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In This Edition

Amy Goodman discovers, "'Food Terrorism' Next Door To The Magic Kingdom."

Uri Avnery chants, "Sacred Mantras."

David Sirota explains, "Why We Still Love 'Ferris Bueller'."

Randall Amster goes tripping through a mine field in, "The No-State Solution."

Jim Hightower chronicles, "A Fed Up Voter's Group Stands Up."

Helen Thomas considers, "Obama's Statehood Decision."

James Donahue with some good news, "Thank God The Church Is Dying."

Jon Wiener joins us with, "John Lennon: NOT A Closet Republican."

Chris Floyd is, "Massaging The Monolith."

Medea Benjamin asks, "Is Greece Being Blackmailed To Put The Brakes On Gaza?"

Paul Krugman has, "The Urge To Purge."

Chris Hedges has delusional memmories in, "Gone With The Papers."

Stephen Zunes reports, "Washington Okays Attack On Unarmed U.S. Ship."

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser wins the coveted "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

John Nichols announces, "Wisconsin Governor Walker's Chief Judicial Ally Accused Of Physically Assaulting Jurist Who Defended Rule Of Law."

Bill McKibben wonders, "If Brazil Has To Guard Its Rainforest, Why Does Canada/U.S. Get To Burn Its Tar Sands?"

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department the fabulous Mrs. Betty Bowers returns with a poem for the 4th of July, "The Histories Of America" but first Uncle Ernie sez, "Happy Independence Day America."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Jen Sorenson, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Derf City, Dan Piraro, Patrick Thomas, Dees Illustration.Com, Bob Gruen, National Geographic.Com, IMDB, NBC, 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."

Happy Independence Day America
By Ernest Stewart

"While Athenian Nubian slaves sang some foreign song of conquest and everyone stood and held his hand over his purse!"
Escaping from the Declining Fall of the Roaming Empire ~~~ Proctor and Bergman

"We have awakened a sleeping giant and have instilled in him a terrible resolve." ~~~ Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto

I introduced legislation last week that is based on a very simple principle: federal agents should be subject to the same laws as ordinary citizens. If you would face criminal prosecution or a lawsuit for groping someone, exposing them to unwelcome radiation, causing them emotional distress, or violating indecency laws, then TSA agents should similarly face sanctions for their actions. ~~~ Congressman Ron Paul

I'm going down
Down, down, down, down, down
Going Down ~~~ Jeff Beck

So how are you going to celebrate the 4th this year? You know, the anniversary of the beginning of the U.S. corpo-rat revolution against the British Corpo-rats, back in 1776. Will you be having a traditional 4th of July? No, I'm not talking about a picnic where everyone tries to get falling down drunk and eat some burnt weenies and breasts (Yes, I know; take it both ways if you like....) and then put in 45 minutes of ooohs and aaahhh to the fireworks. No, I'm talking about a more traditional celebration -- for the kids' sake! To make this a teaching opportunity to show the little ones what America is all about!

For example, you could give a tribe of Indians some diseased blankets soaked in small pox to keep them warm. If you live way down yonder you could whip some black folks or recreate the War of Yankee Aggression where Robert R. Lee takes Ulysses S. Grant's sword in surrender. See I bet they didn't know that the south won the civil war? Can I get a Yee Haw? How about a Damn Yankee?

You could enslave a million Chinese and force them to build a railroad through the Rockies in the dead of winter! Or you could murder 90% of a native population and have the survivors live in open air ghettos in the barren wilderness!

In fact, you could take the kids worldwide to strange, exotic places full of strange, new, exotic people and kill everything in sight -- while stealing everything of material worth. That should open up the little ones' eyes!

But, of course, you won't do such a thing; you'll get loaded, and ignore reality, and start chanting, "USA, USA, USA!" Watch the neighbor's kid blow off a couple of fingers with an M-80, fly Old Gory, or The Stars and Bars or both! You'll be making heaping plates of the newest designer grilled Franken Foods as you watch the Vets flinch every time someone throws a firecracker and think to yourself, "Life is good!"

Happy 4th of July, Ya'll!

In Other News

I see where Obamahood is entering one of his cave-in modes as it will apply to the "entitlements." No hope of getting a tax raise on the elite, got to keep those needless, useless, war crimes going, so there're no cuts there. Ergo, Unterfuhrer Ryan's Bill is being openly-discussed behind closed doors, and to get the Fed to print more worthless money in the form of a raise in the National Debt; there'll have to be some sacrifices made! Jawohl, Grandma?

I also see where there are a lot of old folks, sick folks, poor folks, and hungry folks going to be asked, well, demanded of, to pay the piper for the rich and the military. Forget the fact they've already paid for these services and that basic health; food and welfare are A RIGHT NOT A PRIVILEGE in this society!

As we've seen around the country this spring from all over America, angry people are confronting their Con-gress critters, pretty much mad as Hell and not going to take it anymore! The old boys saw that when they went home for break, and came back singing a different tune; the Tea Baggers didn't -- for them it's damn the torpedos, full speed ahead! Tea Baggers, like Christie, Brewer, Scott, Daniels, Brownback, LePage, Snyder and Walker, may be doing us a favor. They all jumped the gun a bit, and, instead of lulling the sheeple back asleep, they went right ahead with their dirty work, not only in the open but daring America to do something about it -- then they were sticking out their tongues, sticking their thumbs in their ears and going: Nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah!

Methinks, by overplaying their hands, and with what is at stake, we may see the awakening of a sleeping giant, the American people? Ask Admiral Yamamoto how that worked out for him? Or not?

And Finally

Is it just me folks, or do you think that perhaps, possibly, the TSA or, as it's known in the trade, "Tits, Sex & Ass" has gone just one toke too far this time?

You've no doubt heard about the sick-with-leukemia, wheelchair-bound, 95-year-old, great grandmother who was forced to remove her diaper (Depends) so that those perverts could inspect it to make sure those pee stains weren't actually C-4! That's right, America, for the privilege of getting inside that sardine can, and being treated worse than cattle, you are now required to remove your unmentionables for inspection on order! All to protect you from developing a backbone and telling them to go f*ck themselves!

Whether strip searching grandmothers in wheelchairs, or telling you to tell your child that the fondling and molesting the friendly TSA man is doing to them is just playing. You know, just like the friendly pervert down the block would say to them. It's okay when the government screws you, little Mary, and Billy Ray -- so you better get used to it, as this time won't be the last time that you get f*cked by the government!

Fear not, America, Deputy Fuhrer John Pistole says it's all in good fun, and they were only following ze orders and the "agents" said, "they felt something suspicious on her leg and they couldn't determine what it was" even though they were told what it was -- not much imagination, eh? They "acted professionally and according to procedure," said Pistole. NO, folks, I'm not going for the obvious joke or insight to John's psyche because of his name and how it might have effected his brain to the point of ordering checking the interior of diapers. Even as easy as it would be; NO, I won't go there!

Thanks, Mr. Underwear Bomber! I suppose we should be grateful that al Qaeda doesn't send male and female bombers with C-4 shoved up all of their orifices. Even if they're unsuccessful, can you imagine those next rounds of searches? On second thought, I think I'll just take the train!

Keepin' On

We're still hanging on by the skin or our teeth. I had to pay June's bill with part of the money saved for July's bill which is due in a little over three weeks. Don't have enough money for September's bill to use to pay July's, so it's coming down to now or never!

For those of you who can help us out to remain publishing for another year, please do so NOW! We need to raise money fast if the magazine is to remain solvent. I don't make enough from Social Security to pay the bills myself anymore. In fact, I don't get enough money from the government to be able to live on my own, and have to live in a relative's house to keep a roof over my head!

Either Issues & Alibis is an important part of your life, or it isn't. If it is, please step up as donations this year are at a ten year low. No donation is to small or to large -- and if by some miracle, we do bring in enough to pay the bills, anything left over will be used to make improvements and bring back some departments that we used to have before we couldn't afford to buy them anymore. So smoke 'em if ya got 'em, America, and help us if you can!


09-16-1927 ~ 06-23-2011
Thanks for everything!

02-24-1923 ~ 06-23-2011
Thanks for the music!


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) 2011 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for the last 10 years managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Face Book. Follow me on Twitter.

Food Terrorist Buddy Dyer

'Food Terrorism" Next Door To The Magic Kingdom
By Amy Goodman

Think of "food terrorism" and what do you see? Diabolical plots to taint items on grocery-store shelves? If you are Buddy Dyer, the mayor of Orlando, Fla., you might be thinking of a group feeding the homeless and hungry in one of your city parks. That is what Dyer is widely quoted as calling the activists with the Orlando chapter of Food Not Bombs-"food terrorists." In the past few weeks, no less than 21 people have been arrested in Orlando, the home of Disney World, for handing out free food in a park.

Food Not Bombs is an international, grass-roots organization that fights hunger. As the name implies, it is against war. Its website home page reads: "Food Not Bombs shares free vegan and vegetarian meals with the hungry in over 1,000 cities around the world to protest war, poverty and the destruction of the environment. With over a billion people going hungry each day how can we spend another dollar on war?" The Orlando chapter sets up a meal distribution table every Monday morning and Wednesday evening in the city"s Lake Eola Park.

Lately, the Orlando police have been arresting those who serve food there, like Benjamin Markeson. He was perplexed, telling me: "We think that it"s terrorism to arrest people for trying to share food with poor and hungry people in the community to meet a community need. And all we do is we come to the park and we share food with poor and hungry people. I don"t know how that qualifies as terrorism."

Attorney Shayan Elahi doesn"t know, either. He is representing Orlando Food Not Bombs in court. He has filed for an injunction against the city in the 9th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida, which is presided over by Chief Judge Belvin Perry Jr., who is in the news as the no-nonsense judge in the Casey Anthony murder trial, happening now in Orlando. While the judge"s courtroom receives blanket coverage on cable networks, Elahi hopes Perry will have time to personally rule on his filing.

At issue is a city law, the "Large Group Feeding" ordinance, that requires groups to obtain a permit to serve food, even for free, to groups of 25 or more. Such permits are granted to any group only twice per year. Orlando Food Not Bombs has already used both of its allowed permits this year.

The Florida Civil Rights Association has called on Mayor Dyer to apologize for his designation of the Food Not Bombs group as terrorists. The crime should not be feeding more than 25 people, but that more than 25 people need food.

Attorney Elahi links the crackdown to the planned gentrification of downtown Orlando: "The mayor started the development board for downtown Orlando, and his whole goal was basically to push everybody who ... didn"t fit their idea of who should be in downtown. And we"re trying to point out to the mayor that times have changed, that now everybody is hurting, and a lot more people who come to Food Not Bombs food sharing are working poor."

The core message of Food Not Bombs is embodied in a resolution passed just last week by the U.S. Conference of Mayors calling on Washington to end the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as soon as strategically possible and redirect funding to meet vital human needs here at home.

Central Florida has been hit very hard by the recession and is among the top locations for foreclosures and bankruptcies. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization is warning that global food prices are expected to remain high for the rest of the year and beyond. Earlier this year, food prices hit levels seen during the 2007-08 food crisis that sparked unrest in poor nations worldwide. Mass protests and a general strike in Greece against planned austerity measures are shutting down Athens.

One of the most famous songs at Disney World, not far from Lake Eola Park, is called "It"s a Small World." Its refrain: "There"s so much that we share/ that it"s time we"re aware/ it"s a small world after all." Let"s turn fantasy into reality. Sharing food should not be a crime.
(c) 2011 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

Editors' Note: If you'd like to contact Mayor Dyer and give him a piece of your mind, Email: or call him at: 407-246-2221.

Sacred Mantras
By Uri Avnery

THE PALESTINIANS are planning something thoroughly obnoxious: they intend to apply to the UN for statehood.

Why obnoxious? Any Israeli spokesman (not to mention spokeswoman) will tell you readily: because it is a "unilateral" move. How dare they proclaim a state unilaterally? How dare they do so without the consent of the other party to the conflict - us?

A stickler for detail might ask at this point: "But was the State of Israel not proclaimed unilaterally?" Our state, it may be remembered, was declared by David Ben-Gurion and his colleagues on Mai 14, 1948, without asking anyone.

But who would dare to compare?

