Issues & Alibis

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In This Edition

Cynthia McKinney exposes, "Israel's Latest Murder Of Humanitarian Activists."

Uri Avnery looks forward to, "A Day In November."

David Sirota warns, "Gulf Spill Bailout In The Works."

Joel S. Hirschhorn explains, "Convention USA."

Jim Hightower says, "Don't Regulate Wall Street, Restructure It."

Dilip Hiro concludes, "The American Century Is So Over."

James Donahue uncovers, "Texas Educators Want To Brainwash Our Children."

Medea Benjamin demands that, "Obama Must Join Global Condemnation Of Israeli Flotilla Assault."

Greg Palast introduces a, "Smart Pig."

Case Wagenvoord discovers, "An Exciting New Threat."

Mike Folkerth finds, "America; Unstable, Unreliable, Unacceptable."

Chris Hedges explores why, "This Country Needs A Few Good Communists."

David Michael Green with, "I Can't Wait For Barack Obama To Become President."

U.S. vice ambassador to the United Nations Alejandro Wolff wins the coveted "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Glenn Greenwald reads, "Pure Kafka."

Ray McGovern ties together, "Obama's Timidity And Deaths At Sea."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion reports the, "White House Jester Beheaded For Making Fun Of Soaring National Debt" but first Uncle Ernie examines "Mass Murder On The High Seas!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Jeff Stahler, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Derf City, Ted Rall, Trussell & Trussell, Dees Ilustration.Com, Paul Fell, Wiley Miller, Keith Tucker, Mario Piperni.Com, J. MacAlpine, Junius Brutus Stearns, A.P. 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."

