Issues & Alibis

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In This Edition

Noam Chomsky is, "Remembering Fascism."

Uri Avnery explores, "In The Name Of Zionism."

David Sirota finds, "Bill Clinton's Contrition Contribution."

Christopher Cooper with some words of wisdom, "It's A Never-ending Highway For A Dust Bowl Refugee."

Jim Hightower warns of, "Foreign Corporations In Our Elections."

Robert Dreyfuss foresees us, "Crippling, Crushing, And Suffocating Iran."

James Donahue offers an interesting hypothesis, "Have Some Americans Been Turned Into Radio Controlled Zombies?"

John Nichols examines, "Bank Reform."

Chris Floyd studies, "Waste Management."

Case Wagenvoord wonders, "So, Who Needs Corporations Anyhow?"

Mike Folkerth exclaims, "Arizona Governor Jan Brewer; I For One Am Proud of Her!"

Chris Hedges introduces, "The New Secessionists."

David Michael Green proclaims, "Hell Yes, Secesh!"

Henry Louis Gates wins the coveted "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Greg Palast goes, "Behind The Arizona Immigration Law."

Margaret Kimberley outs, "The Dangerous Henry Louis Gates."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion reports, "Biden Receives Lifetime Ban From Dave & Buster's" but first Uncle Ernie discovers, "ObamaCare: The Next Phase."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Mike Scott, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Brian McFadden, Ted Rall, Kevin Siers, Fog City Journal.Com, Greg Palast, Tony Auth, AP, Reuters 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."

ObamaCare: The Next Phase
By Ernest Stewart

"Do you begin to see, then, what kind of world we are creating? It is the exact opposite of the stupid hedonistic Utopias that the old reformers imagined. A world of fear and treachery and torment, a world of trampling and being trampled upon, a world which will grow not less but more merciless as it refines itself. Progress in our world will be progress toward more pain."
1984 ~~~ George Orwell

"I'm counting on the bipartisan panel to bring an end to an already severe fiscal crisis brought on by decades of bad fiscal habits in Washington." ~~~ President Obama

"It's people. Soylent Green is made out of people. They're making our food out of people. Next thing they'll be breeding us like cattle for food. You've gotta tell them. You've gotta tell them!" ~~~ Soylent Green ~~~ Detective Thorn

Just when you thought government couldn't possibly get any more intrusive, along comes "E-Care" to show you that you ain't seen nothing yet!

E-Care, which is the next step after forcing you to follow ze health insurance orders, is a whole slew of new methods to keep a watch on not only you, but all of your body mechanisms as well. For example, pills with micro transmitters in them that allow your doctor, or big brother, to monitor whether you're taking all your meds. If not, they'll send out an enforcement team to make sure you comply with "doctor's orders" or you'll be kept heavily sedated 'til you do. This new technology described at the U.S. Senate Committee on Aging allows:

Pills to be electronically outfitted with transmitters which track the patient's compliance with medications and broadcast that information back to government health care workers who check for "compliance and efficacy."

A micro chip, or perhaps several micro chips, to be implanted under your skin will carry your personal ID and medical history and your blood makeup to see what government sanctioned meds you are taking and which ones you maybe flushing down the toilet. This info is constantly uploaded to a bracelet device and broadcast back to a monitoring station. It also could be used to see if you're doing those awful vitamins and herbal medicines that they're outlawing now under Codex Alimentarius. Go over the allowable dosage for vitamin C and you may find yourself locked up and watched over until you come down from the dosage, or perhaps you'll be diagnosed as being crazy for eating the herbals and put on heavy dosages of psychiatric drugs to keep you in line with their program. Those days of self-medicating with marijuana will certainly be over! However, if you fail to take your they can strap a device on you that injects your meds all by itself whenever it receives a signal to do so. How do you like ObamaCare so far?

Take enough vitamin D to raise your levels high enough to prevent cancer and you could be arrested for "spending too much time in the sun" and thrown into a with no windows to "protect you from getting skin cancer." You see, "Winston and Julia," big brother is only doing this for your own good, so relax and go with it! Big Pharma would never hurt you, would they? They're worried about your health and not their bottom line, right?

As Natural News reports:

The program is basically Total Information Awareness at the personal biology level. Big Brother wants to monitor your biochemistry, you see, to make sure you remain compliant with its pharmaceutical and junk foods agenda.

It's not enough for the government to monitor your phone calls, scan your emails and watch you sunbathing on your back porch with spy satellites; now they want to snoop into your bloodstream and monitor what you've been eating, drinking or swallowing.

So, obviously there is nothing to worry about here, America. Just turn over and go back to sleep because Big Brother knows what's best for you!

In Other News

I see where Obama and the boys are getting ready to raise taxes and raid the Social Security and Medicare accounts to balance the budget. Surprise, surprise, huh? I bet you weren't expecting that? Oh, you were?

He's using a federal deficit commission for cover, hoping to avoid a backlash from the already overtaxed middle class and the poor who depend upon Social Security and Medicare to keep them alive. He's put together ten Demoncrats and eight Rethuglicans, sixteen of whom are a little to the right of Darth Vader, and a couple of token liberals for cover. This group is headed by the former Rethuglican Senator from Wyoming, Alan Simpson, and corporate clown and Clinton lackey, Erskine Bowles.

Now here's a surprise, the report isn't due until after the November election so these federal crooks won't be held responsible until 2012 election. Imagine that. This is merely smoke and mirrors to pay down the outrageous debt accumulated under both Bush and Obama by raiding popular entitlement programs, which, by the way, weren't part of the problem but have always been a place where Con-gress has gone to steal some of our money for their pet pork projects and needless wars. Then they turn around and say they have to cut back the programs that you've already paid for as there isn't enough money.

I have, of course, a simple solution to the deficit problems but they'll never use it as their corporate and military puppet masters won't allow it. Simply just tax the rich at pre-Rayguns rates or, better yet, the same rates that were in effect under Eisenhower, and end the wars. This will not only pay down and pay off the debt but also add a surplus to the account. No, they would rather tax you to death than face up to their masters and you know and I know that's the truth. Still, it will be interesting to see the song and dance this bipartisan commission will produce and how Obama will try and sell this boondoggle to you and me!

And Finally

Those corpo-rat owned knuckleheads over at the FDA are at it again. This time they're busy warning the folks over at Diamond Foods that their walnuts are a drug and, hence, soon we'll need a prescription to get a bag to chew on.

In a program started under the Bush regime, the FDA has been busily taking healthy foods off our menu in order to make us eat various GMO poisons to get us into the grave sooner and make more room for our elite masters on this overcrowded planet and, who knows, perhaps send us off to the new "Soylent Green" factories?

The FDA issued a warning to Diamond Foods stating that their claims for the health promoting qualities of walnuts have moved walnuts from a food to a drug while at the very same time allows Frito-Lay to advertise its health-destroying chips as "heart healthy." Scary, huh? Here's what the FDA said:

Based on claims made on your firm's website, we have determined that your walnut products are promoted for conditions that cause them to be drugs because these products are intended for use in the prevention, mitigation, and treatment of disease. The following are examples of the claims made on your firm's website under the heading of a web page stating "OMEGA-3s ... Every time you munch a few walnuts, you're doing your body a big favor.:

* Studies indicate that the omega-3 fatty acids found in walnuts may help lower cholesterol; protect against heart disease, stroke and some cancers; ease arthritis and other inflammatory diseases; and even fight depression and other mental illnesses.

* [O]mega-3 fatty acids inhibit the tumor growth that is promoted by the acids found in other fats ...

* [I]n treating major depression, for example, omega-3s seem to work by making it easier for brain cell receptors to process mood-related signals from neighboring neurons.

* The omega-3s found in fish oil are thought to be responsible for the significantly lower incidence of breast cancer in Japanese women as compared to women in the United States.

Because of these intended uses, your walnut products are drugs.

Actually, all food that is good for you could be classified as drugs, as could the GMO poisons. They all alter your body chemistry, the very definition of a drug. Even water could be classified as a drug if you drank enough of it.

As I've shown before, the FDA since it's inception (right after the "Civil" War) has been used by the corpo-rats for their profits and our losses. This is just another example of what they're about. You'd think that American people would have done something about the FDA sellout by now, huh?

I wrote the FDA a letter and I'll let you know their reply, if I get one?

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.


03-10-1977 ~ 04-22-2010
Thanks for the music!


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.

Remembering Fascism
Learning From the Past
By Noam Chomsky

Madison: Radical, Intellectual Retrospective, April 8, 2010

I don't have to say how pleased and grateful I am for this honor, which also offers an occasion to look back over the years. What comes to mind with particular salience is the earliest years, perhaps because I've been thinking a lot about them lately, for other reasons. They were, of course, formative years for me personally, but I think the significance unfortunately goes beyond.

I'm just old enough to have memories of Hitler's speeches on the radio 75 years ago. I didn't understand the words, but couldn't fail to grasp the menace of the tone and the cheering mobs. The first political article I wrote was in February 1939, right after the fall of Barcelona. I'm sure it was nothing memorable. I can recall a little of it, but much more clearly the mood of fear and foreboding. The article opened with the words: "Austria falls, Czechoslovakia falls, and now Barcelona falls" - and Spain with it, a few months later. The words have always stayed in my mind, along with the dread, the sense of the dark clouds of fascism gathering over Germany and then Europe and perhaps beyond, a growing force of unimaginable horror. Though no one could foresee the Holocaust, Kristallnacht had taken place just a few weeks before and the desperate flight of refugees had been building up for years, many of them unable to believe what was happening.

In those years I also had my first experience with radical intellectuals - though they wouldn't be called "intellectuals" as the term is standardly used, applying to people with status and privilege who are in a position to reach the public with thoughts about human affairs and concerns. And since privilege confers responsibility, the question always arises as to how they are using that responsibility, topics very much alive in those years in work by Erich Fromm, Russell and Dewey, Orwell, Dwight MacDonald, and others, which I soon came to know. But the radical intellectuals of my childhood were different. They were my working-class relatives in New York, mostly unemployed during the Depression, though one uncle, with a disability, had a newsstand thanks to New Deal measures and so was able to help support much of the family. My parents could, too, in a small way. As Hebrew teachers in Philadelphia, they had that rare gift of employment, so we had a stream of aunts and cousins staying with us periodically.

My New York relatives mostly had limited formal education. My uncle, who ran the newsstand and was an enormous influence on my early life, had never gone beyond fourth grade. But it was one of the most lively intellectual circles I have ever been part of, at least on the periphery as a child. There were constant discussions about the latest performance of the Budapest String Quartet, the controversies between Stekel and Freud, radical politics and activism, which was then reaching impressive peaks. Particularly significant were the sit-down strikes, just a step short of workers taking over factories and radically changing the society - ideas that should be very much alive today.

Along with being a major factor in New Deal measures, the rising labor activism aroused great concern in the business world. Its leading figures warned about "the hazard facing industrialists [with] the rising political power of the masses," and the need to intensify "the everlasting battle for the minds of men," and instituted programs to overcome this threat to order and discipline, put aside during the war, but taken up afterward with extreme dedication and scale. The US is unusual among industrial societies in its highly class-conscious business community, relentlessly fighting a bitter class war, in earlier years with unusual levels of violence, more recently through massive propaganda offensives.

Some of my relatives were close to the Communist Party, others were bitterly anti-Communist from the left; and some, like my uncle, were anti-Bolshevik, from farther left. Among those close to the party, while there was ritual obeisance to Russia, I had the feeling that for most the focus was right here: the civil rights and labor movements, welfare reform and badly needed social change. The party was a force that did not anticipate quick victories, but was always present, ready, persistent, dedicated to moving from temporary defeat to the next struggle, something that we really lack today. It was also connected with a broader movement of workers' education and associations and, not least, an opportunity for my unemployed seamstress aunts to spend a week in the country at an ILGWU resort and other escapes from what should have been a very grim world, though I remember it from my own personal experiences - limited of course - as a time that was full of hope, quite unlike today under circumstances that are objectively much less severe.

By 1941, I was spending as much time as I could in downtown Manhattan, gravitating to another group of radical intellectuals in the small bookstores on 4th Avenue run by anarchist refugees from the Spanish revolution of 1936, or the office of the Anarchist Freie Arbeiter Stimme in Union Square nearby. They, too, didn't fit the standard formula for intellectuals. But if by the term we mean people who think seriously about life and society, their problems and possible solutions, against a background of knowledge and understanding, then they were indeed intellectuals, impressive ones. They were quite happy to spend time with a young kid who was fascinated with the 1936 anarchist revolution, which I thought then, and still think, was one of the high points of Western civilization and in some ways a beacon for a better future. I picked up a lot of material that I used 30 years later when writing about the topic, most of it not then in print.

Among the most memorable of these materials is a collection of primary documents about collectivization, published in 1937 by the CNT, the anarcho-syndicalist union that is celebrating its centenary this year. One contribution has resonated in my mind ever since, by peasants of the village of Membrilla. I would like to quote parts of it:

In [the] miserable huts [of Membrilla] live the poor inhabitants of a poor province; eight thousand people, but the streets are not paved, the town has no newspaper, no cinema, neither a cafe nor a library.... Food, clothing and tools were distributed equitably to the whole population. Money was abolished, work collectivized, all goods passed to the community, consumption was socialized. It was, however, not a socialization of wealth but of poverty.... The whole population lived as in a large family; functionaries, delegates, the secretary of the syndicates, the members of the municipal council, all elected, acted as heads of a family. But they were controlled, because special privilege or corruption would not be tolerated. Membrilla is perhaps the poorest village of Spain, but it is the most just.

These words, by some of the most impoverished peasants in the country, capture with rare eloquence the achievements and promise of the anarchist revolution. The achievements did not, of course, spring up from nothing. They were the outcome of many decades of struggle, experiment, brutal repression - and learning. The concept of how a just society should be organized was in the minds of the population when the opportunity arose. The experiment in creating a world of freedom and justice was crushed all too soon by the combined forces of fascism, Stalinism and liberal democracy. Global power centers understood very well that they must unite to destroy this dangerous threat to subordination and discipline before turning to the secondary task of dividing up the spoils.

In later years, I have sometimes been able to see first-hand at least a little of the lives of poor people suffering brutal repression and violence - in the miserable slums of Haiti at the peak of the terror in the early '90s, supported by Washington though the facts are still suppressed and highly relevant to today's tragedies. Or in refugee camps in Laos, where tens of thousands of people were huddled, driven from their homes by a CIA mercenary army after years of trying to survive in caves under relentless bombing that had nothing to do with the war in Vietnam, one of the gravest atrocities of modern history, still largely unknown and still killing many people because the land is saturated with unexploded ordnance. Or in Palestine and southeastern Turkey and many other places. Among them, particularly important to me for personal reasons, is southern Colombia, where campesinos, indigenous people and Afro-Colombians are being driven from their devastated lands by terror and chemical warfare, called here "fumigation," as if we somehow have the right to destroy other countries on pretexts that we manufacture - people capable of the most miraculous sympathy and humanity, despite the awful suffering in which we play a major role, while looking the other way - though not in Madison, thanks to the work of the Colombia support group here.

