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In This Edition

Greg Palast concludes, "'The Con' Is Leaving A Trail Of Blood Across The Planet."

Uri Avnery asks, "A Federation - Why Not?"

Glen Ford calls for the third American revolution in, "Stand Your Ground And Beyond: The Whole Criminal Justice System Is Arrayed Against Blacks."

Norman Solomon sends a, "Memo From Oslo: If Peace Is Prized, A Nobel For Bradley Manning."

Jim Hightower reports from the war zone, "Motorcycling An Anti-Woman Agenda Into Law."

David Swanson with a reminder, "Past Wars On Indians Aren't Even Past."

James Donahue has an epiphany in, "Did A Natural Disaster Spark The Dark Ages?"

John Nichols "Next Fed Head Should Meet The Bernie Sanders/Elizabeth Warren Standard."

Chris Hedges examines, "America's Disappeared."

Glenn Greenwald with an in-depth analysis of, "Michael Hayden, Bob Schieffer And The Media's Reverence Of National Security Officials."

Paul Krugman introduces, "Milton Friedman, Unperson."

David Sirota discovers, "Conservative Ideology No Longer Privately Insured."

Amy Goodman has some, "Suggested Vacation Reading for President Obama: "Catch-22"."

Secretary of State John Kerry wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich wonders, "Why The Anger?"

Vincent L. Guarisco fears, "Edward Snowden Has Awakened The Sleeping Giant."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Wil Durst tells the tale of, "The Little Red Hen" but first, Uncle Ernie considers being Ibsen's, "An Enemy Of The People."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Cal Grondahl, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Brian McFadden, Robert Shetterly, Mickey Welsh, Monty Python, Joe Stramowski, Steve Miller, Makwa Enewed, Kevin Lamarque, Paramount Pictures, Reuters, Black Agenda Report, 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."

Steve McQueen as Doctor Thomas Stockmann

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An Enemy Of The People
By Ernest Stewart

"The majority is never right. Never, I tell you! That's one of these lies in society that no free and intelligent man can help rebelling against. Who are the people that make up the biggest proportion of the population -- the intelligent ones or the fools?" ~~~ Henrik Ibsen ~ An Enemy Of The People

"The odds of dying in a terrorist attack are a lot lower than they are of dying in a car accident, unfortunately." ~~~~ President Obama ~ on The Tonight Show

And we would all go down together
We said we'd all go down together
Yes we would all go down together
"Good Night, Saigon" ~~~ Billy Joel

"...tiptoe into your parents' bedrooms and remove those funny green pieces of paper with pictures of U.S. Presidents from their pants and pocketbooks. Then put them in an envelope and mail them to me, and I'll send you a postcard from Puerto Rico!" ~~~ Soupy Sales

I first came across old Hank Isben's "An Enemy Of The People" in high school. It wasn't required reading; I had to actively search it out in the school's library -- not surprisingly, it had only been checked out twice since they built the school. That it wasn't required reading wasn't surprising as the school was not out to teach us things that we needed to know, or even how to to think; in fact, just the opposite. They taught the kids how to be a "Loyal Plastic Robot For A World That Doesn't Care!" (It was in the hometown and world headquarters of The Ford Motor Company; and, who needs robots more than Ford?) And in this, they succeed beyond their wildest dreams with most of the kids -- with only a few exceptions. If you guessed I was one of those exceptions, you win a cookie! A tracking cookie from the NSA, that is!

As Hank said, "There is so much falsehood both at home and at school. At home one must not speak, and at school, we have to stand and tell lies to the children." Isben wrote that for his play in 1882, so you can see how much things have changed in 131 years, not a hell of a lot! Ibsen's "Doctor Thomas Stockmann" dares to tell his town the truth about an enterprise that they all believe will make them rich, so they turn on their once loved, and well-respected doctor like the pack of wild, crazed dogs that they are. Think Rethuglicans and global warming!

You can see that very same reaction to journalists, sooth-sayers and whistle blowers, like Manning and Snowden in America today. As Hank points out in the play, "...the strongest man in the world is the man who stands most alone." And "A minority may be right; a majority is always wrong." I can testify to the truth of that, having had a similar experience to Dr. Stockmann myself. Think of Leaky and the killer ape!

For the first eight years of the magazine when we were going after Bush 24/7, people wrote in every week to tell me they supported us in our fight against all of The Crime Family Bush's acts of treason, sedition, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and crimes against the Constitution, and often wrapped their support with a nice check, to keep us, keeping on. But when Barry did the very same things, and when we pointed that out to them, as for support, not so much. In fact, for daring to point out that Barry was doing the very same things that they railed about just moments before about Bush doing it, I was met with derision, scorn and outright hatred by the same folks singing my praises just moments before. I also got 1001 excuses why Barry wasn't doing the things he promised to do, but doing the exact same things as Bush, that is, until he started making them even worse than Dubya! Even at this late date, the Obamabots still can't see, or at least won't admit to seeing the truth about Barry.

If you want to get the whole thing as a visual, watch Steve McQueen's portrayal of Thomas Stockmann in his 1978 movie version of, "An Enemy Of The People." You'll see Steve like you've never seen him before, which will drive most of you to go and read the play, and which opened up a 17-year old boy's eyes to reality so many years ago. Ibsens 19th century Norway transcribes to 21st century America, perfectly. You might ask Glenn Greenwald to compare and contrast with what he's currently going through with what happened to Dr. Stockmann. How dare we tell you an unpopular truth! The price of truth in today's America is ostracism, imprisonment, or death, or all three! Hey, it is, after all, an old American tradition, is it not? Don't believe me? Just go ask those witches in Salem how that worked out for them? I may have coined the word Sheeple, but the idea and principle was around at least 60 years before my birth and well-known to the thinkers of that day -- and, no doubt, for millenniums before! You tell me, what's to do?

In Other News

I see where when Barry was on with Jay the other night, he let the cat out of the bag as you can see in the above quote; however, I will repeat that quote again, for those of you on drugs!

"The odds of dying in a terrorist attack are a lot lower than they are of dying in a car accident, unfortunately."

I'd like to focus your attention on that very last word, "unfortunately"! Yes, he really did say that, letting the cat out of the proverbial bag. Barry is all bummed out that terrorists aren't killing more Americans than car accidents. Apparently, he'd like to see an improvement in that? If you count Pearl Harbor (but not the Indian wars) with 9/11 as all the Americans killed in terrorist attacks, then you'll find that we've already killed four times as many people on the freeways in 2013 than died in 9/11 and Pearl Harbor combined. In fact, we've killed 52 time more Americans since 9/11 than died in the those combined "terrorist strikes" on US roads. So where the hell is our war against the automobile at? I'd hate to tell you how many times it is since Pearl Harbor!

But cheer up, Barry; you've managed to kill as many in terrorist strikes of your own, not to mention your pal, Dubya; you know, the guy you failed to prosecute for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and crimes against the US Constitution? He killed 500 times as many in Iraq alone, and you've killed 10 times as many -- and an equal amount for 9/11 with your drone strikes! And between the two of you, you've killed as many US service men and women as our terrorist strikes on other nations! You may also take strength from the 15 million or so American Indians that were killed in our terrorist strikes against them; wasn't that enough blood to sate your obvious bloodlust? If Barry is seeking parity between auto accidents and terrorist strikes, then about 330,000 of you are gonna have to bite the big one for the auto deaths since 9/11; and he'll need about 2 1/2 million more if it's about parity since Pearl Harbor! I wonder if he'll call up the Brown Shirts, a.k.a. the Obamabots, to take the big one for the new Gipper? Otherwise, look out for a nuclear false flag strike, a way down yonder in Texas! Fair is fair, after all, huh?

Then, Mr. President, you'll easily be able to sell your lies about needing Big Brother watching our every move, which they been doing, pretty much every day, every way for the last 8 years, because of our last false flag strike. Damn that Snowden, letting more cats out of the bag about the NSA reading our every keystroke, listening in on our every word, which you, our Constitutional law scholar, knows is treason without a regular court warrant. You know quite well that Dubya and you passed secret laws that give you the right to do so, no matter what that "damn piece of paper says," and damn that whistle blower with the truth and the evidence to back it up. Who ya gonna believe, America, Barry, or your own lying eyes? Remember, you're on Barry's side or you are a terrorist enemy!

This is the first evidence that the NSA has permission to search those databases for specific US individuals' communications so far; but my sources tell me there's a lot more to come on the near horizon! Here's the lowdown...

A secret glossary document provided to operatives in the NSA's Special Source Operations division - which runs the Prism program and large-scale cable intercepts through corporate partnerships with technology companies - details an update to the "minimization" procedures that govern how the agency must handle the communications of US persons. That group is defined as both American citizens and foreigners located in the US.

"While the FAA 702 minimization procedures approved on 3 October 2011 now allow for use of certain United States person names and identifiers as query terms when reviewing collected FAA 702 data," the glossary states, "analysts may NOT/NOT [not repeat not] implement any USP [US persons] queries until an effective oversight process has been developed by NSA and agreed to by DOJ/ODNI [Office of the Director of National Intelligence]."

The term "identifiers" is NSA jargon for information relating to an individual, such as telephone number, email address, IP address and username as well as their name.

The document was last updated in June 2012"

Remember, America, how you can tell when Barry is lying to you: "His Lips Are Moving!

And Finally

I remember meeting John Kerry at the Winter Soldiers Investigation meeting in Detroit back in January or February of 1971. I went thinking to make a statement; but found I couldn't as I had at the time a General Discharge, and they required an Honorable one -- mine has since been upgraded. That's right, my bad! I got into a little fisticuffs with a drunken bird colonel back in my real-bad-news daze, before becoming the lovable scamp that you all know and love today!

I remember John's testimony, not because he was John Kerry, because John Kerry was a nobody, just one of us; but because I liked what he had to say. Now, he never gave a speech or testimony at winter soldier, not on the record; but did have plenty to say about his swift boat days in private conversations, some of which I was privy too. He was as mad as the rest of us for what he was forced to do, and understood completely right from wrong. About ten weeks later, he made his famous testimony before Con-gress. Now compare and contrast the caring, thoughtful, honest, sorrowful, John Kerry with John Kerry of 2013, the dancing puppet for AIPAC and Tel Aviv.

I just read about him telling the Palestinians not to get their panties in a bunch over Israel building a few more thousand housing units on their land before the negotiations begin -- because that's the nature of the Israeli beast, you know, those lovable knuckleheads; and since the Palestinians already know that, they shouldn't get upset, just sign ze papers. Ve have vays of making you Sign ZE PAPERS! My guess is that John lost it over what he did back in The Nam, and joined the dark side decades ago; and is now the proud owner of 30 pieces of silver! Beware of the "pound of flesh" requirement in your contract, John; they weren't joking!

Ergo, John wins this week's Vidkun Quisling Award for doing to the Palestinians what he did to the Vietnamese. The difference is, this time around, he isn't whining about losing his soul -- a soul he lost 45 years ago!

Keepin' On

They say be careful what you wish for, so I am, and I got it, a nice check from a first-time contributor; beyond that, she's a newbie to the magazine, too; it's Carolyn, from my old stomping grounds around Asheville. Thank you so much for your help, Carolyn. With Carolyn's help we're just $1300 short of paying off our bills for the year; in fact, they'll be payed up until next June.

