Issues & Alibis

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In This Edition

Carole Joffe reveals, "Anti-Choice Woman-Hating Goes Mainstream."

Uri Avnery says, "Hallelujah, The World Is Against Us!"

David Sirota is, "Laying Bare The Myth Of 'The Left.'"

Joel S. Hirschhorn considers, "Oily Obama."

Jim Hightower discovers, "Another Gusher In The Gulf."

Robert Dreyfuss uncovers, "General Petraeus's Secret Ops."

James Donahue asks, "Voters Are Justifiably Angry But Will Voters Do The Right Thing?"

Randall Amster points out the fascism in, "Welcome To Arizona."

Ray McGovern explains why, "Dirty Linen Gets Intel Chief Fired."

Case Wagenvoord exclaims, "Drill! Drill! Drill!"

Mike Folkerth explores, "Balance; A Powerful Word."

Chris Hedges finds, "The Greeks Get It."

David Michael Green with a must read, "Liberated From Libertarianism."

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar wins the coveted "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Glenn Greenwald reports, "Obama Wins The Right To Detain People With No Habeas Review."

Paul Krugman reviews, "The Old Enemies."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowitz with, "Next Week's News" but first Uncle Ernie sez, "Calderon Comes To Congress."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Ed Stein, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Brian McFadden, Mike Luckvich, R.P. Overmyer, B. Deutsch, Mike Peters, Jonathon Burch, J.D. Crowe, Adam Zyglis, Reuters, Getty Images, John Kolesidis, Angelos Tzortzinis, Olivier Laban-Mattei, Castle Rock Entertainment 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."

Calderon Comes To Congress
By Ernest Stewart

"We need to fix a broken and inefficient [immigration] system ... the time has come to reduce the causes of migration and to turn this phenomenon into a legal, ordered and secure flow of workers and visitors." ~~~ Mexican President Felipe Calderon

"We're still here trying to get the word out that 330 farmers are quitting every week." ~~~ Willie Nelson

