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In This Edition

David Swanson joins us with the most important political article that you've ever read, "King George III Won."

Uri Avnery warns of, "The Jewish Ayatollahs."

David Sirota explains, "Why People Become Chickenhawks."

Ray McGovern while picketing the US Embassy in Athens writes, "A July Fourth Shame On The Founders."

Jim Hightower examines, "Massey Energy's Murderous Lies."

Helen Thomas is, "Hoping Against Bachmann."

James Donahue says, "I Don't Say The Pledge Of Allegiance Anymore."

Bob Bowman calls to, "End The Empire."

Ralph Nader writes another, "An Open Letter to President Obama."

Michael Winship takes a trip, "Michele Bachmann Flunks Canadian History, Too."

Paul Krugman explores the, "Corporate Cash Con."

Chris Hedges discovers, "Ralph Nader Is Tired Of Running For President."

Sam Harris considers, "Drugs And The Meaning Of Life."

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer wins the coveted "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

John Nichols reports, "Wisconsin Women's Groups, Elected Leaders Ask Accused Justice to Step Aside During Violence Inquiry."

Joe Conason returns with, "$4 Trillion For War-And Counting."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowitz returns with, "Republicans: Trillions Could Be Cut from Budget If We Eliminate Empathy" but first Uncle Ernie confronts, "Zorba The Geek."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Scott Stantis, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Ruben Bolling, Internet Weekly.Org, Bartcop, Mr. Fish, Internet Weekly.Org, John Cole, Bill Day, J.B. Banks, Werner Photo.Com, Alcor Films, You Tube.Com and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

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

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

Zorba The Geek
By Ernest Stewart

"Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes" ~~~"Beware of Greeks bearing gifts"
The Aeneid ~~~ Publius Vergilius Maro a.k.a. Virgil

"Using Twitter for literate communication is about as likely as firing up a CB radio and hearing some guy recite 'The Iliad.'" ~~~ Bruce Sterling

"Bernard, I want you to know... that I try. When Jean and the kids at the school tell me that I'm supposed to control my violent temper, and be passive and nonviolent like they are, I try. I really try. Though when I see this girl... of such a beautiful spirit... so degraded... and this boy... that I love... sprawled out by this big ape here... and this little girl, who is so special to us we call her "God's little gift of sunshine"... and I think of the number of years that she's going to have to carry in her memory... the savagery of this idiotic moment of yours... I just go BERSERK!" ~~~ Billy Jack

"The only place a prophet isn't honored is in his hometown, among his relatives, and in his own house." ~~~ J.C.

To paraphrase old Mark Twain, "A Greek joke is no laughing matter!" Certainly what's been happening in the Aegean Sea in the last week or two isn't a laughing matter, either! From holding ships in port, to damaging ships engines and propellers, to kidnapping Americans on the high seas at gunpoint, to torturing said citizens all at the behest of Obamahood, Hillary Dillary and the Zionazis in Tel Aviv, seems to me an act of war against America!

The American ship's captain of the "Audacity of Hope" is being illegally held incommunicado and tortured by the Greek regime. New York attorney and ship's passenger Richard Levy reported, "...he (Captain Klismerhad) has no bed or toilet in his cell, and is receiving no food or water." Of course, the American embassy in Athens, who last week said they were standing by for any American's needs hasn't visited Captain Klismerhad, as required, or even protested his treatment. As David Crosby once sang, "We're finally on our own" and Obamahood and Hillary Dillary haven't spoken a peep since this atrocity happened. Perhaps you should write these war criminals and ask them why? Of course, if I were President, the Greek navy would be on the bottom of the ocean, and a couple of aircraft carrier battle groups would be escorting the ships into dock in Palestine; but, of course, I'm not a puppet like Obamahood, Hillary Dillary and Greece are to their Zionazis masters in Tel Aviv! This just in, now they've arrested and are holding Canadian citizens! This should amount to an act of war, as messing with Canadians is our job!

Can you guess: I wrote the Greek embassy in Foggy Bottom a letter! I did, and here it is:

I see the birthplace of democracy has been reduced to being an Israeli stooge. Kidnapping people on the high seas is an act of war. Torturing American citizens is an act of war. I wonder how you would like it if the rolls were reversed? No doubt, someday, they will be!

The boycott of all things Greek is now well underway. If you think your economy sucks now, just give the boycotts a few months to begin to work. I'm sure those 30 pieces of silver that Israel paid you to commit these acts of war and terrorism aren't going to be enough!

How does it feel to have to dance whenever your Zionazi puppet masters pull your strings? However, I must thank you for providing the material for this week's editorial, "Zorba the Geek!" I couldn't have done it without you!

Now I see you've become the Zionazis' delivery boy; again, I hope it pays well as those Yankee tourist and export dollars dry up and blow away! We thought you were better than this, but you're not! So how does it feel, Greece, to have joined the dark side? Every Palestinian death is now on you; every baby blown to tiny bits is on you! Every atrocity that Israel commits is on you! That blood on your hands won't wash away, try as you might to spin it away. Looking forward to the collapse of your society. Like Israel, the world will be a far better place when you are gone!

If the feeling moves you, America, you might want to write the Greeks and Obamahood letters letting them know your opinion on the matter! You can contact the Washington D.C. Greek embassy at:
Phone: (202) 939-1300

In Other News

I wasn't expecting much from Obama and the Twitter fiasco. I expected a lot of softball questions and a lot of song and dance answers, so I wasn't disappointed by it at all. Millions of tweets, and yet not a single pointed question about our various war crimes, not a single direct question about balancing the budget on the backs of the poor, the hungry, the sick or elderly, although Barry did hint that the destruction of those programs are on the table. Someone was allowed to ask about the 14th Amendment, but Barry didn't go there -- saying instead he was counting on reducing the debt with his Rethuglican chums instead.

He did profess his anti-unionism by first talking about a very few of the many benefits collective bargaining has brought, but said he could understand why some non-union folks were jealous and hence the unions were going to have to give back to the bosses some of those hard-earned gains; I guess so the elites won't have to stop buying those tax free, corpo-rat jets and yachts! He mentioned giving lots more tax breaks to businesses, reminding us on several occasions that we all got a thousand dollar check last December. Gosh, I guess my check is still in the mail... In other words, Barry hemmed and hawed, gave us the old soft shoe, and lied his worthless ass off!

I'm wondering why I bother to have a Twitter account after watching their CEO Evan Williams soft peddle the questions from eight supposedly un-biased people, chosen from the millions sent. After an hour of this, I couldn't take any more as I began to look for something to throw through my TV screen, and instead just turned it off. I didn't expect my question to be picked as it was a hardball one, as I'm sure were millions of others that really needed to be answered, but were rejected as too tough. Here's what I sent in:

"Are you planning on balancing the budget on the backs of the poor, elderly, sick and hungry instead of the rich? That 3rd rail is hot!"

And Finally

You have no doubt heard about Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and his fight against people feeding the starving. That right you heard me correctly, Buddy is having the Orlando Gestapo arrest members (21 so far) of Food Not Bombs. Food Not Bombs is a worldwide organization that feeds the hungry in over 1000 cities worldwide -- Buddy calls them "Food Terrorists" for doing so. Buddy wants the poor and hungry to starve to death so his elitist pals won't have to look at them through the windows of their Rolls Royces and Bentleys as they cruise the downtown areas looking for hookers and cheap, illegal maids and gardeners! Like Billy Jack, I try to follow the peaceful path; I really try; I do, but some people just piss me off -- and Buddy is one of them! You knew I'd write Buddy a note, didn't you...?

Hey Buddy,

Ernest Stewart here, I'm the publisher of Issues & Alibis Magazine and I have a couple of questions about you and those nasty food terrorists currently destroying Orlando by giving away free food to your large, starving populace.

Please explain why these ne'er-do-wells by doing the very same thing that Christ did, i.e., feeding the starving poor have become terrorists! Who are they terrorizing, Buddy? Why do you want the hungry to starve? Should these terrorists be nailed to trees for following Christ's lead? Do you think a city that lets former middle-class people who lost their jobs to some Rethuglican plot puts its best foot forward by showing its uncaring face to the world will cause people to want to come to vacation in such a hell hole as Orlando? Is this some sort of Koch Brothers scheme to kill off the poor? Or are you doing it because you think it's government's job to feed them, instead of those nasty private enterprise types? Oh, and a couple of personal questions, Buddy. How does it feel to be universally-hated by millions of caring people around the world who feel they are their brother's keeper? How do you look yourself in the mirror in the morning without wanting to cut your throat from ear to ear?

Have no doubt that my many readers would like to hear your side of the story after reading Amy Goodman's piece in this Friday's magazine. So why do you want to kill the poor, Buddy? What have hungry children ever done to you? Aren't YOU the real food terrorist here?

Ernest Stewart
Issues & Alibis Magazine
If you would like to send Buddy a piece of your mind via email or phone:
Email Buddy at:
Call Buddy at: 407-246-2221

Keepin' On

Rumor has it that two of our Canadian readers have sent in some money to forestall our destruction. (I can't get to the post office till this weekend to see what's in the box) If correct, we'll still need to raise $300 in two weeks time. These two contributions puts Canada in the lead in donations for this year which makes me think perhaps I should move this across the border from Detroit to Windsor and start covering more Canadian and less US news?

Of course, there are more Americans out of work than there are people in Canada, but in these two cases, i.e., Ernie from Ontario and Terri from Toronto, they're both retired and living off Social Security and yet they can do what fully-employed Americans won't, i.e., keep the truth flowing. Again a little help, Ya'll! We're just about 2/3rds of the way through what we need to raise, to keep publishing for another year!

Speaking of Canada, Michael Winship has an interesting column this week that concerns Canada and Michele Bachmann and her ability to get Canadian history just as wrong as she gets American history; imagine that! We also welcome David Swanson to our little band of "Merry Pranksters" with perhaps the most important political article that you'll ever read! To say it is a must-read is a vast understatement! Just scroll on down as it's the next article up. You will see how America has come full circle since the "revolution!" As the great, wise, sage, seer and prophet Pogo, once said: "We have met the enemy, and he is us!"


08-11-1930 ~ 07-03-2011
Thanks for the films!


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


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

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

King George III Won
Happy Fourth of July!
By David Swanson

The Declaration of Independence is best remembered as a declaration of war, a war declared on the grounds that we wanted our own flag. The sheer stupidity and anachronism of the idea serves to discourage any thoughts about why Canada didn't need a bloody war, whether the U.S. war benefitted people outside the new aristocracy to whom power was transferred, what bothered Frederick Douglas so much about a day celebrating "independence," or what the Declaration of Independence actually said.

When you read the Declaration of Independence, it turns out to be an indictment of King George III for various abuses of power. And those abuses of power look fairly similar to abuses of power we happily permit U.S. presidents to engage in today, either as regards the people of this nation or the people of territories and nations that our military occupies today in a manner uncomfortably resembling Britain's rule over the 13 colonies.

Or perhaps I should say, a large portion of us take turns being happy or outraged depending on the political party with which the current president is identified.

"We have been sliding for 70 years to a situation where Congress has nothing to do with the decision about whether to go to war or not, and the president is becoming an absolute monarch." Thus spoke Congressman Jerrold (D., N.Y.) on the floor of the House recently, some years after having refused to back the impeachment of President George W. Bush, thus facilitating the slide toward the current situation.

Daniel Ellsberg, the whistleblower who leaked the Pentagon Papers 40 years ago, recently commented that President Nixon had finally won. Although Ellsberg was acquitted of criminal charges, the facts made public, and Nixon compelled to resign, all of the abuses of power Nixon faced possible impeachment and prosecution for have now been legalized (or made acceptable practice): warrantless spying, searches and seizures, baseless secrecy, assassination attempts, etc. By the same logic, King George III is as big a winner as Richard M. Nixon. A quick survey of the charges brought against King George III on July 4, 1776, is illuminating:

"He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good."

Our current president brushes aside inconvenient laws like the War Powers Resolution and backs retroactive immunity for the violation of laws like the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. His approach to the enforcement of laws against tyrannical abuse is one of "looking forward, not backward."

"He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them."

President Obama dictated the terms of a health insurance reform bill to Congress, a bill that makes it much more difficult for states like Vermont and California, that want to, to actually provide their people with healthcare, unless they get special permission from Obama. Similarly, Obama has threatened to prevent states from legalizing marijuana, supported federal law that prevents states from granting their gay citizens full marriage rights, etc. But it is when we look abroad that we truly see the resemblance to King George III, as U.S. presidents dictate to the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. The people of Iraq have wanted independence since 2003. When President Bush imposed three more years of war three years ago, Senator Obama objected to the unconstitutional treaty made without the advice or consent of the Congress. Now President Obama's concern is how to stretch the occupation out beyond the end of this year. The Iraqis still can't see any dawn's early light.