We got to talking about dead Presidents in group the other day; and I said my favorite was the only President of the United States, who was never the President of the United States. I'm talking about my favorite revolutionary, old, Ben Jamin' Franklin. If I could just get a bunch of you to send me all the pictures of old Ben that you might be carrying in your wallet or purse or in your husband's or wife's wallet or purse or your mommy or daddy's wallet or purse and send them to me, I could stop begging for the rest of the year!

Seriously, if you think what we do for you week after week, year and after year, should be supported and encouraged, then please go to the donation's page and follow the simple directions; and thanks! Remember, we do all of this for you and yours, so you can know what the truth is, so you can figure out what to do about it! Is the truth important to you, America? It's very important to us!


08-16-1928 ~ 08-10-2013
Thanks for the songs!

02-20-1945 ~ 08-11-2013
Thanks for the laughs!

06-25-1946 ~ 08-14-2013
Thanks for the songs and "Don't Fear The Reaper!"


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) 2013 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for the last 12 years managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. Visit the Magazine's page on Facebook and like us when you do. Follow me on Twitter.

'The Con' Is Leaving A Trail Of Blood Across The Planet
By Greg Palast

A lot of smug British pricks and US liberals really hate America's love-your-gun laws. They tell us to outlaw these kill machines. Unless you're an Aleut moose-hunting in Alaska for food, then you don't need no fucking weapon under your pillow because robbers and insane baby-kidnappers and the fascist fairy guv-mint isn't really coming to get you.

The theory goes that if we outlaw guns, or at least require freaks, madmen and mass-murderers to register their names with the federal government, we can stop all that crazy-ass shit like the nutcase who killed those school kids in Connecticut and the other guy with the automatic pistols who shot up that theatre in Colorado that was showing Batman.

"Outlaw unregistered guns." That seems reasonable.

But it isn't reasonable. The idea of outlawing gun ownership to stop killing will be as effective as the laws outlawing smoking weed and the laws that for centuries stopped people of the same gender licking each others' private parts.

Hell, our President said he, "did a little blow" - a felony crime. Hey, I did a little blow too (well, actually, a lot of blow), so committing felony crimes is kind of, like, who gives a shit.

But somehow, the Better People, usually those who've "done a little blow" or licked genitals proscribed by law or at least thought about it, are telling us that there should be laws requiring Lower Orders to give up their guns.

It's all bullshit, of course. More laws outlawing, restricting, registering guns would be about as effective as laws outlawing, restricting and registering guys who cheat on their wives.

It's a con. And I hate The Con.

"The Con" is the game politicians, priests, bigmouths at parties, TV hosts, failing celebrities and Al Gore use to get us to believe that if we just change our ugly, selfish and unsocial behaviours and reduce our carbon footprint, life will be just fine, and no innocents will die.

And now, the Con includes all slogans pushing Austerity. We have to cut government payments to pensioners and food stamps to the hungry because we have been bad, bad children; we spent too much money and took out loans from banks we can't pay back, and we've made the bankers cry. Ever seen a banker cry? It will break your fucking little heart, you greedy little pension-taking, breakfast-eating, Greek-ish shitbug.

Fact: Most of the maniacs who've gone on mass killing sprees in the US, UK and Eurozone have something in common. It's not guns. It's anti-depressants. Prescribed medicine. "A little blow" for the psyche. Mother's little helpers that are now mother's little boy's helpers.

I'm not saying we should eliminate chemical relief for the deeply depressed. But maybe we'd all be safer from berserker killers if we could outlaw men over 30 living at home with their mums.

Or maybe outlaw the Western fear of loneliness that makes homicide preferable to solitude.

Or maybe outlaw the awkwardness of intimacy that afflicts those coming of age who have tweeted and texted and messaged and don't have any fucking idea what happens when two humans meet in the flesh.

Let's outlaw a President who gets a stiffy on "Terror Tuesdays" when he goes over the drone kill list and outlaw prime ministers who cream-dream of privatisations the way lonely men dream of harems.

I'm often on radio shows from what's called, "The American Heartland," the middle stuff that fills the gap between Los Angeles and New York. And I listen to hysterical men certain that the federal "guv-mint" and the United Nations and Big Banks are coming to take away their freedom and their guns.

They're nuts, of course, but not in the way you smug shits on the Coast and in London think they're nuts. They're wrong because the guv-mint has already taken their freedoms, the banks have already taken their tiny bits of wealth. But their guns are safe. Because the banks and the guv-mint owned by the banks know the tough guys with guns are really just a bunch of pussies, a bunch of weaklings, who will never, in fact, use those guns.

It's all bluster, no bullets. All bullshit, no bollocks.

Hell, you get a couple of guys like Pvt. Manning and Ed Snowden to stand up to the Powers, and they get locked up with not a shot fired from the anti-guv-mint gun-strokers.

I remember the radio screeds from the Heartland, from the macho populists of the Plaines States, when George Bush lied us into an invasion of Iraq. All these Don't-you-take-my-gun radio hosts ranted and raved about "the Wall Street war by an unelected President". But their listeners - the ones waiting for the helicopters to come with their blue helmet crews to take their guns - hell, they didn't fire one shot against the Bush junta. In fact, they dutifully packed off their sons to Iraq and if they came back in a box they called them "heroes".

So, what's a poor journalist to do in the face of The Con and the deadly madness leaving a trail of blood across the planet, from Connecticut classrooms to mortar-mangled Syrian schoolhouses?

I type.

When the alcohol just doesn't do it no more and the anti-depressants seem like a useless chemical blindfold and television and tweeting don't cure the blues and despite a trillion dollars in advertised happiness, I just don't know what to do but... type.

So I typed this.
(c) 2013 Greg Palast is author of the New York Times bestseller, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Armed Madhouse and the highly acclaimed Vultures' Picnic, named Book of the Year 2012 on BBC Newsnight Review.

A Federation - Why Not?
By Uri Avnery

AVRAHAM BURG (58) was a member of the Labor Party and for some time the Chairman of the Knesset. His late father was a long-time cabinet minister and a leader of the National-Religious Party, before it became a rabid messianic mob. The relations between Burg sr. and me were quite friendly, largely because we were the only two German-born members of the Knesset.

Burg jr., who still wears the kippah of an observant Jew, joined the Labor Party and was a member of the "eight doves," a moderate grouping in the party.

Last week Haaretz published an article in which Burg proposed linking the "two-state solution" with a two-state federation. He used the metaphor of a building, the first floor of which would consist of human rights, the second floor would host the two states, Israel and Palestine, and the third the federation.

This brought a lot of memories to my mind.

IN THE spring of 1949, immediately after the signing of the original armistice agreements between the new State of Israel and the Arab countries which had intervened in the war, a group was formed in Israel to advocate the setting up of a Palestinian state next to Israel, and the signing of a covenant between the two nations.

At the time, that idea was considered heretical, since the very existence of a Palestinian people was strenuously denied in Israel.

The group consisted of a Muslim Arab, a Druze Arab and me. After some time, when our attempts to form a new party failed to get off the ground, the group dispersed. (Curiously enough, all three of us later became members of the Knesset.)

We were of one mind concerning a salient point: the borders between the two states must be open for the free movement of people and goods. We did not use the word "federation", but something like that was on our minds.

After the 1956 Suez war, a new group took up the idea. It was founded by Nathan Yalin-Mor and me and attracted an impressive array of intellectuals, writers and artists. Yalin-Mor was the former leader of the Fighters for the Freedom of Israel, branded by the British as the most extreme Jewish terrorist organization and known to them as the "Stern Gang."

We called ourselves "Semitic Action" and published a document, "The Hebrew Manifesto", which I still think was and has remained unique: a complete, detailed blueprint for a different State of Israel. It contained among many other things the plan for the establishment of an Arab-Palestinian state alongside Israel, and a federation between Israel, Palestine and Jordan, to be called "the Jordan Union".

In the 1970s, Abba Eban floated the idea of a Benelux-type solution, a name derived from the federation-like arrangement between Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxemburg. To my surprise, when I first met with Yasser Arafat during the siege of Beirut in 1982, he used the very same term: "A federation between Israel, Palestine and Jordan, and perhaps Lebanon too -why not?" He repeated the same idea, in the same words, at our last meeting, just before his mysterious death.

In the course of time, I dropped the word "federation". I had come to the conclusion that it frightened both sides too much. Israelis feared that it meant diminishing the sovereignty of Israel, while Palestinians suspected that it was another Zionist ruse to keep up the occupation by other means. But it seems clear that in a small land like historical Palestine, two states cannot live side by side for any length of time without a close relationship between them.

It must be remembered that the original UN partition plan included a kind of federation, without using the word explicitly. According to the plan, the Arab and the Jewish states were to remain united in an economic union.

THE WORLD is full of federations and confederations, and no two are alike. Each one is a unique structure, formed by local circumstances and history. All are based on a covenant -foedus in Latin, hence the term.

The terrible US civil war was fought out between a federation (the North) and a confederation (the South). The federation was conceived as a close union with a strong central government, the confederation as a loose cooperation between semi-independent states.

The list is long. Switzerland calls itself a confederation. Post-Soviet Russia is a federation. Germany is a "federal republic", and so on.

A federation between Israel and Palestine, with or without Jordan, will have to find its own character, according to its unique circumstances.

But the main point is timing.

Since Burg likened his proposal to a building, it follows that it must be built floor after floor, from the bottom up. That's how I see it too.

The first floor is the two-state solution. This must be implemented first of all. Any idea about what may come after is meaningless without it.

This means the foundation of the State of Palestine along the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, as a free, independent and sovereign nation-state of the Palestinian people.

As long as this basic idea is not implemented, and the solution of all the connected problems ("core issues") agreed upon, nothing else has much meaning.

The occupation is a bleeding wound, and it has to be healed in the framework of peace before everything else. There can be no meaningful talk about federation between oppressor and oppressed. Federation presumes partners of equal status, if not of equal strength.

The two-state solution promises peace -at least the formal peace that puts an end to the hundred-year old conflict. Once this peace is achieved, one can -and should - think about the next stage, the deepening of the peace and turning it into a day-to-day reality that shapes people's lives.

LET'S ASSUME that this round of negotiations, or some future round, will lead to a formal peace treaty, and an end to all mutual claims, as John Kerry puts it. It's then that the idea of federation should be considered.

What do we have in mind? A close federation or a loose confederation? What functions are the two sides ready - of their own free will - to transfer from the national to the federal level?

Most probably, Israel will not give up its freedom of decision-making concerning its relations with the world-wide Jewish Diaspora and immigration. The same is true for Palestine's relation to the Arab world and the return of refugees.

What about foreign relations in general? I believe that in all existing federations and confederations, the central authority is in charge of these. In our situation this constitutes a problem. Military and security matters are even more problematic.

As I see it, a federation will be mostly concerned with economic matters, matters of human rights, freedom of movement and such.

But the main point is this: the negotiations between the State of Israel and the State of Palestine concerning a federation must be free of pressure, conducted in good faith between equals.

WILL THIS be the end of the road to real peace? I like to think that these are only the first few steps.

If the two-state solution is the first floor, and the federation is the second, one may imagine that the third floor will be a regional union, on the lines of the present European Union.

