Issues & Alibis

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In This Edition

Robert Fisk with a must read, "Nine Years, Two Wars, Hundreds Of Thousands Dead - And Nothing Learnt."

Uri Avnery discovers the, "Satan Of The Details."

Matthew Rothschild wonders if, "Queenmaker Palin Triumphs With Christine O'Donnell."

Randall Amster with Republican shenanigans, "Political Street Theater? Homeless Candidates Run in Arizona."

Jim Hightower reports on, "Offshoring America's Legal Jobs."

David Sirota discloses, "The Neoliberal Bait-And-Switch."

James Donahue warns, "Beware The Spin Doctors."

James Kunstler finds, "Scary People, Scary Times."

Chris Floyd concludes we're, "Dizzy With Success."

Ted Rall explores, "Afghan War Lies."

Paul Krugman studies currency manipulation in, "China, Japan, America."

Chris Hedges says, "Do Not Pity The Democrats."

David Michael Green declares, "I Have A Dream, 2010 Version."

Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle wins the coveted "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Glenn Greenwald explains, "America The Exceptional."

John Nichols says to, "Bring The Troops Home, Bust The Banksters, Democratize The Economy."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department the fabulous Mrs. Betty Bowers returns with, "Betty's Christian Sex Tape" but first Uncle Ernie goes "Onboard The Teabagger Express."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Matt Bors, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Derf City, Max Papeschi, Eric Allie, Ted Rall, Lee Horsey, Internet Weekly.Org, Nick Thorkelson, Fasc Art Blog Spot.Com, NY Times, Archibald MacNeal Willard, Foreign Policy.Com, Vincent Pinto 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."

Onboard The Teabagger Express
By Ernest Stewart

"If there's any teabaggers here, welcome, and as always, white power." ~~~ Janeane Garofalo

Roughly $40 billion in federal subsidies are going to pay corn growers, so that corn syrup is able to replace cane sugar. Corn syrup has been singled out by many health experts as one of the chief culprits of rising obesity, because corn syrup does not turn off appetite. Since the advent of corn syrup, consumption of all sweeteners has soared, as have people's weights. According to a 2004 study reported in the American journal of Clinical Nutrition, the rise of Type-2 diabetes since 1980 has closely paralleled the increased use of sweeteners, particularly corn syrup. ~~~ Gabriel Cousens

"In one of the most grisly war crimes investigations to date, 12 American soldiers face charges over a secret "kill team" that allegedly murdered Afghan civilians for sport and collected bits of their fingers as war souvenirs." ~~~ Lauren Frayer

The world was on fire and no one could save me but you.
It's strange what desire will make foolish people do.
I never dreamed that I'd love somebody like you.
And I never dreamed that I'd lose somebody like you,

No, I want to fall in love (This world is only gonna break your heart)
No, I want to fall in love (This world is only gonna break your heart)
With you (This world is only gonna break your heart)
With you (This world is only gonna break your heart)
No, I... (This world is only gonna break your heart)
(This world is only gonna break your heart)

Nobody loves no one.
Wicked Game ~~~ Chris Isaak

Just when you thought it might be over for the Demoncrats, along come the Teabaggers to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. On Tuesday, in eight of nine races for the Senate, House and Governorships the Teabaggers beat out the far right candidates of the Rethuglicans with candidates even farther to the right. Only in New Hampshire did they fail to win the nomination in a close Senate race. The New Hampshire Attorney General, Kelly Ayotte, won in a squeaker over the Teabagger's candidate and funny namer Ovide Lamontagne, by 53,044 to 51,377 votes.

Fortunately for the Dems, the other eight candidate are certifiable Looney Toons who got their nominations by promising to get rid of Social Security and Medicare and other socialist programs like public education, libraries, roads, police, firemen and those other terrible burdens on us all while vowing to never tax the rich! For example, had the Rethuglicans run a middle-of-the-road conservative in Nevada, Harry Reid would have been toast but they choose Sharron Angle, a woman who makes Sarah Palin look like a deep thinker. This has been their "modus operandi" for the entire political season with the Teabaggers winning the nominations in most all of the races.

Of course, the Demoncrats being Demoncrats, may let their opponents get away with their fascist philosophies and not even question their bizarre plans if elected. I mean, Obama has time and time again failed to call the Rethuglicans on any of their shenanigans over the last twenty one months and allowed them to go from a party that was on it's way out to a viable alternative. The trouble for America is that these "new kids on the block" make the current crop of brain dead Rethuglican look sensible. Imagine that. Mitch McConnell and John Boehner are the good old days!

In six weeks time we'll know if America has learned anything from the Bush and Cheney years or if they've gone back to sleep and voted to cut their own throats as they have so many times before. If the billionaires win this one with their Teabagger candidates, as my daddy would have said, "That's all she wrote," America!

In Other News

Have you heard the latest from those crazy knuckleheads over at the Corn Refiners Association, you know the usual criminal suspects, Cargill and ADM? Now that most people know about their poison called high fructose corn syrup, they want to change the name, and not to Corn Poison either but to "Corn Sugar."

Their rebranding concern doesn't stem from the epidemic rates of obesity, diabetes and corn allergies that we are seeing, but rather their concern stems from a "20 year low in the sale of high fructose corn syrup and the impact it is having on the profitability of members of the Corn Refiners Association." Imagine that!

Due to this rapid decline in sales, the Corn Refiners Association has petitioned the U.S. Food and Drug Administration asking that manufacturers have "the option of using 'corn sugar' as an alternate name for high fructose corn syrup on product labels because 'corn sugar' more accurately describes the composition of the ingredient." Being the corpo-rat stooge the FDA is, it will no doubt approve the name change or anything else the Association wants just as long as those shekels keep flowing!

I, for one, quit using any products that use the high fructose corn syrup poison many years ago. I went from using about two liters a day of Pepsi or Coke to using no liters a day. You'd think in all this time those two would have learned something, especially Pepsi who brought out a Pepsi with regular sugar instead of the high fructose poison and immediately sold out all of their stock. Since I need to replace sugar in my body, as it isn't stored, I switched to sweetened tea that I make myself and know the ingredients!

If the corn farmers were smart they would stop trying to poison us because if they succeed who will buy their products? Since there is a high demand for just plain corn from the starving masses around the world, it's not like they'd lose any sales. If they combined just growing corn for consumption with not growing any of that GM poison then they'd be doing humanity and their bottom-lines a favor. We tried growing 2000 year old Anasazi corn this summer and it turned out great, very tasty indeed, we just didn't grow enough! Farmers might be smart to grow some for the organic market as they did with the Anasazi beans, which are among my favorite beans and a lucrative specialty crop. Yum Yum!

And Finally

I see where our heroic children have taken to cutting off and collecting fingers in Afghanistan like the silly string fad of children, but this fad is for our teenagers! Cutting off fingers should win Afghan hearts and minds for America, huh? Like some primitive tribe of headhunters, our kids are killing men, women and children to enlarge their collection of digits. Makes you wonder where the adults are who are supposed to be overseeing them and upholding the "rules of war," whatever that means?

In fact, I'd be willing to bet that it was the adults who got them into this war crime to begin with. Like the Indians who collected scalps, it wasn't their idea to do so but brought to them by their handlers the British Army along with all those lovely small pox infested blankets. You may recall that the Nazis collected tattoos and made lovely lampshades out of them. While according to the bible the ancient Jews collected jawbones from Asses! I'm guessing they were Egyptian jawbones? When I was in the Army, you were nobody unless you'd collected your very own Viet Cong ear necklace. And if there was no VC or NVA regulars about, well, there was a neverending supply of house boys and Saigon prostitutes. Go ahead and ask John McCain how that works! Just the thing to take back home and give to your mom or your best girl. "Mary Lou, this is for you! Here let me put it around your neck!" If you wanted to be fancy you could add earrings! A little salt curing and your necklace will last forever!

Do you suppose that when the recruiters were trying to sell their parents on allowing little Jimmy or Bobbie Sue to join up and become baby killers that there was any mention of finger collecting? Unless they've changed their recruiting style since my day I rather think that they skipped over that part, don't you?

Oh, and on the plus side, most all of these collectors are coming back home and will soon be walking down a street near you! Think fast, America!

It's Over

Dear Readers,

I got my walking papers the other day! She wants me G.O.N.E. A.S.A.P.. Trouble is, I done spent all my money financing this magazine and I'm flat broke. I desperately need $1,000 to get me and my stuff back to Detroit and set up housekeeping, before it and I end up on the street walking the 700 miles back to Detroit, and with COPD I don't imagine I'll get very far. If you can help me please do so today. To say that I'm desperate is a vast understatement! HELP! Contact me at:

Canada is still in the lead of helping your old Uncle get home. Ergo I'm wondering why my America readers who are still working 9 to 5 can't lend me a hand in this emergency. If you're as broke as I, don't feel bad, I understand that, but if you've been reading us for free for the last nine years isn't it about time you gave us a helping hand? I've gotten slightly less than half the money that I need to move. Time is running out!

Oh, and even more "good" news. The computer that I thought I had access to, I don't, which means I now have to raise another $1200 for a computer and software. Or the magazine will be closed until about the first of March, instead of for a week, as I'm going to be broke until I start getting social security checks in December. So as I write this I need about $2000. Anyone who can help in any way, i.e., transport, cash, a computer, please email me at once! Thanks Ya'll!


02-15-1914 ~ 09-11-2010
Thanks for the films!

12-10-1923 ~ 09-11-2010
Thanks for the laughs!


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


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

Until the next time, Peace!
(c) 2010 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for the last 9 years managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Face Book. Follow me on Twitter.

Nine Years, Two Wars, Hundreds Of Thousands Dead - And Nothing Learnt
Did 9/11 make us all mad? Our memorial to the innocents who died nine years ago has been a holocaust of fire and blood . . .
By Robert Fisk

Did 9/11 make us all go mad? How fitting, in a weird, crazed way, that the apotheosis of that firestorm nine years ago should turn out to be a crackpot preacher threatening another firestorm with a Nazi-style book burning of the Koran. Or a would-be mosque two blocks from "ground zero" - as if 9/11 was an onslaught on Jesus-worshiping Christians, rather than on the atheist West.

But why should we be surprised? Just look at all the other crackpots spawned in the aftermath of those international crimes against humanity: the half-crazed Ahmadinejad, the smarmy post-nuclear Gaddafi, Blair with his crazed right eye and George W Bush with his black prisons and torture and lunatic "war on terror". And that wretched man who lived - or lives still - in an Afghan cave and the hundreds of al-Qa'idas whom he created, and the one-eyed mullah - not to mention all the lunatic cops and intelligence agencies and CIA thugs who failed us all - utterly - on 9/11 because they were too idle or too stupid to identify 19 men who were going to attack the United States. And remember one thing: even if the Rev Terry Jones sticks with his decision to back down, another of our cranks will be ready to take his place.

Indeed, on this grim ninth anniversary - and heaven spare us next year from the 10th - 9/11 appears to have produced not peace or justice or democracy or human rights, but monsters. They have prowled Iraq - both the Western and the local variety - and slaughtered 100,000 souls, or 500,000, or a million; and who cares? They have killed tens of thousands in Afghanistan; and who cares? And as the sickness has spread across the Middle East and then the globe, they - the air force pilots and the insurgents, the Marines and the suicide bombers, the al-Qa'idas of the Maghreb and of the Khalij and of the Caliphate of Iraq and the special forces and the close air support boys and the throat-cutters - have torn the heads off women and children and the old and the sick and the young and healthy, from the Indus to the Mediterranean, from Bali to the London Tube; quite a memorial to the 2,966 innocents who were killed nine years ago. All in their name, it seems, has been our holocaust of fire and blood, enshrined now in the crazed pastor of Gainesville.

This is the loss, of course. But who's made the profit? Well, the arms dealers, naturally, and Boeing and Lockheed Martin and all the missile lads and the drone manufacturers and F-16 spare parts outfits and the ruthless mercenaries who stalk the Muslim lands on our behalf now that we have created 100,000 more enemies for each of the 19 murderers of 9/11. Torturers have had a good time, honing their sadism in America's black prisons - it was appropriate that the US torture center in Poland should be revealed on this ninth anniversary - as have the men (and women, I fear) who perfect the shackles and water-drowning techniques with which we now fight our wars. And - let us not forget - every religious raver in the world, be they of the Bin Laden variety, the bearded groupies in the Taliban, the suicide executioners, the hook-in the arm preachers, or our very own pastor of Gainesville.

