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In This Edition

Noam Chomsky looks, "In Hiroshima's Shadow."

Uri Avnery watches, "The Greatest Show On Earth."

Randall Amster isn't, "Palm Reading."

Tom Hayden asks, "Can The Caravan Of Peace End The War On Drugs?"

Jim Hightower finds, "The GOP Is Galloping Away From Conservative... To Crazy."

Amy Goodman reports, "On Gun Laws, It's Bipartisan Consensus Not Gridlock That's The Problem."

James Donahue follows, "The Corporate Brainwashing Of The People."

David Swanson sees, "Beyond The Two-State Solution."

Ted Rall exclaims, "Iran - Because Two Wars Aren't Enough!"

William Pfaff says, "Better That Mitt Had Stayed At Home."

Paul Krugman condisers, "Debt, Depression, DeMarco."

Glen Ford examines, "Romney And The 'Culture' Of White Supremacy."

Robert Reich explores, "The Terrible Economy And The Anti-Election Of 2012."

Bryan Fischer wins the coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

John Nichols concludes, "Congress Fiddles While The Post Office Burns."

Adam Keller has, "Breakfast On The Steps Of The Ministry Building."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Will Durst observes, "A Staggeringly Stumbling Trip" but first Uncle Ernie warns of, "Guns, Guts & Glory."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Christopher Weyant, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Ruben Bolling, Elaine Thompson, Andy Borowitz, Ted Rall, Black Agenda Report.Com, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Inkcinct.Com, Warner Brothers, The Texas Tribune.Org, Ethan Miller, Getty Images, A.P., 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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Guns, Guts & Glory
Maybe coming to a neighborhood near you, real soon.
By Ernest Stewart

"By our readiness to allow arms to be purchased at will and fired at whim... we have created an atmosphere in which violence and hatred have become popular pastimes." ~~~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

"If I had known that this would happen, I'd have been a shoemaker instead!" ~~~ Albert Einstein

"There is no scientific justification for special labeling of bioengineered foods, as a class, and that voluntary labeling is without value unless it is accompanied by focused consumer education." ~~~ American Medical Association

I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver. ~~~ Maya Angelou

As you know, a brain-dead skinhead (but I repeat myself), product of the US Army targeted and murdered 6 innocent "towel heads" (as they're called by the white supremacy movement) because mindless hatred is like that. One might have shrugged this off as par for the course, considering who the gunman was, viz., a bigoted moron trained in weapons by the Christian-oriented US military. However, coming on the heels of the boy-next-door murder of twice as many innocents, one might see a trend beginning to form?

As I've warned many times before about what happens with "warriors" when they come back home (the wild, wild west after the 'civil' war), so our skinhead was to be expected. Our Colorado shooter, who like our skinhead was crazy to begin with, took just a little push to send him on his way to shoot 70 people. But as John once sang, "Oh, but ain't that America for you and me. Ain't that America something to see!" Yes, I know, just another day in the life, move along, nothing to see here, just roll over and go back to sleep, America.

Trouble is, with tens of millions out of work, and over three million living on the streets, these are desperate times, and by the look of things with either Barry or Willard in power, things are only going to get worse, not better; and these normal-everyday things will begin to happen with alarming frequency as there are some 275 million guns in America. Imagine the chaos, if just 1% of these guns and their gun owners lost it and opened fire. That's 2,075,000 guns running free at shopping malls, sporting events and the like, unlike in the "roaring twenties," when US Army-trained soldiers became hit men for the various mobs from Capone on down (as they still do today), but who only targeted other gangs and never civilians -- these 2 3/4 million will take it out on innocents.

While I own several shotguns and rifles that I inherited from my father, like the 99% of other gun owners, I will never open fire on anyone, unless they're trying to kill me and or my family; and unlike all the gun kooks away down yonder, anyone I shoot will be inside my home and then, only as a last resort. I don't even hunt anymore, since I can buy venison at the super market.

As Carlin said, "We like war, we are a war-like people" and that chicken is coming home to roost. In my life, I've known Mafia hit men and other contract killers, most of whom were slightly insane, but who you could relax around. The only time I've ever been scared was by our own troops, who were completely insane, and you could certainly see it in their eyes; they didn't have to say a word, but were even scarier when they spoke. No false bravado, no egocentrics coming into play, just insanely dangerous people; and there is million of them walking amongst us -- waiting for a spark, real or imagined, to set them off. Meanwhile, our media and politicians are going nonstop around the clock egging them on and on and on. Couple this with a soon-to-be 3rd world America of kings and peons, and it soon may be time to go to the mattresses, America! If you still have a mattress and aren't sleeping in a tent! Remember, America, guns don't kill people; people with guns kill people!

In Other News

It's the 67th anniversary of the dropping of "Little Boy" on Hiroshima and of "Fat Man" on Nagasaki. As is the custom, pundits have been coming out of the wood work blaming Truman for killing between 200,000 and 300,000 people, saying it wasn't necessary -- that Japan would have surrendered if only we would have waited. They cite the Russian invasion of Manchuria and the growing starvation of Japan. And as much as I hate nuclear weapons, I think Truman did the only thing he could have.

We had already created fire storms over most of Japan's cities, like we did in Europe on German cities. More people died in Tokyo in one night from firestorms than died in either Hiroshima or Nagasaki. The difference being the huge amount of damage done by one plane over one city, instead of a thousand planes. When the Japanese realized what had happened, they surrendered. Truman really had no choice as conservative estimates put the American death toll for the invasion of the islands at around 250,000 killed and twice as many wounded and after three and one half years of war, America was tired and wanted the war over, and wanted it over NOW! Also, had we invaded the death toll of the Japanese would have no doubt been much higher than it was with the a-bombs. This death amount was just slightly less than those Americans already killed in the war. Had they not used the bombs, and American found out that we had a simple, easy way to end the war, they'd have eaten Harry alive. Yours truly might not even have been, because my father, who had been in the national guard before the war, and had a war industry job at Ford's got his notice in July to appear for induction in November, and would have been part of the second invasion wave in March 1946, so the a-bomb might have made me possible? Imagine that!

While it is a pity that so many had to die, the bombs have made another world war a thing of the past. For 60 years, M.A.D. or Mutually Assured Destruction has kept us from major wars as another world war will end up killing us all, and both Rethuglican and Demoncrats understand this. Of course, it hasn't stopped any of us from little wars, which have gone on ever since, and went on before the bombs were dropped, too. Thanks to "Smirky the Wonder-Chimp" and his successor Obamahood, we are now building anti-missile missile systems that may very well get us killed before they go on line; because if they do, the Russians or Chinese or the French missiles would be worthless, and as a result we have another nuclear arms race heating up. Thanks, Barry! What is it with politicians? Because I'm from the old school that says, if it's working, leave it alone -- don't tinker as most members of Con-gress have the brains of a duck! If you doubt that, look at all the geniuses that the Tea Baggers put into office. If you ever wondered where those Neanderthal genes went, look no farther than Foggy Bottom! As old Mark Twain put it, "Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself."

And Finally

Of course, you know that Wally World is now selling those lovely ears of Monsanto's Franken-corn, which will flat out kill you if you eat enough of them. It's designed with a built-in poison to kill corn-eating bugs. When given to animals, they all get sick and die. A lot of cattle are fattened on Franken-corn, but just before they go to market, before they can succumb to it -- as downer cattle are still sold to the slaughter houses, but dead cows aren't, at least not yet!

Genetically-modified organisms, or GMOs, are crops that have had their DNA artificially altered with genes from plants, animals, viruses or bacteria. This type of genetic modification occurs in a laboratory, and cannot be found in nature. California is leading the charge to have all these poisons labeled via Proposition 37 on the November ballot, which will cause sales of Franken-foods to disappear, hence Monsanto and crew are doing everything they can to stop it, lest the whole country adopt that law!

However, did you know that not only every lobbyist working for the Agra giants and poison manufactures and their bought and paid for Con-gressmen and Sin-ators are against labeling food as GMO. What is surprising is that the AMA (American Medical Association) has come out against labeling Franken-foods. Even though in the U.S., 86 percent of all corn and 93 percent of soy crops are genetically modified. Did I mention that there has never been a single long-term study as to what will happen to those who eat this slop, nor what it does to the environment. There's not been a single environmental impact study done. If you build a house, you'll be filling out environmental impact studies till you're blue in the face; but the corpo-rats have no such problem -- thanks to their puppets in the FDA and USDA! Even though you might ruin half an acre, and they could destroy the world!

So you know what I did, don't you? That's right, folks, I wrote the AMA a letter!

Dear AMA,

I see that you've come out against labeling Franken-foods. Is that because you're hoping to drum up some new business from folks eating and then getting sick from the poisons in the foods? Or did Monsanto buy you off? I'm sure my readership would like an answer to this bizarre behavior of yours? Isn't there something about doing no harm? Ergo, isn't what you are doing just a wee bit hypocritical to the Hippocratic Oath?

Ernest Stewart
Managing editor
Issues & Alibis Magazine

If I get an answer, I'll let you know.

Here's an answer I got from the Mayor of Anaheim to this letter from last week's column:

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

Dear Ernest,

Your Anytime request # 1018843 has been resolved with the resolution: Thank you for your comments to the City of Anaheim regarding the officer involved shootings and for taking the time to voice your concerns, your comments have been passed on to the City Council.

It is imperative the community know that every officer involved shooting in the City of Anaheim is reviewed independently of the Anaheim Police Department. Each incident is thoroughly evaluated by the Orange County District Attorney's Office as a criminal investigation to determine if action taken by the police officers was lawful action. In addition, Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait has asked the State Attorney General's Office and the Federal U.S. Attorney's Office for assistance with a full and independent investigation of the entire situation. Upon conclusion of the investigation, the community will know the facts surrounding each incident.

The City is committed to protecting the safety of our residents and guests and we will continue to deliver high quality and effective city services.

We thank you again for reaching out to the City and value your feedback.
Pretty much what I was expecting. How about you?

Keepin' On

Well, the countdown has begun. When this is published we'll have about 11 days to pay off the second third of our bills or shut down. Now rumor has it that one of our "usual suspects" has a check on the way, as well as another check from a long-time reader who is now financially able to help us out.

That's the trouble doing what I do, i.e., working for the people many of whom can only read us because they can get online at their local library and have no money what-so-ever to spare, which is by a strange coincidence my problem, as well. I am just and I mean JUST getting by, so there is no way I can pick up the costs of publishing. The whole point of the magazine was to reach out and bring the truth about what's happening to everybody, not the just the folks who can afford to subscribe, which is how about 90% of the American Internet works. There will never be a fee with Issues & Alibis, yet we still have bills to pay. Everybody here, both in the magazine, and the authors and artists, receive no compensation. I've been working those 60 hour weeks for free since the 12-12-2000 coup d'etat went down. If we had to pay for the talent as well as everything else, we'd need $50,000 a quarter, instead of $11,000 a year, half of which is picked up by our advertisers, so we don't need a lot; but we do need your help!

