Issues & Alibis

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In This Edition

Tim McGirk asks a rhetorical question, "Israeli Prisons: Are Palestinian Children Abused?"

Uri Avnery examines the similarities, "Between Tel Aviv And Tehran."

Amy Goodman demands we, "Undo The Coup."

Jim Hightower is, "Finding Ways To Perk Up CEO Pay."

Ted Rall apologizes in, "Sorry, Mr. Bush."

Barbara Peterson returns with, "A Beginner's Guide To Food Storage."

Paul Krugman reports they're, "Betraying The Planet."

Chris Floyd explains the, "Court Circular: Annals of Imperial Continuity."

Case Wagenvoord recalls, "Class Division And The Dating Game."

Mike Folkerth says, "The Fall Will Probably Kill Us!."

Chris Hedges concludes, "The Truth Alone Will Not Set You Free."

Dennis Kucinich declares, "Passing A Weak Bill Today Gives Us Weak Environmental Policy Tomorrow."

South Carolina governor Mark Sanford wins the coveted "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Norman Solomon follows, "Obama And Anti-War Democrats."

Mary Pitt thinks, "Digitized Medical Records Would Save Lives."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Will Durst is, "Grading Democracy On A Curve" but first Uncle Ernie sez, "Mandrake Gestures Hypnotically!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Bruce Beattie, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Married To The Sea.Com, Destonio.Net, Khalil Bendib, Nick Kim, Stan Mack, Tom Toles, Preston, Berg, USDA, School of the Americas Watch, 20th Century Fox, Issues & Alibis.Org and Pink & Blue Films.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