Furthermore, these dastardly Palestinians are going to the UN General Assembly, trying to circumvent the UN Security Council where the US can block them with its veto. Dirty trick!

But just a moment! Was the State of Israel not proclaimed on the basis of a resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly? To be precise: resolution 181 of November 29, 1947, on the partition of Palestine into an Arab and a Jewish state?

As a matter of fact, this resolution is still in force. It served as the centerpiece of Israel's Declaration of Independence, and serves now as a basis for the Palestinian demand that the State of Palestine be accepted as a full-fledged member of the United Nations.

But again, how can one compare?

IN SHORT, the Palestinians must be condemned for their impertinent effort to resort to "unilateral" action. Binyamin Netanyahu says so. Barack Obama says so. Hillary Clinton says so. Angela Merkel says so. It has become a mantra.

One more mantra. It might have been thought that the Israeli-Palestinian arena is so full of mantras, that there is no room for more. But there always is.

Shlomo Avineri, a much respected Zionist professor, has dredged up one of the oldest. In a recent article entitled "Narratives and Truth" he claimed that there are two narratives about our conflict, but only one truth. The truth consists of incontestable facts.

For example: there are several narratives about the UN partition resolution, but only one truth. As it so happens, this truth coincides with the Israeli narrative, which has become a sacred mantra.

It goes like this: in 1947, the Zionist leadership accepted the UN partition plan, and the Palestinian Arabs rejected it. Instead, they attacked the Jewish community in the country and were later joined by the regular armies of the neighboring Arab states. They wanted to throw us into the sea. They lost the war and paid the price.

Facts? Incontestable? Well...

IT IS indeed a fact that the Zionist leadership accepted the partition plan - formally. Many Zionist leaders objected, but were persuaded by David Ben-Gurion to agree to the official acceptance. However, in several secret meetings Ben-Gurion made it clear that the partition borders were unacceptable and must be rectified at the first opportunity. The minutes of these meetings are there for all to read.

The other side of the mantra - "the Palestinian Arabs rejected" - is more complex. There was no democratically elected Palestinian Arab leadership. In the 1936-39 Arab revolt, the Arab leadership - such as it was - was destroyed, partly by the British but mostly by the foremost Palestinian leader, the Grand Mufti Hajj Amin al-Husseini. He had most of his competitors killed off.

During World War II, Hajj Amin fled to Nazi Germany and the rest of the "leaders" were deported by the British. After the war, the discredited Hajj stayed abroad. A distant relative of his headed the so-called "Arab Higher Committee", which was unelected and had shallow roots among the population. There was no effective Palestinian leadership in existence.

No one asked the Arab Palestinians whether to accept or reject anything. If they had been asked, they would probably have rejected partition, since - in their view - it gave a large part of their historical homeland to foreigners. The more so, since the Jews, who at the time constituted a third of the population, were allotted 55% of the territory - and even there the Arabs constituted 40% of the population.

The governments of the Arab states rejected partition, but they certainly did not represent the Palestinian Arabs, who were at the time still under British rule (as were we).

As a matter of fact, during the war there was no effective united Palestinian Arab leadership, nor was there anything even remotely resembling a united Palestinian fighting force.

One can interpret these facts as one wishes - but they certainly do not paint a clear picture of "the Zionists accepted, the Palestinians rejected".

Yet this mantra is being repeated endlessly in newspaper articles, TV talk-shows and political speeches as self-evident truth. Prof. Avineri is only one of a legion of Israeli propagandists to repeat it.

ANOTHER MANTRA parading as the incontestable truth is that the 750,000 original Palestinian refugees left their homes in 1948 voluntarily, after being requested by the Arab leadership to do so, "in order to clear the way for the advancing Arab armies."

Any thoughtful person hearing this must come to the conclusion that it is utter nonsense. No advancing army would want to remove a friendly population. Quite the contrary. Needless to say, not a shred of evidence for this contention has ever been discovered. (There may be some doubts about local events during the conquest of the Arab parts of Haifa, but they do not change the broad picture.)

This mantra is compounded by the idea that in war, all the people on the losing side forfeit their country, their homes and their property. This may have been so in Biblical times, but in modern times it does not reflect international law or common morality.

There may be many different opinions about how to put an end to this tragedy. The Palestine refugee population has grown to over five million. The landscape has changed completely. Very few people, even among Palestinians, believe in a mass return of refugees. But this does not change the fact that the mantra sounds hollow. It is not even good propaganda anymore.

A NEW mantra is now gaining ground. Binyamin Netanyahu put it in simple words: "the Conflict is Insoluble". Many respected figures, including prominent university professors, now repeat it daily.

I am reminded of a late friend of mine, Samuel Merlin, a member of the first Knesset, who once took part in a public debate with Professor Yehoshafat Harkabi, a former chief of army intelligence. At the time - the era of euphoria between the 1967 and the 1973 wars - Harkabi was a raving Arab-hater (after 1973 he repented and became a determined peace activist).

When his turn came to answer Harkabi's arguments, Merlin said: "I respect Professor Harkabi very much, but in order to utter such views you don't need to be a professor, you can be anyone on the street."
(c) 2011 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Why We Still Love 'Ferris Bueller'
25 years later, the teen classic endures because it perfected an addictive Hollywood trope: The Fairy Tale Bromance
By David Sirota

With its straightforward narrative about three teenagers skipping school, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" doesn't seem made for high-minded film fetishists like labyrinthine works such as "Citizen Kane," "Apocalypse Now" or any selection from David Lynch's catalog. Yet, as the John Hughes classic celebrates its 25-year anniversary this month, its enduring genius has indeed become a subject of esoteric speculation and multilayered theorizing.

Chief among the hypotheses aiming to explain "Ferris'" immortality is the eerily compelling Ferris Bueller "Fight Club" Theory. It suggests the film is a teenage version of the Chuck Palahniuk story whereby Ferris is Cameron's hallucination à la Tyler Durden and Sloane is Marla Singer. This is an extrapolation of an earlier theory positing that while Ferris may not be a figment, he is actually the story-arc-less supporting character in a movie more accurately described as "Cameron Frye's Day Off."

These theories, of course, are seeking some sort of unseen secret in the film -- and quite understandably so. As great as the movie is, its inexorable traction, persistent ubiquity and general zeitgeistiness over a quarter century is unprecedented for a fairly standard (if expertly executed) teenage rebellion flick. Such success implies more than just sharp jokes and epic characters at work. It seems to hint at an overpoweringly brilliant sleight of hand that somehow creates magical movie-audience catnip -- the kind that, for instance, makes you drop everything the minute your favorite channel in the cable rerun-o-sphere shows the Abe Froman/Sausage King of Chicago argument.

However, having meticulously climbed my way up to Official John Hughes Aficionado status -- a process requiring decades of back-breaking work watching reruns in my boxer shorts on my couch -- I believe that "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" endures for a far more simple and overt reason than many popular theories posit. I'm convinced it remains in the cultural firmament because it uniquely perfected one of the most addictive -- and deceptive -- Hollywood tropes of all time: the Fairy Tale Bromance.

"Ferris" is a masterpiece of '80s virtuosity for many obvious reasons, and in particular, its caricatures. But for all of its pitch-perfect performances (Jeffrey Jones' archetype-creating Mr. Rooney, Jennifer Grey's angsty older sister brilliance, Charlie Sheen's show-stealing cameo, to name a few) the film's singular fulcrum is the friendship between Cameron and Ferris -- that is, the friendship between the average physically awkward, socially inept nerd/geek who personifies the vast majority of teenagers, and the single most popular/charismatic kid in the aggregate history of the American high school.

As anyone who experienced the brutal realities of adolescence will almost certainly attest, such a relationship is utterly preposterous -- laughable on its face, really. High school is a mirror of society -- and despite the saccharine odes to social mobility and equality that mark every presidential election season, American society is deeply and passionately stratified by status. Look no further than the scourge of bullying to know that the same divide dominates the teenage years. That means in the real world, Average Cameron would probably be ignored or ridiculed by Celebrity Rock Star Ferris, and they almost certainly would never be best friends.

And yet, that's what makes their Fairy Tale Bromance so alluring -- especially to a moviegoing audience of Camerons who always wanted the friendship of the Ferrises. Indeed, in the Frye-Bueller relationship, the two not only transcend the impenetrable status barriers, but at times (the wake-up call to bedraggled Cameron, the kitchen scene after the Rooney prank call, etc.) the latter actually seems to need and crave the former's friendship more than the other way around. Unrealistic? Obviously. The populist utopian ideal? Absolutely -- at least for us Camerons.

Mind you, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" wasn't the first Fairy Tale Bromance to capture the hearts and minds of America's rank-and-file totally uncool youth. In the contemporary sense, that distinction probably goes to "Happy Days" and "Empire Strikes Back" -- the former of which had the Cameron-ish Richie Cunningham buddying up with the super-hip Fonz, the latter of which built the whiny-younger-brother-swashbuckling-older-brother relationship of Luke Skywalker and Han Solo in "Star Wars" into a primordial version of a Cameron-Ferris friendship. Additionally, "Lucas," which was released a few months before "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," certainly found success in the lovable-but-absurd BFF-ship between a 14-year-old ultra-nerd and the star high school quarterback.

However, where "Happy Days'" Richie-Fonz bromance was a bit avuncular, where mutual Leia lust made the Luke-Han bromance uneasy, and where "Lucas" simply asked for too much suspension of disbelief, "Ferris'" Frye-Bueller relationship was perfectly calibrated between ridiculous and vaguely believable, thereby creating a whole archetype -- one that subsequently became its own sub-category within the larger Bromance genre.

This sub-category has since become a smash success, producing classics such as "Dazed and Confused," "Old School" and "40 Year Old Virgin" (to name a few). Unlike the traditional Bromances that follow friends of similar status ("Stand By Me," "The Goonies," "Superbad"), these Fairy Tale Bromances, like their "Ferris" forefather, all revolve around inspiring friendships that bridge impossible social status gaps. I mean, let's just be honest: In the real world, there's no way the Jason London's high school QB, Rory Cochrane's super-stoner, Matthew McConaughey's '70s Fonz and Adam Goldberg's teenage Woody Allen would ever find such rollicking Texas camaraderie; just like there's no way guys as cool and handsome as Vince Vaughn and Luke Wilson would fraternize with an updated version of the Tri-Lams; just like there's no way electronic-store sex fiends would so comfortably embrace the middle-aged celibate. But like "Ferris" before them, those classics hit the Fairy Tale Bromance's inspirational sweet spot -- just outside the realm of realistic, but close enough to seem worthy of legitimate aspiration.

In that sense, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" is the modern era's original Horatio Alger story, applying the addictive rags-to-riches American Dream idea to the Gilded Age-like social structure of modern high school. The result is a meme that we the audience quickly came to insist upon, as evidenced most crisply by the box-office failure of John Hughes' immediate "Ferris" follow-up, "Some Kind of Wonderful." In depicting the brutalities of what a Hardy Jenns-Keith Nelson relationship would actually look like in a real high school, that more realistic (though still a bit Cinderella-ish) picture simply didn't provide the requisite Fairy Tale Bromance mythology -- and it was punished as such.

Twenty-five years after the release of "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," as society has become even more stratified by status (economic, social or otherwise), the film's true conquest can be best seen outside the movie theater and in the abstract glorification of geeks, nerds and other such Camerons in the larger culture. (I stress "abstract" because we seem to love the idea of these outcasts, but not necessarily the individual outcasts themselves.

As just one example of that hegemony, ABC News reported last year on a poll finding that "57 percent of Americans say being called a geek is a compliment and more Americans would prefer to be called a geek rather than a jock." Replace "geek" with Cameron and "jock" with Ferris, and you are looking at the subliminal longing of "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" (though Ferris wasn't technically a jock, he certainly occupied the same social status, which was another alluring part of the fairy tale -- the non-jock being as cool as the jocks). And, as if directly saluting the legacy of "Ferris," the poll found a generation gap, whereby 66 of those 18-34-year-olds (aka the generation that grew up on John Hughes) identified "geek" as a compliment, "only 39 percent of those 65 and older agree."

