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In This Edition

Noam Chomsky examines, "9/11 And The Imperial Mentality."

Uri Avnery warns Israel will soon unleash the, "Dogs Of War."

David Sirota considers, "The Lesson Of The Chinese Invasion."

David Swanson with a discovery, "I Just Found 29 Million Jobs."

Jim Hightower tells a few, "Perry Tales: job creation."

Helen Thomas reviews Cheney's new book, "In His Time."

James Donahue concludes that the, "Last Light Of Real Journalism Just Went Out."

Michael Winship finds, "Eric Cantor: Mean, Ornery And Just Plain Wrong."

Ralph Nader envisions, "Obama's Laborious Labor Day."

Mike Folkerth returns with, "Job Creation? I'm Thinkin' Not."

Paul Krugman explores, "The Fatal Distraction."

Chris Floyd explains, "He Who Gets Slapped."

Robert Scheer reminds us of, "How Little We Know About The Origins Of 9/11."

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder wins the coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!

John Nichols asks and answers, "How Will We Pay For Obama's New Jobs Push? Answer: Tax Wall Street."

Phil Rockstroh tells, "A Labor Day Tale Of Three Cities."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion reports, "Ongoing Iraqi Violence Almost Makes American Invasion Seem Pointless" but first Uncle Ernie sez, "Remember, Remember, The Eleventh Of September!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Lalo Alcaraz, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Tom Tomorrow, Kevin Siers, Mike Wrathell, Erich Origen, Stuart Carlson, 9Q9Q.Com, Regisser.Com, The Onion, WikiLeaks, Life Magazine, 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."

Remember, Remember, The Eleventh Of September!
By Ernest Stewart

"It is already possible to know, beyond a reasonable doubt, one very important thing: the destruction of the World Trade Center was an inside job, orchestrated by terrorists within our own government." ~~~ David Ray Griffin, Ph.D.

"I don't get Obama anymore - he can't even beat Boehner on what day his speech is? He's a Sphinx to me - by that I mean a giant pussy." ~~~ Bill Maher

"We are returning cash assistance to its original intent as a transitional program to help families while they work toward self-sufficiency." ~~~ Michigan Governor Rick Snyder

It's always something,
There's always something going wrong
That's the only guarantee,
That's what this is all about
Life Is A Lemon ~~~ Meatloaf

Well, gosh, how time flies when you're having fun, huh, America? Has it really been ten years since the PNAC project came to fruition?

You'll recall the proud PNAC statement on this subject, right?

"Further, the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event--like a new Pearl Harbor"

You'll also remember that we knew about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor long before it happened, as the British had broken the J-25 purple naval code in March of 1941, and had given it to us in early May! Was 9/11 a conspiracy? You betcha it was. Did those two airliners bring down the WTC without the aid of explosives? Most probably not! Did Building Seven have some help for insurances' possibilities? Most likely. Having seen films of Building Seven's collapse, I have no doubt -- from the bow in the roof, to how it fell, it's like every other building I've seen brought down by explosives. Did Flight 93 crash because of heroic passengers, or was it shot down by a missile, like a dozen witnesses said? I'm voting for the missile -- a crashed airliner doesn't leave a debris field miles away, covering a lake. One shot down from 35,000 feet does!

Was that a plane or a missile that hit the Pentagon? Until I see definite proof, I'll go with the missile. The hole it left in the building was circular, no signs of wings or tail, and it punctured all five rings (ten strengthen walls) of the Pentagon, and left a circular hole through all of them, like a missile that's hardened for punching through concrete and steel. The FBI got all the film from cameras in the surrounding area -- in fact, from miles around; some of which should have clearly shown that airliner. They say they have such evidence, but in ten years have failed to release a thing. Doesn't it seem to be to their advantage to do so? It would end all those conspiracy thoughts in a heartbeat! I've no doubt if they really had such evidence, it would've been shown years ago!

But for the sake of argument, let's say that all the commission reports are true. They still don't explain why we didn't stop the plot -- we knew without a doubt that it was coming, who was behind it (again, for the sake of argument, let's say that it wasn't the CIA, PNAC and the Crime Family Bush), when it would happen, and what the targets would be. We knew because the spooks from eleven countries from England to Israel, Saudi Arabia to Germany, warned us that they knew.

In fact, yours truly predicted it back in July of 2001, and said so. I didn't get it quite correct, as I thought it would happen a week earlier and I thought the targets would include the CIA and NSA. Don't know why I didn't see the 9/11 thing. My bad! So if I could figure it out simply by mining world news, I'm sure our unelected government knew, too, without any outside help. Remember Kinda-sleazy said "I don't think that anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, take another one and slam it into the Pentagon, that they would try to use an airplane as a missile." When Bush took a missile battery with him to Italy in the spring to the G-8 summit, because the Italian spooks stopped a plan to do the very same thing -- fly a hijacked airliner into the G-8 conference building. Later, when all this was brought out, she changed her story that we knew, but who could believe such a thing? Anyone that was paying attention, that's who, Kinda-sleazy! Oh, and did I mention that twelve times in the seven years before 9/11, the CIA reported that hijackers might use airplanes as weapons!??!

You'll recall in June, Bush stopped allowing airline pilots to carry side arms -- every president since JFK had allowed them to do so -- and a week later announced that no members of his government would fly commercial flights. What does that tell you? Then, of course, it was all over the European newspapers that a major attack was coming that summer; it wasn't all that hard to figure out the how and where it would go down. I figured it out by simple deductive reasoning. We figured out at the time that seven governments had warned us but when Tony (the Poodle's) main man Robin Cook who left Tony's cabinet and said that it was eleven different countries that had tried to warn us, then Robin committed "suicide" with the help of MI5! That knowledge brought up a question! The question was rather simple, and either way, there should be a lot of Rethuglican heads on stakes a long time ago. So, were they involved in the actual planning? Remember that Osama was a CIA spook, on their payroll up until September 12, 2001, or did they just let it happen? I could go on and on for hours with various pieces of evidence that point to the conspiracy, but life is short! Either way, they got the Pearl Harbor they were looking for, and changed the world for the worse ever since; in fact, it very well may be what destroys America as a world power.

To paraphrase V (and only Zeus knows who the original poet was) so Ya'll forgive me for this:

Remember, remember, the Eleventh of September
The airliner treason and plot
I know of no reason
Why the airliner treason
Should ever be forgot!

Do you know of a reason, America?

In Other News

Some of you have asked if I was going to wait and publish on Friday so as to wait and hear and comment upon Obamahood's speech on jobs Thursday night. Nope; what would be the point? It will be full of pretty words, sound and fury at the Rethuglicans, and signifying... can you guess... all together now... NOTHING! Not a god-damned thing!

Barry, who has spent most all of his tenure destroying jobs and making the rich richer, only now turns to the 50 million Americans who are unemployed or under-employed, as his ratings slide toward oblivion! Barry could've done great things for the middle and working classes when he had a majority in the House and Senate, but chose instead to fatten the bloated wallets of the elite, and leave the rest of us to blow in the wind. This not only cost him control of the House, but brought those wonderful brain-dead tea baggers into power, helping him destroy what's left of America. Now that 2012 looms large, he's turning back into the Barry who pretended to be a liberal, who said he'd work tirelessly for the people, instead of turning his back on them, and doing everything in his power to destroy the middle class.

The folks that turned out in Detroit were as dumb as dumb can be, not just the black folks who were gushing with pride over Obama partial blackness, but white unionists, who gave him an ovation every time words came out of his cake hole -- people who knew better, and yet cheered and applauded him at every chance. So, what's the point of tuning in Thursday night for some more shucking and jiving? 95% of what he promised to do back in 2008 has never reached the light of day, so why would I bother wasting my time listening to him tell some new lies? I will go to the online White House site and read the speech on Friday.

As to what his speech will entail, whether said out loud or read between-the-lines, it might be summed up by what he said in Detroit on Labor Day:

"So, I'm going to propose ways to put America back to work that both parties can agree to, because I still believe both parties can work together to solve our problems."

That's what I call belaboring over Labor Day! I'm going to repeat that again, for those of you on drugs...

Barry thinks that the Rethuglicans are willing to compromise with him and can be worked with for our benefit!

Well, hasn't that worked out well for America in the last 33 months? Can you think of single instance where Obamahood got them to agree to anything, without giving them not only what they wanted, but volunteering to give them things that even they would've never hoped to get! He gave them a million dollars and got us a dime in return! An incredible waste of the bully pulpit!

The highlight of the Detroit Labor Day event was when Jimmy's little boy, Teamsters President James Hoffa, made a speech before Obama took the stage. Hoffa likened union fights to a "war" and a "battle" between union workers and tea baggers. In his speech, he said about the tea baggers:

"Everybody here has got a vote. If we go back and we keep the eye on the prize. Let's take these sons of bitches out and give America back to America where we belong!"

And, believe you me, James knows how to take someone out! Just like his daddy, Jimmy, did--who got taken out himself, and became the fenders and hood of a 1978 Cadillac, after being taken out to dinner. More power to you, James! I have no doubt that if Barry is re-elected, he'll continue to do the same things which will continue the fall of America, the loss of millions of new jobs, and our continued slide down the road to the Third World! Trouble is, the Presidency of Rick Perry could make things even worse! Or not? We'll see!

And Finally

I see where our beloved fascist Governor Rick Hitler, er, Snyder, has just put the ink to a law that will throw 30,000 children out in the street, with a brutal Michigan winter coming on! Along with the kids, another 11,000 adults will find themselves out in the cold, with many more joining them everyday, starting October 1st.

Rick, the millionaire Rethuglican businessman, has spent his time in the Governor's shack giving Michigan tax money to his rich friends and the shaft to the people. I guess Rick thinks they can all go out and get a job with all those other millions in Michigan that are unemployed or under-employed as Michigan has the third highest unemployment rate in the nation. An unemployment rate of 10.9. With the folks that they don't count, you can double that rate to over 20%.

I wonder how many of the morons that voted Rick in will find themselves cast loose into the gale of this depression? I have no problem with them succumbing to their own stupidity as some folks are far too stupid to live -- just a culling of the herd -- but the children that will be hurt or murdered by this is quite another thing! And to throw them to the wolves is no doubt murder!

Of course, I wrote Rick a letter, but unfortunately I couldn't print it here as we have young folks that visit the magazine, and I came off sounding like a pissed-off, drunken sailor! Fortunately for Michigan, after January, we can impeach Rick, and send him back to Ann Arbor, but not into the frozen wastelands of Michigan in the winter; seems a pity, does it not? Rick says not to worry, because they can still get food stamps and Medicaid, which is, of course, bullshit, because you have to have an address to receive those. You also need a permanent address to enroll in school, and since it's illegal not to send your kids to school, I can see where the vast majority of those kids will be taken from their families. Perhaps Rick will open up the doors to his mansion just outside Ann Arbor so those 40,000 + folks can get a hot meal and a warm place to sleep and have a permanent address? What do you think, America? Do you think he will?

Keepin' On

Letters, we get letters, and one of those letters informed me that the Warren County Public Library of Bowling Green, KY has blocked Issues & Alibis on their computer system county-wide, in all five of their locations. So, you know what I did, don't you?

That's right, I wrote their director Lisa Rice a note asking why:

Dear Lisa,

It has come to my attention via several readers that your library system, i.e., the Warren County Public Library of Bowling Green, KY is blocking our news magazine Issues & Alibis Why? What other news organizations are being blocked? Is it just liberal sites? I'm sure our many readers would like to know why a library system would block the news? Was it done at the behest of Rand Paul?

Sincerely yours,
Ernest Stewart
Managing editor
Issues & Alibis Magazine

Don't get me wrong, folks; I take this as a badge of honor, just like when I made Nixon's enemies list! Still, a library system should be unbiased and neutral, shouldn't it? If you think it should, do call or write Lisa and let her know. Call or write Lisa at:

Lisa Rice
(270)781-4882 x202

This just in, Lisa wrote back saying that she's looking into it. I'll let you know how it turns out!

If this pisses you off and would like to see us keep fighting the good fight against the fascists, then please send us a donation so that we can keep it up and get blocked by every fascist library system in America. Seems to me a worthy goal! Think of the MSM news that would generate and the readership that would bring!


04-13-1938 ~ 09-07-2011
Thanks for all that jazz!


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) 2011 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for the last 10 years managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Face Book. Follow me on Twitter.

