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In This Edition

Phil Rockstroh considers the, "Deranged Angels Of Self-Preservation."

Uri Avnery talks of the Zionazis in, "Talking Zionism."

Randall Amster says, "We're All In The Crosshairs."

Gore Vidal shouts, "We Are the Patriots."

Jim Hightower wants to know just, "How Greedy Can Global Bankers Get?"

Ray McGovern reports, "Romney Adds To Iran Tensions."

James Donahue warns, "Monsanto's GM Trees A New Threat To World Ecosystem."

David Swanson remembers, "Harry Truman And Memory Of Mass Murder."

David Sirota investigates, "Fake Olympic Outrage."

William Pfaff examines, "The Syrian Tragedy."

Paul Krugman studies the, "Crash Of The Bumblebee."

Glen Ford explores, "Obama And The Bank Protection Racket."

Robert Reich finds, "The Man Who Invented 'Too Big To Fail' Banks Finally Recants."

Willard (Mitt) Romney wins the coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

John Nichols explains, "What A Dem Platform Endorsement Of Marriage Equality Would Mean."

Adam Keller reviews, "A Not So Special Week."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion reports the, "2012 Election Likely To Be Decided By 4 Or 5 Key Swing Corporations" but first Uncle Ernie sez, "Willard Speaks!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Kirk Walters, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Ruben Bolling, Matthew Staver, Conspiracy Cards.Com, RSH, Mad Magazine.Com, Jacquelyn Martin, Occupy Oakland, Gothic-Twilight.Com, Salon.Com, AP, The New York Times, You Tube.Com and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

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

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

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Willard Speaks!
By Ernest Stewart

"It is sometimes said that those who are the most committed to stopping the Iranian regime from securing nuclear weapons are reckless and provocative and inviting war. The opposite is true. We are the true peacemakers." ~~~ Willard Romney

"We've given all you people need to know and understand about our financial situation and how we live our life." ~~~ Ann Romney

"Police will examine videos of the protests to identify violent protesters and there could be further arrests,." ~~~ Anaheim Police Chief John Welter

Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
I'll never look into your eyes...again
The End ~~~ The Doors

There's been an argument going on between Conservative, Orthodox and Reform Jews fox 74 years over the "state" of Israel. Some say there can't be such a place as the "state" of Israel. They argue that since "god" sent them out of Israel, that only god can bring them back -- and god ain't said a thing in over 2000 years; ergo, the state of Israel cannot exist until he speaks again, and tells them to return.

Well, since last week, god has finally spoken; so that argument should now end! I refer, of course, to the future god, Willard, who said quite clearly that Jerusalem, the capitol of Palestine for the last 2000 years, is the capital from this time forward of Israel; or, at least, I think that was what Willard meant! Our national joke has gone touring, and has been making a total ass of himself everywhere he goes!

First, it was off to England for a dressing down of the English over their Olympics, where he was able to unite all of Briton -- something that hasn't happened since Winnie was Prime Minister during WWII. That oneness, along with Winnie, ended when the war was over; but it's back again thanks to Willard! Willard generated headlines, i.e., "Mitt The Twit." He pissed off the prime minister, the mayor of London, the people of England and the Queen, who was heard to mutter, "We are not amused!" After some serious spinning by Willard's spokesweasel, he was off to Israel.

Willard on Sunday declared Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel and said the United States has "a solemn duty and a moral imperative to block Iran from achieving nuclear weapons capability." I'm not sure what one has to do with the other; but neither does Willard!

"Make no mistake, the Ayatollahs in Iran are testing our moral defenses. They want to know who will object and who will look the other way. We will not look away, nor will our country ever look away from our passion and commitment to Israel!"

Later in a Corpo-rat News Network interview, Willard said, "My understanding is the policy of our nation has been a desire to move our embassy ultimately to the capital (Jerusalem). I would only want to do so and to select the timing in accordance with the government of Israel."

I can't think of anything that would unite all of Islam in a "holy war" against America and Israel more than that -- which is why no country on the planet has its embassy in Jerusalem.

I'm just wondering if Willard will start his tour in Poland with a "Polish Joke?" Nope, this just in: Poland's national joke, Lech Walesa, endorsed Willard for president! I had forgotten that Walesa is a fascist, thanks for reminding me, Lech! Be that as it may, as I keep saying, with Willard or Barry we are Soooooooooooooo Screwed, America. However, when Willard returns, let's take away his passport before he decides to go touring in Russia or China!

In Other News

I see where those good folks over at Anonymous were at it again, this time going after Willard's tax returns. While what was published by Anonymous was only from the IRS, without any of his offshore accounts, it is, never-the-less, quite an eye-opener!

The Anonymous attack successfully gathered 25-years worth of Romney's tax returns and published them on major websites throughout the Internet. The majority of these websites removed the returns within minutes; however, it was too late to completely protect Willard's already-tainted image, as some folks copied them before they disappeared!

Over at Free Wood Post, they were able to explore Romney's 2008 tax return, and found that Willard had good reason to hide them. They say that, "...the 2008 return paints a picture of an extraordinarily wealthy man, whose low tax rate and bizarre itemized deductions will surely raise many questions as to his suitability to be President." Here's a bit more of their report:

Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul stated last week that "there has been no year in which Romney paid zero taxes". In 2008, this was true. He earned $23,425,316 and paid $412.18 in federal income taxes. This calculates to a federal tax rate of 0.0018%. How did Romney get his tax burden so low? According to his return, he had approximately $23,407,000 in itemized deductions. These deductions ranged from $78,923 for "Toupee Creators Unlimited" and $41,826 for "Spray-on tan services" to a $3.8 million dollar write-off for a trip to Las Vegas with potential campaign donors. The Romney family also paid salaries to their numerous employees, including two yacht captains, three pilots for their private jets, two professional dog walkers, one toupee stylist, and a "live-in contortionist." What someone does with a live-in contortionist, one can only speculate. However, the $891,064 Romney spent on an "EWS Donor Party at the Pennsylvania Mansion" might give us a clue. While the return doesn't indicate what "EWS" stands for, given that the deducted supplies for the party included "Venetian masks, alcohol, lubricant, and various Egyptian leather accessories," it was most likely an "Eyes Wide Shut" party.

In addition to his wild nights, Romney also deducted health-related expenses. These included $127,000 for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for a condition termed "Pseudologia fantastica" also known as Compulsive Liar Syndrome. This may explain why the Republican nominee's views seem to change dramatically, depending on his audience. In fact, his recent string of political gaffes may be the direct result of his inability to keep up with the many competing "truths" he has spoken over the past year. According to noted Psychiatrist Bryan King, "Pathological liars seem utterly sincere about their lies; but if confronted with facts to the contrary, will often just as sincerely reverse their story." According to Politifact, a news organization that researches the veracity of politician's statements, only 16% of Romney's examined statements were found to be completely true.

Quite an eye-opener, huh? You see, the uber-wealthy are nothing like you and me, or are they? I mean, we've all had to take deductions for our two yacht captains, three pilots for our private jets, (I know some of you probably have 4 or 5 pilots at your beck and call, right?) two professional dog walkers, one toupee stylist, and a live-in contortionist. I know that hardly a day goes by without me having a good workout with my "private" contortionist. I've always been curious about why "Joe Six-pack" would vote for someone like Willard, who would destroy Joe in a heartbeat if it made him an extra buck. Yes, I know, America has been brainwashed since we hit these shores in 1588, but still! How dumb can you be, America? I guess we'll find out come November!

Trouble is, all this IRS tax return/Anonymous attack is a hoax but it sure sounded real, huh? I'd be willing to bet, that when the truth finally comes out it will be far stranger than this little fable!

And Finally

Meanwhile, back in the "Happiest Place On Earth," riots continue over several recent police shootings (6 this year, so far!) One might actually be a good hit, as according to police (if you can believe the report?), they pulled over a stolen car and the thief jumped out and opened fire on the cops. However, the other one, the shooting in the back of an unarmed man who saw the cops and started to run away, which is often the best course if you're "walking while black," which is a capital offense in most of America. This seemed to really piss off the community -- both black and white. And shooting rubber bullets and bean bags at reporters isn't all that good of an idea, either -- unless you're trying to silence the already-cowed press!

This was bad enough; but when the cops and mayor poo-pooed the peoples' concerns, they gathered to express their first amendment right to peacefully protest. Apparently, the mayor and his police chief John Welter said, this being California and all, that any number of made-up, local ordinances, trump your first amendment rights, and started busting heads and arresting protesters. This then continued for four days, and on the fourth day, the protesters tried to attend an already-packed city council meeting, and those who couldn't get in listened from outside, until about 300 jack-booters showed up, and began kicking ass and taking names; but this time, the people said enough, and it became a full-blown riot, like back in the good old daze of the 60s! The downtown area was all but destroyed. Ya'll remember Watts, Detroit, Newark, and the like?

Now the Feds have stepped in to investigate; and since it was the Feds that instructed all these mayors on how to get rid of first amendment rights in the first place, I rather doubt that justice will be served; don't you?

So you know what I did, don't you? No, let's not see all the same hands... I wrote Mayor Tom Tait a little note:

To Mayor Tom Tait,

Hey Tom,

Boy, did you fuck up, huh? So, how's the program of having your gestapo bust heads and murder unarmed innocents working out for you? You might want to contact Mayor Jean Quan in Oakland and see how that worked out for her? Whatever happen to "To Protect And Serve," Tom? How's this billion dollars worth of bad publicity working out with Disneyland and The Angels? So much for being the happiest place on Earth, huh? You need to reel in your storm troopers, and send a few heads rolling if you want to be reelected.

You were in this week's running for the Vidkun Quisling Award, but the board of governors voted for Willard Romney instead! Maybe next week?

Ernest Stewart
Managing editor
Issues & Alibis Magazine

As always if I get a reply I'll share it with you!

PS. They replied to say they would reply in ten days time! I think that came from their department of redundancy, department?

Keepin' On

Things are not looking good; it seems we are no longer an important factor in your life, and my daily tilting at windmills is coming to an end. No bread in the cupboard, and time is quickly running out. I'm beginning to feel like I'm trapped in one of those turn-of-the-20th century, one-act plays. You know, the ones between little Nell and some Snidely Whiplash-looking character. "I can't pay the rent. You must pay the rent. But I can't pay the rent. You must pay the rent, or I'll tie you to a railroad track!"

It is at this juncture that the play's handsome, young hero appears and says. "I'll pay the rent!" To which the villain pulls on his moustache, and says, "Curses, foiled again!" and skulks off! And they all live happily ever after. The End. I'm wondering where our handsome, young hero is? I'd happily settle for an ugly old crone, or anyone in between, to keep us going for another year.

