Issues & Alibis

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In This Edition

Paul Craig Roberts asks, "Are the Iranian Election Protests Another US Orchestrated 'Color Revolution'?"

Uri Avnery wonders, "When He Says Yes - What Does He Mean?"

Mike Wrathell exclaims, "Free Iran!"

Jim Hightower says, "Wall Street Is Robbing Us At The Gas Pump."

Ted Rall concludes, "Half Healthcare, 100% Dead."

Amy Goodman studies, "Free Speech vs. Surveillance In The Digital Age."

Paul Krugman explores, "The Great Illusion."

Chris Floyd follows, "Dexter's Legions."

Case Wagenvoord finds that, "The Freedom Of Choice That Isn't Very Free When You Get Right Down To It."

Mike Folkerth studies, "Capitalism Lite."

Chris Hedges recalls that, "Iran Had a Democracy Before We Took It Away."

Robert Scheer is having second thoughts about Obama in, "Foreclosure Fiasco."

Republican Con-gressman Mark Kirk wins the coveted "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Glenn Greenwald receives, "Email From John Harris."

Joel S. Hirschhorn warns that there is, "No Reason To Favor Private Health Insurers."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department 'The Landover Baptist Church' reviews, "Disney PIXAR's, "Up" but first Uncle Ernie sez, "The War Is Here To Stay."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Pat Bagley, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Ruben Bolling, The Heretik, Hurwitt, Internet Weekly.Org, M.C. Escher, Mike Wrathell, Lalo Alcaraz, Ingrid Rice, Showtime, U.S. Army, NBC, Issues & Alibis.Org and Pink & Blue Films.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

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

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

The War Is Here To Stay
By Ernest Stewart

Hurray I awake from yesterday,
Alive but the war is here to stay.
1983 ~~~ Jimi Hendrix

"And when I say "all," I mean everyone - young and old, from every background, all across the country."
~~~ President Barack Obama ~~~

"I could digress and say that you have the ability to give magnificently gentle kisses, or that I love your tan lines or that I love the curves of your hips, the erotic beauty of you holding yourself (or two magnificent parts of yourself) in the faded glow of night's light - but hey, that would be going into the sexual details we spoke of at the steakhouse at dinner - and unlike you I would never do that!"
~~~ Mark Sanford to his Argentine lover Maria ~~~

I see that the war in Afghanistan will soon be over! After all the Changeling has sent in the Marines and I'm sure that already the "situation is well in hand!" They'll soon do to the Afghanis what they've already done to the Iraqis, i.e., blow everyone into tiny bits in order to save them from themselves!

I remember as a lad in the U.S. Army meeting my first "sea going bellhop" and his "thousand mile stare!" They called it that in those days (a thousand mile stare) although today most would say that "his lights were on but there was nobody home!" Unfortunately for the Afghanis Barry has sent thousands of these automatons into the south and they are spreading out and are attacking everything that moves.

Add to them our junior birdmen who are bombing everything that hasn't already been bombed to dust (and some things that have) from Kabul to Lahore and we have another example of Barry doing just the opposite of what the public elected him to do! You remember that was to end the wars and prosecute the "Crime Family Bush." Our latest trend is first to bomb some village, school, or day care, then wait 'til they bury the dead and bomb the funeral! I guess that's to keep the relatives of the recently dead from joining the resistance? You really have to admire those Pentgoon planners. NOT!

Barry, assured the Egyptians the other day that we're not making war on Islam just on Islamic countries. Look out Iran! If our CIA backed "green revolution" doesn't overthrow the elected government of Iran, we'll send in our Israeli lackeys to nuke a few Iranian cities into a radioactive dust that will settle over our good friends the Indians. I hope that New Delhi can take a little joke, don't you?

But all you tree hugging, pinko, anti-war types take heart as, at the rate we are going, we'll soon have to end the wars because we're several steps beyond bankrupt! So when the Chinese, Russian, and British call in their markers and the DOW hits 100 we'll be bringing the troops back home. Of course, they may have to hitch hike to get back but back they will come just in time to round us all up for the work camps, er, "Happy Camps!" Don't you just love change, America?

In Other News

Speaking of change I got this letter from Barry the other day...

Dear Friend,

Last week, I announced United We Serve - a nationwide call to service challenging you and all Americans to "volunteer" this summer and be part of building a new foundation for America.

And when I say "all," I mean everyone - young and old, from every background, all across the country. We need individuals, community organizations, corporations, foundations, and our government to be part of this effort.

Today, for the official kick off of United We Serve, members of my administration have fanned out across America to participate in service events and encourage all Americans to join them.

The First Lady is rolling up her sleeves and getting to work too. But before she headed out today, she asked me to share this message with you.

A Message from the First Lady...

Our nation faces some of the greatest challenges it has in generations and we know it's going to take a lot of hard work to get us back on track.

While Michelle and I are calling on every American to participate in United We Serve, the call to service doesn't end this fall. We need to stay involved in our towns and communities for a long time to come. After all, America's new foundation will be built one neighborhood at a time - and that starts with you.

Thank you,
President Barack Obama

Yippee, I guess we've all been drafted into the "Brown Shirts", or will be if we don't volunteer! Ya'll remember what happened to the Brown Shirts when they weren't needed any more? 1984 has finally arrived, 35 years late but better late than never, huh?

And Finally

We're getting ready to move from our digs here in Trinity, South Carolina and I can't really say I'm going to miss it all that much, with one possible exception. That exception being the Looney Tune adventures of South Carolina's governor, Mark Sanford. If you thought Sarah Palin was cuckoo you ain't seen nothing yet, folks!

If you don't know who Sanford is? He's like a cross between Jerry Lewis on acid and Adolph Hitler, i.e., he's a bad joke. Sanford, you may recall, refused $700,000,000.00 from the stimulus fund to get things going in this chronically depressed state where unemployment is running neck and neck with California and 38 of the state's schools are among the very worst in the nation. When asked why we wouldn't take the money, Mark compared supporters of the stimulus package to Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe. You're saying that Mark and that statement makes no sense? Well, Duh! Do you see what I'm on about?

The Republicans who control the state legislature have revolted against Mark on many occasions and overrode his veto on the stimulus package. That sent Mark off in a tizzy.

Mark disappeared the other day without telling anyone where he was going which left the state leaderless (in this case not a bad thing) and ran off to Argentina. Mark first said that he went to Buenos Aires to drive the costal highway. Trying to drive along the coast could frustrate a visitor to Argentina. In Buenos Aires, the Avenida Costanera is the only coastal road, and it's less than two miles long; not something, that would take up a week's time!

His disappearance caused much anxiety amongst the politicians and much laughter and speculation amongst the populace. He told his office he was going to hike the Appalachian Trail but his car was found at the Atlanta airport causing many to think he was off to Argentina to hit on a few cocktail waitresses as his wife and family hadn't a clue where he was. When he returned Mark finally admitted what we thought to be true all along, that he was having an affair with an Argentinian, the surprise was that it was a lady and not the traditional Republican male prostitute. Apparently, Mark rejected Obama's stimulus package as he had one of his own! After his announcement, Mark resigned as president of the Republican Governors Association. This is a bit confusing to this reporter because to my way of thinking this makes him the perfect choice to head the Republican Governors Association! I mean, doesn't it? Whether or not he can hang on to the South Carolina governorship remains to be seen, especially as he apparently used tax payer monies for his trip!

Yes, we'll no doubt miss the antics of Mark when we're gone, so I'll just close with... "Don't Cry for Mark, Argentina!"


We don't sell our readers new cars, fancy homes or designer clothes. We don't advocate consumerism nor do we offer facile solutions to serious problems. We do, however, bring together every week writers and activists who are not afraid to speak the truth about our country and our world. The articles we print are not for the faint of heart.

As access to accurate information becomes more difficult and free speech and the exchange of ideas becomes more restricted and controlled, small publications and alternative presses disappear. Issues and Alibis may soon join that list.

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Ernest & Victoria Stewart


08-15-1982 ~~~ 06-20-2009
Viva the revolution!

03-06-1923 ~~~ 06-23-2009

02-02-1947 ~~~ 06-25-2009
Bye bye baby!

08-29-1958 ~~~ 06-25-2009
Burn baby Burn!


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


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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) 2009 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for the last 8 years managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. In his spare time he is an actor, writer and an associate producer for the new motion picture "W The Movie."

Are the Iranian Election Protests Another US Orchestrated 'Color Revolution'?
By Paul Craig Roberts

A number of commentators have expressed their idealistic belief in the purity of Mousavi, Montazeri, and the westernized youth of Terhan. The CIA destabilization plan, announced two years ago (see below) has somehow not contaminated unfolding events.

The claim is made that Ahmadinejad stole the election, because the outcome was declared too soon after the polls closed for all the votes to have been counted. However, Mousavi declared his victory several hours before the polls closed. This is classic CIA destabilization designed to discredit a contrary outcome. It forces an early declaration of the vote. The longer the time interval between the preemptive declaration of victory and the release of the vote tally, the longer Mousavi has to create the impression that the authorities are using the time to fix the vote. It is amazing that people don't see through this trick.

As for the grand ayatollah Montazeri's charge that the election was stolen, he was the initial choice to succeed Khomeini, but lost out to the current Supreme Leader. He sees in the protests an opportunity to settle the score with Khamenei. Montazeri has the incentive to challenge the election whether or not he is being manipulated by the CIA, which has a successful history of manipulating disgruntled politicians.

There is a power struggle among the ayatollahs. Many are aligned against Ahmadinejad because he accuses them of corruption, thus playing to the Iranian countryside where Iranians believe the ayatollahs' lifestyles indicate an excess of power and money. In my opinion, Ahmadinejad's attack on the ayatollahs is opportunistic. However, it does make it odd for his American detractors to say he is a conservative reactionary lined up with the ayatollahs.

Commenators are "explaining" the Iran elections based on their own illusions, delusions, emotions, and vested interests. Whether or not the poll results predicting Ahmadinejad's win are sound, there is, so far, no evidence beyond surmise that the election was stolen. However, there are credible reports that the CIA has been working for two years to destabilize the Iranian government.

On May 23, 2007, Brian Ross and Richard Esposito reported on ABC News: "The CIA has received secret presidential approval to mount a covert "black" operation to destabilize the Iranian government, current and former officials in the intelligence community tell ABC News."

