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In This Edition

Noam Chomsky explores, "The 'Great Moderation' And The International Assault On Labor."

Uri Avnery introduces the, "Rubber Man."

David Sirota wonders aloud, "Do Nazis Deserve More Rights Than Terrorists?"

Ted Rall followers the, "Rise Of The Obamabots."

Jim Hightower declares, "A Corporate Lobbyist Runs For President."

Helen Thomas is, "Finding Economic Solutions."

Amy Goodman reviews, "Electronic Brownshirts’."

Glenn Greenwald says with tongue-in-cheek, "They Hate Us For Our Freedoms."

Chris Floyd reports, "Yes, They Lied; Yes, A Million Died; And Yes, They Want It To Go On."

Robert Scheer finds, "One Lawman With The Guts To Go After Wall Street."

Paul Krugman examines, "America Held Hostage."

Chris Hedges explains, "Why Cornel West Went Ballistic."

David Michael Green returns with, "Cowards And Crack Dealers."

Indiana Supreme Court Justice Steven David wins the coveted "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

John Nichols discovers there's, "No Room For Reaganites."

Phil Rockstroh is, "Leaving The Church of Free Market Miracles."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowitz returns with, "Schwarzenegger: ‘I Am The Sperminator’" but first, Uncle Ernie sez, "It's The End Of The World As We Know It!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Marshall Ramsey, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Derf City, Married To The Sea.Com, Jim Morin, Broken Eye 3, News Corpse.Com, BDog23. Nonnie 9995, Pavlovian Obeisance.Com, Frank Franklin II, Pablo Martinez Monsivais, You Tube.Com and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

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

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

It's The End Of The World As We Know It!
And I feel fine
By Ernest Stewart

It's The End Of The World As We Know It
It's The End Of The World As We Know It
It's The End Of The World As We Know It
And I feel fine
It's The End Of The World As We Know It ~~~ REM

Police state
Police state
Police state
Police state
Help, it's the police!
Police State ~~~ The Firesign Theatre