If you'd like to be our hero, and earn some Karma points, just go to this address, and follow the instructions. If on the eleventh, when next I get to the p.o. box (as my week-end transport will be gone for a week), I will have 4 days to send in the payment, or cease publication. So, a little help ya'll!??!


04-17-1917 ~ 07-27-2012
Thanks for the films!

09-13-1924 ~ 07-27-2012
Thanks for the films!

09-20-1940 ~ 07-30-2012
Thanks for the films!

10-03-1925 ~ 07-31-2012
Thanks for the thoughts!


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) 2012 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for the last 11 years managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Face Book. Follow me on Twitter.

Deranged Angels Of Self-Preservation
Second Amendment fetishism and the empty grandiosity of Hollywood's comic book boilerplate.
By Phil Rockstroh

In the contest between Stupid and Evil, Stupid reaps far more destruction. Why? Stupid prevails by the sheer force of numbers in its ranks.

But the argument is moot: Because all too often Stupid is working for Evil...believing it is serving as a force for good...and, I might add, for degrading wages as well.

German born filmmaker, Leni Riefenstahl (1902-2003) insisted to her dying breath that her 1936 masterwork of visual bravura, "Olympia," documenting the 1936 Summer Olympics, held in Berlin, Germany, and funded and promoted by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi state, was not a political film nor was intended as propaganda for the Third writer/director Christopher Nolan is claiming his "The Dark Knight Rises" is not a political movie.

Yet, for some reason, the villains of the movie just happen to resemble the febrile stuff of right-wing delusion regarding Occupy Wall Street activists, and the beleaguered victims of the movie's vengeance-seeking, blood-drunk rabble's reign of mindless terror happen to resemble the denizens of the One Percent.

But we are told to relax... ruminate on a jumbo bucket of popcorn and suck down the high-fructose soda of our choice...We should allow our limbic system to ascend to the throne room of consciousness... to simply let the spectacle pull us along, as in a trip through a high-tech funhouse.

Historically, a component of fascism has been the visceral appeal of mass spectacle -- the drowning of the burdens of Industrial Age selfhood into an intoxicating immersion in the anonymity of the mob. Another aspect is the promotion of shadow projection i.e., the attempt to lessen inner conflict and shame involving dark-tinged, hidden emotions and yearnings by projecting those traits on outside groups e.g., the political use of racism to displace class-based resentment; the caricatures created to demonize the enemy, appropriated by governments and promulgated in popular culture to mobilize support for war.

In "The Dark Knight Rises," Nolan (perhaps unconsciously...he doesn't seem all that bright and self-aware) deploys the psychological trope of shadow projection by portraying members of an Occupy Wall Street-type popular insurgency as boilerplate, comic book villains who rise from the city's underbelly, compelled by murderous grievances, to inflict a reign of chaos, reminiscent of Terror-gripped, late 18th Century/ early 19th Century France, on the city's economic elite.

What is the writer/director getting at here? Whether Nolan is aware of it or not, he has made a fascist epic. Batman, from its inception was always a hyper-authoritarian myth. Comic Books, at their inception and rise during the Great Depression of the 1930s, reflected a middle/upper class unease regarding those popular heroes of the disaffected laboring class such as Pretty Boy Floyd and John Dillinger. Woody Guthrie's take on song writing is germane to the subject of movies as well. Woody averred: All songs are political.

...the 2nd Amendment is not the word of God writ large across the eternal heavens. It is an archaic notion of a past, rural/agrarian era, and crafted by an assembly of land-holding, powdered wig-clad aristocrats.

Hollywood movies are suffused with capitalist false consciousness? And how could they not be? The "successful" members of the entertainment "business" have done quite well by the system, thus have been bestowed with all the privileges of the One Percent.

Moreover, certain self-appointed arbiters of good taste and social propriety have posited the canard that the recent madman-inflicted, firearm-wrought tragedy at an Aurora, Colorado cinema exhibiting Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises should not be politicized. Nonsense. The assertion, in itself, is political, for it is a (tacit) admonition to refrain from challenging the status quo -- and the status quo of U.S. gun culture comes down to this: blood-drenched shooting spree followed by blood-drenched shooting spree.

Withal, the 2nd Amendment is not the word of God writ large across the eternal heavens. It is an archaic notion of a past, rural/agrarian era, and crafted by an assembly of land-holding, powdered wig-clad aristocrats.

Does the uncertainty of these times and the fading of cherished concepts evoke feelings of unease within you? Then how about trying this? Quit stroking your guns and hyperventilating over the depleted embers of dying delusion: Get over the hagiography of this sham democratic republic, and begin to re-imagine and remake the world anew.

Regarding all the bombast and braggadocio of rightist 2nd Amendment true believers, who claim that guns are the last, best hope to stand against government tyranny: Where were these sentinels of freedom when the operatives and enforcers of the U.S. national security/police state brought its brutality down on peaceful Occupy Wall Street dissidents.

Neither they nor the vast majority of people in the U.S. possess any concept of -- nor do they give a rodent's rectum about freedom.

Because the fledgling nation's solution to what they termed the "Indian problem" was addressed by the use of firearms, the habit of viewing and deploying guns as a solution to societal ills has bequeathed a violent, blood-sodden legacy upon the culture.

To all you compulsive gun-strokers -- heirs of the hateful legacy of your genocidal ancestors -- I ask you this -- how do you like existing under dismal, degraded conditions such as these?

Seemingly, from their graves, my Native American ancestors -- my late father was born of half native descent -- have cursed you. But the grim truth is, on a collective basis, through our acceptance of a toxic cultural mythos, the people of this nation have conjured this curse, and have, by their clinging to death-besotted attitudes and attendant actions, seeded the winds of fate.

Regarding gun violence in the U.S., the situation is very simple. The 2nd Amendment is not only antiquated, but is an outright menace to public good. Nations that do not fetishize guns, and have said fetish codified into law and imprinted into the public's imagination are not afflicted by any degree of violent gun deaths.

Although its origins and workings seem to us mysterious and evanescent, evil remains proliferate because our traumatized psyches see it as a force of good. Evil is a deranged angel of self-preservation, convinced his wicked machinations and destructive fury are bulwarks against outside forces aligned to bear his doom.

"A man who is unconscious of himself acts in a blind, instinctive way and is in addition fooled by all the illusions that arise when he sees everything that he is not conscious of in himself coming to meet him from outside as projections upon his neighbor." -- Carl Jung: "The Philosophical Tree" (1945)

To those firearm apologists who proffer the assertion that one should not blame guns for the acts of madmen... let me ask you this? There are unstable individuals residing all over the world, and have throughout every era, what is it about the U.S. that engenders a social milieu wherein so many unhinged individuals go on murderous rampages, and why is the death toll so high therein? The startlingly obvious answer: The easy availability of firearms and a toxic mythos surrounding these weapons that promotes their ownership and drowns out reasoned discourse on the subject.

Restricting the manufacture, thus profit motive, of firearms is a must... to keep them out of the hands of criminals, psychopaths, and idiots, and that includes the cops.

The problem of evil would be more easily remedied if evil people saw themselves as evil. But evil does not arrive in the form of a new computer application (Irredeemable Wickedness, version 13.13) that foul-minded types can download into their psyches.

Evil creeps up on you when you're going about the mundane business of the day.

Will we, as a people -- inculcated by cultural mythos and saturated by shallow, sensationalist mass media narratives -- learn anything about the hideous, tragic nature of non-virtual reality violence from this latest in a long series of gun-wrought mass murder?

In grim contrast to comic book-based, movie-style, violence porn, these repeated incidents of gun violence displayed for us the effects of actual violence. These events should serve as object lessons in the consequences of having large segments of a population, stressed to the point of collective madness and dwelling in a nation that, culturally, evinces demonstrably psychotic attitudes regarding firearms.

Gun-clutching pathology -- and sorry, people, that is exactly what it is -- is engendered by emotionally displaced feelings of powerlessness. The ridiculous number of guns, combined with racism and wealth inequity, in this deeply troubled nation, contributes to the endless number of firearm-related tragedies that nations that have sane gun laws -- meaning tight restrictions -- don't suffer.

You boys and girls can swoon in all the hyper-macho, retrograde, Sarah Palin-level, 2nd Amendment-conflating fantasies that your besieged minds can conjure -- but it will not change the reality that it is the people of this country's sacred illusions and attendant fetishizing of guns that makes worse the very situation of which they live in fear. What a waste of human life and mental real estate.

Accordingly, the work of Hollywood artificers, such as Christopher Nolan, reflects collective pathologies at large in the culture.

All too many big budget, Hollywood action movies, epic in scale and one dimensional in content, are saturated with the empty grandiosity of fascist thought. Carl Jung noted that evil generally comes with an aura of emotional detached coldness. Apropos: The shop-worn device of the super-villain is fascist conceit -- a projection of the coldness and overkill of the U.S. police state/militarist empire on imaginary villains.

Evidently, Nolan has internalized the fascist inclinations inherent to late stage capitalism. His cinematic images are over-wrought, yet cold -- a fascist paradox that are catnip to troubled personalities, such as James Holmes, whose inner torments and concomitant actions mirror the collective nature of this violence-worshipping culture.

Only a society as violently (and, I fear, irredeemably) bughouse crazy as the one extant in the U.S. would arrive at the assertion that an individual who carried out a deadly shooting rampage in a packed movie theatre could be feigning madness, or, in the words of a corporate press headline, "James Holmes' behavior sign of psychosis or faking it, expert says."
(c) 2012 Phil Rockstroh, is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City. Visit Phil's website, and at FaceBook.

Talking Zionism
By Uri Avnery

"HE TALKS Zionism," used to be a very derogatory comment when I was young. It meant that some elderly functionary had come to waste our time with a boring speech consisting largely of empty phrases.

That was before the foundation of the State of Israel. Since then, the term Zionism has been elevated to the status of a state ideology, if not state religion. Everything the state does is justified by the use of this word. Some would say that Zionism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.

When I visited Prague for the first time, right after the fall of the Communist regime, I was shown a hotel of incredible luxury -chandeliers from France, marble from Italy, rugs from Persia, the lot. I had never seen anything like it before. I was told that the place -or palace -had been reserved for the communist elite.

It's then and there that I understood the essence of a state ideology. Communist regimes were founded by idealists, imbued with humanist values. They ended as mafia states, in which a corrupt clique of cynics used the communist ideology as justification for privilege, oppression and exploitation.

I don't like state ideologies. States should not foster ideologies.

THE ONLY people who have an official confirmation that they are sane are those who have been released from psychiatric hospitals. In a similar way, I may be the only person in Israel who has an official confirmation that he is not an anti-Zionist.

