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In This Edition

Greg Palast recalls, "My Father's Victory In The Pacific."

Uri Avnery wonders, "The State Of Whom?"

Glen Ford asks, "Can Black Politics Be Revived?"

Christopher Cook gives, "The Case For Food Stamps."

Jim Hightower concludes, "Corporate Kleptocrats Are The Real Radicals."

Glenn Greenwald with a must read, "Will Journalists Take Any Steps to Defend Against Attacks on Press Freedom?"

James Donahue finds, "Proof Of Advanced Ancient Civilizations."

John Nichols exclaims, "Yuck!"

Robert Scheer warns, "Congress Still Puts Out For Wall Street."

Robert Reich teaches, "Lessons From The World Of Tax Avoidance: How Nations Can Negotiate With Global Capital."

Paul Krugman considers, "Procyclical Policy For Germany."

David Sirota reminds us, "After Oklahoma Disaster, Give Thanks To Government."

David Swanson sees, "An Endless "Peace Process" For Palestine."

Sinator Carl Levin wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Bill McKibben returns with, "It's Time To Stop Investing In The Fossil Fuel Industry."

Norman Solomon examines, "Our Twisted Politics Of Grief."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion reports, "Obama Fed Grapes While Urging Press Conference To Enjoy Orgy" but first Uncle Ernie sings, "Ding Dong The Bitch Is Dead."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Chan Lowe, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Ruben Bolling, Natural Society.Com, Black Agenda Report, Chip Somodevilla, Angel Zayas, Demotix, Corbis, L.A. Times, Getty Images, Parker Brothers, The Onion, You Tube.Com and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

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

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

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Ding Dong! The Bitch Is Dead!
Well, Bachmann's not dead; but, she IS leaving the House!
By Ernest Stewart

"We're running out of rich people in this country." ~~~ Michele Bachmann

"We have said, we have made our own commitments, that, at this stage, as we work for the Geneva Conference, we are not taking any decision to send any arms to anyone." ~~~ William Hague

"The people of our state will no longer tolerate advocates of treason." ~~~ George Smathers

"Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness." ~~~ Martin Luther King Jr.

Old Michele may be crazy; but she's not stupid. She at least knows that knowing when to leave may be life's most important lesson! Two things happened to Michele last November.

One: she ran for President, as if, and dared to open her mouth and immediately stuck her foot in it and was soon gone from the race.

Two: when she turned to run again for the House -- something she expected to win by a landslide, she barely squeaked by -- winning by less than 1% of the vote. She only won that because her tea bagger supporters, i.e., the Brothers Koch spent ten times the money her opponent did.

Her constant problem of opening her maw and speaking out against things that everybody else is in favor of began to take it's toll. For example, her first Bill she proudly announced last January was a Bill she'd submitted 32 times before last year, and couldn't get it out of committee. You know what Albert said about such behavior? Dr. Einstein said, "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." And if you do it often enough, even brain-dead Tea Baggers and the Sheeple begin to catch on!

Annie-Rose Strasser shows us just the tip of the iceberg, that is the Ice Queen Michele:

"Bachmann leaves behind one of the most politically heated Congressional careers in recent memory. Her stances on major issues - and the initiatives she has pushed throughout her eight years - have been dangerous and insensitive. Here is a look back at some of Bachmann's most controversial moments:

1. Bachmann peddled a dangerous anti-vaccine conspiracy. Bachmann pushed the disproved theory that the vaccine for HPV - which prevents cervical cancer - can cause mental retardation. That misinformation has had a wide and lasting impact: Vaccination rates are still remarkably low, and experts blame figureheads like Bachmann who communicated misleading information to the public.

2. Bachmann called being gay 'personal enslavement.' On the issue of LGBT rights, Bachmann has a long record of either mocking gay and trans (like when she said she'd mistaken ex-gay therapy for anti-aging therapy, 'pray away the grey'). But when she isn't mocking sexual orientation, she has treated it more like a mental disorder. Famously, Bachmann once said, "It's a very sad life. It's part of Satan, I think, to say this is gay. It's anything but gay. [...] Because if you're involved in the gay and lesbian lifestyle, it's bondage. Personal bondage, personal despair, and personal enslavement. And that's why this is so dangerous."

Bachmann considers climate climate change 'a hoax.' While experts warn that global climate change is already set to have a lasting impact on our environment, Bachmann calls climate change "all voodoo, nonsense, hokum, a hoax." She also cast doubt on the entire field of climate science. At a town hall in her district, Bachmann informed constituents that climate science is not "real science" but "manufactured science."

Bachmann led an Islamophobic witch hunt. Last year, Bachmann sought to "expose" members of the Muslim Brotherhood within the U.S. government. The totally unfounded witch-hunt was essentially Bachmann's personal indictment of one of then-Sec. of State Hillary Clinton's aides, Huma Abedin, but it also served to fuel anti-Muslim bigotry. Bachmann's fellow party members came out against her, with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) slamming her on the Senate floor for her "unwarranted and unfounded attack."

Bachmann claimed ObamaCare would 'literally' kill people. In a screed against ObamaCare on the House floor, Bachmann warned that the law "literally kills women, kills children, kills senior citizens." She also questioned, in an interview with a fringe website that peddles conspiracy theories, whether ObamaCare would allow the IRS to "deny or delay access to health care" for conservatives.

Bachmann told the American people that Iran had plans to nuke the U.S. During a presidential debate on the issue of national security, Bachmann falsely claimed that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had laid out plans to bomb the United States with a nuclear weapon.

Bachmann called on the American media to investigate 'anti-American' politicians. Bachmann's first witch-hunt of her career was against her own colleagues in Congress. In 2008, Bachmann told MSNBC's Chris Matthews that she hoped the media would investigate Democratic members of Congress, including Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV). "I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress," she said, "and find out, are they pro-America or anti-America?"

Bachmann wanted to ban all porn. As part of her crusade for conservative values, Bachmann has pushed to ban "all forms of pornography." This is actually contradictory to the Tea Party's focus on the constitution, given the fact that pornography clearly falls within First Amendment right to freedom of expression."

Again, folks, that's just the tip of the iceberg; I'm sure most of you could name another dozen little faux pas that Michele has committed against you and I! So, bye-bye, bitch; don't let the door hit you in that big ass on the way out, either. We need that door; it keeps the riff-raff out of here!

In Other News

Those pesky Zionazis are at it again. Israel's defense chief said Tuesday that a Russian plan to supply sophisticated anti-aircraft missiles to Syria was a "threat" and signaled that Israel is prepared to use force to stop the delivery. The warning by Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon ratcheted up tensions with Moscow over the planned sale of S-300 air-defense missiles to Syria.

I wonder what the Russians would do if they were attacked by Israel? My guess would be to respond with force against force, and that is a battle that Israel is sure to lose. Israel would have about 10 minutes from the time the Russians launched just a single RSM-56 Bulava to enter a shelter, put their heads between their legs, and kiss their ass good bye. A RSM-56 Bulava has ten reentry vehicles that would turn all of Israel into a hole in the ground that'd glow in the dark for the next ten thousand years. Once this happens, what would we do about it?

"Clearly this move is a threat to us," Yaalon told reporters Tuesday when asked about the planned Russian sale.

"At this stage, I can't say there's an escalation. The shipments haven't been sent on their way yet. And I hope that they will not be sent, but if God forbid they do reach Syria, we will know what to do."

Russia says, "We think this delivery is a stabilizing factor and that such steps in many ways restrain some hotheads from exploring scenarios in which this conflict could be given an international character with participation of outside forces." ~~~ Sergei Ryabkov ~ Russian deputy foreign minister

My guess what they will do is pull the puppet strings of their American 5th column stooges; Johnny "The Traitor" McCain heard his master's voice and ran off to talk to the rebels in Syria on Monday, with a quick in/out before anyone was the wiser to intervene to keep Russia at bay; but when it comes down to it, I've no doubt we'll hem and haw and let Russia do as it damn well pleases. It's one thing to go to war with some third world country, and another thing to needlessly fight a country that can wipe us out, no matter how bad we retaliate, so I look to see Tel Aviv and Jerusalem go bye-bye in a broiling mushroom cloud of radioactive waste. Same thing applies if they attack Iran, which already has these missile batteries, as well as the new ground-to-sea missiles that can wipe out a battle fleet in a heartbeat, and can't be knocked down once launched.

If you listen closely, you can hear the Tea Baggers already demanding that we all die over Israel if it comes down to it. However, I'm sure our 1% masters would like to avoid losing their gravy train over Israel and will have their puppets stand down and go into blame Obama mode. Stay tuned, America, and "Fasten your seat belts; it's going to be a bumpy night."

And Finally

I wrote both my Sin-ators over voting against Bernie Sanders Amdt. No. 965 allowing the states to create GMO-labeling bills. Both my Sin-ators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow are Demoncrats. I wrote them both the same letter with minor changes. Here's the roll call vote. If your Sin-ator voted against it, you might want to let them know your feelings on not knowing if your food is poison!

Hey Carl,

We were having an argument about how much bribe money you took to vote against allowing the states to label GMO poison foods. Everyone guessed that it must have taken millions of dollars worth of bribes from your puppet masters at Monsanto, while I said it was probably just 30 pieces of silver to buy your honor.

So which one was it, Carl?

Just two other questions for my readers, Carl. "How do you shave in the morning without cutting your fucking throat?" & "Why did you do it, Carl, if not for the bribes?"

An honorable man would have fallen on his sword, but I'm not surprised that you didn't as you have no honor, you're just an ignorant, Nazi, son-of-a-bitch! Fuck you, Carl, for fucking us again and again and again for your corpo-rat pals sake. You're the reason I will never vote Demoncrat again!

Ernest Stewart
Managing editor
Issues & Alibis Magazine

Oh, and did I mention that Carl won this weeks Vidkun Quisling Award?

Keepin' On

July is fast approaching, and as it stands today, we are $800 short of paying the bills. Thank Zeus we were able to pay half of July's bill already, so we just owe $800 of it; still money don't grow on trees, unless you're a lumber Baron, and that sure ain't me!

Ergo, to keep this up, we need your help. We're all willing to keep working for you for free; but the folks that keep us on the Internet and allow us to use their artwork and artists, their software, their spaces all want their due. Unlike us, they're in it for the money and have no senses of humor when the bills come due.

So if you could, would you please send us whatever you can, whenever you can, and we'll keep on bringing you the news that you need to know, the truth of the matter that can no longer be found in the Lame Stream Media as all of it is owned lock, stock, and barrel by our masters in the 1%, and run for their benefit alone. So, if you care about things like the truth and reality, please visit the donations page and follow the directions! We thank you!


09-01-1933 ~ 05-25-2013
Thanks for the music!

01-31-1936 ~ 05-29-2013
Thanks for the music!


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


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

Until the next time, Peace!
(c) 2013 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for the last 12 years managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. Visit the Magazine's page on Facebook and like us when you do. Follow me on Twitter.

My Father's Victory In The Pacific
By Greg Palast

In 1995, in Chicago, veterans of Silver Post No. 282 celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of their victory over Japan, marching around a catering hall wearing their old service caps, pins, ribbons and medals. My father sat at his table, silent. He did not wear his medals.