"I think the environmental impact of this disaster is likely to have been very, very modest."
~~~ BP chief executive Tony Hayward ~~~

Mexican President Felipe Calderon stopped by "foggy bottom" the other day to demand that we rewrite some of our laws to make his Junta a little better off. Considering we put him in power by hook and by crook you'd think that it would have been enough for him, but it wasn't!

While the Demoncrats leapt to their feet to applaud his every world, the Rethuglicans, at least the ones that bothered to show up, remained seated and sulked.

Calderon told lawmakers reluctant to take up the immigration issue in an election year that "comprehensive immigration reform is crucial to securing the two countries' common border."

The Mexican President, who is first foreign national leader to address Congress this year, said he strongly disagrees with the Arizona law that requires police to question people about their immigration status if there's reason to suspect they are in the country illegally.

"I strongly disagree with the recently adopted law in Arizona, it is a law that not only ignores a reality that cannot be erased by decree but also introduces a terrible idea using racial profiling as a basis for law enforcement," Calderon said to cheers, from the Democratic side of the chamber. Agreeing with Felipe, despite confessing to not reading the law, US Attorney General Eric Holder and Janet Napolitano former Arizona governor now Homeland Security Secretary (Who one would have thought should have been the first two cabinet people to read it cover to cover and understand it) are among those who have criticized it, saying the law would promote racial profiling and may be unconstitutional.

Of course there soon popped up some disagreement with Filipe's thoughts from members of the "dark side!" For example Arizona's senior Republican senator, John McCain issued a statement saying it was "unfortunate and disappointing the president of Mexico chose to criticize the state of Arizona by weighing in on a U.S. domestic policy issue during a trip that was meant to reaffirm the unique relationship between our two countries."

Finally Calderon hit on yet another highly sensitive issue when he urged Congress to restore a ban on assault weapons, saying that, "easy access to high-powered weapons is contributing to drug-related violence along the border."

Then Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn, crawled out from under his rock to say it was inappropriate for Calderon to lecture Americans on state and local law. He defended the Arizona immigration law. He also said, referring to the call to curb assault weapon exports, that "the Second Amendment is not a subject open for diplomatic negotiation, with Mexico or any other nation."

While what Calderon said is somewhat true, what is creating the violence as well as the illegal immigration is really a three fold problem.

First: NAFTA that job killing turkey that Sick Willie rammed down our throats when Papa Smirk couldn't get it passed set up the current problem by all but destroying the Mexican farmer with cheap imports. The Mexican government, who signed off on NAFTA then failed to create jobs for their starving populace. Because part two of the plan would soon unfold!

Second: US corpo-rats gave those starving farmers and such slave wage jobs that used to support an American family. However, after 30 years of union busting the same job will leave an American trying to live off of it homeless. You work 50 or 60 hour weeks and after paying your taxes you end up sleeping in the car or for the lucky families a tent! Meanwhile, the corpo-rat goons who are making billions off your blood, sweat and tears don't pay any taxes and couldn't care less about their workers plight!

Third: Calderon's very own power play to take over for the Junta those drug cartel profits that have killed about 30,000 Mexicans so far may have had something to do with the violence too, do you suppose?

The funny thing is that Felipe didn't mention any of those three reasons in his oration! Funny thing that, huh?

In Other News

Every year Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Neil Young and a host of music stars gather and give their time and money for Farm Aid to try and save America's family farms from the Agro-monopolies. It's pretty much a losing cause because like with every other group of corpo-rat goons the fix is in, our representatives have been bought and paid for.

You may recall the brilliant 1975 film Rollerball staring James Caan set in the year 2018 where the seven corporations control everything in the world. They separately control Energy, Transportation, Entertainment, Luxury, Housing, Communications and last but not least, one controlled all of the food! And it's here where our story begins...

Farmer Pete and friend

You'll remember Farmer Pete who was kind enough to give us all practical gardening tips in the many articles that he wrote exclusively for Issues & Alibis. What you may not know is that the corpo-rats have been trying to push Farmer Pete off his little patch of land going on nine years! Although Pete has plenty of documentation as you will see and knows who is behind it the local police, the state police, the feds and the state of North Dakota will do nothing to stop it! We talked with Farmer Pete about this, here's the interview...

UE. Where are you located, how long have you been there and what do you farm?

FP. 1 Mile East of Warsaw, North Dakota-South Side of Co Rd 15. I moved there in 1992 to grow organic fruit trees. I now grow organic specialty crops, berry's, peppers, asparagus and fruits.

UE. What was the first thing you noticed that wasn't right?

FP. All my vehicles/tractors had "trouble."

UE. Did you think it was an accident?

FP. At 1st, the gunk in my tractor fuel-I cleaned out the tank & used a sealer.

UE. What happened next?

FP. Worse chemical sprays, 3 in 2006.

UE. When did you realize it wasn't your imagination or it wasn't just an accident or coincidence?

FP. The numerous chemical assaults-the chemical farmers have a weather PC in their office.

UE. Did you try to catch them in the act? What did you do to thwart their actions?

FP. I caught them spraying me every year-2003 was a massive dose of BETAMIX & per Federal Labeling laws there is to be NO human contact-I was literally dripping wet-they were spraying in a 49 MPH wind & is illegal by state & federal laws.

UE. At what point did you go to the police and which department did you contact?

FP. The night ops, Walsh County Sheriff's Dept.

UE. What did they do about it?

FP. Chemical Assaults, Said it is a Civil Matter-Judge refused to allow me to file in state & federal court-per the North Dakota Constitution the Courts SHALL remain open to every man injured in His Property.

UE. Did they give you an explanation?

FP. No, the night raids the Deputy would drive up & leave-I had the spook trapped in here as the fields were all mud-NO WAY OUT, except thru my driveway. I said call for back up & lets nail this guy. They are hiring Mexicans cause the raids stop thru the winter when they go back to Texas.

UE. What happened after the police got involved, did it stop for a while?

FP. For a bit, then they started running my cows off-always at night. Meth Addicts!

UE. How many times did you contact the same police department?

FP. Almost every time. One deputy told me to TCOB & He drove to the meth addicts house & told Him to stay away from Pete's. Later during one raid I called Tommy Kosmatka at home & he answered the phone so now I knew the chemical farmers had hired outside help.

UE. Did you go to the state police and complain about the local police?

FP. I called the FBI, DOJ, US Attorney Generals Office, the North Dakota Attorney General and the Governor's Office. I was told by the North Dakota Attorney General Office I would be arrested for harassing the government.

UE. Did they investigate? If so what were their findings?

FP. No, nothing is ever done just field reports.

UE. What happened next. Give a time line of each incident.

FP. Piglets stolen, cows run off, chemical assaults, night raids. Home is gone through when I leave. 2001-2010 except last fall they broke into my home & torched my Greenhouse. 2008 that fall they broke in & stole my Property Deeds.

UE. What have you done to protect yourself and your property since law enforcement has turned a blind eye?

FP. I got cameras, this they didn't like. One time they broke in & stole my property deeds, they cut the camera wires.

UE. Who do you think is behind it and why are they doing it, who are the actual perps?

FP. The chemical farmers want my little bit of Land.

UE. Who is pulling their strings and why?

FP I dunno, seems like they have the government Stamp of Approval!

UE. Are they doing this to others in the area?

FP. There are others that get an occasion chemical spray but nothing like I get year after year it seems kinda "funny," they only spray when the wind is blowing into my yard.

UE. Has this effected your health? If so how?

FP. The STRESS is very difficult.

UE. Why haven't you gotten a lawyer?

FP. WHAT good can a lawyer do if the Sheriff can't do anything???

UE. Why do you stay? Why not take the money and go somewhere where else to farm?

FP. How do I move all my STUFF?

UE. What have you learned from all of this and what would you advise others to do in a similar situation?

FP. Tell them to Lock & Load!

There were way too many photos to place them in the magazine as it's a bear to load to begin with but they have their own little page each with an explanation but beware, some of them are very hard to look at! Contact Farmer Pete.

Such is the plight of the little farmer against the giant, chemical Agro-goons. With the passing of the family farm, safe, tasty, healthy food with be a thing of the past. There are so many plans for your food and what you will have to eat in the works that soon there will be a thinning of the herd just by poisonous Corporate-food alone. As we've been saying for years you better get yourself some untainted heirloom seeds and learn to grow a garden with enough food to feed your family with enough left over to barter or you and your family, like Scarlett and Rhett, will soon be, "Gone With The Wind!"

And Finally

As British Petroleum, the world leader in oil spills allows it's well "The Deepwater Horizon" to spew forth an Exxon Valdez sized tanker full of oil twice a week every week since April, with no end in sight, I got to thinking about what this may actually mean to America in a couple of weeks.

Sure the Gulf current is about to send some of the oil around Florida where the Gulf Stream is preparing to send it up the East Coast all the way to Iceland. As bad as that will be for beaches, estuaries and such that maybe just a drop of oil in the proverbial bucket to what could start happening in just a few weeks!

Put on your thinking caps and tell me what is it that begins in the Caribbean in June and runs through November? If you said "Hurricane Season" you can stay after class and clean the erasers! Can you imagine what is likely to happen to that oil when a force four or five hurricane sucks that oil up and rains in down inland for 100 miles or so, over every square inch of land, rivers, cities, farms, highways and people? Not only once but again and again and again and again! Katrina and the Exxon Valdez incident by comparison will seem like the good old days! This could happen not only in the Gulf but all the way up the East Coast too! I wonder what our Con-gressional critters will do when the Capitol Building and the White House turns brown?

I wonder what that will cost to clean up? I wonder what that will do to our already depressed economy? Don't you wonder too, America?

Oh And One More Thing

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


04-18-1972 ~ 05-24-2010
Who was that masked man?

07-17-1912 ~ 05-26-2010
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) 2010 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for the last 9 years managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine.

Anti-Choice Woman-Hating Goes Mainstream
By Carole Joffe

She consented in the murder of an unborn child. There are some situations where the mother may in fact die along with her child .

With this brief quote, the speaker, the Rev. John Ehrich, medical ethics director for the Diocese of Phoenix, deserves credit for achieving a twofer in a recently revived (if not formally declared) misogyny competition that is now sweeping the anti-choice world. He is not only stating that a gravely ill woman (the mother of four children) should have been left to die, rather than being permitted an abortion; he is also explaining why Sister Mary Margaret McBride, the nun-administrator of a Catholic hospital who authorized the abortion (thereby saving the woman's life) deserves to be excommunicated.

This case, which has received wide coverage in RH Reality Check and other media, has predictably stunned many people, across the abortion divide. Some have pointed out that the Phoenix diocese misinterpreted Catholic health care directives, and that abortion is permissible under these rules when a woman's life is at stake. Others have made the common sense observation that if the woman had died, not only would her four children remain motherless, but the 11-week old fetus would not have survived either. Inevitably, some commented on the disparity between the nun's swift excommunication and the fact that none of the identified pedophile priests have received such punishment.

But while the Phoenix case may cause the most jaw-dropping, with its undisguised preference for a woman's death over an abortion, there are other recent instances that similarly suggest an upsurge of blatant woman-hating in the antiabortion world. Take the notorious Utah law passed earlier this year in response to the deeply sad case of a pregnant teenager who paid a stranger to beat her in the hope of inducing a miscarriage. (In spite of the severe beating that occurred, the pregnancy resulted in a live birth). Outraged that the male in question received a jail sentence but that there was no legal mechanism with which to charge the teen, a Utah legislator pushed through legislation that criminalizes the seeking of an illegal abortion, and which many observers believe has the practical effect of making all miscarriages in the state theoretically suspect. Had this law been in effect at the time of the incident described above, and had the fetus not survived, the desperate young woman could have received fifteen years to life. As the untroubled sponsor of the bill told a reporter, the young woman "has to face the consequences of her barbaric actions." No one stopped to ask under what conditions she had gotten pregnant nor why she took such drastic measures.

Then there are the mandatory ultrasound laws. These are occurring in a number of state legislatures, but nowhere to date with such viciousness as the one recently passed in Oklahoma. There the new law stipulates that one hour before her abortion, the patient must receive an ultrasound, with the monitor positioned so that she can see it, and the doctor must point to and describe the heart, limbs and organs of the fetus. There are no exceptions for victims of rape or incest.

The current Supreme Court has also shown an unprecedented and disturbing hostility to women with respect to abortion. In its most recent decision on the subject, the 2007 Gonzales v Carhart case which upheld a ban on a certain abortion technique (intact dilation and extraction, or so-called "partial birth abortion"), the Court, shockingly, for the first time upheld an abortion restriction which did not allow any exception for a woman's health.

Do these examples of misogyny represent anything new? To be sure, in some extremist anti-choice circles, full throated woman-hating never went away. (See, for example, this video from several years ago of Flip Benham screeching at women entering a N. Carolina clinic that "Satan will drink the blood of your child!") But in other, more mainstream quarters of the movement, the heated, and hateful rhetoric of the period immediately after Roe-where women seeking abortion were routinely called "sluts" and "baby killers" -gradually became replaced by a new frame: abortion hurts women. Given that by the early 1980s, about 40 percent of American women were estimated to have an abortion during their reproductive years (the number now is about 33 percent), arguably such hate speech was counterproductive for the opponents of abortion: too many Americans either themselves had had an abortion or knew someone who did. Thus, antiabortion rhetoric shifted to professed sympathy for women, and abortion providers-those doing the hurting-became the main objects of demonization.

The nature of laws restricting abortions has also undergone changes in the recent past, reflecting a heightened mean-spiritedness. While all such laws have as their goal the objective of making the procedure more difficult to obtain, earlier laws-for example, the waiting periods, or the TRAP laws governing minute, arguably irrelevant physical features of freestanding clinics-- these measures did not have quite the same blatant cruelty as current measures do, given the mandates to force a woman to hear a description of her ultrasound or to be told terrifying lies about supposed links between abortion and breast cancer, suicide and infertility, as is required in a number of states.

Why has this increase in undisguised misogyny occurred? Certainly part of the answer is the election of Barack Obama. Like other sectors of the rightwing, the antichoice movement has been both enraged and energized by the Obama presidency. There not only has been a change in rhetoric and in the quantity and quality of abortion legislation since the 2008 election, but also an upsurge in aggression and violence at the site of clinics themselves (though most of this violence to date has been directed at providers, rather than patients, as we saw with the tragic murder of Dr. Tiller one year ago).

Another explanation lies in the considerable success the antichoice movement has had in stigmatizing abortion, and therefore those who both receive abortions and provide them. As the overall number of abortion patients drop, and as poor women of color disproportionately comprise the population of abortion patients, it has become far easier for mainstream actors in the antichoice movement to see a split world, in which good women do the "right thing" when faced with an unwanted pregnancy and bad women don't. This deeply stigmatized view of abortion recipients enables the "respectable" opponents of abortion-the legislators, the Church officials and so on-to go a rhetorical place where their extremist colleagues have always been.
(c) 2010 Carole Joffe is a professor at the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health at the University of California, San Francisco.

Hallelujah, The World Is Against Us!
By Uri Avnery

A LOCAL TV station told us this week about a group of Israelis who adhere to conspiracy theories.

They believe that George W. Bush planned the destruction of the Twin Towers in order to further his wicked aims. They believe that the big pharmaceutical corporations spread the swine flue virus in order to sell their worthless vaccines. They believe that Barack Obama is a secret agent of the military-industrial complex. They believe that fluoride is put into drinking water to sterilize men, in order to reduce mankind by exactly two billion. And so on.

I wonder that they have not yet uncovered the most nefarious conspiracy of all: the one perpetrated by the gang of anti-Semites who have taken control of the government of Israel and are using it to destroy the Jewish State.

PROOF? NOTHING easier. One has only to read the papers.

The Foreign Minister, for example. Who but a diabolic anti-Semite could have appointed Avigdor Lieberman, of all people, to this post? The job of a foreign minister is to make friends and convince world opinion that we are right. Lieberman is working hard and skillfully to get Israel hated by one and all.

Or the Minister of the Interior. He works from morning to night to shock human rights defenders and supply ammunition to the worst enemies of Israel. Recently, he prevented two babies from entering Israel because their father is gay. He prevents women from joining their husbands in Israel. He deports children of foreign workers, who are building the state.

Or the Chief of Staff. He persuaded the government to boycott the UN commission for the investigation of the "Cast Lead" operation, thus abandoning the field to the accusers of the IDF. And since the publication of its report, he has been orchestrating a worldwide defamation campaign against the Jewish Zionist judge, Richard Goldstone.

Now the IDF has announced its determination to block the flotilla that plans to bring symbolic supplies to the besieged Gaza Strip. That will ensure live TV coverage, with the whole world following the small ships and having their attention drawn to the vicious blockade imposed for years upon a million and a half human beings. The dream of every Israel-hater.

The conspiracy reached its climax this week, when Professor Noam Chomsky was denied entry into the West Bank.

THIS AFFAIR has no credible explanation except a vicious anti-Semitic plot.

In the beginning I thought that it was just the usual mixture of ignorance and folly. But I have come to the conclusion that it can't be so. Even in our present government, stupidity cannot have reached such proportions.

Briefly, this is what happened: the 81-year old professor arrived at the Allenby Bridge over the Jordan River on his way from Amman to Birzeit University near Ramallah, where he was to deliver two lectures about US policy. The Israeli authorities of course knew well in advance about his coming. A young official asked him some questions, contacted his superiors at the Interior Ministry, returned to ask some more questions, contacted his superiors again, and then stamped his passport with the words: "Entry Denied."

And what were the questions? Why he does not lecture at an Israeli university. And why he has no Israeli passport.

The professor returned to Amman and delivered his lectures by video link. The incident was widely publicized all over the world, especially in the US. The Interior Ministry apologized half-heartedly, stating that the matter was not under its jurisdiction, that it was the responsibility of the military Coordinator for the (Occupied) Territories.