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

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

Mandrake Gestures Hypnotically!
By Ernest Stewart

"Mandrake gestures hypnotically!" ~~~ Mandrake the Magician

Billie Jean is not my lover
She's just a girl...
Billie Jean ~~~ Michael Jackson

"We must hang together, gentlemen...else, we shall most assuredly hang separately."
~~~ Ben Jamin' Franklin - Philadelphia, July 3, 1776 ~~~

Some of you may recall reading "Mandrake the Magician" in the funny papers in your youth. Mandrake celebrated its 75 anniversary on June 11th and for those of you who aren't familiar with Mandrake, he was magician who always wore his "stage clothes," top hat, tails, and a long cape. He often added a walking stick to the ensemble. This, apparently, was hip attire for magicians in 1934; strangely, he still wears that same outfit to this very day! Mandrake, in his spare time, rescued damsels in distress and fought for truth, justice, and the... etc. etc.

Mandrake's crew consisted of Lothor, a prince from Africa and the strongest man in the world, and his chef HoJo, who was also the secret chief of Inter Intel. Together they saved the world from the vilest creatures on the planet! While he called on both Lothor and HoJo in every adventure, Mandrake relied on his ability to almost instantly hypnotize anyone at whom he "gestures!" When Mandrake "gestures hypnotically," his subjects see illusions of whatever Mandrakes suggests. Mandrake uses this technique in his "battles with a variety of gangsters, mad scientists, extraterrestrials and 'characters from other dimensions.'" It's this last category I'd like to talk about if I may.

Speaking of "characters from other dimensions," the Changeling burst upon the scene in 2007 and almost overnight had a "cult of personality" forming around him. Every whistle stop began to resemble "Bund Rallies!" Every photo-op shot him from below as one would the Fuhrer or a god! Sure, the time was right for Barry, race card and all. America wanted change; even the Sheeple had finally woken to Smirkey's reality. Obama seized upon that need and rode it and the hatred of Hilary Clinton to the ballot box but that doesn't explain how the Sheeple were fooled again. Anyone who bothered to look at his voting record in the Sin-ate knew that he had already been bought and paid for by the same folks who owned the "Crime Family Bush" so I wasn't surprised by the fact we have same ole, same ole in "Foggy Bottom" no matter all the talk of "CHANGE!" Were you surprised, America?

Obama got all that bailout money for the banks, the money for the states, the money for the "big" three, the money for an expanded war and he's going to get his energy bill, so how is he doing it? My guess is that he has Mandrake's ability to instantly hypnotize the Sheeple (including Con-gress) and give them subconscious illusions every time they see him on their new HD TVs or on their Computers and P.A's. And you thought those little cameras were to make funhouse pictures with or send your version of Jackass to YouTube, huh?

In Other News

America celebrates pedophilia! There's no business, like show business, huh? It's been pretty much Jacko this and Jacko that since America's favorite child molester bit the big one and went to burn for eternity in Hell! Don't you only wish there was such a place for the likes of him? That's right, folks. Although he was able to buy his way out of one trial and lucked his way out of another, the one-time, self-proclaimed king of pop liked sleeping with little boys, no matter what his high priced attorneys say! He had a ranch specifically built to look like "The Land of Play" from Pinocchio and meant to entice and trap little boys so he could expose his multi-colored member to the little ones whose parents were ether too stupid to know what was going down or were trying to make a buck off of it. Folks, if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, flies like a duck, looks like a duck and f*cks like a duck, it's a duck, make no mistake! The same goes for pedophiles!

I know my governor, Mark Sanford, is kicking himself in the ass for not waiting another day to come out of the closet as another Republican whore! If he had, it wouldn't have made the 3rd page and it might have gotten swept under the rug, this being South Carolina and all! Timing is everything in life!

Jacko, who started out living the American dream and became a pop super star, succumbed to being ultra rich and powerful and after getting all the money he would ever need, he began to change reality, first by butchering himself and then by reaching out to other people's children to do the same to them. He went from being a handsome young Afro-American man to looking like a bizarre (think freak show) white woman! I have no doubt that we have daddy dearest to thank for this and mommy dearest for going along with it. Both of whom, by-the-way came right out of the gate trying to capitalize off his death. In other words the Jacksons are the all American family!

None of this is news. I said nothing startling or unknown but because of his music and the American media, most all of America is feeling sad for their great loss. Oh please! And America, being America, rushed right off and made Sony and many other corporations billions by buying Jacko's albums and merchandise. Meanwhile, the last few of our rights and the rest of our money are being stolen from us by the Changeling and friends and all we know is Jacko is gone.

Oh, and that "phew" you may be hearing as background noise is the collective sighing of relief from a half a billion little boys around the world!

And Finally

It's that time of the year when we pack a picnic hamper, load the car with family and friends and head off to a park where we can spread a blanket and watch the 4th of July fireworks. When I was a lad, it was often the high point of the summer and everyone in the neighborhood, no matter how poor, would be there to oooo and ahhh with the rest. Several years ago my hometown of Dearborn Michigan turned the city-financed fireworks over to private hands and ever since people have to pay to see them. This year it's $27 a head for an adult and $17.50 per child for fireworks being run by The Henry Ford Museum, which calls itself "The Henry Ford" Their pretentiousness is mind-boggling and so are their prices. Still, celebrating the 4th is now where it should be in the hands of the same people who started and directly benefited from "La Revolution," the Chamber of Commerce!

This is only typical and will only get worse in the days to come. The top five abou-to-fail states are, in alphabet order, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Indiana and Mississippi. Strangely enough, or perhaps not, is the fact that they all have Republican governors. Imagine that!

In California Arnold the Groppenfuhrer states he will not allow taxes to be raised, basically because the financial shortfall doesn't effect any of his billionaire friends. Can you guess who is about to be cut off? If you said the poorest and the weakest of the people, you were right and may stay after class and clean the erasers! Apparently, Arnold can't hear their screams, pleas and moans from the mansion?

There are plans in place for handing out about, $3 billion worth of "IOUs" in July unless a compromise on closing the deficit is quickly reached. The Democrats want to raise a few taxes and close some billionaire loop holes in the tax code to balance the budgets after making cuts across the board while Arnold said f*ck the people, no taxes! These "IOUs" will be sent to college students, welfare recipients, low-income seniors, the disabled and others who depend on delivery of state services. Counties will not be paid for social programs they administer. I wonder if the Alpha Beta will take "IOUs" or the corpo-rat goons who hold your mortgage or your lease will take them? This is a second round of cuts for Arnold in the last year or so and no, the first round didn't cost the upper classes a penny in new taxes either but did take money from schools, hospitals, education and welfare. Funny thing that, huh? I guess old Gray Davis wasn't so bad after all, eh?

That should give you few remaining members of the middle class something to look forward to. All the money in taxes for rainy day funds are long since gone and you can expect squat if you need some help. Our own poor old horn-dog of a governor, Mark Sanford, only lost it after he lost to his own party. When South Carolina's Republican legislature forced him to take Obama's stimulus funds to help pay for those welfare, food stamp, and unemployment benefits in this chronically unemployed disaster area as well as education monies for the worst school system in America, Sanford went south. I'm going to repeat that again for those of you on drugs...

"Mark only lost it when they wouldn't let him spend the stimulus money on his rich friends and perhaps a few mistresses and made him, instead, spend it on the people, where it was needed most!"

Fortunately, he was overridden by the legislature so, in a fit of pique, he ran off to his mistress in Argentina! Just because poor people and the education system would be alright, he went over the edge!

Wouldn't George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Thomas Brady, Patrick Henry, John Adams, Sam Adams, Abigail Adams, Gomez Addams and Ben Jamin' Franklin be proud of what America has become? Can't you hear them all spinning in their graves, right now? So as we're all sitting around Saturday night going oooo and ahhh I'll be thinking about paradise lost in these here United Snakes, what went wrong and how we can fix it!


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

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Ernest & Victoria Stewart


04-05-1922 ~~~ 06-27-2009
Bye bye Margie!

07-20-1958 ~~~ 06-28-2009
I'm Dead!

03-22-1912 ~~~ 07-01-2009
Michael says no more crap!


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


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

Israeli Prisons: Are Palestinian Children Abused?
By Tim McGirk

JERUSALEM: Walid Abu Obeida, a 13-year-old Palestinian farm boy from the West Bank village of Ya'abad, had never spoken to an Israeli until he rounded a corner at dusk carrying his shopping bags and found two Israeli soldiers waiting with their rifles aimed at him. "They accused me of throwing stones at them," recounts Walid, a skinny kid with dark eyes. "Then one of them smacked me in the face, and my nose started bleeding."

According to Walid, the two soldiers blindfolded and handcuffed him, dragged him to a jeep and drove away. All that his family would know about their missing son was that his shopping bags with meat and rice for that evening's dinner were found in the dusty road near an olive grove. Over the course of several days in April last year, the boy says he was moved from an army camp to a prison, where he was crammed into a cell with five other children, cursed at and humiliated by the guards and beaten by his interrogator until he confessed to stone-throwing. (See pictures of Israeli soldiers sweeping into Gaza.)

Walid says he saw his parents for only five seconds when he was brought before an Israeli military court and accused by the uniformed prosecutor not only of throwing stones but of "striking an Israeli officer." The military judge ignored the latter charge and chose to prosecute Walid only for allegedly heaving a stone at soldiers.

The boy got off lightly: he spent 28 days in prison and was fined 500 shekels (approximately $120). Under Israeli military law, which prevails in the Palestinian territories, the crime of throwing a stone at an Israeli solider or even at the monolithic 20-ft.-high "security barrier" enclosing much of the West Bank can carry a maximum 20-year-prison sentence. Since 2000, according to the Palestinian Ministry for Prisoner Affairs, more than 6,500 children have been arrested, mostly for hurling rocks.

Walid's story is hardly unusual, judging from a report on the Israeli military-justice system in the West Bank compiled by the Palestine office of the Geneva-based Defense for Children International, which works closely with the U.N. and European states. Human-rights groups in Israel and elsewhere have also condemned the punishment meted out to Palestinian children by Israeli military justice. Most onerous, says Sarit Michaeli of the Israeli human-rights group B'Tselem, is that inside the territories, the Israeli military deems any Palestinian who is 16 years and older as an adult, while inside Israel, the U.S. and most other countries, adulthood is reached at age 18.

The report states that "the ill-treatment and torture" of Palestinian child prisoners "appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalized, suggesting complicity at all levels of the political and military chain of command." The group's director, Rifaat Kassis, says the number of child arrests rose sharply in the past six months, possibly because of a crackdown on Palestinian protests in the West Bank in the aftermath of Israel's military offensive in Gaza.

The Geneva organization's report alleges that under Israeli military justice, it is the norm for children to be interrogated by the Israeli police and army without either a lawyer or a family member present and that most of their convictions are due to confessions extracted during interrogation sessions or from "secret evidence," usually tip-offs from unnamed Palestinian informers. If so, the practice may violate the U.N. Convention Against Torture, which Israel ratified in 1991. In response to TIME's queries, a lawyer for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said that under "security legislation" and Israel's interpretation of international law, no lawyer or relative need be present during a child's interrogation.

The children's rights defenders collected testimony from 33 minors, including a child identified merely as "Ezzat H.," who described a "soldier wearing black sunglasses [who] came into the room where I was held and pointed his rifle at me. The rifle barrel was a few centimeters from my face. I was so terrified that I started to shiver. He made fun of me and said: 'Shivering? Tell me where the [father's hidden] pistol is before I shoot you.'" According to the report, Ezzat was 10 years old at the time. TIME asked the IDF to comment on the specific incidents mentioned in the report, but a spokesman said that would be impossible without knowing the names of the soldiers allegedly involved.

Often, children suffer lasting traumas from jail. Says Saleh Nazzal of the Palestinian Ministry of Prisoner Affairs: "When soldiers burst into a house and drag away a child, he loses his feeling of being protected by his family. He comes back from prison alienated from his family, his friends. They don't like going back to school or even leaving the house. They start wetting their beds." Says Mona Zaghrout, a YMCA counselor who helps kids returning from prison: "They come out of prison thinking and acting like they are men. Their childhood is gone." And they often turn to another father figure - the armed militant groups fighting the Israeli occupation.

According to the Israeli human-rights group Breaking the Silence, a few Israeli soldiers are alarmed by their own troops' behavior. The group cites the testimony of two officers who complained before a military court that during an operation last March in Hares village, soldiers herded 150 male villagers, some as young as 14, into a schoolyard in the middle of the night, where they were kept bound, blindfolded and beaten over the course of more than 12 hours.

A U.N. Committee Against Torture, which met on May 15 in Geneva, expressed its "concern" over Israel's alleged abuses of Palestinian child prisoners. The IDF denies any ill treatment of children detainees and insists that all claims are thoroughly investigated and that the number of complaints has dropped. But Khalid Quzman, a defense lawyer at the Israeli military courts, says, "We don't complain anymore because it's a waste of time." More than 600 complaints of torture and ill treatment were filed between 2001 and 2008, he says, "and not a single criminal investigation was ever carried out."

