delivery of Hollywood Reporter and Daily Variety to the residents around us.

A few weeks later, around the time the car was about to die on the street, we got into a temporary shelter, a Christian run place. They were donation run only, didn't take government grants, so they could bend the rules and let my 15 year old daughter and me stay there together. Every other program in L.A. insisted we'd have to separate, her go to a teen home, me to a women's place, as that's the way most grants are written. We just couldn't separate at that time in our lives.

The private Christian shelter didn't have rigid structural guidelines like government projects, so when we found Hope Again Mission at 5161 Sunset Boulevard, my daughter and I finally got into a shelter, then 11 months later into a transitional shelter, and now we live in a neighborhood right around the corner from Hope Again, a part of town that up to November 2003, I would never even drive through.

It's East Hollywood, and today it's home.


Post Note: In notes I found recently from this period, which sparked this series, I wrote this about our nights at the Studio Inn on Sunset Boulevard: "I'm so grateful that men asking my daughter to appear in a sex video for hard cash scare her, rather than tempts her. I must have done something right."

Post Note 2: I remember the day a few week earlier, when I pulled into the parking lot at PATH, People Helping the Homeless, a well-known homeless agency near downtown in our 1995 Ford Taurus. The people waiting outside gave an audible group sigh when we pulled up in that hunk of dented metal, because to them a car means security, a movable shelter, we had more of a home than they did. That car was our last platform keeping us from the final bottom, landing on the street, sleeping in a cardboard box, or on a bus bench.

We don't have a car anymore.

One More Post Note: I was working when we become homeless.

I'm an independent contractor and have to set up my own equipment in my home to work, so while we were homeless, instead of working freelance, i had to take a staff job.

I Was Homeless Working On The Dr. Phil Show

I was working on the Dr. Phil Show, on the Paramount Studios lot, when my daughter and I were homeless and living out of our car in Spring 2004, and then later while we lived in the first of two homeless shelters. Even working fulltime there in the basement of the Dr. Phil Show building on the lot, doing a job that is critical for production of the show, the pay wasn't high enough to get us back into even a small studio apartment.

That's show biz!
(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
~~~ Steve Sack ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

The Word
By The Beatles

Say the word and you'll be free
Say the word and be like me
Say the word I'm thinking of
Have you heard the word is love?
It's so fine, It's sunshine
It's the word, love

In the beginning I misunderstood
But now I've got it, the word is good

Spread the word and you'll be free
Spread the word and be like me
Spread the word I'm thinking of
Have you heard the word is love?
It's so fine, It's sunshine
It's the word, love

Everywhere I go I hear it said
In the good and the bad books that I have read

Say the word and you'll be free
Say the word and be like me
Say the word I'm thinking of
Have you heard the word is love?
It's so fine, It's sunshine
It's the word, love

Now that I know what I feel must be right
I'm here to show everybody the light

Give the word a chance to say
That the word is just the way
It's the word I'm thinking of
And the only word is love

It's so fine, It's sunshine
It's the word, love

Say the word, love
Say the word, love
Say the word, love
Say the word, love
(c) 1965/2010 The Beatles

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Loose Nukes
By Will Durst

President Obama turned from the domestic third rail issue of health care to the internationally radioactive subject of dirty bomb terrorism by hosting a nuclear summit in DC, convincing the leaders of 47 countries to attend. The summit included Presidents and Prime Ministers, Kings and Queens, and a couple of expendable pawns. (No bishops were in attendance. They have their own problems these days.)

Pretty much all the cogs in the atomic machine showed up except North Korea and Iran, which admittedly is like holding a steroids conference without Barry Bonds or Mark McGwire, but hey, it's a START.

The focus was on security, an encouraging sign since the global stockpile of bomb-making materials is now large enough for 120,000 suitcase nukes, which, most experts agree, is about 120,000 too many. It wasn't a total Potemkin summit. Everyone agreed that terrorism is bad and nuclear terrorism is real bad; working with one another is good and they should all meet again in South Korea in 2012 if the Mayans aren't right.

It took 60 years to assemble this pile of mutually assured destruction so it's going to take at least a couple of meetings to get rid of it. There are only 9 members in the nuclear club right now, but a lot of wannabees. And since you can't tell your nuclear players apart without a Nuclear Players Scorecard, here they are, with my official Threat Level grading.


United States. Have weapons. Duh. But we're not the problem because we're the good guys. TL: Dove of peace flying under the rainbow of international co-operation.

Russia. Have weapons and big problem. Leakier than a tinfoil sieve after 3 days of target practice on a 50mm range and the world's largest source of loose nukes. TL: Giant Bear with flame thrower, roaming woods while being chewed on by Balkan squirrels.

China. Have weapons. Concerned only with economic strength. Need to convince them an irradiated consumer is not a repeat consumer. TL: Drunken Panda staggering through a shopping mall with a fistful of short fused flares.

United Kingdom. Have weapons. Not quite positive where they are. In the garden shed of their lake country home perhaps. TL: Your Aunt Gertrude with a bagful of knitting needles on the subway.

Pakistan. Have weapons and worried we pay too much attention to India. As stable as a two- legged stool. TL: Swarm of angry wasps inside a papier mache tent on fire.

India. Have weapons and worried we pay too much attention to Pakistan. Don't you hate lovers' spats? TL: Sacred bull in a china shop full of crystal decanters stoppered to the rim with nitro.

Germany. No nuclear weapons. But if they really need some all they have to do is knock on France's door and ask to borrow a couple. TL: A domesticated wolf on an ankle bracelet, but a wolf nonetheless.

France. Have weapons, but more interested in discovering ways to use them to braise lamb. TL: Carnivorous escargot in a mine field.

Israel. Everybody knows they have weapons, but they won't admit it and haven't tested any. Making a scary situation scarier. TL: Tasmanian Devil tethered to a water soluble stake in the rain.

North Korea. Have weapons. But delivery system is a team of musk oxes. TL: Electric Cuckoo Clock made out of C-4 with faulty wiring.

Iran. No weapons, but definitely in the market for a fixer-upper. TL: Cigar smoking pit bull headed straight for the fireworks factory.
(c) 2010 Will Durst, is a San Francisco based political comic, who writes sometimes. Of which this would be a glaring example. Catch him hosting Showtime's "The Green Collar Comedy Show" starting Thursday April 22nd at 9pm. And don't forget his new CD, "Raging Moderate" from Stand-Up Records now available on both iTunes and Amazon.

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Issues & Alibis Vol 10 # 17 (c) 04/23/2010

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