On May 27, 2007, the London Telegraph independently reported: "Mr. Bush has signed an official document endorsing CIA plans for a propaganda and disinformation campaign intended to destabilize, and eventually topple, the theocratic rule of the mullahs."

A few days previously, the Telegraph reported on May 16, 2007, that Bush administration neocon warmonger John Bolton told the Telegraph that a US military attack on Iran would "be a 'last option' after economic sanctions and attempts to foment a popular revolution had failed."

On June 29, 2008, Seymour Hersh reported in the New Yorker: "Late last year, Congress agreed to a request from President Bush to fund a major escalation of covert operations against Iran, according to current and former military, intelligence, and congressional sources. These operations, for which the President sought up to four hundred million dollars, were described in a Presidential Finding signed by Bush, and are designed to destabilize the country's religious leadership."

The protests in Tehran no doubt have many sincere participants. The protests also have the hallmarks of the CIA orchestrated protests in Georgia and Ukraine. It requires total blindness not to see this.

Daniel McAdams has made some telling points. For example, neoconservative Kenneth Timmerman wrote the day before the election that "there's talk of a 'green revolution' in Tehran." How would Timmerman know that unless it was an orchestrated plan? Why would there be a 'green revolution' prepared prior to the vote, especially if Mousavi and his supporters were as confident of victory as they claim? This looks like definite evidence that the US is involved in the election protests.

Timmerman goes on to write that "the National Endowment for Democracy has spent millions of dollars promoting 'color' revolutions . . . Some of that money appears to have made it into the hands of pro-Mousavi groups, who have ties to non-governmental organizations outside Iran that the National Endowment for Democracy funds." Timmerman's own neocon Foundation for Democracy is "a private, non-profit organization established in 1995 with grants from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), to promote democracy and internationally-recognized standards of human rights in Iran."
(c) 2009 Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury and 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.

When He Says Yes - What Does He Mean?
By Uri Avnery

"YOU MUST be celebrating," the interviewer from a popular radio station told me after Netanyahu's speech. "After all, he is accepting the plan which you proposed 42 years ago!" (Actually it was 60 years ago, but who is counting?)

The front page of Haaretz carried an article by Gideon Levy, in which he wrote that "the courageous call of Uri Avnery and his friends four decades ago is now being echoed, though feebly, from end to end (of the Israeli political spectrum)."

I would be lying if I denied feeling a brief glow of satisfaction, but it faded quickly. This was no "historic" speech, not even a "great" speech. It was a clever speech.

It contained some sanctimonious verbiage to appease Barack Obama, followed right away by the opposite, to pacify the Israeli extreme right. Not much more.

NETANYAHU DECLARED that "our hand is extended for peace."

In my ears, that rang a bell: in the 1956 Sinai war, a member of my editorial staff was attached to the brigade that conquered Sharm-al-Sheikh. Since he had grown up in Egypt, he interviewed the senior captured Egyptian officer, a colonel. "Every time David Ben-Gurion announced that his hand was stretched out for peace," the Egyptian told him, "we were put on high alert."

And indeed, that was Ben-Gurion's method. Before every provocation he would declare that "our hands are extended for peace," adding conditions that he knew were totally unacceptable to the other side. Thus an ideal situation (for him) was created: The world saw Israel as a peace-loving country, while the Arabs looked like serial peace-killers. Our secret weapon is the Arab refusal, it used to be joked in Jerusalem at the time.

This week, Netanyahu wheeled out the same old trick.

I DO NOT underrate, of course, the significance of the chief of the Likud uttering the two words: "Palestinian state."

Words carry political weight. Once released into the world, they have a life of their own. Unlike dogs, they cannot be called back.

In a popular Israeli love song, the boy asks the girl: "When you say no, what do you mean?" One could well ask: When Netanyahu says yes, what does he mean?

But even if the words "Palestinian state" passed his lips only under duress, and when Netanyahu has no intention at all of turning them into reality, it is still important that the head of the government and the chief of the Likud was compelled to utter them. The idea of the Palestinian state has now become a part of the national consensus, and only a handful of ultra-rightists reject it directly. But this is only the beginning. The main struggle will be about turning the idea into reality.

THE ENTIRE speech was addressed to one single person: Barack Obama. It was not designed to appeal to the Palestinians. It was quite clear that the Palestinians are only the passive object of a discussion between the President of the USA and the Prime Minister of Israel. Except in some tired old clichés, Netanyahu spoke about them, not to them.

He is ready, so he says, to conduct negotiations with the "Palestinian community," and that, of course, "without preconditions". Meaning: without Palestinian preconditions. On Netanyahu's part, there are plenty of preconditions, every one of which is designed to make certain that no Palestinian, no Arab and indeed no Muslim will agree to enter negotiations.

Condition 1: The Arabs have to recognize Israel as "the nation-state of the Jewish people" (and not just "a Jewish state," as many in the media erroneously reported.) As Hosny Mubarak has already answered: No Arab will accept this, because it would mean that 1.5 million Arab citizens of Israel are cut off from the state, and because it would deny in advance the Right of Return of the Palestinian refugees - the main bargaining chip of the Arab side.

It should be remembered that when the United Nations resolved in 1947 to partition Palestine between a "Jewish state" and an "Arab state," they did not mean to define the character of the states. They were just stating facts: there are two mutually hostile populations in the country, and therefore the country has to be divided between them. (Anyhow, 40% of the population of the "Jewish" state was to consist of Arabs.)

Condition 2: The Palestinian Authority must first of all establish its rule over the Gaza Strip. How? After all, the Israeli government prevents travel between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and no Palestinian force can pass from one to the other. And the solution of the problem by establishing a Palestinian unity government is also ruled out: Netanyahu flatly declared that there would be no negotiations with a Palestinian leadership that includes "terrorists who want to annihilate us" - his way of referring to Hamas.

Condition 3: The Palestinian state will be demilitarized. This is not a new idea. All peace plans that have been put forward up to now speak about security arrangements that would protect Israel from Palestinian attacks and Palestine from Israeli attacks. But that is not what Netanyahu has in mind: he did not speak about mutuality, but about domination. Israel would control the air space and the border crossings of the Palestinian state, turning it into a kind of giant Gaza Strip. Also, Netanyahu's style was deliberately overbearing and humiliating: he obviously hopes that the word 'demilitarized" would be enough to get the Palestinians to say "no."

Condition 4: Undivided Jerusalem will remain under Israeli rule. This was not proposed as an opening gambit for negotiations but presented as a final decision. That by itself ensures that no Palestinian, nor any Arab or even any Muslim, could accept the proposal.

In the Oslo Agreement, Israel undertook to negotiate about the future of Jerusalem. It is an accepted legal rule that if one undertakes to negotiate, one accepts to do so bona fide, on the basis of give and take. Therefore, all peace plans provide that East Jerusalem - wholly or partly - will be returned to Arab rule.

Condition 5: Between Israel and the Palestinian state there will be "defensible borders." These are code-words for extensive annexations by Israel. Their meaning: no return to the 1967 borders, not even with a swap of territory that would allow for some of the large settlements to be joined to Israel. In order to create "defensible borders," a major part of the occupied Palestinian territories (which altogether make up just 22% of pre-1948 Palestine) will be absorbed into Israel.

Condition 6: The refugee problem will be solved "outside the territory of Israel". Meaning: not a single refugee will be allowed to return. True, all realistic people agree that there can be no return of millions of refugees. According to the Arab peace initiative, the solution must be "mutually agreed" - which means that Israel has to agree to any solution. The assumption is that the two parties will agree on the return of a symbolic number. This is a highly charged and sensitive matter, which must be treated with prudence and the utmost sensitivity. Netanyahu does the opposite: his provocative statement, devoid of all empathy, is clearly designed to bring about an automatic refusal.

Condition 7: No settlement freeze. The "normal life" of the settlers will continue. Meaning: the building activity for the "natural increase" will go on. This illustrates the saying of Michael Tarazy, a legal advisor to the PLO: "We are negotiating about sharing a pizza, and in the meantime Israel is eating it."

All this was in the speech. No less interesting is what was not in it. For example, the words: Road Map. Annapolis. Palestine. The Arab peace plan. Occupation. Palestinian Sovereignty. Opening of the Gaza Strip border crossings. Golan Heights. And, even more important: there was not a hint of respect for the enemy who must be turned into a friend, in the words of the ancient Jewish saying.

SO WHAT is more important? The verbal recognition of "a Palestinian state" or the conditions which empty these words of all content?

The public response is interesting. In an opinion poll taken immediately after the speech, 71% supported it, but 55% believed that Netanyahu just "gave in to American pressure", and 70% did not believe that a Palestinian state would really come about during the next few years.

What exactly do the 71% support? The "Palestinian state" solution or the conditions which obstruct its implementation - or both?

There is, of course, an extreme right-wing minority which prefers a head-on collision with the United States to giving up any territory between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. Along the road to Jerusalem one can see large posters showing a manipulated photo of Obama wearing an Arab headdress. (It sends a shiver down the spine, because it reminds us of seeing exactly the same poster with Yitzhak Rabin under the keffiyeh.) But the great majority of the people understand that a break with the US must be avoided at all costs.

Netanyahu and the right-wing hoped that the Palestinians would reject his words outright, thus painting themselves as serial peace refusers, while the Israeli government would be seen as taking the first small but significant step towards peace. They are sure that this could be achieved for nothing: the Palestinian state will not be set up, the Israeli government will not give up anything, the occupation will remain, settlement activity will go on and Obama will accept all this.

SO THE main question is: how will Obama react?

The first reaction was minor. A politely positive response.

Obama is not seeking a frontal collision with the Israeli government. It seems that he wants to exert "soft" pressure, vigorously but quietly. To my mind, that is a wise approach.

A few hours before the speech, I met with ex-President Jimmy Carter. The meeting took place at the American Colony hotel in East Jerusalem. It was organized by Gush Shalom, with several other Israeli peace organizations taking part. In my opening remarks, I pointed out that we were in exactly the same room where 16 years ago, while the Oslo agreement was being signed in Washington, Israeli peace activists and the leaders of the Palestinian population in Jerusalem met and opened bottles of champagne. The euphoria of those moments has disappeared without leaving a trace.