One of the things I learned in the anarchist bookstores and offices 70 years ago was that I had been wrong in taking the fall of Barcelona in 1939 to be the death knell for freedom in Spain. It rang two years earlier, in May 1937, when the industrial working class was crushed by the Communist-led repression and Communist armies swept through the countryside destroying the collectives, with the assistance of the liberal democracies and with Hitler and Mussolini waiting in the wings - an immense tragedy for Spain, even though not quite the victory that the predators had anticipated.

A few years later, I left home for graduate studies at Harvard, where I had my first extensive experience with the elite intellectual world. On arrival, I went to the standard faculty-run party for incoming students and was regaled by a very distinguished philosopher with an account of the Depression - which, he assured me, had not taken place. It was a liberal fabrication. There were no rag-pickers coming to our door in desperation in the early '30s, no women workers being beaten by security forces while on strike at a textile factory that I passed on a trolley with my mother when I was about five, none of my unemployed working class relatives. A few businessmen might have suffered, but there was nothing beyond that.

I was soon to learn that this was far from an exception, but I don't want to suggest that this was typical of Harvard intellectuals. Most were Stevenson liberals, people who applauded when Stevenson said at the UN that we have to defend Vietnam from "internal aggression," from the "assault from within," as President Kennedy put it. Words that we hear again today, for example, last Sunday, in The New York Times, where we read that after the conquest of Marja in Helmand Province, the Marines have collided with a Taliban identity so dominant that the movement appears more akin to the only political organization in a one-party town, with an influence that touches everyone. "We've got to re-evaluate our definition of the word 'enemy,'" said Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholson, commander of the Marine expeditionary brigade in Helmand Province. "Most people here identify themselves as Taliban ... We have to readjust our thinking so we're not trying to chase the Taliban out of Marja, we're trying to chase the enemy out," he said.

A problem that has always bedeviled conquerors, very familiar to the US from Vietnam, where the leading US government scholar in a widely praised book lamented that the enemy within was the only "truly mass-based political party in South Vietnam" and any effort of ours to compete with it politically would be like a conflict between a minnow and a whale, so we had to overcome their political force by using our comparative advantage, violence - as we did. Others have faced similar problems: for example, the Russians in Afghanistan in the 1980s, an invasion that also elicited the outrage that we muster up for the crimes of enemies. Middle East specialist William Polk reminds us that the Russians "won many military victories and through their civic action programs they actually won over many of the villages" - and in fact, as we know from reliable sources, created substantial freedom in Kabul, particularly for women. But, to go on with Polk, "over the decade of their involvement, the Russians won almost every battle and occupied at one time or another virtually every inch of the country, but they lost ... the war. When they gave up and left, the Afghans resumed their traditional way of life."

The dilemmas faced by Obama and McChrystal are not quite the same. The enemy whom the Marines are trying to chase out of their villages have virtually no outside support. The Russian invaders, in sharp contrast, were facing a resistance that received vital support from the US, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, who were rounding up the most extreme radical Islamic fundamentalists they could find - including those terrorizing women in Kabul - and were arming them with advanced weapons, while also carrying forward the program of radical Islamization of Pakistan, yet another one of Reagan's gifts to the world, along with Pakistan's nuclear weapons. The goal of these US operations was not to defend Afghanistan. It was explained frankly by the CIA station chief in Islamabad, who was running the operations. The goal was to "kill Soviet Soldiers." He boasted that he "loved" this "noble goal," making it very clear, in his words, that "the mission was not to liberate Afghanistan," which he didn't care about. You're familiar I'm sure with Zbigniew Brzezinski's somewhat similar boasts.

By the early 1960s, I was deeply engaged in antiwar activities. I won't go into the details, though they tell us a lot about the intellectual climate, particularly in liberal Boston. By 1966, my own involvement was deep enough so that my wife went back to college to get a degree after 17 years because of the likelihood of a long prison sentence - which came very close. The trial was already announced, but canceled after the Tet offensive, which convinced the business community that the war was becoming too costly and, in any event, the major war aims had been achieved - another long story I won't go into. After the Tet offensive and the shift in official policy, it suddenly turned out that everyone had been a long-term opponent of the war - in deep silence. Kennedy memoirists rewrote their accounts to present their hero as a dove - untroubled by the radical revisions or by the extensive documentary evidence showing that JFK would consider withdrawal from a war he knew to be domestically unpopular only after victory was assured.

Even before the Tet offensive there were growing doubts in these circles, not about the sentimental notions of right and wrong that we reserve for the crimes of enemies, but about the likelihood of success in beating back the "assault from within." Perhaps, a paradigm was Arthur Schlesinger's reflections when he was beginning to be concerned that victory might not be so easily at hand. As he put it, "we all pray" that the hawks will be right and that the surge of the day will bring victory. And if it does, we will be praising the "wisdom and statesmanship" of the US government in gaining military victory while leaving "the tragic country gutted and devastated by bombs, burned by napalm, turned into a wasteland by chemical defoliation, a land of ruin and wreck," with its "political and institutional fabric" pulverized. But escalation probably won't succeed and will prove to be too costly for ourselves, so perhaps strategy should be rethought.

Little has changed today when Obama is hailed as a leading opponent of the Iraq invasion because it was a "strategic blunder," words that one could also have read in Pravda by the mid-1980s. The imperial mentality is very deeply rooted.

It is sad to say, but not false, that within the dominant spectrum the liberal imperialists are "the good guys." A likely alternative is revealed by the most recent polls. Almost half of voters say that the average Tea Party member is closer to their views than President Obama, whom fewer prefer. There's an interesting breakdown. Eighty-seven percent of those in the so-called "Political Class" say their views are closer to Obama's. Sixty-three percent of what are called "Mainstream Americans" say their views are closer to the Tea Party. On virtually all issues, Republicans are trusted by the electorate more than Democrats, in many cases by double digits. Other evidence suggests that these polls are recording distrust rather than trust. The level of anger and fear in the country is like nothing I can recall in my lifetime. And since the Democrats are in power, the revulsion over the current social-economic-political world attaches to them.

Unfortunately, these attitudes are understandable. For over 30 years, real incomes for the majority of the population have stagnated or declined, social indicators have steadily deteriorated since the mid-1970s after closely tracking growth in earlier years, work hours and insecurity have increased along with debt. Wealth has accumulated, but into very few pockets, leading to probably record inequality. These are, in large part, consequences of the financialization of the economy since the 1970s and the corresponding hollowing out of domestic production. What people see before their eyes is that the bankers who are primarily responsible for the current crisis and who were saved from bankruptcy by the public are now reveling in record profits and huge bonuses, while official unemployment stays at about 10 percent and in manufacturing is at depression levels, one in six, with good jobs unlikely to return. People rightly want answers and they are not getting them, except from voices that tell tales that have some internal coherence, but only if you suspend disbelief and enter into their world of irrationality and deceit. Ridiculing Tea Party shenanigans is a serious error, I think. It would be far more appropriate to understand what lies behind them and to ask ourselves why justly angry people are being mobilized by the extreme right and not by forces like those that did so in my childhood, in the days of formation of the CIO and other constructive activism.

To take just one illustration of the operation of really existing market democracy, Obama's primary constituency was financial institutions, which have gained such dominance in the economy that their share of corporate profits rose from a few percent in the '70s to almost on-third today. They preferred Obama to McCain and largely bought the election for him. They expected to be rewarded and were. But a few months ago, responding to rising public anger, Obama began to criticize the "greedy bankers" who had been rescued by the public and even proposed some measures to constrain them. Punishment for his deviation was swift. The major banks announced prominently that they would shift funding to Republicans if Obama persisted with his offensive rhetoric.

Obama heard the message. Within days, he informed the business press that bankers are fine "guys." He singled out for special praise the chairs of two leading beneficiaries of public largess, JP Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs and assured the business world that, "I, like most of the American people, don't begrudge people success or wealth" - such as the bonuses and profits that are infuriating the public. "That's part of the free market system," Obama continued, not inaccurately, as the concept "free market" is interpreted in state capitalist doctrine.

This should not be a great surprise. That incorrigible radical Adam Smith, speaking of England, observed that the principal architects of power were the owners of the society, in his day the merchants and manufacturers, and they made sure that policy would attend scrupulously to their interests, however "grievous" the impact on the people of England, and, worse, the victims of "the savage injustice of the Europeans" abroad. British crimes in India were a primary concern of an old-fashioned conservative with moral values, a category that a Diogenes might search for today.

A modern and more sophisticated version of Smith's maxim is political economist Thomas Ferguson's "investment theory of politics," which takes elections to be occasions when groups of investors coalesce to invest to control the state by selecting the architects of policies who will serve their interests. It turns out to be a very good predictor of policy over long periods. That should hardly be surprising. Concentrations of economic power will naturally seek to extend their sway over any political process. It happens to be extreme in the US, as I mentioned.

There is much fevered discussion these days about whether, or when, the US is going to lose its dominant position in global affairs to China and India, the rising world powers. There is an element of truth to these laments. But apart from misconceptions about debt, deficits and the actual state of China and India, the discussions are based on a serious misconception of the nature of power and its exercise. In scholarship and public discourse, it is common to take the actors in international affairs to be states that pursue some mysterious goal called "the national interest," divorced from the internal distribution of power. Adam Smith had a sharper eye and his radical truism provides a useful corrective. Bearing it in mind, we can see that there is indeed a global shift of power, though not the one that occupies center stage: a further shift from the global work force to transnational capital, sharply escalating during the neoliberal years. The cost is substantial, including working people in the US, starving peasants in India and millions of protesting workers in China, where labor share in national income is declining even more rapidly than in most of the world.

Political economist Martin Hart-Landsberg observes that China does play a leading role in the real global shift of power, having become largely an assembly plant for a regional production system. Japan, Taiwan, and other advanced Asian economies export parts and components to China and provide most of the sophisticated technology. Chinese labor assembles it and exports it. To illustrate, a Sloan Foundation study estimated that for a $150 iPod exported from China, about 3 percent of value added is by China, but it is counted as a Chinese export. Much concern has been aroused by the growing US trade deficit with China, but less noticed is the fact that the trade deficit with Japan and rest of Asia has sharply declined as the new regional production system takes shape. A Wall Street Journal report concluded that if value added were properly calculated, the real US-China trade deficit would decline by as much as 30 percent, while the US trade deficit with Japan would rise by 25 percent. US manufacturers are following the same course, providing parts and components for China to assemble and export, mostly back to the US. For the financial institutions, retail giants, ownership and management of manufacturing industries and sectors closely related to this nexus of power, all of this is heavenly. Not for American workers, but as Smith pointed out, their fate is not the concern of the "principal architects of policy."

It's true that there is nothing fundamentally new in the process of deindustrialization. Owners and managers naturally seek the lowest labor costs; efforts to do otherwise, famously by Henry Ford, were struck down by the courts, so now it is a legal obligation. One means is shifting production. In earlier days, the shift was mostly internal, especially to the southern states, where labor could be more harshly repressed. Major corporations, like the US steel corporation of the sainted philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, could also profit from the new slave-labor force created by the criminalization of black life after the end of Reconstruction in 1877, a core component of the American industrial revolution, continuing until World War II. It is being reproduced in part during the recent neoliberal period, with the drug war used as a pretext to drive the superfluous population, mostly black, back to the prisons, also providing a new supply of prison labor in state or private prisons, much of it in violation of international labor conventions. For many African-Americans, since they were exported to the colonies, life has scarcely escaped the bonds of slavery, or sometimes worse. More recently the shift is mostly abroad.

Returning to the charges against "greedy bankers," in fairness, we should concede that they have a valid defense. Their task is to maximize profit and market share; in fact, that's their legal obligation. If they don't do it, they'll be replaced by someone who will. These are institutional facts, as are the inherent market inefficiencies that require them to ignore systemic risk: the likelihood that transactions they enter into will harm the economy generally. They know full well that these policies are likely to tank the economy, but these externalities, as they are called, are not their business, and cannot be, not because they are bad people, but for institutional reasons. It is also unfair to accuse them of "irrational exuberance," to borrow Alan Greenspan's brief recognition of reality during the artificial tech boom of the late '90s. Their exuberance and risk taking was quite rational, in the knowledge that when it all collapses, they can flee to the shelter of the nanny state, clutching their copies of Hayek, Friedman and Rand. The government insurance policy is one of many perverse incentives that magnify the inherent market inefficiencies.

In brief, ignoring systemic risk is an inherent institutional property and perverse incentives are an application of Smith's maxim. Again, no great insight.

After the latest disaster occurred, it has been agreed by leading economists that an "emerging consensus" has developed "on the need for macroprudential supervision" of financial markets, that is, "paying attention to the stability of the financial system as a whole and not just its individual parts" (Barry Eichengreen, one of the most respected analysts and historians of the financial system). Two prominent international economists add that, "There is growing recognition that our financial system is running a doomsday cycle. Whenever it fails, we rely on lax money and fiscal policies to bail it out. This response teaches the financial sector: take large gambles to get paid handsomely and don't worry about the costs - they will be paid by taxpayers through bailouts and other devices and the financial system "is thus resurrected to gamble again - and to fail again." The system is a "doom loop," in the words of the official of the Bank of England responsible for financial stability.

Basically the same logic applies elsewhere. A year ago, the business world recognized that the insurance companies and big Pharma, in sharp defiance of the public will, had succeeded in destroying the possibility of serious health reform - a very serious matter, not only for the people who suffer from the dysfunctional health system, but even on narrow economic grounds. About half of the deficit that we are instructed to deplore is attributable to unprecedented military expenditures, rising under Obama, and most of the rest to the increasing costs of the virtually unregulated privatized health care system, unique in the industrial world, also unique in its gifts to drug companies - opposed by a mere 85 percent of the population. Last August, Business Week had a cover story celebrating the victory of the health insurance industries. Of course, no victory is enough, so they persisted in the struggle, gaining more, also against the will of the large majority of the public, another interesting story I'll have to put aside.

Observing this victory, the American Petroleum Institute, backed by the Chamber of Commerce and the other great business lobbies, announced that they are going to use the model of the health industry campaigns to intensify their massive propaganda efforts to convince the public to dismiss concerns about anthropogenic global warming. That has been done with great success; those who believe in this liberal hoax have reduced to barely a third of the population. The executives dedicated to this task know as well as the rest of us that the liberal hoax is real and the prospects grim. But they are fulfilling their institutional role. The fate of the species is an externality that they must ignore, to the extent that market systems prevail.

One of the clearest and most moving articulations of the public mood that I have seen was written by Joseph Andrew Stack, who crashed his small plane into an office building in Austin, Texas, a few weeks ago, committing suicide. He left a manifesto explaining his actions. It was mostly ridiculed, but it deserves much better, I think.