9/11 And The Imperial Mentality
Looking Back on 9/11 a Decade Later
By Noam Chomsky

We are approaching the 10th anniversary of the horrendous atrocities of September 11, 2001, which, it is commonly held, changed the world. On May 1st, the presumed mastermind of the crime, Osama bin Laden, was assassinated in Pakistan by a team of elite US commandos, Navy SEALs, after he was captured, unarmed and undefended, in Operation Geronimo.

A number of analysts have observed that although bin Laden was finally killed, he won some major successes in his war against the U.S. "He repeatedly asserted that the only way to drive the U.S. from the Muslim world and defeat its satraps was by drawing Americans into a series of small but expensive wars that would ultimately bankrupt them," Eric Margolis writes. "'Bleeding the U.S.,' in his words." The United States, first under George W. Bush and then Barack Obama, rushed right into bin Laden's trap... Grotesquely overblown military outlays and debt addiction... may be the most pernicious legacy of the man who thought he could defeat the United States" -- particularly when the debt is being cynically exploited by the far right, with the collusion of the Democrat establishment, to undermine what remains of social programs, public education, unions, and, in general, remaining barriers to corporate tyranny.

That Washington was bent on fulfilling bin Laden's fervent wishes was evident at once. As discussed in my book 9-11, written shortly after those attacks occurred, anyone with knowledge of the region could recognize "that a massive assault on a Muslim population would be the answer to the prayers of bin Laden and his associates, and would lead the U.S. and its allies into a 'diabolical trap,' as the French foreign minister put it."

The senior CIA analyst responsible for tracking Osama bin Laden from 1996, Michael Scheuer, wrote shortly after that "bin Laden has been precise in telling America the reasons he is waging war on us. [He] is out to drastically alter U.S. and Western policies toward the Islamic world," and largely succeeded: "U.S. forces and policies are completing the radicalization of the Islamic world, something Osama bin Laden has been trying to do with substantial but incomplete success since the early 1990s. As a result, I think it is fair to conclude that the United States of America remains bin Laden's only indispensable ally." And arguably remains so, even after his death.

The First 9/11

Was there an alternative? There is every likelihood that the Jihadi movement, much of it highly critical of bin Laden, could have been split and undermined after 9/11. The "crime against humanity," as it was rightly called, could have been approached as a crime, with an international operation to apprehend the likely suspects. That was recognized at the time, but no such idea was even considered.

In 9-11, I quoted Robert Fisk's conclusion that the "horrendous crime" of 9/11 was committed with "wickedness and awesome cruelty," an accurate judgment. It is useful to bear in mind that the crimes could have been even worse. Suppose, for example, that the attack had gone as far as bombing the White House, killing the president, imposing a brutal military dictatorship that killed thousands and tortured tens of thousands while establishing an international terror center that helped impose similar torture-and-terror states elsewhere and carried out an international assassination campaign; and as an extra fillip, brought in a team of economists -- call them "the Kandahar boys" -- who quickly drove the economy into one of the worst depressions in its history. That, plainly, would have been a lot worse than 9/11.

Unfortunately, it is not a thought experiment. It happened. The only inaccuracy in this brief account is that the numbers should be multiplied by 25 to yield per capita equivalents, the appropriate measure. I am, of course, referring to what in Latin America is often called "the first 9/11": September 11, 1973, when the U.S. succeeded in its intensive efforts to overthrow the democratic government of Salvador Allende in Chile with a military coup that placed General Pinochet's brutal regime in office. The goal, in the words of the Nixon administration, was to kill the "virus" that might encourage all those "foreigners [who] are out to screw us" to take over their own resources and in other ways to pursue an intolerable policy of independent development. In the background was the conclusion of the National Security Council that, if the US could not control Latin America, it could not expect "to achieve a successful order elsewhere in the world."

The first 9/11, unlike the second, did not change the world. It was "nothing of very great consequence," as Henry Kissinger assured his boss a few days later.

These events of little consequence were not limited to the military coup that destroyed Chilean democracy and set in motion the horror story that followed. The first 9/11 was just one act in a drama which began in 1962, when John F. Kennedy shifted the mission of the Latin American military from "hemispheric defense" -- an anachronistic holdover from World War II -- to "internal security," a concept with a chilling interpretation in U.S.-dominated Latin American circles.

In the recently published Cambridge University History of the Cold War, Latin American scholar John Coatsworth writes that from that time to "the Soviet collapse in 1990, the numbers of political prisoners, torture victims, and executions of non-violent political dissenters in Latin America vastly exceeded those in the Soviet Union and its East European satellites," including many religious martyrs and mass slaughter as well, always supported or initiated in Washington. The last major violent act was the brutal murder of six leading Latin American intellectuals, Jesuit priests, a few days after the Berlin Wall fell. The perpetrators were an elite Salvadorean battalion, which had already left a shocking trail of blood, fresh from renewed training at the JFK School of Special Warfare, acting on direct orders of the high command of the U.S. client state.

The consequences of this hemispheric plague still, of course, reverberate.

From Kidnapping and Torture to Assassination

All of this, and much more like it, is dismissed as of little consequence, and forgotten. Those whose mission is to rule the world enjoy a more comforting picture, articulated well enough in the current issue of the prestigious (and valuable) journal of the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London. The lead article discusses "the visionary international order" of the "second half of the twentieth century" marked by "the universalization of an American vision of commercial prosperity." There is something to that account, but it does not quite convey the perception of those at the wrong end of the guns.

The same is true of the assassination of Osama bin Laden, which brings to an end at least a phase in the "war on terror" re-declared by President George W. Bush on the second 9/11. Let us turn to a few thoughts on that event and its significance.

On May 1, 2011, Osama bin Laden was killed in his virtually unprotected compound by a raiding mission of 79 Navy SEALs, who entered Pakistan by helicopter. After many lurid stories were provided by the government and withdrawn, official reports made it increasingly clear that the operation was a planned assassination, multiply violating elementary norms of international law, beginning with the invasion itself.

There appears to have been no attempt to apprehend the unarmed victim, as presumably could have been done by 79 commandos facing no opposition -- except, they report, from his wife, also unarmed, whom they shot in self-defense when she "lunged" at them, according to the White House.

A plausible reconstruction of the events is provided by veteran Middle East correspondent Yochi Dreazen and colleagues in the Atlantic. Dreazen, formerly the military correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, is senior correspondent for the National Journal Group covering military affairs and national security. According to their investigation, White House planning appears not to have considered the option of capturing bin Laden alive: "The administration had made clear to the military's clandestine Joint Special Operations Command that it wanted bin Laden dead, according to a senior U.S. official with knowledge of the discussions. A high-ranking military officer briefed on the assault said the SEALs knew their mission was not to take him alive."

The authors add: "For many at the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency who had spent nearly a decade hunting bin Laden, killing the militant was a necessary and justified act of vengeance." Furthermore, "capturing bin Laden alive would have also presented the administration with an array of nettlesome legal and political challenges." Better, then, to assassinate him, dumping his body into the sea without the autopsy considered essential after a killing -- an act that predictably provoked both anger and skepticism in much of the Muslim world.

As the Atlantic inquiry observes, "The decision to kill bin Laden outright was the clearest illustration to date of a little-noticed aspect of the Obama administration's counterterror policy. The Bush administration captured thousands of suspected militants and sent them to detention camps in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay. The Obama administration, by contrast, has focused on eliminating individual terrorists rather than attempting to take them alive." That is one significant difference between Bush and Obama. The authors quote former West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, who "told German TV that the U.S. raid was 'quite clearly a violation of international law' and that bin Laden should have been detained and put on trial," contrasting Schmidt with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who "defended the decision to kill bin Laden although he didn't pose an immediate threat to the Navy SEALs, telling a House panel... that the assault had been 'lawful, legitimate and appropriate in every way.'"

The disposal of the body without autopsy was also criticized by allies. The highly regarded British barrister Geoffrey Robertson, who supported the intervention and opposed the execution largely on pragmatic grounds, nevertheless described Obama's claim that "justice was done" as an "absurdity" that should have been obvious to a former professor of constitutional law. Pakistan law "requires a colonial inquest on violent death, and international human rights law insists that the 'right to life' mandates an inquiry whenever violent death occurs from government or police action. The U.S. is therefore under a duty to hold an inquiry that will satisfy the world as to the true circumstances of this killing."

Robertson usefully reminds us that "[i]t was not always thus. When the time came to consider the fate of men much more steeped in wickedness than Osama bin Laden -- the Nazi leadership -- the British government wanted them hanged within six hours of capture. President Truman demurred, citing the conclusion of Justice Robert Jackson that summary execution 'would not sit easily on the American conscience or be remembered by our children with pride... the only course is to determine the innocence or guilt of the accused after a hearing as dispassionate as the times will permit and upon a record that will leave our reasons and motives clear.'"

Eric Margolis comments that "Washington has never made public the evidence of its claim that Osama bin Laden was behind the 9/11 attacks," presumably one reason why "polls show that fully a third of American respondents believe that the U.S. government and/or Israel were behind 9/11," while in the Muslim world skepticism is much higher. "An open trial in the U.S. or at the Hague would have exposed these claims to the light of day," he continues, a practical reason why Washington should have followed the law.

In societies that profess some respect for law, suspects are apprehended and brought to fair trial. I stress "suspects." In June 2002, FBI head Robert Mueller, in what the Washington Post described as "among his most detailed public comments on the origins of the attacks," could say only that "investigators believe the idea of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon came from al Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan, the actual plotting was done in Germany, and the financing came through the United Arab Emirates from sources in Afghanistan." What the FBI believed and thought in June 2002 they didn't know eight months earlier, when Washington dismissed tentative offers by the Taliban (how serious, we do not know) to permit a trial of bin Laden if they were presented with evidence. Thus, it is not true, as President Obama claimed in his White House statement after bin Laden's death, that "[w]e quickly learned that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by al-Qaeda."

There has never been any reason to doubt what the FBI believed in mid-2002, but that leaves us far from the proof of guilt required in civilized societies -- and whatever the evidence might be, it does not warrant murdering a suspect who could, it seems, have been easily apprehended and brought to trial. Much the same is true of evidence provided since. Thus, the 9/11 Commission provided extensive circumstantial evidence of bin Laden's role in 9/11, based primarily on what it had been told about confessions by prisoners in Guantanamo. It is doubtful that much of that would hold up in an independent court, considering the ways confessions were elicited. But in any event, the conclusions of a congressionally authorized investigation, however convincing one finds them, plainly fall short of a sentence by a credible court, which is what shifts the category of the accused from suspect to convicted.

There is much talk of bin Laden's "confession," but that was a boast, not a confession, with as much credibility as my "confession" that I won the Boston marathon. The boast tells us a lot about his character, but nothing about his responsibility for what he regarded as a great achievement, for which he wanted to take credit.

Again, all of this is, transparently, quite independent of one's judgments about his responsibility, which seemed clear immediately, even before the FBI inquiry, and still does.

Crimes of Aggression

It is worth adding that bin Laden's responsibility was recognized in much of the Muslim world, and condemned. One significant example is the distinguished Lebanese cleric Sheikh Fadlallah, greatly respected by Hizbollah and Shia groups generally, outside Lebanon as well. He had some experience with assassinations. He had been targeted for assassination: by a truck bomb outside a mosque, in a CIA-organized operation in 1985. He escaped, but 80 others were killed, mostly women and girls as they left the mosque -- one of those innumerable crimes that do not enter the annals of terror because of the fallacy of "wrong agency." Sheikh Fadlallah sharply condemned the 9/11 attacks.

One of the leading specialists on the Jihadi movement, Fawaz Gerges, suggests that the movement might have been split at that time had the U.S. exploited the opportunity instead of mobilizing the movement, particularly by the attack on Iraq, a great boon to bin Laden, which led to a sharp increase in terror, as intelligence agencies had anticipated. At the Chilcot hearings investigating the background to the invasion of Iraq, for example, the former head of Britain's domestic intelligence agency MI5 testified that both British and U.S. intelligence were aware that Saddam posed no serious threat, that the invasion was likely to increase terror, and that the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan had radicalized parts of a generation of Muslims who saw the military actions as an "attack on Islam." As is often the case, security was not a high priority for state action.

It might be instructive to ask ourselves how we would be reacting if Iraqi commandos had landed at George W. Bush's compound, assassinated him, and dumped his body in the Atlantic (after proper burial rites, of course). Uncontroversially, he was not a "suspect" but the "decider" who gave the orders to invade Iraq -- that is, to commit the "supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole" for which Nazi criminals were hanged: the hundreds of thousands of deaths, millions of refugees, destruction of much of the country and its national heritage, and the murderous sectarian conflict that has now spread to the rest of the region. Equally uncontroversially, these crimes vastly exceed anything attributed to bin Laden.