That is, of course, a mendacious excuse, since the ministry itself has recently denied entry to several personalities who profess sympathy with the Palestinians, including the most popular clown in Spain.

A PERSONAL memory of mine: a dozen years ago I took part in a heated public debate in London with Edward Said, the late Palestinian professor. He happened to mention that his friend, Noam Chomsky, was about to deliver a lecture at a local university.

I hastened there and saw the building surrounded by a dense crowd of young men and women. With great difficulty I pushed my way to the stairs which led up to the lecture hall, but was stopped by the ushers. I pleaded in vain that I was a friend of the lecturer and that I had come all the way from Israel just to hear him. They told me that even a needle could not be squeezed in. Such was his popularity even then.

Noam Chomsky is, perhaps, the most in-demand intellectual on earth. His reputation goes way beyond his academic specialty - linguistics - where he is considered a genius. He is the guru of millions around the planet. The world media treat him as a cerebral celebrity.

If so, what could have induced the Ministers of the Interior and/or Defense to hold this man for four hours and then send him back where he came from? Abysmal folly? Malice? Vengefulness? All of these? Or perhaps something else?

THIS AFFAIR has many wide-ranging implications.

First of all: it is a provocation against the Palestinian Authority, with whom Binyamin Netanyahu wants to have direct peace negotiations - or so he says. It's like spitting in their face.

Chomsky arrived as a guest of Mustafa Barghouti, a Palestinian leader who espouses non-violence and human rights. He came to give lectures at a Palestinian university.

How does that concern Israel? What Chutzpa is it to prevent Palestinian students from hearing a lecturer of their choosing?

And what does it tell us about Netanyahu's perorations about "Two States for Two Peoples"? What kind of a Palestinian state is this supposed to be, if Israel can decide who is allowed to enter, and who not? Especially in light of the Israeli demand to control all the border crossing of the new state!

SECOND, ALL over the world a campaign is in full swing to boycott all Israeli universities. Not only the self-styled "University Institute" at the Ariel settlement, and not only Bar-Ilan University, which helped to set it up. All of them.

Several associations of academics in the UK and other countries have adopted resolutions to impose this boycott, and other groups oppose it. It is an ongoing battle.

The opponents of the boycott raise the flag of academic freedom. Where shall we be if we boycott researchers and thinkers because of their country of residence or opinions? The Italian writer Umberto Eco has written his colleagues an emotional letter against the boycott. I, too, oppose it.

And here comes the government of Israel and pulls the rug out from under our feet. No one suggests that Chomsky supports terrorism or is coming to spy. His entry was denied solely because of his views. This means that academic freedom is good only if it serves those who praise Israel, but is worth no more than a garlic's skin (as we say in Hebrew) when it is used by somebody who objects to the policies of the Israeli government.

That is a direct help for the boycotteers. The more so since not a single Israel university or group of academics has raised its voice in protest.

THE ASSERTION that Chomsky is an enemy of Israel is ludicrous.

He bears an eminently Hebrew first name, and so does his daughter, Aviva, who accompanied him.

I met him for the first time in the 60s, when I visited him in his cramped quarters at MIT, one of the most respected academic institutions in the US and the world.

He spoke with some nostalgia about the kibbutz (Hazorea, of the leftist Zionist Hashomer Hatzair movement), where he had lived for a year in his youth. We exchanged opinions and agreed that the two-state idea was the only practical solution.

His first name was given to him by his parents, who were born in the Russian empire and emigrated to the US in their youth. The mother tongue of both was Yiddish, but they devoted their home to Hebrew culture, and Noam spoke Hebrew from early childhood. In the mental world of his youth, socialism and anarchism were mixed with Zionism. His doctoral thesis was about the Hebrew language.

I have been following his statements ever since. I never found any opposition to the existence of Israel. What I did find was sharp criticism of the Israeli government's policies - the same criticism levied by the Israeli peace forces. But he is far more critical of the successive US administrations, whose policies he considers to be the mother of all evils.

When the two professors, John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, published their revolutionary expose supporting the claim that Israel controls US policy through the Israel lobby, Chomsky contradicted them and argued that the reverse was true: that it is the US which exploits Israel for its imperialist designs, contrary to real Israeli interests.

As for myself, I believe that both theses are right. Chomsky's assertion may be illustrated by the present American veto on a Fatah-Hamas reconciliation, as well as the American intervention that prevents the Gilad Shalit prisoners' swap.

So why, for God's sake, was this man denied entry into the country?

I HAVE a theory which would explain everything.

For many centuries, the Jews were persecuted in Christian Europe. Anti-Semitism turned their life into hell. They fell victim to pogroms, mass expulsions, confinement in ghettos, oppressive edicts and discriminatory laws. In the course of time, they developed mental and practical defense mechanisms, methods of survival and routes of escape.

Since the Holocaust, the situation has changed radically. In the US the Jews now live in a paradise unparalleled since the Golden Age in Muslim Spain. When the State of Israel came into being, it attracted world-wide admiration and sympathy.

That was wonderful, but below the surface of the national consciousness - if one may generalize - a sense of unease, of disorientation, set in. The tried and trusted defense mechanisms, which had given the Jews a feeling of orientation and awareness of lurking dangers, disintegrated. They felt that something was out of order, that the well-known road signs were not working anymore. When the Gentiles laud the Jews or are ready to make alliances with them, that is suspicious. Clearly, something sinister must be behind it. Things are not as we knew them. That's frightening.

Since then, we have been working feverishly to bring the situation back to normal. Without being conscious of it, we do what we can to be hated again, to feel at home, on familiar ground.

If there is a conspiracy, it is a conspiracy of ourselves against ourselves. We shall not rest until the world is anti-Semitic again, and we know how to behave.

As the jolly song goes: "The entire world is against us, but what the hell..."
(c) 2010 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Laying Bare The Myth Of 'The Left'
By David Sirota

I'm always amused by popular references to the allegedly all-powerful American "Left." The term suggests that progressives today possess the same kind of robust, ideologically driven political apparatus as the Right - a machine putting principles before party affiliation.

This notion is hilarious because it is so absurd.

Yes, there are certainly well-funded groups in Washington that call themselves "progressive," that get media billing as "The Left," and that purport to advocate liberal causes regardless of party. But unlike the Right's network, which has sometimes ideologically opposed Republicans on court nominations and legislation, many "progressive" institutions are not principled at all - sadly, lots of them are just propagandists for Democrats, regardless of what Democrats do.

Everyone in professional "Left" politics knows this reality "deep down in places they don't talk about at parties," as Jack Nicholson might say - and they don't discuss it for fear of both jeopardizing their employers' nonprofit tax status and/or undermining their employers' dishonest fundraising appeals to liberal donors' ideals.

During the Bush years, this truth was easily obscured, as bashing the Republican president for trampling progressive initiatives was equivalent to aiding Democrats. But in the Obama era, the "The Left's" destructive, party-over-principles motivation has become impossible to hide, especially recently.

Behold, for instance, major environmental groups' attitude toward the Gulf oil spill.

We know that before the disaster, President Obama recklessly pushed to expand offshore drilling. We also know that his Interior Department gave British Petroleum's rig a "categorical exclusion" from environmental scrutiny and, according to the New York Times, "gave permission to BP and dozens of other oil companies to drill in the Gulf without first getting required (environmental) permits." Worse, we know that after the spill, the same Interior Department kept issuing "categorical exclusions" for new Gulf oil operations, and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar still refuses "to rule out continued use of categorical exclusions," as the Denver Post reported (heckuva job, Kenny!). Undoubtedly, had this been the behavior of a Republican administration, "The Left's" big environmental organizations would be scheduling D.C. protests and calling for firings, if not criminal charges. Yet, somehow, there are no protests. Somehow, there have been almost no calls for the resignation of Salazar, who oversaw this disaster and who, before that, took $323,000 in campaign contributions from energy interests and backed more offshore drilling as a U.S. senator. Somehow, facing environmental apocalypse, there has been mostly silence from "The Left."

That silence is similarly deafening when it comes to Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan.

We know Kagan was among the Clinton administration advisers urging the president to support a serious abortion restriction and to avoid reducing racist disparities in criminal sentencing. We know that as Harvard Law School dean, Kagan "hired 29 tenured or tenure-track faculty members (and) did not hire a single black, Latino, or American Indian - not one, not even a token," reports Duke University's Guy-Uriel Charles. And we know that in her solicitor general confirmation hearings, Kagan stated her radical belief that the government can hold terrorism suspects without trial.

Again, if this were a Republican nominee's record, "The Left's" pro-choice and civil rights groups would be frantically mounting opposition - or at least raising concerns. But this is a Democratic nominee, so they've fallen in line. Planned Parenthood celebrated Kagan's "dedication," the NAACP trumpeted her "commitment to diversity" and the liberal Alliance for Justice said it "applauds" her nomination.

Surveying the hypocrisy, CNN's Roland Martin wrote that "The Left's" organizations "need to decide what matters: their principles or their politics ... their convictions or chicken dinners in the White House."

He's too late: They've already made their decision, which is why - regrettably - a powerful Left does not exist in America.
(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

Oily Obama
Lousy Response to BP Oil Invasion

By Joel S. Hirschhorn

Thirty days into the BP oil spill one mile down into the Gulf of Mexico it should be clear to every objective person that President Obama has failed miserably. This oil spill is more than a disaster or crisis; it is a catastrophe of unprecedented proportions. This environmental catastrophe will quickly morph into a national economic catastrophe as economic doomsday facing the fishing and tourism industries generates countless negative economic ripples throughout the US economy. Unemployment and economic growth will suffer.

President Obama has shown no effective leadership or any proportional response to this multi-catastrophe. All those who rightfully criticized President George W. Bush for his mishandling of the Katrina nightmare should wake up and see that Obama is failing to use every ounce of federal resources to compensate for the total failure of BP to stop the oil hemorrhaging from the floor of the Gulf. The BP failure to stop the gushing oil spill is sadly consistent with its failure to prevent the firestorm on the oil rig to begin with.

Where is the national outrage? Where are the loud calls from everyone and the media demanding a stronger a federal response? Where is Obama's clear anger and appropriate firing of many federal officials, starting with the Interior Secretary? Where is the Justice Department doing its job of quickly starting criminal prosecutions of BP and its two major contractors?

All Americans, regardless of their partisan positions, should be hollering incessantly for Obama to wake up and take this catastrophe a lot more seriously.

We should be sending a clear message that this BP oil spill catastrophe will justify preventing Obama from getting a second term. Maybe that would work to get this smarmy politician to do what is right and necessary for millions of Americans that will suffer a long time because of this corporate failure.

Obama should have seen this BP oil spill as an environmental invasion just as serious as a traditional invasion by an armed force or some awful terrorist attack. He should have mobilized the enormous federal resources in countless areas to not only deal with the oil invasion and contamination of countless natural resources but, even more critically, to stop the damn gushing of oil at the sea bottom.

It is only a matter of time until the horrendous quantities of oil wrap around Florida and then up the East coast. Maybe then more Americans will get as excited and alarmed as those poor people along the Gulf directly in the path of the oil invasion.

Maybe then President Obama will finally and belatedly show some presidential leadership? Maybe not.
(c) 2010 Joel S. Hirschhorn observed our corrupt federal government firsthand as a senior official with the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the National Governors Association and is the author of Delusional Democracy - Fixing the Republic Without Overthrowing the Government. To discuss issues write the author. The author has a Ph.D. in Materials Engineering and was formerly a full professor of metallurgical engineering at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Another Gusher In The Gulf

It doesn't seem possible that there could be a corporate honcho anywhere on this globe who's more clueless and self-absorbed than that gang of banksters on Wall Street. But then comes Tony Hayward to astonish us.

He's the dapper British chap who is chief executive of BP, the oil giant that owns the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil well that's making such a mess in the Gulf. On May 14, with his company's blown-out well still barfing massive amounts of crude and gas from four miles deep under the seabed, and with the billowing slick oozing toward the shores of four states, Tony opened his mouth and spurted out a stunner. The boss of the world's largest oil corporation insisted that the blotch spreading from Louisiana to Florida is really not that big of a deal, for it is "relatively tiny."

Tiny, Tony? Yes, Hayward explained: "The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersants we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume."

Wow, what an insight! No wonder BP paid this guy $4,595,453.31 last year.

But Tony is full of insights. Just four days later, as the oil was reaching into Louisiana marshes and ebbing toward the Gulf current that could sweep it around Florida and up our East Coast, BP's boss let go with another one: "The environmental impact of this disaster," he chirped, "has been very modest." Hayward even went on to forecast a rosy future: "Everything we can see at the moment suggest that the over all environmental impact of this will be very, very modest."

My goodness, don't they have muzzles in England? Tony is gushing nonsense faster than his catastrophic well is gushing toxics into our environment. To connect with reality and with action you can take, go to Friends of the Earth:
(c) 2010 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition.

Centcom commander General David Petraeus

General Petraeus's Secret Ops
By Robert Dreyfuss

A secret military directive signed last September 30 by General David Petraeus, the Centcom commander, authorizes a vast expansion of secret US military special ops from the Horn of Africa to the Middle East to Central Asia and "appears to authorize specific operations in Iran," according to the New York Times.

If President Obama knew about this, authorized it and still supports it, then Obama has crossed a red line, and the president will stand revealed as an aggressive, militaristic liberal interventionist who bears a closer resemblance to the president he succeeded than to the ephemeral reformer that he pretended to be in 2008, when he ran for office. If he didn't know, if he didn't understand the order, and if he's unwilling to cancel it now that it's been publicized, then Obama is a feckless incompetent. Take your pick.

If Congress has any guts at all, it will convene immediate investigative hearings into a power grab by Petraeus, a politically ambitious general, and the Pentagon's arrogant Special Operations team, led by Admiral Eric T. Olson, who collaborated with Petraeus. And Congress needs to ask the White House, What did you know, and when did you know it?

Drop what you're doing and read the whole piece, by Mark Mazzetti [1], in the Times, which ran it on page 1 as the lead story in today's paper. (Critics of the "mainstream media" take note: the Times broke this story fearlessly, even though it apparently redacted certain operational details at the behest of the administration.)

Here's the Cliff's Notes version: In September, Petraeus signed the Joint Unconventional Warfare Task Force Execute Order providing for a "broad expansion of clandestine military activity" in the region of Centcom's responsibility, the Middle East and South Asia. Reports Mazzetti:

The secret directive, signed in September by Gen. David H. Petraeus, authorizes the sending of American Special Operations troops to both friendly and hostile nations in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa to gather intelligence and build ties with local forces. Officials said the order also permits reconnaissance that could pave the way for possible military strikes in Iran if tensions over its nuclear ambitions escalate...

The seven-page directive appears to authorize specific operations in Iran, most likely to gather intelligence about the country's nuclear program or identify dissident groups that might be useful for a future military offensive.


Officials said that many top commanders, General Petraeus among them, have advocated an expansive interpretation of the military's role around the world, arguing that troops need to operate beyond Iraq and Afghanistan to better fight militant groups.

The Times story raises a million questions: Is this how the United States intends to carry out the order to assassinate Anwar al-Awlaqi, the Yemen-based US citizen who is reportedly an Al Qaeda operative? Does the revelation of this order have anything to do with the abrupt resignation of Dennis Blair, the departed Director of National Intelligence? What sorts of "dissident groups" in Iran might the military connect with, and might they include paramilitary forces associated with rebellious Kurds in western Iran, several of whom were just put to death by Tehran, or the Pakistan-linked Baluchistan rebels in southeast Iran?

For decades, the military has tried to elbow the Central Intelligence Agency into a subordinate role. Even as the intelligence budget ballooned (since the 1990s) to enormous proportions, the Pentagon has gobbled up most of it and tried to force the civilian CIA into a subordinate role. (According to Mazzetti, the CIA supports the Petraeus directive, even though it is explicitly aimed at "break[ing] its dependence on the Central Intelligence Agency," but we'll see.) The gung-ho Special Ops folks at the Pentagon have been pushing hard to become a kind of uniformed covert operations unit of the US government, even though military operations aren't governed by the same sort of restrictive Congressional oversight that the CIA operates under. And, according to Mazzetti, the Petraeus order is intended to accomplish things that the CIA "will not" do:

The order, which an official said was drafted in close coordination with Adm. Eric T. Olson, the officer in charge of the United States Special Operations Command, calls for clandestine activities that "cannot or will not be accomplished" by conventional military operations or "interagency activities," a reference to American spy agencies.

Petraeus, along with General McChrystal, should have been fired long ago by Obama, if for no other reason because of their insubordination in 2009 is trying to force Obama's hand in pushing for a series of escalations of the Afghanistan war. Obama can still redeem himself by firing them now.
(c) 2010 Robert Dreyfuss is an investigative journalist in Alexandria, Virginia, specializing in politics and national security. He is the author of "Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam" (Henry Holt/Metropolitan Books).

Voters Are Justifiably Angry But Will Voters Do The Right Thing?
By James Donahue

The results of some of the first state primary elections confirm what most of us already knew. Voters in America are mad as hell and they are in a mood to "throw the bums out." Consequently incumbents in both parties may face an uphill battle this fall to win re-election to expiring Congressional and Senate seats.

While the people's anger at the shenanigans that have occurred in Washington is justified, and we share the belief that there is a need for a good housecleaning, we also see a danger in blindly casting votes for anybody other than the people already in office.