If you are still working, and read us every week, we need you to give us a hand, not only for yourself, but for all of those who haven't got any extra money to keep us going. If honest political truth is important to you, then please send us what you can, as often as you can; and we'll keep fighting for the restoration of the old Republic -- which will not only save America, but save the world from American imperialism, as well. So please visit here, and follow the instructions, and you'll feel better about yourself when you do!


06-02-1930 ~ 08-02-2012
Thanks for the music!

10-09-1935 ~ 08-04-2012
Thanks for the blues!

06-02-1944 ~ 08-06-2012
Thanks for the entertainment!

07-19-1954 ~ 08-06-2012
Thanks for the laughs!


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.

In Hiroshima's Shadow
By Noam Chomsky

Aug. 6, the anniversary of Hiroshima, should be a day of somber reflection, not only on the terrible events of that day in 1945, but also on what they revealed: that humans, in their dedicated quest to extend their capacities for destruction, had finally found a way to approach the ultimate limit.

This year's Aug. 6 memorials have special significance. They take place shortly before the 50th anniversary of "the most dangerous moment in human history," in the words of the historian and John F. Kennedy adviser Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., referring to the Cuban missile crisis.

Graham Allison writes in the current issue of Foreign Affairs that Kennedy "ordered actions that he knew would increase the risk not only of conventional war but also nuclear war," with a likelihood of perhaps 50 percent, he believed, an estimate that Allison regards as realistic.

Kennedy declared a high-level nuclear alert that authorized "NATO aircraft with Turkish pilots ... (or others) ... to take off, fly to Moscow, and drop a bomb."

None were more shocked by the discovery of missiles in Cuba than the men in charge of the similar missiles that the U.S. had secretly deployed in Okinawa six months earlier, surely aimed at China, at a moment of elevated regional tensions.

Kennedy took Chairman Nikita Khrushchev "right to the brink of nuclear war and he looked over the edge and had no stomach for it," according to Gen. David Burchinal, then a high-ranking official in the Pentagon planning staff. One can hardly count on such sanity forever.

Khrushchev accepted a formula that Kennedy devised, ending the crisis just short of war. The formula's boldest element, Allison writes, was "a secret sweetener that promised the withdrawal of U.S. missiles from Turkey within six months after the crisis was resolved." These were obsolete missiles that were being replaced by far more lethal, and invulnerable, Polaris submarines.

Most news sources are funded by corporations and investors. Their goal is to drive people to advertisers while pushing the corporate agenda.

In brief, even at high risk of war of unimaginable destruction, it was felt necessary to reinforce the principle that U.S. has the unilateral right to deploy nuclear missiles anywhere, some aimed at China or at the borders of Russia, which had previously placed no missiles outside the USSR. Justifications of course have been offered, but I do not think they withstand analysis.

An accompanying principle is that Cuba had no right to have missiles for defense against what appeared to be an imminent U.S. invasion. The plans for Kennedy's terrorist programs, Operation Mongoose, called for "open revolt and overthrow of the Communist regime" in October 1962, the month of the missile crisis, recognizing that "final success will require decisive U.S. military intervention."

The terrorist operations against Cuba are commonly dismissed by U.S. commentators as insignificant CIA shenanigans. The victims, not surprisingly, see matters rather differently. We can at last hear their voices in Keith Bolender's "Voices from the Other Side: An Oral History of Terrorism Against Cuba." The events of October 1962 are widely hailed as Kennedy's finest hour. Allison offers them as "a guide for how to defuse conflicts, manage great-power relationships, and make sound decisions about foreign policy in general." In particular, today's conflicts with Iran and China.

Disaster was perilously close in 1962, and there has been no shortage of dangerous moments since. In 1973, in the last days of the Arab-Israeli war, Henry Kissinger called a high-level nuclear alert. India and Pakistan have come close to nuclear war. There have been innumerable cases when human intervention aborted nuclear attack only moments before launch after false reports by automated systems. There is much to think about on Aug. 6.

Allison joins many others in regarding Iran's nuclear programs as the most severe current crisis, "an even more complex challenge for American policymakers than the Cuban missile crisis" because of the threat of Israeli bombing.

The war against Iran is already well underway, including assassination of scientists and economic pressures that have reached the level of "undeclared war," in the judgment of the Iran specialist Gary Sick.

Great pride is taken in the sophisticated cyberwar directed against Iran. The Pentagon regards cyberwar as "an act of war" that authorizes the target "to respond using traditional military force," The Wall Street Journal reports. With the usual exception: not when the U.S. or an ally is the perpetrator.

The Iran threat has recently been outlined by Gen. Giora Eiland, one of Israel's top military planners, described as "one of the most ingenious and prolific thinkers the (Israeli military) has ever produced."

Of the threats he outlines, the most credible is that "any confrontation on our borders will take place under an Iranian nuclear umbrella." Israel might therefore be constrained in resorting to force. Eiland agrees with the Pentagon and U.S. intelligence, which also regard deterrence as the major threat that Iran poses.

The current escalation of the "undeclared war" against Iran increases the threat of accidental large-scale war. Some of the dangers were illustrated last month when a U.S. naval vessel, part of the huge deployment in the Gulf, fired on a small fishing boat, killing one Indian crew member and wounding at least three others. It would not take much to set off a major war.

One sensible way to avoid such dread consequences is to pursue "the goal of establishing in the Middle East a zone free from weapons of mass destruction and all missiles for their delivery and the objective of a global ban on chemical weapons" - the wording of Security Council resolution 687 of April 1991, which the U.S. and U.K. invoked in their effort to provide a thin legal cover for their invasion of Iraq 12 years later.

The goal has been an Arab-Iranian objective since 1974, regularly re-endorsed, and by now it has near-unanimous global support, at least formally. An international conference to consider ways to implement such a treaty may take place in December.

Progress is unlikely unless there is mass public support in the West. Failure to grasp the opportunity will, once again, lengthen the grim shadow that has darkened the world since that fateful Aug. 6.
(c) 2012 Noam Chomsky is emeritus professor of linguistics and philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is co-author, with Gilbert Achcar, of Perilous Power: The Middle East & U.S. Foreign Policy: Dialogues on Terror, Democracy, War, and Justice. His most recent book is Gaza In Crisis.

The Greatest Show On Earth
By Uri Avnery

TO SUM up the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in one word: kitsch.

To sum up the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in two words: wonderful kitsch.

HONEST DISCLOSURE: I am an Anglophile.

At the age of 15 I started working for an Oxford-educated lawyer. At the office only English was spoken. So I had to learn it, and immediately fell hopelessly in love with the English language and British culture in general.

Some may wonder at this, since at the same time I joined a terrorist organization whose aim was to fight the British and drive them out of Palestine.

Soon after my 15th birthday I faced the admission panel of the Irgun. I was asked if I hated the British. Facing the beam of a powerful projector, I answered: no. Sensing the consternation on the other side of the blinding light, I added that I wanted to liberate our country, and did not need to hate the British to do that.

Actually, I think that most Irgun fighters felt like that. The nominal Commander in Chief, Vladimir (Ze'ev) Jabotinsky, was an ardent anglophile and once wrote that the Englishman in the colonies was a brutal oppressor, but that the Englishman at home was a decent and likeable fellow. When Great Britain declared war on Nazi Germany, Jabotinsky ordered the immediate cessation of all Irgun actions. The Irgun's military commander, David Raziel, was killed by a Nazi bomb while assisting the British in Iraq.

His successor, Menachem Begin, came to Palestine with the Polish exile army, in which he served as a Polish-English interpreter. In this capacity he was often in contact with the British authorities. He once told me how he brought documents to British officers in the King David hotel, the building which he later - as Irgun commander - ordered to be bombed. Years later, the Queen graciously received him as Prime Minister of Israel.

Altogether, we had the feeling that we were lucky to be fighting the British, and not, say, a French or American (not to mention Israeli) occupation regime.

AFTER THIS confession, another one: I am not a sports enthusiast. Actually, I have no sense for sport at all.

Even as a child, I was the worst in gymnastics class. A good book always attracted me more than an exciting football game. My father treated sport as "goyim-naches" - Pleasure for Goyim. (Naches in Yiddish is derived from the Hebrew word Nakhat, pleasure or satisfaction.

BUT BACK to the Olympics. In the summer of their discontent, the British produced something unique: original, exciting, surprising, moving, humorous. I laughed when Her Majesty jumped out of the helicopter, I almost shed a tear when the handicapped children sang "God Save The Queen."

But let us go beyond the pomp and circumstance. Do the Olympic games have a deeper significance? I think they do.

Konrad Lorenz, the Austrian professor who researched the behavior of animals as a basis for understanding human behavior, asserted that sports are a substitute for war.

Nature has equipped humans with aggressive instincts. They were an instrument for survival. When resources on earth were scarce, humans, like other animals, had to fight off intruders in order to stay alive.

This aggressiveness is so deeply imbedded in our biological heritage that it is quite useless to try to eliminate it. Instead, Lorenz thought, we must find harmless outlets for it. Sport is one answer.

And indeed, looking at the various manifestations of this human pastime, one cannot but notice the similarities with war. National flags are carried around by victory-crazy crowds. The defeated feel and behave like armies after a lost battle.

In ancient times, wars were often settled by duels. Each army would send forward a champion, and mortal combat between the two would decide the issue. Such was the legendary fight between David and Goliath. In today's sports, a single champion often fights for his nation in the tennis court, the judo ring or the Olympic pool.

A national football (soccer) team certainly goes into battle for the honor of its country, borne on waves of patriotism. Each player is profoundly conscious of the huge responsibility resting on his shoulders (or in his feet). A beaten team often looks like the pitiful remnants of Napoleon's Grand Army retreating from Russia.

In Europe, where national sovereignty is gradually losing its meaning, football has taken its place. When you see a crowd marching through the streets of any European city, shouting and waving the national flag, intoxicated with national pride (and alcohol), you know that an "important" match is taking place.

The much-condemned English football hooligans (named after a riotous Irish family in London) are not so far removed from the spirit of the game. Patriotism, war and violence all grow on the same tree.

For the Israeli team, the consciousness of National Duty is most pronounced. Israel's sportsmen and sportswomen do not win for themselves, they win "for the Jewish People". Every (scarce) victory is a national victory, every (alas, so frequent) defeat is a defeat for Israel. Thus it is represented in our media, thus the winners and losers themselves see it.

