Issues & Alibis

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In This Edition

Noam Chomsky returns with, "Militarizing Latin America."

Uri Avnery sings a little bee-bop in, "UM-Shmum, UM-Boom."

Greg Palst wonders if it's, "Time To Change Bernanke's Medication?"

Jim Hightower watches as, "Banker Arrogance Chastised In Court."

Ray McGovern with a must read, "CIA Torturers Running Scared."

Amy Goodman warns, "Let Us Not Become the Evil We Deplore."

Paul Krugman concludes, "Reform Or Bust."

Chris Floyd explores, "Bad Medicine."

Case Wagenvoord witnesses, "The Blackening Of Our Black Hole."

Mike Folkerth covers, "Healthcare, Unemployment, And Other Diversions."

Chris Hedges follows as, "Globalization Goes Bankrupt."

Mary Pitt went, "Visiting Granny Grundy."

Dr. R. Scott Ralls, President, NC Community College System wins the coveted "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Glenn Greenwald finds, "CIA Directors Conclude CIA Shouldn't Be Investigated For Murder."

Gary Younge discovers, "The Morality Of The War On Terror Has Now Descended Into Viagra Handouts."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department 'The Onion' reports, "Melting Ice Caps Expose Hundreds Of Secret Arctic Lairs" but first Uncle Ernie sez, "We're Renewing The 'Traitors Act.'"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of John Darkow, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Ruben Bolling, John Sherffius, Matt Wuerker, Clay Bennett, Left Wing Conspiracy.Com, Mike Keefe, Oren Neu Dag, The White House, The BBC, Arizona State University, Nintendo, Issues & Alibis.Org and Pink & Blue Films.

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."

We're Renewing The 'Traitors Act
By Ernest Stewart

"We recommend reauthorizing section 206 of the USA PATRIOT Act, which provides for roving surveillance of targets who take measures to thwart FISA [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] surveillance. It has proven an important intelligence-gathering tool in a small but significant subset of FISA electronic surveillance orders." ~~~ Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich

"You Are Entering a 24 Hour Video Surveillance Area." ~~~ Signs in Medina, Washington

"I commend our State Board on a positive conclusion to a very difficult task. The Board came down on the side of educating people who have already demonstrated success by graduating from a US high school, who must pay a much higher rate of tuition to enroll and who will not displace a legal resident in obtaining a seat in a classroom. In short, this policy reflects the admissions standards of other states and of the public universities by offering educational opportunity to those who are willing to work hard to obtain it." ~~~ Dr. R. Scott Ralls, President, NC Community College System on Admissions Policy

I believe the phrase was "Change we can believe in," wasn't it? I didn't buy it then and nine months down the line, there is little to no evidence of it.

You may recall after the PNAC led 911 attack the fascists were standing by with a 800 page bill, "The Patriot Act," that they had been developing for decades, a wish list of various acts of treason designed to destroy the Constitution and Bill of Rights. (I'm just surprised that they didn't try to overturn the Emancipation Proclamation!)This they shoved down Con-gress' throat and made it the law of the land. Many politicians complained they didn't have time to read the bill so, instead of voting no or abstaining until they had the time to absorb it all, they voted for it. Makes sense doesn't it? Well, of course it doesn't and to vote for it was treason!

Now 8 years later, when parts of this outrage are set to expire on December 31st, along comes the Changeling who wants to keep at least three of the more dastardly provisions of this act of treason.

Barry would like to renew Sections 206, the section that allows "roving" wiretaps so FBI agents can, with or without court authorization, tap multiple phones or computers that a specific person (target) may use.

Section 215, the so-called "library provision," allows investigators to obtain business records and library records with or without approval from the FISA Court. A fishing expedition that allows for break-ins of peoples houses, hacking their computers, rummaging through their paper files and phone records etc, at home, at a public library and in the office. With severe penalties for the librarian, office manager or next-door neighbor who tells the victim what "Big Brother" is up to.

Section 6001, also know as the "lone wolf" provision, deals with suspects with no known links to foreign powers or terrorist groups except maybe going to a tea party rally or working for the insurance companies as a screamer at health care discussions or G20 protests. They can be followed day and night by black helicopters and the like.

Of course, everyone says they'll write in a provision to protect you and me if they can. Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich also told Democrats that the administration is "willing to consider" additional privacy safeguards advocated by lawmakers, so long as the provisions do not "undermine the effectiveness of these important authorities." Boy, there's a lot of wiggle room there, huh?

The bill, expected to come out this week, just proves that once they get their fascist foot in the door there is no turning back. Regardless of what Barry says, the country that we knew before 911 is gone for good, which is why he insists that we only look ahead to the future, to the "brave new world" these enemies of the people are creating for their corpo-rat masters. Now that I think about it, maybe Barry's promise of change is actually true. Funny that he didn't explain that the change he was talking about was a change for the worse!

In Other News

I see where 1984 has finally arrived in Medina, Washington. The citizens of Medina or as the locals call it, Medina Nightmare Village, are being watched, and their every move recorded for "their protection" by cameras on every corner and cops 24/7. This act of treason was brought about by their chief of Gestapo Jeffrey Chen who proudly boasts his men are ready "leap into action" at a moments notice.

The entire town is under constant watch. Several prominent signs proclaim, "You Are Entering a 24 Hour Video Surveillance Area." That scorching smell you may have noticed is the 4th Amendment being roasted alive. Like the pee tests for employment, this law upholds that old American tradition of "Guilty until proven innocent!"

Not to worry though. The politicians know exactly what they're doing so you have nothing to fear. Medina City Council member Lucius Biglow said "crime prevention outweighs concern over privacy." Oh really?

Lucius continued, "Privacy is considerably less nowadays than it was, say, 50 years ago. I think most of us are pretty well-documented by the federal government ... simply because of the Internet and credit cards." Oh well, in that case...

Not to worry about the tapes they're recording because Chief Chen says, "All captured information is stored for 60 days - even if nothing negative turns up. That allows police to mine data if a crime occurs later." Well that's a relief... NOT!

While a vast majority of citizens are against big brother, one is not. Multi- zillionaire Bill Gates is for it. Imagine that. I wrote them a letter; you knew I would, didn't you?

"G'Day Ya'll,

I see big brother has come to stay in Medina Nightmare Village. Bummer. I'm guessing the installation of death camps and a Soylent Green factory over by the Gates' Mansion are only months away? So much for the fourth amendment. In fact so much for the rest of the amendments and the Constitution too.

Now that big brother is watching everything and everyone, who'll be watching big brother?

I see that less than half of the people you are supposed to be working for approve of this 1984 nightmare. I guess you know better that the majority, huh? I also see that the Chief of Gestapo Chen is ready to "leap into action." Shouldn't that be "goose-step into action?" As enemy of the people Lucius Biglow said "crime prevention outweighs concern over privacy." Pardon me, Councilman Hitler, er, Biglow, what you've created is a police state, not a democracy or even the old republic.

As a wise man once said, "People shouldn't be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people." There is nothing wrong with the chief, Mayor Nelson, and the city council that a few years down in Gitmo wouldn't cure!

I would like to thank you for your example of how to create hell on Earth. Also, for writing next week's editorial! I laugh at you twisted, perverted, sons-of-bitches because sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying. That spinning noise you hear in the background is old Ben Jamin' Franklin and Tommy Jefferson spinning in their graves.

Can I get a Heil Nelson? What a waste of space and resources you people are!

Your radical pal,
Ernest Stewart
Managing editor
Issues & Alibis magazine"

And Finally

As "Billy the Bard" once said, "What's in a name? That which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet," and ain't it the truth. Still, as I recall from my school daze, the Profs were a little less broad in their definitions. I realize that in English you have a lot of words with more than one meaning but I can only come up with one meaning for the word illegal.

That's an illegal narcotic. It's illegal to break the speed limit. It's illegal not to pay taxes. It's illegal to kill someone for kicks. Of course, if you're ultra rich none of that applies to you, but for the rest of us illegal means illegal. Everyone, from a child in kindergarten to a PhD in charge of all the junior colleges in North Carolina, knows the meaning of illegal. Except, of course, when you attach the word aliens to it. An illegal alien is someone who broke the law by coming here illegally. It's been my experience when you break the law you are never rewarded but are punished in some way.

So you think a well educated man like Dr. R. Scott Ralls would know better than to help illegals break other laws. R. Scott is behind the scheme to educate anyone who can get here from wherever in taxpayer funded public junior colleges. Apparently R. Scott wasn't satisfied that this overwhelming wave of illegals is driving down the wages for everybody else but is also consuming vast amounts of our treasury in welfare, education, health care etc. R. Scott wants them to take away the good paying jobs that many out-of-work American citizens would kill to have. Did you guess? I wrote R. Scott a letter. Well, I wrote to his secretary, Megen, requesting an interview with the good doctor...

"Hey Megen,

I'd like to interview the good Dr. about the meaning of the word illegal. I'm guessing R. Scott got his PhD from the University of Mars or, mayhaps, from a box of Cracker Jacks? Otherwise, I'm sure that he would know the meaning of the word illegal? Let me, in that case, define for R. Scott the meaning of the word illegal:

"Illegal * adjective - contrary to or forbidden by law - Oxford Dictionary."

I'm sure my readers, many of whom are North Carolina taxpayers, would like to hear R. Scott's explanations for this act of treason. Also what other groups or classes of criminals does he plan on helping out with taxpayer monies? What next, Bankers, Politicians, Child Molesters, other Board Members? They're all illegal and have High School diplomas too! Anything is okay as long as there is money involved; laws are for suckers, huh?

Sincerely yours,
Ernest R. Stewart
Managing editor
Issues & Alibis magazine
PS. Please thank R. Scott for me for writing next Friday's editorial!"

I really don't expect to hear from them. Oh well.

Let me add that I have nothing against Mexicans or any other group. We are all the same, one big family. We are all from the same valley in Africa 4 million years ago. We are all the product of the weapon. In fact, I'd have no problem with starving people coming here looking for work if we were one world with no states, no borders, but we're not. We have managed, the world over, to enslave ourselves!

There are well over one billion people who would love to come to America and live but there aren't the resources for everybody. I don't blame the illegals, if I were in their shoes, I'd probably do the same thing. Still, the rich and those in power, R. Scott, don't obey the laws so why do they only apply to the rest of us? I say one law for everybody or anarchy. Personally I could live with either one. Methinks the choice is yours to make, America!

Oh And One More Thing

For all of you who have written in over the last four years wanting to see my pet project, i.e., "W The Movie" and couldn't get to it's very limited run in the theatres or film festivals, here's your chance. "W The Movie" is now available on DVD through If you are so inclined please use the link/portal for the film, which maybe found towards the bottom of this page. That way Amazon will send me a few pennies for each purchase, which may allow the continuation of the magazine as donations have been few and far between in this year of depression and we're running at a loss that we cannot afford to sustain.

This film, unlike Oliver Stone's love fest of W, takes our side. Thanks to Ollie and Lions Gate films, you weren't allowed to see "W The Movie" in the theatres or at most film festivals because, like in those Communist Witch Hunts daze of the 1950's, we were black listed by Ollie and company, less we cut into their profits. When exactly was it that Ollie join the dark side and became a capitalist swine? Does anybody know?

While "W The Movie" is campy, surreal and side-splittingly funny, it is also as serious as a heart attack. "W The Movie" dares to ask the question, "What if the 'Crime Family Bush' came from outer space to rule the world? Wouldn't that explain a lot of things? I mean, wouldn't it?" Hear award-winning music from Beethoven, Mahler and DJ Monkey! See the Issues & Alibis office complex and your wicked old Uncle in action. See if you can find me playing four different roles including myself, by far the most difficult role! See for yourself through the portal below! Makes the perfect gift!


We don't sell our readers new cars, fancy homes or designer clothes. We don't advocate consumerism nor do we offer facile solutions to serious problems. We do, however, bring together every week writers and activists who are not afraid to speak the truth about our country and our world. The articles we print are not for the faint of heart.

As access to accurate information becomes more difficult and free speech and the exchange of ideas becomes more restricted and controlled, small publications and alternative presses disappear. Issues and Alibis may soon join that list.

We aren't asking for much-not thousands of dollars a month, not tens of thousands a year. What we need is simply enough money to cover expenses for the magazine. A few thousand dollars a year. A few hundred dollars a month. We cannot continue to go into debt to publish Issues and Alibis but at the same time we cannot, in good conscience, go quietly about our daily lives, remaining silent in face of the injustices perpetrated by our leaders and our government. So we need your help. We need your spare change. A dollar, five dollars, whatever you can contribute. Every penny makes a difference.

Ernest & Victoria Stewart


09-07-1921 ~ 09-19-2009
Tell Louie, Uncle said thanks for all the jams!