To say that all of this is uncontroversial, as it is, is not to imply that it is not denied. The existence of flat earthers does not change the fact that, uncontroversially, the earth is not flat. Similarly, it is uncontroversial that Stalin and Hitler were responsible for horrendous crimes, though loyalists deny it. All of this should, again, be too obvious for comment, and would be, except in an atmosphere of hysteria so extreme that it blocks rational thought.

Similarly, it is uncontroversial that Bush and associates did commit the "supreme international crime" -- the crime of aggression. That crime was defined clearly enough by Justice Robert Jackson, Chief of Counsel for the United States at Nuremberg. An "aggressor," Jackson proposed to the Tribunal in his opening statement, is a state that is the first to commit such actions as "[i]nvasion of its armed forces, with or without a declaration of war, of the territory of another State ...." No one, even the most extreme supporter of the aggression, denies that Bush and associates did just that.

We might also do well to recall Jackson's eloquent words at Nuremberg on the principle of universality: "If certain acts in violation of treaties are crimes, they are crimes whether the United States does them or whether Germany does them, and we are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we would not be willing to have invoked against us."

It is also clear that announced intentions are irrelevant, even if they are truly believed. Internal records reveal that Japanese fascists apparently did believe that, by ravaging China, they were laboring to turn it into an "earthly paradise." And although it may be difficult to imagine, it is conceivable that Bush and company believed they were protecting the world from destruction by Saddam's nuclear weapons. All irrelevant, though ardent loyalists on all sides may try to convince themselves otherwise.

We are left with two choices: either Bush and associates are guilty of the "supreme international crime" including all the evils that follow, or else we declare that the Nuremberg proceedings were a farce and the allies were guilty of judicial murder.

The Imperial Mentality and 9/11

A few days before the bin Laden assassination, Orlando Bosch died peacefully in Florida, where he resided along with his accomplice Luis Posada Carriles and many other associates in international terrorism. After he was accused of dozens of terrorist crimes by the FBI, Bosch was granted a presidential pardon by Bush I over the objections of the Justice Department, which found the conclusion "inescapable that it would be prejudicial to the public interest for the United States to provide a safe haven for Bosch." The coincidence of these deaths at once calls to mind the Bush II doctrine -- "already... a de facto rule of international relations," according to the noted Harvard international relations specialist Graham Allison -- which revokes "the sovereignty of states that provide sanctuary to terrorists."

Allison refers to the pronouncement of Bush II, directed at the Taliban, that "those who harbor terrorists are as guilty as the terrorists themselves." Such states, therefore, have lost their sovereignty and are fit targets for bombing and terror -- for example, the state that harbored Bosch and his associate. When Bush issued this new "de facto rule of international relations," no one seemed to notice that he was calling for invasion and destruction of the U.S. and the murder of its criminal presidents.

None of this is problematic, of course, if we reject Justice Jackson's principle of universality, and adopt instead the principle that the U.S. is self-immunized against international law and conventions -- as, in fact, the government has frequently made very clear.

It is also worth thinking about the name given to the bin Laden operation: Operation Geronimo. The imperial mentality is so profound that few seem able to perceive that the White House is glorifying bin Laden by calling him "Geronimo" -- the Apache Indian chief who led the courageous resistance to the invaders of Apache lands.

The casual choice of the name is reminiscent of the ease with which we name our murder weapons after victims of our crimes: Apache, Blackhawk... We might react differently if the Luftwaffe had called its fighter planes "Jew" and "Gypsy."

The examples mentioned would fall under the category of "American exceptionalism," were it not for the fact that easy suppression of one's own crimes is virtually ubiquitous among powerful states, at least those that are not defeated and forced to acknowledge reality.

Perhaps the assassination was perceived by the administration as an "act of vengeance," as Robertson concludes. And perhaps the rejection of the legal option of a trial reflects a difference between the moral culture of 1945 and today, as he suggests. Whatever the motive was, it could hardly have been security. As in the case of the "supreme international crime" in Iraq, the bin Laden assassination is another illustration of the important fact that security is often not a high priority for state action, contrary to received doctrine.
(c) 2011 Noam Chomsky is emeritus professor of linguistics and philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is co-author, with Gilbert Achcar, of Perilous Power: The Middle East & U.S. Foreign Policy: Dialogues on Terror, Democracy, War, and Justice. His most recent book is Gaza In Crisis.

Dogs Of War
By Uri Avnery

Such terrifying dogs have not been seen since the Hound of the Baskervilles.

They have been bred by an ardent admirer of the late "Rabbi" Meir Kahane, who was branded by the Israeli Supreme Court as a fascist. Their task is to protect the settlements and attack Palestinians. They are settler-dogs, or, rather, dog-settlers.

All our TV stations have reported on them at length and lauded their effectiveness and ardor.

All in preparation for "September."

SEPTEMBER IS not just the name of a month, the seventh in the old Roman calendar. It is the symbol of a terrible danger, an unspeakable existential menace.

In the next few weeks, the Palestinians will ask the UN to recognize the State of Palestine. They have already mustered a large majority in the General Assembly. After that, according to the official assessment of our army, all hell will break loose. Multitudes of Palestinians will rise, attack the "Separation" Wall, storm the settlements, confront the army, create chaos.

"The Palestinian Authority is planning a bloodbath," Avigdor Lieberman cheerfully asserted. And when Lieberman predicts violence, it would be unwise to ignore him.

For months now, our army has been preparing for just such an eventuality. This week it announced that it is training the settlers, too, and telling them exactly when they are allowed to shoot to kill. Thus it confirms what we all know: that there is no clear distinction between the army and the settlers - many settlers are officers in the army, and many officers live in settlements. "The army defends all Israelis, wherever they are," is the official line.

One of the scenarios the army is preparing for, it was stated, is for Palestinians shooting at soldiers and settlers "from inside the mass demonstrations." That is an ominous statement. I have been at hundreds of demonstrations and never witnessed anyone shooting "from inside the demonstration". Such a person would have to be insanely irresponsible, since he would expose all the people around him to deadly retaliation. But it is a handy pretext for shooting at non-violent protesters.

It sounds so ominous, because it has happened already in the past. After the first intifada, which was considered a Palestinian success story (and brought about the Oslo agreement), our army diligently prepared for the second one. The chosen instruments were sharpshooters.

The second ("al-Aqsa") intifada started after the breakdown of the 2000 Camp David conference and Ariel Sharon's deliberately provocative "visit" to the Temple Mount. The Palestinians held non-violent mass demonstrations. The army responded with selective killings. A sharpshooter accompanied by an officer would take position in the path of the protest, and the officer would point out selected targets - protesters who looked like "ringleaders". They were killed.

This was highly effective. Soon the non-violent demonstrations ceased and were replaced by very violent ("terrorist") actions. With those the army was back on familiar ground.

All in all, during the second intifada 4546 Palestinians were killed, of whom 882 were children, as against 1044 Israelis, 716 of them civilians, including 124 children.

I am afraid that the preparations for the third intifada, which is anticipated to start next month, are proceeding on the same lines. But the circumstances would be quite different. After the events in Egypt and Syria, Palestinian protesters may react differently this time, and the "bloodbath" may be much more severe. So will international and Arab reactions. I imagine posters condemning Binyamin al-Assad and Bashar Netanyahu.

But most Israelis are not worried. They believe that the entire scenario has been invented by Netanyahu as a trick to end the huge social protest movement that is rocking Israel. "The young protesters demand Social Justice and a Welfare State, like children demanding ice cream while disaster is lurking around the corner," as one of the colonels (ret.) put it.

THE SETTLERS and their dogs loom large in the upcoming scenarios.

That is quite logical, since the settlers now play a pivotal role in the conflict. It is they who prevent any peace agreement, or even meaningful peace negotiations.

It is quite simple: any peace between Israel and the Palestinian people will necessarily be based on ceding the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip to the future State of Palestine. A world-wide consensus on this is now in place. The only question is where exactly the border will run, since there is also a consensus about minor mutually agreed swaps of territory.

This means that peace would necessarily entail the removal of a large number of settlements and the evacuation of the settlers throughout the West Bank.

The Settlers and their allies dominate the present Israeli government coalition. They object to giving up even one square inch of occupied territory of the country God has promised us. (Even settlers who do not believe in God do believe that God has promised us the land.) Because of this, there are no peace negotiations, no freeze on building activities in the settlements, no move of any kind towards peace.

The settlers went to their locations in the West Bank specifically for this purpose: to create "facts on the ground" that would prevent any possibility of the establishment of a viable Palestinian state. Therefore it is quite immaterial whether it is the settlers who prevent the return of the occupied territories for peace, or whether the government uses the settlers for this purpose. It comes to the same: the settlers block any peace effort.

As the Americans would put it: It's the settlers, stupid.

SOME NICE Israelis are indeed playing stupid, or really are.

It is now the fashion in certain circles to "embrace" the settlers in the name of national unity. Jews should not quarrel among themselves, they say, drawing on ancient Ghetto wisdom. Settlers are people like us.

Prominent among those who say so is Shelly Yachimovitch, a member of the Knesset and one of six candidates for the chair(wo)manship of the moribund Labor Party. For years she has done a good job as an advocate of social justice, never wasting a word on peace, occupation, settlements, Palestine and such trifles. Now, as part of her campaign, she has come all out for loving the settlers. As she put it: "I certainly do not see the settlement enterprise as a sin and crime. At the time, it was completely consensual. It was the Labor Party which promoted the settlement in the territories. That is a fact, a historical fact."

Some believe that Yachimovitch is only pretending to feel this way, in order to garner mainstream votes for a takeover of the party, and that she intends to merge what remains of the party with Kadima, where she would try to displace Tzipi Livni and perhaps even become Prime Minister.

Perhaps. But I have a lurking suspicion that she really believes what she is saying - and that is an awful thing to say about any politician, male or female, of course.

BUT SERIOUSLY, there is no way to embrace the settlers and fight for social justice at the same time. It just can't be done, even though some of the leaders of the social protest movement advocate this on tactical grounds.

There can be no Israeli welfare state while the war goes on. The border incidents of the last two weeks show how easy it is to divert public opinion and silence the protests when the banner of security is unfurled. And how easy it is for the government to prolong any incident.

Sowing the fear of "September" is yet another example.

But the reasons for the impossibility of separating social justice from security go deeper. Serious social reforms need money, lots of money. Even after reforming the tax system - more "progressive" direct taxes, less "regressive" indirect taxes - and breaking the cartels of the "tycoons", tens of billion of dollars will be needed to rescue our schools, our hospitals and our social services.

These billions can only come from the military budget and the settlements. Huge sums are invested in the settlements - not just in heavily subsidized housing for the settlers, government salaries for many settlers (a far higher percentage that in the general population), but also for the infrastructure (roads, electricity and water supply etc.) and the large number of troops needed to defend them. The preparations for "September" show again how much this costs.

BUT EVEN this is not the full story. Beyond all these facts there is the main reason for the deformation of Israel: the conflict itself.

Because of the conflict, we are obliged to keep a huge military establishment. We pay for the armed forces, per capita, far more than the citizens of any Western country. Israel, a country of a mere 7.5 million people, maintains the fourth or fifth largest military establishment in the world. US military aid pays for only a small part of this.

Therefore, putting an end to the war is a necessary precondition for any real effort to turn Israel into a "Scandinavian" welfare state, with a maximum of social justice. The conflict is not just one item among many that must be considered. It is the main item.

You can love the settlers or hate them, oppose them or embrace them as much as you like - the fact remains that the settlements are by far the main obstacle to peace and the welfare state. Not just because of their cost, not just because of the pogroms their inhabitants carry out from time to time, not just because of the way they dominate the political system. But because of their very existence.

Unlike the hound of the Baskervilles, the dogs of the settlements are barking loudly. It is the sound of war.
(c) 2011 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

The Lesson Of The Chinese Invasion
The growing success of our Asian rival shows that we are no longer willing to invest in our own future
By David Sirota

Many economic Nostradamuses have long predicted that the epitaph on America's tombstone will ultimately read "Made In China." But casual observers probably didn't think the funeral procession would happen this fast. In the last year, though, most have wised up. Thanks to a spate of mind-blowing headlines, we are learning that the Chinese invasion isn't just a distant possibility -- it's happening right now.