It happened this way: when my friends and I founded the Israeli Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace in 1975, a right-wing organ called us "anti-Zionists". I didn't give a damn, but my co-founders insisted on suing them for libel.

Since I had published a book entitled "Israel Without Zionists" a few years earlier, I was called by the defendants as their star witness. They grilled me for many hours on the witness stand on what I meant by this title. In the end the judge asked me to define my attitude towards Zionism in simple words. On the spur of the moment I coined a new term: "Post-Zionism."

Since then, the term has been expropriated as a synonym for anti-Zionism. But I used it quite literally. As I explained to the judge, my position is that Zionism was a historical movement with its glorious achievements as well as its darker side. One can admire or condemn it, but either way Zionism has come to its logical end with the creation of the State of Israel. Zionism was the scaffolding that made the building of the state possible, but once the house is built, the scaffolding becomes a hindrance and must be removed.

So the judge decided that I am not an anti-Zionist. She ordered the defendants to pay us hefty compensation, which helped us to finance our activities.

I still adhere to that definition.

NOWADAYS, WHEN the term Zionism is used in Israel, it can mean many different things.

For ordinary Jewish Israelis, it means not much more than Israeli patriotism, combined with the dogma that Israel is a "Jewish State", or the "State of the Jewish People". These definitions, by themselves, allow for many different interpretations. For the legendary "man or woman in the street" it means that the Jews around the world are a "people", and that Israel "belongs" to this people, though Jews have no rights in Israel unless they come here and receive citizenship. Of course, the Jews around the world have never been asked to decide whether Israel is their state or not.

From this point on, the definitions go in many different directions.

At the beginning, the dominant Zionist color was red (or at least pink). The Zionist dream was coupled with socialism (not necessarily of the Marxist kind), a movement that built the pre-state Jewish society in Palestine, the all-powerful trade union organization, the kibbutz and much more.

For religious Zionists (unlike the anti-Zionist Orthodox), Zionism was the forerunner of the Messiah, who would surely come if only all of us observed the shabbat. Religious Zionists want Israel to become a state governed by the Halakha, much as Islamists want their states to be governed by the Sharia.

Right-wing Zionists want Zionism to mean a Jewish state in all of historical Palestine, in their parlance "the Whole of Eretz Israel", with as few non-Jewish inhabitants as possible. This can easily be coupled with religious, and even messianic visions. God Wills It, as He has told them in confidence.

Theodor Herzl, the founder, wanted a liberal, secular state. Martin Buber, the outstanding humanist, called himself a Zionist. So did Albert Einstein. Vladimir Jabotinsky, the idol of right-wing Zionists, believed in a mixture of extreme nationalism, liberalism, capitalism and humanism. Rabbi Meir Kahane, an outright Fascist, was a Zionist. So, of course, are the settlers.

Many fanatical anti-Zionists around the world, including Jewish ones, would like to see Zionism as one monolith, so as to make it easier to hate. So, for the sake of love, do many lovers of Zion, most of whom would not dream of coming and living here.

Altogether, a rather bizarre picture.

TODAY, ZIONISM is firmly in the hands of the extreme Right, a mixture of nationalists, religious fanatics and the settlers, supported by very rich Jews in Israel and outside.

They govern the news, both directly (they own all the TV networks and the newspapers) and metaphorically. Every day, the news contains many items figuring "Zionism."

For Zionism's sake, Bedouin in Israel-proper are forcibly displaced from the large stretches of land they have occupied for centuries. For Zionism's sake, a settler's college deep in the occupied territories is accorded the status of "university" (by the military governor!), giving new impetus to the international academic boycott on Israel. Hundreds of new buildings in the settlements are being built on private Palestinian land in the name of Zionism. In Ramallah, the capital of the Palestinian authority, Israeli troops hunt for Africans without an Israeli immigration permit. Indeed, our Interior Minister, whose only passion seems to be hunting African job-seekers, uses the word Zionism in almost every sentence.

In the name of Zionism, our fanatically right-wing Minister of Education is sending Israeli school children on indoctrination trips to "holy places" in the occupied territory, so as to instill in their consciousness from early on that all the country belongs to them. To strengthen their Zionist convictions they are also sent to Auschwitz. The settlers claim -not without some justification -that they are the only real Zionists, the rightful heirs of 130 years of Zionist settlement and expansion. This gives them the right to receive huge piles of state funds for their activities, while new taxes are being levied on even the poorest of the poor in Israel, such as another one-percent raise of VAT.

The Jewish Agency, an offshoot of the World Zionist Organization, is devoting almost all its resources to the settlements.

There is no faction in the Knesset (except the two small Arab factions and the predominantly Arab communist faction) that does not loudly proclaim its total devotion to Zionism. Indeed, the Zionist Left claims to be truer Zionists than the Right.

WHERE IS all this leading? Ah, there is the rub.

The current staunchly Zionist policy of the State of Israel contains an inherent paradox. It leads to self-destruction.

The policy of our government is based on maintaining the status quo. All of historical Eretz Israel/Palestine under Israeli rule, the West Bank in a state of occupation, its Palestinian inhabitants without national or civil rights.

If, at some point in the future, a right-wing government decides to annex the West Bank and the Gaza Strip "officially" (as Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan Heights were annexed long ago -unrecognized by the rest of the world -it will not make any real difference. Most Palestinians are already confined to enclaves resembling the South African Bantustans of bygone days.

In this Greater Israel, Palestinian Arabs will constitute a minority of at least 40%, growing rapidly to 50% and more, making it less and less convincing to call it a "Jewish State". The "Jewish and Democratic State" will be a thing of the past.

Of course, practically nobody in Israel would dream of according the Arab inhabitants of Greater Israel citizenship and democratic rights. If, perhaps by divine intervention, this were to come about, it would no longer be a "Jewish State". It would be an "Arab Palestinian state."

The only way out would be ethnic cleansing on a huge scale. Some of this is already happening discretely in remote areas. For some time now, in the most remote area of the West Bank, on the edge of the desert south of Hebron, the occupation authorities have been trying to remove the entire Arab population. This week, the Minister of Defense, Ehud Barak, declared the area a "military firing zone" that must be immediately evacuated. People who remain there risk being shot. Agriculturists may return and work on their land, but only on Shabbat and Jewish holidays, when the army is on leave. Zionism in action.

Currently, some five million Palestinians and six million Jews live between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. The ethnic cleansing of the country is highly improbable, to say the least. Far more likely is the reality of an apartheid state, in which Jews will soon be a minority. That is not a reality envisioned by the Zionist founding fathers.

The only alternative is peace -Palestine and Israel, side by side. But that is called "post-Zionism", God forbid.

Our leaders escape this reality by a simple device: they don't think about it. They don't talk about it. They prefer to "talk Zionism" -a string of empty phrases.

But sometime in the future the contradictions of Zionism will have to be faced.
(c) 2012 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Astinate Unga, 18, at a vigil for Alexander Boik,
who was killed in the movie theater shooting, at
Gateway High School in Aurora, Colorado, July 21, 2012.

We're All In The Crosshairs
By Randall Amster

Once again, events conspire to remind us how fragile is our existence and how vulnerable we really are. A young man whose goal in life might have been "helping others" winds up hunting them instead, ruthlessly mowing them down in a bizarre public spectacle in which it is not life but rather death that mirrors art. Chillingly, a neighbor describes the gunman as a "typical American kid" who "kept to himself [and] didn't seem to have many friends." In the postmortem analysis, fingers will be pointed and political positions staked, but the essential issues will again likely go unaddressed as we forge ahead to the next reel in the film, without noticing that the entire narrative itself is deadening by its very nature.

There are no "good guys" or "bad guys" in this veritable societal shooting gallery that places all of us in the crosshairs. Some people simply break, while some seek to break others, but both are responses to a society that places alienation, dependency, and casual brutality at its cultural core. We might blame a specific organ when it contracts cancer or treat the disease like an individual pathology, all the while neglecting to address the obvious socio-environmental roots of the condition. To do the latter would require us to ask hard questions about the society we have created, the one we participate in and benefit from -yet if we do not, the issue will likely soon become moot as the patient expires.

We simply cannot continue to sow the seeds of a "culture of violence" any longer. The almost daily explosion of some disaffected soul, leading to the decimation of others in public and private spaces alike, is too demonstrable to be dismissed as the result of a few "bad apples" or faulty parts somehow working in isolation from the whole. The mass-shooting phenomenon that happens routinely in the United States is part and parcel of a society that legitimizes force, individualizes burdens, medicalizes despondency, and demonizes dissent. In such a system, many feel utterly trapped in their isolation and powerless to change it -and some will accordingly act out their desperation in horrifying ways.

To how many violent images is a typical American child exposed? How many marketing campaigns exploit feelings of diminished self-worth and alienation? How many valorizations of the heroic use of force are put before our eyes on a daily basis? How many trespasses and forms of disempowerment do we suffer in our lives, from the exploitation of our labor to the mind-numbing attributes of mass media? How many toxins and other alterants infuse our food supply and infest the larger environment? In how many ways are we made to accept dehumanization in our economic arrangements, as we inhabit a world in which everything is for sale and anything (including absolution) can be bought for a price?

The connections are obvious, so much so that we oftentimes cannot see them. This is an anti-life society at nearly every turn, and any rhetorical claims to being politically "pro-life" are utterly nonsensical. What is worse is that the U.S. is rapidly exporting this macabre model (by finance, fiat, or force), creating a globalized monoculture where commodities supplant communities and people are relegated behind profits. Meanwhile, a relatively small cadre of global elites greedily sucks out the life of this world, co-opting its powers for themselves while giving the rest of us either abject poverty or an illusion of prosperity that masks the reality of its inherent cruelty.

Still, despite the proliferation of corporate fortresses and military bases, the edifice of skewed power and privilege is as fragile as we all are, perhaps even more so in some ways. To wit, if it was not fragile it wouldn't require so much brute force to sustain it; indeed, the weaker something is, the more force it necessitates. Counter to the dominant security narrative, a more apt solution would be to embrace our innate fragility, to recognize and validate our vulnerability, and to stop collaborating with the pretense that we modern humans are some immutable force of nature whose cleverness will ultimately ensure our survival and sustainability.

Nothing is guaranteed -not military might, not reified power, not homeland security. Not even a midnight movie in the suburbs. And perhaps in this realization we can begin a new era of authentic engagement that takes nothing and no one for granted, one that prioritizes systemic health and individual potential equally, and that moves us from the lethal rigidity of a society built for the powerful toward one designed for the abundant fragility of actual human beings.

