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In This Edition

Digby says, "This Really Is Big Brother: The Leak Nobody's Noticed."

Uri Avnery explains, "When The Gods Laugh."

Glen Ford warns of, "The Lies Of Empire: Don't Believe A Word They Say."

Amy Goodman finds, "The Supreme Court Makes History: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back."

Jim Hightower shows, "A New Home For Poverty In America."

Francis A. Boyle joins us with, "Obama Backs First-Strike Nuclear War As U.S. Policy."

James Donahue asks, "Is It Time For Another American Revolution?"

John Nichols points out that, "Glenn Greenwald Is 'Aiding And Abetting' Democracy."

Robert Scheer examines, "The Good Germans In Government."

Robert Reich reveals, "Why The GOP Can't Learn."

Paul Krugman wonders, "Et Tu, Bernanke?"

David Sirota tells, "A Tale Of Two Presidents."

David Swanson explores a, "Global Rescue Plan."

Tom Riner a Kentucky House member wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Joel S. Hirschhorn returns with, "Pathetic Qualifications Produce Pathetic Presidential Performance."

Norman Solomon watches, "The Pursuit Of Edward Snowden."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Will Durst declares, "Alien No More" but first Uncle Ernie debunks those, "Lies Of The Revolution."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Gary Markstein, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Brian McFadden, Archibald MacNeal Willard, Jacquelyn Martin, The Progress Party, McClatchy.Com, Salon.Com, The Guardian, Peace Corps., Black Agenda Report, Meet The Press, You Tube.Com and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

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

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

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Lies Of The Revolution
By Ernest Stewart

"Frustrated historians often claim that the average American knows almost nothing about the Revolutionary War--and that most of what they do know is wrong. There are so many misconceptions, inaccurate quotes, and downright lies told about the American Revolution that it is hard for those who study the period to share their knowledge with the average person. There's a fine line between sharing what you know and telling someone they are wrong. Funny thing, people don't like to be told they are wrong. During the last election and inauguration I kept finding my jaw on the floor as newscasters stated "facts" that I knew were wrong to millions of unsuspecting viewers. Not one of my helpful e-mails to various news departments got a response or a correction." ~~~ Dan Shippey

"In 1965, the States could be divided into those with a recent history of voting tests and low voter registration and turnout and those without those characteristics. Congress based its coverage formula on that distinction. Today the Nation is no longer divided along those lines, yet the Voting Rights Act continues to treat it as if it were." ~~~ John (the enforcer) Roberts

"The church-state divide is not a line I see. What I do see is an attempt to separate America from its history of perceiving itself as a nation under God." ~~~ Tom Riner, told The New York Times shortly after his law was first challenged in court.

You know, the landlord rang my front door bell.
I let it ring for a long, long spell.
I went to the window,
I peeped through the blind,
And asked him to tell me what's on his mind.
He said,
Money, honey.
Money, honey.
Money, honey, if you want to get along with me.
Money Honey ~~~ Elvis Presley

It's that time of the year again when politicians and pundits crawl out of the woodwork to feed you lies again about the "revolution." I'm not talking about the obvious ones like George Washington never told a lie; "lie" should have been his middle name. Like the lies he told the tribes trying to get them to help him fight the British, and then turned around after the war and became a genocidal maniac, wiping out those same tribes that came to our rescues during the war for their land. Something George learned about during the French and Indian Wars, where George became the richest man in the country by stealing Indian land and selling it to the newbies from Europe.

No, I'm talking about all the "Sons of Liberty" bullshit; you know, the Sons by their regular name: the Boston Chamber of Commerce. They tossed that tea not because of the penny tax the East India company put on it, but because of the East Indian Company -- not the Crown. The revolutions was about our Corporations fighting the British Corporations, just like today where our Corporations are fighting a war just to make a buck. Of course, none of them picked up a rifle and went off to war; they got the working men to fight their war, and just like Obama spouted some song and dance about why we must go kill all those people to bring the few survivors democracy; it's not even a real democracy, but a capitalist democracy. You'll remember that the Constitution was set up as a guarantee that we'd never have a real democracy in this country!

Nope, you get hit in the head with tales of Molly Pitcher -- while in the background there'll be strains of Yankee Doodle (Yankee Doodle came to terms, writing Martin Buber. Stuck a Fuhrer in our back, and called it "Schicklgruber!") while the rockets' red glare blinds you to the reality that the Revolutionary War had nothing to do with a real democracy. Don't believe me; just ask the blacks, the Indians, and women how that worked out for them; play that democracy song and dance on Abigail Adams, and see how it works; go ahead and make my millennium!

No, by all means, drink a six pack of industrial sludge; follow that up with some GMO hot dogs and red slime burgers and a Roundup-coated apple pie. How yummy can it get, eh?

You deserve it all, America: the lies, the mythologies, the poison food and drink; it all goes rather well, hand-in-hand, if you like, with the songs and dances of our phony history. Just remember, America; "Abraham Lincoln didn't die in vain; he died in Washington D.C.," see?

In Other News

The busy bodies on the Extreme Court were at it again this week with a couple of mega-stupid rulings, proving once again when you buy an American politician, whether a Con-gressman, Sinator, President, or Extreme Court Justice, they stay bought -- just as long as you keep those Shekels flowing! A couple of good examples of that were the rulings that said, "If you don't say the magic words when remaining silent, then you lose your constitutional right to not have your silence cross-examined in court." Unless you use this magical phrase, you lose your right to remain silent! Here's what Justice Breyer said in his dissent about how this "novel necessity places a nearly insuperable barrier" to invoking one's right to remain silent. Justice Breyer asked, "How can an individual who is not a lawyer know that these particular words ["I expressly invoke the privilege against self incrimination"] are legally magic?"

Without those magic words, according the 5 Bush/Reagan-appointed stooges the 5th Amendment clause means nothing! Nor does the Miranda warning, as the Extremes ruled back in 1966:

...The person in custody must, prior to interrogation, be clearly informed that he/she has the right to remain silent, and that anything the person says will be used against that person in court; the person must be clearly informed that he/she has the right to consult with an attorney and to have that attorney present during questioning, and that, if he/she is indigent, an attorney will be provided at no cost to represent him/her.

This is, of course, treasonous bullshit!

Then, not to be outdone by that howling act of treason, they compounded their treason when they ruled to overturn the Voting Rights Act, guaranteed to cost the voting rights of tens of millions of Americans, especially blacks, latinos, college students, old folks, and other democratic voters. That, my friends, is a clear act of sedition -- pure and simple. Treason and sedition in one week; that must be some sort of record! Here's the pdf of the ruling, decide for yourself if it's sedition!

But to be fair, they did get two things right this week; they basically overturned the California law outlawing gay marriage by ruling that the private group that brought the appeal had no rights to do so, that only the state could bring that, and since the state wanted no part of the appeal, the lower court's ruling stands. I think one of the reasons behind this ruling was just to piss off the Mormons, whose bigotry you'll recall brought the ballot question to begin with and then poured tens of millions into ads to sway the California Sheeple, who apparently have finally seen the light. If you're wondering why Tony "Light-Fingers" Scalia voted with the majority, perhaps it's in the rumors that he and Clarence "Uncle Tom" Thomas are soon coming out of the closet and plan a June 2014 San Francisco wedding! Just remember, you heard that here first!

Then there was the end of DOMA, slick Willie's attempt to deprive American citizens of their rights. The Defense of Marriage Act, the law barring the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages legalized by the states, is unconstitutional so ruled the court. As Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion:

"The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity. By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment."

At least now there's no federal penalty against some American citizens, now for some there is equal rights. The gay folks in states that don't allow gay marriage are still getting screwed and not in a good way! It's not the end of the fight but a step forward to regain our rights and make one law for everyone. Not some laws for some people but different laws for others. Of course, our corpo-rat overlords are doing all they can to make us all their slaves, so these small victories should really piss them off. He he he!

And Finally

Then there's the strange case of Tom Riner, a Kentucky house member, who in his spare time is a Baptist preacher who wants everyone in the State of Kentucky to believe his brand of mythology, or go to jail for a year. It amounts to a war against Atheists and every religion not certified by Tom, i.e., the American Talabaners, the Baptists. Here's Tom's law, still quite legal in Kentucky despite its obvious unconstitutionality. The law states:

"The safety and security of the Commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon Almighty God as set forth in the public speeches and proclamations of American Presidents, including Abraham Lincoln's historic March 30, 1863, presidential proclamation urging Americans to pray and fast during one of the most dangerous hours in American history, and the text of President John F. Kennedy's November 22, 1963, national security speech which concluded: "For as was written long ago: 'Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.'"

The law requires that plaques celebrating the power of the Almighty God be installed outside the state Homeland Security building, and carries a criminal penalty of up to 12 months in jail if one fails to comply. The plaque's inscription begins with the assertion:

"The safety and security of the Commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon Almighty God."

A practicing Baptist minister, Riner is solely devoted to his faith, even when that directly conflicts with his job as state representative. He's often been at the center of unconstitutional and expensive controversies throughout his 26 years in office. In the last ten years, for example, the state has spent more than $160,000 in a string of losing court cases against the American Civil Liberties Union over the state's decision to display the Ten Commandments in public buildings, legislation that Riner sponsored.

So, I know you know what I did? That's right, I sent a note!

Hey Tom,

Boy did you fuck up. I was reading your bio and somehow you left out laughingstock of the House to your many accomplishments. I see you made it a year in jail for the Office of Homeland Security, if they don't post your traitorous message about your silly mythology. Which one of the 2500 gods we've created are you talking about? I'm guessing Yahweh the Bronze Age god of wandering, barbarian, syphilitic sheep herders. Yes, that's the one I want to be forced to acknowledge, at pain of imprisonment. NOT! What you've crafted is an act of treason to which you should be imprisoned for the rest of your life, so you can't destroy America with your mythological nonsense. I hope you pick up the cost of defending this nonsense when it goes before the Supreme Court; or will the tax payers have to pick up the million dollar tab for your unconstitutional treason, just like they have for your ten commandments boondoggle?! You should add that to your bio, too!