"Residents who attempt to destroy evidence have only themselves to blame when police burst in."
~~~ Justice Samuel (Sammy the coathanger) Alito Jr ~~~

Mildred: What're you rebelling against, Johnny?
Johnny: Whaddya got?
The Wild One ~~~ Peggy Maley to Marlon Brando

Ah, yes, I see that another group of religious lunatics has crawled out of the woodwork to predict the end of the world, which is, according to them, starting this Saturday!

According to Harold Camping, the 89-year-old leader of the Family Radio Ministry it's mathematically sound. Starting last October, "Family Radio believers fanned across the country in buses announcing that a tremendous earthquake will shatter the world on May 21. On that day, Jesus will reappear and take to heaven around 3 percent of humankind -- true Christians chosen long ago by God. Other humans will endure 153 days of death and horror until they are annihilated on Oct. 21, the end of the world." Imagine that! According to Harold's biblical-based math,"

"Noah received God’s message in 4990 B.C. (7,000 years ago) that the destruction of the world would come in 7 days -- or 7,000 years, per the statement in Peter 3:8 that one Bible day equals a thousand years. Another part of the equation is April 1, A.D. 33, the supposed date of the crucifixion of Christ. Camping uses a multiplication formula of 5 x 10 x 17 x 5 x 10 x 17, with each number having divine significance, that produces 722,500 -- the number of days between the crucifixion and the day of the divine Rapture."

Of course, Harold could be wrong like he was 17 years ago when he predicted that the world would end on Sept. 6, 1994, (in fact, this is his third prediction -- three times is a charm, huh, Harold?). When the world didn't end, he said he had misread the figures -- and now, with his revised calculations, his flock is in a frenzied lather of anticipation. Last fall many gave up all their worldly possessions and unbelieving family members and got on buses to spread the good news!

I've lost count of the times since since 1999 that similar con men have predicted the end, and, yet, here we still are! I wonder if Harold's cult will join the Jim Jones and Heaven's Gate cults and remove themselves from all of us non-believers! We can but hope! I'm trying to get an interview with Harold on May 23rd. Have no doubt that if I do, you can read all about it here in this column! Also, if any member of the cult would like to leave me their car, as they won't be needing it in heaven and all, I'd certainly appreciate it!

In Other News

This should send some shivers down your spine. Apparently, The 4th Amendment no longer applies down in Indiana. As well as busting unions and getting rid of the middle class, the Indiana Supreme Court recently ruled that they have vays of making you cooperate! You have relatives in Kokomo, jawohl? What these geniuses ruled was that it's illegal to resist in any way an illegal search of your house by the police, i.e., they can enter without a warrant, and you must go along with them; and god help you if you're hiding some Jews in your attic! Regardless of the fact that this ruling goes against not only The 4th Amendment, but hundreds of years of American law!

The court issued its 3-2 ruling on Thursday, contending that allowing residents to resist officers who enter their homes without any right would increase the risk of violent confrontation. No sh*t? If police enter a home illegally, the courts are the proper place to protest it, (Protest it? WTF!) Justice Steven David said:

"We believe ... a right to resist an unlawful police entry into a home is against public policy and is incompatible with modern Fourth Amendment jurisprudence. We also find that allowing resistance unnecessarily escalates the level of violence and therefore the risk of injuries to all parties involved without preventing the arrest."

I'm going to repeat that again for those of you on drugs:

"They don't need no stinking warrants!
Iraqi neighborhood patrols coming to Indianapolis!"

The Times of Munster reported: Justices Robert Rucker and Brent Dickson strongly dissented, saying the ruling runs afoul of the U.S. Constitution's Fourth Amendment against unreasonable search and seizure. Rucker said:

"In my view the majority sweeps with far too broad a brush by essentially telling Indiana citizens that government agents may now enter their homes illegally -- that is, without the necessity of a warrant, consent or exigent circumstances."

Both dissenting justices suggested they would have supported the ruling if the court had limited its scope to stripping the right to resist officers who enter homes illegally in cases where they suspect domestic violence is being committed.

But Dickson said:

"The wholesale abrogation of the historic right of a person to reasonably resist unlawful police entry into his dwelling is unwarranted and unnecessarily broad."

Valparaiso University School of Law professor Ivan Bodensteiner said of the ruling:

"It's not surprising that they would say there's no right to beat the hell out of the officer. (The court is saying) we would rather opt on the side of saying if the police act wrongfully in entering your house your remedy is under law, to bring a civil action against the officer."

Sounds so reasonable, huh? I wonder how many fishing expeditions will be going on in the darker neighborhoods in Indiana by suspicious Jack Booted thugs who were only showing initiative! We're beginning that slick slide down that slippery slope... and I feel fine! Do you?

And Finally

And while we're on the subject, this just in. In a 8 to 1 decision the US Extreme Court says policemen can now break into your house without a warrant if they hear sounds and suspect that evidence is being destroyed! Oh, where to begin on this one?

First, only Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg voted against this atrocious ruling -- meaning that both of Obamahood's, "liberal" appointees (Sonia (get whitey) Sotomayor and Elena (Butch) Kagan) voted to gut The 4th Amendment. Are you surprised, America? I'm not!

While it's bad enough that some fascist in a red state like Indiana tries to overthrow the US Constitution, it's another thing when the Extreme Court does it, too. Call me a radical, but I think all eight members of the Extreme Court that voted for this treason should be impeached -- for treason!

"When law enforcement officers who are not armed with a warrant knock on a door, they do no more than any private citizen may do," Sammy (the coat-hanger) Alito wrote. "A resident need not respond," he added. "But the sounds of people moving and perhaps toilets being flushed could justify police entering without a warrant."

So going to the bathroom is now an excuse for the gestapo to break down your door, without a warrant!

In her dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said she feared the ruling gave police an easy way to ignore 4th Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. She said the amendment's "core requirement" is that officers have probable cause and a search warrant before they break into a house. Ginsburg asked:

"How 'secure' do our homes remain if police, armed with no warrant, can pound on doors at will and -- forcibly enter?"

For those of you keeping score, the House, President and Extreme Court all are now in the hands of the bosses, our corpo-rat masters, and when the Senate falls as it will next year, that will spell the end of our Republic. Could somebody play "Taps," please!

Keepin' On

I guess it's true that misery loves company, huh? I got to thinking (Yes, I know, that's a very dangerous thing for me to do!) about that while writing the formula for Ted Rall's piece, "Rise Of The Obamabots."

Ted was singing the blues about losing all his business because he chose to tell it like it is, even about Obamahood! Yep, been there done that! And like the 50s witch hunts, he got blacklisted for not falling in line and becoming a Obamabot. He lost almost all of his papers and magazines (over 100) where his cartoons and articles used to run for going after Obama the very same way that he went after Bush Jr., Slick Willy, and King George I! All that he would've needed to do was simply ignore Obama and keep going after the Rethuglicans, which of course he still does, as do I. And all it would have cost Ted and I would be our souls!

Of course, I wasn't in a hundred newspapers and magazines: I was in 21, all but two have dropped me. Our readership dropped by 80%, although it's currently on the rise, and donations dropped likewise as well! Of course, Ted got paid for all his work, while I never took a dime for mine. Still I don't begrudge Ted any of his monies for his art; I, too, once-upon-a-time worked for newspapers and drew a salary for my work.

However, I can no longer afford to pay the magazines bills out of my own, now-poor pocket. Ergo, a little help if you haven't sold out and still think what we do here is important, i.e., tell the truth about everyone and everything political. If we go under, who ya gonna call?


08-17-1932 - 05-16-2011
Come Watson, the games afoot!

06-29-1936 - 05-17-2011
Strike three, yer out!


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


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

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

The 'Great Moderation' And The International Assault On Labor
By Noam Chomsky

In most of the world, May Day is an international workers' holiday, bound up with the bitter 19th-century struggle of American workers for an eight-hour day. The May Day just past leads to somber reflection.

A decade ago, a useful word was coined in honor of May Day by radical Italian labor activists: "precarity." It referred at first to the increasingly precarious existence of working people "at the margins" -- women, youth, migrants. Then it expanded to apply to the growing "precariat" of the core labor force, the "precarious proletariat" suffering from the programs of deunionization, flexibilization and deregulation that are part of the assault on labor throughout the world.

By that time, even in Europe there was mounting concern about what labor historian Ronaldo Munck, citing Ulrich Beck, calls the "Brazilianization of the West -- the spread of temporary and insecure employment, discontinuity and loose informality into Western societies that have hitherto been the bastions of full employment."

The state-corporate war against unions has recently extended to the public sector, with legislation to ban collective bargaining and other elementary rights. Even in pro-labor Massachusetts, the House of Representatives voted right before May Day to sharply restrict the rights of police officers, teachers, and other municipal employees to bargain over healthcare -- essential matters in the U.S., with its dysfunctional and highly inefficient privatized health-care system.

The rest of the world may associate May 1 with the struggle of American workers for basic rights, but in the United States that solidarity is suppressed in favor of a jingoist holiday. May 1 is "Loyalty Day," designated by Congress in 1958 for "the reaffirmation of loyalty to the United States and for the recognition of the heritage of American freedom." President Eisenhower proclaimed further that Loyalty Day is also Law Day, reaffirmed annually by displaying the flag and dedication to "Justice for All," "Foundations of Freedom" and "Struggle for Justice."

The U.S. calendar has a Labor Day, in September, celebrating the return to work after a vacation that is far briefer than in other industrial countries.

The ferocity of the assault against labor by the U.S. business class is illustrated by Washington's failure, for 60 years, to ratify the core principle of international labor law, which guarantees freedom of association. Legal analyst Steve Charnovitz calls it "the untouchable treaty in American politics" and observes that there has never even been any debate about the matter.

Washington's dismissal of some conventions supported by the International Labor Organization (ILO) contrasts sharply with its dedication to enforcement of monopoly-pricing rights for corporations, disguised under the mantle of "free trade" in one of the contemporary Orwellisms.

In 2004, the ILO reported that "economic and social insecurities were multiplying with globalization and the policies associated with it, as the global economic system has become more volatile and workers were increasingly shouldering the burden of risk, for instance, though pension and health care reforms."

This was what economists call the period of the Great Moderation, hailed as "one of the great transformations of modern history," led by the United States and based on "liberation of markets" and particularly "deregulation of financial markets."

This paean to the American way of free markets was delivered by Wall Street Journal editor Gerard Baker in January 2007, just months before the system crashed -- and with it the entire edifice of the economic theology on which it was based -- bringing the world economy to near disaster.

The crash left the United States with levels of real unemployment comparable to the Great Depression, and in many ways worse, because under the current policies of the masters those jobs are not coming back, as they did through massive government stimulus during World War II and the following decades of the "golden age" of state capitalism.

During the Great Moderation, American workers had become accustomed to a precarious existence. The rise of an American precariat was proudly hailed as a primary factor in the Great Moderation that brought slower economic growth, virtual stagnation of real income for the majority of the population, and wealth beyond the dreams of avarice for a tiny sector, a fraction of 1 percent, mostly CEOs, hedge fund managers and the like.

The high priest of this magnificent economy was Alan Greenspan, described by the business press as "saintly" for his brilliant stewardship. Glorying in his achievements, he testified before Congress that they relied in part on "atypical restraint on compensation increases (which) appears to be mainly the consequence of greater worker insecurity."

The disaster of the Great Moderation was salvaged by heroic government efforts to reward the perpetrators. Neil Barofsky, stepping down on March 30 as special inspector general of the bailout program, wrote a revelatory New York Times op-ed about how the bailout worked.

In theory, the legislative act that authorized the bailout was a bargain: The financial institutions would be saved by the taxpayer, and the victims of their misdeeds would be somewhat compensated by measures to protect home values and preserve homeownership.

Part of the bargain was kept: The financial institutions were rewarded lavishly for causing the crisis, and forgiven for outright crimes. But the rest of the program floundered.

As Barofsky writes:

"Foreclosures continue to mount, with 8 million to 13 million filings forecast over the program's lifetime" while "the biggest banks are 20 percent larger than they were before the crisis and control a larger part of our economy than ever. They reasonably assume that the government will rescue them again, if necessary. Indeed, credit rating agencies incorporate future government bailouts into their assessments of the largest banks, exaggerating market distortions that provide them with an unfair advantage over smaller institutions, which continue to struggle."

In short, President Obama's programs were "a giveaway to Wall Street executives" and a blow in the solar plexus to their defenseless victims.

The outcome should surprise only those who insist on hopeless naivete about the design and implementation of policy, particularly when economic power is highly concentrated and state capitalism has entered into a new stage of "creative destruction," to borrow Joseph Schumpeter's famous phrase, but with a twist: creative in ways to enrich and empower the rich and powerful, while the rest are free to survive as they may, while celebrating Loyalty and Law Day.
(c) 2011 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 Gaza In Crisis.

Rubber Man
By Uri Avnery

I COULD not restrain myself. Though I was alone in the room, I burst out laughing.

I was reading a newspaper report about the latest poll. People were asked to evaluate the nation’s leaders.

It appears that the President of the State, Shimon Peres, is by far the most popular leader in Israel. 72% of those polled approve of him, only 20% disapprove. The runners-up were far behind: 60% for the Knesset speaker, Reuven Rivlin, the same for the Governor of the Bank of Israel, Stanley Fischer, and 57% for the aggressive State Comptroller, Micha Lindenstrauss. The President of the Supreme Court, Dorit Beinish, was already under the 50% approval rate: she got 49%, followed by Tzipi Livni with 48%.

The three champions of unpopularity were the three most powerful politicians in the country, the men who are shaping our future: Binyamin Netanyahu (38% approve, 53% disapprove), Avigdor Lieberman (40% approve, 52% disapprove) and Ehud Barak (30% approve, 63% disapprove!)

So why did I laugh?

HISTORY HAS a lot of humor. It is easier to imagine it directed by the willful and spiteful gods of Mount Olympus than by the austere god of the Jews, who resides above the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Humor has never been his strong point.

Yet here is Shimon Peres, the most popular] person in Israel. How absolutely hilarious! Because in all his long life (he is two weeks older than I) he has never won an election. (Knesset members are not elected personally, but as members of a party list.)

He has been a politician since the age of 20 and has never been anything else. In a democratic country, the business of a politician is to get elected and then reelected. Yet Peres never was. In dozens of election campaigns – Knesset elections and party primary elections – he has never won. (He has never won a majority in an election as party leader, and failed to be elected in other cases where he was standing as an individual candidate.) The voters just could not bring themselves to vote for him.

(He once flung a rhetorical question at a party audience: “Am I a loser?” The reply was a thunderous: “Y E S !”)

Even his present job he got by a fluke. The President of the State is elected by the Knesset in secret ballot. When Peres ran for president the first time, the Knesset rejected him, preferring a mediocre, run-of-the-mill party hack called Moshe Katzav. That was the ultimate humiliation. Only when Katzav was uncovered as a serial women-molester and had to resign, was Peres elected by a remorseful Knesset. The members seem to have said to themselves: enough is enough. We can’t go on torturing this man, who has – after all – been a member of the Knesset for some 45 years.

And now this man – whom almost everybody loved to hate – has become the most beloved leader in the country, as well as a respected Elder Statesman throughout the world. Weird.

I MET him for the first time in 1953. I was the owner/editor of a popular news magazine, he was the newly appointed Director General of the Ministry of Defense, an immensely powerful position because the minister was David Ben-Gurion. Peres became his main assistant.

He had invited me to a meeting about some trivial matter. It was not a case of love at first sight. As a matter of fact, we disliked each other from the first moment.

There was not just a lack of chemistry. There was a very concrete reason why many people of my - and his - age-group detested him: he did not serve in the army in the 1948 war. That was almost incredible: when the fighting broke out, all of us had rushed to the colors, our entire generation was ravished by the war, I myself was seriously wounded. Yet here was a young man who had missed these momentous events.

To be fair, Peres did not idle during the war. Ben-Gurion sent him abroad to procure arms, which we needed desperately. But that could have been done by an older person, rather than an able-bodied young man of 25. It was a stigma that clung to him for decades, as long as the war generation was setting the tone in our new state. It helps to explain, by the way, why he lost out several times to Yitzhak Rabin, an authentic combat commander, loved and respected by almost everybody.

Yet, though there were always good reasons for not liking him, it seems that the aversion to him was basically irrational. He himself once complained that as a boy, when he was coming home from (Jewish) school in his Polish home town, the other (Jewish) boys used to beat him up for no reason at all, and his younger brother had to rush to his defense. “Why do they hate me?” he queried his mother plaintively.

Fortunately, his parents took him to Palestine in the 1930s, when he was 13 years old (I came a bit earlier). He was sent to a famous Zionist youth village, married the daughter of the local carpenter and was just settling down in a kibbutz, when he discovered a higher calling.

IN THE early 1940s, there was a split in Mapai, the almighty ruling party in the Yishuv (the Jewish community in Palestine). The dissidents founded a new party, more socialist, more kibbutz-oriented and more “activist” in national affairs. Naturally, most young people were drawn to it.

That was Peres’ first great chance. He was one of the very few young people who remained true to the old party, and thus attracted the attention of the party bosses, Ben-Gurion and Levy Eshkol. That was the end of Peres the kibbutznik and the beginning birth of Peres the life-long politician.

He did what he did later many times in his life. He “plowed” the country, visited all the local chapters of the youth movement, made speech after speech. His indefatigable diligence made up for the lack of natural charm. His deep voice gave his most banal platitudes the ring of profound truth.

WHAT WERE his innermost convictions? What did he believe in?

Well, that depends on the year, the day and the hour. Throughout his political life, Peres has held all possible views, shedding them without a backward glance and adopting others. He is the perfect example of Groucho Marx’s famous dictum: “These are my principles. If you don’t like them, I have others, too.”

When I first met him, he was a raving hawk. He and Moshe Dayan were pushing Ben-Gurion – and were being pushed by him – towards war by “warming up” the borders with “retaliation raids”. He boasts of being the architect of the then French-Israeli alliance.

France was fighting a dirty war to keep Algeria in its grip and needed Israel to divert the Egyptian leader, Gamal Abd-al-Nasser. Peres willingly served this noble cause and prepared the French-Israeli-British collusion that led to their attack on Egypt. The 1956 Suez war was a disaster for Israel, because it finally consolidated in Arab eyes Israel’s position as an ally of the hated colonialist powers. In return, France presented Peres with a handsome gift: the nuclear reactor in Dimona. Even now, Peres considers this his finest achievement.