Clearly, then, when Cameron said, "Ferris Bueller, you're my hero," he wasn't just giving his own opinion -- he was speaking for a generation. Thanks in part to the Fairy Tale Bromance, that generation's still-far-fetched dreams of status equality between the social haves and have nots -- between the Camerons and Ferrises -- live on.
(c) 2010 David Sirota is the author of the best-selling books "Hostile Takeover" and "The Uprising." He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado and blogs at E-mail him at David Sirota is a former spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee.

The No-State Solution
Can the Israel-Palestine Conflict Provide a Path to Peace?
By Randall Amster

Despite the obvious and intractable nature of the problem, it appears that something of a consensus has been reached on what to do about the Israel-Palestine conflict. From President Obama to Professor Chomsky, there is broad agreement that any potential path to peace in the region ought to devolve upon a "two-state" scenario in which Palestine is afforded national sovereignty and Israel engenders international (and perhaps more importantly, regional) recognition. Details about precise boundaries and territorial contiguity will of course need to be settled, not to mention issues of economy and culture, but overall this plan is widely embraced by nearly everyone except the rabid hardliners on either side.

Chomsky, to be precise, sees the two-state model as an interim step toward his preferred outcome, a bi-national single state. What isn't entirely clear in this formulation is how two states will "wither away" and become one, or how a single state will politically accommodate warring cadres. Still, Chomsky asks us to deconstruct the widely-held view that separation into two distinct nations is the only realistic solution, even as he winds up pragmatically validating the concept at the same time. At the end of the day, it seems clear by now that the two-state solution - as invoked by President Obama in Cairo in June 2009 ("the only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security"), and most recently by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before the U.S. Congress in May 2011 ("I [have] publicly committed to a solution of two states for two peoples: a Palestinian state alongside a Jewish state") - is generally seen as the only viable answer to the ongoing crisis.

Tempting as it may be to join this apparent consensus, I do not believe that it will resolve the matters at hand. On the contrary, a two-state framework could deepen the conflict by further solidifying it, institutionalizing it, and rendering it susceptible to even greater outside influence. There is a popular myth about how nation-states, particularly ones that are ostensibly democratic in nature, do not generally wage war upon one another. There is also the view that most global conflicts are actually internecine and that cross-border wars are the exception. Despite the appeal of these notions, they are limited by interpretation and the intrusion of reality, as even a cursory glance at U.S. foreign policy over the past century alone might reveal. The creation of nation-states hasn't served to forestall conflict, and in fact it has mainly exacerbated it; simply put, the state didn't save us from the scourge of violence, it merely normalized it.

In the case of Israel and Palestine there are a number of conundrums that a two-state model would not readily address, including the potential territorial discontinuity of Palestine and the matter of settlements that continue to push beyond borders no matter where they are to be fixed. If somehow a Palestinian state were to coherently appear, would this lead to calls for mandatory relocation of Arabs presently living in Israel, similar to what has transpired on reservations in the U.S. with the treatment of the Navajo and the Hopi, for example? Might the wall (both literally and culturally) between these two emergent nations grow even higher and the distance between them even greater when separateness becomes nationally reified? Don't hostilities often escalate when a vast power imbalance exists between two conflictual bordering countries, such as with England and Ireland or China and Tibet? And what happens when elections are held and hardliners on both sides continue to win, putting the reins of the state in the hands of pro-war factions?

These are some of the well-known realities that we see around the world. A two-state framework in the Middle East could turn Israeli "occupation" into something that looks more like Russian attempts to deal with "breakaway republics" such as Chechnya, or U.S. claims to national sovereignty as in places like Panama. Palestinian "resistance" could become "nonlinear warfare" and be used as an excuse to justify further development of Israeli military capabilities. On both sides, being separated by an even greater divide, nationalism will run rampant and the temptation for outside powers to exploit these inherent tensions for proxy-war purposes might be too great to resist. In addition to the use of military force, the legitimation of economic colonization could come about through the adoption of "free trade" agreements that pull labor and resources (e.g., water) from one side while prohibiting the free movements of people in the process. All of this sounds more than familiar, and indeed looks merely like an extension of where we are today.

Cloaking any of these issues in the language and logic of the nation-state isn't likely to solve the problem, and it could actually serve to institutionalize and further aggravate the issues at hand. A famous aphorism from Randolph Bourne counsels that "war is the health of the state," and we would thus be more likely to see two permanent war economies emerge under a two-state solution. As Thorstein Veblen once noted, "the spirit of nationalism has never ceased to bend human institutions to the service of dissension and distress," and hence the creation of more nation-states almost certainly will merely heighten this unfortunate reality. Ultimately, the rise of "the state" as the unit of analysis for promoting conflict resolution in the Westphalian world order simply hasn't brought much of it.

In a recent article on ZNet, esteemed international law professor Richard Falk poses the question, "Is the State a Monster?" Citing Nietzsche, Falk observes that "for many the state becomes an idol to be unconditionally obeyed as if an infallible god, a forfeiture of freedom, a renunciation of citizenship in a humane political community, and a voluntary acceptance of subjugation of the spirit. Such a 'patriotic' process has drastically diminished the quality of democratic life almost everywhere, and has given the state a green light to wage wars of choice, regardless of their bloody consequences." Falk further cites chilling historical examples, including "the Nazi death camps, the atomic bombs dropped on Japanese cities, the genocidal dispossession of indigenous peoples throughout the world, the cruelties of colonial rule, the long siege imposed on the people of Gaza," and reminds us that a superpower like the U.S. "remains ready to incinerate tens of millions of innocent civilians for the sake of regime survival for itself and allied governments. What could be colder? What could be more anti-human?"

In addition to the inherent intertwining of states with militarism and the ways that nationalism so easily perverts pride into prejudice, there are other features of nation-states that recommend against viewing their existence as part of a path to peace. States claim the mantle as legitimate users of violence - indeed, as the only legitimate users - and unsurprisingly that violence winds up being regularly used both abroad and domestically. As Falk notes, "current events also manifest this icy coldness of the state: shooting unarmed demonstrators in the towns and cities of Syria and Libya, or along the borders of Israel." Moreover, the economic fortunes and territorial ambitions of nation-states are accentuated by the creation of a zero-sum world in which the entire planet is carved up into competing units. Internally, battles for governmental control can be especially brutal, since those who command the ship of state find themselves in a ready-made power position that is difficult to resist in the full dimensions of its potential profitability.

At this juncture, I believe that whatever historical utility the nation-state model may have represented has run its course. Perhaps it was a necessary step away from absolutism and parochialism toward democracy and liberty, but the model by now appears to be working at cross-purposes to these aims. States are relentlessly repressive, perversely militaristic, and inherently authoritarian. They are expansionist, opportunistic, and intolerant. Even in the best case scenario, they can breed dependency, obedience, and centralization of power. In the end, the rise of nation-states has, over the centuries, yielded precisely what it was intended (in theory, if not practice) to forestall. As Israeli writer Yuval Ben-Ami inquires: "What to do then? Since ethnocentric states are an archaic folly, and a non-ethnocentric state seems unmaintainable, perhaps what we should do is just stop thinking 'state.'"

So let's resist the temptation to apply another band-aid and create yet another leviathan (even a small one) in the process. Abolishing nation-states would encourage people to live and work together regardless of territorial boundaries, and without them would allow for freer movement of both bodies and cultures. Localities would become the locus of peoples' lives, and in that sense would promote more sustainable lifestyles. The tendency to simplify conflict into "us versus them" would be severely undermined, and the ability of hardliners to hijack the "will of the people" for destructive purposes greatly diminished. Permanent war economies would be rendered impracticable if not impossible, and the pervasive leveraging of corporate power over democratic governance would become a virtual nullity. While some believe that the waning influence of nation-states would yield greater corporate power, it appears instead that the two are in fact mutually reinforcing and that the obsolescence of one could bring about an end to the other. Beyond both governments and corporations lie peoples and communities - seemingly forgotten entities that may well reemerge if given sufficient room and encouragement to do so.

Even so, I'm not suggesting here that the abolition of nation-states would be a panacea, or that it wouldn't bring about its own set of difficulties. I understand entirely the utopian nature of such a no-state vision - as Chomsky observes, "I think a better solution is a no-state solution. But this is pie in the sky," even as groups working toward this might disagree - although it bears mentioning that it may be even more quixotic to expect a peaceful result through inherently militaristic means. For instance, despite his cogent meditations on "the coldness of the state," Falk himself falls into this pattern by asserting that "even most of those among us who try to be citizens in the proper sense would still not opt for the chaos of an ungoverned social order if given a free choice. Our task is to build a just and ethically accountable state, not to abandon the enterprise as futile.... We also need to resist the temptation to fall into a deeper sleep by adopting a posture of unrealizable and unacceptable negation of this strange political creature called the state. In the end, the state is not a monster, but a work in progress."

I daresay that Falk may be right that the state is a work in progress, but with all due respect I would pose the question: "Toward what?" If genocide, slavery, colonization, exploitation, and subjugation are seen as mere stages in a progression, then we really must wonder what else lies in store on this particular path. When measured against the perpetual warfare and expanding authoritarianism we've seen take hold around the globe during the reign of nation-states, a new array of challenges arising from the abolition of states could in fact yield vital opportunities for positive growth and real change - and would at least provide a brief respite from an incessantly brutal present. Starting with the planet's most intractable conflict as a linchpin for creating a nation-free world would be a powerful statement of historical import. Indeed, the "road map to peace" in the Middle East (and elsewhere) shouldn't look merely like an atlas of states.
(c) 2011 Randall Amster J.D., Ph.D., teaches peace studies at Prescott College and serves as the executive director of the Peace & Justice Studies Association. His most recent book is the co-edited volume "Building Cultures of Peace: Transdisciplinary Voices of Hope and Action" (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009).

Claire & Scott vote to murder
us all for their corpo-rat masters

A Fed Up Voter's Group Stands Up

Seventeenth century play wright William Congreve must have been a seer, for he wrote that even in hell, there is "no fury like a woman scorned." Apparently, he foresaw the tempest now roaring out of the League of Women Voters.

Long considered to be the church ladies of American politics, the group is best known for its sober voter education efforts. But – Pow! – the ladies have suddenly shattered that stereotype by delivering a powerful political punch to a couple of U.S. senators, making clear to a startled Washington that they are not to be trifled with. LWV recently ran some hard-hitting TV ads taking Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown and Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill to task for trying to weaken enforcement of clean air laws.

"I was shocked," cried McCaskill. "To me they have always been about civic engagement and debates." Well, hello Senator – you've just been civicly engaged by a group of feisty women who realized that their polite and earnest letter-writing efforts to lawmakers like you were not working. With both parties kowtowing to the money of corporate polluters, senators were simply ignoring the letters, so the group toughened up.

Sen. Brown whined that LWV's ad was an ambush, as though the little ladies should stick to their inoffensive knitting. Pathetically, he tried to retaliate with an impetuous video slapping at the women's credibility, whimpering that they "have gone to the gutter with their negative ads."

Get a grip, Scott, You voted to gut EPA's clean air authority, so it's hardly gutter politics for a group of mothers and grandmothers to point that out to voters. You've also taken campaign cash from the lobbyists with whom you voted, so it's your credibility that's in question.

How shocking that senators are shocked when they're called to account by fed up voters!
(c) 2011 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's Statehood Decision
By Helen Thomas

The chips will be down for President Barack Obama this September when the United Nations General Assembly will be asked to vote for statehood for the Palestinians.

Obama has taken a weak stand against the so-called Israeli settlements (which are in reality colonies). The late Israeli prime minister and one of the original founders of Israel, Golda Meir, falsely described Palestine as "a land without people - a people for a land."

Palestinians were 85 percent in the majority when Theodor Herzl, a Hungarian activist, started the Zionist movement in the late 1800s. Zionists took over Palestine after gangs - Irgun, Stern and Haganah - began to plunder Palestinian villages and commit genocide against the native population. Olive groves were burned, and Palestinians were forced to flee.

The reoccurrence of the takeover of Palestinian homes and driving hundreds of Palestinians out of the country and into refugee camps in nearby countries gave Benjamin Netanyahu reason to claim that it was no longer possible to return to the 1967 borders. Not only that, the Israelis now plan to build 1,500 more homes in the West Bank, which dashes any hope of Palestinians returning to their homeland.

A few days before the Six-Day War broke out, Israeli statesman Abba Eban came to Washington, D.C. and went to the Pentagon, where he received U.S. maps of airports in the Middle East, which were bombed on June 5 by the Israelis, leaving 25 airports burning and helpless to aid the Palestinians.

