Please visit our sponsor!

Bookmark and Share
In This Edition

David Michael Green with an absolute must read, "Broken Shards Of The Heart."

Uri Avnery tears down a, "The War Of Lies."

Matt Taibbi concludes, "New York To Repeat Chicago's Parking Privatization Catastrophe."

Chris Floyd says, "Unspeakable Things."

Jim Hightower asks, "Who Really Won Wisconsin?"

Stephen Zunes joins us with, "Congress Pushes For War With Iran."

James Donahue wonders, "Can We Live Without Our Postal Service?"

Dave Swanson finds, "Israel Upside Down."

David Sirota examines, "Whistle-blowers Vs. Leakers."

Mike Elk points out some scabs in, "Labor-Funded Progressive Leaders Cross Huffington Post Picket Line."

Paul Krugman covers, "Another Bank Bailout."

Paul Craig Roberts considers, "Hubris As The Evil Force In History."

Robert Reich explains, "Why the Public's Growing Disdain For The Supreme Court May Help Obamacare."

Michigan House member Bruce Rendon wins the coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

John Nichols gets, "Framed."

Phil Rockstroh returns with, "In The Name Of My Father, Part Two."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion reports, "Ann Romney Says Husband Has Deeply Principled Side No One Ever Sees In Public" but first Uncle Ernie investigates, "The Sport Of Kings."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Bill Schorr, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Ruben Bolling, Mike Wrathell, David Martin, Internet Weekly.Org, Mike Wrathell, Chan Lowe, Ann DeLaney, Adam Lau, Eric Garcia, The Onion, Getty Images, A.P., You Tube.Com and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

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

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

Bookmark and Share
The Sport Of Kings
By Ernest Stewart

Yes, the results are in and our elections have replaced horse racing as the sport of kings. Only these kings aren't your everyday poobahs and potentates. These kings are multi-billionaire, corporate moguls who by the divine right, not of God, but the United States Supreme Court and its Citizens United decision, are now buying politicians like so much pricey horseflesh.
~~~ Bill Moyers ~~~

"As privacy law stands today, you don't have a reasonable expectation of privacy while out in public, nor almost anywhere visible from a public vantage. I don't think this doctrine makes sense, and I think the widespread availability of drones will drive home why to lawmakers, courts and the public."
~~~ Ryan Calo ~ director of privacy and robotics at the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford University ~~~

"Nothing says jobs like transvaginal probes." ~~~ Martin O'Malley ~ Governor of Maryland

"When you cease to make a contribution, you begin to die." ~~~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Once upon a time, back in those far away daze of my youth, when folks mentioned "The Sport Of Kings, they were talking about horse racing, and the fact you had to be exceedingly rich to buy race horses, train them, race them, and provide for them! Goldfinger's Kentucky farm comes to mind as an example.

However, today that simple phrase has a new, terrifying meaning. As we saw in Wisconsin, when you cross an incredibly stupid populace (what would you call them when the fact is that 37% of the unionists in Wisconsin voted for Walker to have their silly throats cut by him?), with billionaires whose new horses are politicians, and the outcome will no doubt be slavery for all of us not of the 1% persuasion.

Thanks to the treason of the Extreme Court in "Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission," what little remained of our Republic and its laws is now rapidly fading away. There's really nothing to be done about it, either, as the American people are dumb as a post. While they come by this honestly, it doesn't change the facts; we are ever so doomed.

I fear no outside influence in our destruction, although we're certainly worthy of such a payback! No, our destruction comes from within by the 1%, whose greed has made our money, for all practical purposes, worthless -- and the American public who stood by and let it happen! Our purported $12 trillion dollar debt is really closer to $80 trillion. You may recall that until "The Trick" came along, $36 would buy an ounce of gold! The days where this "moving paper fantasy" can count on others to fund our needless wars and bank bailouts are rapidly coming to an end. Most of the countries throughout the world are dumping those Yankee dollars just as fast as they can. The middle class, whom the 1% has been out to destroy for the last 50 years, is shrinking at an appalling rate and soon will be no more, which leaves just Kings and serfs, which do you think you'll be? Can you say "yassa massa?" If not, you better get to practicing!

In Other News

You've probably heard about the Navy drone that crashed in Maryland the other day? A Navy Global Hawk crashed shortly after take off from the Patuxent River Naval Air Station. This turkey has a 10,000 mile range so it's filled to the brim with fuel, so, regardless of what weapons it may carry, it makes a rather large explosion when it hits the ground. Fortunately, it came down in a swamp, and no one was hurt -- this time. I should also mention, this is not the first time a Global Hawk has crashed.

Better get used to them crashing -- on hospitals, day care centers, anywhere and everywhere -- as some are coming to your town real soon. By 2015, there may be as many as 30,000 drones operating across the US -- thanks to the recently-passed FAA Reauthorization Bill. This legislation would not only permit, but require widespread deployment of unmanned aircraft throughout the national airspace system by 2015 -- with some major deployments mandated even sooner. Very small UAS would be allowed access in as little as 90 days -- the kind the local gestapo will have hovering just outside your windows. Models as large as 55 pounds would be granted access in just 27 months. The law sets a deadline of all UAS being integrated into the NAS by Sept. 30, 2015, including those Global Hawks, Predator and Reaper drones -- some of which are right now flying along our borders. Are they to keep others out, or to keep us in?

Let's forget for a minute all the Big Brother possibilities that this would give the government; or should I say governments, because not only the armed forces will be flying these over America, but all the various branches of Fatherland Security groups -- cities, colleges, police departments, you name it; everybody wants some, and everybody will have some -- to spy on you, as well.

For those of you that don't fear Big Brother, how about all those would-be pilots, without the training given by the military, which still manages to crash one on the average of one every week. What will the skies be like safety-wise with 30,000 cruising above your head and into the path of airliners and private airplanes?

Of course, Congress' proposal does not address how unmanned aircraft would co-exist with manned aircraft in today's system. Much of today's air traffic system safety strategy is based on see-and-avoid technology, which relies fundamentally on manned operation of aircraft. How a controller will issue a traffic alert to a UAS is unknown. How the UAS will "see" other traffic is unknown. How they will avoid other traffic is, likewise, unknown -- and unaddressed by the legislation. Why am I not surprised by this? Were you surprised? Or is it something you've come to expect from your government?

Then, of course, there will be armed drones. It doesn't matter the reason for this, but just that they are armed. Our fully-trained pilots are forever wiping out unintended targets -- or we hit the target, but it was a wedding reception or a day school or a... and not the intended target. Or, perhaps, they hit their intended target, and you and your family happen to be close by and become collateral damage? 30,000 drones with 30,000 pilots most all of whom have never flown a plane -- unless there was a joystick attached to a XBox, Playstation or Nintendo. So how do you like the future so far, America? George Jetson, my sweet patootie!

And Finally

Those fascist brain-deads in Lansing have joined the nationwide Rethuglican attack on women by going so far as to doom some women to death by denying them access to needed operations and such. The Michigan House Health Policy Committee, led by Bruce Rendon, R-Lake City is considering legislation which, when passed, would result in the biggest assault on women's health in the state's history!

"House Bills 5711, 5712, and 5713 represent a sweeping and unprecedented attack on women's reproductive health. It is vague, poorly drafted, and will have incredibly serious ramifications for women's access to health care services. It is being rushed through with only a week from introduction to committee." Under the table and behind closed doors, and, of course, not a peep out of any Michigan media!

It starts with attacks on abortion clinics, hospitals, doctors, and the woman herself. As bad as anything passed way down yonder beneath that Manson/Nixon line if passed and signed into law by Emperor Snyder (did I mention that the Emperor is rated the third-worst governor in the country?), these three bills will guarantee deaths -- which are no doubt acts of murder!

For example, one provision included in this legislation is a restrictive ban seeking to limit access to abortion services. The ban goes against the ruling of Roe v. Wade. Moreover, it does NOT include an exemption for rape, incest, fetal anomaly, or health of the woman; and it leaves women in an emergency situation in peril. You'll carry it to term, even if it kills you. Guess what? No, let's not see the same hands all of the time, I wrote Bruce a letter...

Hey Bruce,

I see that you are out to murder some ladies with your bill 5711. Why? What will you say to the families of the women who you will murder with this bill? Is this the kind of stuff you want following you around till November, because you can count on it if it passes and Emperor Snyder signs it into law. Why do you Rethuglicans hate women so?

Ernest Stewart
Managing editor
Issues & Alibis Magazine
PS. Thanks Bruce for writing Friday's editorial for me! Oh and you're in the running to win this week's Vidkun Quisling Award for the biggest traitor in America, good luck with that!"

If you'd like to send Bruce your thoughts on this outrage, you may do so at:

As always, if I get a reply I'll share it with you!

Keepin' On

I'd like to thank Jack from Los Angeles and Suz from Chicago for getting us within $165 of paying our June bills. We've got two weeks to come up with that and then another 4 weeks before the July bills come due. The good thing about July is that we paid half of it in March. The final bills come due in September; last year we didn't pay them all off until November -- but at least we got them paid.

With the November election coming up, which may be a total game changer -- like the Extreme Court's coup d'etat on 12-12-2000 was, you need to know the truth. You may recall the coup not only was an act of sedition and treason, but it also ended my "normal" life, and launched the magazine which has been fighting the fascists ever since!

We ask you to join Jack & Suz and all the other "usual suspects" in support of restoring the old republic. You can't do it alone, and we can't do it alone, but together we have a chance of making things right. If we do nothing, we'll all be off to a Happy Camp or just adrift in a depression that will make the great depression look like a Swiss Picnic by comparison. Please help us if you can, and as often as you can, by going to the donations page and following the instructions. You'll feel better when you do!


07-31-1946 ~ 06-07-2012
Thanks for the music!

09-08-1915 ~ 06-08-2012
Thanks for the laughs!

11-02-1920 ~ 06-11-2012
Thanks for the films!


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


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

Until the next time, Peace!
(c) 2012 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for the last 11 years managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Face Book. Follow me on Twitter.

Broken Shards Of The Heart
By David Michael Green

I could tell you that my heart was broken by what happened in Wisconsin this week, but in truth that's not quite accurate.

I grew into political awareness and maturity in the middle of the 1970s. For people my age, then, our entire adult lives have been one long witness to the dismantling of that which we grew up taking for granted as a foundation for any further progress that might come. We lived in the relatively egalitarian country of the New Deal and the Great Society, with its robust middle class and a measure of earnest compassion for the poor. Today, that seems like a foreign country, if not a remote planet.

Over the course of our adult lives:

We watched in shock and horror as the country turned to a Hollywood washout, who was literally a national joke candidate five years earlier, and made him president, following him down every path of joyful self-destruction and absurd deceit.

Our jaws dropped in the 1990s at the visage of New Gingrich, the most overtly petulant and destructive piece of self-loathing to ever occupy a human body, as he was elevated to the highest position in the United States Congress, and pioneered the basest politics and the shattering of our government that remains our inheritance today. As if that weren't shameful enough, at the same time Gingrich's buddy down at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue was destroying the meaning of the Democratic Party, aping the Republican sell-out to corporate thieves and the abandonment of the public interest - especially the poor, the first to be thrown under the bus.

And, despite the fact Bill Clinton deserves to rot in hell for the damage he did in exchange for his personal joyride in the White House, we were nevertheless forced to watch in horror the relentless and destructive lunacy of the president's impeachment for the high crime of lying about a blow-job.

We had to endure the travesty of Bush versus Gore, one of the most egregious tramplings of democratic practice imaginable, then watch the sickening product of that judicial rape: the swaggering wars based on lies, the torture, the doubling of the national debt, the environmental depredations, the economic melt-down, and the raison-d'etre for it all: the radical shifting of wealth from the 300 million of us to the one-tenth of one percent who own everything in sight.

Perhaps most emotionally devastating of all - Et tu, Brute? - we've suffered the betrayal these last years of another Democratic sell-out, a supposedly liberal-if-not-socialist president actually so conservative and so sold-out that he couldn't even bear to pursue his own personal interest sufficiently to produce a successful presidency, but has rather continued and amplified the worst characteristics of the open sore that was the Bush presidency, even in the midst of crisis opportunities not seen since the 1930s.

So, no, by this time, my heart was not really broken when my former home-state, Wisconsin, voted emphatically to commit suicide this week. But only because there's so little of that heart left to break. Shards here and there were crushed and extinguished, to be sure, but I am becoming rapidly beyond caring about the country I live in, a place and a people so determined to get it wrong at every juncture imaginable. At some point, don't you just have to stop trying and let the substance-abuser finish the job on their own?

This country is dying, let's be clear. It may live yet. It may survive for decades in slow decline. It may find a way in utter crisis to throw off, before it is too late, the fat slimy boa which is squeezing every last cent of value out of it. Its political class may invent a devastating foreign crisis with massively grim consequences in order to deflect public attention from its manifest failings. Maybe it will even be some combination of all of the above.

Who knows? What we can be sure of, however, is that what was once a great and promising idea as much as a nation is now decrepit to the core, and rapidly rotting away, and that these wounds are entirely self-inflicted. That, for me, is the kicker. The Soviets didn't invade and take us over. We didn't succumb to some raging virus like the Black Plague. A meteor didn't blast a hole in the middle of North America.

We just killed the goose ourselves, through a toxic mix of greed, laziness and stupidity.

Imagine the conversation to be heard if nations like America were to go to the Pearly Gates when they die, seeking forgiveness, and anxiously awaiting their dispensation for the rest of eternity:

St. Peter: So, the Big Guy wants to know what the hell (get it?) you're doing here.

America: Um, well, we're dead.

Peter: Yeah, we get that. Even if we did create the Catholic Church, we're not complete idiots up here, you know. What he means is, how did a country like you, with all the tremendous advantages you were given, wind up so dead, so fast?

America: Well, uh, we made some bad choices, I guess.

Peter: Do you mean like when you traded George McGovern for Karl Rove, for example?

America: Well, I suppose. But McGovern...

