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In This Edition

Tom Engelhardt considers, "The Best Laid Plans."

Uri Avnery examines Ayn Rand in, "The Fountainhead."

Glenn Greenwald explains, "How The US And Israeli Justice Systems Whitewash State Crimes."

Paul Craig Roberts observes, "The Western Onslaught Against International Law."

Jim Hightower introduces, "The Brand-New Mitt."

Amy Goodman listens as, "Workers Feel The Pain Of Bain."

James Donahue finds the, "Slave System Enhanced By World Trade Deals."

David Swanson remembers, "August 27th And The Strangest Dream."

Ted Rall says, "Lead, Or Follow And Get Out Of The Race."

Adam Keller recalls, "Empty-Handed In The Battlefield."

Paul Krugman explores, "The Comeback Skid."

Ralph Nader is, "Challenging Big Labor To Fight For A Living Wage."

Robert Reich sees, "George W. Bush As Hurricane Isaac."

David Barton wins the coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

John Nichols watches as, "Paul Ryan Struggles With The Inconvenient Demands Of Democracy."

Bernie Sanders points out the, "Deficit Hawk Hypocrites."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Will Durst moans, "Oh, My Akin Ideology" but first Uncle Ernie reminds us that, "Rape Is A Method Of Conception."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Adam Zyglis, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Tom Tomorrow, You Tube High.Com, R.A., Coleen Rowley, International Solidarity Movement, Carlos Ortiz, Polaris, AP, BBC, Live Leak, 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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Rape Is A Method Of Conception
By Ernest Stewart

"Rape Is A Method Of Conception." ~~~ Paul Ryan

"This ambitious blueprint projects a sea change in the way that government works. It offers a solution for workers without jobs, families without savings and neighborhoods without hope." ~~~ Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell

"Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. ~~~ Thomas Jefferson ~ Notes on Virginia ~ 1782

All together now (All together now)
All together now (All together now)
All together now (All together now)
All together now
All Together Now ~~~ The Beatles

It really must be hard for those "Stepford Wives" to be good little robots and vote for someone like Paul Ryan. Any thinking women wouldn't vote for Paul at gunpoint; but the Rethuglicans aren't known for having any deeps thoughts about anything. Trouble is, I could certainly say the same thing about Barry's camp followers, as well.

While the feminists are standing in line to criticize Ryan and Akins for their insanity, Barry gets a free ride for war crimes, crimes against humanity, mass murder, hit lists, and such. Brainwashing is nothing new in this country; it's an old, established practice; but it's quite effective none-the-less. You always get the "lesser of two evils" song and dance from them. No, I wouldn't vote for Willard at gunpoint; but all that Willard is, is a thief; while Barry is a mass murderer. I wonder if they'd change their tune if Barry's drones were dropping Hell Fire missiles on their kids? Which is why I keep telling people to "Vote Green or vote fascist, those are your choices" or you can do as the majority of Americas do -- not vote at all!

I remember my first example of brainwashing from the Army; it was a real eye opener; in fact, it had the opposite effect on me! I had an RA or Regular Army letters before my serial number, meaning that I had volunteered (my dumb ass); so, I was already brainwashed when I went in. Most of my "roommates" had an US before their serial numbers, meaning they were draftees and many were anti-war to the bone. As the weeks went by, I watched in horror as they became "Gung Ho" while I came to my senses. The brainwashing that made them little "loyal plastic robots" and good cannon fodder had just the opposite effect on me.

Because of that, I really would like to thank the US Army -- for my eyes have been wide open ever since and on the look out for the "new-told lies" that come as a never-ending stream out of Foggy Bottom -- 24/7/365. So I've spent most of my life trying to wake people up to that fact, i. e., how can you tell when a politician is lying? His or her lips move!

While Paul Ryan didn't really say "Rape is a method of Contraception," and therefore there shouldn't be an abortion, that is certainly what he implied. Paul is no JFK Catholic; he's more of a Tomas de Torquemada Catholic and "nobody expects the American inquisition," apparently, but me! And when you couple Paul and Willard (the boy who would be god) together, the Mayan's prophecy doesn't seem so far-fetched anymore, does it?

In Other News

In case you missed the Rethuglican convention, i.e., Nazi Con 2012 like I did, here's a brief synopsis of their plans via their platform.


The GOP pledges to reform the tax code to make it easier for businesses to generate more capital and create more jobs.


"We reject the use of taxation to redistribute income, fund unnecessary or ineffective programs or foster the crony capitalism that corrupts both politicians and corporations."

It says a Republican administration would extend the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, pending reform of the tax code. It says the party would strive to eliminate taxes on interest, dividends and capital gains altogether for lower- and middle-income taxpayers. It also would work to repeal the estate tax and the alternative minimum tax.

The party backs constitutional amendments to balance the federal budget and require a super majority for any tax increases.


The platform affirms the rights of states and the federal government not to recognize same-sex marriage. It backs a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.


"Voter fraud is a political poison," the platform says. It praises legislation to require photo identification for voting and to prevent election fraud.


The party says it opposes legislation intended to restrict Second Amendment rights by limiting the capacity of clips or magazines or otherwise restoring the assault weapons ban passed during the Clinton presidency.


The party states that "the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed." It opposes using public revenues to promote or perform abortion or to fund organizations that perform or advocate abortions. It says the party will not fund or subsidize health care that includes abortion coverage.


The party is committed to domestic energy independence and an "all-of-the-above" energy policy, backing the exploration and development of the Outer Continental Shelf and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. It criticizes the Obama administration for picking winners and losers in the energy sector and expresses support for new coal-fired plants that will be low-cost, environmentally responsible and efficient.

It adds: "We will end the EPA's war on coal and encourage the increased safe development in all regions of the nation's coal resources." It calls on Congress to prohibit the EPA from moving forward with new greenhouse gas regulations "that will harm the nation's economy and threaten millions of jobs over the next quarter century."


The platform pledges to move both Medicare and Medicaid away from "the current unsustainable defined-benefit entitlement model to a fiscally sound defined-contribution model." It supports a Medicare transition to a premium-support model with an income-adjusted contribution toward a health plan of the enrollee's choice. Age eligibility in Medicare must be made more realistic in light of longer life spans.

Medicaid services for low income people would be transformed into a block grant program in which the states would be given the flexibility to determine the best programs for their residents.


The platform makes clear that "we oppose any form of amnesty for those who, by intentionally violating the law, disadvantage those who have obeyed it." It demands that the Justice Department halt lawsuits against Arizona, Alabama and other states that have enacted tough measures against illegal immigrants. It says federal funding should be denied to universities that provide in-state tuition rates to illegal immigrants. It advocates making English the official national language.


It states that a Republican president on his first day in office would use his waiver authority to halt progress in carrying out the health care act pushed through by President Barack Obama and that Republican victories in November would guarantee that the act is never implemented. It proposes a Republican plan based on improving health care quality and lowering costs and a system that promotes the free market and gives consumers more choice.


Republicans support consumer choice, including home schooling, local innovations such as single-sex classes, full-day school hours and year-round schools. It says Republicans renew their call for replacing family planning programs for teens "with abstinence education which teaches abstinence until marriage as the responsible and respected standard of behavior."


The platform says Republicans are "the party of peace through strength" and support the concept of American exceptionalism -"the conviction that our country holds a unique place and role in human history." It criticizes the current administration for its weak positions toward such countries as North Korea, China and Iran and its reductions in military spending. The Republican national military strategy "restores as a principal objective the deterrence using the full spectrum of our military capabilities."

So if you want slavery at home and war with China, you might want to vote Rethuglican, otherwise don't!

And Finally

Evangelical Christian looney tunes have had a rather bad week with their golden boy David Barton having his book pulled off the stands by his publisher. Publishers Thomas Nelson pulled David's book, "The Jefferson Lies" "due to historical errors that were found to render it unsellable." Apparently the only lies about Jefferson, in "The Jefferson Lies" were the ones that David told about Jefferson!

David is a self-described historian, who wouldn't know the truth about history even if it jumped up and bit him on the ass. Recently, however, a significant number of mainstream Christian scholars have begun to question the validity of his claims, with Christian college professor Warren Throckmorton going so far as to write a book "Getting Jefferson Right: Fact Checking Claims about Our Third President" debunking Barton's views. The last lie to spew from David's cake hole is an oldie but a goodie. David claims that the 7th Amendment to the US Constitution outlaws abortion. Last time I checked, abortion is mentioned nowhere in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. Read it for yourself in the Historical Documents section of the magazine!

One of David Barton's main areas of interest is the spiritual life of America's third president, Thomas Jefferson. Barton approaches this undeniably enigmatic subject with confidence, asserting that Jefferson was "orthodox" for most of his life, that he fought against the institution of slavery, that he used federal funds to promote Christian missions to the Indians, that he didn't believe in a "wall of separation between church and state but in a Republic that would actively promote Christianity." This is, of course, pure bullshit, and David knows it!

Here's a few quotes by Jefferson on the subject...

"Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because if there be one he must approve of the homage of reason more than that of blindfolded fear." ~~~ Thomas Jefferson, letter to Peter Carr

"But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg." ~~~ Thomas Jefferson ~ Notes on Virginia

"And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. But may we hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this most venerated reformer of human errors." ~~~ Thomas Jefferson - letter to John Adams

"You say you are a Calvinist. I am not. I am of a sect by myself, as far as I know." ~~~ Thomas Jefferson ~ letter to Ezra Stiles Ely

"Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus." ~~~ Thomas Jefferson - letter to Francis Adrian Van der Kemp

"In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own." ~~~ Thomas Jefferson ~ letter to Horatio G. Spafford

"Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between church and State." ~~~ Thomas Jefferson ~ letter to Danbury Baptist Association, Danbury, CT

I could certainly go on and list a dozen more quotes by Jefferson on religion but I think I've proved my point. Does that sound to you like Jefferson was a Christian who was against the separation of church and state? It surely doesn't to me!

Keepin' On

If I can't pay off the last bill, then you won't recognize the magazine, provided I decide to keep publishing it in that condition. Again, nothing this week in the PO Box, and time is running out. It seems a pity to have come this far (twelve years of hard work) to have to quit just when we may need Issues & Alibis the most. If Barry is toast, and we're stuck with Willard and Paul, I'm sure our readership will swell back to what it once was, which means more contributions and less stress paying the bills for everyone.

Last year we actually made a profit for the second time in our history; it was a whopping $30, which I immediately spoiled myself with some extra food, had a decent Thanksgiving meal for a change! If we can break even this year, I'd be happy with a turkey TV dinner -- just to keep up fighting the good fight. Whether or not I do is totally up to you!

If you think having us on your side bringing you the political truth that is so hard to come by in this day and age is worth something, then you might consider sending in a donation to keep us fighting that good fight. With 800 Happy Camps standing by to fill themselves up with you and your family, it might be handy to keep abreast of such things, if you want to give the kids a chance to live to a ripe, old age. If so, just send us what you can whenever you can, and we'll have your back in the tough days to come!


07-10-1934 ~ 08-23-2012
Thanks for the education!

08-05-1930 ~ 08-25-2012
Thanks for the adventure!


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.

The Best Laid Plans
How Quickly Will the US Leave Afghanistan?
By Tom Engelhardt

In the wake of several deaths among its contingent of troops in a previously peaceful province in Afghanistan, New Zealand (like France and South Korea) is now expediting the departure of its 140 soldiers. That's not exactly headline-making news here in the U.S. If you're an American, you probably didn't even know that New Zealand was playing a small part in our Afghan War. In fact, you may hardly have known about the part Americans are playing in a war that, over the last decade-plus, has repeatedly been labeled "the forgotten war."Pallbearers carry the coffin of New Zealand soldier Lance Corporal Jacinda Baker. (Photo / Getty) Still, maybe it's time to take notice. Maybe the flight of those Kiwis should be thought of as a small omen, even if they are departing as decorously, quietly, and flightlessly as possible. Because here's the thing: once the November election is over, "expedited departure" could well become an American term and the U.S., as it slips ignominiously out of Afghanistan, could turn out to be the New Zealand of superpowers.