At the time, Peres announced that the alliance between France and Israel was not based on sordid interests, but on profound common values. Like so many of Peres’ immortal statements, this one took less than ten years to be to lose its luster : Charles de Gaulle gave up Algeria, France sought to re-establish its position in the Arab world, relations with Israel were unceremoniously thrown overboard, together with those “profound common values,”

AS MINISTER of Defense in the mid-1970s, Peres was the father of the settlements in the central West Bank. He used the settlers to undermine his arch-enemy, Rabin, then his Prime Minister, who objected on principle to the setting up of settlements in the occupied territories.

Next, Peres suddenly emerged as the Man of Peace. Not with the Palestinian people, God forbid, but with King Hussein of Jordan. As Foreign Minister in the coalition cabinet of Yitzhak Shamir, he negotiated a secret agreement with His Majesty, but was immediately overruled by Shamir, who would not dream of making peace with anyone. So that was that.

At that time Peres realized that peace, as an abstract idea, was good for him. He became the prophet of “the New Middle East”, endlessly talking about it, doing nothing for it. When Yasser Arafat initiated what became the Oslo Agreement, Peres embraced it enthusiastically and claimed sole authorship. He even invited me to a private meeting in which he lectured me with the zeal of a convert on the merits of the Two State Solution (which I have publicly advocated since 1949).

The practical test came when Rabin was assassinated and Peres took over. For the first time, he was free to act and turn Oslo immediately into a real peace agreement. Instead, he started a war in Lebanon which came to a quick and disastrous end when the artillery caused - by mistake - a massacre in Qana. Then he approved the assassination of an important Hamas leader, setting in motion a series of bloody suicide bombings in all major Israeli towns. So Peres lost the elections (again) and Netanyahu came to power.

That was not the end. Ariel Sharon broke away from Likud and founded the Kadima party. After losing his bid for the chairmanship of the Labor Party, Peres left them and joined Kadima. As the inventor of The New Middle East he gave Sharon, the sworn enemy of Palestinian independence, a kosher certificate and played a major role in getting the world to accept him. Now he is performing the same service for Netanyahu, using his position as President and Elder Statesman to convince the world’s governments that Netanyahu is at heart a Man of Peace and given time – much, much time – he will yet “surprise the world.”

AS PRESIDENT of the state, Peres talks endlessly, as he has always done. Yet in all his uncounted millions of words, I have yet to detect a single original idea.

That is by itself a curious state of affairs. Like Ben-Gurion, whom he seeks to imitate, he presents himself as a profound thinker, an intellectual who reads all the important books. One of his former aides claims that he never really reads a book, but has his assistants prepare resumes of their contents, so he can talk about them knowingly. I judge by his style – a person who reads poetry and literature is bound to reflect some of this in his speeches and writing. Peres’ products are uniformly shallow, his Hebrew trite and superficial. No wonder that he is now the most popular leader in Israel.

The man who has advocated everything, war and peace, socialism and capitalism, secularism and religion, and whose principles are so elastic that they can embrace anything and everybody – at long last he has achieved, on the State of Israel’s 63th anniversary, what he has been searching for all his life:

People love him.
(c) 2011 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Do Nazis Deserve More Rights Than Terrorists?
Bin Laden's assassination raises troubling questions about presidential power and how we treat our enemies
By David Sirota

If the mission to neutralize Osama bin Laden were a blockbuster movie, the screen would have almost certainly faded to black as soon as the accused terrorist's death was announced. No doubt, the credits would roll to Queen's "We Will Rock You" and then the big "The End" would appear.

Alas, real life is not one of Hollywood's many Pentagon-sponsored flicks -- and as hard as President Obama tried to portray last week's events as proof "that America can do whatever we set our mind to," the mission and its cloudy aftermath have raised troubling questions about the "whatever" part. Among the most important of those queries are:

-- Is it legal for a president to issue extrajudicial "kill only" orders -- that is, orders to kill but not capture a suspect, even if that suspect surrenders? United Nations investigators are now asking this very question after Reuters cited an Obama administration official in reporting that U.S. troops were "under orders to kill (bin Laden), not capture him."

Tellingly, the revelation of the possible "kill only" order came as the administration was retracting claims that bin Laden was armed and resisting arrest, and just as the British press reported on bin Laden's 12-year-old daughter alleging that her father was first captured alive and then summarily executed.

-- Who is the president now prohibited from executing sans due process? At first glance, the answer might seem to be "anyone not named Osama bin Laden." Except, days after the bin Laden mission, Obama ordered the assassination of U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, even though Awlaki hasn't been charged with -- much less convicted of -- a crime. If this is now acceptable, whom else can the president order killed without judicial review?

-- Why were the Nazis entitled to due process, but accused terrorists aren't? Nazis killed millions of innocents and were convicted at the much-celebrated Nuremberg trials. Yet, many insist bin Laden and other al-Qaida leaders must be executed or detained without a similar trial because a courtroom drama would supposedly generate a circus (this, as if Nuremberg were some low-key affair).

Why the double standard in confronting the Nazis and al-Qaida? Is it because since bravely facing down Hitler, we became a nation of cowards? Are we today so intimidated by the possibility of al-Qaida retribution that we're willing to subvert the ideals enshrined in our Constitution? And if so, isn't that letting the terrorists win?

This is not easy stuff to ponder, especially in a nation that has so radically changed over the last century. Whereas World War II America strove to embody Norman Rockwell's "Four Freedoms" painting of the patriot standing up and asking questions, America circa 2011 is more a country of Howard Stern and "South Park" -- a society that implores fellow countrymen to "shut up, sit down!" and tells inquiring citizens that "if you don't like America, you can get out!"

But regardless of such ubiquitous vitriol, we still need answers -- and not just because the international community wants them, but because Americans have a right to know what "America" is, beyond just the "A" in a drunken "USA!" chant.

Is America a nation "of laws, not of men," as John Adams promised? Or has it become another synonym for lawless tyranny?

Is "America" a place that obligates its leaders to respect the Constitution? Or is America governed by Richard Nixon's notion that "if the president does it, that means that it is not illegal"?

And perhaps the moment's most disturbing query is the simplest of all: Is America a country where self-reflection is valued? Or are we a country where these critical questions are no longer permitted?
(c) 2010 David Sirota is the author of the best-selling books "Hostile Takeover" and "The Uprising." He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado and blogs at E-mail him at David Sirota is a former spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee.

Rise Of The Obamabots
Stifling Liberal Dissent Under Obama
By Ted Rall

After they called the presidency for Obama, emails poured in. “You must be relieved now that the Democrats are taking over,” an old college buddy told me. “There will be less pressure on you.”

That would have been nice.

In the late 1990s my cartoons ran in Time, Fortune and Bloomberg Personal magazines and over 100 daily and alternative weekly newspapers. I was a staff writer for two major magazines.

Then Bush came in. And 9/11 happened.

The media gorged on an orgy of psychotic right-wing rhetoric. Flags everywhere. Torture suddenly OK. In a nation where mainstream political discourse was redefined between Dick Cheney on the right and libertarian Bill Maher on the not-as-right, there wasn’t any room in the paper for a left-of-center cartoonist. My business was savaged. Income plunged.

My editor at Time called me on September 13, 2001. “We’re discontinuing all cartoons,” she told me. I was one of four cartoonists at the newsweekly. “Humor is dead.” I snorted. They never brought back cartoons.

McCarthyism—blackballing—made a big comeback. I had been drawing a monthly comic strip, “The Testosterone Diaries,” for Men’s Health. No politics. It was about guy stuff: dating, job insecurity, prostate tests, that sort of thing. They fired me. Not because of anything I drew for them. It was because of my syndicated editorial cartoons, which attacked Bush and his policies. The publisher worried about pissing off right-wingers during a period of nationalism on steroids.

Desperate and going broke, I called an editor who’d given me lots of work at the magazines he ran during the 1990s. “Sorry, dude, I can’t help,” he replied. “You’re radioactive.”

It was tempting, when Obama’s Democrats swept into office in 2008, to think that the bad old days were coming to an end. I wasn’t looking for any favors, just a swing of the political pendulum back to the Clinton years when it was still OK to be a liberal.

This, you have no doubt correctly guessed, is the part where I tell you I was wrong.

I didn’t count on the cult of personality around Barack Obama.

In the 1990s it was OK to attack Clinton from the left. I went after the Man From Hope and his centrist, “triangulation”-obsessed Democratic Leadership Council for selling out progressive principles. Along with like-minded political cartoonists including Tom Tomorrow and Lloyd Dangle, my cartoons and columns took Clinton’s militant moderates to the woodshed for NAFTA, the WTO and welfare reform. A pal who worked in the White House informed me that the President, known for his short temper, stormed into his office and slammed a copy of that morning’s Washington Post down on the desk with my cartoon showing. “How dare your friend compare me to Bush?” he shouted. (The first Bush.)

It was better than winning a Pulitzer.

It feels a little weird to write this, like I’m telling tales out of school and ratting out the Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy. But it’s true: there’s less room for a leftie during the Age of Obama than there was under Bush.

I didn’t realize how besotted progressives were by Mr. Hopey Changey.

Obama lost me before Inauguration Day, when he announced cabinet appointments that didn’t include a single liberal.

It got worse after that: Obama extended and expanded Bush’s TARP giveaway to the banks; continued Bush’s spying on our phone calls; ignored the foreclosure crisis; refused to investigate, much less prosecute, Bush’s torturers; his healthcare plan was a sellout to Big Pharma; he kept Gitmo open; expanded the war against Afghanistan; dispatched more drone bombers; used weasel words to redefine the troops in Iraq as “non-combat”; extended the Bush tax cuts for the rich; claiming the right to assassinate U.S. citizens; most recently, there was the forced nudity torture of PFC Bradley Manning and expanding oil drilling offshore and on national lands.

I was merciless to Obama. I was cruel in my criticisms of Obama’s sellouts to the right. In my writings and drawings I tried to tell it as it was, or anyway, as I saw it. I thought—still think—that’s my job. I’m a critic, not a suck-up. The Obama Administration doesn’t need journalists or pundits to carry its water. That’s what press secretaries and PR flacks are for.

Does Obama ever do anything right? Not often, but sure. And when he does, I shut up about it. Cartoonists and columnists who promote government policy are an embarrassment.

But that’s what “liberal” media outlets want in the age of Obama.

I can’t prove it in every case. (That’s how blackballing works.) The Nation and Mother Jones and Harper’s, liberal magazines that gave me freelance work under Clinton and Bush, now ignore my queries. Even when I offered them first-person, unembedded war reporting from Afghanistan. Hey, maybe they’re too busy to answer email or voicemail. You never know.

Other censors are brazen.

There’s been a push among political cartoonists to get our work into the big editorial blogs and online magazines that seem poised to displace traditional print political magazines like The Progressive. In the past, editorial rejections had numerous causes: low budgets, lack of space, an editor who simply preferred another creator’s work over yours.

Now there’ s a new cause for refusal: Too tough on the president.

I’ve heard that from enough “liberal” websites and print publications to consider it a significant trend.

A sample of recent rejections, each from editors at different left-of-center media outlets:

“I am familiar with and enjoy your cartoons. However the readers of our site would not be comfortable with your (admittedly on point) criticism of Obama.”

“Don’t be such a hater on O and we could use your stuff. Can’t you focus more on the GOP?”

“Our first African-American president deserves a chance to clean up Bush’s mess without being attacked by us.”

I have many more like that.

What’s weird is that these cultish attitudes come from editors and publishers whose politics line up neatly with mine. They oppose the bailouts. They want us out of Afghanistan and Iraq. They disapprove of Obama’s new war against Libya. They want Obama to renounce torture and Guantánamo.

Obama is the one they ought to be blackballing. He has been a terrible disappointment to the American left. He has forsaken liberals at every turn. Yet they continue to stand by him. Which means that, in effect, they are not liberals at all. They are militant Democrats. They are Obamabots.

As long as Democrats win elections, they are happy. Nevermind that their policies are the same as, or to the right of, the Republicans.

“So what should I think about [the war in Libya]?,” asks Kevin Drum in Mother Jones. “If it had been my call, I wouldn’t have gone into Libya. But the reason I voted for Obama in 2008 is because I trust his judgment. And not in any merely abstract way, either: I mean that if he and I were in a room and disagreed about some issue on which I had any doubt at all, I’d literally trust his judgment over my own. I think he’s smarter than me, better informed, better able to understand the consequences of his actions, and more farsighted.”

Mr. Drum, call your office. Someone found your brain in the break room.

Barack Obama and the Democrats have made it perfectly clear that they don’t care about the issues and concerns that I care about. Unlike Kevin Drum, I think—I know—I’m smarter than Barack Obama. I wouldn’t have made half the mistakes he has.

So I don’t care about Obama. Or the Democrats. I care about America and the world and the people who live in them.

Hey, Obamabots: when the man you support betrays your principles, he has to go—not your principles.
Ted Rall is the author of the new books "Silk Road to Ruin: Is Central Asia the New Middle East,?" and "The Anti-American Manifesto."

A Corporate Lobbyist Runs For President

Oh, happy day – The Newt is in! Move over, Donnie Trump, the contest for Goofiest Guy in the GOP Presidential Primary just got goofier with Newt Gingrich's leap into the fray.

The former House speaker touts himself as a "futurist" and a deep-thinking "transformationalist." Indeed he says he has transformed himself from a serial adulterer into a family man – just in time for the primaries. Newt could be a hoot – except that he's a carefully-constructed fraud. Gingrich is and always was little more than an old-time, business-as-usual corporate hack, and that's what he would be in the White House. Since he left Congress in 1999,the essence of his K-Street business empire (known as "Newt Inc.") is to work the backrooms of the Capitol to get legislative favors for corporations, which reward him richly for his efforts.

In other words, he is a Washington lobbyist. But that's not a great job title for one who now wants to pose as a champion of the average Joe, so Newt heatedly rejects it: "I am not a lobbyists," he barked in a recent letter to the Wall Street Journal.

Really? Let's call the roll of a few of those who've ponied up hundreds of thousands of dollars to have Gingrich work Congress for them: AstraZeneca, Blue Cross, the ethanol industry, Freddie Mac, IBM, Microsoft, and UPS. These and dozens of other corporate powers have praised Gingrich for opening doors and opening the public treasury to benefit them, yet he refuses to register as the paid influence peddler that he is. Instead, he does a delicate little dance around rules that everyone else must obey when lobbying Congress on behalf of paying clients. He is not technically lobbying, he explains, because his legislative effort "benefits the country at large."

Wow – not only is Newt a fraud, he's also a megalomaniac.
(c) 2011 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition.

Finding Economic Solutions
By Helen Thomas

The Republicans have tough solutions to meet the nation's financial crisis. The GOP leaders at first targeted their favorite nemesis - Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps and Social Security. But then reality set in, and they retreated from major hopes of serving those programs at the altar of fiscal reform. Then, too, they may have been influenced by the national election in 2012.

There is also the obvious input of the Tea Partiers who became incensed when the GOP appeared to be backing away from slashing social programs that help the poor and sick. Social Security, dating back to 1935, a product of the Great Depression, and Medicare in the 1960s, and millions depend on these programs especially today. They have been rightfully sacrosanct in society for years. House Speaker John Boehner, took a different stance and is now demanding President Obama cut $2 trillion from the budget for starters.

Boehner said the $2 trillion would take care of the nation's bills for next year. "We are not talking about billions," Boehner told the New York Economic Club last Monday. "We should be talking about trillions if we are serious," he said in addressing our fiscal problems. "Without support regarding cuts and changes," Boehner added, "the way we may spend the American people's money, there will be no debt limit increase." The debt ceiling is currently $14.3 trillion.

The chips are down now on financial reform and the test for both parties is at hand.

My accountant, Frank Ward, who wrote "The Truth About the World," maintains that "as long as the U.S. Treasury retains the right to issue its own currency, the U.S. government will not default on its debt. All the Treasury Department has to do is print more money, but this will create so much inflation that the value of the U.S. Treasury obligations will be greatly devalued." Accordingly, Ward warns that the real and present danger to the American people is that creditors will no longer accept the debased and devalued dollar as payment for goods and services.

We own less, now owe more, and our net worth is much less.

Another danger is that by selling our assets, no new jobs are being created. Unemployment is currently 9 percent - far too high.

Paul Craig Roberts, the father of Reaganomics, said depressingly, "there is no economy left to recover." He referred to what we have lost to off shoring and the "free trade ideology." Recent predictions of faster growth have not been fulfilled.

Even more vividly, John H. Cobb Jr., of the Business and Industry Council, has "criticized ‘free trade' as a false economic dogma that does not work."

All my education, and especially since World War II, has taught me to believe in free trade as a means of reaching out to the rest of the world. That means that U.S. businesses may have to come home, and stop relying on China and other Asian countries to provide us with the necessities of life. As a result of our economic downfall, there are some who believe our national sovereignty has been seriously compromised and we risk possible loss of our independence.

Now the solution, according to some economists, is that we need to reform our monetary and credit system as a public utility, and not as the private property of the world's financial elites. We also need to restore the longtime manufacturing and industrial base of the American economy.

Gerald Celente of the Trends Research Institute, who has a super reputation, predicted the housing meltdown, our current economic crisis, as well as the 1997 Asian financial collapse. Celente is forecasting the devaluation of the U.S. dollar by as much as a shocking 90 percent.

All of which is unfortunately leading to a possible return of this country to the much maligned protective tariffs. Such back tracking would be a debacle, and possibly deny us the leadership role we have always played in the world economy since the industrial revolution.

After the U.S. Constitution was ratified, the first law that Congress passed was the Tariff Act of 1789. Surely there is a better solution to the economic problems besetting the nations.
(c) 2011 Helen Thomas is a columnist for the Falls Church News-Press. Among other books she is the author of Front Row At The White House: My Life and Times.

Electronic Brownshirts’
By Amy Goodman

Judy Ancel, a Kansas City, Mo., professor, and her St. Louis colleague were teaching a labor history class together this spring semester. Little did they know, video recordings of the class were making their way into the thriving sub rosa world of right-wing attack video editing, twisting their words in a way that resulted in the loss of one of the professors’ jobs amidst a wave of intimidation and death threats. Fortunately, reason and solid facts prevailed, and the videos ultimately were exposed for what they were: fraudulent, deceptive, sloppily edited hit pieces.