The strange choice by Kentucky Republicans to nominate extreme right-wing candidate Rand Paul over Kentucky's Secretary of State Trey Grayson appears to be an example of what may happen if voters don't start using their heads. When grilled by MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on May 19, Paul criticized parts of the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. When pressed, Paul said he disagrees with the part of the Civil Rights Act that makes it illegal for private businesses to discriminate on the basis of race.

Paul, the son of popular Texas Congressman Ron Paul, was strongly supported by the Tea Baggers in his district. The Tea Bag movement, which appears to have no party ties but consists of people expressing anger and distrust in government about just about everything, is an example of the strange way of thinking bubbling up in the nation.

There is a growing frustration over the inability of the elected legislators in Washington to do anything about massive deficit spending, the bailouts of big banking and business interests while millions of Americans are losing their jobs and their homes, the growing threat of terrorism, the war in Afghanistan, the immigrant problem at the Mexican border, the inability to do anything to stop the Gulf oil spill and a list of issues that seems to grow with each passing week.

Charmed by his rhetoric and his fresh ideas, Americans elected Democrat Barack Obama to succeed the failed Republican presidency of George W. Bush in 2008. They also gave Mr. Obama a Democratic majority of members in both the House and Senate. Everybody had high hopes for change when Mr. Obama was sworn into office in January, 2009.

But strange things happened. While Mr. Obama jumped right into his job, he did not count on a bank-created budget crisis and the Bush Administration's decision to drain the treasury just weeks before Bush left office. He may not have expected tricks by the remaining Republican Senators who successfully blocked many of his appointments to key administrative positions, or their use of the threat of the filibuster to stall action on legislation for such major issues as Health Care and Wall Street Reform. He was confronted by military generals who attempted to test his leadership abilities. And Obama has been coping with an army of lobbyists, their pockets brimming with money, which has literally stormed the halls of the Capital. He did not expect the overwhelming number of elected legislators that have been caught misbehaving and leaving office in disgrace. Washington took on the appearance of a den of corruption and incompetence.

This did not happen overnight. And all of this misbehavior and corrupt slipping of money and gifts from lobbyists to elected legislators has been going on for a very long time. It all appears to be getting exposed in a bright new floodlight since Obama and his staff came into office.

From where we sit, this cannot be blamed on Mr. Obama, but rather on a system that has been operating under a shadow of corruption that has been going on for a very long time. It never became as blatant has it has been since the Republicans lost their majority in both houses.

Indeed, we agree with American voters that it is time to throw the bums out and clean house. But we need to do our homework and be ultra careful in making sure we know the difference between the "bums" and those elected incumbents who have been dealing honestly. We believe there may be quite a few of them in the mix.

Because a recent Supreme Court decision now allows large corporations to dump money into campaigns, and with the Republicans reportedly hiring the notorious trickster Karl Rove to create a new organized infrastructure and campaign plan for recovering legislative power this fall, we can expect a barrage of well-financed mud-slinging in television campaign advertising and a lot of dirty tricks designed to leave voters confused as to who to trust.

Also with 100 Senators and 435 Congressmen in total, choosing the good guys out of the pack may seem at first glance like an impossible task. The task, however, may not be as difficult as it may first appear.

There are three simple rules that will help us all make the right choices:

--Every voter lives in a district that elects one Senator and another district that picks one member of Congress. Each party will have no more than one candidate's name on the ballot for each of these jobs. That means we must carefully study the credentials, former voting record (if one exists), and personal messages offered by all of the candidates. For help, go to the candidate web sites. You also may get help going to neutral political web sites that also are looking at the candidates. A site that usually offers good and objective overviews is Wikipedia.

--Turn off your television sets especially during the week prior to the election. If you must watch something, make popcorn and spend your evenings watching rented movies. And if you have to submit to the television to watch a favorite show, totally disregard all political advertising. It will usually involve severe mud-slinging and will be packed with false allegations. Among the more popular dirty tricks has been to use ads to spread malicious rumors about an opponent on about a night or two before the election. The accused candidate has almost no chance to respond and counter the charge.

--Remember that President Obama has another two years in office. If he is going to have any chance at achieving the goals he set when first elected, he will need a strong party backing in both the House and Senate. That means more Democrats with backbone are needed to fill the vacancies of incumbents who lacked with spine or the will to do the right thing this time in office. Of course, if you liked the status quo, vote Republican.

(c) 2010 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles. He currently produces daily articles for this web site.

Welcome To Arizona
"It's a Dry Hate..."
By Randall Amster

First it was legally-sanctioned racial profiling, with a touch of totalitarian "show me your papers" thrown in for good measure (SB 1070). Next we were delivered a new law banning Ethnic Studies programs or any teaching that promotes "ethnic solidarity" (HB 2281). Then the state's school superintendent announced a policy whereby teachers with "heavy accents" would be prevented from being in classrooms in which instruction was being given in English. Despite all of this, we're continually told by proponents that it's not about race but about upholding the laws and securing our borders. Wrong. Let's be clear and upfront about what's happening here: it's mainly about fear and hatred, and it appears that it's only just begun.

From a peace and conflict studies perspective, these laws promise to deepen divisions, drive a wedge through communities, separate family units, and undermine constructive dialogue. They pit working people against one another, and require neighbors to police one another. In this light, these laws will foster a climate of suspicion and antipathy, in which violence - both rhetorical and physical - can flourish. Indeed, on some level these laws themselves potentially constitute a form of "hate crimes" by persecuting and scapegoating a particular group based on that group's identity, and thus raise the specter of racially motivated violence in our communities. Heartbreakingly, it's more than just a mere specter of violence at this point for Juan Varela's family, as recently reported by the Associated Press:

Tension surrounding the passage of Arizona's tough new law cracking down on illegal immigration contributed to the slaying of an Hispanic man, allegedly shot by a white neighbor, a representative of the dead man's family said Friday. Police and the family said the arrested man, 50-year-old Gary Thomas Kelley, allegedly directed racial slurs at 44-year-old Juan Daniel Varela before the May 6 shooting near their homes.... 'When you have talk that becomes aggressive, it escalates the violence,' said Carlos Galindo, a Phoenix radio commentator acting as a spokesman for Varela's relatives at a state Capitol news conference.

A local television report added further details, including a moving call from the family for peace in the face of potential violence likely to surge in the climate created by SB 1070:

The alleged killer was yelling racial slurs seconds before he fired the shots that killed 44-year-old Juan Varela. Varela was a third-generation American, yet his family claims he was called a "wetback" who was going to be sent back to Mexico by the man who murdered him.... Varela's nephew and namesake says he hopes his uncles death will not be in vain. 'That's the reason why we're here today is ... to talk about hope and non-violence that we would not turn on one another, that we would not hate one another but that we would turn together with love.' The family feels the hysteria over illegal immigration contributed to Varela's death.

More broadly, and taken to their logical extent, these new laws targeting and profiling certain groups brush against the unconscionable practices of "ethnic cleansing" that have been universally condemned under international law. If it can still be doubted that this is indeed the intent of SB 1070 in particular, the law's sponsor, State Senator Russell Peace, affirmed the rationale of displacement and forced expulsion in a recent statement defending its passage: "Our law is already working. One can just scan the newspapers and see dozens of headlines like 'Illegal Immigrants Leaving Arizona Over New Law: Tough, Controversial New Legislation Scares Many in Underground Workforce Out of State.'"

As in other conflict-ridden spheres where such draconian policies have taken hold - including in South Africa where a young man named Mohandas Gandhi resisted racially-motivated identification laws and restrictions on the mobility of Indians - these practices of displacement and induced fear devolve principally upon racial profiling and ethnic identification. When proponents tell you that it's not about race but about upholding the law, this is reminiscent of arguments put forth in the South in defense of poll taxes and literacy tests that plainly targeted African Americans. Such noxious racism is both legally and morally indefensible, and the demand that people produce their papers in the manner prescribed by SB 1070 smacks of a totalitarianism that has no place in a democracy. Driving the point home, a video primer on how police can determine who may be here illegally (released by SB 1070 architect Kris Kobach of FAIR) includes these nuggets: "speaks English poorly," "appears to be in transit or traveled a significant distance," "abruptly exiting from the highway," "out of place or unusual in a specific locale," and "indications from dress, appearance and demeanor that the person is an 'illegal alien'." The potential for abuse and discrimination in such frameworks is indeed palpable.

The racialized nature of Arizona's policies becomes immediately apparent when considering the message sent by passing SB 1070 and HB 2281 in succession, and apparently the ruling rightwing regime isn't done yet with their spate of hate bills. In the queue now are additional measures, including one (SB 1097) that would "compel teachers and administrators to determine the legal status of students and their families" and require annual reporting by schools on the "adverse impact of the enrollment of students who cannot prove lawful residence in the United States." (Note that only "adverse" impacts are to be reported, and not any positive impacts of such students.) A Phoenix news station obtained emails sent and received by Pearce, including some that detail his stated intention to circumvent the 14th Amendment by "push[ing] for an Arizona bill that would refuse to accept or issue a birth certificate that recognizes citizenship to those born to illegal aliens, unless one parent is a citizen." In these messages, Pearce validates the use of the pejorative term "anchor babies" - which is unsurprising given that in recent years he "has proposed equally odious legislation, such as only allowing Americans to wed Americans, sanctioning landlords who knowingly rent to illegal aliens, and so forth."

All of this militates strongly against the arguments alleging that the gist of Arizona's intentions are merely about upholding the law, as Sarah Palin argued in a recent visit to the state. If it's about the law and not invidious racism, then we should remedy the situation by providing a clear and workable path to legality for millions of hard-working people who contribute enormously to both our economy and culture. If it's about the law, then the U.S. Constitution must be upheld as well, including the 4th and 14th Amendments which guarantee freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures, due process, and equal protection under the law. We should never put police officers in an impossible situation where they are forced to choose between ethically doing their duty and following the laws of the land. And in fact, many of them have spoken out against SB 1070, and some have even sued to block its implementation.

Political wedge issues such as those raised by what's happening now in Arizona are intended to divide us, but the path to peace will be found by working together to resolve conflicts and address the important issues of the day. We ought to strive to turn this crisis into an opportunity to overcome fear and hatred. Palin did get one thing right in her speech here endorsing SB 1070: "We're all Arizonans now." Obviously she meant to exclude a number of constituencies from this calculus, but ironically she stumbled upon a deeper truth in this unfolding jeremiad. Just as the Danish scuttled the Nazis' plans by standing in solidarity with Jews and others being persecuted, so too can people of good conscience everywhere stand with Arizonans as we work to undo the hatred and repression in our midst.

We are quite likely in the throes of a new civil rights movement in America. The forces of hatred and fear have fomented the dilemma for public debate, and in that we may be grateful on some level for the opportunity to openly confront certain values that have been at work more covertly since the advent of laws prohibiting express racism in America. Extremism presents many dangers, and yet also possibilities, as Martin Luther King, Jr. observed in his poignant and still relevant Letter from a Birmingham Jail:

So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice?" In charting our course, we would do well to heed this reminder of the choice placed squarely before us today.

(c) 2010 Randall Amster J.D., Ph.D., teaches peace studies at Prescott College and serves as the executive director of the Peace & Justice Studies Association. His most recent book is the co-edited volume "Building Cultures of Peace: Transdisciplinary Voices of Hope and Action" (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009).

Dirty Linen Gets Intel Chief Fired
By Ray McGovern

The Senate Intelligence Committee's investigation of how 23-year-old Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab soiled his underpants with a makeshift bomb over Detroit last Christmas hung out so much dirty linen on the crowded clothes line of the U.S. intelligence community that it was an easy call to get rid of Director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair.

The Senate committee's findings released on Tuesday showed the community in all-too-familiar disarray - adrift with no helmsman strong, savvy and courageous enough to bang heads together to get the far-flung intelligence bureaucracies to cooperate. The report is a damning catalogue of misfeasance and mistakes.

Yet, given recent precedent, with the intelligence community screwing up so clearly and regularly with no accountability, the Christmas Day fiasco and other recent misadventures might not have been enough to send Blair packing.

Rather, the underpants-bomber fiasco should be seen as the proximate cause of Blair's abrupt departure - which came without so much as the de rigueur thank-you to President Obama for "the privilege of serving." Truth be told, the White House and the CIA have been out to get Blair for many months.

An incompetent manager? Seems so. But Blair, a retired four-star Navy admiral, also demonstrated a strain of integrity. And that can often be the kiss of death in Official Washington.

On substantive issues, like Iran's nuclear program, Blair did not show the malleability that is desired by those who are out to zap Iran; I believe it likely that these get-Iran hawks helped to zap Blair.

Denied His Own Staff

Last year, the hawks also had their feathers ruffled by Blair's choice of independent-minded former Ambassador Chas Freeman to be chair of the National Intelligence Council, without clearing this first with White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel.

The NIC has purview over the preparation of National Intelligence Estimates and the President' Daily Brief - the two premier intelligence publications.

Blair's choice of Freeman raised the ire of Washington's still-influential neoconservatives and their allies in the Obama administration because he was regarded as a "realist" on the Middle East, rather than someone who would side reflexively with Israel.

When rumors began to circulate about Freeman's appointment, the neocons unleashed a media barrage, denouncing his criticism of Israel and his associations with the Saudi and Chinese governments. One influential column, entitled "Obama's Intelligence Blunder," was published Feb. 28, 2009, on the Washington Post's neocon-dominated op-ed page, written by Jon Chait of The New Republic, another important neocon journal.

Still, on the morning of March 10, 2009, Blair described the high value that Freeman "will" bring to the job - "his long experience and inventive mind," for example.

Enter Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, and Joe Lieberman, I-Connecticut who simply could not abide someone in that post with open respect for the rights and interests of both sides of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. By five o'clock that afternoon, Freeman was told by Blair to announce that he (Freeman) had asked that his selection "not proceed."

To his credit, Freeman went down swinging. He made it clear that he was withdrawing his "previous acceptance" of Blair's invitation to chair the NIC because of the character assassination of him orchestrated by the Israel Lobby.

Freeman added: "The aim of this Lobby is control of the policy process through the exercise of a veto over the appointment of people who dispute the wisdom of its views ... and the exclusion of any and all options for decision by Americans and our government other than those it [the Lobby] favors."

Foreign policy analyst Chris Nelson described the imbroglio as a reflection of the "deadly power game regarding what level of support for controversial Israeli government policies is a 'requirement' for U.S. public office."

Schumer led Lobby boasting. "His [Freeman's] statements against Israel were way over the top," Schumer said. "I repeatedly urged the White House to reject him, and I am glad they did the right thing."

Though the Freeman flap soon faded away, Blair had suffered a political hit and had made some powerful enemies.

I recall the "morning after," as I found myself wondering when White House chief of staff Emanuel - who reportedly was Schumer's go-to guy on the get-Freeman campaign - saw fit to let Admiral Blair in on the little secret that no way could he have Freeman.

And I wondered why Blair tucked tail, rather than quit in protest of having his choice for the nation's senior intelligence analyst blackballed. It is, after all, a position that is supposed to be about objectivity, giving the President unvarnished information, not ideologically favored spin.

A Messy Structure

It seems clear now that Admiral Blair was doomed to failure from the start, as was the bureaucratic superstructure built around the Director of National Intelligence as a key reform that followed the twin intelligence failures on 9/11 and Iraq's WMD.

The DNI was given the supremely difficult task of ruling over the intelligence community, a responsibility previous invested in the Director of Central Intelligence. The job was hard enough, but Blair was hampered further because he lacked the strong personal support of President Obama.

I served under nine directors of central intelligence - several of them at close remove. Admiral Stansfield Turner, who was picked by his Naval Academy classmate Jimmy Carter, was the only one who really grasped the reins of the entire intelligence community and made it cohere.

A few years ago, as Admiral Turner and I sat together waiting to go into a TV studio, I had a chance to ask him how he was able to do that. To the best of my recollection, this is what he told me:

I was in command of the Sixth Fleet cruising in the Med when I was tipped off that I was about to get a call from the president-elect. There had been earlier signs that Carter was going to ask me to be his Director of Central Intelligence.

Now, Ray, when you know you're going to be made that kind of offer - one you can't really refuse - that's precisely the time when you need to think long and hard about how you might use what little bargaining power you may have at that point, in order to improve your chances for success in the new job. I had about ten minutes. Then the call came.

Mr. President-elect, I said, as a former naval officer you will be able to appreciate this conundrum I see. The job is twofold. I would have no trouble running the CIA - I can run the Sixth Fleet; I can run the CIA.

What gives me pause is the equally important - maybe more important - job of running the entire intelligence community. As a military man I am very reluctant to accept responsibility for something over which I have only tenuous authority.

And my experience with the intelligence community suggests that the fiefdoms that comprise it will not work together effectively, no matter what I say or do, UNLESS you make it clear that I have the authority derived from the President, commensurate with my responsibility in leading the entire community. If you can make that clear, I will accept the nomination with gusto.

Carter said he would take care of it and shortly thereafter came a directive from the President-elect to heads of the main national security and intelligence agencies and staffs. In it Carter announced he had selected Turner to be his DCI, that ALL addressees would cooperate fully with him as he harnesses the intelligence community behind the new administration's main objectives, and that he had instructed Turner to let him know immediately, should there be any sign that he was not getting the full and unfettered cooperation he would need as the chief intelligence adviser to the President. That did it, Turner told me.

