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In This Edition

Noam Chomsky has more to say about, "Osama bin Laden’s Death."

Adam Keller joins us with, "Obama, Netanyahu And The 1967 Borders."

David Sirota declares, "Why We Need To Police The Police."

Ted Rall weighs, "The Evil Of Two Lessers."

Jim Hightower points out, "Big Oil's Un-American Selfishness."

Helen Thomas is all about, "Getting Our House In Order."

James Donahue examines, "China’s Growing Nuclear Submarine Fleet."

Greg Palast reports, "Strauss-Kahn Screws Africa."

Chris Floyd has some, "Quick Takes."

Mike Folkerth considers, "Social Engineering: Natural Or Normal?"

Paul Krugman explores, "When Austerity Fails."

Chris Hedges explains, "Why Liberal Sellouts Attack Prophets Like Cornel West."

Cynthia McKinney reporting from Tripoli on, "NATO's Feast Of Blood."

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor wins the coveted "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

John Nichols wonders, "Will The Voter Revolt Against Cuts (and Paul Ryan) Grab A New York House Seat From The GOP?"

Joel S. Hirschhorn says, "Thank You Cornel West."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Landover Baptist Church asks, "Why Is God Striking The Deep South?" but first, Uncle Ernie follows, "A Week In The Life."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Rob Rogers, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Derf City, Ted Rall, Mike Lester, Keith Tucker, DDees.Com, Liberty Gear, Chip Bok, Bob Englehart, You Tube.Com and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

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

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

A Week In The Life
By Ernest Stewart

“Israel is not a foreign occupier. Jews have been living in that land continuous­ly for over 3500 years. Arabs, on the other hand, are occupiers of the entire Middle East and North Africa, which they conquered through violence and colonized it with settlers.” (Applause.) ~~~ Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before Congress

"A man with a conviction is a hard man to change. Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts or figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point." ~~~ Leon Festinger

And then a little white shape looked down at me.
He said "Heaven is where you ought to be."
He said "Come with me, cause I know just what to do."
And I said, "Go away, I'll stay right here, with you, and you and you!"
Heaven And Hell ~~~ Ronnie James Dio

Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being round.
Help me, get my feet back on the ground,
Won't you please, please help me, help me, help me, ooooo.
Help ~~~ The Beatles

It's been one of those weeks for our beloved Fuhrer! First, he decided to be the great peace-bringer like George the lesser tried to be, but Israel wasn't buying his 1967 borders trial balloon. After a couple hours trying to convince Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to go along with his plan, and a news conference which plainly showed Netanyahu's displeasure, Barry was off to AIPAC to scrape and bow to his Israeli 5th columnist masters, while Bennie went before Congress to remind them where their million dollars checks come from, and make sure that Barry will get no support from Congress including the members of the Democratic majority in the Senate, who have all been bought and paid for by Israel -- amongst others.

Then it was off to Europe to make plans for the invasion of Pakistan. Barry's first stop was Ireland where the presidential limousine nicknamed "The Beast" got stuck in the driveway of the US Embassy in Dublin. Then it was off by chopper to a small Irish village of Moneygall to visit the site of his ancestors, and you probably thought he was from Kenya, huh? No, his evil white side is from Ireland!

Then Barry was off to England where he brought British Prime Minister David Cameron in line for their next adventure in Pakistan just as soon as the Libyan mop-up operation is finished. Then another round of scraping and bowing before the Queen and Prince Phillip, and then getting to meet Prince Willie and Princess Kate whose wedding Barry wasn't fit to attend -- being partially black and all and then learning that his code name for the visit is 'Chalaque,' which is a Punjabi word meaning someone who is too clever for his own good, or, in American, "Smart Ass." Scotland Yard insiders said that codewords are randomly generated by computer, but the Sunday Times "wondered why officials decided to stick with them, when they could have simply had another word selected that would be less provocative." Perhaps it was because the FBI gave the Queen the code name of "Big Bee-otch" on her last visit?

Next on the tour are stops in Poland to tell and learn a few good Polish jokes. Then it's off to France for another G-8 conference to divvy up the spoils of war between the member states and to get the members on board for the up-coming war with China which recently said that our planed invasion of Pakistan by the US, NATO, and India which would be considered an "Act of War" by Beijing! Still got those Y2K rations? You're going to need them, America -- real soon!

In Other News

I see where we've had another example of corpo-rat global warming way down yonder! The tornado that ripped apart Joplin, Missouri was spawned by corpo-rat global warning and is a vision of things to come and come and come again!

You have to wonder about the folks who chose to live in "Tornado Alley." I remember seeing on TV an interview with someone that had their house flattened in a Kansas town that was wiped out, and they said they were going to rebuild. Did I mention that this was the seventh time in nine years that the town had gotten hit by a tornado? No wonder insurance rates are so high! They get an "A" for being tenacious, but an "F" for good sense!

Oh, and for those of you who have survived nature's assault in various tornados and who are desperately awaiting help from FEMA, don't hold your breath as House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is holding FEMA hostage until he gets to destroy Medicare. No funds for the tornado victims until he gets his way. You folks might remember that come next election day! And for those of you in Joplin who voted Rethuglican last time you can now reap the devastation that you sewed!

The reason for this insanity is about the same as those mythological loonies who believe the world was coming to an end. You'd think that the empirical evidence was so overwhelming that both our weather and religious freaks would know better, but they both share a common trait.

A host of new discoveries in psychology and neuroscience has certainly demonstrated how our preexisting beliefs --far more than any new facts -- can skew our thoughts and even color what we consider our most dispassionate and logical conclusions. This reliance on “motivated reasoning” helps explain why we find the sheeple so polarized over matters where the evidence is so unequivocal, e. g., global warming, the rapture, the birthplace and religion of the President, Iraq was going to nuke us at any moment so we have to immediately invade, etc., etc., etc.. It seems that expecting people to be convinced by the facts flies in the face of....the facts.

This explains why the basic brainwashing that we all get from school, the church, the media, and mom and dad are so hard to overcome by Americans. Why the Matrix is so full of Sheeple who refuse to leave their nice warm nests of stupidity! You can pull them free and show them the truth, but at the first opportunity they'll rush back and plug themselves in, and there is nothing you can do about it! Zeus knows I've tried and tried to bring light into their darkness! Which explains why I've gone from trying to save the Sheeple from themselves to informing those who have already pulled themselves out of the Matrix and can think for themselves! Or as our mythological friends would say, "preaching to the already saved!" So any end-times preaching that comes from me will be based in reality, not religious fantasy! Can I get an awomen?

And Finally

Oh, and speaking of our mythologically-impaired friends, the reverend Harold Camping has, after careful consideration, come up with a new date for our doom -- why am I not surprised by this?

"We are not changing a date at all; we're just learning that we have to be a little more spiritual about this," said Harold, the 89-year-old founder of the global evangelizing Family Radio network in a 90-minute radio broadcast late Monday. Harold went on:

"But on October 21, the world will be destroyed. It won't be five months of destruction. It will come at once!"

Well, thank Zeus that he cleared that up! So at least I can wait until October 1st to purchase some earthquake insurance! I'm sure that those who thought they were Rapture-bound and were incredibly disappointed that the rest of us weren't already burning and living hideous, tormented lives can now cheer up and waggle their fingers at us for another five months. It's a pity that none of them have read the Book of Matthew -- something one would suppose that all these holy Joes would have done because if they had they'd know that Camping is full of sh*t! Something we Atheists have known all along! If you're a good christian and haven't read the bible here's what it says, Jesus said, about the rapture in Matthew 24: 36:

"But of that day and hour knoweth no [man], no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only."

So I'm only guessing that Camping isn't big J's father and hence Camping is just shearing the sheep from their bank accounts by pretending he does! (You may note that the "Family Radio network is a "dot com" as in commerce!) You'd think this cult of brain deads would have realized that by now but most all of them that've been interviewed are buying Harold's latest song and dance. As Thomas Tusser, a 16th Century British farmer, horticulturalist, chorister, musician and writer, once said, "A fool and his money are soon parted." Now, there's someone who knows what he's talking about!

Keepin' On

I'd like to thank Richard from New York for sending in a nice check! This is turning into a tradition, as Richard sends me the money that he used to contribute to the ACLU -- and who could blame him?

I gave up on the ACLU years ago for being too pusillanimous in the cases that they take. They say they're neutral -- I say, get out of the middle of the road. As old Jim Hightower is wont to say, "There's nothing in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos," and ain't it the truth!

If you want the truth and information to take a stand for you, a stand that won't change with the blowing of the wind, you might want to join Richard in keeping us fighting the good fight -- for you! Thanks again, Richard, we'll put that to good use!


03-11-1938 - 05-22-2011
Burn Baby Burn!


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


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

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

Osama bin Laden’s Death
There is Much More to Say
By Noam Chomsky

After the assassination of bin Laden I received such a deluge of requests for comment that I was unable to respond individually, and on May 4 and later I sent an unedited form response instead, not intending for it to be posted, and expecting to write it up more fully and carefully later on. But it was posted, then circulated.

That was followed but a deluge of reactions from all over the world. It is far from a scientific sample of course, but nevertheless, the tendencies may be of some interest. Overwhelmingly, those from the “third world” were on the order of “thanks for saying what we think.” There were similar ones from the US, but many others were infuriated, often virtually hysterical, with almost no relation to the actual content of the posted form letter. That was true in particular of the posted or published responses brought to my attention. I have received a few requests to comment on several of these. Frankly, it seems to me superfluous. If there is any interest, I’ll nevertheless find some time to do so.

The original letter ends with the comment that “There is much more to say, but even the most obvious and elementary facts should provide us with a good deal to think about.” Here I will fill in some of the gaps, leaving the original otherwise unchanged in all essentials.

Noam Chomsky
May 2011

* * * *

On May 1, 2011, Osama bin Laden was killed in his virtually unprotected compound by a raiding mission of 79 Navy Seals, who entered Pakistan by helicopter. After many lurid stories were provided by the government and withdrawn, official reports made it increasingly clear that the operation was a planned assassination, multiply violating elementary norms of international law, beginning with the invasion itself.

There appears to have been no attempt to apprehend the unarmed victim, as presumably could have been done by 79 commandos facing no opposition - except, they report, from his wife, also unarmed, who they shot in self-defense when she “lunged” at them (according to the White House).

A plausible reconstruction of the events is provided by veteran Middle East correspondent Yochi Dreazen and colleagues in the Atlantic. Dreazen, formerly the military correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, is senior correspondent for the National Journal Group covering military affairs and national security. According to their investigation, White House planning appears not to have considered the option of capturing OBL alive: “The administration had made clear to the military's clandestine Joint Special Operations Command that it wanted bin Laden dead, according to a senior U.S. official with knowledge of the discussions. A high-ranking military officer briefed on the assault said the SEALs knew their mission was not to take him alive.”

The authors add: “For many at the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency who had spent nearly a decade hunting bin Laden, killing the militant was a necessary and justified act of vengeance.” Furthermore, “Capturing bin Laden alive would have also presented the administration with an array of nettlesome legal and political challenges.” Better, then, to assassinate him, dumping his body into the sea without the autopsy considered essential after a killing, whether considered justified or not – an act that predictably provoked both anger and skepticism in much of the Muslim world.

As the Atlantic inquiry observes, “The decision to kill bin Laden outright was the clearest illustration to date of a little-noticed aspect of the Obama administration's counterterror policy. The Bush administration captured thousands of suspected militants and sent them to detention camps in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay. The Obama administration, by contrast, has focused on eliminating individual terrorists rather than attempting to take them alive.” That is one significant difference between Bush and Obama. The authors quote former West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, who “told German TV that the U.S. raid was ‘quite clearly a violation of international law’ and that bin Laden should have been detained and put on trial,” contrasting Schmidt with US Attorney General Eric Holder, who “defended the decision to kill bin Laden although he didn't pose an immediate threat to the Navy SEALs, telling a House panel on Tuesday that the assault had been ‘lawful, legitimate and appropriate in every way’.”

The disposal of the body without autopsy was also criticized by allies. The highly regarded British barrister Geoffrey Robertson, who supported the intervention and opposed the execution largely on pragmatic grounds, nevertheless described Obama’s claim that “justice was done” as an “absurdity” that should have been obvious to a former professor of constitutional law. Pakistan law “requires a colonial inquest on violent death, and international human rights law insists that the ‘right to life’ mandates an inquiry whenever violent death occurs from government or police action. The U.S. is therefore under a duty to hold an inquiry that will satisfy the world as to the true circumstances of this killing.” Robertson adds that “The law permits criminals to be shot in self-defense if they (or their accomplices) resist arrest in ways that endanger those striving to apprehend them. They should, if possible, be given the opportunity to surrender, but even if they do not come out with their hands up, they must be taken alive if that can be achieved without risk. Exactly how bin Laden came to be ‘shot in the head’ (especially if it was the back of his head, execution-style) therefore requires explanation. Why a hasty ‘burial at sea’ without a post mortem, as the law requires?”