Right-wing media personality Andrew Breitbart is the forceful advocate of the slew of deceptively edited videos that target and smear progressive individuals and institutions. He promoted the videos that purported to catch employees of the community organization ACORN assisting a couple in setting up a prostitution ring. He showcased the edited video of Shirley Sherrod, an African-American employee of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which completely convoluted her speech, making her appear to admit to discriminating against a white farmer. She was fired as a result of the cooked-up controversy. Similar video attacks have been waged against Planned Parenthood.

Ancel has been the director of the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Institute for Labor Studies since 1988. Using a live video link, she co-teaches a course on the history of the labor movement with professor Don Giljum, who teaches at University of Missouri-St. Louis. The course comprises seven daylong, interactive sessions throughout the semester. They are video-recorded and made available through a password-protected system to students registered in the class. One of those students, Philip Christofanelli, copied the videos, and he admits on one of Breitbart’s sites that he did “give them out in their entirety to a number of my friends.” At some point, a series of highly and very deceptively edited renditions of the classes appeared on Breitbart’s website. It was then that Ancel’s and Giljum’s lives were disrupted, and the death threats started.

A post on Breitbart’s summarized the video: “The professors not only advocate the occasional need for violence and industrial sabotage, they outline specific tactics that can be used.” Ancel told me, “I was just appalled, because I knew it was me speaking, but it wasn’t saying what I had said in class.” She related the attack against her and Giljum to the broader attack on progressive institutions currently:

“These kinds of attacks are the equivalent of electronic brownshirts. They create so much fear, and they are so directed against anything that is progressive—the right to an education, the rights of unions, the rights of working people—I see, are all part of an overall attack to silence the majority of people and create the kind of climate of fear that allows for us to move very, very sharply to the right. And it’s very frightening.”

Ancel’s contact information was included in the attack video, as was Giljum’s. She received a flurry of threatening emails. Giljum received at least two death threats over the phone. The University of Missouri conducted an investigation into the charges prompted by the videos, during which time they posted uniformed and plainclothes police in the classrooms. Giljum is an adjunct professor, with a full-time job working as the business manager for Operating Engineers Local 148, a union in St. Louis. Meanwhile, the union acceded to pressure from the Missouri AFL-CIO, and asked Giljum to resign, just days before his May 1 retirement after working there for 27 years.

Gail Hackett, provost of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, released a statement after the investigation, clearing the two professors of any wrongdoing:

“It is clear that edited videos posted on the Internet depict statements from the instructors in an inaccurate and distorted manner by taking their statements out of context and reordering the sequence in which those statements were actually made so as to change their meaning.”

The University of Missouri-St. Louis also weighed in with similar findings and stated that Giljum was still eligible to teach there.

On April 18, Andrew Breitbart appeared on Sean Hannity’s Fox News program, declaring, “We are going to take on education next, go after the teachers and the union organizers.” It looks as if Ancel and Giljum were the first targets of that attack.

In this case, the attack failed. While ACORN was ultimately vindicated by a congressional investigation, the attack took its toll, and the organization lost its funding and collapsed. President Barack Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack apologized to Shirley Sherrod, and Vilsack begged her to return to work. Sherrod has a book coming out and a lawsuit pending against Breitbart.

Let’s hope this is a sign that deception, intimidation and the influence of the right-wing echo chamber are on the decline.
(c) 2011 Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!," a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 750 stations in North America. She is the co-author of "Standing Up to the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times," recently released in paperback

They Hate Us For Our Freedoms
By Glenn Greenwald

The New York Times reports today:

For the second time in three days, a night raid in eastern Afghanistan by NATO forces resulted in the death of a child, setting off protests on Saturday that turned violent and ended in the death of a second boy. . . .

"American forces did an operation and mistakenly killed a fourth-grade student; he had gone to sleep in his field and had a shotgun next to him," [the district's governor, Abdul Khalid]. said. "People keep shotguns with them for hunting, not for any other purposes," Mr. Khalid said.

The boy, [15], was the son of an Afghan National Army soldier . . . When morning came, an angry crowd gathered in Narra, the boy’s village, and more than 200 people marched with his body to the district center. Some of the men were armed and confronted the police, shouting anti-American slogans . . . The police opened fire in an effort to push back the crowd to stop its advance to the district center. A 14-year-old boy was killed, and at least one other person was wounded, Mr. Khalid said. . . .

On Thursday, a night raid by international forces in Nangahar Province resulted in the death of a 12-year-old girl and her uncle, who was a member of the Afghan National Police.

There's nothing much new to say here, but every now and then, it's worth highlighting not only what we're doing, but what the results are. Just imagine the accumulated hatred from having things like this happen day after day, week after week, year after year, for a full decade now, with no end in sight -- broadcast all over the region. It's literally impossible to convey in words the level of bloodthirsty fury and demands for vengeance that would arise if a foreign army were inside the U.S. killing innocent American children even a handful of times, let alone continuously for a full decade.

It's the perfect self-perpetuating cycle: (1) They hate us and want to attack us because we're over there; therefore, (2) we have to stay and proliferate ourselves because they hate us and want to attack us; (3) our staying and proliferating ourselves makes them hate us and want to attack us more; therefore, (4) we can never leave, because of how much they hate us and want to attack us. The beauty of this War on Terror -- and, as the last two weeks have demonstrated, War is the bipartisan consensus for what we are and should be doing to address Terrorism -- is that it forever sustains its own ostensible cause.

UPDATE: When President Obama explained to the nation (after the fact) why he committed the armed forces to Libya, he declared that the U.S. must not "stand idly by" in the face of violent assaults on unarmed civilians. Today:

Violence erupted on Israel's borders with Syria, Lebanon and Gaza on Sunday, leaving at least eight dead and dozens wounded . . . Israeli troops shot at protesters in three separate locations to prevent crowds from crossing Israeli frontier lines in the deadliest such confrontation in years.

In other words, Israeli troops opened fire on unarmed protesters on three separate borders today (and 0ther reports now suggest higher numbers of people shot). The protesters were reportedly attempting to infiltrate Israeli territory in commemoration of the annual Palestinian protest of Israel, but by all accounts were unarmed, and some were shot at on their side of their border. Will the U.S. stand "idly by" while this happens, or . . . issue a statement in ringing support of Israeli actions? Sadly, there is no plausible third alternative, and that, too, may shed some light on "why they hate us."

UPDATE II: For a succinct exhibit of the actual meaning of Freedom when exploited to justify wars, see here.
(c) 2011 Glenn Greenwald. was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book "How Would a Patriot Act?," a critique of the Bush administration's use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, "A Tragic Legacy," examines the Bush legacy.

Yes, They Lied; Yes, A Million Died; And Yes, They Want It To Go On
By Chris Floyd

Why have a million innocent people been killed in Iraq by the cataclysm unleashed by the Anglo-American invasion and occupation? Here's why:

A top military intelligence official has said the discredited dossier on Iraq's weapons programme was drawn up "to make the case for war", flatly contradicting persistent claims to the contrary by the Blair government, and in particular by Alastair Campbell, the former prime minister's chief spin doctor. In hitherto secret evidence to the Chilcot inquiry, Major General Michael Laurie said: "We knew at the time that the purpose of the dossier was precisely to make a case for war, rather than setting out the available intelligence, and that to make the best out of sparse and inconclusive intelligence the wording was developed with care."

Laurie, who was director general in the Defence Intelligence Staff, responsible for commanding and delivering raw and analysed intelligence, said: "I am writing to comment on the position taken by Alastair Campbell during his evidence to you … when he stated that the purpose of the dossier was not to make a case for war; I and those involved in its production saw it exactly as that, and that was the direction we were given." ...

Laurie said he recalled that the chief of defence intelligence, Air Marshal Sir Joe French, was "frequently inquiring whether we were missing something" and was under pressure. "We could find no evidence of planes, missiles or equipment that related to WMD [weapons of mass destruction], generally concluding that they must have been dismantled, buried or taken abroad. There has probably never been a greater detailed scrutiny of every piece of ground in any country."

... The document is one of a number released by the Chilcot inquiry. They include top secret MI6 reports warning of the damage to British interests and the likelihood of terrorist attacks in the UK if it joined the US-led invasion of Iraq. However, a newly declassified document reveals that Sir Kevin Tebbit, then a top official at the Ministry of Defence, warned the defence secretary, Geoff Hoon, in January 2003 that the US would "feel betrayed by their partner of choice" if Britain did not go along with the invasion.

Despite its concerns, MI6 told ministers before the invasion that toppling Saddam Hussein "remains a prize because it could give new security to oil supplies.

That's why. They caused the deaths of a million innocent people to "give new security to oil supplies" -- and to gain the strategic dominance this "new security" would bring. They knew that all the rest -- WMD, threat of terrorism, etc. -- was absolute bullshit. They knew it from the start. They knew it all along.

And they know it now. That's why the Peace Laureate/Holy Hit Man in the White House has his Pentagon warlord pushing and pushing to keep American troops in Iraq -- forever, if possible. They did it for the oil. They did it for the dominance. And they are doing their damnedest to keep doing it. Anyone who supports and champions the elites who seek to perpetuate this abominable gorging on innocent blood -- including cool, progressive Peace Laureates -- is knowingly making themselves morally complicit in this ongoing atrocity.

Here there is no shuffling. The invasion -- and the occupation (or the "military presence") -- were and are based on arrant lies. Hundreds of thousands of innocent people have been murdered, slaughtered, ripped from life, sent down to darkness because of these lies. If you support those who will not call these crimes by their right name, and seek to extend them -- in whatever form -- then you too are a supporter of murder. If that's what you want to be, fine; but be sure you recognize yourself for what you are.
(c) 2011 Chris Floyd

Eric Schneiderman will probably fail, as did his predecessors in that job;
the honest sheriff doesn’t last long in a town that houses the Wall Street casino.
But decent folks should be cheering him on.

One Lawman With The Guts To Go After Wall Street
By Robert Scheer

The fix was in to let the Wall Street scoundrels off the hook for the enormous damage they caused in creating the Great Recession. All of the leading politicians and officials, federal and state, Republican and Democrat, were on board to complete the job of saving the banks while ignoring their victims ... until last week when the attorney general of New York refused to go along. [Eric Schneiderman will probably fail, as did his predecessors in that job; the honest sheriff doesn’t last long in a town that houses the Wall Street casino. But decent folks should be cheering him on.

Eric Schneiderman will probably fail, as did his predecessors in that job; the honest sheriff doesn’t last long in a town that houses the Wall Street casino. But decent folks should be cheering him on. Despite a mountain of evidence of robo-signed mortgage contracts, deceitful mortgage-based securities and fraudulent foreclosures, the banks were going to be able to cut their potential losses to what was, for them, a minuscule amount.

In a deal that had the blessing of the White House and many federal regulators and state attorneys general—a settlement probably for not much more than the $5 billion pittance the top financial institutions found acceptable—the banks would be freed of any further claims by federal and state officials over their shady mortgage packaging and servicing practices and deceptive foreclosure proceedings.

At the same time, the SEC and other federal regulatory bodies are making sweetheart deals with the bankers to close off accountability for creating and collecting on more than a trillion dollars’ worth of toxic mortgage-based securities at the heart of the nation’s economic meltdown—a meltdown that has seen the national debt grow by more than 50 percent, stuck us with an unyielding 9 percent unemployment and left 50 million Americans losing their homes to foreclosure or clinging desperately to underwater mortgages. On top of which an all-time high of 44 million people are living below the official poverty line and fewer new homes were started in April than at any other time in the past half century. With housing values still in free fall, we continue to make the bankers whole.

As Gretchen Morgenson reported in The New York Times, the Justice Department division responsible for checking for fraud in the bankruptcy system has found a widespread pattern of deception by banks foreclosing homes, and she concluded: “So an authoritative source with access to a lot of data has identified industry practices as not only pernicious but also pervasive. Which makes it all the more mystifying that regulators seem eager to strike a cheap and easy settlement with the banks.”

Not really surprising given both the enormous hold of Wall Street money over the two major political parties and the revolving door through which executives travel between firms like Goldman Sachs and the top positions in the U.S. Treasury Department and elsewhere in the government. The financial crisis occurred only because Republicans and Democrats passed the laws that Wall Street lobbyists wrote ending reasonable banking industry regulation installed in the 1930s in response to the Depression. And when the greed they enabled threatened the foundations of our economy, under Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, it was the bankers who were assisted into lifeboats that had no room for ordinary people.

Not surprising then to find all of the power players in on the latest deals: the Obama administration that had bailed out the banks but not troubled homeowners; the regulators and Fed officials who all looked the other way when the housing bubble was inflated; and the state attorneys general who backed away from going after the perpetrators of robo-signed mortgages and other scams used to foreclose homes.

But now Schneiderman has a chance to derail the deals, given that he is supported by the state’s tough 1921 Martin Act, which one of his predecessors as New York state attorney general, Eliot Spitzer, had used to good advantage in exposing the financial behemoths that are so heavily based in New York. The Wall Street Journal describes the Martin Act as “one of the most potent prosecutorial tools against financial fraud” because, as opposed to federal law, it doesn’t carry the more difficult standard of proving intent to defraud.

Last week, it was revealed that Schneiderman’s office has demanded an accounting from Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs as to the details of their past practice of securitizing those mortgage-based packages that proved so toxic. Maybe he will fail against such powerful forces, as did Spitzer and Andrew Cuomo after him, but it is a test worth watching, since no one else, from the White House on down, seems to be concerned with holding the bailed-out banks accountable for the massive pain and suffering they inflicted on the public.
(c) 2011 Robert Scheer is the editor of Truthdig. A journalist with over 30 years experience, Scheer has built his reputation on the strength of his social and political writing. His columns have appeared in newspapers across the country, and his in-depth interviews have made headlines. He is the author, most recently, of "The Pornography of Power: How Defense Hawks Hijacked 9/11 and Weakened America," published by Twelve Books.

America Held Hostage
By Paul Krugman

Six months ago President Obama faced a hostage situation. Republicans threatened to block an extension of middle-class tax cuts unless Mr. Obama gave in and extended tax cuts for the rich too. And the president essentially folded, giving the G.O.P. everything it wanted.

Now, predictably, the hostage-takers are back: blackmail worked well last December, so why not try it again? This time House Republicans say they will refuse to raise the debt ceiling — a step that could inflict major economic damage — unless Mr. Obama agrees to large spending cuts, even as they rule out any tax increase whatsoever. And the question becomes what, if anything, will get the president to say no.

The debt ceiling itself is a strange feature of U.S. law: since Congress must vote to authorize spending and choose tax rates, why have a second vote on whether to allow the borrowing that these spending and taxation policies imply? In practice, however, legislators have historically been willing to raise the debt ceiling as necessary, so this quirk in our system hasn’t mattered very much — until now.

What has changed? The answer is the radicalization of the Republican Party. Normally, a party controlling neither the White House nor the Senate would acknowledge that it isn’t in a position to impose its agenda on the nation. But the modern G.O.P. doesn’t believe in following normal rules.< P> So what will happen if the ceiling isn’t raised? It has become fashionable on the right to assert that it would be no big deal. On Saturday the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal ridiculed those worried about the consequences of hitting the ceiling as the “Armageddon lobby.”

It’s hard to know whether the “what, us worry?” types believe what they’re saying, or whether they’re just staking out a bargaining position. But in any case, they’re almost surely wrong: seriously bad consequences will follow if the debt ceiling isn’t raised.

For if we hit the debt ceiling, the government will be forced to stop paying roughly a third of its bills, because that’s the share of spending currently financed by borrowing. So will it stop sending out Social Security checks? Will it stop paying doctors and hospitals that treat Medicare patients? Will it stop paying the contractors supplying fuel and munitions to our military? Or will it stop paying interest on the debt?

Don’t say “none of the above.” As I’ve written before, the federal government is basically an insurance company with an army, so I’ve just described all the major components of federal spending. At least one, and probably several, of these components will face payment stoppages if federal borrowing is cut off.

And what would such payment stops do to the economy? Nothing good. Consumer spending would probably crash, as nervous seniors started wondering how to pay for rent and food. Businesses that depend on government purchases would slash payrolls and cancel investments.

Furthermore, markets might well panic, especially if interest payments are missed. And the consequences of undermining faith in U.S. debt might be especially severe because that debt plays a crucial role in many financial transactions.

So hitting the debt ceiling would be a very bad thing. Unfortunately, it may be unavoidable.

Why? Because this is a hostage situation. If the president and his allies operate on the principle that failure to raise the debt ceiling is an unthinkable outcome, to be avoided at all cost, then they have ceded all power to those willing to bring that outcome about. In effect, they will have ripped up the Constitution and given control over America’s government to a party that only controls one house of Congress, but claims to be willing to bring down the economy unless it gets what it wants.

Now, there are good reasons to believe that the G.O.P. isn’t nearly as willing to burn the house down as it claims. Business interests have made it clear that they’re horrified at the prospect of hitting the debt ceiling. Even the virulently anti-Obama U.S. Chamber of Commerce has urged Congress to raise the ceiling “as expeditiously as possible.” And a confrontation over spending would only highlight the fact that Republicans won big last year largely by promising to protect Medicare, then promptly voted to dismantle the program.

But the president can’t call the extortionists’ bluff unless he’s willing to confront them, and accept the associated risks.

According to Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, Mr. Obama has told Democrats not to draw any “line in the sand” in debt negotiations. Well, count me among those who find this strategy completely baffling. At some point — and sooner rather than later — the president has to draw a line. Otherwise, he might as well move out of the White House, and hand the keys over to the Tea Party.
(c) 2011 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

"The man enslaved to wealth can never be honest."
~~~ Democritus