Most offensive, during the 1967 attack on Palestine, was the bombing of the USS Liberty, killing many American sailors and wounding many more.

The angry survivors of the Liberty are still demanding justice for that crime. The bombing occurred in bright sunlight off the Israeli coast. American flags were unmistakably flying at its masthead. A sailor managed to crawl to a phone to SOS nearby American ships in the Mediterranean. But as American ships raced to the rescue, according to the survivors, President Lyndon B. Johnson called off the rescue attempt.

Israel widened its conquests of Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. The problem is that Israel had been in violation of international law (you cannot annex occupied territory). Another problem was that LBJ was running for reelection that year and needed the support of the Zionist in this country. Johnson ultimately stepped down before the formal start of his reelection campaign because of the nationwide protest of the Vietnam War.

On May 15, 1948, when Israel fought Arab armies to take over Palestine, President Harry S. Truman was awakened in the middle of the night by Jewish friends who demanded that he recognize the Israeli military victory as a fait accompli. It was at that time that Truman formally recognized Israel as a state.

Truman later complained in his memoirs about being stampeded to do the Israeli bidding. General George Marshall broke with Truman over the haste in which the U.S. was forced to diplomatically recognize the state of Israel. But it was an election year for Truman, and he needed the political support in his race against Republican New York governor Thomas Dewey. Truman won in an upset victory.

It will be par for the course if the U.S. blocks the resolution for statehood for the Palestinians. The Palestinians have lived in the area for centuries, dating back to the ancient Canaanites. The other great powers and members of the U.N., who are more sympathetic to the Palestinians' plight and more aware of their tragic history, will probably support statehood for the Palestinians.

A few months ago, the U.S. stood alone in a 14-0 vote against a resolution condemning Israel's brutal occupation of Palestine. The question is whether Obama will do it again. After all, the President is running for reelection and cannot run afoul of the American-Israeli Lobby (AIPEC), which has the power and can rally the voters.

It will take a lot of political courage on the part of Obama to stick to his declaration that Israel should return to its 1967 borders as a starting point to negotiate further land swaps but he surely should do that.
(c) 2011 Helen Thomas is a columnist for the Falls Church News-Press. Among other books she is the author of Front Row At The White House: My Life and Times.

Thank God The Church Is Dying
By James Donahue

If there is going to anything positive to emerge from the extreme right-wing political movement in the United States, it might just be the dying gasp of the Christian church.

It has been no secret that fundamental Christians have been heavily involved in Washington politics since the 1970s when Robert Grant lead a movement to found the American Christian Cause designed to institutionalize the "Christian Right" as a politically active movement. By 1979 the Rev. Jerry Falwell founded the Moral Majority. These organizations formed what has been known as the Evangelical Bloc, a group of elected political activists that has moved the nation toward the social conservatism now being strongly expressed by the so-called "Teabag Movement" within the Republican Party.

After Falwell's power play, Pat Robertson appeared a decade later to organize the Christian Coalition, which became the voice of the Christian Right. What Falwell and Robertson were pulling off, in the name of Jesus, was a political coup within the Washington power structure. Most Americans claimed to have Christian orientation so they dozed while this was going on before their eyes. They failed to recognize the dangers lurking in this blatant assault on the Constitutional call for a separation between the church and the state. Trouble began to emerge when George H. W. Bush won the support of most conservative Christian voters and was elected President in 1988. By 1994 Christian conservative Newt Gingrich became the spokesman for a band of newly elected conservative Republicans that took control of the House of Representatives. And in 2001 George W. Bush moved into the White House after winning the support of white conservative evangelical voters.

During this time there has been a dramatic shift in U. S. Supreme Court appointments. The court now leans so far to the extreme right we fear it may fall on its side.

One might think that church-going Bible-thumping conservatives claiming to be following the teachings of Jesus would be busy promoting legislation and voting for bills designed to be in the best interest of all of the people. While the conservative Republicans appear to be saying these things, their actions prove that they are followers of the Old Testament version of God instead.

They followed the two President Bush's into endless warfare, they have allowed the money changers to take over the national treasury and they have spearheaded an attack on women, the sick, poor and elderly. Overall they have generated a system of fear that has been used to strip the people of their Constitutional freedoms.

While openly standing opposed to homosexuality and gay marriage, pornography, prostitution and promiscuity, this band of elected legislators have found itself caught up in some of the worst sex scandals anyone can remember.

Under this twisted minded leadership, the United States has lost its moral and financial influence, its leadership role, and its beacon of light in the world. The nation's once great infrastructure is crumbling. Its once great education system has fallen to ruin. Its great military, although armed with some of the finest technology in the world, is spread so thin and so worn out from a decade of constant war on at least two fronts, that we are in danger of losing our place as a world power.

The people are waking up to the fact that they have been bamboozled by the conservatives but it may be too late for them to do much to change things. The nation finds itself with most of its industry moved overseas, its health care system broken, the national debt measuring in the multi-trillions of dollars, its roads, bridges, electric and sewer and water systems in shambles and big corporations handed the keys to what is left of the kingdom.

Can we blame all of this on the Christian Church? Probably not. But the fact that the trashing of the nation was accomplished under the umbrella of the "Evangelical Bloc" of Christian Right-Wing politicians has given the church a serious black eye. There is a growing number of people . . . mostly the younger Americans . . . that is so turned off by the Christian story that church membership is in serious decline. A recent story in noted that while "a vast majority of Americans say they believe in God," the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) in 2008 found that 12 percent of the people, or over 36 million, are declared atheists.

"To put that number in perspective, there are about as many atheists in America as there are members of all the mainline Protestant churches combined. There are ten times as many atheists as there are Jews or Mormons." USA Today recently reported that churches in Europe also are experiencing a dramatic decline in membership. A study on Global Christianity conducted by the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, South Hamilton, Mass., found that every major religion except Islam is declining in Western Europe. "The drop is most evident in France, Sweden and the Netherlands, where church attendance is less than 10 percent in some areas," the story said.

Strangely, there has been a growing Islamic movement in the United States as well. It is said that Islam is now the fastest growing faith in the world. The cause of this growth is unclear since Islamic faith is even more demanding in its extremes than Christianity, its followers believe in a Christ-like figure called Mohammad and study the Koran, a book of teachings that is about as complex to interpret for today's world as the Bible. We would think that the radical Islamic terrorist groups emerging from this block of religious followers would be turning many people away from that faith as well.

We notice a growing interest in pure spiritualism among the youth of the world. The USA Today story quoted one student in Ireland who said he has turned away from Christianity but remains "very spiritual."" I speak to an energy force I call God and I get answers. If you can get a spiritual connection without going to church, why go to church?"

The writer of the article lamented the negative influence the church has had on politics not only in the United States, but throughout the Christian world.

"Imagine the kind of world we could live in if atheists were a political force," he wrote. "It would be a world where secularism is the unquestioned law of the land, where religious groups wouldn't interfere in politics unless they could put forward arguments backed by evidence that anyone could examine, and not just appeals to faith.

"We'd rely on science and rationality to shape public policy, humanity would heed the voice of reason rather than gut feelings or superstitious taboos. In this world, the religious arguments propping up tribalism, racism and the oppression of women would wither away, the decrees of unelected and unaccountable authorities would fade into dust, and democracy and the liberty of the individual would be the guiding principles."

That is something to think about.
(c) 2011 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.

John Lennon: NOT A Closet Republican
By Jon Wiener

A guy named Fred Seaman is all over the conservative blogs today for a new documentary in which he claims that John Lennon was "a closet Republican" at the time he was shot. This seems unlikely.

First of all, who is Fred Seaman? He'd been a personal assistant to John and Yoko at the Dakota in the late seventies, but he's also a convicted criminal. He was found guilty of stealing John Lennon's personal belongings, including his diaries, after Lennon had been killed. He was sentenced to five years probation.

You might say that weakens his credibility.

What exactly were Lennon's political views at the end of 1980? Late that November, Lennon spoke out on behalf of striking workers in L.A. and San Francisco. (The story is told in my book "Come Together: John Lennon in his Time.") The strike was against Japan Foods Corporation, a subsidiary of the Japanese multinational Kikkoman, best known for its soy sauce. The US workers, primarily Japanese, were members of the Teamsters. In L.A. and San Francisco, they went on strike for higher wages. The shop steward of the LA local, Shinya Ono, persuaded John and Yoko to make a public statement addressed to the striking workers:

"We are with you in spirit. . . . In this beautiful country where democracy is the very foundation of its constitution, it is sad that we have to still fight for equal rights and equal pay for the citizens. Boycott it must be, if it is the only way to bring justice and restore the dignity of the constitution for the sake of all citizens of the US and their children.

"Peace and love, John Lennon and Yoko Ono. New York City, December, 1980."

That was Lennon's last written political statement. It doesn't seem to be the work of a "closet Republican."

Seaman says Lennon told him he was disillusioned with Jimmy Carter in 1980. Lots of people on the left were disillusioned with Jimmy Carter in 1980, and for good reasons. That didn't make you a Republican, closeted or otherwise.

In what turned out to be Lennon's last interview, with RKO radio the afternoon of the day he was shot, he talked about "the opening up of the sixties." He said "Maybe in the sixties we were naive and like children and later everyone when back to their rooms and said, 'we didn't get a wonderful world of flowers and peace. . . the world is a nasty horrible place because it didn't give use everything we cried for.' Right? Crying for it wasn't enough.

"The thing the sixties did was show us the possibility and the responsibility that we all had. It wasn't the answer. It just gave us a glimpse of the possibility."

That interview was his last. Six hours later he was killed.

Fred Seaman tried to cash in on his Lennon connection with an earlier book, published 20 years ago. That one has been forgotten. This story will be too.
© 2011 Jon Wiener teaches US history at UC Irvine. His most recent book is "Historians in Trouble". He sued the FBI under the Freedom of Information Act for its files on John Lennon. With the help of the ACLU of Southern California, Wiener v. FBI went all the way to the Supreme Court before the FBI settled in 1997.

Massaging The Monolith
Confusing Signals from the Persian Devils
By Chris Floyd

Oh my gosh! Apparently Iran is not a monolithic monster whose entire energies are united in destroy all that's good and holy and can be sold at Wal-Mart.

It looks like there are serious and deepening divisions in the ruling elite there, with the Ayatollah Khamenei slowly tightening the noose around the neck of President Ahmadinejad. How confusing this all is! For one thing, whom are we supposed to demonize in the usual cartoonish rendering of reality favored by our own noble leaders and our leading organs of information, where there must be, always, everywhere, "good guys" and "bad guys" to help or hinder?

Ahmadinejad has been one of the more durable "new Hitlers" of our era, always good for a scary headline or a boost in military spending or a reason for continuing the war crime in Iraq. But now he is being attacked by the Ayatollah, the black-robed center of Islamic extremism and "state-sponsored terrorism" in the popular -and political -mind. (It's likely that a great many people think Khamenei is the same Ayatollah who served as the all-powerful bin-Ladenish bogeyman of American nightmares after the Iranian hostage crisis.) How can we support an Islamic bogeyman against a secular leader? But if that leader is the new Hitler, then how can we???

It is a dilemma, but I'm sure our media massagers will work out the proper line soon enough. After all, look how adroitly they have handled the many metamorphoses of Moamar Gadafy's official reputation down through years: long-time boogeyman turned newfound good buddy -and now a "new Hitler" once again! Gadafy himself didn't change much over that time -just his relative usefulness, or degree of hindrance, to the agenda du jour of our great and good. If Khamenei cracks down harder, look for a "softening" or some sudden "nuance" in Ahmadinejad's media portrayal. Why not? He can always be fitted with horns again soon enough, as the need arises.


Mention of monolithic depictions of Islamic boogeyman calls to mind a couple of other pieces on the subject that I wrote some time ago. The first was a post based on a penetrating analysis by Pankaj Mishra ("The Culture of Fear") which set out the true situation of the "Muslim demographic" in Europe: miniscule and powerless. The intro to that piece is here:

A couple of years ago I wrote a blog post dealing with one of Mark Steyn's hate tracts about the Muslim "takeover" of Europe. Steyn, like his ardent admirer Martin Amis, displays a remarkably transparent psychosexual panic at the thought of big Muslim bucks breeding holy warriors to cast the white man down. (As an American Southerner, I am all too familiar with this "Mandingo Syndrome.")