Stack's manifesto traces the life history that led him to this final desperate act. The story begins when he was a teenage student living on a pittance in Harrisburg, PA, near the heart of what was once a great industrial center. His neighbor was a woman in her '80s, surviving on cat food, the "widowed wife of a retired steel worker. Her husband had worked all his life in the steel mills of central Pennsylvania with promises from big business and the union that, for his 30 years of service, he would have a pension and medical care to look forward to in his retirement. Instead he was one of the thousands who got nothing because the incompetent mill management and corrupt union (not to mention the government) raided their pension funds and stole their retirement. All she had was social security to live on" (quoting); and Stack could have added that there have been concerted and continuing efforts by the super rich and their political allies to take even that away on spurious grounds. Stack decided then that he couldn't trust big business and would strike out on his own, only to discover that he couldn't trust a government that cared nothing about people like him, but only about the rich and privileged, or a legal system in which, in his words, "there are two 'interpretations' for every law, one for the very rich and one for the rest of us." Or a government that leaves us with "the joke we call the American medical system, including the drug and insurance companies [that] are murdering tens of thousands of people a year," with care rationed largely by wealth, not need. All in a social order in which "a handful of thugs and plunderers can commit unthinkable atrocities ... and when it's time for their gravy train to crash under the weight of their gluttony and overwhelming stupidity, the force of the full federal government has no difficulty coming to their aid within days if not hours." And much more.

Stack tells us that his desperate final act was an effort to show that there are people willing to die for their freedom, in the hope of awakening others from their torpor. It wouldn't surprise me if he had in mind the premature death of the steel worker that taught him about the real world as a teenager. That steel worker didn't literally commit suicide after having been discarded to the trash heap, but it's far from an isolated case; we can add his and many similar cases to the colossal toll of the institutional crimes of state capitalism.

There are poignant studies of the indignation and rage of those who have been cast aside as the state-corporate programs of financialization and deindustrialization have closed plants and destroyed families and communities. They reveal the sense of acute betrayal on the part of working people who believed they had a fulfilled their duty to society in a moral compact with business and government, only to discover that they had been only instruments for profit and power, truisms from which they had been carefully protected by doctrinal institutions.

Reading Joe Stack's manifesto and a great deal more like it, I find myself recovering childhood memories and much more that I did not then understand. The Weimar Republic was the peak of western civilization in the sciences and the arts, also regarded as a model of democracy. Through the 1920s, the traditional liberal and conservative parties entered into inexorable decline, well before the process was intensified by the Great Depression. The coalition that elected General Hindenburg in 1925 was not very different from the mass base that swept Hitler into office eight years later, compelling the aristocratic Hindenburg to select as chancellor the "little corporal" he despised. As late as 1928, the Nazis had less than 3 percent of the vote. Two years later, the most respectable Berlin press was lamenting the sight of the many millions in this "highly civilized country" who had "given their vote to the commonest, hollowest and crudest charlatanism." The public was becoming disgusted with the incessant wrangling of Weimar politics, the service of the traditional parties to powerful interests and their failure to deal with popular grievances. They were drawn to forces dedicated to upholding the greatness of the nation and defending it against invented threats in a revitalized, armed and unified state, marching to a glorious future, led by the charismatic figure who was carrying out "the will of eternal Providence, the Creator of the universe," as he orated to the mesmerized masses. By May 1933, the Nazis had largely destroyed not only the traditional ruling parties, but even the huge working-class parties, the Social Democrats and Communists, along with their very powerful associations. The Nazis declared May Day 1933 to be a workers holiday, something the left parties had never been able to achieve. Many working people took part in the enormous patriotic demonstrations, with more than a million people at the heart of Red Berlin, joining farmers, artisans, shopkeepers, paramilitary forces, Christian organizations, athletic and riflery clubs, and the rest of the coalition that was taking shape as the center collapsed. By the onset of the war, perhaps 90 percent of Germans were marching with the brown shirts.

As I mentioned, I am just old enough to remember those chilling and ominous days of Germany's descent from decency to Nazi barbarism, to borrow the words of the distinguished scholar of German history Fritz Stern. He tells us that he has the future of the United States in mind when he reviews "a historic process in which resentment against a disenchanted secular world found deliverance in the ecstatic escape of unreason."

The world is too complex for history to repeat, but there are nevertheless lessons to keep in mind. There is no shortage of tasks for those who choose the vocation of critical intellectuals, whatever their station in life. They can seek to sweep away the mists of carefully contrived illusion and reveal the stark reality. They can become directly engaged in popular struggles, helping to organize the countless Joe Stacks who are destroying themselves and maybe the world and to join them in leading the way the way to a better future.
(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.

In The Name Of Zionism
By Uri Avnery

ISRAEL IS a Zionist State. Everybody knows that.

There is no (Jewish) politician in Israel who misses an opportunity to repeat this.

Last week, when we celebrated the 62nd Independence Day, we were flooded by a deluge of patriotic speeches. Each of the Ciceros, without exception, declared his total commitment to Zionism.

By the way, when it comes to the Zionist character of Israel, there is complete agreement on this between the leaders of Israel and their enemies. The Iranian big-mouth declares at every opportunity his conviction that the "Zionist regime" will disappear. Arabs who refuse to utter the name of Israel speak about the "Zionist entity." Hamas and Hizbullah condemn the "Zionist enemy."

But no one of them - friends and enemies alike - spells out what it means. What makes the state into a "Zionist" one?

FOR ME, this is Chinese. I mean, everybody knows that China is a "communist" country. Friends and enemies speak about "Communist China" as something that is self-evident.

But what does this mean? What makes it communist?

When I was young, I learned that communism means the nationalization (or "socialization") of the means of production. Does this describe the reality in China? Or rather the exact opposite?

Communism aimed at creating a classless society, leading in the end to the "withering away" of the state altogether. Is that happening in China? Or is a new class of capitalist tycoons coming into being, while hundreds of millions vegetate in utter poverty?

The Communist Manifesto declared that the proletariat has no fatherland. But China is as nationalistic as any country on the globe.

So what remains of communism in China? Only the name, which serves as a cover for a group of powerful rulers who use the communist party as a means for maintaining a despotic regime.

And, of course - the ceremonies, symbols and banners. Karl Marx would have called them "opium of the people".

AND BACK from the Manifesto of Marx and Engels to the "Jewish State" of Theodor Herzl, the official "Visionary of the State".

Herzl's Zionist vision was quite simple: the Jews, all the Jews, must go to the Jewish State. Those who do not will be Germans, Britons, Americans or members of any other nation, but definitely not Jews.

In the Zionist school in Palestine we were taught that the essence of Zionism is the negation of the Diaspora (called Exile in Hebrew). Not just the physical negation, but the mental, too. Not only the demand that every single Jew come to the Land of Israel, but also a total repudiation of all forms of Jewish life in Exile, their culture and their language (Yiddish/Jewish). The absolutely worst thing we could say about anybody was to call them an "Exile Jew". Herzl's own writings exude, in places, a strongly anti-Semitic odor.

And lo and behold, "Zionist" Israel is embracing the Diaspora, loving the Diaspora, kissing the Diaspora. The Zionist Executive is sending emissaries to the Jewish communities throughout the world in order to reinforce their "Jewish culture".

The leaders of the "Zionist State" depend to a large extent upon the Diaspora and use it for their own purposes. The Exile-Jewish AIPAC ensures the subjection of the US Congress to the will of the Israeli government. The "Anti-Defamation League" (which should more properly be called the "Defamation League") is terrorizing the American media in order to prevent any criticism of Israeli policy. In the past, the United Jewish Appeal was essential for the economic wellbeing of Israel.

For years, the foreign policy of Israel has been based upon the power of the Jewish "exile" community in the US. Every country, from Egypt to Uzbekistan, knew that if it wanted aid from the American Congress, it had first of all to acquire the support of Israel. In order to get access to the American Sultan, they first had to get past the Israeli gate-keeper.

WHAT HAS all this to do with Zionism? What has remained of Zionism, except the historical fact that the Zionist movement has given birth to Israel? Empty platitudes, and an instrument for achieving quite different objectives.

Inside our political system, Zionism serves various and contradictory aims.

If one speaks in Israel of "Zionism", one means "not Arab". A "Zionist" state means a state in which non-Jewish citizens cannot be full partners. Eighty percent of Israel's citizens (the Jews) are telling the other twenty percent (the Arabs): the state belongs to us, not to you.

The state constructs settlements in the occupied territories because it is Zionist. It builds in East Jerusalem because it is Zionist. It discriminates against its Arab citizens in almost every field because it is Zionist. It mistreats African refugees who manage to reach its borders because it is Zionist. There is no dastardly act that cannot be wrapped in the Zionist flag. If Dr. Samuel Johnson were living in Israel today, he would say "Zionism is the last refuge of a scoundrel".

THE "ZIONIST Left" is also waving this flag in order to show how patriotic it is. In the past, it used it mainly to keep its distance from the radical left, which was fighting against the occupation and for the two-state solution. Nowadays, after the "Zionist Left" has itself adopted this program, it continues to wave the Zionist flag in order to differentiate itself from the "Arab" parties (including the Communist Party, 90% of whose voters are Arab).

In the name of Zionism, the "Zionist Left" continues to reject any possibility of including the Arab parties in a future government coalition. This is an act of self-mutilation, since it prevents in advance any possibility of the "Left" returning to power. That's simple arithmetic. As a result, the "Zionist Left" has practically disappeared.

THE WAY the Israeli Right is using the Zionist flag is far more dangerous. In their hands, it has turned into a banner of pure hate.

For years now, the plague of "talkbackists" has been spreading. Unidentified persons are filling cyberspace with their outpourings. Here and there a liberal citizen posts some interesting remarks. But the immense majority of the talkbackists belong to the extreme Right and express themselves in a style reminiscent of the darkest periods of the last century. The appellation "traitor" for leftists is the most moderate in this lexicon, and the demand for their execution has become quite commonplace.

(When my name happens to be mentioned on one of the websites, it routinely draws behind it a train of dozens, and sometimes more than a hundred talkback epithets spewing pure hatred. All this in the name of Zionism.)

The public has become accustomed to this phenomenon and tends to ignore it or to shrug it off. They think that the talkbackists belong to the political underworld, together with the fanatical settlers and assorted marginal rightist groups.

But are they still "marginal"? Or are they closing in on the center of the stage?

RECENTLY, THE public has been exposed to a song that lit red lights all over the place.

A popular singer by the name of Amir Banyon has decided to tell those Leftists exactly what he thinks of them. Here are some choice samples:

"I defend the children / I risk my life for your family / And you spit in my face. / After the enemies outside did not succeed in killing me / You are killing me from the inside."

"I am storming the enemy lines / With my back exposed to you / And you sharpen the knife."

"I am your brother, you are the enemy ... When I weep, you laugh behind my back ... You are handing me over to the foreigner ... You are killing me!"

By the way, those who distributed this masterpiece forgot to mention that the author, he who "risks his life" and "always storms forwards", has never served in a combat unit. Actually, he was released from the army after three days (!) because of drug problems. Later he became a pious Jew and joined Chabad, the sect of the ultra-nationalist Lubavitcher rabbi who never visited Israel.

THE WORDS "handing me over to the foreigner" are the most serious accusation in Jewish tradition. "The moser" (he who hands over) was a Jew who betrayed another Jew to the gentile authorities and deserved death. It was precisely this accusation that sealed the fate of Yitzhak Rabin.

Lately, this has become the main accusation hurled by Israeli fascists against the Left. Recently, an extreme campaign of incitement was launched against the New Israel Fund, a US-based institution that supports many leftist NGOs in Israel. The fund is accused of financing organizations that "helped Judge Goldstone", the "anti-Semitic Jew" who is spreading despicable lies against the Zionist State. (Disclosure: the organization I am active in, Gush Shalom, which is also uncovering war crimes, never received a dime.)

Anat Kam, a soldier who "stole" secret documents from the army command and helped Haaretz to exclose a war crime, was also accused of "serving the enemy". She has been indicted for "aggravated espionage", a crime bearing a life sentence.

"Traitors", "Enemy Agents", "Destroyers of the Fatherland", "Knife in the back" - these epithets are becoming part of the mainstream discourse in Israel. One should not dismiss them.

Not so long ago, just such language led to historic tragedies in Europe.
(c) 2010 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Bill Clinton's Contrition Contribution
By David Sirota

In 1992, I was in 10th grade. Hence, I didn't care about much more than the girls I could never get, the Philadelphia 76ers' playoff chances and the shortcomings of my own unimpressive basketball career (in that order) - and I certainly didn't care about politics. So when my teacher assigned me to represent a Southerner I'd never heard of in a mock presidential debate, I was, um, not psyched.

My attitude changed, though, when I started researching - wait, what was his name again? Oh, right - Bill Clinton. To my surprise, what I found was inspiring. The lip-biting saxophonist seemed like a forthright guy with some heartfelt "feel your pain" outrage at the unfairness of the moment's Gordon Gekko zeitgeist. An early campaign speech I discovered particularly captivated me - the one in which Clinton said, "I expect the jetsetters and featherbedders of corporate America to know that if you sell your companies and your workers and your country down the river, you'll be called on the carpet."

Call me crazy or gullible - at 16, I was probably both - but I bought it. If not for Clinton's campaign (and that irrepressibly optimistic Fleetwood Mac jingle), I might have followed star-crossed hoop dreams already doomed by my god-awful jump shot. Instead, I chose a political path, genuinely believing in that place called hope.

This naive faith, of course, is why I would later come to detest Bill Clinton.

Upon assuming office, he championed the very corporatist policies he railed on - lobbyist-written free-trade pacts and financial deregulation, to name a few. To me, a fervent supporter turned spurned groupie, Clinton eventually looked like an opportunist who knew he was selling out - and yet sold out anyway.

Because of his reversals, I ended up in my adult years being critical of Clinton - so consistently critical, in fact, that I'm shocked to find myself about to spend the next few paragraphs praising him. No, not for his (admittedly impressive) humanitarian work, but for his recent contrition.

Whereas former presidents typically devote their retirements to history-revising legacy preservation, Clinton is laudably doing the opposite - and the nation will, hopefully, benefit.

It began with his congressional testimony last month. Discussing his administration's trade policy, Clinton admitted that it "has not worked" to alleviate poverty, as promised.

"It was a mistake," he said of his agribusiness-backed initiatives forcing impoverished countries to eliminate tariffs. "It was a mistake that I was a party to ... I had to live every day with the consequences of the loss of capacity to produce a rice crop in Haiti to feed those people because of what I did."

Clinton didn't stop there. In a subsequent ABC News interview, he said that when it came to 1990s-era financial deregulation that so harmed today's economy, "I think (my advisers) were wrong, and I think I was wrong."

Some will undoubtedly say "too little, too late." But with Clinton having nothing to gain from these admissions - and, really, lots to lose - the 10th-grade idealist in me says "better late than never."

Better he acknowledge the failure of misguided trade and deregulatory initiatives, rather than pretend they succeeded. Better he apologize for the betrayals that deflated his supporters, rather than feign indifference. Why? Because the penitence may now spur change.

Clinton's compunction could, for instance, convince President Obama to shelve new free-trade proposals and avoid undermining Congress' current financial regulatory legislation. It may compel Obama to fire the same Clinton economic aides who now work in his administration. And it might even prompt a nation of exceptionalists to admit its errors and actually reform itself.

