Issues & Alibis

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In This Edition

Sam Harris demands, "Vatican Justice."

Uri Avnery stares into, "A Black Hole."

David Sirota points out, "The Predictable And Inevitable Blowback."

Joel S. Hirschhorn says to flex your, "Economic Power."

Jim Hightower with an amazing discovery, "Some Senate Democrats Stiffen Their Spines."

Robert Dreyfuss reports, "Obama Tries To Strongarm Karzai."

James Donahue wants you too, "Consider An Embargo On World Imports."

Randall Amster borrows a little Shakespeare, "Homelessness By Any Other Name."

Chris Floyd explores the, "Creeping Terror."

Case Wagenvoord concludes, "A State Does Not A Nation Make."

Mike Folkerth discovers Slick Willie's calling for, "More Immigration, More Taxation!"

Chris Hedges considers, "BP And The 'Little Eichmanns.'"

David Michael Green explains, "Fear Comes Of Age."

Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Cass R. Sunstein wins the coveted "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Greg Palast remembers, "Emperor Hickel: The Man Who Invented Alaska ... And Sarah Palin."

Ira Chernus wonders, "How Many US Progressives Please The Right-Wing Israel Lobby?"

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Monty Python's Terry Jones on, "How To Avoid Another Hung Parliament" but first Uncle Ernie sez Obama goes, "Way Beyond Bush."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Scott Stantis, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Derf City, Andy Bunday, Jeff Darcy, Constructive Anarchy.Com, Mario Piperni.Com, James MacAlpine PIF, Greg Palast, Mike Thompson, Vanity Fair, N.Y. Times 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."

Way Beyond Bush
By Ernest Stewart

"Suspected Terrorists Shouldn't Be Informed of Their Miranda Rights." ~~~ President Barack Obama.

"In light of astonishing economic and technological changes, we must doubt whether, as interpreted, the constitutional guarantee of free speech is adequately serving democratic goals. It is past time for a large scale reassessment of the appropriate role of the First Amendment in the democratic process." ~~~ Cass R. Sunstein, Democracy and the Problem of Free Speech, The Free Press, 1995. p.xi

Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends,
Mmm, gonna try with a little help from my friends
Ooh, I get high with a little help from my friends
Yes I get by with a little help from my friends,
with a little help from my friends
With a little help from my friends ~~~ The Beatles

The "Terrorist Expatriation Act" was introduced this month by Senators Joseph Lieberman (F-CT) and Scott Brown (R-MA), (Thanks Massachusetts for electing this goon!), along with Con-gressmen Jason Altmire (D-PA) and Charlie Dent (R-PA.)(A nest of traitors in Pennsylvania, eh?) Americans accused of being involved with terrorist organizations, even if they have never been convicted of a crime, could have their citizenship revoked under this bipartisan bill that has been introduced in Congress, a bill that is eagerly awaited by the White House for Barry's signature.

This bill directs the State Department, at its own discretion or by prodding from Barry, to determine if someone is involved with or working with a terrorist organization as identified in the State Department's list of designated "terrorist groups." The funny thing is the biggest terrorist groups in the world are totally missing from the list. Isn't it strange that the Demoncratic and Rethuglican parties aren't mentioned anywhere on the list? Funny because as they are, without a doubt, the biggest terrorist groups on the planet. Nor is there any mention of the governments of England and Israel, which follow close behind the United States as terrorist states. Must have been an oversight, huh?

Those accused would still have the right to contest the designation, but in an administrative hearing not a court of law and hence would have few, if any, of the real rights they would normally have. For example, there will be no demand for proof beyond a reasonable doubt, just we say so, therefore, it must be true! If you lose, you would be stripped of your citizenship, even if you have not been convicted of any crime or had any proof brought against you. Once stripped of citizenship, the suspects could be locked in military prisons indefinitely, or face military tribunals, a.k.a. Kangaroo Courts, where they have few or no legal protections.

Stephen I. Vladeck, a professor of law at American University, told the Boston Globe that this bill harkens back to the darkest periods of U.S. history:

In 1952, at the height of the McCarthy era, Congress revamped the statute and added new provisions aimed at communists, allowing the removal of citizenship for anyone guilty of treason or advocating the nation's violent overthrow...

"The bill is so broad that it would allow the government to strip citizenship from someone who never committed a hostile act against the United States,'' said Vladeck. He also stated providing material support to terrorists could be interpreted as broadly as preparing Hamas or Hezbollah to advocate before the United Nations.

What's wrong with this, I here you cry? Well, for a start it is in direct violation of the US Constitution and The Bill Of Rights! Specifically it's in violation of Article 4, sections 2 & 3 of the US Constitution, as well as the 5th, 6th, 13th, and 14th Amendments to the US Constitution. Ergo, if you're against the brutal, mass murder of the citizens of Palestine by the Zionazis like I am, then you could soon find yourself hooded and sent off to the Bagram Concentration Camp, er..Happy Camp, er..Bagram Theater Internment Facility (don't you just love our euphemisms?) to be tortured to death for apposing Israel's war crimes! This bill marks the end of free speech. Wouldn't it be funny if Lieberman was the first American persecuted under the bill as old "Tail-gunner Joe" has been an Israeli 5th columnist for years and Israel is truly a terrorist group!

So not only are Lieberman, Brown, Altmire and Dent evil men but also traitors to the Constitution because of the oath they swore. You know the one:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.

And all who vote for this bill be traitors, as well.

In Other News

I'm pretty sure when folks voted for the "Change" that Obama kept going on about it wasn't the change that White House information Tsar Cass Sunstein has in mind. You may recall the ever insane Cass, a Harvard Professor and Obama fellow traveler, first proposed in a white paper the banning of conspiracy theories and demanded that "websites be mandated by law to link to opposing information" or that "pop ups containing government propaganda be forcibly included on political blogs!

So why am I not surprised that Cass is the author of "Democracy and the Problem of Free Speech"? I wonder!

Now Sunstein is demanding that conservative websites should provide links to liberal websites and vice versa and that political blogs should be made to include pop ups that show "a quick argument for a competing view." Like all the fascist controlled media needs a helping hand to spread their lies!

Sunstein continued that if this system couldn't be implemented voluntarily, "Congress should hold hearings about mandates," which would legally force people to dilute their own free speech. The Harvard Professor also said that "blogs should be forced to list a random draw of 25 popular websites, such as The best would be for this to be done voluntarily," said Sunstein, "But the word voluntary is a little complicated and people sometimes don't do what's best for our society," he added. Thank Zeus that Cass knows best, huh? "The idea would be to have a legal mandate as the last resort, an ultimate weapon designed to encourage people to do better," Sunstein concluded.

In his 2008 white paper, "Conspiracy Theories," the Harvard Professor who is currently President Obama's head of information technology in the White House called for "conspiracy theories," that is any political opinion which didn't concur with the official view, be taxed or even banned outright. To eliminate these "Dangerous Ideas" Sunstein suggested that the government could, "ban conspiracy theorizing," or "impose some kind of tax, financial or otherwise, on those who disseminate such theories." I'm guessing that this wouldn't apply to government propaganda theories?

This obvious attack on the First Amendment represents another assault on free speech, especially when coupled with Kagan's recent rhetoric! During the Citizens United vs. FEC case, Kagan's argued that "the government can ban books and political pamphlets." Kagan is on record arguing that the government could "disappear any free speech it deemed to be offensive." So how is this "Change" thingie working out for you, Mr. and Ms. America? Even King George II, the wonder chimp, didn't dare to go this far. Just as I predicted before the Iraq invasion that the Iraqi's would soon beg to have Saddam back in power, there may come a day, America, when we look fondly back at the Crime Family Bush's reign as those good old daze!

And Finally

We'd like to thank Richard from New Hyde Park, N.Y. for his kind donation and for saying that we deserved it more than the ACLU. If all of you would send in a similar donation we wouldn't have to worry if we'll still be publishing in another few weeks. If only one percent of our readership made a similar donation we could afford to publish this year and buy a few bags of groceries as well! Imagine that. With all of us here unemployed, we will not be able to pay the bills coming due in July, August and September so when they come due we'll have to put this down and that will be that.

Personally, I'd rather keep doing this for nothing than to put on a uniform and say, "Welcome To Wal-Mart" or "Would you like fries with that, ma'am?" Not a lot of jobs around here for degrees in poli-sci and history! C'est la guerre!

Also, I finally got a reply from the FDA from my article on walnuts being considered drugs. Yes, you heard me correctly. I sent them a query along with the article I wrote asking for an explanation. Here's their reply:

Dear Ernest Stewart,

Thank you for your message to the Division of Drug Information at the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER), within the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The warning letter that you referred was issued by our Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition(CFSAN): Typically, the warning letter provides the most complete explanation of FDA's action.

However, please feel free to contact CFSAN directly through their e-mail account: Best regards, Drug Information BLS Division of Drug Information Center for Drug Evaluation and Research Food and Drug Administration.

For up-to-date drug information, follow the FDA's Division of Drug Information on Twitter at FDA_Drug_Info This communication is consistent with 21CFR10.85(k) and constitutes an informal communication that represents our best judgment at this time but does not constitute an advisory opinion, does not necessarily represent the formal position of the FDA, and does not bind or otherwise obligate or commit the agency to the views expressed.

So yes, Virginia, walnuts are now considered drugs and soon you'll need to use your ObamaCare to get a prescription to buy them, unless, of course, they're designated "dangerous drugs," in which case you better call your dealer to score you up a bag!

Oh And One More Thing

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


07-24-1936 ~ 05-12-2010
Thanks for the films!

07-10-1942 ~ 05-16-2010
Thanks for the visions my brother!


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


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

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

Vatican Justice
By Sam Harris

I confess that, as a critic of religion, I have paid too little attention to the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. Frankly, it always felt unsportsmanlike to shoot so large and languorous a fish in so tiny a barrel. This scandal was one of the most spectacular "own goals" in the history of religion, and there seem to be no need to deride faith at its most vulnerable and self-abased. Even in retrospect, it is easy to understand the impulse to avert one's eyes: Just imagine a pious mother and father sending their beloved child to the Church of a Thousand Hands for spiritual instruction, only to have him raped and terrified into silence by threats of hell. And then imagine this occurring to tens of thousands of children in our own time-and to children beyond reckoning for over a thousand years. The spectacle of faith so utterly misplaced, and so fully betrayed, is simply too depressing to think about.

