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In This Edition

Noam Chomsky explores, "Humanitarian Imperialism."

Uri Avnery exclaims, "Fly, Tzipora, Fly!"

Victoria Stewart says, "Eat, Drink And Be Merry."

Jim Hightower remembers, "Bush's Empty Promise To Wounded Vets."

Michael Schirber foresees, "How An Eggbeater Could Power The Future."

Mike Adams reports, "FTC Launches Operation False Cures To Suppress Natural Cancer Remedies."

Cynthia McKinney orates, "Seize The Time!"

Chris Floyd previews, "Coming Attractions."

Jason Miller concludes, "Death Becomes Her."

Mike Folkerth wants you to, "STOP! Engage Brain, Think."

Mark Morford counts, "700 Billion Fluffy Nothings."

Mary Pitt considers, "Bad Business."

Georgia Republican Con-gressman Lynn Westmoreland wins the coveted "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Glenn Greenwald reports, "David Brooks Thinks He Sees A 'New Establishment' To Run Economic Policy."

Sam Harris with, "Yes, I Can."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department the fabulous Betty Bowers interviews Sarah Palin but first Uncle Ernie meets the, "Goose Step Mama."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Steve Kelley with additional cartoons and photos from Tom Tomorrow, Gary Larson, R.J. Matson, Betty Bowers, Wrapped-in-the-Flag.Com, Pat Bagley, Internet Weekly.Org, Nick Anderson, Home Energy, New Line Cinema, 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...
Zeitgeist The Movie...

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

Goose Step Mama
By Ernest Stewart

Goose step Mama, boogie all night long.
Goose step Mama, you can do no wrong.
You know how to reassemble. Empty hands and knees that tremble.
Goose step Mama, oh yeah, Goose step Mama, wah-hoo!
Goose Step Mama ~~~ The Rutles

We starve-look
At one another
Short of breath
Walking proudly in our winter coats
Wearing smells from laboratories
Facing a dying nation
Of moving paper fantasy
Listening for the new told lies
With supreme visions of lonely tunes
Hair ~~~ The Flesh Failures

"Bush's MBA is irrelevant. He was a legacy admission because of the Bush Family fortune and the school had to pass him through in order to avoid embarrassment." ~~~ Alan Greenspan

The more I know about and understand Sarah Palin the scarier she becomes. Most people I've talked to have a tendency to see Sarah as just another Dan Quayle, i.e., another harmless rat-wing loony. While we all laughed at Dan at first, we all stopped laughing when he joined with his fellow traitors to produce PNAC. Much like how Bush turned out to be not all that funny!

Sarah's nomination was a stroke of genius. Old "wet start" was still trailing miserably in the polls even though Obama was doing everything in his power to lose the election, from alienating the left with his votes for FISA and running off to bow before AIPAC, to pissing off most of the women in America by choosing Joe over Hillary.

Then some Rethuglican master, who knows perhaps, Dick Cheney or Karl Rove, (it does sound a bit Rovian does it not?), hoping to shore up the fascist base and suck off quite a few Hillary voters chose Sarah. Sarah, who being a mom five times over, Governor, Christian and a little to the right of Darth Vader fit the bill for cementing the Rethuglicans and for getting this election close enough to steal again!

The lights are on in Sarah's beaming face but apparently there is no one at home, at least no one with a brain larger than a duck! Here's a person who may someday be thrust into the role of the most powerful person in the world with thousands and thousands of H-bombs at her finger tips, who thinks that the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are "god's" will. She also thinks destroying what little is left of a virgin Earth for a few buckets of goo which will no doubt be sold to Japan is another command from Jesus. She's also up for war with Russia if they were to do what we did in Afghanistan, Iraq or potentially with Iran. Do you want to be blown into tiny bits for a Russian incursion into Georgia or Poland, America? She is a product of hundreds of years of brain washing and could be the poster child for being a Sheeple. Who better to lead the Sheeple to the slaughter than one of their own, a "Judas goat" named Sarah?

Her family life is a joke from her pregnant daughter (so much for abstinence) to her husband who wanted to take Alaska out of the union and make it a separate country, which I believe is sedition (so much for patriotism), is it not? Of course, the MSM, which always has a field day if the merest hint of scandal is found near any Demoncrat, has changed its tune for Sarah. Which, they will no doubt continue doing when Sarah starts banning books, abortion, civil rights and talking in tongues.

If you want to avoid this madness, there is still time. If you think it's time for a women to be president? If you think it's time to elect a black person to be president? If you think it's time to elect a president who is for world peace, have I got a candidate for you, Cynthia McKinney! Vote Green, vote early, and vote often!

In Other News

I see where we're about to become a third world nation. Another trillion-dollar disaster for our corpo-rat masters as we continue to hemorrhage good money into the black hole that is the "Crime Family Bush." You owe the entire world more money than we'll make in a decade and with the constant drain of good paying jobs from this country to countries all over the world, you owe more than you'll make in your lifetime!

It's bad enough that we're considering a trillion-dollar bail out of these corpo-rat crooks but Phil Graham, who fronts for the Swiss banking group UBS, wants US Taxpayers to bail them out, too! You'll recall that Sin-ator who made the Enron debacles possible and most all of the current bank failures and who once said, "You've heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession," and "We have sort of become a nation of whiners, you just hear this constant whining, complaining about a loss of competitiveness, America in decline." No welfare for the poor and former middle class who have lost everything to these same crooks and thieves but Phil dares to ask for corpo-rat welfare. Tweety Bird often refers to Phil as a hypo-twit!

Speaking of market failure, if John McCain is elected president Phil Graham will most likely be his Secretary of the Treasury. This is the same bozo who is responsible for ending regulations and thus, created our current financial debacle and the kind of speculation in oil trading that pushed prices above $4 per gallon. This just in, apparently the State of North Carolina is out of gas! With Phil in charge of the exchequer, I fear you ain't seen nothing yet, folks!

Meanwhile Johnny is suspending his campaign to rush back to Washington to stop the vote on this latest $700,000,000,000.00 bailout as the people have spoken loud and clear that they don't want the expense of saving the mansions, yachts, private jets, islands and vast bank accounts of those corpo-rat goons who have made our lives a living hell. Of course, the Dems, who just started growing a backbone for the first time in 45 years, will soon cave in and your great great grandkids will spend their lives paying for these outrages! How does that make you feel, America?

And Finally

Monkey boy never gives up, does he? There was Bush on the tube warning us, once again, that the world would end unless we gave away the rest of the treasury, this time to corpo-rat Wall Street Typhoons, er Tycoons!

Bush warned if Con-gress doesn't do just as they are told, the country could face "a long and painful recession." I don't know where the Fuhrer has been but this country has been in a long and painful recession for years. It's that gaping maw of a depression that will make the 30's depression look like a "Swiss Picnic" by comparison that I fear.

One may wonder on what planet Bush and company have been for the last 5 or 6 years. In our new movie, W the Movie that question is never answered but that the Crime Family Bush came from outer space to rule the world is a gimmie. Wouldn't that explain a lot of things if it were true? Wouldn't it? Pity is, it's not true. Bush, like his daddy, is from New England and went to Harvard. He even got a Masters in Business Administration which goes to show what a MBA from Harvard is actually worth. The first president with a MBA will be the one that destroys America's economy. How's that for irony? I find it fitting that Capitalism will be brought to its knees by a fellow traveler!

Got your cave stocked with food and ammo yet? Got plenty of seeds and fertilizer? Have a sustainable source of power? A private source of water, fuel and something to barter with? Got vitamins and a bottle or two of Potassium Iodate (KI03)? K103 will shield (or block) the thyroid and prevent it from absorbing radioactive iodine during a nuclear emergency. Got your electronic equipment shielded from an EMP? Etc. etc. etc.! It's about to hit the fan folks. Don't forget to duck and cover!


We'd like to thank Nikki for her donation this week, we're slowly beginning to close in on our goal to keep fighting for yet another year.

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.

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Ernest & Victoria Stewart


10-01-1915 ~ 09-12-2008
Thanks for everything!

07-28-1943 ~ 09-15-2008
Careful With That Axe, Eugene!


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: http://wthemovie.com. Both trailers are on site and may be downloaded; the new trailer can be seen with Flash on site. You can download in either PC or Mac formats. I'm in the new trailer as myself but don't blink or you'll miss me! The trailers are also available on YouTube along with a short scene from the film.


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


So how do you like the 2nd coup d'etat so far?
And more importantly, what are you planning on doing about it?

Until the next time, Peace!
(c) 2008 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for the last 7 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."

Humanitarian Imperialism
The New Doctrine of Imperial Right
By Noam Chomsky

Jean Bricmont's concept "humanitarian imperialism" succinctly captures a dilemma that has faced Western leaders and the Western intellectual community since the collapse of the Soviet Union. From the origins of the Cold War, there was a reflexive justification for every resort to force and terror, subversion and economic strangulation: the acts were undertaken in defense against what John F. Kennedy called "the monolithic and ruthless conspiracy" based in the Kremlin (or sometimes in Beijing), a force of unmitigated evil dedicated to extending its brutal sway over the entire world. The formula covered just about every imaginable case of intervention, no matter what the facts might be. But with the Soviet Union gone, either the policies would have to change, or new justifications would have to be devised. It became clear very quickly which course would be followed, casting new light on what had come before, and on the institutional basis of policy.

The end of the Cold War unleashed an impressive flow of rhetoric assuring the world that the West would now be free to pursue its traditional dedication to freedom, democracy, justice, and human rights unhampered by superpower rivalry, though there were some-called "realists" in international relations theory-who warned that in "granting idealism a near exclusive hold on our foreign policy," we may be going too far and might harm our interests. Such notions as "humanitarian intervention" and "the responsibility to protect" soon came to be salient features of Western discourse on policy, commonly described as establishing a "new norm" in international affairs.

The millennium ended with an extraordinary display of self-congratulation on the part of Western intellectuals, awe-struck at the sight of the "idealistic new world bent on ending inhumanity," which had entered a "noble phase" in its foreign policy with a "saintly glow" as for the first time in history a state is dedicated to "principles and values," acting from "altruism" and "moral fervor" alone as the leader of the "enlightened states," hence free to use force where its leaders "believe it to be just"-only a small sample of a deluge from respected liberal voices.

Several questions immediately come to mind. First, how does the self-image conform to the historical record prior to the end of the Cold War? If it does not, then what reason would there be to expect a sudden dedication to "granting idealism a near exclusive hold on our foreign policy," or any hold at all? And how in fact did policies change with the superpower enemy gone? A prior question is whether such considerations should even arise.

There are two views about the significance of the historical record. The attitude of those who celebrate the "emerging norms" is expressed clearly by one of their most distinguished scholar/advocates, international relations professor Thomas Weiss: critical examination of the record, he writes, is nothing more than "sound-bites and invectives about Washington's historically evil foreign policy," hence "easy to ignore."

A conflicting stance is that policy decisions substantially flow from institutional structures, and since these remain stable, examination of the record provides valuable insight into the "emerging norms" and the contemporary world. That is the stance that Bricmont adopts in his study of "the ideology of human rights," and that I will adopt here.

There is no space for a review of the record, but just to illustrate, let us keep to the Kennedy administration, the left-liberal extreme of the political spectrum, with an unusually large component of liberal intellectuals in policy-making positions. During these years, the standard formula was invoked to justify the invasion of South Vietnam in 1962, laying the basis for one of the great crimes of the twentieth century.

By then the U.S.-imposed client regime could no longer control the indigenous resistance evoked by massive state terror, which had killed tens of thousands of people. Kennedy therefore sent the U.S. Air Force to begin regular bombing of South Vietnam, authorized napalm and chemical warfare to destroy crops and ground cover, and initiated the programs that drove millions of South Vietnamese peasants to urban slums or to camps where they were surrounded by barbed wire to "protect" them from the South Vietnamese resistance forces that they were supporting, as Washington knew. All in defense against the two Great Satans, Russia and China, or the "Sino-Soviet axis."

In the traditional domains of U.S. power, the same formula led to Kennedy's shift of the mission of the Latin American military from "hemispheric defense"-a holdover from the Second World War-to "internal security." The consequences were immediate. In the words of Charles Maechling-who led U.S. counterinsurgency and internal defense planning through the Kennedy and early Johnson years-U.S. policy shifted from toleration "of the rapacity and cruelty of the Latin American military" to "direct complicity" in their crimes, to U.S. support for "the methods of Heinrich Himmler's extermination squads."

One critical case was the Kennedy administration's preparation of the military coup in Brazil to overthrow the mildly social democratic Goulart government. The planned coup took place shortly after Kennedy's assassination, establishing the first of a series of vicious National Security States and setting off a plague of repression throughout the continent that lasted through Reagan's terrorist wars that devastated Central America in the 1980s. With the same justification, Kennedy's 1962 military mission to Colombia advised the government to resort to "paramilitary, sabotage and/or terrorist activities against known communist proponents," actions that "should be backed by the United States." In the Latin American context, the phrase "known communist proponents" referred to labor leaders, priests organizing peasants, human rights activists, in fact anyone committed to social change in violent and repressive societies.

These principles were quickly incorporated into the training and practices of the military. The respected president of the Colombian Permanent Committee for Human Rights, former Minister of Foreign Affairs Alfredo Vásquez Carrizosa, wrote that the Kennedy administration "took great pains to transform our regular armies into counterinsurgency brigades, accepting the new strategy of the death squads," ushering in what is known in Latin America as the National Security Doctrine,...not defense against an external enemy, but a way to make the military establishment the masters of the game [with] the right to combat the internal enemy, as set forth in the Brazilian doctrine, the Argentine doctrine, the Uruguayan doctrine, and the Colombian doctrine: it is the right to fight and to exterminate social workers, trade unionists, men and women who are not supportive of the establishment, and who are assumed to be communist extremists. And this could mean anyone, including human rights activists such as myself.

In 2002, an Amnesty International mission to protect human rights defenders worldwide began with a visit to Colombia, chosen because of its extreme record of state-backed violence against these courageous activists, as well as labor leaders, more of whom were killed in Colombia than in the rest of the world combined, not to speak of campesinos, indigenous people, and Afro-Colombians, the most tragic victims. As a member of the delegation, I was able to meet with a group of human rights activists in Vásquez Carrizosa's heavily guarded home in Bogotá, hearing their painful reports and later taking testimonials in the field, a shattering experience.

The same formula sufficed for the campaign of subversion and violence that placed newly independent Guyana under the rule of the cruel dictator Forbes Burnham. It was also invoked to justify Kennedy's campaigns against Cuba after the failed Bay of Pigs invasion. In his biography of Robert Kennedy, the eminent liberal historian and Kennedy advisor Arthur Schlesinger writes that the task of bringing "the terrors of the earth" to Cuba was assigned by the president to his brother, Robert Kennedy, who took it as his highest priority. The terrorist campaign continued at least through the 1990s, though in later years the U.S. government did not carry out the terrorist operations itself but only provided support for them and a haven for terrorists and their commanders, among them the notorious Orlando Bosch and joining him recently, Luis Posada Carilles. Commentators have been polite enough not to remind us of the Bush Doctrine: "those who harbor terrorists are as guilty as the terrorists themselves" and must be treated accordingly, by bombing and invasion; a doctrine that has "unilaterally revoked the sovereignty of states that provide sanctuary to terrorists," Harvard international affairs specialist Graham Allison observes, and has "already become a de facto rule of international relations"-with the usual exceptions.

Internal documents of the Kennedy-Johnson years reveal that a leading concern in the case of Cuba was its "successful defiance" of U.S. policies tracing back to the Monroe Doctrine of 1823, which declared (but could not yet implement) U.S. control over the hemisphere. It was feared that Cuba's "successful defiance," particularly if accompanied by successful independent development, might encourage others suffering from comparable conditions to pursue a similar path, the rational version of the domino theory that is a persistent feature of policy formation. For that reason, the documentary record reveals, it was necessary to punish the civilian population severely until they overthrew the offending government.

This is a bare sample of a few years of intervention under the most liberal U.S. administration, justified to the public in defensive terms. The broader record is much the same. With similar pretexts, the Russian dictatorship justified its harsh control of its Eastern European dungeon.

The reasons for intervention, subversion, terror, and repression are not obscure. They are summarized accurately by Patrice McSherry in the most careful scholarly study of Operation Condor, the international terrorist operation established with U.S. backing in Pinochet's Chile: "the Latin American militaries, normally acting with the support of the U.S. government, overthrew civilian governments and destroyed other centers of democratic power in their societies (parties, unions, universities, and constitutionalist sectors of the armed forces) precisely when the class orientation of the state was about to change or was in the process of change, shifting state power to non-elite social sectors...Preventing such transformations of the state was a key objective of Latin American elites, and U.S. officials considered it a vital national security interest as well."

It is easy to demonstrate that what are termed "national security interests" have only an incidental relation to the security of the nation, though they have a very close relation to the interests of dominant sectors within the imperial state, and to the general state interest of ensuring obedience.

The United States is an unusually open society. Hence there is no difficulty documenting the leading principles of global strategy since the Second World War. Even before the United States entered the war, high-level planners and analysts concluded that in the postwar world the United States should seek "to hold unquestioned power," acting to ensure the "limitation of any exercise of sovereignty" by states that might interfere with its global designs. They recognized further that "the foremost requirement" to secure these ends was "the rapid fulfillment of a program of complete rearmament," then as now a central component of "an integrated policy to achieve military and economic supremacy for the United States." At the time, these ambitions were limited to "the non-German world," which was to be organized under the U.S. aegis as a "Grand Area," including the Western hemisphere, the former British Empire, and the Far East. As Russia beat back the Nazi armies after Stalingrad, and it became increasingly clear that Germany would be defeated, the plans were extended to include as much of Eurasia as possible.

A more extreme version of the largely invariant grand strategy is that no challenge can be tolerated to the "power, position, and prestige of the United States," so the American Society of International Law was instructed by the prominent liberal statesman Dean Acheson, one of the main architects of the postwar world. He was speaking in 1963, shortly after the missile crisis brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. There are few basic changes in the guiding conceptions as we proceed to the Bush II doctrine, which elicited unusual mainstream protest, not because of its basic content, but because of its brazen style and arrogance, as was pointed out by Clinton's secretary of state Madeleine Albright, who was well aware of Clinton's similar doctrine.

The collapse of the "monolithic and ruthless conspiracy" led to a change of tactics, but not fundamental policy. That was clearly understood by policy analysts. Dimitri Simes, senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, observed that Gorbachev's initiatives would "liberate American foreign policy from the straightjacket imposed by superpower hostility." He identified three major components of "liberation." First, the United States would be able to shift NATO costs to its European competitors, one way to avert the traditional concern that Europe might seek an independent path. Second, the United States can end "the manipulation of America by third world nations." The manipulation of the rich by the undeserving poor has always been a serious problem, particularly acute with regard to Latin America, which in the preceding five years had transferred some $150 billion to the industrial West in addition to $100 billion of capital flight, amounting to twenty-five times the total value of the Alliance for Progress and fifteen times the Marshall Plan.

This huge hemorrhage is part of a complicated system whereby Western banks and Latin American elites enrich themselves at the expense of the general population of Latin America, who are then saddled with the "debt crisis" that results from these manipulations.

But thanks to Gorbachev's capitulation the United States can now resist "unwarranted third world demands for assistance" and take a stronger stand when confronting "defiant third world debtors."