President Obama shakes hands with Princeton University professor Cornel West

The Obama Deception
Why Cornel West Went Ballistic
By Chris Hedges

The moral philosopher Cornel West, if Barack Obama’s ascent to power was a morality play, would be the voice of conscience. Rahm Emanuel, a cynical product of the Chicago political machine, would be Satan. Emanuel in the first scene of the play would dangle power, privilege, fame and money before Obama. West would warn Obama that the quality of a life is defined by its moral commitment, that his legacy will be determined by his willingness to defy the cruel assault by the corporate state and the financial elite against the poor and working men and women, and that justice must never be sacrificed on the altar of power.

Perhaps there was never much of a struggle in Obama’s heart. Perhaps West only provided a moral veneer. Perhaps the dark heart of Emanuel was always the dark heart of Obama. Only Obama knows. But we know how the play ends. West is banished like honest Kent in “King Lear.” Emanuel and immoral mediocrities from Lawrence Summers to Timothy Geithner to Robert Gates—think of Goneril and Regan in the Shakespearean tragedy—take power. We lose. And Obama becomes an obedient servant of the corporate elite in exchange for the hollow trappings of authority.

No one grasps this tragic descent better than West, who did 65 campaign events for Obama, believed in the potential for change and was encouraged by the populist rhetoric of the Obama campaign. He now nurses, like many others who placed their faith in Obama, the anguish of the deceived, manipulated and betrayed. He bitterly describes Obama as “a black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats. And now he has become head of the American killing machine and is proud of it.”

“When you look at a society you look at it through the lens of the least of these, the weak and the vulnerable; you are committed to loving them first, not exclusively, but first, and therefore giving them priority,” says West, the Class of 1943 University Professor of African American Studies and Religion at Princeton University. “And even at this moment, when the empire is in deep decline, the culture is in deep decay, the political system is broken, where nearly everyone is up for sale, you say all I have is the subversive memory of those who came before, personal integrity, trying to live a decent life, and a willingness to live and die for the love of folk who are catching hell. This means civil disobedience, going to jail, supporting progressive forums of social unrest if they in fact awaken the conscience, whatever conscience is left, of the nation. And that’s where I find myself now.”

“I have to take some responsibility,” he admits of his support for Obama as we sit in his book-lined office. “I could have been reading into it more than was there.”

“I was thinking maybe he has at least some progressive populist instincts that could become more manifest after the cautious policies of being a senator and working with [Sen. Joe] Lieberman as his mentor,” he says. “But it became very clear when I looked at the neoliberal economic team. The first announcement of Summers and Geithner I went ballistic. I said, ‘Oh, my God, I have really been misled at a very deep level.’ And the same is true for Dennis Ross and the other neo-imperial elites. I said, ‘I have been thoroughly misled, all this populist language is just a facade. I was under the impression that he might bring in the voices of brother Joseph Stiglitz and brother Paul Krugman. I figured, OK, given the structure of constraints of the capitalist democratic procedure that’s probably the best he could do. But at least he would have some voices concerned about working people, dealing with issues of jobs and downsizing and banks, some semblance of democratic accountability for Wall Street oligarchs and corporate plutocrats who are just running amuck. I was completely wrong.”

West says the betrayal occurred on two levels.

“There is the personal level,” he says. “I used to call my dear brother [Obama] every two weeks. I said a prayer on the phone for him, especially before a debate. And I never got a call back. And when I ran into him in the state Capitol in South Carolina when I was down there campaigning for him he was very kind. The first thing he told me was, ‘Brother West, I feel so bad. I haven’t called you back. You been calling me so much. You been giving me so much love, so much support and what have you.’ And I said, ‘I know you’re busy.’ But then a month and half later I would run into other people on the campaign and he’s calling them all the time. I said, wow, this is kind of strange. He doesn’t have time, even two seconds, to say thank you or I’m glad you’re pulling for me and praying for me, but he’s calling these other people. I said, this is very interesting. And then as it turns out with the inauguration I couldn’t get a ticket with my mother and my brother. I said this is very strange. We drive into the hotel and the guy who picks up my bags from the hotel has a ticket to the inauguration. My mom says, ‘That’s something that this dear brother can get a ticket and you can’t get one, honey, all the work you did for him from Iowa.’ Beginning in Iowa to Ohio. We had to watch the thing in the hotel.”