But there was always more to this phenomenon that should have compelled my attention. Consider the ludicrous ideology that made it possible: The Catholic Church has spent two millennia demonizing human sexuality to a degree unmatched by any other institution, declaring the most basic, healthy, mature, and consensual behaviors taboo. Indeed, this organization still opposes the use of contraception: preferring, instead, that the poorest people on earth be blessed with the largest families and the shortest lives. As a consequence of this hallowed and incorrigible stupidity, the Church has condemned generations of decent people to shame and hypocrisy-or to Neolithic fecundity, poverty, and death by AIDS. Add to this inhumanity the artifice of cloistered celibacy, and you now have an institution-one of the wealthiest on earth-that preferentially attracts pederasts, pedophiles, and sexual sadists into its ranks, promotes them to positions of authority and grants them privileged access to children. Finally, consider that vast numbers of children will be born out of wedlock, and their unwed mothers vilified, wherever Church teaching holds sway-leading boys and girls by the thousands to be abandoned to Church-run orphanages only to be raped and terrorized by the clergy. Here, in this ghoulish machinery set to whirling through the ages by the opposing winds of shame and sadism, we mortals can finally glimpse how strangely perfect are the ways of the Lord.

In 2009, The Irish Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (CICA) investigated such of these events as occurred on Irish soil. Their report runs to 2,600 pages. Having read only an oppressive fraction of this document, I can say that when thinking about the ecclesiastical abuse of children, it is best not to imagine shades of ancient Athens and the blandishments of a "love that dare not speak its name." Yes, there have surely been polite pederasts in the priesthood, expressing anguished affection for boys who would turn 18 the next morning. But behind these indiscretions there is a continuum of abuse that terminates in utter evil. The scandal in the Catholic Church-one might now safely say the scandal that is the Catholic Church-includes the systematic rape and torture of orphaned and disabled children. Its victims attest to being whipped with belts and sodomized until bloody-sometimes by multiple attackers-and then whipped again and threatened with death and hell fire if they breathed a word about their abuse. And yes, many of the children who were desperate or courageous enough to report these crimes were accused of lying and returned to their tormentors to be raped and tortured again.

The evidence suggests that the misery of these children was facilitated and concealed by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church at every level, up to and including the prefrontal cortex of the current Pope. In his former capacity as Cardinal Ratzinger, Pope Benedict personally oversaw the Vatican's response to reports of sexual abuse in the Church. What did this wise and compassionate man do upon learning that his employees were raping children by the thousands? Did he immediately alert the police and ensure that the victims would be protected from further torments? One still dares to imagine such an effulgence of basic human sanity might have been possible, even within the Church. On the contrary, repeated and increasingly desperate complaints of abuse were set aside, witnesses were pressured into silence, bishops were praised for their defiance of secular authority, and offending priests were relocated only to destroy fresh lives in unsuspecting parishes. It is no exaggeration to say that for decades (if not centuries) the Vatican has met the formal definition of a criminal organization devoted-not to gambling, prostitution, drugs, or any other venial sin-but to the sexual enslavement of children.

Consider the following passages from the CICA report:

7.129 In relation to one School, four witnesses gave detailed accounts of sexual abuse, including rape in all instances, by two or more Brothers and on one occasion along with an older resident. A witness from the second School, from which there were several reports, described being raped by three Brothers: 'I was brought to the infirmary...they held me over the bed, they were animals....They penetrated me, I was bleeding'. Another witness reported he was abused twice weekly on particular days by two Brothers in the toilets off the dormitory:

One Brother kept watch while the other abused me ...(sexually)... then they changed over. Every time it ended with a severe beating. When I told the priest in Confession, he called me a liar. I never spoke about it again.

I would have to go into his ...(Br X's)... room every time he wanted. You'd get a hiding if you didn't, and he'd make me do it ...(masturbate)... to him. One night I didn't ...(masturbate him)... and there was another Brother there who held me down and they hit me with a hurley and they burst my fingers ...displayed scar.... ... 7.232 Witnesses reported being particularly fearful at night as they listened to residents screaming in cloakrooms, dormitories or in a staff member's bedroom while they were being abused. Witnesses were conscious that co-residents whom they described as orphans had a particularly difficult time:

The orphan children, they had it bad. I knew ...(who they were)... by the size of them, I'd ask them and they'd say they come from ...named institution.... They were there from an early age. You'd hear the screams from the room where Br ...X... would be abusing them.

There was one night, I wasn't long there and I seen one of the Brothers on the bed with one of the young boys ... and I heard the young lad screaming crying and Br ...X... said to me "if you don't mind your own business you'll get the same". ... I heard kids screaming and you know they are getting abused and that's a nightmare in anybody's mind. You are going to try and break out. ... So there was no way I was going to let that happen to me.... I remember one boy and he was bleeding from the back passage and I made up my mind, there was no way it ...(anal rape)... was going to happen to me. ... That used to play on my mind.

This is the kind of abuse that the Church has practiced and concealed since time out of memory. Even the CICA report declined to name the offending priests due to pressure from the Vatican. The cover-up of these atrocities continues.

I have been awakened from my unconscionable slumber on this issue by recent press reports and especially by the eloquence of my colleagues Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins. Both have begun a public effort to make the Pope accountable for the Church's complicity in these crimes. Here, I would like to announce that Project Reason has joined Hitchens and Dawkins (both of whom sit on our advisory board) in an effort to end the "diplomatic immunity" which the Vatican claims protects the Pope from any responsibility. We would greatly appreciate your support in this cause.
(c) 2010 Sam Harris is the author of "The End Of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason" and "Letter to a Christian Nation" and is the co-founder of The Reason Project, which promotes scientific knowledge and secular values.

A Black Hole
By Uri Avnery

JUST TO die of envy. How the British manage to do these things! What a democracy! What dignity!

Elections within a month. A new coalition within five days. A change of government within 70 minutes. A visit to the queen. The departing prime minister takes his wife and two small children, leaves the prime minister's residence and walks away. The new prime minister enters the residence.

Elegant, smooth, brief, and with good grace. The people have spoken, and that's that.

And with us?

Our election campaigns go on for months and months. Tumult fills the air, a cacophony of curses and general vulgarity. After that, months pass before a new coalition is formed. In the meantime, the victors and the vanquished trade insults. Lefties, fascists, traitors, destroyers of Israel, despoilers of Jerusalem, lackeys of the occupation, thieves - anything goes.

Chaos reigns supreme. New parties spring up like mushrooms after rain. Up to the last moment, nobody even knows who is competing with whom.

OUR NEXT election is still far away. Unless a sudden crisis springs up, it will take place in 2014. In Israel, three years is a political eternity.

Many believe that the government will fall much sooner, perhaps in a few months. Then the time allotted to the co-called settlement freeze in the West Bank is up. Binyamin Netanyahu will have to decide whether to give in to American pressure to prolong it, or to go ahead with enlarging the settlements and risk a confrontation with Barack Obama. In the first case, the settlers and their allies in the government will rebel. In the second case, the remnants of the Labor Party might leave the coalition.

I doubt that either will happen. All members of the government have an essential interest in keeping it alive. None of its components is assured of a future outside. Ehud Barak, a general without soldiers, is glued to his seat . Avigdor Lieberman, the foreign minister no foreigner wants to meet, has not achieved even one of the things he promised his voters. Why should they increase his strength? Eli Yishai, a Lieberman with a skullcap, feels his former rival, Aryeh Deri, breathing down his neck again, and holds on to his God's little acre. All of them feel that either they hang together or they will hang separately.

That is political logic. However, logic is a rare visitor in politics. If the freeze - or so-called freeze - is not terminated, the settlers may rise up. The most-extreme will drag behind them the just-extreme. Against the wish of all its members, the government may fall just the same.

What will happen then?

THAT IS the question that is now occupying the minds of all kinds of people - entertainers, TV personalities, commentators, generals, celebrities of all sorts and genders, pensioners, students, professors and whatnot - who dream of a new party.

This phenomenon has a specifically Israeli background.

In Britain, the constituency system has been exposed in all its nakedness. Tens of millions of votes went down the drain. There, people dream of a new system that will be, at least partly, proportional. In Israel it's the other way round: the proportional system has corrupted political life, and many people dream of a new system that will be, at least partly, constituency-based. It seems likely that the best solution lies with a system that is partly proportional and partly constituency, like the present German one. But here in Israel, all politicians will oppose any change.

In a large section of the voting public, our system has aroused widespread disgust for all politicians. People detest the entire political system and all existing parties.

Therefore, in every election campaign, new parties spring up and try to attract the hundreds of thousands of voters who say that they have "no one to vote for". These citizens could, of course, abstain altogether and go to the beach, but they don't want to waste their vote. Therefore they decide, at the very last moment, to vote for one of the new parties which voice the anger against whatever is most infuriating to the public at that moment. The party which succeeds in reflecting this mood wins these votes - only to disappear soon after.

That happened to the Dash party of General Yigael Yadin, that sprang up in the 1977 elections. It had a patent medicine for all public ills, such as war, corruption, poverty and religious coercion: electoral reform. It won a stunning success (15 seats in the Knesset!) and disappeared without a trace in the next elections. Then all kinds of "center" and 'third way" parties appeared and disappeared. The 2005 elections saw "Shinui" ("Change"), the party of Tommy Lapid, a TV talkshow host who had made a name for himself with his aggressiveness and the unrestrained vulgarity of his style. He hoisted the flag of hatred for the Orthodox, and won 15 Knesset seats - only to vanish in the next round. After him came Rafi Eitan, the man who had kidnapped Adolf Eichmann and was responsible for the Jonathan Pollard disaster, and who created a Pensioners' Party. He won a handsome seven seats - not thanks to the pensioners, who mostly ignored him, but to young people, who thought it all a huge joke. At the next elections, of course, this party, too, disappeared.

(Fair disclosure: In 1965, my friends and I created the "Haolam Hazeh - New Force Party", which served two Knesset terms and then became part of the "Sheli" party and, later, the "Progressive List for Peace". All these had a highly unfashionable program.)

Now, many people dream again - each for himself or herself - about another try. They don't seem to care if it's only for one term - the main thing is to get into the Knesset at least once. Among the candidates there is Yair Lapid, the son of the afore mentioned Tommy, a handsome, smooth and likable TV anchorman who appears daily on the screen and almost never voices an opinion that is not agreeable to everyone, nor takes a stand on anything, nor voices an original idea. The ideal candidate.

He is not alone. There are plenty of others: wedding singers beloved by the public, popular soccer players, celebrities who owe their fame to their PR agents. Even Rafi Eitan has appeared again from nowhere. When hundreds of thousands of votes are lying around in the street, temptation is rife.

Parties will spring up, parties will vanish. Like that gourd in the Bible "which came up in a night and perished in a night". The prophet Jonah, who had enjoyed its shadow, was so angry "that he fainted and wished in himself to die" and even told God "I do well to be angry, even unto death." (Jonah, 4) But that is not really important.

WHAT IS important is the need to close the gaping hole in the Israeli political system: the black hole on the left.

The Right is flourishing. Open fascists, who once were marginal, are now accepted at the center. A pupil of the ultra-racist Meir Kahane is starring in the Knesset, and no one seems to mind. The settlers are planning a "hostile takeover" of Likud.

Besides Likud, the only large party is Kadima, which is as far from the Left as Earth is from Alpha Centauri. Recently, two Kadima Knesset members - Ronit Tirosh and Otniel Schneller - submitted a hair-raising racist bill designed to outlaw any peace organization who exposes atrocities that "besmirch" Israel and may get Israeli army officers arrested abroad. Tzipi Livni did not lift a finger to oppose it.

It is generally agreed that in the next elections, Labor, which has become the Ministry-of-Defense-Party, will be annihilated, and so will Meretz. Both are now only shadows of their former selves. They will leave behind a political desert.

This situation cries to high heaven. Hundreds of thousands of Israeli voters carry in their hearts the basic values of the Left: peace, justice, equality, democracy, human rights for all, feminism, protection of the environment, separation between state and religion. Where are they? Who represents them?

A large part of the public is now pondering this question. Many agree that "something must be done". But it seems that nobody quite knows what.

SOME ARE looking for a cookbook recipe on the lines of: "Take 4 eggs, 2 spoonfuls of flour, a pinch of salt..."

So: "Take 12 celebs, 7 respected professors, 3 human-rights advocates, 2 peace activists (not too radical), 1 pop star, 1 famous TV personality, sprinkle with cautious slogans (not too extreme), stir well and serve luke warm..."

Or, alternatively, "take 4 of the remnants of Labor, 2 refugees from Meretz, 3 disappointed Kadima members, 1 Green, 1 Poor Neighborhood activist..."

No, it won't work that way.

The creation of a new party - a party that can change the political scene, seriously compete for power and function for a long time - is not a cooking exercise.

It needs an act of creation, no less than a painting of Leonardo, no less than the building of the Taj Mahal or the Duomo of Florence.

Such a party must embody those values, not as a collection of slogans, but as part of an integral whole. A party that will not be a continuation of the path of political wrecks nor stick to outdated modes of thought and the slogans of PR wizards. A party that will outline a completely new blueprint. A party that will not put patch upon patch, not propose a repair job here and there, but present a new model of the State of Israel, a complete plan for a Second Israeli Republic.

The leader for such a party will not be found in the political junkyard. A real leader arises by his own power, like Barack Obama, a young person with a new message.

As long as such a leader has not appeared, the initiative must come from below. At all the demonstrations I see new young people, idealists who impress me with their sincerity and courage, peace activists, human rights activists, environmental activists. From among them must arise the new initiative, which will rally us all around it.

Nature abhors a vacuum. Sooner or later, the black hole will be filled. Unless we do this ourselves, it may be filled by a many-legged monster.
(c) 2010 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

The Predictable And Inevitable Blowback
By David Sirota

Imagine, if you can, an alternate universe.

Imagine that in this alternate universe, a foreign military power begins flying remote-controlled warplanes over your town, using on-board missiles to kill hundreds of your innocent neighbors.

Now imagine that when you read the newspaper about this ongoing bloodbath, you learn that the foreign nation's top general is nonchalantly telling reporters that his troops are also killing "an amazing number" of your cultural brethren in an adjacent country. Imagine further learning that this foreign power is expanding the drone attacks on your community despite the attacks' well-known record of killing innocents. And finally, imagine that when you turn on your television, you see the perpetrator nation's tuxedo-clad leader cracking stand-up comedy jokes about drone strikes - jokes that prompt guffaws from an audience of that nation's elite.

Ask yourself: How would you and your fellow citizens respond? Would you call homegrown militias mounting a defense "patriots" or would you call them "terrorists"? Would you agree with your leaders when they angrily tell reporters that violent defiance should be expected?

Fortunately, most Americans don't have to worry about these queries in their own lives. But how we answer them in a hypothetical thought experiment provides us insight into how Pakistanis are likely feeling right now. Why? Because thanks to our continued drone assaults on their country, Pakistanis now confront these issues every day. And if they answer these questions as many of us undoubtedly would in a similar situation - well, that should trouble every American in this age of asymmetrical warfare.

Though we don't like to call it mass murder, the U.S. government's undeclared drone war in Pakistan is devolving into just that. As noted by a former counterinsurgency adviser to Gen. David Petraeus and a former Army officer in Afghanistan, the operation has become a haphazard massacre.

"Press reports suggest that over the last three years drone strikes have killed about 14 terrorist leaders," David Kilcullen and Andrew Exum wrote in 2009. "But, according to Pakistani sources, they have also killed some 700 civilians. This is 50 civilians for every militant killed."

Making matters worse, Gen. Stanley McChrystal has, indeed, told journalists that in Afghanistan, U.S. troops have "shot an amazing number of people" and "none has proven to have been a real threat." Meanwhile, President Barack Obama used his internationally televised speech at the White House Correspondents' Dinner to jest about drone warfare - and the assembled Washington glitterati did, in fact, reward him with approving laughs.

By eerie coincidence, that latter display of monstrous insouciance occurred on the same night as the failed effort to raze Times Square. Though America reacted to that despicable terrorism attempt with its routine spasms of cartoonish shock (why do they hate us?!), the assailant's motive was anything but baffling. As law enforcement officials soon reported, the accused bomber was probably trained and inspired by Pakistani groups seeking revenge for U.S. drone strikes.

"This is a blowback," said Pakistan's foreign minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi. "This is a reaction. And you could expect that ... let's not be naive."

Obviously, regardless of rationale, a "reaction" that involves trying to incinerate civilians in Manhattan is abhorrent and unacceptable. But so is Obama's move to intensify drone assaults that we know are regularly incinerating innocent civilians in Pakistan. And while Qureshi's statement about "expecting" blowback seems radical, he's merely echoing the CIA's reminder that "possibilities of blowback" arise when we conduct martial operations abroad.

We might remember that somehow-forgotten warning come the next terrorist assault. No matter how surprised we may feel after that inevitable (and inevitably deplorable) attack, the fact remains that until we halt our own indiscriminately violent actions, we ought to expect equally indiscriminate and equally violent reactions.
(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

Economic Power
Avoid Arizona and Boycott BP
By Joel S. Hirschhorn

Money is power. Each of us has it to varying degrees. Our challenge is to use our spending to advance worthy goals. Right now we see economic power being used against the state of Arizona because of the awful legislation recently passed that makes it all too easy for police there to seek proof of citizenship from virtually anyone they choose. Many groups and government entities have already cancelled conferences and other activities in Arizona, sending state and business leaders into a frizzy. They deserve to suffer as do the vast majority of Arizona citizens that supported the legislation. Every American that professes love and respect for the Constitution should avoid spending their tourism and other kinds of spending in Arizona.

Economic boycotts can be very powerful and change the world for the better. Sadly, too few Americans use their personal spending power to advance worthy goals. An immediate opportunity is for people to stop buying BP gasoline. After all, it is clear that BP acted irresponsibly and likely criminally in using offshore oil drilling technology that posed enormous risks to public and worker safety as well as our natural environment in the Gulf of Mexico and possibly far beyond.

Make BP suffer where it hurts, where it can truly harm them. Send a clear signal that we will get revenge as consumers with an environmental conscience. An immediate boycott of BP could do much to make the company compensate the incredible number of people that will suffer very much because of the humongous oil spill that should have been prevented. We cannot depend on BP acting responsibly; nor can we count on the government or the courts for delivering timely justice.

So simple. While you may not have opportunities to stop spending in Arizona you are more likely to stop spending at BP outlets. If you can influence decisions by others to stop spending in these two ways, then do it with strength and passion.

There is a Boycott BP page on Facebook. Show your support. Over at the Public Citizen website you can sign a petition: "Take the Beyond BP Pledge! Drive a car? Like the occasional fountain drink? Send a clear message to BP by boycotting its gas and retail store products. Don't spend a cent of your hard-earned money to feed the bottom line of a corporation that has a sordid history of negligence, willfully violates environmental regulations, and is spewing thousands and thousands of barrels of oil a day into the Gulf of Mexico. I pledge to boycott BP for at least three months." Public Citizen has also created a Facebook group "1,000,000 Strong to Boycott BP."

"Boycott BP into bankruptcy" - said Cindy Sheehan. Amen.

A short while back John Antczak on Huffington Post complained that there is "no apparent sign of a consumer backlash at the pump like the boycott triggered by the Exxon Valdez spill 21 years ago." He also noted that "owners interviewed by The Associated Press across the country say it's been business as usual since the April 20 explosion on a rig off Louisiana began unleashing 200,000 gallons of crude a day." However, this too must be noted: It took 40 days for outrage to coalesce into a one-day national boycott of Exxon stations.

Note that n the West, BP sells gas under the long-established Arco brand.

According to BP's website, there are more than 10,000 BP-branded gas stations in the U.S. and 1,500 under the Arco name. BP says it sells more than 15 billion gallons of gasoline in the U.S. every year, second only to Shell.

Americans seem to find far too easy to justify buying at BP or Arco because of convenience or low price. But everyone should see this choice as a moral one. If you continue to pump money into the BP coffers you are acting immorally, stupidly and anti-environmentally. Either you have a conscience or not. Make the marketplace work to punish those that deserve to be punished.
(c) 2010 Joel S. Hirschhorn observed our corrupt federal government firsthand as a senior official with the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the National Governors Association and is the author of Delusional Democracy - Fixing the Republic Without Overthrowing the Government. To discuss issues write the author. The author has a Ph.D. in Materials Engineering and was formerly a full professor of metallurgical engineering at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Some Senate Democrats Stiffen Their Spines

Whoa, what's this? A bold stand by Senate Democrats? Apparently, someone spiked the water pitchers in the Democratic caucus with some spine-stiffening Viagra pills!

Democrats have stunned Wall Street lobbyists by inserting a good, strong, structural change in their financial reform bill. Their provision would prohibit banks from being in the highly-risky game of derivatives speculation. Derivatives are not an investment in anything real, but simply legalized gambling, allowing high-flying speculators to make bets on such intangibles as whether housing prices will go up or down.