"He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only."

Those people of course include the people of Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, the Marianas, the Virgin Islands, etc., not to mention the occupied peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan, or the people of the dozens of nations around the world occupied by U.S. military bases and dictated to by U.S.-dominated global financial institutions.

"He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures."

No fireworks and military parades for our legislative body this year. Congress is staying in town because it's one thing to slash taxes for billionaires and corporations or to hand Wall Street hundreds of billions of dollars or to launch unauthorized wars or to spend more than most state governments need merely on air-conditioning our imperial offices in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is entirely something else to allow the government to continue borrowing money without making some unemployed, sick, homeless, and elderly Americans suffer some more. Shared sacrifice, people! A fatigued Congress is a cruel Congress.

"He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people."

Does organizing a coup in Honduras qualify? What about the work of our puppet tyrant, Mr. Karzai, over yonder in Afghanistan, where the representative houses have effectively been dissolved?

"He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within."

Afghanistan, again, is the 13 colonies here.

"He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands."

Obama has been deporting about 400,000 people per year, a record. He also briefly deported himself over to Copenhagen to single-handedly kill efforts that might have slowed the warming of the earth's atmosphere, a warming that is ruining lands long since appropriated.

"He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers."

Obama has built on Bush's work of eliminating judiciary and legislative powers by rewriting laws with signing statements, creating laws with executive orders (including a law eliminating the right to habeas corpus), re-interpreting laws through the White House counsel and the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel whose secret and public memos are treated as law. Obama has made huge new strides in preventing courts from reviewing crimes on the grounds of "state secrets."

"He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries."

The relationship between Obama and the International Criminal Court resembles this situation. The ICC can be pressured by the United States to break all land speed records to indict Muammar Gadaffi, while stalling everywhere else and never indicting U.S. rulers at all. Obama has also applied great and effective pressure to block the courts of Spain from prosecuting U.S. crimes.

"He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance."

Raids and prosecutions of peace activists come to mind.

"He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures."

Northern Command, Homeland Security, and the integration of the military and police in "fusion" centers, are compounded by the proliferation of for-profit mercenary firms. An oil spill was guarded by the military in the Gulf of Mexico in a way in which the gulf itself is never protected from oil corporations, foreign or otherwise, and in which our homes and jobs and communities are never guarded against Wall Street. But, of course, it is abroad that the parallels are strongest. The United States maintains 1,000 bases in other people's countries, many of those countries run by absolute monarchs. If the Pentagon decides to launch a "humanitarian intervention" into Saudi Arabia or Bahrain, it will be no more an intervention than Libya was: it will be switching sides. The United States is already permanently intervened almost everywhere.

"He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power."

This is how the late Richard Holbrooke and the current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have both described the "civilian" portion of U.S. operations in Afghanistan -- as subservient to the military. Wikileaks cables reveal the State Department to be dedicating much of its resources to marketing U.S.-made weapons to foreign governments. The U.S. military is increasingly being privatized and hidden within alliances like NATO and funded through secret unaccountable budgets, thus placing it beyond the control of Congress. The President openly defers to the military's generals on how much and whether to escalate or de-escalate wars, as well as to the CIA on whether to prosecute war crimes. And the current president has intentionally and unnecessarily launched a new war in Libya without any declaration of war or lesser facsimile thereof from Congress.

"He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:"

Our finances are dictated by the Federal Reserve, in secret. Corporations write our laws and fund our misrepresentatives' campaigns. NAFTA, the WTO, and other unelected bodies dictate to our domestic law makers. The United Nations and NATO are used to place war powers in the hands of the president and the military. Even our educational system is being privatized, as our incarceration system has been -- while profits from both contribute to the shaping of future laws and policies. Struggling states are handing the governance of struggling cities over to private corporations and tinpot dictators as well.

"For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:"

Some 6,000 bases spread throughout the United States render the Third Amendment to the U.S. Constitution the only piece of the Bill of Rights not grossly violated because there is no party with any interest in violating it.

"For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:"

President Obama has issued a royal decree granting himself the power to assassinate American citizens, which he has attempted to do, working from a list he has developed of the Americans who are to be murdered.

"For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:"

This the United States does to other nations, such as Iran, through economic sanctions. Since the United States and Persia and most of the rest of the world adopted the Kellogg-Briand Pact, abolishing war, in 1928, Iran has not violated it by attacking another nation. The United States, for which, under Article VI of the Constitution, that Pact is still the Supreme Law of the Land, has hardly let a year go by without violating it. Yet we choose to cut off trade with all parts of the world to them, not vice versa.

"For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:"

The United States strips foreign nations of their resources, and domestically indeed imposes taxes that U.S. citizens would never agree to if given the opportunity to vote. We want billionaires and corporations taxed, we want carbon taxed, we want the military cut and the banksters cut off. But we do not want to be carrying the burden ourselves. We have 400 royals possessing more wealth than half the country. They are listed and described openly, and honored, as the Forbes 400. This disparity of wealth shames kingdoms of the past. When Eduardo Galeano exposed the exploitation of Latin America in his 1973 masterpiece "Open Veins of Latin America," he complained that 6 million Latin Americans had as much as 140 million. Would that things were merely that bad in the United States today!

"For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:"

Only a tiny percentage of U.S. cases go to trial at all now, while of course others go to military "courts" or simply lawless imprisonment without end.

"For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:"

The word for this now is "rendition," only we tend to skip the part about providing people with a trial.

"For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies."

Interestingly, the abuses imposed on scary non-white non-English-speaking non-Christians in Guantanamo are rapidly being introduced into the United States for all of us to enjoy, beginning with people like Bradley Manning. Meanwhile, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya are intended to serve as U.S. military bases in dozens of other nations serve: as jumping off places to neighboring Provinces.

"For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:"

The two most fundamental alterations of our most valuable laws and forms of government are coming fast on top of each other. First was Obama's executive order tossing out habeas corpus. Second will be the 2012 "Defense Authorization Act" -- specifically Section 1034 -- which will formally transfer war making powers in most cases to the president and every future president.

"For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever."

Again, this is true in occupied nations abroad, and domestically as regards states' rights to provide health coverage, drug legalization, or same sex marriage.

"He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us."

This is most blatantly so in places Obama is drone-bombing: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia. It is also so at home where banks and corporations are protected with massive bailouts, but people are not, while huge investments ARE made in incarceration and military recruitment.

"He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people."

Our president is pushing nuclear power, "clean" coal, and abandonment of the earth to climate chaos. The largest environmental disaster yet, the BP oil spill, has not been clean up, nor anyone punished. Los Alamos and Nebraska face the imminent risk of fires and floods causing nuclear catastrophe. Storms and more storms and worse storms are a-brewing, while Washington obsesses over weiners, dicks, and debt ceilings.

"He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation."

One word: Afghanistan.

"He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands."

Afghans and Iraqis view collaborators in these terms. Observers of the torture of Bradley Manning also view that action as an effort to compel testimony against others and to intimidate other Americans.

"He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions."

Of course, the United States military long since destroyed the nations of "Indian Savages," but much of this rings true today in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury."
(c) 2011 David Swanson is the author of "War Is A Lie."

The Jewish Ayatollahs
By Uri Avnery

THE ARCHBISHOP of New York announces that any Catholic who rents out an apartment to a Jew commits a mortal sin and runs the risk of excommunication.

A protestant priest in Berlin decrees that a Christian who employs a Jew will be banished from his parish.

Impossible? Indeed. Except in Israel - in reverse, of course.

The rabbi of Safed, a government employee, has decreed that it is strictly forbidden to let apartments to Arabs - including the Arab students at the local medical school. Twenty other town rabbis - whose salaries are paid by the taxpayers, mostly secular, including Arab citizens - have publicly supported this edict.

A group of Israeli intellectuals lodged a complaint with the Attorney General, arguing that this is a case of criminal incitement. The Attorney General promised to investigate the matter with all due haste. That was half a year ago. "Due haste" has not yet produced a decision.

The same goes for another group of rabbis, who prohibited employing Goyim.

(In ancient Hebrew, "Goy" just meant a people, any people. In the Bible, the Israelites were called a "holy Goy". But in the last centuries, the term has come to mean non-Jews, with a decidedly derogatory undertone.)

THIS WEEK, Israel was in uproar. The turmoil was caused by the arrest of Rabbi Dov Lior.

The affair goes back to a book released more than a year ago by Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira. Shapira is, perhaps, the most extreme inhabitant of Yitzhar, which is perhaps the most extreme settlement in the West Bank. Its members are frequently accused of carrying out pogroms in the nearby Palestinian villages, generally in "retaliation" for army actions against structures that have been built without official consent.

The book, called Torat ha-Melekh ("the Teaching of the King") deals with the killing of Goyim. It says that in peacetime, Goyim should generally not be killed - not because of the commandment "Thou shalt not kill" which, according to the book, applies to Jews only, but because of God's command after the Deluge (Genesis 9:6): "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed, for in the image of God made he man." This applies to all Goyim who fulfill some basic commandments.

However, the situation is totally different in wartime. And according to the rabbis, Israel has been at war since its foundation, and probably will be for ever more.

In war, in every place where the presence of a Goy endangers a Jew, it is permitted to kill him, even though he be a righteous goy who bears no responsibility for the situation. It is permitted - indeed, recommended - to kill not only enemy fighters, but also those who "support" or "encourage" them. It is permitted to kill enemy civilians if this is helpful for the conduct of the war.

(Intentionally or not, this is reflected in the tactics employed by our army in the "Cast Lead" operation: to protect the life of a single Israeli soldier, it is permissible to kill as many Palestinians as necessary. The result: some 1300 dead Palestinians, half of them non-combatants, as against five soldiers killed by hostile action. Six more were killed by "friendly fire".)

What really set off a storm was a passage in the book that says that it is permitted to kill children, when it is clear that once they grow up, they can be "harmful".

It is customary for a book by a rabbi interpreting Jewish law to bear the endorsement - called haskama ("agreement") - of other prominent rabbis. This particular masterpiece bore the "haskama" of four prominent rabbis. One of them is Dov Lior.

RABBI LIOR (the name can be translated as "I have the light" or "the light has been given to me") stands out as one of the most extreme rabbis in the West Bank settlements - no mean achievement in a territory that is abundantly stocked with extreme rabbis, most of whom would be called fascist in any other country. He is the rabbi of Kiryat Arba, the settlement on the fringes of Hebron that cultivates the teachings of Meir Kahane and that produced the mass-murderer Baruch Goldstein.

Lior is also the chief of a Hesder yeshiva, a religious school affiliated with the army, whose pupils combine their studies (purely religious) with privileged army service.

When the book - now in its third printing - first appeared, there was an uproar. No rabbi protested, though quite a number discounted its religious argumentation. The Orthodox distanced themselves, if only on the ground that it violated the religious rule that forbids "provoking the Goyim".

Following public demand, the Attorney General started a criminal investigation against the author and the four signatories of the "haskama". They were called in for questioning, and most did appear and protested that they had had no time to read the book.

Lior, the text of whose "haskama" testified to the fact that he had read the book thoroughly, did not heed repeated summons to appear at the police station. He ignored them openly and contemptuously. This week the police reacted to the insult: they ambushed the rabbi on the "tunnel road" - a road with several tunnels between Jerusalem and Hebron, reserved for Jews - and arrested him. They did not handcuff him and put him in a police car, as they normally would, but replaced his driver with a police officer, who drove him straight to a police station. There he was politely questioned for an hour and set free.

The news of the arrest spread like wildfire throughout the settlements. Hundreds of the "Youth of the Hills" - groups of young settlers who carry out pogroms and spit on the law - gathered at the entrance to Jerusalem, battled with the police and cut the main road to the capital.

(I can't really complain about that, because I was the first to do so. In 1965, I was elected to the Knesset and Teddy Kollek was elected mayor of Jerusalem. One of the first things he did was to pander to the Orthodox and close whole neighborhoods on the Shabbat. One of the first things I did was to call on my supporters to protest. We closed the entrance to Jerusalem for some hours until we were forcibly removed.)

But closing roads and parading the released Lior triumphantly on their shoulders was not the only thing the young fanatics did. They also tried to storm the Supreme Court building. Why this building in particular? That requires some explanation.