After all, if Clinton can learn from mistakes, then America should be able to do the same.
(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

It's A Never-ending Highway For A Dust Bowl Refugee
By Christopher Cooper

There are times I think working in the woods without pay at thirty-nine degrees in a persistent drizzle is better than sex. So far none of those times or those thoughts have coincided with any of the activities immediately preparatory to or inclusive in any of the commonly practiced sex acts with which I have filled a few hours of my six decades.

In fact, while sitting last Saturday in my ragged recliner by the Atlantic 224 (its smoke baffle years ago melted and dissociated by the hot fires I like to run), absorbing the radiated heat from the oxidation of wood I cut a year and a half ago, reading a somewhat tedious and complicated New Yorker article about Bosnian jewel thieves just to delay layering on several filthy sweatshirts and fueling up the Stihl 260, I'd likely have gladly accepted an invitation to an extended exploration with a brace of clever and lithe Asian-American graduate students in advanced mathematics or an aging bleach-blond widow looking for a man to help her finish a thermos of gin-and-tonic and discuss the exciting new Hosta cultivars available this season after we finished whatever two sexagenarians would be able to do to each other. >{? No such offers having materialized, I did force myself up and out, and I cut a substantial part of a whole new road through a section of the property that will benefit from a great deal of fir removal and pine pruning and that will be a clean and attractive couple acres of good hardwood when I am done. (Assuming I can raise a couple hundred dollars to hire Bardo and his excavator to level the hummocks and fill the dips so the whole road effort will have made sense.) And during the whole of the morning I engaged in this soggy, solitary pursuit I could imagine no place I'd rather have been and no activity more interesting or rewarding or useful or satisfying. (I suppose if any of the ladies previously fantasized had happened by in raingear and undergarments on a quest to study vernal pools I'd have been willing to stop, but it would have been with some regret that I offered my oil- and rain- and sweat-soaked body for our mutual pleasure.)

Cutting firewood, building access roads, improving the appearance, accessibility, utility and productivity of my property is satisfying. The land is better for my having entered the woods and I am better for having applied myself to these purposes. My friend Herman, who is older and in some things wiser than I, tells me often that "We were put on this earth to work." I think he's right. Neither of us believes we were literally put here through any agency or by any entity other than time and chance, but we are grateful for our hours and have discovered through trial-and-error that we are most complete, best fulfilled, the most wholly involved and fully human when we are usefully engaged. Thus, neither of us needs to go beyond our deeded boundaries to find recreation. We do not ski, we do not climb other people's mountains, we do not own sporting gear or watercraft. I do sometimes turn him on to a chance to hear Bob Dylan or John Eddie or Steve Earl in some nearby venue and he will lay down his welding tools or wood splitter for an evening.

But the landscape we have been left by the tectonic restlessness of this volcanic, eroding, uplifting, grinding, heaving, freezing-and-thawing, life-encrusted planet has been enough and more for him and for me and I do not doubt for countless other men and women, most of whom do not feel compelled to splay their knowledge of this great discovery across the Internet as I seem to have to do. But they are there. They are digging the earth and hauling about its stones and cutting and pruning and planting the trees that will grow in this or that climate (and trying a few that won't-or just might).

And then, of course, there are the normal people. (My friend Herman says "Show me one good thing ever accomplished by a normal person," but that's the foundation of a whole other essay, you can be sure). The normal people, or a fair sampling of them, are sitting on grubby carpets and stained fibreglass chairs, breathing machine-handled air in airports all across Europe, moaning that they can't get someplace they thought they ought to be or would rather be or would have been some days gone, had it not been for that volcano in Iceland. I know this because every half hour or so one of them gets interviewed on Public Radio.

You might think that people were no longer starving in Africa or Haiti, that despots weren't suppressing populations of innocents across the globe, that Catholic priests weren't still buggering acolytes, that our brave young soldiers weren't maneuvering drone airplanes over Afghanistan in search of wedding and funeral parties to incinerate, that Joe Lieberman and Barack Obama weren't cooking up greater giveaways to the nuclear and coal industries. You could think that it mattered that a few thousand businessmen wouldn't make their scheduled useless or corrupt (or useless and corrupt) meetings in London or New York or Dubai, that the gates of EuroDisney would open to a few fewer Swedish of German or Japanese families this week.

I don't doubt one feels frustrated and annoyed at being penned in a plastic-infused indoor environment with hundreds of like sufferers, forced to breathe the body exudations of one's fellow man and his increasingly ill-tempered children for hours turning to days. I just don't understand why this obvious fact is newsworthy beyond the first, fleeting mention, why it leads every newscast three days into the event. The twenty-nine miners murdered by an American coal company scarcely received such coverage.

Except, of course, I do understand. It is now commonplace for any middle-class person to fly pretty much anywhere, anytime, for what he or she finds is a small part of the family's budget. The quarters may be cramped, amenities non-existent, security a preposterous, futile, exaggerated, expensive, over-long joke, but a reservation is only a click away, and we have convinced ourselves we must be away, must be somewhere other than where we are. There are conventions. Sales meetings. Weekend getaways. Extended vacations. Summers abroad. Some of us migrate great distances with the seasons, as do the birds and butterflies, but we have not the ambition or skill to make the distances under our own power. We send our children to colleges across the country and parents way over there send our institutions their scholars, the traffic passing itself coming and going each vacation break.

The real story, the one only incidentally covered by the fevered reporters, is of course the great natural event itself-the volcano. This is living, fire-breathing geology, and I could not soon get too much news and analysis and discussion of it. More, this eruption is happening from underneath Eyjafjallajokull glacier-you get your fire and you get your ice! Interview more vulcanologists, plate tectonic experts and Icelandic citizens with unpronounceable names, please. Let the businessmen and tourists and Congressmen on fact-finding junkets wallow in self-pity or get home by taxi or train or trans-Atlantic steamer as they may wish. I'm sure it's a pain, but I don't need to hear their cries.

I went back into the woods again Sunday. It's dangerous work, but maybe safer than going to church, what with all those horny pederast bishops looking for a good time with a youngster of the faith. My boy and I worked through a few showers, an occasional quick shot of sunlight and a small but provocative presence of blackflies. We finished roughing out our path; we piled all the brush we generated; we pruned every good tree along the way as high as the pole saw would go; we heaped the firewood on high ground. Toward the end of the day Karter took to digging caves in brush piles instead of working (he's five). But he stayed cheerful. He was happy to be on the ground with a saw, a set of pruning shears and his old but still (to him) impressive dad directing and informing him.

About seven o'clock we headed back to the house for supper. As we left our tools under cover I said, "Here we are, home again." "We've been home," he said. "Even when we're out in our woods, we're home." And where, after all, would we better be? Europe? Sure, if we were Europeans. I'd love to visit the maple collection at Esveld Nursery in Boskoop, Holland, but with all the sunlight hitting our good ground where we've lately murdered so much balsam fir, we have plenty of room to grow more species and cultivars, rather than pollute the higher levels of the atmosphere by riding across the ocean on an inefficient, unnecessary and (we might one day all come to understand) unconscionable vehicle.

But don't cancel your flight just because of me. I'm well out of sync with the rest of our society on more subjects than you want to hear me tell you about. But think about all the aspects of all our lives we consider normal because so many do the same thing so often. Was it so common fifty years ago, or a hundred? Did we imagine we needed so much fuel, so much speed, so much incessant activity ten or twenty years ago? I remember American life when I was the age my good and useful boy is now. I can't recall knowing anybody who flew anywhere. But I sure do remember some great trees and glorious days among them.

We have a Department Of Homeland Security now in our federal government. Can you say that three times fast and not think Germany, nineteen-thirties? Do we know how that sounds? Do we even understand anymore what real security means? It seems simple to me. If I stay home and busy myself improving my land I'll not only avoid airborne engine-clogging dust, I won't have to take off my shoes and belt on orders from a bored airport guard and risk sitting next to a nicotine-hungry ambassador's boy or a trigger-happy air marshal masquerading as an Omaha Bible salesman.

How much did it cost this burned and battered earth to fly all those politicians and their assistants and wardrobe specialists and makeup artists and speech-writers and all the attendant pundits and pollsters and cameramen and perfumed and powdered anchorpersons to that pointless joke of a climate conference last fall?

The jets fly overhead here all the time. Karter points out every contrail he sees. The more fir we remove, at least until the hardwoods leaf for the season, the more we see, the better the show. But there is still nothing better than a clean blue sky.
(c) 2010 Chris Cooper works hard and gets by. But he does not have health insurance. He cannot afford it. Therefore he does not often seek doctoring. Mandating his purchase of the deficient, dishonest products of the industry will not induce him to do so; it will likely just further piss him off and cause him to generate more unwholesome, unhelpful essays such as this. Persons wishing to contact him for whatever reason (no insurance agents, please) may write to Before he leaves this author wishes to tell you that he is one resident of the state of Maine who is not impressed with the work of Senator Olympia Snowe, political bed-partner of Senator Max Baucus. Just so you know.

Foreign Corporations In Our Elections

Having decreed that Corporations have a free speech "right " to spend unlimited sums from their massive corporate treasuries to elect or defeat candidates in our elections, the Supreme Court's five-man corporatist majority has opened a colossal can of worms. One of those worrisome squigglies is this question: Does the Court's newly-fabricated political right extend to foreign corporations?

In their ruling, the answer from the five judicial monkeywrenchers was... silence. How sly. With no explicit ban to rule out foreign corporate money, the justices have implicitly ruled it in. After all, argue apologists for this constitutional l perversion, a corporation is a corporation, and its official domicile is irrelevant in determining its political rights.

So, not only have the Supremes magically endowed all inanimate corporate things with the human ability to speak, but they've also granted corporate "persons" more speech than actual people-people have. Start with the fact that the Court's ruling equates our freedom of speech with the freedom to spend money - a plutocratic contortion of democracy that gives the most speech to those with the most money. American corporations alone have trillions of dollars they can draw from to shout down the voices of us mere humans.

But it appears that Toyota, Unilever, Deutsche Bank, Bin Laden construction company and thousands of other foreign entities can also add their trillions of dollars to drown out the democratic voices of real Americans. Interestingly, foreign humans are banned from spending money to influence our elections - so the Court has decreed that corporate foreigners have superior rights to human foreigners.

To help reverse this Supreme insanity, link up with the grassroots coalition called Move To Amend:
(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.

Crippling, Crushing, And Suffocating Iran
By Robert Dreyfuss

On Wednesday afternoon, members of the House and Senate gathered for a conference committee meeting to discuss the bills passed by each house to impose sanctions on Iran. As I sat down at my desk to write this, I pulled out my Roget's Thesaurus to see how many synonyms for "crippling," 'crushing," "overwhelming," "suffocating," and so on there are. There are a lot. And many of them, including those just mentioned, were used by members of Congress competing to see strongly each one could condemn Iran.

It wasn't pretty. Apoplexy was the order of the day.

Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida got the ball rolling, by demanding "crippling, mandatory sanctions" on Iran. Which caused everyone who followed to try to outbid her.

The United States can't be satisfied with "semi-sanctions," said Senator Joe Lieberman, but must instead "marshal the economic, political, and if necessary [its] military power" against the "fanatical regime." Representative Gary Ackerman declared that crippling sanctions weren't strong enough, insisting that the world must impose "suffocating" sanctions on Iran - and even then, he said, "success in this effort is unlikely" and that Iran would "have a nuclear weapon in less than two years." Representative Dan Burton of Indiana upped the ante, nearly foaming at the mouth while saying that the military people he talks to say the Iran could have The Bomb within one year, adding ominously: "We have to do whatever is necessary to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons." Representative Brad Sherman of California denounced those who want to impose mere targeted sanctions on Iranian wrongdoers, declaring: "Smart sanctions are dumb." We need, he said, "absolutely crippling sanctions." And Representative Ed Royce thundered that the United States and its allies must impose "crushing" sanctions, then added: "Even crushing sanctions might not do the job."

Noting that most of the speakers were either rabid, right-wing Republicans or militantly pro-AIPAC Democrats, I went over to Representative Barney Frank as the left the room. Is there any way to stop this runaway train? I asked. "No," he said. And he's glad. Frank argues that the bill, which as written will compel the president to impose sanctions on friend and foe alike who sell gasoline and petroleum products to Iran, will strengthen the president's hand. (The White House and the State Department, incidentally, oppose the bill, and they're demanding that the conferees weaken it to give President Obama some flexibility in implementing its draconian provisions. So, it would seem, the president doesn't want the help that Congressman Frank is happily offering.) I pointed out to Frank that the president doesn't want the bill's help, but Frank said, simply, "It helps him."

Most of the conferees lambasted the White House - and previous administrations, too - for refusing to implement Iran-bashing legislation that they'd helpfully enacted in the past. That's because diplomats and others with cooler heads, including key players in the administration of George W. Bush, too, realize that sanctioning allies and imposing harsh penalties on European, Russian, Chinese, and Indian companies doesn't win friends and influence people. (The Clinton administration realized the same thing, and President Clinton refused to impose draconian measures in the 1990s that Congress wanted.) But in 2010, Congress is so mad at Iran, and so unhappy with resistance from the White House and the State Department, that this time they're going to write a bill that forces President Obama's hand. "We cannot produce a bill that is so full of holes, carve-outs, exemptions, and waivers that no one takes it seriously," said Ros-Lehtinen today.

There's a chance, a small one, that Senator John Kerry, along with Senator Chris Dodd (the Senate sponsor of the bill) will accede to administration wishes and water down the bill so that it doesn't tie the president's hands. To the consternation of the mad dog-like members of the conference committee, Senator Dodd said, "We will accommodate the administration's concerns," though he didn't specify exactly how. And Kerry, sounding glum and resigned - and completely avoiding words such as crushing, crippling, and suffocating! - said simply that the threat of congressional action has "helped to focus the world's attention" on the Iran problem, but he added: "This conference report is gonna pass." He pointed out the international diplomacy by the Obama administration, and the talks at the UN Security Council about sanctions, are proceeding, and that it all may take time.

And Representative Howard Berman, the bill's sponsor in the House, suggested that there is a "certain logic" to the administration's request that the legislation carve out waivers or exemptions for "cooperating countries" - which, as some members pointed out, could mean anyone and everyone.

But when it comes to weakening the bill, the rest of the members weren't having any of it.

Representative Mike Pence of Indiana said: "This administration has spent more time on the threat of global warming than on the threat of a nuclear Iran." Ignoring the fact that Iran has no nuclear weapon, that U.S. intelligence agencies say that it will be three to five years before they can develop a nuclear capability even if they want to, and that even with a bomb Iran isn't likely to commit suicide by using it, Pence raised the specter of another Holocaust, warning about a "second, historic tragedy for our most cherished ally" in the Middle East.

The House passed its version of the sanctions bill last December. Then, in January, the Senate followed suit. In the next several weeks, it seems, the House and Senate will reconcile the slight differences between the two bills and send them to the White House with a huge, veto-proof majority behind them. The bill requires the administration to examine any and all contracts between Iran and oil and gasoline suppliers. Any greater than a tiny threshold - just $200,000 to $500,000 - trigger a U.S. crackdown, and the president is then required to place the offending company on a "blacklist." He must then take strong action against the company, up to and including seizing its assets in the United States.