Peter: Shut up, you insolent little turd. Do you mean like when you traded Franklin Roosevelt for Barack Obama or George Bush - sorry, I always get those two confused - is that what you mean?

America: Yeah, that was prolly not the smartest deal.

Peter: Or could it be when you swapped the First Amendment to get Citizens United instead?

America: Golly, you mean corporations really aren't people, after all?

Peter: It's really not looking too good for you lot, I'm afraid.

America: Listen, do you have to go to Hell for just being stupid, or is something worse like wholesale venality or mass murder required?

Peter: Dude, you're America! Isn't that question kinda moot?

America: What does moot mean? And what happened to the pearls that are supposed to be on the gates?

Peter: Koch Brothers got'em.

America: Really?!

Peter: Jesus Christ, you're dumb. Maybe an exception could be made for you, come to think of it. After all, we don't send microbes or amoeba to Hell either, even when they're very bad.

America: Oh, thank you, Mr. Peter. You're very kind. Say, where do we sign-up for our choice of cable packages?

Though Wisconsin managed to only break the few shards of my unbroken heart still remaining, it's worth considering the details of the episode to get a sense of how truly wrecked we are as a people. Much like George W. Caligula, who campaigned as the compassionate conservative but governed as a Cheneybot monster, Scott Walker came to office without mentioning in the campaign any of the scorched earth policies he was actually hired by the Koch Brothers and their ilk to foist upon his hapless state. So the first thing he does after his inauguration is give away hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks for the wealthy. Then, lo and behold, there appears a shortfall in the state's budget of precisely that amount - almost as if that whole math thing actually works, after all - and so he declares a crisis which can, of course, only be solved by draconian burdens being imposed upon non-one percenters.

That means that the public employee unions are called upon to bear the burden of massive givebacks of their salary and benefits. But then - this being America and the 21st century and all - the unions agree to one hundred percent of these demands. But Walker and his fellow Koch-class acolytes are not satisfied with having to take yes for an answer, because their real project is to crush the unions into political insignificance, if not to terminate them altogether. So the real issue was never the fiscal crisis, which was entirely fabricated, nor even finding a solution to it, which the already pathetic unions had readily agreed to. The real issue was to destroy the labor movement, and the political party it has (stupidly, in recent decades) supported for so long.

But when labor and some Democrats and a lot of courageous and determined ordinary Badgers decided that enough was finally enough, the question was ultimately presented to the public in the form of a recall election. Massive amounts of money (Walker outspent the other side by a ratio of about eight to one) paid for massive amounts of televised lies about how the brave governor was only fighting special interests on behalf of the people, and it worked. (Though, let's be honest here - lots of Wisconsin voters knew exactly the score, and stupidly and self-destructively decided to tear down teachers and nurses and park rangers and the like from their decent middle class living, instead of drawing a line in the sand demanding that everyone to rise up to that modest standard.)

That's the America of today, and it's a glimpse of the very near-term future. The formula is pretty simple, really. Wealthy elites who have spent the better part of a century chafing under the unbearable burdens of the New Deal and Great Society (where they are rendered mere billionaires instead of zillionaires) have finally found a way to steal back 'their' money. Buy whole political parties, buy the media, buy - therefore - the entire mindset of the country, buy the Supreme Court, dumb down education, especially the study of history, make college prohibitively expensive, repress dissent, create distracting enemies abroad (towelheads) and at home (fags), replace jobs with machines and cheap overseas workers, squeeze the economy so that money is scarce, and divide and conquer the 99 percent, so that those who miraculously still maintain a vestige of decent wages and benefits from an ancient civilization called 20th century America will be resented and torn-down by those already drowning.

You gotta hand it to them, it works pretty well. (Being a sociopath evidently does not correlate at all with poor planning skills. But who knew there were so many amongst us?) As a measure of the sheer success of this project, consider how - even in a moment of crisis - there is nowhere on the horizon a politically viable alternative narrative about what ails the country and how to solve the problem. Sure, there is the odd Paul Krugman around, or Dennis Kucinich (whoops, never mind), but ask yourself this question: Can you name even a single prominent politician across the entire political landscape who is remotely telling the truth about the economic holocaust of American kleptocracy? Indeed, it is truly a measure of the stunning proportions of the overclass's victory that even a water-carrier as devoted as Barack Obama is labeled a socialist, and both he and the ideas he doesn't even remotely represent are thoroughly discredited. Even if the answers to the question of what would fix America weren't manifestly obvious (as in, just do what we used to do before the right came along and dismantled everything), this is a stunning achievement of truly Orwellian proportions: For vast numbers of Americans, real understanding of the problem and real consideration of the solution cannot even be thought of.

It will get far worse before it gets better, if it does. The Wisconsin election was widely and correctly seen as a dry run for November, but in fact November is already as over as is May or April. The hapless Obama people may not have gotten the word, but they are as dead as the unions in Wisconsin that they didn't bother to support. And Obama will go down in near-term, right-wing renderings of history as another Jimmy Carter. Meanwhile, stupid liberals, who slavishly admired a decidedly right-wing, militarist, ultra-statist, corporate-serving Democratic president, will sit holding their heads in surprise at the damage wrought to the president himself, to his party, and to their cherished liberal principles. Um, sorry, but have y'all been snoozing through Afghanistan and Pakistan? Did you miss the whole presidential-ordered assassinations program? Have you not heard what has happened to whistleblowers? Did you forget the tax cuts and the offer to dismantle Medicare? Have you been watching Fox and not heard about the growth of military spending? Did you not know that the health care bill was co-authored by, and for the benefit of, insurance and pharmaceutical companies? Have you not heard that our ultra-progressive president has done nothing whatsoever about the planetary über-crisis of global warming, other than to open vast new oil drilling fields? Did you not see in action the joy and wonder of Obamaism in 2010, the most devastating election for a political party in half a century, and coming only two years after the total meltdown of the GOP under Bush? Sorry, but this is the SOB you adored and went to the mat for?

This country's future looks grim in so many ways. You can just feel the doors and windows shutting, one by one. Are we really so far off, given the displays we've already seen, from being a corporate-owned polity, in which oceans of Citizens United sponsored propaganda limits the cognitive landscape of an entire country, sham elections and a steady stream of brain-numbing high-def television gruel satisfies most of the (obese) public enough to keep them stuck on their sofas, while a massive police state armed with domestic drone aircraft and angry cops deal swiftly with the few remaining malcontents stupid enough to demand a return to the better country we once knew? You know, more or less a carbon copy of Putin's Russia, here in North America.

I have no interest whatsoever in being a prophet of doom, but I ask you, is that really so far-fetched? If you look around you honestly today, is it not fair to say that we are pretty much already there? With the partial exception of social policy issues, do you really have any choice at the ballot box? Can anyone say that Democrats in Washington, including the sitting president and the astonishingly narcissistic whore that was Bill Clinton, represent corporate interests any less than Republicans, whatever their pathetic rhetoric? Has US foreign policy gotten even slightly more enlightened since Obama took over from the smirking troglodytes? Do Americans have any idea of what is truly happening to them, as opposed to being fixated on gays, immigrants, foreign bogeymen and spoon-fed celebrity drivel? And were not Occupy activists subjected to pepper spray, mass arrests and wholesale street clearings, even by supposedly liberal mayors and college presidents?

It's possible, of course, that the end is not nigh after all. Indeed, I see something of a great historical race transpiring in America. On the one hand, the powers of greed are rapidly filling in all the puzzle pieces of their sociopathic conspiracy to own everything, including - yes, really, I'm not kidding - food, water and our very genes. They are relentless, they are rich, and they are talented in ways that would awe and possibly even repulse Machiavelli himself. Oh, and by the way, they are winning, too. Big time. Even when they lose, they win.

On the other hand, demographics are not so favorable to the destruction of the nation. Young people are far more progressive than their scary-stupid and mega-mean grandparents. The good news is that the latter are dying, and the former are taking their place. Moreover, demographic trends are also shifting the racial composition of the electorate. For whatever reason, whites tend to have horrible politics, so the browning of America is also a very good thing. (If we could pull off the same stunt with gender, that would be great news, too, since it indeed turns out that, that's right, the women are smarter. Better politics through bioengineering, maybe? Soon to come to your local supermarket. Or at least obstetrician.)

We have also seen displays across the globe of Basta!-ism which raise hope. From Russia to Egypt to Israel to Greece to Canada to Wall Street and Santa Monica College, people are standing up and saying Enough! And it works. These schoolyard bullies crushing us are like ... well, schoolyard bullies. Call them out on their blustery braggadocio and watch them fold in the face of real power. True, it doesn't always happen (see "Wisconsin, State of"), but it does often enough. And there is also the hope that as the plutocrats continue their insatiable campaign to impoverish the rest of us they will go a bridge too far, pushing by their own actions a squawking wholesale resistence out the proverbial birth canal and into being.

Indeed, if there is one bit of transcendent hope left it is that people in this country still seem non-comatose (or perhaps just self-interested) enough so as to make regressives their own worst enemy. Their shit sells well to dummies in campaigns, but it turns out that while you can lie about everything imaginable - right up to nice bearded people in the sky who control everything from war and peace to NFL touchdowns but somehow never seem to appear on Earth - the lies cannot ultimately withstand the laws of political physics. Those lovely pieties and viciously divisive tactics that are so successful at separating idiots from their votes on election day are rather less capable of doing magic tricks thereafter. Regressives may want very badly for Iraqis to lay down and accept American imperialism, but that doesn't make it happen, and no amount of arrogant bring-it-on blustery by Vietnam-avoiding chickenhawks can change that. They may want voodoo economics to balance the budget, but those pesky mathematical equations keep getting in the damn way. They may tell you that global warming is a hoax, but nevertheless every day the planet gets relentlessly hotter.

In short, time after time there is no better antidote for regressive government than regressive government itself. That's why the right always and endlessly pays homage to a ridiculously distorted version of Saint Ronald of Reagan, a guy so long departed from the White House that he might as well be James Buchanan as far as most contemporary Americans are concerned. Hmmm. Why not talk about the joys and wonders of George W. Bush, instead, who after all, was far more Reagan than Reagan, and who happened only just yesterday? Perhaps for the same reason that governments pursuing austerity in Europe are falling like dominoes. And also for the same reason that the sweep of regressive state governors brought in by the Obama debacle of Election 2010 are proving so unpopular, including even Scott Walker, who, despite surviving the vote, is only the third governor in all of American history to be subjected to a recall.

Thus, as much as it sickens me to say it, perhaps the best thing that could happen to us could be the election of a Mitt Romney, especially one, as this one is, so completely straightjacketed by the insane elements (that is to say, all of them) of his party. Unless Romney turns out to be very, very lucky, his policies will not only not turn the economy around, but they will saddle the country with vastly more debt than the right has managed to do so far already. It's possible this could be the tipping point, once and for all, in the race between good demographics and bad demographics, between sanity and insanity. Maybe people will finally get what they're buying, and start looking for a refund.

On the other hand - and be honest here - wasn't that just what you were thinking after eight years of Bush and Cheney, the entire last four of which spent with the president's job approval ratings in the toilet?

I sure as hell was, only to see Republicans (with a lot of help from Obama) win a crushing victory only a mere two years later.

In the end, there may be no bottom to the depths of self-destructive stupidity of which Homo Americanus is capable of stooping.

I'm pretty sure we're gonna be finding out here, real soon.
(c) 2012 David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York. He is delighted to receive readers' reactions to his articles, but regrets that time constraints do not always allow him to respond. More of his work can be found at his website,

The War Of Lies
By Uri Avnery

THIRTY YEARS ago this week, the Israeli army crossed into Lebanon and started the most stupid war in Israel's history. It lasted for 18 years. About 1500 Israeli soldiers and untold numbers of Lebanese and Palestinians were killed.

Almost all wars are based on lies. Lies are considered legitimate instruments of war. Lebanon War I (as it was later called) was a glorious example.

From beginning to end (if it has ended yet) it was a war of deceit and deception, falsehoods and fabrications.

THE LIES started with the official name: "Operation Peace in Galilee."

If one asks Israelis now, 99.99% of them will say with all sincerity: "We had no choice. They launched katyushas at the Galilee from Lebanon every day. We had to stop them." TV anchormen and anchorwomen, as well as former cabinet ministers have been repeating this throughout the week. Quite sincerely. Even people who were already adults at the time.

The simple fact is that for 11 months before the war, not a single shot was fired across the Israeli-Lebanese border. A cease-fire was in force and the Palestinians on the other side of the border kept it scrupulously. To everybody's surprise, Yasser Arafat succeeded in imposing it on all the radical Palestinian factions, too. At the end of May, Defense Minister Ariel Sharon met with Secretary of State Alexander Haig in Washington DC. He asked for American agreement to invade Lebanon. Haig said that the US could not allow it, unless there were a clear and internationally recognized provocation.

And lo and behold, the provocation was provided at once. Abu Nidal, the anti-Arafat and anti-PLO master terrorist, sent his own cousin to assassinate the Israeli ambassador in London, who was grievously wounded.

In retaliation, Israel bombed Beirut and the Palestinians fired back, as expected. The Prime Minister, Menachem Begin, allowed Sharon to invade Lebanese territory up to 40 km, "to put the Galilee settlements out of reach of the katyushas."

When one of the intelligence chiefs told Begin at the cabinet meeting that Abu Nidal's organization was not a member of the PLO, Begin famously answered: "They are all PLO."

General Matti Peled, my political associate at the time, firmly believed that Abu Nidal had acted as an agent of Sharon. So do all the Palestinians I know.

The lie "they shot at us every day" has taken such a hold on the public mind that it is nowadays useless to dispute it. It is an illuminating example of how a myth can take possession of the public mind, including even of people who had seen with their own eyes that the opposite was true.

NINE MONTHS before the war, Sharon told me about his plan for a New Middle East.

I was writing a long biographic article about him with his cooperation. He believed in my journalistic integrity, so he told me his plan "off the record" and allowed me to publish it - but without quoting him. So I did.