With the current turmoil in our region, it is hard to imagine that the Arab Spring will lead to any kind of stability. But our memory is short. The EU was the direct offspring of the most terrible of all wars -World War II, with millions of Europeans among the casualties.

A regional organization (I used to call it a "Semitic Union") that includes Israel and Palestine will be advantageous to all partners in a world where regional groupings are playing an ever expanding role.

But the crown of a new order will be some kind of world governance, which is sorely needed even now. I am fairly sure that it will come into being before this century is over. This is no more utopian than was the idea of a European union a hundred years ago, when a handful of far-sighted idealists first brought it up.

At this point in time, there are a host of problems that can no longer be solved on the national, or even regional, level. The saving of our planet from environmental catastrophe. The regulation of a globalized economy. The prevention of wars and civil wars. The safeguarding of human rights everywhere. The achievement of real equality for women. The protection of minorities. The ending of hunger and diseases. All these need a new world order.

Such an order will necessarily be similar to a worldwide federation. This need not mean the disappearance of nation-states. These will probably continue to exist, as they exist today within the European Union, but with diminished sovereignty.

Can such a world order be democratic? It must be. Some day, humankind will elect a world parliament, as Europeans today elect a European parliament which is steadily taking on new responsibilities.

THESE ARE dreams for the future, though it is worthwhile to think about them even now.

But for us, in this small country, the task for today is to achieve peace -the peace between two nations living in harmony in two sister-states.
(c) 2013 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Stand Your Ground And Beyond: The Whole Criminal Justice System Is Arrayed Against Blacks
By Glen Ford

In 1926, Langston Hughes asked the question, "What happens to a dream deferred?" The poem, originally titled "Harlem," presciently warned of an explosion among the Black masses, an event that followed nine years later, in Harlem, the first of the modern urban Black rebellions. Hughes was describing a crisis of legitimacy, in which African Americans despaired of a system that promised far more than it delivered.

Another such crisis reared in 1963, says Dr. Anthony Monteiro, professor of African American studies at Temple University, when the "Birmingham movement represented a great alienation of the majority of Black people from the system, itself, and therefore something had to give." The 1963 March on Washington demanded, and eventually got, a Voting Rights Act and a host of democratic reforms that made some aspects of "the dream" accessible to large segments of Black America.

Fifty years later, in the wake of the Zimmerman verdict, according to Monteiro, "the relationship of the Black Nation to the American establishment is a tenuous one, in which a majority of Black people have deep questions about our relationship to the system, itself" - a crisis of legitimacy. But, this time, a decaying capitalist system offers nothing to ameliorate the Black condition. It has already shot its wad by delivering what was, for many Blacks, the greatest prize that the Wall Street plutocracy can offer: a Black presidency. Yet, the "technically Black" man in the White House, as historian Paul Street describes Barack Obama, will do nothing but affirm that he feels the pain of his African American constituents, since "a jury has spoken."

The broad masses of Black people see clearly - with horror - that the system, itself, has spoken, and that the verdict reflects the unreconstructed worldview of white America, two-thirds of whom view Trayvon Martin's killing as justifiable - which means, quite simply, that any Black life can justifiably be taken. How can we live with these people? This existential question has confronted every generation since there has been such a thing as African Americans, and once again assumes its place of primacy in the Black consciousness.

The Zimmerman jury rendered a verdict on America, one that confirms Malcolm X's 1964 assessment: "I don't see any American dream. I see an American nightmare!" The spread of Stand Your Ground laws - murder-with-impunity legislation - to nearly half the states of the Union signals that a new Confederacy has risen in which "coon hunting" is always in season. Mass Black incarceration, the collective white response to the Black Freedom Movement of the Sixties, has proven insufficient to satisfy mass white passions to expunge Black people from the national landscape - to somehow, even at this late stage in America's demographic development, reestablish the United States as a White Man's Country.

Before the Zimmerman verdict, and the favorable mass white response, it was possible for the accommodationists of the Black Misleadership Class to practice the useless politics of "ceaselessly commemorating the victories of the Sixties," as BAR's Bruce Dixon describes them. Now they must hustle to weather the system's crisis of legitimacy by diverting Black rage down avenues that do not threaten their own relationships with Power.

Stand Your Ground laws are the easy target. The current crop of so-called "Shoot First" legislation first took root in Florida, a project of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), in 2005 - two years before Barack Obama announced his candidacy for president. This is noteworthy, since pundits of both races attempt to link the laws to white fear of a Black man in the White House. Such an analysis removes Stand Your Ground from the two generations-long national criminal justice offensive against Black people. Things have not been "getting better" for African Americans under the U.S. criminal justice system, as Barack Obama claims. Rather, police state oppression has intensified, especially for poorer Blacks.

It should never be forgotten that nearly half the Congressional Black Caucus supported the 1986 drug law that established a 100:1 sentencing ratio for crack versus powdered cocaine. The Black Misleadership Class of accommodationists and deal makers have failed to honor even the vestiges of the old, intra-Black social compact, by which they were allowed to speak for The Race while indulging in their individual strivings as long as they looked out for the interests of the rest of us. They can be expected to perform no better, in the current crisis. This month's 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, overseen by Al Sharpton and the NAACP, will mix celebration of past victories with apologies for Obama, who has presided over economic catastrophe for African Americans and completed the erasure of any semblance of due process and the rule of law for everyone.

The young people of Dream Defenders, presently occupying Florida's governor's office, understand that Stand Your Ground laws are part of the larger problem. "The media is not telling the full story," said Steven Pargett, a Dream Defender spokesperson, in Tallahassee. He says the teach-in is working on "a full legislative package to challenge the criminalization of our generation," including the school to prison pipeline.

That's a start. The central problem with the American criminal justice system is that white supremacist assumptions are deeply embedded in its operations and deliberations. The presumption of innocence is no match for pervasive assumptions of collective Black guilt, which are manifest at every stage of the system, beginning with police hyper-surveillance of Black communities - the intake valve that leads inexorably to mass Black incarceration and the extrajudicial murder of Blacks on the streets, mainly by cops but occasionally by George Zimmermans.

The Age of Mass Black Incarceration, now entering its third generation, has spawned successive layers of repressive laws, police practices, and prosecutorial and judicial behavior that have effectively eviscerated Black people's Constitutional rights. Our communities are Constitution-free zones, and the stigma of guilt attaches to each of our persons. White electorates reward those who put Black people - as a group - on perpetual lockdown.

It must be stressed that this reign of criminal justice terror has taken place in the absence of any Black mass movement worthy of the name. I believe it has occurred precisely because there is no such movement - that the forces of white supremacy have been emboldened by Black passivity.

It is, of course, necessary to challenge Stand Your Ground Laws, but this must be just one front in the war against the legitimacy of a criminal justice system that is fundamentally hostile to the Black presence in the United States. What is required is a mass movement that does not accept the verdict of white people; that speaks loudly in the language of the street: Get up off of us!

If white fear of Blacks is justification for an oppressive criminal justice system, then let's give them something to really be afraid of. The response could not possibly be worse than the whipping we have taken so passively, for the last 40 years.
(c) 2013 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

Memo From Oslo: If Peace Is Prized, A Nobel For Bradley Manning
By Norman Solomon
The headquarters of the Nobel Committee is in downtown Oslo on a street named after Henrik Ibsen, whose play "An Enemy of the People" has remained as current as dawn light falling on the Nobel building and then, hours later, on a Fort Meade courtroom where Bradley Manning's trial enters a new stage-defense testimony in the sentencing phase.

Ibsen's play tells of mendacity and greed in high places: dangerous threats to public health. You might call the protagonist a whistleblower. He's a physician who can't pretend that he hasn't seen evidence; he rejects all the pleas and threats to stay quiet, to keep secret what the public has a right to know. He could be content to take an easy way, to let others suffer and die. But he refuses to just follow orders. He will save lives. There will be some dire consequences for him.

The respectable authorities know when they've had enough. Thought crimes can be trivial but are apt to become intolerable if they lead to active transgressions. In the last act, our hero recounts: "They insulted me and called me an enemy of the people." Ostracized and condemned, he offers final defiant words before the curtain comes down: "I have made a great discovery. ... It is this, let me tell you-that the strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone."

Alone Bradley Manning will stand as a military judge proclaims a prison sentence.

In truth, the Nobel Peace Prize needs Bradley Manning much more than the other way around.

As I write these words early Monday, sky is starting to lighten over Oslo. This afternoon I'll carry several thousand pages of a petition-filled with the names of more than 100,000 signers, along with individual comments from tens of thousands of them-to an appointment with the Research Director of the Norwegian Nobel Committee. The petition urges that Bradley Manning be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Like so many other people, the signers share the belief of Nobel Peace laureate Mairead Corrigan-Maguire who wrote this summer: "I can think of no one more deserving."

Opening heart and mind to moral responsibility-seeing an opportunity to provide the crucial fuel of information for democracy and compassion-Bradley Manning lifted a shroud and illuminated terrible actions of the USA's warfare state. He chose courage on behalf of humanity. He refused to just follow orders.

"If there's one thing to learn from the last ten years, it's that government secrecy and lies come at a very high price in blood and money," Bradley Manning biographer Chase Madar wrote. "And though information is powerless on its own, it is still a necessary precondition for any democratic state to function."

Bradley Manning recognized that necessary precondition. He took profound action to nurture its possibilities on behalf of democracy and peace.

No doubt a Nobel Peace Prize for Bradley Manning is a very long longshot. After all, four years ago, the Nobel Committee gave that award to President Obama, while he was escalating the war in Afghanistan, and since then Obama's dedication to perpetual war has become ever more clear.

Now, the Nobel Committee and its Peace Prize are in dire need of rehabilitation. In truth, the Nobel Peace Prize needs Bradley Manning much more than the other way around.

No one can doubt the sincere dedication of Bradley Manning to human rights and peace. But on Henrik Ibsen Street in Oslo, the office of the Nobel Committee is under a war cloud of its own making.
(c) 2013 Norman Solomon is co-founder of and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death" and "Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State."

Motorcycling An Anti-Woman Agenda Into Law

Basketball hall-of-famer Charles Barkley says: "I was a Republican until they lost their minds." Welcome to North Carolina, where the governor's office, the state senate, and the state house have been turned into loony bins of Republican screwballism.

We know from the not-too-distant past that it actually is possible to be both sane and a Republican, but don't go looking for that combo in the Capitol complex of the Tar Heel State. Far-right-wing zealots have seized complete control of the government, and - Yahooooo! - what a clown show they're putting on. Any program that helps the middle class or the poor - whack it! Any scheme that further-enriches-and-empowers corporate plutocrats - enact it! Any rule or normal procedure that's in the way of their zaniness - run over it!

In July, for example, the rampaging ideologues decided it would be a hoot to punch women in the face with a new law taking away their reproductive rights and nearly all of their health clinics. But running such a divisive and unpopular policy shift through the legislative process can get very messy, for women (and many men) would rebel, protest, and make a fuss. But hey, shouted the clowns, people can't fuss if they don't know we're doing it to them.