Surprisingly, Sen. Blanche Lincoln - known for literally blanching at the very idea of going against big bankers - was the sponsor of this ban, essentially saying to Wall Street giants, "Decide whether you want to be a bank or a casino - you can't be both." After all, we taxpayers insure the deposits held by banks, so this government-guaranteed money should go to business and consumer loans, rather than to gamblers.

Of course, this populist reform has totally freaked out the five Wall Street giants that dominate the derivatives game, so the big five have deployed 130 lobbyists - including former senator Trent Lott and 40 former senate staffers - to kill this one proposal that could restore a shred of sanity to America's financial system. Wall Streeters are spooked that one party is standing up to them. As one whined, "We're on the outside knocking on the window and saying, 'Hey, listen to us just a little bit.'"

This is Jim Hightower saying... Aw, I feel so bad for them, don't you? Sadly, they'll probably weaken the ban, but they're having to spend all of their political capital to do it, meaning they won't be able to kill other reforms they don't like. Now there's a lesson for all Democrats - take a strong stand, and you might do some good!
(c) 2010 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition.

Obama Tries To Strongarm Karzai
By Robert Dreyfuss

President Obama made it clear yesterday that he's looking at his war in Afghanistan through rose-tinted glasses, and there's no indication at all that he understands the importance of trying to strike a deal with the Taliban-led insurgents to end the war.

The question is: Did the U.S. administration put enough pressure on Hamid Karzai that the Afghan president will stop trying to cut a deal with the Taliban? The administration has lately suggested that it intends use a "carrots and sticks" approach to Karzai work, meaning that they've stopped treating him like a puppet, downgrading him instead to the role of a recalcitrant donkey. Will it work? Will Karzai submit to a U.S. diktat to scale back his diplomatic efforts and get on board with the yahoo-like offensive in Kandahar? It remains to be seen. Karzai is unlikely to give the finger to the United States while on American territory, but we'll see how he behaves when he gets back home, downgraded from puppet to donkey in the Obama administration's treatment.

Obama's remarks yesterday, at the news conference with Karzai, were blinkered at best:

"We're partnering with Afghan and coalition forces, and we've begun to reverse the momentum of the insurgency. We have taken the fight to the Taliban in Helmand Province, pushed them out of their stronghold in Marja."

Does he really believe that? In what sense is the "momentum of the insurgency" reversed, when the Pentagon's own reports suggest that things are getting worse? And Marja? That operation was a pathetic fiasco. The Taliban is surging back into the very districts seized by U.S. forces last February and March. The Pentagon report showed that the insurgency is spreading from the south and east into northern districts, and that of 120 key Afghan districts, only six are under government control.

Worse, there's no indication whatsoever that the United States has a plan in place for talking to the Taliban. Yes, the United States has long said that it will "reintegrate" Taliban fighters at the ground level who agree to take cash from U.S. and Afghan officials. But a broader plan? No. In his remarks yesterday, Obama - with Karzai at his side - said that the United States is prepared to open the doors "to Taliban who cut their ties to Al Qaeda, abandon violence, and accept the Afghan constitution, including respect for human rights," i.e., to Taliban who surrender. That's not negotiations. That's not diplomacy.

Karzai, who's going home to convene a national peace jirga, or council, for the very purpose of trying to establish an Afghan consensus about reconciling with the Taliban - a very difficult task - soft-pedaled his own ideas about talking to the Taliban. In so doing, Karzai was playing according to the rules of this visit to Washington, which called for submerging the huge differences between U.S. and Afghan interests in favor of a sweetness-and-light alliance. (Obama lied that those differences were "simply overstated.")

To his credit, Obama did insist that the July, 2011, deadline for starting the withdrawal of U.S. forces is a real one, though he hedged on how many troops might actually be withdrawn, and at what pace. Here's what he said:

"What I have said is, is that having put in more troops over the last several months in order to break the momentum of the Taliban, that beginning in 2011, July, we will start bringing those troops down and turning over more and more responsibility to Afghan security forces that we are building up.

"But we are not suddenly, as of July 2011, finished with Afghanistan. In fact, to the contrary, part of what I've tried to emphasize to President Karzai and the Afghan people, but also to the American people, is this is a long-term partnership that is not simply defined by our military presence.

"I am confident that we're going to be able to reduce our troop strength in Afghanistan starting in July 2011, and I am in constant discussions with General McChrystal, as well as Ambassador Eikenberry, about the execution of that time frame."

But Obama insisted that even though there is no strictly military solution to the war, U.S. policy will continue to "have a strong military component to it," and that "there's going to be some hard fighting over the next several months."

In his remarks, Karzai didn't say anything about his idea for "reconciliation" with the Taliban - as opposed to U.S.-backed "reintegration." Instead, he was singing from the U.S. song book:

"There are thousands of the Taliban who are not ideologically oriented, who are not part of al Qaeda or other terrorist networks, or controlled from outside in any manner troublesome to us. There are thousands of them who are country boys who have been driven by intimidation or fear caused by at times misconduct by us, or circumstances beyond their control or our control.

"It is these thousands of Taliban who are not against Afghanistan, or against the Afghan people, or their country -- who are not against America either, or the rest of the world, and who want to come back to Afghanistan if given an opportunity and provided the political means. It's this group of the Taliban that we are addressing in the peace jirga."

If that's true, if that's Karzai's approach, then the war will go on for years. The Taliban is not going to be dismantled fighter by fighter, with bags of cash and offers of government jobs from Kabul, but in a political deal of the sort that was discussed between Karzai and representatives of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Islamic Party in March. At that time, Hekmatyar's group offered a truce and a political deal in exchange for a flexible timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops.

At the conclusion of his remarks, Obama repeated the lame rationale for his 2009 escalation of the war. To get the Taliban to the table "depends on our effectiveness in breaking their momentum militarily." He added:

"At what point do the Taliban start making different calculations about what's in their interests, and how the Afghan people feel about these issues, is in part going to be dependent on our success in terms of carrying out our mission there."

My question: At what point does the United States "start making different calculations" about what's in its interests?
(c) 2010 Robert Dreyfuss is an investigative journalist in Alexandria, Virginia, specializing in politics and national security. He is the author of "Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam" (Henry Holt/Metropolitan Books).

Consider An Embargo On World Imports
By James Donahue

In reading all of the reports of global efforts for heading off fears of a world-wide depression we remember that someone in Washington . . . it may have been President Bush . . . assured us that the U.S. would not stop imports of goods from overseas.

The comment started us thinking about all of the world trade agreements our country has made and how it might be difficult, if not impossible to consider turning off the spigot on imported products. And while on that line of thinking, it struck us that a federal embargo on imports might just be what our nation needs to fix a lot of things that have gone wrong. It appears that we have been set up for everything that has happened to us.

Imagine what a difference it would make if America could or would stop ALL goods from other countries, even the things manufactured by U.S. companies that moved to Mexico, China, Indonesia and other places to exploit poverty stricken areas that supply cheap non-union labor.

Along with this embargo our government should prohibit all financial dealings that make it possible for big corporations to operate out of obscure places like the Cayman Islands, a British Territory in the Caribbean that has become a popular tax haven. Most of all, there should be a prohibition against the United States borrowing any more money from other countries, or selling government-owned lands, buildings and bridges owners abroad.

We also suggest shutting down our wars in other lands and bringing our troops home to reinforce the blockade of our ports, major airports and borders, to make sure nothing sneaks into a black market.

Knowing how big business interests control Washington these days, we know that this is all a hypothetical scenario. But if it could be done, here is what we think would happen:

American stores would quickly run out of imported items. Since most of the stuff we think we must have to make our lives more enjoyable . . . new televisions, computers, stereos, cell phones, cameras, sewing machines, shoes, clothes and Japanese and European manufactured automobiles . . .would be unavailable. We would be forced to use the old things we already have or go without. You might be amazed at the things that would be missing from our store shelves.

Is that a bad thing? Indeed, going without certain food items like coffee, bananas, dates and spices will be a severe sacrifice for many of us, but it won't kill us. American farmers still produce enough food to feed our people. And if people overseas get hungry enough, they will probably allow us to export excess foods.

Another critical loss would be oil. We would be forced to scale down our use of oil produced at home, pay extremely high prices for fuel, and get serious in our research to find alternative energy sources to heat our homes and alternative ways to get to work.

Placing our troops at the borders and in our ports and airports where overseas flights land would not only help solve the so-called immigration problem but put a quick end to a large part of the nation's drug trafficking . . . at least stop the import of cocaine and heroin. Of course this would also make importing certain medicines like pain-killing drugs like morphine, manufactured from the poppy flowers that produce heroin, a thing of the past. We would have to rely on synthetic chemicals and, we might suggest, marijuana, to replace them.

Obviously, we are not economists but we believe that the financial benefits from such a sacrifice might be astounding. Such moves might do a lot to help resolve the money crunch, create jobs and make the United States an industrial and productive nation once again.

Such a blockade would make American workers vividly conscious of how big business interests have slammed the door on them. Other than farm produce and building construction, America no longer manufactures things. Instead we are a public service society. The jobs are mostly found in restaurants, hotels, home, automobile and appliance repair, legal and insurance services and medical. The other jobs are in government and include schools, police and the operation of prisons and jails. These jobs are provided at the cost of tax dollars.

If a total blockade such as we have described would go into effect, the door will be wide open in America for the small entrepreneur to start making the things we want and need. The art of manufacturing good shoes and clothes has been all but lost. But Americans have always been enterprising and if given a chance, we can learn. Many of our older women who learned as children how to sew, bake good bread, make rugs and hand-sew quilts from rags and darn socks are still around to teach these skills to the younger people.

We believe it wouldn't take very long before thriving new business enterprises would be popping up all over the country, and America would be manufacturing things once more. Enterprising people with good ideas for starting manufacturing shops to meet the demands of Americans would be rushing here from all over the world to fill the void.

Why would this help resolve the American economic crisis? We see something like this stabilizing the economy by quickly erasing the national debt and putting value back in the dollar. Instead of pouring borrowed money into meaningless and deadly wars to bolster big business interest already located overseas, we keep our money at home to use for education, rebuilding our roads, bridges and crumbling infrastructure.

There would be money for a great socialized health program for everybody.

The Daily Kos recently published the following statistics: When Jimmy Carter was president the national debt was $660 billion. During his four-year term it increased $337 billion. We thought that was pretty high.