If blood will flow when flesh and steel are one
Drying in the color of the evening sun
Tomorrow's rain will wash the stains away
But something in our minds will always stay
Perhaps this final act was meant
To clinch a lifetime's argument
That nothing comes from violence and nothing ever could
For all those born beneath an angry star
Lest we forget how fragile we are
Fragile ~~~ Sting

(c) 2012 Randall Amster J.D., Ph.D., teaches peace studies at Prescott College and serves as the executive director of the Peace & Justice Studies Association. Amonsg his most recent books are Anarchism Today (Praeger, 2012) and the co-edited volume "Building Cultures of Peace: Transdisciplinary Voices of Hope and Action" (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009).

We Are the Patriots
By Gore Vidal

The following essay appeared in the June 2, 2003 edition of The Nation magazine.

I belong to a minority that is now one of the smallest in the country and, with every day, grows smaller. I am a veteran of World War II. And I can recall thinking, when I got out of the Army in 1946, Well, that's that. We won. And those who come after us will never need do this again. Then came the two mad wars of imperial vanity--Korea and Vietnam. They were bitter for us, not to mention for the so-called enemy. Next we were enrolled in a perpetual war against what seemed to be the enemy-of-the-month club. This war kept major revenues going to military procurement and secret police, while withholding money from us, the taxpayers, with our petty concerns for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

But no matter how corrupt our system became over the last century--and I lived through three-quarters of it--we still held on to the Constitution and, above all, to the Bill of Rights. No matter how bad things got, I never once believed that I would see a great part of the nation--of we the people, unconsulted and unrepresented in a matter of war and peace--demonstrating in such numbers against an arbitrary and secret government, preparing and conducting wars for us, or at least for an army recruited from the unemployed to fight in. Sensibly, they now leave much of the fighting to the uneducated, to the excluded.

During Vietnam Bush fled to the Texas Air National Guard. Cheney, when asked why he avoided service in Vietnam, replied, "I had other priorities." Well, so did 12 million of us sixty years ago. Priorities that 290,000 were never able to fulfill.

So who's to blame? Us? Them? Well, we can safely blame certain oil and gas hustlers who have effectively hijacked the government from presidency to Congress to, most ominously, the judiciary. How did they do it? Curiously, the means have always been there. It took the higher greed and other interests to make this coup d'état work.

It was Benjamin Franklin, of all people, who saw our future most clearly back in 1787, when, as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention at Philadelphia, he read for the first time the proposed Constitution. He was old; he was dying; he was not well enough to speak but he had prepared a text that a friend read. It is so dark a statement that most school history books omit his key words.

Franklin urged the convention to accept the Constitution despite what he took to be its great faults, because it might, he said, provide good government in the short term. "There is no form of government but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered, and I believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in Despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other." Think of Enron, Merrill Lynch, etc., of chads and butterfly ballots, of Scalia's son arguing before his unrecused father at the Supreme Court while unrecused Thomas sits silently by, his wife already at work for the approaching Bush Administration. Think, finally, of the electoral college, a piece of dubious, antidemocratic machinery that Franklin doubtless saw as a source of deepest corruption and subsequent mischief for the Republic, as happened not only in 1876 but in 2000.

Franklin's prophecy came true in December 2000, when the Supreme Court bulldozed its way through the Constitution in order to select as its President the loser in the election of that year. Despotism is now securely in the saddle. The old Republic is a shadow of itself, and we now stand in the glare of a nuclear world empire with a government that sees as its true enemy "we the people," deprived of our electoral franchise. War is the usual aim of despots, and serial warfare is what we are going to get unless--with help from well-wishers in new old Europe and from ourselves, awake at last--we can persuade this peculiar Administration that they are acting entirely on their vicious own, and against all our history.

The other night on CNN I brought the admirable Aaron Brown to a full stop, not, this time, with Franklin but with John Quincy Adams, who said in 1821, on the subject of our fighting to liberate Greece from Turkey, the United States "goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy." If the United States took up all foreign affairs, "she might become the dictatress of the world. She would no longer be the ruler of her own spirit," her own soul.

Should we be allowed in 2004 to hold a presidential election here in the homeland, I suspect we shall realize that the only regime change that need concern our regained spirit--or soul--is in Washington.

President Adams is long since dead. And we have now been in the empire business since 1898: We had promised to give the Filipinos their independence from Spain. Then we changed our mind, killing some 200,000 of them in the process of Americanizing them.

A few years ago there was a significant exchange between then-General Colin Powell and then-statesperson Madeleine Albright. Like so many civilians, she was eager to use our troops against our enemies: What's the point of having all this military and not using it? He said, They are not toy soldiers. But in the interest of fighting Communism for so long, we did spend trillions of dollars, until we are now in danger of sinking beneath the weight of so much weaponry.

Therefore, I suppose it was inevitable that, sooner or later, a new generation would get the bright idea, Why not stop fooling around with diplomacy and treaties and coalitions and just use our military power to give orders to the rest of the world? A year or two ago, a pair of neoconservatives put forward this exact notion. I responded--in print--that if we did so, we would have perpetual war for perpetual peace. Which is not good for business. Then the Cheney-Bush junta seized power. Although primarily interested in oil reserves, they liked the idea of playing soldiers too.

Last September Congress received from the Administration a document called the National Security Strategy of the United States. As the historian Joseph Stromberg observed, "It must be read to be believed." The doctrine preaches the desirability of the United States becoming--to use Adams's words--dictatress of the world. It also assumes that the President and his lieutenants are morally entitled to govern the planet. It declares that our "best defense is a good offense." The doctrine of pre-emption is next declared: "As a matter of common sense and self-defense, America will act against such emerging threats before they are fully formed." Doubtless, General Ashcroft is now in Utah arresting every Mormon male before he can kidnap eight young girls for potential wives.

Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution says that only Congress can declare war. But Congress surrendered that great power to the President in 1950 and has never taken it back.

As former Senator Alan Simpson said so cheerily on TV the other evening, "The Commander in Chief of the military will decide what the cause is. It won't be the American people." So in great matters we are not guided by law but by faith in the President, whose powerful Christian beliefs preach that "faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

In response to things not seen, the USA Patriot Act was rushed through Congress and signed forty-five days after 9/11. We are expected to believe that its carefully crafted 342 pages were written in that short time. Actually, it reads like a continuation of Clinton's post-Oklahoma City antiterrorist act. The Patriot Act makes it possible for government agents to break into anyone's home when they are away, conduct a search and keep the citizen indefinitely from finding out that a warrant was issued. They can oblige librarians to tell them what books anyone has withdrawn. If the librarian refuses, he or she can be criminally charged. They can also collect your credit reports and other sensitive information without judicial approval or the citizen's consent.

Finally, all this unconstitutional activity need not have the slightest connection with terrorism. Early in February, the Justice Department leaked Patriot Act II, known as the Domestic Security Enhancement Act, dated January 9, 2003. A Congress that did not properly debate the first act will doubtless be steamrolled by this lawless expansion.

Some provisions: If an American citizen has been accused of supporting an organization labeled as terrorist by the government, he can be deprived of his citizenship even if he had no idea the organization had a link to terrorists. Provision in Act II is also made for more searches and wiretaps without warrant as well as secret arrests (Section 201). In case a citizen tries to fight back in order to retain the citizenship he or she was born with, those federal agents who conduct illegal surveillance with the blessing of high Administration officials are immune from legal action. A native-born American deprived of citizenship would, presumably, be deported, just as, today, a foreign-born person can be deported. Also, according to a recent ruling of a federal court, this new power of the Attorney General is not susceptible to judicial review. Since the American who has had his citizenship taken away cannot, of course, get a passport, the thoughtful devisers of Domestic Security Enhancement authorize the Attorney General to deport him "to any country or region regardless of whether the country or region has a government." Difficult cases with no possible place to go can be held indefinitely.

Where under Patriot Act I only foreigners were denied due process of law as well as subject to arbitrary deportation, Patriot Act II now includes American citizens in the same category, thus eliminating in one great erasure the Bill of Rights.

Our greatest historian, Charles Beard, wrote in 1939:

The destiny of Europe and Asia has not been committed, under God, to the keeping of the United States; and only conceit, dreams of grandeur, vain imaginings, lust for power, or a desire to escape from our domestic perils and obligations could possibly make us suppose that Providence has appointed us his chosen people for the pacification of the earth. Those Americans who refuse to plunge blindly into the maelstrom of European and Asiatic politics are not defeatist or neurotic. They are giving evidence of sanity, not cowardice, of adult thinking as distinguished from infantilism. They intend to preserve and defend the Republic. America is not to be Rome or Britain. It is to be America.
(c) 2003/2012 Gore Vidal

How Greedy Can Global Bankers Get?

I, for one, am tired of hearing complaints that our giant, bailed-out banks have simply taken the money and run, giving nothing back to society.

That's why I'm so pleased that a new economic analysis from English tax experts has put the lie to this canard. Their study reveals that Barclays, Citibank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, JPMorgan Chase, and other rescued giants have, in fact, been phenomenally helpful to many people in deep need. In particular, during 2010 alone, such bankers helped people move at least $21 trillion in wealth from the U.S. and other nations into tax havens like the Cayman Islands. Yes, these compassionate bankers created a handy financial channel so folks like us can dodge our tax bills.

What? You say you don't have an offshore bank account and that this is just another scam for the superrich? Well, now, that's your problem -it's not the bankers' fault that you lack the wealth to qualify for their benevolent assistance.

Good grief, the malevolence of these bankers is unfathomable. First, their greed destroyed the jobs and middle-class dreams of millions of workaday people. Then, we had to bail them out, while we were forced to take more cuts in wages, thus plunging millions into poverty. And they repay us... how? By foreclosing on our homes, secretly jacking up our interest rates, laundering money for terrorists, and helping the shameless uber-wealthy hide trillions of dollars in the black holes of offshore accounts to escape paying the taxes they owe to America -money desperately needed to rebuild the middle class.

These soulless scoundrels would steal the nickels off a dead man's eyes -and their avaricious abuse is pushing people to the point of parading guillotines down Wall Street. To see the full report on their tax-dodging scam, go to
(c) 2012 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.

Romney Adds To Iran Tensions
By Ray McGovern

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's strong pro-Israel statements over the weekend, including his endorsement of Jerusalem as Israel's capital (a reversal of long-standing U.S. policy), increases the pressure on President Barack Obama to prove that he is an equally strong backer of Israel.

The key question is whether Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak will interpret the presidential campaign rhetoric as an open invitation to provoke hostilities with Iran, in the expectation that President Obama will feel forced to jump in with both feet in support of our "ally" Israel. (Since there is no mutual defense treaty between the U.S. and Israel, "ally" actually is a misnomer — at least in a juridical sense.)

