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In This Edition

John Pilger examines, "The Silent Military Coup That Took Over Washington."

Uri Avnery has a pipe dream in, "Oslo Revisited."

Glen Ford concludes, "Obama: As Warlike As Bush, And Just As Lonely."

Medea Benjamin protests as, "John Kerry Sells A War That Americans Aren't Buying."

Jim Hightower gives, "The Real Poop On The GOP's Silly 'Poopgate.'"

David Swanson reports on, "The Bill Congress Should Pass Instead Of War."

James Donahue lectures on mythology in, "The Gog And Magog Fear Factor."

John Nichols explores, "Mike Bloomberg And The 'Fortunate Ones' Versus Bill de Blasio."

Chris Hedges investigates, "Cornel West And The Fight To Save The Black Prophetic Tradition."

Glenn Greenwald equates, "NSA Encryption Story, Latin American Fallout And US/UK Attacks On Press Freedoms."

Paul Krugman studies, "The Wonk Gap."

David Sirota explains, "What Happened To The Anti-War Movement?"

Matthew Rothschild tells, "Why Bernie Sanders Opposes U.S. Strike On Syria."

USDA chief Tom Vilsack wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich says, "Happy Anniversary Lehman Brothers, And What We Haven't Learned about Wall Street Over The Past Five Years."

Amy Goodman considers, "Kerry, Kissinger And The Other Sept. 11."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Will Durst introduces the, "Pied Piper Of The Potomac" but first, Uncle Ernie sez, "People Who Live In Glass Houses...."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Taylor Jones, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Brian McFadden, Derf, Jeff Danziger, Frank Franklin II, Frank Barratt, Bebeto Matthews, Paula Bronstein, Jason Reed, Reuters, Getty Images, VoVatia, ABC News, A.P., Democracy Now.Org, Black Agenda Report, You Tube.Com and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

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

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

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People Who Live In Glass Houses...
By Ernest Stewart

"Our ideals and principles, as well as our national security, are at stake in Syria, along with our leadership of a world where we seek to ensure that the worst weapons will never be used. America is not the world's policeman. Terrible things happen across the globe, and it is beyond our means to right every wrong, but when with modest effort and risk we can stop children from being gassed to death and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, I believe we should act." ~~~ Barack Obama

"The death dumps, otherwise known as chemical trails, are being dropped and sprayed throughout the United States and England, Scotland, Ireland, and Northern Europe. I have personally seen them not only in the United States, but in Mexico and in Canada. Birds are dying around the world. Fish are dying by the hundreds of thousands around the world. This is genocide. This is poison. This is murder by the United Nations. This element within our society that is doing this must be stopped. I happen to know of two of the locations where the airplanes are that dump this crap on us. Four of the planes are out of the Air National Guard in Lincoln, Nebraska. And, the other planes are out of Fort Sill, Oklahoma. I personally have observed the planes that were standing still in Nebraska - Lincoln, Nebraska - at the Air National Guard. They have no markings on them. They are huge, bomber-like airplanes with no markings. This is a crime: a crime against humanity, a crime against America, a crime against the citizens of this great country. They must be stopped. WHAT IS WRONG WITH CONGRESS? This has an affect on their population, and their people, and their friends, and their relatives, and themselves. What's wrong with them?" ~~~ Ted L. Gunderson ~ former FBI chief

"I grew up in a city. My parents would think there was something wrong with America if they knew I was secretary of agriculture." ~~~ Tom Vilsack

"Round up the usual suspects." ~~~ Captain Renault ~ Casablanca

You know that Barry has got to be bummed! He was all set to start another illegal war and first, the American people, then England, and then Russia got in his way, or so the story goes...

Don't get me wrong, whoever was responsible for murdering those 1,000 or so people with gas should have his or her head removed and put on a stake -- whether it was Syria, our Al Qaeda freedom fighters, or Barry himself. No problem there; but I would remind Herr Obama that people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. Barry has himself murdered more folks than were killed in that attack, many times the number of children killed in Syria. Gas is nasty; but so are belly wounds to day schoolers from one of our drones or F-18 air strikes.

So where does Barry get off calling the kettle black? I know he's a Nobel Peace Prize winner, which just goes to show what a joke that prize is. And Barry, the Constitutional "scholar," is still standing by, regardless of what Congress says, to strike when and where he wants to, regardless; so I'm guessing that so far, all of his victims' blood and gore hasn't sated his bloodlust one bit!

Here's Barry's own words from this week's speech...

I possess the authority to order military strikes.

Actually you don't, Mr. President; that is a right reserved for Congress. If you do so without their permission, that is an act of treason which should, if the Rethuglicans have a single braincell amongst them, call for a righteous bill of impeachment!

Syria's use of chemical weapons is a danger to our security.

Wrong again, Barry. We have H-bombs and your Zionazi pals have A-bombs; and even you admitted that, "the Assad regime does not have the ability to seriously threaten our military." Then Barry said...

"It's true that some of Assad's opponents are extremists. But Al Qaeda will only draw strength in a more chaotic Syria if people there see the world doing nothing to prevent innocent civilians from being gassed."

Couple thoughts, Mr. President. First, where were you when over 100 times the amount of people killed by gas were being killed by bombs. Are dead babies blown to bit by bombs lesser crimes against humanity than gas? Also, if U.S. missile strikes seriously degrade Assad's military, won't that play into the hands of your Al Qaeda pals, which I'm guessing is the point of this exercise? And, last but not least, you said...

"For nearly seven decades, the United States has been the anchor of global security. This has meant doing more than forging international agreements; it has meant enforcing them. The burdens of leadership are often heavy, but the world's a better place because we have borne them."

What we bear, Barry, is the willful murders of millions of innocent folks, men, women, and children at the tender mercies of the US government. You were, no doubt, just going to bring Syria democracy by bombing them back to the stone age, right? Just like we did in dozens of countries since WWII alone -- none of whom chose democracy after we were done! For a look at William Blum's list of those countries go here.

I wonder how many poor and disenfranchised Americans will be made to suffer for the cost of this latest un-needed, illegal war. How many will lose their food stamps and have to start dumpster diving or going to jail just to get three squares? How many will be thrown off Medicaid to die slow, horrible deaths? How many bridges will collapse for lack of funds, etc. etc. etc!

What is even more disheartening is the roar from the same folks who raised holy hell when Bush was doing what Barry is doing today and are now cheering Barry on; it just blows your mind!

In Other News

I saw something upsetting the other day, while sitting on the deck watching the river flow. A half dozen air force jets were busily setting up a cloud bank in a otherwise clear sky with chemtrails. What I found interesting was that the planes were flying back and forth across the St. Mary's river. They'd fly a dozen miles inside Canada and then turn around and fly a dozen miles inside the US and kept that up till they had a stable cloud bank to use for their nefarious purposes. For those of you who aren't hip or think that chemtrails are just contrails, a little schooling!

This bright idea was begun by Ray-Guns and his Star Wars programs. It involves the combination of "chemtrails for creating an atmosphere that will support electromagnetic waves, ground-based, electromagnetic field oscillators called gyrotrons, and ionospheric heaters." It's a simple as particulates make directed energy weapons work better. It has to do with a "steady state" and particle density for plasma beam propagation.

They spray barium powders and let it photo-ionize from the ultraviolet light of the sun. Then, they make an aluminum-plasma generated by "zapping" the metal cations that are in the spray with either electromagnetics from HAARP, the gyrotron system on the ground [Ground Wave Emergency Network], or space-based lasers. The barium makes the aluminum-plasma more particulate dense." This means they can make a denser plasma than they normally could from just ionizing the atmosphere or the air. They have tried, over the years, using everything from aluminum to various heavy metals for this purpose until setting on barium.

More density means that these particles which are colliding into each other will become more charged, because there are more of them present to collide. What are they ultimately trying to do up there is to improve charged-particle, plasma beam weapons, and you thought plasma was just for your TV, huh?

Chemtrails are the medium - GWEN pulse radars, HAARP, and space-based lasers are the method, or put more simply, spray and zap. Something to look forward to in the future and you thought that those black helicopters that follow you around and the killer drones overhead were bad, eh? Now they can vaporize you, without an atomic bomb! Science marches on!

And Finally

Old pink slime himself, Tom Vilsack, the Secretary of Agriculture, made the news again with another one of his proposals to kill us all. This time, Tom thinks it's a good idea to let the foxes guard the hen house, literally. Tom thinks we have way too many US inspectors in meat-processing plants and wants to turn the inspection process over to un-trained employees of the slaughterhouse. I mean, what could go wrong with that?

Of course, this isn't a new idea; Tom has been letting 5 pig slaughterhouses inspect their meat by removing 90% of the USDA inspectors and turning it over again untrained eyes, who are constantly reminded what will happen if they actually start doing their jobs. All five plants are some of the worst in the country and the #1 plant cited the most for health and safety violations, things like lots of yummy fecal matter in the carcasses is amongst the five! Now, with his latest bright idea, you can expect a large dose of chicken feces in every package of chicken. Sounds yummy, huh?

You may recall that Tom loves pink slime almost as much as he love GMOs in everyones food, ending laws as governor of Kansas to protect farmers from GMO foods growing next door and polluting organic farms with their poisons. Tom was Barry's first pick to oversee our food, and, therefore, should be held accountable for Tom's many and various acts of treason; but won't be, because Barry does a dandy speech and so is worshiped by the Sheeple no matter what he does, no matter who he murders, and Tom is his right hand man!

Needless to say Tom wins this week's Vidkun Quisling Award for being this week's biggest traitor in America, second, of course, to our Nobel Peace Prize winning genocidal maniac, who by himself, would win the award week after week, year after year! Tom should be put in a jail cell for the rest of his miserable life and made to eat nothing but GMO's, pink slimes and feces covered Frankenfood. But, of course, nothing will be done; and Tom will continue to poison us, while eating nothing but organic food -- just like his hero Hugh Grant CEO of Monsanto does!