You undoubtedly know the phrase: the best laid plans of mice and men. It couldn't be more apt when it comes to the American project in Afghanistan. Washington's plans have indeed been carefully drawn up. By the end of 2014, U.S. "combat troops" are to be withdrawn, but left behind on the giant bases the Pentagon has built will be thousands of U.S. trainers and advisers, as well as special operations forces to go after al-Qaeda remnants (and other "militants"), and undoubtedly the air power to back them all up.

Their job will officially be to continue to "stand up" the humongous security force that no Afghan government in that thoroughly impoverished country will ever be able to pay for. Thanks to a 10-year Strategic Partnership Agreement that President Obama flew to Kabul to seal with Afghan President Hamid Karzai as May began, there they are to remain until 2020 or beyond.

In other words, it being Afghanistan, we need a translator. The American "withdrawal" regularly mentioned in the media doesn't really mean "withdrawal." On paper at least, for years to come the U.S. will partially occupy a country that has a history of loathing foreigners who won't leave (and making them pay for it).

Tea Boys and Old Men

Plans are one thing, reality another. After all, when invading U.S. troops triumphantly arrived in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, in April 2003, the White House and the Pentagon were already planning to stay forever and a day -- and they instantly began building permanent bases (though they preferred to speak of "permanent access" via "enduring camps") as a token of their intent. Only a couple of years later, in a gesture that couldn't have been more emphatic in planning terms, they constructed the largest (and possibly most expensive) embassy on the planet as a regional command center in Baghdad. Yet somehow, those perfectly laid plans went desperately awry and only a few years later, with American leaders still looking for ways to garrison the country into the distant future, Washington found itself out on its ear. But that's reality for you, isn't it?

Right now, evidence on the ground -- in the form of dead American bodies piling up -- indicates that even the Afghans closest to us don't exactly second the Obama administration's plans for a 20-year occupation. In fact, news from the deep-sixed war in that forgotten land, often considered the longest conflict in American history, has suddenly burst onto the front pages of our newspapers and to the top of the TV news. And there's just one reason for that: despite the copious plans of the planet's last superpower, the poor, backward, illiterate, hapless, corrupt Afghans -- whose security forces, despite unending American financial support and mentoring, have never effectively "stood up" -- made it happen. They have been sending a stark message, written in blood, to Washington's planners.

A 15-year-old "tea boy" at a U.S. base opened fire on Marine special forces trainers exercising at a gym, killing three of them and seriously wounding another; a 60- or 70-year-old farmer, who volunteered to become a member of a village security force, turned the first gun his American special forces trainers gave him at an "inauguration ceremony" back on them, killing two; a police officer who, his father claims, joined the force four years earlier, invited Marine Special Operations advisers to a meal and gunned down three of them, wounding a fourth, before fleeing, perhaps to the Taliban.

About other "allies" involved in similar incidents -- recently, there were at least 9 "green-on-blue" attacks in an 11-day span in which 10 Americans died -- we know almost nothing, except that they were Afghan policemen or soldiers their American trainers and mentors were trying to "stand up" to fight the Taliban. Some were promptly shot to death. At least one may have escaped.

These green-on-blue incidents, which the Pentagon recently relabeled "insider attacks," have been escalating for months. Now, they seem to have reached a critical mass and so are finally causing a public stir in official circles in Washington. A "deeply concerned" President Obama commented to reporters on the phenomenon ("We've got to make sure that we're on top of this...") and said he was planning to "reach out" to Afghan President Karzai on the matter. In the meantime, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta did so, pressing Karzai to take tougher steps in the vetting of recruits for the Afghan security forces. (Karzai and his aides promptly blamed the attacks on the Iranian and Pakistani intelligence agencies.)

General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, flew to Afghanistan to consult with his counterparts on what to make of these incidents (and had his plane shelled on a runway at Bagram Air Field -- "a lucky shot," claimed a NATO spokesman -- for his effort). U.S. Afghan War commander General John Allen convened a meeting of more than 40 generals to discuss how to stop the attacks, even as he insisted "the campaign remains on track." There are now rumblings in Congress about hearings on the subject.

Struggling With the Message

Worry about such devastating attacks and their implications for the American mission, slow to rise, is now widespread. But much of this is reported in our media as if in a kind of code. Take for example the way Laura King put the threat in a front-page Los Angeles Times piece (and she was hardly alone). Reflecting Washington's wisdom on the subject, she wrote that the attacks "could threaten a linchpin of the Western exit strategy: training Afghan security forces in preparation for handing over most fighting duties to them by 2014." It almost sounds as if, thanks to these incidents, our combat troops might not be able to make it out of there on schedule.

No less striking is the reported general puzzlement over what lies behind these Afghan actions. In most cases, the motivation for them, writes King, "remains opaque." There are, it seems, many theories within the U.S. military about why Afghans are turning their guns on Americans, including personal pique, individual grudges, cultural touchiness, "heat-of-the moment disputes in a society where arguments are often settled with a Kalashnikov," and in a minority of cases -- about a tenth of them, according to a recent military study, though one top commander suggested the number could range up to a quarter -- actual infiltration or "coercion" by the Taliban. General Allen even suggested recently that some insider attacks might be traced to religious fasting for the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, combined with unseasonable summer heat, leaving Afghans hungry, tetchy, and prone to impulsive acts, guns in hand. According to the Washington Post, however, "Allen acknowledged that U.S. and Afghan officials have struggled to determine what's behind the rise in attacks."

"American officials are still struggling," wrote the New York Times in an editorial on the subject, "to understand the forces at work." And in that the editorial writers like the general reflected the basic way these acts are registering here -- as a remarkable Afghan mystery. In other words, in Washington's version of the blame game, the quirky, unpredictable Afghans from Hamid Karzai on down are in the crosshairs. What is the matter with them?

In the midst of all this, few say the obvious. Undoubtedly, a chasm of potential misunderstanding lies between Afghan trainees and their American trainers; Afghans may indeed feel insulted by any number of culturally inapt, inept, or hostile acts by their mentors. They may have been on edge from fasting for Ramadan. They may be holding grudges. None of the various explanations being offered, that is, may in themselves be wrong. The problem is that none of them allow an observer to grasp what's actually going on. On that, there really should be few "misunderstandings" and, though you won't hear it in Washington, right now Americans are actually the ones in the crosshairs, and not just in the literal sense either.

While the motives of any individual Afghan turning his gun on an American may be beyond our knowing -- just what made him plan it, just what made him snap -- history should tell us something about the more general motives of Afghans (and perhaps the rest of us as well). After all, the United States was founded after colonial settlers grew tired of an occupying army and power in their midst. Whatever the individual insults Afghans feel, the deeper insult almost 11 years after the U.S. military, crony corporations, hire-a-gun outfits, contractors, advisers, and aid types arrived on the scene en masse with all their money, equipment, and promises is that things are going truly badly; that the westerners are still around; that the Americans are still trying to stand up those Afghan forces (when the Taliban has no problem standing its forces up and fighting effectively without foreign trainers); that the defeated Taliban, one of the less popular movements of modern history, is again on the rise; that the country is a sea of corruption; that more than 30 years after the first Afghan War against the Soviets began, the country is still a morass of violence, suffering, and death.

Plumb the mystery all you want, our Afghan allies couldn't be clearer as a collective group. They are sick of foreign occupying armies, even when, in some cases, they may have no sympathy for the Taliban. This should be a situation in which no translators are needed. The "insult" to Afghan ways is, after all, large indeed and should be easy enough for Americans to grasp. Just try to reverse the situation with Chinese, Russian, or Iranian armies heavily garrisoning the U.S., supporting political candidates, and trying to stand us up for more than a decade and it may be easier to understand. Americans, after all, blow people away regularly over far less than that.

And keep in mind as well what history does tell us: that the Afghans have quite a record of getting disgusted with occupying armies and blowing them away. After all, they managed to eject the militaries of two of the most powerful empires of their moments, the British in the 1840s and the Russians in the 1980s. Why not a third great empire as well?

A Contagion of Killing

The message is certainly clear enough, however unprepared those in Washington and in the field are to hear it: forget our enemies; a rising number of those Afghans closest to us want us out in the worst way possible and their message on the subject has been horrifically blunt. As NBC correspondent Jim Miklaszewski put it recently, among Americans in Afghanistan there is now "a growing fear the armed Afghan soldier standing next to them may really be the enemy."

It's a situation that isn't likely to be rectified by quick fixes, including the eerily named Guardian Angel program (which leaves an armed American with the sole job of watching out for trigger-happy Afghans in exchanges with his compatriots), or better "vetting" of Afghan recruits, or putting Afghan counterintelligence officers in ever more units to watch over their own troops.

The question is: Why can't our leaders in Washington and in the U.S. military stop "struggling" and see this for what it obviously is? Why can't anyone in the mainstream media write about it as it obviously is? After all, when almost 11 years after your arrival to "liberate" a country, orders are issued for every American soldier to carry a loaded weapon everywhere at all times, even on American bases, lest your allies blow you away, you should know that you've failed. When you can't train your allies to defend their own country without an armed guardian angel watching at all times, you should know that it's long past time to leave a distant country of no strategic value to the United States.

As is now regularly noted, the incidents of green-on-blue violence are rising rapidly. There have been 32 of them reported so far this year, with 40 American or coalition members killed, compared to 21 reported in all of 2011, killing 35. The numbers have a chilling quality, a sense of contagion, to them. They suggest that this may be an unraveling moment, and don't think -- though no one mentions this -- that it couldn't get far worse.

To date, such incidents are essentially the work of lone wolf attackers, in a few cases of two Afghans, and in a single case of three Afghans plotting together. But no matter how many counterintelligence agents are slipped into the ranks or guardian angels appointed, don't think there's something magical about the numbers one, two, and three. While there's no way to foresee the future, there's no reason not to believe that what one or two Afghans are already doing couldn't in the end be done by four or five, by parts of squads, by small units. With a spirit of contagion, of copycat killings with a message, loose in the land, this could get far worse.

One thing seems ever more likely. If your plan is to stay and train a security force growing numbers of whom are focused on killing you, then you are, by definition, in an impossible situation and you should know that your days are numbered, that it's not likely you'll be there in 2020 or even maybe 2015. When training your allies to stand up means training them to do you in, it's long past time to go, whatever your plans may have been. After all, the British had "plans" for Afghanistan, as did the Russians. Little good it did them.

Imagine for a moment that you were in Kabul or Washington at the end of December 2001, after the Taliban had been crushed, after Osama bin Laden fled to Pakistan, and as the U.S. was moving into "liberated" Afghanistan for the long haul. Imagine as well that someone claiming to be a seer made this prediction: almost 11 years from then, despite endless tens of billions of dollars spent on Afghan "reconstruction," despite nearly $50 billion spent on "standing up" an Afghan security force that could defend the country, and with more than 700 bases built for U.S. troops and Afghan allies, local soldiers and police would be deserting in droves, the Taliban would be back in force, those being trained would be blowing their trainers away in record numbers, and by order of the Pentagon, an American soldier could not go to the bathroom unarmed on an American base for fear of being shot down by an Afghan "friend."