THE ISRAELI right-wing, and especially the settlers and their rabbis, have long lists of hate objects. Some of these have been published. I have the honor of appearing on most. But the Supreme Court occupies a place high up, if not at the very top.

Why? The court has not covered itself with glory when dealing with the occupied territories. It has allowed the destruction of many Palestinian homes as retaliation for "terrorist" acts, approved "moderate" torture, assented to the "separation fence" (which was condemned by the international court), and generally positioned itself as an arm of the occupation.

But in some cases, the law has not enabled the court to wriggle out of its responsibilities. It has called for the demolition of "outposts" set up on private Palestinian property. It has forbidden "targeted killing" if the person could be arrested without risk, it has decreed that it is unlawful to prevent an Arab citizen from living in a village on state-owned land, and so on.

Each such decision drew a howl of rage from the rightists. But there is a deeper reason for the extreme antagonism.

UNLIKE MODERN Christianity, but very much like Islam, the Jewish religion is not just a matter between Man and God, but also a matter between Man and Man. It does not live in a quiet corner of public life. Religious law encompasses all aspects of public and private life. Therefore, for a pious Jew - or Muslim - the European idea of separation between state and religion is anathema.

The Jewish Halakha, like the Islamic Shari'a, regulates every single aspect of life. Whenever Jewish law clashes with Israeli law, which one should prevail? The one enacted by the democratically elected Knesset, which can be changed at any moment if the people want it, or the one handed down by God on Mount Sinai for all time, that cannot ever be changed (at most can be interpreted differently)?

Religious fanatics in Israel insist that religious law stands above the secular law (as in several Arab counties), and that the state courts have no jurisdiction over the clerics in matters that concern religion (as in Iran). When the Supreme Court ruled otherwise, the most respected Orthodox rabbi easily mobilized 100 thousand protesters in Jerusalem. For years now, religious cabinet ministers, law professors and politicians, as well as their political supporters, have been busy chipping away at the integrity, independence and jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.

This is the crux of the matter. The Attorney General considers a book calling for the killing of innocent children an act of criminal incitement. The rabbis and their supporters consider this an impertinent interference in a learned religious debate. There can be no real compromise between these two views.

For Israelis, this is not just an academic question. The entire religious community, with all its diverse factions, now belongs to the rightist, ultra-nationalist camp (except for pitiful little outposts like Reform and Conservative Jewry, who are the majority among American Jews). Transforming Israel into a Halakha state means castrating the democratic system and turning Israel into a second Iran governed by Jewish ayatollahs.

It will also make peace impossible for all time, since according to the rabbis all of the Holy Land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River belongs solely to the Jews, and giving the Goyim even an inch of it is a mortal sin, punishable by death. For this sin, Yitzhak Rabin was executed by the student of a religious university, a former settler.

Not the whole religious camp subscribes to the unrelenting extremism of Rabbi Lior and his ilk. There are many other trends. But all of these keep quiet. It is Lior, the rabbi who Possesses the Light, and his like-minded colleagues, who chart the course.
(c) 2011 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Why People Become Chickenhawks
A new study sheds light on why non-veterans like Cheney and Limbaugh are such avid militarists
By David Sirota

Since at least the Iraq War if not earlier, chickenhawkery has been a hallmark of American politics. From the 101st Fighting Keyboarders to the professional Draft-Dodging Neoconservatives to the Self-Labeled "Liberal Hawks" who disproportionately populate Washington green rooms, our nation's scowling legion of chickenhawks has sculpted a new archetype -- that of the chest-thumping pundit/politician who aggressively demands others fight and die in wars, but who himself either refuses to enlist or fled the battlefield when his country called.

What makes chickenhawkery such a distinctly American phenomenon is our culture's coupling of aggressive militarism with a lack of anything even resembling shared sacrifice. Quite bizarrely, we celebrate those who rhetorically promote wars as "tough" and "strong" without requiring those very warmongers to walk their talk. Shielded from any personal risk of injury or death, the chickenhawk is thus permitted to wrap himself in an American flag and goose step his way through television studios as the alleged personification of patriotic bravery.

For years, chickenhawkery's roots in this culture of unshared sacrifice have been a matter of theory -- albeit a logical, well-grounded theory. But now, thanks to a comprehensive new study, we have concrete data underscoring the hypothesis. It suggests that many Americans' aggressively pro-war ideology may fundamentally rely on their being physically shielded/disconnected from the human cost of war.

To document this connection, Columbia's Robert Erikson and University of California at Berkeley's Laura Stoker went back to the Vietnam War -- the last time Americans faced wartime conscription. The researchers analyzed data from the Jennings-Niemi Political Socialization Study of college-bound high schoolers and subsequent interviews of those same high-schoolers from 1965 onward. In the process, they discovered that men holding low draft lottery numbers (and therefore more at risk of being drafted into combat) "became more anti-war, more liberal, and more Democratic in their voting compared to those whose high numbers protected them from the draft." Importantly, for these men "lottery number was a stronger influence on their political outlook than their late-childhood party identification." That influence transcended previous party affiliation and made a permanent impact on their politics into adulthood.

"Men with vulnerable numbers show evidence of totally rethinking their partisanship in response to the threat of the draft," the researchers report. "Republicans in the group abandoned their party with unusual frequency, while even Democrats moved toward the independent category with slightly greater frequency than others."

By contrast, "for men with safe lottery numbers, the continuity of party identification" -- and militarist ideology -- "was relatively unaffected by the draft."

Reporting on the study, Miller-McCune notes:

Why did the prospect of being drafted make such a strong and lasting impact on the men's ideological outlook? Erikson and Stoker suggest this may be a case of self-interest trumping abstract ideas. They note that the risk of being drafted provoked intense "anxiety and fear," which caused many to rethink previously held beliefs, either as a direct emotional response or because it prompted them to get better informed.

This part of the study about "self-interest" is almost certainly the key factor in two generations' worth of high-profile chickenhawkery.

For chickenhawks like Rush Limbaugh and Dick Cheney who grew up during Vietnam conscription, deft draft-dodging provided them safety and psychological distance from bloodshed. As the data show, compared to draftees, that distance likely made them feel comfortable demanding other people face death on the battlefield, knowing that they wouldn't face such a fate themselves. Put another way, having avoided the draft, there was no "self-interest" in opposing war -- indeed, there was only self-interest in promoting wars in a media and political environment that increasingly rewarded rank bellicosity.

For younger, post-Vietnam-era chickenhawks (think, say, the chipper lily-white warmongers who populate the editorial staff of tiny-circulation elite Washington magazines like the National Review, New Republic and Weekly Standard) the same dynamic remained. Despite living in an era of "persistent conflict," these precocious youngsters never faced a lottery or draft (or even the threat of a modest tax hike!). So, just like their older brethren, their incessant demand that other people go off to die in wars never comes with even the vague possibility that the chickenhawks themselves will have to leave their comfortable D.C. offices and face the bloodshed they so vehemently endorse. And as the data show, without such a possibility, people seem far more supportive of militarism. That's especially true for chickenhawks in today's war-glorifying media, where "self-interest" is now defined as warmongering, not the opposite.

No doubt, the antiwar voices who have recently argued for the reinstatement of a draft will find fuel in this Berkeley/Columbia report. They argue that viscerally connecting the entire nation to the blood-and-guts consequences of war will make the nation less reflexively supportive of war -- and the new data substantively supports that assertion. That's why in the midst of (at least) three U.S. military occupations, this report is almost sure to be ignored by our chickenhawk-dominated political class -- because it too explicitly exposes the selfish, self-centered and abhorrent roots of the chickenhawk ethos that now plays such an integral role in perpetuating a state of Endless War.
(c) 2010 David Sirota is the author of the best-selling books "Hostile Takeover" and "The Uprising." He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado and blogs at E-mail him at David Sirota is a former spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee.

A July Fourth Shame On The Founders
By Ray McGovern

Yes, that was I standing before the U.S. Embassy in Athens on the eve of the July Fourth weekend holding the American flag in the distress mode -upside down.

Indignities experienced by me and my co-guests on "The Audacity of Hope," the American boat to Gaza, over the past ten days in Athens leave no doubt in my mind that Barack Obama's administration has forfeited the right to claim any lineage to the brave Americans who declared independence from the king of England 235 years ago.

In the Declaration of Independence, they pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor to a new enterprise of freedom, democracy and the human spirit. The outcome was far from assured; likely as not, the hangman's noose awaited them. They knew that all too well.

But they had a genuine audacity to hope that the majority of their countrymen and women, persuaded by Thomas Paine's Common Sense and the elegant words of Thomas Jefferson, would conclude that the goal of liberty and freedom was worth the risk, that it was worth whatever the cost.

These days we have been seduced into thinking that such principles have become "quaint" or "obsolete" – words used by President George W. Bush's White House counsel Alberto Gonzales to make light of important international agreements like the Geneva Conventions.

As every American should know, and remember, the principles enshrined in the Declaration of Independence were based on the firm belief that ALL men are created equal, that they have UNALIENABLE rights -among them life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Not just "all Americans," mind you, but all people. The Declaration of Independence was meant to be a statement expressing the "self-evident" rights of all mankind. Those principles had a universality that was a beacon to the world.

True, American democracy and, indeed, the Founders themselves were far from perfect. In the early decades of the Republic, basic rights were denied to women, to black slaves, to Native Americans and to many of the poor. But Americans worked on building that "more perfect union" and are still working on it.

Justice was always at the heart of the American ideal. That we still have a long way to go in securing that justice must not be allowed to obscure the fact that ours is a noble and courageous experiment. Or at least it was.

That President Barack Obama would have popularized the phrase "audacity of hope," after which we named our boat, now seems a cruel hoax, particularly as many of us recalled the high hopes we had once harbored for Obama the candidate. Instead of an "audacity of hope," Obama the president has often displayed a "paucity of courage."

But it's not just Obama. Sadly, all too many of Americans now think of the sacred principles expressed in the Declaration of Independence as applying to Americans, but not to many others -like the 1.6 million people locked in the narrow confines of Gaza.

The tendency is to think of ourselves as "exceptional" -so special that we need not care about suffering elsewhere in the world, including the suffering enabled by our own tax dollars.

It is also sad that many U.S. politicians -from the Chief Executive to members of Congress -have been seduced by money and political expediency into disregarding our first president's farewell address, George Washington's warning to avoid what he called "entangling alliances" and a "passionate attachment" to goals of another country.

At the time, it was France that Washington had in mind. Today, the "entangling alliance" and "passionate attachment" relate to Israel. Common values are adduced to try to justify conflating U.S. objectives and actions with the goals and behavior of our "ally," Israel.

Why the quotation marks around "ally?" Because decades ago, when the U.S. government broached the possibility of a mutual defense treaty with the government of Israel, it refused to go along. Mutual defense treaties, you see, require internationally recognized borders and normally a mutual commitment to avoid attacking other countries at will and without forewarning.

The difficulties, which we on "The Audacity of Hope" have encountered at the hands of the Greek government, are clearly a result of Israeli pressure with a likely assist from Obama's diplomats.

In my own writings, I have highlighted what I have learned about the extraordinary power of joint U.S.-Israeli influence. But it is something quite different to watch that influence be brought to bear on the government of Greece, a seafaring nation normally devoted to unfettered navigation.

And for what purpose? To prevent our "ally" Israel from being exposed for its brutish behavior vis-a-vis the people of Gaza.

I thought I'd seen everything. But the Israeli accusation that our Gaza flotilla is carrying sulfur to pour on Israeli commandos attempting to board our boats … well, that one takes the cake. Plus, the accusation by an Israeli official that we had vowed to shed the blood of Israeli Defense Forces. Amazing.

On the U.S. side, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appears as unconcerned about what might happen to us at the hands of Israeli (or Greek) commandos as she was on Feb. 15 as she watched me brutalized just 12 yards in front of her during a speech she was giving at George Washington University.

My offense then? Standing quietly -motionless, actually -with my back turned toward her, as a way of showing that not everyone in that audience was oblivious to the killing, maiming and other suffering inflicted on millions of people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen... and the list goes on.

Last week, Clinton charged the international flotilla, of which "The Audacity of Hope" is a part, with planning to enter "Israeli waters" and warned of the consequences -in effect, giving Israel carte blanche to have its way with us.

Meanwhile, descriptions of last year's violence, in which Israeli commandos staged a night-time boarding raid on the Turkish ship Mari Marmara in international waters in the Mediterranean Sea and killed nine passengers including one American, get expressed in the passive voice. Violence by whom, a Martian might ask.