Robertson attributes the murder to “America’s obsessive belief in capital punishment—alone among advanced nations—[which] is reflected in its rejoicing at the manner of bin Laden’s demise.” For example, Nation columnist Eric Alterman writes that “The killing of Osama bin Laden was a just and necessary undertaking.”

Robertson usefully reminds us that “It was not always thus. When the time came to consider the fate of men much more steeped in wickedness than Osama bin Laden -- namely the Nazi leadership -- the British government wanted them hanged within six hours of capture. President Truman demurred, citing the conclusion of Justice Robert Jackson that summary execution ‘would not sit easily on the American conscience or be remembered by our children with pride…the only course is to determine the innocence or guilt of the accused after a hearing as dispassionate as the times will permit and upon a record that will leave our reasons and motives clear’."

The editors of the Daily Beast comment that “The joy is understandable, but to many outsiders, unattractive. It endorses what looks increasingly like a cold-blooded assassination as the White House is now forced to admit that Osama bin Laden was unarmed when he was shot twice in the head.”

In societies that profess some respect for law, suspects are apprehended and brought to fair trial. I stress “suspects.” In June 2002, FBI head Robert Mueller, in what the Washington Post described as “among his most detailed public comments on the origins of the attacks,” could say only that “investigators believe the idea of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon came from al Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan, the actual plotting was done in Germany, and the financing came through the United Arab Emirates from sources in Afghanistan…. We think the masterminds of it were in Afghanistan, high in the al Qaeda leadership.” What the FBI believed and thought in June 2002 they didn’t know eight months earlier, when Washington dismissed tentative offers by the Taliban (how serious, we do not know) to extradite bin Laden if they were presented with evidence. Thus it is not true, as the President claimed in his White House statement, that “We quickly learned that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by al Qaeda.”

There has never been any reason to doubt what the FBI believed in mid-2002, but that leaves us far from the proof of guilt required in civilized societies – and whatever the evidence might be, it does not warrant murdering a suspect who could, it seems, have been easily apprehended and brought to trial. Much the same is true of evidence provided since. Thus the 9/11 Commission provided extensive circumstantial evidence of bin Laden’s role in 9/11, based primarily on what it had been told about confessions by prisoners in Guantanamo. It is doubtful that much of that would hold up in an independent court, considering the ways confessions were elicited. But in any event, the conclusions of a congressionally authorized investigation, however convincing one finds them, plainly fall short of a sentence by a credible court, which is what shifts the category of the accused from suspect to convicted. There is much talk of bin Laden's “confession,” but that was a boast, not a confession, with as much credibility as my “confession” that I won the Boston marathon. The boast tells us a lot about his character, but nothing about his responsibility for what he regarded as a great achievement, for which he wanted to take credit.

Again, all of this is, transparently, quite independent of one’s judgments about his responsibility, which seemed clear immediately, even before the FBI inquiry, and still does.

It is worth adding that bin Laden’s responsibility was recognized in much of the Muslim world, and condemned. One significant example is the distinguished Lebanese cleric Sheikh Fadlallah, greatly respected by Hizbollah and Shia groups generally, outside Lebanon as well. He too had been targeted for assassination: by a truck bomb outside a mosque, in a CIA-organized operation in 1985. He escaped, but 80 others were killed, mostly women and girls, as they left the mosque – one of those innumerable crimes that do not enter the annals of terror because of the fallacy of “wrong agency.” Sheikh Fadlallah sharply condemned the 9/11 attacks, as did many other leading figures in the Muslim world, within the Jihadi movement as well. Among others, the head of Hizbollah, Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah, sharply condemned bin Laden and Jihadi ideology.

One of the leading specialists on the Jihadi movement, Fawaz Gerges, suggests that the movement might have been split at that time had the US exploited the opportunity instead of mobilizing the movement, particularly by the attack on Iraq, a great boon to bin Laden, which led to a sharp increase in terror, as intelligence agencies had anticipated. That conclusion was confirmed by the former head of Britain’s domestic intelligence agency MI5 at the Chilcot hearings investigating the background for the war. Confirming other analyses, she testified that both British and US intelligence were aware that Saddam posed no serious threat and that the invasion was likely to increase terror; and that the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan had radicalized parts of a generation of Muslims who saw the military actions as an “attack on Islam.” As is often the case, security was not a high priority for state action.

It might be instructive to ask ourselves how we would be reacting if Iraqi commandos landed at George W. Bush's compound, assassinated him, and dumped his body in the Atlantic (after proper burial rites, of course). Uncontroversially, he is not a “suspect” but the “decider” who gave the orders to invade Iraq -- that is, to commit the “supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole” (quoting the Nuremberg Tribunal) for which Nazi criminals were hanged: in Iraq, the hundreds of thousands of deaths, millions of refugees, destruction of much of the country and the national heritage, and the murderous sectarian conflict that has now spread to the rest of the region. Equally uncontroversially, these crimes vastly exceed anything attributed to bin Laden.

To say that all of this is uncontroversial, as it is, is not to imply that it is not denied. The existence of flat earthers does not change the fact that, uncontroversially, the earth is not flat. Similarly, it is uncontroversial that Stalin and Hitler were responsible for horrendous crimes, though loyalists deny it. All of this should, again, be too obvious for comment, and would be, except in an atmosphere of hysteria so extreme that it blocks rational thought.

Similarly, it is uncontroversial that Bush and associates did commit the “supreme international crime,” the crime of aggression, at least if we take the Nuremberg Tribunal seriously. The crime of aggression was defined clearly enough by Justice Robert Jackson, Chief of Counsel for the United States at Nuremberg, reiterated in an authoritative General Assembly resolution. An “aggressor,” Jackson proposed to the Tribunal in his opening statement, is a state that is the first to commit such actions as “Invasion of its armed forces, with or without a declaration of war, of the territory of another State….” No one, even the most extreme supporter of the aggression, denies that Bush and associates did just that.

We might also do well to recall Jackson’s eloquent words at Nuremberg on the principle of universality: “If certain acts of violation of treaties are crimes, they are crimes whether the United States does them or whether Germany does them, and we are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we would not be willing to have invoked against us.” And elsewhere: “We must never forget that the record on which we judge these defendants is the record on which history will judge us tomorrow. To pass these defendants a poisoned chalice is to put it to our own lips as well.”

It is also clear that alleged intentions are irrelevant. Japanese fascists apparently did believe that by ravaging China they were laboring to turn it into an “earthly paradise.” We don’t know whether Hitler believed that he was defending Germany from the “wild terror” of the Poles, or was taking over Czechoslovakia to protect its population from ethnic conflict and provide them with the benefits of a superior culture, or was saving the glories of the civilization of the Greeks from barbarians of East and West, as his acolytes claimed (Martin Heidegger). And it’s even conceivable that Bush and company believed that they were protecting the world from destruction by Saddam’s nuclear weapons. All irrelevant, though ardent loyalists on all sides may try to convince themselves otherwise.

We are left with two choices: either Bush and associates are guilty of the “supreme international crime” including all the evils that follow, crimes that go vastly beyond anything attributed to bin Laden; or else we declare that the Nuremberg proceedings were a farce and that the allies were guilty of judicial murder. Again, that is entirely independent of the question of the guilt of those charged: established by the Nuremberg Tribunal in the case of the Nazi criminals, plausibly surmised from the outset in the case of bin Laden.

A few days before the bin Laden assassination, Orlando Bosch died peacefully in Florida, where he resided along with his terrorist accomplice Luis Posada Carilles, and many others. After he was accused of dozens of terrorist crimes by the FBI, Bosch was granted a presidential pardon by Bush I over the objections of the Justice Department, which found the conclusion “inescapable that it would be prejudicial to the public interest for the United States to provide a safe haven for Bosch. ”The coincidence of deaths at once calls to mind the Bush II doctrine, which has “already become a de facto rule of international relations,” according to the noted Harvard international relations specialist Graham Allison. The doctrine revokes “the sovereignty of states that provide sanctuary to terrorists,” Allison writes, referring to the pronouncement of Bush II that “those who harbor terrorists are as guilty as the terrorists themselves,” directed to the Taliban. Such states, therefore, have lost their sovereignty and are fit targets for bombing and terror; for example, the state that harbored Bosch and his associate -- not to mention some rather more significant candidates. When Bush issued this new “de facto rule of international relations,” no one seemed to notice that he was calling for invasion and destruction of the US and murder of its criminal presidents.

None of this is problematic, of course, if we reject Justice Jackson’s principle of universality, and adopt instead the principle that the US is self-immunized against international law and conventions -- as, in fact, the government has frequently made very clear, an important fact, much too little understood.

It is also worth thinking about the name given to the operation: Operation Geronimo. The imperial mentality is so profound that few seem able to perceive that the White House is glorifying bin Laden by calling him “Geronimo” -- the leader of courageous resistance to the invaders who sought to consign his people to the fate of “that hapless race of native Americans, which we are exterminating with such merciless and perfidious cruelty, among the heinous sins of this nation, for which I believe God will one day bring [it] to judgement,” in the words of the great grand strategist John Quincy Adams, the intellectual architect of manifest destiny, long after his own contributions to these sins had passed. Some did comprehend, not surprisingly. The remnants of that hapless race protested vigorously. Choice of the name is reminiscent of the ease with which we name our murder weapons after victims of our crimes: Apache, Blackhawk. Tomahawk,… We might react differently if the Luftwaffe were to call its fighter planes "Jew" and "Gypsy".

The examples mentioned would fall under the category “American exceptionalism,” were it not for the fact that easy suppression of one’s own crimes is virtually ubiquitous among powerful states, at least those that are not defeated and forced to acknowledge reality. Other current illustrations are too numerous to mention. To take just one, of great current significance, consider Obama’s terror weapons (drones) in Pakistan. Suppose that during the 1980s, when they were occupying Afghanistan, the Russians had carried out targeted assassinations in Pakistan aimed at those who were financing, arming and training the insurgents – quite proudly and openly. For example, targeting the CIA station chief in Islamabad, who explained that he “loved” the “noble goal” of his mission: to “kill Soviet Soldiers…not to liberate Afghanistan.” There is no need to imagine the reaction, but there is a crucial distinction: that was them, this is us.

What are the likely consequences of the killing of bin Laden? For the Arab world, it will probably mean little. He had long been a fading presence, and in the past few months was eclipsed by the Arab Spring. His significance in the Arab world is captured by the headline in the New York Times for an op-ed by Middle East/al Qaeda specialist Gilles Kepel; “Bin Laden was Dead Already.” Kepel writes that few in the Arab world are likely to care. That headline might have been dated far earlier, had the US not mobilized the Jihadi movement by the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq, as suggested by the intelligence agencies and scholarship. As for the Jihadi movement, within it bin Laden was doubtless a venerated symbol, but apparently did not play much more of a role for this “network of networks,” as analysts call it, which undertake mostly independent operations.

The most immediate and significant consequences are likely to be in Pakistan. There is much discussion of Washington's anger that Pakistan didn't turn over bin Laden. Less is said about the fury in Pakistan that the US invaded their territory to carry out a political assassination. Anti-American fervor had already reached a very high peak in Pakistan, and these events are likely to exacerbate it.

Pakistan is the most dangerous country on earth, also the world’s fastest growing nuclear power, with a huge arsenal. It is held together by one stable institution, the military. One of the leading specialists on Pakistan and its military, Anatol Lieven, writes that “if the US ever put Pakistani soldiers in a position where they felt that honour and patriotism required them to fight America, many would be very glad to do so.” And if Pakistan collapsed, an “absolutely inevitable result would be the flow of large numbers of highly trained ex-soldiers, including explosive experts and engineers, to extremist groups.” That is the primary threat he sees of leakage of fissile materials to Jihadi hands, a horrendous eventuality.

The Pakistani military have already been pushed to the edge by US attacks on Pakistani sovereignty. One factor is the drone attacks in Pakistan that Obama escalated immediately after the killing of bin Laden, rubbing salt in the wounds. But there is much more, including the demand that the Pakistani military cooperate in the US war against the Afghan Taliban, whom the overwhelming majority of Pakistanis, the military included, see as fighting a just war of resistance against an invading army, according to Lieven.