He had given them to me thirty years earlier. I can figure it exactly: March 8, 1965. That day, like every other, we walked to the newsstand near the dime store to get the LA Times. He was a Times man. Never read the Examiner.

He looked at the headline: U.S. Marines had landed on the beach at Danang, Vietnam.

As a kid, I was fascinated by my dad's medals. One, embossed with an eagle and soldiers under a palm tree, said "Asiatic Pacific Campaign." It had three bronze stars and an arrowhead.

My father always found flag-wavers a bit suspect. But he was a patriot, nurturing this deep and intelligent patriotism. To him, America stood for Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Four Freedoms.

My father's army had liberated Hitler's concentration camps and later protected black students on their way to school in Little Rock, Arkansas. His America put its strong arm around the world's shoulder as protector. On the back of the medal, it read "Freedom from Want and Fear."

His victory over Japan was a victory of principles over imperial power, of freedom over tyranny, of right over Japan's raw military might. A song he taught me from the early days of the war, when Japan had the guns and we had only ideals, went,

We have no bombers to attack with,
We have no fighters to defend the flag with
But Eagles, American Eagles,
fight for the rights we adore!

"That's it," he said that day in 1965, and folded the newspaper.

The politicians had ordered his army, with its fierce postwar industrial killing machines, to set upon Asia's poor. Too well read in history and too experienced in battle, he knew what was coming. He could see right then what it would take other Americans ten years of that war in Vietnam to see: American bombers dropping napalm on straw huts, burning the same villages Hirohito's invaders had burned twenty years earlier.

Lyndon Johnson and the politicians had taken away his victory over Japan.

They stole his victory over tyranny. When we returned home, he dropped his medals into my twelve-year-old hands to play with and to lose among my toys.

A few years ago, my wife Linda and I went to Vietnam to help out rural credit unions lending a few dollars to farmers so they could buy pigs and chickens.

On March 8, 1995, while in Danang, I walked up a long stone stairway from the beach to a shrine where Vietnamese honor their parents and ancestors.

Halfway up, a man about my age had stopped to rest, exhausted from his difficult, hot climb on one leg and crutches. I sat next to him, but he turned his head away, ashamed of his ragged clothes, parts of an old, dirty uniform.

The two of us watched the fishermen at work on the boats below. I put one of my father's medals down next to him. I don't know what he thought I was doing. I don't know myself.

In '45, on the battleship Missouri, Douglas MacArthur accepted the surrender of Imperial Japan. I never thought much of General MacArthur, but he said something that stuck with me.

"It is for us, both victors and vanquished, to rise to that higher dignity which alone benefits the sacred purposes we are about to serve."
(c) 2013 Greg Palast is author of the New York Times bestseller, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Armed Madhouse and the highly acclaimed Vultures' Picnic, named Book of the Year 2012 on BBC Newsnight Review.

The State Of Whom?
By Uri Avnery

CAN A law be both ridiculous and dangerous?

It certainly can. Witness the ongoing initiative of our government to enact a law that would define the State of Israel as "The Nation-State of the Jewish People".

Ridiculous 1 -because what and who is the "Jewish people?" The Jews of the world are a mixed lot. Their only official definition in Israel is religious. In Israel, you are a Jew if your mother was a Jewess. This is a purely religious definition. In Jewish religion, your father does not count for this purpose (it is said, only half in jest, that you cannot ever be sure who your father is.) If a non-Jew wants to join the Jewish people in Israel, he or she has to convert to Judaism in a religious ceremony. Under Israeli law, one ceases to be a Jew if one adopts another religion. All these are purely religious definitions. Nothing national about it.

Ridiculous 2 -The Jews around the world belong to other nations. They are not being asked by the promoters of this law whether they want to belong to a people represented by the State of Israel. They are automatically adopted by a foreign state. In a way, this is another form of attempted annexation.

It is dangerous for several reasons. First of all, because it excludes the citizens of Israel who are not Jews -a million and a half Muslim and Christian Arabs and about 400 thousand immigrants from the former Soviet Union who were allowed in because they are somehow related to Jews. Recently, when the army Chief of Staff laid little flags (instead of flowers) on the graves of fallen soldiers, he skipped the grave of one such non-Jewish soldier who gave his life for Israel.

Even more dangerous are the possibilities this law opens for the future. It is only a further short step from there to a law that would confer automatic citizenship on all Jews in the world, thus tripling the number of Jewish citizens of Greater Israel and creating a huge Jewish majority in an apartheid state between the sea and the river. The Jews in question will not be asked.

From there, another short step would be to deprive all non-Jews in Israel of their citizenship.

The (Jewish) sky is the limit.

BUT ON this occasion I would like to dwell on another aspect of the proposed law: the term "Nation-State".

The nation-state is an invention of recent centuries. We tend to believe that it is the natural form of political structure and that it has always been so. That is quite wrong. Even in Western culture, it was preceded by several other models, such as feudal states, dynastic states and so on.

New social forms are created when new economic, technological and ideological developments demand them. A form that was possible when the average European never travelled more than a few kilometers from his place of birth became impossible when roads and railways dramatically changed the movement of people and goods. New technologies created immense industrial capabilities.

For societies to compete, they had to create structures that were big enough to sustain a large domestic market and to maintain a military force strong enough to defend it (and, if possible, to grab territories from their neighbors). A new ideology, called nationalism, cemented the new states. Smaller peoples were subdued and incorporated in the new big national societies. Presto: the Nation-State.

This process needed a century or two to become general. Zionism was one of the last European national movements. As in other aspects -such as colonialism and imperialism - it was a late-comer. When Israel was founded, the European nation-states were already on the verge of becoming obsolete.

WORLD WAR II hastened the demise of the nation-state for all practical purposes. Huge economic units like the USA and the Soviet Union made countries like Spain and Italy, and even like Germany and France, much too small to compete. The European Common Market came into being. Large economic federations supplanted most of the old nation-states.

New technologies hastened the process. Change became more and more rapid. While the new regional structures were being formed, they too were already becoming obsolete. Globalization is an irreversible process. No nation or combination of nations can solve the apocalyptic problems of mankind.

Climate change is a world problem that urgently needs world-wide cooperation. So is the danger created by nuclear weapons that will soon be acquired by violent non-state groups. A photo taken in Timbuktu is immediately seen in Kamchatka. A hacker in Australia can silence entire industries in America. Bloody dictators can be brought before world justice in The Hague. An American youngster can revolutionize the lives of people in Zimbabwe. Deadly pandemics can travel within hours from Ethiopia to Sweden.

For all practical purposes, the world is now one. But human consciousness is far, far slower than technology. While the nation-state has become anachronistic, nationalism is still alive and killing.

HOW TO bridge the gap? The European Union is an instructive example.

At the end of World War II, thinking people realized that World War III could mean the end of Europe, if not the end of the world. Europe had to be united, but nationalism was rampant. In the end, the compromise model proposed by Charles de Gaulle was adopted: the nation-states would remain, but some real power would be transferred to a kind of confederation.

This made sense. The common market was born and steadily enlarged, a common currency was adopted. And now an economic earthquake threatens to bring the whole edifice down.

Why? Not because of the surplus of concentration, but because of the lack of it.

I am not an economist. Indeed, no renowned professor ever taught me the science of economics (or anything else). I just try to apply common sense to this problem as to all others.

Common sense told me right from the beginning that a common currency could not exist without common economic governance. It cannot possibly function when every little "nation-state" within the currency-zone has its own state budget and economic policy.

The founding fathers of the United States were faced with this problem and decided upon a federation and not a confederation -in other words, a strong central government. Thanks to that wise decision, when Nebraska has a problem, Illinois can spring in. The economy of all 50 states is practically run by Washington DC. The common currency does not just mean the same greenbacks, but the same powerful central bank.

Now Europe is faced with the same choice. It will either break apart -an unthinkable disaster -or abandon the Gaullist recipe. The diverse nation-states, from Malta to Sweden, must give up a huge chunk of their independence and sovereignty and transfer it to the hated bureaucrats in Brussels. One budget for all.

If this happens -a big "if" -what will remain of the nation state? There will be national soccer teams, with all the nationalist and racist hullabaloo. France may still invade Mali, with the consent of its main European partners. Greeks can still be proud of their ancient past. Belgium will still be plagued by its bi-national troubles. But the nation-state will be more or less an empty shell.

I predict, as I did before, that by the end of this century (when some of us will not be around anymore) there will be some kind of world governance in place. It will probably be called by some other name, but the major problems facing humankind will be managed by strong and effectual international bodies. There will be new problems (there always are): how to maintain democracy in such a global structure, how to sustain human values, how to channel aggressive emotion, now released in wars, into harmless activities.

In this brave new world, what about the nation-state? I believe that it will still be there as a cultural and nostalgic phenomenon, with certain local functions, like today's municipalities. Probably there will be even more nation-states. When the states are stripped of most of their functions, they may well split into their component parts. Bretons and Corsicans, who were forced by nationalism to join the larger unit called France, may want to live in states of their own within a unified world.

LEAVING THE realm of wild speculation and returning to our own little world: what about this "Nation-State of the Jewish People"?

As long as the world consists of nation-states, we shall have our own. And by the same logic, the Palestinian people will have one, too.

Our state cannot be a nation-state of a non-existent nation. Israel must and will be the nation-state of the Israeli nation, belonging to all Israeli citizens living in Israel, Arabs and other non-Jews included. And to nobody else.

Israeli Jews who feel a strong attachment to the Jews around the world, and Jews around the world who feel a strong attachment to Israel, can certainly maintain and even strengthen their attachment. Similarly, Arab citizens can maintain their attachment to the Palestinian nation and the Arab world at large. And the non-Jewish Russians to their Russian heritage. By all means. But that does not concern the state as such.

When peace comes to this tortured part of the world, the states of Israel and Palestine may join a regional organization extending from Iran to Morocco, on the lines of the EU. They will join the ranks of the march of humanity towards a functioning modern world-wide structure to save the planet, prevent wars between states or communities and further the well-being of human beings (yes, and animals, too) everywhere.

Utopia? Certainly. But that's how today's reality would have looked to Napoleon.
(c) 2013 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Can Black Politics Be Revived?
By Glen Ford

The Age of Obama, now in its second and final quadrennial, has largely succeeded in divorcing African American politics from the historical Black consensus on social justice, self-determination and peace. What remains is play-acting and role-modeling, an Ebony magazine caricature of politics that leaves the great bulk of Black people with, literally, no avenues of resistance to the savage depredations of capitalism in decline. Shamefully, through reflexive support for President Obama's relentless assaults on international order, the Black America polity has rendered itself useless to the struggle for a just and sustainable world.

None of this is written in stone, of course. The quickening cascade of crises that define our times - the prelude to collapse - will each provide opportunities to alter Black America's political course. As Obama's exit approaches, the African American delirium begins to palpably break, like a spent fever. Black politicos rush to revise the histories of their own post-2007 behavior, inventing examples of their "constructive criticism" of the First Black President and their alleged misgivings and anxieties about the corporate, militarist direction of his policies - in order to position themselves for the post-Obama era.