Oh, and by the way, Lincoln also said:

"The Bible is not my book, and Christianity is not my religion. I could never give assent to the long, complicated statements of Christian dogma." ~~~ Abraham Lincoln; a wise man indeed.

Unlike yourself, who is just your typical criminal politician who should be nailed to a tree until you face reality and stop spewing this nonsense for your personal power trip!

Your Atheist Pal,

Ernest Stewart
Managing Editor
Issues & Alibis Magazine
PS. Congratulations, Tom; you've just won the Vidkun Quisling Award! I bet your mama would be proud!

So, if you have any thoughts you'd like to share with Tom, write him at

Or call him toll free - 800-372-7181

If Tom writes me back, I'll share it with you in a future column!

Keepin' On

Got them ole "Mother Hubbard got no bones again, blues!" (In A-minor) Lawdy, lawdy...! Yep, nothing in the till again and time is running out! After this edition, as it stands now, we'll cease publication of the magazine in three more editions. C'est la vie, Problemes Et Excuses Royale!

Unless you could help us out, this will be a blog in a month's time. I'll write a weekly blog, but the other 46 authors will be gone along with most of the cartoons, videos and such and the information they convey. They'll still be out there, Mulder; but some of them are very hard to find! It is, as it has been, since my bank account got emptied, totally up to you, the readership, if we live or die.

Ergo, if you think you get something worthy and worthwhile out of what we do, please help us keep bringing everyone what they really need to know about what's happening. You can always deal with the truth; but in order to survive, you need to know what the truth is. We bring it to you weekly, and have been since February 1, 2001, at absolutely no profit to ourselves, but because it's what we feel we must do for our fellows. If you can dig that, then please go here and follow the instructions. Thanks Ya'll!


01-27-1930 ~ 06-23-2013
Thanks for da blues!


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


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

Until the next time, Peace!
(c) 2013 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for the last 12 years managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. Visit the Magazine's page on Facebook and like us when you do. Follow me on Twitter.

This Really Is Big Brother: The Leak Nobody's Noticed
By Digby

This McClatchy piece (written by some of the same people who got the Iraq war run-up story so right while everyone else got it wrong) is as chilling to me as anything we've heard over the past few weeks about the NSA spying. In fact, it may be worse:

Even before a former U.S. intelligence contractor exposed the secret collection of Americans' phone records, the Obama administration was pressing a government-wide crackdown on security threats that requires federal employees to keep closer tabs on their co-workers and exhorts managers to punish those who fail to report their suspicions.

President Barack Obama's unprecedented initiative, known as the Insider Threat Program, is sweeping in its reach. It has received scant public attention even though it extends beyond the U.S. national security bureaucracies to most federal departments and agencies nationwide, including the Peace Corps, the Social Security Administration and the Education and Agriculture departments. It emphasizes leaks of classified material, but catchall definitions of "insider threat" give agencies latitude to pursue and penalize a range of other conduct.

Government documents reviewed by McClatchy illustrate how some agencies are using that latitude to pursue unauthorized disclosures of any information, not just classified material. They also show how millions of federal employees and contractors must watch for "high-risk persons or behaviors" among co-workers and could face penalties, including criminal charges, for failing to report them. Leaks to the media are equated with espionage.

"Hammer this fact home . . . leaking is tantamount to aiding the enemies of the United States," says a June 1, 2012, Defense Department strategy for the program that was obtained by McClatchy.

When the free free press, explicitly protected in the bill of rights becomes equivalent to an "enemy of the United States" something very, very bad is happening.

The administration says it's doing this to protect national security and that it is willing to protect those who blow the whistle on waste, fraud and abuse. But that is not how the effect of this sort of program is going to be felt. After all, it's being implemented across the federal government, not just in national security:

The program could make it easier for the government to stifle the flow of unclassified and potentially vital information to the public, while creating toxic work environments poisoned by unfounded suspicions and spurious investigations of loyal Americans, according to these current and former officials and experts. Some non-intelligence agencies already are urging employees to watch their co-workers for "indicators" that include stress, divorce and financial problems.

"It was just a matter of time before the Department of Agriculture or the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) started implementing, 'Hey, let's get people to snitch on their friends.' The only thing they haven't done here is reward it," said Kel McClanahan, a Washington lawyer who specializes in national security law. "I'm waiting for the time when you turn in a friend and you get a $50 reward."

The Defense Department anti-leak strategy obtained by McClatchy spells out a zero-tolerance policy. Security managers, it says, "must" reprimand or revoke the security clearances - a career-killing penalty - of workers who commit a single severe infraction or multiple lesser breaches "as an unavoidable negative personnel action."

Employees must turn themselves and others in for failing to report breaches. "Penalize clearly identifiable failures to report security infractions and violations, including any lack of self-reporting," the strategic plan says.

The Obama administration already was pursuing an unprecedented number of leak prosecutions, and some in Congress - long one of the most prolific spillers of secrets - favor tightening restrictions on reporters' access to federal agencies, making many U.S. officials reluctant to even disclose unclassified matters to the public.

The policy, which partly relies on behavior profiles, also could discourage creative thinking and fuel conformist "group think" of the kind that was blamed for the CIA's erroneous assessment that Iraq was hiding weapons of mass destruction, a judgment that underpinned the 2003 U.S. invasion.

I don't know about you, but that does not sound like freedom. In fact, it sounds like something else entirely to me.

This government paranoia and informant culture is about as corrosive to the idea of freedom as it gets. The workplace is already rife with petty jealousies, and singular ambition--- it's a human organization after all. Adding in this sort of incentive structure is pretty much setting up a system for intimidation and abuse.

And, as with all informant systems, especially ones that "profile" for certain behaviors deemed to be a threat to the state, only the most conformist will thrive. It's a recipe for disaster if one is looking for any kind of dynamic, creative thinking. Clearly, that is the last these creepy bureaucrats want.

This is the direct result of a culture of secrecy that seems to be pervading the federal government under president Obama. He is not the first president to expand the national security state, nor is he responsible for the bipartisan consensus on national security or the ongoing influence of the Military Industrial Complex. This, however, is different. And he should be individually held to account for this policy:

Administration officials say the program could help ensure that agencies catch a wide array of threats, especially if employees are properly trained in recognizing behavior that identifies potential security risks.

"If this is done correctly, an organization can get to a person who is having personal issues or problems that if not addressed by a variety of social means may lead that individual to violence, theft or espionage before it even gets to that point," said a senior Pentagon official, who requested anonymity because he wasn't authorized to discuss the issue publicly.

[...] "If the folks who are watching within an organization for that insider threat - the lawyers, security officials and psychologists - can figure out that an individual is having money problems or decreased work performance and that person may be starting to come into the window of being an insider threat, superiors can then approach them and try to remove that stress before they become a threat to the organization," the Pentagon official said.

The program, however, gives agencies such wide latitude in crafting their responses to insider threats that someone deemed a risk in one agency could be characterized as harmless in another. Even inside an agency, one manager's disgruntled employee might become another's threat to national security.

Obama in November approved "minimum standards" giving departments and agencies considerable leeway in developing their insider threat programs, leading to a potential hodgepodge of interpretations. He instructed them to not only root out leakers but people who might be prone to "violent acts against the government or the nation" and "potential espionage."

The Pentagon established its own sweeping definition of an insider threat as an employee with a clearance who "wittingly or unwittingly" harms "national security interests" through "unauthorized disclosure, data modification, espionage, terrorism, or kinetic actions resulting in loss or degradation of resources or capabilities."

"An argument can be made that the rape of military personnel represents an insider threat. Nobody has a model of what this insider threat stuff is supposed to look like," said the senior Pentagon official, explaining that inside the Defense Department "there are a lot of chiefs with their own agendas but no leadership."

The Department of Education, meanwhile, informs employees that co-workers going through "certain life experiences . . . might turn a trusted user into an insider threat." Those experiences, the department says in a computer training manual, include "stress, divorce, financial problems" or "frustrations with co-workers or the organization."

An online tutorial titled "Treason 101" teaches Department of Agriculture and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration employees to recognize the psychological profile of spies.

A Defense Security Service online pamphlet lists a wide range of "reportable" suspicious behaviors, including working outside of normal duty hours. While conceding that not every behavior "represents a spy in our midst," the pamphlet adds that "every situation needs to be examined to determine whether our nation's secrets are at risk."

The Defense Department, traditionally a leading source of media leaks, is still setting up its program, but it has taken numerous steps. They include creating a unit that reviews news reports every day for leaks of classified defense information and implementing new training courses to teach employees how to recognize security risks, including "high-risk" and "disruptive" behaviors among co-workers, according to Defense Department documents reviewed by McClatchy.

"It's about people's profiles, their approach to work, how they interact with management. Are they cheery? Are they looking at or The Onion during their lunch break? This is about 'The Stepford Wives,'" said a second senior Pentagon official, referring to online publications and a 1975 movie about robotically docile housewives. The official said he wanted to remain anonymous to avoid being punished for criticizing the program.

The emphasis on certain behaviors reminded Greenstein of her employee orientation with the CIA, when she was told to be suspicious of unhappy co-workers.

"If someone was having a bad day, the message was watch out for them," she said.

Some federal agencies also are using the effort to protect a broader range of information. The Army orders its personnel to report unauthorized disclosures of unclassified information, including details concerning military facilities, activities and personnel.

The Peace Corps, which is in the midst of implementing its program, "takes very seriously the obligation to protect sensitive information," said an email from a Peace Corps official who insisted on anonymity but gave no reason for doing so.

Granting wide discretion is dangerous, some experts and officials warned, when federal agencies are already prone to overreach in their efforts to control information flow.

The Bush administration allegedly tried to silence two former government climate change experts from speaking publicly on the dangers of global warming. More recently, the FDA justified the monitoring of the personal email of its scientists and doctors as a way to detect leaks of unclassified information.

(c) 2013 Digby is the pseudonym of progressive political blogger Heather Parton from Santa Monica, California who founded the blog Hullabaloo.

When The Gods Laugh
By Uri Avnery

IF THE life of Shimon Peres was a play, it would be difficult to classify. A tragedy? A comedy? A tragicomedy?