The third and most significant component of "liberation," Times continues, is that the decline in the "Soviet threat...makes military power more useful as a United States foreign policy instrument...against those who contemplate challenging important American interests." America's hands will now be "untied" and Washington can benefit from "greater reliance on military force in a crisis."

The Bush I administration, then in office, at once made clear its understanding of the end of the Soviet threat. A few months after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the administration released a new National Security Strategy. On the domestic front, it called for strengthening "the defense industrial base," creating incentives "to invest in new facilities and equipment as well as in research and development." The phase "defense industrial base" is a euphemism referring to the high-tech economy, which relies crucially on the dynamic state sector to socialize cost and risk and eventually privatize profit-sometimes decades later, as in the case of computers and the Internet. The government understands well that the U.S. economy is remote from the free market model that is hailed in doctrine and imposed on those who are too weak to resist, a traditional theme of economic history, recently reviewed insightfully by international economist Ha-Joon Chang.

In the international domain, the Bush I National Security Strategy recognized that "the more likely demands for the use of our military forces may not involve the Soviet Union and may be in the Third World, where new capabilities and approaches may be required." The United States must concentrate attention on "lower-order threats like terrorism, subversion, insurgency, and drug trafficking [which] are menacing the United States, its citizenry, and its interests in new ways." "Forces will have to accommodate to the austere environment, immature basing structure, and significant ranges often encountered in the Third World." "Training and research and development" will have to be "better attuned to the needs of low-intensity conflict," crucially, counterinsurgency in the third world. With the Soviet Union gone from the scene, the world "has now evolved from a 'weapon rich environment' [Russia] to a 'target rich environment' [the South]." The United States will face "increasingly capable Third World Threats," military planners elaborated.

Consequently, the National Security Strategy explained, the United States must maintain a huge military system and the ability to project power quickly worldwide, with primary reliance on nuclear weapons, which, Clinton planners explained, "cast a shadow over any crisis or conflict" and permit free use of conventional forces. The reason is no longer the vanished Soviet threat, but rather "the growing technological sophistication of Third World conflicts." That is particularly true in the Middle East, where the "threats to our interests" that have required direct military engagement "could not be laid at the Kremlin's door," contrary to decades of pretense, no longer useful with the Soviet Union gone. In reality, the "threat to our interests" had always been indigenous nationalism. The fact was sometimes acknowledged, as when Robert Komer, the architect of President Carter's Rapid Deployment Force (later Central Command), aimed primarily at the Middle East, testified before Congress in 1980 that its most likely role was not to resist a (highly implausible) Soviet attack, but to deal with indigenous and regional unrest, in particular, the "radical nationalism" that has always been a primary concern, worldwide.

The term "radical" falls into the same category as "known Communist proponent." It does not mean radical. Rather, it means not under our control. Thus Iraq at the time was not radical. On the contrary, Saddam continued to be a favored friend and ally well after he had carried out his most horrendous atrocities (Halabja, al-Anfal, and others) and after the end of the war with Iran, for which he had received substantial support from the Reagan administration, among others. In keeping with these warm relations, in 1989 President Bush invited Iraqi nuclear engineers to the United States for advanced training in nuclear weapons development, and in early 1990, sent a high-level Senatorial delegation to Iraq to convey his personal greetings to his friend Saddam. The delegation was led by Senate majority leader Bob Dole, later Republican presidential candidate, and included other prominent Senators. They brought Bush's personal greetings, advised Saddam that he should disregard criticisms he might hear from some segments of the irresponsible American press, and assured him that the government would do what it could to end these unfortunate practices.

A few months later Saddam invaded Kuwait, disregarding orders, or perhaps misunderstanding ambiguous signals from the State Department. That was a real crime, and he instantly switched from respected friend to evil incarnate.

It is instructive to consider the reaction to Saddam's invasion of Kuwait, both the rhetorical outrage and the military response, a devastating blow to Iraqi civilian society that left the tyranny firmly in place. The events and their interpretation reveal a good deal about the continuities of policy after the collapse of the Soviet Union and about the intellectual and moral culture that sustains policy decisions.

Saddam's invasion of Kuwait in August 1990 was the second case of post-Cold War aggression. The first was Bush's invasion of Panama a few weeks after the fall of the Berlin Wall, in November 1989. The Panama invasion was scarcely more than a footnote to a long and sordid history, but it differed from earlier exercises in some respects.

A basic difference was explained by Elliott Abrams, then a high official responsible for Near East and North African Affairs, now charged with "promoting democracy" under Bush II, particularly in the Middle East. Echoing Simes, Abrams observed that "developments in Moscow have lessened the prospect for a small operation to escalate into a superpower conflict." The resort to force, as in Panama, was more feasible than before, thanks to the disappearance of the Soviet deterrent. Similar reasoning applied to the reaction to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. With the Soviet deterrent in place, the United States and Britain would have been unlikely to risk placing huge forces in the desert and carrying out the military operations in the manner they did.

The goal of the Panama invasion was to kidnap Manuel Noriega, a petty thug who was brought to Florida and sentenced for narcotrafficking and other crimes that were mostly committed when he was on the CIA payroll. But he had become disobedient-for example, failing to support Washington's terrorist war against Nicaragua with sufficient enthusiasm-so he had to go. The Soviet threat could no longer be invoked in the standard fashion, so the action was depicted as defense of the United States from Hispanic narcotrafficking, which was overwhelmingly in the domain of Washington's Colombian allies. While presiding over the invasion, President Bush announced new loans to Iraq to achieve the "goal of increasing U.S. exports and put us in a better position to deal with Iraq regarding its human rights record"-so the State Department replied to the few inquiries from Congress, apparently without irony. The media wisely chose silence.

Victorious aggressors do not investigate their crimes, so the toll of Bush's Panama invasion is not known with any precision. It appears, however, that it was considerably more deadly than Saddam's invasion of Kuwait a few months later. According to Panamanian human rights groups, the U.S. bombing of the El Chorillo slums and other civilian targets killed several thousand poor people, far more than the estimated toll of the invasion of Kuwait. The matter is of no interest in the West, but Panamanians have not forgotten. In December 2007, Panama once again declared a Day of Mourning to commemorate the U.S. invasion; it scarcely merited a flicker of an eyelid in the United States.

Also gone from history is the fact that Washington's greatest fear when Saddam invaded Kuwait was that he would imitate the U.S. invasion of Panama. Colin Powell, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned that Saddam "will withdraw, [putting] his puppet in. Everyone in the Arab world will be happy." In contrast, when Washington partially withdrew from Panama after putting its puppet in, Latin Americans were far from happy.

The invasion aroused great anger throughout the region, so much so that the new regime was expelled from the Group of Eight Latin American democracies as a country under military occupation. Washington was well aware, Latin American scholar Stephen Ropp observed, "that removing the mantle of United States protection would quickly result in a civilian or military overthrow of Endara and his supporters"-that is, the regime of bankers, businessmen, and narcotraffickers installed by Bush's invasion.

Even that government's own Human Rights Commission charged four years later that the right to self-determination and sovereignty of the Panamanian people continues to be violated by the "state of occupation by a foreign army." Fear that Saddam would mimic the invasion of Panama appears to be the main reason why Washington blocked diplomacy and insisted on war, with almost complete media cooperation-and, as is often the case, in violation of public opinion, which on the eve of the invasion, overwhelmingly supported a regional conference to settle the confrontation along with other outstanding Middle East issues. That was essentially Saddam's proposal at the time, though only those who read fringe dissident publications or conducted their own research projects could have been aware of that.

Washington's concern for human rights in Iraq was dramatically revealed, once again, shortly after the invasion, when Bush authorized Saddam to crush a Shi'ite rebellion in the South that would probably have overthrown him. Official reasoning was outlined by Thomas Friedman, then chief diplomatic correspondent of the New York Times. Washington hoped for "the best of all worlds," Friedman explained: "an iron-fisted Iraqi junta without Saddam Hussein" that would restore the status quo ante when Saddam's "iron fist...held Iraq together, much to the satisfaction of the American allies Turkey and Saudi Arabia"-and, of course, the boss in Washington. But this happy outcome proved unfeasible, so the masters of the region had to settle for second best: the same "iron fist" they had been fortifying all along. Veteran Times Middle East correspondent Alan Cowell added that the rebels failed because "very few people outside Iraq wanted them to win": The United States and "its Arab coalition partners" came to "a strikingly unanimous view [that] whatever the sins of the Iraqi leader, he offered the West and the region a better hope for his country's stability than did those who have suffered his repression."

The term "stability" is used here in its standard technical meaning: subordination to Washington's will. There is no contradiction, for example, when liberal commentator James Chace, former editor of Foreign Affairs, explains that the United States sought to "destabilize a freely elected Marxist government in Chile" because "we were determined to seek stability" (under the Pinochet dictatorship).

With the Soviet pretext gone, the record of criminal intervention continued much as before. One useful index is military aid. As is well known in scholarship, U.S. aid "has tended to flow disproportionately to Latin American governments which torture their citizens,...to the hemisphere's relatively egregious violators of fundamental human rights." That includes military aid, is independent of need, and runs through the Carter period. More wide-ranging studies by economist Edward Herman found a similar correlation worldwide, also suggesting a plausible explanation. He found that aid, not surprisingly, is correlated with improvement in the investment climate.

Such improvement is often achieved by murdering priests and union leaders, massacring peasants trying to organize, blowing up the independent press, and so on. The result is a secondary correlation between aid and egregious violation of human rights. It would be wrong, then, to conclude that U.S. leaders (like their counterparts elsewhere) prefer torture; rather, it has little weight in comparison with more important values. These studies precede the Reagan years, when the questions were not worth posing because the correlations were so overwhelmingly obvious.

The pattern continued after the Cold War. Outside of Israel and Egypt, a separate category, the leading recipient of U.S. aid as the Cold War ended was El Salvador, which, along with Guatemala, was the site of the most extreme terrorist violence of the horrifying Reagan years in Central America, almost entirely attributable to the state terrorist forces armed and trained by Washington, as subsequent Truth Commissions documented. Washington was barred by Congress from providing aid directly to the Guatemalan murderers. They were effusively lauded by Reagan, but he had to turn to an international terror network of proxy states to fill the gap. In El Salvador, however, the United States could carry out the terrorist war unhampered by such annoyances.

One prime target was the Catholic Church, which had committed a grave sin: it began to take the Gospels seriously and adopted "the preferential option for the poor." It therefore had to be destroyed by U.S.-backed violence, with strong Vatican support. The decade opened with the 1980 assassination of Archbishop Romero while saying mass, a few days after he had sent a letter to President Carter pleading with him to cut off aid to the murderous junta, aid that "will surely increase injustice here and sharpen the repression that has been unleashed against the people's organizations fighting to defend their most fundamental human rights."

Aid soon flowed, paving the way for "a war of extermination and genocide against a defenseless civilian population," as the aftermath was described by Archbishop Romero's successor. The decade ended when the elite Atlacatl Brigade, armed and trained by Washington, blew out the brains of six leading Latin American intellectuals, Jesuit priests, after compiling a bloody record of the usual victims. None of this enters elite Western consciousness, by virtue of "wrong agency."

By the time Clinton took over, a political settlement had been reached in El Salvador, so it lost its position as leading recipient of U.S. military aid. It was replaced by Turkey, then conducting some of the worst atrocities of the 1990s, targeting its harshly oppressed Kurdish population. Tens of thousands were killed, 3,500 towns and villages were destroyed, huge numbers of refugees fled (three million, according to analyses by Kurdish human rights organizations), large areas were laid waste, dissidents were imprisoned, hideous torture and other atrocities were standard fare. Clinton provided 80 percent of the needed arms, including high-tech equipment used for savage crimes. In the single year 1997, Clinton sent more military aid to Turkey than in the entire Cold War period combined before the counterinsurgency campaign began. Media and commentary remained silent, with the rarest of exceptions.

By 1999, state terror had largely achieved its goals, so Turkey was replaced as leading recipient of military aid by Colombia, which had by far the worst human rights record in the hemisphere, as the programs of coordinated state-paramilitary terror inaugurated by Kennedy took a shocking toll.

Meanwhile other major atrocities continued to receive full support. One of the most extreme was the sanctions against Iraqi civilians after the large-scale demolition of Iraq in the bombing of 1991, which also destroyed power stations and sewage and water facilities, effectively a form of biological warfare. The horrific impact of the U.S.-UK sanctions, formally implemented by the UN, aroused so much public concern that in 1996 a humane modification was introduced: the "oil for food" program, which permitted Iraq to use profits from oil exports for the needs of its suffering people.

The first director of the program, the distinguished international diplomat Denis Halliday, resigned in protest after two years, declaring the program to be "genocidal." He was replaced by another distinguished international diplomat, Hans von Sponeck, who resigned two years later, charging that the program violated the Genocide Convention. Von Sponeck's resignation was followed immediately by that of Jutta Burghardt, in charge of the UN Food Program, who joined the declaration of protest by Halliday and von Sponeck.

To mention only one figure, "During the years when the sanctions were imposed, from 1990 to 2003, there was a sharp increase in mortality from 56 per thousand children under five years of age in the early 1990s to 131 per thousand under five years of age at the beginning of the new century," and "everyone can easily understand that this was due to the economic sanctions" (von Sponeck). Massacres of that scale are rare, and to acknowledge this one would be doctrinally difficult. Accordingly, great efforts were made to shift the blame to UN incompetence, "the largest fraud ever recorded in history" (Wall Street Journal). The fraudulent "fraud" was quickly exposed; it turned out that Washington and U.S. business were the major culprits. But the charges were too valuable to be allowed to vanish.

Halliday and von Sponeck had numerous investigators all over Iraq, which enabled them to know more about the country than any other Westerners. They were barred from the U.S. media during the buildup to the war. The Clinton administration also prevented von Sponeck from informing the UN Security Council, which was technically responsible, about the effects of the sanctions on the population. "This man in Baghdad is paid to work, not to speak," State Department spokesman James Rubin explained. U.S.-UK media evidently agree. Von Sponeck's carefully documented account of the impact of the U.S.-UK sanctions was published in 2006, to resounding silence.

The sanctions devastated the civilian society, killing hundreds of thousands of people while strengthening the tyrant, compelling the population to rely on him for survival, and probably saving him from the fate of other mass murderers and torturers who were supported to the end of their bloody rule by the United States, the United Kingdom, and their allies: Ceau?escu, Suharto, Mobutu, Marcos, and a rogues gallery of others, to which new names are regularly added. The studied refusal to give Iraqis an opportunity to take their fate into their own hands by releasing the stranglehold of the sanctions, as Halliday and von Sponeck recommended, eliminates whatever thin shred of justification for the invasion may be concocted by apologists for state violence.

Also continuing without change through the 1990s was strong U.S.-UK support for General Suharto of Indonesia-"our kind of guy," the Clinton administration happily announced when he was welcomed in Washington. Suharto had been a particular favorite of the West ever since he took power in 1965, presiding over a "staggering mass slaughter" that was "a gleam of light in Asia," the New York Times reported, while praising Washington for keeping its crucial role hidden so as not to embarrass the "Indonesian moderates" who took over.

The general reaction in the West was unconcealed euphoria after the mass slaughter, which the CIA compared to the crimes of Hitler, Stalin, and Mao. Suharto opened the country's wealth to Western exploitation, compiled one of the worst human rights records in the world, and also won the world record for corruption, far surpassing Mobutu and other Western favorites. On the side, he invaded the former Portuguese colony of East Timor in 1975, carrying out one of the worst crimes of the late twentieth century, leaving perhaps one-quarter of the population dead and the country ravaged.

From the first moment, he benefitted from decisive U.S. diplomatic and military support, joined by Britain as atrocities peaked in 1978, while other Western powers also sought to gain what they could by backing virtual genocide in East Timor. The U.S.-UK flow of arms and training of the most vicious counterinsurgency units continued without change through 1999 as Indonesian atrocities escalated once again, far beyond anything in Kosovo at the same time before the NATO bombing. Australia, which had the most detailed information on the atrocities, also participated actively in training the most murderous elite units.

In April 1999, there was a series of particularly brutal massacres, as in Liquica, where at least sixty people were murdered when they took refuge in a church. The United States reacted at once. Admiral Dennis Blair, U.S. Pacific commander, met with Indonesian army chief General Wiranto, who supervised the atrocities, assuring him of U.S. support and assistance and proposing a new U.S. training mission, one of several such contacts at the time. Highly credible church sources estimated that 3,000-5,000 were murdered from February through July.

In August 1999, in a UN-run referendum, the population voted overwhelmingly for independence, a remarkable act of courage. The Indonesian army and its paramilitary associates reacted by destroying the capital city of Dili and driving hundreds of thousands of the survivors into the hills. The United States and Britain were unimpressed. Washington lauded "the value of the years of training given to Indonesia's future military leaders in the United States and the millions of dollars in military aid for Indonesia," the press reported, urging more of the same for Indonesia and throughout the world. A senior diplomat in Jakarta explained succinctly that "Indonesia matters and East Timor doesn't." While the remnants of Dili were smoldering and the expelled population were starving in the hills, Defense Secretary William Cohen, on September 9, reiterated the official U.S. position that occupied East Timor "is the responsibility of the Government of Indonesia, and we don't want to take that responsibility away from them."

A few days later, under intense international and domestic pressure (much of it from influential right-wing Catholics), Clinton quietly informed the Indonesian generals that the game was over, and they instantly withdrew, allowing an Australian-led UN peace-keeping force to enter the country unopposed. The lesson is crystal clear. To end the aggression and virtual genocide of the preceding quarter-century there was no need to bomb Jakarta, to impose sanctions, or in fact to do anything except to stop participating actively in the crimes. The lesson, however, cannot be drawn, for evident doctrinal reasons. Amazingly, the events have been reconstructed as a remarkable success of humanitarian intervention in September 1999, evidence of the enthralling "emerging norms" inaugurated by the "enlightened states." One can only wonder whether a totalitarian state could achieve anything comparable.

The British record was even more grotesque. The Labor government continued to deliver Hawk jets to Indonesia as late as September 23, 1999, two weeks after the European Union had imposed an embargo, three days after the Australian peace-keeping force had landed, well after it had been revealed that these aircraft had been deployed over East Timor once again, this time as part of the pre-referendum intimidation operation. Under New Labour, Britain became the leading supplier of arms to Indonesia, over the strong protests of Amnesty International, Indonesian dissidents, and Timorese victims. The reasons were explained by Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, the author of the new "ethical foreign policy."

The arms shipments were appropriate because "the government is committed to the maintenance of a strong defence industry, which is a strategic part of our industrial base," as in the United States and elsewhere. For similar reasons, Prime Minister Tony Blair later approved the sale of spare parts to Zimbabwe for British Hawk fighter jets being used by Mugabe in a civil war that cost tens of thousands of lives. Nonetheless, the new ethical policy was an improvement over Thatcher, whose defense procurement minister Alan Clark had announced that "My responsibility is to my own people. I don't really fill my mind much with what one set of foreigners is doing to another."

It is against this background, barely sampled here, that the chorus of admired Western intellectuals praised themselves and their "enlightened states" for opening an inspiring new era of humanitarian intervention, guided by the "responsibility to protect," now solely dedicated to "principles and values," acting from "altruism" and "moral fervor" alone under the leadership of the "idealistic new world bent on ending inhumanity," now in a "noble phase" of its foreign policy with a "saintly glow."