But the crisis in Black politics was building long before Wall Street selected the talented young actor from Chicago to implement its austerity and global war agenda. The Black Misleadership Class, representing political tendencies indigenous to Black America, is the problem. Having no vision of the future beyond populating it with more Black faces in high places, they will inevitably imbibe other Black-flavored corporate potions in hopes of reviving some version of the Obama euphoria.

Other, slicker operatives promote the dangerous notion that progressive political aims will be achieved by virtue of rapid demographic change in the United States. Rather than defend Obama's indefensible record in office, Bill Fletcher and Carl Davidson described the 2012 election as a contest that pits "the changing demographics of the U.S." against the forces of "far right irrationalism" that are trying to turn back the "demographic and political clock." In this construct, the substance of politics is totally removed, replaced by faith in the innate political inclinations of younger whites and the growing non-white population. Obama's expanded theaters of war, his disregard of international law, his servility to Wall Street and contempt for the historical Black political consensus - none of this matters to Fletcher and Davidson, whose article was titled, "The 2012 Elections Have Little To Do With Obama's Record ... Which Is Why We Are Voting For Him."

It is becoming a common theme: that the darkening of America will somehow lead inexorably to profound changes in power structures. Just sit back and wait for the demographic revolution. Such thinking is appropriate to Madison Avenue, which plots demographic changes like the wolf anticipates the migratory patterns of the caribou. Demographics are important, but are not magic. All that can be safely predicted based on U.S. demographic trends is that there will be more Black and brown (especially brown) faces in positions of authority, elected and appointed, and that the presence of these darker faces may actually make Wall Street's rule more palatable. Four years of Obama has already provided us with that lesson.

For those who are looking for an easy route to the Promised Land, one without struggle, in which the course of the revolution can be numerically charted just as McDonald's displays its billions of hamburgers sold, 2042 is the magic number. That's when U.S. Census demographers project that persons now classified as non-white will outnumber white Anglos. But, who will actually occupy the pinnacles of power in this non-white majority nation, and wield whatever influence the U.S. retains in the world? Based on current trends, according to a 2012 report by Boston-based United for a Fair Economy, "the overwhelming share of the nation's income and wealth will remain solidly in White hands." Tim Sullivan, co-author of the report on "The Emerging Majority," says the numbers paint a picture that looks very much like South Africa, with the white minority on top, requiring a vast police presence to keep the non-white majority in check.

Such an outcome is not written in stone, either, but is likely in the absence of a sustained movement to topple corporate power and disassemble the structures of U.S. imperialism. However, such a movement will never coalesce under the guidance of the Fletchers and Davidsons, who counsel folks to go with the demographic flow. And, we have already experienced the disaster of corporate rule via dark proxy.

2042 will only be a good year if people fight to make it so. Majorities hold no magic, and never have.

"If there is no struggle, there is no progress." ~~~ Frederick Douglass.
(c) 2013 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

The Case For Food Stamps
Slashing food aid makes no sense in humanitarian, economic or public health terms.
By Christopher Cook

To hear Republicans - and some Democrats - in Congress talk, you'd think food-stamp dollars just disappear into a black hole. The prevailing debate in the Senate and House versions of the farm bill, which contains funding for food stamps (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP), is over how much to cut. But when more than 15% of Americans remain impoverished, slashing food assistance for the poor makes no sense in humanitarian, economic or public health terms.

The House bill, which is gaining steam after passage by the Agriculture Committee last week, is the more draconian of the two. It would chop $20 billion over 10 years from SNAP, and its changes to food-stamp eligibility rules would cut off vital sustenance for about 2 million low-income people, including seniors and families with children. According to the Congressional Budget Office, 210,000 children in low-income families would lose their free school meals under the House plan.

The Senate version would cut far less, though a final figure will be hashed out by a conference committee in June. But the attacks on food assistance for the poor are deeply misguided and are only going to get worse. The proposed House budget from Rep. Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) seeks to gut food stamps by another $135 billion through block grants to states.

Yet government and other studies clearly show that food stamps are among the most wisely spent public dollars, providing essential nourishment and public health benefits to low-income people as well as economic stimulus to rural and urban communities. These are returns on spending that you won't find in the corporate tax giveaways and military spending boondoggles routinely supported by both political parties, even as they scream for austerity when it comes to slashing "entitlements" and food assistance for the poor.

The Trust for America's Health, a health advocacy organization that focuses on disease prevention, warned recently of the consequences of cutting food stamps: "If the nation continues to underfund vital public health programs, we will never achieve long-term fiscal stability, as it will be impossible to help people get/stay healthy, happy and productive."

Indeed, according to a 2011 study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, "research shows that low-income households participating in SNAP have access to more food energy, protein and a broad array of essential vitamins and minerals in their home food supply compared to eligible nonparticipants."

Those in Congress pushing for cuts ignore the evidence that cutting food stamps doesn't save money - it actually costs money in added public health expenses and lost job creation. Pushing millions of low-income Americans off food stamps means less nutrition and nourishment, leading to greater human suffering and healthcare costs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "good nutrition can help lower risk for many chronic diseases, including heart disease, stroke, some cancers, diabetes and osteoporosis." As it is, public healthcare expenses for diet-related diseases such as diabetes and heart disease cost taxpayers more than $100 billion annually.

In another key finding, the National Academy of Sciences reported that food stamps helped lift nearly 4 million Americans out of poverty in 2010, while improving basic food and economic security for millions more.

Cutting food stamps also means reducing economic stimulus and job creation, precisely what's needed to help reduce poverty and hunger. The 2011 USDA study found that food-stamp dollars "ripple throughout the economies of the community, state and nation," creating multiple levels of economic stimulus. The study also found that "every $5 in new SNAP benefits generates a total of $9.20 in community spending." Each additional food-stamp dollar generates another 17 to 47 cents of additional food purchases.

Farm state legislators might consider this USDA finding as well: "On average, $1 billion of retail food demand by SNAP recipients generates 3,300 farm jobs." Or they could listen to the Congressional Budget Office, which ranks an increase in food stamps as one of the two most cost-effective spending and tax options for boosting growth and jobs in a weak economy. Each food-stamp dollar produces $1.72 in additional economic activity, the CBO found.

In the farm bills moving through Congress, the politics of austerity are again being used to undermine food assistance for the poor. As the House and Senate debate how many dollars and people to cut from food stamps, their members should consider the daily realities the poor face. Most are living on a few dollars a day for food and, at best, work in minimum-wage jobs that barely cover rent. Cutting off these basic supports for those at the bottom of our economy is unwise, counterproductive and shameful.
(c) 2013 Christopher D. Cook is an award-winning journalist and author of Diet for a Dead Planet: Big Business and the Coming Food Crisis. He has written for The Los Angeles Times, The Economist, The Christian Science Monitor, Harper's, and The Nation, among others. His website is

Corporate Kleptocrats Are The Real Radicals

"Outside radical groups," squawked Rep. Scott Garrett at a recent Republican inquisition into a citizens' petition that's been submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Garrett is foaming at the mouth on behalf of corporate chieftains who're pouring unlimited (and untold) amounts of their shareholders' money into our elections. The great majority of Americans agree that, at the very least, shareholders have a right to be told how much of their money is being spent on behalf of which candidates. So, more than 500,000 citizens have petitioned the SEC for such a disclosure rule.

Who are these scary citizens, considered such a threat to corporate power that a Congress critter is tarring them publicly as outside radicals? They're professors from leading law schools, state and national elected officials, pension fund directors, public interest advocates, and corporate shareholders. Not exactly outsiders, much less radicals.

And that's what makes them so dangerous to the autocratic elites who run corporations as their own fiefdoms. Top executives want no accountability for the hundreds-of-millions of shareholder dollars they're spending to elect corporate lickspittles like Garrett. Don't question us, they demand, just trust us.

Uh... no. Far from earning trust, they've already wrecked our economy and betrayed our nation's egalitarian ideals - while feathering their own plutocratic nests. Now they want free reign to pervert America's democratic process with clandestine election campaigns secretly financed with other people's money.

This is Jim Hightower saying... NO! These kleptocrats are the real radicals. It's time to stop them, not only by disclosing their thievery, but ultimately by outlawing it - and retuning elections to the people. To join the effort, contact Public Citizen:
(c) 2013 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.

US attorney general Eric Holder faces questions about his department's investigation targeting phone
records and data from the Associated Press and accusations of criminality against Fox News' James Rosen.

Will Journalists Take Any Steps to Defend Against Attacks on Press Freedom?
Media outlets have awakened to the serious threats posed to journalism, but show little sign of doing anything about it
By Glenn Greenwald

Media outlets and journalists have finally awakened to the serious threat posed by the Obama administration to press freedoms, whistle blowing and transparency. Apparently, what was necessary for them to be prodded out of their slumber was watching people they perceive as "one of them" have their emails secretly seized and be accused of serious felonies. The question now: what, if anything, will they do to defend the press freedoms they claim to value? By design, there are many options the press corps has for thwarting government attacks like these. Doing so requires a real adversary posture, renouncing their subservience to government interests and fear of alienating official sources. It remains to be seen whether any of that will happen.

What is clear is that, after the AP and especially the Fox/Rosen revelations, a real tipping point has been reached in establishment media circles in terms of how all of this is discussed. One now regularly encounters in the most mainstream circles rhetoric that, a short time ago, was the province of a small number of critics.

The New York Times editorial page warned last week that "the Obama administration has moved beyond protecting government secrets to threatening fundamental freedoms of the press to gather news." The Washington Post's Dana Milbank wrote that the Obama DOJ is "treat[ing] a reporter as a criminal for doing his job" and is thus "as flagrant an assault on civil liberties as anything done by George W. Bush's administration, and it uses technology to silence critics in a way Richard Nixon could only have dreamed of."

So extreme is the revealed conduct that even the most conventional cable news chatterers, such as MSNBC's Chuck Todd, were able to process its significance: "They want to criminalize journalism," Todd noticed, adding: "if George Bush and Dick Cheney were doing this, imagine what candidate Obama would say. Candidate Obama would be unloading." The former long-time executive editor of the Washington Post, Leonard Downie, wrote that "the Obama administration's steadily escalating war on leaks" is "the most militant I have seen since the Nixon administration," and "has disregarded the First Amendment and intimidated a growing number of government sources of information - most of which would not be classified - that is vital for journalists to hold leaders accountable."

Meanwhile, the few places where one has previously found loud warnings and denunciations became even more strident in the wake of these recent revelations. "What's astonishing," explained the ACLU, is that "never before has the government argued that newsgathering - in this case, asking a source to provide sensitive information - is itself illegal." The New York Times published a short essay from its former general counsel, James Goodale, warning that "until President Obama came into office, no one thought talking or emailing was not protected by the First Amendment"; "President Obama wants to criminalize the reporting of national security information"; and "it is a further example of how President Obama will surely pass President Richard Nixon as the worst president ever on issues of national security and press freedom" (my own NYT contribution on this matter was published alongside his). CNN's Jake Tapper, one of the few TV journalists who has long been vocal about the Obama DOJ's attacks, warned liberals supportive of the administration's actions because Fox was a target that they were cheering for a dangerous precedent. This morning, the Daily Beast's neocon reporter Eli Like, also a consistent opponent of such prosecutions, cited the persecution of Bradley Manning along with the AP and Fox cases to explain that "without leakers, the public might never get a second opinion on what the government tells us about its most secretive actions." Liberal commentators such as The Huffington Post and Esquire's Charles Pierce even called for Holder's firing and/or resignation.