In any event, we have long since made it abundantly clear that we had no intention to enter "Israeli waters." Is it conceivable that Madame Secretary still doesn't know that or is she simply spreading a falsehood meant to discredit our mission? Gazan waters are not Israeli waters. Neither, we thought, is the Aegean Sea.

Adding transparent insult to injury, eight days ago the State Department spokeswoman obfuscated when asked directly, twice, whether the U.S. government considered the Israeli blockade of Gaza legal. This determination to fudge on this key issue (the blockade is, on the face of it, against international law) has not stopped U.S. government functionaries from speaking as if the Israelis are well within their rights.

Worse still, we have learned that some U.S. officials wouldn't shed a tear if we got our comeuppance at the hands of the Israelis.

Before leaving the United States, I was cautioned by a source with access to very senior staffers at the National Security Council that not only does the White House plan to do absolutely nothing to protect our boat from Israeli attack or illegal boarding, but that White House officials "would be happy if something happened to us."

They are, I am reliably told, "perfectly willing to have the cold corpses of activists shown on American TV."

So here we are, passengers and crew of "The Audacity of Hope," awaiting further instructions from the local Greek authorities, some of whom have been quite candid in expressing their embarrassment and resentment at being manipulated by Washington/Tel Aviv in this new Great Game.

The instructions, of course, come from a weak Greek government unable to stand on principle because of the economic damage that can be done to Greece by the U.S.-dominated IMF, the European Union and Israel, a major trading partner. We await a deus ex machina to extract us from this seemingly intractable situation. We remain determined to sail to Gaza at the earliest opportunity. And so do the passengers on the other boats in our international flotilla, at least on those boats that have not been physically sabotaged.

(No one has claimed credit for the damage to propeller shafts to two of the boats, but Israeli officials have been cagey about whether they have had a hand in any underwater operations.)

Delays seem to be built into the scenery in this part of the world. After all, It took Odysseus 20 years to get back to Ithaca.

In this day of instant communication, in which audacity can trump cowardice, we continue to hope. Whatever our circumstances, they are light-years better than the everyday experience in Gaza. We are holding that before our eyes. We do not intend to let the suffering Gazans down.

On Friday, the Audacity of Hope did make a move to set sail, before being turned back by the Greek coast guard. On Saturday, we were on a coast guard wharf with the boat impounded, the crew restricted, and the captain facing some significant charges.

The authorities said the guests were free to leave the boat, but it wasn't clear that we'd be allowed back on. So, we decided not to leave the captain. We remain determined to go to Gaza.

It would be a fitting way to celebrate the Fourth of July.
(c) 2011 Ray McGovern served as a CIA analyst for 27 years -- from the administration of John F. Kennedy to that of George H. W. Bush. During the early 1980s, he was one of the writers/editors of the President's Daily Brief and briefed it one-on-one to the president's most senior advisers. He also chaired National Intelligence Estimates. In January 2003, he and four former colleagues founded Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.

Massey Energy's Murderous Lies

In March of last year, Massey Energy Corporation's official record book for reporting unsafe conditions in its Upper Big Branch coal mine said flatly: "none observed." It turns out that this was a flat-out lie, and a few days later Upper Big Branch exploded, killing 29 miners.

Indeed, Massey's in-house "observers" had found safety problems -as they often did in this shoddily-run, notoriously dangerous mine -but the corporation kept a dual set of books in order to mislead state and federal safety regulators. Massey's official record book, which coal giants must show to government inspectors, is filled with such rosy reports as "none observed," while the true dangers are recorded in a set of internal books that are sealed in the corporate closet.

However, thanks to a comprehensive year-long probe by a hundred-member team of federal mine safety investigators, Massey's internal reports are now out of the closet. The team's findings reveal not only an ugly safety record, but also a truly ugly corporate culture. The investigators concluded that Massey executives took premeditated, systematic steps to circumvent safety rules, including falsifying records and intimidating workers who tried to report hazards. The probe included interviews with 266 people -but, interestingly, 18 Massey honchos (including longtime CEO Don Blankenship) refused to be interviewed, invoking their right against self-incrimination.

This goes to the top, all the way to Massey's executive suite elites and board of directors who profited from the deliberate safety shortcuts that killed those 29 men. It also goes to Congress, where corporate-protecting Republicans continue to block regulatory reforms that would stop the needless killing of miners. For information, contact West Virginia Watchdog at:
(c) 2011 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition.

Hoping Against Bachmann
By Helen Thomas

Her views are almost as primitively conservative as Attila the Hun. And she is the darling of the tea party members. The attractive 55-year-old, three-term Minnesota GOP congresswoman has thrown her bonnet into the ring with great aplomb.

A Des Moines Register poll showed her running neck and neck with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Bachmann founded the Tea Party caucus in the House of Representatives and is politically conservative on all social and fiscal issues. She is against abortion and Planned Parenthood. She also vocally opposes same-sex marriages. She has reportedly claimed that she was called by God to run for Congress.

Bachmann is the epitome of the Republican lawmakers, whose new code is "just say no" to all Democratic proposals. She has opposed President Barack Obama's sponsored health care law, which she has referred to with others as "Obamacare." Bachmann has also moved to repeal the law. She claims there are hidden costs in the law, which have been suppressed by the administration. Incredibly, she has also called for the phasing out of Social Security and Medicare.

As for those people who were already in the system and have no other options, she said, "We have to keep faith with them, and wean everybody else off."

She attacked government health insurance and claimed it would squeeze out private insurance. Bachmann asked House Speaker John Boehner to give her a spot on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence to enhance her skill in foreign affairs. He did, making her one of the overseers of the CIA, the National Security Agency, and other parts of the intelligence community.

As for her views on foreign policy, Bachmann said that in dealing with Iran "diplomacy is our option" and she added, "there are other options, including a nuclear strike, that shouldn't be taken off the table." Bachmann has also been a long time supporter of Israel.

Bachmann believes that intelligent design should be taught along with evolution in science classes in public schools.

Bachmann has said she has "very serious concerns about the President's views."

In announcing her candidacy this week, Bachmann said "I seek the Presidency not for vanity, but because America is at a crucial moment." She made the announcement in a quaint setting at the home in Waterloo, Iowa, where she lived until the age of 12, and before a crowd of old friends and fans.

Bachmann won't have it easy. Sarah Palin is still expected to jump into the fray, along with a rash of other GOP candidates beside Romney, including Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Herman Cain, Tim Pawlenty, Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman.

Bachmann is of Norwegian background and attended Winona University and Oral Roberts University. She also studied tax law at William and Mary College, and later worked as a tax lawyer for the IRS. She is the mother of five children and has fostered 23 teenage girls over the years.

It is quite clear where Bachmann became a devotee of the conservative causes and stuck to them. I don't think it will be in fashion in 2012 if the American people wake up to her dismissive feelings about the suffering of people in the country during these hard times.

Oh for the days when the Republican senator from Maine, Margaret Chase Smith, stood up on the Senate floor and delivered her "declaration of conscience" at the height of the Joe McCarthy era - a point which led to his political demise.

Bachmann has made a few gaffs along the way. She referred to the actor John Wayne, saying he was from Waterloo, and told a Fox News correspondent during an interview "that's the kind of spirit I have, too."

The trouble is that the famous western movie actor was born in Winterset, Iowa - about 150 miles southwest of Waterloo. It was John Wayne Gacy, the serial killer clown who murdered and raped teenage boys in the 1970s, who came from Waterloo.

I hope that Bachmann's views of our country and the world do not prevail in the next election. What a pity to have a woman aspire to the presidency with such a lack of compassion and heart for the least advantaged.
(c) 2011 Helen Thomas is a columnist for the Falls Church News-Press. Among other books she is the author of Front Row At The White House: My Life and Times.

I Don't Say The Pledge Of Allegiance Anymore
By James Donahue

Since the attack that started our war against terrorism, patriotic symbols like our flag, certain music and military parades have become a constant imprint into the minds of American television viewers.

I recognize the hourly barrage of patriotic songs, flag displays, the repeated videos of the planes crashing into the World Trade Center and certain other symbols as part of a conscious and subconscious propaganda campaign. This form of electronic brainwashing is used to get the people of a nation mentally prepared for war.

There is nothing wrong with patriotism. National pride is the foundation of a strong nation where people can feel safe and secure. What I object to, however, is media and socially imposed patriotism for the wrong reasons, and the constant use of old and sometimes meaningless clichés designed to excite crowds for political purpose rather than ligitimate national defense.

I am especially bothered by the Pledge of Allegiance that we make to our flag. This pledge is taught to little children in grade school and it is repeated in schools and most public meetings so frequently that saying the words becomes rote. We say the pledge without thinking about what the words mean.

I object to the pledge because it no longer represents the state of our nation. To be truthful, it probably never did.

Let me explain.

The biggest problem I have with the pledge is that it says: "and to the republic for which it (our flag) stands." Except in political speeches where rhetoric flies, few people even mention that we are supposed to be a republic anymore. The key word we use is "democracy." I have to admit that we are probably a democracy. I believe this nation stopped being a republic a long time ago.

It is because we turned our system into a democracy that it can't be a republic. Oh, we have all of the appearances of being a republic. We elect our representatives to Washington and we send them to our state capitols and to our county court houses to conduct the business of government. And they are supposed to cast votes that represent the interest of the people in their voting districts back home. But does anybody believe, for one minute, that they are really doing this anymore?

County board members might still be listening to the people in their home precincts, but elected officials who go to state and federal jobs are not. They are mostly influenced by high-pressure lobbyists representing organizations or business interests willing to use money (and power) to buy their votes. The interests of the constituents are rarely considered anymore. To appease the home crowd, a certain amount of the money the government robs from us each week in taxes is filtered back into local coffers so our legislators give the appearance of doing their job. And that's about as good as it gets.

When you think about it, we don't really have a democracy in the United States either. We have a lot of people being cleverly controlled by a few very powerful men, mostly wealthy business leaders. We labor for these people for a mere minimal wage and think we are doing just fine. In actuality, we are slaves. We are bombarded daily with carefully prepared propaganda so that we believe (a.) we are free, (b.) we have free thought, (c.) our destiny is in our own hands, and (d.) our government will take care of us.

It is all a big lie.

We think we have free elections, but in reality they are controlled. Think about the strange events surrounding the last presidential election if you question this. Out of all of the millions of voters who went to the polls in this country, what would the odds be that the two leading candidates would come down to such a horse race in a state controlled by George W. Bush's brother?

And this brings me to the next part of the pledge to the flag that troubles me. We say in our pledge that we believe the flag represents "justice for all."

Even though the Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore polled the popular vote in the United States, Mr. Bush was handed this high office by the Supreme Court, which everyone knows is largely Republican in its makeup. Was it justice to block a second vote count in certain precincts that would have tipped the scales for Gore? Was it justice to have turned away black voters in certain Florida precincts known to support Gore?

And what about the appellate court decision that reversed a federal court's anti-trust decision against Bill Gates' great Microsoft Empire? That the richest man in the world mysteriously got a panel of appeals court judges to turn the scales in his favor should not have been a surprise. After all, money is involved here. It buys justice. But it doesn't promise "justice for all." Only justice for the rich.

We should not have to mention the lop-sided decisions by the U. S. Supreme Court that now give large corporations the freedom to dump unlimited amounts of cash into the campaigns of a select few of candidates seeking office. This same court blocked a class action lawsuit by the women of Wal-Mart against their employer for gender discrimination.

Books have been written about the injustices occurring in the criminal courts.

There is yet another word in that pledge that troubles me. It is the word "liberty." No one in this country can honestly say they possess this.

Following is the definition of liberty from the American Heritage Dictionary:

Liberty is (a.) The condition of being free from restriction or control. (b.) The right to act, believe, or express oneself in a manner of one's own choosing. (c.) The condition of being physically and legally free from confinement, servitude, or forced labor.

Liberty for the masses is non-existent in America. Now with new "war on terrorism" legislation and federally imposed rules on what we say, read or write, the concept of personal freedom is threatened more than ever before.

This is why I no longer recite the pledge of allegiance when everyone around me does it. I still stand in reverence to the flag however. I knew her glory when it really meant something.
(c) 2011 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles. He currently produces daily articles for this web site.

End The Empire
By Bob Bowman

The events of "Arab Spring" have given the United States an opportunity to reevaluate our entire foreign and military policy. That reevaluation has not yet happened, but it must.