Inculcating respect for an occupying force is, of course, a difficult task under any circumstances. In the case of the Palestinians, history and society have made hatred for Israel almost an instinct. Still, there was shock in June among Palestinians when members of a West Bank family were accused of hanging a boy for suspected collaboration with Israeli forces.

Israel's treatment of Palestinian children and teens as combatants perpetuates the cycle of hatred. After a spell in an Israeli jail, it's hard for a young Palestinian to stay uninvolved. Walid says he never cared much for anything aside from his school friends and family before his incarceration. Now he bears a radioactive hatred towards Israelis. "The soldiers' curses and insults, I'll carry them to my grave," he says.
(c) 2009 Tim McGirk, is Time's magazines Jerusalem Bureau Chief and is no stranger to conflict. He recently arrived in the Middle East after covering Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan and thought he would be moving to a calmer region. He was wrong.

Between Tel Aviv And Tehran
By Uri Avnery

HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of Iranian citizens pour into the streets in order to protest against their government! What a wonderful sight! Gideon Levy wrote in Haaretz that he envies the Iranians.

And indeed, anyone who tries these days to get Israelis in any numbers into the streets could die of envy. It is very difficult to get even hundreds of people to protest against the evil deeds or policies of our government - and not because everybody supports it. At the height of the war against Gaza, half a year ago, it was not easy to mobilize ten thousand protesters. Only once a year does the peace camp succeed in bringing a hundred thousand people to the square - and then only to commemorate the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin.

The atmosphere in Israel is a mixture of indifference, fatigue and a "loss of the belief in the ability to change reality," as a Supreme Court justice put it this week. A very dramatic change is needed in order to get masses of people to demonstrate for peace.

FOR MIR-HOSSEIN MOUSAVI hundreds of thousands have demonstrated, and hundreds of thousands have demonstrated for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. That says something about the people and about the regime.

Can anyone imagine a hundred thousand people gathering in Cairo's Tahrir Square to protest against the official election results? The police would open fire before a thousand had assembled there.

Would even a thousand people be allowed to demonstrate in Amman against His Majesty? The very idea is absurd.

Some years ago, the Saudi security forces in Mecca opened fire on unruly pilgrims. In Saudi Arabia, there are never protests against election results - simply because there are no elections.

In Iran, however, there are elections, and how! They are more frequent than elections in the US, and Iranian presidents change more often than American ones. Indeed, the very protests and riots show how seriously the citizens there treat election results.

OF COURSE, the Iranian regime is not democratic in the way we understand democracy. There is a Supreme Guide who fixes the rules of the game. Religious bodies rule out candidates they do not like. Parliament cannot adopt laws that contradict religious law. And the laws of God are unchangeable - at most, their interpretation can change.

All this is not entirely foreign to Israelis. From the very beginning the religious camp has been trying to turn Israel into a religious state, in which religious law (called Halakha) would be above the civil law. Laws "revealed" thousands of years ago and regarded as unchangeable would take precedence over laws enacted by the democratically elected Knesset.

To understand Iran, we have only to look at one of the important Israeli parties: Shas. They, too, have a Supreme Guide, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who decides everything. He appoints the party leadership, he selects the party's Knesset candidates, he directs the party faction how to vote on every single issue. There are no elections in Shas. And in comparison with the frequent outbursts of Rabbi Ovadia, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a model of moderation.

ELECTIONS DIFFER from country to country. It is very difficult to compare the fairness of elections in one country with those in another.

At one end of the scale were the elections in the good old Soviet Union. There it was joked that a voter entered the ballot room, received a closed envelope from an official and was politely requested to put it into the ballot box.

"What, can't I know who I am voting for?" the voter demanded.

The official was shocked. "Of course not! In the Soviet Union we have secret elections!"

At the other end of the scale there should stand that bastion of democracy, the USA. But in elections there, only nine years ago, the results were decided by the Supreme Court. The losers, who had voted for Al Gore, are convinced to this very day that the results were fraudulent.

In Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan and now, apparently, also in Egypt, rule is passed from father to son or from brother to brother. A family affair.

Our own elections are clean, more or less, even if after every election people claim that in the Orthodox Jewish quarters the dead also voted. Three and a half million inhabitants of the occupied Palestinian territories also held democratic elections in 2006, which former President Jimmy Carter described as exemplary, but Israel, the US and Europe refused to accept the results, because they did not like them.

So it seems that democracy is a matter of geography.

WERE THE election results in Iran falsified? Practically no one of us - in Tel Aviv, Washington or London - can know. We have no idea, because none of us - and that includes the chiefs of all intelligence agencies - really knows what is happening in that country. We can only try to apply our common sense, based on the little information we have.

Clearly, hundreds of thousands of voters honestly believe that the results were faked. Otherwise, they would not have taken to the streets. But this is a quite normal among losers. During the intoxication of an election campaign, every party believes that it is about to win. When this does not happen, it is quite sure that the results are forged.

Some time ago, Germany's excellent 3Sat television channel broadcast an arresting report about Tehran. The crew drove through the main street from the North of the city to the South, stopping frequently along the way, entering people's homes, visiting mosques and nightclubs.

I learned that Tehran is largely similar to Tel Aviv at least in one respect: in the North there reside the rich and the well-to-do, in the South the poor and underprivileged. The Northerners imitate the US, go to prestigious universities and dance in the clubs. The women are liberated. The Southerners stick to tradition, revere the ayatollahs or the rabbis, and detest the shameless and corrupt North.

Mousavi is the candidate of the North, Ahmadinejad of the South. The villages and small towns - which we call the "periphery" - identify with the south and are alienated from the north.

In Tel Aviv, the South voted for Likud, Shas and the other right-wing parties. The North voted for Labor and Kadima. In our elections, a few months ago, the Right thus won a resounding victory.

It seems that something very similar happened in Iran. It is reasonable to assume that Ahmadinejad genuinely won.

The sole Western outfit that conducted a serious public opinion poll in Iran prior to the elections came up with figures that proved very close to the official results. It is hard to imagine huge forgeries, concerning many millions of votes, when thousands of polling station personnel are involved. In other words: it is entirely plausible that Ahmadinejad really won. If there were forgeries - and there is no reason to believe that there were not - they probably did not reach proportions that could sway the end result.

There is a simple test for the success of a revolution: has the revolutionary spirit penetrated the army? Since the French Revolution, no revolution has succeeded when the army was steadfast in support of the existing regime. Both the 1917 February and October revolutions in Russia succeeded because the army was in a state of dissolution. In 1918, much the same happened in Germany. Mussolini and Hitler took great pains not to challenge the army, and came to power with its support.

In many revolutions, the decisive moment arrives when the crowds in the street confront the soldiers and policemen, and the question arises: will they open fire on their own people? When the soldiers refuse, the revolution wins. When they shoot, that is the end of the matter.

When Boris Yeltsin climbed on the tank, the solders refused to shoot and he won. The Berlin wall fell because one East-German police officer refused at the decisive moment to give the order to open fire. In Iran, Khomeini won when, in the final test, the soldiers of the Shah refused to shoot. That did not happen this time. The security forces were ready to shoot. They were not infected by the revolutionary spirit. The way it looks now, that was the end of the affair.

I AM not an admirer of Ahmadinejad. Mousavi appeals to me much more.

I do not like leaders who are in direct contact with God, who make speeches to the masses from a balcony, who use demagogic and provocative language, who ride on the waves of hatred and fear. His denial of the holocaust - an idiotic exercise in itself - only adds to Ahmadinejad's image as a primitive or cynical leader.

No doubt, he is a sworn enemy of the state of Israel or - as he prefers to call it - the "Zionist regime." Even if he did not promise to wipe it out himself, as erroneously reported, but only expressed his belief that it would "disappear from the map," this does not set my mind at rest.

It is an open question whether Mousavi, if elected, would have made a difference as far as we are concerned. Would Iran have abandoned its efforts to produce nuclear weapons? Would it have reduced its support of the Palestinian resistance? The answer is negative.

It is an open secret that our leaders hoped that Ahmadinejad would win, exacerbate the hatred of the Western world against himself and make reconciliation with America more difficult.

All through the crisis, Barack Obama has behaved with admirable restraint. American and Western public opinion, as well as the supporters of the Israeli government, called upon him to raise his voice, identify with the protesters, wear a green tie in their honor, condemn the Ayatollahs and Ahmadinejad in no uncertain terms. But except for minimal criticism, he did not do so, displaying both wisdom and political courage.

Iran is what it is. The US must negotiate with it, for its own sake and for our sake, too. Only this way - if at all - is it possible to prevent or hold up its development of nuclear weapons. And if we are condemned to live under the shadow of an Iranian nuclear bomb, in a classic situation of a balance of terror, it would be better if the bomb were in the hands of an Iranian leadership that keeps up a dialogue with the American president. And of course, it would be good for us if - before reaching that point - we could achieve, with the friendly support of Obama, full peace with the Palestinian people, thus removing the main justification for Iran's hostility towards Israel.

The revolt of the Northerners in Iran will remain, so it seems, a passing episode. It may, hopefully, have an impact in the long run, beneath the surface. But in the meantime, it makes no sense to deny the victory of the Iranian denier.
(c) 2009 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Undo The Coup
By Amy Goodman

The first coup d'etat in Central America in more than a quarter-century occurred last Sunday in Honduras. Honduran soldiers roused democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya from his bed and flew him into exile in Costa Rica. The coup, led by the Honduran Gen. Romeo Vasquez, has been condemned by the United States, the European Union, the United Nations, the Organization of American States and all of Honduras' immediate national neighbors. Mass protests have erupted on the streets of Honduras, with reports that elements in the military loyal to Zelaya are rebelling against the coup.

The United States has a long history of domination in the hemisphere. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton can chart a new course, away from the dark days of military dictatorship, repression and murder. Obama indicated such a direction when he spoke in April at the Summit of the Americas: "[A]t times we sought to dictate our terms. But I pledge to you that we seek an equal partnership. There is no senior partner and junior partner in our relations."

Two who know well the history of dictated U.S. terms are Dr. Juan Almendares, a medical doctor and award-winning human rights activist in Honduras, and the American clergyman Father Roy Bourgeois, a priest who for years has fought to close the U.S. Army's School of the Americas (SOA) at Fort Benning, Ga. Both men link the coup in Honduras to the SOA.

The SOA, renamed in 2000 the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), is the U.S. military facility that trains Latin American soldiers. The SOA has trained more than 60,000 soldiers, many of whom have returned home and committed human rights abuses, torture, extrajudicial execution and massacres.

Almendares, targeted by Honduran death squads and the military, has been the victim of that training. He talked to me from Tegucigalpa, the Honduran capital: "Most of this military have been trained by the School of America. ... They have been guardians of the multinational business from the United States or from other countries. ... The army in Honduras has links with very powerful people, very rich, wealthy people who keep the poverty in the country. We are occupied by your country."

Born in Louisiana, Bourgeois became a Catholic priest in 1972. He worked in Bolivia and was forced out by the (SOA-trained) dictator Gen. Hugo Banzer. The assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero and the murders of four Catholic churchwomen in El Salvador in 1980 led him to protest where some of the killers were trained: Fort Benning's SOA. After six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter were murdered in El Salvador in 1989, Bourgeois founded SOA Watch and has built an international movement to close the SOA.

Honduran coup leader Vasquez attended the SOA in 1976 and 1984. Air Force Gen. Luis Javier Prince Suazo, who also participated in the coup, was trained at the SOA in 1996.

Bourgeois' SOA Watch office is just yards from the Fort Benning gates. He has been frustrated in recent years by increased secrecy at SOA/WHINSEC. He told me: "They are trying to present the school as one of democracy and transparency, but we are not able to get the names of those trained here-for over five years. However, there was a little sign of hope when the U.S. House approved an amendment to the defense authorization bill last week that would force the school to release names and ranks of people who train here." The amendment still has to make it through the House-Senate conference committee.

Bourgeois speaks with the same urgency that he has for decades. His voice is well known at Fort Benning, where he was first arrested more than 25 years ago when he climbed a tree at night near the barracks of Salvadoran soldiers who were training there at the time.

Bourgeois blasted a recording of the voice of Romero in his last address before he was assassinated. The archbishop was speaking directly to Salvadoran soldiers in his country: "In the name of God, in the name of this suffering people whose cry rises to heaven more loudly each day, I implore you, I beg you, I order you: Stop the repression."