Keepin' On

Well, good news for a change, I went to the po box and, "Eureka!" -- a donation! Thank Zeus for those "Usual Suspects!" Doctor Phil struck again and donated his way into 3rd place for the all-time high donations. Thank you so much, Phil; and I hope you and that Washington-based FBI agent who likes to dress up as a 12-year old girl-scout thing works out for you two, although I have no doubt, that Mr. Jack is insanely jealous of her! But thank you just the same!

Well, the good doctor's donation put's us just under $1200 to raise by the first week of November to keep on bringing the the truth and facts every week for no charge. We depend upon our advertising and donations from our readership, so you don't have to pay to read us like most all of the other news sites do. The whole point of which is to see that the poor can get to the truth. A lot of our readership reads us in libraries as they no longer have a computer, and, in many cases, a roof over their heads. Who deserves to know the truth more than them?

Ergo, if you read us, and like us, and are still gainfully employed, why not send us as much as you can, as often as you can, so that we can continue on our mission to restore the old Republic by hipping ya'll to the truth!


11-27-1920 ~ 09-08-2013
Thanks for the laughs!

04-07-1913 ~ 09-08-2013
Thanks for the film!

01-15-1936 ~ 09-09-2013
Thanks for the film!


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So please help us if you can...?


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

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

Children, many of whose deformities are believed to be the results of the chemical
dioxin that the US used in the Vietnam war, play outside a hospital in Ho Chi Minh City.

The Silent Military Coup That Took Over Washington
This time it's Syria, last time it was Iraq. Obama chose to accept the entire Pentagon of the Bush era: its wars and war crimes
By John Pilger

On my wall is the Daily Express front page of September 5 1945 and the words: "I write this as a warning to the world." So began Wilfred Burchett's report from Hiroshima. It was the scoop of the century. For his lone, perilous journey that defied the US occupation authorities, Burchett was pilloried, not least by his embedded colleagues. He warned that an act of premeditated mass murder on an epic scale had launched a new era of terror.

Almost every day now, he is vindicated. The intrinsic criminality of the atomic bombing is borne out in the US National Archives and by the subsequent decades of militarism camouflaged as democracy. The Syria psychodrama exemplifies this. Yet again we are held hostage by the prospect of a terrorism whose nature and history even the most liberal critics still deny. The great unmentionable is that humanity's most dangerous enemy resides across the Atlantic.

John Kerry's farce and Barack Obama's pirouettes are temporary. Russia's peace deal over chemical weapons will, in time, be treated with the contempt that all militarists reserve for diplomacy. With al-Qaida now among its allies, and US-armed coupmasters secure in Cairo, the US intends to crush the last independent states in the Middle East: Syria first, then Iran. "This operation [in Syria]," said the former French foreign minister Roland Dumas in June, "goes way back. It was prepared, pre-conceived and planned."

When the public is "psychologically scarred", as the Channel 4 reporter Jonathan Rugman described the British people's overwhelming hostility to an attack on Syria, suppressing the truth is made urgent. Whether or not Bashar al-Assad or the "rebels" used gas in the suburbs of Damascus, it is the US, not Syria, that is the world's most prolific user of these terrible weapons.

In 1970 the Senate reported: "The US has dumped on Vietnam a quantity of toxic chemical (dioxin) amounting to six pounds per head of population." This was Operation Hades, later renamed the friendlier Operation Ranch Hand - the source of what Vietnamese doctors call a "cycle of foetal catastrophe". I have seen generations of children with their familiar, monstrous deformities. John Kerry, with his own blood-soaked war record, will remember them. I have seen them in Iraq too, where the US used depleted uranium and white phosphorus, as did the Israelis in Gaza. No Obama "red line" for them. No showdown psychodrama for them.

The sterile repetitive debate about whether "we" should "take action" against selected dictators (ie cheer on the US and its acolytes in yet another aerial killing spree) is part of our brainwashing. Richard Falk, professor emeritus of international law and UN special rapporteur on Palestine, describes it as "a self-righteous, one-way, legal/moral screen [with] positive images of western values and innocence portrayed as threatened, validating a campaign of unrestricted political violence." This "is so widely accepted as to be virtually unchallengeable."

It is the biggest lie: the product of "liberal realists" in Anglo-American politics, scholarship and media who ordain themselves as the world's crisis managers, rather than the cause of a crisis. Stripping humanity from the study of nations and congealing it with jargon that serves western power designs, they mark "failed", "rogue" or "evil" states for "humanitarian intervention."

An attack on Syria or Iran or any other US "demon" would draw on a fashionable variant, "Responsibility to Protect", or R2P - whose lectern-trotting zealot is the former Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans, co-chair of a "global centre" based in New York. Evans and his generously funded lobbyists play a vital propaganda role in urging the "international community" to attack countries where "the security council rejects a proposal or fails to deal with it in a reasonable time."

Evans has form. He appeared in my 1994 film Death of a Nation, which revealed the scale of genocide in East Timor. Canberra's smiling man is raising his champagne glass in a toast to his Indonesian equivalent as they fly over East Timor in an Australian aircraft, having signed a treaty to pirate the oil and gas of the stricken country where the tyrant Suharto killed or starved a third of the population.

Under the "weak" Obama, militarism has risen perhaps as never before. With not a single tank on the White House lawn, a military coup has taken place in Washington. In 2008, while his liberal devotees dried their eyes, Obama accepted the entire Pentagon of his predecessor, George Bush: its wars and war crimes. As the constitution is replaced by an emerging police state, those who destroyed Iraq with shock and awe, piled up the rubble in Afghanistan and reduced Libya to a Hobbesian nightmare, are ascendant across the US administration. Behind their beribboned facade, more former US soldiers are killing themselves than are dying on battlefields. Last year 6,500 veterans took their own lives. Put out more flags.

The historian Norman Pollack calls this "liberal fascism": "For goose-steppers substitute the seemingly more innocuous militarisation of the total culture. And for the bombastic leader, we have the reformer manque, blithely at work, planning and executing assassination, smiling all the while." Every Tuesday the "humanitarian" Obama personally oversees a worldwide terror network of drones that "bugsplat" people, their rescuers and mourners. In the west's comfort zones, the first black leader of the land of slavery still feels good, as if his very existence represents a social advance, regardless of his trail of blood. This obeisance to a symbol has all but destroyed the US anti-war movement - Obama's singular achievement.

In Britain, the distractions of the fakery of image and identity politics have not quite succeeded. A stirring has begun, though people of conscience should hurry. The judges at Nuremberg were succinct: "Individual citizens have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity." The ordinary people of Syria, and countless others, and our own self-respect, deserve nothing less now.
(c) 2013 John Pilger was born and educated in Sydney, Australia. He has been a war correspondent, film-maker and playwright. Based in London, he has written from many countries and has twice won British journalism's highest award, that of "Journalist of the Year," for his work in Vietnam and Cambodia.

Oslo Revisited
By Uri Avnery

ISRAEL LOVES anniversaries. The media fill up with revelations and memories of the event commemorated, eye-witnesses recite their stories for the umpteenth time, old photos flood the pages and the TV screens.

In the coming days, two main memorial dates will play this role. True, the Yom Kippur war broke out only in October (1973), but already the newspapers and TV programs are full of it.

The Oslo agreement was signed on September 13 (1993). Hardly any mention. It has been almost expunged from the national memory.

Oslo? Oslo in Norway? Anything happened there? Tell me about it.

ACTUALLY, FOR me the historic date is September 10. On that day, Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat exchanged letters of mutual recognition.

The State of Israel recognized the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as the representative of the Palestinian people, and the PLO recognized the State of Israel.

It is one of the historic achievements of Oslo that today nobody can possibly grasp the immensity of this recognition.

The Zionist movement aimed officially at the establishment of a homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine. Unofficially, it wanted to turn Palestine - all of it - into a Jewish State. Since Palestine was already inhabited by another people, the existence of this people - as a people - had to be denied. Since the Zionist movement was, in its own eyes, a moral and idealistic endeavor, this denial was a basic tenet of the Zionist creed. A land without a people for a people without a land. Golda Meir famously declared that there was "no such thing as a Palestinian people." I myself have spent hundreds, perhaps thousands of hours of my life trying to convince Israeli audiences that there really exists a Palestinian nation.

And here was the Prime Minister of Israel signing a document that recognized the existence of the Palestinian People, demolishing a central pillar of Zionism after almost a hundred years.

Yasser Arafat's declaration was no less revolutionary. For every Palestinian, it was a fundamental truth that the Zionist state was the illegitimate child of Western imperialism. Palestine was an Arab land, inhabited by Arabs for many centuries, until a bunch of foreign settlers took it over by force and guile, expelled half its population and terrorized the rest.

And here was the founder and leader of the Palestinian liberation movement accepting Israel as a legitimate state!

Recognition of this kind cannot be taken back. It is a fact in the minds of millions of Israelis and Palestinians, and of the world at large. This is the basic change forged in Oslo.

FOR THE vast majority of Israelis, Oslo is dead. Their story is quite simple: we signed a generous agreement. And "the Arabs" broke it, as they always do. We did everything possible for peace, we let the devious Arafat come back into the country, we even gave arms to his security forces - and what did we get? Not peace. Just terrorist attacks. Suicide bombers.

The lesson? The Arabs don't want peace. They want to throw us into the sea. As Yitzhak Shamir put it so succinctly: "The Arabs are still the same Arabs, and the sea is still the same sea."

For many Palestinians, of course, the lesson is the very reverse. The Oslo agreement was a cunning Zionist trick to continue the occupation in another form. Indeed, the situation of the Palestinians under occupation became much worse. Before Oslo, Palestinians could move freely throughout the country from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River, from Nablus to Gaza, from Haifa to Jericho, from everywhere to Jerusalem. After Oslo, this became impossible.