Sharon had a dangerous mental mixture: a primitive mind unsullied by any knowledge of (non-Jewish) history, and a fatal craving for "grand designs." He despised all politicians - including Begin - as little people devoid of vision and imagination.

His design for the region, as told me then (and which I published nine months before the war), was:

(1) To attack Lebanon and install a Christian dictator who would serve Israel,
(2) Drive the Syrians out of Lebanon,
Drive the Palestinians out of Lebanon into Syria, from where they would then be pushed by the Syrians into Jordan.
Get the Palestinians to carry out a revolution in Jordan, kick out King Hussein and turn Jordan into a Palestinian state,
Set up a functional arrangement under which the Palestinian state (in Jordan) would share power in the West Bank with Israel.

Being a single-minded operator, Sharon convinced Begin to start the war, telling him that the sole aim was to push the PLO 40 km back. He then installed Bashir Gemayel as the dictator of Lebanon. Then he let the Christian Phalanges carry out the massacre in Sabra and Shatila in order to terrify the Palestinians into fleeing to Syria.

The results of the war were the opposite of his expectations. Bashir was killed by the Syrians and his brother, who was then elected by Israeli guns, was an ineffective weakling. The Syrians strengthened their hold over Lebanon. The horrible massacre did not induce the Palestinians to flee. They staid put. Hussein remained on his throne. Jordan did not become Palestine. Arafat and his armed men were evacuated to Tunis, where they won impressive political victories, were recognized as the "sole representative of the Palestinian people" and eventually returned to Palestine.

THE MILITARY plan went awry right from the beginning, no less than the political one. Since the war was celebrated in Israel as a glorious military victory, no military lessons were drawn from it - so that Lebanon War II, some 24 years later, was an even greater military disaster.

The simple fact is that in 1982, no unit of the army reached its goal at all, or certainly not on time. Valiant Palestinian resistance in Sidon (Saida) held the army up, and Beirut was still out of reach when a ceasefire was declared. Sharon simply broke it, and only then did his troops succeed in encircling the city and entering its Eastern part. Contrary to his promise to Begin (repeated to me at the time by a very senior coalition partner), Sharon attacked the Syrian army in order to reach and cut the Beirut-Damascus road. The Israeli units on that front never reached the vital road, and instead suffered a resounding defeat at Sultan Yacoub.

No wonder. The Chief of Staff was Rafael Eitan, called Raful. He was appointed by Sharon's predecessor, Ezer Weizman. At the time I asked Weizman why he had appointed such a complete fool. His typical answer: "I have enough IQ for the two of us. He will execute my orders." But Weizman resigned and Raful remained.

ONE OF the most significant and lasting results of Lebanon War I concerns the Shiites. From 1949 to 1970, the Lebanese border was the quietest of all our borders. People crossed by mistake and were returned home. It was commonly said the "Lebanon will be the second Arab state to make peace with Israel," not daring to be the first.

The mostly Shiite population on the other side of the border was then the most downtrodden and powerless of Lebanon's diverse ethnic-religious communities. When King Hussein, with the help of Israel, drove the PLO forces out of Jordan in the "Black September" of 1970, the Palestinians established themselves in South Lebanon and became the rulers of the border region, which was soon known in Israel as "Fatahland."

The Shiite population did not like their overbearing new Palestinian lords, who were Sunnis. When Sharon's troops entered the area, they were actually received with rice and candies. (I saw it with my own eyes.) The Shiites, not knowing Israel, believed that their liberators would drive the Palestinians out and go home.

It did not take them long to perceive their mistake. They then started a guerrilla war, for which the Israeli army was quite unprepared.

The Shiite mice quickly turned into Shiite lions. Faced with their guerrillas, the Israeli government decided to leave Beirut and much of South Lebanon, holding on to a "security zone", which duly became a guerrilla battleground. The moderate Shiites were replaced by a much more radical new Hizb-Allah ("Party of God") which eventually became the main political and military force in all of Lebanon.

To stop them, Israel assassinated their leader, Abbas al-Musawi, who was promptly replaced by a vastly more talented assistant - Hassan Nasrallah.

At the same time, Sharon's clones in Washington started a war that destroyed Iraq, the historic Arab bulwark against Iran. A new axis of Shiite Iraq, Hisbollah and Alawite Syria became a dominant fact. (The Alawites, who rule Assad's Syria, are a kind of Shiite. Their name derives from Ali, the son-in-law of the Prophet, whose descendents were rejected by the Sunnis and accepted by the Shiites.)

If Sharon were to wake up from the coma which has been his lot for the last six years, he would be shocked by this result - the only practical one - of his Lebanon War.

ONE OF the victims of the war was Menachem Begin.

Many legends have been woven around his memory, blowing it out of all proportion. Begin had many excellent qualities. He was a man of principle, honesty and personal courage. He was also a great orator in the European tradition, able to sway the emotions of his audience.

But Begin was a very mediocre thinker, completely devoid of original thought. His mentor, Vladimir Ze'ev Jabotinsky, treated him with disdain. In his way, he was quite naive. He let himself be easily misled by Sharon. Being single-mindedly devoted to defeating the Palestinians and extending the rule of the "Jewish" state to all of historical Palestine, he did not really care about Lebanon, Sinai or the Golan.

His behavior during the Lebanon War bordered on the ridiculous. He visited the troops and asked questions that became the butt of jokes among the soldiers. In retrospect, one wonders whether by that time he was already mentally affected. Soon after the Sabra and Shatila massacre, which shocked him to the core, he retreated into deep depression, which lasted until his death ten years later.

THE MORAL of the story, relevant today as ever:

Any fool can start a war, only a very wise person can prevent one.
(c) 2012 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

A parking meter in New York City.

New York To Repeat Chicago's Parking Privatization Catastrophe
By Matt Taibbi

Readers of my last book, Griftopia, might recall a chapter about the city of Chicago leasing 75 years of its parking meter revenue to a coterie of private investors, some of them from the Middle East. The end result was and is a political obscenity: Native Chicagoans are now completely at the mercy of private interests when it comes to parking rates, collections, even holidays. When elected officials in Illinois can’t shut off the parking meters on Abe Lincoln’s birthday because a bunch of sheiks in Dubai don’t want the revenue stream turned off even for a day, you know something has gone seriously sideways in the national body politic.

Well, Chicago isn’t alone anymore. Hizzoner Michael Bloomberg in New York has decided to do his own version of the Chicago infrastructure bake sale; the city announced that it is putting up nearly 90,000 parking meters for lease. They’re expecting to get over $11 billion in upfront money from the deal, which is great news if you’re Mike Bloomberg, who gets to use that money to patch current budget holes instead of making tough cuts or raising taxes. The news is less awesome for the next half-dozen New York City mayors, or for the citizens of New York, who now will get to spend most of the 21st century grappling with its increasingly monstrous deficits with a major tributary from the city’s revenue stream shut off.

A New York parking meter deal, like the Chicago deal, would be a perfect example of the deeply cynical short-term thinking of many American politicians these days. These deals involve a sitting executive selling off a valuable piece of city property at a steep discount to private financial interests (often, to friends or campaign contributors), in order to solve a current cash flow problem that, surprise, surprise, will still be there the year after you finish spending the proceeds of your sale.

In Chicago’s case, Mayor Richard Daley sold 75 years of meter revenue - worth an estimated $5 billion - for $1.2 billion. So he gets 20 cents on the dollar for the city’s parking meters in 2008, and then in 2009 the city still has a budget problem that’s now worse, because there’s no parking meter revenue anymore, ever. Meanwhile, a bunch of private investors rounded up by Morgan Stanley - these bankers go on road shows here at home and abroad to places like Geneva and the UAE to hawk discount American infrastructure to foreign billionaires and sovereign wealth funds - get to enjoy the fruits of raised rates. In some Chicago neighborhoods, the meter rates went from .25 cents an hour to $1 an hour in the first year of the deal, and then to $1.20 after that.

In Chicago’s case, Mayor Richard Daley sold 75 years of meter revenue - worth an estimated $5 billion - for $1.2 billion. So he gets 20 cents on the dollar for the city’s parking meters in 2008, and then in 2009 the city still has a budget problem that’s now worse, because there’s no parking meter revenue anymore, ever.

The city of New York is insisting that it won’t make the same mistake Chicago made, at least when it comes to rates. Bloomberg helpfully quoted Julie Wood, a spokesperson for the news agency’s namesake, i.e. the mayor:

“We are taking a careful and deliberate approach to avoid mistakes others have made,” Wood said. New York would retain “full control” of rates and violations enforcement, she said.

We have to hope she’s telling the truth, because meter rates in some New York neighborhoods are already at $5 an hour. A Chicago-style price hike for fat-cat investors might leave us paying thirty bucks an hour to oil barons in Qatar and Saudi Arabia in order to park for dinner in the West Village. Unlikely, sure, but how likely was the city of New York selling its parking meters ten years ago?

Ultimately, these infrastructure deals operate under the same basically predatory, let’s-fuck-the-uninformed-elderly business model that guides companies like J.G. Wentworth. You’ve seen the commercials, of course, where a bunch of cheery-looking opera singers in Wagnerian costumes generously offer to give you money up front for your accident settlement, your annuity, even your lottery winnings.

Of course what they don’t tell you in those commercials is that you’re only getting pennies on the dollar in those deals. Companies like J.G. Wentworth feast upon the financial anxiety/desperation of middle America, where most people can’t wait to collect the whole $100,000 they won in court after losing an eye at work, and will settle for $20,000 they can use to pay the rent (or, more often, the doctor or the pharmacist) this week. Money is so tight out there that people will take a bad deal, even a draconian deal, just to make it to next week, especially when the idea is getting rammed into their heads in high-production-value commercials during football games and American Idol broadcasts five hundred times a week.

So you can understand why your average Joe might give in and sell his annuity to a bunch of friendly opera singers to make his rent. But the billionaire mayor of New York City? There’s simply no legitimate rationale for selling off a critically valuable public revenue stream to private interests.

Sure, it makes sense for Bloomberg personally - he gets to govern for another year without having to make tough decisions on budget cuts and taxes - but for the city in the long run, it’s a disaster. Criminal, even. This is like a man with a wife and dozen dependent children selling his family's lottery winnings to J.G. Wentworth so he can go on a skiing vacation in Gstaad with his mistress before the divorce goes through.

Meanwhile, whoever gets to own all of those meters will now be sitting on the ultimate investment. You get all the certainty of tax revenue, but you don’t have any of the accountability attached to public governance. It’s profit without risk, customers without responsibility. Cash now!
(c) 2012 Matt Taibbi

Unspeakable Things
The Liberals' Clumsy Dance Across Obama's Killing Floor
By Chris Floyd

The turbulent ramifications of last week's New York Times story detailing the operations of Barack Obama's White House death squad continue to reverberate across the country today, sending shock waves through Washington and bringing crowds of outraged protestors to the .... Just kidding! As we all know, there have been no "ramifications" at all from this shocking story, no scandal whatsoever surrounding the fact that the President of the United States and his aides meet every week to draw up lists of people to be killed all over the world -- even people who are completely unknown, who might simply be "behaving" in unspecified ways that some desk jockey somewhere has decided might possibly be indicative of malign intent. No scandal, no consequences, no imbroglio, no brouhaha; the caravan moved on -- and the dogs didn't even bark.

But wait, that's not quite true. There was one minor scandal issuing, in part, from the story. Republicans seized the opportunity to accuse Obama, again, of leaking classified matters for his own political gain. (Yes, they were shocked -- shocked! -- to find gambling going on in this establishment.) Obama was then forced to deny authorizing the leaks from his closest advisors and friends, and promised to investigate how in the world his closest advisors and friends happened to leak this top-secret information without his knowledge. This was followed by bipartisan Congressional calls to cloak the government's atrocities in even thicker clouds of murk.

Thus the only consequence from the revelation that the U.S. government not only asserts the arbitrary right to kill anyone on earth but actually has a formal process to carry out this serial murder is that it will now be harder than ever to expose any of the crimes and corruption and sinister follies of the vast national security apparat.

But as for the -- how to put it? Well, let's be quaint and old-fashioned, shall we? -- the "moral content" of the murder program, there has been no scandal at all. Yes, there have a few furrowed brows here and there from the progessosphere, some tsk-tsks, a few sad head-shakes -- before our Netroots nationalists plunge right back into campaign arcana, railing against some rightwing misinformation or partisan attack that might hurt the electoral chances of a man running a death squad that has killed hundreds of innocent civilians and fomented more terrorism, hatred, war and chaos. Because really, what is the shredded corpse of a drone-blasted child next to yet another birther outburst from that awful Donald Trump? Can you imagine the nerve of that guy?

Now to be fair, The Nation -- redoubtable flagship of American liberalism for yonks on end -- did sally forth with a bracing editorial against Obama's kill list. In no uncertain terms, it denounced the "corrupting logic" of the War on Terror, which leads "otherwise morally responsible leaders to do unspeakable things," such as Obama's "kill lists and drone assassinations."

This does, of course, lead one to wonder just who these "morally responsible leaders" are who are doing such unspeakable things. After all, there have been only two leaders during the War on Terror: Bush and Obama. No Nation reader (or any other sentient being) would ever consider the former to be a "morally responsible" leader. But as Obama has been ordering "drone assassinations" from the very moment he took office -- while resolutely defending and extending his predecessor's other War on Terror policies -- it is hard to see how his moral responsibility has somehow been eroded by his season in power. Should we not say instead with Shakespeare: "Man, he did make love to this employment."