Almost 30 years later, in a country bordering Romero's El Salvador, the U.S. has a chance to change course and support the democratic institutions of Honduras. Undo the coup.
(c) 2009 Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!," a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 750 stations in North America. She is the co-author of "Standing Up to the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times," recently released in paperback.

Finding Ways To Perk Up CEO Pay

As we're learning the hard way, CEOs are not quite the brilliant cockadoodledoos they wanted you and me to think they were.

To be fair, however, let's admit that the top honchos are astonishingly creative and bold, in one special aspect of big business leadership: goosing up their own paychecks. Yeah, yeah, I know that the salary and bonuses of corporate chieftains actually dropped six percent last year, now averaging a mere $10 million. But, hey, these people are nothing if not clever, so while their pay sagged, they quietly reached into the goodie bag and increased the number and value of perks they receive by seven percent.

Associated Press surveyed some 300 major corporations and found that the median value of such executive perks as chauffeured limousines, free personal use of the corporate jet, and memberships in exclusive clubs has risen to $170,000 last year. That's more than three times the income of most families!

Chauffeurs and jets turn out to be the least of it. Take Ray Irani, CEO of Occidental Petroleum. Not only was he paid $30 million last year, but he also was given $400,000 to cover the cost of his financial planners. An Occidental spokesperson explained that this perk was beneficial to the corporation because it helped Irani "keep his complete attention on the company's business." What, is Irani so flighty that he can't focus on his job without worrying about his personal money? Maybe so, but - come on - with a $30 million paycheck, couldn't he afford to cover them out of his own pocket?

Meanwhile, some corporations are concerned that these pricey and princely bennies look bad to the public. Not to worry, though - that problem can be handled by another executive perk that's increasingly popular with CEOs: bodyguards.
(c) 2009 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition.

Sorry, Mr. Bush
The Poor Get Poorer, Presidents Get Worse
By Ted Rall

I miss Bush.

Stop the presses and shut off the RSS feeds: the bashiest of the Bush-bashers is starting to appreciate the Exile of Crawford.

I haven't forgiven George W. Bush for stealing two elections, starting two wars, bankrupting the treasury and doing his damnedest to turn the U.S. into a fascist state. He deserves one of hell's hottest picnic spots for refusing to lift a finger to bring the 9/11 murderers to justice. Bush was stupid. He was vicious. He should be in prison.

He was the worst president the U.S. had ever had. Until this one.

On major issues and a lot of minor ones, Obama is the same as or worse than Bush. But Bush had an opposition to contend with. Obama has a compliant Democratic Congress. Lulled to somnolent apathy by Obama's charming manners, mastery of English (and yes, the color of his skin), leftist activists and journalists have been reduced to quiet disappointment, mild grumbling and unaccountable patience.

I don't care about window dressing. Sure, it's nice that Obama is intelligent. But policies matter-not charm. And Obama's policies are at least as bad as Bush's.

Guantanamo was but the beginning of Obama's betrayals. First he ordered the camp closed-not immediately but in a year. Now he's expanding the U.S. concentration camp at Bagram-where 600 innocent men and children are being tortured-so he can send the 245 Gitmo prisoners there. In the Bush era, Gitmo POWs received legal representation. Obama has ordered that the POWs sent to Bagram not be allowed to see a lawyer.

You saw the headline: "OBAMA BANS TORTURE." But it was a lie. Obama's CIA director told Congress that there's a "review process that's built into [Obama's] executive order" that allows torture to continue. Leon Panetta said the Obama Administration will keep using at least 19 torture techniques against detainees. In addition, Team Obama will "look at those kinds of enhanced techniques to determine how effective they were or weren't and whether any appropriate revisions need to be made as a result of that."

As editorial boards of liberal newspaper tut-tut and the feds convene committees, the screams of the victims pierce the night.

Bush was the biggest spender in history, running up a $1.8 trillion deficit with wasteful wars and tax cuts. But next to Obama, Bush was a tightwad. Glamour Prez hasn't been around six months, yet the Congressional Budget Office reports that he already has quadrupled the deficit by an extra $8.1 trillion. "The total debt held by the public [will] rise from 57 percent of GDP in 2009 to 82 percent (!) of GDP in 2019," reports U.S. News & World Report.

Obama is sinking us into financial oblivion 72 times faster than Bush.

Where'd the money go? Mostly to insurance companies. Banks. Brokerage firms. Who used it to redecorate their offices and give themselves raises.

Against logic and history Obama claimed his bailout package would create jobs. Instead, unemployment has risen by 1.3 million. Has Obama's plan saved a single homeowner from foreclosure? Reporters can't fiany.

I liked Bush better. He wasted our money when the economy wasn't quite as sucky. And he didn't insult us by pretending to care. Come on, Barack, smirk! Truth in advertising!

I know: he's a politician. Politicians break promises. As the presidential scholar Stephen Hess says: "There are some pledges that a candidate reverses when he becomes president because things look different. He knows things that he didn't know then."

"Some"? Obama hasn't even tried to keep a single major promise. He hasn't gotten rid of "don't ask, don't tell." His ballyhooed "cap and trade" law on emissions is toothless. Remember Obama's pledge to renegotiate NAFTA to strengthen environmental regulations? Forgotten.

In Obama's case, "things look[ing] different" has meant giving in to entrenched dirtbags, like the spooks who read your emails and the entrenched Pentagon torturers who don't want us to see photos that make Abu Ghraib look like child's play.

(An official familiar with the photos in question tells me they include, among other atrocities, U.S. personnel sodomizing a child.)

Obama has done more damage than Bush. And no one's stopping him. Which makes him worse.

Sorry, Mr. Bush. If I'd known what was coming, I would've been nicer.
(c) 2009 Ted Rall is the author of the new book "Silk Road to Ruin: Is Central Asia the New Middle East?" an in-depth prose and graphic novel analysis of America's next big foreign policy challenge.)

A Beginner's Guide To Food Storage
By Barbara Peterson

Have you ever been hungry? Not just "skipped a meal" hungry, but really hungry. I am talking about the kind of hunger that won't go away because the cupboard is bare. If you have, you will understand the need to store food. If you haven't, this is your chance to learn from the experience of others before it happens to you, because if you run into hard times, or the store shelves run dry, you will need to have a backup supply of tasty, nutritious food.

Food storage is not about simply stuffing a bunch of canned goods into a room and forgetting about them until you run out of food, but rather a system that focuses on creating a working food bank within your own home that is used every day by everyone in the family.

The first thing to consider when setting up your food storage system is location. Not only does your food storage area need to be dry and rather cool, but easily accessible, clean, and organized. The size of your space will depend on how much food you decide to store. This year I will convert my spare bedroom into a food storage locker. We have snow, and trudging to the pump house through three feet of snow to get supplies for dinner is not something I like doing.

Next, consider how you will store your food. Canned foods are already sealed, but dried foods need to be in rodent and insect-proof containers, and everything needs to be labeled with the contents as well as the expiration date.

Organize your food according to size, contents, and expiration date, with the food that needs to be eaten first in front, and heavier containers closest to the floor. Make sure that you create walkways so that you can easily access all of your stored items.

What you store depends on meal planning. If you don't plan your meals, you will get into the rut of eating the same things repeatedly, because you have not adequately prepared for diversity.

If your family does not like the foods you store, they will not eat them. Therefore, meal planning is crucial in determining just what needs to be stored. But this does not have to be a chore. Get the family involved in planning meals, and have fun with it. Here is a handy printable sample chart to help plan weekly meals:

Remember: When planning your meals, a balanced diet is essential!

Once you plan a menu for the week, list the ingredients for each meal, and calculate the weekly quantities that you will need to use. For instance, if you decide to eat spaghetti for two meals during the week and use one pound of spaghetti for each meal, you will need two pounds of spaghetti for one week.

Now, take that figure and multiply it by how many weeks you plan to use that meal schedule. If you plan to store one year's worth of food, and to eat spaghetti twice a week for each and every week of the year, you will need to multiply your two pounds of spaghetti by the number of weeks in a year, which is approximately 48, and store 96 pounds of spaghetti to cover those meals.

Do this for all of the ingredients in each meal included in the weekly food schedules that you created for your food storage program. You will now have a detailed and realistic list of food storage items along with quantities needed for the year, or several months, or for however long you plan to store food.

Once this is accomplished, the only time revisions are necessary is if a recipe has changed, there is an increase or decrease in the amount of food you need, or menus have changed. Also, make sure that you account for changing tastes and growing kids.

Here is a handy food storage calculator that will help jump-start you on your journey. These are only basic guidelines, and each family will need to make adjustments for personal preferences and needs by referring to the more detailed meal planning charts suggested previously:

The following tips will help maintain your food storage supply:

1. Make a checklist of your stored food items and revise it as necessary.

2. Keep the checklist handy so that you know how much food you have on hand at all times, and what you need to replace.

3. Check your stored items regularly for contamination and date of expiration.

4. Resist the temptation to reach for a goody in the back of the cupboard, and always use the oldest items first.

5. Replace what you use, placing the new items at the back of the shelf. This way you will always have your supply topped off in the event of an emergency.

Food storage is the central focus of a lifestyle that revolves around independence and sustainability. With a little planning and some work, a realistic and user-friendly food storage system can be incorporated into everyday life. So, set up your system so that you can easily use the items in front for everyday meals, get the kids involved, and have fun!
(c) 2009 Barbara H. Peterson lives on a small ranch in Oregon with her husband, where they raise geese, chickens, Navajo Churro sheep, Oggie Dog, a variety of cats, and an opinionated Macaw named Rita. She believes that self-sufficiency and localization of food sources is necessary to survive the coming depression. To this end, she hopes that sharing information with others of like mind will lead to a brighter future where people reach out to each other and form small communities in which food is grown locally, and trade is established between neighbors.

Betraying The Planet
By Paul Krugman

So the House passed the Waxman-Markey climate-change bill. In political terms, it was a remarkable achievement.

But 212 representatives voted no. A handful of these no votes came from representatives who considered the bill too weak, but most rejected the bill because they rejected the whole notion that we have to do something about greenhouse gases.

And as I watched the deniers make their arguments, I couldn't help thinking that I was watching a form of treason - treason against the planet.

To fully appreciate the irresponsibility and immorality of climate-change denial, you need to know about the grim turn taken by the latest climate research.

The fact is that the planet is changing faster than even pessimists expected: ice caps are shrinking, arid zones spreading, at a terrifying rate. And according to a number of recent studies, catastrophe - a rise in temperature so large as to be almost unthinkable - can no longer be considered a mere possibility. It is, instead, the most likely outcome if we continue along our present course.

Thus researchers at M.I.T., who were previously predicting a temperature rise of a little more than 4 degrees by the end of this century, are now predicting a rise of more than 9 degrees. Why? Global greenhouse gas emissions are rising faster than expected; some mitigating factors, like absorption of carbon dioxide by the oceans, are turning out to be weaker than hoped; and there's growing evidence that climate change is self-reinforcing - that, for example, rising temperatures will cause some arctic tundra to defrost, releasing even more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Temperature increases on the scale predicted by the M.I.T. researchers and others would create huge disruptions in our lives and our economy. As a recent authoritative U.S. government report points out, by the end of this century New Hampshire may well have the climate of North Carolina today, Illinois may have the climate of East Texas, and across the country extreme, deadly heat waves - the kind that traditionally occur only once in a generation - may become annual or biannual events.

In other words, we're facing a clear and present danger to our way of life, perhaps even to civilization itself. How can anyone justify failing to act?

Well, sometimes even the most authoritative analyses get things wrong. And if dissenting opinion-makers and politicians based their dissent on hard work and hard thinking - if they had carefully studied the issue, consulted with experts and concluded that the overwhelming scientific consensus was misguided - they could at least claim to be acting responsibly.

But if you watched the debate on Friday, you didn't see people who've thought hard about a crucial issue, and are trying to do the right thing. What you saw, instead, were people who show no sign of being interested in the truth. They don't like the political and policy implications of climate change, so they've decided not to believe in it - and they'll grab any argument, no matter how disreputable, that feeds their denial.

Indeed, if there was a defining moment in Friday's debate, it was the declaration by Representative Paul Broun of Georgia that climate change is nothing but a "hoax" that has been "perpetrated out of the scientific community." I'd call this a crazy conspiracy theory, but doing so would actually be unfair to crazy conspiracy theorists. After all, to believe that global warming is a hoax you have to believe in a vast cabal consisting of thousands of scientists - a cabal so powerful that it has managed to create false records on everything from global temperatures to Arctic sea ice.

Yet Mr. Broun's declaration was met with applause.