Oddly enough, of all the articles I've written over the years, the Steyn piece has produced the longest-lasting reaction. To this day, I still get hate mail and indignant comments from Steyn's little sycophants, denouncing my ignorance of Islam's relentless, monolithic devouring of European "civilization." (I would highly recommend Mark Mazower's magisterial work of history, "Hitler's Empire," for anyone interested in seeking how very civilized Europe has been within living memory.)

Given that I live in one of the nations that the psychosexual panickers seem most exercised about -- Great Britain -- and in a neighborhood where at least every third person is a Muslim, or of Muslim background, I always find these condemnations of my "ignorance" on the subject of Islam in Europe pretty funny. I live among Muslims, work alongside Muslims, trade with Muslims, my children go to school with Muslims. I can reports from years of my own experience the astonishing fact that Muslims are actual, individual human beings like everyone else: a unique combination of disparate, changing, often conflicting elements, with wildly varying beliefs and behaviors. (What's more, a great many "Muslims" are not really Muslims; that is, they are about as "religious" in their actual behavior as, say, the countless millions of American "Christians" who have made pornography one of the Homeland's largest industries.)

But you would never know any of this from our best-selling Islamophobes. Or, given the ethnic and linguistic origins of Islam, should we not call them by their true names: anti-Semites? For indeed, their own rhetoric and ideas are indistinguishable from those of the anti-Semites of the early 20th century, who also wrote of dark, barbaric hordes of religious fanatics breeding and wheedling their way into dominance over a weak, flaccid, overly "liberal" white Europe. Substitute "Muslim" for "Jew" in the scared-stiff (or is it scared-flaccid?) screeds of Steyn, Amis, and others, and you will hear an exact replica of the anti-Semitism that was so rife throughout Western "civilization" in the pre-Holocaust years....

The second post was a response to the response the first piece provoked from one of the leading race-based sexual panickers of our day: Mark Steyn. Some excerpts from the second piece are below:

In that august forum of serious, respectable conservatism, "The Corner," Mark "Mandingo" Steyn has responded to the post here yesterday taking him and his fellow Islamophobes to task for the "psychosexual panic" they evince in the face of their self-concocted vision of a "takeover" of Europe by prodigiously breeding Muslims. It goes without saying that Steyn (and a few of his fanboys in the comments section here) make no genuine reply to the substance of the piece, which drew heavily on a long, detailed essay on Islamophobia by Pankaj Mishra in the Guardian. Instead, Mandingo comes up with what he obviously believes is the "smoking gun" to prove that a monolithic, undifferentiated, hive-minded Muslim horde is procreating its way to domination over the cowardly "pantywaists" of white Europe. And what is this killer evidence? (And "killer" is certainly the right term; for as we reported here yesterday, Steyn is on record as saying that Europeans will soon figure out how to "buck" the Muslim demographic surge: "If you can't outbreed the enemy, cull 'em.") Anyway, Mandingo's proof of Muslim overbreeding is -- brace yourself:

Lists of the most popular names for newborn boys.

Yes, Steyn -- the scholar's scholar, statistician extraordinaire -- has perused the popular names for babies in two whole European cities, and has discovered -- gasp! -- that they are headed by "Mohammed," and also have other Islam-derived names among the top ranks. This, he says, should convince "even the squishiest multiculti pantywaist" that there is sure enough an evil Ay-rab in the woodpile out there, and that, as he put it in one of his shaky-kneed screeds, it's "the end of the world as we know it."

Now, I would never put my meager learning up against an intellectual giant like Herr Professor Mandingo, but I would like to offer a few layman's observations on these earth-shattering revelations.

First, Herr Professor does not seem to realize that, as general rule, those of Muslim heritage tend to draw their children's first names from a small pool of historic Islamic names; and that variations of "Mohammed" are far and away the top choice from this small pool. Hence, in a list of baby's names, you will find a preponderance of a few Islamic monikers skewing the statistics.

At the same time, it is now the general fashion among those of Christian heritage in Europe (and the United States and Canada) to draw upon a far larger and more diverse pool of first names for their children. A few generations ago, most of these too would have come from a small pool of historic Christian names: saints, apostles, Biblical figures, etc. Now, they come from everywhere -- when they are not simply made up out of whole cloth. In other words, if it were the fashion today for Europeans of Christian heritage to name their children after, say, the four evangelists, then those same lists would be teeming with Matthews, Johns, Lukes -- and even Marks. I myself am a fairly prodigious breeder of offspring, and my four children have names drawn from Russian literature, Celtic myth, a Jane Austen novel and the Jewish scriptures. And this is typical of millions of other parents of Christian heritage.

Second, Professor Mandingo and his allies and acolytes also seem blissfully unaware that not every little baby named Mohammed is going to grow up to be one of the zealous, monolithic Muslims of their imagination. That boy is more likely to grow up to be a largely if not wholly secular guy, at home in the culture of the nation where he was born. (The same goes for girls too, of course, but as Steyn's little two-city lists deal only with boys, we'll confine the discussion to males.) And if he does grow up to be a practicing Muslim, again he will not be a member of some mythical zombie-like monolith, but will have to find his own individual path in a faith that is every bit as variegated, diverse, fractured and conflicted as Christianity, if not more so. But Mandingoism blinds its adherents to the fact that Muslims are actual, individual human beings, with all the inherent complexities and conflicts thereof. They can only see a dark, undifferentiated mass spreading like an oil slick over the pristine marble surface of European "civilization."

Finally, there is the embarrassing fact that Muslims constitute a miniscule minority in Europe: as Mishra pointed out only yesterday, "Muslims account for only 3% to 4% of the EU's total population of 493 million." In the UK, there are an estimated 2 million people who call themselves Muslim, out of a total population of around 61 million. And many if not most of the "statistics" on the "Muslim takeover" of Europe used by the Mandingoist panic-merchants are, to use strict academic nomenclature, bullshit. ...

[But] as Ronald Reagan once said, facts are stupid things. Lies are so much more fun -- and more profitable. (Go write a book about "The Non-Threat of a Muslim Europe" and see if any wingut welfare outfits like Regnery Publishing will write you a check.) The fact that Muslims are a small minority in Europe, that their birthrate is falling, that Islam is not a blank, seething, monolithic mass, that Muslims are human beings who live, work, love, strive, suffer and play alongside and with their fellow compatriots without violence or conflict on a daily basis across Europe and the world -- none of this means anything to those whose blood runs hot at the sound of Mandingo tom-toms beating in their minds.

But, despite everything, we must give Mark Steyn his due. In his baby-name riposte, he does step up and manfully admit that we should "take it as read" that he and Martin Amis and other allies "are all xenophobic racist rightwing nuts suffering from psychosexual panic." I think that here, at last, Herr Professor is standing on solid factual ground.

(c) 2011 Chris Floyd

Is Greece Being Blackmailed To Put The Brakes On Gaza? Flotilla?
By Medea Benjamin

The 50 passengers and crew on the U.S. boat to Gaza have converged in Athens, Greece, ready to head out to sea to join an international fleet of ships that will challenge the Israeli-imposed naval blockade of Gaza. But on Thursday, June 23, when the boat was scheduled to leave its port outside Athens and move closer to an international meeting point, the boat"s owner was suddenly served with a complaint by an unknown individual that the boat was not seaworthy. The captain, convinced that the complaint was bogus, was nevertheless told by Greek authorities that he could not set sail until they did a thorough inspection.

Also on Thursday, Greek port authorities issued an unusual warning to all ship captains to steer clear of the coordinates that correspond with Israel"s naval blockade of Gaza. The advisory said there will be continuous electronic surveillance of the region to "record the movements of ships that will possibly participate in such an action."

It appears that the Greek government is bowing to intense pressure from the Israelis-and possibly the U.S. government-to try to block the flotilla. The American passengers on the U.S. boat, called The Audacity of Hope, are pushing the Greek government to do a quick inspection, as they are convinced the ship would pass muster. "The boat we are leasing for this journey has been worked on for months by qualified technicians and is ready to sail," said organizer and passenger Ann Wright. "We do not believe it needs to be re-inspected, but we are open to the Greek authorities doing this quickly so that there will be no further delays."

The move to block the U.S. boat is just the latest in a flurry of recent activity designed to thwart the flotilla. Israel has publicly stated that it is pressuring countries around the world to stop their citizens from participating. Its pressure on the Turkish government was so intense that the Turkish ship, the Mavi Marmara, the same ship that was so violently attacked last year, recently announced that it would not be joining the flotilla.

Several boats in the international flotilla are now docked in Greece. To its credit, the Greek government has taken a position that the blockade on Gaza must be lifted and many people in the government are sympathetic to the aims of the flotilla. But Greece is being battered by a severe economic crisis that has wreaked havoc within the government itself. The passengers speculate that Israel, which has extensive trade and investment ties with Greece, is callously taking advantage of the economic hardship the Greek people are experiencing right now to put the screws on the Greek government.

They also see the hidden hand of the United States behind this, as the Obama administration has been publicly railing against the flotilla, calling it a "provocative act" against Israel and issuing harsh travel warnings to Americans against any attempts to reach Gaza by boat. The U.S. passengers speculate that the Obama Administration is using economic blackmail on the Greek government. Greece's economic and political crisis is a result of extreme austerity measures imposed by the European Union and the largely U.S.-controlled International Monetary Fund (IMF). The United States may well be using its leverage at the IMF over the implementation of an ongoing bailout of European banks with massive Greek debts to compel the Greek government to block the U.S. boat.

"Greece is not going to be able to meet the targets that it is pledging to the IMF and the European authorities. In this situation the IMF and therefore the U.S. government will have enormous leverage because these institutions will decide what will be acceptable benchmarks for Greece to receive future tranches of IMF/EU funding," said Mark Weisbrot, Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington DC.

Passengers on the U.S. boat are asking Greek government officials to clarify the situation. "Is our boat being blocked from leaving Greece because of an anonymous request of a private citizen concerning the seaworthiness of the ship, a situation could be easily dealt with by a quick inspection, or is this a political decision by the Greek government in response to economic pressure?," asked passenger and political analyst Robert Naiman.

In any event, the flotilla participants remain determined to set sail. "We have overcome many roadblocks along the way and we will overcome this one as well," said passenger and CODEPINK organizer Ridgely Fuller. "We might not have the economic clout of the U.S. and Israeli governments, but we have morality and the support of the Greek people on our side."

Medea Benjamin is a passenger on the U.S. boat to Gaza, called the Audacity of Hope.
(c) 2011 Medea Benjamin is cofounder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK, which has organized seven humanitarian delegations to Gaza.

The Urge To Purge
By Paul Krugman

Last year it was the OECD; now it"s the Bank for International Settlements. Once again, Very Serious men at an international organization seem determined to find reasons to tighten monetary policy in the face of a continuing deep slump.

The BIS cites rising commodity prices and rising implied inflation forecasts based on interest rate spreads. The thing about reports like this, however, is that they have to be written and approved by committees, which means that they"re based on lagging data - and sure enough, both interest spreads and commodity price inflation are telling quite different stories these days.

The report also argues that potential output has been permanently reduced by the slump, arguing in particular that "the destruction of human capital due to long-term unemployment" will weigh on growth. You might think that this was a reason to take urgent action to reduce long-term unemployment. But no.

And, inevitably, there are the alleged parallels with the 1970s. Except their own data suggests hardly any parallel at all. Here"s one comparison (ULC is unit labor costs):

Headline inflation and unit labor costs

Notice the difference in scales. In the 1970s there was a major wage-price spiral; this time none at all. But whatever.

And the BIS also goes for a lot of vague warnings about how low interest rates discourage responsible behavior.

There"s something going on here, and I don"t think it"s really about economic analysis. Like others, the BIS is clearly engaged in monetary Calvinball making up rules and concepts on the fly so as to justify monetary tightening whatever the circumstances. There seems to be a deep urge to inflict pain, to purge the rottenness or something.