SO WHAT is the truth? Is Oslo dead?

Of course not.

The most important creation of the Oslo agreement, the Palestinian Authority, is very much alive, though not kicking.

One may think about the Authority what one wants, good or bad, but it certainly is there. It is recognized by the international community as a state in the making, attracting donations and capital. It is the visible embodiment of the Palestinian national presence.

In spite of the all-pervading oppression by the military occupation regime, there is a dynamic, vital, self-governing Palestinian society in both the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip, enjoying wide international support.

On the other hand, peace seems far, far away.

IMMEDIATELY AFTER the signing of the agreement (called the "Declaration of Principles") on the White House lawn, we convened a large meeting in Tel Aviv for the peace forces to discuss its merits.

None of us had any illusions. It was a bad agreement. As Arafat put it: "the best possible agreement in the worst possible situation." Not an agreement between equals, but between a strong military power and a small, almost helpless, occupied people.

Some of us proposed condemning the agreement outright. Others, including myself, proposed accepting it conditionally. "The actual paragraphs are less important," I said, "The main thing is the peace dynamic set in motion." Today I am not certain that I was right, but neither am I sure that I was wrong. The jury is still out.

THE MAIN fault in the agreement was that its ultimate aim was not stated. While it seemed obvious to the Palestinians (and to many Israelis) that the aim was to pave the way to peace between the State of Israel and the soon-to-be-established State of Palestine, this was not clear at all to the Israeli leadership.

It was an interim agreement - but interim to what? If you want to go from Berlin to Paris, the interim stations are quite different from those you pass on the way from Berlin to Moscow.

Without agreement on the final destination, a quarrel was bound to break out about every single station on the way. The mood of reconciliation quickly changed into distrust on both sides. It went sour almost right from the beginning.

One can compare Rabin to a general who has succeeded in breaking through the lines of his opponent. A general in such a situation should not stop to think things over. He should rush forward and throw everything he has got into the breach. But Rabin did stop, allowing all the forces of opposition in Israel to gather, regroup and start a fatal counterattack.

By nature, Rabin was no revolutionary. On the contrary, he was a rather conservative type, a military man with not much imagination. By exercising sheer logic, he had arrived at the conclusion that it was in the best interest of Israel to make peace with the Palestinians (a conclusion I had arrived at 44 years earlier, treading the same path.) At the age of 70, he changed his whole outlook. For this he deserves much respect.

But once there, he hesitated. As the Germans say, he had Angst at his own courage. Instead of rushing forward, he haggled at length over every detail even while an intense fascist-type propaganda campaign was let loose against him. For this he paid with his life.

SO WHO broke the agreement first? I would blame my own side.

It was Rabin who proclaimed that "there are no sacred dates!" (To which I responded "I wish he would convince my bank manager of that.") Breaking dates set down in a contract means breaking the contract. The timetable for starting the serious negotiations for final peace was ignored, and so of course was the date set for the conclusion: 1999. By that time, nobody was even thinking about Oslo any longer.

Another fateful violation was the failure to set up the "four safe passages" between the West Bank and the Gaza strip. In the beginning, road signs saying "To Gaza" were indeed set up on the road from Jericho to Jerusalem, but no passage was ever opened.

The result of this became apparent only much later, when Hamas assumed power in the isolated Gaza Strip, while Fatah clung to in the West Bank. It was "divide et impera" at its best (or worst).

In the agreements following Oslo, the occupied West Bank was divided into temporary zones, A, B and C. Area C was to remain for the time being under complete Israeli control. Soon enough it became clear that Israeli military planners had devised the map carefully: Area C included all the main roads and the sites earmarked for Israeli settlements.

The people who devised all these things did not have peace on their mind.

The picture is not altogether one-sided. During the Oslo period Palestinian armed attacks on Israelis did not cease. Arafat did not initiate them, but neither did he go out of his way to prevent them. He probably thought that they would needle the Israelis into going ahead with implementing the agreement. They had the opposite effect.

THE ASSASSINATIONS of Rabin and Arafat put an end to Oslo for all practical purposes. But reality has not changed.

The considerations which led Arafat by the end of 1973 to conclude that he must negotiate with Israel, and which led Rabin in 1993 to talk with the Palestinians, have not changed.

There are two nations in this country, and they must choose: to live together or to die together. I hope they choose life.

Some day, public squares in Tel Aviv and Ramallah will be named for this agreement. And in Oslo, too, of course.
(c) 2013 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Obama: As Warlike As Bush, And Just As Lonely
By Glen Ford

With obscene imperial arrogance, President Obama proclaimed that the "world" - not he - has drawn a bloody "red line" in Syria. "I didn't set a red line," said Obama, at a stop in Sweden on his way to a Group of 20 nations meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia. "The world set a red line."

That's news to the rest of the planet, including most of the Group of 20 and the meeting's host, Russian President Vladimir Putin, who described Obama's claims that Syria used sarin gas against civilians in rebel-held areas as "completely ridiculous." "It does not fit any logic," said Putin, since Syrian President Assad's forces "have the so-called rebels surrounded and are finishing them off."

It's news to China, which will surely join Russia in vetoing any Security Council motion to provide legal cover for Obama's aggression. And it's news to the usually compliant UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who this week reaffirmed that "the Security Council has primary responsibility for international peace and security" and "the use of force is lawful only when in exercise of self-defense in accordance with article 51 of the United Nations Charter and or when the Security Council approves such action."

It's news to Great Britain, America's temporarily wayward poodle, whose parliament rejected any military entanglement in Obama's red line. As esteemed political analyst William Blum points out, 64 percent of the people of France oppose their government's planned participation Obama's Battle of the Red Line.

Apparently, a young and impressionable Obama took the 1985 USA for Africa song "We are the World" too literally, and believes that all one need do is sing or shout the words to make it so.

A new Reuters poll shows 56 percent of the American public oppose U.S. intervention in Syria, with only 19 percent backing Obama. The First Black U.S. President, who was hired (by corporate sponsors, and later elected) to put a new face on U.S. imperial policy after his predecessor's defeat and international isolation over Iraq, now finds himself more alone in the world than George Bush, and with even less support at home.

Nevertheless, Obama will doubtless press forward with his aggression, for the same reason that Bush defied world opinion and a vibrant domestic anti-war movement, ten years ago. U.S. imperialism has no option but to bang its military fist on the table to reset the global game board, just as it attempted - and ultimately failed - to do in Iraq in 2003, and as a unified NATO temporarily accomplished, after a 7-month bombing campaign, in Libya in 2011.

Obama's Syria crisis is another chapter in the Euro-American response to the so-called "Arab Spring" that threatened to upset western dominance in the center of global energy extraction - the end game for global capitalism as we know it. Within a week of Mubarak's fall from power in Egypt, the U.S. State Department informed the press corps that Washington prefers monarchs to autocrats in the Middle East - a very loud signal that the U.S. had suddenly become far more dependent on the royal thieves of the Persian Gulf, the only Arab forces in the region on which the U.S. could depend. Peering into the abyss of sustained popular agitation in the Arab world, the U.S. and its European and royal Arabian allies attempted to leap ahead of the curve of events with a massive display of NATO force against Libya and a mobilization of jihadists in the region, mustered mainly by Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

The goal was to transform the character of the Arab Spring into a battle against secular socialist regimes in Tripoli and Damascus, along with a general Sunni jihad against heretical Shiites of one sect or another. The mission was to remove those states whose very existence threatened the monarchies while at the same time diverting the masses' energies into sectarianism. (All of which is fine with Israel, whose strategy since its founding has been to foster chaos and division in the Arab world.)

Libya fell with the assassination of Muammar Gaddafi (Hillary Clinton : "We came, we saw, he died"), but the Assad government in Syria has held on for almost three years, and was prevailing in its battle against the U.S./Saudi/Qatari-backed jihadists. The 2011 game plan was coming undone. This summer in Egypt, where the West's nightmare of eviction from the entire Mideast began two and a half years ago, the military seized total power and went on a killing spree against the Muslim Brotherhood, exponentially complicating the U.S. regional jihadist strategy. General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's government, which is carrying out a ghastly pogrom against its own Islamists, opposes the U.S. strike against Syria and tells its followers that the U.S. might turn against the Egyptian military regime, next. (This, despite massive infusions of cash from the Arab monarchs to the military government.) Both sides in Egypt's divided society now accuse the other of being allied with Enemy Number One: the U.S. The crisis that Washington hoped to get ahead of, with the attack on Libya, had metastasized. Egypt was wholly unmanageable, and Syria was defeating Washington's jihadists.

Thus, the transparent frame-up of Assad, with direct U.S. participation. It was a panicky move, with the fate of the Empire at stake. Mistakes in execution were surely made, and will come to light - which is why U.S. intelligence agencies hedge their accusations against Assad, leaving room to construct alternative scenarios as the original fable falls apart under the weight of facts and logic.

Obama may well get permission from the U.S. Congress to smash the Syrian state. The president reserves the right to launch the attack, unilaterally, and will not be punished if he does so. It is quite possible that Assad will soon be dead, and Al-Nusra jihadists will be cutting off heads in what's left of central Damascus. But one thing is certain: the U.S. has no long term allies among the Arab people - certainly not the jihadists, who will also turn on their royal paymasters at the first opportunity. The game board cannot be reset - not for long - and, at some point in the not too distant future, the U.S. will be ejected from much of the Arab world.

Obama lays down his red line because - as in 2011 - he has no other options. It has been a twisted "Arab Spring" - but, for U.S. imperialism, it is winter in Arabia.
(c) 2013 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

John Kerry Sells A War That Americans Aren't Buying
By Medea Benjamin

It was September 19, 2002, and US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was scheduled to address the Senate Armed Services Committee about why it was necessary to invade a country that never attacked us: Iraq.