So - BAM! - without any notice, much less public hearings - senators grabbed a silly bill dealing with the right-wing bugaboo of Sharia law, tacked their repressive abortion agenda to it, and rammed it through in 18 hours. Then, the wacky boys in the House grabbed, of all things, a motorcycle safety bill and piled the abortion stuff onto it - again without any public notice or participation. They even called it a "safety" bill. What fun!

Less fun for those buffoons, though, is that they're now being confronted around the state by protesters wearing motorcycle helmets.
(c) 2013 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.

Past Wars On Indians Aren't Even Past
By David Swanson

Hammer in hand, one sees nails everywhere. Successful unpunished genocide at home in hand, the Pentagon sees Indian Country on six continents. But don't imagine the U.S. military is finished with the original Indian Country yet, including Native American reservations and territories, and including the places where the rest of us now live.

Compare and contrast:

Exhibit 1 from the New York Times:

"Mr. Obama embraced a disputed method for counting civilian casualties that did little to box him in. It in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent."

Exhibit 2 from a U.S. Army dispatch in 1864:

"All Apache . . . large enough to bear arms who may be encountered in Arizona will be slain whenever met unless they give themselves up as prisoners."

Donald Rumsfeld gave a speech at Fort Carson with cavalry troops on horseback dressed in Indian-killing outfits behind him, as he praised troops in Iraq for living up to the legend of Kit Carson -- a man who marched hundreds of human beings to a camp later used as a model for the Nazis'.

Osama bin Laden was renamed by the U.S. military, Geronimo.

Winona LaDuke's The Militarization of Indian Country tells a history that isn't over, and describes a scene that cannot escape from its past. Like Coleman Smith's and Clare Hanrahan's survey of the militarization of the Southeast, LaDuke's survey of militarized Indian Country piles up numerous outrages to convey a picture of purposeful devastation on a stunning scale.

Many Native Americans live in places called Fort This or Fort That, keeping ever present the concentration camps these places were. They remain among the poorest and most environmentally devastated sacrifice zones in the United States.

"The modern U.S. military," LaDuke writes, "has taken our lands for bombing exercises and military bases, and for the experimentation and storage of the deadliest chemical agents and toxins known to mankind. Today the military continues to bomb Native Hawaiian lands, from Makua to the Big Island, destroying life." Later, LaDuke summarizes: "From the more than a thousand nuclear weapons tests in the Pacific and the Nevada desert that started in the 1940s, obliterating atolls and spreading radioactive contamination throughout the ocean and across large areas in the American West, to the Vietnam War-era use of napalm and Agent Orange to defoliate and poison vast swaths of Vietnam, to the widespread use of depleted uranium and chemical weaponry since that time, the role of the U.S. military in contaminating the planet cannot be overstated."

In Alaska, 700 active and abandoned military sites include 1,900 toxic hot spots. People forget the seriousness of a failed plan to create a harbor in Alaska by dropping a series of nuclear bombs. Some of the actions that have in fact been taken have been only moderately less destructive than that proposal.

Uranium mines, depleted uranium testing, and nuclear waste storage have done as much or more damage to Indian Country as nuclear bomb testing. U.S. nuclear weapons are largely located in Native American territories, as well. If the Great Sioux Nation were in control of its 1851 treaty areas, LaDuke writes, "it would be the third greatest nuclear weapons power on the face of the earth."

Many Native Americans recognize in current U.S. foreign wars echoes of wars against the Indian nations. And yet, American Indians have the highest military enlistment rate of any ethnic group and the largest number of living veterans (about 22 percent of Native Americans aged 18 or over). "How," LaDuke asks, "did we move from being the target of the U.S. military to being the U.S. military itself?" Native Americans also suffer from PTSD at higher rates than other groups -- supposedly due to higher rates of combat, but just conceivably also because of greater cognitive dissonance.

I admit to finding a little of the latter even in LaDuke's wonderful book. She claims that sometimes there are "righteous reasons to fight." She opposes militarism but wants veterans to be honored. I'm writing this from a national convention of Veterans For Peace where I know numerous veterans would reject the idea that veterans should be honored. What veterans should do is organize more Native Americans and other Americans together into a movement for the abolition of militarism as well as the righting of past wrongs so that they will not any longer be repeated.
(c) 2013 David Swanson is the author of "War Is A Lie."

Did A Natural Disaster Spark The Dark Ages?
By James Donahue

There is a relatively new book by British historian David Keys circulating that suggests the Dark Ages were caused, or at least helped along by a natural disaster of such magnitude that it altered human behavior for the next one thousand years.

The Dark Ages is a name for a long period of European history ranging from at about the time of the fall of the Roman Empire in the First Century to the beginning of the Renaissance in the 12th Century AD. It is called a dark period because it was a time when European people lacked stability in government and consequently fell under the rule of the Roman Catholic Church.

Lacking the refinement and culture that was brought to the area under Roman rule, civilization at that time is remembered as barbaric in its nature. After the refinements of the Roman and Greek periods, the Dark or Middle Ages are marked as a thousand years of silence. No great thought, music, invention or human advancement is known to have sprung from this time.

Until Keys raised the question, however, historians seemed to have overlooked the suggestion that there might have been something abnormal about a culture that plunged so completely into barbaric obscurity after existing under the light of the refined cultures introduced to Europe by the Greeks and later the Romans.

Another theory has involved the economic collapse of the Roman Empire, which literally included the entire known world at that time.

Keyes' book suggests that a major cataclysmic event, such as a powerful volcanic eruption or a meteor strike that sent enough dust and ash into the stratosphere to dim the sunlight for several years, might have turned human history into a form of chaos.

Indeed, some historical accounts of the time indicate that the sun actually became dim and the Earth got colder in the year 535. The Roman historian Procupius wrote that "the sun gave forth its light without brightness. . . for the whole year." A Chinese record states that "yellow dust rained down like snow."

People who study such things confirm that a sulfuric fall-out appears in ice cores, drilled from the ice sheets in both Greenland and Antarctica, suggesting that a major volcanic eruption occurred at about this time in history. Pinpointing the material to an exact year, however, is difficult to do.

Keys also attempts to use a study of tree rings to show a cooling for a period of several years, although just where he found someone who was an expert on 2,000-year-old tree trunks is not clear.

A more interesting argument is the onset of the bubonic plague during this time, which Keys believes was caused by a breeding explosion of rats in East Africa. This, he believes, was brought about by a massive increase in normal rainfall. The moist climate altered the balance between the plague-carrying rats and their predators.

Keys notes that the plague was killing people in Alexandria in 541 AD, and it was apparently spread from there, via ships plying the Red Sea to Constantinople where an estimated 900,000 people were eradicated in less than 100 years.

The author also argues that the climate changes also created famine, which collapsed the old empires. This opened the door to invasions of the barbarian tribes from the east, and consequently brought on a long period of warfare and civil unrest. This, Keys believes, is the root of the civil phenomenon we now call the Dark Ages.

So just what happened in 535 AD that would cause such a catastrophic disruption of the advance of civilization?

Keyes suggests a very large volcanic eruption, something even larger than the great blast of Krakatoa that sunk ships and killed civilians caught within hundreds of miles of the volcano in 1883. This famous eruption between the islands of Sumatra and Java send ash and smoke into the stratosphere that, indeed, dimmed the light and brought brilliant sunsets all over the world for months. It is Keys suggestion that the villain in the year 535 also may have been Krakatoa, which erupted with an even more powerful blast.

The concept of social and economic changes brought about by catastrophe certainly is not a new one. Historians have been coming up with various theories, ranging from a meteorite collision to a pole shift for the sudden extinction of the dinosaurs. Then there is Immanuel Velikovsky, who theorized in the 1950s that the Earth was once in collision with a maverick planet.

Indeed, the cause of the one-thousand-year period of war, barbarism, and mass suffering by the illiterate masses throughout Europe is not an easy riddle to solve when looked at it in the light of contemporary religious and social belief systems.

J. S. Chiappalone, author of various books condoning Gnosticism and explaining his version of the current condition of the world, suggests an entirely different reason for the period of dark history. He argues that the world has been under the control of evil forces for so long that people believe war, corruption, violence and disease is a status quo.

In his book The Kingdom of Zion, Chiappalone quotes historian Charles Van Doren who declares "a large part of mankind's ingenuity has gone into inventing new ways of killing and torturing other human beings, and the threat of pain of death has been found to be the best, and often the only, means of ruling large numbers of people."

Describing the so-called "civilizations" that arose in Egypt, Mesopotamia, Persia, India and China, Van Doren said "these empires gave their people law, which is to say, a measure of peace and security against the violence of other people like themselves. But they provided no security against the rulers themselves, who ruled by violence and guile."

Chiappalone then goes on to point out that throughout known history, nothing has changed. Even though there has been an occasional flowering of great nations, mankind has never really evolved from the barbaric character he was when it all began. We in the United States, Europe, and Asia have demonstrated this over and over again in our actions, right up to modern times.

Chiappalone asks: "Have there been less wars, less carnage, less torture, less violence, more civilization in this century than existed thousands of years ago? If anything, there have been far more. This has been described by many and confirmed by the number of deaths to be the most violent century in known human history."

Looking at the world from Chiappalone's perspective we must conclude that the dark ages never ended.
(c) 2013 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

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Advisor Elizabeth Warren speaks at the Reuters Future Face of Finance Summit

Next Fed Head Should Meet The Bernie Sanders/Elizabeth Warren Standard
By John Nichols

No presidential appointment, no Senate confirmation, matters more than the one that will soon come for the post of chairman of the Federal Reserve.

If ever there was a time to ask for more-and better-this is it.

Yet, for the most part, official Washington is on autopilot, preparing for the replacement of outgoing Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke with another predictable insider-perhaps even the ultimate predictable insider: former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers.

President Obama, who says he will make his selection this fall, has defended Summers. A number of prominent Democratic senators have suggested that the president consider a more appealing prospect: Janet Yellen, the vice chair of the board of governors of the Fed.

But not everyone is satisfied with predictable prospects, or politics as usual.

Senators Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, and Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, keep making the right demands and asking the right questions.

Several weeks ago, Sanders suggested that, instead of narrowing the choice to Summers-and Yellen-Obama should be considering a wider range of contenders, including Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz or former Labor Secretary Robert Reich.

There's every reason to talk up Stiglitz and Reich.

But, no matter who the nominee is, Sanders and Warren argue this week in a Huffington Post column that "the next Fed chair will have an opportunity to get our economy back on track and to help rebuild America's middle class. But that will require the right temperament and a willingness to take on Wall Street CEOs when necessary. It is critical that the next Fed chair make a genuine, long-term commitment to supporting those who don't have armies of lobbyists and lawyers to advance their interests in Washington-working and middle-class families."

To that end, the senators have developed a set of questions that need to be answered by whomever is chosen to replace Bernanke.

To wit:

1. Do you believe that the Fed's top priority should be to fulfill its full employment mandate?

2. If you were to be confirmed as chair of the Fed, would you work to break up "too-big-to-fail" financial institutions so that they could no longer pose a catastrophic risk to the economy?

3. Do you believe that the deregulation of Wall Street, including the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act and exempting derivatives from regulation, significantly contributed to the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression?

4. What would you do to divert the $2 trillion in excess reserves that financial institutions have parked at the Fed into more productive purposes, such as helping small- and medium-sized businesses create jobs?

