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In This Edition

Noam Chomsky forecloses on, "Bush's Bankrupt Vision."

Uri Avnery exclaims, "No, I Can't!"

Chris Hedges reports Obama falls for "The Iran Trap."

Jim Hightower discovers, "Death By Privatization."

Mel Bartholomew considers, "Saving Seeds - Part 2."

Captain Eric H. May wonders, "Marine Corps Martial Law?"

Chris Floyd studies, "Degrees Of Significance."

Patrick Cockburn reports, "US Issues Threat To Iraq's $50 Billion Foreign Reserves In Military Deal."

Mike Folkerth says, "U.S. Oil Independence; Not!"

Norman Solomon explains, "When A Little Dissent Is Too Much."

Mark Morford waves, "Farewell, All You Old Homophobes."

Obama's Economic Policy Director Jason Furman wins the coveted "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Scott Ritter demands David Gregory, "Investigate This."

Mary Pitt thinks we should, "Put Up Or Shut Up."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department 'The Onion' finds, "Love Letters From U.S. Troops Increasingly Gruesome" but first Uncle Ernie sez, "Your Tax Dollars At Work, America."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Bob Englehart with additional cartoons and photos from Brain McFadden, Bruce Yurgil, Family Guy, Wack Sack.Com, NBC News, Square Foot Gardening.Com, Jim Teahan, Issues & Alibis and Pink & Blue Films.

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...
Zeitgeist The Movie...

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









Your Tax Dollars At Work, America
By Ernest Stewart

"So much of the [post-9/11] dust-up [with Europe] had to do with Bush himself: his unilateralism, his obsession with Iraq, his cowboy style, his incompetence." Not since Ronald Reagan has America had a less "European" president." ~~~ Timothy Garton Ash ~ The Guardian

"The President of these United States IS named Schicklgruber." ~~~ Firesign Theatre

"Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one." ~~~ A.J. Liebling

I see that the simian collective is out and about once again.

First primate Laura (the killer) Bush was off to point and smirk at the millions of orphans, widows and refuges her husband has created in Afghanistan when our former partners, the Taliban, decided not to let Dick (the psycho) Cheney build his gas pipeline across Afghanistan. At great tax-payer expense Laura flew over miles and miles of poppy fields to gloat at mud hovels and scared children. As time runs out for the newly billionaire Bushes they're out to spend as much of the US treasury as they can before they're relegated to the briar patch in Midland or to the bunker down in Paraguay.

Meanwhile, our beloved prairie monkey was off to Europe to spread fear and hatred of America wherever he went. In a last ditch attempt at cynical opportunism, der Fuhrer called on Europe to join him in another crusade for oil against the 70 million souls in Iran whose sands currently cover our oil!

Smirkus had a busy schedule this week...

On Tuesday, he met separately with Slovenia's president, Danilo Turk, and Prime Minister Janez Jansa and then European Union leaders at Brdo Castle. All participants in the U.S. - E.U. summit. Afterward he met privately with Germany's chancellor, Angela Merkel, in Meseberg, Germany for dinner and a "back rub" while Laura wasn't around!

On Wednesday after a hot night in old Berlin, Bush and Merkel held a news conference before George jetted off to Italy, other scores to seek!

On Thursday der Fuhrer met with Italy's president, Giorgio Napolitano, at the presidential Quirinale Palace in Rome to discuss how Giorgio gets the trains to run on time! Then it was off to meet with Italy's premier, Silvio Berlusconi, at the premier's office, Palazzo Chigi, to discuss adventures in fascism, how to avoid prosecution for crimes against the state and recipes for spaghetti sauce!

On Friday, Bush was scheduled to meet with Joey Ratz at the Vatican to relive Joey's life as a youth-for-Hitler Werewolf. Then it was off to France to restock his wine cellar and embarrass us before the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris. Friday evening he'll be whisked off to have dinner with France's president, Nicolas Sarkozy, at Elysee Palace and to try and cop a feel of Mrs. Sarkozy!

Then on Saturday, he is scheduled to hold a news conference from a bathtub with Nicolas for the fight against world terrorism and Bush's sanity. Then it's off to various US and French military cemeteries to smirk and snicker at the WW II vets patriotism.

On Sunday, he's set to bore Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace, who will say sometime during his visit, "We are not amused!" Then it's off to have dinner with British PM Gordon Brown who will no doubt Kow Tow to our visiting monkey and pledge Britain's undying loyalty to the "Crime Family Bush!"

On Monday, Bush wraps up another foreign policy disaster by visiting Belfast, Northern Ireland to rekindle the strife between the various cults before heading back to Washington to make our lives more miserable.

In Other News

On Monday June 9th 2008 the Democratic Congressman from Ohio, Dennis Kucinich, rose and introduced 35 articles for the impeachment of George W. Bush for "High Crimes and Misdemeanors" against the American people. You may recall that Dennis laid out the articles for Impeachment against Dick (the psycho) Cheney last January. Dennis should have been the Demoncrats nominee for President and would have been if they weren't a corrupt organization and puppets of the Crime Family Bush and others. Not to mention the fact that the American people for the most part have the brains of a duck!* This also explains why the traitors Nancy Pelosi (D-California), Steny H. Hoyer (D-Maryland), John Conyers (D-MI) and other members of Democratic House "leadership" have done nothing to bring these criminals and their fellow travelers to justice. All of the above, save Kucinich, should be impeached, as well, and charged with treason for not upholding their oath of office!

Here briefly is what Dennis brought to the floor and entered into the record:

ARTICLES OF IMPEACHMENT FOR PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH

Resolved, that President George W. Bush be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors, and that the following articles of impeachment be exhibited to the United States Senate:

Articles of impeachment exhibited by the House of Representatives of the United States of America in the name of itself and of the people of the United States of America, in maintenance and support of its impeachment against President George W. Bush for high crimes and misdemeanors.

In his conduct while President of the United States, George W. Bush, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability,

preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has committed the following abuses of power.

Article I
Creating a Secret Propaganda Campaign to Manufacture a False Case for War Against Iraq.

Article II
Falsely, Systematically, and with Criminal Intent Conflating the Attacks of September 11, 2001, With Misrepresentation of Iraq as a Security Threat as Part of Fraudulent Justification for a War of Aggression.

Article III
Misleading the American People and Members of Congress to Believe Iraq Possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction, to Manufacture a False Case for War.

Article IV
Misleading the American People and Members of Congress to Believe Iraq Posed an Imminent Threat to the United States.

Article V
Illegally Misspending Funds to Secretly Begin a War of Aggression.

Article VI
Invading Iraq in Violation of the Requirements of HJRes114.

Article VII
Invading Iraq Absent a Declaration of War.

Article VIII
Invading Iraq, A Sovereign Nation, in Violation of the UN Charter.

Article IX
Failing to Provide Troops With Body Armor and Vehicle Armor

Article X
Falsifying Accounts of US Troop Deaths and Injuries for Political Purposes

Article XI
Establishment of Permanent U.S. Military Bases in Iraq

Article XII
Initiating a War Against Iraq for Control of That Nation's Natural Resources

Article XIIII
Creating a Secret Task Force to Develop Energy and Military Policies With Respect to Iraq and Other Countries

Article XIV
Misprision of a Felony, Misuse and Exposure of Classified Information And Obstruction of Justice in the Matter of Valerie Plame Wilson, Clandestine Agent of the Central Intelligence Agency

Article XV
Providing Immunity from Prosecution for Criminal Contractors in Iraq

Article XVI
Reckless Misspending and Waste of U.S. Tax Dollars in Connection With Iraq and US Contractors

Article XVII
Illegal Detention: Detaining Indefinitely And Without Charge Persons Both U.S. Citizens and Foreign Captives

Article XVIII
Torture: Secretly Authorizing, and Encouraging the Use of Torture Against Captives in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Other Places, as a Matter of Official Policy

Article XIX
Rendition: Kidnapping People and Taking Them Against Their Will to "Black Sites" Located in Other Nations, Including Nations Known to Practice Torture

Article XX
Imprisoning Children

Article XXI
Misleading Congress and the American People About Threats from Iran, and Supporting Terrorist Organizations Within Iran, With the Goal of Overthrowing the Iranian Government

Article XXII
Creating Secret Laws

Article XXIII
Violation of the Posse Comitatus Act

Article XXIV
Spying on American Citizens, Without a Court-Ordered Warrant, in Violation of the Law and the Fourth Amendment

Article XXV
Directing Telecommunications Companies to Create an Illegal and Unconstitutional Database of the Private Telephone Numbers and Emails of American Citizens

Article XXVI
Announcing the Intent to Violate Laws with Signing Statements

Article XXVII
Failing to Comply with Congressional Subpoenas and Instructing Former Employees Not to Comply

Article XXVIII
Tampering with Free and Fair Elections, Corruption of the Administration of Justice

Article XXIX
Conspiracy to Violate the Voting Rights Act of 1965

Article XXX
Misleading Congress and the American People in an Attempt to Destroy Medicare

Article XXXI
Katrina: Failure to Plan for the Predicted Disaster of Hurricane Katrina, Failure to Respond to a Civil Emergency

Article XXXII
Misleading Congress and the American People, Systematically Undermining Efforts to Address Global Climate Change

Article XXXIII
Repeatedly Ignored and Failed to Respond to High Level Intelligence Warnings of Planned Terrorist Attacks in the US, Prior to 911.

Article XXXIV
Obstruction of the Investigation into the Attacks of September 11, 2001

Article XXXV
Endangering the Health of 911 First Responders

Now ask yourself, America, which is worse. The people who committed these crimes and acts of treason, or those who will let them get away with it?

* I would like to apologize most deeply and sincerely to all the members of Duckdom for that comparison!

And Finally

It's come down to yet another nail biter. As it stands to my knowledge today, this will be the last edition of Issues & Alibis. We have a substantial bill due next week and haven't the money to cover it. Last year we went through the same thing and at the last minute a dear lady named Virginia stepped up and saved the day. With what she's gone through in the last year I don't expect she has the money to do it again. C'est la guerre!

Being a radical magazine with liberal tendencies makes us unique in newsmagazines. We tried to fill the void for a leftist magazine because most political magazines are on the right or far right and there are damn few even centralist ezines. Yes, I am aware if we situated ourselves farther to the right we'd attract a larger, paying audience but Issues & Alibis wasn't set up to assuage your fears and make you feel all warm and fuzzy but to awaken the Sheeple to the truth. The trouble with coming from the left is most all of the folks on the left are working class, at best and have little money to spare. This of course has absolutely nothing to do with their abilities but is what capitalism is all about. If we were to goose step off to the right we'd be swimming in money but at the price of losing our soul, quite a Catch-22, eh?

We're moving this week-end and had to borrow the money to do that so there is no chance that we can pick up the tab again. It's up to you in our eleventh hour to save the magazine or look elsewhere for the truth. Everyone else has a Demoncratic or Rethuglican slant and while we bring those issues up, we remain Independent! Sure you might find most of the same articles but it might take you 20 hours a week to do so as that's what it often takes me and more than half of the material is sent directly to me from the authors and artists. We did manage to afford a DSL line at our new digs so I will continue to write and publish my rants around the Internet and I will try and keep the group and mailing lists going.

We had decided to take a week off before these financial disasters came up as we've published continuously for 380 editions without a break. Even the week I was on the set of "W," I managed to put out an edition. So this Friday the 13th may be our last issue, it's all up to you whether or not we return on the 27th.

Like Uncle Duke once said,

"Big Darkness, soon come!"


Can you afford to be without us when it comes?

Regardless, America, love yourself, love your neighbor and live in peace!

Finally, on behalf of Victoria and myself I'd like to thank all the writers and artists who gave so much of their time and talent to the magazine. Without your kind help all of this would have been impossible. Thank you all so very much!

And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love, you make!