Arab Spring

Most of the revolts of 2011 have been popular uprisings against aging dictators who have for decades kept their people in poverty and without a voice in their governance. The successful revolt against Hosni Mubarak in Egypt is a good example. It was a genuine popular uprising of ordinary people. The protesters were unarmed and mostly peaceful. They quickly gained the support of people all across the country and from all walks of life. Even the Army refused to fire on them. The media called them "pro-democracy" forces, but most of the demonstrators had little interest in "democracy" as such, and little understanding of what it is. What they wanted was a better life. They were demonstrating against unemployment, poverty, and hunger. And they succeeded. It is doubtful that any meaningful democracy will result, but the Egyptian people at least have a chance for a better standard of living. The dictator they overthrew, Hosni Mubarak, was an ally of the United States and Israel. But he was not deemed essential to our elites. We did not interfere. After all, puppet dictators come and go. Once in a while, you have to throw one of them under the bus.

It's another story in Yemen and Bahrain, where the local dictators have given us military bases and active cooperation in our "War on Terror." In these countries, the dictators are brutally repressing the demonstrators and killing unarmed civilians, with our tacit approval and probably with the assistance of the CIA. Having armed these dictators, we don't have to send troops in to help them (that the American people would not stand for). But we certainly won't help the "pro-democracy" demonstrators. For them, "Arab Spring" is nothing but a long, hard winter of discontent.


So what's goin on in Libya? Why are the vast majority of the Libyan people standing behind Moammar Khaddafi? And why are we sending the full air power of NATO to assist a small band of armed revolutionaries in Libya?

The answers are simple. First, Khaddafi has been, for the most part, a benevolent dictator. He has enormously bettered the lives of his people until their standard of living is the highest in the Arab world. Education is free. Medical care is free. Housing is free. Automobiles are heavily subsidized, as is the gasoline to run them. Young married couples start wedded life with a $50,000 subsidy. Every Libyan man, woman, and child gets something like $500 a year directly from the oil profits. Khaddafi has built the world's largest public works project, pumping rivers of fresh water from aquifers under the desert of southern Libya north to the cities along the Mediterranean where the people live. This has allowed the people to have clean drinking water, and has enabled agriculture. In short, the economic factors behind most of the revolts of "Arab Spring" are absent in Libya. No wonder the people, for the most part, support him (democracy or no).

Then who are the armed rebels, and why are we supporting them? Easy. They are Islamist malcontents. Some of them are unhappy that Khaddafi is taking a leading role in uniting African countries. They look down on black Africans, and want Libya to align itself with Europe. Some have long been CIA operatives, fighting against the Russians in Afghanistan, and now against the Americans (like so many "Al Qaeda"). Having no political loyalties, they are happy to accept CIA and NATO help in taking over Libya as an Islamist state.

For our part, we are using them to get rid of a thorn that has long been in our side. All of the dictators (former puppets of ours or not) that we have turned on (Saddam Hussein, Manuel Noriega, all the way back to Mossadegh in Iran) have committed one of these two cardinal sins: they have nationalized the oil industry, denying the Western oil companies billions in profits, or they have declared independence from the global banking cartel, refusing to borrow from the IMF and World Bank. This has cost the banks billions in interest, and prevented them from imposing harsh austerity measures which impoverish the people and make them permanent debt slaves. Khaddafi committed BOTH of these cardinal sins. First, he nationalized the oil industry, kicking out the western corporations. Instead of having a central bank under the thumb of the Rothschilds (like the US, Greece, Ireland, etc), Khaddafi printed his own money, backing it with gold from oil sales. He used the money to better the lives of his people.

These actions sealed Khaddafi's fate. The West has been waiting decades for an opportunity to take him out. The NATO "no fly zone" and the incessant bombing of Tripoli have nothing to do with protecting civilians from the Libyan army. They, like all our military adventures since World War II, have to do with protecting the global financial interests of multinational corporations and banks and the billionaires who own them. It's a desperate attempt to maintain the financial empire which owes no loyalty to this or any other country, which pays no taxes to our government, but which somehow has gotten control of our government and both major political parties, uses our sons and daughters as cannon fodder in their wars of aggression, and (believe it or not) gets us taxpayers to pay for it all!

Are we stupid or what?


It appears that Bashar al-Assad of Syria may be the next dictator to feel the wrath of US military power. He and his father Haffez al-Assad before him have been closer to Russia than to the West, allowing Russia access to Naval bases on the Mediterranean. They have also been supporters of Hezbollah and Hamas. But they have (like their fellow Ba'athist in Iraq, Saddam Hussein) also opposed militant Sunni Islamists, and allowed significant religious freedom to their Christian minority (about 10%). That did not save Saddam, and it won't save Assad.


Our ten-year war against Afghanistan has nothing to do with 9/11 or our national security. It is a war to secure the oil pipeline through Afghanistan that the Taliban refused to give to Unocal. It was planned in detail before the attacks on 9/11 (which the Taliban had nothing to do with). (According to the FBI, we don't even have any evidence that Osama bin Laden had anything to do with 9/11.) Like all the others, it is a war of Empire.


The war against Iraq had even less justification than that on Afghanistan. Since there was no connection whatsoever between Iraq and 9/11, the G. W. Bush administration invented the WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) excuse -one they knew was false. Would our generals have massed 150,000 troops in one spot in Kuwait if they thought there was any chance Saddam had even one WMD that could wipe out our entire force with one attack? No. But Iraq was the centerpiece of the grand plan of the Empire to establish 14 permanent military bases in Iraq, from which they (according to their own PNAC document) could control the entire Middle East and its tens of trillions of dollars in oil and gas.

End the Empire

We have hundreds of thousands of troops on over 700 bases in nearly 200 countries. After 56 years, we are still occupying Germany and Japan. It's time to end the Empire, bring all our troops home, end the corporate wars of aggression, give up our foreign military bases, abolish the CIA, and adopt a Constitutional foreign and military policy that uses our Armed Forces to protect our borders and our people -period. No more puppet dictators. Let the corporations and banks protect their own financial interests, and pay for it out of their own ill-gotten profits. We must take political power away from the corporations, banks, and billionaires so we can, once and for all, end the Empire!
(c) 2011 Dr. Robert M. Bowman, Lt. Col., USAF, ret. is the National Commander, "The Patriots."

An Open Letter to President Obama
Leaving Elizabeth Warren Out in the Cold
By Ralph Nader

Dear President Obama:

Yesterday's Washington Post published a page one article headlined "President Waging A Charm Offensive. Obama woos big donors to help fund early campaign expansion."

Later in the article appears this unseemly behavior by a public servant paid for by public funds:

"A key player in the closed-door donor recruitment is White House Chief of Staff William M. Daley, a former banking executive who has huddled in recent weeks over breakfasts and dinners with business leaders and Wall Street financiers in Chicago, New York and Washington--seeking to ease tensions over new financial regulations and other administration policies."

How rancid is the behavior described in the article compared to your no-more-business-as-usual rhetoric during your "hope and change you can believe in" 2008 campaign! What assurances are being given by your staff in order to secure donations NBC's David Brinkley once called "legalized bribery"?

Yesterday's New York Times has a column by Andrew Ross Sorkin about the campaign fundraising activities involving big time financiers. He writes: "While Wall Street executives still complain about the president's name-calling and pressure for a regulatory overhaul, many say privately that his bark has been worse than his bite."

It could be that your political advisers, viewing the unimpressive field of Republican wannabes for 2012, have neglected to crank in your stay-at-home voters who would exceed their number in 2010 by a substantial measure.

Not giving Elizabeth Warren a recess appointment (and using your Presidential authority to assure a recess, see attached letter) to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that she is now building at her post in the Treasury Department, will produce many stay-at-home voters. These are the Americans for whom over three years of dashed hopes in many fields view abandoning the authentically admired Professor Warren as the last straw!

Given the crimes and derelictions that looted or drained trillions of savers' and workers' money in 2008-2009 and that collapsed the economy with its resultant unemployment and bailouts, they want law and order for Wall Street.

This letter is being sent to your political adviser David Plouffe and to Vice President Biden.

Sincerely yours,

Ralph Nader

P.S. By the way, have you met with Professor Warren in the last year, as you do with Wall Street CEOs?

(c) 2011 Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His most recent book - and first novel - is, Only The Super Wealthy Can Save Us. His most recent work of non-fiction is The Seventeen Traditions.

Michele Bachmann Flunks Canadian History, Too
By Michael Winship

Travel, they say, improves the mind, a notion once rightly castigated in song by the late, great Noel Coward. It's "an irritating platitude," he wrote, "which frankly, entre nous, is far from ever true."

And yet there is some truth to it, although sailing on a celebratory birthday cruise up the Canadian Maritimes and along the St. Lawrence River, as I have been with friends these last few days, had the potential to confirm Sartre's belief that hell is other people.

Add to that qualms instilled by my girlfriend Pat's semi-serious theory that frequent outbreaks of food poisoning on cruise ships actually may be the result of chemical and biological warfare testing by the government. Think about it -- boat passengers are the perfect research targets, confined in a relatively small space, unsuspecting, isolated from the rest of the population. Why not lob a little concentrated E. coli in their direction and see what happens?

In truth, it may rank close to the belief that tornadoes would cease to exist if there were no trailer parks for them to tear up, but so be it. Throughout our voyage, company remained unhellish and untouched by gastroenteritis -- or worse.

In any case, one of the mind-broadening advantages of travel is to read the local papers -- if you can find them these days -- and learn what's on the mind of people in the places you land on. Sometimes their interests are highly parochial; sometimes they strongly reflect our own. On Canada's Prince Edward Island (PEI), locals were obsessing over the imminent visit to the island of Prince William and Kate Middleton. In the brief time we were there, townspeople of the provincial capital Charlottetown frantically repainted crosswalks, mowed lawns, clipped hedges and polished anything that didn't move, all in anticipation of the royal arrival.

Canada's national newspaper, The Globe and Mail, even reported that in advance of the visit a fishery museum not too far from Charlottetown had gotten hold of two rare blue lobsters. "We were going to name [one lobster] Blue Boy, but then we got thinking why not honor these special guests coming to PEI," a local known around the island as the Bearded Skipper told the paper. "Not everyone can see the royal couple but they can come to the museum and touch Will and Kate." Curtsying, no doubt, as they approach with bibs and bowls of melted butter.

Other news was more serious and familiar. Discrimination against Muslims in Toronto. Flooding in the province of Manitoba out west mirrored flooding of the Missouri River in the American Midwest. Canada's declining postal service was back in action after several rotating job actions by labor across the country were followed by a lockout -- a conservative government going after unionized civil service workers, just like home. Unemployment was at its lowest in more than two years...

Say that again? The US rate rose to 9.1 percent in May from 9.0 percent in April, with release of the June numbers due this Friday. But as per a June 10 dispatch from Reuters, "The unemployment rate in Canada fell to the lowest level since January 2009 in May as the number of jobs increased by 22,300, an island of healthy data in a sea of recent figures showing tepid North American economic growth.

"Statistics Canada reported on Friday that the jobless rate dropped from 7.6 percent in April to 7.4 percent in May, a number last seen when Canada was falling into recession at the start of 2009."

Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann celebrated the news with a tweet: "Lesson in economic recovery: Consider Canada. No stimulus & unemployment is 20% lower than US."

But Rep. Bachmann misinterprets Canada's history as thoroughly as she mangles America's. Eric Kleefeld of the progressive website Talking Points Memo wrote, "The absolute fact of the matter is that Canada undertook a thorough stimulus program under Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative Party -- one that was relatively smaller than the one here, but given the apples and oranges situation of having different economic needs, it was still a very considerable one."

The amount was $40 billion, Canadian. Adjusting for conversion, relative purchasing power, per-capita GDP, and the much larger population of the United States -- we have almost ten times as many people -- this was roughly equivalent to a stimulus of over US $360 billion -- less than half the Obama stimulus, but the recession did not hit Canada as badly as it crippled the US.

Why? Resurgence in demand for Canadian gas, oil and other minerals, for one thing (including asbestos -- Canada just blocked again the listing of chrysotile asbestos fibers as a hazardous chemical under the UN's Rotterdam Convention). But also, as Kleefeld notes, "One reason for Canada's resilience was having years of strict banking regulations, which fostered a more stable financial system." He cites an Economist article from May 2010: "Jim Flaherty, the finance minister, attributes Canada's strong performance to its 'boring' financial system. Prodded by tight regulation, the banks were much more conservative in their lending than their American counterparts. Those that did dabble in subprime loans were able to withdraw quickly. This prudence kept a lid on house prices while those in America were soaring, but it paid off when the bust hit."

Note that the banking regulations predate the rule of conservative Prime Minister Harper and that last year the six biggest Canadian banks still managed to rake in $20 billion in profits. This may come as a bit of a shock to Bachmann, who has included complete repeal of our barely year-old, Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act as part of her presidential campaign platform.