IN A WAY, sport is not only a substitute for war, but also for religion.

There is a religious fervor to sports. Enough to look at the faces of the football players before the beginning of a match, devoutly singing the national anthem, in order to become conscious of the sacredness of the occasion - though a British player may come from Jamaica and a French one from Algeria.

Even in the understated British opening ceremony, the religious undertones were obvious. The Torch, the Flag, the High Priests. Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war. Also Muslim soldiers. Also Jewish soldiers, and so on.

In Israel, Jewish sportsmen and sportswomen often invoke the Almighty in their matches. They clutch amulets blessed by Kabbalist rabbis, pray and ask for divine favor. (Which must be a headache for the Divine Referee when Jews play Jews.)

I suppose that in ancient Greece, where it all began, players invoked the various Gods and Goddesses, calling for the best God to win. In the wide-flung Byzantine Empire, two colors battled each other for generations.

Sport, as represented by the Olympic games, is now a world-wide cult, less harmful than most, without the mumbo jumbo of some, uniting rather than dividing. Altogether a good thing.

THE UNITING factor is, perhaps, the most outstanding characteristic of this event.

Hundreds of millions, perhaps a billion human beings watched it around the globe, each represented by his (or her) national champions.

That is more than a curiosity. Hopefully, it is a picture of the future.

Watching the entrance of the delegations was an uplifting experience. Almost all the nations on earth were represented, following each other in quick succession, waving their colorful flags. During the following days they competed with each other, met each other, respecting each other, all in a spirit of comradeship. Sportsmen and women from one nation admired the achievements of those from others, races mingled, prejudices evaporated.

It is interesting to compare this international meeting with another place where all the nations meet: the United Nations Organization. In the match between the two, the Olympics win hands down.

Can anyone imagine an Olympic meeting where some nations possess a formal veto and use it against another nation? Can one compare the inbuilt inactivity of the UN with the hyperactivity of the games?

For me, this is the main attraction of the event. I am a strong believer in world governance. I believe that it is an absolute necessity for the survival of the human race and the planet. Climate change, the proliferation of nuclear weapons, the global economy, world-wide communications - all make global cooperation both necessary and possible.

I am fairly sure that by the end of the 21st century, some sort of global government, based on global democracy, will be in place. The Olympic Games are a good example for such a reality. All the nations are represented, all have equal rights, and, most importantly - all abide by the same rules. In principle, each champion has the same chance of winning a gold medal as anyone else; belonging to this or that big or small nation does not matter.

Wouldn't it be great if the entire world were organized along the same lines?

FOR AN Israeli, the procession was a sobering experience.

We tend to see ourselves as the center of the world, a power well beyond our modest size. Yet here our delegation was marching, one among many, one of the smaller ones, without the glamor some of the others possess, without a single champion that all mankind recognizes.

A good reason for modesty - a virtue we cannot usually boast of.
(c) 2012 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Palm Reading
Will Smarter Phones Mean Dumber People?
By Randall Amster

The road ahead was clearly marked as "closed" and a "dead end," but the voice from the back seat insisted that we go forward anyway. "My phone says go straight ahead," counseled the voice, ignoring the driver's observation that the street was apparently closed. "The GPS in my phone is smarter than you are," chimed the voice, good-naturedly yet sardonically. Obviously trumped, the driver continued forward -- until we inevitably reached the advertised road closure that forced us to turn around and start over.

In itself, such a minor folly is entirely inconsequential and worthy of a little chuckle at best. Yet it's also indicative of an increasingly prevalent attitude whereby the reliance on "smart" technologies is steadily supplanting human assessments and instincts. By now, such an observation is quite nearly passe, in that we have already given so much of ourselves and our reasoning capacities over to machines in one form or another. But the advent and rapid permeation of personal technologies like so-called "smartphones" raises further concerns that have been less explored during this most recent consumer frenzy.

Earlier this year, it was reported that over half of U.S. phone users have smartphones, with the rate rising to nearly two-thirds in the 25-34 age range. CNN observed that this represented a 38 percent increase from the previous year. The data are revealing if not superfluous, as even a casual observer will confirm that people are increasingly using these devices everywhere. And it is truly a burgeoning global phenomenon, with nearly as many cell phones as people on the planet, and with smartphones now numbering over a billion and rising.

New technologies often bring rapid changes in cultural norms as well as concerns over their usage. Yet in the case of smartphones, we seem to hear less of the concerns being voiced than we might expect, especially given how much they have contributed to remaking the social landscape in so short a time. Privacy issues have been raised in some quarters, including a Wall Street Journal article titled "Your Apps Are Watching You," and the tracking and surveillance capacities enabled by these devices have been duly noted. The data compiled from smartphones is routinely mined by commercial entities, law enforcement agencies, and who knows who else -- and it is quite likely the case that most users are fully aware of this by now.

Still, by and large, users seem blissfully unconcerned, which is problematic in its own right as a form of cognitive dissonance. And the proto-sociologist in me sees other troubling signs. You walk into any space, public or private, and the majority of people have their heads down looking at their digital devices. You sit on a park bench while your kids are at the playground, and most of the parents are on their smartphones rather than talking to one another. You give a talk or presentation, and people in the room regularly stare down to check their messages and such. You ask a friend a question, and they need you to repeat it multiple times...

This is the zeitgeist, the (ring)tone of the times. But who am I to stand in the way of progress? (Or even regress, for that matter.) People are drawn to new toys; I get it. Yet it's disturbing to see some basic human qualities on the verge of being bred out if this arc continues. Is it too much to ask that community members engage with one another rather than obsessing over their handheld devices? Maybe we can open our windows to check the weather rather than pulling it up on our phones. Perhaps (as the example at the top of this piece suggests) we can use our instincts and observations to find our way rather than relying on digital directives all the time. Can we talk rather than text? Or even just look up (and around) now and again?

The problem lies in crossing that fine line between a tool that enables and a technology that ensnares. When we become utterly dependent on such technologies, not merely for sustenance but for psychological validation, they begin to rule rather than liberate us. We wind up voluntarily feeding the security apparatus everything it needs to turn us into controlled data points instead of autonomous human beings, making us the agents of our own oppression. Over time, we lose the capacity to think for ourselves or communicate with others without these devices. Consider that the "smart" electrical meter on your house likely knows more about who you really are than your friends or neighbors do. We are never offline, off the clock, or off the grid -- and our functional distraction is meant to mask our profound alienation. Solipsism is our final refuge.

Such cautionary tales are well known in the annals of speculative fiction. Whether it's The Terminator, Blade Runner, or Battlestar Galactica, the overarching theme remains the same. When machines get "smart," they come to identify us venal humans as the problem, and seek to annihilate us for our own good. In our infinite wisdom we create machines to serve our purposes and even desires, but when they "wake up" and take that injunction literally it all goes awry quickly. Things come home to roost when we recognize a kernel of truth in the machines' obsession with eliminating humankind for its hubris, destructiveness, and foolhardiness. In the end, we're left with a self-fulfilling apocalypse in which smart machines seek to supersede stupid people.

I gather that it may not be high on anyone's list to read a rant about the evils of technology. As I've noted many times before, that's not where I'm coming from: we can't put the genie back in the bottle, and the things that humans create can be beautiful and empowering at times. What I am urging here is a balance, not a rejection. Turn your smartphone off now and again, leave it at home, or ditch it altogether in favor of an old-school landline. Place limits on when you'll be available for people to reach you electronically. When in a public place, chat with nearby people rather than remote avatars. Don't text while someone is talking to you. Read, don't tweet. Go outside and watch real birds rather than playing with angry ones on your touchscreen.

I know, I know -- I'm a dinosaur, retro, so 15 minutes ago. But I'm still going to navigate by my senses rather than whatever your smartphone is telling me to do. Sorry, but I haven't seen an app for common sense yet, and I doubt that one is forthcoming. Despite the trend, I maintain that people are still more capable than their phones, but how long that will last is anyone's guess at this point. The road ahead on our present course is clearly marked "dead end," and it doesn't take a billion smartphones to realize it -- only a few smart people.
(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).

Can The Caravan Of Peace End The War On Drugs?
By Tom Hayden

A new peace movement to end the US-sponsored drug war begins with buses rolling and feet marching from the Tijuana-San Diego border on August 12 through twenty-five US cities to Washington, DC, in September.

Named the Caravan for Peace, the trek is intended to put human faces and names on the estimated 60,000 dead, 10,000 disappeared and 160,000 displaced people in Mexico since 2006, when the US Drug Enforcement Agency, Pentagon and the CIA supported the escalation of the Mexican armed forces.

The caravan, which has staged mass marches across Mexico since 2011, is led by well-known Catholic poet Javier Sicilia, 56, whose son Juan Francisco, then 24, was killed in crossfire in Cuernavaca in March 2011. After his son's death, Sicilia, vowing not to write poetry any longer, formed a Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity (MPJD) and penned an anguished grito, or cry, titled "Estamos Hasta La Madre!" The English equivalent might be "Fed Up!," but the Spanish slang also means that the authorities "insulted our mother protector, they've committed a sacrilege," Sicilia says.

About seventy Mexican activists, many of whom are are relatives of victims, and about thirty Americans will accompany Sicilia on the caravan along the US-Mexico border, north from New Orleans through Mississippi and Alabama, to Chicago, Cleveland, New York City, Baltimore and Washington, DC. The US-based Global Exchange is charged with coordination and logistics. More than 100 US immigrant rights and peace groups are actively involved, including the Drug Policy Alliance, the NAACP, the Washington Office on Latin America, the Center for International Policy's Americas Program, the Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, the National Latino Congreso, and Veterans for Peace. Fifty grassroots groups are involved from California alone.

The caravan may force a response from President Obama, who at the Summit of the Americans this past April stated "it is entirely legitimate to have a conversation about whether the laws in place are ones that are doing more harm than good in certain places." At this point, the caravan has not reached a decision on whether to seek a meeting with the White House, according to caravan spokesman Daniel Robelo of the Drug Policy Alliance. But it will hold briefings on Capitol Hill and intends to reach out to administration officials, Robelo says.

After the caravan massed 100,000 in Mexico City's Zócalo (main plaza) last spring, Sicilia took part in direct dialogue with Mexican president Felipe Calderón last June in historic Chapúltepec Castle. On a large table before the president lay photos of Mexicans slain in the conflict, often depicting them as smiling, hopeful human beings before the horror that claimed their lives. Sicilia said "The powers that be were trying to tell us that all those who were dying were just criminals, just cockroaches. We had to change the mindset, and put names to the victims for a change."