The bin Laden operation could have been the spark that set off a conflagration, with dire consequences, particularly if the invading force had been compelled to fight its way out, as was anticipated. Perhaps the assassination was perceived as an “act of vengeance,” as Robertson concludes. Whatever the motive was, it could hardly have been security. As in the case of the “supreme international crime” in Iraq, the bin Laden assassination illustrates that security is often not a high priority for state action, contrary to received doctrine.
(c) 2011 Noam Chomsky is emeritus professor of linguistics and philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is co-author, with Gilbert Achcar, of Perilous Power: The Middle East & U.S. Foreign Policy: Dialogues on Terror, Democracy, War, and Justice. His most recent book is Gaza In Crisis.

Obama, Netanyahu And The 1967 Borders
By Adam Keller

President Obama has made his long awaited speech and uttered the magic number which some hoped and other dreaded that he would mention – Nineteen Hundred Sixty Seven. And Prime Minister Netanyahu retorted with an angry outburst and total denunciation and rejection of the 1967 borders. Israel's newspapers all came out with banner headlines proclaiming "Confrontation!" and "Collision Course!". In the evening, Obama and Netahayhu met at the White House and made a rather pale effort to paper over the cracks and present the TV cameras with a friendly, smiling, hand-shaking façade – what today's Wall Street Journal called "The most undiplomatic moments of international diplomacy ever offered for cameras."

From the shallow perspective of 48 hours after the speech, how are we to gauge it? A historical breakthrough? A tawdry, soon forgotten media gimmick? Or something in between?


It is already many years since the idea of a Palestinian state has become almost universally accepted in Israel, excluding only a thin layer of extreme-right diehards. Several Israeli Prime Ministers in succession talked of the creation of a Palestinian state as a positive and desirable event, notably including Binyamin Netanyahu who announced his adherence to the idea in the celebrated Bar Ilan Speech, soon after getting to power in 2009. Yet, with virtually everybody agreeing, the State of Palestine did not come into being and with every passing year it became more doubtful that it ever would.

The State of Palestine, as mainstream Israeli politicians conceive of it, lacks two ingredients indispensable for a theoretical state to become a real entity in the real world – namely, space and time. Israeli politicians – even and especially the more right-wing of them – would have been overjoyed to recognize a supposedly independent state embracing the present areas of the Palestinian Authority, a collection of isolated enclaves surrounded on all sides by Israeli settlements and military camps. Others, slightly more generous, were willing to grant the Palestinians a bit more territory, making for some territorial continuity – but still with Israel retaining control of the Jordan Valley, which constitutes at least thirty percent of the West Bank. And controlling the Jordan Valley, Israel could and would control all of Palestine's contact with the outside world, all entry and exit of persons and goods – in effect, a larger replication of the situation of siege which Gaza had been enduring for the past five years, (without even a sea shore which international relief flotillas could try to reach at great risk).

When Palestinians expressed a marked lack of enthusiasm for having a state so delimited and constrained, successive Israeli governments had a ready answer: "Let's talk about it". Negotiations, an ongoing Peace Process with glittering photo opportunities and handshakes, were good for Israel's international image, deflecting pressures and distracting attention from unsavory brutality and the ongoing creation of settlement accomplished facts on the ground. Reaching an agreement, not to mention its actual implementation, were an entirely different issue. Much better to avoid or fritter away any definite timetables and target dates (as was the fate of the late, lamented Road Map for Peace, which set 2005 as the time for a final status agreement between Israelis and Palestinians).

Anyway, the Israeli side increasingly reiterated that talking was in essence theoretical, as in fact there was "no partner" and the time was "not ripe". For example, the negotiations carried out for more than two year by PM Ehud Olmert and his Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni were explicitly aimed at producing a "shelf agreement", which would be duly signed and then placed on a shelf to gather dust until conditions for its implementation "ripened". The reasons for there being no partner and conditions being unripe constantly shifted, PM's s and their aides and PR experts showing considerable ingenuity and creativity: Because Yasser Arafat was an arch terrorist and because his successor Abu Mazen was a powerless "chick without feathers"; because the Palestinians were divided with rival government in Ramallah and Gaza or because they had reached a reconciliation to which one party included terrorists; because the surrounding Arab World was ruled by dictators which did not represent their peoples, or because the Arab World had become unstable and engulfed by popular revolts and demands for democracy.

The demand for Israel to freeze the process of settlement creation on the West Bank, clearly made in Obama's first major Middle East speech in Cairo and placed at center stage in his administration earlier efforts at peace making, actually served Netanyahu as a new ploy to endlessly delay and put off the substantive issues. Instead of talking about where Palestine would have its borders and when Palestine would come into being, there was an endless wrangle over whether settlement construction would be or would not be frozen, for exactly how many months, which exceptions would be tacitly or explicitly tolerated , and whether or not the freeze would apply to East Jerusalem.

It might have been different had Obama proven able and willing to put strong and unequivocal pressure on Netanyahu, to freeze settlement construction without further ado. But such was not the case – there were two years of struggles, ups and downs and confrontations and confrontations and sensational headlines in the Israeli media. Obama did apply some pressure, but Netanyahu proved able to apply counter-pressures in the American politics, playing on the Democratic Party shaky position in the 2010 mid-term elections. In the end, Obama gave up the point and ceased further efforts to enforce a settlement freeze. In the international arena, Netanyahu was saddled with responsibility for the collapse of the talks, but evidently considered this an acceptable price. Obama's less than glorious record in implementing what he proclaimed at Cairo two years ago should certainly be taken into account in assessing what he announced at Washington two days ago.

It was while Obama unsuccessfully grappled with settlement construction that Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad – probably the least charismatic leader in Palestinian history – conceived of a way to break out of the futile game of endless negotiations and negotiations about negotiations. In effect, Palestinians would take a leaf from Israel's own book and start creating accomplished facts of their own and fill in the blanks left by the recalcitrant Israeli politicians. Whether or not Israel liked it, Palestine would arise at a specified time, September 2011, and within specified borders, the 1967 borders.

Fayyad spoke openly and in detail about his plan – gathering international support for a crucial recognition vote at the UN, while building up state institutions on the ground and (to a limited degree) supporting unarmed protests and demonstrations by Palestinian villagers confronting Israeli soldiers and settlers.

It was a considerable time before Palestinians in general started to take seriously Fayyad's plan, and even longer before Israelis and the rest of the world followed suit. Eventually, however, the Israeli political and military establishment started to take seriously indeed what Defence Minister Barak termed "The Diplomatic Tsunami" awaiting Israel in September.

Nethanyahu has obvious reasons to dislike the idea of the Palestinians going to the UN to ask for recognition of a Palestine in the 1967 borders, rather than going on waiting for Godot. He and his emissaries had been frantically running around European capitals – Berlin, Prague, London, Paris, Rome – trying with mixed success to get governments to oppose the Palestinian drive in the UN. It was to culminate with getting himself invited to make a speech at the US Congress – more of a home ground then virtually any other place in the world – and effectively pose a threat to Obama in the arena of internal US politics, gearing up towards the 2012 Presidential race.

Obama obviously disliked Netanyahu's plalnned expedition to Capitol Hill. But he also had his own reasons for disliking the Palestinian approach to the United Nations. Because the US, under whatever President, is used to controlling world events and using the UN as its subservient tool, and does not take kindly to somebody else trying to usurp that tool. And because a Palestinian statehood resolution in the UN might face Obama with the problematic choice of casting a veto – and finding the US in international isolation – or not vetoing and then facing the fury of Netanyahu's friends on Congress.

Obama already faced that dilemma in February, when the Palestinians presented the Security Council with a resolution condemning settlement construction, and the US emerged battered from having cast its veto, solitary against the unanimous Yes vote of all other fourteen members of the Security Council, including the United States' European allies. That was, in effect, the dress rehearsal for the expected September vote. With the real thing, the stakes would be far higher, the consequences from any US decision might be drastic and far-reaching indeed. All the more so with the Middle East in a state of revolutionary flux whose outcome none can predict with any certainty and with young Palestinians increasingly and effectively taking up the methods of grassroots organizing via Facebook, as they did on Nakba Day a week ago.

Clearly, Obama's interest lay in trying to preempt the Palestinian diplomatic offensive – and also Netanyahu's Washington venture. Hence, a high-profile policy speech on the Middle East, setting up a supposedly attractive alternative for the Palestinians, delivered just ahead of Netahyahu's arrival in the American capital and relying on Obama's strong position in American public opinion following the killing of Bin Laden. All of which meshed quite well with the need to present a clear formulation of the administration's policy towards the revolutionary upsurge in the Arab World, a policy often charged with being incoherent and self-contradictory.


Given all the above, what is Obama offering the Palestinians in exchange for halting the drive towards their appointment with the UN in September? What inducement can they have for once again taking up, instead, the route of negotiations – a route discredited by eighteen years of bitter experience since Oslo? Taking the speech at face value, it can be said to include several conspicuous inducements, the most obvious being that magic number – 1967. "The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states."

"Negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt." (A Palestinian border with Jordan means no permanent Israeli rule in the Jordan Valley, an outspoken Netahyahu demand).

"Palestinians should know the territorial outlines of their state."

Also the question of timing is addressed in a very coherent way: "There are those who argue that with all the change and uncertainty in the region, it is simply not possible to move forward now" (Netanyahu is conspicuous among those who so argue). "I disagree. At a time when the people of the Middle East and North Africa are casting off the burdens of the past, the drive for a lasting peace that ends the conflict and resolves all claims is more urgent than ever". " The international community is tired of an endless process that never produces an outcome". "The status quo is unsustainable, and Israel too must act boldly to advance a lasting peace." With all of that, Palestinians would still have every reason to feel suspicious of Netanyahu. Even were he to officially accept the 1967 borders as the basis for the negotiations, there is every reason to suspect that once "Resumption of the Peace Process" is publicly proclaimed in a new ceremony and photo opportunity, he would find dozens of ways to wriggle out. For example, accept the principle of "mutually agreed swaps" but in practice lay claim to large tracts of fertile West Bank land, complete with underground water sources, and offer in exchange tiny bits of desert land with not a single drop of water. (That is what Ehud Barak, Netanyahu's Defense Minister, did when he was PM himself in 2000 – a major reason for the disastrous collapse of the Camp David Summit.) Or Netanyahu could make use of Obama's numerous references to Israel's security in order to make demands in practice nullifying the sovereignty of Palestine and amounting to de-facto continued occupation.

Netanyahu could have placed the Palestinians on the horns of a difficult dilemma by agreeing to the principle of the 1967 borders, and agreeing to arrive at the negotiating table on this basis. But he chose not to. He chose the very opposite course – declaring outspokenly his complete and utter rejection of the 1967 "indefensible" borders (actually, on the one occasion when it came to a test, Israel defended itself splendidly from within these borders…). A vehement rejection of 1967, made from Jerusalem immediately upon hearing the speech, and reiterated at the White House while being seated at the President's side, and likely to be reiterated once again on Capitol Hill – in effect asking US Senators and Representatives to choose between their President and the Prime Minister of Israel.

It has been argued that accepting the 1967 lines – however insincerely – might cause Netanyahu serious trouble in his ruling coalition, even a rebellion by nationalist hardliners within his own Likud Party. This is likely true, but it is not necessarily all. To the extent that any politician can be said to be acting out of sincere convictions, Binyamin Netanyahu seems to be acting sincerely now. An adherent of Greater Israel, born and bred, he had been ready to dissemble and make tactical moves and seeming concessions. No more, it seems.

So, what next? Given the events of the past two days, the most likely prediction would be: more of the same. Calls by the United States and the international Quartet for a resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, which would go unheeded, as with Netanyahu's rejection of the 1967 borders there would be no common basis for negotiations – and given his record up to date, Obama would not be able to compel Netanayhu to change his fundamental position. And there would be more intransigent declarations and intransigent actions by the Government of Israel, violent confrontations of all kinds in various times and places (the next relief flotilla to Gaza is due within a month), an increasing international isolation of Israel and an increasing polarization inside Israel. A continued Palestinian drive to build up support in the UN. And finally, the September showdown coming, with no viable alternative offered, and Obama still facing the dilemma he wanted to avoid – to veto or not to veto. And then?
© 2011 Adam Keller is an Israeli peace activist who was among the founders of Gush Shalom, of which he is a spokesperson.

Why We Need To Police The Police
Cops don't like it, but cellphone videos are an important check on brutality
By David Sirota

What's good for the police apparently isn't good for the people -- or so the law enforcement community would have us believe when it comes to surveillance.