As we saw 10 years ago with respect to Iraq, if one intends to whip up support for war, one needs to find a casus belli — however thin a pretext it might be. How about juxtaposing "weapons of mass destruction" with terrorism. That worked to prepare for war on Iraq, and similar rhetorical groundwork for an attack on Iran is now being laid in Israel.

Mr. Netanyahu broke all records for speed in blaming Iran and Hezbollah for the recent terrorist attack that killed five Israelis in Burgas, Bulgaria, and in vowing that "Israel will react powerfully against Iranian terror." But what is the evidence on Iranian or Hezbollah involvement? Bulgarian officials keep saying they have no such evidence. More surprising still, government officials in Washington and elsewhere keep warning against jumping to conclusions.

So far the "evidence" against Iran consists primarily of trust-me assertions by Mr. Netanyahu. On Fox News Sunday on July 22, Mr. Netanyahu claimed Israel has "rock-solid evidence" tying Iran to the attack in Bulgaria. The same day on CBS's Face the Nation, Mr. Netanyahu said, "We have unquestionable, fully substantiated intelligence that this [terrorist attack] was done by Hezbollah backed by Iran," adding that Israel gives "specific details to ... responsible governments and agencies."

Did the Israelis somehow forget to give "specific details" to Bulgarian and U.S. officials?

At a joint news conference with White House counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan in Sofia early last week, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov admitted that he was aware of no information concerning the terrorist or those who dispatched him. Mr. Brennan's July 25 talks with top Israeli officials, it appears, were similarly unproductive. According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz on July 26: "A week after the Burgas attacks, Israeli, Bulgarian, and U.S. [officials] still have no leads regarding the identity of the suicide bomber."

These events took place against an historical backdrop pregnant with relevance. July 23 was the 10th anniversary of a meeting at 10 Downing Street, at which the head of British intelligence casually revealed the fraudulent origins of the coming attack on Iraq. The official minutes of that meeting were leaked to London's Sunday Times, which ran them on its front page May 1, 2005. No one has disputed their authenticity.

This is how the minutes record the core of the briefing by Sir Richard Dearlove, the British intelligence chief, who had just conferred with his U.S. counterpart, George Tenet, at CIA headquarters on July 20, 2002, on what was in store for Iraq:

"Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD [weapons of mass destruction]. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

The "fixing" of intelligence is bad enough. But note Mr. Dearlove's explanation that war with Iraq was to be "justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD." Translation: We will claim Saddam has weapons of mass destruction and that he might well give them to terrorists — unless he is stopped forthwith. Mr. Netanyahu is now taking the same line on Iran.

On Face the Nation on July 22, he pointedly asked: "Just imagine what the consequences would be if these people [terrorists] and this regime [Iran] got a hold of nuclear weapons. ... [We need to] make sure that the world's most dangerous regime doesn't get the world's most dangerous weapons."

Never mind the elusive evidence on the perpetrators of the attack in Bulgaria. Never mind that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta posed the direct question to himself on Face the Nation on Jan. 8 and then answered it: "Are they [the Iranians] trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No." Never mind that 10 days later Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said essentially the same thing during an interview on Israeli Army Radio.

The likelihood of hostilities with Iran before the presidential election in November is increasing. Beware of "fixed" intelligence.
(c) 2012 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.

Monsanto's GM Trees A New Threat To World Ecosystem
By James Donahue

Activists for New Zealand's STOP GE Trees Campaign were blamed for the recent destruction of 375 radiata pines at the Scion forestry research institute. Authorities said people cut through an outer perimeter fence and burrowed under an inner security barrier before cutting down or pulling the young saplings up by the roots.

Without admitted blame, GJEP's executive director Anne Petermann noted the "extreme security" at the Scion site. She told the media that "It is clear that Scion is aware of the powerful public opposition to genetically engineered trees. People understand the inherent ecological, social and health risks associated with genetically engineered trees. If the government won't stop them, this action shows that people are prepared to take matters into their own hands."

While it received almost no attention by the U.S. media, the incident on the other side of the world brought to light the field testing of genetically modified trees being conducted by ArborGen, a spin-off of Monsanto Corporation, that has been going on in New Zealand since 2006. Now genetically modified trees engineered in New Zealand are being "field tested" in the United States.

The federal government has approved the planting of 200,000 GM eucalyptus trees in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina. Several environmental groups including the Sierra Club and Center for Biological Diversity, have filed suit to overturn the approval.

The lawsuit charges that ArborGen was given approval for test planting at secret locations without environmental impact studies. The suit expresses concern that the modified trees will flower and seed and become an invasive species, not only driving out the natural eucalyptus but cross breeding with other species of trees, thus upsetting the natural balance of the forests.

Some tree pollen has been found to travel as far as 600 miles.

Peterman warned in a statement to Food Freedom Group that some of Monsanto's modified trees contain the controversial Bt toxin, found in Monsanto GM corn. Placing such trees in a forest "could be a tremendous threat to forest ecosystem soils in which beneficial fungi are a key component of the forest," she said.

"Genetically engineered trees are the greatest threat to the world's remaining forests since the invention of the chainsaw,"

Peterman said. Opponents to trees modified to contain the Bt toxin, an insect poison, argue that such a forest would wipe out the already declining creatures that pollinate. These would include the bees, moths, butterflies and bats. The toxins would get in the branches and leaves that fall to the earth to become mulch, thus attacking the worms, fungi and other insects that live there.

One critic wrote that "It would be a silent forest, a killing forest, an alien forest" if such trees are allowed.

In spite of resistance to genetically modified seed and plants, especially in Europe, the contamination has spread around the globe, according to GM Watch and GM Contamination Register. Thus the gene has already been let out of the bottle and can no longer be contained.

It has been found that genetically modified organisms are dominant over the natural species, thus they have forever altered the Earth's natural plants. What is worse, Monsanto has been cashing in on this by forcing farmers whose fields become "infected" by the Monsanto developed seed to pay as if they, too, had planted the toxic seed. Armed with a powerful supporting legal team, the company has won court battles against farmers, thus gaining the support of the courts in this matter.

It appears that the elected and appointed leaders of the world have been well paid by Monsanto to roll over and allow this company to take over the world's food crops. Now it appears that Monsanto, under the brand name ArborGen, is out to destroy what is left of the natural world.

The corporate labs are not only producing genetically modified trees, but also grass for golf courses. What makes anyone think this grass won't cross pollinate with all of the world's grasses, making every growing thing the legal property of Monsanto?
(c) 2012 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

Harry Truman And Memory Of Mass Murder
By David Swanson

Harry Truman spoke in the U.S. Senate on June 23, 1941: "If we see that Germany is winning," he said, "we ought to help Russia, and if Russia is winning we ought to help Germany, and that way let them kill as many as possible."

Did Truman value Japanese lives above Russian and German? There is nothing anywhere to suggest that he did. Yet we debate, every August 6th or so, whether Truman was willing to unnecessarily sacrifice Japanese lives in order to scare Russians with his nuclear bombs. He was willing; he was not willing; he was willing. Left out of this debate is the obvious possibility that killing as many Japanese as possible was among Truman's goals.

A U.S. Army poll in 1943 found that roughly half of all GIs believed it would be necessary to kill every Japanese person on earth. William Halsey, who commanded the United States' naval forces in the South Pacific during World War II, thought of his mission as "Kill Japs, kill Japs, kill more Japs," and had vowed that when the war was over, the Japanese language would be spoken only in hell. War correspondent Edgar L. Jones wrote in the February 1946 Atlantic Monthly, "What kind of war do civilians suppose we fought anyway? We shot prisoners in cold blood, wiped out hospitals, strafed lifeboats, killed or mistreated enemy civilians, finished off the enemy wounded, tossed the dying into a hole with the dead, and in the Pacific boiled flesh off enemy skulls to make table ornaments for sweethearts, or carved their bones into letter openers."

On August 6, 1945, President Truman announced: "Sixteen hours ago an American airplane dropped one bomb on Hiroshima, an important Japanese Army base. That bomb had more power than 20,000 tons of T.N.T. It had more than two thousand times the blast power of the British 'Grand Slam' which is the largest bomb ever yet used in the history of warfare." Hiroshima was, of course, a city full of people, not an Army base. But those people were merely Japanese. Australian General Sir Thomas Blamey had told the New York Times: "Fighting Japs is not like fighting normal human beings. The Jap is a little barbarian.... We are not dealing with humans as we know them. We are dealing with something primitive. Our troops have the right view of the Japs. They regard them as vermin."

Some try to imaginethat the bombs shortened the war and saved more lives than the some 200,000 they took away. And yet, weeks before the first bomb was dropped, on July 13, 1945, Japan sent a telegram to the Soviet Union expressing its desire to surrender and end the war. The United States had broken Japan's codes and read the telegram. Truman referred in his diary to "the telegram from Jap Emperor asking for peace." Truman had been informed through Swiss and Portuguese channels of Japanese peace overtures as early as three months before Hiroshima. Japan objected only to surrendering unconditionally and giving up its emperor, but the United States insisted on those terms until after the bombs fell, at which point it allowed Japan to keep its emperor.

Presidential advisor James Byrnes had told Truman that dropping the bombs would allow the United States to "dictate the terms of ending the war." Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal wrote in his diary that Byrnes was "most anxious to get the Japanese affair over with before the Russians got in." Truman wrote in his diary that the Soviets were preparing to march against Japan and "Fini Japs when that comes about." Truman ordered the bomb dropped on Hiroshima on August 6th and another type of bomb, a plutonium bomb, which the military also wanted to test and demonstrate, on Nagasaki on August 9th. Also on August 9th, the Soviets attacked the Japanese. During the next two weeks, the Soviets killed 84,000 Japanese while losing 12,000 of their own soldiers, and the United States continued bombing Japan with non-nuclear weapons. Then the Japanese surrendered.

The United States Strategic Bombing Survey concluded that, "...certainly prior to 31 December, 1945, and in all probability prior to 1 November, 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated." One dissenter who had expressed this same view to the Secretary of War prior to the bombings was General Dwight Eisenhower. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral William D. Leahy agreed: "The use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender."

Whatever dropping the bombs might possibly have contributed to ending the war, it is curious that the approach of threatening to drop them, the approach used during a half-century of Cold War to follow, was never tried. An explanation may perhaps be found in Truman's comments suggesting the motive of revenge:

"Having found the bomb we have used it. We have used it against those who attacked us without warning at Pearl Harbor, against those who have starved and beaten and executed American prisoners of war, and against those who have abandoned all pretense of obeying international law of warfare."