Then Republican Ronald Reagan got in office for eight years. The debt was raised by $1.6 trillion. Try to count to a trillion and see how long it takes. Try to imagine such a number. Who would have thought it possible that we would ever need such a number for counting a national debt? Astronomers invented it to calculate distances between stars and galaxies.

Not to be outdone, the next president, George H. W. Bush added another $1.6 trillion during the four years he was in office. The same amount of increased debt but he did it in half the time.

Democrat Bill Clinton saw another increase in the debt of $1.5 trillion during the eight years he sat in the oval office.

But George W. Bush has topped them all. The debt has been raised yet another $4.5 trillion after he took office in 2001, and his term wasn't quite over at the time of the Kos report.

The Kos article noted that the nation was saddled with a debt of $9.5 trillion, of which $7.7 trillion was added during Republican administrations. Since then, after the big bail-outs of banks and lending institutions and all of the other projects launched at the end of the Bush Administration and then under President Obama, the debt has risen to $12.9 trillion. At this rate we are headed for a destructive financial melt-down.

National debt is the amount of money the United States owes other nations for past services and purchases of goods and services. This means that the commercial outflow of manufactured items from America is not keeping up with the imports we get from overseas. And it goes without saying that most of this debt is for oil and gas imports.

The higher the debt, the more the dollar depreciates in value. And when that happens, the U.S. Treasury finds itself printing more paper to meet demand. And as more paper goes into circulation, the less it buys. That is called inflation. It is a Catch-22 of sorts.

Thus we say the solution to this problem might be to just shut off the spigot. Stop buying imports. Start manufacturing quality stuff that people in other lands will want to buy from us, and then sell it to them.

This is obviously all a layman's pipe dream. For starters, however, it might be wise to educate ourselves this election year on the candidates, beware of Karl Rove's dirty campaign tricks and intelligently pick a slate of candidates that just might begin sweeping the corruption out of Washington.
(c) 2010 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles. He currently produces daily articles for this web site.

Homelessness By Any Other Name
BY Randall Amster

In the ongoing effort to address social problems primarily by talking about them rather than doing anything concrete, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is proposing a set of new definitions of homelessness in order to determine who will be eligible for HUD-funded homeless assistance programs. The proposed changes are in a "public comment" period through June 21, 2010, after which time they will take effect in substantially the proposed form. While this will affect access to certain services, the overall impact is more subtle, and the task of ending homelessness is still in need of much more than simple redefinitions.

Well, it's not all for naught, actually. As blogger David Henderson observed back in March, "If we are to end homelessness, we have to agree on what homelessness means, and how we measure it." In a subsequent piece, it was noted how egregiously HUD undercounts the homeless, potentially leaving multitudes quite literally out in the cold. Most significantly, the proposed new definitions appear to omit people without dependent children who are living in unstable situations, and furthermore extend the time of a required stay in an institution providing temporary residence from 30 to 90 days.

While these changes leave much to be desired, they will at least bring HUD into closer alignment with other agencies' definitions - including the overarching Federal Definition of Homelessness that codes a "homeless person" as "an individual who lacks a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence," or "who has a primary nighttime residence" that is either "a supervised publicly or privately operated shelter;" "an institution that provides a temporary residence;" or "a public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings." Essentially the federal standard encompasses anyone lacking a stable nighttime residence to which they are allowed to retreat without permission or exception.

In this light, the critical factor becomes housing, primarily its affordability and its fitness for human habitation. Just as in other metrics used to set federal policy - such as employment and healthcare - many people who do not technically meet the federal definition may well exist in a state of being "underhoused" either due to their financial capacity to afford the space or maintain its condition as a habitable domicile. Larger factors including economic recession and neighborhood deterioration contribute to many more people living in substandard and unstable situations than would be officially counted among the homeless.

So, while HUD's broader definition shows promise, it still lacks a full cognizance of the issue, just as the federal definition does. In addition to the problem of failing to account for people living on the cusp of lacking an adequate residence, these attempts at categorization work from the top-down instead of the bottom-up in the sense that they impose a definition upon an individual in a one-size-fits-all manner that reflects only part of the reality of being homeless. I wonder how many homeless people themselves were involved in promulgating these guidelines or commenting on the proposed changes? The standard definitions, in fact, focus on housing almost to the exclusion of other factors such as employment, employability, available resources, family ties, and both physiological and psychological wellbeing.

In short, homelessness and houselessness aren't exactly the same thing, as blogger Dominic Mapstone has noted. Homelessness is about rootedness, vulnerability and the potential to change one's situation. It is equal parts tangible factors (such as housing and sustenance options) and intangible factors (such as empowerment and self-worth). Definitions may help us to confront the former, but the latter remain elusive and are largely absent from the policy dialogue due to their inherent subjectivity. Still, if the intention truly is to end homelessness, the "state of being" in and of itself must be fully comprehended. Who better than the homeless to provide a definitional framework that captures the complex realities of life without a stable residence?

Absent that crucial perspective, we might simply wind up creating a situation in which (to borrow a phrase from Dragnet) the names have been changed but the innocent remain unprotected.
(c) 2010 Randall Amster J.D., Ph.D., teaches peace studies at Prescott College and serves as the executive director of the Peace & Justice Studies Association. His most recent book is the co-edited volume "Building Cultures of Peace: Transdisciplinary Voices of Hope and Action" (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009).

Creeping Terror
The New American Way of War
By Chris Floyd

The American way of war is a marvelously ingenious thing. And thoroughly modern too. No more of that "don't shoot until you see the whites of their eyes" jazz; your modern "warfighter" (they aren't called "soldiers" anymore, you know) prefers to view his targets through, say, a computer screen safely ensconced back in the Homeland or thousands of feet in the sky, or else through the unearthly greenish glow of night-vision scopes. And open combat? Forget it. The new American way is the sneak attack on civilian homes in the dead of night. You creep up, you break in, you cap a few ragheads, then you run away. What glory! What magnificent valor!

The Washington Post reports on yet another glorious page in the annals of the exceptional nation "intended by God to be a light set on a hill to serve as a beacon of hope and Christian charity to a lost and dying world." It's the usual story. Secret "warfighters" suddenly attack a civilian compound in the middle of the night. This, not surprisingly, provokes a few shots from some of the inhabitants, who have no idea who is attacking their home. The superior firepower of the beacons of hope and Christian charity quickly overcome the piddling arms of the demonic heathens, however, and in a trice, there are dead gook - sorry, raghead - bodies all around. Including children - you've got to have children in your body count these days, if you want to be a thoroughly modern Christian beacon warfighter. Then you and your brave band of secret warriors run away and prepare for the next bold raid.

Naturally, the local losers come out and boo-hoo-hoo over their dead relatives, as if no one had ever seen their son shot to death in front of their eyes before. They trot out all their evidence that the victims had nothing to do with the "insurgents" (which is what your modern warfighter calls anyone who objects to the presence of armed foreigners prowling all over their land), they keen and wail and do all the other animalistic stuff that primitives do when one of the pack snuffs it. "Oh, I lost my son, oh my son, my precious son," etc., etc. - as if there's not a dozen more when he came from; you know how those people breed.

But anyway, here's the beauty part: if the local dorky darkies start to complain, you just say, "Hey man, we came under fire! Those monkeys shot at us when we came sneaking up on their house in the middle of the night with our guns drawn. That proves they were bad guys. We had to take them out."

That's it. That's the drill. It happens virtually every week now in Afghanistan - just as it happened time and again in Iraq, back when some guy named Stanley McChrystal was in charge of covert ops for that evil, reactionary throwback, George W. Bush. Whatever happened to old Stan anyway? Oh yeah; the nice, progressive, thoroughly modern Barack Obama put him in charge of the whole shooting match in Afghanistan, as well as the not-so-secret war of assassination in Pakistan. And oddly enough, the slaughter of civilians in both of these target countries has been rising ever since.

But hey, that's just how we roll nowadays. That's the American way of war. Creep, sneak, kill, run, lie - repeat. Sure, it only makes things worse, creates more enemies, keeps the wars going. But isn't that the point? Check it out, baby: they're piling an extra $33.5 billion of prime war pork on top of the mountain of Terror War funding already laid out for this year! And you need a whole lot of blood to wash down that meat - and a whole lot of new enemies to make sure the feast never ends.
(c) 2010 Chris Floyd

A State Does Not A Nation Make
By Case Wagenvoord

Any given country is made up of two components: the nation and the state, state meaning the center of governance and power.

"Nation" is an umbrella term that refers to the groups and subgroups that make up a country's culture. The diverse values of its citizens are embedded in the nation. The nation is chaotic, disorderly and lacks efficiency, for it requires constant bickering to achieve the compromise and conciliation that are needed for effective action. All too often, the outcome of this bickering is an obsession with the common welfare.

The "state," on the other hand, seeks power and authority so it may bring order and stability to the nation and impose upon it its own values of conquest and exploitation. Its power tends to puddle in one or more centers. In the case of America, it has puddled in the Beltway, Wall Street and the Pentagon, America's own feral trifecta.

Traditionally, constitutions and common law are in place to protect the nation from the state.

The state achieves power by co-opting the nation's values, corrupting them, and using them not as instruments of welfare and peace but as justifications for repression and home and conquest abroad. It recasts these values as absolutes that are propagandized to produce compliance and obedience.

The nation thrives on diversity; the state thrives on conformity.

If the nation represents the chaos of a life force that maintains itself in a constant state of tense equilibrium, then the state ultimately expresses itself as death, through incarceration, execution, and the sacrificing of the flower of its youth to advance its interests. The end is always the same: the enhancement of the state's power. There is no other rational for its existence.

To thrive, the state must twist Christianity, with its message of love and universal brotherhood, into a message of God's wrath and retribution, making of the state a wagon train drawn into a circle and surrounded by a dark, alien force. Church and state work hand in hand to undercut freedom so they might protect "people of faith" from the "evil" forces that would destroy its civilization by strapping a nuke to a camel and sending it for a stroll down Wall Street.

The state achieves its ends with a rhetorical arsenal that includes "inversion of language, verbal inflation, libel, rumor, euphemism and coded phrases, rhetorical wantonness, redundancy, hyperbole, such profusion in speech and sound that comprehension is impaired, nonsense, sophistry, jargon, noise, incoherence, a chaos of voices and tongues, falsehood, blasphemy."

To succeed, there must be a disconnect between the state and its citizens. These citizens must be reduced to a passive horde so wrapped up in themselves that they could care less about the antics of the state.