That's a concise summary of a new trend first reported by National Public Radio last week -- the trend whereby law enforcement officials have been trying to prevent civilians from using cellphone cameras in public places as a means of deterring police brutality.

Oddly, the effort -- which employs both forcible arrests of videographers and legal proceedings against them -- comes at a time when the American Civil Liberties Union reports that "an increasing number of American cities and towns are investing millions of taxpayer dollars in surveillance camera systems."

Then again, maybe it's not odd that the two trends are happening simultaneously. Maybe they go hand in hand. Perhaps as more police officers use cameras to monitor every move we make, they are discovering the true power of video to independently document events. And as they see that power, they don't want it turned against them.

But wait -- why not?

Though you'd expect that uncomfortable question to evoke dissembling, Fraternal Order of Police spokesman Jim Pasco was quite straightforward about it.

Police officers, he told NPR, "need to move quickly, in split seconds, without giving a lot of thought to what the adverse consequences for them might be." He added that law enforcement authorities believe "that anything that's going to have a chilling effect on an officer moving -- an apprehension that he's being videotaped and may be made to look bad -- could cost him or some citizen their life."

Obviously, nobody wants to stop officers from doing their much-needed job (well, nobody other than budget-cutting politicians who are slashing police forces). In fact, organizations such as the NAACP have urged citizens to videotape police precisely to make sure police are doing ALL of their job -- including protecting individuals' civil liberties.

This is not some academic or theoretical concern, and video recording is not a needless exercise in Bill of Rights zealotry. The assault on civil liberties in America is a very real problem and monitoring police is absolutely required in light of recent data.

As USA Today reported under the headline "Police brutality cases on rise since 9/11," situations "in which police, prison guards and other law enforcement authorities have used excessive force or other tactics to violate victims' civil rights increased 25 percent" between 2001 and 2007. Last year alone, more than 1,500 officers were involved in excessive force complaints, according to the National Police Misconduct Statistics and Reporting Project.

Considering this, Pasco has it exactly wrong. We should want more officers feeling "apprehension" about breaking civil liberties laws, we should hope more of them "give a lot of thought to what the adverse consequences" will be if they trample someone's rights and we should crave an immediate "chilling effect" on such violations.

That's what the practice of cellphone recording is supposed to do -- not mimic the national security state's Big Brother culture, but prevent that security state from trampling our freedoms.

Law enforcement officials, of course, don't like the cellphone cameras because they don't want any check on police power. So they've resorted to fear-mongering allegations about lost lives. But the only police officers who are threatened by cellphone cameras are those who want to break civil liberties laws with impunity. The rest have nothing to worry about and everything to gain from a practice that simply asks them to remember the all-too-forgotten part of their "protect and serve" motto -- the part about protecting the public's civil rights.
(c) 2010 David Sirota is the author of the best-selling books "Hostile Takeover" and "The Uprising." He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado and blogs at E-mail him at David Sirota is a former spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee.

The Evil Of Two Lessers
By Ted Rall

Two-Party System Is Not Democracy.

We get the government we deserve.

Don’t get mad at the politicians! It’s your/our fault. You/we elected them.

Most Americans accept these aphorisms. Yet they are lies—lies that distract us from the fact that our political system is a farce. Really, we should get rid of this phony two-party “democracy.” And we will. In the meantime, we ought to ignore it.

The two-party system made simple:

Two worthless scoundrels are on the ballot.

If you vote for one of them, a worthless scoundrel will win.

If you don’t vote, a worthless scoundrel will win.

It’s a pretty unappealing sales pitch. How did it last 200 years?

The two-party system, a political mutation unanticipated by the Constitution and dreaded by the Founding Fathers, mainly relies on the “lesser of two evils” argument.

Next year, for example, many liberals will hold their noses and vote for Obama even though he has not delivered for them. They will do this to try to avoid winding up with someone “even worse”: Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney, etc.

Conservatives will do the same thing. They will vote for Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney or whomever—even though they know full well they won’t come through with smaller government or a balanced budget—because Obama is “even worse.”

The two-party system is a sick game. Many citizens, realizing this, opt out by not voting. Others resort to negative voting.

In 2008 one out of three Republican voters told pollsters they were voting against Obama, not for McCain. Out in five Democrats voted against McCain, not for Obama.

A quarter of all votes cast in 2008 were “negative votes.” Thirty-eight percent of voters in the 2010 midterm elections crossed party lines from D to R “to send a message.”

To “get the government they deserve,” as master curmudgeon H.L. Mencken asserted, we would have to have a wide choice of options on the ballot. Two is pathetic.

Two parties isn’t even a facsimile of democracy.

Would you shop at a store that only offered two books? Two kinds of cereal? Two models of computers? Two brands of computer?

What about third parties? The Dems and Reps conspire to block the Greens, Libertarians, etc. with insurmountable obstacles. Minor parties can’t get campaign financing, ballot access, media coverage, or seats at presidential debates. So they rarely win.

“With a single elected president if you’re going to have a chance to win the states, which are all awarded on a winner-take-all basis, again you don’t have a chance,” John Bibby, University of Wisconsin professor and co-author of the book, “Two Parties—Or More? The American Party System” told PBS in 2004. “The incentive is to form broad-based parties that have a chance to win in the Electoral College.”

The argument that we, the people, are somehow to blame for the failings of “our politicians” is absurd. Even partisans of the two major parties are substantially dissatisfied with the nominees who emerge from the primary system.

Politics is not what happens on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Real politics is the process of arguing about how we want to live. In America that happens over dinner with our families, over drinks with our friends, over the water cooler at work (if you still have a job).

What happens on Election Day is a circus, a farcical distraction meant to siphon away the vitality of real politics.

Real politics is dangerous. Real politics, as we saw in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, can actually change things.

The two-party system is a twisted con based on fear. If you don’t vote for Party A then Party B, which is slightly more evil, will win. If “your” Party A wins, all you get is the dubious, incremental pseudo-victory of somewhat less suckiness. But Party A gets something infinitely more valuable: political legitimacy and the right to claim a mandate for policies that you mostly dislike.

“Hey, you elected them.”

“You got the government you deserve.”

Not at all.

It’s a terrible, lopsided bargain. You get little to nothing. They use your vote to justify their policies:

No jobs.

One war after another.

Wasting your tax dollars.


More pollution.

(Notice: I didn’t specify which party. Compared to the vast spectrum of possible politics from left to right, which encompasses such ideologies as communism, socialism, left libertarianism, right libertarianism, fascism, etc., the Dems and Reps are more similar than different.)

Until there’s a revolution we’re stuck with these jokers. But that doesn’t mean we have to pay attention.
Ted Rall is the author of the new books "Silk Road to Ruin: Is Central Asia the New Middle East,?" and "The Anti-American Manifesto."

Big Oil's Un-American Selfishness

The big five of Big Oil might want to mull over a bit of advice that baseball great Ted Williams once offered to rookies: "If you don't think too good, don't think too much."

Apparently, the chieftains of BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Shell thought that a bit of gruff, CEO bluster would be just the thing to brush back public anger over the industry's all-star avarice and arrogance. Bad thinking.

Last week, the head of these multibillion-dollar behemoths, pumped up on narcissism, strode into a U.S. Senate hearing room and took wild swings at a bill titled: "Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes." In a time of $4-a-gallon gasoline, stratospheric rises in petro profits, and a federal budget deficit severe enough that Republicans have called for killing Medicare, the spark that exploded the public's fury at oil giants was the revelation that the big five are on the government dole, drawing more than $2 billion a year in corporate welfare payments.

Exxon's top exec flailed at the bill, absurdly labeling it "discriminatory." Next up was Shell's man, who feigned almost-comic outrage at the notion that our nation's budget deficit should be reduced "by taking more from the few," as though he was unaware that "the few" in question are notorious tax dodgers, paying little or nothing on their enormous profits. Wildest of all though was Conoco's chief, Jim Mulva, who inflamed senators and insulted the public by calling the bill "un-American."

No, Mr. Mulva, what's un-American is that you five clueless CEOs expect to haul in $100 billion in profits this year, yet you're whining that you should be given $2 billion in special tax breaks, even as little kids are being cut-off from Head Start and the GOP threatens to take Medicare away from Grandma. Start thinking about someone besides your sorry selves
(c) 2011 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition.

Getting Our House In Order
By Helen Thomas

No one likes it, but for the country to keep paying our national debts and to uphold American living standards, we need to raise taxes, especially on the millionaires and billionaires.

Let's face it: There's no free lunch in America these days. These are hard times. Unemployment is at 9 percent. My solution to earn billions back for the United States Treasury is for us to get out of these no-win wars. Let's save American, Iraqi, Afghani and Yemeni lives. The U.S. can do more good when it gets its own house in order.

For more than eight years, former President George W. Bush falsified reasons for invading Iraq and to this day has not explained the reason why we went to war. Bush is lucky that he has not been held accountable for the war, which has no end in sight.

The murder of Osama bin Laden is a green light to get out of Afghanistan. We've exposed the breach in friendship with Pakistan, and we should stop the wanton drone attacks on civilians. The Pakistanis want only our billions. By not notifying the Pakistanis in advance during our attack on Osama, we humiliated their secret police and military. That could be unforgivable for any country. It showed a lack of trust, to put it mildly.

But back to our debt problem. A tax increase is always unpalatable, especially with the upcoming 2012 elections. Tough! Something's gotta give.

Don't waste your sympathy on the politicians - especially the Republicans - and the Wall Street profiteers who put us in this fiscal predicament. The GOP on Capitol Hill wants to destroy much of our public assistance programs. The Republicans are proposing vouchers to replace Medicare, a government program that works and has worked since 1965. They should lay off. We all have to pay higher taxes - that's the reality if we want to have public education, mass transit, libraries, national parks and all of the other needs for a decent sharing society. Our moral compass demands that.

A tax boost is happily being avoided by both parties for the time being. But the day of reckoning is coming, and the GOP and Democratic leaders will have to face the music. The Democrats who still control the Senate have been unable to draft an alternative agenda that tackles the fiscal problems. Both parties are suffering from internal dissention on how to reduce the deficit. But raising taxes is inevitable. There has always been a struggle over the deficit, but this time both parties seem to have hardened their positions.

The politicians on both sides of the aisle should be thinking about the country and not themselves. As John F. Kennedy said, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., chairman of the House Budget Committee, is new at this game, and as popular as a skunk at the proverbial garden party.

President Barack Obama has stayed outside of the fray, but he has his eyes on his re-election plans. At some point he has to take a strong stand. Fish or cut bait.

There is no question that both sides are worried over whether to slash spending or raise taxes, but time is running out for an agreement on an increase of the debt ceiling. Otherwise bankruptcy looms for the nation.

To ease the pain, let's not call it a tax increase. It might be preferable to resort to first President Bush's words, by calling the hikes "enhanced revenue."

It's time for the deep pockets to give back to the country instead of giving to their special interests. It's time for the American industry to innovate in this country instead of looking for cheap products and labor abroad. Hear that U.S. Chamber of Commerce?

If the U.S. fails financially, China will overcome us.

Charity begins at home, which is in dire need to keep up with our obligations. Obama has to step up to the plate with government programs to provide jobs. Republicans have to stop picking on government workers wages and pensions. Teachers affect eternity. Exactly what do the Republicans value in this country?

They may find the American people may make a distinction between the rich and the poor and why - at the polls in 2012.
(c) 2011 Helen Thomas is a columnist for the Falls Church News-Press. Among other books she is the author of Front Row At The White House: My Life and Times.

Type 095 Chinese Nuclear Sub

China’s Growing Nuclear Submarine Fleet
By James Donahue

It was in the fall of 2007 that the U. S. Navy, while conducting fleet exercises surrounding the 1,000-foot super carrier USS Kitty Hawk in the Northern Pacific, was dumbstruck when a Chinese Song Class diesel-electric attack submarine surfaced unexpectedly in the midst of a vast naval armada of U. S. ships.

The incident proved to be a major embarrassment for the Pentagon. Somehow the Chinese submarine had managed to slip through the US Navy’s security system and come within range for launching torpedoes or missiles at the carrier. Before this happened, the Americans had no idea that China’s submarine fleet had reached this level of sophistication, or that it posed this level of a threat.

That lone Chinese submarine had blatantly slipped undetected past at least a dozen other American warships, including at least two other submarines, that were surrounding and supposedly screening any possible assault on the Kitty Hawk.

Why would the Chinese navy do such a thing? Some analysts think Beijing was sending a message that its rapidly-growing military and naval power has the capability of threatening any foreign power that attempts to interfere in its back yard.

