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In This Edition

Tom Engelhardt is, "Living In 'The Greatest Nation on Earth.'"

Uri Avnery watches, "The March Of Folly."

Glen Ford with, "Debating Dr. Dyson: Facts vs. The 'Wall Of Words.'"

Paul Craig Roberts with an absolute must read, "The 11th Anniversary Of 9/11."

Jim Hightower asks, "Shouldn't We Fix Our Nation's Leaky Roof?"

Robert Shetterly tells the story of, "Elizabeth Mumbet Freeman, Rule Of Law, And The End Of Slavery."

James Donahue is, "Fixing The Woes Of Our Nation."

David Swanson introduces, "The Environmental Antiwar Movement."

Ted Rall explores, "The Rebranding Of The President, 2012."

Vincent L. Guarisco wonders, "Are We Entering A New Era Of Human Consciousness?"

Paul Krugman watches the Republicans, "Obstruct And Exploit."

Sam Harris faces, "Life Without Free Will."

Robert Reich finds, "Moody's In A Mood."

Maryland House member Emmert C. Burns Jr. wins the coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

John Nichols reports, "RNC Chair Priebus' Posturing Crosses Last Line Of Political Propriety."

Robert Fisk reminds us, "The Provocateurs Know Politics And Religion Don't Mix."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion says, "Obama: 'Help Us Destroy Jesus And Start A New Age Of Liberal Darkness'" but first Uncle Ernie exclaims, "Barry Grows A Pair, Imagine That!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Nate Beeler, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Married To The Sea.Com, Mark Cummins, Agosto Martes, The Onion, Reuters, 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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Barry Grows A Pair, Imagine That!
By Ernest Stewart

"If Iran knows that there is no 'deadline', what will it do? Exactly what it's doing. It's continuing, without any interference, towards obtaining a nuclear weapons capability and from there, nuclear bombs. So far, we can say with certainty that diplomacy and sanctions haven't worked. The sanctions have hurt the Iranian economy, but they haven't stopped the Iranian nuclear program. That's a fact. And the fact is that every day that passes, Iran gets closer and closer to nuclear bombs." ~~~ Benjamin Netanyahu

"We don't develop foreign policy to be popular around the world." ~~~ Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Braid

"I find it inconceivable that one of your players, Mr. Brendon Ayanbadejo, would publicly endorse Same-Sex marriage, specifically as a Ravens football player. Many of my constituents and your football supporters are appalled and aghast that a member of the Ravens Football Team would step into this controversial divide, and try to sway public opinion one way or another." ~~~ Emmert C. Burns Jr. ~ Maryland House member

Keep pushin, keep pushin, keep pushin, keep pushin on
Keep pushin, keep pushin, you know you have got to be so strong
Keep pushin, keep pushin, well even if you think your strength is gone
Keep pushin on
Keep Pushin' ~~~ REO Speedwagon

Could it possibly be that Barry has finally grown a pair? Stranger things have happened for sure, but not as of late. It seems Bibi Netanyahu had planned to visit Barry later this month, uninvited, and Barry said no. Am I hallucinating or what? Is this my free acid trip that I've been waiting 40 years for? A sitting US president said no to his puppet master; but the White House announced just that.

In a highly unusual rebuff to our close ally, the White House said on Tuesday that President Barack Obama would not meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a U.S. visit later this month, as tensions escalated over how to deal with Iran's nuclear program.

The apparent snub, coupled with Netanyahu's sharpened demands for a tougher U.S. line against Iran, threatened to plunge U.S.-Israeli relations into crisis and add pressure on Obama in the final stretch of a tight presidential election race.

Bibi, who is of the opinion that he controls Washington, and until now, he might have been right; but Barry has no intention of backing Bibi in an attack on Iran -- at least not until after the election. Of course, Barry knows as soon as Israel attacks, not only will Iran launch everything they have at Israel, but it will certainly take out the Gulf oil production, not to mention closing the Straits of Hormuz, which would certainly send gas prices to $10 and beyond, playing havoc with Barry's hopes for a second term, and probably starting WWIII.

Word that the two men would not meet came on the same day that Netanyahu said the United States "had forfeited its moral right to stop Israel from taking action against Iran's nuclear program" because it had "refused to be firm with Tehran itself."

Which is, of course, pure bullshit -- Bibi isn't going anywhere without Barry's backing -- the cost to Israel, even with Barry's backing would be disastrous; and without Barry, all they'll accomplish will be to bring down the wrath of the world on themselves, and, who knows, a few Russian or Chinese H-Bombs.

Barry's had enough of Bibi's lectures, and Israel is treading on very thin ice. The people of Israel want no part of Bibi's delusions of grander, just as the people of America want no more wars, and any attack on Iran will open a war like no war since WWII; and if Israel stumbles around and kills some Chinese or Russians, that will open up a whole new can of worms!

In Other News

Oh, them hosers! Just when you thought no one could be as dumb as American politicians, along comes Canada's John Baird. Baird, the Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister, is as dumb as a post, and would fit right in, and feel right at home at any Tea Bagger Bund Rally! Americans generally feel Canada is where it's at; but, if anything, they are dumber than us, if you can imagine that, as they certainly know better, and yet, fall for the same old song and dance that we do, electing governments that are a couple of light years to the right of Darth Vader.

The bozo who pulled Canada out of the Kyoto agreement clinging to the junk-science of anthropic global warming is at it again, pulling the Canadian embassy out of Iran, stating that Iran is "a threat to global security." Methinks he has Iran and Israel confused? After the laughter at that statement died down, John changed his tune and said he broke off diplomatic relations with Iran because of "Iran's hostility toward Israel." Which again brought howls of laughter, because, again, he had it ass-backwards. (A note to remember, folks, is that the worst thing you can do to a politician is to laugh at them.)

Of course, this wasn't John's idea; he has so few of them; it was just Barry pulling Canada's puppet strings and making John dance. Barry likes to pull those puppet strings as it's usually the other way around, with Israel and the corpo-rats pulling Barry's strings and making him dance; so, anytime he gets the chance to become the puppet master, he takes it -- no matter how bad it makes us look. You may recall his threats via his puppets in Britain to invade Ecuador's embassy, when Barry's plans to shut up another whistleblower ended when Sweden couldn't grab Assange and send him off for us to torture after Ecuador granted Assange asylum.

And since Iran hosted the 120 nation non-alined summit, which both Israel and America loudly protested, including threatening UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon if he dared attend, which he did, and, no doubt flipped Washington and Tel Aviv the bird when he did! Pity is Canada had such promise (with the exception of how they treat baby seals and their native population) to be a world leader for good, and now with their polluting oil fields and all that Nazi rhetoric flowing daily from Ottawa, they've become America junior. And that's an incredibly sad thing!

And Finally

By now you've probably heard about Maryland House member Emmett C Burns Jr. and his attempt to get Brendon Ayanbadejo censored by his Raven's football team for daring to speak up for equal rights for all Americans. This really pissed off Emmett; and he tried to take Brendon's free speech rights away!

So you know what I did, right? I sent Emmett this note!

Hey Emmett,

Boy, did you ever fuck up, huh? Methinks your bigotry and treason is showing. I'm guessing you've never read the Bill of Rights?

The First Amendment states:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

It's that, "or abridging the freedom of speech" that you need to study, Emmett!

You said, "I am requesting that you take the necessary action, as a National Football League Owner, to inhibit such expressions from your employees and that he be ordered to cease and desist such injurious actions. I know of no other NFL player who has done what Mr. Ayanbadejo is doing."

If that's the case, then you should leave the 18th century, and join us in the 21st, where most all of the NFL and their fans back Brendon with only the bigots and rednecks supporting you. What other groups do you see that shouldn't be afforded equal rights? I'm sure my many readers would like to know, Con-gressman?

As Brendon said back in 2009: "Maybe I am a man ahead of my time. However, looking at the former restrictions on human rights in our country, starting with slavery, women not being able to vote, blacks being counted as two-thirds of a human, segregation, no gays in the military (to list a few) all have gone by the wayside. But now here in 2009, same-sex marriages are prohibited. I think we will look back in 10, 20, 30 years and be amazed that gays and lesbians did not have the same rights as every one else. How did this ever happen in the land of the free and the home of the brave? Are we really free?"

Your request to have Brendon censored is an act of treason, not just another free speech issue. You can say to the world in general that you disagree; but to call for his censor needs to be addressed by a court! As I'm sure you are figuring out, America won't stand for ignorant hatred and bigotry. If there aren't equal rights for gay folks, why should there be equal rights for black folks? One law for everyone, or no laws at all! If they can take their rights, they can take your rights, as well. United we stand, divided we fall!

But cheer up, Emmett; you've just won this week's "Vidkun Quisling Award," our weekly award for the biggest traitor in the country! You beat out the likes of Paul Ryan and Hank Williams Jr. for this week's award. I bet your mama is proud, huh?

Ernest Stewart
Managing editor
Issues & Alibis Magazine

As always, if I get a reply, I'll share it with you!

If you'd like to send Emmett a note or give him a call:
Or call: (410) 841-3352, (301) 858-3352,
Or call toll free, 1-800-492-7122, ext. 3352

Tell him Uncle Ernie sent you!

Keepin' On

Rumor has it that's there's some money in the pipeline; but the last time I checked the kitty, it was empty. And time is fast running out to keep this going for another year. If Barry goes down in flames, I'm sure that the money will pick up, and we'll be solvent again. I'm hoping we'll still be here to take advantage of that?

Whether it's President Obama or Romney, we're still in deep do-do; whether you believe it or not, we're screwed if we re-elect the war criminal or the thief! If you'd like to compare time-lines for a better understanding, think Nazi Germany, circa 1937. While it hasn't hit the fan yet, that's just around the corner, and a whole lot sooner then most imagine. Wouldn't it be handy to have a canary in the mine, giving you a forecast of things to come before it's too late? I know I'd want one!

If you think that's a good idea, who ya gonna call? There are many pretend-liberal sites on the Internet; but, when push comes to shove, they're centralist at best, still drinking the MSM kool-aid; and that could very well prove fatal, not only to them, but to you, too. You know us, we tell you the truth -- the important things you really need to know, and let the chips fall where they may. If knowing what the truth actually is, so that you can deal with it, is important to you and the ones you love, then send in what you can, whenever you can; and we'll keep on sending it out to you! Just go here and follow the directions!


01-09-1919 ~ 09-07-2012
Thanks for the laughs and the music!

05-09-1935 ~ 09-10-2012
Thanks for the films!


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


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

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


Living In 'The Greatest Nation on Earth'
By Tom Engelhardt

I hope you know that, on the 11th anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001, you live in a country so exceptional it's blessed by God; that, in fact, it's -- no point in pulling punches -- "the greatest nation on earth." If you don't believe me, just listen to President Obama, who used the last words of his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention to say exactly that. And depending on your political druthers, you don't have to believe him either. After all, the stages of the Republican and Democratic conventions were filled with politicos insisting on the same thing.

At the Republican convention, Mitt Romney, speaking in his acceptance speech of Neil Armstrong's first footfall on the moon, said: "Like all Americans we went to bed that night knowing we lived in the greatest country in the history of the world." Chris Christie in his keynote speech drove home this point: "Standing strong for freedom will make the next century as great an American century as the last one." Michelle Obama praising her husband as a great dad wasn't going to miss an opportunity to say: "Every day [the people I meet] remind me how blessed we are to live in the greatest nation on earth"; and Condoleezza Rice, the former national security adviser and secretary of state (she of double-hulled oil tanker fame) gave the Republicans a primer on foreign policy for the Romney era, and this was her version of it: "Because it just has to be -- that the most compassionate and freest country on the face of the earth -- will continue to be the most powerful!"

And that's just to name a few among a bevy of American exceptionalists from whom you certainly wouldn't want to exclude Vice President Joe Biden. After all, leaving Mongol horsemen, Apache warriors, Roman legionnaires, Napoleon's Army, and every other war-fighter twitching in the dust, he claimed President Obama was well aware that our special forces are "the finest warriors the world has ever known."

Think of all this as a kind of exceptional post-9/11 fever. The more ordinary Americans worry about their country being on the "wrong track" or "in decline," the more loudly, emphatically, aggressively (and yet defensively) politicians seem to insist, against all evidence, that we are and always will be (unless my opponent gets into office) the greatest, finest, freest etc. around.

By the way, tell that to Peter Van Buren or John Kiriakou. Both were government officials who told the truth about bad things happening inside the government of the greatest country the universe has ever seen. One wrote the book "We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People" about just what a laughable mess the State Department's "reconstruction of Iraq" turned out to be and, for doing that with remarkable honesty and wit, he is being forced into early retirement by the bureaucrats of the greatest State Department in the history of the world. The other, a CIA agent, told reporters the truth about some of the practices of the greatest spy agency in the history of the galaxy, including acts of torture by operatives in his own agency. As Van Buren notes in his latest post, "The Persecution of John Kiriakou," as a result he's going to celebrate the 9/11 anniversary with a court date the following day.

These are indications of the real state of affairs in this country 11 years after they attacked us because they "hated our freedoms." Now, on September 11, 2012, the national security complex is, as Van Buren indicates, beyond accountability for any crimes it may commit. It exists in a post-legal America not available to 99% of us.