A good citizen is one who mistakes the fiery sword of conquest for the shepherds crook.
(c) 2010 Case Wagenvoord. Some years ago, Case Wagenvoord turned off the tube and picked up a book. He's been trouble ever since. His articles have been posted at The Smirking Chimp, Countercurrents and Issues & Alibis. When he's not writing or brooding, he is carving hardwood bowls that have been displayed in galleries and shows across the country. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and two cats. His book, Open Letters to George W. Bush is available at

More Immigration, More Taxation!
By Mike Folkerth

Good Morning all of your reality land dwellers; your King of Simple News is on the air.

William Jefferson Clinton has the answers to our declining economy; more immigration and more taxation; a lot more.

Is it possible for any living breathing person to have a total and complete disconnect from any semblance of reality? Apparently so, which leads me to ponder whether those Clinton cigars contained something more than tobacco. Either that, or during his last hospitalization the remainder of Slick's brain was removed.

The following is a recent statement from Bill Clinton that was reported by Fox News:

"The U.S. needs more immigrants and a value-added tax to help reduce the deficit, former President Bill Clinton said Friday.

Clinton said the country was "mortgaging out a lot of our sovereignty" by using foreign creditors to pay for an "exploding" debt.

His recipe? More growth and revenue, fueled by immigrant workers and a controversial value-added tax.

I think we're going to have to have more taxpayers, which is why I favor, in a disciplined way, immigration reform and letting more immigrants come to the country," Clinton told CNBC. "I think it would make more jobs for people who are unemployed, not fewer."

Second, Clinton said, more tax revenue could be collected by imposing a value-added tax, which taxes products at each stage of the manufacturing or distribution process.

"I think they ought to look at a progressive value-added tax, just because - and I think it's important the American people understand this - most of our competitors have tax systems like this," Clinton said.

Of all the moronic ideas that I have ever seen put forward, this takes the cake, the trophy, the victory lap, and the bonus round all in one fell swoop. Let me hear your comments. Be nice.
(c) 2010 Mike Folkerth is not your run-of-the-mill author of economics. Nor does he write in boring lecture style. Not even close. The former real estate broker, developer, private real estate fund manager, auctioneer, Alaskan bush pilot, restaurateur, U.S. Navy veteran, heavy equipment operator, taxi cab driver, fishing guide, horse packer...(I won't go on, it's embarrassing) writes from experience and plain common sense. He is the author of "The Biggest Lie Ever Believed."

The Quotable Quote...