These are telling questions, especially for Summers who, for instance, played a critical role in "the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act" that is mentioned in Question 3.

So be it.

No one should head the Fed if they cannot provide the right answers-"yes" to the first three queries, and specifics for number 4-to all the questions being asked by the senators who have refused to bow to the bankers.
(c) 2013 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 published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

A guard walks past prisoner cells at a Connecticut Supermax facility.

America's Disappeared
By Chris Hedges

Big Frankie, Little Frankie and Al, three black men who spent a lot of time in prison and have put their lives back together in the face of joblessness, crushing poverty and the violence of city streets, abruptly stopped appearing at the prison support group I help run at the Second Presbyterian Church in Elizabeth, N.J. This happens in poor neighborhoods. You see people. You make plans to see them again. And then without explanation they vanish. They get arrested for something, often trivial, after the police randomly stop them, run a check and find they owe fines, missed a court date or a meeting with a probation officer, owe child support, violated probation or have a couple of ounces of pot. The big mechanical jaw of the legal system gulps them down. And since they are poor and cannot afford bail they stay locked up. And that appears to be what happened to Big Frankie, Little Frankie and Al.

The rumor on the street is that Little Frankie, whose name is Frank Clarke and who is of Hispanic descent, did not appear for a court date because he was afraid of being deported. But no one is sure, except about the being afraid part. The Union County Jail in Elizabeth says Big Frankie and Al were arrested for "possession of controlled dangerous substances." But this does not mean they had drugs. They might have. But they might not have. Police plant drugs all the time. And if Big Frankie and Al did have drugs they did not have very much.

In America, when you are poor, you can instantly disappear like this into the subterranean rabbit holes of our vast jail and prison complex. You crawl out weeks, months or years later. You try to pick up where you left off. You avoid the cops. You look for work. There is no work. It is a constant cat-and-mouse game the state plays with the poor. The hunters. The hunted. The poor, no matter what they do, are always potential prey, minnows in a sea of sharks. It is not only the masses in the Middle East and the jihadists who despise us for our purported "values." The vast, persecuted underclass, the human refuse callously cast aside by our corporate state, the legions of poor our bankrupt media have rendered invisible, the young, violent street toughs with no education, no jobs, no prospects also see through the empty rhetoric of the power elite when it speaks about our freedoms and democracy.

The arrest of Big Frankie-his legal name is James Gibbs-has rippled through poor sections of Elizabeth with a peculiar pain. Everyone knows what the state does not: Big Frankie, who is in his 40s, is a good man. He is one of the pillars of the drop-in section for the poor and the homeless at St. Joseph Social Service Center, down the street from Second Presbyterian. He normally goes there nearly every day to sort donated clothes. He leads the prayer group. He serves food, and because of his imposing bulk he provides security. He is revered, however, not for his strength and size but his compassion, because he is patient and gentle. When Big Frankie, who has a history of using illegal drugs, first went to prison he thought he was going for a year. But he says that because he "didn't read and write too well" he signed a police confession and consequently was sentenced to 10 years in prison in Leesburg, N.J. He found Jesus while he was incarcerated. He got out in 2001. "The best thing in my life was finding Jesus," he told me. "That's who really saved me. And you know I wake up every morning and I pray. I do my best."

"But you know what I found out when I got in there [prison] is that I lived good," Big Frankie told me when we were having coffee a few days ago before his latest arrest. "I lived just as good in prison as I lived on the street. And that's because I made it that way, not because they made it that way. But I know one thing: I'm not going to go back to find out if I'm going to like it again. And that's what really makes it upsetting because a lot of people really don't want to give people a chance because people tend to go one way, when they should go this way. You know, I decided when I was there that this was the last time I'm coming back. And one of the officers said, 'Yeah, they all say that.' I haven't been back. 'Cause I know I don't want to live like that no more."

"I sold drugs all my life," he said. "It just took me a long time to get caught. But, I don't want to live like that, you know what I'm sayin'? And we sit and we talk, and we talk, and we talk, but nobody is really doing nothin' about it. No one is really telling these young people that 'We did this. You don't have to do it.' ... A lot of them don't want to listen to it."

"I don't know if you know, but Generation X is very serious," said a man who was there with us that morning and who goes by the name of Moses. "I'm 63. I'm older than all these guys. I'm 63. I'm blessed that my seven children, that between my mother and myself, they made it. They got their own homes, their own cars, the family, the whole nine yards, the whole story. They got it like that. But there's a Generation X out there. No one left them anything. No one gave them any education or knowledge about anything. They're doing it on the cuff. This is where they live." He points to his arm. "Right here."

"Living off the cuff means they are reactors," Moses said. "And they are very serious. It needs to be takin' focus. It really seriously needs to be looked at. Something needs to be done. It needs to be done in a hurry, because they're getting ready to react. They'll take lives. They already doin' it. They already doin' it. It's plain. It's simple. It's wide open. But I'm trying to figure out why nobody is takin' focus on this. And we keep talkin' about the black-on-black-no, it ain't the black-on-black crimes. You've got just as many whites, and Italians, and Spanish, and black. You've got all people out there, man. Matter of fact, when I watched the election, the re-election of Obama, let me tell you what I observed. Now I ain't nobody. I saw a lot of young white students that rebelled against the old order of how [Americans] should think as whites."

"The way I was brung up, I was brung up strict," Big Frankie said. "My mother brung me up with an iron fist. I still went this way. So, a lot of times, you could bring your child up strict-'You can't go outside; you can't do this'-but whatever they want to do, they're going to do it when they get on their own. So it's not always-I'm not disagreeing with you, my brother, but it's not always that. A lot of times kids choose to go the wrong way. 'Cause I chose to go the wrong way. It was an easier life. It was easier to get out there and sell drugs. It was easier to rob people, you know what I'm saying?"

"We used to fight, and tomorrow we be friends," Moses said. "My mother wasn't going to a funeral [every week]. Your mother wasn't going to a funeral. Today I'm scared to death. Let me tell you something. I'm old school. I'm scared. I'll be in the house at 7 o'clock. When I come from work, from the church, I go in the house. 'Cause them young boys ain't got no problem with puttin' something hot in you."

"You ever seen an associate of yours laying on the ground with his head open, wide open?" Al, whose full name is Albert Gordon, asked that morning. "Just picture his brain matter on you. Me and my friend, standing this close. I had my son with me; he was like 13 at the time. We was conversating, talking. Seen a truck come around. Wherever I'm at, I always observe my surroundings. Car going around, he go around twice. I say, 'Yo, did y'all peep that car out?' 'Nah, you being paranoid.' I said, 'Something ain't right.' So as I'm getting ready to tell him I'm leaving, I pull my son this way, the car come around, I say, 'Yo, get down.' I grabbed my son. All I heard was boom, and I felt something wet. And, I called my son name and he said, 'Dad, I'm all right.' I look over and my friend is laying there, his head wide open. I got his brain matter all on my face, all on me and shit. Pardon my French. Get us on the bus, coming home police pull the bus over. Had to go back. They questioned me what happened. I said, 'I don't know, me and my son stopped. I was talking to a friend of mine. We started walking, heard a gun go off.' Like I said, in my area [in the old days], we fought with hands, next day we talk, we cool. Now, they shoot and they kill you. They going kill you. If you pull a weapon out, you pull it out to shoot and kill, not to show and tell. It's just-that image [of the murdered man] stayed in my mind and sometimes when I'm talking now I can see it. It's crazy. It's really crazy."

"I done been shot before," Big Frankie said. He lifted his shirt to show the scar from a gunshot wound in his chest. "And even when the guy had the gun on me, I didn't care, you know. It's like I know you, you're not robbing me, and he still shot me."

"A lot of people don't believe that I have changed," said Al, who like his cousin Big Frankie has a past marked by drug abuse. "I knew who had money. I would walk right up on you, 'Could you tell me what time it is?' When you go to look down. ..." Al slammed his fist into his palm.

"If he can change, anybody can change," Big Frankie said of Al.

"I hated myself," Al said. "I took all the mirrors down in my house because I didn't want to look at me. I hated myself. I was one of the worst characters you would want to be around. And I would just sit there and I'd scope. And I would start stuff. Just out of the blue. I didn't like myself. Now I can walk with my head held high. And you know at one time people would give me respect because they feared me. The way I used to be. They give me respect now because they know I'm a changed man."

But there are things Big Frankie, Little Frankie and Al cannot change. They cannot change being black and poor. They cannot change their prison records. They cannot change their powerlessness in the face of oppression. They cannot change the cruelty of corporate capitalism or the racism of the police, who Al says threw him to the ground, kicked him repeatedly in the head and called him a "nigger" as he was being arrested the last time. They cannot change the fact that they were denied an education and are denied work at which they can make a living wage. They cannot change the system. And to the system, Big Frankie, Little Frankie and Al remain what they have always been-the condemned.
(c) 2013 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. He is the author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. His latest book is, ""Death Of The Liberal Class."

Michael Hayden, former head of NSA and CIA, has become a leading media defender of government eavesdropping.

Michael Hayden, Bob Schieffer And The Media's Reverence Of National Security Officials
The former NSA director is held up by the Face the Nation host as an objective authority when he is everything but that
By Glenn Greenwald

In 2006, the New York Times won the Pulitzer Prize for having revealed that the NSA was eavesdropping on Americans without warrants. The reason that was a scandal was because it was illegal under a 30-year-old law that made it a felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison for each offense, to eavesdrop on Americans without those warrants. Although both the Bush and Obama DOJs ultimately prevented final adjudication by raising claims of secrecy and standing, and the "Look Forward, Not Backward (for powerful elites)" Obama DOJ refused to prosecute the responsible officials, all three federal judges to rule on the substance found that domestic spying to be unconstitutional and in violation of the statute.

The person who secretly implemented that illegal domestic spying program was retired Gen. Michael Hayden, then Bush's NSA director. That's the very same Michael Hayden who is now frequently presented by US television outlets as the authority and expert on the current NSA controversy - all without ever mentioning the central role he played in overseeing that illegal warrantless eavesdropping program.

As Marcy Wheeler noted: "the 2009 Draft NSA IG Report that Snowden leaked [and the Guardian published] provided new details about how Hayden made the final decision to continue the illegal wiretapping program even after DOJ's top lawyers judged it illegal in 2004. Edward Snowden leaked new details of Michael Hayden's crime." The Twitter commentator sysprog3 put it this way:

Inviting Hayden to comment on regulation of surveillance is like having Bernie Madoff comment on regulation of Wall Street."

But inviting Hayden to do exactly that is what establishment media outlets do continually. Just yesterday, Face the Nation featured Hayden as the premiere guest to speak authoritatively about how trustworthy the NSA is, how safe it keeps us, and how wise President Obama is for insisting that all of its programs continue. As usual, no mention was made of the role he played in secretly implementing an illegal warrantless spying program aimed directly at the American people. As most establishment media figures do when quivering in the presence of national security state officials, the supremely sycophantic TV host Bob Schieffer treated Hayden like a visiting dignitary in his living room and avoided a single hard question.

