Issues & Alibis

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In This Edition

Amy Goodman explores, "The Gaza Freedom Flotilla."

Uri Avnery says to, "Kill A Turk And Rest."

David Sirota goes from, "From Shared Sacrifice To Hedonism."

Joel S. Hirschhorn shines a light on, "Cowardly Progressives."

Jim Hightower with a protest, "Beyond BP: Send A Message To Tony Hayward."

Randall Amster is, "Erasing Arizona."

James Donahue discovers, "Ecology Of Great Lakes Under Assault."

Michelle Chin reports, "In The Wake Of Health Reform, Abortion Under Attack."

Robert Scheer speaks, "On The Vilification Of Helen Thomas."

Case Wagenvoord concludes, "Labels Protect Us From Thinking."

Mike Folkerth exclaims we're, "Driving In the Fast Lane; But Not For Long!."

Chris Hedges warns that, "The Christian Fascists Are Growing Stronger."

David Michael Green reveals, "What Lethal Arrogance Looks Like."

Michigan State Senator Bruce Patterson wins the coveted "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Glenn Greenwald details, "How Israel Propaganda Shaped U.S. Media Coverage Of The Flotilla Attack."

Eric Margolis finds, "Fury Over Raid Isolates Israel."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Landover Baptist Church announces a coup d'etat, "Balance Of Power Shifts At Landover Baptist Church" but first Uncle Ernie sez, "We Are Your Overlords!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Mark Streeter, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Ruben Bolling, Derf City, Daryl Cagle, Cameron Cardow, Patriot Boy, NARAL, Stout, Time Magazine, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 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."

We Are Your Overlords!
By Ernest Stewart

We come from the land of the ice and snow,
From the midnight sun where the hot springs blow.
How soft your fields so green, can whisper tales of gore,
Of how we calmed the tides of war. We are your overlords.
Immigrant Song ~~~ Led Zeppelin

"These are reminders to all Americans that they need to watch what they say and what they do, and this is not a time for remarks like that. There never is."

"She should lose her job over this. As someone who is Jewish, and as someone who worked with her and used to like her, I find this appalling. She is advocating religious cleansing. How can Hearst stand by her? If a journalist, or a columnist, said the same thing about blacks or Hispanics, they would already have lost their jobs." ~~~ Ari Fleischer

You might be an anti-semite if...

...You think that the land of Palestine was once inhabited by a group of people called 'the Palestinians' who actually lived there for 2,000 years, and further, that this mythical group of people called 'the Palestinians' deserve this thing known as 'dignity' and that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, and that among these inalienable rights are 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness'...
You might be an anti-semite if... ~~~ Joe Cortina

Maybe I missed something with Barry doing all that he could to take the world media's attention off of Israel and put it out in the Gulf of Mexico, where British Petroleum's trying to get revenge for the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812! Keep the media focused here while Benjamin flips the bird to the rest of the world. He knows that the UN is controlled by the USA and will do nothing about anything that the Israelis do! And since Israel has around 300 atomic bombs, no one else is going to do anything about it either! Oh, and thanks to the Germans whose efficiency in killing people (be it with weapons or death camps) the Israelis really admire. They have upped the ante by selling Israel a fleet of atomic missile firing submarines, three of which are now off the coast of Iran! They're not atomic subs but diesel powered, providing a quiet, steady platform to lob nuclear tipped Cruise missiles at anyone on the planet. A fact made plain to the rest of the world by Israel!

Benjamin and the rest of his spin-masters kept shouting all week long that those poor jack booted thug pirates who boarded those ships full of unarmed, sleeping people in the middle of the ocean in the middle of the night, boarded with their machine guns blaring, executing people, like that American teenager, with four to the back of the head. Then they kidnapped the rest that they didn't murder and took the desperately needed food for themselves. These people are somehow the good guys? And it was all the fault of those evil peaceniks who were trying to bring some badly needed supplies to the area and stop Israel's slow starvation of the Gaza Ghetto. Those monsters. I guess it was not standing still to be shot to pieces and for picking up some deck chairs to defend themselves that makes them the bad guys? Oh, Please!

Fortunately, the world is no longer buying the bullshit but there's not a lot that they can do about it with those missiles and all. However, many countries are lining up around the block to make a buck off the Palestinian's misery. Some 400 companies are steadily taking billions of your taxpayer dollars building more illegal settlements, financing them, and supplying the hardware to build them. You can't run over a protester or knock down a house or bulldoze an olive grove without a US made Caterpillar tractor. All those new apartment blocks will need plenty of hardware from Ace Hardware! Siemens can help you build those blocks and divert water resources from those goyim in the ghettos to those new luxury high-rises! While Volvo will take care of your transportation problems while you drive on over to Blockbuster to get some DVDs to drown out the screams and gunfire coming from over in those old neighborhoods behind the wall. I could go on but you get the idea. But understand, as bad as we are for living off the Palestinians' misery, the goons across the big ditch are doing much better than we! The European Union members, for all their blustery indignation about Israel, are hand-in-hand with them, helping the Zionists out with their "final solution" plans!

Meanwhile the non-Zionistic folks in Israel have been doing what they can and standing up to their government over all this madness and just like American protesters who have been attacked for standing up for peace and brotherhood, the Israeli peace groups like Gush Shalom have been threatened and beaten for daring to say, "give peace a chance!" Our own Uri Avnery barely escaped serious injury or death at the hands of some "Youth for Netanyahu" skinheads last weekend after speaking at a peaceful rally in Tel Aviv. Here's what Gush Shalom had to say:

A disaster was averted yesterday (June 5) at Tel-Aviv's Museum Square, when rightists threw a smoke grenade into the middle of the protest rally, obviously hoping for a panic to break out and cause the protesters to trample on each other. But the demonstrators remained calm, nobody started to run and just a small space in the middle of the crowd remained empty. The speaker did not stop talking even when the cloud of smoke reached the stage. The audience included many children.

Half an hour later, a dozen rightist thugs attacked Gush Shalom's 86 year old Uri Avnery, when he was on his way from the rally in the company of his wife, Rachel, Adam Keller and his wife Beate Siversmidt. Avnery had just entered a taxi, when a dozen rightist thugs attacked him and tried to drag him out of the car. At the critical moment, the police arrived and made it possible for the car to leave. Gush spokesman Adam Keller said: "These cowards did not dare to attack us when we were many, but they were heroes when they caught Avnery alone."

The incident took place when the more than 10 thousand demonstrators were dispersing, after marching through the streets of Tel Aviv in protest against the attack on the Gaza-bound aid flotilla.

I'm guessing we'll get all the details next week in Uri's column?

The Zionists are fond of attacking old folks who won't put on the armband and jackboots and goose step along! This week it was 86-year-old Uri and the next story is of an 89-year-old American hero who got massacred in the media for, like Uri, just telling the truth about Palestine!

In Other News

You have by now heard about the railroading and set up of Helen Thomas by the Israeli controlled American press. These Zionist stooges were able to do what the likes of Nixon, Ray-Guns and the Crime Family Bush couldn't, silence the voice of America's last MSM journalist.

What was her crime that these fascist toadies seized upon? Helen dared to tell the truth about Israel when set up and prompted by 5th columnist Rabbi David F. Nesenoff.

Nesenoff was at the White House with his teenage son and the boy's friend for a Jewish American Heritage Month celebration. He stalked Helen until she agreed to do an interview. David began by asking Thomas an innocuous question about what she'd advise young people considering journalism as a career. Ironically, the 89-year-old journalist speaks lovingly of a journalism career on the video:

Thomas: Go for it, you'll never be unhappy. You'll always keep people informed. And you'll always keep learning!

Nesenoff: Any comments on Israel...they're arresting everybody today.

Thomas: Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine. Remember, these people are occupied. It's their land.

Nesenoff: So where should they go - what should they do?

Thomas: They should go home.

Nesenoff: So where's their home?

Thomas: Poland, Germany, (interrupted by Neseno)

Nesenoff: So the Jews go back to Poland and to Germany?

Thomas: "......and America, and everywhere else.

So you tell me, America, what's all the brouhaha about? Sure, Helen should have known better than to speak the truth in front of a fifth columnist like Rabbi David but that's the nice thing about being old, you can tell the truth without hesitation. Because in the final analysis, it's not Helen with the black eye, it's not Helen being a traitor to the truth, it's not Helen who should be ashamed. It's not Helen who has sold her soul to Tel Aviv!

You knew I would write the Rabbi a letter, didn't you? Here's just a part of it as this is a family magazine...

"Oy Vey David,

Such a nice Jewish boy laying a trap and destroying America's favorite reporter with the help of the AIPAC and every Israeli 5th columnist/traitor in America. You should be proud of yourself, trapping a 90 year old goyim with your little song and dance which, by the way, took you from obscurity to the top of charts overnight. I bet you're good at stealing candy from babies too, huh? You're just another Israeli dirty trick in a week full of Israeli dirty tricks, murder, theft and mayhem...

Then there was the media and former Bush stooges like Ari (the weasel) Fleisher, another nice Jewish boy and fifth columnist traitor, who crawled out from under his rock to join the attack along with the White House Correspondents' Association who said:

Statement Issued By the Board of the White House Correspondents' Association June 7, 2010

Helen Thomas' comments were indefensible and the White House Correspondents' Association board firmly dissociates itself from them. Many in our profession who have known Helen for years were saddened by the comments, which were especially unfortunate in light of her role as a trail blazer on the White House beat.

While Helen has not been a member of the WHCA for many years, her special status in the briefing room has helped solidify her as the dean of the White House press corps so we feel the need to speak out strongly on this matter. We want to emphasize that the role of the WHCA is to represent the White House press corps in its dealings with the White House on coverage-related issues. We do not police the speech of our members or colleagues. We are not involved at all in issuing White House credentials; that is the purview of the White House itself.

But the incident does revive the issue of whether it is appropriate for an opinion columnist to have a front row seat in the WH briefing room. That is an issue under the jurisdiction of this board. We are actively seeking input from our association members on this important matter, and we have scheduled a special meeting of the WHCA board on Thursday to decide on the seating issue.

Ed Chen, Bloomberg
David Jackson, USA Today
Caren Bohan, Reuters
Ed Henry, CNN
Julie Mason, DC Examiner
Don Gonyea, National Public Radio
Steve Scully, C-SPAN
Doug Mills, The New York Times

Of course, I wrote them a letter too, here's a short rant from it...

It's no wonder Helen left your little group of Zionist, 5th columnist traitors. Yes, telling the truth about your "Crimes Against Humanity" puppet masters is a big no-no, and Helen had to pay, huh? You clowns call yourself journalists, you're not worthy to carry Helen's pencil box. If you had any honor at all you'd all fall on your swords but, we both know, that will never happen, as you have no honor. So what was your price? I'm guessing Tel Aviv bought and paid for you all with 30 pieces of silver?...

Did you notice what papers, media and such that make up the board? All "heavy hitters" (that's a joke folks!) like CNN, the Corporate News Network. USA Today America's favorite joke paper right after "The Onion." The Old Gray Bitch owned and operated by Israel. Bloomberg, the DC Examiner and Reuters. As "they" say, the defense rests!

We're going to miss you Helen! The last of that breed of honest journalists. When will come another? My guess for this country and the MSM, is never! Israel will see to that!

And Finally

Last month I was an anti-Muslim, before that I was anti-Catholic. This month I'm an anti-Semite. I know this because I've been told so by Muslims, Catholics and Jews. Actually I'm none of the above, well, at least technically I'm not. I don't hate 99% of the people who follow the various mythologies and am perfectly happy to live and let live with them as long as their followers let me be and not insist I share their madness or be burned at the stake! Also, since I'm pro Palestinian and the Palestinians are Semitic, I must be pro semitic not anti!

What I do dislike quite a lot are Nazis, whether they are religious, or not!

This week it was I'm a Jew hater for not buying the official Zionazi line on their latest atrocity at sea. Trouble is I'm not. I was raised, to some extent, by Jews. The reasons I'm a radical, like be-bop Jazz, intellectual humor, and marijuana can be laid directly on a family of Jews whom I love and adore to this day. That's some 50 years, folks. Of course, they were or are radicals or communists or anarchists, you know just plain good folks, unlike the Jews in charge in Palestine today who would be the envy of Adolph Hitler! In fact, I shared a religion with this family of Jews, they like me, were Atheists!

I hate Jews so much that I've begged them to let me republish and publish their articles. About half the writers in Issues & Alibi are Jews. From Noam Chomsky to Uri Avnery. I was the only one for years who would publish Uri in America. This week there's Amy Goodman in the lead off slot. Uri, Robert Sheer, David Sirota, Glenn Greenwald. You'll also see from time to time Norm Solomon, Naomi Klein, Naomi Wolf and Eric Alterman to name just a few more.