12-13-1917 ~ 09-20-2009
Ta-i Kemo Sabe!


The "W" theatre trailers are up along with the new movie poster and screen shots from the film. They are all available at the all-new "W" movie site: All five "W" trailers are available along with the trailer from our first movie "Jesus and her Gospel of Yes" at the Pink & Blue Films site on YouTube.


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) 2009 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for the last 8 years managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. In his spare time he is an actor, writer and an associate producer for the new motion picture "W The Movie."

Militarizing Latin America
By Noam Chomsky

The United States was founded as an "infant empire," in George Washington's words. The conquest of the national territory was a grand imperial venture, much like the vast expansion of the Grand Duchy of Moscow. From the earliest days, control over the hemisphere was a critical goal. Ambitions expanded during World War II, as the US displaced Britain and lesser imperial powers. High-level planners concluded that the US should "hold unquestioned power" in a world system including not only the Western hemisphere, but also the former British Empire and the Far East, and later, as much of Eurasia as possible. A primary goal of NATO was to block moves towards European independence, along Gaullist lines. That became still more clear when the USSR collapsed, and with it the Russian threat that was the formal justification of NATO. NATO was not disbanded, but rather expanded, in violation of promises to Mikhail Gorbachev that NATO would not even fully extend to East Germany, let alone beyond, and that "NATO would be transforming itself into a more political organization." By now it is virtually an international intervention force under US command, its self-defined jurisdiction reaching to control over energy sources, pipelines, and sea lanes. And Europe is a well-disciplined junior partner.

Throughout, Latin America retained its primacy in global planning. As Washington was considering the overthrow of the Allende government in Chile in 1971, Nixon's National Security Council observed that if the US cannot control Latin America, it cannot expect "to achieve a successful order elsewhere in the world." That policy problem has become more severe with recent South American moves towards integration, a prerequisite for independence, and establishment of more varied international ties, while also beginning to address severe internal disorders, most importantly, the traditional rule of a rich Europeanized minority over a sea of misery and suffering.

The problem came to a head a year ago in the poorest country of South America, Bolivia, where for the first time the indigenous majority had entered the political arena and elected a president from its own ranks, Evo Morales. After his victory in a recall referendum in August 2008, with a sharp increase in support beyond his 2005 electoral success, the opposition of the US-backed traditional elites turned violent, leading to assassination of many peasant supporters of the government. In response to the massacre there was a summit meeting of UNASUR, the newly-formed Union of South American Republics. The participants _ all the countries of South America - declared "their full and firm support for the constitutional government of President Evo Morales, whose mandate was ratified by a big majority." Morales thanked UNASUR for its support, observing that "For the first time in South America's history, the countries of our region are deciding how to resolve our problems, without the presence of the United States."

An event of historic significance.

Other developments have intensified the problem for US planners, including the decision of Ecuador's president Rafael Correa to terminate Washington's use of the Manta military base, the last one open to the US in South America.

In July 2009, the US and Colombia concluded a secret deal to permit the US to use seven military bases in Colombia. The official purpose is to counter narcotrafficking and terrorism, "but senior Colombian military and civilian officials familiar with negotiations told The Associated Press that the idea is to make Colombia a regional hub for Pentagon operations," AP reported. There are reports that the agreement provides Colombia with privileged access to US military supplies. Colombia had already become the leading recipient of US military aid (apart from Israel-Egypt, a separate category). Colombia has had by far the worst human rights record in the hemisphere since the Central American wars of the 1980s wound down. The correlation between US aid and human rights violations has long been noted by scholarship.

AP also cited an April 1999 document of the U.S. Air Mobility Command, which proposes that the Palanquero base in Colombia could become a "cooperative security location" (CSL) from which "mobility operations could be executed." The report noted that from Palanquero, "Nearly half the continent can be covered by a C-17 (military transport) without refueling." This could form part of "a global en route strategy," which "helps achieve the regional engagement strategy and assists with the mobility routing to Africa." For the present, "the strategy to place a CSL at Palanquero should be sufficient for air mobility reach on the South American continent," the document concludes, but it goes on to explore options for extending the routing to Africa with additional bases.

On August 28, UNASUR met in Bariloche (Argentina) to consider the military bases. After intense internal debate, the final declaration stressed that South America must be kept as "a land of peace," and that foreign military forces must not threaten the sovereignty or integrity of any nation of the region. It instructed the South American Defense Council to investigate the document of the Air Mobility Command. Problems of implementation were left to subsequent meetings.

The official purpose of the bases did not escape criticism. President Morales was particularly bitter, with his background in a coca growers union. He said he witnessed U.S. soldiers accompanying Bolivian troops who fired at his union members. "So now we're narcoterrorists," he continued. "When they couldn't call us communists anymore, they called us subversives, and then traffickers, and since the September 11 attacks, terrorists.'' He warned that "the history of Latin America repeats itself."

Morales observed that the ultimate responsibility for Latin America's violence lies with U.S. consumers of illegal drugs: "If UNASUR sent troops to the United States to control consumption, would they accept it? Impossible!" Morales's rhetorical question can be extended. Suppose that UNASUR, or China, or many others claimed the right to establish military bases in Mexico to implement their programs to eradicate tobacco in the US, by aerial fumigation in North Carolina and Kentucky, interdiction by sea and air forces, and dispatch of inspectors to the US to ensure it was eradicating this poison -- which is far more lethal than cocaine or heroin, incomparably more than cannabis. The toll of tobacco use, including "passive smokers" who are seriously affected though they do not use tobacco themselves, is truly fearsome, overwhelming the lethal effects of other dangerous substances.

The idea that outsiders should interfere with the production and distribution of these lethal substances is plainly unthinkable. The fact that the US justification for its drug programs abroad is accepted as plausible, even regarded as worthy of discussion, is yet another illustration of the depth of the imperial mentality.

Even if we adopt the imperial premises, it is hard to take seriously the announced goals of the "drug war," which persists despite extensive evidence that other measures -- prevention and treatment -- are far more cost-effective, and despite the persistent failure of the resort to criminalization at home and violence and chemical warfare abroad.

Last February, the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy issued its analysis of the US "war on drugs" in past decades. The Commission, led by former Latin American presidents Fernando Cardoso (Brazil), Ernesto Zedillo (Mexico), and CÚsar GavÝria (Colombia), concluded that the drug war had been a complete failure and urged a drastic change of policy, away from forceful measures at home and abroad and towards much less costly and more effective measures. Their report had no detectable impact, just as earlier studies and the historical record have had none. That again reinforces the natural conclusion that the "drug war" -- like the "war on crime" and "the war on terror" -- is pursued for reasons other than the announced goals, which are revealed by the consequences.

Establishing US military bases in Colombia is only one part of a much broader effort to restore Washington's capacity for military intervention. There has been a sharp increase in US military aid and training of Latin American officers, focusing on light infantry tactics to combat "radical populism" -- a concept that sends shivers up the spine in the Latin American context. Military training is being shifted from the State Department to the Pentagon, eliminating human rights and democracy conditionalities under congressional supervision, which has always been weak, but was at least a deterrent to some of the worst abuses. The US Fourth Fleet, disbanded in 1950, was reactivated in 2008, shortly after Colombia's invasion of Ecuador, with responsibility for the Caribbean, Central and South America, and the surrounding waters. The official announcement defines its "various operations" to "include counter-illicit trafficking, Theater Security Cooperation, military-to-military interaction and bilateral and multinational training."

Militarization of South America is a component of much broader global programs, as the "global en route strategy" indicates. In Iraq, there is virtually no information about the fate of the huge US military bases, so they are presumably being maintained for force projection. The immense city-with-in-a-city embassy in Baghdad not only remains but its cost is to rise to $1.8 billion a year, from an estimated $1.5 billion this year. The Obama administration is also constructing megaembassies that are completely without precedent in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The US and UK are demanding that the US military base in Diego Garcia, used heavily in recent US wars after Britain expelled the inhabitants, be exempted from the planned African nuclear-free-weapons zone, just as U.S.bases are exempted from similar efforts in the Pacific to reduce the nuclear threat. Not even on the agenda, of course, is a NFWZ in the Middle East, which would mitigate, perhaps end, the alleged Iranian threat. The enormous global support for this move, including a large majority of Americans, is as usual irrelevant.

In short, moves towards "a world of peace" do not fall within the "change you can believe in," to borrow Obama's campaign slogan.

(c) 2009 Noam Chomsky is emeritus professor of linguistics and philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is co-author, with Gilbert Achcar, of Perilous Power: The Middle East & U.S. Foreign Policy: Dialogues on Terror, Democracy, War, and Justice. His most recent book is Hegemony or Survival Americas Quest for Global Dominance. His writings on linguistics and politics have just been collected in The Essential Noam Chomsky, edited by Anthony Arnove, from the New Press.

UM-Shmum, UM-Boom
By Uri Avnery

IS THERE no limit to the wiles of those dastardly anti-Semites?

Now they have decided to slander the Jews with another blood libel. Not the old accusation of slaughtering Christian children to use their blood for baking Passover matzoth, as in the past, but of the mass slaughter of women and children in Gaza.

And who did they put at the head of the commission which was charged with this task? Neither a British Holocaust-denier nor a German neo-Nazi, nor even an Iranian fanatic, but of all people a Jewish judge who bears the very Jewish name of Goldstone (originally Goldstein, of course). And not just a Jew with a Jewish name, but a Zionist, whose daughter, Nicole, is an enthusiastic Zionist who once "made Aliyah" and speaks fluent Hebrew. And not just a Jewish Zionist, but a South African who opposed apartheid and was appointed to the country's Constitutional Court when that system was abolished.

All this in order to defame the most moral army in the world, fresh from waging the most just war in history!

Richard Goldstone is not the only Jew manipulated by the world-wide anti-Semitic conspiracy. Throughout the three weeks of the Gaza War, more than 10 thousand Israelis demonstrated against it again and again. They were photographed carrying signs saying "End the massacre in Gaza", "Stop the war crimes"' "Israel commits war crimes", "Bombing civilians is a war crime." They chanted in unison: "Olmert, Olmert, it is true - They're waiting in The Hague for you!"

Who would have believed that there are so many anti-Semites in Israel?!

THE OFFICIAL Israeli reaction to the Goldstone report would have been amusing, if the matter had not been so grave.

Except for the "usual suspects" (Gideon Levy, Amira Hass and their ilk), the condemnation of the report was unanimous, total and extreme, from Shimon Peres, that advocate of every abomination, down to the last scribbler in the newspapers.

Nobody, but nobody, dealt with the subject itself. Nobody examined the detailed conclusions. With such an anti-Semitic smear, there is no need for that. Actually, there is no need to read the report at all.

The public, in all its diversity, stood up like one person, in order to rebuff the plot, as it has learned to do in the thousand years of pogroms, Spanish inquisition and Holocaust. A siege mentality, the ghetto mentality.

The instinctive reaction in such a situation is denial. It's just not true. It never happened. It's all a pack of lies.

By itself, that is a natural reaction. When a human being is faced with a situation which he cannot handle, denial is the first refuge. If things did not happen, there is no need to cope. Basically, there is no difference between the deniers of the Armenian genocide, the deniers of the annihilation of the Native Americans and the deniers of the atrocities of all wars.

From this point of view, it can be said that denial is almost "normal." But with us it has been developed into an art form.

WE HAVE a special method: when something happens that we don't want to confront, we direct the spotlight to one specific detail, something completely marginal, and begin to insist on it, debate it, examine it from all angles as if it were a matter of life and death.

Take the Yom Kippur war. It broke out because for six years, beginning with the 1967 war, Israel had cruised like a Ship of Fools, intoxicated with victory songs, victory albums and the belief in the invincibility of the Israeli army. Golda Meir treated the Arab world with open contempt and rebuffed the peace overtures of Anwar Sadat. The result: more than 2000 young Israelis killed, and who knows how many Egyptians and Syrians.

And what was furiously debated? The "Omission." "Why were the reserves not called up in time? Why were the tanks not moved in advance?" Menachem Begin thundered in the Knesset, and about this, books and articles galore were written and a blue-ribbon judicial board of inquiry deliberated.

The First Lebanon War was a political blunder and a military failure. It lasted 18 years, gave birth to Hizbullah and established it as a regional force. And what was discussed? Whether Ariel Sharon had deceived Begin and was responsible for his illness and eventual death.

The Second Lebanon War was a disgrace from beginning to end, a superfluous war that caused massive destruction, wholesale slaughter and the flight of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians from their homes, without achieving an Israeli victory. And what was our debate about? For what was a commission of inquiry appointed? About the way the decision to start the war was taken. Was there an appropriate process of decision making? Was there orderly staff work?