Outside of the most hardened Obama media loyalists, it's virtually impossible to find any defenses or even offers of excuses or mitigation for what the Obama administration has been doing in this area. As the New York Times documented this week - and has been extremely obvious for years for anyone who does investigative journalism or talks to those who do - an unprecedented climate of fear has emerged that has, as the New Yorker's Jane Mayer put it, all but brought the newsgathering process to a "standstill". It's genuinely hard to overstate how frightened people are who want to reveal incriminating government secrets and those who want to report on them. That is by design.

As a result of all this, the administration has offered characteristically symbolic gestures to placate the growing media anger, but those gestures actually solve nothing. Obama announced he was once again supporting a shield law that provides some protections to journalists, but media outlets quickly pointed out that, by design, it would have done little if not nothing to prevent any of these abuses, and could arguably empower the DOJ even more to invade journalists' communications. Then the Obama White House proudly announced that there would be an "investigation" into the DOJ's treatment of whistlelbowers and journalists, an investigation that would be led by . . . Eric Holder himself; that's DC oversight: we're going to conduct a robust investigation of ourselves.

Those steps prompted more mockery than anything else. So yesterday, Holder's friends and "associates" ran to the Daily Beast's Daniel Klaidman to assure us that the Attorney General "has been particularly stung by the leak controversy" and that - get this - "his own personal soul searching has already begun, with, among other things, the question of why he signed off on an affidavit that in retrospect he believed may have crossed the line." He's also opening a "dialogue" with media outlets to see how he can do better. Apparently, Holder didn't realize why it was so menacing to accuse a reporter of committing felonies for doing what reporters do, and now feels "regret" over what happened, now that it's been publicly exposed (amusingly, the hardest-core Obama media loyalists decided that now that even Eric Holder is expressing regret for what he did, they have permission to change their views from a defense of the DOJ's conduct to criticism of it).

So all that prompts the question of what journalists will do to compel the administration to cease these attacks on core press freedoms. If journalists aren't willing to defend these freedoms, who do they think will? The design of the American founding was that abuses of power would be prevented only by various factions fighting for their prerogatives and against encroachment by other power factions. When it comes to attacks on press freedoms, it's the responsibility of journalists, first and foremost, to fight against those attacks.

But that assumes that they actually value these freedoms. And it further assumes that they're willing to be truly adversarial rather than subservient to political power. With some rare exceptions, neither of those assumptions have been warranted for quite some time. It's very difficult to believe that this will change, all the angry media rhetoric notwithstanding.

Last week, the Huffington Post's media reporter Michael Calderone asked various White House reporters what they intend to do in response to all of this. Even when it comes to symbolic acts of protest, let alone more substantial ones, their answer: nothing. He wrote: "several veteran reporters told The Huffington Post that it's unlikely the press corps would band together in any collective action, such as walking out of the briefing room, to protest the administration's treatment of the press." Just marvel at their excuses for inaction. "It would be unprofessional," CBS News' Mark Knoller said. "We're there to cover the president, his policies and statements, not stage a protest." ABC News' White House correspondent Ann Compton explained: "White House briefings are not advocacy sessions. We are there as reporters, to ask about presidential actions and policies not advocate, even for press freedom." Some did note that their media organizations can advocate for shield laws, but that is some extremely weak resistance to what most of them are classifying as profound attacks on core First Amendment press rights.

As Calderone detailed both in his latest article and especially in a great one he wrote after the story of the DOJ's seizure of AP emails broke, the establishment media voluntarily provides the US government with all sorts of benefits, considerations, cooperation and other informal agreements that it has no obligation to provide. Media outlets constantly go to the US government before publishing stories about classified information, seek input about what they should and should not reveal, and honor government requests, oftentimes concealing vital stories clearly in the public interest. They routinely grant anonymity to government officials in the most dubious cases, allowing those officials to propagandize the public with no accountability.

Why should journalists who cover the US government continue to work so hard to protect and serve the interests of government officials who are prosecuting their sources, invading their communications, calling them criminals, and attacking basic press freedoms? As even Bob Woodward, the ultimate establishment journalist, said on MSNBC, reporters can begin to say: "why the hell should I go to the government [about my stories], they're just going to go after my records?"

But herein lies the core problem. The reason there are all these informal, voluntary ways that media outlets serve and protect the interest of the US government is precisely because they have veered so far in the direction of subservience rather than adversary that they are virtually part of the US government. As former Bush DOJ official Jack Goldsmith said (and he meant this as a compliment), many US journalists expressly acknowledge making journalistic choices out of what they call "patriotism" or even "jingoism". Gen. Michael Hayden, the former head of the Bush CIA and NSA, proudly said that "American journalists display 'a willingness to work with us.'" That is what has resulted in journalistic disgraces such as the New York Times' concealment (at the White House's request) of the existence of the illegal Bush NSA warrantless eavesdropping program until after Bush was safely re-elected, as well as the US media's willingness to allow the Obama administration to make what it knew were false claims about a CIA agent detained in Pakistan (the truth became known only once the Guardian revealed it). There are countless similar examples of the US media concealing information clearly in the public interest at the behest of the US government.

As long as that mindset festers, then it's very difficult to imagine the US press corps taking any meaningful steps to push back against these attacks. And as long as that's true, it's very hard to see why the Obama administration would possibly stop doing it. It's always in the interest of political leaders to control the flow of information and to punish those who make them look bad. That's why there is a free press guarantee in the First Amendment. If journalists aren't willing to protect it, why would anyone else?


Speaking of the subservient role the media plays with the government: Eric Holder is in the process of arranging the aforementioned meeting with media organizations to discuss the leak controversy and, as Calderone reports, the DOJ is demanding that the entire meeting be off-the-record. Writes Calderone:

"Media organizations will surely want such a newsworthy meeting with the attorney general to be on the record, and it remains to be seen if they will agree to meet under off-the-record ground rules."

Would it surprise anyone if they do agree in advance to conceal from the public everything that is said by the Attorney General and other DOJ officials about a matter of such obvious public significance? The fact that Holder feels comfortable requesting this without any sense of irony reveals how he understands the role and function of the press corps vis-a-vis political officials (as one Twitter commentator sardonically put it: "Presumably if anyone leaks what's said, he'll throw them in jail"). This is exactly the kind of constant accommodation given by the media to the US government that I was referencing here. What self-respecting journalist would agree to this condition?
(c) 2013 Glenn Greenwald. was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. His most recent book is, With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful. 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. He is the recipient of the first annual I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism.

Proof Of Advanced Ancient Civilizations
By James Donahue

You don't have to dig deep to find the anomalies that lie in the dirt. They can be found all over the Earth.

There are caves filled with art that could only have been done with the help of artificial light. We find Rock carvings depicting humans riding on machines that fly through the sky. There is mythology about powerful gods that dropped out of the sky and lived with humans.

And then there are objects, skeletal remains, strange carved caverns, and other things found deep in the rock that, if the historical record is accurate, just don't belong there.

Michael Cremo and Richard Thompson published Forbidden Archaeology, The Hidden History of the Human Race in 1999 that lists discoveries over the last two centuries that the authors claim were concealed by the Christian church because they conflicted with Biblical teachings.

J.H.Brennan, in yet another book: Time Travel: A New Perspective, adds even more mystery discoveries reported in numerous prestigious publications.

Even science skeptic Arthur C. Clarke had to admit in his book, Mysterious World, that while some old mysteries have been solved by scientific discovery over time, other mysteries exist that remain unsolved.

Mystery objects suggesting ancient and advanced civilizations that exist on the surface of the earth are all large and carved in stone. They seem to be the only things that could survive nuclear warfare, solar flares, extreme temperature changes, volcanic upheaval and other calamities large enough to send civilizations back into a primitive existence.

Stonehenge, the great pyramids and the giant balls of Costa Rica are among some of the best examples of this. Also there are some vitrified or "melted rock" remains of what once seemed to be ancient structures, walls or forts, and silicone particles from melted sand, both suggesting extreme heat from nuclear explosions. These kinds of things are among a growing list of things we can find on or under the planet's surface showing proof of early human refinement.

The miners, for example, have walked out of their tunnels with a variety of interesting objects, still partly buried in rock, that defy accepted history:

--Polished concrete bricks were discovered in 1928 in a mine near Heavener, Oklahoma. Investigation revealed a 150-yard long wall. From the depth, it was estimated that the wall was built about 286 million years ago.

--From a coal mine in Wilburton, Oklahoma, came a barrel-shaped block of solid silver with prints of staves embedded in it. Also found there was an iron pot, discovered in 1912. The depth from which these objects were found suggests they might have been buried there at least 260 million years ago.

--A metal nail was found in 1844 at Kingoodie Quarrie, Scotland, completely encased in a block of sandstone dated in the Devonian period, 360 to 408 million years ago.

--The famous Baghdad Battery, an earthenware jar found in the National Museum of Iraq, was discovered at Khujut Rabu, near Baghdad. The battery, first identified and possibly discovered by German archaeologist Wilhelm Konig in 1938, is believed to be about 2,000 years old. The clay shell contains an iron rod surrounded by a copper cylinder. The jar is sealed by an asphalt stopper.

--A portion of a fossilized human skull was unearthed from a layer of gravel 130 feet under ground in a California gold mine in 1866. Dubbed the Calaveras Skull, the piece was removed at Bald Hill near Angels Creek.

These things and so many more like them are clear signs that the history of this planet is extremely ancient, and that intelligent life . . . whether human or alien . . . walked its surface and built magnificent cities and stone monuments.

That there is no record of these past experiences, and that the artifacts left by these people are but particles of rubble to be found deep in the strata of the planet, is an indication that whoever was here, blundered. It was all destroyed.

That we have overpopulated the world, destroyed its delicate ecological system so that the ground, air and seas are so polluted they can no longer support life, and that we are now on the verge of a world nuclear war, should be a clear sign that it is happening again.

Our fear should be that we have been down this road before and didn't learn from our earlier experience.
(c) 2013 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

The Senate Won't Clear the Way for States to Label Genetically Modified Food
By John Nichols

Simple concept: people who consume food should have information about what's in their food.

And if foods contain genetically modified organisms, consumers surely have a right to know.

Who could disagree? Most senators, that's who.

While sixty-four countries around the world require labeling of foods with genetically engineered ingredients, while the American Public Health Association and the American Nurses Association have passed resolutions supporting this sort of labeling in the United States, the Senate voted 71-27 to keep Americans in the dark.

US Senator Bernie Sanders proposed an amendment to the federal farm bill that would have allowed states to require clear labels on any food or beverage containing ingredients that have been genetically modified. Sanders said, "I believe that when a mother goes to the store and purchases food for her child, she has the right to know what she is feeding her child."