But worse than the omission of Hayden's NSA history is his current - and almost always unmentioned - financial stake in the very policies he is being invited to defend. Hayden is a partner in the Chertoff Group, a private entity that makes more and more money by increasing the fear levels of the US public and engineering massive government security contracts for their clients. Founded by former Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff, it's filled with former national security state officials who exploit their connections in and knowledge of Washington to secure hugely profitable government contracts for their clients. As the Huffington Post's Marcus Baram reported:

"After last month's plot to send bombs from Yemen to the United States aboard a cargo plane, former U.S. Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff's whiskerless visage was ubiquitous on cable news. Solemnly warning that the nation needed stronger security procedures ... .

"Almost unmentioned in these appearances: Chertoff has a lot to gain financially if some of these measures are adopted. Between his private consulting firm, The Chertoff Group, and seats on the boards of giant defense and security firms, he sits at the heart of the giant security nexus created in the wake of 9/11, in effect creating a shadow homeland security agency. Chertoff launched his firm just days after President Barack Obama took office, eventually recruiting at least 11 top officials from the Department of Homeland Security, as well as former CIA director General Michael Hayden and other top military brass and security officials... .

"'They're trying to scare the pants off the American people that we need these things," [passenger rights advocate Kate] Hanni told The Huffington Post. 'When Chertoff goes on TV, he is basically promoting his clients and exploiting that fear to make money. Fear is a commodity and they're selling it. The more they can sell it, the more we buy into it. When American people are afraid, they will accept anything.'"

The article further detailed how much of a huge financial stake the Chertoff Group has in scaring the nation about cyber threats and obtaining large NSA contracts relating to cyber-warfare. Hayden's bio at the Chertoff Group says that his focus includes "technological intelligence and counterintelligence (communications and data networks)" and "brief[ing] clients on intelligence matters worldwide - including developments in cybersecurity - that may affect their businesses."

In other words, Hayden has a clear financial stake in the very NSA debates he's put on television to adjudicate. And while he's sometimes identified as a principal of the Chertoff Group, what that means - the conflicts of interest it creates in the very debates in which he's participating - is almost never mentioned. That's because one inviolable rule for establishment TV hosts like Bob Schieffer is that US military officials must be treated with the greatest reverence and must never be meaningfully challenged (contrast that with what actual journalist David Halberstam described as the "proudest moment" of his career: when he stood up in press conferences in 1963 in Vietnam to make clear he knew US generals were lying, to the point that the Pentagon demanded that his New York Times editors remove him from covering the war).

That political figures have undisclosed financial stakes in the policy positions they pretend to favor is so common in Washington that it has become normalized, something its mavens barely recognize as noteworthy. The same is true of former national security officials who exploit their credentials, their connections, and - especially - the Fear of Terrorism to generate massive profits for themselves. But that this manipulation is incredibly common in sleazy Washington does not justify having TV-journalists conceal those conflicts when presenting these officials as authorities and experts. When it comes to people like Michael Hayden, the profoundly unhealthy reverence harbored by TV journalists means that they would never dare utter any such facts. We are thus subjected to "journalism" in which those least qualified to opine, and those with the greatest personal interests in the outcome of debates, are presented as objective experts, while viewers remain entirely uninformed about all of this. Bob Schieffer and "Objectivity"

Since we first began reporting on NSA stories, there has been much debate over who is and is not a "journalist" and whether being a journalist requires "objectivity" (i.e., a pretense to not having opinions). Under this metric, does Bob Schieffer qualify?

Two weeks ago, Schieffer spewed a vicious, one-sided attack on Edward Snowden, accusing him of "putting the nation's security at risk and running away." Echoing Dick Cheney and Rudy Giuliani, Schieffer added:

I know eleven people who died or lost a member of their family on 9/11. My younger daughter lived in Manhattan then. It was six hours before we knew she was safe. I'm not interested in going through that again. I don't know yet if the government has over-reached since 9/11 to reinforce our defenses, and we need to find out. What I do know, though, is that these procedures were put in place and are being overseen by officials we elected and we should hold them accountable.

"I think what we have in Edward Snowden is just a narcissistic young man who has decided he is smarter than the rest of us. I don't know what he is beyond that, but he is no hero. If he has a valid point - and I'm not even sure he does - he would greatly help his cause by voluntarily coming home to face the consequences."

How come you're allowed to have that opinion and be an "objective journalist"? How come none of the people so very upset that those who are reporting on the NSA stories have opinions are objecting to any of that or calling the TV host an "activist"? The answer is clear: "objectivity" in Washington journalism does not mean being free of opinions; it means the opposite: dutifully echoing the official opinions and subjective mindset of those in political power. In the eyes of official Washington and its media mavens, spouting opinions is not a sin. The sin is spouting opinions that deviate from the ones expressed by and which serve the interests of those in power.

Two weeks ago, Schieffer interviewed NSA critic Sen. Mark Udall and told him that his concerns were invalid. "We have laws and all that sort of thing. So the fact that they would have this ability, there's nothing to suggest that they are doing this. And there seem to be a lot of safeguards to prevent them from doing that," Schieffer said. The TV host added: "Fifty-six terror plots here and abroad have been thwarted by the NASA [sic] program. So what's wrong with it, then, if it's managed to stop 56 terrorist attacks? That sounds like a pretty good record." (Schieffer's claims were all false: see, for instance, here, here, and here).

Yesterday, Schieffer led another NSA discussion and invited on three of the most pro-NSA individuals in the country: Hayden, GOP Rep. Peter King, and Democratic Rep. Charles "Dutch" Ruppersberger, whose district includes the NSA and who is the second-largest recipient in Congress of cash from the defense and intelligence industries. No criticisms of the NSA were heard. Instead, Schieffer repeatedly pushed even Hayden to go further in his defense of the NSA and in his attacks on Snowden than Hayden wanted to, asking such tough "questions" like this one, about Obama's proposal to have a "devils' advocate in the FISA court:

"BOB SCHIEFFER: Well-- well let me just cite an example and let's say that the NSA runs across something that they think an attack on the country is imminent--


"BOB SCHIEFFER: --and they want to go into the court and say, 'We got to do this right now.'


"BOB SCHIEFFER: Is it feasible? Is it practical? Is it even possible to say, 'Well, wait, let's-- let's argue this a bit?' I mean it would seem to me that time was of the essence."

They then had this exchange:

"BOB SCHIEFFER: Do you-- do you think, General, that the public understands what it is the NSA is doing?


"BOB SCHIEFFER: They have this large collection of phone numbers, but if I understand it, they're not listening in on people's conversations.


"BOB SCHIEFFER: They don't do that until they do get a court order.

"GENERAL MICHAEL HAYDEN: That's correct, to an American, to target an American."

Actually, Schieffer's NSA defense is factually false - see here and here - but none of that was mentioned. About Snowden, the tough, adversarial TV reporter asked Hayden: "Do you think he is a traitor, would you go that far?" He then ended his prayer session devoted to Hayden with this exchange about the recent proposal in the House to ban the NSA's bulk collection of phone records:

"BOB SCHIEFFER: But would the National security be damaged if that happened?

"GENERAL MICHAEL HAYDEN: Oh, absolutely, absolutely.

"BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, General, it's always good to have you."

Bob Schieffer is a more slavish, shameless spokesman for the NSA than anyone actually employed by that agency. But what one really finds here is a reverence for military officials like Michael Hayden so extreme that it's actually uncomfortable to watch.

A new Pew poll this weekend found that while the US public holds the media in very low esteem, the one function they actually value is having the media serve as a watchdog over political leaders. The percentage of Americans who value this press function has risen considerably this year.

This has happened despite the likes of NSA advocate and government spokesman Bob Schieffer continuing to dominate and shape establishment TV outlets. The fact that his "objectivity" as a journalist would never be questioned by those who raise such issues demonstrates that this concept of journalistic objectivity has only one real purpose: to delegitimize all views other than those that prop up and glorify those who wield the greatest power in US political and financial circles.
(c) 2013 Glenn Greenwald. was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. His most recent book is, With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book "How Would a Patriot Act?," a critique of the Bush administration's use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, "A Tragic Legacy," examines the Bush legacy. He is the recipient of the first annual I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism.

Milton Friedman, Unperson
By Paul Krugman

Recently Senator Rand Paul, potential presidential candidate and self-proclaimed expert on monetary issues, sat down for an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek. It didn't go too well. For example, Mr. Paul talked about America running "a trillion-dollar deficit every year"; actually, the deficit is projected to be only $642 billion in 2013, and it's falling fast.

But the most interesting moment may have been when Mr. Paul was asked whom he would choose, ideally, to head the Federal Reserve and he suggested Milton Friedman - "he's not an Austrian, but he would be better than what we have." The interviewer then gently informed him that Friedman - who would have been 101 years old if he were still alive - is, in fact, dead. O.K., said Mr. Paul, "Let's just go with dead, because then you probably really wouldn't have much of a functioning Federal Reserve."

Which suggests an interesting question: What ever happened to Friedman's role as a free-market icon? The answer to that question says a lot about what has happened to modern conservatism.

For Friedman, who used to be the ultimate avatar of conservative economics, has essentially disappeared from right-wing discourse. Oh, he gets name-checked now and then - but only for his political polemics, never for his monetary theories. Instead, Rand Paul turns to the "Austrian" view of thinkers like Friedrich Hayek - a view Friedman once described as an "atrophied and rigid caricature" - while Paul Ryan, the G.O.P.'s de facto intellectual leader, gets his monetary economics from Ayn Rand, or more precisely from fictional characters in "Atlas Shrugged."

How did that happen? Friedman, it turns out, was too nuanced and realist a figure for the modern right, which doesn't do nuance and rejects reality, which has a well-known liberal bias.

One way to think about Friedman is that he was the man who tried to save free-market ideology from itself, by offering an answer to the obvious question: "If free markets are so great, how come we have depressions?"

Until he came along, the answer of most conservative economists was basically that depressions served a necessary function and should simply be endured. Hayek, for example, argued that "we may perhaps prevent a crisis by checking expansion in time," but "we can do nothing to get out of it before its natural end, once it has come." Such dismal answers drove many economists into the arms of John Maynard Keynes.

Friedman, however, gave a different answer. He was willing to give a little ground, and admit that government action was indeed necessary to prevent depressions. But the required government action, he insisted, was of a very narrow kind: all you needed was an appropriately active Federal Reserve. In particular, he argued that the Fed could have prevented the Great Depression - with no need for new government programs - if only it had acted to save failing banks and pumped enough reserves into the banking system to prevent a sharp decline in the money supply.

This was, as I said, a move toward realism (although it looks wrong in the light of recent experience). But realism has no place in today's Republican Party: both Mr. Paul and Mr. Ryan have furiously attacked Ben Bernanke for responding to the 2008 financial crisis by doing exactly what Friedman said the Fed should have done in the 1930s - advice he repeated to the Bank of Japan in 2000. "There is nothing more insidious that a country can do to its citizens," Mr. Ryan lectured Mr. Bernanke, "than debase its currency."

Oh, and while we're on the subject of debasing currencies: one of Friedman's most enduring pieces of straight economic analysis was his 1953 argument in favor of flexible exchange rates, in which he argued that countries finding themselves with excessively high wages and prices relative to their trading partners - like the nations of southern Europe today - would be better served by devaluing their currencies than by enduring years of high unemployment "until the deflation has run its sorry course." Again, there's no room for that kind of pragmatism in a party in which many members hanker for a return to the gold standard.

