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In This Edition

Greg Palast concludes, "Fukushima: They Knew."

Uri Avnery wonders is Netanyahu, "Mad Or Crazy?"

Dennis Kucinich is, "Tilling The Ground For The Seeds Of Terrorism."

Paul Craig Roberts with a must read, "Amerika's Future Is Death."

Jim Hightower says, "Romney Runs Away From His Running Mate."

Randall Amster asks is there, "Life On Mars?"

James Donahue finds, "American Presidents Appear Chosen by Name; Their Fate Set By The Numbers."

David Swanson orates in, "You Say You Want A Revolution Of Values?"

Ted Rall has a, "Fear Of A Right Planet."

Jeff Cohen returns with, "My Visit To A London Embassy Under Threat."

Paul Krugman outs, "An Unserious Man."

Glen Ford with a must read, "Fletcherism and Fakery: Guarding Obama's Left Flank."

Robert Reich studies, "Mitt's 13% Tax."

US Con-gressman Todd Akin (R-Missouri) wins the coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

John Nichols explains why, "With Romney-Ryan, GOP Becomes Grand Old Private-Equity Party."

Adam Keller asks, "Does A Barking Dog Not Bite?"

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion quotes Todd Akin, "I Misspoke-What I Meant To Say Is 'I Am Dumb As Dog Shit And I Am A Terrible Human Being.'" but first Uncle Ernie exclaims, "Wrapped In The Flag And Carrying A Cross!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Larry Wright, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Tom Tomorrow, Mad Magazine, Ozzy Amos, Roots Action.Org, Black Agenda Report.Com, Ferdinand Victor Eugene Delacroix, Warner Brothers, You Tube.Com and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

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

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

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Wrapped In The Flag And Carrying A Cross!
By Ernest Stewart

"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross." ~~~ Sinclair Lewis

"I'm announcing today that we're going to stay in!" ~~~ Congressman Todd Akin

"This is enough ammunition to empty five rounds into the body of every living American citizen. Is this something we and the Congress should be concerned about? What's the plan that requires so many dead Americans, even during times of civil unrest?" ~~~ Major General Jerry Curry

So if you're alone and you're down to the bone,
Just give us a play.
You'll smile in a while and discover
That I'll get you happy my way --
Nothing's easy.
Nothing Is Easy ~~~ Jethro Tull

The boy who would be god has some ideas about religion that he shared during an interview with the Cathedral Age, the magazine of the Washington National Cathedral. Even when compared with the American Taliban, i.e., the Southern Baptists, or those child-molesting followers of der Panzer Pope and every bit as kookie as the Scientologists, the Mormons are perhaps the weirdest cult of the lot! I joke about Willard wanting to become a god with his own planet full of worshipers, but that's really not a joke but the absolute truth. A man who wears magic underwear because he knows he's protected from any harm when he's wearing them! To him, Jesus is just this guy, you know, who was the brother of Satan; and Adam is actually the god of Earth and Eden was located in Missouri! Is that kookie enough for your ass? Do you really trust his finger on the button?

Here's some of Willard's thoughts that he confessed to Cathedral Age:

"The separation of Church and State has been taken too far in America and religion should be restored to public life."

I don't think it's been taken far enough!

"The celebrated detachment of government from religious faith has been taken by some well beyond its original meaning."

It means the same as it ever did. No mixing mythology and politics!

"They seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgement of god, religion is seen as merely a private affair with no place in public life. The Founders proscribed the establishment of a state religion, but they did not countenance the elimination of religion from the public square."

See the first amendment!

"Every religion has its own unique doctrines and history. These should not be bases for criticism but rather a test of our tolerance."

No, if they embrace, rape, murder and genocide they shouldn't be tolerated!

Oh, and I beg to disagree if tolerance leads to enslavement. You'll recall all the biblical quotes used by the slave owners to justify their actions. Listen to Ryan try and justify his budget atrocities with the Catholic Church's teachings. On the order of 40 Catholic groups, said Bullshit Paul!

In the common era around 303 CE, the Roman emperor Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus realized that he controlled only half of what he should. Like many dictators before him, he could get rid of all the competing religions that had cramped the emperor's style for three hundred years, and decided to create the first great state religion since Egypt! That way he had the people coming and going. You know, "Render unto Caesar what is Caesars!" This continued on and off all over the world, until we came along and decided to rid ourselves of being controlled by various mythologies and since it was important to make this statement, it became the first amendment.

The Nazis used religion to control some of the people and murder some of the people. The Nazis were good Catholics; but like Constantinus, they controlled the church and used it as propaganda and to control the populous. Like the Nazis, the Rethuglican are using religion in the same way -- to them it's just a tool to control the people, an excuse to destroy some for their beliefs, and, while doing so, make a lot of money. Obamahood, like Smirky before him, sees himself as fighting a great crusade -- a holy crusade that Willard stands by to continue. 40 years ago, Willard believed that black folks had no souls; and have no doubt, he still believes it. Whether or not Sinclair actually said, "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross," it is none the less true; and you ignore it at your own peril!

In Other News

You couldn't make up this character; he has to be for real. If I submitted a story with a character like Missouri Senate Candidate Rep. Todd Akin, they'd send it back saying the character isn't believable and they'd be right! US Con-gressman Todd Akin (R-Missouri), whose antics in the House and his ability to put his foot in his mouth at the drop of a hat are beyond fiction, has done it again, and is this week's Vidkun Quisling Award winner!

Todd said this about pregnancies resulting from a rape, and I quote,

"It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that's really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let's assume that maybe that didn't work or something: I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child."

I'm going to repeat that again for those of you on drugs...

If you're the victim of a LEGITIMATE RAPE then you can't get preggers!

I'd really like to ask Todd to define for me legitimate RAPE and an illegitimate RAPE, I really would! Wouldn't you?

Needless to say, the Dems are having a field day; and Senator Claire McCaskill is looking at an easy win if Akin doesn't step down. Not only has Akin's little faux pas cost him his chance at the election, but he is likely to turn pinkish Missouri into light blue in the presidential elections. Ergo, fascist pundits all over the spectrum have crawled out of the woodwork asking the Con-gressman to step down. But Todd, bless him, is a fighter, "I'm not a quitter," he said.

In Hannity's interview of Akin on his radio show, Sean told the congressman, that with his remarks, he handed Democrats ammunition to use against all other Republican candidates.

"Here's my big fear, Congressman, if I could just be blunt with you. Sometimes an election is bigger than one person, and I think you'd agree with that. To me, I am very concerned, and I know many other conservatives are as well because they have all written me today, that if you stay in the race and this becomes the defining issue of the race, and there is a timeline in place here, that this could then put the entire state of Missouri -- this Senate seat and even the top of the ticket -- in jeopardy in Missouri."

"Congressman Akin's statements were wrong, offensive, and indefensible," said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, referring to Akin's remarks that victims of "legitimate rape" rarely become pregnant.

"I recognize that this is a difficult time for him, but over the next twenty-four hours, Congressman Akin should carefully consider what is best for him, his family, the Republican Party, and the values that he cares about and has fought for throughout his career in public service," threatened Cornyn.

The writings on the wall, Todd; but you hang in there, buddy!

For more on this anti-woman Rethuglican mindset, see this week's video! Oh, and ladies, it's okay if Todd was wrong and you do get pregnant with the rape as Missouri Rethuglican gadfly Sharon Barnes put it in the NY Times, "If God has chosen to bless this person [the rape victim] with a life, you don't kill it." So relax, your rape is a Godsend, ladies!

And Finally

You have no doubt by now heard about the government's purchase of a billion-plus rounds of hollow-point ammo. Their explanation is that they're to be used for practice which is total bullshit as you don't use hollow-points for practice. You use a cheaper round, one that won't tear up the weapon like hollow-points will! You don't use hollow-points in war as they are outlawed. The only reason to use them is to kill civilians!

Everyone from the Fisheries inspectors to Homeland Security have ordered them. For example, Homeland Security ordered 750 million of them, which is enough to put two rounds in the back of the head of every man, woman and child in America and in Mexico! OH, and that was only half of what they ordered!

Here's what retired US Army Major General Jerry Curry said about these purchases:

"Hollow-point bullets are so lethal that the Geneva Convention does not allow their use on the battlefield in time of war. Hollow-point bullets don't just stop or hurt people, they penetrate the body, spread out, fragment and cause maximum damage to the body's organs. Death often follows."

In addition, Curry noted that during the Iraq War, the U.S. military used "70 million rounds of ammunition per year. Compare that with the 750 million rounds of hollow-point bullets that the Department of Homeland Security ordered in March. And then it further ordered another 750 million rounds of various types of ammunition, some of which can penetrate walls."

As we've been warning you since the 12-12-2000 coup d'etat went down, the America we knew is over; and what's about to go down will be a nightmare like no other; and have no doubt, we are on the edge of that happening. What will you tell the kids when you are all strapped into a box car on the way to a Happy Camp? Better think of something, America!

Keepin' On

It seems to me that nothing good ever comes easy. It seems it is always a challenge. And just to hang on to what we've got is a never-ending challenge itself! So it is with trying to raise the meager funds that we need to keep fighting for our rights. All those rights outlined in The Constitution and the Bill of Rights once protected us, but they were all bought at an awful cost; and now they are slipping through our fingers. Once they're gone, there'll be an awful price to pay to get them back!

Once again, our cupboard was empty when I got to the PO Box, and with time running out, it's not something I care to see; and I'm sure, dear reader, neither do you. You might think with all the trillions going to the 1% that a few of them that still have a soul would take half of their billions and put it into things that are trying to help us out of this downward spiral. You might think they would send some chump change this way; but we haven't seen a penny since Barry came to town and we decided the choice was to either become a hypocrite or tell it like it is about Barry, too. Oops, we bad! So, those sunshine patriots took off back to their Matrix cells and plugged themselves back in! C'est la guerre, Ya'll!

If you haven't given up the struggle yet, and would like to make a better world for everyone's children and grandchildren all over the planet, then please help us out by sending us what you can, whenever you can -- and just perhaps we can stop this downhill slide towards world-wide fascism and 1% uber alles!

Oops my bad. My biography, Uncle Ernie's Hollywood Daze, well at least a year of it, is being featured at LA Best.Com where you can currently download, as a free pdf, the prolog and first two chapters of the book! Here's it's bio:

This is the story of my experiences working in Hollywood for The Gap Band, Buddy Miles and other bands. You'll snort cocaine with O.J. Simpson. Drop acid with Dr. Timothy Leary. Listen in as Dewy Martin offers me $10,000.00 to kill Stephen Stills. Watch as the former congressman from California, (Sonny Bono) becomes a drunken, stumbling bum, night after night over Cher. Read Cher's notes to her whore hopping husband, (Greg Allman), as she carries his baby, while he nails everything in town. Spend a charming little weekend with some of LA's finest Cannibals. Hang out with Mafioso's, white slavers, and sexual deviants of every stripe. Join JFK and Peter Lawford in the Oval Office to snort cocaine. Watch Keith Moon destroy The Crazy Horse Saloon. Find out who murdered Jimi Hendrix and why. Come with me into all this madness and react with me as if we're Alice in Wonderland, because we are.

Warning, this book contains sex, drugs, rock and roll and the truth!
Tell'em Uncle Ernie sent ya!


01-10-1939 ~ 08-18-2012
Thanks for the music!

06-21-1944 ~ 08-19-2012
Thanks for the movies!

07-17-1917 ~ 08-20-2012
Thanks for the laughs!


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


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

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

Fukushima: They Knew
"Completely and Utterly Fail in an Earthquake"
The Fukushima story you didn't hear on CNN
By Greg Palast

I've seen a lot of sick stuff in my career, but this was sick on a new level.