In her capacity as a representative from Minnesota, one assumes that Rep. Bachmann has traveled more than once to our northern neighbor. Still, a return visit might not only improve the mind but also help her brush up on Canadian history. On the other hand, the shock of finding out that Canada has a single payer, government-run health care program might cause her to implode.
© 2011 Michael Winship is senior writing fellow at Demos, president of the Writers Guild of America, East, and former senior writer of Bill Moyers Journal on PBS.

Corporate Cash Con
By Paul Krugman

Watching the evolution of economic discussion in Washington over the past couple of years has been a disheartening experience. Month by month, the discourse has gotten more primitive; with stunning speed, the lessons of the 2008 financial crisis have been forgotten, and the very ideas that got us into the crisis - regulation is always bad, what's good for the bankers is good for America, tax cuts are the universal elixir - have regained their hold.

And now trickle-down economics - specifically, the idea that anything that increases corporate profits is good for the economy - is making a comeback.

On the face of it, this seems bizarre. Over the last two years profits have soared while unemployment has remained disastrously high. Why should anyone believe that handing even more money to corporations, no strings attached, would lead to faster job creation?

Nonetheless, trickle-down is clearly on the ascendant - and even some Democrats are buying into it. What am I talking about? Consider first the arguments Republicans are using to defend outrageous tax loopholes. How can people simultaneously demand savage cuts in Medicare and Medicaid and defend special tax breaks favoring hedge fund managers and owners of corporate jets?

Well, here's what a spokesman for Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, told Greg Sargent of The Washington Post: "You can't help the wage earner by taxing the wage payer offering a job." He went on to imply, disingenuously, that the tax breaks at issue mainly help small businesses (they're actually mainly for big corporations). But the basic argument was that anything that leaves more money in the hands of corporations will mean more jobs. That is, it's pure trickle-down.

And then there's the repatriation issue.

U.S. corporations are supposed to pay taxes on the profits of their overseas subsidiaries - but only when those profits are transferred back to the parent company. Now there's a move afoot - driven, of course, by a major lobbying campaign - to offer an amnesty under which companies could move funds back while paying hardly any taxes. And even some Democrats are supporting this idea, claiming that it would create jobs.

As opponents of this plan point out, we've already seen this movie: A similar tax holiday was offered in 2004, with a similar sales pitch. And it was a total failure. Companies did indeed take advantage of the amnesty to move a lot of money back to the United States. But they used that money to pay dividends, pay down debt, buy up other companies, buy back their own stock - pretty much everything except increasing investment and creating jobs. Indeed, there's no evidence that the 2004 tax holiday did anything at all to stimulate the economy.

What the tax holiday did do, however, was give big corporations a chance to avoid paying taxes, because they would eventually have repatriated, and paid taxes on, much of the money they brought in under the amnesty. And it also gave these companies an incentive to move even more jobs overseas, since they now know that there's a good chance that they'll be able to bring overseas profits home nearly tax-free under future amnesties.

Yet as I said, there's a push for a repeat of this disastrous performance. And this time around the circumstances are even worse. Think about it: How can anyone imagine that lack of corporate cash is what's holding back recovery in America right now? After all, it's widely understood that corporations are already sitting on large amounts of cash that they aren't investing in their own businesses.

In fact, that idle cash has become a major conservative talking point, with right-wingers claiming that businesses are failing to invest because of political uncertainty. That's almost surely false: the evidence strongly says that the real reason businesses are sitting on cash is lack of consumer demand. In any case, if corporations already have plenty of cash they're not using, why would giving them a tax break that adds to this pile of cash do anything to accelerate recovery?

It wouldn't, of course; claims that a corporate tax holiday would create jobs, or that ending the tax break for corporate jets would destroy jobs, are nonsense.

So here's what you should answer to anyone defending big giveaways to corporations: Lack of corporate cash is not the problem facing America. Big business already has the money it needs to expand; what it lacks is a reason to expand with consumers still on the ropes and the government slashing spending.

What our economy needs is direct job creation by the government and mortgage-debt relief for stressed consumers. What it very much does not need is a transfer of billions of dollars to corporations that have no intention of hiring anyone except more lobbyists.
(c) 2011 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