Mass Murder On The High Seas!
By Ernest Stewart

"Now Israel has shown to all the world how well it knows how to kill. People were killed and badly wounded, some from shots, even when bound. How human is this? There is no other way of explaining this to the world. All states condemn it, but this is not enough, we need results. People around the world need to know that one day justice will be revealed. If Israel does not immediately free all the detainees and wounded, the rift in relations with it will widen."
~~~ Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan ~~~

"Under the majority's view, I suppose it may be a First Amendment problem that corporations are not permitted to vote, given that voting is, among other things, a form of speech." ~~~ Justice John Paul Stevens in dissent

"There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle." "That's some catch, that catch-22," he observed.

"It's the best there is," Doc Daneeka agreed.
Catch-22 ~~~ Joseph Heller

Those crazy Israeli knuckleheads were at it again, murdering, kidnapping and playing Pirates of the Mediterranean to keep desperately needed supplies from reaching their million and one half death camp prisoners in the Gaza ghetto. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, while crying great big crocodile tears, said he was, "sorry for lives lost, the organizers of the Gaza-bound protest flotilla were solely responsible for the outcome of the fatal IDF raid earlier in the day." Spoken like the true war criminal that you are, Ehud!

On the high seas Israel committed acts of war against Turkey, The United States and several other nations by boarding, hi-jacking and murdering people on board the"flagged ships" of those countries. They did this, not in Israeli costal waters but in the middle of the ocean. With guns ablazing, Israeli commandoes boarded and opened fire on sleeping men and women murdering at least 10 or, as most have said 20, and wounding at least 60 more. We won't know the real totals until the peacers and humanitarian aiders are released from the Israeli concentration camp where they were taken.

The six-ship convoy was comprised of 700 people from 50 nations and included a Nobel laureate, members of parliament from Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Turkey and Malaysia, and Palestinian members of the Israeli Knesset. They were attempting to deliver 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza because Gaza has been cut off from the outside world by Israel. Most of this aid consisted of cement and pre-built housing and medical supplies as the Israelis have cut off all three after making tens of thousands homeless and bombing hospitals to dust in the Gaza Ghetto!

Not since the 60's when Israeli torpedo boats and jet fighters attacked and almost sank another unarmed ship, the USS Liberty, have we seen such utter contempt for the maritime laws as we did Monday morning. You may recall our good buddies and allies, the Israelis, attacked a plainly marked unarmed US research ship and murdered 34 crewmembers and wounded 171 others while the ship was in international waters off the coast of Egypt! Of course, to be fair, many would have been saved if Johnny (wet start) McCain's daddy Admiral, John S. McCain, Jr. hadn't recalled the US Navy jets that had been scrambled in reply to the Liberty's SOS signals. Instead, the Israeli torpedo boats were allowed to make their runs on the defenseless ship. The Liberty was a WWII cargo ship (a"Liberty Ship") flying a large American flag and couldn't by any stretch of the imagination be mistaken for an Egyptian warship. At least at that moment, Israel was only following ze orders! As LBJ said, "I want that ship on the bottom!" Like his Gulf of Tonkin treason, the point here was to sink the ship and blame it on Egypt so that we could invade Egypt as we did in Vietnam! Perhaps Barry was behind this latest atrocity?

In the aftermath, the incident was covered up by McCain and LBJ and the survivors were threatened by imprisonment and loss of their GI rights if they ever breathed a word about it and were made to swear an oath to keep it a secret. However after 25 years, the word leaked out, survivors started coming forward and the truth came out. It also goes to show that US veterans have always been treated like dirt by the government and is really nothing new!

Do we see a pattern here? A pattern where the big bad Israelis like to torture and murder unarmed, defenseless people and steal their property?! As Uri Avnery exclaimed last week in his column with a premonition, "Hallelujah, The World Is Against Us!" Be careful what you wish for, Uri!

In Other News

As Extreme Court Chief Justice John (the enforcer) Roberts has said, corporations are people and have the same rights as (some) humans. In fact they more rights. Well, there's a surprise, huh? While we're limited to how much we can give to a candidate or a party when it come to corporations the skies the limit!

If this is true then why hasn't the head of British Petroleum, Tony Hayward, been charged with 11 counts of murder in the first degree? His decisions to implement cost cutting measures and sign off on hundreds of safety violations caused the death of eleven workers and injury to scores more! With rights go responsibilities, do they not? Ergo, shouldn't we bring Tony to justice?

Let's not forget the Upper Big Branch mine disaster that murdered 29 miners. Again, it was because the corporation couldn't be bothered with court ordered safety items when there was so much more money to be had by not following safety rules. Why hasn't Massey Energy boss Don Blankenship been brought to trial and made to pay for his crimes? Not in a civil court but in a criminal court?

Not only Messrs. Blankenship & Hayward but their board of directors who also had a hand in making these decisions, are guilty as well, right? If you ask me to drive you to the bank and when you get there, you go in and rob the bank and I knew absolutely nothing about it, according to the law I'm as guilty as you, i.e., guilt by association. All of these corpo-rat monsters weren't innocent bystanders. Their hands are covered in the blood of the innocents, so shouldn't they be charged with murder one, too?

Shouldn't Attorney General Holder be all over this by now? I see where he is heading to the Gulf region to meet with state attorneys general to discuss possible criminal prosecutions relating to the disaster. Possible? For what? For spilling the oil or murdering 11 people? Why not for both? Why not write the president and ask him why not prosecute the corpo-rat goons for murder too? After all, John (the enforcer) says corporations are persons, so shouldn't they have to pay like you and me?

And Finally

Although I've been writing sci-fi and fantasy stories and novels for years, not in my wildest dreams could I have written the following tale which unfortunately for America, is true. Just see if you can follow the twisted logic of the Extreme Court in the case of Berghuis v. Thompkins.

The five fascists on the court ruled Tuesday that suspects must explicitly tell police they want to be silent to invoke Miranda protections during criminal interrogations, a decision one dissenting justice said turns defendants' rights "upside down."

I'm sure you know it but it goes something like this... You have the right to remain silent. "If you give up that right anything you say can be taken down and used against you in a court of law," which police recite to suspects during arrests and before interrogations unless Barry has branded you a terrorist or tea bagger, but I repeat myself. But the justices ruled in a 5-4 decision that suspects must tell police they are going to remain silent to stop an interrogation, just as they must tell police that they want a lawyer. To remain silent you must talk because just to remain silent doesn't invoke your Miranda rights, uh huh!

The ruling comes in a case where a suspect, Van Chester Thompkins, remained silent for a three-hour police interrogation before implicating himself in a Jan. 10, 2000, murder in Southfield, Mich. He appealed his conviction, saying that he invoked his Miranda right to remain silent by remaining silent.

However, Justice Anthony (fat Tony) Kennedy, writing the decision for the court's fascist majority, said that wasn't enough.

"Thompkins did not say that he wanted to remain silent or that he did not want to talk to police. Had he made either of these simple, unambiguous statements, he would have invoked his 'right to cut off questioning.' Here he did neither, so he did not invoke his right to remain silent."

Justice Sonia (get whitey) Sotomayor, wrote a strongly worded dissent for the court's liberal minority, saying "the majority's decision turns Miranda upside down."

"Criminal suspects must now unambiguously invoke their right to remain silent - which counter intuitively, requires them to speak, At the same time, suspects will be legally presumed to have waived their rights even if they have given no clear expression of their intent to do so. Those results, in my view, find no basis in Miranda or our subsequent cases and are inconsistent with the fair-trial principles on which those precedents are grounded."

As Alice said, "curiouser and curiouser!"

Oh And One More Thing

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


02-08-1968 ~ 05-28-2010
What'choo talkin' 'bout, Willis?

05-17-1936 ~ 05-29-2010
Thanks for the films, bro!

02-21-1934 ~ 06-03-2010
Thanks for the laughs!


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


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

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

Israel's Latest Murder Of Humanitarian Activists
Cynthia McKinney Mourns the Dead of the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza: People of the U.S. and the world must end Israeli impunity now!
By Cynthia McKinney

I am outraged at Israel's latest criminal act. I mourn with my fellow Free Gaza travelers, the lives that have been lost by Israel's needless, senseless act against unarmed humanitarian activists. But I'm even more outraged that once again, Israel's actions have been aided and abetted by a U.S. political class that has become corrupted beyond belief due to its reliance on Zionist finance and penetration by Zionist zealots for whom no U.S. weapons system is too much for the Israeli war machine, and the silence of the world's onlookers whose hearts have grown cold with indifference.

I recently visited the offices of IHH, the Turkish humanitarian organization that sponsored one of the Freedom Flotilla boats, and that was targeted by the Israelis for its murderous rampage. Reports are still coming in as to the full extent of the senseless Israeli violence. Of course, I expect Israel's apologists in the press and in the United States government to shift into high gear to support Israel's lying machine. Take note of their names. The 12,000 internet squatters/written word grenade throwers, hired by the Israeli Foreign Ministry to defend Israel and attack peace activists online, are already busy spreading their orchestrated disinformation in cyberspace. Be very careful what you read and believe from special interest press and the internet. You could be reading one of Israel's hired hacks. As a news diversion from what Israel has just done, I suspect that we can also expect to see a lot of historical footage of war's atrocities on television: today is Memorial Day in the United States, a day long ago set aside to remember the sacrifices of U.S. war dead.

I encouraged and supported U.S.S. Liberty veteran Joe Meadors's participation in the Freedom Flotilla. Unfortunately, the fate of the U.S.S. Liberty innocents on the high seas, while in international waters, has now been visited upon the participants in the Freedom Flotilla, in large measure because of the Congressional- and Presidential-level cover-up of the 1967 Israeli attack on that U.S. surveillance ship. Combined with the failure of just about every other effort to hold Israel accountable for its crimes against humanity, war crimes, genocide, and crimes against the peace. Belgium and Spain changed their domestic laws of universal jurisdiction after Israeli appeals to do so. The entire musical chairs gang of rotating Israeli leadership are war criminals. During my imprisonment in Israel for attempting to take crayons to the children of Gaza, I called Israel a failed state. If Israel is threatened by unarmed, humanitarian activists to the point of massacring them, then Israel is a failed state. Israel is a failed nuclear state.

Obama's most recent granting of an additional $205 million for Israeli "missile defense" is unconscionable, when in the same week, reports revealed for the first time, Israel's offer of nuclear weapons to apartheid South Africa. Just last week, a paper bearing the signature of former Israeli Prime Minister, Shimon Peres, was released by South Africa, revealing that in 1975, Israel could offer South Africa nuclear weapons "in three sizes." South Africa's then-Minister of Defense, P.W. Botha, was South Africa's signatory to the letter. This information would make the entire Obama Administration look sadly farcical as it points an accusing finger at Iran, except that U.S. obeisance to the Israeli blood thirst is deadly serious. With deadly outcomes.

Earlier this month, Israel was granted admission to the Organization of Economic and Community Development (OECD), a direct affront to ongoing Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) efforts across the world. Once again, Israel has thumbed its nose at the global community--with bloody results--because it can.

I am proud to serve on the Bertrand Russell Tribunal on Palestine. Its next sitting will be in London, where we will examine corporate complicity in Israel's crimes against Palestine. The Tribunal will sit from November 5 - 7. Please put this on your calendar. We all must do what we can, where we are to end wars against the people at home and wars against human rights abroad.

Finally, a friend just sent a message to me saying that the Israelis had lost their minds. Sadly, based on the past, the Israelis could very well conclude that they can do anything--imprison me for trying to take love to the children of Gaza and kill humanitarian activists trying to do the same--because they know, in the end, they'll get away with it. Instead, I would suggest that we are the ones who have lost our minds, our souls, our spirits, and our human dignity if we allow the Israelis to get away with murder--again--and we do nothing.

I am calling on the people of the United States to change course now.

On this Memorial Day 2010, I am stunned and outraged beyond belief while mourning the dead of the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza. *****

Silence is the deadliest weapon of mass destruction.
(c) 2010 Cynthia McKinney is a former U.S. Congresswoman, Green Party presidential candidate, and an outspoken advocate for human rights and social justice. The first African-American woman to represent the state of Georgia, McKinney served six terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, from 1993-2003, and from 2005-2007.

A Day In November
By Uri Avnery

RAHM EMANUEL is, so it seems, the American most hated by the leaders of Israel. He is considered the most dangerous opponent of the Netanyahu government in the White House. Behind closed doors, they shower him - if one is to believe the media - with anti-Semitic epithets. "Jewboy" is one of them. In Zionist usage, he is a "self-hating Jew."

And lo and behold, here he is strolling around the Galilee in shorts. He visits the occupied Golan Heights, which foreign diplomats normally take great pains to avoid. The IDF flies him between its installations. He prays at the Western Wall. A good Jewish tourist from America.

Emanuel's son has reached the age of Bar Mitzva; where better to celebrate than the Land of Israel, where his grandfather was a member of the Irgun - an outfit that the US administration would have branded a terrorist organization, like Hamas today.

In short, the self-hating Jewboy has revealed himself as a Zionist with a warm Jewish heart, an admirer of the IDF and a supporter of the annexation of the Golan Heights.

THE VISIT was not, of course, a passing whim. It joined a long series of gestures by Barack Obama designed to win the hearts of the Jews before the upcoming congressional elections.

It seems that at some stage, months ago, Obama came to the conclusion that he had lost the first round of his contest with Binyamin Netanyahu, and that it would be better to live and fight another day.

He himself spelled it out in a conversation with Jewish leaders: at the beginning of his path in the Middle East he stepped on some landmines. He has learned his lesson.

The result was a campaign of sweet-talk and flattery:

He invited Elie Wiesel, Mr. Holocaust in person, to a private lunch at the White House. Perhaps they exchanged memories about some common experiences, like "How to accept the Nobel Peace Prize and keep a straight face." Wiesel's contribution to peace is one of the great mysteries of the universe. (My own opinion of Wiesel found its expression in a Hebrew word I invented especially for him: "Shoan" (something like "Holocauster'.)

After that, Obama met with several sets of "Jewish leaders" and told them about his unwavering support for the security of Israel, his admiration for Netanyahu and love for Israel in general. Never mind that just recently a major opinion poll has shown that these "leaders" represent mostly themselves - the great majority of the younger Jewish generation in the US opposes the policies of the Israeli government and is becoming more and more alienated from Israel.

Sending his No. 1 confidante to Israel in the guise of an ardent Zionist and extending an invitation to Netanyahu to come and visit him in the White House are further stages in this campaign.

WHAT IS the aim? Well, that is as clear as the mid-day sun.

On November 2, the 93rd anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, elections will be held in the US. All the seats in the House of Representatives and 34 in the senate will be up for grabs.

For Obama, these elections are hugely important. In the worst case, the Democrats will lose control of one of the houses of Congress, making it impossible for Obama to get most of the laws he desires passed. The best he can realistically hope for is that the Democratic majority in both houses will be reduced, making the life of the President much more difficult.

AIPAC has already shown that it can have a big impact on election results. When the lobby decides to topple a member of Congress, that is the end of his political life. When the lobby concentrates its financial and political might on a certain spot, it is almost invincible.

Obama now needs all the support he can get in both houses. Therefore, he must neutralize the pro-Israel lobby. The expense of the Bar Mitzva party of the Emanuel family was a negligible price to pay for this.

When Obama says that he stepped on a landmine, he means the mine called AIPAC.

THE PHENOMENON itself is nothing new. It repeats itself every fours years, and sometimes every two.

Since the first day of the State of Israel, all Israeli governments have been aware that an election year in the US provides them with unparalleled political opportunities.

Israel was founded in May 1948, half a year before the US elections. Harry Truman was in a critical situation. Many believed that he would be roundly defeated. He was in desperate need of money. Some rich Jews dug into their pockets and saved Truman, who won by the skin of his teeth.

All of Truman's political and military aides advised him not to support Israel's independence. But Truman recognized the new state (de facto at least) immediately after it was established.

From that day on, whenever the Israeli government needs US support for a controversial act, it waits for an American election year. This has almost always succeeded. The exception: a week before the 1956 elections, the Ben-Gurion government (urged on by Shimon Peres) invaded Sinai in cahoots with France and the UK. The Israeli leaders believed that no American politician would dare to oppose Israel on the eve of elections.

They were wrong. President Dwight Eisenhower, a former supreme allied commander, was supremely confident of his election victory. Therefore he ignored the Jewish lobby and, together with his Soviet colleague, presented Israel with an ultimatum. That got David Ben-Gurion out of Sinai and Gaza in a jiffy.

Those who hoped that Obama would prove to be a second Eisenhower were wrong. In spite of some resounding successes, his political situation is far from impressive. The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has not improved his political health. As a realistic politician, he has decided that this is not the right time to take on the Jewish establishment.

Perhaps he remembered the sober advice of Niccolo Machiavelli: If you can't kill the lion, don't provoke it.

HOWEVER, THERE is a huge landmine buried on the road to election day: the settlement freeze.

When Obama compelled Netanyahu to freeze the settlements officially in the West Bank (and unofficially in East Jerusalem, too), a ten-month period was agreed upon. This will come to an end in September.

When the time comes, Netanyahu will face immense pressures from the settlers and their allies to start building again. "What are you afraid of?" they will say, "two months before the elections Obama will not dare to lift a finger! And (quoting a Jewish sage) if not now, when?"

The situation in Israel will increase the temptation. It seems that "we have never had it so good". There are no attacks. Our economy is booming. In spite of the criticism echoing around the world, Israel's political standing is robust. Just last week Israel was accepted as a member of the OECD, the world's most prestigious economic club. Obama has capitulated. When the army's Homeland Command held extensive exercises this week, the people just winked and did not bother to run to the shelters.

The temptation to renew the building in the settlements will be strong. But Netanyahu will think about the day after. And so will Obama.

AND INDEED, what will happen the day after the elections?

Optimists believe that on that morning, a new era will start. No further elections are planned before November 2012, when Obama's first term expires. For an entire year, at least, he will be free to act.

That is a "window of opportunities". A wide-open window. During this time Obama can realize his hope of bringing peace and retrieve the position of the US in the Middle East. As an added bonus, he will also be able to vent his accumulated fury against Netanyahu.

According to this forecast, in this one year, from the end of 2010 to the end of 2011, the final act of the drama will be enacted. Obama will present an American peace plan, the pressure on the Israeli government will intensify, Israel will finally have to choose between peace and territories, peace will at long last be on its way.

But there is also an opposite forecast: Obama will continue to disappoint, as he has disappointed until now. He will already be thinking about the next presidential election and continue to be afraid of AIPAC.

This forecast has a lot going for it. When I was very young, my father admonished me never, but never, to yield to blackmail. He who pays a blackmailer once will continue to pay to his last day. A blackmailer never lets go of his victim.

(In the course of my life I have tried to adhere to this advice. My technique is this: when somebody tries to blackmail me, threatening to do me some harm, I imagine that he has already done so. This way, the threat loses its sting.)

AIPAC is blackmailing Obama, and until now it has been successful. It will go on doing so after November. Obama should face up to the idea and decide: no more.

Will he have the courage to do so? I don't know. I hope.
(c) 2010 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Gulf Spill Bailout In The Works
By David Sirota

Based on John Kerry's 2004 declaration that "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it," you could argue that the Massachusetts Democrat is the founder of modern political flip-flopping. By that metric, though, you would also have to acknowledge that Kentucky Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell is the game's Michael Jordan.

As the upper chamber's GOP leader, McConnell backed the Wall Street bailout in 2008, calling it "one of the finest moments in the history of the Senate." A year and a half later, he was telling reporters that he vehemently opposes bailouts of big business.

Now, just weeks after that textbook "for-it-before-against-it" feat, McConnell and his Republican colleagues are determined to pull off a bailout for yet another big business: the oil industry.

True, we haven't heard that word - "bailout" - during the gulf disaster, which the government calls the worst petroleum spill in U.S. history. But we have heard a lot about the oil industry's "liability cap" - a synonym for "bailout." See, someone is going to bear the huge cost of damage to the Gulf Coast economy. The lost wages, sales and revenues will be borne by either:

A. Fishermen, motel owners and other small businesses whose livelihoods are being choked in oil plumes.

B. Taxpayers, whose cash would finance disaster aid and victims' benefits or...

C. Oil firms whose rig caused the catastrophe. In this particular calamity, a bailout would permit C to pass off major portions of the economic cost to A and B.

Which, of course, is precisely what existing liability caps are designed to do. That's right, under law, "oil companies face unlimited liability for the cleanup costs of an offshore spill, but their liability for economic damages to affected communities is capped at $75 million," reports Congressional Quarterly.

Considering the fact that oil-spill costs can far surpass $75 million, this is the old "too big to fail" idea propping up the oil companies. Applied specifically to the gulf cataclysm, the statute suggests that the national interest is best served by having taxpayers and communities foot the bill for the destruction rather than having companies like British Petroleum suffer the balance-sheet pain of paying the full damages.