As for our freedoms, a lack of the slightest urge to prosecute anyone who committed a crime on Washington time means that our governmental officials now have extraordinary new freedoms -- more license than 007 ever did -- to kidnap, torture, abuse, murder, surveil, and assassinate (including American citizens). That's a record to ponder as another September 11th rolls around and, living in the greatest nation on earth, you ask yourself: Who really won, them or us?
(c) 2012 Tom Engelhardt is co-founder of the American Empire Project. He is the author of The End of Victory Culture: a History of the Cold War and Beyond, as well as of a novel, The Last Days of Publishing. His most recent book is The American Way of War: How Bush's Wars Became Obama's (Haymarket Books).

The March Of Folly
By Uri Avnery

NOTHING COULD be more scary than the thought that this duo - Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak - is in a position to start a war, the dimensions and outcome of which are incalculable.

It's scary not only because of their ideological fixations and mental outlook, but also because of the level of their intelligence.

The last month gave us a small sample. By itself it was but a passing episode. But as an illustration of their decision-making abilities, it was frightening enough.

THE ROUTINE conference of the Movement of Non-Aligned Nations was to take place in Tehran. 120 states promised to attend, many of them represented by their presidents or prime ministers.

This was bad news for the Israeli government, which has devoted much of its energies during the last three years to the strenuous effort to isolate Iran - while Iran was devoted to a no less strenuous effort to isolate Israel.

If the location of the conference was not bad enough, the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, announced that he would attend, too. And as if this was still not bad enough, the new president of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi, also promised to come.

Netanyahu was faced with a problem: how to react?

IF A wise expert had been consulted, he might have asked: why react at all?

The Non-Aligned Movement is an empty shell. It was created [or "founded"] 51 years ago, at the height of the Cold War, by Nehru of India, Tito of Yugoslavia, Sukarno of Indonesia and Abd-al-Nasser of Egypt. 120 nations joined. They wanted to steer a course between the American and the Soviet blocs.

Since then, circumstances have changed completely. The Soviets have disappeared, and the US is also not what it was. Tito, Nehru, Nasser and Sukarno are all dead. The Non-Aligned have no real function anymore. But it is much easier to set up an international organization than to disband it. Its secretariat provides jobs, its conferences provide photo opportunities, world leaders like to travel and schmooze.

If Netanyahu had kept quiet, chances are that the world media would have ignored the non-event altogether. CNN and Aljazeera might have devoted a full three minutes to it, out of courtesy, and that would have been that.

But for Netanyahu, keeping quiet is not an option. So he did something exceedingly foolish: he told Ban Ki-moon not to go to Tehran. More precisely: he ordered him not to go.

The aforementioned wise expert - if he existed - would have told Netanyahu: Don't! The Non-aligned make up more than 60% of the UN membership. Ban wants to be re-elected in due course, and he is not going to insult 120 voters, much as you wouldn't want to insult 80 members of the Knesset. His predecessors have attended all former conferences. He cannot refuse now - especially not after you publicly ordered him around.

Then there was Morsi. What to do about him?

If another wise expert, this time on Egypt, had been asked, he would have given much the same advice: let it be.

Egypt wants to resume its role as the leader of the Arab world and as an actor on the international stage. The new president, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, certainly would not want to be seen giving in to Israeli pressure.

So, as the Hebrew saying goes, better to swallow a frog - even two frogs - then do something foolish.

BUT NETANYAHU couldn't possibly follow such advice. It's would be contrary to his nature. So he and his assistants proclaimed loudly - very loudly - that the 120 attending countries are supporting Iran's effort to annihilate Israel, and that Ban and Morsi are promoting a Second Holocaust.

Instead of isolating Iran, Netanyahu helped Iran to isolate Israel.

The more so as both Ban and Morsi used the Tehran stage to castigate the Iranian leadership and its Syrian allies. Ban condemned Ahmadinejad's denial of the holocaust as well as his proclaimed hopes for the disappearance of the "Zionist entity." Morsi went even further and castigated the murderous Syrian regime, Iran's main ally.

(This speech was broadcast live on Iranian television. The translator evoked general admiration for his presence of mind. Whenever Morsi said in Arabic "Syria," the translator said in Farsi "Bahrain".)

THIS WHOLE episode is important only insofar as it illustrates the incredible folly of Netanyahu and his close advisers (all of them handpicked by his wife, Sarah, easily the most unpopular person in the country). They seem to be cut off from the real world and to live in an imagined world of their own.

In this imaginary world, Israel is the center of the universe, and Netanyahu can give orders to the leaders of the nations, from Barack Obama and Angela Merkel to Mohamed Morsi and Ban Ki-moon.

Well, we are not the center of the world. We have a lot of influence, owing in part to our history. We are a regional power, much beyond our actual size. But to be really effective, we need allies, moral standing and the support of international public opinion, just like everybody else. Without this, Netanyahu's pet project, to secure for himself a place in the history books by attacking Iran, cannot be carried out.

I know that many eyebrows were raised when I categorically stated that neither Israel nor the US would attack Iran. It seemed that I was risking my reputation - such as it is - while Netanyahu and Barak were preparing for the inevitable bombing run. When talk about the impending attack reached a crescendo, my few well-wishers were sincerely worried.

However, during the last few days, there has been an almost imperceptible change of tone here. Netanyahu declared that the "family of nations" must lay down a "red line" and timetable for stopping Iran's nuclear arms effort.

Translated into simple Hebrew: there will be no Israeli attack, unless approved by the US. Such approval is impossible before the coming US elections. It is highly unlikely afterwards, too, for the reasons I tried to set out. Geographical, military, political and economic circumstances make it impossible. Diplomacy is called for. A compromise based on mutual interests and respect may be the best outcome.

An Israeli commentator has made the interesting suggestion that the President of the United States - after the elections - personally travel to Teheran and reach out to the Iranian people. That is no more improbable than Richard Nixon's historic visit to China. I would add the suggestion that while he is at it, the President come to Jerusalem, too, to seal the compromise.

A YEAR and a half ago, I also dared to suggest that the Arab Spring would be good for Israel.

At the time, it was a common assumption in Israel, and throughout the West, that Arab democracy would lead to a surge of political Islam, and that this would present a mortal danger to Israel. The first part of the assumption was right, the second was wrong.

The obscurantist demonization of Islam can be dangerously misleading. The painting of Islam as a murderous, inherently anti-Semitic religion, can lead to destructive consequences. Fortunately, the dire forecasts are being disproved daily.

In the homeland of the Arab Awakening, Tunisia, a moderate Islamic regime has taken root. In Libya, where commentators foresaw chaos and permanent civil war between the tribes, chances for stability are growing. So are the chances that Islamists will play a positive role in post-Assad Syria.

And most importantly - the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is behaving with exemplary caution. Six thousand years of Egyptian wisdom is having a moderating effect on the Brothers, including Brother Morsi. In the few weeks of his rule, he has already demonstrated a remarkable ability for compromising with divergent interests - with the secular liberals and the army command in his own country, with the US, even with Israel. He is now engaged in an effort to settle things with the Sinai Bedouins, addressing their (justified) grievances and calling a halt to military action.

It is, of course, much too early to tell, but I believe that a rejuvenated Arab world, in which moderate Islamic forces play an important role (as they do in Turkey), may form the environment for Israeli-Arab peace. If we desire peace.

For this to happen, we must break out of Netanyahu's imaginary world and return to the real world, the exciting, changing, challenging world of the 21st century.

Otherwise we will just add another sad chapter to the late Barbara Tuchman's brilliant book, The March of Folly.
(c) 2012 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Michael whips out his third arm to make a point!

Debating Dr. Dyson: Facts vs. The 'Wall Of Words'
By Glen Ford

It was great fun to confront Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, the Baptist preacher and Georgetown sociology professor who stood in for the so-called "progressive" wing of Obama boosters, last Friday on Amy Goodman's Democracy Now! We got the chance to make BAR's case, that the First Black President has shown himself to be, not the lesser of two evils on the corporate electoral menu in November, but the more effective evil.

Over the last four years, Obama has crafted a "veritable model" for austerity through his "deficit reduction commission, which came up with the figure of $4 trillion in cuts, which he now includes among his solemn promises to the American people." Obama put Social Security and other entitlements "on the table" for chopping two weeks before taking the oath of office, and has pursued an austerity partnership with the GOP ever since.

The Affordable Care Act, Obama's most heralded achievement (aside from killing bin-Laden), "was actually born in the Heritage Foundation-that's a right-wing Republican think tank-in the late '80s. Essentially the same bill was a Republican bill in 1993. Bob Dole ran on that bill in 1996. Mitt Romney picked up that bill for Massachusetts later on. And it then emerged as the Obama bill." Obama has locked the drug and insurance corporations so deeply into the federal health care money flow, it will be damn near impossible to dislodge them in the foreseeable future.

He has accomplished "a kind of merging of the banks and the state, with $16 trillion being infused into these banks...and the line between Wall Street and the federal government virtually disappearing." In other words, Obama is constructing the classic edifice of fascism, which is aptly described as the unbridled rule of the most reactionary, rapacious elements of finance capital.

Like no other president in history, and far out-Bushing George Bush, Obama has mortally wounded the Bill of Rights with his preventive detention legislation, signed into law while the nation celebrated last New Year's Eve. Under Bush, a president's authority to indefinitely detain American citizens without charge or trial was merely a theory of the resident chief executive. Obama made the theory into a law that all future presidents will have at their disposal - an alloyed evil worthy of all the superlatives of Hell.

Obama is the war president who simultaneously drone-bombed five countries - Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Pakistan - and who has boldly redefined war. After bombing Libya for seven months, Obama told Congress that there was no need to trigger the War Powers Act because nothing resembling a war had actually occurred. "It is not a war, as far as Obama's doctrine is concerned, unless Americans are killed. So you can slaughter as many people in the world as you want to, as long as Americans' casualties are kept at low or no."

The impulse toward so-called "humanitarian military intervention" now trumps centuries of international law, thanks to Obama. Terms like "national sovereignty" are no longer useful to the Chief Executive of Empire, who commits crimes against peace - the highest crime on the planet - as a matter of daily routine. Under the Nobel laureate president, "wherever the United States deems evil to occur, it will and should intervene militarily. That is anarchy. That is chaos. But actually, it's called imperialism."

These are just a few of the damnable highlights of Obama's presidential record, which should be the basis for evaluating his worthiness of support. Obamite "progressives" like Bill Fletcher and Carl Davidson insanely insist in the title to their August 9 Alternet article that "The 2012 Elections Have Little To Do With Obama's Record...Which is Why We Are Voting For Him." The fact is, on progressive terms, Obama's record is indefensible - which is why Dr. Dyson was compelled to repeatedly agree with my set of facts on Democracy Now!

I'm quite please with how the exchange with Dyson went. His style is to throw up a "Wall of Words," like an anti-aircraft gunner filling the sky with flak. It's impossible to engage all of the bits and pieces of subjects swirling around his ascending speech-column - and silly to try, since your job is to make your own case, not to dignify the other guy's every utterance. However, some of Dyson's remarks are worth a playback - if only to note how far to the right the political conversation in Dyson's circles has gone in the Age of Obama.

The current resident of the White House "is the most progressive president...since FDR," said Dyson. Funny, isn't it, that a president who is purported to be second only to Franklin Roosevelt in leftiness leads the assault on entitlements - the legacies of FDR, LBJ and other presidents and their Congresses - from within the Democratic Party? If Obama is a contender for Roosevelt's place in the pantheon, then so is his political twin, Bill Clinton. Had we only known that such giants walked among us! If only Barack and Bill had left a record in office that would testify to their greatness. (Sorry, Bill Fletcher, I forgot that the record doesn't matter.)

Obama has solved the pesky problem of predatory lending, said Dyson with a straight face. "The predatory lending that was going on with consumer practices have been addressed." The solution must have been sent to the wrong address, probably to a boarded up house. Candidate Obama, who opposed any moratorium on foreclosures as unraveling subprime schemes ravaged Black and brown neighborhoods in early 2008 (Hillary Clinton and John Edwards backed voluntary and mandatory moratoriums, respectively), became the president who, as the New York Times recently reported, refused to spend hundreds of billions in available federal funds on the housing crisis, while five million Americans lost their homes; whose Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner, declared he would not spend money on housing even if another $100 billion was available, and who also refused to spend most of $6.7 billion set aside by Congress for groups and regions hardest hit by the crisis; and whose administration bullied state attorneys general to settle the robo-signing "crime of the century" on favorable terms to the banks. Nothing about the U.S. housing crisis has been addressed in ways that are meaningful to the American people, especially Black and brown folks. Except in Dyson's world (in Fletcher's world, it doesn't matter).

There's this term called "liberal internationalism" that's floating around, which Dyson thinks describes Obama's foreign policy. Dyson is pleased with "the way in which the liberal international policy-yes, liberal, not progressive, not radical, but liberal internationalism-has reintroduced an openness to a Muslim world, despite the complicated and contradictory practices that exist there." I suspect that Dyson is still hearing Obama's smooth talk to Muslims in the summer of 2009. We get an update on Obama vs. Bush policy from Michael Hayden, Bush's former director of the CIA and the National Security Agency. Hayden told C-Span that Obama and Bush's policies are now quite alike - except Obama kills more people.