It"s scary. And the world will suffer for it.
(c) 2011 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

*We grow tyrannical fighting tyranny. The most alarming spectacle today is not the spectacle of the atomic bomb in an unfederated world, it is the spectacle of the Americans beginning to accept the device of loyalty oathsand witchhunts, beginning to call anybody they don't like a Communist."
~~~ E.B. White

Your I & A staff

Gone With The Papers
By Chris Hedges

I visited the Hartford Courant as a high school student. It was the first time I was in a newsroom. The Connecticut paper"s newsroom, the size of a city block, was packed with rows of metal desks, most piled high with newspapers and notebooks. Reporters banged furiously on heavy typewriters set amid tangled phone cords, overflowing ashtrays, dirty coffee mugs and stacks of paper, many of which were in sloping piles on the floor. The din and clamor, the incessantly ringing phones, the haze of cigarette and cigar smoke that lay over the feverish hive, the hoarse shouts, the bustle and movement of reporters, most in disheveled coats and ties, made it seem an exotic, living organism. I was infatuated. I dreamed of entering this fraternity, which I eventually did, for more than two decades writing for The Dallas Morning News, The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor and, finally, The New York Times, where I spent most of my career as a foreign correspondent.

Newsrooms today are anemic and forlorn wastelands. I was recently in the newsroom at The Philadelphia Inquirer, and patches of the floor, also the size of a city block, were open space or given over to rows of empty desks. These institutions are going the way of the massive rotary presses that lurked like undersea monsters in the bowels of newspaper buildings, roaring to life at night. The heavily oiled behemoths, the ones that spat out sheets of newsprint at lightning speed, once empowered and enriched newspaper publishers who for a few lucrative decades held a monopoly on connecting sellers with buyers. Now that that monopoly is gone, now that the sellers no long need newsprint to reach buyers, the fortunes of newspapers are declining as fast as the page counts of daily news sheets.

The great newspapers sustained legendary reporters such as I.F. Stone, Murray Kempton and Homer Bigart who wrote stories that brought down embezzlers, cheats, crooks and liars, who covered wars and conflicts, who told us about famines in Africa and the peculiarities of the French or what it was like to be poor and forgotten in our urban slums or Appalachia. These presses churned out raw lists of data, from sports scores to stock prices. Newspapers took us into parts of the city or the world we would never otherwise have seen or visited. Reporters and critics reviewed movies, books, dance, theater and music and covered sporting events. Newspapers printed the text of presidential addresses, sent reporters to chronicle the inner workings of City Hall and followed the courts and the police. Photographers and reporters raced to cover the lurid and the macabre, from Mafia hits to crimes of passion.

We are losing a peculiar culture and an ethic. This loss is impoverishing our civil discourse and leaving us less and less connected to the city, the nation and the world around us. The death of newsprint represents the end of an era. And news gathering will not be replaced by the Internet. Journalism, at least on the large scale of old newsrooms, is no longer commercially viable. Reporting is time-consuming and labor-intensive. It requires going out and talking to people. It means doing this every day. It means looking constantly for sources, tips, leads, documents, informants, whistle-blowers, new facts and information, untold stories and news. Reporters often spend days finding little or nothing of significance. The work can be tedious and is expensive. And as the budgets of large metropolitan dailies shrink, the very trade of reporting declines. Most city papers at their zenith employed several hundred reporters and editors and had operating budgets in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The steady decline of the news business means we are plunging larger and larger parts of our society into dark holes and opening up greater opportunities for unchecked corruption, disinformation and the abuse of power.

A democracy survives when its citizens have access to trustworthy and impartial sources of information, when it can discern lies from truth, when civic discourse is grounded in verifiable fact. And with the decimation of reporting these sources of information are disappearing. The increasing fusion of news and entertainment, the rise of a class of celebrity journalists on television who define reporting by their access to the famous and the powerful, the retreat by many readers into the ideological ghettos of the Internet and the ruthless drive by corporations to destroy the traditional news business are leaving us deaf, dumb and blind. The relentless assault on the "liberal press" by right-wing propaganda outlets such as Fox News or by the Christian right is in fact an assault on a system of information grounded in verifiable fact. And once this bedrock of civil discourse is eradicated, people will be free, as many already are, to believe whatever they want to believe, to pick and choose what facts or opinions suit their world and what do not. In this new world lies will become true.

I, like many who cared more about truth than news, was pushed out of The New York Times, specifically over my vocal and public opposition to the war in Iraq. This is not a new story. Those reporters who persistently challenge the orthodoxy of belief, who question and examine the reigning political passions, always tacitly embraced by the commercial media, are often banished. There is a constant battle in newsrooms between the managers, those who serve the interests of the institution and the needs of the advertisers, and reporters whose loyalty is to readers. I have a great affection for reporters, who hide their idealism behind a thin veneer of cynicism and worldliness. I also harbor a deep distrust and even loathing for the careerists who rise up the food chain to become managers and editors.

Sidney Schanberg was nearly killed in Cambodia in 1975 after staying there for The New York Times to cover the conquest of Phnom Penh by the Khmer Rouge, reporting for which he won a Pulitzer Prize. Later he went back to New York from Cambodia and ran the city desk. He pushed reporters to report about the homeless, the poor and the victims of developers who were forcing families out of their rent-controlled apartments. But it was not a good time to give a voice to the weak and the poor. The social movements built around the opposition to the Vietnam War had dissolved. Alternative publications, including the magazine Ramparts, which through a series of exposés had embarrassed the established media organizations into doing real reporting, had gone out of business.

The commercial press had, once again, become lethargic. It had less and less incentive to challenge the power elite. Many editors viewed Schanberg"s concerns as relics of a dead era. He was removed as city editor and assigned to write a column about New York. He used the column, however, to again decry the abuse of the powerful, especially developers. The then-editor of the paper, Abe Rosenthal, began to acidly refer to Schanberg as the resident "Commie" and address him as "St. Francis." Rosenthal, who met William F. Buckley almost weekly for lunch along with the paper"s publisher, Arthur "Punch" Sulzberger, grew increasingly impatient with Schanberg, who was challenging the activities of their powerful friends. Schanberg became a pariah. He was not invited to the paper"s table at two consecutive Inner Circle dinners held for New York reporters. The senior editors and the publisher did not attend the previews for the film "The Killing Fields," based on Schanberg"s experience in Cambodia. His days at the newspaper were numbered.

The city Schanberg profiled in his column did not look like the glossy ads in Rosenthal"s new lifestyle sections or the Sunday New York Times magazine. Schanberg"s city was one in which thousands of citizens were sleeping on the streets. It was one where there were lines at soup kitchens. It was a city where the mentally ill were thrown onto heating grates or into jails like human refuse. He wrote of people who were unable to afford housing. He lost his column and left the paper to work for New York Newsday and later The Village Voice.

Schanberg"s story was one of many. The best reporters almost always run afoul of the mandarins above them, a clash that sees them defanged and demoted or driven out. They are banished by a class of careerists whom the war correspondent Homer Bigart dismissed as "the pygmies." One evening Bigart was assigned to write about a riot, drawing from the information provided by reporters on the scene. As one reporter, John Kifner, called in from a phone booth rioters began to shake it. Kifner relayed the distressing bit of news to Bigart, who, sick of the needling of his editors, reassumed Kifner with the words: "At least you"re dealing with sane people."

Those who insist on reporting uncomfortable truths always try the patience of the careerists who manage these institutions. If they are too persistent, as most good reporters are, they become "a problem." This battle, which exists in all newsrooms, was summed up for me by the Los Angeles Times reporter Dial Torgerson, whom I worked with in Central America until he was killed by a land mine on the border between Honduras and Nicaragua. "Always remember," he once told me of newspaper editors, "they are the enemy."

When I met with Schanberg in his apartment on Manhattan"s Upper West Side he told me, "I heard all kinds of reports over the years that the wealthy patrons of the Metropolitan Museum of Art would often get to use the customs clearance provided to the museum to import personal items, including jewelry, which was not going to the museum. I can"t prove this, but I believe it to be true. Would the Times investigate this? Not in a million years. The publisher at the time was the chairman of the board of the museum. These were his friends."

But Schanberg also argues, as do I, that newspapers prove a vital bulwark for a democratic state. It is possible to decry their numerous failings and compromises with the power elite and yet finally honor them as important to the maintenance of democracy. Traditionally, if a reporter goes out and reports on an event, the information is usually trustworthy and accurate. The report can be slanted or biased. It can leave out vital facts. But it is not fiction. The day The New York Times and other great city newspapers die, if such a day comes, will be a black day for the nation.

Newspapers "do more than anyone else, although they left out a lot of things," Schanberg said. "There are stories on their blackout list. But it is important the paper is there because they spend money on what they chose to cover. Most of the problem of mainstream journalism is what they leave out. But what they do, aside from the daily boiler plate, press releases and so forth, is very, very important to the democratic process."

"Papers function as a guide to newcomers, to immigrants, as to what the ethos is, what the rules are, how we are supposed to behave," Schanberg added. "That is not always good, obviously, because this is the consensus of the Establishment. But papers, probably more in the earlier years than now, print texts of things people will never see elsewhere. It tells them what you have to do to cast a vote. It covers things like the swearing in of immigrants. They are a positive force. I don"t think The New York Times was ever a fully committed accountability paper. I am not sure there is one. I don"t know who coined the phrase Afghanistanism, but it fits for newspapers. Afghanistanism means you can cover all the corruption you find in Afghanistan, but don"t try to do it in your own backyard. The Washington Post does not cover Washington. It covers official Washington. The Times ignores lots of omissions and worse by members of the Establishment."

"Newspapers do not erase bad things. Newspapers keep the swamp from getting any deeper, from rising higher. We do it in spurts. We discover the civil rights movement. We discover the women"s rights movement. We go at it hellbent because now it is kosher to write about those who have been neglected and treated like half citizens. And then when things calm down it becomes easy not to do that anymore."

The death of newspapers means, as Schanberg points out, that we will lose one more bulwark holding back the swamp of corporate malfeasance, abuse and lies. It will make it harder for us as a society to separate illusion from reality, fact from opinion, reality from fantasy. There is nothing, of course, intrinsically good about newspapers. We have long been cursed with sleazy tabloids and the fictional stories of the supermarket press, which have now become the staple of television journalism. The commercial press, in the name of balance and objectivity, had always skillfully muted the truth in the name of news or blotted it out. But the loss of great newspapers, newspapers that engage with the community, means the loss of one of the cornerstones of our open, democratic state. We face the prospect, in the very near future, of major metropolitan cities without city newspapers. This loss will diminish our capacity for self-reflection and take away the critical tools we need to monitor what is happening around us.

The leaders of the civil rights movement grasped from the start that without a press willing to attend their marches and report fairly from their communities on the injustices they decried and the repression they suffered, the movement would "have been a bird without wings," as civil rights leader and U.S. Rep. John Lewis said.

"Without the media"s willingness to stand in harm"s way and starkly portray events of the Movement as they saw them unfold, Americans may never have understood or even believed the horrors that African Americans faced in the Deep South," Lewis, a Georgia Democrat, said in 2005 when the House celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act. "That commitment to publish the truth took courage. It was incredibly dangerous to be seen with a pad, a pen, or a camera in Mississippi, Alabama or Georgia where the heart of the struggle took place. There was a violent desperation among local and State officials and the citizens to maintain the traditional order. People wanted to keep their injustice a secret. They wanted to hide from the critical eye of a disapproving world. They wanted to flee from the convictions of their own conscience. And they wanted to destroy the ugly reflection that nonviolent protestors and camera images so graphically displayed. So when the Freedom Riders climbed off the bus in Alabama in 1961, for example, there were reporters who were beaten and bloodied before any of us were."

Our political apparatus and systems of information have been diminished and taken hostage by corporations. Our government no longer responds to the needs or rights of citizens. We have been left disempowered without the traditional mechanisms to be heard. Those who battle the corporate destruction of the ecosystem and seek to protect the remnants of our civil society must again take to the streets. They have to engage in acts of civil disobedience. But this time around the media and the systems of communication have dramatically changed.