Fearing lawsuits from multinational biotechnology, agribusiness and food production firms-which also maintain some of the most efficient lobbying teams in Washington-even states with long histories of consumer protection and right-to-know legislation have been cautious about introducing this sort of food labeling. The Sanders amendment addressed that threat, establishing a clear federal policy that states are allowed to require clear labels so that consumers know what they're eating.

"Monsanto and other major corporations should not get to decide this, the people and their elected representatives should," said the independent senator from Vermont, where the state House recently voted 99-42 to call for labeling.

When the Senate vote came on Thursday, however, only twenty-four Democrats, two independents (Sanders and Maine's Angus King) and one Republican (Alaska's Lisa Murkowski) backed the labeling amendment. As Food & Water Watch's Patty Lovera noted, "Many of (the "yes" votes came from senators who) represent states with active grassroots campaigns to pass state laws on GE labeling, including both senators from Alaska, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia, as well as Senator Bennett from Colorado, Senator Tester from Montana, Senator Reid from Nevada, Senator Heinrich from New Mexico and Senator Schumer from New York." Of the 71 "no" votes, twenty-eight came from Democrats-many of whom fancy themselves consumer advocates and backers of the public's right to know. The other forty-three "no" votes came Republicans, almost all of who say they want to free up the states to experiment and innovate.

Unfortunately, some of the loudest lobbyist voices in Washington say different.
(c) 2013 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His new book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, has just been published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

Congress Still Puts Out For Wall Street
By Robert Scheer

What does it take to make a Wall Street banker squirm with shame? Not content with having swindled tens of millions of Americans out of their homes and life savings, the very bankers who caused the biggest economic catastrophe since the Great Depression are now subverting government regulations designed to prevent comparable disasters in the future.

Top of the list of those responsible are the hustlers at Citigroup, once the world's largest financial conglomerate, and a leading practitioner of the sordid behavior that caused the housing meltdown. Indeed, Citigroup was allowed to form as a merger of the investment banking of Travelers and the federal insured commercial banking of Citicorp only because lobbyists for those institutions successfully engineered the reversal of the Depression-era Glass-Steagall law that had banned such combinations.

Then when the new monster banks moved to exploit the subprime housing market with all sorts of financial gimmicks, their lobbyists succeeded in freeing all such trading in so called derivatives from any significant regulation.

The banks were so successful in marketing those often toxic assets that the federal government had to step in when the bubble burst and save Citigroup from bankruptcy, with a direct infusion of $45 billion in taxpayer funds and a guarantee of more than $300 billion of Citigroup's bad paper.

You would think that the consequence of such destructive behavior would be a profound erosion of the ability of Citigroup and other banking lobbyists to write the nation's laws governing financial activity. But just the opposite has occurred as the company's influence has only grown in direct proportion to the harm it has bestowed. As The New York Times reported last week:

"Bank lobbyists are not leaving it to lawmakers to draft legislation that softens financial regulations. Instead, the lobbyists are helping to write it themselves.

"One bill that sailed through the House Financial Services Committee this month-over the objections of the Treasury Department-was essentially Citigroup's, according to emails reviewed by the New York Times. ...

"In a sign of Wall Street's resurgent influence in Washington, Citigroup's recommendations were reflected in more than 70 lines of the House committee's 85-line bill. Two crucial paragraphs, prepared by Citigroup in conjunction with other Wall Street banks, were copied nearly word for word."

Of course they were faithfully copied by the staffs of Congress members from both political parties, who might as well be on the payroll of Citigroup and the other mega banks. The Republicans, with the exception of a few die-hard libertarians, always do the bidding of the banks that finance them, but the Democrats are just as eager to pig out at the bankers' trough. Wall Street lobbyists were only too happy to hold a fundraising dinner last week for Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney of New York, who co-sponsored the Citigroup bill, one of several such events banking groups have organized for lawmakers who support their legislation.

What is at issue here is an attempt to gut the already tepid effort of the Dodd-Frank Act to control the runaway $700 trillion derivatives trading market. One source of alarm is the extensive in-house trading in these derivatives between affiliates of the too-big-to-fail banks. As an example of the profound corruption of our legislative process, congressional staffers turned to top corporate lawyers to draft the wording pretending to rein in their activity.

For example, as the emails reviewed by the Times revealed, House committee staffers consulted Michael Bopp, a partner at the elite law firm Gibson, Dunn who represents corporations involved in derivative trading, as to the verbiage he would prefer in the legislation. His language was well received, as the Times reported: "Ultimately, the committee inserted every word of Mr. Bopp's suggestion into a 2012 version of the bill that passed the House, save for a slight change in phrasing."

That last sentence, conveying the essence of America's crony capitalist system, should stand as the defining epitaph for the death of representative democracy.

"I won't dispute for one second the problems of a system that demands immense amount of fund-raisers by its legislators," Jim Himes, a Democrat from Connecticut who supported the bankers' recent bills and conveniently heads fundraising for House Democrats, conceded to the Times. Himes, who worked for Goldman Sachs before pretending to represent the people's interest as an elected representative, is one of the top beneficiaries of Wall Street payoffs but claims to be distressed by the corruption that is his way of life. As he told the Times, "It's appalling, it's disgusting, it's wasteful and it opens the possibility of conflicts of interest and corruption. It's unfortunately the world we live in."

No, buddy, it's the world you guys make and wallow in. Other folks just lose their jobs and homes while you manage to slither out of the slime richer and more powerful than ever.
(c) 2013 Robert Scheer is the editor of Truthdig. A journalist with over 30 years experience, Scheer has built his reputation on the strength of his social and political writing. His columns have appeared in newspapers across the country, and his in=depth interviews have made headlines. He is the author, most recently, of "The Pornography of Power: How Defense Hawks Hijacked 9/11 and Weakened America," published by Twelve Books.

Lessons From The World Of Tax Avoidance: How Nations Can Negotiate With Global Capital
By Robert Reich

A Senate report criticises Apple for shifting billions of dollars in profits into Irish affiliates where its tax rate is less than 2%, yet a growing chorus of senators and representatives call for lower corporate taxes in order to make the US more competitive. The American public wants to close tax loopholes and shelters used by the wealthy to avoid paying taxes, yet the loopholes and shelters remain in place.

The same disconnect is breaking out all over the world. The chairman of a British parliamentary committee investigating Google for tax avoidance calls the firm "devious, calculating, and unethical," yet British officials court the firm's CEO as if he were royalty.

Prime Minister David Cameron urges tax havens to mend their ways and vows to crack down on tax cheats, yet argues taxes must be low in the UK because "we've got to encourage investment, we've got to encourage jobs and I want Britain to be a winner in the global race."

These apparent contradictions are rooted in the same reality: global capital, in the form of multinational corporations as well as very wealthy individuals, is gaining enormous bargaining power over nation states.

Global companies are not interested in raising living standards in a particular country or improving any nation's competitiveness. Their singular goal is to maximise returns to their investors. "We don't have an obligation to solve America's problems," said an Apple executive last year. "Our only obligation is making the best product possible" (he might have added "in order to make as much money as possible"). Likewise, the wealth of rich individuals flows all over the world in search of the highest returns and lowest taxes.

Such single-mindedness is abetted by a new wave of technologies, represented by the likes of Google, Apple, Amazon and other new tech behemoths: advanced software applications combined with enormous computing power, all available on the internet in such a way as to enable users to shift resources almost anywhere on earth at the speed of an electronic impulse.

Not only does money move immediately to wherever it can summon the highest return and be subject to the least tax, but jobs can be dispatched almost as quickly to wherever workers get the lowest wages for the most output.

Yet such technologies are simultaneously making nations ever more dependent on global capital, as "brick and mortar" investments in plant and equipment (requiring commitment to a particular geographic location) are replaced by intellectual capital and portfolio investments that are essentially rootless.

These technologies are also displacing workers from assembly-line and routine service jobs (bank tellers, telephone operators, petrol station attendants), as well as any skilled jobs that can be replicated by software (brokers, accountants, insurance claims adjusters). They're even starting to threaten higher-level professionals (how long before doctors are replaced by diagnostic software and professors by online lectures?).

All this, in turn, is putting increasing pressure on politicians to produce more investments and jobs. Because citizens don't like it when global corporations or wealthy individuals are found to avoid taxes, such practices elicit indignant reports, hearings and warnings from political leaders. But little or nothing is done to end these practices because nations are too dependent on those corporations and individuals.

Nations are in a fierce "global race" for investments and jobs, as Cameron says. But it's rapidly turning into a race to the bottom. Effective tax rates on global companies and wealthy individuals are declining almost everywhere; regulations are being dismantled (not even the worst financial disaster since the 1930s has produced much by way of new financial rules); government subsidies to corporations are growing; and real wages are dropping.

In the US, the UK and other rich nations, the percentage of gross domestic product going to wages continues to decline while the percentage going to profits steadily increases. Almost all the economic gains in the US since the Great Recession have gone to the wealthiest 1%, who own the lion's share of financial assets, while the bottom 90% has become poorer.

Individual states in the US have embarked on their own races to the bottom, seeking to lure investments and jobs - often from neighbouring states - with lower taxes, higher subsidies, reduced regulation and lower real wages. Here again, the new generation of information technologies is intensifying the race.

But these trends are not inevitable. One way for nations (as well as individual states or provinces) to regain some bargaining leverage over global capital would be to stop racing against one another and join together to set terms for access to their markets.

After all, global capital depends on consumers, and access to large consumer markets such as the US and the EU is essential if global capital is to earn a healthy return. Why should Apple have access to US consumers, for example, if Apple refuses to pay its fair share of taxes to finance the infrastructure and education that Americans need to improve their living standards? Americans could buy from one of Apple's competitors instead.

Likewise, it makes no sense for regions or provinces in any nation to compete against one other for jobs and investment; such races only further strengthen the hand of global capital and reduce the bargaining power of the nation. These contests don't produce net new jobs or investment but only move the jobs and investments from one locale to another and should be prohibited by federal law.

Similarly, the EU could be a bargaining agent for its citizens if it were to condition access to its hugely valuable market on paying taxes in proportion to a global corporation's EU earnings, as well as making investments (including research and development, and jobs) in similar proportion. As a member of the EU, Britain would have more bargaining leverage than it would if it bargained separately. Hence, an important reason for Britain to remain in the EU: rather than a race to the bottom, the UK would thereby join in a race to the top.

Any move toward enhancing the power of nations or groups of nations relative to global corporations and wealthy individuals would surely provoke fierce resistance. Corporate-financed lobbyists, lawyers, political operatives, media empires, campaign donations, thinktanks and the potential lures of lucrative jobs and directorships awaiting high government officials will all be deployed in opposition.

This doesn't make the goal of countervailing the power of global capital any less important. It just makes it difficult to achieve.
(c) 2013 Robert Reich is Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written twelve books, including The Work of Nations, Locked in the Cabinet, and his most recent book, Supercapitalism. His "Marketplace" commentaries can be found on and iTunes.