You would, of course, have been considered a first-class idiot, if not a madman, and yet this is exactly the U.S. "hearts and minds" record in Afghanistan to date. Welcomed in 2001, we are being shown the door in the worst possible way in 2012. Washington is losing it. It's too late to exit gracefully, but exit in time we must.
(c) 2012 Tom Engelhardt is co-founder of the American Empire Project. He is the author of The End of Victory Culture: a History of the Cold War and Beyond, as well as of a novel, The Last Days of Publishing. His most recent book is The American Way of War: How Bush's Wars Became Obama's (Haymarket Books).

The Fountainhead
By Uri Avnery

WAS not interested in Paul Ryan, the man about to be nominated by the Republican party for the office of Vice President, until the name Ayn Rand popped up.

Ayn Rand, it was said, was one of the main inspirations for his particular philosophy. Since Ryan is being represented not as an ordinary, run-of-the-mill politician, like Mitt Romney, but as a profound political and economic thinker, the inspiration deserves some scrutiny.

LIKE MOST people in this country, Ayn Rand first entered my life as the author of The Fountainhead, a novel that came out four years before the birth of the State of Israel. It quickly became a bestseller. The movie based on it, with Gary Cooper playing the main role, was even more popular.

It is the story of an architect of genius (roughly similar to Frank Lloyd Wright) who follows his own individual style and disdains the tastes of the masses. When his architectural design for a housing project is altered by the builders, he blows the buildings up, defending his actions in court in a stirring speech in defense of individualism.

(Honest disclosure: I have often dreamed of doing the same to certain buildings in Tel Aviv, especially the luxury hotels built between my home and the sea.)

I started to read her second bestseller, Atlas Shrugged, in which she set out her philosophy in detail. But I must confess, to my eternal shame, that I never finished it. It bored me.

ONE DAY IN 1974, my friend Dan Ben-Amotz called me and demanded that I immediately meet a young genius he had discovered called Dr. Moshe Kroy.

Ben-Amotz was a character by himself. A man of my age, he was at the time Israel's most conspicuous humorist and an icon of the generation that fought in the 1948 war and created the new Hebrew culture. Ben-Amotz, like many of us, was not only a self-made man, but also self-invented. He was known as the ultimate Sabra (native-born Israeli). Much later it transpired that he was actually born in Poland, arrived in Palestine as a boy and adopted the very Hebrew-sounding name to replace his original name - Moshe Tehilimzeigger ("reciter of psalms" in Yiddish).

He brought Kroy to my home and I was impressed. Here was an unusually erudite 24-year-old youngster, already a lecturer at Tel Aviv University, with thick glasses and very outspoken philosophical views.

It appeared that he was a True Believer in the teachings of Ayn Rand, which she called Objectivism. This proclaimed that egoism was the basic duty of every human being. Any kind of social commitment was a sin against nature. Only by serving his own interest and cleansing himself of any trace of altruism can a person truly fulfill himself. Society at large can progress only when it is based on such individuals, each one striving to serve only himself (or herself).

Such an outlook can be hugely attractive to a certain kind of individual. It provides them with a philosophical justification for the extreme exercise of egoism, not giving a damn for anyone else.

Kroy, and of course Ben-Amotz, were religiously devoted to this new creed. (This is, of course, an oxymoron, since Ayn Rand was a total unbeliever, condemning any form of religion, including the Jewish religion of her parents.) When I caught Ben-Amotz doing something which could be construed as beneficial to others, he went to great lengths in justifying it by proving that in the long run it was to his own ultimate advantage.

Kroy himself was obviously a very disturbed being. At the age of 41, he committed suicide. I was not certain whether Ayn Rand disturbed his mind or whether he was attracted to her because he was disturbed to start with.

AYN RAND was born as Alisa Zinovyevna Rosenbaum in Saint Petersburg, which later became Petrograd, which later became Leningrad. She was 12 years old when the Bolshevik revolution broke out in that city. The pharmacy of her parents was taken over by the regime, and the bourgeois family fled to the Crimea, which was held by White Russian forces. Later they returned to their native city, where Alisa studied philosophy and even published a book in Russian. In 1926 she reached the US, leaving her parents behind.

She adopted the name of Ayn (rhymes with "swine", as she herself was wont to explain). She probably took the word from the Hebrew, where it means "eye". The surname Rand may be a contraction of her original German-Jewish family name.

Her early history may in some measure explain her abiding hatred for Communism and any kind of collectivism, including social democracy, as well as any kind of religion or statism. For her, the state was the enemy of the free individual. This led her naturally to embrace an unbridled laissez faire capitalism (what Shimon Peres called "swinish capitalism") and to reject any form of welfare state or safety net.

All this was well structured in her philosophy, which was adopted by believers all over the world. She once called herself "the most creative thinker alive." On another occasion, she asserted that in all the annals of philosophy, there were only three great thinkers, all starting with an A: Aristotle, Aquinas and Ayn Rand.

She must have been an unabashed racist, too: during the 1973 Yom Kippur War she said that it was "civilized men fighting savages," comparing Israelis to the White Americans fighting the Red Indians.

No wonder that she posthumously became the darling of the Tea Party fanatics who are now dominating the Republican Party. And no wonder that Paul Ryan proudly cites her as one of his most important mentors. (Ayn Rand herself died in 1982 at age 77. Her funeral was attended by her devotees, including Alan Greenspan, one of the gravediggers of the US economy.)

There is something in the teachings of this Jewish White Russian preacher of extreme egoism that appeals to the primitive American myths of rugged individualism, gun-toting Wild West self-reliance, suspicion of the domination-hungry state (going back to King George the Third). But this is not the 18th century, for God's sake.

I NEVER studied philosophy, though on my path I have picked up a few dozen books about it here and there. But Ayn Rand's theories always struck me as, well, juvenile.

There is a picture in my mind. The late Israeli writer Pinchas Sadeh described how once, as an adolescent, he had climbed a ladder in the library of his kibbutz, taken out a book of Nietzsche's and stood there, at the top of the ladder, for several hours, unable to stop reading. It was, I suppose, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, a dangerous book for young people. It also had a huge impact on Ayn Rand in her younger years.

Nietzsche castigates the "Jewish pity morality," which has infected the adorable "blond beasts." Compassion for the weak is a sin, because it blunts the capabilities of the strong, those on the way to becoming supermen. Which young person does not see themself as a potential superman (or, I suppose, superwoman)?

When Dan Ben-Amotz tried to convince me of the "rational egoism" of Ayn Rand, I countered with a simple argument: when I was wounded in 1948 and lay completed exposed to enemy fire, four soldiers of my squad came up and rescued me, risking their lives. Their egoism must have told them that this was an extremely silly thing to do. Risking their most precious possession - their very lives - for another human being was inexcusable according to Ayn Rand. They had nothing to gain from it. They had everything to lose.

I have seen in my life innumerable acts of altruism, large and small. Indeed, what is love, real love, but a pure form of altruism?

Sure, every person is, to some extent, an egoist. But every person is also, to some extent, an altruist. Human beings are social animals, their social instincts deeply imbedded in their nature. Without them, human society could not function.

I TOO was captured by Nietzsche in my youth. But "Jewish pity morality" won. That's why I, like many Israelis, cannot even begin to understand American social attitudes, as illustrated yet again in the present election campaign.

For us it is self-evident that the state has a duty to help the sick, the old, the children, the handicapped and the disadvantaged. An ancient saying goes "Israel (meaning all the Jews) are responsible for each other." Long before the State of Israel was born, we already had a strong system of health insurance and social services. Social insurance, instituted in Germany by the right-wing politician Otto von Bismarck in Nietzsche's time, is for us Israelis self-evident.

Binyamin Netanyahu is an American-style Republican, a strong supporter of Mitt Romney. He has done incalculable damage to the Israeli social net, both as Finance Minister and as Prime Minister. But not even he would advertise himself as a disciple of Ayn Rand. He has, however, one thing in common with Paul Ryan: both are pushed forward and financed by Sheldon Adelson.

I can think of no purer personification of Ayn Rand's vision than this Casino billionaire. She would have adored him. He is the perfect egoist. He has become super-rich by exploiting the pitiful addiction of weak human beings. His business practices have been questioned. Yet even here there is some room for doubt: does Adelson spend hundreds of millions on people like Romney, Ryan and Netanyahu only to further his own business interests? Or do we detect even here a trace of altruism, a desire to fulfill his national and social visions, objectionable as they may be?

SINCE AYN RAND was an atheist and abhorred anything that was not purely rational, while the Tea Party is strictly religious (never mind what religion), Ryan is now compelled to distance himself from his mentoress, who was also a militant advocate of abortion.

Actually, I don't believe in either the intellectual prowess or the political honesty of the man. He looks to me slightly phoney. I am not sure that Ayn Rand would have liked him either. If only Gary Cooper could play him, he might look more convincing.
(c) 2012 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

How The US And Israeli Justice Systems Whitewash State Crimes
Courts are supposed to check the abuse of executive power, not cravenly serve it. But in the US and Israel, that is now the case
By Glenn Greenwald

The US military announced on Monday that no criminal charges would be brought against the US marines in Afghanistan who videotaped themselves urinating on the corpses of Taliban fighters. Nor, the military announced, would any criminal charges be filed against the US troops who "tried to burn about 500 copies of the Qur'an as part of a badly bungled security sweep at an Afghan prison in February, despite repeated warnings from Afghan soldiers that they were making a colossal mistake".

In doing so, the US military, as usual, brushed aside demands of Afghan officials for legal accountability for the destructive acts of foreign soldiers in their country. The US instead imposed "disciplinary measures" in both cases, ones that "could include letters of reprimand, a reduction in rank, forfeit of some pay, physical restriction to a military base, extra duties or some combination of those measures". Both incidents triggered intense protests and rioting that left dozens dead, back in February this year.

Parallel to that, an Israeli judge Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit against the Israeli government brought by the family of Rachel Corrie, the 23-year-old American student and pro-Palestinian activist who was killed by a military bulldozer in 2003 as she protested the demolition of a house in Gaza whose family she had come to befriend. Upon learning of the suit's dismissal, Corrie's mother, Cindy, said:

"I believe this was a bad day, not only for our family, but for human rights, humanity, the rule of law and also for the country of Israel."

Despite Corrie's wearing a bright orange vest, Judge Oded Gershon, in a 62-page decision, ruled that the bulldozer driver did not see her and her death was thus an accident. He went on to heap blame on Corrie for her own killing, arguing that, contrary to what "any reasonable person would have done", she "chose to put herself in danger" by trying to impede "a military activity meant to prevent terrorist activity."

The commonality in all three of these episodes is self-evident: the perversion of the justice system and rule of law as nothing more than a weapon to legitimize even the most destructive state actions, while severely punishing those who oppose them. The US and its loyal thinktank scholars have long demanded that other states maintain an "independent judiciary" as one of the key ingredients for living under the rule of law. But these latest episodes demonstrate, yet again, that the judiciary in the US, along with the one in its prime Middle East client state, is anything but "independent": its primary function is to shield government actors from accountability.

The US military has continuously imposed pitifully light "punishments" on its soldiers even for the most heinous atrocities. The wanton slaughter of two dozen civilians in Haditha, Iraq and the severe and even lethal torture of Afghan detainees generated, at worst, shockingly short jail time for the killers and, usually, little more than letters of reprimand.

Contrast this tepid, reluctant wrist-slapping for the brutal crimes of occupying soldiers with what a UN investigation found was the US government's "cruel and inhuman treatment" of Bradley Manning before he was convicted of anything. Manning has been imprisoned for more than two years now without having been found guilty of any crimes - already longer than any of the perpetrators of these fatal abuses in Iraq and Afghanistan. He faces life in prison at the age of 23 for the alleged "crime" of disclosing to the world overwhelming evidence of corruption, deceit and illegality on the part of the world's most powerful factions: disclosures that helped thwart the Obama administration's efforts to keep US troops in Iraq, and which, as even WikiLeaks' harshest critics acknowledge, played some substantial role in helping to spark the Arab spring.