Given this contempt for hard science, I'm almost reluctant to mention the deniers' dishonesty on matters economic. But in addition to rejecting climate science, the opponents of the climate bill made a point of misrepresenting the results of studies of the bill's economic impact, which all suggest that the cost will be relatively low.

Still, is it fair to call climate denial a form of treason? Isn't it politics as usual?

Yes, it is - and that's why it's unforgivable.

Do you remember the days when Bush administration officials claimed that terrorism posed an "existential threat" to America, a threat in whose face normal rules no longer applied? That was hyperbole - but the existential threat from climate change is all too real.

Yet the deniers are choosing, willfully, to ignore that threat, placing future generations of Americans in grave danger, simply because it's in their political interest to pretend that there's nothing to worry about. If that's not betrayal, I don't know what is.
(c) 2009 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

Court Circular: Annals of Imperial Continuity
By Chris Floyd

Various factors are complicating our ability to do substantial posts here at the moment, but we will return to more or less regular programming soon. Meanwhile, here are a few choice tidbits that cry out for more comment than we can provide right now.

!. Siege Replaces Surge

When is a withdrawal not a withdrawal? When it's an "encirclement." The indefatigable Jason Ditz at points us to this rather obscure little gem from the Christian Science Monitor: "US forces withdrawing from Iraqi cities will move instead to encircle them." As Ditz notes:

The Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between Iraq and the United States requires that all US combat forces leave Iraqi cities by the end of Tuesday. The US is going to be going along with the requirement, more or less, but those troops won't be going far. According to Major General Robert Caslen, the commander of US forces in the north, the troops that are being pulled from the cities will be massing along the outskirts of the cities, encircling them in what the general called an attempt to replicate the surge strategy outside of the cities.

But come on, now. If there were say, 15,000 Chinese troops encamped outside your city limits, bristling with ordnance and overflying your neighborhood night and day with drones, attack copters and bombers, and barreling down your street with heavy weapons every time the local cops called them in -- wouldn't you feel sovereign? Liberated? Free? You know you would.

2. Plainview on the Potomac

Jeffrey St. Clair points out yet another progressive betrayal in full swing from the Obama Administration: the corporate bagmen and eager accomplices of landscape rape that the president has appointed to oversee his environmental policies: "Meet the Retreads." St. Clair makes the salient point that here -- as in so many other areas -- Obama's appointments speak far louder than his rhetoric:

Of all of Barack Obama's airy platitudes about change none were more vaporous than his platitudes about the environment and within that category Obama has had little at all to say about matters concerning public lands and endangered species. He is, it seems, letting his bureaucratic appointments do his talking for him. So now, five months into his administration, Obama's policy on natural resources is beginning to take shape. It is a disturbingly familiar shape, almost sinister.

It all started with the man in the hat, Ken Salazar, Obama's odd pick to head the Department of Interior. Odd because Salazar was largely detested in his own state, Colorado, by environmentalists for his repellent coziness with oil barons, the big ranchers and the water hogs. Odd because Salazar was close friends with the disgraced Alberto Gonzalez, the torturer's consigliere. Odd because Salazar backed many of the Bush administration's most rapacious assaults on the environment and environmental laws. Odder still because Salazar, in his new position as guardian of endangered species, had as a senator repeatedly advocated the weakening of the Endangered Species Act. Salazar never hid his noxious positions behind a green mantle. Obama certainly knew what he was buying.

And as St. Clair details, Salazar is just the tip of the (soon-to-be-melted) iceberg.

3. Once More Into the Somali Breach

Barack Obama is also reviving the Bush Regime's strategy of direct intervention in Somalia -- and the Washington Post is dutifully doing its bit with this headline: "U.S. Sends Weapons to Help Somali Government Repel Rebels Tied to Al-Qaeda." It is of course superfluous in us to point out that the aforementioned rebels have consistently denied any ties to al Qaeda.

Which is not to say they are a bunch of sweethearts. But the rise of this faction of militant religious extremists is the inevitable (deliberate?) result of the bipartisan Terror War that the United States has been conducting in Somalia for years. With American backing, blessing -- and direct military support -- a coalition of Islamist factions that had brought the first measure of stability to Somalia in many years was shattered by foreign invasion and local warlords in the pay of the CIA. Some factions in the broken coalition were further radicalized by the brutal war that followed; others have sought compromise with the Western-backed transitional government. Tens of thousands of innocent civilians have died, and millions more have been driven into exile, ruin and terrible suffering -- and still the Great Game goes on.

4. Plan 9 From Outer Space

Finally, Stars and Stripes give us the quintessence of the American empire's oh-so-effective "counterinsurgency" strategy, with this quote from a U.S. officer toiling in the killing fields of the oh-so-good war in Afghanistan:

"I tell my men they have to be thinking warriors," Capt. Bobby Davis of Columbus, Ga., whose platoon went out to help the convoy, said the following day. "You have to be able to go out and talk to people and in the flick of a switch, like yesterday, to kill and then continue the mission - go out again and talk to people."

Hearts and minds -- blow their brains out -- then hearts and minds again. Yep, that sounds like a winning plan, all right! Criswell predicts: another 25 years of road-building, switch-flicking and people-killing in the distant hills of Bactria.
(c) 2009 Chris Floyd

Class Division And The Dating Game
By Case Wagenvoord

Anyone who thinks America isn't riven by class divisions isn't paying attention. The recent reaming of General Motors is exhibit number one. What better way is there to disabuse our working class of their middle class pretentions and send them back to the impoverishment that is their God-ordained lot? Meanwhile, the banks, which are hotbeds of upper middle class privilege, get a pass.

I grew up in an upper middle class suburb in Michigan during the late forties and early fifties when the state was a fiefdom of the Big Three automakers. We were blessed and privileged children who were rushed to the doctor at the slightest fever, whose parents were passionate members of the PTA, who attended Sunday school every week and who received our first Bibles when we were eight.

We were children whose lives were plotted out for them at the moment of birth. School, high school and then college (preferably a Big Ten school), engagement in our senior years and then we would pledge our troth to one of the Big Three, or enter one of the professions. Girls became librarians, teachers or nurses because those were the only fields open to them. They allowed enough flexibility so a woman could leave the workforce; raise her 2.5 children and return.

The good life was a house in the burbs and a station wagon. To belong was to wear the right clothing, think the right thoughts and live the right life.

In high school, we were centers of the universe, properly outfitted in our olive crewneck sweaters worn over our plaid button-down shirts with our legs sheathed in chinos with the belt in the back and our feet shod with penny loafers. The Princeton and the crew cut were the regulation haircuts.

Class dictated our social life. Twice I made the error of falling for girls outside my class. In seventh grade there was Judy Smith. Her father ran the municipal garage in the town where my father was mayor. We were doomed from the start. She was a slight girl with a vivacious face who wore plain cotton dresses and kept her hair in a perpetual pony tail.

I fell in love with her, one day, between classes when we passed each other in the hall and she slipped a piece of candy into my hand.

There was to be a school dance the following week and as I was screwing up my eleven-year-old courage to ask her,my father informed me that I was to ask a neighborhood girl of the proper pedigree. Being an obedient son, I complied.

Judy moved to Lansing and started attending Patingale Junior High School. I never saw her again.

In my junior year, I met Beverly Richardson who sat next to me in typing class. She had three strikes against her from the get-go. Not only was she working class, but she was a foster child to boot. A dog had gotten hold of her as a child and left several scars on her face.

One day as I was trying to master the typewriter, I became confused over something and she reached over, smiled, and moved my hand to the right key. Such acts of kindness didn't come from middle-class who protected their virtue by holding themselves aloof until the second or third date (Not that they ever lost their virtue; they simply smiled more).

I asked her out to the consternation of my friends and family. Her father met me at the door with a shotgun and announced I was to marry his daughter. We all broke down in laughter. They were a lively and fun family, something I knew little of. Several times, during the evening, she looked at me silently, waiting for a kiss. In my prudishness I equated a kiss with a long-term commitment. The voices of friends and family rang in my ears. There was no kiss and we never went out again.

By my senior year, I despised all that my class stood for. But, in the fifties, there was no place to rebel. So instead of packing myself off to the nearest Big Ten school, I joined the Marines for a five year hitch.

One of life's bitter ironies is that once you reject a lifestyle, you immediately want it back. The separation was long and painful, and it was never complete. I live in the burbs; have one child and two grandchildren and two cars. But the pain and the separation have been worth it. I have emerged from my long journey through the darkness with a unique point of view.

I may not have broken entirely free of my class, but I broke free of the American myth and am all the better for it.
(c) 2009 Case Wagenvoord. Some years ago, Case Wagenvoord turned off the tube and picked up a book. He's been trouble ever since. His articles have been posted at The Smirking Chimp, Countercurrents and Issues & Alibis. When he's not writing or brooding, he is carving hardwood bowls that have been displayed in galleries and shows across the country. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and two cats. His book, Open Letters to George W. Bush is available at

The Fall Will Probably Kill Us!
By Mike Folkerth

Good Morning all of you movers and shakers out there; your King of Simple News is on the air.

Sometimes I just have to vent to keep from exploding and this is the day. I heard Mr. Obama blathering away yesterday regarding green energy jobs. Mr. Obama blathers away every day, but yesterday he hit the last nerve that I have left.

In his practiced metered speech, he explained that there will be millions of green jobs created in the future, Obama stated, "More broadly, the kinds of jobs that are being created are ones that potentially pay very well and run the gamut from engineering jobs to construction jobs to labor jobs."

Note the carefully selected phrase "potentially pay very well." Here's a flash from the King of Simple News room for Mr. Obama, we already had millions upon millions of good jobs in America that did pay very well, but those of your same ilk, low character, and pretended ignorance of basic economics sent those jobs to your foreign friends in order to increase the profits for your high level American friends.

At the same time that Mr. Obama is promising job growth, he is attempting to pass sweeping health care legislation that will require every employer to provide health insurance for every employee. Also at the same time, Mr. Obama is pushing his cap and trade bill with all of his bully pulpit might that will tax the life out of energy providers who will pass that cost on to you in the way of increasing utilities and rising fuel prices.

China on the other hand, loans daily money in order that we can exist in this sorry state of affairs and has no such plans as taxing energy and providing cradle to grave care for their citizenry. What they do plan is to take any existing manufacturing that America develops.

I'm so sick and tired of hearing, "The richest country in the world can provide...yada, yada, yada, for their citizens," that I could puke. The U.S. is the largest DEBTOR NATION on earth! If rich is gauged as owing the most amount of money, then we are in fact rolling in wealth!

Obama's articulated delusional grandeur of new jobs and manufacturing to replace the old jobs and manufacturing that we already had is beyond my capacity to stomach. Take a look at Detroit, Cleveland, Muncie Indiana; these cities were purposely gutted of their industrial might by politicians of the same ilk of Barrack Obama and George Bush. This mess was signed into law by Clinton (NAFTA and the WTO agreements), supported by Bush and continued by Obama. Where is the outrage?

Obama is using the "think of the children," thing to pass this new crippling wave of legislation. If Mr. Obama gave a spit about "the children," he wouldn't be incurring the un-scalable mountain of debt to hand them for their graduation presents.

Mr. Obama is nothing more than another political science hack with a metered delivery of his misguided message aimed at fooling the American masses for four more years. Promise chicken even if you can only deliver feathers. The attitude remains the same, "That's what the people want, so far be it from me not to promise the impossible."

Yet, all that I have written above pales in comparison to the one single line that makes all of it mute. "Exponential growth in a finite world is physically and mathematically impossible." There won't be any skid marks when we reach the scene of the crash.

This entire political and corporate charade that works night and day to screen us from the truth regarding the limitations of our planet to support exponential growth of its human inhabitants and all of their trappings reminds me of a scene from "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid." [Paraphrased]

Butch and Sundance were hopelessly pinned down by a posse on a rock ledge high above a raging river when Butch (Paul Newman) said, "I know, we'll jump." Sundance (Robert Redford) said, "No, I'm going to shoot it out." Butch said, "We haven't got a chance, we have to jump." Sundance replied, "I can't swim!"

It was Butch's reply that mimics our current insistence of pursuing a growth economy when he said, "Are you crazy? The fall will probably kill you."

In the instance of America, "The politicians will probably kill us."
(c) 2009 Mike Folkerth is not your run-of-the-mill author of economics. Nor does he write in boring lecture style. Not even close. The former real estate broker, developer, private real estate fund manager, auctioneer, Alaskan bush pilot, restaurateur, U.S. Navy veteran, heavy equipment operator, taxi cab driver, fishing guide, horse packer...(I won't go on, it's embarrassing) writes from experience and plain common sense. He is the author of "The Biggest Lie Ever Believed."

The Quotable Quote...

"Insanity in individuals is something rare but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule."
~~~ Friedrich Nietzsche ~~~