The response to Sicilia's call was spontaneous and widespread. Overnight he became a revered figure in Mexico. Soon he was one of the protesters featured in Time magazine's 2011 "Person of the Year" issue.

Assuming favorable local and national coverage as the caravan crosses the United States, Sicilia's voice will soon be heard by millions of Americans.

And an unusual voice it is. Authentic: the voice of a grieving father. Nonpolitical: "I had never thought of starting a movement or being a spokesman for anything." Religious: he is a theologian trained in liberation theology, and believes "the life of the soul can be powerful too."

Sicilia's movement has not pleased everyone on the Mexican left. Though a man of the left, Sicilia did not support Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the presidential candidate of the Partido de la Revolución Democrática (PRD). In the view of some, his strategy of dialogue only made Calderón and conservative political parties seem more reasonable. In a Time interview, Sicilia denounced left-wing groups in Juárez for trying to "highjack the movement" by insisting that Calderón withdraw all Mexican troops from the streets. Sicilia's intuition was that immediate and total withdrawal of the army was an unrealistic demand that would weaken public support. "It threatened to drain the force of the movement," he said. "It showed me that a protest can't be overly ideological if it's going to be successful."

An eyewitness journalist I spoke to, however, said the Juárez dispute also concerned the centralizing of too much decision-making power in Sicilia alone. The journalist acknowledged that many differences exist about the role, if any, of troops on the streets.

Perhaps the main achievement of Sicilia's campaign so far is a change in narrative about the drug war taking place across Mexico. For years the central narrative has been about escalating prohibition and repression through a "mano dura" ("strong hand") policy by the state and security forces. Victims' voices have been enlisted to promote revenge. Questioners were marginalized as soft on crime and drugs.

While many are still enraged about traffickers and assassins, the rising narrative is about the failure of the drug war itself-including Mexican institutions like corrupt courts, law enforcement and elected bodies-and a thoroughgoing "cluelessness" that Sicilia sees among Mexico's governing elites.

Elites in the US also will be threatened by parts of the platform the MPJD is carrying north. The document was cobbled together over a mid-June weekend with input from the Center for International Policy's Americas Program, the Drug Policy Alliance, Washington Office Online America and Witness for Peace, among others. The platform attempts to re-balance the drug policy debate from the two poles of Prohibition and Legalization towards a dialogue about alternative policies to militarization. It calls for:

* "suspension of US assistance to Mexico's armed forces," and a shift from the war focus to human security and development;

* effective policies to halt arms smuggling in border regions, especially Texas and Arizona;

* an increased federal crackdown on money-laundering;

* protections of immigrants who have been "displaced by violence who are fleeing to the US seeking save haven and a better life."

The DPA's Daniel Robelo says the main purpose of the caravan is to "make Mexico's national emergency tangible in the US" and create a binational platform to affect public opinion. Laura Carlsen, of the Americas Program in Mexico City, who worked on the platform's security issues, says that the caravan "has this very sort of moral purpose more than political right now. It's outrageous that our governments continue with a strategy that is demonstrably ineffective and costly in terms of death and destruction of families. By hearing the stories of Mexican victims alongside families of US youth incarcerated for simple possession and lives lost to the violence and corruption of the illegal drug trade, citizens can get a real picture of how deeply wrong prohibition and the drug war are and begin to look at realistic and humane alternatives."

If the caravan's call to "end the violence" diminishes public support for the militarized approach, it could force an open dialogue about alternatives like drug legalization, until very recently considered a fatal third rail.

Sicilia and the caravan have been careful not to call explicitly for legalization, because their starting point is the suffering caused by the failed drug war. In addition, they acknowledge that the alternatives are complex. They have an informal consensus, though not a demand, on somehow regulating marijuana more safely, and promoting research and analysis on approaches other drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine - humanizing, so to speak, instead of militarizing, the problem.

The caravan arrives at a turning point in the hemispheric drug policy debate. Obama's endorsement of a new "conversation" was forced by unprecedented criticism of US drug war policies by the presidents of Guatemala, Colombia, Costa Rica, Argentina, Brazil and Ecuador at a regional summit in February. Belize has followed suit, and Uruguay's president José Mujica on June 20 proposed that his country become the first to legalize marijuana under state management.

A recent front-page New York Times account titled "South America Sees Drug Path to Legalization" mocked Mr. Mujica as "famously rebellious," a "former guerrilla who drives a 1981 Volkswagen beetle." Mujica, the Times seemed to chuckle, would turn Uruguay into the world's first "marijuana republic."

But the regional upheaval against the drug war paradigm is real, and Obama knows it. The US government's increasing isolation from Latin America will require more than "a conversation," but it could usefully begin with one. The drug war status quo is collapsing. More than ever, voices of protest are backed by the power of hemispheric leaders too numerous to ignore.
(c) 2012 Tom Hayden is a former state senator and leader of 1960's peace, justice and environmental movements. He currently teaches at PitzerCollege in Los Angeles. His books include The Port Huron Statement [new edition], Street Wars and The Zapatista Reader.

Ted gives the corpo-rat slaute

The GOP Is Galloping Away From Conservative... To Crazy

If you thought that right-wing politicos couldn't get any goofier - take a peek at "Texas on Cruz Control."

Ted Cruz is America's latest tea party darling. He just pulled off a contortion in Texas that few would've thought humanly possible: he got to the right of Gov. Rick Perry - himself a former tea party darling who's such a far-out know-nothing that he's best known for putting the goober in gubernatorial. In the recent Republican primary, however, Cruz squinched himself Houdini-like into even-further-out political positions than Perry has taken, thus defeating the guy whom Perry wanted to be the Party's nominee for a seat in the U.S. Senate.

How far out is he, you ask? One of the white-hot talking points Cruz used to fire-up the narrow extremists who now control the Texas GOP is that he will, by God, defend America's golf courses! You might not have realized that golf course defense is a burning national issue crying out for U.S. Senate attention, but such deep vigilence is apparently what makes Cruz a tea party fave. He says that he has ferreted out a diabolical United Nations plot to "abolish 'unsustainable' environments, including golf courses."

Attention Patriots: grab your putters and rush to your local links, for the UN is coming! To burnish his crazy bonafides, Cruz adds that, "The originator of this grand scheme is George Soros."

While Cruz promises to save American golfers from this tea party boogeyman, he says he also intends to save all of us from Social Security - by turning our retirement money over to the altruistic geniuses of Wall Street. Oh, let's get rid of unemployment benefits, too, because, explains Professor Cruz, helping the jobless increases unemployment.

Cruz is what's happening to the Republican Party nationally - veering off from conservative... to crazy.
(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.

On Gun Laws, It's Bipartisan Consensus Not Gridlock That's The Problem
By Amy Goodman

Another mass murder, another shooting spree, leaving bodies bullet-riddled by a legally obtained weapon. This time, it was Oak Creek, Wis., at a Sikh temple, as people gathered for their weekly worship. President Barack Obama said Monday, "I think all of us recognize that these kinds of terrible, tragic events are happening with too much regularity for us not to do some soul-searching." Amidst the carnage, platitudes. With an average of 32 people killed by guns in this country every day-the equivalent of five Wisconsin massacres per day-both major parties refuse to deal with gun control. It's the consensus, not the gridlock, that's the problem.

The president's press secretary, Jay Carney, said, "We need to take common-sense measures that protect Second Amendment rights and make it harder for those who should not have weapons under existing law from obtaining weapons." It's important to note where Jay Carney made that point, reiterating the phrase "common sense" five times in relation to the President's intransigence against strengthening gun laws, and invoking "Second Amendment" a stunning eight times. He spoke from the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room in the White House, named after one of Mr. Carney's predecessors, shot in the head by John Hinckley during the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan in 1981. Brady survived and co-founded with his wife the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. After each of these massacres, the Brady Campaign has called for strengthened gun control.

This latest mass killing was very likely a hate crime, perpetrated by Wade Michael Page, a white, 40-year-old U.S. Army veteran with links to white supremacist groups and membership in skinhead rock bands. Page grew up in Littleton, Colo., the same town where, in 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold plotted and executed their mass-murder plan at Columbine High School. Page was in the U.S. Army from 1992 to 1998. He did missile-system repairs and later was a "psychological operations" specialist, although it is not clear in what capacity, based first at Fort Bliss, Texas, then at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Page received a "general discharge" from the U.S. Army, lower than an honorable discharge, but not as bad as a dishonorable one. Reports suggest he had a problem with alcohol, with several arrests for drunken driving. He recently lost a truck-driving job for the same reason, which may have precipitated the loss of his home to foreclosure. Page may have been troubled, but he was by no means unknown. After the shooting, FBI Special Agent Teresa Carlson of Milwaukee told the press, "There may be references to him in various files, and those are things that are being analyzed right now, but, we had no reason to believe, and as far as we know, no law-enforcement agency had any reason to believe that he was planning or plotting or capable of such violence."

Page was a prominent member of the neo-Nazi skinhead music scene, was known to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks right-wing hate groups, and was also personally interviewed, between 2001 and 2003, by Pete Simi, associate professor of criminology at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Despite the arrests, despite the history of membership in hate groups, Page was able to walk into a gun shop and buy the 9 mm pistol legally, according to the shop owner. The fact that it was legal is the problem.

As if on cue, two days after Page's murderous rampage in Wisconsin, Jared Loughner appeared in court to plead guilty to the shooting spree in Tucson, Ariz., that left six dead and many injured, including former member of Congress Gabrielle Giffords. Loughner has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, and will spend the rest of his life behind bars. Patricia Maisch survived the shooting. As Loughner was tackled that day in January 2011, Maisch grabbed the high-capacity magazine that Loughner was using to reload his gun. Maisch and two other survivors of that shooting have launched an advertisement with the group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, demanding that both President Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney come up with a plan to deal with guns in this country.

The day after the Wisconsin shooting, I spoke with Gurcharan Grewal, president of the Sikh Religious Society of Wisconsin. He told me:

"Ultimately, the problem comes to gun control. I don't know when we're going to get serious about all this, and I don't know how many more lives it will take before something will be done."

Neither Obama nor Romney agrees that gun control is the answer. It will take a movement to make it happen.
(c) 2012 Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!," a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 750 stations in North America. She is the co-author of "Standing Up to the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times," recently released in paperback and "Breaking The Sound Barrier."

The Corporate Brainwashing Of The People
By James Donahue

"Those who manipulate the organized habits and opinions of the masses constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country." ~~~ Edward Bernays, assistant to William Paley, founder of CBS

The super storms, floods, extreme melting of the world glaciers and ice caps, excessive heat and drought, and strange shifts in world weather patterns have finally snapped a lot of people to an awareness that those long-quoted "experts" were wrong. The world is heating and our excessive burning of carbon fuels may be a major factor.