There is also the strange notion that the "War on Terror" itself is somehow an abstract, outside force or entity which compels these individuals to violate their free consciences and do "unspeakable things." This childish concept -- "The War on Terror made me do it!" -- is of course a surreptitious (or perhaps self-deceiving) way for the editors of The Nation to retain their support for Obama even while criticizing him. They know that, deep down, he really is morally responsible -- a good man who has been "led" by the "logic" of the Terror War to do "unspeakable things" against his will and certainly against his inclinations. The "things" he does might be "unspeakable" -- that is to say, evil -- but he himself is not evil. He has simply been led astray, and may one day be led back to the right path of peace-loving progressivism -- just as long as peace-loving progressives don't abandon him, and let those truly evil Republicans return to the White House. (Where they might do unspeakable things like drawing up kill lists and launching drone assassinations.)

But again, let's give credit where it is due. The Nation makes many good arguments against the murder program. (And they have published some excellent work on the actual, real-life effects of the Terror War, in the stories of Jeremy Scahill.) They lay out the heinous nature of this barbaric operation with admirable clarity. But what do they conclude from all this? That the program is ... "troubling." And that since liberals "raised a ruckus" about Bush's -- crimes? atrocities? mass murder? -- no, his "abuses," they should not be "silent" now.

But what liberals should say when breaking their silence is not addressed. Should they say, "We will not support a man who commits mass murder"? (For as The Nation tells us, in Pakistan alone "witnesses have attested to hundreds of civilian deaths.") Or would The Nation have them say, "My word, these 'abuses' are troubling. I certainly will not feel the same enthusiasm when I vote for Obama this time around!" The latter seems far more likely.

But the restrained editorial positively blazes with Luther-like moral fury when compared to some of the reader comments. Here you will find self-proclaimed "good liberals" who, far from being "troubled" by Obama's killing spree, cheer it to the rafters as a mark of moral goodness. Consider the reaction of this "lifelong Democrat, lifelong liberal" to "signature strikes" -- the blind blunderbuss launched against unknown people doing unknown things for unknown purposes:

"When nameless individuals are assassinated over 'patterns of behaviour' that support terrorist enemy combatants, I cheer, since there is alive one less potential attacker of my country."

After all, our leaders would never lead us astray. And they know more than we do -- they even know more than, say, the grandmother holding the bloody corpse of her grandchild in her arms:

"Neither the Pakistani government nor the hundreds of witnesses to US strikes is privy to the US intelligence. How could either possibly know whether or not innocent civilians are included in the death toll? I, for one, put the burden of proof on the other side, and I further place faith in my country to minimize collateral damage as best they can in a combat situation."

Who are you going to believe, Granny? The PowerPoint presentations of the White House "Tuesday Terror" team -- or your own lying eyes? I mean, how could you possibly know little Hamza wasn't a terrorist? Do you have access to Washington's omniscient SIGNIT and HUMINT? I thought not. So shut up already.

Or how about the disquistion of this learned Theban:

"Of course it's immoral and against human dignity to have a 'kill' list. On the other hand, times have changed ... These days our enemies come as thieves in the night, stealthily and under pretense. They have no qualms about killing innocent people, including men, women and children. Their morals allow them to hijack and fly planes into office buildings killing thousands of innocent Americans, going about their capitalist business. I even understand their objection to our way of life. Capitalism, democracy and freedom empower individual people till they no longer can be controlled under a rigid theocratic ideology. This is a threat to those who would hold absolute dominion over others. These pathological radical religious and political dictators see the handwriting on the wall and are using every immoral and hateful means to hold out to the last insane mind.

“So yes, I believe 'kill' lists, drones, intense surveillance and every other means is available on a temporary basis to return to these maniacs the same punishment they meet [sic] out to others."

One might argue that there are other actors in the War on Terror who, as the NYT story shows, "come as thieves in the night" (with remote-control drones) and "have no qualms about killing innocent people, including men, women and children." And that they do this repeatedly, day after day, year after year. But of course, this doesn't matter. Because those we kill are, of necessity, insane maniacs trying to impose absolute dominion over others. Even the innocent men, women and children we kill. Even the people we kill whose names we don't know doing things we don't know for reasons we don't know.

And so it goes. For this Theban, and for so many other "good liberals" and staunch progressives, a five-year-old girl with her guts gouged out by some coward with a joystick 10,000 miles away is an "immoral and hateful maniac" who deserves to die, and whose very presence on the face of the earth justifies any and all repressive measures to keep "our way of life" intact. "On a temporary basis," of course. Just until all the maniacs have been killed. Just until we "exterminate all the brutes."

This is the spectrum of liberalism in 2012. On one end, "troubled" by state murder -- but not sickened, not outraged, not driven to furious rejection of those who perpetrate such "unspeakable things." On the other end, gleefully, joyfully accepting of the murder program, exulting even in the killing of absolute strangers. After all, every defenseless child eviscerated stealthily by a presidential drone is "one less potential attacker of my country." The Leader protects us! The Leader knows best! You go, Barry!


There is, of course, another view of these matters. You won't find it in the venerable journals of liberalism or amongst the fierce dissidents of the Netroots Nation. (As John Caruso points out, here is the rigorous moral compass of the founding father of the Netrooters in action: "'I'll tell you what. If [Obama] shows that he's going to fight for the things that I care about, I will fight twice as hard for him.' And if he doesn't? 'Then I'll vote for him,' says Moulitsas.") It is apparent by now that for the vast bulk of the progressosphere, there is literally nothing that Obama can do to lose their support, however "troubled" or grudging that support might be.

No, for an alternative view, we must turn once again to Arthur Silber, who this week continues his examination of Obama's death squad. This piece begins to get at some of the deeper dynamics at work not only in the murder program itself but also in the mass indifference to its exposure in the Times story and elsewhere, the lack of outrage, the shrugging acceptance (or, as seen above, the wiggly, giddy embrace) of this "unspeakable thing."

Once again, you should read the whole of Silber's essay, but here are a few excerpts particularly pertinent to our theme:

It is one thing for the ruling class to target the general domestic population on economic matters, as it has by systematically squeezing every last bit of wealth and opportunity out of "ordinary" Americans and shoveling all of it into the drooling maw of the rulers (and for many Americans, these methods of brutalization are already catastrophic in the extreme). It is very different when the ruling class announces to the world that it considers every human being on Earth not favored by power and privilege to be fair game in a neverending campaign of slaughter.

Yet there are no crowds in the street. Forget howls of fury; you can listen with the greatest concentration of which you are capable, and you will detect barely a whimper. Life goes on precisely as before, as if nothing of great moment has happened. With very rare exceptions ... even the harshest critics of the murder campaign so thoughtfully detailed in the NYT will not say:

These people are monsters. This is profoundly evil. All these people, all those who collaborate and assist in such a program, have placed themselves far beyond any limit of what can be designated as civilization.

... Be sure to understand this issue. The claim of absolute power -- the claim of dominion over all of human life itself, and the assertion of a damnable "right" to unleash death whenever and in whatever direction they wish -- is not remotely equivalent to any dispute over lowering Social Security benefits, raising the retirement age, or any similar question, at least it is not equivalent to any sane person. The claim of absolute power is sui generis; it is a claim unlike any other. It is not -- I repeat: it is not -- simply another "question of policy." It is certainly possible that, in particular cases, the deprivation of medical benefits (as just one example) may ultimately result in a person's death sooner than would have occurred otherwise. But for some period of time, however brief, the persons so affected are left with the possibility of action; they can still try to save themselves, even if those efforts are finally unsuccessful. But the claim of a "right" to dispense death arbitrarily -- the claim that the State may murder anyone it chooses, whenever it desires -- constitutes a separate category altogether, a category of which this particular claim is the sole unit. When death is unleashed, all possibility of action is ended forever.

Yet you can read various harsh denunciations of this policy, and you will almost never encounter language of the kind I employ here. Even for the most vehement of "dissenters," the assertion of absolute power is treated as another in a list of wrongs, perhaps an especially egregious wrong, but not a claim which demands a fundamentally different response. For such writers, it is certainly nothing to take to the streets about; it is no cause for withdrawing one's support in every way possible from a system of evil dedicated to death. This, too, is a measure of how profoundly damaged our culture is. With regard to almost all "dissenting" writers, and if I may express the point more personally and informally, I often think that I have never seen such a collection of gutless wonders. ...

Not infrequently, I think that what may doom us is not the immense evil to which the State devotes itself, but the quality of the opposition -- those who are, in Thoreau's formulation, the State's "most conscientious supporters, and so frequently the most serious obstacles to reform." ...

Although the NYT article did not disclose new information with regard to the essentials of the State's program of death, its length, detail and prominence constitute a significant ratcheting up of the State's claim of absolute power. Most crucial is the statement in the article that much of the content is derived from interviews with "three dozen of [Obama's] current and former advisers." As I pointed out in Part I, this in effect announces the identity of the article's true author: the author is the U.S. government, the State itself. Through these "advisers," the highest levels of the U.S. government have told the story they want to tell. And what is that story? It is simply this:

The State is become death. Our target can be anyone we choose. Yes, this means you. No, there is nowhere to run.

Here is no shuffling, no weasel-wording, no wiggle room for self-deception. Here we look at the mephitic heart of the matter, the burning, rotten core. In this political year, with an election looming, let no one be mistaken on this point: When you get down with Obama, however grudgingly or reluctantly, you are dancing on the killing floor. You are, to use The Nation's terms, following the logic of the Terror War into complicity and collusion with unspeakable things.
(c) 2012 Chris Floyd

Who Really Won Wisconsin?

"Scott Walker Wins Wisconsin," screamed headlines across the country after the labor-bashing incumbent governor hung onto his job in the June 5 recall election.

Well, yes... but no. Walker will get to stay in office for the rest of his term, but he did not win the election - money did. This was a victory for the Citizens United edict issued two years ago by a five-man corporatist majority on the Supreme Court. Their anti-democracy ruling opened the door for unlimited sums of corporate cash to barge into our national, state, and local elections... and take charge. Walker is the first ugly sprouting of that alien seed.

He sacked up some $30 million from corporate interests - nearly eight times the money that his Democratic opponent had to spend - and two-thirds of Walker's stockpile came from out-of-state interests. Bob Perry, for example, an anti-labor, anti-government Texas tycoon, put more than half-a-million bucks into his Wisconsin soul mate's campaign. Likewise, the far-out DeVos family from the Amway fortune gave a quarter-million dollars, as did Las Vegas casino baron Sheldon Adelson.

Then came the insidious, secretive, "outside" campaigns that the Supremes green-lighted, allowing corporations to dump mountains of their cash into elections. The multibillionaire, laissez-fairyland Koch brothers, for example, shoved at least $3 million behind Walker - practically all of which went to vituperously-negative attacks on his opponent.

So - some victory! Honest conservatives might take cheer that Walker still clings to the governor's chair, but there can be no joy in the fact that money rules. That's the lesson of this election, and that's the real fight. To join it, go to Public Citizen's grassroots rebellion.
(c) 2012 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.

Congress Pushes For War With Iran
By Stephen Zunes

In another resolution apparently designed to prepare for war against Iran, the U.S. House of Representatives, in an overwhelmingly bipartisan 401-11 vote, has passed a resolution (HR 568) urging the president to oppose any policy toward Iran "that would rely on containment as an option in response to the Iranian nuclear threat."

With its earlier decision to pass a bill that effectively sought to ban any negotiations between the United States and Iran, a huge bipartisan majority of Congress has essentially told the president that nothing short of war or the threat of war is an acceptable policy. Indeed, the rush to pass this bill appears to have been designed to undermine the ongoing international negotiations on Iran's nuclear program. According to Iranian-American analyst Jamal Abdi, a prominent critic of both the Iranian regime and U.S. policy, the motivation for the resolution may be to "poison those talks by signaling to Iran that the President is weak, domestically isolated, and unable to deliver at the negotiating table because a hawkish Congress will overrule him."

President Obama's "red line" on Iran - the point at which his administration would consider taking military action against the country - has been the reactionary regime's actual procurement of nuclear weapons. The language of this resolution, however, significantly lowers the bar by declaring it unacceptable for Iran simply to have "nuclear weapons capability" - not necessarily any actual weapons or an active nuclear weapons program. Some members of Congress have argued that since Iranians have the expertise and technological capacity to develop nuclear weapons, they already have "nuclear weapons capability." The hawkish Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) has argued that "everybody will determine for themselves what [capability] means."

"...this resolution reads like the same sheet of music that got us into the Iraq war, and could be the precursor for a war with Iran. It's effectively a thinly-disguised effort to bless war." ~~~ Col. Lawrence Wilkerson (ret.)

In case there was any doubt about the intent of Congress in using this language, when Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) offered a clarifying amendment to a similar clause in a recent Senate resolution - declaring that "nothing in the Act shall be construed as a declaration of war or an authorization of the use of force against Iran" - both its Republican and Democratic sponsors summarily rejected the amendment.

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff for Secretary of State Colin Powell, noted how "this resolution reads like the same sheet of music that got us into the Iraq war, and could be the precursor for a war with Iran. It's effectively a thinly-disguised effort to bless war." As the liberal Zionist group Americans for Peace Now observed, the legislation suggests that "unless sanctions imminently result in Iran voluntarily shutting down its entire nuclear program (and somehow deleting the nuclear know-how from the brains of its scientists), military force will be the only option available to the Obama Administration and will be inevitable in the near term."

Though it is not legally binding, the resolution does limit the president's options politically. As pundit and former Capitol Hill staffer M.J. Rosenberg has noted, the bill was "designed to tie the president's hands on Iran policy." And, as with the case of Iraq, the language of such non-binding resolutions can easily be incorporated into binding legislation, citing the precedent of what had been passed previously.

The End of Containment

There is enormous significance to the resolution's insistence that containment, which has been the basis of U.S. defense policy for decades, should no longer be U.S. policy in dealing with potential threats. Although deterrence may have been an acceptable policy in response to the thousands of powerful Soviet nuclear weapons mounted on intercontinental ballistic missile systems aimed at the United States, the view today is that deterrence is somehow inadequate for dealing with a developing country capable of developing small and crude nuclear devices but lacking long-range delivery systems.

Indeed, this broad bipartisan consensus against deterrence marks the triumph of the neoconservative first-strike policy, once considered on the extreme fringes when first articulated in the 1980s.