Israelis and Palestinians have lost hope. On both sides, the overwhelming majority wants an end to the conflict but do not believe that peace is possible - and each side blames the other. Our task is to rekindle the belief that it is indeed possible.

For this there is a need for a dramatic event, a kind of invigorating electric shock - like the historic visit of Anwar Sadat to Jerusalem in 1977. I suggested that Obama should come to Jerusalem and speak directly to the Israeli public, perhaps even from the Knesset rostrum, like Sadat.

After listening intently to the participants, the former President encouraged us in our activities and put forward some proposals of his own.

THE DECISIVE point at this moment is, of course, the matter of the settlements. Will Obama insist on a total freeze of all building activity or not?

Netanyahu hopes to wriggle out of it. He has now found a new gimmick: projects that have already started must be allowed to be finished. One cannot stop them in the middle. The plans have already been approved. The tenants are waiting for their apartments, and they must not be made to suffer. The Supreme Court will not allow a freeze. (A particularly ridiculous argument, like the court allowing a thief to spend some more of the money he has stolen before passing sentence.)

If Obama falls for this, he should not be surprised to find out belatedly that these projects include 100,000 new housing units.

This brings us to the most important fact of this week: the settlers did not raise hell after Netanyahu's speech. On the contrary. Here and there some feeble criticism could be heard, but the large and armed settler population kept remarkably quiet.

Which brings us back to the unforgettable Sherlock Holmes, who explained how he solved one of his mysteries by drawing attention to "the curious incident of the dog in the night-time."

"But the dog did nothing in the night-time!" someone objected.

"That was the curious incident," remarked Holmes.
(c) 2009 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Free Iran!
Mir Hossein Mousavi Supporters Inspire The World!
By Mike Wrathell

I am writing this in red ink. It was the first good pen I could find in my house--a brand-new Bic--made in France: land of the French Revolution, inspired by our own American Revolution. I know I should maybe be writing it in green ink as that is the peoples' color of The Iranian Uprising, but the red to me symbolizes the blood of the nineteen dead and counting....

The people of Iran rising up against a "man-flawed" election (as our professorial, pretentious President Obama might call it) have inspired the world, and, on a more personal note, me.

Using Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace, the irony is thicker than molasses on a cold day in Kerman. Though our president Twitters freely on his Blackberry, and no play is banned when he jets to Broadway with his elegant wife, perhaps sitting in on a taping of Letterman first, then dinner at "Butter," the America Obama describes to the world is a meddling force of evil, not the bastion of freedom for millions of people for over 200 years. Are people coming in amber waves to Iran, or China, or Pakistan, or Mexico to experience the thrill of freedom for the first time? No!

Now, Iran has taken the mantle as the world leader for freedom lovers away from the USA, oddly enough. The Iranian people are not afraid, not timid baby barnyard owls too cowed to Tweet!

Where is the "but?" We saw the "butt" when Obama bowed to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, but when he said he did not want to interfere in Iran, alluding to our perceived installation of the Shah in 1953, he could have shown an iota of the bravery that defines real Americans by saying, "but, we certainly condemn the killing of election protesters and are deeply inspired along with the rest of the world by the spontaneous uprising in Tehran." But, he was chicken.

Only after nineteen more were killed did he say anything mildly strong. Then, after being lambasted by Senator McCain, and a full week after President Sarkozy of France denounced the election as "fraudulent," did our messianic President use the word "appalling" to describe the government violence against the protesters. Then, he added, "We are watching." Big Brother watches, Barack. What about SUPPORTING the protesters, not just watching them die on YouTube, like the angelic Neda Agha-Soltan who has become the greatest martyr of the Uprising? Archie Bunker watches teevy. A President is supposed to lead and support, not watch and eat popcorn, and throw out the word "appalling" in his best monotone a week after the blood in the streets of Tehran is knee-high. But, the Iranians don't need the self-appointed messianic Obama to be inspired by America: there is Thomas Paine, Patrick Henry, Martin Luther King, Iggy Pop, and Twitter!

When I took a year off after my freshman year at The University of Michigan--Ann Arbor and lived in Los Angeles for a year, I worked with some nice pro-Shah Iranians at Jack-in-the-Box, my last job in L.A. before coming home to complete my bachelor's degree.

I remember one Iranian lady in particular there. She assured me she was pro-Shah and, by implication, "one of the good non-America-hating" Iranians. I don't mind if the Iranians don't like the Shah, mind you, for he had some major faults, but at the time, there was a lot of hate for America in Iran that was disturbing and The Hostage Crisis was just over a few months back. And America felt the same towards Iran. 1981. In the early days of Reagan, just after he got shot.

One night at the Jack-in-the-Box on Van Nuys Boulevard, I spied a dalmatian dog rummaging for food by the dumpster in the corner of the parking lot. His ribs were showing badly. I went into the walk-in fridge in the store and dug out an old Jumbo Jack from a white pickle bucket for unsold product. "The Waste Bucket" that managers eventually have to count the items in. I unwrapped it, went out back, and gave it to the dog. He loved it. I got him another old cold Jumbo Jack, and he gobbled it up faster than Paris Hilton can Tweet about her new B/F or BFF.

I looked the Iranian lady, who was shift manager that graveyard shift, pleadingly in the eye and told her I would pay for the two Jumbo Jack burgers. She told me firmly and reassuringly that I needn't pay for them. She was cool. I had always liked her and she was always nice to me. I gave the dog one more Jumbo Jack. He ate that one, too. Three all told.

I got off work at 6 a.m. and took the dog to the bus stop. I had to walk him by the scruff of the neck. A city bus pulled up and refused us entry. I walked four miles home with the dog. My landlady only let me keep the dog overnight and L.A. Animal Control picked him up in the morning. He was such a happy dog that morning. I hope he found a home. But at least he had the love of an American boy and an Iranian girl before he was gassed, if such was his horrid fate.

We all need to give love and support each other. We cannot sit back and watch people or animals starve and cry out for freedom in silence and inaction.

Shame on you, President Obama, for your continuation of The Apology Tour from The White House! And shame on your Press Secretary Robert Gibbs for saying the murder of 8 protesters was "debate." Eight is debate? Where did you find this guy? Oh, wait, you have used the word "debate," too....2012 is not that far off, do you want us to send you packing to Mombasa? You better shape up, or we might ship you out; watch out for those pirates on your way home! Iranians, free yourselves from your repressive regime! Ordinary Americans and the entire world support and love you for rising up and showing us what human beings are capable of when they feel the call of freedom! As our not-so-beloved President Bush once said, "Freedom is not free!" The nineteen dead so far in Tehran paid the price willingly so that Iran can be free. Free Iran!
(c) 2009 Mike Wrathell. is an artist, attorney and a reporter for Issues & Alibis Magazine and America Jr. He is also an actor in the new motion picture "W." Write Mike @.

Wall Street Is Robbing Us At The Gas Pump

Like a 4th of July bottle rocket, our gasoline prices are shooting upward. However, tongue-clucking market analysts tell us there's nothing we can do about it, for it's simply the law of supply and demand in action - so suck it up, and pay up.

Supply and demand? The supply of crude oil has risen to its highest level in nearly two decades, even while the demand for gasoline is down dramatically, having fallen to a 10-year low. Supply up, demand down. That's a classic market formula for cheaper prices at the pump - yet they've risen by some 60 cents a gallon in the past two months alone.

We're being had by some brand-name dealers. Not Exxon, Chevron, etcetera - but such names as Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and other Wall Street dealers who place unregulated, speculative bets on the future price of oil. Sound vaguely familiar? Yes, this is the same so-called "dark market" of derivatives and swaps that led to the sub-prime mortgage crash, which then brought down Wall Street and crushed our economy. And, yes, these are the same banksters you and I are bailing out with trillions of our tax dollars.

Yet, here they go again. By pooling money from hedge funds and other large investors, speculators like Goldman and Morgan Stanley have been buying trillions-of-dollars-worth of "oil futures"- which essentially are bets that oil prices will rise to a certain price by a certain date. This massive influx of what amounts to gambling money totally distorts the real value of petroleum. As a CNBC energy analyst reports: "It's this money flow - rather than the fundamental supply-demand data - that's driving oil prices higher." Every dollar that these Wall Streeters bet on oil prices is a dollar they are not investing in our real economy. They stole from us on our mortgages, and now they're doing it on gasoline prices. When will Obama and Congress finally crack down on these thieves?
(c) 2009 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.

Half Healthcare, 100% Dead
By Ted Rall

TUCSON--Half measures are boring.

That political reality derailed Bill Clinton's 1993 healthcare reform plan. And it will likely unravel that of Barack Obama.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office finds that Obama's plan, sponsored by Senators Chris Dodd and Ted Kennedy, "would reduce the number of uninsured only by a net 16 million people. Even if the bill became law, the budget office said, 36 million people would remain uninsured in 2017," reported The New York Times. Yet it would cost at least $1 trillion over ten years.

Americans like Obama's basic idea: "Seventy-two percent of those questioned [in the latest Times/CBS News poll] supported a government-administered insurance plan--something like Medicare for those under 65--that would compete for customers with private insurers. Twenty percent said they were opposed." The support is broad. But it isn't deep.

"Pay higher taxes for a healthcare plan that probably won't help you personally, even if you're uninsured" isn't much of a sales pitch. No one is going to call their Congressman, much less march in the streets, to demand action for a half-measure--or, in this case, a quarter-measure. Without public pressure to push back against drug and insurance company lobbyists, nothing will change.

Like every mainstream Democrat since Jimmy Carter, Obama is a militant moderate, elevating triangulation and compromise-for-its-own-sake to the status of Holy Writ. But radical problems--and the state of healthcare in America surely qualifies--require radical solutions.

More than that, simplicity sells. French- or U.K.-style socialized medicine--everyone covered, every doctor's visit free, every pill free, every doctor a government employee--might indeed cost three times more than Obama's incomprehensibly vague, vaguely incomprehensible proposal. But it's easy to understand. Moreover, as James D. Miller notes in his book "Game Theory at Work," people crave certainty:

"What would you rather have: 1) $100,000 or 2) a 50 percent chance of getting $200,000 and a 50 percent chance of getting nothing? Both choices give you on average $100,000. The majority...would prefer the first choice: the sure thing. Most people dislike risk, which is why so many of us buy insurance."