Indeed, that particular naval exercise may have been construed by China as occurring in its back yard. It happened in the Pacific, somewhere off Taiwan, an island nation that China continues to claim to be part of its own.

So just how big has China’s submarine fleet become in recent years? Common belief has been that the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s submarine fleet has been confined to 13 Song Class diesel-electric submarines and at least two nuclear-missile launching vessels.

But China has since conducted a public unveiling of its new class of nuclear submarines and has begun to show its muscle as a sea power in the world. The Chinese Navy participated in an attack on pirates operating off the coast of Somalia and in March, 2009, there was a serious confrontation between the Chinese and US Navies in the South China Sea. The latter involved an underwater listening device towed behind the USS Impeccable. China called this a violation of international law because it was done in Chinese jurisdictional waters.

Also in May, 2008, The Daily Telegraph of London published aerial photographs the newspaper claimed showed ongoing construction of a major underground facility on the southern tip of Hainan Island which is designed to harbor nuclear ballistic missile submarines and other warships, including carriers.

“Of even greater concern to the Pentagon are massive tunnel entrances, estimated to be 60 feet high, built into hillsides around the base. Sources fear they could lead to caverns capable of hiding up to 20 nuclear submarines from spy satellites,” the Telegraph story said.

The aerial photographs showed one of China’s newest 094 nuclear submarines among numerous other warships moored at long jettys at the Sanya base.

The story said the US Department of Defense estimated in 2008 that “China will have five 094 nuclear submarines operational by 2010 with each capable of carrying 12 JL-2 nuclear missiles.”

At that time the Chinese Navy was estimated to have 225,000 personnel and as many as 70 submarines. Ten of these were believed to be nuclear powered. There were about 72 other combat ships.

China has continued to invest heavily in its navy and is quickly becoming a world super power at sea.
(c) 2011 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.

Strauss-Kahn Screws Africa
By Greg Palast

Now that I've dispensed with the obvious and obnoxious teaser headline, let's drop the towel and expose Dominique Strauss-Kahn's history of arrogant abuse. The truth is, the grandee of the IMF has molested Africans for years.

On Wednesday, the New York Times ran five – count'em, FIVE – stories on Strauss-Kahn, Director-General of the International Monetary Fund. According to the Paper of Record, the charges against "DSK," as he's known in France, are in "contradiction" to his "charm" and "accomplishments" at the IMF.

Au contraire, mes chers lecteurs.

Director-General DSK's cruelty, arrogance and impunity toward African and other nations as generalissimo of the IMF is right in line with the story told by the poor, African hotel housekeeper in New York City.

Let's consider how the housekeeper from Guinea ended up here in New York. In 2002, this single mother was granted asylum. What drove her here?

It began with the IMF rape of Guinea.

In 2002, the International Monetary Fund cut off capital inflows to this West African nation. Without the blessing of the International Monetary Fund, Guinea, which has up to half the world's raw material for aluminum, plus oil, uranium, diamonds and gold, could not borrow a dime to develop these resources.

The IMF's cut-off was, in effect, a foreclosure, and the nation choked and starved while sitting on its astonishing mineral wealth. As in the sub-prime mortgage foreclosures we see today, the IMF moved quickly to seize Guinea's property.

But the IMF did not seize this nation's riches for itself. Rather, it forced Guinea to sell off its resources to foreign corporations at prices much like the sale of furniture on the lawn of a foreclosed house.

The French, Americans, Canadians, Swiss (and lately, the Chinese) came in with spoons out and napkins tucked in under their chins, swallowing the nation's bauxite, gold and more. In the meantime, the IMF ordered the end of trade barriers and thereby ruined local small holders.

As a result of the IMF attack, Guineans who could, fled for freedom and food. This week, then, marked the second time this poor African was molested by the IMF.

Now we have the context of how these two, the randy geezer of globalization and the refugee ended up, in quite different positions, in that New York hotel room.

Since taking over the IMF in 2007, erstwhile "Socialist" Strauss-Kahn has tightened the screws in an attempt to maintain the free-market finance mania that ruined this planet in the first place. [That's worth a story in itself – and that's coming. Our team has a stack of inside documents from the IMF that we will be releasing in my new book in the Fall.]

DSK's lawyers say the relationship with the housekeeper was "consensual." But DSK says that about all IMF agreements with nations over whom it holds life and death powers. That's like saying a bank robbery is consensual so long as you don't consider the gun.

Whether it was agreed-upon sex or brutal rape, it could only have been "consensual" in the same way that the people of Guinea consented to IMF-ordered financial rapine.

The Times article quotes an IMF crony of Strauss-Kahn saying DSK gets his way by "persuasion" not "bullying." Tell that to the Greeks.

It was DSK who, last year, personally insisted on brutal terms for the so-called bail-out of Greece. "Strong conditionality" is the IMF term. Strauss-Kahn demanded not just a devastating cut in pensions and a deliberate increase in unemployment to 14%, but also the sell-off of 4,000 of 6,000 state-owned services. The DSK IMF plan allowed the financiers who set the financial fires of Greece to pick up the nation's assets at a fire-sale price.

The Strauss-Kahn demands were not "tough love" for Greece: The love was reserved solely for the vulture bankers who received the IMF funds but were not required to accept one euro in lost profit in return. DSK, despite the advice of many, refused to ask the banks and speculators to reduce their usurious interest charges that were the root of Greece's woes.

Requiring Greece to sell assets, drop trade barriers, and even end the rule that Greek ships use Greek sailors has nothing to do with saving Greece, but everything to do with DSK's commitment to protect every banker's balance sheet from unwanted violations.

I do not consider it a stretch to say that a predator in the bank boardroom suite assumes his impunity applies to the hotel suite.
(c) 2011 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.

Quick Takes
Slaughter, Suppression and Fighting for the Light
By Chris Floyd

1. Aiding Enlightenment

Arthur Silber, one of the great voices of enlightenment in our benighted age, is in the direst of straits, suffering through one of the worst bouts of the chronic ill health that has afflicted him for years. He has not been able to write for many weeks, but has now surfaced, very briefly, to give us the good news that he is still alive, and the bad news that he is suffering mightily, and that one of his beloved companions also needs medical care.

If you have any money to spare, please consider making a contribution to Silber's website; it is his only means of support, and of course, donations fall when he is not able to write. The tragedy of seeing such a mind, such a spirt, forced to such perilous margins is painful indeed. Please help if you are able.

2. Barack Bull Connor Obama: Killing the Dream of Dr. King

Professor As'ad AbuKhalil points us to this telling comment in The Economist, on the Israeli massacre of unarmed citizens on its borders this week. An excerpt:

FOR many years now, we've heard American commentators bemoan the violence of the Palestinian national movement. If only Palestinians had learned the lessons of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, we hear, they'd have had their state long ago. Surely no Israeli government would have violently suppressed a non-violent Palestinian movement of national liberation seeking only the universally recognised right of self-determination. ...

In any case, if you're among those who have made the argument that Israelis would give Palestinians a state if only the Palestinians would learn to employ Ghandhian tactics of non-violent protest, it appears your moment of truth has arrived. As my colleague writes, what happened on Nakba Day was Israel's "nightmare scenario: masses of Palestinians marching, unarmed, towards the borders of the Jewish state, demanding the redress of their decades-old national grievance."

... So now we have an opportunity to see how Americans will react. We've asked the Palestinians to lay down their arms. We've told them their lack of a state is their own fault; if only they would embrace non-violence, a reasonable and unprejudiced world would see the merit of their claims. Over the weekend, tens of thousands of them did just that, and it seems likely to continue. If crowds of tens of thousands of non-violent Palestinian protestors continue to march, and if Israel continues to shoot at them, what will we do? Will we make good on our rhetoric, and press Israel to give them their state? Or will it turn out that our paeans to non-violence were just cynical tactics in an amoral international power contest staged by militaristic Israeli and American right-wing groups whose elective affinities lead them to shape a common narrative of the alien Arab/Muslim threat? Will we even bother to acknowledge that the Palestinians are protesting non-violently? Or will we soldier on with the same empty decades-old rhetoric, now drained of any truth or meaning, because it protects established relationships of power? What will it take to make Americans recognise that the real Martin Luther King-style non-violent Palestinian protestors have arrived, and that Israeli soldiers are shooting them with real bullets?

Unfortunately, I think we all know "how Americans will react." We have already seen how the Progressive Peace Laureate in the White House has responded, sending out his mouthpiece to praise the Israelis for their "restraint" in slaughtering only a few unarmed people, and not the multitudes they could have killed with their super-cool, American-supplied weaponry.

Then again, we will probably never know how Americans would react to the reality of a non-violent Palestinian resistance movement -- because Americans are not going to be told about it in the first place. As AbuKhalil notes in another post, on the New York Times' coverage of the Sunday shootings:

" Israel’s borders erupted in deadly clashes on Sunday as thousands of Palestinians — marching from Syria, Lebanon, Gazaand the West Bank — confronted Israeli troops to mark the anniversary of Israel’s creation." Note the language. First these are "clashes" (even when Arab protesters are armed, as in Libya, the Times does not refer to repression by regime as "clashes"), and then it talks about the victims "confronting" Israeli troops. How did they "confront" them? By receiving their bullets in their chests?

The hideous irony of a black president praising the slaughter of people following Martin Luther King's example is beyond all comment. And beneath contempt.

3. No Moose is Good Moose

Speaking of the Peace Laureate, here's what you get under a really cool, open, young, progressive, liberal Democratic administration: The Secret Sharer, Jane Mayer's detailed look in the New Yorker at Obama's relentless and ruthless war on those who tell the truth about government corruption and atrocity. Read the whole thing.

I guess it's OK to follow faithfully -- and extend and strengthen -- the very worst policies of George W. Bush ... as long as you don't wear funny glasses and talk about moose, or have a bad comb-over or something. That seems to be the solid progressive consensus in American politics today.
(c) 2011 Chris Floyd

Social Engineering: Natural Or Normal?
By Mike Folkerth

American culture is destroying itself and all of us with it. A shocking, unthinkable thought? Being unthinkable is precisely why we fail to consider that our systems of economics and education may be the source of our societal decline.

H.L. Mencken said, "Penetrating so many secrets, we cease to believe in the unknowable. But there it sits nevertheless, calmly licking its chops." I hope to convince you that the blame for our current decline is not unknowable, but instead, is carefully cloaked in the ultimate camouflage of convention. Nevertheless, there is sits, calmly licking its chops.

Here in the United States, we are reminded from birth that we live in the greatest, wealthiest, most just, most generous, most powerful nation on earth; the land of milk and honey where opportunity abounds for all who work hard and play by the rules. We are the greatest success story on this planet; period.

This is what we are all taught to believe and few will ever question it. However, does this statement reflect the reality of life in the United States in the year 2011?

In the storied land of opportunity for all, the top 20% of Americans own a full 85% of all wealth leaving 80% of Americans attempting to survive with a 15% share. We are approaching 25% of American children living in poverty. We have the world’s highest divorce rate and the greatest per-capita number of lawyers in the world. We also have the highest number of single parent homes.

Three out of ten students do not graduate from high school and only 32% of high school students academically qualify for college. Student loan debt has now surpassed the total credit card debt. Unemployment among those 18 to 24 is at an all time high. The third largest cause of death in those 15 to 24 is suicide.

In spite of our stringent drug laws, severe penalties and spending $45 Billion annually on the war on drugs, the United States has the world’s highest levels of lifetime cocaine and marijuana use. We rank third in alcohol use behind Germany and the Ukraine.

We have the largest percentage of our population locked in prisons of any country on earth.

We work more hours than any nation on this planet and 60% of American homes with children under age 18 have both parents working. There are 134 countries in the world that have maximum work laws; the U.S. is not one of them.

The United States is the world’s largest debtor nation and interest on the funded National Debt alone is 1.13 Billion dollars per day or more than 47 Million dollars per hour. The U.S. needs to raise the National Debt Ceiling by another $2 Trillion, to borrow our way through just one more budget cycle. Private debt has now eclipsed $14 Trillion and new ways of increasing taxes are considered each and every day. Our 4.8% of the world’s total population pays for 50% of all military spending on the planet. How can that be?

No fewer than 44 of our states are bleeding red ink. Social Security and Medicare are slated for insolvency in the not so distant future. More than one million homes were foreclosed in 2010 and it is expected that a million more will be foreclosed in 2011. Forty three additional banks have failed thus far in 2011.

I could go on and on, but why? Why do we have these horrible social and financial problems in the greatest nation on earth? Why are we broke and unhappy? But before you answer that question consider my theories and see if what we believe about ourselves is justified? Then ask yourself, how is it that we got into this state?