Turner was too modest to add what I had already learned as a lesson about his tenure, that an effective director of the intelligence community needs the courage to put noses out of joint. He should NOT adopt "team player" mode that so many intelligence directors since Turner have succumbed to.

If Turner was not getting full cooperation from, say, the FBI, he would simply go down to the White House and let President Carter and/or his advisors know. The attorney general and/or the FBI director would promptly receive the necessary remedial instructions.

Consummate Team Player

Two decades later, "team player" George Tenet (the team being George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld) stood this on its head. Nary a nose did timid, incurious George put out of joint.

But Tenet, who had mastered the skills of serving his "principal" as a staff aide to Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman David Boren, was so well-liked in Washington that even the 9/11 Commission was reluctant to offer pointed criticism of his gross misfeasance in his community role.

(At one hearing, commissioner Jamie Gorelick fawned over Tenet, noting with admiring wonderment what she said especially distinguished him; namely, that everyone in the Establishment simply called him "George," and all automatically knew to whom they were referring. Amazing!)

Instead of affixing blame for 9/11, co-chair Lee Hamilton, Gorelick and others kept wringing their hands, complaining that no one was in charge of the intelligence community. True enough, but that was by no means solely due to the organizational anomaly that gave the DCI responsibility for managing both the agency and the entire intelligence community.

It had much more to do with Tenet's reluctance to give the needed time and attention to the rest of the community and make it work together. Tenet preferred to direct his gaze upward, drawing on the bureaucratic skills he had learned as a Capitol Hill aide, ingratiating himself with the powerful and never putting them - or himself - in an uncomfortable situation.

You don't insinuate yourself into top jobs in Washington, or get to stay in them, by knocking important noses out of joint, no matter how badly such disfigurement is needed. No one ever needed plastic surgery after an encounter with George Tenet.

On July 22, 2004, the day the 9/11 report was released, I had been asked to comment on it immediately at the BBC's studio in Washington. After expressing amazement at the report's bizarre bottom line, that the calamity seemed to be no one's fault, I emerged from the studio and promptly bumped into two commissioners, Jamie Gorelick and Slade Gorton. They had been waiting on deck in the outer room.

Gorelick went in first; I thought to myself, now's your chance, McGovern. I approached Gorton and said that I was bothered by the report's mantra that no one is in charge of the intelligence community and the commission's misguided notion that a new DNI superstructure should be placed atop it.

I said that no doubt you are well aware that, by statute, Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet is supposed to be in charge of the community and to ensure that all agencies cooperate.

Gorton put his arm around me, as senior ex-senators are wont to do, and in an avuncular voice (as if explaining something pretty basic to a freshman), said: "Yes, of course I know that, Ray. But Tenet would not do it."

My follow-up question was to be: So you all are advocating an entirely new superstructure just because George Tenet "would not do it?" Unfortunately, the door opened, Gorelick walked out and Gorton escaped into the studio.

The year 2004 was an election year and, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks and the commission report, members of Congress wished to be seen as doing something - anything. So, they moved to enact many of the 9/11 Commission's "reforms."

By then, the CIA and the just-resigned Tenet had been completely discredited, not only for failures prior to 9/11 but also for the unconscionable cooking of intelligence to justify war on Iraq.

Yet, instead of focusing on individual responsibility for 9/11 and the politicization of the CIA's analytical division - what might be called cultural failures - Congress found it easier to diagram a new bureaucracy.

Protests from intelligence professionals were seen as self-serving. So, we got a new Director of National Intelligence ostensibly to preside over the whole enchilada, but WITHOUT the kind of authority and support Carter gave Turner.

Admirals and Admirals

If recent years have proved anything, it is this: there are admirals; and then there are admirals.

Admirals in the mold of Stansfield Turner - like William (Fox) Fallon and Joint Chiefs' Chairman Mike Mullen - are one thing. They represent the tough independence that the Navy often requires of its senior officers.

Near the end of the Bush administration, Fallon and Mullen deserved most of the credit for facing down Vice President Dick Cheney and persuading President Bush that war with Iran would not be a good idea and that Israel needed to be told exactly that - in no uncertain terms. That was just three years ago; war was pretty close.

Then there are the admirals who know how to salute and avoid confrontations, the likes of Mike McConnell, who was snatched away from his sinecure as VP at Booz-Allen & Hamilton marketeer to become the second director of national intelligence, apparently because he was judged to be incapable of doing much harm.

What McConnell lacked in managerial knowhow, well, let me put it this way; he in no way made up for that lack by his substantive expertise. Three poignant illustrative vignettes involving the hapless McConnell come to mind.

(1) Testifying before the Senate, McConnell was asked to venture a guess as to why Israel might put forward a more alarming view of Iran's progress toward a nuclear weapon than that of the U.S. intelligence community. He was at a loss for an answer.

(2) At times McConnell would display his na•vetˇ by saying too much. The subject of torture came up in an interview McConnell gave Lawrence Wright of the New Yorker magazine. McConnell innocently told Wright that, for him:

"Waterboarding would be excruciating. If I had water draining into my nose, oh God, I just can't imagine how painful! Whether it's torture by anybody else's definition, for me it would be torture."

Later, McConnell let slip the rationale for the Bush administration's refusal to admit that waterboarding is torture. For anyone paying attention, that rationale had long been a no-brainer. But here is McConnell inadvertently articulating it:

"If it is ever determined to be torture, there will be a huge penalty to be paid for anyone engaging in it."

(3) More damning was "Malleable Mike" McConnell's attempts to finesse the key judgments of the bombshell NIE of November 2007, which directly contradicted what Bush and Cheney had been saying about the imminence of a nuclear threat from Iran.

Facing withering criticism from the likes of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger and the irrepressible former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton, McConnell backpedaled.

In testimony to the Senate on Feb. 5, 2008, he confessed to careless wording in the NIE due to time constraints, and even indicated he "probably would have changed a thing or two."

Whereas the NIE started out with a straightforward, "We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program," McConnell indicated he would now prefer to say, for example, that "maybe even the least significant portion [of the Iranian nuclear program; i. e., the warhead] was halted and there are other parts that continue."

A Mixed Bag

McConnell's successor Blair was in no way a strong manager as DNI. And with an increasingly bloated staff tripping over one another, there was little hope that Blair was up to the job of taking hold of the intelligence community.

Nor was there any sign that he ever thought to ask President Obama for the necessary endorsement and support. Besides, Blair seems to have been an innocent to the ways of Washington.

Anyone could have told him there would be no percentage in locking horns with CIA Director Leon Panetta with the latter's longstanding political connections in this town and a CIA staff that has proven past master at political infighting.

Worse still, Blair let himself be used in a way no U.S. intelligence official should permit. Those in the Obama administration who think it's a good idea to put U.S. citizens on the CIA assassination list needed to send up a trial balloon to see if Congress and the media would look the other way.

And so, in February, the White House inflated the balloon for Blair to float at a congressional hearing. He contended that there were certain counterterrorism cases that could involve killing an American citizen. There were very few objections from Official Washington.

Administration officials have since cited secret evidence showing that the Yemen-based Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki's connections to al-Qaeda have gone "operational," thus making him a target for killing even though he is a native-born American citizen. The Bill of Rights be damned.

I would wager Blair regrets letting himself be used like that. I have independent confirmation that during the Sixties at the Naval Academy the curriculum included a block of instruction on the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

A Saving Grace

There is one substantive matter of considerable significance, on which Blair did muster the courage to stand up. He withstood intense pressure from those wishing to exaggerate the danger that Iran could have a nuclear weapon soon.

There is no sign that whoever succeeds him will have the courage or the professionalism to face down those in Congress and the administration determined to exaggerate that threat, to the point where Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could be emboldened to launch a "pre-emptive" attack (the term now in vogue for what the post-WWII Nuremberg Tribunal called a "war of aggression").

In testimony before Congress early this year, Blair virtually wore out the subjunctive mood in addressing Iran's possible plans for a nuclear weapon. His paragraphs were replete with dependent clauses, virtually all of them beginning with "if."

Blair repeated verbatim the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate judgment that Iran is "keeping the option open to develop nuclear weapons," while also repeating the intelligence community's agnosticism on the $64 question: "We do not know, however, if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons."

Addressing the uranium enrichment plant at Qom, Blair said its small size and location under a mountain "fit nicely with a strategy of keeping the option open to build a nuclear weapon at some future date, if Tehran ever decides to do that."

Such "advancements lead us to affirm our judgment from the 2007 NIE that Iran is technically capable of producing enough HEU [highly enriched uranium] for a weapon in the next few years, if it chooses to do so."

Notably absent from Blair's testimony was the first "high confidence" judgment of the 2007 NIE that "in fall 2003 Iran halted its nuclear weapons program," and the "moderate confidence" assessment that Iran had not restarted it.

That was the most controversial judgment in 2007. But Blair did not disavow it. Nor did he weasel on it, as McConnell did. He simply didn't mention it - probably in an attempt to let that sleeping dog lie.

Possible Revisions

A "Memorandum to Holders" is intelligence jargon for updating a definitive estimate, like the one from November 2007, with any necessary changes. As has been the custom in recent years, one regarding the Iranian nuclear program has been delayed and delayed again. The Washington Post says it is now due in August.

There is no minimizing the importance of this update. It needs to be as honest as the earlier NIE, though that will take courage and clout.

In this sense, I regret Blair's departure. For those now in charge are relative non-entities with, truth be told, very little experience in intelligence work and still less clout. It is doubtful they will be able to stand up against the mounting pressures to paint Iran in the most alarmist colors.

The task is complicated by the recent tripartite Iran-Turkey-Brazil deal. With Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her neocon friends and supporters already trashing this viable initiative, it will take courage to point out clearly to the President the relative merits of allowing Iran to transfer half of its low enriched uranium to Turkey and then onward for further processing.

Except for the political pressures, not much courage should be needed. By any objective measure, the relative merits should be pretty obvious, IF one is willing to disappoint Israel. (Where is Chas Freeman when we need him?)

According to press reports, the leading candidate to succeed Dennis Blair is retired Air Force Lt. Gen. James Clapper, whose record does not inspire confidence. Clapper has a well-deserved reputation for giving consumers of intelligence what they want to hear.

He now serves as undersecretary of intelligence at the Defense Department, working for Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who was the chief bureaucrat responsible for politicizing U.S. intelligence in the 1980s as an apparatchik for CIA Director William Casey.

Some of my colleagues in Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity have the book on Clapper, who served as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency from 1991 to 1995. There, according to Larry Johnson, Clapper earned the reputation of "worst-ever DIA director."

Among other things, he restructured DIA's analytical corps, removing an analysis capability that would have been an invaluable asset in the period before 9/11 and succeeding years. As a direct result, hundreds of the most experienced analysts took early retirement, and DIA has had to play catch-up ever since to reconstruct its analytic capability.

Retired U.S. Army Col. Pat Lang, who held some of the most senior positions at DIA, told me Friday, "Clapper is a man who is just a walking mass of ambition."

What I find most damaging, though, is the fact that Clapper was head of the National Geo-spatial Agency from 2001 to 2006. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld chose well, for his purposes.

It is abundantly clear that Clapper smothered any imagery analyst who suggested that, since there was not a trace of WMD in the various kinds of available imagery of Iraq, there might not be any WMD.

Clapper, rather, was one to salute and enthusiastically subscribed to the Rumsfeld dictum: "The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence."

Quick, someone tell Barack Obama about Clapper before the President is led once again down the garden path.
(c) 2010 Ray McGovern served as a CIA analyst for 27 years -- from the administration of John F. Kennedy to that of George H. W. Bush. During the early 1980s, he was one of the writers/editors of the President's Daily Brief and briefed it one-on-one to the president's most senior advisers. He also chaired National Intelligence Estimates. In January 2003, he and four former colleagues founded Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.

Drill! Drill! Drill!
By Case Wagenvoord

Ah, the things we learn from a disaster. Estimates vary as to exactly how much oil BP's Deepwater Horizon oil rig is pumping into the Gulf of Mexico. Initially, BP said none, then a thousand barrels a day, which the federal government then bumped up to 5,000 a day.

BP won't allow any scientists to actually inspect the site, the Gulf having become BP's proprietary body of water. However, scientists did get hold of a film clip of the spewing oil and estimated that at one time upwards of 70,000 barrels of oil a day was pouring into the Gulf.

Michael Klare has written extensively on oil, and he brings up a little noticed point about the Gulf disaster. The assumption has been that BP was sending its drill 13,500 feet beneath the surface of the Gulf in a frantic effort to decrease our dependence on foreign oil. After all, why be dependent on all those Mideast countries when we've got good old American crude just waiting for us below the Gulf. "Drill, drill, drill," as Sarah is fond of saying and get that oil to the nearest gas station so America can keep driving as she always has.

This was not the case, according to Klare. He tells us:

"There, is, however, some indication that the company was in an unseemly rush to complete the cementing of the Mississippi Canyon 252 well-a procedure that would cap it until the company was ready to undertake commercial extraction of the oil stored below. It could then have moved the rig rented from Transocean Ltd., at $500,000 per day, to another prospective drill site in search of yet more oil."

As always, it gets down to the bottom line. Klare goes on to explain:

The major energy firms have their own compelling reasons for a growing involvement in the exploitation of extreme energy options. Each year, to prevent the value of their share from falling, these companies must replace the oil extracted from their existing reservoirs with new reserves.

The easy stuff is pretty much tied up by state-owned oil, which means that domestic companies like BP must go into for some high-risk drilling if they are to keep their balance sheet intact.

Though, speaking of a "domestic" oil company is a bit of a misnomer. The oil market is an international market, and any oil company, domestic or foreign, will sell oil to whoever offers the best price. So that oil pouring into the Gulf could have very well been used to power industrial plants in China or automobiles in India.

As it stands now, that oil's not going anyplace except the Gulf Coast.
(c) 2010 Case Wagenvoord. Some years ago, Case Wagenvoord turned off the tube and picked up a book. He's been trouble ever since. His articles have been posted at The Smirking Chimp, Countercurrents and Issues & Alibis. When he's not writing or brooding, he is carving hardwood bowls that have been displayed in galleries and shows across the country. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and two cats. His book, Open Letters to George W. Bush is available at

Balance; A Powerful Word
By Mike Folkerth

Good Morning all of you bright minds out there in reality land; your King of Simple News is on the air.

I want to remind all of my local readers that I am running for a directorship at DMEA and that your ballots will arrive this week. Please take the time to vote and please encourage others to do the same. Thanks for any help that you can give me via e-mail and word of mouth.

Now on to what makes our world go around without wobbling. A little word such as "balance" has important connotations. In fact, if that simple word that we all understand so well were used as a key factor when making policy, the world would produce a much smoother ride.

Balance, when applied to power, wealth, and consumption are all critical factors that are given zero credence in our modern society. A small percentage of our population now holds nearly all power and wealth, and therefore this group necessarily consumes at highly elevated levels when compared to the average Joe and Joan.

We lack balance in America. CEOs make 300 to 400 times the wage as their employees. Children born into rich and powerful families represent the birthright social position that is akin to an aristocracy. You may remember that our total disdain for aristocracies created the Revolutionary War.

Politicians and most government employees are now living well above the level of those who they supposedly serve. Black tie dinners with fine champagne being toasted among foreign dignitaries occur within blocks of those working Americans who are losing their employment and their homes. Where's the balance?

How could it be otherwise in a nation where 20% of the people control 85% of the wealth? How could average Americans be thriving when the imbalance is so pronounced?

Our current aristocracy has a love affair with unemployment. After all, the unemployment situation in America is not an accident. Bill Clinton did not accidentally sign NAFTA and the WTO agreements.

The solution to our unemployment is simple; pass a law that requires all products possible to be made in America until such time that unemployment falls below 5%.

Or another way of accomplishing the same thing would be to apply tariffs to all incoming goods at levels that would assure parity with our standard of living. In other words, balance.

American's livelihoods cannot be pitted against the poorest people on earth. There is a great imbalance between our standard of living and say those in Red China. Our leadership is well aware that this type of global leveling process will destroy Middle America while enriching the 10% at the top.

It is important to fully comprehend that our American culture was not an accident; in fact, anything but an accident. We have a Constitution that represents the most brilliant document that was ever produced on earth.

One of the greatest equalizers that the framers of the Constitution incorporated in that document was balance. That is why the federal government has limited power with which to abuse the people and enrich themselves.

Balance is a vital element that must be included in any policy or rule making. Everything that counts can't be counted in dollars and cents.
(c) 2010 Mike Folkerth is not your run-of-the-mill author of economics. Nor does he write in boring lecture style. Not even close. The former real estate broker, developer, private real estate fund manager, auctioneer, Alaskan bush pilot, restaurateur, U.S. Navy veteran, heavy equipment operator, taxi cab driver, fishing guide, horse packer...(I won't go on, it's embarrassing) writes from experience and plain common sense. He is the author of "The Biggest Lie Ever Believed."

The Quotable Quote...

"When the people fear the government you have tyranny...when the government fears the people you have liberty."
~~~ Thomas Jefferson