The Truth Alone Will Not Set You Free
By Chris Hedges

The ability of the corporate state to pacify the country by extending credit and providing cheap manufactured goods to the masses is gone. The pernicious idea that democracy lies in the choice between competing brands and the freedom to accumulate vast sums of personal wealth at the expense of others has collapsed. The conflation of freedom with the free market has been exposed as a sham. The travails of the poor are rapidly becoming the travails of the middle class, especially as unemployment insurance runs out and people get a taste of Bill Clinton's draconian welfare reform. And class warfare, once buried under the happy illusion that we were all going to enter an age of prosperity with unfettered capitalism, is returning with a vengeance.

Our economic crisis-despite the corporate media circus around the death of Michael Jackson or Gov. Mark Sanford's marital infidelity or the outfits of Sacha Baron Cohen's latest incarnation, Bruno-barrels forward. And this crisis will lead to a period of profound political turmoil and change. Those who care about the plight of the working class and the poor must begin to mobilize quickly or we will lose our last opportunity to save our embattled democracy. The most important struggle will be to wrest the organs of communication from corporations that use mass media to demonize movements of social change and empower proto-fascist movements such as the Christian right.

American culture-or cultures, for we once had distinct regional cultures-was systematically destroyed in the 20th century by corporations. These corporations used mass communication, as well as an understanding of the human subconscious, to turn consumption into an inner compulsion. Old values of thrift, regional identity that had its own iconography, aesthetic expression and history, diverse immigrant traditions, self-sufficiency, a press that was decentralized to provide citizens with a voice in their communities were all destroyed to create mass, corporate culture. New desires and habits were implanted by corporate advertisers to replace the old. Individual frustrations and discontents could be solved, corporate culture assured us, through the wonders of consumerism and cultural homogenization. American culture, or cultures, was replaced with junk culture and junk politics. And now, standing on the ash heap, we survey the ruins. The very slogans of advertising and mass culture have become the idiom of common expression, robbing us of the language to make sense of the destruction. We confuse the manufactured commodity culture with American culture.

How do we recover what was lost? How do we reclaim the culture that was destroyed by corporations? How do we fight back now that the consumer culture has fallen into a state of decay? What can we do to reverse the cannibalization of government and the national economy by the corporations?

All periods of profound change occur in a crisis. It was a crisis that brought us the New Deal, now largely dismantled by the corporate state. It was also a crisis that gave the world Adolf Hitler and Slobodan Milosevic. We can go in either direction. Events move at the speed of light when societies and cultural assumptions break down. There are powerful forces, which have no commitment to the open society, ready to seize the moment to snuff out the last vestiges of democratic egalitarianism. Our bankrupt liberalism, which naively believes that Barack Obama is the antidote to our permanent war economy and Wall Street fraud, will either rise from its coma or be rolled over by an organized corporate elite and their right-wing lap dogs. The corporate domination of the airwaves, of most print publications and an increasing number of Internet sites means we will have to search, and search quickly, for alternative forms of communication to thwart the rise of totalitarian capitalism.

Stuart Ewen, whose books "Captains of Consciousness: Advertising and the Social Roots of the Consumer Culture" and "PR: A Social History of Spin" chronicle how corporate propaganda deformed American culture and pushed populism to the margins of American society, argues that we have a fleeting chance to save the country. I fervently hope he is right. He attacks the ideology of "objectivity and balance" that has corrupted news, saying that it falsely evokes the scales of justice. He describes the curriculum at most journalism schools as "poison."

"'Balance and objectivity' creates an idea where both sides are balanced," he said when I spoke to him by phone. "In certain ways it mirrors the two-party system, the notion that if you are going to have a Democrat speak you need to have a Republican speak. It offers the phantom of objectivity. It creates the notion that the universe of discourse is limited to two positions. Issues become black or white. They are not seen as complex with a multitude of factors."

Ewen argues that the forces for social change-look at any lengthy and turgid human rights report-have forgotten that rhetoric is as important as fact. Corporate and government propaganda, aimed to sway emotions, rarely uses facts to sell its positions. And because progressives have lost the gift of rhetoric, which was once a staple of a university education, because they naively believe in the Enlightenment ideal that facts alone can move people toward justice, they are largely helpless.

"Effective communication requires not simply an understanding of the facts, but how those facts will take place in the public mind," Ewen said. "When Gustave Le Bon says it is not the facts in and of themselves which make a point but the way in which the facts take place, the way in which they come to attention, he is right."

The emergence of corporate and government public relations, which drew on the studies of mass psychology by Sigmund Freud and others after World War I, found its bible in Walter Lippmann's book "Public Opinion," a manual for the power elite's shaping of popular sentiments. Lippmann argued that the key to leadership in the modern age would depend on the ability to manipulate "symbols which assemble emotions after they have been detached from their ideas." The public mind could be mastered, he wrote, through an "intensification of feeling and a degradation of significance."

These corporate forces, schooled by Woodrow Wilson's vast Committee for Public Information, which sold World War I to the public, learned how to skillfully mobilize and manipulate the emotional responses of the public. The control of the airwaves and domination through corporate advertising of most publications restricted news to reporting facts, to "objectivity and balance," while the real power to persuade and dominate a public remained under corporate and governmental control.

Ewen argues that pamphleteering, which played a major role in the 17th and 18th centuries in shaping the public mind, recognized that "the human mind is not left brain or right brain, that it is not divided by reason which is good and emotion which is bad."

He argues that the forces of social reform, those organs that support a search for truth and self-criticism, have mistakenly shunned emotion and rhetoric because they have been used so powerfully within modern society to disseminate lies and manipulate public opinion. But this refusal to appeal to emotion means "we gave up the ghost and accepted the idea that human beings are these divided selves, binary systems between emotion and reason, and that emotion gets you into trouble and reason is what leads you forward. This is not true."

The public is bombarded with carefully crafted images meant to confuse propaganda with ideology and knowledge with how we feel. Human rights and labor groups, investigative journalists, consumer watchdog organizations and advocacy agencies have, in the face of this manipulation, inundated the public sphere with reports and facts. But facts alone, Ewen says, make little difference. And as we search for alternative ways to communicate in a time of crisis we must also communicate in new forms. We must appeal to emotion as well as to reason. The power of this appeal to emotion is evidenced in the photographs of Jacob Riis, a New York journalist, who with a team of assistants at the end of the 19th century initiated urban-reform photography. His stark portraits of the filth and squalor of urban slums awakened the conscience of a nation. The photographer Lewis Hine, at the turn of the 20th century, and Walker Evans during the Great Depression did the same thing for the working class, along with writers such as Upton Sinclair and James Agee. It is a recovery of this style, one that turns the abstraction of fact into a human flesh and one that is not afraid of emotion and passion, which will permit us to counter the force of corporate propaganda.

We may know that fossil fuels are destroying our ecosystem. We may be able to cite the statistics. But the oil and natural gas industry continues its flagrant rape of the planet. It is able to do this because of the money it uses to control legislation and a massive advertising campaign that paints the oil and natural gas industry as part of the solution. A group called, for example, has been running a series of television ads. One ad features an attractive, middle-aged woman in a black pantsuit-an actor named Brooke Alexander who once worked as the host of "WorldBeat" on CNN and for Fox News. Alexander walks around a blue screen studio that becomes digital renditions of American life. She argues, before each image, that oil and natural gas are critical to providing not only energy needs but health care and jobs.

"It is almost like they are taking the most optimistic visions of what the stimulus package could do and saying this is what the development of oil and natural gas will bring about," Ewen said. "If you go to the Web site there is a lot of sophisticated stuff you can play around with. As each ad closes you see in the lower right-hand corner in very small letters API, the American Petroleum Institute, the lobbying group for ExxonMobil and all the other big oil companies. For the average viewer there is nothing in the ad to indicate this is being produced by the oil industry."

The modern world, as Kafka predicted, has become a world where the irrational has become rational, where lies become true. And facts alone will be powerless to thwart the mendacity spun out through billions of dollars in corporate advertising, lobbying and control of traditional sources of information. We will have to descend into the world of the forgotten, to write, photograph, paint, sing, act, blog, video and film with anger and honesty that have been blunted by the parameters of traditional journalism. The lines between artists, social activists and journalists have to be erased. These lines diminish the power of reform, justice and an understanding of the truth. And it is for this purpose that these lines are there.

"As a writer part of what you are aiming for is to present things in ways that will resonate with people, which will give voice to feelings and concerns, feelings that may not be fully verbalized," Ewen said. "You can't do that simply by providing them with data. One of the major problems of the present is that those structures designed to promote a progressive agenda are antediluvian."

Corporate ideology, embodied in neoconservatism, has seeped into the attitudes of most self-described liberals. It champions unfettered capitalism and globalization as eternal. This is the classic tactic that power elites use to maintain themselves. The loss of historical memory, which "balanced and objective" journalism promotes, has only contributed to this fantasy. But the fantasy, despite the desperate raiding of taxpayer funds to keep the corporate system alive, is now coming undone. The lie is being exposed. And the corporate state is running scared.