I was so concerned about the pending war that I flew to Washington DC from my home in San Francisco. It was the first congressional hearing I had ever witnessed. My heart was pounding as my colleague Diane Wilson and I pulled out banners that read "UN inspectors, not US war", and proceeded to ask Rumsfeld our own questions: how many innocent Iraqis would die, how many US soldiers, how many of our tax dollars would be poured into this war of choice, and how much money would Halliburton make from the war. We were hauled out of the room by the Capitol police.

Fast forward to September 3, 2013, and I found myself in a hearing with Secretary of State John Kerry telling members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee why it was necessary to invade a country that never attacked us: Syria. By now I'm a pro, having attended countless hearings over the last decade. My CODEPINK colleagues and I came prepared. We took out signs that read "Syria Needs a Ceasefire, Not War" and "No US Attack on Syria", and we rubbed red paint on our hands to signify that the blood of Syrians would be on the administration's hands if it went ahead with the attack.

With an intense feeling of deja vu, I got up to speak right after Secretary Kerry gave his opening remarks. Kerry had said he was proposing limited strikes, not a war. It sounded to me just like the false "cakewalk" argument from the Iraq war sales pitch. I responded that lobbing cruise missiles into another country's sovereign territory was indeed a war, and that the consequences could be devastating. I also insisted that the American people - and the entire global community - did not support US military intervention. I was hauled out by Capitol Police, arrested and charged with "disorderly conduct", a charge I have received many times over the last 11 years.

Kerry responded to my intervention by evoking his youth. "You know, the first time I testified before this committee when I was 27 years old, I had feelings very similar to that protester," he said, referring to when he spoke out against the Vietnam War in 1971 as a member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War. "And I would just say that is exactly why it is so important that we are all here having this debate, talking about these things before the country, and that the Congress itself will act representing the American people."

But what does it mean to represent the American people? In the case of Iraq, the US public had been whipped up by the government and the media to believe that Saddam Hussein played a key role in the 9/11 attacks. That's why a clear majority - 60 percent - supported the Iraq invasion. This time, the public is what some call "war-weary" - but I would call "war-wise". This time, 60 percent of Americans have not bought the government and media hype and are instead opposed to this intervention.

In the congressional vote for the Iraq war, almost all the Republicans lined up to support the war, along with 40 percent of the Democrats. But now that the war is not pushed by a rough-and-tumble Texas Republican but by a more refined, sweet-talking, Nobel Peace Prize-winning Democrat, it's unclear how the votes will shake out. Many of the traditional anti-war Democrats have become pro-war, and we in CODEPINK find ourselves applauding the stand of Tea Party favourites like Kentucky Senator Rand Paul or small-government Republicans like Michigan Congressman Justin Amash. Amash has been outspoken in his criticism of military action, holding town halls across his district to discuss the issue. He tweeted that 95 percent of those he met with opposed US military action in Syria.

There is little time left to stop this new, mad rush to war. Just as the British people put pressure on their members of parliament and insisted they steer clear of this American folly, so, too, the American people are mobilising. We are making our opposition known in town hall meetings throughout the country, and in a flood of calls, petitions, emails and visits to our elected officials. At both the Senate and House hearings, officials mentioned that their constituents were overwhelmingly opposed to intervention.

We are insisting that there are much better ways than cruise missiles to tell the Syrian people that we care. We are calling for increased US support for the more than two million refugees who are overwhelming the neighbouring countries of Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. With the UN's financial needs only 40 percent fulfilled, the billions of dollars that our government would spend on war would be far better spent addressing the mounting refugee crisis.

We are also telling our elected officials that if they are truly concerned about the violence that has killed more than 100,000 Syrians, they should pressure the administration to invest its considerable influence and energies in brokering a ceasefire and seeking a political settlement. This is obviously no easy task. Neither Syrian President Bashar al-Assad nor the divided rebel forces (including the growing al-Qaeda elements) are eager to sit down for talks, as both sides think they can win through force. Yet in the end, this civil war will end with a political settlement, and the sooner it happens, the more lives saved.

The clock is ticking, with President Obama and Secretary Kerry frantically selling a war that the American people don't want to buy. If Congress goes ahead and approves military action, they - unlike their British counterparts - will fail to represent the people who elected them.
(c) 2013 Medea Benjamin is cofounder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK, which has organized seven humanitarian delegations to Gaza. She is author of Don't Be Afraid Gringo: A Honduran Woman Speaks from the Heart.

The Real Poop On The GOP's Silly "Poopgate"

With deep regret, I bring you yet another tale of official nincompoopery from inside the Texas legislature. My regret is deepened by the fact that the story is, indeed, about poop. Or, more accurately, non-existent poop.

On July 12, the state senate was going to pass an especially-repressive GOP bill that would both lockdown the right of Texas women to control their own bodies and lock out low-income women from access to reproductive health care. Just 10 days earlier, this bill was defeated, thanks to Sen. Wendy Davis' now-famous filibuster and the outcry of 1,500 angry women protesters in the Capitol. This time, the senate's macho leaders said they'd heard that feisty women might toss tampons from the gallery in protest of this vote - so the brave men had state troopers seize any such "dangerous" feminine projectiles from purses as the ladies passed through security.

Then, to demonize the female opposition, senate authorities made a stunning claim that troopers had actually confiscated 19 jars suspected of containing urine or feces intended to be hurled at senators. Lt. Governor David Dewherst, a prissy multimillionaire businessman, said he personally saw the offending containers of excrement. "Just despicable," he shivered, "Despicable."

Only, he and state police were unable to produce a single bottle or photo of any of those bodily fluids, nor could the media find any front-line trooper who'd ever heard of such a plan, much less found any poop. Finally cornered, Dewhurst wimpily admitted he had not actually observed the "despicable" contents, but had been told about them by someone. "It's not a question of what I saw or didn't see," he weaseled.

Gosh, Dewy, that's precisely the question - and you've clearly answered that you have even less integrity than courage.
(c) 2013 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition.

The Bill Congress Should Pass Instead Of War
By David Swanson

Here's a preliminary draft of what the United States Congress could pass this week if it were sincerely interested in human rights, international norms, the rule of law, and peace in Syria. You are welcome to suggest it to your Congress members, who are more than welcome to tinker with it. You might also share it with any friends or uncles or neighbors who demand to know: "If you're against missile strikes then what are you in favor of?" Send me any suggested changes.

Non-Lethal Aid to Syria

Joint Resolution

No Military Solution

Sec. 1

a) The Congress does not authorize military action or support of military action in Syria, and such action by the Central Intelligence Agency and any other agencies of the United States must cease immediately.

b) The United States respects the position of the United Nations Charter and the Kellogg-Briand Pact, under Article VI of the U.S. Constitution, as parts of the Supreme Law of the Land. The United States will not violate these treaties by military action or threat of military action against Syria.

Chemical Weapons

Sec. 2

a) The United States will encourage Syria, as well as Egypt, Israel, Angola, North Korea, and South Sudan to ratify and abide by the Chemical Weapons Convention.

b) The United States will eliminate in the swiftest manner that safety allows the entirety of its own chemical weapons stockpiles, and urge other nations, including Russia, to do the same.

c) The United States will forthwith cease to maintain or make use of as weapons: white phosphorous, depleted uranium, or any form of napalm, and will assist Iraq in its recovery from their use.

d) The Congress urges the president to sign the United States on as a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

e) The United States will forward to the UN Security Council and to the prosecutor of the ICC all evidence of violations of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

f) The United States will urge the United Nations to send human rights monitors to Syria.

Humanitarian Aid

Sec. 3

a) The United States will transfer 1% of the current year's Department of Defense budget to non-military aid programs for Syrian refugees and those suffering as a result of war in Syria and around the world.


Sec. 4

a) The United States will diplomatically urge Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Jordan, and all other nations to cease providing arms and ammunition, or funding for arms and ammunition, to fighters in Syria on both sides of the war.

b) The United States will diplomatically urge Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Jordan, and others involved to urge the Syrian opposition and the Syrian government to establish a cease-fire. The United States will use all available pressure, including ceasing to itself provide arms to nations involved.

c) The United States will work with the international community to bring both sides in the Syrian civil war to a neutral negotiating table, with no pre-conditions.

(c) 2013 David Swanson is the author of "War Is A Lie."

The Gog And Magog Fear Factor
By James Donahue

"Behold, Damascus will cease from being a city, and it will be a ruinous heap. The cities of Aroer are forsaken; they will be for flocks which lie down, and no one will make them afraid. The fortress also will cease from Ephraim, and kingdom from Damascus, and the remnant of Syria; they will be as the glory of the children of Israel, says the Lord of hosts." (Isaiah 17:1-3)

As the United States builds up its forces for a military attack against Syria, and Russia is sending its navy ships into the Mediterranean and threatening to stand in defense of the Syrian government, people are nervously wondering if the world isn't on the cusp of the long prophesied final world war.

From the east the Iranian government, which has been supporting the Syrian regime, is warning that if the United States attacks Syria, it will lob missiles into Israel. Israel is building its defenses and preparing for war. And China warns that if Russia gets involved in this conflict, its forces will back Russia.

All of this leads both Christian and Moslem followers to wonder if we are not about to launch the great conflict involving the ancient forces of Gog and Magog, as foretold in both the Old Testament and the Quran.

The Christian text that speaks of Gog and Magog appears in the Book of Ezekiel:

"And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal and prophesy against him, and say, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal: And I will turn three back, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed with all sorts of armor, even a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords: Persia, Ethiopia and Libya with them; all of them with shield and helmet: Gomer, and all his bands; the house of Togarmah of the north quarters, and all his bands: and many people with thee." Ezekiel 38:2

The Quran addresses the names in one brief verse:

"Even when Gog and Magog are let loose and they shall break forth from every elevated place. And the true purpose shall draw nigh, then lo! The eyes of those who disbelieved shall be fixedly open: O woe to us! Surely we were in a state of heedlessness as to this; nay, we were unjust."

Strangely, even as vague as these verses are, both Christians and Moslems in some way associate the appearance of Gog and Magog as a signal that the world is experiencing the end of times.

But an unidentified writer for the website Understanding Islam, had an interesting perspective. He explained that Gog and Magog in the Quran are identified as a "group of nomads" or people lacking culture who return before the final hour to "lay havoc on mankind." This havoc will involve chaos, murder and war that "will come together with all of humanity, forgetting their viciousness and love of conflict, surging toward their final reckoning."

However, the writer said, "such a belief lies outside of what the Quran is actually teaching, and was borrowed from Christian thought through the Book of Revelations. The 'apocalyptic' mentality that plagues most evangelical Christians has been adopted by many Muslims, leading to absolutely ridiculous interpretations recording historical events.

Of course Christian theologians are busy debating the significance of current events in the Middle East, and how they are related to the prophetic messages not only in Ezekiel and Isaiah but in the Book of Revelation. Many see a Third World War as a signal for the long awaited Second Coming of Christ so U.S. leaders who believe this story are dangerously tempted to plunge the world into the havoc described in the Quran. Do they not see it as an easy way to fix the problems of the world without resorting to diplomacy and hard work.

So what if they start such a war and the Jesus story turns out to be a myth. He doesn't show up? How do we resolve that mess.

This is extremely dangerous thinking. There is a story that former President George W. Bush, when planning his unprovoked military attack on Iraq in 2003, tried to sell the idea to French President Jacques Chirac using biblical prophecy. After being contacted by Bush Chirac contacted Professor Thomas Romer, an Old Testament expert at the University of Lausanne, to ask about the legends concerning Gog and Magog.

Chirac said Bush told him that when he looked at the Middle East, he saw "Gog and Magog at work" and the biblical prophecies unfolding.

It appears that Bush, a practicing fundamental Christian, was hoping that the two wars he launched would help trigger events leading to the great Battle of Armageddon and the Second Coming. A lot of people died and were left maimed and homeless because of those wars, but so far, there has been no sign of any kind of intervention from the clouds.

Chirac didn't buy into the prophecy and neither should we. It is due time for the world to turn away from these destructive and outdated religious belief systems, and stop letting them affect world political decision making. It would be best to follow the advice of both Jesus and Mohammad, as well as the Buddha and the many other great prophets and teachers of the past. It was a simple message after all: give up our quest for materialism and love our neighbors.
(c) 2013 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles. He currently produces daily articles for this web site.

Bill de Blasio responds to questions after the Democratic New York City mayoral debate.

Mike Bloomberg And The 'Fortunate Ones' Versus Bill de Blasio
By John Nichols

New York Public Advocate Bill de Blasio might just be elected the new mayor of America's largest city.

And that has the current mayor of New York freaking out.

It's not that Mike Bloomberg has much reason to fear that de Blasio would do harm to the city. When Bloomberg was elected mayor in 2001, de Blasio was elected to the city council, and though their positions differ on a good many issues, they have both worked within the broad mainstream of New York City politics and governance ever since.

But Bloomberg does fear de Blasio's support for a slightly more equitable tax system-of the sort that might make New Yorkers like the billionaire mayor pay a few more bills.

So on the eve of the New York mayoral primary in which de Blasio is likely to beat the mayor's unofficial favorite (City Council President Christine Quinn), Bloomberg was ripping the public advocate. Most of the headlines from Bloomberg over the weekend related to a bizarre comment he made about de Blasio's highlighting of members of his family-including his African-American wife and their teenage son Dante-in public appearances and in television ads that focus on, among other things, the candidate's long-standing opposition to the city's "stop-and-frisk" law.

It is hard to imagine a more traditional political tactic than a candidate and his or her family campaigning together. But Bloomberg told New York magazine that de Blasio is running a "class warfare and racist" campaign because: "he's making an appeal using his family to gain support. I think it's pretty obvious to anyone watching what he's been doing."

That was a "Seriously?" moment, to which response has been universally negative. The mayor's office went into damage-control mode immediately, complaining about the transcription of the taped interview; it was noted that Bloomberg said in the same interview of de Blasio: "I do not think he himself is racist." But even Quinn labeled Bloomberg's remark "unfortunate."

The controversy distracted from another jab at de Blasio by the mayor-a hit that is likely to be central to the mayor's effort to attack the public advocate in a potential mayoral primary runoff race (which is required if no Democratic contender gets more than 40 percent of the vote) and the November general election.

Bloomberg's biggest gripe was with what he terms "class warfare."

From the beginning of his campaign, de Blasio has highlighted issues of income inequality, arguing that New York's story is becoming "a tale of two cities." One of the candidate's most popular platform planks is a proposal for "increasing taxes on the wealthy to fund early childhood and after-school programs." It's hardly a radical plan, and it comes not as part of a divisive appeal but as part of a platform that calls for "One New York, Rising Together."

But the mayor does not like that the front-runner in the race to replace him points out a fact of life in the city Bloomberg has led for twelve years: "In so many ways, New York has become a Tale of Two Cities," says de Blasio "Nearly 400,000 millionaires call New York home, while nearly half of our neighbors live at or near the poverty line. Our middle class isn't just shrinking; it's in danger of vanishing altogether."

Bloomberg complains that "de Blasio's whole campaign is that there are two different cities here. And I've never liked that kind of division. The way to help those who are less fortunate is, number one, to attract more very fortunate people. They are the ones that pay the bills."

Grumbling about the whole de Blasio campaign, Bloomberg says: "It's a destructive strategy for those you want to help the most. He's a very populist, very left-wing guy, but this city is not two groups, and if to some extent it is, it's one group paying for services for the other."

The mayor is off-base on plenty of levels. The majority of New York's revenues come from working people, not millionaires and billionaires.

And de Blasio's "ask" of the wealthiest 1 percent is relatively modest: an increase in New York City's top income tax rate from 3.876 percent to 4.41 percent. Only New Yorkers with incomes above $500,000 would pay any more.

Yet, the tax increase would yield $532 million to help pay for universal all-day pre-kindergarten and after-hours middle-school programs that would, overwhelmingly, benefit low- and moderate-income families.

That those families could use help is hard to debate. In 1980, according to New York's Fiscal Policy Institute, New York's wealthiest 1 percent collected 12 percent of all earnings. By 2012, the wealthiest 1 percent was pocketing 39 percent of all earnings.

"Here [in New York City], one of the country's poorest congressional districts, primarily in the South Bronx, sits less than a mile from one of its wealthiest, which includes Manhattan's Upper East Side. And here, a billionaire mayor presides over a homelessness crisis so massive that 50,000 men, women and children sleep in shelters each night. More New Yorkers are homeless these days than at any time since the Great Depression," notes the Fiscal Policy Institute. "The numbers tell the story. Between 2000 and 2010, the median income of the city's eight wealthiest neighborhoods jumped 55 percent.... Meanwhile, as the cushy precincts got even cushier, median income dipped 3 percent in middle-income areas and 0.2 percent in the poorest neighborhoods."

Bill de Blasio's response to that data is to say: "We need a game-changer, and at a time when so many families are struggling, it's right and fair that we tax the wealthiest New Yorkers to achieve it. There is no investment that will prove more transformative for our kids."

Mike Bloomberg accuses de Blasio of "class warfare."

That's tough talk. But instead of arguing with Bloomberg, perhaps de Blasio should borrow a page from Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Noting that his 1936 reelection campaign was opposed by the forces of "business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering," the thirty-second president said: "Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me-and I welcome their hatred. I should like to have it said of my first Administration that in it the forces of selfishness and of lust for power met their match. I should like to have it said of my second Administration that in it these forces met their master."
(c) 2013 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His new book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, has just been published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

Princeton University professor Cornel West, left, hugs a protester while marching
with Occupy Wall Street demonstrators to Goldman Sachs headquarters in New York.

Cornel West And The Fight To Save The Black Prophetic Tradition
By Chris Hedges

There is an insidious and largely unseen effort by the White House to silence the handful of voices that remain true to the black prophetic tradition. This tradition, which stretches back to Sojourner Truth and Frederick Douglass, has consistently named and damned the cruelty of imperialism and white supremacy. It has done so with a clarity and moral force that have eluded most other critics of American capitalism. President Barack Obama first displayed his fear of this tradition when he betrayed his pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, abetting the brutal character assassination of one of the church's most prophetic voices. And he has sustained this assault, largely through black surrogates such as the Rev. Al Sharpton, Tom Joyner and Steve Harvey, in vicious attacks on Cornel West.

"Jeremiah Wright was the canary in the mine," West said when we met a few days ago in Princeton, N.J. "The black prophetic tradition has been emptied out. Its leaders have either been murdered or incarcerated. ... A lot of political prisoners who represent the black prophetic tradition [are] in jail. They have been in there for decades. Or we have leaders who have completely sold out. They have been co-opted. And these are the three major developments. With sold-out leaders you get a pacified followership or people who are scared."

"The black prophetic tradition has been the leaven in the American democratic loaf," West said. "What has kept American democracy from going fascist or authoritarian or autocratic has been the legacy of Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Martin King, Fannie Lou Hamer. This is not because black people have a monopoly on truth, goodness or beauty. It is because the black freedom movement puts pressure on the American empire in the name of integrity, decency, honesty and virtue."

The tradition is sustained by a handful of beleaguered writers and intellectuals, including Glen Ford and his Black Agenda Report, James Cone, Carl Dix, Bruce Dixon, Boyce Watkins, Yvette Carnell, Robin Kelley, Margaret Kimberley, Nellie Bailey, the Rev. Michael Pfleger, Maulana Karenga, Ajamu Baraka and Wright, but none have the public profile of West, who is routinely attacked by Obama's black supporters as a "race traitor," the equivalent of a "self-hating Jew" to hard-line supporters of Israel. It is understandable why this tradition frightens Obama. It exposes him as the ideological heir of Booker T. Washington, a black accommodationist whose core message to black people was, in the words of W.E.B. Du Bois, "adjustment and submission." The wide swath of destruction Obama has overseen on behalf of the corporate state includes the eradication of most of our civil liberties and our privacy, the expansion of imperial war, the use of kill lists, abject subservience to Wall Street's criminal class and the military-industrial complex, the relentless persecution of whistle-blowers, mass incarceration of poor people of color and the failure to ameliorate the increasing distress of the poor and the working class. His message to the black underclass in the midst of the corporate rape of the nation is drawn verbatim from the Booker T. Washington playbook. He tells them to work harder-as if anyone works harder than the working poor in this country-and obey the law.

"Obama is the highest manifestation of the co-optation that took place," West said. "It shifted to the black political class. The black political class, more and more, found itself unable to tell the truth, or if they began to tell some of the truth they were [put] under surveillance, attacked and demonized. Forty percent of our babies are living in poverty, living without enough food, and Obama comes to us and says quit whining. He doesn't say that to the Business Roundtable. He doesn't say that to the corporate elites. He doesn't say that to AIPAC, the conservative Jewish brothers and sisters who will do anything to support the Israeli occupation against Palestinians. This kind of neglect in policy is coupled with disrespect in his speeches to black folk, which the mainstream calls tough love."

"He is a shell of a man," West said of Obama. "There is no deep conviction. There is no connection to something bigger than him. It is a sad spectacle, sad if he were not the head of an empire that is in such decline and so dangerous. This is a nadir. William Trotter and Du Bois, along with Ida B. Wells-Barnett, were going at Book T tooth and nail. Look at the fights between [Marcus] Garvey and Du Bois, or Garvey and A. Philip Randolph. But now if you criticize Obama the way Randolph criticized Garvey, you become a race traitor and an Uncle Tom. A lot of that comes out of the Obama machine, the Obama plantation."

"The most pernicious development is the incorporation of the black prophetic tradition into the Obama imperial project," West said. "Obama used [Martin Luther] King's Bible during his inauguration, but under the National Defense Authorization Act King would be detained without due process. He would be under surveillance every day because of his association with Nelson Mandela, who was the head of a 'terrorist' organization, the African National Congress. We see the richest prophetic tradition in America desecrated in the name of a neoliberal worldview, a worldview King would be in direct opposition to. Martin would be against Obama because of his neglect of the poor and the working class and because of the [aerial] drones, because he is a war president, because he draws up kill lists. And Martin King would have nothing to do with that."

"We are talking about crimes against humanity-Wall Street crimes, war crimes, the crimes of the criminal justice system in the form of Jim Crow, the crimes against our working poor that have their backs pushed against the wall because of stagnant wages and corporate profits going up," West said. "Abraham Heschel said that the distinctive feature of any empire in decline is its indifference to criminality. That is a fundamental feature of our time, an indifference to criminality, especially on top, wickedness in high places."

"This is not personal," West said. "This was true for [George W.] Bush. It was true for [Bill] Clinton. We are talking about an imperial system, manifest in Obama's robust effort to bomb Syria. War crimes against Syrian children do not justify U.S. war crimes. We are talking about a corporate state and a massive surveillance and national security state. It operates according to its own logic. Profit on the one hand, and secrecy to hide imperial policy on the other. Jesse [Jackson] was the head house Negro on the Clinton plantation, just as Sharpton is the head house Negro on the Obama plantation. But there is a difference. Jesse was willing to oppose Clinton on a variety of issues. He marched, for example, against the welfare bill. But Sharpton loves the plantation. He will not say a critical word. It is sad and pathetic. We are living in the age of the sellout."

"Garvey used to say that as long as black people were in America the masses of black people, the poor and the working class, would never be treated with respect, decency or fairness," West said. "That has always been a skeleton in the closet, the fundamental challenge to the black prophetic tradition. It may very well be that black people will never be free in America. But I believe, and the black prophetic tradition believes, that we proceed because black people are worthy of being free, just as poor people of all colors are worthy of being free, even if they never will be free. That is the existential leap of faith. There is no doubt that with a black president the black masses are still treated unfairly, from stop and frisk to high unemployment, indecent housing and decrepit education."

"It is a spiritual issue," West said. "What kind of person do you choose to be? People say, 'Well, Brother West, since the mass of black folk will never be free then let me just get mine.' That is the dominant response. 'I am wasting my time fighting a battle that can't be won.' But that is not what the black prophetic tradition is about. History is a mystery. Yes, it doesn't look good. But the masses of black folk must be respected. Malcolm X used to say as long as they are not respected you could show me all the individual respect you want but I know it's empty. That is the fundamental divide between the prophetic tradition and the sellouts."

The tradition has been diminished by what West called the "emaciation" of the black press that once amplified the voices of black radicals. The decline of the black press and the consolidation of the media, especially the electronic media, into the hands of a few corporations means that those who remain faithful to this tradition have been shut out. West does not appear on MSNBC, where the black and white hosts serve as giddy cheerleaders for Obama, and was abruptly dropped as a scheduled guest on an edition of CBS' "Face the Nation" that aired after the 50 anniversary of the march on Washington. The black prophetic tradition is rarely taught in schools, including primarily African-American schools, and West said that this deterioration threatens to extinguish the tradition.

"It no longer has a legitimacy or significant foothold in the minds of the black masses," West said. "With corporate media and the narrowing of the imagination of all Americans, including black people, there is an erasure of memory. This is the near death of the black prophetic tradition. It is a grave issue. It is a matter of life and death. It means that the major roadblock to American fascism, which has been the black prophetic tradition, is gone. To imagine America without the black prophetic tradition, from Frederick Douglass to Fannie Lou Hamer, means an American authoritarian regime, American fascism. We already have the infrastructure in place for the police state."

"Black intelligence and black suspicion is still there among the masses," West said. "Black people are not stupid. We are not completely duped. We are just scared. We don't think there is any alternative. This is re-niggerization of the black professional class. They have big money, nice positions, comfort and convenience, but are scared, intimidated, afraid to tell the truth and will not bear witness to justice. Those who are incorporated into the black professional and political class are willing to tolerate disrespect for the black masses and sip their tea and accept their checks and gain access to power. That is what niggerization is-keeping people afraid and intimidated."
(c) 2013 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. He is the author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. His latest book is, ""Death Of The Liberal Class."

NSA Encryption Story, Latin American Fallout And US/UK Attacks On Press Freedoms
The implications of the prior week's reporting of NSA stories continue to grow
By Glenn Greenwald

I'm currently working on what I believe are several significant new NSA stories, to be published imminently here, as well as one very consequential story about NSA spying in Brazil that will first be broadcast Sunday night on the Brazilian television program Fantastico (because the report has worldwide implications, far beyond Brazil, it will be translated into English and then quickly published on the internet). Until then, I'm posting above the video of the 30-minute interview I did yesterday on Democracy Now with Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez about our NSA encryption story and ongoing US/UK attacks on press freedom (the transcript of that interview is here).

There has been some excellent commentary on the implications of the NSA/GCHQ encryption story we published this week. The LA Times' Jim Healey says the story is "the most frightening" yet, and explains why he thinks that. The Bloomberg technology columnist David Meyer's analysis of what this all means is worth reading in its entirety. In the Guardian, security expert Bruce Schneier, who has worked with us on a couple of soon-to-be-published stories, identifies 5 ways to maintain the privacy of your internet communications notwithstanding the efforts of the NSA and GCHQ to induce companies to build vulnerabilities into certain types of encryption.

As for Brazil, the fallout continues from our report last week on Fantastico revealing the NSA's very personal and specific surveillance targeting of Brazilian president Dilma Rouseff and then-leading-candidate (now Mexican president) Enrique Peña Nieto (the NSA documents we published about those activities are here). In an interview this week with The Hindu's Shobhan Saxena, Brazil's highly popular ex-president Lula vehemently condemned NSA spying abuses and said Obama should "personally apologize to the world." The New York Times' Simon Romero has a good article from yesterday on the thus-far-unsuccessful attempts by Obama to placate the anger in the region from this report. As for the new report coming Sunday night in Brazil, please take note of this adamant statement last week from the NSA, as reported by the Washington Post [asterisks in original]:

"US intelligence services are making routine use around the world of government-built malware that differs little in function from the 'advanced persistent threats' that US officials attribute to China. The principal difference, US officials told The Post, is that China steals US corporate secrets for financial gain.

"'The Department of Defense does engage' in computer network exploitation, according to an e-mailed statement from an NSA spokesman, whose agency is part of the Defense Department. 'The department does ***not*** engage in economic espionage in any domain, including cyber.'"

In Europe this week, President Obama has been making similar claims when asked about NSA spying, repeatedly assuring people that NSA surveillance is overwhelmingly devoted to stopping terrorism threats.

One big problem the NSA and US government generally have had since our reporting began is that their defenses offered in response to each individual story are quickly proven to be false by the next story, which just further undermines their credibility around the world. That NSA denial I just excerpted above has already been disproven by several reports (see, for instance, the letter published in this article, or the last document published here), but after Sunday, I think it will prove to be perhaps the NSA's most misleading statement yet.
(c) 2013 Glenn Greenwald. was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. His most recent book is, With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book "How Would a Patriot Act?," a critique of the Bush administration's use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, "A Tragic Legacy," examines the Bush legacy. He is the recipient of the first annual I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism.

The Wonk Gap
By Paul Krugman

On Saturday, Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming delivered the weekly Republican address. He ignored Syria, presumably because his party is deeply conflicted on the issue. (For the record, so am I.) Instead, he demanded repeal of the Affordable Care Act. "The health care law," he declared, "has proven to be unpopular, unworkable and unaffordable," and he predicted "sticker shock" in the months ahead.

So, another week, another denunciation of Obamacare. Who cares? But Mr. Barrasso's remarks were actually interesting, although not in the way he intended. You see, all the recent news on health costs has been good. So Mr. Barrasso is predicting sticker shock precisely when serious fears of such a shock are fading fast. Why would he do that?

Well, one likely answer is that he hasn't heard any of the good news. Think about it: Who would tell him?

My guess, in other words, was that Mr. Barrasso was inadvertently illustrating the widening "wonk gap" - the G.O.P.'s near-complete lack of expertise on anything substantive. Health care is the most prominent example, but the dumbing down extends across the spectrum, from budget issues to national security to poll analysis. Remember, Mitt Romney and much of his party went into Election Day expecting victory.

About health reform: Mr. Barrasso was wrong about everything, even the "unpopular" bit, as I'll explain in a minute. Mainly, however, he was completely missing the story on affordability.

For the truth is that the good news on costs just keeps coming in. There has been a striking slowdown in overall health costs since the Affordable Care Act was enacted, with many experts giving the law at least partial credit. And we now have a good idea what insurance premiums will be once the law goes fully into effect; a comprehensive survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation finds that on average premiums will be significantly lower than those predicted by the Congressional Budget Office when the law was passed.

But do Republican politicians know any of this? Not if they're listening to conservative "experts," who have been offering a steady stream of misinformation. All those claims about sticker shock, for example, come from obviously misleading comparisons. For example, supposed experts compare average insurance rates under the new system, which will cover everyone, with the rates currently paid by a handful of young, healthy people for bare-bones insurance. And they conveniently ignore the subsidies many Americans will receive.

At the same time, in an echo of the Romney camp's polling fantasies, other conservative "experts" are creating false impressions about public opinion. Just after Kaiser released a poll showing a strong majority - 57 percent - opposed to the idea of defunding health reform, the Heritage Foundation put out a poster claiming that 57 percent of Americans want reform defunded. Did the experts at Heritage simply read the numbers upside down? No, they claimed, they were referring to some other poll. Whatever really happened, the practical effect was to delude the right-wing faithful.

And the point is that episodes like this have become the rule, not the exception, on the right. How many Republicans know, for example, that government employment has declined, not risen, under President Obama? Certainly Senator Rand Paul was incredulous when I pointed this out to him on TV last fall. On the contrary, he insisted, "the size of growth of government is enormous under President Obama" - which was completely untrue but was presumably what his sources had told him, knowing that it was what he wanted to hear.

For that, surely, is what the wonk gap is all about. Political conservatism and serious policy analysis can coexist, and there was a time when they did. Back in the 1980s, after all, health experts at Heritage made a good-faith effort to devise a plan for universal health coverage - and what they came up with was the system now known as Obamacare.

But that was then. Modern conservatism has become a sort of cult, very much given to conspiracy theorizing when confronted with inconvenient facts. Liberal policies were supposed to cause hyperinflation, so low measured inflation must reflect statistical fraud; the threat of climate change implies the need for public action, so global warming must be a gigantic scientific hoax. Oh, and Mitt Romney would have won if only he had been a real conservative.

It's all kind of funny, in a way. Unfortunately, however, this runaway cult controls the House, which gives it immense destructive power - the power, for example, to wreak havoc on the economy by refusing to raise the debt ceiling. And it's disturbing to realize that this power rests in the hands of men who, thanks to the wonk gap, quite literally have no idea what they're doing.
(c) 2013 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