The chorus of self-adulation also devised a new literary genre, castigating the West for its failure to respond adequately to the crimes of others (while scrupulously avoiding any reference to its own crimes). It was lauded as courageous and daring. Few allowed themselves to perceive that comparable work would have been warmly welcomed in the Kremlin, pre-Perestroika.

The most prominent example was the lavishly praised Pulitzer Prize-winning work "A Problem from Hell": America and the Age of Genocide, by Samantha Power, of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Kennedy School at Harvard University. It is unfair to say that Power avoids all U.S. crimes. A scattering are casually mentioned, but explained away as derivative of other concerns.

Power does bring up one clear case: East Timor, where, she writes, Washington "looked away"-namely, by authorizing the invasion; immediately providing Indonesia with new counterinsurgency equipment; rendering the UN "utterly ineffective" in any effort to stop the aggression and slaughter, as UN ambassador Daniel Patrick Moynihan proudly recalled in his memoir of his UN service; and then continuing to provide decisive diplomatic and military support for the next quarter-century, in the manner briefly indicated.

Summarizing, after the fall of the Soviet Union, policies continued with little more than tactical modification. But new pretexts were needed. The new norm of humanitarian intervention fit the requirements very well. It was only necessary to put aside the shameful record of earlier crimes as somehow irrelevant to the understanding of societies and cultures that had scarcely changed, and to disguise the fact that these crimes continued much as before. This is a difficulty that arises frequently, even if not as dramatically as it did after the collapse of the routine pretext for crimes. The standard reaction is to abide by a maxim of Tacitus: "Crime once exposed has no refuge but audacity." One does not deny the crimes of past and present; it would be a grave error to open that door. Rather, the past must be effaced and the present ignored as we march on to a glorious new future. That is, regrettably, a fair rendition of leading features of the intellectual culture in the post-Soviet era.

Nevertheless, it was imperative to find, or least to contrive, a few examples to illustrate the new magnificence. Some of the choices were truly astonishing. One, regularly invoked, is the humanitarian intervention of mid-September 1999 to rescue the East Timorese. The term "audacity" does not begin to capture this exercise, but it proceeded with little difficulty, testifying once again to what Hans Morgenthau, the founder of realist international relations theory, once called "our conformist subservience to those in power." There is no need to waste time on this achievement.

A few other examples were tried, also impressive in their audacity. One favorite was Clinton's military intervention in Haiti in 1995, which did in fact bring an end to the horrendous reign of terror that was unleashed when a military coup overthrew the first democratically elected president of Haiti, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, in 1991, a few months after he took office. To sustain the self-image, however, it has been necessary to suppress some inconvenient facts.

The Bush I administration devoted substantial effort to undermine the hated Aristide regime and prepare the grounds for the anticipated military coup. It then instantly turned to support for the military junta and its wealthy supporters, violating the OAS embargo-or as the New York Times preferred to describe the facts, "fine tuning" the embargo to exempt U.S. businesses, for the benefit of the Haitian people. Trade with the junta increased under Clinton, who also illegally authorized Texaco to supply oil to the junta. Texaco was a natural choice. It was Texaco that supplied oil to the Franco regime in the late 1930s, violating the embargo and U.S. law, while Washington pretended that it did not know what was being reported in the left press-later conceding quietly that it of course knew all along.

By 1995, Washington felt that the torture of Haitians had proceeded long enough, and Clinton sent the Marines in to topple the junta and restore the elected government-but on conditions that were sure to destroy what was left of the Haitian economy. The restored government was compelled to accept a harsh neoliberal program, with no barriers to U.S. export and investment. Haitian rice farmers are quite efficient, but cannot compete with highly subsidized U.S. agribusiness, leading to the anticipated collapse. One small successful business in Haiti produced chicken parts. But Americans do not like dark meat, so the huge U.S. conglomerates that produce chicken parts wanted to dump them on others. They tried Mexico and Canada, but those are functioning societies that could prevent the illegal dumping. Haiti had been compelled to be defenseless, so even that small industry was destroyed. The story continues, declining to still further ugliness, unnecessary to review here.

In brief, Haiti falls into the familiar pattern, a particularly disgraceful illustration in light of the way that Haitians have been tortured, first by France and then by the United States, in part in punishment for having dared to be the first free country of free men in the hemisphere.

Other attempts at self-justification fared no better, until, at last, Kosovo came to the rescue in 1999, opening the floodgates. The torrent of self-congratulatory rhetoric became an uncontrollable deluge.

The Kosovo case is, plainly, of great significance in sustaining the self-glorification that reached a crescendo at the end of the millennium, and in justifying the Western claim of a right of unilateral intervention. Not surprisingly, then, there is a strict Party Line on NATO's bombing of Kosovo.

The doctrine was articulated with eloquence by Vaclav Havel, as the bombing ended. The leading U.S. intellectual journal, the left-liberal New York Review of Books, turned to Havel for "a reasoned explanation" of why the NATO bombing must be supported, publishing his address to the Canadian Parliament, "Kosovo and the End of the Nation-State" (June 10, 1999). For Havel, the Review observed, "the war in Yugoslavia is a landmark in international relations: the first time that the human rights of a people-the Kosovo Albanians-have unequivocally come first." Havel's address opened by stressing the extraordinary significance and import of the Kosovo intervention.

It shows that we may at last be entering an era of true enlightenment that will witness "the end of the nation-state," which will no longer be "the culmination of every national community's history and its highest earthly value," as has always been true in the past. The "enlightened efforts of generations of democrats, the terrible experience of two world wars,...and the evolution of civilization have finally brought humanity to the recognition that human beings are more important than the state," so the Kosovo intervention reveals.

Havel's "reasoned explanation" of why the bombing was just reads as follows: "there is one thing that no reasonable person can deny: this is probably the first war that has not been waged in the name of 'national interests,' but rather in the name of principles and values... [NATO] is fighting out of concern for the fate of others. It is fighting because no decent person can stand by and watch the systematic state-directed murder of other people....The alliance has acted out of respect for human rights, as both conscience and legal documents dictate. This is an important precedent for the future. It has been clearly said that it is simply not permissible to murder people, to drive them from their homes, to torture them, and to confiscate their property."

Stirring words, though a few qualifications might be appropriate: to mention just one, it remains permissible, indeed obligatory, not only to tolerate such actions but to contribute massively to them, ensuring that they reach still greater peaks of fury-within NATO, for example-and of course to conduct them on one's own, when that is necessary.

Havel had been a particularly admired commentator on world affairs since 1990, when he addressed a joint session of Congress immediately after his fellow dissidents were brutally murdered in El Salvador (and the United States had invaded Panama, killing and destroying). He received a thunderous standing ovation for lauding the "defender of freedom" that had armed and trained the murderers of the six leading Jesuit intellectuals and tens of thousands of others, praising it for having "understood the responsibility that flowed"from power and urging it to continue to put "morality ahead of politics"-as it had done throughout Reagan's terrorist wars in Central America, in support for South Africa as it murdered some 1.5 million people in neighboring countries, and many other glorious deeds. The backbone of our actions must be "responsibility," Havel instructed Congress: "responsibility to something higher than my family, my country, my company, my success."

The performance was welcomed with rapture by liberal intellectuals. Capturing the general awe and acclaim, the editors of the Washington Post orated that Havel's praise for our nobility provided "stunning evidence" that his country is "a prime source" of "the European intellectual tradition" as his "voice of conscience" spoke "compellingly of the responsibilities that large and small powers owe each other." At the left-liberal extreme, Anthony Lewis wrote that Havel's words remind us that "we live in a romantic age." A decade later, still at the outer limits of dissidence, Lewis was moved and persuaded by the argument that Havel had "eloquently stated" on the bombing of Serbia, which he thought eliminated all residual doubts about Washington's cause and signaled a "landmark in international relations."

The Party Line has been guarded with vigilance. To cite a few current examples, on the occasion of Kosovo's independence the Wall Street Journal wrote that Serbian police and troops were "driven from the province by the U.S.-led aerial bombing campaign of [1999], designed to halt dictator Slobodan Milo_evi?'s brutal attempt to drive out the province's ethnic Albanian majority" (February 25, 2008). Francis Fukuyama urged in the New York Times (February 17, 2008) that "in the wake of the Iraq debacle," we must not forget the important lesson of the 1990s "that strong countries like the United States should use their power to defend human rights or promote democracy": crucial evidence is that "ethnic cleansing against the Albanians in Kosovo was stopped only through NATO bombing of Serbia itself."

The editors of the liberal New Republic wrote that Milo_evi? "set out to pacify [Kosovo] using his favored tools: mass expulsion, systematic rape, and murder," but fortunately the West would not tolerate the crime "and so, in March 1999, NATO began a bombing campaign" to end the "slaughter and sadism." The "nightmare has a happy ending for one simple reason: because the West used its military might to save them" (March 12, 2008). The editors added that "You would need to have the heart of a Kremlin functionary to be unmoved by the scene that unfolded in Kosovo's capital Pristina," celebrating "a fitting and just epilogue to the last mass crime of the twentieth century." In less exalted but conventional terms, Samantha Power writes that "Serbia's atrocities had of course provoked NATO action."

Citing examples is misleading, because the doctrine is held with virtual unanimity, and considerable passion, or perhaps "desperation" would be a more appropriate word. The reference to "Kremlin functionaries" by the editors of the New Republic is appropriate in ways they did not intend. The rare efforts to adduce the uncontroversial and well-documented record elicit impressive tantrums, when they are not simply ignored.

The record is unusually rich, and the facts presented in impeccable Western sources are explicit, consistent, and extensively documented. The sources include two major State Department compilations released to justify the bombing and a rich array of documents from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), NATO, the UN, and others. They also include a British parliamentary inquiry. And, notably, the very instructive reports of the monitors of the OSCE Kosovo Verification Mission established at the time of the October cease-fire negotiated by U.S. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke. The monitors reported regularly on the ground from a few weeks later until March 19, when they were withdrawn (over Serbian objections) in preparation for the March 24 bombing.

The documentary record is treated with what anthropologists call "ritual avoidance." And there is a good reason. The evidence, which is unequivocal, leaves the Party Line in tatters. The standard claim that"Serbia's atrocities had of course provoked NATO action" directly reverses the unequivocal facts: NATO's action provoked Serbia's atrocities, exactly as anticipated.

Western documentation reveals that Kosovo was an ugly place prior to the bombing-though not, unfortunately, by international standards. Some 2,000 are reported to have been killed in the year before the NATO bombing. Atrocities were distributed between the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) guerrillas attacking from Albania and Federal Republic of Yugoslav (FRY) security forces. An OSCE report accurately summarizes the record: The "cycle of confrontation can be generally described" as KLA attacks on Serb police and civilians, "a disproportionate response by the FRY authorities," and "renewed KLA activity."

The British government, the most hawkish element in the alliance, attributes most of the atrocities in the relevant period to the KLA, which in 1998 had been condemned by the United States as a "terrorist organization." On March 24, as the bombing began, British Defense Minister George Robertson, later NATO secretary-general, informed the House of Commons that until mid-January 1999, "the [Kosovo Liberation Army] were responsible for more deaths in Kosovo than the Serbian authorities had been." In citing Robertson's testimony in A New Generation Draws the Line, I wrote that he must be mistaken; given the distribution of force, the judgment was simply not credible. The British parliamentary inquiry, however, reveals that his judgment was confirmed by Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, who told the House on January 18, 1999, that the KLA "has committed more breaches of the ceasefire, and until this weekend was responsible for more deaths than the [Yugoslav] security forces."

Robertson and Cook are referring to the Racak massacre of January 15, in which 45 people were reported killed. Western documentation reveals no notable change in pattern from the Racak massacre until the withdrawal of the Kosovo Verification Mission monitors on March 19. So even factoring that massacre in (and overlooking questions about what happened), the conclusions of Robertson and Cook, if generally valid in mid-January, remained so until the announcement of the NATO bombing. One of the few serious scholarly studies even to consider these matters, a careful and judicious study by Nicholas Wheeler, estimates that Serbs were responsible for 500 of the 2,000 reported killed in the year before the bombing. For comparison, Robert Hayden, a specialist on the Balkans who is director of the Center for Russian and East European Studies of the University of Pittsburgh, observes that "the casualties among Serb civilians in the first three weeks of the war are higher than all of the casualties on both sides in Kosovo in the three months that led up to this war, and yet those three months were supposed to be a humanitarian catastrophe."

U.S. intelligence reported that the KLA "intended to draw NATO into its fight for independence by provoking Serb atrocities." The KLA was arming and "taking very provocative steps in an effort to draw the west into the crisis," hoping for a brutal Serb reaction, Holbrooke commented. KLA leader Hashim Thaci, now prime minister of Kosovo, informed BBC investigators that when the KLA killed Serb policemen, "We knew we were endangering civilian lives, too, a great number of lives," but the predictable Serb revenge made the actions worthwhile. The top KLA military commander, Agim Ceku, boasted that the KLA shared in the victory because "after all, the KLA brought NATO to Kosovo" by carrying out attacks in order to elicit violent retaliation.

So matters continued until NATO initiated the bombing, knowing that it was "entirely predictable" that the FRY would respond on the ground with violence, General Wesley Clark informed the press; earlier he had informed the highest U.S. government officials that the bombing would lead to major crimes, and that NATO could do nothing to prevent them. The details conform to Clark's predictions. The press reported that "The Serbs began attacking Kosovo Liberation Army strongholds on March 19," when the monitors were withdrawn in preparation for the bombing, "but their attack kicked into high gear on March 24, the night NATO began bombing Yugoslavia." The number of internally displaced, which had declined, rose again to 200,000 after the monitors were withdrawn. Prior to the bombing, and for two days following its onset, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported no data on refugees. A week after the bombing began, the UNHCR began to tabulate the daily flow.

In brief, it was well understood by the NATO leadership that the bombing was not a response to the huge atrocities in Kosovo, but was their cause, exactly as anticipated. Furthermore, at the time the bombing was initiated, there were two diplomatic options on the table: the proposal of NATO, and the proposal of the FRY (suppressed in the West, virtually without exception). After 78 days of bombing, a compromise was reached between them, suggesting that a peaceful settlement might have been possible, avoiding the terrible crimes that were the anticipated reaction to the NATO bombing.

The Milo_evi? indictment for war crimes in Kosovo, issued during the NATO bombing, makes no pretense to the contrary. The indictment, based on U.S.-UK intelligence, keeps to crimes committed during the NATO bombing. There is only one exception: the Racak massacre in January. "Senior officials in the Clinton administration were revolted and outraged," Samantha Power writes, repeating the conventional story. It is hardly credible that Clinton officials were revolted or outraged, or even cared. Even putting aside their past support for far worse crimes, it suffices to consider their reaction to the massacres in East Timor shortly after, for example in Liquica, a far worse crime than Racak, which led the same Clinton officials to increase their participation in the ongoing slaughter.

Despite his conclusions on the distribution of killings, Wheeler supports the NATO bombing on the grounds that there would have been even worse atrocities had NATO not bombed. The argument is that by bombing with the anticipation that it would lead to atrocities, NATO was preventing atrocities. The fact that these are the strongest arguments that can be contrived by serious analysts tells us a good deal about the decision to bomb, particularly when we recall that there were diplomatic options and that the agreement reached after the bombing was a compromise between them.

Some have tried to support this line of argument by appealing to Operation Horseshoe, an alleged Serbian plan to expel Kosovar Albanians. The plan was unknown to the NATO command, as General Clark attested, and is irrelevant on those grounds alone: the criminal resort to violence cannot be justified by something discovered afterwards. The plan was exposed as a probable intelligence forgery, but that is of no relevance either. It is almost certain Serbia had such contingency plans, just as other states, including the United States, have hair-raising contingency plans even for remote eventualities.

An even more astonishing effort to justify the NATO bombing is that the decision was taken under the shadow of Srebrenica and other atrocities of the early '90s. By that argument, it follows that NATO should have been calling for the bombing of Indonesia, the United States, and the United Kingdom, under the shadow of the vastly worse atrocities they had carried out in East Timor and were escalating again when the decision to bomb Serbia was taken-for the United States and United Kingdom, only a small part of their criminal record. A last desperate effort to grasp at some straw is that Europe could not tolerate the pre-bombing atrocities right near its borders-though NATO not only tolerated, but strongly supported far worse atrocities right within NATO in the same years, as already discussed.

Without running through the rest of the dismal record, it is hard to think of a case where the justification for the resort to criminal violence is so weak. But the pure justice and nobility of the actions has become a doctrine of religious faith, understandably: What else can justify the chorus of self-glorification that brought the millennium to an end? What else can be adduced to support the "emerging norms" that authorize the idealistic New World and its allies to use force where their leaders "believe it to be just?"

Some have speculated on the actual reasons for the NATO bombing. The highly regarded military historian Andrew Bacevich dismisses humanitarian claims and alleges that along with the Bosnia intervention, the bombing of Serbia was undertaken to ensure "the cohesion of NATO and the credibility of American power" and "to sustain American primacy" in Europe. Another respected analyst, Michael Lind, writes that "a major strategic goal of the Kosovo war was reassuring Germany so it would not develop a defense policy independent of the U.S.-dominated NATO alliance." Neither author presents any basis for the conclusions.

Evidence does exist however, from the highest level of the Clinton administration. Strobe Talbott, who was responsible for diplomacy during the war, wrote the foreword to a book on the war by his associate John Norris. Talbott writes that those who want to know "how events looked and felt at the time to those of us who were involved" in the war should turn to Norris's account, written with the "immediacy that can be provided only by someone who was an eyewitness to much of the action, who interviewed at length and in depth many of the participants while their memories were still fresh, and who has had access to much of the diplomatic record." Norris states that "it was Yugoslavia's resistance to the broader trends of political and economic reform-not the plight of Kosovar Albanians-that best explains NATO's war." That the motive for the NATO bombing could not have been "the plight of Kosovar Albanians" was already clear from the extensive Western documentary record. But it is interesting to hear from the highest level that the real reason for the bombing was that Yugoslavia was a lone holdout in Europe to the political and economic programs of the Clinton administration and its allies. Needless to say, this important revelation also is excluded from the canon.

Though the "new norm of humanitarian intervention" collapses on examination, there is at least one residue: the "responsibility to protect." Applauding the declaration of independence of Kosovo, liberal commentator Roger Cohen writes that "at a deeper level, the story of little Kosovo is the story of changing notions of sovereignty and the prising open of the world" (International Herald Tribune, February 20, 2008). The NATO bombing of Kosovo demonstrated that "human rights transcended narrow claims of state sovereignty" (quoting Thomas Weiss).

The achievement, Cohen continues, was ratified by the 2005 World Summit, which adopted the "responsibility to protect," known as R2P, which "formalized the notion that when a state proves unable or unwilling to protect its people, and crimes against humanity are perpetrated, the international community has an obligation to intervene-if necessary, and as a last resort, with military force." Accordingly, "an independent Kosovo, recognized by major Western powers, is in effect the first major fruit of the ideas behind R2P." Cohen concludes: "The prising open of the world is slow work, but from Kosovo to Cuba it continues." The NATO bombing is vindicated, and the "idealistic new world bent on ending inhumanity" really has reached a "noble phase" in its foreign policy with a "saintly glow." In the words of international law professor Michael Glennon, "The crisis in Kosovo illustrates...America's new willingness to do what it thinks right-international law notwithstanding," though a few years later international law was brought into accord with the stance of the "enlightened states" by adopting R2P.