*****

"The era of manufacturing consent has given way to the era of manufacturing news.
Soon media newsrooms will drop the pretense, and start hiring theater directors instead of journalists."
~~~ Arundhati Roy ~~~


So to contribute to the cause and help us keep fighting for you just visit our donations page and follow the instructions there. Thank you!

Ernest & Victoria Stewart

*****


09-24-1921 ~ 06-07-2008
The Agony Of Defeat



03-06-1933 ~ 06-06-2008
I'm shakin' the dust of this crummy little town off my feet and I'm gonna see the world. Italy, Greece, the Parthenon, the Coliseum. Then, I'm comin' back here to go to college and see what they know. And then I'm gonna build things. I'm gonna build airfields, I'm gonna build skyscrapers a hundred stories high, I'm gonna build bridges a mile long...


*****

The "W" theatre trailers are up along with the new movie poster and screen shots from the film. They are all available at the all-new "W" movie site: http://wthemovie.com. Both trailers are on site and may be downloaded; the new trailer can be seen with Flash on site. You can download in either PC or Mac formats. I'm in the new trailer as myself but don't blink or you'll miss me! The trailers are also available on YouTube along with a short scene from the film.

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

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So how do you like the 2nd coup d'etat so far?
And more importantly, what are you planning on doing about it?

Until the next time, Peace!
(c) 2008 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for the last 7 years managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. In his spare time he is an actor, writer and an associate producer for the new motion picture "W."










Bush's Bankrupt Vision
By Noam Chomsky

IN MID-May, President Bush traveled to the Middle East to establish his legacy more firmly in the part of the world that has been the prime focus of his presidency.

The trip had two principal destinations, each chosen to celebrate a major anniversary: Israel, the 60th anniversary of its founding and recognition by the United States, and Saudi Arabia, the 75th anniversary of US recognition of the newly founded kingdom. The choices made good sense in the light of history and the enduring character of US Middle East policy: control of oil, and support of the proxies who help maintain it.

An omission, however, was not lost on the people of the region. Though Bush celebrated the founding of Israel, he did not recognize (let alone commemorate) the paired event from 60 years ago: the destruction of Palestine, the Nakba, as Palestinians refer to the events that expelled them from their lands.

During his three days in Jerusalem, the president was an enthusiastic participant in lavish events and made sure to go to Masada, a near-sacred site of Jewish nationalism.

But he did not visit the seat of the Palestinian authority in Ramallah, or Gaza City, or a refugee camp, or the town of Qalqilya - strangled by the Separation Wall, now becoming an Annexation Wall under the illegal Israeli settlement and development programs that Bush has endorsed officially, the first president to do so.

And it was out of the question that he would have any contact with Hamas leaders and parliamentarians, chosen in the only free election in the Arab world, many of them in Israeli jails with no pretense of judicial proceedings.

The pretexts for this stance scarcely withstand a moment's analysis. Also of no moment is the fact that Hamas has repeatedly called for a two-state settlement in accord with the international consensus that the United States and Israel have rejected, virtually alone, for more than 30 years, and still do.

Bush did allow the US favourite, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, to participate in meetings in Egypt with many regional leaders. Bush's last visit to Saudi Arabia was in January. On both trips, he sought, without success, to draw the kingdom into the anti-Iranian alliance he has been seeking to forge. That is no small task, despite the concern of the Sunni rulers over the "Shia crescent" and growing Iranian influence, regularly termed "aggressiveness."

For the Saudi rulers, accommodation with Iran may be preferable to confrontation. And though public opinion is marginalized, it cannot be completely dismissed. In a recent poll of Saudis, Bush ranked far above Osama bin Laden in the "very unfavorable" category, and more than twice as high as Iranian President Ahmadinejad and Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Hezbollah, Iran's Shia ally in Lebanon.

US-Saudi relations date to the recognition of the Kingdom in 1933 - not coincidentally, the year when Standard of California obtained a petroleum concession and American geologists began to explore what turned out to be the world's largest reserves of oil.

The United States quickly moved to ensure its own control, important steps in a process by which the United States took over world dominance from Britain, which was slowly reduced to a "junior partner," as the British Foreign Office lamented, unable to counter "the economic imperialism of American business interests, which is quite active under the cloak of a benevolent and avuncular internationalism" and is "attempting to elbow us out."

The strong US-Israel alliance took its present form in 1967, when Israel performed a major service to the United States by destroying the main center of secular Arab nationalism, Nasser's Egypt, also safeguarding the Saudi rulers from the secular nationalist threat. US planners had recognized a decade earlier that a "logical corollary" of US opposition to "radical" (that is, independent) Arab nationalism would be "to support Israel as the only strong pro-Western power left in the Middle East."

Investment by US corporations in Israeli high-tech industry has sharply increased, including Intel, Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, Warren Buffett and others, joined by major investors from Japan and India - in the latter case, one facet of a growing US-Israel-India strategic alliance.

To be sure, other factors underlie the US-Israeli relationship. In Jerusalem, Bush invoked "the bonds of the book," the faith "shared by Christians like himself and Jews," the Australian Press reported, but apparently not shared by Muslims or even Christian Arabs, like those in Bethlehem, now barred from occupied Jerusalem, a few kilometers away, by illegal Israeli construction projects.

The Saudi Gazette bitterly condemned Bush's "audacity to call Israel the 'homeland for the chosen people' - the terminology of ultrareligious Israeli hardliners. The Gazette added that Bush's "particular brand of moral bankruptcy was on full display when he made only passing mention of a Palestinian state in his vision of the region 60 years hence."

It is not difficult to discern why Bush's chosen legacy should stress relations with Israel and Saudi Arabia, with a side glance at Egypt, along with disdain for the Palestinians and their miserable plight, apart from a few ritual phrases.

We need not tarry on the thought that the president's choices have anything to do with justice, human rights or the vision of "democracy promotion" that gripped his soul as soon as the pretexts for the invasion of Iraq had collapsed.

But the choices do accord with a general principle, observed with considerable consistency: Rights are assigned in accord with service to power.

Palestinians are poor, weak, dispersed and friendless. It is elementary, then, that they should have no rights. In sharp contrast, Saudi Arabia has incomparable resources of energy, Egypt is the major Arab state, and Israel is a rich Western country and the regional powerhouse, with air and armored forces that are larger and technologically more advanced than any NATO power (apart from its patron) along with hundreds of nuclear weapons, and with an advanced and largely militarized economy closely linked to the United States.

The contours of the intended legacy are therefore quite predictable.
(c) 2008 Noam Chomsky is emeritus professor of linguistics and philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is co-author, with Gilbert Achcar, of Perilous Power: The Middle East & U.S. Foreign Policy: Dialogues on Terror, Democracy, War, and Justice. His most recent book is Hegemony or Survival Americas Quest for Global Dominance. His writings on linguistics and politics have just been collected in The Essential Noam Chomsky, edited by Anthony Arnove, from the New Press.





No, I Can't!
By Uri Avnery

AFTER MONTHS of a tough and bitter race, a merciless struggle, Barack Obama has defeated his formidable opponent, Hillary Clinton. He has wrought a miracle: for the first time in history a black person has become a credible candidate for the presidency of the most powerful country in the world.

And what was the first thing he did after his astounding victory? He ran to the conference of the Israel lobby, AIPAC, and made a speech that broke all records for obsequiousness and fawning.

That is shocking enough. Even more shocking is the fact that nobody was shocked.

IT WAS a triumphalist conference. Even this powerful organization had never seen anything like it. 7000 Jewish functionaries from all over the United States came together to accept the obeisance of the entire Washington elite, which came to kowtow at their feet. All the three presidential hopefuls made speeches, trying to outdo each other in flattery. 300 Senators and Members of Congress crowded the hallways. Everybody who wants to be elected or reelected to any office, indeed everybody who has any political ambitions at all, came to see and be seen.

The Washington of AIPAC is like the Constantinople of the Byzantine emperors in its heyday.

The world looked on and was filled with wonderment. The Israeli media were ecstatic. In all the world's capitals the events were followed closely and conclusions were drawn. All the Arab media reported on them extensively. Aljazeera devoted an hour to a discussion of the phenomenon.

The most extreme conclusions of professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt were confirmed in their entirety. On the eve of their visit to Israel, this coming Thursday, the Israel Lobby stood at the center of political life in the US and the world at large.

WHY, ACTUALLY? Why do the candidates for the American presidency believe that the Israel lobby is so absolutely essential to their being elected?

The Jewish votes are important, of course, especially in several swing states which may decide the outcome. But African-Americans have more votes, and so do the Hispanics. Obama has brought to the political scene millions of new young voters. Numerically, the Arab-Muslim community in the US is also not an insignificant factor.

Some say that Jewish money speaks. The Jews are rich. Perhaps they donate more than others for political causes. But the myth about all-powerful Jewish money has an anti-Semitic ring. After all, other lobbies, and most decidedly the huge multinational corporations, have given considerable sums of money to Obama (as well as to his opponents). And Obama himself has proudly announced that hundreds of thousands of ordinary citizens have sent him small donations, which have amounted to tens of millions.

True, it has been proven that the Jewish lobby can almost always block the election of a senator or a member of Congress who does not dance - and do so with fervor - to the Israeli tune. In some exemplary cases (which were indeed meant to be seen as examples) the lobby has defeated popular politicians by lending its political and financial clout to the election campaign of a practically unknown rival.

But in a presidential race?

THE TRANSPARENT fawning of Obama on the Israel lobby stands out more than similar efforts by the other candidates.

Why? Because his dizzying success in the primaries was entirely due to his promise to bring about a change, to put an end to the rotten practices of Washington and to replace the old cynics with a young, brave person who does not compromise his principles.

And lo and behold, the very first thing he does after securing the nomination of his party is to compromise his principles. And how!

The outstanding thing that distinguishes him from both Hillary Clinton and John McCain is his uncompromising opposition to the war in Iraq from the very first moment. That was courageous. That was unpopular. That was totally opposed to the Israel lobby, all of whose branches were fervidly pushing George Bush to start the war that freed Israel from a hostile regime.

And here comes Obama to crawl in the dust at the feet of AIPAC and go out of his way to justify a policy that completely negates his own ideas.

OK he promises to safeguard Israel's security at any cost. That is usual. OK he threatens darkly against Iran, even though he promised to meet their leaders and settle all problems peacefully. OK he promised to bring back our three captured soldiers (believing, mistakenly, that all three are held by Hizbullah - an error that shows, by the way, how sketchy is his knowledge of our affairs.)

But his declaration about Jerusalem breaks all bounds. It is no exaggeration to call it scandalous. MO< NO PALESTINIAN, no Arab, no Muslim will make peace with Israel if the Haram-al-Sharif compound (also called the Temple Mount), one of the three holiest places of Islam and the most outstanding symbol of Palestinian nationalism, is not transferred to Palestinian sovereignty. That is one of the core issues of the conflict. On that very issue, the Camp David conference of 2000 broke up, even though the then Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, was willing to divide Jerusalem in some manner. Along comes Obama and retrieves from the junkyard the outworn slogan "Undivided Jerusalem, the Capital of Israel for all Eternity." Since Camp David, all Israeli governments have understood that this mantra constitutes an insurmountable obstacle to any peace process. It has disappeared - quietly, almost secretly - from the arsenal of official slogans. Only the Israeli (and American-Jewish) Right sticks to it, and for the same reason: to smother at birth any chance for a peace that would necessitate the dismantling of the settlements. In prior US presidential races, the pandering candidates thought that it was enough to promise that the US embassy would be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. After being elected, not one of the candidates ever did anything about this promise. All were persuaded by the State Department that it would harm basic American interests.

Obama went much further. Quite possibly, this was only lip service and he was telling himself: OK, I must say this in order to get elected. After that, God is great.

But even so the fact cannot be ignored: the fear of AIPAC is so terrible, that even this candidate, who promises change in all matters, does not dare. In this matter he accepts the worst old-style Washington routine. He is prepared to sacrifice the most basic American interests. After all, the US has a vital interest in achieving an Israeli-Palestinian peace that will allow it to find ways to the hearts of the Arab masses from Iraq to Morocco. Obama has harmed his image in the Muslim world and mortgaged his future - if and when he is elected president.

SIXTY FIVE years ago, American Jewry stood by helplessly while Nazi Germany exterminated their brothers and sisters in Europe. They were unable to prevail on President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to do anything significant to stop the Holocaust. (And at that same time, many Afro-Americans did not dare to go near the polling stations for fear of dogs being set on them.)