Those same Jews that branded me anti-semitic were laughing with me as we drew pictures of Mohamed for "Draw Mohamed Day," wrote me "right on" for going after the Panzer Pope for covering up child abuse by his men in dresses! Now that's what ole Tweety Bird called "Hypo-Twits!"

When people ask me what I do I often say, "I Piss People Off," that's my job! I say unpopular things, like the truth. Remember just telling the truth can get you killed in many places on the planet and yet, "I'm a truth sayer." If that upsets you, good, that makes me happy! The point, of course, is to get some of these brain-deads to think. To question the "Status Quo," to unplug themselves and their families from "The Matrix" before it's too late for all of us. To always question authority and not just goose step along to get by. Of course, if you do decide to become a truth sayer, please be prepared to be called a lot of names, to lose your job working for Hearst News, or the New York Times, to lose a few "friends" on facebook, but at least you'll be able to look yourself in the eye while shaving in the morning and not want to cut your own throat!

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. Helen's gone now and without your help we'll soon be gone, too!


03-20-1925 ~ 06-02-2010
Thanks for the laughs!

05-08-1976 ~ 06-05-2010
Good to the last drop!

08-18-1953 ~ 06-06-2010
Thanks for da blues!


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.

This is the video by Jerusalem Post editor Caroline Glick that was sent
out by the Israeli government making "fun" of their murdering innocents!

The Gaza Freedom Flotilla
Framing the Narrative
By Amy Goodman

They called it "Operation Sea Breeze." Despite the pleasant-sounding name, Israel's violent commando raid on a flotilla of humanitarian aid ships, which left nine civilians dead, has sparked international outrage. The raid occurred in the early-morning hours of May 31, as the six vessels laden with humanitarian aid were still in international waters, bound for Gaza, where 1.5 million Palestinian residents are in their third year of an Israeli-imposed blockade. Israel has, from the outset, sought to limit the debate over the attack, and to control the images.

Israeli military boats and helicopters raided the vessels and took control of the flotilla. Nine of the activists on board the largest vessel, the Mavi Marmara, were killed at close range by Israeli commandos firing live ammunition. Nineteen-year-old U.S. citizen Furkan Dogan was shot once in the chest and four times in the head. Israel commandeered the six vessels and arrested the roughly 700 activists and journalists, hauled them to the Israeli port of Ashdod and kept them out of meaningful communication with family, press and lawyers for days. The Israeli government confiscated every recording and communication device it could find-devices containing almost all the recorded evidence of the raid-thus allowing the state to control what the world learned about the assault. The Israelis selected, edited and released footage they wanted the world to see.

Four days after their capture, most of the detainees were deported by the Israeli government, well after the story had been framed.

I caught up with two veteran journalists who were covering the Gaza Freedom Flotilla for Australia's Sydney Morning Herald, chief correspondent Paul McGeough and his photographer, Kate Geraghty. They were in Istanbul, where they had been deported from Israel. They had spent time on most of the ships of the flotilla, but were aboard the smaller, U.S.-flagged Challenger 1 when the raid occurred.

Geraghty described how she was shot with a Taser: "I was photographing Israeli commandos coming up a ladder. There was a white flash, this thing hit my arm. I was thrown a meter and a half. It hurt, and I immediately became sick, began throwing up." She yelled that she and McGeough were from The Sydney Morning Herald, and one of the commandos responded, in English with an Australian accent, "We know you're from the Herald." Despite her breadth of experience covering conflict zones around the world, she found her maltreatment by the Israelis "more personal. They knew who we were, they stole my gear, they falsely imprisoned us when we were in international waters covering a legitimate story."

I pointed out to McGeough the Rasmussen poll that found 49 percent of U.S. voters believe pro-Palestinian activists on the aid ships are to blame for what happened. He replied, "If ordinary Americans had seen below deck, the men with zip ties on their wrists, on their knees for hours, denied permission to go to the toilet, forced to soil their pants, women pleading to be able to give drinks to men, that may have changed their sense of what happened on the ships."

When journalists are free to function, they can report the truth. The Israeli military has been forced to retract its claim that passengers aboard the flotilla were agents of al-Qaida. An Israel Defense Forces press release sent out two days after the assault says approximately 40 flotilla passengers "are mercenaries belonging to the Al Qaeda terror organization." The independent journalist Max Blumenthal says both he and an Israeli colleague asked the Israeli military press office to substantiate its claim. No evidence was provided, and one day later the press release was modified. The original headline was changed from "Attackers of the IDF Soldiers Found to be Al Qaeda Mercenaries" to "Attackers of the IDF Soldiers Found Without Identification Papers."

McGeough told me: "This is what we do: We embed with U.S. forces in Iraq, and with Australian forces in Afghanistan. I've spoken to Israeli officials, and in the West Bank and Gaza I've spoken to Hamas, to young would-be suicide bombers, because that's how we get stories. If you just tell one side of the story then people can't have a sensible view of a dynamic conflict, in order to understand how it might be resolved."

McGeough and Geraghty and all the other journalists have yet to receive their laptops, cameras, videos, photos and other possessions from the Israelis. And Israel has said it will not accept an independent investigation of its raid. Israel's continued attempts to hide the truth only further imperil the security of Israelis, Palestinians and all those working for a just peace in the Middle East.
(c) 2010 Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!," a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 750 stations in North America. She is the co-author of "Standing Up to the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times," recently released in paperback.

Kill A Turk And Rest
By Uri Avnery

ON THE high seas, outside territorial waters, the ship was stopped by the navy. The commandos stormed it. Hundreds of people on the deck resisted, the soldiers used force. Some of the passengers were killed, scores injured. The ship was brought into harbor, the passengers were taken off by force. The world saw them walking on the quay, men and women, young and old, all of them worn out, one after another, each being marched between two soldiers...

The ship was called "Exodus 1947". It left France in the hope of breaking the British blockade, which was imposed to prevent ships loaded with Holocaust survivors from reaching the shores of Palestine. If it had been allowed to reach the country, the illegal immigrants would have come ashore and the British would have sent them to detention camps in Cyprus, as they had done before. Nobody would have taken any notice of the episode for more than two days.

But the person in charge was Ernest Bevin, a Labour Party leader, an arrogant, rude and power-loving British minister. He was not about to let a bunch of Jews dictate to him. He decided to teach them a lesson the entire world would witness. "This is a provocation!" he exclaimed, and of course he was right. The main aim was indeed to create a provocation, in order to draw the eyes of the world to the British blockade.

What followed is well known: the episode dragged on and on, one stupidity led to another, the whole world sympathized with the passengers. But the British did not give in and paid the price. A heavy price.

Many believe that the "Exodus" incident was the turning point in the struggle for the creation of the State of Israel. Britain collapsed under the weight of international condemnation and decided to give up its mandate over Palestine. There were, of course, many more weighty reasons for this decision, but the "Exodus" proved to be the straw that broke the camel's back.

I AM not the only one who was reminded of this episode this week. Actually, it was almost impossible not to be reminded of it, especially for those of us who lived in Palestine at the time and witnessed it.

There are, of course, important differences. Then the passengers were Holocaust survivors, this time they were peace activists from all over the world. But then and now the world saw heavily armed soldiers brutally attack unarmed passengers, who resist with everything that comes to hand, sticks and bare hands. Then and now it happened on the high seas - 40 km from the shore then, 65 km now. P<> In retrospect, the British behavior throughout the affair seems incredibly stupid. But Bevin was no fool, and the British officers who commanded the action were not nincompoops. After all, they had just finished a World War on the winning side.

If they behaved with complete folly from beginning to end, it was the result of arrogance, insensitivity and boundless contempt for world public opinion.

Ehud Barak is the Israeli Bevin. He is not a fool, either, nor are our top brass. But they are responsible for a chain of acts of folly, the disastrous implications of which are hard to assess. Former minister and present commentator Yossi Sarid called the ministerial "committee of seven", which decides on security matters, "seven idiots" - and I must protest. It is an insult to idiots.

THE PREPARATIONS for the flotilla went on for more than a year. Hundreds of e-mail messages went back and forth. I myself received many dozens. There was no secret. Everything was out in the open.

There was a lot of time for all our political and military institutions to prepare for the approach of the ships. The politician consulted. The soldiers trained. The diplomats reported. The intelligence people did their job.

Nothing helped. All the decisions were wrong from the first moment to this moment. And it's not yet the end.

The idea of a flotilla as a means to break the blockade borders on genius. It placed the Israeli government on the horns of a dilemma - the choice between several alternatives, all of them bad. Every general hopes to get his opponent into such a situation.

The alternatives were:

(a) To let the flotilla reach Gaza without hindrance. The cabinet secretary supported this option. That would have led to the end of the blockade, because after this flotilla more and larger ones would have come.

(b) To stop the ships in territorial waters, inspect their cargo and make sure they were not carrying weapons or "terrorists," then let them continue on their way. That would have aroused some vague protests in the world but upheld the principle of a blockade.

(c) To capture them on the high seas and bring them to Ashdod, risking a face-to-face battle with activists on board.

As our governments have always done, when faced with the choice between several bad alternatives, the Netanyahu government chose the worst.

Anyone who followed the preparations as reported in the media could have foreseen that they would lead to people being killed and injured. One does not storm a Turkish ship and expect cute little girls to present one with flowers. The Turks are not known as people who give in easily.

The orders given to the forces and made public included the three fateful words: "at any cost". Every soldier knows what these three terrible words mean. Moreover, on the list of objectives, the consideration for the passengers appeared only in third place, after safeguarding the safety of the soldiers and fulfilling the task.

If Binyamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak, the Chief of Staff and the commander of the navy did not understand that this would lead to killing and wounding people, then it must be concluded - even by those who were reluctant to consider this until now - that they are grossly incompetent. They must be told, in the immortal words of Oliver Cromwell to Parliament: "You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately... Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!"

THIS EVENT points again to one of the most serious aspects of the situation: we live in a bubble, in a kind of mental ghetto, which cuts us off and prevents us from seeing another reality, the one perceived by the rest of the world. A psychiatrist might judge this to be the symptom of a severe mental problem.

The propaganda of the government and the army tells a simple story: our heroic soldiers, determined and sensitive, the elite of the elite, descended on the ship in order "to talk" and were attacked by a wild and violent crowd. Official spokesmen repeated again and again the word "lynching".

On the first day, almost all the Israeli media accepted this. After all, it is clear that we, the Jews, are the victims. Always. That applies to Jewish soldiers, too. True, we storm a foreign ship at sea, but turn at once into victims who have no choice but to defend ourselves against violent and incited anti-Semites.

It is impossible not to be reminded of the classic Jewish joke about the Jewish mother in Russia taking leave of her son, who has been called up to serve the Czar in the war against Turkey. "Don't overexert yourself'" she implores him, "Kill a Turk and rest. Kill another Turk and rest again..."

"But mother," the son interrupts, "What if the Turk kills me?"

"You?" exclaims the mother, "But why? What have you done to him?"

To any normal person, this may sound crazy. Heavily armed soldiers of an elite commando unit board a ship on the high seas in the middle of the night, from the sea and from the air - and they are the victims?

But there is a grain of truth there: they are the victims of arrogant and incompetent commanders, irresponsible politicians and the media fed by them. And, actually, of the Israeli public, since most of the people voted for this government or for the opposition, which is no different.

The "Exodus" affair was repeated, but with a change of roles. Now we are the British.

Somewhere, a new Leon Uris is planning to write his next book, "Exodus 2010". A new Otto Preminger is planning a film that will become a blockbuster. A new Paul Newman will star in it - after all, there is no shortage of talented Turkish actors.

MORE THAN 200 years ago, Thomas Jefferson declared that every nation must act with a "decent respect to the opinions of mankind." Israeli leaders have never accepted the wisdom of this maxim. They adhere to the dictum of David Ben-Gurion: "It is not important what the Gentiles say, it is important what the Jews do." Perhaps he assumed that the Jews would not act foolishly.

Making enemies of the Turks is more than foolish. For decades, Turkey has been our closest ally in the region, much more close than is generally known. Turkey could play, in the future, an important role as a mediator between Israel and the Arab-Muslim world, between Israel and Syria, and, yes, even between Israel and Iran. Perhaps we have succeeded now in uniting the Turkish people against us - and some say that this is the only matter on which the Turks are now united.

This is Chapter 2 of "Cast Lead". Then we aroused most countries in the world against us, shocked our few friends and gladdened our enemies. Now we have done it again, and perhaps with even greater success. World public opinion is turning against us.

This is a slow process. It resembles the accumulation of water behind a dam. The water rises slowly, quietly, and the change is hardly noticeable. But when it reaches a critical level, the dam bursts and the disaster is upon us. We are steadily approaching this point.

"Kill a Turk and rest," the mother says in the joke. Our government does not even rest. It seems that they will not stop until they have made enemies of the last of our friends.