"We've seen all of these continuities between two very different human beings, President Bush and President Obama. We are at war, targeted killings have continued, in fact, if you look at the statistics, targeted killings have increased under Obama."

"We have made it so politically dangerous and so legally difficult that we don't capture anyone anymore. We take another option, we kill them. Now. I don't morally oppose that."

And neither does Dyson, we assume - as long as it's a "liberal" internationalism. Dyson, who was speaking from Charlotte and sounding like a delegate to the convention, said folks that don't "get in the game" of Democratic politics are "engaging in a form of rhetorical narcissism and ideological self-preoccupation that has no consequence on the material conditions of actually existing poor people."

Not trusting myself to respond to such insulting language, I leave the task to two BAR readers, both of them named John:

"Has Dyson forgotten the lessons of the abolitionist and civil rights movement (among others) which taught that through civil disobedience that policies can be influenced from without, regardless of elections? Otherwise, I can't explain his single-minded focus on presidential elections as a vehicle for change. Finally, to say that by not supporting Obama for the principled reasons that you have elucidated isn't doing anything constructive for the poor is the most disingenuous form of cheap shot I have ever witnessed. I was infuriated by this in particular because it is the poor who most desperately need change and for someone to stand up and fight for them. Obama has been missing in action on so many issues that have affected struggling people. So for him to say that by critiquing Obama in the way that you have is actually destructive to the poor is just disgusting."

The second John likes to deal in deep sarcasm. His letter was sent directly to Dyson:

"Like you, I believe it is time to move beyond the reflexive opposition of the black left to imperialist violence, lawlessness and racism, opposition that was formerly embodied by such figures such as W.E.B. Du Bois, Paul Robeson, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and the millions of sisters and brothers in the movements they led and represented. Some call your position grasping opportunism, or perhaps a modern form of Bookerism, but I prefer to name it pragmatism and realism.

"Once again, I would like to thank you for lending such a powerful and intelligent black voice to that cause."

Nuff said.
(c) 2012 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

The 11th Anniversary Of 9/11
By Paul Craig Roberts

The article below was written for the Journal of 9/11 Studies for the eleventh anniversary of September 11, 2001, the day that terminated accountable government and American liberty. It is posted here with the agreement of the editors.

In order to understand the improbability of the government's explanation of 9/11, it is not necessary to know anything about what force or forces brought down the three World Trade Center buildings, what hit the Pentagon or caused the explosion, the flying skills or lack thereof of the alleged hijackers, whether the airliner crashed in Pennsylvania or was shot down, whether cell phone calls made at the altitudes could be received, or any other debated aspect of the controversy.

You only have to know two things.

One is that according to the official story, a handful of Arabs, mainly Saudi Arabians, operating independently of any government and competent intelligence service, men without James Bond and V for Vendetta capabilities, outwitted not only the CIA, FBI, and National Security Agency, but all 16 US intelligence agencies, along with all security agencies of America's NATO allies and Israel's Mossad. Not only did the entire intelligence forces of the Western world fail, but on the morning of the attack the entire apparatus of the National Security State simultaneously failed. Airport security failed four times in one hour. NORAD failed. Air Traffic Control failed. The US Air Force failed. The National Security Council failed. Dick Cheney failed. Absolutely nothing worked. The world's only superpower was helpless at the humiliating mercy of a few undistinguished Arabs.

It is hard to image a more far-fetched story--except for the second thing you need to know: The humiliating failure of US National Security did not result in immediate demands from the President of the United States, from Congress, from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and from the media for an investigation of how such improbable total failure could have occurred. No one was held accountable for the greatest failure of national security in world history. Instead, the White House dragged its feet for a year resisting any investigation until the persistent demands from 9/11 families for accountability forced President George W. Bush to appoint a political commission, devoid of any experts, to hold a pretend investigation.

On 9/11 Doubts Were Immediate

On September 11, 2001, a neighbor telephoned and said, "turn on the TV." I assumed that a hurricane, possibly a bad one from the sound of the neighbor's voice, was headed our way, and turned on the TV to determine whether we needed to shutter the house and leave.

What I saw was black smoke from upper floors of one of the World Trade Center towers. It didn't seem to be much of a fire, and the reports were that the fire was under control. While I was trying to figure out why every TV network had its main news anchor covering an office fire, TV cameras showed an airplane hitting the other tower. It was then that I learned that both towers had been hit by airliners.

Cameras showed people standing at the hole in the side of the tower looking out. This didn't surprise me. The airliner was minute compared to the massive building. But what was going on? Two accidents, one on top of the other?

The towers-the three-fourths or four-fifths of the buildings beneath the plane strikes--were standing, apparently largely undamaged. There were no signs of fire except in the vicinity of where the airliners had hit. Suddenly, one of the towers blew up, disintegrated, and disappeared in fine dust. Before one could make any sense of this, the same thing happened to the second tower, and it too disappeared into fine dust.

The TV news anchors compared the disintegration of the towers to controlled demolition. There were numerous reports of explosions throughout the towers from the base or sub-basements to the top. (Once the government put out the story of terrorist attack, references to controlled demolition and explosions disappeared from the print and TV media.) This made sense to me. Someone had blown up the buildings. It was completely obvious that the towers had not fallen down from asymmetrical structural damage. They had blown up.

The images of the airliners hitting the towers and the towers blowing up were replayed time and again. Airliners hit the top portions of the towers, and not long afterward the towers blew up. I turned off the TV wondering how it was that cameras had been ready to catch such an unusual phenomenon as an airplane flying into a skyscraper.

I don't remember the time line, but it wasn't long before the story was in place that Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda gang had attacked the US. A passport had been found in the rubble. Another airliner had flown into the Pentagon, and a fourth airliner had crashed or been shot down. Four airliners had been hijacked, meaning airport security had failed four times on the same morning. Terrorists had successfully assaulted America.

When I heard these reports, I wondered. How could a tiny undamaged passport be found in the rubble of two skyscrapers, each more than 100 stories tall, when bodies, office furniture and computers could not be found? How could airport security fail so totally that four airliners could be hijacked within the same hour? How could authorities know so conclusively and almost immediately the names of the perpetrators who pulled off such a successful attack on the world's only superpower, when the authorities had no idea that such an attack was planned or even possible?

These questions disturbed me, because as a former member of the congressional staff and as a presidential appointee to high office, I had high level security clearances. In addition to my duties as Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury, I had FEMA responsibilities in the event of nuclear attack. There was a mountain hideaway to which I was supposed to report in the event of a nuclear attack and from which I was supposed to take over the US government in the event no higher official survived the attack.

The more the story of 9/11 was presented in the media, the more wondrous it became. It is not credible that not only the CIA and FBI failed to detect the plot, but also all 16 US intelligence agencies, including the National Security Agency, which spies on everyone on the planet, and the Defense Intelligence Agency, Israel's Mossad, and the intelligence agencies of Washington's NATO allies. There are simply too many watchmen and too much infiltration of terrorist groups for such a complex attack to be prepared undetected and carried out undeterred.

Washington's explanation of the attack implied a security failure too massive to be credible. Such a catastrophic failure of national security would mean that the US and Western Europe were never safe for one second during the Cold War, that the Soviet Union could have destroyed the entire West in one undetected fell swoop.

As a person whose colleagues at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington were former secretaries of state, former national security advisors, former CIA directors, former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, I was troubled by the story that a collection of individuals unsupported by a competent intelligence service had pulled off the events of 9/11.

As a person with high level government service, I knew that any such successful operation as 9/11 would have resulted in immediate demands from the White House, Congress, and the media for accountability. There would have been an investigation of how every aspect of US security could totally fail simultaneously in one morning. Such a catastrophic and embarrassing failure of the national security state would not be left unexamined.

NORAD failed. The US Air Force could not get jet fighters in the air. Air Traffic Control lost sight of the hijacked airliners. Yet, instead of launching an investigation, the White House resisted for one year the demands of the 9/11 families for an investigation. Neither the public, the media, nor Congress seemed to think an investigation was necessary. The focus was on revenge, which the Bush neocon regime said meant invading Afghanistan which was alleged to be sheltering the perpetrator, Osama bin Laden.

Normally, terrorists are proud of their success and announce their responsibility. It is a way to build a movement. Often a number of terrorist groups will compete in claiming credit for a successful operation. But Osama bin Laden in the last video that is certified by independent experts said that he had no responsibility for 9/11, that he had nothing against the American people, that his opposition was limited to the US government's colonial policies and control over Muslim governments.

It makes no sense that the "mastermind" of the most humiliating blow in world history ever to have been delivered against a superpower would not claim credit for his accomplishment. By September 11, 2001, Osama bin Laden knew that he was deathly ill. According to news reports he underwent kidney dialysis the following month. The most reliable reports that we have are that he died in December 2001. It is simply not credible that bin Laden denied responsibility because he feared Washington.

But Osama bin Laden was too useful a bogeyman, and Washington and the presstitute media kept him alive for another decade until Obama needed to kill the dead man in order to boost his sinking standings in the polls so that Democrats would not back a challenger for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Numerous bin Laden videos, every one pronounced a fake by experts, were released whenever it was convenient for Washington. No one in the Western media or in the US Congress or European or UK parliaments was sufficiently intelligent to recognize that a bin Laden video always showed up on cue when Washington needed it. "Why would the ‘mastermind' be so accommodating for Washington?" was the question that went through my mind every time one of the fake videos was released.

The 9/11 "investigation" that finally took place was a political one run from the White House. One member of the commission resigned, declaring the investigation to be a farce, and both co-chairman and the legal counsel of the 9/11 Commission distanced themselves from their report with statements that the 9/11 Commission was "set up to fail," that resources were withheld from the commission, that representatives of the US military lied to the commission and that the commission considered referring the false testimony for criminal prosecution.

One would think that these revelations would cause a sensation, but the news media, Congress, the White House, and the public were silent.

All of this bothered me a great deal. The US had invaded two Muslim countries based on unsubstantiated allegations linking the two countries to 9/11, which itself remained uninvestigated. The neoconservatives who staffed the George W. Bush regime were advocating more invasions of more Muslim countries. Paul O'Neill, President Bush's first Treasury Secretary, stated publicly that the Bush regime was planning to invade Iraq prior to 9/11. O'Neill said that no one at a National Security Council meeting even asked the question, why invade Iraq? "It was all about finding a way to do it."

The leaked top secret Downing Street Memo written by the head of British intelligence (MI6) confirms Paul O'Neill's testimony. The memo, known as the "smoking gun memo" whose authenticity has been confirmed, states that "President George W. Bush wants to remove Saddam Hussein, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." In other words, the US invasion of Iraq was based on nothing but a made up lie.

As an engineering student I had witnessed a controlled demolition. When films of the collapse of WTC building 7 emerged, it was obvious that building 7 had been brought down by controlled demolition. When physics instructor David Chandler measured the descent of the building and established that it took place at free fall acceleration, the case was closed. Buildings cannot enter free fall unless controlled demolition has removed all resistance to the collapsing floors.

If airliners brought down two skyscrapers, why was controlled demolition used to bring down a third building?

I assumed that structural architects, structural engineers, and physicists would blow the whistle on the obviously false story. If I could see that something was amiss, certainly more highly trained people would.

The first physicist to make an effective and compelling argument was Steven Jones at BYU. Jones said that explosives brought down the twin towers. He made a good case. For his efforts, he was pressured to resign his tenured position. I wondered whether the federal government had threatened BYU's research grants or whether patriotic trustees and alumni were the driving force behind Jones' expulsion. Regardless, the message was clear to other university based experts: "Shut up or we'll get you."

Steven Jones was vindicated when chemist Niels Harrit of the University of Copenhagen In Denmark reported unequivocally that the scientific team in which he participated found nano-thermite in the residue of the twin towers. This sensational finding was not mentioned in the US print and TV media to my knowledge.

Several years after 9/11 architect Richard Gage formed Architects and Engineers for 9/11 truth, an organization that has grown to include 1,700 experts. The plans of the towers have been studied. They were formidable structures. They were constructed to withstand airliner hits and fires. There is no credible explanation of their failure except intentional demolition.

I also found disturbing the gullibility of the public, media, and Congress in the unquestioning acceptance of the official stories of the shoe-bomber, shampoo and bottled water bomber, and underwear bomber plots to blow up airliners in transit. These schemes are farcical. How can we believe that al Qaeda, capable of pulling off the most fantastic terrorist attack in history and capable of devising improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that kill and maim US troops and destroy US military vehicles would rely on something that had to be lighted with a match? The shoe and underwear bombers would simply have pushed a button on their cell phones or laptops, and the liquid bomb would not have required extended time in a lavatory to be mixed (all to no effect).

None of this makes any sense. Moreover, experts disputed many of the government's claims, which were never backed by anything but the government's story line. There is no independent evidence that anything was involved other than firecracker powders.

The case of the underwear bomber is especially difficult to accept. According to witnesses, the underwear bomber was not allowed on the airliner, because he had no passport. So an official appears who walks him onto the airliner bound for Detroit on Christmas day. What kind of official has the authority to override established rules, and what did the official think would happen to the passenger when he presented himself to US Customs without a passport? Any official with the power to override standard operating practices would know that it was pointless to send a passenger to a country where his entry would be rejected.