For sixty years it looked as if he was under a curse of the Gods, much like the curse of Sisyphus, who was condemned to roll an immense boulder up a hill, and every time he approached his goal the rock would roll down again to the bottom.

Disclosure: our lives have run somehow on parallel lines. He is one month older than I. We both came to Palestine as boys. We have both been in political life from our teens. But there the similarity ends.

We met for the first time 60 years ago, when we were 30 years old. He was the Director General of Israel's most important ministry, I was the publisher and editor of Israel's most aggressive news magazine. We disliked each other on sight.

He was David Ben-Gurion's main assistant, I was Ben-Gurion's main enemy (so defined by his security chief.) From there our paths crossed many times, but we did not become bosom friends.

ALREADY IN his early childhood in Poland, Peres (still Persky) complained that his mates in (Jewish) school beat him up for no reason. His younger brother had to defend him.

When he came to Palestine with his family, he was sent to the legendary children's village Ben Shemen, and joined a kibbutz. But already as a teenager his political acumen was evident. He was an instructor in a socialist youth movement. It split and most of his comrades joined the left-wing faction, which looked more young and dynamic. Peres was one of the few who remained with the ruling party, Mapai, and thereby drew the attention of the senior leaders.

He had to make a much more momentous choice in the 1948 war, a war all of us considered a life-and-death struggle. It was the decisive event in the life of our generation. Almost all the young people hastened to join the fighting units. Not Peres. Ben-Gurion sent him abroad to buy arms - a very important task, but one that could have been carried out by an older person. Peres was considered a shirker at the supreme test and was never forgiven by the 1948ers. Their contempt plagued him for decades.

At the early age of 30 Ben-Gurion appointed him director of the Defense Ministry - a huge advancement, which assured him a rapid rise to the top. And indeed, he played a major role in pushing Ben-Gurion into the 1956 Suez war, in collusion with France and Britain.

The French were struggling with the Algerian war for independence and believed that their real enemy was the Egyptian leader, Gamal Abd-al-Nasser. They got Israel to spearhead an attack to topple him. It was a complete failure.

In my opinion, the war was a political disaster for Israel. It dug the abyss separating our new state from the Arab world. But the French showed their gratitude - they rewarded Peres with the atomic reactor in Dimona.

Throughout this period, Peres was the ultimate hawk, and a central member of a group which my magazine, Haolam Hazeh, branded as "Ben-Gurion's youth gang" - a group we suspected of plotting to assume power by undemocratic means. But before this could happen, Ben-Gurion was kicked out by the old party veterans, and Peres had no choice but to join him in political exile. They formed a new party, Rafi, Peres worked like mad, but in the end they garnered only 10 Knesset seats. Peres and the boulder were back at the bottom.

Redemption came with the Six-day War. On its eve, Rafi was invited to join a National Unity government. But the big prize was snatched by Moshe Dayan, who became Minister of Defense and a world idol. Peres remained in the shadows.

The next opportunity arose after the 1973 Yom Kippur war. Golda Meir and Dayan were pushed out by an incensed public. Peres was the obvious candidate for Prime Minister. But lo and behold, at the last minute Yitzhak Rabin appeared from nowhere and snatched the crown. Peres was left with the Defense Ministry.

The next three years were a continuous story of subversion, with Peres trying by all available means to undermine Rabin. As a part of this effort, he allowed right-wing extremists to establish the first settlement in the heart of the West Bank - Kedumim. He has rightly been called the father of the settlement movement, as he was earlier called the father of the atom bomb.

Rabin coined a phrase that stuck to him: "Tireless Backstabber".

This chapter ended with the "dollar account". Upon leaving his former job as ambassador in Washington, Rabin had left an open account in an American bank. At the time, that was a criminal offense, generally settled with a fine, but Rabin resigned in order to protect his wife.

It was never proved that Peres had a hand in the disclosure, though many suspected it.

AT LONG last, the way was clear. Peres assumed the leadership of the party and ran for elections. The Labor Party was bound to win, as it always had before.

But the Gods only laughed. After 44 years of continuous Labor Party dominance, in the Yishuv and the state, Peres managed to achieve the unthinkable: he lost.

Menachem Begin made peace with Egypt, with Moshe Dayan, Peres' competitor, at his side. Soon afterwards, Begin invaded Lebanon. On the eve of that war, Peres and Rabin visited him and urged him to attack. After the war went wrong, Peres appeared at a huge peace rally and condemned the war.

In the election before that, Peres had a shattering experience. In the evening, after the ballots were closed, Peres was crowned on camera as the next Prime Minister. On the following morning, Israel woke up with Prime Minister Menachem Begin again.

The elections after that ended in a draw. For the first time Peres became Prime Minister, but only under a rotation agreement. When Shamir assumed power, Peres tried to unseat him in a dubious political plot. It failed. Rabin, caustic as ever, called it "the Dirty Exercise".

Peres' unpopularity reached new depths. At election rallies, people cursed him and threw tomatoes. When, at a party event, he posed the rhetorical question: "Am I a loser?" the audience shouted in unison: "Yes!"

To change his luck, he underwent a cosmetic operation to alter his hangdog look. But his lack of grace could not be remedied by a surgeon. Neither could his oratorical skills - this man, who has delivered many tens of thousands of speeches, has never expressed a truly original idea. His speeches consist entirely of political platitudes, helped along by a deep voice, the dream of every politician.

(This, by the way, disproves to me his pretense of having read thousands of books. You cannot really read so many books without a trace of it showing up in your writing and speeches. One of his assistants once confided to me that he prepared resumes of fashionable books for him, to save him the trouble of actually reading before quoting them.)

IN THE meantime, Peres the hawk turned into Peres the peacenik. He had a part to play in achieving the Oslo accord, but it was Rabin who garnered the glory. The same, by the way, had happened before with the daring Entebbe raid, when Peres was Minister of Defense and Rabin Prime Minister.

After Oslo, the Nobel committee was about to award the Peace Prize to Rabin and Arafat. However, immense world-wide pressure was exerted on the committee to include Peres. Since no more than three persons can share the prize, Mahmoud Abbas, who had signed the agreement with Peres, was left out.

The assassination of Rabin was a turning point for Peres. He had been standing near Rabin when the "peace song" was sung. He came down the stairs, when Yigal Amir was waiting below, the loaded pistol in his hand. The murderer let Peres pass and waited for Rabin - another crowning insult.

But, at long last, Peres had achieved his goal. He was Prime Minister. The obvious thing to do was to call immediate elections, posing as the heir of the martyred leader. He would have won by a landslide. But Peres wanted to be elected on his own merit. He postponed the elections.

The results were disastrous. Peres gave the order to assassinate Yahya Ayyash, the "engineer" who had prepared the Hamas bombs. In retaliation, the entire country blew up in a tsunami of suicide bombings. Then Peres invaded South Lebanon, a sure means to gain popularity. But something went wrong, artillery fire caused a massacre of civilians in a UN camp, and the operation came to an inglorious end. Peres lost the elections, Netanyahu came to power.

Later, when the feared Ariel Sharon was elected, Peres offered him his services. He successfully whitewashed Sharon's bloody image in the world.

IN ALL his long political life, Peres never won an election. So he decided to give up party politics and run for president. His victory was assured, certainly against a nondescript Likud functionary like Moshe Katzav. The outcome was again a crowning insult: little Katzav won against the great Peres. (Causing some people to say: "If an election cannot be lost, Peres will lose it anyway!")

But this time the Gods seem to have decided that enough was enough. Katzav was accused of raping his secretaries, the way was clear for Peres. He was elected.

Since then he has been celebrating. The remorseful Gods shower him with favors. The public, which detested him for decades, enveloped him with their love. International celebrities anointed him as one of the world's great.

He could not get enough of it. Hungry for love all his life, he swallowed flattery like a barrel without a bottom. He talked endlessly about "Peace" and the "New Middle East" while doing absolutely nothing to further it. Even TV announcers smiled when they repeated his edifying phrases. In reality he served as a fig leaf for Netanyahu's endless exercises in expansion and sabotaging peace.

The culmination came this Tuesday. Sitting alongside Netanyahu, Peres celebrated his 90th birthday (two months before the real date), surrounded by a plethora of national and international celebrities, basking in their glamor like a teenager. It cost a lot - Bill Clinton alone got half a million dollars for attending.

After all the cruelties they had inflicted on him all his life, the Gods laughed benignly.
(c) 2013 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

The Lies Of Empire: Don't Believe A Word They Say
By Glen Ford

The rulers would have you believe that the world is becoming more complex and dangerous all the time, compelling the United States to abandon previous (and largely fictional) norms of domestic and international legality in order to preserve civilization. In truth, what they are desperately seeking to maintain is the global dominance of U.S. and European finance capital and the racist world order from which it sprang.

The contradictions of centuries have ripened, overwhelming the capacity of the "West" to contain the new forces abroad in the world. Therefore, there must be endless, unconstrained war - endless, in the sense that it is a last ditch battle to fend off the end of imperialism, and unconstrained, in that the imperialists recognize no legal or moral boundaries to their use of military force, their only remaining advantage.

To mask these simple truths, the U.S. and its corporate propaganda services invent counter-realities, scenarios of impending doomsdays filled with super-villains and more armies of darkness than J.R.R. Tolkien could ever imagine. Indeed, nothing is left to the imagination, lest the people's minds wander into the realm of truth or stumble upon a realization of their own self-interest, which is quite different than the destinies of Wall Street or the Project for a New American Century (updated, Obama "humanitarian" version). It is a war of caricatures.

Saddam "must go" - and so he went, along with a million other Iraqis. Gaddafi "must go" - and he soon departed ("We came, we saw, he died," quipped Hillary), along with tens of thousands of Black Libyans marked for extermination. "Assad must go" - but he hasn't left yet, requiring the U.S. and its allies to increase the arms flow to jihadist armies whose mottos translate roughly as "the western infidels must also" Afghanistan's Soviet-aligned government was the first on the U.S. "must go" list to be toppled by the jihadist international network created as a joint venture of the Americans, Saudis and Pakistanis, in the early Eighties - a network whose very existence now requires that Constitutional law "must go" in the American homeland.