When we can afford it.

When citizens evaluate a political proposal, the first thing they ask themselves is: what's in it for me? Thus the appeal of a gimmick like George W. Bush's $300 tax rebate checks. No one seriously believed they would stimulate the economy. But hey, three hundred bucks is three hundred bucks.

Right out of the gate, Obama's "public option" plan tells the public that there's probably only one thing in it for them: higher taxes. Most Americans do have insurance. They don't like their deny-deny-deny insurance companies, but there's nothing for them in the Obama-Dodd-Kennedy proposal. Some Democrats have even floated the idea of taxing health benefits!

At least 47 million Americans have no insurance. And that number is going up fast. But the CBO says only one of out of four of people without insurance would be helped by Obama's "public option." The rest would pay higher taxes--and still remain uninsured. Why should they get excited about The Return of Hillarycare?

There is no true middle ground on healthcare. The most civilized and efficient approach, tried and tested by the rest of the industrialized world, is fully socialized medicine. Put the insurance vampires out of business. Cutting out the health profiteers and encouraging preventative care will save hundreds of billions of dollars a year.

Failing a comprehensive solution, let the free market reign. True, 20,000 Americans will continue to die each year due to lack of insurance. But private healthcare corporations will continue to invest in innovative treatments and medications. The city of Hartford will keep adding shiny new skyscrapers to its skyline--and our taxes won't go even higher over this issue.

Obamacare offers the worst of both worlds--it would be expensive and inadequate.
(c) 2009 Ted Rall is the author of the new book "Silk Road to Ruin: Is Central Asia the New Middle East?" an in-depth prose and graphic novel analysis of America's next big foreign policy challenge.)

Free Speech vs. Surveillance In The Digital Age
By Amy Goodman

Tools of mass communication that were once the province of governments and corporations now fit in your pocket. Cell phones can capture video and send it wirelessly to the Internet. People can send eyewitness accounts, photos and videos, with a few keystrokes, to thousands or even millions via social networking sites. As these technologies have developed, so too has the ability to monitor, filter, censor and block them.

A Wall Street Journal report this week claimed that the "Iranian regime has developed, with the assistance of European telecommunications companies, one of the world's most sophisticated mechanisms for controlling and censoring the Internet, allowing it to examine the content of individual online communications on a massive scale." The article named Nokia Siemens Networks as the provider of equipment capable of "deep packet inspection." DPI, according to the Electronic Privacy Information Center, "enables Internet Service Providers to intercept virtually all of their customers' Internet activity, including Web surfing data, e-mail and peer-to-peer downloads."

Nokia Siemens has refuted the allegation, saying in a press release that the company "has provided Lawful Intercept capability solely for the monitoring of local voice calls in Iran." It is this issue, of what is legal, that must be addressed. "Lawful intercept" means that people can be monitored, located and censored. Global standards need to be adopted that protect the freedom to communicate, to dissent.

China has very sophisticated Internet monitoring and censoring capabilities, referred to as "the Great Firewall of China," which attracted increased attention prior to the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. A document leaked before a U.S. Senate human rights hearing implicated Cisco, a California-based maker of Internet routers, in marketing to the Chinese government to accommodate monitoring and censorship goals. The Chinese government now requires any computer sold there after July 1, 2009, to include software called "Green Dam," which critics say will further empower the government to monitor Internet use.

Josh Silver, executive director of Free Press, a media policy group, says the actions of Iran and China should alert us to domestic surveillance issues in the U.S. He told me: "This technology that monitors everything that goes through the Internet is something that works, it's readily available, and there's no legislation in the United States that prevents the U.S. government from employing it. ... It's widely known that the major carriers, particularly AT&T and Verizon, were being asked by the NSA [National Security Agency], by the Bush administration ... to deploy off-the-shelf technology made by some of these companies like Cisco." The equipment formed the backbone of the "warrantless wiretapping" program.

Thomas Tamm was the Justice Department lawyer who blew the whistle on that program. In 2004, he called The New York Times from a subway pay phone and told reporter Eric Lichtblau about the existence of a secret domestic surveillance program. In 2007, the FBI raided his home and seized three computers and personal files. He still faces possible prosecution.

Tamm told me: "I think I put my country first ... our government is still violating the law. I'm convinced ... that a lot more Americans have been illegally wiretapped than we know."

The warrantless wiretapping program was widely considered illegal. After abruptly switching his position in midcampaign, then-Sen. Barack Obama voted along with most in Congress to grant telecom companies like AT&T and Verizon retroactive immunity from prosecution. The New York Times recently reported that the NSA maintains a database called Pinwale, with millions of intercepted e-mail, including some from former President Bill Clinton.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was recently asked by Sen. Russ Feingold if he felt that the original warrantless wiretap program was illegal: Feingold: "[I]s there any doubt in your mind that the warrantless wiretapping program was illegal?" Holder: "Well, I think that the warrantless wiretapping program, as it existed at that point, was certainly unwise, in that it was put together without the approval of Congress."

Feingold: "But I asked you, Mr. Attorney General, not whether it was unwise, but whether you consider it to have been illegal."

Holder: "The policy was an unwise one."

Dissenters in Iran and China persist despite repression that is enabled in part by equipment from U.S. and European companies. In the U.S., the Obama administration is following a dangerous path with Bush-era spy programs that should be suspended and prosecuted, not extended and defended.
(c) 2009 Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!," a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 750 stations in North America. She is the co-author of "Standing Up to the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times," recently released in paperback.

The Great Illusion
By Paul Krugman

So far, the international economic consequences of the war in the Caucasus have been fairly minor, despite Georgia's role as a major corridor for oil shipments. But as I was reading the latest bad news, I found myself wondering whether this war is an omen - a sign that the second great age of globalization may share the fate of the first.

If you're wondering what I'm talking about, here's what you need to know: our grandfathers lived in a world of largely self-sufficient, inward-looking national economies - but our great-great grandfathers lived, as we do, in a world of large-scale international trade and investment, a world destroyed by nationalism.

Writing in 1919, the great British economist John Maynard Keynes described the world economy as it was on the eve of World War I. "The inhabitant of London could order by telephone, sipping his morning tea in bed, the various products of the whole earth ... he could at the same moment and by the same means adventure his wealth in the natural resources and new enterprises of any quarter of the world."

And Keynes's Londoner "regarded this state of affairs as normal, certain, and permanent, except in the direction of further improvement ... The projects and politics of militarism and imperialism, of racial and cultural rivalries, of monopolies, restrictions, and exclusion ... appeared to exercise almost no influence at all on the ordinary course of social and economic life, the internationalization of which was nearly complete in practice."

But then came three decades of war, revolution, political instability, depression and more war. By the end of World War II, the world was fragmented economically as well as politically. And it took a couple of generations to put it back together.

So, can things fall apart again? Yes, they can.

Consider how things have played out in the current food crisis. For years we were told that self-sufficiency was an outmoded concept, and that it was safe to rely on world markets for food supplies. But when the prices of wheat, rice and corn soared, Keynes's "projects and politics" of "restrictions and exclusion" made a comeback: many governments rushed to protect domestic consumers by banning or limiting exports, leaving food-importing countries in dire straits.

And now comes "militarism and imperialism." By itself, as I said, the war in Georgia isn't that big a deal economically. But it does mark the end of the Pax Americana - the era in which the United States more or less maintained a monopoly on the use of military force. And that raises some real questions about the future of globalization.

Most obviously, Europe's dependence on Russian energy, especially natural gas, now looks very dangerous - more dangerous, arguably, than its dependence on Middle Eastern oil. After all, Russia has already used gas as a weapon: in 2006, it cut off supplies to Ukraine amid a dispute over prices.

And if Russia is willing and able to use force to assert control over its self-declared sphere of influence, won't others do the same? Just think about the global economic disruption that would follow if China - which is about to surpass the United States as the world's largest manufacturing nation - were to forcibly assert its claim to Taiwan.

Some analysts tell us not to worry: global economic integration itself protects us against war, they argue, because successful trading economies won't risk their prosperity by engaging in military adventurism. But this, too, raises unpleasant historical memories.

Shortly before World War I another British author, Norman Angell, published a famous book titled "The Great Illusion," in which he argued that war had become obsolete, that in the modern industrial era even military victors lose far more than they gain. He was right - but wars kept happening anyway.

So are the foundations of the second global economy any more solid than those of the first? In some ways, yes. For example, war among the nations of Western Europe really does seem inconceivable now, not so much because of economic ties as because of shared democratic values.

Much of the world, however, including nations that play a key role in the global economy, doesn't share those values. Most of us have proceeded on the belief that, at least as far as economics goes, this doesn't matter - that we can count on world trade continuing to flow freely simply because it's so profitable. But that's not a safe assumption.

Angell was right to describe the belief that conquest pays as a great illusion. But the belief that economic rationality always prevents war is an equally great illusion. And today's high degree of global economic interdependence, which can be sustained only if all major governments act sensibly, is more fragile than we imagine.
(c) 2009 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

Dexter's Legions
The "Good" Killers of the "Good" War
By Chris Floyd

Now, he's hell-bent for destruction, he's afraid and confused,
And his brain has been mismanaged with great skill.
All he believes are his eyes
And his eyes, they just tell him lies.
But there's a woman on my block,
She just sits there, facing the hill.
She says, Who's gonna take away his license to kill?
License To Kill ~~~ Bob Dylan

There is, I understand, a popular cable television show featuring a "good" serial killer who has been taught by a kind mentor to channel his murderous psychosis toward socially worthy ends; i.e., killing scumbags who deserve to die but have somehow escaped the law. I often wonder if this show is actually a better mirror of the national psyche than "24," the "good torture" saga that in the Bush years was often cited by top administration officials, conservative pundits -- and Supreme Court justices -- as an insightful inspiration for national security policy.

Certainly it often seems that concept of "Dexter" has been writ large in what we are now pleased to call our "Overseas Contingency Operation" -- in preference to the old Bushist term, "War on Terror," or the admirably straightforward locution once favored by Donald Rumsfeld: "The Long War." (Couldn't we just combine the two and call it the "Long Overseas Contingency Operation" -- i.e., LOCO?) For whatever else LOCO might be -- sustained campaign of plunder and profiteering; reckless dice game for geopolitical domination; massive dose of Viagra for an ageing militarist/media elite -- it is, most assuredly, a license to kill: serially, savagely, and best of all -- the psycho-killer's dream -- without accountability.

On Friday, an internal investigation by the Pentagon into the American airstrike with B1 bombers on villages in Afghanistan's Farah province in May was released. [For more on the attack, which Afghan officials say killed more than 140 civilians, see "Tales of Yankee Power."] As McClatchy reports, the Pentagon -- which at first denied that any civilians were killed -- now admits outright that it sure enough killed 26 civilians...and might well have actually blown 86 hunks of collateral damage to smithereens.

This comes after weeks of high-octane weaseling from American officials -- including the grand LOCO warlord himself, General David Douglas MacArthur Petraeus, who at one point announced that he had video proof that our boys had only been killing dirty rotten terrorist ragheads hidden amongst so-called civilians who might have been giving the insurgents shelter and who anyway like to lie about how many of their family members get killed in these essential raids -- or words to that effect.

Needless to say, this documentary evidence has not been forthcoming: much like the documentary evidence that Colin Powell once promised would show the world that the 9/11 attacks had come from Afghanistan, with Taliban complicity. This dossier of "evidence" -- i.e., the supposed casus belli justifying the entire American military operation in Afghanistan -- has never seen the light of day, and never will. It was just like the murky photograpsh and sinister-looking vials that Powell later waved around the UN to "justify" the invasion of Iraq: a PR prop, part of "rolling out the product" to sell a war already planned.

In any case, the atrocity in Farah was so glaring, the death count was so high, and the eyewitness accounts of the true nature of the attack and its aftermath were so credible, plentiful and multi-sourced that the Pentagon was forced to concede at least some ground to reality -- even though our "Good War" leaders seem to think that "only" murdering 26 civilians is OK. Hey, it coulda been 146, they shrug, with a charming, aw-shucks Dexterish grin. And anyway, it's all in a good cause, right?

And although Afghan officials are standing by the higher death count, the American military brass has already decided that no one will be disciplined for killing the 26 and quite possibly 86 innocent human beings slaughtered in the operation. Hell, our boys actually did themselves proud! As Reuters reports:

The U.S. military is unlikely to discipline troops involved in a deadly air strike in Afghanistan that heightened tensions between Washington and Kabul, the top U.S. military official said on Thursday.

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said U.S. troops handled themselves well during the battle last month against Taliban fighters in Afghanistan's western Farah province....

"At least in my review, I found nothing that would lead to any specific action along the lines of what you're asking," Mullen said at a Pentagon briefing when asked it disciplinary action might be considered.

"Civilian bloodbath? So what?" That pretty much says it all. So if you've got an insatiable lust for killing your fellow human beings, there's no need to get some dinky job in a stateside police department, confining yourself to a piecemeal, penny-ante kill-rate. No sir. Get with the LOCO program instead, and you can murder wholesale, worldwide, without fear of retribution -- indeed, with the praise and support of the highest authorities in the land. Hey, it's boffo box office in the Homeland. They can't get enough of that kind of stuff in the shining city on the hill.

Now he worships at an altar of a stagnant pool
And when he sees his reflection, he's fulfilled.
Oh, man is opposed to fair play,
He wants it all and he wants it his way.
But there's a woman on my block,
She just sits there, as the night grows still.
She says, who's gonna take away his license to kill?

(c) 2009 Chris Floyd

The Freedom Of Choice That Isn't Very Free When You Get Right Down To It
By Case Wagebvoord

The word "freedom" takes more abuse than a submissive in an SM whorehouse. The word is used to justify oppression, war, death and carnage. "Freedom" and "capitalism" are the ties that bind, the chastity belts that protect us from the dangling dick of democracy. Whenever a politician speaks of freedom, the wise person heads for the nearest exit while those who think freedom means freedom bend over and spread their cheeks.

Politicians do not have a monopoly on the word. Private enterprise uses it to justify its avarice and rapacity as it associates freedom with choice, meaning that the consumer is free to choose from a wide selection of useless items designed to fill the artificial needs created by clever advertising.

Now the word had entered the debate over healthcare reform. In a statement that threatens the collapse of life on earth as we know it if Congress adopts a single-payer health plan, the American Medical Association warned, "The introduction of a new public plan threatens to restrict patient choice by driving out private insurers, which currently provide coverage for nearly 70% of Americans (emphasis mine)."

In this case, the "free choice" is the freedom to choose which private insurer one wishes to be screwed by, assuming the one can afford a private plan.

The association goes on to wave the tattered red flag of "tax increases" when it warns that, "If private insurers are pushed out of the market, the corresponding surge in public plan participants would likely lead to an explosion of costs that would need to be absorbed by taxpayers."

This assumes that the public is too stupid to do the math, i.e., wouldn't the tax increase created by a public plan with a 5% expense ratio be less than the premiums charged by private plans with their 30% expense ratio? Plus, the best example of a single-payer plan, Medicare, charges premiums based on income, unlike private plans who want an arm and a leg, no matter how poor you are.

Not that the AMA has to worry. The corporate flunkies in Congress are not about to do anything as radical as a national single-payer health plan. It can't afford to jeprodize all those campaign contributions.
(c) 2009 Case Wagenvoord. Some years ago, Case Wagenvoord turned off the tube and picked up a book. He's been trouble ever since. His articles have been posted at The Smirking Chimp, Countercurrents and Issues & Alibis. When he's not writing or brooding, he is carving hardwood bowls that have been displayed in galleries and shows across the country. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and two cats. His book, Open Letters to George W. Bush is available at

Capitalism Lite
By Mike Folkerth

Good Morning all of you free thinking brain cells out there; your King of Simple News is on the air.

We're going to wade in the deep end of the pool today and talk about capitalism. Considering that our system of capitalism could possibly have run its course is akin to learning that your favorite uncle is a pedophile.

Capitalism is like Mom, baseball, and apple pie wrapped up in the American flag. Giving any thought whatsoever into any other system of base economics is just plain un-American! Or is it?

First of all, I have spent most of my life as a devout capitalist and for many years I defended the practice tooth and tong. I was wrong for doing so in the latter years, the years after 1970 when we underwent the change from "balanced" to "debt based" capitalism. But you know what they say about ignorance and old habits; they're a bad combination.

Calm down, I'm not going to suggest either of the equally failing systems of Communism or Socialism, so before you quit reading and block the King of Simple News with your spam filter, let's discuss this thing.

Those who have followed this blog for any length of time may have read the following thought provoking article last year when it was contributed by reader Rick Martin.

When I tell people that capitalism and free enterprise are not the same thing, I typically get a deer-in-the-headlights look, followed by a clearly articulated "Huh?" But they are not the same thing, and that is the subject of this piece.

Capitalism requires growth. Free enterprise does not. Capitalism can only be satisfied by "more." Free enterprise can be satisfied by "enough." Free enterprise can go on forever. Capitalism cannot.

Free enterprise means that I am free to set up my own enterprise, say a general store, and the Federal Agents will not come knocking at midnight. As long as my expenses do not exceed my revenues, my enterprise can continue indefinitely without the need to increase my net worth.

Free enterprise requires freedom, but it does not require accumulation, or growth.

Capitalism, on the other hand, requires a return on investment (ROI). It requires me to accumulate ever more capital. If I invest $100, by the end of the year, I had better realize a minimum of $106. If I don't then my investment became negative, as the very roots of capitalism are planted in inflation.

If I reinvest my $106, I must receive $113 the next year. This must continue forever, or else the capitalist system will fail. This is closely related to the concept of compound interest. This also requires an exponential increase in the money supply, which eventually becomes impossible to balance with the physical system of available resources.

The real difference then, is this; capitalism requires accumulation while free enterprise does not. Capitalism also requires external inputs, often coming from Peter where Paul is the capitalist. "Those who rob Peter to pay Paul, can always count on Paul for support" _ George Bernard Shaw

"Growth" must come from an expansion of the money supply, resulting in the dilution of the value of the currency (inflation). Capitalism and free enterprise are not mutually exclusive. In fact, capitalism usually rides on the back of free enterprise making them appear as one.

Capitalism thus requires infinite growth. Since we live on a finite planet, this is clearly impossible. Eventually something has to give. It is not a matter of if, but only a matter of when. To believe otherwise is to believe in magic. When I was a child, compound interest seemed like magic to me. Yet any professional magician will tell you that magic is not really magic, but merely an illusion. Similar to capitalism.

The characteristics of capitalism is the characteristics of the weed: overshoot and die-off. Before the weed dies it shoots out consumerism, imperialism, and planned obsolescence. These are meant to delay the demise of the weed but in the end, when it has exhausted its resources, the weed dies anyway. Capitalism must, in the end, consume its own host society. The result of practicing unchecked capitalism in the U.S. is currently consuming our Middle Class.

We have all seen those movies where the crew of a steamship, when the coal is gone, rips up the decks to feed the boilers. It is clear to everyone that this can only go on for so long as there are decks to rip up. A steadily increasing return on investment, which is the very essence of capitalism, can only have a similar result. The poor people on the steamship may be hopeful of rescue by another ship. On Spaceship Earth, I do not think we can count on being rescued by, or making landfall on another planet.

So it comes back to my initial comparison of capitalism and free enterprise. Free enterprise means, quite literally, freedom. Freedom to try, freedom to succeed, and freedom to fail.

Capitalism (sorry, Dr. Friedman) does not mean freedom. It means slavery to the demands of return on investment; of growth. Carried to its logical conclusion, in our present time it probably means turning into a society that might be characterized as high-tech feudalism.

Free enterprise is a shopkeeper, capitalism is a banker. With free enterprise, we can own our wealth. With capitalism, our wealth will wind up owning us. That is the real difference. And that is our choice.

Rick Martin and I have discussed his theory at length and there are some gaps that would need to be worked out. But all and all, it is my opinion that we must begin leaning toward the sustainability of a steady state economy, because our current debt based capitalism ain't workin' out real well.
(c) 2009 Mike Folkerth is not your run-of-the-mill author of economics. Nor does he write in boring lecture style. Not even close. The former real estate broker, developer, private real estate fund manager, auctioneer, Alaskan bush pilot, restaurateur, U.S. Navy veteran, heavy equipment operator, taxi cab driver, fishing guide, horse packer...(I won't go on, it's embarrassing) writes from experience and plain common sense. He is the author of "The Biggest Lie Ever Believed."