Here was the handwritten log kept by a senior engineer at the nuclear power plant:

Wiesel was very upset. He seemed very nervous. Very agitated. . . . In fact, the plant was riddled with problems that, no way on earth, could stand an earth-quake. The team of engineers sent in to inspect found that most of these components could "completely and utterly fail" during an earthquake.

"Utterly fail during an earthquake." And here in Japan was the quake and here is the utter failure.

The warning was in what the investigations team called The Notebook, which I'm not supposed to have. Good thing I've kept a copy anyway, because the file cabinets went down with my office building ....

NEW YORK, 1986

[This is an excerpt from Vultures' Picnic: In Pursuit of Petroleum Pigs, Power Pirates and High-Finance Fraudsters, to be released this Monday. Click here to get the videos and the book.]

Two senior nuclear plant engineers were spilling out their souls and files on our huge conference table, blowing away my government investigations team with the inside stuff about the construction of the Shoreham, New York, power station.

The meeting was secret. Very secret. Their courage could destroy their careers: No engineering firm wants to hire a snitch, even one who has saved thousands of lives. They could lose their jobs; they could lose everything. They did. That's what happens. Have a nice day.

On March 12 this year, as I watched Fukushima melt, I knew: the "SQ" had been faked. Anderson Cooper said it would all be OK. He'd flown to Japan, to suck up the radiation and official company bullshit. The horror show was not the fault of Tokyo Electric, he said, because the plant was built to withstand only an 8.0 earthquake on the Richter scale, and this was 9.0. Anderson must have been in the gym when they handed out the facts. The 9.0 shake was in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, 90 miles away. It was barely a tenth of that power at Fukushima.

I was ready to vomit. Because I knew who had designed the plant, who had built it and whom Tokyo Electric Power was having rebuild it: Shaw Construction. The latest alias of Stone & Webster, the designated builder for every one of the four new nuclear plants that the Obama Administration has approved for billions in federal studies.

But I had The Notebook, the diaries of the earthquake inspector for the company. I'd squirreled it out sometime before the Trade Center went down. I shouldn't have done that. Too bad.

All field engineers keep a diary. Gordon Dick, a supervisor, wasn't sup- posed to show his to us. I asked him to show it to us and, reluctantly, he directed me to these notes about the "SQ" tests.

SQ is nuclear-speak for "Seismic Qualification." A seismically qualified nuclear plant won't melt down if you shake it. A "seismic event" can be an earthquake or a Christmas present from Al Qaeda. You can't run a nuclear reactor in the USA or Europe or Japan without certified SQ.

This much is clear from his notebook: This nuclear plant will melt down in an earthquake. The plant dismally failed to meet the Seismic I (shaking) standards required by U.S. and international rules.

Here's what we learned: Dick's subordinate at the nuclear plant, Robert Wiesel, conducted the standard seismic review. Wiesel flunked his company. No good. Dick then ordered Wiesel to change his report to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, change it from failed to passed. Dick didn't want to make Wiesel do it, but Dick was under the gun himself, acting on direct command from corporate chiefs. From The Notebook:

Wiesel was very upset. He seemed very nervous. Very agitated. [He said,] "I believe these are bad results and I believe it's reportable," and then he took the volume of federal regulations from the shelf and went to section 50.55(e), which describes reportable deficiencies at a nuclear plant and [they] read the section together, with Wiesel pointing to the appropriate paragraphs that federal law clearly required [them and the company] to report the Category II, Seismic I deficiencies.

Wiesel then expressed his concern that he was afraid that if he [Wiesel] reported the deficiencies, he would be fired, but that if he didn't report the deficiencies, he would be breaking a federal law. . . .

The law is clear. It is a crime not to report a safety failure. I could imagine Wiesel standing there with that big, thick rule book in his hands, The Law. It must have been heavy. So was his paycheck. He weighed the choices: Break the law, possibly a jail-time crime, or keep his job.

What did Wiesel do? What would you do?

Why the hell would his company make this man walk the line? Why did they put the gun to his head, to make him conceal mortal danger? It was the money. It's always the money. Fixing the seismic problem would have cost the plant's owner half a billion dollars easy. A guy from corporate told Dick, "Bob is a good man. He'll do what's right. Don't worry about Bob."

That is, they thought Bob would save his job and career rather than rat out the company to the feds.

But I think we should all worry about Bob. The company he worked for, Stone & Webster Engineering, built or designed about a third of the nuclear plants in the United States.

From the fifty-second floor we could look at the Statue of Liberty. She didn't look back.

(c) 2012 Greg Palast is author of the New York Times bestseller, "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy." His investigations for BBC TV and Democracy Now! can be seen by subscribing to 's reports at. Greg will be providing investigative reports for

Mad Or Crazy?
By Uri Avnery

BINYAMIN NETANYAHU may be crazy, but he is not mad.

Ehud Barak may be mad, but he is not crazy.

Ergo: Israel will not attack Iran.

I HAVE said so before, and I shall say so again, even after the endless talk about it. Indeed no war has been talked about so much before it happened. To quote the classic movie line: "If you have to shoot, shoot. Don't talk!"

In all Netanyahu's bluster about the inevitable war, one sentence stands out: "In the Committee of Inquiry after the war, I shall take upon myself the sole responsibility, I and I alone!"

A very revealing statement.

First of all, committees of inquiry are appointed only after a military failure. There was no such committee after the 1948 War of Independence, nor after the 1956 Sinai War or the 1967 Six-day War. There were, however, committees of inquiry after the 1974 Yom Kippur war and the 1982 and 2006 Lebanon Wars. By conjuring up the specter of another such committee, Netanyahu unconsciously treats this war as an inevitable failure.

Second, under Israeli law, the entire Government of Israel is the Commander in Chief of the armed forces. Under another law, all ministers bear "collective responsibility." TIME magazine, which is becoming more ridiculous by the week, may crown "King Bibi", but we still have no monarchy. Netanyahu is no more than primus inter pares.

Third, in his statement Netanyahu expresses boundless contempt for his fellow ministers. They don't count.

Netanyahu considers himself a modern day Winston Churchill. I don't seem to remember Churchill announcing, upon assuming office, "I take responsibility for the coming defeat." Even in the desperate situation of that moment, he trusted in victory. And the word "I" did not figure large in his speech.

IN THE daily brainwashing, the problem is presented in military terms. The debate, such as it is, concerns military capabilities and dangers.

Israelis are especially, and understandably, worried by the rain of tens of thousands of missiles expected to fall on all parts of Israel, not only from Iran, but also from Lebanon and Gaza. The minister responsible for civil defense deserted just this week, and another one, a refugee from the hapless Kadima party, has taken his place. Everybody knows that a large part of the population (including myself) is completely defenseless.

Ehud Barak has announced that no more than a measly 500 Israelis will be killed by enemy missiles. I do not aspire to the honor of being one of them, though I live quite near the Ministry of Defense.

But the military confrontation between Israel and Iran is only a part of the picture, and not the most important one.

As I have pointed out in the past, far more important is the impact on the world economy, already steeped in a profound crisis. An Israeli attack will be viewed by Iran as American-inspired, and the reaction will be accordingly, as explicitly stated by Iran this week.

The Persian Gulf is a bottle, whose neck is the narrow Strait of Hormuz, which is totally controlled by Iran. The huge American aircraft carriers now stationed in the gulf will be well advised to get out before it is too late. They resemble those antique sailing ships which enthusiasts assemble in bottles. Even the powerful weaponry of the US will not be able to keep the strait open. Simple land-to-sea missiles will be quite enough to keep it closed for months. To open it, a prolonged land operation by the US and its allies will be required. A long and bloody business with unpredictable consequences.

A major part of the world's oil supplies has to pass through this unique waterway. Even the mere threat of its closure will cause oil prices to shoot sky-high. Actual hostilities will result in a worldwide economic collapse, with hundreds of thousands - if not millions - of new unemployed.

Each of these victims will curse Israel. Since it will be crystal clear that this is an Israeli war, the rage will be turned against us. Worse, much worse - since Israel insists that it is "the state of the Jewish people", the rage may take the form of an unprecedented outbreak of anti-Semitism. Newfangled Islamophobes will revert to old-time Jew-haters. "The Jews are our disaster," as the Nazis used to proclaim.

This may be worst in the US. Until now, Americans have watched with admirable tolerance as their Middle East policy is practically dictated by Israel. But even the almighty AIPAC and its allies will not be able to contain the outburst of public anger. They will give way like the levees of New Orleans.

THIS WILL have a direct impact on a central calculation of the warmongers.

In private conversations, but not only there, they assert that America will be immobilized on the eve of elections. During the last few weeks before November 6, both candidates will be mortally afraid of the Jewish lobby.

The calculation goes like this: Netanyahu and Barak will attack without giving a damn for American wishes. The Iranian counter-attack will be directed against American interests. The US will be dragged into the war against its will.

But even in the unlikely event that the Iranians act with supreme self-restraint and do not attack US targets, contrary to their declarations, President Obama will be compelled to save us, send huge quantities of arms and ammunition, bolster our anti-missile defenses, fund the war. Otherwise he will be accused of leaving Israel in the lurch and Mitt Romney will be elected as the savior of the Jewish State.

This calculation is based on historical experience. All Israeli governments in the past have exploited American election years for their purposes.

In 1948, when the US was required to recognize the new Israeli state against the express advice of both the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense, President Truman was fighting for his political life. His campaign was bankrupt. At the last moment Jewish millionaires leaped into the breach, Truman and Israel were saved.

In 1956, President Eisenhower was in the middle of his re-election campaign when Israel attacked Egypt in collusion with France and Britain. It was a miscalculation - Eisenhower did not need Jewish votes and money and put a stop to the adventure. In other election years the stakes were lower, but always the occasion was used to gain some concessions from the US.

Will it work this time? If Israel unleashes a war on the eve of elections, in an obvious effort to blackmail the president, will the American public mood support Israel - or could it go the other way? It will be a critical gamble of historic proportions. But like Mitt Romney, Netanyahu is a protégé of the Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, and he may be no more averse to gambles than the poor suckers who leave their money in Adelson's casinos.

WHERE ARE the Israelis in all this?

In spite of the constant brainwashing, polls show that the majority of Israelis are dead set against an attack. Netanyahu and Barak are seen as two addicts, many say megalomaniacs, who are beyond rational thinking.

One of the most striking aspects of the situation is that our army chief and the entire General Staff, as well as the chiefs of the Mossad and the Shin Bet, and almost all their predecessors, are totally and publicly opposed to the attack.

It is one of the rare occasions when military commanders are more moderate than their political chiefs, though it has happened in Israel before. One may well ask: how can political leaders start a fateful war when practically all their military advisors, who know our military capabilities and the chances for success, are against it?

One of the reasons for this opposition is that the army chiefs know better than anyone else how totally dependent on the US Israel really is. Our relationship with America is the very basis of our national security.

Also, it seems doubtful whether Netanyahu and Barak have a majority for the attack even in their own government and inner cabinet. The ministers know that apart from everything else, the attack would drive investors and tourists away, causing huge damage to Israel's economy.

So why do most Israelis still believe that the attack is imminent?

Israelis, by and large, have been totally convinced by now (a) that Iran is governed by a bunch of crazy ayatollahs beyond rationality, and (b) that, once in the possession of a nuclear bomb, they will certainly drop it on us.

These convictions are based on the utterances of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in which he declared that he will wipe Israel off the face of the earth.

But did he really say that? Sure, he has repeatedly expressed his conviction that the Zionist Entity will disappear from the face of the earth. But it seems that he never actually said that he - or Iran - would ensure that result.

That may seem only a small rhetorical difference, but in this context it is very important.