“What it said to me on a personal level,” he goes on, “was that brother Barack Obama had no sense of gratitude, no sense of loyalty, no sense of even courtesy, [no] sense of decency, just to say thank you. Is this the kind of manipulative, Machiavellian orientation we ought to get used to? That was on a personal level.”

But there was also the betrayal on the political and ideological level.

“It became very clear to me as the announcements were being made,” he says, “that this was going to be a newcomer, in many ways like Bill Clinton, who wanted to reassure the Establishment by bringing in persons they felt comfortable with and that we were really going to get someone who was using intermittent progressive populist language in order to justify a centrist, neoliberalist policy that we see in the opportunism of Bill Clinton. It was very much going to be a kind of black face of the DLC [Democratic Leadership Council].”

Obama and West’s last personal contact took place a year ago at a gathering of the Urban League when, he says, Obama “cussed me out.” Obama, after his address, which promoted his administration’s championing of charter schools, approached West, who was seated in the front row.

“He makes a bee line to me right after the talk, in front of everybody,” West says. “He just lets me have it. He says, ‘You ought to be ashamed of yourself, saying I’m not a progressive. Is that the best you can do? Who do you think you are?’ I smiled. I shook his hand. And a sister hollered in the back, ‘You can’t talk to professor West. That’s Dr. Cornel West. Who do you think you are?’ You can go to jail talking to the president like that. You got to watch yourself. I wanted to slap him on the side of his head.”

“It was so disrespectful,” he went on, “that’s what I didn’t like. I’d already been called, along with all [other] leftists, a “F’ing retard” by Rahm Emanuel because we had critiques of the president.”

Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to the president, has, West said, phoned him to complain about his critiques of Obama. Jarrett was especially perturbed, West says, when he said in an interview last year that he saw a lot of Malcolm X and Ella Baker in Michelle Obama. Jarrett told him his comments were not complimentary to the first lady.

“I said in the world that I live in, in that which authorizes my reality, Ella Baker is a towering figure,” he says, munching Fritos and sipping apple juice at his desk. “If I say there is a lot of Ella Baker in Michelle Obama that’s a compliment. She can take it any way she wants. I can tell her I’m sorry it offended you, but I’m going to speak the truth. She is a Harvard Law graduate, a Princeton graduate, and she deals with child obesity and military families. Why doesn’t she visit a prison? Why not spend some time in the hood? That is where she is, but she can’t do it.”

“I think my dear brother Barack Obama has a certain fear of free black men,” West says. “It’s understandable. As a young brother who grows up in a white context, brilliant African father, he’s always had to fear being a white man with black skin. All he has known culturally is white. He is just as human as I am, but that is his cultural formation. When he meets an independent black brother it is frightening. And that’s true for a white brother. When you get a white brother who meets a free, independent black man they got to be mature to really embrace fully what the brother is saying to them. It’s a tension, given the history. It can be overcome. Obama, coming out of Kansas influence, white, loving grandparents, coming out of Hawaii and Indonesia, when he meets these independent black folk who have a history of slavery, Jim Crow, Jane Crow and so on, he is very apprehensive. He has a certain rootlessness, a deracination. It is understandable.”

“He feels most comfortable with upper middle-class white and Jewish men who consider themselves very smart, very savvy and very effective in getting what they want,” he says. “He’s got two homes. He has got his family and whatever challenges go on there, and this other home. Larry Summers blows his mind because he’s so smart. He’s got Establishment connections. He’s embracing me. It is this smartness, this truncated brilliance, that titillates and stimulates brother Barack and makes him feel at home. That is very sad for me.”

“This was maybe America’s last chance to fight back against the greed of the Wall Street oligarchs and corporate plutocrats, to generate some serious discussion about public interest and common good that sustains any democratic experiment,” West laments. “We are squeezing out all of the democratic juices we have. The escalation of the class war against the poor and the working class is intense. More and more working people are beaten down. They are world-weary. They are into self-medication. They are turning on each other. They are scapegoating the most vulnerable rather than confronting the most powerful. It is a profoundly human response to panic and catastrophe. I thought Barack Obama could have provided some way out. But he lacks backbone.”

“Can you imagine if Barack Obama had taken office and deliberately educated and taught the American people about the nature of the financial catastrophe and what greed was really taking place?” West asks. “If he had told us what kind of mechanisms of accountability needed to be in place, if he had focused on homeowners rather than investment banks for bailouts and engaged in massive job creation he could have nipped in the bud the right-wing populism of the tea party folk. The tea party folk are right when they say the government is corrupt. It is corrupt. Big business and banks have taken over government and corrupted it in deep ways."

“We have got to attempt to tell the truth, and that truth is painful,” he says. “It is a truth that is against the thick lies of the mainstream. In telling that truth we become so maladjusted to the prevailing injustice that the Democratic Party, more and more, is not just milquetoast and spineless, as it was before, but thoroughly complicitous with some of the worst things in the American empire. I don’t think in good conscience I could tell anybody to vote for Obama. If it turns out in the end that we have a crypto-fascist movement and the only thing standing between us and fascism is Barack Obama, then we have to put our foot on the brake. But we’ve got to think seriously of third-party candidates, third formations, third parties. Our last hope is to generate a democratic awakening among our fellow citizens. This means raising our voices, very loud and strong, bearing witness, individually and collectively. Tavis [Smiley] and I have talked about ways of civil disobedience, beginning with ways for both of us to get arrested, to galvanize attention to the plight of those in prisons, in the hoods, in poor white communities. We must never give up. We must never allow hope to be eliminated or suffocated.”
(c) 2011 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. He is the author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. His latest book is, "“Death Of The Liberal Class.”

Cowards And Crack Dealers
The Shame of Regressivism
By David Michael Green

Damn, I’m embarrassed for regressives.

And it’s a good thing I am, too. Somebody’s gotta do it, and it sure as hell ain’t gonna be them.

There are basically two kinds of regressives, and they are both paragons of shameful behavior, though of rather different kinds.

The first type is the trooper. He watches Beck, listens to Limbaugh, and not only takes his cues as to what to think, he also unknowingly receives his marching orders as to what to even think about. Do you imagine, for instance, that tens of millions of fat, white, male, Southern, old farts all of a sudden individually came to the simultaneous conclusion that Obama’s White House has too many czars in it? Yeah, me neither.

These people are all over the place. They’re your neighbor, your uncle, your barber, your nightmare. They are astonishingly lazy and dumb, politically, but it’s important to note that that is absolutely by choice. Because what they really are, at their core, is deathly frightened. So much so that they cling onto the mythologies fed to them, and cannot be moved from belief in those rusty shibboleths, no matter what. If Jesus himself appeared before their eyes and said, “Hey man, knock it off with all this messiah shit, would ya? It was all just an elaborate practical joke which went badly awry, and 2000 year ago at that!”, it still wouldn’t matter. They would say “No, no dude. You are the son of God! We insist!” And, if he persisted in telling him that he wasn’t, they would... well, they’d crucify him.

I can’t tell you how many encounters I’ve had with these regressive shock troops over the years which have brought this home to me. At first I was astonished and puzzled. Entering into discourse with them was like stepping into an evidence-free zone, a place with all the logical integrity of a Dali painting. Upside down. After a while, though, I realized that there must be something deeper going on which causes people to cling so militantly to what is manifestly sheer bullshit.

That something is fear. This is what the Founders and their fellow Enlightenment school travelers (myself included) missed. Only some people some of the time are capable of thoughtful policy decisions based on rational analysis of carefully sifted evidence. Anyone who’s deeply frightened, for whatever reason, doesn’t fall into that category. Religious conservatives love to remind us that there are no atheists in foxholes, and they’re mostly correct. What they don’t get is that this observation doesn’t prove the inevitability of god, but rather the opposite. What it shows is that if you’re scared enough, you’ll believe anything, including that doing deals-with-deities, like “I swear I won’t drink or smoke or use bad words anymore, God, if you’ll just get me out of this tight spot”, would actually work. Exactly how much we really believe in the power of said divinities is reflected in the drunken, cursing and smoking soldiers out on leave the very next night, having survived the firefight.

Well, nobody is shooting at regressives in America right now, but by golly it sure must feel like it to them. You gotta be powerful askeered to act as stupid as these folk do. I’ll give you a recent example of what I’m talking about, which is very much similar to multiple such encounters I’ve had in the past.

This local dude I’ve never met somehow found out about me and my politics and decided he was going to give me a right good education by adding my name to his distribution list for these right-wing email blasts he spews every few days. No doubt you know what I’m talking about – this crap constantly bounces around online – and you’ve probably received many of the same ones from time to time. It’s utterly embarrassing garbage on a good day, and frighteningly dispiriting most of the rest of the time.

He was right, though. It is educational. You can really learn a lot about America by observing this sort of sad foolishness. So I let the email come without objection, until one day I couldn’t take the sheer ignorance of it any longer. The thing that set me over the edge was a quote from some European guy (apparently regressives forgot momentarily that they’re supposed to act all contemptuous of Europeans), which the local yokel sent out to his list, claiming that this was perhaps the most profound thing uttered in the last millennium. And, no, I’m not exaggerating. That’s really what he said. So what was this amazing piece of wisdom? Just a short passage noting that America will probably survive the incalculable devastation of the Obama presidency, but far more troubling is the implication that a great nation would choose this man for its president!

And that was about all I could take. In truth, this was pretty mild – and even quasi-intellectual – compared to most of the stuff you see. And, of course, I even agree that the Obama presidency has been fairly disastrous, albeit precisely because his policies are almost uniformly regressive in nature, a fact which regressives seem to be utterly blinded from seeing because the guy is black and a Democrat and not afraid to not be stupid in public. But I think what set me off about this particular missive was the absolute inanity of it, the complete violation of any sense of historical truth represented in its content, particularly given the presidency before Obama’s, much loved by regressives, which we just got through barely surviving. This is truly Orwellian stuff. This is Winston Smith sitting in the Ministry of Information, rewriting history.

So I sent this guy a note, and I asked him if he could please just give me two or three reasons why Obama was the worst thing to ever happen to the republic. Having gone down this path before, I knew what the very first thing on the list would be (because these troops take their marching orders from above, they are completely predictable), and sure enough, it was what I thought he’d say, that Obama is constantly apologizing for America to other countries. So I asked this guy for one single example of that. And he wrote me back with some vague allusion to an apology for human rights and immigration policy and China. So I said, “Could you please just supply me the quote of Obama making the apology?” And he said he didn’t have it off hand, but I could surely just Google it.

Well, of course, I already had. But I said to him, anyhow, “Let me get this straight. You’re claiming that Obama is the worst thing ever to happen to America. You’re spreading that claim all around to everyone you know, arguing that your indictment represents some profound wisdom and the last-hour warning of a deeply concerned patriot. And the very first item among your bill of particulars is the claim that president apologizes for his country. But when asked for several examples, the best you can come up with is a single one, but you don’t actually know what was said. Do I have that right?”

I should point out here that the actual incident in question involved a low-level bureaucrat who, in discussions with Chinese counterparts, apparently acknowledged that immigration legislation coming out of Arizona does not reflect the highest pinnacles of human rights aspirations. But these words were not an apology. And they were not spoken by Barack Obama, or even his secretary of state (remember her, the 1990s version of regressive fear-driven wrath, who seems to be okay by them now?). Moreover, this was the only ‘example’ given of the what was supposed to be a whole litany of similar transgressions, causing our friend in question to put this item at the very top of his list.

Finally, I can’t help but also note that even if the claim was true, would it necessarily be so wrong to apologize, especially given America’s history in Iran and Guatemala and Cuba and South Africa and Nicaragua and Honduras and El Salvador and Chile, and just about every country in Latin America and a whole bunch more in Africa and Asia and even Europe? I mean, what is the notion here? That we’re perfect? Or is it that we’re simply too bitchen to apologize, even when we do screw up?