What I’m proposing runs contrary to everything you have learned from your parents and in school; however, if you search your soul as you read, I believe that you will see yourself; and all of us collectively in much that is written below.

The following statement in Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense,” covers this subject far better than any words that I could personally pen.

“Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not yet sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favor; a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason.”

In my opinion, the core issue that has led us to our current dire circumstances stems from social engineering. Not only is our system of Debt-Based-Capitalism fatally flawed mathematically, it flies directly in the face of natural human behavior.

Note that I did not say normal behavior, but natural behavior and that's the crux of my theory. Normal, is described as “adhering to a standard.” Standards are set by humans and therefore social engineering can dictate standards that are the opposite of normal behavior and contrary to human happiness. Natural, on the other hand, cannot be altered by man’s concocted desires that are aimed at a precise economic outcome.

Throughout our long societal evolution, the ruling elites have attempted to mold man into a production machine, with one major problem; that’s not what we are!

I don’t believe that it is natural for humans to work a structured 8 to 10 hours per day, 50 weeks per year, for the majority of their useful life. I don’t believe that humans are adept or naturally equipped to keep hard structured schedules that operate in concert with a manmade clock.

In order to alter natural behavior, it is necessary to start early in the human lifecycle. Stop and think about yet another nearly unthinkable question; is our system of education, natural, or a manmade version of normal? Humor me and perform a little experiment. Imagine taking a group of 8 to 12 year old kids to the park and then turning them loose. What do they do? Keep that picture tuned in. Now, imagine that you took those same kids and confined them to a classroom for the majority of their first 18 years, or their first 22 years if they attend college. Is that normal or natural? Is it natural progression of our species or social engineering?

The former statement does not intend to question the value of education, but the manner in which education is administered and the wisdom of “standardized” content.

After 20 years of confined study in a sterile environment, and after receiving the benefit of a “standardized” education, is it possible that the lines between normal and natural could be blurred? I think so, but let’s talk about what’s not blurred; I call it natural tendencies, you may have heard it referred to as human nature.

While a person may go along with the crowd, so to speak, that does not stop the strong tendency of wanting to behave naturally from building in our heads in the form of a private conversation. Such discourse is often referred to as mental anguish. The DNA of our humble beginnings creates a quiet dissonance that cries for relief from our surreal (engineered) existence. That relief is often sought out by abusing drugs and drink, and acted out in the way of non-compliance.

In the most drastic cases, crime may become a more desirable avenue than a life of structured employment that eats away at the very essence of life itself. Time after all, is life, and time spent on a job that you detest just ain’t that much fun. The former statement is not a free pass for criminals, but rather a realistic observation. This may be a good time to introduce another fact. Several long term studies show that a mere 45% of Americans actually like their jobs. All of those years of social engineering aren’t working all that well, huh?

But then perhaps in the whole scheme of things, we’re happy as larks with our overall status quo? Well, the U.S. rang in at number 23 on a scale of happiness in recent research done by Britain's University of Leicester. How can the number one nation in the world be the 23rd happiest?

The plot thickens. After spending most our young lives inside a classroom, we graduate to a real job. Oh joy. We then spend most of our waking day at work, after which we go home and relax. Not! Ya see, the American Dream cannot be financed with one income, so both members of the harmonious marriage, or just plain roommates, hit the bricks to make house, car, taxes, utility, insurance, and student loan payments. The kid time, cleaning, laundry, cooking, grocery shopping, bill paying, and other necessary chores must be accomplished during your “free time.” Aren’t we havin’ some fun now?

This is the American way and we’re told that we like it. So what about Saturday? Saturday’s are fun…right? Not so much as you could tell it, because you now have to catch up on all the chores that weren’t done during the week.

This is not mention that every party, reunion, graduation, family gathering, ballgame, etc., compete for your leisure Saturday time. Sunday is then made for passing out in order to gain the strength to restart your unnatural life on Monday…right after church that is. American’s follow this process right up to about the month before they die. What a wonderful plan.

As ironical as it may seem, the elusive American Dream and the social engineering that has been created to support that Dream, may well represent the very source of our deepest problems. As millions of Americans fall from their Middle Class perch, happiness is nowhere in sight…or is it?

Happiness may well be within reach by abandoning normal and embracing natural. Live simple, live free, and live well.

This subject is complex and would require a large book to do it justice. However, suffice it to say that custom, tradition, and convention are all strong adversaries of the human animal. As Merry Browne so correctly stated, “Preconceived notions are the locks on the door to wisdom.”

I will leave you with some powerful words from another man who had the same realization I’ve had; however, he wrote it many years ago.

“How sensible is it to spend all the best part of one’s life earning money in order to enjoy a questionable liberty during the least valuable years? Not everyone may fully heed the summons of the farther places, of course. But many who think themselves shackled to civilized tasks are held only by such deceptive strands as habit, inertia, environment, doubt, resignation, lack of confidence, and often by a general misunderstanding of the make-up of man.” ― Colonel Townsend Whelen – March 6, 1877 – December 23, 1961.
(c) 2011 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."

When Austerity Fails
By Paul Krugman

I often complain, with reason, about the state of economic discussion in the United States. And the irresponsibility of certain politicians — like those Republicans claiming that defaulting on U.S. debt would be no big deal — is scary.

But at least in America members of the pain caucus, those who claim that raising interest rates and slashing government spending in the face of mass unemployment will somehow make things better instead of worse, get some pushback from the Federal Reserve and the Obama administration.

In Europe, by contrast, the pain caucus has been in control for more than a year, insisting that sound money and balanced budgets are the answer to all problems. Underlying this insistence have been economic fantasies, in particular belief in the confidence fairy — that is, belief that slashing spending will actually create jobs, because fiscal austerity will improve private-sector confidence.

Unfortunately, the confidence fairy keeps refusing to make an appearance. And a dispute over how to handle inconvenient reality threatens to make Europe the flashpoint of a new financial crisis.

After the creation of the euro in 1999, European nations that had previously been considered risky, and that therefore faced limits on the amount they could borrow, began experiencing huge inflows of capital. After all, investors apparently thought, Greece/Portugal/Ireland/Spain were members of a European monetary union, so what could go wrong?

The answer to that question is now, of course, painfully apparent. Greece’s government, finding itself able to borrow at rates only slightly higher than those facing Germany, took on far too much debt. The governments of Ireland and Spain didn’t (Portugal is somewhere in between) — but their banks did, and when the bubble burst, taxpayers found themselves on the hook for bank debts. The problem was made worse by the fact that the 1999-2007 boom left prices and costs in the debtor nations far out of line with those of their neighbors.

What to do? European leaders offered emergency loans to nations in crisis, but only in exchange for promises to impose savage austerity programs, mainly consisting of huge spending cuts. Objections that these programs would be self-defeating — not only would they impose large direct pain, but they also would, by worsening the economic slump, reduce revenues — were waved away. Austerity would actually be expansionary, it was claimed, because it would improve confidence.

Nobody bought into the doctrine of expansionary austerity more thoroughly than Jean-Claude Trichet, the president of the European Central Bank, or E.C.B. Under his leadership the bank began preaching austerity as a universal economic elixir that should be imposed immediately everywhere, including in countries like Britain and the United States that still have high unemployment and aren’t facing any pressure from the financial markets.

But as I said, the confidence fairy hasn’t shown up. Europe’s troubled debtor nations are, as we should have expected, suffering further economic decline thanks to those austerity programs, and confidence is plunging instead of rising. It’s now clear that Greece, Ireland and Portugal can’t and won’t repay their debts in full, although Spain might manage to tough it out.

Realistically, then, Europe needs to prepare for some kind of debt reduction, involving a combination of aid from stronger economies and “haircuts” imposed on private creditors, who will have to accept less than full repayment. Realism, however, appears to be in short supply.

On one side, Germany is taking a hard line against anything resembling aid to its troubled neighbors, even though one important motivation for the current rescue program was an attempt to shield German banks from losses.

On the other side, the E.C.B. is acting as if it is determined to provoke a financial crisis. It has started to raise interest rates despite the terrible state of many European economies. And E.C.B. officials have been warning against any form of debt relief — in fact, last week one member of the governing council suggested that even a mild restructuring of Greek bonds would cause the E.C.B. to stop accepting those bonds as collateral for loans to Greek banks. This amounted to a declaration that if Greece seeks debt relief, the E.C.B. will pull the plug on the Greek banking system, which is crucially dependent on those loans.

If Greek banks collapse, that might well force Greece out of the euro area — and it’s all too easy to see how it could start financial dominoes falling across much of Europe. So what is the E.C.B. thinking?

My guess is that it’s just not willing to face up to the failure of its fantasies. And if this sounds incredibly foolish, well, who ever said that wisdom rules the world?
(c) 2011 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