(Parts of this article were published in Ma'ariv, Israel's second largest newspaper.)
(c) 2010 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

From Shared Sacrifice To Hedonism
By David Sirota

After Japan's 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, Franklin Roosevelt delivered a national address making eight references to the "sacrifice" that would be needed in the impending war and three mentions of the "self-denial" we would have to endure.

"Every single person in the United States is going to be affected," Roosevelt said. "(Business) profits are going to be cut down to a reasonably low level by taxation ... (Americans) will have to forgo higher wages ... All of us are used to spending money for things that we want, things, however, which are not absolutely essential. We will all have to forgo that kind of spending."

For its honesty and purpose, the speech remains the shining example of leadership. For its bravery in telling painful truths the country needed to hear and for Americans' subsequent rise to the challenge, the address today stands as a sad commemoration of a tragically lost ethos.

That is the only conclusion to draw when comparing Roosevelt's clarion call to those following the last decade's Pearl Harbor-like calamities. Rather than being encouraged to sacrifice or accept self-denial in the face of emergency, we are now instructed to simply embrace our inner hedonist.

That's no exaggeration. After the 9/11 attacks, President Bush told us not to prepare for austerity measures in the name of the common good. Instead, he exhorted citizens to "do your business around the country, fly and enjoy America's great destination spots - go down to Disney World in Florida, take your families and enjoy life the way we want it to be enjoyed." Then he gave us tax cuts and wars whose costs were rung up on the national credit card and passed on to future generations.

The same aversion to sacrifice now defines the response to the ecological Pearl Harbor on America's Gulf Coast.

In his first press conference since the oil spill, President Obama only briefly noted that the drilling at the center of the disaster highlights "the urgent need for this nation to develop clean, renewable sources of energy" and get off petroleum. But he avoided suggesting that this need requires any collective effort, abstinence or forfeiture.

"Americans can help," he said, "by continuing to visit the communities and beaches of the Gulf Coast."

Put in bumper-sticker terms, FDR's "Profits are Going to Be Cut" and "Forgo Higher Wages" have become Bush's "Go Shopping" and Obama's "Go Sunbathing" - and the question is why?

One obvious answer is presidential shortsightedness.

Bush characteristically refused to believe sacrifice is ever necessary, even during war. Obama, meanwhile, surely knows the Gulf disaster warrants sacrifice, but he cravenly refuses to discuss that fact for fear of being lampooned as a sweater-clad Jimmy Carter.

But, then, let's be honest - when it comes to difficult lifestyle changes that Pearl Harbor-sized crises demand, many of us are as willfully ignorant and plagued by denial as Dubya. And truth be told, had Obama asked us to do something - anything! - more than have fun in the sun, many Americans wouldn't have praised him as a new FDR; many indeed would have berated him as Carter incarnate.

Thus, as easy as it is to blame two flawed presidents for eschewing FDR-style leadership, we haven't seen that leadership, in part, because we don't seem to want it. And we don't want it because we've stopped valuing the concept of shared sacrifice.

That's the true change since the original Pearl Harbor attack - and it's a crying shame because while trips to Disney World or the beach are certainly fun, history suggests that genuine sacrifice will be the only way to solve our most pressing problems.
(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

Cowardly Progressives
By Joel S. Hirschhorn

After listening to a number of speeches at a national conference of progressives I come to this conclusion: Progressives are more than eager to take credit for electing President Obama and even to complain about the many failures of him and his administration. They overwhelmingly feel that his campaign promises were far, far better than what he has delivered. They are disappointed. They are frustrated. They are sad. But ultimately they are also cowards.

Why do I say this? Because they seem completely incapable of using straightforward language to criticize Obama. They resist saying he has lied to the public, betrayed progressives and sold out to corporate interests. Most importantly, they do not want to openly confess and proclaim that he has been a sham government reformer.

At a time when progressives are working hard to get candidates for the US Senate to oppose Democrats they deem unacceptable in current primaries, they show no willingness to open the door wide to creating the circumstances to get someone they view as a better progressive to compete against Obama and keep him from winning a second term.

In other words, they seem intellectually incapable of concluding that Obama no longer deserves their support based, for example, on the hard, painful facts that he has persisted in wasting the country's wealth and lives on two useless wars, he never cleaned up the regulatory system in the Department of Interior that allowed BP and other companies to escape effective regulation in the public interest, and he never fought for a public option in the health care reform legislation. While he was eager to bail out Wall Street he has shown no courage in saving Main Street. He has accomplished nothing effective to create private sector jobs and stands idly by as the middle class continues to slip down into the lower class.

Progressives admit that Obama is a consensus builder while hesitating to go all the way and scream that bipartisanship chasing and consensus building have overwhelmed adherence to reformist and populist principles. They seem blind to the reality that the success of the tea party movement results from a failure by Obama to seek necessary government reforms that would show him to be a true change agent working to create better rather than bigger government.

If progressives do not have the courage of their convictions how can they expect Obama to have the courage of his supposed convictions?

The hard truth for progressives is that Obama has shown that he is just another politician playing the same old, corruption games and caving in to many special and corporate interests. Obama surrounded himself with a number of people who had no progressive credentials whatsoever, including his Chief of Staff, Treasure Secretary and top economic advisor. No surprise therefore that the Obama White House plays all the same old games that maintains corrupt and dysfunctional government.

Just as so many Americans have woken up and are demanding criminal prosecution of BP and making them pay fully for all of the terrible environmental and economic impacts their greed has produced, progressives should be leading the nation in condemning Obama. Now is the time for progressives to admit that they are not getting the changes they were waiting for and never will get them from Obama. Progressives need to find the courage to openly say that one term is enough for Obama.

Better to create the conditions for someone else to become the reformer so many Americans want in the White House. Otherwise progressives may wake up to Republicans scoring very big in the coming mid-term elections and also offering up someone to take over the White House. Unless progressive are willing to take some risk they risk losing even more than they already have lost. Don't stay with a loser. Seek a real winner. Someone people in the tea party movement might support.
(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.

Beyond BP: Send A Message To Tony Hayward

"Tony Two-step" is too much, isn't he? Tony Hayward, I mean, the slick CEO of BP who keeps trying to dance his way around the public's fury over the oily mess he and other top executives have made.

"What the hell did we do to deserve this?" Hayward asked shortly after his faulty well exploded in April. Excuse us, Tony, but you're not the victim here - and this disaster is not the work of fate. Rather, the deadly gusher in the Gulf is a direct product of your reckless pursuit of profits. You waltzed around environmental protections, deliberately avoided installing relatively cheap safety equipment, and cavalierly lied about the likelihood of disaster and your ability to cope with it.

"It wasn't our accident," the CEO later declared, as oil was spreading. Wow, Tony, in one four-word sentence, you told two lies. First, BP owns the well, and it is your mess. Second, the mess was not an "accident," but the inevitable result of hubris and greed flowing straight from BP's executive suite.

"The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean," Hayward told the media, trying to sidestep the fact that BP's mess was fast becoming America's worst oil calamity. Indeed, Tony coolly explained that the amount of oil spewing from the well "is tiny in relation to the total water volume." This flabbergasting comment came only two weeks before it was revealed that the amount of gushing oil was 19 times more than BP had been claiming.

Eleven oil workers are dead, thousands of Gulf Coast people had had their livelihoods devastated, and unfathomable damage is being done to the Gulf ecology, yet this guy is still dancing around - and still drawing his $5-million-a-year paycheck. If you'd like to send a message to Tony, consider joining the grassroots boycott being organized at
(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.

Erasing Arizona
Dark-skinned Mural Faces Ordered "Lightened" to Appease Bigotry
By Randall Amster

and overt anti-immigrant climate these days. To outsiders it must seem like either the inmates have finally taken over the asylum, or alternatively that someone is finally standing up to an inept federal government. To those of us living here, it further appears as either a formalized decree of misguided policies that have long been in place below the radar, or a chance to finally push a brewing agenda to its logical and necessary extreme on a statewide scale. While all of these sentiments possess a kernel of truth, more to the point is that Arizona today has in many ways simply become a veritable theater of the absurd.

To wit: legalizing racial profiling, banning ethnic studies, dismissing teachers with accents, lauding "ethnic cleansing" policies, militarizing the border, seeking to abolish the 14th Amendment (the one that makes the bill of rights applicable to the states and makes anyone born here a citizen), and more. Still, all of this pales (pun intended) to a recent localized atrocity that speaks volumes to the climate of antipathy and purification being plied here in the desert. In a twisted feat of modernized and imposed "passing," artists in Prescott have been pressured to "lighten" the dark-skinned faces on a just-completed public mural due to a backlash inspired by a city council member who said that he failed to see "anything that ties the community into that mural."

In other words, the appearance of a brown-skinned face in the mural is not reflective of the community - despite the fact that demographic data indicates that people of color comprise over 15% of the regional population, and that in Arizona as a whole this demographic represents an estimated one-third of the state's inhabitants. In fact, and as a partial explanation for the mural flap, a 2008 population trend study commissioned by Yavapai College shows that the percentage of nonwhite residents in the area has doubled in the last twenty years and is continuing to rise. Mirroring patterns seen statewide, one can sense the backlash from people attempting to maintain the "old guard" status quo of well-defined power and race relations in the face of rapid change, as reflected in this comment from Prescott City Councilman and local radio host Steve Blair about the disputed mural:

"I am not a racist individual, but I will tell you depicting a black guy in the middle of that mural, based upon who's president of the United States today and based upon the history of this community when I grew up, we had four black families - who I have been very good friends with for years - to depict the biggest picture on that building as a black person, I would have to ask the question, 'Why?'"

As a follow-up to these remarks expressing a not-uncommon view about turning back the clock to a time when there were far fewer people of color here, Blair - who has a history of "past incidents involving race," as noted in a local editorial -- went on to opine:

"I'm not a racist by any stretch of the imagination, but whenever people start talking about diversity, it's a word I can't stand.... The focus doesn't need to be on what's different; the focus doesn't need to be on the minority all the time.... Art is in the eye of the beholder, but I say (the Miller Valley mural) looks like graffiti in L.A..... I don't see anything that ties the community into that mural."

Before we rightly condemn such notions, it should be noted that Blair was giving voice to a point of view that has dominated the political discourse here for generations. Indeed, R.E. Wall, director of the Prescott Downtown Mural Project, reported that he and the other artists experienced weeks of "tense working conditions" at the site, including regular racial slurs shouted from vehicles and passersby such as: "You're desecrating our school," "Get the ni--ers off the wall," and "Get the sp-c off the wall." The What message does this send to the school children (one of whom, in fact, was the model for the primary image that sparked the mural controversy) and others in the area with darker skin pigmentation? Just as depictions of emaciated models can encourage eating disorders and other dangerous practices in young women, so too can the impetus to "lighten" one's implicitly offensive and unwelcomed skin tone impact the mental and physical wellbeing of people of color. In addition to reflecting the current mood in Arizona due to its incipient climate of legislated intolerance, all of this harks back to the unfortunate era of "passing" by minorities in which whiteness was a desired norm that diverse individuals oftentimes attempted to achieve through both physiological and cultural affectations. In a modern version of this self-destructive phenomenon, Chris Hedges cogently described Michael Jackson as someone who "was so consumed by self-loathing he carved his African-American face into an ever-changing Caucasian death mask."

The history of race in America is complex, brutal, and unfortunately correlative of forces that continue to drive much of our politics today. Before the Civil Rights era, socially-enforced binaries of "white" and "colored" tended to dominate the landscape, creating for some great comfort in knowing who was who, but for others creating great pressures to either conform or be relegated as second-class. In recent years, the move toward a multicultural and multiracial society has abated some of the rigidity of the past, allowing more opportunity for self-definition and categorical mobility, but also contributing to a backlash among certain sectors that evidently long for a return to those simpler times when "white made right" and the rest of the herd knew its place in the pecking order.

I recently spoke with Dr. Anita Fernandez, professor of education at Prescott College and an expert on diversity, about these issues. She observed that in fact the mural was painted on "the most racially, ethnically, and socioeconomically diverse school" in the district, and further that "denying that children of color are representative of the school, and of our community, is based on a racist and intolerant ideology that is being fueled by Arizona's anti-immigrant and anti-Ethnic Studies laws." Further connecting the local controversy in Prescott to wider forces at work statewide, Fernandez continued:

"The 'whitening' of children's faces is paramount to erasing the existence of an ethnic group, otherwise known as ethnic cleansing. The reaction of some in our community, including city council member Steve Blair, demanding that the faces of the children of color be whitened is a testament to the fear of growing diversity in Arizona. The irony here is that recent legislation outlawing Ethnic Studies in public schools perpetuates the ignorance of Arizona residents like those fearful of a mural depicting non-white children as representative of their community. What we need is more education from multiple perspectives infused into our public schools to prevent ignorant reactions such as these."