What has caused the dizzying ascent to power of the American Jewish establishment? Organizational talent? Money? Climbing the social ladder? Shame for their lack of zeal during the Holocaust?

The more I think about this wondrous phenomenon, the stronger becomes my conviction (about which I have already written in the past) that what really matters is the similarity between the American enterprise and the Zionist one, both in the spiritual and the practical sphere. Israel is a small America, the USA is a huge Israel.

The Mayflower passengers, much as the Zionists of the first and second aliya (immigration wave), fled from Europe, carrying in their hearts a messianic vision, either religious or utopian. (True, the early Zionists were mostly atheists, but religious traditions had a powerful influence on their vision.) The founders of American society were "pilgrims", the Zionists immigrants called themselves "olim" - short for olim beregel, pilgrims. Both sailed to a "promised land," believing themselves to be God's chosen people.

Both suffered a great deal in their new country. Both saw themselves as "pioneers," who make the wilderness bloom, a "people without land in a land without people." Both completely ignored the rights of the indigenous people, whom they considered sub-human savages and murderers. Both saw the natural resistance of the local peoples as evidence of their innate murderous character, which justified even the worst atrocities. Both expelled the natives and took possession of their land as the most natural thing to do, settling on every hill and under every tree, with one hand on the plow and the Bible in the other.

True, Israel did not commit anything approaching the genocide performed against the Native Americans, nor anything like the slavery that persisted for many generations in the US. But since the Americans have repressed these atrocities in their consciousness, there is nothing to prevent them from comparing themselves to the Israelis. It seems that in the unconscious mind of both nations there is a ferment of suppressed guilt feelings that express themselves in the denial of their past misdeeds, in aggressiveness and the worship of power.

HOW IS it that a man like Obama, the son of an African father, identifies so completely with the actions of former generations of American whites? It shows again the power of a myth to become rooted in the consciousness of a person, so that he identifies 100% with the imagined national narrative. To this may be added the unconscious urge to belong to the victors, if possible.

Therefore, I do not accept without reservation the speculation: "Well, he must talk like this in order to get elected. Once in the White House, he will return to himself."

I am not so sure about that. It may well turn out that these things have a surprisingly strong hold on his mental world.

Of one thing I am certain: Obama's declarations at the AIPAC conference are very, very bad for peace. And what is bad for peace is bad for Israel, bad for the world and bad for the Palestinian people.

If he sticks to them, once elected, he will be obliged to say, as far as peace between the two peoples of this country is concerned: "No, I can't!"
(c) 2008 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom






The Iran Trap
By Chris Hedges

The failure by Barack Obama to chart another course in the Middle East, to defy the Israel lobby and to denounce the Bush administration's inexorable march toward a conflict with Iran is a failure to challenge the collective insanity that has gripped the political leadership in the United States and Israel.

Obama, in a miscalculation that will have grave consequences, has given his blessing to the widening circle of violence and abuse of the Palestinians by Israel and, most dangerously, to those in the Bush White House and Jerusalem now plotting a war against Iran. He illustrates how the lust for power is morally corrosive. And while he may win the White House, by the time he takes power he will be trapped in George Bush's alternative reality.

We need to get out of Iraq and Afghanistan. We need to stay the hand of Israel, which is building more settlements-including a new plan to put 800 housing units in occupied East Jerusalem-and imposing draconian measures to physically break the 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza. We need, most of all, to prevent a war with Iran.

House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers, in a letter to President Bush on May 8, threatened to open impeachment proceedings if Bush attacked Iran. The letter is a signal that planning for strikes on Iran is under way and pronounced.

"Our concerns in this area have been heightened by more recent events," Conyers wrote. "The resignation in mid-March of Admiral William J. 'Fox' Fallon from the head of U.S. Central Command, which was reportedly linked to a magazine article that portrayed him as the only person who might stop your Administration from waging preemptive war against Iran, has renewed widespread concerns that your Administration is unilaterally planning for military action against that country. This is despite the fact that the December 2007 National Intelligence Estimate concluded that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program in the fall of 2003, a stark reversal of previous Administration assessments."

The administration, in rhetoric that is eerily similar to that used to build the case for a war against Iraq, asserts that the Iranian Quds Force is arming anti-American groups in Iraq and providing them with high-tech roadside bombs and sophisticated rockets. It dismisses the National Intelligence Estimate conclusion that Iran suspended its nuclear weapons program. The White House has not provided evidence to back up its claims. I suspect it never will. And when Israel's Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz tells the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth an attack on Iran is "unavoidable" if Tehran does not halt its alleged nuclear weapons program, what he is really telling us is we should prepare for war.

Conyers' threat is too little too late, especially if the Bush White House, possibly assisted by Israel, launches airstrikes on some or all of 1,000 selected Iranian targets in the final weeks of the administration. But it is an effort. Conyers tried.

This is more than we can say for the presumptive Democratic nominee. Obama went before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on Wednesday and said he will stand with the right-wing Israeli government, even if this means backing an attack on Iran.

"As president I will use all elements of American power to pressure Iran," he said. "I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Everything."

Obama went on to blame the Palestinians for the conflict, although the ratio of Palestinians to Israelis killed in 2007 was 40 to 1. This is an increase from 30 to 1 in 2006 and 4 to 1 in 2000-2005.

"I will bring to the White House an unshakable commitment to Israel's security. That starts with ensuring Israel's qualitative military advantage, ..." Obama told AIPAC. "I will ensure Israel can defend itself from any threat, from Gaza to Tehran. ..."

Obama spoke about Israelis whose houses were damaged by the crude rockets, most made out of old pipes, fired from Gaza on Israeli towns. He never mentioned the Israeli siege of Gaza, the world's largest open-air prison, or that Israel was deploying fighter jets and helicopters to attack densely crowded refugee camps with missiles and iron fragmentation bombs or that it had cut off food and fuel. He ignored the steady expansion of Jewish settlements on Palestinian land. He called for Jerusalem to become the "undivided capital" of the Jewish state, erasing Arab East Jerusalem from the map in contravention of international law. East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are internationally recognized as occupied Palestinian territories, which Israel took over in 1967. Obama's stance is the moral equivalent of assuring the Johannesburg government during the apartheid era that one would support their repressive efforts to punish the restive blacks in the townships.

The deterioration of the conflict in Israel, which would be accelerated by airstrikes on Iran and an ensuring regional war, will propel us into the Armageddon-type scenario in the Middle East relished by the lunatic fringes of the radical Christian right. And so, with Obama's enthusiastic endorsement, we barrel toward a Dr. Strangelove self-immolation. No one will be able to say we did not go out with a spectacular show of firepower, gore and death. Our European and Middle Eastern allies, who are numb with consternation over our death spiral, are frantically trying to reach out to Tehran diplomatically.

The instant we attack Iran, oil prices will double, perhaps triple. This price increase will devastate the American economy. The ensuing retaliatory strikes by Iran on Israel, as well as on American military installations in Iraq, will leave hundreds, maybe thousands, of dead. The Shiites in the region, from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan, will see an attack on Iran as a war against Shiism. They will turn with rage and violence on us and our allies. Hezbollah will renew attacks on northern Israel. And the localized war in Iraq will become a long, messy and protracted regional war that, by the time it is done, will most likely end the American empire and leave in its wake mounds of corpses and smoldering ruins.

The Israeli leadership, like the Bush White House, is increasingly bellicose and threatening. The Israeli prime minister, after a 90-minute meeting with Bush in the White House on Wednesday, said the two leaders were of one mind. "We reached agreement on the need to take care of the Iranian threat," Ehud Olmert said. "I left with a lot less questions marks [than] I had entered with regarding the means, the timetable restrictions and American resoluteness to deal with the problem. George Bush understands the severity of the Iranian threat and the need to vanquish it and intends to act on the matter before the end of his term in the White House."

This time around, unlike about the war with Iraq, the Washington bureaucracy, loathed by the Bush White House, did not remain silent and complicit. The National Intelligence Estimate on Iran's nuclear program released last Dec. 3 distinguished Iran's enrichment of uranium at Natanz and Arak from its formal nuclear weapons program, which it said had halted in 2003 after the American invasion of Iraq. Adm. Fallon, who put his country and his integrity before his career, spoke out against a war with Iran, tried to stop it and lost his job as the head of CENTCOM. He has been replaced with Gen. David H. Petraeus, whose devotion to his career admits no such moral impediments.

" ... There is no greater threat to Israel or peace than Iran," Obama assured AIPAC. "This audience is made up of both Republicans and Democrats. And the enemies of Israel should have no doubt that regardless of party, Americans stand shoulder to shoulder in support of Israel's security. ... The Iran regime supports violent extremists and challenges us across the region. It pursues a nuclear capability that could spark a dangerous arms race and ... its president denies the Holocaust and threatens to wipe Israel off the map. ... [M]y goal will be to eliminate this threat."

Barack Obama, when we need sane leadership the most, has proved feckless and weak. He, and the Democratic leadership, is as morally bankrupt as those preparing to ignite our funeral pyre in the Middle East.
(c) 2008 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. His latest book is American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.







Death By Privatization

On January 2nd, yet another American soldier died in Iraq. But Staff Sergeant Ryan Maseth, a highly-decorated Green Beret, didn't die from a roadside bomb or an al Queda sniper. He was killed by his shower.

More accurately, Sgt. Maseth's killer was privatization. That's the out-of control policy of turning over essential military support systems to a sprawling, unregulated network of for-profit corporations and letting them get away again and again with shoddy - even deadly - work.

Sgt. Maseth was safely inside his Army base in Baghdad when he reached for the shower faucet. Electricity instantly shot through the pipes, through the water itself, and through his entire body, electrocuting him. His mother, stunned, pressed the Army for details, but got only hemming and hawing at first, then she got a lie: she was told that her son had a "small appliance" with him in the shower. She knew better and kept pushing, finally learning that the facility's water pump had not been properly grounded.

Worse, Army documents reveal that Halliburton, under contract to inspect such systems, had found serious electrical problems in this facility nearly a year before Sgt. Maseth's last shower. Why wasn't it fixed? Because Halliburton's contract did not cover "fixing potential hazards," instead requiring only that it fix equipment already malfunctioning. Meanwhile, the Army itself should have known about this death trap, but under the Pentagon's convoluted privatized system, the danger that Halliburton found was not red-flagged and was never reviewed by a "qualified government employee."

At least a dozen of our soldiers have been killed by improper grounding of electrical equipment, but Halliburton coldly claims that it is not part of the Army and has no contractual obligation to prevent the electrocution of American Troops.
(c) 2008 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.








Saving Seeds - Part 2
By Mel Bartholomew

WASTEFUL SINGLE ROW GARDENING

SAVING SEEDS - PART 1 described all the reasons why I think it's not worth while to grow plants in order to save their seeds. Another thing wrong with old-fashioned, inefficient, single row gardening, which most people don't realize until it is too late, is that when you plant all those seeds at the same time in one long single row they all come to harvest at the same time. Wonder of wonders - I wonder if anyone ever thought of that as something home gardeners don't want. Farmers, yes, home gardeners, no. But no one ever told us that's what we would get. Who wants 20 heads of lettuce all within one week ? As it turns out, everything that we have been taught all our lives about single-row gardening, I began to think, was terribly wasteful and almost to the point of being really dumb. Why do we plant everything in a row and then space the row three feet apart? Why do we plant a whole packet of seeds and then thin 95% of them out?

Why do we plant so much all at once and then it all comes to harvest all at once, when for a home garden we just want a little bit but continually through the whole garden season? Why do we roto-till and fertilize and amend the soil over the entire garden area when most of it was in 3-foot wide aisles which grew nothing but a tremendous crop of weeds, especially when we watered the entire garden area? How dumb is that ?

STOP SENDING SEEDS