"If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor."
~~~ Desmond Tutu ~~~

BP And The 'Little Eichmanns'
By Chris Hedges

Cultures that do not recognize that human life and the natural world have a sacred dimension, an intrinsic value beyond monetary value, cannibalize themselves until they die. They ruthlessly exploit the natural world and the members of their society in the name of progress until exhaustion or collapse, blind to the fury of their own self-destruction. The oil pouring into the Gulf of Mexico, estimated to be perhaps as much as 100,000 barrels a day, is part of our foolish death march. It is one more blow delivered by the corporate state, the trade of life for gold. But this time collapse, when it comes, will not be confined to the geography of a decayed civilization. It will be global.

Those who carry out this global genocide-men like BP's Chief Executive Tony Hayward, who assures us that "The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume''-are, to steal a line from Ward Churchill, "little Eichmanns." They serve Thanatos, the forces of death, the dark instinct Sigmund Freud identified within human beings that propels us to annihilate all living things, including ourselves. These deformed individuals lack the capacity for empathy. They are at once banal and dangerous. They possess the peculiar ability to organize vast, destructive bureaucracies and yet remain blind to the ramifications. The death they dispense, whether in the pollutants and carcinogens that have made cancer an epidemic, the dead zone rapidly being created in the Gulf of Mexico, the melting polar ice caps or the deaths last year of 45,000 Americans who could not afford proper medical care, is part of the cold and rational exchange of life for money.

The corporations, and those who run them, consume, pollute, oppress and kill. The little Eichmanns who manage them reside in a parallel universe of staggering wealth, luxury and splendid isolation that rivals that of the closed court of Versailles. The elite, sheltered and enriched, continue to prosper even as the rest of us and the natural world start to die. They are numb. They will drain the last drop of profit from us until there is nothing left. And our business schools and elite universities churn out tens of thousands of these deaf, dumb and blind systems managers who are endowed with sophisticated skills of management and the incapacity for common sense, compassion or remorse. These technocrats mistake the art of manipulation with knowledge.

"The longer one listened to him, the more obvious it became that his inability to speak was closely connected with an inability to think, namely, to think from the standpoint of somebody else," Hannah Arendt wrote of "Eichmann in Jerusalem." "No communication was possible with him, not because he lied but because he was surrounded by the most reliable of all safeguards against words and the presence of others, and hence against reality as such."

Our ruling class of technocrats, as John Ralston Saul points out, is effectively illiterate. "One of the reasons that he is unable to recognize the necessary relationship between power and morality is that moral traditions are the product of civilization and he has little knowledge of his own civilization," Saul writes of the technocrat. Saul calls these technocrats "hedonists of power," and warns that their "obsession with structures and their inability or unwillingness to link these to the public good make this power an abstract force-a force that works, more often than not, at cross-purposes to the real needs of a painfully real world."

BP, which made $6.1 billion in profits in the first quarter of this year, never obtained permits from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The protection of the ecosystem did not matter. But BP is hardly alone. Drilling with utter disregard to the ecosystem is common practice among oil companies, according to a report in The New York Times. Our corporate state has gutted environmental regulation as tenaciously as it has gutted financial regulation and habeas corpus. Corporations make no distinction between our personal impoverishment and the impoverishment of the ecosystem that sustains the human species. And the abuse, of us and the natural world, is as rampant under Barack Obama as it was under George W. Bush. The branded figure who sits in the White House is a puppet, a face used to mask an insidious system under which we as citizens have been disempowered and under which we become, along with the natural world, collateral damage. As Karl Marx understood, unfettered capitalism is a revolutionary force. And this force is consuming us.

Karl Polanyi in his book "The Great Transformation," written in 1944, laid out the devastating consequences-the depressions, wars and totalitarianism-that grow out of a so-called self-regulated free market. He grasped that "fascism, like socialism, was rooted in a market society that refused to function." He warned that a financial system always devolved, without heavy government control, into a Mafia capitalism-and a Mafia political system-which is a good description of our corporate government. Polanyi warned that when nature and human beings are objects whose worth is determined by the market, then human beings and nature are destroyed. Speculative excesses and growing inequality, he wrote, always dynamite the foundation for a continued prosperity and ensure "the demolition of society."
(c) 2010 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. He is the author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. His latest book is, "Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle."

Fear Comes Of Age
By David Michael Green

Elena Kagan is the perfect Supreme Court pick for Barack Obama.

In fact, in so many ways, she is Barack Obama.

Moreover, they both represent their generation well. They are the leading edge of Generation X, and they embody its character fully.

You don't need a fancy degree in sociology to figure that generational politics are driven at in least part by generational life experience and social and economic conditions. It makes a certain degree of sense, to wit, that the last generations in American history known for their mobilization around progressive politics were products of extreme economic conditions, albeit polar opposite ones. In the Thirties, when socialism had real prospects in America, the economy could hardly have been more challenging. During the Sixties, on the other hand, the young people marching in the streets were arguably the product of the world's first-ever generation of widespread economic security, if not opulence.

Perhaps what they both had in common is little to risk. In any case, by the time Gen X came around, the doors were already slamming shut. In part this was because we were actually living beyond our means anyhow, and the principles of economic physics reasserted their inevitable gravitational pull. In part it was because the Boomers were such a large generation that they sucked up a lot of opportunity in the economy for those who came after them. And in part, this happened because regressivism had begun its thirty year (and counting) successful project to undo the anomalous fairer wealth redistribution of the mid-twentieth century, which had scandalously produced a somewhat just economic system for the first time since the industrial revolution, if not ever.

Whatever the explanation, I don't think it's an accident that the people coming of political and career age under such conditions have exhibited a certain degree of conservatism in their outlook on life. I don't mean here ideological conservatism, though there is that as well, but more of a hunkered-down, blinkered, instrumental, cautious, personal conservatism - one that is devoted to the narrowest agenda of self. One might even call it peasant conservatism, to which it is akin.

I don't mean that term entirely pejoratively. It seems to me a natural human survival instinct to act conservatively in times of scarce resources, and I don't fancy myself anymore immune to that sensibility than is anyone else. But I do think there are multiple possible responses to such challenges, especially to the extent that they are being driven by political decisions allocating those scarce resources, as opposed to natural phenomena like drought or disaster. One solution, in place of an atomistic enhanced to devotion to self-interest, is to seek a collective political response to insanely destructive societal policy choices. No generation I can think of has been handed a lousier deal by its parents and grandparents than Generation X (except Generation Y, of course), and none has responded to that as silently.

If Barack Obama isn't the epitome of this mentality, then Elena Kagan surely is. Nobody can figure out what she stands for, because she has been so careful never to stand for anything. Obama's really the same, although as a former candidate for the US Senate and the presidency, he's been obliged to make a few more vague noises about political positions than Kagan has or will in her confirmation process. In both cases, though, you can look long and hard - and ultimately in vain - for much of anything that resembles a political conviction. In the end, though, what both of these folks are really about is right there in front of you. They're about themselves. They are bloodless careerists.

They are also supposedly the left in America, and that's the disastrous part. You see nothing whatsoever of this kind of (non-)politics on the right. Regressives in this country are passionate, strategic, mobilized, extreme and effective. And because of that, they are winning, and have been for thirty years. Where there used to be a left in America, only a black hole exists today, sucking in everything around it, including light and truth. Obama, for example - the supposed socialist in the typical regressive's infantile paranoid nightmares - is actually one of the most conservative presidents of the last century. And he is not alone.

It's axiomatic among the grandees of the moronic mainstream media that he is a liberal, to such an extent that the question is never even discussed. In fact - though I suspect he is ultimately far more of an apolitical careerist than anything - the truth is that his policies are so regressive that they cannot meaningfully be distinguished from George W. Bush's. And I don't mean that in the powerfully true relative sense that reminds us of what a real liberal president would actually look like, either, though contemplating that long-lost comparative benchmark puts the point even more emphatically. And I don't even mean that in the sense of a Ralph Naderesque critique about the lack of fundamental difference between the Tweedledee and Tweedledum parties. I simply mean that a purely empirical side-by-side comparison across the board - from civil liberties to civil rights to 'defense' budget to war fighting to Middle East policy to Wall Street sycophancy to every other meaningful policy area, including health care by the way - reveals a literal near identity between the two administrations, other than in style.

The upshot of all this is that America has been moving seriously rightward, at least concerning matters of political economy if not social policy, for a full generation or two now. Where once there was a right, now there is a rabid right. And where once there was a left, now there is a collection of apolitical careerists. Given the powerful ability of the right to tilt the playing field in every meaningful dimension, the policy options seemingly open to these would-be progressives when they gain office (which happens almost purely because of regressive over-extension, rather than on their own merits) are effectively, but not actually, proscribed to more of the same right-wing insanity that has brought this country so much grief and decline since the Hollywood Cowboy rode into town and borrowed insipid two-dimensional morality plays from the sets of B-movie lots and screened them as the cheap horror production known as American politics.

The same is absolutely true of judicial politics as well. As Justice Stevens has himself correctly noted, every single appointment to the Supreme Court since and including his own, 35 years ago and now again today, has replaced the prior justice with someone further to the right. The entire center of gravity of the Court (and the federal courts below it) has shifted dramatically rightward. Not only do regressives vehemently demand that Republican presidents nominate throaty young Troglodytes to fill any vacancy (as they did when they forced Bush to withdraw the Harriet Miers nomination), but this is in fact probably the single biggest reason that they fight so hard to win the presidency. Sure, they want some twisted pathological freak in the White House who will invade hapless third world countries, slash spending on the poor, keep the womenfolk in their place, and then piously attend church on Sunday (though both Reagan and W typically managed only the first three items on that agenda during any given week of their presidencies, but they faked their religiosity well enough that they were forgiven), but what they really want is somebody who will stick a Sam Alito on the Supreme Court for the next forty years. It's not quite as permanent an establishment of their repressive politics as would be, say, making up some religion for people to adhere to over the next couple of millennia, but it's as close as you can get as long as that pesky Constitution and its evil secular government is still around and in the way.

Democrats, on the other hand, do what Democrats do best when it comes to making judicial appointments, or anything else for that matter. Which is to say just about nothing. This is why Kagan is so representative of Obama, and Obama is so representative of the politically neutered Generation X. Imagine somebody living through some of the most contentious debates of the last decades, and serving in some of the most prominent positions in and out of American government during that time, and leaving absolutely no paper trail whatsoever that indicates any politics of any sort. I'm sorry. Elena Kagan is not a socialist, she's a Kaganist. She's not a liberal, she's just a nil.

And so, as Stevens leaves and she fills his seat, the Court marches yet further rightward, with a weak apolitical centrist taking the place of a towering progressive. Meanwhile, Obama continues to do his part to aid in the complete repudiation of liberalism by running a presidency so anemic Neville Chamberlain would be embarrassed by it, while continuing allow himself to be labeled as some radical leftist by the regressive right, whose bottomless cleverness is matched only by their sociopathic cynicism. The upshot is that Obama - the appointer of nothingburger apolitical nobodies to the Supreme Court - will soon enough be replaced by another Republican president appointing a fresh crop of Lil' Scalias to complete the process. As soon as one of those replaced is one of the moderates on the Court rather than one of their own, the show will be definitely over (as it almost entirely is already), moving the regressive voting dominance from the current 4.75 to 4.25 votes (Kennedy occasionally siding with the non-Neanderthals), to a full-out 6 to 3 instead.

And nobody says much of nuthin' about it. Nobody holds Obama's feet to the fire like the right did to Bush with the Miers nomination. Can you imagine the conversations in the White House? Maybe some twenty-something rube staffer is dumb enough to say, "Hey, don't we need to appoint a progressive every once in a while to take care of our base?" To which everyone in the room bursts out laughing, and Rahm Emanuel responds: #$@%& those stupid #@$^&-@#$#%'s. What are they gonna do? Send us #$^@ing email? Have a @#$%ing rally with fourteen aging hippies doing a sit-in at Harry Reid's office? $#@&$ 'em, and the horses they rode in on. We answer to Wall Street, son.

So the short version of the story is that the aberration of partial economic justice and democracy that characterized the middle of the twentieth century is collapsing all around us. That implosion has now swallowed up both political parties. It has long held sway on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. And it is finally being ossified into place for at least the next several decades with lifetime appointments to the Supreme Court. The first priority is to create an all-powerful executive. The second priority is to create an all-powerful state. And the third priority is to make sure that both are put to the service of oligarchic interests. This is the regressive play book, rarely ever seen with greater clarity than in the voting records of the Scalia bloc on the Court. All else is commentary, if not diversion.

The astonishing irony, of course, is that there could hardly be a moment more propitious for an ideological swing in the other direction. People are hurting badly. Elites are vastly richer today than they were three decades ago. The connection between the two, in the form of predatory Wall Street plunderings continually aided, abetted and even funded by the government, is no longer even particularly hidden. And yet there is no left at all on the national horizon, apart from an occasional Bernie Sanders or Dennis Kucinich. Indeed, quite the opposite is the case. All energy is with the blind raging tea party mentality, which only seeks to vastly exacerbate the problem through some sort of vague libertarianism that will further unleash corporate dominance and further shred what little is left of a tattered social safety net in America.

You really have to hand it to the right. They understand mass psychology so much better than progressives do. They know that rationality is the first victim of fear, and that fear breeds upon itself, amplifying its own effects exponentially. They understand how fragile a thing is a thoughtful, sober and responsible democracy, and how readily undermined it can be for nefarious and hidden purposes.

And they understand how easy it is to buy off those with the capacity to prevent a country's political and economic suicide.

Barack Obama and Elena Kagan have gotten everything they've ever wanted from life.

All they had to do, in return, was to stand for nothing.
(c) 2010 David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York. He is delighted to receive readers' reactions to his articles, but regrets that time constraints do not always allow him to respond. More of his work can be found at his website,

The Dead Letter Office...

Heil Obama,

Dear Verwaltungsbeamter Sunstein,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, your plans to end free speech on the Internet and replace it with government propaganda, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Cabinet 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 Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds, presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 05-30-2010. We salute you Herr Sunstein, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