Notably, the first disclosure for which Manning was allegedly responsible - the videotape of an Apache helicopter gunning down unarmed Reuters journalists and then the rescuers who came to help the wounded, including two young children - resulted in zero accountability: the US military exonerated everyone involved. Instead, it is Manning, the person accused of exposing these crimes, who is punished as the real criminal.

And herein lies the real function of the American justice system, clearly revealed time and again. It is to protect high-level actors from accountability even for the most egregious of crimes, while severely punishing those who reveal or take a stand against those crimes, thus deterring and intimidating any future opposition.

That is the mentality that has led the Obama department of justice to aggressively shield all Bush officials from any and all accountability for their torture and surveillance crimes, while launching an unprecedented persecution campaign against whistleblowers. As always in US justice, the "real" criminals are those who alert the world to high-level crimes, not those who commit them. That is why the only person to suffer any repercussions from the Bush NSA eavesdropping scandal was Thomas Tamm: the mid-level DOJ lawyer who learned of the illegal program and alerted the New York Times about it. Those who authorized those crimes have been fully shielded from any form of punishment.

It is this same mentality that has led the US federal judiciary to produce the most disgraceful political fact of the last decade. Not a single victim of America's "war on terror" abuses - even those now acknowledged by the US government to have been completely innocent - have been allowed even to have their cases heard in an American court on the merits. They've all had the courthouse doors slammed shut in the faces by courts that have accepted the US government's claims that its own secrecy powers and immunity rights bar any such justice. Crimes committed by the state or in advancement of its agenda are simply immune from the rule of law in the US.

The same exploitation of the justice system is glaringly evident in the Rachel Corrie travesty. As the Guardian's former Israel (and now Washington) correspondent Chris McGreal writes, the dismissal of this suit is simply a by-product of the "virtual impunity for Israeli troops no matter who they killed or in what circumstances." That's because Israeli courts, like American courts, have submissively accepted the supreme fiction of both governments: anyone impeding government actions is a terrorist or terrorist-enabler who gets what they deserve, while the actions of the state, no matter how savage, can never be anything other than legitimate.

Cindy Corrie, Rachel's mother, said after the verdict that Israel "employed a 'well-heeled system' to protect its soldiers and provide them with immunity". Indeed, the Israeli "investigation" into Corrie's death has been such a laughable whitewash that even the US ambassador to Israel last week told the Corrie family that he "did not believe the Israeli military investigation had been 'thorough, credible and transparent', as had been promised by Israel." All of this, writes McGreal, shows how "covering up the truth about the killings of innocents, including Corrie, became an important part of the survival strategy because of the damage the truth could do to the military's standing, not only in the rest of the world but also among Israelis."

As I noted on Sunday, it is expected, inevitable, that those who wield political power will abuse it for corrupt and self-serving ends. That is why there are institutions designed to check and combat that abuse. The rule of law, and an independent judiciary applying it, is ostensibly one of those institutions. But - like establishment media outlets and most academics - this justice system now does the opposite: it is merely another weapon used to legitimize crimes by the powerful and crush those who oppose them.

All three of this week's travesties, in the US and in Israel, are hardly surprising. To the contrary, they are the inevitable by-products of societies that recruit every institution in service of defending even the most wanton abuses by the state.
(c) 2012 Glenn Greenwald. was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book "How Would a Patriot Act?," a critique of the Bush administration's use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, "A Tragic Legacy," examines the Bush legacy.

The Western Onslaught Against International Law
By Paul Craig Roberts

A new film, "Compliance," examines "the human desire to follow and obey authority." Liberal institutions, such as the media, universities, federal courts, and human rights organizations, which have traditionally functioned as checks on the blind obedience to authority, have in our day gone over to power's side. The subversion of these institutions has transformed them from checks on power into servants of power. The result is the transformation of culture from the rule of law to unaccountable authority resting on power maintained by propaganda.

Propaganda is important in the inculcation of trust in authority.The Pussy Riot case shows the power of Washington's propaganda even inside Russia itself and reveals that Washington's propaganda has suborned important human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch, Chatham House, and Amnesty International.

Pussy Riot is described in the western media as a punk rock group, but seems in fact to be a group known as Voina (War) that performs lewd or scandalous unannounced public performances such as the one in the Russian cathedral, a sexual orgy in a museum, and events such as this and also this.

Three of the cathedral performers were apprehended, indicted, tried, convicted of breaking a statutory law, and given two-year prison sentences. The Voice of Russia recently broadcast a discussion of the case from its London studio. Representatives from Human Rights Watch and Chatham House argued that the case was really a free speech case and that the women were political prisoners for criticizing Russian President Putin.

This claim was disingenuous. In the blasphemous performance in the Russian cathedral, Putin was not mentioned. The references to Putin were added to the video posted on the Internet after the event in order to turn a crime into a political protest.

The human rights representatives also argued that the women's conviction could only happen in Putin's Russia. However, the program host pointed out that in fact most European countries have similar laws as Russia's and that a number of European offenders have been arrested and punished even more severely. Indeed, I recently read a news report from Germany that a copycat group of women had staged a similar protest in support of Pussy Riot and had been arrested. An analysis of these issues is available here.

The human rights representatives seemed to believe that Putin had failed the democratic test by failing to stop the prosecution. But a country either has the rule of law or doesn't have the rule of law. If Putin overrides the law, it means Putin is the law.

Whether Washington had a hand in the Pussy Riot event via the Russian protest groups it funds, Hitlery Clinton was quick to make propaganda. Free expression was threatened in Russia, she said.

Washington used the Pussy Riot case to pay Putin back for opposing Washington's destruction of Syria. The overlooked legal issue is Washington's interference in internal Russian affairs. The close alignment of human rights organizations with Washington's propaganda hurts the credibility of human rights advocacy. If human rights groups are seen as auxiliaries of Washington's propaganda, their moral authority evaporates.

The prevalence of the English language, due to the British domination of the world in the 18th and 19th centuries and American domination in the 20th and first decade of the 21st century, makes it easy for Washington to control the explanations. Other languages simply do not have the reach to compete.

Washington also has the advantage of having worn the White Hat in the Cold War. The peoples who were constituent parts of the Soviet empire and even many Russians themselves still see Washington as the wearer of the White Hat. Washington has used this advantage to finance "color revolutions" that have moved countries from the Russian sphere of influence into Washington's sphere of influence.

Tony Cartalucci concludes that "Amnesty International is US State Department Propaganda." Cartalucci notes that Amnesty's executive director is former State Department official Suzanne Nossel, who conflates "human rights advocacy" with US global hegemony.

Amnesty does seem like an amplifier for Washington's propaganda. Amnesty's latest email to members (August 27) is: "As if the recent trial and sentencing of three members of Pussy Riot wasn't shameful enough, now Russian police are hunting down others in the band. Make no mistake about it: Russian authorities are relentless. Just how far are the Russian authorities willing to go to silence voices of dissent? Tell the Russian government to stop hunting Pussy Riot!"

Amnesty International's August 23 email to its members, "Wake Up World," is completely one-sided and puts all blame for violence on the Syrian government, not on al Qaeda and other outside groups that Washington has armed and unleashed on the Syrian people. Amnesty is only concerned with getting visual images damning to the Syrian government before the public: "We are working to get this damning footage into the hands of journalists around the world. Support our work and help ensure that our first-hand video is seen by influential members of the media."

At least Pussy Riot got a trial. That's more than US Marine, Brandon Raub, a veteran of two tours of combat duty, got. Raub posted on Facebook his opinion that he had been misused by Washington in behalf of an illegal agenda. Local police, FBI, and Secret Service descended upon his home, dragged him out, and on the authority of a social worker, committed him to a mental hospital for observation.

I did not see any protests from Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, or Chatham House. Instead, a Virginia circuit court judge, W. Allan Sharrett, demanded Raub's immediate release, stating that there was no reason to detain and commit Raub except to punish him for exercising his free speech right.

Americans are increasingly punished for exercising free speech rights. A number of videos of police violence against the occupy movement are available on youtube. They show the goon thug gestapo cops beating women, pepper spraying protestors sitting with their heads bowed, truncheons flashing as American heads are broken and protestors beat senseless are dragged off in handcuffs for peacefully exercising a constitutionally protected right.

There has been more protest over Pussy Riot than over the illegal detention and torture of Bradley Manning or the UK government's threat to invade the Embassy of Ecuador and to drag out WikiLeaks' Julian Assange.

When a Chinese dissident sought asylum in the US embassy in China, the Chinese government bowed to international law and permitted the dissident's safe passage to the US. But "freedom and democracy" Great Britain refuses free passage to Assange who has been granted asylum, and there is no protest from Clinton at the State Department.

In "China's Rise, America's Fall," Ron Unz makes a compelling argument that the Chinese government is more respectful of the rule of law and more responsive to the people it governs than is Washington. Today it is Russia and China, not the UK and Europe, that challenge Washington's claim that the US government is above international law and has the right to overthrow governments of which it disapproves.

The lawlessness that now characterizes the US and UK governments is a large threat to humanity's finest achievement--the rule of law--for which the British fought from the time of Alfred the Great in the ninth century to the Glorious Revolution of the 17th century.

Where are the protests over the Anglo-American destruction of the rule of law?

Why Aren't Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and Chatham House on the case?
(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:

The Brand-New Mitt

Among the higher hurdles that American marketing geniuses have tried (and failed) to leap were attempts to convince car buyers to drive the ultra-ugly Edsel, and to convince consumers that what they needed was a "New Coke." But now comes the marketing leap that even Superman couldn't clear: selling Mitt Romney as a warm, loose, down-to-earth, regular guy who cares most about America's working stiffs.

Oops - take that back! Henceforth, do not ever let the word "stiff" be printed, uttered, or implied in the same sentence with Mitt's name. That was the old Romney image, and it is now officially passe.

The branding of the new, relaxed Romney is being unveiled throughout this week's four-day Republican National Convention in Tampa. The stage itself - a $2.5 million structure of dark wood and warm tones that's said to be the most intricate, market-tested piece of stagecraft ever designed - is meant to convey conviviality. Rather than an imposing podium, this one is only six feet high with swooping steps - carefully constructed to make the multimillionaire nominee appear close to the people and "approachable."

Romney's convention planner exults that, as a viewer, you'll not have a sense that you're "looking at a stage, you're looking into someone's living room." Wow, maybe Mitt will be in his jammies - that would really say "relaxed!" The whole show is meant to be a bit of Oprah and a touch of Martha Stewart, with some MTV thrown in - which is somewhat disingenuous, for all three of those are fundamentally Democratic Party in spirit rather than Republican.

As jazzy and expensive as this remake is, I don't see it selling. After all, Mitt is Mitt - an aloof, genetically-uptight child of privilege who's been in the public eye for a decade. They can't make a sow's ear out of a silk purse.
(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.

Cheryl Randecker: "Mitt Romney created the model of outsourcing jobs...
He created Bain ... he is still reaping very high benefits from Bain,
financially. So he can pick up the phone and call his buddies and
say, 'We need to stop this practice and keep the U.S. jobs here.'"

Workers Feel The Pain Of Bain
By Amy Goodman

Four hardy souls from rural Illinois joined tens of thousands of people undeterred by threats of Hurricane Isaac during this week's Republican National Convention. They weren't among the almost 2,400 delegates to the convention, though, nor were they from the press corps, said to number 15,000. They weren't part of the massive police force assembled here, more than 3,000 strong, all paid for with $50 million of U.S. taxpayer money. These four were about to join a much larger group: the more than 2.4 million people in the past decade whose U.S. jobs have been shipped to China. In their case, the company laying them off and sending their jobs overseas is Bain Capital, co-founded by the Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney.