In response, Democrats are proposing sensible new legislation to eliminate the cap and reaffirm the "polluter pays" principle. As President Obama's associate attorney general told Congress, "We don't think there should be an arbitrary cap on financial liability."

Yet McConnell apparently does. Appearing on "Meet the Press," the Republican leader, who weeks ago railed on "guaranteed perpetual taxpayer bailouts," not only refused to support eliminating the liability cap but also warned of "the danger of taking the cap too high" - in effect, opposing even moderately reducing the size of the bailouts that the cap creates.

Obviously, the GOP is trying to help its oil industry benefactors stall for time. As Sen. Bernie Sanders, independent-Vt., said in chastising the obstructionism, "A year from now, the television cameras will be gone, and it will be a fisherman who's trying to file a claim and he's going to be by himself" with no means of redress.

That's the Republicans' unfortunate goal, and because of the GOP's intransigence, prospects for the Democrats' legislation remain cloudy. What's clear, however, is McConnell's place in the Flip-Flopping Hall of Fame. His spectacular contortions have earned him a hallowed spot in the building's brand new Bailout Wing.

(c) 2010 David Sirota is the author of the best-selling books "Hostile Takeover" and "The Uprising." He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado and blogs at E-mail him at

Convention USA
Confronting Unconstitutional Inaction by Congress
By Joel S. Hirschhorn

Wake up patriots. Voting is not the answer. Not in our corrupt system. But there is something else for US citizens. First they must understand the importance of the provision in Article V of their Constitution for a convention of state delegates that can propose constitutional amendments just like Congress. Then they must also learn that Congress has long refused to obey the Constitution and convene the first convention. Sounds a little nuts, but Congress has gotten away with it. Not that you need even more reason to have no confidence in Congress.

What can Americans do? They can join Friends of the Article V Convention, the only national nonpartisan group with the single mission of compelling Congress to call the first convention. This group has performed admirably to better inform Americans about the Article V convention option and, even more importantly, about the refusal by Congress to obey the Constitution, recognize over 700 applications from all 50 states for a convention, and act as required by their oath of office by convening the first convention. Even today more state legislators are calling for a convention. FOAVC has done what neither Congress or any other group has done; it has made state applications for a convention publicly available as well as countless other materials to broaden public support for a convention.

And now Americans seeing the need for deep reforms of our political and government system and fed up with the two-party plutocracy that has not delivered them have a second opportunity.

They can join the Convention USA effort and become state delegates to an online virtual convention that will behave like a real Article V convention until Congress does its constitutional duty and convenes the first Article V convention. This is a test drive of a real Article V convention, showing how serious citizens can behave intelligently and responsibly to conceive constitutional amendments as the means intended by the Founders to update and improve our Constitution and create an even more perfect union.

This is what the new group says:

Here you will find a gathering of patriotic citizens who have assembled, not as revolutionaries, but as loyal Americans, to exercise their right as guaranteed by Article V of the Constitution of the United States, to convene as the people of the several States and to consider, debate, refine and propose such amendments to the Constitution as the experience of more than two centuries of government in our Federal Republic shall suggest.

This Convention shall be called to order if and when delegates from two-thirds of the several states shall have registered, and shall adjourn sine die whenever the Congress shall have called a Convention pursuant to Article V of the Constitution of the United States.

This action is what makes more sense than ever before: Put aside partisan views, loss of confidence in government, and feelings of despair. Do not assume that some victories of anti-establishment candidates in elections will suffice to reform the system. Stay focused on your deep seated desire to make the US political and government system better, more just, more honest, more open, more effective and more efficient. Recognize that, if you honor and respect the Constitution, unless you support using the Article V convention option given to us by the Founders you are a constitutional hypocrite.

Convention USA understands that it does not have the legal power to actually propose amendments that have the same meaning as those proposed by Congress or an actual Article V convention. But it sees the potential power of bringing Americans together to see how a convention can make democracy work better to advance the most noble goals and values of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. What it accomplishes can also send an important message to Congress about the kinds of amendments Americans support.

Convention USA, therefore, is a lot more than mere protest. It offers a unique path to become much better informed about the benefits of using the Article V convention approach to making the USA all that it should and can be. To become a delegate, however, requires payment of $10 a month, something I wish the group would rethink.

The more members this group attracts, the more that Congress will find it difficult to ignore their constitutional responsibility to obey Article V. And with strong participation from people in many states even the mainstream media might take notice. One thing will surely become clear as Convention USA becomes fully operational: Congress fears many kinds of constitutional amendments that would truly reform our corrupt and dysfunctional political and government system, which explains why they have refused to convene the first Article V convention. Fear the status quo, not using the Article V convention option the Founders gave us.

Those opposing using the convention option are selfishly protecting their ability to work within the current corrupt, money-driven system to advance their objectives. Such opponents are not true American patriots. They use lies and disinformation to instill unjustified fears, like nonsense about a runaway convention. Remember this: An Article V convention can only propose amendments that still must be ratified by three-quarters of the states, and it does not have the constitutional power to write a whole new Constitution. What Congress and opponents fear we the people should passionately embrace.

Take a serious look at the facts about the Article V convention issue and at the Convention USA effort.
(c) 2010 Joel S. Hirschhorn observed our corrupt federal government firsthand as a senior official with the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the National Governors Association and is the author of Delusional Democracy - Fixing the Republic Without Overthrowing the Government. To discuss issues write the author. The author has a Ph.D. in Materials Engineering and was formerly a full professor of metallurgical engineering at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Don't Regulate Wall Street, Restructure It

Boy, Obama and the Democratic senate really socked it to Wall Street with their financial reform bill, didn't they? The American people demanded reform, said the senate banking chairman, and "this [bill] is their victory."

Hey, those banksters who wrecked our economy deserve to be hit hard. But... wait. If the bill is so tough, why are all the big bankers smiling? Because, despite Washington's populist rhetoric, they know that the White House and Congress are letting them escape with a mere increase in regulations, keeping their destructive power, overwhelming size, and monopolistic market control intact. They wriggled out of the real populist proposals to break up all "too-big-to-fail" banks and to decentralize Wall Street power. "If you talk to anyone privately," says one investment banker, "there's a sigh of relief."

How did the banksters so deftly dodge the public's demand for real change? Money. In the past year, while Congress's banking committees have been writing the reform bill, Wall Street executive and lobbyists have held 845 fundraising events for the members of those committees, putting millions of dollars into their re-election campaigns.

Lest you think bankers will now meekly accept the regulations in the bill, note that a top hatchetman for the Chamber of Commerce has said, "This is not the end of the process." Even before the House-Senate Conference committee was appointed to finalize the bill, lobbyists were swarming its likely members, demanding that various regulations be weakened or killed. They're also looking for loopholes in the bill's language, and their lawyers are already preparing court challenges.

This is Jim Hightower saying... Regulations are a rabbit's warren of escapes. The only reforms that'll actually stop Wall Street's destructive gambling with our economy are those structural reforms that outlaw, downsize and decentralize the gamblers.
(c) 2010 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition.

The American Century Is So Over
Obama's Rudderless Foreign Policy Underscores America's Waning Power
by Dilip Hiro

Irrespective of their politics, flawed leaders share a common trait. They generally remain remarkably oblivious to the harm they do to the nation they lead. George W. Bush is a salient recent example, as is former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. When it comes to foreign policy, we are now witnessing a similar phenomenon at the Obama White House.

Here is the Obama pattern: Choose a foreign leader to pressure. Threaten him with dire consequences if he does not bend to Washington's will. When he refuses to submit and instead responds vigorously, back off quickly and overcompensate for failure by switching into a placatory mode.

In his first year-plus in office, Barack Obama has provided us with enough examples to summarize his leadership style. The American president fails to objectively evaluate the strength of the cards that a targeted leader holds and his resolve to play them.

Obama's propensity to retreat at the first sign of resistance shows that he lacks both guts and the strong convictions that are essential elements distinguishing statesmen from politicians. By pursuing a rudderless course in his foreign policy, by flip-flopping in his approach to other leaders, he is also inadvertently furnishing hard evidence to those who argue that American power is on the decline -- and that the downward slide of the globe's former "sole superpower" is irreversible.

Those who have refused to buckle under Obama's initial threats and hardball tactics (and so the impact of American power) include not just the presidents of China, a first-tier mega-nation, and Brazil, a rising major power, but also the leaders of Israel, a regional power heavily dependent on Washington for its sustenance, and Afghanistan, a client state -- not to mention the military junta of Honduras, a minor entity, which stood up to the Obama administration as if it were the Politburo of former Soviet Union.

Flip-Flop on Honduras

By overthrowing the civilian government of President Manuel Zelaya in June 2009, the Honduran generals acquired the odious distinction of carrying out the first military coup in Central America in the post-Cold War era. What drove them to it? The precipitating factor was Zelaya's decision to have a non-binding survey on holding a referendum that November about convening a Constituent Assembly to redraft the constitution.

Denouncing the coup as a "terrible precedent" for the region and demanding its reversal, President Obama initially insisted: "We do not want to go back to a dark past. We always want to stand with democracy."

Those words should have been followed by deeds like recalling his ambassador in Tegucigalpa (just as Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Venezuela did) and an immediate suspension of the American aid on which the country depends. Instead, what followed was a statement by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that the administration would not formally designate the ouster as a military coup "for now" -- even though the United Nations, the Organization of American States, and the European Union had already done so.

This backtracking encouraged the Honduran generals and their Republican supporters in Congress. They began to stonewall, while a top notch public relations firm in Washington, hired by the de facto government of the military's puppet president Roberto Micheletti, went to work.

These moves proved enough to weaken the "democratic" resolve of a president who makes lofty speeches, but lacks strong convictions when it comes to foreign policy. Secretary of State Clinton then began talking of reconciling the ousted president and the Micheletti government, treating the legitimate and illegitimate camps as equals.

Having realized that a hard line stance vis-ˆ-vis Washington was paying dividends, the Honduran generals remained unbending. Only when Clinton insisted that the State Department would not recognize the November presidential election result because of doubts about it being free, fair, and transparent did they agree to a compromise a month before the poll. They would let Zelaya return to the presidential palace to finish his term in office.

That was when rightwing Republican Senator Jim DeMint, a fanatical supporter of the Honduran generals, swung into action. He would give Republican consent to White House nominees for important posts in Latin America only if Clinton agreed to recognize the election results, irrespective of what happened to Zelaya. Clinton buckled.

As a result, Obama became one of only two leaders -- the other being Panama's president -- in the 34-member Organization of American States to lend his support to the Honduran presidential poll. What probably appeared as a routine trade-off in domestic politics on Capitol Hill was seen by the international community as a humiliating retreat by Obama when challenged by a group of Honduran generals. Other leaders undoubtedly took note.

A far more dramatic reversal awaited Obama when he locked horns with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Wily Netanyahu Trumps Na•ve Obama

On taking office, the Obama White House announced with much fanfare that it would take on the intractable Israeli-Palestinian dispute right away. On examining the 2003 "road map" to peace backed by the United Nations, the United States, Russia, and the European Union, it discovered Israel's promise to cease all settlement-building activity.

In his first meeting with Netanyahu in mid-May 2009, Obama demanded a halt to the expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem, already housing nearly 500,000 Jews. He argued that they were a major obstacle to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. Netanyahu balked -- and changed tack by stressing the existential threat that Iran's nuclear program posed to Israel.

Obama slipped into the Israeli leader's trap. At their joint press conference, he linked the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks with the Iranian nuclear threat. Then, to Netanyahu's delight, he gave Tehran "until the end of the year" to respond to his diplomatic overtures. In this way, the wily prime minister got the American president to accept his linkage of two unrelated issues while offering nothing in return.

Later, Netanyahu would differentiate between the ongoing expansion of present Jewish settlements and the creation of new ones, with no compromise on the former. He would also draw a clear distinction between the West Bank and East Jerusalem which, he would insist, was an integral part of the "indivisible, eternal capital of Israel," and therefore exempt from any restrictions on Jewish settlements.

Reflecting the Obama administration's style, Clinton offered a strong verbal riposte: "No exceptions to Israeli settlement freeze." These would prove empty words that changed nothing on the ground.

When Netanyahu publicly rejected Obama's demand for a halt to settlement construction in the West Bank, Obama raised the stakes, suggesting that Israeli intransigence endangered American security.

On October 15th, after much back-channel communication between the two governments, Netanyahu announced that he had terminated the settlements talks with Washington. Having said this, he offered to curb some settlement construction during a later meeting with Clinton. This won him the secretary of state's effusive praise for an "unprecedented" gesture, and a call for the unconditional resumption of the Palestinian-Israeli peace talks.

The Palestinians were flabbergasted by this American volte-face. "I believe that the U.S. condones continued settlement expansion," said stunned Palestinian government spokesman Ghassan Khatib. "Negotiations are about ending the occupation and settlement expansion is about entrenching the occupation."

In December, Netanyahu agreed to a 10-month moratorium on settlement building, but only after his government had given permission for the construction of 3,000 new apartments in the occupied West Bank. Sticking to their original position, the Palestinians refused to revive peace talks until there was a total freeze on settlement activity.

On March 9, 2010, just as Vice-President Joe Biden arrived in Jerusalem as part of Washington's campaign to kick-start the peace process, the Israeli authorities announced the approval of yet more building -- 1,600 new homes in East Jerusalem. This audacious move, meant to underline Israel's defiance of Washington, left Biden -- as well as Obama -- fuming.

With the House of Representatives adopting his health reform bill on March 24th, Obama was on a domestic roll when he met Netanyahu in Washington the next day. He reportedly laid out three conditions for defusing the crisis: an extension of the freeze on Jewish settlement expansion beyond September 2010; an end to further Jewish settlement projects in East Jerusalem; and withdrawal of the Israeli forces to the positions held before the Second Intifada in September 2000. He then left Netanyahu at the White House to consult with his advisers and get back to him if "there is anything new." Again, however, as with the Honduran generals Obama's tough talk remained just that: talk.

The purpose of all this activity was to get the Palestinians to resume peace negotiations with Israel, which they had broken off when that country attacked the Gaza Strip in December 2008. Netanyahu was prepared to talk as long as no preconditions were set by the Palestinians.

In the end, he got what he wanted. He met neither Palestinian preconditions nor those of the Obama administration. Simply put, it was Obama who bent to Netanyahu's will. The tail wagged the dog.

The hapless officials of the Palestinian Authority read the writing on the wall. After some ritual huffing and puffing, they agreed to participate in "proximity talks" with the Netanyahu government in which Washington's Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, would shuttle back and forth between the two sides. These started on May 9th. Over the next four months, Mitchell's tough task will be to try to narrow the yawning differences on the terms of Palestinian statehood -- when both sides now know that Obama will shy away from pressuring Israel where it hurts.

Spat With China, Then a Sudden Thaw

Obama's problems with the People's Republic of China (PRC) began in November 2009 when, to his disappointment, the Chinese government failed to accord him the royal treatment he had expected on his first visit to the country.

Washington-Beijing relations cooled further when the Obama administration greenlighted the sale of $6.4 billion worth of advanced weaponry to Taiwan, including anti-missile missiles, and Obama met the Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader, at the White House. The PRC regards Taiwan as a breakaway province and Tibet as an integral part of the republic.

Senior U.S. officials described the moves as part of Obama's concerted drive to "push back" at China which, in his view, was punching above its weight. Along with these moves went unrelenting pressure on Beijing, in private and in public, to revalue its currency, the yuan. The administration repeatedly highlighted a legal provision requiring the Treasury Department to report twice a year on any country that has been manipulating the rate of exchange between its currency and the American dollar to gain unfair advantage in international trade. That the next due date for such a report -- a preamble to possible sanctions -- was April 15th was repeated by U.S. officials ad nauseam.

In mid-April, Obama was convening an international summit on nuclear security in Washington. He was eager to have as many heads of state as possible attend. At the very least, he wanted the leaders of the four nuclear powers with U.N. Security Council vetoes -- Britain, France, Russia, and China -- present.

That provided Chinese President Hu Jintao with a powerful card to play at a moment when a White House threat to name his country as a currency manipulator hung over his head. He refused to attend the Washington nuclear summit. Obama blinked. He postponed the Treasury Department's judgment day. In return, Hu came and met Obama at the White House.

That tensions existed between Beijing and Washington did not surprise China's leaders, a collective of hard-nosed realists. Their attitude was reflected in an editorial in the official newspaper, the China Daily, soon after Obama's inauguration. "U.S. leaders have never been shy about talking about their country's ambition," it said. "For them, it is divinely granted destiny no matter what other nations think." The editorial went on to predict that "Obama's defense of U.S. interests will inevitably clash with those of other nations." And so they have, repeatedly.

Such realism contrasted starkly with the mood prevalent at the White House where it was naively believed that a few well scripted speeches in foreign capitals by the eloquent new president would restore U.S. prestige left in tatters by George W. Bush's policies. What the president and his coterie seem not to have noticed, however, was an important Pew Research Center poll. It showed that, following Obama's public diplomacy campaign, while the image of the U.S. had indeed risen sharply in Europe, Mexico, and Brazil, any improvement was minor in India and China, marginal in the Arab Middle East, and nonexistent in Russia, Pakistan, and Turkey.

Stuck in its self-congratulatory mode, the Obama team paid scant attention to the full range of options that other powers had for retaliating to its pressure. For instance, it did not foresee Beijing threatening sanctions against major American companies supplying weapons to Taiwan, nor did it anticipate the stiff resistance the PRC would offer to revaluing the yuan.

Some attributed Beijing's behavior to a rising Chinese nationalism and the fears of its leaders that bending under pressure from "foreigners" would play poorly at home. But the real reasons for Chinese resistance had more to do with hard economics than popular sentiment. In the wake of the Great Recession of 2008-09, symbolized by the collapse of the gigantic Lehman Brothers investment bank, China's leaders noted tectonic changes occurring in the international economic balance of power -- at the expense of the hitherto "sole superpower."

While the U.S. and European economies contracted, Beijing quickly adopted policies aimed at boosting domestic demand and infrastructure investment. This resulted in impressive expansion: 9% growth in the gross domestic product in 2009 with a prediction of 12% in the current year. This led Goldman Sachs' analysts to advance their forecast of the year when China would become the globe's number one economy from 2050 to 2027.

For the first time since World War II, it was not the United States that pulled the rest of the world out of negative growth, but China. The U.S. has emerged from the financial carnage as the most heavily indebted nation on Earth, and China as its leading creditor with an unprecedented $2.4 trillion in foreign reserves.

Its cash-rich corporations are now buying companies and future natural resources from Australia to Peru, Canada to Afghanistan where, last year, the Congjiang Copper Group, a Chinese corporation, offered $3.4 billion -- $1 billion more than the highest bid by a Western metallurgy company -- to secure the right to mine copper from one of the richest deposits on the planet.

Karzai the Menace Becomes Karzai the Indispensable

On assuming the presidency, Obama made no secret of his dislike for his Afghan counterpart, Hamid Karzai. To circumvent his central government's pervasive corruption, senior American officials came up with the idea of dealing directly with Afghan provincial and district governors. In the presidential election of August 2009, their preference for Abdullah Abdullah, a serious rival to Karzai, was widely known.

When Karzai resorted to massive vote rigging to ensure his reelection and turned a deaf ear to Washington's exhortations to clean up his administration, Obama decided to use a stick to bring Washington's latest client regime in line. In a dramatic gesture, he undertook an air journey of 26 hours -- from Washington to Kabul -- over the last weekend in March to deliver a 26-minute lecture to Karzai on the corruption and administrative ineptitude of his government. The Afghan leader had few options but to listen in stony silence.