The death of journalism, the loss of reporters on the airwaves and in print who believed the plight of the ordinary citizen should be reported, means that it will be harder for ordinary voices and dissenters to reach the wider public. The preoccupation with news as entertainment and the loss of sustained reporting will effectively marginalize and silence those who seek to be heard or to defy established power. Protests, unlike in the 1960s, will have a difficult time garnering the daily national coverage that characterized the reporting on the civil rights movement and the anti-war movement and in the end threatened the power elite. Acts of protest, no longer covered or barely covered, will leap up like disconnected wildfires, more easily snuffed out or ignored. It will be hard if not impossible for resistance leaders to have their voices amplified across the nation, to build a national movement for change. The failings of newspapers were huge, but in the years ahead, as the last battle for democracy means dissent, civil disobedience and protest, we will miss them.
(c) 2011 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. He is the author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. His latest book is, ""Death Of The Liberal Class."

Washington Okays Attack On Unarmed U.S. Ship
By Stephen Zunes

The Obama administration appears to have given a green light to an Israeli attack on an unarmed flotilla carrying peace and human rights activists - including a vessel with 50 Americans on board - bound for the besieged Gaza Strip. At a press conference on June 24, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticized the flotilla organized by the Free Gaza Campaign by saying it would "provoke actions by entering into Israeli waters and creating a situation in which the Israelis have the right to defend themselves."

Clinton did not explain why a country had "the right to defend themselves" against ships which are clearly no threat. Not only have organizers of the flotilla gone to great steps to ensure are there no weapons on board, the only cargo bound for Gaza on the U.S. ship are letters of solidarity to the Palestinians in that besieged enclave who have suffered under devastating Israeli bombardments, a crippling blockade, and a right-wing Islamist government. Nor did Clinton explain why the State Department suddenly considers the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of the port of Gaza to be "Israeli waters," when the entire international community recognizes Israeli territorial waters as being well to the northeast of the ships' intended route.

The risk of an Israeli attack on the flotilla is real. Israeli commandoes illegally assaulted a similar flotilla in international waters on May 31 of last year, killing nine people on board one of the vessels, including Furkan Dogan, a 19-year old U.S. citizen. Scores of others, including a number of Americans, were brutally beaten and more than a dozen others were shot but survived their wounds. According to a UN investigation, based on eyewitness testimony and analysis by a forensic pathologist and ballistic expert, Dogan was initially shot while filming the assault and then murdered while lying face down with a bullet shot at close range in the back of the head. The United States was the only one of the 47 members of the UN Human Rights Council to vote against the adoption of the report. The Obama administration never filed a complaint with the Israeli government, demonstrating its willingness to allow the armed forces of U.S. allies to murder U.S. citizens on the high seas.

As indicated by Clinton's statement of last week, the administration appears to be willing to let it happen again.

Congressional Response

Last year, 329 out of 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives signed a letter that referred to Israel's attack that killed Dogan and the others as an act of "self-defense" which they "strongly support." A Senate letter - signed by 87 out of 100 senators - went on record "fully" supporting what it called "Israel's right to self-defense," claiming that the effort to relieve critical shortages of food and medicine in the besieged Gaza Strip was simply part of a "clever tactical and diplomatic ploy" by "Israel's opponents" to "challenge its international standing."

But not everyone in Congress believes the assaulting and killing human rights activists on the high seas is legitimate. Last week, on June 24, six members of Congress signed a letter to Secretary Clinton requesting that she "do everything in her power to work with the Israeli government to ensure the safety of the U.S. citizens on board." As of this writing, they have not received a response.

Earlier in the week, the State Department issued a public statement to discourage Americans from taking part in the second Gaza flotilla because they might be attacked by Israeli forces. Yet thus far neither the State Department nor the White House has issued a public statement demanding that Israel not attack Americans legally traveling in international waters. Indeed, on Friday, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland implied that the United States would blame those taking part in the flotilla rather than the rightist Israeli government should anything happen to them. Like those in the early 1960s who claimed civil rights protesters were responsible for the attacks by white racist mobs because they had "provoked them," Nuland stated, "Groups that seek to break Israel's maritime blockade of Gaza are taking irresponsible and provocative actions that risk the safety of their passengers." Again, The Obama administration didn't offer even one word encouraging caution or restraint by the Israeli government, nor did it mention that the International Red Cross and other advocates of international humanitarian law recognize that the Israeli blockade is illegal.

Who's On Board

Passengers of the U.S. boat, christened The Audacity of Hope, include celebrated novelist Alice Walker, holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein, former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, veteran foreign service officer and retired lieutenant colonel Ann Wright, Israeli-American linguistics professor Hagit Borer, and prominent peace and human rights activists like Medea Benjamin, Robert Naiman, Steve Fake, and Kathy Kelly. Ten other boats are carrying hundreds of other civilians from dozens of other countries, along with nearly three thousand tons of aid. Those on board include members of national parliaments and other prominent political figures, writers, artists, clergy from various faith traditions, journalists, and athletes.

Fifteen ships have previously sailed or attempted to sail to Gaza as part of the Free Gaza Campaign. None was found to contain any weapons or materials that could be used for military purposes. The current flotilla organizers have stated that their cargoes are "open to international inspection." Despite this, however, the Obama State Department insists that the Israelis have the right to intercept the ships due to the "vital importance to Israel's security of ensuring that all cargo bound for Gaza is appropriately screened for illegal arms and dual-use materials."

Though the flotilla organizers have made clear that the U.S. boat is only carrying letters of support for the people of Gaza, the State Department has also threatened participants with "fines and incarceration" if they attempt to provide "material support or other resources to or for the benefit of a designated foreign terrorist organization, such as Hamas."

As with many actions supporting Palestinian rights, the coalition of groups endorsing the flotilla includes pro-Palestinian groups as well as peace, human rights, religious, pacifist and liberal organizations, including Progressive Democrats of America, Pax Christi, Peace Action, Nonviolence International, Jewish Voice for Peace, War Resisters League, and the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. Despite this, Brad Sherman (D-CA), ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Relations Committee's subcommittee on terrorism, nonproliferation and trade, has claimed that organizers of the flotilla have "clear terrorist ties" and has called upon U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to prosecute U.S. citizens involved with the flotilla and ban foreign participants from ever entering the United States.

Israel's Position

Largely as a result of last year's flotilla, Israel has somewhat relaxed its draconian siege on the territory, which had resulted in a major public health crisis. The State Department has gone to some lengths to praise Israel for allowing some construction material into the Gaza Strip to make possible the rebuilding of some of the thousands of homes, businesses and public facilities destroyed in Israel's devastating U.S.-backed 2008-2009 military offensive, which resulted in the deaths of over 800 civilians. At no point, however, has the Obama administration ever criticized Israel for destroying those civilian structures in the first place.

As with many potentially confrontational nonviolent direct actions, there are genuine differences within the peace and human rights community regarding the timing, the nature, and other aspects of the forthcoming flotilla. However, the response to the Obama administration's position on the flotilla has been overwhelmingly negative. Many among his progressive base, already disappointed at his failure to take a tougher line against the rightist Israeli government as well as his reluctance to embrace human rights and international law as a basis for Israeli-Palestinian peace, feel increasingly alienated from the president.

More significantly, the Obama administration's response may signal a return to the Reagan administration's policies of defending the killing of U.S. human rights workers in order to discourage grassroots acts of international solidarity, as when Reagan officials sought to blame the victims and exonerate the perpetrators for the murder of four American churchwomen by the El Salvadoran junta and the murder of American engineer Ben Linder by the Nicaraguan Contras. Perhaps the Obama administration hopes that giving a green light to an Israeli attack on the U.S. ship and other vessels in the flotilla will serve as a warning. Perhaps they hope that Americans volunteering for groups like Peace Brigades International, Witness for Peace, Nonviolent Peaceforce, Christian Peacemaker Teams, International Solidarity Movement, and other groups operating in conflict zones like Mexico, Colombia, Guatemala, El Salvador, Sri Lanka, Palestine, Nepal, Indonesia and elsewhere will think twice, knowing that the U.S. government will not live up to its obligations to try to protect nonviolent U.S. activists from violence perpetrated by allied governments.

Indeed, nothing frightens a militaristic state more than the power of nonviolent action.
© 2011 Dr. Stephen Zunes is a Professor of Politics and International Studies at the University of San Francisco, where he chairs the program in Middle Eastern Studies. A native of North Carolina, Professor Zunes received his PhD. from Cornell University. He serves as a senior policy analyst for the Foreign Policy in Focus project of the Institute for Policy Studies, an associate editor of Peace Review, and chair of the academic advisory committee for the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict. His most recent book, co-authored with Jacob Mundy, is Western Sahara: War, Nationalism, and Conflict Irresolution (Syracuse University Press, 2010.)

The Dead Letter Office...

Judge Prosser gives the corpo-rat salute

Heil Obama,

Dear Richter Prosser,

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, Vidkun Quisling and last year's winner Volksjudge Elena (Butch) Kagan.

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and for being a stooge to the corpo-rats, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Rethuglican Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds, presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 07-04-2011. We salute you Herr Prosser, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

Wisconsin Governor Walker's Chief Judicial Ally Accused Of Physically Assaulting Jurist Who Defended Rule Of Law
By John Nichols

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser, who mentored Governor Scott Walker when both men served as Republican legislators in the 1990s, has positioned himself as the high court's primary defender of Walker's extreme anti-labor and anti-local democracy agenda.

Now, it appears that the justice, whose unstable behavior and violent language has been frequently noted in media reports, is willing to go to any length to protect Walker from legal accountability.

Justice Prosser, who retained his seat on the court only after the recount of results from an April statewide election that saw charges of political abuse and fraud aimed at the justice's campaign and its political allies, now stands accused of physically attacking a justice who disagreed with his push to make the Supreme Court an amen corner for the governor.

Earlier this month, when Justice Prosser was leading an effort to get the court to clear the way for implementation of Walker's proposal to strip state, county and municipal employees of collective bargaining rights, he had to wrangle support for an unprecedented reinterpretation of the state's open meetings law the said rules requiring official transparency and accessibility do not apply to the state legislature. Only by gutting the open meetings law could the court's conservative majority rule that the legislature's passage of Walker's plan-which did not follow open meetings requirements-was legitimate.

The court did just that, issuing a 4-3 ruling on June 14, which gave Walker everything he sought. Justice Prosser's extended defense of the missteps and misdeeds of the governor's legislative allies was condemned by Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, who decried the appearance of "a partisan slant" in the former Republican legislator's reasoning and suggested that Prosser was reaching "unsupported conclusions."

Chief Justice Abrahamson, the senior jurist on the court, complained that Prosser and the other members of the four-member majority, were "hastily reaching judgment" and rendering a determination that was "disingenuous, based on disinformation," "lacking a reasoned, transparent analysis" and characterized by "numerous errors of law and fact."

Justice Anne Walsh Bradley sided with Chief Justice Abrahamson.

Shortly before the court acted, Justice Prosser reportedly went to the office of Justice Bradley.

Justice Bradley, a veteran jurist broadly seen as the court's most congenial member, had raised questions about Justice Prosser's aggressive and verbally abusive behavior in the past. And she was at odds with Justice Prosser's attempt to have the court rubberstamp the governor's plan-as the Republican-controlled chambers of the legislature had previously done.

Justice Prosser's alleged assault on Justice Bradley was witnessed by several other justices. As Justice Prosser grew more agitated during his meeting with his fellow jurist, Justice Bradley reportedly asked him to leave her office. At that point, sources say, Justice Prosser lunged at Justice Bradley and grabbed her neck with both hands, Capitol Police were reportedly contacted following the attack. Justice Prosser, after initially refusing to comment, claimed that a review of the "facts surrounding (the incident)" will offer him some measure of exoneration. But this sounds an awfully lot lie Prosser's claim following a previous incident that he began screaming obscenities and threatening Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson because – Justice Prosser complained -- the senior jurist in some unexplained manner had "provoked" him.