Naturally, in order to facilitate all these exits of governments of sovereign states, international law, as we have known it "must go." In its place is substituted the doctrine of "humanitarian" military intervention or "Responsibility to Protect" (R2P), a rehash of the "White Man's Burden" designed to nullify smaller powers' rights to national sovereignty at the whim of the superpower.

The entire continent of Africa has fallen under the R2P umbrella (without ever having fully emerged from the colonial sphere - but, that's the whole point, isn't it?). Somalia achieved a brief period of peace, in 2006, under a broadly based Islamic Courts regime that had defeated an array of warlords backed by the U.S. Washington struck back late that year through its client state, Ethiopia. The Americans invoked both the Islamist enemy and "Responsibility to Protect" to justify an invasion that plunged Somalia into what UN observers called "the worst humanitarian crisis in Africa - worse than Darfur." Eventually, the U.S. enlisted the African Union, itself, as the nominal authority in a CIA-led Somalia mission that has militarized the whole Horn of Africa.

U.S. proxies set off inter-communal bloodletting in Rwanda in 1994, a conflagration that served as pretext for Rwandan and Ugandan invasion of the mineral-rich Democratic Republic of Congo and the loss of six million lives - all under the protection, funding and guidance of a succession of U.S. administrations in mock atonement for the much smaller "genocide" in Rwanda. President Obama sent Special Forces on permanent duty to the region in search of another caricature, Joseph Kony, whose only central casting defect is his rabid Christianity but whose convenient presence in the bush justifies stationing Green Berets in Congo, Uganda, the Central African Republic and South Sudan.

Muammar Gaddafi's exorcism in Libya energized jihadists all across the northern tier of Africa, as far as northern Nigeria, giving a green light to a French colonial renaissance and further expansion of AFRICOM, the U.S. Africa Command. Only five years after its official inception, AFRICOM reigns supreme on the continent, with ties to the militaries of all but two African countries: the nemesis states Eritrea and Zimbabwe. (They "must go," eventually.)

New age Euro-American law holds sway over Africa in the form of the International Criminal Court. The Court's dockets are reserved for Africans, whose supposed civilizational deficits monopolize the global judiciary's resources. This, too, is R2P, in robes.

Back in Syria, the reluctant domino, blood samples taken from alleged victims of chemical weapons are sent to the Americans by jihadists in their employ to prove that Assad really, really, must go. Obama announces that he is going to do what he has actually been doing for a very long time: send weapons to the "rebels." The Washington Post, forgetting its duty to follow the administration's scripted timelines, reports that the decision to go public about arms transfers to jihadists was made two weeks before the "proof" arrived.

The lies become jumbled and are quickly superseded by new fictions to justify no-fly, but the targeted caricatures remain front and center, to be hooted and hollered over, once dead. It is only the lies that make these situations seem complex: the lies that cover up multiple U.S. genocides in Africa, to paint a canvas of humanitarian concern, when the simple truth is that the Americans and Europeans have established military dominion over the continent for their own greedy purposes. The lies that have attempted to camouflage a succession of brazen aggressions against unoffending secular Arab governments in order to remove any obstacles to U.S. domination of North Africa and the Near East. And, the lie that has become central to the U.S. global offensive since 9/11: that the U.S. is engaged in a global war against armed jihadists. In fact, the jihadists are American-contracted foot soldiers in an Arab world in which the U.S. is hated by the people at-large. Washington was the Godfather of international jihadism, its sugar daddy since at least the early Eighties in Afghanistan - and now, once again quite openly so in Syria as in Libya, at least for the time being.

The simple truth is, the U.S. is at war for continued hegemony over the planet, for the preservation of the imperial system and its finance capitalist rulers. In such a war, everyone, everywhere is a potential enemy, including the home population.

That's why Bradley Manning and Julian Assange and, now, Edward Snowden are considered so dangerous; because they undermine popular consent for the government's lies-based policies. The administration has sent its operatives to Capital Hill and all the corporate pseudo-journalistic outlets to explain how its mega-data mining of phones and the Internet has prevented "potential terrorist events over 50 times since 9/11," including at least 10 "homeland-based threats," as mouthed by National Security Agency chief Gen. Keith Alexander. The details are, of course, secret.

However, what we do know about U.S. domestic "terror" spying is enough to dismiss the whole premise for the NSA's vast algorithmic enterprises. The actual "terrorist" threat on U.S. soil is clearly relatively slight. Otherwise, why would the FBI have to manufacture homegrown jihadists by staging elaborate stings of homeless Black men in Miami who couldn't put together bus fare to Chicago, much less bomb the Sears tower? Why must they entice and entrap marginal people with no capacity for clandestine warfare, and no previous inclination, into schemes to bomb synagogues and shoot down military aircraft, as in Newburgh, New York? Why this steady stream of government-invented terror, if the real thing is so abundant? If the FBI, with NSA assistance, is discovering significant numbers of real terrorists, wouldn't we be watching a corresponding number of triumphal perp-walks? Of course we would. The only logical conclusion is that terror is a near-negligible domestic threat, wholly unsuited to the NSA's full-spectrum spying on virtually every American.

So, what are they looking for? Patterns. Patterns of thought and behavior that algorithmically reveal the existence of cohorts of people that might, as a group, or a living network, create problems for the State in the future. People who do not necessarily know each other, but whose patterns of life make them potentially problematic to the rulers, possibly in some future crisis, or some future manufactured crisis. A propensity to dissent, for example. The size of these suspect cohorts, these pattern-based groups, can be as large or small as the defining criteria inputted by the programmer. So, what kind of Americans would the programmers be interested in?

Ask Edward Snowden. He's the only one talking.
(c) 2013 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

The Supreme Court Makes History: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back
By Amy Goodman

The U.S. Supreme Court announced three historic 5-4 decisions this week. In the first, a core component of the Voting Rights Act was gutted, enabling Southern states to enact regressive voting laws that will likely disenfranchise the ever-growing number of voters of color. The second pair of cases threw out the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the legal travesty that defined marriage in federal law as only between a man and a woman, and effectively overturned California's Prop 8, which bans same-sex marriage. For those who struggle for equality and civil rights, these three decisions mark one brutal defeat and two stunning victories.

"What the court did ... is stab the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in its very heart," Georgia Congressman John Lewis said of Tuesday's decision. "It is a major setback. We may not have people being beaten today. Maybe they're not being denied the right to participate or to register to vote. They're not being chased by police dogs or trampled by horses. But in the 11 states of the old Confederacy, and even in some of the states outside of the South, there's been a systematic, deliberate attempt to take us back to another period."

Lewis is the 73-year-old dean of the Georgia congressional delegation. As a young man, he led the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and was the youngest speaker to address the March on Washington 50 years ago. He recently recalled a signal moment in that struggle, appearing on the "Democracy Now!" news hour:

"On March 7, 1965, a group of us attempted to march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, to dramatize to the nation that people wanted to register to vote. ... In Selma, Alabama, in 1965, only 2.1 percent of blacks of voting age were registered to vote. The only place you could attempt to register was to go down to the courthouse. You had to pass a so-called literacy test. And they would tell people over and over again that they didn't or couldn't pass the literacy test."

What happened to those marchers as they tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge into Selma has entered the canon of American protest history. Lewis continued: "We got to the top of the bridge. We saw a sea of blue-Alabama state troopers-and we continued to walk. We came within hearing distance of the state troopers ... you saw these guys putting on their gas masks. They came toward us, beating us with nightsticks and bullwhips, trampling us with horses. I was hit in the head by a state trooper with a nightstick. I had a concussion at the bridge. My legs went out from under me. I felt like I was going to die. I thought I saw Death."

Lewis had his head bashed in, and was one of 17 seriously injured that day. He recovered and continued the struggle. Months later, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law.

Throughout his career, John Lewis has forged a solid record of fighting for civil rights-not just for African-Americans, but for all who suffer discrimination.

Which brings us to the second key decision this week from the Supreme Court. The court ruled unconstitutional the Defense of Marriage Act, which federally defined marriage as between a man and a woman. Backing that up was another 5-4 decision that essentially overturns California's notorious Prop 8, which banned same-sex marriage. Soon, it will be legal for gay and lesbian couples to marry in the most populous state in the country.

Back when DOMA was being debated in 1996, with President Bill Clinton championing it and with bipartisan support in Congress, John Lewis spoke out against it with the same passion he showed in the struggle for voting rights. Lewis said then, on the floor of the House: "This bill is a slap in the face of the Declaration of Independence. It denies gay men and women the right of liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Marriage is a basic human right. You cannot tell people they cannot fall in love. I will not turn my back on another American. I will not oppress my fellow human being. I fought too hard and too long against discrimination based on race and color not to stand up against discrimination based on sexual orientation." After this week's DOMA decision, he reiterated, "It's better to love than to hate."

For John Lewis, human rights cannot be compromised, they are indivisible. Following his lead, people should channel the joy they feel for the marriage equality victories today to a renewed struggle for voting rights, for equality for all.
(c) 2013 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 and "Breaking The Sound Barrier."

A New Home For Poverty In America

It's been nearly 50 years since poverty in America was a front-burner issue on our nation's political agenda - and it's time to move it up again.

Even as those at the top of our society have grown fabulously richer in the past decade, those in the economic middle have seen incomes stagnate and fall, opportunities decline, and poverty become not about someone else, but about them. Numbers that were not even imaginable half a century ago are now our cold reality - 50 million poor people, 51 million more who are "near poor," almost one-in-four children under five years old living in poverty, and no sign of this mass decline decelerating.

The face of American poverty, however, has changed somewhat. In the sixties, the poor had largely been born into it and were out of most people's sight - tucked away in backwater rural counties and isolated urban ghettos. This kind of poverty persists, but today's big jump in numbers comes from families that have been knocked down from a middle-class life - dismayed to find themselves among the long-term unemployed, grabbing at temporary low-paying jobs, and buying meager groceries with food stamps.

These are the new poor, but they also constitute a new demographic phenomenon: The suburban poor. Once the secure base of the middle-class, suburbs have become the fastest-growing home of American poverty. Since 2000, the number of suburban poor has surged by 64 percent, twice the rate of urban poor. By 2011, America's suburbs held three million more poor people than were in our core cities.