Well, by this time, the guy was totally freaking out and telling me that he was going to remove my name from his mailing list and I should just leave him alone. When I asked whether he teaches his children not to apologize when they hurt someone else, he accused me of dragging his kids into a political debate – you know, just like liberals did to Sarah Palin. Even though, of course, I wasn’t doing that at all – I was asking about him, not his kids, and what his moral values are. Finally, I asked him whether he didn’t think that he was effectively committing treason by publically tearing down the American president on the basis of lies.

He wrote me back promising that he would absolutely cease reading my mail anymore. Hmmm. Wonder why?

It would be lovely if that was just one guy out there, frightened of his own shadow, willing to suspend disbelief entirely to assuage those fears, and disposed to the destruction of America out of personal cowardice. Alas, this is, instead, an entire radio audience. This is an entire political party. This is a very large chunk of the third most populous country in the world.

But as ugly as the radio and television audience is, it’s the folks on the other side of the microphone who are truly evil. These are the Rush Limbaughs and Newt Gingriches and Sarah Palins of this country who have recognized that there is some serious adoration and power (oh, and did I mention the money?) in catering to a nation’s insecurities. Can we just be honest about this? These folks are nothing but political crack dealers. They are absolutely capable of saying anything – or of failing to say anything – in order to peddle their sick wares.

This last week has been an absolute case in point. I have searched – in vain, shockingly enough – to find any regressive pundit who had anything seriously positive to say about the president’s obliteration of Osama bin Laden.

In a sane world, that quest would not be such a quixotic-to-the-point-of-being-absurd proposition. I mean, after all, aren’t the folks on the right the ones who have been banging the terrorism drum for a decade now? Aren’t they the folks who adore military solutions to American foreign policy problems? Haven’t they been using 9/11 to justify every imaginable policy, including even tax cuts? Aren’t these exactly the folks among all of us who should be most gaga that Osama now swims with the fishies in the Indian Ocean?

Yes, yes, yes and yes. In a sane world, that is. In our world, on the other hand, this event was a disaster for such folks, who don’t actually give a damn about national security anyhow, but have made whole careers out of pretending otherwise.

Like I said, I’m embarrassed for these people. Check out a sampling of their commentary regarding what was one of the biggest national security developments – on their terms, especially – in contemporary American history:

In “Obama Administration Takes Victory Lap In Clown Car”, Jim Treacher belittles Obama for screwing up his signal achievement. Included among the president’s crimes are the fact that his speech “was originally announced for 10:30 but didn’t happen until 11:30. By that time, the news Obama was supposed to be breaking had broken already. Not the best start”. Wow. There’s an epic screw-up, eh? Trying to get the words of the speech right, the president came out an hour later for the press conference than the time he had just got done surprise-announcing. Such a blunder, that. Imagine how irate Treacher would have been if Obama had, say, declared an American war had ended in “mission accomplished” victory before it had even begun?

Or take Andrew Bolt (please), who writes in “Obama’s Victory Turns Into Farce” that farce is just exactly what happened, “thanks to all the President's familiar traits of ineptitude, regal disdain and fuzzy Leftism”. Ineptitude? Wait, wasn’t Obama announcing that he had taken out Osama bin Laden, Public Enemy Number One? I think Bolt refers to Obama’s decision not to show the world gory photos of bin Laden shot through the head, given that such images might incite violence against Americans. If anyone reading this can discern the fuzzy leftism in that decision, please do let the rest of us know, especially now that about 80 people have already been murdered in Pakistan in reprisals for the attack, less than a week later. But be sure not to mention it to that commie subversive George W. Bush, however, who wouldn’t let photographs be taken of caskets arriving to Dover Air Force Base anymore, after decades of that journalistic tradition.

Thoughtful Sarah Palin also joined that chorus. She tweeted (appropriately enough) that Obama must release the pics, else he’s a girly-man: “No pussy-footing around, no politicking, no drama. It’s part of the mission.” Um, wait, do I have this right? Sarah Palin criticizing Barack Obama for too much theatricality? Oh lord, there actually is a parallel universe on the other side of the looking glass!

This photo conspiracy is one of the great tropes now emerging, to the point where the Baltimore Sun could run a piece entitled, “Do they really expect us to believe bin Laden is dead?” Here, the author opines, “Does anyone believe Osama bin Laden is dead? He supposedly died in 2007, we've heard nothing since, then all of a sudden he's dead again. This would not be the first time the government misrepresented the facts. Are we suppose [sic] to believe a president who wouldn't even make public his birth certificate [sick]? I think it's an Obama ploy to make himself look good for re-election. After all, how does a vastly inexperienced, non-military president eradicate bin Laden when previous, experienced presidents couldn't [sicker]? I want to see bin Laden's body, but we can't. A day after his demise he was disposed of at sea. Why do you think that is? Maybe he was really already dead and someone had to be disposed of to make it seem that bin Laden was killed when he wasn't. Why wouldn't our government want us to see bin Laden's body, unless it wasn't his? Sooner or later the government will figure out that we aren't as gullible or as stupid as it thinks.” No, as a matter of fact, it turns out that some of us are vastly more stupid than any government could have imagined...

Then there’s Good old John Bolton, who criticizes Obama for burying bin Laden at sea. And you know what a great contribution Mr. Bolton has made to American diplomacy over the years. In any case, his criticism is the equivalent of lambasting Babe Ruth for not hitting that 715th home run. Worse, it comes from a guy who sat on the bench in Little League.

Or take the great pundit-warrior, Victor Davis Hanson, who’s really upset about Obama referring to the actions he took as president, labeling his administration “The First-Person Presidency”, and pretending to be unaware that the insecure Lil’ Bush did this far more than Obama does. Like, for example, “Good afternoon. On my orders, the United States military has begun strikes against Al Qaeda terrorist training camps and military installations of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. ... More than two weeks ago, I gave Taliban leaders a series of clear and specific demands.” Or, “On my orders, coalition forces have begun striking selected targets of military importance to undermine Saddam Hussein's ability to wage war. These are opening stages of what will be a broad and concerted campaign.” Yo, Vic! Hello?! Is your memory really that bad, or is it just, er, that convenient?

Or how about Peggy Noonan, who wrote speeches for Ronald Reagan and hasn’t had the good sense for thirty years now to deny it? She just penned a piece in which she fell all over herself praising the military for taking out Osama, but couldn’t quite muster the words for the president. Perhaps if he had tucked tail and run from Lebanon, or maybe traded missiles to the Iranian mullahs in exchange for hostages, she would be far more effusive. Who knows?

Not to be outdone, in his latest column George F. Will miraculously managed to turn the whole affair into a call for considering whether NATO should be disbanded. No, I’m not kidding. Bet you didn’t see that one coming, did you?

The only bit of truth (and I emphasize the word ‘bit’) I saw from the right anywhere was Ross Douthat’s remark that “For those with eyes to see, the daylight between the foreign policies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama has been shrinking ever since the current president took the oath of office. But last week made it official: When the story of America’s post-9/11 wars is written, historians will be obliged to assess the two administrations together, and pass judgment on the Bush-Obama era.”

Regrettably, this is precisely correct. Barack Obama is Bush/Cheney. I was stunned to see a regressive say that about a president they’ve spent two-plus years trying to turn into some sort of Neville-Chamberlain-in-drag-doing-bong-hits-wearing-tie-dye-and-campaigning-for-George-McGovern. I thought, “Damn!”, this could get interesting. It didn’t. Instead of knocking around his fellow travelers for being so willfully stupid about politics Obama style, Douthat instead starting taking whacks at Democrats, in the most condescending manner imaginable, for the same thing – that is for excusing what Obama does simply because he has a D after his name. Douthat happens to be right about that (though there are plenty of real progressives who have been scathingly consistent about both presidents’ ugly policies), but the far greater crime is that of the loons on the right. Because, after all, Bush was an order of magnitude worse, simply by invading Iraq (which Obama would not have done), an episode which Douthat seems to have entirely forgotten. In any case, in an act of true weirdness, he then goes on in his piece to rant about the perils of the imperial presidency. As if he was some sort of Neville Chamberlain-in-drag...

In sum, nobody on the right, as far as I could see, had any praise for the president, despite the fact that – whatever one thinks of the deed itself – Obama took a large risk, and he pulled off without a hitch the foreign policy coup of a generation. I mean, really. Yes, it does get bigger than this. But not often.

Ya wanna know why they can’t acknowledge this achievement?

‘Cause here’s what they were really thinking:


“Damn, damn, damn, damn, damn!”


“Man, this makes us look stupid. This reminds people that our guy couldn’t do the job in eight years’ time. Some might even remember how he said that he ‘didn’t even think about bin Laden anymore’. This completely blows our whole ‘we’re tough, they’re weak’ line we’ve been using since Truman. This jacks O’Whatshisname up in the polls, while we look like idiots, running around talking about birth certificates.


“This is all about something way more important than national security.”

“This is about job security.”

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

The Dead Letter Office...

Heil Obama,

Dear Gerechtigkeit David,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, your overturning of the 4th Amendment, Pakistan and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Rethuglican Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

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

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

No Room For Reaganites
Today's GOP Proves Too Mean for the 'Huckabeast'
By John Nichols

Mike Huckabee is a conservative. In fact, he's the most genuinely appealing conservative -- the best communicator, the warmest personality -- in the upper echelons of the Republican Party.

It is easy to see why those who have not followed the decay of the conservative wing of the Grand Old Party wanted Huckabee to take up the banner of Barry Goldwater-John Ashbrook-Ronald Reagan conservatism and carry it into a new presidential race.

But Huckabee well recognizes that the idealism of old has given way to a crude win-at-any-cost calculation that makes little attempt to promote conservative ideals -- focusing instead on fear, smear and attack to keep the party viable.

That's an ugly calculus. And Huckabee has never embraced it. Indeed, in 2008, he frequently counseled fellow Republicans that it would be a "fatal mistake" to try and stir up opposition to Barack Obama based on his race. "When people are really hurting - and they are right now - they're not looking at a person's race," Huckabee explained.

And he was right.

This is the real explanation of why Huckabee won’t be running in 2012.

The former governor -- who I have interviewed numerous times over the years and who I have always regarded as a rare maverick on a generally predictable political scene -- was the most genuinely Reagan-esque of the potential contenders for the party’s nomination to challenge President Obama.

Unfortunately for Huckabee, his party and his country, today’s GOP no longer approves of or even makes much attempt to emulate the conservatism that Goldwater, Reagan and their kind brought into the American political mainstream.

This was a problem for Huckabee. While he polled well with grassroots Republicans, who approved of his homey, upbeat, outside-the-beltway and slightly off-message approach, he was never a favorite of the money men or the DC-based strategists who run the show via faked up groups such as Americans for Prosperity and Crossroads GPS.

Why? To a far greater extent than most contemporary Republicans, the former governor of Arkansas has remained a true believer in the values (and the stylistic approach) of the optimistic “new right” of the 1960s and 1970s – a right that marched into the middle of the Grand Old Party, shoved aside the liberal “Rockefeller Republicans” and the Middle-American pragmatists and cleared the way for Reagan’s nomination and election to the presidency in 1980.

But, because Huckabee is a true son of the oddly upbeat movement that was characterized as “the new right,” he recognized that his way to the 2012 GOP nomination was anything but clear.

There is no question that Huckabee is a hero of the religious right; he's a favorite on the Christian school fund-raising circuit where he raises millions for private education.

Those connections would have seen him throughthe Iowa caucuses and some key primaries in mid-south states where evangelicals are the base of the GOP. But he would have faced a brutal battering on the campaign trail. Why? Despite the best efforts of liberal pundits to portray the Arkansan as some sort of drooling “Huckabeast," he has always been, like Goldwater and Reagan before him, a believer in forging a popular -- even populist -- conservative vision that appealed to a majority of Americans.

As such, Huckabee regularly refused to go along with the more ideologically-extreme and flat-out crooked proposals that the American Legislative Exchange Council and other corporate-front groups have tried to impose on the states. Even Democrats who disagreed with him acknowledged that, as governor, Huckabee showed a degree of genuine concern for low-income kids, rural schools and communities of color. ABC News has noted that Huckabee's"record as pro-government governor" would not sit well with the party establishment, and there is some truth to the observation.