We met the group at Romneyville, a tent city on the outskirts of downtown Tampa, established by the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign in the spirit of the Hoovervilles of the Great Depression. A couple hundred people gathered before the makeshift stage to hear speakers and musicians, under intermittent downpours and the noise of three police helicopters drowning out the voices of the anti-poverty activists. Scores of police on bicycles occupied the surrounding streets.

Cheryl Randecker was one of those four we met at Romneyville whose Bain jobs are among the 170 slated to be off-shored. They build transmission sensors for many cars and trucks made in the United States. Cheryl was sent to China to train workers there, not knowing that the company was about to be sold and the jobs she was training people for included her own. I asked her how it felt to be training her own replacements after working at the same company for 33 years:

"Knowing that you're going to be completely out of a job and there's no hope for any job in our area, it was gut-wrenching, because you don't know where the next point is going to be. I'm 52 years old. What are we going to do? To start over at this point in my life is extremely scary."

Cheryl and her co-workers learned that the Honeywell division they had been working for had been sold to Sensata Technologies. They researched Sensata. "We found out this summer that it was owned by Bain [Capital]," she said. "Then we found the connection between Bain and Governor Romney. And that just spurred a little bit of emotion ... we wanted to stand up and fight back and take a stand for the American people and for our jobs."

Cheryl and her co-workers started a petition that got 35,000 signatures, which they delivered to Bain Capital in Evanston, Ill.

They work in Freeport, in the northwest corner of Illinois, not far from Iowa and Wisconsin. Tom Gaulrapp, another 33-year veteran of the Honeywell company now owned by Sensata/Bain, knew that Romney would be campaigning in both of those swing states. He described their efforts that followed: "We attempted to bring an open letter to the Romney campaign headquarters after they repeatedly said that they were unaware of the situation. At every stop, when we tried to have contact with them, they locked us out of the building. [In] Madison, Wisconsin, they called the police on us."

So they went to a campaign event where Romney was speaking, in Bettendorf, Iowa. Tom stood up and appealed to Romney to come to Freeport to help them save their jobs. He was shouted down by the crowd, which chanted, "U.S.A! U.S.A.!" Tom continued: "We're there trying to save our jobs, and we were called communists. For trying to stop our jobs from going to communist China."

I asked Cheryl why they were targeting Romney, who no longer runs Bain. "Mitt Romney created the model of outsourcing jobs," she explained. "He created Bain ... he is still reaping very high benefits from Bain, financially. So he can pick up the phone and call his buddies and say, ‘We need to stop this practice and keep the U.S. jobs here.'"

Bonnie Borman was pregnant with her daughter when she started at the factory 23 years ago. She told me, "I now have to compete with my daughter for minimum-wage jobs." Tom added: "We've been told our last day of work will be Friday, Nov. 2. We'll file for unemployment the following Monday. The day after that, we vote." Just to be safe, they should bring a photo ID.
(c) 2012 Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!," a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 750 stations in North America. She is the co-author of "Standing Up to the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times," recently released in paperback and "Breaking The Sound Barrier."

Slave System Enhanced By World Trade Deals
By James Donahue

There was a time during the early period of the industrial revolution when most operating factories were sweat shops where people of all ages, even children, slaved for 12-hour days for low wages in extreme heat and unhealthy environments.

It took a century or more of worker rebellion, sit-down strikes, violent clashes with police and other events before workers in the United States won the right to collectively bargain for improved working conditions, better wages, paid vacations, paid health insurance and in doing so, create what has become known as the American middle class.

The first major hurtle was crossed in June, 1938, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law the Fair Standards Act. The act affected plants with a combined employment of only about one-fifth of the nation's labor force but it was a start. It banned oppressive child labor and set a minimum hourly wage at 25 cents. The maximum work week was set at 44 hours.

It seems incredible today to realize that blood was spilled by a lot of American workers to get a meager law like that on the books. It was fought by industry, by the judicial system and by members of congress who, even then, were obviously in the pockets of the nation's industrialists. It was said that Roosevelt waited until Congress adjourned for a summer break before signing the act into law just to avoid the chance of pocket vetoes designed to weaken the bill.

World War II brought a lot of changes to the nation's industrial system. While the men went off to war, the women took their places on the assembly lines. Instead of manufacturing automobiles, trucks and garments for fashion, they made tanks, jeeps, bombers, naval ships, bombs, bullets and military clothing. By the end of the war the United States emerged as the most powerful nation in the world and the nation's labor unions were in power to force better and better contract agreements for workers. It was a brief time of prosperity for everyone in the country.

Those were the years when the things manufactured in the United States were shielded from competition by overseas companies by tariffs, or taxes that raised the cost of the product to keep American made products, produced in union shops, competitive with foreign non-union made products.

But talks were underway even then to work out international trade agreements so that goods could be moved between nations without tariffs. The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) was signed by several nations in 1946 and it remained the main force until 1995 when the World Trade Organization (WTO) was created.

When the United States signed a special free trade agreement with Israel in 1985, it received little media attention. But when the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico followed in 1994, there was public alarm. The labor leaders claimed it would break the back of American industry. Supporters of NAFTA argued that the agreement opened the door for even more and better business opportunities for everybody. Since NAFTA the United States has been busy signing free trade agreements with Jordan, Australia, Chile, Singapore, Bahrain, Morocco, Oman, Peru, the Central American nations, Panama, Colombia and South Korea. Even more are in the works.

The effect has been a disastrous strike against established labor agreements in the United States. American factories were quick to move plants to Mexico, Indonesia, India, China and anyplace where there existed a vast supply of workers glad to have the opportunity to work in the American sweat shops for meager wages and without the protection of labor contracts.

While the political issue in the United States has been the loss of jobs, and the vast unemployment rolls that are now drawing heavily on federal assistance programs, established after the Great Depression, Americans are benefiting from a supply of inexpensive imported products being sold in chain stores everywhere.

It is the old war between the corporations and workers over money, but now expanded to a global scale.

There is irony in all of this. The workers in China, Indonesia, India and Mexico began using the money they earned to buy the products they were making, which included the new I-pads, desktop computers and other communication devices. They quickly joined the world conversation via the World Wide Web, and discovered that servitude is not something they must accept without question.

Unlike the surfs who broke their backs laboring for the monarchs and rulers of kingdoms of old, these workers are beginning to rebel. We are hearing stories of mass suicides by Chinese workers at the Foxconn factories that manufacture Apple computer products, workers walking off their jobs at Pizza Hut and KFC restaurants in Kathmandu, labor unrest in an automobile plant in India and strikes by workers at a clothing manufacturing plant in Bangladesh.

The power figures are beginning to resist the growing resistance. In Johannesburg, South Africa, police recently shot into a mob of striking platinum mine workers, leaving more than 30 miners dead. And workers at a General Motors plant in Colombia have sewn their mouths shut in a hunger strike to protest backbreaking labor conditions.

It looks like a repeat of history, only instead of taking a few centuries this new labor movement is operating at high speed. The belief by some anthropologists that the human race has evolved to a higher mental and spiritual level appears to be proving itself out. The poor may be willing to grasp at straws at first to climb out of poverty, but once they have a chance, they are totally unwilling to be slaves to the masters.

It is only going to be a matter of a short time before a balance is achieved throughout the world. The end result must be a new one-world system of cooperation and a sharing of the remaining world wealth. The alternative is the annihilation of the human race. No matter how hard they try to convince us otherwise, the power figures of today must fall. It is time for unity and equality for all.

This was the dream Thomas Jefferson had in mind when he penned the Declaration of American Independence. What a shame that so many greedy bastards got in the way of reaching that great goal for all these years.
(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

The author at Frank Kellogg's house in St. Paul, Minn.

August 27th And The Strangest Dream
By David Swanson

In a few places around the country groups are working to make August 27th a local or national holiday as a result of reading "When the World Outlawed War." "Last night I had the strangest dream I’d ever dreamed before," wrote Ed McCurdy in 1950 in what became a popular folk song. "I dreamed the world had all agreed to put an end to war. I dreamed I saw a mighty room, and the room was filled with men. And the paper they were signing said they’d never fight again." (Here are a few videos: Johnny Cash - Pete Seeger - Simon and Garfunkel - John Denver - Serena Ryder.)

That scene had happened in reality on August 27, 1928, in Paris, France. The treaty that was signed that day, the Kellogg-Briand Pact, was subsequently ratified by the United States Senate in a vote of 85 to 1 and remains on the books (and on the U.S. State Department’s website) to this day as part of what Article VI of the U.S. Constitution calls "the supreme Law of the Land." Frank Kellogg, the U.S. Secretary of State who made this treaty happen, was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize and saw his public reputation soar - so much so that the United States named a ship after him, one of the "Liberty ships" that carried war supplies to Europe during World War II. Kellogg was dead at the time. So, many believed, were prospects for world peace. But following World War II, for the first time ever people were prosecuted for the brand new crime of making war -- these charges explicitly justified by the Kellogg-Briand Pact. And the wealthy nations have not gone to war with each other since. War continues against and among poor nations only, much to our shame. But the possibility of eliminating war entirely if we choose has been well established.

The Kellogg-Briand Pact and its renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy is something we might want to revive. This treaty gathered the adherence of the world’s nations swiftly and publicly, driven by fervent public demand. We might think about how public opinion of that sort might be created anew, what insights it possessed that have yet to be realized, and what systems of communication, education, and elections would allow the public again to influence government policy, as the ongoing campaign to eliminate war - understood by its originators to be an undertaking of generations - continues to develop.

We might begin by remembering what the Kellogg-Briand Pact is and where it came from. Perhaps, in between celebrating Veterans Day, Memorial Day, Yellow Ribbon Day, Patriots Day, Independence Day, Flag Day, Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, and the Iraq-Afghanistan Wars Day legislated by Congress in 2011, not to mention the militaristic festival that bombards us every September 11th, we could squeeze in a day marking a step toward peace. I propose we do so every August 27th. Perhaps a national focus for Kellogg-Briand Day might be on an event in the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., (if it safely reopens following the recent earthquake) where the inscription below the Kellogg Window gives Kellogg, who is buried there, credit for having "sought equity and peace among the nations of the world."

We would be celebrating a step toward peace, not its achievement. We celebrate steps taken toward establishing civil rights, despite that remaining a work in progress. By marking partial achievements we help build the momentum that will achieve more. We also, of course, respect and celebrate the ancient establishment of laws banning murder and theft, although murder and theft are still with us. The earliest laws making war into a crime, something it had not been before, are just as significant and will long be remembered if the movement for the Outlawry of war succeeds. If it does not, and if the nuclear proliferation, economic exploitation, and environmental degradation that come with our wars continue, then before long there may be nobody remembering anything at all.

Another way to revive a treaty that in fact remains law would, of course, be to begin complying with it. When lawyers, politicians, and judges want to bestow human rights on corporations, they do so largely on the basis of a court reporter’s note added to, but not actually part of, a Supreme Court ruling from over a century back. When the Department of Justice wants to "legalize" torture or, for that matter, war, it reaches back to a twisted reading of one of the Federalist Papers or a court decision from some long forgotten era. If anyone in power today favored peace, there would be every justification for recalling and making use of the Kellogg-Briand Pact. It is actually law. And it is far more recent law than the U.S. Constitution itself, which our elected officials still claim, mostly unconvincingly, to support. The Pact, excluding formalities and procedural matters, reads in full,

The High Contracting Parties solemly [sic] declare in the names of their respective peoples that they condemn recourse to war for the solution of international controversies, and renounce it, as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another.