Consequently, the industries that rely on coal, oil, ethanol and other carbon fuels are fighting for their survival. Notice the clever bombardment of televised promotions of "clean coal" as the key to America's continued supply of cheap power to operate our factories and electric generating plants.

Notice also the promotion financed by British Petroleum that attempts to attract tourists back to vacation spots along the Gulf of Mexico following the disastrous oil spill and fire on a company drilling rig in 2010. "Come on down," the promoters say with smiling faces. "The fishing is great." Anybody keeping up on environmental events knows better. The oil is still in that water and the sea life that once provided a rich supply of food for America is found to be deformed and filled with toxins. An acquaintance that recently flew into Tampa on a business trip told us she could still see the oil on the surface of the water from the aircraft window.

Never in our history can we remember this level of reckless efforts at the mass manipulation of the people. We are seeing it in the constant bombardment of political ads that wildly attack opponents. The Supreme Court's controversial Citizen's United ruling has opened the door to a multi-billion dollar secret ad campaign against incumbent President Barack Obama. Most of these spot ads are laced with half-truths, twisted information and bald-faced lies.

Will the people believe all of this propaganda? We believe it must be working because the barrage of these promotional ads has not stopped. People must be rushing to the Gulf Coast to vacation. The campaign to replace coal with clean green fuels has not worked its way into the political races. And if these things are true, then it is highly possible that Americans will walk in lock-step back to the polls in November and put the corporate-owned Republicans back into power.

Are these things going to be good for the country? Obviously not. The Republicans are vowing to do away with the first national health program ever pushed through the houses of Congress. It was a watered-down version of what the people wanted, but many see it as a start in the right direction.

The Republican plan to dramatically slash federal spending, balance the budget and create lots of jobs may be an impossible dream. Cutting that kind of spending will mean that no money will be spent in developing the badly needed green energy systems, updating our worn out infrastructure, restoring our defunct education system and providing for the poor and elderly. If these boys follow the program shown by past GOP leadership, we are in for more war, more military spending, and a continuation of the War on Drugs that means money for police, jails and prisons.

The jobs will be in the military, working for companies that subcontract with the government to serve the military or operate those prisons, and little else.

If Romney wins office, we predict that he will be unable to make much change unless voters revolt this fall and clean both houses and bring in a batch of new and progressive thinkers who have not yet fallen prey to the corporate lobbyists that flit like bats through the halls outside their chambers.

If conditions get worse, if more and more Americans lose their jobs, their pensions and possibly even their Social Security and Medicare benefits, if more and more people are forced to live in the streets and go hungry, will they revolt? The banksters are gambling that they will not.

Mind control has become the key to politics, religion and big business in the United States and all of the other industrialized nations of the world. It has become a highly studied science whose practitioners utilize their skills in advertising agencies, from behind the curtains of government and in the corporate board rooms.

These pillagers of our right to free thought and liberated life style used to be much more subtle in the way they went about their business. It was a slow process beginning with the church, our public education system and the advertisements that packed our printed news publications and radio programs. The advent of television opened a whole new avenue of propaganda that has become more and more specialized. Today it is almost impossible to escape the constant campaign to make us buy certain products, elect certain candidates, and accept certain ideologies without ever questioning their validity.

The propaganda slams our brains where ever we go. It comes at us over our car radios on the way to work. Of course it dominates the television programming. In fact it has gotten so bad that most of our television time is spent watching banks of television ads instead of the program we tuned in to watch.

If you watch a ball game, the background behind the bleachers is lighted up with advertising. Automobile race cars are decorated with the brand names of sponsors. Film producers are paid well to use certain brands of cars, beer, food and even shampoo in the movies we watch. We are forced to pay for special programs to keep away those nuisance "pop-up" ads that invade our computer screens, but many of them find ways to get through anyway.

Edward Bernay is someone few people have ever heard of. But his insight in the capability of television to control the habits and opinions of the masses were correct.

Former President Herbert Hoover, who went down in history as the president in office when the world was hit by the Great Depression, also understood what was about to befall the nation. As a Republican he perceived it as a good thing in his day. He said: "You have taken over the job of creating desire and have transformed people into constantly moving happiness machines; machines which have become the key to economic progress." Those were the days when newspapers were the primary source of information and radio was in its infancy.
(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

Beyond The Two-State Solution
By David Swanson

Fast forward to 2048. The world is greatly changed, and in this year China invades France, occupying Paris and a good portion of the nation. The French are massacred, evicted, raped, chased, and terrorized. Towns are destroyed. Every town and village has its name changed to a Chinese name, and its prior existence erased from any history books produced from then forward.

Portions of France not yet under Chinese control shelter refugees by the millions. French citizens captured in their homes are held as "prisoners of war" and freed to become refugees in distant parts of France. China changes the name of its occupied areas from France to Chance. The remaining parts of the country are just referred to by their local (Chinese) names, as if they were part of no nation at all and yet somehow Chinese in the end.

For years, the Chancian government continues to expand and to assault the French people. With more and more immigrants from China, Chance becomes an apartheid nation with lesser rights for any French within it. In 2067, Chance launches a major assault, seizing control of much of what's left of France. The newly seized areas come to be called "the occupied territories," in contrast to the already occupied territories, which are called simply Chance.

As the years pass, Chancian children are born and raised in Chance who had nothing to do with the original invasion. In fact, they are never even told about it. At most they are taught that Chance was founded in 2048 when the French voluntarily left and the true border of the Chancian nation was drawn on a map with a purple line. That purple line is also called "the line of 2067," even though it was drawn in 2048. Outside of that purple line are the occupied territories and the few towns and villages left to the French.

Liberals in Chance propose giving "the occupied territories" back to the French and restoring the Purple Line, while conservatives propose eliminating the last French descendant from Europe. Those are the extremes of the political debate in Chance. Everything within the Purple Line is universally agreed upon as properly Chancian. The agreement runs so deep that the question is never raised at all. The original sin in Chancian history is dated to 2067 when the Chancian democracy strayed outside its natural borders and violated the rights of others for the first time.

But, of course, Chancian families are raised through the years outside as well as inside the Purple Line, a line that had never been agreed to in any way by the French, a line that would deny many of them the right to return to their homes.

The French want reparations and restoration. They date the catastrophe of their nation to 2048. The Chancians are willing to talk about undoing anything they've done since 2067, including through the creation of a French nation. The French nation would include several geographically separated bits of territory in northern and southern parts of the former France. It would remain subject to the rule of Chance on major questions. And the new France would have to agree to the rightful existence of Chance inside the Purple Line -- or the Purple Line plus a little.

So, a lengthy and seemingly endless process is created called the Peace Process. The French show up wanting to talk about 2048. The Chancians show up willing to talk only about 2067. The two sides never hear each other. There is never any peace. The Chancians announce at the end of each failed meeting that they "have no partner" with which to negotiate peace. Hostilities and a permanent state of emergency prevail, with French people within Chance and Chance's "occupied territories" deprived of basic rights, imprisoned, tortured, and assaulted. The other nations of Europe join with the French in resenting the behavior of Chance. The nations of Asia, however, celebrate Chance as "the only democracy in Europe."


There are several differences between this story and the story of Israel and Palestine. Some of the differences are trivial: The dates are 1948 and 1967, not 2048 and 2067. The line is green rather than purple. Some of the differences are significant: The Jewish culture always had ties to Israel. The religious element allows for an intermediary class of citizens consisting of Arab Jews. Et cetera.

But morally, the differences seem only to obscure what matters. The state of Israel was created through ethnic cleansing. It was created as a state to privilege one religious group, something that states should not do. But two wrongs cannot make a right. Evicting Israelis from their homes, inside or outside the Green Line, is not a solution.

Yehouda Shenhav's new book, "Beyond the Two State Solution: A Jewish Political Essay" tells the story above, but straightforwardly, without the analogy. The language of the Green Line, Shenhav writes, is "a language through which Israel is described as a liberal democracy, while the Arabs (and Mizrachi and religious Jews to boot) are described as inferior and undemocratic. This is the language of someone who came to the Middle East for a short while, not to integrate but to exist here as a guest. The position it expresses is not only immoral with regard to the Palestinians, but also potentially disastrous for the Jews. It commits them to life in a ghetto with a limited idea of democracy based on racial laws and a perpetual state of emergency."

Shenhav wants to restore awareness of 1948, but not to try to reconstruct the world of 1948. He does not propose eliminating Israel. He does not propose uniting the people of Israel and Palestine into a single nation.

He does propose allowing Palestinians to return to their homes in a manner least disturbing to Israelis already living in those villages or buildings, including with compensation paid to residents evicted by an agreement with returning refugees. He proposes a bilingual society, with a fragmented political federation. He expects this to be very difficult, while preferable to any other approach. And he rightly sees the first step as recovering honesty with regards to not-so-distant history. (c) 2012 David Swanson is the author of "War Is A Lie."

Iran - Because Two Wars Aren't Enough!
By Ted Rall

Why Doesn't Anyone Call Out Romney for Warmongering?

Mitt Romney had a barnburner of a weekend in Israel. The GOP nominee apparent shared his unique combination of economic and anthropological wisdom, attributing the fact that Israel's GDP and average income is many times higher than those of the Palestinian Occupied Territories to Israelis' superior "culture."

As if spewing one of the most overtly racist lines in recent presidential campaign history wasn't enough, eschewing "containment" (read: "diplomacy"), Romney also endorsed a preemptive Israeli military strike against Iran in order to prevent the latter's nuclear program-Israel's own, illegal nuclear weapons stockpile is OK since it's a U.S. ally-from moving forward.

"We have a solemn duty and a moral imperative to deny Iran's leaders the means to follow through on their malevolent intentions," Romney said, stating that "no option should be excluded."

He didn't say how he knew the intentions of Iran's leaders. Clairvoyance? Bush had it too.

Though Mitt slightly walked back his campaign's sabre rattling, the message was clear. If he is elected, Israel will receive a blank check to begin a war against Iran, one of the most well-equipped military powers in the Middle East-a conflagration in which the United States could easily wind up getting dragged into. (In a subsequent interview he reiterated that "we have all options on the table. Those include military options.")

Most criticism focused on Romney's flouting of the traditional proscription against candidates questioning a sitting president's foreign policy while visiting foreign soil. Though, to be fair, the differences between his and President Obama's approach to Israel and Iran are tonal and minor.