When, however, Karzai read a news story in which an unnamed senior American military official suggested that his younger half-brother, Ahmed Wali, the power broker in the southern province of Kandahar, deserved to be put on the Pentagon's current list of drug barons to be killed or captured, his patience snapped.

An incensed Afghan president responded by claiming that the U.S. was deliberately intensifying and widening the war in Afghanistan in order to stay in the region and dominate it. He added that, if Washington's pressure continued, he might join the Taliban. (He had, in fact, been a significant fundraiser for the Taliban after they captured Kabul in September 1996.) Obama reacted as he had done in the past. When facing a serious challenge, he retreated. From being a stick wielder he morphed into a carrier of carrots during a Karzai visit to Washington early this month (that, in March, administration officials were threatening to postpone indefinitely).

The high point of the wooing of Karzai -- worthy of being included in a modern version of Alice in Wonderland -- was a dinner Vice-President Joe Biden gave for the Afghan dignitary at his residence. At the very least Karzai must have been bemused. In February, Biden had staged a dramatic walk-out halfway through a dinner at the Afghan president's palace after Karzai denied that his government was corrupt or that, if it was, he was at fault.

Despite the Obama administration's "red carpet treatment" and "charm offensive," Karzai was boldly honest at a joint press conference with Obama when he described Iran as "our bother country, our friend."

The same sentiments would soon be expressed by another leader -- in Brazil.

President da Silva Thumbs His Nose at Obama

Ever since assuming the presidency of Brazil in 2003, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has, when necessary, not hesitated to challenge U.S. policy moves. He has clashed with Washington on world trade (the Doha round), global warming, and continuing U.S. sanctions against Cuba.

In December 2008, he chaired a meeting of 31 Latin American and Caribbean countries, which excluded the United States, at the Brazilian tourist resort of Sauipe. The next month, instead of going to the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, da Silva attended the Eighth World Social Forum at Belem at the mouth of the Amazon River.

He was critical of the way Obama compromised democracy in Honduras, and, despite the Obama administration's dismay and opposition, he invited Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Brasilia in November 2009 for talks on the Iranian nuclear program, his first attempt at high-profile international diplomacy. (A week earlier he had warmly received Israeli president Shimon Peres in the Brazilian capital.) Six months later, he paid a return visit to Tehran -- and made history, much to the chagrin of Washington.

Acting in tandem with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, da Silva revived a putative October 2009 nuclear agreement and brokered an unexpected deal with Ahmadinejad. Iran agreed to ship 1,200 kilograms of its low-enriched uranium to Turkey; in return, Russia and France would provide 120 kilograms of 20% enriched uranium for a medical research reactor in Tehran.

Taken by surprise and rattled by the success of Brazil and Turkey in the face of American disapproval, the Obama administration reverted to the stance of the Bush White House and demanded that Iran suspend its program to enrich nuclear fuel. It then moved to push an agreement on further U.N. sanctions against Iran, as if the Brazilians and Turks had accomplished nothing.

This refusal to register reality was myopic at best. The blinkered view of the present White House ignores salient global facts. The influence of mid-level powers on the world stage is on the rise. Their leaders feel -- rightly -- that they can ignore or bypass the Obama administration's demands. And, on the positive side, they can come together on certain international issues and take diplomatic initiatives of their own with a fair chance of success.

By now, from Afghanistan to Honduras, Brazil to China, global leaders large and small increasingly sense that the Obama administration's bark is worse than its bite, and though the U.S. remains a major power, it is no longer the determinative one. The waning of the truncated American Century is by now irreversible.
(c) 2010 Dilip Hiro is a playwright, political writer, journalist, historian[1] and analyst specializing in India and the Islamic world, ranging from Iraq and Lebanon to the Central Asian republics. Hiro is the author of 30 titles, including his most recent book "Blood of the Earth: The Global Battle for Vanishing Oil Resources."

Texas Educators Want To Brainwash Our Children
By James Donahue

The Texas Board of Education has approved revisions in public school textbooks that appear designed to add even more distortion to the history of the United States that already exists. And among the very worst ideas is that the nation was founded on Christian principles. Any true historian knows that is an extreme distortion of the facts.

Children reading from these new books, which could be distributed all over the country, will be taught that the concept of "separation of church and state" is not in the Constitution.

While the exact words and that phrase are not to be found in the Constitution, the men who wrote this magnificent document, and the First Amendment attached to it, clearly believed that the church has no business getting involved in the government of the people. They believed in freedom of religion, but they also believed that religion and politics needed to be two separate things if this new nation was to survive.

They were the descendants of people who fled to America to escape the tyranny of living under monarchies controlled and influenced by the church. In fact many of the men who wrote and framed the Constitution were deists.

Thomas Paine, for example, tears Christianity into shreds in his book, The Age of Reason. In it, he points to all of the evils committed in the name of religion and argued that religious morality was flawed and sometimes incoherent.

Thomas Jefferson also might have been classified as a deist. While he believed in a Creator, and approved the moral philosophy taught by Jesus in the Bible, Jefferson rejected the Biblical superstition and mysticism found in the church. He published his own version of the scriptures, known as The Jefferson Bible, in which he removed all of the miracles and mysticism in the Jesus story.

Benjamin Franklin wrote that while he supported the morals of the Christian religion he said "I have, with most of the present dissenters in England, some doubts as to his (Jesus') divinity."

While many of the men that wrote and framed the Constitution questioned Christianity, they were seriously concerned about protecting the rights of colonists to be free to worship whatever religion they chose without interference from other religious groups and government. This was why the right to freedom of religion is included along with other fundamental rights that include freedom of speech and freedom of the press in the First Amendment.

That Amendment reads: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." The prohibition of government from legally "respecting" or forcing the establishment of any religion on the nation's people is carefully worded. It does not include the phrase "Separation of Church and State," it doesn't say "Freedom of religion" either. Yet that is so embedded in our democratic system that no court in the land has ever ruled otherwise.

Jefferson's own interpretation of the First Amendment, in an 1802 letter to the Committee of the Danbury Baptist Association, called it a "wall of separation between church and state."

James Madison, our Fourth President and the "Father of the Constitution," wrote once that "Strongly guarded . . . is the separation between religion and government in the Constitution of the United States."

Madison also wrote: "Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise. During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been the fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution."

John Adams, who succeeded Washington to become the second U.S. President, once wrote: "This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!"

It was said George Washington attended church, as most American presidents feel compelled to do, but he never declared himself a Christian in any of his writings. He always championed the cause of freedom from religious intolerance and compulsion.

Ethan Allen, who once stopped the minister in the midst of his own wedding because he objected to a reference to "God," wrote that he believed the "that Jesus Christ was not God is evidence from his own words." Allen also wrote that he was generally "denominated a Deist, the reality of which I never disputed, having conscious that I am no Christian."

This is but one of the inaccuracies slipped into the American historical record as the right-wing Texas Republicans would have our children believe. If Texas boards of education choose to poison the minds of their children with misinformation there is little we can do about that. But we highly recommend that the educators elsewhere in the nation choose another source for their school text books.

It would be best for our children to learn from old, frayed and worn books than accept books filled with snakes.
(c) 2010 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles. He currently produces daily articles for this web site.

Obama Must Join Global Condemnation Of Israeli Flotilla Assault
By Medea Benjamin

Just one day after Israeli commandos stormed civilian boats that were bringing humanitarian aid to Gaza, leaving nine dead, a group of Nobel Peace prize winners put out a statement condemning the attack. South African president Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, whose lives have been indelibly shaped by a cruel apartheid system, were joined by other Nobel laureates, including former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari, former US president Jimmy Carter and detained Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi. They called Israel's three-year blockade of Gaza illegal under international law and "one of the world's greatest human rights violations."

Conspicuously absent from the Nobel Peace prize signees was President Barack Obama. Instead of expressing outrage at an attack on civilian ships in international waters, Obama issued a tepid statement saying he "deeply regrets the loss of life and injuries sustained."

All over the world, government representatives are condemning the Israeli government's action. Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa labeled the assault a "terrorist act." French President Nicolas Sarkozy condemned the disproportionate use of force and addressed his condolences to the families of the victims. European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton called the blockade of Gaza "unacceptable and politically counterproductive." Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas said, "There is no excuse. The level of violence cannot be excused." But at the United Nations, Deputy Permanent U.S. Representative Alejandro Wolff seemed to be doing just that: making excuses for Israel's actions. His statement read as if the problem was not the Israeli government and its inhumane siege of Gaza, but the humanitarian effort of the Free Gaza Flotilla. "Direct delivery [of aid] by sea is neither appropriate nor responsible, and certainly not effective," he said, while railing against Gaza's governing Hamas and referring to Israel's security concerns.

On no other foreign policy issue is this administration so out of touch with the majority sentiment worldwide. When President Obama visited Cairo just a year ago, he promised a new era in U.S. relations with the Muslim world where there would be a sustained effort to "listen to each other; to learn from each other; to respect one another; and to seek common ground." The voice of the Muslim world--indeed the entire world--is speaking right now. You can hear that voice at demonstrations from Ankara to Beirut, from Rome to Sydney, from New York to San Francisco.

People the world over are calling for an end to the siege that since 2006 has made life miserable for the 1.5 million inhabitants of Gaza, most of whom are under 18. They are calling for accountability for Operation Cast Lead, Israel's 22-day military assault of Gaza in 2009 that left over 1,400 dead, thousands wounded and countless homes, schools and businesses destroyed. They are calling on Israel to open the borders so that people can get medical treatment or import the building materials they need to rebuild their shattered lives.

This is why efforts like the Freedom Flotilla are so critical. They not only bring aid, but they show that the world has not abandoned the Palestinians in Gaza. UN Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Richard_Falk, noting the world governments' failure to help the people of Gaza, cited non-violent grassroots campaigns such as the flotilla as "the only meaningful current challenge to Israel's violations of its obligations as the Occupying Power of the Gaza Strip under the Geneva Conventions and the United Nations Charter."

The killing of humanitarian aid activists must mark a turning point in U.S.-Israeli relations. President Obama must join other Nobel Prize winners and world leaders in condemning Israel's abuses. Verbal condemnation must be accompanied by action: an immediate cut off of aid to Israel. Currently, Congress is in the process of appropriating a record $3.2 billion in military aid to Israel. This aid must be frozen while the investigations of this crime move forward.

President Obama is a constitutional lawyer. He must understand that the blockade of Gaza is illegal under international law. So is attacking civilian boats in international waters. The Israeli government must be held accountable for its actions. Global leaders, including its most revered members such as Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi, have come out on the side of justice and law. So must President Obama.

Please sign this petition calling on Obama to condemn Israel's assault. Petition.
(c) 2010 Medea Benjamin is cofounder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK, which has organized seven humanitarian delegations to Gaza.

Oil spill residue, Chenega, Alaska

Smart Pig
BP's OTHER Spill this Week
By Greg Palast

With the Gulf Coast dying of oil poisoning, there's no space in the press for British Petroleum's latest spill, just this week: over 100,000 gallons, at its Alaska pipeline operation. A hundred thousand used to be a lot. Still is.

On Tuesday, Pump Station 9, at Delta Junction on the 800-mile pipeline, busted. Thousands of barrels began spewing an explosive cocktail of hydrocarbons after "procedures weren't properly implemented" by BP operators, say state inspectors "Procedures weren't properly implemented" is, it seems, BP's company motto.

Few Americans know that BP owns the controlling stake in the trans-Alaska pipeline; but, unlike with the Deepwater Horizon, BP keeps its Limey name off the Big Pipe.

There's another reason to keep their name off the Pipe: their management of the pipe stinks. It's corroded, it's undermanned and "basic maintenance" is a term BP never heard of.

How does BP get away with it? The same way the Godfather got away with it: bad things happen to folks who blow the whistle. BP has a habit of hunting down and destroying the careers of those who warn of pipeline problems.

In one case, BP's CEO of Alaskan operations hired a former CIA expert to break into the home of a whistleblower, Chuck Hamel, who had complained of conditions at the pipe's tanker facility. BP tapped his phone calls with a US congressman and ran a surveillance and smear campaign against him. When caught, a US federal judge said BP's acts were "reminiscent of Nazi Germany."

This was not an isolated case. Captain James Woodle, once in charge of the pipe's Valdez terminus, was blackmailed into resigning the post when he complained of disastrous conditions there. The weapon used on Woodle was a file of faked evidence of marital infidelity. Nice guys, eh?

Dan Lawn, Alaska state pipeline inspector who challenged BP.

Two decades ago, I had the unhappy job of leading an investigation of British Petroleum's management of the Alaska pipeline system. I was working for the Chugach villages, the Alaskan Natives who own the shoreline slimed by the 1989 Exxon Valdez tanker grounding.

Even then, a courageous, steel-eyed government inspector, Dan Lawn, was hollering about corrosion all through the BP pipeline. I say "courageous" because Lawn kept his job only because his union's lawyers have kept BP from having his head.

It wasn't until 2006, 17 years later, that BP claimed to have suddenly discovered corrosion necessitating an emergency shut-down of the line.

It was pretty darn hard for BP to claim surprise in August 2006 that corrosion required shutting the pipeline. Five months earlier, Inspector Lawn had written his umpteenth warning when he identified corrosion as the cause of a big leak .

BP should have known about the problem years before that ... if only because they had taped Dan Lawn's home phone calls.

BP: Red, White and Bush

I don't want readers to think BP is a foreign marauder unconcerned about America.

The company is deeply involved in our democracy. Bob Malone, until last year the Chairman of BP America, was also Alaska State Co-Chairman of the Bush re-election campaign. Mr. Bush, in turn, was so impressed with BP's care of Alaska's environment that he pushed again to open the state's arctic wildlife refuge (ANWR) to drilling by the BP consortium.

You can go to Alaska today and see for yourself the evidence of BP's care of the wilderness. You can smell it: the crude oil is still on the beaches from the Exxon Valdez spill.

Exxon took all the blame for the spill because they were dumb enough to have the company's name on the ship. But it was BP's pipeline managers who filed reports that oil spill containment equipment was sitting right at the site of the grounding near Bligh Island. However, the reports were bogus, the equipment wasn't there and so the beaches were poisoned. At the time, our investigators uncovered four-volumes worth of faked safety reports and concluded that BP was at least as culpable as Exxon for the 1,200 miles of oil-destroyed coastline.

Nevertheless, we know BP cares about nature because they have lots of photos of solar panels in their annual reports - and they've painted every one of their gas stations green.

The green paint-job is supposed to represent the oil giant's love of Mother Nature. But CEO Tony Hayward knows it stands for the color of the Yankee dollar.

In 2006, BP finally discovered the dangerous corrosion in the pipeline after running a "smart pig" through it. The "pig" is an electronic drone that BP should have been using continuously, though they had not done so for 14 years. Another "procedure not properly implemented."

By not properly inspecting the pipeline for over a decade, BP failed to prevent that March 2006 spill which polluted Prudhoe Bay. And cheaping out on remote controls for their oil well blow-out preventers appears to have cost the lives of 11 men on the Deepwater Horizon.

But then, failure to implement proper safety procedures has saved BP, not millions but billions of dollars, suggests that the company's pig is indeed, very, very smart.
(c) 2010 Greg Palast is author of the New York Times bestseller, "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy." His investigations for BBC TV and Democracy Now! can be seen by subscribing to Palast's reports at. Greg Palast investigated the Exxon Valdez disaster for the Chucagh Native villages of Alaska's Prince William Sound.

An Exciting New Threat
By Case Wagenvoord

Happy News! We have a new threat to our wellbeing, something else to flame our anxiety and keep it at a simmer so we can await with baited breath the next words of wisdom that tinkle down from the "experts" who would sanitize and scrub clean our existences until nothing is left of us except compliant and obedient shells whose surfaces are brightly polished.

According to a front-page story in Saturday's Times, this new threat is the very substance that kept our ancestors alive: salt. In the forefront of this new War against Something is none other than New York City Mayor Mike "The-People-Don't-Know-What's-Good-For-Them-But-I-Do" Bloomberg who wants to do what any politician wants to do when faced with an imaginary threat, and that is legislate.

Experts tell us that if we could cut down on our salt intake, we could "save" 150,000 American lives annually (That comes to .0005 of the population if I counted the zeroes correctly).

Now, the idea of saving lives by banning this or that substance raises a question. The simple fact of the matter is that the leading cause of death is birth. It's true for all of us. So cutting down on salt doesn't save anything. It simply puts off the inevitable. Granted this delay has its merits, but looking at it in this way robs the issue of its urgency. If I pull a drowning man from a river I've saved a life. If by taking away his salt and adding a couple of years to his life saves nothing.

But what the hell, a politician isn't a politician unless he has a threat to hype, and for a politician a threat doesn't have to be real as long as it plays well in Astoria.
(c) 2010 Case Wagenvoord. Some years ago, Case Wagenvoord turned off the tube and picked up a book. He's been trouble ever since. His articles have been posted at The Smirking Chimp, Countercurrents and Issues & Alibis. When he's not writing or brooding, he is carving hardwood bowls that have been displayed in galleries and shows across the country. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and two cats. His book, Open Letters to George W. Bush is available at

America; Unstable, Unreliable, Unacceptable
By Mike Folkerth

For any who won't recognize the name, Steve Wynn, is a Las Vegas casino developer of global notoriety. Wynn has become openly hostile toward Washington DC, which pretty well aligns him with 75% of all Americans.

It was a single statement that Wynn made, however, that gave me pause to stop and consider the power of a lone utterance. Wynn was speaking to the instability in Washington when he stated, "Washington is not [stable], is there a businessman or a media person in America who is not frightened about the next crazy idea that comes from Washington? The financial institutions, the cars, the businessman, the taxes, the healthcare! Everything is cuckoo and God knows what's next."

What Mr. Wynn was referring to was the obvious fact that we have no plan; none at all. Everything changes from day to day with one nutty move after another. There is no stability. There is nothing that can be counted on long term. Such a condition breeds great fear and fearful people become unstable. In other words, instability breeds instability.

Have you ever worked for an employer that was going through restructuring, downsizing, or financial difficulties? A workplace where you had no idea whether you would be employed tomorrow? Where the company leadership had no explicit plans other than to assure you that some indefinite change was coming? If so, what was the work climate and employee morale like at that point?

The company that I just described is a giant; it's commonly referred to as the United States of America.

Instability is described as:

1. Lack of physical stability; unsteadiness.

2. The quality or condition of being erratic or undependable: emotional instability; political instability.

I agree with Steve Wynn, we have no idea of what crazy scheme may come from Washington tomorrow. Will it be Bill Clinton's plan of increasing immigration and raising taxes? Will it be a near police state to control the growing animosity? Will unemployment benefits be extended for ten years while government studies the fate of 20 Million unemployed or underemployed Americans? What is the plan?

Will we go to war with Iran and North Korea? Will our jobs be outsourced tomorrow? Will Social Security and Medicare fail; leaving millions upon millions destitute? Will we lose our homes and our retirements? Do our children have any future at all in their own home towns? How can a healthy society expect to function under this uncertainty? What is the plan?

Of course, there is a plan. That plan is crises management without benefit of long term forecasting; plain and simple. That being said, the actual basis for our instability is the important piece of information that Mr. Wynn failed to mention. That reason will never change; it is permanently embedded in our sole economic underpinning of exponential growth. America has after all, foolishly pursued the impossibly of geometric growth at all costs.

One of those costs has unfortunately arrived and has manifested itself as great uncertainty and instability. This period of uncertainty and instability will intensify over time and will eventually give way to the wholesale collapse of our ill conceived economic whirlwind of endless growth.

Could we return to a semblance of order and stability in America? Can we embark on a base economic path that is sustainable? The answer to both questions is yes. WILL we make these changes, is the more important question.

In my opinion, the answer to the last question is, some of us will and we will do so in total defiance to conventional practices and government leadership.
(c) 2010 Mike Folkerth is not your run-of-the-mill author of economics. Nor does he write in boring lecture style. Not even close. The former real estate broker, developer, private real estate fund manager, auctioneer, Alaskan bush pilot, restaurateur, U.S. Navy veteran, heavy equipment operator, taxi cab driver, fishing guide, horse packer...(I won't go on, it's embarrassing) writes from experience and plain common sense. He is the author of "The Biggest Lie Ever Believed."

The Quotable Quote...

"If the people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny."
~~~ President Thomas Jefferson ~~~