First, in February, ABC News reported that almost every Americana-themed trinket sold in the Smithsonian Institute is made in China. Then news hit that San Francisco is importing its new Bay Bridge from China. Then came the New York Times dispatch about the Big Apple awarding Chinese state-subsidized firms huge taxpayer-funded contracts to "renovate the subway system, refurbish the Alexander Hamilton Bridge over the Harlem River and build a new Metro-North train platform near Yankee Stadium."

Astounding as all of that is, it was quickly topped by news last week reminding us that the new Martin Luther King monument in Washington was designed by a Chinese government sculptor and assembled by low-wage Chinese workers.

The trend is enough to trouble any American. After all, when a memorial for a civil rights leader who deplored "starvation wages" and died supporting a sanitation union's strike is built by non-union serfs from China, it's a good sign there's a big problem.

But then, what exactly is that problem?

Xenophobes will say China's ascendance threatens America's global cultural hegemony and promises to create a dystopia forcing us all to endure the supposed horrors of speaking Mandarin and using chopsticks.

Such misguided and bigoted demagoguery, though, distracts from the real crisis staring at us in our own mirror -- a crisis not of other, but of self. Indeed, for all the fears of external assault, the Chinese invasion tells us the true problem is that America is no longer willing or able to invest in its own future.

This problem is most obvious -- and shocking -- in our government. As opposed to multinational corporations, which care only about maximizing shareholder profit, our public-policy arena is supposed to be focused on building America. But in this golden age of big-money politics, with multinational corporations buying our lawmakers, we get the opposite -- even during an unemployment crisis. Today, municipalities outsource public works projects, congresses water down "Buy America" laws, and presidents champion trade deals that encourage companies to send jobs overseas. That trickles down to give us American iconography made in Chinese factories, American real estate owned by Chinese companies, and American civil rights memorials constructed with Chinese slave labor.

The public excuse from our corrupt politicians is that Americans don't really want the jobs that could be created if lawmakers prioritized domestic investment. Last week, for instance, the White House's U.S. trade representative, Ron Kirk, said we shouldn't be concerned with jobs that are about "making things that, frankly, we don't want to make in America -- you know, cheaper products, low-skill jobs." It was a reprise of 2006, when Sen. John McCain told union members the same thing.

The truth, of course, is the opposite -- millions of jobless Americans are desperate for some shred of economic patriotism that would put them back to work. But our political system isn't about patriotism anymore. It's about the deception embodied in Kirk's talking points.

Thanks to that, the idea of successfully legislating a domestic investment agenda seems not like mere wishful thinking. It seems as wholly inconceivable as walking into a big-box store and finding lots of products that are still made in the USA.
(c) 2010 David Sirota is the author of the best-selling books "Hostile Takeover" and "The Uprising." He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado and blogs at E-mail him at David Sirota is a former spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee.

I Just Found 29 Million Jobs
By David Swanson

No, not 29 million job offers. I'm no better at applying for jobs than you are, and my town offers nothing but dead-end McJobs or positions in the military industrial complex, just like yours. I mean I just spotted an easy way to create 29 million jobs, one for every unemployed or underemployed U.S. worker.

No, I'm not about to say "Just raise taxes on gazillionaires and hire people to build stuff." I'm all in favor of that, for lots of reasons, including the political corruption created by a concentration of wealth. We might have to disempower gazillionaires before we can enact any sensible policies, including the one I'm about to propose, but it can itself be done without raising a dime in revenue. This means that the President, who has broad, albeit unconstitutional, powers to move funding around from one program to another could do this himself. Or Congress could.

Whichever branch of government found the decency first could create 29 million well-paid and rewarding jobs improving the world. And this could be done through policies long favored by a majority of Americans.

How, you ask?

Well, I noticed that we didn't create any more jobs in August, but did see a record number of U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan. Then I saw all the reports on the $60 billion "wasted" by the Pentagon in Iraq and Afghanistan. This started me thinking.

Robert Greenwald and Derrick Crowe looked at that $60 billion and asked what else could have been done with it. Drawing on a 2009 study by the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts (Amherst), they concluded that instead, we might have created 193,000 jobs. That is to say, given all the military and contractor jobs that in fact were created for the U.S. workforce by that $60 billion, we could have created 193,000 MORE jobs. This is, in fact, the tradeoff found in the 2009 study between military spending (not even "wasted" military spending) and tax cuts for working people.

There are some other calculations in the same study, however. If we had spent that $60 billion on clean energy, we would have created (directly or indirectly) 330,000 more jobs. If we'd spent it on healthcare, we'd have created 480,000 more jobs. And if we'd spent it on education, we'd have created 1.05 million more jobs.

But isn't it strange to make this calculation using the $60 billion that was supposedly wasted rather than with the $1.2 trillion that has been spent in total on two wars that a majority says should be ended and should never have begun? If we look at the $1.2 trillion that has been worse than wasted on killing large numbers of people and making us less safe, we find that we could have instead created anything in the range between 3.9 million to 21 million more jobs, depending on whether we moved the war spending to tax cuts or education or something in between. Ideally, of course, we'd have put some into education, some into clean energy, etc., resulting in a figure somewhere between those two.

But this is all looking at the past. What about going forward? Well, I also noticed Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey's calculation that $1.8 trillion could be saved over 10 years by ending the wars now. That's a figure taking a broader view of war spending, to include veterans' care, and that fact almost certainly alters the calculations. Assuming, for the sake of argument, that the same tradeoffs still held, by choosing to save that $1.8 trillion, we could add between 5.8 million and 31.5 million jobs over the next 10 years.

Or, sticking with the "wasted" military spending angle, we could start with the $2.3 trillion the Pentagon is unable to account for. That kind of tradeoff would give us 7.4 million to 40.3 million jobs depending on how we chose to invest the money. Of course, the $2.3 trillion is in the past, but given the dramatic trend toward more no-bid contracts (now 45% of military contracting) it seems a safe bet that corruption will hold steady or increase in the years to come.

But let's forget about "lost" trillions and look at typical military spending, which is what the study we're basing this on looked at. Of the $1.2 trillion spent each year now on the military, about $700 billion goes through the Department of Defense, which is what the study we're using looked at. (Another $75 billion, for example, is spent on protecting cows and lakes while enriching campaign funders through the Department of Homeland Security.) We're spending about half of discretionary spending on the military, and several times as much as the next highest spending nation in the world.

Let's say we want to create 29 million jobs in 10 years. That's 2.9 million each year. Here's one way to do it. Take $100 billion from the Department of Defense and move it into education. That creates 1.75 million jobs per year. Take another $50 billion and move it into healthcare spending. There's an additional 400,000 jobs. Take another $100 billion and move it into clean energy. There's another 550,000 jobs. And take another $62 billion and turn it into tax cuts, generating an additional 200,000 jobs. Now the military spending in the Department of Energy, the State Department, Homeland Security, and so forth have not been touched. And the Department of Defense has been cut back to about $388 billion, which is to say: more than it was getting 10 years ago when our country went collectively insane.

Of course I'm writing about numbers here and the numbers represent actual people with particular needs and abilities. A major effort would be needed to convert military factories and workers to green energy and other industries. Net job gains reflect a lot of job losses and redirected careers. But that conversion is part of this process and will involve job creation itself. If additional funding is needed, then, you know what, the hell with it, go ahead and tax a few multi-billionaires. It won't hurt them.
(c) 2011 David Swanson is the author of "War Is A Lie."

Perry Tales: job creation

Presidential wannabe Rick Perry is flitting hither, thither and yon, spreading little "Perry Tales" about the economic miracles he has produced in Texas.

Fantasy number one is a creationist story about jobs. As he recently flitted across Iowa, he gushed that he has built "a job-creating machine in the state of Texas," and a Perry aide flatly said, "The governor's job-creation record speaks for itself."

Actually it doesn't. Probe even an inch into the million-job number that Perry tosses around like fairy dust, and you'll learn that these are mostly "jobettes" that can't sustain a family. Most come with very low pay and no health care or pension, and many are only part-time or temporary positions. Indeed, more than a half a million Texans now work for minimum wage or less – a number that has doubled since 2008, leaving Texas tied with Mississippi for the nation's highest percentage of its workforce reduced to poverty pay.

Spreading even more fairy dust, Perry claims that his Texas Miracle is the result of him keeping the government out of the private sector's way. But peek behind that ideological curtain and you'll find this startling fact: during Perry's decade, the growth in private sector jobs has been a relatively paltry nine percent, while the public sector has more than doubled that, increasing the number of local, state, and federal workers in Texas by 19 percent. One out of six employed Texans are now teachers, police officers, highway engineers, military personnel, and other government workers – and many of these jobs were created with federal money, including cash from Barack Obama's stimulus program. There's his "miracle."

Meanwhile, joblessness is on the rise in Texas, and the whole Perry Tale is about to go poof – thanks to his recent multibillion-dollar budget cuts that will destroy more than 100,000 good jobs throughout the state.
(c) 2011 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.

In His Time
By Helen Thomas

Past public officials luckily have the luxury of writing their own versions of history. Former Vice President Dick Cheney has his second rendition of his role in recent national events with no mea culpas.

The new book by Cheney and his daughter, Liz, titled In My Time, puts the best face on the invasion of Iraq. Thousands of Iraqis are dead. The 9/11 attack on the United States has been the perpetual excuse for the attack on Iraq and Afghanistan.

He brags about his support of torturing suspects - that is, terrorist suspects in a country we invaded (Iraq) under lies. There were no weapons of mass destruction and no ties between the slain Saddam Hussein and the al-Qaeda terrorist network.

I became acquainted with a docile Cheney who first served as chief of staff to Gerald Ford. Earlier, he twice flunked out of Yale. Although his father was a civil servant and a staunch Democrat, Cheney served in Congress as a strong conservative Republican.

He continued in his career as the head of Halliburton, growing rich from fat government contracts. Cheney, incidentally a war hawk, had five deferments for education and marriage during the Vietnam era.

Such people survive to write their memoirs twice, and all while living in two multi-million dollar homes, one in McLean, Virginia, and the other on the eastern shore of Maryland, next door to former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Cheney has had heart problems for years, and his prolonged health care was provided by the federal government. Don't you think that the man who lived on free medicine during his many public roles should be a supporter of Medicare and other social programs? Think again.

There were times when Cheney seemed to steal the show, diminishing President George W. Bush's role. After 9/11, some called him "President Cheney."

I'll never forget, a short time before he left his number two post in the nation, Cheney said, "We know where they (the weapons) are." Nobody told him to put up or shut up. The weapons were not found.

Cheney took power in the White House and tried to justify his overreach in the face of a rebellion by other top aides. Bush was left in the dark about the internal strife.

"From day one, George W. Bush made clear he wanted me to help govern ... to the extent that this created a unique arrangement in our history, with the Vice President playing a significant role in the key policy issues of the day, it was George Bush's arrangement," Cheney writes.

We are bound to learn more in other memoirs over the ruckus between Cheney and the Department of Justice regarding spying on American citizens.

Cheney also boasts that he urged Bush to bomb a suspected Syrian nuclear reactor site in June 2007, but he said the President decided on a diplomatic approach upon the advice of others. "Bombs Away Cheney" claimed he was a lone voice in pushing for military action. Cheney's hawkishness almost makes Bush look like a dove.

Cheney attacked Secretary of State Colin Powell who knew war as a general, claiming Powell tried to undercut Bush by privately expressing doubts about the Iraq war. Cheney admits in his book that he tried to have Powell kicked out of the cabinet after the 2004 election. Cheney said Powell's resignation was "for the best." In addition to Powell and other Bush advisors, Cheney also tangled with National Security Advisor and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, demeaning her as naive when she sought a peace agreement with North Korea. She will get back at him in her forthcoming memoir, telling her side of the Bush administration's history.

Cheney is never wrong, and never a gentleman. Unfortunately we are still in a war he pushed for, and Americans and Iraqis are still dying.

Cheney also writes that he was happy Obama failed to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay.

Cheney is worthy of the nickname Darth Vader, and leaves the legacy of violations of international treaties, which tarnished the U.S. reputation of treating adversaries with civility and decency.
(c) 2011 Helen Thomas is a columnist for the Falls Church News-Press. Among other books she is the author of Front Row At The White House: My Life and Times.