As usual with the U.S. media, what is remarkable is what is going unsaid. Here we are, with the economy in shambles and the public worried sick about it, the electorate tired of 12 years of war against Afghanistan and nine against Iraq, yet Romney-who could be president six months from now-is out ramping up tensions and increasing the odds of a brand-new, bigger-than-ever military misadventure.

Warmongering has gone mainstream. It's a given.

In a way, Romney's willingness to risk war against Iran is merely another example, like the car garage and dressage, of how clueless and out of touch he is. Most Americans oppose war with Iran. For that matter, so do the citizens of the country on whose behalf we'd be killing and dying, Israel. But even Romney's Democratic opponents give him a pass for Romney's tough-guy act on Iran.

The reason for the somnolent non-response is obvious: it's nothing new. Year after year, on one foreign crisis after another, American presidents repeatedly state some variation on the theme that war is always an option, that the military option is always on the table. You've heard that line so often that you take it for granted.

But did you know that "keeping the military option on the table" is a serious violation of international law?

The United States is an original signatory of the United Nations Charter, which has the full force of U.S. law since it was ratified by the Senate in 1945. Article 51 allows military force only in self-defense, in response to an "armed attack." As Yale law and political science professor Bruce Ackerman wrote in The Los Angeles Times in March, international law generally allows preemptive strikes only in the case of "imminent threat." In 1842 Secretary of State Daniel Webster wrote what remains the standard definition of "imminent," which is that the threat must be "instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means and no moment for deliberation." The enemy's troops have massed on your border. They have superior force. What must be done to stop them is evident. There's no time for diplomacy.

Iran's nuclear program doesn't come close to this definition, even from Israel's standpoint. Bruce Fein, deputy attorney general under Reagan, told Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting's Extra! Magazine: "It is nothing short of bizarre to claim, as the Obama Administration is doing, that the mere capability to make a bomb is justification for a preemptive attack. That's a recipe for perpetual war. Almost any country could have the capability to make a bomb. They are torturing the word ‘imminent' to the point that it has no meaning."

By endorsing an Israeli attack against Iran at a time when there is no proof that Iran has nuclear weapons, intends to develop them, or use them if it does, Romney is going farther than Obama, who has engaged in back-channel diplomacy.

The Allies' main brief against the Nazi leaders tried at Nuremberg was not genocide, but that they had violated international law by waging aggressive war. Yet every American president has deployed troops in aggressive military actions.

Aggressive war hasn't been good for America's international image, the environment, our economy or the millions who have died, mostly for causes that are now forgotten or regretted. But unless we draw the line against reckless, irresponsible rhetoric like Romney's, it will go on forever.
(c) 2012 Ted Rall is the author of the new books "Silk Road to Ruin: Is Central Asia the New Middle East?" and "The Anti-American Manifesto."

Better That Mitt Had Stayed At Home
By William Pfaff

Paris - As the American presidential election approaches, the dominant conviction expressed by members of both parties is that the country is gravely in decline. If the wrong man is elected the nation's spin out of control will accelerate and disasters will follow.

On the left the most dramatic forecast of catastrophe to be heard is some version of fascism -- minus the racial component in historical fascism -- generated by the plutocratic forces already at work in the country, the new militarism produced by professionalization of the military and the "war on terror," and the disregard and erosion of constitutional legality begun under the G.W. Bush government and continued in the Obama administration. This scenario's plausibility is strengthened by its arising from well established domestic precedents.

On the right, the nightmare scenario that accompanies the prospect of reelection of Barack Obama is, in its most modest Republican Tea-Party version, "European-style government," with all of the "socialist" horrors that implies, beginning with universal medical care and finishing with "death panels."

Obamaism means to these voters a version of current Obama government with existing policies extended to the tenth power -- which in the minds of many Republican voters (and commentators) spells Communism with all but the Gulag.

This of course is nonsense. The national debate is a disgrace. My unexaggerated but depressed opinion of the outcome is the one current electoral voting polls suggest: a stalemate much like the one the nation now suffers.

With international affairs and U.S. foreign policy one departs the farce for dangerous waters. The United States is the most heavily armed nation on earth, has deployed its forces worldwide, and its elites are committed to a variety of ideologies and theories, nearly any of which could provoke war -- conceivably a war in which the American "homeland" could be attacked and American forces, in their vast deployments, could suffer losses of Vietnam or Korean War scale, and possibly worse.

Bashar al-Assad's Syria is an ally of Iran, and one current anti-American/anti-Israeli theory holds that the Syrian uprising was instigated by them and is indirectly supported in order to remove a functioning Syrian state from the Middle Eastern scene, an action linked to a forthcoming attack on Iran by Israel, supported by the United States.

(Both President Obama and Mitt Romney in recent days renewed their avowed commitments to such an attack. Retaliation by Iran, possibly more effective than now generally thought in the U.S., has frequently been described in western analyses.)

Turn from the Middle East to Asia and the supposed threat of a Chinese "bid to rule the world" (or at least all of Asia). This is a notion that in Washington and in American popular opinion is taken much more seriously than it should be, offering the opportunity for very bad mistakes.

In the current (British) Prospect magazine, Mark Kitto reflects on his 36 years of work and residence in China. He offers valuable judgements on that country, its fragile economy and massive property bubble, its widespread public and private corruption, its ethnic tensions, worker and rural discontent, and its obscurantist Party leadership (now in profound crisis, as evidenced by the explosive Bo Xilai/Gu Kailai scandal, on the eve of meetings expected to set the nation's leadership for years to come).

China, as he says, bulks massively in the world because of its size and GDP. But the last time it was a dominant power was when the world did not include the Americas and an enlightened Europe (or nuclear weapons).

He writes: " [There] is an increasing likelihood that there will be upheaval in China within the next few years, sparked by that property crash....Some commentators think that it will lead to revolution, or a collapse of the state. There are good grounds [for thinking this]." The United States would do well to treat China with the greatest prudence now and for the foreseeable future.

The present Obama government foolhardily escalated the Afghan war ("the right war," it said), failed, and now wants out, but will not get out without major costs. It still has global ambitions, as attested by its expanding activities in Central Asia, and new escalation into Africa.

The President's rival, Mitt Romney, has just concluded a foreign trip whose main achievement was to demonstrate his profound ignorance of the world abroad - even of Britain, where he made a buffoon of himself, and Israel, where his smarmy obsequiousness embarrassed even his hosts. What has the United States done to deserve this?
(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."

Debt, Depression, DeMarco
By Paul Krugman

There has been plenty to criticize about President Obama's handling of the economy. Yet the overriding story of the past few years is not Mr. Obama's mistakes but the scorched-earth opposition of Republicans, who have done everything they can to get in his way - and who now, having blocked the president's policies, hope to win the White House by claiming that his policies have failed.

And this week's shocking refusal to implement debt relief by the acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency - a Bush-era holdover the president hasn't been able to replace - illustrates perfectly what's going on.

Some background: many economists believe that the overhang of excess household debt, a legacy of the bubble years, is the biggest factor holding back economic recovery. Loosely speaking, excess debt has created a situation in which everyone is trying to spend less than their income. Since this is collectively impossible - my spending is your income, and your spending is my income - the result is a persistently depressed economy.

How should policy respond? One answer is government spending to support the economy while the private sector repairs its balance sheets; now is not the time for austerity, and cuts in government purchases have been a major economic drag. Another answer is aggressive monetary policy, which is why the Federal Reserve's refusal to act in the face of high unemployment and below-target inflation is a scandal.

But fiscal and monetary policy could, and should, be coupled with debt relief. Reducing the burden on Americans in financial trouble would mean more jobs and improved opportunities for everyone.

Unfortunately, the administration's initial debt relief efforts were ineffectual: Officials imposed so many restrictions to avoid giving relief to "undeserving" debtors that the program went nowhere. More recently, however, the administration has gotten a lot more serious about the issue.

And the obvious place to provide debt relief is on mortgages owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored lenders that were effectively nationalized in the waning days of the George W. Bush administration.

The idea of using Fannie and Freddie has bipartisan support. Indeed, Columbia's Glenn Hubbard, a top Romney adviser, has called on Fannie and Freddie to let homeowners with little or no equity refinance their mortgages, which could sharply cut their interest payments and provide a major boost to the economy. The Obama administration supports this idea and has also proposed a special program of relief for deeply troubled borrowers.

But Edward DeMarco, the acting director of the agency that oversees Fannie and Freddie, refuses to move on refinancing. And, this week, he rejected the administration's relief plan.

Who is Ed DeMarco? He's a civil servant who became acting director of the housing finance agency after the Bush-appointed director resigned in 2009. He is still there, in the fourth year of the Obama administration, because Senate Republicans have blocked attempts to install a permanent director. And he evidently just hates the idea of providing debt relief.

Mr. DeMarco's letter rejecting the relief plan made remarkably weak arguments. He claimed that the plan, while improving his agency's financial position thanks to subsidies from the Treasury Department, would be a net loss to taxpayers - a conclusion not supported by his own staff's analysis, which showed a net gain. And it's worth pointing out that many private lenders have offered the very kinds of principal reductions Mr. DeMarco rejects - even though these lenders, unlike the government, have no incentive to take into account the way debt relief would strengthen the economy.

The main point, however, is that Mr. DeMarco seems to misunderstand his job. He's supposed to run his agency and secure its finances - not make national economic policy. If the Treasury secretary, acting for the president, seeks to subsidize debt relief in a way that actually strengthens the finance agency, the agency's chief has no business blocking that policy. Doing so should be a firing offense.

Can Mr. DeMarco be fired right away? I've been seeing conflicting analyses on that point, although one thing is clear: President Obama, if re-elected, can, and should, replace him through a recess appointment. In fact, he should have done that years ago. As I said, Mr. Obama has made plenty of mistakes.