Procyclical Policy For Germany
By Paul Krugman

OK, like Brad DeLong, I'd like to move on. Let's stipulate that:

1. I am a big meanie

2. Reinhart and Rogoff never should have claimed that there is some kind of critical threshold at 90 percent, and they certainly should disavow any such claim now (which I don't think they have, yet). I believe that the 90 percent claim had a remarkably malign effect on policy discussion, but let's look forward.

And to start that forward look, let's talk about German fiscal policy and European monetary policy.

From the point of the euro area as a whole, fiscal policy has been dramatically and destructively "procyclical" - that is governments have slashed spending and raised taxes in the face of a deeply depressed economy. This is a large part of the reason Europe is back in recession, and that growth over the period 2007-2013 looks more or less certain to end up being lower than growth over the period 1929-1935. (And the 2014/1936 comparison will probably be even worse).

But the peripheral countries don't have room for stimulus (although I think you can argue that they have room for reduced austerity). This means that any attempt to make European fiscal policy less contractionary has to involve expansion in the core, mainly Germany.

R&R are opposed to any such move, however, because for Germany, which can afford it, fiscal expansion would be procyclical.

Their point is that Germany appears to be near full employment, so that fiscal expansion would be inflationary there. And they call for expansionary monetary policy instead.

OK, this baffles me, on two-and-a-half levels.

First, the half level: what, exactly, does it mean to call for expansionary monetary policy by the ECB? Like other major central banks, the ECB has near-zero policy rates, so we're talking about some kind of unconventional monetary policy. Are we supposed to envision the ECB doing huge purchases of unconventional assets (over and above what it's already doing in the form of lending to banks against sovereign debt and the promise of outright monetary transactions if necessary)? Alternatively, are we supposed to see a European version of Abenomics, with the ECB credibly committing to a higher inflation target? Both are strategies worth trying, but of uncertain effect - and both would surely be viewed as anathema by the Germans.

Second, and now we get to where I'm really baffled, if we're against policies that are procyclical for Germany,what on earth do R&R imagine a more expansionary monetary policy (however achieved) does? Europe as a whole is deeply depressed; Germany is not. So any policy that causes overall European expansion is going to be pushing the German economy up against capacity, and pushing up German inflation. There is no difference at all between fiscal and monetary expansion as far as that issue is concerned.

Finally, aren't policies that are procyclical for Germany, and raise inflation there, the whole point of the exercise? We have a competitiveness gap between the periphery and the core that must be closed through some combination of falling wages in Portugal, Spain, etc. and rising wages in Germany. The idea is to shift the balance of that adjustment somewhat away from the deflationary countries - overheating in Germany isn't a bug, it's a feature, and indeed the crucial feature.

So I have no idea what their point is. I get that they're against fiscal expansion anywhere in Europe despite the continent's clearly too-tight overall fiscal policy, but I don't understand why.
(c) 2013 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