About the Gaza War, there was no debate at all, because everything was perfectly alright. A brilliant campaign. Marvelous political and military leadership. True, we did not convince the Gaza Strip population to overthrow their leaders; true, we did not succeed in freeing the captured soldier Gilad Shalit; true, the whole world condemned us - but we killed a lot of Arabs, destroyed their environment and taught them a lesson they will not forget.

Now, a profound debate on the Goldstone report is going on. Not about its content, God forbid. What's there to discus? But about the one point that is really important: was our government right in deciding to boycott the commission? Perhaps it would have been better to take part in the deliberations? Did our Foreign Office act as foolishly as it usually does? (Our Ministry of Defense, of course, never behaves foolishly.) Tens of thousands of words about this world-shaking question were poured out from the newspapers, the radio and TV, with every self-respecting commentator weighing in.

SO WHY did the Israeli government boycott the commission? The real answer is quite simple: they knew full well that the commission, any commission, would have to reach the conclusions it did reach.

In fact, the commission did not say anything new. Almost all the facts were already known: the bombing of civilian neighborhoods, the use of flechette rounds and white phosphorus against civilian targets, the bombing of mosques and schools, the blocking of rescue parties from reaching the wounded, the killing of fleeing civilians carrying white flags, the use of human shields, and more. The Israeli army did not allow journalists near the action, but the war was amply documented by the international media in all its details, the entire world saw it in real time on the TV screens. The testimonies are so many and so consistent, that any reasonable person can draw their own conclusions.

If the officers and soldiers of the Israeli army had given testimony before the commission, it would perhaps have been impressed by their angle, too - the fear, the confusion, the lack of orientation - and the conclusions could have been somewhat less severe. But the main thrust would not have changed. After all, the whole operation was based on the assumption that it was possible to overthrow the Hamas government in Gaza by causing intolerable suffering to the civilian population. The damage to civilians was not "collateral" whether avoidable or unavoidable, but a central feature of the operation itself.

Moreover, the rules of engagement were designed to achieve "zero losses" to our forces - avoiding losses at any price. That was the conclusion our army - led by Gabi Ashkenazi - drew from the Second Lebanon War. The results speak for themselves: 200 dead Palestinians for every Israeli soldier killed by the other side - 1400:6.

Every real investigation must inevitably lead to the same conclusions as those of the Goldstone commission. Therefore, there was no Israeli wish for a real inquiry. The "investigations" that did take place were a farce. The person responsible, the Military Advocate General, kippa-wearing brigadier Avichai Mendelblit, was in charge of this task. He was promoted this week to the rank of major general. The promotion and its timing speak a clear language.

SO IT is clear that there is no chance of the Israeli government belatedly opening a real investigation, as demanded by Israeli peace activists.

In order to be credible, such an investigation would have to have the status of a State Commission of Inquiry as defined by Israeli law, headed by a Supreme Court justice. It would have to conduct its investigations publicly, in full view of the Israeli and international media. It would have to invite the victims, Gaza inhabitants, to testify together with the soldiers who took part in the war. It would have to investigate in detail each of the accusations that appear in the Goldstone report. It would have to check out the orders issued and decisions made, from the Chief of Staff down to the squad level. It would have to study the briefings of Air Force pilots and drone operators.

This list suffices to make it clear why such an investigation will not and cannot take place. Instead, the world-wide Israeli propaganda machine will continue to defame the Jewish judge and the people who appointed him.

Not all the Israeli accusations against the UN are groundless. For example: why does the organization investigate the war crimes in Gaza (and in former Yugoslavia and Darfur, investigations in which Goldstone took part as chief prosecutor) and not the actions of the US in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Russians in Chechnya?

But the main argument of the Israeli government is that the UN is an anti-Semitic organization, and its Human Rights Commission is doubly anti-Semitic.

ISRAEL'S RELATIONS with the UN are very complex. The state was founded on the basis of a UN resolution, and it is doubtful whether it would have come into being at precisely that time and those circumstance had there been no such resolution. Our Declaration of Independence is largely based on this resolution. A year later, Israel was accepted as a UN member in spite of the fact that it had not allowed the (then) 750 thousand Palestinian refugees to return.

But this honeymoon soured quickly. David Ben-Gurion spoke with contempt about UM-Shmum ("Um" is the Hebrew for "UN", the prefix "shm" signifies contempt). From then on to this very day, Israel has systematically violated almost every single UN resolution that concerned it, complaining that there was an "automatic majority" of Arab and communist countries stacked against it. This attitude was reinforced when, on the eve of the 1967 war, the UN troops in Sinai where precipitously withdrawn on the demand of Gamal Abd-al-Nasser. And, of course, by the UN resolution (later annulled) equating Zionism with racism.

Now this argument is raising its head again. The UN, it is being said, is anti-Israeli, which means (of course) anti-Semitic. Everyone who acts in the name of the UN is an Israel-hater. To hell with the UN. To hell with the Goldstone report.

That is, however, a woefully short-sighted policy. The general public throughout the world is hearing about the report and remembering the pictures they saw on their TV screens during the Gaza war. The UN enjoys much respect. In the wake of the "Molten Lead" operation, Israel's standing in the world has been steadily going down, and this report will send it down even further. This will have practical consequences - political, military, economic and cultural. Only a fool - or an Avigdor Lieberman - can ignore that.

If there is no credible Israeli investigation, there will be demands for the UN Security Council to refer the matter to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Barack Obama would have to decide whether to veto such a resolution - a move that would cause grave harm to the US, and for which he would demand a high price from Israel.

As has been said before: UM-Shmum may turn into UM-Boom.
(c) 2009 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Time To Change Bernanke's Medication?
Secret White House letter to G-20
By Greg Palast

I still get a thrill whenever I get my hands on a confidential memo with "The White House, Washington" appearing on the letterhead. Even when-like the one I'm looking at now-it's about a snoozy topic: This week's G-20 summit.

But the letter's content shook me awake, and may keep me up the rest of the night.

The 6-page letter from the White House, dated September 3, was sent to the 20 heads of state that will meet this Thursday in Pittsburgh. After some initial diplo-blather, our President's "sherpa" for the summit, Michael Froman, does a little victory dance, announcing that the recession has been defeated. "Global equity markets have risen 35 percent since the end of March," writes Froman. In other words, the stock market is up and all's well.

While acknowledging that this year's economy has gone to hell in a handbag, Obama's aide and ambassador to the G-20 seems to be parroting the irrational exuberance of Federal Reserve Chief Ben Bernanke who declared last week that, "The recession is very likely over." All that was missing from Bernanke's statement was a banner, "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED." And the French are furious. The White House letter to the G-20 leaders was a response to a confidential diplomatic missive from the chief of the European Union Fredrik Reinfeldt written a day earlier to "Monsieur le President" Obama.

We have Reinfeldt's confidential note as well. In it, the EU president says, despite Bernanke's happy-talk, "la crise n'est pas terminee (the crisis is not over) and (continuing in translation) the labor market will continue to suffer the consequences of weak use of capacity and production in the coming months." This is diplomatic speak for, What the hell is Bernanke smoking?

May I remind you Monsieur le President, that last month 216,000 Americans lost their jobs, bringing the total lost since your inauguration to about seven million. And rising.

The Wall Street Journal also has a copy of the White House letter, though they haven't released it. The Journal spins the leak as the White House would want it: "Big Changes to Global Economic Policy" to produce "lasting growth." Obama takes charge! What's missing in the Journal report is that Obama's plan subtly but significantly throttles back European demands to tighten finance industry regulation and, most important, deflects the EU's concern about fighting unemployment.

Europe's leaders are scared witless that the Obama Administration will prematurely turn off the fiscal and monetary stimulus. Europe demands that the US continue pumping the economy under an internationally coordinated worldwide save-our-butts program. As the EU's Reinfeldt puts it in his plea to the White House, "It is essential that the Heads of State and Government, at this summit, continue to implement the economic policy measures they have adopted," and not act unilaterally. "Exit strategies [must] be implemented in a coordinated manner." Translating from the diplomatique: If you in the USA turn off fiscal and monetary stimulus now, on your own, Europe and the planet sinks, America with it.

Obama's ambassador says, Non! Instead, he writes that each nation should be allowed to "unwind" anti-recession efforts "at a pace appropriate to the circumstances of each economy." In other words, "Europe, you're on your own!" So much for Obama channeling FDR.

The technical policy conflict between the Obama and EU plans reflects a deep difference in the answer to a crucial question: Whose recession is it, anyway? To Obama and Bernanke, this is a bankers' recession and so, as "stresses in financial markets have abated significantly," to use the words of the White House epistle, then Happy Days Are Here Again. But, if this recession is about workers the world over losing their jobs and life savings, the EU view, then it's still Buddy, Can You Spare a Dime.

If Bernanke and Obama were truly concerned about preserving jobs, they would have required banks loaded with taxpayer bail-out loot to lend these funds to consumers and business. China did so, ordering its banks to increase credit. And boy, did they, expanding credit by an eye-popping 30%, rocketing China's economy out of recession and into double-digit growth.

But the Obama Administration has gone the opposite way. The White House letter to the G-20 calls for slowly increasing bank reserves, and that can only cause a tight credit market to tighten further.

It's not that the White House completely ignores job losses. The US letter suggests, "The G-20 should commit to ...income support for the unemployed." You can imagine the Europeans, who already have generous unemployment benefits-most without time limits-turning purple over that one. America's stingy unemployment compensation extension under the Stimulus Plan is already beginning to expire with no live proposal to continue aid for the jobless victims of this recession.

The Europeans are so cute when they're angry, when they pound their little fists. Obama assumes he can ignore them. The EU, once the big player in the G-7, has seen its members' status diluted into the G-20, where the BRIC powers (Brazil, Russia, India and China) now flex their muscle. But Europeans have a thing or two to teach Americans about the economics of the twilight of empire.

Maybe the differences are cultural, not economic; that Europeans lack America's Manifest Destiny can-do optimism.

So, to give the visitors a taste of the yes-we-can spirit, Obama should invite Pittsburgh's 93,700 jobless to the G-20 meet to celebrate that 35% rise in the stock market.

Or -- my own suggestion -- change Bernanke's medication.
(c) 2009 Greg Palast is a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow for Investigative Reporting at the Nation Institute, New York. Read the rest of this story by picking up his New York Times bestseller, Armed Madhouse: Sordid Secrets and Strange Tales from a White House Gone Wild. His investigative reports for BBC Television and Democracy Now were recently released as a film on DVD: Palast Investigates: From 8-Mile to the Amazon, on the Trail of the Financial Marauders. Join Palast's Network on MySpace, on FaceBook or on YouTube.

Judge Randolph Haines American hero

Banker Arrogance Chastised In Court

If you ever wondered why America needs three branches of government, check out the gumption that some officials in the judicial branch are showing.

While the executive and legislative branches have sided with the giant banks against millions of hard-hit homeowners, several judges have been standing up to banker arrogance on behalf of regular folks. Take Judge Randolph Haines, a U.S. bankruptcy judge based in Phoenix, who has had the temerity to challenge Wells Fargo.

This banking powerhouse, which has taken $25 billion in bailout money from us taxpayers, has been notoriously imperious in dealing with its own customers. In a case before Judge Haines, the bank had callously dilly-dallied with the urgent efforts of an out-of-work single mom to keep from losing her home. For months, she had been seeking a loan modification from Wells Fargo, but the bank kept losing her application. "I submitted the paperwork three times," she said, "and nothing happened."

Meanwhile, she was forced to file for bankruptcy - ending up in Haines' court. Frustrated by this bank's pattern of indifference toward powerless people, Haines summoned one of Wells Fargo's top executives to his his courtroom to answer the complaints of this lowly borrower. The mighty executive, of course, blamed the borrower, claiming she had failed repeatedly to provide a financial worksheet as requested.

However, at Judge Haines' suggestion, the borrower handed a letter to the Wells Fargo chieftain that she had received from the bank, asking him to read it. The chagrined banker had to concede that "[she] is right. The letter did not ask for a financial worksheet." He then added, "Customer communications is something we're taking a look at, your honor."

They might also look at things like basic competence and honesty. Who knows what'll come of this little courtroom comeuppance, but at least someone in authority is not afraid to confront these BSing big shots.
(c) 2009 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.

CIA Torturers Running Scared
By Ray McGovern

For the CIA supervisors and operatives who were responsible for torture, the chickens are coming home to roost. That is, if President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder mean it when they say no one is above the law - and if they have the courage to stand up to brazen intimidation.

Unable to prevent Attorney General Eric Holder from starting an investigation of torture and other war crimes that implicate CIA officials past and present, some of those same CIA officials, together with what in intelligence circles are called "agents of influence" in the media, are pulling out all the stops to quash the Department of Justice's preliminary investigation.

In what should be seen as a bizarre twist, seven CIA directors - including three who are themselves implicated in planning and conducting torture and assassination - have asked the president to call off Holder.

Can someone please tell me how the whole thing could be more transparent?

The most vulnerable of the Gang of Seven, George Tenet, is not the brightest star in the heavens, but even he was able to figure out years ago that he and his accomplices might end up having to pay a heavy price for violating international and US criminal law.

In his memoir, "At the Center of the Storm," Tenet notes that what the CIA needed were "the right authorities" and policy determination to do the bidding of President George W. Bush:

"Sure, it was a risky proposition when you looked at it from a policy maker's point of view. We were asking for and we would be given as many authorities as CIA had ever had. Things could blow up. People, me among them, could end up spending some of the worst days of our lives justifying before congressional overseers our new freedom to act." (p. 178)

Tenet and his masters assumed, correctly, that given the mood of the times and the lack of spine among lawmakers, Congressional "overseers" would relax into their accustomed role as Congressional overlookers. Unfortunately for him, Tenet seems to have confined his concern at the time to the invertebrates in Congress, not anticipating a rejuvenated Department of Justice that might take its role in enforcing the law seriously.

Taking the Gloves Off

Tenet proudly quotes his former counterterrorism chief, Cofer Black (now a senior official at Blackwater): "As Cofer Black later told Congress, 'The gloves came off that day.'" That day was September 17, 2001, when "the president approved our recommendations and provided us broad authorities to engage al-Qa'ida." (p. 208)

Presumably, it was not lost on Tenet that no lawmaker dared ask exactly what Cofer Black meant when he said "the gloves came off." Had they thought to ask Richard Clarke, former director of the counterterrorist operation at the White House, he could have told them what he wrote in his book, "Against All Enemies."

Clarke describes a meeting in which he took part with President George W. Bush in the White House bunker just minutes after his TV address to the nation on the evening of 9/11. When the subject of international law was raised, Clarke writes that the president responded vehemently: "I don't care what the international lawyers say, we are going to kick some ass." (p. 24)

It took Bush and Cheney only six days to grant the CIA the "broad authorities" the agency had recommended. It then took White House counsel Alberto Gonzales, Vice President Dick Cheney's lawyer David Addington and William J. Haynes II, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's lawyer, four more months to advise the president formally that, by fiat, he could ignore the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of prisoners of war.

This gang of lawyers so advised at the turn of 2001 to 2002, beating down objections by William Howard Taft IV, Secretary of State Colin Powell's lawyer. Bush chose to follow the dubious advice of those imaginative lawyers in his and Dick Cheney's employ, namely, that 9/11 ushered in a "new paradigm" rendering the Geneva protections "quaint" and "obsolete."

We Need to Tell You Also ...

Addington and Gonzales did take care to warn the president, by memorandum of January 25, 2002, of the risk of criminal prosecution under 18 USC. 2441, the War Crimes Act of 1996. The memo said:

"That statute, enacted in 1996, prohibits the commission of a 'war crime' by or against a US person, including US officials. 'War crime'... is defined to include any grave breach of the GPW [Geneva] or any violation of Article 3 thereof (such as outrages against personal dignity) ... Punishments for violations of Section 2441 include the death penalty....

"... it is difficult to predict the motives of prosecutors or independent counsels who may in the future decide to pursue unwarranted charges based on Section 2441. Your determination [that Geneva does not apply] would create a reasonable basis in law that Section 2441 does not apply, which would provide a solid defense to any future prosecution."

With that kind of pre-ordered reassurance, President Bush issued a two-page executive directive in which he states, "I accept the legal conclusion of the Department of Justice and determine that common Article 3 of Geneva does not apply to either al Qaeda or Taliban detainees ..."

This is the smoking gun on Bush's key role in the subsequent torture of "war on terror" prisoners. It turns out that he was the "decider" after all, as Dick Cheney has taken pains to make clear (telling Bob Schieffer recently that Bush "signed off" on abusive techniques). The Senate Armed Services Committee issued a report, without dissent, last December stating that that February 7 memorandum "opened the door" to abusive interrogation practices.

Unhappily for Bush and for those who carried out his instructions, on June 29, 2009, the Supreme Court ruled, in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, that Geneva DOES apply to al-Qaeda and Taliban detainees. One senior Bush administration official is reported to have gone quite pale at the time, when Justice Anthony M. Kennedy raised the ante, warning that "violations of Common Article 3 are considered 'war crimes,' punishable as federal offenses."

What about US criminal law? Despite the almost laughable attempts by lawyers like Addington and John Yoo to get around the War Crimes Act by advising that only the kind of pain accompanying major organ failure or death can be considered torture, those involved are now in a cold sweat - the more so, since those dubious opinions have now been made public.

The Justice Department Memos and the CIA IG Report

In releasing the sordid, torture-approving memoranda written by Department of Justice lawyers and major portions of the CIA's own horse's-mouth inspector general "Special Review" on interrogation and torture, President Barack Obama and Holder had to face down very strong pressure from those with the most to lose.

Again, these include former CIA directors and the functionaries (some of them in senior CIA positions to this very day) who were responsible for seeing to it that "the gloves came off."

Now, out in the public domain is all the evidence needed to show that war crimes were committed - "authorized" as legal by Justice Department Mafia-type lawyers recruited for that express purpose - but war crimes nonetheless. Torture, kidnapping, illegal detention - not to mention blatant violations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) outlawing eavesdropping on Americans without a court warrant.

The stakes are high. No wonder the CIA and its "agents of influence" are going all out. (See Saturday's lead story in The Washington Post.)

No Surprise, but Sad Nonetheless

It should have come as no surprise that Attorney General Eric Holder would run into a buzz saw when he decided to do his constitutional duty and investigate whether crimes have been committed. Certainly, Cheney and Fox News had made that abundantly clear. CIA seniors and functionaries with the most to lose are now pulling out all the stops.

In their September 18 letter to the president, seven former CIA directors asked him to "reverse Attorney General Holder's August 24 decision to re-open the criminal investigation of CIA interrogations that took place following the attacks of September 11."

This is the saddest commentary on CIA covert action operatives' continuing power and their disdain for the law since their predecessor creeps loudly applauded former Director Richard Helms for lying to Congress about the CIA role in the overthrow of Salvador Allende on 9/11/73. The largest CIA cafeteria was bulging with welcoming supporters of Helms when the court got finished with him. They then took up a collection on the spot to pay the fine the court had imposed after he was allowed to plead nolo contendere.

Among the most transparent parts of the letter from the Gang of Seven is their worry that "there is no reason to expect that the re-opened criminal investigation will remain narrowly focused."

Their concern is well founded. Evidence already on the public record shows that the first three listed, Michael Hayden, Porter Goss and George Tenet, could readily be indicted for crimes under US and international law, including:

# Illegal eavesdropping by the National Security Agency. (Hayden was NSA director when he ordered his employees to violate the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which requires warrants from a special court before electronic eavesdropping is undertaken.)

# Assassination planning without notification to Congress. (Goss, whose uncommonly abrupt departure in May 2006 was never looked into by the Fawning Corporate Media [FCM].); and

# Tenet's long list of substantive as well as operational misdeeds carried out for the president and Cheney. ("Slam-dunk Tenet" turned out to be right about at least one thing-that "things could blow up.")

The Other "Distinguished" Signatories

John Deutch: Arrogant to the point of criminality, Deutch disregarded the most elementary rules governing protection of classified information, and had to be given a last-minute pardon by President Bill Clinton.

R. James Woolsey: the man who outdid himself in trying to tie Saddam Hussein to 9/11, and in pushing into the limelight spurious intelligence from the fabricator known as "Curveball." Remember those fictitious biological weapons labs for which Colin Powell displayed "artist renderings" to the UN on February 5, 2003?

William Webster: Known mostly at Langley for his handsome face and his devotion to his late-afternoon matches with socialite tennis partners. (Folks like Webster should recognize that, once they have reached what my lawyer father used to call "the age of statutory senility," they should be more careful regarding what they let themselves be dragged into.)

James R. Schlesinger: "Big Jim" launched his brief stint as CIA director by warning us all that his instructions were "to ensure that you guys do not screw Richard Nixon." To give substance to this assertion, he told us that the White House had said he was to report to political henchman Bob Haldeman - not Henry Kissinger, the national security adviser. More recently, Schlesinger led one of the see-no-evil Defense Department "investigations" of the abuses of Abu Ghraib.

Quite a group, this Gang of Seven.

Their letter is also distinguished by a condescending tone, instructing the president: "As President you have the authority to make decisions restricting substantive interrogation ... But the administration must be mindful that public disclosure about past intelligence operations can only help al-Qaeda elude US intelligence and plan future operations."

The seven then proceed to repeat the canard alleging that such collection "have saved lives and helped protect America from further attacks."

It reads as though Dick Cheney did their first draft. Actually, that would not be all that surprising, given his record of doing quite a lot of CIA's drafting for eight long years.

Holder, hold that line.
(c) 2009 Ray McGovern served as a CIA analyst for 27 years -- from the administration of John F. Kennedy to that of George H. W. Bush. During the early 1980s, he was one of the writers/editors of the President's Daily Brief and briefed it one-on-one to the president's most senior advisers. He also chaired National Intelligence Estimates. In January 2003, he and four former colleagues founded Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.

Let Us Not Become the Evil We Deplore
By Amy Goodman

On Sept. 14, 2001, the U.S. House of Representatives considered House Joint Resolution 64, "To authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States." The wounds of 9/11 were raw, and the lust for vengeance seemed universal. The House vote was remarkable, relative to the extreme partisanship now in evidence in Congress, since 420 House members voted in favor of the resolution. More remarkable, though, was the one lone vote in opposition, cast by Barbara Lee of San Francisco. Lee opened her statement on the resolution, "I rise today with a heavy heart, one that is filled with sorrow for the families and loved ones who were killed and injured in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania." Her emotions were palpable as she spoke from the House floor.

"September 11 changed the world. Our deepest fears now haunt us. Yet I am convinced that military action will not prevent further acts of international terrorism against the United States. ... We must not rush to judgment. Far too many innocent people have already died. Our country is in mourning. If we rush to launch a counterattack, we run too great a risk that women, children and other noncombatants will be caught in the crossfire."

The Senate also passed the resolution, 98-0, and sent it on to President George W. Bush. What he did with the authorization, and the Iraq War authorization a year later, has become, arguably, the greatest foreign policy catastrophe in United States history. What President Barack Obama will do with Afghanistan is the question now.

On Oct. 7, the U.S. enters its ninth year of occupation of Afghanistan-equal to the time the United States was involved in World War I, World War II and the Korean War combined. Obama campaigned on his opposition to the war in Iraq, but pledged at the same time to escalate the war in Afghanistan. On his first Friday in office, Commander in Chief Obama's military fired three Hellfire missiles from an unmanned drone into Pakistan, reportedly killing 22 people, mostly civilians, including women and children. He has increased U.S. troops in Afghanistan by more than 20,000, to a total numbering 61,000. This does not count the private contractors in Afghanistan, who now outnumber the troops. The new U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, is expected to ask for even more troops.

This past August was the deadliest month yet for U.S. troops in Afghanistan, with 51 killed, and 2009 is by far the deadliest year, with 200 U.S. troops killed so far. These statistics don't count the soldiers who commit suicide after returning home, nor those injured, and certainly don't include the number of Afghans killed. The attacks also are increasing in sophistication, according to recent reports. So it may be no surprise that more comparisons are now being made between Afghanistan and Vietnam.

When asked about the comparison, Obama recently told The New York Times: "You have to learn lessons from history. On the other hand, each historical moment is different. You never step into the same river twice. And so Afghanistan is not Vietnam. ... The dangers of overreach and not having clear goals and not having strong support from the American people, those are all issues that I think about all the time."

According to a recent CNN/Opinion Research poll, 57 percent of those asked oppose the U.S. war in Afghanistan, reportedly the highest level of opposition since the war began in 2001. Among those polled, 75 percent of Democrats opposed the war, which might explain statements recently from key congressional Democrats against sending more troops to Afghanistan. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said last Thursday, "I don't think there's a great deal of support for sending more troops to Afghanistan in the country or in the Congress," echoing Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., and Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Obama said in his health care speech before the joint session of Congress, "The plan I'm proposing will cost around $900 billion over 10 years-less than we have spent on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars."

President Lyndon Johnson escalated the war in Vietnam and ultimately decided not to run for re-election. But he also passed Medicare, the revered, single-payer health insurance program for seniors. Barbara Lee presciently compared the invasion of Afghanistan to Vietnam in her speech back in 2001 and closed by quoting the Rev. Nathan Baxter, dean of the National Cathedral: "As we act, let us not become the evil that we deplore."
(c) 2009 Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!," a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 750 stations in North America. She is the co-author of "Standing Up to the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times," recently released in paperback.

Reform Or Bust
By Paul Krugman

But now that we've stepped back a few paces from the brink - thanks, let's not forget, to immense, taxpayer-financed rescue packages - the financial sector is rapidly returning to business as usual. Even as the rest of the nation continues to suffer from rising unemployment and severe hardship, Wall Street paychecks are heading back to pre-crisis levels. And the industry is deploying its political clout to block even the most minimal reforms.

The good news is that senior officials in the Obama administration and at the Federal Reserve seem to be losing patience with the industry's selfishness. The bad news is that it's not clear whether President Obama himself is ready, even now, to take on the bankers.

Credit where credit is due: I was delighted when Lawrence Summers, the administration's ranking economist, lashed out at the campaign the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in cooperation with financial-industry lobbyists, is running against the proposed creation of an agency to protect consumers against financial abuses, such as loans whose terms they don't understand. The chamber's ads, declared Mr. Summers, are "the financial-regulatory equivalent of the death-panel ads that are being run with respect to health care."

Yet protecting consumers from financial abuse should be only the beginning of reform. If we really want to stop Wall Street from creating another bubble, followed by another bust, we need to change the industry's incentives - which means, in particular, changing the way bankers are paid.

What's wrong with financial-industry compensation? In a nutshell, bank executives are lavishly rewarded if they deliver big short-term profits - but aren't correspondingly punished if they later suffer even bigger losses. This encourages excessive risk-taking: some of the men most responsible for the current crisis walked away immensely rich from the bonuses they earned in the good years, even though the high-risk strategies that led to those bonuses eventually decimated their companies, taking down a large part of the financial system in the process.

The Federal Reserve, now awakened from its Greenspan-era slumber, understands this problem - and proposes doing something about it. According to recent reports, the Fed's board is considering imposing new rules on financial-firm compensation, requiring that banks "claw back" bonuses in the face of losses and link pay to long-term rather than short-term performance. The Fed argues that it has the authority to do this as part of its general mandate to oversee banks' soundness.

But the industry - supported by nearly all Republicans and some Democrats - will fight bitterly against these changes. And while the administration will support some kind of compensation reform, it's not clear whether it will fully support the Fed's efforts.

I was startled last week when Mr. Obama, in an interview with Bloomberg News, questioned the case for limiting financial-sector pay: "Why is it," he asked, "that we're going to cap executive compensation for Wall Street bankers but not Silicon Valley entrepreneurs or N.F.L. football players?"

That's an astonishing remark - and not just because the National Football League does, in fact, have pay caps. Tech firms don't crash the whole world's operating system when they go bankrupt; quarterbacks who make too many risky passes don't have to be rescued with hundred-billion-dollar bailouts. Banking is a special case - and the president is surely smart enough to know that.

All I can think is that this was another example of something we've seen before: Mr. Obama's visceral reluctance to engage in anything that resembles populist rhetoric. And that's something he needs to get over.

It's not just that taking a populist stance on bankers' pay is good politics - although it is: the administration has suffered more than it seems to realize from the perception that it's giving taxpayers' hard-earned money away to Wall Street, and it should welcome the chance to portray the G.O.P. as the party of obscene bonuses.

Equally important, in this case populism is good economics. Indeed, you can make the case that reforming bankers' compensation is the single best thing we can do to prevent another financial crisis a few years down the road.

It's time for the president to realize that sometimes populism, especially populism that makes bankers angry, is exactly what the economy needs.
(c) 2009 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

Bad Medicine
The Terror War's "Public Option"
By Chris Floyd

As Barack Obama continues his noble struggle to reform the wreck of America's health care system by forcing millions of people to pay billions of dollars to the very insurance companies who wrecked America's health care system - continuing his winning policy of reforming the wreck of America's financial system by giving trillions of dollars to the scamsters who wrecked America's financial system -- his soldiers in the good and necessary war of good necessity in Afghanistan have been implenting their own reforms to health care practices in their "host" country.

Dahr Jamail reports on the underreported story of an American assault on an Afghan hospital earlier this month, during which armed soldiers "stormed" through the wards, looking for Taliban fighters - and then insisted on vetting all incoming patients to decide if they are worthy of treatment or not.

On September 7, American troops invaded a hospital run by a Swedish aid agency:

Soldiers demanded that hospital administrators inform the military of any incoming patients who might be insurgents, after which the military would then decide if said patients would be admitted or not. [Agency director Anders] Fange called the incident "not only a clear violation of globally recognized humanitarian principles about the sanctity of health facilities and staff in areas of conflict, but also a clear breach of the civil-military agreement" between nongovernmental organizations and international forces.

Fange said that US troops broke down doors and tied up visitors and hospital staff.

As Jamail notes, the blatantly illegal raid is all of a piece of American health care approaches in lands occupied in the Terror War. He details once more the American attacks on medical centers during the destruction of Fallujah in late 2004, which I noted in the Moscow Times while the attack - a vast blood sacrifice to celebrate the re-election of George W. Bush - was still going on:

One of the first moves in this magnificent feat was the destruction and capture of medical centers. Twenty doctors - and their patients, including women and children - were killed in an airstrike on one major clinic, the UN Information Service reports, while the city's main hospital was seized in the early hours of the ground assault. Why? Because these places of healing could be used as "propaganda centers," the Pentagon's "information warfare" specialists told the NY Times. Unlike the first attack on Fallujah last spring, there was to be no unseemly footage of gutted children bleeding to death on hospital beds. This time - except for NBC's brief, heavily-edited, quickly-buried clip of the usual lone "bad apple" shooting a wounded Iraqi prisoner - the visuals were rigorously scrubbed.

So while Americans saw stories of rugged "Marlboro Men" winning the day against Satan, they were spared shots of engineers cutting off water and electricity to the city - a flagrant war crime under the Geneva Conventions, as CounterPunch notes, but standard practice throughout the occupation. Nor did pictures of attack helicopters gunning down civilians trying to escape across the Euphrates River - including a family of five - make the TV news, despite the eyewitness account of an AP journalist. Nor were tender American sensibilities subjected to the sight of phosphorous shells bathing enemy fighters - and nearby civilians - with unquenchable chemical fire, literally melting their skin, as the Washington Post reports. Nor did they see the fetus being blown out of the body of Artica Salim when her home was bombed during the "softening-up attacks" that raged relentlessly - and unnoticed - in the closing days of George W. Bush's presidential campaign, the Scotland Sunday Herald reports.

This is what has happened, is happening, and will go on happening on the ground in the Terror War. It is endemic. It is unavoidable. It is inherent in the premise and practice of military aggression. It doesn't matter how many clinics or schools you build (or promise to build), or many soccer balls and candy bars you give out to the kids -- these atrocities by the invader are the only things that register, the only things that matter. Ten thousand, 40,000 or a million more troops (and mercenaries) will not bring "victory" in these situations; they will only engender more death, ruin, hatred and resistance.


So what to do in Afghanistan? Simple -- the same thing I advocated years ago, in another Moscow Times piece written during the 2004 election campaign, after the first, failed attack on Fallujah, but before the city's final destruction a few months later:

As the red wheel of [the Terror War] continues to roll, spewing hundreds of corpses in its wake, it becomes clearer by the hour that there is only one way for America to end this stomach-churning nightmare it has created: get out.

That's it. The occupying armies - including [the] corporate mercenaries - should leave now.

...[Our leaders'] chest-beating pronouncements about "staying the course" and "seeing it through" are just so much rag-chewing nonsense. The way to rectify a crime is not to keep doing it - or in John Kerry's ludicrous formulations, to keep doing it in some different, "better" way - but simply to stop doing it. The illegal invasion was a crime, the occupation is a crime, and if you would not be a criminal, you must stop committing crimes.

John Kerry then has morphed into Barack Obama now: a "progressive," "liberal," "anti-war" Democrat who nonetheless throws himself wholeheartedly behind the retrograde, reactionary, bloodthirsty wars of the militarist oligarchy. Obama is now agonizing over this burning question: when he sends more American forces to Afghanistan shortly, should he call them "combat troops" or "advisers and trainers"? That is the range of acceptable choices available.

For the only "exit strategy" that Obama is offering is the patenly false hope that a Western-trained Afghan army and police force will eventually provide all the necessary security for a stable, legitimate democratic government. But Ann Jones at TomDispatch gives the detailed lie to this fantasy.

Jones did a remarkable thing in this day and age: rather than simply regurgitating the latest missive from self-interested parties in the Pentagon and White House about the great strides being made in training Afghanistan's security forces, she actually went there and saw what was happening. The result was grimly illuminating. You should read the whole piece to get the full picture, but here are some telling excerpts:

Afghans are Afghans. They have their own history, their own culture, their own habitual ways of thinking and behaving, all complicated by a modern experience of decades of war, displacement, abject poverty, and incessant meddling by foreign governments near and far -- of which the United States has been the most powerful and persistent. Afghans do not think or act like Americans. Yet Americans in power refuse to grasp that inconvenient point. ...

In the current policy debate about the Afghan War in Washington, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin wants the Afghans to defend their country. Senator John McCain, the top Republican on the committee, agrees but says they need even more help from even more Americans. The common ground -- the sacred territory President Obama gropes for -- is that, whatever else happens, the U.S. must speed up the training of "the Afghan security forces."

...What is there to show for all this remarkably expensive training? Although in Washington they may talk about the 90,000 soldiers in the Afghan National Army, no one has reported actually seeing such an army anywhere in Afghanistan. When 4,000 U.S. Marines were sent into Helmand Province in July to take on the Taliban in what is considered one of its strongholds, accompanying them were only about 600 Afghan security forces, some of whom were police. Why, you might ask, didn't the ANA, 90,000 strong after eight years of training and mentoring, handle Helmand on its own? No explanation has been offered. American and NATO officers often complain that Afghan army units are simply not ready to "operate independently," but no one ever speaks to the simple question: Where are they?

My educated guess is that such an army simply does not exist. It may well be true that Afghan men have gone through some version of "Basic Warrior Training" 90,000 times or more. When I was teaching in Afghanistan from 2002 to 2006, I knew men who repeatedly went through ANA training to get the promised Kalashnikov and the pay. Then they went home for a while and often returned some weeks later to enlist again under a different name.

In a country where 40% of men are unemployed, joining the ANA for 10 weeks is the best game in town. It relieves the poverty of many families every time the man of the family goes back to basic training, but it's a needlessly complicated way to unintentionally deliver such minimal humanitarian aid. Some of these circulating soldiers are aging former mujahidin -- the Islamist fundamentalists the U.S. once paid to fight the Soviets -- and many are undoubtedly Taliban.

As Jones notes, the brilliant minds of General David Petraeus' big brass brain trust have been surprised to see how Taliban fighters are continually increasing their combat sophistication and effectiveness, "as if the insurgents had attended something akin to the U.S. Army's Ranger school, which teaches soldiers how to fight in small groups in austere environments," as the Washington Post reports. Jones draws the obvious conclusion: they have been attending training sessions -- provided, along with money, weapons and equipment, by the Americans themselves.

While training and arming your enemies might not be "best practice" for protecting your own troops, or, indeed, winning a war, it does tie in nicely with what, in the end, is the ultimate goal of the war in Afghanistan -- indeed, the goal of the great, never-ending Terror War itself: profits. Jones:

Earlier this year, the U.S. training program became slightly more compelling with the introduction of a U.S.-made weapon, the M-16 rifle, which was phased in over four months as a replacement for the venerable Kalashnikov. Even U.S. trainers admit that, in Afghanistan, the Kalashnikov is actually the superior weapon. Light and accurate, it requires no cleaning even in the dust of the high desert, and every man and boy already knows it well. The strange and sensitive M-16, on the other hand, may be more accurate at slightly greater distances, but only if a soldier can keep it clean, while managing to adjust and readjust its notoriously sensitive sights. The struggling soldiers of the ANA may not ace that test, but now that the U.S. military has generously passed on its old M-16s to Afghans, it can buy new ones at taxpayer expense, a prospect certain to gladden the heart of any arms manufacturer. (Incidentally, thanks must go to the Illinois National Guard [who were sent to Afghanistan to train the local army] for risking their lives to make possible such handsome corporate profits.)

Jones concludes:

"Our" Afghans are never going to fight for an American cause, with or without American troops, the way we imagine they should. They're never going to fight with the energy of the Taliban for a national government that we installed against Afghan wishes, then more recently set up to steal another election, and now seem about to ratify in office, despite incontrovertible evidence of flagrant fraud. Why should they? Even if the U.S. could win their minds, their hearts are not in it.

Jones goes on to make the point that this is not an argument for sending more American troops; this would only exacerbate the existing problems, engendering more of the inherent atrocities noted above, which in turn give rise to fiercer and broader resistance. Again, the only answer is to end the war. I mean, that is the only answer if the question is what course would be in the best interests -- morally, politically, financially -- of the American people, and human civilization as a whole.

But of course, that question does not concern our profiteering militarist oligarchy in the slightest. And so the bad medicine of the Terror War -- the ultimate "public option," with the government picking up the tab -- will keep being dispensed all over the world.
(c) 2009 Chris Floyd

The Blackening Of Our Black Hole
By Case Wagonvoord

The black hole that is the Beltway is getting deeper and deeper. The slow turn of its vortex is sucking in the decency that has been struggling to emerge over the 233 years of our country's existence. Black holes are formed when a star collapses, and their gravitational pull is so great no matter can resist it. The star that collapsed in America was democracy, and the void left by its destruction is pulling all that once was into its darkness.

The change we were supposed to believe in was the resurrection of the star to its former glory. Alas, the force of the black hole has proven too powerful for the pathetic effort at change we have seen thus far.

It's all spin. The lips mouth decency while the heart sinks deeper and deeper into the void.

Last month, Attorney General Eric Holder announced the appointment of a special prosecutor to look into CIA interrogation techniques in the wake of 9/11. It was a breath of fresh air that quickly turned stale.

Now, The New York Times tells us that seven former CIA directors have signed a letter urging that the inquiry be dropped. Their arguments for doing so are arguments that could only come from the belly of the black hole.

Our torture was reviewed by "career prosecutors," they reassure us, who determined that torture wasn't torture. Case closed, even though the prosecutors in question were DOJ hacks appointed by Karl Rove.

"These men and women who undertake difficult intelligence assignments in the aftermath of an attack such as September 11 must believe there is permanence in the legal rules that govern their action," the men said in their letter.

It's a simply philosophy: a law once broken remains broken.

The Magnificent Seven could have spared themselves the effort, though. Nothing is going to come of the investigation. The Times article informs us that:

Matthew Miller, a spokesman for the Justice Department, said the department "will not prosecute anyone who acted in good faith and within the scope of the legal guidance given by the Office of Legal Council regarding the interrogation of detainees."

A broken law is like an exploded star-both, once gone, are gone forever.

Such is the arrogance of those who live in our black hole that they no longer feel compelled to put together a decent argument to justify their immorality. But why should they: nobody's paying attention.
(c) 2009 Case Wagenvoord. Some years ago, Case Wagenvoord turned off the tube and picked up a book. He's been trouble ever since. His articles have been posted at The Smirking Chimp, Countercurrents and Issues & Alibis. When he's not writing or brooding, he is carving hardwood bowls that have been displayed in galleries and shows across the country. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and two cats. His book, Open Letters to George W. Bush is available at

Healthcare, Unemployment, And Other Diversions
By Mike Folkerth

Good Morning all of you independent minds out there; your King of Simple News is on the air.

I want to touch briefly on a few different subjects today and I'll start with healthcare. If in fact our government servants (ha-ha) really did want to address the second greatest problem in America head-on, they could certainly do so.

To get to the point in very few words; for-profit health insurance companies would out the door and tort reform would be passed within the week. Drug companies and medical supply companies would be freed of the fear of massive lawsuits and their executives and employees would be brought back to earthly salaries as would the cost of their products.

There are simply some things that are not conducive to the profit driven system of unbridled capitalism. The prospect of making billions of dollars on the ill fate of a person's bad health should not be a seen as a profit center in any county in the world. NO ONE ever chose to be sick.

While I remain light years away from the base platform of Congressman Dennis Kucinich, he has introduced a proposal within the new healthcare bill that would allow individual states to form their own models of non-profit healthcare. I seriously doubt the Kucinich proposal will survive in the final bill.

The Kucinich proposal (not his original idea by any stretch) is very much like the plan that I proposed (which I learned from Jack E. Lohman) and in the simplest form, would allow a non-profit clearing house to be set up to receive premiums from the plan participants and disburse the funds to the health care providers.

These funds would not include paying for skyscrapers in New York's financial district, nor would they include multi-million dollar paychecks for insurance executives and private Gulf Stream jets. Even the condo in Barbados and the cocktail parties in Tahiti would have to go. There would also be no multi-million dollar settlements for ambulance chasing attorneys included in my program.

But then, my solution is far too sensible for 435 lawyers to adopt whose reelection campaigns are supported financially by thousands of insurance executives. So instead, with Obama's new plan, we will become subject to fines for not purchasing health insurance from for-profit insurance companies and treated by doctors and hospitals that may be sued at any minute by some lowlife ambulance chasing attorney.

In other words, Middle America will be mandated by penalty of law to continue to support the lifestyles of the rich and infamous while receiving overpriced healthcare. As I said in the beginning, Congress could act in our best interests yet today...but then they could have also acted in our best interests over the past century and didn't.

On another subject, the extended benefits for unemployment are running out all over the country. The answer is to extend the extended benefits for 13 more weeks and Congress is on that fix like white on rice. Note, that Congress can act quickly when votes are in jeopardy.

At some point, Congress will be forced to change the name of unemployment insurance to that of "permanent relief." Oh, they'll drag the whole thing out in some dramatic fashion and blame everyone but themselves for the permanent high unemployment, but when push comes to shove, some form of enduring welfare will be enacted to backstop the past actions of Congress's own ignorance.

The president is already preparing his ardent supporters for a healthy dose of reality by saying that the recession isn't completely over and that unemployment will be with us for some time to come. Certainly the job creation will be in full swing next November, around the same time as the mid-term elections when the stimulus money will flow like cheap wine at a fraternity party. Nonetheless, all the Kings horses and all the Kings men can't bring employment in balance again.

As we watch the dog and pony show that we refer to as Congress, continue to add a fourth ring to the former three ring circus, I suggest that we all get our own houses in order. Personal action is all that we have left in our control. Here are some great suggestions and archives from Kathy Harrison, at The Just In Case Book Blog. Kathy's book, "Just In Case," is worth the read and to have on your shelf...just in case!

For those who wish to understand a little more about where we are headed and the psychology of why we vehemently insist on this trip to hell in a hand-basket, the following article sent to me by King of Simple friend, Greg, is very much worthy of your time.

"An ignorant person is one who doesn't know what you have just found out." ~~~ Will Rogers
(c) 2009 Mike Folkerth is not your run-of-the-mill author of economics. Nor does he write in boring lecture style. Not even close. The former real estate broker, developer, private real estate fund manager, auctioneer, Alaskan bush pilot, restaurateur, U.S. Navy veteran, heavy equipment operator, taxi cab driver, fishing guide, horse packer...(I won't go on, it's embarrassing) writes from experience and plain common sense. He is the author of "The Biggest Lie Ever Believed."

The Quotable Quote...

"The voice of protest, of warning, of appeal is never more needed than when the clamor of fife and drum, echoed by the press, and too often by the pulpit, is bidding all men fall in and keep step and obey in silence the tyrannous word of command. Then, more than ever, it is the duty of the good citizen not to be silent."
~~~ Charles Eliot Norton

Globalization Goes Bankrupt
By Chris Hedges

The rage of the disposed is fracturing the country, dividing it into camps that are unmoored from the political mainstream. Movements are building on the ends of the political spectrum that have lost faith in the mechanisms of democratic change. You can't blame them. But unless we on the left move quickly this rage will be captured by a virulent and racist right wing, one that seeks a disturbing proto-fascism.

Every day counts. Every deferral of protest hurts. We should, if we have the time and the ability, make our way to Pittsburgh for the meeting of the G-20 this week rather than do what the power elite is hoping we will do-stay home. Complacency comes at a horrible price.

"The leaders of the G-20 are meeting to try and salvage their power and money after everything that has gone wrong," said Benedicto Martinez Orozco, co-president of the Mexican Frente Autentico del Trabajo (FAT), who is in Pittsburgh for the protests. "This is what this meeting is about."

The draconian security measures put in place to silence dissent in Pittsburgh are disproportionate to any actual security concern. They are a response not to a real threat, but to the fear gripping the established centers of power. The power elite grasps, even if we do not, the massive fraud and theft being undertaken to save a criminal class on Wall Street and international speculators of the kinds who were executed in other periods of human history. They know the awful cost this plundering of state treasuries will impose on workers, who will become a permanent underclass. And they also know that once this is clear to the rest of us, rebellion will no longer be a foreign concept.

The delegates to the G-20, the gathering of the world's wealthiest nations, will consequently be protected by a National Guard combat battalion, recently returned from Iraq. The battalion will shut down the area around the city center, man checkpoints and patrol the streets in combat gear. Pittsburgh has augmented the city's police force of 1,000 with an additional 3,000 officers. Helicopters have begun to buzz gatherings in city parks, buses driven to Pittsburgh to provide food to protesters have been impounded, activists have been detained, and permits to camp in the city parks have been denied. Web sites belonging to resistance groups have been hacked and trashed, and many groups suspect that they have been infiltrated and that their phones and e-mail accounts are being monitored.

Larry Holmes, an organizer from New York City, stood outside a tent encampment on land owned by the Monumental Baptist Church in the city's Hill District. He is one of the leaders of the Bail Out the People Movement. Holmes, a longtime labor activist, on Sunday led a march on the convention center by unemployed people calling for jobs. He will coordinate more protests during the week.

"It is de facto martial law," he said, "and the real effort to subvert the work of those protesting has yet to begin. But voting only gets you so far. There are often not many choices in an election. When you build democratic movements around the war or unemployment you get a more authentic expression of democracy. It is more organic. It makes a difference. History has taught us this."

Our global economy, like our political system, has been hijacked by a tiny oligarchy, composed mostly of wealthy white men who serve corporations. They have pledged or raised a staggering $18 trillion, looted largely from state treasuries, to prop up banks and other financial institutions that engaged in suicidal acts of speculation and ruined the world economy. They have formulated trade deals so corporations can speculate across borders with currency, food and natural resources even as, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, 1.02 billion people on the planet struggle with hunger. Globalization has obliterated the ability of many poor countries to protect food staples such as corn, rice, beans and wheat with subsidies or taxes on imported staples. The abolishment of these protections has permitted the giant mechanized farms to wipe out tens of millions of small farmers-2 million in Mexico alone-bankrupting many and driving them off their land. Those who could once feed themselves can no longer find enough food, and the wealthiest governments use institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization like pit bulls to establish economic supremacy. There is little that most governments seem able to do to fight back.

But the game is up. The utopian dreams of globalization have been exposed as a sham. Force is all the elite have left. We are living through one of civilization's great seismic reversals. The ideology of globalization, like all utopias that are sold as inevitable and irreversible, has become a farce. The power elite, perplexed and confused, cling to the disastrous principles of globalization and its outdated language to mask the political and economic vacuum before us. The absurd idea that the marketplace alone should determine economic and political constructs caused the crisis. It led the G-20 to sacrifice other areas of human importance-from working conditions, to taxation, to child labor, to hunger, to health and pollution-on the altar of free trade. It left the world's poor worse off and the United States with the largest deficits in human history. Globalization has become an excuse to ignore the mess. It has left a mediocre elite desperately trying to save a system that cannot be saved and, more important, trying to save itself. "Speculation," then-President Jacques Chirac of France once warned, "is the AIDS of our economies." We have reached the terminal stage.

"Each of Globalization's strengths has somehow turned out to have an opposing meaning," John Ralston Saul wrote in "The Collapse of Globalism." "The lowering of national residency requirements for corporations has morphed into a tool for massive tax evasion. The idea of a global economic system mysteriously made local poverty seem unreal, even normal. The decline of the middle class-the very basis of democracy-seemed to be just one of those things that happen, unfortunate but inevitable. That the working class and the lower middle class, even parts of the middle class, could only survive with more than one job per person seemed to be expected punishment for not keeping up. The contrast between unprecedented bonuses for mere managers at the top and the four-job families below them seemed inevitable in a globalized world. For two decades an elite consensus insisted that unsustainable third-world debts could not be put aside in a sort of bad debt reserve without betraying Globalism's essential principles and moral obligations, which included an unwavering respect for the sanctity of international contracts. It took the same people about two weeks to abandon sanctity and propose bad debt banks for their own far larger debts in 2009."

The institutions that once provided alternative sources of power, including the press, government, agencies of religion, universities and labor unions, have proved morally bankrupt. They no longer provide a space for voices of moral autonomy. No one will save us now but ourselves.

"The best thing that happened to the Establishment is the election of a black president," Holmes said. "It will contain people for a given period of time, but time is running out. Suppose something else happens? Suppose another straw breaks? What happens when there is a credit card crisis or a collapse in commercial real estate? The financial system is very, very fragile. The legs are being kicked out from underneath it."

"Obama is in trouble," Holmes went on. "The economic crisis is a structural crisis. The recovery is only a recovery for Wall Street. It can't be sustained, and Obama will be blamed for it. He is doing everything Wall Street demands. But this will be a dead end. It is a prescription for disaster, not only for Obama but the Democratic Party. It is only groups like ours that provide hope. If labor unions will get off their ass and stop focusing on narrow legislation for their members, if they will go back to being social unions that embrace broad causes, we have a chance of effecting change. If this does not happen it will be a right-wing disaster."
(c) 2009 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. He is the author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning. His latest book is American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. His latest book is, "Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle."

Visiting Granny Grundy
A real life parable
By Mary Pitt

I was taking a drive on the country roads as a break from sitting alone in the house, feeling sorry for myself for having been widowed recently and facing the many pressures involved in re-organizing my life while keeping ahead of the bills. The beauty of my beloved prairie was blinding, reminding me of my continuing fight to save my vision. What if I could never again see the clusters of golden flowers blooming beside the road? They seemed to be waiting for the ripening grain to join them as it matures and dazzles us with brilliance for a brief while before being lost in the stark white of winter.

I realized that I was passing the home of Granny Grundy whom I had known so well a very long time ago. Her little house looked much the same. A tiny cottage that was once a farmhouse but the farmland had all been sold off and nothing left but the small yard with a house precisely in the middle. Her flowers still bloomed in the yard and appeared to be carefully tended. On an impulse I stopped, approached and knocked on the door. A middle-aged lady who appeared to be a clone of Granny as she was in my memory told me that she was Granny's grand-daughter and was living there to care for the place. It seems Granny was living in the assisted living center and insisted that she would return home one day. Her family felt that its continued existence was what was keeping their beloved Granny alive.

Thus propelled, I had to go to the center to once again meet with a good friend whom I had not seen in much too long. I had no idea how old she might be because any inquiries were always met with a stern, "Never ask a lady her age!" I also never knew her given name. Surely she had one but we always referred to her as Granny Grundy, perhaps because we liked the way it sounded. Every child that lived in the area loved to sit in her kitchen, munching cookies and drinking cold milk on a hot summer afternoon. Our parents always knew that if a kid was out of shouting distance, he could be found at Granny's house.

Now the nurse steered me to the end of the long hall where Granny was currently residing. "You won't have long to visit. She has a news show on television that she watches religiously every day."

We entered the tiny, all-purpose room that was furnished with a bed, a familiar-looking dresser, and a hospital bed against the wall flanked by two straight chairs. The tiny figure sat in the bentwood-and-cane rocking chair that once graced her living room. Though it was small, her tiny feet barely reached the floor. The nurse announced her visitor and disappeared out the door. The wizened figure in the chair stirred and the piercing black eyes looked me over carefully and critically. Then came the familiar cackle, "Lordy, Girl, git ovah heah where I can look at you bettah!" Not missing a word as I approached, she continued, "You look jis' as purty as ever! You was always a purty child though I never thought you knowed it. And don't tell me it's jist my agin' eyes. I can see thangs still that I ain't suppose to."

Trying to make conversation, I offered, "Granny, the nurse tells me that you have a favorite TV show coming up in a little while. What do you like to watch?"

I was taken aback as she snapped, "The Ed Show. He's on at 5:00 and I watch him ever' day! He tells the truth and don't give no never-mind whether they like it or not! Then I turn it off for supper and turn it back on for Olberman. I don't watch that Mathews feller."

This was getting good, so I queried, "Why don't you like Chris Mathews?"

"Because he ain't got no conviction. He's like a dam' football announcer, jis' a-watchin' the game and don't care who wins. Nothin's either right or wrong! He's all about politics and all the same. Now, Ed takes his side and tells you why, so does Keith. Keith is kinda funny lotsa times but he tells'em what he thinks, too."

"That's a lot of excitement for one night, isn't it? When do you go to bed?" I asked.

"Not till nine o'clock! Gotta watch Rachel. They keep tellin' me she's gay but I don't care. She's a beauty and she works her pretty little hiney off tellin' us what's goin' on."

As she spoke, she got even more animated and sounded like her old, forceful self I asked, "You're interested in the news then? I suppose you also watch some shows on Fox News."

Her answer was underway before I finished my sentence. "Hell, no! Them guys is all nuts over there! That Beck guy is ready for the man in the little white coat! None of'em is safe to let out at night. Won't waste my time. They's all mad at Jimmy Carter now fer sayin' they's racists. You know they are! I lived in the south an' I lived among the black folk. You heard the sayin' and you know it's true. In the north they don't care how high a black person gits as long as he don't get too close. In the south they don't care how close he gits as long as he don't git too high! An' if anything else, they can't stand an educated black man! That's why they hates Mr. Obama so bad! He's smarter than they is and he got a little bit too high!!

"Jist 'cause he's black they tries to say that the President is a for'ner. Well, he ain't. Even put his birth s'tificate on the TV but that ain't good enough! They wanta see the one from the hospital, you know the one with his little footprints on that they give the mama to take home. Hell, if anybody could find it, they would try to make him take off his size 'lenvens and let'em see if they looks the same! I tell you, that Jimmy Carter is a fine man. He lives what he b'lieves and he b'lieves in followin' Jesus like it sez in the Good Book! Let me tell you! I lived in the south and I lived among black people and they ain't a dime's worth of difference in the livin'! Them little black bellies hurts when they gets hungry jis' the way the little white ones does! Jimmy knows that.

"All them people that claims to be Christians ain't no part of Jesus! They jis' takes his name but they don't b'lieve in what he b'lieved in. He said to take all yore money and give it to the pore. Didn't say to give it to the preachers and the politicians. You gotta give it to the pore! Directly! When they see a pore person, they jist look the other way and they oughta take'em home. Give'em a good meal and a safe place to sleep. Now that's the Jesus I know! Don't know what Jesus they know but I bet it ain't the real thing!

"An' ya know what makes my blood boil? It's them dam Tea-Partiers! They is jis' like the ones in Boston so long ago. They wanta run the guvmint but they don't wanta pay no taxes! Rich and spoiled, that's all they is!

"How old are you now, girl? You don't say! I guess it's all in the how you look at it but that don't seem old to me. It kinda crawls up and pounces on ya, don't it? Law, me! Look at the time. Been so good lookin' at you but it's 'most five o'clock! I got a date with a man named Ed! Y'all stop in any time, girl. Ya'll come back, y'hear? Maybe I can find a cookie and a glassa cold milk if you let me know you're comin'."

I went back down the hall with a spring in my step, forgetting all about the bills, the eye surgery, and all the rest of my cares and worries, feeling younger than springtime and knowing that I will be going back to visit the woman who can teach me how better to live every day as well as how to separate the wheat from the chaff. "God's in His Heaven, all right with the world."
(c) 2009 Mary Pitt is a very "with-it" old lady who aspires to bring a bit of truth, justice, and common sense to a nation that has lost touch with its humanity in the search for societal "perfection." Huzzahs and whiney complaints may be sent to

The Dead Letter Office...

Heil Obama,

Dear Doktor Ralls,

Congratulations, you have just been awarded the "Vidkun Quisling Award!" Your name will now live throughout history with such past award winners as Marcus Junius Brutus, Judas Iscariot, Benedict Arnold, George Stephanopoulos, Ralph Nader, George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Vidkun Quisling and last year's winner Volksjudge Clarence (slappy) Thomas.

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution, your decision allowing illegal aliens to go to taxpayer funded colleges in North Carolina allowing them to not only take bottom tiered jobs from Americans but top tiered jobs as well, Afghanistan, Pakistan and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Educational Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Iron Cross, first class, with diamond clusters presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 10-31-2009. We salute you Herr Ralls, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

CIA Directors Conclude CIA Shouldn't Be Investigated For Murder
By Glenn Greenwald

In a truly shocking development being treated as major news, seven former CIA Directors -- including all three who served under George W. Bush -- jointly concluded that the CIA should not be criminally investigated for torture deaths, and they have written a letter to President Obama (.pdf) expressing that view. Do leaders of organizations in general ever believe that their organizations and its members should be criminally investigated and possibly prosecuted for acts carried out on behalf of that organization, and do CIA Directors specifically ever believe that about the CIA? Has a CIA Director ever advocated that CIA agents be criminally investigated for illegal intelligence activities?

But what's most notable about this letter is that it is not addressed to the individual charged with making decisions about whether an individual should be prosecuted: namely, the Attorney General of the U.S. Instead, it is addressed to the President himself, and they "urge [him] to exercise [his] authority to reverse Attorney General's August 24 decision to re-open the criminal investigation of CIA interrogations." What so-called "authority" are they talking about?

The way our criminal justice system works is that the President has the authority to set generalized policy priorities for the DOJ (e.g., spend more resources on drug and terrorism offenses but less on pornography and gambling), but decisions about whether specific individuals will or will not be prosecuted are supposed to be immunized entirely from White House influence, and are the province of independent Justice Department prosecutors (led by the Attorney General). That's what it means to have an apoliticized justice system: the President doesn't order specific people to be prosecuted or shielded from prosecution. Only Justice Department officials, assessing purely legal factors, make those determinations.

In fact, the entire U.S. Attorneys scandal was grounded in exactly this concern: that Karl Rove and the Bush White House were directing that certain prosecutors be fired either for criminally investigating specific Republicans or refusing to prosecute specific Democrats. Decisions about specific prosecutions aren't for the White House to make. No DOJ official with the most minimal integrity would allow the President to block specific criminal investigations as these CIA Directors urge.

Richard Nixon tried that and it led to the Saturday Night Massacre, when he ordered his Attorney General and (when the AG refused) Deputy Attorney General to fire Archibald Cox, the Watergate Special Prosector, after Cox had refused to accept White House limitations on his investigation. Both the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General resigned rather than let Nixon interfere with their independence in making decisions about prosecutions. Similarly, it has been reported that public decrees earlier this year from White House political advisers (led by Rahm Emanuel) that there would be no CIA torture investigations infuriated DOJ officials because that's not the White House's decision to make. It was the DOJ's anger over this Emanuel-led usurpation of its responsibilities that led Obama to make publicly clear that decisions about prosecutions are the DOJ's to make, not his.

What these CIA Directors are urging would be completely improper. In fact, one could plausibly argue that where (as here) the DOJ determines that serious crimes might have been committed and an investigation needed, it would constitute obstruction of justice for the President to intervene by quashing any possibility of prosecution. As former aide to Condoleezza Rice, Philip Zelikow, put it in April of this year: "I really don't think the President should have opinions on who should or should not be prosecuted -- full stop."

But we have a political culture which believes, literally, that the CIA must operate above and beyond the law (recall Joe Klein's argument against torture prosecutions: CIA agents "behave extra-legally for the greater good of the nation"). Even though the American people have enacted numerous laws through their Congress which explicitly criminalize certain behavior on the part of the intelligence community (torture, warrantless eavesdropping, failing to brief Congress), there is a widespread belief that we can and must allow the CIA to commit crimes with impunity. The CIA's personal spokesman at The Washington Post, David Ignatius, argues outright that the CIA should not be prosecuted for crimes because we want to ensure they are willing to act illegally in the future.

The CIA is one of the leading weapons the political establishment uses to disregard the law -- to commit crimes -- when they want to, and that's the elite prerogative at stake here, one of the prime powers they are fighting to preserve by arguing against prosecutions (that, and a desperation that nobody "look backwards" at what they did). So if improper presidential interference in the prosecutorial process is how that gets accomplished, so be it. By definition, opponents of torture prosecutions are not people concerned with adhering to what the Beltway calls legal niceties (i.e., the rule of law), and so it shouldn't be surprising that they want the President to obstruct specific prosecutions that he opposes for political reasons.

What makes all of this sturm und drang over Holder's decision so remarkable is how severely limited the DOJ's investigation is. I've written before about how it is designed to ensure nothing more than Abu Ghraib justice -- at most, some isolated CIA interrogators might be investigated, but not the White House and DOJ architects of the torture regime itself. But -- apparently in response to the CIA Directors' letter -- DOJ officials ran (anonymously, of course) to The Washington Post yesterday to assure everyone that the scope of the DOJ investigation is even far more limited than previously thought:

The Justice Department's review of detainee abuse by the CIA will focus on a very small number of cases, including at least one in which an Afghan prisoner died at a secret facility, according to two sources briefed on the matter. . . .

Among the cases under review will be the death seven years ago of a young Afghan man, who was beaten and chained to a concrete floor without blankets, according to the sources. The man died in the cold night at a secret CIA facility north of Kabul, known as the Salt Pit. . . .

Although earlier reports indicated that [prosecutor John] Durham would look into 10 cases, a source said recently the number is much smaller. . . . A senior official who took part in the review confirmed that of two dozen referrals, the Salt Pit episode was one of two or three cases close to being considered for criminal indictment. . . .

Two other detainee cases were among those that drew significant law enforcement attention: the death by suffocation of Iraqi Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush in November 2003, after which an Army officer was convicted; and the death the same month of Manadel al-Jamadi at Abu Ghraib prison, in the custody of the CIA, where he was placed after being beaten by Navy SEALs.

The only thing Holder wants investigated -- what has provoked all of this intense Beltway uproar -- is "two or three cases" where detainees were killed. Contrary to how this has been debated, what Holder has ordered is not a "torture investigation." To the contrary, he said explicitly that those who tortured in good faith compliance with Yoo's torture memos will be immunized. It isn't torture techniques which are being considered for prosecution. All Holder has ordered are basically just garden-variety murder investigations, where two or three helpless detainees were sadistically beaten to death or suffocated while in American custody. At least according to the DOJ sources who ran to the Post yesterday in light of the CIA Directors' letter: that's all that's being investigated.

But even that is too much for our political class. Apparently, not only should executive branch officials and their agencies be allowed to institute a torture regime, spy on Americans illegally, and commit war crimes , but they should also be allowed literally to get away with murder. After all, if they aren't allowed to do that, they'll be deterred from doing it again in the future -- if they're investigated, they might feel compelled to think about "the law" as a limit on what they can do -- and we wouldn't want that.

UPDATE: In other breaking news, Erik Prince announces that he believes criminal prosecutions of Blackwater are unwarranted; Wall Street CEOs -- past and present -- conclude that an investigation of fraud and abuse among investment banks would serve no real purpose; Alberto Gonzales reveals his opposition to any proceedings against DOJ lawyers who acted in bad faith; police unions announce that the problem of brutality is overstated and there's no need for added oversight; medical doctors agree that malpractice lawsuits need to be limited; and a poll of felons currently in prison reveal that 99% of them believe that the country would have been better off if it had just let bygones be bygones and decided not to proceed with prosecutions in their particular case.
(c) 2009 Glenn Greenwald. was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book "How Would a Patriot Act?," a critique of the Bush administration's use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, "A Tragic Legacy," examines the Bush legacy.

The Morality Of The War On Terror Has Now Descended Into Viagra Handouts
By Gary Younge

Bribing leaders in the Afghan hinterland to take sides in the clash of civilisations is no easy task. The CIA used to offer local chiefs money for information, but then they would spend it so ostentatiously they effectively blew their own cover. Operatives used to give weapons before it turned out that the arms were being sold on and used against them.

But one day they decided that if they were going to rally the fence-sitters to the enlightenment cause they should strike below the belt. During a conversation with a chief in his 60s who had four younger wives, a CIA official pulled out a bag of Viagra. "Take one of these," he said. "You'll love it."

It was the beginning of a beautiful relationship. When the officer returned later in the week the once wary chief was all smiles and actionable intelligence. All he wanted in return was some little blue pills. "He came up to us beaming," the official told the Washington Post. "He said: 'You are a great man.' And after that we could do whatever we wanted in his area."

Another retired officer told the Post. "You didn't hand it out to younger guys, but it could be a silver bullet to make connections to the older ones." For elderly polygamous patriarchs, he explained, it could "put them back in an authoritative position."

But the line between authoritative and tyrannical in these matters in this part of the world is horrifically blurred. Recent legislation in Afghanistan, approved by the man the west put in power, in effect legalizes rape in marriage. Other elements of the law make it illegal for a woman to leave home, seek work and education, or visit the doctor without her husband's permission - and she cannot refuse to "make herself up" or to "dress up" if her husband demands it. Under these circumstances handing out Viagra is a bit like bombing obscure targets from thousands of feet. The likelihood that anything good will come from it is highly remote.

It's a far cry from the days shortly before the war when Laura Bush took over her husband's weekly radio address to back the use of B-52s in the name of sex equality, and Cherie Booth railed against the Taliban from behind a burka. "For women to make a contribution they need opportunities, self-esteem and esteem in the eyes of their society," she argued. How you get from there to viagra and domestic despotism has been the warped story of the last eight years.

The grotesque contradictions between the political morality that underpins the bombing of Afghanistan and the realities of the occupation are stunning. This, lest we forget, was the respectable war. The just response. The war of necessity. The single most popular response to 9/11 - supported by 94% of Americans and 74% of Britons.

Today substantial majorities in both countries oppose it, and almost two-thirds of Americans think it is going badly - while more than half of Britons believe troops should never have been sent. It's not difficult to see why.

Just before the invasion Tony Blair delivered a series of rhetorical jabs at the charges of his critics, from the podium of the Labour party conference: "'Don't kill innocent people.' We are not the ones who waged war on the innocent. We seek the guilty. 'Look for a diplomatic solution.' There is no diplomacy with Bin Laden or the Taliban regime."

He made it sound not like war but a humanitarian mission with some strong-arm detective work thrown in.

But they have not found the guilty. And the innocent keep dying. Following the Nato air strike in Kunduz 17 days ago, bereaved civilians formed a line so that they might receive a charred corpse to call their own. "A man comes and says 'I lost my brother and cousin', so we gave him two bodies," said Omar Khan. "Another says I lost five relatives, so we gave him five bodies to take home and bury. When we had run out of bodies we started giving them limbs, legs, arms, torsos." Only five families left empty-handed.

Meanwhile, both the US and British military now concede that there can be no final settlement without involving the Taliban. In order to one day declare victory, the allies have to change the terms of what victory would mean almost every other day.

Failure in Afghanistan does not just represent a particular setback in a single war but the final unravelling of a grand narrative - the war on terror. These hostilities against an abstract noun were used not only to fight abroad but also to repress at home. In Britain the war on terror has not only curtailed our civil liberties but poisoned our racial discourse. Militarily, strategically, politically and diplomatically it has been an abject failure on its own terms. As a means of combating Islamism, facilitating democracy in the Middle East, integrating Muslims into the west and fighting terrorism it has proved not only ineffective but counterproductive. True, they have executed Saddam Hussein and toppled the Taliban (for now). But that is precious little to show for eight years of blood and treasure on this scale.

Both British and US governments understand this. The White House has abandoned the phrase "war on terror" in favour of "overseas contingency operations." The president's own counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, last month explained that "describing our efforts as a 'global war' only plays into the warped narrative that al-Qaida propagates." David Miliband, Britain's foreign minister, now argues that terrorism "is a deadly tactic, not an institution or an ideology." General David Petraeus, the US commander, has said the western coalition in Iraq "could not kill its way out of the problems of insurgency and civil strife."

Indeed the only people who believe the strategy is still viable are the neocons, and the "muscular liberals" who attempted to give them cover from the left. The former's bid for America to unilaterally impose its will on the rest of the world has foundered on military and diplomatic realities.

The latter's effort to realign the left in support of American imperialism and in fear of political Islam was always a stretch and has proved central to New Labor's undoing. Fancying themselves as Orwell during the 30s, a raft of British commentators claimed not to be leaving the left but returning it to its true principles. They cast their critics as a blend of the querulous Neville Chamberlain and craven apologists for Stalin. And having created all these straw men, they then proceeded to waterboard them. Those who didn't support war abroad and assimilation and state repression at home were branded as soft on Islam, women's rights, gay rights, forced marriage and dictatorship.

The vehemence with which both sides defend their positions is in direct proportion to the degree to which their positions have been utterly discredited.

But while the intellectual foundations of the war on terror have been discarded, the global infrastructure erected to sustain it - rendition, secret prisons, Guantanamo, the Patriot Act, wire-tapping - still stands.

Barack Obama has increased troop levels in Afghanistan and delayed Iraq withdrawal. The language that has dominated the last eight years has changed - but the logic persists. Having retired the term "war on terror," he must retire the war itself.
(c) 2009 Gary Younge, is the Alfred Knobler Journalism Fellow at The Nation Institute, is the New York correspondent for the Guardian and the author of No Place Like Home: A Black Briton's Journey Through the Deep South (Mississippi) and Stranger in a Strange Land: Travels in the Disunited States (New Press).

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ John Darkow ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

First We Take Manhattan
By Leonard Cohen

They sentenced me to twenty years of boredom
For trying to change the system from within.
I'm coming now, coming to reward them
First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin!

I'm guided by a signal in the heavens.
I'm guided by this birthmark on my skin.
I'm guided by the beauty of our weapon.
First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin!

I'd really like to live beside you, baby.
I love your body and your spirit and your clothes.
But you see that line that's moving through the station?
I told you, I told you, told you, I was one of those.

Ah you loved me as a loser, but now you're worried that I just might win.
You knew the way you could have stop me, but you never had the discipline.
How many nights, how many nights I prayed for this, to let my work begin.
First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin!

I don't like your fashion business mister.
And I don't like these drugs that keep you thin.
I don't like what happened to my sister.
First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin!

I'd really like to live beside you, baby.
I love your body and your spirit and your clothes.
But you see that line that's moving through the station?
I told you, I told you, told you, I was one of those.

And I thank you for those items that you sent me.
I mean the monkey and the plywood violin.
I practiced every night, now I'm ready.
First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin!

I am guided!

Remember me, I used to live for music.
Remember me, I brought your groceries in.
Well it's Father's Day and everybody's wounded.
First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin!
(c) 1988/2009 Leonard Cohen from "Live In London"

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

An ice shelf off the coast of Greenland in 2006 (above) and last week (below).

Melting Ice Caps Expose Hundreds Of Secret Arctic Lairs

ZACKENBERG RESEARCH STATION, GREENLAND-Claiming it to be one of the most dramatic and visible signs of climate change to date, researchers said Monday that receding polar ice caps have revealed nearly 200 clandestine lairs once buried deep beneath hundreds of feet of Arctic ice.

"We always assumed there would be some secret lairs here and there, but the sheer number now being exposed is indeed troubling," said noted climatologist Anders Lorenzen, who claimed that the Arctic ice caps have shrunk at the alarming rate of 41,000 square miles per year. "In August alone we discovered 44 mad scientist laboratories, three highly classified military compounds, and seven reanimated and very confused cavemen. That's more than twice the number we had found in the previous three decades combined."

"This is no longer conjecture," Lorenzen added. "This is a full-blown crisis."

According to oceanographers, the Arctic Circle has been devastated by the effects of global warming in recent years, threatening hundreds of men and women who use the frozen tundra as a place to conduct bizarre experiments in human-animal grafting, carry out massive government cover-ups, or simply as a hidden headquarters from which to battle the forces of evil and fight crime.

"Last week a giant ice sheet broke off and split my prized underground complex nearly in half," said Dr. Raygun, a self-described psychotic mastermind best known for his diabolical thought-control experiments. "Now millions of dollars in state-of-the-art doomsday devices are gone-all because of the environmental carnage wrought by the human race."

"You spend your whole career concocting a brilliant scheme to wipe out all of mankind, and what happens?" Dr. Raygun continued. "They bring about a major global catastrophe completely on their own, those fools!"

Evil Scientist Dr. Raygun has begun the expensive task of
moving his entire mutant staff to their Titan moon base.

Scientists predict the problem will only get worse as rising temperatures release methane trapped in Arctic permafrost, perpetuating the warming cycle and threatening the habitats of those who depend on the ice caps for safety from the prying, meddling public.

Earlier this week a flying saucer surfaced and is reportedly still pulsating with increasingly intense, unearthly colors. And late last month, a mystical order of Nazi occultists emerged from an underground bunker where they had spent decades communing with the Hyperborean gods and attempting to breed a new Aryan super-species destined to destroy Homo sapiens and rule the earth for untold millennia.

The 12 elderly Germans were detained by local law enforcement in Wainwright, AK.

According to a Natural Resources Defense Council survey, 78 percent of sinister one-eyed industrialists based in the Arctic have been forced to relocate their powerful underworld shadow governments, with many now secretly orchestrating world affairs from dormant volcanoes on remote islands.

Many villains have also been forced to change their entire way of life.

Zawallah, the super-intelligent ape whose gold-teleporter crippled the global economy during the 1980s, recently ceased operation of his orbital heat cannon. Others, meanwhile, are genuinely concerned about the effect that increased temperatures may have on the future of humanity.

"Gwaahhhhrrr-huaawwwrr-gwaahhhrrrr," cried test subject PR-433809-21, the ghastly result of a human cloning experiment gone horribly awry. "Pwwwuuuagharrgh!"

But not all inhabitants of the polar ice caps are upset by global warming. Last month saw the thawing out of a team of British explorers frozen in 1848. Expedition members told reporters they were confident that, if more ice melts, they can finally complete their original mission of discovering a Northwest Passage.

For the time being, most researchers have shifted their attention away from the ice caps and toward finding a way to contain the giant reptile monster Bizarricus, who was trapped in an ice floe by Japanese scientists in the 1950s and has now returned to teach the world a lesson about the folly of man.
(c) 2009 The Onion

The Gross National Debt

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Issues & Alibis Vol 9 # 37 (c) 09/25/2009

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