Last year, Obama launched his vaunted diplomatic opening to Iran, which seemed to make progress. Not only did the opening to Iran encourage the dissident and reformist opposition last spring, but it led top officials of Iran to sit down with American diplomats over the summer and fall and to sign an accord on October 1 in Geneva that seemed to be a breakthrough: Iran agreed to send nearly all of its enriched uranium to Russia and France for reprocessing into fuel rods for a medical reactor. But that accord fell apart, victim in part to internal firefights within Iran's fractured political system. What comes next, for Obama, isn't clear. He's pushing hard on what he, Robert Gates, and Hillary Clinton call "the pressure track" now, and he wants the UN to impose a fourth round of sanctions, with the support of Russia and China. Beyond that, it seems that the United States is planning to impose tougher unilateral sanctions on Iran, too, beginning this summer, that would include severe financial sanctions and cut-offs of investment and technology to Iran by U.S. allies in Europe, Asia, and elsewhere.

And then what? The administration has pretty much ruled out military action, despite what Lieberman and Dick Cheney want. They insist that they want to keep the diplomatic track open. But where do sanctions lead? As the hawks point out, correctly, even crushing, crippling, and suffocating sanctions aren't likely to persuade Iran to cave in. It seems like a formula for failure and stalemate.
(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).

Have Some Americans Been Turned Into Radio Controlled Zombies?
By James Donahue

Worldwide shock and confusion over the re-election of George W. Bush for a second term in office in 2004 and the open rebellion many apparently racist oriented groups following the election of Barack Obama to the presidency in 2008 has caused us to wonder if grass roots America hasn't been struck by some form of mass insanity. And if not mental confusion, what then?

I once read a survey showing a generally low intelligence of the average American and suggested in a story that this had something to do with the unexplained gullibility. That prompted a friend to sent me a link to a story by Bruce Conway titled "Stealth Cell Towers and the 2004 US Presidential Elections." In the article, Conway offers another probability.

Conway reported that the construction of thousands of unobtrusive cell towers, many of them disguised as flag poles, occurred during the months prior to the 2004 election. He suggests that instead of serving cell phones, the towers were used for a national mind control that caused voters to believe in Bush even though common sense should have warned them otherwise.

If they could use electronic devices to convince people to support a very bad president and administration like the one created by Bush, it would seem logical that it could also convince a lot of Americans not to like or support President Obama because of the color of his skin and/or a variety of other manufactured reasons.

"When one considers the rapid advancements in electromagnetic and psychotronic mind control technology, this trend in utility concealment is rather sinister," Conway wrote. "If researchers could successfully project human speech into the minds of the deaf, as Dr. Joseph C. Sharp of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research did in 1974, think of their present capabilities."

Conway said he became curious about the mysterious towers when one was erected as a camouflaged flagpole in his neighborhood and he decided to investigate.

He said he learned that the tower was being erected by Stealth Concealment Solutions, Charleston, South Carolina. He discovered that the company was doing a "brisk business," and was installing thousands of similar towers, also disguised as cacti, palm trees, church crosses, rock formations, water towers and pine trees.

"This is happening without any of the dissent or protest usually surrounding cell tower erections," he wrote.

Ken Adachi, in another article titled "Mind Control, The Ultimate Terror," suggests that the abundance of cell towers throughout America are suspicious.

"No one is saying anything, but you're expected to presume that they're for cell phones," Adachi said. "Do you really think that we need that much 'cell phone' transmission capability every few blocks? Do you realize how very little energy is used by genuine cell phone usage? Yet these towers are capable of putting out levels of power that exceed cell phone requirements by a wide margin."

If Americans are being mentally manipulated by some kind of mind control technology, it might explain why so many young men seem to willing to rush off to put their lives and physical bodies on the line for such a nonsensical wars as the ones we are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. <> It might explain why the military can hold so many soldiers captive in the battlefield, far beyond their normal tour of duty, and even call older soldiers back into service, without creating mass protests from the general public. Did anybody really believe they were protecting America's freedom by fighting and dying in Iraq? And what are we achieving by fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan?

This writer was around during the Vietnam War years and recalls the massive public protests, especially on college campuses, that eventually forced an end to that conflict. Many young men fled to Canada to avoid the draft that was still in effect in those years.

Perhaps there is some other explanation for this odd behavior. Is it too much football and beer? Maybe the media's infatuation with Tiger Woods and Hollywood stars has helped camouflage the important issues of the day. Or perhaps it has something to do with the plastic in all those water bottles we are drinking from. Or the mercury in the fish we eat.

If we are being electronically controlled, who or what agency must we blame for it? And why are we not all marching in lock step to the whims of these masters of manipulation?

Nearly half of the American people voted against Bush in the 2004 election and some Americans have been protesting the wars. If you want proof of that, surf the Internet for a while. The anti-war effort is well documented there.

If brain washing is occurring, it is not affecting everybody. Certainly it has not claimed this writer.
(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.

Bank Reform
Open Debate, Then Amend to Battle Big Bank
By John Nichols

"In the midst of a Wall Street fight, when fear supersedes reason, it is difficult for those who are in it, but not directing it, to determine how much is real, how much is sham."

So declared Wisconsin Senator Robert M. La Follette during the great battle of a century ago over regulating the banks that had very nearly crashed the U.S. economy with the panic of 1907.

Little has changed.

As the U.S. Senate again approaches the question of regulating toxic-asset banks and a financial services industry that is defined by speculation and profiteering rather than service to the real economy of the United States, there are plenty of shams.

So let's sort things out.

The first step on the way to real reform is to open the debate. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada will try to do that Monday, with a cloture vote that most Republicans have said they will oppose.

The Republicans are suggesting that this process is moving too quickly. But that's a comic calculus, as Senator Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, explained Sunday.

"(Some) Wall Street people have said the longer they can delay this, the more chance they can kill it. We've been... working on this for a long time. (On Monday) night when we have a vote -- all we're asking tomorrow night is 60 votes. We need a Republican or two or three to simply say, let's move forward and debate, and then (Tennessee Republican) Bob Corker and I and others can offer any kinds of amendments we want," Brown explained on ABC News' "This Week" program Sunday.

Brown believes that one amendment is essential: an amendment to break up the big banks.

President Obama and Senate Banking Committee chairman Chris Dodd, D-Connecticut, claim that the reform legislation they are promoting will address the worst excesses of bad bankers and brokers. But the legislation as constructed by Dodd and backed by Obama is so weak that it does not break up "too-big-to-fail-banks," let alone end the boom-and-bust patterns of false growth and real pain that have so undermined the financial stability of working families.

Even worse are Republican critics of reform, led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican who was one of the chief backers of the massive Wall Street bailout of 2008. With talking points assembled in closed-door meetings with Wall Street insiders, he has emerged as the loudest defender of a status quo that rewards speculators while denying credit to small businesses and foreclosing on family homes and farms.

The Senate could use a La Follette.

And it may just have one in Brown, a populist Democrat who has frequently broken with his own party's leadership on international trade and domestic economic issues, is proposing an essential amendment to the Dodd bill.

Brown and his allies -- including Oregon Democrat Jeff Merkley and Delaware Democrat Ted Kaufman -- want to force the biggest banks and bank holding companies to downsize so that they no longer will be able to control so much of the nation's wealth and financial activity that they are "too big to fail."

Big banks would not disappear under Brown's plan. But they could not control more than ten percent of all total deposits, as three now do, and accumulate liabilities so substantial that -- in the event of a bust -- they could threaten the entire U.S. economy. It is just such a threat that led to the 2008 bailouts and the continued coddling of bad banks by federal regulators.

"The major issue is to keep the banks from getting too large to begin with," explains Brown. "Too big to fail is too big. That's where we need to be much more aggressive."

Without Brown's amendment, Dodd's bill amounts to little more than tinkering around the edges of the real problem. In other words, it is the sort of sham that La Follette bemoaned a century ago, when he warned that -- despite talk of trust busting and reform by the likes of Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson -- "the greatest banks of the financial center (Wall Street) have become primarily agencies of promotion and speculation."

Real reform requires real controls on the biggest banks.

"This is about holding Wall Street accountable to ensure that American taxpayers never have to bail out the big banks again," says Sherrod Brown. "While taxpayers helped Wall Street banks get back on their feet, Main Street Americans were not so lucky. Their homes, their jobs, and their retirement accounts were lost or put at risk due to big banks that gambled with their money."

Brown's right.

The Senate should reject sham reform and go for the real thing.

Brown explained why on Sunday.

"Let me give you one statistic," the Ohioan said. "Fifteen years ago, the assets of the six largest banks in this country totaled 17 percent of GDP, 17 percent of GDP. The assets of the six largest banks in the United States today total 63 percent of GDP, and that's too (big) -- we've got to deal with risk to be sure, but we've got to deal with the size of these banks, because if one of these banks is in serious trouble, it will have such a ripple effect on the whole economy. So we simply can't let them get this big and have this kind of economic power over Main Street, over a small business in Canton, Ohio, or a worker -- a manufacturing plant in Dayton. I mean, we just can't let this happen."

(c) 2010 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. He is a contributing writer for The Progressive and In These Times and the associate editor of the Capital Times, the daily newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and dozens of other newspapers.

Waste Management
Congress Pushes Surge in Ongoing War Against Iran
By Chris Floyd

There was a striking story in the papers on Friday: "Congress OKs Surge in Undeclared War against Iran!"

Well, that wasn't exactly the headline - but it was the truth behind the reports about the vote in the House of Representatives to tighten the ligature of sanctions around the neck of Iran, as reports. In accordance with the "diplomacy" of the Peace Laureate in the Oval Office, the House wants to "cripple" the Iranian economy by starving the human beings who live there of gasoline and other vital goods necessary to maintain a modicum of ordinary life.

In other words, the popularly elected leaders of the world's greatest democracy - champions of liberty, justice and human rights - want to stop ambulances from transporting sick and dying children to the hospital. They want whole families to burn to death, whole city blocks to go up in flames while fuelless fire trucks stand idle. They want deliveries of food and medicine to grind to a halt, setting off spirals of starvation, disease, chaos and vast suffering. They want to see tens of millions of innocent human beings driven into a low and brutal level of subsistence, to languish, diminish - and die - in deprivation and misery. This is what they want to see happen. This is the clear intent of their "diplomatic" strategy.

And why are they doing this? Because - ostensibly because - the government of Iran is pursuing the development of a nuclear energy program in accordance with international treaties and under international supervision. And if the above condign punishment of millions of innocent people does not force the government of Iran to give up this legal, carefully inspected program, then the champions of liberty, justice and human rights have proclaimed their intent to unilaterally attack Iran with all the "options" at their command, up to and including the "option" of immolating multitudes of innocent human beings with nuclear weapons.

Now, the government of Iran is an odious regime. Not nearly as odious as, say, the regime of America's staunch ally in the region, Saudi Arabia, of course, but odious enough. But as restrictive as it has been to its own citizens, it has not - in the last decade alone - launched and maintained massive wars of aggression and domination that have killed, by direct and collateral hand, more than a million innocent people. The bipartisan champions of liberty, justice and human rights in Washington have done that, and are doing that.

They seek to break Iran not because it is an odious regime, but because it defies the imperial will, and balks the bipartisan imperial agenda to impose domination on the oil lands. If Iran agreed to become an American client state tomorrow, it would not matter in the least how odious its regime might be -- as we saw in the long, atrocious decades when America's pet tyrant, Reza Pahlavi, ruled there. But because Iran has not agreed to this, it is now a target for decimation: by sanctions and the ongoing campaign of American-backed terrorism and covert operation (all of which are themselves acts of war, including most emphatically the sanctions, as noted here recently), or else by direct military action by American war machine or its proxy in Israel.

And that is why we hear the constant regurgitation of ludicrous charges from our national leaders on the "great threat" that Iran poses to the entire planet. Indeed, Harry Reid, the leading Democrat in the United States Senate -- lauding the House vote and licking his chops to advance this escalation bill to final approval in his bailiwick -- declared that Iran was "a festering sore in the world": crude, dehumanizing language familiar to anyone with even the slightest knowledge of Nazi propaganda. Reid went on:

"As [the House] get [the bill] out, I will move everything within my power to move it to the floor [of the Senate] The Middle East is unstable. This will help stabilize it."

Just think of the towering stupidity of that remark. Whatever else you might say about tightening sanctions on Iran -- even if you believed it was the right thing to do -- the one thing you could not say is that such a move will "help stabilize" the Middle East. Indeed, Iran hawks of every stripe -- from the sanctionist strangulators to the bomb-em-now brigade -- openly, even proudly aver that their ultimate aim is to overthrow the current Iranian regime: that is, to greatly, vastly, decisively de-stabilize the Middle East by bringing down one of its most powerful governments. And of course, the sanctions themselves -- like all the other war measures launched by the United States against Iran, and like all the aggressive, constant threats to attack, punish, even obliterate Iran -- are clearly and deliberately aimed at provoking retaliation by the Tehran government: blowback which will, by design, make the Middle East more unstable ... thus 'justifying' whatever measures the United States takes to further its dominationist agenda.

Reid knows this, of course. He does not believe -- not for a single nano-second -- that tightening the noose around Iran's neck will "help stabilize" the Middle East. But he -- like our entire bipartisan foreign policy establishment -- thinks that you are stupid enough to believe it.

Reid's warmongering lies were echoed by another top Democrat, Rep. Howard Berman, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, who, as AFP reports, forthrightly declared that "the world faces no security threat greater than the prospect of a nuclear world."

O lucky world! The greatest thing we have to fear -- in all the world -- is the prospect that Iran -- whose leaders consistently denounce even the idea of nuclear weapons as the gravest sin, and whose nuclear energy program (we repeat for the nth time) is under the closest international supervision ever imposed on a nation -- might, somehow, someday, produce a nuclear weapon. If the mere prospect of this remote possibility is the greatest thing we have to fear in the modern world, then by Godfrey we are in a lot better shape than I thought.

But again, none of this is true. And Berman -- even though he is one of many Congressfolk who seem to believe that they actually represent a district located somewhere between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea -- knows it is not true. He knows, as any sentient being knows, that even if Iran did produce a nuclear weapon, it would not and could not pose an "existential threat" to Israel -- or to the United States for that matter. Any nuclear attack by Iran on Israel would result in a massive retaliation from Israel's nuclear arsenal (obtained and maintained illegally, outside any international treaty or supervision). And even if Israel had no nukes, a nuclear attack by Tehran in the close quarters of the Middle East would rain deadly fallout back on Iran itself. Not to mention the distinct possibility of retaliation by the United States -- or indeed Russia or any number of nuclear states who would feel threatened by this wanton, self-destructive act of nuclear aggression.

In any case, all of this speculation -- every bit of it -- is itself the purest fantasy. It is not going to happen -- and our champions of liberty, justice and human rights who sit ensconced in the midst of thousands of nuclear weapons while directing wars of aggression -- know it is not going to happen. The "Iranian threat," as promulgated by the leaders of both parties in the United States, is the basest of falsehoods -- as the promulgators themselves well know.