Also, Ahmadinejad may have a big mouth, but his actual power in Iran was never very great and is shrinking fast. The ayatollahs, the real rulers, are far from being irrational. Their whole behavior since the revolution shows them to be very cautious people, averse to foreign adventures, scarred by the long war with Iraq that they did not start and did not want.

A nuclear-armed Iran may be an inconvenient near-neighbor, but the threat of a "second holocaust"is a figment of the manipulated imagination. No ayatollah will drop a bomb when the certain response will be the total annihilation of all Iranian cities and the end of the glorious cultural history of Persia. Deterrence was, after all, the whole sense of producing an Israel bomb.

IF NETANYAHU & Co. were really frightened by the Iranian Bomb, they would do one of two things:

Either agree to the de-nuclearization of the region, giving up our own nuclear armaments (highly unlikely);

Or make peace with the Palestinians and the entire Arab world, thereby disarming the ayatollahs' hostility to Israel.

But Netanyahu's actions show that, for him, keeping the West Bank is vastly more important than the Iranian bomb.

What better proof do we need of the craziness of this whole scare?
(c) 2012 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Afghan soldiers at the scene of a Taliban attack on a US supply truck.

Tilling The Ground For The Seeds Of Terrorism
By Dennis Kucinich

After more than 10 years of war against al Qaeda and the accompanying global "war on terrorism," we have failed to learn that our actions create reactions. Our presence creates destabilization, then radicalization. Occupations create insurgencies. In Afghanistan, we have fueled the very insurgency we struggle to fight.

Al Qaeda had relatively little if any presence in Iraq prior to the U.S. invasion. The U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, and the subsequent destruction and violence, enabled al Qaeda to flourish. Al Qaeda and its affiliates are now conducting an accelerated campaign of relentless attacks and suicide bombings in Iraq.

Last year's intervention in Libya is another example. The U.S. and its North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies spurred a civil war, taking sides despite persistent questions about the nature of the opposition. The war and the chaos that followed have allowed radical groups to gain another foothold.

In Syria, prominent leaders in western nations are trying to make the case for intervention, despite the fact that our own intelligence agencies do not know exactly what is transpiring on the ground or who is doing what to whom. We do know that the chaos has provided al Qaeda the opportunity to expand, as recently reported by The New York Times:

The evidence is mounting that Syria has become a magnet for Sunni extremists, including those operating under the banner of Al Qaeda...

Daniel Byman, a counterterrorism expert who is a professor at Georgetown University and a fellow at the Brookings Institution, said it is clear that al Qaeda is trying to become more active in Syria. As it has already done in Somalia and Mali, and before that in Chechnya and Yemen, the group is trying to turn a local conflict to its advantage.

Headlines in papers around the world eliminate any doubt. The Guardian: "Syria: Foreign jihadists could join battle for Aleppo" and "Al-Qaida turns tide for rebels in battle for eastern Syria." The New York Times: "As Syrian War Drags On, Jihadists Take Bigger Role." The Washington Post: "In Syria, group suspected of al-Qaeda links gaining prominence in war to topple Assad."

Recently, despite the presence of extremist elements among the opposition, President Obama stated:

"We cannot have a situation in which chemical or biological weapons are falling into the hands of the wrong people... We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized."

This situation is rife with potential for a "false flag" operation.

Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria -- al Qaeda surfs instability created or supported by U.S. interventions. Al Qaeda is ready to exploit resentment toward the U.S. while capitalizing on the openings created by U.S. interventionism. As a result our U.S. tax dollars are being used to fuel the rise of extremism.

Have we learned nothing from the Soviet Union's demise as a result of its adventure in Afghanistan? Will we continue to spend tax dollars to create even more U.S. enemies which will then be used to justify the expenditure of more U.S. tax dollars, thus setting the stage for an accelerated downward spiral for our economy and our own decline as a great power?
(c) 2012 Dennis Kucinich

Amerika's Future Is Death
By Paul Craig Roberts

"The day we see truth and do not speak is the day we begin to die." ~~~ Martin Luther King

Conspiracy theories have now blossomed into what the smug presstitute media calls a "conspiracy culture." According to the presstitutes, Americans have to find some explanation for their frustrations and failings, so Americans shift the blame to the Bilderbergers, the Rothschilds, the New World Order and so forth and so on.

Readers will not be surprised that I disagree with the presstitutes. Indeed, the conspiracy culture is the product of the presstitute media's failure to investigate and to report truthfully. I am certain that the Western media is worse than the Soviet media was. The Soviet media devised ways for helping the public to read between the lines, whereas the Western media is so proud to be confidants of the government that they deliver the propaganda without any clues to the readers that it is propaganda.

Americans have been fed lies by "their" government and the government's presstitute media for so long that it is not surprising that Americans increasingly believe that there is a conspiracy operating against them. Millions of Americans have been evicted from their jobs, careers, and homes while the crooks who stole from them run free and bankroll the presidential candidates. The world as millions of Americans knew it has come to an end, and no one has been held accountable. The explanation that Americans get from the media is that it is their own fault. They bought houses they shouldn't have bought, and they didn't train for the right jobs. It is not unreasonable for Americans to conclude that a conspiracy is operating against them.

Americans are told that "their" government cannot afford to help them because of the budget deficit and the burden on our grandchildren. But Americans see the trillions of dollars that are lavished on banksters, on wars, and on Homeland Security. Why is a police state and another attack on another Muslim country more important than keeping Americans in their jobs and in their homes?

The 11th anniversary of 9/11 is less than a month away. Will the presstitute media remind Americans that the government has spent $6 trillion of Americans' money in out-of-pocket and already incurred future costs as the expense of invading and trying to occupy Afghanistan and Iraq, all to no effect except to enrich the managements and shareholders of the military security complex at the cost of destroying the reputation of the United States and putting Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block?

No, of course not. The spiel will be about our brave troops who are fighting and dying to make the world safe for democracy and women's rights. Washington will wrap itself in the flag and exhort Americans to "support our troops" in the orchestrated war of the day. Hitlery Clinton still gets on the moral high horse and rails at China and Russia, but all the world sees is hypocrisy. No one, not even Washington's puppet governments, any longer takes Washington's moralizing as anything more than a mask for domination by force alone. Democracy, Washington declares, comes out of the barrel of a gun.

Today moralizing is all about money, but not for the 99%. The 99% cannot find good jobs or earn anything on their savings, because the economy is run for the 1%. University graduates cannot get jobs and pay off their student loans. Retraining for the millions of Americans whose jobs were shipped offshore or filled by foreigners brought in on H1-B visas has proved to be a fraud, as there are no jobs for the retrained displaced long-term discouraged American work force. The official jobs projection by the US government is that few university graduates are needed in the work force, so the old mantra that "education is the answer" is just another lie from the Ivy League economic departments who sell the establishment's lies for money.

Any American citizen accustomed to travel America's "wide open spaces" prior to 9/11 must be astonished by the sudden rise of the intrusive Homeland Security, a gestapo-sounding name if there ever was one. Porno-scans and genital feel-ups have spread from airports to bus and train stations and to the public highways, despite the absence of terrorist events. No one in their right mind could possibly think that a 90-year old grandmother in a wheel chair is a terrorist whose diaper needs to be checked or that blond and blue-eyed parents would have strapped a bomb around their 5-year old daughter's waist. No one except the gestapo Department of Homeland Security.

Even some of the gullible flag-waving patriotic conservatives are beginning to wonder about all the security. The reports that the Department of Homeland Security has ordered 750 million rounds of people-killing ammunition are puzzling even those conservatives who have been taking vicarious pleasure in the slaughter of "towelheads."

Why does the Department of Homeland Security need enough ammunition to shoot every American 2.5 times? Why is Homeland Security equipping itself with full-body armor? Why is Homeland Security acquiring new laser technology that can "instantly know everything about you from 164 feet away?" A new army manual for "Civil Disturbance Operations" describes how the military is to be used domestically within the US to put down protests, confiscate firearms and kill citizens.

The police state that is being constructed in "freedom and democracy" America is without parallel in history. When the only terrorists are dupes organized by the FBI, it is clear that the purpose of the police state is not to protect Americans from Muslim terrorists. The purpose of the police state is to terrorize US citizens.

It is not only Homeland Security that is being militarized. The government reported that a large ammunition order was made by the National Weather Service, later updated to have been the Fisheries Office. If you are surprised at this, why has the Social Security Administration ordered 174,000 rounds of hollow-point bullets?

Lists of Homeland Security's ammunition order are available online. Clearly, it is not ammunition for target practice. It is ammunition for killing people: hollow-point bullets for the military rifle, the M-16. Match grade bullets for .308 sniper rifles. 12 gauge shotgun buckshot and slug ammunition. Hollow-point bullets for .357 magnum and .40 caliber pistols.

As there have been no terrorist attacks in the US since the 9/11 attack (itself suspect by experts), except for those organized by the FBI, this massive purchase of firepower is obviously not to protect Americans from Muslim terrorists. So what is it for?

Perhaps this film explains what is in store for the American people who trusted "their" government. War protestors and critics of the government are being redefined as "domestic extremists" who can be arrested for aiding and abetting the enemies of the United States. If Americans wake up to the fact that they are being dispossessed economically, politically, and socially, while Washington is leading them into World War III, and take to the streets in protest, they will encounter extreme military force.

The liberal-left is even more delusional than the flag-waving conservatives. No matter what the government does, conservatives will come down on the government's side. This is because conservatives confuse patriotism with support for the government, not with defense of the Constitution, a suspect document that coddles criminals, terrorists, and war protesters who cause America to lose wars. The liberal-left regards Obama with his half-black origin as a member of the oppressed class, personages endowed by the liberal-left with higher morality. The liberal-left continues to regard Obama as the redeemer even as Obama sits in the Oval Office approving lists of American citizens to be executed without due process of law. Not even Naomi Wolf can wake up the liberal-left.

Do not expect Congress or the presstitutes to do anything about the rapid concentration of power in the police state that Bush and Obama have created. Do not expect to be rescued by federal courts. Even if some judges are inclined to defend the Constitution from its domestic enemy, the courts are powerless if the executive branch does not respect the rule of law. Currently, the executive branch is ignoring a federal judge's injunction against the indefinite detention of US citizens. The Department of Justice (sic) lawyers will not even answer the judge's questions.

A gullible population is helpless if government decides to enslave the people. It is child's play for government to discredit a people's natural leaders and those who provide the people with accurate information. Most Americans have a very small knowledge base and very large ideological preconceptions. Consequently, they cannot tell fiction from fact.

Consider the case of Julian Assange. When the US government, angry that WikiLeaks had published leaked documents that revealed the mendacity and deceit of Washington, first struck out at Assange, support for Assange was almost universal. Then Washington put out the story on the Internet that Assange was an intelligence agent working for the CIA or the even more hateful Mossad. Both leftwing and rightwing Internet sites fell for the obvious lie. Here we have gullibility on the level with those who believed Stalin's charge that Bukharin was a capitalist agent.

Once the libel of Assange began, it over-rode his clearance by the Swedish prosecutor's office of sexual complaints made by the two women who seduced him. Seeing Assange on the ropes, a female prosecutor reopened the closed case, many believe at Washington's urging. Feminists jumped in, demanding that Assange be punished for his seduction by women as he had obviously tricked or coerced them in some way.

It was like Dominique Strauss-Kahn all over again. Falsely accused of sexually assaulting a New York hotel maid, the Director of the International Monetary Fund, chased on two continents by celebrity-hunting women, was knocked out of the race for the French presidency and had to resign his IMF position. The New York police, trained by decades of feminist propaganda to regard every sex charge brought by a women as the absolute truth, were made to look foolish and incompetent when clear evidence emerged that the charge was fabricated in order to extract money from Strauss-Kahn and possibly in order to knock him out of contention for the French presidency.