This Country Needs A Few Good Communists
By Chris Hedges

The witch hunts against communists in the United States were used to silence socialists, anarchists, pacifists and all those who defied the abuses of capitalism. Those "anti-Red" actions were devastating blows to the political health of the country. The communists spoke the language of class war. They understood that Wall Street, along with corporations such as British Petroleum, is the enemy. They offered a broad social vision which allowed even the non-communist left to employ a vocabulary that made sense of the destructive impulses of capitalism. But once the Communist Party, along with other radical movements, was eradicated as a social and political force, once the liberal class took government-imposed loyalty oaths and collaborated in the witch hunts for phantom communist agents, we were robbed of the ability to make sense of our struggle. We became fearful, timid and ineffectual. We lost our voice and became part of the corporate structure we should have been dismantling.

Hope in this age of bankrupt capitalism will come with the return of the language of class conflict. It does not mean we have to agree with Karl Marx, who advocated violence and whose worship of the state as a utopian mechanism led to another form of enslavement of the working class, but we have to speak in the vocabulary Marx employed. We have to grasp, as Marx did, that corporations are not concerned with the common good. They exploit, pollute, impoverish, repress, kill and lie to make money. They throw poor families out of homes, let the uninsured die, wage useless wars to make profits, poison and pollute the ecosystem, slash social assistance programs, gut public education, trash the global economy, loot the U.S. Treasury and crush all popular movements that seek justice for working men and women. They worship only money and power. And, as Marx knew, unfettered capitalism is a revolutionary force that consumes greater and greater numbers of human lives until it finally consumes itself. The nightmare in the Gulf of Mexico is the perfect metaphor for the corporate state. It is the same nightmare seen in postindustrial pockets from the old mill towns in New England to the abandoned steel mills in Ohio. It is a nightmare that Iraqis, Pakistanis and Afghans, mourning their dead, live each day.

Capitalism was once viewed in America as a system that had to be fought. But capitalism is no longer challenged. And so, even as Wall Street steals billions of taxpayer dollars and the Gulf of Mexico is turned into a toxic swamp, we do not know what to do or say. We decry the excesses of capitalism without demanding a dismantling of the corporate state. The liberal class has a misguided loyalty, illustrated by environmental groups that have refused to excoriate the Obama White House over the ecological catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico. Liberals bow before a Democratic Party that ignores them and does the bidding of corporations. The reflexive deference to the Democrats by the liberal class is the result of cowardice and fear. It is also the result of an infantile understanding of the mechanisms of power. The divide is not between Republican and Democrat. It is a divide between the corporate state and the citizen. It is a divide between capitalists and workers. And, for all the failings of the communists, they got it.

Unions, organizations formerly steeped in the doctrine of class warfare and filled with those who sought broad social and political rights for the working class, have been transformed into domesticated partners of the capitalist class. They have been reduced to simple bartering tools. The social demands of unions early in the 20th century that gave the working class weekends off, the right to strike, the eight-hour day and Social Security have been abandoned. Universities, especially in political science and economics departments, parrot the discredited ideology of unregulated capitalism and have no new ideas. Artistic expression, along with most religious worship, is largely self-absorbed narcissism. The Democratic Party and the press have become corporate servants. The loss of radicals within the labor movement, the Democratic Party, the arts, the church and the universities has obliterated one of the most important counterweights to the corporate state. And the purging of those radicals has left us unable to make sense of what is happening to us.

The fear of communism, like the fear of Islamic terrorism, has resulted in the steady suspension of civil liberties, including freedom of speech, habeas corpus and the right to organize, values the liberal class claims to support. It was the orchestration of fear that permitted the capitalist class to ram through the Taft-Hartley Act in 1948 in the name of anti-communism, the most destructive legislative blow to the working class until the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). It was fear that created the Patriot Act, extraordinary rendition, offshore penal colonies where we torture and the endless wars in the Middle East. And it was fear that was used to see us fleeced by Wall Street. If we do not stop being afraid and name our enemy we will continue toward a state of neofeudalism.

The robber barons of the late 19th century used goons and thugs to beat up workers and retain control. The corporations, employing the science of public relations, have used actors, artists, writers, scholars and filmmakers to manipulate and shape public opinion. Corporations employ the college-educated, liberal elite to saturate the culture with lies. The liberal class should have defied the emasculation of radical organizations, including the Communist Party. Instead, it was lured into the corporate embrace. It became a class of collaborators. National cohesion, because our intellectual life has become so impoverished, revolves around the empty pursuits of mass culture, brands, consumption, status and the bland uniformity of opinions disseminated by corporate-friendly courtiers. We speak and think in the empty slogans and clichŽs we are given. And they are given to us by the liberal class.