But the DeMarco affair nonetheless demonstrates, once again, the extent to which U.S. economic policy has been crippled by unyielding, irresponsible political opposition. If our economy is still deeply depressed, much - and I would say most - of the blame rests not with Mr. Obama but with the very people seeking to use that depressed economy for political advantage.
(c) 2012 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

"We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false."
~~~ William Casey ~ CIA Director

Romney And The 'Culture' Of White Supremacy
By Glen Ford

White supremacy is Mitt Romney's religion, although I'd be willing to bet he has not uttered the epithet "nigger" since reaching adulthood. For Romney and his ilk, it is axiomatic that God's blessings are manifest in the world through the distribution of wealth. Had God not favored Europeans, He would never have allowed them to expropriate the vast bulk of the Earth's bounty. They have prospered because their ways are righteous - or, in more modern, secular terms, they possess a superior "culture."

For the Mormon American multimillionaire, human destiny and divine will are revealed in macroeconomic data. "As you come here and you see the GDP per capita, for instance, in Israel which is about $21,000 dollars, and compare that with the GDP per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority, which is more like $10,000 per capita, you notice such a dramatically stark difference in economic vitality," Romney told a room full of other wealthy - and, therefore, blessed - people at Jerusalem's King David Hotel. The actual breakdown is $31,500 vs. $1,500, but I assume the fool misspoke. Romney recognized in those stark 20 to 1 ratios "the power of at least culture and a few other things," including "the hand of providence."

Palestinian poverty flows, not from Israeli military conquest, but from the conquered people's cultural - and, presumably, moral - inferiority, and God's consequent disapproval. Israeli suppression of Palestinian political, economic and, yes, cultural life, is irrelevant. Two cultures have clashed in Palestine, and one has been found to be 20 times as productive as the other. Enough said.

White South Africa regarded its wealth as prima facie evidence of cultural superiority. The fact that the land, minerals and labor on which that wealth was built belonged to Black people simply proved that Blacks lacked a "culture" adequate to manage those resources. Moreover, White Power was in the best interest of Black South Africans who, the apartheid regime was proud to proclaim, had a higher per capita income than Blacks elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa. Thus, white cultural superiority could be beneficial to nearby Blacks, under controlled conditions that did not pollute the precious European cultural environment.

In 1973, Edward Botha, information officer for the South African embassy in Washington, assured Americans that his country's Blacks were content with their situation. "Black people in South Africa own more automobiles than the Russian people do," said Botha - a material accomplishment that Mitt Romney would surely associate with profound cultural and moral progress. But sadly, the poor Russians, possessing so few cars, retained little culture to speak of.

White U.S. southerners also insisted, during slavery and Jim Crow, that "their" Negroes were the best off in the world because of their exposure to white folks' religion and way of life. Left to their own devices, however, Black folks' innate cultural inferiority - depravity! - would do them in. Blacks' freedom of movement and expression must be contained, for their own good.

White liberals also believed in the Culture Demon. In the 1950s and early 60s, it was considered politically correct to describe African Americans as "culturally deprived" - meaning, Blacks are disadvantaged by lack of exposure to white culture. Power has nothing to do with it.

The 20 to 1 disparity between Israeli and Palestinian per capita income matches the wealth gap between American Blacks and whites (app. $5,000 vs. $100,000 for median Black and white households). The fact that such numbers do not provoke general shock and calls for reparations is proof enough that most whites view the disparity as more a natural phenomenon than evidence of cumulative injustice. Daniel Patrick Moynihan spoke for white folks of the past, present and future when he posited, in 1965, that a Black "culture of poverty" is what keeps Black people poor - not pervasive white racism.

With President Obama's election, a clear white consensus favors "race neutral" government policies - which, in practice, reject Black grievances based on past discrimination and disadvantage, and set an extremely high bar for complaints of current bias. Such dismissal of essential - and irrefutable - contemporary and historical data can only be rooted in a general white belief that African American culture is what holds Blacks back. Barack Obama either shares this white attitude, or pretends he does for political gain. His singling out of "irresponsible" Black fathers and hectoring of Black parents for feeding their kids Popeye's chicken for breakfast was a shout-out to white folks that he shared their assessment of Black "culture." His rejection of targeted economic policies that address deep disparities based on the historical and ongoing realities of race and racism ("A rising tide lifts all boats," says Obama) puts him in the same "race neutral" camp as Romney and the rest of the GOP - and most of the Democrats, as well. And, of course, Obama also fights for the same empire that sees its roots in the natural (or divinely ordained) rise of "western civilization" - a euphemism for white people - to dominate every nook and cranny of the world, by force.

In truth, white supremacy is foundational to Euro- American culture, which celebrates five hundred years of relentless pillaging, extermination, mass enslavement and racist subjugation of the vast majority of humanity as the march of civilization and progress. It is the culture of a pirate's bazaar, strewn with stolen goods and bloody booty, guts and bones. Israel is there, too, with a sword between its rotten teeth. Romney is singing "America," and Obama is composing another lie.
(c) 2012 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

The Terrible Economy And The Anti-Election Of 2012
By Robert Reich

The worst economy since the Great Depression and you might think at least one of the candidates would come up with a few big ideas for how to get us out of it.

But you'd be wrong. Neither candidate wants to take any chances by offering any large, serious proposals. Both are banking instead on negative campaigns that convince voters the other guy would be worse.

President Obama has apparently decided against advancing any bold ideas for what he'd do in the second term, even if he has a Congress that would cooperate with him.

He's sticking to a worn script that says George W. Bush caused the lousy economy, congressional Republicans have opposed everything he's wanted to do to boost it, it's slowly on the mend anyway, the Bush tax cuts shouldn't be extended for the rich, and we shouldn't take a chance electing Romney.

Yet the public wants bigger ideas from the President, and wants to know what he'll do in his second term to get us out of this mess. A New York Times-CBS News poll released last week showed that a majority of voters believe the president "can do a lot about" the economy. That's a double-digit jump from the fall of 2011.

The President could propose a new WPA, modeled after the Depression-era jobs program that hired hundreds of thousands of jobless Americans to rebuild the nation's infrastructure, or a new Civilian Conservation Corps.

He could suggest permanently exempting the first $25,000 of income from payroll taxes, and making up the lost revenues by eliminating the ceiling on income subject to it. He could propose resurrecting the Glass-Steagall Act and breaking up the big banks, so Wall Street doesn't cause another financial collapse.

But you won't hear any of this, or anything else of this magnitude, because the White House doesn't want to take any risks. Polls give Obama a slight edge in the critical eight or so battleground states, so, the thinking goes in the Obama camp, why say anything that might give Romney and the GOP a target?

Besides, polls also show Romney isn't well-liked by the electorate.

So Obama has decided to campaign as the anti-Romney.

Mitt Romney is playing it even more cautiously. His economic plan is really a non-plan: more tax cuts for the rich, undefined spending cuts, and no details about how he'd bring down the budget deficit. No presidential candidate since Herbert Hoover in 1928 has been more vague about what he'd do on the critical issues facing the nation.

Romney's advisors assume Obama can't possibly be reelected with the economy this bad. Just 44 percent of registered voters in a Washington Post-ABC News poll earlier this month approve of the job the president is doing on the economy, while 54 percent disapprove. Even more encouraging for Romney is that 41 percent of those polled "strongly" disapproved of Obama's economic performance, while just 21 percent "strongly" approved - an enthusiasm gap of major proportion.

So Romney's advisors have concluded that all Romney has to do between now and Election Day is avoid a mistake that might give Obama and the Democrats something to shoot at.

Romney has decided to campaign as the anti-Obama.

The two anti-the-other-guy strategies fit with a ton of negative advertising that's just begun but will reach mammoth proportions after Labor Day. Much of it will be financed by super-PACs and by political fronts already taking in hundreds of millions of dollars in secret donations. Romney's camp hopes to out-negative Obama by almost two to one.

So whatever happens on Election Day, the next president will have to contend with two handicaps. The public won't have endorsed any new ideas or bold plans, which means he won't have a clear mandate to do anything on the economy.

The only thing the public will have decided is it fears and distrusts the other guy more. Which means the winner will also be burdened by almost half the electorate thinking he's a scoundrel or worse.

The worst economy since the Great Depression, but we're in an anti-election that will make it harder for the next occupant of the oval office to do a thing about it.
(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...

Heil Obama,

Dear propaganda ansager Fisher,

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 idea to kidnap all the children from the homes of their homosexual parents, 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 Iron Cross first class, 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 Fisher, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

In 2006, a Republican Congress-acting at the behest of the Bush-Cheney administration-enacted
a law that required the postal service to "pre-fund" retiree health benefits 75 years into the future.
No major private-sector corporation or public-sector agency could do that. It's an untenable demand.

Congress Fiddles While The Post Office Burns
By John Nichols

Americans have heard a lot in recent days about the "default" by the United States Postal Service. And the way that much of the media covered the story would lead those who have not followed the wrangling over the USPS's future to imagine there's a problem with the post office.

After all, the financial circumstance of the USPS sounds nightmarish.

"The Postal Service, on the verge of its first default on Wednesday, faces a cash shortage of $100 million this October stemming from declining mail volume that could balloon to $1.2 billion next year," declared the New York Times. "Confronting $11.1 billion in payments over the next two months for future benefits, the service said it would fail to pay about half that amount, which is due Wednesday, and does not foresee making the other half, which is due in September. An additional $5.6 billion payment due next year is also in question."

But the real story of Wednesday's default by the postal service was never one of declining mail volume or inefficiency.

"The 'default' is not primarily the result of a bad market or even bad operations, but of bad legislating by Congress," explains National Association of Letter Carriers president Fredric Rolando.

Honest members of Congress agree. "Article 1, Section 8, Clause 7 of the U.S. Constitution gives Congress the responsibility to establish and ensure operation of the Postal Service," noted Congressman Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, on Wednesday. "Today, August 1, 2012-224 years after the Constitution was ratified-Congress is presiding over the disestablishment of the Postal Service. Today a manufactured default created by Congressional legislation is pushing the Postal Service to the brink."

In 2006, a Republican Congress-acting at the behest of the Bush-Cheney administration-enacted a law that required the postal service to "pre-fund" retiree health benefits 75 years into the future. No major private-sector corporation or public-sector agency could do that. It's an untenable demand. "(The) Postal Service in the short term should be released from an onerous and unprecedented burden to pre-fund 75 years of future retiree health benefits over a 10-year period," says US Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont. "With $44 billion now in the fund, the Postal Service inspector general has said that program is already stronger than any other equivalent government or private-sector fund in the country. There already is more than enough in the account to meet all obligations to retirees."

"The Postal Service should also be allowed to recover more than $13 billion in overpayments it has made to its pension plans," adds Sanders. "With these changes alone, the Postal Service would be back in the black and posting profits."

Sanders and other concerned legislators have gotten the Senate to take some steps toward addressing what is, in reality, a Congressional crisis-not a postal crisis. But the disengaged and dysfunctional Republican leadership in the House has failed to act in an even minimally responsible manner.

The Post Office will need to make changes. It will need to evolve as the ways in which Americans communicate change. But it can and should remain the vital source of community and connection that it has been since the nation's founding. For that to happen, however, the USPS must be allowed by maintain staffing and infrastructure, to expand services, to operate in a fiscally responsible and fiscally sane manner-not required to default.

Now that the default has occurred, the Postal Service enters a danger zone where it's future becomes increasingly tenuous. The fall election season becomes essential. Candidates for president, the US Senate and the US House need to be pressed on postal issues. And they need to provide specific answers. Those candidates-Democrats or Republicans-who do not defend the postal service should be viewed in the same light as those candidates who will not defend Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. When a vital public service, an essential framework for American communications, is threatened, members of Congress and candidates for Congress who refuse to recognize the crisis should be refused the votes of responsible Americans.

This year, Americans who want to preserve the USPS should cast "postal votes." Back the candidates who are fighting to preserve the postal service; reject those who are not. And press every contender to take a stand. This is the election that will matter. If Congress does not change, the postal service will be undermined and ultimately destroyed.

Fredric Rolando of the Letter Carriers union, got it precisely right when he said: "Congress has failed to deal with the unfair and unaffordable financial burden of pre-funding, which is the one thing that could provide the Postal Service some much-needed breathing room to address its long-term challenges in a strategic way. In short, Wednesday's default (wasn't) be committed by the Postal Service, but by Congress."

To rectify the circumstance, American cannot reject the Post Office. It must reject the Congress that has failed to recognize or respect-let alone act upon-its constitutionally-defined mandate "to establish and ensure operation of the Postal Service."

"The Congress has a responsibility to stand up, but here in the USA., under Citizens United, everything is up for auction including the Postal Service," shouts Kucinich. "Wake up, America. Universal service is on the line. Wake up, America and stand up for the Constitution. 575,000 Postal Service workers and our obligation to the American people to see to it that the Postal Service is rescued from those who want to push it into default or privatize it for their own profit."
(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.

Breakfast On The Steps Of The Ministry Building
By Adam Keller

At a late evening hour last week I got an urgent call from N., a Palestinian resident of the town of Dura, near Hebron - a longtime personal friend. His cousin, the 47 years old Abdullah Alarjub had been shot and wounded by soldiers, in strange and rather alarming circumstances. Soldiers stopped Abdullah at a checkpoint, conducted a thorough search of his car, found nothing, gave him back his keys and told him to keep going. When he was about 25 meters away, one of the soldiers raised his gun, shot and injured Abdullah in the shoulder.

Had I not known the cousin of the wounded, I would not have heard anything about it. The Israeli media had more important issues to deal with. A few days later a similar incident occurred at another checkpoint, near Jerusalem - only that this time the shooting ended in death. A Palestinian killed by soldiers of the Israeli Defense Forces does get a bit of publicity in the communications media of the State of Israel - but only a bit. In most cases, nobody bothered to publish the name of the person killed. (His name was Akram Dair, and he was 40 years old. All that was required to locate this data was a one minute search of Palestinian news websites.)

Are the soldiers who shot and killed going to be punished? Probably not. They claimed that the car had not stopped at the checkpoint. Under the criteria of the IDF, the most moral army in the world, these are sufficient grounds to shoot and kill inhabitants of those territories which, according to Justice Edmond Levy, are not occupied at all. What the army did do, right then on the night after the fatal shooting, was to carry out extensive raids on Palestinian cities and villages and refugee camps, and detain people who might have started demonstrations and protests at their communities.

But perhaps Justice Levy was right, after all? After all, South Tel Aviv is not considered to be Occupied Territory, and yet the authorities in our country find no difficulty in implementing a policy of escalating oppression towards the African refugees and asylum seekers and migrant workers who live there (who still live there, until construction of the detention camps in the Negev desert is completed).

So, this week members of the State of Israel's parliament gathered to talk about how to distinguish between people according to their looks. Just so. On July 23, at 8:30 am, the Knesset Interior Committee convened and gave its approval to a bill presented by KM Miri Regev and KM Ophir Akunis, which would impose a fine of up to half a million Shekels to anyone providing lodging or transportation to an infiltrator. But then the amazing question was asked, how would a bus driver determine the identity of a black skinned person wishing to board the bus? Maybe it's an infiltrator - which would mean that, should this bill pass all stages of legislation in the Knesset and be duly inscribed in our law books, the driver would be strictly forbidden to take him. But perhaps it's an Ethiopian, who is a kosher Jew and a full-fledged citizen of the State of Israel? Or, who knows, maybe it is the President of the United States, on a short visit with us, wanting to go incognito on a Tel Aviv bus? So, how to distinguish? Who could help the miserable driver?

The thug who on the same day entered an Internet cafe in the Shapira Neighborhood of south Tel Aviv did not grapple with problems of identification. He came in, knife in hand, stabbed and injured the owner and two of his clients, all three of them Eritreans, threw a computer at the owner, escaped and disappeared. The police still did not get on his trail, and the media coverage given the incident was modest.

There were meor events which the media did not report at all, though you could hear of them from the activists who spoke at the protest rally last Saturday night, initiated by Holocaust survivors and Israeli teenagers. There, we could hear of a 12-year old black girl who got a fist in her face from a motorcyclist passing her in the street, and of the poor black cat who was hanged on the door of an apartment where the human beings had a skin color similar to his. A long list of major and minor assaults which increasingly make into hell the lives of Africans among us.

And what does all this have to do with what did get the headlines this week - the economic decrees resolved upon by the Government of Israel, whose centerpiece is the increase of VAT, laying a heavy burden on those who have the least? Some people tend to carefully sort out and place separate issues in separate drawers, or perhaps separate universes. Here are the Palestinians and their oppression, and there the Africans and the repression peculiar to them, and here the ordinary citizens of Israel and their usual suffering under the burden of economic decrees. In my humble opinion one would do well to recall that the government is the same government and the policy makers are the same policy makers. As has become my habit in recent weeks, I can end with quoting from the call for a weekend demonstration, scheduled for this night in Tel Aviv.:

Privatization of school health services. The lie of free education from age three. The raising of beer prices. The raising of cigarette prices. The Border Infiltrators Law. Deportations to South Sudan. Incitement against refugees. Police surveillance. Moshe Silman. 50 millions to the Ariel "University". The attack on radio broadcaster Keren Neubach. Increased penalties for aiding refugees. The crushing of what is left of the middle class. Untaxed corporate profits. Increase in VAT. Forgiving the tycoons' debts. Non-implemented report of the Commission on Cartels. Drying up the social services. No public housing. Saturday at 20:00 on the Habima Square.

The rope tightens around all our necks. Every day the media inform us about the new decrees, including measures for complete elimination of public housing. The government is cutting through people's dignity, through their very lives.

We are citizens. This is our country, these are our public assets. We will not give up our lives! We will march through the street, sit down at the entrance to the government compounds and stay the night. We will force the government to wake up. Each with her body and her voice, each with his body and his voice!

This is an emergency! Say no to the austerity decrees which would choke the economy and push us into a heavy recession! No increase in VAT and purchase taxes, no cuts in welfare and health, no further undermining of public housing!

As it is, we are already paying too much for rent and mortgage!
As it is, food prices are sky-high!
Do you need money? Go to the tycoons who have robbed us all these years.
36 billions in untaxed profits - take it from there! Not at our expense!
We will take it any longer!

We take responsibility for our lives. We are sovereign. We will return the country to the citizens! We meet in at 20.00 on the corner of Rothschild and Habima and march to the Government Compound on Kaplan Street. Bring signs with your own message, and pots and pans, and also sleeping bags, mats, blankets, pajamas, musical instruments, and everything you need to spend the night. Breakfast at 7.00 am on the steps of the ministry building...

(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
~~~ Christopher Weyant ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