Many websites and normally reliable commentators were taken in by the false story. The Washington hegemons and their presstitute media have been even more successful in fooling Americans about terrorist attacks, Osama bin Laden, the Taliban, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan, Syria, and Iran. What is astonishing is the fact that there have not been any attacks on America, despite the enormous provocations Washington has provided by murdering as many as one million Muslims, destroying three Muslim countries, conducting military operations against seven Muslim countries and preparing an attack on an eighth–Iran.

The President of Russia, whose thermo-nuclear ballistic missiles can remove the US from the face of the earth, stated for all the world to hear that Washington has the entire world in fear of its hegemonic drive. "No one feels safe," said Putin. And certainly not the Russians with American missile bases on their borders and a Washington-funded disloyal and traitorous political "opposition" which serves as Washington's fifth column inside Russia.

America, Putin acknowledged, wants to rule the world. But Washington is not going to rule Russia and China. If the current White House moron keeps his promise to Israeli prime minister Netanyahu that the US will attack Iran next June if Iran does not close down its nuclear energy program (a non-weapons program permitted to Iran as a signatory of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty), the White House will have opened the door to World War III. In such a war the US would not be immune from attack as it was in WW I and WW II. This time America could disappear in nuclear holocaust. If any of the world survives, people will be thankful for Washington's removal from the scene.

Death is what "your" government in Washington, both Republicans and Democrats, are bringing you. Both parties are driven by the neoconservatives who believe that American hegemony over the world is worth nuclear war to accomplish. If these dangerous ideologues continue to prevail, life on earth has a very short-run prospect.
(c) 2012 Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury and professor of economics in six universities. He is coauthor of "The Tyranny of Good Intentions," co-authored with Lawrence Stratton, a documented account of how Americans lost the protection of law, was published by Random House. Dr. Roberts' latest book is "Economies in Collapse: The Failure of Globalism," published in Europe, June, 2012. Seller information will be made available as soon as possible. He can be reached at:

Romney Runs Away From His Running Mate

Poor Paul Ryan - he successfully rammed a budget bill through the U.S. House that gutted Medicare, thus earning him the undying adulation of the far-right Republican fringe, whose unrestrained enthusiasm for him compelled Mitt Romney to name the Wisconsin Republican as his VP nominee.

So far, so good - but, WHAM! - the Romney-Ryan ticket had barely debuted before Mitt started dumping on his newly-anointed running mate's budget. Curiously, that's the exact same budget that Romney had gushed about during the Republican primary this spring, calling it a "bold and exciting effort"that is "very much needed."

But that was when Mitt was trolling for votes in the shallow waters of the fringe. Now, however, Ryan's budget, the very bauble that got him to the GOP's number two political slot, turns out to be so widely and wildly unpopular with voters in the deeper waters of the general election that it's already been trashed by the GOP's number one. "I have my own budget plan," Romney backpedaled the day after he knighted Sir Ryan, "and that's the budget plan we're going to run on."

It's kind of strange (and a bit unsettling) to see a candidate for president of the US of A straining to explain that he's the one in charge, not the young ideologue. Romney even went on national TV to tell us that, while Ryan would certainly be consulted, "I have to make the final call in important decisions." Sure, Mitt - you da man! But was he trying to convince us… or himself? Or Ryan?

Indeed, at the staged event where Romney introduced his choice for Veep, he bungled his line, presenting Ryan as "the next President of the United States." Was that just another Romney gaffe? A Freudian slip? Or an eerie moment of candor?

If they were honest with voters, their bumper sticker would read: "Ryan-Romney in 2012."
(c) 2012 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition.

Life On Mars?
Searching for Signs in the Cosmos, and on Earth
By Randall Amster

Forty years ago, David Bowie asked the musical question, "Is there life on Mars?" Bowie's song embodied an escapist sensibility, a longing for life elsewhere to break the doldrums and despair of living on Earth. Filled with vivid imagery, the song reflects humankind's eternal longing to be part of something larger than our mundane lives. In essence, it taps into an acute desire to discover that there's more than meets the eye to this existence.

As such, the search for extraterrestrial life is equal parts theological, philosophical, and practical. With the Curiosity rover now cutting swaths through the stark Martian landscape, we may soon have an answer to this perpetual question, at least partially. More to the point, it's entirely plausible that (at the least) vestiges of life will be found to exist wherever there is (or was) water, and Mars almost certainly fits that bill. The impending confirmation will do more than alter our creation mythology -- it will force us to rethink whether the heavens are merely there for our taking as the sole cosmic occupants.

Still, while space exploration possesses a romantic quality, in reality the enterprise is far closer to a survey mission for future resource extraction to service human needs and desires. It would be nice to embrace discovery for its own sake, or even for its metaphysical import, but that's not what pays the bills. Consider this assessment of the current mission to Mars from U.S. News and World Report:

"Famous astronomer Carl Sagan once wrote, 'If there is life on Mars, I believe we should do nothing with Mars. Mars then belongs to the Martians, even if the Martians are only microbes.' It's a noble concept, says Robert Zubrin, president of the Mars Society, a group encouraging humans to explore the planet, but it's off base, he says. 'I think Sagan's statement is basically political correctness gone berserk. It's completely wrong. Ethics needs to be based on what's best for humanity, not what's best for bacteria,' he says.... NASA's [Catharine] Conley, who is head of the agency's Planetary Protection office, says exploration has to be done in a 'controlled manner' to avoid 'destroying stuff we will want later.'"

Apparently, the integrity of life for life's sake is seen as secondary to what space discoveries can do for us. Our hubris extends beyond the domain of Earth's atmosphere, constituting a high-tech form of 'manifest destiny' that places humankind at the top of the pyramid in a universal struggle for existence. In fact, as if to confirm this, NASA's operative definition of life is: "a self-sustained chemical system capable of undergoing Darwinian evolution." Putting aside the question of whether this definition would exclude humans for some fundamentalists, the larger implication is that "life" is a political construction consistent with the values of acquisition, competition, and survival of the fittest. It is, in short, merely an extension of our master narrative; while we might long for something more than this life, by definition we have deemed that it's not possible. One almost wonders: if we encounter a race of thoroughly cooperative, non-acquisitive humanoids, would we deem them alive?

This is the nature of our self-fulfilling reality. For all of our imaginative capacities, modern humans seem to have a hard time conceiving that things could be any other way than they are now. We tend to forget that the rhythms and requisites of our lives, the ones we take at face value and validate with every keystroke and card-swipe, are little more than a blink of an eye in the overall course of human existence. Until the advent of the industrial age, people lived relatively similarly for eons -- not static, but basically consistent in terms of their position in the web of life. Even NASA's elaboration of life recognizes the primacy of change within a stable system as its hallmark:

"Living things tend to be complex and highly organized. They have the ability to take in energy from the environment and transform it for growth and reproduction. Organisms tend toward homeostasis: an equilibrium of parameters that define their internal environment."

Still, NASA cannot escape the anthropocentric underpinnings that cast life within the linguistic and ideological confines of a dominant culture that increasingly subsumes every aspect of our existence: "To grow and develop, living creatures need foremost to be consumers..." This may be technically true, perhaps, but it's unfortunate in its phrasing -- and yet utterly consistent with the dualistic sense of Darwinism as an irreducible biological and social phenomenon.

We may in fact turn out to be "the fittest" vis-a-vis any life we might find on Mars, or elsewhere in our solar system. Shall we take this as a cue to reaffirm our ostensible superiority? Or might it serve to inculcate a dose of much-needed humility, as we come to terms with being less than singular in a cosmic tapestry of living things? As in Bowie's lyrical vision, it may well be the case that "the film is a saddening bore," but surely this is due more to our perception of life as little more than a relentless struggle to survive in the face of deadening ordinariness.

Finding life on Mars would be an amazing discovery, one that I truly hope we realize -- not to alleviate the mundane trappings of our existence, but more so to bring their lessons into sharper focus. What we need is not escapism from the boredom of this life, but rather a departure from the notion that life is inevitably defined by the same patterns of consumption and competition that have rendered it so tedious in the first place. Perhaps in the end, the discovery of life in the cosmos will lead to the realization that there are still signs of it on Earth after all...
(c) 2012 Randall Amster J.D., Ph.D., teaches peace studies at Prescott College and serves as the executive director of the Peace & Justice Studies Association. Amonsg his most recent books are Anarchism Today (Praeger, 2012) and the co-edited volume "Building Cultures of Peace: Transdisciplinary Voices of Hope and Action" (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009).

American Presidents Appear Chosen by Name; Their Fate Set By The Numbers
By James Donahue

There is something very spooky about the history of American presidents. It is almost as if the electoral process has little to do with it. Certain people are destined to be our nation's leaders no matter what. And certain presidents appear cursed to die in office.

If you study the names of the men we elected to this high office, most have double letters in their names. On top of this list are Roosevelt, Hoover, Kennedy, "Bill" Clinton and "Jimmy" Carter. The other presidents include Adams (with two "a's" in the name), Dwight D. Eisenhower (two d's and three e's), and Nixon (with two n's). I think you get the picture.

Using this formula, it is easy to understand why George W. Bush defeated Al Gore. Even though Gore out-polled Bush in popular votes, Bush was destined to win because he had two g's and two e's in his name. This rule was broken in 2004, however, when Bush narrowly defeated John Kerry. Kerry's two "r's" should have made him the victor. But then there was strong suspicion of misconduct at the polls in both of these elections. Finally, the double "c's" in John McCain's name were not enough to win against Barack Obama's four "a's." Was it because one of the C's was a capital letter and the other was in small case? If the formula applies again this fall, without poll tampering, voters may chose Mitt Romney over Barack Obama because of those double "t's." Romney also has two "m's" in his name.

A few years ago I met a very unusual man who liked to study numbers and statistics like this. When he pointed out this phenomenon behind the winners in American presidential elections I did not believe him at first. But then, after searching through U. S. history records, I found that he was quite right. The candidates with the double letters were always the winners, especially if their opponent had a name like Al Gore, with all of the letters different from the others.

Had Gore been known by his full first name, Albert, he might have been a sure victor over George Bush. As it was, the election was so close it went before the U.S. Supreme Court to decide. The name Albert Gore, if you notice, also has two e's in the full name, but the letters are separated by first and last names. George, which contains both g's and e's in the same name, was clearly the stronger name.

You may perhaps write this off to a subconscious decision by American voters to trust or simply just prefer names with double letters. But there is another peculiar thing about our presidential history that is harder to explain and is much more disturbing.

Ever since Benjamin Harrison (with two r's) was elected to office in 1840, every president going into office on even number years except Ronald Reagan (three a's) has died in office. There was an assassination attempt on Reagan's life and it was disclosed he was suffering from Alzheimer Disease after he left office. Some believe Nancy Reagan may have been running the country during his final days in office. Was Reagan mentally dead while still serving as our president?

Then George W. Bush was elected on a triple zero election year, 2000 and he amazingly broke the cycle of the dead presidents. But how did this strange have its origins?

The story is that Chief Tecumseh was a Shawnee who wanted the American Indian tribes to break away from the reservation and return to their old ways. He established a village at Tippecanoe Creek, Ohio, called Utopia Town where his followers gathered. While he was away, William Henry Harrison, then an army general, got into a skirmish with the people at Tippecanoe Creek and Tecumseh's brother was killed. This happened in 1811. Tecumseh was so angered that he gathered a band of about 2000 warriors and joined the British in battles against the Americans in the War of 1812. Later, when Harrison sought the presidency in 1840, Tecumseh cursed him. The curse reads that if Harrison won the office of Great Chief "he will not finish his term. He will die in office. And when he dies you will remember my brother. You think that I have lost my powers. I who caused the sun to darken and Red Men to give up firewater. But I tell you Harrison will die. And after him, every Great Chief chosen every 20 years thereafter will die. And when each one dies, let everyone remember the death of our people."

Harrison was the ninth elected president and just as Tecumseh predicted, he became the first president to die in office. His term lasted only one month. He became ill and on April 4, 1841, shortly after taking office, he died.

The death list has continued right on cue ever since.

--Abraham Lincoln was elected in 1860. He was murdered in 1865.

--James Garfield, elected 1880, took office in 1881, assassinated Sept. 19, 1881.

--William McKinley, elected to his second term in 1990, assassinated on Sept. 14, 1901.

--Warren G. Harding, elected 1920, died of a heart attack on Aug. 2, 1923.

--Franklin D. Roosevelt, elected 1940, died of ill health on Apr. 12, 1945.

--John F. Kennedy, elected in 1960, assassinated Nov. 22, 1963.

--There are some who question whether George W. Bush was legally elected in 2000, since his win was decided by the high court. Would this account for his survival throughout his eight years in office?

In a book "Mysteries of the Unexplained published by Reader's Digest, 1982, I found some interesting synchronicities linked to the Kennedy assassination.

There is a federal mint in Dallas that issued a dollar bill just two weeks before Kennedy was shot there. It is now known as the Kennedy assassination bill. Since Dallas is the location of the 11th of 12 Federal Reserve Bank districts, the bill has the letter K, or the 11th letter of the alphabet, printed on its face. Also the number 11 appears in each corner. The serial number of this bill begins with K and ends with A, suggesting "Kennedy Assassination. Kennedy was shot on the 11th month of the year. Adding the two elevens on either side of the bill makes 22, the date of the shooting. The series number is 1963, the year Kennedy died.

The writer of the article points to yet another interesting set of synchronicities connected with both the Kennedy and Lincoln assassinations, which occurred exactly 100 years apart.

Both men were shot on Friday and in the presence of their wives. They were both shot by bullets in the back of the head. Lincoln was shot in the Ford Theater and Kennedy was shot in a Lincoln, manufactured by the Ford Automobile Co. Both men were succeeded by vice-presidents named Johnson. Both accused assassins were murdered before they could be brought to trial.

Do you ever get the feeling that our lives here are nothing more than a chess game and that we are all pawns, being manipulated by jokesters?
(c) 2012 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles. He currently produces daily articles for this web site

You Say You Want A Revolution Of Values?
By David Swanson

I spoke this past weekend at the Kateri Peace Conference in upstate New York ( ) along with Kathy Kelly, John Horgan, Ellen Grady, James Ricks, Matt Southworth, Walt Chura, and many others. Watch for the video, because a terrific discussion took place around a series of questions posed by the event organizers. The following are some of the initial responses I had prepared beforehand.

Why Work Against War

War engages me because of its unique relationship to morality. Killing is a long-standing taboo. Killing is often if not always the worst thing that can be done to someone. But killing on a larger scale, organizing numerous people to kill numerous other people is often treated very differently. When a government kills its own people, that's generally considered an outrage. But when a government kills another nation's people, that's not always viewed as a moral problem. In fact a government killing its own people is often used as a justification for another nation to come in and kill more of the first nation's people. Killing in war, and lesser crimes in war, are given a moral pass or even praised. A U.S. military sniper bragged on the debut episode this week of NBC's war reality show "Stars Earn Stripes" that he had "160 kills." Not that he killed 160 people. The people are erased in his language. "I have 160 kills." And the show itself is a dramatization of U.S. news coverage of U.S. wars, in which the only participants are Americans. The 95% of victims in our one-sided slaughters are rarely mentioned in U.S. news coverage, and on this new war-o-tainment show the heroic warriors attack empty fields, blow up guard towers with no guards, kick in doors of uninhabited houses, and spend so much time talking about how "real" it all is that none of them seem to notice that there are no enemies or victims to be found.

War used to get a moral pass as a sporting contest between two armies on a distant battlefield. Then it became the occupation of people's homes and the slaughter of those people. Now our propaganda is working to restore war's status as a sport, not against an honorable opponent but against an invisible one. Members of our government talk about wanting to make the Iranian people suffer with sanctions, but we're not to picture the Iranian people. Members of our government talk about funding killing as a jobs program, but we're not to see them as sociopaths.

War is becoming a sport to be approved of regardless of who dies, and with a blank spot for the piece of knowledge that tells us the leading cause of death for U.S. troops is suicide, and the second leading cause being shot by Afghan troops you are supposedly training. Real war is still hell. Human beings still suffer mental breakdowns from engaging in it, including engaging in it from a drone pilot's desk. But drones are part of an attempt to avoid danger for the five percent of humanity that appears in our news-o-tainment. This is an attempt to strip war of morality. Muhammed Ali wouldn't kill Vietnamese, but his daughter on the so-called reality show will blow the heads off paper targets that represent non-American humanity. We haven't created this kind of moral exemption for anything other than war, not for rape or slavery or child abuse or cruelty to animals. We lock up football stars who hurt dogs, but not Americans who torture and kill human beings in time of war -- and war is without limit in time or space. Among ourselves we've become less violent -- still outrageously violent, but less so -- and less racist, and less sexist, and less bigoted all around. But militarism is racism's partner. The idea of making war on white people has been taboo for 65 years. Making war on non-white people draws unquestioning support of both the genocidal and the humanitarian variety.

Do we need radical love? Yes, not only of enemies, but of invisible nonentities, those distant in space and those distant in time. We must love the foreigners we are killing and the great grandchildren we are depriving of a livable environment. And we must love them as equals, as exactly as worthy as ourselves, which obliges us to take considerable risks to our own well being. If our names and our resources are being used to murder, to maim, to terrorize, and to destroy the homes of people in huge numbers, what does that oblige us to do? And if most of us do little to nothing, what does that oblige those of us who are aware to do? My answer is anything that looks most likely to succeed, an answer that results in nonviolent actions and a lot more of them.

Why Not Give Up and Whine Miserably?

I do peace activism out of habit and paid employment. But I'm miserable when I'm not doing it, so there must be something motivating me. It certainly isn't hope that we're about to succeed. But neither have I ever spent a moment worrying that we won't. If we have a moral obligation to do something, we have the same moral obligation not to waste time fretting over whether we're about to succeed.

It certainly isn't the expectation of riches and fame and glory, which are all far more easily obtained elsewhere. But a lot of what I do is write, and I enjoy writing. I enjoy reading. I enjoy the stimulation I get from other minds through books and through discussions like this one. I enjoy the process of writing. I enjoy the praise and recognition that comes from writing and giving speeches. And yet there's no sum of money or volume of praise that can motivate me to write or speak a view I oppose or even to address a topic that I find unimportant. I just can't do it.

So, what drives me is not fundamentally recognition, but I do think it's worthwhile for those of us who are always speaking on panels to put ourselves in the shoes of those who are always in the audience. Should we not give each other recognition and praise and respect regardless of whether our roles are those of spokespeople. There are equally important and more important jobs in a movement. So take a moment right now to shake the hand of someone near you and thank them for what they do. Thank them in fact for their service, because unlike soldiers they are providing a service.

What motivates the people you just shook hands with? What motivates you? And what really motivates me? I suspect the answer is the same for all of us. We want to reduce suffering and increase happiness. I'm tempted to say I'm motivated by the severity of the crisis, the likelihood that we have very little time left to avert environmental and/or nuclear catastrophe. But this isn't true. Even a little injustice is enough. I was an activist before I knew we were destroying the atmosphere, before I knew of the level of death and trauma caused by our bombs and our billionaires, before we'd legalized baseless imprisonment, before we'd tossed out the Fourth Amendment, before we'd given presidents full war powers and personal lists of so-called nominees to be murdered. New outrages are added to old, but they weren't required to get most of us active in the first place, and we won't go silent if they're undone.

Think about a small child witnessing the death by missile of his parents and crying over their bodies in hopelessness and terror. This is not an uncommon scene. We fund it with our tax dollars. But it's in a different country far away. Were it here in this town, people would not stand for it. Undoing the policies of death would be priority number 1. But it's somewhere else. So people accept it. And that strikes me as either incredibly stupid or incredibly greedy. Stupidity offends me deeply. I have a hard time not myself offending people by mocking their cherished beliefs when I find them stupid. So, objecting to stupidity is almost certainly part of my motivation. But it's not clear to me that most people really are that stupid. I think most people go out of their way not to acknowledge what is happening because they feel ashamed and powerless and comfortable and greedy. We could have better lives without our empire, but most people don't believe that. They wish they could have the world's oil and gas and labor without killing anybody, but the next best thing is to not pay attention to the killing or the system of injustice it maintains. And that offends me. That's dishonesty -- a quality far worse than stupidity.

I'm not suggesting we worship honesty and intelligence for their own sake, but that we apply them to the basic morality of which we are all capable at close range. We can all love our loved ones. We ought to be able and willing to love, in a similar but not identical manner, everyone else as well. Everyone in some sense must be our loved one. That we don't achieve this or even strive for it is an embarrassment to be outgrown. It ought to be part of every child's education. Loving those we don't know can in fact be easier than loving some of the people we do know. It's not the same sort of love, but it has to be a kind of love if we are to find it in ourselves to take appropriate actions on their behalf and in partnership with them on behalf of us all.

What Way Forward?

I have a theory that we talk about peace and justice because we don't want to talk about peace. We chant "No justice, no peace," threatening to disturb the peace if we don't get our justice. I want to disturb the war. I want to nonviolently afflict the comfortable to comfort the afflicted but I think we need to reverse the chant. I say "No peace, no justice." You cannot begin to make justice in the middle of killing and dying. You can't build a just nation with bombs. First the bombs have to stop. That's the very first priority. Then the threat of bombs has to stop. That's the second priority. Then justice and democracy can begin.

We also talk a lot about peace without meaning it. We talk about peace in our hearts and in our personal lives. We don't mean the abolition of war and the elimination of standing armies. I'm all for peace in our hearts. And I'm all for peace in our personal lives. But I wouldn't kick out of the peace movement people who are unpleasant and acrimonious. We need all the people we can get. What I mean by peace is first and foremost and almost entirely the absence of war. It's popular to say "Peace must be more than just the absence of war," was if the mere absence of war is talk to be reserved for the speeches of beauty queens. But, you know, living is more than oxygen -- yet without reliable oxygen everything else falls apart. Without peace not much else matters.

Woody Allen said "I don't want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve immortality through not dying." Well I don't want to achieve peace in my heart or in my little corner of a dying world. I want to achieve peace through putting an end to warfare.

Justice, including the redistribution of the military's trillion dollars a year, including the liberation of nations living under our threat, including the preservation of a natural world ravaged by war making and war preparation can follow.

Now how do we make that a national priority? I'm not sure we do. I think maybe we need to make it a human priority. We have more strength in numbers and in solidarity. We need to bring the stories of others here. We need to put pressure on foreign governments that still respond to it. If we can't close the School of the Americas, but we can help convince South American nations to stop sending students, let's start there. If we can't shut down our oil companies, but the people of Iraq can block their oil law, let's help. If we can't free Bradley Manning, but we can encourage Ecuador to protect Julian Assange, we should. We should be the U.S. arm of a global movement, with the establishment of representative government in our own country as one of our distant dreams, to be advanced perhaps by work at the state and local levels where we still have a chance.

One of our top priorities in the United States must be education, about the rest of the world, and about alternatives to war thinking. By war thinking I mean the sort of thinking that is currently asking "How can we oppose war in Syria without offering an alternative?" Now most people would oppose an individual murder even if they couldn't offer an alternative. What is the alternative to murder? First and foremost it is not murdering. What is the alternative to supporting fanatical terrorists in Syria? It's demilitarization. Stop arming these dictatorships for years and then turning against them. Support nonviolent uprisings like that in Bahrain rather than assisting in the brutal crackdown. Reject violent uprisings like the one our nation has helped produce in Syria. Send in nonviolent forces. Send in independent media. Not to generate propaganda for war but to generate pressure for peace. Send aid. Not weapons that are called aid.