This dangerous embrace of neoconservative military policy is now so widely accepted by both parties in Congress that the vote on the resolution was taken under a procedure known as "suspension of the rules," which is designed for non-controversial bills passed quickly with little debate. Indeed, given the serious implications of this legislation, it is striking that there was not a single congressional hearing prior to the vote.

The resolution also demonstrates that the vast majority of Democrats, like Republicans, have embraced the concept of "full-spectrum dominance," the Bush-era doctrine that not only should the United States prevent the emergence of another rival global superpower such as China, but it should also resist the emergence of even a regional power, such as Iran, that could potentially deter unilateral U.S. military actions or other projections of American domination.

Limiting the President

It is unprecedented for Congress to so vigorously seek to limit a president's non-military options in foreign policy. For example, in 1962, even the most right-wing Republicans in Congress did not push for legislation insisting that President Kennedy rule out options other than attacking Cuba or the Soviet Union during the Cuban missile crisis. What might be motivating Congress is the fact that, in electing Barack Obama in 2008, the American people brought into the White House an outspoken opponent of the U.S. invasion of Iraq who not only withdrew U.S. combat forces from that country but promised to "change the mindset" - the idea that the United States could unilaterally make war against oil-rich Middle Eastern countries that did not accept U.S. domination - that made the Iraq war possible. Both Democratic and Republican hawks, therefore, appear determined to force this moderate president to accept their neoconservative agenda.

Deterrence, when dealing with a nuclear-armed party, is indeed a risky strategy. The international community does have an interest in preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons, as well as in forcing India, Pakistan, and Israel to disarm their already-existing arsenals. All reasonable diplomatic means should be pursued to create and maintain a nuclear-free zone in that volatile region.

However, the idea that deterrence against Iran would not work because the country's clerical leadership, which controls the armed forces, would decide to launch an unprovoked nuclear attack against Israel or the United States - and therefore invite massive nuclear retaliation that would cause the physical destruction of their entire country - is utterly ridiculous. The far more realistic risk to worry about is the enormous devastation that would result from a U.S. war on Iran.

The real "threat" from Iran is if that country achieves nuclear capability, it would then have a deterrent to a U.S. attack that was unavailable to its immediate neighbors to the east (Afghanistan) and west (Iraq), both of which were invaded by U.S.-led forces. Both Democrats and Republicans appear to be united in their belief that no country should stand in the way of the unilateral projection of military force by the United States or its allies.

Indeed, this resolution is not about the national security of the United States, nor is it about the security of Israel. It is about continuing U.S. hegemony over the world's most oil-rich region.
(c) 2012 Stephen Zunes is a professor of politics and chair of Middle Eastern studies at the University of San Francisco and serves as a contributing editor of Tikkun. His most recent book, co-authored with Jacob Mundy, is Western Sahara: War, Nationalism, and Conflict Irresolution (Syracuse University Press, 2010.)

Can We Live Without Our Postal Service?
By James Donahue

Before we had the Internet and private delivery services like United Parcel Service and Federal Express, the United States Postal Service was a vital part of our daily lives. That service, financed by sales of stamps and subsidized by the federal government, was our communication link with family and friends, and the way people moved goods from place to place.

There was a postman's creed, inscribed on the James Farley Post Office in New York that everybody knew: "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds."

And that was always quite true. I vividly recall a time in my youth when our small community in Michigan was totally cut off from the outside world by a massive blizzard. The snow came down wet and then froze when the temperature dropped. It was about a week before the roads were plowed out. But the mail still got delivered. It was delivered by an aircraft with skis that landed on a golf course within sight of my home.

I co-authored an historical book about a great forest fire that swept Michigan's Thumb District in 1880. There was one story about a mail carrier who delivered the mail by horseback. Even though he knew a fire storm was approaching and the air was full of smoke, he ventured off with his mail pouch because he believed the mail must go through. He died when the fire caught up with him.

Those were the days when there was such a thing as a penny postcard, and general mail delivery cost no more than three cents. I was an ardent stamp collector for a while and I had my book filled with stamps from that period and the years before. Today the cost of postage stamps has risen so high, and the postal service has been printing so many different kinds of stamps that it costs a small fortune to keep up a stamp collection. I sold my collection for a good price some years ago.

The postal service we knew and enjoyed since the days of the pony express changed after 1970 when Congress turned the post office into what we know today as the U.S. Postal Service. It became a quasi-public agency that was allowed to borrow to make capital investments, given flexibility on how it used its money, and was directed by Congress to become a self-sufficient agency.

Since then we have seen the introduction of central sorting sites, the invention of the area code to allow computerized machinery to assist in high-speed sorting, the introduction of special delivery trucks for city delivery, more and more use of part-time delivery personnel and higher and higher prices for stamps and services. Nixon moved the postal service off the national budget in 1974. He did it by administrative order, but Congress did it by statute in 1989.

The postal service has been running deeper and deeper in debt all this time. At the same time, competition from private carriers has grown, and the Internet and I-phone text messages have replaced much of the old ways of keeping in touch by writing letters. It has gotten so bad that some schools are considering dropping the teaching of hand writing from the curriculum. Yet its carriers still faithfully deliver the mail six days each week. The new package service, designed to compete with UPS and FedX, and express mail that can move important information to its destination sometimes within a single day has been among the best ever offered by our local post office. Best of all, the cost of sending a package via the post office is less than half the price charged by the other carriers.

Postal workers say the USPS has had an increase in the volume of mail that it has been handling. They note that the service handled the largest volume of mail in history in 2006. So why is the postal service now threatened with some $20 billion in losses? Articles in some blog pages point to what some theorize may be a conspiracy to force the privatization of the mail and package delivery service. The USPS was debt-free at the end of its 2005 fiscal year. But Congressional legislation in 2006 required the agency to fund 75 years in worker benefits over 10 years at a cost of $5.5 billion a year. By 2009 the service was staring at a $10.2 billion debt and it passed its $15 billion statutory debt limit in 2011.

Postal workers say that law accounts for 100 percent of the agency's losses.

The threat of losing our postal service strikes a hard blow to those of us still using and depending upon this service. The USPS is planning to end Saturday delivery, close half of the nation's post offices and processing centers and laying off more than 200,000 workers in a radical move to balance its books. And if this happens, it promises to be the beginning of the end.

We are as guilty of using e-mail to send messages as everybody else because it is a quick and efficient way to stay in touch. But we also rely on the Post Office to carry those important legal papers, checks and deliver packages ordered on line. People in the area where we live depend on the postal service since we are not in a populated area. Closing half of the post offices here will mean long drives for many just to reach a service in another town.

And with cutbacks like this, we can no longer expect the mail to get those important cards and letters delivered on time.

This is all downright foolishness. With NASA shutting down, who dares to believe that we will always have satellites circling our planet that allow Internet signals to bounce from place to place. And if we lose the ability to send e-mail and text messages, what will we do without our reliable postman to pick up the slack?
(c) 2012 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles. He currently produces daily articles for this web site

Israel Upside Down
By David Swanson

Miko Peled has written a perfect book for people, including Israelis, who have always heard that the Israeli government can do no wrong. The General's Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine is partly an account of the author's father's life. His father, Matti Peled, was an Israeli general, war hero, military governor of the Gaza strip, member of Parliament, professor, and columnist who turned against the occupation of Palestine.

Largely, however, the book is an account of Miko Peled's own life, and the evolution of his thinking about Israel. This autobiographical narrative, by a very likable and moral author, takes us step by step from unquestioning Zionism to condemnation of Israeli war crimes. For those who would condemn the morality of this intellectual journey, there are two obvious responses. First, read it.

Second, the false accusations of hating Israel that often result from any sensible proposal to protect Israel from its government cannot easily apply here, by the accusers' own logic, because the author dutifully performed his Israeli military service, and his father killed a huge number of people in the name of Israel.

Such shallow prejudices have no place in this book, which respectfully and non-confrontationally persuades the reader gradually, through the course of a self-questioning life's story, that much of what is commonly assumed about Israel is in fact the reverse of reality. The Peled family's military history is of less interest as superficial immunity from false accusations, than as a starting place for an argument that runs its course from the necessity of brutalizing Palestinians all the way through to the necessity of Israelis and Palestinians living together as friends and family.

Miko Peled grew up in Jerusalem believing that Israel had always been a little David struggling honorably against an Arab Goliath. His grandfather, Avraham Katznelson, had been an important figure in the founding of Israel. His father, Matti Peled, had in 1948 fought in either the War of Independence or the Catastrophe, depending on which label one prefers. Matti Peled was also a leader of the Six-Day War of 1967, when Miko -- born in 1961 -- was a child.

But Matti Peled, in 1967, had believed he was leading troops into a limited war with Egypt, not a war to conquer territory. At the first weekly meeting of the General Staff after the war, Matti Peled proposed that the Palestinians be given their own state. He said that occupying the West Bank, Gaza, and the Golan Heights would endanger, rather than protect, an Israeli democracy, that it would in fact turn Israel into a brutal occupying power. The other generals claimed that the Palestinians would never settle for the West Bank and Gaza. So, Peled produced evidence that the vast majority of Palestinians would indeed accept that deal. Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin told Peled to let it go.

Matti Peled began writing a column in the Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv in 1967. He immediately rejected the popular propaganda which held that Israel had been viciously attacked. On the contrary, he wrote, Israel had seen an opportunity to damage the Egyptian military and had seized it. Peled proposed allowing the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza to hold elections, and denounced the common pretense that Israel could not negotiate with the Palestinians because they had no representatives. After all, Peled pointed out, Israel was forbidding them from electing representatives.

Earlier this year, 2012, former U.S. representative and current buffoon Newt Gingrich claimed that Palestinians are "an invented people." When Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir made this claim in 1973, Matti Peled wrote:

"How do people in the world refer to the population that resides in the West Bank? What were the refugees of 1948 called prior to exile? Has she really not heard of the Palestinian people prior to 1967? In discussions she must have had over the years in her capacity as ambassador and then as foreign minister, how did she refer to these people? Yet she says she has not heard of the Palestinian people prior to 1967? Truly amazing!"

Miko Peled and his brothers and sisters grew up with an understanding that was perhaps halfway against war, an understanding that they shared with their father. There had been a time for war, and there was now a time for peace. (To every thing, turn turn turn, there is a season . . . .) They would perhaps have advanced further, sooner, had their father told them more about what he knew and what he was trying to do about it.

In 1973, Matti Peled, Uri Avnery, and Yaakov Arnon, among others, founded the Israeli Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace. On the tenth anniversary of the 1967 war, in a 1977 televised discussion with the entire general staff from 1967, Peled reminded everyone that the government had never authorized the military's seizure of the West Bank.

Peled began meeting with Palestinian leaders and discussing possible agreements. He and Yasser Arafat's confidant Issam Sartawi discussed a two-state solution, while the Palestinian political party Fatah's position was to support only a single secular democratic state for Arabs and Jews together.

In 1982, when Israel invaded Lebanon, Matti Peled spoke at an antiwar rally in Tel Aviv. It was the first time Israelis had protested a war while it was underway. Ariel Sharon's involvement in brutal massacres at Sabra and Shatila forced his resignation and kept him out of politics for 18 years.

In 1984, Matti Peled helped found a joint Jewish-Arab political party called the Progressive List for Peace (PLP). He urged the United States over and over again to support Israel by ceasing to give it money and sell it weapons, a corrupting influence that Peled argued Israel had done just fine without. (Try telling that to the U.S. Congress even all these years later!)

By 1997, the younger Peled, Miko, had left Israel to spend time in England, Japan, and the United States, settling in the area of San Diego, California. Miko Peled still had family in Israel whom he visited often, including a 13-year-old niece named Smadar. She was killed by a Palestinian suicide bomber in 1997, and Peled flew to Jerusalem for the funeral. The mayor, and future prime minister, Ehud Barak was among those attending. Barak was, at the time, campaigning for prime minister. Peled recalls:

"Here he was sitting among us, trying to convince people that in order to really make peace he had to run without making it look like he wanted peace so he wouldn't lose votes for being a peacemaker. I sat quietly wondering if anyone really believed such nonsense. Finally, I couldn't take it anymore and said, 'Why not tell the truth?' The room became silent. 'Why not tell people that this and other similar tragedies are taking place because we are occupying another nation and that in order to save lives the right thing to do is to end the occupation and negotiate a just peace with our Palestinian partners?' . . . I received a withering look from Barak, and when he prepared to leave and made the round of handshakes, all I got was a cold shoulder."

In 2000, Miko Peled, back in San Diego, joined a group of Jews and Palestinians who were meeting to talk and broaden each other's horizons. Peled's wife was concerned at first that he might be killed, and Miko himself was far from sure he wouldn't. Such was the novelty for this Israeli in meeting with Palestinians, and such was the fear and misunderstanding. But Peled thrived in these dialogue groups, made friends, and encountered surprising perspectives.

A Palestinian friend mentioned during one meeting that back in 1948 the Palestinians had gone to battle with 10,000 fighters, while the Jews had had triple that number, or more. Peled was outraged, as he had always believed the Jews to have been the smaller force, the underdogs, the Davids up against Goliaths. But he held his tongue because he respected his friend's opinion. He researched, and learned. He discovered that the Jewish militias had in fact used superior strength to destroy Palestine and forcibly exile its people.

The distrust and misunderstanding went both ways. A Palestinian man named Nader Elbanna, on first meeting Peled, assumed he must be working for Mossad, the Israeli spy agency. But Nader and Peled became friends and began speaking together at Rotary clubs, as well as raising funds to provide both Palestinians and Israelis with wheel chairs.

The more Peled learned, the more he wanted to know. He began traveling to Palestine. He found the people, of whom he was initially frightened, wonderfully open and generous. He found that they knew his father and called his father Abu Salam, meaning Father of Peace. Peled himself had not been aware that his father had been given that name by Palestinians. Peled met with nonviolent activists in Bil'in and elsewhere in Palestine. He learned that, contrary to media depictions, the bulk of Palestinian resistance was and had always been nonviolent.