In our humanitarian projects and in working with other nonprofit organizations, we found the first request from both the recipients overseas and the giving organization in this country was, "We need seeds, we need lots of seeds." Everyone wants seeds and I've seen huge boxes of seeds being sent overseas and I know they are all going to be wasted by being poured out in a single-row system. I thought, "What a terrible waste and what a terrible disappointment." It stands to reason that if they use all their seeds at once, then they are going to just want more and if the donating organization can't keep shipping pounds and pounds of seeds to them, their program isn't going to be successful.

STOP TEACHING SINGLE ROW GARDENING

Now, at first, you might say, "Well, that's a very good reason then, for them to start growing their own seed." But, I say NO , go back to reasons one and two why I think it is a waste of time. It is much better to teach them an efficient, condensed planting system like Square Foot Gardening that teaches conservation, rather than stick to an antiquated, inefficient system that merely promotes and breeds more inefficiency and waste in every single step of the way.

START USING SQUARE FOOT METHOD

Since Square Foot Gardening takes only 20% of the space of a conventional garden, it also takes less than 5% of the seeds and that is because we don't waste seeds or plant too many, only to have to thin them out. If you recall the SFG planting directions, you will remember that we just put a pinch of seeds. See Rule No. 8 of the SFG Ten Basics and that is plant only a pinch (2 or 3 seeds) in each hole or each space. Now if you start with a packet of 1,000 lettuce seeds and there are four plants per square foot and you put in 2-3 seeds in each hole, you've only planted 10 seeds for each square foot of lettuce. Divide 1,000 by 10 and you have enough seeds in that one packet for 100 people. And that is just one slender thin packet of seeds. Compare that with the 100 people each planting an entire packet of seeds - 100 packets vs. 1 packet - that's efficiency. That's Square Foot Gardening !

ELIMINATE THINNING

Remember also that when the seeds do sprout, rather than conventional single-row thinning, which actually disturbs the one plant you want to save, we take a pair of scissors and snip off the extra one or two sprouts leaving one plant per space. That also reduces the risk of the gardener wanting to transplant the extras and put one here and one there and pretty soon they are too crowded. Square Foot Gardening allows every plant to be in the exact perfect spacing for that variety.

TRY CONSERVATION

In summary then, I would say in order to conserve your seeds, plant wisely and efficiently and there will be enough seeds for every garden, rather than trying to spend extra time, space, energy, water, etc., to allow the plants to go to seed and try to save those seeds for next year's garden. It's a lot easier to store the left over packet of unused seeds, than to grow even more.

STORE FOR NEXT YEAR

The other thing that SFG teaches is to store your left over packets for the next planting, even if it's next year. Stored cool and dry, your seeds will last for many years. That's not easy in tropical, developing countries, but storage in a Ziploc or plastic bag in the coolest, driest spot in the house is well worthwhile.

REPACKAGING MAKES SENSE

One of the procedures we use at the Square Foot Gardening Foundation, is to repackage seeds into small zip-lock plastic bags and put just enough for

that variety in one square foot, or maybe two plantings when using a pinch of seeds times the spacing. This may seem like a lot of work, but it allows everyone to receive and to realize that conservation of seeds is the primary first step in gardening. I again repeat - seeds are very inexpensive. Why do you think there are so many seeds in a $1.49 packet of lettuce seeds ? It is because the packaging and the marketing of those seeds cost a zillion times more than the actual seeds do. I would venture to say that in one $1.49 packet, even when you get 1,000 seeds, those actual seeds are worth probably less than 10 cents. It is all the other things that go with running a business and getting the product out to the public that is so expensive. Just the transportation alone is probably much more costly than the seeds themselves.

RARE AND REMOTE

There may be exceptions to the above advice about not trying to grow your own seeds, but it would have to involve very rare and difficult-to-find seeds or if you are in a location that is so remote no one can get another packet of seeds to you for the next five years. Let's teach conservation and efficiency so all of our gardening aid programs can be more successful.
(c) 2008 Mel Bartholomew is an inventor, author, and founder of the Square Foot Gardening Foundation.






Marine Corps Martial Law?

-- An Indy Alert Update --

By Maj. William B. Fox
Capt. Eric H. May
Dr. James H. Fetzer
SFC Donald Buswell

-- Indianapolis 6 News reporter: "The Marine Corps is aiming for realistic training to bring the sights and sounds of war to Indianapolis ..."

-- Indianapolis 6 News anchor: "Hopefully the people will not be alarmed by what they see."

Daily Newscaster, June 3, "Marines to Begin Martial Law Training in Indianapolis"

* * *

The Bush administration and its neo-con hardliners are cleverly preparing the U.S. military and the American people for martial law. Shortly after 9/11, they created a nationwide U.S. military Northern Command and a nationwide police force, Homeland Security. They wanted to protect us against more terror attacks, they said. Since then, NorthCom and HomeSec have been running increasingly intrusive martial law-style terror drills. They aim to set up a war-ready police state - one in which there will be no questions about past failures and crimes.

In her article "Fascist America, In 10 Easy Steps,", Naomi Wolf describes how the Bush administration is taking all 10 steps. She explains that in 2006 the Thai military sent troops into residential areas as part of its coup de etat. She might have pointed out that aspiring dictator Augusto Pinochet of Chile sent troops through residential neighborhoods on "exercises" before his 1973 coup de etat to condition Chileans for martial law.

America's founders opposed foreign entanglements because they knew that the same Leviathan military machine that could crush foreigners abroad could also oppress citizens at home. After the neo-cons orchestrated the American invasion of Iraq, they encouraged Israeli "Gaza-style" tactics against Iraqis, as well as torture.

A year ago, the Bush administration created NSPD-51, which effects martial law in the event of an emergency. Under the provisions of NSPD-51, the Bush administration itself will be able to decide just what constitutes such an emergency. It has steadfastly refused to explain the particulars of the directive to Congressional leaders, including Bernie Thompson, Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. On July 20, an apprehensive Oregon Representative Peter DeFaszio confided to journalists: "Maybe the people who think there's a conspiracy out there are right."

* * * A week ago, we co-authored the "Indy Alert" about the June 4-19 terror drills that have brought 2,300 Marines of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) from Camp Lejuene, N.C. to the Indianapolis area. For the next two weeks, fully armed, battle-dressed Marines will conduct urban warfare against hypothetical terrorist cells in local communities. Recent and current events have raised fears both in and out of Indianapolis that the terror drills presage martial law.

-- In April 2008, a law enforcement official described joint Federal and state "Operation Sudden Impact" as "martial law training."

-- In mid-May, a FEMA concentration camp drill went "live" in Waterloo, Iowa, resulting in the largest mass arrest in Iowa history. "Secretive FEMA Camp Drill Running in Iowa"

-- Tuesday, The Lone Star Iconoclast posted "Explosive Expose -- US/BP Terror Drill," which detailed SWAT-style terror drills at the refinery, and efforts of local officials to hide them from the public. The Police News, a Texas law enforcement journal, republished the article.

-- Thursday, the Washington Post article "D.C. Police to Check Drivers In Violence-Plagued Trinidad" reported that police are setting up a military check point system inside the nation's capitol. Arthur Spitzer, legal director for the ACLU's Washington office, said: "My reaction is, welcome to Baghdad, D.C ...I mean, this is craziness. In this country, you don't have to show identification or explain to the police why you want to travel down a public street."

* * *

The FBI set up the Indianapolis terror drills, according to 26th MEU Public Affairs Officer 1LT Timothy Patrick. Major T.A. Smith, Chief Deputy of the Bartholomew County Sheriff's Office, told us that the Department of Homeland Security was also involved in planning the drills.

We contacted Special Agent Robert Myrick, the FBI's lead agent for the exercise, who refused to answer questions. He referred us to Wendy Osborn of FBI Public Affairs, who referred us back to the 26th MEU.

According to Lt. Patrick, until June 19 Marines will be identifying, targeting, and executing raids on designated "terrorist cells" in abandoned houses and industrial buildings. Each raid will involve between a squad and a platoon of Marines, and will be preceded by the arrival of a public affairs detachment urging civilians not to be alarmed. Most raids will be at night, and will not be announced until shortly before they take place. Local police and other first responders will handle traffic, answer complaints, and evacuate possible casualties.

The 26th MEU has a new Military Operations Urban Terrain (MOUT), or urban combat training village, at Camp Lejeune. Much closer to Camp Lejeune than Indiana, the FBI has its own extensive "Hogan's Alley" urban combat training center in Quantico, Va.

When asked about the need to go all the way to Indiana to train in civilian communities, Lt. Patrick responded that all this would help take Marines "out of their comfort zone" and go beyond "muscle memory."

* * *

Neither the Marines nor Indiana police had been briefed on the significance of the Posse Comitatus Act, which establishes the separation of military and police functions. None of them believed that they were part of an emerging police state or a future state of martial law. Former Marines and police tend to be more aware about the post-9/11 state of affairs. Many of them state their concerns at Patriots Question 911. True supporters of the Marine Corps should oppose the neo-con attempt to turn it into a Nazi Waffen S.S. or Soviet NKVD by letting it loose inside our civilian communities. The ultimate mission of the Marine Corps is to protect and defend the Constitution, not to practice waging war against America.

* * *

Dr. James H. Fetzer and Major William B. Fox are former Marine Corps officers. Captain Eric H. May and Sergeant First Class Donald Buswell are former members of Army intelligence.

For further reading:

Dr. James H. Fetzer, "9/11 and the Neo-Con Agenda."

Captain Eric H. May, "Amerika Uber Alles'-Our Nazi Nation."
(c) 2008 Captain May is a former Army military intelligence and public affairs officer, as well as a former NBC editorial writer. His political and military analyses have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Houston Chronicle, Military Intelligence Magazine and is the intelligence correspondent for Issues & Alibis magazine. For his homepage and schedule of upcoming interviews, refer to his homesite.







Degrees Of Significance
The Nomination of Barack Obama
By Chris Floyd

The symbolic significance of Obama Barack's nomination victory is not insubstantial. In a land where, not so long ago, having the slightest drop of "Negro blood" in your genetic inheritance was enough to bar you -- legally and formally -- from many jobs, educational opportunities, places of residence, medical care, full participation in society, etc. (and where these obstacles still persist, in practice if not in law, for many people), it is striking to see a man whose father was not only black but also a "full-blooded African" (cue the psychosexual "Mandingo" anxieties of generations of trembly white folk) on the doorstep of the White House. At the very least -- until the novelty wears off (and novelty wears off very, very quickly in America)-- if Obama wins the presidency, there will be some aesthetic relief in seeing a different kind of face on the tee-vee mouthing various pieties, refusing to take any options off the table, etc., in place of the long procession of pasty white males of Northern European descent.

As for the substantial significance of Obama's nomination win, there is none. The only thing that really matters is what the human being named Barack Obama will do with power (if he gets it), and not his skin color. Or to put it another way: What difference did Colin Powell's status as a non-white person in the highest cabinet office make when the question of aggressive war was on the line? None. He was later replaced not only by another non-white person, but by a non-white female, Condi Rice. What difference did Rice's ethnicity and gender make to her collusion with the Bush faction's brutal policies of aggressive war, torture, rendition, state terror, etc.? None.

The salient point of this truly degrading campaign has always been: what will the winner do in office? Will he (there is no need to add the "or she" now) immediately begin the process of withdrawing from Iraq and making reparations for the mass slaughter and mass destruction of our war crime there? And speaking of war crimes, will the winner instigate investigation and prosecution of Bush Administration officials for a host of high crimes, foreign and domestic? Will he begin the process of winding down America's worldwide military empire of more than 700 bases? Will he halt the militarization of space? Will he end the multi-generational boondoggle of "missile defense"? Will he call for the immediate repeal of the draconian Bankruptcy Bill, that bipartisan weapon of mass destruction in the elite's unrelenting class war against working people, artisans, small business owners and the poor?

These are just a very few of the many essential and highly urgent issues that a new president committed to genuine change in the corrupted currents of our moribund Republic would have to take on. It goes without saying that John McCain will do none of the things outlined above. He is a dedicated, unashamed errand boy of empire, and would never upset the apple cart -- and long-term agenda -- of the war-profiteering class and its many courtiers and dependents.

And by every indication we have seen so far, it is increasingly obvious that Barack Obama won't do these things either. How can we know this? Because, as a member of the United States Senate, he could have already been actively addressing these burning issues -- had he wanted to. He could have introduced bills of impeachment against Bush and Cheney for their high crimes. He could have already introduced bills calling for the repeal of the Military Commissions Act and the Bankruptcy Bill. He could have introduced bills outlawing rendition, closing the concentration camp on Guantanamo Bay, shutting down the worldwide gulag of "secret prisons." He could have introduced a bill calling for the full and completely withdrawal of American forces from Iraq, and reparations for the Iraqis. He could have introduced bills rolling back the empire of bases, cutting off funds for missile defense, condemning the U.S. government's pivotal role in suffering and brutality in Somalia. He could not have stopped the war, closed Gitmo, restored the Constitution, prosecuted the Administration criminals for war crimes, torture, treason, corruption and malfeasance all by himself. But he could have at least tried to set the ball rolling, using all the institutional instruments -- and popular acclaim -- at his command to try to force action on these and other issues. But he did not do so; he is not doing so now; and there is no reason to believe that he will do so in the future, despite the eloquent lip service he occasionally pays to one or two of these points.