Last Light Of Real Journalism Just Went Out
By James Donahue

The news this week that Julian Assange, the creator and editor of the controversial electronic whistleblower site Wikileaks and his staff have chosen to publish the publication's entire collection of secret U. S. diplomatic cables along with the names of the sources, has probably put that interesting experiment in journalism out of business.

Wikileaks said it made the decision after about half of the documents with the names of their sources were discovered on a public Internet server. Wikileaks and all of the mirror publications and websites connected with Wikileaks have all disavowed responsibility for leaking the information.

Consequently more than 250,000 cables, the entire cache downloaded from government files and made available to Wikileaks last year, is now public record. Not only this, but the people involved in making them secretly available to Wikileaks, are also named and perhaps subject to prosecution.

The cables include private communiqués between State Department officials and political figures in embassies around the world. There also were documents revealing misbehavior on the part of American soldiers in both Iraq and Afghanistan, the torture of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, and allegations that U.S. troops murdered innocent civilians and then attempted to cover up their crimes.

That these sources have been named should be sending shivers up the spines of everyone involved in supplying cables to Wikileaks. Everyone knows the story of Bradley Manning, the U. S. Army soldier charged with downloading the passing classified military data to Wikileaks while stationed in Iraq. Manning has been held in a military prison awaiting hearing and possible trial on numerous charges of "aiding the enemy," a capital offense that could make him subject to the death penalty.

With the names of all of Wikileaks' whistleblowers now made public, the case against Manning may appear to dim in comparison to the volume of potential legal cases the government may bring against those involved in the Wikileads revelations.

To date, however, none of the published information appears to have done anything more than prove to be an embarrassment to certain high ranking public figures and governments for misbehavior, often at public expense. This was information that never should have been declared classified. Revealing these documents to public scrutiny certainly does not warrant imprisonment or the death penalty.

That this information got in the hands of some irresponsible individuals who chose to make it public was a thoughtless action that defied all of the rules of journalistic ethics.

Since founding the WikiLeaks site in 2006, Assange has introduced a new spirit of real journalism to electronic media. This occurred at a time when major media outlets have obviously sold out to corporations and are no longer practicing real journalism. The public is told only what corporate officials want the people to know and nothing more.

Because of his work, Assange has received numerous awards and nominations for awards for excellence in journalism. In 2009 he won the Amnesty International Media Award after publishing material about extrajudicial killings in Kenya. He also was awarded the Readers Choice award for Time magazine's 2010 Person of the Year.

Before the current barrage of controversial cables, WikiLeaks published information about toxic waste dumping in Africa, the Kaupthing and Julius Baer banks, and Church of Scientology manuals. He began getting in trouble after the cables started exposing the extreme waste of money, lives and resources in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

Assange also says he is in possession of documents that will shed sunlight on big banking operations.

All of this was made possible because of the promise of anonymity awarded all that "leaked" copies of secret documents, letters and transcripts to Wikileaks. Now that Assange has been forced to reveal his sources, any new information is bound to disappear.

Every working journalist uses "sources," or anonymous shadow figures to find out what is happening behind the closed doors of government, big corporations, and other places where suspicious activity may be happening. And when challenged, real journalists have chosen to go to jail rather than disclose their sources to judges and other authority figures. In this profession, protecting sources has been of the utmost importance. We can't get the story if our word can't be trusted.

Assange's action this week has obviously signed the death warrant for Wikileaks and possibly all of the other new journalism sites of that yoke. And it will mean that the steel wall between officialdom and the general public has been raised that much higher than it already was.
(c) 2011 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.

5th columnist traitor Eric Cantor
promises FEMA funds will go instead to Israel

Eric Cantor: Mean, Ornery And Just Plain Wrong
Cantor's ideological purity overrules common sense and heart
By Michael Winship

For Manhattan at least, last week was the weather week that wasn't. But the minor earthquake and weakened Hurricane Irene served as reminders of the caprice of nature and -- only a couple of weeks before the tenth anniversary of 9/11 -- the knowledge that at any given moment calamity literally is just around the corner.

Both also should serve as wake-up calls to those know-nothings and kleptocrats who reject the value of government and would like it rendered down to nothingness -- the helpless infant that Eric Cantor, Grover Norquist and their pals wish to see drowned in the bathtub.

I've never been through a major earthquake, although I've experienced some minor tremors, the first early on a New Year's Day in upstate New York while I was still a teenager. Just as you read about in animal behavior books, the dog, lying at the foot of my bed, apparently sensed something was up, jumped off and scurried out of the room mere seconds before the shaking began. Not a word of warning from her. So much for man's best friend.

The 5.8 we had on the afternoon of August 23 was like an aftershock I experienced out in Burbank a number of years ago, while working in post-production on a documentary. It felt like a truck had hit the building. This time, there was a thump and I looked out the window to see if something heavy-duty was rolling down Seventh Avenue. Nothing -- but the apartment kept wobbling up and down. Then another hard thump and more wobbling.

Hours later, just off the phone with my brother and sister in Washington, DC, who had been in a taxi and felt nothing, I noticed that several of the pictures on the walls were now hanging at peculiar angles. That was the extent of damage at my house.

As for Irene, I live in what the city has designated Evacuation Zone C, meaning we would be sent out of the neighborhood if a direct hit by a Category 3 or 4 storm -- or maybe an asteroid -- seemed imminent. That didn't happen, but my girlfriend Pat was moved to a hotel in midtown because the television newsroom at which she works needed her close at hand. Graciously, she invited me along.

(Coincidentally, the hotel was the first at which I ever stayed in New York City alone, also during my teenage years. The student rate back then was $12 a night.)

Fearing high winds, in parts of the hotel they weren't placing guests above the tenth floor. We had a small room, on the third floor away from the street, so little chance of windows blowing in, which was good, facing the airshaft, which was bad. One look out the window and we quickly drew the shades; it looked like the place where pigeons go to die -- or at least throw their trash. Maybe the storm would give it a good wash.

It didn't. Irene weakened as it reached Coney Island and we slept right through the main action, finally returning to my place early Sunday afternoon. Branches and leaves littered the streets and trees were down by a nearby playground. Plenty of rain and wind but nothing like the loss of life, power outages and billions worth of wind and flood damage inflicted outside the city. Beyond the media centers of New York and Washington, where reporters were quick to judge the storm "not so bad," there was more than enough disaster to go around, bringing misery to millions.

I remembered Hurricane/Tropical Storm Agnes in June 1972. It roared through central Virginia and Pennsylvania up into the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York, creating more damage than any hurricane in the United States before it. (That time, Agnes hit DC with a vengeance -- more than a foot of rain in parts of the area and 16 deaths as people were swept away in the floodwaters. I was there, and will never forget the usually placid Rock Creek roiling like Colorado River rapids. The Potomac overflowed into the C & O Canal, and a crowd of us stood in Georgetown watching the water slowly creep up lower Wisconsin Avenue.)

Fresh water from Agnes' floods flushed into the saltwater of Chesapeake Bay, damaging the seafood industry there for years, and the damage inflicted on the tracks of already financially crippled railways in the Northeast helped lead to the creation of the federally funded Conrail freight system (later divided into CSX and the Norfolk Southern Railway).

Storms like Agnes and Irene are insidious, often striking slowly over time in ways that can be unpredictable and far more damaging than anticipated. Government preparedness and response are critical. There was no Federal Emergency Management Agency in 1972; in fact, like Conrail, its origins can be traced, in part, to the Agnes disaster. Jimmy Carter signed it into creation seven years later. Since then, FEMA has had noteworthy ups and downs, performing reasonably well when those who believe in the value of government are in power, suffering lamely when they're not.

By all accounts, and at this writing, the White House, FEMA and other government agencies, including state and local, have acquitted themselves ably during the lead-up to Irene, the actual hurricane and its aftermath, although many remain in need. Eighteen FEMA teams were positioned along Irene's path from Florida to Maine, spreading north as the storm proceeded toward New England, providing support, supplies and experienced advice all along the way.

As even The Washington Post's resident smartass Dana Milbank had to admit, "Don't expect anybody to throw a tea party, but Big Government finally got one right... a rare reminder that the federal government can still do great things, after all other possibilities have been exhausted."

However, he continued, "Americans won't have long to savor this new competence in government. NOAA [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] has already been hit with budget cuts that will diminish its ability to track storms, and FEMA, like much of the federal government, will lose about a third of its funding over the next decade if Tea Party Republicans have their way...

"Tea Partyers who denounce Big Government seem to have an abstract notion that government spending means welfare programs and bloated bureaucracies. Almost certainly they aren't thinking about hurricane tracking and pre-positioning of FEMA supplies. But if they succeed in paring the government, some of these Tea Partyers (particularly those on the coasts or on the tornadic plains) may be surprised to discover that they have turned a Hurricane Irene government back into a Katrina government."

Cuts have been approved by the House Appropriations Committee to the program that sends "hurricane hunter" aircraft into storms to measure data crucial for hurricane forecasts. Weather satellites are on the chopping block, too. At a May press conference, NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco warned, "The future funding for our satellite program is very much in limbo right now... We are likely looking at a period of time a few years down the road where we will not be able to do severe storm warnings and long-term weather forecasts that people have come to expect today."

She noted that cutbacks had forced the agency to delay the launch of a much-needed satellite. As per NPR's Jon Hamilton, "It would have traveled in a polar orbit, beaming down information for weather and climate forecasts. As a result, when the current satellite doing that job stops working, there will be no replacement." It's these polar orbiting satellites that also warn of deadly tornadoes and other severe weather conditions.

In the short term, the cost of Irene means diverting monies from the government's Disaster Relief Fund, cash intended for tornado clean up in Joplin, Missouri, and other towns. Congress will need to vote for more, probably billions more. And hurricane season isn't even over yet. (As I write, New Orleans faces Tropical Storm Lee and Hurricane Katia lurks in the Atlantic.)

But even though his own Seventh Congressional District was damaged by Irene, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, our national scold, says no, not unless spending cuts are made elsewhere to offset the cost, dollar for dollar. (That includes earthquake damage, too, by the way, despite the fact that the epicenter of the August 23rd quake was in his Virginia district.)

"Just like any family would operate when it's struck by disaster," Cantor told Fox News, "it finds the money to take care of a sick loved one or what have you, and then goes without trying to buy a car or put an addition onto the house." It's more like "selling the family station wagon for spare parts," the website Media Matters said, and a far cry from 2004 when Cantor came running to fellow Republicans George Bush and Tom Ridge for no-strings-attached federal disaster assistance after Tropical Storm Gaston hit home. Nor when Bush was president did Rep. Cantor ever scream for offsets when it came to tax breaks for the wealthy, waging war, or -- surprise -- raising the debt ceiling.

What he's doing now is ornery, mean and just plain wrong -- ideological purity overruling common sense. Even New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, fresh off his pre-Irene "Get the hell off the beach" performance and no stranger himself to pigheadedness, declared, "We don't have time to wait for folks in Congress to figure out how they want to offset this stuff with other budget cuts... I don't want to hear about the fact that offsetting budget cuts have to come first before New Jersey citizens are taken care of."

Approving emergency aid in a national crisis is not to be held over our heads like some vindictive ransom note. It's neither penny wise nor pound foolish; it's immoral and, yes, un-American. This is not the way we were raised, not the way we were taught to treat one another. We lend a hand and figure out the costs later.

Yet in a time of national crisis, whether in or out of hurricane season, Cantor continues to spout pettifoggery and right wing Republicans go along with him, mindlessly nodding in obeisant agreement like so many bobble head dolls, even as the economy burns, infrastructure crumbles, funds are slashed and untold millions suffer.

Heckuva job, Eric.
© 2011 Michael Winship is senior writing fellow at Demos, president of the Writers Guild of America, East, and former senior writer of Bill Moyers Journal on PBS.

Obama's Laborious Labor Day
By Ralph Nader

Dear President Obama:

Happy Labor Day! This is your third opportunity as President to go beyond your past tepid Labor Day proclamations.

You could convey to 150 million workers that you're going to start doing something about your 2008 campaign promises to labor. Recall that you clearly promised to press for a $9.50 federal minimum wage by 2011. Arguing that having millions of Walmart type workers make the leap from the present $7.25 per hour will pump nearly $200 billion in consumer demand for our recessionary economy.

You can add that a $9.50 minimum is still less than what workers made under the minimum wage in 1968, adjusted for inflation, when worker productivity was half of what it is today. Besides, businesses like Walmart have received windfalls year after year due to the minimum wage lagging behind inflation for decades.