The Israeli occupation, on the other hand, was and had always been more brutal than Peled had known. He learned from an Israeli naval special forces officer of tactics used in patrolling the coast of Gaza:

"They would come upon Gazan fishing boats and from time to time they would single out a particular boat, order the fishermen to jump in the water and blow up the boat. Then under gunpoint, they told the fishermen to count from one to a hundred and then when they were done to start over again. They would make them count over and over again until one by one the fishermen could no longer tread water, and they drowned."

A Palestinian friend named Bassam Aramin, two years after Peled met him, on January 16, 2007, lost his daughter. His two daughters, aged 10 and 12 were walking home from school, holding hands, when an Israeli soldier took aim and shot the younger one in the head.

Peled increasingly dedicated himself to the Palestinian peace movement, in which he worked with those who had been imprisoned and tortured by Israel. In doing so, he learned the history of Israel and Palestine, and the history of his own family. He learned of an Israeli massacre of civilians in Gaza in 1967, and that his father had investigated it and that his father's views had likely been changed by it. The elder Peled had not only been prophesying brutal occupation for the future in 1967 but also acknowledging its existence already in place.

The younger Peled also came to abandon the idea of a two-state solution, as his father had favored. Miko Peled has seen Israelis and Palestinians live together as the closest of friends. His belief is that only a single state, a secular state, a democratic state, in which all are welcome and respected, will put the violence and suffering to rest.

The people of Israel and Palestine are highly educated. They are perfectly capable of living in peace. To do so, they will have to learn what Peled's book helps teach so well: Never, under any circumstance, no matter the context, no matter the poetic justice, no matter past histories of victimization, no matter the intention or desire, never ever ever is war an acceptable instrument of public policy. In fact, we are lucky if the best of wars don't doom us to a century or more of ongoing bloodshed and resentment.
(c) 2012 David Swanson is the author of "War Is A Lie."

Whistle-blowers Vs. Leakers
Not all leaks take courage, as the Obama administration has recently demonstrated
By David Sirota

In the quest to keep my most recent column within newspapers' 600-word limit, I inadvertently glossed over a distinction that's particularly important to the ongoing debate over classified material. In arguing that Congress's focus should be less on stopping disclosures and more on halting (or at least overseeing) the illegal acts being exposed, I failed to distinguish between selfless whistle-blowers and self-interested leakers. It is a significant difference that actually tells a deeply disturbing story all unto itself.

Over the last few years, whistle-blowers and whistle-blower enablers like Bradley Manning, Julian Assange and the New York Times' James Risen (among others) have publicized corporate and governmental wrongdoing at great risk to their lives and careers. These were courageous acts of self-sacrifice on behalf of larger ideals.

At the same time, Obama administration aides have selectively leaked secret information exposing such wrongdoing (in this case, the president engaging in due-process-free executions) - but at little risk to their lives and careers (except perhaps for some momentary partisan blowback over their willingness to go to such lengths to protect their boss). These were craven acts of self-preservation aimed not at protecting ideals, but at burnishing the president's political image. And while President Obama on Friday vehemently denied that his administration has been strategically leaking this information, the facts, to put it mildly, suggest otherwise.

What's so revealing, of course, is the different reactions to the information. While both kinds of disclosures detail potentially illegal acts, and while the whistle-blowers' disclosures are seen as bad news for the government (thus, blowing the "whistle"), the behavior documented in the leakers' disclosures is somehow simultaneously accepted as savvy political imageering. Worse, while the leakers may face consequences for the act of leaking, they have come to expect no serious consequences for those committing the wrongdoing they are exposing (read: bragging about).

Think about it: Obama officials are leaking information about the secret "kill list" expecting not that such a disclosure will prompt a legislative assault on the "kill list" itself, but instead expecting that the disclosure will build public support for it. That is, they leak not to blow a whistle that attracts the critical scrutiny of law enforcement, but to blow a whistle that attracts positive attention from the news media during a political campaign.

What's so frightening, of course, is that the leakers' assumptions are entirely accurate. As Glenn Greenwald rightly notes, much of the leak-inspired coverage of President Obama's drone wars is framed not in legal, constitutional or law enforcement terms, but in terms of how such behavior helps make him look "tough" in advance of the 2012 election. In that willingness to downplay the real crimes at hand, and in the Congress's willingness to criticize only the act of disclosure rather than what's actually being disclosed, the political system as a whole is thus encouraging even more wrongdoing by showing there are no significant consequences for the illegal acts themselves.

No doubt, whether critical information about wrongdoing comes from heroic whistle-blowers or conniving leakers, it's a good thing when that information finally gets out. What's not good is that the media frames its reaction around the perceived motive of the messengers - and that somehow, the media reflex today is to denigrate the heroic whistle-blower (see the disdain for Assange, for instance) and obediently comply with the political goals of the conniving leaker.

Whistle-blowers and leakers are certainly different - but in mixing up which of them are the heroes and villains, we're creating an incentive for yet more illegality in the future.
(c) 2012 David Sirota is the author of the best-selling books "Hostile Takeover" and "The Uprising." He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado and blogs at E-mail him at David Sirota is a former spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee.

Labor-Funded Progressive Leaders Cross Huffington Post Picket Line
By Mike Elk

Last week was a milestone in journalism, as the Huffington Post exceeded the New York Times in Web traffic and cemented its role as a main rival to the Gray Lady. It was also noted that the combined AOL-Huffington Post newsroom staff of 1,300 people is now bigger than the Times' 1,200-person staff. While much of the debate about the rivarly has focused on Huffington Post's adoption of savvy Internet tactics versus the more old-school Times, very little of the discussion has focused on where the two newsrooms differ the most: their labor practices.

The Times' newsroom staff is entirely unionized, while the AOL-Huffington Post staff is entirely nonunionized. Also unlike the Times, which insists on paying every professional writer (even op-ed contributors), the Huffington Post has relied on a network of more than 8,000 unpaid bloggers to establish itself and drive traffic to its site. In a Forbes magazine article, AOL executives were quoted as saying that AOL CEO Tim Armstrong "talked a lot about the importance of recruiting hordes of free bloggers.... "It was always, 'Arianna does it. That's what she's built her business on. Why don't we do it, too?'" says a former AOL editor-in-chief.

Labor leaders claim that with 11,000 journalists having lost their jobs due to newsroom cutbacks in the last three years, AOL-Huffington Post has risen to its stature by exploiting journalists desperate to establish names for themselves; they're thus willing to work for free in the hope that they may someday find paid work. They say the fact the Huffington Post doesn't pay its writers is an unfair business advantage that is sure to lower the standards of journalists.

In response to what labor leaders see as an exploitative situation, on March 17, the Newspaper Guild (TNG) and the National Writers Union (NWU) both called for bloggers to refuse to blog at the Huffington Post and join an electronic picket line against the publication.

The unions are demanding that a pay schedule be established for compensation of all unpaid Huffington Post bloggers and that those bloggers be given greater editorial control over how their pieces are used.

The unions requested a meeting with Arianna Huffington to describe labor practices at the Huffington Post. So far, Huffington has agreed to meet, but union officials are still hoping to secure one.

It should also be noted that in addition to fighting for pay for unpaid bloggers, union officials are seeking to unionize already paid staff at the Huffington Post. Some union members also want to a secure a pledge from Huffington that she will not engage in illegal unionbusting activities.

The Huffington Post picket line is being respected by established journalists like Pulitzer Prize-winner Chris Hedges and New York Times bestselling author Max Blumenthal, along with independent journalists of less established stature, like sports writer Dave Zirin and Citizens Radio Host Allison Kilkenny.

"Ms. Huffington is creating a new editorial business model built on the desperation of the 21st century journalist. It's a business model that enriches itself by selling the snake-oil that, for a writer, 'building your brand' is an end unto itself," says sports writer Dave Zirin. "I think it's dangerous for the future of our craft and I ain't gonna work on Arianna's farm no more. The virtual picket line should be respected for this reason alone."

While these writers have very little formal connection to the labor movement, they are respecting the picket line out of a sense that something must change for journalists in the industry. Labor leaders, including AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, have also stood up and across the board refused to blog at the Huffington Post. Some of the site's paid reporters have complained that some labor leaders have refused to talk to them about stories out of a sense of solidarity with the picket line.

While support for the picket line has been strong, some progressives leaders who have worked on projects heavily funded by organized labor—such as former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, American Prospect Editor Robert Kuttner, Robert Creamer of Americans United for Change and bloggers at the labor funded Campaign for America's Future—have continued to blog at Huffington despite calls from union leaders to not blog there. (Full disclosure: I worked for the Campaign for America's Future from 2009-2010, and blogged at Huffington Post until I was "fired" in late January).

Reich has told labor leaders that he believes in Creative Commons copyright usage and provides his articles free of charge to any publications that wants to run them and would not be willing to participate in the boycott for that reason. (However, Reich's belief in Creative Commons copyright does not extend to his books. Indeed, Reich retains copyrights to his book, whose sales are greatly aided by being purchased in bulk by labor unions.)

Creamer, whose organization has received money from organized labor and whose wife, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), has received generous labor backing, responded by saying:

I write the equivalent of op-ed columns that Huff Post distributes more widely than any other medium. I'm not a journalist in any sense, but rather a political strategist and organizer. I'm not an employee or contractor with Huff Post. I strongly favor the unionization of the employees of every employer in America -- including Huffington Post.

But my relationship -- and that of other bloggers on Huff Post -- have a completely different quality that than of a professional journalist.

Public figures and political leaders have justified continuing to write at the Huffington Post since publications such as the New York Times would not pay for op-ed contributions from elected officials or heads of political organizations. However, the Times does pay op-ed contributors who are professional writers and do not make a living as political leaders or activists. "The basic concept is that we think writers should be paid for their work," New York Times Editorial Page Editor Andy Rosenthal told Forbes.

Other progressive leaders who continue to write at the Huffington Post say they are supportive of the unions and are attempting to persuade Arianna Huffington to reach an equitable settlement.

"I value both Huffington Post and the efforts by the unions. I am in touch with Arianna on this, and I hope they come to an agreement," says American Prospect Co-Editor Robert Kuttner.

Campaign for America's Future Co-Director Roger Hickey echoed these sentiments, saying "We are in favor of the employees at the Huffington Post being represented by a union. We have told Arianna that she should talk to the union."

Some progressives have justified continuing to write for the website because they feel Arianna Huffington is operating in good faith with the union and are hopeful a settlement will eventually be reached between the unions and Arianna Huffington. This despite a public statement by Arianna Huffington mocking those on strike, saying "no one really notices." Labor leaders feel that progressives continuing to write despite the call for a boycott undercuts their goal of reaching a settlement with strikers.

"They want something for nothing, they want it both ways. The fact is, the bigger the boycott, the stronger the union, the quicker and fairer the settlement. Whatever "good faith" exists is only because of those who have taken a stand," says National Writers Union (NWU-UAW) President Larry Goldbetter.

Unions are looking to intensify their campaign against the Huffington Post. NWU has recently hired on a full-time staffer to focus specifically on the campaign against the Huffington Post. Some union members are demanding that their unions put more pressure on progressives to respect the picket line. Some have floated the idea of labeling people who cross the picket line as scabs and have floated the idea of potentially cutting off funding to organizations that continue to blog at the Huffington Post.

"It's a little too easy to impose sanction on labor-funded nonprofits, and I'm sure there are some that deserve it," said Goldbetter. While the unions have not made any specific threat of sanctions against labor-funded groups that continue blogging at the Huffington Post, labor leaders are upset that progressives are questioning something as basic as a picket line.

"We are surprised by folks who would never think of crossing a picket line, but somehow think because it's digital it's different. It's not," said TNG (affiliated with CWA) President Bernie Lunzer.

Others say that progressives who continue to write for the Huffington Post are setting a bad example for young people who have joined the labor movement in the wake of the huge protests in Madison, Wis., this year.

"Now it appears that even leading progressives who should be setting a good behavioral example for younger activists care little about respecting a labor boycott with growing support," says labor journalist, former CWA union organizer Steve Early, who is honoring the boycott. (He's also a contributor to Working In These Times.) "Who's going to take these guys seriously when they preach to us about the need for social and workplace solidarity but then completely ignore the collective efforts of the Guild and the National Writers Union to make HuffPo a more responsible employer of freelance labor?"

Wherever one stands on the issue of the Huffington Post's use of unpaid labor, it's progressives-who are both participating and not participating in the picket line-who will determine the future of what's acceptable for labor practices in the journalism industry.
(c) 2012 Mike Elk is an In These Times Staff Writer and a regular contributor to the labor blog Working In These Times. He can be reached at

Another Bank Bailout
By Paul Krugman

Oh, wow - another bank bailout, this time in Spain. Who could have predicted that?

The answer, of course, is everybody. In fact, the whole story is starting to feel like a comedy routine: yet again the economy slides, unemployment soars, banks get into trouble, governments rush to the rescue - but somehow it's only the banks that get rescued, not the unemployed.

Just to be clear, Spanish banks did indeed need a bailout. Spain was clearly on the edge of a "doom loop" - a well-understood process in which concern about banks' solvency forces the banks to sell assets, which drives down the prices of those assets, which makes people even more worried about solvency. Governments can stop such doom loops with an infusion of cash; in this case, however, the Spanish government's own solvency is in question, so the cash had to come from a broader European fund.

So there's nothing necessarily wrong with this latest bailout (although a lot depends on the details). What's striking, however, is that even as European leaders were putting together this rescue, they were signaling strongly that they have no intention of changing the policies that have left almost a quarter of Spain's workers - and more than half its young people - jobless.

Most notably, last week the European Central Bank declined to cut interest rates. This decision was widely expected, but that shouldn't blind us to the fact that it was deeply bizarre. Unemployment in the euro area has soared, and all indications are that the Continent is entering a new recession. Meanwhile, inflation is slowing, and market expectations of future inflation have plunged. By any of the usual rules of monetary policy, the situation calls for aggressive rate cuts. But the central bank won't move.