Justice Prosser seems to have a penchant for getting "provoked" into verbally and physically violent behavior – especially toward female colleagues.

The state's largest newspaper, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, reported in March that: "As the deeply divided state Supreme Court wrestled over whether to force one member off criminal cases last year, Justice David Prosser exploded at Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson behind closed doors, calling her a 'bitch' and threatening to 'destroy' her."

Justice Prosser acknowledged to the newspaper the basic description of the incident but corrected one detail, saying: "In the context of this, I said, 'You are a total bitch.'"

At the time of the previous incident, Justice Bradley wrote Justice Prosser, urging him to "end these abusive temper tantrums."

Justice Bradley, who noted Justice Prosser's explosive outbursts had become more frequent, also urged other justices to stop making excuses for Justice Prosser's threatening words and deeds.

"Regardless of our disagreements, there is no justification for this abusive behavior," she wrote. "Blaming his abusive behavior on others merely enables it."

Justice Prosser was not held to account after he verbally abused Chief Justice Abrahamson.

Now, the question is whether he will be held to account following reports that he has assaulted another female justice.

As the details of incidents of this kind continue to come to light, Justice Prosser may choose to admit that he is no longer fit to serve. Failing that, the justice can be removed by the legislature, via an impeachment procedure, or he can be recalled by the voters of the Wisconsin.
(c) 2011 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. He is a contributing writer for The Progressive and In These Times and the associate editor of the Capital Times, the daily newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and dozens of other newspapers.

If Brazil Has To Guard Its Rainforest, Why Does Canada/U.S. Get To Burn Its Tar Sands?
By Bill McKibben

It was big news in Canada when, in 2008, the country slipped from the top-ten list of the world's most peaceful countries (all the way to eleventh). By this year, it was back in eighth, 74 places above the U.S. and, when liberals in the U.S. feel despairing, what dominates their fantasy life but "moving to Canada?"

And yet, today, you could make an argument that Canada has actually become one of the earth's more irresponsible nations -- namely, when it comes to the environment. Indeed, you could argue that the world would be better off if the government in Ottawa was replaced by, say, the one in Brasilia, which has made a far better show of attending to the planet's welfare. It's a tale of physics, chemistry, and most of all economics, and it all starts in the western province of Alberta.

The Province's Tar Sands cover an area larger than the United Kingdom and contain most of the world's supply of bitumen, a particularly sticky form of petroleum that must be heated or diluted before it can be pumped. Because it's so unwieldy, it's only been in recent years that large-scale development of the tar sands have taken place. The steep rise in global oil prices has set off a boom in the region, with all that naturally follows (prostitutes have reported incomes as high as $15,000 a week).

But this is a boom unlike others. It's the first huge oil play of the global-warming era, the first time we've dangerously stepped onto new turf, even though we understand the stakes.

NASA's James Hansen, the earth's premier climatologist, has laid out these stakes with some precision. His team found in 2008 that, if the atmospheric concentration of CO2 exceeds 350 parts per million, we won't be able to have a planet "similar to the one on which civilization exists and to which life on earth is adapted." We're at 390 parts per million right now, and, what do you know, the Arctic is melting rapidly, the atmosphere is getting steadily wetter, and the oceans are turning sharply more acid. Follow Hansen's math a little further: If we wean ourselves from fossil fuels by 2030, then the earth's CO2 levels will begin to fall, and, by century's end, we'll be back near 350. Damage will be done in the meantime, but perhaps survivable damage. And, conveniently, the world's supply of "conventional," easy-to-get-at oil is starting to dwindle: The deposits in places like Saudi Arabia, which were built long before anyone had heard of climate change, are nearing the autumn of their lives. We could, in other words, use this moment of declining oil supply as a spur to make the leap toward renewable energy -- a gut-wrenching leap, but one that, if we landed successfully, would put us in a new world.

But two things could prolong our addiction to the point where irrevocable damage is assured: coal and unconventional oil. If we keep burning these substances, then the atmospheric level of CO2 will continue to rise steadily. Which brings us back to Alberta, currently gearing up to develop more of that unconventional oil. The province's oil minister, Ron Liepert, recently told the Financial Times that Alberta was going "full speed ahead" in an effort to double production by the end of the century; indeed, he said, technological progress might allow the province to find new ways to extract oil from other formations, further increasing production and moving Canada into the top tier of the world's oil producers, alongside Saudi Arabia and Russia. Liepert said his government was "proceeding all out" to find new markets for the oil, and that he was hopeful not only of building a huge new pipeline to the U.S, but also of selling to China, which he said would "take every drop" of the tar sands oil.

The problem? If you could somehow burn all the oil in Alberta overnight (which, thank God, you can't) Hansen's team calculates it would raise the planet's concentration of CO2 by 200 parts per million -- that is, our current 390 parts per million would become almost 600 parts per million, a level not seen since the Miocene Era, about 25 million years ago. But, forgetting the overnight scenario, even just bringing the tar sands steadily online -- adding a big new stream of carbon to the atmosphere -- would make the already hugely difficult job of phasing out emissions essentially impossible. As Hansen wrote in early June in a letter to fellow scientists, "if the tar sands are thrown into the mix, it is essentially game over." The game, in this case, being the planet.

Several thousand miles away south of Alberta, in the Amazon rainforest, things are different. In some sense, the world "discovered" the Amazon as a precious planetary resource at roughly the same time Canada discovered the commercial potential of the tar sands. When the first Rio summit on the environment was held in 1992, the Amazon was one of the stars: It was, one speaker after another insisted, the "lungs of the planet." "Contrary to what Brazilians think, the Amazon is not their property, it belongs to all of us," a young Senator named Al Gore said in those years. That didn't sit easily with Brazil, which is, after all, a very poor country, with a per capita income of under $3,000; its leaders, one after another, have declared, as one would expect, that the Amazon is theirs.

They have also, however, done fairly remarkable things to keep the forest intact. Consider the State of Acre, a fairly good analogue with Alberta: It has set up a remarkable system of controls on forest clearing, using remote sensing satellites to track down violators. It provides subsidies and tax incentives for forest protection; it's joined together with California to provide carbon credits for those who leave trees alone. None of this was easy -- Acre was the state where rubber tapper Chico Mendes was murdered in the early days of the fight over the Amazon. But, after three decades of hard work, Acre -- in the words of Stephen Kretzmann from the Environmental Defense Fund -- is "a good example of what's most needed in the world: vision, pragmatism, and the conviction and persistence to make change even when it seems impossibly difficult and distant."

Brazil as a whole has made remarkable progress: Between 2006 and 2010, the country reduced Amazon deforestation by two-thirds from the previous decade, reducing about one billion tons of greenhouse gas pollution; the annual damage is measured in Rhode Islands now, not Germanys. It still has huge problems -- in fact, there seems to be a surge of deforestation underway this year, and big agricultural interests are currently pressing to weaken the nation's forestry's law. Much hangs in the balance. But President Dilma Roussef is pledging to reduce deforestation by another 80 percent, and to cut the country's greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent. And Brazil's voters may give her reason to keep those promises: They gave nearly one-fifth of their votes in the last election to Green Party candidate Marina Silva, the former rubber tapper responsible for much of the pathbreaking work in Acre.

Shouldn't Canada feel the same kind of responsibility to keep carbon safely in the ground that Brazil feels to keep its trees rooted? Absolutely. And another important question: Would the world stand by, as it has more or less done as Canada has accessed its tar lands, if Brazil's president promised to find new markets so that "every splinter" of wood her country produced could be sold? It's hard to imagine so.

Exploiting the tar sands is a crime, pure and simple -- and, given the stakes, it is one of the most staggering the world has ever seen. Not surprisingly, given geography and history, Canada has an accomplice in this crime. Most of the petroleum it produces gets sold in the U.S., still the largest market for oil in the world. Early in the Obama administration, the president approved a pipeline to the Midwest that expanded this trade. This year, the U.S. stands poised to open a much larger spigot, the so-called Keystone XL pipeline, which will carry the heavy Canadian bitumen to Texas refineries. How crucial is the new pipeline project to the tar sands' future? A couple of weeks ago Canadian oilmen gave the verdict to the Globe and Mail. "Unless we get increased [market] access, like with Keystone XL, we're going to be stuck," said Ralph Glass, an economist and vice-president at AJM Petroleum Consultants in Calgary. And here's the quotable Liepert once more: "If there was something that kept me up at night, it would be the fear that before too long we're going to be landlocked in bitumen," he said. "We're not going to be an energy superpower if we can't get the oil out of Alberta." That is to say, there's no use planning this particular bank robbery if there isn't someone to drive the getaway car.

On the face of it, one would suspect Obama to say "no" to a new pipeline for Canadian oil: He ran, of course, as a staunch foe of global warming and, on the eve of his nomination, promised that, in his administration, the "rise of the oceans would begin to slow and the planet begin to heal." And since even the backers of the Keystone pipeline acknowledge it wouldn't cut gas prices (and, indeed, would probably cause them to rise), there's scant political reason to open the gates. But, of course, there's an awful lot of money to be made, and that money exerts incredible political pressure: Transcanada Pipeline, for instance, the main builder of the project, has hired Hillary Clinton's former deputy campaign director as its chief lobbyist, and the secretary of state has said she's "inclined" to approve the project.

Like any other vast expenditure of money, the Keystone pipeline would create jobs (though, by undercutting the emerging renewables industry, it would cost them, too), and it would make us less dependent on foreign oil, if you don't count Canada as foreign. None of that, however, gets around the essential point: to prevent the planet from overheating, you need to keep carbon in the ground. (You also need to keep coal in the ground; Obama offered a dreadful premonition of this decision earlier this year, when he opened federal land in Wyoming to coal-mining -- there's less carbon in the Powder River Basin than in the tar sands, but that one sale was the equivalent of opening 300 new coal-fired power plants).

Which brings us back to the Amazon, and the double standard we are seeing when it comes to environmental politics. Let's say that President Obama was being asked to sign a certificate allowing a pipeline to carry an endless stream of logs from the Amazon. That, too, would create jobs -- but he wouldn't do it. He wouldn't do it because the world understands how crucial the rainforest is to its future, and because we seem to demand more from Brazil than from Canada (or the U.S., for that matter). Someday, perhaps the world will similarly stop thinking about the oil sands as a source of power and money and instead come to terms with its well-defined dangers. The question is whether we'll reach that conclusion before we pour the carbon into the air, or after.
(c) 2011 Bill McKibben is Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College, co-founder of His most recent book is Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet.

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Jen Sorenson ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

The Histories Of America
By Mrs. Betty Bowers

America's not as she was today.
She wasn't even that way yesterday.
Our story's like Jesus' nativity.
Conflicting with infallibility.
This Land was found to give the Church a mate.
Or just a quickie divorce from the State.
But who cares how posterity sees us?
Soon, we'll be sipping cocktails with Jesus!

The Ice Age

There's no one to hunt on the frontier,
When the sole immigrant is a glacier.

The First Visitors

No Eden escapes human intrusion.
Someone's bound to traipse down an Aleutian.
This arrival might now be an occasion
Had they been European, not Asian.
Claiming domain in all continental,
Oh, what a shame this sprawl was a rental!

America's First Illegal Aliens

From Bering Strait snows to Florida's sun,
All real estate goes to him with the gun.

The Mormon Visitors

As His flock was gnawed by hungry lions,
Jesus popped abroad, to sightsee Mayans.
"Natives were Jews!" so the LDS say.
This came as news to bemused DNA.
They rode tidy horses that left no bones,
According to a book written by stones.
If vexing facts try to spoil your fun
Give facts the ax; buy the Book of Mormon!

The Wandering Crew

America reveres Chris Columbus,
Though mapping, it appears, left him nonplus.
Deplore an explorer's no sense of aim.
Chris might've known whence, but not where he came.
Failing to target his destinations,
Thinking Ming's argot's spoken by Haitians!
He found China -- or someplace tinier.
America? There was no finding her!
Thus began our rash nation's tradition:
To yawn at skill and fawn at ambition.

The Pilgrims

These visitors' shoes matched clasps on chapeau.
Inquisitors used to turning chap foe.
It behooved to disapprove with this sort.
Judging is seldom a spectator sport.
Puritans were pure, quite annoyingly.
Ev'ry man's Goody, a goody-goody.
They sailed when others quizzed their faith's fitness.
To assail brothers -- without a witness.
Just as nuns shun fun without compunction,
Fleeing was just a function of unction.
With decks full of prudes, docks the Mayflower,
And instead of foods, pox and a glower.
They starved, so natives gave Pilgrims a hand.
Who carved up their turkey -- and then their land.
For execution, they were witch burners,
At persecution, they were quick learners.
Out of this void, America did stem:
Folks paranoid of fanatics not them.


Before it's reprised, history's revised.
Arriving surprising, unrecognized.
(c) 2011 Mrs. Betty Bowers is America's best Christian.

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