Your second promise in 2008 was pushing for card-check legislation-a top priority for the AFL-CIO whose member unions helped elect you. "Give me the cardcheck," Rich Trumka, now AFL-CIO president, told me in 2004, "and millions of workers will organize into unions."

I may have missed something but when was the last time you championed card check after you took your oath of office? Did you bring labor together, the way you brought big business together for their demands, and launch a public drive to overcome many of the obstructions workers now have to confront under the present corporate driven union-busting climate?

I met with Mr. Trumka recently. It seemed he's given up on you for the card check or minimum wage. With such low expectations, you probably can make organized labor a little more enthusiastic for you if you simply mentioned these two measures in your next State of the Union address. You could even break an old taboo and say that the notoriously anti-worker Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 needs to be changed. Just talking about those issues will "keep hope alive," for "change you can believe in."

Even better, mention these with a paragraph on the spreading poverty-yes, finally use that word "poverty" which is decidedly not "middle-class." Last January, your State of the Union address ignored poverty-accelerating child poverty, hunger, homelessness, mass unemployment and underemployment do add up to that phenomenon. If not deeds or action, at least just give them some words.

As big business abandons American workers and takes jobs and industries to communist and fascist regimes abroad-regimes that know how to keep workers in their place at 50 or 80 cents an hour-reactionary Republican governors are stripping public employees of their collective bargaining rights. These Republicans are laying off their teachers and other workers so they do not have to repeal the corporate welfare drains on their state treasuries. Dozens of corporate welfare tax abatements, subsidies, giveaways, bailouts and other freebies are embedded in their state laws.

When the Wisconsin workers protested and filled the square in Madison, Wisconsin, they were expressing your "fierce urgency of now." But you would not go and address just one of their rallies to support their jobs and rights.

Just before the last big rally of some 100,000 people from all over Wisconsin, the state federation of labor invited the Vice President to speak to them in Madison. The White House said no. Isn't Joe Biden known for saying "I'm a union guy?"

Can you imagine a national Republican presidential candidate refusing an invitation to speak to 100,000 Tea Partiers by comparison?

But then these Democratic workers, you may believe, have nowhere to go in November 2012. That's right, they don't have to go anywhere; they can stay right at home along with their volunteer hours and Get-Out-The-Vote calls. Political withdrawal is real easy to do. Remember 2010. Remember the sharp drop in the youth vote. You may be met with less enthusiasm than Congressional Democrats encountered in 2010.


Ralph Nader
(c) 2011 Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His most recent book - and first novel - is, Only The Super Wealthy Can Save Us. His most recent work of non-fiction is The Seventeen Traditions.

Job Creation? I'm Thinkin' Not
By Mike Folkerth

As real employment continues to fall year after year in the U.S., each day, and several times per day, we hear the words "jobs creation." Creating axe handles is possible; jobs, not so much.

To make matters even worse, we look toward government for providing the magic to create this mystical employment; which of course they promise to do. Consider the utter folly of expecting government to actually create anything other than taxes and turmoil.

The factual problem however (and you heard it here first), is that real jobs can't be created; not by anyone, and especially not by government. Bad news huh?

The late English Mathematician, Alfred North Whitehead, stated, "It requires a very unusual mind to undertake the analysis of the obvious." Let's utilize the analysis of the obvious to analyze the term "jobs creation."

It all boils down to this simple statement, "If jobs could merely be created, then everybody would have one." Jobs would roll off an assembly line like toothbrushes; you have a toothbrush don't you? But maybe not a job?

Jobs simply cannot be created, at least not real jobs. Instead, real jobs materialize to fill real needs. Therefore, when most real needs are satisfied, it becomes necessary to "create" fictitious jobs in a nation that is hell bent on increasing population.

The late American geophysicist, Marion King Hubbert, made the following statement well before his death in 1989. "Most employment now is merely pushing paper around. The actual work needed to keep a stable society running is a very small fraction of available manpower."

Apparently, our government and certainly our unemployed masses, choose not to believe the world's most well known Geoscientist, and have elected instead to remain seated together like mushrooms in a dark space, ingesting oats that had already been run through the horse one time.

We live in a nation that has hard physical limits and consequently employment is subject to those same limits. The frontiers have been settled, the resources have been discovered and utilized, and we're now well our way down the other side of Mount Resource.

Add to this the fact that our population has now surpassed 310 Million and continues to grow exponentially in the same space that was discovered by Europeans in 1492, and we now have what is referred to as an unsolvable problem.

But then, Americans have never scored all that that high in Reality 101, so like Santa Clause and the Tooth Fairy, we believe in job creation.

You may ask, "If job creation is impossible, why then does government and the talking news heads continue to insist that job creation is our sole remedy for recovery?"

Look at it this way, government at all levels can hardly be expected to be reelected by explaining to 20 Million unemployed Americans that stale bread and thin broth will be on the menu for the foreseeable future. Instead, government incurs massive debt and temporary jobs are created as a side effect of continual deficit spending.

Another way of viewing the current solution to our unemployment conundrum is that jobs are being purchased with long term debt that is unsustainable. We have reached the top of our economic mountain and there is no way out but down.

You may remember that the only thing the Democrats and Republicans have agreed on since the last vote involving a congressional wage increase was that America needed to raise the debt ceiling by $2.4 TRILLION. Yep, deficit spending creates temporary jobs so long as that deficit spending is increased year over year. But as I stated earlier, there are limits, and we have reached those limits.

Let's also consider, that not to be outdone by our government, personal debt in the U.S. has risen meteorically to the neighborhood of $14 TRILLION, while at the same time, student loan debt eclipsed all combined credit card debt in this banner year of 2011.

As all of the former borrowed money was spent, the same created temporary demand, which in turn created temporary employment, that is better known as the perfect recipe for boom and bust. Big time bust!

As an example, when a home is built, a temporary surge in employment and material purchases creates economic activity during the construction phase which lasts about 120 days. When construction ends, so then does the economic activity...however, the mortgage lives on for 30 long years complete with compounding interest!

A home loan then, is nothing more than deficit spending on a personal level that created jobs as an unsustainable side effect for a short, sweet, period of time.

In conclusion, it is my long studied opinion that only through exponential (ever greater) deficit spending can jobs be "created." The insistence of ever greater debt creation as a catalyst to create the side effect of nonessential employment has simply reached the predictable mathematical limits of any such Ponzi based scheme. Perhaps Robert Hickerson said it best back in March of 1995:

"All attempts to reduce the deficit, balance the budget or pay off the national debt are futile. The deficit and the national debt represent the subsidy the government has paid in its attempt to keep growth and unemployment at the level of social tolerance."
(c) 2011 Mike Folkerth is not your run-of-the-mill author of economics. Nor does he write in boring lecture style. Not even close. The former real estate broker, developer, private real estate fund manager, auctioneer, Alaskan bush pilot, restaurateur, U.S. Navy veteran, heavy equipment operator, taxi cab driver, fishing guide, horse packer...(I won't go on, it's embarrassing) writes from experience and plain common sense. He is the author of "The Biggest Lie Ever Believed."

The Fatal Distraction
By Paul Krugman

Friday brought two numbers that should have everyone in Washington saying, "My God, what have we done?"

One of these numbers was zero - the number of jobs created in August. The other was two - the interest rate on 10-year U.S. bonds, almost as low as this rate has ever gone. Taken together, these numbers almost scream that the inside-the-Beltway crowd has been worrying about the wrong things, and inflicting grievous harm as a result.

Ever since the acute phase of the financial crisis ended, policy discussion in Washington has been dominated not by unemployment, but by the alleged dangers posed by budget deficits. Pundits and media organizations insisted that the biggest risk facing America was the threat that investors would pull the plug on U.S. debt. For example, in May 2009 The Wall Street Journal declared that the "bond vigilantes" were "returning with a vengeance," telling readers that the Obama administration's "epic spending spree" would send interest rates soaring.

The interest rate when that editorial was published was 3.7 percent. As of Friday, as I've already mentioned, it was only 2 percent.

I don't mean to dismiss concerns about the long-run U.S. budget picture. If you look at fiscal prospects over, say, the next 20 years, they are indeed deeply worrying, largely because of rising health-care costs. But the experience of the past two years has overwhelmingly confirmed what some of us tried to argue from the beginning: The deficits we're running right now - deficits we should be running, because deficit spending helps support a depressed economy - are no threat at all.

And by obsessing over a nonexistent threat, Washington has been making the real problem - mass unemployment, which is eating away at the foundations of our nation - much worse.

Although you'd never know it listening to the ranters, the past year has actually been a pretty good test of the theory that slashing government spending actually creates jobs. The deficit obsession has blocked a much-needed second round of federal stimulus, and with stimulus spending, such as it was, fading out, we're experiencing de facto fiscal austerity. State and local governments, in particular, faced with the loss of federal aid, have been sharply cutting many programs and have been laying off a lot of workers, mostly schoolteachers.

And somehow the private sector hasn't responded to these layoffs by rejoicing at the sight of a shrinking government and embarking on a hiring spree.

O.K., I know what the usual suspects will say - namely, that fears of regulation and higher taxes are holding businesses back. But this is just a right-wing fantasy. Multiple surveys have shown that lack of demand - a lack that is being exacerbated by government cutbacks - is the overwhelming problem businesses face, with regulation and taxes barely even in the picture.

For example, when McClatchy Newspapers recently canvassed a random selection of small-business owners to find out what was hurting them, not a single one complained about regulation of his or her industry, and few complained much about taxes. And did I mention that profits after taxes, as a share of national income, are at record levels?

So short-run deficits aren't a problem; lack of demand is, and spending cuts are making things much worse. Maybe it's time to change course?

Which brings me to President Obama's planned speech on the economy.

I find it useful to think in terms of three questions: What should we be doing to create jobs? What will Republicans in Congress agree to? And given that political reality, what should the president propose?

The answer to the first question is that we should have a lot of job-creating spending on the part of the federal government, largely in the form of much-needed spending to repair and upgrade the nation's infrastructure. Oh, and we need more aid to state and local governments, so that they can stop laying off schoolteachers.

But what will Republicans agree to? That's easy: nothing. They will oppose anything Mr. Obama proposes, even if it would clearly help the economy - or maybe I should say, especially if it would help the economy, since high unemployment helps them politically.

This reality makes the third question - what the president should propose - hard to answer, since nothing he proposes will actually happen anytime soon. So I'm personally prepared to cut Mr. Obama a lot of slack on the specifics of his proposal, as long as it's big and bold. For what he mostly needs to do now is to change the conversation - to get Washington talking again about jobs and how the government can help create them.

For the sake of the nation, and especially for millions of unemployed Americans who see little prospect of finding another job, I hope he pulls it off.
(c) 2011 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