And already, a rather sinister theme is being woven into the heroic narrative of his campaign triumph. I'm in the "Homeland" at the moment, with a rare full exposure to the blisteringly stupid television news. And within minutes of the first word of Hillary Clinton's suspension of her campaign, I saw talking heads reaching out and giving America a big ole hug of self-congratulation for Obama's victory. "I think this speaks very well of us as a people," said one earnest commentator, a no-doubt "progressive" academic eagerly supplying a soundbite through his neatly-trimmed beard. "I think it makes us look great!" enthused no less an expert than Jim "Ace Ventura" Carey, who was collared at some sort of green consciousness event and asked his opinion of the historic development. The conventional wisdom "takeaway" was already solidifying: America is uniquely great and divinely special, because we've allowed a black man to win a presidential nomination -- and he's still alive! That's the kind of people we are. USA! USA!

But a more accurate picture of "the kind of people we are" can be found in an excellent post by Bernard Chazelle at A Tiny Revolution. As Chazelle notes, vast swathes of Americans have shown themselves to be eager, avid supporters of terrorism -- as long as it's terrorism that works, terrorism that gets the job done quickly and efficiently without getting all bogged down in complications and stuff that sometimes clutters up the teevee. You should read the whole article, but here are some excerpts:

The point of this post is not that attacking Iraq was bad (though it was); it is not that Shock-and-Awe was terrorism (though it was). It is that Bush, for once, did not lie. He asked us with utter clarity and no ambiguity whatsoever: do you want to be a terrorist? And America said yes. The question "Shall we do Shock-and-Awe?" does not mean "Do you want to avenge 9/11?" or "Do you want to liberate Iraqis?" or "Do you want to remove a WMD threat?" If it did, it would be phrased differently. There is no need to invoke terror for any of these purposes. But Shock-and-Awe explicitly appeals to the intention of terrorizing. "Do you want to do Shock-and-Awe?" means "Do you want to be a terrorist?" For this one time, the US government told the truth and called its own terrorism by its name. America understood, and America cheered....

When you plan a bombing attack on a major city and you call it Shock-and-Awe, you quite clearly intend to cause horrendous fear in the population. That would be the standard interpretation of anyone with minimum fluency in the English language: shock, awe, bombs. What else could it mean?

Indeed, the meaning of "Shock and Awe" has always been clear. Chazelle goes on to quote from the two military scholars who first clearly explicated the doctrine:

Shock-and-Awe is explained in great detail in a 1996 book written by its two architects, Ullman and Wade. The authors explain in it that the goal is to control "means of communication, transportation, food production, water supply, and other aspects of infrastructure." The objective is to cause the threat and fear of action that may shut down all or part of the adversary's society.

One seeks to shut down, not the military infrastructure, but the adversary's society. Am I putting too much emphasis on just one unfortunate choice of words? Let's hear Ullman elaborate on the subject:

"You're sitting in Baghdad and all of a sudden you're the general and 30 of your division headquarters have been wiped out. You also take the city down. By that I mean you get rid of their power, water. In 2,3,4,5 days they are physically, emotionally and psychologically exhausted."

It's unambiguous. The goal is to use violence to inspire fear in a way that will shut down all or part of society. The objective is the same as that of 9/11: bring a society to its knees by using terror. (The Ullman-Wade book even mentions Hiroshima approvingly as an example of Shock-and-Awe.)

Shock-and-awe is factually, conceptually, and morally equivalent to or worse than 9/11. Factually: Iraq Body Count estimated the death toll [of the initial "Shock-and-Awe attack at the beginning of the war] at more than 6,000, which is twice 9/11. Conceptually: The means are terrorism, i.e., the goal is to achieve political ends through violence and fear against innocent people. Morally: this was not self-defense or even retaliation; it was premeditated murder of thousands of innocent civilians (including many more children than on 9/11).

When people tell you Americans can't understand "Islamofascist terrorists," tell them that Americans, in fact, are uniquely qualified to understand bin Laden.

Will Obama -- in the White House or on the campaign trail -- denounce the "War on Terror" for what it really is: a war of state terror, waged almost entirely against civilian populations? He has not done so; indeed, on his website he calls for fighting the War on Terror in a "smarter way." (There will be no inefficient, cluttery terrorism when Obama is on the job!) He wants an even bigger, more powerful, more "stealthy" military. He wants to go into Pakistan where, he says, there are "tens of thousands of terrorists" who have "made their choice to attack America." Think of that: a vast horde of terrorists just chomping at the bit to attack America. How can we, in good conscience, NOT attack those Pakistani badlands?

Here Obama indulges in the favorite Bush-McCain pastime of equating every opponent of U.S. policy with an al Qaeda terrorist longing to hit the "Homeland." There are tens of thousands of supporters of the Taliban (both the Afghan and Pakistani branches) in the region, almost none of which have remotely "made the choice to attack America." (The original Taliban was against al Qaeda plans to attack the United States, and offered to turn bin Laden over to international justice after 9/11 -- but you won't hear Obama waxing lyrical on that theme.) Instead, he conjures up a whole new enemy -- "tens of thousands" of America-attacking vipers nursing in Pakistan's bosom -- to keep the Terror War going strong.

So here is the significance of Obama's nomination: More Terror War. More murder -- directly, by proxy, by remote control. More manufactured enemies. A continued military presence in Iraq (all "combat troops" withdrawn, eventually, maybe, but other troops left there to "target al Qaeda in Iraq"). No reparations. A bigger, faster, more far-reaching military wrapping the globe. No options taken off the table -- ever.

Hey, you know what? The novelty is wearing off already.
(c) 2008 Chris Floyd







US Issues Threat To Iraq's $50 Billion Foreign Reserves In Military Deal
By Patrick Cockburn

The US is holding hostage some $50bn (£25bn) of Iraq's money in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to pressure the Iraqi government into signing an agreement seen by many Iraqis as prolonging the US occupation indefinitely, according to information leaked to The Independent.

US negotiators are using the existence of $20bn in outstanding court judgments against Iraq in the US, to pressure their Iraqi counterparts into accepting the terms of the military deal, details of which were reported for the first time in this newspaper yesterday.

Iraq's foreign reserves are currently protected by a presidential order giving them immunity from judicial attachment but the US side in the talks has suggested that if the UN mandate, under which the money is held, lapses and is not replaced by the new agreement, then Iraq's funds would lose this immunity. The cost to Iraq of this happening would be the immediate loss of $20bn. The US is able to threaten Iraq with the loss of 40 per cent of its foreign exchange reserves because Iraq's independence is still limited by the legacy of UN sanctions and restrictions imposed on Iraq since Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in the 1990s. This means that Iraq is still considered a threat to international security and stability under Chapter Seven of the UN charter. The US negotiators say the price of Iraq escaping Chapter Seven is to sign up to a new "strategic alliance" with the United States.

The threat by the American side underlines the personal commitment of President George Bush to pushing the new pact through by 31 July. Although it is in reality a treaty between Iraq and the US, Mr Bush is describing it as an alliance so he does not have to submit it for approval to the US Senate.

Iraqi critics of the agreement say that it means Iraq will be a client state in which the US will keep more than 50 military bases. American forces will be able to carry out arrests of Iraqi citizens and conduct military campaigns without consultation with the Iraqi government. American soldiers and contractors will enjoy legal immunity.

The US had previously denied it wanted permanent bases in Iraq, but American negotiators argue that so long as there is an Iraqi perimeter fence, even if it is manned by only one Iraqi soldier, around a US installation, then Iraq and not the US is in charge.

The US has security agreements with many countries, but none are occupied by 151,000 US soldiers as is Iraq. The US is not even willing to tell the government in Baghdad what American forces are entering or leaving Iraq, apparently because it fears the government will inform the Iranians, said an Iraqi source.

The fact that Iraq's financial reserves, increasing rapidly because of the high price of oil, continue to be held in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York is another legacy of international sanctions against Saddam Hussein. Under the UN mandate, oil revenues must be placed in the Development Fund for Iraq which is in the bank.

The funds are under the control of the Iraqi government, though the US Treasury has strong influence on the form in which the reserves are held.

Iraqi officials say that, last year, they wanted to diversify their holdings out of the dollar, as it depreciated, into other assets, such as the euro, more likely to hold their value. This was vetoed by the US Treasury because American officials feared it would show lack of confidence in the dollar.

Iraqi officials say the consequence of the American action was to lose Iraq the equivalent of $5bn. Given intense American pressure on a weak Iraqi government very dependent on US support, it is still probable that the agreement will go through with only cosmetic changes. Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the immensely influential Shia cleric, could prevent the pact by issuing a fatwa against it but has so far failed to do so.

The Grand Ayatollah met Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, the leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI), which is the main supporter of the Iraqi government, earlier this week and did not condemn the agreement or call for a referendum. He said, according to Mr Hakim, that it must guarantee Iraqi national sovereignty, be transparent, command a national consensus and be approved by the Iraqi parliament. Critics of the deal fear that the government will sign the agreement, and parliament approve it, in return for marginal concessions.
(c) 2008 Patrick Cockburn is the Middle East correspondent for the British newspaper The Independent, he was awarded the 2005 Martha Gellhorn prize for war reporting. His book on his years covering the war in Iraq, The Occupation: War and Resistance in Iraq (Verso) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for non-fiction.







U.S. Oil Independence; Not!
Good Morning Middle America, your King of Simple News is on the air.
By Mike Folkerth

Way, way back in ancient times, all the way back to 1973, the members of OPEC threw the U.S. into a recession by establishing an oil embargo. In other words, they cut us off from their oil and the U.S. suffered its first fuel shortage since the end of WWII.

OPEC consists of Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Qatar, Indonesia, Socialist Peoples Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Nigeria, Ecuador, Angola and Gabon. As you can see, these are all well governed stable countries and friends of the U.S. who we can trust.

For those of you who believe that, I am looking for investors for my new invention that burns plain dirt in your automobile.

But getting back to 1973; never underestimate our government leaders' abilities to deal with the most challenging of adversaries...by giving a speech. Richard Nixon gave a dandy in November of 1974.

Mr. Nixon was on a roll that day and trotted out his "Project Independence." The United States, Nixon asserted, should be independent of all oil producing countries, "including our Canadian friends," by 1976. Canadians "can be pretty tough on us sometimes when they are looking down our throats." I suspect that Mr. Nixon may have previously been enjoying another famous Canadian import, fine blended whiskey.

The U.S. of course, would never take advantage of our neighbors...unless under the unusual circumstance of our having something that they wanted.

Nixon went on to promise massive public funding for the exploration of American's remaining energy resources-Alaskan oil and gas, offshore oil reserves, nuclear energy and synthetic fuels from coal and oil shale. Well, if that won't do it what would?

Mr. Nixon's plan worked so well that by 1977, the United States was importing a new record high of 46.5 percent of the oil that we needed to fuel our vehicles, heat our homes, and run our industry.

Okay just a minor setback, but have no fear, government is here. In reaction to the continual rising prices and elevated levels of imports, our Nation established a Department of Energy, spent billions of dollars on researching and finding new sources of energy supply, and redesigned our cars, houses, and factories to make them more energy efficient. Hear, hear.

This heroic effort of increasing government while spending billions of dollars and ignoring all geological and scientific evidence to the contrary, has over the past 31 years, been extremely effective at increasing our foreign oil dependence to 75%.

You will note that all of the solutions touted in 1973 are the same ones that are being rerun in 2008. The problem in 1973 was of course that oil is finite, while the problem in 2008 is that oil is finite.

How good is government forecasting? The Annual Energy Outlook 1998 (AEO98) reference case, projected that net dependence would exceed 50 percent in 2000 and rise to 66 percent by 2020. How about 75% in 2008? This is your tax money at work.

Americans aren't real keen on history, but who needs it? Once we start drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, I bet we can increase foreign oil dependence to at least 95%. After all, that does seem to be the trend.

I should point out that every president since Nixon has made the same promise regarding oil independence. But, since history isn't all that interesting, how about we take a little futuristic tour? I'm bettin' that the oil embargo of 1973 will look like a trip to Disneyland compared to the one that's coming up. What say you?
(c) 2008 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...



"The greatest tyrannies are always perpetrated in the name of the noblest causes."
~~~ Thomas Paine