"A society whose citizens refuse to see and investigate the facts, who refuse to believe that their government and their media will routinely lie to them and fabricate a reality contrary to verifiable facts, is a society that chooses and deserves the Police State Dictatorship it's going to get."
~~~ Ian Williams Goddard

Those who Tweety Bird called hypotwits!

After Oklahoma Disaster, Give Thanks To Government
By David Sirota

Within hours of this week's tornado disaster in Oklahoma, I (like many others) received emails from the President of the United States and my U.S. Senator. With impassioned language, they both claimed to care deeply about yet another community devastated by a cataclysm, and then said the best way for America to respond is to support private charities.

The work of non-governmental organizations, no doubt, is critical, and contributing money to them is laudable. But there is something troubling about government leaders initially implying - if subtly - that a non-governmental response is as significant as a governmental one. And there is something even more disturbing about that message being sent at a time when budget cuts and sequestrations engineered by those very governmental leaders threaten to prevent a more effective response to such disasters in the future.

It all suggests that the anti-government zeitgeist in America has become so powerful that public officials now feel compelled to downplay the public sector for fear of being tarred and feathered as a socialist, a Marxist or an opportunist unduly "politicizing" a tragedy.

Of course, avoiding a discussion of the government's role at times like these is, unto itself, a politicized decision - one promoting the illusion that we don't need government. And no matter how much anti-government conservatives deny it, that is an illusion.

Think about it: When you find yourself riveted by disaster response coverage on television, what you are really watching underneath all the graphics and breathless punditry is footage of government in action.

Think about it: Whether dealing with a hurricane on the East Coast, a fertilizer plant explosion in Texas or a tornado in Oklahoma, government remains the best, most powerful and most reliable defender against and responder to large-scale emergencies.MO< Think about it: For every headline-grabbing story of a private citizen rescuing another individual, there are scores of never-told stories of police officers, firefighters, first responders, public school teachers, government-created warning systems, public hospitals and emergency management agencies saving hundreds of lives and/or rebuilding whole communities.

Those stories, in fact, are rarely told because for all the petulant anti-government whining that dominates American politics, we've come to so expect such a strong public sector response that it's barely even considered newsworthy.

That expectation, by the way, is not something to lament. After all, while local, state and federal governments are just as imperfect as corporations and non-profits, they are - unlike those private sector counterparts - popularly controlled institutions. That means in a democratic society they should be a primary way we collectively prepare for and respond to mass emergencies. Indeed, one of the most basic definitions of the term "civilization" - as opposed to anarchy - is a society that simply recognizes we're all in this together and consequently builds publicly run institutions to honor that truism.

Though they refuse to publicly admit it, anti-government conservatives actually seem to realize this truism when they or their constituents are personally involved. Oklahoma provides an illustrative example.

In the wake of the tornado, you haven't seen Oklahoma's right-wing legislators making anti-"Big Government" arguments to deride the fact that their state receives more federal tax dollars than it contributes. Instead, you will likely - and rightly - see them lobbying to secure disaster relief funds from Washington. Likewise, you haven't seen Oklahoma's archconservative demagogues like Republican Sen. Tom Coburn saying government shouldn't help respond to the latest tornado. Instead, he's now insisting "there's a legitimate role" for government to play.

He's absolutely correct. It just shouldn't take a tragedy for him or anyone else to realize that this will always be the case - at least if America is going to remain a truly civilized society.
(c) 2013 David Sirota is a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist, magazine journalist and the best-selling author of "Hostile Takeover" and "The Uprising." He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado and blogs at E-mail him at David Sirota is a former spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee. Follow him on Twitter @davidsirota .

An Endless "Peace Process" For Palestine
By David Swanson

The United States balances its endless war of terrorism with the institution of an endless "peace process" for Palestine, a process valuable for its peaceyness and interminability.

Josh Ruebner's new book, Shattered Hopes: The Failure of Obama's Middle East Peace Process, could just as easily have been called "Fulfilled Expectations: The Success of Obama's Middle East Peace Process," depending on one's perspective. Its story could be summarized: Obama's performance in this area has been of a piece with his performance in every other. Some people became very hopeful about his rhetoric and then very dejected about his actions.

In this case, among those getting hopeful were Palestinian negotiators. But they didn't just grow depressed and despondent. They felt no obligation to behave like Democratic voters. They swore off the Hopium and went to work on an international approach through the United Nations that has begun to pay off.

Obama began his "peace process" efforts "naively unprepared for the intensity of the pushback from Israel and its supporters in the United States to its demand that Israel freeze settlements," Ruebner writes. But evidence of Obama's mental state is hard to pin down, and I'm not sure of the relevance. Whether Obama began with naive good intentions or the same cynicism that he was, by all accounts, fully immersed in by his second or third year in office, the important point remains the same. As Ruebner explains, Obama employs an all-carrots / no-sticks approach with Israel that is doomed to failure.

In fact, suggesting that the White House cease providing Israel with ever more weaponry and/or cease providing Israel with ever more protection from justice following its crimes is liable to get Ruebner himself denounced as naive, along with the rest of us who think he's right. Obama's fundamental problem is not one of naivete, but of "seriousness," of upholding the solemn seriousness of willful belief in a respectable but doomed approach. If Obama was surprised that Palestinian negotiators didn't play along with this the way U.S. "journalists" do, that would suggest he had internalized the official point of view. Whether that is naivete or deep cynicism may be in the eye of the beholder.

Ruebner provides the chronological play-by-play from Obama's first happy shiny moves in office to his familiar flailing about in search of propaganda that would continue to hold up year after year. And Ruebner includes analysis of what activists were up to along the way.

In fact, Ruebner begins with Obama's campaign promises, which -- upon close inspection -- prove, as with every other issue, to have been much closer to the President's abysmal performance than to the glowing image people recall of his early hope-and-changey self. Obama campaigned placing all blame on Palestinians, supporting Jerusalem as Israel's undivided capital, backing resolutions and legislation in the Senate imposing sanctions on Palestinians as punishment for having held an open election, and supporting Israel during its wars on Lebanon and Gaza. Obama's speeches and his website made his position clear to those inclined to see it. Boycott campaigns against the Israeli government were, according to him, "bigoted."

As with every other area, on peace in Palestine, Obama's disastrous approach could also have been read clearly from his selection of individuals to run his foreign policy team. During the transition period prior to his inauguration, Obama took positions on many foreign policy matters, but when it came to the ongoing Israeli assault on Gaza, he declared himself unable to speak prior to becoming president.

Watching the sequence of events play out post-inauguration is painful. Obama urges an end to Israel's expansion of settlements. Netanyahu suggests that Obama, with all due respect, stick his proposals where the sun don't shine. But Netanyahu backs "statehood" (someday, with no rights or power or independence or actual -- you know -- statehood) for Palestinians, but proceeds to rapidly expand settlements, effectively eliminating territory on which to create any state. Obama announces that victory has come and help is on the way!

Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave up on freezing settlements and announced that slowing the pace of the expansion would be an "unprecedented" accomplishment -- a claim that was less credible to people who had lived and suffered through many such claims before. As reward for the same lawless abuses as always, Israel received from the Obama administration more weaponry than ever, and a veto of a resolution at the United Nations opposing more Israeli settlements.

Ruebner rightly concludes:

"Obama's failure to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace resulted not only from his unwillingness to go to the mat with the Israel lobby over the issue of fully freezing Israeli settlements, not only from the scattershot, frenetic lurching of his policy initiatives thereafter. Obama also foundered because his approach relied solely on providing Israel with carrots. With the trivial exceptions of denying Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu photo-ops at the White House on a few occasions and reportedly forcing him to wait for several hours before a meeting, Obama never brandished the proverbial stick. But these personal insults did nothing to create incentives for Israel to cease openly and brazenly defying U.S. policy objectives."

Hope is so much more popular than reality. But Ruebner is full of hope. He holds it out there in front of us. All that's required is a little actually useful action:

"[I]f the United States were to pull its backing for Israel's oppression of the Palestinians, then Israeli intransigence would melt away in the historical blink of an eye, as it did when President Dwight Eisenhower terminated all U.S. aid programs to Israel after it invaded and occupied the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula in 1956."

How do we get there? Part of the answer, Ruebner persuasively suggests is Boycott-Divestment-and-Sanctions (BDS), a movement that is making great strides, including in changing the public discourse, altering the sorts of things that even U.S. politicians can get away with claiming with a straight face.
(c) 2013 David Swanson is the author of "War Is A Lie."

The Dead Letter Office...

Carl without his makeup

Heil Obama,

Dear Uberfuhrer Levin,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your constant voting against labeling GMO poisons, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, Iran and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Democratic 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 07-06-2013. We salute you Herr Levin, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

'Divestment in fossil fuels has turned into one of the fastest-growing protest campaigns in recent American history'.

It's Time To Stop Investing In The Fossil Fuel Industry
It makes no sense to pay for one's pension by investing in companies that make sure we won't have a planet to retire on

By Bill McKibben

Earlier this month, the trustees of the city graveyard in Santa Monica, California (final resting place of actor Glenn Ford and tennis star May Sutton) announced they were selling their million dollars worth of stock in fossil fuel companies. As far as I know they were the first cemetery board to do so, but they join a gathering wave of universities, churches and synagogues, city governments and pension funds.

In the last few months, fossil fuel divestment has turned into one of the fastest-growing protest campaigns in recent American history - and it's already reached all the way to Australia, where portions of the Uniting Church have announced they'll sell their fossil fuel stock as well.

It's happening because it's one of the few ways for concerned people and institutions to take a stand on climate change, and confront the enormous power of the fossil fuel industry. But it's also happening because once you run the numbers, there's no way to escape the conclusion that this industry is now an outlaw industry. Not outlaw against the laws of the state - they generally have a large hand in writing those - but outlaw against the laws of physics.

Here's the maths: almost every country on earth, including Australia, has signed on to the idea that we shouldn't raise the planet's temperature more than two degrees - that was the only tangible outcome of the otherwise pointless Copenhagen conference on climate change in 2009. The one degree we've raised so far has already melted the Arctic, not to mention laid the ground for Australia's "angry summer." As such, two degrees is too high but it's the only red line the planet's governments have ever agreed to.

We know roughly how much more carbon we can emit before we go past two degrees: about 500 billion tons. And at current rates of emissions, that will take us less than 40 years. But the math gets really impossible when you consider how much carbon the world's coal, oil and gas industries already have in their reserves. That number is about 2,800 gigatons - five times what the most conservative governments and scientists on earth say would be safe to burn.

And yet, companies will dig it up and burn it - that's what their business plans call for, that's what their share prices depend on, and that's what their government lobbying budgets are spent on making sure happens. Once you know the maths, you know that Exxon, Rio Tinto and Shell and so on aren't like normal companies - they're really rogues. But you also know that our situation is hopeless unless we get to work: the end of this script is written, unless we rewrite it.

Doing so is hard. It requires changes in our personal lives and in our government policy, which Australia has begun to make: the carbon tax, if it survives the next election, is a serious step forward. It also requires that we rein in the plans of, say, those coal companies that want to mine places like the Galilee Valley: if the expansion plans of Australia's miners are carried out, that coal alone will use up almost a third of the atmospheric space between us and those two degrees.

There are a dozen other places like the Australian coalfields around the world, and we have to stop them all. The fossil fuel industry should be turned into an energy industry: we have to take the hundred million dollars a day that Exxon spends on finding new oil, and have them spend it on solar panels instead. Which is why, for now, we have to divest those stocks.

The idea is not that we can bankrupt these companies; they're the richest enterprises in history. But we can give them a black eye, and begin to undermine their political power. That's what happened a quarter century ago when, around the western world, institutions divested their holdings in companies doing business in apartheid South Africa. Nelson Mandela credited that as a key part of his country's liberation, and Desmond Tutu last year called on all of us to repeat the exercise with the fossil fuel companies.

It will be even harder this time, since this is such a dug-in industry. But their ability to use all those reserves is limited because of climate change, HSBC bank predicted share values of fossil fuel companies would fall by half or more. An investment in a fossil fuel company is a wager that we'll never do anything about climate change, because if we ever even tried to meet that two degree target, those stock values would plummet.

It makes no sense to pay for one's pension by investing in companies that make sure we won't have a planet to retire on. Even the dead won't rest easy if their perpetual care is paid for at the cost of those they left behind- so ask your church, your super-annuation fund, and even your cemetery which side of this wager they're taking.

Editors Note: Bill McKibben will be giving a series of talks in Australia June 3-9.
(c) 2013 Bill McKibben is Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College, co-founder of His most recent book is Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet.

Our Twisted Politics Of Grief
In the "endless war," some kinds of grief are more useful than others
By Norman Solomon

Darwin observed that conscience is what most distinguishes humans from other animals. If so, grief isn't far behind. Realms of anguish are deeply personal-yet prone to expropriation for public use, especially in this era of media hyper-spin. Narratives often thresh personal sorrow into political hay. More than ever, with grief marketed as a civic commodity, the personal is the politicized.

The politicizing of grief exploded in the wake of 9/11. When so much pain, rage and fear set the U.S. cauldron to boil, national leaders promised their alchemy would bring unalloyed security. The fool's gold standard included degrading civil liberties and pursuing a global war effort that promised to be ceaseless. From the political outset, some of the dead and bereaved were vastly important, others insignificant. Such routine assumptions have remained implicit and intact.

The "war on terror" was built on two tiers of grief. Momentous and meaningless. Ours and theirs. The domestic politics of grief settled in for a very long haul, while perpetual war required the leaders of both major parties to keep affirming and reinforcing the two tiers of grief.

For individuals, actual grief is intimate, often ineffable. Maybe no one can help, but expressions of caring and condolences can matter. So, too, can indifference. Or worse. The first years of the 21st century normalized U.S. warfare in countries where civilians kept dying and American callousness seemed to harden. From the USA, a pattern froze and showed no signs of thawing; denials continued to be reflexive, while expressions of regret were perfunctory or nonexistent.

Drones became a key weapon-and symbol-of the U.S. war trajectory. With a belated nod to American public opinion early in the century's second decade, Washington's interest in withdrawing troops from Afghanistan did not reflect official eagerness to stop killing there or elsewhere. It did reflect eagerness to bring U.S. warfare more into line with the latest contours of domestic politics. The allure of remote-control devices like drones-integral to modern "counterterrorism" ideas at the Pentagon and CIA-has been enmeshed in the politics of grief. So much better theirs than ours.

Many people in the United States don't agree with a foreign policy that glories in use of drones, cruise missiles and the like, but such disagreement is in a distinct minority. (A New York Times/CBS poll in late April 2013 found Americans favoring U.S. overseas drone strikes by 70 to 20 percent.) With the "war on terror" a longtime fact of political life, even skeptics or unbelievers are often tethered to some concept of pragmatism that largely privatizes misgivings. In the context of political engagement-when a person's internal condition is much less important than outward behavior-notions of realism are apt to encourage a willing suspension of disbelief. As a practical matter, we easily absorb the dominant U.S. politics of grief, further making it our politics of grief.