The circumstantial evidence is that these were orchestrated events designed to keep fear alive, to create new intrusive powers for a new over-arching federal policy agency, to accustom US citizens to intrusive searches and a police force to conducting them, and to sell expensive porno-scanners and now more advanced devices to the Transportation Safety Administration. Apparently, this expensive collection of high-tech gadgetry is insufficient to protect us from terrorists, and in August 2012 the Department of Homeland Security put in an order for 750 million rounds of ammunition, enough to shoot every person in the US 2.5 times.

Naive and gullible Americans claim that if some part of the US government had been involved in 9/11, "someone would have talked by now." A comforting thought, perhaps, but nothing more. Consider, for example, the cover-up by the US government of the 1967 Israeli attack on the USS Liberty that killed or wounded most of the crew but failed to sink the ship. As the survivors have testified, they were ordered in a threatening way not to speak about the event. It was twelve years later before one of the USS Liberty's officers, James Ennes, told the story of the attack in his book, Assault on the Liberty. I continue to wonder how the professionals at the National Institute of Standards and Technology feel about being maneuvered by the federal government into the unscientific position NIST took concerning the destruction of the WTC towers.

What will be the outcome of the doubts about the official story raised by experts? I worry that most Americans are too mentally and emotionally weak to be able to come to grips with the truth. They are far more comfortable with the story that enemies attacked America successfully despite the massive national security state in place. The American public has proved itself to be so cowardly that it willingly, without a peep, sacrificed its civil liberty and the protections of law guaranteed by the Constitution in order to be "safe."

Congress is not about to expose itself for having squandered trillions of dollars on pointless wars based on an orchestrated "new Pearl Harbor." When the neoconservatives said that a "new Pearl Harbor" was a requirement for their wars for American/Israeli hegemony, they set the stage for the 21st century wars that Washington has launched. If Syria falls, there is only Iran, and then Washington stands in direct confrontation with Russia and China.

Unless Russia and China can be overthrown with "color revolutions," these two nuclear powers are unlikely to submit to Washington's hegemony. The world as we know it might be drawing to a close.

If enough Americans or even other peoples in the world had the intelligence to realize that massive steel structures do not disintegrate into fine dust because a flimsy airliner hits them and limited short-lived fires burn on a few floors, Washington would be faced with the suspicion it deserves.

If 9/11 was actually the result of the failure of the national security state to deter an attack, the government's refusal to conduct a real investigation is an even greater failure. It has fallen to concerned and qualified individuals to perform the investigative role abandoned by government. The presentations at the Toronto Hearings, along with the evaluations of the Panel, are now available, as is the documentary film, "Explosive Evidence--Experts Speak Out," provided by Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth.

The government's agents and apologists try to deflect attention from disturbing facts by redefining factual evidence revealed by experts as the product of "a conspiracy culture." If people despite their brainwashing and lack of scientific education are able to absorb the information made available to them, perhaps both the US Constitution and peace could be restored. Only informed people can restrain Washington and avert the crazed hegemonic US government from destroying the world in war.
(c) 2012 Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury and professor of economics in six universities. He is coauthor of "The Tyranny of Good Intentions," co-authored with Lawrence Stratton, a documented account of how Americans lost the protection of law, was published by Random House. Dr. Roberts' latest book is "Economies in Collapse: The Failure of Globalism," published in Europe, June, 2012. Seller information will be made available as soon as possible. He can be reached at:

Shouldn't We Fix Our Nation's Leaky Roof?

Congress' boneheaded right-wing leaders keep insisting that our growing national needs must be sacrificed to their god of budgetary-whacking wackiness. For a slap-your-forehead example of what their dogmatic purity is doing to America, consider this: The roof of our nation's Capitol is leaking. A lot.

Yes, the majestic dome - one of the most recognizable symbols of our people's democratic aspirations - has succumbed to the mingy, fiscal shortsightedness of Congress critters so obsessed with the price of public programs that they've lost all sight of value. Owners of even the most modest houses know that you must tend to roof leaks, lest the whole structure deteriorate, yet these stewards of the nation's house have failed Caretaking 101.

The Capitol dome has some 1,300 cracks and breaks, causing chunks of the exterior to break off and water seepage to endanger the treasured artworks on the interior of the rotunda. The architect of the Capitol warns bluntly: "The dome needs comprehensive rehabilitation," ominously adding that, "It's a public safety issue."

The cost? About $61 million to repair and restore the exterior. That's all? Come on - the right-wing's tax giveaways to the superrich cost us more than that every single day! Yet, while U.S. Senate appropriators okayed the dome repairs in August, the ideological wingnuts in the House said "uh-uh." No money is available, they claimed, America has to cut back, we can't afford to fix our nation's roof.

What a metaphor for their overall gross mismanagement and pusillanimous failure to meet America's most basic needs! No wonder that our roads, schools, water systems, parks, and other components of our essential public infrastructure are in dangerous decay - the nutballs in Congress won't even fix the roof over their own heads.
(c) 2012 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition.

Elizabeth "Mumbet" Freeman.

Elizabeth Mumbet Freeman, Rule Of Law, And The End Of Slavery
By Robert Shetterly

The Americans Who Tell the Truth project has become all about education. Primarily, though, the education has been my own. Over the past ten years, I have learned a great deal about American history, why our history is the way it is, and some of the people who have guided its positive evolution. Many of the people I've painted were totally unknown to me before I began the portrait series. And many of these were urged on me by people who wrote with compelling stories of people they thought should be included in the series. I'd like to share the most recent recommendation with you. Elizabeth "Mumbet" Freeman.

A few days ago I received this email:

Hello Mr. Shetterly,

I clean the restrooms on 3rd shift at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. I was moved to McGuffey Hall a few weeks ago and have been fascinated by your paintings because they look like they could come right off of the canvas and talk to me. Every night when I am walking that hallway I think of one thing...Someone is missing...It's Elizabeth "Mumbet" Freeman. She would be a worthy subject for your series, in my opinion with the highlighted quote of course! My husband says they should erect a monument of her right next to Thomas Jefferson (America's revered slave owner.) I think it would be wonderful to see her portrait on that wall some day! What do you think? Here's more of her quote:

"Well, Mr. Sedgwick, I was listening to the reading of the new law. I heard it said that all men are created equal and that every man has a right to freedom.

Now I ain't no dumb critter! Won't the law give me my freedom? Isn't that what the law says, Mr. Sedgwick?" ~~~ Dolores Volk

I immediately wrote back to Dolores and asked for more information about "Mumbet," but before I even got her answer, I began my own research. Elizabeth - "Bett" - was born in upstate New York in 1742-45 years before Sojourner Truth-and, like Sojourner, into slavery on a Dutch farm.

Her master, Pieter Hogeboom, "gave" Bett to his daughter Hannah when she married John Ashley of Sheffield, Massachusetts. There Bett remained a slave until 1780, when, as the Revolutionary War ended, the Declaration of Independence was being read aloud to the public in communities throughout the colonies.

Bett was present at the reading in Sheffield, and, very moved by the language about unalienable rights and equality, she went right away to a young lawyer, Theodore Sedgwick, and said what is quoted above in Dolores' email. Mr. Sedgwick, impressed with Elizabeth and opposed to slavery himself, decided to take her case which became Brom and Bett vs Ashley. When the case was heard in August 1781 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, the jury ruled in Bett's favor. On August 22, 1781, she was granted not only her freedom but also compensation for lost wages (thirty shillings) for all the years she worked as a slave with no pay. Shortly afterwards, her case was cited in the State Supreme Court when it stuck down the legality of slavery in Massachusetts.

Bett then went to work - with pay - in her lawyer's house and helped to raise his children. One child, Catherine Maria Sedgwick, loved and admired Bett and, after Bett's death in 1829, wrote her biography, which was published as Slavery in Massachusetts in Bentley's Miscellany.

I recommend reading Catherine Sedgwick's account of Bett's life. It's full of surprising, vivid anecdotes and wonderful quotations. For instance, Ms. Sedgwick writes, "I have heard her [Bett] say with an emphatic shake of the head peculiar to her, 'Any time, any time while I was a slave, if one minute's freedom had been offered to me, and I had been told I must die at the end of that minute, I would have taken it - just to stand one minute on God's airth a free woman - I would.'"

Ms. Segdwick also tells the story of Bett standing between herself and her nasty mistress, Hannah Ashley, who was attempting to strike Bett's sister Lizzy with a red hot shovel pulled from a cooking fire. Lizzy had scraped some dough for herself from the oak bowl that was used to knead the family bread. Hannah accused Lizzy of stealing. Bett took the blow on her arm. Cut to the bone and burned, she did not cover it for the weeks that it took to heal, and was left with a terrible scar. Bett said, "Madam never again laid her hand on Lizzy. I had a bad arm all winter, but Madam had the worst of it. I never covered the wound, and when people said to me, before Madam, 'Betty, what ails your arm?' I only answered - ask missis!"

There are several points here that I would like to emphasize. The first is that I was told about Ms. Freeman (the name she took upon the success of her case) not by a student at Miami University and not by a professor, but by a woman, Dolores Volk, who cleans bathrooms -- the kind of work that Bett did. Dolores' letter gets at the core of what this project is about. It's not meant solely for our educational institutions: Its intention is to invite everyone to be involved, to own it, for it will take all of us citizens to wrest control of our government from corporate and military power so that our destiny can serve the common good.

Secondly, having just passed the 231st anniversary of the court case that ended Bett's slavery in Massachusetts, why is this story not more commonly known? We need the stories of Barbara Johns, Claudette Colvin, Samantha Smith, Emma Tenayuca, LeAlan Jones, Bett Freeman, and so many other courageous, inspiring people who insisted that this country live up to its ideals. They embolden and empower us to do today's work of justice and equality to make the world a better place.

Finally, consider how this change happened. An illiterate slave filed a case in court by appealing to the newly written ideals of the Declaration of Independence. Ironically, seventy-six years later, in 1857, the Supreme Court's Dred Scott Decision stripped black citizens of their legal rights, including the right to challenge their status as property. The Supreme Court affirmed that property rights trump unalienable rights. Bett's suit would have been illegal following that decision.

In the South, Bett could not have won her case, much less survived trying to file it. But the case could be brought to court and argued in the legal and political atmosphere of revolutionary Massachusetts where words were considered to have meaning, and meaning to have consequence. As Bett realized, "all men are endowed" and "unalienable rights" applied as equally to her as to her white lawyer, or they meant nothing.

Elizabeth Freeman's story illustrates the great bounty of living in a system whose legal concern is justice: a marginalized person -- black, female, indigent, enslaved, illiterate -- appeals to the law to grant her remedy from her complaint of injustice. If the democratic rule of law does not allow this, it isn't democracy. It is that sense of justice which can offer security to all of us. It is that sense of justice, far too rare in our country today, which makes the rule of law a blessing rather than a tragedy of cynical hypocrisy.
(c) 2012 Robert Shetterly is a writer and artist who lives in Brooksville, Maine. He is the author of Americans Who Tell the Truth. See his website.

Fixing The Woes Of Our Nation

By James Donahue

It seems that we are reading and hearing more and more scare stories about the out-of-control national debt and the probability of the "too-big-to-fail" banks going into bankruptcy and bringing on another world depression.

While it may happen, it will be done by design, and by making a majority of people caught up in the matrix of materialism and debt believe the great lie. In truth the debt, while now measured in the trillions, got that way because of two actions by our banks, the federal government and the military industrial complex. Former President George W. Bush used up a national surplus of money left to him by outgoing President Bill Clinton, then took us into three wars. The first was his "War on Terror," and then he sent American troops into Afghanistan and Iraq. At the same time, Mr. Bush and the Congress approved the infamous "Bush tax cuts" for all Americans, including the wealthy. Not only did our government slash its source of revenue, it went into a massive war spending spree unlike anything our nation has ever seen in history.

Fixing this mess would be simple if we could briefly put a benevolent dictator into office with the power to override Congress, the Supreme Court and all of the other power figures hiding behind the velvet drapes behind the king's throne.

To get us quickly out of debt we need to stop all of these ridiculous wars. And I mean all of them....including the Wars on Terror and Drugs. The next step would be to put the Obama tax proposal into effect so that people earning $250,000 a year or more return to the old tax system they had when Clinton was in office.

Other fixes might include a complete revamping of the tax code to create a uniform across-the-board income tax for everybody, without any allowed deductions. Also the legalization of marijuana would allow a shut-down of a lot of the nation's overcrowded and costly prisons, would give farmers a great new crop in hemp for the manufacture of quality paper, clothing and medical products, and provide a healthy new sales tax base to support local governments and school districts and bring them back to health.

Our dictator could also shut down the Federal Reserve and institute laws like the old Glass-Steagall Act to reinstate controls on the way our banking system operates. This would insure a more stable economy in the years to come.

Before turning government back over to the clowns again, our benevolent dictator might make some restorations to the Constitution, with a few fixed amendments that make it impossible for elected legislators to serve more than two terms, set strict limits on how much money candidates can spend on promotion before elections, make campaigns limited to only two months preceding an election, make it illegal for the media to ignore candidates from alternative parties that might compete for those public offices, and make it illegal for lobbyists to ever operate in and around the halls of state or federal governments. Another fix might limit the time federal judges are allowed to serve in office, and make the positions not only non-partisan, but open to public election.