"The American Dream has run out of gas. The car has stopped. It no longer supplies the world with its images, its dreams, its fantasies. No more. It's over. It supplies the world with its nightmares now"
~~~ J. G. Ballard

Ralph Nader Is Tired Of Running For President
By Chris Hedges

The most important moral and intellectual voices within a disintegrating society are slowly discredited when their nonviolent protests and calls for justice cannot alter intransigent and corrupt systems of power. The repeated acts of peaceful civil disobedience, efforts at electoral and political reform and the fight to protect the rule of law are dismissed as useless by an embittered, dispossessed and betrayed public. The demagogues and hatemongers, the purveyors of violence, easily seduce enraged and bewildered masses in the final stages of collapse with false promises of vengeance, new glory and moral renewal. And in the spiral downward the good among us are reviled as naive and ineffectual fools.

There is no shortage of courageous dissidents in America. They seek to thwart the imperial disasters, looming financial insolvency and suicidal addiction to fossil fuel. They have stood in small knots on street corners week after week, month after month, year after year, to denounce the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They have occupied banks, shut down coal-fired power plants, attempted to halt mountaintop removal, interfered with whaling ships and walked in blustery weather to the White House, where they were arrested. They are struggling to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza on a ship called the Audacity of Hope. But because the corporate state and the two major political parties are indifferent to principled calls for reform, and because the mass of the public still buys into the myths of globalization and the American dream, the plundering and destruction continue unimpeded.

When most Americans face the nightmare before us, when they realize the irreversible devastation unleashed on the ecosystem and the economic misery from which they cannot escape, violence will have a broad and terrifying appeal. Those of us who demand a return to the rule of law and remain steadfast to nonviolence will find ourselves cast aside-the useful idiots Lenin so despised. I watched this happen in the social and political implosions in El Salvador, Guatemala, the Palestinian territories, Algeria, Bosnia and Kosovo. I watched the same cocktail of despair, economic collapse and callousness from a corrupt power elite mix itself into potent brews of civil strife. I watched the same untiring efforts by those who detested the violence and cruelty of the state, and the nascent violence and intolerance of the radical opposition. I covered as a reporter the disintegration that tore these societies apart. Those who held fast to moral imperatives, including Archbishop Oscar Romero in El Salvador and Ibrahim Rugova in Kosovo, were thrust aside and replaced with killers on both sides of the divide who embraced violence.

"Wait until October," Ralph Nader said when we spoke this weekend. "That's when the budget cuts will hit home. It is one thing to have the governors of Ohio, Wisconsin and Florida and the legislators saying we will cut this and that. We don't know what will actually happen when the guillotines are put in place. You may have a different kind of surge of public resistance and protest.

"There will be more and more people in the streets, homeless and hungry," he said of the looming cuts. "Babies will be sick. Everything will be overloaded from the free food to the clinics. You never know where the spark will come from. Look at the guy who robbed the bank for a dollar. That was not quite the spark, but that is what I am talking about. This is what you have to do to get health care. Let's say 50 people did that. There are a lot of dry tinder piles like that."

The death of liberal institutions that once made incremental and piecemeal reform possible, which once could respond to the suffering of the poor, the unemployed and working men and women, which once sought to protect the Earth on which we depend for life, means the last thin hope for reform is embodied in acts of civil disobedience. There are no established institutions that will help us. The press ignores the cries of the underclass and the poor. The labor movement is atrophied and dying. Public education is degraded and being rapidly dismantled. Our religious institutions no longer engage in the core issues of justice. And the Democratic Party is on its knees before Wall Street. The most basic government services designed to ameliorate the pain, including Head Start and Social Security, are targeted by our corporate overlords for destruction. The Kyoto Protocol, which was not nearly ambitious enough to prevent environmental collapse, has been gutted so companies like Exxon Mobil can continue to amass the largest profits in history.

Radical reform, including a breaking of our dependence on fossil fuel, must happen soon to thwart the effects of dramatic climate change and economic disintegration. And this radical reform will come only through us. I will join, for this reason, those planning the prolonged occupation of Washington on Oct. 6. Acts of civil disobedience are our last, thin line of defense against chaos. Make a resolution this Independence Day to join us. You owe it to your children and to the generations who come after us. I am not naive enough to promise you we can reverse these trends. I know the monolith we challenge. But I do know that if we do not begin to take part in these nonviolent protests then we have, in effect, given up all realistic hope of change and succumbed meekly to corporate enslavement, environmental catastrophe and severe social unrest.

"The first sign that there is a real breakdown is that the bridge between the people you mentioned and the people who should be speaking out as a result of their professional status is not there," Nader said. "I am talking about the deans of law schools and law professors, as well as leading members of the bar. The obverse of that is that in 2005 and 2006 there was a bridge built. It was the president of the [American Bar Association] Michael Greco. He thought the destruction of the rule of law by George Bush was historically very dangerous. He commissioned three reports, using members of the ABA who were formally in national security agencies such as the FBI, the NSA, the CIA and the Justice Department. They came up with three white papers on three subjects, one of them being signing statements. They concluded that the recurrent violations by President Bush had risen to the state of serious violations of our Constitution. These papers were made public. They sent them to President Bush. He never replied. Apart from The Associated Press, the press, including the [New York] Times and the [Washington] Post, ignored it. That to me was a much bigger litmus test. It showed how deep the institutionalized official illegality has become, more important than the ignoring of people like Chomsky and us.

"Usually people who are candid in calling things as they are, are viewed as people on the outside who want to change the system," Nader said. "In the historic past they were socialists. They were radical labor leaders such as the [Industrial Workers of the World]. This time those people who are speaking out want a restoration of the rule of law. This is a pretty conservative goal. The extreme radicals are now in charge of our country, the military-industrial complex and the White House. It is not so much the military as the civilian leadership, the neocons in the White House. The military does not like to get into wars, but once they are in it is very hard to control them because they want to win.

"It's not like Japan in 1939, which really was a militaristic society. It is exactly the opposite of what the constitutional founders thought would be the case. They put the civilians in charge to restrain the military. In effect, these people are activating and pushing the military into places the military does not want to go. They use a volunteer Army, flatter it, give it a lot of weaponry and send it abroad. Only about 5 million people, soldiers and their families, feel what is going on. Once it is entrenched, once you accept this neocon ideology, which is a vitriolic, aggressive, empire-spreading ideology, run largely by draft dodgers who in their youth gung-hoed the Vietnam War but wanted their friends to go and die for it, then democracy is too weak to overcome that. Two dozen people plunged this country into war. The first arena designed to stop this is the Congress, but it does not observe its constitutional duties or require a declaration of war."

While protests are useful, Nader does not see any possibility for reform until there is a widespread effort to organize a sustained and radical opposition movement. This will come by building a movement that offers an alternative ideology and vision to that of unfettered capitalism, consumerism, empire and globalization. It is something Nader tried and failed to do during his own presidential campaigns.

"There is a tremendous asymmetry," Nader said. "Seven hundred thousand people demonstrated in London. But where are they the next day? And where are their adversaries? The next day their adversaries are on the job. Where are the 700,000 people? They are out of there. How many organizers are on the ground in the 435 districts? Could labor unions have been organized without organizers? Could the suffragist movement have been organized without organizers? Could the anti-slavery movement or the civil rights movement been organized without organizers? If you don't have organizers on the ground you know ipso facto that your demonstration is going nowhere."

When I asked Nader, who mounted campaigns for the presidency in 2000, 2004 and 2008, if he would consider running again, he answered that it was "very unlikely."

"You have millions of people who say run, run, run. Then you put yourself out there and find they are voting for Obama. Until they become mature, until they realize that if they generate 5 to 8 million votes behind a progressive third-party candidate for leverage, what is the point? Why should people try four or five times? Let someone else do it.

"The people who go out there with some credibility and record, go into 50 states, sweat it out month after month, beating back ballot access obstacles, fighting the Democrats who are trying to suppress free speech and candidate choices for the voters, and then you still can't get on the air to discuss civil liberties. Never mind that they do not want to upset dear Obama or dear [John] Kerry. They don't give you airtime to discuss the simple issue of the denial of civil liberties and the crushing of third parties."

If elections were that effective, as the anti-war activist Phil Berrigan used to say, they would be illegal. We must follow the path Nader forged, attempting to sway enough people with conscience to sever themselves permanently and unequivocally from the mainstream and especially the Democratic Party. This defiance will again be dismissed as counterproductive and ineffectual. The sacrifices we are called to make will be real, uncomfortable and immediate, while the goals will be distant and uncertain. It will remain hard, for this reason, to jolt people awake. The expediency of the moment has a habit of subsuming the moral imperatives of the future. But time is not on our side. The impending disasters that await us, ecological and economic, are already visible on the horizon. If we do not sever ourselves from established systems of power, if we do not become in every action we undertake agents of rebellion, then the ecological, economic and, finally, human distortions that arise in times of confusion, suffering and collapse will overwhelm us.
(c) 2011 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. He is the author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. His latest book is, ""Death Of The Liberal Class."

Drugs And The Meaning Of Life
By Sam Harris

Everything we do is for the purpose of altering consciousness. We form friendships so that we can feel certain emotions, like love, and avoid others, like loneliness. We eat specific foods to enjoy their fleeting presence on our tongues. We read for the pleasure of thinking another person's thoughts. Every waking moment-and even in our dreams-we struggle to direct the flow of sensation, emotion, and cognition toward states of consciousness that we value.

Drugs are another means toward this end. Some are illegal; some are stigmatized; some are dangerous-though, perversely, these sets only partially intersect. There are drugs of extraordinary power and utility, like psilocybin (the active compound in "magic mushrooms") and lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), which pose no apparent risk of addiction and are physically well-tolerated, and yet one can still be sent to prison for their use-while drugs like tobacco and alcohol, which have ruined countless lives, are enjoyed ad libitum in almost every society on earth. There are other points on this continuum-3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA or "Ecstasy") has remarkable therapeutic potential, but it is also susceptible to abuse, and it appears to be neurotoxic.

One of the great responsibilities we have as a society is to educate ourselves, along with the next generation, about which substances are worth ingesting, and for what purpose, and which are not. The problem, however, is that we refer to all biologically active compounds by a single term-"drugs"-and this makes it nearly impossible to have an intelligent discussion about the psychological, medical, ethical, and legal issues surrounding their use. The poverty of our language has been only slightly eased by the introduction of terms like "psychedelics" to differentiate certain visionary compounds, which can produce extraordinary states of ecstasy and insight, from "narcotics" and other classic agents of stupefaction and abuse.

Drug abuse and addiction are real problems, of course-the remedy for which is education and medical treatment, not incarceration. In fact, the worst drugs of abuse in the United States now appear to be prescription painkillers, like oxycodone. Should these medicines be made illegal? Of course not. People need to be informed about them, and addicts need treatment. And all drugs-including alcohol, cigarettes, and aspirin-must be kept out of the hands of children.

I discuss issues of drug policy in some detail in my first book, The End of Faith (pp. 158-164), and my thinking on the subject has not changed. The "war on drugs" has been well lost, and should never have been waged. While it isn't explicitly protected by the U.S. Constitution, I can think of no political right more fundamental than the right to peacefully steward the contents of one's own consciousness. The fact that we pointlessly ruin the lives of nonviolent drug users by incarcerating them, at enormous expense, constitutes one of the great moral failures of our time. (And the fact that we make room for them in our prisons by paroling murderers and rapists makes one wonder whether civilization isn't simply doomed.)

I have a daughter who will one day take drugs. Of course, I will do everything in my power to see that she chooses her drugs wisely, but a life without drugs is neither foreseeable, nor, I think, desirable. Someday, I hope she enjoys a morning cup of tea or coffee as much as I do. If my daughter drinks alcohol as an adult, as she probably will, I will encourage her to do it safely. If she chooses to smoke marijuana, I will urge moderation. Tobacco should be shunned, of course, and I will do everything within the bounds of decent parenting to steer her away from it. Needless to say, if I knew my daughter would eventually develop a fondness for methamphetamine or crack cocaine, I might never sleep again. But if she does not try a psychedelic like psilocybin or LSD at least once in her adult life, I will worry that she may have missed one of the most important rites of passage a human being can experience.

This is not to say that everyone should take psychedelics. As I will make clear below, these drugs pose certain dangers. Undoubtedly, there are people who cannot afford to give the anchor of sanity even the slightest tug. It has been many years since I have taken psychedelics, in fact, and my abstinence is borne of a healthy respect for the risks involved. However, there was a period in my early 20's when I found drugs like psilocybin and LSD to be indispensable tools of insight, and some of the most important hours of my life were spent under their influence. I think it quite possible that I might never have discovered that there was an inner landscape of mind worth exploring without having first pressed this pharmacological advantage.

While human beings have ingested plant-based psychedelics for millennia, scientific research on these compounds did not begin until the 1950's. By 1965, a thousand studies had been published, primarily on psilocybin and LSD, many of which attested to the usefulness of psychedelics in the treatment of clinical depression, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), alcohol addiction, and the pain and anxiety associated with terminal cancer. Within a few years, however, this entire field of research was abolished in an effort to stem the spread of these drugs among the general public. After a hiatus that lasted an entire generation, scientific research on the pharmacology and therapeutic value of psychedelics has quietly resumed.

The psychedelics include chemicals like psilocybin, LSD, DMT, and mescaline-all of which powerfully alter cognition, perception, and mood. Most seem to exert their influence through the serotonin system in the brain, primarily by binding to 5-HT2A receptors (though several have affinity for other receptors as well), leading to increased neuronal activity in prefrontal cortex (PFC). While the PFC in turn modulates subcortical dopamine production, the effect of psychedelics appears to take place largely outside dopamine pathways (which might explain why these drugs are not habit forming).

The mere existence of psychedelics would seem to establish the material basis of mental and spiritual life beyond any doubt-for the introduction of these substances into the brain is the obvious cause of any numinous apocalypse that follows. It is possible, however, if not actually plausible, to seize this datum from the other end and argue, and Aldous Huxley did in his classic essay, The Doors of Perception, that the primary function of the brain could be eliminative: its purpose could be to prevent some vast, transpersonal dimension of mind from flooding consciousness, thereby allowing apes like ourselves to make their way in the world without being dazzled at every step by visionary phenomena irrelevant to their survival. Huxley thought that if the brain were a kind of "reducing valve" for "Mind at Large," this would explain the efficacy of psychedelics: They could simply be a material means of opening the tap.

Unfortunately, Huxley was operating under the erroneous assumption that psychedelics decrease brain activity. However, modern techniques of neuroimaging have shown that these drugs tend to increase activity in many regions of the cortex (and in subcortical structures as well). Still, the action of these drugs does not rule out dualism, or the existence of realms of mind beyond the brain-but then nothing does. This is one of the problems with views of this kind: They appear to be unfalsifiable.

Of course, the brain does filter an extraordinary amount of information from consciousness. And, like many who have taken these drugs, I can attest that psychedelics certainly throw open the gates. Needless to say, positing the existence of a "Mind at Large" is more tempting in some states of consciousness than in others. And the question of which view of reality we should privilege is, at times, worth considering. But these drugs can also produce mental states that are best viewed in clinical terms as forms of psychosis. As a general matter, I believe we should be very slow to make conclusions about the nature of the cosmos based upon inner experience - no matter how profound these experiences seem.

However, there is no question that the mind is vaster and more fluid than our ordinary, waking consciousness suggests. Consequently, it is impossible to communicate the profundity (or seeming profundity) of psychedelic states to those who have never had such experiences themselves. It is, in fact, difficult to remind oneself of the power of these states once they have passed.

Many people wonder about the difference between meditation (and other contemplative practices) and psychedelics. Are these drugs a form of cheating, or are they the one, indispensable vehicle for authentic awakening? They are neither. Many people don't realize that all psychoactive drugs modulate the existing neurochemistry of the brain-either by mimicking specific neurotransmitters or by causing the neurotransmitters themselves to be more active. There is nothing that one can experience on a drug that is not, at some level, an expression of the brain's potential. Hence, whatever one has experienced after ingesting a drug like LSD is likely to have been experienced, by someone, somewhere, without it.

However, it cannot be denied that psychedelics are a uniquely potent means of altering consciousness. If a person learns to meditate, pray, chant, do yoga, etc., there is no guarantee that anything will happen. Depending on his aptitude, interest, etc., boredom could be the only reward for his efforts. If, however, a person ingests 100 micrograms of LSD, what will happen next will depend on a variety of factors, but there is absolutely no question that something will happen. And boredom is simply not in the cards. Within the hour, the significance of his existence will bear down upon our hero like an avalanche. As Terence McKenna never tired of pointing out, this guarantee of profound effect, for better or worse, is what separates psychedelics from every other method of spiritual inquiry. It is, however, a difference that brings with it certain liabilities.