The real menace of our republic is this invisible government which like a giant octopus sprawls its slimy length over city, state and nation. Like the octopus of real life, it operates under cover of a self created screen....At the head of this octopus are the Rockefeller Standard Oil interests and a small group of powerful banking houses generally referred to as international bankers. The little coterie of powerful international bankers virtually run the United States government for their own selfish purposes. They practically control both political parties."

~~~ New York City Mayor ~ John F. Hylan ~ 1922 ~~~

Why Liberal Sellouts Attack Prophets Like Cornel West
By Chris Hedges

The liberal class, which attempted last week to discredit the words my friend Cornel West spoke about Barack Obama and the Democratic Party, prefers comfort and privilege to justice, truth and confrontation. Its guiding ideological stance is determined by what is most expedient to the careers of its members. It refuses to challenge, in a meaningful way, the decaying structures of democracy or the ascendancy of the corporate state. It glosses over the relentless assault on working men and women and the imperial wars that are bankrupting the nation. It proclaims its adherence to traditional liberal values while defending and promoting systems of power that mock these values. The pillars of the liberal establishment—the press, the church, culture, the university, labor and the Democratic Party—all honor an unwritten quid pro quo with corporations and the power elite, as well as our masters of war, on whom they depend for money, access and positions of influence. Those who expose this moral cowardice and collaboration with corporate power are always ruthlessly thrust aside.

The capitulation of the liberal class to corporate capitalism, as Irving Howe once noted, has “bleached out all political tendencies.” The liberal class has become, Howe wrote, > loose shelter, a poncho rather than a program; to call oneself a liberal one doesn’t really have to believe in anything.” The decision to subordinate ethics to political expediency has led liberals to steadily surrender their moral autonomy, voice and beliefs to the dictates of the corporate state. As Dwight Macdonald wrote in “The Root Is Man,” those who do not make human beings the center of their concern soon lose the capacity to make any ethical choices, for they willingly sacrifice others in the name of the politically expedient and practical.

By extolling the power of the state as an agent of change, as well as measuring human progress through the advances of science, technology and consumption, liberals abetted the cult of the self and the ascendancy of the corporate state. The liberal class placed its faith in the inevitability of human progress and abandoned the human values that should have remained at the core of its activism. The state, now the repository of the hopes and dreams of the liberal class, should always have been seen as the enemy. The destruction of the old radical and militant movements—the communists, socialists and anarchists—has left liberals without a source of new ideas. The link between an effective liberal class and a more radical left was always essential to the health of the former. The liberal class, by allowing radical movements to be dismembered through Red baiting and by banishing those within its ranks who had moral autonomy, gradually deformed basic liberal tenets to support unfettered capitalism, the national security state, globalization and permanent war. Liberalism, cut off from the radical roots of creative and bold thought, merged completely with the corporate power elite. The liberal class at once was betrayed and betrayed itself. And it now functions like a commercial brand, giving a different flavor, face or spin to the ruthless mechanisms of corporate power. This, indeed, is the primary function of Barack Obama.

The liberal class, despite becoming an object of widespread public scorn, prefers the choreographed charade. It will decry the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan or call for universal health care, but continue to defend and support a Democratic Party that has no intention of disrupting the corporate machine. As long as the charade is played, the liberal class can hold itself up as the conscience of the nation without having to act. It can maintain its privileged economic status. It can continue to live in an imaginary world where democratic reform and responsible government exist. It can pretend it has a voice and influence in the corridors of power. But the uselessness and irrelevancy of the liberal class are not lost on the tens of millions of Americans who suffer the indignities of the corporate state. And this is why liberals are rightly despised by the working class and the poor.

The liberal class is incapable of reforming itself. It does not hold within its ranks the rebels and iconoclasts who have the moral or physical courage to defy the corporate state and power elite. And when someone such as Cornel West speaks out, packs of careerist liberals—or perhaps one should call them neoliberals—descend on the apostate like hellhounds, never addressing the truths that are expressed but instead engaging in vicious character assassination. The same thing happened to Ralph Nader, Noam Chomsky, Dennis Kucinich, Jeremiah Wright and others who defied the political orthodoxy of corporate capitalism. The corporate forces, which have taken control of the press and which break unions, run the universities, fund the arts and own the Democratic Party, demand the banishment of all who question the good intentions of the powerful. Liberals who comply are tolerated within the system. They are permitted to busy themselves with the boutique activism of political correctness, inclusiveness or multiculturalism. If they attempt to fight for the primacy of justice, they become pariahs.

Leo Tolstoy wrote that there were three characteristics of all forms of prophecy: “First, it is entirely opposed to the general ideas of the people in the midst of whom it is uttered; second, all who hear it feel its truth; and thirdly, above all, it urges men to realize what it foretells.”

Prophets put forward during their day ideas that the mass of people, including the elite, denounce as impractical and yet at the same time sense to be true. This is what invokes the rage against the prophet. He or she states the obvious in a society where the obvious is seditious. Prophecy is feared because of the consequences of the truth. To accept that Obama is, as West said, a mascot for Wall Street means having to challenge some frightening monoliths of power and give up the comfortable illusion that the Democratic Party or liberal institutions can be instruments for genuine reform. It means having to step outside the mainstream. It means a new radicalism. It means recognizing that there is no hope for a correction or a reversal within the formal systems of power. It means defying traditional systems of power. And liberals, who have become courtiers to the corporate state, must attempt to silence all those who condemn the ruthlessness and mendacity of these systems of destruction. Their denunciation of all who rebel is a matter of self-preservation. For once the callous heart of the corporate state is exposed, so is the callous heart of the liberal class.
(c) 2011 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. He is the author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. His latest book is, "“Death Of The Liberal Class.”

NATO's Feast Of Blood
By Cynthia McKinney


While serving on the House International Relations Committee from 1993 to 2003, it became clear to me that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was an anachronism. Founded in 1945 at the end of World War II, NATO was founded by the United States in response to the Soviet Union's survival as a Communist state. NATO was the U.S. insurance policy that capitalist ownership and domination of European, Asian, and African economies would continue. This also would ensure the survival of the then-extant global apartheid.

NATO is a collective security pact wherein member states pledge that an attack upon one is an attack against all. Therefore, should the Soviet Union have attacked any European Member State, the United States military shield would be activated. The Soviet Response was the Warsaw Pact that maintained a "cordon sanitaire" around the Russian Heartland should NATO ever attack. Thus, the world was broken into blocs which gave rise to the "Cold War."

Avowed "Cold Warriors" of today still view the world in these terms and, unfortunately, cannot move past Communist China and an amputated Soviet Empire as enemy states of the U.S. whose moves any where on the planet are to be contested. The collapse of the Soviet Union provided an accelerated opportunity to exert U.S. hegemony in an area of previous Russian influence. Africa and the Eurasian landmass containing former Soviet satellite states and Afghanistan and Pakistan along with the many other "stans" of the region, have always factored prominently in the theories of "containment" or "rollback" guiding U.S. policy up to today.

With that as background, last night's NATO rocket attack on Tripoli is inexplicable. A civilian metropolitan area of around 2 million people, Tripoli sustained 22 to 25 bombings last night, rattling and breaking windows and glass and shaking the foundation of my hotel.

I left my room at the Rexis Al Nasr Hotel and walked outside the hotel and I could smell the exploded bombs. There were local people everywhere milling with foreign journalists from around the world. As we stood there more bombs struck around the city. The sky flashed red with explosions and more rockets from NATO jets cut through low cloud before exploding.

I could taste the thick dust stirred up by the exploded bombs. I immediately thought about the depleted uranium munitions reportedly being used here--along with white phosphorus. If depleted uranium weapons were being used what affect on the local civilians?

Women carrying young children ran out of the hotel. Others ran to wash the dust from their eyes. With sirens blaring, emergency vehicles made their way to the scene of the attack. Car alarms, set off by the repeated blasts, could be heard underneath the defiant chants of the people.

Sporadic gunfire broke out and it seemed everywhere around me. Euronews showed video of nurses and doctors chanting even at the hospitals as they treated those injured from NATO's latest installation of shock and awe. Suddenly, the streets around my hotel became full of chanting people, car horns blowing, I could not tell how many were walking, how many were driving. Inside the hotel, one Libyan woman carrying a baby came to me and asked me why are they doing this to us?

Whatever the military objectives of the attack (and I and many others question the military value of these attacks) the fact remains the air attack was launched a major city packed with hundreds of thousands of civilians.

I did wonder too if the any of the politicians who had authorized this air attack had themselves ever been on the receiving end of laser guided depleted uranium munitions. Had they ever seen the awful damage that these weapons do a city and its population? Perhaps if they actually been in the city of air attack and felt the concussion from these bombs and saw the mayhem caused they just might not be so inclined to authorize an attack on a civilian population.

I am confident that NATO would not have been so reckless with human life if they had called on to attack a major western city. Indeed, I am confident that would not be called upon ever to attack a western city. NATO only attacks (as does the US and its allies) the poor and underprivileged of the 3rd world.

Only the day before, at a women's event in Tripoli, one woman came up to me with tears in her eyes: her mother is in Benghazi and she can't get back to see if her mother is OK or not. People from the east and west of the country lived with each other, loved each other, intermarried, and now, because of NATO's "humanitarian intervention," artificial divisions are becoming hardened. NATO's recruitment of allies in eastern Libya smacks of the same strain of cold warriorism that sought to assassinate Fidel Castro and overthrow the Cuban Revolution with "homegrown" Cubans willing to commit acts of terror against their former home country. More recently, Democratic Republic of Congo has been amputated de facto after Laurent Kabila refused a request from the Clinton Administration to formally shave off the eastern part of his country. Laurent Kabila personally recounted the meeting at which this request and refusal were delivered. This plan to balkanize and amputate an African country (as has been done in Sudan) did not work because Kabila said "no" while Congolese around the world organized to protect the "territorial integrity" of their country.

I was horrified to learn that NATO allies (the Rebels) in Libya have reportedly lynched, butchered and then their darker-skinned compatriots after U.S. press reports labeled Black Libyans as "Black mercenaries." Now, tell me this, pray tell. How are you going to take Blacks out of Africa? Press reports have suggested that Americans were "surprised" to see dark-skinned people in Africa. Now, what does that tell us about them?

The sad fact, however, is that it is the Libyans themselves, who have been insulted, terrorized, lynched, and murdered as a result of the press reports that hyper-sensationalized this base ignorance. Who will be held accountable for the lives lost in the bloodletting frenzy unleashed as a result of these lies?

Which brings me back to the lady's question: why is this happening? Honestly, I could not give her the educated reasoned response that she was looking for. In my view the international public is struggling to answer "Why?".

What we do know, and what is quite clear, is this: what I experienced last night is no "humanitarian intervention."

Many suspect it is about all the oil under Libya. Call me skeptical but I have to wonder why the combined armed sea, land and air forces of NATO and the US costing billions of dollars are being arraigned against a relatively small North African country and we're expected to believe its in the defense of democracy.

What I have seen in long lines to get fuel is not "humanitarian intervention." Refusal to allow purchases of medicine for the hospitals is not "humanitarian intervention." What is most sad is that I cannot give a cogent explanation of why to people now terrified by NATO's bombs, but it is transparently clear now that NATO has exceeded its mandate, lied about its intentions, is guilty of extra-judicial killings--all in the name of "humanitarian intervention." Where is the Congress as the President exceeds his war-making authority? Where is the "Conscience of the Congress?"

For those of who disagree with Dick Cheney's warning to us to prepare for war for the next generation, please support any one who will stop this madness. Please organize and then vote for peace. People around the world need us to stand up and speak out for ourselves and them because Iran and Venezuela are also in the cross-hairs. Libyans don't need NATO helicopter gunships, smart bombs, cruise missiles, and depleted uranium to settle their differences. NATO's "humanitarian intervention" needs to be exposed for what it is with the bright, shining light of the truth.

As dusk descends on Tripoli, let me prepare myself with the local civilian population for some more NATO humanitarianism.

Stop bombing Africa and the poor of the world!


Silence is the deadliest weapon of mass destruction.
(c) 2011 Cynthia McKinney is a former U.S. Congresswoman, Green Party presidential candidate, and an outspoken advocate for human rights and social justice. The first African-American woman to represent the state of Georgia, McKinney served six terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, from 1993-2003, and from 2005-2007.

The Dead Letter Office...

Heil Obama,

Dear House Fuhrer Cantor,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your holding up FEMA funds from tornado victims until you get to destroy Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid -- Pakistan and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Rethuglican Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

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

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

Will The Voter Revolt Against Cuts (and Paul Ryan) Grab A New York House Seat From The GOP?
By John Nichols

Republican strategists had based their entire project on fostering the fantasy that Americans should be terrified about debt and deficits.

But then reality set in. Americans saw what the Republicans wanted to do in the name of debt reduction. And it was far more frightening than any number on the ledger page.

That shifted the political dynamic at the state level, where Democrats began winning special elections for legislative seats that should have stayed in Republican hands. And, now, Democrats could score their biggest victory of 2011, a redefining win in a contest for an open U.S. House seat representing upstate New York.

The change in voting patterns that is taking place across the northern tier of the country, in states where Republicans made big gains in 2010 but are now threatened with serious setbacks, is striking.

Three weeks ago, in Wisconsin, a state Assembly seat vacated by a veteran Republican legislator who had resigned to become conservative Governor Scott Walker’s top aide should have been an easy hold. Republican Mike Huebsch had held the seat for 16 years and state and national Republican organizations, as well as their corporate allies in Washington, were prepared to spend freely to retain it in the May 5 special election. But the controversy over Walker’s attempt to strip public employees of their collective bargaining rights intervened, as did concerns regarding the governor’s plan to slash funding for schools and local governments across the state. That was an especially big deal in rural western Wisconsin – such a big deal that on May 5 voters selected Democrat Steve Doyle to fill the formerly Republican seat. “This victory is a resounding condemnation of Gov. Walker’s anti-middle class agenda," explained Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha. "Tonight there should be many Republican legislators who represent districts typically less Republican than this one, questioning why they have rubberstamped Gov. Walker’s extreme policies and followed his divisive leadership... This election is a rejection of misplaced budget priorities that harm working families, a rejection of anti-democratic power grabs, a rejection of special interests over middle-class families."