In this sense, we can begin to see Arizona's revanchist and reactionary laws and policies as creating a self-fulfilling ethos of racism and intolerance. The more that racial and ethnic divisions are reinforced through policing patterns and educational practices, the wider the rifts become. As demonstrated in apartheid regimes, increasing gaps in political power and economic opportunity that are enforced with race-based laws wind up requiring more such laws as well as the overt use of force to maintain their utility over time. The result is a slippery slope in which the very thing that is most feared by those in power - namely an empowered minority that undermines the existing social order - inevitably comes to pass as the dominant class overreaches in their attempt to "hold on" and winds up delegitimizing itself in the process. In the end, this is essentially a path to self-imposed oblivion, and Arizona's old guard may well be in the process of replicating it. Unfortunately, in this process, no one prospers and the resultant wounds can take generations to heal.

I have previously contended that the political situation in Arizona raises the specter of a "new civil rights movement" in America. But it isn't simply about immigrants or people of Latino descent at this juncture - more broadly, it concerns the essential movement from a society of polarized binaries to one of complex complementarity. For all of its successes, the post-WWII Civil Rights era did not fully achieve this aim, and in fact even its more focused goal of abolishing overt legal discrimination seems to have fallen short in retrospect. Modern movements around race, class, gender, sexuality, and ethnicity, for example, generally are more deeply engaged with matters of alterity, empathy, and representation. In other words, they are arguing not merely for equal rights to participate in a flawed system, but more so for spaces in which to explore and expand the array of identity constructions that befit the emerging world in which we find ourselves.

This ineluctable process is threatening for some, both in moral and socio-economic terms. While we can strive to empathize with this, we also need to resist the policies of retrenchment that are attempting to reinforce an outmoded and unjust order. Forcing the "lightening" of skin color on a public mural is yet another episode in the larger narrative unfolding here in Arizona. Indeed, what really needs more light cast upon it right now are these instances of intolerance that seek to drive us all back into the darkness.
(c) 2010 Randall Amster J.D., Ph.D., teaches peace studies at Prescott College and serves as the executive director of the Peace & Justice Studies Association. His most recent book is the co-edited volume "Building Cultures of Peace: Transdisciplinary Voices of Hope and Action" (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009).

Ecology Of Great Lakes Under Assault
By James Donahue

All eyes are focused on the tragedy occurring this spring in the Gulf of Mexico but there is another ecological disaster unfolding on the Great Lakes, one of the largest reservoirs of fresh water left in the world.

As always, big industry is the culprit, the people are mad, and government appears either unwilling or incapable of stopping what is happening.

The assault is coming from four fronts:

--The $3.8 billion expansion of a giant oil refinery owned by British Petroleum in Indiana, on the southeastern short of Lake Michigan that will process oil from Canadian tar sand.

-- Kennecott Eagle Minerals, of Vancouver, Canada, is starting construction of a mining operation on the Yellow Dog Plains, a sacred Native American site near Marquette, Michigan, near the shore of Lake Superior. The company is exploring for nickel, copper, gold and zinc imbedded in sulfide ores.

--In the Tittabawassee flood plain along the Saginaw River in Lower Michigan, an estimated 5,000 acres of some of the richest farmland in the state and the site of large crop farming operations, has recently been found to be contaminated with dioxin from the operations of the Dow Chemical Company located in Midland, Michigan. The fish in the river and in Saginaw Bay also are found contaminated.

--Algae blooms from all of the chemical runoff from factory farming operations, including the large cattle, pig and chicken warehouses are creating dead zones on nearly all of the lakes. This problem has been strangely compounded by the introduction of zebra and quagga mussels in ballast tank water from foreign ships entering the lakes via the St. Lawrence Seaway.

On the surface some might say that all of the things listed above are "progress" and/or have been going on for years and nobody has had any complaints. But this is not true. The change in farming operations, for example, has gone through major changes in recent years. Some of the farms now pack thousands of head of livestock in small containment areas. The runoff from the animal waste, chemicals in that waste, and the feedlots are getting into the soil, streams and the lakes.

The produce farms, all in competition to produce a lot of food in as efficient means possible, are laced with chemicals that make plants grow faster and larger, chemicals that kill unwanted weeds and chemicals that kill unwanted pests and mold. These chemicals also are washing off the land and into nearby streams and eventually into the Great Lakes.

The BP Whiting oil refinery in Indiana is already the nation's fourth largest refinery and is being made even larger. In its present form the refinery is rated as the sixth largest source of industrial pollution in the Chicago area. The expanded plant to process oil from Canadian tar sands is expected to increase greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency claims the refinery has violated air pollution rules by modifying the plant to increase toxic emissions without adding pollution controls or seeking permits.

The State of Indiana granted the BP refinery a permit in 2007 that allows it to substantially increase ammonia releases and heavy metal releases into Lake Michigan. The ammonia and suspended solids promote algae blooms that suffocate fish, destroy fish habitat, rob other plants of sun and oxygen and bring about beach closings.

The Kennecott sulfur mining operation in Michigan's Upper Peninsula is a nightmare just waiting to happen. The act of extracting sulfide ore involves a mining technology that creates an acid mine drainage. The mine will be located next to a small brook that feeds into the Salmon Trout River, which in turn flows into Lake Superior. Sulfur turns into sulfuric acid when it comes in contact with water. This acid has the potential of killing the trout and other fish in the river, and in Lake Superior.

In addition to the acid threat, the heavy metals mixed in the sulfur ore will be leached out and easily enter the water and the ground throughout the Yellow Dog Plain. The material harvested from the mining operation is expected to be trucked, possibly to some other industrial facility or to waiting ships. The toxic dust from the trucking operation will be spread with the wind.

Local Native American tribes and other citizens have been protesting the Kennecott mine project. Their presence on the mining site has been in the news. Police have begun arresting the protesters and charging them with trespassing. The construction site at Eagle Rock is considered sacred ground to the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community.

The dioxin issue along the rich Tittabawassee River flood plain has shocked Michigan residents since it was recently uncovered in a University of Michigan study. The Michigan Department of Community Health says the problem is so serious it is recommending that no more food be grown on the farms in the area.

The Dow Chemical Company of Midland, which has been operating in the area for years, has been found responsible for dioxin emissions throughout a major part of the Saginaw Bay watershed.

In a Health Department statement, published in the Michigan Messenger, the chemicals found in the soil are "Polychlorinated dioxins (PCCDs) and polychlorinated furans (PCDFs) referred to collectively as 'Dioxin-like compounds' or DLCs are persistent compounds that build up in the body and remain stored in fat and other tissues for years."

"The health effects of DLCs include cancer, disruption of the endocrine, immune and reproductive systems and developmental problems in children."

A recent posting by a person identified only as Muskegon Critic in the website The Daily Koss, outlined the algae problem as it has been evolving on the Great Lakes.

The algae blooms began some years ago because of increased amounts of fertilizer containing nitrates, plus the run-off from things like laundry soaps and lawn chemicals containing phosphorous. These chemicals were natural food for algae, a simple marine life that some researchers identify as a form of bacteria. When it exists, it chokes off all other life in the water around it.

The Daily Koss article noted that when the zebra and quagga mussels arrived, they began feeding on the algae, which by then had virtually killed Lake Erie. The mussels multiplied from this rich food source and spread throughout the lakes, eventually cleaning the lakes not only of algae but all of the other tiny sea life that was part of the natural food chain for the fish.

All of the bad chemicals in the lakes collected in the bodies of the mollusks that eventually died, their remains collecting along the shores of the lakes, thus turning themselves into "a band of algae fertilizer right near the lakes edge," the story said.

"And now that the water is extremely clear, more sunlight can penetrate deeper into the water for even more algae." Thus new algae blooms are forming. What is worse, this blue-green algae variety is toxic to birds, fish and small mammals so it has no natural enemy.

We have not mentioned three other foreign invaders that also are threatening the natural fish of the lakes. They are the lamprey eels and alewives that also came from the ballast water of foreign ships. They attach to the sides of fish and drink their blood, eventually killing the fish.

The third destructive force coming soon to the lakes is the Asian jumping carp, a giant fish that has been working its way up the Mississippi River and is expected to enter the lakes through the canals and lock system that links to Lake Michigan. These are giant fish that can grow up to 100 pounds. They virtually eat all of the other fish in the lake. Efforts are being made to stop them at the locks.
(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.

In The Wake Of Health Reform, Abortion Under Attack
By Michelle Chen

When health care reform finally limped past the finish line on Capitol Hill, the compromises littering the final bill left many activists disillusioned, but some hoped that action on the state level could keep the moving forward. On reproductive rights, however, it looks like the states are taking the lead in pushing back a woman's right to choose.

This year, amid a resurgence of right-wing activism, hundreds of bills targeting abortion have been introduced in state legislatures around the country, many of which will deeply impact the rights of poor women of color. Several conservative states have passed laws to block coverage of abortion under the insurance exchanges established under the overhaul-portending a tightening of abortion access even if it is privately financed.

Oklahoma lawmakers have passed several controversial bills, including constitutionally dubious measures that would subject women to the psychological torment of having an ultrasound and hearing a description of the fetus before undergoing an abortion.

The seeds of the current backlash, the New York Times reports, were sown with a 2007 Supreme Court decision on partial-birth abortions that chipped away at the legal framework for legal abortion under Roe v. Wade. It's all adding up:

About 370 state bills regulating abortion were introduced in 2010, compared with about 350 in each of the previous five years, and 250 a year in the early 1990s, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights. At least 24 of this year's bills have passed, and the final total may reach the high of 2005, when states passed 34 laws, said Elizabeth Nash, a public policy associate at the institute....

The assault on abortion rights will be felt most acutely among poor women. On RH Reality Check, Pamela Merritt dissects the cruel psychological manipulation underlying Missouri's Abortion Restriction Bill:

The Abortion Restriction bill requires abortion clinics to post signs that promise state-backed assistance should a woman carry a child to term and assistance in caring for that child once born. These promised services include health care, housing, transportation, food, clothing, education, and job training. Given the fact that the Missouri legislature slashed funding to most of the programs that would have provided those services, those claims and promises aren't worth the poster-board they will be printed on.

By tying the refusal of an abortion to social services, Missouri masks its punishment of poor women as a "reward" for keeping an unwanted pregnancy. Adding insult to injury, they've also betrayed the same promise by tearing apart the safety net that should be available to all women, regardless of how they choose to exercise their reproductive rights.

Missouri is a microcosm for a slow-burning crisis in reproductive health that targets poor communities and communities of color, in which abortion has become more prevalent in recent years.

According to Raising Women's Voices, while the federal subsidies and Medicaid expansions will broaden women's access to the mainstream health care system, the new benefits come at the expense of reproductive health for the most vulnerable:

* Women on Medicaid and those who will become eligible for Medicaid in 2014 will not be able to use their coverage for abortion services in most cases, except in the circumstances stated above, or if they live in one of the 17 states that use state-only dollars to provide abortion coverage under Medicaid.

* Low-income women receiving care at Community Health Centers still will not be able to receive federally-subsidized abortion services, making it more difficult for CHCs to provide this care.

* * New funding for ineffective abstinence-only sex education. Title V, the federal abstinence-only-until-marriage program is resuscitated and given $50 million a year for five years.

Additionally, immigrants, regardless of legal status, will continue to face discriminatory restrictions under the pending health reforms. This includes a five-year mandatory wait to qualify for federal Medicaid services for green card holders, along with a total ban for undocumented women.

The health care system is at the cusp of major changes in the coming years, delivering a mix of help and hurt. But for the women whose reproductive health needs have always been ignored in Washington, the biggest change they'll see could be from bad to worse.
(c) 2010 Michelle Chen's work has appeared in AirAmerica, Women's International Perspective, Extra!, Colorlines and Alternet. She is a regular contributor to In These Times' workers' rights blog, Working In These Times. She also blogs at

On The Vilification Of Helen Thomas
By Robert Scheer

The media tirade against Helen Thomas is as illogical as it is hysterical. The few sentences uttered by her were, as she quickly acknowledged, wrong-deeply so, I would add. But they cannot justify the road-rage destruction of the dean of the Washington press corps. Suddenly this heroic woman who broke so many gender barriers and dared to challenge presidential arrogance was reduced to nothing more than the stereotypical anti-Israel Arab that it is so fashionable to hate.