American poverty is no longer about "them," but us - people in our own close circles, living where we live. To learn more about it in your area, check out a new report by the Brookings Institution, titled "Confronting Suburban Poverty in America"
(c) 2013 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.

Obama Backs First-Strike Nuclear War As U.S. Policy
By Francis A. Boyle

I have now had the chance to read Obama's Report on Nuclear Employment Strategy of the United States, that just came out on Friday, June 21, 2013. The critical passage can be found on page 5:

"The 2010 Nuclear Posture Review established the Administration's goal to set conditions that would allow the United States to safely adopt a policy of making deterrence of nuclear attack the sole purpose of U.S. nuclear weapons. Although we cannot adopt such a policy today, the new guidance re-iterates the intention to work towards that goal over time."

In other words, "nuclear deterrence" is not now and has not been the policy of the Obama administration going back to and including their 2010 Nuclear Posture Review as well. Since "nuclear deterrence" is not now and has never been the Obama administration's nuclear weapons policy from the get-go, then by default this means that offensive first-strike strategic nuclear war fighting is now and has always been the Obama administration's nuclear weapons policy. This policy will also be pursued and augmented by means of "integrated non-nuclear strike options." Id.

Therefore the entire 2013 NPR and Obama's recent nuclear arms "reduction" proposals must be understood within this context of the United States pursuing an offensive, strategic first-strike nuclear war-fighting capability as augmented by non-nuclear strike forces:

"After a comprehensive review of our nuclear forces, the President has determined that we can ensure the security of the United States and our Allies and partners and maintain a strong and credible strategic deterrent while safely pursuing a one-third reduction in deployed nuclear weapons from the level established in the New START Treaty." Id. at 6.

And we know now for sure that all the Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) systems that Obama is currently in the process of deploying in Europe, Asia, and the United States, on land, at sea and perhaps in Outer Space are designed to provide the United States with a strategic, offensive, first strike nuclear war fighting capability against Russia and China and Iran and North Korea and Syria for starters. The latter three because the United States has taken the position that they are not in compliance with their obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty: "...the United States has relied increasingly on non-nuclear elements to strengthen regional security architectures, including a forward U.S. conventional presence and effective theater ballistic missile defenses..." Id. at 9.

So the United States government is currently preparing to launch, wage and win an offensive, first-strike strategic nuclear war against Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and Syria. All the rest is just palaver. Including by our Dissembler-in-Chief. An "honors" graduate of Harvard Law School.
(c) 2013 Francis A Boyle is the author of "The Criminality of Nuclear Deterrence."

Is It Time For Another American Revolution?
By James Donahue

As American's prepare for another celebration of Independence Day there seems to be a shallow understanding of just why the day is marked as a special holiday.

Yes, we all know that July 4, 1776 marked the day the New England colonies signed the Declaration of Independence, thus declaring the 13 colonies independent from British rule. What few people know is that the Revolutionary War, which lasted from 1775 to 1783, started with British troops attempting to get the 13 American Colonies in line, but ended up expanding to a world war between Britain and not only the new United States but France, the Netherlands and Spain.

Among the sparks that ignited the war was the Boston Tea Party event on the night of December 16, 1773, when a rebel group known as the Sons of Liberty in protest of a tax policy imposed against the colonies by the British Government and the then powerful East India Trading Company, boarded three British ships in Boston harbor and tossed their cargo of mostly tea overboard.

In what American historians must consider an insult to supporters of that brave and historic event, an ultra-conservative protest group operating since 2009 has been calling itself the Tea Party Movement. The group is promoting strict adherence to the Constitution, reducing U. S. government spending and taxes, reducing the national debt and the federal deficit. While the objectives sound good, the supporters elected to Congressional seats have succeeded in blocking efforts by the Obama Administration to rebuild a foundering national economy, launch the reconstruction of an outdated and failing infrastructure and create badly needed jobs for the unemployed masses.

Instead of doing what is best for the American people, the Conservative Republicans, influenced by the Tea Party members, oppose raising taxes on the big corporations and wealthy Americans, and support pouring federal dollars into military hardware. Not only are the corporations being allowed to escape taxation, in spite of large yearly profits, they are being supported by big government subsidies at taxpayer expense.

It is common knowledge that our state and federal elected leaders are receiving large financial support from these same corporations during election campaigns. Lobbyists also flutter through the halls of Congress with lots of cash to pass into the pockets of those same elected officials. It seems as if the rule is: "the people be damned....protect our jobs and all of the benefits that come along with them."

Because our schools no longer place an emphasis on American history, few people know that the Boston Tea Party rebellion was a public protest against this same kind of corruption occurring in England in the years preceding the revolution. Historian Thom Hartmann, in his book "Unequal Protection," notes that the action in Boston harbor was "a revolt against unfair trade and tax policies the Empire had bestowed upon the British East India Trading Company. The East India Company had strong links to Parliament, which kept lawmakers in its pockets."

Does this sound familiar? Indeed, it was trade dominance by the East India Company that aroused the passions of the Sons of Liberty and brought about the raid on the ships anchored in Boston harbor. That year, virtually all members of the British parliament were stockholders in the East India Company, many had made personal fortunes through this investment, and the company was pouring generous amounts of money into election campaigns, according to Hartmann.

Have we not allowed the nation to founder into the same old game of corruption that leads to the wealth of a few at the expense of the working masses? This is why, after the revolution and the formation of the United States as a sovereign nation, most of the states had laws on the books declaring any political contributions by a corporation a criminal offense. Corporations were given lifespans of 20 to 30 years, thus stripping them of any chance to gain political power.

These laws have been eroding over the years. When the Supreme Court gave corporations personhood and "free speech" rights in the Citizens United ruling of 2010, it broke down all of the blocks preventing corporate controls of the nation.

This erosion has been slowly going on almost since the beginnings. Abraham Lincoln expressed concern when he said: "The money powers prey upon the nation in times of peace and conspire against it in times of adversity. It is more despotic than a monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, and more selfish than bureaucracy. It denounces as public enemies, all who question its methods or throw light upon its crimes.

"I have two great enemies, the Southern Army in front of me and the Bankers in the rear. Of the two, the one at my rear is my greatest foe . . . corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money powers of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until the wealth is aggregated in the hands of a few, and the Republic is destroyed." If Lincoln saw it coming, why didn't the others? We suspect they were willing to just let it happen. (c) 2013 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles. He currently produces daily articles for this web site

Glenn Greenwald Is 'Aiding And Abetting' Democracy
By John Nichols

Imagine if the Sunday morning talk shows had existed in 1776.

Surely, they would have welcomed the most widely read and provocative journalist of that historic year.

Perhaps the hosts would have asked Tom Paine if he felt that by penning articles calling out the hypocrisy of colonial officials-and incendiary pamphlets such as Common Sense-he was "aiding and abetting" the revolutionaries that King George III imagined to be "traitors."

An intimidating question, to be sure.

Too intimidating, determined the founders of the American experiment.

After Paine's compatriots prevailed in their revolutionary endeavor, they wrote into the Bill of Rights a protection of the ability of a free press to speak truth to power, to call out and challenge the machinations of those in government.

Unfortunately, this history is sometimes lost on contemporary Washington.

So it was that when Glenn Greenwald appeared Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press to discuss his reporting on leaks detailing National Security Agency programs that monitor phone calls and digital communications, he was asked whether he was the bad guy.

NBC's David Gregory initially asked Greenwald to discuss the whereabouts of Edward Snowden, a source of the leaks. Greenwald recounted the reported details of Snowden's transit from Hong Kong and spoke at length about his own reporting on the NSA and violations of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. He returned, repeatedly, to the fundamental issues that are at stake, arguing that Snowden "learned of wrongdoing and exposed it so we could have a democratic debate about the spying system, do we really want to put people like that in prison for life when all they're doing is telling us as citizens what our political officials are doing in the dark?"

Then Gregory asked: "To the extent that you have aided and abetted Snowden, even in his current movements, why shouldn't you, Mr. Greenwald, be charged with a crime?"

Greenwald countered with a suggestion that Gregory had embraced a theory-advanced by the Department of Justice in its investigation of Fox correspondent James Rosen-that journalists who report on leaks might be considered co-conspirators with those who reveal classified information.

"I think it's pretty extraordinary that anybody who would call themselves a journalist would publicly muse about whether or not other journalists should be charged with felonies. The assumption in your question, David, is completely without evidence, the idea that I've aided and abetted him in anyway," argued Greenwald, who worked as a constitutional lawyer before he began writing about threats to essential liberties. "The scandal that arose in Washington before our stories began was about the fact that the Obama administration is trying to criminalize investigative journalism by going through the e-mails and phone records of AP reporters, accusing a Fox News journalist of the theory that you just embraced, being a co-conspirator with felony-in felonies for working with sources. If you want to embrace that theory, it means that every investigative journalist in the United States who works with their sources, who receives classified information is a criminal, and it's precisely those theories and precisely that climate that has become so menacing in the United States. That's why The New Yorker's Jane Mayer said investigative reporting has come to a standstill, her word, as a result of the theories that you just referenced."

Gregory backed off, saying, "That question has been raised by lawmakers as well. I'm not embracing anything, but, obviously, I take your point."

At the same time, however, Gregory suggested that "the question of who is a journalist may be up to a debate with regard to what you are doing."

By any reasonable measure, Greenwald is a journalist. While most of his work in the United States has been online, he is associated with Britain's venerable Guardian newspaper. Yet, even if he had no such association, even if he was a freelance blogger who had not published widely hailed books on civil liberties, Greenwald would qualify for the protections afforded by the First Amendment. He is, after all, an American writer following stories about what the US government does in our name but without our informed consent. That's a classic journalistic endeavor, as is protecting a source.

Gregory is also a journalist. He can and should ask probing questions. He should stir things up, even if that upsets or provokes guests-including Greenwald. What was problematic was the approach, which seemed to go at the task backwards. Instead of providing context-by noting that lawmakers had been griping about Greenwald, or even by referencing the Department of Justice inquiry that targeted Rosen-Gregory simply popped the "aiding and abetting" question.