The Quotable Quote...

"Conservatives are not necessarily stupid,
but most stupid people are conservatives."
~~~ J.S. Mill ~~~

Iran Had a Democracy Before We Took It Away
By Chris Hedges

Iranians do not need or want us to teach them about liberty and representative government. They have long embodied this struggle. It is we who need to be taught. It was Washington that orchestrated the 1953 coup to topple Iran's democratically elected government, the first in the Middle East, and install the compliant shah in power. It was Washington that forced Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh, a man who cared as much for his country as he did for the rule of law and democracy, to spend the rest of his life under house arrest. We gave to the Iranian people the corrupt regime of the shah and his savage secret police and the primitive clerics that rose out of the swamp of the dictator's Iran. Iranians know they once had a democracy until we took it away.

The fundamental problem in the Middle East is not a degenerate and corrupt Islam. The fundamental problem is a degenerate and corrupt Christendom. We have not brought freedom and democracy and enlightenment to the Muslim world. We have brought the opposite. We have used the iron fist of the American military to implant our oil companies in Iraq, occupy Afghanistan and ensure that the region is submissive and cowed. We have supported a government in Israel that has carried out egregious war crimes in Lebanon and Gaza and is daily stealing ever greater portions of Palestinian land. We have established a network of military bases, some the size of small cities, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Kuwait, and we have secured basing rights in the Gulf states of Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates. We have expanded our military operations to Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Egypt, Algeria and Yemen. And no one naively believes, except perhaps us, that we have any intention of leaving.

We are the biggest problem in the Middle East. We have through our cruelty and violence created and legitimized the Mahmoud Ahmadinejads and the Osama bin Ladens. The longer we lurch around the region dropping iron fragmentation bombs and seizing Muslim land the more these monsters, reflections of our own distorted image, will proliferate. The theologian Reinhold Niebuhr wrote that "the most significant moral characteristic of a nation is its hypocrisy." But our hypocrisy no longer fools anyone but ourselves. It will ensure our imperial and economic collapse.

The history of modern Iran is the history of a people battling tyranny. These tyrants were almost always propped up and funded by foreign powers. This suppression and distortion of legitimate democratic movements over the decades resulted in the 1979 revolution that brought the Iranian clerics to power, unleashing another tragic cycle of Iranian resistance.

"The central story of Iran over the last 200 years has been national humiliation at the hands of foreign powers who have subjugated and looted the country," Stephen Kinzer, the author of "All the Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror," told me. "For a long time the perpetrators were the British and Russians. Beginning in 1953, the United States began taking over that role. In that year, the American and British secret services overthrew an elected government, wiped away Iranian democracy, and set the country on the path to dictatorship."

"Then, in the 1980s, the U.S. sided with Saddam Hussein in the Iran-Iraq war, providing him with military equipment and intelligence that helped make it possible for his army to kill hundreds of thousands of Iranians," Kinzer said. "Given this history, the moral credibility of the U.S. to pose as a promoter of democracy in Iran is close to nil.

Especially ludicrous is the sight of people in Washington calling for intervention on behalf of democracy in Iran when just last year they were calling for the bombing of Iran. If they had had their way then, many of the brave protesters on the streets of Tehran today-the ones they hold up as heroes of democracy-would be dead now."

Washington has never recovered from the loss of Iran-something our intelligence services never saw coming. The overthrow of the shah, the humiliation of the embassy hostages, the laborious piecing together of tiny shreds of paper from classified embassy documents to expose America's venal role in thwarting democratic movements in Iran and the region, allowed the outside world to see the dark heart of the American empire. Washington has demonized Iran ever since, painting it as an irrational and barbaric country filled with primitive, religious zealots. But Iranians, as these street protests illustrate, have proved in recent years far more courageous in the defense of democracy than most Americans.

Where were we when our election was stolen from us in 2000 by Republican operatives and a Supreme Court that overturned all legal precedent to anoint George W. Bush president? Did tens of thousands of us fill the squares of our major cities and denounce the fraud? Did we mobilize day after day to restore transparency and accountability to our election process? Did we fight back with the same courage and tenacity as the citizens of Iran? Did Al Gore defy the power elite and, as opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi has done, demand a recount at the risk of being killed?

President Obama retreated in his Cairo speech into our spectacular moral nihilism, suggesting that our crimes matched the crimes of Iran, that there is, in his words, "a tumultuous history between us." He went on: "In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government. Since the Islamic Revolution, Iran has played a role in acts of hostage-taking and violence against U.S. troops and civilians." It all, he seemed to say, balances out.

I am no friend of the Iranian regime, which helped create and arm Hezbollah, is certainly meddling in Iraq, has persecuted human rights activists, gays, women and religious and ethnic minorities, embraces racism and intolerance and uses its power to deny popular will. But I do not remember Iran orchestrating a coup in the United States to replace an elected government with a brutal dictator who for decades persecuted, assassinated and imprisoned democracy activists. I do not remember Iran arming and funding a neighboring state to wage war against our country. Iran never shot down one of our passenger jets as did the USS Vincennes-caustically nicknamed Robocruiser by the crews of other American vessels-when in June 1988 it fired missiles at an Airbus filled with Iranian civilians, killing everyone on board. Iran is not sponsoring terrorism within the United States, as our intelligence services currently do in Iran. The attacks on Iranian soil include suicide bombings, kidnappings, beheadings, sabotage and "targeted assassinations" of government officials, scientists and other Iranian leaders. What would we do if the situation was reversed? How would we react if Iran carried out these policies against us?

We are, and have long been, the primary engine for radicalism in the Middle East. The greatest favor we can do for democracy activists in Iran, as well as in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Gulf and the dictatorships that dot North Africa, is withdraw our troops from the region and begin to speak to Iranians and the rest of the Muslim world in the civilized language of diplomacy, respect and mutual interests. The longer we cling to the doomed doctrine of permanent war the more we give credibility to the extremists who need, indeed yearn for, an enemy that speaks in their crude slogans of nationalist cant and violence. The louder the Israelis and their idiot allies in Washington call for the bombing of Iran to thwart its nuclear ambitions, the happier are the bankrupt clerics who are ordering the beating and murder of demonstrators. We may laugh when crowds supporting Ahmadinejad call us "the Great Satan," but there is a very palpable reality that has informed the terrible algebra of their hatred.

Our intoxication with our military prowess blinds us to all possibilities of hope and mutual cooperation. It was Mohammed Khatami, the president of Iran from 1997 to 2005-perhaps the only honorable Middle East leader of our time-whose refusal to countenance violence by his own supporters led to the demise of his lofty "civil society" at the hands of more ruthless, less scrupulous opponents. It was Khatami who proclaimed that "the death of even one Jew is a crime." And we sputtered back to this great and civilized man the primitive slogans of all deformed militarists. We were captive, as all bigots are, to our demons, and could not hear any sound but our own shouting. It is time to banish these demons. It is time to stand not with the helmeted goons who beat protesters, not with those in the Pentagon who make endless wars, but with the unarmed demonstrators in Iran who daily show us what we must become.

The fight of the Iranian people is our fight. And, perhaps for the first time, we can match our actions to our ideals. We have no right under post-Nuremberg laws to occupy Iraq or Afghanistan. These occupations are defined by these statutes as criminal "wars of aggression." They are war crimes. We have no right to use force, including the state-sponsored terrorism we unleash on Iran, to turn the Middle East into a private gas station for our large oil companies. We have no right to empower Israel's continuing occupation of Palestine, a flagrant violation of international law. The resistance you see in Iran will not end until Iranians, and all those burdened with repression in the Middle East, free themselves from the tyranny that comes from within and without. Let us, for once, be on the side of those who share our democratic ideals.
(c) 2009 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. He is the author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning. His latest book is American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.

Foreclosure Fiasco
By Robert Scheer

It's not working. The Bush-Obama strategy of throwing trillions at the banks to solve the mortgage crisis is a huge bust. The financial moguls, while tickled pink to have $1.25 trillion in toxic assets covered by the feds, along with hundreds of billions in direct handouts, are not using that money to turn around the free fall in housing foreclosures.

As The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, "The Mortgage Bankers Association cut its forecast of home-mortgage lending this year by 27% amid deflating hopes for a boom in refinancing." The same association said that the total refinancing under the administration's much ballyhooed Home Affordable Refinance Program is "very low."

Aside from a tight mortgage market, the problem in preventing foreclosures has to do with homeowners losing their jobs. Here again the administration, continuing the Bush strategy, is working the wrong end of the problem. Although President Obama was wise enough to at least launch a job stimulus program, a far greater amount of federal funding benefits Wall Street as opposed to Main Street.

State and local governments have been forced into draconian budget cuts, firing workers who are among the most reliable in making their mortgage payments-when they have jobs. Yet the Obama administration won't spend even a small fraction of what it has wasted on the banks to cover state shortfalls.

California couldn't get the White House to guarantee $5.5 billion in short-term notes to avert severe cuts in state and local payrolls, from prison guards to schoolteachers. Compare that with the $50 billion already given to Citigroup, plus an astounding $300 billion to guarantee that institution's toxic assets. Citigroup benefits from being a bank "too big to fail," although through its irresponsible actions to get that large it did as much as any company to cause this mess.

How big a mess? According to the Federal Reserve's most recent report, seven straight quarters of declining household wealth have left Americans $14 trillion poorer. Many who thought they were middle class have now joined the ranks of the poor. Food banks are strapped and welfare rolls are dramatically on the rise, as the WSJ reports, with a 27 percent year-to-year increase in Oregon, 23 percent in South Carolina and 10 percent in California. And you have to be very poor to get on welfare, thanks to President Clinton's so-called welfare reform, which he signed into law before he ramped up the radical deregulation of the financial services industry, enabling our economic downturn.

Citigroup, the prime mover for ending the sensible restraints of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, is now a pathetic ward of the state. But back in the day President Clinton would tour the country with Citigroup founder Sandy Weill touting the wonderful work that Weill and other moguls were doing to invest in economically depressed communities. It wasn't really happening then, and now millions of folks in those communities have seen their houses snatched from them as if they were just pieces in a game of Monopoly that Clinton and his fat-cat buddy were playing.