"In the past 30 years, the "masters of mankind," as Smith called them, have abandoned any sentimental concern for the welfare of their own society, concentrating instead on short-term gain and huge bonuses, the country be damned -- as long as the powerful nanny state remains intact to serve their interests."
~~~ Noam Chomsky

He Who Gets Slapped
The Progressive Perpetuation of Past and Present
By Chris Floyd

Five years ago, I wrote several articles about a horrific massacre of Iraqi civilians in Ishaqi. Credible evidence and eyewitness testimony indicated that American soldiers, in the course of a raid, had executed unarmed civilians -- including several small children -- then called in an airstrike to destroy the house, and the evidence of these murders.

At the time, these articles were criticized by some for putting the "worst case" construction on the evidence. After all, in the "fog of war" -- that clapped-out rhetorical trope which has hidden a multitude of sins down through the years -- who could know what really happened? Yeah, some mistakes might or might not have been made -- crossfire, collateral damage, etc. -- but surely no one could believe that American soldiers would deliberately do such a thing. My take -- and that of this blog's co-founder, Rich Kastelein, who put together a devastating flash film on the incident -- was just the usual overblown, knee-jerk, anti-war hissy fit, etc.

But thanks to a recent WikiLeaks revelation, we now know that at least two other groups of knee-jerk, anti-war freaks were also pursuing the "worst-case" interpretation of the massacre: UN investigators, who delivered a detailed report on the evidence to the American occupation forces -- and the invaders themselves. It turns out that American authorities regarded the UN evidence very seriously; so seriously that they took immediate, decisive action .... to cover it all up.

Publicly, of course, the invaders had solemnly promised to investigate the "allegations" with all due speed and diligence; this promise was, of course, an outright lie -- as has been the case countless times with similar "allegations" in America's decade-long war on the world. The atrocity was never investigated by the Americans, who simply tossed aside not only the work of the UN investigators, but also the mountain of first-hand evidence gathered by the US-trained, pro-American Iraqi officials on the scene.

So here we are: we now know that the Americans themselves strongly suspected that the "allegations" were true, that U.S. soldiers had entered a house in an Iraqi village and executed five children under the age of five -- including a five-month old -- and four women, including a grandmother, and the children's father, a young man in this 20s. They had credible evidence for this, they took the evidence seriously -- and they bent all their efforts toward burying the case and protecting the perpetrators (and their commanders). They have sat on this evidence for five years, beyond the end of the Bush Regime and deep into the reign of the Nobel Peace Laureate.

This would be the same Nobel Peace Laureate whose forces, along with their local proxies, carried out yet another mass killing of civilians in Ishaqi last month, as we noted here. Barack Obama has never repudiated the War Machine that routinely produces such atrocities; on the contrary, he has embraced it, praised it, identified himself with it at every opportunity. He has never repudiated the criminal occupation of Iraq, but has instead sought frantically, for months, to extend it, in any way possible, with tens of thousands of "advisers," "trainers," and mercenaries disguised at "State Department security personnel." Along with his favorite general -- now his spymaster -- David Petraeus, he has intensified the Ishaqi-style "home invasion" system in the other war of domination and profiteering that he has not only embraced but boldly escalated, in Afghanistan. He has taken deadly home invasions to new heights -- literally -- with his cowardly drone missile campaign against homes and neighborhoods in undefended villages in Pakistan. And in Yemen. And in Somalia. (And in who knows what other countries in the secret wars and covert ops that his security apparatchiks boast of conducting all over the world?)

Yet it is this figure -- this xerox copy of the despised Dubya -- whom all good liberals and progressives are being urged to support. His election is far more important than the mounds of dead children piling up under his command. His personal political fortunes are far more important than the national bankruptcy engineered by the War Machine he proudly leads and the Money Power he faithfully serves -- a bankruptcy that has opened the door to the destruction of programs, hopes and ideals that liberals and progressives have nurtured for generations. His electoral fate is more important than the generations of hate, extremism, violence and instability being bred by his policies. Indeed, Barack Obama's re-election is even more important than the well-being and dignity of one's own child.

So we are told by the Big Progressive Kahuna himself, Markos Moulitsas. In a recent, super-savyy analysis of the Obama Administration's manifest failures to promote its image properly and thus secure the president's re-election, Moulitsas produces this remarkable passage:

Bottom line, if Obama's approach to governing was proving popular, then there'd be little fault. If triangulating against liberals bolstered his numbers with independents, then that'd be cool! Heck, if slapping my first-born in the face bumped his numbers up with independents, I'd tolerate it. But it's not. His current approach isn't working.

"If slapping my first-born in the face bumped his numbers up with independents, I'd tolerate it." I realize this is offered as a deliberately over-the-top rhetorical flourish (perhaps even as a cack-handed, piles-producing strain toward humor), but it bespeaks a partisan obsequiousness -- and a moral blindness -- that staggers the mind. After all, Obama has actually been killing, not just slapping, first-borns (and other children) at a steady clip for more than two years now. And this certainly hasn't hurt "his numbers" with serious, savvy progressives like Kos.

It is just possible, of course, that these on-going atrocities have in themselves kept Obama from "bumping his numbers up with independents," some of whom might object to seeing mass murder committed by their government. But this is not a factor in our progressives' earnest cogitations. No, it's all about the process, the PR framing, finding the "popular approach" and "not looking weak."

These vast outpourings of innocent blood literally do not matter to our serious, savvy progressives. The only thing that really matters is Obama's re-election, his chance to continue grinding up bones and bodies with his beloved War Machine and his runaway Security Organs for another four years.

This is what it's come to: "Take my child, slap her in the face, if it will help you keep on killing." This is all that's left of the "professional left."
(c) 2011 Chris Floyd

How Little We Know About The Origins Of 9/11
By Robert Scheer

For a decade, the main questions about 9/11 have gone unanswered while the alleged perpetrators who survived the attacks have never been publicly cross-examined as to their methods and motives. It is not conspiratorial but rather obviously plausible to suggest that they have been kept out of sight because legal due process, constitutionally guaranteed to even the most heinous of criminals, might provide information that our government would find embarrassing.

We remain in ignorance as to what drove religious zealots formerly allied with the United States to turn against us, and what was the role of our ally, Saudi Arabia, the country of origin for most of the hijackers and their financing. Why in the aftermath of the attack did the United States embrace Pakistan, which was one of only three governments (Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were the others) to diplomatically recognize the Taliban and which turned out to be harboring the fugitive Osama bin Laden? And why did we instead invade Iraq, a nation known to be engaged in a deadly war with bin Laden and his al-Qaida?

How little we know about the origins of the Sept. 11 attacks is laid out in the disclaimer on Page 146 of the official 9/11 presidential commission report. A box on that page states clearly that the conventional narrative of how those portentous events unfolded is based largely on the interrogation under torture of key witnesses who have never been permitted a single moment in a publicly observed court of law.

As the bipartisan commissioners ruefully conceded, their examination of the motives, financing and actions of the alleged 9/11 perpetrators had to "rely heavily on information from captured al Qaeda members" that the commissioners, despite having been granted the highest security clearance, were never allowed to seriously vet:

"We submitted questions for use in the interrogations but had no control over whether, when, or how questions of particular interest would be asked. Nor were we allowed to talk to the interrogators so that we could better judge the credibility of the detainees and clarify ambiguities in the reporting. We were told that our requests might disrupt the sensitive interrogation process."

That sensitive interrogation process included the waterboarding of the key witnesses, led by alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was scheduled to go on public, civilian trial in Manhattan last spring, until the Obama administration caved in to hysterical Republican-led pressure and called off the trial.

The fear of a public trial is apparently that it will be an occasion to humanize the presumed perpetrators of barbaric acts, but by that standard no alleged murderer should ever be tried in civilian court. The counterargument is that we as a society have, from the drafting of our Constitution, been committed to due process of law. But an even more compelling objection to the present secrecy flows not from the inalienable rights of the accused to justice but rather from the need to fully inform the public as to the dangers faced by our society.

Major policy developments, including two undeclared wars, were conducted in the name of defeating the perpetrators of 9/11 without the pubic being made aware of the relevant facts. Surely a public trial would have revealed, to the deep embarrassment of the Bush administration, that there was no connection between the 9/11 hijackers and the government of Iraq that the United States overthrew.

At the very least, such testimony would have shed light on the cozy relationship between the U.S. government and the key leaders of al-Qaida, particularly the American-educated Mohammed, recruited by the CIA to join the fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan. It certainly could also have proved embarrassing to former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who, during the Bush administration, opposed public trials and managed last March to get President Barack Obama to reverse his pledge of civilian trials. Gates boasted in his 1996 memoir of his long history of working with Islamic fundamentalists in Afghanistan, dating to his days in the Carter administration. As his book publisher bragged at the time, Gates exposed "Carter's never-before revealed covert support to Afghan mujahedeen-six months before the Soviets invaded."

Of course 9/11 changed everything; nations were invaded, trillions of dollars were wasted, hundreds of thousands of civilian and military lives were lost, torture became acceptable and the public has come to tolerate a daily governmental assault on privacy as normal. But for all of the high drama and cost of the U.S. response, when it comes to understanding the forces behind the attack, we still do not know what we are talking about.
(c) 2011 Robert Scheer is the editor of Truthdig. A journalist with over 30 years experience, Scheer has built his reputation on the strength of his social and political writing. His columns have appeared in newspapers across the country, and his in-depth interviews have made headlines. He is the author, most recently, of "The Pornography of Power: How Defense Hawks Hijacked 9/11 and Weakened America," published by Twelve Books.

The Dead Letter Office...

Rick smiles for the camera

Heil Obama,

Dear Gouverneur Snyder,

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 Elena (Butch) Kagan.

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your throwing tens of thousands of children into the street with winter coming on, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Rethuglican Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds, presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 10-31-2011. We salute you Herr Snyder, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

How Will We Pay For Obama's New Jobs Push? Answer: Tax Wall Street
By John Nichols

President Obama is right: the United States needs a jobs program that spends federal tax dollars to retain jobs, to create jobs and to put tens of millions of Americans back to work.

Unfortunately, President Obama does not have a Congress that will work with him to implement a jobs agenda.

Rather, he has a Congress that says the United States is broke.

That's a lie. The United States is a wealthy country with immense resources. It can fund wars of whim, back bailouts and tax breaks for billionaires.

So there is money. The problem is that the money is misallocated.

But that's not the worst of it.

The most frustrating reality of the current moment is that the federal government places too much of the tax burden on working families, small farmers and small business owners-all of whom contribute mightily to society while struggling to make ends meet-and too little on the Wall Street speculators whose greed and irresponsibility has done so much to destabilize the economy.

Obama's increased focus on jobs is important. But it is not enough at a moment when Republicans in Congress-and their echo chamber in the media-refuse to allocate the resources that are necessary to fund jobs initiatives.

The demand for a jobs programs must be coupled with demands for better budgeting priorities and for new sources of revenue. National Nurses United, the activist union that has been in the forefront of pushing for a genuinely progressive politics and economics in the United States, is addressing the revenue issue with a bold campaign for a tax on Wall Street financial speculation.

They're taking the campaign to the offices of sixty members of the US House-Democrats and Republicans-with a "National Day of Action to Tax Wall Street." At a number offices, such as that of House Budget Committee chair Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, they will set up 1930s-style soup kitchens to feed hungry families that have been left without work and in some cases without homes by plant closings and layoffs. (Ryan's hometown of Janesville, a historic manufacturing center, has been devastated by the shuttering of major employers, such as a General Motors plant that once employed 7,100 area workers.)

NNU allies, such as Progressive Democrats of America and local unions and activist groups, will join the "Day of Action" drive to get members of Congress to sign a pledge to "support a Wall Street transaction tax that will raise sufficient revenue to make Wall Street pay for the devastation it has caused on Main Street."

"It's time for Wall Street financiers, who created this crisis and continue to hold so much of the nation's wealth, to start contributing to rebuild this country, and for the American people to reclaim our future," says NNU executive director Rose Ann DeMoro.

NNU co-president Deborah Burger, RN, says a tax on Wall Street trading of stocks, bonds, derivatives, currencies, credit default swaps and futures-the very financial speculative activity linked to the 2008 financial meltdown and resultant recession-could raise hundreds of billions of dollars to pay for the programs that "are desperately needed to reduce the pain and suffering felt by so many families who feel abandoned in communities across this nation."

That's not just idealism talking. It's practical economics, as accepted by a growing array of world leaders-including many conservatives-as well as top economists.

University of Massachusetts Amherst economics professor Nancy Folbre, a MacArthur Fellowship recipient who has consulted with the World Bank and the United Nations Development Office professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, praised the NNU's "Tax Wall Street" campaign in a recent New York Times piece that explained the push in an international context.

"Purchases of stocks, bonds and other financial instruments in the United States go untaxed but for a tiny fee on stock trades that helps finance the Securities and Exchange Commission. In Britain, by contrast, a 0.5 percent tax on stock transactions raises about $40 billion a year. President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany recently announced plans to introduce a similar tax in the 27 nations of the European Community," wrote Folbre. "Our current tax policies favor speculative investment in financial instruments over productive investments in human capabilities. This imbalance helps explain why nurses' unions in the United States (NNU) have been particularly outspoken advocates of a financial transactions tax. As they put it: 'Heal America. Tax Wall Street.'"

The fiscal arguments for taxing Wall Street are sound.

So, too, are the political arguments.

At a point when so many politicians and pundits claim that America is "broke"-too "broke" even to pay for essential jobs programs in a time of high unemployment-the "Tax Wall Street" proposal provides a proper response. America is not broke. It just needs to follow the example of the rest of the world and demand that the speculators pay their fair share to heal the real economy.

Of course Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan will scream. But it will sound mighty shrill if they are claiming America can't help the jobless because we're "broke"-and that America can't tax speculators and raise the money that would make us not "broke."
(c) 2011 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. He is a contributing writer for The Progressive and In These Times and the associate editor of the Capital Times, the daily newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and dozens of other newspapers.

A Labor Day Tale Of Three Cities
Pittsburgh, Birmingham and New Orleans
By Phil Rockstroh

As Hurricane Irene made her way up the Eastern Seaboard, my wife and I packed a few changes of clothes and trundled westward out of her path to spend the storm's duration in Pittsburgh, PA.

The excursion did us some good, in particular, leaving insular Manhattan, and facing the faded, crumbling Industrial Age grandeur of Pittsburgh. Walking, once again, among the plaintive rasps of the ghosts of the devastated laboring class (the social setting of our youth) provided us with a humanizing contrast to our present day circumstances stranded amid the manic chattering of the preening demons of banal self-regard possessing Manhattan careerists.

Nowadays, the island of Manhattan is tediously bright and shiny -- a sterile, oligarchic controlled dystopia. Accordingly, any sign of redemptive decay and hint of shabby ass human glory has been banished by official caveat and collective collusion.

In contrast, while in Pittsburgh, because I was born in a steel and coal town, Birmingham, Alabama, I shuffled among familiar shades. Deep in my being, I know the social setup -- once manifested in forged steel, living flesh and human longing -- now lost to the ravages of time (more accurately, the consequences of neo-liberal economic doctrine).

In Birmingham, under the statue of the Roman god of the forge, Vulcan, his mortared gaze lording over the city from atop Red Mountain, I witnessed men, hardened by years of grinding labor and demagogic political manipulation, sacrifice their bodies to (Pittsburgh plutocrat-owned) mines, foundries and smelting plants for subsistence pay.

In childhood, when I watched local men labor in the city's metal foundries, their sweat-lacquered faces, reflecting the fiery glow of smelted steel, seemed to glisten with rage, as angry blue sparks showered the heat-seared air around them.

These were hard-drinking, short-tempered men who were calloused of hand and possessed of humiliation-hardened hearts...rendered so, by a life of the strenuous labor, mandated by an exploitive economic system that bequeathed to them little but a hard scrabble existence--and the promise of a future bearing more of the same.

Little wonder, they swore into the soot-choked air, brawled among themselves, and clutched (self-defeating but politically useful to the ruling elite) racial animus, as their vitality was harnessed to build the structure and infrastructure of the industrial state and increase the wealth, privilege and political power of steel and coal plutocrats up in Pittsburgh (the absentee owners of the area's coal and iron mines, smelts, and processing plants) -- but, in so doing, we locals further diminished the steerage of the course of our lives.

I learned early the girding lie that sustains the oligarchic state i.e., the illusory promise: Work hard and you will set yourself free. In fact, as was the rigged economic setup of the Birmingham of my youth, the harder one works within the inverted totalitarian structure of the corporate state, the more one increases the wealth, hence the political power of the ruling enabling the parasitic class to consolidate yet more power. Therefore, by working harder and longer for their benefit, one further diminishes one's control over the trajectory of one's fate.

(Caveat: This is not to be confused with hard work and diligent effort -- a million acts of responsibility create freedom. The distinction aware of who benefits from your efforts and mindfully choose where to apply your labors.)

At present, in cities such as Birmingham and Pittsburgh, the structures, built in the mechanized fury of the Industrial Age, stand idle...decaying around legions of the unemployed and the woefully underpaid and under-compensated. In the oxidized scream of rust, one can almost hear the wails of rage of those souls who surrendered their life force to erect and work the now abandoned factories, mills and foundries of the nation.

Outsourcing, downsizing, work speed-ups, i.e., the most recent mechanisms of capitalism's death cult of dehumanizing efficiency goes all but unchallenged in the official narrative of the corporate state. By means of intimidation and the proffering of small bribes, the work force is induced to transmute their body's vitality and soul's pothos into the profits of an advantaged, ruthless few. In this way, one's pothos (Greek: yearning plus libido) is rendered into the convenient pathos (alienation, paranoia, displaced rage, consumer addiction) of the corporate age.

Why do so many in the U.S. accept this pernicious, self-defeating setup? Perhaps, because they have been convinced by constant saturation by the commercial propaganda of the consumer state that capitalism will bestow to those who abide by its (rigged) rules and (gamed) economic arrangements everything one could possibly need and desire.

Accordingly, all an individual needs to know and experience is at his impulsive, electronic mass media-happy fingertips. He can click from virtual reality enactments of explicit porn to obscene interpretations of Christian prophecy (e.g., the present field of Republican presidential hopefuls) thus, in an instant, transmigrating from fake sin to phony salvation ... What more, in the whole of boundless creation, could one possibly want?

Yet, where does a veritable (as opposed to virtual) sense of place exist in social and economic arrangements such as these?

The present era of weightless perception serves to obscure the crushing consequences of the short-sighted cupidity of both the economic elite and underclasses alike. Reflecting this, wealth now exists as constellations of electrons; money is no longer the vaulted riches of miserly plutocrats nor payday cash of the laboring class burning in the pockets of worn work clothes.

Currency exists in precincts of pixels--a fever dream of appliances--the effluvia of the schemes of the elitist illusionists of high finance whose machinations have wrought an age of electronic razzle-dazzle and devastating real world consequences...whereby the solid architecture and durable accoutrement of the Machine Age, manifested as the sturdy structures of Industrial Era cities, such as Pittsburgh and Birmingham, has been transmuted into the manic, evanescent imagery of the mass media hologram.

In the years since Katrina, I've been known to rage at the indifferent sky, why the Hell (or, at least, its earthly exurb -- Houston) did nature's impersonal fury have to descend on New Orleans, about the last outposts within this corporate simulacrum of a country where an individual pulse and collective heart beat could be found -- where the primordial songs of bone, heart and flesh -- of the arias rising from steam-caressed sidewalks and the riffing currents of rivers -- have not been forced into the Clear Channel/Disney/Time-Warner uberculture blandification machine?

In order for the U.S. -- a nation whose populace possesses the collective capacity for cognitive depth and emotional resonance of a Louisiana gnat flurry in high summer -- to rise from its destructive swoon of insularity-engendered anomie, the embrace of a view of the world imbued by anima mundi, embodied in the living architecture of a city like New Orleans, is essential.

In New Orleans, interred corpses will not remain buried in the earth...the water sodden ground causes the dead to rise to the surface. Axiomatically, we must not deep-six our grief and rage. In the name of Katrina's dead and walking wounded, we must not allow the casuistry-shattering verities of the human heart to be buried and forgotten nor allow mass media schlock to drown out the lamentations of the city's restless dead from memory.

To honor her dead, displaced and deeply scarred, we must remember the mortifying sights and heart-shaking sounds of both the natural disaster that was Katrina and the official shit storm of human negligence, flat-out deceit and malevolence that rendered the Crescent City a corpse-choked drowning pool. Instead, we must gaze down into the dark water of memory, remembering the water-deluged streets of the city...awash with bloated bodies, raw sewage, industrial sludge and the floating debris and submerge detritus of peoples' lives.

Yet, to properly mourn what was lost to the storm (in the tradition of the city itself) one must allow one's grieving heart to be seduced by the soul of the world. Personally, as is the case with many who knew the city, pre-Katrina -- beautiful, disloyal, capricious creature she was (and remains) - I retain a lover's ardor for her.

For: Being enveloped by the redolence of orange blossom and jasmine, held on her humid, late afternoon air, as I sat, swigging a Turbo Dog, on the banks of the Mississippi, as evening tilted over the Lower Ninth. For: The exquisite indifference of starlight above the Bywater, and the manner those distant, celestial bodies would stand in stark contrast to the redemptive immediacy of the sweat-soaked bodies near me, as we would lie on our backs, upon the sidewalk, watching steam (borne of the mass of humanity within) rise from the roof of Vaughan's Lounge...listening, as inside, Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers wailed into the early morning hours.

I suspect my years in New Orleans saved/cursed me from being agenda-prone. I'm not of the reductionist school. I'm drawn to swamps...not so much the muck - but the mindfulness needed to negotiate the terrain. Of course, swamps will bog one down; yet, I'm drawn to the cacophony and filtered light, to its minute gradations of green upon green ... One is forced to slow down in order to take in the revealed beauty and hidden dangers therein.

Moreover, the swamp exists for its own sake and feels no obligation to explain its mystery. It can be known, but its mystery is just that ... ever growing, always dying.

One must not, and this is a habitual misstep of the contemporary left, approach politics, personality and place as a strictly intellectual exercise -- as a thought experiment that will yield to logic. If the swamp of the human psyche were that simple to negotiate, then life would be a dry, blood-bereft trudge indeed.

And yet, how the world wounds us; at times, delivering an aching sorrow that one will always carry. But rejoice in your wounded condition...for the open wound harbors a mouth to kiss...a womb from which to be perennially reborn. As Octavio Paz testifies, "Love is a wound, an injury...Yes, love is a flower of blood."

As far as the struggle to be included in the present political narrative, we, on the left, remain marginalized to the point of near invisibility. But don't lose heart: The problem is the solution. Apropos, empire carries the seeds of its own demise. Therefore, in the shadow of the house of cards economy, now tottering over the ruins and detritus of the nation's shuttered factories, foreclosed upon farms, and abandoned mills, one should go about the business of working on what will replace the hollow and decayed system when it collapses from within.

Accordingly, Rainer Maria Rilke averred (paraphrasing) everyone has a letter written within and if you refuse the life your heart wants to live, you don't get to read this letter before you die. An individual must risk the world, with all its attendant woundings, or he risks having a dead letter office piling up lost correspondence from his neglected heart.
(c) 2011 Phil Rockstroh, is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City. Visit Phil's website, and at FaceBook.

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Lalo Alcaraz ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

A scene that nearly makes the invasion of Iraq appear foolish.

Ongoing Iraqi Violence Almost Makes American Invasion Seem Pointless

WASHINGTON-Following the latest surge of violence in Iraq, a Pew Research Center poll released Monday has found that a substantial majority of Americans now believe the continuing bloodshed in the country almost makes it seem as if the 2003 U.S. invasion might have actually been somewhat pointless.

Approximately 83 percent of Americans surveyed said recent incidents such as a car bomb explosion that killed 40 in the city of Kut, the executions of seven worshippers outside a mosque in Youssifiyah, and a series of other attacks that have left scores of Iraqis dead and wounded were the kinds of events that, if they didn't know better, might make them think the lengthy occupation really wasn't worth it in the slightest.

Forty-three percent of Americans said if someone wanted to, they could very nearly make the assessment, based on current conditions on the ground, that perhaps the United States wasted valuable resources on an unwinnable, nearly impossible endeavor.

"If I didn't have the full story of how and why we got into Iraq, I could see how the continuing violence might, possibly, make the whole war seem almost misguided or something," Atlanta resident Arnold Grover said. "You read about terrorists dressed as police officers gunning down men at a recruiting station and catch yourself wondering for a moment if maybe, just maybe, we might have actually made a terrible decision that just made a bad situation worse and squandered the international goodwill we enjoyed after 9/11."

"I'm just saying that one could think that" Grover added. "I don't. But, just taking a step back and looking at the broader picture of how Iraq is today versus how it was before we invaded, I can see how one could come to that conclusion."

A majority of Americans also agreed that the spate of roadside bombs, suicide attacks, and ethnic murders might-and this is just an opinion, they claimed, which may or may not actually hold water-cause one to deduce that the federal government had sacrificed 4,500 troops, not to mention more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians, in a campaign that ultimately, perhaps, proved ruinous for both nations.

"Sure, through the narrow prism of the violence that has resulted, I guess it'd be possible to conclude we accomplished nothing and threw away a staggering number of human lives as well as trillions of dollars for no real reason," Boise, ID resident Tricia Booth said. "This latest carnage almost makes it seem as if this war were something we shortsightedly got ourselves into and were woefully underprepared to conduct. Fortunately, I have the benefit of all the facts."

In response to the poll, officials who helped orchestrate the war told reporters they understood why people might momentarily pause in their support for the effort.

"With all the chaos, it's understandable that Americans were on the cusp of thinking no amount of money or military force could ever have stabilized a region so unmanageably volatile and dangerous to begin with," said retired U.S. general Tommy Franks, who led Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. "I'm honestly not at all surprised that so many people were briefly tempted to challenge the moral underpinning of the war, as well as its execution."

"But that's why it helps to have the big picture," Franks added. "It really puts everything into perspective. Right?"

Even former president George W. Bush, who launched the Iraq War and presided over much of the subsequent occupation, told reporters he understood how the recent violence in the region could almost cause Americans to regret the military involvement, and much else besides.

"I see where these folks are coming from," Bush said. "I bet a lot of them came this close to wishing I'd never been president, too."
(c) 2011The Onion

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Issues & Alibis Vol 11 # 35 (c) 09/09/2011

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