Two weeks ago, in Maine, a state Senate seat where the previous contest had split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans was to be filled in a special election that pitted well-matched contenders and well-funded contenders from the two parties.Democrat Cynthia Dill, who was identified in local media as the “most vocal State House opponent” of Republican Governor Paul LePage’s reactionary economic and social agenda, won with 68 percent of the vote. After knocking doors across the Portland area district, Dill declared, "I have not heard a single person raise any substantive issue other than Governor LePage and the crisis of leadership in Augusta. I mean, not a single person!" The Portland Press-Herald echoed that sentiment, with a top columnist writing: Officially, the good citizens of Cape Elizabeth, South Portland and a slice of Scarborough elected themselves a new state senator this week. Unofficially, they also sent a message.” That message, the newspaper headline suggested, was “unmistakable.”

The same went for the message sent last week by voters in New Hampshire, where a legislative seat vacated by a top Republican was filled in a special election where the main issue was the right-wing agenda of the GOP majorities that now control both houses of the state legislature.Democrat Jennifer Daler won the contest with 58 percent of the vote, carrying every town in the district. “Jen Daler's massive victory tonight is a complete and total rejection of the reckless Republican agenda that (New Hampshire House Speaker) Bill O'Brien has been forcing upon Granite Staters,” announced state Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley. “In one of the most Republican districts in the entire state, New Hampshire voters turned out in historic numbers to oppose this new out of control Republican majority.”

The trio of results from states with “GOP-controlled statehouses clearly demonstrates a trend of voters rebuking the extreme right-wing agendas pushed by Republicans,” observed the national Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee.

This week, the trend could extend to the federal level, when New York state voters decide what has become a referendum on the extreme right-wing agendas of Republican congressional leaders – particularly Budget Committee chair Ryan’s assault on Medicare.

Ryan’s name is not on the ballot in the special election to fill the open congressional seat representing the small towns and suburbs of western New York’s 26th District.

That's a good thing, as every indication is that -- despite the silly "Ryan for President" boomlet of recent days -- the politically-toxic congressman would almost certainly lose the previously "safe" Republican seat.

But Ryan is, by all measures, the biggest issue in the contest. And he might still cost his party the seat.

There’s no question that Ryan’s ideas have put the Republican nominee in the race on the defensive.

This may shock DC insiders, who still imagine that the House Budget Committee chairman is peddling popular – or at least palatable -- ideas.

Not two months ago, the Wisconsin Republican convinced his colleagues in the House to endorse a budget plan that -- via a voucher program -- would use Medicare funds to enrich the private insurance firms that have donated so generously to his campaigns. That was the easy part, as Ryan's colleagues certainly have a taste for this sort of pay-to-play politics.

It was not much harder to get the GOP’s amen corner in the national media to go along with the fantasy that gutting Medicare was necessary in order to balance the federal budget. Ryan’s a charming fellow, so charming it seems that most reporters were more interested in stenographically noting Ryan’s talking points than they were in exploring the fact that – with its many tax breaks for billionaires and multinational corporations -- will not balance the budget for decades.

But façade of inevitability crumbled when Ryan tried to sell his “ideas” to the American people.

They weren’t buying.

First, there were those raucous town-hall meetings in Ryan’s Wisconsin district, where voters angrily objected to his plan – while at the same time demanding to know why the congressman was determined to attack entitlement programs but was unwilling to tax the rich or get serious about cutting Pentagon waste. The town-hall meeting protests spread to Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida. And, now, a variation on the objection has been raised in upstate New York.

Voters there will troop to the polls May 24 to fill what is supposed to be one of the most solidly Republican congressional seats in the northeast. The district voted for Republicans George Bush and John McCain while the rest of New York state was handing Democratic presidential contenders landslide wins. And it resisted the Republican waves of 2004, 2006 and 2008, which shifted most of the state’s congressional districts to the Democrats. Indeed, the only reason the seat is open is because former Congressman Chris Lee had to quit after the married legislator got caught trolling the Internet for dates. When the seat went open earlier this year, however, everyone expected that the Craiglist Congressman would be replaced by an equally upstanding Republican.

Then Paul Ryan made issues matter.

Democratic contender Kathy Hochul, once written off as a sacrificial lamb, surged in the polls after she began attacking Ryan’s plan. As the Buffalo News notes, "The Hochul campaign... has recognized the special dynamics of what looms on May 24 and employs an aide with experience in special elections. The campaign has recognized early on that the educated voters who will vote on Election Day know their issues, that they know the term 'Ryan budget,' and they know that a major overhaul of Medicare as we know it is part of the deal that (Republican nominee Jane) Corwin supports. It’s why issues matter in a special election. 'I had no idea [at the campaign’s start] that the Ryan budget would be in play,' said (a) Democrat close to the campaign. 'But it’s in play.'" Ryan's budget is not the only thing in play.

So's the seat.

A late April Public Policy Polling survey had Hochul opening up a 35 percent to 31 percent lead over Corwin. A third candidate, businessman Jack Davis, who is running an independent campaign based on Tea Party movement themes, was pulling 24 percent of the vote, while Green Ian Murphy was at 2 percent.

Public Policy Polling is a Democratic-leaning firm. But ensuing polls by other firms and media outlets confirmed the pattern that developed after the Democrat made Ryan's budget a central issue.

That brought in the elite Republican guard, with party leaders such as House Speaker John Boehner rushing to campaign for Corwin, and veteran party operatives such as former White House political czar Karl Rove flooding the district with corporate cash in the form of so-called “independent expenditures” on the GOP nominee’s behalf. Rove’s American Crossroads organization has spent $650,000 in a matter of days in an attempt to save Corwin – and Ryan.

The race has gotten rough, with Rove and his pals attacking Hochul on every issue from immigration to taxes.

But Hochul is not backing away from the position that has moved her into serious competition.

The Democrat, a popular county clerk with deep roots in the region, is airing new television commercials that highlight the fact that Corwin (and Davis) would "cut benefits for seniors while cutting taxes for the wealthy."

Hochul promises to "fight the Republican budget that aims to decimate Medicare and any Republican efforts to privatize Social Security."

"I will stop at nothing," she says, "to protect the guarantees we’ve made to our seniors over the last 76 years."

If that proves to be a winning message – in fact, if it brings Hochul anywhere near victory in an overwhelmingly Republican district – the results should shake official Washington. Republicans, who are already in the process of abandoning Ryan’s plan, will jettison it. Democrats, who have struggled to get their footing since the 2010 election debacle, will have their issue in dozens of competitive contests with Republicans House members (mostly freshmen) who backed the Ryan plan. Arguments for a new politics that defends public services, public education and public welfare programs at the local, state and national levels will grow stronger. So, too, will the argument that the place to begin balancing budgets is by making billionaires and multinational corporations pay their fair share – not by attacking Medicare, Medicare and Social Security.
(c) 2011 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. He is a contributing writer for The Progressive and In These Times and the associate editor of the Capital Times, the daily newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and dozens of other newspapers.

Thank You Cornel West
By Joel S. Hirschhorn

The outspoken scholar and Princeton University professor Cornel West has been viciously attacked by many on the political left, especially supporters of President Obama. Why? Because he had the courage to call Obama a “black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats.” For more of West’s views see this article.

Most of the attention has been on the use of the word “black,” as if the black Cornel West had made a racist comment. In fact, West got it right because he and some other true progressives have condemned Obama for not being an authentic progressive. Right again, Obama has never shown himself to be a true leftist progressive, even though many on the conservative right may think he is one. West thinks Obama “has no backbone.”

It is not that Obama is not black enough, as some think West was saying. It is about the dishonesty, deceit and corruptness of Obama.

What everyone should be praising West for is that he correctly made the point that Wall Street oligarchs and corporate plutocrats have stolen the US government by using vast sums of money to corrupt both Democrat and Republican politicians.

West just told the truth about Obama who got elected because as a candidate for president he received a huge sum from the most awful Wall Street company, Goldman Sachs.

What West has explained is that “poor and working people have low priority in US government policy including the Obama Administration.” No surprise because West is definitely a true liberal progressive who has been making this kind of criticism very openly for a long time. Indeed, if poor and working people, as well as all African Americans, would wake up to reality they would abandon Obama, even as the lesser evil. Obama has told too many lies and done too many wrong things to deserve their support.

Nearly all members of Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, are nothing more than mascots of Wall Street oligarchs and puppets of corporate plutocrats, something that all intelligent Americans, including those in the Tea Party movement, should totally agree with.

Here is something else West said: "The tea party folk are right when they say the government is corrupt. It is corrupt. Big business and banks have taken over government and corrupted it in deep ways....we've got to think seriously of third-party candidates, third formations, third parties."

Over at this point was made: Obama “has basically enshrined the too-big-to-fail banks while also propping up GE and the firms that will benefit from ObamaCare.” True enough.

We need many more people that get mass media attention to say the kind of things that West has said. Americans need to be reminded incessantly that their government has been hijacked by rich and powerful elites.

With a corrupt two-party plutocracy elections no longer offer the promise of much needed reforms. Odds are that Tea Party people will realize that their favored Republicans will also not deliver a rehabilitated, honest government serving the interests or ordinary Americans.
(c) 2011 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.

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Why Is God Striking The Deep South?
A sermon by Brother Harry Hardwick

Landover Baptist Tornadoes and Floods Strike the Deep South

Every time we think we have the Lord figured out, He throws us a curve ball. That is why it is essential that we follow all of His edicts, no matter how incomprehensible or downright unjust they may appear. There is seemingly no rhyme or reason to His decisions to kill. God adored some of the most heinous people in history and slaughtered those guilty of the most mundane of miscues. By way of example only, God spared Noah and his family from the Great Flood. And what was one of the first things Noah did thereafter? He got rip-roaring drunk, stripped naked and passed out so that one of his sons saw his (apparently sizable) tallywhacker. Yet, it was the son who was punished, being turned black and becoming the world’s first slave (Genesis 9:20-25). Lot, the only man the Lord allowed to escape the fire and brimstone of Sodom and Gomorrah, offered his daughters to be gang-raped by a mob to avoid letting the mob members have sex with other men (Genesis 19:4-8). And then, as if to one-up Noah, Lot not only got drunk and showed his tallywhacker to his daughters, he inserted it in and impregnated them both. Yet, the New Testament describes Lot as a “righteous man” (2 Peter 2:7). By contrast, the Lord turned Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt just for being the world’s first rubbernecker (Genesis 19:16).

In recent years, there actually appeared to be a method to the Almighty’s mayhem. In 2004, after SARS had failed to do the trick, God wiped out tens of thousands of heathens in Asia, with an earthquake and tsunami, then repeated the feat seven years later in Japan, when the people continued to reject The Christ. He did the same to Haiti for making a pact with the devil, as Godly Pat Robertson told us. The earthquake in Chile, like the swine flu in Mexico, was designed to punish those idol-worshippers who annoy the Lord as much as anyone, even when they’re not boinking boys. And New Orleans with Katrina? Take your pick of the debauchery he chose to punish there. You might think it was the rampant homosexuality scheduled to occur a week later (though surely the omnipotent Lord wouldn’t have gotten his weeks mixed up). Or perhaps you agree with several fundamentalist groups that God was punishing the city for endorsing abortion, given that satellite images of the storm looked just like a fetus on radar. Of course, if the latter were true, one would have to wonder why God hasn’t offed 99 percent of the country by now. But I digress.

We all know that God is flooding the Mississippi river to punish states that allow river boat gambling. That's not what I'm here to talk about today because I'd just be stating the obvious. What I'm here to talk about is the twirling fingers of the Lord! Tornadoes are God’s preferred method of inflicting death and suffering on sinners when He’s looking for a quick result. Jeremiah, chapter 30, verse 23 tells us: "Behold, the whirlwind of the Lord goeth forth with fury, a continuing whirlwind: it shall fall with pain upon the head of the wicked." And chapter 40, verse 24 of Isaiah notes: "Yea, they shall not be planted; yea, they shall not be sown: yea, their stock shall not take root in the earth: and he shall also blow upon them, and they shall wither, and the whirlwind shall take them away as stubble."

This makes the tornadoes that recently ravaged the Deep South, inexplicable. The South contains the most Christians per square mile than anywhere else on earth, present company excluded. And yet, Alabama was the hardest hit state. Alabama has managed to maintain its evangelical roots and avoid the temptation to be progressive, enlightened or all-embracing, or even to enter the 21st century, for ages. The state still lives in the 1950s when times were simpler and people were separate. A statue of the Confederate president continues to grace the state capitol. Different people live in their own sections of town, eat at their own restaurants and have their own barbers, doctors and bus seats. The former chief justice of the state supreme court, Roy Moore, loves the Lord so much that he violated God’s commandment against idolatry to place a granite mausoleum of the Ten Commandments in the courthouse building – a graven image so big it puts the monolithic sound bytes in Exxon commercials to shame.

Perhaps Judge Moore’s greatest achievement was his concurring opinion in a lesbian custody case in which Alabama’s high court predictably granted all parental rights to the biological mother and told the lover that she is worthless dung. But Judge Moore went even further, suggesting homos should be executed.

“The State carries the power of the sword, that is, the power to prohibit conduct with physical penalties, such as confinement and even execution. It must use that power to prevent the subversion of children toward this lifestyle, to not encourage a criminal lifestyle.”

And how did the state respond to this Godly man? By one of its sitting federal judges removing the Ten Commandments from the supreme court building without replacing the monument with anything comparable, like a tower imprinted with the Book of Leviticus. And more significantly, by the Alabama citizenry refusing even to let Judge Moore be the GOP (God’s Own Party) nominee for governor. The apparently “reforming” Republicans picked someone else. The vengeful Lord is obviously not impressed. I hope Alabama (along with Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia, Virginia and the other Godly Southern states) have learned their lesson and will stop so-called “progressing” like the rest of this God-forsaken country is doing.

And, of course, once again, the Almighty expressed his disdain for the very poor – those people so unintelligent, so talentless and so lacking in ambition that they feel satisfied living in trailer parks. There won’t be many used single-wides for sale in the Cotton State (which has very few cotton stalks left).

Every last one of you had better remember that we are all disgusting, despicable sinners who are born and even conceived into sin, and it is only by the grace of God that we have been allowed to live this long. God’s rather fickle grace for any of us could end at any time. There is no predictability to His killing sprees. The best among us are even more likely to suffer His wrath than the worst. It’s a shame the Deep South failed to heed the words of the great Jonathan Edwards.
© 2011 The Landover Baptist Church

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Issues & Alibis Vol 11 # 21 (c) 05/27/2011

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