Once Weill got the radical deregulation law he wanted, he issued a statement giving credit: "In particular, we congratulate President Clinton, Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, NEC [National Economic Council] Chairman Gene Sperling, Under Secretary of the Treasury Gary Gensler, Assistant Treasury Secretaries Linda Robertson and Greg Baer."

Summers is now Obama's top economic adviser, Sperling has been appointed legal counselor at Treasury, and Gensler, a former partner in Goldman Sachs, is head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which he once attempted to prevent from regulating derivatives when it was run by Brooksley Born. Robertson worked for Summers in pushing through the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which freed the derivatives market from adult supervision and contained the "Enron Loophole," permitting that company to go wild. Robertson then became the top Washington lobbyist for Enron and was recently appointed senior adviser to Fed Chair Ben S. Bernanke. Baer went to work as a corporate counsel for Bank of America, which announced his appointment with a press release crediting him with having "coordinated Treasury policy" during the Clinton years in getting Glass-Steagall repealed. As a result of deregulation, B of A too spiraled out of control and ended up as a beneficiary of the Treasury's welfare program.

Why was I so naive as to have expected this Democratic president to not do the bidding of the banks when the last president from that party joined the Republicans in giving the moguls everything they wanted? Please, Obama, prove me wrong.
(c) 2009 Robert Scheer is the editor of Truthdig. A journalist with over 30 years experience, Scheer has built his reputation on the strength of his social and political writing. His columns have appeared in newspapers across the country, and his in-depth interviews have made headlines. He is the author, most recently, of "The Pornography of Power: How Defense Hawks Hijacked 9/11 and Weakened America," published by Twelve Books.

The Dead Letter Office...

Rethuglican Con-gressman Kirk

Heil Obama,

Dear Unterfuhrer Kirk,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution, your attempts to give stiffer jail sentences for people found with better pot will result in only the ruling elite having such pot at their disposals and putting all the free thinkers into "Happy Camps" where they can be eliminated out of sight, Afghanistan and these many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Rethuglican Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Iron Cross 1st class with Diamond clusters presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 06-04-2009. We salute you Herr Kirk, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

Email From John Harris
Regrets dispute with Dan Froomkin
By Glenn Greenwald

As Jay Rosen explained so well in my interview with him yesterday, The Washington Post's firing of Dan Froomkin had its roots in a very revealing 2006 crusade against Froomkin, led by The Post's then-National Political Editor (and now Politico Editor-in-Chief) John Harris, insisting that Froomkin was not a real reporter but only a liberal ideologue opinionist. At the time, Rosen wrote a comprehensive piece on this dispute, which included an interview with Harris that was scathing in its criticisms of Froomkin, and Rosen elaborated on that event in my interview with him yesterday.

Today, I received the following email from Harris, in which he expresses regret and even seems to acknowledge error in leading that crusade:


This is a quick note on your recent items on Dan Froomkin's ouster from the Post.

I blundered four years ago in allowing myself to have an overwrought public disagreement with Dan over what now seems (and if I was thinking clearly at the time would have seemed then) an insanely narow [sic] issue--i.e., whether his column was appropriately labeled.

I don't want any current references to that now ancient episode to obscure my actual view of Dan and his work. I think he is a distinctive and valuable voice on the presidency and on journalism. I particularly admire the entpreneurialism [sic] he has shown in his career--using the power of the Web to build a community of followers and create his own franchise.

This was actually my view at the time, though it got lost in the smoke when I got indignant over a couple points that seem distant now. But my view has strengthened in the years since, with more appreciation of how the Web is changing journalism and how enterprising writers thrive in this new environment.

It's been nearly three years since I have had anything to do with decision-making at the Post, and I have no insight into what prompted he and the Post to part ways.

But he had some impressive achievements there, and I hope he'll find the right home for his voice soon.

John Harris

This sentiment is understandable and seems sincere: nobody wants to be seen as the prime culprit in someone's firing. And it is true that the way in which journalists view online commentary (and online commentators) has changed over the past several years. Whereas "blogs" were once viewed as filthy, unworthy, irrelevant interlopers by many establishment journalists and their management, most of them now operate "blogs" themselves and view them as a vital part of their business plan. That's particularly true for Politico, and so it's believable that Harris has changed his views since 2006 (when he was at the Post) regarding the value of someone like Froomkin (and perhaps Harris could put actions behind his expression of regret by offering to carry Froomkin's column, which would surely be a superb journalistic and business addition to Politico).

That said, I strongly disagree with Harris' characterization of the dispute he and other Post reporters had with Froomkin as "narrow." That controversy was actually fundamental, as it highlighted how most establishment media figures understand the role of "journalist." It also revealed how petrified media figures were (and remain) of being criticized by conservatives (read the quotes in the linked post expressing that fear, including from Harris), and how eager they were in the Bush era to refrain from real journalism in order to keep the administration and the Right generally pleased and satisfied -- even (or especially) if it meant refraining from reporting honestly on the Bush administration. That is why I have devoted so much focus to this episode over the last few days. And, as Rosen notes, the media have never come to terms with their conduct during the Bush era, never admitted it, never even bothered to conduct a debate about it -- except, as David Gregory, Brian Williams and Charlie Gibson do, to defend it.

That's why this Froomkin firing is so revealing. The fact that one of the very few people to practice real adversarial journalism in the Bush era was decreed not to be a real "journalist" -- and has now been fired by the Post -- is one of the most illustrative episodes of the past several years regarding what the real function of the establishment media is. Along those lines, Harris might want to consider also acknowledging that Froomkin was absolutely right when insisting (and Harris wrong when doubting) that Froomkin was not acting as "liberal opinionist" when criticizing Bush, but rather, was as an "accountability journalist" because he was merely pointing out facts, and would subject the actions and claims of a Democratic president to the same journalistic scrutiny. Froomkin's tenacious criticisms of Obama leave no doubt about that.

The ultimate meaning of Froomkin's firing was captured nicely yesterday by Paul Krugman, who incorporated long-standing blog critiques into his analysis:

On the face of it, it's a puzzling decision. Aside from the excellence of Froomkin's work, he's popular with readers. On sheer business grounds, why drop him? . . .

Here's how I see things: many people in the news media, especially at the managerial level, decided a long time ago that movement conservatism was The Future - and that the sensible thing, whether or not you yourself were a conservative, was to go with the wave. . . .

And anyone who didn't treat the right with great respect, who didn't get with the program, was a flake, a moonbat. . . . Now, you might think that the way things turned out - the total failure of movement conservatism in government, and the abrupt, humiliating end to the Permanent Republican Majority - would lead to some soul-searching. But that's not how human nature works. Instead, it became more urgent than ever to assert that those who didn't get with the program were flakes and moonbats, not worthy of being listened to, while those who believed in the right to the bitter end were "serious".

Thus we still live in an era in which you have to have been wrong to be respectable. You're not considered serious about national security unless you were for invading Iraq; you're not considered a serious political analyst unless you spent the last 3 years of the Bush administration predicting a Republican comeback; you're not considered a serious economic analyst unless you dismissed the idea that the Bush Boom, such as it was, rested on a housing bubble.

That's why the firing of Dan Froomkin now makes a perverse sort of sense. As long as the right was in power, he was in effect the Post's designated moonbat, someone who attracted readers but didn't threaten the self-esteem of the self-perceived serious people at the paper. But now he looks like someone who was right when the serious people were wrong - and that means he has to go.

It makes perfect sense that one of the people to whom Krugman's critique applies most -- Washington Post Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiatt -- is the one with ultimate responsibility for the Froomkin firing. Froomkin is the anti-Hiatt: someone who was right about the Bush administration and neoconservatives; who performed the real functions of journalism; and, most of all, sees himself as an outside check on, rather than a loyal servant to, establishment power. If you were Fred Hiatt, wouldn't you also be eager to see Dan Froomkin fired and disappeared from sight, for exactly the reasons Krugman wrote?

UPDATE: One likely benefit of the Froomkin firing is that it highlights the principal and long-standing editorial function of Fred Hiatt, Donald Graham and the Post: to justify and defend Bush radicalism and lawbreaking and promote neoconservatism. Along those lines, the Post today has an Editorial condemning the recent decision of a federal judge who is a Bush-43-appointee (a fact the Editorial omits) allowing a lawsuit brought by Jose Padilla against John Yoo to proceed (I wrote about that decision here -- see Item 5). As a result of memos written by Yoo, Padilla -- an American citizen -- was imprisoned for years without charges, without any access to the outside world (including a lawyer), and was brutally abused.

But to the Post, Yoo's authorizing that conduct was a mere good faith legal dispute for which (as always) there should be no accountability. That's one of the Post's primary goals in life: to defend Bush officials from any consequences of their actions, even when those actions violate core Constitutional guarantees and criminal statutes. Froomkin, a vigorous proponent of accountability (and vocal critic of Obama for blocking such accountability) was completely anathema to that mission.

Along those lines, Andrew Sullivan -- who has been criticizing neoconservative dogma and the Post's allegiance to it for the role it played in Froomkin's firing -- is predictably being smeared as an "anti-semite" by the usual manipulators of that term. Andrew rightly notes that "these vile smears are designed to police the discourse some more," but it's so striking how nobody cares anymore about these smears because they've been so overused and are so transparently dumb (Andrew himself dismisses them as "tedious," and that's all they are).

Everyone knows what neocons are. Everyone knows that "neocons" are not tantamount to "Jews." Most Jews reject neoconservative ideology. Some of the leading and most scathing critics of neoconservatism are Jews. Many leading neocons -- Dick Cheney -- are not Jewish. Depicting criticisms of "neocons" as "anti-Semitism" is every bit as manipulative as applying that term to those who criticize Israel. Neoconservatism is a radical, deceitful and destructive ideology and nobody is going to be deterred from aggressively pointing that out because Weekly Standard, National Review, Commentary and The Washington Post Editorial Page casually toss around the word "anti-Semite" in order to intimidate people out of that criticism. Those people and that tactic are far too discredited for that to work with anyone. It doesn't inspire fear -- only pity and contempt. That The Post is a leading house organ for neoconservative opinion is an important fact and screeching "anti-Semitism" at anyone who points it out will achieve nothing.
(c) 2009 Glenn Greenwald. was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book "How Would a Patriot Act?," a critique of the Bush administration's use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, "A Tragic Legacy," examines the Bush legacy.