The "idea of the intellectual vocation," as Irving Howe"The Age of Conformity," "the idea of a life dedicated to values that cannot possibly be realized by a commercial civilization-has gradually lost its allure. And, it is this, rather than the abandonment of a particular program, which constitutes our rout." The belief that capitalism is the unassailable engine of human progress, Howe added, "is trumpeted through every medium of communication: official propaganda, institutional advertising and scholarly writings of people who, until a few years ago, were its major opponents."

The truly powerless people are those intellectuals-the new realists-who attach themselves to the seats of power, where they surrender their freedom of expression without gaining any significance as political figures, Howe wrote. For it is crucial to the history of the American intellectuals in the past few decades-as well as to the relationship between 'wealth' and 'intellect'-that whenever they become absorbed into the accredited institutions of society they not only lose their traditional rebelliousness but to one extent or another they cease to function as intellectuals. The institutional world needs intellectuals because they are intellectuals but it does not want them as intellectuals. It beckons to them because of what they are but it will not allow them, at least within its sphere of articulation, either to remain or entirely cease being what they are. It needs them for their knowledge, their talent, their inclinations and passions; it insists that they retain a measure of these endowments, which it means to employ for its own ends, and without which the intellectuals would be of no use to it whatever. A simplified but useful equation suggests itself: the relation of the institutional world to the intellectuals is as the relation of middlebrow culture to serious culture, the one battens on the other, absorbs and raids it with increasing frequency and skill, subsidizes and encourages it enough to make further raids possible-at times the parasite will support its victim. Surely this relationship must be one reason for the high incidence of neurosis that is supposed to prevail among intellectuals. A total estrangement from the sources of power and prestige, even a blind unreasoning rejection of every aspect of our culture, would be far healthier if only because it would permit a free discharge of aggression.

The liberal class prefers comfort to confrontation. It will not challenge the decaying structures of the corporate state. It is intolerant within its ranks of those who do. It clings pathetically to the carcass of the Obama presidency. It has been exposed as a dead force in American politics. We must find our way back to the old radicals, to the discredited Marxists, socialists and anarchists, including Dwight Macdonald and Dorothy Day. Language is our first step toward salvation. We cannot fight what we cannot describe.
(c) 2010 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. He is the author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. His latest book is, "Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle."

I Can't Wait For Barack Obama To Become President
By David Michael Green

Watching the latest tragedy unfold in the Gulf this last month, all I can say is: I can't wait for Barack Obama to become president.

This Bush guy is such a disaster, literally and figuratively. It just seems that the destruction of America he presides over is all but endless. As if one Gulf Coast disaster left to rot in the sun wasn't enough for this president, now comes a second. What did those folks in New Orleans ever do to him? Heck, what did Americans ever do to him?

I just can't wait any longer for the new administration to take office. They are absolutely guaranteed to handle things so much differently than the Cheney Bots in the White House who seem intent on wrecking the whole world, with their charity beginning at home.

Look at this oil spill disaster, for example.

To start with, Barack Obama would never pick a guy like Ken Salazar for the crucial environmental position of Secretary of the Interior. Of course Bush would, though. Salazar has been deeply tied to mining and ranching industries his entire career - just the kind of corporate hack Cheney would insist on for the position. In fact, Salazar was even a big supporter of his predecessor, the corrupt industry shill, Gale Norton. After all the work environmentalists put into getting Obama elected, there's no way he'd choose someone like Salazar for this position, a guy so lame that mining association lobbyists welcomed the appointment when Bush made it. What does that tell you? Of course, Salazar has turned out - just as you'd expect - to be the "Heckuva Job, Kenny" of the oil spill. This will never happen once Obama gets in and puts a real environmentalist atop the Interior Department.

Nor would Obama ever adopt the "Drill, baby, drill" mentality that Bush did earlier this year, when he opened up vast expanses of the Atlantic coastline, the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the north coast of Alaska to oil and natural gas drilling - much of it for the first time, ending a longstanding moratorium on oil exploration along 167 million acres off the East Coast, from Delaware all the way down to Florida. This travesty by the Bush administration - which delighted oil companies and right-wing drilling advocates but angered environmentalists and appalled residents of those states - would never happen under an Obama administration. Unlike Bush, not only will Obama cease the expansion of drilling in these sensitive areas, he'll surely cut it back. And not a moment to soon! Who knows where the next destructive spill will be.

We also wouldn't be in this mess if federal regulators were doing their job, instead of being emasculated by regressive Bush administration deregulatory policies that turn industry loose to do whatever it wants. Regulators knew that backup systems were required to control the blowout preventers that failed in the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe, and they even told rig operators that in 2009. But they never did anything about, relying instead on promises from the offshore drilling corporations that they were on top of it. Wait 'til Obama gets into office, man! He'll clean up that nonsense in a hurry. Regulators will actually regulate, and regulatees be whipped into shape, and forced to comply with the government-enforced public interest, just like they should be.

I'll tell ya another thing. When Obama is president, you won't see reckless companies like BP getting permission from the industry whores in the Minerals Management Service to drill wells without obtaining the permits that they are required by law to first receive from other government agencies. This is exactly what happened with Deepwater Horizon. And since January 2009 alone, permission to go forward for at least three huge lease sales, 103 seismic blasting projects and 346 drilling plans has been granted by MMS without getting the environmental protection permits required from other federal agencies, like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), to protect endangered species, among other things. MMS staff scientists are also regularly pressured and overruled by management whenever they raise concerns about the environmental impacts of drilling projects. No way will these sort of destructive sell-outs ever happen once Barack Obama is in the White House.

It's bad enough that the United States government under George W. Bush has been so culpable in so many ways for the wreckage that has come from the BP spill in the Gulf, but even worse is how they are helping BP to lie about its magnitude. First the administration said that the spill was pumping 1000 barrels of oil a day into the Gulf. Then they increased that number to 5000 barrels. What we have now learned is that the real figure must be several times larger than that. Worse, we know that the administration is allowing BP to use a measuring technique specifically not recommended for this sort of spill, and has actually turned away a private team of scientists who were standing by ready to deploy the proper measurement equipment. Ian MacDonald, a Florida State University oceanographer who is expert in measuring oil flows, believes the amount must "easily be four or five times" what the administration is saying. Indeed, he and others have analyzed video imagery and estimated that the breach is spilling on the order of 70,000 barrels of oil every day. He notes that, "The government has a responsibility to get good numbers. If it's beyond their technical capability, the whole world is ready to help them."

But, of course, the Bush people absolutely don't want help to accurately measure the disaster their corporate patrons have created. In fact, because of their ties to industry, they want to make sure it isn't properly measured. The situation is actually worse that, however. MacDonald and others believe that BP is actively trying to "hide the body" in this crime, and that the administration is assisting them in doing that by not collecting sufficient deep water samples to map out the damage, and by torpedoing those few gathered by scientists on their own. Over a month after the spill began there are still no deep water test results released by the government and no pressure from the administration for BP to collect this data. Worse, when independent oceanographers collected one sample that confirmed their theory about deep water spills creating huge underwater plumes of oil in the ocean, NOAA immediately criticized the results of the study, even though they had previously pointed to their partial funding of the effort as an example of the government's attempts to stay on top of measuring the impact of the spill.

Just as they did with the whole Iraq WMD scare, the congenital liars in the Bush administration can't seem to help themselves. They love the corporate class so much - even foreign corporations - that they are willing to put big money interests ahead of the American public who is their real constituency, and help protect those corporations with official lies. Won't it be great when Obama gets in and puts the hammer down on this sort of disgusting treason in the White House?

Another sickening aspect of this tragedy is the cover-up which is already underway. As they did with 9/11 and Iraq, the Bush administration has again appointed a Potemkin Panel to investigate this crisis. But, guess what? Its six-member Board of Inquiry is made up of half Coast Guard staffers and half MMS clowns. It obviously is going to be completely unable - by design - to tell the truth about what has happened here, especially where the key government agencies nominally in charge are concerned. This is a total white-wash. You can bet that a guy like Obama would never countenance such behavior if he were president today.

Bush is also playing deceitful games with policy on this issue, trying make the public think that he's environmentally friendly, even while he is taking excellent care of his buddies in the oil industry. After the blow-out, the president announced a moratorium on permits for drilling new offshore wells, and promised to stop giving environmental waivers for offshore drilling projects. But guess what? While we weren't looking this last month, the administration issued seven new permits and handed out five environmental waivers for just the sort of projects like Deepwater Horizon that were supposed to be banned now because of their potential to replicate the current destruction we're witnessing. In fact, many of these projects involve wells nearly twice as deep in the ocean the one currently spewing oil, and are therefore even more potentially dangerous.

The president himself said, "It seems as if permits were too often issued based on little more than assurances of safety from the oil companies. That cannot and will not happen anymore." But it has. Seven times. The president also said, "We're also closing the loophole that has allowed some oil companies to bypass some critical environmental reviews." But he hasn't. Five times. Bush's Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar, explicitly testified that "there is no deep-water well in the OCS [outer continental shelf] that has been spudded - that means started - after April 20." But, in fact, Newfield Exploration Company confirmed that it was issued a permit on May 11 to drill, and has been doing so. And they're not alone.

Meanwhile, back in the Gulf, the Bush administration seems completely intent on letting its oil industry buddies do whatever they want, no matter the damage. There are substantial concerns about the health and environmental impact of Corexit (just the name freaks me out), the oil dispersant being used in world-record amounts (over 700,000 gallons so far) to deal with the spill. According to Representative Edward Markey, Chairman of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, "We know almost nothing about the potential harm from the long-term use of any of these chemicals on the marine environment in the Gulf of Mexico, and even less about their potential to enter the food chain and ultimately harm humans." Great!

So the Bush administration pretended to order BP to scale back the use of Corexit, and pretended to give them a deadline by which to do so. But BP just told the government where they could stick their deadline, and kept on deploying the toxic chemicals. I doubt they'd dare to try that if a real environmentalist who put the interests of the public ahead of oil company profits - someone like Barack Obama - was in the Oval Office. You can bet the house on that.

The Bush Leaguers have also played silly games with public relations, like wimpy babies trying to act tough, just as they did when the Vietnam-evader himself put on a flight suit and landed on the USS Abraham Lincoln to declare "Mission accomplished" in Iraq, before the real war even started. Now they talk about how they're gonna "keep the boot on the neck" of BP to clean up the spill. Tough words, man. According to the New York Times, though, "Oil industry experts said they did not take seriously the sporadic threats by the administration that the federal government might have to wrest management of the effort to plug the well from BP. The experts said that the Interior and Energy Departments do not have engineers with more experience in deepwater drilling than those who work for BP and the array of companies that have been brought into the effort to stem the leak. 'It's worse than politics,' said Larry Goldstein, a director of the Energy Policy Research Foundation, which is partly financed by the oil industry. 'They have had the authority from Day 1. If they could have handled this situation better, they would have already.'"

Speaking of rank public relations maneuvers, Bush pretended to blow his top when the three companies (including Halliburton, of course) all blamed each other for the catastrophe, and called their antics a "ridiculous spectacle." despite doing little himself to deal with the issue for more than a month now. Then he professed anger and astonishment at the "cozy relationship" between the oil industry and the government. Imagine that! Putting on his tough guy face, Bush waved his arms and said, "I will not tolerate any more finger-pointing or irresponsibility". Oh, that's cute. What's he gonna do, order BP to act responsibly? Next year sometime? Over brandy and cigars in the Oval Office? I'll tell you one, thing, if Obama were in the White House you'd never see a "ridiculous spectacle" like the one the president is putting on right now.

And, you know, you would also think that Bush learned his lesson from 9/11 and Katrina about getting up off the couch and engaging himself when there is a national crisis going on. Apparently not, however. Just like when Katrina hit, he's running around doing political fundraisers while the country scrambles to deal with a crisis, and now he's taking a vacation, as well, just like he did in the month before 9/11, after being warned of an imminent attack. Unbelievable.

Speaking of vacation, I just can't take it anymore. These Bush clowns and their destructive antics are just killing me. It seems like it's taking forever for the Obama administration to start, and for these predators to go.

I just can't deal with it anymore. I'm gonna go take a long nap

Someone wake me up, oh, say, about a year-and-a-half into the Obama administration, wouldya?

By that time they should have really made their mark, and life will be so much better in America.

One thing's for sure, once Barack Obama comes to power you'll never again see an oil corporation-infested administration do nothing about a major crisis, lie about it, and protect British Petroleum instead of the American public.

That's change you can believe in.

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

The Dead Letter Office...

Alejandro gives the corporate salute!

Heil Obama,

Dear Stellvertreter Botschafter Wolff,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, your covering for Israel's mass murder on the high seas at the UN, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Cabinet Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Iron Cross 1st class with diamond clusters and the Israeli Medal of Distinguished Service, presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 07-03-2010. We salute you Herr Wolff, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

Pure Kafka
By Glenn Greenwald

The first paragraph of today's New York Times article by Charlie Savage:

The 48 Guant‡namo Bay detainees whom the Obama administration has decided to keep holding without trial include several for whom there is no evidence of involvement in any specific terrorist plot, according to a report disclosed Friday.

The Report itself, in a matter-of-fact-tone, describes the individuals to be kept in a cage indefinitely without charges this way:

C. Detainees Who Cannot Be Prosecuted

The task force concluded that for many detainees at Guantanamo. prosecution is not feasible in either federal court or a military commission.