I realize it is deeply insulting to the intelligence of anyone with a modicum of intelligence to point out these glaringly, tediously obvious facts -- but when you are dealing with the vast amount of crude, Nazi-like propaganda that daily inundates the American people on the subject of Iran, this kind of waste treatment is necessary.
(c) 2010 Chris Floyd

So, Who Needs Corporations Anyhow?
By Case Wagenvoord

This is an old chestnut I drag out from time to time whenever our oligarchs and kleptocrats out do themselves, which is quite often. But with the SE C's civil suit (Note: Not an indictment) against Goldman Sachs, I thought I'd drag it out again. It's a modest suggestion that may increase the probability that, someday, we might clean up a Beltway that is little more than a Wall Street subsidiary.

Recently, the United States Supreme Court gave Congress back to its corporate handlers when it ruled that Congress could not place restrictions on corporate contributions to political campaigns. The argument was the same fallacious argument that has allowed our corporate oligarchs to befoul our democracy-corporations are people and have the same rights under the Constitution and Bill of Rights as human people.

So, it is time to reprise an idea I put forth about a year ago. Then it fell into a sea of silence, but perhaps the court's decision has made the ground more fertile for its growth.

What we need is a 28th Amendment to the Constitution that strips our corporations of their personhood. The net effect would be that our corporations would have no rights; they would only have responsibilities enumerated by the terms and conditions of their charters.

Today, such an amendment stands a snowball's chance in Hell of passing. However, as our economy continues to tank, and as Wall Street bankers continue to get trillions in bailouts while the disempowered class in America, which increasingly includes the Middle Class, continues to slip down the economic ladder, the temperature in Hell is starting to fall.

Besides, think of the fun we could have with such a movement! We could demonize the hell out of the bastards.

Look at where we are now. In an age when it is not only necessary to think outside the box but to reduce the box to kindling, a paralysis has gripped the Obama administration, which spends all of its time trying to figure out if we're in a box to begin with, and, if so, how big it is, what color it is and is it really necessary to think outside the box when we could easily build an addition to it, provided they could get the financing.

Meanwhile, the Left loudly proclaims that, "Something must be done! Systemic change is needed; reform is called for!" And, there it ends as the Left fragments into a spray of mini issues--gay rights, women's rights, peace, the environment, animal liberation, universal health care-each droplet suspended in space independent of the others. Each of these issues is important, but each is made all the more difficult because we are confronting a system that is decayed and corrupt, and until this tottering superstructure is addressed, the above issues will simply limp along without any satisfactory resolutions.

The drive for a 28th Amendment would serve two immediate purposes.

Dissatisfaction in America is badly fragmented. We are too isolated in our discontent, which is why we seek escape in celebrity infidelities and reality television.. The drive for a 28th Amendment could well be the lightening rod that would unify this discontent into a viable movement.

At the same time, the radical left has a millstone hanging around its, neck: a vocabulary straight out of the nineteenth century that, in today's world, is devoid of both meaning and relevance.

The struggle is no longer between capital and labor.

Capitalism is dead; it's been dead for decades. A CEO is not a capitalist; he is an employee. A capitalist grew capital by the sweat of his brow and the blackness of his soul. A CEO plays with other people's capital while absorbing as much of it as he can through executive salaries, bonuses and stock options. The soul of a CEO is a bland beige.

We no longer have a working class; we have a dispossessed class that grows larger every day. It is an inclusive class claiming as it members not only workers but the poor, the working poor, undocumented immigrants, the unemployed, the employed who are squeezed for three hours of productivity for one hour's pay and, increasingly, the middle class. It is a class just waiting to be mobilized by the right issue.

If there is to be any systemic change in the country, the corporation must be demonized, and the movement for a 28th Amendment would present the perfect platform from which to do just that. Let's face it, the corporation is an anachronism, a dinosaur that has outlived its usefulness and is in the process of devouring itself as it takes the country down with it. That is the box that must be reduced to kindling! The corporation served its purpose; it gave us all sorts of nice toys and technological advances (many of which are destroying the earth, but isn't your iPhone worth it?) but it's time it was put out to pasture before it ruins us completely.

The amendment would raise the possibility of doing something about our corrupt Congress. Cynics tell us Washington D.C. is an open septic tank overflowing with the raw sewage of corruption. In truth, it is a bit more sophisticated than that.

Granted, raw sewage is pumped into the beltway via open trenches that run from the nation's power centers. But, instead of pouring into the Capitol, it is first pumped into the K Street Sewage Treatment Plant. There it is sanitized and deodorized before being piped into the Halls of Congress disguised as campaign contributions. It is still sewage, but, it smells sweeter.

The short answer to this mess is public funding of election campaigns. On the surface it seems to offer much. By freeing the congress from the multiple snares of corporate purse strings, Congress might start representing the public interest. As it stands now, every time an elected official speaks of our national interests or national security, "national" is simply a code word for "corporate". The system is gamed to minimize public influence on policy.

Congress tried to reign in corporate power with the McCain-Feingold Bill. Before the ink was even dry on the bill, our corporatist oligarchy went weeping to the nearest federal court and claimed that the bill violated its First Amendment right to freedom of speech. Money talks, and if our corporate patrons aren't allowed to speak through their wallets, they are being unconstitutionally silenced. And, the Supreme Court agreed with the poor darlings one-hundred percent.

The argument won the day, because under our current system, a corporation is a person.

People assume that corporate personhood was the result of a Supreme Court decision. In truth, the court made no such decision. The question of personhood arose when the court considered an appeal[1] of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad. The focus of the case was the taxation of railroad properties. As the case worked its way through the lower courts, the question of whether corporations were persons protected by the 14th Amendment was argued.

However, before oral arguments began before the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Morrison Remick Waite stated, "The court does not wish to hear argument on the question of whether the provision in the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution, which forbids a State to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, applies to these corporations. We are of the opinion that it does."

Because formal arguments had not begun, Waite's remark was a non-binding obiter dictum that had no bearing on the outcome of the case. The question of corporate personhood was never mentioned in the court's written decision. The court limited its decision to the question of taxing corporate property.

However, the court clerk, when writing the header, or summary, of the case stated that, "defendant corporations are persons..."

Thus, was corporate personhood born.

The principle is so engrained in legal precedence that a judicial reversal is virtually impossible. That is why only a constitutional amendment could solve the problem.

That our amendment would raise some corporate hackles is an understatement. Already, I hear lamentations about the sanctity of private property, etc. However, a very compelling argument could be made that the ownership of corporate property is so diffused amongst shareholders that it is a misnomer to call it private property. Since corporate property exists at the pleasure of the State through the granting of a corporate charter, it is more akin to quasi-public property than private property.

I admit this is heresy, but given rate at which corporations are eating us alive, I think some healthy heresy is called for.

This brings us back, in a full circle, to our corrupted Congress. If corporations were stripped of their personhood, a campaign finance reform bill that eliminated corporate money from the electoral process would be protected from a court challenge. There is no guarantee this would clean up the system. All it would do is increase the probability that it would be cleaner than it currently is.

Granted, the idea of a 28th Amendment sits way out there in the foggy fringe, but if our Neocon colleagues taught us anything, it is that today's fringe is tomorrow's mainstream.

This is a movement that could cut across class, gender and ethnic divisions because if there is one thing unifying America, it is our economic misery. And if nothing else, the drive for a 28th Amendment would make our oligarchs and plutocrats sweat. That, alone, would make the effort worthwhile.

Sure, it looks hopeless, but I.F. Stone wrote:

The only fights worth fighting are those you are going to lose, because somebody has to fight them and lose and lose and lose until someday, somebody who believes as you do wins. In order for somebody to win an important major fight 100 years hence, a lot of other people have got to be willing-for the sheer fun of it-to go right ahead and fight, knowing you're going to lose. You mustn't feel like a martyr. You've got to enjoy it.
It's time to bring back the Merry Pranksters, but instead of promoting psychedelic drugs, they will promote the decorporatization of America.

(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

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer; I For One Am Proud of Her!
By Mike Folkerth

As those who read this blog on any regular basis will witness; I do my best to remain politically neutral when it comes to problem solving. We'll either solve our problems with the cooperation of both sides of the political aisle, or we're on our way to an outright revolution created by deep division; that simple.

That being said, there are times when I observe the act of "problem creation," and I simply can't let that slip by without due comment.

I have stated on more than one occasion that our current administration is driving a wedge between the people of the United, building a WALL between differing factions. It is only fair to say that our past administration had provided the foundation for that wall.

It is however, Barrack Obama's latest verbal attack on the courageous actions of Arizona Governor, Jan Brewer that has rendered me hopping mad. Governor Brewer has signed a STATE LAW that makes being an illegal alien in the state of Arizona...illegal. It also makes it a crime to employ or transport illegals. What a novel idea.

So why would any state find it necessary to pass a law making it illegal for something that is already illegal? The reason is simple. Our federal government saw fit to turn a blind eye to the problem, year after year after year. The quest for exponential growth of our population far exceeded the adherence to the law and to the welfare and safety of our citizens.

Our federal government has absolutely, inequitably, without any shadow of a doubt, encouraged illegal immigration into this nation. Between the CIA, FBI, Border Patrol, Homeland Security, ATF, military, state, and local law enforcement, they can track a flea across the Mohave Desert.

So, don't try to blow smoke up my dress by explaining that 12 to 20 Million illegal aliens have taken up undetected residence in the United States. What a ridiculous claim. While we are forging through arduous security at the airport with shoes off, belt off, being frisked and sniffed, while our luggage is being rifled through; thousands illegally cross our southern border on any given week. Security my foot!

The Border States who take the brunt of this illegal activity are fed up with waiting for action from the feds, and that, in my opinion, is a very good thing. It's time that we all stood up on our hind legs and attempted to restore what's left of the Constitution.

It's time for the states to observe their sovereign rights and moral duties, something that they should have done a long time ago, well before our federal government morphed into the lumbering monster that it has become.

Arizona has the highest level of human and drug trafficking of any state. With a total population of only 6.5 million, Arizona is home to the draining effects of an estimated 460,000 illegals, (1 in 14) a drain that cannot be sustained. As a reminder, while the feds encouraged the continual illegal affront on Arizona, the Grand Canyon state is broke to the point of attempting to sell their capital building and closing down their State Parks!

"We in Arizona have been more than patient waiting for Washington to act," Governor Brewer said after signing the law. "But decades of inaction and misguided policy have created a dangerous and unacceptable situation."

So what was our president's take on the above situation? Obama called the Arizona bill "misguided" and instructed the Justice Department to examine it to see whether it's legal. He also said the federal government must enact immigration reform at the national level - or leave the door open to "irresponsibility by others."

"That includes, for example, the recent efforts in Arizona, which threaten to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and their communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe," Obama said.

Keeping us safe? Does Obama have the slightest clue as to the danger imposed by the massive trafficking in drugs and humans? Does he totally miss the point here?

This is the President of the United States talking about the citizens of Arizona being misguided! While at the same time he is supporting two foreign wars to restore those distant people's rights! Who may I ask is misguided?

America has core economic problems that will be difficult resolve under any circumstances and impossible to resolve under our current divisive leadership. The lopsided makeup of our current Congress and the total and complete central power sought by our president has proven once again that our forefathers knew of what they spoke.

"A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine."

While it is argued that Thomas Jefferson never muttered the above phrase that is often attributed to him, regardless of origin, it remains the basis for our Republic.

America is a nation of laws, anchored by our Constitution and strengthened by the Bill of Rights, which together bestow the greatest rights to the individual states. I encourage one and all to remind our leaders of the above statements at the ballot box in November.
(c) 2010 Mike Folkerth is not your run-of-the-mill author of economics. Nor does he write in boring lecture style. Not even close. The former real estate broker, developer, private real estate fund manager, auctioneer, Alaskan bush pilot, restaurateur, U.S. Navy veteran, heavy equipment operator, taxi cab driver, fishing guide, horse packer...(I won't go on, it's embarrassing) writes from experience and plain common sense. He is the author of "The Biggest Lie Ever Believed."

The Quotable Quote...