"Thomas, of Lebanese ancestry and almost 90, has never been shy about her anti-Israel views," writes Richard Cohen in The Washington Post, in a non sequitur reference to a reporter born in Winchester, Ky., in 1920 when few-Jews included-supported a Jewish state in Palestine and whose parents were Christians. Obviously Cohen, who attacks Thomas for "revealing how very little she knew" about the history of Israel, is unaware that Lebanese Christians have been the staunchest allies of the Jewish state. Indeed, they provided the shock troops who, under Israeli cover, massacred the unarmed inhabitants of Palestinian refugee camps. To attribute Thomas' views on Israel to her Lebanese parents is no less offensive than it would be to suggest that a Jewish reporter cannot be objective because, as in my case, his mother escaped anti-Semitism in Russia.

Thomas' fall from grace as a media icon began with her daring to criticize the abysmal coverage of the buildup to the Iraq war. How ironic that her opposition to the U.S. invasion is offered as an example of hostility to Israel when that war did so much to increase the power of Iran, Israel's most significant enemy in the region. After all, Israel claims that the presumed military threat from Gaza is fueled by Iran, which enjoys much support in Shiite-led Iraq-previously governed by Tehran's archenemy Saddam Hussein.

As someone who has long supported a two-state solution for the historically disputed land of Palestine, I have no trouble condemning Thomas' ill-considered remarks that Israeli Jews should go back to the lands from where they came. I am opposed to denying legitimacy to desperate immigrants seeking a better life anywhere, be they in Arizona or the Middle East. What I don't understand is why this basic respect for human rights doesn't apply to the people who call themselves Palestinian and who are illegal immigrants not as a matter of birth but only in the political calculus of those who find their indigenous presence at best an inconvenience and at worst an insolvable threat. Why is it morally acceptable to deny Palestinians the right to full citizenship in their birthplace and instead insist, as Israel's leaders often have, that they should be content to live under the flag of nations like Egypt, Syria and Jordan that have long oppressed them?

Nor is it relevant to lecture the Palestinians that the current rulers of Jordan might be more benign overlords than when they slaughtered Palestinians in the Black September days of 1970-71. Or that they should be comfortable under the rule of Egypt, whose leaders had previously governed Gaza so oppressively and now join in the cruel blockade of its economy. Demands that Palestinians surrender their national aspirations are no more valid than Thomas' outburst calling for Jews to trust the modern governments of Poland and Germany.

What the Thomas affair allowed was the repeat incantation of the Holocaust as the excuse for punishing not the Europeans who committed those unspeakable crimes, but rather the Palestinians, who had nothing whatsoever to do with what remains as the greatest moral stain on the history of people claiming to be civilized. It was not Palestinians or Muslim fundamentalists who ran the crematoriums, but rather highly educated and mostly Christian Europeans.

For that reason, one must support the right of Jews to live securely in the nation of Israel, the place they claim as their historical homeland. But not without consideration of the rights of their fellow Semites, the mostly non-Jewish Palestinians who happened to already be living there. On that point the apology Thomas issued got it right: "I deeply regret my comments I made last week regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians. They do not reflect my heartfelt belief that peace will come to the Middle East only when all parties recognize the need for mutual respect and tolerance."

Now all that is left is for those in the media and government who have shown so little respect and tolerance for the Palestinian side of the dispute to offer some apologies for decades of indifference to, and often contempt for, those victims as well.
(c) 2010 Robert Scheer is the editor of Truthdig. A journalist with over 30 years experience, Scheer has built his reputation on the strength of his social and political writing. His columns have appeared in newspapers across the country, and his in-depth interviews have made headlines. He is the author, most recently, of "The Pornography of Power: How Defense Hawks Hijacked 9/11 and Weakened America," published by Twelve Books.

Labels Protect Us From Thinking
By Case Wagenvoord

My loathing of labels is a product of the eighteen years I spent as a special ed. teacher in Brooklyn. It was in that setting that I saw how thoroughly labels dehumanize. I taught autistic children and was forced to spend hours listening to administrators drone on about strategies for teaching "the autistic child," as opposed to teaching the human child. The children I taught were a diverse lot, yet the autistic label reduced them to a single, homogenous category.

In truth, the autistic label was a death warrant for a child. Reading evaluation reports for incoming students it was not at all uncommon to read about a pediatrician telling parents of a newly-diagnoses child that their child would have the mind of a two-year-old for the rest of its life, a gross misstatement of fact.

It's easy to spin a label. If I told someone I taught autistic children, they would react as if I were a candidate for sainthood. If, on the other hand, I said I taught children with pervasive developmental delays (a more accurate description of what I did) the reaction was, "Oh! That's nice."

The advantage of the label is that it saves people the trouble of thinking, and in our age of collective brain rot this is a desirable quality to have. Labels also save us the pain-in-the-ass effort of trying to see others as human beings in all of their nuanced complexity. It is far better to hang a label on them so we can slip into our comfortable for-or-against-us mode of binary thinking.

Without labels power would be crippled. To thrive power needs both labels and numbers. What it can't quantify it labels and in doing so it dehumanizes both its subjects and its enemies. Both numbers and labels are key ingredients in the firewall that protects power from the fecund maelstrom that is life.

Labels are so much easier to kill or oppress. It's easier to bomb a terrorist than to bomb a human being, and the vaguer and more ill defined a label is, the easier it is to drop the bombs. Without labels there could be no Pentagon, no Israel, no military-industrial complex and no War on Terror. Without labels there could be no violence. Perhaps this is why the spinning of labels appears to be hardwired our collective brain.

The upside of labels is that they bankrupt empires since an empire can only conquer and oppress a label. One could argue that that is their sole contributions to a decent world.
(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

Driving In the Fast Lane; But Not For Long!
By Mike Folkerth

Good Morning Middle North America; your King of Simple News is on the air.

Without attempting to step on any toes or raise any hackles, Cathy and I returned safely from our short trip to Salt Lake City; sort of. Physically we are fine; emotionally...I'm not so sure.

For small town people like us, negotiating I-15 on Friday afternoon (which traverses north to south along the Salt Lake Valley) is akin to entering the Indianapolis 500 without benefit of any pre-racing experience. Throw in constant construction including lane blockages and merging 70 MPH traffic every couple of miles and you have a sort of madness going on that is difficult to describe.

We attempted to escape the demolition derby experience on the return trip by leaving fairly early on Sunday morning. No dice. Apparently several thousand other folks had the same idea.

Thankfully many people in America find spending each day confined to a sea of never ending traffic and humanity as a desirable environment. I just don't happen to be one of those people.

Where is the end in this quest to grow a city in size? Not so many years ago Salt Lake City was a slow paced and easy to maneuver town. Today they are attempting to add two more lanes in each direction (to the already crowded four lanes) in order to prevent gridlock.

Millions upon millions of dollars are spent annually for the construction of massive bridges and overpasses in an attempt to keep the traffic moving and those federal highway dollars gobbled up.

Our dependence on growth unfortunately has no planned boundaries. Large cities must add thousands of new residents per year to remain solvent. As the people are added, the jobs materialize to increase infrastructure in the way of sewer, water, power, gas, schools, roads, police, fireman, shopping, and government to accommodate that growth.

What is not being added are the BASE JOBS that would sustain the development. Growth is living off growth with no plan for the eventual slow down or stoppage.

One of my homespun quotes is, "Exponential growth is the plan; it ain't possible is the problem." At some point, this physical impossibility of expanding in a finite environment materializes as unemployment. That point in time appears to be right now. During a time when summer employment should be skyrocketing; it isn't. In fact, nearly all job gains of any nature have been based in the government sector.

Unemployment insurance has been extended through November and about that same time the stimulus funds will have been exhausted. I said the "funds" will be exhausted, but certainly not the debt that was incurred to produce those funds.

So what's the answer? More stimulus fund debt? More government employment? Adding four new lanes instead of two? Start up a couple of more wars?

Of course, saying yes to any of the above questions would not create a solution. There is no solution to an impossible problem. The time for an actual solution to have been trotted out was passed many moons ago and would have required a massive paradigm shift in the foundational premise of our economic underpinnings.

But, since humans aren't all that big on massive paradigm shifts, rather than deal with reality, we prefer for reality to deal with us. That reality at this stage of the game is that our growth model is playing out and no longer produces the necessary employment to keep Americans working.

At the same time, our monetary system which was also totally dependent on exponential economic growth, is failing around the planet.

While I listen to the ultra complex debates exchanged among the academic anointed ones regarding the issues of employment, environment, monetary policy, immigration, federal, state, and private debt, world trade, energy shortages, capitalism, socialism, communism, etc., etc., etc., I can explain the entire process that we are suffering through in seven words; "Anything that can't go on forever; doesn't."
(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...