And God? Where does he fit in? An archive of quotations suggests that just about every monster created in or after 9/11 is a follower of this quixotic redeemer. Bin Laden prays to God - "to turn America into a shadow of itself", as he told me in 1997 - and Bush prayed to God and Blair prayed - and prays - to God, and all the Muslim killers and an awful lot of Western soldiers and Dr (honorary) Pastor Terry Jones and his 30 (or it may be 50, since all statistics are hard to come by in the "war on terror") pray to God. And poor old God, of course, has had to listen to these prayers as he always sits through them during our mad wars. Recall the words attributed to him by a poet of another generation: "God this, God that, and God the other thing. 'Good God,' said God, 'I've got my work cut out'." And that was just the First World War...

Just five years ago - on the fourth anniversary of the twin towers/Pentagon/Pennsylvania attacks - a schoolgirl asked me at a lecture in a Belfast church whether the Middle East would benefit from more religion. No - less religion! - I howled back. God is good for contemplation, not for war. But - and here we are driven on to the reefs and hidden rocks which our leaders wish us to ignore, forget and cast aside - this whole bloody mess involves the Middle East; it is about a Muslim people who have kept their faith while those Westerners who dominate them - militarily, economically, culturally, socially - have lost theirs. How can this be, Muslims ask? Indeed, it is a superb irony that the Rev Jones is a believer while the rest of us - by and large - are not. Hence our books and our documentaries never refer to Muslims vs Christians, but Muslims versus "The West".

And of course, the one taboo subject of which we must not speak - Israel's relationship with America, and America's unconditional support for Israel's theft of land from Muslim Arabs - also lies at the heart of this terrible crisis in our lives. In yesterday's edition of The Independent, there was a photograph of Afghan demonstrators chanting "death to America". But in the background, these same demonstrators were carrying a black banner with a message in Dari written upon it in white paint. What it actually said was: "The bloodsucking Zionist government regime and the Western leaders who are indifferent [to suffering] and have no conscience are again celebrating the new year by spilling the red blood of the Palestinians."

The message is as extreme as it is vicious - but it proves, yet again, that the war in which we are engaged is also about Israel and "Palestine". We may prefer to ignore this in "the West" - where Muslims supposedly "hate us for what we are" or "hate our democracy" (see: Bush, Blair and a host of other mendacious politicians) - but this great conflict lies at the heart of the "war on terror". That is why the equally vicious Benjamin Netanyahu reacted to the atrocities of 9/11 by claiming that the event would be good for Israel. Israel would now be able to claim that it, too, was fighting the "war on terror", that Arafat - this was the now-comatose Ariel Sharon's claim - is "our Bin Laden". And thus Israelis had the gall to claim that Sderot, under its cascade of tin-pot missiles from Hamas, was "our ground zero".

It was not. Israel's battle with the Palestinians is a ghastly caricature of our "war on terror", in which we are supposed to support the last colonial project on earth - and accept its thousands of victims - because the twin towers and the Pentagon and United Flight 93 were attacked by 19 Arab murderers nine years ago. There is a supreme irony in the fact that one direct result of 9/11 has been the stream of Western policemen and spooks who have traveled to Israel to improve their "anti-terrorist expertise" with the help of Israeli officers who may - according to the United Nations - be war criminals. It was no surprise to find that the heroes who gunned down poor old Jean Charles de Menezes on the London Tube in 2005 had been receiving "anti-terrorist" advice from the Israelis.

And yes, I know the arguments. We cannot compare the actions of evil terrorists with the courage of our young men and women, defending our lives - and sacrificing theirs - on the front lines of the 'war on terror". There can be no "equivalence". "They" kill innocents because "they" are evil. "We" kill innocents by mistake. But we know we are going to kill innocents - we willingly accept that we are going to kill innocents, that our actions are going to create mass graves of families, of the poor and the weak and the dispossessed.

This is why we created the obscene definition of "collateral damage". For if "collateral" means that these victims are innocent, then "collateral" also means that we are innocent of killing them. It was not our wish to kill them - even if we knew it was inevitable that we would. "Collateral" is our exoneration. This one word is the difference between "them" and "us", between our God-given right to kill and Bin Laden's God-given right to murder. The victims, hidden away as "collateral" corpses, don't count any more because they were slaughtered by us. Maybe it wasn't so painful. Maybe death by drone is a more gentle departure from this earth, evisceration by an AGM-114C Boeing-Lockheed air-to-ground missile less painful, than death by shards from a roadside bomb or a cruel suicider with an explosive belt.

That's why we know how many died on 9/11 - 2,966, although the figure may be higher - and why we don't "do body counts" on those whom we kill. Because they - "our" victims - must have no identities, no innocence, no personality, no cause or belief or feelings; and because we have killed far, far more human beings than Bin Laden and the Taliban and al-Qa'ida.

Anniversaries are newspaper and television events. And they can have an eerie habit of coalescing together to create an unhappy memorial framework. Thus do we commemorate the Battle of Britain - a chivalric episode in our history - and the Blitz, a progenitor of mass murder, to be sure, but a symbol of innocent courage - as we remember the start of a war that has torn our morality apart, turned our politicians into war criminals, our soldiers into killers and our ruthless enemies into heroes of the anti-Western cause. And while on this gloomy anniversary the Rev Jones wanted to burn a book called the Koran, Tony Blair tried to sell a book called A Journey. Jones said the Koran was "evil"; Britons have asked whether the Blair book should be classified as "crime". Certainly, 9/11 has moved into fantasy when the Rev Jones can command the attention of the Obamas and the Clintons and the Holy Father and the even more Holy United Nations. Whom the gods would destroy...

11 Sept 2001

The World Trade Center and the Pentagon are hit by airplanes hijacked by al-Qa'ida terrorists. George Bush says that America will stand with "all those who want peace and security in the world".

7 Oct 2001

The US and Britain launch air strikes against Afghanistan.

13 Nov 2001

The Northern Alliance liberates Kabul from the rule of the Taliban.

11 Jan 2002

The first prisoners arrive at Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

9 Jan 2003

Top UN weapons inspector Hans Blix tells reporters that "we have now been in [Iraq] for some two months and? we haven't found any smoking guns".

15 Feb 2003

Protests are held across the world against impending war in Iraq.

20 Mar 2003

US-led coalition launches invasion of Iraq.

9 Oct 2003

Toppling of statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad is taken as symbol of coalition triumph.

11 Mar 2004

A series of bombs explode within minutes of each other on four commuter trains in Madrid, killing 191 people and wounding a further 1,841.

29 Apr 2004

Photographs emerge showing the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by US soldiers at Abu Ghraib, inflaming anti-US feeling.

2 Oct 2004

Video footage appears of British hostage Kenneth Bigley being beheaded by Iraqi militants.

2 Nov 2004

Dutch film-maker Theo van Gogh is murdered after making a film about violence against women in Islamic societies.

7 Jul 2005

Four suicide bombers kill 52 passengers and injure almost 800 others in a series of attacks on London's transport network.

30 Sept 2005

A series of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohamed are published in a Danish newspaper. The pictures are reprinted elsewhere amid widespread outrage and violent protests in the Muslim world.

30 Dec 2006

Saddam Hussein is hanged in northern Baghdad for crimes against humanity.

21 Sept 2009

A leaked report by Gen Stanley McChrystal, commander of US forces, suggests that the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan could be lost within a year unless there are significant increases in troops.

29 Nov 2009

A ban on building minarets is voted in by the Swiss public, reflecting a hostile attitude to the country's rising Muslim minority.

21 Jan 2010

43 per cent of Americans say they feel some negative prejudice towards Muslims, according to a poll by Gallup.

1 Sept 2010

At the end of a month in which 295 civilians were killed by violence, Barack Obama declares that the US combat mission in Iraq is at an end.

(c) 2010 Robert Fisk --- The Independent

Satan Of The Details
By Uri Avnery

THERE IS a story about the man who dictated his will. He divided his property generously, provided for all the members of his family, rewarded his friends and did not forget his servants.

He finished off with a short paragraph: "In case of my death, this will is null and void."

I RATHER fear that such a paragraph will be added to the "framework agreement" that Binyamin Netanyahu promises to sign within a year, after honest and fruitful negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, mediated by Hillary Clinton, to the greater glory of President Barack Obama.

At the end of 12 months, there will be agreement on a perfect framework. All the "core issues" will be settled - the founding of the Palestinian state, borders based on the Green Line, the division of Jerusalem between two capitals, security arrangements, settlements, refugees, the division of water. Everything.

And then, on the eve of the impressive signing ceremony on the White house lawn, Netanyahu will ask for the addition of a short paragraph: "With the beginning of the negotiations for the permanent peace treaty, this agreement will be null and void."

A FRAMEWORK AGREEMENT is not a peace treaty. It is the opposite of a peace treaty.

A peace treaty is a final agreement. It contains the details of the compromises that have been achieved in long and exhausting negotiations. Neither of the two parties will be completely happy with the results, but each of them will know that he has achieved much and that he can live with it.

After the signing, the time will come for the implementation. Since all the details have been worked out in the treaty itself, there will be no more controversy; except about negligible technicalities. These will be adjudicated by the American referee.

A framework agreement is the very opposite. It leaves all the details open. Every paragraph of it allows for at least a dozen different interpretations, since the agreement glosses over fundamental differences with verbal compromises.

It can well be said that the negotiations for the framework agreement are but the prologue for the real negotiations, a corridor leading to the drawing room.

If a framework agreement is achieved within a year - blessed be the believer - the real negotiations for the final treaty can last for five years, ten years, a hundred years, two hundred years. Ask Yitzhak Shamir.

HOW DO I know? We have already been to this opera.

The Oslo "Declaration of Principles", which was signed 17 years ago minus two days, was such a framework agreement.

At the time it was called a historic agreement, and rightly so. The solemn ceremony on the White House lawn was quite justified. Its importance was derived from the event that preceded it, on September 10 (which happened to be my birthday), when the leader of the Palestinian liberation movement formally recognized the State of Israel, and the Prime Minister of Israel formally recognized the existence of the Palestinian people and its liberation movement.

(This is the place to remark that the 1993 Oslo agreement was hatched behind the backs of the Americans, much as the 1977 Sadat initiative was hatched behind the backs of the Americans. In both cases, history was made without US participation and, indeed, in fear of it. Anwar Sadat decided on his unprecedented flight to Jerusalem without the American ambassador in Cairo knowing anything about it, and the negotiators in Oslo took great care to keep their activities secret. American participation started only very late in the process, when there was already a fait accompli.)

What happened after the two parties signed the Oslo framework, with the trumpets blaring?

Negotiations started.

Negotiations on every detail. Controversy on every detail.

FOR EXAMPLE: the agreement said that four "safe passages" were to be opened between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Israel fulfilled this undertaking thus: along the proposed passages, eye-catching road signs were erected, proclaiming in the three languages: "To Gaza". Here and there, such rusting signposts can still be detected.

And the passages? They were never opened.

Another example: in long negotiations, the West Bank was divided into three areas: A, B and C. (Ever since Julius Caesar started his book about the conquest of France with the words: "Gallia is divided into three parts," statesmen have been prone to divide every territory into three.)

Area A was turned over to the Palestinian Authority, which was set up under the agreement, and the Israeli army invades it only from time to time. Area B is governed formally by the Palestinian Authority, but ruled in practice by Israel. Area C, the largest one, remained firmly in the hands of Israel, which acts there as it wishes: expropriates land, sets up settlements, build walls and fences, as well as roads for Jews only.

Furthermore, it was declared that Israel would withdraw ("redeploy") in three stages. Stage 1 was implemented, and so, more or less, was stage 2. Stage 3, the most important one, was not even started.

Some provisions led to farce. For example, there was no agreement about whether the official title of Yasser Arafat would be only "chairman", as demanded by Israel, or "president", as demanded by the Palestinians. Absent agreement, it was set down that in all three languages he would be called "ra'is" - an Arab term that denotes both chairman and president. Last week, Netanyahu addressed Abu Mazen as "President Abbas".

Or the long debate about the Palestinian passport. Israel demanded that it would be only a "travel document", while the Palestinians demanded that it be a full fledged "passport", as befits a real state. It was agreed that on top it would say "travel document", and at the bottom "passport"!

Israel agreed to the setting up of a Palestinian Authority. The Palestinians wanted to call it the "Palestinian National Authority". Israel refused. When the Palestinians, contrary to the agreement, printed stamps with the word "national" on them, they had to be scrapped and new stamps printed.

According to the Oslo agreement, the negotiations about the core issues - borders, Jerusalem, refugees, settlements etc - were to begin in 1994 and end with a permanent peace treaty within five years.