"There's no trick to being a humorist when you have the whole government working for you."
~~~ Will Rogers ~~~

The New Secessionists
By Chris Hedges

Acts of rebellion which promote moral and political change must be nonviolent. And one of the most potent nonviolent alternatives in the country, which defies the corporate state and calls for an end to imperial wars, is the secessionist movement bubbling up in some two dozen states including Vermont, Texas, Alaska and Hawaii.

These movements do not always embrace liberal values. Most of the groups in the South champion a "neo-Confederacy" and are often exclusively male and white. Secessionists, who call for statewide referendums to secede, do not advocate the use of force. It is unclear, however, if some will turn to force if the federal structure ever denies them independence.

These groups at least grasp that the old divisions between liberals and conservatives are obsolete and meaningless. They understand that corporations have carried out a coup d'etat. They recognize that our permanent war economy and costly and futile imperial wars are unsustainable and they demand that we take popular action to prevent citizens from being further impoverished and robbed by Wall Street speculators and corporations.

"The defining characteristic of the Second Vermont Republic is that there are two enemies, the United States government and corporate America," Thomas Naylor, who founded Vermont's secessionist movement, told me when I reached him by phone at his home 10 miles south of Burlington. "One owns the other one. We are not like the tea party. The underlying premise of the tea party movement is that the system is fixable."

Naylor rattles off the stark indicators of the nation's decline, noting that the United States stands near the bottom among industrialized countries in voter turnout, last in health care, last in education and highest in homicide rates, mortality, STDs among juveniles, youth pregnancy, abortion and divorce. The nation, he notes grimly, has trillions in deficits it can never repay, is beset by staggering income disparities, has destroyed its manufacturing base and is the planet's most egregious polluter and greediest consumer of fossil fuels. With some 40 million Americans living in poverty, tens of millions more in a category called "near poverty" and a permanent underclass trapped by a real unemployment rate of 17 percent, there is ample tinder for internal combustion. If we do not undertake a dramatic reversal soon, he asserts, the country and the global environment will implode with catastrophic consequences.

The secessionist movement is gaining ground in several states, especially Texas, where elected officials increasingly have to contend with secessionist sentiments.

"Our membership has grown tremendously since the bailouts, since the tail end of the Bush administration," said Daniel Miller, the leader of the Texas Nationalist Movement, when I spoke with him by telephone from his home in the small town of Nederland, Texas. "There is a feeling in Texas that we are being spent into oblivion. We are operating as the cash cow for the states that cannot manage their budgets. With this Congress, Texas has been squarely in their cross hairs, from cap and trade to the alien transfer and exit program. So many legislative pieces coming down the pike are offensive to people here in Texas. The sentiment for independence here is very high. The sentiment inside the Legislature and state capital is one of guarded optimism. There are scores of folks within state government who are supportive of what we are doing, although there is a need to see the public support in a more tangible way. This is why we launched our Let Texas Decide petition drive. We intend to deliver over a million signatures on the opening day of the [state legislative] session on Jan. 11, 2011."

Miller, like Naylor, expects many in the tea party to migrate to secessionist movements once they realize that they cannot alter the structure or power of the corporate state through electoral politics. Polls in Texas show the secessionists have support from about 35 percent of the state's population, and Vermont is not far behind.

Naylor, who taught economics at Duke University for 30 years, is, along with Kirkpatrick Sale and Donald Livingston, one of the intellectual godfathers of the secessionist movement. His writing can be found on The Second Vermont Republic website, on the website Secession News and in postings on the Middlebury Institute website. Naylor first proposed secession in his 1997 book "Downsizing the USA." He comes out of the "small is beautiful" movement, as does Sale. Naylor lives with his wife in the Vermont village of Charlotte.

The Second Vermont Republic arose from the statewide anti-war protests in 2003. It embraces a left-wing populism that makes it unique among the national movements, which usually veer more toward Ron Paul libertarianism. The Vermont movement, like the Texas and Alaska movements, is well organized. It has a bimonthly newspaper called The Vermont Commons, which champions sustainable agriculture and energy supplies based on wind and water, and calls for locally owned banks which will open lines of credit to their communities. Dennis Steele, who is campaigning for governor as a secessionist, runs Radio Free Vermont, which gives a venue to Vermont musicians and groups as well as being a voice of the movement. Vermont, like Texas, was an independent republic, but on March 4, 1791, voted to enter the union. Supporters of the Second Vermont Republic commemorate the anniversary by holding a mock funeral procession through the state capital, Montpelier, with a casket marked "Vermont." Secessionist candidates in Vermont are currently running for governor, lieutenant governor, eight Senate seats and two House seats.

"The movement, at its core, is anti-authoritarian," said Sale, who works closely with Naylor and spoke with me from his home in Charleston, S.C. "It includes those who are libertarians and those who are on the anarchic community side. In traditional terms these people are left and right, but they have come very close together in their anti-authoritarianism. Left and right no longer have meaning."

The movement correctly views the corporate state as a force that has so corrupted the economy, as well as the electoral and judicial process, that it cannot be defeated through traditional routes. It also knows that the corporate state, which looks at the natural world and human beings as commodities to be exploited until exhaustion or collapse occurs, is rapidly cannibalizing the nation and pushing the planet toward irrevocable crisis. And it argues that the corporate state can be dismantled only through radical forms of nonviolent revolt and the dissolution of the United States. As an act of revolt it has many attributes.

"The only way we will ever stop these wars is when we stop paying for them," Naylor told me. "Vermont contributes about $1.5 billion to the Pentagon's budget. Do we want to keep supporting these wars? If not, let's pull out. We have two objectives. The first is returning Vermont to its status as an independent republic. The second is the peaceful dissolution of the empire. I see these as being mutually complementary."

"The U.S. government has lost its moral authority," he went on. "It is corrupt to the core. It is owned, operated and controlled by Wall Street and corporate America. Its foreign policy is controlled by the Israeli lobby. It is unsustainable economically, socially, morally, militarily and environmentally. It is ungovernable and therefore unfixable. The question is, do you go down with the Titanic or do you seek other options?"

The leaders of the movement concede that sentiment still outstrips organization. There has not been a large proliferation of new groups, and a few old groups have folded because of a lack of leadership and support. But they insist that an increasing number of Americans are receptive to their ideas.

"The number of groups has not grown as I hoped it would when I started having congresses," said Sale, who addresses groups around the country. "But the number of people, of individuals, of websites and the number of libertarians who have come around has grown leaps and bounds. Many of those who were disappointed by the treatment of Ron Paul have come to the conclusion that they cannot have a Libertarian Party or a libertarian Republican. They are beginning to talk about secession."

"Secessionists have to be very careful not to be militaristic," Sale warned. "This cannot be won by the gun. You can be emphatic in your secessionism, but it won't happen by carrying guns. I don't know what the tea party people think they are going to accomplish with guns. I guess it is a statement against the federal government and the fear that Obama is about to have gun control. It appears to be an assertion of individual rights. But the tea party people have not yet understood how they are going to get their view across. They still believe they can elect people, either Republicans or declared conservatives, to office in Washington and have an effect, as if you can escape the culture of Washington and the characteristics of government that has only gotten bigger and will only continue to get bigger. Electing people to the House and Senate is not going to change the characteristics of the system."

The most pressing problem is that the movement harbors within its ranks Southern secessionists who wrap themselves in the Confederate flag, begin their meetings singing Dixie and celebrate the slave culture of the antebellum South. Secessionist groups such as the Southern National Congress and the more radical League of the South, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled a "racist hate group," openly embrace a return to uncontested white, male power. And this aspect of the movement deeply disturbs leaders such as Naylor, Sale and Miller.

What all these movements grasp, however, is that the American empire is over. It cannot be sustained. They understand that we must disengage peacefully, learn to speak with a new humility and live with a new simplicity, or see an economic collapse that could trigger a perverted Christian fascism, a ruthless police state and internecine violence.

"There are three or four possible scenarios that will bring down the empire," Naylor said. "One possibility is a war with Iran. Another will see the Chinese pull the plug on Treasury bills. Even if these do not happen, the infrastructure of the country is decaying. This is a slower process. And they do not have the economy fixed. It is smoke and mirrors. This is why the price of gold is so high. The economy and the inability to stop the wars will alone be enough to bring us down. There is no escape now from our imperial overstretch."
(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."

Hell Yes, Secesh!
Don't let the door hit you on the way out!
By David Michael Green

It is a measure of the sheer poverty of our national politics that the notion of secession is in the air again. Hey, just like those happy days of slavery and civil war again!

Last summer, no less an official than the governor of Texas and likely presidential aspirant (never mind the irony - this is regressivism we're talking about here, folks), Rick Perry, hinted that if Washington didn't stop leaning so hard on the states, then people down there might just get to feelin' justified to go their own way. Don't mess with Texas, Eastern elite dudes! Meanwhile, though, Perry will of course continue accepting large lump-sum checks from the Feds, if it's all the same to you.

Then knucklehead governor of Virginia, Bob McDonnell, who seems every day more like a model of forward thinking - if only it were still the thirteenth century - has joined the recent stampede to honor those great patriots of the 1860s - who, er, um, tried to wreck the country - by re-instituting Confederate History Month there. No mention of slavery, either. Great idea, Bob! And so original, too. Old, racist, white guys feeling victimized by history. What a novel concept!

Meanwhile tea party savants continue to demonstrate the volatile dangers of amateur alchemy, mixing ample ignorance with toxic rage to produce catastrophic idiocy in scary proportions. (As if twenty minutes of watching Glenn Beck wasn't single-handedly sufficient to make that case by itself.) They hate the oppression of Washington and bemoan the transgressions against states' rights. Then they go cash their Social Security checks, on the way to their Medicare-funded doctor's office visit.

As if that weren't nutty enough, now we learn that a Republican district nominating convention in Minnesota - Minnesota! - missed by just two votes including a resolution in its platform declaring that states have the right to secede from the union. What is in those lakes up there?!?!

These are the ravings of lunatics. The combination of federalism and capitalism makes American government in Washington about the least intrusive of any in the world, apart from those that are just a mess. I guess if you happen to think that the people of Sweden are being crushed as we speak under the oppressive yoke of socialism, you might find the (very low) tax rates in America to be scandalous. I guess if you think our good friends in Britain are enraged that they not only don't have a federal system of vertical power sharing like we do, but they don't even have states with which the national government could share power if it wanted to, then you might get away with thinking that Washington is a cruel taskmaster, lording it over Mississippi and Arizona. Just one thing, though - don't tell the Swedes or the Brits. So far, they have miraculously managed to avoid finding out just how oppressed and unhappy they truly are.

It's also amusing that you rarely hear the nice folks of the unhinged right specifying what it is, exactly, that the fascist feds are taking away from them. Guns?! Well, er, actually, no. Religion?! Gimme a break. The right to be racist?! Still perfectly legal.

Even though logic is to the right in America what a snarling Doberman is to cornered blind cat, I'd like to nevertheless dignify their rants by treating them seriously enough to agree with their expressed desires. If Texas wants to leave the union, I say: Let 'em. Same with anyone else. I'm not kidding. I mean it.

I say that for three reasons. The first is philosophical. I have never understood how one can claim to believe in democracy, but only if people are limited in what they get to decide via their democratic institutions. It's not enough that you get to pick your representatives, or even set policy directly through an initiative or referendum. Ultimately, the most profoundly undemocratic thing you can do is force people to belong to polities they don't want to be part of, and set that question as off-limits to their democratic decision-making. Americans hate the idea of being dictated to by this or that international institution. Why should they in turn demand that states be dictated to by America? If one happens to care about consistency of principle, this makes no sense.

Except if, as we often do, we reify the present into the eternal. America, we say, must remain intact because it exists today and we therefore cannot imagine any other alternative. Well, guess what? There wasn't always America. There wasn't always France or Britain or Germany or Canada either. In fact, the creation of each of these polities from their respective parts was deeply controversial in its time and often remains so today. Don't be surprised if any day now the Quebecois vote in a referendum to leave Canada, or the Scots to ditch the UK and form their own country. It's already come close to happening. And if that's what they want, then that's what they should be allowed to do. Otherwise, let's not fool ourselves. It ain't democracy. It might even be colonialism.

The second reason I don't have a problem with the concept of secession is pragmatic. The fact is that secession attempts are going to happen. Always have, always will. And when they do, there are basically two response options available to those who are the would-be seceded upon: The first is what you might call the Lincoln model, which is to deny anyone the right to leave a union their grandparents voluntarily joined or (more often) were forced into, and to fight a war if necessary to prevail on that question. It's bloody and it is, as I've already pointed out, highly undemocratic. I may be the only guy north of the Mason-Dixon Line to argue this, but I think Lincoln was wrong to force the South to remain in a union they no longer wanted to be in (not to mention the irony of him invoking the American War of Independence, over precisely the same concept, in the Gettysburg Address). The same is true of the ugly war Russia has fought in Chechnya, or the nasty Balkans wars of the 1990s. The principle is exactly the same in each case.

Option two, which I am happy to report the Anglophone Canadians or the English in the UK would surely follow today, is to say a reluctant good-bye. Divide up the household assets, get a divorce, pat the kids on the head, wish them luck, and send them packing. We might call this the Gorbachev model, and thank goodness he employed, rather than Russia going down Lincoln's path and fighting the fourteen other former republics to make them remain in the Soviet Union. Can anybody say the world is substantially worse off today because Belarus or Kazakhstan are independent states now? On the other hand, there are about 650,000 Americans who were consumed in Mr. Lincoln's war, and one heck of a lot more additional misery back then, beyond those direct battle deaths. That's a lot of people whom we can definitely say were seriously worse off. And for what? What great disaster would have ensued had the US split?

That's a serious question, which brings me to reason number three for letting secesh secede. It's not exactly a secret that the folks who want to split from the union today (as before) are the ones with the nastiest, most backward politics in the country, and would therefore hardly represent a loss to the rest of us. Worst of all, though, because they are aggressive and skilled at hard-ball politics, they are also the folks who hold leadership positions in the US government, way out of proportion to their numbers. Which means that their lousy politics get nationalized for all of us to enjoy. Thinking I'm kidding? Do these names mean anything to you?: Bush, Cheney, DeLay, Palin, McCain, Armey, Clinton, McConnell, Gingrich, Lott, Frist, Rove, Atwater, Thurmond, Helms. and so on... For years now, these fine folks have been working to turn the USA into Mississippi, rather than the other way around.

And they've succeeded. So now that they're talking about seceding, I'm wondering exactly what the down-side is. It's not like we in the would-be rump United States will lose revenue or something. In fact, the opposite is true. The folks who bitch the most about the oppressive heavy hand of Washington are always the same ones whose states are net recipients of federal funds. Which makes the rest of us net payers. And, I'm sorry, I don't mind helping out my comrades (even in Texas) who need an assist here and there. But not if they're going to have stupid and regressive policies. And especially not if the price of my assistance is having them insist we all have stupid and regressive policies. And really, totally, especially not if they're going to complain about how tough it is being forced to receive and spend my tax dollars.

I'm dead serious, then, when I say good riddance to the tea party and GOP dominated states and their backward societies. If they want to secede from the union, we should encourage them. We in the progressive states will then be free to actually make thoughtful public policy decisions for once, without all this painful catering to absolutely obstinate regressive politicians. They, meanwhile, can set up their ideal Republic of Jesus. They can toss out science and do supersti... - sorry, I mean religion - instead, as the basis for their education system and other policy decisions. They can spend all their money on the military and eat pork rinds all day long. They can cut their lazy seniors off the Social Security and Medicare dole, and put them to work in coal mines right up until the day they die. It will be good for their character! They can oppress women and minorities and gays just as much as they need to in order to feel better about their sorry selves, and then watch what happens when all those folks split for better places, like where we live. (Watch out, though - we may borrow their repressive immigration policies to keep them out of Intelligent America. We'll treat regressives like they treat poor Mexican immigrants, and wouldn't that alone be worth the price of admission?)

I'd like nothing more, to be honest, than to see those two new polities, side by side, conduct a little living experiment in social science. Let's all come back ten, thirty and fifty years later and compare notes. Let's see who is succeeding and who is just seceding, whose policy ideas work, and whose don't.