"Ann Coulter, the woman who single-handedly put the lie to the foolish contention
that the succubae were mythical."
~~~ Hank Blakely

The Christian Fascists Are Growing Stronger
By Chris Hedges

Tens of millions of Americans, lumped into a diffuse and fractious movement known as the Christian right, have begun to dismantle the intellectual and scientific rigor of the Enlightenment. They are creating a theocratic state based on "biblical law," and shutting out all those they define as the enemy. This movement, veering closer and closer to traditional fascism, seeks to force a recalcitrant world to submit before an imperial America. It champions the eradication of social deviants, beginning with homosexuals, and moving on to immigrants, secular humanists, feminists, Jews, Muslims and those they dismiss as "nominal Christians"-meaning Christians who do not embrace their perverted and heretical interpretation of the Bible. Those who defy the mass movement are condemned as posing a threat to the health and hygiene of the country and the family. All will be purged.

The followers of deviant faiths, from Judaism to Islam, must be converted or repressed. The deviant media, the deviant public schools, the deviant entertainment industry, the deviant secular humanist government and judiciary and the deviant churches will be reformed or closed. There will be a relentless promotion of Christian "values," already under way on Christian radio and television and in Christian schools, as information and facts are replaced with overt forms of indoctrination. The march toward this terrifying dystopia has begun. It is taking place on the streets of Arizona, on cable news channels, at tea party rallies, in the Texas public schools, among militia members and within a Republican Party that is being hijacked by this lunatic fringe.

Elizabeth Dilling, who wrote "The Red Network" and was a Nazi sympathizer, is touted as required reading by trash-talk television hosts like Glenn Beck. Thomas Jefferson, who favored separation of church and state, is ignored in Christian schools and soon will be ignored in Texas public school textbooks. The Christian right hails the "significant contributions" of the Confederacy. Sen. Joseph McCarthy, who led the anti-communist witch hunts of the 1950s, has been rehabilitated, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is defined as part of the worldwide battle against Islamic terror. Legislation like the new Jim Crow laws of Arizona is being considered by 17 other states.

The rise of this Christian fascism, a rise we ignore at our peril, is being fueled by an ineffectual and bankrupt liberal class that has proved to be unable to roll back surging unemployment, protect us from speculators on Wall Street, or save our dispossessed working class from foreclosures, bankruptcies and misery. The liberal class has proved useless in combating the largest environmental disaster in our history, ending costly and futile imperial wars or stopping the corporate plundering of the nation. And the gutlessness of the liberal class has left it, and the values it represents, reviled and hated.

The Democrats have refused to repeal the gross violations of international and domestic law codified by the Bush administration. This means that Christian fascists who achieve power will have the "legal" tools to spy on, arrest, deny habeas corpus to, and torture or assassinate American citizens-as does the Obama administration.

Those who remain in a reality-based world often dismiss these malcontents as buffoons and simpletons. They do not take seriously those, like Beck, who pander to the primitive yearnings for vengeance, new glory and moral renewal. Critics of the movement continue to employ the tools of reason, research and fact to challenge the absurdities propagated by creationists who think they will float naked into the heavens when Jesus returns to Earth. The magical thinking, the flagrant distortion in interpreting the Bible, the contradictions that abound within the movement's belief system and the laughable pseudoscience, however, are impervious to reason. We cannot convince those in the movement to wake up. It is we who are asleep.

Those who embrace this movement see life as an epic battle against forces of evil and Satanism. The world is black and white. They need to feel, even if they are not, that they are victims surrounded by dark and sinister groups bent on their destruction. They need to believe they know the will of God and can fulfill it, especially through violence. They need to sanctify their rage, a rage that lies at the core of the ideology. They seek total cultural and political domination. They are using the space within the open society to destroy it. These movements work within the confining rules of the secular state because they have no choice. The intolerance they promote is muted in the public assurances of their slickest operators. Given enough power, and they are working hard to get it, any such cooperation will vanish. The demand for total control and for a Christian nation and the refusal to permit any dissent are on display within their inner sanctums. These pastors have established within their churches tiny, despotic fiefdoms, and they seek to replicate these little tyrannies on a larger scale.

Many of the tens of millions within the Christian right live on the edge of poverty. The Bible, interpreted for them by pastors whose connection with God means they cannot be questioned, is their handbook for daily life. The rigidity and simplicity of their belief are potent weapons in the fight against their own demons and the struggle to keep their lives on track. The reality-based world, one where Satan, miracles, destiny, angels and magic did not exist, battered them like driftwood. It took their jobs and destroyed their future. It rotted their communities. It flooded their lives with alcohol, drugs, physical violence, deprivation and despair. And then they discovered that God has a plan for them. God will save them. God intervenes in their lives to promote and protect them. The emotional distance they have traveled from the real world to the world of Christian fantasy is immense. And the rational, secular forces, those that speak in the language of fact and evidence, are hated and ultimately feared, for they seek to pull believers back into "the culture of death" that nearly destroyed them.

There are wild contradictions within this belief system. Personal independence is celebrated alongside an abject subservience to leaders who claim to speak for God. The movement says it defends the sanctity of life and advocates the death penalty, militarism, war and righteous genocide. It speaks of love and promotes fear of damnation and hate. There is a terrifying cognitive dissonance in every word they utter.

The movement is, for many, an emotional life raft. It is all that holds them together. But the ideology, while it regiments and orders lives, is merciless. Those who deviate from the ideology, including "backsliders" who leave these church organizations, are branded as heretics and subjected to little inquisitions, which are the natural outgrowth of messianic movements. If the Christian right seizes the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government, these little inquisitions will become big inquisitions.

The cult of masculinity pervades the movement. Feminism and homosexuality, believers are told, have rendered the American male physically and spiritually impotent. Jesus, for the Christian right, is a muscular man of action, casting out demons, battling the Antichrist, attacking hypocrites and castigating the corrupt. This cult of masculinity, with its glorification of violence, is deeply appealing to those who feel disempowered and humiliated. It vents the rage that drove many people into the arms of the movement. It encourages them to lash back at those who, they are told, seek to destroy them. The paranoia about the outside world is stoked through bizarre conspiracy theories, many championed in books such as Pat Robertson's "The New World Order," a xenophobic rant that includes attacks on liberals and democratic institutions.

The obsession with violence pervades the popular novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. In their apocalyptic novel, "Glorious Appearing," based on LaHaye's interpretation of biblical prophecies about the Second Coming, Christ returns and eviscerates the flesh of millions of nonbelievers with the sound of his voice. There are long descriptions of horror and blood, of how "the very words of the Lord had superheated their blood, causing it to burst through their veins and skin." Eyes disintegrate. Tongues melt. Flesh dissolves. The Left Behind series, of which this novel is a part, contains the best-selling adult novels in the country.

Violence must be used to cleanse the world. These Christian fascists are called to a perpetual state of war. "Any teaching of peace prior to [Christ's] return is heresy..." says televangelist James Robinson. Natural disasters, terrorist attacks, instability in Israel and even the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are seen as glorious signposts. The war in Iraq is predicted, believers insist, in the ninth chapter of the Book of Revelations, where four angels "which are bound in the great river Euphrates will be released to slay the third part of men." The march is inevitable and irreversible and requires everyone to be ready to fight, kill and perhaps die. Global war, even nuclear war, is not to be feared, but welcomed as the harbinger of the Second Coming. And leading the avenging armies is an angry, violent Messiah who dooms hundreds of millions of apostates to a horrible and gruesome death.

The Christian right, while embracing a form of primitivism, seeks the imprint of law and science to legitimate its absurd mythologies. Its members seek this imprint because, despite their protestations to the contrary, they are a distinctly modern, totalitarian movement. They seek to co-opt the pillars of the Enlightenment in order to abolish the Enlightenment. Creationism, or "intelligent design," like eugenics for the Nazis or "Soviet" science for Stalin, must be introduced into the mainstream as a valid scientific discipline-hence the rewriting of textbooks. The Christian right defends itself in the legal and scientific jargon of modernity. Facts and opinions, once they are used "scientifically" to support the irrational, become interchangeable. Reality is no longer based on the gathering of facts and evidence. It is based on ideology. Facts are altered. Lies become true. Hannah Arendt called it "nihilistic relativism," although a better phrase might be collective insanity.

The Christian right has, for this reason, its own creationist "scientists" who use the language of science to promote anti-science. It has fought successfully to have creationist books sold in national park bookstores at the Grand Canyon and taught in public schools in states such as Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas. Creationism shapes the worldview of hundreds of thousands of students in Christian schools and colleges. This pseudoscience claims to have proved that all animal species, or at least their progenitors, fit on Noah's ark. It challenges research in AIDS and pregnancy prevention. It corrupts and discredits the disciplines of biology, astronomy, geology, paleontology and physics.

Once creationists can argue on the same platform as geologists, asserting that the Grand Canyon was not created 6 billion years ago but 6,000 years ago by the great flood that lifted up Noah's ark, we have lost. The acceptance of mythology as a legitimate alternative to reality is a body blow to the rational, secular state. The destruction of rational and empirically based belief systems is fundamental to the creation of all totalitarian ideologies. Certitude, for those who could not cope with the uncertainty of life, is one of the most powerful appeals of the movement. Dispassionate intellectual inquiry, with its constant readjustments and demand for evidence, threatens certitude. For this reason incertitude must be abolished.

"What convinces masses are not facts," Arendt wrote in "Origins of Totalitarianism," "and not even invented facts, but only the consistency of the system which they are presumably part. Repetition, somewhat overrated in importance because of the common belief in the masses' inferior capacity to grasp and remember, is important because it convinces them of consistency in time."

Augustine defined the grace of love as Volo ut sis-I want you to be. There is, he wrote, an affirmation of the mystery of the other in relationships based on love, an affirmation of unexplained and unfathomable differences. Relationships based on love recognize that others have a right to be. These relationships accept the sacredness of difference. This acceptance means that no one individual or belief system captures or espouses an absolute truth. All struggle, in their own way, some outside of religious systems and some within them, to interpret mystery and transcendence.

The sacredness of the other is anathema for the Christian right, which cannot acknowledge the legitimacy of other ways of being and believing. If other belief systems, including atheism, have moral validity, the infallibility of the movement's doctrine, which constitutes its chief appeal, is shattered. There can be no alternative ways to think or to be. All alternatives must be crushed.

Ideological, theological and political debates are useless with the Christian right. It does not respond to a dialogue. It is impervious to rational thought and discussion. The naive attempts to placate a movement bent on our destruction, to prove to it that we too have "values," only strengthens its legitimacy and weakness our own. If we do not have a right to be, if our very existence is not legitimate in the eyes of God, there can be no dialogue. At this point it is a fight for survival.

Those gathered into the arms of this Christian fascist movement are desperately struggling to survive in an increasingly hostile environment. We failed them; we owe them more: This is their response. The financial dislocations, the struggles with domestic and sexual abuse, the battle against addictions, the poverty and the despair that many in the movement endure are tragic, painful and real. They have a right to their rage and alienation. But they are also being used and manipulated by forces that seek to dismantle what is left of our democracy and abolish the pluralism that was once the hallmark of our society.

The spark that could set this conflagration ablaze could be lying in the hands of a small Islamic terrorist cell. It could be in the hands of greedy Wall Street speculators who gamble with taxpayer money in the elaborate global system of casino capitalism. The next catastrophic attack, or the next economic meltdown, could be our Reichstag fire. It could be the excuse used by these totalitarian forces, this Christian fascism, to extinguish what remains of our open society.

Let us not stand meekly at the open gates of the city waiting passively for the barbarians. They are coming. They are slouching toward Bethlehem. Let us shake off our complacency and cynicism. Let us openly defy the liberal establishment, which will not save us, to demand and fight for economic reparations for our working class. Let us reincorporate these dispossessed into our economy. Let us give them a reality-based hope for the future. Time is running out. If we do not act, American fascists, clutching Christian crosses, waving American flags and orchestrating mass recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance, will use this rage to snuff us out.
(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."

What Lethal Arrogance Looks Like
By David Michael Green

I frequently find it useful to analogize countries to individuals. States will often have personalities and behavior sets quite similar to human beings.

That means they can sometimes be noble and do wonderful things. But it also means they can be petty, greedy, violent and worse.

If you've ever known what an arrogant bully looks like, you should find the personality of Israel today quite familiar. But if you've ever really understood what almost always lays behind a bully's almost always faux arrogance, you also might understand why Israel acts as it does.

In Israel's case there are some very good explanations (which is not necessarily the same thing as justifications) - both contemporary and especially historical - for attitudes that increasingly veer into paranoia, expressed in an international behavior set that too often takes the form of militant violence. These policies are, however, far more than most Israelis recognize ultimately to their own detriment, apart from the more obvious death and destruction brought down on others.

But those in the international community who are contemptuous or dismissive of Israel's very real security concerns are either analytically weak, normatively biased, or worse. That 'worse', unfortunately, is only somewhat less prevalent in the parlors of 'civilized' society today than it ever and always has been, and needs little provocation to rear its ugly little anti-Semitic head.

Still, regardless of what might happen tomorrow, we should be clear about what happened yesterday. If history has produced a people more afflicted than the Jews have been with racism, violence and even genocide, I don't know who that could be. Jews everywhere, including those in Israel, have come by their fears honestly. It is also undeniably the case that Israel remains to this day surrounded in a sea of mostly hostile neighbors, nearly all of whom were not so long ago committed to the country's annihilation. That is far less true now than it was in 1948 or 1973, but it is still true for Iran and Syria and Hamas and Hezbollah, among other actors in the region. And for Egypt and Jordan and the rest, the era of hostility is still not that far in the past, by historical standards.

And thus, though I am as little a fan of nationalism as anyone is ever likely to meet, I nevertheless believe it to be beyond doubt that there has to be a Jewish state in the world, and I don't even object to it being armed to the teeth with defensive and deterrent weaponry. It seems to me that there are few lessons of history which express themselves more clearly than this one, and believing otherwise risks the prospect of renewed violence and even genocide.