The negotiations did not end by 1999, because they never started.

Why? Very simple: without a real and final agreement, the conflict continued in all its fury. Israel set up settlements at a frantic pace, so as to create "facts on the ground" before the opening of the real negotiations. The Palestinians started violent attacks, in order to speed the Israelis on their way out, believing that "Israel understands only the language of force".

The devil who - as is well known - resides in the details, took revenge on those who postponed the decision on the details. Every detail turned into a road mine on the way to peace.

That is the nature of a framework agreement: it allows for negotiations about every single issue again and again, starting every time from the beginning. The Israeli negotiators used this possibility to the hilt: each Israeli "concession" was sold in successive negotiations again and again. First in the negotiations for the "Declaration of Principles", then in the negotiations for interim agreements, we will sell them again, to be sure, for a third, fourth and fifth time in the negotiations for the permanent agreements. Every time for a hefty price.

DOES THIS mean that a Declaration of Principles is worthless?

I would not say so. In diplomacy, declarations are important even if they are not accompanied by immediate acts. They turn up again and again. Words that have been spoken cannot be unspoken, even though they are only words. The genie cannot be returned to the bottle.

When the Israeli government recognized the Palestinian people, it put an end to an argument that had dominated Zionist propaganda for almost a hundred years: that there isn't, and never has been, a Palestinian people. "There is no such thing'" as the (alas) unforgettable Golda Meir repeatedly declared.

When the Palestinians recognized the State of Israel, this caused a revolution in the Arab world's perceptions, a revolution that cannot be turned back.

When the leader of the Israeli Right recognizes, before the entire world, the "two states for two peoples" solution, he draws a line from which there is no way back. Even if he says so without really meaning it, as a gimmick for the moment, the words have a life of their own. They have become a political fact: from here on no Israeli government can turn back.

That's why the extreme rightists were correct when they recently accused Netanyahu of executing - God forbid! - the "Uri Avnery design." They do not want to pay me a compliment, they want to condemn him. It's like accusing the pope of acting in the service of the Ayatollahs.

If Netanyahu would be compelled in the end to sign a "framework agreement" or a "shelf agreement" saying that a Palestinian state will be set up on the June 4, 1967 borders with its capital in East Jerusalem, with limited swaps of territory, it would direct every future diplomatic process. However, I do not believe that he will sign, and even if he did - that does not mean that he would implement it.

THEREFORE I insist: there should be no agreement on a process that is designed to lead to a "declaration of principles" or a "framework agreement".

There should be - here and now! - negotiations for a full and final peace treaty.

Satan resides in framework agreements. God resides - if anywhere - in a peace treaty.
(c) 2010 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Queenmaker Palin Triumphs With Christine O'Donnell
By Matthew Rothschild

Democrats shouldn't crow too loudly about Christine O'Donnell's Republican primary victory for the open Senate seat in Delaware.

Yeah, she's nuts.

That's all the Tea Party serves up is a bowl of mixed nuts. It's gotten so bad that the Planters corporation is suing for product defamation.

O'Donnell is especially odd on the matter of sex. She's on record saying condoms don't prevent AIDS, that AIDS victims shouldn't be called "victims," and that masturbation is bad, bad, bad.

Yes, O'Donnell's upset will make it more likely for the Democrats to win the Senate seat there, and thus hang on to majority control of that chamber. But don't count her out, since hard-core conservatives are going to show up in huge numbers on November 2, no matter what.

Even if, as expected, she loses the campaign, O'Donnell represents the rise of the far right in America. She was correct when she said, in her victory speech, that she's riding a wave.

It's a wave with a dangerous undertow, and it could take our democracy away with it.

Her victory on Tuesday was another triumph for Sarah Palin, who's proving to be quite the queenmaker.

Palin's endorsements have paid off dramatically, and with every new one, it seems more and more possible that she could actually win the Republican nomination. Already, she has the highest favorability ratings among the leading candidates, and her unfavorables were comparable to Romney's. It is Palin, more than any other Republican figure in the country, who senses the moment and is seizing it.

Some Democrats think that's great, on the assumption that, as the Republican nominee, she'd have no chance of beating Obama.

But be careful what you wish for. She'd start with about 40 percent of the voters who can't stand Obama. And she wouldn't have far to go to make it a race. If the economy continues to stall, who knows?
(c)2010 Matthew Rothschild is the editor of The Progressive magazine.

Steve May, right, a Republican, recruited three street people, from left, Thomas Meadows,
Anthony Goshorn and Benjamin Pearcy, to run as Green Party candidates in Arizona.

Political Street Theater? Homeless Candidates Run in Arizona
By Randall Amster

A 20-year-old street kid who lists his business as "busking" is running for a seat on the Arizona Corporation Commission, which oversees public utilities, railroad safety and securities regulation. A 27-year-old tarot card reader with less than a dollar to his name is running for State Treasurer. And a bushy-bearded pedicab driver known as "Grandpa" is running for State Senate. This could almost be an inspirational story, except for one small detail: It's Arizona, circa 2010, where no political trick is too low to be attempted.

In this case, these three "street people" from Tempe, Arizona, have been recruited by Republican operatives to run as Green Party candidates, as recently reported in the New York Times. One of the main architects of this crass ploy is Steve May, a former Republican state legislator who is himself on the ballot this fall. The three homeless candidates all list the local Starbucks as their campaign office, and May performed some political theater there for reporters by shouting out to each one, "Are you fake?" in reference to the apparently sham nature of their candidacies.

The story has since been going viral, with commentators ranging from the DC Examiner to the Dallas Morning News decrying the Republicans' tactics. The scam works because of a quirk in Arizona law that allows individuals to appear on the general ballot if they receive even a single vote (their own, perhaps) in an open primary without an official minor party nominee. Republicans were able to place stealth candidates on the roster in a number of contests around the state - knowing that some left-leaning voters will choose the Green candidate without further inspecting their actual views and values, which could be sufficient to tip the balance in close races toward the Republicans. Under the state's Clean Elections law, these calculating efforts even wind up being funded by the taxpayers, and the political operatives listing themselves as campaign managers for the sham candidates could be paid for their electoral shenanigans.

It's a compelling story with a number of tragic angles that have been largely ignored in the clamor. One is May's apparent descent from his previous reputation as a comparatively "honorable, well-respected" politician, garnered following his disclosure on the Arizona House floor of his homosexuality - which led to his ouster from the U.S. Army and a national spotlight shined on the plight of gays in the military.

The other sad aspect to this story is the blatant exploitation of the homeless for political purposes. On the surface, the notion of homeless people running for office could be seen as a laudable display of democracy and equality in action. But when orchestrated in this manner - the candidates all filed on the eve of the primaries, for instance - it is little more than another denigration of people's character and dignity. The fact that it was a Republican putting them up to run on the Green Party line further indicates the inherently farcical nature of the whole sad affair.

How did this happen? Were the homeless willing participants, or themselves victims of a scam? To answer this, a bit of background on the homeless enclave known colloquially (and somewhat affectionately, in a begrudging way) as the "Mill Rats" is in order. They frequent Mill Avenue in downtown Tempe (hence the name), and are generally a colorful, loose-knit community made up of homeless youth, older street people, and wannabes who gravitate toward this small slice of "urban culture" in an otherwise gentrified and sterilized environment. The Mill Rats tend to be politically cynical, openly sarcastic, and self-consciously anachronistic as they frequent the tony downtown drag that abuts the university district.

While generalizations are never completely accurate, I can claim to know at least a bit about this particular street community, since my 2008 book Lost in Spacee was based on a case study of homelessness in Tempe. Granted, much has changed in the years since I did the research for this work, and yet evidence suggests that the same anarchistic, sardonic spirit is evident among these homeless candidates - potentially offering a partial explanation for why they might jump at the chance to muck up local politics, as described by the Times:

Dressed up spiffily, [Mr. Pearcy] described himself as the illegitimate son of a stripper who had had run-ins with the law and a tough childhood but who had pulled his life together. "I've been homeless," he said, his eyes darting back and forth. "I got a place. Anyone can do it. We're all good enough." There was nodding all around, more than when he went into his pitch to solve the budget deficit through the installation of solar panels.

Reading tarot cards has taught Mr. Meadows, who is known for his purple and green jester hat, to talk a good game. "This is not the land of the free," he told the loungers on the sidewalk, pitching himself for treasurer. "It's the land of what's for sale."

Grandpa, widely known in the area through the pedicab he drives for hire, is against higher taxes and for God in the classroom. The other night, he was supposed to debate his Democratic and Republican rivals in the race but after seeing only the Democrat on stage, he decided to watch from the back. "I got a bad vibe," he said.

In response to all of this chicanery, the Arizona Green Party has sued in federal court to block the candidacies of 11 office-seekers, including the homeless candidates, alleging that they are shams who are "not standard bearers for the Greens." Frankly, it would make more sense to me if the Green Party embraced candidates such as Mssrs. Pearcy, Meadows and "Grandpa" rather than seeking to remove them from the ballot. This would make a strong statement about political equity and social justice, and would further thwart the Republicans' plan by bringing actual (not fake) dignity to the homeless.

Hey, after all, it's Arizona. Maybe someday the homeless will run the State House, and then immediately pass a social welfare platform that drives Republicans into a tizzy. Now that would be the sort of change we could finally believe in, here in the land of desert mirages and ephemeral politics.
(c) 2010 Randall Amster J.D., Ph.D., teaches peace studies at Prescott College and serves as the executive director of the Peace & Justice Studies Association. His most recent book is the co-edited volume "Building Cultures of Peace: Transdisciplinary Voices of Hope and Action" (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009).

Offshoring America's Legal Jobs
Maybe you're one of the thousands of young lawyers in America working in some low-skill, part-time job because law firms have cut so many of the starting positions you were educated to take. If so, I have good news: Jobs for young lawyers are now mushrooming in companies that provide legal services to U.S. corporations.

Unfortunately, you'll have to move to India to get one. And the pay will be - how shall I put this? - "disappointing."

Lawyering has become the latest category of good jobs disappearing from our Land of the Free as corporate chieftains continue to offshore the American workplace. Wall Street banks, insurance corporations, mining giants, and others are shipping more and more of their law business to Pangea3, CPA Global, UnitedLex, and other rapidly expanding legal outsourcing outfits in India.

In the past five years the number of these upstart firms has more than tripled, with each one offering from a few dozen to hundreds of young Indian law school graduates. These eager legal beagles are hunkered down in corporate cubicles, ready to write contracts, review legal documents, and - increasingly - to handle the more sophisticated chores of case management and regulatory filings that corporations have been entrusting to more experienced American lawyers.

Even though U.S. corporations have amassed record levels of profits and cash reserves, they are offshoring their legal work simply because it puts even more money in their pockets. They can pay Indian lawyers as little as a tenth of what they'd pay young American attorneys - and the 90-percent wage difference goes to the corporation, rather than being spread through our economy as family incomes.

It's another move by the corporate elite to separate their expanding fortunes from the well-being of America's middle class - and from the well being of America itself.
(c) 2010 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition.

The Neoliberal Bait-And-Switch
By David Sirota

In simplistic, Lexus-and-Olive-Tree terms, the neoliberal economic argument goes like this: Tariff-free trade policies are great because they increase commerce, and we can mitigate those policies' negative effects on the blue-collar job market by upgrading our education system to cultivate more science, technology, engineering and math (referred to as STEM) specialists for the white-collar sector.

Known as the bipartisan Washington Consensus, this deceptive theory projects the illusion of logic. After all, if the domestic economy's future is in STEM-driven innovation, then it stands to reason that trade policies shedding low-tech work and education policies promoting high-tech skills could guarantee success.

Of course, 30 years into the neoliberal experiment, the Great Recession is exposing the flaws of the Washington Consensus. But rather than admit any mistakes, neoliberals now defend themselves with yet more bait-and-switch sophistry - this time in the form of the Great Education Myth.

No doubt, you've heard this fairytale from prominent politicians and business leaders who incessantly insist that our economic troubles do not emanate from neoliberals' corporate-coddling trade, tax and deregulatory policies, but instead from an education system that is supposedly no longer graduating enough STEM experts. Indeed, this was the message of this week's New York Times story about corporate leaders saying America isn't producing "enough workers with the cutting-edge skills coveted by tech firms."

As usual, it sounds vaguely logical. Except, the lore relies on the assumptions that 1) American schools aren't generating enough STEM supply to meet employer demand, 2) the education system - not neoliberalism - is driving this alleged STEM drought and 3) if America came up with more of such specialists, they would find jobs.