The Greeks Get It
By Chris Hedges

Here's to the Greeks. They know what to do when corporations pillage and loot their country. They know what to do when Goldman Sachs and international bankers collude with their power elite to falsify economic data and then make billions betting that the Greek economy will collapse. They know what to do when they are told their pensions, benefits and jobs have to be cut to pay corporate banks, which screwed them in the first place. Call a general strike. Riot. Shut down the city centers. Toss the bastards out. Do not be afraid of the language of class warfare-the rich versus the poor, the oligarchs versus the citizens, the capitalists versus the proletariat. The Greeks, unlike most of us, get it.

The former right-wing government of Greece lied about the size of the country's budget deficit. It was not 3.7 percent of gross domestic product but 13.6 percent. And it now looks like the economies of Spain, Ireland, Italy and Portugal are as bad as Greece's, which is why the euro has lost 20 percent of its value in the last few months. The few hundred billion in bailouts for other faltering European states, like our own bailouts, have only forestalled disaster. This is why the U.S. stock exchange is in free fall and gold is rocketing upward. American banks do not have heavy exposure in Greece, but Greece, as most economists concede, is only the start. Wall Street is deeply invested in other European states, and when the unraveling begins the foundations of our own economy will rumble and crack as loudly as the collapse in Athens. The corporate overlords will demand that we too impose draconian controls and cuts or see credit evaporate. They have the money and the power to hurt us. There will be more unemployment, more personal and commercial bankruptcies, more foreclosures and more human misery. And the corporate state, despite this suffering, will continue to plunge us deeper into debt to make war. It will use fear to keep us passive. We are being consumed from the inside out. Our economy is as rotten as the economy in Greece. We too borrow billions a day to stay afloat. We too have staggering deficits, which can never be repaid. Heed the dire rhetoric of European leaders.

"The euro is in danger," German Chancellor Angela Merkel told lawmakers last week as she called on them to approve Germany's portion of the bailout plan. "If we do not avert this danger, then the consequences for Europe are incalculable, and then the consequences beyond Europe are incalculable."

Beyond Europe means us. The right-wing government of Kostas Karamanlis, which preceded the current government of George Papandreou, did what the Republicans did under George W. Bush. They looted taxpayer funds to enrich their corporate masters and bankrupt the country. They stole hundreds of millions of dollars from individual retirement and pension accounts slowly built up over years by citizens who had been honest and industrious. They used mass propaganda to make the population afraid of terrorists and surrender civil liberties, including habeas corpus. And while Bush and Karamanlis, along with the corporate criminal class they abetted, live in unparalleled luxury, ordinary working men and women are told they must endure even more pain and suffering to make amends. It is feudal rape. And there has to be a point when even the American public-which still believes the fairy tale that personal will power and positive thinking will lead to success-will realize it has been had.

We have seen these austerity measures before. Latin Americans, like the Russians, were forced by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to gut social services, end subsidies on basic goods and food, and decimate the income levels of the middle class-the foundation of democracy-in the name of fiscal responsibility. Small entrepreneurs, especially farmers, were wiped out. State industries were sold off by corrupt government officials to capitalists for a fraction of their value. Utilities and state services were privatized.

What is happening in Greece, what will happen in Spain and Portugal, what is starting to happen here in states such as California, is the work of a global, white-collar criminal class. No government, including our own, will defy them. It is up to us. Barack Obama is simply the latest face that masks the corporate state. His administration serves corporate interests, not ours. Obama, like Goldman Sachs or Citibank, does not want the public to see how the Federal Reserve Bank acts as a private account and ATM machine for Wall Street at our expense. He, too, has helped orchestrate the largest transference of wealth upward in American history. He serves our imperial wars, refuses to restore civil liberties, and has not tamed our crippling deficits. His administration gutted regulatory agencies that permitted BP to turn the Gulf of Mexico into a toxic swamp. The refusal of Obama to intervene in a meaningful way to save the gulf's ecosystem and curtail the abuses of the natural gas and oil corporations is not an accident. He knows where power lies. BP and its employees handed more than $3.5 million to federal candidates over the past 20 years, with the largest chunk of their money going to Obama, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

We are facing the collapse of the world's financial system. It is the end of globalization. And in these final moments the rich are trying to get all they can while there is still time. The fusion of corporatism, militarism and internal and external intelligence agencies-much of their work done by private contractors-has given these corporations terrifying mechanisms of control. Think of it, as the Greeks do, as a species of foreign occupation. Think of the Greek riots as a struggle for liberation.

Dwight Macdonald laid out the consequences of a culture such as ours, where the waging of war was "the normal mode of existence." The concept of perpetual war, which eluded the theorists behind the 19th and early 20th century reform and social movements, including Karl Marx, has left social reformers unable to deal with this effective mechanism of mass control. The old reformists had limited their focus to internal class struggle and, as Macdonald noted, never worked out "an adequate theory of the political significance of war." Until that gap is filled, Macdonald warned, "modern socialism will continue to have a somewhat academic flavor."

Macdonald detailed in his 1946 essay "The Root Is Man" the marriage between capitalism and permanent war. He despaired of an effective resistance until the permanent war economy, and the mentality that went with it, was defeated. Macdonald, who was an anarchist, saw that the Marxists and the liberal class in Western democracies had both mistakenly placed their faith for human progress in the goodness of the state. This faith, he noted, was a huge error. The state, whether in the capitalist United States or the communist Soviet Union, eventually devoured its children. And it did this by using the organs of mass propaganda to keep its populations afraid and in a state of endless war. It did this by insisting that human beings be sacrificed before the sacred idol of the market or the utopian worker's paradise. The war state provides a constant stream of enemies, whether the German Hun, the Bolshevik, the Nazi, the Soviet agent or the Islamic terrorist. Fear and war, Macdonald understood, was the mechanism that let oligarchs pillage in the name of national security.

"Modern totalitarianism can integrate the masses so completely into the political structure, through terror and propaganda, that they become the architects of their own enslavement," he wrote. "This does not make the slavery less, but on the contrary more- a paradox there is no space to unravel here. Bureaucratic collectivism, not capitalism, is the most dangerous future enemy of socialism."

Macdonald argued that democratic states had to dismantle the permanent war economy and the propaganda that came with it. They had to act and govern according to the non-historical and more esoteric values of truth, justice, equality and empathy. Our liberal class, from the church and the university to the press and the Democratic Party, by paying homage to the practical dictates required by hollow statecraft and legislation, has lost its moral voice. Liberals serve false gods. The belief in progress through war, science, technology and consumption has been used to justify the trampling of these non-historical values. And the blind acceptance of the dictates of globalization, the tragic and false belief that globalization is a form of inevitable progress, is perhaps the quintessential illustration of Macdonald's point. The choice is not between the needs of the market and human beings. There should be no choice. And until we break free from serving the fiction of human progress, whether that comes in the form of corporate capitalism or any other utopian vision, we will continue to emasculate ourselves and perpetuate needless human misery. As the crowds of strikers in Athens understand, it is not the banks that are important but the people who raise children, build communities and sustain life. And when a government forgets whom it serves and why it exists, it must be replaced.

"The Progressive makes History the center of his ideology," Macdonald wrote in "The Root Is Man." "The Radical puts Man there. The Progressive's attitude is optimistic both about human nature (which he thinks is good, hence all that is needed is to change institutions so as to give this goodness a chance to work) and about the possibility of understanding history through scientific method. The Radical is, if not exactly pessimistic, at least more sensitive to the dual nature; he is skeptical about the ability of science to explain things beyond a certain point; he is aware of the tragic element in man's fate not only today but in any collective terms (the interests of Society or the Working Class); the Radical stresses the individual conscience and sensibility. The Progressive starts off from what is actually happening; the Radical starts off from what he wants to happen. The former must have the feeling that History is 'on his side.' The latter goes along the road pointed out by his own individual conscience; if History is going his way, too, he is pleased; but he is quite stubborn about following 'what ought to be' rather than 'what is.' "
(c) 2010 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. He is the author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. His latest book is, "Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle."

Liberated From Libertarianism
Rand Paul Runs and Hides from ... Rand Paul
By David Michael Green

Maybe we can finally have a serious discussion in this country about the lunacies of libertarianism.

I doubt it. This is, after all, America. I doubt we'd know an intelligent political discourse if it whacked us upside the haid.

But now we have Rand Paul, son of Ron, marching toward the United States Senate, with a mission to "take back our government." Oh boy.

I might be able to get a little bit excited about that if it really was his goal. The truth is that the American government exists almost entirely to serve the interests of the American plutocracy. If libertarians want to break that evil connection, well, then, definitely give me a shout. I'll be glad to pitch in.

But, of course, you pretty much never hear them talk about that part as they rant about the evils of government.