Now, I don't want to put Friedman on a pedestal. In fact, I'd argue that the experience of the past 15 years, first in Japan and now across the Western world, shows that Keynes was right and Friedman was wrong about the ability of unaided monetary policy to fight depressions. The truth is that we need a more activist government than Friedman was willing to countenance.

The point, however, is that modern conservatism has moved so far to the right that it no longer has room for even small concessions to reality. Friedman tried to save free-market conservatism from itself - but the ideologues who now dominate the G.O.P. are beyond saving.
(c) 2013 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

"As a people, Americans are remarkably familiar with all facts which make in their own favor. - Whatever makes for the wealth or for the reputation of Americans, and can be had cheap! will be found by Americans.

America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future.

Your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy - a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages.

Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the old world, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival:

There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour." ~~~ Frederick Douglass

Wayne gives the corpo-rat salute

Conservative Ideology No Longer Privately Insured
Two insurance industry reports expose the right's broken logic on gun control and environmentalism
By David Sirota

Stripped down to its fundamentals, the insurance business is the business of assessing risk. Regardless of what is being insured, a successful insurer is one that analyzes the risk of having to pay out benefits, and then adjusts coverage rates to make sure more money is coming in than is going out. The more accurate the assessment of risk, the more financially successful an insurance company tends to be.

Because of this model, private insurance is the conservative ideologue's favored method of assessing danger and managing risk, for it is a purely free-market instrument. Indeed, as a right-wing activist would readily admit, private insurance focuses exclusively on the dollars and cents of actuarial analyses, and it bases prices on data and empiricism, not on fact-free political ideology and poll-tested platitudes.

So, then, what happens when the insurance industry so touted by the conservative movement starts saying things that wholly contradict that movement's talking points?

This is the unanswered question posed by two new insurance-related reports that expose the bankruptcy of the right's environmental extremism and its opposition to gun control.

The first comes from the insurance industry's official think tank, the Geneva Association. Rejecting conservatives' opposition to the fight against climate change, the organization issued a study documenting "a significant upward trend in the insured losses caused by extreme weather events." It concluded that the insurance industry should fight back against the conservative movement's attempts to downplay climate change fears and "play an active role in raising awareness of risk and climate change." It also called for a "transition to a low-carbon economy" and "the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions" because that "will ultimately create a more resilient society."

Then came a dispatch from the Des Moines Register, which reported that the company insuring most Kansas schools "has refused to renew coverage for schools that permit teachers and custodians to carry concealed firearms on their campuses." The announcement was a rebuke to a new Kansas law that responded to the Newtown, Conn., school massacre by permitting gun owners to carry firearms in schools.

In both cases, the insurance industry's free-market analysis of risk - not a fact-free declaration of political ideology - ended up rebuking the conservative talking points of the day. In the climate-change case, for instance, an organization composed of buttoned-down insurance CEOs rejected the right's campaign of do-nothingism and denialism. Likewise, in the gun case, insurance actuaries' evaluation of risk ended up discrediting the arms-race ideology of the NRA's Wayne LaPierre, who infamously called for more guns in schools on the assumption that "the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."

The conservative response to this kind of news is usually a temper tantrum. You know how it goes - Stephen Colbert-like declarations that "reality has a well-known liberal bias" and then claims that it is all a left-wing conspiracy (no doubt, some will cite the insurance industry's reports as proof that the insurance companies are in on the conspiracy!).

But maybe that's not how it will all play out this time around. With the broadsides against the conservative movement now coming from the very private insurance industry that the movement so adores, maybe this can be a moment of change on the right. Maybe - just maybe - conservatives can see that what's really at work here is their own sacred free-market principle of "creative destruction." Only this time around, it is the right's misguided ideology that is being destroyed.
(c) 2013 David Sirota is a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist, magazine journalist and the best-selling author of "Hostile Takeover" and "The Uprising." He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado and blogs at E-mail him at David Sirota is a former spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee. Follow him on Twitter @davidsirota .

Suggested Vacation Reading for President Obama: "Catch-22"
By Amy Goodman

As the Obama family heads to their annual summer vacation on Martha's Vineyard, perhaps the president should take along a copy of "Catch-22" for some beach reading. Joseph Heller's classic, satirical antiwar novel, published in 1961 and based on his experiences as a bombardier in the second world war, is sadly relevant today, as Obama's wars, in Afghanistan and beyond, drag on.

Heller's title refers to a fictional military rule that said you could get out of military duty if you were crazy, but if you requested relief from military duty, you were clearly sane, so must serve. He wrote:

"There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that concern for one's own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr [a pilot in the novel] was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions."

Barack Obama ran as the antiwar alternative when he was a primary challenger to Hillary Clinton, whose nomination as Democratic presidential candidate in 2008 was widely held to be inevitable. It was his October 2, 2002, speech in Chicago where he declared his opposition to the imminent invasion of Iraq, calling it "a dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics." As a U.S. senator, he pledged to filibuster any bill that granted retroactive immunity to large telecommunication corporations that co-operated with the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping of U.S. citizens. And on his first day in office, you might recall, he vowed to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay.

Has Obama ended the war in Iraq? Certainly not for the Iraqis. July was one of the bloodiest months there since the height of the insurgency against the U.S.-imposed Iraqi government. So far this year, more than 4,000 Iraqis have been killed, mostly by bomb blasts that targeted civilians, and close to 10,000 have been injured, in attacks by Sunnis against Shias or vice versa.

On July 22, a military assault was launched against the Abu Ghraib prison, made notorious 10 years ago by the shocking photos of abuse of prisoners at the hands of their US captors. Five hundred prisoners were freed in the course of the attack, including, reportedly, many senior al-Qaeda leaders.

Transparency International has ranked Iraq the seventh-most corrupt government on the planet, narrowly edging out Sudan, Afghanistan, North Korea and Somalia. Thirteen U.S. soldiers were killed in Afghanistan in July, including Specialist Caryn Nouv, a 29-year-old mother of two.

Obama's embrace of the surveillance state is now well-known, following revelations from National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. It was in December 2007 when Obama's Senate office issued a press release stating:

"Senator Obama unequivocally opposes giving retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies and has co-sponsored Senator Dodd's efforts to remove that provision from the FISA bill. Granting such immunity undermines the constitutional protections Americans trust the Congress to protect. Senator Obama supports a filibuster of this bill, and strongly urges others to do the same."

Months later, not only did he not filibuster the bill, he voted for it. Now, President Obama is refusing to meet with President Vladimir Putin in Russia next month, since Putin granted Snowden temporary asylum there.

Then there's Guantanamo. The hunger strike among up to 100 prisoners there, out of the total of 166, has just passed the six-month mark. The Pentagon is force-feeding many of them. Eighty-six have been cleared for release. A majority of the 166 have never been charged, with some held that way for more than 11 years. Despair is said to be rampant among them, so much so that they would rather starve themselves to death than endure more.

"I don't want these individuals to die," Obama said in April. So he has them violently force-fed to keep them alive, uncharged, with no end in sight. Even if the Obama administration releases two prisoners, a plan press secretary Jay Carney revealed last Friday, there will still be 164 prisoners languishing there.

Before heading on vacation, Commander-in-Chief Obama gave a rousing speech to Marines at Camp Pendleton, California. Elsewhere, Pfc Bradley Manning sat for another day of his sentencing hearing.

Heller's protagonist in Catch-22, Captain Yossarian, holds a wounded comrade - named Snowden, coincidentally - who dies in his arms. The experience cements Yossarian's opposition to war. Bradley Manning, too, went to war, and hated what he saw. He took action, leaking documents to spark a national debate.

Heller's depiction of war - grim and stark - was fiction, though based on his own experience. Obama's wars, his drone strikes, his war on whistleblowers, are all too real.
(c) 2013 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 Dead Letter Office...

John gives the corpo-rat salute

Heil Obama,

Dear Staatssekretar Kerry,

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 John (the enforcer) Roberts.

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your total sell out of Palestine to our Zionazi pals, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, Iran and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Demoncratic whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds, presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 09-02-2013. We salute you Herr Kerry, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

Why The Anger?
By Robert Reich

Why is the nation more bitterly divided today than it's been in eighty years? Why is there more anger, vituperation, and political polarization now than even during Joe McCarthy's anti-communist witch hunts of the 1950s, the tempestuous struggle for civil rights in the 1960s, the divisive Vietnam war, or the Watergate scandal?

If anything, you'd think this would be an era of relative calm. The Soviet Union has disappeared and the Cold War is over. The Civil Rights struggle continues, but at least we now have a black middle class and even a black President. While the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been controversial, the all-volunteer army means young Americans aren't being dragged off to war against their will. And although politicians continue to generate scandals, the transgressions don't threaten the integrity of our government as did Watergate.

And yet, by almost every measure, Americans are angrier today. They're more contemptuous of almost every major institution - government, business, the media. They're more convinced the nation is on the wrong track. And they are far more polarized.

Political scientists say the gap between the median Republican voter and the median Democrat is wider today on a whole host of issues than it's been since the 1920s.

Undoubedly, social media play a part - allowing people to pop off without bearing much responsibility for what they say. And most of us can cocoon within virtual or real communities whose members confirm all our biases and assumptions.

Meanwhile, cable news and yell radio compete for viewers and listeners by being ever more strident. Not long ago I debated a Republican economic advisor on a cable TV program. During the brief station-break, the show's producer told me to "be angrier." I told her I didn't want to be angrier. "You have to," she said. "Viewers are surfing through hundreds of channels and will stop for a gladiator contest."

Within this cacophony, we've lost trusted arbiters of truth - the Edward Murrows and Walter Cronkites who could explain what was happening in ways most Americans found convincing.

We've also lost most living memory of an era in which we were all in it together - the Great Depression and World War II - when we succeeded or failed together. In those years we were palpably dependent on one another, and understood how much we owed each other as members of the same society.

But I think the deeper explanation for what has happened has economic roots. From the end of World War II through the late 1970s, the economy doubled in size - as did almost everyone's income. Almost all Americans grew together. In fact, those in the bottom fifth of the income ladder saw their incomes more than double. Americans experienced upward mobility on a grand scale.

Yet for the last three and a half decades, the middle class has been losing ground. The median wage of male workers is now lower than it was in 1980, adjusted for inflation.

In addition, all the mechanisms we've used over the last three decades to minimize the effects of this descent - young mothers streaming into paid work in the late 1970s and 1980s, everyone working longer hours in the 1990s, and then borrowing against the rising values of our homes - are now exhausted. And wages are still dropping - the median is now 4 percent below what it was at the start of the so-called recovery.

Meanwhile, income, wealth, and power have become more concentrated at the top than they've been in ninety years.

As a result, many have come to believe that the deck is stacked against them. Importantly, both the Tea Party and the Occupier movements began with the bailouts of Wall Street - when both groups concluded that big government and big finance had plotted against the rest of us. The former blamed government; the latter blamed Wall Street.

Political scientists have also discovered a high correlation between inequality and political divisiveness.

The last time America was this bitterly divided was in the 1920s, which was the last time income, wealth, and power were this concentrated.