Truman doesn't say he used the bomb to shorten the war or save lives. He says he used the bomb because he could. "Having found the bomb we have used it." And he provides as reasons for having used it three characteristics of the people murdered: they (or their government) attacked U.S. troops, they (or their government) brutalized U.S. prisoners, and they (or their government) -- and this is without any irony intended -- oppose international law.

Truman could not, incidentally, have chosen Tokyo as a target -- not because it was a city, but because we (or our government) had already reduced it to rubble.

The nuclear catastrophes may have been, not the ending of a World War, but the theatrical opening of the Cold War, aimed at sending a message to the Soviets. Many low and high ranking officials in the U.S. military, including commanders in chief, have been tempted to nuke more cities ever since, beginning with Truman threatening to nuke China in 1950. The myth developed, in fact, that Eisenhower's enthusiasm for nuking China led to the rapid conclusion of the Korean War. Belief in that myth led President Richard Nixon, decades later, to imagine he could end the Vietnam War by pretending to be crazy enough to use nuclear bombs. Even more disturbingly, he actually was crazy enough. "The nuclear bomb, does that bother you? ... I just want you to think big, Henry, for Christsakes," Nixon said to Henry Kissinger in discussing options for Vietnam.

I just want you to think, instead, about this poem:

by Sherwood Ross

I am the Reverend Kiyoshi Tanimoto
A graduate of Emory College, Atlanta,
Pastor of the Methodist Church of Hiroshima
I was in a western suburb when the bomb struck
Like a sheet of sunlight.
Fearing for my wife and family
I ran back into the city
Where I saw hundreds and hundreds fleeing
Every one of them hurt in some way.
The eyebrows of some were burned off
Skin hung from their faces and hands
Some were vomiting as they walked
On some naked bodies the burns had made patterns
Of the shapes of flowers transferred
From their kimonos to human skin.
Almost all had their heads bowed
Looked straight ahead, were silent
And showed no expression whatever.
Under many houses I heard trapped people screaming
Crying for help but there were none to help
And the fire was coming.
I came to a young woman holding her dead baby
Who pleaded with me to find her husband
So he could see the baby one last time.
There was nothing I could do but humor her.
By accident I ran into my own wife
Both she and our child were alive and well.
For days I carried water and food to the wounded and the dying.
I apologized to them: "Forgive me," I said, "for not sharing your burden."
I am the Reverend Kiyoshi Tanimoto
Pastor of the Methodist Church of Hiroshima
I was in a western suburb when the bomb struck
Like a sheet of sunlight.

(c) 2012 David Swanson is the author of "War Is A Lie."

Fake Olympic Outrage
Don't believe it when politicians who support free trade feign outrage at our Olympic uniforms
By David Sirota

Fake outrage is a little like pornography -hard to narrowly define, but you know it when you see it. It is the television pundit railing on the supposed "War on Christmas" or the radio host calling a woman a "slut" for the alleged crime of discussing contraception. It is the Democratic partisan pretending to be offended by John McCain's expensive shoes, or the Republican partisan taking umbrage at President Obama for daring to repeat the truism that "if you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help." And when it comes to the 2012 Olympics it is the typical congressional leader criticizing American athletes' uniforms for being made in China.

This has been the big story in the lead-up to the games, as top lawmakers from both parties are pretending to be upset that Team USA's clothing was manufactured far away from home. The operative word, though, is "pretending."

A look at the record shows that many of these lawmakers supported (and continue to support) the tariff-free trade policies that eviscerated the domestic textile industry -aka the industry that should be making the uniforms. And yet, these same lawmakers preen before the cameras, clad in suits made in factories their votes helped offshore. Gold medalists in fake outrage, they breast-beat about jobs and American pride, correctly betting that few reporters will highlight their phony indignation's inherent deceit.

Of course, while Washington's purported outrage over the uniforms is entirely fake, the underlying questions about offshoring and domestically sourced products are very real -and very troubling.

Since the mid-1990s, when multinational corporations began convincing both parties to vaporize the trade and tariff policies that built this nation's economy, the United States has lost almost 1,300 textile mills, according to the National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO). In just the five years between 2004 and 2009, NCTO estimates that those factory closures have translated into a net loss of a quarter million textile and apparel jobs -or more than a third of the industry's entire U.S. workforce.

The predictable result is what ABC News reported in 2011: "As we searched far and wide across this country for American-made products, we found one industry particularly difficult to locate. Where can we find fabrics made in the United States? According to business owners, it's almost impossible to create textiles from start to finish with 100 percent American-made materials." Hence, the American Olympic team's Chinese-made uniforms.

Such a galling reality was not a predetermined inevitability; it was not, as free-trade triumphalists insist, merely the "invisible hand" of economic "progress." It was instead the deliberate result of trade deals supported by both parties -trade deals that reduced the tariffs that used to financially discourage companies from trying to profit off of exploitation and oppression. Sans such levies, our trade pacts now encourage companies to cut costs not through technical efficiencies or innovation but by simply moving production to countries that tolerate poverty wages and sweatshop conditions.

You know these bipartisan pacts by infamous alphabet-soup acronyms like NAFTA, China PNTR, CAFTA and, potentially, TPP. That last one, the so-called Trans Pacific Partnership with Pacific Rim countries, is particularly relevant because it is being finalized right now. Should it eschew domestic production incentives, NCTO predicts it will "cause the catastrophic loss of textile and apparel jobs in the United States."

No doubt, many lawmakers planning to support that kind of TPP are the same ones criticizing the Olympic uniforms. They expect their fake outrage to garner all of the attention. But if you peruse their votes, you will know what the real outrage is -and you should take that outrage to the polls in November.
(c) 2012 David Sirota is the author of the best-selling books "Hostile Takeover" and "The Uprising." He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado and blogs at E-mail him at David Sirota is a former spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee.

The Syrian Tragedy
By William Pfaff

Paris - The unclarified mystery about the struggle in Syria is what it is all about. Did it begin in repercussion to the Arab uprisings elsewhere? Or is there a sinister external explanation? Who began it? The story commonly offered is that children scribbled some anti-Assad grafitti on a wall in the provinces and the police brutally beat, or tortured, or killed in reprisal, provoking not the expected fearful silence but a spontaneous popular demonstration against authority, police, and regime, producing in return an even more severely brutal regime response.

Syria has been one of the stable states in the Arab Middle East despite its internal tensions, and having America's enemy Iran as its neighbor on one side and on the other unstable Lebanon and dangerous Israel. But its fundamental problems are not international in origin. As the British Middle East expert Patrick Seale has recently written, the real problems are drought and demography. The drought - from 2006 to 2010 -- was the worst in a century and a soaring population has produced huge youth unemployment.

But who reinforced and spread the initial popular uprising, and where did the arms and subsequent organization and promotion of protest come from? What prompted the sentiment that quickly began to be whispered from one person to another, and one town to the next, "Bashar - he's finished!" Why, and what did anyone really know? Bashar al-Assad actually was alive, solidly installed in Damascus, commanding - or at least his closest entourage was commanding - a serious modern army and solid security apparatus drawn from his family and clan, and other close relatives and associates, made up mainly from the Shi'ite Alawi sect which has held the government since Bashar's father's successful coup d'etat in 1970. Why should he worry?

Well, he should have worried, since a dissident committee - or committees - suddenly were active abroad. The revolt was getting arms and ammunition. Turkey, and then Sunni Qatar and Saudi Arabia were reliably reported to be active.

Assad and his government first claimed that Syria was being invaded by foreign mercenaries, "gangs", al-Qaeda, and Arab enemies. Or that it was being invaded by Syrian Muslim Brothers, who fought Bashar's father.

Then the story being spread outside Syria by Assad's supporters and enemies of the United States became that NATO and Israel were behind it all, and the plan was to clear an anti-Western Syria out of the way as preliminary to attacking Iran and its nuclear facilities, with permanent occupation of Syria and Iran and seizure of its oil - just as in Iraq (where, actually, that supposed NATO plan has not worked so well, handing Iraq over to implicit Iranian domination, and in recent weeks inspiring an insurrection of mounting scale by Sunnis, who once ruled Iraq under Saddam Hussein).

This is also unconvincing since the attack on Iran will be from the air, and a land attack by Western armies to finish off an independent Syria is unnecessary, and scarcely what Barack Obama or even Benjamin Netanyahu and their electorates want to see. Another Western war against Arabs? What about those chemical weapons supposedly reserved for foreigners? And if the attack is not Western in origin, who else? Who in the Arab world wants to be America's and Israel's proxy in a war against Syria, where a Western-inspired attack would certainly set alight the torches of nationalism, patriotism and religious passion. It would also supply recruits for al-Qaeda's franchises elsewhere and for Hizballah.

What then? Syria's may be an ethnically and religiously divided population but the idea that it could successfully be parceled out into separate states or provinces, governed in a post- Assad condition by anything other than a foreign army of occupation recalls those neo-conservative assurances before the American invasion of Iraq that U.S. troops would be greeted like the Allies liberating France in 1944. It is inane and gravely irresponsible.

In any case the American public does not want still another war. Surely that is clear even to the post-neoconservatives raising their heads again in Washington. (Robert Kagan comes to mind.)

The only peaceful end to the Syrian crisis is continued international intervention, mediation and negotiation. The Russians have indicated that they will cooperate if their economic and long- standing political interests in Syria are accommodated. Alas, Washington seems to see in this tragic situation an opportunity to force Russia out or the Middle East. That policy will fail -- and eventually Barack Obama (or Mitt Romney) will be sorry.
(c) 2012 Visit William Pfaff's website for more on his latest book, "The Irony of Manifest Destiny: The Tragedy of America's Foreign Policy."

Crash Of The Bumblebee
By Paul Krugman

Last week Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank, declared that his institution "is ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro" -and markets celebrated. In particular, interest rates on Spanish bonds fell sharply, and stock markets soared everywhere.

But will the euro really be saved? That remains very much in doubt.

First of all, Europe's single currency is a deeply flawed construction. And Mr. Draghi, to his credit, actually acknowledged that. "The euro is like a bumblebee," he declared. "This is a mystery of nature because it shouldn't fly but instead it does. So the euro was a bumblebee that flew very well for several years." But now it has stopped flying. What can be done? The answer, he suggested, is "to graduate to a real bee." Never mind the dubious biology, we get the point. In the long run, the euro will be workable only if the European Union becomes much more like a unified country.

Consider, for example, the comparison between Spain and Florida. Both had huge housing bubbles followed by dramatic crashes. But Spain is in crisis in a way Florida isn't. Why? Because when the slump hit, Florida could count on Washington to keep paying for Social Security and Medicare, to guarantee the solvency of its banks, to provide emergency aid to its unemployed, and more. Spain had no such safety net, and in the long run, that has to be fixed.