The amazing technology of "unmanned aerial vehicles" glided forward as a satellite-guided deus ex machina to help lift Uncle Sam out of a tight geopolitical spot-exerting awesome airpower in Afghanistan and beyond while slowing the arrival of flag-draped coffins back home. More airborne killing and less boot prints on the ground meant fewer U.S. casualties. All the better to limit future grief, as much as possible, to those who are not us.

However facile or ephemeral the tributes may be at times, American casualties of war and their grieving families receive some public affirmation from government officials and news media. The suffering had real meaning. They mattered and matter. That's our grief. But at the other end of American weaponry, their grief is a world of difference.

In U.S. politics, American sorrow is profoundly important and revs up many rhetorical engines; the contrast with sorrow caused by the American military could hardly be greater. What is not ignored or dismissed as mere propaganda is just another unfortunate instance of good intentions gone awry. No harm intended, no foul. Yet consider these words from a Pakistani photographer, Noor Behram, describing the aftermath of a U.S. drone attack: "There are just pieces of flesh lying around after a strike. You can't find bodies. So the locals pick up the flesh and curse America. They say that America is killing us inside our own country, inside our own homes, and only because we are Muslims."

A memorable moment in the film Lincoln comes when the president says, "Things which are equal to the same thing are equal to each other." A daring leap for a white American assessing race in 1865. Truly applying the same Euclidean theorem to grief would be just as daring now in U.S. politics. Let's face it: in the American political culture of our day, all grief is not created equal. Not even close.

* * *

We might say 'twas ever thus: countries and ethnic groups mourn their own while yawning or even rejoicing at the agonies of some "others." And when grief weighs in on the U.S. political scale, the heaviness of our kind makes any other secondary at best. No wonder presidents have always been wary of red-white-and-blue coffins at Andrews Air Force Base. No wonder "Bring our troops home" is such an evergreen slogan of antiwar activism. If the only grief that matters much is American, then just getting Americans out of harm's way is the ticket. The demand-like empathy for the war-torn grief of Americans-is vital. And grievously incomplete.

The world's only superpower has been operating with vast impunity to strike targets and, in effect, summarily execute. (President Obama's big speech on May 23 reasserted that prerogative; as the ACLU's president Anthony Romero pointed out, Obama "still claims broad authority to carry out targeted killings far from any battlefield, and there is still insufficient transparency.") For American politics and mass media-perennially infatuated with the Pentagon's latest tech advances in military capacities-such enormous power to smite presumptive evildoers has fed into a condition of jingo-narcissism. Some of its manifestations could be viewed as sociopathic: unwilling or unable to acknowledge, or evidently care much about, the pain of others.

Or the terror of others, if we are causing it. In the American political lexicon, terror-the keynote word for justifying the U.S. state of warfare so far in this century-is a supreme epithet, taken as ours to confer and to withhold. Meanwhile, by definition, it goes without saying, our leaders of the "war on terror" do not terrorize. Yet consider these words from New York Times reporter David Rohde, recalling his captivity by the Taliban in 2009 in tribal areas of Pakistan: "The drones were terrifying. From the ground, it is impossible to determine who or what they are tracking as they circle overhead. The buzz of a distant propeller is a constant reminder of imminent death."

As part of tacit job descriptions, the U.S. network anchor or the president is highly selective in displayed compassion for the grieving. It won't do to be seen with watery eyes when the Pentagon has done the killing ("friendly fire" a notable exception). No rulebook need be published, no red lines openly promulgated; the gist remains powerfully inherent and understood. If well acculturated, we don't need to ask for whom the bell tolls; we will be informed in due course. John Donne, meet Orwell and Pavlov.

The U.S. Constitution-if not international law or some tenacious kind of idealism-could prevent presidential "kill lists" from trumping due process. But, as Amy Davidson wrote in a New Yorker online column last year, the operative approach is: "it's due process if the president thinks about it." Stephen Colbert summed up: "The Founders weren't picky. Trial by jury, trial by fire, rock-paper-scissors-who cares?" After all, "Due process just means there's a process that you do." Satire from Colbert has been far more candid than oratory from President Obama, whose May 23 speech claimed a commitment to "due process" and declared: "I've insisted on strong oversight of all lethal action."

Bypassing due process and shrugging off the human consequences go hand in hand. At the same time, it can be reassuring when the commander in chief speaks so well. But Obama's lengthy speech at the National Defense University laid out a global picture with a big missing piece: grief due to U.S. military attacks. The only mention was a fleeting understatement ("for the families of those civilians, no words or legal construct can justify their loss"), instantly followed by a focus on burdens of top perpetrators: "For me, and those in my chain of command, these deaths will haunt us as long as we live..." As usual, the grief of the USA's victims was quickly reframed in terms of American dilemmas, essential goodness and standing in the world. So, while Obama's speech called for "addressing the underlying grievances and conflicts that feed extremism, from North Africa to South Asia," some crucial grievances stoking the conflicts were off the table from the outset; grief and rage caused by U.S. warfare remained out of the picture.

Transcendent and truly illuminating grief is to be found elsewhere, close to home. "The greatest country in the world" presumes to shoulder the greatest grief, with more access to profundities of death. No wailing and weeping at the scene of a drone strike, scarcely reported by U.S. media anyway, can hold a candle. For American grief to be only as weighty as any other just won't do. We're number one! A national narrative of emotional supremacy.

Our politics of grief, bouncing off the walls of U.S. media echo chambers, are apt to seem natural and immutable while fueling much of the domestic political rhetoric that drives U.S. foreign policy. The story goes that we're sinned against yet not sinning, engaged in self-protection, paying to defend ourselves. Consider the Google tallies for two phrases. "U.S. defense budget": nearly 4,000,000. "U.S. military budget": less than 100,000.

But for those in communities grieving the loss of people struck down by the USA's "Defense Department," the outlook is inverted. To be killed is bad enough. But to be killed with impunity? To be killed by a machine, from the sky, a missile fired by persons unseen who do not see who they're killing from hundreds or thousands of miles away? To be left to mourn for loved ones killed in this way?

When, from our vantage point, the grief of "others" lacks major verisimilitude, their resentment and rage appear irrational. Heaven forbid that such emotions could give rise to deadly violence approaching the level of our own. People who are uneducated and unclear on the American concept sometimes fail to appreciate that our perception is to be enforced as hegemonic reality. By a kind of fiat we can elevate with fervent validation some-some-others' grief. As for the rest, the gradations of importance of their grief, and the legitimacy of their resort to violence, are to be determined by our judicious assessment; for further information, contact the State Department.

* * *

There may be no worse feeling of human powerlessness than inability to prevent the death of a loved one. The unmatched power of bereavement forces people to cope with a basic kind of human algebra: love + death = grief. Whether felt as a sudden ghastly deluge or as a long series of sleeper waves with awful undertows, real grief can turn upbeat memories into mournful ones; remembering becomes a source of anguish, so that, as Joan Didion wrote, "Memories are what you no longer want to remember." Ultimately, intimately, the human conditions of loss often move people to places scarcely mapped by standard news coverage or political rhetoric.

Imagine living in a village in Pakistan or Afghanistan or Yemen. From the sky, death has been visited on neighbors, and drones keep hovering. (As now-former Times reporter Rohde pointed out: "Drones fire missiles that travel faster than the speed of sound. A drone's victim never hears the missile that kills him.") Overhead are drones named Reaper, shooting missiles named Hellfire. Have the heavens been grabbed by people who think their instruments of death are godly?

"When scientific power outruns moral power," Martin Luther King Jr. said, "we end up with guided missiles and misguided men." For America, drones and other highest-tech weapons are a superb technological means of off-loading moral culpability from public agendas; on the surface, little muss, less fuss.

Disembodied killing offers plenty of pluses in U.S. politics, especially when wars become protracted. From Vietnam to Afghanistan, the reduction of troop levels has cut the number of American deaths (easing the grief that "counts") in tandem with more bombardment from the air (causing the "other" grief ). Today's domestic politics of grief are akin to what emerged after mid-1969, when President Nixon initiated a steady withdrawal of U.S. troops from South Vietnam. During the three years that followed, Nixon reduced the number of soldiers in Vietnam by nearly half a million, to 69,000. During the same three years, the U.S. government dropped 3.5 million tons of bombs on Vietnam-more than all the bombing in the previous five years.

"A superpower cannot promote terror in one place and reasonably expect to discourage terrorism in another place. It won't work in this shrunken world." – Eqbal Ahmad (1998)

Then, as now, the official scenario had U.S. troops thinning on the ground, native troops taking up more of the combat burden, and the Pentagon helpfully bombing from the sky as only Americans could "know how." Independent journalist I. F. Stone astutely identified the paradigm in 1970, when the White House struggled with fading public support for the war. The revamped policy, Stone wrote, was "imperialism by proxy," aiming to buy "low-wage soldier-power," an approach that "will be seen in Asia as a rich white man's idea of fighting a war: we handle the elite airpower while coolies do the killing on the ground." Stone would have swiftly recognized the pattern in President Obama's upbeat statement on May 23 that "we will work with the Afghan government to train security forces and sustain a counterterrorism force."

The number of U.S. ground troops in Afghanistan was down by one-third, to 66,000, at the start of this year, when President Obama announced plans to gradually withdraw the remaining troops over a period of two years. High-tech warfare would pick up the slack. The outgoing Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta, told a news conference that a key mission in Afghanistan, persisting after 2014, would be "counterterrorism," a buzzword for heavy reliance on airpower like drones and cruise missiles. Such weapons would give others grief.

A top "national security" adviser to the president, John Brennan, said as much in an April 2012 speech. "As we have seen," he noted, "deploying large armies abroad won't always be our best offense. Countries typically don't want foreign soldiers in their cities and towns." The disadvantages of "large, intrusive military deployments" were many. "In comparison, there is the precision of targeted strikes."

But such "precision" is imperfect enough to be an other's calamity. Likewise, the extreme relativity of "agony." At his Senate confirmation hearing to become CIA director in February 2013, Brennan spoke of "the agony we go through" in deciding which individuals to target with drones. Perhaps to square some circles of cognitive dissonance, those who inflict major violence often seem moved to underscore their own psychological pain, their own mental wounds. (As if to say, This hurts me as much as it hurts them; maybe even more, given my far more acute moral sensitivities.) When the focus is on the agony of the perpetrators, there may be less room left to consider the grief of their victims.

Shifting the burden of protracted war easily meshes with a zero-sum geopolitical game. Official enthusiasm for air strikes has correlated with assurances that Americans would be facing much less grief than allied others. So, near the end of 2012, the USA Today front page reported that "the number of U.S. deaths in Afghanistan is on track to decline sharply this year, reflecting the drawdown in U.S. forces"-while the death toll for Afghan government forces had climbed to ten times the U.S. level. These developments were recounted as progress all the way around.

As top officials in Washington move to lighten the political load of American grief, their cost-benefit analyses find major strategic value in actions that inflict more grief on others. Political respects must be paid. Elites in the war corps and the press corps do not have infinite tolerance for American deaths, and the Pentagon's latest technology for remote killing is a perpetual favorite. In the long run, however, what goes around tends to come around.

Advice offered by scholar Eqbal Ahmad before 9/11 bears repeating and pondering: "A superpower cannot promote terror in one place and reasonably expect to discourage terrorism in another place. It won't work in this shrunken world."

After the "war on terror" gained momentum, Martin Luther King III spoke at a commemoration of his father's birth and said: "When will the war end? We all have to be concerned about terrorism, but you will never end terrorism by terrorizing others." That was more than nine years ago.
(c) 2013 Norman Solomon is co-founder of and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death" and "Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State."

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~~~ Chan Lowe ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Obama Fed Grapes While Urging Press Conference To Enjoy Orgy

The president calls for members of the White House Press Corps to succumb to their basest sensual desires.

WASHINGTON-Standing before members of the White House Press Corps Wednesday afternoon as aides lowered a bunch of grapes into his mouth, President Obama encouraged everyone gathered in the West Wing briefing room to abandon their inhibitions and revel in a wild, drunken orgy.

Sources confirmed Obama, who had initially called the press conference to discuss the progress on an infrastructure development bill, suddenly requested everyone in the room strip off their clothing and strongly urged NBC's Chuck Todd and CNN's Jessica Yellin to kick the festivities off by engaging in oral sex in front of the podium.

"This afternoon I will discuss how the new water resource development bill could affect S. 601, but first, I think we should all give in to the basest of our primal urges and drink thirstily from the cup of lust," said Obama, as the juice of the grapes he was eating ran down his chin and White House staffers placed a wreath of leaves onto his head. "This is a day of excess! So now, release yourselves from your attire and surrender your body and mind to the pleasures of the vita carnalis, and to the sheer majesty of the human flesh."

"Do not resist," the president continued. "Avail yourself of every journalist and cameraman in this room!"

According to reports, the six-hour-long alcohol-fueled orgy included nearly 50 reporters from a number of Pulitzer Prize-winning media outlets engaged in various sex acts. Multiple eyewitnesses confirmed seeing two AP reporters engaging in anal penetration against a lectern, an ABC News correspondent screaming in ecstasy as she was repeatedly penetrated with a live NPR microphone, and a naked secret service agent urinating on New York Times journalist Peter Baker.

Eyewitness accounts confirmed that as the reporters continued ravenously copulating on top of one another, Obama ripped off his shirt, leaned back in a large golden chair, and was attended to by a bevy of 23-year-old political bloggers who eagerly satisfied his every sensual whim.

Throughout the course of the lascivious ceremony, sources also reported seeing a fully nude White House press secretary Jay Carney prancing between the writhing, sweat-soaked nude bodies sprawled across the room while playing a pan flute and vigorously tugging his erect penis.

"Are we not but beasts, each and every one of us?" Obama roared, as a line of young White House interns frantically playing drums filed into the room followed by servants carrying large trays loaded with slow-roasted boars, cooked turkeys, salted fish, and one large goat on a spit. "Death may visit us all by nightfall, thus do not concern yourself with the petty, ephemeral nature of existence and instead embrace pure pleasure!"

"I urge you, don't stop until your most depraved fantasies are realized," added Obama, while pouring a large cup of wine onto Mother Jones reporter David Corn as he licked honey from the president's nipple.

Reports confirmed that toward the end of the massive orgy, the swelling music quickly reached its apex as the dozens of heaving journalists growled with pleasure and edged towards climax. In the bacchanalian celebration's final moments, a golden bust of a bull's head was brought before the assembly, at which time Obama sliced the stomach of a USA Today political correspondent, spilling blood all across the briefing room.

By the end of the orgy, multiple participants reported having no memory of the full span of the afternoon's events due to the sheer volume and variety of alcohol and hallucinogenic black henbane consumed during the festivities.

"When it began, I was admittedly apprehensive, but by the end I had become fully one with the ravenous sexual mammal that lives deep within my soul," said NPR's Ari Shapiro, who claimed to have had intercourse with somewhere between six and 32 different reporters throughout the event. "Honestly, I only remember flashes: a Newsweek reporter sitting on my face, me fisting Fox News' Ed Henry, and lastly, me gaining consciousness again on top of a pile of CNN reporters."

"It was the most marvelous experience of my life," added Shapiro.

At press time, the reporters, all covered in ejaculate, blood, fecal matter, and food, attempted to question Obama on the estimated timetable of the water resource development bill.
(c) 2013 The Onion

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Issues & Alibis Vol 13 # 19 (c) 05/31/2013

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