When average people feel the game is rigged, they get angry. And that anger can easily find its way into deep resentments - of the poor, of blacks, of immigrants, of unions, of the well-educated, of government.

This shouldn't be surprising. Demagogues throughout history have used anger to target scapegoats - thereby dividing and conquering, and distracting people from the real sources of their frustrations.

Make no mistake: The savage inequality America is experiencing today is deeply dangerous.
(c) 2013 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, "Beyond Outrage," is now out in paperback. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause. His new film, “Inequality for All," will be out September 27.

Edward Snowden Has Awakened The Sleeping Giant
By Vincent L. Guarisco

"Any sound that Watson made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it... There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment...You had to live -- did live, from habit that became instinct -- in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized." ~~~ George Orwell, 1984

There's no denying Mr. Orwell was a visionary before his time. However, if George was with us today, he would surely cringe (even in darkness) and blush three shades of red if he knew about today's night-vision technology. The following information should send goose bumps rippling across your skin. It did for me. This essay is no science fiction novel. It is real. All societies are in big trouble. We are facing a most egregious situation that extends much further than Orwell's large fictional country -- "Oceania." This is worldwide and, once again, it's real.

Aside from the ongoing destruction of our planet with GMO crops, radiation fallout, chemtrails, fluoride added to our water supplies and a host of other carcinogenic unpleasantries forcing humanity to live in a deadly toxic soup, we now know we are also living under a huge microscope attached to a mammoth NSA vacuum cleaner that is sucking everything up. Thanks to the sobering revelations of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the world has been given a glimpse of the abuse of power (and trust) that our governments have breached. Indeed, the gravity of this "hijacking of humanity" is a crime against "life" itself.

Each moment of our daily existence, 24-7, our every movement and still-frame is being tracked, monitored, recorded and stored by the NSA and/or its affiliates. The implications are vast: faxes, home phones, cellular phones, emails, telex satellite transmissions, fiber-optic communications, microwave links, voice, texts, images and many other things that run on electromagnetic energy and beyond is being sucked-up. Suck, suck, suck...

To no surprise, the western news media, which is nothing more than a propaganda mouthpiece for the state, is performing damage control by attempting to divert attention onto Edward Snowden, himself. Their task is to demonize him as a traitor, while at great risk, not informing us of the vital information he conveys. In addition, his prosecution and probable lengthy prison sentence (for telling the truth) will ultimately be a Big Brother lesson to all future whistleblowers to "stand down."

But thankfully, these days, the world is not so easily fooled. The old switch-and-bait, wag-the-dog tactic is not working so well. This round, the message is not easily lost, twisted nor forgotten. In fact, on the heels of Wikileaks, whole societies are again extremely infuriated by Snowden's eavesdropping revelations. Heads of State fully understand the ramifications of this criminal intrusion on privacy that woefully affects all nations, all people, on all continents.

Just to set the record straight -- we owe this international hero a debt of gratitude for the sacrifices he has made in order to expose this hideous global spy ring. And thus far, the best thank you letter I have read on his behalf is written by Rebecca Solnit, "Prometheus Among the Cannibals: A Letter to Edward Snowden." You can read Rebecca's letter here. Meanwhile, as reported in the Guardian by Glenn Greenwald on August 7, 150 human rights groups from around the world issued a letter demanding that the US cease prosecuting Snowden on the ground that his disclosures have triggered a much-needed public debate about mass surveillance. Thanks to Edward Snowden, we have learned the extent to which our lives are systematically monitored by governments -- without transparency, accountability or safeguards from abuse. However, a lesson in hypocrisy was delivered just the day before on August 6, when President Obama appeared on Jay Leno. With a wide grin, our commander and chief had the audacity to say "There is no spying on Americans, we don't have a domestic spying program."

Well, I beg to differ, Mr. President -- in addition to the many NSA facilities that already exist around the globe -- over a year ago it was reported in Wired that many top-secret clearances were issued for a $2 billion massive NSA Data Collection Center being built in Bluffdale, Utah, a 10-year project of immense secrecy with a sole purpose to intercept, decipher, analyze, and keep vast swaths of the world's communications siphoned through its servers and routers to be stored in near-bottomless databases. Yes, this includes all data collected on Americans here in the U.S...

Check it out. It is said that every publication in the Library of Congress can be stored on 15 terabytes. This new facility in Utah holds metadata measured in yottabytes. I had to look this one up. Wow. This is inconceivable! One Yottabyte is one trillion terabytes! The moral of this story is that after you go on national TV and lie to the American public about your international/domestic spy programs, I guess you need "yottabytes" to eavesdrop on the planet.

For more information about the many NSA metadata collection centers, you can find out more here. Indeed, their spy treachery is coming into focus as they continue to suck everything up. Our leaders are also utilizing bogus laws to prevent the public from accessing much of anything at conventional outlets. Even smaller internet providers are under heavy attack if they refuse to hand over our data; or if they provide a useful peg to those of us (such as Snowden, Greenwald, etc.) who desire keeping the public up-to-date on what is happening. Snowden's Email Provider Shuts Down to Avoid "Being Complicit in Crimes Against the American People"

Boing Boing reports: "Remember when word circulated that Edward Snowden was using Lavabit, an email service that purports to provide better privacy and security for users than popular web-based free services like Gmail? Lavabit's owner has shut down the service, and posted a message on the home page today about wanting to avoid 'being complicit in crimes against the American people.' According to the statement, it appears he rejected a U.S. court order to cooperate with the government in spying on users."

The statement from Lavabit owner Ladar Levison also says:

"I feel you deserve to know what's going on -- the first amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this. Unfortunately, Congress has passed laws that say otherwise. As things currently stand, I cannot share my experiences over the last six weeks, even though I have twice made the appropriate requests. ... This experience has taught me one very important lesson: without congressional action or a strong judicial precedent, I would strongly recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States."

An update from the Guardian states: "Silent Circle, another provider of secure online services, announced ... later Thursday night that it would scrap its own encrypted email offering, Silent Mail."

Glenn Greenwald of the Guardian reports Edward Snowden -- who, it was recently revealed, used Lavabit's email service -- as saying:

"The President, Congress, and the Courts have forgotten that the costs of bad policy are always borne by ordinary citizens, and it is our job to remind them that there are limits to what we will pay. America cannot succeed as a country where individuals like Mr. Levison have to relocate their businesses abroad to be successful. Employees and leaders at Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo, Apple, and the rest of our internet titans must ask themselves why they aren't fighting for our interests the same way small businesses are. The defense they have offered to this point is that they were compelled by laws they do not agree with, but one day of downtime for the coalition of their services could achieve what a hundred Lavabits could not."

So true!

Plus, in the wake of NSA's embarrassment, they're groveling to justify their surreptitious activity in other ways too. Remember Bush's many terror alerts? Well, just like an old throw rug getting hung and beat, that sneaky terror alert "dust devil" is now spinning its magic for Obama. For that scoop, I recommend you read this piece written by Sarah Lazare, a staff writer at Common Dreams.

Here come the Drones

For those who may have missed it, back in 2012 and in addition to the many drones already deployed in foreign countries, Congress gave the nod for Homeland Security and the NSA to build and launch more than 30,000 drones over American skies; some small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. Indeed, drones come in all shapes and sizes. And with new state-of-the-art motors, this technology enables continuous non-stop flight. Plus, with high resolution cameras and other new equipment, most drones will be able to intercept all audio and visual for a 100-mile radius. Thus, if they build them like they do for missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, etc., they can easily be equipped with an assortment of weaponry.

To put it lightly, this should make every American very uneasy...

In fact, when we consider everything that's going on today, perhaps this is a perfect time to question all things questionable... including the events of 9/11, our eroding constitutional rights, and the true reason for why we find ourselves fully embellished in constant wars... It's either that or welcome to George Orwell's 1984 (on steroids).
(c) 2013 Vincent L. Guarisco is a freelance writer from Arizona, a contributing writer for many web sites, and a lifetime founding member of the Alliance of Atomic Veterans. The 21st century, once so full of shining promise, now threatens to force countless millions of us at home and abroad into a dark abyss of languishing poverty and silent servitude; a lowly prodigy of painful struggle and suffering that could stream for generations to come. I'm wishing for a miracle, before it is too late, the masses will figure it out and will stand as one and roar. So, pass the word =its past time to take back what is ours ==the American Dream where the pursuit of happiness, the ability to live in a free and peaceful nation is a reality. We bought it, and we paid for it. It's time to take it back. For replies, contact:

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~~~ Cal Grondahl ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

The Little Red Hen
By Will Durst

Once upon a time, there was a little red hen who lived on a farm past the woods. She was friends with a bossy but politically connected pig, a groveling sheep who worked as a flunky for the village and a scared little mouse who specialized in running away and hiding. Hey. Sometimes your friends are whoever lives on the farm next to you.

One day the little red hen found some seeds. Since everyone was busy, she planted them and lo and behold, not long after, a large field of wheat lay right behind the back porch. A funny thought came into her head that she could use the wheat to bake some bread. Lots of bread. Enough bread that she and her buddies could retire comfortably by selling it to animals on the other farms in her village.

So she formed an LLC with her friends. After all the papers were signed, and paws and wings and hooves were shook a party was held and all the animals on the farm attended. The dog got drunk. Finally, it was time to gather the wheat and the little red hen went around to each of her friends to see who would help.

Citing confusion over stalled congressional action on the agricultural bill, the pig demurred, maintaining this was not a good time. It was a big farm. The sheep's lawyer, the duck, urged caution, not wanting to offend their good friend -- the pig. The mouse was unavailable for comment but the hen heard toenails on the floor of his hole like someone was scurrying away from grave danger. So the hen gathered the wheat by herself.

Needing help to grind the wheat, the little red hen once again approached the pig, who declined, not wishing to exacerbate the generally explosive union situation. The sheep couldn't possibly commit without first consulting his foreman, the horse, who was vacationing in Aruba. According to an informed source, the mouse was in conference with the duck and not to be disturbed. So, the hen ground the wheat.

Sadly, the grinding took so long, the hen lost the option on an industrial oven she had lined up in the valley. Warily, she went to the pig, but he had already leased his oven space to a Chinese bakery concern. The sheep was waiting for a similar yet intrinsically different offer and didn't dare tie himself up. An unnamed staff member intimated the mouse was compiling evidence to support a harassment charge against the cat. The hen eventually got a grant from the feds for an alternative production plant and baked many loaves of bread, keeping all the profits for herself.

The pig and the sheep sued for breach of promise, winning the entire baking operation as a settlement. The mouse never knew what was going on. The hen got revenge of sorts when the pig, who had sheared the sheep in a hostile takeover, was jailed by the mule who found moose pellets in the crust of the sourdough.

The dog scored big by selling a fictionalized script of the whole affair to Netflix as a 12-part miniseries in which the hen appeared in a cameo as a sexy yet conflicted FDA inspector possibly suffering from Asperger's Syndrome.

The end.
(c) 2013 Will Durst's, the recipient of 7 consecutive nominations for Stand Up of the Year, Will Durst's new one- man show "BoomerAging: From LSD to OMG" is presented every Tuesday, at the Marsh, San Francisco. Go to... for more info. And check out the trailer for the new documentary "3 Still Standing."

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Issues & Alibis Vol 13 # 31 (c) 08/16/2013

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