But the creation of a United States of Europe won't happen soon, if ever, while the crisis of the euro is now. So what can be done to save the currency?

Well, why was the bumblebee able to fly for a while? Why did the euro seem to work for its first eight or so years? Because the structure's flaws were papered over by a boom in southern Europe. The creation of the euro convinced investors that it was safe to lend to countries like Greece and Spain that had previously been considered risky, so money poured into these countries -mainly, by the way, to finance private rather than public borrowing, with Greece the exception.

And for a while everyone was happy. In southern Europe, huge housing bubbles led to a surge in construction employment, even as manufacturing became increasingly uncompetitive. Meanwhile, the German economy, which had been languishing, perked up thanks to rapidly rising exports to those bubble economies in the south. The euro, it seemed, was working.

Then the bubbles burst. The construction jobs vanished, and unemployment in the south soared; it's now well above 20 percent in both Spain and Greece. At the same time, revenues plunged; for the most part, big budget deficits are a result, not a cause, of the crisis. Nonetheless, investors took flight, driving up borrowing costs. In an attempt to soothe the financial markets, the afflicted countries imposed harsh austerity measures that deepened their slumps. And the euro as a whole is looking dangerously shaky.

What could turn this dangerous situation around? The answer is fairly clear: policy makers would have to (a) do something to bring southern Europe's borrowing costs down and (b) give Europe's debtors the same kind of opportunity to export their way out of trouble that Germany received during the good years -that is, create a boom in Germany that mirrors the boom in southern Europe between 1999 and 2007. (And yes, that would mean a temporary rise in German inflation.) The trouble is that Europe's policy makers seem reluctant to do (a) and completely unwilling to do (b).

In his remarks, Mr. Draghi -who I suspect understands all of this -basically floated the idea of having the central bank buy lots of southern European bonds to bring those borrowing costs down. But over the next two days German officials appeared to throw cold water on that idea. In principle, Mr. Draghi could just overrule German objections, but would he really be willing to do that?

And bond purchases are the easy part. The euro can't be saved unless Germany is also willing to accept substantially higher inflation over the next few years -and so far I have seen no sign that German officials are even willing to discuss this issue, let alone accept what's necessary. Instead, they're still insisting, despite failure after failure -remember when Ireland was supposedly on the road to rapid recovery? -that everything will be fine if debtors just stick to their austerity programs.

So could the euro be saved? Yes, probably. Should it be saved? Yes, even though its creation now looks like a huge mistake. For failure of the euro wouldn't just cause economic disruption; it would be a giant blow to the wider European project, which has brought peace and democracy to a continent with a tragic history.

But will it actually be saved? Despite Mr. Draghi's show of determination, that is, as I said, very much in doubt.
(c) 2012 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