A Staggeringly Stumbling Trip
By Will Durst

Mitt Romney has to be more relieved than an Iowa corn farmer in the middle of a thunderstorm to be back on home soil. Arms wide. Head back. Wet face. Smile. Podium steps. National Anthem.

The American electorate may harbor an ambivalent attitude towards the former governor of Massachusetts, but the reaction to his European vacation from folks across the big pond could only be described as decisively derisive. If diplomacy were a hurdling sport, the guy stumbled over the lane chalk.

The plan was for the GOP nominee to embark on a low- risk, three- country jaunt to raise his suspect foreign policy bona fides, but the seven-day charm offensive proved to be light on charm and heavy on offense. Good will hunting transformed into ill will gathering.

The first stop was Great Britain, where the Wee Bairn of Bain managed to pretty much insult the whole country. Romney told an interviewer that security problems surrounding the Olympics were disconcerting. And the gates of Hades opened and all sorts of evil tabloid creatures sprung forth.

He only said the same exact thing they had been saying for weeks in Merry Olde, but you know family. Siblings are allowed to call their father a harebrained lovable loser: cousins, not so much.

David Cameron snapped that London was a busy, world-class city, and "not in the middle of nowhere" which some interpreted as a snub targeting the man who famously saved the 2002 Winter Olympics. But the Prime Minister only demonstrated his own geographic ineptitude. Salt Lake City isn't in the middle of nowhere; it's in Utah.

Ann Romney traipsed along to offer moral support to her horse Rafalca, competing in Olympic dressage. Dressage being a French word describing an event where horse and rider perform predetermined movements. Like inter-species dancing. Which has to be illegal in at least half of the states Willard leads.

The Overseas Gaffe Express moved to the Middle East where Mr. Romney stuck a prayer in the Wailing Wall, presumably pleading to be struck dumb. Retroactively. Later he gave a speech saying Israel's financial acumen and culture provided it with a major advantage over Palestine. Sort of ticking off the Palestinians. Not to mention a couple of Israelis who thought he called them thrifty.

The trip landed for a final stop in Poland and everyone held their breath. But all that happened on the outskirts of the evil continent of Europe was an aide cautioned a reporter to stop peppering the candidate with questions because they were in a holy site for Poles. And to emphasize the sanctity of the joint, he told the reporter to kiss his butt. Only he didn't say butt, rather the word that rhymes with class. A quality of which he is obviously bereft.

The campaign was hoping to use this journey abroad to muffle the outcry over tax returns and set up the Vice Presidential pick, but now even the most partisan Republican has to wonder how many consecutive blows to the head their candidate can take without visible bruising. Need to line up a platoon of make up artists for Tampa.

Britain, Israel and Poland. Not what you call the Group of Death. Those aren't the tough ones, Mitt. Got to rate their collective degree of difficulty in diplomatic terms at about a negative 2 But one thing you got to give him -- at least he stuck his dismount.
(c) 2012 Will Durst, is a San Francisco based political comedian, Will Durst, often writes: this is an example. Don't forget his new CD, "Raging Moderate" from Stand-Up Records now available on both iTunes and Amazon. The New York Times says Emmy-nominated comedian and writer Will Durst "is quite possibly the best political satirist working in the country today." Check out his website: to find out about upcoming stand-up performances or to buy his book, "The All-American Sport of Bipartisan Bashing."

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Issues & Alibis Vol 12 # 32 (c) 08/10/2012

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