Only when Greenwald challenged him did the host respond with context.

That's troubling, because we are at a stage where contemporary and historical context are desperately needed. There is too little understanding today that the freedom of the press protection outlined in the First Amendment is not a privilege provided to reporters-it is a tool established by the founders so that citizens would have access to the information they need to be their own governors.

Criminalizing investigative reporting may undermine and intimidate journalism, but it is even more devastating to democracy. Thomas Jefferson got it right when told John Jay, "Our liberty cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press, nor that be limited without danger of losing it."

Jefferson's friend and comrade, Tom Paine argued similarly that citizens must be informed in order to be free. Paine saw the free flow of information and ideas-especially controversial information and ideas-as the essential tool for shifting power from the elites to the people. "A nation under a well regulated government, should permit none to remain uninstructed," he observed in The Rights of Man. "It is monarchical and aristocratical government only that requires ignorance for its support."

Jefferson, Paine and their contemporaries often griped about the newspapers of their day. But they recognized, correctly, that the chains of ignorance had to be broken. They supported a free and freewheeling press as an underpinning of democracy in their day. As we should in ours.
(c) 2013 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His new book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, has just been published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., speaks to the media.

The Good Germans In Government
By Robert Scheer

What a disgrace. The U.S. government, cheered on by much of the media, launches an international manhunt to capture a young American whose crime is that he dared challenge the excess of state power. Read the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and tell me that Edward Snowden is not a hero in the mold of those who founded this republic. Check out the Nuremberg war crime trials and ponder our current contempt for the importance of individual conscience as a civic obligation.

Yes, Snowden has admitted that he violated the terms of his employment at Booz Allen Hamilton, which has the power to grant security clearances as well as profiting mightily from spying on the American taxpayers who pay to be spied on without ever being told that is where their tax dollars are going. Snowden violated the law in the same way that Daniel Ellsberg did when, as a RAND Corporation employee, he leaked the damning Pentagon Papers study of the Vietnam War that the taxpayers had paid for but were not allowed to read.

In both instances, violating a government order was mandated by the principle that the United States trumpeted before the world in the Nuremberg war crime trials of German officers and officials. As Principle IV of what came to be known as the Nuremberg Code states: "The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him."

That is a heavy obligation, and the question we should be asking is not why do folks like Ellsberg, Snowden and Bradley Manning do the right thing, but rather why aren't we bringing charges against the many others with access to such damning data of government malfeasance who remain silent?

Is there an international manhunt being organized to bring to justice Dick Cheney, the then-vice president who seized upon the pain and fear of 9/11 to make lying to the public the bedrock of American foreign policy? This traitor to the central integrity of a representative democracy dares condemn Snowden as a "traitor" and suggest that he is a spy for China because he took temporary refuge in Hong Kong.

The Chinese government, which incidentally does much to finance our massive military budget, was embarrassed by the example of Snowden and was quick to send him on his way. Not so ordinary folk in Hong Kong, who clearly demonstrated their support of the man as an exponent of individual conscience.

So too did Albert Ho, who volunteered his considerable legal skills in support of Snowden, risking the ire of Hong Kong officials. Ho, whom The New York Times describes as "a longtime campaigner for full democracy [in Hong Kong], to the irritation of government leaders of the territory," is an example of the true democrats around the world who support Snowden, contradicting Cheney's smear.

But U.S. Democrats have also been quick to join the shoot-the-messenger craze, ignoring the immense significance of Snowden's revelations. Take Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California. Fool me once and shame on her, fool me dozens of times, as Feinstein has, and I feel like a blithering idiot having voted for her. After years of covering up for the intelligence bureaucracy, Feinstein is now chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and clearly for some time has been in a position to know the inconvenient truths that Snowden and others before him have revealed.

Did she know that the NSA had granted Booz Allen Hamilton such extensive access to our telephone and Internet records? Did she grasp that the revolving door between Booz Allen and the NSA meant that this was a double-dealing process involving high officials swapping out between the government and the war profiteers? Did she know that the security system administered by Booz Allen was so lax that young Snowden was given vast access to what she now feels was very sensitive data? Or that private companies like Booz Allen were able to hand out "top security" clearances to their employees, and that there now are 1.4 million Americans with that status?

As with her past cover-ups of government lying going back to the phony weapons of mass destruction claims made to justify the Iraq War, Feinstein, like so many in the government, specializes in plausible deniability. She smugly assumes the stance of the all-knowing expert on claimed intelligence success while pretending to be shocked at the egregious failures. She claims not to have known of the extent of the invasion of our privacy and at the same time says she is assured that the information gained "has disrupted plots, prevented terrorist attacks. ..." If so, why did she not come clean with the American public and say this is what we are doing to you and why?

Instead, Feinstein failed horribly in the central obligation of a public servant to inform the public and now serves as prosecutor, judge and jury in convicting Snowden hours after his name was in the news: "He violated the oath, he violated the law. It's treason," she said.

Treason is a word that dictators love to hurl at dissidents, and when both Cheney and Feinstein bring it back into favor, you know that courageous whistle-blowers like Snowden are not the enemy.
(c) 2013 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.

Why The GOP Can't Learn
By Robert Reich

It's as if they didn't learn a thing from the 2012 elections. Republicans are on the same suicide mission as before - - trying to block immigration reform (if they can't scuttle it in the Senate, they're ready to in the House), roll back the clock on abortion rights (they're pushing federal and state legislation to ban abortions after the first 22 weeks), and stop gay marriage wherever possible.

As almost everyone knows by now, this puts them the wrong side of history. America is becoming more ethnically diverse, women are gaining economic and political power, and young people are more socially libertarian than ever before.

Why can't Republicans learn?

It's no answer to say their "base" -ever older, whiter, more rural and male -won't budge. The Democratic Party of the 1990s simply ignored its old base and became New Democrats, spearheading a North American Free Trade Act (to the chagrin of organized labor), performance standards in classrooms (resisted by teachers' unions) and welfare reform and crime control (upsetting traditional liberals).

The real answer is the Republican base is far more entrenched, institutionally, than was the old Democratic base. And its power is concentrated in certain states -most of the old Confederacy plus Arizona, Alaska, Indiana, and Wisconsin -which together exert more of a choke-hold on the Republican national party machinery than the old Democrats, spread widely but thinly over many states, exerted on the Democratic Party.

These Republican states are more homogenous and conspicuously less like the rest of America than the urbanized regions of the country that are growing more rapidly. Senators and representatives from these states naturally reflect the dominant views of their constituents -on immigration, abortion, and gay marriage, as well as guns, marijuana, race, and dozens of other salient issues. But these views are increasingly out of step with where most of the nation is heading.

This state-centered, relatively homogenous GOP structure effectively prevents the Party from changing its stripes. Despite all the post-election rhetoric about the necessity for change emanating from GOP leaders who aspire to the national stage, the national stage isn't really what the GOP is most interested in or attuned to. It's directed inward rather than outward, to its state constituents rather than to the nation.

This structure also blocks any would-be "New Republicans" such as Chris Christie from gaining the kind of power inside the party that a New Democrat like Bill Clinton received in 1992. The only way they'd be able to attract a following inside the Party would be to commit themselves to policies they'd have to abandon immediately upon getting nominated, as Mitt Romney did with disastrous results.

It's true that by 1992 Democrats were far more desperate to win the presidency -having been in the wilderness for twelve years -than today's GOP appears to be. Nonetheless it's doubtful the GOP will be willing to eschew its old base even if it loses the presidency again in 2016, because without its collection of relatively homogenous states, there just isn't much of a GOP.

The greater likelihood is a steady eclipse of the Republican Party at the national level, even as it becomes more entrenched in particular states. Those states can be expected to become regressive islands of backwardness within a nation growing steadily more progressive.

The GOP's national role will be primarily negative -seeking to block, delay, and filibuster measures that will eventually become the law of the land in any event, while simultaneously preaching "states' rights" and praying for conservative majorities on the Supreme Court.
(c) 2013 Robert Reich is Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written twelve books, including The Work of Nations, Locked in the Cabinet, and his most recent book, Supercapitalism. His "Marketplace" commentaries can be found on and iTunes.

Ben gives the corpo-rat salute!

Et Tu, Bernanke?
By Paul Krugman

For the most part, Ben Bernanke and his colleagues at the Federal Reserve have been good guys in these troubled economic times. They have tried to boost the economy even as most of Washington seemingly either forgot about the jobless, or decided that the best way to cure unemployment was to intensify the suffering of the unemployed. You can argue - and I would - that the Fed's activism, while welcome, isn't enough, and that it should be doing even more. But at least it didn't lose sight of what's really important.

Until now.

Lately, Fed officials have been issuing increasingly strong hints that rather than doing more, they want to do less, that they are eager to start "tapering," returning to normal monetary policy. The impression that the Fed is tired of trying so hard got even stronger last week, after a news conference in which Mr. Bernanke seemed quite happy to reinforce the message of an imminent reduction in stimulus.

The trouble is that this is very much the wrong signal to be sending given the state of the economy. We're still very much living through what amounts to a low-grade depression - and the Fed's bad messaging reduces the chances that we're going to exit that depression any time soon.

The first thing you need to understand is how far we remain from full employment four years after the official end of the 2007-9 recession. It's true that measured unemployment is down - but that mainly reflects a decline in the number of people actively seeking jobs, rather than an increase in job availability. Look, for example, at the fraction of adults in their prime working years (25 to 54) who have jobs; that ratio fell from 80 to 75 percent in the recession, and has since recovered only to 76 percent.

Given this grim reality - plus very low inflation - you have to wonder why the Fed is talking at all about reducing its efforts on the economy's behalf.

Still, it's just talk, right? Well, yes - but what the Fed says often matters as much as or more than what it does. This is inherent in the relationship between what the Fed more or less directly controls, namely short-term interest rates, and longer-term rates, which reflect expected as well as current short-term rates. Even if the Fed leaves short rates unchanged for now, statements that convince investors that these rates will be going up sooner rather than later will cause long rates to rise. And because long rates are what mainly matter for private spending, this will weaken growth and employment.