What do libertarians actually want, Herr Doktor? It's not entirely clear to me that they know themselves. They're pretty good with the shibboleths, but always seem to have trouble beyond that. That's because it is precisely on the other side of the sappy slogans where the contradictions of libertarianism come glaringly into focus. This is the place where naive but kindly people would say "Wot, I signed up for that?," and that's exactly why libertarians don't want to go there.

Such avoidance of reality is not only rarely a problem in American political discourse, it's nearly a national religion. In this sense, the discussion Rand Paul had with Rachel Maddow the other night was doubly instructive. First, because Paul - the national savior on horseback du jour - was reduced to repeated instances of the most basic, and base, political maneuvering in order to come to grips with the implications of his own ideology.

And, second, because Maddow gave us a partial reminder of what good journalism would actually look like in America. She didn't actually get quite all the way to where she should have gone, but her polite, thoughtful and semi-relentless questioning of her guest was as foreign to what passes for journalism in this country today as would be six-headed fourteen-dimensional gaseous creatures from a distant galaxy. Maddow is fast becoming a national treasure, which says a lot about her, but, regrettably, a lot more about her colleagues in the 'news' business.

There are several key explanations for the rise of the insane right over the last three decades, but surely one of them has been the compliance of the mainstream media. Politicians have been able to make the most absurdly ridiculous and hypocritical statements without fear of being called on them. And if they ever were, they need only repeat the same line in some slightly different variation, and that's the end of the affair - media lapdogs are well trained to cease and desist. One of Maddow's great virtues - which ought to be a sine qua non for anyone calling themselves a journalist - is her doggedness.

To see what I mean, check out this paraphrased approximation (not too far from verbatim, actually) of her conversation with Rand Paul the other night:

MADDOW: Congratulations on your big victory last night. Do you believe that private business people should be able to not serve black people or gays or any other minority group?

PAUL: I don't believe in racism. I don't think there should be any governmental or institutional racism. Now I'm going to go into a long diversionary soliloquy about William Lloyd Garrison, an early nineteenth century abolitionist, and also about when 'desegregation' [actually anti-discrimination] legislation was passed into law in Boston...

MADDOW: Yes, okay, that was pretty weird. But what about private businesses who might want to not serve blacks or gays? Should they have the legal right to do so?

PAUL: We had incredible problems with racism in the 1950s concerning voting, schools and public housing. This is what civil rights addressed and what I largely agree with.

MADDOW: But what about private businesses? I don't want to be badgering you on this, but I do want an answer.

PAUL: I'm not in favor of any discrimination of any form, I would never belong to any club that excluded anybody for race. What's important here is to not get into any sort of "gotcha" on the question of race, but to ask the question, "What about freedom of speech?" Should we limit speech from people we find abhorrent?

MADDOW: The Civil Rights Act was created to take away the right of individual business owners to discriminate, taking away their right to make that decision. Which side of that debate are you on?

PAUL: In the totality of it, I'm in favor of the federal government being involved in civil rights, which is mostly what the Civil Rights Act was about. I'm opposed to any form of governmental racism or discrimination or segregation.

MADDOW: The reason that this is something I'm not letting go of this is because it effects real people's lives. This question involves the matter of private discrimination in public accommodations. Should that be allowed?

PAUL: The debate involves a lot of court cases with regard to the commerce clause. Many states are now saying that they have a right to force restaurant owners to allow people to enter with guns even if the owners don't want them to. So you see how this issue can cut both ways, against liberals too.

MADDOW: What if the owner of a restaurant or a swimming pool or a bowling alley wanted to segregate their facility? Should they be allowed to do so under your world view?

PAUL: We did some very important things in the 1960s that I'm all in favor of. That was desegregating schools, public transportation, water fountains.

MADDOW: How about lunch counters?

PAUL: Well, if you do that, then can the owner of the restaurant keep out guns? Does the owner of a restaurant own his restaurant or does the government own his restaurant?

MADDOW: Should Woolworths lunch counters have been left to be segregated? Sir, just yes or no?

PAUL: I don't believe in any discrimination. If you believe in regulating private ownership, you have to decide on whether you also want to force guns in restaurants when the owner doesn't want them. This is a red herring being used by my political opponents. It's an abstract, obscure conversation from 1964 that you want to bring up. Every fiber of my being doesn't believe in discrimination, doesn't believe that we should have that in our society, and to imply otherwise is just dishonest.

MADDOW: I couldn't disagree with you more on this issue, but I thank you for coming on the show and having this civilized discussion about it...

So, by my count, Maddow asks Paul the core question here no fewer than eight times in a row. This is precisely what she should have been doing, and in doing so she provides a huge service to American society. If I were to fault her anywhere, it would be only for not identifying Paul's diversionary tactics for what they were, calling them out, and thereby pushing them off the table. I would have liked to have seen her say, "With respect, sir, we're not talking about that. Or that, or that, or that. We're talking about this."

And she would have needed to do that several times over, because Paul's game here is to shift the discussion to domains where he is more comfortable, and where the problems with his ideology don't show up so readily. Maddow says let's talk about discrimination in privately-held public accommodations, and he says let's talk about my lack of prejudice. She tries again and he wants to discuss governmental discrimination. She repeats the question and he says let's talk about nineteenth century history. She asks once more and he starts talking about censorship and the First Amendment. She tries yet again and he changes the topic to guns, which involves legislating behavior, rather than race, which concerns who you are. She asks still another time and he cries foul, claiming that this is some obscure red herring being used by his opponents for purposes of political assassination.

All of these are diversionary lies, meant to avoid the unpleasant realities of what libertarianism would actually look like in action. But the last lie is the most egregious. The entire reason for Rand Paul's existence right now - which is also almost literally true, given that he has the unfortunate burden of being named for Ayn Rand, a twisted soul if ever there was - is his premise of reclaiming American government in the name of liberty for the American people. That's who he is. That's what he represents himself to be. That's his political shtick, his raison d'etre. What the Maddow interview reveals, however, is that he's really just another politician trying to win office, not a crusader at all. And what it also reveals is just how bankrupt are those libertarian notions if you look at them at all closely.

The ideology has some nice bumper-sticker like appeal, especially for the more simplistic among us. I mean, who, after all, could be against more freedom? And, indeed, when it comes to social issues, the libertarians have it exactly right. The government shouldn't be in the business of controlling women's bodies, or telling people what substances they can imbibe, or who they can sleep with or marry, or whether they can end their own lives should they choose to. But you don't need to be a libertarian to get to those places. These are also progressive ideas as well.

Where libertarianism breaks down is in assuming that we can all just do what we want and it will work out great. And in assuming that all private actors are essentially well intentioned. Neither of these is true, and a libertarian society would leave each of us at the mercy of these twin fallacies. And that's an ugly place to be, let me tell you.

Suppose you bought a house and had a fat mortgage outstanding on it. Now the guy who owns the plot next door decides to build an abattoir on his land. You can't live in your house anymore because of the nauseating, permeating, stink. You also can't sell it, because no one else wants to live there either. And you're still stuck paying the mortgage, probably plunging you into bankruptcy since you're now also paying rent to live somewhere else. Why did all this happen? Because you voted for that libertarian city council, and they threw out all the zoning laws on the books, preferring maximum freedom for use of private property instead. Aren't you thrilled about how that worked out?

So you pack all your belongings in your car and decide to drive away. But you turn around after going just a couple of miles, because everybody drives on any side of the road they want to, whenever they want to, and it's scary dangerous out there. Why? Because the libertarian state government you elected - true to its principles - eliminated all such driving laws as the restrictions on personal freedom they truly are.

So maybe you'll fly instead, eh? Oops. Sorry. That's just as frightening. The new libertarian federal government eliminated the FAA and all its restrictions on private carriers as an invasion of their corporate liberties. No red tape here anymore! No onerous regulations! Now each carrier can hire whomever it wants, at whatever salary, to do whatever amount of safety inspection it deems appropriate. Or none at all. No reason to worry, though. I'm sure a corporation would never cut corners in order to maximize profits, right?

Well, actually, never mind - the flying off to a better place idea is moot anyhow. You see, there's no airport in your town. No private actors had either the resources or the motivation to build one. And since government is evil, they never did the job either. Which is also why you're about to lose you job, as well. With no ports, trains, highways, internet or other mass infrastructure, the US is about to become an economic actor more or less on the scale of Togo. Congratulations on that bright move, my libertarian friend! How does the freedom of chronic unemployment taste? Yummy, eh?

But, really, what do you care, anyhow? Your water is polluted because anyone can dump anything into it they want. Ditto with your filthy air. And global warming is about to take out all the living things on the planet, anyhow. We will be quite free to die, thanks to libertarianism.

Well, all is not lost. At least you can walk down to your local dining establishment and have a nice meal without having to fear the presence of darkies or queers in the same room with you. That pretty much makes it all worth it, no?

We could go on and on from here, but why bother? The point is made. The problem with libertarianism is that it is a child's candy store fantasy. Lots of sugar, no nutritional value. It's the Mel Gibson ("Freeeee-dom!!") of political ideologies. The ugly truth is that we hominids are social animals, not atomistic asteroids, each flying through space in our own little orbit. At the end of the day, the simultaneous great delight and awful curse of our humanness is, ultimately, each other.

That is not to say that individual liberty is not important. It is, and I no more favor libertarianism's opposite number, totalitarianism, than I do the lunacy of Ayn Rand, who spent her life (vastly over-)reacting to the Stalinism of her youth. I don't want to live in either of those worlds. It's just that it's naive and juvenile to believe that what is required here is anything other than some sort of difficult balance between the needs of the individual and those of society. That's the only solution that works.

One would think we might have learned this lesson of late. We've just come through an era of wholesale foolish deregulation in the name of setting free Americans and their productive capacities. The whole of our ethos of political economy these last three decades could easily be boiled down to a single bumper-sticker: "Government Bad, Industry Good". So now we might wanna ask ourselves, as Sarah Palin would put it (assuming she had a brain larger than a centipede's), "How's that whole deregulatey depressiony thing working out for you?"

Sorry, Mr. Paul. Just when we've seen precisely what happens when greedy individuals with all the morality of mafia hit men are allowed to do whatever they want by a government that is completely coopted by them on a good day, and utterly AWOL the rest of the time, you come talking to me about more 'freedom' from government intrusion?!?! Are you joking?

Government, as imperfect and downright lethal as it can be when in the hands of those who use it for the wrong purposes, is the instrument and expression of the public will. It is the tool through which society conveys its values and seeks to achieve our mutual goals. And it is meant to be triumphant over private actors because societal needs (which, by the way, can, should and often do include government protecting individual liberties - see, for example, "Rights, Bill of") are broadly more important than those of the individual.

It would be a mark of our (return to) political maturity if we could acknowledge that.

If that's too much to ask, though, I wonder if my libertarian friends would at least be willing to take ownership of the real implications of their own ideology.

I mean, if you guys are just going to practice deceit and hypocrisy, why bother taking over the Republican Party?

Those guys are already experts.
(c) 2010 David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York. He is delighted to receive readers' reactions to his articles, but regrets that time constraints do not always allow him to respond. More of his work can be found at his website,

The Dead Letter Office...

Ken gives the corporate salute!

Heil Obama,

Dear Deputyfuhrer Salazar,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, your allowing the oil companies to drill in the Gulf without any environmental permits and categorical exclusions, i.e., carte blanche to do as they please, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Cabinet Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds, presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 05-30-2010. We salute you Herr Salazar, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

A detainee holding cell is pictured at the detention
center at the U.S. Bagram Air Base, north of Kabal

Obama Wins The Right To Detain People With No Habeas Review
By Glenn Greenwald

Few issues highlight Barack Obama's extreme hypocrisy the way that Bagram does. As everyone knows, one of George Bush's most extreme policies was abducting people from all over the world -- far away from any battlefield -- and then detaining them at Guantanamo with no legal rights of any kind, not even the most minimal right to a habeas review in a federal court. Back in the day, this was called "Bush's legal black hole." In 2006, Congress codified that policy by enacting the Military Commissions Act, but in 2008, the Supreme Court, in Boumediene v. Bush, ruled that provision unconstitutional, holding that the Constitution grants habeas corpus rights even to foreign nationals held at Guantanamo. Since then, detainees have won 35 out of 48 habeas hearings brought pursuant to Boumediene, on the ground that there was insufficient evidence to justify their detention.

Immediately following Boumediene, the Bush administration argued that the decision was inapplicable to detainees at Bagram -- including even those detained outside of Afghanistan but then flown to Afghanistan to be imprisoned. Amazingly, the Bush DOJ -- in a lawsuit brought by Bagram detainees seeking habeas review of their detention -- contended that if they abduct someone and ship them to Guantanamo, then that person (under Boumediene) has the right to a habeas hearing, but if they instead ship them to Bagram, then the detainee has no rights of any kind. In other words, the detainee's Constitutional rights depends on where the Government decides to drop them off to be encaged. One of the first acts undertaken by the Obama DOJ that actually shocked civil libertarians was when, last February, as The New York Times put it, Obama lawyers "told a federal judge that military detainees in Afghanistan have no legal right to challenge their imprisonment there, embracing a key argument of former President Bush's legal team."