And that doesn't even take into account the growing risk of a euro crackup. For years Spain and other troubled European nations have been told that they can only recover through a combination of fiscal austerity and "internal devaluation," which basically means cutting wages. It's now completely clear that this strategy can't work unless there is strong growth and, yes, a moderate amount of inflation in the European "core," mainly Germany - which supplies an extra reason to keep interest rates low and print lots of money. But the central bank won't move.

Meanwhile, senior officials are asserting that austerity and internal devaluation really would work if only people truly believed in their necessity.

Consider, for example, what Jorg Asmussen, the German representative on the European Central Bank's executive board, just said in Latvia, which has become the poster child for supposedly successful austerity. (It used to be Ireland, but the Irish economy keeps refusing to recover). "The key difference between, say, Latvia and Greece," Mr. Asmussen said, "lies in the degree of national ownership of the adjustment program - not only by national policy-makers but also by the population itself."

Call it the Darth Vader approach to economic policy; Mr. Asmussen is in effect telling the Greeks, "I find your lack of faith disturbing."

Oh, and that Latvian success consists of one year of pretty good growth following a Depression-level economic decline over the previous three years. True, 5.5 percent growth is a lot better than nothing. But it's worth noting that America's economy grew almost twice that fast - 10.9 percent! - in 1934, as it rebounded from the worst of the Great Depression. Yet the Depression was far from over.

Put all of this together and you get a picture of a European policy elite always ready to spring into action to defend the banks, but otherwise completely unwilling to admit that its policies are failing the people the economy is supposed to serve.

Still, are we much better? America's near-term outlook isn't quite as dire as Europe's, but the Federal Reserve's own forecasts predict low inflation and very high unemployment for years to come - precisely the conditions under which the Fed should be leaping into action to boost the economy. But the Fed won't move.

What explains this trans-Atlantic paralysis in the face of an ongoing human and economic disaster? Politics is surely part of it - whatever they may say, Fed officials are clearly intimidated by warnings that any expansionary policy will be seen as coming to the rescue of President Obama. So, too, is a mentality that sees economic pain as somehow redeeming, a mentality that a British journalist once dubbed "sado-monetarism."

Whatever the deep roots of this paralysis, it's becoming increasingly clear that it will take utter catastrophe to get any real policy action that goes beyond bank bailouts. But don't despair: at the rate things are going, especially in Europe, utter catastrophe may be just around the corner.
(c) 2012 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