They can't even be prosecuted in the due-process- They can't even be prosecuted in the due-process-abridging military commissions we invented out of whole cloth for those who can't be convicted in a real court. In other words: of course we'll provide a fair tribunal for proving your guilt -- as long as we're certain we can convict you -- otherwise, we'll just imprison you indefinitely without charges. All this even though 72% of Guantanamo detainees have been found to be wrongfully held since the Supreme Court compelled habeas hearings in 2008. And then there are the numerous Yemeni prisoners who have been cleared for release but who will be kept in a cage anyway because we arbitrarily decreed that we're not going to release even innocent prisoners back to Yemen.

Here's one other passage from Savage's article worth noting:

Of that group, the 48 whom the administration has designated for continued indefinite detention without trial have attracted the greatest controversy, in part because many Democrats sharply criticized that policy when the Bush administration created it after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Yes, I also vaguely recall the days when Democrats criticized the policy of imprisoning people indefinitely without charges. Harper's Scott Horton has more on all of this:

The Obama Administration came to Washington promising to clean up the Bush-era detentions policy and make it conform to the clear requirements of law. Then it seems to have decided that the law wasn't so convenient and that simply providing for unbridled executive authority ˆ la Bush-Cheney wasn't such a bad idea after all. In terms of Washington power politics, that decision seems to have taken the form of letting Robert Gates make the call on all these issues. The two figures in the Administration who took the most credible stance for implementing the Obama campaign-era promises on detentions policy -- Greg Craig and Phil Carter -- resigned within a few weeks of one another, offering no believable reasons for departing. Then press reports began to appear about secret prisons, operated by JSOC and DIA and applying rules different from those applied in the "normal" DOD prisons, including plenty of torture-lite techniques under Appendix M of the Army Field Manual (PDF).

This passage in the National Security Strategy makes clear that Barack Obama and his team have abandoned the promises they made to reform detentions policy in the 2008 campaign. Even the commitment to stop torture does not appear to have been fully implemented, given the unaccountable practices of JSOC and the DIA in Afghanistan. Barack Obama's belief in the rule of law apparently takes the back seat to Barack Obama's belief in his own ability to make the right call as executive. History will judge whether his confidence in his own abilities is warranted, but the distortion of the constitutional system presents a continuing challenge for those who believe in the older and more fundamental principle of accountability under the law.

Yes -- being as sentimental as I am -- I, too, harbor nostalgia for that "older principle of accountability under the law": you know, that idealized time when everyone was entitled to be charged with crimes before being imprisoned forever (rather than only those for whom prosecution was "feasible") and when Presidents weren't actually allowed to target American citizens for murder without at least some due process being granted. Anyway, did Sarah Palin post something to her Facebook page today? And isn't that Glenn Beck crazy?
(c) 2010 Glenn Greenwald. was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book "How Would a Patriot Act?," a critique of the Bush administration's use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, "A Tragic Legacy," examines the Bush legacy.

Obama's Timidity And Deaths At Sea
By Ray McGovern

A chief lesson to learn from President Barack Obama's recent unwillingness to stand up to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud Lobby is that such timidity can get people killed.

Casualty figures are still arriving in the wake of Israel's Sunday night-Monday morning commando attack on an unarmed flotilla trying to bring relief supplies to the 1.5 million Palestinians crowded into Gaza. Already, at least nine civilian passengers are reported killed, and dozens wounded.

Seldom has an act of aggression been so well advertised in advance. Israel had made clear that it would use force to prevent the ships from reaching Gaza and heard no stern protest from President Obama, who apparently could not overcome his fear of Israel's legendary political clout.

Earlier this year, Obama did criticize Israel's continued settlement of Palestinian areas and Netanyahu's resistance to holding meaningful peace talks, but the President has failed to follow up his words with firm action or resolve. Netanyahu concluded that Israel could do what it wished, including dropping commandos from helicopters onto crowded ships and, after alleging a clash with civilians, ordering the use of lethal force.

Then, Netanyahu could expect that America's Fawning Corporate Media (FCM) - with leading figures like Wolf Blitzer who built his journalistic career by working for the Jerusalem Post - would finesse the murderous assault into something reasonable and possibly even tilted sympathetically toward the Israeli troops.

Early on, CNN began repeating the Israeli "explanation" for its attack on the high seas, parroting the Jerusalem Post which reported that "militants were killed" after they set upon Israeli naval commandos who boarded one of the six ships Monday morning at two o'clock.

The commandos "were met with strong resistance from men armed with bladed weapons and the situation degenerated into a massacre when one of them grabbed the weapon of a soldier and opened fire," said the Jerusalem Post, quoting Israeli military sources.

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) claimed that the relief convoy organizers had a "radical Islamic anti-Western orientation," and that Israeli "naval forces were attacked with metal clubs and knives, as well as live fire," though there were no reports of Israeli deaths. The IDF statement continued:

"The demonstrators had clearly prepared their weapons in advance for this specific purpose," adding that the Navy then used riot dispersal methods, which include live fire, according to JTA, the global news service of the Jewish people.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak blamed the organizers of the convoy for the violent outcome, and Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon told a news conference why that was so: "The organizers' intent was violent, their method was violent, and unfortunately, the results were violent."

So, you see, the Israeli military resorted to violence only in self-defense. Right.

Quiet Conversation

On Monday, President Obama spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by phone about the incident. Afterwards, the White House said Obama had expressed "deep regret" over the deaths, but declined further comment, citing "the importance of learning all the facts and circumstances" as quickly as possible.

Don't hold your breath, though, waiting for the timid Obama or his Likud-leaning advisers - much less the FCM - to question the Israeli version.

We are likely to get an "explanation" worthy of the late Alexander Haig as to why the slaughter may well have been "justified." Haig's death in February brought to mind comments he made about a brutal incident on the night of Dec. 2, 1980, shortly after Ronald Reagan's election victory.

In rightist-ruled El Salvador, government security forces stopped four American churchwomen in their mini-van and were ordered to kill them. The soldiers first raped the women and then executed them with high-powered rifles. Reagan's foreign policy team decided to treat the rape-murder as a public relations problem, best handled by shifting blame onto the victims. And so, the women were deemed not nuns, but "political activists." (Today, "militants"-whatever that means-is often the label of choice.)

After becoming Reagan's first Secretary of State, Haig told Congress that "the nuns may have run through a roadblock or may have accidentally been perceived to have been doing so, and there may have been an exchange of fire."

In just a few weeks, the American women had gone from being innocent victims to "political activists" to armed insurgents - although knowledgeable U.S. government officials conceded there was no evidence to support Haig's shoot-out speculation. As an intelligence analyst at the time, I knew of Haig's inclination to make up stuff.

Watch for something similar to happen with respect to the "militants" or "activists" who were killed or wounded in the incident off Gaza. I avoid tuning in to the FCM anymore (it's just too much for my Irish temper), but I'm told that Israel-friendly pundits are already spinning faster than the famous centrifuges in Iran.

Uncle Remus's Wisdom

"He Don't Say Nothin'," as Uncle Remus put it, with improper grammar but with an accurate understanding that by not saying anything you can often convey a powerful or dangerous message.

As a presidential candidate, Obama was careful to say nothing about the brutal Israeli blockade against the 1.5 million people in Gaza, about to enter its fourth year. As president-elect he stayed mum as the Israelis attacked densely populated Gaza, killing some 1,400 Gazans.

As President, he has backed down at every significant moment when Netanyahu thumbed his nose at Obama or at Vice President Joe Biden.

Obama knew about the"Freedom Flotilla" and its plan to bring supplies to Gaza. And he had to be aware of Israel's threats to attack the relief ships. But, like Uncle Remus's B'rer Fox, Obama "don't say nothin.'"

Quite the contrary, Obama's pro-Zionist White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, who recently vacationed in Israel and met with Netanyahu last Wednesday, extended an invitation for a working visit at the White House. Netanyahu was to visit Obama on Tuesday after a four-day visit to Canada.

On Monday morning, Netanyahu canceled out of a gala dinner to be held in his honor in Ottawa and nixed the visit to Washington. He said he hoped that both Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Obama "understand that Israel has a great security problem."

Getting Away With Murder

The fatal incident off the Gaza coast was not the first time Israel had used lethal force against a nearly defenseless ship at sea. The attack on the "Freedom Flotilla" was reminiscent of the attack on the USS Liberty during Israel's Six-Day War against three of its Arab neighbors.

The war started on June 5, 1967, when Israel carried out an unprovoked Blitzkrieg attack. What is my source for "unprovoked?" Former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, who 15 years later admitted publicly:

"In June 1967, we had a choice. The Egyptian army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that [Egyptian President] Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him."

Three days into the war, Israeli aircraft and torpedo boats turned their firepower on the intelligence collection ship USS Liberty in international waters after the Israelis had identified it as a U.S. Navy ship.

The Israelis later insisted that the strafing and torpedo attacks were accidents in the fog of war. However, U.S. intelligence intercepted Israeli conversations at the time showing the attacks were deliberate, and their nature and persistence showed clear intent to sink the Liberty and leave no survivors.

Israeli commandos clad in black were about to land from helicopters and finish off what remained of the Liberty crew when Seaman Terry Halbardier (later awarded the Silver Star) slid over the Liberty's napalm-greased deck to jury-rig an antenna and get an SOS off to the Sixth Fleet.

Israeli forces intercepted the SOS and quickly broke off the attack. But 34 of the Liberty crew were killed and over 170 wounded.

To avoid exacerbating relations with Israel, the U.S. Navy was ordered to cover up the deliberate nature of the attack, and the surviving crew was threatened with imprisonment, if they so much as told their wives. When some of the crew later called for an independent investigation, they were hit with charges of anti-Semitism.

One of the surviving crew of the USS Liberty, decorated Navy veteran Joe Meadors, was with the "Freedom Flotilla" when it was attacked on Sunday night. Meadors is past president of the USS Liberty Veterans Association. The State Department tells us that Joe Meadors survived this latest Israeli attack. At last word, he sits in an Israeli jail.

Rachel Corrie

Another American was murdered in cold blood on March 16, 2003. Twenty-three year-old Rachel Corrie, a volunteer serving in Gaza with the International Solidarity Movement was run over by an Israeli Army bulldozer after a prolonged face-off in full view of several of her volunteer colleagues. Rachel had been trying to prevent the bulldozing of a Palestinian home where she had been staying.

The message the Israelis wanted to convey in killing Rachel Corrie was that international volunteers would no longer be exempt from the brutal treatment accorded young Israeli volunteers who tried to stand up, as Rachel did, for decent treatment of Palestinians in Gaza.

The FCM's excitement over President George W. Bush's eagerly anticipated "shock-and-awe" bombing of Iraq three days later pushed what limited coverage there was about Rachel's murder to the back pages. The Israelis claimed the killing was an inadvertent mistake, like the shoot-up of the Liberty. The courageous Rachel was very much with the Freedom Flotilla in spirit. And a certain poetic justice is to be found in that one of the ships in the convoy bore the name "Rachel Corrie."

Israel cannot hide behind "inadvertence" this time, although its spin-masters are already doing their best to smear the civilians on the ships with buzzwords, calling them "militants" and "terrorists" who "ambushed" and tried to "lynch" the Israeli commandos.

These P.R. tactics may work with the American FCM and neocons in Washington - and by extension the TV-watchers in the United States - but patience with Israel in the international community is wearing paper-thin.

Some Care About the Scandal of Gaza

Much of the world's impatience has to do with Gaza, including the Israeli attack from Dec. 17, 2008, to Jan. 18, 2009, as well as the three-year blockade that began when Hamas won Palestinian elections and became the governing party in Gaza.

Israel and the U.S. government deem Hamas to be a terrorist organization, though some other countries regard it more as a resistance movement fighting against Israeli occupation.

Regardless of how one feels about Hamas, Israel's harsh blockade of Gaza and last year's military assault have inflicted a humanitarian disaster on the Palestinian people.

Has Netanyahu Gone Too Far?

Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan has reacted strongly to the Israeli attack on the relief ships, the largest of which sailed from Turkey. According to one report, Turkey has served warning that Turkish Navy ships will escort future relief convoys to Gaza.

Erdogan has had it with Israeli mistreatment of Muslims in his eastern Mediterranean neighborhood. On Jan. 29, 2009, at the economic summit in Davos, he leveled harsh criticism to Israeli President Shimon Peres's face, labeling Gaza "an open-air prison."

Erdogan angrily cited "the sixth commandment - Thou Shalt Not Kill," adding, "We are talking about killing" in Gaza. Erdogan's one-and-a-half-minute tirade was captured on camera by the BBC.

Five days before Erdogan's outburst, the Brazilian government also condemned Israel's bombing of Gaza and its effect on the civilian population as a "disproportionate response."

It seems to have been the atrocity in Gaza-plus a common determination to prevent war from spreading to Iran-that galvanized the successful joint effort by Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to defy Israel. They persuaded Iran to agree to transfer half of its low-enriched uranium to Turkey for further processing, rendering it unusable for a nuclear weapon.

Defy Israel? you ask. Confused? If the Israeli leaders truly believe that low-enriched uranium comprises an essential part of an "existential threat" to Israel from eventual nuclear weapons in Iran, would they not be delighted at Iran's agreement to send half of that uranium out of the country? Good question.

Truth be told, Israel cares a lot less about Iran's uranium that it does about forcing "regime change" in Tehran. Netanyahu does not want any agreement with Iran; he wants sanctions against Iran, and eventually a military conflict, with the U.S. jumping in to help finish Iran off.

And this twin wish is shared by American neocons who remain influential in the Obama administration and in the FCM.

The pro-Israeli hardliners are the ones running U.S. policy on the Middle East, not Obama, who seems only nominally in charge. Unusually clear proof of this came when the Brazilians released a letter revealing that Obama had personally encouraged the Brazilian and Turkish leaders to pursue the kind of deal they were able to work out with the Iranians.