The High Contracting Parties agree that the settlement or solution of all disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or of whatever origin they may be, which may arise among them, shall never be sought except by pacific means.

The French Foreign Minister Aristide Briand, whose initiative had led to the Pact and whose previous work for peace had already earned him a Nobel Peace Prize, remarked at the signing ceremony,

For the first time, on a scale as absolute as it is vast, a treaty has been truly devoted to the very establishment of peace, and has laid down laws that are new and free from all political considerations. Such a treaty means a beginning and not an end. . . . [S]elfish and willful war which has been regarded from of old as springing from divine right, and has remained in international ethics as an attribute of sovereignty, has been at last deprived by law of what constituted its most serious danger, its legitimacy. For the future, branded with illegality, it is by mutual accord truly and regularly outlawed so that a culprit must incur the unconditional condemnation and probably the hostility of all his co-signatories.

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

Lead, Or Follow And Get Out Of The Race
By Ted Rall

Voters Turn Against Pols' Follow-the-Polls Strategy

In order to be a good leader, Disraeli said, "I must follow the people." Aided and abetted by toe-sucking pollster Dick Morris, Bill Clinton finessed the art of leading from the rear, relying on Morris' tracking surveys to help him decide everything from whether to bomb Serbia to when and if to take a vacation.

By definition, however, leaders point where their followers should go. Americans haven't seen much real leadership on the federal level since Reagan. Where there's been progress, such as on gay rights, the President only stepped forward after public opinion had shifted enough to make it safe.

For the first time in 30 years, Dick Morris' follow-the-voters strategy appears to be running out of steam. This year, the electorate seems to be hungering for presidents in the mold of TR, FDR and LBJ—old-school leaders who painted ambitious visions of where America could go and why it should, who took political gambles that the people might not be ready for what they had in mind, who anticipated crises and challenges before anyone else, and explained why we had to act sooner rather than later.

The craving for leadership is evident in the polls. Though personally popular and enjoying the advantages of incumbency, President Obama is running neck and neck against Mitt Romney, an awkward candidate from a minority religion who has trouble connecting with, and is seen as out of touch by, ordinary voters.

Democrats must be worried. Historically, Republican presidential nominees typically gain on Democrats throughout the fall. At this point in the game, Democrats need a substantial lead in order to emerge victorious in November.

What's going wrong? Mainly, it's the economy. It sucks. Still. Democrats say the President inherited the meltdown from Bush. But Americans blame Obama.

"The nation's painfully slow pace of growth is now the primary threat to Mr. Obama's bid for a second term, and some economists and political allies say the cautious response to the housing crisis was the administration's most significant mistake," reports The New York Times. Obama's big screw-up: "He tried to finesse the cleanup of the housing crash, rejecting unpopular proposals for a broad bailout of homeowners facing foreclosure in favor of a limited aid program—and a bet that a recovering economy would take care of the rest."

Recovery? What recovery?

The depressed housing market, coupled with the reduced purchasing power of tens of millions of Americans who lost their homes to eviction and/or foreclosure, makes recovery unlikely to impossible for the foreseeable future.

Many people, including yours truly, warned that the millions of Americans who were evicted under foreclosure, many of them illegally, were more "too big to fail" than Citigroup. Some, like former Congressman Jim Marshall (D-GA), voted for TARP, but urged the Obama Administration to condition the bailout on forcing the banks to refinance mortgages and write down principal to reflect the new reality of lower housing prices. "There was another way to deal with this, and that is what I supported: forcing the banks to deal with this. It would have been better for the economy and lots of different neighborhoods and people owning houses in those neighborhoods," Marshall says.

Voters aren't mad at Obama for not being clairvoyant. They're pissed off because he ignored people who were smart and prescient in favor of those who were clueless and self-interested, like Tim Geitner. He may be about to pay a price for that terrible decision.

Tens of millions of Americans already have.

Speaking of leadership—the art of seeing what comes next and doing something about it—what looming problems are the political class ignoring today?

It's too late to stop the 2008-to-2012 economic meltdown. But it's still possible for Obama (or, theoretically, Romney) to get ahead of the economy—permanent unemployment benefits, anybody?—and other pressing issues.

Australia, for example, is taking the climate change crisis seriously.

Americans want leaders who point the way forward, to anticipate monsters we can't yet imagine. For example, there is a huge looming crisis: pensions. In 10 to 15 years, Generation Xers will hit traditional retirement age. How will they eat?

Close to none have traditional defined-benefit pension plans. Gen Xers, who earn far less than the Baby Boomers at the same age, have been shunted into 401(k)s, which turned out to be a total ripoff: the average rate of return between 1999 and 2010 was 0.3 percent.


And much of that was withdrawn—under penalty—to subsist after layoffs.

"[Gen Xers] have no savings, and what they had was devastated by two market crashes," said Andrew Eschtruth of the Center for Retirement Research. "They never got off the ground."

If you're 45 years old now and just beginning to save for retirement, financial planners say you should save 41 percent of your income annually (if you haven't gotten laid off again). As if. Half of Gen Xers live hand to mouth; the rest save a piddling six percent a year.

The Gen X retirement crisis represents 46 million people waiting for a savior—and 46 million potential votes.

Attention Mssrs. Obama, Romney and anyone else presenting yourself as a would-be leader: Don't just read the polls. Don't follow us. Show that you care about, and have a credible plan to confront, the problems of the future. If you do that—and we're not holding our breaths—we'll pay attention to you.
(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."

Empty-Handed In The Battlefield
By Adam Keller

It was a long and detailed ruling which Judge Oded Gershon of the Haifa District Court had composed, no less than 162 pages. Of course, no media outlet published the entire text. But a few selected sentences starred in all the new items, a representative smaple:

"The Philadelphi Route was the arena of constant war, of ongoing sniper fire, rocket fire and explosive charges. None other than combat soldiers ventured there... The bulldozer crew was conducting a clearing operation under fire. The late Rachel Corrie chose to take a risk, which ultimately led to her death... The deceased had gotten herself into a dangerous situation... She did not stay away, as any sensible person would have done. The deceased's death was caused by an accident which the deceased brought on herself, despite the attempts of the IDF troops to remove her and her friends from there... Under the circumstances, the IDF unit's conduct was impeccable."

Indeed, the area known as the "The Philadelphi Route" - originally, a code name randomly determined by an IDF computer - was a war zone. An arena of the most difficult and frustrating kind of war in which a military force find itself, being charged with maintaining control over a very narrow and very long piece of land, locked between the Gaza Strip on one side and Egypt on the other. Moreover, the force's main task there was to maintain a suffocating siege on millions of people in the Strip and deny their access to essential commodities. Which made Gazans desperate and embittered, with every incentive to confront the Israeli forces in every way available to them.

It was indeed the arena of an ongoing war, a war difficult and frustrating even for the soldiers to whose lot it fell to be sent there. Still remembered is the bitter day when we could see on TV soldiers get on their knees on the land of The Philadelphi Route, trying to find pieces of the bodies of their comrades who had been inside a blown up armored personnel carrier.

Still, Judge Gershon was certainly not accurate when he wrote that combat soldiers were the only people there, in the hell of the battlefield called The Philadelphi Route. Very many, civilians were there, too - men and women, elderly and children - in their thousands and tens of thousands. The civilians were there because it was their home, the only home they had - even if was quite miserable. They had lived there before it became the scene of battle and before it came to be called Philadelphi. Many of them had come to live there because their original homes had become a battle zone in a previous war, the one which convulsed this country in 1948. And they stayed there, even when it had become the Philadelphi battle zone and the Philadelphi corridor became an arena of battle, even when some them got killed by the bullets of snipers and the explosion of explosive devices, because they literally had nowhere else to go.

And then somebody conceived a brilliant idea. The man's name was Yom Tov Samia, and he was an outstanding officer in the Israel Defense Forces who climbed fast through the ranks until he became Commanding General South. And General Samia had an idea how to win the lost war along the Route. To take up "clearing" - a word which invented by the Israel Defense Forces, the kind of word which armies make up to hide horrors behind neutral words - on a truly grand scale. To create a "sterile" space, completely sterile and without life, a kilometer or two wide. A completely flattened area with no houses and no people and no animals and no plants, nothing but soldiers and weapons of war moving in safety, as they could notice from far any possible threat and take action to neutralize that threat. In purely military terms, it must be said, there was some logic to this idea. Only, it implied the destruction of thousands of houses in which tens of thousands of people lived, half or three quarters of a city called Rafah.

Probably General Yom Tov Samia would have liked to do it all at once, in one blow, to erase "shave off" all these thousands of houses in a single day and by the next complete the sterilization of the area. But this might have caused a bit too much of an international stir, become an instant item of "Breaking News" on CNN and other network, and the political echelon did not give its approval. So the Caterpillar D-9 bulldozers were set to working by the good old method of creating "facts on the ground" bit by bit, acre by acre. Each time they erased and "shaved off" another row of houses, sometimes twenty, sometimes thirty. Usually the residents of these houses managed to jump out and run at the last minute, but some were not quick enough and were buried under the ruins of what had been their homes. In the city of Rafah, photos of those victims were printed and pasted on the walls, but media outlets in wider world were not really interested.

That was the time when volunteers started arriving on the scene, the people of the International Solidarity Movement, ISM. Yes, that organization to which Judge Gershon paid much attention in his verdict, stating that it was "abusing the discourse of Human Rights and morality" and that its acts are "violent in essence." Activists from Europe and America and all over the world came to the Gaza Strip and asked where Palestinians were most suffering from the occupation's harshness and were in greatest need of assistance and international solidarity. And they were told that Rafah was such a place. And they came to Rafah and were hosted by families on the very front line, where their hosts already knew that they were next in line for the D-9's.

And there were activists who after months in besieged Rafah went to rest and freshen up in their own quiet and safe homes at Copenhagen or Barcelona or Sydney - or Olympia in the State of Washington in the United States - and when they returned to Rafah they found that the house where they had stayed the last time no longer existed, and not a trace of it left, and the plot on which it had stood had become part of the sterile space. Another house, which had been further back, was now the new front line.

And then they decided to do what a person who cares, who cares very very much, could to do in such a situation. To go unarmed into the battlefield and arena of war called the Philadelphi Route. To stand with empty hands against tanks and bulldozers, and to scream and cry out towards those who did not really want to hear. To face empty-handed and unarmed the might of the Israel Defense Forces. To interpose with their bodies and interfere with implementation of the brilliant strategic plan of General Yom Tov Samia.

Maybe there is something in what Judge Oded Gershon wrote. A sensible person - the kind of sensible person which Judge Gershon himself is, and his friends and acquaintances - would not have done it. Judge Oded Gershon would certainly not have seriously considered facing with his bare hands a inst giant bulldozer, nearly as big as a house. "The deceased had knowingly gotten herself into a dangerous situation." There is no doubt that she did. A very dangerous situation. Jewish and world history marks a young boy named David, who knowingly placed himself in a very dangerous situation, facing a fearsome giant called Goliath. It might be that he was not a very sensible person, either.

"The bulldozer driver and his commander had a very limited field of view. They could not notice the deceased" wrote Judge Gershon. One might add that also the commander of the commander had a very limited field of view, and even the commander of the commander of the commander. A very limited field of view, in which only the immediate military considerations and objectives could be seen. A very limited field of view in which human beings could not be seen, a living city could not been as it was being destroyed and razedand erazed and made into a sterile zone. A very limited field of view where it was not possible to see a young woman who follwed the dicates of her conscience and came all the way from the West Coast of the United States to Rafah in the Gaza Strip, to risk her life in a desperate act of protest.