But there's one little problem, of course. There wouldn't just be two new polities - there would be more. In some ways, the best thing that happened to the Confederacy was to lose the war, because otherwise, like any good confederal polity, they would have immediately had to struggle with the massive problems of a pathetically weak central government. It's the same built-in disaster that caused the Founders to ditch the Articles of Confederation after about a decade or so of failure under its structure, opting instead for the horrifyingly repressive federalism model of the Constitution instead.

Let's say the South were to secede tomorrow, and establish Richmond as the capital of the new Confederate States of America. Not only would those boneheads immediately realize that none of their problems were solved by ditching Washington, and not only would they see that their problems and standard of living just got worse without us to carry them anymore, but they would also still be dealing with the same old power issues, only with worse outcomes. Richmond would try to give orders to Texas, only to find Texas flipping them a very nice little states' rights birdie in response. It might even get deeper than that. Maybe southern Florida would split from the northern half of the state. Secession on secession. And so on. What an accomplishment, eh?

If it sounds like I'm laughing at these tea party buffoons and their secession rants, it's because I am.

And if it sounds like I'd be more than happy to grant them the wish of their autonomy, it's because I would.

Indeed, I would just as soon that we secede from them ourselves, if they're not going to get there first.

Goodbye, and good riddance.

Oh, and good luck, too. Ya'll are gonna need it.
(c) 2010 David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York. He is delighted to receive readers' reactions to his articles, but regrets that time constraints do not always allow him to respond. More of his work can be found at his website,

The Dead Letter Office...

Heil Obama,

Dear Professor Gates,

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 being the perfect Uncle Tom about slavery thus calming whitey about der Fuhrere's blackness, Pakistan and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Harvard 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 Gates, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

Captives of Sheriff Joe's prison,
Maricopa County, Arizona.

Behind The Arizona Immigration Law
GOP Game to Swipe the November Election
By Greg Palast

Our investigation in Arizona discovered the real intent of the show-me-your-papers law.

Phoenix - Don't be fooled. The way the media plays the story, it was a wave of racist, anti-immigrant hysteria that moved Arizona Republicans to pass a sick little law, signed last week, requiring every person in the state to carry papers proving they are US citizens.

I don't buy it. Anti-Hispanic hysteria has always been as much a part of Arizona as the saguaro cactus and excessive air-conditioning.

What's new here is not the politicians' fear of a xenophobic "Teabag" uprising.

What moved GOP Governor Jan Brewer to sign the Soviet-style show-me-your-papers law is the exploding number of legal Hispanics, US citizens all, who are daring to vote - and daring to vote Democratic by more than two-to-one. Unless this demographic locomotive is halted, Arizona Republicans know their party will soon be electoral toast. Or, if you like, tortillas.

In 2008, working for "Rolling Stone" with civil rights attorney Bobby Kennedy, our team flew to Arizona to investigate what smelled like an electoral pogrom against Chicano voters . . . directed by one Jan Brewer.

Brewer, then secretary of state, had organized a racially loaded purge of the voter rolls that would have made Katherine Harris blush. Beginning after the 2004 election, under Brewer's command, no fewer than 100,000 voters, overwhelmingly Hispanic, were blocked from registering to vote. In 2005, the first year of the Great Brown-Out, one in three Phoenix residents found their registration applications rejected.

That statistic caught my attention. Voting or registering to vote if you're not a citizen is a felony, a big-time jail-time crime. And arresting such criminal voters is easy: After all, they give their names and addresses.

So I asked Brewer's office, had she busted a single one of these thousands of allegedly illegal voters? Did she turn over even one name to the feds for prosecution?

No, not one.

Which raises the question: Were these disenfranchised voters the criminal, non-citizens that Brewer tagged them to be, or just not-quite-white voters given the Jose Crow treatment, entrapped in document-chase trickery?

The answer was provided by a federal prosecutor who was sent on a crazy hunt all over the Western mesas looking for these illegal voters. "We took over 100 complaints, we investigated for almost two years, I didn't find one prosecutable voter fraud case." This prosecutor, David Iglesias, is a prosecutor no more. When he refused to fabricate charges of illegal voting among immigrants, his firing was personally ordered by the president of the United States, George W. Bush, under orders from his boss, Karl Rove.

Iglesias' jurisdiction was next door, in New Mexico, but he told me that Rove and the Republican chieftains were working nationwide to whip up anti-immigrant hysteria with public busts of illegal voters, even though there were none.

"They wanted some splashy pre-election indictments," Iglesias told me. The former prosecutor, himself a Republican, paid the price when he stood up to this vicious attack on citizenship.

But Secretary of State Brewer followed the Rove plan to a T. The weapon she used to slice the Arizona voter rolls was a 2004 law, known as "Prop 200," which required proof of citizenship to register. It is important to see the Republicans' latest legislative horror show, sanctioning cops to stop residents and prove citizenship, as just one more step in the party's desperate plan to impede Mexican-Americans from marching to the ballot box.

(By the way, no one elected Brewer. Weirdly, Barack Obama placed her in office last year when, for reasons known only to the Devil and Rahm Emanuel, the president appointed Arizona's Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano to his cabinet, which automatically moved Republican Brewer into the Governor's office.)

State Senator Russell Pearce, the Republican sponsor of the latest ID law, gave away his real intent, blocking the vote, when he said, "There is a massive effort under way to register illegal aliens in this country."

How many? Pearce's PR flak told me, five million. All Democrats, too. Again, I asked Pearce's office to give me their names and addresses from their phony registration forms. I'd happily make a citizens arrest of each one, on camera. Pearce didn't have five million names. He didn't have five. He didn't have one.

The horde of five million voters who swam the Rio Grande just to vote for Obama was calculated on a Republican website extrapolating from the number of Mexicans in a border town who refused jury service because they were not citizens. Not one, in fact, had registered to vote: they had registered to drive. They had obtained licenses as required by the law.

The illegal voters, "wetback" welfare moms, and alien job thieves are just GOP website wet dreams, but their mythic PR power helps the party's electoral hacks chop away at voter rolls and civil rights with little more than a whimper from the Democrats.

Indeed, one reason, I discovered, that some Democrats are silent is that they are in on the game themselves. In New Mexico, Democratic Party bosses tossed away ballots of Pueblo Indians to cut native influence in party primaries.

But what's wrong with requiring folks to prove they're American if they want to vote and live in America? The answer: because the vast majority of perfectly legal voters and residents who lack ID sufficient for Ms. Brewer and Mr. Pearce are citizens of color, citizens of poverty.

According to a study by professor Matt Barreto, of Washington State University, minority citizens are half as likely as whites to have the government ID. The numbers are dreadfully worse when income is factored in.

Just outside Phoenix, without Brewer's or Pearce's help, I did locate one of these evil un-American voters, that is, someone who could not prove her citizenship: 100-year-old Shirley Preiss. Her US birth certificate was nowhere to be found, as it never existed.

In Phoenix, I stopped in at the Maricopa County prison where Sheriff Joe Arpaio houses the captives of his campaign to stop illegal immigration. Arpaio, who under the new Arizona law will be empowered to choose his targets for citizenship testing, is already facing federal indictment for his racially charged and legally suspect methods.

Ok, I admit, I was a little nervous, passing through the iron doors with a big sign, "NOTICE: ILLEGAL ALIENS ARE PROHIBITED FROM VISITING ANYONE IN THIS JAIL." I mean, Grandma Palast snuck into the USA via Windsor, Canada. We Palasts are illegal as they come, but Arpaio's sophisticated deportee-sniffer didn't stop this white boy from entering his sanctum.

But that's the point, isn't it? Not to stop non-citizens from entering Arizona - after all, who else would care for the country club lawn? - but to harass folks of the wrong color: Democratic blue.
(c) 2010 Greg Palast is author of the New York Times bestseller, "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy." His investigations for BBC TV and Democracy Now! can be seen by subscribing to Palast's reports at.

The Dangerous Henry Louis Gates
By Margaret Kimberley

"Gates will do untold damage to the rest of the race for the rest of his life unless he is called out for the scoundrel that he is."

Henry Louis Gates is perhaps the most dangerous man alive to black Americans. He has the cache of a professorship at Harvard University, a position which undeservedly gives his voice an added weight of authority on every issue. Gates' area of specialty is African American literature, but he has shrewdly marketed himself as the "go to" guy on any and every issue effecting black people all over the world.

The secret of his success is not at all difficult to decipher. Gates is a masterful and consummate suck up. He sucks up to white people in the worst and most damaging way possible to other black people. He never passes up a chance to let white people off the hook for the evils they have committed and henever passes up a chance to blame black people for just about anything bad that has ever happened to them.

His latest outrageous and toxic thoughts were spewed, as usual, in the opinion pages of the New York Times. This tome, "Ending the Slavery Blame Game [1]," uses African participation in the slave trade as his latest cudgel with which to beat black people and to make a mockery of the question of reparations for the 200-year history of slavery in the United States. Gates told the corporate U.S. media, his longtime sponsors:

"There are many thorny issues to resolve before we can arrive at a judicious (if symbolic) gesture to match such a sustained, heinous crime. Perhaps the most vexing is how to parcel out blame to those directly involved in the capture and sale of human beings for immense economic gain."

Gates goes on to describe African involvement in the sale of human beings and does so only for the purpose of making white people feel guilt free and dismiss any discussion of the need to compensate black Americans for their ancestors' enslavement which was followed by decades of Jim Crow segregation.

"Gates never passes up a chance to blame black people for just about anything bad that has ever happened to them."

This salient fact regarding reparations is ignored by Gates because it isn't at all profitable to him and to his career. He earns a small fortune and receives accolades only if he continues to blame black people and makes white people blameless. Reparations are not about blame, they are about compensation, compensation for the terror and oppression wrought by what was directly sanctioned by the United States government.

Gates has gained celebrity status in the same way that his hero Barack Obama became president of the United States. They have distanced themselves from the rest of the black world and in the process made white people feel comfortable with them and others like them. After Gates was arrested by a Cambridge, Massachusetts policeman in July 2009, Glen Ford at Black Agenda Report made this observation [2]:

"The class to which they belong is only loosely linked to material wealth. Rather, it is largely negatively defined - that is, Gates' and Obama's shared class status is based on the perception of what they are not. They are not like the rest of Black folks; they are different, a cut above the rest, in their own and in white people's estimations."

"Reparations are about compensation for the terror and oppression wrought by what was directly sanctioned by the United States government."

Gates puts Obama firmly in this new mix, confident that the president will not brook any serious discussion on the need for reparations or anything else which might black people might consider demanding. His Op-Ed to the New York Times reads:

"Fortunately, in President Obama, the child of an African and an American, we finally have a leader who is uniquely positioned to bridge the great reparations divide. He is uniquely placed to publicly attribute responsibility and culpability where they truly belong, to white people and black people, on both sides of the Atlantic, complicit alike in one of the greatest evils in the history of civilization."

What better way for Gates to distance himself from the masses of blacks than to say that complicity for a 400-year enterprise that benefited Europe and the Americas is somehow shared. Gates enumerates in great detail the level of African involvement but never gets around to doing the same for any white people.

In one of his over-rated Public Broadcasting System programs, Gates met the Archbishop of Canterbury in one of his travels. He might have asked him about Church of England's involvement in the slave trade, including ownership of a sugar plantation in Barbados called Codrington. The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts branded the word "society" on the backs of the enslaves at Codrington. When Britain abolished slavery in its colonies, it compensated slave owners for the loss of their property. No compensation was paid to slaves for unpaid labor and torture. The Bishop of Exeter received 13,000 pounds for the loss of his 665 slaves [3]. Gates' tongue was tied when he met this very important very white man. The subject of white complicity never came up.

"No one should be fooled by Gates just because the New York Times has a hotline to his office."

It is tempting but ultimately useless to debate Gates' facts. He doesn't really care about the facts. He cares about keeping black people in their place and making himself more and more prominent. He was bad enough before Barack Obama became president but now he has a uniquely placed partner in crime. He can use Obama as an example of the outlier in the black community who proves that the rest of the group are of no consequence and therefore rightly ignored.

Gates will do untold damage to the rest of the race for the rest of his life unless he is called out for the scoundrel that he is. As long as he makes a profitable living at the expense of millions of other people his words must be denounced. No one should be fooled by him just because the New York Times has a hotline to his office. That is precisely why his every utterance must be rejected.
(c)2010 Margaret Kimberley's "Freedom Rider" column appears weekly in the Black Agenda Report. She is BAR's editor and senior columnist. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail.

The Cartoon Corner...

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

To End On A Happy Note...

By Gene Pitney

I live on the West side, she lives on the East side of the stree-ee-eet
And though they say that East is East and West is West
And never the twain shall meet
Each morning I face her window and pray that our love can be
'Cause that brownstone house where my baby lives
Is Mecca (Mecca, Mecca, Mecca) Mecca (Mecca, Mecca) to me-e-e-e-e-e.

Oh she's my teen goddess and her ruby lips are so div-i-ine
And though her folks say we're too young to know of love
I worship at her shrine
Each morning I face her window and pray that our love can be
'Cause that brownstone house where my baby lives
Is Mecca (Mecca, Mecca, Mecca) Mecca (Mecca, Mecca) to me-e-e-e-e-e.

Each morning I face her window and pray that our love can be
'Cause that brownstone house where my baby lives
Is Mecca (Mecca, Mecca, Mecca) Mecca (Mecca, Mecca) to me-e-e-e-e-e.
(c) 1963/2010 Geene Pitney

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Biden refused to leave "without a fight," forcing staff
to physically remove the 36-year Senate veteran.

Biden Receives Lifetime Ban From Dave & Buster's

DALLAS-Following dozens of complaints from waitstaff and numerous incidents of property damage over the past 10 years, representatives from the Dave & Buster's corporation, a bar-restaurant chain offering a wide variety of arcade games, announced today that Vice President Joe Biden has been permanently banned from all 55 locations nationwide.

The lifetime ban came after a heavily intoxicated Biden was forcibly ejected from a Bethesda, MD Dave & Buster's earlier this week for destroying a Whac-A-Mole game, which the vice president claimed had been "rigged." According to the ensuing police report, Biden became verbally abusive when asked to leave, calling several employees "a bunch of killjoy cocksuckers."

"We are saddened that such extreme measures had to be taken in regard to the vice president's recent behavior," said Dave & Buster's spokesman David Weldon, adding that posters with Biden's image on them have been distributed to all locations. "However, Mr. Biden has been given many, many chances to act in a responsible and respectful manner while enjoying the great food and fun that Dave & Buster's has to offer. Unfortunately, he has failed to do so time and again."

"In the interests of the safety and well-being of our patrons and staff, we must insist that the vice president never set foot in another Dave & Buster's ever again," Weldon second-in-command expressed his displeasure with Spin N Win's "bullshit" ticket payout system.

Though the scope and severity of the ban are unprecedented, Weldon said that several individual Dave & Buster's locations have previously expelled Biden for lengths ranging from six weeks to two years, with the first occurring in Dover, DE in 1990. According to records, Biden visited that location while campaigning for his fourth Senate term, and kicked over a Galaga arcade game after getting into a verbal altercation with a server over a $16 tab.

The nation's second-in-command expressed his displeasure
with Spin N Win's "bullshit" ticket payout system.

Bans from Dallas, Minneapolis, and Denver locations followed, with the most notable interdict coming in 2006 at the high-profile Dave & Buster's restaurant in Times Square. Sources said that Biden, attending the grand opening of the establishment, asked several waitresses if they wanted to "get a daisy chain going" and then placed two Skee-Balls down the front of his cutoff jeans.

After being confronted by a manager, Biden reportedly threw several air-hockey disks into the dining area as an ill-conceived distraction and was tackled by a security guard while running toward the exit.

"He was loud but basically not bothering anyone at first," said Miami Dave & Buster's manager Rick Perelson, who was forced to ban Biden from his restaurant in 2002-in part for physically ousting a 14-year-old from a Dance Dance Revolution arcade game. "That is, until he got really drunk and started telling other customers what they should order."

"And after what he did to the bathroom, I was really left with no choice," Perelson continued. "Just disgusting."

According to other Dave & Buster's employees, Biden has not historically respected the bans that have been placed on him. After he was barred from the Tempe, AZ location in 2007, the former senator would reportedly do burnouts in the parking lot with his Trans Am while waiting to pick up a waitress employed there at the time, a woman identified only as "Candi."

Though Biden's problems with the Dave & Buster's company appear to be unique among those who have held his office, he is not the first vice president to run afoul of a business. In a famous case in 1869, Schuyler Colfax was barred from entering any location of the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company in the state of New York after a series of episodes involving the upending of pickle barrels.

And Spiro Agnew was told to "never set foot again" in the Children's National Medical Center of Washington following a 1971 incident.

Despite having described Dave & Buster's as his favorite restaurant dozens of times in the past, Biden is evidently unperturbed by the lifetime ban.

"The vice president wouldn't patronize that glorified Chuck E. Cheese's if it were the last place on earth," Biden aide Jim Tomlin told reporters at a press conference earlier today. "Who gives a crap about that stupid dump?"

"Besides, his 15-year ban from the Hustler Club is up next month, so it doesn't really matter anyway," Tomlin added.
(c) 2010 The Onion

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Issues & Alibis Vol 10 # 18 (c) 04/30/2010

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