Sure enough, rates have shot up since the tapering talk started. Two months ago the benchmark interest rate on 10-year U.S. government bonds was only 1.7 percent, close to a historic low. Since then the rate has risen to 2.4 percent - still low by normal standards, but, as I said, this isn't a normal economy. Maybe the economic recovery will, as the Fed predicts, continue and strengthen despite that increase in rates. But maybe not, and in any case higher rates will surely mean a slower recovery than we would have had if Fed officials had avoided all that talk of tapering.

Fed officials surely understand all of this. So what do they think they're doing?

One answer might be that the Fed has quietly come to agree with critics who argue that its easy-money policies are having damaging side-effects, say by increasing the risk of bubbles. But I hope that's not true, since whatever damage low rates may do is trivial compared with the damage higher rates, and the resulting rise in unemployment, would inflict.

In any case, my guess is that what's really happening is a bit different: Fed officials are, consciously or not, responding to political pressure. After all, ever since the Fed began its policy of aggressive monetary stimulus, it has faced angry accusations from the right that it is "debasing" the dollar and setting the stage for high inflation - accusations that haven't been retracted even though the dollar has remained strong and inflation has remained low. It's hard to avoid the suspicion that Fed officials, worn down by the constant attacks, have been looking for a reason to slacken their efforts, and have seized on slightly better economic news as an excuse.

And maybe they'll get away with it; maybe the economic recovery will strengthen and all will be well. But rising interest rates make that happy outcome less likely. And now that everyone knows that the Fed is eager to slacken off, it will be hard to get interest rates back down to where they were.

It's sad and depressing, in both senses of the word. The fundamental reason our economy is still depressed after all these years is that so many policy makers lost the thread, forgetting that job creation was their most urgent task. Until now the Fed was an exception; but now it seems to be joining the club. Et tu, Ben?
(c) 2013 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