To know these suppositions are preposterous is to consider a recent study by Rutgers and Georgetown University that found colleges "in the United States actually graduate many more STEM students than are hired each year."

That debunks the supply-and-demand canard. But can we still blame the jobs crisis on schools failing to deliver more STEM graduates?


As researchers discovered, many students are pursuing finance instead of STEM careers because Wall Street jobs "are higher paying" and offer "employment stability" and "less susceptib(ility) to offshoring."

This is the truth that the Great Education Myth aims to obscure. It's not that schools are ill-equipped to train STEM specialists. It's that the additional students who might boost our STEM workforce are choosing to avoid STEM majors because they see an economy that is more hospitable to careers in Wall Street casinos rather than in high-tech innovation - a financialized economy based less on creating tangible assets than on encouraging worthless speculation.

This doesn't mean that our education system is perfect. But it does mean that without reforming the trade, tax and regulatory policies that reward high-tech outsourcing and incentivize careers in finance, our schools can never be an engine of value-generating information-age jobs.

Why, then, do neoliberals nonetheless press the Great Education Myth? Because it deliberately distracts from a situation that enriches neoliberals and the powerful interests they rely on.

Tariff-free trade pacts inflate the profits of transnational businesses by helping them troll the globe for cheap, exploitable labor. Loopholes exempting foreign earnings from taxes encourage companies to move jobs overseas. And both deregulation and bailouts disproportionately balloon financial industry revenues.

The neoliberal corporate class makes big money off this status quo and neoliberal lawmakers get their cut via campaign contributions. The last thing either wants is an honest debate about neoliberalism's downsides. And so they play to our lust for silver-bullet solutions, endlessly telling us that everything is the schools' fault.

As mythology goes, it's certainly compelling. If only the facts didn't get in the way.
(c) 2010 David Sirota is the author of the best-selling books "Hostile Takeover" and "The Uprising." He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado and blogs at E-mail him at or follow him on Twitter @davidsirota. David is a former spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee.

Beware The Spin Doctors
By James Donahue

When the Teabaggers first hit the streets with their silly hats and misspelled signs we laughed at them. We laughed at the antics of radio and television personality Glenn Beck as he distorted American history and made so many outlandish claims we thought no one could be taking him seriously. We laughed at the behavior of Sarah Palin after her display of ignorance all but destroyed Senator John McCain's chances for winning the presidency in 2008.

But something strange has been happening behind the scenes while we were laughing so hardily at the clowns. It appears that professional spin doctors are busy twisting the minds of a growing number of Americans and making them believe the clowns are reality. Voters are rejecting moderate-thinkers and nominating representatives of the Teabag Express as real Republican candidates for the U.S. House and Senate during the midterm election primaries.

Needless to say, this is starting to make a few political analysts somewhat nervous. Where are voters taking us during this fall's elections? Will they be filling those key elected congressional seats with radical thinking newcomers? Is it a racial rebellion against our nation's first black president?

We understand the anger and frustration. The nation is being hammered by a second great depression, although economists are afraid to admit that. They want to use the phrase "double-dip-recession" to explain the high unemployment, the plunging real estate values and the fact that millions of Americans are either homeless and hungry or on the brink of falling into that state.

The people are blaming Washington for failing to fix the mess they are in, and they are right in doing so. But what they seem to have overlooked, or perhaps forgotten, or maybe ignored altogether in their failure to be informed, is that there has been a strange war occurring in the two houses of our government.

While the Democrats under President Obama have tried to take important steps to repair the damage left by the Bush and Clinton Administrations, they have been cleverly blocked at every turn by the Senate Republicans who used some odd Senate rules to unite and become the "Party of No." Consequently the bills designed to start public works projects, stimulate the economy, provide improved health care and get people working again were watered down to the point where they were ineffective. Most recently the Republicans have succeeded in blocking efforts to free small business loans.

While watching this peculiar ongoing tug-of-war during the first two years of the Obama presidency, there has been a general contention among Washington insiders that the public will certainly rebel and kick the troublemakers out of office this fall. What was expected was that more Democrats would fill those seats so the party would have enough votes to override the Republican filibuster threat that gave them the power to block key legislation.

No one ever expected voters to turn to such radical thinkers as radio and television commentators as Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck to lead them into teabag thinking. No one expected Sarah Palin to rise up to become a voice of the new Republicans and to be seriously considered as a presidential candidate for 2012.

We suspect something sinister afoot. Indeed, why would the Senate Republicans pull such obviously foolish stunts as blocking extended unemployment insurance for hundreds of thousands of Americans, claiming they opposed further increases in the national debt, yet argue fiercely for renewal of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy? Those tax cuts, which affect only the high income earners, are among the causes of the current debt and if extended, will all but bankrupt our nation.

How can voters be seduced into putting such malicious thinking people back into office, or replacing them with candidates expressing even more conservative views than these?

Indeed, we think we smell a rat in the pantry. Somewhere behind the curtain lurks a wizard . . . perhaps its Karl Rove, the very man responsible for the dirty tricks that put George W. Bush in office . . . who is pulling the strings. The gamble here is that (a.) American voters are mad and want change, and (b.) those same voters have short memories, and (c.) most voters do not understand the complex workings of the nation's financial system or the workings of Congress and the Senate.

Consequently when people like Glenn Beck stand up on the Lincoln Memorial and call on an all-white band of Teabaggers to "restore America" he is reminding a lot of people of the way things were in the country before 9-11 and before organized criminals got their hands in the public cookie jar.

What Beck and Limbaugh and the other hate-mongers are calling for, however, is a return to an all-white dominated America, the elimination of the black president in the White House, and the election of people to office that are dedicated to keeping the status quo. And the status quo as it is today is unacceptable for all but the wealthy few who hold the keys to the kingdom.

In case you don't know this, both Beck and Limbaugh are among the small number of Americans who wallow in wealth. They have made their money exploiting Americans by planting fear and twisted thinking in the heads of all who listen.
(c) 2010 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.

Scary People, Scary Times
By James Howard Kunstler

In that order. The scary people have already started coming out of the woodwork. The times lately have been mostly uncertain, but soon they'll turn scary, too, as it becomes clearer that the people running things in the USA have no idea what's going on or what they're going to do about it -- and what's going on is an involuntary permanent re-set of the terms of everyday life, from a wet-dream robotic "consumer" techtopia to something more like the first chapter of Tobacco Road, with a family of half-wits reduced by hard times to fighting over a sack of turnips in a roadside ditch. That's the story-arc anyway, and lots of people won't like it. But the theme of dwindling resources is not a pretty one.

The most striking feature of the current scene is the absence of a coherent vision of our multiple related predicaments and how they add up to a valid picture of reality. To be precise, I mean our predicaments of 1.) energy resources, 2.) vanishing capital, and 3.) ecocide. This inability to decode the clear and present dangers to civilized life is a failure of leadership and authority without precedent in the American story.

On the eve of the only other comparable national convulsion -- the lead-up to the Civil War - a strenuous public debate was able to focus on the salient question of the day, namely whether human slavery would continue in this country. Lincoln and Douglas parried for hours in the hot sun, arguing unscripted in complete sentences without the aid of teleprompters or offstage spin doctors. Yet no one above age of nine failed to understand what was at issue.

Note the diminishing returns of technology at work in our time, making it impossible for us to think straight, despite the proliferation of snazzy devices, programs, networks, blog-clouds, and the pervasive, non-stop spewage of so-called information all intended to enhance communication. What did Lincoln have to work with? A pencil.

Today, no one present in the political arena appears to have a clue and, lacking clues, any ability to articulate the terms of what we face. Both major parties are hostage to a peculiar nostalgia, a wish to return to the time when America could dream up any kind of machine or breakfast cereal or techtronic brassiere, and sell the manufactured surplus from our own happily oversold markets to the rest of the clamoring world - even lending them the cash (at interest) to buy the stuff. America makes and the world takes, was the theme song then. That earnest, upward-striving society of Eisenhower simplicity, of well-paid factory workers dreaming of a little summer place at the lake, and the Main Streets bustling in the cheerful early twilight of Christmas Eve, and the Beach Boys crooning about "fun, fun, fun," and purloined German physicists stashed in comfortably aire-kooled rooms, turning a few tossed-off equations into moon-shots, and Bob Hope cracking wise before a nationwide audience of car-dealers and self-satisfied Rotarians - well that America has imploded like a weevil-infested hubbard squash in a back pantry. And all the prayers to Moloch by the Jesus boomers in and out of congress won't make it whole again.

There is no theme song for contraction - at least not one with a hummable tune. The current background music sounds like Stockhausen run through scrap-metal shredder. No wonder everybody's so nervous.

A few hours ago I drove up the immaculately conceived highways north out of Detroit to the drear industrial outlands of Happy Motoring history, north past Flint and Saginaw where an exhausted American Dream is being hunted down by the angry ghosts of the Wyandots. The heartland these days looks like it's preparing for a return trip to the 9th century A.D. Nobody knows what's ailing it, but they're whispering of "last stands" out here around the all-you-can-eat buffet at the year 'round Christmas Shoppe.

And the Tea Party aims to fix all this, to make things right again. I listen to their blather about "freedom" and all I can imagine is the sound of boots outside the door, and men in badly-fitted camo uniforms and buzzcut hair commanding me to accept John Boehner as my personal savior. Pardon me, but I don't see how this will really improve anybody's lot in life.

You can just feel the heat of emotion rising, even as the northern hemisphere cools down. We can't speak clearly anymore; we can only beat drums. All across the land self-appointed saviors are stepping up to heroically rescue the squandered entitlements of the bygone day: Rand Paul, the Kentucky physician who (like his dad) subscribes to the idea that the earth is only about 4000 years old; Dan Maes, the Colorado Tea Party candidate for governor who believes that bicycling is a "gateway drug" to communism; Sharron Angle, the Nevada polymoron running John Birch Society scripts to the psychologically-spavined blackjack dealers crowding the unemployment lines. ("The Trilateral Commission and the Bilderburgers did this to you!"); and lonely Joe Miller, the hermit-attorney of Fairbanks, stalking out of his survivalist cave to drive a silver lance through the flaming heart of the ravening liberal windigo.

They can flap their gums with this nonsense as much as they like, bit it's not likely to clarify things. Maybe this is what death is like: a descent into the dark maw of simply unknowing. No wonder people fear it.
(c) 2010 James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including The Witch of Hebron and World Made by Hand.

"Dizzy With Success"
The Accelerating Degeneration of Life in America's Afghanistan
By Chris Floyd

"Dizzy With Success." That was the phrase used by Stalin to describe the "few excesses" that had taken place in the "historic drive to collectivization," i.e., the Bolshevik war on the rural poor that had led to massive famine and the deaths and uprooting of millions of people. The campaign had left such a swathe of ruin that some of those who saw its effects went mad, or turned dissident, or subsided into horrified, soul-drained silence.

"Dizzy With Success" would be also be an apt description for the epochal ruin that has been visited on the people of Afghanistan in nine years of military occupation by the United States and its European allies. Or as Nick Turse puts it in a searing new article at TomDispatch, "How Much 'Success' Can Afghanistan Stand?"

With the arrival of General David Petraeus as Afghan War commander, there has been ever more talk about the meaning of "success" in Afghanistan. At the end of July, USA Today ran an article titled, "In Afghanistan, Success Measured a Step at a Time." ... A mid-August editorial in the Washington Post was titled: "Making the Case for Success in Afghanistan." And earlier this month, an Associated Press article appeared under the headline, "Petraeus Talks Up Success in Afghan War."

As Turse astutely notes, all this talk of "success" centers on what the term might or might not mean for the bipartisan Potomac poobahs who take turns running America's militarist empire. But the "meaning" of the American occupation for ordinary Afghans is a topic of little note among the talking heads who steer the national "discourse" ... except of course for the occasional propaganda excursion pointing out the inestimable benefits the empire has bestowed upon the poor benighted denizens of Bactria -- and how infinitely worse it will be for them should Washington shirk its paternal obligations.

But the reality, of course, is that the lives of ordinary Afghans has, by almost every measure, been sent hurtling backwards and spiraling downwards at the hands of the Americans and the client state they have installed.

Between 2001 and 2009, according to the Afghan government, the country has received $36 billion in grants and loans from donor nations, with the United States disbursing some $23 billion of it. U.S. taxpayers have anted up another $338 billion to fund the war and occupation. Yet from poverty indexes to risk-of-rape assessments, from childhood mortality figures to drug-use stats, just about every available measure of Afghan wellbeing paints a grim picture of a country in a persistent state of humanitarian crisis, often involving reconstruction and military failures on an epic scale. Pick a measurement affecting ordinary Afghans and the record since November 2001 when Kabul fell to Allied forces is likely to show stagnation or setbacks and, almost invariably, suffering....

In October 2001, the BBC reported that more than seven million people were "at risk of malnutrition or food shortages across Afghanistan." In an email, McDonough updated that estimate: "The most recent data on food insecurity comes from the last National Risk and Vulnerability Assessment (NRVA), which was conducted in 2007/2008 and released in late October 2009. It found that about 7.4 million people are food-insecure, roughly 31 percent of the estimated population. ... Food insecurity indicators, McDonough pointed out, are heading in the wrong direction. "The NRVA of 2007/08 showed that the food security had deteriorated in 25 out of the 34 provinces compared to the 2005 NRVA.

In other words, after a near-decade of American occupation -- and hundreds of billions of dollars ostensibly poured into the country in the form of "aid" that mysteriously ends up almost entirely back in American pockets -- there are more hungry people in Afghanistan than before the invasion, with the situation worsening all the time.

But of course the Terror War is "all about the children," isn't it? Liberating them, protecting them, building them a brighter future.

In 2000, according to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), mortality for children under five years of age stood at 257 per 1,000. In 2008, the last year for which data was available, that number had not budged. It had, in fact, only slightly improved since 1990, when after almost a decade of Soviet occupation and brutal warfare, the numbers stood at 260 per 1,000. The figures were similar for infant mortality -- 168 per 1,000 in 1990, 165 per 1,000 in 2008.

In 2002, according to the U.N., about 50% of Afghan children were chronically malnourished. The most recent comprehensive national survey, done two years into the U.S. occupation, found (according to the World Food Program's McDonough) about 60% of children under five chronically malnourished ...

OK, so the kids aren't doing so good -- but how about the women, eh? We know that the "good war" in Afghanistan has freed millions of women from the yoke of repression, right? Turse:

Life for women in Afghanistan has not been the bed of roses promised by Bush nor typified by the basic rights proffered by Obama, as Jones noted:

"Consider the creeping Talibanization of Afghan life under the Karzai government. Restrictions on women's freedom of movement, access to work and rights within the family have steadily tightened as the result of a confluence of factors, including the neglect of legal and judicial reform and the obligations of international human rights conventions; legislation typified by the infamous Shia Personal Status Law (SPSL), gazetted in 2009 by President Karzai himself despite women's protests and international furor; intimidation; and violence."

Her observations are echoed in a recent report by Medica Mondiale, a German non-governmental organization that advocates for the rights of women and girls in war and crisis zones around the world. As its blunt briefing began, "Nine years after 11 September and the start of the operation 'Enduring Freedom,' which justified its commitment not only with the hunt for terrorists, but also with the fight for women's rights, the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan still is catastrophic." Medica Mondiale reported that 80% of all Afghan marriages are still "concluded under compulsion." ...

A June report by Sudabah Afzali of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting noted that, according to officials in Herat Province, "cases of suicide amongst women... have increased by 50 per cent over the last year." Sayed Naim Alemi, the director of the regional hospital in Herat, noted that 85 cases of attempted suicide recorded in the previous six months had involved women setting themselves on fire or ingesting poison. In 57 of the cases, the women had died.

A study conducted by former Afghan Deputy Health Minister Faizullah Kakar and released in August gave a sense of the breadth of the problem. Using Afghan Health Ministry records and hospital reports, Kakar found that an estimated 2,300 women or girls were attempting suicide each year. Domestic violence, bitter hardships, and mental illness were the leading factors in their decisions. "This is a several-fold increase on three decades ago," said Kakar. In addition, he found that about 1.8 million Afghan women and girls between the ages of 15 and 40 are suffering from "severe depression."

Most of these statistics on the deteriorating situation of Afghan relate to the darkest periods of Taliban rule; that is, the life of women in Afghanistan is steadily become worse than it was even under the obscurantist clerics of the Taliban. We noted this here last month, when highlighting an important article by Bretigne Shaffer:

But yes, there is violence against women in Afghanistan -- great violence. But this has only increased, not decreased, as the American military presence drags on, as Shaffer notes (see original for links):

Says Ann Jones, journalist and author of Kabul in Winter, "For most Afghan women, life has stayed the same. And for a great number, life has gotten much worse."

Sonali Kolhatkar, co-director of the Afghan Women's Mission, says "the attacks against women both external and within the family have gone up. Domestic violence has increased. (The current) judiciary is imprisoning more women than ever before in Afghanistan. And they are imprisoning them for running away from their homes, for refusing to marry the man that their family picked for them, for even being a victim of rape."

Anand Gopal, Afghanistan correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, says "The situation for women in the Pashtun area is actually worse than it was during the Taliban time. ...(U)nder the Taliban, women were kept in burqas and in their homes, away from education. Today, the same situation persists. They're kept in burqas, in homes, away from education, but on top of that they are also living in a war zone."

Note again Kolhatkar's remark: the Afghan government installed and maintained in power by the United States is now "imprisoning more women than ever before in Afghanistan." This is a stunning fact, a glaring example of the relentless degradation that the American war has brought to Afghanistan. Yet this fact is universally ignored by the American media, the American power structure -- and the American people, the latter of whom seem incurably, and disastrously, wed to the myth of the nation's inherent, ineradicable goodness, which imbues its every action and policy abroad.

Oh sure, sometimes "mistakes" are made, sometimes there are "a few excesses," and yes, sometimes, we "fight the wrong war at the wrong time" and can be a bit ham-handed, even "incompetent" in our military operations, but gosh darn it, our intentions are always good (because we are good and cannot be otherwise), and however much we might "blunder" from time to time, we do make things better for those we are trying -- selflessly, altruistically -- to help. It is hard, perhaps impossible to overestimate how deeply ingrained this belief is in the overwhelming majority of Americans. They simply will not give it up, no matter how much evidence of atrocity, ruin and degeneration caused by American policy is laid before them. So there is little hope of any kind of massive public pressure to change America's destructive imperialism ever being brought to bear on the elites who reap so much power and profit from the never-ending carnage.

And power and profit is definitely the name of this not-so-great game. As we noted here a few weeks ago:

[Frida] Berrigan notes the naked profit motive underlying Obama's grand strategy of "Afghanistanization" -- i.e., building up the military and security forces of the American-implanted Afghan government. As in Iraq, the aim is not so much "nation building" as "market building": setting up yet another conduit to pass American taxpayer money directly to weapons dealers:

"What's Hot?" is the title of Vice Adm. Jeffrey Wieranga's blog entry for Jan. 4, 2010. Wieranga is the director of the Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which is charged with overseeing weapons exports, and such pillow talk is evidently more than acceptable - at least when it's about weapons sales. In fact, Wieranga could barely restrain himself that day, adding: "Afghanistan is really HOT!" Admittedly, on that day the temperature in Kabul was just above freezing, but not at the Pentagon, where arms sales to Afghanistan evidently create a lot of heat.

As Wieranga went on to write, the Obama administration's new 2010/2011 budget allocates $6 billion in weaponry for Afghan Security Forces. The Afghans will actually get those weapons for free, but U.S. weapons makers will make real money delivering them at taxpayers' expense and, as the vice admiral pointed out, that "means there is a staggering amount of acquisition work to do."<>

You ain't just whistlin' Dixie, Vice Admiral. There will be "acquisition work" out the wazoo as the war goes on -- and for decades afterward. But of course, these "free" arms sales are just like the samplings that pushers pass around outside the high school gates. Because once the mark is hooked, once the native military and security forces are thoroughly entrenched, they will need constant replenishment with more weapons, new technologies, and more lucrative "training" from American sources, both public and private. This in turn will leave the client state saddled with crippling public debt -- necessitating the usual "shock therapy" of "economic reform," i.e., shredding "inefficient" social programs -- like, education, sanitation, health care, etc. -- and turning the material wealth and natural resources of the country over to a few select private investors, foreign and domestic.

Meanwhile, the ruin of human lives goes on and on, as Turse details:

Rampant depression, among both men and women, has led to self-medication. While opium-poppy cultivation on an almost unimaginable scale in the planet's leading narco-state has garnered headlines since 2001, little attention has been paid to drug use by ordinary Afghans, even though it has been on a steep upward trajectory. ...

"Three decades of war-related trauma, unlimited availability of cheap narcotics, and limited access to treatment have created a major, and growing, addiction problem in Afghanistan," says Antonio Maria Costa, the Executive Director of UNDOC. Since 2005, the number of Afghan opium users nationwide has jumped by 53%, while heroin users have skyrocketed by 140%. According to UNODC's survey, Drug Use in Afghanistan, approximately one million Afghans between the ages of 15 and 64 are addicted to drugs. That adds up to about 8% of the population and twice the global average.

There is much more in Turse's grim catalogue, so you should read the whole thing, if you can stomach it. But I want to point out one more startling fact he has unearthed: After nine years of America's benign and benevolent care, Afghanistan is now, officially, the worst place on earth to live.

In the near-decade since Kabul fell in November 2001, a sizeable majority of Afghans have continued to live in poverty and privation. Measuring such misery may be impossible, but the United Nations has tried to find a comprehensive way to do so nonetheless. Using a Human Poverty Index which "focuses on the proportion of people below certain threshold[s] in regard to a long and healthy life, having access to education, and a decent standard of living," the U.N. found that, comparatively speaking, it doesn't get worse than life in Afghanistan. The nation ranks dead last in its listing, number 135 out of 135 countries. This is what "success" means today in Afghanistan.

The two major military escalations launched by the Peace Laureate have only worsened the security situation, which has lead, inexorably, inevitably, to more and more degradation of life in Afghanistan. But in this, the Great Continuer is only following in the footsteps of his predecessors. Not just his shout-out buddy George W. Bush -- whose Terror War policies he has faithfully replicated and expanded -- but a whole string of temporary imperial managers, going back to Jimmy Carter: the pious, peace-loving Democrat who actually launched the rise of an armed, extremist international "jihad" movement in order to hamstring the Soviets. American presidents poured tens of billions of dollars into arming and funding fringe groups of rabid extremists, training them in terrorist tactics and diligently expanding their organizations.

As we noted here a few weeks ago, quoting an article in Foreign Policy by Mohammad Qayoumi, Afghanistan was not always a land mired in tribalism and obscurantism. Half a century ago, much of the country was striving toward its own form of modernity, where men and women freely mixed, pursued their educations, practiced their professions, even went to the movies, danced to rock-and-roll. It was not a perfect state by any remote stretch of the imagination -- yet compared to the utter hell-hole that we have made out of it over the past few decades, the Afghanistan that Qayoumi once knew was a paradise lost.

(c) 2010 Chris Floyd

Afghan War Lies
By Ted Rall

Support for Occupation Relies on Lies and Spin

There's an exception. It is a limited set of circumstances. If the armies of another nation invade your country, there is no need to resort to lies to sell war. The battle is already joined. The threat is palpable. Anyone with a smidgen of patriotism and/or the instinct of self-preservation will rush to enlist.

Mostly, this does not happen. It sort of happened in 1941, with Pearl Harbor. But Hawaii, itself recently seized by U.S. marines without the thinnest veneer of legality, was merely a distant possession. It sort of happened in 1848 when Mexican troops crossed the Rio Grande (after being deliberately provoked by the Americans). It definitely happened in 1812. But you see the point: every war the United States has fought, at least since 1945 (really since 1814), has been just for fun.

Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Gulf War I, Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq-the U.S. didn't have to fight any of them. They were optional. At minimum, they were wars of imperialism. Mostly, they were wars of aggression: undeclared, immoral, violations of international law.

Lies and spin are essential tools of "leaders" who want to convince the public to support wars for fun and profit.

The war against Afghanistan is no exception. I have previously discussed the Big Lies about Afghanistan: 9/11 came out of Afghanistan, Al Qaeda's training camps were there, bin Laden was there, oil has nothing to do with it, etc. Now let's talk about the little lies.

Lie #1: The war could have been won.

You know the narrative: the Bush Administration never sent in enough troops, then "took their eye off the ball" by invading Iraq and transferring military resources there from Afghanistan.

The truth: More troops would merely have postponed the inevitable defeat, while costing more Afghan and American lives. Remember General Shinseki, fired for telling Congress that Iraq needed at least 300,000 to 400,000 U.S. troops to establish command and control? Afghanistan is about the same population and area as Iraq, but with much tougher terrain: some of the biggest, baddest mountains on the planet. U.S. forces would have had to permanently station at least 500,000 to 600,000 soldiers there. We didn't have them. Still don't.

Sure, we could run up the deficit even higher, hire and train more troops, and pack them off to the Hindu Kush. But Afghan resistance forces would wait us out. Even the U.S. military colossus can't bleed forever. We would have to pare down. Then we'd be back where we are now: humiliated, defeated, broke, morally bankrupt.

Lie #2: Karzai isn't perfect, but he's the best of a bunch of bad alternatives.

The mainstream media began questioning America's backing of the corrupt, incompetent and unpopular Karzai regime after he brazenly stole the most recent presidential election. But they refuse to call for the end of U.S. aid, or for fair elections. Mainly this is because they don't know squat about Afghanistan. But there were always better alternatives.

The best option for a nation that pretends to promote democracy would have been to actually promote democracy. Let the Afghan people choose between any candidates they want-yes, including the Taliban-and pledge to work with the winner no matter what. (This is what the U.S. ought to have done after Hamas won the election in Gaza.) The definition of integrity is doing the right thing even when it hurts; that's also what's required of the U.S. when it's playing Captain Democracy.

Moreover, there were always more palatable choices than Karzai. The exiled king, for example, was far more popular in 2001 than the dapper ex-Talib who fled the country after being accused of embezzlement.

Lie #3: We've got the right strategy/general now.

Now it's Petraeus. Every time the White House shuffles the military brass, they claim that this time it's different. The old strategy that didn't work in 2004, or 2006, or whatever, is dead. We'll use more drones. No, fewer drones. Wait, more.

No general, no matter how brilliant, can save a doomed military campaign. Anyway, neither Petraeus nor the other stuffed uniforms who've paraded in and out of Bagram in recent years are geniuses. Where are the Eisenhowers and Pattons of 2010? They're hedge fund managers.

Lie #4: Nation-building wouldn't have helped.

Bush promised a Marshall Plan for Afghanistan. Now Vice President Biden admits what Afghans have known all along: we're not there to nation-build. We are there to nation break.

Nine years into America's longest war, it's painful to contemplate how the billions poured into Afghanistan-much of which has been siphoned off by Halliburton and other contractors, not to mention flown out of the country by the Karzai clan, might have been better spent.

In 2001 Afghans didn't need much to lay the foundations for a viable nation-state. I asked them. The answers were always the same: they involved infrastructure. Good roads. Electricity. Running water. Government offices. Connect the country's far-flung provinces to the capital, and Afghans would resume their historical role as traders. Security would necessarily follow commerce.

If we were determined to occupy Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks, it ought to have been with construction equipment, not tanks. Even if the Taliban had come to power, it would have been hard for them to talk smack about the U.S. in a nation covered with road signs that read: "Unconditional Gift of the People of the United States to the People of Afghanistan."
(c) 2010 Ted Rall is in Afghanistan to cover the war and research a book. He is the author of the upcoming "The Anti-American Manifesto," to be published in September by Seven Stories Press.

China, Japan, America
By Paul Krugman

Last week Japan's minister of finance declared that he and his colleagues wanted a discussion with China about the latter's purchases of Japanese bonds, to "examine its intention" - diplomat-speak for "Stop it right now." The news made me want to bang my head against the wall in frustration.

You see, senior American policy figures have repeatedly balked at doing anything about Chinese currency manipulation, at least in part out of fear that the Chinese would stop buying our bonds. Yet in the current environment, Chinese purchases of our bonds don't help us - they hurt us. The Japanese understand that. Why don't we?

Some background: If discussion of Chinese currency policy seems confusing, it's only because many people don't want to face up to the stark, simple reality - namely, that China is deliberately keeping its currency artificially weak.

The consequences of this policy are also stark and simple: in effect, China is taxing imports while subsidizing exports, feeding a huge trade surplus. You may see claims that China's trade surplus has nothing to do with its currency policy; if so, that would be a first in world economic history. An undervalued currency always promotes trade surpluses, and China is no different.

And in a depressed world economy, any country running an artificial trade surplus is depriving other nations of much-needed sales and jobs. Again, anyone who asserts otherwise is claiming that China is somehow exempt from the economic logic that has always applied to everyone else.

So what should we be doing? U.S. officials have tried to reason with their Chinese counterparts, arguing that a stronger currency would be in China's own interest. They're right about that: an undervalued currency promotes inflation, erodes the real wages of Chinese workers and squanders Chinese resources. But while currency manipulation is bad for China as a whole, it's good for politically influential Chinese companies - many of them state-owned. And so the currency manipulation goes on.

Time and again, U.S. officials have announced progress on the currency issue; each time, it turns out that they've been had. Back in June, Timothy Geithner, the Treasury secretary, praised China's announcement that it would move to a more flexible exchange rate. Since then, the renminbi has risen a grand total of 1, that's right, 1 percent against the dollar - with much of the rise taking place in just the past few days, ahead of planned Congressional hearings on the currency issue. And since the dollar has fallen against other major currencies, China's artificial cost advantage has actually increased.

Clearly, nothing will happen until or unless the United States shows that it's willing to do what it normally does when another country subsidizes its exports: impose a temporary tariff that offsets the subsidy. So why has such action never been on the table?

One answer, as I've already suggested, is fear of what would happen if the Chinese stopped buying American bonds. But this fear is completely misplaced: in a world awash with excess savings, we don't need China's money - especially because the Federal Reserve could and should buy up any bonds the Chinese sell.

It's true that the dollar would fall if China decided to dump some American holdings. But this would actually help the U.S. economy, making our exports more competitive. Ask the Japanese, who want China to stop buying their bonds because those purchases are driving up the yen.

Aside from unjustified financial fears, there's a more sinister cause of U.S. passivity: business fear of Chinese retaliation.

Consider a related issue: the clearly illegal subsidies China provides to its clean-energy industry. These subsidies should have led to a formal complaint from American businesses; in fact, the only organization willing to file a complaint was the steelworkers union. Why? As The Times reported, "multinational companies and trade associations in the clean energy business, as in many other industries, have been wary of filing trade cases, fearing Chinese officials' reputation for retaliating against joint ventures in their country and potentially denying market access to any company that takes sides against China."

Similar intimidation has surely helped discourage action on the currency front. So this is a good time to remember that what's good for multinational companies is often bad for America, especially its workers.

So here's the question: Will U.S. policy makers let themselves be spooked by financial phantoms and bullied by business intimidation? Will they continue to do nothing in the face of policies that benefit Chinese special interests at the expense of both Chinese and American workers? Or will they finally, finally act? Stay tuned.
(c) 2010 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

"A little opium and a lot of democracy is good for any country!"
~~~ Benjamin Franklin

Do Not Pity The Democrats
By Chris Hedges

There are no longer any major institutions in American society, including the press, the educational system, the financial sector, labor unions, the arts, religious institutions and our dysfunctional political parties, which can be considered democratic. The intent, design and function of these institutions, controlled by corporate money, are to bolster the hierarchical and anti-democratic power of the corporate state. These institutions, often mouthing liberal values, abet and perpetuate mounting inequality. They operate increasingly in secrecy. They ignore suffering or sacrifice human lives for profit. They control and manipulate all levers of power and mass communication. They have muzzled the voices and concerns of citizens. They use entertainment, celebrity gossip and emotionally laden public-relations lies to seduce us into believing in a Disneyworld fantasy of democracy.

The menace we face does not come from the insane wing of the Republican Party, which may make huge inroads in the coming elections, but the institutions tasked with protecting democratic participation. Do not fear Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin. Do not fear the tea party movement, the birthers, the legions of conspiracy theorists or the militias. Fear the underlying corporate power structure, which no one, from Barack Obama to the right-wing nut cases who pollute the airwaves, can alter. If the hegemony of the corporate state is not soon broken we will descend into a technologically enhanced age of barbarism.

Investing emotional and intellectual energy in electoral politics is a waste of time. Resistance means a radical break with the formal structures of American society. We must cut as many ties with consumer society and corporations as possible. We must build a new political and economic consciousness centered on the tangible issues of sustainable agriculture, self-sufficiency and radical environmental reform. The democratic system, and the liberal institutions that once made piecemeal reform possible, is dead. It exists only in name. It is no longer a viable mechanism for change. And the longer we play our scripted and absurd role in this charade the worse it will get. Do not pity Barack Obama and the Democratic Party. They will get what they deserve. They sold the citizens out for cash and power. They lied. They manipulated and deceived the public, from the bailouts to the abandonment of universal health care, to serve corporate interests. They refused to halt the wanton corporate destruction of the ecosystem on which all life depends. They betrayed the most basic ideals of democracy. And they, as much as the Republicans, are the problem.

"It is like being in a pit," Ralph Nader told me when we spoke on Saturday. "If you are four feet in the pit you have a chance to grab the top and hoist yourself up. If you are 30 feet in the pit you have to start on a different scale."

All resistance will take place outside the arena of electoral politics. The more we expand community credit unions, community health clinics and food cooperatives and build alternative energy systems, the more empowered we will become.

"To the extent that these organizations expand and get into communities where they do not exist, we will weaken the multinational goliath, from the banks to the agribusinesses to the HMO giants and hospital chains," Nader said.

The failure of liberals to defend the interests of working men and women as our manufacturing sector was dismantled, labor unions were destroyed and social services were slashed has proved to be a disastrous and fatal misjudgment. Liberals, who betrayed the working class, have no credibility. This is one of the principle reasons the anti-war movement cannot attract the families whose sons and daughters are fighting and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan. And liberal hypocrisy has opened the door for a virulent right wing. If we are to reconnect with the working class we will have to begin from zero. We will have to rebuild the ties with the poor and the working class which the liberal establishment severed. We will have to condemn the liberal class as vociferously as we condemn the right wing. And we will have to remain true to the moral imperative to foster the common good and the tangible needs of housing, health care, jobs, education and food.

We will, once again, be bombarded in this election cycle with messages of fear from the Democratic Party-designed, in the end, to serve corporate interests. "Better Barack Obama than Sarah Palin," we will be told. Better the sane technocrats like Larry Summers than half-wits like John Bolton. But this time we must resist. If we express the legitimate rage of the dispossessed working class as our own, if we denounce and refuse to cooperate with the Democratic Party, we can begin to impede the march of the right-wing trolls who seem destined to inherit power. If we again prove compliant we will discredit the socialism we should be offering as an alternative to a perverted Christian and corporate fascism.

The tea party movement is, as Nader points out, "a conviction revolt." Most of the participants in the tea party rallies are not poor. They are small-business people and professionals. They feel that something is wrong. They see that the two parties are equally responsible for the subsidies and bailouts, the wars and the deficits. They know these parties must be replaced. The corporate state, whose interests are being championed by tea party leaders such as Palin and Dick Armey, is working hard to make sure the anger of the movement is directed toward government rather than corporations and Wall Street. And if these corporate apologists succeed, a more overt form of corporate fascism will emerge without a socialist counterweight.

"Poor people do not organize," Nader lamented. "They never have. It has always been people who have fairly good jobs. You don't see Wal-Mart workers massing anywhere. The people who are the most militant are the people who had the best blue-collar jobs. Their expectation level was high. When they felt their jobs were being jeopardized they got really angry. But when you are at $7.25 an hour you want to hang on to $7.25 an hour. It is a strange thing."

"People have institutionalized oppressive power in the form of surrender," Nader said. "It is not that they like it. But what are you going to do about it? You make the best of it. The system of control is staggeringly dictatorial. It breaks new ground and innovates in ways no one in human history has ever innovated. You start in American history where these corporations have influence. Then they have lobbyists. Then they run candidates. Then they put their appointments in top government positions. Now, they are actually operating the government. Look at Halliburton and Blackwater. Yesterday someone in our office called the Office of Pipeline Safety apropos the San Bruno explosion in California. The press woman answered. The guy in our office saw on the screen that she had CTR next to her name. He said, 'What is CTR?' She said, 'I am a contractor.' He said, 'This is the press office at the Department of Transportation. They contracted out the press office?' 'Yes,' she said, 'but that's OK, I come to work here every day.' "

"The corporate state is the ultimate maturation of American-type fascism," Nader said. "They leave wide areas of personal freedom so that people can confuse personal freedom with civic freedom-the freedom to go where you want, eat where you want, associate with who you want, buy what you want, work where you want, sleep when you want, play when you want. If people have given up on any civic or political role for themselves there is a sufficient amount of elbow room to get through the day. They do not have the freedom to participate in the decisions about war, foreign policy, domestic health and safety issues, taxes or transportation. That is its genius. But one of its Achilles' heels is that the price of the corporate state is a deteriorating political economy. They can't stop their greed from getting the next morsel. The question is, at what point are enough people going to have a breaking point in terms of their own economic plight? At what point will they say enough is enough? When that happens, is a tea party type enough or [Sen. Robert M.] La Follette or Eugene Debs type of enough?"

It is anti-corporate movements as exemplified by the Scandinavian energy firm Kraft&Kultur that we must emulate. Kraft&Kultur sells electricity exclusively from solar and water power. It has begun to merge clean energy with cultural events, bookstores and a political consciousness that actively defies corporate hegemony.

The failure by the Obama administration to use the bailout and stimulus money to build public works such as schools, libraries, roads, clinics, highways, public transit and reclaiming dams, as well as create green jobs, has snuffed out any hope of serious economic, political or environmental reform coming from the centralized bureaucracy of the corporate state. And since the government did not hire enough auditors and examiners to monitor how the hundreds of billions in taxpayer funds funneled to Wall Street are being spent, we will soon see reports of widespread mismanagement and corruption. The rot and corruption at the top levels of our financial and political systems, coupled with the increasing deprivation felt by tens of millions of Americans, are volatile tinder for a horrific right-wing backlash in the absence of a committed socialist alternative.

"If you took a day off and did nothing but listen to Hannity, Beck and Limbaugh and realized that this goes on 260 days a year, you would see that it is overwhelming," Nader said. "You have to almost have a genetic resistance in your mind and body not to be affected by it. These guys are very good. They are clever. They are funny. They are emotional. It beats me how Air America didn't make it, except it went after [it criticized] corporations, and corporations advertise. These right-wingers go after government, and government doesn't advertise. And that is the difference. It isn't that their message appeals more. Air America starved because it could not get ads."

We do not have much time left. And the longer we refuse to confront corporate power the more impotent we become as society breaks down. The game of electoral politics, which is given legitimacy by the right and the so-called left on the cable news shows, is just that-a game. It diverts us from what should be our daily task-dismantling, piece by piece, the iron grip that corporations hold over our lives. Hope is a word that is applicable only to those who grasp reality, however bleak, and do something meaningful to fight back-which does not include the farce of elections and involvement in mainstream political parties. Hope is about fighting against the real forces of destruction, not chanting "Yes We Can!" in rallies orchestrated by marketing experts, television crews, pollsters and propagandists or begging Obama to be Obama. Hope, in the hands of realists, spreads fear into the black heart of the corporate elite. But hope, real hope, remains thwarted by our collective self-delusion.
(c) 2010 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. He is the author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. His latest book is, "Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle."

I Have A Dream, 2010 Version
By David Michael Green

This week, Barack Obama called for a $50 billion spending program to launch a long-term public works infrastructure upgrade of road, rail, airport and other transportation facilities over the next six years.

According to coverage in the New York Times, "officials said that, under the best case scenario, if Congress acts quickly, the plan could start creating jobs over the course of 2011. But the officials emphasized that the White House does not view the proposal as a 'stimulus, immediate jobs plan,' calling it instead a 'six-year reauthorization that's front-loaded.'

"With only a few weeks of this year's Congressional session left before lawmakers head home to campaign for re-election, the White House concedes it may face an uphill battle in getting the plan passed this fall, either before lawmakers break for the mid-terms or afterward, in a lame-duck session. Typically, transportation measures do get bipartisan support, but they often require months of work."

Hmm. Like Martin Luther King before him, it would appear that Barack Obama truly has a dream.

And look at how much our dreams have shrunk in forty years. King dreamed of a society in which people were judged by the content of their character without regard to the color of their skin. Barack Obama has a dream about being able to scratch together a few nickels so that the country can do what it manifestly should have been doing decades ago.

And look, as well, at how much we've shrunk as a country. A substantial chunk of King's magisterial dream has already come true (with, of course, much yet to be done). Obama's puny one is dead on arrival.

I can't imagine what the guy was even thinking.

It's a dream to believe Republicans would agree to anything whatsoever at this point, after they've blocked every possible initiative they could, so why is he still indulging that fantasy?

It's dream, now that Obama has helped Democrats boot away Teddy Kennedy's seat in liberal Massachusetts, that Republicans would even let this plan come up for a vote in the Senate.

It's a total and complete dream to believe that they would do so right before an election.

It's a dream to believe, with the administration having completely blown the national discourse these last two years, that the public would favor any further government spending now.

It's even a dream to imagine members of Obama's own party passing this legislation in the current political environment.

And it's a dream to think that it would matter if they did. Obama is the great master of far too little, far too late, and far too poorly done - when and if it's done at all.

So many dreams. Given the president's evident desire to indulge deeply in hallucination, I say if he wants to dream, why doesn't he let himself go...?

Why doesn't he just dream that the economy will double in size overnight? It would be so much easier than doing the hard work of actually building it. It would be so much easier than having to show the political muscle necessary to make things happen in the current environment.

Why doesn't he just dream that Planet Earth will grow a thermostat - right near the Potomac for that matter - so he can just reach over and turn down the temperature? It would be so much easier than actually leading the battle necessary to stop a handful of global-scale predators from getting rich by cooking life forms on this planet out of existence.

Why doesn't he just dream that regressives will fall down on their knees and ask the country's forgiveness for ripping it off blind over thirty years and running?

Why doesn't he just dream that Iraqis will forget about a millennium of ethno-religious conflict and just make nice with each other next week?

Why not dream that Islam disappears from the planet? Maybe then America could win in Afghanistan.

Why not dream that Judaism disappears from the planet? Maybe then the settlers will unsettle the West Bank and Obama's pathetic Middle East peace initiative could actually work.

Why not dream that Christianity disappears from the planet? Maybe then we Americans could all start thinking, rather than just fearing, hating and killing.

Why doesn't he just dream that it was January 2009 again, and he could have a do-over?

I watched Obama's press conference this week, and I was reminded again of what a misfit he is for the presidency, and what a misfit he is for our time. He doesn't seem to get the concept that an effective president has to get in fights. He doesn't seem to understand that there are genuine enemies to the public interest out there (and, mostly, that they're not to be found overseas). He doesn't seem to understand that the reason presidents have to get into fights is because these enemies exist, because they are ruthless and entirely sociopathic, and because their victories are the public's losses.

Instead, there was Barack at his latest public event, demonstrating once again how it is possible for abysmal communication skills to reside within the body of a sometimes gifted communicator. There was the halting, ineffective, delivery. There was the blood-drained absence of passion on topics where the expression of some serious outrage is not only not a bad thing - as he seems to believe - but would be eminently healthy and highly welcome. There was the president almost never taking the opportunity to grab the bully pulpit, stake out the ethical high ground, show the kind of leadership that the public always craves from its chief executive, and deliver a moral lecture to call us to our senses. There he was continuing to treat the oligarchy of this country and their Republican marionettes not as predatory enemies of the people, but rather as nice, well-intentioned folks who have a slightly different but just as respectable a set of ideas from his. There was the president ducking difficult questions about his own previous assertions, hiding from the word "stimulus", and almost never grabbing affirmative control of the discourse and the agenda. And there he was, frankly, looking altogether and all-too-often rather annoyed with the whole business.

Watching performances like that, I frequently find myself really wondering why this guy ever sought the presidency. Getting there is one of the most physically and emotionally difficult things a person can do. It's one of the biggest mountains there is to climb. So why did he go through all that just to be a placeholder president? Why succeed at campaigning only to tank at governing? Why be a historically great candidate only to have history regard you as a failed president?

Notwithstanding this repeat of yet another rather tepid public performance, there's lots of media buzz this week that "Obama is back!", because of one or two speeches he gave recently. For example, here are the opening lines from an email blast just sent from the folks at "Dear MoveOn Member: Remember what it felt like to watch Barack Obama back when he was Candidate Obama? Seeing him fired up and ready to go in front of a crowd of 20,000? Well, as of this week, that Obama's back. On Wednesday, he gave a feisty, tough speech that showed just how irresponsible Republicans have been, how crazy it'd be to give them back control of Congress this fall, and what he proposes to do to get our economy back on track."

You know, this whole concept just infuriates me beyond belief. Let's just take the best case scenario here, to start with. Let's just say that over the last two years Barack O'Bambi was too nice a guy, too committed to changing the bitter partisanship in Washington, too much a believer in the healing powers of his own magical self. That is the best case scenario - the most generous interpretation of this failed presidency - and even that is enough to disgust me to the bone. Sorry, but I don't want a president that shockingly naive.

Our national problem isn't that we honorably disagree over two equally respectable philosophies of governance and therefore don't get along because we're all such good citizens that our passionate commitment to the public weal as we each see it best pursued leads us to be occasionally intemperate. No. Our problem is that there is a group of elite raptors who are seeking to vacuum every ounce of wealth out of the pockets of the other 99 percent of us and scoop it into their own pockets instead, and that they've employed a set of politician stooges who have in the last several decades jettisoned all meaningful behavioral limitations on what they're willing to do to achieve those ends. In that sense, the idea of some religious crackpot cracker in Florida burning the Koran isn't some bizarre anomaly. It is, instead, precisely the logical outcome of a set of politics in which you have "mainstream" members of Congress challenging the president's very nationality and his religion, calling him a socialist, and accusing him of legislating death panels to kill grannies. It is precisely what we should expect to have happened. It is precisely the product of three decades of Atwater/Gingrich/Rove style politics.

These (alleged) people cannot be negotiated with, because they are not interested in public policy-making that is in the national interest. That's not their mission, and only a naive fool or someone who had spent the last thirty years underground excavating the seventh moon of Jupiter would fail to understand that. Changing the tone in Washington - which, in any case, is always a far secondary aspiration relative to getting people jobs, protecting the environment, ending criminal wars, and so on - simply will never happen until all the bomb-throwers and barrier-builders in Congress are driven from the temple, and until political aspirants across the land get the message that whatever form of McCarthyism du jour they are contemplating employing in order to get elected will cost them more votes than it will gain them. Neville Chamberlain is almost universally despised and derided today for trying to negotiate with Hitler. Which part of that lesson do you not get, Barack?

But, of course, this is only the most charitable interpretation of how Obama's presidency might be explained. The second-to-the-worst-case scenario is that he has exactly the same masters as Republicans do, but is simply a bit nicer fellow than they are in terms of implementing their common plutocratic objectives.

Which leaves the very-worst-case scenario, being the same oligarchy-serving Obama just described, with the added bonus of a boundless cynicism. This Obama governs in the interest of the overclass, but shows up on your television set three months before every election talking like some sort of progressive champion of the people.

I suspect that's what we're looking at right now, and it makes my eyes bleed. Like many progressives, I feel duped by the Obama of 2008. (I know there are many other lefties out there who think that any of us were fools to believe that Obama might have done great things as president, but I think those folks were wrong to assume that. I'm quite sure they would have said at least as much in 1932 about the theretofore aristocratic, safely uncontroversial and careerist Franklin Roosevelt. But look how that turned out. FDR became a "traitor to his class" and turned crises into great progressive achievements. LBJ - a Texan, for chrissakes - did much the same during his at-bat. Obama had at least as much potential to join that club.)

I'm furious enough at Obama for squandering opportunity, for taking care of the privileged and allowing the rest of us to suffer, for reviving the monsters of the right instead of finishing the job of crushing them, and for setting back the cause of policies and ideas I care passionately about. But it adds massive insult to injury for him to turn around and come, hat in hand, back to the people who put him into office, singing his populist song right before an election.

Maybe he's even sincere. Maybe even slow-learning Obama has truly learned a lesson and turned a corner. Maybe. But how do I and tens of millions of people like me know that? How do we know that if we were to drag our weary butts to the voting booth to endorse his party again, that Progressive Barack won't bait and switch us once more, disappearing for another two years in favor of Corporate Obama, only to resurface just in time for the next election?

Screw that. I'm way too pissed off to take the remotest chance of that happening. The irony of Obama is that nothing has so distanced me from the Democratic Party than the great socialist himself. Even another John Kerry-style yawner in 2008 would have done far less damage to my nearly non-existent affections for the party at that point. Let's face it - among progressives, the Democrats had been living off of a combination of reputational inertia and the endless insanities of the alternative Republicans for three or four decades leading up to the last election. However, because Obama was no ordinary politician engaged in ordinary, cheap campaign rhetoric, because he came to office at a time of crisis - thus opening the door to more serious reforms than would otherwise be possible - and because the right had so badly repudiated their own politics, I believed there was a real chance this time could be different, just as it was under LBJ and FDR.

And there was, indeed, a real chance. It's just that Obama booted it. The result has been disastrous all around. I know I speak for many in saying that I can't imagine ever trusting him with my vote again. I don't even expect to vote Democratic again in my lifetime. The exception would be if the left were to do what the far right has done to the GOP - namely, hijack the party. That might happen, but I don't it see it on the horizon right now, that's for sure.

As for Obama, it's hard to imagine any way in which he has not sealed his fate as a one-term president, and one of the great failures in that high office. He's the James Buchanan of our time - the milquetoast who faced great crises but brought only tepid, conventional, status quo and restrained solutions to the table. He has failed, just as Buchanan failed, and he will likely therefore join Buchanan on the list of the lousiest presidents.

Obama is going to get whacked hard in November, and this election will be a more personal repudiation of the president than are most mid-terms. It will be widely seen as his loss more than the party's. He will have three choices at that point. He can make little strategic change and keep his existing politics. But the pressures from within and without to alter course will be too enormous for that to be likely.

Second, he can turn to the left and become truly the people's president. Despite the fact that this is the only real possibility for salvation (though he probably doesn't even have time for that anymore), he is extremely unlikely to do so, not least because the election will be falsely but nearly unanimously read as a wholesale repudiation of Obama's already 'socialist' tendencies. A turn to the left would be loudly and endlessly trumpeted by the right as spitting in the public's eye. And since Democrats never, ever, argue back, that narrative will carry the day, just as the socialist narrative has ludicrously carried the day so far.

The last option will be to turn to the right, as Clinton did, and hope that in 2012 he can convince grumbling voters that the GOP nominee is slightly more insane than he has been anemic. I have little doubt that this is the direction he will go.

Unlike Clinton in the 1990s, however, he is unlikely to have an economic boom that could allow people to forget politics and vote for incumbents. My guess is that current unemployment levels will not abate in the coming two years. Indeed, because the half-baked stimulus of 2009 is now about out of gas, there is a very real chance that things will get worse. Nothing kills a presidency like recession. But add to that slow drip decline the endless GOP investigations of bogus administration scandals you'll be seeing on a television set near you starting next January, and you can stick a fork in this president.

That's all well and good and completely just, as far as I'm concerned. I'd relish doing the sticking myself, actually. It's just that - and I hope here that the president can pardon another eruption of my silly tendency toward civic responsibility that occasionally gets the better of me - it's a disaster for America and for the world.

Maybe if Barack dreams energetically enough, though, it doesn't have to happen.

Maybe if he just dreams that he has a chance to be one of the great figures in American history because he inherited great crises requiring profound solutions, it will come to pass.

Oh, wait a minute. That dream already did come true.

Only he turned his dream opportunity into a nightmare by showing up for the war armed with a cap gun.
(c) 2010 David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York. He is delighted to receive readers' reactions to his articles, but regrets that time constraints do not always allow him to respond. More of his work can be found at his website,

The Dead Letter Office...

Heil Obama,

Dear Kandidatin Angle,

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, Ralph Nader, George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Prescott Bush, Fredo Bush, Vidkun Quisling and last year's winner Volksjudge Sonia (get whitey) Sotomayor.

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and your promise to get rid of Social Security and Medicare, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Rethuglican Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Iron Cross first class with ruby clusters, presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 10-31-2010. We salute you Frau Angle, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

America The Exceptional
By Glenn Greenwald

Even for those who believe they're inured to the absurdities of imperial irony, this is almost too extreme to process:

The New York Times, Wednesday:

A federal appeals court on Wednesday ruled that former prisoners of the C.I.A. could not sue over their alleged torture in overseas prisons because such a lawsuit might expose secret government information. . . .

"To this date, not a single victim of the Bush administration's torture program has had his day in court," [the ACLU's Ben] Wizner said. . . . "If this decision stands, the United States will have closed its courts to torture victims while providing complete immunity to their torturers."

Yahoo! News, yesterday:

Iraq to pay $400 million for Saddam's mistreatment of Americans

Iraq has quietly agreed to pay $400 million in claims to American citizens who say they were tortured or traumatized by Saddam Hussein's regime after his 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

The controversial settlement ends years of legal battles and could help Iraq emerge from United Nations sanctions put in place two decades ago -- a step Iraqi leaders see as a prerequisite to becoming fully sovereign. . . . Settling the claims, which were brought by American citizens, has been seen as a key requirement for Washington to be willing to push for an end to the UN sanctions. . . .

Despite Iraq's potential oil wealth, the country has major economic problems, including widespread poverty, 30 percent unemployment, and an infant mortality rate among the highest in the region. . . .

The settlement is controversial not only because of Iraq's pressing developmental needs, but because it holds the current government accountable for Saddam Hussein's actions.

"A lot of blood has flowed since then and a lot of it is Iraqi blood. It's arguable that the suffering was not caused by the current Iraqi government or the Iraqi people," says one senior Iraqi official. "This is politics, this is not justice."

So, to recap: the U.S. creates a worldwide regime of torture, disappearances and lawless imprisonment. Then, the Bush administration, the Obama administration, and the American federal judiciary all collaborate to shield the guilty parties from all accountability (Look Forward, Not Backward!), and worse, to ensure that not a single victim can even access American courts to obtain a ruling as to the legality of what was done to them, let alone receive compensation for their suffering, even while recognizing that many of the victims were completely innocent and even thoughother countries have provided the victims with compensation for their much more minor role in what happened. Our courts even ensure that Blackwater guards are shielded from prosecution for the cold-blooded murder of Iraqi citizens.

But we invade, occupy and destroy Iraq -- while severely abusing, torturing and killing their citizens -- and then demand, as a condition for our allowing the end of crippling sanctions, that they fork over hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation to American torture victims, even though it all happened 20 years ago, under an Iraqi regime that no longer even exists. They hate us for our Freedoms.

* * * * *

See also: my post from earlier today on Tom Goldstein and the perils of conflict-plagued commentary.

UPDATE: The excellent novelist Barry Eisler has a new book, Inside Out, which pertains to this theme and many others covered by this blog. I haven't yet read Inside Out, but long-time commenter Mona has, and she provides a short review and enthusiastic recommendation in the comment section here. Aside from their quality, Eisler's books are well worth buying because, as a former CIA analyst, he writes national security novels from a very unique and valuable perspective: one that incisively highlights the absurdities, contradictions and immoralities that drive much of American foreign policy.

UPDATE II: Related to all of this: at 5:00 p.m. EST today, I'll be at FDL Book Salon, hosting a discussion of Bruce Fein's superb new book, .American Empire Before the Fall. which examines the history of America's imperial hubris and the fundamental harm it is causing on virtually every level. At 5 pm, my review of that book will be posted at the top of FDL, and both Fein and I will be present to engage with commenters and questioners about the topics covered by the book.

UPDATE III: For those wishing to commemorate 9/11 -- and that desire seems oddly widespread -- I highly recommend this amazingly smart and prescient article, written on September 12, 2001, by Hunter Thompson.
(c) 2010 Glenn Greenwald. was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book "How Would a Patriot Act?," a critique of the Bush administration's use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, "A Tragic Legacy," examines the Bush legacy.

Bring The Troops Home, Bust The Banksters, Democratize The Economy
By John Nichols

BARABOO, WISCONSIN -- Decrying the excesses of big banks and Wall Street speculators, the Rev. Jesse Jackson told thousands of cheering progressives at a county fairgrounds in rural Wisconsin Saturday that: "There is a contest for the soul of America.

Cheered on by the crowd that had gathered for Fighting Bob Fest, the annual progressive chautauqua on the Sauk County Fairgrounds in this central Wisconsin community, the civil rights leader and two-time presidential candidate declared that America would have to choose between being of a country where a tiny elite controls the vast majority of wealth or one where the great mass of Americans have a chance to survive and thrive.

"We cannot subsidize bankers and leave people homeless on the streets of America," Jackson said. "It's time for a change!"

"We will fight back!" chanted the crowd, which packed the grandstand and field for one of the largest Bob Fest gatherings in the nine-year history of the event.

For Democratic strategists who worry about an "enthusiasm gap" in this year's mid-term election season, Jackson offered the antedote. His adamant address had thousands of people -- many of them from rural and smalltown Wisconsin -- on their feet and cheering. And this year's Fighting Bob Fest drew more than twice as many people as a highly publicized and expensively promoted "Tea Party" event -- which featured television personalies, "Joe the Plumber" and Congressman Paul Ryan, R-Janesville -- held the same day in Racine, Wisconsin.

The enthusiastic response for Jackson's populist speech offered a reminder that there is no enthusiasm gap. There's a message gap.

When the message is muscular, the enthusiasm is there.

Jackson wasn't the only one drawing cheers on a day that heard rousing speeches from former Texas Secretary of Agriculture Jim Hightower, Congressman David Obey, Congresswomen Tammy Baldwin and Gwen Moore, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett and other prominent speakers from Wisconsin and across the nation.

A Saturday that began with overcast skies and scattered rain showers ended with bright sunshine and a rollicking, old-school rallying of the progressive faithful in the tradition of Robert M. La Follette, the Wisconsin governor, senator and 1924 presidential candidate for whom the festival is named.

Jackson, who was honored with a lifetime achievement award by festival organizers, hailed the progressive movement led by La Follette, which campaigned for economic and social justice at home while opposing empire building abroad.

Sounding anti-war themes that were very much in the La Follette tradition, Jackson called for bringing U.S. troops home and reallocating resources from fighting wars abroad to fighting unemployment at home.

"We want for America what we provide for Iraq and Afghanistan," said Jackson. "We want jobs for Chicago... jobs for Milwaukee... jobs for Sauk County."

Sounding economic justice themes that repeatedly brought the crowd to its feet, Jackson warned that: "We've globalized capital without globalizing human rights, without globalizing workers' rights, women's rights, children's rights. Let's democratize our economy!
(c) 2010 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. He is a contributing writer for The Progressive and In These Times and the associate editor of the Capital Times, the daily newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and dozens of other newspapers.

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Matt Bors ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

I Just Want You
By Ozzy Osbourne

There are no unlockable doors
There are no unwinnable wars
There are no unrightable wrongs or unsingable songs
There are no unbeatable odds
There are no believable Gods
There are no unnameable names,
Shall I say it again?

There are no impossible dreams
There are no invisible seams
Each night when the day is through,
I don't ask much
I just want you
I just want you

There are no uncriminal crimes
There are no unrhymable rhymes
There are no identical twins or forgivable sins
There are no incurable ills
There are no unkillable thrills
One thing and you know it's true,
I don't ask much
I just want you
I just want you
I just want you
I just want you

I'm sick and tired of bein' sick and tired
I used to go to bed so high and wired
Yeah - yeah - yeah
I think I'll buy myself some plastic water
I guess I should have married Lennon's daughter
Yeah - yeah - yeah - yeah

There are no unachievable goals
There are no unsaveable souls
No legitimate kings or queens,
Do you know what I mean?

There are no indisputable truths
And there ain't no fountain of youth
Each night when the day is through
I don't ask much
I just want you
I just want you
I just want you
I just want you
I just want you
I just want you

Yeah, yeah, yeah
I just want you
I just want you

Hey yeah
I just want you
Yeah, yeah, yeah
I just want you

I just want you
I just want you
(c) 2002/2010 Ozzy Osbourne

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Betty's Christian Sex Tape

Dear True Christians(tm)

While I may not be one of those candle-lighting, toe-kissing Mary-Worshippers, I do have a confession: I made a mistake. You're not the only one shocked. But this only serves to underscore that while I acknowledge the Lord's constant bragging that I was created in His image, I am pleased to point out one important exception: I can admit error. And, somewhat less significant, my errors don't usually result in gruesome deaths, particularly of my own children.

This week, on my TV program "The No Sin Zone," I made the foolish decision to allow other people to speak. Quite frankly, I had only agreed to participate in a "talk show" because I assumed I would be the one talking. Not so, as my intrusive guests persisted in taking focus away from me. Jesus and I both hate that, which lead to a rather uncomfortable situation. Jesus was so loquacious and irritatingly off-topic, I had to hang up on Him. Hung up on a cross once; hung up on the phone thrice! Bless His heart, He simply cannot take a hint.

Here's the video of the show:

(c) 2010 Mrs. Betty Bowers

The Gross National Debt

Iraq Deaths Estimator

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Issues & Alibis Vol 10 # 38 (c) 09/17/2010

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