When A Little Dissent Is Too Much
By Norman Solomon

Over the years, once in a great while, I've been surprised to cross paths with a journalist at a major TV outlet who actually seems willing and able to go outside the conventional boundaries of media discourse.

That's what happened one day in the fall of 2005 at the Boston headquarters of the CN8 television network, owned and operated by the corporate media giant Comcast. I showed up for an interview about my book "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death." My expectations weren't very high.

After all, I was setting foot in the studios of a large commercial TV channel with wide distribution of its programming in New England and beyond. And Comcast, shall we say, has earned a reputation as a voracious media conglomerate with scant interest in the public interest.

I was scheduled to appear on a prime-time nightly show hosted by Barry Nolan, a longtime TV newsman. When the cameras started rolling, it quickly became clear that he'd actually read the book -- and was willing to explore its documentation and damning implications about the use of media to drag the United States into one war after another.

Wow, I thought. This guy Nolan has some guts. I wonder how he gets away with it.

As I later learned, Nolan -- then in his late 50s -- had a long record of satisfying the producers of high-profile TV shows. Overall, he was hardly a renegade. During most of the 1990s, for instance, he was an anchor of "Hard Copy," a syndicated and rather tabloid-like TV show.

I was interviewed by Nolan two more times, most recently last fall. I found him consistently well-informed, thoughtful, concerned with substance and willing to follow evidence to logical conclusions.

Nolan was apparently trying to provide the kind of public affairs coverage that's in short supply from a TV world of superficial cable quip-fests and defamations.

In other words, Barry Nolan was trying to be what Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly is not.

And it turns out that Nolan isn't just a good journalist. He's also someone willing to take a risk on behalf of his conscience.

"Barry Nolan's opinion of Bill O'Reilly spun him right out of his job," the ABC News website reported late last month. "The fed-up TV newsman lost his anchor seat after protesting a decision by a New England media association to bestow its top journalism award on the Fox News anchor."

Comcast fired Nolan from his job as an anchor at the network's "Backstage" program. While Nolan was free to think it was outrageous that the New England chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences opted to give its highest honor to O'Reilly, the network's problem was that Nolan actually did something about it.

At a May 10 banquet for the awards ceremony, Nolan passed out a six-page summary of some of the low points of O'Reilly's career. "Nolan said he objects to the commentator's bullying style, claiming that O'Reilly frequently bends the facts in order to get across what he described as venomous opinions," ABC News reported online. "It's not the type of journalism that should be recognized in the profession for excellence, he said."

The Comcast management thought that Nolan's use of the First Amendment was unbecoming of an anchor.

Barry Nolan's response: "I'm interested in telling everyone in the country to stand up and say something is wrong when something is wrong. We've been through an awful dark time in our history where there are a lot of people telling you to sit down and shut up. From Dick Cheney to Bill O'Reilly, I'm done with bullies."

Later, in an article that appeared on the Think Progress website, Nolan elaborated: "O'Reilly was an appalling choice, not because of his political views, but because he simply gets the facts wrong, abuses his guests and the powerless in general, is delusional, and, well, you might want to Google: Narcissistic Personality Disorder."

But what Barry Nolan quietly passed out at the awards dinner was not a matter of opinion. He provided information -- in particular, direct quotes from O'Reilly. And that was too much for the Comcast network. As Nolan puts it, "I got fired from my job on a news and information network for reporting demonstrably true things in a room full of news people."
(c) 2008 Norman Solomon's book "Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State" just came off the press. The foreword is by Daniel Ellsberg. For more information, go to: www.MadeLoveGotWar.com. The documentary film "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death," based on Norman Solomon's book of the same name, went into home-video release and is now available on DVD from Netflix, Amazon and similar outlets. For more information, go to: www.WarMadeEasyTheMovie.org.







Farewell, All You Old Homophobes
California's extraordinary, newfound majority support for gay marriage? Thank the young
By Mark Morford

It's a generational thing, you could say, grinning just a little as you do so.

It's because younger people today - those under, say, 45 or so - have been far more exposed to the gay "lifestyle" and to more fluid notions of gender and sexuality, to the idea of homosexuality as a common, nonthreatening, everyday, what's-the-big-deal shrug, and therefore, as a demographic, they/we understand that allowing gay people to wed doesn't actually mean our shaky notions of God and family and society will collapse like a priest's willpower at a Boy Scout jamboree.

This, I think, was perhaps the most fascinating tidbit of insight to emerge from the most recent poll of Californians where, for the first time in state history, a majority of those polled said they support the idea of gay marriage and/or oppose a new and vile push for a state constitutional amendment to ban it outright. And that majority consists, by and large, of the young.

It's an intriguing - if slightly morbid - thing to note, because on the flip side, the poll also found that most people over age 65 don't like the idea of gay marriage one little bit because, well, they usually can't exactly explain why, though it's not difficult to guess: It's what they were taught, what was implied, it's what their own parents passed on to them, as did their church, their culture, society as it was during their upbringing, and it was largely a narrow and repressed and sexually unaware period that finally, mercifully seems to be gasping its last.

And hence the obvious conclusion: It's only because the "Greatest Generation" is finally dying off that something like gay marriage can be realized as less of a silly threat. Or, more bluntly: As die the old, so dies the ugly intolerance so many of them carried like a sad, hereditary disease.

I know, it sounds a bit harsh. And it probably is. But just looking at the raw data, it appears to be one of the more lucid, clear-cut cases of generational upheavals in recent history. Hell, just 30 years ago, support for gay marriage was a measly 28 percent. In 1985, it was 42 percent. Now, at least according to one major poll (others aren't quite there yet, but it's getting very close) it's 51 percent, and growing fast.

What's more, among those 18 to 29 years old, support is at a whopping 68 percent, whereas only 36 percent of people over 65 think it's totally OK to love whomever you want and marry them and then redecorate the kitchen and fight about appliances and money and sex and kids and, later, who gets the dog in the divorce.

Translation: The tipping point has finally been reached, and there's no going back. Gay marriage as an issue, as a hot button, as a nasty right-wing political weapon will soon vanish into the dustbin of history. I mean, thank God.

But is it fair to say that it's always the older generations who cling to outmoded, oppressive inhibitions and constraints, who tend to impede real progress and social change because, well, they just don't understand the new ideas and what's happening around them (Hi, Sen. McCain!) because, as the disheartening maxim goes, the older you get the more you tend to stiffen and clamp down and mummify your notions of how it's all supposed to work? Sure seems that way.

Then again, it's also certainly no universal truth; I get plenty of e-mail from wonderful, open-minded septuagenarians who happily celebrate the notion of gay marriage (or a female president, or a black president, or the green movement, or teaching "real" sexuality in schools, and so on), just as I get plenty of nauseating e-mail from young, violently homophobic Midwestern "fag"-haters who wouldn't know open-minded gender fluidity if their favorite NASCAR driver suddenly revealed a passion for tiramisu and old Judy Garland movies.

Either way, you gotta admit, it's sort of staggering, this shift. It's also sort of wonderful. Because it also means that, while the brutal Bush regime tried to clamp down and convince everyone that clinging to homophobia and Biblical literalism was actually a nice way to live, all it did was create a nasty little speed bump.

So then, can you extend this line of thinking a bit? Can you suggest, say, the fact that Hillary Clinton came within inches of the Democratic presidential nomination also indicates a similar generational turning point, because it marks the long overdue death of a certain strain of vile, tired sexism that's been carried around for generations by the old-boy network?

Maybe you can. Because my guess is, the next time a smart, experienced, wildly able female runs for president, few in the culture will really blink an eye and we'll only hear the most tepid of sexist grunting from old timer pundits over on Fox News, simply because the upcoming generation of young women will be, by default, far more empowered and skilled and experienced than ever before. Yes, Hillary helped pave the way, but so did, you know, death.

Same goes for Barack Obama. His broad, rather astonishing appeal to the normally apolitical younger generation isn't merely due to his own youthfulness, or the fact that he knows what the Internet is, whereas you get the impression John McCain still can't set the clock on his VCR. No, much of Obama's incredible success can largely be credited to the blessed - and quite literal - dying off of some very old, ugly ideas of race and how a president is supposed to look.

These are some big moments. These are socio-cultural milestones, heavy and historic and powerful, and they suddenly seem to be coming faster and at a more invigorating pace than ever. It's doubly interesting given how society usually progresses in fits and starts and random convulsions; it expands and contracts and only rarely makes unmistakable, permanent leaps forward.

Not this time. This is like a massive chunk of the cultural iceberg finally falling away, revealing strange and lovely new passageways into the human experiment.

So then, perhaps the most important question of all has nothing to do with homosexuality, or politics, or silly "culture wars," or even stunning generational flips. After all, while it might be sardonic fun to cheer the end of the old folks and their oppressive beliefs, no generation is ever immune to suddenly turning into the very thing it once professed to be railing against. (Witness, won't you, aging, panicky Generation X's hot frustration with whiny, spoiled little Gen Y. So cute.)

Maybe the most vital question is, how to stay flexible? No matter your upbringing, your generational biases, your received opinions and hatreds and viewpoints, how do you crack open your heart to new possibilities, invite new perspectives, understand that nothing actually has to be the way you thought it had to be, before it's too late and you find yourself older and yet in some ways not at all wiser, on the ugly side of a landmark poll?
(c) 2008 Mark Morford's Notes & Errata column appears every Wednesday and Friday on SF Gate and in the Datebook section of the San Francisco Chronicle. To get on the e-mail list for this column, please click here and remove one article of clothing!





The Dead Letter Office...



Heil Bush,

Dear Direktor Furman,

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, Vidkun Quisling and last year's winner Volksjudge Anthony (Fat Tony) Kennedy.

Without your lock-step calling for the repeal of the Constitution, your support of our two coup d'etats, your constant defense of Wal-Mart's economic and labor policies, Iraq and these many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Demoncratic 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 ruby clusters presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Bush at a gala celebration at "der Wolf's Lair," formally "Rancho de Bimbo," on 07-05-2008. We salute you Herr Furman, Sieg Heil!

Signed,
Vice Fuhrer Cheney

Heil Bush




David shows how big it got when it use to get hard!


Investigate This
By Scott Ritter

"I think the questions were asked. I think we pushed. I think we prodded. I think we challenged the president. I think not only those of us in the White House press corps did that, but others in the rest of the landscape of the media did that. ... The right questions were asked. I think there's a lot of critics-and I guess we can count Scott McClellan as one-who think that, if we did not debate the president, debate the policy in our role as journalists, if we did not stand up and say, 'This is bogus,' and 'You're a liar,' and 'Why are you doing this?' that we didn't do our job. And I respectfully disagree. It's not our role."

That was NBC correspondent David Gregory, appearing on MSNBC's "Hardball With Chris Matthews." He was responding to former White House press secretary Scott McClellan's new book, "What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception." McClellan has challenged the role of the U.S. media in investigating and reporting U.S. policy in times of conflict, especially when it comes to covering the government itself.

As a critic of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, especially when unsubstantiated allegations of weapons of mass destruction are used to sell a war, I am no stranger to the concept of questioning authority, especially in times of war. I am from the Teddy Roosevelt school of American citizenship, adhering to the principle that "to announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but it is morally treasonable to the American public."

Some may point out that Roosevelt made that statement in criticism of Woodrow Wilson's foot dragging when it came to getting America into World War I, and that it is odd for one opposed to American involvement in Iraq to quote a former president who so enthusiastically embraced military intervention. But principle can cut both ways on any given issue. The principle inherent in the concept of the moral responsibility of the American people to question their leadership at all times, but especially when matters of war are at stake, is as valid for the pro as it is the con.

The validity of this principle is not judged on the level of militancy of the presidential action in question, but rather its viability as judged by the values and ideals of the American people. While the diversity of the United States dictates that there will be a divergence of consensus when it comes to individual values and ideals, the collective ought to agree that the foundation upon which all American values and ideals should be judged is the U.S. Constitution, setting forth as it does a framework of law which unites us all. To hold the Constitution up as a basis upon which to criticize the actions of any given president is perhaps the most patriotic act an American can engage in. As Theodore Roosevelt himself noted, "No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man's permission when we ask him to obey it."

Now David Gregory, and others who populate that curious slice of Americana known as "the media," may hold that they, as journalists, operate on a different level than the average American citizen. As Mr. Gregory notes, it is not their "role" to question or debate policy set forth by the president. This is curious, coming from a leading member of a news team that prides itself on the "investigative" quality of its reporting. If we take Gregory at face value, it seems his only job (or "role") is to simply parrot the policy formulations put forward by administration officials, that the integrity of journalism precludes the reporter from taking sides, and that any aggressive questioning concerning the veracity, or morality, or legality of any given policy would, in its own right, constitute opposition to said policy, and as such would be "taking sides."

This, of course, is journalism in its most puritanical form, the ideal that the reporter simply reports, and keeps his or her personal opinion segregated from the "facts" as they are being presented. While it would be a farcical stretch for David Gregory, or any other mainstream reporter or correspondent, to realistically claim ownership of such a noble mantle, it appears that is exactly what Gregory did when he set forth the parameters of what his "role" was, and is, in reporting on stories such as the issue of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and the Bush administration's case for war. For this to be valid, however, the issue of journalistic integrity would need to apply not only to the individual reporter or correspondent, but also to the entire system to which the given reporter or correspondent belonged. In the case of Gregory, therefore, we must not only bring into the mix his own individual performance, but also that of NBC News and its parent organization, General Electric.

As a weapons inspector, I was very much driven by what the facts said, not what the rhetoric implied. I maintain this standard to this day in assessing and evaluating American policy in the Middle East. It was the core approach which governed my own personal questioning of the Bush administration's case for confronting Iraq in the lead-up to the war in 2002 and 2003. I am saddened at the vindication of my position in the aftermath of the invasion and occupation of Iraq, not because of what I did, but rather what the transcripts of every media interview I conducted at the time demonstrates: The media were not interested in reporting the facts, but rather furthering a fiction. Time after time, I backed my opposition to the Bush administration's "case" for war on Iraq with hard facts, citing evidence that could be readily checked by these erstwhile journalists had they been so inclined. Instead, my integrity and character were impugned by these simple recorders of "fact," further enabling the fiction pushed by the administration into the mainstream, unchallenged and unquestioned, to be digested by the American public as truth.

Scott McClellan is correct to point out the complicity of the media in facilitating the rush to war. David Gregory is disingenuous in his denial that this was indeed the case. Jeff Cohen, a former producer at MSNBC, has written about the pressures placed on him and Phil Donahue leading to the cancellation of the latter's top-rated television show just before the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. Katie Couric, the former co-host of NBC's "Today Show" (and current news anchor for CBS News), has tacitly acknowledged "pressure" from above when it came to framing interviews in a manner that was detrimental to the Bush administration's case for war. Jessica Yellin, who before the war in Iraq worked for MSNBC, put it best: "I think the press corps dropped the ball at the beginning," she told CNN's Anderson Cooper. "When the lead-up to the war began, the press corps was under enormous pressure from corporate executives, frankly, to make sure that this was a war that was presented in a way that was consistent with the patriotic fever in the nation and the president's high approval ratings."

Now, one would think that a journalist with the self-proclaimed integrity of Gregory would jump at the opportunity to take the bull by the horns, so to speak, and focus on this story line, if for no other reason than to prove it wrong and thereby clear his name (guilty by association, at the very least) and the name of the organization he represents. The matter is simple, on the surface: NBC network executives either did, or didn't, pressure their producers and reporters when it came to covering and framing stories. Surely an investigative reporter of Gregory's talent can get to the bottom of this one?

While Gregory certainly does not need help from someone of such humble journalistic credentials as myself, perhaps my experience as a former weapons inspector in tracking down the lies and inconsistencies of the Iraqi government could be of some assistance. The first thing I would do is to frame the scope of the problem. The issue of Iraq as a target worthy of war really didn't hit the mainstream until the summer of 2002, so I would start there. I would be interested in defining the potential sources of "pressure" that could be placed on NBC as an organization when it came to reporting on Iraq.

We do know, courtesy of the Pentagon, that throughout the summer and fall of 2002, NBC News, via its Pentagon bureau chief and other contacts, worked closely with the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Public Affairs, on the issue of media access in any potential future conflict with Iraq. We also know that these meetings were an outgrowth of a meeting held on Sept. 28, 2001, when the Pentagon and bureau chiefs, including representatives from NBC News, discussed how to balance the needs of the media to do their job while protecting national security and the safety of military personnel. The issue of embedding media personnel with the military was raised, with the Pentagon emphasizing that "security at the source" was the principle means for which to ensure no security breach occurred. This meant that if journalists were so embedded, they would have to be responsible about what they reported.

This concept of self-censorship is not a new one, nor is it particularly controversial. Ernie Pyle and Joe Rosenthal, two famous journalists from World War II, were able to establish stellar reputations while operating under the conditions of wartime censorship. So were thousands of other journalists, in several wars. In this manner, journalists covering D-Day knew of the invasion long before the American public, or even members of Congress. Were they bad journalists for not reporting what they knew beforehand? Were their parent organizations corrupted by agreeing to censorship as a prerequisite for access? The answer in both cases is clearly "no."

However, in the interest of establishing a foundation of fact upon which to further any investigation into the possibility of pressure being exerted on NBC reporters and/or correspondents covering a war between the United States and Iraq, an intrepid investigator would want access to documents and records from those early meetings between the Pentagon and NBC News. What were the specific terms spelled out in those meetings? What derivative internal documents were generated inside NBC News, and its corporate master, General Electric, based upon those meetings, and what did those documents discuss? Unlike the situation faced by journalists during World War II, America and Iraq were not yet at war, so did NBC News establish policies on how to balance the operational security needs of the military while reporting on a war which, in the summer and fall of 2002, the Bush administration said wasn't being planned?

Formal planning for "Operation Iraqi Liberation" (only later renamed "Operation Iraqi Freedom") commenced early on in 2002. The U.S. Army began working on a public affairs plan early in 2002 and, in June of that year, briefed U.S. Central Command on a concept for large-scale media embedding for ground forces. U.S. Central Command expanded the Army's plan to include the other services, and by September 2002 had prepared a draft public affairs annex to the overall war plan. Formal public affairs planning for U.S. Central Command was initiated in October 2002, when a planning cell was established. In its first meeting, from Oct. 2-7, the Pentagon reviewed past media operations in time of war, and recommended a break with the past practice of a media pool, and instead suggested a formal embedded media program. These and other media-related issues were consolidated into Annex F (Public Affairs) of the formal "Operation Iraqi Liberation" war plan. It is curious that the Pentagon acknowledges a formal war plan in existence at a time when senior Bush administration officials were telling members of Congress that there were no plans to attack Iraq and that the Bush administration was focusing its efforts on diplomacy.

The embedded media program was formally endorsed by the Pentagon in November 2002. On Nov. 14, 2002, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, together with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sent a message to all military commanders discussing public affairs, and in particular the embedded media program. In it, Rumsfeld addressed how potential future operations [i.e., war with Iraq] could shape public perception of the national security environment, and recognized the need to facilitate access to national and international media to "tell the factual story-good or bad-before others seed the media with disinformation and distortions as they most certainly will continue to do. Our people in the field need to tell the story."

When did NBC News become aware of this Rumsfeld memo? Were there any reactions to the concept of embedded journalists being targeted by the military as being facilitators for disseminating a pro-Pentagon point of view? The Pentagon states that while no formal meetings about draft public affairs annex content were conducted with bureau chiefs, "informal discussions were held with some key individuals in the media, who provided input for consideration." The Pentagon also acknowledges that changes to the public affairs annex were made "based on a bureau chief's recommendation." Was NBC News part of the "informal discussions" with the Pentagon? Did NBC News provide any recommendations to the Pentagon's public affairs office based on such meetings? If so, what were the recommendations, who made them, and how was this staffed within the NBC/GE corporate structure?

These are important questions, since balancing the need to maintain secrecy of potential military operations would appear to conflict with any effort undertaken by NBC News to probe Bush administration claims on not only the justification for confronting Iraq, but whether or not there was any plan to attack Iraq to begin with. How did NBC News compartmentalize its knowledge of the Bush administration's plans to attack Iraq? Was there any crossover in terms of management? Did the same personnel who managed Pentagon relations also manage the reporters whose task it was to press the Bush administration on the veracity of its case for war against Iraq? Did such crossover ever manifest itself in a case of conflict of interest? What is the documentary record of internal discussions within NBC in this regard? Were any policies established on the control of information that touched upon sensitive military activities?

It might appear as if I am on a fishing expedition, so to speak, probing for documents for which there is no evidence that they even exist. Again, I'll do my best to help focus David Gregory on his investigation. Much has been made of the fact that parent company GE makes a great deal of money from the machinery of war. It is useful, however, to examine a specific case, an instance where the news operation, the corporate parent and the military were all too intertwined.

In November 2002, the Pentagon established formal rules that specifically forbade any journalist to "self-embed" with a given military unit, noting that all requests for embedding would be handled via the Pentagon's public affairs office. At the same time, in Kuwait, the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division brigade and battalion commanders were experimenting with embedding journalists during short (three to five days) training exercises. The 2nd Brigade Combat Team in particular pushed the embedding concept, getting journalists embedded at the battalion level. From this experience, the 2nd Brigade was able to establish embedding tactics, techniques and procedures that worked for both the media and the commanders. According to the U.S. Army, "The embeds realized they needed to work with their equipment and develop procedures for filing reports. They identified problems with the durability of their equipment and its ability to withstand the elements and a need for power sources for extended periods."

One of these embeds was NBC News correspondent David Bloom. It should be noted that Bloom tragically died while covering the Iraq war. Bloom was a rising star at NBC, with an eye for a developing story. "Early on," NBC News President Neal Shapiro said shortly after Bloom's death, "he said, 'I want a piece of this war.' " Shapiro isn't specific about the date Bloom made that statement, but since Bloom was dispatched to Kuwait in November 2002, we can assume it was on or about that time. Bloom was one of the embeds who worked closely with the U.S. Army during that time, developing the "tactics, techniques and procedures" for embedded media. In December 2002, Bloom called NBC News from Kuwait, where he had just covered the largest U.S. military live-fire exercise since the first Gulf War. Bloom told his NBC News bosses that he had been given permission to embed with the 3rd Infantry Division, even though official Pentagon policy in place at the time specifically forbade any such action. Bloom already exhibited a familiarity with the war plans of the 3rd Infantry Division, bragging that they were the "tip of the spear." Not only would Bloom and his cameraman be able to ride with the 3rd Infantry Division, they would be able to broadcast live while doing so. Clearly, Bloom and his 3rd Infantry Division colleagues had perfected their embed "tactics, techniques and procedures."

The 2nd Brigade Combat Team had offered Bloom the use of a large M-88A1 tank recovery vehicle. Bloom had worked with the Army to mount a camera and a mobile satellite transmission unit on the M-88. The images taken from the camera would be sent back, while the M-88 was traveling at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour, to a radically modified Ford F-450 SuperDuty truck that carried specialized satellite communication equipment built by Maritime Telecommunications Network, and a gyro-stabilizing transmission dish mounted underneath a protective dome on the rear body. This truck would trail the leading elements of the 3rd Infantry's spearhead at distances of up to two miles. The M-88 carrying Bloom broadcast microwave signals back to the Ford F-450 truck, which in turn transmitted these signals via satellite uplink back to NBC News headquarters.

Bloom was able to provide the specifications of his idea to his NBC bosses, and in just 40 days, engineers from Maritime Telecommunications Network and NBC were able to modify a Ford F-450 to not only withstand the rigors of the Iraqi desert, but also to accommodate the electronics and satellite dish. Four weeks before the start of the war, the vehicle was tested, only to have the signal drop every time the vehicle turned. The engineers worked frantically to fix the problem, and the modified F-450, nicknamed the "Bloommobile," was airlifted to Kuwait, arriving just days before the start of the invasion.

The cost of the Bloommobile has not been formally revealed, but is thought to run into seven figures. This vehicle would never have been made without the support of GE, which underwrote the cost of its construction. GE also fronted for NBC in negotiating special clearances with the Pentagon and State Department on exceptions to policy and import-export control. The Pentagon's official policy while the Bloommobile was being built was for embeds to ride in vehicles provided by their respective unit, and that the media were not to provide their own transportation. Clearly, the Bloommobile represented a stark exception to that rule.

Keep in mind that the entire time GE/NBC was investing millions of dollars into building the Bloommobile so they could get crystal-clear live video transmitted from the "tip of the spear," the Bush administration was playing coy on the subject of war with Iraq. With GE/NBC News so heavily invested in exploiting a war, was there any pressure placed on NBC reporters/correspondents concerning how they dealt with the Bush administration's case for war? It is a fair question, and one that could best be dealt with through an examination of the internal GE/NBC documents concerning the Bloommobile. Who in GE/NBC served as the project manager for the Bloommobile? Certainly Bloom, the brain trust, was away in Kuwait. Who oversaw the project back in the United States? What did the Bloommobile cost? What was the internal debate within GE/NBC concerning the merits/faults of the Bloommobile? An organization like GE/NBC does not allocate millions of dollars on a whim. There had to be some sort of oversight that was documented. Who in GE/NBC fronted for the Bloommobile with the U.S. government? What is the record of communication between GE/NBC and the U.S. government concerning the vehicle? Did GE/NBC have to provide the U.S. government with any guarantees concerning the use of the Bloommobile?

In investing in the vehicle, GE/NBC News was investing in the war. There are quid pro quo arrangements made every day, and the link between the U.S. government granting NBC News so many exceptions in the creation and fielding of the Bloommobile, and the crackdown within the GE-controlled NBC/MSNBC family on anti-war and anti-administration sentiment, cannot be dismissed as simply circumstantial. But a review of the available documents would clarify this issue.

David Gregory has vociferously defended the role he and NBC News played in the lead-up to the Iraq war. Scott McClellan's new book, combined with testimony from other sources, including those from within the NBC News family, has called into question the integrity of the operation Gregory serves. An allegation from a credible source has been made, and any denial must therefore be backed with verifiable, documented information. To paraphrase former Secretary of State Colin Powell when talking about Iraq before the invasion, the burden is on NBC to prove that it wasn't complicit with the Bush administration concerning its reporting on Iraq and administration policies, and not on NBC's critics to prove that it was.

The old proverb notes that "a fish stinks from its head," something that aptly describes the GE/NBC News team when discussing the issue of Iraq. I challenge David Gregory to demonstrate otherwise.
(c) 2008 Scott Ritter a former Marine Corps intelligence officer, was a chief inspector for the United Nations Special Commission in Iraq from 1991 until 1998. He is the author of several books; "Target Iran," with a new afterword by the author, was recently released in paperback by Nation Books.







Put Up Or Shut Up
By Mary Pitt

Okay, America, it's time to put up or shut up! After a couple of generations have reached maturity since the civil rights marches and all the hoopla that was brought about by the women's rights movement, we have it made on the basis of equal rights for all, right? We have banished chauvinism, both sexual and racial, and we are now the model for a modern democratic republic and an example to the rest of the world of a society that should be emulated? We shall see!

For the first time in history, we have been a part of an historic contest between a woman and a man of African extraction to represent a major party in the race for the presidency of the United States. By a narrow margin, the Democratic party has chosen a man of mixed race to represent them in the general election. The test for the nation is now whether that man or the white hero of a former war, after years of additional service in the senior body of our government, should be chosen to direct the future progress of our nation into the future and, in a sense, to guide the process of bringing the world together in a spirit of common humanity. This choice should be made in an atmosphere of civility and common cause.

There are many problems to be addressed in the coming months and the criteria with which we make our decisions are critical to the future of the entire world. Should we continue our occupation of a Middle Eastern state and threaten others with invasions if they are unaccepting of our edicts? Should we continue the current economic pattern of allowing the extremely wealthy to make their own rules and to reap the benefits of unscrupulous and excessive wealth to the detriment of the common folk, the poor, the disabled, and the elderly? Should we continue to pour trillions of dollars into the effort to subjugate a people of a different race and religion while neglecting the very real needs of the soldiers who are the real victims of this effort?

And, first and foremost, we must search our souls in the making of that decision in order to be sure that we are using the proper yardstick in measuring what out final decision should be. It is already a given that the Democratic candidate will be subjected to the worst possible form of racial discrimination that the evil minds of unrepentant bigots will be able to devise. It began during the primary season with the forwarded e-mails which branded Senator Obama as a Muslim and pointed out that his middle name is one that was shared by the tyrant of Iraq whom we were taught, (wrongly, as it turned out), to hate as an instrument of the devil himself.

In the few days since the primary count ended, the internet is hopping with transmissions reputed to be of the Senator Obama's family tree and their connections with scurrilous African leaders. Soon we will be led to believe that we know everything about every facet of this man's life which can be creatively construed to be derogatory all the way back to and including his toilet training. One would think that Senator McCain would show a bit of sympathy for his opponent since he was himself the victim of such "swift-boating" attacks in previous elections but I believe we will find him silent on the subject.

But there is an ulterior motive in this effort. The purpose of trying to find any acceptable reason for the citizens to vote against this man is to allow cover for those who will not vote for him anyway, though for reasons they would refuse to admit. You see, it had become politically incorrect for anyone to admit to that most basic and deplorable motive that is and has been at the base of the opposition to the nomination of Senator Obama. That motive is bigotry, a sin which every modern-day American will deny ever feeling.

We are the epitome of equal rights! The Shining City On The Hill! The example of democracy for the civilized world! It is time to put up or shut up! The world is waiting to see if our deeds are equal to our words this time. We WILL be receiving e-mails with propaganda which will try to discourage us from voting for a candidate not based on his own character and actions but which will urge us to use other excuses to justify our own mistrust of one whose skin is a darker shade of tan than our own.

There is little that can be done to stop the dissemination of these outright lies and, truth be told, we would not want to since, as internet bloggers and writers, we want the internet to remain free. However, we can immediately delete those that we receive or, better yet, return them to sender with a few well-chosen words of truth. While many people will dutifully forward these messages to everyone on their mailing list without thinking, we must be vigilant, knowing full well that, at the same time, this campaign of slander is taking place, the Republican candidate will be trying to score on the fear factor which would have us believe that Iraq is still as dangerous as we were led to believe it was before the invasion and before we learned that it was based on carefully-nurtured lies...

This is one small thing that we can do to fight back. Let the warmongers know that the American people are onto them and will not be swayed by their racial ethnocentric fear tactics but will make up our own minds based on the expressions of intentions from the candidates themselves. We must remain in control and make these decisions based on our own and our nation's future well-being and not on the familiar tenets of fear and racial and religious distrust that have been fostered by the Bush administration. If we do not speak up as individuals, there will be no changes in the path of the nation.

Yes it is time to put up or shut up, to stand up and speak up and let the opposition know that we will not tolerate their underhanded methods of spreading lies and mis-statements regarding any one of the candidates and that the time is past when they can do so with impunity and without retaliation. Now, those of us who believe in the free exercise of democracy can make it known that we have had enough of the threats and fear mongering of the ultra-right and that we're mad as hell and we're not going to take it any more! It's the least we can do on behalf of our own freedoms and our future.
(c) 2008 Mary Pitt is a very "with-it" old lady who aspires to bring a bit of truth, justice, and common sense to a nation that has lost touch with its humanity in the search for societal "perfection." Huzzahs and whiney complaints may be sent to mpitt@cox.net



The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Bob Englehart ~~~







W the Movie_Teaser 1





To End On A Happy Note...



Roger And Out
By Neil Young

Trippin' down that old Hippie Highway
Got to thinkin' 'bout you again
Wonderin' how it really was for you
And how it happened in the end
But I guess I'll never know the truth
If you were really all alone

We were just a couple of kids then
Livin' each and every day
When we both went down to register
We were laughin' all the way
That's when we named it the Hippie Highway
I still call it that today

Roger and out good buddy
I still call it that today

Two camaros racin' down the road
Feels just like yesterday

Roger and out good buddy
I feel you in the air today

I know you gave for your country
I feel you in the air today
Roger and out good buddy
(c) 2006/2008 Neil Young



Have You Seen This...



Bill Moyers addresses NCMR 2008


Parting Shots...



An April 28 letter from Sgt. David Howard to his wife, Monica.


Love Letters From U.S. Troops Increasingly Gruesome

WASHINGTON-According to a Pentagon report leaked to the press Monday, love letters written by U.S. troops have nearly tripled in their use of disturbing language, graphic imagery, and horrific themes since the start of the war.

The report, which studied 600 romantic notes sent over a period of two years, found a significant increase in terrifying descriptions of violence and gore, while references to beautiful flowers, singing bluebirds, and the infinite, undulating sea were seen to decrease by 93 percent.

"Not only are U.S. soldiers stationed in Iraq less likely to compare their lover's cheeks to a blushing red rose," the report read in part, "but most are now three times more likely to equate that same burning desire to the 'smoldering flesh of a dead Iraqi insurgent,' and almost 10 times more likely to compare sudden bursts of passion to a 'crowded marketplace explosion.'"

According to detailed analysis of the letters, the longer a U.S. soldier had been stationed in Iraq the more macabre the overall tone of his correspondence became. Troops who had been fighting for less than a year lapsed into frightening allegory only 15 percent of the time, while those who had been serving between two and three years described their affection for loved ones back home as more vibrant and alive than any of the children in the village of Basra.

Troops stationed in Iraq for four years or longer composed their letters entirely in blood.

"The more often U.S. soldiers are confronted with images of carnage, the more these elements become present in their subconscious and, ultimately, in their writing," said Dr. Kendra Allen, a behavioral psychologist who reviewed the Pentagon's findings. "This is precisely why we see so many passages like, 'Darling, I miss the way your bright green eyes always stayed inside your skull' and 'Honey, how I dream of your soft, supple arms-both of them, still attached as ever, to the rest of your body.'"

Allen went on to say that many of the harrowing details found in the love letters were linked to specific events in Iraq. A bloody clash with Islamic extremists in late March resulted in more than 40 handwritten notes from a single battalion, all of which contained some version of the message "My love for you spills out of me like my lower intestine, my gallbladder, and my spleen."

The most noticeable change came after a violent border skirmish in May that left four U.S. soldiers dead and dozens more severely injured. Since the incident, a number of letters, which had previously signed off with "Yours forever," instead ended with "Please God, deliver me from this nightmarish hellhole! The screaming-it never stops! Christ, I beg you, make it all go away! Make the parade of blood and pain and tears go away!"

A number of wives and fiancées of servicemen in Iraq, many of whom are now unsure how to reply to their partners abroad, provided personal accounts of how the tone of their correspondence has changed.

"Getting love letters from my husband used to be my favorite part of the week. But these days, they're almost impossible to get through," said Sheila Miller, whose husband, Michael, has been in Iraq since 2004. "Yes, it's still flattering to be told that you're as beautiful as a syringe full of morphine, or that you're as much a part of his being as the shrapnel near his spine. But I'm really starting to worry about him."

"My husband has never really been the romantic type, but even this is strange for him," said Margaret Baker, the wife of Sgt. Daniel Baker. "How am I supposed to react to hearing that my name is the sweetest sound in a world otherwise filled with desperate cries of anguish? I made the mistake of showing [daughter] Gracie the birthday card her father sent her from Tikrit and she hasn't spoken for a month."

In response to the damaging report, Defense Secretary Robert Gates spoke on behalf of the thousands of soldiers on active duty in the Middle East, saying the study's findings were "misrepresented" and any rise in horrific metaphors and similes was in no way related to the situation in Iraq.

"I've been to our bases overseas and let me be the first to tell you that conditions in Iraq are the best they've ever been," Gates announced at a press conference Friday. "In fact, I would go so far as to say that we're making as much progress here as, say, an army private who accidentally falls on a land mine, and instead of choosing to die in the middle of the road like some dog, drags his bleeding trunk-inch by throbbing inch-to the side of a nearby ditch."

Added Gates, "It's that good."
(c) 2008 The Onion.



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Zeitgeist The Movie...









Issues & Alibis Vol 8 # 24 (c) 06/13/2008


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