"Big Brother in the form of an increasingly powerful government and in an increasingly powerful private sector will pile the records high with reasons why privacy should give way to national security."
~~~ William O. Douglas

A Tale Of Two Presidents
Recent leaks reveal a frightening reality: In fighting terrorism, we have resorted to engaging in terrorism
By David Sirota

This is a tale of two presidents - the one we hope we have and the one we actually have. It is also a tale of two kinds of violence - the surgical and the indiscriminate - and how the latter blurs the distinction between self-defense and something far more sinister.

This story began last year, when the White House told the New York Times that President Obama was personally overseeing a "kill list" and an ongoing drone bombing campaign against alleged terrorists, including American citizens. Back then, much of the public language was carefully crafted to reassure us that our country's military power was not being abused.

In the Times' report - which was carefully sculpted by Obama administration leaks - the paper characterized the bombing program as "targeted killing" with "precision weapons." It additionally described "the care that Mr. Obama and his counterterrorism chief take in choosing targets" and claimed that as "a student of writings on war by Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, the president believes that he should take moral responsibility" for making sure such strikes are as precise as possible.

The unstated deal being offered to America was simple: Accept a president claiming unprecedented despotic authority in exchange for that president promising to comport himself as an enlightened despot - one who seeks to limit the scope of America's ongoing violence.

Many of the president's partisan supporters would never have agreed to such a bargain if the executive in question were a Republican. They would have expressed outrage at news that, according to the Times, the president was "count(ing) all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants" even when those males happen to be innocent civilians. But because it was a Democratic commander in chief, many liberals tacitly agreed to the deal, reassuring themselves that this was a president who would only use violence in the most narrow ways.

That, though, brings us to the second part of this parable - the part that unfolded earlier this month when blood-soaked reality crashed the myth. In this latter chapter, we learned that the president isn't personally overseeing "targeted" killing - he is evidently overseeing indiscriminate killing.

That was the key discovery in NBC News correspondent Richard Engel's report finding that "the CIA did not always know who it was targeting and killing in drone strikes" approved by the president. Employing so-called "signature strikes," the president has been authorizing the assassination of people "based on their patterns of behavior" according to Engel - that is, based simply on where a person "meets individuals, makes phone calls and sends emails." In all, the identities of up to a quarter of those assassinated were unknown at the time that the president's drone strikes went forward.

The deep-thinking moralist that we were told was in the White House might look at this and worry that in fighting terrorism we have resorted to engaging in terrorism. After all, deliberately killing people without regard for their identity seems like an effort to terrorize a whole population. Indeed, as this week's stunning new video series by documentarian Robert Greenwald illustrates, such violence seems eerily similar to the kind of terrorism that our government publicly decries.

But, then, that's this saga's big reveal. In embracing such tactics, this parable's main character shows that he probably isn't the pious Aquinas-loving saint his aides present him as and that many hoped he would be. This story instead increasingly looks like a cautionary tale about a wholly unenlightened authoritarian who displays little concern about which particular lives he is choosing to end.

This, of course, is not a particularly new or unique story. It is, in fact, the oldest story in human history: the story of how power corrupts and how absolute power corrupts absolutely.
(c) 2013 David Sirota is a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist, magazine journalist and the best-selling author of "Hostile Takeover" and "The Uprising." He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado and blogs at E-mail him at David Sirota is a former spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee. Follow him on Twitter @davidsirota .

Global Rescue Plan
By David Swanson

When the wealthy nations of the world meet as the G8 or in any other gathering, it's interesting to imagine what they would do if they followed the golden rule, valued grandchildren, disliked unnecessary suffering, or wished to outgrow ancient forms of barbarism, or any combination of those.

The United States alone is perfectly capable, if it chooses, of enacting a global marshall plan, or -- better -- a global rescue plan. Every year the United States spends, through various governmental departments, roughly $1.2 trillion on war and war preparations. Every year the United States foregoes well over $1 trillion in taxes that billionaires and centimillionaires and corporations should be paying.

If we understand that out-of-control military spending is making us less safe, rather than more -- just as Eisenhower warned and so many current experts agree -- it is clear that reducing military spending is a critical end in itself. If we add to that the understanding that military spending hurts, rather than helping, economic well-being, the imperative to reduce it is that much clearer.

If we understand that wealth in the United States is concentrated at medieval levels and that this concentration is destroying representative government, social cohesion, morality in our culture, and the pursuit of happiness for millions of people, it is clear that taxing extreme wealth and income are critical ends in themselves.

Still missing from our calculation is the unimaginably huge consideration of what we are not now doing but easily could do. It would cost us $30 billion per year to end hunger around the world. We just spent nearly $90 billion for another year of the "winding down" war on Afghanistan. Which would you rather have: three years of children not dying of hunger all over the earth, or year #13 of killing people in the mountains of central Asia? Which do you think would make the United States better liked around the world?

It would cost us $11 billion per year to provide the world with clean water. We're spending $20 billion per year on just one of the well-known useless weapons systems that the military doesn't really want but which serves to make someone rich who controls Congress members and the White House with legalized campaign bribery and the threat of job elimination in key districts. Of course, such weapons begin to look justified once their manufacturers begin selling them to other countries too. Raise your hand if you think giving the world clean water would make us better liked abroad and safer at home.

For similar affordable amounts, the United States, with or without its wealthy allies, could provide the earth with education, programs of environmental sustainability, encouragement to empower women with rights and responsibilities, the elimination of major diseases, etc. For those who recognize the environmental crisis as another critical demand as urgent in its own right as the war-making crisis, the plutocracy crisis, or the unmet human needs crisis, a global rescue plan that invests in green energy and sustainable practices appears even more powerfully to be the moral demand of our time.

War-ending, earth-saving projects could be made profitable, just as prisons and coal mines and predatory lending are made profitable now by public policy. War-profiteering could be banned or rendered impractical. We have the resources, knowledge, and ability. We don't have the political will. The chicken-and-egg problem traps us. We can't take steps to advance democracy in the absence of democracy. A female face on an elite ruling class won't solve this. We can't compel our nation's government to treat other nations with respect when it has no respect even for us. A program of foreign aid imposed by imperial-minded arrogance won't work. Spreading subservience under the banner of "democracy" won't save us. Imposing peace through armed "peace-keepers" prepared to kill won't work. Disarming only so-much, while continuing to suppose that a "good war" might be needed, won't get us far. We need a better view of the world and a way to impose it on officials who can be made to actually represent us.

Such a project is possible, and understanding how easy it would be for powerful officials to enact a global rescue plan is part of how we can motivate ourselves to demand it. The money is available several times over. The globe we have to rescue will include our own country as well. We don't have to suffer more than we are suffering now in order to greatly benefit others. We can invest in health and education and green infrastructure in our own towns as well as others' for less than we now dump into bombs and billionaires.

Such a project would do well to consider programs of public service that involve us directly in the work to be done, and in the decisions to be made. Priority could be given to worker-owned and worker-run businesses. Such projects could avoid an unnecessary nationalistic focus. Public service, whether mandatory or voluntary, could include options to work for foreign and internationally run programs as well as those based in the United States. The service, after all, is to the world, not just one corner of it. Such service could include peace work, human shield work, and citizen diplomacy. Student exchange and public-servant exchange programs could add travel, adventure, and cross-cultural understanding. Nationalism, a phenomenon younger than and just as eliminable as war, would not be missed.

You may say I'm a dreamer. We number in the hundreds of millions.
(c) 2013 David Swanson is the author of "War Is A Lie."

The Dead Letter Office...

Heil Obama,

Dear UnterFuhrer Riner,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your bill making Christianity the official religion of Kentucky under penalty of law, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, Iran and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Democratic 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 first class, presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 07-06-2013. We salute you Herr Riner, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Deputy Fuhrer Holder

Heil Obama

Pathetic Qualifications Produce Pathetic Presidential Performance
By Joel S. Hirschhorn

President (aka Barry) Obama is not, nor ever was a master politician, master diplomat, master bureaucrat, master lawyer or master anything. As a former professor who had to publish or perish, I was especially impressed that Obama lacked a hefty, impressive record of academic publications, actually nothing. As Ed Lasky summed up: "Notwithstanding an apparent eleven-year teaching career in constitutional law at a top-flight law school, not one single article, published talk, book review, or comment of any kind, appears anywhere in the professional legal literature, under Barack Obama's name."

Instead of actual accomplishment and performance, he simply took advantage of his color, personality, unusual political opportunities, and an innate talent for sometimes being able to give a great (but not necessarily honest) speech to become President. He took advantage of new national demographics to capture the necessary Electoral College votes to achieve victory, not once, but twice. His ability to enlist the critical assistance of brilliant masters at political fund raising and campaigning has never been matched by being able or willing to obtain similar high caliber people to run his White House and administration.

As someone who held high level positions inside the Washington, DC political system for some twenty years I was always convinced that Obama never was even close to being qualified to be US President. On the other hand, I was totally dismayed at the awful Republican candidates who opposed him. Still, I was bewildered how so many Americans could be seduced by lofty speech rhetoric and end up believing Obama was an unusually honest politician capable and willing to reform an inefficient, corrupt political system. Sure, unlike Hillary Clinton, he was no long term Washington insider. But neither was there any evidence that he was a true, courageous reformer. Obama was never authentically bold and creative, nor driven by a strong moral compass but rather by extreme arrogance. Think: the audacity of arrogance. Self-delusion prevailed, especially among Democrats and progressives drunk over terrific political slogans.

What could not be predicted, however, was that millions of angry and mostly white Americans would seize upon his color, birthplace and family roots to wage an effective national campaign within the boundaries of the Tea and Republican Parties to help make his presidency largely paralyzed through warlike partisanship. What was best for the nation has never been able to overcome hateful political emotions. The combination of hate and racist driven right wing zealots and self-deluded people on the left has dragged American democracy deeper into dysfunction.

Everyone should remember that with just over 50 percent of eligible voters voting and the presidential winner obtaining just over 50 percent of voter support, not much more than 25 percent of Americans actually support this or any other President. Factor in that nearly all incumbent members of Congress get reelected despite dismal overall public support, most recently just 10 percent for Congress. If you still believe in the myth that US democracy is the best on the planet, then you are just plain nuts.

It would take many thousands of words to fully articulate all the presidential failings of Obama. My own personal favorites are these: He failed to pursue a single payer approach for universal health care insurance and instead created a hugely complex and costly system that will probably collapse of its own awfulness. He did not swiftly end the ludicrous and incredibly costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. His administration has failed miserably in adequately taking care of veterans. He has clearly done next to nothing to ensure a truly transparent federal government and, instead, has aggressively pursued secret and invasive information and intelligence gathering of US citizens. His policies about underemployment and jobs have been pathetic. His Department of Justice utterly failed to pursue criminal indictments of the many people and companies in the banking, mortgage and financial sectors that caused the national and global economic collapse in recent years that even today explains the economic plight of many millions of Americans.

American democracy has so deteriorated that I can see little hope of its resurrection absent some form of revolution consistent with out Constitution, namely using what our Founders gave us: an Article V convention of state delegates with the legal authority to propose true reform constitutional amendments that still would have to be ratified by three-quarters of the states. Clearly, there is no reason to have any faith that Congress would ever propose amendments to fix our corrupt, inefficient and dysfunctional federal system that Senators and Representative continue to deface and defraud. For example, taking all private money out of politics. Nor is there any basis for believing that the Supreme Court will come to the rescue.

Seems pretty hopeless, don't you think? Unless millions of Americans join together and demand that Congress obey the Constitution, honor the many hundreds of state requests for a convention and convene the first one.
(c) 2013 Joel S. Hirschhorn observed our corrupt federal government firsthand as a senior official with the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the National Governors Association and is the author of Delusional Democracy =Fixing the Republic Without Overthrowing the Government. To discuss issues write the author. The author has a Ph.D. in Materials Engineering and was formerly a full professor of metallurgical engineering at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

The Pursuit Of Edward Snowden
Washington in a Rage, Striving to Run the World
By Norman Solomon

Rarely has any American provoked such fury in Washington's high places. So far, Edward Snowden has outsmarted the smartest guys in the echo chamber -- and he has proceeded with the kind of moral clarity that U.S. officials seem to find unfathomable.

Bipartisan condemnations of Snowden are escalating from Capitol Hill and the Obama administration. More of the NSA's massive surveillance program is now visible in the light of day -- which is exactly what it can't stand.

The central issue is our dire shortage of democracy. How can we have real consent of the governed when the government is entrenched with extreme secrecy, surveillance and contempt for privacy?

The same government that continues to expand its invasive dragnet of surveillance, all over the United States and the rest of the world, is now asserting its prerogative to drag Snowden back to the USA from anywhere on the planet. It's not only about punishing him and discouraging other potential whistleblowers. Top U.S. officials are also determined to -- quite literally -- silence Snowden's voice, as Bradley Manning's voice has been nearly silenced behind prison walls.

The sunshine of information, the beacon of principled risk-takers, the illumination of government actions that can't stand the light of day -- these correctives are anathema to U.S. authorities who insist that really informative whistleblowers belong in solitary confinement. A big problem for those authorities is that so many people crave the sunny beacons of illumination.

On Sunday night, more than 15,000 Americans took action to send a clear message to the White House. The subject line said "Mr. President, hands off Edward Snowden," and the email message read: "I urge you in the strongest terms to do nothing to interfere with the travels or political asylum process of Edward Snowden. The U.S. government must not engage in abduction or any other form of foul play against Mr. Snowden."

As the Obama White House weighs its options, the limits are practical and political. Surveillance and military capacities are inseparable, and they're certainly huge, but constraints may cause major frustration. Sunday on CNN, anchor Don Lemon cited the fabled Navy Seals and said such commandos ought to be able to capture Snowden, pronto.

The state of surveillance and perpetual war are one and the same. The U.S. government's rationale for pervasive snooping is the "war on terror," the warfare state under whatever name.

Too rarely mentioned is the combination of nonviolence and idealism that has been integral to the courageous whistleblowing by Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning. Right now, one is on a perilous journey across the globe in search of political asylum, while the other is locked up in a prison and confined to a military trial excluding the human dimensions of the case. At a time of Big Brother and endless war, Snowden and Manning have bravely insisted that a truly better world is possible.

Meanwhile, top policymakers in Washington seem bent on running as much of the world as possible. Their pursuit of Edward Snowden has evolved into a frenzied rage.

Those at the top of the U.S. government insist that Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning have betrayed it. But that's backward. Putting its money on vast secrecy and military violence instead of democracy, the government has betrayed Snowden and Manning and the rest of us.

Trying to put a stop to all that secrecy and violence, we have no assurance of success. But continuing to try is a prerequisite for realistic hope.

A few months before the invasion of Iraq, looking out at Baghdad from an upper story of a hotel, I thought of something Albert Camus once wrote.

"And henceforth, the only honorable course will be to stake everything on a formidable gamble: that words are more powerful than munitions."

Edward Snowden's honorable course has led him to this historic moment. The U.S. government is eager to pay him back with retribution and solitary. But many people in the United States and around the world are responding with love and solidarity.

Mr. President, Hands Off Edward Snowden
(c) 2013 Norman Solomon is co-founder of and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death" and "Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State."

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ R.J. Matson ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Alien No More
By Will Durst

Ear to the ground, everybody. Listen close. You can hear it coming. Could be a while. Might be a bit beat up. Probably won't look like it does now. But eventually those slight puffs of dust in the distance will slide right down Main Street and America will undergo another face-lift. And yes, after its over, the whole country will appear younger and more vital. We might even buy ourselves a red convertible.

Talking about the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act, which we, the general rabble have come to know as The Immigration Bill. Presently it can be found slogging its way through the Senate on a pace rivaling that of a snail nailed to a 2 x 4 with a railroad spike. Minus the alacrity.

Taking so long because the Senate has to vote on every proposed amendment. And there are hundreds. No, seriously. Hundreds. Jeff Sessions of Alabama wrote 49, but he's playing T-ball in short pants compared to Iowa's Chuck Grassley who offered up 77 amendments. And this past Wednesday the Senate managed to vote on... four. To say it's going take a while is like intimating that surgical decapitation tends to inhibit throwing a sinker on the inside of the plate to a left handed batter. And speaking of the House of Representatives... we kid. Various amendments deal with border triggers, border fences and border security. Restrictions on access to guns and hospitals and schools and welfare. Back taxes. Same sex couples. Stripping responsibility from Homeland Security and giving it to Congress. Ostensibly, for reasons of expediency due to Congress' nimble bureaucracy. You can't make stuff up like this.

One amendment involves the library system and one calls for national voter ID. But plenty of obvious issues have been ignored by the Most Deliberative Body in the World. So, as a public service, we here at Durstco offer up a couple of fixes to issues that we citizens living in the real world would like to see addressed. Admittedly, few are crazy enough to make it through the House.

1. Before being accepted as a naturalized citizen: Applicants must give up all rights to consort with a Kardashian.

2. Anybody desiring to be an American must immediately stop referring to soccer as football.

3. Of course we welcome diversity, but weird foreign desserts have to be given American names so we know what we're getting into.

4. Prospective citizens must pledge to name every fourth child after a president or first lady. Barack doesn't count. Michelle is okay.

5. When swimming, men are prohibited from wearing those skimpy Speedo bathing suits that make them look like they're smuggling plums. Women are exempt from this rule.

6. Prospective U.S. citizens must publicly choose: Ginger or Mary Ann.

7. True Americans shake hands, we don't air kiss. Women are exempt from this rule.

8. The correct answer to "How many liters in a gallon?" is "who cares."

9. Under threat of expulsion, new citizens pledge to cheer for the USA as at least their second team during international competitions such as the Olympics.

10. Any U.S. citizen who thinks Mexico and New Mexico are in the same country must immediately leave. Even if they've been here all their lives. Congratulations. And welcome to America where Budweiser is no longer an import.

(c) 2013 Will Durst's, the recipient of 7 consecutive nominations for Stand Up of the Year, Will Durst's new one- man show "BoomerAging: From LSD to OMG" is presented every Tuesday, at the Marsh, San Francisco. Go to... for more info. Use code "boomer" for discount tix.

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Issues & Alibis Vol 13 # 23 (c) 06/28/2013

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