At the exist from the Haifa District Court, Cindy Corrie, Rachel's mother, spoke to the journalists. Hurt and shaken by the verdict she said "In that home which Rachel was trying to protect there were children. All of us should have been there, to stand with her."

Two years after the day when the bulldozer crushed Rachel Corrie to death, Israel's political and military leadership decided to terminate the hopeless fighting on the Philadelphi Route and withdraw the soldiers who have endured Hell there and made a Hell for others. Media attention had impeded implementation of the General Samia's grand design, and only a portion of the city of Rafah has actually become an "exposed" sterile area. Samia himself left the army in frustration and embarked on a successful career in the business world.

The situation of the Palestinians is far from bright. The occupation continues, with many different forms of oppression manifesting themselves every day. Also for continuing the tight siege of the Gaza Strip, new and creative ways were found even without having Israeli troops holding The Philadelphi Route. But that particular battle scene is now quiet, there are no more soldiers or bulldozers there. The home which Rachel Corrie was trying to protect had been rebuilt shortly after the soldiers left, and also the rows of houses in front and behind it. The children are playing there, more or less quietly.

She did not die in vain.
(c) 2012 Adam Keller is an Israeli peace activist who was among the founders of Gush Shalom.

The Comeback Skid
By Paul Krugman

There will be two big stars at the Republican National Convention, and neither of them will be Mitt Romney. One will, of course, be Paul Ryan, Mr. Romney's running mate. The other will be Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, who will give the keynote address. And while the two men could hardly look or sound more different, they are brothers under the skin.

How so? Both have carefully cultivated public images as tough, fiscally responsible guys willing to make hard choices. And both public images are completely false.

I've written a lot lately deconstructing the Ryan myth, so let me turn today to Mr. Christie.

When Mr. Christie took office in January 2010, New Jersey - like many other states - was in dire fiscal straits thanks to the effects of a depressed economy. Unlike the federal government, states are required by their constitutions to run more or less balanced budgets every year (although there is room for accounting gimmicks), so like other governors, Mr. Christie was forced to engage in belt-tightening.

So far so normal: while Mr. Christie has made a lot of noise about his tough budget choices, other governors have done much the same. Nor has he eschewed budget gimmicks: like earlier New Jersey governors, Mr. Christie has closed budget gaps in part by deferring required contributions to state pension funds, which is in effect a form of borrowing against the future, and he has also sought to paper over budget gaps by diverting money from places like the Transportation Trust Fund.

If there is a distinctive feature to New Jersey's belt-tightening under Mr. Christie, it is its curiously selective nature. The governor was willing to cancel the desperately needed project to build another rail tunnel linking the state to Manhattan, but has invested state funds in a megamall in the Meadowlands and a casino in Atlantic City.

Also, while much of his program involves spending cuts, he has effectively raised taxes on low-income workers and homeowners by slashing tax credits. But he vetoed a temporary surcharge on millionaires while refusing to raise the state's gasoline tax, which is the third-lowest in America and far below tax rates in neighboring states. Only some people, it seems, are expected to make sacrifices.

But as I said, Mr. Christie talks a good (and very loud) game about his willingness to make tough choices, making big claims about spending cuts - claims, by the way, that PolitiFact has unequivocally declared false. And for the past year he has been touting what he claims is the result of those tough choices: the "Jersey comeback," the supposed recovery of his state's economy.

Strange to say, however, Mr. Christie has told reporters that he won't use the term "Jersey comeback" in his keynote address. And it's not hard to see why: the comeback, such as it was, has hit the skids. Indeed, the latest figures show his state with the fourth-highest unemployment rate in the nation. Strikingly, New Jersey's 9.8 percent unemployment rate is now significantly higher than the unemployment rate in long-suffering Michigan, which has had a true comeback thanks to the G.O.P.- opposed auto bailout.

Now, state governors don't actually have much impact on short-run economic performance, so the skidding New Jersey economy isn't really Mr. Christie's fault. Still, he was the one who chose to make it an issue. And even more important, he's still pushing the policies the state's recovery was supposed to justify.

You see, all that boasting about the Jersey comeback wasn't just big talk (although it was that, too). It was, instead, supposed to demonstrate that good times were back, revenue was on the upswing, and it was now time for what Mr. Christie really wants: a major cut in income taxes.

Even if the comeback were real, this would be a highly dubious idea. By all accounts, New Jersey still has a significant structural deficit, that is, a deficit that will persist even when the economy recovers. Furthermore, the Christie tax-cut proposal would do very little for the middle class but give large breaks to the wealthy.

But in any case, the good times are by no means back, and neither is the revenue boom that was supposed to justify a tax cut. So has the very responsible Mr. Christie accepted the idea of at least delaying his tax-cut plan until the promised revenue gains materialize? Of course not.

Which brings me back to the comparison with Paul Ryan. Mr. Ryan, as people finally seem to be realizing, is at heart a fiscal fraud, boasting about his commitment to deficit reduction but actually placing a much higher priority on tax cuts for the wealthy. Mr. Christie may have a different personal style, but he's playing the same game.