Small wonder, then, that the leaders of Brazil and Turkey were taken aback when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other administration spokespeople trashed the tripartite Iran-Turkey-Brazil deal and pressed ahead with a new round of sanctions.

And the President? Did he step up and acknowledge that he had encouraged Brazil and Turkey to seek the uranium deal? Well, he don't say nothin'.

Israeli Influence

While Americans continue to be starved of real information from the FCM, better informed people around the world have come to view with disdain the degree to which Washington dogs are wagged by Israeli tails.

When I suggested five years ago before a Capitol Hill hearing chaired by Rep. John Conyers that Israel was right up there, together with oil and military bases, as comprising the real rationale for war on Iraq, I, too, was called anti-Semitic. But the evidence has always been as clear as it is abundant.

An inadvertent remark by a major player on Iraq, former British Prime Minister Blair, has provided insight - straight from the horse's ass, I mean, mouth.

In early February 2010, the British press revealed that Blair, testifying to the Iraq war commission in the U.K., offered the following account of his discussions with Bush in Crawford, Texas, in April 2002. (That's when Bush said war was the only way to deal with Saddam Hussein, and Blair acquiesced.) But Blair's remarks revealed that Israeli concerns were a major part of the equation and that Israeli officials were involved in the discussions. Thus, Blair:

As I recall that discussion, it was less to do with specifics about what we were going to do on Iraq or, indeed, the Middle East, because the Israel issue was a big, big issue at the time. I think, in fact, I remember, actually, there may have been conversations that we had even with Israelis, the two of us, whilst we were there. So that was a major part of all this.

It is a safe bet that Hillary Clinton's Likud-friendly lieutenants and their new junior partners in London are busy conferring with Tel Aviv right now about how to handle the P.R. challenge caused by the upstart leaders of Turkey and Brazil with the temerity to work out a deal with Tehran. (Never mind that Obama personally asked them to do it.)

How does one make into a bad thing Iran's agreement to ship half its uranium out of the country, even if additional steps might still be needed to assure the world that Iran is telling the truth when it says it isn't building a nuclear bomb?

More and more people around the globe are seeing Obama as subservient to the Likud Lobby, perhaps not as enthusiastically as Bush was, but still unwilling to put action behind his occasional words of dissatisfaction. Important players in the Middle East, as well as increasingly assertive countries like Turkey and Brazil, conclude that the policies and behavior of Tel Aviv and Washington are virtually identical.

And then there is the $3 billion or so that the United States gives Israel each year that enables the Israelis to arm themselves to the teeth. It is understandable, then, that many will blame Washington for what happened in the dark of night, on the eve of Memorial Day, on the high seas.

Hard Lessons

The likely results are three-fold:

1)--On Memorial Day next year, there may well be hundreds more "fallen heroes" to honor, killed by Muslim and other "militants" who make no distinction between what the U.S. has done in Iraq and Afghanistan and what Israel does in Gaza and the occupied West Bank - and add Lebanon and Syria, for good measure.

As Gen. David Petraeus pointed out earlier this year, the unresolved Arab-Israeli "conflict foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of U.S. favoritism for Israel" and thus puts U.S. troops at greater risk.

"Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of U.S. partnerships with governments and peoples in the [region] and weakens the legitimacy of moderate regimes in the Arab world," Petraeus said. "Meanwhile, al-Qaeda and other militant groups exploit that anger to mobilize support."

2)--The linking of U.S. support with Israeli actions increases the incentive of terrorists to ply their dark arts in the United States.

While it is difficult to find a measure of objectivity in official U.S. government documents on this topic, every so often there is a slip between cup and lip. There was such a slip on Sept. 23, 2004, for example, when the Pentagon-sponsored U.S. Defense Science Board issued a formal report concluding:

Muslims do not 'hate our freedom,' but rather, they hate our policies. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights.

You will not be surprised to find out that the board's report was generally suppressed in the FCM, as were the following, more specific, examples:

By his own account, KSM's [9/11 "mastermind" Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's] animus toward the United States stemmed not from his experience there as a student, but rather from his violent disagreement with U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel. [9/11 Commission Report, July 22, 2004, page 147]

And what motivated Dr. Humam Khalil Abu Mulal al-Balawi, the 32-year-old Jordanian physician of Palestinian origin, who on Dec. 30, 2009, detonated a suicide bomb at a CIA site in eastern Afghanistan, killing seven American CIA operatives? According to his brother, al-Balawi "changed" during the three-week-long Israeli offensive in Gaza, which killed some 1,400 Gazans.

When al-Balawi volunteered to treat injured Palestinians in Gaza, he was arrested by Jordanian authorities, his brother said. It was after that arrest that al-Balawi allowed himself to be "recruited" to spy on al-Qaeda for the CIA. Quickly, it became payback time for Americans and Jordanians whom he associated with Israel.

Christmas underpants bomber Abdulmuttallab, also is reported to have been particularly outraged by Israel's slaughter of Gazans at the turn of 2008-09 and Washington's defense of Israel's action.

That Israeli actions in Gaza acted as catalysts to al-Balawi's and Abdulmuttallab's determination to exact revenge on the U.S. is hardly surprising - the more so in view of Washington's efforts to suppress the findings of the UN-commissioned Gaza investigation by Justice Richard Goldstone. His report concluded that:

The blockade policies implemented by Israel against the Gaza Strip, in particular the closure of or restrictions imposed on border crossings in the immediate period before the military operations, subjected the local population to extreme hardship and deprivations that amounted to a violation of Israel's obligations as an Occupying Power under the Fourth Geneva Convention. ...

Israel has essentially violated its obligation to allow free passage of all consignments of medical and hospital objects, food, and clothing that were needed to meet the urgent humanitarian needs of the civilian population ...

The Mission concludes that the conditions resulting from deliberate actions of the Israeli forces and the declared policies of the Government with regard to the Gaza Strip before, during, and after the military operation cumulatively indicate the intention to inflict collective punishment on the people of the Gaza Strip.

The Mission, therefore, finds a violation of the provisions of Articles 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention."

3)--Attacking Iran

It is no secret that this goal enjoys high priority on Netanyahu's agenda. It could be stopped in its tracks by a public warning from President Obama. But all signs point to his bending to neocon advice to shy away from a showdown and, rather, leave everything, including another war of aggression, "on the table."

The fact that world leaders consider Netanyahu a clear and present danger to peace in the region is shown by the way the leaders of Turkey and Brazil moved at an accelerated pace to bend the Iranians to the kind of deal that Obama personally had advocated, before being overruled by Hillary Clinton and others in his misguided Team of Rivals.

The urgency of the Turkey-Brazil initiative came through in the words of Brazilian President Lula da Silva, who could hardly have been more explicit:

"We can't allow to happen in Iran what happened in Iraq. Before any sanctions, we must undertake all possible efforts to try and build peace in the Middle East."

Green Light?

Netanyahu listens only to Washington, when he listens at all. Following the bloody attack on the Freedom Flotilla, I imagine he will now get at most a mealy-mouthed "please-don't-do-this-again" from the White House, together with acquiescence in an Al-Haig-type made-up excuse about an "exchange" of fire.

If that proves to be the case, Netanyahu is altogether likely to consider that Israel has a green light to provoke hostilities with Iran, with the full expectation that the United States will jump right in to help the non-ally ally finish the job.

Non-ally ally? Sorry, despite what you hear from Obama, Congress and the whole Washington Establishment, Israel is not an ally of the United States. Webster's (and international law) define ally as "a state associated with another by treaty."

There is no mutual defense treaty between the U.S. and Israel. (Washington has broached the idea to Israel from time to time, but Israel has said no thanks. Treaties, you see, require internationally recognized borders, and-for obvious reasons-Israeli leaders avoid that subject like the plague.)

NATO member Turkey, on the other hand, is a U.S. ally. This could make things very awkward if Turkey sends its warships to accompany the next convoy trying to lift the siege of Gaza. It is possible that Washington may have to choose between a real ally and a synthetic one, if shots are fired.

Israel's Attack Illegal; What Now?

Craig Murray, a former British ambassador and Foreign Office specialist on maritime law (and VIPS member), has just weighed in with a helpful description of two clear legal possibilities, which take into account both international law and the Law of the Sea:

Possibility one is that the Israeli commandos were acting on behalf of the government of Israel in killing the activists in international waters. The applicable law is that of the flag state of the ship on which the incident occurred.

In legal terms, the Turkish ship was Turkish territory. So in this case Israel is in a position of war with Turkey, and the attack by Israeli commandos falls under international jurisdiction as a war crime.

Possibility two is that, if the killings were not military actions authorized by Israel, they were then acts of murder and fall under Turkish jurisdiction. If Israel does not consider itself in a position of war with Turkey, it must hand over the commandos involved for trial in Turkey under Turkish law. It is for Turkey, not Israel, to carry out any inquiry or investigation and to initiate any prosecutions. Israel would be obliged by law to hand over indicted personnel for prosecution.

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

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Jeff Stahler ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Killer Of Giants
By Ozzy Osbourne

If none of us believe in war
Then can you tell me what the weapon's for
Listen to me everyone
If the button is pushed
There'll be nowhere to run

Giants sleeping giants winning wars
Within their dreams
Till they wake when it's too late
And in god's name blaspheme

Killer of giants threatens us all
Mountains of madness standing so tall
Rising so proudly it has nowhere to fall
Oh the killer of giants
Oh the killer of giants

Mother nature people state your case without it's worth
Your seas run dry your sleepless eyes are turning red alert

Killer of giants threatens us all
Mountains of madness standing so tall
Marches of protest not stopping the war
Or the killer of giants
Or the killer of giants

Killer of giants threatens us all
Mountains of madness standing so tall
Marches of protest not stopping the war
Oh the killer of giants
Oh the killer of giants
Killer of giants
Killer of giants
(c) 1995/2010 Ozzy Osbourne

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Motley humors the First Family with a slapstick routine burlesquing foreign intelligence agents.

White House Jester Beheaded For Making Fun Of Soaring National Debt

WASHINGTON-After serving 12 years in the position, Motley, the official White House Jester, was beheaded Tuesday after delivering a poorly received jape about the spiraling national debt before President and Mrs. Obama.

"For crimes of great arrogance and cheek, His Idiocy the White House Jester has been sentenced to a swift demise," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said following the death sentence. "Let it be heard over every city and suburb of this land that the National Debt is no topic for frivolity, and the mailed hand of Obama shall smite all offenders."

Motley, who used his last words to beg in vain for Obama's mercy, was executed on the North Lawn at the strike of noon.

Obama, a wit in his own right, warned that any guest who
further tested his patience would 'be heading' for trouble.

According to witnesses, the controversial performance took place late Monday evening, when Obama announced that his head was weary following a day of closed-door meetings with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, and the chief of the White House Avenary. Having retired to the Great Hall, Obama clapped his hands and called for feasting and joviality.

Initial performances by a madrigal group, marionette puppeteers, and Faith Hill proved popular with the First Family, but the festivities reportedly turned sour after Motley was summoned to lighten Obama's spirits.

"At first, Motley did greatly please the President with his cavorting and merrymaking," White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod told reporters. "He recited droll quatrains about the Tea Party movement to much enjoyment. But yea, verily, his impression of [U.S. Secretary of Education] Arne Duncan, with oversized costume teeth, earned the heartiest roars of laughter by far, and perhaps emboldened Motley past the brink of decorum."

Tensions rose when a happily beaming Obama demanded to be riddled. After a string of well-received topical posers, Motley asked the following:

A pocket-hole that grew so large,
A giant couldn't eat it.
A cache of gold that never was,
But nonetheless depleted.

When the President confessed to being stumped, Motley revealed the answer to be "the National Debt, of course."

Witnesses said Obama's mood immediately darkened and, pounding on the arm of the Presidential Throne, he demanded new jesting. After nervously clearing his throat, Motley was heard to ask, "Wherefore is the National Debt like a sprouting leaf of spinach?" When a glowering Obama demanded the answer, Motley stated, "For it shall rapidly grow into something our children cannot bear."

At this, Obama reportedly dropped the large turkey leg in his hand and signaled to nearby Secret Service agents, who seized Motley and dragged him, pleading, to the Executive Dungeon. The President exited the Hall in a fury, and within minutes had drafted an order of execution by beheading.

"The First Executioner completed his task in one true swing," said White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, who presided over the assembled crowd of some 20,000 onlookers. "His head has been spitted on a pike and displayed facing E Street as a warning to they who would mock our most precipitously extended federal debt."

In his career, Motley entertained three presidents, capered at five White House Correspondents' Dinners, and hosted a season of Comedy Central's Premium Blend. He is the first sitting White House Jester to be executed since the 1998 drawing and quartering of his predecessor, Dennis Miller, on the National Mall.

Analysts said that while Motley was an eminently skilled wit, he erred in taking on such a sensitive issue, overstepping the satirical authority normally afforded the Office of White House Jester: In fact, the last Jester to survive a debt joke was Harding Administration Jester Chauncey, who spent five days in the stocks by the Reflecting Pool.

Others placed the blame squarely on Obama's famously volatile temper.

"Only a month after murdering the Presidential Physician for telling him to quit smoking and jog more, Obama has again displayed his wrath with bloodshed," Washington Post reporter Brian Halloran said. "He must control himself better if he wants to be remembered with a flattering cognomen at the end of his term."
(c) 2010 The Onion

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Issues & Alibis Vol 10 # 23 (c) 06/04/2010

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