But last April, John Bates, the Bush-43-appointed, right-wing judge overseeing the case, rejected the Bush/Obama position and held that Boumediene applies to detainees picked up outside of Afghanistan and then shipped to Bagram. I reviewed that ruling here, in which Judge Bates explained that the Bagram detainees are "virtually identical to the detainees in Boumediene," and that the Constitutional issue was exactly the same: namely, "the concern that the President could move detainees physically beyond the reach of the Constitution and detain them indefinitely."

But the Obama administration was undeterred by this loss. They quickly appealed Judge Bates' ruling. As the NYT put it about that appeal: "The decision signaled that the administration was not backing down in its effort to maintain the power to imprison terrorism suspects for extended periods without judicial oversight." Today, a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals adopted the Bush/Obama position, holding that even detainees abducted outside of Afghanistan and then shipped to Bagram have no right to contest the legitimacy of their detention in a U.S. federal court, because Boumediene does not apply to prisons located within war zones (such as Afghanistan).

So congratulations to the United States and Barack Obama for winning the power to abduct people anywhere in the world and then imprison them for as long as they want with no judicial review of any kind. When the Boumediene decision was issued in the middle of the 2008 presidential campaign, John McCain called it "one of the worst decisions in the history of this country." But Obama hailed it as "a rejection of the Bush Administration's attempt to create a legal black hole at Guantanamo," and he praised the Court for "rejecting a false choice between fighting terrorism and respecting habeas corpus." Even worse, when Obama went to the Senate floor in September, 2006, to speak against the habeas-denying provisions of the Military Commissions Act, this is what he melodramatically intoned:

As a parent, I can also imagine the terror I would feel if one of my family members were rounded up in the middle of the night and sent to Guantanamo without even getting one chance to ask why they were being held and being able to prove their innocence. . . .

By giving suspects a chance -- even one chance -- to challenge the terms of their detention in court, to have a judge confirm that the Government has detained the right person for the right suspicions, we could solve this problem without harming our efforts in the war on terror one bit. . . .

Most of us have been willing to make some sacrifices because we know that, in the end, it helps to make us safer. But restricting somebody's right to challenge their imprisonment indefinitely is not going to make us safer. In fact, recent evidence shows it is probably making us less safe.

Can you smell the hypocrisy? How could anyone miss its pungent, suffocating odor? Apparently, what Obama called "a legal black hole at Guantanamo" is a heinous injustice, but "a legal black hole at Bagram" is the Embodiment of Hope. And evidently, Obama would only feel "terror" if his child were abducted and taken to Guantanamo and imprisoned "without even getting one chance to ask why and prove their innocence." But if the very same child were instead taken to Bagram and treated exactly the same way, that would be called Justice -- or, to use his jargon, Pragmatism. And what kind of person hails a Supreme Court decision as "protecting our core values" -- as Obama said of Boumediene -- only to then turn around and make a complete mockery of that ruling by insisting that the Cherished, Sacred Rights it recognized are purely a function of where the President orders a detainee-carrying military plane to land?

Independently, what happened to Obama's eloquent insistence that "restricting somebody's right to challenge their imprisonment indefinitely is not going to make us safer; in fact, recent evidence shows it is probably making us less safe"? How does our policy of invading Afghanistan and then putting people at Bagram with no charges of any kind dispose people in that country, and the broader Muslim world, to the United States? If a country invaded the U.S. and set up prisons where Americans from around the world where detained indefinitely and denied all rights to have their detention reviewed, how would it dispose you to the country which was doing that?

One other point: this decision is likely to be appealed to the Supreme Court, which serves to further highlight how important the Kagan-for-Stevens replacement could be. If the Court were to accept the appeal, Kagan would be required to recuse herself (since it was her Solicitor General's office that argued the administration's position here), which means that a 4-4 ruling would be likely, thus leaving this appellate decision undisturbed. More broadly, though, if Kagan were as sympathetic to Obama's executive power claims as her colleagues in the Obama administration are, then her confirmation could easily convert decisions on these types of questions from a 5-4 victory (which is what Boumediene was, with Stevens in the majority) into a 5-4 defeat. Maybe we should try to find out what her views are before putting her on that Court for the next 40 years?

This is what Barack Obama has done to the habeas clause of the Constitution: if you are in Thailand (as one of the petitioners in this case was) and the U.S. abducts you and flies you to Guantanamo, then you have the right to have a federal court determine if there is sufficient evidence to hold you. If, however, President Obama orders that you be taken to from Thailand to Bagram rather than to Guantanamo, then you will have no rights of any kind, and he can order you detained there indefinitely without any right to a habeas review. That type of change is so very inspiring -- almost an exact replica of his vow to close Guantanamo . . . all in order to move its core attributes (including indefinite detention) a few thousand miles North to Thompson, Illinois.

Real estate agents have long emphasized "location, location, location" as the all-determining market factor. Before we elected this Constitutional Scholar as Commander-in-Chief, who knew that this platitude also shaped our entire Constitution?

UPDATE: Law Professor Steve Vladeck has more on the ruling, including "the perverse incentive that today's decision supports," as predicted by Justice Scalia in his Boumediene dissent: namely, that a President attempting to deny Constitutional rights to detainees can simply transfer them to a "war zone" instead of to Guantanamo and then claim that courts cannot interfere in the detention. Barack Obama quickly adopted that tactic for rendering the rights in Boumediene moot -- the same rights which, less than two years ago, he was praising the Supreme Court for safeguarding and lambasting the Bush administration for denying. Vladeck also explains why the appellate court's caveat -- that overt government manipulation to evade habeas rights (i.e., shipping them to a war zone with the specific intent of avoiding Boumediene) might alter the calculus -- is rather meaningless.

UPDATE II: Guest-hosting for Rachel Maddow last night, Chris Hayes talked with Shayana Kadidal of the Center for Constitutional Rights about the Bagram ruling and Obama's hypocrisy on these issues, and it was quite good, including a video clip of the 2006 Obama speech I excerpted above. And in The New York Times, Charlie Savage has a typically thorough examination of the impact of the ruling. As he writes: "The decision was a broad victory for the Obama administration in its efforts to hold terrorism suspects overseas for indefinite periods without judicial oversight." But GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham (author of the habeas-denying provision in the Military Commissions Act) "called the ruling a 'big win' and praised the administration for appealing the lower court's ruling," and that's what really matters.
(c) 2010 Glenn Greenwald. was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book "How Would a Patriot Act?," a critique of the Bush administration's use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, "A Tragic Legacy," examines the Bush legacy.

The Old Enemies
By Paul Krugman

Much reporting on opposition to the Obama administration portrays it as a sort of populist uprising. Yet the antics of the socialism-and-death-panels crowd are only part of the story of anti-Obamaism, and arguably the less important part. If you really want to know what's going on, watch the corporations.

How can you do that? Follow the money - donations by corporate political action committees.

Look, for example, at the campaign contributions of commercial banks - traditionally Republican-leaning, but only mildly so. So far this year, according to The Washington Post, 63 percent of spending by banks' corporate PACs has gone to Republicans, up from 53 percent last year. Securities and investment firms, traditionally Democratic-leaning, are now giving more money to Republicans. And oil and gas companies, always Republican-leaning, have gone all out, bestowing 76 percent of their largess on the G.O.P.

These are extraordinary numbers given the normal tendency of corporate money to flow to the party in power. Corporate America, however, really, truly hates the current administration. Wall Street, for example, is in "a state of bitter, seething, hysterical fury" toward the president, writes John Heilemann of New York magazine. What's going on?

One answer is taxes - not so much on corporations themselves as on the people who run them. The Obama administration plans to raise tax rates on upper brackets back to Clinton-era levels. Furthermore, health reform will in part be paid for with surtaxes on high-income individuals. All this will amount to a significant financial hit to C.E.O.'s, investment bankers and other masters of the universe.

Now, don't cry for these people: they'll still be doing extremely well, and by and large they'll be paying little more as a percentage of their income than they did in the 1990s. Yet the fact that the tax increases they're facing are reasonable doesn't stop them from being very, very angry.

Nor are taxes the whole story.

Many Obama supporters have been disappointed by what they see as the administration's mildness on regulatory issues - its embrace of limited financial reform that doesn't break up the biggest banks, its support for offshore drilling, and so on. Yet corporate interests are balking at even modest changes from the permissiveness of the Bush era.

From the outside, this rage against regulation seems bizarre. I mean, what did they expect? The financial industry, in particular, ran wild under deregulation, eventually bringing on a crisis that has left 15 million Americans unemployed, and required large-scale taxpayer-financed bailouts to avoid an even worse outcome. Did Wall Street expect to emerge from all that without facing some new restrictions? Apparently it did.

So what President Obama and his party now face isn't just, or even mainly, an opposition grounded in right-wing populism. For grass-roots anger is being channeled and exploited by corporate interests, which will be the big winners if the G.O.P. does well in November.

If this sounds familiar, it should: it's the same formula the right has been using for a generation. Use identity politics to whip up the base; then, when the election is over, give priority to the concerns of your corporate donors. Run as the candidate of "real Americans," not those soft-on-terror East coast liberals; then, once you've won, declare that you have a mandate to privatize Social Security. It comes as no surprise to learn that American Crossroads, a new organization whose goal is to deploy large amounts of corporate cash on behalf of Republican candidates, is the brainchild of none other than Karl Rove. But won't the grass-roots rebel at being used? Don't count on it. Last week Rand Paul, the Tea Party darling who is now the Republican nominee for senator from Kentucky, declared that the president's criticism of BP over the disastrous oil spill in the gulf is "un-American," that "sometimes accidents happen." The mood on the right may be populist, but it's a kind of populism that's remarkably sympathetic to big corporations.

So where does that leave the president and his party? Mr. Obama wanted to transcend partisanship. Instead, however, he finds himself very much in the position Franklin Roosevelt described in a famous 1936 speech, struggling with "the old enemies of peace - business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering."

And that's not necessarily a bad thing. Roosevelt turned corporate opposition into a badge of honor: "I welcome their hatred," he declared. It's time for President Obama to find his inner F.D.R., and do the same.
(c) 2010 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Ed Stein ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Killing In The Name Of
Rage Against The Machine

Killing in the name of!
Some of those that work forces, are the same that burn crosses
Some of those that work forces, are the same that burn crosses
Some of those that work forces, are the same that burn crosses
Some of those that work forces, are the same that burn crosses

Killing in the name of!
Killing in the name of

And now you do what they told ya
And now you do what they told ya
And now you do what they told ya
And now you do what they told ya
And now you do what they told ya
And now you do what they told ya
And now you do what they told ya
And now you do what they told ya
And now you do what they told ya
And now you do what they told ya
And now you do what they told ya
But now you do what they told ya
Well now you do what they told ya

Those who died are justified, for wearing the badge, they're the chosen whites
You justify those that died by wearing the badge, they're the chosen whites
Those who died are justified, for wearing the badge, they're the chosen whites
You justify those that died by wearing the badge, they're the chosen whites

Some of those that work forces, are the same that burn crosses
Some of those that work forces, are the same that burn crosses
Some of those that work forces, are the same that burn crosses
Some of those that work forces, are the same that burn crosses

Killing in the name of!
Killing in the name of

And now you do what they told ya
And now you do what they told ya
And now you do what they told ya
And now you do what they told ya
And now you do what they told ya, now you're under control
And now you do what they told ya, now you're under control
And now you do what they told ya, now you're under control
And now you do what they told ya, now you're under control
And now you do what they told ya, now you're under control
And now you do what they told ya, now you're under control
And now you do what they told ya, now you're under control
And now you do what they told ya!

Those who died are justified, for wearing the badge, they're the chosen whites
You justify those that died by wearing the badge, they're the chosen whites
Those who died are justified, for wearing the badge, they're the chosen whites
You justify those that died by wearing the badge, they're the chosen whites

Come on!
Come on!

Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me
Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me
Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me
Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me
Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me
Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me
Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me
Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me
Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me!
Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me!
Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me!
Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me!
Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me!
Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me!
Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me!
Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me!
Uggh! Uggh! Uggh!
(c) 1992/2010 Rage Against The Machine

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Next Week's News
With Andy Borowitz

Here at PBS, we like to stay on top of the hottest high-tech gadgets, from desktop computers to cellular phones to the latest Sony Walkman with auto-reverse.

Well, there's a boatload of new gizmos coming on the market next week, and as the kids say, they're going to rock your world.

Check this out: Do you have a neighbor who likes to come over and bore you to tears about the new deck he's adding to his house? Then you'll want one of these: the personal "containment dome," from Stifle-Ex(tm).

The first containment dome for home use, this soundproof big-boy drops from the ceiling and, just like that, say goodbye to tedium!

Now, let's say you're a Republican senator and you want to trash the president's latest judicial appointee, but you don't know anything about her record. Well, good news: there's an app for that! Thanks to this new iPhone app, the iObject, you can generate negative rhetoric in nanoseconds - no facts required!

Have you noticed that when you make presentations at work, you don't seem to grab the attention of the younger people in the room? Well, you may want to try the Powerpoint Auto-Tune. It gives you that hip, cool robot voice that kids these days totally dig. Check it out.

And finally, something for you parents out there. If you've got kids like I do, that means one thing: excruciating 3-D chipmunk movies. You know what I'm talking about. I don't know about you, but nothing freaks me out like the sight of chipmunks flying off the screen towards my head.

But thanks to these 2-D Neutralizer specs, you can tolerate the next "Squeakquel" in soothing 2-D. Sweet!

Well, that's all we have time for. Until next week, this has been "Next Week's News."
(c) 2010 Andy Borowitz

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Issues & Alibis Vol 10 # 22 (c) 05/28/2010

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