In other words, meet the new boaster, same as the old boaster. And pray that we won't get fooled again.
(c) 2012 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."
~~~ H. L. Mencken

Challenging Big Labor To Fight For A Living Wage
By Ralph Nader

"Why should I listen to anything Harry Kelber says?" exclaimed a visibly indignant Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO.

Maybe because Kelber, 98 years young, has been honestly fighting for labor rights as a worker, union organizer, pamphleteer, author, professor and overall hairshirt of the moribund organized labor movement for 78 years-or 15 years before Trumka, the former coal miner and United Mine Workers' president, was born.

Kelber writes and speaks about what is on the minds of millions of union workers and non-union workers. Why aren't organized labor's leaders more aggressive in addressing the plight of American labor by challenging big companies and their political allies? Why didn't the AFL-CIO leadership hold Barack Obama in 2009, 2010, and 2011 to his specific 2008 promises to press Congress for a $9.50 federal minimum wage by 2011 and, when under control of the Democrats, get Congress to pass the "card check" that would give millions of workers a chance to organize in Walmart, McDonalds and other companies that employ low-wage labor and provide few benefits?

How can the AFL-CIO's "policy of silence and secrecy... serve the interest of union members?" Kelber criticizes the Federation for its top-down control, its aversion to any democratic process for its elections, and for not taking full advantage of the Wall Street crash, the taxpayer bailouts, and U.S. corporations sending jobs to repressive dictatorships abroad.

Kelber wants the AFL-CIO and its member unions to fight against this strip-mining of the American economy and work closely with labor unions from other countries with the same corporate employers.

In truth, to outsiders, Trumka's labor federation appears a defeated giant in its great white headquarters on Washington, D.C.'s 16th Street, across from the White House. To be sure, it confronts formidable external trends which include a declining union membership, right wing Governors attacking its pensions, faster automation, corporate globalization, huge corporate slush funds to buy or rent politicians and anti-worker laws such as the notorious union-blocking Taft-Hartley Law of 1947 now in its 65th year of damage.

The old saying, however, is that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. That is not happening. Trumka delivers "give'em hell" speeches against corporate abuses, but gives the cowardly Democratic Party and its elected officials a pass. Consequently the Democrats take campaign money from unions and, led by a President who would not have been elected president without them, take the AFL-CIO support for granted.

Recently, Cong. Jesse Jackson, Jr. and other Representatives introduced HR. 5901 (The Catching Up With 1968 Act of 2012) to enact a $10 minimum wage to benefit 30 million workers languishing between the present $7.25 minimum wage and $10. So far the AFL-CIO hasn't put any muscle or part of its multi-million dollar television ad buys behind it.

Inside an AFL-CIO's executive council meeting one day, Trumka criticized President Obama and incurred the displeasure of one labor baron who said there should be no criticism even in their private meeting. Trumka objected to that request for self-censorship.

Meanwhile, the corporate barons in the nearby U.S. Chamber of Commerce building go after Obama with hammer and tongs, even though the President has gone out of his way to coddle them, to walk over and speak to them last year - something he has not done to his AFL-CIO neighbors.

Worse, Obama appointed Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of the net job-exporting, no federal-tax-paying, anti-union, very profitable General Electric, head of the White House's Jobs Council. Mr. Trumka sits with him and never urges the repeal of Taft-Hartley while he listens to the corporatists demand more and more deregulation, tax breaks, subsidies and other forms of corporate welfare.

Kelber has pointed out the financial distress enveloping the AFL-CIO itself. So strapped is the AFL-CIO budget that it is selling its affiliates visionary 47 acre labor campus in suburban Maryland where it is reportedly losing about $6 million a year. Why? The Federation is not about to explain its budgetary priorities to its rank and file.

There are good people inside the labor headquarters. They are muzzled. Trumka will say he has his hands full with the heads of member unions who, he has implied, are not exactly progressive or aggressive for change. Here he has a point. While Trumka and John Hiatt control the staff, he has to deal with a fractious group of member unions, most of which want to stay beneath the radar and avoid notice.

Unless they have nothing to hide, union leaders generally avoid the spotlight. They remember too many prosecutions of their forbears. Don't rock the boat. Even on Labor Day, they do not come forward prominently to dominate the news with major events and announcements. The Labor Day parades are either extinct or a diluted shadow of their earlier years.

Yet, this upcoming Labor Day, as I wrote President Obama, there is a great opportunity for collaboration between him, union leaders, workers and social justice organizations to take a stand for the $10 minimum wage that is favored by 70 percent of the people. It would be a leading media event that is the long overdue right thing to do, both morally and economically.

Even Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney, until the latter waffled earlier this year, have long favored a minimum wage keeping up with inflation. Isn't it time for 30 million hardpressed American workers to receive what workers got in 1968?

Obama has not replied to my suggestion. Nor has the AFL-CIO. Kelber is right. It is time for a new labor federation of, by and for the workers. See Kelber's and participate. He vigorously welcomes you and your views.
(c) 2012 Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His most recent book - and first novel - is, "Only The Super-Rich Can Save Us." His most recent work of non-fiction is The Seventeen Traditions.

George W. Bush As Hurricane Isaac
By Robert Reich

There is nothing Republicans would rather the American people forget more than George W. Bush, who doesn't even have a bit-part at the GOP convention opening in Tampa.

But W's ghost may be there, anyway.

The National Weather Service says tropical storm Isaac is now heading for New Orleans, and Isaac is projected to become a Category 1 hurricane by the time it makes landfall late Monday or early Tuesday.

Isaac is very likely to revive memories of the Bush administration's monumental incompetence in dealing with the needs of Americans caught in Hurricane Katrina.

And if the public remembers the Bush administration's incompetence with Katrina, they may also recall the Bush administration's incompetence and its lies about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq - which led us into that devastating war.

And the public may recall how George W. Bush took the $5 trillion surplus Bill Clinton bequeathed to him and turned it into a $6 trillion budget deficit by slashing taxes, mostly on the rich, and by creating an expensive new Medicare drug benefit that helped drug companies more than it helped seniors.

The public might even recall how the Bush administration tried not to see what Wall Street was up to when the Street went on a rampage of risky bets, and then, when Wall Street was about to melt down, pushed Congress into approving a no-strings bailout - both of which cost the nation billions more.

Indeed, we're still living with George W. Bush's legacy - the last Republican to occupy the White House - which is a truth that Romney is desperate to put out of our minds. He wants to blame the bad economy, and most of everything else, on Obama.

The GOP was intent on not even bringing up Bush's name at the GOP convention, because the former president might also remind Americans how little the Republicans care about average Americans, like those caught in Hurricane Katrina, and how much they care about top corporate and Wall Street executives, like those being entertained in Tampa.

But Hurricane Isaac seems likely to remind Americans anyway.

Let us hope and pray Isaac doesn't cause the disaster of Katrina. We can at least be confident that the Obama administration will respond as the Bush administration didn't.

But the split screen on the TV newscasts - part GOP convention, part Hurricane Isaac bashing into the Gulf Coast - may nonetheless pose a public-relations disaster for the GOP.
(c) 2012 Robert Reich is Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written twelve books, including The Work of Nations, Locked in the Cabinet, and his most recent book, Supercapitalism. His "Marketplace" commentaries can be found on and iTunes.

The Dead Letter Office...

Heil Obama,

Dear propaganda ansager Barton,

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 lies that the 7th Amendment outlaws abortion, 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 Barton, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

Paul Ryan Struggles With The Inconvenient Demands Of Democracy
By John Nichols

Janesville, WI-Paul Ryan will finally make his way home to Janesville, Wisconsin, Monday. In anticipation of his nomination by the Republican National Convention for vice president, Ryan will headline a "send-off" rally at a local high school. Then he'll try to make it to Tampa as Hurricane Isaac hits.

It's significant that, even as his fellow Republicans rearrange their flight schedules, Ryan will finally find time to visit his hometown-two weeks after Mitt Romney tapped the House Budget Committee chairman as his running mate. The decision of the Romney-Ryan campaign to hold an initial "homecoming" rally more than sixty miles from Janesville, a blue-collar town that tends to vote the Democratic line, was duly noted by his constituents.

That's problematic for Ryan, as he will not just be running with Romney in November.

The congressman is actually running two races:

1. As a junior member of the Republican presidential ticket that seeks to remove Democrats Barack Obama and Joe Biden from the White House.

2. As a Congressional incumbent who-despite his national candidacy-is still seeking a new term representing southeastern Wisconsin in the US House. Taking advantage of a Wisconsin law that allows contenders on a national ticket to remain on the ballot in their House races, Ryan is running a "have-it-all" re-election campaign that would allow him to stay in the House if the Romney-Ryan ticket loses.

Ryan's focus is clearly on race No. 1.

The congressman has for all intents and purposes agreed to debate Biden. They're set to face each other October 11 at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, and it should be a great debate. Ryan and the vice president disagree on just about everrything, and they are fundamentally different contenders: Ryan, the multi-millionaire son of privilege whose "rise to political power and financial stability was boosted by family money and connections" (in the words of The Los Angeles Times); Biden, the scrappy working-class kid who made his own way to the top.

But Ryan has yet to agree to debate his challenger in the Wisconsin House race.

In his past House runs, Ryan willingly debated less-viable challengers. But Zerban is mounting a serious race; having raised more than $1 million, organized a volunteer army and spent more than a year working the district while Ryan has been chasing the cameras.

Ryan still has the advantages of incumbency in the House race: a district that was drawn to favor him in the recent partisan redistricting process, one of the largest bankrolls of any Congressional candidate in the country, nightly news coverage of the sort that pushes him toward 100 percent name recognition.

But Zerban is making this a real contest.

Ryan should respect that fact, just as he should respect the voters of Janesville and the other communities that make up the First Congressional District enough to come home more than once, campaign for their votes and debate Zerban..

Ryan and Zerban have fundamentally different positions on the issues. Ryan wants to undermine Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid with what former House Speaker Newt Gingrich refers to as "right-wing social experimentation," while Zerban would preserve these programs. Ryan opposes meaningful healthcare reforms that would expand access to care while cutting costs, while Zerban supports the real reform of a "Medicare for All" program. Ryan supports free-trade deals and manufacturing policies that have led to the shuttering of major industrial facilities in Janesville (a General Motors plant), Kenosha (a Chrysler plant) and Oak Creek (a Delphi plant) during the course of his Congressional tenure, while Zerban favors fair trade policies designed to protect jobs, communities and the environment. Ryan advocates for narrowing the definition of rape as part of an aggressive push to limit reproduction rights, while Zerban supports a woman's right to choose.

And Zerban's story of working his way up from humble roots to business success provides a stark contrast to Ryan's life-of-privilege story.

The Ryan-Zerban debate has the potential be every bit as good as the Biden-Ryan debate. The question is whether Paul Ryan respects his Wisconsin constituents enough to join the debate-and to actually ask for their votes.

Such demands are inconvenient when you are a Republican "rock star" jetting around the country.

But democracy can be inconvenient. And Ryan owes it to his constituents more than the photo opportunities of a "send-off" rally for his national campaign.
(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.

Deficit Hawk Hypocrites
By Bernie Sanders

Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan and the Republican Party are now mounting a massive attack against Social Security and other programs. Using "deficit reduction" as their rationale, they are attempting to dismantle every major piece of legislation passed since the 1930s that provides support and security to working families.

They are being aided by at least 23 billionaire families, led by the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson, who are spending hundreds of millions of dollars in this campaign as a result of the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision. Despite paying the lowest effective tax rate in decades, the billionaires want more tax breaks for the very rich. Despite the fact that the elimination of strong regulations caused the Wall Street meltdown and a terrible recession, the billionaires want more deregulation. Despite outsourcing of millions of good-paying American jobs to China and other low-wage countries, the billionaires want more unfettered free trade.

At this pivotal moment in American history, it's important to note how we got into this deficit crisis, who was responsible and what is the fairest way to address it.

Let us never forget that when Bill Clinton left office in 2001, this country enjoyed a healthy $236 billion SURPLUS.

Under George W. Bush and his fellow "deficit hawks," we went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq. Bush and Congress "forgot" to pay for those wars that will end up adding some $3 trillion to our national debt. Where were Paul Ryan and the other "deficit hawks" when we spent trillions on wars and added to the deficit? They voted for those policies.

Under George W. Bush and his fellow "deficit hawks," we gave huge tax breaks to the wealthiest people in this country, which cost $1 trillion over a decade. Where were Paul Ryan and the other "deficit hawks" when Bush and Congress spent a trillion dollars on tax breaks for the very rich and added to our national debt? They voted for those policies.

Under George W. Bush and his fellow deficit hawks, Congress passed an overly expensive Medicare prescription drug program written by the insurance companies and drug industry. The government was barred from negotiating lower drug prices with the pharmaceutical industry under the program, which will end up adding $400 billion to our national debt over a 10-year period. Where were Paul Ryan and the other "deficit hawks" when Bush and Congress spent $400 billion for a much too expensive prescription drug program? They voted for those policies.

Now, having run up huge deficits, our born-again "deficit hawks" want to cut every program in sight to save money. In order to cover the costs they incurred in Iraq and Afghanistan, they want to cut Social Security. In order to cover the costs of the tax breaks for the rich, they want to cut Medicare and Medicaid. In order to cover the insurance-company-written Medicare prescription drug program, they want to cut education and food stamps.

This approach - balancing the budget on the backs of the elderly, the sick, the children and the poor - is not only immoral, it is bad economic policy. It is something that must be vigorously opposed.

The $16 trillion national debt and the current $1 trillion deficit are serious problems, but they must be addressed in a fair way that will not cripple our economy, lead to the loss of jobs and punish people who are already hurting.

At a time when the wealthiest people in this country are doing phenomenally well and when their effective tax rate is the lowest in decades, the richest people in this country have got to be asked to pay their fair share of taxes.

At a time when corporate profits are soaring and when about one in four major profitable corporations pays nothing in federal income taxes, we must end corporate loopholes and demand that corporate America starts paying its fair share of taxes.

At a time when this country loses $100 billion every single year because wealthy people and corporations stash money in tax havens in the Cayman Islands and elsewhere, we must crack down on abusive tax cheats.

The United States military budget has virtually tripled since 1997, and we now spend nearly as much as the rest of the world combined. It is time to take a hard look at military spending.

There are serious and responsible ways to move this country toward deficit reduction. Unfortunately, that's not what Romney and Ryan are talking about. For them, it's the same old Republican saga: more tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, and more austerity and pain for the most vulnerable people in this country.
(c) 2012 Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006 after serving 16 years in the House of Representatives. He is the longest serving independent member of Congress in American history. Elected Mayor of Burlington, Vt., by 10 votes in 1981, he served four terms. Before his 1990 election as Vermont's at-large member in Congress, Sanders lectured at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and at Hamilton College in upstate New York. Read more at his website.

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Adam Zyglis ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Oh, My Akin Ideology
By Will Durst

Mining humor out of Missouri Senate hopeful Todd Akin's barrage of claptrap is tougher than eating frozen jerky in a rowboat on the eyewall of Hurricane Isaac. Normally, rape and funny live in two different solar systems, whose orbits rarely if ever intersect with significantly different trajectories and fields of gravity, if you catch our drift.

But this guy's historic and colossally moronic remark is the very exception that proves the rule winning him in one fell brimming swoop, the Joe Biden "Foot So Deep In His Mouth He's Probably Tickling His Spleen with His Shoelaces" Lifetime Achievement Award.

During an interview with St. Louis television station KTVI, the Republican Congressman told a reporter, that from what he understands from doctors, women who are legitimately raped don't get pregnant. And the plopping noise across the country from mouths dropping open was loud enough to wake every student at Gallaudet University.

Now, we expect our anthropoidal troglodytes to believe stupid stuff; we're just not used to hearing their inane anthropoidal troglodytic beliefs articulated out loud. Refreshing and depressing at the same time.

Wow. Where do you start? Legitimately raped? Suffice it to say that no qualifying adverb is ever necessary in front of that particular noun. Especially from a man. And what does he mean by "legitimate"? It seems to infer something exists that could be known as "illegitimate" rape but, oh no, we're not going there. As redundant as Halloween in San Francisco. Boring in Burlington. Hot in hell.

Next to the abstracted nonsense of his feeble-minded opinion, it's the casual attribution that rankles. Here's a man running for the US Senate using medieval wives' tales as philosophical justification. And he's a member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology? Let's hope his concentration is on space and technology. Notwithstanding the space between his ears.

Also makes one worry about the state of the medical profession in Missouri. Is the Show Me State overrun with puritanical shamans? 13th century barbers? Filipino psychic surgeons? Physician bags stuffed with snake oil and leeches? Do their white jackets have long long sleeves that wrap around the back where they're buckled real tight?

The inundation was so overwhelming it came close to rendering Chris Matthews speechless. Almost. While an oblivious Akin tried to walk back his clueless comments, the GOP brought out the industrial strength cattle prods to walk him back over a cliff. Steep drop. Sharp rocks. Big waves.

Republicans needed to reignite a War on Women right before their national convention the same way a fireworks factory needs a grease fire on July 3rd and the entire party rented jet skis to rooster tail away from the eye of stupidity as far and fast as possible.

The storm surge of Hurricane Akin washed a bit of the shine off Golden Boy, Paul Ryan, as well. He and Akin have a history of introducing bills to redefine rape and both oppose a woman's right to choose following one. Not a problem for Romney though. Who thinks completely different. Or doesn't. No one's quite sure.

Thus far, the Tea Party favorite is determined to stay in and go full term. And Democrats across the nation are shouting themselves hoarse fanning the waves of this deluge, while whispering words of encouragement hoping this testament of dark bewilderment exercises his god - given right to remain consummately cretinous in public. To election day! And beyond!
(c) 2012 Will Durst, is a San Francisco based political comedian, Will Durst, often writes: this is an example. Don't forget his new CD, "Raging Moderate" from Stand-Up Records now available on both iTunes and Amazon. The New York Times says Emmy-nominated comedian and writer Will Durst "is quite possibly the best political satirist working in the country today." Check out his website: to find out about upcoming stand-up performances or to buy his book, "Will Durst's Totally Indispensable Guide to the 2012 Election."

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Issues & Alibis Vol 12 # 35 (c) 08/31/2012

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