"All power comes from the barrel of either guns, pussy, or opium pipes. And people seem to like it that way."
~~~ Hunter S. Thompson

Obama And The Bank Protection Racket
By Glen Ford

Many of the people that read this magazine and other Left publications believe that President Obama's preventive detention legislation, his recent executive order authorizing the federal takeover of all U.S. communications media in an "emergency," and the rest of the ever-growing police state infrastructure are primarily designed to silence domestic opposition to U.S. war policies, or to facilitate the suppression of urban (i.e., Black and brown) rebellions. From an historical perspective, our readers are certainly correct: Black people and anti-war folk have been viewed as the top domestic national security threats for the past 60 years. However, times change, and the powers-that-be are motivated by their own hierarchy of fears. The nightmare that most terrifies the finance capitalists who rule this country is not populated by aging Black revolutionaries and peaceniks, but by masses of "ordinary" (meaning, mostly white) Americans in open revolt against the banks.

Wall Street knows, with great intimacy, that it is perched on the lip of the abyss, that the next crash can come from any number of directions, that all its faults are active and all its contradictions, acute. Global capital and its servants in government are haunted by the memory of their own near-death experience: the meltdown four years ago, when they were compelled by cascading events to share with the public the specter of financial Armageddon. The fascist cat has been out of the bag from the moment in September, 2008, when Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson issued not-so-veiled threats of martial law, should the Congress not accede to the bankers' demands for a blank check.

Once revealed, the repulsive corpus of depraved capital is seared into the public brain, indelibly. Three Septembers after the meltdown, it took only a few amateurish but determined white kids (and some cooperative New York City cops with mace) to refocus revulsion against Wall Street, even as both corporate parties roared "Austerity!" in unison. How easy it was to return the conversation to the central contradiction: that the system is decayed, infinitely corrupt, a cancer on the society, run for the benefit of a tiny minority. Even overt white racists get it - although their Black-hate, as always, prevents them from properly acting upon that knowledge.

Capitalism's irreversible nakedness means permanent crisis for those whose job it is to protect Wall Street. The beast survives only by ever more blatant theft and manipulation. Whatever corporate political party is in charge must, somehow, assure the public that the rule of law still exists, while protecting their Wall Street masters. Ultimately, this becomes impossible, since the task requires more than mere impunity for the criminals. The banksters must also be allowed to continue looting and rigging the system, since they cannot survive, otherwise.

It's a helluva job, but somebody - like Attorney General Eric Holder and his Justice Department - has to do it.

Only in this context do Holder's grants of immunity to Barclay's Bank (British) and UBS (Swiss) in the LIBOR scandal make sense. Immunities are traditionally granted to smaller fry in order to indict bigger fish, but all sixteen of the banks potentially involved are huge (too-big-to-fail), and Barclay's beat UBS to the punch in admitting wrongdoing and consenting to be fined $450 million. UBS, as New York Times financial columnist James B. Stewart reports, "is in a league of its own given its track record for scandals," having been fined over a billion dollars by the feds in recent years. The bank was also forced to reimburse $22.7 billion defrauded from customers in a toxic securities scheme. If UBS gets immunity, then so will U.S. megabanks JP Morgan Chase and Citigroup. (One cannot imagine a prosecution of President Obama's friend Robert Wolf, the outgoing chairman of UBS's American operations, who vacations, golfs and plays basketball with the president, and has bundled $500,000 towards his re-election campaign.)

The U.S. Justice Department's job, as Eric Holder sees it, is to immunize the criminals from prison time, and then fine their companies to preserve the illusion of justice. As we discussed in these pages two weeks ago, Holder successfully contained the national bankster robo-signing scandal, earlier this year, by brow-beating state attorneys general into dropping their suits and investigations, and forcing an affordable monetary settlement - most of which will never reach actual homeowners.

Holder cannot pursue the normal prosecutorial strategy, immunizing low-level LIBOR fixers and collaborators in order to get indictments of the higher-ups, because his real mission is to hide the facts of the scheme: its long duration and centrality to global capital's criminal enterprise. A successful immunity strategy requires scaring the small fry to death with threats of imprisonment, so that they will rat out their superiors and divulge detailed information on possible additional criminality. Years of Barclay's Bank emails show how casually the LIBOR rate was manipulated by guys way below the top offices. But it is precisely that level of bankster that Wall Street's protectors in government don't want to spook: there are too many of them, and they are apt to tell too much. Instead, Holder and his British counterparts give blanket, institutional immunities, and extract a fine. The crimes, in all their variations, continue - as they must.

Although the LIBOR rate has some impact on every conceivable financial transaction, it is clear that derivatives lie at the heart of the crime. With $600 to $1,000 trillion in derivatives floating around, most of them held by too-big-to-fail banks, the movement up or down of a basis-point (100th of a percent) puts billions in motion. Global banking invented derivatives to create their own speculators' economy, much larger than - but acting as a great weight upon, and holding as hostage - the mere $75 trillion real world economy.

(The idea that LIBOR manipulation is key to keeping "free" Federal Reserve money flowing to the banksters also appears sound. There are many uses for rigging the world's interest rate benchmark.)

It is far too late to "unwind" the derivatives monster, to disassemble it, like a bankrupt bank. No one would know where to start in shrinking hundreds of trillions in derivatives down to a size that was no longer a lethal threat to the real economy - and no Wall Street institution would survive the transition. Thus, finance capital lives daily with existential threats: first, from its own inventions and contradictions; and second, from a public that would tear them limb from limb if the people understood the true depth of Wall Street's crimes and how much danger the rich pigs have put the rest of us in.

Wall Street's protectors must prepare for a State of Emergency, a great imposition of silence, and the possibility of a great lockup - because the crash is coming, and they know it
(c) 2012 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

Sandy gives the corporate salute

The Man Who Invented "Too Big To Fail" Banks Finally Recants
Will Obama or Romney follow?
By Robert Reich

I'm in Alaska, amid moose and bear, trying to steal some time away from the absurdities of American politics and economics. But even at this remote distance I caught wind of Sanford Weill's proposal this morning on CNBC that big banks be broken up in order to shield taxpayers from the consequences of their losses. Forget the bear and moose for a moment. This is big game.

If any single person is responsible for Wall Street banks becoming too big to fail it's Sandy Weill. In 1998 he created the financial powerhouse Citigroup by combining Traveler's Insurance and Citibank. To cash in on the combination, Weill then successfully lobbied the Clinton administration to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act -the Depression-era law that separated commercial from investment banking. And he hired my former colleague Bob Rubin, then Clinton's Secretary of the Treasury, to oversee his new empire.

Weill created the business model that Wall Street uses to this day -unleashing traders to make big, risky bets with other peoples' money that deliver gigantic bonuses when they turn out well and cost taxpayers dearly when they don't. And Weill made a fortune -as did all the other executives and traders. JPMorgan and Bank of America soon followed Weill's example with their own mega-deals, and their bonus pools exploded as well.

Citigroup was bailed out in 2008, as was much of the rest of the Street, but that didn't alter the business model in any fundamental way. The Street neutered the Dodd-Frank act that was supposed to stop the gambling. JPMorgan, headed by one of Weill's proteges, Jamie Dimon, just lost $5.8 billion on some risky bets. Dimon continues to claim that giant banks like his can be managed so as to avoid any risk to taxpayers.

Sandy Weill has finally seen the light. It's a bit late in the day, but, hey, he's already cashed in. You and I and millions of others in the United States and elsewhere around the world are still paying the price.

What's the betting that one of the presidential candidates will take up Weill's proposal?
(c) 2012 Robert Reich is Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written twelve books, including The Work of Nations, Locked in the Cabinet, and his most recent book, Supercapitalism. His "Marketplace" commentaries can be found on and iTunes.

The Dead Letter Office...

Willard gives the fix is in signal

Heil Obama,

Dear Kandidat Romney,

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 Antonin (Tony light-fingers) Scalia.

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your making Jerusalem the Israeli capital, 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 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 09-11-2012. We salute you Herr Romney, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

What A Dem Platform Endorsement Of Marriage Equality Would Mean
By John Nichols

The two major political parties of the United States are imperfect vehicles, to be sure. But when they take stands on fundamental issues, these powerful institutions provide a measure of where not just the politics but the governance of the nation, the states and communities across the country may head if members of that party come to power.

So it's a big deal when parties take new positions on big issues. When political parties break with the status quo, when they officially move beyond partisan and ideological comfort zones, that's a moment where the political dynamic is shifting.

It was a big deal in 1948 when-after Minneapolis Mayor Hubert Humphrey told the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia that "the time has arrived in America for the Democratic Party to get out of the shadow of states' rights and to walk forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human rights"-the Democrats put a civil rights plank in the platform.

It was a big deal in 1976 when-under pressure from delegates aligned with a rapidly developing religious right movement -a Republican Party that had historically been sympathetic to reproductive rights shifted to an ardent anti-choice position.

It is a big deal now that Democrats are preparing to amend their platform to endorse marriage equality. To be sure, President Obama and Vice President Biden have already begun talking about their support for the right of members of the LGBT community to marry their partners. But that talk becomes far more grounded in reality when the Democratic Party declares for marriage equality and against the Defense of Marriage Act that was signed into law by a Democratic president (Bill Clinton).

On Sunday, in Minneapolis, a Democratic platform drafting committee took the first critical step toward amending the platform on this issue. "I was part of a unanimous decision to include it," explained Congressman Barney Frank, D-Massachusetts. "There was a unanimous decision in the drafting committee to include it in the platform, which I supported, but everybody was for it."

That bodes well for approval of the amendment by the full platform committee and by the convention in Charlotte.

"The Democratic Party has a noble history of fighting for the human and civil rights of all Americans," explained Mark Solomon, national campaign director of the Freedom to Marry movement, who testified before the drafting committee. "We are proud that the Committee is including language that will ensure the Party is leading the way forward in supporting marriage for loving and committed same-sex couples and their families."

Solomon is right to be pleased, as are the representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union, the Stonewall Democrats, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and the Human Rights Campaign who pressed the drafting committee to act.

Party platforms do not always define campaigns. Former Senate majority leader Bob Dole famously declared as the 1996 Republican presidential nominee that he had not read that year's GOP platform.

But on the arc of history platforms are much more than mere pieces of paper. They are outlines of where a party will go if it comes to power. And history has confirmed, again and again, that when major parties move on a major issue, the repercussions go far beyond caucuses and conventions. They focus debates, accelerate activism and ultimately define the direction of the local, state and national legislating-for the better and sometimes for the worse.

The embrace of marriage equality by the DNC's platform drafting committee should be seen in that context. It is a big deal, and when the Charlotte convention approves the amendment of the platform, the delegates will place the Democratic Party on the right side of history.
(c) 2012 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His new book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, has just been publshed by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

A Not So Special Week
By Adam Keller

"You have put a mirror in front of our society. A terrible mirror, reflecting how poverty looks in the State of Israel in 2012. Poor people are being shamed and humiliated, must go through an indescribable toil mask of bureaucracy in order to eventually receive a pittance. With not enough to either live or die, they must beg in order to survive." Thus spoke Rabbi Idit Lev of the Rabbis for Human Rights at the grave of Moshe Silman. Ten months she and her friends had tried in vain to get him a modest roof over his head. Silman was buried in the Holon cemetary accompanied by a huge amount of young friends.

Following Silman, another man set himself on fire -Akiva Mefa'ai, a disabled IDF veteran in a wheelchair, who tried to protest the way the State of Israel rewards soldiers who went to the battlefield on its behalf. At this moment he is still hovering between life and death. But he has received much less media attention than did Moshe Silman. Soon such events will begin to bore the media, and at most get a few lines on the bottom of page five. And if Keren Neubach would try to devote more attention to it on her radio program, care will be taken to "counter-balance" her with a broadcaster from the other side of the spectrum, those who just want to get rid of "parasites".

This week a plane left Ben Gurion Airport for the sixth time, carrying citizens of South Sudan who are expelled from Israel back to their homeland which is still plagued by poverty and war. This, too, no longer captures the headlines. Interior Minister Eli Yishai, "Mr. Refugee Expulsion", no longer bothers to go to the airport to be personally present. Only Israelis who personally knew some of the deportees came to bid them goodbye at the bus taking them to the airport, and pupils in some schools feel the painful loss of classmates.

And just on the day that the deportation plane set out for the capital of South Sudan, Israeli government officials met with representatives of that new country, and in a warm and friendly atmosphere signed several cooperation agreements. French anti-Semites used to say "Nous aimons les Juifs - en Israel" ("We love the Jews - in Israel"). Incidentally, just this week the Jewish Agency Chair Natan Sharansky expressed his disappointment that the killings at the Jewish school in Toulouse a few months ago did not lead to a significant increase in the number of French Jews moving over to our country.

And this week the State of Israel officially informed the Supreme Court of Defense Minister Ehud Barak's decision to destroy eight villages in the South Hebron Hills, 1500 houses in all, and expel the Palestinian inhabitants to make place for soldiers of the Israeli Defense Forces to train. But the army is generous and will graciously let the deportees come to work the land on weekends. And not very far from there Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar announced a great expansion of the project bringing high school students from all over the country to stay as guests in the settler enclaves at the heart of Hebron. With their own eyes the pupils could see the great achievements of the settlers, who had made the lives of their Palestinian neighbors into hell and successfully made the center of Hebron into a ghost town where only the most stubborn and determined Palestinians are left. "It's not a political issue, the pupils must get to know the history and heritage of the Jewish People," stated the minister.

This week, for a change, not so much was heard about the danger posed to Israel by Iran's nuclear program. It was replaced at the top headlines by another serious threat - the chemical weapons in Syria which, with the developing civil war there, might fall into the wrong, the irresponsible hands. As usual we could witness senior ministers competing with each other in making verbal offensives and dire warnings of military operations to seize or destroy chemical weapons in the stormy Syria. And again as usual in this country, it was the military echelon, i.e. Army Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, who poured some cold water on the militant ministers and expressed strong reservations about any idea of sending the troops under his command across the Syrian border.

And all this was forgotten the next day, the Syrian chemical threat making place for Israel's own government intending to raise the VAT to cover the budget deficits. Raising the VAT of course - not, God forbid, the tax on the giant companies. And the tens of billions which they owe to the state treasury are not even collected. But who is counting?

The veteran satirist and columnist Kobi Niv wrote this week: "In this country, even the black and bleak prophecies turn out to have been too rosy. However much I try to be pessimistic, so as to be a bit realistic about what is going on here, I always discover I had still been too optimistic, and reality is so much worse than I expected. For example, last year (to be precise, on August 2 last year) I predicted that 'the wave of social protest will be drowned in a reduction of VAT by one and a half percent. And look what happens now? The final outcome of the protest is a raising of the VAT by one percent. In short -be realistic, when you make the blackest prediction you can think of, always add at least two and a half percent to reach the real result."

Yes, as the PM said, there is no such thing as a free lunch. The citizens of Israel must cover the deficit and take care of the fifty millions of shekels needed to fund the new university at the settlement of Ariel and the three hundred million for establishing a network of prisons and detention centers and holding camps over the Negev, where tens of thousands of refugees and infiltrators and illegal immigrants from Africa will be held. The law providing for them to be held three years without trial has already been duly approved by the Knesset, but what use is such a law when there is not nearly enough place in the prisons? In short, there is no such thing as a free lunch and through the VAT all Israeli citizens - and especially the poorest - will get to take part in this important national enterprise.

As on almost every weekend in recent months, there will be a protest on the streets of Tel Aviv. Tomorrow night, Holocaust survivors will join with academics, slum dwellers youths and other concerned citizens, in a march to protest the treatment of refugees and remind of relevant chapters in Jewish history. The march supported by the Assaf Association and by the Migrant Workers support Group.

How much of an effect, really, can people of good will have? They can do all that is in their power. They have to do all that is in their power. P.S. See description of the protest.
(c) 2012 Adam Keller is an Israeli peace activist who was among the founders of Gush Shalom.

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Kirk Walters ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

2012 Election Likely To Be Decided By 4 Or 5 Key Swing Corporations
Both candidates will likely tour the swing corporations extensively in an attempt to win their support this November.

WASHINGTON-With polls this week showing the race between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney tightening even further, a growing number of political experts have declared this year's election will almost certainly be decided by a small handful of swing corporations.

"While most publicly traded companies are solidly red or blue, there are four or five major corporations that are complete tossups right now, and any one of them could prove decisive come November," said Nate Silver of The New York Times, noting in particular that Procter & Gamble, a traditional bellwether for the country as a whole, remained a "total wildcard." "Both candidates will have to focus almost exclusively on these swing businesses in order to gain the upper hand."

"And given how close this race is, I wouldn't be surprised if the whole thing comes down to undecided executives at Dow Chemical or Disney," Silver continued. "Let's not forget 2000, when Philip Morris International single-handedly put George W. Bush into office."

According to polling data, the president's favorability has fallen steadily among independent-leaning multinationals, a demographic that effectively carried him to victory in 2008. Additionally, the latest figures suggest that even some reliably Democratic strongholds, such as Google, may now be in play, buoying hopes within the Romney camp that the GOP challenger could take the White House with an unexpected victory in a key tech boardroom.

Recognizing the importance of these closely contested conglomerates, both Obama and Romney have made frequent campaign stops at swing corporations in recent weeks and delivered speeches aimed squarely at these pivotal companies' interests, with both candidates blasting each other as out of touch with the issues that truly matter to real American CEOs.

"As president, I promise to stand up for you in Washington and always put you first," Romney said earlier this week, addressing an audience in the battleground boardroom of Time Warner during a barnstorming tour through the communications sector. "All of you good, hardworking people gathered here represent the best of America, and mark my words, I will do everything in my power to fight for your freedoms and prosperity."

Political observers have noted the stakes of this year's election are unusually high, with many experts claiming the Affordable Care Act's fate, the tax burden on American families, and a possible U.S. invasion of Iran are questions that now reside entirely in the hands of those few Fortune 500 corporations that remain up for grabs.

"I went with Obama in 2008, but now I'm having my doubts," said Kenneth Frazier, an undecided CEO at the Merck corporation. "Frankly, I've been disappointed with his failure to follow through on the promises he made to us four years ago. This time around, I want to make sure I'm voting for someone who truly has the best interests of me and my company at heart."

"It's kind of exciting, though," Frazier added. "Who knows? Maybe in November it will be our $15 million backing funneled anonymously into a political action committee that decides this whole thing."
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Issues & Alibis Vol 12 # 31 (c) 08/03/2012

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