That said, had it been up to me in 1948, I might not have placed that state in Palestine, and I certainly wouldn't have countenanced the forcible ejection of Palestinian residents from their homes. But now it is 2010, not 1948 or 1880, and Israel is not going anywhere. Nor should it, for any such solution would be far worse than the problem it seeks to address. Countries like Egypt and Jordan have reluctantly made peace with that fact, and it would be helpful if others followed suit.

Regrettably, however, and notwithstanding a set of legitimate historical security concerns, nobody makes it harder to love Israel than Israel itself. This week's murderous incident in the Mediterranean is a shock to the senses, an offense to humanity, and an outrage piled on top of further outrages. It is difficult to imagine any circumstances that could justify the behavior of Israel in this episode, in light of the alternative non-violent solutions so readily available even if the country wanted to prevent to flotilla from ever reaching Gaza. As one Israeli member of parliament herself said, "This had nothing to do with security. The armaments for Hamas were not coming from this flotilla."

But, of course, this week's events are only the top layer of a very poisonous cake. The existence of the flotilla points to a deeper Israeli outrage, which in turn is predicated on an even deeper one yet. There would have been no naval relief caravan to Gaza if there had been no need to bring relief to a blockaded Gaza in the first place. And there would be no Gaza as we know it today had there not been a continued illegal and oppressive occupation of Palestine for the last forty years.

This occupation has been incalculably onerous and humiliating for Palestinians. Moreover, despite the fact that Israel has withdrawn previously from the Sinai and Gaza, the character of the occupation in the West Bank and East Jerusalem telegraphs only one intention. You don't build houses and whole cities in places where you have strategic security concerns. You build military outposts instead. The avowed agenda of the far right in Israel, which includes the government, is to fulfill some insane biblical promise (pardon the redundancy of terms there) that the Jews should come to possess lands in the region constituting a Greater Israel, stretching in the minds of the most deluded from the Nile to the Euphrates. Building towns and housing settlements for forty years in the West Bank and East Jerusalem not only smacks of colonialism, it is nearly impossible to construe it otherwise.

One of the great ironies of the Middle East debacle is the degree to which this behavior hurts Israel, not just those whom it represses and whose land it occupies. With the possible exception of the Golan Heights, there is almost zero strategic value in possessing these lands. Like America under the Bush administration, Israel has simply now become a country of many humane and decent people whose foreign policy has been hijacked by radical sociopaths belonging in insane asylums and jails, not world capitals. (Although that characterization of Israeli public opinion is less true today, as attitudes have hardened since the Second Intifada, and the disconnect between the public and its leadership is less profound - another of the region's ironies.) But for a long time prior to that, there was a good deal of robust debate and sentiment for peace in Israel, certainly far more than there ever was in the United States.

What radical regressives (and in Israel we are talking about regressing 6000 years, far more than any Jerry Falwell ever dreamed) appreciate more than can be imagined is the power of fear, and how cycles of violence can be mobilized to make people do stupid things they wouldn't otherwise. Dick Cheney, to choose only the most prominent example, wouldn't even exist outside this simple premise. And, while there is plenty of blame to go around for the century of violence in the region, Israel has now been led by radical criminals to the place where it is the chief purveyor of that violence, which has become both the biggest stain on its international reputation and, again ironically, its own biggest security threat through the radicalization of adversaries and the alienation of allies.

The recent invasion of Lebanon (not to mention the one before that), the invasion of Gaza and the attack this week on the relief flotilla all represent almost wholly unjustified acts of aggression on Israel's part. While any state can always muster up some pretext for war ("Saddam has WMD!"), and Israel has done so in each of these cases, what has become clear is that the country has left the earlier epoch of its history in which it fought mostly defensive wars of existential urgency (1948, 1967, 1973), and has transitioned to an era in which it is now fighting rudely aggressive wars, using outrageous weapons and tactics, and offering increasingly weak justifications for those wars (which justifications are anyway are rooted in the Palestinian people's reaction to the ongoing provocation of an illegal and oppressive occupation).

In addition to the carnage suffered by others, in this way Israel has become its own worst enemy. I mean that quite literally, and not just in the sense of the moral outrage of the international community. The sad truth is that nothing threatens Israeli security more today than the stupidity, greed, aggression, inhumanity, and lately sheer arrogance of its foreign policy.

People are beginning to notice in places where they had not before. That big ol' country to the north is less a turkey than a canary in a coal mine right now. Israel has long had good relations with Turkey, certainly its best with any Islamic country. But the Israelis seem almost willfully intent on alienating their friends in Anatolia, and they are succeeding admirably, especially this week. Meanwhile, the British prime minister sharply criticized the attack, and the US did that rarest of things, letting a (toned way down, to be sure) resolution emerge from the United Nations Security Council.

Likewise even in America. I never go in for the right-wing supposed honor code violations that call for heated response to the impudence of this Cuban dictator or that French president who has the stones to diss American policy, especially when their greatest sin is telling the truth. But I confess that it pissed me off considerably when the Israeli government announced new housing construction for East Jerusalem at just the moment when the American vice president was visiting. America (foolishly, to some extent) gives Israel a considerable amount of (my tax) dollars every year, and jeopardizes a good deal of its own security by the unpopular choice of backing Israel in the region. Would it be too much to ask that Israel, in return, not publically stick its finger right in our eye? That announcement of new housing construction, expressly contrary to the articulated position of the US government, wasn't just a bad policy choice. That was a willful expression of supreme arrogance.

The list of damages done goes on. Israel seems increasingly intent on spending all its remaining virtues to cover the initial bad check of its turn toward colonialism. It is eating itself from within, in order to avoid confronting its demons. The war crimes documented in the Goldstone Report on the Gaza invasion give one example, the reaction to which among the South African Jewish community (which must be much like the American one) was initially to try banning Mr. Goldstone, an internationally highly regarded jurist, from attending his own grandson's bar mitzvah. Meanwhile, no less than a former deputy speaker of the Knesset has expressed serious concerns about the far-right's successful attempts at domestic censorship of any critical discourse in Israeli society.

Perhaps the most telling episode, however, has been Israeli reaction to the Saudi peace plan of 2002, which was reintroduced in 2007 and endorsed unanimously by the twenty-two members of the Arab League. The proffered bargain gave Israel everything it originally wanted - peace, recognition by its neighbors, normalized relations - and even more, since it contemplated a return to wider 1967 borders, not those lesser ones detailed by the 1947 UN resolution which partitioned Palestine and gave birth to the Israeli state. In exchange for this, Israel had only to recognize a Palestinian state and agree to just treatment of Palestinian refugees. It is a measure of the pathology that has overtaken contemporary Israel today that the government has never even responded to this grand deal - which represents a monumental leap for the Arab community - although the current prime minister rejected it outright when he was the opposition leader in 2007.

In short, the situation is grim, as this week's events underscore. The cycle of tit-for-tat response has metastasized into a pathology of violence and recalcitrance in Israel's government, and among some parts of the Arab and Muslim world. Shooting civilians on a ship in the middle of a relief mission is merely the logical extension of such a process.

And yet, these events could perhaps also produce some salutary effects in the end. Barack Obama clearly has little use for Israel's antics, but is also clearly the most gutless creature on the planet with the possible exception of a few especially reticent amoeba hiding under a rock somewhere in New Zealand. However, Israel's arrogance and provocations may create the space for even the feckless Obama to apply some real pressure. That doesn't seem likely, given the power of the Israel Lobby in Washington, and given Obama's overall uselessness as president, but it also seems more probable today than ever in my lifetime. Israel has simply gone crazy, and by doing so it is making it increasingly difficult for others to stand by it.

My wider hope is that the Palestinians have stumbled into a more effective way to bring pressure toward a passably equitable solution to the conflict. I deplore violence, but I understand why Palestinians have employed it, including the use of terrorism (notwithstanding that the term has been distorted and politicized to the point of near meaninglessness). It was successful in putting their cause on the map, just as Zionist violence (and "terrorism" - by the way - conducted by people who would later become Israeli prime ministers) gave birth to Israel, and just as colonists' violence and "terrorism" (as King George described it) gave birth to the United States. But that said, and even apart from the moral question, strategically, the era in which Palestinian violence effectively serves to advance its agenda has ended.

What the confrontation at sea this week dramatically points out is an idea I have argued for a long time. Namely, that the Palestinians, who already have the vast majority of world opinion on their side, should adopt Gandhian methods of nonviolent confrontation in order to bring Israel to its senses and to the bargaining table. What if a million Palestinians went on hunger strike tomorrow? How long could Israel and its American benefactors withstand the glaring spotlight such an action would shine on the Palestinian cause, especially as martyrs began dying? Perhaps even something quite that lethal would not be necessary. Perhaps mass sit-down strikes might do the trick, or civil disobedience in public venues. The point is that such tactics would work, whereas violence against Israel not only isn't working, but only strengthens the bloody hand of the monstrous hawks there.

Palestinians must also come to terms with the fact that their full aspirations will never be realized. This must be psychologically painful in the extreme. It is as if someone knocked on the front door of your house, walked in and took over the first floor and parts of the second, cheerfully left you a few remaining rooms to occupy, and then wondered why you weren't satisfied. I think Palestinians have long been debilitated by the Hobson's choice of, on the one hand, accepting, and thereby legitimating, the status quo, versus continuing to hold out for more, up to and including the dream of driving the invading Jews into the sea and restoring the homeland to their exclusive control. In addition to the horrors of what they call "the catastrophe" itself, I don't envy anyone the additional moral dilemma of choosing whether and when to admit defeat as opposed to continuing their struggle for what they believe is justly theirs. That's a very hard choice to make, and is always further haunted by those who have already sacrificed for the struggle before.

But history is history. There is no remotely serious prospect of undoing the Zionist project, with all its ramifications for the Palestinians, just as there is no undoing the Holocaust or the pogroms, or the much earlier forced Jewish diaspora from the same lands the Palestinians now mourn losing. I hope the Palestinians can find a way toward negotiating a peace with Israel that is by definition far less than everything they want. Fatah, post-Arafat, seems to be there. Hamas would appear not to be, but not necessarily implacably so. (The regional and ideological differences between the two are, by the way, no small thing. Indeed, I have long believed that the first casualty of Palestinian statehood will be the Palestinian state itself. Just as East and West Pakistan, separated by India, quickly transitioned from one country into two, so, I suspect, would Palestine become Gaza and the West Bank.)

The potential for peace finally coming to the region is not insubstantial at this moment. Some of the underlying conditions are even rather favorable. Nor should we be blinded by the magnitude of the project into believing that it is impossible. No one would have ever believed in 1970 that Israel would soon have peaceful and substantially normal relations with Egypt and Jordan. No one would have ever believed in 1940 that France and Germany would become, not only close friends and allies, but even partners in driving an integration project in which both have voluntarily ceded much of their sovereignty to a supranational organization.

But getting there will require that both sides, and the United States as well, adopt new approaches to replace the existing ones which are clearly dysfunctional. Israel and the United States have the upper hand in terms of sheer physical force, and are favored by existing conditions on the ground. They are therefore least likely to move. The Palestinians, who have everything to gain from change, must drive the process forward if they want it to happen.

My advice to the Palestinians would be two-fold. First, as described above, start employing civil disobedience and other forms of mass-based passive resistance tactics in place of rockets and bombs. The power of those images - especially today, in our YouTube world - are enormous, and enormously effective at gaining the sympathy of the world. My second suggestion may sound like a joke, but it is not at all. The Palestinians should follow other countries, corporations and the like, including most who need it far less than they do, and spend a boatload of money to hire the best public relations firm they can find in America, in order to give their image and their cause here a massive make-over. America is crucial to the Mid-East conflict, but American politicians are unable to do anything but reflexively support Israel, even when it is snotty and abusive to the US itself. That's because the Palestinians have no image here other than as terrorists, and because their plight is all but unheard of. This perhaps can be rectified, though it won't happen quickly or easily. But a change in American public opinion would free American foreign policy to change, which might likely in turn ultimately undermine Israeli arrogance and recalcitrance.

Israel, like America under Bush, has gone mad. Some of the reasons for this happening are morally valid and some are not. What matters, though, is how to bring the country back to its senses, especially now that the Palestinian leadership (at least in the West Bank) has changed sufficiently to do a deal, something Yasser Arafat seemed constitutionally unable to quite ever embrace, plagued as he probably was, I'd imagine, by the awful Hobson's choice described above.

But I don't think Israel is likely to change on its own. It has little incentive to, as things stand today. That change will require the Palestinians, perhaps via the United States, to force it upon Israel, but not by means of force.

If there is any silver lining to the events of this week, it is that they have illuminated the path by which that might be done. And, better still, it is a nonviolent path.
(c) 2010 David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York. He is delighted to receive readers' reactions to his articles, but regrets that time constraints do not always allow him to respond. More of his work can be found at his website,

The Dead Letter Office...

Heil Obama,

Dear Michigan Uberfuhrer Patterson,

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 wanting to register all reporters to see if they're immoral enough to tell our propaganda, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Rethuglican Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

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

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

How Israel Propaganda Shaped U.S. Media Coverage Of The Flotilla Attack
By Glenn Greenwald

It was clear from the moment news of the flotilla attack emerged that Israel was taking extreme steps to suppress all evidence about what happened other than its own official version. They detained the flotilla passengers and barred the media from speaking with them, thus, as The NYT put it, "refusing to permit journalists access to witnesses who might contradict Israel's version of events." They detained the journalists who were on the ship for days and seized their film, video and cameras. And worst of all, the IDF -- while still refusing to disclose the full, unedited, raw footage of the incident -- quickly released an extremely edited video of their commandos landing on the ship, which failed even to address, let alone refute, the claim of the passengers: that the Israelis were shooting at the ship before the commandos were on board.