"The problem, of course, lies with the realities concealed from us. This has always been the case. While the American public has slowly grappled with ongoing injustices visible within our own borders, it has long failed to discover and correct our government's abuses abroad. In the end, however, this is our government, and torture is being utilized in our names and supported by our tax dollars. We are responsible."
~~~ Jennifer Harbury

What Happened To The Anti-War Movement?
By David Sirota

A mere 72 hours after President Obama delivered an encomium honoring the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, he announced his intention to pound yet another country with bombs. The oxymoron last week was noteworthy for how little attention it received. Yes, a president memorialized an anti-war activist who derided the U.S. government as "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world." Then that same president quickly proposed yet more violence - this time in Syria.

Among a political press corps that rarely challenges the Washington principle of "kill foreigners first, ask questions later," almost nobody mentioned the contradiction. Even worse, as Congress now debates whether to launch yet another military campaign in the Middle East, the anti-war movement that Dr. King represented - and that so vigorously opposed the last war - is largely silent. Sure, there have been a few perfunctory emails from liberal groups, but there seems to be little prospect for mass protest, raising questions about whether an anti-war movement even exists anymore.

So what happened to that movement? The shorter answer is: It was a victim of partisanship.

That's the conclusion that emerges from a recent study by professors at the University of Michigan and Indiana University. Evaluating surveys of more than 5,300 anti-war protestors from 2007 to 2009, the researchers discovered that the many protestors who self-identified as Democrats "withdrew from anti-war protests when the Democratic Party achieved electoral success" in the 2008 presidential election.

Had there been legitimate reason to conclude that Obama's presidency was synonymous with the anti-war cause, this withdrawal might have been understandable. But that's not what happened - the withdrawal occurred even as Obama was escalating the war in Afghanistan and intensifying drone wars in places like Pakistan and Yemen. The researchers thus conclude that during the Bush years, many Democrats were not necessarily motivated to participate in the anti-war movement because they oppose militarism and war - they were instead "motivated to participate by anti-Republican sentiments."

Not surprisingly, this hyper-partisan outlook and the lack of a more robust anti-war movement explain why political calculations rather than moral questions are at the forefront of the Washington debate over a war with Syria.

In that Beltway back and forth, the national media has focused more on the horserace (will an attack politically weaken the president?) and political tactics (should the president have submitted to a congressional vote?) than on whether an attack would actually make things better in Syria.

Similarly, a top Democratic strategist told CNN that potential Republican opposition to a Syria attack "will coalesce Democrats around the president" in support of a military strike. Confirming that dynamic, Democratic Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton said a war resolution will pass not because of the supposed merits of an attack on Syria, but simply "because of loyalty of Democrats" who "just don't want to see (Obama) shamed and humiliated on the national stage."

This is red-versus-blue tribalism in its most murderous form. It suggests that the party affiliation of a particular president should determine whether or not we want that president to kill other human beings. It further suggests that we should all look at war not as a life-and-death issue, but instead as a sporting event in which we blindly root for a preferred political team.

An anti-war movement is supposed to be a check on such reflexive bloodlust. It is supposed to be a voice of reason interrupting the partisan tribalism. When it, too, becomes a victim of that tribalism, we lose something more than a political battle. As the distorted debate over Syria proves, we lose the conscience that is supposed to guide us through the most vexing questions of all.
(c) 2013 David Sirota is a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist, magazine journalist and the best-selling author of "Hostile Takeover" and "The Uprising." He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado and blogs at E-mail him at David Sirota is a former spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee. Follow him on Twitter @davidsirota .

Bernie at Fighting Bob Fest

Why Bernie Sanders Opposes U.S. Strike On Syria
By Matthew Rothschild

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont spoke out forcefully against a U.S. war on Syria over the weekend.

Speaking at a fundraiser in Madison, Wisconsin, Friday night, Sanders said that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was "a butcher of the worst kind." But Sanders added: "To get involved in a bloody and complicated war in Syria makes no sense at all. We would reap consequences we can't imagine."

He also stressed that U.S. involvement in another war would be a huge distraction from the serious economic problems that plague most Americans.

"At a time when the middle class is literally disappearing," he said, "when 46 million people are living in poverty and real unemployment is close to 14 percent, and a generation of kids are graduating from high school and college and can't find any work, and when we have the most unequal distribution of income since the Great Depression, what do you think is going to happen if we go to war with Syria?"

His answer: These issues won't get addressed at all. They "keep getting pushed aside because of war and war and war and war," he said.

He added: "I don't want our country to become the Sparta of the twenty-first century."

He said, "the American people are opposed to this war, in Syria," he said, and other elected officials are getting similar feedback from their constituents.

"Washington-Congress and the President-are way, way, way out of touch with the American people," he said.

Later Friday night, Sanders spoke at the Barrymore Theatre at the kick-off event of Fighting Bob Fest, one of the biggest annual gatherings of progressives in the country.

He envisioned not a war against Syria but a war to make America a more just society.

"How about going to war against unemployment?" he asked.

"How about going to war against our dysfunctional health care system?"

"How about a war against Wall Street?"

"How about a war against the high cost of higher education?"

"How about addressing the major planetary crisis, which is global warming?"

"How about a war against the attacks on our privacy rights?"

He also cautioned that "if we get into a war about regime change in Syria, who do you think is going to pay for it? The top 1 percent? No. Children in Head Start, families on food stamps, seniors on Medicare-that's who will be paying for it."

In conclusion, he said, "Let's give peace a chance."

Sanders made similar remarks on Saturday from the podium of Fighting Bob Fest, where he warned about America becoming an oligarchy.
(c) 2013 Matthew Rothschild is the editor of The Progressive magazine.

The Dead Letter Office...

Tom gives the corpo-rat salute

Heil Obama,

Dear Deputy Fuhrer Vilsack,

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

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

Along with this award you will be given the 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 11-30-2013. We salute you Herr Vilsack, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

Happy Anniversary Lehman Brothers, And What We Haven't Learned about Wall Street Over The Past Five Years
By Robert Reich

While attention is focused on Syria, the gambling addiction of Wall Street's biggest banks is more dangerous than ever.

Five years ago this September, Lehman Brothers went bankrupt, and the Street hurtled toward the worst financial crisis in eighty years. Yet the biggest Wall Street banks are far larger now than they were then. And the Dodd-Frank rules designed to stop them from betting with the insured deposits of ordinary savers are still on the drawing boards - courtesy of the banks' lobbying prowess. The so-called Volcker Rule has yet to see the light of day.

To be sure, the banks' balance sheets are better than they were five years ago. The banks have raised lots of capital and written off many bad loans. (Their risk-weighted capital ratio is now about 60 percent higher than before the crisis.)

But they're back to too many of their old habits.

Consider JPMorgan Chase, the largest of the bunch. Last year it lost $6.2 billion by betting on credit default swaps tied to corporate debt - and then lied about it. Evidence shows the bank paid bribes to get certain counties to buy the swaps. The Justice Department is investigating the bank over improper energy trading. That follows the news that the anti-bribery unit of the Security and Exchange Commission is looking into whether JPMorgan hired the children of Chinese officials to help win business. The bank has also allegedly committed fraud in collecting credit card debt, used false and misleading means of foreclosing on mortgages, and misled credit-card customers in seeking to sell them identity-theft products. The list goes on.

JPMorgan's most recent quarterly report lists its current legal imbroglios in nine pages of small print, and estimates resolving them all may cost as much as $6.8 billion. That's not much more than a pittance for a company with total assets of $2.4 trillion and shareholder equity of $209 billion.

Which is precisely the point. No company, least of all a giant Wall Street bank, will eschew a chance to make a tidy profit unless the probability of getting caught and prosecuted, multiplied times the amount of any potential penalty, is greater than the expected profits.

Have we learned nothing since September, 2008? Five years ago this month Wall Street almost went under. We bailed it out. Millions of Americans are still suffering the consequences of the Street's excesses. Yet the Street's top guns and fat cats are still treating the economy as their own private casino, and raking in even more than before.

The fact is, the giant Wall Street banks are ungovernable - too big to fail, too big to jail, too big to curtail. They should be split up, and their size capped. There's no need to wait for Congress to do it; the nation's antitrust laws are adequate to the job. There is ample precedent. In 1911 we split up Standard Oil. In 1982 we split up Ma Bell. The Federal Reserve has authority to do it on its own in any event. (Would Larry Summers take such an initiative?)

Legislation is needed, however, to resurrect the Glass-Steagall Act that once separated commercial banking from casino capitalism. But don't hold your breath.

Happy fifth anniversary, Wall Street.
(c) 2013 Robert Reich is Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written twelve books, including The Work of Nations, Locked in the Cabinet, and his most recent book, "Beyond Outrage," is now out in paperback. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause. His new film, "Inequality for All," will be out September 27.

Two war criminals

Kerry, Kissinger And The Other Sept. 11
By Amy Goodman

As President Barack Obama's attack on Syria appears to have been delayed for the moment, it is remarkable that Secretary of State John Kerry was meeting, on Sept. 11, with one of his predecessors, Henry Kissinger, reportedly to discuss strategy on forthcoming negotiations on Syria with Russian officials. The Kerry-Kissinger meeting, and the public outcry against the proposed attack on Syria to which both men are publicly committed, should be viewed through the lens of another Sept. 11 ... 1973.

On that day, 40 years ago, the democratically elected president of Chile, Salvador Allende, was violently overthrown in a U.S.-backed coup. Gen. Augusto Pinochet took control and began a 17-year dictatorial reign of terror, during which more than 3,000 Chileans were murdered and disappeared-about the same number killed on that later, fateful 9/11, 2001. Allende, a socialist, was immensely popular with his people. But his policies were anathema to the elites of Chile and the U.S., so President Richard Nixon and his secretary of state and national-security adviser, Henry Kissinger, supported efforts to overthrow him.

Kissinger's role in plotting and supporting the 1973 coup in Chile becomes clearer as the years pass and the documents emerge, documents that Kissinger has personally fought hard to keep secret. Peter Kornbluh of the nonprofit National Security Archive has been uncovering the evidence for years, and has recently updated his book, "The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability." Kornbluh told me that Kissinger was "the singular most important figure in engineering a policy to overthrow Allende and then, even more, to embrace Pinochet and the human-rights violations that followed." He said that Kissinger "pushed Nixon forward to as aggressive but covert a policy as possible to make Allende fail, to destabilize Allende's ability to govern, to create what Kissinger called a coup climate."

The Pinochet regime was violent, repressive and a close ally of the United States. Pinochet formed alliances with other military regimes in South America, and they created "Operation Condor," a campaign of coordinated terror and assassinations throughout Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, Bolivia and Brazil. Operation Condor even reached onto the streets of Washington, D.C., when, on Sep. 21, 1976, a former Chilean ambassador to the U.S. during the Allende government, Orlando Letelier, along with his assistant, a U.S. citizen named Ronni Moffitt, were killed by a car bomb planted by Pinochet's secret police on Embassy Row, just blocks from the White House.

Eventually, under increasing global condemnation and growing internal, nonviolent resistance, the Pinochet regime was forced to hold a plebiscite, a national vote, on whether Pinochet would continue as Chile's dictator. With a resounding "No!" the public rejected him, ushering in the modern, democratic era in Chile.

At least two U.S. citizens were murdered during the 1973 coup. Charles Horman and Frank Teruggi were in Chile to observe the democratic experience there, working as writers and journalists. Their abduction and murder by Pinochet's forces, with the likely collaboration by the U.S. government, is depicted movingly in the 1982 Oscar-winning film "Missing," directed by Costa Gavras, starring Jack Lemmon and Sissy Spacek. On the week of the coup's 40th anniversary, Charles Horman's widow, Joyce Horman, held a commemoration. The event, hosted in New York City by the Charles Horman Truth Foundation, attracted hundreds, many who were personally involved with the Allende government or who were forced into exile from Chile during those terrible years.

Among those in attendance was Juan Garces, a Spanish citizen who was President Allende's closest adviser. Garces was with Allende in the presidential palace on Sept. 11, 1973. Just before the palace was bombed by the air force, Allende led Garces to the door of the palace and told him to go out and tell the world what had happened that day.

Allende died during the coup. Garces narrowly escaped Chile with his life. He led the global legal pursuit of Pinochet, finally securing his arrest in Britain in 1998, where Pinochet was held for 504 days. While Pinochet was eventually allowed to return to Chile, he was later indicted there and, facing trial and prison, died under house arrest in 2006, at the age of 91.

Today, Garces sees alarming similarities between the repression in Chile and U.S. policies today: "You have extraordinary renditions. You have extrajudicial killings. You have secret centers of detentions. I am very concerned that those methods ... were applied in Chile with the knowledge and the backing of the Nixon-Kissinger administration in this period. The same methods are being applied now in many countries with the backing of the United States. That is very dangerous for everyone."

Rather than meeting with Kissinger for advice, John Kerry would better serve the cause of peace by consulting with those like Garces who have spent their lives pursuing peace. The only reason Henry Kissinger should be pursued is to be held accountable, like Pinochet, in a court of law.
(c) 2013 Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!," a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 750 stations in North America. She is the co-author of "Standing Up to the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times," recently released in paperback and "Breaking The Sound Barrier."

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Taylor Jones ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Pied Piper Of The Potomac
By Will Durst

Got to forgive Presidential and Congressional staffers for covering their ears and singing "la la la" at the top of their lungs, as everyone pretends not to be knee deep in the icky tricky sticky Syria situation. You might say Washington is in a Semi-Syrious mode right now. And a Semi-Not-So-Syrious mode. Simultaneously.

Because this whole affair is riddled with enigmas and mysteries enough to make Winston Churchill spin his conundrums right off. And rumor has it, he harbored huge conundrums.

Demonstrating resolve in the face of chemical weapons, Barack Obama weaves through the media like Gumby's drunken brother in a wind tunnel. Unfamiliar territory for a Chief Executive who never learned how to play both sides against the middle. For four and a half years, he's been a facilitator with nothing and nobody to facilitate. All he needed was a facilitatee.

And now there's a war. Not a leftover war. His war. A new war. Good Obama. Bad Obama. Boots. No boots. Barefoot. 30 days. 300 days. 3000 days. He loves us. He loves us not. Yes. No. Maybe. Better be prepared to give that Nobel Peace Prize back.

The Pied Piper of the Potomac is blowing a patriotic tune, dancing figure eights up and down the MC Escher staircase that is Capitol Hill. Deadly determined to do the right thing; if only he knew what it was.

The intelligence is solid, but we can't put our sources at risk divulging it. We know what we need to know, but don't know everything. A red line in the sand has been crossed. Then again, sand is a lousy conductor of paint. Don't want to go to war but can't be seen as backing down. Must take military action to advance the cause of peace.

Made his decision but seeking Congressional approval. Doesn't need it. Wants it. Might use it. Then again, maybe not. Could very well follow their advice or just start bombing tomorrow. Or not. If Joe Biden agrees. Which he will. Probably.

Meanwhile, Republicans are torn between their innate hatred of Obama and eternal love of bombing the crap out of the Middle East. This is an important vote, but not enough to encourage anyone to come back from recess early. Boehner and Cantor approve a limited punitive strike, but other Republicans aren't obligated to follow their lead. Their smile says yes. But their eyes say no.

Internationally, the president prefers cooperation but is willing to go it alone. The Arab League is fine with it, but can't give permission. England is not in on this with us, but we might want to call back later. Obama has to punish Bashar Al Assad but doesn't trust the rebels as far as he could throw Portugal. Worried about rattling sabers but can't afford to look like a wuss. If he wants to hang with Putin.

And finally, what America really needs to understand; this is all about Syria crossing a line. Then again, it's mostly about Iran. And Hezbollah. Not to mention Russian and Chinese entanglements. And don't forget Israel. Or Saudi Arabia. Does the term Afghanistan ring a bell? Qatar? And just on a side note, does Qatar call their national airline -- Air Qatar? They should. Syriously.
(c) 2013 Will Durst's, the recipient of 7 consecutive nominations for Stand Up of the Year, Will Durst's new one-man show "BoomerAging: From LSD to OMG" is presented every Tuesday, at the Marsh, San Francisco. Go to... for more info. And check out the trailer for the new documentary "3 Still Standing."

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