"It is very important for people like us to think about ways to present the issues, whether we are talking about the banking crisis, health care or housing and homelessness," Ewen said. "We have to think about presenting these issues in ways that are two steps ahead of the media rather than two steps behind. That is not something we should view as an impossible task. It is a very possible task. There is evidence of how possible that task is, especially if you look at the development of the underground press in the 1960s. The underground press, which started cropping up all over the country, was not a marginal phenomenon. It leeched into the society. It developed an approach to news and communication that was 10 steps ahead of the mainstream media. The proof is that even as it declined, so many structures that were innovated by the underground press, things like The Whole Earth Catalogue, began to affect and inform the stylistic presentation of mainstream media."

"I am not a prophet," Ewen said. "All I can do is look at historical precedence and figure out the extent we can learn from it. This is not about looking backwards. If you can't see the past you can't see the future. If you can't see the relationship between the present and the past you can't understand where the present might go. Who controls the past controls the present, who controls the present controls the future, as George Orwell said. This is a succinct explanation of the ways in which power functions."

"Read 'The Gettysburg Address,'" Ewen said. "Read Frederick Douglass' autobiography or his newspaper. Read 'The Communist Manifesto.' Read Darwin's 'Descent of Man.' All of these things are filled with an understanding that communicating ideas and producing forms of public communication that empower people, rather than disempowering people, relies on an integrated understanding of who the public is and what it might be. We have a lot to learn from the history of rhetoric. We need to think about where we are going. We need to think about what 21st century pamphleteering might be. We need to think about the ways in which the rediscovery of rhetoric-not lying, but rhetoric in its more conventional sense-can affect what we do. We need to look at those historical antecedents where interventions happened that stepped ahead of the news. And to some extent this is happening. We have the freest and most open public sphere since the village square."

The battle ahead will be fought outside the journalistic mainstream, he said. The old forms of journalism are dying or have sold their soul to corporate manipulation and celebrity culture. We must now wed fact to rhetoric. We must appeal to reason and emotion. We must not be afraid to openly take sides, to speak, photograph or write on behalf of the disempowered. And, Ewen believes, we have a chance in the coming crisis to succeed.

"Pessimism is never useful," he said. "Realism is useful, understanding the forces that are at play. To quote Antonio Gramsci, 'pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will.'"
(c) 2009 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. He is the author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning. His latest book is American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.

Passing A Weak Bill Today Gives Us Weak Environmental Policy Tomorrow
By Dennis Kucinich

"I oppose H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009. The reason is simple. It won't address the problem. In fact, it might make the problem worse..."

"It sets targets that are too weak, especially in the short term, and sets about meeting those targets through Enron-style accounting methods. It gives new life to one of the primary sources of the problem that should be on its way out"" coal "" by giving it record subsidies. And it is rounded out with massive corporate giveaways at taxpayer expense. There is $60 billion for a single technology which may or may not work, but which enables coal power plants to keep warming the planet at least another 20 years.

"Worse, the bill locks us into a framework that will fail. Science tells us that immediately is not soon enough to begin repairing the planet. Waiting another decade or more will virtually guarantee catastrophic levels of warming. But the bill does not require any greenhouse gas reductions beyond current levels until 2030.

"Today's bill is a fragile compromise, which leads some to claim that we cannot do better. I respectfully submit that not only can we do better; we have no choice but to do better. Indeed, if we pass a bill that only creates the illusion of addressing the problem, we walk away with only an illusion. The price for that illusion is the opportunity to take substantive action.

There are several aspects of the bill that are problematic.

1. Overall targets are too weak. The bill is predicated on a target atmospheric concentration of 450 parts per million, a target that is arguably justified in the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, but which is already out of date. Recent science suggests 350 parts per million is necessary to help us avoid the worst effects of global warming.

2. The offsets undercut the emission reductions. Offsets allow polluters to keep polluting; they are rife with fraudulent claims of emissions reduction; they create environmental, social, and economic unintended adverse consequences; and they codify and endorse the idea that polluters do not have to make sacrifices to solve the problem.

3. It kicks the can down the road. By requiring the bulk of the emissions to be carried out in the long term and requiring few reductions in the short term, we are not only failing to take the action when it is needed to address rapid global warming, but we are assuming the long term targets will remain intact.

4. EPA's authority to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the short- to medium-term is rescinded. It is our best defense against a new generation of coal power plants. There is no room for coal as a major energy source in a future with a stable climate.

5. Nuclear power is given a lifeline instead of phasing it out. Nuclear power is far more expensive, has major safety issues including a near release in my own home state in 2002, and there is still no resolution to the waste problem. A recent study by Dr. Mark Cooper showed that it would cost $1.9 trillion to $4.1 trillion more over the life of 100 new nuclear reactors than to generate the same amount of electricity from energy efficiency and renewables.

6. Dirty Coal is given a lifeline instead of phasing it out. Coal-based energy destroys entire mountains, kills and injures workers at higher rates than most other occupations, decimates ecologically sensitive wetlands and streams, creates ponds of ash that are so toxic the Department of Homeland Security will not disclose their locations for fear of their potential to become a terrorist weapon, and fouls the air and water with sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, particulates, mercury, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and thousands of other toxic compounds that cause asthma, birth defects, learning disabilities, and pulmonary and cardiac problems for starters. In contrast, several times more jobs are yielded by renewable energy investments than comparable coal investments.

7. The $60 billion allocated for Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) is triple the amount of money for basic research and development in the bill. We should be pressuring China, India and Russia to slow and stop their power plants now instead of enabling their perpetuation. We cannot create that pressure while spending unprecedented amounts on a single technology that may or may not work. If it does not work on the necessary scale, we have then spent 10-20 years emitting more CO2, which we cannot afford to do. In addition, those who will profit from the technology will not be viable or able to stem any leaks from CCS facilities that may occur 50, 100, or 1000 years from now.

8. Carbon markets can and will be manipulated using the same Wall Street sleights of hand that brought us the financial crisis.

9. It is regressive. Free allocations doled out with the intent of blunting the effects on those of modest means will pale in comparison to the allocations that go to polluters and special interests. The financial benefits of offsets and unlimited banking also tend to accrue to large corporations. And of course, the trillion dollar carbon derivatives market will help Wall Street investors. Much of the benefits designed to assist consumers are passed through coal companies and other large corporations, on whom we will rely to pass on the savings.

10. The Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) is not an improvement. The 15% RES standard would be achieved even if we failed to act.

11. Dirty energy options qualify as "renewable"-:

The bill allows polluting industries to qualify as "renewable energy."

Trash incinerators not only emit greenhouse gases, but also emit highly toxic substances. These plants disproportionately expose communities of color and low-income to the toxics. Biomass burners that allow the use of trees as a fuel source are also defined as "renewable."- Under the bill, neither source of greenhouse gas emissions is counted as contributing to global warming.

12. It undermines our bargaining position in international negotiations in Copenhagen and beyond. As the biggest per capita polluter, we have a responsibility to take action that is disproportionately stronger than the actions of other countries. It is, in fact, the best way to preserve credibility in the international context.

13. International assistance is much less than demanded by developing countries. Given the level of climate change that is already in the pipeline, we are going to need to devote major resources toward adaptation. Developing countries will need it the most, which is why they are calling for much more resources for adaptation and technology transfer than is allocated in this bill. This will also undercut our position in Copenhagen.

"I offered eight amendments and cosponsored two more that collectively would have turned the bill into an acceptable starting point. All amendments were not allowed to be offered to the full House. Three amendments endeavored to minimize the damage that will be done by offsets, a method of achieving greenhouse gas reductions that has already racked up a history of failure to reduce emissions 'increasing emissions in some cases' while displacing people in developing countries who rely on the land for their well being.

"Three other amendments would have made the federal government a force for change by requiring all federal energy to eventually come from renewable resources, by requiring the federal government to transition to electric and plug-in hybrid cars, and by requiring the installation of solar panels on government rooftops and parking lots. These provisions would accelerate the transition to a green economy.

"Another amendment would have moved up the year by which reductions of greenhouse gas emissions were required from 2030 to 2025. It would have encouraged the efficient use of allowances and would have reduced opportunities for speculation by reducing the emission value of an allowance by a third each year.

"The last amendment would have removed trash incineration from the definition of renewable energy. Trash incineration is one of the primary sources of environmental injustice in the country. It a primary source of compounds in the air known to cause cancer, asthma, and other chronic diseases. These facilities are disproportionately sited in communities of color and communities of low income. Furthermore, incinerators emit more carbon dioxide per unit of electricity produced than coal-fired power plants.
(c) 2009 Dennis Kucinich is a congressman from Ohio and a 2008 presidential primary candidate. Blocked by the corporate media, and, most egregiously, by his own party, which regarded him as an embarrassing radical (radical he is, dangerous, no), his message failed to reach and mobilize the masses. Meanwhile the media-and the inevitable centrist dunces-were busy inflating and falling for the messianic promise of one Barack Obama.

The Dead Letter Office...

Heil Obama,

Dear Governor Sanford,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution, your right-on-time antics kept the Sheeple from seeing us pass phony Health Insurance and energy bills, Afghanistan and these many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Rethuglican Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Iron Cross 1st class with Diamond clusters presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 07-04-2009. We salute you Herr Sanford, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

Obama And Anti-War Democrats
By Norman Solomon

Days ago, a warning shot from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue landed with a thud on Capitol Hill near some recent arrivals in the House. The political salvo was carefully aimed and expertly fired. But in the long run, it could boomerang.

As a close vote neared on a supplemental funding bill for more war in Iraq and Afghanistan, The San Francisco Chronicle reported that "the White House has threatened to pull support from Democratic freshmen who vote no." In effect, it was so important to President Obama to get the war funds that he was willing to paint a political target on the backs of some of the gutsiest new progressives in Congress.

But why would a president choose to single out fellow Democrats in their first Congressional term? Because, according to conventional wisdom, they're the most politically vulnerable and the easiest to intimidate.

Well, a number of House Democrats in their first full terms were not intimidated. Despite the presidential threat, they stuck to principle. Donna Edwards of Maryland voted no on the war funding when it really counted. So did Alan Grayson of Florida, Eric Massa of New York, Chellie Pingree of Maine, Jared Polis of Colorado and Jackie Speier of California.

Now what?

Well, for one thing, progressives across the country should plan on giving special support to Edwards, Grayson, Massa, Pingree, Polis and Speier in 2010. If we take the White House at its word, they may find themselves running for re-election while President Obama withholds his support - in retaliation for their anti-war votes.