This campaign of suppression and propaganda worked to shape American media coverage (as state propaganda campaigns virtually always work on the gullible, authority-revering American media). The edited IDF video was shown over and over on American television without question or challenge. Israeli officials and Israel-devoted commentators appeared all over television -- almost always unaccompanied by any Turkish, Palestinian or Muslim critics of the raid -- to spout the Israeli version without opposition. Israel-centric pundits in America claimed, based on the edited IDF video, that anyone was lying who even reported on the statements of the passengers that Israeli fired first. In sum, that the Israelis used force only after the passengers attacked the commandos became Unquestioned Truth in American discourse.

But now that the passengers and journalists have been released from Israeli detention and are speaking out, a much different story is emerging. As I noted yesterday, numerous witnesses and journalists are describing Israeli acts of aggression, including the shooting of live ammunition, before the commandos landed. The New York Times blogger Robert Mackey today commendably compiles that evidence -- I recommend it highly -- and he writes: "now that the accounts of activists and journalists who were detained by Israel after the raid are starting to be heard, it is clear that their stories and that of the Israeli military do not match in many ways." As Juan Cole says: "Many passengers have now confirmed that they were fired on even before the commandos had boots on the deck. Presumably it is this suppressive fire that killed or wounded some passengers and which provoked an angry reaction and an attack on the commandos."

Whether the Israelis fired at the passengers before or after landing on the ship matters little to the crux of what happened here. The initial act of aggression was the Israeli seizing of a ship in international waters which was doing nothing hostile; that action was taken to enforce a horrific, inhumane blockade and, more generally, a brutal, decades-long occupation; and whatever else is true, at least nine civilians were killed by the Israeli Navy, only the latest example of Israel (and the U.S.) using massive military force against civilians.

But this incident illustrates -- yet again -- the eagerness of the American media to "report" on events by doing nothing but mindlessly repeating official government claims. How many of the TV hosts who paraded Israeli officials in front of their audiences all week will put these witnesses on their shows to narrate their version of events? Devotees to Israel have already been convinced that this ship was full of Terrorists and Terrorist-lovers (meaning: anyone who opposes Israeli policy), so anything these passengers say (indeed, anyone who disputes the Israeli version of events) will be automatically dismissed as unreliable -- just as Muslim villagers who claim that the U.S. military kills civilians (rather than "militants") are, for that reason alone, deemed suspect, and just as individuals who denied reports about Iraqi WMDs before the war were deemed suspect for that reason alone. But for those who are not committed to defending Israel no matter what it does, these witnesses deserve to be heard every bit as much as Israeli officials.

Nobody's claims are entitled to an automatic assumption of truth, including these passengers. But as Mackey argues, all of this compellingly underscores the need for an independent -- not an Israeli-led -- investigation. Mackey quotes Israeli journalist and blogger Noam Sheifaz:

Israel has confiscated some of the most important material for the investigation, namely the films, audio and photos taken by the passengers [and] journalists on board and the Mavi Marmara's security cameras. Since yesterday, Israel has been editing these films and using them for its own PR campaign. In other words, Israel has already confiscated most of the evidence, held it from the world and tampered with it. No court in the world would [trust] it to be the one examining it.

Just as is true for the U.S. on so many occasions, Israel has made unmistakably clear that it is interested only in propagandizing and obfuscating. The very idea that they can be trusted to reveal what actually happened is ludicrous on its face.

* * * * *

One of the more disturbing -- though predictable -- developments this week is the effort to suggest that Furkan Dogan, the 19-year-old American killed by the Israelis with four bullets to the head and one to the chest, is not a "real citizen." That, of course, tracks the prior Joe-Lieberman-led proposal to strip Americans of their citizenship (now being replicated in Israel) and the Obama administration's targeting of Americans for due-process-free assassinations. We now have at least two classes of citizenship: "real citizens" and "not really citizens." John Cole says all that needs to be said about this disgusting suggestion.

And for those who haven't done so, see my post from yesterday on the role that rank tribalism plays in causing so many Americans to remain devoted to justifying whatever Israel does.

UPDATE: Numerous eyewitness accounts of what happened continue to emerge, and Steve Hynd and this blog both have very helpful compilations of these latest testimonies.

As for propaganda: there are two claims being made frequently that can only be described as pure lies. The first is that Israel's blockade is devoted to keeping arms out of Gaza (see this explanation from Peter Beinart, as quoted in the last two paragraphs of this FAIR post, regarding the countless items that the Israelis prevent from entering Gaza that have no remote connection to weapons, as well as what Israeli officials themselves have said is the real purpose of the blockade; see also: this chart from The Economist showing what the Israelis are really barring from Gaza); and second is the claim that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza caused by the blockade (see this Foreign Policy post from today documenting the devastating humanitarian effects of the blockade).
(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.

Fury Over Raid Isolates Israel
Relations between Jewish state and longtime ally Turkey may never recover after foolish flotilla attack
By Eric Margolis

ISTANBUL - Turkey is seething with fury at its closest allies - Israel and the United States - after Israel's killing of at least nine peace activists, four of them Turks, on a Turkish-flagged vessel seeking to break Israel's years-long blockade of Gaza.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Israel of a "massacre," warning, "Israel risks losing its closest ally in the Mideast if it does not change its mentality." By "mentality," Erdogan meant Israel's right-wing Likud coalition.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, a rising star in Turkish politics, accused Israel of "terrorism" and "piracy."

Israel's supporters are furiously counter-attacking, insisting Israel's naval commandos were only defending themselves. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu even claimed blockading 1.5 million malnourished Palestinians prevents Gaza from becoming an Iranian naval and missile base.

Few agree with him. Britain's new pro-Israel prime minister, David Cameron, called the Gaza siege, "completely unacceptable." UN chief Ban Ki-moon said Israel was "punishing civilians," a clear violation of the Geneva Conventions.

France's foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, demanded Israel lift the siege. French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy accused Israel's Likud government of "political autism." Both men are Jewish. Israel's respected center-left newspaper Ha'aretz called the maritime raid "a disgraceful failure."

A leading Israeli thinker, Uri Avnery, notes, "The Gaza blockade does not isolate Hamas. It isolates Israel."

The Obama administration blocked UN condemnation of Israel, further infuriating the Muslim world against the United States. This after the U.S. insulted Brazil and Turkey by sneeringly dismissing their sensible plan to diminish Iran's uranium stockpile.

Canada's conservatives backed their ideological allies in Israel.

The world condemned Israel. Israel's right wingers and their bunker mentality sailed the beleaguered nation into a political ambush that even the Wall Street Journal, the Likud Party's leading U.S. voice, termed "one of Israel's worst public relations disasters in years."

Netanyahu reportedly ignored his cabinet secretary, Zvi Hauser, who warned against using force to stop the peace flotilla. The maritime fiasco further deepened Israel's growing isolation.

Turkey has long been Israel's strategic ally and sole friend in the Muslim world. The Ottoman Empire had an honourable tradition of sheltering Jews from Christian persecution. Turkish-Israeli trade is close to $4.5 billion; some 80,000 Israeli tourists safely vacation annually in Turkey.

Until Prime Minister Erdogan's Justice and Development Party, or AK, was elected in 2007, real power in Turkey was wielded from behind a facade of parliamentary democracy by hardline, right-wing generals of its powerful, 510,000-man armed forces.

Turkey's brass have overthrown four governments since the Second World War and once ousted Erdogan from office. They particularly hate his AK party, which espouses principles of Islamic welfare, cuts in defence spending, friendship with Greece and joining the EU.

Turkey's generals, and their allies in the security establishment, courts and academia, are militant secularist Kemalists who detest religious and political Islam, scorn Arabs, and are ideologically close to Israel's right-wing military establishment. Israel has sold Turkey billions in arms deals, producing huge commissions for both sides.

Israel's crack air force trains in Turkey and had been planning to use Turkish airspace to attack Iran. The two nations' intelligence agencies co-operate closely.

After a series of intrigues collectively know as "Ergenekon," the government has broken up cabals of far-right Turkish officers and civilian plotters, averting another military coup. Turkey's bullying military has been largely pushed out of politics.

Ergenekon broke the secret Israeli-Turkish link. Erdogan denounced the killing of 1,300 Palestinians in Israel's heavy bombing of Gaza in 2008-2009, infuriating Israel.

Now, Netanyahu's bungling has shot Israel in both feet. To paraphrase Talleyrand, worse than crime, an error.

The world is demanding Israel end the brutal siege of hungry Gaza. More blockade-busting ships are at sea.

Israeli-Turkish relations may never recover. Crowds across Turkey wave banners, "We Are All Palestinians." Erdogan has emerged as the Muslim world's most important leader.

When Israeli's emotions cool down, they will see how foolhardy Bibi Netanyahu, Israel's George Bush, has been.
(c) 2010 Eric Margolis is a columnist for The Toronto Sun. A veteran of many conflicts in the Middle East, Margolis recently was featured in a special appearance on Britain's Sky News TV as "the man who got it right" in his predictions about the dangerous risks and entanglements the US would face in Iraq. His latest book is "American Raj: Liberation or Domination?: Resolving the Conflict Between the West and the Muslim World."

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Mark Streeter~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Livin' On The Edge
By Aerosmith

There's somethin' wrong with the world today
I don't know what it is
Something's wrong with our eyes

We're seeing things in a different way
And God knows it ain't His
It sure ain't no surprise

We're livin' on the edge
We're livin' on the edge
We're livin' on the edge
We're livin' on the edge

There's somethin' wrong with the world today
The light bulb's gettin' dim
There's meltdown in the sky

If you can judge a wise man
By the color of his skin
Then mister you're a better man that I

We're livin' on the edge
You can't help yourself from fallin'
Livin' on the edge
You can't help yourself at all
Livin' on the edge
You can't stop yourself from fallin'
Livin' on the edge

Tell me what you think about your sit-u-a-tion
Complication - aggravation
Is getting to you

If chicken little tells you that the sky is fallin'
Even if it wasn't would you still come crawlin'
Back again?
I bet you would my friend
Again & again & again & again & again

Tell me what you think about your sit-u-a-tion
Complication - aggravation
Is getting to you

If chicken little tells you that the sky is fallin'
Even if it was would would you still come crawlin'
Back again?
I bet you would my friend
Again & again & again & again

There's something right with the world today
And everybody knows it's wrong
But we can tell 'em no or we could let it go
But I would rather be a hanging on

Livin' On the Edge
You can't help yourself from fallin'
Livin' On the Edge
You can't help yourself at all
Livin' On the Edge
You can't stop yourself from fallin'
Livin' On the Edge
Livin' On the Edge
Livin' On the Edge
Livin' On the Edge
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

Livin' On the Edge
You can't help yourself from fallin'
Livin' On the Edge
You can't help yourself at all
Livin' on the edge
You can't stop yourself from fallin'
Livin' on the edge
Livin' on the edge
You can't help yourself
You can't help yourself
Livin' On the Edge
You can't help yourself at all
Livin' On the Edge
You can't help yourself
You can't help yourself
Livin' On the Edge
You can't help yourself
You can't help yourself
Livin' On the Edge
You can't help yourself from fallin'
Livin' On the Edge
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, you got to that now.
(c) 1994/2010 Aerosmith

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...


Balance Of Power Shifts At Landover Baptist Church


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Freehold, Iowa - After nearly two-months of prayer and $3.5 million worth of legal fees paid to Pastor Deacon Fred's team of Jewish lawyers, the Landover Baptist Board of Deacons announces that Brother Harry Hardwick (The Bible Answer Man) will assume the role of "Head Pastor" of the Landover Baptist Church until further notice. Former Head Pastor, Deacon Fred remains incarcerated in a Fort Madison County Iowa Jail where he continues to undergo appeals with an Atheist judge for his release. All appeals henceforth are at Pastor Deacon Fred's personal expense.. Brother Hardwick, from this day henceforth is to be referred to as Rev. Pastor, Brother Harry Hardwick. Any church member failing to address him accordingly in public or in private will be fined at a fee to be decided on a "per-case basis" by Rev. Pastor Hardwick himeself (Romans 13).

On June 6 at 11:30 PM CST (in the year, day, hour, and minute of our Lord Jesus Christ), Brother Hardwick was re-baptized in a private ceremony one half mile below sacred ground in "The Founder's Chamber,*" by the Board of Deacons.

Rev. Pastor Hardwick's first edict upon receiving his appointment of authority was to remove chief executives on the Landover Baptist Board of Directors who were family members or close to Pastor Deacon Fred. Rev. Pastor Hardwick replaced 3 board members with his most trusted old roommates from Landover Baptist University. Rev. Pastor Hardwick also appointed Mrs. Betty Bowers, America's Best Christian(tm) as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Landover Baptist Church Worldwide Ministries, Inc., Wexler Offshore Holdings, LTD., and The Facility for the Treatment of Pre-Sodomites(tm) in North Dakota. This position was formerly held by Pastor Deacon Fred who served as Head Pastor, CFO, CEO, CPA and CSMF of each of the organizations stated above. The Board of Deacons unanimously agreed that this was probably not a good idea to begin with regardless of the purity of Pastor's Mayflower bloodline.


Rev. Pastor, Brother Harry Hardwick Jr. IV (a dear and close childhood friend of Pastor Deacon Fred Smith - who is incarcerated and hereby incapable of performing his duties) has assumed complete leadership and control of the largest and most powerful assembly of True and Worthwhile Christians(tm) in the entire physical universe, the Landover Baptist Church(tm).

As hereby ordered and ordained by Jesus Christ our Lord and the Landover Baptist Board of Deacons in the Founder's Chamber below Freehold Iowa on June 6, 2010.


Church members are hereby informed that all 53 weekly Church services will continue as scheduled except for the Wednesday evening service in the old rural chapel on Soulwinner's lane. That service will be shortened by 15 minutes, and fellowship time will be extended by an additional 15 minutes. Dress will remain "Executive Christian Business Formal."

Landover Baptist Church members will continue to receive their news through the Landover Baptist Church web page and online newsletter at


As most church members are aware, the Board of Deacons and the Freehold, Iowa Baptist Police Department have been working diligently to secure the password to astor Deacon Fred's Facebook account from his personal secretary, Edna Denkins.

At the time of this announcement, Ms. Denkins is still at large, having fled Landover Baptist Church property. Church members with any information as to her whereabouts are to contact Rev. Pastor Hardwick or your local Baptist police department immediately!

Sister Edna is in possession of church property and is emotionally unstable.


*The "Founders Chamber" has only been used 35 times in the last 300 years to induct emergency pastorships. The last time the chamber was used was in 1864 during the Great Freehold Rebellion and the subsequent Iowa State Masturbation Epidemic.

The "Founders Chamber" was created shortly after Rev. Enoch Smithe placed the cornerstone on the First Baptist Church in Land Over to the West in Freehold Iowa.
(c) 2010 The Landover Baptisit Church

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Issues & Alibis Vol 10 # 24 (c) 06/011/2010

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