When he ran for the Republican nomination in 2008, Huckabee actually reached out to working people and their unions – expressing a measure of opposition to free-trade deals and tax breaks for multinational corporations that outsource jobs. That won him a Republican-primary endorsement from the Machinists union and some friendly words from labor leaders.

Huckabee also questioned whether the United States had gotten into too many wars without considering exit strategies. No, he was not a Ron Paul-style anti-warrior. But Huckabee sounded like a lot of Main Street Republicans (and Democrats) who ask whether the neoconservatives really have all the answers.

That slim but real independent streak earned Huckabee some of the hardest hits of his political career in 2008. Corporate-funded attack groups and his fellow Republican contenders attacked him with everything they had in their arsenals. They made it clear that Huckabee was not crazy enough, not extreme enough, not mean enough to lead a party that was (and is) running on a toxic blend of smear and vitriol.

Huckabee knew that he would be hit even harder this year, as more extreme and unforgiving ideological purists – and their corporate benefactors – have hijacked the party of optimistic conservatism. This GOP would not nominate a Goldwater or Reagan – both of whom had records of supporting abortion rights and gay rights, and neither of whom was willing to demonize all Democrats in the way that, say, a Sarah Palin or a Michele Bachmann does.

Huckabee’s not really a hater.

And he knows his party is looking for mean this year.
(c) 2011 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. He is a contributing writer for The Progressive and In These Times and the associate editor of the Capital Times, the daily newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and dozens of other newspapers.

Leaving The Church of Free Market Miracles
Where does one find succor and seeds of renewal in times such as these?
By Phil Rockstroh

"Everything that everyone is afraid of has already happened: The fragility of capitalism, which we don't want to admit; the loss of the empire of the United States; and American exceptionalism. In fact, American exceptionalism is that we are exceptionally backward in about fifteen different categories, from education to infrastructure. But we're in a stage of denial: we want to re-establish things as they used to be, to put the country back where it was." ~~~ James Hillman

Most of the men I grew up with in Alabama and Georgia deny the veracity of climate change. They are unwilling to make the connection between their ownership (actually the bank's) of SUVs and oversized pickup trucks and the super storms and massive floods that, now with alarming regularity, ravish the region.

Because their besieged sense of self is intermeshed with their motor vehicles, they hold fast to these symbols of the fading world they know. In their imaginings, these gruesome, noxious (and obnoxious) machines represent power and mobility -- exactly the aspects of their lives that have been diminished by the demands and degradations of oligarchic capitalism.

By their self-imprisonment in these sorts of compensatory fantasies, they choose to risk their children's future, rather than, as one victim of his own curdling testosterone expressed to me recently on FaceBook, "[give up his over-sized pick-up] and drive a 4-wheel vagina, algore-mobile."

A deep-rooted, malignant anger regarding their diminished sense of manhood seethes at the core of pronouncements such as that, and the following, shared on my FaceBook scroll, this past Earth Day: "Happy Earhart day!!! How did you celebrate? I clubbed an adorable baby harp seal, dumped a barrel of waste oil down the storm drain, and started a giant tire fire!!! Good times…."

The sentiment expressed above is an imprecatory prayer, borne of uneasy submission i.e., the callow voice of deep denial, a manifestation of a culturally re-enforced, self-protective cynicism -- a reflexive negation of novel ideas that masks a besieged psyche; it is the nihilistic rage appropriated by the powerless serving as a bulwark against the anxiety created by shifting circumstances and buffeted verities.

In the U.S., life keeps changing for the working class -- and not for the better. Hence, an inner voice of doubt and despair falsely informs these men that the agents and effects of change will be of no help to them personally…that no one (especially smug, know-it-all liberals) can be of service to you, and, worse, what little you have amassed will be lost.

It is a common (unspoken) fear of the men I grew up around down south that if they were to let go of what little they clutch, nothing would arrive to replace what would be lost. There will be no place reserved for them and their families in the new situations and novel arrangements that (by their addled take on the situation) elitist environmentalist snobs contrive to force upon them.

Moreover, in the corporate state, the loss of community, in combination with the commercially-rendered sameness of the environment and the all-encompassing, manic insistency of mass media -- both of which are so devoid of depth, context and meaning -- it has become increasingly difficult for an individual to gain then retain the sense of self necessary to know where one exists in relationship to time, place, and changing social and political circumstance.

How is it possible to move in the direction of propitious change when the demands and distractions of the corporate/consumer state have negated one's ability to remain still and focus long enough to even grasp the nature of the problem?

The relentless exploitation of both earthscape and timescape has had a catastrophic effect upon the inner realms of thoughts, dreams, and imaginings of the citizen/consumers of the neo-liberal economic superstate.

Loss of place and an attendant crisis of identity are inextricably bound to the angst and anomie so evident in the present neo-liberal epoch: Being bereft of connection to land, sky, sea, and polis creates a profound sense of unease.

In contrast, a powerful sense of presence rises from within when standing before oceans, rivers, mountains, and even amid streams of human currents traversing the streets and boulevards of great cities. Conversely, where are we, in relationship to the truths of our being, when we are waiting for an order of processed, fast food in a line of automobiles idling at a drive-thru window or we are engaged in hollow communion with the sundry, glowing screens of information age appliances?

One's sense of self and one's beliefs, as well as, the mythos and traditions of a people are inextricably bound with place, landscape, and social situation. When I was a child, growing up in Alabama and Georgia, on occasions such as backcountry fishing expeditions, I would, at times, come in contact with rural African American farmers who still lived by the agrarian rhythms of the nineteenth century.

Occasionally, taking refuge from the afternoon heat of high summer, we would lounge on wooden porches and snap green beans, and I would listen as they quoted scripture.

The Jesus of their belief system was born of humble beginnings (a mere seed) and grew beneath the hot sun, but, at the height of maturity, was cut down, sacrificed so they may live, then, like their life-sustaining crops, was resurrected as next year's seed crop. Suffused with a metaphoric analog of the criteria they lived day to day, these tales held resonance for these rural, farming people; the metaphors resounded with the verities of place and circumstance. The figure of Christ was as real to them as the snap beans beneath their fingertips.

Now, in an era in which the destination of most all of our objects and accoutrement is the landfill, Deep South mega-churches espouse a cosmology that resonates from a junk food paradigm: a Gospel of The Drive Thru Jesus…when The Rapture comes our corporeal bodies will be cast aside like fast food wrappers.

All in all, for both Christians and for secular-minded, market economy true believers, a belief in economic providence has proven our undoing -- an insistence on its miraculous influence left us mistaking ad-hoc, bubble-borne affluence for a soul-vivifying portion of divine grace. The corporate/consumer state's trickster gods of fast buck commerce offer drive-thru-window epiphanies. Members of the congregation of the Church of Free Market miracles believe their prayers will always be answered: Instantly, the consumer state's homilies of perpetual gratification arrive -- their voices crackling like a burning bush from drive-thru order-boxes.

Yet the redeemer gods of product placement cannot provide our dying culture with a longer shelf life. Belief in the deities of empyreal marketplace might provisionally banish doubt and diffidence -- yet this mythos cannot shelter us from the anonymous fury of the exponential mathematics of global systems shifted into entropic runaway.

Although every generation inherits a howling wasteland and dwells in structures constructed of the bleached bone legacy of past generations -- you'd have to go back to Late Cretaceous to find a generation that stands at the threshold of a mass die-off as we human beings do at present.

The Greek tragedians would have grasped the manic and destructive nature of late capitalism…how an obsessively heroic quest for victory carries the seeds of one's undoing; ergo, by an over-reliance on his strengths and virtues the classical hero brought on his own demise -- because the habit of heroic action rendered him closed off to novel awareness.

Victory is a closed system; in contrast, defeat opens one to the possibility of new adaptations.

You win a while, and then it’s done –
Your little winning streak.
And summoned now to deal
With your invincible defeat,
A Thousand Kisses Deep ~~~ Leonard Cohen

In the case of Greek tragedy, the hero (even the collective mindset of a people) cannot, in the long run, thrive evincing victory-engendered hubris. He will wend towards tragedy; he, with each successive triumph, will become so self-encapsulated with self-regard that only trauma will reopen his heart to the intimacies availed by earth and eternity

Jason will ignore all council and bring his trophy of war, Medea, back to Corinth, setting events in motion that will cause him to lose everything he loves. He will die alone, in demented revelry, crushed beneath the rotting stern of the Argo, the ship that bore him to glory. You lose your grip, and then you slip
Into the Masterpiece.
A Thousand Kisses Deep ~~~ Leonard Cohen

Apropos, facing tragedy, to paraphrase Camus, is the opposite of naivety. Yet we go on, even though we think we cannot, when we bear the knowledge of the ultimate futility of our aspirations. Although struggling against overwhelming power and collective delusion seems futile, such endeavors thwart one's drive for perfection: When we seek paradise, we find paradox. Over the long term, the manner we receive, respond, and are changed by these exchanges with the world is called (our) character.

In the sorrow of defeat, one gains the possibility of identification with the oppressed people of the earth. Loss brings an intermingling with the inherent beauty of the neglected things of the world.

It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) a disaster. ~~~ Elizabeth Bishop

In my better (too rare) moments, I take Walt Whitman's approach: I believe an individual should endeavor to connect, mingle, even merge one’s broken heart with the various and varied things of the world…polis, people, and landscape.

There are many things, although vile and ugly, I remain on speaking terms with, extant and within me. Although, our cities are decayed, people troubled and landscapes degraded, I don't avoid those places and situations -- because this is the criteria with which I was given to work, by time and circumstance.

Even, at present, towards empire's end, when we find ourselves bearing much grief, we are stranded amid ferocious beauty.

Where does one find succor and seeds of renewal in times such as these?

It might prove helpful to glance back at what has been dubbed the “do-it-yourself-art" practiced by the pioneers of Punk Rock.

Bored blind by tedious, onanistic guitar solos of the arena rock era, they approached their instruments with a minimalistic aesthetic. In other words, many burned with such fervor to seize back rock and roll from the stultifying, velvet rope elitism of the period that they had neither the time nor inclination to master more than three cords on their instruments -- which they played very fast -- and did for scant financial compensation, and even less acclaim, in shot-out clubs in decayed downtown locations such as Manhattan's Bowery district, thus reintroducing the dirty, lowdown exuberance and subversive intimacy of early rock and roll, plus establishing the enduring principle that being an imbecilic, rock and roll egoist should be a democratic process — not exclusively limited to guitar technocrats or even those individuals possessed of the tyranny of talent.

Accordingly, we can cultivate gardens (individual and communal) appropriating the ash of yesterday's excesses and the mulch of victories long past; we can plant heirloom seeds, both terrestrial and mnemonic. Thus beginning to allow our lives to become imbrued with the purpose and meaning that arrives when one's labors are directed at making the world anew. While one cannot know the future, one can begin to move away from a reliance upon a dysfunctional present.
(c) 2011 Phil Rockstroh, is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City. Visit Phil's website, and at FaceBook.

The Cartoon Corner...

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

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Der Sperminator

Schwarzenegger: ‘I Am The Sperminator’
Former California Governor in Emotional Confession
By Andy Borowitz

LOS ANGELES (The Borowitz Report) – Amid rumors that he fathered a child with a member of his household staff ten years ago, former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger made an emotional confession at a hastily called press conference today.

“I am the Sperminator,” Mr. Schwarzenegger told the room of stunned reporters.

The former governor and film star said that he knew the child in question was his “after no one could understand a damn thing it was saying.”

He said that when he first learned he had fathered the child, he considered a variety of options to remedy the situation, including traveling back in time ten years and using a condom.

According to Mr. Schwarzenegger, today’s shocking revelation could end his political career, but he added, the plus side, I am now qualified to run the IMF.”

Shortly before the conclusion of his press conference, there was an awkward moment for the former Governor when his “Hard Out Here for a Pimp” ringtone went off.
(c) 2011 Andy Borowitz

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Issues & Alibis Vol 11 # 20 (c) 05/20/2011

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