While there may be global trends against war, our nation has empowered presidents to make wars, guaranteeing that they will, and built up a military industrial complex that generates wars at will. The top priority of civil libertarians, of opponents of poverty, of advocates for education, or environmentalists, and of everyone working for a better world ought to be the dismantlement of the military industrial complex, and if we merged these movements we could do it. Less than 10 percent of what it swallows each year could make state college free. Imagine what the other 90% could do. Imagine what all those college-educated people could imagine that other 90% could do.

What Are We Up Against?

We're up against ignorance, including willful ignorance. We're up against apathy, which can benefit from the fantasy that all will magically work out, that the universe has a moral arc. Things may work out or we may all die horribly. That's why we do what we have to do. We're up against partisanship and the widespread poisonous idea that rather than demanding representation from our government we should be cheering for one political party within our government and forgiving all its sins. But most of all we're up against disempowerment and the ridiculous but nearly universal belief that we can't change things.

George W. Bush's memoirs recall top Republicans in 2006 secretly demanding withdrawal from Iraq under public and electoral pressure. Imagine how the peace movement would have grown if such responses to it had been public. But why shouldn't it have grown exactly the same in the face of the pretence that we were having no impact? Why should we believe such a pretense? Why should we care if it's a pretense or not? Shouldn't we push ahead as our morality requires regardless?

I recently read some memoirs by a peace activist from this part of the country named Lawrence Wittner. He participated in his first political demonstration in 1961. The USSR was withdrawing from a moratorium on nuclear testing. A protest at the White House urged President Kennedy not to follow suit. "For decades I looked back on this venture as a trifle ridiculous," Wittner wrote. "After all, we and other small bands of protesters couldn't have had any impact on U.S. policy, could we? Then in the mid-1990s, while doing research at the Kennedy Library on the history of the world nuclear disarmament movement, I stumbled onto an oral history interview with Adrian Fisher, deputy director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. He was explaining why Kennedy delayed resuming atmospheric nuclear tests until April 1962. Kennedy personally wanted to resume such tests, Fisher recalled, 'but he also recognized that there were a lot of people that were going to be deeply offended by the United States resuming atmospheric testing. We had people picketing the White House, and there was a lot of excitement about it.'" If the picketers in 1961 had had the slightest notion that Kennedy was being influenced by them, their numbers would have multiplied 10-fold.

If you work for an online activist group you discover that people will take 10 minutes to write you letters explaining why taking 10 seconds to email their lousy bum of a Congress member would be a waste of time. We've advanced to the point of actively working to disempower each other.

In 1973-1974, Wittner visited GI coffee houses in Japan including in Yokusaka, where the Midway aircraft carrier was in port. The Japanese were protesting the ship's carrying of nuclear weapons, which was illegal in Japan, and which the U.S. military, of course, lied about. But U.S. soldiers with whom Wittner and other activists had talked, brought them onto the ship and showed them the nukes. The following summer, when Wittner read in a newspaper that, "a substantial number of American GIs had refused to board the Midway for a mission to South Korea, then swept by popular protest against the U.S.-backed dictatorship, it occurred to me," writes Wittner, "that I might have played some small role in inspiring their mutiny."

In the late 1990s, Wittner interviewed Robert "Bud" McFarlane, President Ronald Reagan's former national security advisor: "Other administration officials had claimed that they had barely noticed the nuclear freeze movement. But when I asked McFarlane about it, he lit up and began outlining a massive administration campaign to counter and discredit the freeze -- one that he had directed. . . . A month later, I interviewed Edwin Meese, a top White House staffer and U.S. attorney general during the Reagan administration. When I asked him about the administration's response to the freeze campaign, he followed the usual line by saying that there was little official notice taken of it. In response, I recounted what McFarlane had revealed. A sheepish grin now spread across this former government official's face, and I knew that I had caught him."

Let's not wait to catch them. Let's know they're lying. Why do you think they're spying on us? When someone tells you to stop imagining that you're having an impact, ask them to please redirect their energy into getting 10 friends to join you in doing what needs to be done. If it has no impact, you'll have gone down trying. If it has an impact, nobody will tell you for many years. (c) 2012 David Swanson is the author of "War Is A Lie."

Fear Of A Right Planet
By Ted Rall

Romney-Ryan Extremism Could Revive Liberal Support for Obama

Soviet citizens had to be Kremlinologists, studying subtle linguistic and tonal shifts in state propaganda, noting the seating order of party leaders at official functions, in order to predict the future direction of their lives. So too are we Americans, for without any way to really get to know our politicians-their press conferences and interviews are too infrequent and carefully stagemanaged, unchallenged by compliant journalistic toadies-we are reduced to reading signals.

Even to an alienated electorate, the tealeaves are easy to read on the Republican side.

Between Romney's selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate, his team of Dubya-rehash economic advisors (because that worked out so well) and Tea Party favorite Chris Christie as keynote speaker at this year's Republican National Convention, the Republican Party is in danger of doing something that seemed impossible just a few months ago: strengthening support among the liberal base of the Democratic Party for President Obama.

Granted, disappointed lefties will not soon forget Obama's betrayals. Guantánamo, the concentration camp that supposedly holds "the worst of the worst" terrorists, remains open-although, now that the White House is reportedly negotiating with the Taliban to exchange captured Afghan ministers for an American POW, one assumes they're not all that bad. The drone wars against Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere are an affront to basic morality, logic and decency. On the economy, this tone-deaf president has yet to propose a jobs program, much less try to push one through Congress.

But many progressives, until recently threatening to sit on their hands or cast votes for a third party, are reconsidering, weighing disgust against gathering terror as they read the signals from the gathering storm in Tampa. Where Obama fails to inspire enthusiasm, the Romney team seems determined to generate as much fear as possible that he plans to shove the needle even further to the radical right than Reagan or Bush.

Romney, who abandoned his history as a centrist Massachusetts Republican and is running as a right-winger, chose to balance his newfound extremism with Paul Ryan, an even-more-right-winger. Ryan is a vicious, overrated ideologue whose greatest achievement, his theoretical budget proposal, paints a picture of America as a dystopian hell where an infinitely funded Pentagon wages perpetual war and the top 1% of the top 1% party on tax cuts while the elderly and poor starve or succumb to treatable diseases, whichever kills them first. (In the media today, this gets you lionized as "smart," "wonky," and "an intellectual heavyweight." Ryan = Sartre.) Lest you wonder whether the Ryan selection is an anomaly, wonder not-from Christie to the stump speeches to the men first in line to join a Romney cabinet, everything about Team Romney screams Tea Party, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Ayn Rand minus the cool atheism and elitism.

This is a Republican Party that Barry Goldwater wouldn't recognize, batso nutso, stripped of the last veneer of libertarianism, completely owned by and in thrall to figures whom the media would characterize as "extreme nationalist" or "neo-Nazi" if they spouted the same nonsense in other countries.

If I were advising Romney, I would tell him that cozying up to the lunatic fringe of American pseudoconservatism is not a prescription for victory in November, when the outcome hinges upon seducing that 5% or 10% of voters who swing both ways. Ryan isn't as crazy (or bold) of a choice as Sarah Palin, but what Republicans don't understand is that conservatives will vote Republican regardless of who is the vice presidential running mate or, for that matter, who is the Republican nominee for president. Lack of enthusiasm among the base wasn't Romney's big problem, it was Obama's.

Romney's biggest albatross is that he's a terrible candidate, a guy who obviously doesn't like people. And his campaign sucks. The deficit may or may not represent an looming existential threat-unemployment and the environment are more urgent-but "take your medicine" austerity isn't much of a sales pitch, especially when two-thirds of the people are already feeling squeezed. Voters reward candidates who present an optimistic vision, a future in which they see themselves richer, happier and with fuller, more lustrous hair.

The fact that Romney can't manage to put forward a credible economic program doesn't help either. Since his entire campaign is predicated on the argument that he's the economy guy and knows how to fix it, he needs to cough up a plan.

However, my real concern is that Romney's gangbusters right-wing extremism lets Obama and the Democrats off the hook.

If all Democratic strategists have to do to attract progressive voters is to frighten them with greater-evil Republicans, when will people who care about the working class, who oppose wars of choice, and whose critique of government is that it isn't in our lives enough ever see their dreams become party platform planks with some chance of being incorporated into legislation? In recent elections (c.f. Sarah Palin and some old guy versus Barry), liberals are only voting for Democrats out of terror that things will get even worse. That's no way to run a party, or a country.
(c) 2012 Ted Rall is the author of the new books "Silk Road to Ruin: Is Central Asia the New Middle East?" and "The Anti-American Manifesto."

Jeff outside the embassy

My Visit To A London Embassy Under Threat
By Jeff Cohen

London -- On Friday, I visited Ecuador's embassy here in the capital of the former British empire and saw a building surrounded by a phalanx of cops, with several of them at the front door. The embassy is in an upscale neighborhood near Harrods department store. The intimidating police presence was ordered by a Conservative government that waxes eloquent about the need to respect (British) embassies overseas.

The intensified police deployment is only part of Britain's response to Ecuador's decision -- after a long review -- to grant political asylum on human rights grounds to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who took refuge in the embassy two months ago. The British government has made it clear that it will not allow Ecuador to provide safe passage and asylum to an individual who -- for the "crime" of publishing -- has heard powerful U.S. voices in politics and media call for his murder.

At the door of the rather small embassy, I was met by cops who interrogated me about who I was and why I sought entry. I had to wonder if the embassy was under siege by Britain on behalf of Washington, which reportedly stands ready to prosecute the WikiLeaks founder. Again, that's for the "crime" of publishing -- not sexual assault.

Besides all the mainstream journalists, cameras and satellite trucks across the street from Ecuador's embassy, I was heartened to see British citizens protesting their government's actions -- and also standing up for Bradley Manning, the young U.S. Army private who faces life in prison as the accused WikiLeaks leaker of documents showing military and diplomatic crimes by the U.S. government. Among the placards I saw: "Exposing War Crimes Is Not a Crime -- Free Assange, Free Manning" and "Protect Freedom to Publish." and "If Wars Can Be Started by Lies, They Can Be Stopped By Truth."

It's important to know that Britain's Foreign Office recently threatened Ecuador in a letter -- claiming a legal basis to go ahead and arrest Assange from the embassy after revoking the building's diplomatic status. On Thursday, a prominent Conservative member of Parliament tweeted that Britain should break off diplomatic relations with Ecuador and then invade the "former embassy" to seize the WikiLeaks founder.

A U.S. group I co-founded,, is circulating a short online petition thanking Ecuador and protesting Britain's threats against the embassy and refusal to uphold the right of asylum.

As the father of two daughters (who are with me in London), I take sexual assault allegations seriously (Assange has never been charged). But standing outside this embassy surrounded by British police, it looked to me like a classic case of powerful Western states uniting to intimidate a less powerful country on behalf of their prerogatives toward domination and war. It had nothing to do with "the rule of law." And it had nothing to do with women's rights.
(c) 2012 Jeff Cohen is an associate professor of journalism and the director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College, founder of the media watch group FAIR, and former board member of Progressive Democrats of America. In 2002, he was a producer and pundit at MSNBC (overseen by NBC News). He is the author of Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media - and a cofounder of the online action group,

An Unserious Man
By Paul Krugman

Mitt Romney's choice of Paul Ryan as his running mate led to a wave of pundit accolades. Now, declared writer after writer, we're going to have a real debate about the nation's fiscal future. This was predictable: never mind the Tea Party, Mr. Ryan's true constituency is the commentariat, which years ago decided that he was the Honest, Serious Conservative, whose proposals deserve respect even if you don't like him.