Again, there is a slight problem: those annoying facts. The UN World Summit of September 2005 explicitly rejected the claim of the NATO powers that they have the right to use force in alleged protection of human rights. Quite the contrary, the Summit reaffirmed "that the relevant provisions of the Charter [which explicitly bar the NATO actions] are sufficient to address the full range of threats to international peace and security." The Summit also reaffirmed "the authority of the Security Council to mandate coercive action to maintain and restore international peace and security...acting in accordance with the purposes and principles of the Charter," and the role of the General Assembly in this regard "in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Charter." Without Security Council authorization, then, NATO has no more right to bomb Serbia than Saddam Hussein had to "liberate" Kuwait. The Summit granted no new "right of intervention" to individual states or regional alliances, whether under humanitarian or other professed grounds.

The Summit endorsed the conclusions of a December 2004 high-level UN Panel, which included many prominent Western figures. The Panel reiterated the principles of the Charter concerning the use of force: it can be lawfully deployed only when authorized by the Security Council, or under Article 51, in defense against armed attack until the Security Council acts. Any other resort to force is a war crime, in fact the "supreme international crime" encompassing all the evil that follows, in the words of the Nuremberg Tribunal. The Panel concluded that "Article 51 needs neither extension nor restriction of its long-understood scope,...it should be neither rewritten nor reinterpreted." Presumably with the Kosovo war in mind, the Panel added that "For those impatient with such a response, the answer must be that, in a world full of perceived potential threats, the risk to the global order and the norm of nonintervention on which it continues to be based is simply too great for the legality of unilateral preventive action, as distinct from collectively endorsed action, to be accepted. Allowing one to so act is to allow all." There could hardly be a more explicit rejection of the stand of the self-declared "enlightened states."

Both the Panel and the World Summit endorsed the position of the non-Western world, which had firmly rejected "the so-called 'right' of humanitarian intervention" in the Declaration of the South Summit in 2000, surely with the recent NATO bombing of Serbia in mind. This was the highest-level meeting ever held by the former non-aligned movement, accounting for 80 percent of the world's population. It was almost entirely ignored, and the rare and brief references to their conclusions about humanitarian intervention elicited near hysteria. Thus Cambridge University international relations lecturer Brendan Simms, writing in the Times Higher Education Supplement (May 25, 2001), was infuriated by such "bizarre and uncritical reverence for the pronouncements of the so-called 'South Summit G-77'-in Havana!-an improvident rabble in whose ranks murderers, torturers and robbers are conspicuously represented"-so different from the civilized folk who have been their benefactors for the past centuries and can scarcely control their fury when there is a brief allusion, without comment, to the perception of the world by the traditional victims, a perception since strongly endorsed by the high-level UN Panel and the UN World Summit in explicit contradiction to the self-serving pronouncements of apologists for Western resort to violence.

We might ask finally whether humanitarian intervention even exists. There is no shortage of evidence that it does. The evidence falls into two categories. The first is declarations of leaders. It is all too easy to demonstrate that virtually every resort to force is justified by elevated rhetoric about noble humanitarian intentions. Japanese counterinsurgency documents eloquently proclaim Japan's intention to create an "earthly paradise" in independent Manchukuo and North China, where Japan is selflessly sacrificing blood and treasure to defend the population from the "Chinese bandits" who terrorize them.

Since these are internal documents, we have no reason to doubt the sincerity of the mass murderers and torturers who produced them. Perhaps we may even entertain the possibility that Japanese emperor Hirohito was sincere in his surrender declaration in August 1945, when he told his people that "We declared war on America and Britain out of Our sincere desire to ensure Japan's self-preservation and the stabilization of East Asia, it being far from Our thought either to infringe upon the sovereignty of other nations or to embark upon territorial aggrandizement." Hitler's pronouncements were no less noble when he dismembered Czechoslovakia, and were accepted at face value by Western leaders. President Roosevelt's close confidant Sumner Welles informed him that the Munich settlement "presented the opportunity for the establishment by the nations of the world of a new world order based upon justice and upon law," in which the Nazi "moderates" would play a leading role. It would be hard to find an exception to professions of virtuous intent, even among the worst monsters.

The second category of evidence consists of military intervention that had benign effects, whatever its motives: not quite humanitarian intervention, but at least partially approaching it. Here too there are illustrations. The most significant ones by far during the post-Second World War era are in the 1970s: India's invasion of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), ending a huge massacre; and Vietnam's invasion of Cambodia in December 1978, driving out the Khmer Rouge just as their atrocities were peaking. But these two cases are excluded from the canon on principled grounds. The invasions were not carried out by the West, hence do not serve the cause of establishing the West's right to use force in violation of the UN Charter. Even more decisively, both interventions were vigorously opposed by the "idealistic new world bent on ending inhumanity." The United States sent an aircraft carrier to Indian waters to threaten the miscreants. Washington supported a Chinese invasion to punish Vietnam for the crime of ending Pol Pot's atrocities, and along with Britain, immediately turned to diplomatic and military support for the Khmer Rouge.

The State Department even explained to Congress why it was supporting both the remnants of the Pol Pot regime (Democratic Kampuchea) and the Indonesian aggressors who were engaged in crimes in East Timor that were comparable to Pol Pot's. The reason for this remarkable decision was that the "continuity" of Democratic Kampuchea with the Khmer Rouge regime "unquestionably" makes it "more representative of the Cambodian people than the Fretilin [the East Timorese resistance] is of the Timorese people." The explanation was not reported, and has been effaced from properly sanitized history.

Perhaps a few genuine cases of humanitarian intervention can be discovered. There is, however, good reason to take seriously the stand of the "improvident rabble," reaffirmed by the authentic international community at the highest level. The essential insight was articulated by the unanimous vote of the International Court of Justice in one of its earliest rulings, in 1949: "The Court can only regard the alleged right of intervention as the manifestation of a policy of force, such as has, in the past, given rise to most serious abuses and such as cannot, whatever be the defects in international organization, find a place in international law...; from the nature of things, [intervention] would be reserved for the most powerful states, and might easily lead to perverting the administration of justice itself." The judgment does not bar "the responsibility to protect," as long as it is interpreted in the manner of the South, the high-level UN Panel, and the UN World Summit.

Sixty years later, there is little reason to question the court's judgment. The UN system doubtless suffers from severe defects. The most critical defect is the overwhelming role of the leading violators of Security Council resolutions. The most effective way to violate them is to veto them, a privilege of the permanent members. Since the UN fell out of its control forty years ago the United States is far in the lead in vetoing resolutions on a wide range of issues, its British ally is second, and no one else is even close. Nevertheless, despite these and other serious defects of the UN system, the current world order offers no preferable alternative than to vest the "responsibility to protect" in the United Nations. In the real world, the only alternative, as Bricmont eloquently explains, is the "humanitarian imperialism" of the powerful states that claim the right to use force because they "believe it to be just," all too regularly and predictably "perverting the administration of justice itself."
(c) 2008 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.

Fly, Tzipora, Fly!
By Uri Avnery

THE POLLS were wrong, as usual. And in a big way. As usual.

Instead of winning by a huge margin, as predicted until the very last moment by all the polls, she just squeaked through. Of the 72 thousand or so registered Kadima members, only 39,331 troubled themselves to go to the polls, and among these she defeated Shaul Mofaz by just 431 votes.

But a majority is a majority. Tzipi Livni was duly installed as Kadima chairperson.

What does that say about the Israeli public?

FIRST OF ALL: this is the victory of a person without a military background over someone with almost nothing apart from a military background.

On the advice of his right-wing American political strategist, Stanley Greenberg, Mofaz emphasized the word "security" on every occasion, almost in every sentence. A popular talk-show turned this into a parody: Security, security, security, security.

Well, it did not work. T-h-e general, the chief of Staff, the Defense Minister, was beaten by a mere woman devoid of any military experience (even if she did serve for 15 years in the Mossad.)

That does not mean that Tzipi Livni may not turn out to be a warmonger, like Elisabeth I, Catherine the Great, Margaret Thatcher and Indira Gandhi. But fact is fact: the Kadima voters have preferred a non-general to a general.

MOREOVER, KADIMA is a party of the center. The very center of the center. Its members are not fervent about anything, neither on the right or the left, they have no strong convictions of any kind. So their decision can be regarded as a reflection of the general mood.

Mofaz presented himself not only as Mr. Security, but also as a genuine right-winger, a man who opposes both peace with Syria and peace with the Palestinians, a leader prepared to set up a coalition with the Right, even with the extreme Right. He was the declared exponent of open-ended-war.

Tzipi Livni presented herself as the personification of the peace effort, the woman who conducts the negotiations with the Palestinians, who prefers diplomacy to war, who points the way to the end of the conflict. All this may be sleight of hand, pure deceit. Perhaps there is no difference at all between the two. But even if this is so, that is not the most important aspect. The important fact is that the Kadima voters, the most representative group in the country, accorded victory - well, a tiny victory - to the candidate who at least pretended to favor peace.

In his "The Second Coming," the Irish poet W. B. Yeats describes utter chaos: "Things fall apart, the center cannot hold." The metaphor is taken from military history: in bygone days, armies drew up for battle with the main force in the center, and lighter forces defending the two flanks. As long as the center held, everything was fine.

In Israel today, the center is holding. The centrist party voted for the woman of the center.

It can also be described otherwise: in Israel, 2008, the forces are divided equally between the "Right" and the "Left,"and the "Left" won this time by the smallest possible margin.

I REMEMBER the elections nine years ago. In May 1999, Ehud Barak won a decisive victory over the incumbent, Binyamin Netanyahu: 56.08% against 43.92%, a difference of 388,546 votes. The public was just fed up with Netanyahu.

The response was overwhelming. The general feeling in the peace camp was of a release from servitude to freedom, from an era of failure and corruption into an era of peace and well-being. Without any proclamations, without anybody planning it, masses of people streamed into Tel-Aviv's Rabin Square, the place where a Prime Minister had been assassinated fours years earlier. I was among them.

In the square, the atmosphere was intoxicating. Delirious people danced, embraced each other, kissed. Tel Aviv had not seen anything like it since November 1947, when the United Nations General Assembly decided to establish a Jewish (and an Arab) state. I experienced a similar scene in April 1948, when I was part of the force that brought a huge relief convoy into beleaguered and starving West Jerusalem. A similar atmosphere was captured by film of Charles de Gaulle entering liberated Paris.

Barak promised to be a second Rabin, only more so. He promised to make peace with the Palestinians within months. A rosy future was warming the horizon, "the dawn of a new day."

A year and a half later, nothing of all this remained. Ehud Barak, the hero of peace, brought on us the greatest disaster in the annals of the struggle for peace. He came back from the Camp David conference, which had taken place on his express demand, with a declaration that was to become a mantra: "I have turned every stone on the way to peace / I have offered the Palestinians unprecedented generous terms / Arafat has rejected everything / We have no partner for peace."

With 20 Hebrew words Barak destroyed the peace camp and brought about a public mood which even Netanyahu could not create: that there is no chance for peace, that we are condemned to live with an everlasting conflict.

Therefore, no one got excited about Tzipi Livni's victory. The masses did not stream into the square, did not dance and did not embrace - and not only because this was just a party-internal election. The general reaction was a sigh of relief and a shrug of the shoulder. So Kadima has voted. So it has a new chairperson. So there will be a new Prime Minister. Let's wait and see.

SO WHAT to expect, after all?

There are already jokes circulating about "Tzipi and the Tzipiot" (a Hebrew word-play, "tzipiot" meaning expectations), a new rock-band which is about to take to the road. Nobody really knows what kind of a Prime Minister she will be. Strong or weak. Determined or open to pressures. Tough or compromising. Warmonger or peace-seeker.

One can only point at her background, as I hinted last week, and perhaps go into some detail.

On the eve of the elections, in one of those vapid questionnaires the media are so fond of, she was asked who was her hero. Her answer: Jabotinsky.

That was the most predictable answer there could be. Tzipi Livni grew up in a Revisionist household. She is a Revisionist, model 2008. What does that mean?

Her father, Eitan, who was born in Grodno (a town that has belonged variously to Lithuania, Poland, Russia and now Belarus), came to this country at the age of 6 and joined the Irgun underground in 1938 (the same year as I did), when he was 19 years old. He lived all his life under the influence of Ze'ev (Vladimir) Jabotinsky and his teachings.

Eitan Livni, as I knew him, was not a brilliant or exceptional person, but rather solid, loyal, as his name suggests. (In Hebrew, "eitan" means strong, steadfast). A person one could rely on. He served in the Irgun as an operational officer, and among other operations he took part in the daring break-out from Acre prison, where he was being held. As a Knesset member for the Herut Party, the predecessor of today's Likud, he was rather inconspicuous and supported Menachem Begin through thick and thin.

In order to understand Tzipi, one has to go back to Jabotinsky. His many enemies have often called him a Fascist, but that is inaccurate. He was born in the 19th century, and was a nationalist in the 19th century mold. Born in Odessa, he lived for some years as a young man in Italy, and his heroes were the leaders of contemporary Italian nationalism: the ideologue Giuseppe Mazzini and the fighter Giuseppe Garibaldi.

Jabotinsky wanted, of course, all of Palestine to become a Jewish state. When he founded his party in the 1920s, he named it according to this vision: the demand was for a "revision" of the British decision to separate the land west of the Jordan river from the land east of the river, today's Kingdom of Jordan, then called Transjordan. In her youth, Tzipi sang Jabotinsky's most famous song: "Two banks has the Jordan - this one belongs to us and that one, too."

But Jabotinsky was also a real liberal, and a real democrat. He entered the political arena for the first time when he formulated the "Helsingfors (Helsinki) Plan," which demanded human and national rights for the Jews and the other minorities in Czarist Russia.

A PERSON educated according to these values is faced today with a tough dilemma.

Years ago, the Revisionists used to tell this joke: rewarding David Ben-Gurion for founding the state, God promised to grant him one wish. Ben-Gurion asked that every Israeli should be honest, wise and a Labor Party member. "That's too much even for me to grant," God replied, "but every Israeli can choose two of the three." So a Labor member can be wise but not honest, a Labor member can be honest but not wise, and somebody who is wise and honest cannot be a Labor member.

Something like this is now happening to the Revisionists themselves. They ask for three things: a Jewish State, a state that encompasses all of historic Palestine and a democratic state. That is too much even for God. So a Revisionist must choose two of the three: a Jewish and democratic state in only a part of the country, a Jewish state in all the country that will not be democratic, or a democratic state in all the country that will not be Jewish. This dilemma has not changed over the last 41 years.

Tzipi Livni, an honest to goodness Revisionist, has announced her choice: a Jewish and democratic state that will not encompass the whole of the country. (We leave open here the question of whether a "Jewish" state can be democratic.)

In up-to-date Hebrew, we differentiate between "national" and "nationalistic" attitudes. A national view recognizes the importance of the national dimension in today's human society, and therefore respects and recognizes the nationalism of other peoples, too. A nationalistic view says "we and no others,",my nation ueber alles.

It seems that Tzipi, like her hero Jabotinsky, adheres to the national view. Hence her emphasis on "two nation-states for two peoples." She speaks about a Jewish nation-state and is ready to sacrifice Greater Israel on this altar.

That may not be an ideal basis for peace (what would be the status of Israel's Arab citizens in this Jewish nation-state?) but it is realistic. If she has the power to implement her ideas, she can make peace. If.

REACTING TO the election results, Gideon Levy wrote that the heart wants to hope, but the brain cannot. That is an understandable reaction.

Since Tzipi, short for Tzipora, means bird, one wants to cry out: Fly, Tzipora, fly! Fly to heaven! After your election as Prime Minister, lose no time! Set up a government coalition with the peace forces, use the first few months of your term to achieve peace with the Palestinians, call new elections and submit yourself and the peace agreement to the public test! As Livni herself phrased it in her direct way: "There is no time for bullshitting!"

That is what Ehud Barak should have done in 2000. He did not take the chance, and therefore he lost.

Will Tzipora the bird reach these heights? The heart hopes. The brain has its doubts.
(c) 2008 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Eat, Drink And Be Merry
By Victoria Stewart

"War, sin, killin' and a' robbin",
They say that the world is one big problem.
I've got one and I'll tell you now
I can't fine my Guernsey cow."
Talk About Goose Creek and Other Important Places ~~~ Goose Creek Symphony

Way back in the 70's my brother and I had great fun singing Goose Creek Symphony songs. "Talk About Goose Creek and Other Important Places" was a favorite for many reasons, not the least of which was our family's Guernsey cow. Anyone who has tasted milk from a Guernsey knows the taste of perfection but the Guernsey, along with untold other animals, may soon belong to the past.

Last week, while the broadcast and print media trumpeted the advent of American socialist capitalism, a few outlets carried an even scarier story. On September 18, CBS ran a segment, "FDA Considers Engineered Animals for Food" and the following day The Wall Street Journal (page A12) sedately informed us, "FDA Plans Rules for Modified Food Animals." That article reported, "The Food and Drug Administration released proposed guidelines on how to regulate genetically engineered animals, in a move that is expected to pave the way for them to enter the food supply."

That's right. With the wonderful linguistic dexterity that now passes for journalistic integrity, we were told of our government's intention to allow genetically modified animals to be produced and marketed for food.

The article went on to state, "According to BIO, a biotechnology trade group, there could be as many as two dozen applications to sell genetically engineered animals already pending before the FDA." The CBS website featured a reassuring photo of featherless chickens, "engineered" in Israel in an attempt to develop "succulent" poultry. (Does anyone else find it a bit odd that a people who suffered horrendous genetic "experiments" at the hands of the Nazis are now running their own state sponsored genetic experiments?) Genetically modified sheep, cattle, chickens, pigs and fish are the first animals slated to appear in your grocer's freezer.

As with foods made from or containing genetically modified plants, the FDA will not require food producers, i.e., corporations, to notify consumers if products contain ingredients from genetically modified animals. Those same producers can, however, advertise "benefits" derived from these animals such as reduced fat content or increased Omega-3's.

As bad as all of that sounds, it does not compare to information contained in a 2002 report by the National Academy of Sciences. Drug companies are genetically modifiying cows to produce medicines in their milk. Goats, rabbits, chicken, pigs and sheep are also being used to inexpensively produce medicines. I read, although was unable to verify, that a Dutch scientist hopes to use flies in a similar fashion.

The animals used for these purposes-lactating females-would pose a problem at the end of their production life, as would the males used to acquire sperm in order to produce the lactating females. (How long, I wonder, until someone designs a perpetually lactating female.) The report expressed some concern about the recycling of these living laboratories into the food chain which is, it seems, the most profitable end destination. And it really does make a kind of thrifty sense. After the animals have been used up as four legged Petri dishes, send them out as burgers and crispy wings. Waste not and all that.

And then there are the reports of the development of chimeras. This from an April, 2005 posting on the Genetics and Society website:

Some researchers have created embryos with genetic material from both a human and an animal, also known as chimeras. Most claim this is for research purposes only, and such embryos would never be implanted or brought to term. But some bioethicists are unwilling to draw a line that would prevent it. For example, Jason Scott Robert and Francoise Baylis assert that they take "no stance at all"on whether "interspecies hybrids or chimeras from human materials should be forbidden or embraced." But much of their article is devoted to their contention that "the arguments against... creating novel part-human beings... are largely unsatisfactory."

The prospect of such human-animal chimeras being born raises a number of troubling questions. Does such an organism have human rights? What if it were 99.9% human and 0.1% chimpanzee? What of the reverse situation?

The mixing of species can occur at three different levels. First, some DNA from one organism can be inserted into another organism's genome. Most often, however, these are described as transgenic animals rather than chimeras. For example, scientists have produced transgenic mice which contain some human genes.

Another type of chimera involves a blastocyst containing components from multiple species. James Grifo has used this technique for fertility research. After the US federal government informed him he could no longer continue his experiments, his team moved to China. There, they removed the nucleus from a fertilized rabbit egg and inserted a nucleus from a human somatic cell. The resulting embryos, which still contained rabbit mitochondrial DNA, were allowed to grow for 14 days before destruction.

Finally, scientists have placed cells from one species, typically human stem cells, into a multicellular embryo of another species. In 2004, researchers were surprised to discover that injecting human stem cells into a pig embryo resulted in a fetus whose cellular components were intermingled down to the genetic level. Many cells contained chromosomal DNA of both pig and human origin.

Are we having fun yet?

Truly, I do not know how to begin to comment on our brave new world.

The recreational uses for genetic modification will be reserved for the rich. The experimental uses-for drugs and food and breeding-will be applied to the poor. Already the arguments for approval of genetically modified food animals center around poverty and the global food crisis, a ready test market for the effects of genetic modification on human subjects.

The FDA is taking public comment on their GM animals proposal for 60 days. I don't expect public outrage to make any difference but I'll make a call anyway. I'll continue to support animal rights groups and the growing wave of humanitarians, scientists, veterinarians, health care workers, farmers and food activists who oppose this industry. I'll redouble my efforts to produce my own food and encourage others to do the same.

But beyond all of that are the questions I ask myself more and more often. What is there to recommend our species? What possible justification can we give for the continuation of our cultures, our societies, our technologies? Would not this planet be infinitely improved if humans simply ceased to exist?

Or is there some hope, somewhere, somehow, that we might turn from our depraved and sadistic narcissism and begin to heal the wounds we have so carelessly inflicted on everything around us?
(c) 2008 Victoria Stewart is the editor of Issues & Alibis magazine.

Bush's Empty Promise To Wounded Vets

When Bear Stearns, Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae got in a financial crunch, George W was Georgie-on-the-spot, rushing out with a bailout package of more than $130 billion.

But, where is George when America's wounded veterans - including thousands severely wounded in his misguided Iraq war - need him to act? Last year, the public was disgusted to learn of the scandalous mistreatment these vets were getting at the Army's Walter Reed hospital and other VA medical centers.

Caught unaware by the furor, Bush hurriedly promised to do something, and in February he claimed success. His army surgeon general told Congress that "we are entirely staffed at the point we need to be," adding with bravado that "a key element of our warrior ethos is that we never leave a soldier behind on the battlefield - or lost in a bureaucracy."

Great line! Mission accomplished!

But wait - why aren't veterans applauding? Because they know that claiming progress is not the same as making it. In June, congressional staffers investigated a wounded vet center in Texas that was set up for 649 patients, but is now jammed with more than 1,300. Another 350 vets are struck on a waiting list and some will languish there up to a year, even though many are at high risk of suicide. Instead of being "entirely staffed," the center has only half the number of nurse case managers it needs.

Why is there such an outrageous gap between Bush's promise and performance? The Bushites claim that, gosh, they simply didn't anticipate so many wounded soldiers coming out of Iraq. Excuse me! The war has been going on for more than five years, and the awful number of casualties has been reported daily. How could they not know?

I'll bet that if our vets had names like Freddie, Fannie, and Bear - Bush would have covered all of their needs, pronto.
(c) 2008 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.

A close-up the Energy Ball at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam.

How An Eggbeater Could Power The Future
By Michael Schirber

From Holland, the country famous for its windmills, comes a new design for home wind power. Looking like an eggbeater, it spins quieter and at lower wind speeds than a lot of traditional propeller-type turbines.

It's now standard for big wind turbines to have propeller blades. Much of the turning force is generated at the tips, which slice perpendicularly through the air, causing a swooshing noise that some residents nearby have said they find unnerving.

By contrast, the so-called Energy Ball, sold by Dutch-based Home Energy International, has rotors bent around in a ball shape so that they primarily move parallel to the wind. This generates less noise.

"A small wind turbine has to be silent, otherwise it will be annoying to the community," said Erik Aurik, Home Energy's marketing manager.

The noise from an Energy Ball is always less than the sound of the wind, Aurik told LiveScience. And what's more, the device continues to work even when the wind speed dips down to as slow as 4.5 mph (2 meters per second), whereas the average turbine needs roughly twice that wind speed to turn.

Venturi effect

This is not the first wind turbine to resemble an egg-beater. The Darrieus wind turbine has a similar shape and has been around for almost 80 years.

What's different with the Energy Ball is that it has a horizontal axis, not a vertical one. And it uses a different kind of physics, called the Venturi effect.

The Venturi effect is characterized by a low pressure that occurs when a flow of air or liquid speeds up as it is constricted. Some perfume bottles use the Venturi effect to suck up perfume into the spray nozzle.

The Energy Ball's design constricts the wind, thereby causing the pressure to drop inside the ball. This sucks in air flowing around the ball and helps turn the rotor blades.

Because of this sucking action, Venturi-based turbines use more of the wind - and can therefore be 40 percent more efficient - than a propeller-style turbine of the same diameter, according to research by Technical University of Delft in Holland.

Decorative windmills

Energy Balls currently are sold in sizes of either 1 meter or 2 meters in diameter. They can be installed on a pole or a flat roof in as few as four hours, Aurik said.

In places where the wind is relatively strong - blowing 15 mph, or 7 meters per second, on average - a 1-meter ball can generate up to 500 kilowatt-hours per year, while the 2-meter ball can supply 1,750 kilowatt-hours per year. The typical U.S. household uses 11,000 kilowatt-hours per year, so additional electricity will have to come from somewhere.

However, these are optimum values that assume the small turbine is mounted at least 40 feet (12 meters) above the ground and is free from surrounding trees and buildings that block the wind.

The cost of the Energy Ball is between $3,500 and $7,000, not including installation.

"There is a lot of interest worldwide," Aurik said. "Everybody likes the design. It looks like an art piece."
(c) 2008 Michael Schirber

The 7 best anti-cancer foods!

FTC Launches Operation False Cures To Suppress Natural Cancer Remedies
By Mike Adams

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) today launched "Operation False Cures," a coordinated scheme to censor natural cancer remedies and financially destroy companies offering them for sale. In doing so, the FTC joins the criminals at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) who currently operate an extortion racket that works by threatening health supplement companies with legal action unless they settle with the FDA by paying them million of dollars. Both the FTC and FDA work to protect the interests of the pharmaceutical companies by discrediting or outlawing competing natural cures that work better, more safely and more affordably than FDA-approved pharmaceuticals.

In order to understand what's really going on with the FTC, the key question to ask yourself is simply this: Are there such things as anti-cancer nutrients?

In other words, do anti-cancer nutrients actually exist in the real world?

Of course they do. Broccoli is loaded with them. So is green tea. Zinc is anti-cancer, selenium is anti-cancer, and rainforest herbs are absolutely loaded with anti-cancer nutrients. Vitamin D is such a strong anti-cancer nutrient that, all by itself, it prevents an astonishing 77% of all cancer, and this is all published in peer-reviewed science journals.

Turmeric is anti-cancer, especially when combined with black pepper. So is resveratrol, seaweed, spirulina, chlorella, brown seaweed extract, raw foods, sprouted foods, cabbage, onions, garlic and a thousand other foods.

Now get this: The FTC doesn't believe anti-cancer nutrients exist!

That's where this whole story enters bizarro land. The FTC, you see, doesn't believe anybody should be able to state on any website that there is such a thing as an anti-cancer nutrient. Period! According to the FTC, anyone even mentioning a "cure for cancer" is automatically a quack, regardless of the science backing their position.

Why won't the FTC question the fraud of Big Pharma?

That's because the real intent of the FTC is, of course, to shut down the health supplements industry, thereby protecting its corporate buddies in Big Pharma. Notice how the FTC never goes after the fraudulent advertising and outrageously false health claims of drug companies?

I mean, if you're going to protect consumers from dangerous substances being sold, then there's no better place to start than with Big Pharma. Its drugs kill 100,000 Americans a year. What does the FTC have to say about that? Nothing.

How about the fraudulent science, the censored negative studies, the criminal price fixing practices and the monopoly racket run by Big Pharma and the FDA... does the FTC spend any effort looking into that? Of course not.

What about the fact that FDA and Big Pharma are running a monopolistic price fixing scheme that allows some drugs to be sold at more than 500,000% markups over their manufacturing prices? Americans pay the highest prices in the world -- by far -- for their prescription drugs, and the drug control authorities trap Americans into monopoly pricing by banning imports from Canada and other countries. It's blatant monopolistic pricing, and if it were happening to T-shirts, cars or software, the FTC would leap right in and start suing the companies involved. But when it concerns pharmaceuticals, the FTC remains silent, covering its eyes to the interstate commerce crimes being committed right now by the pharmaceutical industry.

Why the FTC is a threat to America

The FTC isn't looking out for you folks, it's just part of the criminal gang that's taking away your Free Speech, suppressing your access to truthful information about natural cancer cures, and harming tens of millions of Americans in the process. It's just another corrupt, government-run group of con artists who delude themselves into thinking they're protecting people by suppressing information about cancer cures.

You see, the official position of the U.S. government, the drug industry and the entire medical system is that cancer cures don't exist! That's astonishing, given that I've personally spoken to hundreds (maybe thousands) of people who CURED cancer using raw foods, nutritional supplements, anti-cancer herbs and alternative therapies.

I've personally spoken with people who have cured pancreatic cancer, liver cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, skin cancer, bone cancer, throat cancer, thyroid cancer and all sorts of other cancers. I suppose, according to the FTC, I must have been imagining all these conversations. Maybe I'm hallucinating from eating too much vitamin C, and now I'm dreaming up imaginary conversations with people who claim to have cured cancer. That's apparently what the FTC believes.

You see, the FTC has fallen in line with all the other health system criminals operating in the United States today by declaring there is no cure for cancer. It's like claiming "The Earth is flat!" It's such outmoded, ignorant thinking that I can only laugh in total disgust at the so-called "intelligent" people making that argument.

Of course, it's in the interests of the cancer industry to keep everybody completely misinformed about cancer cures. They can't afford to let you learn the truth about how easy it is to cure cancer. Cancer cures are so commonplace now that you'd have to actually make a conscious effort not to see them.

You can cure cancer with infrared sauna therapies (detox through sweat) combined with the Max Gerson diet (www.Gerson.org), a raw foods diet, superfood supplements, and even things like insulin potentiation therapy, ultraviolet irradiation of your blood, oxygen therapy, Chinese medicine herbs and a whole host of other natural therapies that really work. You can't find most of these therapies offered in the United States because all the natural cancer doctors have either been arrested or fled the country due to the outright oppression of any medical technology outside the toxic chemotherapy and radiation protocols.

Curing cancer, as one Chinese medicine doctor once told me, is easier than curing the common cold. But you'll probably have to leave the USA to actually participate in a cure, since curing or treating the cause of cancer (or just about any disease) has been outlawed in the U.S.

Eliminating cancer tumors and boosting natural immune function is so incredibly easy that it takes the cancer industry billions of dollars a year in propaganda just to try to hide the truth from people. The FTC and FDA, for their part, use taxpayer money to continue the charade, so they essentially have unlimited funds to pursue their cancer propaganda and disinformation campaigns.

Only the internet allows people to learn the truth about cancer, and of course they're trying to shut that down, too. Only a few organizations like NaturalNews -- which sells no supplements whatsoever -- remains insulated from the orchestrated attacks on free speech now being waged by the FTC and FDA. Together, these two government monstrosities have become a force of death and destruction, laying waste to the health education of the American People, enforcing ignorance and health illiteracy that keeps the People enslaved in a fraudulent cancer racket offering nothing but bankruptcy and death.

Operation False Information

If anything, the FTC's announcement today should be called Operation False Information, because that's what it's all about: Spreading lies and disinformation about cancer cures, hoping to dissuade people from learning the truth about the very real cancer cures that exist right now.

In taking this position, the FTC has joined the ranks of the criminally-operated FDA, EPA, DEA and USDA, all of which now operate as taxpayer-funded branches of Big Pharma that seek to destroy anything that competes with drug profits and the "culture of death" permeating American society. From a Biblical perspective, these organizations would be considered satanic, as if they were possessed by the devil himself. If this were Lord of the Rings, they would be like the Dark Lord Sauron, raising armies of orcs to spread darkness and death across the land in the quest for power and control.

Make no mistake: The FTC is waging war against the People, much like the FDA, and it will stop at nothing to discredit, destroy and bankrupt the natural products industry in its desperate, evil-minded efforts to enslave Americans in the Big Pharma system of medical control.

Because, let's face it: Any organization that claims there is no cure for cancer is delusional. They also claim there's no cure for diabetes, or heart disease, or osteoporosis. In fact, these delusional government people believe there is no cure for ANY disease! That's right: They don't believe there is any such thing as a cure for anything.

That's a serious sign of complete detachment from reality. These people are more delusional than a bunch of DEA agents smoking up the crack they confiscated from the local crack house. They are high on their power and steeped in ignorance. They know nothing of the real world and operate from a fictional set of delusions they're now trying to imprint upon the American people.

To say there's no such thing as a natural cure for cancer is to instantly label yourself a moron. There are hundreds of natural cures for cancer, and people are curing themselves every day, using no pharmaceuticals, no chemotherapy, no irradiation and no doctors. And it's that reality that scares the bejeezus out of the cancer industry. No doctors? Well how on earth are they supposed to make their money if people can cure cancer themselves?

That's the whole point, actually: While I want to set you free with the knowledge and power to heal yourself (and I have nothing to gain from you curing cancer, by the way), the cancer industry has everything to lose if you are empowered with knowledge and informed about natural cancer cures that really work. If you're cancer free, they'll lose your business, and the cancer industry is far more concerned about its own revenues than your health, believe me.

Is there such a thing as false advertising of natural cures?

Of course there is. Not all cancer cures on the internet are honest. But the FTC doesn't limit its targeted to just false promises. The FTC, by its own admission, believes that ANY mention of a cancer "cure" is, by itself, fraudulent. Thus, it throws the baby out with the bathwater by targeting all products that claim to cure cancer.

Now, if you want to talk about false cures, let's talk about the chemotherapy industry, and the mammography industry, and the whole fraudulent system of oncology. A rigorous review of the scientific literature on chemotherapy reveals that chemotherapy simply doesn't work on 98% of people. It's a fraud all by itself. And even when it "works" to shrink tumors, it doesn't give people quality of life or restored health. It doesn't cure cancer, in other words. It merely poisons the patient.

Mammography is also a fraud. Rigorous scientific studies reveal that mammography harms ten women for every one woman it helps. The devices actually cause cancer by irradiating the breasts! (See http://www.naturalnews.com/020829.html )

Modern oncology is a fraud. It's marketed through a system of controlled, fabricated fear. An oncologist makes a false diagnosis, then scares the patient into agreeing to high-profit treatments by telling them, "You only have six months to live." This is not merely unethical, it's a criminal deception that's used every day in America to sign up consumers for conventional cancer treatments that will only harm them.

So where is the FTC on investigating the chemotherapy fraud? The mammography fraud? The fear marketing tactics of modern oncology? The FTC, as you well know, is a no-show on these issues. Apparently, poisons that kill people, and procedures that maim women are perfectly fine with the FTC, even when they are promoted using deceptive marketing tactics!

The FTC, you see, thinks nothing of women being disfigured and having their breasts sliced off by cancer surgeons, even when they don't yet have breast cancer! That's perfectly fine with the FTC. But if you approach that same woman and offer to sell her some broccoli sprouts that can help reverse breast cancer, then suddenly you're the criminal!

So the insane doctors wielding scalpels, poisons and lies are fully protected by the FTC, while the naturopaths selling healing nutrients and safe, effective cancer therapies are considered criminals. Welcome to the USA, friends... the land of medical insanity and government-enforced oppression of natural cures.

The People's Protection Agency

I think we need a new agency called the People's Protection Agency (PPA). The PPA is tasked with making arrests of the top criminals at the FTC, FDA, DEA, USDA and other government racket groups that threaten the health and safety of the American People.

The PPA would have a list of certain people to arrest and prosecute for their crimes against humanity. It should be a completely non-violent organization, of course, but it should bring these unindicted criminals to justice and let all the evidence come out in a public forum where the truth is a matter of public record.

This list should include the top criminals at the FTC and FDA who are orchestrating these campaigns of health destruction and enforced ignorance against the American people.

I would hope that these criminals be brought to justice through proper arrest and prosecution, and I might even recommend that we grant them immunity in exchange for their full accounts of what happened (like many Nazi war criminals, or even the Apartheid criminals in South Africa) so that future generations can learn from the mistakes of our own.

It's time to end government-sponsored medical tyranny

We are past the time of tolerating the ongoing medical abuse of our families and our children. It is time for the American People to stand up against tyranny, ignorance and oppression. It's time to take back our rights to openly and honestly describe the anti-cancer properties of plants, nutrients and therapies. And it's time that we recognized any person, institution or government that interferes with those God-given rights is itself an enemy of the People, and a disservice to all of humanity.

Stay subscribed to NaturalNews to join the (peaceful) revolution that's coming. Together, we can help transform this world from a place of death, destruction and ignorance to one of life, abundance and free knowledge. There are institutions that wish to prevent us from setting our fellow human beings free, but those institutions are already beginning to crumble, and soon, the opportunity will be right to step forward and be part of the creation of The Next Society, where knowledge reigns over ignorance, peace triumphs over war, and the People are set free from the mental prisons in which they've been trapped for generations.

Today's actions by the FTC are the last, desperate attempts to hold together the fragile bars of those prisons and prevent the human race from being set free by the truth about healing cancer.

We can live in a world without cancer. The technology exists right now. It's probably growing in your back yard. And yet the cancer industry is doing everything in its power to isolate people from the truth and prevent cancer cures from becoming so widely known that the entire cancer industry implodes like Bear Stearns Co.

Be part of the revolution. Forward this article to everyone you know. Post it everywhere. Spread the truth, free the People, and stand up against the ignorance, tyranny and oppression of the cancer industry and its police state enforcers: The FTC and FDA.
(c) 2008 Mike Adams ~~~ Natural News

Seize The Time!
By Cynthia McKinney

We the people must now seize the time! We have always had the capability of determining our own destiny, but for various reasons, the people failed to elect the leaders who provided the correct political will. There was always some corporate or private special interest that stood in the way of the public good. And they always seemed to have the power of the purse to throw around and influence public opinion or our elected officials. The very foundation of the U.S. economy is crumbling underneath our feet. This represents a unique moment in U.S. history and we must now seize the time for self-determination--for health care, education, ecological wisdom, justice, and all the policies that will make a difference in the lives of the people including an end to all wars, including the drug war!

The crisis was staved off for a time for some of our major finance engines when they were able to obtain bridge funding from certain sovereign wealth funds. That option grows increasingly dim as The Federal Reserve is becoming the lender of last resort. This means that the people are becoming the owners of the primary instruments of U.S. capital and finance. This now means that the people have a say in how these instruments are to be used and what their priorities ought to be. The people should now have more say in how their tax dollars are spent and what the priorities of government and the public sector must be. We the people must now set our demands to ensure and promote the public good.

Now, as we ponder the importance of this moment to do good and serve the needs of the people, some politicians have already figured out their answer for us: win or steal the next election, prepare for more war, and leave it to others to try and figure out what to do next. While banks are failing all around us and the U.S. taxpayer is drenched with news of billion-dollar bailouts for *selected* companies, the Congress, which has utterly failed in its twin responsibilities of setting policy and Executive Branch oversight, plans to adjourn instead of setting new policies; lessening the impact of the economic freefall on innocent victims; or stopping war, expansion of war, new war, and occupation.

In a dizzying turn of recent events, we have all witnessed the collapse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgage providers, investment banks Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns, and insurer American International Group (AIG), and other companies. So far, at least eleven banks have filed for bankruptcy this year. The case of the AIG bailout is particularly curious as Merrill Lynch was denied taxpayer largesse. I wonder if AIG was the selected company for bailout because of its relationship to the U.S. intelligence community and what others would discover if AIG's books were opened in an audit. The last person to get close to AIG and its shady operations was Eliott Spitzer.

But some more fundamental issues must be explored here, relating to the underlying assumptions that have guided U.S. political and economic activity, particularly over the last eight years.

The Bush Administration's anything goes, just don't get caught" attitude has set the tone for what we are witnessing today. To be sure these problems didn't start in January of 2001, but they sure were allowed to accelerate during the George W. Bush Administration. For example, what tone was set when the Administration shipped $12 billion to Paul Bremer's provisional government in Iraq in cash on wooden pallets for Iraq reconstruction? No wonder $9 billion of it was "lost." What I'm constantly reminded of is that the money didn't just vanish, somebody got it. Now it's up to us to find out who!

However, the Administration's blatant disregard for good governance, the rule of law, standards of moral and ethical conduct, and even etiquette, when coupled with a laissez-faire, "go-along-to-get-along" attitude from Congress meant that no holds were barred and no hands were on the deck--a sure prescription for disaster.

In my reading over the course of the last few years, I had to become somewhat conversant with the language of the new economy: bundled mortgages, securitization, SPEs, SIVs, derivatives. But in addition to the old concepts that always seemed to be with us--predatory lending, redlining, no affordable housing amid "the housing bubble,"-- it soon became clear that basically folks had figured out a way to make money off of a ticking time bomb. Kind of like prisons for profit. And even though the Enron scandal was supposed to have cleaned up a lot of this, unfortunately, even Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac regularly engaged in some of these practices and that's why you and I own them today. I believe it is true that the very foundations of the U.S. economy and conventional political behavior have been shaken. Now is not the time for business as usual. And although this is by no ways exhaustive, here are a few things that I think the Democratic-led Congress could work on now instead of adjourning:

1. Enactment of a foreclosure moratorium now before the next phase of ARM interest rate increases take effect;
2. Elimination of all ARM mortgages and their renegotiation into 30- or 40-year loans;
3. Establishment of new mortgage lending practices to end predatory and discriminatory practices;
Establishment of criteria and construction goals for affordable housing;
Redefinition of credit and regulation of the credit industry so that discriminatory practices are completely eliminated;
Full funding for initiatives that eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in home ownership;
Recognition of shelter as a right according to the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights to which the U.S. is a signatory so that no one sleeps on U.S. streets;
Full funding of a fund designed to cushion the job loss and provide for retraining of those at the bottom of the income scale as the economy transitions;
Close all tax loopholes and repeal of the Bush tax cuts for the top 1% of income earners;
Fairly tax corporations, denying federal subsidies to those who relocate jobs overseas repeal NAFTA.

And since the Congress plans to adjourn early and leave these problems to The Federal Reserve, The Federal Reserve should operate in the interests of the U.S. taxpayer and not the interests of the private, international bankers that it currently represents. This, of course means that The Federal Reserve, too, must undergo a fundamental ownership and mission change.

This crisis does not have to be treated as merely a "market correction," or the result of a few rotten apples in an otherwise pristine barrel. This crisis truly represents the opportunity to introduce fundamental changes in the way the U.S. economy and its political stewards operate. Responsible political leadership demands that the pain and suffering being experienced by the innocent today not be revisited upon them or the next generation tomorrow. But sadly, instead of affirmative action being taken in this direction, the Bush Administration ratchets up the drumbeat for war, Republican Party operatives busily remove duly-registered voters from the voter rolls, and our elected leaders in the Congress go home to campaign while leaving all of us to fend for ourselves. For the Administration and the Democrat-led Congress, I declare: MISSION UNACCOMPLISHED. For the public whose moment this is, I say: Power to the People!

Please visit www.runcynthiarun.org and read our platform. If you like it, please make a donation so we can spread the news and . . . seize the time!
(c) 2008 Cynthia McKinney

Coming Attractions
War Without End, Amen
By Chris Floyd

I've seen the future, baby: it is murder. ~~~ Leonard Cohen

1. Modern Times

While our national leaders quibble and carp over just how much public money they should ladle out to Wall Street's den of thieves, and how many people should be in charge of divvying up this vast pork pie (one guy at Treasury? a panel of Establishment worthies? a couple of goobers in Congress?), the real business of the American empire -- war and rumors of war -- goes on without let or hindrance.

Even now, the masters of war down at Hell's Bottom -- the fetid swamp where they planted the Pentagon way back when -- are laying plans for decades of "persistent conflict" against a host of targets: the poor, the young, the desperate, the deprived, the Chinese, the Russians -- and the American people.

In a remarkably candid document, "The 2008 Army Modernization Strategy," the Pentagon lays out the perpetual blowback arising from the relentless pursuit of what George W. Bush once proudly hailed as "the single sustainable model of national success" -- i.e., rapacious crony capitalism backed up with state violence. This "model" -- which was once proclaimed as the "end of history," the unsurpassable apex of human development -- has been imposed -- at gunpoint, bribery and extortion -- on much of the world. The result has been, quite literally, the devouring of the earth: resources stripped bare, the climate poisoned and sent careening wildly out of balance, nations destroyed, populations dispossessed, societies rent asunder, violence run rampant, a tsunami of corruption and degradation ravaging the world.

Of course, it is not the Pentagon's job to rectify this situation or to modify the system that has in large part produced it. The boys at Hell's Bottom just do what they're told. And as the report indicates, they have obviously been told to do whatever it takes to keep the American elite floating -- in comfort and splendour -- on the surface of this blood-choked sea of suffering for as long as possible. Hence, the plans for "perpetual war" outlined in the document.

This week the Irish Times' Tom Clonan provided a succinct précis of the document, which conveys a truth universally unacknowledged by the bipartisan American elite: the "Global War on Terror" is by no means confined to slapping down religious extremists, but is designed to maintain and extend America's "unipolar domination" of world affairs -- and world resources.

Thus in addition to the usual suspects -- "a radical, ideology-based, long-term terrorist threat" -- it encompasses a number of other military targets for what Bush once called "the path of action." As Clonan notes:

Relatively new, "emerging" features are also included in the document's rationale for future threats.

"We face a potential return to traditional security threats posed by emerging near-peers as we compete globally for depleting natural resources and overseas markets."

This thinly-veiled reference to Russia and China will, perhaps, come as little surprise given recent events in Ossetia and Abkhazia. The explicit reference in this context to future resource wars, however, will probably raise eyebrows among the international diplomatic community, who prefer to couch such conflicts as human rights-based or rooted in notions around freedom and democracy.

The document, however, contains no such lofty pretences. It goes on to list as a pre-eminent threat to the security of the US and its allies "population growth - especially in less-developed countries - [which] will expose a resulting 'youth bulge'."

This youth bulge, the document goes on to state, will present the US with further "resource competition" in that these expanding populations in the developing world "will consume ever increasing amounts of food, water and energy".

The document goes on to describe in broad-strokes the manner in which its downsized military might ensure survival of the fittest for the US and its allies in future resource wars for water, food and energy.

As noted above, the report is quite open in its recognition of the fact that the "single, sustainable model" of resource-devouring crony capitalism for selected elites is in fact producing the threats that the Terror War purports to address:

An expanding, interconnected global economy supported by advancements in technology will continue to drive prosperity. However, this will also underscore wealth and power disparities between populations while providing the means to export terror and extremism around the world...Resource competition induced by growing populations and expanding economies will consume ever increasing amounts of food, water and energy. States or entities controlling these resources will leverage them as part of their security calculus.

Nor do the savants of Hell's Bottom have any illusions about the reality of global warming and its catastrophic human costs:

Climate change and natural disasters will compound already difficult positions in many developing countries, thereby increasing the potential for humanitarian crises, epidemic disease and regionally destabilizing population migrations.

It doesn't get much plainer than all this. Again, there is not the slightest indication or awareness that there might be any other way to address the immense challenges of the 21st century other than a vicious fight to the finish to retain the lion's share of the earth's dwindling spoils. Certainly, the slightly more gussied-up policy proposals of the bipartisan elite -- now represented by Barack Obama and the withered appendage of the Bush Faction known as John McCain -- envision no other alternative. For them, it's Terror War all the time, Terror War to the bitter end.

Clonan also zeroes in on another key element of the plan: the fact that these never-ending future wars will be focused to a large degree on civilian populations:

As a consequence of identifying growing populations in the developed world as a threat in itself, the strategy document highlights a number of paradigm shifts in the way future wars are to be conducted.

It predicts that "21st Century operations will require soldiers to engage among populations and diverse cultures instead of avoiding them". The document reveals that new US tactical doctrine provides a template by which air, naval and field commanders will no longer just secure traditional strategic targets such as airspace, seaports and bridgeheads, but will, of necessity, also deploy and fight amongst and against the target population itself to win wars.

The document refers to this euphemistically as "commanders employing offensive, defensive and stability or civil support operations simultaneously".

This is already the template being used in Iraq and Afghanistan, where civilian homes are bombed to bits just down the road from "reconstruction" projects, while vast armies raid homes, imprison tens of thousands of people without charges, set up hair-trigger checkpoints and sniper nests all over the "liberated" lands.

As Clonan notes, the document goes on to detail just how the Pentagon will militarize the global commons of outer space, employ advanced technologies of ever-increasing lethality, and also create a new "networked" human soldier - the 'Future Force Warrior' - who will deploy among the target population and will operate simultaneously several remote, unmanned ground and air weapons systems.

This human engineering project is not limited to the external technologies outlined in the document. As I noted in the Moscow Times several years ago (and as Time magazine noted this month), the Pentagon is embarked on a number of research programs to alter the physical mind and bodies of its "warriors." ( is now the term of choice for our military jargonists; obviously, the old-fashioned term "soldier" is not fearsome enough for the mighty chieftains of Hell's Bottom.)

First, from Time:

[The U.S. Army has just awarded a $4 million contract to begin developing "thought helmets" that would harness silent brain waves for secure communication among troops. Ultimately, the Army hopes the project will "lead to direct mental control of military systems by thought alone."

... "It'd be radio without a microphone, " says Dr. Elmar Schmeisser, the Army neuroscientist overseeing the program. "Because soldiers are already trained to talk in clean, clear and formulaic ways, it would be a very small step to have them think that way."

Dr. Mike D'Zmura, the civilian scientist in charge of the project, is quick to assure us that this brain-altering technology poses no risks; no spooky "mind control" mechanisms can ever possibly result from this research. And of course, he's right; when in the course of human history has any form of technology ever been adapted to malevolent ends?

But brain radio is just the start of what the Pentagon envisions for "future warriors," as I noted back in 2003:

[As the Daily Telegraph and Christian Science Monitor report,] the [Pentagon] "war fighter enhancement" programs -- an acceleration of bipartisan biotinkering that's been going on for years -- will involve injecting young men and women with hormonal, neurological and genetic concoctions; implanting microchips and electrodes in their bodies to control their internal organs and brain functions; and plying them with drugs that deaden some of their normal human tendencies: the need for sleep, the fear of death, the reluctance to kill their fellow human beings.

The research is "very aggressive and wide open," says Admiral Stephen Baker of the Center for Defense Information. Indeed, the U.S. Special Operations Command envisions the creation of "iron bodied and iron willed personnel" who can "resist the mental and physiological effects of sleep deprivation" while relying on "ergogenic substances" to "manage" the "environmental and mentally induced stress" of the battlefield. Their bodies juiced, their brains swaddled in Prozacian haze, the enhanced warfighters can churn relentlessly, remorselessly toward dominion.

And the term "creation" is not just fanciful rhetoric: Some of the research now under way involves actually altering the genetic code of soldiers, modifying bits of DNA to fashion a new type of human specimen, one that functions like a machine, killing tirelessly for days and nights on end. These mutations will "revolutionize the contemporary order of battle" and guarantee "operational dominance across the whole range of potential U.S. military employments," the [Pentagon] wizards enthuse...

[The Pentagon] remains undeterred in its bold quest to "push the limits of human input/output," advance the "symbiotic relationship between man and machine," and customize "pharmaceutical technology" to "embolden the warfighter and his superiors," as military scientists declared at a Pentagon-sponsored conference on future warfare.

Mutant soldiers waging "perpetual war" against desperate, deprived people in heavily-populated civilian areas -- welcome to the 21st century. Like the man said: It's murder, baby!

II. Bringing It All Back Home

But you shouldn't think that all these fun and games are designed just for foreigners. No indeed; the home folk too are in the cross-hairs of the Pentagon's perpetual conflict machine. In fact, Americans have just gotten the very first active combat unit aimed exclusively at them, as Arthur Silber reports.

Silber notes an Army Times article which spells it out plainly and with no addition: a battle-hardened combat team -- honed by 35 months of occupation duty in the killing fields of Iraq -- has now been assigned to bring those specialized skills back to the Homeland. From the Army Times:

Beginning Oct. 1 for 12 months, the [3rd Infantry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team] will be under the day-to-day control of U.S. Army North, the Army service component of Northern Command, as an on-call federal response force for natural or manmade emergencies and disasters, including terrorist attacks.

...this new mission marks the first time an active unit has been given a dedicated assignment to NorthCom, a joint command established in 2002 to provide command and control for federal homeland defense efforts and coordinate defense support of civil authorities....

They may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control...The 1st BCT's soldiers also will learn how to use "the first ever nonlethal package that the Army has fielded," 1st BCT commander Col. Roger Cloutier said, referring to crowd and traffic control equipment and nonlethal weapons designed to subdue unruly or dangerous individuals without killing them.

"It's a new modular package of nonlethal capabilities that they're fielding. They've been using pieces of it in Iraq, but this is the first time that these modules were consolidated and this package fielded, and because of this mission we're undertaking we were the first to get it."

This "non-lethal" package includes the copious use of tasers, that remarkably effective -- and often lethal -- weapon of repression whose growing use Silber has documented so well. It also features the ability "to stand up hasty roadblocks" and establish those hair-trigger checkpoints that have lead to countless fatal "incidents" for innocent Iraqis.

Silber puts this development in its immediate context -- the accelerating deterioration of American society under the hammer blows of economic collapse, authoritarian rule, endless war and resource scarcity:

You're not crazy if...you've begun to have waking nightmares about what might be coming as the economy worsens and signs of "normalcy" (of what?) begin to vanish from our lives. Many more people without jobs and homeless, tent cities springing up here and there, perhaps regular power outages and growing shortages of goods that had once been plentiful...the list goes on and on.

And what, you might wonder, is our beneficent, all-caring government doing to prepare for this multitude of possibilities? After all, some of those poor, jobless, homeless, starving people might get unruly.

One answer, says Silber, is the good old battle-tested 1st BCT, and all the other resources of the "Northern Command." Silber then focuses on an essential point:

If and when the order comes to fire on American citizens, what happens then? I don't think we want to find out. Many of these individuals are overly familiar with killing innocent people -- as indeed, our criminal war in Iraq is nothing but an operation dedicated to killing innocent people in ungraspably huge numbers -- so a new kind of target probably won't deter them for long, if at all.

Add in all the private mercenary forces now available to the government, and, well...

So if you lose your home, lose your job, lose your family, lose your health -- while Wall Street fraudsters lick molasses from the federal spoon -- for God's sake, don't get riled up. Bow your head, bend your back and keep it yourself. The future is now.
(c) 2008 Chris Floyd

Death Becomes Her
Let's Make Her Our President
By Jason Miller

Savage animal slaughterer that she is, it's apt that Sarah Palin has now brutally plunged a razor-sharp knife into the very heart of the seemingly invincible doubts concerning her capacity to be Vice-President of the United States. Wielding her chutzpah with the awe-inspiring deftness with which she employs her gun or rifle when hunting defenseless wolves or moose, she appeared on 20/20 and left our skepticism writhing on the ground in agony, immersed in its own blood and gasping its last.

Given her virtuoso performance with Charlie Rose a few nights ago, John McCain might as well croak now and get it over with. She's ready for the presidency. All the cynics who dared to question her qualifications to become VP now have about as much credibility as card-carrying members of the Flat Earth Society.

Sarah Palin is the person we need (and deserve) to lead us on our incessant quest for global hegemony and in our ongoing orgiastic gang rape of the Earth. A former beauty pageant contestant noted for her fierce competitiveness who would easily qualify as a MILF in the pornography industry and who takes great pride in her capacity to stick her head up her ass and go for it instead of "blinking," this "lipstick pitbull" embodies nearly all that we worship in a nation fueled principally by narcissism, arrogance, willful ignorance, and belligerence. She may lack the obscene wealth that also triggers our reflexive genuflection, but she will acquire that in time.

Like George Bush, who is demonstrably imbecilic and morally retarded, the "hockey mom" who "worked her way to the top with grit and determination," also fuels the naïve, jejune notion that "anyone can be President of the United States because we live in a democracy." Forget the pablum concocted to pacify the masses; the POTUS could actually be 'anyone who hails from a family with direct ties to the power elite of our bourgeois democracy or who shares their sociopathic tendencies and is willing to sell their souls to do their bidding.' But who amongst us wants to burden our atrophying minds attempting to understand complexities when the simplistic sweet little lies are so much more palatable and takes so few brain cells to process?

As is befitting of a huntress extraordinaire, Palin provides an endless supply of red meat for the benighted, socially conservative American masses to devour with the ferocity of the hungry wolves she loves to annihilate:

Life begins at conception.

No abortion (including in rape and incest cases) unless it is necessary to save the life of the mother.

Abstinence only.

Our war crimes and genocide in Iraq are God's will.

Cut government spending on socially beneficial programs but keep underwriting the squatters in Palestine and pumping obscene amounts of cash into our murderous military machine.

Islamic extremists are "hell bent on destroying our nation."

Russia invaded Georgia "unprovoked" and war with the Russians is a viable option.

Israel would be justified in launching a nuclear strike against Iran to preserve its "security."

US military incursions into sovereign nations like Pakistan are necessary and permissible.

Shooting any non-human animal that moves, asking questions later, devouring their flesh in a delectable stew, wearing their skins and furs, and mounting their heads on our walls as macabre "trophies" are our God-given rights as red-blooded Americans.

The Alaskan wilderness, over which she presides, is a repository for OUR precious oil and we must "drill, baby, drill," regardless of how many species we drive to extinction and how much damage we do to the environment.

She is so rife with idiocy, devotion to "normalized violence," and a river of venom that froths and seethes under her guise of "Christian compassion" that it is virtually impossible to pinpoint her most loathsome and dangerous trait. However, her zealous adherence to Western culture's paradigm of dominionism, meaning dominion over the environment and nonhuman animals, demonstrates and encapsulates most of Sarah Palin's myriad sociopathic tendencies that readily qualify her to occupy the Oval Office.

With the advent of agriculture and the subjugation of animals, humanity embarked upon a war against nature (and, incidentally, against ourselves too since we are a part of nature). Gradually becoming more and more obsessed with controlling nearly all aspects of our environment, we grew increasingly exploitative, abusive, and murderous in our zeal to "tame" the world around us. Genesis's creation myth, which Palin has revealed to be a key component of her worldview, cemented Western culture's conviction that humans have the absolute and irrevocable right to dominate the Earth and its non-human animal inhabitants. Even the advent of "enlightened" Humanism afforded little relief to Mother Nature, as it underscored dominionism with its anthropocentricism and speciesism. So while Palin's Creationist beliefs may seem archaic and sophomoric to substantial numbers of US Americans who embrace Humanistic ideas, she still belongs at the forefront of our human-centric charge to devour the planet.

Colonialism, slavery of human and non-human animals, genocide of indigenous people to make way for expansion, ecocide to "clear the land" and extract OUR resources, and now unbridled capitalism and consumerism have been the hallmarks of Western "civilization." We in the United States are now the nexus of this culture of death that for centuries has blasphemously extended its malignant influence under the banner of Christianity, a repugnant hypocrisy that grossly perverts the teachings of one of the greatest spiritual leaders in history.

We are a nation ruled by the power elite, a relatively small segment of the US population in the upper echelons of the economic, corporate, military, and political hierarchies. Our ruling class is comprised of scoundrels, cold-blooded killers, bullies, thieves, hedonists, and avaricious pigs. The rest of us are 'wanna-be' power elites, indoctrinated flag-waving true believers, apathetic by-standers looking out for number one, 'down-troddens' just trying to get by, or outraged activists whose actions are effectively neutralized by the overwhelming might of the system.

So who better to serve as the "elected" face of the ruling class than Sarah Palin? After all, she is a faux populist, physically attractive woman (proving that beauty is indeed only skin deep), fundamentalist Christian, Paleolithic conservative, savage huntress, foreign policy nincompoop, and "corruption fighter" (with undeniable connections to pork-barrel king, Internet expert and now indicted Alaska Senator Ted Stevens). Palin is one of "us." Or at least what many of us have been indoctrinated to admire or aspire to be.

Palin epitomizes the banality of evil that permeates our planet murdering nation. Nursed at the teat of our culture of death and fiercely inculcated with the various components of its dominionism, it would be an existential impossibility for a person of her age to extricate herself from her mental straight-jacket. On a conscious level, she is probably as clueless about her malevolence as she is about US foreign policy and world affairs. And many of us perceive Sarah Palin to be a God-fearing, patriotic, "average Jo" showing those damn "intellectual elites" that we don't need no stinkin' knowledge to "git 'r done," champion of "family" values and the American Way. Again, Palin is one of "us," or what many of us wish to become.

Whether we are conscious of it or not, we US Americans are all (to varying degrees), perpetuating the malignant expansion of our culture of death. We are the cancer. The Earth is the patient. And the prognosis is not very reassuring.

Sarah Palin. Death becomes her. And we have become death. Now that's a match made in Hell. Let's make her our president....or at least put her one 72 year old heartbeat away.....
(c) 2008 Jason Miller is a recovering US American middle class suburbanite who strives to remain intellectually free. His essays have been widely published, he is an associate editor for Cyrano's Journal Online, and publishes Thomas Paine's Corner within Cyrano's. He welcomes your constructive correspondence.

STOP! Engage Brain, Think
By Mike Folkerth

Good Morning Middle America, your King of Simple News is on the air.

It's not getting a whole lot better is it? The stock market fell down and played dead again yesterday. They are calling ol' Doc Paulson in today to see what he can do.

I read some startling news today that reported the unbelievable fact that millions of Americans are spending more than 50% of their income on housing costs. Who would have ever imagined that people earning $35,000 and purchasing a $300,000 home would be in trouble?

The same article talked about an unemployed engineer who can't make his house payments. Even with a room rented out for $500 per month, he is now facing foreclosure.

This leads me to another "lie that won't die."

We all hear the presidential candidates railing on the fact that foreign countries graduate far more engineers and scientists than America. "We are falling behind in this area," they shout with the conviction of a faith healer. "Elect me for more engineers and scientists," they conclude with steely resolve.

Well, here's a news flash; there is a correlation between the engineer who is unemployed and can't make his house payment and the fact that we don't graduate boat loads of engineers in America. "We sent the engineering jobs to the countries that are graduating engineers." Well, DUH!

I realize that the above concept is difficult to grasp for those in Congress, after all most of them are idiots. Not to mention it's a problem that affects the real world, not Fantasy Land.

You may have noticed that I'm a little edgy today. I get that way on the days when I see our leaders waving us toward the cliff and indicating that they are in a hurry for us to jump. Which brings me to the bailout plan.

I have demonstrated that the U.S. has been in a financial death spiral since 1970, and now we are in a hurry to correct it? Why the sudden interest in plowing $700 Billion big ones into solving a 38 year old known problem?

I can tell you why, the whole shebang is about to go over the falls. We borrow some $3 Billion every day from foreigners who ain't one bit happy with our financial meltdown. We use more than $1 Billion of that figure to pay daily interest on the funded debt. Oh joy, and we are surprised that Americans have bad spending habits.

Our Congress employs what is known as "Crisis Management," not necessarily on purpose, but that seems to be the normal trend for those who not only don't have a plan, but don't have a clue as to why we need one. After all, they put the last problem off for 38 years.

We are being lead by the most inept group of people on earth and we seem to like it. Many send them money to campaign with and drive for miles to listen to them lie. Heck, save money and watch the news. Someone call 911, we have a mental emergency.

This country is in total collapse, the system has failed. You want to talk about a bubble? We have a $117 TRILLION bubble called DEBT! It isn't that hard to understand. Finance, housing, airlines, auto, retail, manufacturing and engineers...are all near bankruptcy status and the governments answer is to send out rebate checks and bail out every failed company in the U.S. with tax money that can never be collected?

We are on our own at this point and time. Out leadership will continue to fail and the dumbed down public will continue to follow until we reach third world status or worse. Many will blame the Democrats or Republicans in order to justify that they personally stood by and did nothing.

Why can't we see that? What the heck went wrong with our ability to stop and think?

This is a day when I'm at a loss for the words necessary to convey not only the gravity of the situation, but my total and complete disgust for the ignorance being displayed by our leadership and my fellow Americans who are stalwartly heralding the call and running toward the cliff.
(c) 2008 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...

"For those looking for security, be forewarned that there's nothing more insecure than a political promise."
~~~ Harry Browne ~~~

700 Billion Fluffy Nothings
Staggering bailouts? Body counts? Global warming stats? They're just numbers, silly
By Mark Morford

Relax, people, it's just a number.

It's just a bunch of zeroes. It's merely 700,000,000,000, and if you look closely and blur your eyes just right and then hit yourself in the face with a brick, you'll soon see that each and every one of those cute little circles is filled with goodness and candy and the sweet sighs of puppies and pie.

Really, what could such a ginormous number possibly mean to everyday hard-workin' plebes like you and me? What does all that wild speculation about imminent recessions and the total collapse of the U.S. economy and "the end of Wall Street" actually mean for us all on a day-to-day basis? In a word, nothing. In five more: happy safe terrorist-free nothing. After all, "the fundamentals of our economy are sound." And besides, we're all just "a nation of whiners." There now. Better?

Don't you already know? If eight miserable years of Bush have taught us anything, it's that numbers like these don't actually mean anything, or have any real effect or significance, be they astronomical bailouts, soldier body counts, the costs of a lost war, evidence of global warming, insane oil profits, you name it.

This is what you must remember: When you see all kinds of frightening data flit across the screen, when you hear all sorts of dour forecasts and prognostications and when you're hammered by endlessly grim pie charts and downward-pointing arrows and scowling rich white men sitting before congressional panels, well, just remember you are simply in the realm of the gods, that the swirl of terrifying numbers is merely how they rearrange the furniture up there on Mount Olympus.

In other words, it has absolutely nothing to do with your hopes and dreams or future tax bills or the price of a double latte at Dunkin' Donuts. OK, it actually does -- disastrously so -- but it's best not to think about it too much. Fair enough?

I know, it's tough not to feel a little shaken, unnerved, openly disgusted. A $700 billion bailout of a Bush-gutted economy by an already nearly bankrupt U.S. Treasury? Two trillion for a failed war in Iraq? Ten trillion in national debt and a $480 billion budget deficit (not counting the $700B for the bailout and it could be much more) and a record trade deficit, with all those numbers nearly double (if not far more) of what they were in 2001? Why, you'd almost think someone -- or maybe an entire administration, perhaps the most irresponsible in modern U.S. history -- was largely to blame. But they're not! Because they're just numbers!

Like these: 47 million Americans without health insurance (up 30 percent from eight years ago). The U.S. dollar now worth roughly half of its 2001 value. More than 150 signing statements challenging over 1,100 provisions of federal law from a president who could give a flying constitutional crap for legal precedent. Oh, and yes: 4,170 dead U.S. soldiers (so far), 100,000 brain damaged and wounded, and tens of thousands of dead Iraqi civilians. But again, who's counting? Not Bush or McCain, that's for sure. So why should you?

Remember this, citizen: Numbers are intangibles, totally inconsequential, wispy insubstantial things to be fawned over by liberal scientists and math geeks and tax accountants and people who care about, you know, stuff. As such, when those numbers turn really dark and frightening and dangerous to the stability of your job and your life and your future, well, we can't really hold anyone accountable.

Certainly not Bush and his cronies, who've handed every tax break, gutted old law, nefarious new law and contorted FDA/EPA regulation over to Big Energy and the military suppliers and the same cretinous Wall Street players who mangled your money in the first place. Certainly not crusty, untouchable Alan Greenspan, now deemed to be the master architect of this collapse, whom John McCain once worshipped like a god.

And certainly not those greedy Wall Street cretins themselves, many of whom knowingly manipulated a flawed system and floated trillions in worthless paper so as to better make their boat payments. Who cares if that paper had little pictures of your kids' futures on them? Personal note from Wall Street bankers: F-ck you for caring.

(By the way, as Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke suggested, it's probably best not to threaten all those Wall Street CEOs and upper-tier execs with yanking their multimillion-dollar golden parachutes, because they might balk and choose not to participate in the riskiest bailout in U.S. history. Don't forget the golden rule, abused citizen: The gods always win.)

Wait, what the hell do you think you're doing, staring in justifiable panic as your stock portfolio and your 401K and your nice, sturdy bank's own valuation shudder and slip by 10, 20, 40 percent in the space of a week, or maybe collapses altogether? What are you doing, suddenly discovering your home is worth a fraction of what it was or that you can't really afford to send your kids to college anymore or that you can't get a loan for your small business and your credit rating is suddenly meaningless? Get away from the screen, citizen. Remember: It's just numbers. This isn't about you, whiner.

Here's a fun number: Nearly $40 billion in profit for Exxon in 2006, the biggest of any U.S. company, ever. By the way, the price of a barrel of oil just jumped its highest amount in history -- $25 in a single day -- thanks to all the violent instability in the U.S. market. Turns out, given the bizarre machinations of How It's All Set Up, the energy markets are loving this meltdown, and Bush's oil cronies (among others) are getting richer than ever. Go figure.

It just keeps going. The Dow, for the first time in history, moved more than 350 points four days in a row. The value of the U.S. dollar just sank even lower, which now means a cup of coffee in Paris will cost the average American about $147. And what about the $600 billion Congress is about to rubber-stamp for Pentagon spending and Homeland Security? Best not to think about it. They pray you don't.

Here's an idea: Maybe we can force all the oil companies to bail out the U.S. economy, given how, thanks to Bush administration's unchecked rapaciousness and Dick Cheney's oily sneer, their total profits for this year will likely outstrip the combined value of the "war" on drugs, terrorism, God, country, megachurch DVDs, and your children's, children's future. You think?

I know, it's all a bit confusing for the everyday plebe, all these massive sums and baffling lexicons of financial jargon and sullen overlords of finance and government slapping each other around like nervous children. Best you don't pay too much attention. Best you don't ponder too deeply much how all those numbers intertwine and feed into and off of each other.

And best you don't contemplate the biggest number of all, the one that sums up the overall odds that you, the average wary Bush-ravaged tax-paying American, will emerge largely unscathed from this historic debacle.

That number? Oh, about one in a million.
(c) 2008 Mark Morford's Notes & Errata column appears every Wednesday and Friday on SF Gate and in the Datebook section of the San Francisco Chronicle. To get on the e-mail list for this column, please click here and remove one article of clothing!

Bad Business
On behalf of all the poor and near-poor who "litter our streets"
By Mary Pitt

So Wall Street is in a panic! So the trillion-dollar corporations are in danger of going broke! So the big-time investors are in danger of losing their silk shirts! So what? We have been told for years that we must not be cry-babies who go bawling to the government for handouts to help us through the bad times; we must bear up under the load of "personal responsibility;" when our jobs disappear into the "global economy" we must "re-train," mechanical engineers need to become truck drivers, automobile designers to learn to put roofs on house, and secretaries and bookkeepers should go to school to "re-train" for jobs as motel maids!

We are not moved by the plight of the moguls leaving broken corporations equipped with only their golden parachutes. We have been the victims of their business practices for a very long time and now that their unethical practice has turned inward on them, the only message that we have for them is that they need to accept "personal responsibility" for their own plight. They victimized us by slick, fast-talking salesmen convincing us that we could really afford to buy that new car or the fine home. Where were they when the repo-men came and drove away in our car? Where were they when our belongings were put into the street while we searched desperately for a homeless shelter? So now they're in danger of losing everything? So let them!

In this wonderful country where we are told that the reason three-quarters of the world hate us "because we're free" and we have the right to make our own choices, why are we denying the mega-corporations the right to fail? We are told that if these mega-banks go bankrupt there will be no available credit. So what? Our credit has been ruined long ago and nobody is borrowing except our government.

These are the same people who were given large tax cuts in order to "encourage them to develop jobs." They did, in China, Indonesia, and any number of other nations where cheap labor can be found! For over seven years, out lives have become more and more constricted by the necessity of working multiple low-paying jobs in order to feed our families and buy the poor-quality Chinese-made clothing from Wal-Mart and pay the rent on our sub-standard housing.

But we pray! Oh, yes, and our constant prayer is that our families stay healthy because one illness of any of them can mean bankruptcy court, if we haven't already been there. Insurance is totally out of reach for the working family and there is no real hope in the offing. Senator McCain wants to give us a tax credit of $5,000 per year per family. He has no idea that the amount will not touch the cost of insurance for a family and how do we pay it for a year before we get the tax credit with our income tax refund? Senator Obama wants to require us to carry insurance but will offer some "assistance," leaving us to pay the balance of the premiums. With what? The food we need to feed our children and try to keep them healthy?

But those mega-banks are important! Everybody is a stock-holder through their 401-K or in some other fashion. Wrong again! You don't get a 401-K when you are doing non-union manual labor. If you are lucky enough to have a "good" job in some sort of factory, there may be a 401-K plan but the average laborer has no idea where that money goes but are happy to have a "kitty" from which they can borrow when things get tight. In any event, it is not a "big deal" in their financial picture but just another deduction from their paycheck like the ever-present income tax.

There is not one candidate in the major parties who has any real empathy for the "lower-class" of American worker or those retirees who have to live on their Social Security stipend. When their zillionaire buddies screw up their businesses and are in danger of going broke, there is all sorts of sympathy and we are told that we should pay still more taxes to bail them out. Why should we?

They do not care about us, not even in their professions of their own piety and faith. Christian concern for the less fortunate is simply not a factor in their privileged lives. We are the poor fools who clean their crud and carry their fiscal obligations on our frail shoulders while they live the life of Reilly. We are allowed to go through the motions of democracy periodically, purportedly to choose our leadership, but it seems the choices are really made before we even have a chance to vote and, we strongly suspect that choice is made before we have a chance to express our preference.

The wealthy all tell us that capitalism and the free market are essential to our national well-being. If that be so, it is time that they learned that, when they victimize the less fortunate by granting and trading loans for money that they know, up front, that the debtors can never repay, and when those business practices come back and kick then in their fat hind quarters, they have no right to turn to those same victimized people to bail out their sorry behinds and put them back on their feet.
(c) 2008 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 mpitt@cox.net

The Dead Letter Office...

Heil Bush,

Dear Unterfuhrer Westmoreland,

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, Vidkun Quisling and last year's winner Volksjudge Anthony (Fat Tony) Kennedy.

Without your lock-step calling for the repeal of the Constitution, your support of our two coup d'etats, your calling Barry "Uppity" hence putting that darkie in his place, Iraq and these many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Rethuglican Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Iron Cross 1st class with diamond clusters presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Bush at a gala celebration at "der Wolf's Lair," formally "Rancho de Bimbo," on 10-31-2008. We salute you Herr Westmoreland, Sieg Heil!

Vice Fuhrer Cheney

Heil Bush

David Brooks Thinks He Sees A "New Establishment" To Run Economic Policy
By Glenn Greenwald

In his New York Times column this morning, David Brooks announces that as a result of the financial crisis, "a new center and a new establishment is emerging" that will rule as a Benevolent Oligarchy over economic policy and will be comprised of Old Wise Men from Wall Street:

Once, there was a financial elite in this country. During the first two-thirds of the 20th century, middle-aged men with names like Mellon and McCloy led Wall Street firms, corporate boards and white-shoe law firms and occasionally emerged to serve in government.

Starting in the 1960s, that cohesive elite began to fall apart. Liberal interest groups took control of Democratic economic policy. Supply-side think tankers and Southern conservatives dominated the GOP. . . .

Year followed year, and the idea of a cohesive financial establishment seemed increasingly like a thing of the past. . . . No more. Over the past week, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Tim Geithner of the New York Fed have nearly revived it. At its base, the turmoil wracking the world financial markets is a crisis of confidence. What Paulson, et al. have tried to do is reassert authority -- the sort that used to be wielded by the Mellons and Rockefellers and other rich men in private clubs.

Inspired in part by Paul Volcker, Nicholas Brady and Eugene Ludwig, and announced last week, the Paulson plan is a pure establishment play. It would assign nearly unlimited authority to a small coterie of policy makers. It does not rely on any system of checks and balances, but on the wisdom and public spiritedness of those in charge. . . .

So we have arrived at one of those moments. The global financial turmoil has pulled nearly everybody out of their normal ideological categories. The pressure of reality has compelled new thinking about the relationship between government and the economy. And lo and behold, a new center and a new establishment is emerging.

The Paulson rescue plan is one chapter. But there will be others. . . .The country will not turn to free-market supply-siders. Nor will it turn to left-wing populists. It will turn to the safe heads from the investment banks. For Republicans, people like Paulson. For Democrats, the guiding lights will be those establishment figures who advised Barack Obama last week -- including Volcker, Robert Rubin and Warren Buffett. . . . We're entering an era of the educated establishment, in which government acts to create a stable -- and often oligarchic -- framework for capitalist endeavor.

One of the most enduring and intense pundit fetishes is the fantasy that there is a small, elite group of trans-partisan, centrist, responsible Establishment Wise Men -- the Ultimate Safe and Loving Daddy Figures -- who can ride into any political crisis and rescue the warring partisan masses with their Sober and Powerful Integrity. We just need to call upon them for help, cede them absolute power, trust in them, step aside, and watch the Magic that is Created as a result of what Brooks longingly describes as "the wisdom and public spiritedness of those in charge." Stripped of his neutral observer rhetoric, that's all Brooks is "predicting" -- more accurately, yearning for -- here.

But beyond that, I'd love to know who has been running economic policy up until now if it wasn't these Wise Men from Wall Street? When listing our New Economic Overlords, Brooks identifies the very people from both parties who have been running economic policy for the last decades -- people like Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, former Treasury Secretaries Nicholas Brady and Robert Rubin, current Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Tim Geithner of the New York Fed. If that is the New Wise Establishment who will save us, who exactly has been dictating economic policy before now?

The central fact -- which Brooks' column aggressively and, by design, suppresses -- is that economic policy in this country has been dictated by Wall Street for the past two decades because Wall Street (meaning the firms and their clients) owns and funds both political parties. The face of Clinton's economic policy of the 1990s, Robert Rubin, had exactly the same background as Hank Paulson, the Treasury Secretary who presided over the current crisis -- former Chairmen of Goldman Sachs. These aren't Sober Traditionalists who shunned the complex derivatives which Brooks blames for this crisis, nor are they part of the "liberal interest groups [that] took control of Democratic economic policy." They're people who became wildly rich as Goldman Sachs led the way in staking the nation's economic health on those reckless instruments.

Brooks' announcement that we're going to vest ultimate authority in them as the New Wise Establishment to save us from our economic policy crises is like announcing that we're going to turn to a New Wise Foreign Policy Establishment composed of Don Rumsfeld, Ken Pollack, Mike O'Hanlon, and the American Enterprise Institute to save us from our foreign policy woes. The most absurd practice in American political life is throwing ourselves into the arms of the very people who have caused our crises, and this is what Brooks is advocating and hoping for here (and, as Howie Kurtz quotes me as explaining in his profile of David Brooks in yesterday's Washington Post, this status-quo-perpetuation is essentially Brooks' defining mentality in the foreign policy arena as well; it's the establishment-subservient function he serves first and foremost).

Several people, including me, wrote yesterday about many of the cynical motives behind opposition on the Right to the Paulson plan, but there is an element of authenticity to that opposition as well. One can look at these economic disputes in terms of "Republican v. Democrat" but, when it comes to economic policy, that is often unhelpful because the core leadership factions of both parties are funded and controlled by the same corporate interests. The same framework shapes foreign policy as well (before being named Director of National Security, Mike McConnell's principal goal in life was to maximize profits from the privatization of the surveillance state, policies to which he also single-mindedly devoted himself as DNI). Often, and certainly now, the more relevant dichotomy is "Plutocrat (or 'kleptocrat') v. Populist," and there are angry populists in the rank-and-file of both parties -- meaning the ordinary voters -- who haven't shared in the very limited and increasingly unequal prosperity created by corporate control of our Government.

This was one of the central arguments of David Sirota's book -- Uprising: An Unauthorized Tour of the Populist Revolt Scaring Wall Street and Washington: namely, that while cultural wedge issues have divided ordinary American on the Left and Right, there is a growing, angry populism among both factions against the dominant Washington establishment elite that is so transparently running the Federal Government on behalf of the tiny group of corporate elite which funds and owns them. The backlash against the Paulson plan on both the Left and Right is a function of that same anger and resentment.

That important dichotomy is illustrated by this list in Roll Call of the 50 Wealthiest Members of Congress -- evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, composed of many of the most influential and corporate-friendly leaders of both parties (led by many of the key bipartisan enablers of telecom amnesty), and heavily invested in Wall Street. Far more significant is the fact that corporate America funds and thus owns the leading factions of both parties and has long controlled what they do. That's what makes it so bizarre -- so Orwellian -- to read about David Brooks' alleged visions of a New Wise Economic Establishment composed of the very same Wall Street leaders who have been running our economic policy for the last two decades. If there is one thing that's not "new," it's turning over our economic policy to the whims of the Wise Old Men of Wall Street.__

UPDATE: On the same Op-Ed page today, one finds these indisputable facts in Bob Herbert's column:

Does anyone think it's just a little weird to be stampeded into a $700 billion solution to the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression by the very people who brought us the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression? . . .

And the people who always pretended to know better, who should have known better, the mortgage hucksters and the gilt-edged, high-rolling, helicopter-flying Wall Street financiers, kept pushing this bad paper higher and higher up the pyramid without looking at the fine print themselves, not bothering to understand it, until all the crap came raining down on the rest of us. . . .

Mr. Paulson himself was telling us during the summer that the economy was sound, that its long-term fundamentals were "strong," that growth would rebound by the end of the year, when most of the slump in housing prices would be over.

He has been wrong every step of the way, right up until early last week, about the severity of the economic crisis.

David Brooks' pretense that the very same people who did this should now be vested with oligarchical power as the "New Establishment" is indescribably deceitful.

UPDATE II: What the David Brookses of the World fear most -- the reason they're so desperate to convince people to put their faith in omnipotent, benevolent rulers -- is this.
(c) 2008 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.

Yes, I Can
Refusing to hesitate isn't a primordial truth of wise governance
By Sam Harris

Let me confess that I was genuinely unnerved by Sarah Palin's performance at the Republican convention. Given her audience and the needs of the moment, I believe Governor Palin's speech was the most effective political communication I have ever witnessed. Here, finally, was a performer who-being maternal, wounded, righteous and sexy-could stride past the frontal cortex of every American and plant a three-inch heel directly on that limbic circuit that ceaselessly intones "God and country." If anyone could make Christian theocracy smell like apple pie, Sarah Palin could.

Then came Palin's first television interview with Charles Gibson. I was relieved to discover, as many were, that Palin's luster can be much diminished by the absence of a teleprompter. Still, the problem she poses to our political process is now much bigger than she is. Her fans seem inclined to forgive her any indiscretion short of cannibalism. However badly she may stumble during the remaining weeks of this campaign, her supporters will focus their outrage upon the journalist who caused her to break stride, upon the camera operator who happened to capture her fall, upon the television network that broadcast the good lady's misfortune-and, above all, upon the "liberal elites" with their highfalutin assumption that, in the 21st century, only a reasonably well-educated person should be given command of our nuclear arsenal.

The point to be lamented is not that Sarah Palin comes from outside Washington, or that she has glimpsed so little of the earth's surface (she didn't have a passport until last year), or that she's never met a foreign head of state. The point is that she comes to us, seeking the second most important job in the world, without any intellectual training relevant to the challenges and responsibilities that await her. There is nothing to suggest that she even sees a role for careful analysis or a deep understanding of world events when it comes to deciding the fate of a nation. In her interview with Gibson, Palin managed to turn a joke about seeing Russia from her window into a straight-faced claim that Alaska's geographical proximity to Russia gave her some essential foreign-policy experience. Palin may be a perfectly wonderful person, a loving mother and a great American success story-but she is a beauty queen/sports reporter who stumbled into small-town politics, and who is now on the verge of stumbling into, or upon, world history.

The problem, as far as our political process is concerned, is that half the electorate revels in Palin's lack of intellectual qualifications. When it comes to politics, there is a mad love of mediocrity in this country. "They think they're better than you!" is the refrain that (highly competent and cynical) Republican strategists have set loose among the crowd, and the crowd has grown drunk on it once again. "Sarah Palin is an ordinary person!" Yes, all too ordinary.

We have all now witnessed apparently sentient human beings, once provoked by a reporter's microphone, saying things like, "I'm voting for Sarah because she's a mom. She knows what it's like to be a mom." Such sentiments suggest an uncanny (and, one fears, especially American) detachment from the real problems of today. The next administration must immediately confront issues like nuclear proliferation, ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (and covert wars elsewhere), global climate change, a convulsing economy, Russian belligerence, the rise of China, emerging epidemics, Islamism on a hundred fronts, a defunct United Nations, the deterioration of American schools, failures of energy, infrastructure and Internet security ... the list is long, and Sarah Palin does not seem competent even to rank these items in order of importance, much less address any one of them.

Palin's most conspicuous gaffe in her interview with Gibson has been widely discussed. The truth is, I didn't much care that she did not know the meaning of the phrase "Bush doctrine." And I am quite sure that her supporters didn't care, either. Most people view such an ambush as a journalistic gimmick. What I do care about are all the other things Palin is guaranteed not to know-or will be glossing only under the frenzied tutelage of John McCain's advisers. What doesn't she know about financial markets, Islam, the history of the Middle East, the cold war, modern weapons systems, medical research, environmental science or emerging technology? Her relative ignorance is guaranteed on these fronts and most others, not because she was put on the spot, or got nervous, or just happened to miss the newspaper on any given morning. Sarah Palin's ignorance is guaranteed because of how she has spent the past 44 years on earth.

I care even more about the many things Palin thinks she knows but doesn't: like her conviction that the Biblical God consciously directs world events. Needless to say, she shares this belief with mil-lions of Americans-but we shouldn't be eager to give these people our nuclear codes, either. There is no question that if President McCain chokes on a spare rib and Palin becomes the first woman president, she and her supporters will believe that God, in all his majesty and wisdom, has brought it to pass. Why would God give Sarah Palin a job she isn't ready for? He wouldn't. Everything happens for a reason. Palin seems perfectly willing to stake the welfare of our country-even the welfare of our species-as collateral in her own personal journey of faith. Of course, McCain has made the same unconscionable wager on his personal journey to the White House.

In speaking before her church about her son going to war in Iraq, Palin urged the congregation to pray "that our national leaders are sending them out on a task that is from God; that's what we have to make sure we are praying for, that there is a plan, and that plan is God's plan." When asked about these remarks in her interview with Gibson, Palin successfully dodged the issue of her religious beliefs by claiming that she had been merely echoing the words of Abraham Lincoln. The New York Times later dubbed her response "absurd." It was worse than absurd; it was a lie calculated to conceal the true character of her religious infatuations. Every detail that has emerged about Palin's life in Alaska suggests that she is as devout and literal-minded in her Christian dogmatism as any man or woman in the land. Given her long affiliation with the Assemblies of God church, Palin very likely believes that Biblical prophecy is an infallible guide to future events and that we are living in the "end times." Which is to say she very likely thinks that human history will soon unravel in a foreordained cataclysm of war and bad weather. Undoubtedly Palin believes that this will be a good thing-as all true Christians will be lifted bodily into the sky to make merry with Jesus, while all nonbelievers, Jews, Methodists and other rabble will be punished for eternity in a lake of fire. Like many Pentecostals, Palin may even imagine that she and her fellow parishioners enjoy the power of prophecy themselves. Otherwise, what could she have meant when declaring to her congregation that "God's going to tell you what is going on, and what is going to go on, and you guys are going to have that within you?"

You can learn something about a person by the company she keeps. In the churches where Palin has worshiped for decades, parishioners enjoy "baptism in the Holy Spirit," "miraculous healings" and "the gift of tongues." Invariably, they offer astonishingly irrational accounts of this behavior and of its significance for the entire cosmos. Palin's spiritual colleagues describe themselves as part of "the final generation," engaged in "spiritual warfare" to purge the earth of "demonic strongholds." Palin has spent her entire adult life immersed in this apocalyptic hysteria. Ask yourself: Is it a good idea to place the most powerful military on earth at her disposal? Do we actually want our leaders thinking about the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy when it comes time to say to the Iranians, or to the North Koreans, or to the Pakistanis, or to the Russians or to the Chinese: "All options remain on the table?"

It is easy to see what many people, women especially, admire about Sarah Palin. Here is a mother of five who can see the bright side of having a child with Down syndrome and still find the time and energy to govern the state of Alaska. But we cannot ignore the fact that Palin's impressive family further testifies to her dogmatic religious beliefs. Many writers have noted the many shades of conservative hypocrisy on view here: when Jamie Lynn Spears gets pregnant, it is considered a symptom of liberal decadence and the breakdown of family values; in the case of one of Palin's daughters, however, teen pregnancy gets reinterpreted as a sign of immaculate, small-town fecundity. And just imagine if, instead of the Palins, the Obama family had a pregnant, underage daughter on display at their convention, flanked by her black boyfriend who "intends" to marry her. Who among conservatives would have resisted the temptation to speak of "the dysfunction in the black community?"

Teen pregnancy is a misfortune, plain and simple. At best, it represents bad luck (both for the mother and for the child); at worst, as in the Palins' case, it is a symptom of religious dogmatism. Governor Palin opposes sex education in schools on religious grounds. She has also fought vigorously for a "parental consent law" in the state of Alaska, seeking full parental dominion over the reproductive decisions of minors. We know, therefore, that Palin believes that she should be the one to decide whether her daughter carries her baby to term. Based on her stated position, we know that she would deny her daughter an abortion even if she had been raped. One can be forgiven for doubting whether Bristol Palin had all the advantages of 21st-century family planning-or, indeed, of the 21st century.

We have endured eight years of an administration that seemed touched by religious ideology. Bush's claim to Bob Woodward that he consulted a "higher Father" before going to war in Iraq got many of us sitting upright, before our attention wandered again to less ethereal signs of his incompetence. For all my concern about Bush's religious beliefs, and about his merely average grasp of terrestrial reality, I have never once thought that he was an over-the-brink, Rapture-ready extremist. Palin seems as though she might be the real McCoy. With the McCain team leading her around like a pet pony between now and Election Day, she can be expected to conceal her religious extremism until it is too late to do anything about it. Her supporters know that while she cannot afford to "talk the talk" between now and Nov. 4, if elected, she can be trusted to "walk the walk" until the Day of Judgment.

What is so unnerving about the candidacy of Sarah Palin is the degree to which she represents-and her supporters celebrate-the joyful marriage of confidence and ignorance. Watching her deny to Gibson that she had ever harbored the slightest doubt about her readiness to take command of the world's only superpower, one got the feeling that Palin would gladly assume any responsibility on earth:

"Governor Palin, are you ready at this moment to perform surgery on this child's brain?"

"Of course, Charlie. I have several boys of my own, and I'm an avid hunter."

"But governor, this is neurosurgery, and you have no training as a surgeon of any kind."

"That's just the point, Charlie. The American people want change in how we make medical decisions in this country. And when faced with a challenge, you cannot blink."

The prospects of a Palin administration are far more frightening, in fact, than those of a Palin Institute for Pediatric Neurosurgery. Ask yourself: how has "elitism" become a bad word in American politics? There is simply no other walk of life in which extraordinary talent and rigorous training are denigrated. We want elite pilots to fly our planes, elite troops to undertake our most critical missions, elite athletes to represent us in competition and elite scientists to devote the most productive years of their lives to curing our diseases. And yet, when it comes time to vest people with even greater responsibilities, we consider it a virtue to shun any and all standards of excellence. When it comes to choosing the people whose thoughts and actions will decide the fates of millions, then we suddenly want someone just like us, someone fit to have a beer with, someone down-to-earth-in fact, almost anyone, provided that he or she doesn't seem too intelligent or well educated.

I believe that with the nomination of Sarah Palin for the vice presidency, the silliness of our politics has finally put our nation at risk. The world is growing more complex-and dangerous-with each passing hour, and our position within it growing more precarious. Should she become president, Palin seems capable of enacting policies so detached from the common interests of humanity, and from empirical reality, as to unite the entire world against us. When asked why she is qualified to shoulder more responsibility than any person has held in human history, Palin cites her refusal to hesitate. "You can't blink," she told Gibson repeatedly, as though this were a primordial truth of wise governance. Let us hope that a President Palin would blink, again and again, while more thoughtful people decide the fate of civilization.
(c) 2008 Sam Harris is the author of "The End Of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason" and "Letter to a Christian Nation."

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Steve Kelley ~~~

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To End On A Happy Note...

I Kill Therefore I Am
By Phil Ochs

Meet the king of cowboys, he rides a pale pony
He fights the bad boys brings them to their knees
He patrols the highways from the air
He keeps the country safe from long hair
I am the masculine American man
I kill therefore I am.

I don't like the black man, for he doesn't know his place
Take the back of my hand or I'll spray you with my mace
I'm as brave as any man can be
I find my courage through chemistry
I am the masculine American man
I kill therefore I am.

I don't like the students now, they don't have no respect
They don't like to work now, I think I'll wring their necks
They call me pig, although I'm underpaid
I'll show those faggots that I'm not afraid
I am the masculine American man
I kill therefore I am.

Farewell to the gangsters we don't need them anymore
We've got the police force, they're the ones who break the law
He's got a gun and he's a hater
He shoots first, he shoots later
I am the masculine American man
I kill therefore I am.
(c) 1968/2008 Phil Ochs

Have You Seen This...

Massive US Naval Armada Heads For Iran

Parting Shots...

Last night, I interviewed Sarah Palin for "The No Sin Zone." And it didn't go well. Frankly, the ratio of pit-bull to Mary Kay was shockingly steep. Coming off her smarmily inept ABC interview with "Charlie" (a name now welded to my consciousness, as if by a nervously wielded pneumatic rivet gun), I suspect Sarah thought she was in for the type of pragmatic obliviousness that springs from a "Winning First" approach to facts. And the notion that reality should spring from party politics, not the other way around. Truly, it's been a long time -- OK, 4 years! -- since a politician so ruthlessly benefited from "values voters" turning a carefully choreographed once-censorious, now-blind eye to any value other than not spending the next four years with the name of a loser on their bumper.

Fortunately, I have the gift of discerning coy sins less careful Christians -- and my inattentive Savior -- routinely overlook. And as founder of Bringing Integrity To Christian Homemakers, one sin pings my values radar louder than an incoming sortie of foul smelling demons: Narcissistic parents who irresponsibly spit out babies they have neither the interest nor time to care about. That's the problem with people who regard birth as simply the end of a pregnancy, rather than the beginning of a life. Birth marks the start of work, not a self-congratulatory furlough. Absent through either a preoccupation with stoking a ravenous blast furnace of an ego (Mrs. Palin) or simply because he'd rather be fishing (Mr. Palin), the Palins selfishly make a shambles of their children's lives. Drugs, sex, alcohol, vendettas and arrests! Honestly, it all sounds a bit like Gossip Girl, only in a pioneer setting with a wardrobe by Sears.

What is most telling about all this is not that abandoned teenagers sometimes make bad choices, but that they are not always the most irresponsible people in the house. Mr. & Mrs. Palin responded to missteps by teenage strangers in their house by shipping them both off to live with someone with more time or patience for undergoing the bother of raising children. The daughter was sent to live with an aunt. And the son was jetted off to live with a family in Michigan! Honestly, do any of you believe American jobs would be safe under a President Palin, someone who outsources even her own parenting?

Well, the gals at B.I.T.C.H. don't go for that slapdash approach to the well being of America's children! We are rather concerned that Sarah is running as a "Hockey Mom" and a "PTA Mom," but when anyone dares to look into what type of "Mom" she actually is, we are told that her children's lives -- and the trail of discarded beer and OxyContin bottles behind them -- are private, personal and not to be used for politics. That is, of course, unless their "Me First!" mother needs them as casting call props, either in photo ops or her endless, shamelessly opportunistic reminders that her eldest son has enlisted -- and they had a "ceremony" in case the point was lost. Given the arresting circumstances that provoked such an enlistment (probably greeted with the same enthusiasm Bristol's boyfriend is now regarding being drafted into marriage), you would think Sarah would at least have the grace to blush each time she merchandises either her parenthood or patriotism.

So Close to Jesus, I Can Flirt Because He Knows it Isn't Going Anywhere,

Mrs. Betty Bowers
America's Best Christian


The Gross National Debt

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Zeitgeist The Movie...

Issues & Alibis Vol 8 # 37 (c) 09/26/2008

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