Emperor Hickel: The Man Who Invented Alaska ... And Sarah Palin
By Greg Palast

Wally Hickel invented Alaska and told me he regretted it. He also invented Sarah Palin, and I was hoping, when I travel to Alaska next month, to ask him whether he also regretted that second creation.

Hickel wanted to be President; of what nation, well, that changed. First, he wanted to be President of the United States. That required that his home, Alaska, become united with the States, a task he accomplished in 1959 with the help of his buddy, and later enemy, Richard Nixon. "That was a mistake," he said, referring to US Statehood. "We should have been our own nation," which, I pointed out, would have made him President instead of Governor.

Hickel grinned and took me over to a globe. As he massaged and caressed the planet's crown, he talked about his long-held dream to create a circumpolar resource cartel linking Siberia, Alaska, sub-polar Scandinavia and northern Japan, tied together by a rail tunnel under the Bering Sea. Alaska was too small; his plan was for a Confederation of the North, an Arctic Empire that circled the top of the planet. Benevolently ruled, he made clear, by Emperor Wally.

Mad, yes, but all of Hickel's plans were nuts, and usually successful. When I met with him in 1997, he had already prodded the Governor of Sakhalin Island, Alaska's twin in population and minerals, to declare its independence from Russia. (That didn't last.)

Walter Hickel, elected Governor of Alaska twice over twenty-five years, was one strange Republican. Nixon expelled him from the Cabinet in 1970 for publicly opposing the invasion of Cambodia. Hickel was a Huey Long-style populist socialist. "Private property," he told me, "is an artifact of the temperate zone; it just won't work for most of the planet."

But for a man averse to private property, he owned lots of it and hungered for more. He was undoubtedly Alaska's richest man and how he got it, and how he maneuvered to get more, with Nixon's help, and later, Palin's, was the reason I have been investigating him.

Indian Giver

I first met Hickel in his office at Hickel Investments atop his Captain Cook Hotel, the tallest building in Anchorage (by a regulation crafted by Hickel).

Thirty years ago, Hickel realized that his arctic dreams lay in Alaska's vast reserves of gas, oil, coal and lumber. But extracting and shipping those resources required removing a large obstacle: the land's ownership by Indians and Natives.

The US Congress recognized Native land rights in the original agreement to purchase Alaska from Russia and, in 1959, again acknowledged those rights, albeit reluctantly, when Alaska became America's 49th state.

Eyak Chief-for-Life Agnes Nichols, one of the
Natives who negotiated the land deal with Hickel.

Hickel, elected Alaska's second Governor in 1966, was driven crazy by the Natives' ownership of the land. He told me, "You can only claim title to land by conquest or purchase. Just because your granddaddy chased a moose across some property doesn't mean you own it."

However, Secretary of Interior Stewart Udall (who served both Kennedy and Johnson) protected Native land from Hickel and the oil companies. But then, in 1969, newly-elected President Richard Nixon gave Hickel Udall's job.

Unless the Natives ceded or sold their territory, billions of barrels of crude oil on Alaska's North Slope could not get to port through a pipeline proposed by a consortium led by British Petroleum and its junior partner, Exxon.

From inside the Nixon Cabinet and outside, Hickel successfully lobbied Congress for the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. But the BP/Exxon pipe required getting those Natives out of the way. And that required passage of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.

ANCSA contained a clause unique in US history: Rather than create reservations in which there would be a sovereign territory held for Natives in perpetuity, Alaskan Natives would be given shares of stock in a dozen or so corporations. The corporations, not the Natives, would own the land.

Most important, Because the land was corporate real estate, not reservation property it could be sold. And guess who was ready to buy it?

I met with Hickel the day Chenega Corporation of the Prince William Sound sold 90% of its land to Exxon and its Oil Spill Trust. I asked Hickel, seeing the Natives give up their land, if he had regrets about the Settlement Act and Chenega's sale.

"Yes," he said, "I made them an offer for that property myself; but I wouldn't pay them anything like what they are getting from the Exxon money."

Today, most of the Native Alaskan corporate land of the Prince William Sound is owned by people who don't live in Alaska. The remaining Natives are now tenants of the land their ancestors have lived on for 3,000 years.

Native leader Gail Evanoff told me, that was the plan from Day One. "They set it up for us to fail. They put it in a form they could take away."

Palin's Pipe

In 1973, the United State Senate authorized the Trans-Alaska Pipeline by a single vote.

To get that controversial law passed, R.O. Andersen, Chairman of ARCO Petroleum, now a part of British Petroleum, testified under oath that North Slope Alaska resources would be shipped exclusively to the US market, not Japan.

He and Governor Hickel also swore the oil pipe would not be followed by a gas pipeline on the same route.

Yet today, Yukon Pacific Corporation has begun work on that gas pipeline designed to ship liquefied fuel to Japan. For Sarah Palin, whose rise to Governor was engineered by Hickel, this was her greatest accomplishment in office: requiring the major oil companies to participate in Yukon Pacific's gas pipe project.

Yukon Pacific's founding investors were R.O. Andersen ...and Walter Hickel.

On Saturday, Governor Walter Hickel passed away. He was 90.
(c) 2010 Greg Palast is author of the New York Times bestseller, "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy." His investigations for BBC TV and Democracy Now! can be seen by subscribing to Palast's reports at. Greg Palast investigated the Exxon Valdez disaster for the Chucagh Native villages of Alaska's Prince William Sound.

How Many US Progressives Please The Right-Wing Israel Lobby?
By Ira Chernus

I was rather baffled by many of the comments to a column I posted last week. I offered what I thought was a modest and quite harmless suggestion: You should urge your representative in Congress to sign the Kind-Delahunt letter, which calls on the president to make strong efforts to move Israelis and Palestinians toward a two-state solution.

Oh no, no, said most of the commenters. Don't bother. Each had their own reason and their own particular way of phrasing their common conclusion, which I think I paraphrase accurately here: Any effort to pressure the U.S. government is wasted, because the U.S. will always support the policies of Israel, no matter how unjust. (Oh, and the author is a fool -- or worse -- some added.)

If the leaders of the "Israel right or wrong" lobby in Washington bother reading Common Dreams articles and the comments to them, they would surely have been pleased. That passive "why bother?" response is precisely what they are counting on to win another victory in Congress.

They'd be even more pleased if they knew how much the comments on my piece were typical of opinions one hears all the time on the left about the Israel-Palestine issue (which is the only reason I'm moved to make this response to the comments).

The right-wing Israel lobby and its supporters are desperate to prevent representatives from signing this letter and any like it. Their goal is to protect Israel from making any compromises, because that makes Israel look weak -- and it makes the lobby feel weak. There is only one agency in the world that can force Israel to make the compromises the lobby hopes to avoid: The United States government.

So the lobby opposes anything that might have even the slightest chance of shifting U.S. government policy. And it applauds anything that might help them avert a shift in U.S. policy.

Letters like the one now circulating in the House have no binding authority, but they have huge symbolic meaning to the right-wing lobby. The Lobby takes every signature on every such peace-oriented letter as a personal defeat. That means one more House district that the lobby can no longer count on controlling. To the lobby, this is dead serious stuff. So they oppose any and every sign of pressure, no matter how slight, on any and every member of Congress.

And they see an ally in anyone who -- for whatever reason -- chooses not to bother putting any pressure on their member of Congress. Which creates what politics so often creates, they say: Strange bedfellows; the right-wing Israel lobby snuggled up with so many progressive critics of Israel.

Obviously, those progressives write from vastly different motives than the right-wing lobby. And the progressives have no intention of helping the lobby. Their aid is given totally inadvertently. But it is aid nonetheless.

Perhaps the many progressives who offer such passionate criticism of Israel feel like they are doing something really active to help relieve the suffering of the Palestinians.

But try as I might, I cannot figure out what their positive strategy is -- what positive outcomes they aim at. I assume their conscious aim is to serve the Palestinian people by moving the Israeli government to stop its unjust policies.

How do these critics of Israel think their criticism will achieve that aim? Do they have some way to translate their shouts of "Israel is terrible, or does terrible things" into political action, or even policy proposals, which could actually move the Israelis to mitigate their injustices? If so, I don't see it. Perhaps it's there, somewhere, but too small to be seen?

Some of the critics do go on to make policy proposals, such as a one-state solution, cut off all military aid to Israel, boycott everything Israeli, etc. Perhaps some day those ideas will become reality. Lots of realities start off as seemingly far-fetched ideas.

The question I'd ask of those more policy-oriented critics is: How long should we ask the Palestinians to wait? If any of those policies are going to become reality, it won't be in the near future. That's for sure. No one with any power inside the administration is going to advocate for any of them. Nor is anyone in Congress -- not one legislator -- prepared to support such ideas publicly.

So as a practical matter, how does one turn those proposals into useful political tools that can serve to relieve the plight of the Palestinians rapidly? Because "rapidly" is the key point here. Again, how long do we ask the Palestinians to wait? How long will it be until the American left figures out how turn angry verbal outbursts into useful political action? So far, I don't see it happening. And I don't hear any answers to my questions.

It's the matter of urgency that moves me to advise playing the traditional political game, using the old fashioned "call your representative" method. There's certainly no guarantee that it will change U.S. policy. Not at all.

But should we believe that there is any chance at all of changing U.S. policy within the next few years? That's the question on which I and my critics differ. As I've explained, those who say "No" are in effect doing the work of the right-wing Israel lobby by promoting passivity from the left.

Those of us why say "Yes there is a chance," or at least act as if there were a chance, use a different political calculus. We figure it's simple math: If one route has no observable probability of reaching to a goal (in this case the rapid alleviation of Palestinian suffering), and another route has a small but more perceptible probability of reaching that goal, it's pretty obvious which route to choose.

And once you decide that there is a better chance (even if it's only a small chance) of reaching your goal through the traditional political system, then it's equally simple logic to decide that you should indeed play the old political game.

This is why I'm rather baffled. I hear from all these progressives who sincerely want to help the Palestinians, yet choose a path that has no perceivable way to help the Palestinians. At the very least, the other path -- an attack on the power of the right-wing Israel lobby in Congress -- will anger that lobby, not give them the passivity from the left that is their fondest wish.

Why would so many progressives choose to do just what their political opponents want them to do? And why would they chastise (sometimes scream at) those of us who suggest working through the system?

I've got no answers. I do understand that we all get emotional satisfaction from venting our anger when we see injustice. My concern is that the appeal of emotional satisfaction may be getting in the way of actually taking practical steps that might help people who desperately need our help. Might. No guarantees.

Only one thing is for certain: Merely continuing to vent anger with no way to turn it into real political change is guaranteed to have no practical results except for inadvertently doing exactly what the right-wing Israel lobby wants us to do, helping their efforts to prevent real change.

PS. For those who want to play the political game, there is still time to tell your House member to sign that Kind-Delahunt letter. But you'd better act fast. Today may be the last day to sign.
(c) 2010 Ira Chernus is Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Read more of his writing on Israel, Palestine, and American Jews at Contact him at

The Cartoon Corner...

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

To End On A Happy Note...

Rainbow In The Dark
By Dio

When there's lightning - you know it always bring me down
Cause it's free and I see that it's me
Who's lost and never found
I cry out for magic - I feel it dancing in the light
It was cold - Lost my hold
To the shadows of the night

There's no sign of the morning coming
You've been left on your own
Like a Rainbow in the Dark
Just a Rainbow in the Dark

Do your demons - well do they ever let you go
When you've tried - do they hide deep inside
Is it someone that you know
You're just a picture - we're an image caught in time
We're a lie - you and I
We're words without a rhyme

There's no sign of the morning coming
You've been left on your own
Like a Rainbow in the Dark
Just a Rainbow in the Dark

When I see lightning - you know it always brings me down
Cause it's free and I see that it's me
Who's lost and never found
I cry out for magic - feel it floating in the air
But it's fear - and you'll hear it
Calling you beware - Look Out

No sign of the morning coming
No sight of the day
You've been left on your own
Like a Rainbow
Just a Rainbow in the Dark
You're a Rainbow in the Dark
Just a Rainbow in the Dark
Just a Rainbow in the Dark
No sign of the morning coming
You're a Rainbow in the Dark
In the Dark
In the Dark
In the Dark
Just too many Rainbows
We're just a Rainbow in the Dark
(c) 1983/2010 Ronnie James Dio

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

How To Avoid Another Hung Parliament
Ban all political parties
By Terry Jones

If normal people can work together to make collective decisions, so could a set of unaffiliated MPs who care about public service.

Of course it has been terrifically exciting in politics since the election, and I don't want to be a spoilsport, but hasn't it also been a teeny-weeny bit embarrassing? The sight of our two major parties scurrying around Nick Clegg sent shudders of revulsion up my spine.

It didn't matter how much they'd ridiculed his policies before and during the election: once he held the key to power, they were cajoling and coaxing him and saying what a thoroughly nice chap he was. You suddenly glimpsed what, I assume all politicians know: that there is no shame in politics.

And so we ended up with a hung parliament. But there would be one simple way of avoiding hung parliaments in future, and that would be to abolish political parties. Simply make it illegal for any MP to collude with another MP.

At one stroke you would make all MPs more responsible to the people who elected them - their constituents. They would be forced to listen to what their constituents actually want, rather than brow-beating them into going along with the party line.

Heavens above! They might even be forced to concentrate more on local issues, and actually represent the constituency which they nowadays merely claim to represent.

You would end up with a parliament of individuals, all with individual voices. Wouldn't that be nice? I know, I know. You say, well, how on earth would these independent MPs ever get to form a government? How would 650 independent members ever manage to agree on a coherent set of policies or on anything?

Well, I would borrow a little device from our legal system. It's called a "jury". At the start of each parliamentary year, the 650 independent MPs would cast lots for who would be the government for that year. Say you limited the government to around 25 people: these 25 would then have to vote which of them was going to be prime minister, home secretary, foreign secretary, etc.

Everyone I've ever talked to who has served on a jury tells me that it is inspiring to see how ordinary people pull together and apply themselves to make sense of the legal arguments. So why should it be any different with politicians? Especially since these are not just ordinary members of the public, but people who have enough interest in politics to actually stand for election in the first place. They would be pre-screened, as it were.

Aristotle defined the rightful ruler as the ruler who acted in the interests of his people. A ruler who acted in his own narrow interests was automatically regarded as a tyrant. That was the definition which was applied in the Middle Ages, when inherited monarchy was seen as the least bad way of procuring a ruler who was not acting in his own interests.

Nowadays we simply cannot make such a choice. We have to vote for the candidates the parties present us with. These candidates have every reason - from ambition to cupidity - to act in their own interests. With the abolition of the parties, you would abolish high spending on advertising campaigns. The casting of lots for the actual members of the government would also defuse the ambition of members entering parliament, since they would be unable to manipulate themselves into positions of power. It would be all a question of luck.

And with the abolition of the parties we would never, ever have a hung parliament again. Simple.
(c) 2009 Terry Jones is a writer, film director, actor and Python.

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Issues & Alibis Vol 10 # 21 (c) 05/21/2010

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