But he isn't and they don't. Ryanomics is and always has been a con game, although to be fair, it has become even more of a con since Mr. Ryan joined the ticket.

Let's talk about what's actually in the Ryan plan, and let's distinguish in particular between actual, specific policy proposals and unsupported assertions. To focus things a bit more, let's talk - as most budget discussions do - about what's supposed to happen over the next 10 years.

On the tax side, Mr. Ryan proposes big cuts in tax rates on top income brackets and corporations. He has tried to dodge the normal process in which tax proposals are "scored" by independent auditors, but the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has done the math, and the revenue loss from these cuts comes to $4.3 trillion over the next decade.

On the spending side, Mr. Ryan proposes huge cuts in Medicaid, turning it over to the states while sharply reducing funding relative to projections under current policy. That saves around $800 billion. He proposes similar harsh cuts in food stamps, saving a further $130 billion or so, plus a grab-bag of other cuts, such as reduced aid to college students. Let's be generous and say that all these cuts would save $1 trillion.

On top of this, Mr. Ryan includes the $716 billion in Medicare savings that are part of Obamacare, even though he wants to scrap everything else in that act. Despite this, Mr. Ryan has now joined Mr. Romney in denouncing President Obama for "cutting Medicare"; more on that in a minute.

So if we add up Mr. Ryan's specific proposals, we have $4.3 trillion in tax cuts, partially offset by around $1.7 trillion in spending cuts - with the tax cuts, surprise, disproportionately benefiting the top 1 percent, while the spending cuts would primarily come at the expense of low-income families. Over all, the effect would be to increase the deficit by around two and a half trillion dollars.

Yet Mr. Ryan claims to be a deficit hawk. What's the basis for that claim?

Well, he says that he would offset his tax cuts by "base broadening," eliminating enough tax deductions to make up the lost revenue. Which deductions would he eliminate? He refuses to say - and realistically, revenue gain on the scale he claims would be virtually impossible.

At the same time, he asserts that he would make huge further cuts in spending. What would he cut? He refuses to say.

What Mr. Ryan actually offers, then, are specific proposals that would sharply increase the deficit, plus an assertion that he has secret tax and spending plans that he refuses to share with us, but which will turn his overall plan into deficit reduction.

If this sounds like a joke, that's because it is. Yet Mr. Ryan's "plan" has been treated with great respect in Washington. He even received an award for fiscal responsibility from three of the leading deficit-scold pressure groups. What's going on?

The answer, basically, is a triumph of style over substance. Over the longer term, the Ryan plan would end Medicare as we know it - and in Washington, "fiscal responsibility" is often equated with willingness to slash Medicare and Social Security, even if the purported savings would be used to cut taxes on the rich rather than to reduce deficits. Also, self-proclaimed centrists are always looking for conservatives they can praise to showcase their centrism, and Mr. Ryan has skillfully played into that weakness, talking a good game even if his numbers don't add up.

The question now is whether Mr. Ryan's undeserved reputation for honesty and fiscal responsibility can survive his participation in a deeply dishonest and irresponsible presidential campaign.

The first sign of trouble has already surfaced over the issue of Medicare. Mr. Romney, in an attempt to repeat the G.O.P.'s successful "death panels" strategy of the 2010 midterms, has been busily attacking the president for the same Medicare savings that are part of the Ryan plan. And Mr. Ryan's response when this was pointed out was incredibly lame: he only included those cuts, he says, because the president put them "in the baseline," whatever that means. Of course, whatever Mr. Ryan's excuse, the fact is that without those savings his budget becomes even more of a plan to increase, not reduce, the deficit.

So will the choice of Mr. Ryan mean a serious campaign? No, because Mr. Ryan isn't a serious man - he just plays one on TV.
(c) 2012 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

"....if by a liberal they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people- their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, their civil liberties... if that is what they mean by a 'liberal' then I am proud to be a liberal."
~~~ John F. Kennedy

Fletcherism and Fakery: Guarding Obama's Left Flank
By Glen Ford

Bill Fletcher and Carl Davidson are two Left opportunists with a problem. Unlike four years ago, when Fletcher co-founded Progressives for Obama, their guy now has a record - and it is indefensible. Solution: nullify the issues right up front in the title to their reworked rationale for backing the Bill of Rights-destroying, Wall Street-protecting, Africa-bombing, regime-changing corporate Democrat. Their August 9 article, "The 2012 Elections Have Little To Do With Obama's Record ... Which Is Why We Are Voting For Him" frames the campaign as a contest between "revenge-seeking" white supremacists and - well...those of us who are not revenge-seeking white supremacists. The facts of the Obama presidency - his actual behavior on war, austerity, and civil liberties - are deemed irrelevant, and the president himself becomes a mere stage prop in the battle against "Caligula," the Republicans.

Fletcher and Davidson want Blacks and progressives to respond with hysteria to GOP "irrationalism," to keep the traditional Democratic base in the Obama camp through raw fear. They claim the current campaign "will be unlike anything that any of us can remember." In truth, the abject Black failure to make a single demand of Obama, and the vapid excuses and rationalizations for the Left's political collapse in his presence, then and now, makes 2012 very much resemble 2008. Back then, Fletcher & Co. wrote:

"Barack Obama's very biography reflects the positive potential of the globalization process that also contains such grave threats to our democracy when shaped only by the narrow interests of private corporations in an unregulated global marketplace. We should instead be globalizing the values of equality, a living wage and environmental sustainability in the new world order, not hoping our deepest concerns will be protected by trickle-down economics or charitable billionaires. By its very existence, the Obama campaign will stimulate a vision of globalization from below."

Four years later, we are admonished to forget the facts as they actually transpired - and as we at BAR predicted - and pretend the current campaign is a crusade against the Tea Party, with Obama as the incidental beneficiary.

"2012 very much resembles 2008."

Right-wing populism is the bogey man, in opposition to which we must re-embrace Obama. The GOP isn't just racist, it is "irrational," crying for "a return to the past." They write:

"Obama represents an irrational symbol for the political right, and a potent symbol that goes way beyond what Obama actually stands for and practices. The right, while taking aim at Obama, also seeks, quite methodically and rationally, to use him to turn back the clock."

Of course, the meaning of the term reactionary is to "turn back the clock," a promise Republicans have been making for 50 years. And racism is fundamentally irrational, causing white supremacists to see that which is not there, be blinded to facts that are right in front of their noses, and to invent whole narratives of history. But, this time is different, Fletcher and Davison insist, because the Right is so intensely focused on the symbolism of Obama, the Black man - and so "irrational" about it that they make up ridiculous things about him, like his non-citizenhood.

Therefore, our response, as progressives, must be to forge a "common front based on resisting white revanchism... on political misogynism, on anti-'freeloader' themes aimed at youth, people of color and immigrants, and a partial defense of the so-called 1%."The fact that Obama is demonstrably not a part of that common front must not dissuade us from joining his campaign. If the Right has made Obama its symbolic focus, we must, in response, make him the focus of our "common front." If the Right hates Obama with an irrational passion, we must hug him to our breasts.

Just in case the logic of such reasoning escapes you, Fletcher and Davidson remind us that the Republicans are not merely irrational - they are crazy like Caligula.

"November 2012 becomes not a statement about the Obama presidency, but a defensive move by progressive forces to hold back the 'Caligulas' on the political right. It is about creating space and using mass campaigning to build new grassroots organization of our own. It is not about endorsing the Obama presidency or defending the official Democratic platform. But it is about resisting white revanchism and political misogynism by defeating Republicans and pressing Democrats with a grassroots insurgency, while advancing a platform of our own, one based on the 'People's Budget' and antiwar measures of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. In short, we need to do a little 'triangulating' of our own."

"Only charlatans preach that progressive movements must install preferred personalities from the menus of the ruling circles before they can find space to move."

So, it's not about "endorsing the Obama presidency" - but about voting for Obama while claiming that the facts of what he did as president don't matter. It is about the nonsense of "creating space" so that the Left can do what it ought to do anyway, but which it didn't do in the two years leading up to the 2008 election, or in the first two and a half years of the Obama presidency, until the Occupy Wall Street activists came out of left field in disgust with both parties' subservience to finance capital. The anti-war movement seems largely to oppose only Republican wars.

The great fallacy, here, is that Democratic presidents in general, and Obama in particular, somehow create "space" for progressive activism. Movements create space for themselves, by acting. Only charlatans preach that progressive movements must install preferred personalities from the menus of the ruling circles before they can find space to move.

The great tragedy of the Obama era, is that his presence has had the effect of shutting down progressive - and, most dramatically, Black - opposition to the prevailing order. This does not happen by the magic of charisma. Political operatives identified with the Left work diligently to maintain such silence - people like Fletcher and Davidson, who are once again guarding the left flank for Obama, whose great legacy has been to create vast political space for Wall Street and the Pentagon, with a minimum of resistance from white progressives, Blacks and the rest of the Democratic base.

That's why we at BAR call Obama the more effective evil.
(c) 2012 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

Mitt's 13% Tax
By Robert Reich

Mitt Romney says "every year I've paid at least 13 percent [of my income in taxes] and if you add in addition the amount that goes to charity, why the number gets well above 20 percent."

This is supposed to be in defense of not releasing his tax returns.

Assume, for the sake of the argument, he's telling the truth. Since when are charitable contributions added to income taxes when judging whether someone has paid his fair share?

More to the point, Romney admits to an income of over $20 million a year for the last several decades. Which makes his 13 percent - or even 20 percent - violate the principle of equal sacrifice that lies at the core of our notion of tax fairness.

Even Adam Smith, the 18th century guru of free-market conservatives, saw the wisdom of a graduated tax embodying the principle of equal sacrifice. "The rich should contribute to the public expense," he wrote, "not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more in proportion."

Equal sacrifice means that in paying taxes people ought to feel about the same degree of pain regardless of whether they're wealthy or poor. Logically, this means someone earning $20 million a year should pay a much larger proportion of his income in taxes than someone earning $200,000, who in turn should pay a larger proportion than someone earning $50,000.

But Romney's alleged 13 percent tax rate is lower than that of most middle class Americans who earn a tiny fraction of what he earns.

At a time when poverty is increasing, when public parks and public libraries are being closed and when public schools are shrinking their offerings and their hours, when the nation's debt is immense, and when the 400 richest Americans have more wealth than the bottom 150 million of us put together - Romney's 13 percent is shameful.
(c) 2012 Robert Reich is Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written twelve books, including The Work of Nations, Locked in the Cabinet, and his most recent book, Supercapitalism. His "Marketplace" commentaries can be found on and iTunes.

The Dead Letter Office...

Todd gives the corpo-rat salute

Heil Obama,

Dear Unterfuhrer Akin,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your electrifying the left in Missouri and women all over America, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Rethuglican whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Iron Cross first class, presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 09-11-2012. We salute you Herr Akin, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

With Romney-Ryan, GOP Becomes Grand Old Private-Equity Party
By John Nichols

The ticket Republicans will nominate in Tampa next week is uniquely connected to the "vulture capitalist" constituency, and uniquely committed to protecting the interests of today's robber-baron class.

Paul Ryan grew up in a wealthy family with a Republican bent and all the right political and corporate connections.

He could easily have made his way into the private sector -- doing business with family and friends, as have generations of wealthy Ryans.

But Paul was always the starry-eyed, perhaps wild-eyed. idealist. He read Austrian economic texts and far-right authors with a passion, committing to memory the writings of Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, Milton Friedman and his intellectual heartthrob, Ayn Rand. Reading Rand, the newly-minted Republican vice presidential contender once said was "the reason I got involved in public service."

Ryan has since tried to distance himself from Rand's extreme atheism and even more extreme attitudes regarding the least among us. But his older brother, Tobin, told reporters: "Paul can still quote every verse out of Ayn Rand."

Rand's greed-is-good thinking plays well with hedge-fund managers, private equity players and the "vulture capitalist" class that enjoys taking a break from pillaging to plod through novels about, well, guys like them.

But, as the youngest Ryan child, Paul got a little mavericky. Much as he talks up the private sector, Paul Ryan forged a career in the public sector. He's worked as a congressional aide and congressman -- with brief breaks as a conservative "think tank" associate and a speech writer for Jack Kemp's 1996 presidential campaign -- since leaving college.

But older brother Tobin followed the more tradition route for sons of privilege.

As Fortune magazine notes, Tobin Ryan is a full partner with Seidler Equity Partners, a California-based "private equity investment firm that partners with visionary executives to grow their businesses." Before he went to Seidler, Tobin worked with a politically-connected Wisconsin-based private equity firm, King Capital (founded by former Republican Party of Wisconsin chairman Steve King, who served as finance chair for Paul Ryan's congressional runs). He also put in a stint with Bain & Company, the consulting firm where Mitt Romney says he "enjoyed working with a team of people to arrive at ideas and solutions" for what Texas Governor Rick Perry described as "vulture capitalist" interventions.

Tobin Ryan joined the Bain & Co. team after Romney moved to the private-equity firm that the consulting firm spawned, Bain Capital. But the connection has raised eyebrows, and spawned plenty of headlines, in the financial press.

The Ryan brothers are, in Tobin's words, "very close." Indeed, they live "about a three-wood away from each other" in the town where the Ryans have for decades been a preeminent (construction and contracting) business family. Tobin, a frequent media spokesman and surrogate for his brother, refers to Paul's first U.S. House race as "our first campaign."

"So we've now got a former private equity executive running for president alongside the brother of a current private equity executive," observes Fortune senior editor Dan Primack.

And Paul Ryan, like Mitt Romney, is politically committed to the aiding the masters of the universe who run the private-equity empires that now so dominate the U.S. economy.

The "Roadmap for America's Future" budget plan that Ryan wrote in 2010 -- the document that, arguably, launched into orbit as a Republican star -- pledges to change tax policies to create "an enhanced investment climate." Specifically, Ryan proposed to:

* eliminate taxes on "interest, capital gains, or dividends" and estate taxes.

* allow investments to be "fully deducted immediately" by corporations.

* eliminate the corporate income tax entirely" and replace it with "a single-digit consumption tax" that businesses and investors would calculate themselves.

* repeal the alternative minimum tax, which was designed to assure that millionaires and billionaires who take advantage of tax-code loopholes will have to pay something.

How good would a Romney-Ryan administration be to the private-equity constituency?

According to a study by the chairman's staff of the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, most working Americans who earn under $200,000 a year would see their taxes go up under the latest version of the Ryan budget. By the same token, Mitt Romney -- whose income is "comprised of interest income, capital gains and dividends" -- would pay less than one percent of his income in taxes.

The Romney-Ryan approach, forged and advocated for by candidates with personal and family ties to private-equity concerns, will yield great benefits for those very wealthy Americans who understand private equity as a personal reality.

But as the Joint Economic Committee report says, "House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan claims that the policies outlined in his budget will reform the broken tax code and put 'hardworking taxpayers ahead of special interests.' In reality, the Ryan plan gives the largest tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans and will pay for those tax cuts by raising the tax burden on middle-class workers."

Indeed, the report concludes, "The richest households would receive the greatest benefit from these changes. The top 0.1 percent, for example, would receive an estimated average federal tax cut of close to $1.18 million per taxpaying household in 2015."

America's robber barons have had to wait for more than a century -- since Teddy Roosevelt went rogue and joined the anti-trust campaigners -- for a Republican ticket that would truly represent their interests.

But every indication is that the Romney-Ryan ticket will be of, by and for the private-equity managers who have become the masters of America's economic universe.

The Romney-Ryan ticket rejects not just the American faith of Democratic presidents such as Harry Truman and Franklin Roosevelt but of Republican presidents such as Dwight Eisenhower and Teddy Roosevelt.

"The absence of effective State, and, especially, national, restraint upon unfair money-getting has tended to create a small class of enormously wealthy and economically powerful men, whose chief object is to hold and increase their power," Teddy Roosevelt warned at Osawatomie, Kansas, in 1910. "The prime need to is to change the conditions which enable these men to accumulate power which it is not for the general welfare that they should hold or exercise."

That remains the prime need.

Now, unfortunately, the party of Teddy Roosevelt is preparing to nominate a ticket that is passionately at odds with the principle that the general welfare must prevail over the passions of men "whose chief object is to hold and increase their power."
(c) 2012 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His new book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, has just been published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

Does A Barking Dog Not Bite?
By Adam Keller

- "Ah, a barking dog doesn't bite."
- "Yes, I know it and so do you, but the question is: Does the dog know?"

Never in the annals of Israel - and only rarely in history in general - was a war talked about so much before it broke out. All moves and counter-moves and counter - counter-moves analyzed at length and in public. All the military and political and economic considerations stated openly and in detail. It quite often happens that generals are trigger-happy and exert their force to drag a reluctant political echelon into war. There are far fewer cases of the reverse, of political decision makers straining with all their might to go to war while the military remains wary and apprehensive and reluctant. But, this situation is now here.

In "Makor Rishon," one of the Israeli newspapers most identified with Binyamin Netanyahu, the commentator Ariel Kahane explained the warlike turmoil in terms of the struggle between the Prime Minister of Israel and the President of the United States:

After his first meeting with Obama, Netanyahu told his aides: "If that is how he is treating us as a freshly-elected President during his first term, when he still needs the Jewish vote, all the more he is going to clash with us should he be re-elected.' (...) Since the post-election Obama is not to be trusted, the best timing for action is the time between now and the elections on November 6. Should Israel attack during this time, Obama might be furious, but narrow political interests would require him to come to Israel's aid. A moment before the elections Obama cannot abandon America's ally to bleed under a barrage of missiles from Iran, Lebanon, Syria and Gaza. In spite of himself he would have no choice but going to help Israel defense, otherwise he would lose the elections."

A similar analysis could be heard in the past week from various sources, but a commentary article in Makor Rishon can be considered as a kind of semi-official message from the office of the Prime Minister. And if Obama does not act according to the script Netanyahu's office prepared for him? If the price of oil rises steeply and the world economy collapses and people around the world blame Israel? Well, nothing in life is without risks ...

And so, more and more people in this country are beginning to take seriously the possibility that this dog would not only bark but also bite - and in the very next coming months. They take it seriously and start to be very, very worried. And the protest movement against this war which is on our doorstep is growing apace.

The traditional demonstration on the anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing, held at the Ministry of Defense every August 6, the hard-core advocates of nuclear demilitarization of the Middle East were this year joined by many others. Many who were roused by the drums of war. The momentum continued in a string of demonstrations at the foot of the residential tower where the Defense Minister lives (alongside some of the richest tycoons in the Israeli economy). Night after night was the tower surrounded by hundreds of protesters.

"No war with Iran". "No roulette of at least 300 Israeli dead". "No, to war for the sake of maintaining ministerial positions." "Armageddon? No, thank you". "The Defense Minister is leading us to disaster." "Bibi, you have already ruined our lives, do not terminate them." "No, no, we don't want / A government of bombers / No, no, we don't want/ A government of tyrants." "He's crazy, he's crazy, he's crazy."

Yesterday, Israel's ambassador to the U.S., the trusted representative of Netanyahu, declares that an attack on Iran would be worthwhile even if it does not destroy the nuclear program, since "even a delay of a year is significant." And in Tehran President Ahmadinejad presented his view of "A new Middle East, one without the Zionist Cancer". As if seeking deliberately to ignite the flames of war and provide Netanyahu with material for war propaganda. Maybe its' not "as if" - since an Israeli attack may finally put off the coals of internal opposition to the Iranian regime and force the bitterest opponents of the regime to join in "national unity".

Today I saw on the bulletin board at my Holon home an urgent call for the residents to remove their belongings from the air raid shelter at the bottom of the building, so that it could fulfill its function in case of aerial bombardment...
(c) 2012 Adam Keller is an Israeli peace activist who was among the founders of Gush Shalom.

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I Misspoke-What I Meant To Say Is 'I Am Dumb As Dog Shit And I Am A Terrible Human Being'
By Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO)

As a politician, I often find myself in situations where, unfortunately, I express a certain thought or idea poorly, or find my words taken out of context. Indeed, that is what happened this weekend. Upon reviewing the impromptu remarks I made Sunday afternoon, I can now see that I used the wrong words in the wrong way. I would now like to set the record straight with the American people and clear up some confusion about what it was I intended to convey.

You see, what I said was, "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." But what I meant to say was, "I am a worthless, moronic sack of shit and an utterly irredeemable human being who needs to shut up and go away forever."

It is clear to me now that I did not choose my words with care and did not get across the point I was trying to convey. In hindsight, I guess instead of using the words "legitimate rape," I should have used the words "I am an unforgivable, unrepentant, and unconscionable subhuman dickhead." Or better yet, "I am an evil, fucked-up man who should never have been elected to the United States Congress, and anyone who would vote for me is probably a pretty big fucking dumbshit, too." See how much more sense that makes? It's amazing how a few key word changes can totally alter the meaning of a statement.

Because, of course, it's all about context. And yes, when you take what I said out of context, I can see how it might sound like I'm denying that women can be impregnated via rape. This is, I assure you, not what I was trying to express at all. Such is the age we live in that one little sentence excerpted in a news report can come back to haunt a person in a pretty big hurry. But if you actually go back and look at the remarks closely, you'll see that what I was actually trying to convey in my statement was that:

(1) I am a big fucking idiot,

(2) I am a nauseating slug of a human being who doesn't deserve to live, and

(3) I am essentially everything that's wrong with this country and with humanity in general.

Honestly, that's all I was trying to get across there. It was a simple misunderstanding, really.

It's funny, because, in my head, I remember thinking very vividly, "I, Rep. Todd Akin, am a bigoted jackass who probably should not be alive, let alone in political office. People need to know what a terrible person I am so they will then remember to punch me in the face anytime they get the chance." But when I opened my mouth and tried to articulate that thought, somehow I blurted out the thing about rape instead of just saying, in plain English, that I am awful, just purely and incontrovertibly awful.

Frankly, it's hard not to make a mistake from time to time when you're in the public eye as much as I am. I am constantly having to speak my mind in a public forum, and sometimes, when all I'm trying to say is something simple and inarguable, like, "Sweet Jesus, I am the worst person who has ever lived," I wind up saying something completely different. It's frustrating, really. Because I have a lot of very pertinent and very well-thought out things to say about how somebody should just smack me in the head with a goddamned cricket bat because of how brainless and insensitive I am, but instead my words just come out all jumbled.

I guess I just have a habit of putting my foot in my mouth! And for being the very worst that Western Civilization has to offer!

So let me take this opportunity to be very specific about what I meant Sunday, which was this: I am not a competent or respectable politician; I am, essentially, a subhuman monster of a prick, a prick as profoundly insensitive as he is monumentally unintelligent in every respect; somebody should apply dozens of layers of duct tape to my mouth every morning so that words are not able to exit my large, dumb, misogynist, imbecilic mouth at any point; I make the planet worse; I don't know jack shit about any of the topics I spoke about in that interview, or about any topics at all, really; I should apologize every day to the women of the world, but doing so would most likely be an exercise in futility given my rock-bottom intellect and my complete and utter lack of human decency; I am, in no uncertain terms, not even worth the time it took you to read this.

That's what I meant to say. Sorry for the confusion.
(c) 2012 The Onion

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Issues & Alibis Vol 12 # 34 (c) 08/24/2012

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