Of course, there needs to be a national health plan that provides quality and affordable, if not free health care to everybody.

Instead of spending our wealth on more war, we should be rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, investing in high speed rail and massive solar, wind and other natural earth energy resources to replace the carbon fuels.

These are but a few things our elected Congressmen and Senators could do to fix our nation and put things back on track in a hurry. But to do these things, they must magically turn themselves into honest, benevolent citizens truly wishing to serve their constituents and not be persuaded to take the bribes of corporate moneychangers flickering through the halls of the capital buildings.

Unfortunately they all worship the same god.....which is money. By remaining on the same path we have been on for so long, however, it appears that we are in great danger of wrecking everything we once held dear.
(c) 2012 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles. He currently produces daily articles for this web site

The Environmental Antiwar Movement
By David Swanson

Events in South Korea are putting U.S. and international environmental groups into coalition with antiwar groups, and in rare opposition to one of the most environmentally destructive forces on earth: the military industrial complex.

Normally, this doesn't happen. Typically, civil liberties groups oppose the detention and torture and assassination that come with military spending, but not the spending and not the wars. Typically, anti-poverty and pro-education groups lament the supposed lack of funding, but avoid all mention of our dumping 57% of federal discretionary funds into war preparation and war. Typically, for environmental groups, our top consumer of oil, producer of superfund sites, and poisoner of the earth is off-limits. We oppose pollution, but not pollution in the cause of killing people more quickly.

Jeju Island, South Korea, is changing this. A coordinated international campaign is trying to save this beautiful island from destruction. The World Conservation Congress 2012 is being held on Jeju Island -- while just four miles away, in the island's Gangjeong Village, construction is beginning on a massive new naval base to be used by the United States. Dredging of the seabed and coral has already begun. 94% of the residents of Gangjeong Village have voted against construction of the base.

The extraordinary biological diversity, unique volcanic topography, and the culture of Jeju Island attract many tourists. The Sea of Gangjeong is a national cultural treasure adjacent to a UNESCO biosphere reserve. Only 114 Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins remain in Korea, and they live here -- one of many species threatened by base construction. The damage will be devastating.

If the base is constructed, it will host nuclear-powered submarines and aircraft carriers, as well as Aegis missile-carrying warships. U.S. taxpayers will pay the cost of the Obama administration "pivot" into the Asia-Pacific, while Jeju Islanders pay with a damaged home. Ultimately, the cost to the earth and the risk of war will belong to all of us.

Villagers have been arrested during nonviolent protests. Police and construction workers have assaulted elderly members of the community, who represent a large portion of the activists. Raising our voices in solidarity is the least we can do. But Samsung, the primary contractor for base construction, is sponsoring the World Conservation Congress (WCC), which opened pretending all was well. That pretense is crumbling.

From afar, we are flooding the WCC and Samsung with emails. You can help. Let them know we aren't fooled. Demand that Samsung halt construction and the WCC oppose the base.

On location, activists have made every single participant in the World Conservation Congress aware of the destruction underway on the island where the WCC is meeting. And a resolution is being introduced by 34 organizations from around the world calling for a halt to the military base construction.

Please take the time to read this resolution, and check out the list of signers. This is how the military industrial complex will eventually do itself in.

World Appeal to Protect the People, Nature, Culture and Heritage of Gangjeong Village

UNDERSTANDING that Gangjeong Village, also known as the Village of Water, on the island of Jeju, also known as Peace Island, is a coastal area home to thousands of species of plants and animals, lava rock freshwater tide pools ("Gureombi"), endangered soft coral reefs, freshwater springs, sacred natural sites, historic burial grounds, and nearly 2,000 indigenous villagers, including farmers, fishermen, and Haenyo women divers, that have lived sustainably with the surrounding marine and terrestrial environment for nearly 4000 years;

NOTING that Gangjeong Village is an Ecological Excellent Village (Ministry of Environment, ROK) of global, regional, national and local significance, sharing the island with a UNESCO designated Biosphere Reserve and Global Geological Park, and is in close proximity to three World Heritage Sites and numerous other protected areas;

NOTING that numerous endangered species live in and around Gangjeong Village, including the Boreal Digging Frog (Kaloula borealis) listed on IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species; the red-footed crab (Sesarma intermedium); the endemic Jeju fresh water shrimp (Caridina denticulate keunbaei); and the nearly extinct Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins;

NOTING the global uniqueness of the Jeju Soft Coral habitats, designated as Natural Monument 422 of Korea: the only location in the world known to have temperate octocoral species forming a flourishing ecosystem on a substrate of andesite, providing ecological balance to the Jeju marine environment and the development of the human culture of Gangjeong Village for thousands of years;

UNDERSCORING that of the 50 coral species found in the Soft Coral habitats near Gangjeong, 27 are indigenous species, and at least 16 are endangered species and protected according to national and international law, including Dendronephthya suensoni, D. putteri, Tubastraea coccinea, Myriopathes japonica, and M. lata;

THEREFORE CONCERNED of the Civilian-Military Complex Tour Beauty project, a 50-hectare naval installation, being constructed within and adjacent to Gangjeong Village, estimated to house more than 8,000 marines, up to 20 warships, several submarines, and cruise liners;

NOTING the referendum of Gangjeong Village on August 20, 2007, in which 725 villagers participated and 94% opposed the construction;

ACKNOWLEDGING that the construction of the military installation is directly and irreparably harming not only the biodiversity, but the culture, economy and general welfare of Gangjeong Village, one of the last living remnants of traditional Jeju culture;

NOTING the Absolute Preservation Act, Jeju Special Self-Governing Province (1991) and that Gangjeong Village was named an Absolute Preservation Area on October 27, 2004: a permanent designation to conserve the original characteristics of an environment from the surge in development, therefore prohibiting construction, the alteration of form and quality of land, and the reclamation of public water areas;

CONCERNED that this title was removed in 2010 to allow for the Naval installation, and that this step backwards in environmental protection violates the Principle of Non-Regression;

RECALLING the numerous IUCN Resolutions and Recommendations that note, recognize, promote and call for the appropriate implementation of conservation policies and practices that respect the human rights, roles, cultural diversity, and traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples in accordance with international agreements;

CONCERNED of reports that the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) for the naval construction was inaccurate and incomplete and may have violated well-known principles of international law concerning EIAs, transparency, public and indigenous participation, right to know, and free, prior and informed consent;

CONCERNED of the destruction of sacred natural sites in and near Gangjeong Village, noting that the protection of sacred natural sites is one of the oldest forms of culture based conservation (Res. 4.038 recognition and conservation of sacred natural sites in Protected Areas);

ACKNOWLEDGING that IUCN's Mission is "To influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable;" and that "equity cannot be achieved without the promotion, protection and guarantee of human rights.";

NOTING Resolution 3.022 Endorsement of the Earth Charter (Bangkok, 2004) that endorsed the Earth Charter as "the ethical guide for IUCN policy and programme," and that the military installation is contrary to every principle of the Earth Charter;

NOTING the U.N. World Charter for Nature (1982), and that the military installation is contrary to each of its five principles of conservation by which all human conduct affecting nature is to be guided and judged;

AND ALARMED by reports of political prisoners, deportations, and restrictions on freedom of assembly and speech, including the arrests of religious leaders, for speaking against the naval installation and for speaking in promotion of local, national, regional and world conservation and human rights protections;

NOTING Res. 2.37 Support for environmental defenders, "UNDERSTANDING that the participation of non-governmental organizations and individual advocates is essential to the fundamentals of civil society to assure the accountability of governments and multinational corporations; and AWARE that a nation's environment is only truly protected when concerned citizens are involved in the process;"

NOTING principles enshrined in the Draft International Covenant on Environment and Development such as those concerning military and hostile activities (Art. 36), culture and natural heritage (Art. 26), and the collective rights of indigenous peoples (Art. 15);

FURTHER ACKNOWLEDGING that militarization does not justify the destruction of a community, a culture, endangered species or fragile ecosystems;

AND UNDERSCORING that IUCN's aim is to promote a just world that values and conserves nature, and the organization sees itself as nature's representative and patrons of nature;

The IUCN World Conservation Congress at its 5th session in Jeju, Republic of Korea, 6-15 September 2012:

1. REAFFIRMS its commitment to the UN World Charter for Nature and the Earth Charter;

2. CALLS ON the Republic of Korea to:

(a) immediately stop the construction of the Civilian-Military Complex Tour Beauty;
(b) invite an independent body, to prepare a fully transparent scientific, cultural, and legal assessment of the biodiversity and cultural heritage of the area and make it available to the public; and
(c) fully restore the damaged areas.

Sponsor - Center for Humans and Nature


-Chicago Zoological Society (USA)
-International Council of Environmental Law (Germany)
-El Centro Ecuatoriano de Derecho Ambiental, CEDA (Ecuador)
-Sierra Club (USA)
-Fundacion Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (Argentina)
-Center for Sustainable Development CENESTA (Iran)
-Asociacion Preserve Planet (Costa Rica)
-The Christensen Fund (USA)
-Terra Lingua (Canada)
-Ecological Society of the Philippines (Philippines)
-Citizen's Institute Environmental Studies (Korea)
-Departamento de Ambiente, Paz y Seguridad, Universidad para la Paz (Costa Rica)
-Coastal Area Resource Development and Management Association (Bangladesh)
-Fundaçao Vitoria Amazônica (Brazil)
-Fundacion para el Desarrollo de Alternativas Comunitarias de Conservacion del Tropico, ALTROPICO Foundation (Ecuador)
-Fundacion Futuro Latinoamericano (Ecuador)
-EcoCiencia (Ecuador)
-Fundacion Habitat y Desarrollo de Argentina (Argentina)
-Instituto de Montana (Peru)
-Asociacion Peruana para la Conservacion de la Naturaleza, APECO (Peru)
-Coordinadora de Organizaciones Indígenas de la Cuenca Amazonica, COICA (Ecuador)
-Fundacion Biodiversidad (Argentina)
-Fundacao Vitoria Amazonica (Brazil)
-Fundacion Urundei (Brazil)
-Dipartimento Interateneo Territorio Politecnico e Universita di Torino (Italy)
-Programa Restauracion de Tortugas Marinas (Costa Rica)
-Corporacion Grupo Randi Randi (Ecuador)
-Living Oceans Society (Canada)
-Instituto de Derecho y Economía Ambiental (Paraguay)
-Korean Society of Restoration Ecology (Korea)
-Ramsar Network Japan (Japan)
-The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (Isreal)
-Chimbo Foundation (Netherlands)
-Endangered Wildlife Trust (South Africa)
(c) 2012 David Swanson is the author of "War Is A Lie."

The Rebranding Of The President, 2012
By Ted Rall

Why Is Obama Running on His Record?

"It's not clear what [President Obama] is passionate to do if he is elected for another four years," writes David Brooks, conservative columnist for The New York Times. "The Democratic convention is his best chance to offer an elevator speech, to define America's most pressing challenge and how he plans to address it."

Addressing the DNC Wednesday night, Bill Clinton came as close as any Democrat has this year to answering Brooks: "In Tampa, the Republican argument against the president's reelection was pretty simple: We left him a total mess, he hasn't finished cleaning it up yet, so fire him and put us back in. I like the argument for President Obama's reelection a lot better."

Nicely done-though this argument only works for voters stuck in the two-party trap. But the biggest piece is still MIA: Obama's domestic and foreign policy agenda for a second term.

Two principal arguments are being advanced in favor of Obama's reelection: first, that he "took out" Osama bin Laden; second, that we are "absolutely" better off economically than we were four years ago. These arguments, if they continue to be the Democrats' main talking points, will lead Obama to defeat this fall.

U.S. history shows that the candidate who presents the most optimistic vision of the future usually prevails. The future he sells doesn't have to be specific (Romney's 12 million new jobs, say). Ronald Reagan, who projected vague aw-shucks optimism reflected by a 100%-pabulum campaign slogan, "It's Morning in America," defeated Jimmy "Malaise" Carter and Walter "Let's Tell the Truth About Taxes" Mondale. (Never mind that Carter and Mondale were more honest, smarter and nicer.)

Obama followed the Reagan model in 2008: hope, change, charming smile, not a lot of specifics. And it worked. (It didn't hurt to run against McCain, the consummate "get off my lawn, you damn kids" grouch.) So why is Obama trading in a proven winner? Why is he running on his first-term record?

Obama's entourage has obviously talked themselves into believing that the president's record is better than it really is-certainly better than average voters think it is. Grade inflation is inevitable when you evaluate yourself. (In 2009, at the same time the Fed was greasing the banksters with $7.77 trillion of our money-without a dime devoted to a new WPA-style jobs program-he gave himself a B+.)

First, the extrajudicial assassination of bin Laden, an act of vengeance against a man in hiding who had been officially designated to pose no threat since at least 2006, makes some people queasy. Sure, many voters are happy-but getting even for crimes committed more than a decade ago still doesn't spell out an optimistic vision for the future.