But it's not enough to just play defense. We also need to be supporting - or initiating - grassroots campaigns to unseat pro-war members of Congress.

In the Los Angeles area, the military-crazed and ultra-corporate Congresswoman Jane Harman will face the progressive dynamo Marcy Winograd in the Democratic primary next year.

Harman's vote for the latest war funding was predictable. But dozens of Democrats with longtime anti-war reputations also voted yes. Among the most notable examples were Oregon's Peter DeFazio and Washington's Jim McDermott, who apparently found their anti-war constituencies in Eugene and Seattle to be less persuasive than the White House chief of staff.

"White House aides worked the halls during the hours before the vote, and chief of staff Rahm Emanuel called some lawmakers personally," McClatchy news service reports. "DeFazio, who was undecided and wound up voting yes, said he talked to Emanuel by phone for about five minutes as Obama's top aide explained the administration's strategy in the war on terror."

This is a crucial time for anti-war activists and other progressive advocates to get more serious about Congressional politics. It's not enough to lobby for or against specific bills - and it's not enough to just get involved at election time. Officeholders must learn that there will be campaign consequences.

When progressives challenge a Democratic incumbent in a primary race, some party loyalists claim that such an intra-party contest is too divisive. But desperately needed change won't come to this country until a lot of progressive candidates replace mainline Democrats in office.

On behalf of his war agenda, the president has signaled that he's willing to undermine the political futures of some anti-war Democrats in Congress. We should do all we can to support those Democrats - and defeat pro-war incumbents on behalf of an anti-war agenda.
(c) 2009 Norman Solomon's latest book is "Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State." The foreword is by Daniel Ellsberg. For more information, go to: The documentary film "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death," based on Norman Solomon's book of the same name, went into home-video release and is now available on DVD from Netflix, Amazon and similar outlets. For more information, go to:

Digitized Medical Records Would Save Lives
By Mary Pitt

Many Americans are up in arms about a possible threat to "privacy" if the Obama plan to digitize medical records, making them available on secured sites and accessible by physicians and hospitals, should be implemented. Looking at the situation more deeply would lead one to believe that the reverse may be true and we could lose something more important than our privacy if it is not.

First, one must admit that when your life is at stake, the last concern you have is whether your body or its internal workings are exposed to any or all of the people who are fighting to save you. Secondly, if there are any known facts about your medical history or idiopathic propensities, you certainly want the people who hold your life in their hands to know it. Have you ever reacted adversely to any medication? Are you, perhaps, allergic to any mixture or compound that may contain the offending substance? May your life be in danger if someone in an emergency situation and following "customary medical practices" should introduce a sizeable dosage of that medication into your system?

You may carefully carry a list of any allergies or medications that you cannot use. in your purse or on your person. Now, ask any emergency medical worker or paramedic how much time they can take searching through your purse, wallet, or glove compartment for documents with medical information. Ask the personnel in an emergency room whether, in a live-threatening emergency, they can wait until you're conscious to question you about allergies. I have nearly lost my life to anaphylactic shock as the result of a penicillin reaction and one more administration of the drug could quickly end my existence. However, I realize that if I am found unconscious and must be transported to an emergency room for treatment of some infection, I can not be sure that the very drug that is deadly for me could be injected into my body?

In addition, I carry in my wallet the brand and serial number of the pacemaker that is implanted in my chest to stimulate and regulate my heartbeat. If a physician who has never seen me before feels it essential to have an MRI scan to determine the specifics of a serious injury, will he even know it's there or will the small lump near my collarbone even be noticed? If not, and if the doctor feels that the procedure is necessary, it could be ordered and would lead to my immediate death. The presence of this instrument is certainly something that I would want any physician treating me to know at once as would the presence of any metallic object such as a reinforcement to mend a damaged bone.

Each of us may have a personal doctor who has an exhaustive medical history in his file and he would never make such a fatal mistake in caring for us. However, if we have an auto accident or collapse on the street and must be taken by ambulance to the "nearest medical facility," where are those records? Of course, they are securely locked in the files in the office of our primary care physician who has no idea that we are in dire straits and, since we are unconscious and alone, who is going to tell anyone?

We must also consider that many do not have a primary care physician but can only seek occasional medical care in any emergency room. There is absolutely no coordination of care, ever. Each time they appear, some doctor who has never seen them before must treat them as best he can on the assumption that people are all alike and their goal is simply to alleviate the immediate problem and to get the patient onto his feet and out the door. How many do you suppose have died as the result of not having available records of having been treated anywhere, for anything, before when a medical history could have made a life-or-death difference in their treatment?

In addition, there should also be some overall savings when considering the cost of repeating tests that may have been done recently by another physician. If the results of a recent test disclosing the information needed by a diagnosing doctor is available at a touch, that doctor can give more prompt and effective treatment. Also, he could avoid following false diagnostic trails only to find that the answers he seeks are either something for which you are already receiving treatment or naturally occurring events in your body. Human beings are not like automobiles but require individualized treatment. Otherwise, doctors would be called "mechanics" instead of being said to "practice" medicine, so the variations in each human body are extremely important.

Personally, I would prefer that my medical identification number be available right alongside my other identification so that one trip to the computer would allow any medical facility or physician immediate access to my medical history, in full, and thus be better equipped to provide the needed care while also which could lead to my unnecessary demise.

In such a serious situation, I would gladly sacrifice my privacy in the cause of insuring that any medical personnel who may become responsible for my life and well-being will have all the information they need in order to be successful. Viewed in that light, doesn't the whole idea seem a bit more reasonable? Your life may depend on it.
(c) 2009 Mary Pitt is a very "with-it" old lady who aspires to bring a bit of truth, justice, and common sense to a nation that has lost touch with its humanity in the search for societal "perfection." Huzzahs and whiney complaints may be sent to

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Bruce Beattie ~~~

2009 Greeting card to George W. Bush (& Oliver Stone) from THE Alternative "W the Movie"

To End On A Happy Note...

License To Kill
By Bob Dylan

Man thinks 'cause he rules the earth he can do with it as he please
And if things don't change soon, he will.
Oh, man has invented his doom,
First step was touching the moon.

Now, there's a woman on my block,
She just sit there as the night grows still.
She say who gonna take away his license to kill?

Now, they take him and they teach him and they groom him for life
And they set him on a path where he's bound to get ill,
Then they bury him with stars,
Sell his body like they do used cars.

Now, there's a woman on my block,
She just sit there facin' the hill.
She say who gonna take away his license to kill?

Now, he's hell-bent for destruction, he's afraid and confused,
And his brain has been mismanaged with great skill.
All he believes are his eyes
And his eyes, they just tell him lies.

But there's a woman on my block,
Sitting there in a cold chill.
She say who gonna take away his license to kill?

Ya may be a noisemaker, spirit maker,
Heartbreaker, backbreaker,
Leave no stone unturned.
May be an actor in a plot,
That might be all that you got
'Til your error you clearly learn.

Now he worships at an altar of a stagnant pool
And when he sees his reflection, he's fulfilled.
Oh, man is opposed to fair play,
He wants it all and he wants it his way.

Now, there's a woman on my block,
She just sit there as the night grows still.
She say who gonna take away his license to kill?
(c) 1983/2009 Bob Dylan

Have You Seen This...

Shift Happens

Parting Shots...

Grading Democracy On A Curve
By Will Durst

Want to take this time to congratulate the Iranian people for upgrading to a participatory government where they feel empowered enough to take to the streets to complain. For those of you who have been too busy digging under bushes for returnable bottle deposits, there is major rioting going on in the country formerly known as Persia, due to their sneaking suspicion of rampant voter fraud. Hundreds of thousands are risking arrest, death and worse demonstrating their shock at the corruption of their leaders. Of course, here in the US, we've learned to take that sort of thing in stride and grade on a curve.

The election results in dispute find Members Only aficionado Mahmoud Ahmadinejad winning the Presidency with 63% of the vote. Well, there's your problem right there. Mahmoud, Baby. You want to rig an election, you don't claim 63%. You squeak by with 51%. Didn't you guys learn anything from Karl Rove? At least let the other guy appear to win his home district. After all, he's not Al Gore.

In that knee jerk manner as peculiar to totalitarian regimes as bikini waxing is to cast members of "Gossip Girl," Iranian authorities blamed America for the unrest. That's right. We're responsible for their amateurish rigging of a phony election. They may have a point. In a way, it IS our fault. Re-repressing a populace after they've Twittered and Facebooked and Tranny Shacked is like trying to stuff the subjugation toothpaste back into the tube. Best way is to razor the nozzle off, cram the domination back in with a rubber spatula then staple the nozzle back onto to the tube. Which is a bit unwieldy. But much easier when not exposed to the sun guns of the Western media.

Of course, our excitement over this burgeoning democracy may be a bit premature. It's not like the dissident challenger, former prime minister, Mir Hossein Moussavi, is a raging capitalist. We keep referring to him as a moderate, but in Iran, a moderate is any Shi'ite who's run out of bullets. Another inconvenient truth.

Even if the election is overturned, (about as likely as the eventual victory celebration being held at an Irish pub,) you might want to hold off on sending that Constitutional Starter Kit. Don't think they're quite ready for a string of NRA chapters is all I'm saying. Just to get on the ballot over there you need the okay of the Supreme Leader. And there's another problem. How free and open is your election really when you have to clear your candidacy with somebody called Supreme Leader? Sounds like the eternal adversary of Moose and Squirrel.

The Supreme Leader in question is Ayatollah Khamenei, a totally different despot than the Ayatollah Khomeini but they do share the same barber. In response to the massive officially banned protests, Khamenei recanted his initial rubber stamp of the election and called upon the 12 member Council of Guardians to investigate the vote. Uh-huh. Oh yeah. That's going to help. Kind of like putting the 2000 Florida election into the impartial hands of one of the candidate's brothers.

Of course, one big difference is, in Iran, when they talk about hanging chads, they're not referring to cardboard punchouts, but foreign journalists named Chad. Pretty sure they have hanging Jeremys and hanging Rogers as well. Not to mention a soon to be veritable rash of hanging Mir Hosseins.
(c) 2009 Will Durst, is a political comic who occasionally writes a little. This is one of those times.

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Issues & Alibis Vol 9 # 25 (c) 07/03/2009

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