No Reason To Favor Private Health Insurers
By Joel S. Hirschhorn

In the national debate about health care reform absolutely nothing makes less sense than the positive views of much of the public about private health insurers. There is no good reason to have positive views of private health insurers, the companies that have relentlessly increased the costs for very limited health insurance. Copays, deductibles and premiums have raped those lucky enough to have health insurance while also making it very difficult much of the time to get coverage for all kinds of health problems. The US health care system is unbelievably inefficient, providing far less effective health care for what is incredibly high costs, compared to all other industrialized countries. The main reason is the private health insurance industry.

If you need solid information to believe this view, then consider these facts.

On the cost side, what is the problem? The current private health insurance system is the most costly, wasteful, complicated, and bureaucratic in the world. Its main function is not to provide quality health care for all people but to make huge profits for companies. Private health insurance companies spend an incredible 30 percent of each health care dollar on administration and billing. Thirty cents of every dollar is not going to doctors, nurses, medicine, medical personnel; it is going to bureaucracy and administration plus exorbitant CEO compensation packages, advertising, lobbying, and campaign contributions. More efficient public programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and the VA are administered for far less money, less than 10 percent.

From 2003 to 2007, the combined profits of the nation's major health insurance companies increased by 170 percent. William McGuire, the former head of United Health, several years ago, accumulated stock options worth an estimated $1.6 billion; CIGNA CEO Edward Hanway made more than $120 million in the last 5 years. CEO compensation for the top seven health insurance companies now averages $14.2 million. Over the last three decades, the number of insurance administrative personnel has grown by 25 times the number of physicians.

The double whammy is that we get so little for so much spending. The US spends far more per capita on health care than any other nation, and health care costs continue to soar unsustainably, now at $2.4 trillion and 18 percent of our GDP. Our per capita spending is 40 percent more than the second most costly national system. The insanity is that we get poor value for what we spend. According to the World Health Organization, the US ranks 37th in terms of health system performance; we are far behind many other countries in terms of such important indices as infant mortality, life expectancy, and preventable deaths. Even the latest federal National Health Quality Report concluded: "health care quality in America is suboptimal...the health care system is not achieving the more substantial strides needed to close the gap or 'quality chasm' that persists."

If Congress and the Obama administration believed in true, necessary health reform, then they should favor a government run single payer system. But they do not because they are corrupted by the money from the private health insurance industry. If the public was not delusional and brainwashed, then they would be screaming for a single payer system, but the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll posed this question to respondents: What if having the government create a new health insurance plan made many private health insurers go out of business because they could not compete? In that case would you support or oppose creating a government-run health insurance plan? Remarkably, 33 percent were opposed and 25 percent were opposed if private health insurers could not compete. Only 37 percent support the government run option regardless of any impact on the private insurers.

Considering the predominantly negative experiences most Americans have had with their private health insurance companies, these results are depressing. The only rational explanation is that Americans have been successfully brainwashed by years of propaganda and disinformation from the health insurance industry. As I and other Medicare users can attest to, a government run plan has provided me total freedom in choosing any physician and hospital I want to use. There is no sound reason to believe that a larger version of Medicare offered to all Americans would in any way reduce the quality of health care received.

The simple fact is that a huge amount of money can be saved by shifting from private to government health insurance, $4 trillion over ten years, more than enough to pay for universal health care coverage for absolutely all Americans.

What we are now witnessing in Congress and the White House is a total, ugly capitulation to the money and power of the private health insurance industry. If the private health insurance industry maintains its stranglehold on the national system, then taxpayers will pay even more money for the worst national health care system in the world, if Congress makes that costly insurance available to more Americans by using government money.

There were some other recent poll results. The New York Times/CBS News poll found that most Americans would be willing to pay higher taxes so everyone could have health insurance and that they said the government could do a better job of holding down health-care costs than the private sector. In fact, 85 percent of respondents said the health care system needed to be fundamentally changed or completely rebuilt, nearly 60 percent said they would be willing to pay higher taxes to make sure that all were insured, and 72 percent supported a government-administered insurance plan - something like Medicare for those under 65 - that would compete for customers with private insurers, versus 20 percent that said they were opposed.

Part of the disinformation campaign is that people are being manipulated to think that a government insurance plan equates to government run health care itself, which is shear nonsense. Medicare users access exactly the same private health care system as those with private health insurance. Of course, private health insurers charge so much money that they pay physicians and hospitals more money than Medicare, which is primarily a tactic to keep much of those parts of the health care system supportive of maintaining the private insurance system.

Dr. David Himmelstein is a founder and spokesperson for Physicians for a National Health Program. He believes President Obama is caving to the insurance industry: "The President once acknowledged that single payer reform was the best option, but now he's caving in to corporate healthcare interests and completely shutting out advocates of single payer reform."
(c) 2009 Joel S. Hirschhorn observed our corrupt federal government firsthand as a senior official with the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the National Governors Association and is the author of Delusional Democracy - Fixing the Republic Without Overthrowing the Government. To discuss issues write the author.

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Pat Bagley ~~~

W The Movie Trailer

To End On A Happy Note...

The Post War Dream
By Pink Floyd

Tell me true, tell me why, was Jesus crucified.
Is it for this that daddy died?
Was it for you? Was it me?
Did I watch too much T.V.?

Is that a hint of accusation in your eyes?
If it wasn't for the nips,
Being so good at building ships.
The yards would still be open on the Clyde.

And it can't be much fun for them.
Beneath the rising sun.
With all their kids
Committing suicide.
What have we done Maggie what have we done?
What have we done to England?
Should we shout should we scream?
What happened to the post war dream?

Oh Maggie, Maggie what have we done?
(c) 1983/2009 Pink Floyd

Have You Seen This...

Howard Zinn: "I Wish Obama Would Listen to MLK"

Parting Shots...

Disney PIXAR's, "Up"

The Sugarcoating of Pedophilia!


The Christian Movie Review of the Disney Film Called UpIt goes without saying, but we'll say it anyway: If the sight of an old man with balloons in a confined space, alone with a little boy doesn't raise every anointed hair on your Godly neck, then you need to check yourself into a Baptist Mental Hospital! It doesn't matter if a man-balloon-boy combo is presented in a book, in a movie, or in real life - as True Christians(tm), what might seem innocent to the untrained (unsaved) eye, when seen through the Eyes of Christ, calls forth images that could only be described as a potpourri of pedophilia! This sexually explicit and perverted combination of an old man, balloons, and a little boy is the subject of Disney PIXAR's lewd little new film, Up. And yes, Christian friends, we are living in the Last Days. So, it shouldn't shock you to hear that Up is rated G and is marketed to your children.

Disney's trickery knows no bounds. The title of the movie, Up has already confused thousands of Baptist parents who thought it was a Christian film about a little boy and his grandfather who fly off into the sky to try to find Heaven and Jesus. A lawsuit to refund ticket sales for these duped families is already underway. Christian media experts at Focus on the Family, and Pastor Deacon Fred from Landover Baptist Church suggest that the film is more about Down than Up. As Pastor explains, "A boy with a balloon is fine, my friends! But if you throw an old man into the mix, he acts as a pin, which pops the balloon and sends it and every passenger (which includes all those on board to see this film) sailing straight down into the deepest pits of Hell from which there is no return! Glory!"

Some churches, like Landover Baptist are pro-active about educating children about the dangers of seeing the movie, Up. "We've spent millions of dollars to put together seminars for innocent little Christian children who have been psychologically damaged by not being allowed to see the movie, Up," says Pastor Deacon Fred. "We could fill the Lake of Fire with tears from all the Baptist children who have pleaded with their unwavering parents to see this film! Disney has dealt a new card from the Devil's deck its time to force their hand!" he continued. "I don't want them to keep putting these images into my anointed head! Do you? This latest movie, Up has me thinking about wrinkled old man sex! It's just WRONG! And all the while them Jewish producers and their fat cartoon artists sit and giggle - drinking a hellish toast to the demons who helped them create this nonsense."

Pastor Deacon Fred explained to church members that he first heard about the movie, Up from his friend, James Dobson. "It wasn't until I got a phone call from Jimmy, who told me - 'Pastor, it looks like we've got a talking dog running around in a new Disney cartoon,' that I even gave this movie a second thought!" Deacon Fred said. "Even the most Bible illiterate Christians know that snakes and donkeys are the only animals God ever allows to talk. So when we hear a dog doin' anything but barkin', it's time to put ourselves on Red Alert for Jesus!"

It only took ten minutes of reading articles on Wikipedia for Christian experts and the head librarian at Landover Baptist to conclude that the movie, Up is quite possibly the most deceptive film ever created and packaged by demons in Hell. "We were shocked by what we found," said Librarian, Ona Mae Moffit. "When I got past the talking dog and saw a boy with an old man and a whole mess of balloons, I immediately thought CATHOLIC (PEDOPHILE) Alert!, Seems I was right."

Baptist experts say that the movie, Up might be just a day in church for a typical Catholic. But for a Baptist, a "True Christian(tm) or any conservative American who thinks twice about putting their children into confined spaces alone with old men (who even wear skirts!), it is a shock! "It wouldn't surprise me that this movie was funded by the Roman Catholic Church!" said Pastor Deacon Fred.

Disney's Up - The Subtle Message of Pedophilia in Hollywood Baptist Child Psychologists, after meeting with Pastor Deacon Fred, agree that if a child sees the movie, Up, he could begin to develop an unhealthy curiosity to seek out the company of old men and eventually join the Catholic Church.


If you are concerned about your child's safety, and have read this informative Christian article about the movie Up, we suggest that before contacting us, one of the first things to look for around your home is an irregular amount of balloons in your child's bedroom. If you find them, it is a sign that Satan may have taken your child by the hand and skipped off together to see the movie, Up without your knowledge. The good news is, you can still save him before he starts asking about where the nearest Catholic church is! Please call your nearest Baptist Church! (we are taking calls 24/7 until this film goes to DVD)! Visit our homepage for more details!
(c) 2009 The Landover Baptist Church

The Gross National Debt

View my page on

Issues & Alibis Vol 9 # 24 (c) 06/26/2009

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