Ingesting a powerful dose of a psychedelic drug is like strapping oneself to a rocket without a guidance system. One might wind up somewhere worth going-and, depending on the compound and one's "set and setting," certain trajectories are more likely than others. But however methodically one prepares for the voyage, one can still be hurled into states of mind so painful and confusing as to be indistinguishable from psychosis. Hence, the terms "psychotomimetic" and "psychotogenic" that are occasionally applied to these drugs.

I have visited both extremes on the psychedelic continuum. The positive experiences were more sublime than I could have ever imagined or than I can now faithfully recall. These chemicals disclose layers of beauty that art is powerless to capture and for which the beauty of Nature herself is a mere simulacrum. It is one thing to be awestruck by the sight of a giant redwood and to be amazed at the details of its history and underlying biology. It is quite another to spend an apparent eternity in egoless communion with it. Positive psychedelic experiences often reveal how wondrously at ease in the universe a human being can be-and for most of us, normal waking consciousness does not offer so much as a glimmer of these deeper possibilities.

People generally come away from such experiences with a sense that our conventional states of consciousness obscure and truncate insights and emotions that are sacred. If the patriarchs and matriarchs of the world's religions experienced such states of mind, many of their claims about the nature of reality can make subjective sense. The beautific vision does not tell you anything about the birth of the cosmos-but it does reveal how utterly transfigured a mind can be by a full collision with the present moment.

But as the peaks are high, the valleys are deep. My "bad trips" were, without question, the most harrowing hours I have ever suffered-and they make the notion of hell, as a metaphor if not a destination, seem perfectly apt. If nothing else, these excruciating experiences can become a source of compassion. I think it would be impossible to have any sense of what it is like to suffer from mental illness without having briefly touched its shores.

At both ends of the continuum time dilates in ways that cannot be described-apart from saying that these experiences can seem eternal. I have had sessions, both positive and negative, in which any knowledge that I had ingested a drug had been entirely extinguished, and all memories of my past along with it. Full immersion in the present moment, to this degree, is synonymous with the feeling that one has always been, and will always be, in precisely this condition. Depending on the character of one's experience at that point, notions of salvation and damnation do not seem hyperbolic. In my experience, Blake's line about beholding "eternity in an hour" neither promises, nor threatens, too much.

In the beginning, my experiences with psilocybin and LSD were so positive that I could not believe a bad trip was possible. Notions of "set and setting," admittedly vague, seemed sufficient to account for this. My mental set was exactly as it needed to be-I was a spiritually serious investigator of my own mind-and my setting was generally one of either natural beauty or secure solitude.

I cannot account for why my adventures with psychedelics were uniformly pleasant until they weren't-but when the doors to hell finally opened, they appear to have been left permanently ajar. Thereafter, whether or not a trip was good in the aggregate, it generally entailed some harrowing detour on the path to sublimity. Have you ever traveled, beyond all mere metaphors, to the Mountain of Shame and stayed for a thousand years? I do not recommend it.

On my first trip to Nepal, I took a rowboat out on Phewa Lake in Pokhara, which offers a stunning view of the Annapurna range. It was early morning, and I was alone. As the sun rose over the water, I ingested 400 micrograms of LSD. I was 20 years old and had taken the drug at least ten times previously. What could go wrong?

Everything, as it turns out. Well, not everything-I didn't drown. And I have a vague memory of drifting ashore and of being surrounded by a group of Nepali soldiers. After watching me for a while, as I ogled them over the gunwale like a lunatic, they seemed on the verge of deciding what to do with me. Some polite words of Esperanto, and a few, mad oar strokes, and I was off shore and into oblivion. So I suppose that could have ended differently.

But soon there was no lake or mountains or boat-and if I had fallen into the water I am pretty sure there would have been no one to swim. For the next several hours my mind became the perfect instrument of self-torture. All that remained was a continuous shattering and terror for which I have no words.

These encounters take something out of you. Even if drugs like LSD are biologically safe, the potential for extremely unpleasant and destabilizing experiences presents its own risks. I believe I was positively affected for weeks and months by my good trips, and negatively affected by the bad ones. Given these roulette-like odds, one can only recommend these experiences with caution.

While meditation can open the mind to a similar range of conscious states, they are reached far less haphazardly. If LSD is like being strapped to rocket, learning to meditate is like gently raising a sail. Yes, it is possible, even with guidance, to wind up someplace terrifying-and there are people who probably shouldn't spend long periods in intensive practice. But the general effect of meditation training is of settling ever more fully into one's own skin, and suffering less, rather than more there.

As I discussed in The End of Faith, I view most psychedelic experiences as potentially misleading. Psychedelics do not guarantee wisdom. They merely guarantee more content. And visionary experiences, considered in their totality, appear to me to be ethically neutral. Therefore, it seems that psychedelic ecstasy must be steered toward our personal and collective well-being by some other principle. As Daniel Pinchbeck pointed out in his highly entertaining book, Breaking Open the Head, the fact that both the Mayans and the Aztecs used psychedelics, while being enthusiastic practitioners of human sacrifice, makes any idealistic link between plant-based shamanism and an enlightened society seem terribly naive.

As I will discuss in future essays, the form of transcendence that appears to link directly to ethical behavior and human well-being is the transcendence of egoity in the midst of ordinary waking consciousness. It is by ceasing to cling to the contents of consciousness-to our thoughts, moods, desires, etc.-that we make progress. Such a project does not, in principle, require that we experience more contents. The freedom from self that is both the goal and foundation of "spiritual" life is coincident with normal perception and cognition-though, admittedly, this can be difficult to realize.

The power of psychedelics, however, is that they often reveal, in the span of a few hours, depths of awe and understanding that can otherwise elude us for a lifetime. As is often the case, William James said it about as well as words permit:

One conclusion was forced upon my mind at that time, and my impression of its truth has ever since remained unshaken. It is that our normal waking consciousness, rational consciousness as we call it, is but one special type of consciousness, whilst all about it, parted from it by the filmiest of screens, there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different. We may go through life without suspecting their existence; but apply the requisite stimulus, and at a touch they are there in all their completeness, definite types of mentality which probably somewhere have their field of application and adaptation. No account of the universe in its totality can be final which leaves these other forms of consciousness quite disregarded. How to regard them is the question,-for they are so discontinuous with ordinary consciousness. Yet they may determine attitudes though they cannot furnish formulas, and open a region though they fail to give a map. At any rate, they forbid a premature closing of our accounts with reality.

(The Varieties of Religious Experience, p. 388)

(c) 2011 Sam Harris is the author of "The End Of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason" and "Letter to a Christian Nation" and is the co-founder of The Reason Project, which promotes scientific knowledge and secular values. Follow Sam Harris on Twitter.

The Dead Letter Office...

Heil Obama,

Dear Burgermeister Dyer,

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

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

Along with this award you will be given the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds, presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 09-05-2011. We salute you Herr Dyer, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

Wisconsin Women's Groups, Elected Leaders Ask Accused Justice to Step Aside During Violence Inquiry
By John Nichols

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser, Governor Scott Walker's mentor and chief ally on the state's highest court bench, has admitted that he called the state's chief justice a "bitch" and threatened to "destroy" her.

Prosser now stands accused of physically attacking another woman on the court, Justice Ann Walsh Bradley. Bradley has confirmed reports that, as the court was debating a Prosser's push to get the high court to defend Walker's anti-labor agenda, Prosser attacked her, grabbed her around the neck and put her in a chokehold.

Prosser has issued a vague statement suggesting that charges against him will be proven false when an investigation of the incident is completed.

No other member of the court has spoken on the record about what happened, although several justices were present when Prosser entered Bradley's office, refused to leave and then allegedly attacked her.

Unfortunately, Walker's media echo chamber has had some success in spinning bizarre claims that Prosser was either provoked - as he claimed was the case when he spewed obscenities at Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson and then threatened to destroy her - or that he was attacked by Bradley. Neutral players, such as former Justice Janine Geske, who was appointed to the high court by former Republican Governor Tommy Thompson, have come to Bradley's defense.

But still the spin continues, and it has even been picked up by mainstream media outlets that have begun to play the game of suggesting that a woman who is attacked must somehow share the blame for her victimhood.

This crude calculus has unsettled and offended members of Wisconsin women's rights organizations and elected officials from across the state, and on Tuesday they called for Prosser to take a leave from office until investigations - by the Dane County Sheriff's office and the state Judicial Commission -- are complete.

A veteran state representative, members of the Milwaukee and Madison school boards, county supervisors from urban and rural regions of the state and the president of the Madison City Council are among those calling for Prosser to take a step aside until the investigation is completed.

"Justice Prosser has a history of abusive behavior toward the women with whom he serves on the state's highest court. Earlier this year, Prosser called Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson a "bitch" and threatened to ‘destroy' her," read a statement from those calling for Prosser to step aside while the investigation is completed. "Now he stands accused of putting his hands around Justice Ann Walsh Bradley's neck during a dispute in her office. According to Bradley's account of the assault, she had demanded that Prosser leave her office, and he responded by putting his hands around her neck in anger in a chokehold."

"As a member of the highest court in Wisconsin, Justice Prosser sits in a position of high trust," said Madison City Council member Lisa Subeck, the executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin and one of the organizers of the call. "No individual is above the law, especially an elected official sworn to uphold the very laws he is accused of breaking. As a gesture of respect for the law, Justice Prosser should take a leave from his position while these official investigations unfold."

Noting statistics about workplace violence against women, Dane County Supervisor Dianne Hesselbein explained that: "Violence against women takes many forms - from domestic violence to sexual assault to workplace violence. All women should have the right to a workplace free of violence and abuse, and no woman should be disempowered by the abusive words or actions of a colleague."

Her fellow supervisor, Carousel Bayrd, added that, "As elected officials, we are role models trusted by those we represent. Justice Prosser has a responsibility to the citizens of Wisconsin to do the right thing and take a leave from office until an investigation of his actions is complete and to resign immediately if Justice Bradley's account of the choking incident is confirmed."

Here is a list of the Wisconsin groups and the elected officials who have called on Prosser to immediately step aside until the conclusion of a full investigation include:

Wisconsin NOW

Wisconsin Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice

Women's Medical Fund, Inc.

NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin

National Lawyers Guild, Madison chapter

National Organization for Women (NOW), Madison chapter

State Representative Terese Berceau

Milwaukee Public School Board Member Meagan Holman

Madison School District Board Vice-President Marj Passman

Madison School Board Member Arlene Silveira

Madison City Council President Lauren Cnare

Madison City Council President Pro-Tem Shiva Bidar Sielaff

Madison Alder Bridget Maniaci

Madison Alder Marsha Rummel

Madison Alder Lisa Subeck

Grant County Board Supervisor Carol Beals

Dane County Board Supervisor Carousel Bayrd

Dane County Board Supervisor Sharon Corrigan

Dane County Board Supervisor Analiese Eicher

Dane County Supervisor Dianne Hesselbein

Dane County Board Supervisor Barb Vedder

Dane County Board Supervisor Melissa Sargent
(c) 2011 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. He is a contributing writer for The Progressive and In These Times and the associate editor of the Capital Times, the daily newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and dozens of other newspapers.

$4 Trillion For War-And Counting
By Joe Conason

Anyone paying attention to the costs of U.S. military action in Iraq and Afghanistan must have known that the president badly underestimated those numbers on June 22, when he told the nation that we have spent "a trillion dollars" waging war over the past decade. For well over two years, we have known that the total monetary cost of those wars will eventually amount to well over $2 trillion, and might well rise higher, according to Nobel economist Joseph Stiglitz and his associate Linda Bilmes.

What we didn't know until this week is that the expense in constant dollars-leaving aside the horrific price paid by the dead, wounded, displaced and ruined in every country-will likely reach well over $4.4 trillion.

That is the conclusion of a study released by the Eisenhower Research Project, a group of scholars, diplomats and other experts based at Brown University's Watson Institute for International Studies. The Eisenhower study doesn't scant the human damage, which its authors say has been underestimated as badly as the fiscal costs. According to them, "an extremely conservative estimate of the toll in direct war dead and wounded is about 225,000 dead and about 365,000 physically wounded in these wars so far"-including those in Pakistan, which is embroiled in war just as lethally as Afghanistan.

The American military dead in all three countries now totals more than 6,000, a figure that does not include another 2,300 in U.S. military contractors; the American wounded, military and civilian, are well over 100,000, which doesn't include the psychological destruction wreaked on those who served and their families. The most obvious indicator is the exceptionally high suicide rate among the million or more returned veterans.

The Eisenhower study's authors concede that they cannot readily estimate the full value of the economic and social damage we have sustained as a nation-in lost years of work and wrecked families, as well as huge interest costs on the money borrowed to finance these interventions. Nor can they fully account for the growth and investment forfeited because such a great proportion of the nation's resources was squandered on war rather than pressing needs in infrastructure, energy, education and health.

For less than 5 percent of what we have spent on war-to consider one example among many-we could have completed an American high-speed rail system and repaired most of our crumbling infrastructure, too.

Even if the current war could somehow be concluded instantly, however, the moral and fiscal obligations incurred so far will continue for decades. Beyond the mandatory disability payments, medical and psychiatric care, and additional benefits to which our veterans are entitled, we will face the prospect of increasing military budgets to restore the equipment and readiness of the battered Army and National Guard.

And those costs in turn will subtract from the scant dollars left for domestic programs-as President Eisenhower himself observed when he said, "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

It is sobering to revisit the question of what war has cost us in this generation at a moment when the debate over the nation's finances is so furious and yet so often frivolous.

But it is ever more important to remember how we arrived at this dead end, especially as we listen to the braying Republican leaders who refuse to consider any tax increase. Our fiscal woe is the legacy of their policy, waging war at enormous expense, while sharply reducing taxes on the rich. What we live with now is what "conservatism" has wrought.
(c) 2011 Joe Conason writes for The New York Observer and Salon. You may reach Joe via email at: Joe Conason

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Scott Stantis ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

One Plank in This Platform: I'm For the Poor

Just One Plank
By Chris Foyd

Well there's lots of politicians
Philosophers and more
They'll tell you how to run the world
And what your life is for
Well I ain't no politician
But I've seen life from shore to shore
You want to know my program man?
I'm for the poor

Yeah I'm for the poor, I'm for the poor
The sick and hungry who can't take no more

Well a lot of folks are savvy
They're serious and smart
They'll tell you why the rich should rule
They've got it on a chart
But they worship at the altar
Of a hand they cannot see
And their greedy god has gobbled up
Their own humanity

But I'm for the poor, yeah, I'm for the poor
The sick and the hungry outside the door

Well I spent so many years out there
Trying to figure out the truth
In party plans and platforms
And that old voting booth
I sought a grand solution
I don't do that anymore
There's just one plank in my platform brother:
I'm for the poor

The bombed and abused who can't take no more
I'm for the poor, yeah, I'm for the poor

Oh the sick and the hungry outside the door
The lost and abandoned, the wracked and the sore
I'm for the poor, yeah, I'm for the poor
One plank in this platform, I'm for the poor
(c) 2011 Chris Floyd

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Republicans: Trillions Could Be Cut from Budget If We Eliminate Empathy
Humanity Also on Chopping Block
By Andy Borowitz

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) -Speaking on behalf of congressional Republicans, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) said today that trillions could be cut from the Federal budget if Congress can agree to eliminate empathy.

"The current budget is bursting at the seams with pet projects that reek of empathy," Rep. Cantor said. "As a nation, we can no longer afford to spend money on people's basic survival needs like a bunch of drunken sailors."

Rep. Cantor noted that "the word ‘empathy' comes from the Greek word ‘pathos,' meaning ‘pathetic' -and that's exactly what helping people is: pathetic."

"We Americans should get out of the habit of using Greek words," he added. "Look where it's gotten the Greeks -straight into bankruptcy."

Once congressional Republicans eliminate such empathy-laden budget items as lunches for poor children, medicine for the indigent and oxygen for seniors, Rep. Cantor said, "We can move from cutting empathy to cutting humanity."

With humanity removed from the budget, he said, "That's where the real savings come in."

By eliminating the food, medicine and oxygen necessary to sustain human life, "We will reduce the single biggest drain on the U.S. economy: people."

Ending on an optimistic note, Rep. Cantor said that by eliminating people, "by the middle of this century the United States will be successfully transformed into one big unmanned Predator drone."

Elsewhere, presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn) today visited historic Monticello, which she called "the home of Jeffrey Dahmer."
(c) 2011 Andy Borowitz

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Issues & Alibis Vol 11 # 27 (c) 07/08/2011

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