Similarly, and perhaps more potently since jobs are the most important issue to Americans, claiming that we are better off than we were four years ago, either personally, or nationally, is a dangerous argument for this president to make. Four years ago marks the beginning of a financial crisis that continues today. GDP remains a low 1.7%. Credit remains so tight that it's still strangling spending.

Four million families lost their homes to foreclosure, millions more were evicted due to nonpayment of rent, and a net 8 million lost their jobs under Obama. Structural unemployment is rising. New jobs are few and pay little.

Most Americans-by a nearly two-to-one margin-feel worse off now than they did four years ago. Coupled with the media's ludicrous claim that the recovery began in mid-2009, Obama's "who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes" (or pocketbook) sales pitch is so insulting and reminiscent of George H.W. Bush's tone-deaf attitude during the 1992 recession that it can only prove counterproductive.

The historical lesson for Obama is 1936. Franklin Roosevelt is the only president in recent history to have won reelection with unemployment over 8%, as it is currently (it was 17%). Why? FDR's New Deal showed he was trying hard. And things were moving in the right direction (unemployment was 22% when he took office). Fairly or not, Obama can't beat Romney pointing to improvement statistics don't show and people don't feel.

Obama must articulate a new vision, relaunching and rebranding himself into something completely different-in other words, running as though the last three four years had never happened. Like this was his first term.

New image. New ideas. New policies. New campaign slogan.

Not only does Obama need to float big new ideas, he needs to convince voters that he can get them through a GOP Congress. Not an easy task-but there's no other way.

It isn't enough to simply say that Romney will make things worse. Lesser-evil arguments are secondary at best. As things stand now, with people angry and disappointed at government inaction on the economy, Romney's "Believe in America" meme-though stupid-is more potent than Obama's reliance on fear of a Ryan budget.
(c) 2012 Ted Rall is the author of the new books "Silk Road to Ruin: Is Central Asia the New Middle East?" and "The Anti-American Manifesto."

Are We Entering A New Era Of Human Consciousness?
Or Will We Remain In The Same Negative Paradigm? The Choice is Ours.
By Vincent L. Guarisco

I guess life really is a vast ocean filled to the brim with challenges, lessons and "opportunity" that each of us -- with our trusty moral and ethical compass in hand -- are forever child navigators trying to find safe passage through the many reefs laid before us.

I don't mean to stand on a soapbox or anything like that, and I do realize I am not "perfect" by any sense of the word -- for sure, I do make my share of mistakes (we all do) -- but, I can honestly say with full confidence, I always try to give it my best and learn from my experiences and move forward in a positive direction that not only enlightens myself, but inspires those around me. As a writer, an activist and a humanitarian at heart who's been widely published in the public domain, I fully understand the importance of being completely honest in what I share with others. Thus, I will always hold true to my beliefs. This includes reporting the unbridled truth no matter road that takes us on. My mother was such a rare gem. She used to tell me she had a special love for me because she knew in her heart that I am a loving and giving person. To me, this is the greatest compliment one can ever receive.

Unfortunately, in the real world -- we all know a lot of shallow minded people who are monetarily and/or materialistically self-absorbed who are not so nice, caring and giving. And unfortunately, many of them -- especially, those associated with The New World Order -- are in positions of high power across the globe that can mold public opinion, make wars, manipulate our economies at will and easily implement changes to our society that quite often adversely impact our lives and the planet for which we live upon, our home. I am always blown-away at how some folks can be so darn greedy, selfish, hateful, vindictive and narrow-minded, and I am bewildered at how many of them keep themselves contained in the same negative paradigm for stimulating their incisive power trips. The only libido left to them is when money and wealth no longer gets their jollies. But, on the flip-side, I am equally enlightened at the large number of people who embrace and share the same values as I do. I am humbled by the ones (like me) who do not require much to achieve happiness and who value life in its purest naturalistic form and who value sharing their love and compassion in all facets of life, even with those less deserving to receive it. Gee, I guess life really is a vast ocean filled to the brim with challenges, lessons and "opportunity" that each of us -- with our trusty moral and ethical compass in hand -- are forever child navigators trying to find safe passage through the many reefs laid before us.

This is my humble way of saying we need to expand our peripherals of consciousness. I'm here to say it's past time we squeegee our third eye. And I say it's imperative we do it now if we are to navigate through the many horrific changes that may lie ahead. They say the Universe always opens up for those willing to believe the impossible and who remain adamant in creating reality as a mirror of our visions. Having said that and being a man with many visions, I want to share a personal story from my youth.

Back in the 70's, I had a prolific experience that I shall never forget. On this rare occasion, I experimented with some LSD. A good friend of mine named Chad (a few years older than I), a combat veteran whom had honorably served in the Army during the Vietnam War, introduced me to this psychedelic drug. He said he had some excellent "blotter hits" that he had just scored at a "Rainbow Gathering" -- an annual event held once a year from which he had just returned in his old converted school bus that he called his home on wheels. Having only smoked a little pot in my limited experience with drugs, I really did not know what to expect. After we each placed a four-way blotter hit under our tongue, we sat there for a spell, then he causally pulled out his guitar and started playing some awesome Van Morrison tunes on his acoustic 12-string. My, my, Chad could pluck some awesome chords on that old Gibson. To me, it was comparable to an orchestra of heavenly Angels caressing their Harps. He played some of his favorite songs such as "Into the Mystic," etc., and in-between these songs while softly playing harmonic chords, he spoke to me like a magical wizard.

It all seemed so surreal. As Chad spoke, he kind of took the form of Abbie Hoffman, who I thought had traveled down from the mountaintop to deliver an important message to me. Then, he proceeded to tell me this amazing story of how he believed our Government had uselessly started the Vietnam War. Indeed, this was the real deal. The voice of experience. It came from an honorable man who had seen the horrors of war first-hand. Chad was adamant when he sadly told me he was heartbroken because he was used as a pawn in a war that need not have been fought. He also perked-up when he confessed this carnage was purposely put into play so the money gluttons could destroy a nation's unity in purposely subverting the rebellious intentions of his fellow peace-loving youth (the baby-boomer generation).

He further explained that certain people in government wanted to squash this ever-growing 60's counter-culture movement that was quickly gathering steam. A unique generation filled with hopes of change. The largest youthful gathering of inquisitiveness (at any given time) in American history. An army of youth hell-bent on a mission to change the perimeters of authority, and who unequivocally questioned the very fabric of our society's priorities that just happen to be in direct opposition to the whims of those pushing a host of institutionalized conformity tactics that have have only intensified non-stop, to this very day.

Indeed, back then, Chad knew full well that the devils of his day had no tolerance for youthful souls thinking out of the proverbial box in formulating their own diversified opinions in defiance of strict establishment rules of that era. According to him, they considered this a big threat to the establishment as a whole. An inconvenient warning bell that loudly echoed in the ears of power-brokers whose only desire was to create a monopoly over a docile nation.

As he finished telling me this intriguing, mind-blowing story, I started coming-on strong to the acid trip, so he minimized the political talk and concentrated on playing his guitar to give me a smooth, mellow high -- so as not to disturb my pleasant trip. As I popped-my-cork and watched him play, I have to admit, the whole experience changed me forever. As the drug intensified, I could actually see musical notes emanating from his guitar like colorful waves of energy dancing in the breeze. For me, this turned-out to be a four-hour hallucinogenic adventure that when I finally did peak, I had an out-of-body experience and I floated up into the cosmos and visited some deceased relatives. As I started coming down, I remembering hearing Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" playing on the stereo and then my friend handed me a book to read. He told me it was a gift that I could keep as a reminder of the friendship and good times we had shared together. To this day, I still have the book: "Be Here Now." Yes, it's amazing how time flies. They say the 40's are the old age of youth and the 50's are the youth of old age. So, at 53, I guess I'm a youthful old fart.

In retrospect, I shared this personal story not to promote the use of drugs or anything like that. But just the opposite -- I embrace my sobriety and through many years of meditation, I have learned that I can achieve high levels of consciousness that are much more focused by using natural intellectual concepts. In truth, this is by far a much better experience and way more gratifying than using LSD or other drugs. Thus, I now know for sure that drugs are not needed for remote viewing, out of body experiences, etc...

Currently, I'm sure most of us have heard about the Mayan Calender ending on December 21, 2012. Undoubtedly, depending on the source of information that resonates with you, the various prophecies can either enlighten you, or cause you much grief if you desire entertaining your worst fears. However, let's first examine what the Mayan Elders have to say. First and foremost (and I agree), they tell us the new era is not something to be feared. They explain that this new cycle is a just new beginning. A rebirth that will elevate our level of consciousness, and they speak of rites of passage that I always knew in my heart was possible. They say we are all children of the sun and, together, we can achieve a "collective" consciousness that can unite the world as "one" powerful force for peace, love and harmony. They further explain that men of great wisdom will return for what they deem as the "Shift of the Ages." I find the whole concept remarkable and I do hope it's true.

However, whether you choose to believe in a Hollywood-style doomsday scenario, or if you consider this a great awakening to be embraced -- you can't deny there is something inherently changing in the world today. And the evidence seems to be swarming all around us. Regardless, many folks undoubtedly remain confused and will have a difficult time distinguishing between the two choices. Personally, I think most of the fear and confusion is attributed (by design) by a select few at the top of the food chain who have the power and resources to divide and conquer us for their own personal gain. For them, fear is a useful tool for scaring the populace into giving up their freedom for a false sense of security.

However, Trust in this: If the Mayans are correct and all the barriers that stand before us are removed, and If the men of great wisdom do make the world's people privy to the wondrous knowledge contained within the many ancient artifacts and texts, then perhaps we really do have a chance to unite and free the human family from bondage.

I mean really, what better time than now to receive this information? Especially, when we consider the coming planetary alignment, increased solar-flare activity, the possibility of incoming asteroids and comets, more intense volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, intensified weather changes, massive crop failures, world instability and other life-changing events which seem to be in motion on all continents across the globe.

So, it begs the question -- how intense will this get and what must we do to not only avert the danger, but survive and thrive in a better world worth living? I truly hope this epiphany of knowledge and wisdom they speak of will offer us a master key for our salvation. Otherwise, if we keep depending on our consolidated "five-headed Behemoth" that is the mainstream media and press, well, we will not learn much of anything -- except perhaps -- which person won the prize on "Dancing with the Stars." Let's be honest with ourselves -- let this be a hard lesson to all of us who cherish such things as peace, justice, freedom and quality of life in the pursuit of happiness -- this is what happens to a nation's people when we put the dissemination of news and information in the hands of the few. Thus, we have what we have: Today's media now holds the world hostage with their manipulative control tactics and, by today's standards, their past affinities of atrocity and arrogance hardly seems remarkable.

What we already know is quite alarming. It's sobering to say the least. I visit a web site daily called "The Extinction Protocol." They track a lot of useful information that you may find educational. They update a wide variety of topics.

And, as hard as it is being informed in knowing the denizens of government under the veil of National Security will hide everything under the sun and moon to stay in power and protect the pro-business institutions, trade pacts, and bailouts, etc., a quote by Victor Hugo comes to mind -- "Caution is the eldest child of wisdom." So, I guess we better be intuitive. And we better do some real soul searching.

However, in the midst of overwhelming hubris, two things hold true: "The truth can set us free" and "Love is the universal key" for wellness, happiness and spiritual salvation. So I guess the Beatles had it right when they sang -- "All You Need is Love." And this is not just some outdated Hippie slogan, love truly is the most powerful electromagnetic energy generated from our beating hearts. And, until only recently, it has been scientifically proven that this frequency is not just local to the body. It travels far outside of it (at great distances) and literally changes all molecules in it's path. Moreover, it's being proven that this same vibrational frequency can connect each of us to one another, to our earth and even to the universe from which we came. There's no denying, the magic of the "heart" is the most significant element in life's creation. And, as the ancient texts may reveal -- we are inter-connected in more ways than we ever thought possible.

In taking this to the next level, we must also remain open-minded about UFO's, the pyramids (including new ones recently found in Antarctica), Stonehenge and many other interesting sites including crop circles. It's amazing that all were created using the principles of sacred geometry. Perhaps the secrets of their origin and the knowledge they contain will be the most significant discoveries ever revealed in human history? Indeed.

In ending, I would add -- there are many virtuous tumblers within our unique matrix that make us who we are in this reality of consciousness. Moreover, I firmly believe that if and when we ever achieve full harmonic balance, a door within us will open that not only rewards the individual with an exceptional life experience, but is shared in an energy vortex by everyone in our collective existence. Thus, I further believe if we are successful in mastering our awesome inner power, we actually have the potential to become profound visionaries for hope and change. A reality where anything is possible and where hopes and dreams can become reality. Therefore, I say live the dream and make it extend into the cosmos...
(c) 2012 Vincent L. Guarisco is a freelance writer from Arizona, a contributing writer for many web sites, and a lifetime founding member of the Alliance of Atomic Veterans. The 21st century, once so full of shining promise, now threatens to force countless millions of us at home and abroad into a dark abyss of languishing poverty and silent servitude; a lowly prodigy of painful struggle and suffering that could stream for generations to come. I'm wishing for a miracle, before it is too late, the masses will figure it out and will stand as one and roar. So, pass the word - its past time to take back what is ours -- the American Dream where the pursuit of happiness, the ability to live in a free and peaceful nation is a reality. We bought it, and we paid for it. It's time to take it back. For replies, contact:

Obstruct And Exploit
By Paul Krugman

Does anyone remember the American Jobs Act? A year ago President Obama proposed boosting the economy with a combination of tax cuts and spending increases, aimed in particular at sustaining state and local government employment. Independent analysts reacted favorably. For example, the consulting firm Macroeconomic Advisers estimated that the act would add 1.3 million jobs by the end of 2012.

There were good reasons for these positive assessments. Although you'd never know it from political debate, worldwide experience since the financial crisis struck in 2008 has overwhelmingly confirmed the proposition that fiscal policy "works," that temporary increases in spending boost employment in a depressed economy (and that spending cuts increase unemployment). The Jobs Act would have been just what the doctor ordered.

But the bill went nowhere, of course, blocked by Republicans in Congress. And now, having prevented Mr. Obama from implementing any of his policies, those same Republicans are pointing to disappointing job numbers and declaring that the president's policies have failed.

Think of it as a two-part strategy. First, obstruct any and all efforts to strengthen the economy, then exploit the economy's weakness for political gain. If this strategy sounds cynical, that's because it is. Yet it's the G.O.P.'s best chance for victory in November.

But are Republicans really playing that cynical a game?

You could argue that we're having a genuine debate about economic policy, in which Republicans sincerely believe that the things Mr. Obama proposes would actually hurt, not help, job creation. However, even if that were true, the fact is that the economy we have right now doesn't reflect the policies the president wanted.

Anyway, do Republicans really believe that government spending is bad for the economy? No.

Right now Mitt Romney has an advertising blitz under way in which he attacks Mr. Obama for possible cuts in defense spending - cuts, by the way, that were mandated by an agreement forced on the president by House Republicans last year. And why is Mr. Romney denouncing these cuts? Because, he says, they would cost jobs!

This is classic "weaponized Keynesianism" - the claim that government spending can't create jobs unless the money goes to defense contractors, in which case it's the lifeblood of the economy. And no, it doesn't make any sense.

What about the argument, which I hear all the time, that Mr. Obama should have fixed the economy long ago? The claim goes like this: during his first two years in office Mr. Obama had a majority in Congress that would have let him do anything he wanted, so he's had his chance.

The short answer is, you've got to be kidding.

As anyone who was paying attention knows, the period during which Democrats controlled both houses of Congress was marked by unprecedented obstructionism in the Senate. The filibuster, formerly a tactic reserved for rare occasions, became standard operating procedure; in practice, it became impossible to pass anything without 60 votes. And Democrats had those 60 votes for only a few months. Should they have tried to push through a major new economic program during that narrow window? In retrospect, yes - but that doesn't change the reality that for most of Mr. Obama's time in office U.S. fiscal policy has been defined not by the president's plans but by Republican stonewalling.

The most important consequence of that stonewalling, I'd argue, has been the failure to extend much-needed aid to state and local governments. Lacking that aid, these governments have been forced to lay off hundreds of thousands of schoolteachers and other workers, and those layoffs are a major reason the job numbers have been disappointing. Since bottoming out a year after Mr. Obama took office, private-sector employment has risen by 4.6 million; but government employment, which normally rises more or less in line with population growth, has instead fallen by 571,000.

Put it this way: When Republicans took control of the House, they declared that their economic philosophy was "cut and grow" - cut government, and the economy will prosper. And thanks to their scorched-earth tactics, we've actually had the cuts they wanted. But the promised growth has failed to materialize - and they want to make that failure Mr. Obama's fault.

Now, all of this puts the White House in a difficult bind. Making a big deal of Republican obstructionism could all too easily come across as whining. Yet this obstructionism is real, and arguably is the biggest single reason for our ongoing economic weakness.

And what happens if the strategy of obstruct-and-exploit succeeds? Is this the shape of politics to come? If so, America will have gone a long way toward becoming an ungovernable banana republic.
(c) 2012 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

"A common and natural result of an undue respect for law is that you may see a file of soldiers, colonel, captain, corporal, privates, powder-monkeys, and all marching in admirable order over hill and dale to the wars, against their wills, ay, against their common sense and consciences, which makes it very steep marching indeed, and produces a palpitation of the heart. They have no doubt that it is a damnable business in which they are concerned; they are all peaceably inclined. Now, what are they? Men at all? or small movable forts and magazines, at the service of some unscrupulous man in power? The mass of men serve the State thus, not as men mainly, but as machines, with their bodies.... In most cases there is no free exercise whatever of the judgment or of the moral sense; but they put themselves on a level with wood and earth and stones; and wooden men can perhaps be manufactured that will serve the purpose as well."
~~~ Henry David Thoreau, On the Duty of Civil Disobedience

Life Without Free Will
By Sam Harris

One of the most common objections to my position on free will is that accepting it could have terrible consequences, psychologically or socially. This is a strange rejoinder, analogous to what many religious people allege against atheism: Without a belief in God, human beings will cease to be good to one another. Both responses abandon any pretense of caring about what is true and merely change the subject. But that does not mean we should never worry about the practical effects of holding specific beliefs.

I can well imagine that some people might use the nonexistence of free will as a pretext for doing whatever they want, assuming that it's pointless to resist temptation or that there's no difference between good and evil. This is a misunderstanding of the situation, but, I admit, a possible one. There is also the question of how we should raise children in light of what science tells us about the nature of the human mind. It seems doubtful that a lecture on the illusoriness of free will should be part of an elementary school curriculum.

In my view, the reality of good and evil does not depend upon the existence of free will, because with or without free will, we can distinguish between suffering and happiness. With or without free will, a psychopath who enjoys killing children is different from a pediatric surgeon who enjoys saving them. Whatever the truth about free will, these distinctions are unmistakable and well worth caring about.

Might free will somehow be required for goodness to be manifest? How, for instance, does one become a pediatric surgeon? Well, you must first be born, with an intact nervous system, and then provided with a proper education. No freedom there, I'm afraid. You must also have the physical talent for the job and avoid smashing your hands at rugby. Needless to say, it won't do to be someone who faints at the sight of blood. Chalk these achievements up to good luck as well. At some point you must decide to become a surgeon-a result, presumably, of first wanting to become one. Will you be the conscious source of this wanting? Will you be responsible for its prevailing over all the other things you want but that are incompatible with a career in medicine? No. If you succeed at becoming a surgeon, you will simply find yourself standing one day, scalpel in hand, at the confluence of all the genetic and environmental causes that led you to develop along this line. None of these events requires that you, the conscious subject, be the ultimate cause of your aspirations, abilities, and resulting behavior. And, needless to say, you can take no credit for the fact that you weren't born a psychopath.

Of course, I'm not saying that you can become a surgeon by accident-you must do many things, deliberately and well, and in the appropriate sequence, year after year. Becoming a surgeon requires effort. But can you take credit for your disposition to make that effort? To turn the matter around, am I responsible for the fact that it has never once occurred to me that I might like to be a surgeon? Who gets the blame for my lack of inspiration? And what if the desire to become a surgeon suddenly arises tomorrow and becomes so intense that I jettison my other professional goals and enroll in medical school? Would I-that is, the part of me that is actually experiencing my life-be the true cause of these developments? Every moment of conscious effort-every thought, intention, and decision-will have been caused by events of which I am not conscious. Where is the freedom in this?

If we cannot assign blame to the workings of the universe, how can evil people be held responsible for their actions? In the deepest sense, it seems, they can't be. But in a practical sense, they must be. I see no contradiction in this. In fact, I think that keeping the deep causes of human behavior in view would only improve our practical response to evil. The feeling that people are deeply responsible for who they are does nothing but produce moral illusions and psychological suffering.

Imagine that you are enjoying your last nap of the summer, perhaps outside in a hammock somewhere, and are awakened by an unfamiliar sound. You open your eyes to the sight of a large bear charging at you across the lawn. It should be easy enough to understand that you have a problem. If we swap this bear for a large man holding a butcher knife, the problem changes in a few interesting ways, but the sudden appearance of free will in the brain of your attacker is not among them.

Should you survive this ordeal, your subsequent experience is liable to depend-far too much, in my view-on the species of your attacker. Imagine the difference between seeing the man who almost killed you on the witness stand and seeing the bear romping at the zoo. If you are like many victims, you might be overcome in the first instance by feelings of rage and hatred so intense as to constitute a further trauma. You might spend years fantasizing about the man's death. But it seems certain that your experience at the zoo would be altogether different. You might even bring friends and family just for the fun of it: "That's the beast that almost killed me!" Which state of mind would you prefer-seething hatred or triumphant feelings of good luck and amazement? The conviction that a human assailant could have done otherwise, while a bear could not, would seem to account for much of the difference.

A person's conscious thoughts, intentions, and efforts at every moment are preceded by causes of which he is unaware. What is more, they are preceded by deep causes-genes, childhood experience, etc.-for which no one, however evil, can be held responsible. Our ignorance of both sets of facts gives rise to moral illusions. And yet many people worry that it is necessary to believe in free will, especially in the process of raising children.

This strikes me as a legitimate concern, though I would point out that the question of which truths to tell children (or childlike adults) haunts every room in the mansion of our understanding. For instance, my wife and I recently took our three-year-old daughter on an airplane for the first time. She loves to fly! As it happens, her joy was made possible in part because we neglected to tell her that airplanes occasionally malfunction and fall out of the sky, killing everyone on board. I don't believe I'm the first person to observe that certain truths are best left unspoken, especially in the presence of young children. And I would no more think of telling my daughter at this age that free will is an illusion than I would teach her to drive a car or load a pistol.

Which is to say that there is a time and a place for everything-unless, of course, there isn't. We all find ourselves in the position of a child from time to time, when specific information, however valid or necessary it may be in other contexts, will only produce confusion, despondency, or terror in the context of our life. It can be perfectly rational to avoid certain facts. For instance, if you must undergo a medical procedure for which there is no reasonable alternative, I recommend that you not conduct an Internet search designed to uncover all its possible complications. Similarly, if you are prone to nightmares or otherwise destabilized by contemplating human evil, I recommend that you not read Machete Season. Some forms of knowledge are not for everyone.

Generally speaking, however, I don't think that the illusoriness of free will is an ugly truth. Nor is it one that must remain a philosophical abstraction. In fact, as I write this, it is absolutely clear to me that I do not have free will. This knowledge doesn't seem to prevent me from getting things done. Recognizing that my conscious mind is always downstream from the underlying causes of my thoughts, intentions, and actions does not change the fact that thoughts, intentions, and actions of all kinds are necessary for living a happy life-or an unhappy one, for that matter.

I haven't been noticeably harmed, and I believe I have benefited, from knowing that the next thought that unfurls in my mind will arise and become effective (or not) due to conditions that I cannot know and did not bring into being. The negative effects that people worry about-a lack of motivation, a plunge into nihilism-are simply not evident in my life. And the positive effects have been obvious. Seeing through the illusion of free will has lessened my feelings of hatred for bad people. I'm still capable of feeling hatred, of course, but when I think about the actual causes of a person's behavior, the feeling falls away. It is a relief to put down this burden, and I think nothing would be lost if we all put it down together. On the contrary, much would be gained. We could forget about retribution and concentrate entirely on mitigating harm. (And if punishing people proved important for either deterrence or rehabilitation, we could make prison as unpleasant as required.)

Understanding the true causes of human behavior does not leave any room for the traditional notion of free will. But this shouldn't depress us, or tempt us to go off our diets. Diligence and wisdom still yield better results than sloth and stupidity. And, in psychologically healthy adults, understanding the illusoriness of free will should make divisive feelings such as pride and hatred a little less compelling. While it's conceivable that someone, somewhere, might be made worse off by dispensing with the illusion of free will, I think that on balance, it could only produce a more compassionate, equitable, and sane society.
(c) 2012 Sam Harris is the author of "The End Of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason" and "Letter to a Christian Nation" and is the co-founder of The Reason Project, which promotes scientific knowledge and secular values. Follow Sam Harris on Twitter.

Moody's In A Mood
By Robert Reich

The rating agencies are at it again. Moody's Investors Services says it's likely to downgrade U.S. government bonds if Congress and the White House don't reach a budget deal before we go over the so-called "fiscal cliff" on January 2, when $1.2 trillion in spending cuts and tax increases automatically go into effect.

Apparently the credit rating agencies can't decide which is more dangerous to the U.S. economy - cutting the U.S. budget deficit too quickly, or not having a plan to cut it at all.

Last year's worry was the latter. In the midst of partisan wrangling over raising the nation's debt limit, Standard & Poor's downgraded U.S. debt - warning that Republicans and Democrats didn't have a credible plan to tame the deficit.

Now Moody's is worried about the opposite: The spending cuts and tax increases in the Budget Control Act that will automatically kick in at the start of 2013 - unless Congress decides on a better and presumably more gradual approach - are so draconian they'll push the economy into a recession.

The ratings agency schitzophrenia is understandable. Everyone in Washington - and just about everywhere else - knows the budget deficit has to be dealt with. But anyone with half a brain (including Washington) also knows that when unemployment is high and economic growth still painfully slow, cutting the deficit too much now would make a bad situation even worse.

Remember, the real problem isn't the deficit per se. It's the deficit in proportion to the size of the economy. Cutting too much too soon will tip the economy into recession because it would reduce overall demand for goods and services when private demand falls way short of what's needed. And if the economy goes into recession and begins to shrink, the ratio of deficit to the economy gets worse. That's the austerity trap Europe has fallen into.

Even if the deficit continues to grow in proportion to the economy, we're safe as long as those who lend money to the U.S. aren't worried about being repaid and therefore don't demand high interest rates in return for their loans.

By this measure, the American economy appears safer than ever. Despite all the harrumphing from the credit-rating agencies, the United States has never been able to borrow money more cheaply than it can right now. That's because no matter how bad the deficit situation looks here, it's worse in places like Spain and Italy. And no matter how deadlocked Congress becomes, the U.S. is still the most stable and reliable system in which to put your savings.

The fiscal cliff is a real worry. But it's a worry precisely because the budget deficit isn't. When unemployment is high and growth is anemic, we need as much fiscal stimulus as we can manage.

As long as the rest of the world is willing to lend us their savings so cheaply, we'd be wise to use it to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and our schools and parks - and thereby put more Americans back to work - rather try to cut the deficit too much and too soon.
(c) 2012 Robert Reich is Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written twelve books, including The Work of Nations, Locked in the Cabinet, and his most recent book, Supercapitalism. His "Marketplace" commentaries can be found on and iTunes.

The Dead Letter Office...

Heil Obama,

Dear unterfuhrer Burns,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your attempt to censor Brendon Ayanbadejo for speaking up for equal rights for everyone, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Syria 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 Iron Cross first class, presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 09-11-2012. We salute you Herr Burns, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

RNC Chair Priebus' Posturing Crosses Last Line Of Political Propriety
By John Nichols

Mitt Romney's response to the attacks on U.S. diplomatic sites in Egypt and Libya -- which left a U.S. ambassador and other diplomats dead -- was one of the more ignorant and irresponsible statements ever issued by a major-party presidential nominee in such a circumstance. Early Wednesday, the Romney camp released a statement that read: "It's disgraceful that the Obama Administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks."

In fact, the Obama administration's response had been fully in keeping with what the response of a Reagan, Bush, Clinton or Bush administration would have been: "Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior [at the diplomatic sites] as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet. The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others," declared Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as the details of the violence in Benghazi were revealed. "But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind."

As more information about the killing of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and the others in Libya became available, Clinton said, "This is an attack that should shock the conscience of people of all faiths around the world."

While embattled U.S. Embassy officials in Cairo had put out a statement (apparently before the killings in Libya) that said "we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions," there was no expression of sympathy with violence. President Obama said in his statement: "I strongly condemn the outrageous attack on our diplomatic facility in Benghazi, which took the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. Right now, the American people have the families of those we lost in our thoughts and prayers. They exemplified America's commitment to freedom, justice, and partnership with nations and people around the globe, and stand in stark contrast to those who callously took their lives."

Yet, even after the administration response in general and Obama's own response had been made clear to all, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus continued to feature a Tweet on his official Twitter account that read: "Obama sympathizes with attackers in Egypt. Sad and pathetic."

Priebus made no effort to apologize, no effort to clarify, no show of even the most minimal sense of duty or responsibility.

Political campaigns frequently go to extremes. People say and do things that are inappropriate.

But what Priebus has done crosses whatever line of political propriety still exists.

He is intentionally creating a false impression with regard to the response of the president of the United States to a violent international incident that could have long-term repercussions.

This is typical of Priebus, who has since he waded into politics as a failed Wisconsin state Senate candidate known no bounds in his rhetorical assaults on his political foes. Just two weeks ago, at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, the party chair played on the crudest claims about the president's Americanism, suggesting that: "Barack Obama has a problem with the American Dream."

Priebus, whose penchant for suggesting that those who disagree with him are somehow un-American is well established. He got called out by MSNBC host Chris Matthews during a Tampa appearance on "Morning Joe" after Priebus said: "I think Obama's policies have created a sense that, for whatever reason, he's looking guidance as far as health care is concerned, as far as our spending is concerned, as far as these stimulus packages are concerned, that he's looking to Europe for guidance."

Just last week, when Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, a Wisconsinite Priebus knows, appeared at the Democratic National Convention, the RNC chair displayed no home-state pride. Rather, he claimed that Baldwin, a Senate candidate who would be the first out member of the LGBT community elected to the U.S. Senate if she wins her November race in Wisconsin, advocated policies that "aren't in line w/Americans."

When he isn't questioning the Americanism of an African-American president or a female Senate candidate, Priebus has been stretching the truth to the breaking point in other ways. During the Democratic National Convention, on the day when President Obama switched his acceptance speech from an outdoor venue to the convention hall because of a severe weather forecast, Priebus announced that: "I hear from our team in Charlotte that it's a beautiful day in NC - hardly a cloud in the sky!" In truth, torrential rains were sweeping across Charlotte.

After his clash with Matthews, the chairman called the commentator "the biggest jerk in the room." Democrats may be inclined to suggest that Priebus is the actual owner of the title. But that is just a variation on the political pettiness that is the RNC chair's modus operandi.

And it missed the point of Priebus' latest transgression.

When the chairman of a major American party flagrantly and unapologetically lies about the intentions and actions of the president of the United States in a moment of international tension, he plays a politics that damages his own party as much as it does old notions of foreign-policies consensus and bipartisanship.

It is not Democrats who should be calling out Reince Priebus. It is Republicans.

The Republican Party has a rich history of responding honorably and well to dangerous turns of events and immediate challenges facing the United States. This is the party of Michigan Senator Arthur Vandenberg, a fierce critic of the New Deal who became an essential ally of the Roosevelt administration at critical stages during World War II and when the United Nations was called into being. This is the party of Wendell Willkie, the Republican nominee against Roosevelt in 1940 who almost immediately after his election defeat because Roosevelt's roving ambassador to the world. This is the party of Dwight Eisenhower and Gerald Ford and George Herbert Walker Bush, presidents who frequently recognized the need to work across lines of partisanship and ideology.

Republican National Committee chairs have always been partisans, as have Democratic National Committee chairs. But does anyone seriously imagine that Pennsylvania Senator Hugh Scott, Maryland Congressman Rogers Morton, George H. W. Bush or the tart-tongued Bob Dole would -- even in the heat of a campaign -- engage in deliberate deception regarding the response of the president of the United States to the killing of U.S. diplomats?

Reince Priebus has dishonored his party.

Honorable Republicans should call him on it.
(c) 2012 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His new book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, has just been published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

The US embassy ablaze after the attack by protesters.

The Provocateurs Know Politics And Religion Don't Mix
It only takes a couple of loonies a few seconds to kick off a miniature war in the Muslim world
By Robert Fisk

So another internet clever-clogs sets the Middle East on fire: Prophet cartoons, then Koranic book-burning, now a video of robed "terrorists" and a fake desert. The Western-Christian perpetrators then go into hiding (an essential requisite for publicity) while the innocent are asphyxiated, beheaded and otherwise done to death - outrageous Muslim revenge thus "proving" the racist claims of the trash peddlers that Islam is a violent religion.

The provocateurs, of course, know that politics and religion don't mix in the Middle East. They are the same. Christopher Stevens, his diplomat colleagues in Benghazi, priests in Turkey and Africa, UN personnel in Afghanistan; they have all paid the price for those 'Christian priests', 'cartoonists', 'film-makers' and 'authors' - the inverted commas are necessary to mark a thin line between illusionists and the real thing - who knowingly choose to provoke 1.6 billion Muslims.

When a Danish cartoon in a hitherto unknown newspaper drew a picture of the Prophet Mohamed with a bomb in his turban, the Danish embassy in Beirut went up in flames. When a Texas pastor decided to 'sentence the Koran to death', the knives came out in Afghanistan - we are leaving aside the little matter of the 'accidental' burning of Koranic pages by US personnel in Bagram. And now a deliberately abusive film provokes the murder of one of the State Department's fairest diplomats.

In many ways, it's familiar territory. In fifteenth century Spain, Christian cartoonists drew illustrations of the Prophet committing unspeakable acts. And - just so we don't think we have clean claws today - when a Paris cinema showed a film in which Christ made love to a woman, the picture-house was burned-down, one cinema-goer was killed, and the killer turned out to be a Christian.

With the help of our wonderful new technology, however, it only needs a couple of loonies to kick off a miniature war in the Muslim world within seconds. I doubt if poor Christopher Stevens - a man who really understood the Arabs as many of his colleagues do not - had ever heard of the 'film' that unleashed the storming of the US consulate in Benghazi and his own death. It's one thing to witlessly claim that the US would go on a "crusade" against al-Qaeda - thank you, George W. Bush - but another to insult, quite deliberately, an entire people. Racism of this kind stirs many a crazed heart.

And has Al-Qaeda - defeated by the Arab revolutionaries who demanded dignity rather than a Bin Laden Caliphate across the Middle East - now decided to cash in on populist grievances to advance their Islamist cause? Libya's largely impotent government blames the Americans themselves for Stevens' killing - since the consulate should have been evacuated - and suggests that a Gaddafi clique was behind the attack. This is ridiculous. If the armed militia in Benghazi, calling itself the 'Islamic Law Supporters', are more than telephone-gunmen, then al-Qaida involvement has to be suspected.

Ironically, there is room for a serious discussion among Muslims about, for example, a re-interpretation of the Koran; but Western provocation - and western, alas, it is - closes down such a narrative. Meanwhile, we beat our chests in favour of a 'free press'. A New Zealand editor once proudly told me how his own newspaper had re-published the cartoon of the Prophet with a bomb-filled turban. But when I asked him if he planned to publish a cartoon of a Rabbi with a bomb on his head next time Israel invaded Lebanon, he hastily agreed with me that this would be anti-Semitic.

There's the rub, of course. Some things are off limits, and rightly so. Others have no limits at all. Several radio presenters asked me yesterday if the unrest in Cairo and Benghazi may have been timed to "coincide with 9/11". It simply never occurred to them to ask if the video-clip provocateurs had chosen their date-for-release to coincide with 9/11.
(c) 2012 Robert Fisk is Middle East correspondent for The Independent newspaper. He is the author of many books on the region, including "The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East."

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Nate Beeler ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Obama: 'Help Us Destroy Jesus And Start A New Age Of Liberal Darkness'
The president calls for his ultraliberal minions to join him in the godless slaughter of Jesus Christ and the advancement of eternal sin.

CHARLOTTE, NC-With the savage roar of the heathen Democratic horde rising all around him, President Barack Obama delivered an incendiary speech to close his party's national convention Thursday night, commanding the ultraprogressive minions in attendance to help him "destroy Jesus and usher in a new age of liberal darkness that shall reign o'er the earth for a thousand years."

The thunderous 45-minute address-during which the president argued for a second term so that he could "finally kill Jesus once and for all, as well as all those who worship him"-was well received by the frenzied, wild-eyed audience, whose piercing chants of "Four more years!" and "Slaughter the believers!" echoed throughout the Time Warner Cable Arena.

"My fellow Americans and godless infidels, I command you to join me as we cast an endless pall of far-left evil across the hills and valleys of our nation!" Obama bellowed from the stage, as thousands in attendance moaned in compliance and gyrated their hips and groins in a lascivious dance. "Together, as a barbarian people forged by the wicked flames of irreligiosity and united by visions of a liberal dystopia, we will rise up as one to scorch the earth with boundless amorality."

"The streets shall run red with the blood of forced sodomy, performed daily upon every American man, woman, and child!" the commander-in-chief shouted, froth forming around his mouth as the crowd threw hundreds of aborted fetuses onto the stage. "Die, Christians, die!"

Slamming his fists on the lectern until his hands began to bleed, Obama proceeded to lay out a "three-point plan of sin and lechery" for his second term. If reelected, the president said, he would begin by banning organized religion entirely-starting with Christianity-and burning all churches to the ground, preferably "with their wretched, Jesus-loving congregants still huddled inside like rats."

As members of the audience violently tugged at their genitals and howled like sex-starved, atheist wolves, Obama stated that his administration would then seek to make free, taxpayer-funded abortions legal at any stage of pregnancy, even up to one full year after birth, in order to supply his newly created "federal stem-cell harvesting plants" with raw materials.

In addition, the cackling president vowed to "end traditional marriage as we know it" by passing legislation that would allow only homosexuals to raise children, a longtime Democratic policy goal.

"A glorious new age of sinister, unconstrained liberalism is dawning! Oh, dear Satan, I can feel it coursing through my veins at this very moment!" shrieked Obama, ripping off his shirt to reveal an ornate tattoo of a pentagram, with a different homosexual act positioned at each of the star's five points. "Agnosticism, contempt for human life, and radical sexual experimentation shall rule the day! Any good, virtuous, family-values-oriented Christian Americans who seek to topple our magnificent liberal kingdom of eternal darkness will be powerless to stop us! We will crush them!"

Added Obama, "Thank you, may Satan reward you all, and may God tremble in fear at the United States of America!"

The president was then handed an unbaptized, orphaned newborn baby drenched in the blood of 666 slaughtered Christians, which he handed over to its new, gleefully squealing homosexual parents.
(c) 2012 The Onion

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