"The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It's a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis."
~~~ Harold Pinter ~ 2005 Nobel Lecture

Hubris As The Evil Force In History
By Paul Craig Roberts

I have always been intrigued by the Battle of Bull Run, the opening battle of the US Civil War, known to southerners as the War of Northern Aggression. Extreme hubris characterized both sides, the North before the battle and the South afterwards.

Republican politicians and their ladies in their finery road out to Manassas, the Virginia town through which the stream, Bull Run, flowed, in carriages to watch the Union Army end the "Southern Rebellion" in one fell swoop. What they witnessed instead was the Union Army fleeing back to Washington with its tail between its legs. The flight of the northern troops promoted some southern wags to name the battle, the Battle of Yankee Run.

The outcome of the battle, left the South infected with the hubris that had so abruptly departed the North. The southerners concluded that they had nothing to fear from cowards who ran away from a fight. "We have nothing to worry about from them," decided the South. It was precisely at this point that hubris defeated the South.

Historians report that the flight back to Washington left the Union Army and the US capital in a state of disorganization for three weeks, during which time even a small army could have taken the capital. Historians inclined not to see the battle as a victory for the South claim that the southerners were exhausted by the effort it took to put the yankees to flight and simply hadn't the energy to pursue them, take Washington, hang the traitor Lincoln and all the Republicans, and end the war.

Exhausted troops or not, if Napoleon had been the southern general, the still organized southern army would have been in Washington as fast as the disorganized Union. Possibly the southerners would have engaged in ethnic cleansing by enslaving the yankees and selling them to Africans, thus ejecting from the country the greed-driven northern imperialists who, in the southern view, did not know how to behave either in private or in public.

It was not southern exhaustion that saved the day for the North. It was southern hubris. The Battle of Bull Run convinced the South that the citified northerners simply could not fight and were not a military threat.

Perhaps the South was right about the North. However, the Irish immigrants, who were met at the docks and sent straight to the front, could fight. The South was dramatically outnumbered and had no supply of immigrants to fill the ranks vacated by casualties. Moreover, the South had no industry and no navy. And, of course, the South was demonized because of slavery, although the slaves never revolted even when all southern men were at the front. When the South failed to take advantage of its victory at Bull Run and occupy Washington, the South lost the war.

An examination of hubris casts a great deal of light on wars, their causes and outcomes. Napoleon undid himself, as Hitler was to do later, by marching off into Russia. British hubris caused both world wars. The second world war began when the British, incomprehensibly gave a "guarantee" to the Polish colonels, who were on the verge of returning that part of Germany that Poland had acquired from the Versailles Treaty. The colonels, not understanding that the British had no way of making the guarantee good, gave Hitler the finger, an act of defiance that was too much for Hitler who had declared Germans to be the exceptional people.

Hitler smacked Poland, and the British and French declared war.

Hitler made short work of the French and British armies. But the British in their hubris, hiding behind the English channel, wouldn't surrender or even agree to a favorable peace settlement. Hitler concluded that the British were counting on Russia to enter the war on their side. Hitler decided that if he knocked off Russia, the British hope would evaporate and they would come to peace terms. So Hitler turned on his Russian partner with whom he had just dismembered Poland. Stalin, in his own hubris, had recently purged almost every officer in the Red Army, thus making Hitler's decision easy.

The outcome of all this hubris was the rise of the US military/security complex and more than four decades of cold war and the threat of nuclear destruction, a period that lasted from the end of world war two until Reagan and Gorbachev, two leaders not consumed by hubris, agreed to end the cold war.

Alas, hubris returned to America with the neoconservative ascendency. Americans have become "the indispensable people." Like the Jacobins of the French Revolution who intended to impose "liberty, equality, fraternity" upon all of Europe, Washington asserts the superiority of the American way and the right to impose it on the rest of the world. Hubris is in full flower despite its defeats. The "three week" Iraq war lasted eight years, and after 11 years the Taliban control more of Afghanistan than the "world's only superpower."

Sooner or later American hubris is going to run up against Russia and China, neither of which will give way. Either the US, like Napoleon and Hitler, will have its Russian (or Chinese) moment, or the world will go up in thermonuclear smoke.

The only solution for humanity is to immediately impeach and imprison warmongers when first sighted before their hubris leads us yet again into the death and destruction of war.
(c) 2012 Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury and professor of economics in six universities. He is coauthor of "The Tyranny of Good Intentions," co-authored with Lawrence Stratton, a documented account of how Americans lost the protection of law, was published by Random House. He can be reached at:

Why the Public's Growing Disdain For The Supreme Court May Help Obamacare
By Robert Reich

The public's growing disdain of the Supreme Court increases the odds that a majority will uphold the constitutionality of Obamacare.

The latest New York Times CBS Poll shows just 44 percent of Americans approve the job the Supreme Court is doing. Fully three-quarters say justices' decisions are sometimes influenced by their personal political views.

The trend is clearly downward. Approval of the Court reached 66 percent in the late 1980s, and by 2000 had slipped to around 50 percent.

As the Times points out, the decline may stem in part from Americans' growing distrust in recent years of major institutions in general and the government in particular.

But it's just as likely to reflect a sense that the Court is more political, especially after it divided in such partisan ways in the 5-4 decisions Bush v. Gore (which decided the 2000 presidential race) and Citizen's United (which in 2010 opened the floodgates to unlimited campaign spending).

Americans' diminishing respect for the Court can be heard on the right and left of our increasingly polarized political spectrum.

A few months ago, while a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, Newt Gingrich stated that the political branches were “not bound” by the Supreme Court. Gingrich is known for making bizarre claims. The remarkable thing about this one was the silence with which it was greeted, not only by other Republican hopefuls but also by Democrats.

Last week I was on a left-leaning radio talk show whose host suddenly went on a riff about how the Constitution doesn't really give the Supreme Court the power to overturn laws for being unconstitutional, and it shouldn't have that power.

All this is deeply dangerous for the Court, and for our system of government.

Almost 225 years ago, Alexander Hamilton, writing in the Federalist (Number 78, June 14, 1788) noted the fragility of our third branch of government, whose power rests completely on public respect for its judgement:

The Executive not only dispenses the honors, but holds the sword of the community. The legislature not only commands the purse, but prescribes the rules by which the duties and rights of every citizen are to be regulated. [Yet lacking sword or purse, the judiciary] is in continual jeopardy of being overpowered, awed, or influenced by its co-ordinate branches; and that as nothing can contribute so much to its firmness and independence as permanency in office, this quality may therefore be justly regarded as an indispensable ingredient in its constitution, and, in a great measure, as the citadel of the public justice and the public security.

The immediate question is whether the Chief Justice, John Roberts, understands the tenuous position of the Court he now runs. If he does, he'll do whatever he can to avoid another 5-4 split on the upcoming decision over the constitutionality of the Obama healthcare law.

My guess is he'll try to get Anthony Kennedy to join with him and with the four Democratic appointees to uphold the law's constitutionality, relying primarily on an opinion by Judge Laurence Silberman of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia - a Republican appointee with impeccable conservative credentials, who found the law to be constitutional.
(c) 2012 Robert Reich is Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written twelve books, including The Work of Nations, Locked in the Cabinet, and his most recent book, Supercapitalism. His "Marketplace" commentaries can be found on and iTunes.

The Dead Letter Office...

Heil Obama,

Dear Unterfuhrer Rendon,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your bill to end abortion, even at the cost of the woman's life, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Rethuglican whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Iron Cross 1st class, presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 07-04-2012. We salute you Herr Rendon, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

How Redefining Direct Democracy as Anti-Democratic Won Wisconsin
By John Nichols

Now that the dust has settled following last Tuesday's Wisconsin recall election, the most remarkable line of spin to have gained traction is the notion that Scott Walker won in large part because Wisconsinites did not like direct democracy.

Pundits and polls seized on exit poll numbers that suggested that voters were fundamentally opposed to recall elections. Only 27 percent of voters who participated in the June 5 election between Walker, the state's controversial anti-labor governor, and Democratic challenger Tom Barrett, told exit pollsters that they thought recall elections were appropriate for any reason. Sixty percent said recall elections should only be held in cases of official misconduct, while 10 percent said recall elections should never be held.

So it sounds like the big mistake was forcing Wisconsinites to vote in a type of election that offended their sense of sense of political propriety and fairness.

That's an easy spin, especially for political insiders on both sides of the partisan aisle who have no taste for direct democracy.

Unfortunately for those who seek actual answers, it is wrong.

Or, to be more precise, the anti-recall sentiment was manufactured by a very smart, very effective and very expensive campaign by Governor Walker and his allies.

When the Wisconsin fight started, polls suggest, recalls were popular. In fact, the recall process polled significantly better than any of Walker's prospective opponents -- including his eventual challenger, Barrett, and the preferred challenger of many Democrats, former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold.

A St. Norbert College/Wisconsin Public Radio poll of Wisconsin voters, conducted in early November as United Wisconsin's people-powered petition drive to force the recall elections was being launched, asked if voters supported using the recall to remove Walker from office. Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed said "yes," while 38 percent rejected the use of the recall to remove the governor. (Notably, President Obama's reelect number in that polls was exactly the same as it was in June 5 exit polling -- 51 percent -- suggesting that this was not an anomalous group of electors.)

In January of 2012, when the recall petitions were filed, the Marquette University Law School Poll asked Wisconsin voters: "Regardless of how you would vote if a recall election were held, do you think the recall process should be changed to allow recalls only in cases of criminal wrongdoing, or should it be kept as it is currently with no such restrictions?"

The answer: 53 percent of those surveyed said the recall provision should be "kept as it is currently with no such restrictions," while just 43 percent said recalls should be allowed "only in cases of criminal wrongdoing."

What changed over the ensuing months?

The Walker campaign and its political allies spent millions of dollars on an aggressive television and direct mail advertising campaign that said "End the Recall Madness." Ads aired statewide featured Wisconsinites saying the recall was "not the Wisconsin way," and that Wisconsin was seeing "millions of dollars spent on a recall that I don't believe is going to solve a problem at all." The ads actually featured people -- who were presumably planning to vote in the recall -- griping that recalls "diminish the value of a vote" and that with recalls "your vote really doesn't count."

"Wisconsin agrees," concluded a pro-Walker ad from the Coalition for American Values. "This recall isn't right."

That shadowy Virginia-based group spent at least $300,000 in the final days of the campaign to air those ads. (In fact, the figure could be significantly higher, as the "coalition" is a so-called "dark money" group that announces on its website: "Coalition for American Values is registered with the Federal Election Commission as an independent expenditure committee. Accordingly, we may accept unlimited contributions from individuals, corporations, and other organizations. Your contribution is not subject to FEC limits.")

But the "coalition" spending represented only the beginning of the specifically anti-recall spending in Wisconsin. The Tea Party Express project aired ads that associated the term "recall" with "harassment" and "intimidation" declared: "Things have gone too far."

Walker's $35 million campaign began with a multi-million ad buy that described recalls as "sour grapes" and finished with the message: "Progress: Yes. Recall: No."

In addition to the ads, and a $5 million direct-mail push, the governor used dozens of appearances on television programs to drive home the anti-recall theme: "A minority of voters will get to force a new election in Wisconsin... costing millions of dollars to the taxpayers this spring," Walker griped during a CNBC appearance last November. That appearance also saw him suggest he would win "because every week, every day, every week, every month that goes by, our numbers get better because our story gets out."

That's exactly what happened.

Scott Walker ran hard against Tom Barrett and the Democrats, but he ran harder against the recall. That moved numbers -- as the governor suggested would be the case. But while Democrats and unions defended Barrett, they never mounted a parallel campaign to argue the merits of the the recall as an accountability tool. The decision of Democratic strategists to run a predictable "nationalized" campaign, with a predictable combination of soft messaging on issues and slashing attacks on the incumbent, lost sight of the essential message of the movement: "This is what democracy looks like." The failure to explain and defend direct democracy -- recals, referendums and initiatives, as imagined and implemented by the progressives of a century ago -- allowed the Walker camp and its allies to redefine recalls as somehow anti-democratic.

So it was that an electorate that favored Wisconsin's recall rules by wide margins at the start of the campaign ended up opposing the process at the end. Give Walker credit. He was smart enough to run against not just his declared opponent but the process itself. But don't miss the point that his early and effective advertising campaign went unanswered, and that this failure played a huge role in preserving the governor's position.

To think otherwise is to imagine that campaign messaging and money have no meaning. In fact, money and messaging has huge meaning.

No one seriously questions that Walker won the money campaign -- his campaign had a 7-1 advantage over Barrett's at the close of the campaign. But the more important victory for Walker was the messaging one. By spending heavily to shift sentiments against the recall process, he created a political dynamic that favored him when the actual recall vote rolled around. And when his opponents failed to counter the anti-recall campaign, they ceded the essential framing of the race to the governor.
(c) 2012 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His new book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, has just been publshed by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

In The Name Of My Father, Part Two
In the shadow of the corporate state madhouse
By Phil Rockstroh

My parents modest, single-level, brick home stands on property that was once part of a sprawling estate owned by the Candler family, Atlanta's Coca-Cola patricians. Built during the post-war, 1950s building boom, the small house is situated in a deep ravine that once served as the grounds of the Candler's private zoo. On the hilltop above, the point of highest elevation in the Atlanta metro area, the Candler family, in the tradition of the powerful and elite, laid claim to the highest ground.

In the 1960s, and apropos to the era, in an odd twist of historical circumstance, the grounds of the estate -- earlier endowed to the state of Georgia by the heirs of the Candler fortune -- were appropriated for development as a state mental health institution, a sprawling complex of modernist structures, housing those committed for treatment for issues related to psychological disorders.

Emblematic of the decade of the 1960s, the highest ground in the city became the site of a madhouse. Aptly, as opposed to emanating from its traditional source i.e., insular precincts of privilege and power, in the 1960s, spontaneous upwellings of cultural madness were more egalitarian in nature...seemingly, a development that the corporate and governmental elite found so troubling that they swore that they would never again abide similar types of cultural phenomenon--instigated by underling upstarts who (apparently) forgot their social station--to rise unfettered. Consequently, the swift and brutal repression the Occupy Wall Street movement has endured in its struggle against the present structures of calcified psychopathology known as the corporate state.

Yet, cultures must allow for creative chaos. Otherwise, stultifying social structures tend to engender a sense of powerlessness among the populace, creating a pervasive sense of nebulous unease. Repression creates outbreaks of hysteria, because the source of demeaning power cannot be confronted directly without prohibitive consequences. From witch burnings, to public lynching, to xenophobic fears of immigrants, to the bullying of homosexuals and social outcasts -- depression-mitigating misapplication of misdirected, public rage has been inflicted on unpopular groups and social outcasts. The larger the degree of social stratification and economic inequality in a given society the more noxious the displaced anger becomes, as economic-engendered resentments and group rivalries provide the fuel for flames of pent-up aggression.

Often, the animus is internalized within the psyches of the official operatives of the state (e.g., police and soldiers) who are given carte blanche to harass and oppress minority groups, political dissidents, and enemies of the state, real and imagined. Thus the state, acting through its anonymous operatives, becomes a force of lawlessness...abducting, torturing, and killing sans sound reasoning and remorse...for all intents and purposes evincing the modus operandi of the criminally insane.

A lone, psychopathic killer views himself as a self-contained society of one; therefore, he feels accountable to no one outside of himself...He is a freelancer (a mirror image of the lawless state itself) who has assumed the murderous agency of state power. No wonder, we, as a people, so greatly exaggerate the danger these extreme cases pose to us on a collective basis -- no wonder we insist that the most punitive forms of punishment be inflicted upon individuals afflicted with these rare afflictions...that they be locked away in the most secure prisons and executed with utmost expediency...for if we gazed upon them for any length of time, we would notice affinities of mind and action -- their violent, reprehensible deeds are microcosmic representations of official state policy and cultural norms. Therefore, we clear these overt monsters from sight, lest we awaken to ourselves -- to the casual and mundane monstrosities required to adapt to this prison of the criminally insane we know as daily existence within late capitalist empire.

Here howls the chasm: Between the apparatus of the privileged and powerful, in place, to create false fears and those things that should be rightly feared. For example: being in possession a healthy fear of the damage wrought by the corporate media by their incessant promulgation of manufactured fears. Conversely, one should fear the harm resultant from the contrived fears perpetrated by ruthless political leaders and mercenary media figures...committed in the name of protecting the public at large from imaginary enemies.

This is not so much a problem of: fearing fear itself; rather, it is a matter of gaining a healthy fear of the overkill exacted when self-serving institutions use counterfeit fear as a means of preserving their power -- standard modus operandi when institutions, public and private, have lost legitimacy.

The overreactions and overkill of the national security police state are similar to that of a germaphobe (a sufferer of mysophobia) e.g., the forces of state power marshal overwhelming numbers of militarized riot police and recruit entrapment-happy undercover provocateurs against peaceful political dissenters. Yet: Obsessive hand washing deployed against imagined microscopic invaders will not serve to sooth the tormented mind of an individual seized with mysophobia, because, in reality, the problem is rooted in the psyche of the sufferer. The further one afflicted withdraws from the world...the larger his fears will loom. Isolation causes the mind to become a self-resonating feedback loop of self-referential fear (e.g., an encampment of peace resisters must be met with violent force to preserve the health of the state's social order).

Providentially, the most propitious treatment for OCD (of both the personal or institutional variety) is exposure to the very things the suffer fears most i.e., being induced to touch the surfaces that he imagines seethe with vile contagion. Conversely, an army of riot police and billions upon billions of dollar squandered on military hardware and state surveillance can never quell the terror within the isolated elite of a decaying culture.

The neoliberal state resembles Howard Hughes in his final days...shuffling the penthouse floors of a succession of resort area hotels ...muttering about microbes...his vast riches and security details offering no balm; his fear of human touch served as a self-issued death warrant. In a nondenominational Pentecost of redemptive paradox, the very thing that evoked such overwhelming fear in him...might have served as the very agency of his salvation.

My family's death vigil has come to an end. My father passed from this world early in morning of May 21...In the last few days of his life, he drifted between unconsciousness and excruciating pain. When he would rise to awareness, he would quake in agony, his bone-thin arms raised, grasping into empty air, imploring, "Help! Help"... futile pleas that proved to be the last words he uttered in this life. He died as he lived...a vivid presence, although inconsolable regarding what he deemed the implacably cruel nature of human life. At last, his pain has ceased. His flesh and bones will soon be rendered ash...almost weightless, his remains will be free to drift in air...released from his imprisoning pain.

I shuffle through memory; itself a dimension of imprisonment -- its confines circumscribed by fate and limited apprehension. I festoon the walls of my individual cell with fragments of imperfect remembrance. What was once flesh has been transmuted by time into shards and vapor.

You are now free, my father...but for the solitary confinement of my memory.

Not too long ago, I had a dream wherein I stood gazing over the atrium of a large complex of multi-story structures. Inadvertently, I dropped my "special" writing pen...It glinted silver as it spiraled down into the lobby, below the atrium, where it came to rest on the carpeted floor. I searched for a down stairway or an elevator in order to retrieve it, but discovered the only means of descent would entail having to make my way down the floors of a public hospital adjoining my present location.

The dream communicated to me -- as occurs, at times, in the lingua franca of the soul -- the tacit understanding that in order to regain possession of my writing instrument I would be required to view and chronicle much suffering (as well as healing) in the wards of the hospital...that I would be shirking my duty as a writer (I would lose the instrument of my art) if I avoided the task of looking upon affliction, recovery, madness, birth, and death.

This spring, upon my journey south, I have gazed upon suffering and death, as my father made his agonized exit from this keening sphere. My father -- who was a man of half Native America ancestry, brought by tragic circumstance to the Deep South of the U.S., to later marry a woman, my mother, a survivor of the blood-besotted madness of 20th Century Europe -- carried the wounds and evinced much of the madness of his times.

He imparted his wounds to me. I carry them with my own wounds -- those incurred by unavoidable circumstance and those that are self-inflicted.

As I trudge through the wards of the wounded and the restored, I will do my utmost to send out dispatches bearing my observations...From maternity ward to madhouse to morgue and all the precincts in between, I will attempt to chronicle what I witness...for to ignore the admonitions of one's soul and its dialog and dance with the Anima Mundi of one's time is to drift toward the tragic fate of...a life deferred.

I close this essay seated on an Amtrak train, trundling through the June night...Sleepless...A full moon skirts through ink-black clouds...the landscape visible in snatches of sheeted light and silhouette. Towns and cities drift past...Northward bound, Georgia recedes behind me...but memory holds fast.

At hospice, my father succumbed to death in a morphine-induced coma. Too heavily medicated to desire drink, he died of thirst...his face and body as gray as granite when the attendant from the mortuary service arrived to transport his corpse for rendering by the Cremation Society. When my father was seized with rage--a frequent occurrence throughout his life, and only diminished in the last stages of his protracted illness--his blood would rise, in an instant, from his chest to his face; his anger-contorted countenance would flush a deep, reddish brown...the color of steak gravy broiled out of raw beef when cooked at a high temperature.

Seemingly, the veritable thunder of an outraged god, his outbursts terrified me. Shortly after my fifth birthday, after being witness to a fit of my father's temper, I have a memory of slipping out the back door and coming upon a bed of fire ants that had erected an outpost of their larger colony against the concrete foundation of our small, brick apartment building in Birmingham, Alabama.

The insects seemed to me to be a seething mass of coruscating rage--and I answered their animus by kicking at their ranks with the tips of my high top Keds. The sight of their crushed bodies, frozen in death, affixed to the side of the wall, held me enthralled. The illusion of control seized me...momentarily mitigating the terror that my father's rage had instilled in me. Is this the mental architecture of sudden violence...murder...war?

In the seats around my own on this train, African American grandmothers are holding an impromptu confab on the subject of the sins of our age...The topic: A generation has been lost because the art of dispensing regular beatings for infractions, large and small, is in the process of being discarded by hapless parents. One proclaims, through a wizened grimace, "My father...took to hitting me all the time, and it never did me one bit of harm."

Sure thing, Granny...each blow served to move you closer to God in his Heaven.

I, myself, in a fit of righteous fury, sent a troop of fire ants his way when I was five.
(c) 2012 Phil Rockstroh, is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City. Visit Phil's website, and at FaceBook.

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Bill Schorr ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Ann Romney says that, around the house, her husband is actually a deeply moral individual.

Ann Romney Says Husband Has Deeply Principled Side No One Ever Sees In Public

LA JOLLA, CA-Ann Romney, wife of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, said Monday that despite her husband's public image as a shameless opportunist with no convictions whatsoever, in private he displays a rare principled side that most people never get to see.

In a casual conversation with reporters at the couple's oceanfront home in California, Romney said her husband's many months on the campaign trail had caused some voters to develop a distorted view of her longtime partner, who she said actually possesses numerous core beliefs and ethical values when relaxing in the company of close friends and family.

"Sure, on TV, Mitt might seem like a shameless opportunist who stands for absolutely nothing, but at home he's actually just an ordinary guy with a decent sense of morality," Romney said of her partner of 43 years. "I've known this man almost my whole life, and I can tell you that, off camera, there are just so many things he cares about in a completely non-politically-motivated way."

"I realize in debates and interviews he comes off as this completely amoral corporatist who couldn't be more out of touch with average Americans-heck, sometimes even I roll my eyes," Romney continued with a chuckle. "But when he's out of the spotlight and just hanging out with me or his grandkids, enjoying the weekend, you'd be amazed. To us, he's just regular old person-with-genuine-moral-convictions Mitt."

Romney told reporters she has repeatedly urged her husband to "loosen up" and give voters a glimpse of the integrity she sees every single day. But despite her best efforts, she said, she still has some work to do.

"I tell him, 'Everyone thinks you're a shallow and merciless prick with no real center and no interest in anything other than using other people's money to make money for yourself,'" said Romney, adding that just throwing in an offhand principled stance during an interview could do wonders for him. "But, in the end, I guess he is who he is. You're just going to have to believe me when I say that the fuddy-duddy in the suit you see pandering to absolutely anyone to win an election is pretty much nonstop commitment to heartfelt, conscientious ideals around the house."

"I just wish your readers could sit at our dinner table," Romney added. "Then you'd see the Mitt who's really concerned about the health care system, immigration reform, and the stagnant economy. That's my Mitt."

When reached for comment by reporters, Mitt Romney smiled uncomfortably and said, "Boy, my wife's a remarkable woman, isn't she?"
(c) 2012 The Onion

The Gross National Debt

Iraq Deaths Estimator

The Animal Rescue Site

View my page on

Issues & Alibis Vol 12 # 24 (c) 06/15/2012

Issues & Alibis is published in America every Friday. We are not affiliated with, nor do we accept funds from any political party. We are a non-profit group that is dedicated to the restoration of the American Republic. All views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily the views of Issues & Alibis.Org.

In regards to copying anything from this site remember that everything here is copyrighted. Issues & Alibis has been given permission to publish everything on this site. When this isn't possible we rely on the "Fair Use" copyright law provisions. If you copy anything from this site to reprint make sure that you do too. We ask that you get our permission to reprint anything from this site and that you provide a link back to us. Here is the "Fair Use" provision.

"Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.

In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include:

(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors."