Please visit our sponsor!

Bookmark and Share
In This Edition

Robert Kuttner says, "Thank You, Paul Ryan."

Uri Avnery visits a, "Protest In Ramallah."

Glen Ford translates, "Race-Based Romney-Speak."

Paul Craig Roberts sees, "The Revolution From Above."

Jim Hightower hears, "A Banker's Plaintive Plea."

Greg Palast introduces, "The Worst Teacher In Chicago."

James Donahue studies, "The Remarkable Intelligence Of Birds."

David Swanson plays, "Nuclear Roulette."

Ted Rall examines, "Pacifist America."

Maureen Dowd watches, "Neocons Slither Back."

Paul Krugman with, "Hating On Ben Bernanke."

William Rivers Pitt chants, "I Will Occupy."

Robert Reich explains, "Why Romney And Ryan Are Going Down."

U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit Judge Raymond Lohier wins the coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

John Nichols reports, "Wisconsin Judge Rules Walker's Anti-Labor Law 'Null and Void.'"

Robert Fisk concludes, "Al-Qa'ida Cashes In As The Scorpion Gets In Among The Good Guys."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Will Durst watches, "The Spinning Bounce" but first Uncle Ernie warns, "Beware Of Silver Linings."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Steve Benson, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Brian McFadden, Mike Luckovich, Politifake.Org, Robert Stolarik, Armchair Patriots, Lame Cherry.Com, Mario Piperni.Com, MF, Chris Huh, Bloomberg, The New York Times, Reuters, Fox News, You Tube.Com and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

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

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

Bookmark and Share
Beware Of Silver Linings!
By Ernest Stewart

"It's time to stop comparing this year's drought to the dire conditions of 1988. The 2012 drought has officially entered Dust Bowl-era intensity. The percentage of U.S. currently in drought now rivals conditions not seen since the early 1930s."
~~~ Ben Potter, Farm Journal Technology Editor ~~~

Why did the Bozo cross the road? Because there was a Bozo on the other side!
Why did the short hair cross the road? Because someone told him to!
Why did the long hair cross the road? Because someone told him not to!
I Think We're All Bozos On This Bus ~~~ The Firesign Theatre

"The executive has the right under the Constitution to detain anyone indefinitely without due process."
~~~ U. S. Justice Department ~~~

Instant Karma's gonna get you
Gonna knock you off your feet
Better recognize your brothers
Every one you meet
Instant Karma ~~~ John Lennon

Now that summer is over, let's take a look back, and see how we fared compared to last year, and the year before, etc. First off, I'm going to have to devise a new analogy as the current one is getting a little old -- at least it is to me, i.e., "Being a global warming denier must be like being a Christian Scientist with Appendicitis." While true, it's not as funny as it once was, with the knowledge of what is in store for us all since our Government's policy is to ignore it and go on like nothing is wrong. Trouble is, our economy can't afford it. For example, the insurance companies lost some $20 billion in insuring the corn crops in the Midwest alone -- just this year!

2012 has been a summer full of "extreme weather, of unparalleled scope and severity." Among the highlights: 2012 was one of the warmest years on record in the U. S., viz., the hottest July on record in the U. S. You may also recall that summer first arrived in March of this year, instead of in June, with a week full of record-breaking temps in the upper eighties and nineties, instead of in the 40s, like was normal in Detroit and Chicago. Not only for us, but record-high temperatures in central and eastern Europe, the wettest summer in the UK, the heaviest rainfalls in northern India and the Philippines, and the most severe droughts in the U. S. and east Africa. On a personal note, none of our fruit trees bore any fruit this year. The cherries, apples, and pears which used to drop baskets and baskets of fruit, this year bore none. Even the black walnut trees only produced about 1/3 of what they normally do, which caused a lot of cursing squirrels throughout the neighborhood!

The cost of this global warming will be much higher crop prices as all that GMO corn and sorghum didn't make it at all in large parts of America, and the world in general, as well. Seems that Frankenfood doesn't do well without plenty of water and lower temps, while organic crops did just fine, pity is there isn't enough of them to go around, so vast areas of the world will surely, slowly starve to death as only the rich will be able to afford to buy food there; funny how that worked out, huh? It's almost like it's been planned that way? If I were a conspiracy theorist, I could make something out of this? Wait a minute, I am a conspiracy theorist!

A lot of the western United States burned to the ground this summer, and due to the drought, vast dust storms like the ones from the 1930s blacked out parts of the West. This time, it's not due to poor farming methods, but to man-made global warming. If you want to know what is was really like in the dust bowl of the 1930s, I'd suggest you buy or rent the HBO series "Carnivale" which captures the time and the mood perfectly, and may give you glimpses of things to come -- not a very happy time!

While some may point to the crop failure having a silver lining, i.e., people won't be poisoning themselves with Frankenfood on the scale that they would have if the crops hadn't failed, that's hardly a cause for celebration. We are in the biggest challenge that mankind has ever faced. It is a challenge that we dare not lose, less we disappear as a species. While some will argue that all of us going bye-bye is yet another silver lining, I would beg to disagree!

In Other News

I'm beginning to think that the Rethuglicans for what-ever reason have been doing everything in their power to lose the White House this go-around! I mean, from the very beginning this has been their plan.

First, they fired the head of the RNC Michael Steele, who had given them the biggest win in the history of the party, and replaced him with Reince Priebus, a loser who hasn't a clue and has never won an election. Who every time he opens his mouth, repels voters just like the north ends of two magnets repel themselves.

Second, look at the candidates they allowed to run. Not a single one with the exception of Ron Paul had the smallest chance of beating Barry; and, of course, Ron was persona non grata, going so far as to not recognize his wins or his votes by changing the rules of the convention.

Third, their war on women was enough to cost them this election. Their war against voting, or, at least keeping the wrong people from voting, really rallied the blacks, latinos, and elderly into registering to vote like never before.

Eventually, they chose their weakest candidate for the election. Sure, Willard is one of them to the nth degree: rich, heartless, and hasn't got a single clue about what this country really needs, and how to go about getting it. As a one per center, he is universally-hated, from a fringe religion that most think is a bizarre cult of hate.

Then, Willard chooses perhaps the worst VP candidate of the lot, another universally-hated one per-center who cost could him the election all by himself. The only way Willard could have won was by choosing Ron Paul as his running mate, which would have brought in millions of voters, even the ones that hate Willard as much as the left does, would have voted for a Romney/Paul ticket!

Willard, who was born with a silver shoe in his mouth, just doesn't know when to shut up, letting America know from the horse's own mouth what an enemy of the people he truly is! If Ryan's bright budget ideas didn't send the elderly, sick, poor and hungry running back into Barry's arms, then his latest faux pas, certainly did. While talking at a private affair to the Youth for Hitler crowd, Willard said:

"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right - there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent on government, who believe that, that they are victims, who believe that government has the responsibility to care for them. Who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing."

Yes, Mitt thinks everyone on Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare is a freeloader. This, is, of course, nonsense; but is the Rethuglican line -- which again makes you wonder, why they would say such a thing and expect to get elected; they know full well that their base is a minority and can not win without attracting more votes. Grabbing a hold of that "third rail" doesn't make sense, unless you want to lose. Casting folks on social security as freeloaders when they earned every dime they received and then some, by paying for it out of their own pockets is a recipe for defeat. Those programs are paid for by the people direct. Willard's just being Willard, giving the 1 %s real thoughts on those programs, and not the reality of them.

Of course, they really had little to do with this bright idea, except for being willing to go along with their marching orders. No, the powers that be want Barry in there as he has done all of their bidding, and unlike Willard, is smart enough to pull off their plans for you and me. If there's a better explanation, I'd really like to hear it!

And Finally

Our Vidkun Quisling Award winner this week is Obama's appointed puppet Raymond Joseph Lohier, Jr. Former assistant U. S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Chief of the Southern District of New York's Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force. (Gee didn't that work out fine, huh?) Now judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (Sotomayor's old seat).

In case you missed Raymond's little act of treason, he overturned a federal judge, ruling that a temporary injunction on section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 must be made permanent, essentially barring the White House from ever enforcing a clause in the NDAA that can let them put any U. S. citizen behind bars indefinitely without proof or trial. On Monday, the U. S. Justice Department asked for an emergency stay on that order, and hours later, Judge Raymond Lohier agreed to intervene and place a hold on the injunction.

As I've said before, Barry likes to pull puppet strings; this week it was Raymond's. One might have thought that since Barry put him there he would have excused himself, i.e., disqualified himself, from ruling on this case; but when you buy Raymond, he stays bought, and gave Barry what he wanted, i.e., the illegal law that allows Barry to disappear you or your children, forever without trial, or charges, without a jury or any legal means, or even murder you, if he so desires, with the aid of the U. S. Army on American soil! I'd really like to hear from all you Obama defenders out there; I dare ya; I double dare ya -- come on and defend the Fuhrer!

Keepin' On

We'd like to thank Mark and Barbara from Denver for sending in a nice donation -- have no doubt that it's already being put to good use! Even with this generous donation, we're still a long way from paying off our last yearly bill on time. Ergo, we need all of our readership to step up and give us a hand. As Mark said to me on Facebook:

"Uncle Ernie, you are the man -- without Issues and Alibis, I'd have gone mad eight years ago. Knowledge IS power, and I owe you money . . . expect a check in the mail soon. Thanks for carrying my ass on credit for so long. I'm not alone in owing you, as you well know, but I hope to set an example for freeloading readers everywhere. Thanks, brother."

"It's possible that the folks who read Issues and Alibis are the same folks who would love to support it, but aren't named Bush, or Rockefeller, or Romney . . . well meaning Americans who are, out of sheer economic reality, watching every dime. The new Depression has done its filthy work, transferred the wealth upward, and the message of your site, in nearly every article, has been true. We've been f'cked, and have been since Bush v. Gore. Truth hurts, but we're even more f'cked without it, and since you've published the information that we all need for all this time, those who can . . . should repay you."
And, thank you, Mark, for saying what needs to be said. If you are as broke as I am, then don't worry about it; if you want to help, then tell all your friends who would be helped by the magazine about us. For those of you with cash to spare, and who have been hiding in the shadows for a decade, send in what you can, whenever you can. It's only the righteous thing to do, is it not? We accept cash, checks and postal money orders only. Go to our donations page and follow the instructions; you'll feel better when you do. Instant Karma's gonna get you, for the good or for the bad, the choice is yours!


03-06-1923 ~ 09-17-2012
Thanks for the entertainment!


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


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

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


Thank You, Paul Ryan
By Robert Kuttner

Two years ago, the Democrats handed the Republicans their two crown jewels -- Social Security and Medicare. By targeting Medicare for budget "savings" that could be used to finance what the Republicans called Obamacare, the White House gave the GOP ammunition to contend that the Democrats were taking benefits away from seniors.

Expanding health coverage for the young and defense of Medicare for the elderly got depicted as a zero sum game. Republicans made huge gains in 2010 with seniors. Instead of the political winner it should have been, Obamacare became an epithet.

Then, in the aborted grand budget bargain of 2011, Obama was so eager to achieve a compromise on mostly Republican terms that he very nearly agreed to needless cuts in Social Security. Only Republican intransigence on any kind of tax hikes saved the president from himself -- or more precisely from his deficit-hawk advisers.

Now, however, Republicans have given Social Security and Medicare back to the Democrats (where they belong.) Polls show that Medicare is no longer a winner for the Republicans, and the Democrats have embraced the term, "Obamacare" as positive label.

The reason, of course, is Paul Ryan.

Thanks to Ryan's very explicit advocacy of scrapping public Medicare in favor of vouchers, seniors are returning to their natural Democratic home. The transparently bogus effort of the Romney-Ryan ticket to walk back Ryan's voucher proposal -- and alter it into a plan where seniors get to choose traditional public Medicare or vouchers -- only reinforces the voter perception of Romney as someone who keeps changing his story. The euphemism of "premium support" is fooling nobody and adds to the perception of Republican evasiveness.

The latest New York Times-CBS poll shows that some three quarters of likely voters favor keeping Medicare the way it is, and trust Obama more than the Republicans to defend it. This is a huge shift from last year.

Democrats, meanwhile, have acquired some spine. Defense of public Medicare against "vouchercare" has become part of their standard message.

So far, so good.

Also good ammunition against Romney-Ryan was Ryan's support in 2005 for a George W. Bush plan to allow younger workers to divert some of their Social Security taxes into private accounts -- a proposal that proved a political disaster and was subsequently scrapped.

But never underestimate the Democrats' capacity for snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory.

Lurking in the wings is the latest reincarnation of Bowles-Simpson, the bipartisan zombie that refuses to die. A "Fix the Debt" campaign," chaired by none other than Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, has become the darling of the centrist media and of Wall Street.

The Peter G. Peterson Foundation, the National Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, several leading Democratic deficit hawks, and some 70 corporate CEOs have pledged to raise $50 to 100 million dollars in corporate money for this latest campaign, which promotes yet another a grand bargain of tax increases and cuts in Social Security and other social spending.

Bowles continues to be touted as Obama's next Treasury Secretary when Tim Geithner finally (mercifully!) calls it a day. Other Democrats who are part of this effort are former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, who was chair of the Democratic National Committee in 2000, and former Democratic Congressman Vic Fazio, who once headed the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Rounding out this group of Democrats doing Republicans' bidding on fiscal issues are former Georgia Senator Samm Nunn and Wall Streeter and former Obama official Steve Rattner.


Bowles and Simpson were featured on NBC's Meet the Press Sunday where they were described as "widely hailed as serious thought leaders on dealing with the country's economic problems."

Hailed, that is, by the same corporate media. The mainstream media just laps this stuff up, because Simpson, a Republican, is willing to criticize the Romney-Ryan ticket and Bowles, a Wall Street Democrat, is not shy about criticizing Obama. So they must be both courageous and right. As Bowles said on Meet the Press Sunday, "We don't think President Obama has gone far enough in his reduction on entitlement spending."

But Social Security continues to be in surplus, and to lend the rest of the government money. Its projected future deficits did not cause the current economic crisis. Its reduced revenues are the result of the crisis.

Social Security is financed by payroll taxes. If median worker pay rose with productivity, instead of most of the gain in national income going to people like those on the "Fix the Debt Campaign," Social Security would be in surplus indefinitely. Social Security's modest projected shortfall can be erased by raising the ceiling on income subject to payroll tax, not by slashing benefits.

The corporate elite lives in a self-reinforcing bubble, where the deficit is the economy's most dire problem. An important study by political scientists Benjamin Page, Larry Bartels and Nathan Seawright interviewed a sample of very wealthy Americans. Not surprisingly, their views on the importance of budget balance versus job creation and social supports were far to the right of those of most voters. (Fully 87 percent of very wealthy respondents put deficit reduction as the most pressing national issue.)

This is conventional wisdom among the top one percent. Corporate CEOs of the sort who are underwriting this latest Bowles-Simpson assault don't need Social Security for their own retirement and don't mind sacrificing it on the altar of budget balance.

Back in the real world, Social Security is both good policy and good politics. As private pension plans keep being gutted and seniors interest earnings on savings accounts are basically nothing, Social Security is the one government guaranteed portion of retirement income. It is immensely popular, and to the extent Democrats are resolute in its defense, the program's popularity rubs off on them.

But because of pressure from corporate-funded groups like this one, the Obama Administration keeps coming close to buckling on the issue of traditional Democratic defense of Social Security. This will arise again as Congress gets closer to the dread "fiscal cliff," made up of expiration of the Bush tax cuts in January 2013 and the threatened budget sequester (that is the fruit of Republicans holding the government hostage in 2011.)

Given the importance of Social Security to regular Americans and its partisan value to Democrats since Franklin Roosevelt, no sane Democrat should be associated with these efforts. But in an age of Citizens United and unlimited corporate donations, where Obama tacks back and forth between criticizing Wall Street and soliciting Wall Street executives for campaign funds, it is all too tempting to demonstrate fiscal "soundness" by joining this parade.

Thanks to Paul Ryan, however, the president may be spared again. The association of Romney-Ryan with the gutting of Medicare and Social Security offers just too tempting a political target to throw away for the sake of impressing Simpson, Bowles, and their corporate cronies. Or so we must hope.
(c) 2012 Robert Kuttner is co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect magazine, as well as a Distinguished Senior Fellow of the think tank Demos. He was a longtime columnist for Business Week, and continues to write columns in the Boston Globe and Huffington Post. He is the author of A Presidency in Peril: The Inside Story of Obama's Promise, Wall Street's Power, and the Struggle to Control our Economic Future, Obama's Challenge, and other books.

Protest In Ramallah
By Uri Avnery

VISITING RAMALLAH after an absence of several months, I was again amazed by the ongoing building activity. Everywhere new high-rise buildings are going up, and many of them are beautiful. (Arabs seem to have an innate talent for architecture, as any world anthology of architecture affirms.)

The building boom seems to be a good sign, confirming Israeli assertions that the economy in the occupied West Bank is flourishing. But on second thought, my enthusiasm faded. After all, the money invested in residential buildings does not go to factories or other enterprises that provide jobs and promote real growth. It only shows that some people are getting rich even under the occupation.

My destination was a diplomatic reception. Some high functionaries of the Palestinian Authority and other upper-class Palestinians attended.

I exchanged pleasantries with the Palestinian Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, and some of the well-dressed guests, and enjoyed the delicacies. I did not discern any excitement.

Nobody would have guessed that at that very moment, in the center of the city, a stormy demonstration was taking place. It was the beginning of a massive protest that is still going on.

THE DEMONSTRATORS in Ramallah and other towns and villages in the West Bank are protesting against the high cost of living and the economic hardship in general.

Palestinian journalists told me that the price of gasoline in the West Bank is almost the same as in Israel: about eight shekels per liter. That would be about eight dollars per gallon in the US or 1.7 Euro per liter in Europe. Since the minimum wage in the West Bank, about 250 $ per month, is only a quarter of the Israeli minimum wage, that is atrocious. (This week the Palestinian Authority hastily lowered the price.)

Recently, on the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday ending the Ramadan month of fasting, the occupation authorities surprisingly allowed 150 thousand Palestinians to enter Israel. Some went straight to the sea shore, which many of them had never seen before, though they live less than an hour's drive away. Some went to visit ancestral homes. But many others went on a shopping spree. It appears that many goods are actually cheaper in Israel than in the impoverished occupied territories!

(By the way, not a single incident was reported that day.)

THE PROTESTS were against the Palestinian Authority. It's a bit like a dog biting the stick, instead of the man who is wielding it.

Actually, the PA is quite helpless. It is bound by the Paris Protocol, the economic appendix of the Oslo agreement. Under this protocol, the occupied territories are part of the Israeli "customs envelope" and the Palestinians cannot fix their own customs duties.

Amira Hass of Haaretz quotes the following conditions: inhabitants of the Gaza Strip are not allowed to export their agricultural products; Israel exploits the water, minerals and other assets in the West Bank; Palestinian villagers pay much higher prices for water than Israeli settlers; Gaza fishermen cannot fish beyond three miles from the shore; Palestinian inhabitants are forbidden to travel on the main highways, compelling them to make costly and time-consuming detours.

But more than any restrictions, it's the occupation itself that makes any real improvement impossible. What serious foreign investor would go to a territory where everything is subject to the whims of a military government which has every motive for keeping its subjects down? A territory where every act of resistance can provoke brutal retaliation, such as the physical destruction of Palestinian offices in the 2002 "Operation Defensive Shield"? Where goods for export can rot for months, if an Israeli competitor bribes an official?

Donor nations can give some money to the Palestinian Authority to keep it alive, but they cannot change the situation. Neither would the abolition of the Paris Protocol, as demanded by the demonstrators, change much. As long as the occupation is in place, any progress - if there is any - is conditional and temporary.

STILL, THE situation in the West Bank remains far better than the situation in the Gaza Strip.

True, as a result of the "Turkish flotilla", the blockade of the Strip has been lifted to a large extent. Almost everything can now be brought into the Strip from Israel, though almost nothing can be brought out. Also, the naval blockade is in full force.

However, lately the situation there has been improving rapidly. The hundreds of tunnels under the Egyptian-Gaza border are in practice bringing in everything, from cars to gasoline to building materials. And now, with the Muslim Brotherhood in power in Egypt, this border may be opened completely, a step that would radically change the economic situation of the Strip.

Nabeel Shaath, the top Palestinian diplomat, told me at the reception that this may actually be a major obstacle to PLO-Hamas reconciliation. Hamas may want to wait until the economic situation in the Strip surpasses that in the West Bank, reinforcing their chances to win all-Palestinian elections again. Mahmoud Abbas, on his part, hopes that the new Egyptian president will convince the Americans to support the West Bank and strengthen his Authority.

(When I reminded Shaath that years ago I attended his wedding at Jerusalem's now desolate Orient House, he exclaimed: "We thought then that peace was just a step away! Since then, we have been thrown a long distance back!")

DESPITE THE economic troubles, the picture of the Palestinians as a helpless, pitiable victim is far removed from reality. Israelis may like to think so, as well as pro-Palestinian sympathizers around the world. But the Palestinian spirit is unbroken. Palestinian society is vibrant and self-reliant. Most Palestinians are determined to achieve a state of their own.

Abbas may ask the UN General Assembly to recognize Palestine as a "non-state member". He may do so after the US elections. I wondered aloud if this would really change the situation. "It certainly would!" a prominent Palestinian at the reception assured me. "It would make clear that the Two-State solution is alive and put an end to the nonsense about a bi-national state."

On the way to the reception I did not see a single women in the streets with her hair uncovered. The hijab was everywhere. I remarked on this to a Palestinian friend, who is quite unreligious. "Islam is gaining," he said. "But that may be a good thing, because it is a moderate form of Islam that will block the radical ones. It is the same as in many other Arab countries."

I did not perceive any sympathy for the Ayatollahs of Iran. But nobody wished for an Israeli attack. "If Iran bombs Israel in retaliation," Nabeel Shaath remarked, "their missiles will not distinguish between Jews and Arabs. We live so close to each other, that Palestinians will be hit like the Israelis."

SINCE my visit, the demonstrations in Ramallah have intensified. It seems that Fayyad serves as a kind of lightning rod for Abbas.

I don't think that this is just. Fayyad seems to be a decent person. He is a professional economist, a former official of the International Monetary Fund. He is not a politician, not even a Fatah member. His economic viewpoint may be conservative, but I don't think that this makes much of a difference considering the situation in Palestine.

Sooner or later, and probably sooner rather than later, the wrath of the Palestinian poor will change direction. Instead of blaming the Palestinian Authority, they will turn against their real oppressor: the occupation.

The Israeli government is aware of this possibility, and therefore made haste to pay the PA an advance on the tax money that Israel owes the PA. Otherwise the PA - by far the biggest employer in the West Bank - would be unable to pay salaries at the end of this month. But that is only a stopgap measure.

Binyamin Netanyahu may stick to the illusion that all is quiet on the Palestinian front, so that he can concentrate on his efforts to get Mitt Romney elected and frighten Iran. After all, when Palestinians are protesting against Palestinians, that's OK. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is frozen. No problem.

But this illusion is, well, an illusion. In our conflict, nothing is ever frozen.

Not only are the settlement activities going on steadily - if quietly - but on the Palestinian side, too, things are moving. Pressures are building up. At some time, they will explode.

When the Arab Spring finally arrives in Palestine, its main target will not be Abbas or Fayyad. Abbas is no Mubarak. Fayyad is the very opposite of a Qaddafi. The target will be the occupation.

Some Palestinians dream about a new intifada, with masses of people marching non-violently against the symbols of the occupation. This may be too much to hope for - Martin Luther King was no Arab. But the demonstrations in Ramallah and Hebron may be a sign of things to come.

There is still truth in the old saying, that the conflict here is a clash between an irresistible force and an immovable object.
(c) 2012 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Race-Based Romney-Speak
By Glen Ford

Pundits poured over Mitt Romney's private pitch to his fellow super-rich, last spring, in Boca Raton, Florida, in search of underlying facts and hidden meanings - or, at least, what he meant to say. Who are the 47 (or 48 or 49) percent that will vote for Obama "no matter what?"

CNN's John King believes the GOP presidential candidate simply got his demographic cohorts confused, mashing up the 47 percent or so of Americans who don't pay net income taxes with a similarly-sized group that Republican pollsters have identified as deeply Obamite: African Americans, Latinos and other minorities, and white female college graduates. Given Romney's amazing capacity to strip clarity from human speech, John King is probably on to something. However, there should be no doubt as to who was at the center of Romney's give-me-money appeal: Black voters. These are the only Americans who are totally absent from the pro-Romney column, and will actually "vote for this president [Obama] no matter what."

Finding race at the heart of a Republican speech is like finding lust at a nudie bar. As veteran Black politico Kevin Alexander Gray so often reminds us, race has been at the center of everything the GOP has done since Nixon's 1968 southern strategy. For decades, the Right has been writing and ranting about something they call the Politics of Victimization, which compels Black people to feel that America "owes" them something for slavery and past discrimination. "Liberals" have fed this "pathology," which has led to a "culture of dependency" and "entitlement" among African Americans, according to the Right's script.

"Blacks are the only Americans who are totally absent from the pro-Romney column." This fundamentally racist construction is embedded in the American political conversation, transforming "entitlement" - a term to describe benefits provided by legislation to eligible populations - into a racial code word. The cohorts that avail themselves of such government programs, in Romney's words, "believe that they're entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that's an entitlement."

But, of course, if all the people that are entitled to "you-name-it" from government voted for Democrats, the margin for Republican majorities would be so slim, the Party would disappear. If 47 percent of voters really were pre-programmed against Romney, there would be no sense in his begging other fat cats in Florida to throw money into an electoral black hole; the math would be insurmountable. Therefore, Romney could not have meant what he said, literally. He just got sloppy, mixing the obligatory anti-Black code-speech with statistics handed to him about other problem constituencies. The result: Romney "niggerized" almost half of America - which is what all the furor is about.

When Romney talks of people that consider themselves "victims," he is referencing what John McWhorter, a Black reactionary at the Manhattan Institute, calls:

"…the Cult of Victimology, under which it has become a keystone of cultural blackness to treat victimhood not as a problem to be solved but as an identity to be nurtured. Only naiveté could lead anyone to suppose that racism does not still exist, or that there are not still problems to be solved. However, the grip of the Cult of Victimology encourages the black American from birth to fixate upon remnants of racism and resolutely downplay all signs of its demise."

In truth, white people do a lot more moaning and crying about their condition, and for totally imaginary reasons. A 2011 study by Tufts University and Harvard Business School shows "whites believe that anti-white racism has increased and is now a bigger problem than anti-black racism."

"White people do not like to be niggerized, to be placed at the ass-end of their own racist reasoning."

The Republicans' job is to keep whites thinking that way, not reminding them that Euro-Americans make up the vast bulk of folks that are "dependent" on "entitlements" of various kinds. By mixing up his message, Romney has polluted the white watering hole, and endangered the entire corporate project. Fortunately for the fat cats, they have plenty of friends in Democratic circles. President Obama, who seldom fumbles his messages, set out on the campaign trail, in 2007, telling a congregation in Selma, Alabama, that Blacks had already come "90 percent of the way" to equality - signaling to whites that the curtain would soon be brought down on all this Black complaining. As president, Obama repeatedly and pointedly insisted that he would reserve housing aid for those homeowners that were truly "deserving" - and wound up helping only a very few, leaving it up to the banks to handle the crisis on their own terms. Obama served notice, two weeks before his inauguration, that all "entitlements" - Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, etc. - would be "on the table" for chopping. Last year, he matched the Republicans dollar-for-dollar, offering $4 trillion in cuts over ten years. And, the president's belief in Black (male) cultural pathology has been made quite clear in Fathers' Day and other remarks that were directed at least as much to white constituencies as at Blacks.

So, Romney's presidential dreams may go poof!! as a result of his mass niggerization gaffe - but his racist view of the world is alive and thriving.
(c) 2012 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

The Revolution From Above
By Paul Craig Roberts

Today the Western peoples are experiencing the destruction of their well being that is comparable to what the one percent in Rome imposed on Roman citizens and conquered peoples. Here is how John Williams (, 9-12-12) phrases the wipeout of Americans' hopes:

"Consumers simply cannot make ends meet. Inflation-adjusted, or real, median household income declined for the fourth-straight year, plunging to its lowest level since 1995. Deflated by the CPI-U, the 2011 reading actually stood below levels seen in the late-1960s and early-1970s."

"At the same time, despite the ongoing nature of the economic and systemic-solvency crises, and the effects of the 2008 financial panic, income dispersion-the movement of income away from the middle towards both high- and low-level extremes-has hit a record high, instead of moderating, as might be expected during periods of financial distress. Extremes in income dispersion usually foreshadow financial-market and economic calamities. With the current circumstance at a record extreme, and well above levels estimated to have prevailed before the 1929 stock-market crash and the Great Depression, increasingly difficult times are likely for the next several years."

This chart shows where the median household income of the US Superpower, the "indispensable people," stands at the culmination of 2011. Americans are as well off as they were in 1967-68. Most americans cannot pay for fighting multi-trillion dollar wars for 11 years, bailout trillions of dollars in uncovered casino bets by Wall Street, have their middle class jobs sent abroad by corporations, and still expect to have higher personal incomes.

Apparently, Americans are the first people in history who are so idealistic, or so thoroughly brainwashed, that they prefer to pay for wars and bail out banks than to make their mortgage payments and help their children with student loan debt.

The federal court in Germany has ruled that Germans are to be just as idealistic as Americans. The federal court has produced a ruling that it is OK for the EU to require German citizens to provide $190 billion to pay off the private banks who lent too much money to Greece.

In exchange for paying off the banks for Greece, the Greek people are to be driven into poverty and hopelessness. Pensions are cut, taxes are raised, employment is cut, social services are curtailed, prices of utilities are raised. The Greek people are to be destroyed in order that the private European banks do not lose money on their bad loans.

In the West the Revolution From Above has succeeded. The peoples are re-enserfed. The promised land is a promised land for the one percent.
(c) 2012 Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury and professor of economics in six universities. He is coauthor of "The Tyranny of Good Intentions," co-authored with Lawrence Stratton, a documented account of how Americans lost the protection of law, was published by Random House. Dr. Roberts' latest book is "Economies in Collapse: The Failure of Globalism," published in Europe, June, 2012. Seller information will be made available as soon as possible. He can be reached at:

A Banker's Plaintive Plea

At last, someone has stood up for America's downtrodden. I mean, of course, the downtrodden Wall Street banks.

This defender of fat cat bankers moans that public anger at the behemoths is "unprecedented." He wails that poor Wall Streeters, publicly assailed as "greedy," are having to fend off "the misguided idea that we should break up the nations largest banks." And who is this champion of the goliaths? William Harrison, the guy who engineered the mergers that created the JPMorgan Chase goliath and became fabulously rich as the conglomerate's CEO, before retiring in 2006.

But Harrison sprang out of retirement this August to write an op-ed piece in the New York Times, pleading for public appreciation of bank gigantism. He called the consolidation of financial businesses a natural, market-driven evolution toward efficiency, citing Starbucks and big box retailers like Walmart as models. Bad examples, Bill - both are relentless predators that profit by devouring the economic vitality of local businesses, employees, suppliers, and whole communities as they stamp their sterile brand of uniformity across the land. Then, the poor guy tumbled head-first into credibility gulch with a patently preposterous claim that Wall Street does not have "inordinate influence... on the political process" - nor he added, does it get "huge, implicit subsidies from the government."

As for his cry that today's public anger at too-big-to-fail banks is "unprecedented," Harrison needs a remedial course in American history. Avaricious bankers have always been despised - my own state's first Constitution even outlawed banks! Of course, people are angry today - the very banks he's defending (including his) are lawless entities that admit to rigging interest rates, money laundering, fraud, and careless speculation. So, yes, bust'em up!
(c) 2012 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition.

The Worst Teacher In Chicago
By Greg Palast

This is a true story.

CHICAGO. In a school with some of the poorest kids in Chicago, one English teacher-I won't use her name-who'd been cemented into the school system for over a decade, wouldn't do a damn thing to lift test scores, yet had an annual salary level of close to $70,000 a year. Under Chicago's new rules holding teachers accountable and allowing charter schools to compete, this seniority-bloated teacher was finally fired by the principal.

In a nearby neighborhood, a charter school, part of the city system, had complete freedom to hire. No teachers' union interference. The charter school was able to bring in an innovative English teacher with advanced degrees and a national reputation in her field - for $29,000 a year less than was paid to the fired teacher.

You've guessed it by now: It's the same teacher.

It's Back to School Time! Time for the editorialists and the Tea Party, the GOP and Barack Obama's Education Secretary Arne Duncan to rip into the people who dare teach in public schools.

And in Arne's old stomping grounds, Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is stomping on the teachers, pushing them into the street.

Let's stop kidding ourselves. This is what Mitt Romney and Obama and Arne Duncan and Paul Ryan have in mind when they promote charter schools and the right to fire teachers with tenure: slash teachers salaries and bust their unions.

They've almost stopped pretending, too. Both the Right Wing-nuts and the Obama Administration laud the "progress" of New Orleans' schools-a deeply sick joke. The poorest students, that struggle most with standardized tests, were drowned or washed away.

One thing Democrat Emanuel and Republican Romney both demand of Chicago teachers is that their pay, their jobs, depend on "standardized tests." Yes, but whose standard?

Here are an actual questions from the standardized test that were given third graders here in NYC by the nation's biggest test-for-profit company:

"...Most young tennis stars learn the game from coaches at private clubs. In this sentence a private club is...." Then you have some choices in which the right answer is "Country Club - place where people meet."

Now not many of the "people [who] meet" at country clubs are from the South Side of Chicago--unless their parents are caddies. A teacher on the South Side whose students are puzzled by the question will lose their pay or job. Students on the lakefront Gold Coast all know that mommy plays tennis at the Country Club with Raul on Wednesdays. So their teacher gets a raise and their school has high marks.

And while Mayor Rahm promises kids in "bad" schools new teachers (the same ones at lower pay) at high-score schools, in fact, they are never actually allowed in.

But Rahm, after all, is just imposing Bush education law which should be called, No Child's Behind Left.

You want to know what's wrong with our schools? Benno Schmidt, CEO of the big Edison Schools teach-for-profit business is a creepy, greedy privateer. But he told me straight: that before Hurricane Katrina, his company would never go into New Orleans because Louisiana spent peanuts per child on education. He made it clear: You get what you pay for. Not what you test for.

So the charter carpetbaggers slither in, cherry-pick the easy students, declare success. The tough cases and special ed kids are left in the public system so they can claim the public system fails.

Here's what the teacher who was terrible at $70,000 but brilliant at $41,000 told me:

"They're not doing this in white neighborhoods. And they want to get rid of the older, experienced teachers with seniority who cost more. Get rid of the teachers and, ultimately get rid of the kids. And the charter school gets to pick the kids who get in."

It's simple. When you look at the drop-out rates in New York (41%) and Chicago (44%), the solution offered is to pay teachers less. They punish those who dare to work in poor schools where kids struggle and you can bet that "washing away" half the kids in our schools is, in fact, exactly what they've planned.

It's notable that, when he lived in Chicago, Barack Obama played basketball with city school chief Arne Duncan, but Obama sure as hell didn't send his kids to Arne's crap public schools. Those are for po' folk.

His kids went to the tony "Lab" School in Hyde Park. Obama knows what Duncan knows and what Romney knows: there's no money and no need for universal education. Yes, they like to say that "children are our future." But they mean the children of China are our future, the Chinese kids who will make the stuff we want and the children of India who will program it all for us.

After all, how much education does some obese kid from Texas need to stack boxes from China in a Wal-Mart warehouse?

Education is no longer about information and learning skills. It's now about "triage." A few selected by standardized tests or privileged birth will be anointed and permitted into better and "gifted" schools.

The chosen elite are still very much needed: to invest in India and Vietnam, to design new derivatives to circumvent the laughable new banking laws, and to maintain order among the restless hundred-million drop-outs squeezed out of the colon of our educational system.

Democrats' Bantustans, Republicans' Value-less Vouchers.

The Obama/Duncan/Emanuel plan is to create Bantustans of un-chartered, cheaply-run dumpster schools within a government system. But Romney and the GOP would give every child a "choice" even outside government schools with "vouchers."

Of course, the "vouchers" don't vouch for much. Romney's old alma mater, Cranbrook Academy, runs at $34,025 a year, not counting the polo sticks and horse. The most generous voucher program is Washington DC's, beloved of the GOP, which pays about $7,500, or if the student's "choice" is Cranbrook, about 2 months of school. Hyde Park Day School Chicago is $35,900. To give each kid a real choice, not just a coupon, means a massive increase in spending per pupil. I didn't see that in the Republican platform, did you?

The experienced teacher in Chicago who took the pay cut was offered one consolation. She was told she could make up some of the pay loss by quitting the union and saving on union dues.

So that's the program. An educational Katrina: squeeze the teachers until they strike, demolish their unions and drown the students.

Chicago's classroom war is class war by another name.

Class dismissed. (c) 2012 Greg Palast is author of the New York Times bestseller, "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy." His investigations for BBC TV and Democracy Now! can be seen by subscribing to 's reports at. Greg will be providing investigative reports for

The Remarkable Intelligence Of Birds
By James Donahue

I have always had a special love for the birds. In my youth, while growing up on the family farm in Michigan, we had a special relationship with the wrens that nested each season under the eaves of one of the porches of our house. When we plowed each spring we looked out for the killdeer that nested on the ground in a particular field. There was always a small, unplowed spot in that field where that mother bird hatched her eggs and raised her young. For a while I took on a hobby of spotting and identifying the various birds that passed our way during the migration season. I would go to sleep listening to the nightly songs of the whippoorwills and the mourning doves as I lay in my bed next to an open window.

Over the years I have been a silent observer of bird behavior, and I have been amazed at the special intelligence they have shown. I remember a crow that seemed to enjoy teasing my father when he seeded his garden in the spring. That bird would watch as Dad dropped his seeds in the open trench of a garden row, then drop down and follow him, eating the seeds when my father's back was turned. Dad tried everything to chase away that bird. He even built an elaborate scarecrow that stood for a while in the garden. The bird would roost on the arms of the scarecrow, almost in mockery. What was even more amazing was that this crow calculated the window to my parent's bedroom, and would be standing on the sill in the morning, looking in when Mom and Dad were getting up.

Our son and his wife owned an African Grey parrot when they lived in the San Francisco area a few years ago. This bird had an amazing vocabulary and you could almost hold a conversation with it. It was eerie to sit in the same room with that parrot as it studied every move we made, and listened to every word we said.

One Christmas when we lived in an apartment complex at the edge of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest near Show Low, Arizona, I was sitting in the morning sun on an open balcony. I had a pocket filled with peanuts that I had grabbed from the seasonal nut bowl.

Suddenly a small woodpecker landed on the railing nearby. On a lark I dropped a nut. The bird quickly flew down, grabbed the nut in its beak and flow off. Shortly after this I had three woodpeckers on the railing, all obviously wanting a treat. I began dropping nuts and watching the birds fly off with their prizes, only to return in hopes of getting another. I began experimenting with these birds. I started dropping the nuts closer and closer to where I was sitting. There appeared to be a limit as to how close the birds would come to me. Once I reached that limit, something interesting happened. The birds refused to take the nut as long as I was watching. Suddenly I heard a loud rapping on the wall of the apartment building behind me. When I turned to look, the nut disappeared. The birds had worked in harmony to distract me so they could safely steal their prize.

Because of these and other personal experiences with the birds, I read with great interest stories about various experiments with birds by biologists who have been amazed at the collective behavior that these creatures display. It appears that they have a social order that not only involves planning ahead by storing food, but at least one species, the western scrub jays, seems to mourn their dead.

Researchers at the University of California, Davis, led by Teresa Iglesias, in a paper published in the journal Animal Behavior, told how these jays gather around the dead body of one of their own, calling unique "zeep" sounds which appears to be a call to other jays to join them in their mourning ceremony. While doing this, the jays stop foraging. This behavior sometimes continues for more than a day.

The Davis researchers experimented by creating false wooden replicas of dead jays, and even used stuffed jays, and the birds were not fooled. They reacted indifferently to the decoys.

In yet another study, published in the journal Biology Letters, Professor Nicola Clayton of the University of Cambridge, found through experiments with Eurasian jays that these birds appear to not only store food for future needs, but will "pack" lunches with mixed varieties of foods when given the opportunity.

To learn if these jays thought about the future, Clayton's team created special boxes for the birds to use to store caches of a variety of foods. Then the birds were treated to quantities of peanuts for several days, then later given raisins. From a complex series of experiments, they discovered that the birds were mixing the excess nuts and raisins in the special boxes. It was as if they were packing a variety of foods for future meals.

Yet another research team at New Zealand's University of Auckland have found that crows whittle branches into hooks and tear leaves into barbed probes to extract food from hard-to-reach nooks. Thus the crows are showing problem-solving behavior and innovative ways to fashion primitive tools in their quest to find food.

In one interesting experiment, the New Zealand team captured seven wild crows, placed them in an aviary, and then created a complicated problem for them to solve. Each bird, acting alone, was placed in a cage where there was out-of-reach food, but tools that could be used to extract the food. This involved a complicated combination of using a piece of string a long stick that was also out of the bird's easy reach, and another short tool that could recover the long stick. All of the birds solved the problem and recovered the food, often on the first attempt.
(c) 2012 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles. He currently produces daily articles for this web site

Nuclear Roulette
By David Swanson

As the Coalition Against Nukes prepares for a series of events in Washington, D.C., September 20-22, including a Capitol Hill rally, a Congressional briefing, a fundraiser at Busboys and Poets, a ceremony at the Museum of the American Indian, a rally at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), a film screening, and a strategy session, the time seems ideal to take in the wisdom of Gar Smith's new book, "Nuclear Roulette: The Truth About the Most Dangerous Energy Source on Earth."

Most dangerous indeed, and most useless, most inefficient, most destructive, and dumbest. How does nuclear energy make the human species look like the stupidest concoction since the platypus? Let me count the ways:

1. After the mining, processing, and shipping of uranium, and the plant construction, maintenance, and deconstruction, a nuclear plant only produces about as much energy as went into it -- not counting the need to store the only thing it actually produces (radioactive waste) for hundreds of thousands of years -- and not counting the sacrifice of areas of the earth, including those poisoned with uranium, which has a half life of 4.5 billion years and causes lung cancer, bone cancer, and kidney failure.

2. Wind, solar, hydro, and geothermal have far better net energy ratios.

3. If nuclear power actually worked against climate change, that fact would not be useful, because there is no way enough nuclear power plants to significantly contribute to the required difference could be built quickly enough.

4. If nuclear power plants could be built quickly enough, that wouldn't matter, because the financial cost is prohibitive. Only with multi-billion-dollar bailouts from the government can a tiny number of nuclear plants be considered for construction at all. The sainted Private Marketplace of Freedom will never touch nuclear construction on its own -- or insure it. And the small number of jobs created by the "Job Creator" lobbyists who push for the generous public loan guarantees mostly show up in Japanese and French nuclear companies, thus depriving the whole enterprise of its anti-foreign-oil xenophobic appeal. (Not to mention, most of the uranium used in U.S. nuclear plants comes from abroad just like oil.) Deconstructing the plants when they grow too old to operate costs so much that the job is routinely and recklessly put off -- and that doesn't count the fairly common expense of compensating the victims of accidents.

5. The nuclear industry is in debt up to its ears already, without our feeding its habit any longer. For example, Washington State's Hanford Nuclear Reservation has dumped 1.7 trillion gallons of contaminated waste into unlined trenches. The latest plan to try to deal with the mess comes with a $12.3 billion price tag.

6. Even if nuclear power worked when it worked, it's remarkably unreliable. Between 2003 and 2007, U.S. nuclear plants were shut down 10.6 percent of the time, compared to 1 or 2 percent for solar stations and wind farms.

7. Nuclear power produces greenhouse gases in the mining, production, deconstruction, shipping, and waste storage processes. It also discharges 1000 degree Fahrenheit steam directly into the atmosphere. Considering the entire fuel cycle, a nuclear reactor burning high-grade uranium produces about a third as much carbon dioxide as a gas-fired power plant. As high-grade uranium runs out, low-grade ore will result in a nuclear plant producing just as much carbon dioxide as a gas plant.

8. Climate change may have reached a tipping point. Radioactivity could as well. Birds and insects near Chernobyl are adapting. Humans, too, may be beginning to evolve within the Radiocene era to which the earth has been condemned.

9. Climate change limits nuclear energy, as the heat forces plants to shut down for lack of cool water.

10. The Three Mile Island disaster killed birds, bees, and livestock. Pets were born dead or deformed. In humans, cancer, leukemia, and birth defects spread. Chernobyl gave cancer to about a million people. Fukushima looks to be far worse. Meltdowns and other major malfunctions are common, in the United States and abroad. Gar Smith documents dozens. The worst nuclear disaster in the United States was in Simi Valley, California, and no one was told about it. The rates of disease and death led residents to investigate. I shouldn't use the past tense; the disaster is still there and not going anywhere in the span of human attention.

11. The rate of break downs and failures thus far is very likely to grow as nuclear plants age. Meanwhile, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), subservient to the nuclear profiteers, is drastically reducing safety standards.

12. In the normal course of proper nuclear power production, the water, air, and earth are poisoned.

13. The NRC publicly dismisses concerns about earthquakes, but privately panics. Earthquakes are on the rise. Fracking may cause even more of them. Fukushima should scare us all; but closer to home, a plant at Lake Anna, in Virginia, was shut down by an earthquake last year, possibly caused by fracking, and the first response was the publication of lies about the damage.

14. If anticipated solar flares (or anything else) collapse power grids, nuclear plants could overheat, melt down, or explode.

15. An average nuclear plant produces 20-30 tons of high-level waste and 70 tons of low-level waste per year. No proven long-term storage site exists. If one ever does, we won't know what language to post the warning signs in, as no human language has lasted a fraction of the time the nuclear waste will remain deadly.

16. When a country develops nuclear energy, as the United States encouraged Iran to do in my lifetime, it brings that country very close to developing nuclear weapons, which has become a leading excuse for launching and threatening wars. It doesn't help for the CIA to give Iran plans for building a bomb, but ridding the world of that sort of stupidity is just not within our reach. Ridding the world of nukes needs to take priority.

17. There is no purpose in a nation developing nuclear weapons if it wants to target an enemy that possesses nuclear power plants. Sitting duck nuclear catastrophes waiting to happen -- by accident or malice -- exist in the form of nuclear power plants within 50 miles of 108 million people in the United States. Nuclear reactors could have been somewhat protected by being built underground, but that would have cost more. Haruki Murakami, a Japanese novelist, commented on Fukushima: "This time no one dropped a bomb on us. . . . We set the stage, we committed the crime with our own hands, we are destroying our own lands, and we are destroying our own lives."

18. The latest designs in nuclear reactors don't change points 1-17.

19. The Associated Press in 2011 found that, "Federal regulators [at the NRC] have been working closely with the nuclear power industry to keep the nation's aging reactors operating within safety standards by repeatedly weakening those standards, or simply failing to enforce them."

20. Helping to shake the nuke habit would take 30 seconds and be ridiculously easy, and yet many won't do it.

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

Pacifist America
Antiwarriors Are Citizens Without a Party
By Ted Rall

Americans overwhelmingly oppose the wars against Afghanistan and Iraq. Even many veterans say the post-9/11 war on terror was a mistake.

Antiwar sentiment is the majority opinion when it comes to the prospect of future conflicts. Of the two countries the U.S. is currently most likely to attack militarily, nearly seven out of ten people are against invading Syria; even polls that ask leading questions ("do you favor a military strike to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons?") find public opinion running opposed to attacking Iran, by 52% to 41%.

Not only are most Americans against wars present and future, we want to slash defense spending in general. According to a National Journal poll, 60% want to cut the Pentagon budget. Thirty-five percent don't.

Eleven years after America lost the Twin Towers and then its collective mind, something remarkable has happened. We've come to our senses.

We're a nation of pacifists.

So how is a pacifist-in other words, an average American-supposed to vote this fall? Obviously not Republican: Romney says he'll cut every department except Defense. He wants to spend more on weapons, is open to fighting against Afghanistan and Iraq indefinitely, and is so ignorant that he doesn't know that the people of Afghanistan are called Afghans.

But with all the veteran and war messaging that went on at last week's national convention, Democrats look like a mirror image of the GOP: jingoistic, militaristic, and gung-ho for war. Between pogo-dancing on Osama bin Laden's corpse, the airing of a mawkish "Honoring the Sacred Trust with Our Veterans" video that spread the debunked right-wing myth that returning Vietnam vets got disrespected, the First Lady donning a Dubya-inspired "support our troops" T-shirt, and Democrats' petty attack on Mitt Romney for omitting to name-check vets in his nomination acceptance address, it felt like the 2002-03 build-up to the invasion of Iraq-except, this time, the president speaks fluent English.

It's official: the Dems are a war party.

Why the new bellicose tone? In part it's an attempt to counter the old canard that Democrats are weak on defense, a charge that Republicans used to their electoral advantage throughout the Cold War. As the probably doped Lance Armstrong advised, turn your biggest weakness into your strongest strength. (The Machiavellian Karl Rove, who attacked John Kerry's war record of all things, put it the other way around: turn their biggest strength into their biggest weakness.) It's also a reflection of the triumph of Democratic Leadership Council-inspired conservatives, who have cowed, purged and marginalized liberals and pacifists from the party.

Militarism may be unpopular, but it still rules the ruling class. The military-industrial complex enjoys more direct political and economic influence among government officials than ever. The post-9/11 Cult of the Noble Soldier, coupled with the myth of a beleaguered U.S. defending the world from barbarians in an epic clash of civilizations, merely recasts old-fashioned fascist militarism-and it's just as effective at confusing leftie opponents and putting them off-balance.

Truth be told, the Democrats' new hawkish tone is catching up with their party's hawkish history. Ronald Reagan gets credit for the defense build-up of the 1980s that supposedly bankrupted the Soviet Union, but it was Jimmy Carter who started it in 1978. No one remembers now, but "wimpy" Carter also gave us draft registration (in response to the Russian invasion of Afghanistan). Mr. Habitat for Humanity sent arms to the Afghan mujahedeen (some of whom formed Al Qaeda) and provoked the Iran hostage crisis by admitting the recently deposed Shah to the U.S. Bill Clinton launched an optional war of choice against Serbia based on sketchy justifications, and waged an incessant aerial bombing campaign against Iraq that went on so long that the media got bored and stopped covering it, and U.S. pilots ran out of targets.

President Obama may not have been popular with the SEAL team he sent to assassinate bin Laden, but thousands of Pakistanis, Afghans, Yemenis and Somalis victimized by the reign of terror unleashed by his unprecedented, expanded program of drone plane bombings can attest to his credentials as a happy warrior. "Barack Obama," Aaron David Miller, Middle East policy adviser to Republican and Democratic administrations, wrote recently, "has become George W. Bush on steroids."

Democrats have always been pro-war. They'd might as well shout it from the rooftops.

Most Americans are against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the cult of militarism and the untouchable status of Pentagon spending on weapons. Yet there is no political home for people who oppose our current wars, or war in general.

Where is a pacifist to go?
(c) 2012 Ted Rall is the author of the new books "Silk Road to Ruin: Is Central Asia the New Middle East?" and "The Anti-American Manifesto."His newest book is, "The Book of Obama: How We Went From Hope and Change to the Age of Revolt."

Neocons Slither Back
By Maureen Dowd

PAUL RYAN has not sauteed in foreign policy in his years on Capitol Hill. The 42-year-old congressman is no Middle East savant; till now, his idea of a border dispute has more likely involved Wisconsin and Illinois.

Yet Ryan got up at the Values Voter Summit here on Friday and skewered the Obama administration as it struggled to manage the Middle East mess left by clumsily mixed American signals toward the Arab Spring and the disastrous legacy of war-obsessed Republicans.

Ryan bemoaned "the slaughter of brave dissidents in Syria. Mobs storming American embassies and consulates. Iran four years closer to gaining a nuclear weapon. Israel, our best ally in the region, treated with indifference bordering on contempt by the Obama administration." American foreign policy, he said, "needs moral clarity and firmness of purpose."

Ryan was moving his mouth, but the voice was the neocon puppet master Dan Senor. The hawkish Romney adviser has been secunded to manage the running mate and graft a Manichaean worldview onto the foreign affairs neophyte.

A moral, muscular foreign policy; a disdain for weakness and diplomacy; a duty to invade and bomb Israel's neighbors; a divine right to pre-emption - it's all ominously familiar.

You can draw a direct line from the hyperpower manifesto of the Project for the New American Century, which the neocons, abetted by Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, used to prod an insecure and uninformed president into invading Iraq - a wildly misguided attempt to intimidate Arabs through the shock of overwhelming force. How's that going for us?

After 9/11, the neocons captured one Republican president who was naive about the world. Now, amid contagious Arab rage sparked on the 11th anniversary of 9/11, they have captured another would-be Republican president and vice president, both jejeune about the world.

Senor is emblematic of how much trouble America blundered into in the Middle East - trillions wasted, so many lives and limbs lost - because of how little we fathom the culture and sectarian politics. We're still stumbling in the dark. We not only don't know who our allies and enemies are, we don't know who our allies' and enemies' allies and enemies are.

As the spokesman for Paul Bremer during the Iraq occupation, Senor helped perpetrate one of the biggest foreign policy bungles in American history. The clueless desert viceroys summarily disbanded the Iraqi Army, forced de-Baathification, stood frozen in denial as thugs looted ministries and museums, deluded themselves about the growing insurgency, and misled reporters with their Panglossian scenarios of progress.

"Off the record, Paris is burning," Senor told a group of reporters a year into the war. "On the record, security and stability are returning to Iraq."

Before he played ventriloquist to Ryan, Senor did the same for Romney, ratcheting up the candidate's irresponsible bellicosity on the Middle East. Senor was the key adviser on Romney's disastrous trip to Israel in July, when Mittens infuriated the Palestinians by making a chuckleheaded claim about their culture.

Senor got out over his skis before Romney's speech in Jerusalem, telling reporters that Mitt would say he respected Israel's right to make a pre-emptive, unilateral attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.

While the Muslim world burned on Friday, Mitt was in New York with Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan confessing that he wears "as little as possible" to bed. With no global vision or historical perspective - he didn't even remember during his Tampa convention to mention our troops or the years of war his party reigned over - Romney is simply kowtowing to the right again.

Paul Wolfowitz, an Iraq war architect, weighed in on Fox News, slimily asserting that President Obama should not be allowed to "slither through" without a clear position on Libya.

Republicans are bananas on this one. They blame Obama for casting Hosni Mubarak overboard and contradict themselves by blaming him for not supporting the Arab Spring. One minute Romney parrots Bibi Netanyahu's position on Iran, the next Obama's.

Romney's cynical braying about Obama appeasement in the midst of the attack on the American diplomatic post in Libya and the murder of the brave ambassador, Christopher Stevens, was shameful. Richard Williamson, a Romney adviser, had the gall to tell The Washington Post, "There's a pretty compelling story that if you had a President Romney, you'd be in a different situation."

He's right - a scarier situation. If President Romney acceded to Netanyahu's outrageous demand for clear red lines on Iran, this global confrontation would be a tiny foretaste of the conflagration to come.

Cheney, described by Romney as a "person of wisdom and judgment," is lurking. On Monday, he churlishly tried to deny President Obama credit for putting Osama in the cross hairs, cattily referring to a report that Obama had not gone to all his intelligence briefings.

Well, yes. W. got briefings, like the one that warned him on Aug. 6, 2001: "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." That didn't work so well either, did it?
(c) 2012 Maureen Dowd, winner of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary, became a New York Times Op-Ed columnist in 1995 after having served as a correspondent in the paper's Washington bureau since 1986. She has covered four presidential campaigns and served as White House correspondent. She also wrote a column, "On Washington," for The New York Times Magazine.

Hating On Ben Bernanke
By Paul Krugman

Last week Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman, announced a change in his institution's recession-fighting strategies. In so doing he seemed to be responding to the arguments of critics who have said the Fed can and should be doing more. And Republicans went wild.

Now, many people on the right have long been obsessed with the notion that we'll be facing runaway inflation any day now. The surprise was how readily Mitt Romney joined in the craziness.

So what did Mr. Bernanke announce, and why?

The Fed normally responds to a weak economy by buying short-term U.S. government debt from banks. This adds to bank reserves; the banks go out and lend more; and the economy perks up.

Unfortunately, the scale of the financial crisis, which left behind a huge overhang of consumer debt, depressed the economy so severely that the usual channels of monetary policy don't work. The Fed can bulk up bank reserves, but the banks have little incentive to lend the money out, because short-term interest rates are near zero. So the reserves just sit there.

The Fed's response to this problem has been "quantitative easing," a confusing term for buying assets other than Treasury bills, such as long-term U.S. debt. The hope has been that such purchases will drive down the cost of borrowing, and boost the economy even though conventional monetary policy has reached its limit.

Sure enough, last week's Fed announcement included another round of quantitative easing, this time involving mortgage-backed securities. The big news, however, was the Fed's declaration that "a highly accommodative stance of monetary policy will remain appropriate for a considerable time after the economic recovery strengthens." In plain English, the Fed is more or less promising that it won't start raising interest rates as soon as the economy looks better, that it will hold off until the economy is actually booming and (perhaps) until inflation has gone significantly higher.

The idea here is that by indicating its willingness to let the economy rip for a while, the Fed can encourage more private-sector spending right away. Potential home buyers will be encouraged by the prospect of moderately higher inflation that will make their debt easier to repay; corporations will be encouraged by the prospect of higher future sales; stocks will rise, increasing wealth, and the dollar will fall, making U.S. exports more competitive.

This is very much the kind of action Fed critics have advocated - and that Mr. Bernanke himself used to advocate before he became Fed chairman. True, it's a lot less explicit than the critics would have liked. But it's still a welcome move, although far from being a panacea for the economy's troubles (a point Mr. Bernanke himself emphasized).

And Republicans, as I said, have gone wild, with Mr. Romney joining in the craziness. His campaign issued a news release denouncing the Fed's move as giving the economy an "artificial" boost - he later described it as a "sugar high" - and declaring that "we should be creating wealth, not printing dollars."

Mr. Romney's language echoed that of the "liquidationists" of the 1930s, who argued against doing anything to mitigate the Great Depression. Until recently, the verdict on liquidationism seemed clear: it has been rejected and ridiculed not just by liberals and Keynesians but by conservatives too, including none other than Milton Friedman. "Aggressive monetary policy can reduce the depth of a recession," declared the George W. Bush administration in its 2004 Economic Report of the President. And the author of that report, Harvard's N. Gregory Mankiw, has actually advocated a much more aggressive Fed policy than the one announced last week.

Now Mr. Mankiw is allegedly a Romney adviser - but the candidate's position on economic policy is evidently being dictated by extremists who warn that any effort to fight this slump will turn us into Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe I tell you.

Oh, and what about Mr. Romney's ideas for "creating wealth"? The Romney economic "plan" offers no specifics about what he would actually do. The thrust of it, however, is that what America needs is less environmental protection and lower taxes on the wealthy. Surprise!

Indeed, as Mike Konczal of the Roosevelt Institute points out, the Romney plan of 2012 is almost identical - and with the same turns of phrase - to John McCain's plan in 2008, not to mention the plans laid out by George W. Bush in 2004 and 2006. The situation changes, but the song remains the same.

So last week we learned that Ben Bernanke is willing to listen to sensible critics and change course. But we also learned that on economic policy, as on foreign policy, Mitt Romney has abandoned any pose of moderation and taken up residence in the right's intellectual fever swamps.
(c) 2012 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

"Empathy is not simply a matter of trying to imagine what others are going through, but having the will to muster enough courage to do something about it."
~~~ Cornel West

Demonstrators with the Occupy Wall Street movement at Foley Square in New York, September 16, 2012.

I Will Occupy
By William Rivers Pitt

When the history of this age is written - if there are people left to write it, and if there is technology left to hold it - it will speak of a generation on the brink. Financial calamity combined with economic collapse combined with endless warfare and bottomless greed united to create a beast with hot breath and blood-red eyes that stares us dead in the face. It is an age on the edge of doom, and yet we persist in the suicidal madness of deliberate ignorance. If that history is written, the first line will be, "They were fools."

That history will remember Occupy, and a year when a chance was held forth to seize on the idea that this looming collective calamity can be sidestepped. History will remember Occupy as having offered one last, best chance to be more than we are, to see the beast for what it is, and to slay it once and for all.

But Occupy is over, right? That is what they would like you to believe in the board rooms, and in the newsrooms that do their bidding. The camps are gone, there was no message, there were no leaders, and now there is nothing left. Why cling to an idea that went nowhere?

Because an idea never dies, because this idea is not dead, because Occupy lives on all across America and all across the world. Occupy lives in every American city and in every national capitol on the planet. Occupy continues to fight against the greed and violence of the powerful. Occupy continues to fight against those who are murdering our world with pollution and the profit motive. Occupy continues to fight unfair foreclosures and evictions, to stand with Labor and the rights of workers, to push back against the perpetual wars that suck the life out of everything and everyone. Occupy continues to stand in England, in Canada, in Mexico, in Chile, in Greece, in Spain, in Russia, in India, and in so many other places besides; in every place where there are people, there is Occupy.

Occupy continues.

Occupy has given us the concept of the 99% vs. the 1%, and that has stuck. Now, in America, the entire political discussion holds as its center of gravity this simple, undeniable description of staggering inequality and unfairness. In America, the Republican Party has selected Mitt Romney as its presidential nominee, and in doing so has given us the perfect avatar for who and what the 1% truly represents.

But Occupy is not about parties, or politics, or leaders. Occupy is about people, and their individual power to create change. The camps were a means to an end, a way to grab the news media by the throat and demand attention. Most of the camps are gone now, but the people remain, and within them lives the knowledge that they do not need to follow parties or leaders, but can act on their own to collectively drag this old, dying, deceitful way of things back from the precipice to create a better world.

One year ago, Occupy began. One year from now, I will be a father for the first time. My child will be six months old, and living in a world fraught with peril. It does not have to be how it has been, and for my child, I will Occupy. I will Occupy for an end to greed, for an end to war, for an end to savage inequality, for clean air and water, for safe food and fair work, for the new day that awaits my child if we all, right here, right now, come together and put an end to this madness before it puts an end to us.

Our history is not yet written.

Write it.

(c) 2012 William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of three books: "War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know" and "The Greatest Sedition Is Silence." His newest book, "House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation." He lives and works in Boston.

Why Romney And Ryan Are Going Down
By Robert Reich

Unemployment is still above 8 percent, job gains aren't even keeping up with population growth, the economy is barely moving forward. And yet, according to most polls, the Romney-Ryan ticket is falling further and further behind. How can this be?

Because Republicans are failing the central test of electability. Instead of putting together the largest possible coalition of voters, they're relying largely on one slice of America - middle-aged white men - and alienating just about everyone else.

Start with Hispanics, whose electoral heft keeps growing as they become an ever-larger portion of the electorate. Hispanics now favor President Obama over Romney-Ryan by a larger margin than they did six months ago.

Why? In last February's Republican primary debate Romney dubbed Arizona's controversial immigration policy - that authorized police to demand proof of citizenship from anyone looking Hispanic - a "model law" for the rest of the nation.

Romney then attacked GOP rival Texas Governor Rick Perry for supporting in-state tuition at the University of Texas for children of undocumented immigrants. And Romney advocates what he calls "self-deportation" - making life so difficult for undocumented immigrants and their families that they choose to leave.

As if all this weren't enough, the GOP has been pushing voter ID laws all over America, whose obvious aim is to intimidate Hispanic voters so they won't come to the polls. But they may be having the opposite effect - emboldening the vast majority of ethnic Hispanics, who are American citizens, to vote in even greater numbers and lend even more support to Obama and other Democrats.

Or consider women - whose political and economic impact in America continues to grow (women are fast becoming better educated than men and the major breadwinners in American homes). According to polls, the political gender gap is widening.

Why? It's not just GOP senatorial candidate Todd Akin's call to ban all abortions even in the case of "legitimate rape" (because he believes women's bodies somehow reject violent sperm). The GOP platform itself seeks to bar all abortions, with no exception for rape or incest. And on several occasions Paul Ryan has voted in favor of exactly such legislation.

Meanwhile, Republican legislators in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Idaho, and Alabama have pushed bills requiring women seeking abortions to undergo invasive vaginal ultrasound tests. All told, over 400 Republican bills are pending in state legislatures, attacking women's reproductive rights.

Republicans have repeatedly voted against legislation giving women equal pay for the same work as men. Republicans in Wisconsin have even repealed a law designed to prevent employers from discriminating against women.

Or consider students - a significant and growing electoral force, who voted overwhelmingly for Obama in 2008. What are Republicans doing to woo them back?

Paul Ryan's budget plan - approved by almost every House Republican and enthusiastically endorsed by Mitt Romney - would have allowed rates on student loans to double, adding an average of $1,000 a year to student debt loads. (Under mounting political pressure, House Republicans came up with just enough money to keep the loan program going safely past Election Day by raiding a fund established for preventive care in the new health-care act.)

Now Romney wants to hand the federal student loan program over to the banks, which will charge even more. Earlier this year he argued subsidized student loans were bad because they encouraged colleges to raise their tuition, and suggested students ask their families for money.

Republicans have even managed to antagonize seniors by seeking to turn Medicare into vouchers whose value won't keep up with rising healthcare costs, and cutting $800 billion out of Medicaid (which many seniors rely on for nursing home care).

And, of course, they've come out against equal marriage rights for gay couples.

Romney, Ryan, and the GOP don't seem to know how to satisfy their middle-aged white male base without at the same time turning off everyone who's not white, male, straight, or middle-aged. Unfortunately for Romney and Ryan, the people they're turning off are the majority.
(c) 2012 Robert Reich is Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written twelve books, including The Work of Nations, Locked in the Cabinet, and his most recent book, Supercapitalism. His "Marketplace" commentaries can be found on and iTunes.

The Dead Letter Office...

Heil Obama,

Dear Richter Lohier,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your overturning of a stay order against the injunction against indefinite detention law , Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Syria and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Demoncratic whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Knight's Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 10-30-2012. We salute you Herr Lohier, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

Wisconsin Judge Rules Walker's Anti-Labor Law 'Null and Void'
By John Nichols

A Wisconsin judge has struck down key sections of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's controversial anti-labor law, in a ruling that union leaders say renews collective-bargaining rights for tens of thousands of municipal and school district employees across the state.

"Collective bargaining has been restored for teachers across Wisconsin, for municipal employees across Wisconsin," declared Madison Teachers Inc. director John Matthews, whose union brought the suit along with Laborers Local 61, a Milwaukee Public employees union. "We are back to where we were before Scott Walker moved to take away our rights."

Dane County Judge Juan Colas ruled that Walker's law-which sparked mass protests, the occupation of the state Capitol for weeks and a series of recall elections that (while they did not remove the governor from office) shifted control of the state Senate from Walker's Republican allies to pro-labor Democrats-violates "rights of free speech, association and equal protection."

The judge also ruled that Walker's Act 10 violated the state constitution's Home Rule Amendment, which allows municipalities to establish their own laws and practices, and the state constitutional prohibition against impairment of contracts. Those sections of the decision restore refer to pension protections, which had been undermined by Act 10.

Because of the violations of federal and state constitutional protections, Judge Colas ruled unequivocally that: "Those sections found to be unconstitutional are void and without effect."

The Walker administration announced immediately that it would appeal the decision, and there was lively debate about where exactly relations between local governments and school districts now stand.

But Matthews said that, after consultation with his lawyer and with school board members, he believes "collective bargaining is back in effect. Our rights have been restored to where they were in January, 2011."

Under Walker's Act 10, most of the protections contained in Wisconsin's fifty-year-old public employee collective bargaining law were struck down. Workers for the state, counties, municipalities and school districts were barred from negotiating for benefits and pensions and on workplace safety issues. Public-employee unions could not organize in traditional ways and faced limits on their ability to collect dues and otherwise maintain their operations.

Now, says Lester Pines, the attorney for the two unions that sued the state, "the decision essentially creates the [2011] status quo for municipal employees and school district employees because it declared the essential provisions of Act 10 to be unconstitutional."

That is not necessarily the case for state employees, since the ruling came in a case brought by municipal and school district employee unions.

But state employee union leaders say their lawyers are reviewing the judge's decision and they suggest that the detailed referencing of constitutional concerns leads them to believe they could seek judicial intervention on behalf of their members.

What this means is that the Wisconsin fight, now more than a year and a half old, is far from finished.

It also means that union activists who framed their mass protests in February and March of 2011 on constitutional lines, arguing that their rights were under attack, may well have understood the real issues better than the governor or his legislative allies.

"As we have said from day one, Scott Walker's attempt to silence the union men and women of Wisconsin's public sector was an immoral, unjust and illegal power grab," Phil Neuenfeldt, the president of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO, said Friday night. "Now, a court has ruled that the essential provisions of Act 10, Scott Walker's draconian attack on public worker's right to collectively bargain, is unconstitutional."
(c) 2012 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His new book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, has just been published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.


Al-Qa'ida Cashes In As The Scorpion Gets In Among The Good Guys
By Robert Fisk

A Damascus friend of mine called this weekend and was pretty chipper. "You know, we're all sorry about Christopher Stevens. This kind of thing is terrible and he was a good friend to Syria - he understood the Arabs." I let him get away with this, though I knew what was coming. "But we have an expression in Syria: 'If you feed a scorpion, it will bite you.'" His message couldn't have been clearer.

The United States supported the opposition against Libya's Colonel Gaddafi, helped Saudi Arabia and Qatar pour cash and weapons to the militias and had now reaped the whirlwind. America's Libyan "friends" had turned against them, murdered US ambassador Stevens and his colleagues in Benghazi and started an al-Qa'ida-led anti-American protest movement that had consumed the Muslim world.

The US had fed the al-Qa'ida scorpion and now it had bitten America. And so Washington now supports the opposition against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, was helping Saudi Arabia and Qatar pour cash and weapons to the militias (including Salafists and al-Qa'ida) and would, inevitably, be bitten by the same "scorpion" if Assad was overthrown.

My friend's sermon was not quite in line with Syrian government policy. Assad's argument is that Syria is not Libya, and that Syrians, with their history, culture, love of Arabism, etc, did not want a revolution. But the Arab fury at Hollywood's obscene little anti-prophet video has occasioned almost as much rewriting of history in the West.

The US media has already invented a new story in which America supported the Arab Spring saved the city of Benghazi when its people were about to be destroyed by Gaddafi's monstrous thugs - and has now been stabbed in the back by those treacherous Arabs in the very city rescued by the US.

The real narrative, however, is different. Washington propped up and armed Arab dictatorships for decades, Saddam being one of our favourites. We loved Mubarak of Egypt, we adored Ben Ali of Tunisia, we are still passionately in love with the autocratic Gulf states, the gas stations now bankrolling the revolutions we choose to support - and we did, for at least two decades, smile upon Hafez al-Assad; even, briefly, his son Bashar.

So we saved Benghazi with our air power and expected the Arab world to love us. We ignored the composition of the Libyan militias we supported - just as Clinton and Hague don't dwell on the make-up of the Free Syrian Army today. We pay no attention to Assad's warnings of "foreign fighters", just as we largely ignored the Salafists who were moving among the brave men who fought Gaddafi.

Go back further, and we did pretty much the same in Afghanistan after 1980. We backed the mujahedin against the Soviets without paying attention to their theology and we used Pakistan to funnel weapons to these men. And when some of them transmogrified into the Taliban and nurtured Osama bin Laden and the scorpion bit on 9/11, we cried "terrorism" and wondered why the Afghans "betrayed" us. Same story yesterday, when four US Special Forces were murdered by their ungrateful Afghan police "trainees".

The tragedy of this pathetic cycle of events is that the Assad regime is horrible and its secret police thugs have tortured and murdered thousands of innocents, its personnel have committed war crimes and Syria's civil war is consuming a generation who should be building a nation rather than destroying it. And Turkey has now taken on Pakistan's role as an arms funnel and rest-and-recreation centre for Syria's mujahedin. Will Turkey turn out to be the Pakistan of the Middle East?

Syria's war is now taking on the carapace of Lebanon's 1975-90 conflict: sympathise with Palestinians and you were anti-Christian - express Christian fears and you were pro-Israeli. In Syria, the government's brutal snipers are killers of children. On the other side of the front line, the Free Syrian Army sniper is romantic; he gets married to a frontline nurse, only too sorry the family can't attend their nuptials. The mere suggestion that the opposition might be committing the occasional atrocity, and a reporter is asked - as I was - how much he is being paid by the Syrian mukhabarat intelligence service.

So over to the Department of Home Truths. When he was murdered, Osama bin Laden was a has-been. No Arab revolutionary carried his picture. But this wretched organisation has now decided to cash in. Hence this weekend's al-Qa'ida call to Egyptians to continue their protests against the anti-Muslim video. Hence Benghazi. The scorpion has got in among the good guys. All you need then is a Hollywood crackpot. And a bit of hypocrisy. For Washington reluctantly says it can't ban the video since this would endanger free speech - the same free speech which America's dictators forbad their Arab people for so many decades.
(c) 2012 Robert Fisk is Middle East correspondent for The Independent newspaper. He is the author of many books on the region, including "The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East."

The Cartoon Corner...

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

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

The Spinning Bounce
By Will Durst

Let's speak about The Bounce, shall we? The Bounce being the jump that a three-day, red-white-and-blue infomercial is expected to produce on a candidate's polling. The idea is to use The Bounce as a slingshot of momentum to whip you down the campaign straightaway directly into the swivel seat behind the desk of the Oval Office. Or close enough to let the Supreme Court appoint you. One or the other.

What usually happens, after both conventions have drop-kicked their last balloon, is an equilibrium is struck. One side goes up four to six points, then the other side goes up four to six points and you're pretty much back to where you started. The Bounce evens out. Not very exciting. Like sugar-free cookies. Or kissing Andrea Mitchell. Knocking back a shot of non- alcoholic wine. Otherwise known as grape juice.

This time around, the net result of two weeks in the Southeast in the dead of summer is President Barack Obama got a cumulative bump of between three and five points. Hard to say which event was more responsible for his ascension: his own Democratic National Convention, the Republican National Convention or Hurricane Akin.

Governor Mitt Romney got the same kind of Bounce you'd expect from an anvil dropped onto a swamp. Even his own staff called it "not large." Yeah. Not large being a euphemism for non- existent. It was not large in the same way that August in Charlotte does not feature a cluster of destination luge runs. Similar to how Kim Kardashian is not a Nobel Prize-winning nuclear physicist. Banana fritters aren't magnetic. An echoing abyss of whistling emptiness.

Some polls actually suggested the GOP ticket received less than Zero Bounce from their Convention. Less than zero. On the wrong side of the ledger. Red ink. A negative Bounce; which could be referred to as a Plunge. Might need to christen a new buzzword: the Convention Dip. But that would involve stripping Chris Christie of his own personal Tampa catalog description.

When a campaign finds itself Sans Bounce, its important to replace it with The Spin. As Republicans are feverishly attempting this year. Spinning like an aging hippie in a peasant dress dead stage left at a Grateful Dead tribute band concert. Twirling left. Spinning right. Spinning righter. Pay no attention to that man behind the fact-checking curtain.

The Spin should be fluid and flexible and is not required to be rooted in the real world. Its only purpose is to distract. "The Not So Large of a Bounce was due to Mr. Romney having already consolidated his base." "The Governor doesn't really need a Bounce because of the spring in his step." "All The Bounce this candidate needs can be found in his hair."

Not only do the Bounceless have to convince supporters and the base and most especially prospective donors that the candidate still has a shot, it is incumbent to also soft pedal and ridicule the other guy's visible Bounce. Phantom bounce.

Romney's pollster Neil Newhouse called the Obama Bounce "a sugar high." That may be so, but you got to remember, in tough times like these, a lot of we normal Americans got ourselves a heavy hankering for anything sweet. Even one of those sugar-free cookies.
(c) 2012 Will Durst, is a San Francisco based political comedian, Will Durst, often writes: this is an example. Don't forget his new CD, "Raging Moderate" from Stand-Up Records now available on both iTunes and Amazon. The New York Times says Emmy-nominated comedian and writer Will Durst "is quite possibly the best political satirist working in the country today." Check out his website: to find out about upcoming stand-up performances or to buy his book, "Will Durst's Totally Indispensable Guide to the 2012 Election."

The Gross National Debt

Iraq Deaths Estimator

The Animal Rescue Site

View my page on

Issues & Alibis Vol 12 # 38 (c) 09/21/2012

Issues & Alibis is published in America every Friday. We are not affiliated with, nor do we accept funds from any political party. We are a non-profit group that is dedicated to the restoration of the American Republic. All views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily the views of Issues & Alibis.Org.

In regards to copying anything from this site remember that everything here is copyrighted. Issues & Alibis has been given permission to publish everything on this site. When this isn't possible we rely on the "Fair Use" copyright law provisions. If you copy anything from this site to reprint make sure that you do too. We ask that you get our permission to reprint anything from this site and that you provide a link back to us. Here is the "Fair Use" provision.

"Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.

In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include:

(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors."